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Your messages…

Thank you so much for all your comments, reads, shares, emails and messages. I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring and humbled and honoured to read your stories.

I am getting thousands of emails and comments. Some are deeply personal stories and are heart breaking.

I am trying my best to reply to as many as possible, please bear with me, if your issue is important and requires a reply and I haven’t come back to you in a week then please try again.

But please know that I am reading every one.

To be given the opportunity to have a glimpse into your lives and those of your loved ones is amazing.

Thank you so much. Please know that it means a LOT! I don’t take this responsibility lightly and I am very proud to be trusted with your words.

I’m learning a lot too, I thought I was well informed but your stories are teaching me so much and I’m sharing this knowledge with the world.

Every one of you is awesome.

You lot are so bad ass…

✌️& ❤️

Sam x

Too Ugly For Love? Why this isn't ok…

The people who brought you Katie Hopkins show My Fat Story have outdone themselves with their latest show “Too Ugly For Love?” a show about… well let me directly quote the TV channel for you.

“For most people looking for love can be daunting. But for singles with a secret physical affliction the search to find ‘the one’ can seem almost impossible.

This series follows 10 unique singletons,ordinary people living with extraordinary medical conditions, on their quest to find love. All these conditions can be kept secret during a date,and with that comes a whole world of dilemmas.  From alopecia, missing limbs and colostomy bags to medical anomalies such as hyperhidrosis (profuse sweating) and pyoderma gangrenosum (a rare form of skin ulcers), the singletons are agonising over the problems that these conditions are causing in their love lives.

How can you find love when you are hiding your true self? Where do you find the confidence to play the field? When should you reveal the truth to someone that you really like? And how will they react?

The longer you leave the truth, the harder it can be to come clean and the more dramatic the revelation. Follow the singletons through the ups and downs of the dating game as they adopt different strategies to hide their conditions.”

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There are so many things wrong with this that I barely know where to start! So let’s begin with the title.

Too Ugly For Love? When I saw this yesterday and spluttered and swore profusely all over Facebook and twitter about it, a few people responded saying ‘Ahhh but see the question mark? They aren’t calling them ugly, they are just questioning it!’  Ohhhhh that’s ok then!! They are just asking whether the audience thinks these people are too ugly…

As I read the the biographies of the people on the show (all of whom I have no doubt are lovely, genuine people who I have NO beef with at all) I was just appalled.  There is a lady with alopecia, two gents with amputated limbs, two with ostomy bags (the biog of the show calls them colostomies but as we know, the media refuse to accept the existence of ileostomies and so who knows which they are!), a woman with keloid scarring, one with a disease that causes excessive sweating and a woman who was burnt badly.  As you read through that list, is there any part of you that would question their beauty based on their circumstances?

The title of the show is just to grab headlines, and I am not that surprised coming from a company who works with a woman who feeds off negative publicity like a grotesque leech, but I am so offended by it.

My blog is all about celebrating our inner awesomeness, about loving our amazing bodies whatever they look like and however poorly, wounded or damaged they have become.  It is about trying to show my audience that my scars, my ileostomy bag, my illness never defined me, I have openly written about my journey and how I learnt not only to accept the changes I went through, but to embrace and love my brave, heroic body that keeps going despite illness and surgery.

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The idea of a show that labels people with an ostomy ‘too ugly’ is just heartbreaking.  We all have that horrid little voice in our heads, you know the one that tells you that you’re too ugly, too fat, too stupid, too (insert shit feeling here)… Seeing a TV show like this just makes me feel like everyone thinks that about me too.  The idea that it is a question makes me think “Do people think I am too ugly for love??”

As someone who had an ileostomy bag and now has a lot of scarring including large keloid scars, I hit two of their categories.  A little voice inside me thought ‘Blimey, am I doubly ugly?’

