Style Crush: Villanelle

I’m massively obsessed with the show Killing Eve at the moment.

Written by Phoebe Waller Bridge who also wrote Fleabag.

The main character Eve is so awkward and hopeless and clever and funny.

But the real star of the show is the psychopathic contract killer, Villanelle.

She has the coolest wardrobe.

She never panics on a job.

She’s crazy.

She’s cool.


She has the best lines.

She’s beautiful.

Almost makes you want to be a psychopathic serial killer living in Paris.

Style Crush: Zendaya

What I love about Zendaya’s style is how varied it is. She varies her hair, her makeup. Everything. But unlike much of the Fashion Week street style, she looks nice. She’s inspirational, not comical.

She has fun.

She experiments.

I mean I’m sure it helps that she would look amazing wearing a sack.

I love how she dresses down too. She’s comfortable, not trying too hard but still cool.

She really appears to have it all.

I like to hope

So I do try and be cool. Sometimes. But then other times I think part of being grown up is just enjoying what you enjoy. Who cares what anyone thinks?

So… I like cheesy inspirational quotes.

I think by repeatedly viewing positive images it strengthens the positive pathways in your brain.

I think these reminders help to build positive habits, and to avoid the bad habits that led you on a downward spiral.

When Pandora opened the box with all the troubles of the world, there was also hope in the box. Despite all the troubles, there is always hope.

Style Crush: Victoria Beckham

I love Victoria Beckham’s style because she experiments and doesn’t play it safe. There is no doubt that she loves fashion.

She embodies Anna Wintour’s advice:

Let it be unique to yourself and yet identifiable to others

I love how she wears buttoned shirts.

I love how she wears polo neck jumpers and baggy pants.

I love how she wears long coats and tight trousers.

I love this dress – the mix of fabric and cut.

I like change

The saying “This too shall pass” can be interpreted in multiple ways. It can be comforting when times are bad, or a reminder to appreciate when times are good. It is also a reminder that attachment causes suffering.

When things are bad, I always forget that things change. I often feel like “this is my life now. Forever”. Remembering this saying helps make the unpleasant more tolerable.

On another level, this saying is a reminder not to cling too closely to anything external as a source of happiness. We all age. Friendships change. Basing our happiness on changeable things give us a very unstable foundation.

Another interpretation of this saying is that it is a reminder to appreciate the good in the present, as it is. Let’s be grateful for what we have now.

I like sugar

I love Haigh’s chocolate, but other than that my diet has always been pretty low in sugar – till I stopped the booze. When I first stopped drinking alcohol (due to its high association with cancer), I found myself eating jam and chocolate mousse, and drinking nonalcoholic sparkling grape juice. It was bad. After a few months, though, the sugar cravings seemed to die away naturally as my body chemistry reset back to previous levels.

This experience inspired me to investigate a bit further to understand what had happened. I also wanted to see if I could reduce the sugar in my diet a bit more – without going too extreme.

I had previously read a few I Quit Sugar type books, but this time I read The Sweet Poison Quit Plan which provides an easy to understand guide to reducing the fructose in your diet to healthier levels.

I haven’t fully quit sugar and I’m not sure I want to. Apart from the month or two after quitting alcohol I’ve never craved sweets too much. My aim is to delay having sugar until as late as possible in the day – usually I have chocolate for dessert after dinner. I’m not prepared to give that up but am happy to swap a few things around to reduce my sugar consumption a bit more.

Based upon the book and my own food preferences I ended up with the following list of low fructose choices…

Breakfast

  • Porridge – I’m going to try Glucose Syrup instead of honey, or berries and or Greek yoghurt
  • Toast – with vegemite or peanut butter
  • Eggs and bacon and hash browns
  • Plain croissants

Morning tea

  • Vitaweats and peanut butter
  • A homemade roasted nut mix

Lunch

  • Generally a protein – chicken, tuna or haloumi – and a salad – kale or coleslaw (with whole egg mayo) or English spinach with chickpeas or lentils

Afternoon tea

  • A piece of fruit – pear, peach, orange or berries are best
  • Avocado on toast or vitaweats
  • Corn chips or crackers
  • Cheese including cream cheese
  • Humus

Dinner

  • Meat of any kind is fine. All veggies are all ok.
  • In general, sugar (fructose) is in sauces and marinades and salad dressings. Mustard, soy, pesto and gravy are usually ok.
  • Hamburgers, Chips, nuggets, rice are ok takeaway options. 2 slices of pizza at most.

