It’s a new dawn, new day

I had a date tonight.  We ate cheese, drank wine, laughed, and talked a lot. Will I see him again? I doubt it.  He’s a lovely guy and on paper he’s pretty much the perfect match. But… Chemistry. That elusive spark. Not there.

Sometimes I think I’m single because my expectations are too high.  Sometimes I think they aren’t high enough. I want a soulmate. Someone who champions me, believes in me, loves me unconditionally and can tell me to rein it in.  I know they exist; several close friends have found theirs. There’s always hope.

What I don’t want is someone with so much emotional baggage that we can’t carry it between us.  Someone so involved in their own drama that they can’t see anything else.

I ran into an ex and his current girlfriend last week at a party. Those who knew we’d dated were being all over-dramatic about it, waiting (hoping?) for fireworks. We disappointed them; had a hug and a quick catch up then moved on.  I thought it was entertaining and was pleased to see him happy.  She seems a challenge, but I liked her.  It reminded me of why we didn’t work out and reaffirmed that not “settling” is the best road for me.

I know what I don’t want. I sometimes think I know who I want, but then talk myself out of it.  What I do know is hope springs eternal. And, to quote Nina Simone, this old world is a new world and a bold world; I’m feeling good.

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Me too

Understandably there’s been a lot of coverage of sexual assault, rape, harassment and sexual violence in the press after the Weinstein revelations and allegations.  The #MeToo tag on social media has exploded, and with it some interesting and alarming responses and reactions.  The primary focus – understandably really – has been on male perpetrators and female victims.  A lot of the commentary has also been from women, but I have been surprised from the number of women who have reacted negatively and with considerable vitriol to other women for supporting the #MeToo campaign.

Jackson Katz has been cited a lot on social media during this debate.  He’s an American educator and film maker, who has spoken widely about violence against women being a men’s issue.  I have linked his Ted talk from 2012 at the bottom of this post.  If you get a chance please listen to it.  One thing of his being quoted is a talk where he firstly asks the men in the audience to tell him what actions they take to prevent being sexually assaulted each day, and then asks the women the same question.  The men say they don’t think about it.  The women take many steps each and every day.  The difference is stark, but probably not all that surprising, sadly and brings the need for #MeToo into sharp relief.   [You can find the whole piece here]

Another Katz piece that really interests me focuses on the language used to report violence and assaults against women.   Katz notes that generally reporting uses a passive voice, shifting the focus from the male perpetrator to the female victim.

“We talk about how many women were raped last year, not about how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not about how many boys harassed girls, we talk about how many teenage girls… got pregnant last year, rather than how many men and boys impregnated teenage girls.”  he says.

“The use of the passive voice has a political effect. [It] shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto women,” Katz continues.   “It’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at that term ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them… Men aren’t even a part of it.

This passive language, and the lack of accountability put at the feet of the perpetrator leads, I believe, to the victim-blaming culture we currently have.  Should a rape or sexual assault case get to court, the focus seems to be on attacking the victim’s life-style or wardrobe choices.  This just perpetuates the belief that somehow this is the woman’s fault “what did she think would happen being dressed like that, being drunk, she was asking for it etc” rather than turning the spotlight on the attacker’s actions and behaviours and why he felt it was acceptable to carry out a rape or assault.

It’s as though women have to behave and dress in a subdued, subservient way as men have absolutely no control over their actions and if an assault takes place it is due to the victim’s poor judgement rather than the man’s monstrous behaviour.  It also leads to the mindset that all men are potential rapists.  This clearly isn’t true but is the flip-side of victim-blaming.  I’m sure we’ve all heard women say if only they hadn’t said what they said, or dressed the way they did, then an attack or assault wouldn’t have happened.  This is wrong on every level, and as a society we have a responsibility to eradicate this belief.  We will be failing if another generation of girls and boys become adults believing that it is a woman’s responsibility to prevent herself  from being assaulted.  The focus and conversation needs to change to why so many men think it is acceptable to use non-consensual sexual contact to assert their power. Believe me, it’s all about power, control and humiliation.

The number of reports made about sexual assaults, sexual violence and rapes are shockingly low.  The number that make it court even less and the resultant convictions almost negligible.  The #MeToo campaign is highlighting how common this is, and I do thinks some sections of society are genuinely shocked by it.  The campaign is highlighting (again) how many assaults are carried out by family, friends or partners, rather than the feared stranger lurking in a dark alley.

I know very few female friends or colleagues who haven’t been subject to cat-calling or wolf-whistling; a stray hand “accidentally” brushing a breast or bottom; a stranger rubbing up against you on public transport or a man deliberately masturbating in their eye-line.  That’s before you get on to the casting couch, naked line-ups, grooming, sexual assault, attempted rape and rape itself.  As a society I think we’ve become so desensitised to this that the groping hand and transport-rubber are just seen as something that happens in day-to-day life and not even registered as an assault.

On top of the type of incidents above, I have been subject to sexual assault twice; once in my late teens/early twenties when the father of a friend tried to get me to sleep with him, and the second twenty years or so later after a night out.  I didn’t report either incident, mainly for the reasons mentioned above.   Would I report a similar incident now?  I honestly don’t know.

