Why ageing’s actually ok

What’s the definition of ‘ageing’? If it’s a sound, surely it’s a groan. Or simply ‘meh’?

Anyone who has felt their first unexplained back twinge, or is carefully monitoring that could-be-a-crow’s-foot crease by their left eye, has the start of a typical relationship with ageing, and the mindset to go with it. Not surprising really – no-one looks forward to the day that their nipples finally tuck into their knee-high boots.

giphy

But I saw an article earlier that turned ageing on its head, with a positive approach that you don’t see very often. It talks about the ages when you peak at certain things in life, and there’s far more to whoop about after the age of 30.

If you’re 23, you’re probably feeling pretty satisfied with life. If you’re 25, give a nod to your muscles, which are at peak strength. At 39, girls, you’ll hit your top salary, and your emotional intelligence is on fire aged 51:

7: Learning a new language
18: Brain processing power
22: Remembering names
23: Life satisfaction
25: Muscle strength
26: Finding a partner for marriage
28: Running a marathon
30: Bone mass
31: Playing chess
32: Remembering faces
39: Salary (women)
40: Making a Nobel Prize winning discovery
48: Salary (men)
50: Arithmetic skills
51: Understanding people’s emotions
69: Life satisfaction (again)
71: Vocabulary
74: Happiness with your body
82: Psychological wellbeing

I’ve never thought about my approach to ageing, but I know for sure that it’s instinctively more negative than positive. A process that leaves you with a moustache regardless of your gender and takes away your loved ones will always be rubbish. But, as a 30-year-old woman working in an office where the air still smells faintly of Clearasil, I need to give it a chance. So here we go – a little positivity to ease those aches and pains. Ageing is good because:

You have skills
You can remember you’re hosting a dinner party mere minutes before your guests arrive, and thanks to your finely tuned cooking skills and exemplary ‘cupboard staples’, pull it off with little more than tinned tomatoes and a smile. The same goes for small talk, which becomes a breeze somewhere around the region of 25, and homely skills like keeping pot plants alive for more than two weeks. You’ve done it all before and can think about more important (or fun) stuff.

You can get away with disgraceful behaviour
When older, and generally assumed to be a parent, stressed by work, tired of commuting or just busy with life, you can do what the hell you like and kind of get away with it. If you want to have friends over, drink copious amounts of wine and fall asleep on the sofa at 11pm, they’ll probably do the same and you’ll all be massively relieved. If you want to hit the clubs and behave disgracefully on top of a table while your mascara melts down your face, everyone smiles at you and thinks you’re just a stressed old person letting off steam.

You have a stash of cool stuff
Gone is the flimsy bargain furniture, having been replaced with classy statement pieces, and your wardrobe is a haven (well, realistically still a chaotic mass) of basics and investment buys.

You give less of a shit
In our teens, everything’s so concentrated. Life consists of school, what’s for tea, and attempts at romance. And cider. With age comes distractions. Work, meet family, meet money, meet worming the cat, meet pensions. It doesn’t mean you give less of a shit in the moment, but there’s less time to dwell and think about things. And thinking is sometimes a BAD thing!

You know who your friends are…
… and you’re not afraid to tell them. By the time most people have had pointless but longstanding disagreements with a couple of school friends and lost touch with others, you’re left with a small bunch of great friends. You know who to go to with a dilemma, who will indulge you with cake and sympathy, and who to take out dancing. You’re also over the awkward teenage years of pretending that you don’t do emotions, so are able to show them that you care and kind of love them, really. *Flushes bright red*

How do you feel about getting old? Good, bad, or just meh?

 Stats from Business Insider

The 10 Women-to-women Commandments

We had a BIG focus on our relationships with men last week. You might not have noticed it as it was pretty low key – International Women’s Day? Haha.. of course you did 😉

It goes without saying that days like this are really important and need to happen. I haven’t known one to date that was quite so noisy and full of ferocious feminism.

