Them and Me.

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What they all must have been thinking, as that tiny single engined plane hit the dusty runway on the outskirts of our small country town?

It was a sunny September day; a slight chill in the air. Winter still lingering.

Dad along with our grandparents, my brother David, 12, my eldest sister Lisa 11 and the youngest of the group, Trish who was 6.

They were all huddled together waiting to catch a glimpse of my mum, who they hadn’t seen for over a week. While my older siblings had enjoyed the fish and chips with Dad for dinner and later than normal bedtimes…everyone silently agreed it was time for mum to come home.

I often wonder, how they must have felt when I came home from the hospital that day.

I had entered their world with some complications so was quickly whizzed off in a plane to soar above the bright city lights of ’78, without getting to meet any of them. Despite all of this and my grand arrival via sky, into their tight-knit family unit, I was immediately one of the tribe and I took my position no questions asked; the baby of the family.

SO being the baby, I actually ended up with 3 mothers.

Well sort of.

I had my mum of course; the one who birthed me (and thank goodness that happened), raised, nurtured and loved me. But, she also recruited 2 offsiders, 2 cadets, 2 right hand men.

My sisters.

Those 2 had a lot of input in my upbringing; shaping my sense of identity, where I fit in the world, my sense of humour and any lingering neurosis. They also taught me all about go fish, elastics, roller-skates, slip and slide detergent ratios and what was going on with Boy George. They taught me how much better a trampoline could be with a sprinkler underneath it, how you could even make it more interesting by putting it up on its side and running and jumping on to the mat swinging it down with a thud. They were the main cause of laughter when we were kids, and a main source of tears.

I was forever trying to be one of them, to catch up to them, and they were always up to something, some adventure or bright idea. I followed them gleefully everywhere, wanting to be part of it all, willing my bones to grow so I was not left behind.

It was so hard when I was 4, watching helplessly as they would all march off to school together excited for their day ahead. I would stand at the gate and cry and then head back there at the end of the day, by the old galvanized fence covered in jasmine until they finally returned, dumping their school bags at the door along with my loneliness.

I got my first pair of roller-skates when I was 5 and I attached each one to my feet in seconds. Realising this meant I could now join their pack with the other neighbourhood kids as they skated down to the end of the street, to the ice cream truck and back again.

As soon as I heard that familiar ice creamy music wafting down the road and through our window to find us all, I was up and ready to join them. ‘You don’t want to come with us’ my eldest sister Lisa casually stated, ‘Mr Whippy doesn’t like little kids, he has big fangs and fiery red eyes and big claws’ and with that off they rolled laughing down the street.

I didn’t sleep for weeks, and I hid every time I heard that ice-cream truck tune from then on.

Once I could finally join their school uniformed march to school, they often had to babysit and look after me on the school bus which they hated. They scolded me like little mothers if I didn’t do what they told me to. I would always yell defiantly, ‘you’re not the boss of me’ as they gave me a good chinese arm burn to prove just how wrong I was.

My sisters also had a list of tactics when mum and dad weren’t around. One loved to terrorize me by putting on scary ‘I’m going to kill you’ faces and then switching off the lights, as I screamed with half delight / half fear for my life, as she chased me around the house. The other liked to wrestle me to the ground and pin me so I couldn’t move from the big long string of saliva she had skilfully spat towards my face before sucking it back up again, over and over.

On days when they decided to let me live, we would learn the words of songs together and record our duets on a little tape recorder in my sister’s room. We would include sound effects and jokes and lay across our polly pocket bed spreads and laugh till tears came. When my sister felt she had the directors gig in the bag, she broadened her repertoire, challenging herself to write and direct little plays for us and our cousins to perform together for the adults. She came up with pearlers like Lucy Licks Lollipops ( I was Lucy) and The Moon Men ( I had to be a moon man).

When they had grown bored of impressing the adults, on one particular hot summer day in our back yard; they directed their attention to me. Before I knew what was what, I was told to chew a whole 2 packets of Hubba Bubba bubble-gum – so like 10 pieces were encouraged into my 8-year-old gob and then handed over so we could join each fat, sticky wad together, stretching it to see how long we could get it. That thing went across the back yard and into the paddock next door. We were stoked! I then tried to impress them further by blowing huge grape bubbles, which didn’t go down too well with mum, who ended up cutting it out of my hair. It was worth the warm glow of my sister’s attention though, heating my skin like the sun above us.

