I am trying to find a quiet spot in my house to write this blog but every room is filled with one of my children and their boyfriend or girlfriend, depending on which child it is. The house is literally overrun with people. I am not complaining. I chose to have six kids and I love the energy in the house. I woke up before everyone as usual and spent the quiet early hours working before everyone hurtled downstairs. Then I was met with four of my older kids wandering around sleepily with whichever boyfriend or girlfriend was in tow and I was asked to move from room to room so they could have some privacy!
How things have changed since I was young. Aside from the fact that my mother was mentally ill, she actually beat me up when she discovered I had gone to the doctor to get the pill when I was 18 and my boyfriend was never allowed in the house, never mind stay over. I am just glad my kids are safe under my roof because, let’s face it, they’re going to do it anyway. And they’re not kids, they’re adults now.
I’ve picked up my kids’ contraceptive prescriptions from the doctor many times while they’re at work, I’ve tidied their rooms and come across things no mother chooses to see but at the same time I am super proud that they have no hang ups over sex and we can all talk about it openly.
I had some sex toys left over from goody bags from a fashion show sponsor a couple of years ago and recently found some left over packages in a cupboard I was clearing out. My daughter handed a load out to her uni friends and the last two I gave to my sons, saying “You’re either going to think I am the most embarrassing mum on the planet or the coolest, but go knock yourselves out and have fun.”
Fortunately they think I’m cool.
It’s so important to have healthy conversations about sex, something I could never talk about with my mother. She accused me of being a slag, a whore and a prostitute all the time I was with my long term boyfriend, she tried to make me feel ashamed of something that is the most natural thing in the world and that every human craves. I still do! (Note to older women, the menopause doesn’t squish your libido)
It’s so important to talk openly about sex with your kids and not just the ones doing it. My ten year old said with a deadpan face when my son got with his girlfriend, “We all thought you were gay.” Not that it would have made any difference to any of us. We love unconditionally under my roof.
Growing up I always told them to be happy and safe and be with someone who makes them happy, regardless of gender. I want them to be able to come to me with any problem or question. Realistically they would rather talk to their siblings or friends but at least the option is there. They laugh at me and say that with my track record they don’t want my advice but I’ve been round the block a few times and despite my current shit show of a love life, I have been in long term relationships and I have experienced love. And of course I have had way more sex than them. I’m not just an expert, I used to be a sex feature writer for the Daily Star and wrote a book in my 20s entitled Caution, Slippery When Wet, which was serialised in a national newspaper about women’s sexual fantasies.
Sex is so much more available and far more explicit online than it was when I was a kid. There’s the thirst trap pics, Only Fans and don’t get me started on the dating apps which is just like trawling through a budget sex supermarket. And though I can't protect my girls from getting sent dick pics, I can talk to them about it and we can laugh about how gross they are.
I think I’ve instilled some good morals into all my kids, they’re comfortable with intimacy and happy with their partners. I’m often tripping over bunches of flowers and cards and empty present boxes left that they’ve exchanged and left lying around various rooms in the house. It’s lovely.
Being open about sex with your kids teaches them self respect and self esteem and of course consent. Talking about sex is healthy, having sex is healthy and knowing that my kids can come to me and talk about anything without any boundaries is so important to me and them.
When my son got with his gorgeous girlfriend he sent me a pic to show her off and I said, “I hope you two will be very happy and he replied, “I hope you find someone too that makes you happy, that’s all I want for you,” and my heart surged with love.
Love is definitely in the air, but not with me, ha!
I've been single for a while. OK, technically I am married but the divorce is on its way and we have been separated for over three years. I have dabbled on and off the dating scene but one thing I am learning is that men say one thing and mean another.
