Posted on 2 Comments

My Tribes, My Squads, My Crews

I realise this is late as International Women’s Day was earlier this week, but it’s been floating around my head and, really, we should celebrate women, international and otherwise, all year long, shouldn’t we?

So I’ve been thinking about the women in my life. My friends, my family, my tribes and squads and crews. And there are several distinct groups, some of which overlap, some of which don’t, and I’ve been reflecting on how they help me and how I help them.

My family is full of kick ass women. My mom, who was one of the first computer programmers in the 60s. I wrote about how kickass she was here, on Jump!Mag. Who was divorced and single mom long before most people. My dad was around, but mom did the day to day school/doctors/ill child/sort childcare/take to birthday parties part of my childhood.

My sisters and sisters in law and cousins who are business women, world travelling ecology experts, clergy, stay at home moms and teachers. Who sort their children and their partners and their homes and their jobs still find time to join marches, wear pussyhats and raise my equally kick ass nieces and second cousins. The boys are kick ass too, but I’m talking about women here!

My local friends, who are the ones who I call when I need emergency Adam care, a ride to Ikea or a cup of coffee and a belly laugh. Who are also kick ass women coping with their children, their partners, their jobs, and the total insanity that can be Belfast.

My hussies, whom I’ve written about before. This amazing group of women who found themselves othered on a popular message board for daring to speak against the message board’s main ethos. Who banded together in a chat room and carried that bond forward to Facebook and elsewhere. I’ve only ever met one of them in person, but they are the ones I look to when I need some mojo. Hussy mojo is unstoppable and incredible and has done everything from help people land their dream jobs to have babies. It may be virtual, but sometimes knowing that a group of people are out there, thinking about you, helps you find that inner je ne sais quoi you need to get things done.

And what I think of as my Core Four (three plus me). Four women who come from different backgrounds and countries and life experiences who have managed to find each other through the internet and are my closest friends. I have never met any of them in person and we now live in four different countries (England, Northern Ireland, Germany and Cyprus) but they are the ones I run to first with my most joyous news and most disastrous downfalls. And we never tear each other down and we always lift each other up and they are the ones I wish were nearby. We have a dream of retiring to a beach in adjoining cabins, but first, we need to figure out which country!

Oh, there are others too. Some on Facebook. Some on other message boards. Groups and groups of amazing women. An MP, a life coach, a writer or two. Some artists and musicians and crafties. And we talk. And we laugh. And we cry.

And we are, slowly, being heard. Being loud. We get knocked down, but we get up again. We shout for justice. For equality. For everything we deserve as members of the human race.

We may, in stature, be small. But we are mighty.

And we may be told to stop. Sit down and shut up.

And yet…

We persist.

Posted on Leave a comment

Health At Every Size (HAES), Size Acceptance (SA) and Me

About a year ago I stumbled upon the idea of Health At Every Size (HAES). And I loved what it said.

It says that no matter what size I am, I can still be healthy. It says I have the right to move my fat body in any way I choose without censor or ridicule.

And it says that fat does not immediately mean out of shape and that thin does not immediately mean healthy.

In fact, I remember a man in my first ‘Oh fuck you have Type II diabetes, now what?’* class who was thin as a rail. And still had Type II.

You know why? Because a Type II diabetic is one whose body does not use insulin properly. Yes, that can mean because they are too big for their insulin supply, or could just mean their body produces too little. But they produce some.**

Anyway, HAES gave me the courage to say ‘fuck it to dieting.’ I have never really been a “dieter” anyway, but I certainly tried Weight Watchers or other weigh what you eat plans. And have never kept the weight off for more than a year.

Of course, I didn’t just see HAES and give up watching what I eat. I also read the actual studies about the harm yo-yo dieting does to the human body and also how none of the weight loss “experts” or programmes, such as Weight Watchers, will even publish studies past about 5 years of success.

