The Etiquette of Blogging


So, I’ve been around on the blogging circuit for a while (not just this particularly blog, but others I started and then interested fizzled out), and I am curious about the etiquette surrounding blogging.


I genuinely like reading other people’s blogs, and rather narcissistically, I particularly enjoy the ones that are similar to mine; those that relate to me. When someone’s words spark some kind of recognition, or resonate with me on a deeper level, I find them therapeutic; they make me feel as though the path I am treading isn’t as lonely as I had once envisaged. I also love the hilarious posts. There is nothing better than accidentally stumbling across a blog that makes you laugh out loud, and leaves you gagging for more. When someone’s blog has touched me on some level (even if it is just my funny-bone), I like to let people know. I am not an ass-licker (which has been implied in the past – not here, just in life, in general); it’s just that I am as honest as the day is long, and will let people know, which has been misconstrued in the past. That said, the omnipresent conflict and contradiction that is my life, and which is also starting to form a pattern throughout my posts, would prevent me from being honest about my negative feelings; I would never leave a comment saying something along the lines of “that was crap…don’t give up your day job”. That’s me: always aware of other’s feelings, even to the detriment of my own at times.


So, when people have spoken to me, inspired me, or tickled me, I like to let them know. However, I follow very few people. This is for a number of reasons: firstly, following someone means that I genuinely like who they seem to be, what their posts are about, and that I feel a connection, on some (it could just be minor) level. This to me, is what blogging is about: sharing my thoughts and views to be appreciated by like-minded people, and vice versa. However, recently, I’ve noticed that I have followers that have zero in common with me, and can only assume that they are doing so to get a reciprocal follow. This is all well and good, and there is nothing wrong in trying to get your blog out there, especially if there is a business attached somewhere along the line. And let’s be honest here, there are not many of us that write blogs just for our own entertainment; we write for others to read. However, publicity and business reasons aside, shouldn’t we reserve a following status to those that we connect with, and enjoying reading, rather than randomly following people we don’t give a monkey’s about? I would personally appreciate a like or comment much more; that way, there is some visible sign that my posts have actually been read.


I see it this way: if I make it through a whole post, they get a like. Sometimes, if I am feeling kind, they will still get a like even if I only make it to the three-quarter mark (sort of like a “C” for effort). I think that if they take the time to write it, and have done enough to attract me to the point of reading, then they deserve some recognition. I also leave comments fairly often; however, these need to be honest and heart-felt (we’re back to that connection again), and not just written to let people know I have been there, so that I can presumably entice them to come and check me out. Leaving comments also has a lot to do with the fact that I am a know-it-all, and find it very difficult to refrain from imparting pearls of wisdom, whether they are invited or not!


I am easily pleased; it takes very little to stroke my self-esteem. One or two positive comments and I am floating. Mind you, that’s not limited just to writing, it is my life in general. I need to be loved; need to be praised; need to be appreciated. However, I am not so naïve to believe that every person following me likes my posts, or is even reading them. The tech guy with the blog about creating robots out of old lawnmowers is not interested in my self-analysis, angst and rants against the world, is he? Or maybe he is. Maybe he is a tech guy with the blog about creating robots out of old lawnmowers that is also a HSP. Who knows?


Who cares, really? I think the point of this post is to ponder why others are liking and following others. It’s a shame really to think that they might just be doing it for their own benefit; but isn’t it also quite inevitable? And really, as long as you are doing what you want, what you think is right, is there any need to worry about what others are up to?

And the funny thing is, if I am right, most of my followers won’t ever know I feel this way! Priceless!


Customer Service: You’re in the wrong job, mate.

If there is one thing that frustrates me above all others, it’s poor customer service. And after spending 25 plus years in the industry, I think I am experienced enough to know when I am receiving it. When you are paid to deal with people in a customer service capacity, you are expected to behave in a certain manner; there are times when a caring smile, and a listening ear can avert major catastrophes. You are also expected to deal with unpleasant situations: although it isn’t nice to grovel to the guy who wants to rip your face off, it is accepted as being part and parcel of the job.


I live in Sweden, a land where customer service is an alien concept. There are no smiles when you approach someone, and no warmth in their voice when they greet you. They are so caught up in mind-numbingly frustrating bureaucracy, that they often don’t know their arm from their elbow. Everything in Sweden is laid out: rules upon rules, upon rules. Nobody, it seems, is ever allowed to waive those rules, or God forbid, use their own initiative or common sense!