But it made me think that, while a lot of things still need to be evened out in the men vs. women battle, there are other relationships that need just as much care. When we finally hit that equal pay mark, or agree on what anyone should and shouldn’t be told what to wear to work, we’ll still have our precious relationships with other women to watch. These relationships – some of which rival relatives in terms of closeness, and others which are volatile and unpredictable but just right when you need each other – have just as much of an impact on us every day.

So, in honour of our complex female friendships, here are ten women-to-women commandments that we should all live by:

Thou shalt not… express opinions on her boyfriend

The moment you express a stronger than average opinion on a friend’s significant other, you’re into hot-hot-hot danger territory. We all know this – she’ll love your foul-mouthed rant about what a loser he is and how you’ve always thought his bum/voice/facial hair questionable when she’s fresh from a blazing row with him. But wait for it… … … wait for a call to say they’re back together. #FACEPALM. All of a sudden, you’re the bad guy, despite your good intentions. By all means, express opinions, but keep them to things he has done, rather than insulting him personally. Vague words like ‘may’, ‘seems like’ and ‘perhaps’ will also soften even the harshest insults you throw in the heat of the moment, giving you a little feminine wiggle room when he’s been (temporarily) forgiven for his sins.

Thou shalt not… buy the same top

match dress
Pic: pasteldress.com

There are two levels with this one. If it’s a flimsy £20 crop top that will go to shit the first time it’s washed, it’s probably OK. But only if you point out in all photos for at least a month that your fabulous top was inspired by your right, honourable friend. And whoever had it first gets all the custody rights. You copy, and you’re the one sending the ‘what are you wearing?’ texts to avoid a twin situation. However, copy the expensive coat, boots or generally coveted, expensive item, and you’re treading on toes.


Thou shalt not…
flaunt snacks during diet season
Whatever the time of year – #dechox, pre-holiday season, the day before you usually bump into the fit postman – there will always be someone on a diet. Male or female, show a bit of restraint and make it a bit easier for them. They will sense the second you walk in the room that you have a chocolate bar, they’ll be listening to the rustle of the packaging and they know how good it tastes.. but they don’t need your moans and gasps to tip them over the edge.

Thou shalt not… bail on a gym class

BJBefore you even reach the worst part of this scenario – sweating it alone and turning into a shiny, purple mutant incapable of speech – there is the huge risk of saving gym equipment for your gym buddy. Like any good friend, you get your own space or mat, save one for your partner in crime, and stand guard. Ten minutes later, after you’ve told 14 people that this is your friend’s mat, actually, with a glare, and you’re left doing your workout alone, you become the dedicated class lunatic. There’s no going back from this. Smash your walkouts and plank for days, but your rep is down the drain.

Thou shalt not… blank frazzled female drivers
Call me sexist, but I’ve never seen a man lose it at the wheel. I’ve seen them angry and aggressive but never emotional. I, on the other hand, have my moments of hand waving or angry pouting if I’m under pressure and no-one in the world will help me out. This situation becomes instantly and significantly worse if the driver refusing to let you in is female and blatantly ignores you in your moment of need. Roads are dangerous and rage makes them worse – back off and help a girl out.

Thou shalt not… ignore a make-up disaster
browsI’m not talking about the blatant, can’t-look-away-from-them eyebrow disasters on the Mail Online. There’s no excuse for these and the offenders should not need to be told what’s what. However, innocent women caught up in an early start, or suffering from lack of make-up application space on the train should always be told if foundation or eyeliner has gone rogue. The same goes for stray pen, spinach in teeth and bogies. I’m quite bad at this (telling people, not bogies), in that I’ll notice it and look at it but not think to actually mention it?! I’m due some bad karma at some point in life. But the long and short of it is, you’d want to be told, so go forth and break the news.

Thou shalt not… share awful photos on Facebook
As long as you’re still open to the idea of mixing beer, porn star martinis and Prosecco in one night – or in fact, an innocent but lengthy bottomless brunch – you’re at risk of questionable photos. The severity of the photos almost certainly improves with age – anyone under the age of 25 will do anything with a lamp post for a good shot – but merely blinking while eating a salad can have catastrophic results when captured on camera. Standard protocol seems to be removing the truly awful shots and uploading the rest without tagging the offenders. Anyone who tags and laughs is going down.