One of the blogs I follow, Dances With Fat, says this about weight loss past five years:

 “The vast majority of people who attempt long term weight loss gain their weight back, and a majority of those gain back more than they lost.  When most people trying an intervention have the exact opposite effect, ethically we have to stop recommending it, at least until we figure out why and have research that shows a higher degree of success.”

HAES has actually even permeated Type II Diabetes guidelines. When I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, I was told my HBA1C*** had to be under 7 in order for me to be in control. Just last year that number went up. To 7.5. And just two weeks ago, at my 6 monthly appointment, I was told it needed to be about 7.6**** or under.

diabetes.co.uk 50 Shades of Diabetes chart
diabetes.co.uk 50 Shades of Diabetes chart

This was because a lot of studies showed there was a nominal difference in health and secondary pathic issues between 7.5 and 7 but a huge difference in the quality of life for diabetics. In other words, people were working so hard to achieve 7 or lower, they were miserable.

And my last A1C (not counting two weeks ago, that one isn’t back yet)? 7.4.

And then there’s SA. SA is exactly what it says it is. Accepting that people are fat or thin just as they are tall or short, brunet or blonde. My weight is none of your business and your weight is none of mine. You can’t tell how healthy someone is by their size. And it’s really none of your business how healthy I am or am not.

So what does this mean practically for me? It means I still eat fairly well most of the time (I’m a huge lover of vegetables and always have been) and when I don’t? I don’t worry about it.

But I am also exercising more. Because my goal isn’t weight loss, but to just enjoy the exercise, I am more willing to do it and I do it more often. There is no goal, actually, beyond trying to move (I usually walk) about 4 days a week, if not more.

So give it a try. Try eating what you want, when you want, as much as you want and accepting that some people are just fatter than other people. I mean, I will never be 6′ tall. And now I accept that I will never be 140 pounds either.

*Probably not the actual name of the class.

** For the record, a Type I or Juvenile diabetic produce no insulin at all. That’s the difference between the two. Also, everything I say here having to do with diabetes is about me and Type II.

***HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration, usually over 8-12 weeks.

****The United Kingdom no longer uses DCCT numbers for A1C but IFCC numbers instead, which are two digits and start at 35. But just as kilometres have no meaning to me, IFCC numbers mean nothing. So I always convert to DCCT, which I understand!

Posted on Leave a comment

So…What’s The Craic?

First of all, the sharp-eyed among you will realise that the URL of the site has changed. My former web host, aka my brother, decided to shut down his server and so we’ve migrated to a new host (NameCheap, if anyone cares) and given me a new URL. Which is actually my same URL that I’ve used for the company website since I started it seven years ago. Six years ago? Some amount of years ago.

But don’t worry about changing your bookmarks or that you’ll miss something because Leyser.org/TeeBlog will get you directly to designedtoatee.co.uk/TeeBlog. That’s the front page of the entire site now. It’s a nice picture of me, yeah?

Of course, if you don’t care about looking at my working or buying things from one of my shops (And why not? Huh?) you can add a new bookmark. To get directly here, to the blog, you need to use http://www.designedtoatee.co.uk/TeeBlog/Blog.

Or you can come through the front door. That’s okay. 😀

Let’s see, what else…

We’ve purchased and moved into our new house. OUR new house. As in, we own it. Weeeeelll, us and the bank, at least. But we can do whatever we want to it. And we are. And we will. And it is awesome in be here. I’ll be posting some before and after pictures at some point. Major changes coming, actually, starting with a complete bathroom refit.

My mental health is good. My diabetes seems to be under control. My fibro/early degenerative disease/arthritis kicks my ass and steals my spoons on a regular basis.

But I’m knitting. And crocheting. And doing tapestry. And sewing. And being a mum and a wife. And I have just bought a drop spindle and some wool and a book and I am going to learn how to spin.

I wonder if Simon will notice if I put a new shed up in the garden to hold a spinning wheel and a shuttle loom…

Or maybe convert the attic? Image source: http://www.jofirthlacemaking.co.uk/textiles_of_ireland.html

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Good Bye 2016!

