Will it Ever be Acceptable?

My family will tell you that I never have been the kind of woman who possesses the urge to push a human out of my uterus. In fact, I’m 99% positive that I ovulate sand.

Don’t get me wrong, I like children, I find them an endless source of entertainment and more often than not they’re on a far similar wave length to me than some, ok most adults. But babies on the other hand, scare the living daylights out of me.

I clearly missed the gene which is responsible for the broody behaviour my friends tell me about, and ever since my uni days I knew I’d sooner have a menagerie of animals than humans. I’ve never had a “tingly uterus” whilst hanging on for dear life to a baby that’s desperately trying to wriggle free from my grasp like some sort of living slinky. I tend to be more focused on surreptitiously trying to disguise the fear and cluelessness on my face in front of their parent than wondering if the look of motherhood suits me.

I’m not alone in this knowledge either, babies can sense it too because as soon as I hold one – related to me or not and regardless of age – you can’t count to three before it’s started screaming in my arms and making a desperate bid for freedom. It’s as guaranteed as night follows day, I’d bet my house on it every time.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been the subject of my fair share of judgement over the years but, surprisingly to me, I’ve experienced it in both my city and my country lives.

Now, of everything I’ve ever written about, this is for sure the trickiest subject – I can’t avoid the stigma around not wanting to use a functioning uterus, the feeling of guilt when discussing my choice because there are some women (who I really do truly feel for) would swap a limb for it and I certainly can’t avoid the labels.

Oh the labels! I’ve been called everything under the sun – selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, unfit for marriage. I’ve been accused of going against nature’s plan or God’s will. but let me ask you something, just because I have a uterus, does that mean I need to use it to it’s maximum cababilities?

I have a perfectly functioning left arm but if I used it to it’s full potential, I’d sure as sh*t be in prison right now or at the very least have a number of GBH charges against me as the desire to punch insufferable people in the throat just comes so easily to me…“But it’s nature’s plan!!” 🤷🏼‍♀️

Alas, over the years I’ve refrained from causing bodily harm and instead resorted to dry wit and sarcasm. Not that this approach went down particularly well with the country set…not sure they ever fully understood my humour as a barrier to avoid unwelcome conversations foisted upon me against my will regarding my own reproductive organs.

But to be fair, it was pretty much expected from a bunch of people who have, quite frankly, struggled to keep up with societal changes that have been widely accepted elsewhere in the country (and the rest of the modern world) over the last 5 decades. There are people I met in Wiltshire who would honestly still perceive sheep shagging as more acceptable than homosexuality or being transgender. Truly baffling.

What surprised me most though was the second degree judgement from new city people that I’ve experienced lately now that I’m in another serious relationship. Apparently it’s acceptable to not want a baby whilst you’re single, but if you don’t suddenly become a walking uterus that’s desperate to get knocked up the minute you’re happy and comfortable, then clearly something’s wrong with you!

I don’t know which form of judgement I dislike more to be honest with you, at least the bloody bumpkins are consistent in their judgemental approach to modern women. Whereas with certain city folk, they lull you into the false sense of security that you’re apparently accepted…but only in certain circumstances!

So I’ve found myself wondering on more than one occasion – and more often than I care to admit, with the wonderful (long overdue) huge leaps forward in finally normalising so many of society’s stigmatised outliers…is the happily settled woman who doesn’t want to procreate the last species left to be truly accepted?

Until next time…

@citygirlcountrylife_

Imposter Syndrome, BIG TIME

Firstly I need to apologise for not writing a blog since bloody December…where the hell has time gone in this lockdown?! But secondly, I think I’ve finally built up the courage to talk about something that’s been weighing on my mind and I wasn’t sure I should or even could.

This requires a bit of back story…rewind the clock by about a month when I received a very out of the blue message from a wonderful woman I worked with at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon back in 2018, asking me if I had any Tokyo plans. Of course I don’t, barely anyone in the world does right now!

Well, off the back of this message a very surreal conversation was had about whether I would even be available to act as a last minute stand in Deputy Media Manager for equestrian sport, let alone be a suitable one. Not for a second did I think I’d be offered the role, but I spoke to my CEO anyway to see if 6 weeks away was at all feasible.