My job, apparently is a huge red flag for the men I have met.. They say they're attracted to a strong, independent, good-looking woman who runs her own business but the reality is that every man I have encountered is threatened by it. I run a public relations company, I network every day, I go to meetings, parties, corporate launches, and film premieres. Basically I will go to the opening of an envelope as I never know what opportunity may arise from it. I create events that bring hundreds of people together. To make this happen I have to be super active on social media. My reels and posts are aimed at catching the attention of potential new clients and it's worked for me for the last 15 years so I am not going to change. It's also quite entertaining for me.
My last boyfriend dumped me unceremoniously because he said I was intolerable, he hated my social media attention, ironic really as he initially contacted me through social media under the guise of working with me.
More recently I met a guy who we seemed to click with quite rapidly. He ticked my boxes, he was smart with a very intelligent career, financially independent with a banging personality to boot. But as soon as I mentioned I was hosting and producing the Lifestyle Awards he started to twitch because he was unable to attend due to family commitments. Who was I going with? Who was I seated with? If I was going to get chatted up would I tell him?
I had a guest list of 200 people, and of course I was going to chat to everyone, they're all business prospects. Some men can't grasp this. It's as if my work is irrelevant.
I am super independent, I have had to be to financially support my children and also because I require the freedom to carry out my days as I please. I am lucky enough to work my own hours, meet friends for lunch and go the the gym when I want. This doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, I am frequently writing at 4 in the morning. I run businesses in two countries and have clients in many more. I catch a flight every month, this is my lifestyle and I want someone who is confident in themselves to not red flag me every time I am out of their sight.
Getting a boyfriend isn’t a priority but I am human and like the idea of being with someone. But every man I come across who shows a glimmer of interest rapidly declines into what seems like a competitive sport and I lose interest equally as fast.
I have been through more testing times than the average woman, I think, and I finally know my worth and would rather stay single than battle a man over my career and social life which is crucial to me. But here’s a message for all the men out there who are threatened by a strong independent woman, we’re not interested in what you earn. We’re interested in how you treat us.
My success inspires and motivates others and I am not going to water it down to massage your ego. My income is not relevant to your self-worth, hell I was married to a man who didn't work for over a decade.
Strong, independent women want a partner who encourages them and supports them in their lives and at the same time, gives them the space to do what they need to do. My lifestyle is not intimidating to someone who has high self-esteem and understands the hard work and long hours that have been necessary to get to where I am. Owning a business is different to being an employee. We can’t switch off in the evenings or weekends, we’re always thinking of the next move to elevate our success. And if men don’t feel worthy of us they’ll start sabotaging the relationship by putting us down, trying to crush our self confidence, gaslighting us into telling we're crazy and unstable and making us feel like shit. This is a reflection of their insecurities, not ours. We’re not thinking about jumping on every dick that talks to us over a glass of wine. We’re looking for men who enhance our careers and our lifestyles, who are our biggest cheerleaders. My children, especially my sons, have been brought up to support these badass women so hopefully the next generation will be more tolerable and understanding.
As for me, I am done with dating. I genuinely don’t think there’s a man out there who could match what I offer. And that’s fine, I am comfortable hanging out with my sassy beautiful girlfriends in similar positions. We're a pedigree breed that few can afford.
My good friend of 20 years called me today and said, “Amanda, I wish I had your confidence.”
It was so lovely of her to say that but it made me think about what confidence really is.
I am confident in the way I dress and the way I carry myself, I have no filter when it comes to defending my behaviour or fighting for causes I believe in. But for the last few months I have been doubting my capabilities as I felt my life spiral out of control. Healing from the pain of broken friendships, struggling to keep my business going, hemorrhaging money with the never-ending bills and the stress of desperately wanting to sell my house and finalise my divorce has taken a toll on my confidence. Plus dealing with the hormonal issues of menopause which has made me super emotional at times. It’s fair to say that it’s been a difficult year so far.
You wouldn’t know because I haven’t shared this until now. Running your own business can be lonely, you rely on no one but yourself for it to work so you have to show up for yourself even if you don’t feel like it. Being an entrepreneur makes you constantly doubt your decisions but I suppose I must be doing something right as I am nominated for two business awards this autumn. I do get spurts of confidence with the work that I do, I know I am an expert in my field and I can help people with their goals too, and I have a vision for the future of my business which I try and stay on track with.
