So I decided to keep a record of things I did this year that really made me happy, or helped me grow/be grateful. Some were planned as special things for our 40th year and were things I’ve always wanted to do/try, some came our way via friends, some – I have no idea but they’re lovely to remember. List and photos below. Of course, 40 for 40 would have been funnier, but this list is more than enough! List and photos below.
I challenged myself in 2018 to only read books by women*. It’s been bloody fantastic. Here they are for your perusal (couple more to finish off before the end of the year and will add). Click on an image for a one sentence review. I recommend giving the challenge a go!
A really lovely gentle book that encourages me to work out how I might me make a real difference without getting grumpy
Inspiring (and I don’t use that lightly).
Lamb is world class and this is sheds light on an ongoing situation that matters
St Mary’s Short story
Better than the film, natch
Changed my perspective. One to go to again and again
Malala – her story.
Every women should read this, and gift it to another woman
St Mary’s short story
Intriguing story, but it’s been done better
If you read one from this selection, make it this one. Couldn’t be more relevant as women’s rights start to slide backwards.
St Mary’s short
Some very important bits, some bits I couldn’t get behind at all
Laugh out loud funny – so much I could relate to.
St Mary’s chronicle
Utterly beautiful. First of a trilogy.
A good one for the car and being introduced to women I should have heard of before now.
A very simple, sad tale. Made me want to learn more about the occupation
Everyone should read this too
First half great, second half meh
Lots of chew over but not sre very accessible for women who don’t have the ability to just give up work in part or altogether
One of my top books this year, haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Not just about that storm
St Mary’s short
Really glad I listened to Michelle read this on audio
The saddest book I’ve ever loved
Upsetting becaus eit s based on real life events and Blume remains as good as ever on creating a unvierse I totally enter
Only one of a handful of books to make me cry
Funny St Mary’s
Spectacular, the book the word exquisite was made for
Disappointingly meh. Simply doesn’t engage with the issues in any helpful way
LOVE Paula Gooder – this was really helpful this Lent
One of my top 5 – classic I should have read before now
Very sweet and funny
Anyone who was a bookworm kid should read this. Nosaligic.
Probably my favourite of the triology.
St Mary’s short
Did I mention I love Paula Gooder. Brilliant – a novel about Phoebe
A real surprise – and I probably shouldn’t have read this as a catastrophist!
Surprising – a sweet novel with very sad bits
Carolyn – fresh and insightful
A good thriller – love Kate’s writing
St Mary’s chronicle
Timely – post apocalyptic
St Mary’s short
Another moving book – sad but hopeful
An important book about the power of protest
Really enjoyed this – Kate writes simply about something she knows a lot about and I have made changes in my life as a result
Co-written by Christina Lamb, a must read to understand how people who have every-day illness become refugees too
Best of this series so far
My first Christie would you believe it
A rich story – I cared for all the characters
Judy is ace – this is a great book for women thinking about leadership
A warm, sad novel
This was hard work. Billed as comedy – I found it sad
More LOLs and cheers. Caitlin is superb.
I haven’t read much poetry, but I engaged with this.
Laugh out loud funny and Celeste is fab
Historical fiction, not normally my thing but this was interesting
It really is completely differet
Loved this – Ive really developed a thing for nature books this year
Honest and captivating. For anyone who ever doubts
*I did read the latest in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series to avoid spoilers 🙂
I won’t be doing #smearforsmear and not because I don’t think getting a smear is vitally important or that it isn’t important to increase the number of women who do but because once again I’m struggling with the damage that can be done by un-nuanced viral messaging.
If you don’t know, it is a campaign aimed at encouraging women to share photo and video selfies of themselves with their lipstick smeared. The idea is to draw attention to the fact that the number of women who aren’t getting regular tests is falling.
A smear isn’t just 5 minutes and easy for many women. As a sufferer of vaginismus it far from easy and pain free. I bled for 3 days after my last smear and had to return for a second attempt which I yelled and sobbed through. It wasn’t the GP’s fault but it is what it is – next time I may have to be drugged to get through it – fun eh! 2 in 1000 women suffer from vaginismus , probably more, but, ironically, they don’t report because of shame.
