8 ways to stop procrastinating and get s**t done

My name is Sam Cleasby and I am a procrastinator.  Don’t judge me, because I bet you do it to.

I run a photography company The Picture Foundry with my husband, I work with arts group Responsible Fishing, run this blog and I’m in the process of setting up a new business (launching December 2014… EEEEEPPPPPPPPP).  Working a portfolio career means I need to be organised and motivated.  Now I am an organised person on the whole, I love a list, hate being late and generally keep on top of things.

But now and then the old procrastinating demon sits on my shoulder whispering “Google images of funny talking dogs, Sam”

I stand firm at first, “NO demon! I have deadlines!”

“Sam, Mishka loves you” (if you don’t get this reference, click here.  But be warned, you will lose the next hour of you life…

The next thing I know, I have spent two hours on youtube watching goats screaming like humans.

But I am learning to curb my procrastination habit and thought I would share my hard earned wisdom to improve productivity and teach you all how to get shit done.



This has to be number one.  Whether it is Facebook, twitter, vine or tumblr, social media is the nemesis of productivity.  It is great fun and all, but it sucks you in and stops you from doing what needs doing.  Don’t have the pages open in the background, because it Will ping and you WILL click and next thing you know you are watching a girl being woken up by a hoover attached to her face

Set times to check your social media and don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you have your work Facebook page open, it means you are working.


facebook dislike




I LOVE lists, I get a massive sense of achievement in crossing things off lists.

The important thing is to not over face yourself, as a ten page list will be overwhelming, stressful and not helpful at all.  I have a weekly list of the things that need doing and then a day to day list.  It keeps me on track and I feel good when I know I have completed it.

lists of note johnny cash



Make a decision that when you have completed X, you will treat yourself to Y.  Be that a cup of coffee or ten minutes on candy crush.  It doesn’t have to be anything major, but a small treat will be that dangling carrot that can get you to finish the job in hand.

sam cleasby so bad ass ulcerative colitis blog sheffield



It is really difficult to be organised and productive if you are working in a total mess.  Sort out your desk and clear out the crap.  Give yourself 10 minutes at the start of every day to make sure your workspace is clear and easy to work at.




I am not a morning person, BUT I know I feel guilty working in the evenings when the children are about and so I start my day early, but leave creative tasks which require more effort to the afternoon.

Work out when you work the best.  I have a friend who wakes a couple of hours before his kids because he works best in the silence of the morning with a big coffee.  Other friends swear by not starting till midday.




Sometimes your brain just doesn’t want to get into gear.  If you are really struggling to concentrate, take a break.  Go walk around the block, get some fresh air or a drink.

There are times when there is no point in forcing it, you won’t be creating the best work and will probably need to re-do it.

kobo e reader



If you have to spend 8 hours a day somewhere, then make it look pretty/awesome/inspiring… You are never going to work your best if you are in a hovel.  Make it personal, make it creative, make it you.

I have images I love, photos of friends and family and things that make me smile around my desk.  It cheers me up to have those things in my eye line.




If you are a homeworker, it is really easy to end up feeling isolated, bored and fed up.  Make a point of getting out and working in the same space as someone else.  Do you have any home working friends? Can you team up and work in the same office?  I am lucky that I work with my husband and so we share an office, but on the days he is out on assignment I HATE it and get so much less work done.

 work with chronic illness

Love Sam x

A love letter to myself

Dear Sam,

This is a little awkward but here we go, this is a love letter to you because you need to hear this.  Society tells us that it is immodest to love yourself and the marketing people of the world don’t want you to love yourself but after a really shitty year, let’s just go for it.

You have been through so much and I am really proud of you, you battled so hard and I am amazed that you have come through this experience a stronger person.  Though at times you are frightened, angry and distressed, you have taken it all on board and made something amazing from a terrible situation.

I know you feel you have to always have a smile on your face, that you created this public face of positivity that sometimes makes it difficult to admit when you are struggling.  But you have had to learn let yourself be sad, let yourself cry, let yourself be angry.