For those of you that can’t see what’s coming, thanks to an amazing company agreeing to my leave request and after lengthy talks and a couple of interviews with the Tokyo Olympic Committee, I was actually offered the role. O.M.G. 🤯

Of course I’m absolutely buzzing, what an incredible experience! But then as I start to tell my nearest and dearest, at a time when I’m supposed to be on a total high, I get hit by a huge wave of doubt…what are people in the equestrian industry going to say about me getting the role over someone else? Do I even deserve it? Jesus, what was I thinking?? I’m not good enough for this!

And it stops me in my tracks: shame, self-doubt and almost embarrassment. I can’t share this news with my peers, they’ll all be judging me behind my back – “why did she get it? Surely she’s not experienced enough. It should have gone to [so and so].”

In amongst the shame, was the thought “I shouldn’t share this with people who know me, it’ll come across as bragging and make me sound so big headed. Not what you want when you don’t even deserve the role in the first place.”

What was weirder was that I felt more comfortable sharing the news with a bunch of total strangers on my blog’s Instagram page than I did telling people who knew me, people who (I’d hope anyway!😉) actually like me. Because I didn’t have to worry about their opinions, they don’t know if I’m capable or not. Bizarre how the brain works hey?

So, obviously, I gave myself another good talking to, kicked my own butt like no one else could and decided to bloody well practice what I preach – be unapologetically Amy.

I completely acknowledge the critics in the back row telling me how they can do it better, there’s no getting away from them. To ignore them would be both ignorant and arrogant in equal measures.

But know this, whatever they say can’t be any worse than the things I’ve said to myself already…and I’ve survived those, so anything else thrown my way should be an absolute breeze!

Yes there are people with more experience, there are people with more equestrian knowledge who have been immersed in the sport for as many decades as I’ve been alive. But I can bet your arse none of them can walk into a media centre at 7am and just get sh*t done with a smile for 15 hours straight whatever it takes.

Yes, it might be with the aid of copious amounts of coffee in the morning and a fair quantity of rum as 10pm hits and we’re still going strong, but I’m still there smiling and cracking jokes, and I’d like to think the rest of the team will be grateful for that when we’re in various states of despair.

Some call me solutions driven, I call it a JFGID attitude (just f**king get it done), either way it’s a seemingly transferable skill and serves me well.

I know I wasn’t the first choice, I wasn’t even the second, but someone must have enjoyed working with me and seen some level of capability to recommend me for such a job. That level of confidence in my ability from someone that knows what they’re talking about means a lot, and I shouldn’t disregard that.

So, here I am finally admitting that I’ve got this incredible opportunity, I’m sure as sh*t not going to screw it up and, quite frankly, I’m a little bit proud of myself.

Until next time…

@Citygirlcountrylife_

An Ode to Wiltshire

Well, you could certainly say that my time in Wiltshire has been a game of two halves. There’s no denying the joy this beautiful place has brought me over the last 6 years, but it would be remiss not to acknowledge the tougher times too.

Both have equally helped cement my identity further as “unapologetically Amy” (those who know me may wish to replace that with “stubborn b*tch”) as well as highlight an absolutely exceptional bunch of friends who have been there to share with me both the good times and the bad.

Despite desperately missing London like some sort of highly addictive drug during my time here, I will miss certain elements bumpkin life. Belonging to a group of people who passionately care about being stewards of our Great British countryside being one of them, but I can’t deny the struggle I had with the small community culture when I arrived.

Everybody knowing everyone’s life and seemingly feeling entitled to discuss it, even without invitation felt very alien to me. Coming from the big smoke where you can be working in the same building as someone for 5 years and still have never met them, this lifestyle came as quite a shock to the system for me and I regularly felt irritated at being the subject of gossip. I know us townies are a rare species out here but I’m really not that exciting or worth talking about!

What I can say though, is that the community spirit shown here – where people with the same values, passions and goals work together to achieve something greater than the sum of its parts – is unrivalled and admirable, and I’ll certainly struggle to find that outside of the agricultural way of life I have come to deeply respect.

What I have witnessed time and time again is people rallying around those in need in a way that city folk could learn something from. If you need a hand then someone will always be there no matter what you need, whatever the time of day. Horses stuck in a flood? Someone will have a patch of land you can borrow. All your winter feed that you’ve spent all summer growing, harvesting and storing burnt down in a vicious arson attack? Give the community 48 hours and you’ll have enough stock donated to see you through until you can get yourself back on your feet, no matter what hard times they’re also going through.