I hope the #MeToo campaign raises awareness throughout society of just how widespread this issue is, and leads to reports of assaults being taken seriously and investigated properly.  A male friend of mine commented that he thought it was a watershed moment; “like Saville”.  A spotlight has been turned on, a lid has been lifted and now there’s no going back.   I hope he’s right.   I hope this makes everyone think about their behaviour and whether or not they use their power and influence to coerce or force someone else to do something that’s against their wishes.

I am fully aware that the victims of sexual assault and rape are not exclusively women.  Many men are also now speaking out about their experiences and they deserve as much support and commendation for this as their female counterparts.

And to those who don’t feel able to speak out yet about their experiences, it’s okay.  We stand with you and for you.   You aren’t alone.

 

Que?

I got a bit philosophical on Facebook this week, after some fairly childlike shenanigans in my main social group leading to most of us being blocked and unfriended after someone was challenged over some fairly inappropriate behaviour.  It’s the second time this year a couple have chosen to extract themselves from the group with no explanation and it’s sad, in most senses of the word.

I always assumed that when I was a “grown-up” that kind of behaviour would be left behind in the playground, but it seems to just as prevalent. Maybe social media brings it to the fore, and maybe also brings out the worst in some people.  Gives them a platform with the shield of not being face to face or having to own their behaviours or choices. Who really knows, but it’s caused some turmoil and really revealed that you don’t always know people as well as you think.

I’ve always been lucky to have a fairly large social circle. About three main groups with very slight areas of crossover if mapped on a Venn diagram.  One is my “home” group and comprises those I met at infant, junior and secondary school and am still in contact with, plus people I worked with while a student. It’s a fairly static group these days; the new additions mainly being babies. The second is my “uni girls” group. Again, fairly static, I’m the only single one and the majority have children and/or work in education. The third and biggest group is the “woo folk”; people I met through a male friend at uni and have known since my late teens and early twenties. The core is fairly constant but there have been some departures and arrivals over the years, but this year has seen real change.

As well as the “it’s my ball and I’m taking it home” nonsense, others have also been dealing with serious health issues and family problems. However we have also had great times away together as well as celebrating birthdays, an engagement and a wedding.  And we’ve also had some new people join our group and it’s been fabulous.  I said on Facebook that they’d arrived “crashing in with glasses in hand and it feels they’ve always been there. And they’ll stay”. It’s true. Although I only met them a relatively short while ago, we are connected.  I feel know them better than the ones who chose to leave, one of whom I’d known over twenty years.  

I was in a virtual chat with two of them after midnight yesterday discussing dating, kissing critique, enormous cheeses and flavoured tequila. It involved Fawlty Towers impressions, hobbit references, train journeys and tears of laughter. It was wonderful, refreshing and ridiculous. Perfect.

 I call these combined groups my tribe. It may sound corny or trite, but I don’t care. We are all connected through mutual friends, shared values, similar interests and experiences, some losses and ridiculous senses of humour.  But at the middle is mutual respect and love. They both shine through.

This year has been a bit of an odd one in terms of friendships particularly, but I do think it’s been a leveller as well as an eye-opener.  People’s reactions to change, and to you making life-changing choices, can be very interesting.  Particularly when it throws their balance off when you refuse to engage with their power games and instead challenge their belief that everything revolves around them.  For me it’s helped to reveal what and who are truly important. I feel I’ve found my space and it’s a good place. Life is short. Grab it, use it, love it, don’t waste it.

Long time coming

Well, hello again.  I hadn’t realised it had been quite so long.  I’ve not even got a good excuse for being so neglectful.  If any of you thought I’d finally met my Prince Charming and been swept off my feet in a romantic whirlwind I love you for that, but sadly not.

Two of my favourite folk, who amazingly met on Tinder about 3 years ago, got engaged at Christmas (and married last weekend, but that’s another story).   I’ve started working as a sessional Registrar and officiating at weddings at weekends, and other people have also been coupling up which has brought my lack of a significant other into stark focus.   I decided I ought to be a bit more proactive about this as, while I’m happy with my own company, I would far rather have someone to share life’s adventures with.  At the same time I’ve been losing weight and so have a bit more self-confidence, although I am still rubbish at reading any “I’m interested signals” from the opposite sex.

I decided to dip my toes back into on-line dating in June this year after getting back from Glastonbury and the constant reminders that it would be much more fun with a plus one.   A friend of mine is a social media guru and I did ask her for a recommendation of a dating site that would be less “shaggy” than others in London.  Tinder, Love Struck, Plenty of Fish and My Single Friend all seem to be full of guys looking for a hook up or a bit on the side.  No thanks; been there, done that.

She thought eHarmony might be a better option so I signed up for 3 months (see, no commitment issues here!) and dutifully read through the profiles they matched me with, sent smiles and comments.  Nada. Zilch for the first couple of weeks.  A few responses started trickling through, but were either from people in different continents (helpful) or guys wanting a hook up.   Hmmm.   I decided not to renew my subscription, and just before it expired a couple of chaps not too far away made contact – one in Kettering the other in Bedford.  Marvellous I thought, a date may ensue.  However not yet.  They are both very chatty – message me on WhatsApp every day – but no suggestion of meeting.  Sigh.  I shall have to take the lead on this I guess, which I don’t really want to do as I have to do that all the time at work.

