Category Archives: blogging

I Will Use My Voice

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My sexuality is not something I decided on. It’s not a lifestyle I chose. I was born this way. My parents embraced my sexuality. They never questioned my choice of gender I associated myself with or thought that the gender I chose to date was a phase I was going through. They let me be me. In fact no one ever blinked an eye when I held hands in public, kissed the person I loved, dressed like a woman, flaunted female assets or when I had a crush and when I wanted to marry someone. 

No one blinked an eye because I am a straight woman. I have the ‘luxury’ of being accepted by society for who I am, the body I am in and the gender I chose to be in love with. Sadly, a huge percentage of the world’s population doesn’t have this luxury. The LGBTQ community fights every day for acceptance, to be understood and viewed as ‘normal’. The fight for equality. They fight for rights. They fight to have their love officially recognized. They suffer persecution. Judgement, radical views, hatred and violence. 

I am lucky and fortunate to be raised by two humans who taught me that everyone was equal. No one was better than me. No one was worse than me. That you love with your full heart. You treat people with kindness. You understand differences in others as qualities not negatives. You learn from others, not destroy them. 

I cannot fathom the hatred that oozes from people – who speak with venom and act with ignorant rage. I cannot comprehend how people can draw a line at who is worthy of life and who isn’t based on how and who they love….. LOVE. People are being denied their rights, brutally and violently attacked – verbally and physically for love and at its very worst – killed, murdered, their life taken from them for who they love. How is this right? How can anyone make the decision for someone else? How can one person decide for a total stranger that they don’t get to live their life because they lust and love in a way that isn’t what they feel is right? How are we in a world that hates so passionately that they witness murder and are not just satisfied in the death but rejoice in it. 

I am not gay. I cannot fully understand how it feels. I cannot begin to pretend I know what it’s like to be judged, questioned, degraded, victimized, hated or murdered for my sexuality. What I can do is pledge to be humane. I will support. I will fly the flag. I will speak out against injustice. I will love. I will stand hand in hand with the LGBTQ community. I will be a voice for change. I will be all that I can be for those that have had their voice silenced. 

Love is love is love is love. And I choose love. 

When The Doctor Calls 

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It’s Friday afternoon and I’m at a work holiday party, chowing down on some low iodine approved salad and guacamole (my pre radiation diet is in full effect) and my phone rings. It’s my endocrinologist’s office:

Office: “Lucy the doctor has received your latest blood results and he needs to see you much sooner than scheduled”

Me: “Oh. How much sooner. I have radiation therapy next week. Should it be before then?”

………..
Generally I’m a pretty calm person. My husband always goes worst case. I go best case. We meet in the middle as a perfectly balanced pair. I’m calm. Well. I was calm…..

…………

Office: “I’m not telling you to drop everything but he needs to see you as soon as possible”

The conversation went on where I’m identifying if this is a literal life and death situation of if I have a day or two to find a time open in my calendar, normal work life. Shift some meetings. Skip a lunch, work in another hospital appointment for this thing called cancer. Turns out I need to go immediately. 

My heart is pounding and I’m trying to stay calm. There are plenty of perfectly reasonable non scary reasons he could need to see me right away…..right? I call Joel.

Engaging my most hopefully, calm voice and ask him if he can drop everything and meet me at the doctor for some urgent non discript news.  

Next I call my Mum. Same calm voice. Same conversation.

“Yes. I’m fine. I’m sure it’s nothing. Yes. Just spoken to Joel. He’s coming. OK. See you soon. Love you” 

As I gather my things and on my way out, two friends see me in the hallway, we had plans to go out that night to celebrate promotions and good times. They hug me and one says “no matter what, tonight we drink champagne to celebrate everything is fine or we drink champagne to get you through this. Your army is assembled and ready to battle”. – My friends are amazing. They get me. They know what I need and they just hold me up. I’m sure they noticed me holding back tears because my mind was racing all the while I’m saying “I’m fine”. My standard response these last few months. 

………..

There are those days when an hour flies by. There are days when an hour feels like an eternity. This day an hour felt like an eternity. 

My Dad has told me recently how I just handle things. I’m calm. I’m logical. I take everything in my stride. Even with everything going on these last few months. I remain practical and focused. 

This day I was like a duck in water; calm above the surface, kicking like hell to stay afloat under the surface. I’m not afraid to admit it. 

