The Dating Rollercoaster!

I started the night secretly retrieving tissue from my pocket……to wipe sweat from my forehead. I ended the night forgoing the tissue as tears streamed down my face. 

What a night. 

What a mixture of emotions. 

Such is the life of a single girl, diving back into the world of dating. 

As I’ve mentioned on a couple of occasions, I am single! In my post, ‘The Single Side of Me’, I delve deeper into how I feel about it. 

One of the reasons I started my year of vulnerability was due to my single status, which – I put my hands up and admit – I am to blame for! 

As the great Jim Rohn said: “For things to change. You need to change.”

And boy do I want things to change. 


So I’m looking at my situation from different angles, donning different shoes. It’s scary, staring my demons head on, feeling the emotions. But with it I come through the other side with a lesson. 

Although……..I wasn’t expecting tears on the tube, on the way home from an event, to be part of the journey. 

It all started Wednesday night when I nervously arrived at Farr’s School of Dancing in Dalston, for a silent dating event. The event Shhh party, was something that I’d never experienced before but it wasn’t totally out of my comfort zone as I proudly have ‘improv skills’ on my CV. Plus, silliness definitely is in my DNA. 

Not a stranger to being alone in a room full of people due to countless networking events and courses I’ve attended, I found it interesting that I confidently strode up to 2 women and asked if I could join them. Usually I would linger around the side of the room waiting for someone to approach me. 

Dating stories were swapped and I admitted that it had been over a year since my last date and that I was eager to ramp it up again. Hence the deep end. This event!

We started off with a few warm up games, making our way around the room, in silence, introducing ourselves in various ways. There were about 30 men and women, almost equally split, so there was always someone new to greet. Each round of games required more energy, confidence and movement than its predecessor, which didn’t bode well for my skinny black jeans in an already hot room. 

As I mopped my brow, taking off my freshly done makeup in the process, I realised I didn’t mind as I was having so much fun. My face ached from smiling and I was eager to see how the night would unfold. 

The games continued, not all in silence. The host, Adam Wilder, was the perfect compère, hilarious and engaging. He explained the reasons for playing each game, which also turned out to be perfect life lessons. Totally up my street.  

After the break the games took a sensual turn, shining a respectful light on intimacy. Something that lacks in so many people’s lives, not just those that are single! I don’t want to divulge too much into the event for those that may be interested in going themselves. So I will just say the last game was surreal, powerful, beautiful and……….sad!

The evening ended with people staying on for drinks to talk, finally introducing themselves by name. Some people coupling off and leaving together. 

I got a number. 

A woman’s number. 

Yup. I got me a wing-woman!

On the phone to my friend as I headed back home, I was laughing as I expressively explained the set up. All of a sudden, without warning, the gloom set in and I was……..despondent. I felt rejected and further away from my goal. 

And I moaned. 
“In dating situations today you have to vie for attention and it often feels like the guy is the one pulling the strings. Making the decisions. Whilst the girl patiently waits. Takes unnecessary digs at herself. Compares herself. Why do I let myself get pulled into this situation time after time, without actually giving my permission?”

And I cried. 
“I was sad that no-one showed an interest, even though I wasn’t particularly interested in anyone. I was tired of always having to try when others only have to look at someone to be in a relationship. I was fed up of constantly being the 3rd wheel amongst friends. I felt happy and independent one minute and then so alone the next.”

And I blamed.
“Damn the time of the month making me extra hormonal. Is there a full moon? It feels like it. I’m tired. I’ve had a few to drink. It’s been a long day. It’s probably the stress of the election. Damn you Theresa May.”

And my friend.
Knowing how I feel about advice and papering over problems with sickly sweet throwaway words of comfort, remained silent. I loved her for it ❤️

I can’t speak for all single women, nor would I want to, but I’m sure the majority will agree when I say that there are a list of things that we’re sick of hearing. I scribbled my top 5 down to include in this post but then realised it didn’t flow. So my ranting list will be in a separate post – you lucky folks you! 

Sometimes all anyone needs to feel better, is a non-judgemental person who will sit and listen. Listening is underused and underrated – in my opinion. Thanks to my friend’s ears, my tears soon dried and I was able to move on and the lessons, they came a-knocking. 

Lesson 1
Putting on some size 9 trainers, I looked at the guys that I had turned down in life. Who had bravely asked me out and I had snubbed their advances. Why was it any different when it happened to me? It’s hypocritical. We are all entitled to our choice. It just feels like I’m playing snap with no sets of pairs in the card deck. 

