Saying no is DIFFICULT…

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-19-16-22

I mean, it should be easy right? It’s two letters. Just TWO. I mean TWO even has more letters than NO and it has a really oddly placed W that could be tricky if we thought about it too much…..

So why is saying ‘no’ so troublesome? Well for me this has been a lifelong struggle. Anyone who knows me knows that this is part and parcel of the Lindsey Experience. I’m like the real life “I Can Do That” Catherine Tate sketch. I will do the most mundane, repetitive and thankless of tasks if it makes someone / anyone else’s life that bit easier. I also used to think that I enjoyed it. This year in particular I have been figuring out that actually, it’s not enjoyable AT ALL.

I actually shudder when I see it in magazines or self-help books. They advise just saying, “No, I don’t want to,” in response to being asked to do a task you genuinely have no desire to get involved in. I mean, that’s terrifying, isn’t it? What if the other person thinks badly of me? What if I look like a bitch? What if they hate me?

Saying ‘no’ can come in a variety of forms – “No, I don’t want to,” is what I like to call “Advanced No’ing.” It’s like the self-actualisation bit at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. An advanced no-er is an unstoppable creature. I included a jazzy infographic above because SCIENCE

I am an “Explanatory No-er.” That’s about half way up the pyramid which is a damn sight better than where I was in 2015. I am now finding it much easier to say no, although I feel the need to explain myself REPEATEDLY. Only more recently has this ended with me still saying no and not talking myself into doing the thing I didn’t want to do AND more stuff that I just offered up because I felt bad for almost saying no.

In my experience of practising saying no, I have found out that the person you are saying it to will either a) be gracious and accept your answer and things will carry on as normal OR b) they will sprout horns and curse you as they plot your untimely demise. We can all do without B’s in our lives – if this happens then I strongly advise you walk away.

This can also be applicable to how we are treated by others. If you have asked someone / anyone to stop treating you in a certain way because it hurts and they stop? Then you have someone worthy of your time. Congratulations, you have located one of the many decent humans out there.

If you tell them and they continue to do so? Then that person is not one that should have a place in your life and it is your responsibility to walk away. I know that it’s not easy, my GAWD do I know that. I know the temptation of waiting around because you hope SO HARD that this person will change. Newsflash – THEY WON’T. You are responsible for looking after YOU. It is EASY to blame someone else for making us feel bad, especially if it is true. It is also easy to play the victim, especially when we actually are the victim BUT is this something we want forever?  Nothing in this scenario changes unless WE change it. I know this from gut wrenching experience on more than one occasion this year.

This week I made a complaint about the treatment I received from a nurse when I was being treated by her. I have NEVER made a formal complaint about anyone in my LIFE. I have been struggling with stress related sleep issues so I decided to speak with someone who could offer some support. She told me that “in my line of work I should know how to deal with stress,” and, “I’ll get over it.” When I got home it made me so upset to think that someone else would maybe attend her with similar issues and be told something similar. I mean, I am lucky to have friends and family around me who love and support me. Someone else might not be so lucky. If she was their last hope it would be exceptionally grim. The letter of complaint was my way of saying, “No. I don’t want that,” and even moreso, “I don’t want that for ANYONE.”

So there you have it, my thoughts on saying the N word. It’s not easy but it is beyond necessary at times. What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me kNOw (see what I did there?)

Ps. I am getting better at saying No to humans but still struggling with saying No to chips. Any assistance would be gratefully received……

 

How do you distract yourself?

img_2397

I have been having the WORST time sleeping at the minute and anyone who knows me will know how much I love my sleep. I got up this morning after zero shut eye and I think it is safe to say that my mood could have been described as “meh” with an undertone of “ugh” and that is me being extremely optimistic. Do you ever get those mornings where it seems like even inanimate objects are out to get you? Well, that was me. Everything I went to do this morning was an absolute obstacle that had me shaking my fist at the sky pre 9am.

I was staring angrily at the TV when I got a notification to say that someone had commented on my last blog post. I have to say, initially I was terrified. Had it been in line with the rest of my Monday AM I may never have so much as opened my laptop again. But it wasn’t. It was a beautiful post about how MY words had impacted someone whom I had never met. That’s pretty major, right? So thank you Fiona, you saved my Monday.

With that lovely little kick up the arse, I decided that I needed to be productive today. I would take my own advice and distract myself from the meh and the ugh.Here are a couple of things I like to do to keep me upright.

