iPhone summer makeover

So, feels like it’s been a long time, even though it’s only been about a week. Surprisingly, my blog feels like the one place where I don’t want to speak unless I have something interesting to say. If only it were true in real life. You wouldn’t believe the number of draft blog posts I have started and discarded, because I thought they were boring. You have dodged the bullet on posts about my Tupperware cupboard, smells I like and why I hate FaceBook. Some of you have said such nice things about my writing, I have a reputation to uphold now,

Things have also been quiet on the crafting front. I’ve been dabbling, working towards a big yarn bomb project, and a possible table at the school summer fete.

The other big thing I am working towards is a beginners crochet class I am planning on running in a couple of weeks. Don’t get too excited, I only just out the poster up today (sick child scuppering my plans for doing it earlier) so no one might even sign up, but keep your fingers crossed for me.

Any, my plan for the class is to teach my attendees to crochet a phone case. Everyone has a mobile phone right? And a case would be super easy. So, I thought it would be a good opportunity to give my iPhone a summer makeover. I have some ghastly looking coral acrylic yarn, which actually looks quite cool rocking a palm tree tropicale style. What do you think?

Looking hot baby, yeah!
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A little more love to have, a little more love to give

Be kind to yourself – a print from mylittlebuffalo’s etsy shop

“Self-love seems so often unrequited.”
– Anthony Powell

You have to love yourself before someone can love you, so the saying goes. Or maybe it’s you can’t love someone else until you love yourself. Something like that. Anyway, it seems the saying might not be far off. A recent study demonstrates that self compassion is associated with a healthier relationship. Neff and Beretvas (in press) questioned 104 participants and their partners on their self compassion, their partner’s perception of their self compassion, and various aspects of their relationship, such as control, relational well-being and verbal aggression.

The study found that people who had higher levels of self compassion were in healthier relationships and less controlling of their partners.

The authors noted that self compassion is different from self esteem. Self esteem can be unstable and conditional; often relying on others; involving feelings of superiority; selfish and egotistical. The authors define self compassion as having three components:

Self-kindness versus self-self judgement being kind to oneself when suffering, comforting oneself instead of judging and blaming oneself

Common humanity versus isolation the recognition of the shared human experience and that everyone makes mistakes. Rather than feeling isolated one feels connected with others

Mindfulness versus over-identification a mindful response to suffering means neither suppressing nor ruminating on feelings of suffering. Rather than dramatically running away with ones feelings, mindfulness involves maintaining a balanced awareness and acceptance of the feelings as the fabric of life

The more self compassion that you have, as defined above, the more accepting you can be of other people’s flaws and feelings. The results of the study also showed that people with higher self compassion were less controlling over their partners. It’s possible that people who are kinder to themselves and happier are more content to give their partners to freedom to make themselves happy.

Of course the study is correlational so we can’t say that being self compassionate causes a healthier relationship, but it seems logical that if you can’t forgive yourself for your mistakes or flaws, you will struggle to forgive others. If you believe that you are the cause of your suffering, then you are likely to blame others for their own problems, and be reluctant to expend your own resources helping, them.

But how how do you know if you are self compassionate and how can you have more self compassion? There is a test here, which is very similar to the one the authors of the study used. And in order to increase your self compassion, clinical psychologist, Dr Christopher Germer, has developed a form of therapy called Mindful Self Compassion (MSC), which aims to help people be in the moment with their negative feelings, to accept them and to hold these emotions in”loving awareness”. Sound like a load of old cobblers? Well, it may be, but Dr Germer has kindly provided free downloads of his meditations for anyone to try.

I really recommend you give it a go. Hopefully when life gets tough you can follow the tenets of self compassion: self kindness, humanity and mindfulness. Being kinder to yourself when things are tough is not simply a selfish act. As this study has shown, self compassion is associated with healthier relationships. Being kinder to yourself also gives you the tools and the emotional freedom to be more compassionate to others around you. It’s not just a case of “do unto to others as you would have done to you” but do unto yourself what you would do to others.

Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it is fun for you

Like Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood this is something I’ve only really learnt recently. Even now I have to remind myself of this. I have writen in the past about being a “scanner” and the main tenet of this is a constant desire to try new things. Activities I have tried in the past include: ballet (I lasted one class), belly dancing, ice skating (last time I went I ended up with a black eye after breaking a fall with my face), book group (I started my own at university), knitting (I’m a terrible knitter but it did lead to me the wonder that is crochet), Zumba (and more recently Aqua Zumba), roller derby, and, of course, blogging.

I could have been a figure skater. You know, if it wasn’t for all the falling over.

Very few of these activities have had enduring appeal for me. For a long time I just assumed I lacked commitment and tenacity. I feared I was never going to be good at anything unless I could see it through. Some of these activities I get very passionate about and want to continue my interest. I have looked into becoming a yoga teacher, a breast feeding counsellor. For a few years I wanted to become an interpreter but then a got a C in my Spanish A level (in my defence I completed it in just one year). My blog name kind of gives the game away on this.

There’s a passion out there for everyone. Doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

Reading Barbara Sher’s What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything? opened my eyes to the possibility that I just crave novelty. I definitely think that is one aspect, and it helps me to be ok with my choices. But the other part is that I generally have life envy. I want to do things because other people are doing them. The whole way though university when people told me what course they were doing I’d think “That’s great, why didn’t I chose Linguistics and Croatian instead of boring psychology?”

