How To Tackle Those Fish….

See what I did here? My subtle little nod to the title with this image. In all seriousness though, if you ever find me near a body of water sporting a bucket and some tackle, please have mercy and dispose of me quickly and humanely. You will have my eternal gratitude. Quite literally.

Of course, I’m referring to scouring the pond, playing with flames and matches or checking out the bees. To name but a few. When browsing the western dating versions of the mail order bride catalogue, it is quite astonishing really how many of us seem to believe holding a giant fish or sporting freaky bambi eyes are fantastic selling points. Trust me when I say they really are not. Just because you’re Facebook mates like that picture of you doesn’t mean you should use it for a wider audience to see. Or the one of you gracing the gutter with your presence after one too many at Spoons. I’m sure that one got plenty of thumbs up too, for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s face it, if we like it or not, attempting to create a dating profile is like a job application for a quite nondescript position of unknown duration and location, to a vague number of strangers whose expectations are a mystery to us. And a bunch of weirdos we would give a wide berth in real life but kind of come with the package and we have to put up with them (I’m talking to you future hubby Wayne who after four messages into the nirvana is still not getting the hint). It’s not even so much about what you write about yourself, most people don’t bother reading the small print anyway (okay, I hardly ever bother to ready the small print). It’s about the impression you give in the pictures you have chosen to represent yourself with.

You get mercilessly judged on them. Be honest, we all do it. First pic bad, it’s a no. Uncertain? We look at the second one. Maybe even the third. At that point I’m already getting bored by my own indecisiveness so it’s a no anyway. I know from speaking to a vast number of other single women (read: five) they do the same. I have not inquired yet as to the standards of the male population but I assume as long as you look fit enough, you get a yes and they even forgive you the shitty floral headband if you seem to have a larger than average bust. That’s a yes in the swiping department not a ring on your finger just yet. To be clear on that one.

But I digress. My point is this. We are all individuals. We have our own personalities. Everyone with half a brain should be perfectly aware that we are going to have our flaws and quirks and don’t look like models raising from the sheets. Unfortunately, we are human and as such rather multi dimensional, amazing beings. But ‘they’ – the ones looking at your picture – don’t know that yet. They just see a picture. They don’t know you are the funniest person at work. Who always gives a hug to those who need it. Or the most loyal friend. They don’t know that that picture with your mates, all cross eyed and a bit drunk, was a long overdue reunion with people you miss every day. Or that it took you a whole day to finally catch that fish and you are dead proud of yourself for having the patience to sit that out.

Of course you can argue one shouldn’t be that shallow and be able to see a person behind a picture. But none of us do because we don’t know them, there is no dimension to them yet, just some images and basic information that is so generic it could be anyone really. So maybe it wouldn’t be the worst idea to loose fish and filters. Be a bit more normal. Mainstream even. It might just do the trick.

No More Cruisin’ For A Boozin’

As you can gather from my posts on here, I used to be very fond of a drink or two. Who isn’t. We all like a drink. Alcohol is the last socially perfectly acceptable drug available to us ( I remember a time when the same could be said for cigarettes alas these days are well and truly gone).

As you might have noticed I said used to. I am quietly proud of the fact that in May 2018, I gave up on drinking for about four months. Of the alcoholic kind at least of course I still drink. You know to avoid dehydration and a slow and painful death.

I’m not entirely sure how this decision came about back then. I think the date with the guy I threw up on played a part in it but I was still drinking after that for a little while although heavily moderated. it just lost its appeal. Not in a dramatic way from one glass to the other but over the space of a few weeks it slowly faded away. I started drinking a glass of Prosecco (if you know me you know Prosecco is my go to for all ails, my nectar and eau de vie) and didn’t finish it.

Then the same happened again. And again. Very strange.

So, one day I thought if I didn’t really enjoy it, I should just make the conscious decision to give it up for a while. Maybe the desire for bubbles and the enjoyment they used to bring would eventually come back. I have to admit I was taken aback when some people to whom I casually mentioned I was staying off the booze for a bit just started laughing and told me it wouldn’t be long before I would have a glass in my hand again. Was that really the image they associated with me? So much so that they thought it ridiculous I wouldn’t be able to have a drink? The more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable did it make me feel.