Go for a wander

I have been walking a lot over the past few weeks and as beautiful as it is down at Hazelbank and Loughshore (see photo above), it can get pretty boring going round and round the same route repeatedly. Today I walked from Yorkgate to The Crescent Arts Centre and back. Oh my giddy aunt, the opportunities for people watching are AMAZING. If you, like me, are REALLY NOSEY then I fully recommend that you just walk in and around your nearest City Centre – you won’t even notice the miles clocking up because there are so many things to distract you. At Botanic Station today I was witness to a woman whose sneeze sounded exactly like the cry of a goat. Howzaboutthat. Also, if it rains you can pop into one of the 7000 coffee shops nearby. You don’t have to walk a million miles if you don’t want to, but getting out is a good way to give your brain a break. Oh and take photos on your way, not of random people as I think that’s very illegal but of things that catch your eye.

img_2509

I took this of City Hall today – SO PRETTY even on the dullest of days

Listen to music

You guys, today I found an 80’s playlist on Spotify and I think it is safe to say that it completely turned my day around. I. LOVE. 80s. MUSIC. I can’t help it. I want to live my life like I have an eternal walk on role in Mannequin. This playlist gave me all of those feels and more. It is called 80s XL and you need it. Like yesterday. I would like to see anyone try to be unhappy while listening to Gloria Estefan or Starship – it’s NOT POSSIBLE

fullsizeoutput_bc5

One of my gorgeous friends Detox does an amazing drag act to this song. You should YouTube that now, you’re welcome

 

Talk to the people who make you laugh…

As I said in my previous post, I am lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing circle of friends and family. Amidst this gaggle of wondrousness are some of the most hilarious humans to ever walk the face of the earth. When I feel like I am about to trip over my own bottom lip, I am the first in line to get a dose of their LOLS. It is hard to be a grump when you have comedians on stand by who are more than willing to turn your frown upside down. I know that this is not for everyone and sometimes a good moan is necessary, believe me, I am all for a moan when the time is right but I have found (personally) that moaning gets me nowhere. It only serves to make me unhappy and to drag a poor unsuspecting comedian down with me – ergo I’m all about that humour medicine.

So there you have it, those are my tips for today. As always, I want to hear from YOU, remember I am REALLY NOSEY! What do you do to give yourself a one way ticket out of the doldrums?

What does being strong mean to you?

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-22-56-15

So, I was lying in bed last night and no matter what I tried I could not sleep. No way, no how. One of the things that I always end up doing is overthinking, so I decided that I would switch on the Presidential Debate as a distraction. Which lead to me (you guessed it) thinking. Now, I’m not about to launch into a massive discussion on the debate, but what I noticed was how composed Madame President was, sorry #badhombre, you’re not for me. She kept it together when I and millions of others were screaming at our TV’s, phones and iPads. I couldn’t believe her strength…

At the beginning of 2016 I was in the darkest of dark places. I was unwell, I was unhappy and I had never disliked myself more. It didn’t just come on all of a sudden (don’t worry, it’s not like BOOM YOU’RE AWFUL) it had been a build up of years of giving too much to people who took it when they wanted and discarded it when something more shiny came along, then told me it was my issue. I was faced with a decision. I could either continue to allow myself to accept this and label myself the issue, or walk away. Finally, I chose to walk away.

I. WAS. TERRIFIED. I didn’t know who I was anymore. When I got my head above water? Meh, it was still dark. Not gonna lie. But as the time went on I began to realise. What I did? It took strength. It was not an ‘easy way out,’ I knew I had done the right thing for me, but like, when was it going to stop giving me palpitations and cold sweats and a sore heart?

This is a process, dear reader, and one which I am still working on. I slip into pits of rage and despair about the Dark Ages (as I call them ever so affectionately -#followmytwitterforragelindsey,) but what is more apparent to me is how strong I was and how much stronger I am becoming. I found the positive. I now choose to do something that makes me feel good instead of repeating the actions that make me feel bad. There is only so much anyone else can do for us, sometimes we have to take action and change what we don’t like.

Something that has really made me sit up and take notice is the strength of the people around me. I have been blessed by a group of friends who exhibit so much strength it is inspirational. Some who have always been there, some I have reconnected with and those who have come into my life more recently. On reflection, my inner circle is amazing and I don’t tell them that often enough. I dare anyone to cross my friends.

Also, there is strength in my family who I know will stand by me through thick and thin, and who, I hope, know I would do the same for them.

I mean, of course I could spend every hour of every day feeling sorry for myself. That would be so easy. Don’t get it twisted, sometimes I still disappear into a blanket fort and watch Netflix until it asks me if I’m still there because I have just been staring at the screen. There is definitely a time when that is necessary for me. But, I don’t want that FOREVER for me – I don’t want it forever for ANYONE.