My logical side said it was nothing. My emotional side was racing. Blood work results. What could be urgent in blood work results? Remember my best case vs Joel’s worst case? This day, this Friday afternoon I let myself go worst case. As I drove to meet Joel. As we walked through the hallways of the hospital and as we held hands and waited and waited and waited to be called by the doctor in the waiting room…. I psyched myself up. I ran scenarios and plans through my head. To me. Worst case. The blood work. My worst case. The logical worst case was leukaemia. I sat in that waiting room. Holding Joel’s hand. Chatting about everything and nothing to keep our minds off things, my worst case was saying the words in my head so that when they came out of the mouth of the doctor I was already ready for it. I would breathe. Swallow. Nod and say “OK. What’s next?”. 

The door opens and the doctor calls my name. Joel squeezes my hand and in we go. Before we even sit down the doctor starts talking. My body tenses up. Here we go. I’m ready. 

“Lucy, my dear. I received your lab results today…”

OK….

“We need to lower some of your medication. It’s too high. I wanted to see you sooner rather than later”

I’m sure. If you were in that room with me last Friday you would have heard the exhale of carbon dioxide from my body. You would have seen the tension in my shoulders flood out of me. The weight lifted from me. From Joel, and as he immediately messaged my Mum and Best friend, miles away, I’m sure their relief was audible too. 

When I relayed this story to one of my friends here in DC on Friday evening, she said 

“I am so sorry that you experienced that moment, and you live with that fear. Sending big hugs, love and relief your way.” 

 That text, in that moment made me realise the huge change in my life, that I’ve been brushing off with “I’m fine” – the change that she recognised. That my mind went to the logical step, that my mind took me from my best case to worst case. That cancer. As mild as it has been. As uncomplicated as it has been, has changed me to look at a worst case as the possible option for my life. A fear I would not wish on anyone. That fear that so many people every day live with as a reality. 

My heart hurts for every adult who hears those words and every parent who hears those words about their child. 

Last Friday I was a lucky one. 

For everyone fighting that realisation. That truth. My every inch of being is in pain and sorrow for you. 

Life is too damn short. Life is unfair. But as I sat back and looked at my daughter this weekend, at my husband and parents and my friends. I, as ever recognise how wonderful life can also be – to have this love and light and strength around me to hold my hand, hug me tight and keep me going even when I’m hiding my emotions and fear – as we sat down to dinner Friday night. My army assembled – we said a toast to friends and good health and we laughed so hard we cried. It takes a village to get through life’s ups and downs and I have a pretty incredible village.  

Next up: Full body scan and radioactive iodine treatment (radiation) on Wednesday. 

My Independence Day – My Story of Domestic Abuse

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As I write this, we are hours away from Independence Day and it’s always a bitter sweet day for me. July 4, 2008 was the day I reclaimed my independence

I make reference to domestic abuse, domestic violence, PTSD and the violence against women act in various social media channels I am present in – but I haven’t really spoken openly about it in a public forum to any great degree, but 5 years on from my independence day, I feel like it’s a  fitting time to open up.

Last weekend my story was written and published by a London journalist and featured in the Sunday newspaper (see below) – this was the very first time my story was shared outside of my immediate family and friends. It hurts to read and I know neither my husband or my parents have read it and I understand why, but it isn’t something I am ashamed of, it is something I gained from.

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On July 4, 2008 I left my, now, ex-husband. Saying “I left him” takes away the emotion and the drama – what you don’t read in those words “I left” is the angst, fear, pain and suffering. My story of abuse is much like what many other women are dealing with – chances are you know someone who is dealing with abuse at home, it could be your mother, your sister, your best friend, the girl in the office, your daughter,  or it’s you. We, the victims, or survivors, hide abuse well, our abusers hide it even better. We feel ashamed, we feel like failures, like we are letting everyone down, like it’s our fault. When I left my ex-husband, I was running, literally running for my life, running for help, terrified, terrified, that July 4, 2008 was going to be the night he actually took that last step in the familiar abuse pattern, and killed me.

At the hands of my abuser, my husband, the man I loved, I was psychologically tortured every day for over 2 years – living on a knife edge, walking on egg  shells, never knowing when the explosion would happen and what it would be. I was strangled, kicked, thrown out the house, humiliated in front of friends and strangers. I was chased down and dragged down the street. My belongings were destroyed or thrown in the trash when I didn’t ‘behave’. Walls were punched inches from my head. I was held down, strangled and raped. This was, what he called love. I tried to leave, I left 6 times, he talked me home every time, with tears, apologies and promises. I believed him. I loved him. I was embarrassed.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD. A lot of people don’t realize that mental and emotional abuse can damage you, affect you that badly to leave you with post-traumatic stress disorder – but it can, and it does. My abuse is over, my abuser far away, but the trauma hasn’t gone away, including frequent nightmares, night sweats, crying, screaming and panic attacks in my sleep. It took me 4 years of therapy to be able to speak with emotion about what happened – for years I was clinical in my explanation of what happened, cold, I took out the emotion because I didn’t know how to process it. I saw myself outside of my own body. 5 years on, I can now connect me, with the facts and the emotion.

