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19 years ago in The Leadmill…

19 years ago in The Leadmill nightclub in Sheffield I met Timm.  I’ve told the story before but I had seen him the week before and not had the confidence to say hi, then I spied him in the DJ box working, my friend Liz went and said to him “my mate fancies you” and the rest, as they say, is history!
Sam and Timm Cleasby

I can’t believe we’ve been together so long!!! I don’t feel old enough to have been with someone for 19 years. I’ve been with Timm for longer in my life than I haven’t.

Its not been an easy ride, he worked away as a tour manager for the first 12 years of our relationship which took its toll. It’s hard to stay close when you’re apart for months at a time but we got through it.

We had three kids in 4 1/2 years so there were manic times where we barely had time for one another but we had a blast. We’re not perfect parents, we rarely do things by the book but we love our babies more than anything and we are a great team.

Sam and Timm Cleasby

Timm was my first love, I was only 17 when we met and my life was chaotic, we had a crazy couple of years of fun and silliness before we had Charlie in 2000, followed by Ellie in 2003 and Thom in 2005. We’ve had 6 houses in that time, job changes, times when money was tight, travels around the world, good times and bad.

We married in Las Vegas in 2004 at the Viva Las Vegas chapel by Elvis and renewed our vows in 2014 at home in a garden ceremony with all our family and friends.

Sam and Timm Cleasby

The past few years have been the toughest of our lives, my ulcerative colitis really took hold of my body and I had my first surgery in 2013 to remove my colon and had my first ileostomy. Since then I’ve had 4 more surgeries and Timm has been my rock.

There have been times when I’ve told him to leave me, when it’s been so hard that I couldn’t bear to put him through it any more. But he’s always been right by my side.

We make a good team, Timm and I, and though it sounds cheesy, we are closer and more in love now than ever before. Something happens when you’ve been together so long, you know eachother inside and out and the level of comfort and safety really kicks in. That’s not to say things are boring, nor do we take eachother for granted but life just becomes easier.

Of course we argue, we fall out and disagree, there are times when we scream and shout, when we get the face on and ignore eachother. I don’t think anyone can be together for so long without there being times of conflict. But we are learning all the time how we can best sort out our arguments.

Everything honestly is better when we are a team, when we fall out, it feels like life is just tougher to deal with. When we are side by side, I feel I can take on the world.

19 years have passed in a heartbeat, I still remember the feeling of butterflies in my stomach as he handed me this chipped Leadmill mug of champagne all those years ago.

Timm, you’re my everything. I wouldn’t be here without your continuing love, support and piss taking. You make me laugh, you deal with all my illness and surgeries with a shrug like it’s no big deal, you hold my hand when I’m struggling and you listen to me when I can’t bear to say things to anyone else.

 

We joke that some things are NSFT (Not Safe For Timm) because he cries at anything remotely emotional. I take the piss out of him for this but I secretly love it. As he has got older he is so much more open with his feelings, he has dealt with a lot during the past few years and sometimes I forget just how hard it has been for him. But it has made him softer and more loving, and that has to be a good thing.

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

 

We don’t always do gifts but this year I saw this and couldn’t not get it, from The Night Sky who create star maps of certain locations and times, this is the night sky over Sheffield 19 years ago today, these are the stars we looked at on the night we met, the night it all began.

The night sky Sheffield stars

I  so lucky to have grown up with my best friend, 19 years of laughter, being proper daft, of loving and crying and facing all the shit that life has thrown at us.

Cleasby, happy anniversary bubs xxx

Are photo shoots naff when you have teenagers?

I LOVE photographs, I have thousands, both on my phone, on hard drives, in albums, on the walls and in boxes hidden away.  I adore looking through them and remembering brilliant times and revelling in just how small and precious the kids were.  Now they are teenagers.  And honestly, they don’t really want me to photograph them ever.  I have to steal their photos off instagram…

My husband is a photographer and though he takes beautiful images, he rarely has time to shoot us and I doubt the kids would stand for it anyway. Plus, if he is photographing us, then he isn’t in the shot!