Well, that was a year, yeah? Good, bad, and ugly, all together.

Personally, it was a good year. I met my two main goals (more on that in a minute), Adam is thriving and only 10 inches shorter than me (eep!), Simon is working hard and enjoying it and I just keep keeping on.

My two goals were buying a house and earning my Driver’s License. Check and check.

The license took longer than expected, but I did it! In my case 6th (I think it was 6th) time was the charm. And passed with flying colours at that point. I had something like 4 minor faults. So yeah. I know how to drive!

The house also took longer than expected that but that was because all solicitors are evil. Weeeel, all solicitors working for other people are evil. Our solicitor was great. The vendor’s solicitor was a dick and a half. But we got there, in the end, moving in on 24th October. And two months later I still get a fission of ‘Oh yeah! This is *our* house!’ at the most random moments.

The other really good thing that happened was the letter from my former California employer informing me that I had a pension I could cash out. A pension I barely remember having. A pension that was now worth a fuckton of money. So I cashed it out. And the cheque cleared a few days before Christmas. And we now have the money to redo our bathroom (which is livable but needs work to be perfect), buy some new appliances for the kitchen and do some other bits and bobs we thought we’d have to wait to do.

And I think most people agree about the bad. A never ending list of celebrities left us this year. Some were just old, 80+. Others were taken way before their time. And the younger ones hit hard. Really hard in some cases.

The personally hard ones were George Michael and Carrie Fisher. No, I didn’t know them. But I admired them. And both of them were with me through my childhood and/or teenage years.  And their deaths were so unexpected. And the last 2 seconds of Rogue One didn’t help me deal with Carrie Fisher’s death. At all.

And of course, the ugly. Brexit. President-Elect DT (I will never use his name. He deserves to be nameless. He gets no respect.).

So 2017 has a lot of stuff coming up. I imagine it will also be a hard year. Maybe not quite so many major celebrities dying. But a total world change with the UK pulling out of the EU, or at least starting to, and President-Elect DT living up to his campaign promises, even though he’s already gone back on several.

A line from the voice-over from Torchwood keeps going through my mind. “The 21st Century is when it all changes.” And maybe we’re already a decade and a half into it, but it is still true. I just wish that what voiceover meant (aliens) was what we were actually dealing with.

Instead, there are shades of The Nazi Party and WWII. Borders slamming shut to the those who need help. The definite ‘smell’ of WWIII in the air, if not actually in progress.

So what are my goals for 2017?

  • Write more
  • Knit more
  • Exercise more
  • Get our house to the state we want it to be
  • Crochet more
  • Sell more
  • Survive

So nothing exactly quantifiable. Or with a completion date.

But definitely achievable.

Posted on 9 Comments

I Am Angry

I am not blaming the people who are tired of same old same old and voted directly for Trump. I get it. I do. I don’t agree. But I can understand where you’re coming from.

I am blaming all of the people who said ‘HRC is worse than DT’ and split the vote.

You have allowed a racist, bigoted, misogynistic, asshole of the highest order become the President of the United States. You handed him the election.

::slow clap::

Well done. Assholes.

And fuck you all to hell.

(Feature image via Women Against UKIP )

Posted on 4 Comments

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

So, this happened today:

pass cert

I received my first one of these 30 years ago, at age 17, in the United States. The Connecticut written was a bitch and a half and I was one wrong answer from failing. But I made it through to the driving portion of the test.

And the driving section? All right turns. No manoeuvres. I drove around the fucking block. No kidding. All those hours of parallel parking practice. Gone to waste.

So in late 2014 I spoke to my mom, knowing we were going to be in California summer ’15, and asked if she and step-dad would pay for me to take driving lessons here in Belfast and take the test and so on. And she agreed, eager to have me independently mobile while we were there.