Thou shalt not…steal her baby name

OUCH. This is of course going to be controversial. If she has a name in mind for her future children, the chances are, they have featured in every romantic dream sequence of her adult life. Take away that name and the dream sequences are gone forever. Mix in some strong female emotions, a hint of drama queen and some sort of flailing girl fight in the street, and you’ve basically ruined her life. HOME WRECKER.

Thou shalt not… reveal the big secrets
gossip
Pic: Brainjet.com

We’ve all sworn to keep a secret, only to then get swept away in the drama of it all – a la Trevor McDonald – and let it all come spilling out five minutes later. I think as a girl, you learn what kind of top secret info will make it round the rest of the group by lunchtime, and which info has a chance of staying between the two of you. The dodgy crush or a snippet of work gossip can probably get out without too much hassle, but let the biggies slip through the net and you lose your confidante status.

Thou shalt not…bring a gal down
On the average day, we’ve got enough on our plates. Work, relationships, lifting weights, avoiding carbs, period pain. The last thing anyone needs is a real-life scene from Mean Girls. This is where we (sorry) can probably learn from the boys, as they help us onto a level playing field. They’re experts at having a chat, having a row, generally hitting each other a bit, until whatever issue is sorted out. We, on the other hand, like to turn things into a mystery novel. Not always that helpful 😉
So, over to you. What would you note down in your list of women-to-women commendments?

14th February: The plan

I’m going to say it.

VALENTINE’S DAY.

Are you feeling that funny slash hopeful slash ‘am I bovvered?’ feeling yet?

We are all the same. Single or coupled up, half of us KNOWS that the cards and teddies are a huge money-making scam, yet the other half secretly hopes for a bunch of one hundred roses, delivered in a very public place by swan…

If you don’t want to go down this route, here’s a selection of activities for Tuesday, 14th February – SHOULD YOU WISH TO DO SOMETHING – that don’t have to involve scratchy fancy underwear or awkward end-of-date kisses.

Drink
If any sort of enforced romance, or the lack of it, makes you reach for the alcohol, make it a formal thing. Leeds’ Lazy Lounge holds wine and gin tasting sessions every Tuesday. Grab your partner or your partners in crime and you’ll get an introduction to wine, a taste of seven varieties, and a selection of well-matched nibbles to bring out the flavours.

Wine tasting £20pp, gin tasting £25pp, from 6:30pm at Lazy Lounge, Unit D, Westpoint, Wellington Street, LS1 4JY. (Photo credit: godine.co.uk)

lazy

Haters
As a nation, we are excellent at moaning, so it was only a matter of time before someone mixed our skills into a dating app. Sign yourself up to Hater and you’ll be matched with people who hate the same things, including tuna, the word ‘moist’, weed and Taylor Swift. It’s only available in beta form on iOS at the moment, but there are plans in the pipeline for Android.

Churros
I love a good binge at Cielo Blanco, but when it’s rounded off with churros, one can look a little bloaty once home and in the nude. Not ideal if you have plans for a night of passion. This year though, you can try a number of new superfood mains, including superfood tacos, a warm kale and broccoli salad with toasted nuts and a poached egg, and avocado and black quinoa toastadas. You’ll also get a free bottomless superjuice with superfood dishes, to give you a glow regardless of your relationship status.

cielo

Queerology
This year marks the 50th anniversary of homosexuality being decriminalised in England. Now that’s romantic. Queerology showcases all sorts of artwork by LGBT and Queer artists in and around Leeds.

Queerology at Aire Place Studios, Units 2c, Aire Place Mills, Kirkstall Road, LS3 1JL. Open 12 – 5pm until Monday 27th February.

queer

Culture
Take a seat (and snacks) to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, for a “radical” take on Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1913. It’s the story of professor of phonetics, Henry Higgins, who makes a bet that he can train Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, to pass for a duchess, starting with impeccable speech. This new version brings in more video and sound technology and asks questions about today’s class identity and social behaviour.
Pygmalion at West Yorkshire Playhouse, 14th February. Tickets £13.50 – £30.

pyg

Skate
You can approach Leeds’ Ice Cube rink with two mindsets. For romance, cling onto each other and complement your pink cheeks with a cute bobble hat, or rejoice in falling over and bruising most of your limbs while showing no sympathy as your fella or friends hit the deck. The rink, its Snowslide, Starflyer and Glacier Run Simulator, plus the new Ice Jet, is open ’til 19th February.

