Awkward things.

I Give Myself Very Good Advice…


Sometimes I don’t take my own advice.  Ok, so most of the time I don’t take my own advice, or anyone else’s for that matter. In fact, I’m usually way too busy metaphorically speeding down the M4 in the wrong lane wearing a blindfold to even bother opening my ears. I like life a little exciting, but terrifying will do. Anything but dull is appreciated, but I’ve realised recently that that’s a really stupid way to live your life. I look back over the years and there are so many horrific situations that I have sleepwalked into, all because I’ve been looking for a story.

I really should take my own advice.

But it’s one of those things, isn’t it? It’s easy enough to tell someone else not to look down, but when you’re the one on the tightrope, you just want to see how far you’ve got to fall. And it’s a long way down.

Lately I’ve been trying to listen to myself more. It’s not that I think I’m that great at advice, although obviously I wouldn’t give it to my friends if I thought that it was somehow going to result in them screaming out for Spiderman. It’s just that I want to practice what I preach in life, and I want to see what sort of gift I’ve been giving, and whether I should keep doling it out.

This is shaping up to be a super interesting year, and everything’s gone crazy in my world, so it’s the prime time to be looking for some semblance of control, and control to me always comes in the form of rules. I use them to bar my way and beat myself with, but I also use them as what they’re designed for – structure. And some structure right about now would be pretty sweet.

So here are some of the things I say when times are tough and I’m asked for advice, and the reasons I’m starting to listen:

“Be kind to yourself”

Why is this so hard to do?! When I look in the mirror, my knee-jerk reaction is to pick myself apart. I grew up with a mother who grabbed at her stomach and yanked it hard, whilst moaning how fat she was, and I’ve started to do the same. It’s not just physical either. Every time I make a mistake, I can’t help but call myself stupid. The worst F word is failure, and it’s right there, on the tip of my tongue. I can spend all day beating myself up emotionally, and where does it get me? Sulking in bed with a large tub of Booja-Booja, watching America’s Next Top Model and hating them ALL. Hardly a dream destination. Clearly this needs to stop. If my friends had the same masochistic approach to their self-esteem, I would knock some sense into them with a self-love stick.

So I’m updating my vocabulary. Now if I don’t know an answer, I ask, and I’m not dumb, I’m learning. If I look in the mirror, I’m Bootylicious, not fat. I am challenging myself to reframe everything, to look at it all from a new, sunny direction. I am reminding myself that I am a human being, with feelings and needs and all the squishy emotions of a child, just packaged differently. And it feels so much better so quickly! I am no longer terrified of my own reflection, despite making no change to the size of my derriere. I am nicer to other people too, way more understanding. I think I’m just more aware of the battle they might be having inside their own heads for the silliest reasons, and I want them to know, subconsciously, what I’ve learned: “You are beautiful and you are doing just fine.”

Put Into Practice Rating: 4/5 (I’m not Tyra fierce, but I’m getting there!)

“Don’t worry, it’ll be fiiine!”

Yes, I am one of those annoying ‘glass half full’ people, and I do say it with exactly that emphasis. It’s in my nature to be so enthusiastic and positive that it’s irritating, verging on ‘calm down dear’. I believe in the goodness of life, I believe in my friends, and I believe that they will land on their feet with a million pounds in their bank account and a free teacup pig. Unfortunately my sunny side up stance doesn’t translate to my own life. It’s not because my positivity ends at my doorstep, but because I examine every possibility in my life with the finest of toothcombs.* Of the myriad futures that flow out before me, there is a large amount that will be negative. If you look at the theory of the multiverse, somewhere, somewhen, there is a version of you that’s in prison. Another one’s considering suicide. Another one is about to be probed by aliens. Another one is a fan of Robin Thicke. All these things could happen to you, or me, or any of us, and that is utterly terrifying.

But I’m trying not to think about that.

