No, I’m not OK… 

I’m tired of the word O.K.

We hand it about so often that it’s become a nothing word.

It has no meaning.

No substance.

Often we use it because we think we should. 

It’s up there with the sentence “I’m fine”.

It’s polite, it’s expected, it’s crap.

You know what , it’s actually ok not to be ok.

To feel upset, angry, hurt. 

You don’t have to be ok. 

“You look tired is everything alright “?

“I’m ok” No you are not you have been up all night with children and are surviving on caffeine, you are tired and exhausted. You are not ok.

I heard you have lost your job, you ok?

“I’m ok” no you are not you are worried about paying bills finding money for the kids new school uniform. You are feeling rejected and confused. 

“I heard what that woman said to you, are you ok?”

“I’m ok” No You are raging she embarrassed you for no reason other than pure rudeness. You are angry and hurt.

Why do we say I’m ok when it’s obvious we aren’t and why do others take it knowing that we are not? 

Is it politeness?

Is it a fear about getting involved?

Or a general don’t really care ? 

Maybe all of the above, I don’t know but I want to banish I’m ok. 

I’m challenging people today to be open and say “you know what today is hard I’m struggling”. Or even “I’m feeling fantastic today is a good day”.

I also want you to challenge others “I’m ok” when it’s obvious they are not. “Can I help” or simply “I’m here for you”. Could seriously make someone feel less alone. 

Because “I’m ok” can destroy you, it can leave you feeling so isolated . It can make you question yourself and drive yourself crazy ” why aren’t I ok” ? “What did I do wrong? Why do I feel this way?

When the truth is our emotions are part of who we are. We feel, we laugh we cry. We know joy and we know sadness. 

Our emotions are our humanity. 

By pretending we are ok we don’t allow ourselves to validate our hearts. 

Let’s leave the polite bullshit behind and be open and honest. 

Let’s share how we really are feeling today. 

Let’s be be vulnerable. 

Let’s be transparent,

Let’s be true.

No, I’m not ok… 

It’s nearly August (squeak)

I cannot believe we are so close to August. 

This summer month means so much to me. 

This month is filled with the friends I get to call my family. 

My Special Kids in the Uk family.

  

I am so excited to turn my virtual hugs into real ones.

To wrap my arms around those I haven’t seen since this time last year.

To see how people have changed, how the children have grown.

I’m so excited to meet our new families, to get to know how special and amazing each one are.

I am bubbling with joy to be hugging on the new additions, babies not even conceived this time last year but now very welcome members of our crazy tribe.

I cannot wait to congratulate those who have major achievements since we last met. New doctors, new nurses, new drivers , new walkers and new talkers and so many more. 

Each one so inspirational in their own way.

I could cry with the excitement I feel, these people are friends who walk alongside me in the world of disability. 

Those who battle each day, challenging decisions, fighting for support and so much more.

This camp makes my summer.

This field is our island for a week or so.

A place where no one looks at our children differently.

Where no one questions our parenting or blinks an eye at tantrums or melt downs.

Where laughter is the daily medicine that heals our hearts.

I want to laugh with men in dresses, give thanks for women with socket sets.

  
Where,we challenge the term normal in so many ways.

This year is a special camp, well even more special than usual. 

It’s the 10th Anniversary.

  
How incredible is that!

10 amazing friendship making camps.

Camps full of memories that are lasting lifetimes. 

Ugly bug balls, balloon releases and the best last night chats you will find anywhere.

I love this camp.

I have the fire pit ready just have to get the marshmallows.

See you in a few weeks xxx

The colours of India

I have an urge travel, this is rather new to me as I always believed that I was a homebody by nature.

But as I am getting older I have this burning desire to explore the world.

To see different cultures and places.

To learn, to observe and  to experience.

To venture to places I have only read off.

One of the countries on my wanderlust list is India.

I am so taken by this beautiful country

All the images I see are full of vibrant colours.

india

From clothing to buildings, India just seems full of energy and life.

I would love to explore this country.

To taste the all the different types of food, already my mouth is watering at the thought of the aromatic spices that will fill the air and tingle my taste buds.

A friend who has visited India described it as intense.

Intense in everything it does.

Nothing is dull, the county just explodes colour.

“I had been seeing the world in black & white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolour.”

KEITH BELLOWS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY

 

I can imagine this to be true and I was interested to read this wonderful infographic presented by Great Rail Journeys, India in colour 

Its rather fascinating as it explains some of the meanings behind the colours.