I also don’t want this to be a post where I just wax lyrical about my breakthroughs (even though it kind of is) I want you to tell me about your strength. Everyone reading this has it by the bucketload. Maybe you don’t know it yet, but you do. No two people’s experiences are the same. Tell me what you do to take care of yourself. To promote positivity in YOUR life, for YOU.

I think what I am trying to say is sometimes the hardest decisions can lead to the greatest outcomes. Sometimes we have to face our worst fears to live our best lives. And sometimes we have to let go of what is causing us pain (no matter how difficult) to make room for positivity.

I’m already planning my next post which will be in collaboration with the Itty Bitty Book Co who are in the midst of their #positivitytakeover – if you haven’t heard of them, go and visit their site. I hyperlinked it so it would be easy to find, you’re welcome.

I can’t wait to hear all about how you promote positivity in your day to day lives – sharing is caring you guys so leave me a comment! Until next time…..

Mixing drinks may well be the way forward…

I was out with my long time mega friend and super supporter The Mighty Spalison and we went to Flame Restaurant on Howard Street (my fave restaurant of ALL TIME EVER) for their totally amazing lunch menu. As part of  Belfast Restaurant Week, Flame are offering 3 courses for £20 – sure how could you beat it? Sidebar – sorry if you thought this was going to be a restaurant review – I leave food blogging to the professionals. Speaking of food bloggers, go visit my lovely chum over at the award winning Eating Ideas – you’re welcome 😉

Now, I’m no genius, but the glory of a cocktail is that there are many varieties of alcohol all mixed into one beverage, amirite? So why am I not using my phone upside down when I partake of these on a day/night out? More importantly, how come I am bright and breezy the next day??

I never used to care about what I chose to drink on a night out BUT I was always told, “NEVER MIX YOUR DRINKS” and that was a rule I solemnly stuck to. This may seem ‘sensible’ but that adjective was rarely thrown around when I was in my Glory Days. By Glory Days I mean when I chose to drink Absinthe and Lemonade. This is not a lie, you can ask anyone.

I stuck to the same drink ALL night, yet I always ended up talking to a pot plant or missing a shoe. Okay, I guess this is not reliable evidence as sticking to rocket fuel all night may not be at the heart of the ‘never mix your drinks’ advice. I am pretty sure there was a reason they used to put a stamp on the back of your hand in the M Club to let the bar staff know you had already imbibed 2 shots of the Green Fairy.

Then came The Dark Ages. I decided that I wasn’t drinking at all. That was awful and the less time we spend on that the better. So once I realised that the life of a tee totaller was not for me I decided that vodka was ‘my drink.’ Vodka however hated me and now the feeling is mutual so then beer and I became buddies. Well. That was a mistake. In my time as a beer drinker I;

  • microwaved an ENTIRE birthday cake because I wanted one warm slice. When I woke up the next day it was out in the garden – cake wasting is a crime
  • ended up at a house party where the entertainment was a cream cracker eating competition. I was picking cream cracker out of my hair for weeks. I also won…
  • slid on decking round the back of my house into the full splits. Only caring that I had dirtied my white fingerless gloves (I.WAS.COOL) – not the fact that I may have dislocated both my legs

And those are the PG tales of bygone days that I publicly admit to. If you want gory details then we need to be sitting down after making a legally binding confidentiality pact. I do have SOME class.

I was terrified of cocktails. I mean they contained MILLIONS of alcohols so it could only end in tears, right?

WRONG – not ONE disaster has been experienced while I have been a classy bird.

I implore you – get yourselves down to Flame and try their cocktails, while you are at it go to Bootleggers on Church Lane and give them a go, you will not be disappointed. Mixing drinks is the way forward, especially if they look pretty.

Tig Notaro makes me happy…

fullsizerender

This year I developed an adoration of Lady Dynamite on Netflix. This was not my usual light hearted comedy of choice. I will do a separate post about this obsession at some stage so I shall go against every urge in my body to tell you all about here and now. But it was through this binge watching marathon that I first briefly set eyes on Tig Notaro. She had a cameo appearance in a scene with Maria Bamford and Sarah Silverman and that was the height of my knowledge.

My friend told me about Tig’s stand up special, “Boyish Girl Interrupted” and she was adamant that I needed to watch it. I love a good stand-up special so there was no argument. BRING. ON. THE. LOLS.