For a while, I was looking at booze with utter indifference. Don’t get me wrong, I was still ordering an alcohol-free Bellini or a non-alcoholic cider. And the taste was still good. Debatable if it’s exactly the same but it still tasted pleasant to me. Oh but this is so hypocritical I hear you say. Well, you can do one thank you very much because I don’t think so. There is fat free or sugar free, you wouldn’t call people eating or drinking that hypocrites.

There was one thing in particular I noticed that had come with loosing the booze. Clarity of mind. I seemed to enjoy a night out a lot more. I didn’t need a drink to have a good time. I was still just as funny and stupid and entertaining. And I remembered them a lot better. Not that I would have lost hours of my life before because I was so paralytic, but there tended to be a little mist surrounding those occasions. Not anymore. And I like it like that. Oh and another side effect – non alcoholic stuff tended to be cheaper. So I spend less on a night out. Which obviously meant more money for shoes. Win win.

I started drinking again, slowly, around the time Cowboy Steve and I started seeing each other again and I do admit, I enjoyed it again. Everything seemed okay for a bit, until I noticed that my old enemy depression rearing its head again, in the most debilitating and vicious way. I felt horrendous and as the weeks went by, I just got worse. When you feel a wave of deep, permanent sadness manifesting itself in physical pain and the only way for this to stop seems to be the unspeakable, you know you are not doing well.

I holed myself up in a bubble. I cut ties with friends and acquaintances and went through every day on autopilot. And I stopped drinking alcohol again. I don’t know why I thought it would make a difference, it was just a hunch, but it did. After about a month, I was finally getting better. I still have bad days and more so nights, going from not sleeping at all to deep sleep interrupted by sudden night terrors, but overall things are looking up.

I’m absolutely convinced by now that alcohol has a massively detrimental effect on my illness and I have given it up for good now. There are still some bottles in my house – I don’t mind others drinking around me as long as they don’t tease me about not following suit, but I cleared out the majority of my shelves and cupboards and gave it away.  I know my choices on the cocktail menu are now a little limited, but quite frankly, that’s a small price to pay for my mental well-being.

Greetings From A Round Peg

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 

― Rob Siltanen

Although I have always been fond of this particular quote, it has always left me with a profound feeling of overall failure – after all, I could hardly claim to have been especially successful in life thus far, let alone having changed the world.

So when I found myself in front of the wreckage that was left of my second marriage, and feeling more of a failure than ever, I decided it was time to reinterpret it. Make it a little more my own so to speak.

How about rather than changing the world, I started by just changing my own? If anything, it would hopefully lead me to a general feeling of content and reasonable happiness that so far was distinctly lacking from my life.

I decided that every step, no matter how small, was allowed to count as a positive change and a successful one at that, as long as overall it was maintained (a little blip here and there has to be tolerated too, we are human after all) and did not slip back into “before”.

Sounds very simple right? Oh boy it isn’t.

Even with those small changes, I failed and failed again. But the thing is, it’s also easy to just start all over again and try to do better. And that I did. Sometimes right away, sometimes I let some time pass before I put my mind to it again. So, very slowly, my world changed. It is still changing. Hopefully it will never stop changing.

And with every single change, a little bit happiness came along. Not the gushing overwhelming one you supposedly feel at everything if you want to believe in fairy tales and Hollywood BS but rather the quiet feeling of content that doesn’t seem to get too much credit these days. But in my book, that’s a pretty good basis to aspire for more.

Channeling My Inner Forrest

I am of course not talking about my newly found fondness of hugging trees for inner peace, I am referring to putting my trainers on and going for a run. Now, I am the most unmotivated person you can imagine when it comes to exercise. I detest gyms. I suck at HIIT. I tangle myself in a knot with yoga. Water is too cold for a swim and generally too wet really. I don’t like group exercise, because I think Nelson is waiting behind that mirror wall, ready to point and ‘haha’ at every wrong move I make. Which is every single one. I’m a total anti-sports person.

Unfortunately I also love my food. Very, very much. Salad is for rabbits. Vegetables are meant to decorate a piece of meat (apologies my vegetarian and vegan friends I am a carnivore through and through). But when you get a bit older, your body gets a lot less forgiving when you shove in the calories. Something had to give. And it could not possibly be the cake.