Go ghost hunting
If you really want to go anti-romance, go on one of York’s famed ghost walks. The Original Ghost Walk of York starts every night outside The King’s Arms Pub, and will combine the city’s history with gruesome stories of its past.

The King’s Arms Pub (Ouse Bridge), at 8pm. £5 for adults, £3 for children, students and concessions. (Photo credit: imgarcade.com)

york

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Doing anything different?

7 signs it’s Christmas

For those of you who are still working, you’re probably well aware and repeating in your head every hour the fact that there are FIVE DAYS TO GO ’til Christmas. YAY!

So to fire that excitement up a little more, and prepare you for the highs and lows that might hit over the festive period, here are seven signs that we’re nearly there. The majority are good but, if not, here’s what to expect and how the bloody hell to cope:

1) You’ll skip the Queen’s Speech
According to a survey on the radio the other day, only 27% of families actually tune into Her Maj on Christmas Day. Our family is not one of them. If she’s on screen as we’re rolling back to the lounge from the dining  room, we might give it a glance, but it’s typically drowned out by a deafening round of tea-pouring or loses out to festive drivel like The Gruffalo (sorry). This year, though, I’d like to watch it. This 89-year-old woman has been fighting our battles for 64 years, taking all the crap that comes with it and having to dress up in pastel suits and speak to people at weekends when all she probably wants to do is Netflix and Chill. She’s packed on the pearls and stayed off the drink ‘til 3pm  on Christmas Day, and that alone deserves a bit of our time.

queen

2) You’ll  forget someone’s present
With so many friends to catch up with in the run up to Christmas, you’re bound to experience a gift mismatch. You went for a card, she went for a gift… FUCK. Surely this has happened to everyone, and depending on the situation, you either brazen it out, have a laugh about it or die on the spot. This has happened to me once or twice and I found that acknowledging it and having a giggle, then surprising them with a lovely, unexpected gift in January works quite well. True, they’ll think you’re a complete heartless wench until then, but come mid-January, you’re back in the good books.

gift

3) You’ll bump into Someone You’d Rather Not
This is a simple sod’s law scenario which becomes ten times more likely when every one of your old acquaintances flocks back to the town you grew up in, just as your week month-long diet of truffles, pigs in blankets and salted peanuts by the bag starts to show. This happened once to me, with an old boyfriend. The split was amicable so there was no threat of tears or an unplanned rant outside House of Fraser but it completely caught me out. I wasn’t expecting it, didn’t know what to say and flushed up like a big red balloon. And he noticed and laughed at it. HAHA! Not. Help yourself by being prepared – think in advance, just for a second, how you’re going to position your life. Are you a) on the verge of signing a record contract b) married to a millionaire or c) doing just fine, thanks very much? Think what you’d do and say, just in case.

millionaire

4) You’ll have one too many
The most awful part of this scenario is that there’s a large chance that one too many will be had in the company of relatives, rather than friends who have seen it all before. My parents and brother have not yet had the pleasure of witnessing me winking at the kebab man, posing with a lamppost and generally grinding around the dance floor. Anything I say here is probably not going to help once you’ve consumed several glasses of wine – all you can do is hope they all end up as sozzled as you and/or fall asleep and miss the final hours of debauchery.

one-too-many

5) You’ll have to share space with friends and relatives
Bedrooms, bathrooms… you’re going to get closer to relatives. One terrifying, 100/100 on the trauma scale element of this for me is sharing bathrooms. Four years into my relationship with Paul, I am still incapable of “going to the loo” (in human speak, doing a poo, dropping the kids off etc) without cordoning off and soundproofing the room and surrounding areas before, during and after the act, and barking ‘WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’ if Paul should even look in the direction of the bathroom. I have been assured that I am not the only person with public poo fear so.. if this is you, too, and the thought of sharing your personal space makes you strongly consider fasting over Christmas, I’M WITH YOU.