Take my experience today when attempting to get a Swedish driving licence. All the paperwork had been completed and submitted, along with my UK licence. The next step was to go to their offices to have my photo taken, and sign the paperwork. Simple, right? Well, yes, maybe it would be if my passport wasn’t too old. Too old? Don’t they mean my birth-date? That I would agree with. And by too old, I don’t mean expired; I mean that eight years have passed since it was issued (on a ten-year passport). And that, my friends, is a problem in Sweden.


We were already kind of clued up to this, as paperwork we received the other day did mention something about it; but we thought, how can they refuse it? A passport is the only form of ID they will accept from a non-Swede; they have my old UK driving licence, so, what else could we do? I will admit that on the drive there, I did kind of work myself up into how I would react if this was the case; if our journey was wasted. And you’ve guessed it; it was.


Now, let me say something: because I spent so many years under the barrage of face-to-face personal attacks from customers, I know how to behave when I am one. But let me also tell you something else: a stony-faced, old bint that looks us up and down before saying hello is not exactly going to set the right tone for things to go smoothly. Customer service rule number one broken: always smile at your customer. She looks at my passport, asks my bloke who he is (he was my translator – I don’t need one, but I get scared when forced to speak Swedish, so he is my safety blanket), and then goes off. We look at each other. We know what is coming. She returns and yes; we were right! Absolutely, NO, CAN, DO!


She tells us that but my passport is not valid for their purposes (despite it being valid enough for me to enter and leave any country in the world), and when my bloke questioned it, she’d just said “sorry” in a way that you know she doesn’t give a rat’s ass. Rule number two broken: always show genuine concern.


So, it is fair to say I showed my frustration and irritation. I did not shout, and I was not rude. However, one sentence in, she stops me by flapping her arms around like she is warding off evil spirits, to tell me that I need to calm down, and that she is only trying to help me. Rule number three broken: never tell a customer that IS calm, just irritated, to well, calm down.


She once more asks who my partner is. Was he a Swedish citizen? If so, he could vouch for me. Vouch that my passport with me clearly on the photo, with accompanying documentation, also with my picture and name on them, really was me. Just in case there was any doubt. Just in case I was an international terrorist under the very clever disguise of an incredibly normal 46-year-old mum of two. So, all is not lost. Although we have to fill out additional forms, and return again next week, I will finally be granted the utmost honour of having a Swedish driving licence.


I love living in Sweden; there are tons of positives, but their failure at providing any kind of customer service is monumental (and well documented; it’s not just the disgruntled British woman over here in the corner). I would love for that lady to be subjected to some of the things I have had thrown at me (figuratively speaking, of course – unless you count my time spent as an overseas holiday rep) in my customer service career, if she thinks me raising my voice ever-so-slightly is too much to handle. Part of the problem is that in Sweden, you are not allowed to show any outward signs of emotion in public. Nope. Against the law. Well, no, it isn’t illegal, just one of those things that everyone knows, but never speaks about. But, I am not Swedish. I am a fairly vocal Brit, who is willing to fight her corner against idiotic rules that make no sense.


The only thing is, that once my rush of indignation wore off, I started to feel guilty and slightly embarrassed. Although I didn’t do anything wrong (I asked my bloke at least thirty times, and he felt I wasn’t rude), my ridiculous HSP tendency is to want to please; I am a people-pleaser. Even under situations like this. And because there is one sour-faced puss that probably doesn’t like me (or my behaviour) very much, that makes me feel bad. Note my use of “that” rather than “her”. I always used to blame other people for how I felt. If someone said something to upset me, they made me feel bad. Until I read an article where it stated that nobody had the power to make you feel bad. Only you can allow that to happen. It’s true, and also very empowering.


Often my life feels very contradictory; a mass of absolute hypocrisy. Kind of like a battle between good and evil. In the above scenario, the good is the reasoning voice that tells me I behaved appropriately, that I was justified in being irritated, that I did nothing wrong; the lady was defensive from the word go, and that’s her issue, not mine. The evil one constantly harps back to old conflicts and hurt feelings, makes me question everything I do, and in this instance, tells me that I am a bad, bad person to feel any emotion slightly related to anger (this is a long convoluted story that I will save for another time).


Sometimes, it verges on amusing to observe this battle going on inside me. Especially when the good voice is triumphant, which is the case today!




All cheer for the NORMAL day….

If there is one marvel of motherhood, it is its pure resilience. It’s that maternal ability to shake off whatever has come before, regardless of how turbulent and upsetting, and face a brand-new day with a renewed vigour.

I guess it needs to be this way. You wouldn’t last long if you had the previous day’s woes hanging over your head, only to have a ton more added. You would soon be bowing down with the weight of it all, unable to function. I guess it is like labour in that respect. I know it is a cliché when people say that time is a healer, but with labour, it is; it is nature’s way of ensuring that we continue to reproduce. And I guess our ability to forget, to move past our previous failings, is nature’s way of making sure we carry on fighting to do the best we can as mums.

