Objectified or flattered?

This is an article I wrote for parenting website Bad Mothers Club a few years ago, for more information see my PR friendly page.

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The age of innocence seems to be ebbing away in my house. When asking my seven year old son what he thought of his new teacher, I did not expect him to answer:

“She’s OK, not as fit as Miss Smith though.”

My poor naive brain thought he must be referring to the amount of time she spends on the treadmill and I mumbled a sheepish reply that Miss Smith did indeed seem quite sporty. After bursting into giggles he put me right by letting me know that the general consensus at school was that she was a ‘Fitty’.

When did my sweet innocent child turn into this hormonal creature?? He’ll be reading some God awful lads’ mag and wolf whistling at girls in the playground next.

The left wing, lentil munching hippy came out in me and I tried to discuss how we shouldn’t objectify women in this manner, how Miss Smith was a highly trained, intelligent woman who was a wonderful, caring teacher.

“I agree mummy, but she’s still a hotty!” Charlie happily replied.

This contrast between the grown up phrases coming out of his mouth and the little boy stood in front of me who cried yesterday because he couldn’t finish the last level on his Spongebob game is confusing to say the least.

I thought I was doing so well at sex education, my husband and I decided we would be open and honest and answer any questions they may have with no embarrassment or fibbing about storks. We have talked about how babies are made, about vaginas (though I still hate that word) and penises (or is that peni??). We have looked through a variety of sex ed books aimed at children with the minimal amount of pointing and giggling. I have also had the pleasure of explaining to my then five year old why his willy gets hard sometimes.

But I hadn’t even thought about the social side of sex. Yet in an age where they are completely surrounded by sexual messages, and when they hear older children imitating language they hear on TV, is it any wonder we have a generation of seven year olds who are teens before their time?

So we sit down for a chat, he senses immediately that something is not right and wriggles restlessly, casting a yearning eye towards his games console.

“Son” I say, “when you get older you may start to feel attracted to girls” (The thought that he may be attracted to boys crosses my mind but let’s not complicate things for now.)

“Don’t worry Mummy, I’m always going to live with you,” he says.

“Well, no, you probably won’t,” I say. “When you grow up you will find a girl who you fall in love with and you’ll might want to get married and have your own house. And er, well, the point is that you may find girls attractive but you must treat them with respect. They may not like being referred to as ‘Fitties’.”

“Mummy” he sighs, looking at me as a patient father would an idiot. “Is this because I called Miss Smith a fitty?”

“Well yes. I understand you may hear these phrases but they are not really appropriate.”

He gets up, pats me on the thigh, kisses my cheek and says,

“Don’t worry, Mummy, I think you’re a fitty too!”

Did I feel objectified or flattered? I’m still working on it.

Love Sam xx

Do you dare to go bare?

I keep seeing articles about “brave” celebrities being seen out and about without any make up on.  Is this what being brave means as a woman? Is it vanity or just what is expected of celebs these days?

I know a lot of women who would not dream of leaving the house without makeup, they feel their slap gives them confidence and makes them feel better about themselves.  Now whilst there is nothing wrong with wearing make up to boost your confidence, I do worry that if make up is linked entirely with your self esteem then perhaps it’s not that healthy.

I do wear make up when Im going on a night out, I generally don’t wear much day to day – but I rarely leave the house without mascara, if my lashes are done then I feel ready.

A friend will even wear lippy and mascara when she goes to the gym or out running… though I do laugh, I get that its her safety blanket.

This photo shows me straight from the shower, when I look at it I see dark circles under my eyes and I feel my eyes lack definition.  But I also feel I look like myself – Im a 32 year old mother of three, I see reasonably clear skin, a nice mouth and a twinkle in my eye.  Sadly I do feel a little uncomfortable putting up a photograph of me not looking my best but I thought I’d dare to bare and honestly describe how I feel I look.

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A recent survey found two-thirds of women feel that facing the world without make-up is more stressful than a job interview.   I do find it sad that so many women feel that showing their natural self can be so stressful.

One of my all time favourite people, Zooey Deschanel was featured in People Magazine with no make up, rightly or wrongly, it made me like her more.  She seemed more approachable, more girl next door and more like a ‘real’ person.