And that is when the anger struck… I am a confident woman who does this for a living, I write about body confidence, self esteem and chronic illness and so I KNOW there are so many people out there who feel crap about themselves because of illness, scarring, surgery and more.  I am so furious that there will be people out there now questioning YET AGAIN (because believe me, we do it ALL THE TIME) how people judge them.

I haven’t watched the show and I won’t be.  I know some people will argue that I shouldn’t judge a show that I haven’t seen.  But really, I can’t bring myself to watch it, I know for a fact that when they were asking people to apply they didn’t say “Do you want to be on a show called Too Ugly For Love?”  It just feels like a way to point at the people different to you, it is that sympathy porn of The Undateables, making struggling people easy fodder for the masses and it doesn’t sit well with me.

This line in the TV show’s bumpf gets me straight away…

“follow the singletons through the ups and downs of the dating game as they adopt different strategies to hide their conditions.”

I understand the feeling of wanting to hide your illness/disability away, but that is a negative thing.  To hide something means to be ashamed of it and not want the world to see.  Surely we should be helping others to learnt to accept the thing they want to hide, as a society shouldn’t we be saying ‘we are all different and that is a wonderful thing’ not watching people adopting strategies to hide their conditions!

And so I wanted to write about it, I have had so many messages on Facebook, twitter, instagram and email from people who are just disgusted by TLC UK.  I hope TLC will take on board the comments from people all over the UK who they have upset and offended by the title of this show.

And my message to anyone reading this who is less than perfect (that would be all of you!) is this…

We are all so different, some of us slim, some muscly, some obese, some carrying a few extra pounds.  There are those of us who have had surgeries that alter us in some way, who take medication that changes the way we look, there are those of us in wheelchairs, with ostomy bags, with scars.  Some of us have very visible diseases and illnesses and some have ones that are entirely invisible but make our heads and hearts hurt with the struggle…

Beauty is not perfection.  Ugly is not imperfection.

Our bodies are the only ones we have and they are with us for life, we need to learn to accept, love and celebrate the body we are in, no matter how poorly or broken it is.  I always think of my scars as the hieroglyphs of my journey, they don’t show weakness, they show what I battled through and that I came through the other side a lot stronger, wiser and filled with so much more empathy and kindness for others.

If you are surrounding yourself with people who question your physical appearance, or there are people in your life who believe you are ugly, it is not yourself you need to change, it is the people around you.

Nice, kind, good people won’t judge you for your difference.  Your true friends will love you for being you, your physical appearance means fuck all to the right people.

The person you want to fall in love with is out there, and they don’t care about whether your body is perfect, they care about whether your heart is true, your laughter genuine, your nature kind and your soul happy.  If you have to hide away who you really are, they aren’t the one.

We are all amazing beings and we need to learn to celebrate and love one another not point fingers and question their perfection.

If you are looking for perfection, you will have a long wait.  Every one of us has so many delicious imperfections that make us the person we are.

Fuck perfection.  Let’s celebrate the best parts of us and know that we are all a little broken.

I would LOVE to hear your opinion on all this, please leave comments.

 

Peace and Love

 

Sam x

 

 

2014 – what a year!

What a year! I started 2014 in Sydney with my sister and our families, we travelled up the coast and had an epic road trip.  It has also brought me a hernia, a house move, surgery to create my jpouch, a couple of weeks in hospital, a new life learning to live without my colon or ileostomy bag and one more hernia!

I have been on the radio a few times, done talks all over the UK, hit my 100K views on So Bad Ass (now up to 160K) and started a writing course.  I also visited my aunty and uncle in Spain and honeymooned in Lanzarote with Timm  I made a new friend who has a stoma… we made friends because we have no colons but stayed friends because we are awesome and he makes me laugh in a rather unladylike fashion and knows, like really knows…  I made new friends without stomas who I now feel like I have known forever and I hung out with so many old friends who made every tough part of my year easier and every lovely part of my year happier.

We bought a hot tub, I got a big tattoo, I met Chuck D and Flavor Flav, went on a nudist beach and my sister came over to the UK to visit with her family.