I have always been very good at gently packing away discarded emotions and events. Sometimes I slowly unwrap and examine them, but more often than not, I just leave them where they are. The guilt and pain I felt from my actions yesterday have not gone. They are still there. But they have been packaged carefully; neatly put away. I don’t need to kill myself with guilt; I don’t need to relive every second of what happened. I did that yesterday; and today is a new day. Today has to be a new day.

So, today has been good. I wouldn’t normally write about a good day (where’s the entertainment in that?), but I wanted to give my blog some balance; let you know that I am not really a knife-brandishing, crazy-eyed momma! Well, not every day, anyway.

Today has been normal. And in our over-stretched, stressful lives, who doesn’t occasionally welcome normal? My kids have bickered, but it was minimal. The sun shone, which was enjoyed.  We went for a walk and then ate a burger, which balanced healthy, with not so healthy. It was just a nice, normal day. My kids went to bed with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts. Well, okay, not really; we’re not the Waltons. But there were no temper tantrums (us or them), and there was a definite “ahh, look at him” moment, as we gazed wistfully through the door at our six year old, who’d fallen asleep as soon as his head had hit the pillow. That doesn’t happen every day. There’s usually an apprehensive look towards the door, and a furtive sneak down the stairs, all the while praying he is not going to shout “mummmmeeeeeee…..”

And better than all of that, there is no guilt. None. I have not experienced one nasty whiff of the pesky thing. Today is a rarity. It is an unusual evening when I don’t sit here and reflect, wondering if I could have done something differently. But not tonight! The joy! The relief! The freedom! So exhilarating that I am overdosing on exclamation marks! I know I am being silly, but there is so much truth in how much relief I feel, that it is, well, untrue.

Yesterday’s post was sombre. I know it cast me in a bad light; but it was real. This is me, warts and all. If being a HSP has given me one thing, it is the ability to be honest. An open-book, in all aspects of my life. Very contradictory, given that HSPs do not handle criticism well (or at all), and bearing my soul leaves me open to that. However, although I have a strong desire to be seen in a good light, I much prefer being viewed as who I really am.

And the bad days make the good days feel so much better. They make your triumphant moments (however small), feel so much more deserved. One day, I know I will look back on all this, and that every single sad, mad or just plain bad moment will be forgotten. I know that the only things I will remember are the smell of their hair, their tiny faces, and their special mummy hugs; just as it should be. So, in some really kind of perverse way, I find myself almost enjoying the bad times; wearing the rough days like a badge of honour. Proclaiming to the world that I’ve survived to love another day.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Smacking: Isn’t it time we evolved?

Let’s set the scene: you are the boss, and have several employees. One of those employees is repeatedly late. It irritates the life out of you, but despite several warnings, it doesn’t stop. One day, you just snap. Sick and tired of telling them that they need to get to work on time, but it falling on deaf ears, you lose it. You hit them. Instead of feeling remorse, you are proud of your actions, telling yourself (and anyone that will listen) that hitting your employees is the only way to instill, and achieve, respect.

Sound ridiculous? Yes, of course it does. It is not acceptable to behave in this manner, and what’s more; it’s illegal. However, in many households, this is exactly the scene being played out. For whatever reason, many parents believe that it is perfectly rational to smack their children; to exert their force, power and strength in a bid to get them to toe the line. Whichever way it’s dressed up, the bottom line is that parents who smack are hurting, both physically and mentally, the people they are entrusted to protect. How is inflicting pain on someone smaller, one that has absolutely no means to defend themselves, ever right or acceptable? And, in the playground, isn’t that referred to as bullying?

Many parents justify this unacceptable behaviour by proudly proclaiming that they were smacked, and it never did them any harm. Although it is true that parents who smack are more likely to have been smacked themselves, they are not repeating the actions of their own parents because they feel it is effective; instead, they are acting out repressed feelings, born from physical and psychological pain, repeating a pattern that was, in some cases, nothing short of traumatic. Although some shrug off their own experiences of physical punishment as nothing, there are many more accounts of how horrific it felt to be smacked as a child. For those parents who don’t consider the discipline they administer as being brutal; here’s an idea: sit down with your child and ask them how they feel about it, and you may be surprised by what you hear. Some parents even go so far as to say that their child is well-behaved because they are smacked. Here’s a newsflash: smacked children are not respectful; they are fearful. Hardly the same thing.