Lately I’ve been turning my back to any possibilities with a hint of gloom. I’ve barely spent any time considering the likelihood of my worldwide televised embarrassment, which, really, I should get a medal for.** My future is being hardcore shined with a J-cloth and a bottle of Cif. Everything is supposed to be amazing unless proven otherwise. If I have an interview, it will go awesomely. If I take a test, I’ll pass with all the flying colours of Rainbow Dash. If I have a date, he will fall in love immediately and whisk me off to the beach. Of course, these things might not happen, but so what? Does being prepared for failure make for less bruises? Nope. It just means that you get a double dose of misery, and who wants that? I’m liking the sunny side of the street and I intend to hang out here for the foreseeable. At least if I trip, I’ll have had fun on the fall.

Put Into Practice Rating: 5/5 (I may not be realistic, but I’m happy!)


This is related to the last piece of advice, but is less about wandering around with a big grin on your face, and more about wandering into the Danger Zone with the same big grin. My friends could be about to make a really stupid/impossible/insane complete mistake, involving rabid dogs and Z list celebrities, but if they ask me what to do, I tell them to jump. Now this is not because I’m an awful friend, but because I don’t know for sure if it’s a bad idea, but I know that jumping is the way to find out. A lot of things look bad close up, but when you step back or turn around to check them out from the other side, they’re actually brilliant. So many impossible things have happened in this world that wouldn’t have even been bothered if someone hadn’t been blinkered against the massive pile of cons and said f**k it. And even if it all goes horribly wrong, hey, at least you’ll have a story. An anecdote about the time you tried to drunkenly ride a dog and discovered that it was a little old lady named Dorothy, who was wearing a fur coat and bending over to rescue a dropped Werther’s Original ALWAYS goes down well at parties. Trust me.

So I know all of this, but can I take my own advice? Hahahahahaha…No. I think it helps with this one to have a devil on your shoulder prodding you with a pitchfork, or at least a best friend threatening to tell all of your secrets to the FBI*** if you don’t do the awesome thing right now and take pictures. Doing crazy, impossible, epic things is scary and hard. And it’s sooo much easier to push someone else off a bridge than jump yourself. It doesn’t help that I have a habit of building things up and up and up, until they can only be disappointments. Even if the apocalypse started right now, and buildings were ablaze and aliens were tweeting their mass murder plans from a spaceship that looked EXACTLY like a glitter ball, I’d be like, “Where the hell are all the zombies?” So I become unwilling to risk day-to-day humdrum for the mediocrity of a poor apocalyptic performance, and when Jesus comes back and is all like, “Now?” I’d shake my head and say, “Not now, Jesus, not now.” And he’d be sad and I’d be sad and where would that leave us? Exactly.

Put Into Practice Rating: 0/5 (I am a coward when it comes to the big, scary, possibly life-threatening stuff.)

The lesson here is that I give awesome advice, and someone should really pay me for it. I’m thinking a Ricki Lake-type show, with added unicorns. Ooh, and a gunge pit for men who fail the paternity test and anyone who tries to wrestle the security guards. And the security guards will be dressed as Smurfs and carry tasers! Yes. This is brilliant.

So for my final thought****, I just want to say that life is really difficult sometimes, and sometimes it’s the easiest thing in the world, but it’s all the same life, all the same journey. Everybody is going through some stuff. Even when someone’s smiling, you really can’t tell what pain they’re smiling through. So the best advice I can give you, and the best advice you can take and use and share is to:

“Take care of yourself, and each other.”

*You NEED to Google toothcombs. The universe is epic.

**Not even joking.

***Please note, government spies, that my secrets are the really boring sort, and you’d be as pissed as me if she told you. Plus I’m British, so all of my secrets involve things you wouldn’t understand, like Marmite and top hats and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

****Sorry Jerry!

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The New Valentine’s Rules


So it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m not a crying mess. This is progress.

Usually I’d be on the super-fast roller-coaster of Hate-Yourself Day emotions.

It starts with: ‘I don’t care. It’s all a greetings card, Illuminati-funded conspiracy to guilt the vulnerable into buying up all the chocolate so they get fat and feel sad, then they buy all the diet pills and feel great, then they buy up all the bikinis. So clearly there’s a Scientologist company that produces a surplus of crappy cards, raspberry ketones and itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis… And garage flowers.’