And so, you can imagine their faces when I told them that I had booked a family photo shoot for us all.  “Muuuummmmmmmmm it’s so flipppinngggg weeirrdddddd!” “WHHHYYYYYYY??? You know what we look like!!!” and my favourite “Im not doing one of those all pile on photos where the dad lays on the bottom and then you stack up in height order…”

all pile on awkward family photo

Photo: Awkward Family Photos

And then the day came around and I drove four miserable faces out to Kelham Island in Sheffield to meet our photographer Corinne from Corinne Hills Photography.  She is a personal friend of ours, and I knew her relaxed and natural style would fit in so much better with our family than any white background shot or weird posing.

Corinne usually shoots in very natural settings, she is a forest schools teacher and so is usually found in the woods playing with sticks and making fires and so I knew I was pushing her slightly in wanting an urban setting for our shoot, but we agreed that it would be the same as her other work.  We’d go for a walk and she would quietly photograph us.

I was a bit worried that it might be weird or naff, that it really was something you only did with little kids.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong, it felt natural and easy and the images of my beautiful kids in their teen years (Thom is nearly there at 12, Ellie is 14 and Charlie is 16) made me cry. She captured the reality of our family, the silliness and the imperfections, she caught the moment I accidentally hit Ellie in the face and the repercussions of that! She caught my children’s personalities and their quirks and the photos make my heart swell.

If you would like Corinne to photograph your family, get in touch through www.corinnehillsphotography.com though you may have to wait a while as she is laid up with a broken ankle and is very pregnant! But I guarantee you, it will be worth the wait!

Enjoy!

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

family photo shoot with teenagers in Sheffield urban kelham island

Love Sam xx

 

My perfect family… Glastonbury 2017

“You have such a perfect family!”

I got told this after sharing photos of our trip to Glastonbury this year and so I thought I would share a few pics of my perfect family.  We never argue, the kids are always on perfect behaviour, our home is a sanctuary of calm, peace and love.  There is never a raised voice, never a curse word muttered.  We all just live in harmony.

glastonbury perfect family parent blogger sam cleasby sheffield

glastonbury perfect family parent blogger sam cleasby sheffield

glastonbury perfect family parent blogger sam cleasby sheffield

glastonbury perfect family parent blogger sam cleasby sheffield

glastonbury perfect family parent blogger sam cleasby sheffield

glastonbury perfect family parent blogger sam cleasby sheffield

I mean, of course, that is all bullshit.  When I got told how perfect my family are based on these images, it made me think about how we come across on social media.

Yes, we had a wonderful time but I didn’t take photos of the guilt I felt when I had to nap every day. I didn’t take photos of the ostomy bag leak and me crying my eyes out. I didn’t take photos of the arguments the kids had or the time my eldest lost my youngest in a festival or the anxiety attack I had at 4am. I didn’t take photos of the difficulties of raising teenagers and the conflicts they are going through. 

I didn’t take photos of three kids in a car, arguing over who is manspreading leading on to a battle over why the term man spreading is or isn’t sexist and a discussion about who had the biggest balls.  Nor did I photograph the sheer anxiety of letting your 16 year old into a mosh pit alone, or the look on the youngest’s face when he found out the big two didn’t want to take him to see a band.

I didn’t take photos of my worries that my hernia was returning or the feelings of sadness and fear I had despite having this lovely family time. Or the struggles in keeping a relationship going through years of chronic illness.

I love my family, they are wonderful and I am so lucky to have them. But photos on social media only show the best of times so when you have those feelings of worry when you see everyone else having a seemingly perfect life, remember that we are all fighting our own battles and comparison to others is unhealthy and really doesn’t help!

Are my family perfect? Hell no!!!! But we get through each day and share the happy photos to celebrate the times it goes well.

  Sam

18 years ago today…

I was in the Leadmill with my friend Lizzy, her boyfriend was the DJ at a new club night and she’s got us tickets.  I wasn’t going to go out but she really wanted to see her fella so I agreed. 

We went and danced and partied and I was glad I’d made the effort to go out.  She went to see her boyfriend whilst I went to the bar and as I looked up at the DJ box for her, I spied a man with long hair wildly dancing hanging off the booth whilst taking requests and was just a little bit smitten!


I recognised him as the bloke I’d seen a few weeks earlier in the same club skating in and dancing with friends. I’d wanted to speak to him then,  but bottled it.  Lizzy came down and I asked about him, she said he was called Timm and that I should come meet him. 

I know people may not believe this but I used to be so shy and unconfident and I was too embarrassed to speak to him. So she dashed off and jumped up to the box and called the immortal words “HEY! My mate fancies you!” 