I renewed my wedding vows to the best husband in the whole world in the BEST WEDDING EVER surrounded by all my absolute favourite people and married by one of my best friends Violet.

2014 has had it’s ups and downs.  The wedding was amazing, it was just the most beautiful and perfect day and to get to marry my perfect bloke for the second time was the best thing ever and my total highlight of the year.

The surgery was tough, 10 days in hospital after a long, difficult surgery and now 7 months later I am still recovering and learning how to deal with my jpouch.  The past 18 months have been the toughest of my life.  Being so ill and having life changing surgeries have been at times almost too much to bear, there were times when I felt so low, so broken and in so much pain that I just didn’t know how I would cope.

I learnt that coping is the only option.  Every day, no matter how hard it is, you have to just keep plodding, just keep swimming, just keep going… Having fantastic people around you helps and I am lucky enough to have some of the best.  My amazing husband, family and friends make it all bearable in those dark moments and I can’t thank them enough.

This year has seen So Bad Ass turn from a small personal blog into something that is read all over the world and (hopefully) helps people.  All I ever wanted from this blog is to make a difference to other people, to use my pain and my journey to help other people with IBD, to use it to raise awareness, raise money for Crohns and Colitis UK and to help people everywhere to have better self esteem, body confidence and to love themselves.

You are all amazing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for every read, every like, every tweet, every share, every kind word.  You are awesome!

Enjoy and I will see you in 2015!

 

xx

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Thanks again for an amazing year, if you fancy doing something wonderful please go to my Just Giving page and give whatever you can to Crohns and Colitis UK.

 

Have an amazing christmas and a brilliant New Year!

 

See you in 2015

 

Sam xxx

It's Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week

The 1st – 8th December is Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week, get involved by sharing, reading and talking.

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It’s the perfect time to #stoppoobeingtaboo (my favourite line as you may know!!) – let’s all talk poo. We all do it and noticing changes in your bowel habits can mean you need to see a doctor. If you have diarrhoea for more than a couple of weeks or notice blood or mucus in your stools, get to the GP and talk poo!

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260,000 people in the UK have Crohns or Colitis, there’s a good chance someone you know has one of these illnesses and I can tell you, living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD, the umbrella term for crohns and colitis) is hard. It’s an embarrassing, painful and at times heartbreaking condition. I talk openly on this blog about my journey but others might not find it so easy. So talk, be open, share…

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Tell me your IBD story…

You can get involved by reading IBD stories, sharing your own, sharing statuses and twitter posts that are using the #becrohnsandcolitisaware hashtag or mine which is #stoppoobeingtaboo.

For more information go to the Crohns and Colitis Website
Love Sam xxx

Are bloggers self important egotists?

This was originally a post on my old blog, I found it recently and thought it deserved another share, let me know what you think…Sam x

So bloggers, how big is your ego??

I recently went on a large local forum to advertise the Sheffield Bloggers Meet Up (an event I played with for a few months), just a small post saying that I was setting this group up and asking if anyone was interested…

The first reply made me raise my eyebrows, a poster said;

“The only problem with bloggers is that they only care about their own opinion, thats why they  think it’s important enough to blog.  So I doubt there are going to be many who wanna sit around with a coffee listening to other people’s opinions, when they only care about their own.”  

I ignored the post and a couple of weeks later posted a small update saying that the first meeting had gone well and the date of the next meet.

The moderator of the group then post a fairly offensive remark saying

“Yes; many bloggers do need advice, esp. from suitably-qualified mental health specialists.”  

Followed by another post by a different user who said

“Bloggers are just the 21st century equivalent of the pub bore ranting on and on about their personal opinion, not realised that no-one cares what they think. If I ran the internet I’d shut down all bloggers sites as they serve no useful purpose other than to remind us how many self-important egotists there are in this world!”

Blimey! I was genuinely shocked at the comments, I know blogging isn’t for everyone but I couldn’t understand the vitriol.

