A broken clock

I think I broke my mother’s heart today.

We’d gone out for a family lunch, me, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and my two nephews, B (2 ½) and R (4 months). R is normally the happiest baby in the world, perfectly satisfied in his car seat, but unfortunately at the moment we have a nasty case of teething. That plus a cold means he’s not a happy boy. As a result I spent a lot of time carrying him, having him perched on my lap and just having all round cuddles.

Oh the hardship…

I think the fact that I spent so much time with R and also drawing pictures with B gave my Mum the idea that more grandchildren were on the cards as it might indicate that at long last my biological clock might (finally) have started ticking…

Alas, my clock seems to be broken… Sorry Mum, but if I were you, I wouldn’t be counting on any more grandchildren.

broken biological clock

That might sound harsh but at 31 I’m not getting any younger and when you’re single without the slightest hint of any romantic prospects and no real desire to actually look for the so-called Mr. Right, it’s not so much being harsh as realistic. And whilst I could do it alone either via one-night stand or a sperm donor, having a baby is hard enough when there are two of you. I have nothing against single parents; I know a lot of them who do an amazing job. But being a single parent through death or separation is a totally different matter to setting out with the intention of being one.

But in addition to that I also have to consider my history with depression. I would be at high risk of both ante-natal and post-natal depression and I’m not sure I can knowingly do something that would put me at risk of feeling like that again. There is also the risk of any child of mine being more susceptible to this horrible illness than the child of someone who doesn’t have depression. Now whilst anyone can suffer from depression, but it’s more likely. I don’t judge anyone who has had depression who has then had children, I’m just saying that it’s not right for me.

Add to that there’s the small issue of I just don’t want to have them and you end up with a biological clock that just doesn’t tick. No Ally McBeal-style dancing babies for me. No ticking clocks. Just a quiet life.

And that doesn’t make me unhappy. It’s just the way it is. I think my Mum would prefer my biological clock would start ticking loudly but such is life.

Do you want or have children? Do you think that you can have a happy, fulfilled life without children?

Average Josephine x

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Taking a battering

What many people don’t know about me is that my blog isn’t the first thing I’ve tried writing. When I was younger I was a voracious writer. By the age of fifteen I’d written two stories which were long enough to be described as books. Don’t get me wrong, they were melodramatic crap (I was a teenager, enough said), but to have written that sheer volume of words is, in my book, pretty impressive. All I wanted to do was to be a writer, to be able to spend my life moulding words for a living.

But as I got older and the pressures of life and the prospect of having to get a “real job” loomed, my writing was the one thing that fell by the wayside. A lot of it was due to the fact that as my poor depressed brain got sicker and sicker, my confidence dropped lower and lower until I had so little faith in myself as a person, let alone as a writer, I couldn’t face this thing I loved becoming one more thing I failed at.

And then nearly half a lifetime later, I discovered Twitter and through that the world of blogging. It took a couple of false starts before I started this blog and although it doesn’t have the biggest readership in the world, I am so grateful for each reader and each comment I get. I might never reach my dream of being a professional writer but having an outlet and a way to express myself is invaluable.

So when nearly two weeks ago, someone accused me of stealing copy for having offered to blog for a brand they had already covered (despite the fact that it was for a new and totally different product) and responding to two Twitter-wide tweets for bloggers, the little confidence I had gained was pretty much obliterated.

But the thing I have come to realise is that when faced with such baseless accusations, it shows much more about the person making the accusation than it does about you. Whether this blogger was worried that she’d lifted some copy or just generally insecure and worried that another blogger might produce a better post than her on a similar subject, I don’t know but unless someone has lifted copy directly from your blog, my vote would be to not accuse people, especially when you’re not aware of all the facts. It creates a lot of bad feeling and could do long-term damage to your credibility as a blogger.

As for me, I’m still very hurt, angry and upset. I’m even more upset that the issue has caused some serious damage to a long-term friendship which may well be irreparable. I’m not the sort of person to have a million and one friends so to have one take our friendship so lightly is something that hurts immensely. And the blogger? Well, time will tell what happens but it’s one time I really hope that Lady Gaga was right:

Lady Gaga "Karma" quote

Average Josephine x

Papered over

As I have mentioned before, I am moving back to my lovely little two bedroom flat after an extended stay with my parents (three years… rather too extended). And as I have been away for so long, and when I was there I was rather losing my marbles, I’m embarking on a project.

I’m redecorating my whole flat.

This project is going to take me a while as when there’s only one of you there is a limit as to how much you can get done in a weekend and also, I can’t quite afford to do the whole lot all in one go! So month by month I’m going to do bits and pieces and you will be able to see how it is going.

One of the most fun bits about redcorating is the hours you can spend, poring over paint charts and wallpaper samples. There is so much out there from the weird (do you want holographic pin up girls greeting you first thing in the morning?) to the fun and the frankly rather fabulous. I often think I should be locked in a padded room and with this wallpaper I can be, what more do you want?!

But I will confess to falling in love with a Farrow and Ball wallpaper called Lotus but unfortunately as F&B print to order, they have a minimum order quantity of 3 rolls of paper. As I think I’m only going to need one roll and this paper does cost a whopping £88 per roll, I might have to give it a pass on this occasion!

So in its place I have managed to find a couple of other wallpapers which I do love but are slightly less ruinously expensive! None of them are from anywhere exciting (Laura Ashley and John Lewis) but they go with the furniture and curtains and would do just enough to perk up my office.