These days, child-psychology experts believe that smacking should be made illegal. Yet, many parents vehemently defend their right to discipline their child any way they see fit. But when this right allows them to hurt a defenceless child, surely we, as a society, need to step in? It’s a very, very grey area: one person’s discipline, is another person’s unnecessary force. How can it be regulated and controlled if everyone’s opinion of what appropriate discipline is, differs so much? The simple answer is that you can’t. Parents often smack when they are angry; unleashing their own frustrations on a child through physical discipline. If you are enraged, how can you safely and effectively punish your child? What’s to stop you from going that little bit too far one day, and seriously hurting them? The scary answer is: nothing.

Many countries have outlawed smacking; Sweden, for example, banned corporal punishment in 1979. Its inhabitants (including children) are generally well-behaved, respectful and polite individuals. They certainly haven’t suffered any obvious ill-effects of getting rid of ineffective, antiquated punishments. The UK and US are a long way behind: some parents in these countries wrongly consider that the child is their property; that they can do whatever they like with them. In the US, in particular, religious beliefs weigh heavily upon their decision to smack, with people acting upon ancient biblical sentiments, which proclaim that you must rule your child with an iron rod to achieve respect and good behaviour. Sadly, such deep-set conditioning is hard to eradicate.

Child behavioural experts categorically state that smacking is not a successful form of discipline, in fact, quite the contrary: smacking your child causes them to lose trust in you, and reduces effective communication. So many parents are totally misguided, believing that smacking instills respect, keeping children on the straight and narrow. However, research points to the opposite being true: children who are routinely smacked have serious issues with people in authority, both in childhood and as an adult. Medical professionals have also noted that children that are smacked are much more likely to be aggressive, which, when you think about it, is perfectly logical. Like breeds like. Additionally, children under two are totally unable to correlate the punishment with the crime, so they will be confused and scared if smacked.

On the surface, a smacked child may appear respectful and obedient; however, underneath, resentment bubbles. Repressed emotions caused by smacking can reap untold psychological harm, such as low self-esteem, depression and anti-social behaviour; and in the long run, damages the relationship you have with your child. Even more worrying, corporal punishment can prove detrimental to physiological health: extensive research shows that continued smacking irreversibly alters the brains of children, which can result in impaired speech and memory, and muscle control.

As a parent, it is our job to guide our children, not force them into submission. As a parent, don’t we cringe when our children fall over and injure themselves; or flinch at the thought of the playground bully hurting them? Of course we do. However, many still think it is perfectly acceptable to be the one inflicting pain, shame and embarrassment on their children.

So, I have a question for parents who smack: do you ever tell your children that it is wrong to hurt someone else (a sibling, for example)? If you do, then think of the message you are sending. It’s warped and damaging. It’s also hypocritical. Step up to the mark. Do your job properly and guide your child along their way, giving them the opportunity to develop into the well-adjusted, grounded adult you’d like them to be. Be forgiving of their mistakes, but gently show them where they could have done things differently. Be a role model, not an aggressor. And remember, your child is not you; they are their own person, with individual thoughts and beliefs.

For those parents who are in denial, unwilling to acknowledge the negative effects of physical punishment, you may be right; perhaps your child will come out unscathed and undamaged.

But, seriously. Do you really want to take that risk?

Mummy Guilt….

Like most mums (I am presuming), I suffer with a horrible affliction referred to as “mummy guilt”. When it comes, it settles like a heavy weight on my chest, causing my heart to ache. It makes me sit for hours contemplating where I could have done things differently; bludgeoning myself with my faults. If only I’d been a little less shouty, a little more reasonable. If only I could be a better mum. 

Today, I reacted in a way that caused my nine-year-old to be terrified of me. And yes, I mean terrified. My two boys are going through a phase where they are constantly fighting, often physical. They would argue black was white until the cows came home if we let them. The eldest tries to get the better of his six-year-old brother (which older sibling doesn’t?), and this morning, during an argument, he’d gone to get a knife and brandished it. Now, let me please stop and say that he doesn’t have any behavioural issues, is a relatively normal boy, but he is highly sensitive and sometimes finds it difficult to express irritation or anger appropriately. I know hand on heart that he would never use it, would never hurt his brother (or anyone else)and have a feeling that it involves one-up-man-ship more than anything. 

So, the day progresses with very little let-up in the bickering, and while upstairs, I hear them starting to fight physically. My youngest runs up screaming, saying his brother has a knife, that’s scared. I kind of lost it. I flew down the stairs and got hold of him so he couldn’t run away, took a knife from the shelf, and told him (okay….shouted) in no uncertain terms that YOU…DO…NOT….MESS….WITH….KNIVES…EVER! He started to cry, and I have never seen him look so scared. And it’s the look in his eyes that, nearly ten hours later, I can’t shake from my mind. 

