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Category: - Things You Might Love

  1. Poem - A Journey Unfolds

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    In the hushed whispers of a searching soul,
    A voyage unfurls, a tale to extol.
    A spirit adrift, seeking its true form,
    Amidst the tumultuous seas, weathering the storm.

    In the mirrored depths, reflections distort,
    A kaleidoscope of identities sought.
    For within, a truth murmurs softly,
    A gender unseen, yet yearned for loftily.

    Through winding paths and trials profound,
    Resilience thrives, where doubts abound.
    Each stride forward, a triumph of will,
    Embracing the journey, undeterred still.

    From society's gaze to inner contemplation,
    Navigating complexities, a transformation.
    With every heartbeat, a soul finds its tune,
    In the symphony of self, beneath the moon.

    The world may resist, with ignorance rife,
    But within the spirit, a beacon of life.
    Transcending boundaries, breaking through,
    A testament to courage, tried and true.

    Acceptance blooms like a sacred vow,
    In the garden of love, here and now.
    For in embracing oneself, wholly and free,
    Lies the essence of existence, unconditionally.

    So let the currents of change guide the way,
    As the journey unfolds, day by day.
    For in the embrace of authenticity's grace,
    Resides the profundity of a trans soul's embrace.

    By Shaz

  2. Completely Random Christmas Facts!

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    Happy bit after Christmas! I hope you all have been having a wonderful time.

    I spent this Christmas listening to Bill Bryson's book about Christmas on Audible, so I am going to share a few here. I just love knowledge and history (yes, I know I say that a lot!) and Google do like me to update my site with content, so here are some Christmas facts! 

    1. Ancient Origins: The roots of Christmas celebrations can be traced back to ancient pagan festivals that celebrated the winter solstice, such as the Roman Saturnalia and the Germanic Yule.

    2. Christian Adaptation: Christmas as we know it today was adapted by early Christians to coincide with these pagan festivals, with December 25th chosen as the date to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

    3. Oliver Cromwell's Ban: In the 17th century, Christmas celebrations were banned in England by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, who viewed the holiday as too frivolous and pagan in nature. They weren't a lot of fun, those Puritans!

    4. Dickensian Influence: Charles Dickens played a significant role in shaping modern Christmas traditions with his novella "A Christmas Carol," which popularized themes of charity, family, and redemption. It is a myth however that he "invented Christmas". It's true that it had been on the decline in the years before, but it was already seeing a resurgence of celebration and Dickens capitalised on that. 

    5. Royal Christmas Trees: The tradition of decorating Christmas trees in Britain can be traced back to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who popularized the custom in the 19th century after they were depicted with a decorated tree in an illustration for the Illustrated London News. They wanted to promote family life, and what better than a happy family picture around a Christmas tree. 

    6. Mince Pies: Traditional British mince pies originally contained meat, such as beef or mutton, along with fruits and spices. It makes me think of the Friends episode with the Rachel and the meat trifle! Over time, the recipe evolved to exclude meat, becoming the sweet, fruit-filled treat that most of you enjoy today, just not me! 

    7. Boxing Day: December 26th, known as Boxing Day in the UK, has its origins in the practice of giving boxes of gifts or money to servants and tradespeople as a token of appreciation for their service throughout the year.

    8. Christmas Crackers: The tradition of pulling Christmas crackers, which contain paper hats, jokes, and small toys, originated in the mid-19th century by British confectioner Tom Smith, who was inspired by French bonbons wrapped in paper twists. 


    1. Coca-Cola Santa: While Coca-Cola's advertising campaigns in the 20th century did contribute to popularizing the image of Santa Claus in a red suit, the character himself predates these advertisements by centuries, originating from the figure of Saint Nicholas.

    2. Christmas in Bethlehem: Despite popular belief, historical evidence suggests that Jesus was likely born in the spring or summer, rather than on December 25th. The choice of December 25th as the date for Christmas was influenced by the timing of pagan festivals celebrating the winter solstice.

    I'm sure there were a lot more, but I can't remember any more alas. That *may* be the mulled wine! 

  3. Guest Post - Alex's Story

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    Embracing Truth: A Journey of Self-Discovery

    In the heart of a bustling city, amidst the chaotic symphony of honking cars and hurried footsteps, there lived a soul named Alex. From the outside, Alex appeared like any other person, but inside, she harbored a secret—a truth waiting to be unveiled.

    Born into a body that didn't quite match her essence, Alex grappled with her identity for years. It wasn't until she stumbled upon the word "transgender" that a glimmer of understanding illuminated her path. With each step forward, she shed the weight of societal expectations and embraced her true self—a woman trapped in a man's body.

    The journey to self-acceptance was not without its challenges. Alex faced skepticism from those around her, including friends and family who struggled to comprehend her truth. Yet, amidst the doubts and uncertainties, she found solace in the unwavering support of a few cherished souls.

    One such beacon of light was Maya, a transgender woman who had traversed a similar path. Maya became Alex's mentor, guiding her through the complexities of transitioning and offering a shoulder to lean on during the darkest of days. With Maya's encouragement, Alex found the courage to embark on the journey of a lifetime—a journey toward authenticity and freedom.