Lesson 2
As I was drifting off to sleep I laughed as I realised that this was what vulnerability felt like. I had asked for this. To be open, on my quest for love, could mean……..hurt, pain, rejection! I was firmly on the right path. This made me feel okay. Actually, this made me feel more than okay!

Lesson 3
When walking back from the polling station yesterday evening. I thought of Jim Rohn’s quote again and began to dissect it further. 

‘You need to change.’

I see this as not changing my personality to fit into someone else’s perfect partner mould. Instead, I see this as an opportunity to change into the person I want to be. A ‘me’ that would fit into my ideal relationship mould. 

I want my partner to be outgoing, open-minded, healthy, sporty and love the outdoors. I laugh as I try and remember the last time I went camping without it been a festival. Or the last time I went to the gym or picked up my kettlebells (which I’ve only used once). How can I expect to attract someone like this when I’m not this person myself? 

The lessons are always there. After the demons – they are there. Many people choose to spend most of their time entertaining the demons by playing hide and seek or wallowing with them. 

This time I chose to sit with them, with the pain. And I hurt. I moaned. I complained. I cried. Coming out of the other side feeling stronger and more certain than ever that I will not settle and will not give in! 

It cemented the fact that I still believe that I will get what I’m looking for. 

I’m so grateful for Shhhh Party for getting me there in the most fun rollercoaster dating experience I’ve had. I highly recommend it to anyone. Maybe you’ll meet your partner, a wing woman or a demon with a message. Whatever happens one thing I can almost guarantee is – you’ll have fun! You can check it out here www.shhhdating.com

Finally I am beyond grateful to my friend who was ‘silently’ with me as I battled my demons. You know who you are 😘. 

Emma x

p.s. On Sunday night I deactivated my Facebook for a much needed break, you can see why in my post ‘We are on a Break’.  This has resulted in a more open and raw account of my feelings. As the amount of people that this blog will reach is smaller than my other posts I felt more confident sharing. Plus, I don’t have the opportunity to sit watching FB waiting for the feedback. Phew!! 

If you have liked this post feel free to give it a share. 

We are on a Break!

I’m

A

Woman

Obsessed!

Infact. I’m starting to actually believe I’m……..possessed.

With Facebook!

It’s taken control of me. My mind. My habitual functions. The slip of my hand mindlessly reaching for my phone. A scroll. A like. A glance. A smile. A sigh.

Feeling like I’ve got the extra oxygen I need. Before I repeat. I repeat. I repeat. Over and over again.

No notifications. Is the phone needing to update? Is the site on a go slow?

Notifications. Beam. Oh, I have no interest in them.
Or
Ooh….. that’s interesting. You have my attention. For a moment…….

Yup! Possessed!

I love Facebook. I love the ways it has improved my life. How it’s easy to connect. To find my tribe. To have a voice. To live another part of me. The part that’s not as introverted.

I’m always found on the defensive side when people try and blame Facebook for what is wrong with the world today. Like a caring big sister who can hate on her sibling but woe betide anyone else who tries to!

Knowing deep inside that my defensiveness comes from agreeing with some of the opinions that are aired. I once downloaded an app which tracked where you were spending most of your time on your phone. After the 2nd day – my defensive reaction was to delete the app! Well of course I’m on it all the time. I need it for work! Ahem……

When I first heard about Facebook I was in a relationship with a guy that thought it was a “load of tripe” or words to that effect. As soon as we broke up I didn’t run into the arms of another guy – ready to rock the rebound. No – I joined Facebook.

I believe that’s one of the things that helped get me through a challenging breakup. Facebook was the distraction I needed during the day whilst my super strong sleeping pills took care of the night. (Which I had to use sparingly as the doctor said that one prescription was my lot).

I connected with old friends and started to live an adventurous life. I was opening my eyes to a world outside of Leeds. I started to see what was possible. The places I could go. The things that I could be. I didn’t just see them. I did them.

Facebook saved me.

So actually admitting I have a problem is tough!

It doesn’t help that I’m a procrastinator. Facebook is like catnip to me. Always wanting that extra hit. To find out what’s going on. It’s not all positive though. I unleash the Comparison Cashier and start passive aggressive arguments in my head at something someone has said. Their views. Their opinions. Pitching up camp in my mind.