We started watching and it was clear to me within seconds that this was going to be no ordinary experience. I had never seen anyone perform comedy like Tig. She had this ability to make me hang on every single word she said. At no other time have I felt compelled to give a standing ovation to ANYONE while watching them on a computer screen in my living room. I had no idea who she was or where she had come from but I was absolutely blown away.

It was after this that I decided to do some invesTIGations (see what I did there? I know, wordplay). There is a documentary available on Netflix UK called “Tig” and I cannot stress enough how important it is that you watch this – I mean it – go now, click the link and add it to your list. I don’t think I have ever watched anything like it. I can’t think of anyone else with the ability to reach every part of my emotional spectrum in a matter of 91 minutes. I dare you to not cry the most heartfelt of tears and laugh the most obnoxious of laughs while you watch. Ps if you manage to get through it and not have an emotional awakening then I think we need to reconsider this relationship. It’s not me, it’s you.

I don’t want to give too much away. If you don’t already know Tig’s story so far, it is definitely one that you need to hear in her own voice. I won’t do it justice so I’m not even going to attempt to summarise. Not only that, to summarise it would be a travesty. We have all heard that ‘comedy is born from tragedy,’ but this is SO. MUCH. MORE.

So, I think it’s clear I kind of love Tig. When I saw that she was creating and starring in her own show on Amazon Video I almost exploded. That was not even an exaggeration, on release day I was diagnosed with a stubborn case of giardiasis – ergo I actually almost exploded.

One Mississippi is described as a ‘semi-autobiographical dark comedy.’ I would describe it as the main reason I’m glad I forgot to cancel my Amazon Prime subscription after the free trial, the only thing that made me genuinely laugh throughout the duration of my parasitic infestation and THE best original series I have watched in FOREVER.

I am about to read Tig’s book, it’s called, I’m Just A Person. On the back is a quote from Ira Glass which reads,

“Tig is now in the heads of hundreds of thousands of people who don’t see her as a comic – she’s now their favourite person.”

I can without doubt say that, for me, this is true.

 

My stage debut…

 

pexels-photo-134694-large

In order to get with the spirit of the Belfast International Arts Festival, I thought I would share my first ever experience of being on stage. I have an undying love for the Crescent Arts Centre. I spent many a Saturday there all through my teens before it got refurbished into the beautiful performance space it is now. Not gonna lie, I thought it was beautiful back then too. Rolling up on a Saturday at 10am, clearing the beer bottles off the floor from the night before’s gig before stretching a la Fame and Flashdance for the Musical Theatre class. Those were the glory days. My gang and I. I was the COOLEST PERSON EVER. We sang songs, we danced dances and we LIVED.

We were asked to perform at an event in Belfast at the bandstand at Cornmarket. Our performance piece of choice was The Jellicle Ball from CATS. Click the link if you have no idea what I am talking about. Still feeling pretty cool at this stage. I mean someone had asked us to perform so we must be pretty amazeballs, right? Plus, I still remembered the one line I had from our P7 play so I knew I was destined to be a STAAAAARRRR.

The day of the performance arrived and my ever supportive Mum and Dad had the video camera all charged up. They had withstood the tantrum of all tantrums that morning when I attached the tail to my bodysuit and suddenly realised that I looked NOTHING like Bonnie Langford or Elaine Paige from actual CATS. What a let down….

Our dressing room – yes, we had a dressing room, was in an old shop unit just down from Cornmarket. When I arrived it seemed that everyone in the group had had the same realisation as me that morning. There we were, tear stained faces, about to go out in public, in the centre of Belfast, in front of our friends and family, to dance dressed as….. cats?  The time arrived and as I was the oldest I pulled myself together and rallied the troops – we walked up Castle Lane en masse. I say en masse, there were 5 of us, 2 had dropped out that morning probably due to crippling fear. We got to the bandstand and watched the act before us finish. He was this amazing mime artist and for a minute I forgot what I was about to do (and what I  was wearing) but all too soon he turned to us and motioned for us to take our places.

It was then that I suddenly realised there were only FOUR OF US. Someone’s tail had fallen off somewhere between the dressing room and the bandstand so they could not possibly perform. When Samson had his hair cut off he crumbled, so did CAT no 5.

So there we were, in our crouched positions, the music started and I honestly remember nothing else. Zero. The next thing I remember we were walking back to the “dressing room.” We shunned CAT no 5 (who had found his tail apparently all too late to join us) and I put some real clothes on, threw my tail in the nearest bin and went to meet my parents for a Burger King to drown my sorrows.