It has only added to my desire to visit this beautiful country.

This vibrant, exciting colourful country.

 

 

 

*I was given an Indian gift pack for writing this post, but all words and opinions are my own.

Style XL 2015, we came, we saw and we rocked it.

Last weekend was Style XL 2015 a plus size fashion event held in my local city of Birmingham.

Style XL is the brainchild of the wonderful Leah from http://www.leahxl.com.

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Leah is genuinely one of the nicest woman I know and someone who I owe a lot of my new found confidence too. It was only last year that I walked my first catwalk at Style XL 2014. This was thanks to the encouragement and support from Leah, this lady rocks.  Also a big shout out to her beautiful fiancée Clare who is truly lovely.

Seriously though I remember how much I shook with fear back there in 2014 I’m surprised I made it onto the stage.

Anyway back to Style XL 2015 how do I describe this weekend, two words “totally inspiring”.

The collaboration of plus size fashion brands and confidence building workshops created an awesome event.

Women from around the UK coming together to attend a fashion event where the size on your label is irrelevant.

Fashion brands showcasing the very best of plus size fashion proving that style comes in all sizes.

I had a blast.

I was excited to be booked to walk for the awesome Apples and Pears Clothing , Monroe Knows and Curvy Kate but on the day I actually also walked for Topsy Curvy and Lady Voluptuous too.

Five brands ooh get me.

This year was so different for me, although I was still rather shaky the woman who walked onto that catwalk was very different to the one from last year. I actually relished in the attention. I rocked my curves ha ha get me.

Stylexl15

Seriously Style XL was a great success.

Personally though for me Style XL wasn’t about the clothes (sorry brands). It was being surrounded by beautiful inspiring women.

Women that over the last year have become dear friends.

Woman working hard to empower others.

Building people up, encouraging, supporting.

My challenge  to myself this year was to turn the virtual hugs into real ones.

I am so confident behind my keyboard but this year I wanted to find that confidence in real life.

I think achieved this.

I got to catch up with old friends and make some awesome new ones.

I pushed all my boundaries, I introduced myself to people and I wore underwear on a catwalk ( don’t panic dad I’ve hidden the photos).

I achieved more than I could possibly have imagined and yes I may be having a little body wobble but I can see how far I have come.

Thank you Leah for having faith in me.

Thank you to the brands for allowing me to showcase your beautiful clothes.

I  want to end this post saying this, life is to short to wait to wear the clothes you want. Wear them now and celebrate who you are. Size is a number on a label don’t let it dictate how you live your life.

You are beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you different xxx

A body wobble 

This weekend I modelled at an amazing plus size fashion event Style XL. Whilst I had an amazing time I have come to realise that I’m not as far down the body confidence road that I wished I was.

For those that don’t know my journey I will briefly recap. 

I cannot say I’ve ever been a confident woman even back in the days when I was a size 8 dancer I would hide under layers of shapeless clothes. So when my illness left me carrying extra weight the clothes just got bigger and I just hid away more.

I would hide from the camera constantly. Always wanting to be the photographer never the photographed. 

Then Olivia died, and I found myself searching through all my photo albums for photos of myself and my beautiful girl. In the whole of her short nine years I had only taken three photos of us together, 3.

This realisation alone should have shocked me into taking more photos with my girls but it didn’t. In fact I couldn’t, you see I didn’t recognise myself anymore. The loss of Olivia left me struggling with who I was.

 I was lost in the grief.

Then about 4 years ago I came across the plus size community. Beautiful woman celebrating who they are. Loving their bodies as they were, not how society deems they should be. It was this amazing community and these inspiring woman who slowly started to allow me to piece my confidence together. 

I started taking family photos, making sure I was part of the memories.

Started taking little steps forward, dropping the layers after layers of shapeless clothes.

Skinny jeans, camisoles and even the occasional dress.

This journey wasn’t easy, I can promise you I deleted more photos than I shared. Yet slowly I began to like the woman I saw in the mirror. 

I began to recognise that she wasn’t all bad.

This time last year I walked on my first catwalk at Style XL and yes whilst I did shake on every step and barely spoke more than a few words it was a major personal achievement.

This year I was asked back again and this weekend I walked for 5 brands, how amazing is this. 

Yet like any journey in life sometimes we do lose our way a little and for me today I got lost. 

Somewhere I took a road back into the darkness. 

In fact I have completed fallen apart. 