Too much Facebook and I’m tired and feel guilty. A tad empty inside. In my previous post Partying with Guilt and Fear! I mentioned that I often feel lazy. To which, the feedback I received from a few friends that know me. “Lazy is the last word I would use to describe you”.

And I get why they said that. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been called ‘busy’ and was even embarrassed with the word at one point. I agree, I don’t appear to be lazy as I’m always ‘doing something’. They don’t see the other side though. The time wasted – doing absolutely nothing but aimlessly scrolling until numb. When I have:

  • people to text back
  • books to read
  • documentaries to watch
  • items to declutter
  • a novel to start
  • a blog post to write

I actually started to write this post yesterday at 11.50pm! I said I would be in bed by 11pm. I always lie to myself when it comes to bed times. I get caught up with something that needs to be done/viewed/researched – immediately! Normally on Facebook.

So after almost 10yrs of using Facebook as a crutch. I’ve admitted that a break is called for. Not a long break but a break nonetheless.

I’d decided this some weeks ago but after finishing ‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers on Monday evening, it was the extra push I needed. It’s a dystopian novel about how technology and social media is taking over our lives.


The book itself was a simple read and kept me engaged. Plus, I could actually see how this could be a reality. People, myself included – I’m up near the front of the queue – are continuously doling out sections of their lives for technology/others to control. Maybe:

  • For an easier life
  • To always be entertained
  • To never be lonely

Lonely!! 

And that’s when it struck me!

Although I’ve been single for 10yrs. I ran head first into a different type of relationship. I’d been screwing Facebook!

Longest rebound ever!!

Maybe I thought without Facebook I would be lonely, bored and……..vulnerable?

Not even half way through the book and I knew that I was going to take a break from Facebook. I decided a weekend would be enough. Then increased it to a week and just now I have further increased it to 3 weeks!

To many this isn’t a big deal. But to me – I see my oxygen reserve slipping away. In addition to connecting with friends and stalking. Come on – we all do it! I’ve used Facebook for networking, business and learning. It’s a HUGE part of my life! That statement itself hit a nerve. It’s really quite sad.

A lot can happen in 3 weeks. So I’m excited to see what my creative mind has in store for me. Will letting go of Facebook present a new, tangible love? Will I read more books? Sleep better? Be happier?

It is widely said that it takes 21 days to break/make a habit. So I therefore announce that from 5th-25th June (inclusive) – I will deactivate my Facebook. The messenger will still be on as a way of contact but that is all.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Facebook and social media in general. How attached are you?

I will still be updating my blog – you’ll be able to see new posts via my Twitter and Instagram.

Here’s to me taking control of my life.

Facebook – we are on a break!

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday
Twitter: @boomerhalliday

Partying with Guilt and Fear!

I felt like absolute shit on Sunday morning. So much so that I had to cancel a visit to Kew Gardens with a friend. I’m a people pleaser so the act of cancelling itself was a tough one. To make matters worse I had to admit that it was self inflicted. I blimmin had a hangover. I didn’t do hangovers until 3yrs ago. And this one hurt!

As I lay in bed feeling guilty for letting someone down, I also felt guilty for overspending at the weekend. So I figured whilst I was having an impromptu pity party to invite more guilt to join in. I may as well add the guilt I constantly had about being lazy – which led to guilt that I hadn’t started writing my weekly blog post. 

Usually a blog idea comes to me in the week and I start making notes on what I am going to write about. Switching from my iPad to my phone before merging the notes together and constructing the final piece. I then read it. Re-read it. Add bits. Take words away. Read. Edit. Re-read. Deep breath……….and post. 

This time I had a list of topics that I could write about. I had actually been organised and wrote them down:

  • Money
  • Social media habits 
  • Security and stability 
  • Being single (and what I’m going to do about it)
  • Writing a novel
  • Confrontation and rejection

That list was as far as I’d got. My usual routine didn’t take hold and no further inspiration was coming to me. 

Even if I wanted to write that morning it wasn’t going to happen, as I had actually lost the ability to even text a few words. My fingers had clearly been affected by the alcohol. Predictive text wasn’t equipped to deal with my inability to put words together. I was mmmmmmmmmmmm’ing all over the screen instead of deleting misspelled words. 

Tiredness, pain, brain fog, useless fingers and all the guilt was just too much for me to handle. Unable to sleep it off. I took my sorry self – very slowly, bent over in an almost 90 degree angle, into the living-room. Pulling my duvet behind me. 