I was mortified. 

He looked down and said “the one with a skin head?” She nodded. “Bring her up!”  Shyly I went and said hi and he handed me some champagne in a chipped mug. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! 


One thing led to another and 18 years and three kids later, here we are! 

Timm is my best person in the world, he makes my life happier, fuller and better and I know it sounds cliche but I genuinely love him more with each year that passes. 
I worry about him. I worry that all the stress and hardships of my illness will be too much for him.  He’s a good bloke though and I know he’d never just walk away but this makes me worry that he feels stuck with me, that I’m a burden to him. 


I worry that he has turned from my partner to my carer and that I make him unhappy.  Often people think so much about the person who is ill but their partner is expected to just cope with it all.  Timm’s had to do so much for me in the last 13 years and the past 3 years and 5 surgeries have put so much strain on him. I feel sad that the cause of his stress is me. 

Timm makes me feel like the best woman on earth, he tells me I’m beautiful even when I’m in pyjamas and unable to shower and haven’t slept for two days.  He says I’m the best even when I know I am further towards the worst.  He makes me laugh even in my darkest hours. He listens, he supports, he makes everything better. 


I thought I loved Timm when I was 18. And I did! But the depth of my love for him now at 35 is so much more than I could have ever imagined.  It’s a love that comes with time, he knows me better than anyone else in the world, there’s no facade, no fakery, nothing hidden.  

He is my everything. And though I struggle with feeling that I’m a burden to him, and worry I’m not good enough, he has my heart and always will. 

Happy Anniversary of when a skin head’s friend told you that she fancied you. 

18 years bubsy xxx 

Distance

Apologies for not being about much over the past few weeks, as much as i adore blogging and writing for So Bad Ass, as a mum of three I have to ensure bills can get paid and and so I have been super busy with other work.  It has been pretty lovely work though I have to say! I have been working as an artist for arts group Responsible Fishing UK running their creative workshops at Haven sites all over the UK, the project is called Camp Cardboard and entails hundreds of cardboard boxes and working with kids to transform huge spaces into giant dens/castles/boats/zoos/FBI headquarters/shops/homes/prisons, basically anything the children can imagine!  It has been brilliant fun but has meant quite a bit of time away from home, Timm and the kids.

My husband Timm is a director for Sheffield music festival Tramlines, which means that his summer has been jam packed with preparation and running of the event.  These things mean that our kids have been super busy and passed between the two of us as we attempted to resolve all childcare over the summer holidays.  We are ever so lucky that all our jobs are freelance, versatile and child friendly and on most occasions they can come along with one of us.  I am ever grateful to my mum who picks up the slack when we can’t make it work.

sam cleasby mum parent blogger

And so I suppose today’s post is about distance, both a physical distance and an emotional one.  Timm and I both have what we laughingly call Portfolio Careers, this basically means we are both freelance and work our butts off at any job that comes in! Timm is a photographer, he runs Responsible Fishing arts group, he is both director and main stage organiser at Tramlines and he teaches at a university for their Music Industry course.  I write for publications and websites, work for RF, help run the photography business, do public speaking and I am writing a book!  This makes for crazy scheduling but it does mean that we both work from home and both have time with our children and eachother.  Honestly, we would both like it to calm down some, the manic diary planning and time away from each other is hard going and we would both like a little more time.

I am not complaining.  Two years ago when I had my first surgery I couldn’t imagine how life could be something good, I was so low, so physically and emotionally broken.  I felt like I was in a black hole.  And so for now to have the physical ability to be working and traveling and doing things that I love, it is a real blessing.

love letter to yourself ileostomy jpouch ibd self happiness

The events of my life have made me a pretty tough cookie, yet I realise that my emotional strength relies very much on a connection with my husband.  I can get through ANYTHING as long as I have him with me in my heart.  I know this sounds so corny and feel free to make vomiting noises whilst you read, but after everything we have been through, our relationship has just solidified, our bond is so firm now and the connection between us is better than ever before.

So when we have weeks on end where one of us is working away, when the free days are spent heaping time and love on the kids as we deal with the working parent guilt, when we both have so much on our plates, it is so easy to feel distant and alone.  We have had lots of day to day stresses of late, cars breaking down magnificently, bills to be paid, plans to be laid and so time has been spent on all those rubbish grown up things.  The physical distance is one thing, but we have both had an emotional distance too as we both just try and wade through all our work load.