Looking at the photos of the weekend event I couldn’t see how far I have come, just the woman I have self loathed for a long time.

Now I’m exhausted and I know that tiredness is one evil enemy , I mean how can one love themselves when they can barely lift their head off a pillow.

I’m in pain too and this always opens the door for the past self hate to walk right in.

So yes I’m struggling.

But as I shared this within the Plus size community I have been lifted.

Woman reminding me of all I have achieved this weekend.

Brands thanking me for wearing their clothes.

So in my darkness the light has began to shine a little again.

I’m starting to realise beyond the modelling I achieved a great deal this weekend. I may have not reached the place of body confidence I so desire but I have found myself a lot more.

I spent a wonderful weekend with woman I actually spoke to. I introduced myself more and gave out the hugs I’ve wanted to to give out for such a long time. For me this is massive and it’s something I need to see for the achievement it is.

Whilst it may take me longer to feel happy with my body I am finally happy with who I am inside.

This weekend I have laughed until I’ve cried.

I’ve chatted, met new people and caught up with the old.

But mostly I’ve been inspired.

Inspired to continue back down the road of body confidence. To accept that sometimes even the greatest journeys have setbacks but moving forward is the only thing I can do. I cannot go back to the lost woman I was, in fact I’m quite sure the amazing woman I get to call my friends wouldn’t allow me.

So now I’m just going to spent the next few days resting and hopefully as the tiredness and the pain eases I will finally be able to see all that I achieved this weekend. 

But before I do head back under the duvet I just wanted to say thank you.

Thank you to the amazing brands that allowed me to wear their clothes this weekend and thank you to the beautiful woman of the plus size community, I don’t think you realise how much you all mean to me.

Money does not define people’s worth.

Honestly what is with this world and labels.

I’ve have just read someone spouting off about the amount of “so called” writers popping up. The intention of the article was that you can’t call yourself a writer unless you have been published.

Why the hell not? 

If I write a piece of poetry am I not a poet unless that piece is published?

If I dance a dance am I not a dancer?

Why does payment become part of a description.

Some of the greatest composers never made a penny off their compositions.

This is not the first time I have read this kind of opinion.

I’ve heard it from the modelling world as a model should again not call herself a model unless paid to do so.

Now I’m not trying to take away from the professionals but In life but do we need to be thinking this way?

Should I be describing myself as a published writer, a published poet.

Ermm NO

I was a writer when I was 7 years old when I handed my grandad book after book of my stories. When I made him sit through so many of my poems, when I danced around the house to songs I had written, I was a writer.

Seeing my name in print did not define me.

The act of allowing words out of my mind onto paper or through my keyboard did.

I am also a model, I wear clothes to show another.

I may not be earning the supermodel wages but heck that doesn’t take away from my description.

A lot of my friends are carers but I can promise you that they don’t see a penny from it. Does that devalue the hours of loving, supporting and bum changing they do.

When my daughter draw her first picture she was an artist. The fact that this picture was not going to hang in any gallery mattered nothing to me. To me that picture was priceless.

Please let’s not use money to define people’s worth. 

Let the world be full of singers, poets, composers, writers, dancers and so many more.

The definition of another should not define you.

If it does then I’m sorry because that says more about you than them.

Your definition should be whoever you want it to be.

You are the author of your own story.

The artist of your own design.

Sending the kids to the circus 

Ok I’m fuming right now, last night on my Facebook page I shared this 
  
Photo Credit : Sue Fitzmaurice 

About 30 minutes after I posted I received an email telling me I should be ashamed. It seems that after losing a child I should never wish any harm to my others. I should know how special they are.

Now as you can see from the picture I didn’t wish any harm to my kids and maybe they may have enjoyed the circus.

But really !!!

I love my children with all my heart but I’m being totally honest when I say at times they completely drive me mad. 

As for saying I should know better, what the f*ck.

Livvy didn’t die because I threatened to send her off to the circus. She died because of a shitty neurological disorder named Rett Syndrome. 

As for my other three girls I am parenting them the way I feel best. At times like most moms I feel like I’ve messed up. I shout, scream and often lose my patience. 

Losing Livvy didn’t turn me into the perfect parent.

In fact what it did teach me was that I had to treat my girls like normal. I couldn’t wrap them In cotton wool and be scared of anything happening to them. It wasn’t easy the loss of a child does make you over protective and frightened of everything. But raising them in a bubble wouldn’t be fair to them. 

They have a life to live to the full. The whole world to explore, people to meet, memories to make.