 

So do you dare to go bare?  Or is your make up your confidence boost??

Love Sam xx

Update

Sorry I have been away from the blog for a week or so, the downside to feeling better and stronger is that you have to start doing all the things you were doing before illness!! I am back to work, which to be honest feels GREAT.  I run a photography company called The Picture Foundry with my husband and getting back on track feels really good.

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I am driving again (AT LAST!!!!) I felt really isolated and out of control not being able to drive for so long.  We live out in the sticks and have no buses, we don’t even have pavements – so being literally back in the driving seat is a big move forward to me feeling like myself again.  Im also back into the grind of housework and the like.  That bit I could do without!!

All this has meant that I haven’t had time to update the blog, so I am very sorry and I promise to try and be a better blog keeper!  You can always take a peek over at The Picture Foundry’s blog to see what we are up to.

Ive been getting some fab comments this week though about the blog – it still surprises me how many of you are reading.  Thank you!!

One comment that made me laugh…

‘I love reading your blog! Its just like that 50 shades of Grey!!’

‘Ermmmm are you sure you are reading the right one?!!’

‘Ohh I mean I just can’t put it down, I read it as soon as I get in from work!’

 

I have also had quite a few comments from people who want me to write more about life affirmation, positivity and how to improve your life.  That seems like a big thing to do, but Im willing to give it a shot, so look out for some new posts soon.

In other news, I have been asked to speak at an International Women’s Day event in Barnsley next year.  It’s such an honour to be asked and though I am nervous, Im definitely going to do it… Id better get planning!

I still feel a little in shock about the events of the last two months, sometimes I can’t quite believe that it all happened.  Physically I am healing really well, though I still feel tired easily and Im not back to 100% – I am feeling almost back to normal.  I have eventually found what seems like the right ostomy bag for me.  I was having a lot of issues with leaking and the flange not sticking properly (Its ok, you are allowed to laugh at the word ‘flange’) but after trying out a few different products I have found the DanSac diamond shaped one piece is working brilliantly for me!

I had a bit of a tummy bug last week and had diarrhoea (how can you tell? asked a lot of people – it was like water and there was a lot of it!) and so decided to try the marshmallow trick that was mentioned in hospital.  Apparently a few marshmallows really slow down the output and can stop you getting dehydrated.  I found these bad boys!! The BIGGEST marshmallows I have ever seen!!

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I attended a Stoma Open day last week.  My friend said they should rebrand it as the Ideal Stoma Show – y’know sex it up a bit! Anyway, it was good to see the different companies and products but if Im honest I found the whole thing quite difficult.  Id say I was one of the youngest people there by a good few years.  Most were over 65 and so the event was aimed at that age range.  It made me feel a bit out of place.  Stall holders seemed to assume I was a carer and didn’t interact with me as they were the other folk visiting.  The thing is, I KNOW that there are a lot of people with stomas through IBD in the 20s to 40s, so it just made me wonder, where are they? Do they just not want to attend these events? Is it because they don’t need them or because they seem so keyed to older patients?

If you have a stoma I would love to know if you attend events like these and if not why not?  If you do, then let me know your experiences of them.

Love Sam xx

How to survive a zombie apocalypse

Halloween is coming up so just in case this is the time of a zombie apocalypse I thought I’d share my tips on surviving…

I do love a good zombie film, and Im fairly certain that at some point there will be a zombie apocalypse.  My theory is that you can categorise people into three groups – Fighters, Hiders and Suiciders…

Fighters

The group of folk who are the heroes.  They will fight the zombies off, plan an attack, group people together and go all Rambo on the zombies ass.  They’ll be fighting with guns, knives, sticks, records and everything that comes to hand.

Hiders

They board up the windows, lock all the doors and keep quiet.  They will wait out the zombie attack.  They are the organised ones who have a LOT of tinned food and bottled water, maybe even an Anderson shelter or a panic room and a good dose of paranoia.

Suiciders

The folk who give up all hope.  Who would rather take their own lives than risk being taken by a zombie.  Usually the old or weak who feel they can’t fight or hide.

The best way to survive is probably a mix of Fighters and Hiders… You will need to band together a group with the best possible skills.  You need to eat, drink and survive.  If you have organised hiders on side, they will have a Disaster Kit already.