Through writing my book, I am churning up lots of feelings and emotions about my past, I feel quite fragile right now as all these events from my past come floating up to the surface and I have to deal with them all over again and this is really adding to my anxiety levels.  I am so chuffed to be writing the book, but I had not planned at all for this tsunami of feelings that it would bring with it!

Last week we finally got time to sit down and have a proper chat, we both talked about how little we have seen one another and how we felt we hadn’t connected properly for weeks. (Not a euphemism!!) Isn’t it amazing how a good talk can make everything feel a million times better?  The darkness and anxiety I was going through lifted immediately when I was with my boy, my shoulders raised and my head cleared when we had the time to discuss all that was going on.  Life just feels better.

rock n roll wedding

It is so easy to get caught up in life.  In all that adult, grown up crap that none of us really want to be dealing with but we just have to.  It is so easy to get into a rut, to go day in, day out in a monotonous grey drabness.  It is so easy to get so deep into your work that you forget to look up and see the colours around you.  So this week, take a moment, look around you at the people who matter.  Go for a walk with your kids, have a nice meal with your partner, go out with your friends.  Do something to reconnect with the most important people in your life, do something to close the distance that the boring stuff causes.

This week, go do something beautiful with someone wonderful.

 

 

Sam xxx

 

 

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary!

We married in Las Vegas in 2004 and renewed our wedding vows last year and I couldn’t be happier.

Life isn’t always plain sailing and we have had our moments of struggle, but we came through everything stronger than before and that Cleasby bloke and I, when we are together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

Over the last 2 years of surgeries, recovery and change, Timm has been my rock. The one person I can tell it all to, the one to hold my hand, to make it all better and to love me harder than ever before. He became my carer for a while and did it with love, sensitivity and respect.

sam cleasby timm cleasby

People tell me I am strong. But I am only strong because Timm is my roots, he holds me tall and supports my growth.

When life is good, he walks by my side, both of us smiling into the sun. But sometimes life just gets so heavy, my shoulders aren’t broad enough to carry the weight, that is when he steps in and scoops me up. When I need him to, he will carry the weight of both of us and does so with a smile. Then as it gets easier, he sets me down and we carry on our path together.

 

 

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I just hope that when he needs me, I will carry him in the same way.

Happy anniversary to my favourite person in the whole world.

Sam x

Happy Birthday Timm

It’s my boy’s birthday today and I just wanted to tell my amazing husband that he is awesome.

Happy happy birthday to the best bloke in the world, he is my hero and I just couldn’t have got through the last 2 years without him.

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Timm supports this blog and all my campaigns wholeheartedly with advice, help and of course his amazing photography.

He is just so inspiring, he is the hardest working person I know, he is a bloody wonderful dad and Charlie, Ellie, Thom and I couldn’t love him more.

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Happy Birthday Timm!

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Love Sam x

Aiming high

My husband is one of those bloody annoying people who always seem to be a high achiever, you know those gits who just do well in everything they try? When we met he was working in the music industry as a sound engineer, he went on to work for some amazing bands and then to be the tour manager for Arctic Monkeys, he won Tour Manager of the Year before having a change of career.  He then became a photographer and now is renowned for his amazing talent and runs (with his pretty awesome wife) The Picture Foundry.

He wanted to ‘keep his hand in’ the music industry and so years ago became involved with Tramlines, he is now the production director and helps to run Sheffield’s biggest festival.

timm and sam cleasby sheffield

One night he went to the pub with his mate James and together they came up with an idea for an arts group that was about nature, play and upcycled fun… Five years later, their company Responsible Fishing UK just got their SECOND year’s contract at the UK’s biggest holiday camp taking the brilliant project Camp Cardboard to inspire young people to be creative and families to spend time together and play.

Do you hate him yet? Only kidding!

The reality is that he deserves every triumph he gets.  He does all this with a kind hearted energy, fun and a great attitude.  He does all this because he sets goals, aims high and goes for it.  He is without doubt, the hardest working person I know and has the most self belief I have ever seen in a person!

My lighthearted dig at Timm is a joke, but it does show the side of humanity that seem to want to hate on the people who achieve in life and that’s what todays post is about.