So I applied for my Provisional License and was granted that. And called Abba Driving school as I had seen them around my area quite a lot and how cool is their name? The nice lady took my name, my payment info and told me someone would contact me soon.

It was sometime in late November or December of that year and I didn’t expect to hear until after the holidays. Instead just a few hours later I had my first contact from John, aka Mr Patient. And so we began.

From the beginning John agreed I knew how to drive. I just needed to practice driving on the left and roundabouts. Oh My Lord roundabouts. We’ll get back to those…

In any case, I practised. And studied for my theory. And practised some more.

In March John said I was certainly getting close to being able to take my practical and should book my theory. So I did. And studied some more. And passed that with flying colours. Phew. First hurdle passed!

But California was drawing nearer and times to take the test were getting harder to get (thanks to bad staffing levels, that was fixed later by the DVA), so John told me to book my practical. I was ready. There was no reason I wouldn’t pass.

Famous last words.

My first go, I was apparently too close to the left. John was in the car for that one and he thought the guy was a hard ass. Based on some comments he made, I think he flunked me due to being American.

So I didn’t have my license for California. There was no time to practice more and book another test before we went.

So I booked my second test. And totally blew a roundabout. Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!

So I booked my third test. And totally blew a roundabout.  Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!

Thanks. Had to get that out one more time. 😀

So I booked my fourth test. And nearly hit a car that was parked too far out into the road after I had absolutely passed the rest. It was so bad the examiner actually grabbed the wheel and put his brakes on. That’s bad.

So I took a deep breath and booked another.

And today, 4th April 2016, after 16 months of lessons and 5 tries, I passed. I aced it, actually. Only 5 minor faults (you’re allowed 16) and smooth sailing all the way!

And I never have to do that again. Thank fuck.

But I didn’t do it alone:

First and foremost, thanks to Shelly and Burt Kagen, my mom and step-dad for their financial support. We couldn’t afford one set of lessons and one test, let alone nearly a year and half of the same. And for their confidence that I would get it. I did it!!!

OCardf course, thanks to my husband and son, who had so much confidence in me that they bought and signed this over a year ago.

There was a box of chocolates as well, but those were eaten for comfort after the first fail. 😀

Without their unwavering support, always, I would have given up ages ago. I came home crying from failing more than once, certain I’d never get it.

Every time my tears were dried and hugs were given and encouragement to try try again.

 

And finally, there’s John McGibbon, Mr Patient himself. (He even used to have a Mr Patient, with a Mr Man character picture, magnet on his car, but they made him take it down for copyright reasons.) John’s cool demeanour, unwavering confidence in me and excellent instruction are 100% what got me here today. He took this cocky American driver and turned her into an even better driver than she already was. And I was pretty damn good. 😀

So thanks John. Like I said today, if you’re still teaching in about 10 years? You can teach my Adam how to drive!

Posted on 3 Comments

So, He’s Like Me In *Some* Ways…

Adam and I went to the dentist this week. We know how to celebrate half term, let me tell you!

And it turns out both Adam and I have cavities. So yay?

The other thing that was noted was that his 6-year molars have very deep crevices on the inside face as well as deep craters on top. And when they fill his cavity in a few weeks Chris, our dentist, is going to see what he can do about those as well.

Now, anyone who has seen my son and my husband will tell you, without a doubt, that he is Simon’s son. From the colour of his hair to the shape of his face he is Simon’s Mini-Me. Adding glasses on his face just made it more obvious! I often joke that if I hadn’t been there when he came out, I’d doubt he’s mine.

But this is something we have in common. I have a very strong memory, recalled again when the crevices were mentioned, of my childhood dentist telling my mom the same thing about me. I was older than Adam, probably 9 or 10, when it was mentioned and dealt with.

And I have another very clear memory of the sigh my mom gave and the look she gave me when she was told this. I remember asking later ‘Did I do something to make those craters?’ as I had interpreted the look as ‘great, she’s done it again’. My mom said, ‘no, of course not.’