I sometimes wonder why I am not spending my time rock climbing, silversmithing or watching film noir. Then I have to remind myself it’s because I don’t want to. I don’t have to share every interest of everyone I know. Yes, I still try new things, but I am more careful about what I take on, and do things that interest me rather than things I feel I should be interested in. That means I will be running crochet classes in a couple of weeks, but I won’t be taking on an allotment again.

What about you? Does your hobby cup runeth over? Or are you in a leisure pursuit prairie land?

“O” no thanks

When you are wondering along the beach with your kids this summer and you see the I-Scream van be sure to take your kids along for a free ice cream? What topping would they like? Raspberry Ripple favoured lube, or Toffee Apple flavoured lube? If you can persuade them to perform an orgasm face then post it on Facebook they could win £200 of Sexy Goodies. Yes, Ann Summers, in its usual pursuit of good taste is taking a tour with an ice cream van, where is is offering free ice cream with flavoured lube. And offering incentives to people to perform sex faces. And when we say people, let’s be honest, it’s women. Ann Summers markets itself towards women.

When I first started writing this post I wrote a few paragraphs to head off any accusations of prudery or being a dried up old prune. But I deleted what I wrote because I really shouldn’t have to list my own sexual proclivities in order to be able to criticise a high street marketing campaign which infantilises an adult activity and encourages the exploitation of women.

Sex is fun, but it is also a serious business with many emotions attached to it. In my younger years I was quite taken with Ann Summers as a shop. I thought that having a shop on the high street where you could pop in and pick up a new vibrator on your way back home was great and enlightened, normalising sex and empowering women. Now my view has completely changed. Instead of normalising sex I think Ann Summers cheapens it, with their tacky underwear, poor quality vibrators and disgusting edible lubricants. Rather than empower women to have control of their own sexuality, it portrays a sexual environment where women feel they should changing their behaviour to please men, whether that is by dressing up, using bondage gear or this BJ strap. Not particularly empowering is it? The mainstreaming of this sort of shop creates expectations of sexually permissive behaviour, women, and even girls, feel they have to live up to the naughty nurse, or saucy air hostess fantasy instead of just enjoying loving, mutually satisfactory sex.

But the very worst thing about this campaign for me is the enticement for girls to win a goody bag full of Ann Summers tat if they just take a picture of themselves making an “O face” i.e. a picture of themselves pretending to orgasm, then posting it to Facebook to be rated. So not only are they to be exploited by posing like a porn star, but they are then to be judged on the quality of their pose. I wonder what makes a good orgasm face? Presumably as close to a porn star as possible, seeing as it likely that the people who will vote on this particular portrait gallery will never have seen a woman orgasm in real life.

I wonder at the women who want to share these sort of pictures with friends, family and strangers. Like my just woken up look, when my sleep wrinkles are trying to unstick themselves (which is sadly taking longer and longer these days), my expression when engaged in orgasm is a sight I would only want to share with my partner. The women and girls who will end up taking part in this Britain’s Got Pornstars competition are a product of today’s society. The media is full of girls who’s only achievements are to have slept with a celebrity, or parade about in skimpy clothes. Like a naughty child who acts up when they realise they only get attention for behaving badly, these girls get the message that they will only be valued for who they sleep with and how they look. So they dress in what they think is the male fantasy, and act out the male sexual fantasy, or whatever it is that will get them the attention they desire.

We as a society need to start proving that we value women as more than just sexual objects. We need to give them more to aspire to than life as “that girl who slept with a footballer then went on Celebrity Big Brother”. Only then can they have confidence in who they really are and have a sexual relationship that they really want, with someone who respects them, and not feel the need to feed into the sordid, misogynistic view of sex that Ann Summers promotes.

I think women being open about sex with each other and with their partners is a good thing. But there is a difference between being open about sex and being public about it. I don’t want to have to explain to my 4 year old why she can’t have an ice cream from the van peddling cheap sexual expectations. By the same token, I think anyone engaging in sex should be mature enough not to need an ice cream van reminiscent of their childhood to explore their sexuality. Finally, I think Ann Summers should really think about what they are asking of the women who they want to pose with their “O face” and realise how demeaning an exploitative it is. Of course women are mostly free to make their own choices and could choose not to, but these choices are not made in a societal vacuum, and we have created a society where people think this sort of behaviour is except able, and even to be expected. I hope anyone with a sense of integrity realises that it isn’t. I implore you to stop shopping in Ann Summers, the shop that thinks a strap with which men can control a women giving him a blow job is acceptable and even empowering. Stop buying the ridiculous magazines and the Daily Mail, which celebrate women as objects of desire or ridicule depending on their face, body or dress. Teach your sons and daughters that sex is wonderful, and should be explored with someone you trust, and not Ann Summers or Facebook.

UPDATE: I can’t embed linky blog hops in WordPress but please take a look at this blog hop at Salt & Caramel for more great posts on this topic.

This is a guest post I wrote for sexpositiveparenting. It’s a new blog exploring sex and gender issues in parenting.

Sex Positive Parenting

In the sea of pink that inevitably comes with having a newborn baby girl our eldest daughter seems to have emerged as a slight oddity: she wants to be a boy. For the sake of anonymity I’ll refer to her throughout this article as Taylor. It is has become a unisex name in recent years, but mainly it is her name of choice for when she is a boy. It certainly wasn’t on our list for either a boy or a girl!

Taylor is nearly 5, but from the age of 2 she professed her favourite colour to be green, and has for the most part stuck with that choice. DH and I were slightly smug, right on parents with a girl who eschewed the regulation pink. It quickly became the bane of our lives as everything which came in a colour option had to be green, such is the…

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