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I’ve been working on a new project called The Grantidote.  Last week it took me west, to where I come from.

The Grantidote’s centering women, pausing to understand how a woman’s wholeness is made up of fragments big and small, some chosen, others delivered by circumstance.

The Grantidote’s about acknowledging the marks women leave on our world.  I believe by fully registering women’s impact we begin to rectify an error that’s made how we organise, experience and understand humanity feel ill-fitting and wrong.

Toxic masculinity needn’t control the whole narrative, after all.

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Hop on my hashtags too, won’t you?  #52and40, Instagram and #TheGrantidote

Justification

 

I’m calling great big dirty bullshit on the word *just*

 

I put it to you the word just is a bullshit signifier; that whatever words come before or after it need to come under immediate suspicion because the fact that just is in the air means the integrity of the other words have, I believe, been compromised.

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Test it out.  Think of the times that you say just.  Listen out for other people saying it.  Is just justified for anything other than deliberate obfuscation to smooth over the cracks of something that isn’t as simple as the person saying it would like to convey?

I heard myself using just as a great big crock of smoothing over shit recently.  I was explaining to a friend how to set the alarm in our house in prep for her checking in on the dog one day soon afterwards.  I kept saying things like, ‘you just put in the code, then press one, then you run out that door and shut it before ten seconds has passed, then you just listen for a beep’.  Then I really looked at her face and thought again of a quote I first heard through an Open University course, I think it was Gregory Bateson who said it first;

 

The meaning of your communication is the response you get.

 

The response I was getting was one of confusion and anxiety on the face of a very smart friend.  The problem was not hers – it was mine.  I was using the word just to cover up the fact that, deep down, I felt a bit shit about asking a favour that contained complicated instructions and no small amount of responsibility.   We restarted with a new framing that went something like, ‘this alarm is a prick. I’m sorry. I’m writing everything about it down and I don’t want you to worry about it if it doesn’t go smoothly, it’s not your fault and you’re a bloody star for giving it a go – thank you’.

So I’m clearing just from my 2017.  It’s hoodwinked me and got in the way of the open, more meaningful conversation I’m working to create by contaminating exchanges with a toxicity that works against the intention I have.

Just, I hear you knocking but you can’t come in.

Happy new year all.  x

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More about #Clearing40 here.

Eleven Things

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you couldn’t buy honey in supermarkets for £25 a jar I was tagged by Daisy and given some fantastic questions which I immediately started answering and then promptly forgot about.

Now here we are in 2016 and thanks to the KonMari method of decluttering I’m looking through life for things that spark joy, which is how I ended up in my drafts folders like a woman high on the delete key and possessed by minimalism.

So here, at last, are Daisy’s questions and my answers…….

1. Of all your birthdays so far, which was your favourite?

On my 37th one of my best friends came to Edinburgh and we went out in ‘undone’ clothes just to have a few drinks and a good catch up.  We ended up on a Stag Night with a load of Newcastle & Durham guys who were a hoot.  Afterwards we pushed a rikshaw taxi up a hill it was struggling on and made the passengers & rider scream with terror, which was, we felt, hilarious.  Then we got a chicken kebab and walked home.  In the morning said BF got up early with my kids and husband, put a party hat on the dog and they all made me a lovely breakfast and gave me presents.  So yes, that was bloody fab.

2. Have you ever been on television? Would you want to be?

No and no.  I do however fancy a bit of radio.

3. Do you have a ‘signature dish’? If not, what’s your favourite thing to cook?

My signature dish would be Spal Bol cause I’ve cooked it so bloody much now I can do it with my eyes shut, my brain in sleep mode and one leg disengaged from my pelvis like a horse having forty winks by a stone dyke.  Spag Bol continues to be a great way to smuggle a multitude of veg into the kids without them screaming about Childline and ranting about the pointless, disgustingness of courgettes, etc. I’m pretty good at Quesadillas & chicken bhuna with bucketfuls of fresh herbs in both.  So don’t come to mine for fine dining but if you like healthy comfort food… get in (and bring Chablis).

4. Think back to when you were 16. Is your life now how you imagined it would be then?

At 16 I’d just been chucked out of school and had had some spectacularly shit things happen in my life in the immediate years before.  I’d also freshly fallen head over heels with my Prince of the Underworld criminal boyfriend. My middle class life now couldn’t be further from what I had  then and I’m not sure I imagined much at all at that time, past the twenty four hours immediately in front of me and a bit of Bonnie and Clyde based fantasising.  It feels like a long time ago and yesterday.  I’m only now really sticking together the pieces about what the road was from there to here.  I’m lucky, that’s for sure.

5. What’s your most visited website?

Twitter.

6. Show me your favourite photo of yourself.

OK. It’s this one, taken by my husband.

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We were having a laugh in a hired van which we’d use the next day to move from Bonnykelly in NE Aberdeenshire to Banchory, on Deeside.  We giggled our heads off, just the four of us and the dog.  We were all excited by the big change that was coming and I LOVED that being in the van was such a novelty.  I look at the photos from that night and I’m whisked back on a huge smile about what a tough and daring little team we’ve often been.  I also love the fact that at that stage in their lives the kids felt only excitement about change – they trusted their Dad and I completely and didn’t have so many external cues about fearing change and railing against it as a default reaction.

7. What’s your dream job?

Songwriter. Working in studios with musicians and singers.  And writing satirical comedy for TV/novels/radio.

8. Are you a cat or a dog person?  Or a horse or a lizard?  You get the picture. I’m trying to avoid asking what’s your favourite animal?

I love cats, dogs and horses.  However Twitter has really amped up my visual addiction to photos of all sorts of baby animals.  Otters (who hold hands when they sleep, FFS) have really enriched my life and calm me right down when I’m freaking out.  So judge me.

9. What’s the one song that will always get you on the dance floor?

Too many to mention.  But My First, My Last… by Barry White springs to mind as a starter.  Then Teardrops by Womack & Womack.  And Do Ya Wanna Funk, by Sylvester.  I listen to them all when I’m running.

10. Which blog post you’ve written do you feel  deserved a bit more love than it got?

On my old blog I wrote about female on female sexual abuse and it was met with what felt like a horrified silence and a definite sending to Coventry by some in the blogosphere which was markedly more twinset and pearls oriented then that it is now.  Safe was the safety word.  It was never going to work with me, was it?  That negativity really floored me but also pushed me to stumble onto the thought that I didn’t need those people’s approval or validation anyway.  In fact, when I got down to facing my values, I realised I didn’t even want their validation.  From there, Wordathlon was born and I bloody love it.  It’s truly me in a way my old blog never was.  So ultimately, a shit thing transformed into a brilliant thing.  I really, really dig when things turn round like that.

11. If someone was naming a cocktail after you, what would be in it and what would it be called?

It’d be called The Mother Inferior.  It’d have gin, elderflower tonic, wads of ice, a huge slanty slice of cucumber and some frozen blueberries, impregnated with blueberry sloe gin.  It would come in a massive red wine glass, duct taped onto a full size tube of sour cream and onion Pringles.  The name would be a nod to the fact that I think trying to be a perfect Mum is a crock of shit that makes you insane and produces kids who’ll struggle to live with humour and creativity.  I think it’s better to do your best most of the time and accept that the times when you can’t or don’t are the ones that keep you relateable and curious.

Thanks to Daisy for tagging me.  She’s a really inspiring woman who makes me laugh and think. What better kind is there?