There was of course, as with all sisters, major clothes fights too. Mum tried her best to be a UN Ambassador and work a peace treaty but usually ended up siding with me, the baby – which resulted in my teenage sister Trish and I in matching outfits. I was so very happy, my sister was so very not. Things got so bad sharing a room with Trish when she was around 15, she ended up putting a line down the middle of our bedroom from the A-Ha poster to the gold sparkled knobs on our dresser draws; my rainbow bright and care bears and I were not allowed to cross her line and tough sanctions were to be adhered to. I still look back at our bedroom and it sums us both up indubitably; chalk and cheese. She was chalk..and I was cheese. She was neat as a pin, nothing out of place..and well..I was cheese. Trish crossed her line eventually, to braid my hair and sing along to our new Wham record. Soon the line faded and we were a peaceful United States. On nights when I was scared of the wind howling outside, she would come over to my side, get into bed with me and read Dr Seuss to me until I fell asleep.

Despite our bond, the age difference sometimes got to poor Trish especially (being the closest in age to me). I was the pesky little sister, cramping her style. That poor burgeoning, hormonal tween even got given a barbie Ferrari for Christmas at aged 12, just so I would have someone to play barbies with…she was ready to hitch hike it out of that family and boy do I remember her clearly telling me just that. She actually did calm down and end up playing with me though. We sat together for hours doing Barbie hair do’s while she taught me how to spell my first words. Granted it took a while. ‘Trish, what does GRFQP spell?’

‘Nothing, it spells nothing.’

‘What about RFGDSCEI?’

They were and still are the best sisters I could have hoped for.

…despite them telling me all the time I was actually adopted. They used to love telling me the old gigantically fat lady down the road with no teeth, who smacked her kids with a cane rod and who couldn’t walk on account of her being so fat, was my real mother.

 

They are pretty good though. My sisters; my little mother hens who are still looking after me. There are 2 people I call when things get tough or if something needs to be celebrated. They are the first…even sometimes ahead of my husband and mum..the real one.

I went through a very bad day a few months ago and told a close friend, how I had called only one person, my sister. I was in a fetal position ready to give up on everything. My friend frowned and said ‘I wish I had of known and you called me when you were so upset.’ I smiled, warmly, at her kindness but explained, ‘I can’t help but call my sisters.’

They have been my refuge since the beginning. They are who I crawled under the covers with when the storms rolled in, they are the ones who held my hand all through the night if I couldn’t sleep. They were also the ones who I hid behind as we walked past the rough kids at the bus stop opposite ours..

I still find myself trying to catch up to them, to be an adult just like them. When they talk to each other at the kitchen table and give each other advice, I still notice I take on the role of the baby sister, whingeing to pay attention to me, whining that they ignore me still..

To be honest I don’t really mind all that much now, as being the baby sister comes with a lot of perks. It means mum usually still sides with me…which means I also get out of the washing up 99% of the time too.

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Em xoxo

Crow’s Feet and Barry Manilow.

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Mayday, Mayday! Bird down, bird down!

Alert the…..
HAZMAT Team?
…. the Pentagon??!

Alert someone official! Because this shit is real and it’s happening now!

OK “technically” I should have been using my rear view mirror today as a piece of “safe driving equipment”, and not to put on a face full of makeup, do my hair and pluck my eyebrows – but come on, the old lady in her honda jazz in front of me was going slower than VERY SLOW THING and as you well know by now, I have an attention span of a mosquito…I get bored!
WAIT – what am I saying …

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I AM AN OLD LADY NOW TOO!!!

Time to trade in for a reliable hatchback, with plenty of boot space for my bowls bag.

We have a situation rubber ducky, Charlie, Victor, 10 4, over!!

My FACE is heading SOUTH and it really is all over…and out!!!

Wrinkle-dom is upon me. It is done. I am old. I am not young.

Why cruel world, why!

Yes, there it was. Evidence of not being young anymore, shining in the sunlight for all the world to see. The very first sign of aging.WRINKLES!!!!!!!