Now, don’t get me wrong; I did not brandish the knife. I did not stick it near his face, and neither did I make any hint that I would use it on him (of course I didn’t). I just held it, and him (so he couldn’t escape). I am not justifying my actions, just explaining. I wanted him to know how scary it is when someone pulls a knife. I wanted him to know how much he was frightening his brother. And it worked.

During the first five minutes after, I felt almost victorious; thoughts of “he won’t do that again in a hurry” reverberated around my head. Then the pain that is mummy guilt kicked in. I think my problem is that I believe as parents, we should do everything in our power to protect our children. I feel very little guilt when they are punished fairly for any inappropriate actions. But when it goes as far as to literally terrify them, what then? Where do we draw the line at teaching our children a lesson? Is it okay to scare the life out of them so that they won’t repeat it? Or, as parents, should we behave like adults and calmly explain why it is not okay to get a knife? Well, a bit of both, I guess. And I suppose we can’t also discount the fact that I was trying to protect one of my children.

As I write this, I contemplate whether it will ever get a public viewing. This is really close to home for me, and very private. Telling the world of my failings (especially as a sensitive person), is hard. I don’t want to be judged. I don’t want people to think I am a horrible mum. Because, I tell you, you couldn’t say any worse than what I am already feeling.  I am sorry for getting cross (because had I stayed calm; I would have been able to deal with it more effectively, and consequently, wouldn’t feel like this), and I am sorry that I frightened my little boy. And although I don’t know you, I worry that you will think badly of me. But I find writing a release, and if one person can read this and identify, then hopefully, they won’t feel so alone (because that’s just how I am feeling right now).

In more lucid moments, I am able to acknowledge that I am a good mum; although, only in my own brain. Never out loud, or in public. Ever. I comfort my kids when they are sad or hurt; I stand up for them, and fight their corner; I don’t smack them or use any physical punishment; I try to guide them through life’s difficulties; and I would fall under a bus for them. I love them more than life itself. They ARE my life. But sometimes; I wonder if that is enough.

Since it happened, I have sat with him and talked it through calmly, explaining why I reacted the way I did. He gets it. I think. I told him that I was so sorry for scaring him, but that I was frightened he was going to do something silly; that I wanted him to realise how dangerous it was to hold a knife. I get how hypocritical my actions might seem, that I did the wrong thing, for the right reasons. He told me that he thought I was going to kill him. I can’t tell you how that makes me feel. I am not sure if he really did think that, but whatever, the pain is indescribable, and it torments me. I abhor violence. I try to teach my kids that it is not acceptable to hurt anyone else; yet he thought I was going to hurt him. Oh, man.

As mums, are we supposed to feel this bad? I am pretty sure my mum never felt any guilt. Or maybe she did, but just hid it well. It seems a fairly new phenomenon. Is it because we are more aware of how we can influence our children with our own behaviour? I don’t know. Are we supposed to second guess every decision or action we make? Are we supposed to become suffocated by the weight of guilt, crushed by insecurity over our actions? Sometimes I can’t breathe with the heaviness of all this. I worry about how my kids will turn out: will they be angry and bitter, or will they be happy and content? And more selfishly: will they still love me as much as they do now? I am so, so aware of the power we have over our children. How we can mould and manipulate them without even realising; how our actions can have deep-reaching, devastating consequences for them. Motherhood is a very hard burden to bear at times.

When I’ve got my rational head on, I am able to see that all of this is part and parcel of being a parent. It comes with the territory, and is to be expected. I once read an article that said that parents who second-guess themselves were usually doing much better than those that were  blasé, or confident in their abilities. Who knows? I do know that even women who have raised great kids had doubts when their children were small. My partner’s mum told me once that she never knew if she was doing the right thing, she just tried to do the best she could. She did very well with her two. Another mum once told me that she used to cry most nights when her kids had gone to bed, feeling guilty and wondering if she had been too harsh. Her adult son tells a completely different version of his childhood: he says he always felt loved and protected. He shares a deep, powerful love for his mum, and this is obvious to anyone who knows them. This is what gives me a glimmer of hope. This is what gives me inspiration when I am feeling demoralised and useless. You can feel like you are messing it up, but in reality, you are actually doing a fairly reasonable job. 

I just wish I could take that moment back; the moment that has replayed in my mind over, and over, and over again today. That moment when I utterly terrified my own child. If only I could do that.

But, I can’t. So, I need to do the next-best thing, and drag myself out of this guilt stupor; moving forward in the best way I can. Tomorrow is another day…..

A day in the life of a HSP…..

Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) certainly feels tough some days. 