My values haven’t always aligned with those of the more traditional ways of life, let’s be honest. When I told people that I wasn’t giving up my career or my job in London when I moved here or when I dropped the (apparently controversial) bombshell that I didn’t want children, their reactions ranged from surprise and admiration to sheer abhorrence and disgust. I used to love saying things just to see the look on their faces for my own amusement sometimes. Me, a wind up? Never…😉

What I struggled with the most though was the constant assumptions of what I’d do with my uterus after I got married and the very casual approach everyone took to discussing it as an open subject. I’ll never forget making small talk at a ball with people I barely knew when someone said to me “so when are you having children?”…a) “when” is a very bold assumption to make, and b) plural?! My dear, you’d sooner see me sh*t in my hands and clap than push multiple humans out of my body.

My response, as I’m sure you can all imagine by now, was somewhat inflammatory: “good question, so tell me, how small is your penis?” Cue a look of utter horror fall across his face…”oh so THAT’S the inappropriate question! Of course, sorry – naturally we’re allowed to talk about my reproductive system but yours is TOTALLY off-limits. Absolutely. I get it now. Sorry, what was your question again?” Quickest way to get rid of irritating company you’ll ever come across, that’s for sure.

The other part of Wiltshire that I’ll seriously miss is a group of likeminded lunatics that I came across after moving into a flat last year and living on my own for the first time. These people seemed to revel in physical challenges and managed to have a laugh at the same time just as much as me, so I thought I’d give Bootcamp a go and join them in this mad version of (what we call) exercise.

It was daunting at first turning up, not knowing anyone or really what to do. But the support and encouragement I received from the crazy bunch at Chippenham, the sense of community I encountered after feeling fairly alone for quite sometime, was honestly so uplifting. I felt at home almost right away.

We’re all of different fitness levels, ages, shapes and sizes but there is ZERO judgement. If you get stuck in and give it a go, then you’re as good as anyone else there. Whether it’s lashing down with rain and your rolling around on your back in mud or whether it’s 25 degrees and your taking a running leap at a slip and slide set up by the amazing instructors, I can honestly say I’ve never come away from one of those sessions not feeling better, more positive or without a smile on my face. They’re a bunch of people collectively nuttier than squirrel bo**ocks and I’ll miss them dearly.

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When you truly embed yourself in country living and experience everything it has to offer – the incredible beauty, the crashing lows unfairly dealt to the agricultural industry by the media or Mother Nature, the community and all its good and bad parts, the joys of newborn animals, the scenery each season brings – you can’t help but forge a strong connection to your surroundings.

Thanks to Wiltshire I’ve discovered some incredible loves in my life: raising animals, gundog working, witnessing nature; and my life would certainly be poorer without these experiences. Had I not moved here I might never have had Trigger and I certainly would never have found Rusty or Dotty pig.

Had I stuck to my roots near London I wouldn’t have indulged in all of these rural passions. As much as I bemoaned the lack of variety, what I lacked in they way of cocktails I gained in the way of cheese festivals…(!) and I thank my lucky stars for it.

And so, as one chapter ends, the next one starts with all the promise and excitement of any good story. And, of course, I promise to take you all with me.

Until next time, Wiltshire, it’s been a mighty fine adventure.

A Letter from Lockdown Me to Future Me.

My god has 2020 thus far been a bag of dicks, and it’s only May. I seriously hope you’re having a better time of it now and are actually allowed to touch other people (not inappropriately though, we’ve spoken about that before).

I decided to write you a letter to remind you of the actual things you learnt during this quasi-apocalyptic crazy world you existed in *hopefully* not that long ago.

And by that I don’t mean learning to play the flute/speak a new language/become a landscape gardener overnight – all laudable, but you’ll be pleased to remember you didn’t jump on that bandwagon of this being a sodding productivity contest.

1. I know we’re only in the middle of this sh*t show – and what a sh*t show it is – but something to takeaway from this is that it’s ok to look for positives and appreciate the small things without being criticised for not taking things seriously. Not only that, it’s actually a lot easier than you think…you learnt to find moments of joy and appreciation when you could have easily sat there feeling mightily sorry for your situation.

Side note: Turns out, you can have good things come out of a pandemic – focusing on what you CAN do & enjoying it, planning for the future – none of it means you are being disrespectful or inconsiderate. I promise you. And if it does, well then you’re in good company, I managed it without (at least knowingly) offending anyone…you’re surprised, miracle! I know.

2. At the moment, when we ask how someone is, we really mean it. Not only that, we feel we’re more able to be honest with our answers when we’re being asked. Continue with that trend please – what an awesome thing to come out of this, people being more caring and open. Imagine!