WRINKLES!!!!!!!

The development of crow’s feet and then further down, my cheeks oh gosh, my once lovely, youthful, girlish rosy cheeks now saggy and no bounce back when I squish them repeatedly with my panicked fingers.

Look, it has been a very traumatic 42 minutes since I first made my discovery. I spent the first 10 minutes sobbing and howling into my steering wheel – waving at traffic while flashing my lights to let me through.

The song on the radio I had been listening to now faded, something about lips and hips and butts and being young and sexy had turned into Barry Manilow’s Mandy.

So apt….so very sadly apt.

Like a very intensely focused maniac on a bad LSD trip, I then spent a good 8 minutes giving myself facelifts in the mirror by pulling my skin back as tight as I could and letting it go again, all while surveying the damage on the surface of my face, the same way scientists study surfaces of newly discovered planets. Tracing my fingers across the tectonic fractures, forming strangely complex calculations in my head. Pulled back not so bad, let go….BIRD DOWN BIRD DOWN!!!
While I have decided to try and remain dignified and age gracefully in the 42 minutes since I made my discovery, I have also simultaneously catapulted myself in front of my computer screen sobbing hysterically and have managed to google every anti-ageing cream, lotion, chemical peel and Botox situation in a 50-kilometre radius.
I don’t think I am being over dramatic when I say, LIFE AS I KNOW IT IS OVER and I am now going to live my life under a burlap bag.

I have to admit though, this hasn’t actually been quite the surprise as I first thought.

There may have been early warning signs.

I do sometimes find myself standing somewhere and cannot remember why or how I got there.

I search for longer than someone who does not have dementia should, for my glasses… while wearing my glasses. Oh yeah and I NOW WEAR GLASSES!
Hhhhhhoooooooo deep breaths Emma, deep breaths, 123,123,123.

There’s more..

I also have discovered there are more vitamin supplements and ‘keep me regular’ activity in my bathroom vanity then there are lipsticks or perfumes.

I buy comfortable underpants now not pretty ones – and it seems I now call them underpants! eeeep shield me from your judging, menacing eyes!

I spend more money on chiropractic pillows than I do shoes (this sentence has me now curled up on the floor banging my face against a glass pane).

While I am down here, I sat in a massage chair at the mall last week and had 2 goes.

I also walked past a Miller’s store while at the mall (for those of you young hipsters not familiar with Millers it caters to the 60 yrs plus crowd), and I thought to myself, that’s a mighty fine sweater.
I guess it’s OK to think these thoughts once and a while, as you pass a store, but cut to me 5 minutes later cramming 4 for $60.00 in a bag as I seriously weighed up the 2 for 1 flannel night shirts and you begin to think there is something going on here.
Maybe I should just succumb – buy a velour pantsuit and book in for a blue rinse.
The worst part is, my head is not as wise as my wrinkles make me.
While on the outside I am looking older and more mature, learned even.. underneath I am Pee Wee Herman meets a labrador puppy.

For instance, I don’t get myself into conversations with grownups…err I mean people, about insurance of any kind, because I do not understand what it is or what its all about. When I am in these conversations, I tend to say the word ‘rebate’ very carefully not to arouse suspicion.

You don’t even want to know what I manage to say when discussing negative gearing.

I have trouble navigating my way through any kind of public transport scenario, again I think this is something for grownups and have to have a 10 minute pep talk before buying a train ticket and I ask several times which platform and what do I do when the doors open.

I am not very good at washing clothes like other grown ups are, once there is a stain…it shall remain so – I usually just sadly and pathetically chuck it in the bin.

I leave clothes on the floor at the end of the day, and I sometimes eat vegemite on toast for dinner.

I still drink from a George Michael cup and wear a vintage Stuissy tshirt to bed…I say vintage because, it’s mine..like originally from 1992.

I listen to people in meetings and think about all the big words I can use so they don’t catch on I am a total faker, it does not matter how wrinkly I am or how many years of experience I have, when amongst grownups, I still feel like the 4 year old girl in her mum’s high heels looking up at everybody.

SO here I sit, looking old yet feeling helplessly young.

What to do, what to do..