'Coco' wallpaper from Laura Ashley

'Coco' wallpaper from Laura Ashley

'Gardenia' wallpaper by Harlequin

'Gardenia' wallpaper by Harlequin

There is the small issue that I will need to learn to hang wallpaper in order to do this but hey, how hard can it be?!
I’m really looking forward to my redecorating as it will give me a chance to turn a place where I was so miserable into somewhere I love living as well as giving me back the independence I have lacked for so long.
So, which wallpaper do you prefer? Or have you seen any others I might like? I’m open to suggestions!
Average Josephine x

Finding yourself…

I feel sometimes like I have failed at life.

When I was younger I had a set idea of the woman I was going to become.  I would go to university, have a successful professional career as an accountant or a lawyer or something similarly prestigious, meet a wonderful man, get married and maybe have a couple of kids plus the obligatory dog.

By the age of 31, I thought I would have at least reached the getting married part of this plan but with one thing and another, it’s not quite worked out that way.

I have a career, albeit one I’m not really sure I want. I am an exam qualified accountant, all that stands between me and the three letters that signify six years of hard work is a mountain of paperwork and whilst it seems ridiculous to let so much hard work go to waste, I do wonder whether accountancy is the right career for me.  Whilst part of me loves the rules and structure that it has, the lack of freedom and creativity is a bit stifling.  After all, creativity within accounting tends to be frowned upon…

So a successful career, that’s definitely not a checked box on the list.

As for being married, well having been single for nearly six years, that isn’t looking likely in the near future. And bizarrely this bit doesn’t bother me that much. I have stages where I want a relationship but to be honest, if I live on my own for the rest of my life, I’ll be OK with that.  I have my cats and my friends, two adorable nephews who I’ll get to be the crazy aunt with and that’s enough.

So whilst the married box isn’t checked, I’m kind of OK with that.  And the kids box we’ll be leaving unchecked as well. It doesn’t make me feel less of a woman but I can’t help but feel that other people are disappointed in me for not settling down and having a family and having a conventional life.

The biggest issue I have had over the past few years though is that I haven’t been happy.  I’ve been the opposite of happy for the most part and the fact that I have put so much pressure on myself to find this perfect version of myself hasn’t helped but I have never understood why.

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself" George Bernard Shaw. Photo: Samantha Hadadi

"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself" George Bernard Shaw. Photo: Samantha Hadadi

But when I saw this quote by George Bernard Shaw I started to realize exactly why I keep failing at these expectations I have set.  I set these ideals according to my parents’ expectations of me when I scarcely knew who I was, let alone who I would become. I’m never going to find this “perfect version of myself because she doesn’t exist; she never has.

My life is mine to create and whilst I admit there have been some twists and turns I didn’t anticipate and would rather have been skipped, they have helped create the woman I am today.

We all come into this life as a blank canvas. Nature and nurture help determine what the picture looks like but eventually the only person who determines whether the picture is a true work of art is ourselves.

A little too much of my life has been this:

Edvard Munch "the scream" Source: Wikipedia

Edvard Munch "the scream" Source: Wikipedia

I guess we will have to see what the final artwork looks like…

If your life was a picture, which picture would it be?

Average Josephine x

The silent killer

Today, the footballing world was shocked and horrified to hear that Gary Speed was found dead at his home after hanging himself to death.  Police have confirmed that a 42-year-old man had been found dead and identified as Speed by his next-of-kin.

One of the reasons that everyone has been so stunned by his death is there were no indicators of a problem before his death.  He appeared on Sky Sports yesterday (I saw him and can’t quite get my head round it) and was celebrating with his friend Robbie Savage on the set of Strictly Come Dancing only a couple of weeks ago.

My heart goes out to his family, especially his wife and two sons.  Losing a family member at all is a hideous thing to go through but under these circumstances, it is inconceivable how a family can process and work their way through such a tragedy.

I have said before that I have suffered from depression and I’m not afraid or ashamed of admitting that there was a point where I came very close to carrying out the same act.  I remember carrying my cats around my flat telling them that my parents would look after them.  I remember making plans which stretched from stealing a family friend’s shotgun to overdosing to crashing my car to using it to gas myself.  The scary thing is at some of the points where I seriously entertained those plans, I was the only person who knew how ill I was.  I was at work and by and a fully functional member of society.  In reality I was suffering from very severe depression.

We have become much more accustomed to people talking of depression and the fact that up to one in every eight people is suffering from some sort of mental illness at any given time.  There is a perception that through antidepressants and a bit of therapy this illness can be cured.  And in a lot of cases a six month course od antidepressants and cognitive behavioural therapy is what is needed.  But when help is not available or a person cannot make use of it for whatever reason, the results can be catastrophic.

What people fail to see is that depression is an illness that kills. It is the biggest killer of young men between 25 and 34 years of age other than car accidents.  And yet we hear very little about that side of depression.  We do not hear about the depression that does not lift with medication or when therapy fails.  It is only when a tragedy occurs that we begin to wonder what drives a successful man with a family to kill himself.

So please, if you start to think about how best to take your own life, go to a doctor. There is no shame is depression; it is an illness, an error in a chemical in your brain.  It is not a sign of weakness. A long time ago my father told me that asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength rather than weakness and I beg all of you to remember that.

You will all know someone with depression.  They may never have told you but they will be there.  Support them, be there for them and maybe we can avoid some of the repeats of the tragedy that has happened today.

Average Josephine x