Like today, for example. The whole female population is currently posting pictures of themselves on Facebook without make-up, to support and raise awareness for cancer. I can think of nothing worse than showing my bare face for all to see; which is good, because nobody has “nominated” me. 

I am sure that most people wouldn’t have given this another thought, other than possibly to feel relief that they haven’t been recruited to do it. However, I am not most people. I actually feel hurt. I’ve seen so many friends post their au natural look today, all giggly with girlie camaraderie over who they are going to force to go naked. But no-one has included me. 

I am guessing that for the non-highly sensitive people reading this, your first thought may be somewhere along the lines of “get a life!” Only, as a HSP, this is my life. At times, it is hard being this way. Every conversation (especially my part) is scrutinised and re-hashed; every reaction from others is observed and analysed; and every decision is questioned a million times, and then some. I am so aware of others, and their reaction to me, that it sometimes makes social interaction incredibly difficult; to make matters worse, HSPs are intensely intuitive, and I am rarely wrong when interpreting a reaction invisible to others. I know when people don’t like me; even if their words are to the contrary. And I always knew when boyfriends were cheating on me, even without any tangible evidence. 

Thankfully, life-experience allows me to throw reason into the mix sometimes: in the scenario above, I know that it doesn’t mean people hate me, or even dislike me. I am sure that my closest friends probably aren’t participating, and that’s why I have been missed. I know all of this to be true; however, that doesn’t stop the evil whispering voice in my ear saying: “They don’t like you. They don’t like you”. Which, to a HSP, is simply devastating. Our inherent need to be liked, accepted and praised over-shadows everything else. 

Over the years, I am sure many friends have mistaken my behaviour for self-absorption; that my need to be liked is vanity. It’s not that at all. It goes no deeper than a fundamental need to fit in; to be the same as everyone else; not to feel that there is something just a little skewed.  Research has discovered that the HSP trait is only found in around 15-20% of humans, which makes us a minority group. Therefore, when we feel different, it is because we are different.  

The most noticeable thing about a HSP is our ability to feel; every emotion we experience is on a grand scale. We don’t ever feel slightly angry, or mildly happy. Neither do we laugh demurely; it’s a full-on bull’s bellow, or nothing at all. We are the ones that cry at soppy adverts, feel the pain of a bereaved parent, and become enraged at social injustice. There are just no half measures; our dial is cranked up to maximum all the time. This is a mixed blessing. I love my empathy, the ability to really feel the emotions of someone else; I love the deep connection, and understanding I have with my children; I love my kind heart and generous spirit; and I love that I always take other people’s feelings into consideration. However, I don’t love how criticism feels like a knife through my heart; I don’t love how people can trample on my feelings without noticing; and I don’t love that it takes me forever to decide on something, only to regret my decision as soon as it is made. 

Things have come a long way since I was a child; back then, I was miss-labelled shy. HSPs are not shy; we are wary and careful, finding our way gently. We are not over-emotional or highly-strung either; names that were (and still are) pinned on us, screaming negativity. If anyone ever described you as highly-strung, it was not being used as a compliment. Yet, researchers say that HSP is a necessary trait factored into evolution, and that it plays a vital part in the success of our species. To survive, all animals need members of the group that are sensitive, cautious, and intuitive; those that deeply feel their surroundings. 

Sometimes living as a HSP is a curse; life would be easier caring just that little bit less about what people thought about me. And although I know I would be happier if I could move through life without doubting every single move I make; deep down, I know that I would not want to be any other way. 

Check out the HSP self-test and see if you are in my exclusive gang:







I’ve got a serious case of blog-envy.

Everywhere I turn, people are producing blogs that I want to write. Ingeniously hilarious; truthful and hard-hitting; nostalgic and gentle; thought evoking and deep. Their words jump from the page, conveying whatever emotion it is they intend with pure genius. I want to write those blogs. I want to have 235 likes. I want to be a blog-star, with my name up in lights.

Writing is a funny old game. Once upon a time, the skill was left to authors, wannabe authors and hardened hacks. Nobody else wanted to touch it with a barge-pole. Now everyone and his aunt Fanny is writing a blog. And most, it has to be said, are pretty good. Which leads us to the reason for this post.

So. Blog-envy. Anyone else care to admit that they indulgesuccumb to a little every now and then?

I work as a professional writer. I am fully aware that when I tell people this, their first thought runs to creative, story writing. The slight tone of disappointment I detect in their voice when they realise that is only articles, and not Pulitzer prize winning novels, is hard to miss, too.  However, most telling has to be the fact that I am using the word “only” to describe my work. Inferiority complex, anyone?