On reviewing the video captured by my parents it is safe to say that our brains most definitely have the ability to blank out the things that will cause us distress. My brain must have been trying to be exceptionally kind but as in so many situations, modern technology foiled us again. If I ever find the video I will share it but I beg of you to use your imaginations – four obviously terrified children, dressed in all in one bodysuits (which were semi see through), literally running into and around each other for 4 minutes straight with tails made from tights stuffed with cotton wool to the music of The Jellicle Ball. That was my big stage debut and looking back, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I still think of it everytime I walk past Cornmarket which, if you are aware of my love for Lush, you will know is EVERY TIME I AM IN TOWN. It makes me laugh so much. So if you ever see a 35 year old woman actually cry lolling while passing the Spirit of Belfast statue it is probably me. Please say hello – unless of course it isn’t me, you really shouldn’t talk to strangers, especially not ones laughing for no apparent reason. Safety first.

In case like me, you would like to watch some amazing artists rather than be on stage, make sure to download the brochure of events for the Belfast International Arts Festival running from now until 1st November. I can’t promise anything like what I described above but I am sure you will find something to tickle your fancy.

 

I don’t really know how to say this…

1927573_40100231122_8997_n

This has always been something that I struggle to admit. When I say it out loud, people look at me as if I have two heads. Don’t judge me, okay? Maybe it is just because being from Northern Ireland we’re not “supposed” to feel this way. Okay here goes…

I LOVE AUTUMN AND WINTER MORE THAN SUMMER. There, I said it, it feels so good to get that off my chest. I love everything that this time of year has to offer. I totally get why people love the sun, especially in Norn Iron as it is such a rarity that we get it for any substantial length of time so I really do understand why there is an air of disbelief when I don’t share the excitement.

But this time of year is just the best in my opinion. The turning of the leaves, putting the heating on, the dark nights creeping in, being able to wear jumpers and shoes that actually cover your toes. It is the stuff that cuddly, cosy dreams are made of and that is just for starters.

Things have been pretty intense over the past few weeks so I decided to treat myself to a bit of retail therapy. Off I went into Belfast and my first port of call (as always) was Lush in Castle Lane. Sidebar – a few nights before, I was trying to be all zen and mindful amidst the chaos and I had downloaded a random app for relaxation / meditation. During my horrendous attempt at being calm (I am not good at chilling) the voice on my phone asked me to “imagine yourself in the place you feel happiest.” No lie, the first place that popped into my head was Lush. Do with this information what you will. Anyhow, I went into Lush and I bought every single item (some in multiples) of their Halloween line. The staff were as lovely as ever, really though, have you EVER been in a shop where the staff are more pleasant? I highly doubt it. I was in there for about 45 minutes and I emerged absolutely laden from my spree and feeling like a new woman. I was also covered in glitter from one of the bubble bars that I had been pawing. I only noticed that I had it smeared across my face when I got into the car but that’s beside the point. In order to continue this positive streak I took myself round to Starbucks where I got my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year. OMG I was absolutely overcome with joy. On reflection it could have been the sugar rush but whatever it was I felt so much better. It was seasonal overload and it was beautiful.

My most favourite thing about this time of year is Halloween itself. My first real experience of how fun it can be was when I went to University at Magee and stayed up there for their celebrations. If you have never been in ‘Derry at Halloween I am telling you, you must make this happen. There was not one person in ordinary clothes, everyone had a costume. The girls from my halls and I after much debate, decided to go as the female version of the Village People. This was a resounding success, or rather it would have been had one of them not gone rogue and decided to be a firefighter at the last minute. There’s always one…

The ultimate for me was when my friends and I went as a gang of zombies. One of the guys was a master at making costumes, he did drag at the weekends and his levels of creativity never ceased to amaze me so when he offered to make my costume I almost ripped his arm off. Not literally but you know what I mean. I remember thinking I needed a bag and being completely perplexed about what would go with the spirit of the costume. I had just moved back home at the time so when my Mum walked into the garage and saw me sawing through the neck of a Girls World styling head she was concerned to say the least, but when she saw that I was using it as a bag I think she was quietly (very quietly) impressed.

There is a lot to be said for this time of year and as the years go by I am finding more and more to love about it. The memories I have from previous years are definitely at the top of my list and I look forward to creating even more in future. I think it is safe to say I will never be a sun worshipper, but who knows. Maybe one day I’ll be blogging from my sun-bed in Benidorm, I highly doubt it though – unless they have Pumpkin Spice Lattes, then you could maybe twist my arm…