I love that you love your friends, that you care about them and try to be there, your kindness has been repaid 100 times over during your recovery and you are lucky to have such wonderful mates around you.  I love that you want everyone to be happy but you know that sometimes you need to take some time for yourself.

You have learnt that you need to look after yourself, that your body is the only place you have to live, that means accepting it’s weaknesses and recognising when you need to stop and rest.  You realise how important you are, and that you can’t help others if you are broken yourself.

I love that you have learnt to love your body, that you have accepted your new shape, your scars and your modified self with pride and joy.  It hasn’t been an easy path but your new found happiness has not only benefitted yourself but has become a role model for others.

I love that after a long time of feeling that your career path was lost in the woods, that you have cleared the trees and discovered these strengths that you didn’t know you had.  Your childhood dream of being a writer that you thought was a silly fantasy is coming true through your own hard work and you are carving your own career and making your own opportunities.

I love that you are silly. That you are ok with playing the fool and know that your laughter is far sexier than any pout.  I love that you did a ropy poly across a dance floor just to see the look on all the “beautiful people’s” faces.  I love that as you grow older and relax more, your humour grows without shame.

I love that you are learning that you can’t fix everyone and that sometimes, no matter how hard it feels, you need to cut people from your day to day life who don’t bring you anything positive.  I love that you are learning that you shouldn’t be a doormat and that ‘no’ is a full sentence.

I love your interests in penguins, dinosaurs, collecting found shopping lists, learning about obscure, random things, knitting, reading and whatever else takes your fancy.  I love that you like these things despite others mocking you for them.  You know your interests should make you happy, not anyone else.

I love that you adore your children.  That you accept that being a mother means constant adapting and learning, you know you aren’t a perfect mum but you try your best and know that is enough.  I love that your children haven’t been scarred by your illness but it has taught them to be more empathetic, caring and open.

I love that you have found a man who makes every part of your life better.  Though you have had really tough times over the last 16 years, the past year that would have broke some people has just brought you so much closer together.  You are a lucky woman to have a person in your life who sees through everything and loves your soul.

I love that you are learning that the hard shell you put up for years didn’t just keep out the hurtful words but it kept out some good people and so you have learnt to drop the shield.  Your path hasn’t always been easy and I know you have anger and hurt when you think of your youth but I love that you are learning to deal with that.  You have been rough on yourself but you are learning to be kinder.  I know you didn’t always feel like you had people to guide you towards making healthy decisions, but that has made you the person you are and I forgive you for all the mistakes you have made along the way.

Your decision to take the last difficult year of illness and recovery and make something positive of it is a real achievement.  This love letter is just one way that you are hoping to teach others to love themselves and I hope you continue and make a difference to the lives of other people.  I love that you blog your journey without shame or embarrassment in the hope that it will help others.

So here we come to the end of this awkward letter of self love, all I can finish with are the words of the great Dory.

Just keep swimming…


Love Sam xx

Choose happiness

choose happiness sam cleasby so bad ass

Sometimes I need to remind myself of this…

I am writing about happiness over on Life Labs for Psychologies Magazine, go take a look.

Sam x

It's my ONE YEAR no coloniversary!!!

What a year it has been! On 3rd September 2013 after over a week in hospital being pumped full of so many drugs, the decision was made that I needed to have my colon (my large bowel) removed. And so I was wheeled into surgery and this whole roller coaster began.

I was cut open and my colon was removed and the end of my small intestine was formed into an ostomy that was pulled through a little hole in my stomach and sewn into place. This was the start of my eight months with an ileostomy, wearing a bag on the outside of my stomach. In May 2014 I had the second part of my surgery to remove my ileostomy and form a j pouch that reconnects my bowel to my bum.

It’s been the hardest year of my life. There were times when I thought I couldn’t cope any more, that I was in so much pain and distress that I’d have done anything for it to stop. There were times when I felt so angry with the world, that it wasn’t fair that I had to deal with all of it. There were times when I shut out the people around me as I couldn’t deal with the guilt of seeing their sad faces when they looked at me.