You know it’s a bad day when you take your duvet to the sofa!

Pretty Woman was on the TV, my housemate had made me food and I was cocooned in my covers. My eyes suddenly sprung a leak! I admitted to my housemate that I was crying and I couldn’t detect why. 

Was it at Julia Roberts (it wasn’t even a sad part of the film), my headache, feeling sick or the fact that I was struggling to eat my food? I didn’t have a fucking clue!

Hook was the next film to turn me into a blubbering mess. I turned to my housemate and said. “Why the fuck am I crying at the little boy?”. Tears are streaming down my face and I’m laughing at how feeble I’d become. 

I basically cried the rest of the way through Hook and decided after that the best place for me was bed. Back to the pity party I tried to escape from. This time I allowed myself to sit with the feelings. Letting them rock me to sleep. 

I woke up feeling comforted by some of the messages I received in my dreams. Signs telling me to ‘let go of control’ and to ‘put things into perspective!’

I thought back to the conversation I’d had with a friend when we met on Saturday. 

I initially shared my ‘writers block’ with her. When I realised that she was listening to me on a deep level, with no judgement, no fixing, no token words of comfort. I started to divulge more information about myself. 

I was being vulnerable…….. to someone…………..in the flesh! Not hidden behind my written words – protected by a screen. 

I told her of my new fears. Experiences from my past. The times that I’d been anxious and had panic attacks. I told her about the anxiety that had surfaced due to my blog: I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I didn’t feel up to it. I’d made a rod for my back. That I haven’t really got a talent. That I was scared of the unknown……….

I was bringing light to my fears and she let me. She listened. She gave me space to talk. Through that – being able to air my views without interruption I was able to get out to the other side. 

I welcomed her suggestions of: not trying to compete with myself, not having to post my blog at a certain time. And the piece de resistance – to go out and enjoy myself. So I did! 

Hence the hangover! 

A lightbulb moment took place and my guilt slowly started to subside! 

My year of vulnerability wasn’t set up to be a blog originally. I didn’t need to control when I made a post. It also didn’t matter how many people read my posts or how meaningful the posts were to others. Although if someone is inspired or helped in any way by anything I share – that is a wonderful bonus.   

But this year is about me – finding peace with being vulnerable me! 

I was then able to look back at the weekend as a gift. 

Plus, I had been vulnerable that week: 

  • I sat in front of someone and was open! I spoke my truth and I did it without worrying what she thought of me. 
  • I went to a writers book club and introduced myself as an author. Joining forces with people further along their writers path than I was. 
  • I had my first volunteer shift at a Youth Centre – connecting with teenagers over Monopoly, card games, air hockey and pool. 

On more than once occasion I had been out of my comfort zone. 

And just like that, my hangover was gone and more importantly I was able to leave the pity party and duvet on my bed. 

The lessons I learnt – for the umpteenth time – were to:

  • confront my feelings. 
  • embrace myself as a complex being –  a puzzle that will never be solved. 
  • see this as a rocky part of a continuous journey. 
  • celebrate how far I’d actually come. 
  • Lighten up. 

And to make peace with the fact that I like to party! 

Emma x

p.s. Speaking of parties – I’ve finally braved it and bought a ticket to a dating event!! A silent dating event🤐

Watch this space……..

http://www.facebook.com/Hallidayshealthzone

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

The write path 📝

40 days ago I started a challenge which was recommended to me in the book ‘Making Miracles in 40 Days’. To regular visitors to my blog, you may recall me mention my experience of using it before when I visited a fertility clinic (you can read the post here). 

Well today was the last day of the challenge. Have I seen miracles? Well that would depend on what you define a miracle to be. Have I seen a change? Hell yes – no matter what your definition of change is. I definitely have. 

My miracle was made up of a total shift in mindset and a huge step closer to living uncomfortably ME. Sounds pained. But I truly believe that those that follow their passion live a life that – at most times – is uncomfortable. 

There’s the fear of the unknown. Coupled with loud and invisible whispers from others. This can often lead us to choosing to live a compromised life – that we pass off as our truth!

I know this to be true as I did this. 

At the beginning of the challenge I asked for my miracle to be in the form of my businesses booming. 

I then spent the next 40 days taking 10mins in the morning to write my NON-gratitude list. I held back for the first few days but as I started to open up to myself and become vulnerable, what I was writing began to surprise me. This included not wanting to continue on the path I’d forged for myself for over 3yrs. 