There’s a fine line though, between being overconfident and coming across as arrogant or self-absorbed. On the flip side, being underconfident prevents you from taking risks and grabbing opportunities for fear of failure or worrying what other people may think of you.
I have no problem walking into a room full of strangers and making new contacts and I love talking to everyone but I am a terrible procrastinator. I can sit on my sofa for hours and scroll through social media when I should be banging out emails prospecting for new clients or writing up a feature. And having spent years being emotionally abused by people I cared about, it’s knocked my confidence. I’ve been accused of being a fake and a bullshitter, which is ironic as I am completely genuine and a terrible liar. I’ve been defamed and trolled on social media throughout the years which has made me question my entire being at times. But learning to not care what other people think has made me stronger and more resilient, not forgetting more determined to prove them wrong. Which I have done multiple times.
I saw a quote today which said, “Just because I’ve sat in darkness doesn’t mean I won’t shine my inner light.”
My friend asked me if I could teach her how to be confident and I’ve had a think about it. It’s more than a mindset and reciting daily affirmations. I do the things I love daily, I exercise, I go to the beach and spend time with friends who motivate and uplift me and when I feel happy, I feel more confident.
I take pride in my work and give it my best, I believe in it and am passionate about it. And when I see the results of my work; the magazine published or an event come together and people celebrating their successes with me, it instills me with new confidence.
What keeps me pushing forward is an unwavering determination to succeed at all costs. I don’t have a choice, I have children who depend on me. No matter what personal or professional challenges I face, can’t just give up. I will step up every time and face the obstacles. Because whatever I’m going through, I know it won’t last. Self-belief is the ultimate confidence builder.
CHANGE YOUR LIFE
I recall laughing at my daughter’s bold statement to me last year. “I’m really happy with the person I’ve become and I don’t think I’ll change, “ said the thoughtful 20 year old.
I replied, “Honey, I’m still changing. If you stay the same you’ll never grow.”
And this is our lesson throughout life. Changes shape us and mould our desires. They create ripple effects that make us want to discover new experiences including relationships, careers and friendships. And through change comes exciting opportunities we would never have seen coming otherwise.
We outgrow people as we outgrow ourselves and set new healthier boundaries. I have dropped friends who aren't as ambitious as me because they became unrelatable. I have declined social invitations when I knew I had a big deadline looming the next day, and with no purpose to get up for the next day, they didn’t understand or empathise. Don' t let anyone hold you back.
I have dropped friends who put their partner before their own needs or who cancel plans relentlessly because a man has slid into their DMs. If my time isn't as important to them then I don't want to know.
Wanting change gives you power and control over your life and where you want to end up.
I left a marriage of 20 years, a stable partner who I knew would never leave me, to embark on a scary single life. Why? Because I wasn’t prepared to settle for a lack of passion and romance anymore. I deserve more.
I moved countries because I loathed the gloomy English weather and freezing temperatures. My mood was constantly affected by this and it shook my motivation. I didn’t want to leave my house as I was so cold and made excuses not to go to meetings.
Through the move I met lots of people from around the world, all with similar stories and inspiring journeys and gained enormous confidence.
I dropped the weight and started to take care of my skin and my appearance and through this my confidence boomed.
Three years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of going to a bar on my own for a drink, now it’s become the norm. I accept invitations for way more social events as I never know who I am going to meet and this has been crucial in my business’ success.
We stay in one place because we’re fearful of the unknown and it’s easier to stay in our safe, comfortable place where we become fixated on our problems and often manifest into greater ones. But on the other side of fear is limitless possibilities. And what if it doesn’t work out? We are not trees, we are not rooted in one place, we can get up and leave.
Many people say to me, “I wish I could do what you did” and the simple answer is, you can. You have a credit card, you can book the plane ticket, even if you don't move there, a change of scenery for a few weeks can be just as effective.