Just over a year ago I started this blog as a diary, a way to talk about what was happening with my health and a cathartic exercise to help clear the stress and jumble of worries in my mind. I had absolutely no idea that it would be read all over the world thousands of times a day! That idea still blows my mind and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to each and every person who reads this blog.

What started as a personal therapy session has become a place to raise awareness of IBD, ulcerative colitis and crohns and also ostomies and pouch surgery. It’s become a place to talk about self esteem, body confidence and women’s issues. It’s become something that I’m so bloody proud of.


One year ago today as I lost my colon I thought about how it would improve my health and my quality of life. I had no idea that it would lead me on this fantastic journey that I’ve had the privilege of sharing with you. My illness and surgery always felt like a negative in my life, something that was unfair and made me angry, sad and fed up. This blog has allowed me to change my experience into something that could help others, it’s given me a new lease on life and shown me that I am stronger than I ever thought and that I have an opportunity to share that with other people.

So happy no coloniversary to me today!!!

Thank you for reading and sharing my journey, here’s to the next year!!!


Love Sam xxx

About to get your A-level results? Oh the places you'll go!

Oh lovely teenagers, you are on the cusp of finding out your A-level results and I’m sure you are babbing yourselves. Feeling that you could have worked harder, revised a little more, gone out a little less?

Tomorrow you will be officially finishing school for good. The end of 13 years of education, some of you are off to university or going out into the world of work. You are entering the scary world of grown ups. Let me tell you a little secret though, all those whirling, terrifying feelings that you aren’t ready to be a grown up? We all feel like that sometimes!


Please remember that these results aren’t the be all and end all, they may shape the path you take over the next few years but baby, there are many paths. Some of you may be lucky enough to have a set vision, your path is a straight road with the career and life you’ve always hoped for shining at the end like a beacon.

Most of you will have winding paths, sometimes they come to a dead end and you’ll have to back track and find another road. Some of you will hop from path to path, trying lots of lanes before finding your own. And some of you will look at all the paths and think “fuck, none of these are right for me at all!” Panic not, because you all have the ability to create you own path in life.


Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are silly, or that you can’t do it. Work hard, be passionate and get out there looking for opportunities. You want to run away with the circus?! Do it! Do it now! You want to be a doctor but no one in your family has ever even seen the inside of university? If you have the intelligence and the grades, you can find a way to fight for it.

Without going all cliche on you, you only live once. We are here for such a brief time and at your age, with the world at your feet, now is the time to follow your heart, strive to be the thing that you dream to be, have fun, make adventures and get out there and live.

Worry not that you can only have one path, as long as you are passionate about your own life, you will succeed and be happy. I had my first child at 19, it meant I couldn’t go to university or travel the world. I stayed home, got married and raised three wonderful children. And now they are older, I am getting my chance to change my life. I’m doing a writing course, I run a business with my husband and I’m just starting a new business with my friend Violet Fenn (all very secret right now though!!)

Someone else who has had a varied path in life is my friend Curtis Woodhouse. A lad from a small coastal town who dreamed big and made it as a professional football player. When he surprised the world and retired, he decided he wanted to be a professional boxer. He was mocked and laughed at, but you know what? He worked his arse off and this year became the Light Welterweight British Champion! Screw you careers advisor!!!!

So good luck to you, I hope you get the grades you are hoping for. But whatever your results, well done! Good work on getting through your childhood and welcome to being an adult!

It’s scary, it sucks sometimes but with passion, good friends, hard work and a sense of humour you will go far.

I’ll end with my favourite story of Dr Seuss, Oh the places you’ll go! It’s a long one, but well worth the read.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Love Sam xx

The Steel Giant and does a bad ass shit in the woods?

Today has been a big day for me in getting back to life, exercise and being outdoors. Since my j pouch operation I have had a few days out but today was the first real time I was out and about with no easy and quick toilet access and I was scared!

Physically I’m doing loads better but mentally I still struggle from time to time. I worry about having accidents, about not being able to live the life I want because of fear, I worry that I’m abnormal. But today had lifted my spirits and boosted my confidence!

