Motherhood – a rant! (Part 1)

[This read is a longer one. I read through it in 8mins and it’s my work – so I’d say give yourself 10mins]

I’ve read a couple of things of late that have made me so angry. Usually when I come across something that makes my blood boil, I keep my thoughts buried.

But sometimes silence isn’t enough.

I know it’s because I’ve been looking at the issues I’m about to raise through a personal lens. It’s also been triggered due to my family’s recent visit to London to stay with me last weekend.

I’m all for a debate, they’re vital – when carried out correctly as rarely is anything black and white.

Well that should say, I’m all up for people debating and voicing their opinions. I’m usually stood at the side-lines winning imaginary heated discussions which miraculously open people’s minds.

Whenever I do actually voice my opinions – in the real world, not Emma Land! I try to be as open-minded as possible, leaning in from different angles, willing to be swayed. I also bring my personal experience into the fold wherever possible.

So when reading points of view that could only possibly come from people who hadn’t actually spent time thinking about the issue. From people who are so far removed from the topic at hand that they may as well have been from another planet.

Well….that’s when my words won over my silence!

My Gripe

A study was shared on Facebook that showed women were waiting later in life to have children and that it is no longer classed as such a high risk to have a baby after 35 years old, which in the medical world was coined a ‘geriatric pregnancy’.

Heavily scattered between posts from mothers that were in their late 30’s and early 40s, who shared pictures of their healthy newborns with beaming descriptions of how happy they were. There were ignorant one liners, criticism and comments that could only cause pain.

People saying that these women were selfish, because:

  • children should have young/energetic mothers
  • older mothers will die earlier than younger mothers

There were even comments saying that if they wanted children and couldn’t have them by a certain age, then they should have adopted earlier, as there are plenty of children that need a home.

As my thumb continued to scroll through the vitriol from young women, people who were already blessed with children and men, oh so many men – I could feel my jaw clench and noticed my breathing had changed. Oh yes, I had just entered into seething mode.

I’m not the type of person to jump in and feed the trolls on social media sites. Although I have done once before and what I said actually made an impact and led to the person who wrote the cruel message to delete it. Hmmm maybe I could be a social media superhero! I may share this story in another post but right now I don’t want to digress from this issue close to my heart.

So I put aside my iPad, since my 3mth break I only access Facebook on my iPad which I keep at home, and made my self a cup of tea! Us Brits!

Nerves calmed. Seriously, a cuppa is like timeout for adults! I tried to view the points from their perspectives.

I got it. From a surface level view-point. A flat one-dimensional point of view.

Topics like these deserve attention. Not a quick throwaway comment before moving on to join a discussion on whether ‘cheese and onion’ or ‘salt and vinegar’ are better crisp flavours.

Before these people mindlessly typed their response had they actually considered:

  • speaking to someone who had an older mother or was an older mother?
  • that there are many mothers with health issues that although young, they too don’t have the energy?
  • that many children may have lost a young parent? Death doesn’t just visit the elderly.

So, I’m stepping forward with my personal experience.

I was brought up by older parents, they were 50 years my senior. Not only that but they were white too, this post isn’t about the difference in our skin colour, but you can read about that here Back to Black 🙋🏿

I loved my parents for who they were and spending time with my family this weekend reminded me how lucky I was, to be loved and to be wanted.

I’d be a liar if I said that having them as parents was always amazing. I have vague images of me trying to run away when I was about seven, suitcase packed I made it to the end of the street before forgetting why I was running away. Then I became a teenager with a penchant for banging doors whilst working out the strange changes to my mind and body – I didn’t very much like anyone!

There was also the time I was left embarrassed when my mum got barred from a pet shop. A bloody pet shop! I’d wanted a Guinea Pig so bad and she wanted me to have one. Having a disagreement in the pet shop my mum got told never to return. I’m not sure if that was before or after she told them to go: ‘Fuck your penguins’.

That story, whilst embarrassing then, and I wasn’t even there – makes me feel all warm with happy memories now. My family when together always reminisce about how they were. You see, my parents have both passed away, my Mum when I was 15 and my Dad when I was 23. Keeping the memories alive is all we have left.