I wrote that:

  • I was unhappy
  • I was bored
  • I was unmotivated
  • I was uninspired
  • I was on the wrong path

      I tried to fight the feelings as I really wanted to hold on to my Arbonne business. Hand on heart it is one of the most amazing things to happen in my life. After a week of scribing about ‘wanting to leave’ I asked myself the question: “Would I still be doing Arbonne if I won one million pounds?”. It was a strong No!!

      I finally accepted the message. I could see clearly that this chapter had come to an end. To stay – would be giving it approval to smother my dreams!

      A whole weight, which I didn’t know I was even carrying, was lifted. And for the first time in a long time – I was looking at the world from a different perspective. 

      I also knew the time was right to pursue my passion. One that I’ve never thought of as more than an ardent hobby. 

      I was going to be a writer!

      It scared me to actually admit that. I had no plan. No ideas. No clear vision. I just knew the time was right to write

      Telling people brought with it a rush of different feelings. With some it felt like I was breaking up with them. Others I felt like a quitter. One friend told me I was brave – which may seem like an odd comment to those that don’t understand the network marketing industry. 

      Because with Arbonne I’m working with friends. I’m part of a team. I have clear guidance. Great support. A path to follow. People leading the way. Leaving the security of all this to go into the unknown – was quite brave. 

      My passion brings with it the opposite. With my writing I am laid out bare. Each word I scribe uncovering a part of me. Leaving me naked and up for scrutiny!
      It scares the hell out of me – to even just admit I’m chasing a goal like this. 

      I am a writer. I’ve always known it.  As a child I loved to write but I didn’t believe someone like me could be a writer. So I wrote, mainly in secret, and slowly my dreams faded away. 

      There have been so many signs through the years – subtly telling me “you can do it”. Oportunities presented themselves – and I took them. 

      It was a sign when:

      • I won a poetry competition when I was 15.
      • I attended a creative writing course and was told that I had natural writing talent by the tutor. 
      • I fell into a job as a festival and gig reviewer.
      • I helped pay my way around South America by writing articles, reviews and bios for other people. This included a gig watching porn to write overviews of the videos! (lonely housewife turns sultry madam for the randy postman) – I kid you not!!

      But – pursue I didn’t. I retreated back to safety as:

      • I fear criticism
      • I fear rejection
      • I fear the unknown

      Yet here I am bypassing these fears – sharing more than I planned to in this blog. Which has actually been the biggest source of happiness I’ve had in my life for longer than I dare to remember. And also another sign that I can do it!

      I thank Arbonne for getting me where I am today. The increased confidence. The mindset shift. The promotions. For shining light and beauty on to my fears. 

      To all those folk that have already forged their own paths. To have made the decision to live each day in the painful unknowing. I am inspired by you! 

      For now I’m standing up. Being unashamedly me and telling the world (ahem – the few that read my blog) that:

      I – Emma Halliday – am a writer! 

      As I said at the beginning of this post. Living your passion is uncomfortable but now I’ve had a taste of it – I know it is so fucking worth it!

      Emma x

      P.s. Another fear and a weakness of mine is asking for help. So here goes….if you’ve liked this or any of my other posts. I would be utterly grateful if you could give them a share. 

      If you know someone who has a lead into scriptwriting, publishers, magazines etc. I would really welcome an introduction. 

      If you don’t ask the answer is always going to be no and I’m wanting a yes. Another sign that I’m on the write path!

      http://www.facebook.com/Hallidayshealthzone

      Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

      Loves and Losses

      After the heaviness of my last post I had made the decision to err on the light side. I had a post in my head all ready to be transformed into something that whilst still being vulnerable didn’t mean I needed tissues to accompany me. 

      That all changed when I decided to spend Bank Holiday Monday unpacking some boxes that had arrived from Leeds late last week. Boxes that had been stored patiently at my friend’s house since I moved to London. 

      As I hadn’t touched the items or missed them for over a year it was easy to rummage through and throw a lot of the once prized possessions away. I came across a newspaper and was puzzled as to why I was saving that – until I saw my friend’s face emblazoned across the front. A friend that is no longer on this earth. And I was struck. Paralysed. In shock. Upset at myself for having to question what the paper was, whilst reliving the sadness I first felt when I found out he’d passed. 

      No sooner had I recomposed myself that another memory of a lost soul entered my path via the form of a photograph. An old school friend. Then another and another and unfortunately another. I clearly should have marked this bag, so that I wouldn’t be confronted without warning of all the lives that had in some way touched my heart and left in it fragments of memories. Pieces of them!