I pointed out that the poster who said bloggers were pub bores and egotists had over 1000 posts on the forum and questioned what the difference was between that and a pub bore.  He retorted that a forum was a discussion and a blog was a lecture.

When I said that I didn’t force anyone to read my blog and that it was a choice to read my opinion the same way it is a choice to read a newspaper, the lovely poster took the time to apparently read my blog and said;

“As you helpfully provided a link I’ve just had a brief look at your blog and it’s exactly the sort of egotistical self-importance I mean. I know it sounds harsh but all your blog says to me is “look at me, look at me, aren’t I interesting?” There’s nothing wrong with showing your holiday snaps or favourite recipes to friends but you have to be a bit of an egotist if you think complete strangers might be interested!”

So are bloggers all self important egotists?  I love writing and I blog about things that interest me, my life  and things that make me laugh.  I would blog if no one was reading it but as it happens, people seem to like to read my mutterings.  I suppose I do think I have something to say, something to share and maybe you could say you have to be a little egotistical to put yourself out there and think that others will find your blog interesting.

But you could say the same about every writer, author, journalist, mp, actor… Anyone in the public eye really.

I spoke to Violet Fenn from Sex, Death, Rock n Roll who said

If you think blogs are tedious and egotistical, then you are probably reading the wrong blogs.”   

The internet is a big place, and there is room for everyone.  If you don’t like blogs, don’t read them.  It’s really simple!

I think blogging is a really social thing, to me it is like an interactive magazine.  I write an article about something I find interesting and others can respond.  I used to buy a lot of magazines and would never write in about an article that I enjoyed, hated or felt strongly about as it just seemed like such a faff.  Now I buy a lot less magazines but I read a hell of a lot of blogs and at a click of a button I can comment, question or let the author know I loved or hated their work.

People blog for all manner of reasons, some for fun, some to keep up with family and friends around the world, some for business and marketing, some use it as a form of therapy and some to share their interest.  The point is that each one is doing something, they are writing, creating and sharing.  They are making connections both locally and internationally.

Isn’t that the amazing thing about the internet??  Today I have had people from 16 different countries around the world reading my blog, I have had tweets, emails and comments from them.  I have made connections with people I would never have had any contact with were it not for my blog.  I love that, I think its exciting.

So if that makes me an egotist, I suppose I’ll take that label.

I’d love to hear your thoughts (as this is a discussion, not a lecture!) so please let me know what you think.

 

Love Sam x

Choose happiness

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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

100,000 thank yous

I’m a little teary and overwhelmed writing this post, you see a year ago I started this blog as a cathartic way of me to talk about my illness and treatment and over the last 12 months it has become more popular than I could ever dream.

Today I reached 100,000 views of So Bad Ass. I know compared to some of the big blogs that number may be small fry, but for me it is amazing. I’m blown away that my words have been read so many times. The level of support I’ve received is just unbelievable and through the thousands of emails and messages I have had from people either offering or asking for support and advice is phenomenal.

I am so proud of my little blog and i hope I have helped others and made a tiny difference to you all.

All I can say is thank you, thank you, 100,000 times thank you!

Here’s to the next 100K!! Please keep reading, sharing, commenting and getting in touch.

Love Sam xxxx

Flashing my bag since 2013…

All this bag flashing in the media right now and Ive been showing off my life saver for ages! Hahahaa….

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For more badassness follow me on FACEBOOK, follow me on TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE  or PINTEREST

Love Sam xx

 

 

So Bad Ass – what I do and why

I have had Ulcerative Colitis for over ten years now, and when my health took a real turn for the worse last year and I was facing surgery, I scoured the internet for support and help.  There were a lot of medical websites with confusing terminology and terrifying pictures and there were forums dedicated to IBD patients, but I found these difficult to interact with and like they had no relevance to my life.

I found one amazing blog called Inflamed and Untamed run by the ever inspiring Sara Ringer, her blog was the thing that inspired me to start So Bad Ass.  She was young and happy to talk honesty about her health, I fell in love with her blog and still follow her now.  But as she is based in the US I found some of what she spoke about just not right for the UK.