3. If I’d have told you at the beginning of the year that you’d be living with the parents again, well firstly you wouldn’t have believed me, but secondly I probably wouldn’t have relished the idea that much either.

One of the positives in this (aside from the fact you’ve found a new gin drinking buddy in mum who was equally willing to drink doubles on a Thursday, just because) is the fact that you wouldn’t have ever thought you’d get the opportunity to live with them in a ‘positive’ light again.

No, Corona isn’t positive, what I mean by that is when else would you have lived with them for an extended period of time again in your life? It would have most likely because you f**ked up and something drastic happened, or when they need you to be a carer for them. Yes there are limitations, but currently we’re able to enjoy each other’s company and spend some quality time together. And no, you and dad aren’t getting on each other’s nerves yet!

4. I can’t tell you the amount of time I have said to friends “we should SO do [insert batsh*t crazy/incredible plan here] when all of this is over”…do me a favour and actually make sure that you follow through with all of those plans please. I’ve realised that ‘should’ is where all the fun things in life live, and they need to be turned into ‘will’s’, or better yet ‘did’s’. Don’t be one of those arsehole let-down friends. Ugh, I despise them, and so do you still.

5. You were right when you said last year that you had found out who your true friends are. That bunch have been absolutely legendary. Remind them now how amazing they are and how grateful you are to have them. Organise another meal with everyone, even if you have to plan it for bloody 2022. Just do it, now please, not later.

Cheers.

2020 Vision

Yes, yes I know…it has been close to a year (again!) since I last posted 🙈 but I hope you can forgive me as life has changed a fair bit for me in that time.

Over those months of radio silence I’ve been doing a lot of observing & reflecting, collecting a few thoughts I’ve had along the way which I wanted to finally share with you. So I hope you can please indulge me in this slight change of direction just this once and read the following 10 points:

1) Life is bloody unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a god-given right, don’t waste a day or take one for granted. You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do…act accordingly.

2) Following on from that, if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Just have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable, and you never know what is waiting for you around the corner.

3) Stop bloody moaning! (And I mean this in a loving way) You are not as hard up as you imagine. So your limbs might be aching, at least you have them. So there’s traffic in your way, at least you can see it. However bad public transport is for you, you’re not in a wheelchair.

Never underestimate or take for granted the luxury of being physically able to do whatever it is you want. You are infinitely more advantaged than so many other incredible people out there who’s (dis)ABILITIES will put you to shame. Perspective is an incredible medicine. Appreciate your healthy and functioning body even if it isn’t quite the size you want to be.

Which leads me onto this:

4) You are worth more than a waistline. You are no less valuable as a size 16 than a size 6. For god sake eat the f**king cake, and with zero guilt! I’ll admit, this is the one I struggle with the most, but remember these points and it will start to help.

5) GIVE. The amount of people who have said to me recently that homeless people are there on purpose…really?? I can promise you, no one chooses that life. Of all the truly homeless people I have stopped and spoken to, none of them intended to be on the streets and they are all decent HUMAN beings. So you don’t want to give them money? Buy the guy a coffee and a sausage roll, give someone an unwanted dog coat for their companion, set up a food bank donation box at work. Just do SOMETHING. I promise you, it will make a difference.

5) Stop buying sh*t. Use your money on making memories. Go and visit that friend across the country, buy a nice steak for dinner. You do not need another iPhone or another £10 dress from a sh**ty online retailer. Some of the best jumpers I own were ones I bought when I was 18. I’m now almost 34 and I still wear them (whilst making memories that last a lifetime).

6) Always, ALWAYS cuddle the dog. I’ve never had a bad hug from a dog.

7) stop apologising after saying no to something. It’s a terrible habit.

8) Do what makes you happy, you don’t need to mimic what other people believe in or do to have a fulfilling life. I have no desire to travel abroad for 6 months and “find myself” on a beach in Thailand, and that’s ok! But whatever it is you want to do, do it and excel at it. None of this half-hearted sh*t.

Which brings me to:

9) Always strive to be the best version of yourself. Why bother doing something half-arsed? My favourite motto is “Go Hard or Go Home”. Live by it and you will always aspire to live the best version of your life, and hopefully along the way inspire others to do the same.

And finally,

10) Keep f**king going. No matter how crappy life is right now, just keep wading on through. One thing I can promise you is that it absolutely can get worse, but it will also get a whole lot better at some point. Don’t be that person who makes your friend stand up and give a eulogy at your funeral because you gave up. NEVER quit, just don’t. End of.