      I actually broke down. I was performing an ugly loud shaking cry. Knelt on my bedroom floor, surrounded by funeral programmes and old photographs, nestled in with boxes of my past. 

      I let myself cry – I was home, alone and had no makeup on. That choking motion that occurs when forcing back the tears, gasping for breath wasn’t going to take place today. After a while, probably minutes – although my body was so drained it felt like longer. I continued searching through my stuff and my tears turned into laughter as I read an old school report. 

      I noted with interest just how quickly my emotions were able to switch from sadness to laughter. From wanting to make the most out of my life and not waste a spare moment to stopping, reminiscing and procrastinating. What I’d done in a matter of moments is what I realised I’ve done over and over again in my life. This is best explained by a note I wrote in my diary aged 15. 

      “My mother died in February – it was so sudden – not a lot of people know about it – I can’t bring myself round to tell them. All the family are coping as best they can. My whole life was turned upside down. She was so healthy one day, the next she had died. We have to look to the future now – and since my mother’s death she has made me realise that I should have fun now – as I’m only young once. I don’t care what people think about me no more – it’s my life and I will live it the way I want to live”

      And I did! Well……..for a few months until I started listening to the world telling me to live ‘normal’ and I started caring what people thought of me. I took 2 steps closer to living the life I wanted – and as the dust settled – 1 step back. This pattern continued with every tragedy – 2 steps closer – 1 step back. 

      Still I wasn’t going to write about this – about death and my vulnerability surrounding it. 

      But then it occurred to me that it would have been my Dad’s birthday today (Sunday 7th May) – and instantly I realised that this is what I was meant to write. 

      I have been to more funerals than I have weddings – the majority of them for people my age or younger. I’m 35 and have lost both my {foster} parents and yet I’m still vulnerable as fuck about death and dying! I see it and fear it most days. 

      In most cases, the more that you experience something the easier it becomes when faced with it the next time. Not with death. That shit hurts and there is no stopping the pain. 

      I continuously ache for all my friends that still have their parents or haven’t lost someone of significance. I step into their pain and I prematurely feel it for them. I walk past old people and it hurts and all I can think of is when are they going to take their last breath. Do they have someone to take care of them? My mind scans statistics and I wonder who’s funeral I’m going to be crying at next. Absolutely morbid! And such a tiring and strange way to be. 

      In addition to this, my fear has also had a personal effect on my life. I tend to put up barriers so people can’t fully get close to me. As the closer someone is the more it will hurt if I lose them. So what I’m actually doing is hurting myself – constantly – in anticipation of loss. I hold back love for fear of losing that love. Not a healthy way to be and as it’s my year of vulnerability and I want to make a shift in my life. I realise this habit I’ve acquired has to stop! It helps that I’m now actually aware of how I’ve being sabotaging parts of my life. 

      The worrying isn’t helpful as when the situation arises there is only one thing you can do and that is deal with it. Coping mechanisms come to the fore, adjustments to life are made and somehow you soldier on. 

      So now I’ve made it known that I have an issue with death I am on a quest to not let it run my thoughts and my life. 

      I started with a visit to Ted.com. There I watched and listened intently to 3 talks about death. Taking nuggets of wisdom from each video, the one that shined brightest was by Stephen Cave ‘The 4 stories we tell ourselves about death’. His closing words were like a warm hug – giving an alternative perspective. 

        “Now, I find it helps to see life as being like a book: Just as a book is bounded by its covers, by beginning and end, so our lives are bounded by birth and death, and even though a book is limited by beginning and end, it can encompass distant landscapes,exotic figures, fantastic adventures. And even though a book is limited by beginning and end, the characters within it know no horizons. They only know the moments that make up their story, even when the book is closed. And so the characters of a book are not afraid of reaching the last page. Long John Silver is not afraid of you finishing your copy of “Treasure Island.” And so it should be with us. Imagine the book of your life, its covers, its beginning and end, and your birth and your death. You can only know the moments in between, the moments that make up your life. It makes no sense for you to fear what is outside of those covers,whether before your birth or after your death. And you needn’t worry how long the book is, or whether it’s a comic strip or an epic. The only thing that matters is that you make it a good story.”

        To think of us all as books. Of differing sizes, genres and endings. This made death seem more poetic – easier to digest. Unfortunately, it is something that is going to happen to us all and me spending time thinking about it isn’t going to make the situation any easier when it happens.