Any woman who has been assaulted or raped, doesn’t find it easy. I don’t think I need to elaborate
If a woman is embarrassed about going for a smear it is because the patriarchy teaches her to be ashamed of her body which, for X reason today, doesn’t conform to whatever is currently correct and attractive to men.
If a woman is embarrassed about being hairy in particular, it is recognised to be related to the prevalence of hair-free women in porn. Which is in no small way related to the attraction of some men to pre-pubescent. Shave, or don’t shave – but it is important to recognise why shaving is a thing.
The survey on which #smearforsmear is based (although I can’t get a copy of the original questions asked) also suggests not being able to, or wanting to, take time off of work is a significant barrier to accessing a smear. Are women in a position that they can’t look after their health without fearing reprisal or risking their employment? Why isn’t this the news?
The survey also suggests that 26% of women can’t get an appointment even if they want to. Surely a result of the defunding of the NHS. And that bit isn’t making the news either…
Also, mustn’t forget PSH-education is still dismissed as unnecessary and too embarrassing to teach (the irony), so of course women don’t understand their own bodies, the risks they face and how to stay healthy.
And, yeurgh, women and lipstick…. It is a bit like #nomakeupselfie isn’t it? Let’s accept a stereotype while trying to fight something that is caused in no small part by stereotypes.
So yes, sharing a selfie might make a point to some women about how important detection is. But sadly can also trivialise the real reasons women don’t/can’t get smears by normalising the ‘they’re embarrassed because they’re vain’ or ‘lazy’ or ‘uneducated’.
As is somewhat obligatory as people reach milestone birthdays, I started the whole “what 40 things should I do to celebrate my 40th”. Not intending to do lots of things in the next 7 weeks, but over the next year, and not doing things for the sake of hitting 40 things but just because it would be good to have a go – no feeling guilty for not doing it, no arbitrary meaningless targets, but a bit of fun.
I asked friends on and offline for ideas and what struck me was how bloody blessed my life has been so far. So before I go any further with picking 40 things to do in my ’40th year’ I wanted to recognise and celebrate 40 things already done…
I want to look back before looking forward…so in no particular order and definitely not exhaustive…
Graduated with honours (Geology)
Travelled to many, many places
Become a long distance walker including completing the 50km of the Thames Path in less than 12 hours, Hadrian’s Wall Path and the Great Glen Way.
Lived by the sea
Learned to ski
Visited 30+ UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land – and learned about the conflict there that has changed me forever.
Had my photographs published (and not just for free in the local paper but in stuff people pay for)
Talked at Greenbelt (been on the bill)
Been a best man, and a bridesmaid and a God Mum (4 times over although I’m a bit rubbish at it!)
Studied post grad (theology)
Fell in love and got married
Photographed a wedding (never again – too stressful)
Took Mum to Buckingham Palace for a tea party
Helped set up a charity
Visited refugee camps and met the people who live there
Quit a job (I loved but was no good for me)
Slept in a log cabin on the side of the Athabasca river in Canada
Seen the Northern Lights
Met people from two of my fave bands and thanked them for their impact on my life (without totally embarrassing myself)
Washed my hair in a waterfall
Been interviewed on Radio 4 (and of course the fabulous Wycombe Sound)
Cycled the Bristol to Bath cycle path
Sat on the KT Boundary (as in the rock layer where the meteorite hit that ‘killed the dinosaurs’)
Lived on my own
Sung a solo in front of 300+ people
Seen whales in the wild
Been to the Olympics
Flown in a 4 seater jet plane
Planted and hugged lots of trees
Slept outside, right under the stars and not in a tent
Learned that ‘no’ is not a bad word
Stood in front of a Turner for an hour and come away changed
Had afternoon tea at the Ritz, London
Completed an OU course in photography
Asked for help for my mental health when I needed it
Learned, and used, first aid
Seen a comet, and a total solar eclipse
Made great friends I’ve known since I was a child, and some I haven’t