It really upsets me that someone who hasn’t lived my life is dictating from the side-line that as older parents that they didn’t deserve me.

To think people would have  preferred that I didn’t have the opportunity to have a great upbringing and spend quality time with my parents. To block me from being shaped into the person that I am now. To not have the chance to have silly fun times with my crazy family, who are still here (pic below) just because my parents were older. Now that hurts!

img_4052 Of course I wasn’t ready for them to die but at any age they would have gone too soon. No matter what age someone you love dies, it will always break your heart.

I’m 36years old and I’ve been broody since I can remember. So the comments did feel like a personal attack on me. I’m often left doing ‘relationship + time x age – baby’ math and it weighs heavy on mind without even adding other people’s opinions into the sum!

I wonder how many women also reading the post felt like a selfish person, regardless of their background, their story? And how many will have thought twice about having a baby, due to these critics? That also hurts!

And for people to throw adoption into the ring like it’s the easy solution. Clearly they don’t know how hard it is for someone to actually get approved to adopt. My parents tried to adopt me, apparently going through court (I was too young to remember) but they were too old and white to be able to. Times have changed slightly but I know that it is still a tough process to go through.

I have always said that due to my upbringing I would like to adopt or foster children and that’s still the case. But I also have a deep yearning to experience the feeling of being pregnant, having the miracle of life growing inside me. And there is no way I’m going to let any naysayers derail me from that.

If a woman’s body wasn’t meant to have children after 35years old, then why is it capable of doing so?

I also want to know where the opinionated mob are when the men that are over 35 have children? Just because women carry the babies, why should they get all the stick? There are so many older fathers and minimum eyelids batted their way. Age is age and a parent is a parent.

This leads very nicely on to the second issue. I was going to rant about some ridiculous stats I’d seen and some seriously nasty badmouthing about single mothers. Women in the firing line – yet again! That shall be for a future post, I need to drink a lot more tea before I conquer this one.

If you’ve been guilty of airing your views on this topic without really thinking and looking into it, then I beg of you to take some time to look at different sides of the story. Indeed, I’m sure there are people who also have the personal experience and don’t agree with having children at a later age. You may come out of it with the same opinion and that’s okay, you’re allowed to but at least you’re wiser on the topic.

Before you become a keyboard warrior remember that the person who may happen across your post is a human, has feelings and has their reasons.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday  If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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It’s the 3 month countdown……

We are in October! I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve overheard people baffled by the month we’re now in. As if they were unaware that it was the month that follows September, which they were also shocked at when it came around.

I can’t believe it’s [insert month] already!

I laugh and take the piss but I am guilty of these conversations too. But seriously, how did we get to October so fast?

With three months left of 2017 I thought it would be a great time to review where I am with my year of vulnerability. Plus, I didn’t really have another topic that I necessarily wanted to write about. Writer’s block if you will! Hence not writing for over a week!

So I read my first ever post on my blog My year of vulnerability 😳 – it was basically about being single – and not wanting to be. And wanting to do better with my business.

10 months into the year and…….

  • I’m still single –  although at the time of writing this post (22.40pm on 2nd October), I have a date tomorrow.
  • I no longer have a business. Nor do I long to have one at the moment. You can read more about my change of heart and letting go of my business goals here – The write path 📝

This makes me laugh, not out loud though, okay I’m exaggerating slightly, I’m not laughing, I’m smirking – as a part of me thought having a blog as a platform to be vulnerable was like stumbling across Aladdin’s lamp, and that in the year to follow I would have ticked off my wants:

img_3986 But there was no Aladdin’s lamp – which I am grateful for. As if I’d have got what I thought I wanted, that ‘surface-level’ want, I would have been working on a business that wasn’t right for me and who knows what type of boyfriend the lamp would have brought me – shudder!m grateful because having this blog has unearthed in me a strength and courage I didn’t realise I had. I still get clammy palms and a racing heart every time I press ‘publish’ to release another part of my private thoughts, worries, dreams BUT I also take a step closer to appreciating who I am.

img_5971 During my three month hiatus from Facebook my posts became braver, more raw and my following increased. I now have 57 followers! Which isn’t many in the world of blogging but it means everything to me.