        So it’s now time to take off my premature sympathy glasses, to uncover my heart and stop living life in the future. 

        Emma x

        This post is dedicated to my Poppa Bear – Leslie James Thompson. Your book came to an end and with it you have proved that my story still continues. 

        Results from the IAT 😶

        In my last post, Back to Black, I referred to a test called the Implicit Association Test. I said that I’d do it and feedback my results. 

        The IAT highlights hidden biases that we may have over certain things/people. 

        I completed the test with Project Implicit – a non-profit organisation. There are a series of free tests that you can take on their website including age, weight, disability, sexuality, race – which is the one that I took. 

        I was a little bit disheartened, a tad sceptical but not really surprised with the result. 

         

        Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for European Americans over African Americans.

        • The website explains that the automatic preference may be described as “slight”, “moderate”, “strong”, or “no preference”.

        A series of pictures (black and white faces) and words (good and bad) flashed up on my screen and I had to categorise them as instructed as quickly as possible. I couldn’t tell whilst doing the test how I was performing. 

        After reading more on the website about what the results mean (below) I actually felt better. 

        “The IAT shows biases that are not necessarily endorsed and that may even be contradictory to what one consciously believes. So, no, we would not say that such people are prejudiced. It is important to know, however, that implicit biases can predict behavior. If we want to treat people in a way that reflects our values, then it is critical to be mindful of hidden biases that may influence our actions.”

        I invite you to visit the site and take a test and let me know how you get on. 

        IAT Test

        Emma x

        Back to Black 🙋🏿

        I asked the universe for a sign of what I should put in the spotlight next for my year of vulnerability and over the course of the week I had numerous ideas skip by me. 

        There was the invitation that made it’s way to my inbox with an offer to do a couple of Brene Brown’s online courses. Well as she is one of the reasons I’ve decided to focus on vulnerability – that was a clear message. I was going to sign up and write about it, until…….

        An old school friend got in touch to remind me that “It’s been 10yrs since our school reunion and 20yrs since we’d actually left school and did I want to arrange another?” 20yrs and my brain still calculates in school years!! Does this ever stop? 

        My blogging clogs we’re going crazy as I was going to write about; having achieved nothing compared to others since leaving school, no children, no husband, no driving licence, no mortgage, no savings in the bank! Ooh this is it – I thought. Time to get vulnerable about life and the uncomfortable feelings that the school reunion has stirred up.  

        That was until yesterday when I picked up the book ‘Stupid White Men’. I had come across the book last year in a charity shop and started to read it immediately. A chapter in and for some reason I stopped – even though I was enjoying it. Yesterday, thinking about the next General Election, I was inclined to start reading it again. So I have Theresa May to honestly thank for that. 

        Devouring chapters on the train, I was taken aback when my heart joined my mind collaborating to take in the message. And there I was. Sat on a Virgin train from Birmingham to London – and I’m crying. To a Michael Moore book that is almost 16years old! I’m shedding tears on the train and I’m asking for forgiveness. This message is too strong to run from now and I am asking for forgiveness that I haven’t faced the fact that – I am black!

        I’m not coloured blind. I know my skin colour but I’ve never embraced it. Preferring to focus on my personality, my soul and everything else but! Not wanting to be judged by my colour and not wanting to add more ammunition to my ‘token black’ crown – it being a more unspeakable topic than saying the word cunt. 

        But this book sang out and I got the message that I am hiding my race so much that it’s time the vulnerability spotlight shone on me. Shone on my dark skin – my black features and for once staying at surface level – shining a light on my black casing. 

        I was brought up with a white family in the 80’s and we never discussed my colour. I was a part of the family – and that was that. I always laugh when my friend tells me about when she came round to mine for the first time and my dad answered the door. My old white dad. This gave her a surprise as I’d never mentioned it – I didn’t even think to. Yes, I’d experienced small boughts of racism and received ample confused stares but apart from that my life was solid. So I grew up on the privilege tightrope – basically my head was buried in the sand.

        As I’m here to be honest, I’m going to admit that when I was younger I gave most black people a wide berth as the media portrayed them us as dangerous, poor, helpless, trouble causers, thieves……(insert stereotypical comment here). I was confused as that didn’t relate to me but I did see it in others. 