5 years seems so long ago, yet I remember every minute of that night vividly.

It’s times like those, that you learn who your true friends are – the ones who want to stick around and go through the trenches with you. The friends who pull you out and hold you up and support you in any and every way that they can.

I vowed, that with every friend that helped me I would pay it forward. It has taken me some time to get to a place where I am financially and emotionally comfortable. Where my life is better than it has ever been and I can start to help others.

I can’t donate hundreds or thousands of dollars, but I can donate my time and my experience and my advice. I am now a mentor to women who are going or have gone through what I went through. I am not a therapist, a counselor or a doctor, but I can help. I hope that my talking to each of these women, I am giving them the support that I had, the understanding shoulder to cry on and the strength to know that there is a way out. There can be the ‘happily ever after’.

I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other women survive and find their strength. People ask me if I regret my choice to be with my abuser, to stay with my abuser for so long – I regret what happened to me, and wish it on no one, but I love the person that I have become, the strength I have. The courage I know I have and the bravery that I can be proud of. I love the strong bonds I have with those that were there for me in my hardest time  they will be my friends eternally. Lastly, without that experience, I wouldn’t be where I am now, physically, emotionally, financially – and I wouldn’t have this amazing love with an incredible man, who has shown me what true love means, what a true man is like and how after such darkness and fear, there is love and light  – for all of these things, there could never be regret.

To my dear friends, Diana, The Kaufmans, Nick & Jenny, Andrew (amongst many things, the man who taught me to pay it forward), Jonathan and the Weisman’s  – thank you for being there in 2008 and now – you have my eternal gratitude.

My parents and my husband  – I know these things are hard to read and thank you for your never ending love and support.

So, as I am about to celebrate my first Independence day as an American, I will look back at how far I have come and how there is life after abuse.

Wishing you all a safe and happy July 4th.

Information:

If you, or someone you know needs help please contact the domestic abuse hotline (US) for guidance, contacts and safety plans on 1-800-799-7233 or 0800-2000-247 in the UK

Don’t hesitate to call 911/999 in an emergency – know that is always better to be safe and protected.

survivors-mentor

I am a Domestic Abuse Mentor – please contact me or use the information page here to seek help from one of the group of mentors available to help for free.

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How To Live In The Now – social media, content and unplugging

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We live in a world of now, now, now, gimme, gimme, gimme.

How did we become so obsessed with now. We don’t even have time to focus on the futuresome, it seems do not even care about the past, we just want it all and we want it now.

We are so in need, in lust for the now that anything else makes us impatient.

We are surrounded by the ‘instant’ – Twitter, Facebook. Vine. Insta(nt)gram

I primarily connected my figurative life line to social media in 2007 as a way to connect with my family and friends at home in London and across the globe, an easy way to share what I was doing and get the social reach easily to everyone I cared about when I was on the run and didn’t have time for a call or to write a letter  – technology has allowed me to face time with my Mum while I am out shopping to get her buy in on a dress I like or some shoes I’m contemplating adding to the collection. While I am connected to my family, I am also, now, so conditioned to getting everything out there right now – real time sharing, real time experiences.
I want to know if I’ve won – now. I want to know what people think – now. Who is liking my status, who is viewing my blog, what is my friend in another part of the world doing right now, I want my food order in 3 minutes.  I need the information and I need it now.

Capturing the moment

Capturing the moment

Don’t get me wrong – I love social media and what it has enabled us to do as individuals and as a global community, I like a fast pace, I like to have everything at my fingertips, but I’ve become so motivated by instant gratification that I’m not stopping to smell the flowers. I’m not taking in my life – the memories. Yes; every inch of the memory is captured in 140 characters or a heavily filtered and edited photo stored in a virtual cloud for the future, but am I living in that moment? Or am I merely capturing it?
Am I really listening or am I merely hearing?
Am I missing what’s really going on around me, now, because I’m so obsessed with the now.

My husband has created a social (media) experiment for us, mainly me, but us – can we, one day a week, tune out, shut down and turn off – can we leave our iphones, our ipad and our computer alone and just live in the moment, see the world through just one lens.

It’s time to take my moments. To realise that to really appreciate the now. I need to stop, inhale and absorb. Otherwise, my life will have flashed by in a series of uploads, tweets and posts.

Life is too short to not really LIVE in the now.

For more on our figurative life lines and our constant connection here is a great article on Huff Post – Disconnect: A New Movie Sounds the Alarm About Our Hyper-Connected Lives.