    As Alex navigated the maze of medical appointments and legal paperwork, she discovered a newfound sense of empowerment coursing through her veins. Each hormone treatment and therapy session brought her one step closer to aligning her outer appearance with her inner truth. And with each passing day, Alex shed the layers of doubt and insecurity that had plagued her for so long.

    But the true test of her resilience came when she decided to publicly embrace her identity. With trembling hands and a heart pounding with anticipation, Alex stood before a crowd of strangers and declared, "My name is Alex, and I am a woman."

    The room fell silent as Alex's words hung in the air, but instead of scorn or ridicule, she was met with an outpouring of love and acceptance. Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks as she realized that she was not alone—that there were others who understood her journey and stood beside her, ready to lift her up in times of need.

    From that moment on, Alex lived her truth unabashedly, embracing every facet of her identity with pride and defiance. She refused to be confined by society's narrow definitions of gender, choosing instead to carve out her own path—a path paved with courage, compassion, and unwavering authenticity.

    In the years that followed, Alex became a beacon of hope for others struggling to find their place in a world that often seemed indifferent to their existence. She used her voice to advocate for transgender rights, speaking out against discrimination and inequality with a fierce determination that could not be silenced.

    But perhaps the most powerful lesson Alex learned on her journey was the importance of self-love. For it was in accepting herself fully and unconditionally that she found the strength to weather life's storms and emerge stronger than ever before.

    And so, dear reader, remember this: No matter who you are or where you come from, your truth is valid, and your journey is worthy of celebration. Embrace it with open arms, and know that you are never alone. For in the vast tapestry of humanity, there is a place for each and every one of us—a place where we can shine brightly and live our lives authentically, just like Alex.

  4. 5 Hidden Gems for Boosting Your Daily Mental Health

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    In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it's easy to overlook the little things that can have a big impact on our mental well-being. I certainly feel the strain of the shorter days, and try to pack a lot more into daylight than I do in the summer, and this takes a toll. While popular strategies like exercise and mindfulness meditation are undeniably beneficial, there are some lesser-known techniques that can work wonders for our mental health. Here are five hidden gems that I plan to try this winter that you might not have heard of:

    1. **Gratitude Visualization Sessions:**
    Take a few minutes each day to visualize three things you're grateful for. But here's the twist: imagine those things in vivid detail. Whether it's the warmth of sunlight streaming through your window, the aroma of your morning coffee, or the smile on a loved one's face, immerse yourself in the sensory experience of gratitude. This practice not only shifts your focus to the positive aspects of life but also trains your brain to notice and appreciate the little joys that often go unnoticed.

    2. **Sensory Grounding Exercises:**
    Engage your senses in simple yet powerful grounding exercises. For instance, carry a small vial of essential oil with you and inhale its calming scent whenever you feel stressed or anxious. Alternatively, keep a smooth stone in your pocket and rub it between your fingers to soothe frazzled nerves. By connecting with your senses in moments of distress, you can anchor yourself to the present moment and alleviate feelings of overwhelm.

    3. **Random Acts of Kindness Journaling:**
    Make it a daily habit to perform at least one random act of kindness and then journal about it in detail. It could be as small as complimenting a stranger or as significant as volunteering your time for a cause you believe in. Reflecting on your acts of kindness fosters a sense of purpose and connection with others, boosting your self-esteem and overall sense of well-being.

    4. **Nature Bathing Breaks:**
    Take regular "nature bathing" breaks throughout your day, even if it's just for a few minutes. Step outside and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and sensations of the natural world around you. Feel the grass beneath your feet, listen to the chirping of birds, and breathe in the fresh air deeply. Research suggests that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety, and rumination, while enhancing mood and cognitive function.

    5. **Laughter Therapy Sessions:**
    Dedicate time each day to indulge in laughter therapy. Seek out humorous content that tickles your funny bone, whether it's a comedy podcast, a funny movie, or silly cat videos on the internet. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Plus, sharing a laugh with others strengthens social bonds and fosters a sense of camaraderie.

    I've read recently how incorporating these five hidden gems into your daily routine can work wonders for your mental health, helping you cultivate resilience, joy, and inner peace amidst life's ups and downs. So, why not give them a try with me this winter? I think anything is worth a try to help us find those little sparks that make us that little bit happier every day :) 

    sign-2014-8-20-15.2.46 xxxx

  5. Pride London 2023

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    For the first time I was able to go to Pride in London this year, and it was fabulous! I live near Brighton, so I've been to our Pride Parade many times, but this was a London first.

    It was so lovely to be around such a happy crowd of people, celebrating love and diversity.

    Here are some of my piccies from the day. 


    It went on for hours after this, but I was with my daughter and we were desperate for a drink and a sit down.  The start was delayed for an hour due to protestors, so we'd been there a loooong time! We watched again from another place later, but we too far back for pictures. 

    I'd absolutely recommend going to anyone, dressed up or not! 

  6. Feminist Icon - Angelica Kauffmann (1741–1807)

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    I have just spent my lunchtime reading about this remarkable woman, so I just wanted to share a little info about her here. I do love to highlight the achievements of feminist icons and trailblazers through the years.