So I was trying to find something I would be able to stick with. Enjoying would be the wrong word. Given my gymbunnophobia and general erratic work pattern, a gym or classes where out of the window at once. There are 24 hour gyms of course but still, no thanks. Well, I ended up running. Sort of. When I first started, I was blissfully unaware that prolonged high pressure impact on your foot is not such a good thing. After about six weeks, my foot had ballooned up considerably and hurt like hell. I did ignore it for another couple of weeks then decided maybe it was a good idea to get it checked out. So it was. I had broken two metatarsals. This enforced a bit of a hiatus on the whole running thing which was prolonged by general lack of motivation afterwards, but then I finally got into the spirit again. To a degree at least.

I do admire people who go out every day no matter what and do their 10k. I’m sure they are not entirely human. I still get put of by a bit of drizzle. The frequency I go is a little haphazard too. And while I aim to do a steady four to five kilometres each time, some days I really can’t be bothered. Or I am super motivated and add another two or even three. ~Which does not happen very often and I am generally totally pooped afterwards and wonder what possessed me to be so stupid.

But, surprisingly, I am starting to enjoy it a little bit. It makes me feel good. I listen to random TED talks while being out and as we have some small woodlands behind the house it is quite pleasant to run with squirrels crossing your path and birds singing in the trees. And it keeps the flab at bay. Pass the cake please. I’ll run it off later.

Introducing Topless Coffee

My name is Topless Coffee. Of course I was not born with this rather unique name but only acquired it relatively recently in my life and it kind of stuck. More so, I quite like it. If you happen to enjoy this blog and get further than the first paragraph on the home page you will find out how it came about.

I’m now in my forties. And single. Over the past fifteen years, I collected three kids, two ex-husbands, a cat and an au pair along the way, as well as a number of awesome friends and a certain amount of judgement in regards to the choices I make in life. They still don’t always make sense and quite regularly occur the comment ‘only you could …..’ Those who’s opinion I care about tend to say it in a reasonably loving way.

I’m European and at some point in my twenties decided I needed a change of scenery and spend a whole summer in London. I had been here before numerous times and always loved this place. After this particular stint however, I came to the decision to make it my permanent home. My parents weren’t too impressed.

So I packed everything I deemed important in my car, booked a ferry with my dad’s credit card (sorry Dad!!) and one day in July 2014, I was here. I found a job, I found a guy and a year later I was six months pregnant getting married to said guy. Kind of all seemed good. My awesome dude No1 arrived later that year, followed by another just as awesome little guy only 18 months later. It wasn’t a great marriage though. For a long time I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, I just knew something was off. It took me a while to realise that he didn’t treat me the way a man should treat a woman. But all to often that gets excused by the empty phrase of ‘I only do this because I love you’. As time went on, I got so unsettled, I didn’t sleep anymore and finally came to the conclusion that this wasn’t a healthy environment for children to grow up in and under great difficulty moved out.

The time that followed was stressful and frustrating. My parents tried being supportive but especially from my mum there was constant criticism why I didn’t try harder to make it work. And a constant expression of worry about my life being over now.

So when I met someone else who was happy to take me on with two kids, things seemed okay again. Fast forward a few years and I was married again, with a third little dude. And in another unhappy marriage, although for different reasons this time.

It feels pretty shit when you have to admit that something that’s supposed to work just isn’t. My marriage was dying a slow death, visible for everyone. Those close to me understood it, a lot of others did not. After long talks with two of my friends, and a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I could not face the rest of my life being utterly miserable and for all its downsides, my three dudes would be better off with a single but happy mum rather than one desperately trying to keep up appearances and high on prozac. I asked for some time to think, then drew the line. Again, a painful process followed. Not so bad this time though.

A year and a half down the line, things still aren’t going perfect, but they are so much better. There is a lot more chaos in my house, but also more laughter, more happiness and more fun. Less dark clouds and tension in the air. More things to look forward to. I’m still working on the being me/being a mum/working/life in general balance but it’s not going too badly.

And occasionally, I go on a date. Or feel the need to tell the world about some of the things going through my head. Then I add to this blog. Enjoy it.