These followers are people I didn’t know before I started my blog. They cheer me on, they support my journey and sometimes a part of what I say resonates with them. If you’re reading this post dear follower – thank you! ❤️

I am also grateful of conversations that have taken place following posts that I’ve made. Conversations that would probably not have happened if I’d kept my thoughts to myself.

When I write I’m not only finding out more about myself but I’m finding out about others too and I know that I’m not on this journey alone.

I never expected to talk openly about losing loved ones, my anxiety and panic attacks, racism, feeling lonely, ugly, stupid…….etc. Like I said at the beginning it was surface level stuff.

I’m so pleased I scratched the surface and have kept on scratching, revealing parts of myself I’ve shielded for too long. As this blog has made something shift inside me and it warms my heart that it has inspired others too.

Who knows what will happen as the final months roll in? Maybe my knight in shining armour will come but if he doesn’t it really doesn’t matter. As it is no longer about that. It has never really been about that.

It’s about me finding happiness in ‘being me’ – unapologetically me!

I’ve also realised that the name of my blog, although catchy, if I do say so myself, is a tad misleading as vulnerability isn’t a {year} destination, it is an ongoing continuous journey.

I’ve signed up to this bad boy for life!

Until the next post. Cheers!

img_1704 Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday  If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

Filling the void one book at a time!

[This post is a 5 minute read]

Ever since I left the comfortable bosom of Network Marketing my focus has changed. I’m heading into a new direction. Unknown territories.

I feel free. In fact the only time I’ve felt this free [as an adult] was when I embarked on a 15mth travelling stint to South America and New Zealand.

This isn’t a dig at my past, network marketing was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It set me on a path that has led me to where I am. On the journey I not only met some truly wonderful people but I picked up an arsenal of skills and read some really valuable personal development books.

Once I closed the door to living my life in that environment, I suddenly felt many of the those books were redundant. I had no interest in how I should ‘Speak about my product’, ‘How to hustle’, ‘What successful people do’ and a plethora of other similar titles.

There was also a void where my vision once was. With network marketing although it hadn’t made a huge dent in my dreams, I knew what the end looked like. I knew what was possible and I knew it would be possible. I’d seen it happen.

My new dream leaves me questioning what my future is going to be. There’s no 5-year plan or step-by-step guide to success. Success leaves clues in many businesses but looking into writing the clues are scattered and what works for one person, dramatically fails for others. Will I ever make it? What does make it even look like? Will I only be a success and be able to live a comfortable life if I reach the heights of JK Rowling?

My reading habits have also changed since embarking on my new path. I’m reading more fiction and autobiographies instead of books that are constantly about enforcing change on you.

I read. I’m in awe. Then I’m scared. Then the doubts scuttle in. The way the authors manipulate the text, play with style, structure and pluck out words that I barely understand leaves me asking:

“What chance do I really have?”

I feel a tad relieved knowing that I’m still at the starting blocks. I haven’t figured out the ‘Author’ in me just yet and there are a lot of avenues I want to visit BUT at the same time I feel a sense of dread. As my ‘perfectly painted’ future has been white-washed over, leaving a sticky unclear residue with fragments of doubt, fears, envy and bewilderment.

But I have my books and I’m getting lost in them. Aside from reading some collection of short stories my focus has been on reading books from black Authors.

The reason I decided to this is because I have never embraced being ‘black’. Yes, I acknowledge I’m black but I don’t talk about it, research into my history, or even have that many black friends. I was brought up in a white family, in a white working class area and watched re-runs of films and TV shows with white actors in the lead and bit part actors in token ‘black’ roles. I talk more about this in my post – Back to Black 🙋🏿

From the top of my head I didn’t know many black authors so the first book I picked up was Maya Angelou’s first volume of her autobiography. Before I could delve into it I had to read a specific book as part of the ‘book club’ I attend.