Dessert

  • Haigh’s Chocolate or Lindt 70%

Drinks

  • I have 1 or 2 cappuccinos a day
  • Lots of black tea and milk.
  • Full fat dairy is subject to debate but I prefer it

Things I am giving up

  • Jam and honey
  • Sweet chilli sauce and chutney
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Ice cream – there is no sugar free option for ice cream
  • Juices especially non-alcoholic grape juice
  • Balsamic vinegar and most salad dressings except whole egg mayo
  • Cakes and biscuits and pancakes
  • Dried fruit
  • Thai take away is basically full of sugar.

Reading this book has given me a much better understanding of what foods have lots of fructose in them. I understand now that sugar is addictive, and fructose in particular detrimentally impacts the chemicals that make your body feel full. I’m going to continue experimenting with reducing my fructose consumption and see how it works for me.

I accept

I can’t say that I am good at accepting things as they are. Like a toddler, I want to stamp my foot. I want someone else’s life. Someone else’s body.

The good part of acceptance is the giving in. The wallowing. The relief of giving up the fight.

But acceptance is also paradoxically about becoming my own champion – challenging the inner critic and sticking up for myself. Sure, it means thinking that “this is who I am at the moment, this is my reality” but at the same time acceptance must include recognising “and that is ok”.

Acceptance must also incorporate an awareness that everything is subject to change – so acceptance is an ongoing practice rather than a one-off attempt.

Continue reading “I accept”

I love Nanette

Oh my God. Nanette by Hannah Gadsby is life changing.

I watched it yesterday and have felt winded ever since. It made me realise how much cultural bullying I have internalised.

When she said this:

I practically sobbed aloud. As a cancer patient I have been absolutely mutilated by surgery and radiation. I have been absolutely broken. But at the same time I have survived, and I am proud of my resilience.

Apparently she has a book coming out next year. I can’t wait.

Until then, I will be watching Nanette again. Just as soon as I get my breathe back.

I like myself

Despite being so very very old, I feel like I am only beginning to understand myself.

I have been reading Alain de Botton’s book Status Anxiety, which I found at just the right time for me. It explains so much of the difficulties I have been facing.

I have always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t like the limelight. I do have my close friends of course but, unlike some people, I’ve never had the desire to be popular.

For example, I know a number of people who have always wanted to be “somebody”. I’ve never understood this at all. The thought of being famous horrifies me.

However in recent years I have found it surprising how much it upsets me to be written off at a glance by strangers. I really am surprised how much it bothers me. I thought I was above worrying about the opinions of strangers. Maybe all this time I have taken being treated well for granted? Maybe I’m only noticing it now that it is going away?

This book has helped me to understand the reason why it hurts. I don’t want to be “somebody” but I, like everyone, have an innate need to be treated with basic kindness. That is, that people pay attention to me – not all the time but when necessary. That my opinion matters. That I matter. Basic stuff.

This book argues that underneath it all, status anxiety is about wanting to be treated like you have value.

The impact of low status should not be read in material terms alone….It lies, also, and even primarily, in the challenge that low status poses to a sense of self-respect. Discomfort can be endured without complaint for long periods when it is unaccompanied by humiliation…

So when people show off their success, it should be seen as a misguided attempt to prove that they are worthwhile as people. Even though the reality is that human worth is not, or at least should not, be based upon external trappings.

What really sums up my life for me at the moment is this equation:

In order to feel OK, I either have to lower my idea of what it means to be acceptable (“pretensions”) or work harder to meet my beliefs as to what acceptable looks like (“success”).

Accepting that I can’t do much in the weeks after an operation, reducing my pretensions, helps me feel better about myself. Stopping pressuring myself to do more, improves my self esteem.

The book also talks about how our “pretensions” are based upon our peer group. Which explains why not looking at friends posting overseas holiday pics on Facebook helps me feel better (by allowing me to reduce my pretensions).

However our “pretensions” are less affected by people who we see as being too far above us. So billionaire lifestyles do not impact my pretensions as much as the family down the road.