I went for bike rides around Rother Valley Park today with my friend Caroline, Timm and all the kids. I only learnt how to ride a bike a few years ago so it was a bit nerve wracking but we had a fab time!!



Then Timm, the kids and I went on a bit of an adventure, it was supposed to be a planned walk to see the Steel Giant but we were running late and missed the group. So we googled and found a ramblers walk and decided to go it alone.

Starting at Darnall train station I have to admit the start of the walk was not quite what I was expecting but as is the wonderful thing about Sheffield, within minutes we were in woodland.




We then found The Steel Giant, a sculpture hidden away in the woods by the Sheffield Parkway.


We had a great time exploring parts of the city we’d never seen before. Then the thing I was most frightened of happened. I was desperate for the loo… I couldn’t hold it and we were no where near any toilets. The question ‘does a bad ass shit in the woods?’ has been answered today…

You know what though? I had been stressing thinking this is the worst thing that could happen. That I’d be mortified and it would be the end of the world. Turns out it’s quite funny and now I’m telling you about it… I’m almost glad it happened as now I don’t feel stressed about it happening again. It happened, it wasn’t ideal, but I dealt with it and the world is still turning.



I share these embarrassing things because unfortunately they are things us IBD folk have to face. But when shit happens (literally) you can either let it ruin your day or thank your lucky stars you have nappy sacks and baby wipes in your bag and laugh it off! I pick the latter…

I mean, look how pleased I am…


So my lovely, beautiful, wonderful readers. Remember that when shit happens as long as you are a little prepared and can find your sense if humour, everything will be ok.

Much Love


Sam xxx

What to do when bad things happen

When bad things happen it is so easy to get into a spiral of feeling down, whether its something big like illness, relationship troubles or a relatively minor thing like your car won’t start or your best top gets boil washed and comes out small enough for a Barbie…

Feelings of sorrow, sadness, anger and frustration are normal but are they helpful?  Focusing on the things that are going wrong in your life feeds the negativity.  Try to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

Here are 10 things to do when bad things happen.  Will they make everything better? Probably not, but will they make YOU feel better in that moment, I hope so.

1. Remember that you aren’t alone

Whatever your issue, you are not alone.  The internet is a big place and there will always be someone else going through or come through what you are.  I blog about my illness so much because when I was sick it helped me to read other peoples experiences.  It gave me practical tips and ideas on how I could manage but it stopped me feeling quite so alone.

Talk to family and friends if you can, but if not there is a whole world of support waiting for you online if you just look.  Asking for help is not failing, it is being sensible and accepting when you need a hand.

My one caveat to this is that forums can be depressing… people like to write about the bad times but are less likely to write about positive experiences, so if you feel that reading a forum is not helping just switch that shit off!

2 Take a deep breath

I would have titled this ‘Meditate’ or ‘Practice Mindfulness’ but those words turn off some people, they thing its hippyish or a bit silly.  The reality is that focusing solely on your breathing clears your mind.  Close your eyes and think about your in breath and your out breath.  Are you breathing through your nose or mouth? Control your breathing, inhaling slowly and the gently release that breath…

This simple act WILL calm you down.  I try to do this a couple of times a day, I find it really focuses my thoughts and makes my day calmer.

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

3 Knowledge is Power

I really believe that knowledge is power, it gives you control and allows to to make informed choices and rational decisions. If you feel out of control, everything seems worse.  Google it.  Go to the library.  Ask someone.  But learn about what it is you are going through.

4. Be kind to yourself

When life slaps you in the face you need to be kind to yourself.  What makes you feel better? Is it a night out with the girls or a movie in with the kids? Do the thing that relaxes you and makes you feel good, whether that is cooking an amazing meal for yourself, going to the library and hiding there reading all afternoon, a deep bath with oils and bubbles or a pamper of painting your nails or having a facial.

I don’t know what makes you feel better, you do, so do it.