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Over a year later I am so proud of what I have achieved here.  I get thousands and thousands of people a week reading my little blog and so many emails and messages both of support and asking for my help or telling me that this site makes a difference.

I have spoken at International Women’s Day and been booked to do talks at Women’s Institute events and hospital charity events.  I have written for charities, blogs and magazines.  I am devoting myself to raising awareness off Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns, ileostomies, colostomies and j pouches! But more than that, I want to use my experiences to help women deal with issues around self esteem, body confidence and learning to be so bad ass and awesome.

Over the past couple of weeks there have been so much media attention given to ileostomies and it is amazing!!! It is the reason that I journaled my experience and have shown my photographs for the last year.  I think the more we see ileostomy and colostomy bags, the less taboo, the less scary and the less shocking they become.

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Im so proud of my IBD brothers and sisters for sharing the stories and photographs and getting IBD into mainstream media.  I did a story last year about how frustrating I was finding it to be hitting a brick wall when contacting (A LOT) of newspapers, magazines and media outlets and being turned away.  So to finally see stories and images hitting the headlines I am over the moon.

I just wanted to thank all my readers for staying with me on this journey, for reading, liking, sharing and tweeting.  I can’t tell you how much it means to know that I have amazing audience who support this blog and share it all over the world.

 

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It may take more time, but slowly and surely the message is getting out there.  I hope this blog and all the other blogs that are appearing now continue to raise awareness, spread a positive message and make a difference to the 260,000 people in the UK living with these diseases.

Hooray for us!!!

 

 

Love Sam xxx

 

Turia Pitt on Womens Weekly Australia cover – Inspirational!

I saw this story this morning and was struck by the idea of having inspirational real women on magazine covers rather than air brushed celebrities.  Australian Women’s Weekly have Turia Pitt, a burns survivor who was injured in bush fires on the cover and it makes for a striking and beautiful image.

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Editor in Chief Helen McCabe said

“For eighty years the Women’s Weekly has been celebrating inspirational Australian women, when Turia was photographed as part of our Women of the Future judging panel among a group of similarly impressive Australian women, it was clear from the moment she sat in front of the camera that the July cover had to belong to her.”

“Any attempt to describe the magic and beauty of Turia seems to get lost in platitudes or clichés. Yet I have never met a more remarkable person.”

Seeing images like this accompanying an inspirational and positive story just make my heart soar.  This isn’t about feeling sorry for her, its not a poor me story.  I LOVE her headline of “Im the luckiest woman in the world” – this woman is my hero! She isn’t complaining, there is no martyrdom.

Turia was caught in a bushfire whilst running a marathon in Western Australia, suffering burns to 64 per cent of her body.  Doctors gave her a slim chance of recovery yet she defied that expectation and recovered amazingly. 

She said “For me, it sends the message that confidence equals beauty. There are a lot of women out there who are so beautiful but don’t have the confidence, and that’s what gets you over the line.”

I believe that 100% – Confidence equals beauty

Well done Womens Weekly – this cover is just a start and hopefully other magazines will follow suit.  Women aren’t stupid, we aren’t just drawn in by seeing yet another picture of a perfect celebrity.  I for one would be much more likely to buy a magazine whose cover was showing true beauty and inspiration rather than a celeb who I have seen a million times before!

I would love to see a women with a stoma or scars being portrayed in magazines more, the more we see images of people who have physical scars the less taboo it becomes.  For many women who have an ostomy bag or large scars thy can feel that these things take away their femininity and sexuality, thats the reason I decided to do my photoshoots with my ileostomy bag. I wanted to put out there some positive images that show my bag and scars as just a small part of me, that they do not make me less of a woman.

I think the media could be a great tool for promoting positive images of women who have faced illness, surgery or modifications and I hope that this Women’s Weekly cover is just the start of something brilliant.

For more information on Turia’s story, see the Women’s Weekly website