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Just Let It Go

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If December is the season of good will, then January is the season of resolutions made and broken.

I don’t really make resolutions – but I do make choices – I chose last summer to Drop To Shop and I followed that plan to a tee.

With January – comes winter – the most depressing time of year for me. I don’t like the cold, I hate snow and ice and I really don’t like bundling up just to take a 2 minute walk to my car and I live in Texas – it shouldn’t even be cold here. Generally I’m happy, but also miserable – a grumpy mess of whining, complaining and negative thoughts until the thermostat shows a pleasing number above 70 degrees. I’m pretty sure my friends in Dallas are fed up of me complaining, I know my husband is, so in an effort to make everyone around me less annoyed by me, I made a choice, not a resolution – to be more positive.

I have only just started my trek in to positivity. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, I, like most people, find it easier to criticize, complain and speak badly of people or things, than compliment, be positive and smile. As I read in one of the books I’m reading –“ it’s easier to complain than to laugh”* – and it’s so true. How often will you gossip about someone than compliment someone – or for that fact even take a compliment – us girls would rather put ourselves down about our weight, what a mess we think we are or be self-deprecating, than take the compliment about our hair, our dress, our amazing presentation at work or dinner we just made.

My first step in to positivity was recognising I needed a rule for myself – something that was quick to employ and easy to remember – one of my wise, wonderful friends, one day, said to me “you just have to let it go” and there it was – ‘Let It Go’. It’s so simple , a basic concept – take what is bothering you, what is just winding you up, stressing you out and making you miserable, and just let go of it. It’s my modern day version of the much quoted prayer**

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Work hard, make it happen – when I can, but know when to Let It Go – be smart enough to know the difference.

I started using Let It Go as my mantra – when something happened that I didn’t like, when I would normally rant and vent to anyone who would listen, I just said “Let It Go” it’s not important. At first it was hard – so I decided I needed to visualize something – I found an image of a balloon with the phrase on Pinterest and thought it was just perfect – so now, when I find myself on the verge of negativity, I just let go of my balloon and let it float away….far, far away.

How are you letting it go? Let me know.

#LetItGo

Let It Go

*Quote – Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

**Quote – Reinhold Niebuhr

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The Party’s Over – My Special Guest Blogger

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My wonderful parents

I love my parents and have an amazing relationship with them – I feel so lucky to call my parents my friends, heroes and role models.

I’ve spoken before about how my parents never really understand social media or “this medium you choose to use” but they completely embrace my blogging – and as I mentioned yesterday, my Dad even joined Twitter ( @DW29660) and my Mum is beginning to realise that Facebook isn’t a tool for people to hunt you down and see into your life unless you actually let them.

My Parents

Mr & Mrs W

After I introduced you all to my Dad (aka Billy) over the past few blogs and informed you of his new title yesterday – his insistence that he is now called the Don…. my Dad – asked me today, if he could guest blog. My first reaction was ‘OF COURSE’ – my second reaction was – ‘wow, my Dad knows what guest blogging is.’

When my Dad sent me his blog this evening he said:

“Read it/change it/scrap it – whatever, it was good fun to try writing it. Dx”

There was absolutely no way I was changing a single thing. It gives me great pride to introduce David ‘The Don’ Williams – in his first ever blog (please feel free to leave your comments here for him – I know he will appreciate them):

My Parents

I love this couple
Photo Credit: David Toms Photography

The First Day of the Rest of the Year

Its Sunday night and just about midnight – it’s been a good weekend but I’m not looking forward to tomorrow morning or indeed the coming week – it’s not that I don’t like Monday’s… it’s just that tomorrow is the first day of the rest of the year!

I live in London and since the end of May, London has been like never before – at least not like I’ve ever known it before and just in case you hadn’t realised, I’ve been around for a while!

First we had the Diamond Jubilee of our Queen… it’s not that I am a huge royalist, but respect where it’s due – QE2 has had the same job for 60 years and has done it well. The country gave her a big party and London celebrated like only it can with all of its history and pageantry… shame about the weather.

Just as we were getting over the ‘Jubly’ it was time for our annual festival of hope, expectation and ultimate disappointment or Wimbledon as it is also known. I live near Wimbledon, I’m involved in a small way with Wimbledon and as a sports fan, there is a real buzz about being at the sporting epicentre of the world for two weeks – this year Andy Murray nearly won it… so near and yet so far!