I think my only real, clear option is to go ahead and book in for some botox as well as an industrial strength chemical peel, so that I look as fresh and youthful as one of the Real Housewives of Miami….

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Can you believe she is 87! She doesn’t look a day over 32!

I could also go for Barry’s approach to ageing gracefully. Queue Music!

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OOOOOOOOoooooh Maaaaaaandy, you came and you gave without tak-ing.

Love Em

xoxo

Shingle Bells.

centerpiece.
A yuletide tale.

My family quite simply, is BANANAS!

Exhibit A.
Exhibit A.

I do love them for it, but when I have spent more than 24 hours with them collectively, I come out the other side feeling exhausted, dehydrated, light sensitive and unable to cope with loud noises. I need to sit in a quiet corner and rock back and forth for a bit till I am able to talk and move again.

When it comes to us and Christmas though, I need to break out my survival kit following carefully steps 1 through to 7 ensuring hard liquor is around step 3 and I utilise electrical tape around step 5. Add a near death experience with a delightfully young, tattooed man during a boxing day road rage incident; a blow up mattress that won’t blow up; a critically acclaimed pavlova making mother, who nervously just wants to know how much longer it needs in the oven, and asks every 5 minutes… and secondly where her wine glass is; me failing at 5 pavlova making attempts, partly to step 3, partly due to my mother’s critiquing eyes; and a flipping selfie stick protruding my personal space perimeter.

…and the Pièce de résistance – my brother-in-law, self-appointed star of this year’s tale, who this time around brought along an intensely painful case of head Shingles….you heard correctly, HEAD SHINGLES…on his head..kinda sorta piercing his brain.

Yep, we have ourselves a very special Xanax Christmas! Deck the halls and someone pass the mulled wine!

I really wouldn’t swap this loud lot for the world. I am the youngest of 4 children and we 3 girls (we have a much older brother living interstate) and my mother are so close, very close and with closeness comes excitement; laughing; wine; tears; yelling; anger; loud noises; leakages; hiding in cupboards to scare each other; singing and coffee. This is usually in the first 5 minutes of being together.

My husband Luke who people often describe as a quiet man will usually wear industrial grade ear muffs the whole time we are all together, under the guise of being in the middle of important lawn mowing business. I see through his flimsy facade. Those lawns are not being mowed..he has his own survival kit in full swing!

So this Christmas well, where do I begin? It is all a cloudy blur to me now, I do have flashbacks but my hypnotherapist assures me a few sessions will sort that out.

I remember snippets, mainly my brother-in-law and the cloud of painkillers he arrived on (to ward off the shingle pain attacks…. to the head). He informed me upon arriving that scientists have said these attacks were also known as suicide headaches because they are so painful you want to crack your head against a wall when they are happening to knock yourself out.
Rum Ball anyone?
It then became quite clear that our beloved shingley man was also quite heavily under the influence of the aforementioned pain meds, so the conversations were interesting and intense and pretty much the reason 5 of my pavlova attempts failed – having someone screaming in your ear ‘that’s not how you whip egg whites’ before laying down on the kitchen floor ..does not help whipping of egg whites.
My sister (his wife) was in a coping mechanism trance of her own, just saying yes to everything he said to keep it all nice and calm. She was truth be told, loving how much he was talking to her and in particular that he was saying yes to her shopping trips and holiday plans..she had hit temporary spousal nirvana and I was not getting in her way.

I haven’t mentioned the kids yet have I?

Well, that is because there is not much to say, as they were too busy sitting back, eyes wide open, watching all the adults like a matinee performance of Circ du Soleil.

I really believed I was Martha Stewart, sent to my family to spread glitter and candy canes and mason jars filled with eucalyptus cuttings festively…however after a bottle and a half of step 3, it all now looked more like the Christmas display at spotlight…sad and ugly with someone under the table sleeping off a bender (shingles).
We managed to finally make it to the table together, to celebrate what life is all about. I took a moment to take in each gorgeous face before me, love bursting through my chest, this really is the point of life, the day we work all year towards, coming together in peace and love and…‘Oh God quick, someone help, he is having a suicide headache!’

Like a frontline paramedic team, they whip into action. One grabs a cold washer, one grabs a timer and the other a selfie stick. I have not witnessed such family choreography since the Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
Yep as bananas as they are….that was it…that’s all I had to say.