And now, 40ish years on I realized what that sigh and that look meant. It wasn’t ‘Great Robyn’s causing more trouble’ it was ‘Great, more money spent/insurance papers to process/similar adult thing that I couldn’t understand then’.

Not what our dentist is like
By Uncredited WPA photographer 1936 New Orleans. Not what our dentist is like. Thank god! 😀

But I understand now. Because I didn’t sigh or send my son a look, but I did start planning, in my head, the social story I was going to create about getting a tooth drilled and filled. And wondering if I should ring school and let them know and see if they had one available. Adult thoughts. Mother thoughts. I’m not much of a sigher but I might have sighed at this.

 

My concerns now are different than my mother’s concerns then, since I have the additional challenge of autism in these situations, but a mother’s concerns are all based on the same thing.

Doing everything we can to help our children.

Usually after a moment of ‘oh god, I’m so over this.’

 

Posted on 6 Comments

Anxiety and Adulting

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you just might be aware that Simon and I are looking for a house to buy. We have a deposit saved through various means and are now just waiting for the best house for us to show up.

Hey! It's only £1.4m above our budget!!!
Hey! It’s only £1.4m above our budget!!! credit: http://www.propertynews.com/

Part of this, of course, was also talking to the bank about a mortgage. Which is terrifying in general and even more terrifying for someone with anxiety.

You see, a large part of my anxiety hinges on the fact that I almost never feel like a grown up. I feel like I’m about 20 most of the time and who on earth is going to give a 20-year-old a mortgage? Certainly no one would have given 20-year-old me a mortgage.

But, you know, I’m not 20. So I wasn’t laughed out of the bank or off the phone. And the estate agent up the road also took me seriously when I came in to look at brochures for houses.

But it was exhausting, all that adulting. And, of course, it’s not done yet. Still more adulting and then the anxiety of offer acceptance and blah blah de blah that surrounds buying a house.

So we are taking it slow and not overtaxing my poor brain and body.

But at the same time a house! That we own! That I can decorate! And redo things in!!!

Fuck. There’s all that adulting again…

Posted on 14 Comments

No Explanation No Defence

The other day I posted this on my Facebook:

Now here’s Tee, with your weekly Lunch Making Report: Tee?
Thank you, Tee.
On Monday and Tuesday there were no issues. On Wednesday, sandwiches were put into the wrong lunch bags and Daddy mourned his lack of cheese but enjoyed the white bread while Adam had a tear or two for brown bread, but ate the filling and an orange provided by Mrs L.
On Thursday, Adam had pasta so he was safe but Daddy’s sandwich was without mayonnaise. Mummy realised this around 930a and text Daddy to warn him. His reply was frown emoticon.
And now today, Friday, all lunches are within parameters and the family gave Mummy a big cheer!

Quite a lot of people liked it or smiled at it.

And then came the judges. Saying they could make their own lunches. And how in their house it was every man for himself.

And I started to get defensive. There are reasons, good ones, as to whyI make Simon and Adam’s lunches every day. Also, I shared this to poke fun at myself and lament my badly functioning brain, affected by a combination of fibro and perimenopause.

The original maker seems be lost, but I got it here: http://questinggirl.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/menopause-mothers-10-ways-to-feed-your.html
The original maker seems to be lost, but I got it here: http://questinggirl.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/menopause-mothers-10-ways-to-feed-your.html

And I started to defend myself.

And stopped.

Because why should I? The reasons Simon and I have for the way we run our family are just that; our reasons. I don’t worry about what happens in your house, so why are you so concerned about mine?

Yes. I shared the above. As I said, as a way to blow off frustration and to write it what I thought was a funny way. Not because I was looking for advice or opinion. It was just one of the many ways my poor brain is these days.

So I’m going to still post things like this.

So feel free to judge me, offer advice or do whatever you need to do to get through the day.

But I’m going to stop explaining and/or defending myself, my choices and my family.