The fighters are going to need some weapons, so having people in your group who have some weaponry skills would be awesome… If not, go for the Shaun of The Dead weapon list by Shadowness.

shaun of the dead weapons

I love this Science of surviving a Zombie Attack… Sorry, zombie is not politically correct, its Consciousness Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CDHD)

Learn the Science of Zombies

The University of Florida is my kinda place, they have a Zombie Attack Plan and survival guide.  You can read the whole (six page!) document here.

zombie attack plan university of florida

So people, get prepared.  The zombies are coming…

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Love Samxx

Make your What Ifs happen every day

Im revisiting some old posts from my old blog, updating them and reblogging – so don’t think you are going mad if you think you’ve seen some posts or photos before!!

My other life is running a business with my amazingly talented photographer husband Timm Cleasby.  In December we took a huge leap and moved into a 15th century mill and started The Picture Foundry – our photography studio and arts hub in South Yorkshire.  As you can imagine, this takes up just a little bit of my time!!

At The Picture Foundry we have a kick ass photography studio as well as gardens, woods and a stream that we are filling with awesome sets and play areas… tree houses, a stage, a ridiculously amazing chaise longue…. We also run Responsible Fishing from the mill – an arts group set up by Timm and our friend James.  They come up with the most fantastical ideas and then put them into place, there is the stone balancing workshops that go out to festivals all over the UK, there is Camp Cardboard, which involves taking a huge pile of cardboard boxes into schools and encouraging the children to transform the school hall into a massive cardboard den.  They currently are working on a frankly bizarre yet exciting idea of building a life size version of the childrens game, Mouse Trap…

The thinking behind our move was to have a better work/life balance and to initiate a creative hub.  Life is short and you never know what time you have here so we wanted to fulfil our dreams, to make the things we have talked about for years actually happen.  A saying often heard nowadays in our home is “whats the worst that can happen?”

We knew that for us, the worst that could happen is to have regrets.  I want to regret the things I have done, not the things I haven’t!  We didn’t want to get old and to look back and think ‘what if’ – so we make our what ifs happen every day.

positivity life change bravery

Its not easy, we have three children, a dog, two cats and five chickens.  We have to think about money and schools and children and we have panics that perhaps we should take an easier route.  But the majority of the time, we feel blessed.  We feel proud for taking a leap and lucky that we have each other.  We wake up every morning and think ‘FUCK ME!!! LOOK WHERE WE LIVE!!!”

Since my surgery it feels even more important to live each day to the maximum, to take risks, live your dreams and make choices that bring you closer to your goals.  Life is very short.  None of us know what time we have on this planet or when life will throw us a massive curveball that will change your life forever.  I knoooooowwwww I blab on about positivity but I truly believe that with the right attitude, a big lump of courage and a bit of luck we can achieve anything.

Love Sam xx

Sleep

After months of insomnia I’m thrilled to say that it is gone! That drug induced grind of being unable to sleep no matter how much I want to seems to have disappeared. The nights of being sat wide eyed and wired are in the past.

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But my sleep patterns are still a bit crazy. I wake several times a night, sometimes to empty my bag and sometimes just to ‘check’ my bag for leaks. I don’t think I’m really getting into that deep sleep, every noise and every creak wakes me. I can get back to sleep fairly easily and quickly but on average I wake 5-6 times a night and I’m tirrrrrred man.

Today is my first day back at work. Luckily I work from home running our business with my husband. (Take a look at The Picture Foundry ) so the stress isn’t on too much but I REALLY wanted to get up and do the school run this morning and I slept through the alarm. Timm has been doing all the school runs for 7 weeks now and I do feel guilty. Now I’m kind of back on my feet I know I need to share the role again but it’s so hard when I feel so exhausted.

My sleep patterns are really skewed, I can’t complain because after months of just NOT sleeping and having to take sleeping tablets it’s a joy to be getting any sleep. But it does make getting back to normal life a bit tricky. Waking at 7am and getting up to sort the kids then driving them to school just seems like a bit of a mountain to climb after a restless night.

Being a mum of three I have obviously had my share of restless nights, but when it is night after night and I’m never feeling fully rested or like I’ve had a deep sleep it is hard work getting through the day! I can’t even remember how I did this when the kids were little and I was up with babies in the night!!