You need to plan and you need to accept that although you may fail at that plan, something even better will work for you instead.
It takes guts, resilience and a thick skin. You will be judged harshly but mainly from people who have accepted their uneventful, steady life and envy your courage to go and seek more. You will lose friends, you will undoubtedly be lonely for a while. You learn to embrace discomfort and through these feelings you discover more about yourself, your wants and your desires.
I think everyone should be made to go on holiday on their own, you learn so much about yourself. And starting a new life is a whole new level of discomfort. It’s a bit of a shit storm at times, but as with all storms, the clouds eventually disappear and the sky clears. It’s not selfish to walk about from situations that don’t make you happy, be it a partner or a friendship or a job. These are all replaceable. Feeling guilty is a waste of energy and I channel that through the gym. Life to me doesn't revolve around trundling around Tesco anymore wondering what to make for dinner.
Through my actions, my children have become independent and stronger with robust work ethics to chase money to give them the freedom to create their own opportunities. They tell me they're grateful for the opportunities I have shown them. You owe it to your mental health and your happiness to chase every dream and turn it into a reality.
Finding myself single at 50 wasn’t that much of a shock to my system. After all, I spent the final years of my 20 year marriage more alone than ever so it felt right to cut that cord and set myself free. Two years later I fell for a tall, dark and handsome man who swept me up in a fantasy holiday romance and emotions buried deep were reignited. That situationship ended abruptly and it briefly rocked my self worth with cruel words fired at me. But undeterred and resilient as ever, I recently decided that I was ready to meet someone new. So after much deliberation and being egged on by my friend, I recently tried online dating. Almost as quickly as I set up my profile, I deleted it and vowed never to go through that again. Ugh.
For the first hour it was entertaining and then it become irritating. The calibre of eligible men is pretty low and honestly, I am astounded at the confidence of some of these men. Have they looked in the mirror? Do they really think they stand a chance with me? Don’t get me wrong, I know many people who have found successful relationships with partners they have met online but I couldn’t even get past a first date. Are my standards too high or am I just deep down emotionally unavailable? I compared them all to a fairytale image of a man I want and not one of them matched up.
The first date was with an incredibly good looking man, with a beautiful chiselled face and a body of steel. He ordered a perrier water all night and nursed it like liquid gold to avoid ordering a second drink. He spoke about himself all night and rarely asked anything about me. I sipped at an iced tea all night thinking I would rather be at home with my cats.
The second date was with a man in his 30s and that was fun, but in the back of my mind the age was an issue for me. I prefer younger men by a few years but that was just too much and our age gap would have been a problem for me. Especially with children in my 20s who are closer in age to him.
The third never made it to a date, I think he just wanted to be an online penpal. The communication was great, he texted regularly and checked in with me but made no effort to actually suggest meeting up and so my boredom crept in rather quickly.
Then of course there was the usual variety of men blocked instantly for descending into sexting within a few sentences of introducing themselves. When will men realise that most women find intelligent conversation and sense of humour the biggest turn on?
Recent statistics show that 39% of women my age are single. some never married, others like me became bored of being treated like wallpaper by lazy, indifferent husbands and chose to end relationships. Like many, I don't need a man, I want one but I am not desperate. Almost 50% of divorces have occurred in people’s 40s and 50s and I don’t regret my decision. I don’t have to answer to anyone, I am not stressed by cutting remarks or comments aimed to lower my self esteem anymore. I am comfortable in my skin and am naturally confident.
It takes courage to put yourself out there but that isn’t a problem for me, my work dictates that I talk to strangers all the time. I have no problem going to a party alone or going to a bar alone as I love meeting people. My journalistic instinct kicks in and I am naturally inquisitive.
I remain optimistic that I will fall in love again but it’s not the central priority in my life. A man has to compliment my lifestyle, my strict gym regime and my crazy, unconventional work hours, he isn’t there to fill a void that isn’t there.