The truth is they all know I out-crazy them on a quiet day too.

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Better go, we still haven’t found the cat and my Brother-in- law is lying on the kitchen floor again, singing desperado and trying to put the selfie stick in the oven. Oh shit, the Pav!!!!

Em xoxo

New Kid.

Pencil skirt, tick!

Corporate buzz words, tick!

No idea what the hell I am doing whilst getting paid, tick!

Yes, everyone within close vicinity of me can now breathe a sigh of relief, because the whinging will now cease, for ’tis true, I have scored myself a job!

That’s right Scooby Doo, a real Rrrrrrrob!!!!

I am back working for the man, having pow wows and conference calls, making pie charts and fist pumping people while I chit chat by the water cooler.

Sigh, I only wish I were that cool.

Instead I am forced to do that thing we all have to do at some point in life.

Be the new kid.

And unfortunately for me, I don’t seem to be the kind of new kid we all loved at school either, you know the one.. steps into the classroom with a sick spiral perm, rocking a slap bangle and a 90210 pencil case. The world (playground) was that kid’s oyster.

Everyone wanted to be their friend. That curly haired, shiny new toy from the big smoke. Kids would line up to lead them around and show them where the good bubblers were, and provide the inside on what handball comps they should definitley get in on.

Me, not so shiny.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I am in the corner kicking rocks and eating a devon sandwich..Ok well that did happen on Tuesday but that’s only because I got locked out of the building at lunch time.

I digress.

First days are always full of nerves for me.

It may come as a shock to you all but I am quite tragically shy and awkward especially in unknown situations. Whilst I am in some cases quite confident, in others..well I am a frail vitamin D deficient child who is scared of the sun. I seriously turn from relaxed and happy go lucky into a frightened, skittish field mouse scared of everything the minute I am forced to face small talk with new people. I HATE small talk.

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I actually tried a water cooler conversation yesterday, about the weather. They looked at me like I had just told them I had given birth to 6 lamingtons and would they like them for morning tea (actually, how tops would that be!..no wait).

I HATE being the new kid.

Fun conversations between them all, about weekend activities whizzing past my head as I try to look cool as a cucumber, hoping no one has noticed I have somehow caught my skirt in the desk draw and can’t unlock it…nope it’s jammed.

The cool kids asking each other who wants a latte, while I realise I have managed to get blue ink all over my face, chewing it in an attempt to look like I was concentrating on a report and not my sans caffeine hurt feelings.

Yes that’s the other factor we all need to remind ourselves of, aside from new kid jitters… Emma’s law; what can go wrong, will go wrong!

So far this week I have;

Locked myself out of the building and had to call someone I spoke to only once, to let me back in.

Was talking to myself while under a desk setting up a video conferencing call, not realising it had been set up and I was beaming out live to 23 people.

Tried a little too hard to show off to the Comms team my expertise in laminating perfection, and jammed the whole god damn machine.. it was a cool smoke machine for a good 5 minutes though (silver linings!)

Lost an armful of work during a homeless man/ skip bin mishap that I would rather not ever think about again.

Skirt update….still jammed and I am about to rip my way to freedom.

It has only been a week.

The upside is I am slowly settling in, and this afternoon on my way home from work I think I will be ok and not have to sing along loudly to Echosmith’s Cool Kids while sobbing and cursing to myself in the rear view mirror on what my life has become. ..baby steps.

I will be OK,  people around here are actually very nice.

They are even starting to ask me to move out of their way and to help them carry stuff.

As long as I keep thinking about the words of my guru Brenda Walsh and remember ‘Everyone here looks like they stepped out of a music video. I don’t even have the right hair’.

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No wait that’s not the one..

‘Nobody knows me here Brandon! I could be anybody. I could be somebody’!!!!!.

Does the chemist still sell spiral perms in a box?

Love Em xoxo

Too much to camambert.

Saying goodbye is never easy. In fact, it is one of the hardest things us emotionally frail humans are forced to endure.

I have said goodbye to a lot of things in my life, friendships, jobs, homes, pets, George Michael’s heterosexuality, the 90’s tv show Felicity…nope, nope, actually that one still hits a raw nerve.

