On the first day of Christmas: January 2015

Round ups and review posts are some of the hardest to write, I find. In 2014, over the twelve days of Christmas, I featured a blogger a day, and my favourite three posts they’d written over the course of the year.

This year I’m doing it slightly differently.

I’ve been bookmarking all of my favourite posts, on all kinds of topics – sex, feminism, disability, food, mental health – and from now until January 6th, I’ll cover a month of 2015 a day, featuring the best things I read.

The number of posts I bookmarked varies, and obviously, some bloggers recur often – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any favourites. But there should be a variety, and I hope you enjoy. With any luck, this could become an annual tradition.

Anyway, January 2015…

WARNING: “Crunchy” Roads Ahead, Sommer Marsden, Jan 2nd

‘I am a newly hatched widow, single mother of two, who can often be found standing in the middle of some random room at any given time, wondering what the fuck now? And who the fuck am I now?’

This blog post may well break your heart, as you’ve probably realised from the quote above. But I really admired the honesty, candour and bravery with which Sommer approached such a massive life change, and I hope life is a little easier with each day that passes.

Resolutions for a (Mentally) Healthier New Year, Anne Thériault, Jan 2nd

‘I’ve seen a lot of promises to bike to work, to eat healthier, to get a gym membership, and so on and so forth. I used to make resolutions like these, although mine were almost always unhealthy and centred around weight loss. I would frame them as “feeling better in my body,” but really what I meant was, “exercise and withhold foods I love until my body is a size that makes me feel good about myself.”’

Mental health emerges as a theme of the posts I bookmarked in January, which is unsurprising, given that a) New Year is bloody tough and b) I was having a pretty rough time in January last year. This list of 10 resolutions for better mental health is worth rereading from time to time, especially number 10. Essentially: be as kind to yourself as you’d be to other people.

This girl can’t, not yet, Miss Smidge, Jan 15th

‘Lets repeat what I just said above, yes I was uncoordinated, yes I kept messing up, but I was doing it with a massive grin on my face. Thanks to some clumsy language from the instructor – that massive grin – was gone. For the next 30 minutes any co-ordination I did have totally disappeared, along any enjoyment of the class I’d been having. There were others in the class just as uncoordinated as me – maybe she thought I could take it as the smile I had on my face looked like confidence. It wasn’t.’

2015 was the year I was lucky enough to find a really good Zumba class, but the sentiments in this post really resonated with me, because I’ve felt them so many times in the past. A great reminder of the importance of finding a form of exercise you enjoy, but also an instructor who makes you feel safe, comfortable and accepted.

Mumblecore: Whispers of a feminist revolution?, The Cocktail Hour, Jan 15th

‘Over the past couple of years, I have watched a lot of indie ‘mumblecore’ fayre. Mumblecore itself is arguably a pejorative term, and a label that the filmmakers themselves would not necessarily favour. Most films that do appear to fall under that banner are woven together by common thematic and stylistic threads. They are typified by loose plots, minimal camerawork and deal with the minutiae of daily life: slackerdom, 20/30 something ennui, navigating social norms and responsibilities. So far, so familiar, but it recently dawned on me that there is something more exciting happening beneath the scruffy surface.’

I had no idea what mumblecore was when I stumbled upon this post, and I’m still not sure I could define it, but I do like art house film, and I think I probably tagged it as a reminder to go and see Obvious Child (which is great, btw). This interests me on the same level that anti-heroines interest me in literature – I like things that don’t tread well worn grooves when it comes to female characters, and that applies to film just as much as it does to books.

Reclaiming my wheelchair through sexy lift snogs, Desire on Wheels, Jan 30th

‘There would just be space for him to stand behind my wheelchair, so I would tip my head back, he would lean over me, and we would kiss until we felt the jolt of the lift stopping again.  You can’t do much like that, just lips touching and perhaps hands on faces, trying not to let the wheelchair run away if we were too intent on kissing to remember to put the brakes on.  There’s something delicious about being limited in that way, with your throat exposed and no idea whether someone’s watching disapprovingly on a security camera.’

This is a guest post for Girlonthenet, and it’s great for a number of reasons. First, because it tackles disability and desire, something which is definitely not written enough about, secondly because it talks about disability and shame, which is super real to me, and thirdly because it’s a reminder of a universal truth: some guys are shits, but many are not, and the relationship between the post author and her partner is enviable, to say the least.

Why not accepting anorgasmia doesn’t mean wanting orgasms all the time, The Shingle Beach, Jan 30th

‘Getting my sex drive back – then getting my orgasms back – did as much for my mental health, my general wellbeing, my ability to deal with the rest of life, as did treating the mental symptoms and getting good counselling.’

I love this post because TSB so clearly understands both herself and the power of good sex. I’m totally with her (though more so on sex than orgasms), because touch is powerful, and calming, and easy to forget about. For anyone struggling with mental health issues and anorgasmia, it’s worth not only reading this but also the multitude of other great blog posts it links to.

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