I am alone but not lonely. My life is filled with my children, fun and fabulous friendships whom I cherish. So until then I shall remain, single, sassy and a little bit badassy.
Guest blog post by Claire Davies
STAYING TRUE TO YOURSELF AND SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
When you awaken and align with your true essence, you often experience a turbulent time where relationships reorganise themselves so they are also aligned with who you are.
They’ll be certain people you just won’t want to spend your time with or energy on. This will feel unfamiliar and you’ll question yourself.
For me personally, I don’t like drama and drinking and crassness. I used to be very forgiving and accepting but I’ve walked into a friends house and a board has been on the French door because a drunken night escalated the night before. When I’m in that space I get a horrible feeling. It’s like a jelly wobbling in me. It was my instinctual emotional body telling me this is not aligned with you.
In the past, I didn’t take heed. I felt I should show up for people, be caring, hold space for them etc. What I’ve realised as I’ve gained wisdom and more connection is there is absolutely no place for these people in my life. They bring chaos in, in ways we don’t even understand.
Some things I’ve noticed is a theme of drunken texts that they say they don’t mean and apologise for. Almost circling like a shark looking for a chink in your armour so they can make themselves feel better in their ‘comparing’ game. Sabotaging your efforts and or making comments or betraying your confidence.
I had a friend tell me how she was on a double date with another friend and laughing telling me how the other girls partner seemed to fancy her more and be more engaged with her. That’s a definite alarm bell. These aren’t friends. They are competitors posing as friends and if something advantaged them and disadvantaged you they wouldn’t think twice about bettering their situation, even if it worsened yours.
I’m sharing this because when you understand emotional energy and vibration you understand how negative ‘putting up with’ behaviours that aren’t aligned with yours can actually be.
When you withdraw from these people they are likely to accuse you of not being a good friend, of not caring. In extreme cases they will smear you to make themselves feel better.
Ride that bit out. They’ve revealed themselves. What other people think of you really is none of your business and those that know you will know the truth anyway.
Be discerning. Have good boundaries and don’t let people who aren’t wanting to grow, pull you from your peace or off your path. Don’t let guilt tripping, anger, smearing or any other control drama keep you hooked into an energy exchange that is actually disrupting your flow and progression to living a happy successful life
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Why are women still being discriminated against?
I have four daughters who I am proud to say are strong, feisty and independent and aren't afraid to speak their mind. They take after their mother but despite this they will encounter discrimination just for being female.
One in 3 women experience sexual harrasssment and in their lifetime and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Women are more likely to be emotionally and physically abused by their partners.
It doesn't have to be that extreme to see discrimination against women. Take the Pink Tax for example. Female products on the market cost more than male, starting with school uniforms: girls' uniforms are on average 12% higher in price. Girls' toys are on average a whopping 35% higher, pink branded tools in DIY stores are 15% more costly just because of the packaging. Women's razors are far more expensive and have less products in the packaging, just because they're in pink wrappers. Women's insurance is also higher.
And then there's the tax on menstrual products. We can't help having periods, it's our biological make up.
It came to my attention recently that even everyday medicines were only tested on men so the dosage on packaging is aimed at men, not women.
There's no justification for this, everyday, women are fighting for rights and it's not about being a burn-the-bra feminist.
I have encountered sexual discrimination in every office I have worked in, from being pinned against the wall by a male colleague, to being asked daily if I had sex the night before, to comments about my clothes, my breasts and even my mouth. As a journalist on national tabloids I was advised by my news editor to dress salaciously for certain meetings to extract the stories out of people.
I was made redundant from a television role I was in for eight years when they found out I was pregnant again. I was told the job wasn't required anymore but as soon as I was put on "gardening leave", a male was put in my place with the same title. I went to tribunal and settled beforehand.
Even now I regularly receive lurid comments and sexual offers in return for advertising, sometimes to the point that I don't want to go out and face people in business meetings. But I do as it's my job and I won't let them get the better of me. I have a smart mouth and am not afraid to use it. My phone number is public for my business enquiries but that doesn't stop men messaging me every week asking for hook ups.