Suddenly ‘they’ started putting up banners, and signs, and painting the roads with Olympic rings to show where I was not permitted to drive… in my own home town. Remember I’m a sports fan but I really was not looking forward to the Olympics, well not the disruption. Also I had this fear that ‘the Games’ would be well organised but rather dull. There was a feeling that the opening ceremony as a spectacle would be rather unspectacular – I feel bad now, because as a designer I should have had more faith in British creativity – WOW it was good, even if some didn’t understand it! It was ‘smart’ rather than ‘slapstick’ – there was a story to be told and you had to concentrate – ad breaks every few minutes would not have helped!

Anyway ‘the Games’ came and went with plenty of success for the hosts and generally a good time was had by all. The stadiums were full, the trains kept running, the drains didn’t block… even the weather behaved and the World saw London at its best – even us cynical Londoners saw our great city at its best. Then it was the closing… at least as good as the Opening and that was it. The London Olympics, the Greatest Show On Earth as the Olympics are known was over – just the aftershow to come – a two week break then the Paralympics, but really, that wouldn’t be very interesting.. would it, be honest?

Another Opening Ceremony, at least as good as we had seen a few weeks back and the ‘Paras’ started. It was a slow start… fewer well-known names but then OMG! We began to realise what it was all about. Olympians train for years then turn up and compete in the hope they will be winners or at least get a medal.

Paralympics

Be Amazed – The Paralympics

Paralympians train for years, overcome the forms of adversity that the rest of us would rather not talk about, let alone suffer, then they compete, they enjoy and they hope to win or at least get a medal – but best of all, they compete like the rest of us who have good sight, a full set of limbs, mobility and no problems with the ‘internal wiring’. A big difference when paralympians compete is that when they don’t quite reach their best, they don’t blame it on ‘bad winter training’ six months ago – many turn up and don’t know how their body will perform on the day!

In case you didn’t see much of the London 2012 ‘Paras’, let me tell you about just 2 of the 4000 plus competitors. One a swimmer, a Chinese guy, both legs amputated above the knee, just a pair of stumps, and both arms amputated, one above the elbow, the other at the shoulder – that doesn’t leave much to swim with… I think he won a ‘gold’ beating guys with longer stumps, even full limbs. AMAZING!

The inspirational Chinese Paralympian

The other competitor was in the Dressage… that’s where with perfect control and balance, you ride a horse, making it dance with control and discipline on a one-cent piece – hard enough to control a human like that ( I couldn’t manage it with my children), to control horse is harder and when with Cerebral Palsy you can’t even control yourself, how do you maintain perfect balance to control the horse – our young rider won ‘gold’. AMAZING!

Natasha Baker

Natasha Baker – Wins 2nd Gold Medal
Image from: Daily Mail Online

But now the ParaGames are all over, the performances are over, the medals have all been awarded and (Coldplay, RiRi and JayZ were wonderful at the Closing) tomorrow the athletes go home but if you have an open mind, the thinking is just beginning! Never again will I look at an amputee or a person in a wheelchair, or a person with cerebral palsy and think of what they can’t do – I will think of what they can do or could do. Often after competing, they cried tears of joy and as a country we cried with them – they had shared the same stage as the ‘normal’ athletes and that made them feel ‘normal’, equal, the same.

The Olympics were the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ but the Paralympics were (and please excuse my grammar), the ‘EVEN Greater Show on Earth’, but for now it’s over, London will never be the same again, anyone who watched will never be the same again.

Better go to bed now, work tomorrow, my greatest ever summer is over – hope to see you in Rio in 2016!

Thanks to my very special Guest blogger. Billy, I love you.

American TV networks – you have 4 years to make it happen – Let’s hope by 2016 – we can celebrate and cheer for our fellow men and women. Our #SuperHumans

A Day in the Life of The Men in My Life

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Right:The Don – Naughty Billy    Left: The Don & Mr K

In other news– my father has now joined twitter and in the same 24 hour period has requested that as the eldest man in the family, he is now referred to as The *Don/ Don Billy. We shall see which new interest lasts longer. My money is on the new nickname rather than twitter. Although learning that he can vent and complain at companies in just 140 characters has provided him with a new challenge in his nonexistent workaholic down time.

*Side note – when I retold this story to a friend of ours – she asked why my dad wanted to be the Dom of the family.  Apparently her reading Fifty Shades of Grey has really had an effect on her hearing.

The Don & Mr K

In more ‘other news’ – my husband has a new toy – a food saver – the joy – we have everything you could possibly think of in its own little pouch – herbs, melon, fish, cherries, energy bars, reindeer all with the life sucked out of them and stored in the freezer. My father’s comment in relation to learning that Mr K is vacuum packing anything he can get his hands on…. “Well if we come over and we can’t find you darling – we will look to see if he’s vacuum packed you and stored you in the freezer”. Sigh.