world

6) You’ll treat yourself in the sales – and feel guilty about it
Scrolling through sale items on Christmas Day feels like a massive kick in the teeth for Santa. But the cheap chunky knits and glittery dresses can’t be ignored. If you’re going for something branded that’s available from more than one shop, check out Kelkoo, which will tell you where you’ll find it cheapest, and sign up to Quidco which will get you cashback with loads of retailers. Right now, there’s 13% cashback at Topshop and Debenhams.

shopping

7) You’ll spill Something Bad on Someone’s Carpet
This is the festive moment that will automatically activate slow motion mode and cause multiple swear words to escape your mouth without any consideration or filtering. Thankfully, if your host is cool enough to be having people over for a meal or drinks, they’re probably also sane enough to know that a spillage could be on the cards. But still… #facepalm.

facepalm

The general rule of thumb and common sense, whatever the spillage, is to scoop or mop up excess fluid and then (thanks, Good Housekeeping):

For carpet:
1. Blot up as much of the wine as possible;
2. Use plain water or mix one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and one tablespoon of white vinegar with two cups of warm water;
3. Using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with plain water or the detergent/vinegar solution. Apply a little bit at a time, blotting frequently with a dry cloth until the stain disappears;
4. If using a detergent/vinegar solution, sponge with cold water and blot dry.

For upholstery:
1. Mix one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent with two cups of cool water;
2. Using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with the detergent solution;
3. Blot until the liquid is absorbed;
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the stain disappears;
5. Sponge with cold water and blot dry.

What else would you put on the list?

How to be this couple when cohabiting..

We all want to be the couple on the left when it comes to living together, yes?
cohabiting

It’s generally acknowledged and accepted that – as with most things in life – there is a honeymoon period for cohabiting couples.

What starts as a fart-free, dinner-at-the-table, sex on tap and pillow fight prone household will eventually succumb to life pressures. Pillow fights will ruin the posh pillows, as you upgrade, sex will lose out to sleep, and farts, well, they always find a way out.

Of course this is all entirely normal. Just as you might put more effort into make up or make more romantic gestures when you are in the early stages of dating, you put a bit of a gloss on living together and keep out the bad habits.

What’s key is keeping an eye on the important bits, like closeness and quality time, that could impact on your relationship as a whole.

Based on the three years during which I have lived with A Boy (a prospect that TERRIFIED me until we were about two weeks in), here’s what I think is key:

Celebrate the good times
You’re not going to feel refreshed, look ravishing and forget all your troubles/deadlines every day of your life. So when you do, and you’re together, remember it. Take and display photos of those great days. It doesn’t have to be a ball at The Ritz – just nights out, walks and holidays that remind you of the great times.

Sex
Have it. Find out how to up-sex your bedroom here.

Eat together
We SO have this down. But it’s usually on the sofa while watching TV. Together time = 0. Make an occasion of meal times. Whether you have a huge oak table or a little bistro set, cook together, sit your asses down and talk about your day.

Sleep together
There’s been loads in the news about couples who sleep in separate beds/rooms in the last few years. I think we can all see where these people are coming from – you probably get a much better night’s sleep without someone else fidgeting and the inevitable unforgiveable duvet hog. But, don’t you just deal with it? Many psychotherapists, including Dr Barton Goldsmith, believe that sleeping next to each other and the physical closeness that comes with it, can strengthen emotional bonds and therefore your relationship.

Make the effort
This can apply to most things you’ll encounter when living together. Emptying the dishwasher so they don’t have to, taking the bins out if they’re that tiny bit more tired than you. It just shows that you care. Similarly, don’t forget that goodnight kiss, a sneaky massage, and to snuggle up if you’re going to watch TV. They’re tiny things, but without them, you might as well be flatmates.

