Monday, 25 July 2011

Age 39...

...and I've just decided to embrace the power of makeup.

At some point during my stroppy teenage years I looked at my beautiful mummy who still, to this day, has her routine of putting on makeup as part of her every day, and for some reason decided that that wasn't for me.

I remember thinking that I don't want to get used to wearing makeup every day, so that I don't ever have to hate my face on a day when I don't put it on.  Also I was and am a bit anti-routine and lazy and hate feeling like I have to do something every day without fail or else. 

So for years I've had some makeup, managed to put it on when going out for the night, or for weddings or parties or whatever.  And done that managing not to be too embarrassed at any nice comments that might have ensued.  I also have tried very hard over the years not to bristle at the comments I've received when my curly hair has been straight on that day after it's been cut.  Which are right up there with the 'oh you look so different, so lovely without your glasses'.

That's really nice and all, along with the straight hair comments, alongside the makeup comments, but actually I have curly hair and glasses and generally can't be arsed with makeup.  Which is also ok....isn't it?

And I realise that yes, that is ok, but so is wanting to look nice every day, wanting to go beyond the clean face and moisturiser rule that became my bare minimum.  Wanting to allow myself to dress nicely, to feel good and to use the tools that can help me with that.  Tools that also include a good night's sleep, plenty of water, remembering to smile and not just frown, and continue to breathe in all the lovely things around me.

As an official bona fide nearly grown up, I now embrace wanting to have nicely highlighted hair and trust my fantastic hairdresser and his advice as to when he will let me realise my ambition to let my grey hair 'run free'.

I look at my mother, my sister in law, my mum, I think of an old friend and her presumably still active lipstick obsession, and think how lovely they look.  I must make sure I tell them more often how their effort is appreciated from where I'm sitting.  I also think of my own late blooming as one more thing that me and my super sis have in common.  

On my recent annual girls weekend, I found myself looking closely at my gorgeous blonde friend's makeup, using it, seeing how nice it looked and grinning at how different I felt.  So for my 39th birthday a month ago I asked my mum to buy me the magic Touche Eclat, I bought myself a pressed powder, dug out the bronzer and nice lipstick and liquid eyeliner that has slowly snuck into my top drawer this last year, and started to gently form my little routine. 

Nothing or a tiny bit for the glowing good days.  A little more help when feeling grey and tired.  And the maximum, well my minimum maximum anyway, should there be a camera or a need to feel pretty and instead of standing out as tired and old, allow myself to blend in as having cared enough to try a little.

Yes, that's the difference now.  

Now that I'm significantly older, tireder and able to look at the whole Sara in the mirror again, I realise that the makeup I once thought wearing would mean I'd stand out, actually allows me to blend in.   But blend in feeling happy, healthy, attractive and comfortable with myself.

So yes, this is a post about shallow things but a realisation that those surface changes are part and parcel of helping me to feel good deep down.

Now, where is that lovely lip gloss?

Friday, 15 July 2011


I have an ode to camping, having come back a week ago from my third ever camping trip.
Maybe it was the sun and the rain, maybe it was the same four weather-hardy families second year running saying devil may care.

Maybe it was the newly mentally healthy frame of mind that has been sneaking up on me since the fundraiser...

but I had an amazing time.

I didn't feel overwhelmed by the organisation or the situation or the weather or the eating or the keeping warm
I didn't feel underwhelmed by the outdoors experience that I thought should be so much more

What I felt was calm, happy, in control but not controlling.

Eat when hungry, drink when the kids are in bed, go inside when it rains, come out when the sun shines.   Wear wellies, tshirts or raincoats, woolly hats and cardigans and shorts and vest tops.  Go swimming, make coffee to warm up, eat a little bit too much meat in our excitement of having food cooked on an ever ready BBQ.  Paint facepaint tattoos in the sun, swim in the sea, play football, have sneaky smokes behind the bikesheds.
Drink huge rum and cokes and eat snacks and play games and blow up balloons and laugh and chill and have a ball.
Listen to the rain, overwhelmingly loud, slightly worrying about whether we're all being flooded and rolling down the hill, but put all that aside and love the noise and power of nature.
Be clean and a bit dirty and a perfect balance of everything.
Embrace life
Camping rocks
Even in rainy sunny windy Norfolk
Bring on next year

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Did It, Loved It

It's four nights on from my fundraising party and I'm finally in front of the computer able to update you all.

Reading back on my last post, I'm so happy to be able to report that I was so happy on the night, all night, even when I was a little bit stressed and frantic.

The venue was gorgeous, the people there were so helpful and professional, there was enough food, the band were awesome and they made our party feel cool and fun and loud.

So many people came to support us and left having enjoyed themselves.  My gorgeous niece bought a gaggle of her friends and they helped to boost the atmosphere with their whooping and gay abandon and bring the average age down considerably.

I felt so much kindness and love for us and our boy and our boys.  I looked around the room and realised that there was a representative there from pretty much the whole of my life and certainly a cross section of friends from the last 30 years.  Many not knowing anyone but me and whoever they came with, but all smiling, most drinking, some singing and all putting up with the hugs and snatched thanks as all they really got from me.

We have raised to date just over £11,000 and I'm utterly overwhelmed and thankful for that.  My target was five and I thought that in these times of need that that was a bit pie in the sky.  So how glorious it is that everyone has been so generous and how right it was, though hard, to email everyone who I still have email addresses for years on from when we met.

Many people have texted and emailed since to thank and congratulate me on putting the event on and the word inspirational has popped up a few times.

It's funny that word.
Even though I don't think about it often, and can't recall on demand a list of who I find inspirational, I know there are many who would make it on there.  Famous and not, alive and not, old, young, sick, healthy, rich, poor.  Inspiration comes in many guises, enduring and ephemeral and I think, all terribly important for our aspirational and happy mindsets.

I got through the whole night not crying at all, not during my speech (about which I can tell you nothing), not during my song (about which I can tell you all you need to know...bit low and Barry White but I got away with it, thankfully Beat It snuck up on me later and was such fun) and not even when Alistair, Bonnie, friends and others thanked me and said they were proud.

But typing here with my hair on end, late at night, shaggy old shorts donned, slightly embarrassing dinner digesting as D is away again on business, I feel quite teary about people finding me inspirational.  People being so generous as to tell me that and share that loveliness with me.  People that I think are quite wonderful themselves.

Because I think deep down under the long encouraged humility and bloody minded playing down that I employ as walls around me, I think that it's massively important to me to think that I can inspire anyone.  To do anything. And to be moved by me, us, this.

The tears are coming at last.
What a lucky girl I am