5. Hide away

Its ok to feel you need to hide away, as long as its only temporary.  When things are bad I like to make myself a nest of cushions and duvets, I bring a picnic of foods to the nest that are easy to eat and need no cooking.  I climb into my nest with a remote and watch films or tv series… I love Netflix (my friends laugh at me, because I talk about it a lot!) My hideaway means slobbing in a corner and allowing myself to switch off.

6. Things will get better

I saw this quote that said “Everything is ok in the end, if its not ok, then its not the end”  Perhaps things won’t get better in the way you think they should but even the darkest night has a sunrise.  Be open to new experiences, be positive and grateful for the things you have and things will get better.

stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy ibd ulcerative colitis photo shoot

7 Look for the love and kindness around you

No matter what the Daily Fail wants you to think, people are generally good.  Of course there are arseholes in this life but most people have a heart filled with love and kindness if you just look for it.

Give out love and kindness to others and you will receive it back.

8 Get moving

I know its a cliche, but thats because it works.  When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body.  It is proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety, boost self esteem and improve sleep.  You don’t have to go to the gym or run a marathon, but a long walk in the woods with my dog always makes me feel a bit better about the world.

walking dog exercise for when things go wrong

9 Get organised – gain control

You might not be able to control what has happened, but you can control how you react and deal with it. Making lists or having a clear out is a physical way to help your mind feel organised.  I know that control is a big thing for me, if I feel out of control I get frustrated, angry and like Im in free fall.  Organise your space, use pinterest, get a note book, anything that helps you feel organised is going to help.

10 Know that you always have a choice.

No matter what happens, you do have a choice in how you react. Accept responsibility of your own actions, educate yourself, take a deep breath and know that you can face the worst things in the world, your reaction to them is your own doing.

EE Cummings said “remember one thing only; that it’s you – nobody else – who determines your destiny and decides your fate.  Nobody else can be alive for you; nor can you be alive for anybody else”

Sam xxx

Its my six month no coloniversary!

Can you believe it? It has been six months since I had my colon removed, on 3rd September 2013 I had a sub total colectomy.  Six months of having my ileostomy bag, six months of no going to the toilet for a poo, six months of no farting!!

Six months ago at this time, I was waiting on my ward nil by mouth.  I had told Timm not to come in as I wanted him to take the kids to school and wanted him to be there when I woke up after the surgery.  I sat alone terrified.  I knew it was the right thing for me to do but the future seemed so frightening, so unknown.  What would life be like with a stoma? How would my family and friend react? What would my kids think?  Would I feel like less of a woman after?

All these questions circled around my mind as I lay in that hospital bed waiting for the call.  Finally I was taken down to theatre and had just the best care and support before the op, my final thoughts as I drifted off with the anaesthetic were of laying on a beach in Australia with my sister…

ulcerative colitis surgery sub total colectomy with end ileostomy

I woke in recovery, tired, in pain but relieved to be waking up.  Timm was there, he leant over me and hugged and kissed me and though I was in this entirely alien environment, it felt ok because he was there with me.  There were issues from the surgery, concern over blood tests and infection and so I spent my first night in HDU.  One small room where my bed was in the centre, I had so many wires, tubes and bandages all over me.  I had one nurse all through the night who watched over me and kept checking, rechecking and checking again.  It was scary but I felt safe and that everything was going to be ok.

recovery from sub total colectomy and end ileostomy

I can’t believe that was all six months ago!  There have been ups and downs in my recovery but in the last six months I have felt better than I have in the previous ten years.  My Ulcerative Colitis has gone and I no longer live in pain and on the toilet.  For anyone going through the surgery at this time, just hold on in there, it is a hard slog but things will get better.

In the six months since my surgery I have been to Vietnam, on boat trips and cycled round a Vietnamese island, I have snorkelled with fish and rays in Australia and hiked the Blue Mountains.  I have gained an enormous respect for my body and my confidence has gone through the roof.  I’ve realised who my true friends and family are and seen the best in human nature in those around me, I have been supported by the kindness of others and Ive helped people going through life problems by blogging my journey so far.  I have had a realisation of the frailty and briefness of life and it has made me want to do all those things that I dream about, in my work life, home life and with Timm.  It’s made me braver, the things that scared me before suddenly seem so small and easily overcome, after all I had an organ removed and have marched on from it so how can anything else stop me?