Which morphs into: ‘Oh my gosh, I hate myself. Nobody loves me. Nobody will ever love me. Why can’t I find a man to last minute panic buy me wilted flowers and cherry Lambrini?!’

Then: ‘It’s because I’m fat and ugly. No. It’s because men are evil. And stupid. All the men are complete bastards. I don’t want one anyway. Maybe I’m a lesbian? Nope, too into lumberjacks to be a lesbian.’

‘Hey, hold on. Equality! There are probably definitely female lumberjacks.’

‘With beards?’

‘Maybe. Don’t be so negative.’

‘Are there even lumberjacks anymore??? I’ve never seen one, so maybe they’re extinct…’

‘You’ve never seen a manatee either. Do you think that manatees are extinct?’

‘Oh my gosh, Tilly. This is why you’re single. You’re comparing lumberjacks to manatees. You’re going to die surrounded by unread paperbacks and a family of cats that can’t stand you.’

‘I’m allergic to cats.’

‘That’s how you die. Duh. Let’s add stupid to the reasons you are incredibly, unbearably, pathetically single.’



That’s not where I am right now, which is like happy.

This Hallmark-funded farce of a day, (Ok, maybe there’s a teensy bit of resentment still lurking) I will be using it to spoil myself. I am starting a revolution.

I will be my own true love.

Self-love is a thing I’ve been into lately, since I’ve finally come around to the idea that if you don’t look after yourself first, you can’t look after anyone else. You know, when the plane starts to dip and rumble and there’s smoke and everyone’s screaming and flailing their arms around, it’s important to put your own oxygen mask on first before you help the child next to you. Because how helpful is a child going to be when you crash land on a deserted island? I’ve read Lord of the Flies and I wear glasses, so I’m not taking any chances with that.

So how can you be your own true love and avoid throwing yourself out of a top floor window with a V card scrawled in your mum’s handwriting strapped to your chest? Luckily for you, I have it all figured out. Here are my tips…

  • Be Nice to Yourself

If you’re anything like me, you might not be too great at this. There’s that bitchy part of your brain constantly telling you that you’re not good enough, that you’re too fat/skinny/ugly/spotty/stupid/boring/whatever. Well today is an important day for you, because you’re going to learn how awesome it is when you send that bit of your brain out for a loaf of bread and then lock all the doors. Extra points for cutting up its clothes and tossing them out of the window. Today you need to tell yourself you’re awesome and beautiful. Use the opposite of whatever ex-brain says, because ex-brain doesn’t even know there’s a spare key under the mat, so how could it possibly offer any real insight on your value as a person? Every time you catch yourself flirting with nastiness, I want you to chuck it out and then dowse the area in kindness like it’s bleach. Three kind thoughts for every mean one. You’ll be feeling like Beyoncé by the end of the day.

  • Feed Yourself Good Food

And by good food, I do NOT mean all of the reduced chocolate in the world, drowned down with rosé. That’s not what’s going on here. Spoiling yourself isn’t literal. A teensy bit of chocolate is awesome, as is a teensy bit of wine, but choke down the whole corner shop and you’ll be feeling like you want to die. Then you’ll get on the whole pills-bikini merry-go-round, and it’s pretty damn hard to get off. So spoil yourself, but in a kind way. You love yourself, right? Or at least you want to. So you need to act like you care when you’re deciding what to eat. Think healthy, lots of fruits of vegetables. But this is a special day, this is YOUR day, so make it pretty. Make an effort with your food. Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant and eaten something so delicious that you vowed to make it at home, but never did? This is your chance. You’re awesome so you can do it, and more importantly, you DESERVE to do it.