This equation just explains it so much.

I like reading

In an attempt to get back into reading, I have decided to go back and read my favourite books.


My childhood favourite – The Dark is Rising – is a series of five books, where The Old Ones fight The Dark in a series of challenges, with many references to the legend of King Arthur. The books are set in modern times (roughly around the 1970s) and follow a bunch of kids in Cornwall, Wales and the Thames Valley.

These books are just so easy and comforting to read. They are undoubtedly childrens’ books, a lot more basic than Harry Potter, but they do cleverly explore concepts related to good versus evil.

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I love everything Kate Atkinson writes. She is one of those authors whose books I will buy without hesitation, because I know after I read them, I will want to share them with friends.

Her last two books, Life After Life and A God in Ruins are undoubtedly her best. Set in the UK around the Second World War, they really immerse you in that time period. In these books, she explores themes such as regret and choice, and part of the pleasure in reading these books is pondering these themes as you go along.


I didn’t like Rachel Joyce‘s latest book. I couldn’t finish it.

However her books about Harold Fry and Miss Queenie Hennessy are amongst my absolute favourites. From the moment Harold set off for a walk, I was absolutely hooked. I can’t wait to read these again.



David Mitchell is an author who when he gets it right, I absolutely love his work, but I do find him a bit hit and miss. Probably this is due to him being more experimental with his writing topics and techniques than other similarly successful authors.

The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas are both masterful reads, that leave you stunned at the end.


Each Alan Bradley book about Flavia de Luce is a joy. Some are better than others but they never disappoint.

I love Nancy Mitford’s books. Flavia also lives in a rundown mansion in the English countryside during the same period of time, but she is a much more satisfactory heroine, concerned with solving murders rather than marrying well.


For some reason the story of King Henry VIII fascinates me. So part of the reason I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel was because they told this well known story in such a different way.

I was bereft when I finshed Wolf Hall.

Actually, of all the books in this list, these are perhaps the ones I am least likely to reread as they are quite a hard slog, but I am still tempted to try.

I like ruminating

It is school holidays here and Facebook is full of overseas holiday images. The envy is killing me. Then I ask myself – why? – and explore the source of my envy.

I’ve made the choice to be here. The envy remains, but is less.

Meditation is teaching me that noticing thoughts and feelings isn’t about stopping them. It isn’t about feeling better. It is about being aware of feelings.

The frontal lobe does kick in and regulate emotions for sure. I do consciously relax tensed muscles and breathe more deeply. But the emotions are still there.

I used to post here lots of fashion stuff and clothes. I was all about looking as good as I could, as young as I could (without being weird). Now? Post cancer? I don’t want to care about my appearance anymore. I do still care, but I know for me this is a path to misery.

Instead I am trying to understand the source of my misery.

The questions I have are – How important is appearance? What do I think dressing up will achieve exactly? Will it really make me happy?

I know if I leave the house looking like a bum, that I generally regret it. It makes me sad and I think people do treat you worse.

I know if I make an effort, I feel better but not happy. It doesn’t make me happy. It is more like armour. I feel “safe”.

I feel angry that appearance matters so much. To me. I want to dress like a bum all the time. But I’m worried that no one will like me, my husband will leave me, I will embarrass my teenage daughter, people in shops will treat me badly – but mostly that I will treat me badly. I will look at my reflection and think mean things about myself.

And that is why fashion matters to me.

I like to ski

No. I take that back. I love to ski more than anything else in the world. I would ski every day if I could. I’m quite curious in fact to know if I would ever get bored of it. As long as it wasn’t the same resort, I reckon I could do it forever.

The ski resorts I’ve been to:

Canada

  • Sun Peaks

  • Silverstar

USA

  • Park city. We stayed at Canyons
  • Alta
  • Snowbird
  • Brighton
  • Solitude

France

  • Belle Plagne, Les Arcs.

  • Alpe de’Huez

  • Les Gets
  • Meribel

  • Courchevel

Italy

  • Madonna de Campiglio

New Zealand

  • Cardrona

  • Coronet Peak

Australia

  • Perisher, Smiggins, Blue Cow
  • Thredbo

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My favourite country would be Canada.

But I would happily return to most of these resorts again.