And right now if that means a trip with the circus, so be it. 😜

No rules, wear what you love..

My journey over the last two years of self discovery has birthed inside of me a new love for fashion and make up.

I’ve experimented and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Tried colours and patterns that I would have never worn before.

I’ve had some great successes and some terrible failures but all have been a valuable part of growing.

So what have I learned?

Black is still my favourite colour but a little accent of colour can bring to life an outfit.

Pastels will cause everyone you meet to ask you if you are ill as you look a little off colour.

Wearing strong lipstick is great but make sure you drink from one side of a glass otherwise said lipstick ends up all over your forehead. Not good when schmoozing and trying to impress.

  

I can wear a dress and the sky won’t fall in.

  

Shape wear knickers sometimes roll down and cause quite a panic in the middle of an awards evening, no one noticed of course right. 😳

I love wearing hats and yes some do suit me.

  

Fake eyelashes are awesome but not stuck to your cheekbones.

I can wear heels now and again but I’m still on the search for the perfect black boots.

Heels look good but do not wear them for the first time at an event which requires you to stand for over four hours.

To be fair it’s been such an amazing time really discovering who I am and what I like .

Still I think the greatest lesson I have learned is that there are no rules. 

You wear what you want, be it a dress, a crop top ( yes Oprah that’s aimed at you) or ripped jeans. 

Never let anyone or society dictate your style. 

For years I’ve listened to others and not myself, not anymore. 

I’ve learned to love my body and in doing so I’m learning to live freely.

I’m loving fashion and make-up and the only limitation I have is my bank balance.  

Grief is toxic 

I have travelled many roads in life but none has been or ever will be as long as grief.

Grief is a journey of twists and turns with gradients that rise and fall in a blink of an eye.

Sometimes the road is straight and the driving is smooth, then others are bumpy and hard to travel.

I honestly have no directions on this journey, I am beyond lost.

There are no guidelines or signs to help me through.

I’m just stumbling in the wilderness.

My heart is broken by loss, its torn apart by separation.

It crumbles a little more each time I see my children cry.

When they miss their sister.

When they ache to hold her. 

Grief is toxic.

It has no constraints, like a force beyond nature it invades the souls of many.

It cares not about age, about understanding.

From the young to the old it destroys.

I often wonder how to survive grief?

How to fight against an enemy so strong?

What weapons do I have?

Yet my heart is the victim and also the aggressor.

As it is torn apart by grief it still grows in love.

Love is an arrow that shoots into the very heart of grief.

The only defence.

The only attack. 

For once loved, one can love again.

For once loved one can hold on.

Though memories that curl around our hearts armour against destruction.

Grief may win many battles.

But it will not win the war.

Our Love will always conquer.

Because I was and always will be Livvy’s mom.

I knew her love.

I have her love.

Open door 

I was watching The Fosters last night and I found myself smiling. 

I just love the diversity of this programme. The featured family love for love’s sake. 

  

They open their home to children of every ethnicity , gender and sexual orientation

Whilst I know that they are a fictional family they are my inspiration.

As a Foster carer and as a mother I know my doors are open to all. 

I will love upon children and thats it. 

I don’t care about anything else besides the fact that they need someone to care for them.

I want my home to celebrate diversity.

There is no right way to love, love is universal and can be felt by all.

I so wish the whole world was like this family. 

I know its slowly changing but I don’t want to hear of a wedding of the same gender described as a gay wedding, I want it to be seen as a wedding. The coming together of two people who wish to share their lives together. We don’t need to label what should be accepted and seen as normal. You don’t hear of a heterosexual wedding described as such.

I’m not sure if any of this is making sense. 

I guess I’m trying to explain that I never want to assume that my daughters will date a guy or that my son a girl. 

I just want them to fall in love.

  

To have someone to respect and honour them.

To know happiness and true togetherness.

The Fosters to me is just the home I want to offer my kids and any that join us. 

A place where love is given simply as love should be, freely and wholeheartedly.

So dear children of mine, 

Those I birthed and those that grew within my heart and those I have yet to meet.

 I only have a few house rules. 

  

We love unconditionally ,

We respect and we cherish. 

We celebrate each other and we never tear one another apart. 

This world is a crazy place at times, it is full of the best people and a few of the worst. 

Lets celebrate our strengths and encourage each other in our weakness.

Lets make memories and reach for those dreams.

Wherever you go in life and whatever you do, always remember you have a home with us.