  • Pamper Yourself

Pampering doesn’t need to be expensive, and that’s where a lot of people go wrong. If you put stuff in the box of ‘one day’, you are never going to get around to it. And this is important. All you need to properly pamper yourself is a book, (I like easy, cheesy reads when I’m chillaxing, maybe something you got free with a magazine) a bath, some incense or a candle, (salted caramel Yankee candle – you’re welcome) a bath bomb, bath salts or bubble bath and some sort of oil (baby oil is fine). The trick is to take time. Don’t rush things. You have the rest of your life to do the things you need to do. Today is your day, so use it. I want you to relax in the bath with your book until your fingers and toes go pruney, and then I want you to massage yourself with the oil, paying attention to the body parts you hate, and I want you to be kind to them. Remember the bitchy brain is outside banging on the back door. Today you love your wobbles and your wrinkles and your bones, because they are yours, and you are pretty damn awesome.


I saved the best tip until last because, if you’re anything like me, you see the word ‘presents’ and this pink, sparkly haze descends and you lose control of your limbs. I love presents. But the thing is, I much prefer giving presents than getting presents. Getting presents can be hit and miss, and you have to act all grateful when they hand you a singing fish that only knows one song and NEVER SHUTS UP. But giving presents lets you be thoughtful and excited and watch the smile explode onto their face when they realise that their gift is not something they’re going to have to beat with a hammer an unreasonable amount of times in order to get some sleep. Today you need to do that for yourself. Not the hammer part, the presents. But don’t go crazy, this isn’t about going bankrupt. Set yourself a limit, and then think hard about what makes you truly happy. I like to buy lots of little gifts, stuff like candles, luxury teas, and books that have been on my Amazon wish list for so long that they’ve got bored of nagging me to buy them. You know what you’d love to be given and this is your opportunity.

So there you go. Follow these and you’ll have an amazing day, which will hopefully prompt you to be kinder to yourself in general. One day your lumberjack will lumber along, but he’s going to be looking for the future you, not the you now. So kick that bitchy brain out into the cold and start pampering. This day is all about you, so use it, because you are the kind of awesome that a card could never describe.

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On Being Fat and Happy

Today I realised something awesome. I can finally look in the mirror and not hate what I see. I don’t see a whale or an ogre or a monster, or anything unlikely to be standing in my bedroom gawping at their reflection. I see myself and I am happy. For a long time I wasn’t happy with the way that I looked. I’d been a normal-sized child, (whatever normal is) up until around the time when I was seven. Then my nan died and I started to comfort eat. You’ve heard this story before, a million times I’m sure, so I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that food was my friend, my friend that I ate. When I ate, I was happy and when I gained weight I was sad, so I ate, blah, blah, blah. You see where this goes.

By the time I’d made it to high school I was huge, and kids being kids, they thought that I was too dumb to notice so they pointed it out. My real name is Natalie and my theme tune, (thanks go to whoever it was that created such a work of art,) was ‘Natalie the fatalie, the big fat Natalie.’ Beautiful. So I carried on eating the only friends I had, and I carried on being reminded that I didn’t fit in, that I was ugly and that no-one would ever want me. I was miserable.

Logic dictates that if you are not happy with something you should fix it, so I did. When I realised that I wasn’t going to wake up with Christina Aguilera’s body, I stopped eating. Being a teenager, I knew that I was indestructible. I didn’t need food, I wanted it, but I wanted skinny more. I reduced my daily intake to 500 kcals and, of course, the pounds fell off. I started getting complimented. ‘You look sooo good!’ meant ‘Wow! Before you were gross, but now you’re actually worth talking to.’So I carried on until I’d lost almost half of my body weight, then I waited to be happy.

It turns out thin doesn’t equal happy. Happy equals happy, which I might have understood earlier had I paid as much attention to my education as I did to the attitudes of my peers. So when I reached my goal and I didn’t feel any better, I decided that maybe I hadn’t lost enough of myself. Unfortunately, once I’d reached my goal, I’d let myself eat, and having let myself taste my old addiction, I was hooked once more. But it was ok, I knew what to do. Instead of starving, I could eat, I would eat, and then I’d get rid of it by purging.