        I got bullied for my dark skin at school………by a black boy, rejected and put down in front of a group of kids by another. The 2 fights I’ve had in my life were at the wrath of black girls, I hated getting my hair done as all the hairdressers I went to when I was younger were rude. I just couldn’t see myself as ‘one of them’. So I built my bubble and tried to disassociate myself! 

        I actually didn’t realise I was doing this at the time and thankfully I grew out of that but as the memories come marching in – it hurts. 

        The dots have connected behind me and I’m in pain 

        and I’m embarrassed 

        and I’m crying 

        and I’m asking for forgiveness. 

        The many actions that I’ve undertaken to protect myself come flooding back to me:

        • Speaking out loud when I felt uncomfortable in a situation where I’m the only black person so people could hear my accent. My strong, born and bred, Yorkshire tones.
        • In a quest to fit in (outside of my family and close knit friendships) I secretly bought some whitening soap that would lighten my skin. If I was going to be black, I could be a few shades lighter! Thank god that didn’t last unfortunately some women are still scrubbing and bleaching themselves to this day. 
        • Holding in my anger so not to be judged as ‘an angry aggressive black woman’ or ‘diva’. 
        • Being upbeat and smiley in public even if I didn’t feel like it – because it hurt to be labelled ‘a black girl with attitude’ for having a down day. 

        I did know I was black though – there were many episodes to remind me of that. Like the time that I met a guy at my local bar and went back to his for a night cap. No sooner had the drink been poured than his mother appeared at the living room door. Taking one look at the situation (boy on sofa – space – girl on sofa) and she left the room – hurtling up the stairs to shout “There’s a black girl in the living room!” This was not in the deep American South in the 50’s – this was 90’s North Leeds! I cursed the twat of a guy that dared to take me into such a toxic place and before slamming the door thanked his cock blocking mum for making me understand the world that little bit better. 

        But then I had my white family, my white and asian friends and so many good people surrounding me that the horrific experience became a story and another layer of numb that I didn’t know I was wearing. 

        Yesterday’s train journey thawed me out. And I cried as Michael Moore talked about the hidden racism that African-American’s are faced with on a daily basis in America. As statistics jumped off the page into my eyes, I realised that now was the time for me to stand up and fully embrace who I am. Yes I would rather people see me as Emma first and I have been fortunate enough for that to happen on most occasions. But this isn’t about just me. It’s about others that deserve fairness, justice, a chance and better opportunities – and I need to lend my voice to theirs. Not to flash the race card but to actually highlight the hidden racism that snakes through the world and seeps itself unconsciously in to people’s minds. Like it seeped into mine. 

        Before reading ‘Stupid White Men’ I read ‘Blink‘ by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book Malcolm states that many people of all races are unconsciously biased to black people and they don’t even realise it. He mentions a test called the IAT (Implicit Association Test) where the majority of people who complete it have an automatic preference to white people – black people included. Malcolm Gladwell himself completed the test on numerous occasions and kept leaning to the white. Despite being born to a black mother and white father. I’m going to do the test myself so will feedback on that. I read page after page of how the unconscious mind even if just for a split second will judge on the appearance and parts of me ached. 

        I ached because I know deep down I’ve missed out on jobs because of the way that I looked. I ached because I know that certain guys won’t even take a second look at me because my colour is alien to them – fuck my personality! I ached because I know that every single year without fail someone will call me either Serena or Venus when Wimbledon is on. If I actually looked like one of them I would get called it all year round – like I do with Whoopie Goldberg (which I’ve finally made my peace with)! Whilst I know that these throwaway thoughts, comments and unconscious actions aren’t done with malice or said with racist undertones, they can’t help but create invisible barriers and fractured mindsets. 

        For example, when I visit new places (countries – cities) before I can fully relax I scan the streets looking for a black face so that I can let my guard down knowing I’m not the only one. When watching TV shows or films, I am wound up tightly when a black person is on the screen – worrying how they’re going to be portrayed. In the back of my mind I knew I did this but didn’t realise the significance until now. I put it down to me being sensitive or too politically correct. When in all honesty this shit needs to stop and I’m saying now – this is NOT okay.  

        Tears stream down my face as I realise what I have to do. I have to finally break free from my protective bubble and play my part in re-painting the stereotype. Unmute myself from the injustices that are happening in the world and confidently stand up tall. 

        But before I even get to that, the first stage is to actually love the black lass I see in the mirror. All of her. Not just what’s on the inside but the beautiful ebony skin that I live in!

        Love Emma x

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