Who knows where the next six months will take me.  Despite a great recovery so far I am struggling at the moment with a hernia behind my stoma, I do feel like this week has put me a couple of steps back in my recovery.  This has hit me emotionally as well as physically, Im frustrated that Im back on bed rest and need to learn the best way to deal with this hernia and the issues around it.

Im planning my pouch surgery with my consultant, Im also moving house, starting a course to improve my writing skills and renewing my wedding vows!  All this plus work, running our photography business, a summer tour with arts group Responsible Fishing and raising three kids!  It will be a busy year and Im sure there will be ups and downs but in the words of a true Sheffielder, it’ll be reight….

So Happy Six Month No Coloniversary to me!!

no coloniversary

Love Sam xx

A message for my teenage son…

To my lovely, awesome, sometimes pain in the arse teenage son, here are some life lessons you should probably take on board.  Then pass on to your lovely, awesome, sometimes pain in the arse teenage friends…

1. Just be nice.

This has always been lesson number one in this house.  Shows of brute strength or masculinity mean little, but by following the rule of ‘just be nice’ you won’t go far wrong in life.  Hold doors for others, use your manners, show kindness, respect and courtesy.  Seriously, people like that.  It will help you go through life smoothly.  Don’t be a bully.  Don’t intimidate, hurt, humiliate or taunt others.  Its not cool and if I catch you being a bully, no matter how old you are, I WILL call you out on it and it won’t end well.

2. Clean, cook, do laundry.

Dude, these are just life skill you are going to need.  It may seem ok now to step over the crap in your room, eat cereal straight from the box and ‘clean’ your clothes by giving them a shake and perhaps a bit of body spray but as you get older, its just gross and a bit sad.  You will feel good about yourself, independent and as you get older you will definitely impress the ladies or gents that come into your life.

3. Aim before you shoot.

Seriously, its not difficult.  Lift the toilet seat, aim penis, have a wee.  Pissy toilet seats, floors, WALLS for gods sake are GROSS.  Its not ok.  Also if you poo, clean the bowl.  Its not rocket science.  I guarantee that no partner finds cleaning another persons bodily fluids from a toilet bowl sexy.

4. Don’t take photos of your bodily parts.

It is NEVER a good idea. Ever.  Unless you want me, your father, your grandmother and your teachers to see that photo of your penis, don’t send it to anyone.  In fact, don’t even take the picture.  Its stupid, dangerous and when you become a rock star or prime minister it WILL come back to haunt you.

5. Real women don’t look like the ones on TV or magazines.

Most women have body hair, yep legs, armpits, genitals.  Its normal.  Get over it.  Women’s breasts and genitals come in all shapes and sizes.  The average woman in the UK is a size 16.  The size 0 celebrities are not the norm.  Whatever size your future partner is, treat them with love and respect.   If you are lucky enough for a woman to allow you to see or touch her body, be respectful and grateful!

6. Sex is about trust and respect

Media and peer pressure may make it seem that sex means nothing and that everyone is doing it with everyone.  But sex is a beautiful sharing of love, and sex without trust and respect is crap.  Its not about notches on bedposts, its about having an amazing time with someone really special.  No one wants to think they are another in a long line of partners.  Ill also remind you now that sex under 16 is against the law.  Remember that.

Im hoping it will be a long while before you have sex.  But when you do…

Use a condom.  Every time.  Yes, every time.  Even if she is on the pill.  Or its the second sunday on the month.  Or the world is ending.  Every time.  Without fail.

No means No.  There is no grey area.  You don’t need to try and figure it out.  If the girl is drunk or high, that too is a no.