When I got really ill in 2013 and had the surgery to remove my colon, I felt like my life was over.  I couldn’t see how the path I thought I was going to take could be an option to me now.  I was scared, anxious and fed up.  After having a massive cry and slowly learning to adapt, I did what we Cleasbys do best.  I sat down, thought of what I wanted and set my mind to making it happen.

We are by nature ‘doers’, Timm calls me itchy feet as I am always looking for the next move, the next adventure.   We always have a plan for the next year and then a long term plan, sometimes these change and move, but it makes me feel better to have an idea of where we want to go and also keeps us, as a couple, on the same page.

timm and sam cleasby wedding

Because of my illness, I have been better with the planning than the action for the past few years, and before that my plans were raising three young children whilst Timm was away on tour.  We had three kids in four and a half years and he was touring for nine months of the year and so you can probably imagine that my planning revolved around the whirlwind of semi single parenting!

But now things are starting to look up for me health wise (let’s not talk about my surgery on Saturday, eh?!) and my bambinos are getting that little bit older.  I know they still need us an awful lot but at 10, 12 and 14 they are so much more independent.  This is giving me more time to think about what I want.

I know what I want.  But voicing it is where I falter.  I worry that people will mock me, laugh at me or think I am too big for my boots.  We British love an underdog and don’t tend to like the confident, outspoken extroverts that shout about their goals, which is funny as Americans sometimes seem to be the opposite.  The american dream makes it ok to say ‘I want to be the best’ whilst the Brits look you up and down and wonder who you think you are!

But I am going to take a leaf out of my husband’s book.  He believes in setting goals and aiming high, then getting that shit done.  This isn’t about being a bitch or a hard faced business man, it isn’t about The Apprentice who show high achievers as being pretty much the worst people on Earth.  It is about remembering that life is short and we are only here once.

sam cleasby blogger writer sheffield

Not everyone wants to be a CEO, a brain surgeon, a millionaire… success isn’t about money.  But we should all be thinking about what do we really, really want in life.  Whether that is to spend more quality time with family, to travel the world, to go back to university, to learn to tango, to speak another language…

Or to write a book…

Since I was a child, I have loved to write.  I always wanted to be a writer but not going to college or University felt like a huge barrier to me becoming a writer.  Having babies at 19, 21 and 23 didn’t help my confidence either.  I’m always scared some super clever academic type will laugh me down if I speak the words ‘I want to write’, yet here I am writing this blog that is read all over the world.

And so I am aiming high.  I am writing a book, it is a continuation of this blog with parts of my story, the lessons I have learnt and a self help element for people to conquer their difficulties and be happier, more confident and more fulfilled.

I feel like a bit of a dick writing this down but sod it.  I want to write a best seller, I want to travel the world and maybe live for a while in Sydney near by big sis, I want to earn enough money to support Timm for a while, as his goals include playing more in the woods with James and sexing up motorbikes, I want to make a difference to people worldwide, I want to leave a legacy that will outlive my rotten bowels and chronic illness.  I want to be on Oprah FFS!

Are these goals too high? Yeah, probably.  But my retched colon nearly took my life and so why shouldn’t I aim for the stars?  What is the worst that can happen?  Timm and I have a motto that we would rather regret the things we have done, than the things we have not.  I would rather put myself out there and try to write a book and it fail miserably than to spend my life thinking ‘what if’.

setting goals

Aiming low and expecting little is a terrible option.  If you never strive for more, how will you achieve?  Again, this isn’t about money, it is about assessing your priorities and thinking about what you want.  We all have to work and so shouldn’t we aim to work in a job that makes us happy?  We all want to spend more time with the great people in our lives, yet often end up putting it off due to other commitments.  But if you make that a priority and voice it as your aim, you are more likely to do it.

I’d like to ask you a question… If I was your fairy godmother and could wave a magic wand right now and you could have one personal wish granted, what would it be?  I’m not talking about world peace, end to hunger or those things that we all would like to happen.  But if I could put you in a different situation, what would that look like?

Would it be a change of career, a change of destination, a better relationship with someone in your life?

Whatever that something is, ask yourself, what is stopping you from striving for that?

Make lists, set goals, aim high, think big.

You have one life and only you can make it what you want it to be.