We’re a special breed, us writers. Neurotic? Yes! Loaded with self-doubt? Absolutely! A perfectionist to the point of insanity? You’re getting the picture! Another thing that resonates deep with all writers is their inability to believe they are good. In fact, if you believe your work is great, then I doubt you are a writer at all!

It’s the self-doubt that fuels us, and I do my best work when feeling particularly useless.  For example, I have a client that I write for regularly; I must have written around 30 articles for her, yet every time I submit, I am plagued by self-doubt. Will she suddenly have a aversion to my writing style, or simply feel it just isn’t good enough? She never does, and if I am being honest, she probably never will. So why the self-flagellation? That is the million dollar question….

As horribly cliched as it might sound, my writing comes from the heart. I never learnt how to write (well, if course I learnt how to write, otherwise there would just be random scrawls on the screen; I mean I have never had any formal training), and sometimes it gives me a teensy, weensy bit of a chip on my shoulder. I feel self-conscious about my grammar. I know there are mistakes, that I am breaking cardinal rules that the Nazi police would have me tried, convicted and flogged for, but the thing is, I write what I feel, rather than what is grammatically correct. I use “of” and “have” interchangeably; and I can never figure out whether I should be using “who”, “that” or “which”. And commas, don’t get me started on those. No, seriously don’t get me started. If there was a self-help group for comma abusers, I would occupy a front row seat. I use them like they are going out of fashion, even though, most of the time, I know, that, there is absolutely, no need, for them, at, all. I once tried writing a whole sentence without any, and do you know what? I didn’t get struck down by lightning.

In spite of this, I find myself acting like the biggest grammar Nazi going. People confusing its and it’s will find their is a ton of trouble at there door. I am hypocrisy personified. It got me to thinking: does it really matter? Does the power of the written word diminish because you have used too many commas, or failed to find the correct preposition? I would say not. Of course it needs to make some semblance of sense, granted. But as a reader, a great story, or a quirkiness, is always so much more important to me than getting the apostrophe in the right place (well, actually, that’s perhaps not the best example, because, really? Is it that hard to figure of where it should go? No. I think not).

Going back to my original point: blog-envy. So, what exactly is it that I wish to emulate? Am I jealous of their stratospherically high grammar levels? Nah. My envy comes from their ability to seduce me into reading their whole post (no mean feat); to laugh hysterically at their nonsense or care deeply enough to cry over their poignant words. This is what matters. This is what I envy.

I have edited to add a link to a great piece by Stephen Fry, which kind of (surprisingly) sums up my feelings. Thank you, Andrea!

Pageants: The question is, why?

Can someone please, please tell me what the deal is with these things?

I can’t be the only one who thinks that six-year-olds plastered in make-up, and hair lacquered beyond belief, is disturbing? Because guys, it is.

All that prancing, wiggling, pouting and winking provocatively makes me feel so uncomfortable. These children do not look cute; although let’s not be coy here, cuteness is not the intention. They are made up to look sexy. Those red, pouting lips and false eye-lashes are sending a message that is very messed-up and just plain wrong.

Little girls should be innocent until that innocence is taken away, by the world we live in and undeniable biology. They’ve got a whole, long life ahead of them to bow down to the pressures our society exerts on women. If you place these heavy, burdensome pressures on such slight shoulders, they will buckle under the weight, be sure of that.

Pageants teach children that they need to be the prettiest, or have the loveliest clothes to succeed. I guess some would argue that it is not just about looks, that the girls need to have a talent to be successful in a pageant, too. Hmmm….having seen some of these dubious ”talents”, I would have to disagree.

I might not mind pageants so much if they were just a bit of fun (all little girls love dress-up), but man; it’s far from that: it’s out-and-out war! You don’t get on the wrong side of a pageant mum, as they’d take a baseball bat to an opponent’s knees, or put chewing gum in their nearest competition’s hair, if they felt it would help their little Susie to win. And their parenting style is nothing short of brutal: I’ve seen mums that refuse to let their child sit down until they have got a dance move just right (but in the mum’s eyes, it is rarely right); I have also seen little girls with their hair teased, pulled and scraped so hard, that it has reduced them to tears. The price of beauty, huh? Well, this is a price that no child should ever have to pay.

I think you would be foolish to deny that pageant mums are living vicariously through their children: they are not doing it for the kids, whatever they might say. It’s as if their sole purpose in life is to make their child into the beautiful child they never were. And that is so terribly sad.

As mums, surely we need to teach our little girls that it isn’t all about how you look, and I shudder at the horrific repercussions of being raised to think that it is. These children are being set up to fail in the most dramatic fashion; these mums have an insatiable appetite for perfection, and we all know that perfection is never possible; especially in little girls who perhaps, just perhaps, want to be little girls.