It’s been 6 weeks since my surgery now and I’m feeling really good. Physically my wound is totally healed, I occasionally have a little pain in it. My stoma is working well, the stitches around it are healed and though I have the occasional leak, I’m kind if getting there with it. I still tire easily, doing normal every day tasks exhaust me and so I’m careful to allow myself rest and healing time still. Mentally I have good days and bad but it feels like there are more good ones! On the bad days I want to lie under the covers feeling sorry for myself, weeping and drowning my sorrows in tea. And so I do.

I allow myself to have shit days.  Days where I just don’t have the spirit to smile through the day, days where Im tearful and fed up, where I am pissed off and angry.  I think its important to let yourself release these feelings, that it helps with the healing process.  You need to have the dark times so you can appreciate the bright ones.  You know Im all about the positivity and so although I let myself have the pyjama days watching terrible tv and eating ice cream, I make sure that the next day I get up and do something that makes me feel good.  I won’t let myself go down a spiral of feeling lower and lower.

Today is a good day, Im off to walk the dog this morning and then back into the office to get back to work!

If only I can stay awake through it…

Love Sam xx

My stoma

I’ve been a bit shy about sharing a photograph of my stoma. It’s a bit like showing someone your bum hole!! But I know how much it helped me to see other people’s stomas before I had my surgery, so here it is!

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It may not be pretty but it has changed my life. Because of my stoma I no longer have pain, diarrhoea or bleeding. I am off all medication for the first time in ten years and I’m learning to live a new life!

Thank you stoma!!

Sam xx

Happy Anniversary

15 years ago today I met my amazing husband Timm in the Leadmill when my friend told him ‘my mate fancies you’

15 years and 3 kids later and the rest is history. Timm you are my best friend, I love you more than ever. You make me so happy and I couldn’t imagine life without you. You are awesome!

I’m so glad to be Mrs Cleasby xxx

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Love Sam xx

Ileostomy, self esteem and Dead Sons…

Last night I got a Facebook message from the lovely Luke Baker from Dead Sons.  It was out of the blue and I was a little surprised, but when I read it I cried, then snorted, then laughed, then blushed.  A lot.  I know Luke, as Timm is involved with Dead Sons but I applaud any man brave enough to email me to tell me Im wrong…

dead sons Luke Baker

Photo by Timm Cleasby – The Picture Foundry

As I have blogged already, I feel that my confidence and self esteem have taken a knock since I had my surgery, I was saying to another friend recently that I worry my bag defines me at the minute and this message made me remember that it doesn’t.  It feels all encompassing right now, but it isn’t me.  Its just an attachment.

If I ever needed a bit of a confidence boost, it is now.  And the following message made me feel so much better and reminded me of my old self…

“Hey Sam!

I always read your blogs and one thing i noticed is that your more recent ones have been way more positive! Thats ace! I hope you’re well and i hope Timm is looking after you! Im glad that it seems your making a rubbishy situation into something really interesting and a focal point for thought!

There was one I read a few weeks back and I meant to message you off the back of it!  I just read your one about poo and it reminded me that I had something to say!!!  It must have been one when you were feeling pretty rubbish and down and its how you didnt feel yourself and maybe not as attractive.

It struck a bit of a response in me and dragged me away from writing turkish pop songs but it basically got me thinking, I go in to town and see girls my age strutting there stuff, dolled up to the nines, when in absolute honesty, i think… if only they knew.  I just want you to know, you knock blocks out of most women Sam!  Stoma, no stoma, you’re an absolute babe!

Timm knows that (obviously), and even a group of young’uns who think they can play instruments think that! It just got me thinking is all, how can a woman so full of confidence, attractive and so fun be down about this!  When the situation, as crappy as it may seems, that she’s writing about, doesn’t one bit, change who she is!

Anyway, ive said my piece now!  Also, I just want you to know, this wasnt written with empathy or feeling sorry… more just like, shes wrong and id like to tell her that shes wrong, cos i think shes fucking ace! xxx”

Our confidence and self esteem come from within, not from the acceptance or compliments of others, but man, when you are feeling shit they sure do help!!

You can buy the single Gasoline by Dead Sons from iTunes here.

Love Sam xx