Five years ago Timm and I set a goal for him to stop touring and to start a photography business, it was terrifying walking away from a good wage packet but we knew that his touring was making us all unhappy.  We made plans, worked hard, had some EPIC struggles but we managed it and we are now happier than ever.  Eighteen months ago, after a chat with the marvellous Faye at Keep Your Fork, I set a goal to start writing a blog about my experiences, it was a great way for me to start writing, today I sit here with a worldwide audience and well over 2 million views.

Some days, my illness and fatigue means that my plans are much smaller, I plan to shower, to do a couple of hours work, to watch a film with my kids.  These days aren’t failures, they are my tiny triumphs on a longer path to what I want in the future.

I am right at the start of my journey with this book and want to thank everyone who has sent their love and support.  It is pretty scary but knowing how much good I have done with my blog pushes me forward and makes me want to write something amazing that can make a real difference.

So this week, think about want you want from life.

Think big, aim high and be happy.

 

Sam xxx

Tired, emotional, guilty

I’m so tired. And the tiredness leads to anger, hurt, guilt.

I have no idea whether fatigue is something I just need to accept? Whenever I mention it to the doctors they look at me like I’m daft. “You’ve been through a lot” they say, “give your self a break”, “it all takes time”. Perhaps I expect too much of myself, but I really just wish I could be normal.

Every night, I get up once or twice to empty my jpouch, several times a night I wake thinking about whether I need to go to the loo. Since surgery I tend to have these vivid dreams, you know the ones where you feel like you’ve had a workout when you wake up? I also sometimes have stomach pains, butt burn and accidents.

So when morning comes, I just can’t open my eyes. I just don’t hear the alarm and Timm gets up with the kids. Every day. And the guilt builds… I wake up feeling so drained and exhausted that I can barely function. My limbs are like dead weights, my head fuzzy, my brain screams at me to go back to sleep. I feel lazy and guilty.

Timm leaves me to sleep as long as I need to. He never mentions it apart from asking if I had a bad night. But the guilt inside me is enormous, I feel I’m letting them all down. I feel like everyone thinks I am lazy.

I usually get up at 9am, a full two hours after I should get up. Some days I manage to get straight down into the office, some days I work from my bed. By midday I feel more energised and I try and get as much as I can done, but by 4pm I am flagging massively and could quite easily nap. Evenings are better for me, I feel more awake and often try and get housework done in this time. Then I’m usually in bed by 11pm (sometimes way earlier).

I don’t know whether it’s my routine that isn’t helping? Some nights, despite being completely exhausted I just can’t get to sleep and lay awake for hours.

Or I wonder whether it’s my diet? I have found I am now really intolerant to most vegetables and so my diet is quite restricted. The lack of vitamins and minerals worries me. I’m waiting for an appointment with the hospital dietician and have thought about asking to have my b12 levels checked. (People missing certain parts of the colon will have difficulty absorbing vitamin b12 and some need regular injections).

Sometimes I realise I don’t remember what normal is. My normal is so far away from other people’s that I wonder if my comparing myself to them is stupid?

When I say I’m tired, others talk of their tiredness too, and I think maybe I’m just not as tough as most people! Then I remember that my body has been through so bloody much in the past 18 months. That I’m missing an organ, that I’m learning how to use my pouch, that my body fights against me eating most healthy foods, that my immune system is knackered.

The thing I need to deal with the most though is the guilt. I feel like I need to apologise to Timm for how rubbish I am in the mornings. I feel like a bad mum and a rubbish wife.

I feel I need to explain to everyone that often I have a big front on. And that front is the mirage to tell you “I’m fine!” “I’m not weak” “I’m as good as you” “I don’t need anyone’s help”.

So when I’m seen on Facebook or instagram in the pub or walking the dog, know that it takes a big effort to do that, and I do it because I want to have the same abilities as others, I don’t want to be sick.

Know that every journey or trip requires planning to know where toilets are, a packing of wipes and underwear, a knowledge that using public toilets is an embarrassing experience because of the noise, that I’m using up valuable spoons to do that thing and will suffer for it later.

Please just have a little understanding that despite my brash, shouty, activist exterior I am still healing, still learning how to accept and use my new body and still dealing with the emotional trauma that the past 18 months have thrown at me.

Sam ✌️&❤️

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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ostomy photoshoot sexy ileostomy 50s pin up photo shoot so bad ass sam cleasby

 

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best friends photobooth

 

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hot tub

 

chuck d and flavor flav tramlines

 

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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

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