So, to the pageant mums who are reading this, and possibly feel victimised or misjudged, let me ask you to do this:  take a long, hard look at your reasons for touting and flaunting your kids in pageants, and if any tiny part of you is doing it for you, then stop. If you are kidding yourself that she loves it, that it’s good for her, or that it teaches her valuable lessons, stop.

Actually, do you know what? Whatever your reasons, for goodness sake, just stop.

Here’s a newsflash…

…food that is high in fat makes you, well, FAT.

Nothing annoys or saddens me more than overweight children. Let’s get tough here: allowing your child to become over-weight is at best neglect, and at worst, where children are allowed to become clinically obese, it is child-abuse.

I am sick of hearing pathetic excuses from people about why their child is over-weight (or even worse, denying the fact). I have just read a post on a forum that had me shaking my head in disbelief: a lady was asking advice about how she could get her over-weight child to eat something healthy. She went on to say that her youngest looked ill, and it was probably because he never ate any fruit and vegetables (hey, no shit, Sherlock). She claimed that her kids always refused to eat anything healthy and that she couldn’t deal with the fight that ensued when she dished up something which wasn’t quite to their liking.

Hmm….yes, okay then. Give them food that is crap, just to save you an argument. Sounds good to me.

As parents, we take on a job that will push us to our very limits, try every ounce of patience and generally want to make us pull our hair out. We’ve all experienced picky eaters, refusal to eat and down-right horrific meal-times, but we don’t all lie down and give in to the demands of little people that really do not know any better.

If you want to eat and eat and eat food that is unhealthy, go ahead. But do not force that rubbish on innocent kids. Be the one in control. Be responsible. Be the parent. Most countries in the western world are in crisis, with more people over-weight than ever before. Gone are the days when people sued McDonalds for making them fat. Unless you live in a large, deep hole, you know  what is good for you and what is not. Don’t get me wrong: I am not a crazed salad-wielding, cabbage-crunching lunatic, I let my kids eat a whole host of junk food, but the most important thing is that they also eat healthy food – they eat a balanced diet.

So, parents, if you recognise yourself in any of my words: wise up. Quit making pathetic excuses and do the right thing: teach your kids how to eat sensibly.

You owe it to them.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I wrote this post for another blog a while ago, and while I totally agree with every sentiment I wrote, I apologise for sounding a bit shouty!

Hyperemesis, what?

Yeah, I know. A bit of a mouthful, eh?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (let’s just shorten it to HG, shall we?) is kind of like morning sickness. Well, no, it isn’t kind of like morning sickness at all. Not even BAD morning sickness. It is so far removed from morning sickness that it shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence. Or paragraph. Or at all.

But, because so many people (even so-called medical “professionals”) don’t fully understand it, they like to slide it away into a box, neatly filed under morning sickness. Calling HG morning sickness is like saying that Hitler was a little intolerant at times. Yes, you vomit with both HG and morning sickness, but that is where the similarity ends.

Morning sickness is a natural reaction to hormones present during pregnancy. HG is an abnormal reaction. Morning sickness has usually ended by the 12th week. HG is just getting started then. Morning sickness means that you vomit once or twice, in the morning. HG means that you vomit constantly. All day, every day, until the very end.

In all fairness (I am trying to be fair here, as opposed to smashing the laptop in sheer frustration), I can kind of see why medical professionals fail to recognise the seriousness of the condition because it is kind of similar to morning sickness. But what I will NEVER understand is why so many people simply refuse to listen to women who repeatedly report just how ill they are. Women with HG are not drama-queens, they are not looking for attention and neither are they imagining it. All they want is to feel well and to enjoy the beauty that is carrying a baby inside their body. But they can’t. They have been robbed of that special time and that is a hard thing to accept. Even years after the pregnancy.

Awareness of the condition IS growing, albeit slowly. But women are still forced into terminations because their bodies can’t cope and babies are still dying because their mum’s body is so badly dehydrated and unable to sustain them. This is a serious condition that has far-reaching consequences if not treated properly.

It’s time the medical profession bucked their ideas up, got their heads out of their arses and began to take this seriously. It wasn’t so many years ago that HG was seen as psychosomatic, imagined illness caused by women not really wanting to be pregnant.

So, a few words of advice for anyone that has a friend or partner with HG: firstly, listen to her and believe her. She is NOT exaggerating, she really DOES feel that bad and yes, every single second of the day is nothing less than PURE torture. She needs your help and understanding, because living with HG is sometimes tough, so tough, that there are days when you really don’t want to live a second longer. That’s the truth about HG.

Check out the HER website for more info:

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