Well the Universe certainly wanted to help me, as I found out when I started to read the book, the author was a black man. Paul Beatty’s – ‘The Sellout’, is a satire look at racism in the present day and how one man reinstates segregation and slavery. It was a book that was hard to read but nicely broken up with laugh out loud parts. It definitely made me think and question the way some things are.

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I finished Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ yesterday and WOW! It blew me away. With her words I got trapped into her world. The dark side of her growing up, mixed with her adventures and the thorn in my side, which drew constant tears on my commute to work, the out here racism she saw and endured. It made for a hard but a much needed read.

One of the lines that I read over and over again was a conversation Maya’s 13year old brother had with his Uncle:

“Uncle Willie. Why do they hate us so much?”

Uncle Willie muttered “They don’t really hate us. They don’t know us. How can they hate us? They mostly scared”

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Those words made me cry then and typing them out, made me just cry again. Yes, the past is the past but it dictates our future and it’s still got a strangle hold on us. So I’m reading these books to stop being ignorant, to try and understand and maybe just maybe something I write will help dictate a brighter future.

The final book I want to touch on is one that I received for my birthday back in July. Some of my girlfriends chipped in to buy me a few gifts and one of them was another nod from the Universe.

‘Bad Feminist’ – a book by a black author, Roxanne Gay. I just started reading it today and this woman is awesome! In her essays she touches on being black, having immigrant parents [raised in America], being a woman and as the title suggest being a feminist, albeit a bad one!

She talks about things other people daren’t and I can already see that I am going to be a big fan of hers. And start to speak up more about issues that matter. One thing at a time……

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One thing at a time………

One step at a time………

That’s all it takes. Reminding myself of this reaffirms that I’m on the right path, even though that path may be a dirt track, full of talented writers or full of wrong turns with no end in sight.

I am where I’m meant to be.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday 

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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Two additional books by black authors that are next on my list.

Learning to go with the flow…..

This afternoon I got back from my first (but hopefully not last) holiday of the year. I’ve come back to England with so many Greek goodies, a body full of mosquito bites, an urge to put toilet paper in the bin and the same amount of tiredness that I left with.

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Boarding the small plane to Ikaria

I had visions of my holiday not only been an escape away from the daily grind but a chance to totally unwind, de-stress, catch up on sleeping and getting stuck into a book.

I didn’t sleep much and of the two books and a magazine that I took with me, I only read a few articles from the latter.

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Okay – I got some sleep 🙂

But……I had a fantastic time. When things don’t usually go to plan, my initial response is to stress then try and make it right immediately. I think the magical Island of Ikaria, where the locals are so relaxed – they’re horizontal, made me chill out and go with the flow.

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The one hour uphill walk in the blazing sun was so worth it.

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I dropped the guilt and instead had a break from my life, from:

  • fretting about not writing every day
  • worrying about what my next step is on my writing path
  • meditating and reading
  • going crazy about my future
  • this blog and wondering how I was going to build up my followers

I just let it all go and I became part of the Island. There’s a reason why Ikaria is one of the five ‘blue zones’ in the world {places where people live longer}.

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Stunning port – Evdilos

Standing at the corner of a dusty road, we hitchhiked back to our friend’s village after a day at the beach. I left my angst at the door as I was fed by my friend’s Ikarian in-laws, exchanging smiles and nods instead of worrying about the language barrier. I enjoyed the wind in my face and the thrill of riding the back of a moped across winding narrow roads during a tour of some of the island.

The holiday has been a much needed reminder to stop loading myself with so many ‘must do’s’ and ‘expectations’.

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A day at the beach before hitchhiking back to the village

It also gave me the much needed nudge in the direction of booking a solo holiday where I can read, write, meditate and do other activities that I’ve been longing for. The thought of a solo holiday fills me with fear, even though I have travelled on my own before. I’m sure it’s just like riding a bike and once I set off, I’ll remember how much I enjoy it.

I have two nights to catch up on sleep before I go back to work and I’ve decided to bring a bit of Ikaria into my work life and not fret too much as the work piles up.

Going with the flow is so much easier than struggling against the tide so it’s really a no brainer.

I’ll keep you posted on where I decide to go on my solo jaunt.