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But this week I have had to say goodbye to one of the best friends I have ever known. Wait. First, let me dim the lights and cue Sarah McLachlan’s ‘ I Will Remember You’.

 

Ok, where were we? I say best friend, however, the reason for me letting it go is because it really hasn’t been good to me at all. Sure they provided comfort, blissfully bitey times and an awakening to so many new experiences and tastes, but not without the bad stuff too…digestive bad stuff. I won’t go into it, but let’s just say it was one of those trips to the chemist where you keep your sunglasses on and buy hand cream and cotton balls to hide the real reason you are there, you know…rhymes with shonstipation…

Oh the pain is too much to bear, (no, not my downstairs problems, we have moved on). What will I do without a weekend cheese board with blue vein, fromart, goats cheese and brie? A slice of Gouda or a bite of Jarlsberg here and there, yes as hard as it is to decree;

I HAVE SAID GOODBYE TO BELOVED CHEESE!!

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I am taking deep breaths and doing what grown ups do. Making sacrifices for the good of my health, so it’s time to put down the kraft cheese single and embrace all things Paleo! YAY! I am, what sophisticated circles are calling ‘a Paleoist’. I think I just made up a word?

The excitement of this cheesy epiphany has caused me to get ahead of myself, so let’s take a step back.

It has been a busy few weeks here in Casa De Brooker. Nothing really spectacular or out of the ordinary but busy; oh yeah, I did do that one cartwheel upstairs on our new temptingly empty, springy carpeted living room and was pretty fricking chuffed with myself. ..but aside from that not much else to report on.

On the non-spectacular, nothing out of the ordinary front, I have been busily writing a bajillion job applications whilst dealing with the prospect I am unemployed and no one seems to think I am marvelous enough to hire. In the moments I get away from my laptop I am usually found raiding our kitchen pantry from boredom and trying to see if I can make a procrastination snack with only home brand cooking chocolate, peanut butter and cruskits.

There is a silver lining though, and hence my reason for this very post!

Whilst being unemployed does crush the soul and creates a black hole of dirt poor we are slowly sinking into. I also see a teeny, tiny grain of fantastic in my current predicament. I have had the chance to really focus on me. Which is something apparently everyday folk don’t get a good go at, when stupid annoying things like jobs and children get in the way.

SO quick history lesson, I completed a program that saw me lose 16 kilos about 9 months ago and I had to ditch it for various health issues, thus gaining back 5 quite quickly, I KNOW sucks right….the life of someone with PCOS. *sad face.

Oh yeah, I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. (boooo) It’s the non ‘cysts on the ovaries’ kind, for the record my ovaries are pink and pretty and just dandy (yaaaaay).

SO because of the PCOS that raids my body, I started reading A LOT  and conducting my own research project with all my spare time, and in a nutshell, paleo is awesome for fat PCOS sufferers wanting to get knocked up,..so paleo shall be my religion!!  Please don’t ask me what PCOS is kids, because I was kinda too busy in my doctor’s office when she was explaining it to me, staring at that plastic vagina trying to memorize it, so I could check mine out later at home and see if it looked the same. Feel free to google it ..google away…PCOS, NOT MY VAGINA!!!

All I do know is a lot of studies have been done and sweet, innocent unsuspecting dairy is apparently a big iron poker to the flame that is my PCOS and said fatness.

Can I do it? Can I cut the cheese..wait, what?

Look I sure hope I can, I have already pretty much cut grains and sugars (“pretty much” legally covers me if you happen to come across me inhaling a sugar sandwich in a dark alleyway somewhere), so I am willing to give it a red hot go!

I will touch base and let you all know how it goes. I have the shakes already and I only started an hour ago. I had Parmesan sprinkled on my salad for dinner (pffff Parmesan doesn’t count, it’s a definitely a condiment, not a cheese).

I am so proud of myself at the moment I really am.

 

It is so completely worth making these small sacrifices for a bit of health and wellness.

But..if you do ever see me in a baseball cap and sunglasses ordering a pizza or cheese sandwich, just know it’s me having an off day and give me a wave.

Em x

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Come on, talk to me…give me some inspiration! Have you ever had to give up something you loved? Can it be done?