You need a thick skin to be a woman. we're judged for how we dress, how we speak and how we conduct ourselves and it's wrong.
I dress fashionably and am conscious of my body, I work hard in the gym to look the way I do but that isn't an invitation for men to touch me on the knee, arm, leg or bum. A short dress when I go out isn't a yes.
And showing off a cleavage? God forbid? Women have breasts of all sizes, they naturally stick out, we're not usually showing them off, they're part of our body and they're not an invitation for men to stare at our chests, least of all touch them. I see comments on social media about how women dress inappropriately for the gym and that if we don't want attention we shouldn't dress the way we do. First of all have you seen the gym wear in the shops? It's all bra tops and tight leggings for comfort, what are we supposed to wear? A table cloth?
And let's not talk about the unsolicited dick pics regularly sent online. It's not attractive, it's not a turn on, it's aggressive behaviour and disrespectful and alarming that I have had to educate my daughters on social media about this.
How about men accept accountability for their behaviour and are taught not to stare, not to make women feel uncomfortable and not to make creepy comments. My two sons have been brought up this way and I am proud of the way they behave. If only more men were like that.
We live in a supposedly civilised society where men are educated to treat women equally but women are still paid less than men, sports competitions pay less for the prize money for women athletes yet they put in just as much effort and dedication to their sport. A recent report showed mysogeny is still institutionally prevalent in our police force.
The list goes on and on and how can we stop this?
By continuing to speak up. Of course we'll be labelled as aggressive but who cares what others say. It's important to shout loud about what is important to us.
How do you go from speaking everyday to being strangers overnight?
There was no warning, no argument. We went from sharing reels and voice notes throughout the days into the evenings every day for a year. We had spent what I thought was an amazing night together the week before and then I sensed the distance. The lack of response to my messages until I sent the inevitable text, "Are you ok?" dreading the response.
"No, I'm not feeling it, " he said weakly, adding . "You're intolerable."
The cruel words pierced through my core, ripping me apart like shrapnel. There was no hint of this coming.
"But we're still good friends."
Really? Friends don't deliberately hurt the other, friends don't pick apart your personality and friends don't leave you.
When you go from talking every single day to being total strangers, you get into the habit of picking up your phone and putting it right back down. You click on their name, type a message you never would have hesitated to text them back in the day, and then erase the words before you get too tempted to press send.
You want to talk to them about everything, to share the stories you have had during the day, but instead you choose silence to preserve your dignity.
No one would know how I was feeling, my social media posts shout out the usual positivity and inspiring messages of encouraging people to live their best life.
But inside I am hurting, I am so sad but I don't cry. I wonder if there's something wrong with me and I question my self worth. Childhood trauma of loss and abandonment have been triggered by the way I was discarded so carelessly. My mother told me from the age of four that I didn't deserve to be loved. Was she right?
I know they say that time is a great healer but every hour feels like a thousand years.
I will be fine, my real friends tell me, and that I have survived worse.
But when you go from talking every day with someone whose company you enjoyed and who you thought was a real friend, it's hard to trust ever again. It took me so long to let someone back into my life and they threw me off a cliff.
I have a lot of thinking time now and the silence is deafening. I know a break up is one of life's experiences and gives you the chance to evolve into an even greater version of yourself. I know what I want and deserve. I want an emotionally mature man who isn't afraid to tell me that he loves me, or tell me that I look nice. Strangers telling you that you're beautiful mean nothing but when you hear it from the man you want, the words mean the world. I want a man who is proud to have his picture taken with me. I want a man who doesn't put me down to mask their own flaws and insecurities to make them feel better about themselves. I am a high value woman, financially independent all my adult life and authentic and honest and if that makes me intolerable then so be it.
They say people leave your life for a reason, to clear the path for better people and even more enjoyable experiences. I hope this it true.
For hope is all I have right now.
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