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Last night in Athens. Having a drink at a bar that overlooked the Acropolis.
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View of the Acropolis

Emma x

If you’ve liked this or any other of my posts, please feel free to like, share or comment 🙂

 

 

A follow on to ‘I’ve got a confession to make’

In my post I’ve got a confession to make! I gave myself a challenge.

That was to ask a guy, who I have taken a shine to, out for a drink. Make it known that I like him.

After declaring to the world my blog that I was going to bite the bullet and just ask, I had days to wait until I had the opportunity.

And those days dragged.

And my imagination went wild.

And I was going to back down.

But………I did it!

It was my initial plan to ask him face to face but partly due to fears, partly due to not wanting to put him in an awkward position and partly to do with some other obstacles, I couldn’t find the right moment.

I left feeling like a failure and had a huge cloud of uncertainty clogging my mind, which to be fair could have quite easily been the alcohol! But that’s when I knew, I had to tell him.

So I sent a text.

A text felt like the easy way out so I still felt like a failure but hey, I figured, I’m a writer – that’s the way I work. Plus the only awkward silence I would have to deal with is the silence of my phone.

And the cloud began to disperse.

I didn’t get the answer I was looking for (in other words, it was a polite No’) but I got so much more.

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I had broken the curse of ‘not putting myself out there’ and the rejection didn’t sting as much as the regret would have.

So as I sit typing this blog with a smile on my face and a Bloody Mary by my side (I’m going to Notting Hill Carnival shortly), I now know that closure tastes so much sweeter than ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder’.

Therefore, I shall continue on my asking path!

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A quote from Danielle LaPorte which is so fitting.

Oh, and another thing – I am pleased to say that I haven’t had any more crazy thoughts about ironing!

Emma x

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emmalouhalliday/

p.s. If you like this, or any other of my posts, please do comment, like or share 🙂

 

I need some Space!

My head is a mess!

That’s how I feel when I allow clutter to take control of me.

As I’ve been non-stop for almost two weeks, I’ve felt too tired to do anything when I finally get home each evening. Especially tidying up!

The effect is a messy desk, chair and shelves and an even messier mind.

I haven’t got the neat freak trait but at the same time I hate mess!

When tasks become too big I get overwhelmed and have to run for cover. Adding extra layers of clutter I have to tidy up and in turn extra layers of unnecessary stress.

So my August focus of space is needed more than ever.

My aim is:

  • to declutter and get rid of the things I’ve accumulated. I’m a magnet to paper, bags, broken jewellery and unfinished creative projects.
  • not to say ‘Yes’ to every invitation going.

Basically let go of the things that no longer serve me.

Every object or worry I get rid of will hopefully clear space in my bedroom, calendar and head.

I recently read ‘Stuffocation’ a book which explores the clutter crisis that has hit the world.

Through stories and research the author delves into the effect that owning lots of ‘stuff’ can have on people.

There are insights from people who have let go of owning so much ‘stuff’ to become minimalists.

Although I’m not going to go that extreme, I can definitely see the benefits. Plus, I’ve got to a time in my life where I feel less is more and I’d rather invest in worthwhile items.

The throwaway culture also makes me feel bad for the planet. This has definitely intensified since moving to London and seeing items discarded on the street more often.

I know the time is right to downsize as I’m constantly questioning:

  • Do I need these t-shirts, that I don’t even deem good enough to wear in bed, clogging up space in my wardrobe?
  • Will I read the books that I picked up from a charity shop just because I recognised the author and it was 10p?
  • Will I fix the hole in the dress I’m not sure I actually like or will even fit into again?

Straightforward answer = no!

I’m trying to hold on to the past and hold on to old dreams?

All this is doing holding me back.

I’m aiming to keep one evening a week and one weekend day a month free to relax. To do nothing. To give my mind the space it needs. Promising any more time than this and I know I’ll fail.

But the stuff. Yeah – that’s got to go! I have photos that provide me with memories and I have new dreams to conquer.

Writing this blog post has already made me start to feel good. I’ll have more of that please!