Now I know that you people are not stupid, and I know that I was. This is not only terribly unhealthy, (think gross skin, bad breath and rotten teeth,) but also It Does. Not. Work. I put on weight. A lot of weight. In my quest to get people to like me, to get boys to see me as someone worthy of their affection, to get me to like myself, I had turned myself into a science experiment gone wrong. So I stopped, and I ate and I ate less and I reached a balance. I eventually got to a weight that’s not skinny, but it’s mine.

I realised then that happiness comes from within. At my thinnest I was more miserable than I’d ever been being fat. I was also more unhealthy. When I wasn’t starving my brain out of my body, I had the capacity to be clever, funny and even likeable. It wasn’t the fat that was getting in the way; it was my fear of letting people near my fat. I didn’t want them to see what they saw already, not knowing that not everyone was as judgemental as me.

If you’ve ever watched TV, read a magazine or even walked past a billboard, you will see that everybody has the same problem that I had. Not everyone’s fat, but everyone seems to hate their looks as much as I did. Whether it’s starving yourself for summer, working out until your arms fall off or turning a neon shade of orange, everyone has a problem with their body image. That makes me sad. We are all so self-involved that we barely look at other people, and yet, we’re working on ourselves to impress the people who aren’t even looking at us. No-one cares about your weight as much as you do. Sure, they may look, they may point, they may make snarky remarks, but do you know what’s going on in their minds? They’re judging you to take a moment from judging themselves.

As with most things, the media can take a big slice of blame pie on this one. They Photoshop already unattainable bodies to oblivion and probe us to get bikini ready. They push clothes racks down the runway and cast the fat girl as the funny one. Sex scenes are between perfect people only and as far as boobs are concerned, go big or go home. But there’s been a change lately. Women are taking TV by the horns and pointing the camera at our jiggly bits. Lena Dunham has thrown off her clothes and promised to show her thighs every day until she dies.

I want to be happy, of course, everybody does unless they’re masochistic or insane. I also want to be a role model. I want to show that you can be fat and happy and pretty and smart and likeable. Skinny does not equal anything more than skinny, and fat is just a word. You can be whatever you want to be, regardless of your size, looks, colour, age, gender or sexuality. You are a person, just like me, and you can look in the mirror and not see a monster, but a beautiful human being, worthy of love and life and all the awesomeness that you can throw at it. So take a look and like it, because happiness is much cooler than misery.


Image courtesy of:


Only in Dreams


I was just wondering, is anybody actually happy with themselves? Like properly happy? I have this crazy idea that I will be happy when I’m a couple of stone lighter, or a couple of million richer, or when I become best friends with Neil Gaiman and steal his talent by osmosis. But will I? I have this habit where, right before I fall asleep, I slip into this magical fantasy world. I am beautiful and skinny, like Angelina Jolie, smoochie lips gorgeous, I am Steve Jobs-style successful, I live in a castle, for goodness sake, and it’s baby blue. This is the life that I crave and I should be happy.

It turns out that in my fantasy world, where I’m given everything I’ve ever wanted, all I do is want more. Yeah I’m pretty, but my nose should be more pixie-like, my lips should be poofier, I should have that posh girl hair that looks like you didn’t try. Do they try? I have no idea. I want a treehouse and a holiday home in Saundersfoot, (I’m not fussy, just greedy,) and even then the picture doesn’t look right to me. Yes in this new world I’m perfect, life is perfect, but I didn’t earn it. I haven’t worked for my castle, I didn’t spend hours drowning my laptop with tears to write my bestsellers. It’s all an obvious lie.

So what do I do? Should I keep dreaming up my modelesque fairy land or should I sit down, shut up and be happy with what I have? I have a lot, it’s true. I’ve had a few successes  and I’ve worked hard for them, earning every damn bottle of Bucks Fizz. I have an amazing family of friends. I have a bloody good life. But I don’t think life is about resting. I believe that you should strive for more, and use what you have to get what you want. So I’m going to be grateful for my gifts and keep swimming upstream; and with all that exercise, by the time I reach my castle I’ll definitely be bikini ready!

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