When I was posting before about my (lack of) dating activity, there was a guy at work who was seemingly interested (CSG).  After cycles of interest and absence, then being taken for a night out at the Shard (fancy!) and then him being an arse,  he left the organisation we both worked for.   Probably the best outcome in reality.  He has tried to contact me once since he’s been gone, but I’m not interested in his little power games any longer.

There are a couple of men in real life that I am interested in, but as usual am paralysed by overthinking the possible outcomes of everything going horribly wrong if I let them know I like them.   I shall have to work on that.  I’ll update you on progress!

 

Aloe goodbye

So my Forever Living product trial is over, they’ve all been given back and my bathroom cupboard looks sadly empty. I’ve enjoyed the experience and am grateful to jenniferpow.com for giving me the opportunity to try them.  My top six are pictured, and I’ve placed an order already.

What this last week has confirmed to me is that the older I get, the more I prefer tailored products.  By that I mean products that are designed for one specific purpose rather than having a variety of uses. Creams and lotions that are designed for face and body don’t give enough nourishment to my face now I’m no longer in my twenties (or thirties, come to that!) and my hot picks reflect that.

The multi-use products are great value though, and would be good as face and body moisturisers for teens upwards of any gender.  The lack of strong fragrance definitely makes them suitable for the men I know who run a mile from anything “girly”.  And although I’m not a fan of the packaging, I think it probably helps make a lot of the products non gender specific.

I’d definitely give some of the ranges as gifts to friends (particularly the Relaxation products) and would recommend them to pretty much anyone.  I have a couple of weddings coming up later this year so may well have to resort to the weight management shakes to get rid of those pesky last pounds before hand!

They are available from your local Forever Living supplier, or you can order on-line from thefabulouslife  and say “Aloe” to some new products.

 

 

 

Aloe Fresh

Today’s review is of two slightly less glamorous products – hand & face soap and ever-shield deodorant.

The hand and face soap has a subtle fragrance and lathers well.  It seems quite mild and is fine as hand soap as it doesn’t dry the skin.  I’m not sure I’d want to use it as a face soap personally, but I have heard other people say they use this as a baby wash and a shampoo so it’s clearly a useful one to have around.  It would also be good as a shower gel for those (particularly men) who don’t like scented products.

I use handwash pumps in the kitchen and bathroom, but prefer those that are anti-bacterial.  I know that aloe vera does have some anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, but I’m not sure whether this product does.  I’ll have to do some research.

I wasn’t sure initially about the deodorant as it isn’t an anti-perspirant, which I usually prefer.  However I gave it a go and was impressed.  It is a big stick and glides on easily.  It has a subtle fresh fragrance, and you don’t get sudden whiffs of it during the day as you can with other roll on or stick deodorants.  It has very few ingredients so is pretty natural and will leave your underarms nice and soft too.  It also doesn’t leave white marks on your clothes – result!

Unfortunately I had to stop using it after a few days as I had a reaction to it.  I suspect this was due to the Triclosan;  I have a skin allergy to zinc and, having done some research, have discovered that Triclosan is often synthesised with zinc oxide.  This trial has been very educational!  I also looked up to see if others had experienced reactions to this product and couldn’t find any negative reviews.  I knew I was special…. 😦

I am sad I can’t use it, as I think this is a great product – and really reasonably priced.  It’s £6 for the stick and it lasts around 9 months.  Great value!

Not long left with the trial and only a couple more products left to review.  Shame, as I’ve been enjoying it.

Aloe body

I have both these aloe lotions in my trial pack, and I must admit I am not entirely sure what the difference between them is.

The packaging of the lotion says it contains jojoba and vitamin E, while the moisturising lotion says “with collagen and elastin”.   The brochure says they are both formulated with jojoba oil, collagen and elastin; so the only difference seems to be that the aloe lotion contains vitamin E.  However scanning through the ingredients list on the moisturising lotion shows that also contains vitamin E.  Colour me more confused….

They are both described as maintaining the skin’s natural PH balance while moisturising, and ideal for face, hands and body. The moisturising lotion says it is also good as a primer for make up while the aloe lotion can be used as a toner, conditioner, after sun, post-shave balm and emollient.  As they seem to be pretty much the same product I struggle to see why they both exist and why they have such different uses promoted. I’m sure they could both be used for the same things.

They, not surprisingly, have similar textures and fragrances and I’m not sure there’s a need for either in my skincare regime.  Neither seem that rich for a body lotion or hand cream to me, and I’d have to apply them more than once during the day.  I definitely don’t find them as moisturising (or as nicely fragranced) as the lavender and aloe massage lotion in the Relaxation range. The Propolis creme is definitely better for my “more mature” skin as a face cream too.

I think I may just have to accept that I’m not the target audience for either of these products! I’m pleased to have tried them though and would recommend either (not both!) to those looking for a multi-purpose, easily absorbed lotion.