7. If you mess up, tell me.

I love you dearly, but sometimes you are a bloody idiot and make mistakes.  I know you will make mistakes because I did, and so did your dad and everyone else in the world.  If you mess up, tell me.  No matter how awful it seems I promise I will help you and make things better.  I may shout at you first, but it won’t be half as bad as if I find out later.

If you mess up and need me,  I will be there, if that is 3am on a sunday morning, or when I am busy at work, poorly or in the midst of my own problems, tell me and I will be there.

And if you can’t tell me or your dad, tell an adult you trust.

8. Be a feminist.

A feminist is someone who believes that people are truly equal whatever their gender.  You believe this.  Be a feminist and proud. End of.

While we are at it, don’t ever be homophobic, sexist or racist.  I know you aren’t so never fall into the trap of thinking that a bit of casual, comedic bigotry is ok.  Because it isn’t.

9. Have a shower.

Clean body, hair, teeth, fingernails, clothes… Clean everything.  Its about respect for your own body.  Taking care of your appearance makes you feel good, it gives a good impression to others and is a really important basic life skill.  Want a partner? Chicks (or guys!) don’t dig B.O…

10. Choose your own path.

Don’t follow the crowd, think about what you want in life, what makes you happy and go for it.  With hard work, perseverance and a good attitude you can honestly achieve ANYTHING you want in life.  Those ‘cool’ kids in school who think its clever to cause trouble, mess about and not get on with work won’t be so cool in 10 years time when you see them working in McDonalds.  Be unique, be an individual and be yourself, everyone else is taken.

Stand up for what you believe in and speak out if you witness something that you know is wrong.  Be a strong person who can be a lone voice, its not always easy to be the person who shouts no in a baying crowd of yeses. If you believe in it with your heart and soul, then speak out.

And here ends my sermon, just a few words of wisdom from your old mother to a lad who believes he already  knows it all.  The years ahead of us may be tough, we may stumble and fall, we may fall out, we may fight, we may become so frustrated with one another that we can’t believe we are related!  But thats just what coming through teenage years is, remember that no matter what, I love you and you, my son, are bloody awesome!


Love Mum x

Pouch surgery after ileostomy – making the decision

I had my first surgery on 3rd September and that was a subtotal colectomy with ileostomy.

My options from that point are…

To keep the ileostomy permanently, this would mean one more surgery where they remove all my rectum and anus and sew everything up! (Barbie butt…)

To have a pouch made out of my small intestine that is attached to my butt so that I can then empty my bowels through my bum and not have an ileostomy any more. This is two more surgeries.

To wait. There is no immediate need to make the decision. I can wait till I’m entirely sure. They like you to make the decision within 3-5 years as the risk of cancer in the rectal stump (least attractive words ever…) increases after this point.

There are pros and cons to all options. I’m dealing with my bag well now, but I just don’t know whether I’m happy to have it forever. The surgery is so FINAL…

But the pouch surgery can be a difficult recovery. They say to give yourself a year to recover. The muscles in my arse haven’t worked for do long that it takes a while to re learn how to use them. The pouch is also quite small and so learning how to use it can take time.

There’s also the thought of two more surgeries which is pretty terrifying.

I’m scared of going back to hospital, I’m scared of being helpless again and I’m scared that the recovery will break me.

BUT I think I have made the decision.

I’m not ready to give up on my arse, as much as my bag is now easier to deal with I just don’t think I want to keep it forever without even trying the pouch surgery. So I’m going to see my consultant in a couple of weeks to let him know that I’d like to move forward.

My life is currently crazy busy, between our family photography business, family stuff, planning our wedding renewal, a summer working with our arts group Responsible Fishing around the UK and a million and one other things, I’m hoping that the surgery could take place after September when things should calm down a little!!

The decision is a big one and I’ve spent a long time deciding what I want to do as well as talking to my husband and a lot of people on forums around the net. Who knows if it’s the right one? If the pouch surgery didn’t work or just wasn’t the right option for me, I now know that I could deal with keeping my bag forever, but I think I’ll regret not trying to regain a more normal life and having the pouch.

I’ll post more after my hospital appointment!

Sam xxx