Count the numbers
It sounds horrible and scientific, but just as you might do at work, keep a track of the good and not so good things you’re doing at home. If you find your body contact waning, or start to feel a bit ‘samey’, set yourself a target! It doesn’t need a spreadsheet (unless you like a spreadsheet..) Mentally tick off those daily kisses, cuddles, nice things, and set yourself a target if you’re not getting through the list. No-one’s going to complain that you’re kissing them too much.

Take time out
Most people I know like a bit of time alone every so often. Whether it’s to get things done, sit and watch rubbish films (that’s me) or just sit and pick your nose, the urge doesn’t go away when you move in with your other half. Don’t be afraid to spend the odd weekend apart, go out with separate groups of friends or go off and do your own thing upstairs while he’s downstairs. You’ll get the reflection/quiet time you need (and can also pluck unsightly facial hairs etc on the sly…) WIN.

How to up-sex your bedroom

OK, so this is a bit different. But with today’s generation being hit by busy jobs, demanding social lives and those needy smartphones/boxsets, our sex lives are in need of some help.

sex surveyAccording to a recent survey, less than one in three couples have sex five or more times a month. While this works for some, almost half feel they should be having more and, unsurprisingly, single out tiredness and children as the main culprits.

So here’s my guide to making your bedroom sex-ready, to get you in the mood or just make sure you can take advantage as soon as the opportunity arises!

 

Know your scents
There’s a fair bit out there about the impact your sense of smell can have on your sex life. Musk is believed to help girls in particular get in the mood, as it resembles the scent of natural male pheromones. Vanilla and peppermint are also both believed to increase sexual stimulation in men and women, with peppermint also acting as an energiser. Light a mint-scented candle or oil if you’ve had a long day and need a wake up call before your booty call. Place scented candles or oils on bedside tables and switch the scents regularly so you don’t get used to them.

Check your colours
The link between food and pleasure doesn’t stop at scents. Surprisingly, people with red walls were found to have the least sex in a recent report, while those with caramel-coloured walls average three times a week. The theory is that the brain links this colour with indulgent foods and therefore pleasure. Here’s how to build caramel into your room, going for an opulent look with golden tones and peacock blues, or toning it down by mixing caramel with no fuss white and  cream:

caramel

Keep your kit close
Whatever your ‘kit’ is or contains, pack it away somewhere out of sight but easily accessible. If your bedside drawer is full of receipts and 2p coins, it’s time for a clear out. Make it easy to choose sex over sleep by having your wingmen – from Barry White to anything that vibrates – within reach.

Upgrade your sheets
I’ve never tried satin sheets but they seem appropriate in this situation. Just as you’d feel sexy in a silky negligee, sheets that feel silky on your skin will play to your senses. How sssssensual.

Clean up
As far as I’m aware, sex in messy bedrooms isn’t a thing for many people. Of course, don’t let it get in the way of spontaneity (“two seconds darling, just sorting my tights”) but generally, get clothes out of the way and try to minimise clutter. Make your room about sleep, relaxation and sex.

Upgrade your sleep
If you’re tired all the time you’re never going to get it on. When it’s time to update your room, go for black out blinds and make sure your room is the right temperature for sleeping. Generally, slightly cool is best. Colour-wise, blue is thought to be the best colour for sleep quality while purple is a no go.

Not for everyone but…

Find some inspiration
I’m not talking porn here, but things that just remind you that sex exists. It could be wall art with a bit of sass or a book of erotic fiction that you can flick through every so often. It certainly doesn’t have to be the kind of thing that puts your room off limits during the house tour – it just needs to have some meaning to you. It could even be a photo (of the scenery!) from your first trip away together, or one of the following from art.co.uk:

art.JPG

Ditch the tech
This is not a new concept but is certainly a difficult one. Scrolling or tweeting or blogging on your phone instead of talking to your partner is a nasty habit that we’re all struggling to kick. Do all the browsing you need on the sofa and then, when you’re ready for bed, leave it somewhere out of reach. You’ll still hear your alarm or any urgent calls, but you won’t be doing this *shudder*

phones.jpg

Stats taken from The Mirror and Good Housekeeping. Photo credit: Dave Willis.