I’ve finished reading ‘Stuffocation’ so if anyone (from the UK) would like me to send them the book. Give us a shout. First come first served.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on clutter and any tips you have to see me through the month (which, if I’m honest is going to probably continue into September).

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

It’s time to FOCUS on August!

“Oh July August. What’s happened to you? You used to be so bright and have such a warmth about you. Now you’re miserable, keeping me in the dark, trying to dampen my spirits. I understand that change is good – but come on!”

This has been my conversation on most days when I leave my house burdened with a coat and umbrella. Hey, what can I say? I’m English, we love to moan about the weather.

Once I’m satisfied that I have given the weather we are currently having in England enough air time, my thoughts move onto what I’m going to focus on in August.

The words Generosity and Space rained down on me (excuse the pun), making me look at ways I could incorporate them into my goals for the month.

I would say that I’m a fairly generous person. I donate to three charities a month, always tips, give my spare change to buskers and the homeless, love to gift friends and spend a lot of my free time visiting family/friends. So I was quite surprised that generosity was a strong contender. Until I looked deeper. As all of these things are second nature to me, they don’t push me forward to be more vulnerable.

How could I make being generous bring me out of my comfort zone and in turn give me valuable life lessons?

An email provided one of the answers. I was going to spend a full week volunteering at the youth centre I usually volunteer for 3hrs a week at. I wanted vulnerable and I got more than I bargained for – so much more!!

My volunteering uniform for the week!

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I am a ‘people pleaser’ and I ‘like to be liked‘. Well not this week……I became Miss Moany Pants. Constantly telling the young people off, asking them to respect the guys running the session and each other. Most of the time I opened my mouth it was to tell them to be quiet or to watch their words. I was a different me, it was tiring and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Looking back. After I had a large drink. Or two! And some time away from them. Away from my constant nagging. I realised that it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. What the theatre company and the young people put together in a week was wonderful.

I stepped away from my normal self and by becoming vulnerable, I developed more in character. I discovered things about me that I didn’t know before. I threw aside my shyness battles to be able to support the young people with their insecurities. I got through the days without raising my voice, I didn’t let grudges grow or use passive aggressive means to protect myself. I used my skills to highlight their strengths – of which they had plenty. It really was a money can’t buy experience.

I already respected teachers, youth and social workers but WOW – I commend any one who spends so much of their time working with young people.

Another way I looked at being generous was with dating. To be generous with my choices and to not be ruled by physical attraction.

Last week I had a long overdue catch up with one of my best-friends from childhood. Of course the conversation turned to dating. And my lack of it.

She told me how she used to go for what she perceived to be her ‘type’ and how it would lead to nothing but heartache. Until one day her friend told her to cast her net wider, give other guys a chance. Taking those words on board she met someone who wasn’t her ‘type’ on paper. Almost three years later she is happier than she’s ever been.

I love and respect this friend so when she suggested I try OKCupid, as a few of her good friends had met their long time partners on there. It wasn’t long until I downloaded the app. Taking the time to thoroughly complete the profile and answer as many of the questions that didn’t make me cringe or shudder! Yes, I do have a blog that’s about being open and vulnerable. No I don’t want to answer questions about sexual positions and fantasies.

6 days in and I’ve had 635 likes and 52 messages! So my ego has been dancing around, feeling flattered that so many guys have liked me. I in return have responded to two messages. TWO! Online dating is so time consuming and in my defence I’ve been silly busy the past week, hence not blogging for sometime. I also don’t like to lead people on, in the past I’ve responded saying ‘thank you, but you’re not my type’ which then led to more messages, stealing more time. Still – I can’t help feeling bad and maybe I will respond to them all.

In all honesty I’m also still struggling with giving someone a chance online that I’m not attracted to. I don’t view myself as a shallow person – maybe I am? BUT meeting someone in person is different. You get to know them, see their quirks. Just like my friend did.

I’m not giving up just yet. I deserve to be generous to myself and to others. So baby steps. I’m going to take time to read some profiles and respond to the ones that make me smile regardless of the profile picture that occupies it. Wish me luck.

So I don’t take up too much space in this post (oh yeah the puns keep on coming). I’m going to post about my other focus in another blog post, later this week.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.