    Angelica Kauffmann


    Anglica was a painter, who carved her way in the male dominated world of art and became hugely successful in London and Rome. She was born on 30th October 1741 in Chur, Switzerland. Her father was an impoverished artist who encouraged his daughter's interest in art. By the age of 11, Angelica's prodigious talents were widely recognised: she was a gifted musician, spoke four languages, and was commissioned to paint portraits of aristocrats and members of the clergy.

    Her mother died when Angelica was 13 and she and her father moved from Como to Milan and then to Schwarzenberg in Austria before returning to Italy, where Angelica became a member of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze in 1762 – an extraordinary achievement for a woman of only 21. As famous for her charm as she was for her artistic gifts, she became a fashionable portraitist for British tourists in Rome – then the centre of the Western art world – and became close friends with Joshua Reynolds (they painted each other's portraits).


    The year before the inauguration of the Royal Academy, however, Angelica's life was marred by a terrible scandal: she was duped into marrying a man who presented himself as Frederick de Horn, a wealthy Swedish count. He was in fact a penniless valet. The relationship ended after a few months, but not before he had humiliated Angelica and stolen her savings

    Thankfully, in the wake of these devastating events, Angelica's friends rallied around and she gradually recovered financially – she was, by now, supporting her father and paying for the running of her household. Although Angelica earned her living primarily as a portrait painter – we know of 22 portraits, of which nine are self-portraits – she considered herself primarily a history painter.


    In 1766, encouraged by Joshua Reynolds, Angelica moved to London, where she introduced the latest neoclassical ideas and established herself as a professional artist. Although 'self-advertisement was thought to be unfeminine', she was a canny self-promoter. Two months after her arrival, she wrote to her father: 'I have four rooms, one in which I paint, the other where I set up my finished paintings as is here the custom [so that] the people [can] come into the house to sit – to visit me – or to see my work; I could not possibly receive people in a poorly furnished house.'


    In 1781, in London, Angelica married the Venetian artist Antonio Zucchi – a man, by all accounts, who was the opposite of her first husband. In July that year, accompanied by her father, they sailed for Ostend and eventually settled in Venice, where Angelica's portraits were in high demand. However, when her father died in the city in January 1782, Angelica couldn't bear to stay. Grief-stricken, they moved to Naples, where Angelica made sketches for a royal portrait, and then to Rome, where she became close friends with the renowned writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe whom she painted in 1787.

    When Angelica died in 1807, she had successfully infiltrated the male-dominated world of classical and portrait art in both London and Rome, and established herself as a leading artist of her time. Although Kauffmann had been embraced by the Royal Academy, the battle for equality was far from over. It took 168 years from the appointments of Kauffmann and Mary Moser for a woman to be elected to full membership of the Royal Academy, with the arrival of Laura Knight in 1936.


    Thank you to for the information and Jennifer Higgie who wrote the fabulous article. If you would like to read more about Angelica you can see her Tate page here and her Wikipedia page here

  7. Guest Post - By Paige - From Self-Destruct to Daylight

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    I hear such amazing stories of customer journeys that are inspiring and thought provoking for me.  Recently, I realised that these stories are too important to not be shared, and I have asked a few customers if they'd like to guest post here.  I have been very lucky that they have agreed and many found it to be cathartic and fulfilling,  and often it brings hope that it will help others.

    First up is Paige, who has come to her trans journey later in life, and who's journey of self-discovery is really blossoming.  Hopefully her story will inspire you, and if you are moved by anything you read, please do get in touch if you need support.  

    From Paige:

    Where to start with this is never easy and including every aspect of the entire journey is virtually impossible,  so I'll miss out the first forty something years and cut straight to the interesting bit,, if you want to hear about the depressing years I'll tell them, but another time,  I'll start this little story from summer 2020, I'm 47 years old and fest becoming a non intoxicated person, as for many years of my past I was on a self destruct mission,  but I guess only half heartedly as I'm still here and in relative good health,  so all my life ever since I was a child I wanted to be female,  this was very unacceptable in the late 70s and 80s and lead to the subsequent self destruct ,, what changed, when it changed,  I have no idea but somehow I found myself in 2020 a year that was hideous for so many and yet it seemed my time to live and love life and myself for the first time I can remember had arrived,  
    I've dressed feminine indoors all the time, never venturing outside except under cover of darkness with my dog for protection, luckily I live on the very outskirts of the city and its always been quiet,   the thing about being closeted and scared of your own life is its very easy to convince yourself that what you are doing is for the best and never consider how it's effecting you mentally, a kind of brainwashing on one's self,  I'd tell myself 'I'll be fine staying indoors '  and 'I'm a realist, I could never pass anyway so no point trying '  bad defeatist thoughts that have festered for a lifetime and now bit by bit becoming eradicated from my mind,, 
    So summer 2020 , I join my first online transgender group, and meet for the first time people like me,  by the way I've still to this day never met a transgender person in real life,, anyway at this point I'm once again determined to discover myself, what I'm supposed to do with these feelings of trapped frustration,  the dilemma of feeling feminine and looking not feminine and not even acting feminine but I slowly discover I'm not the only one,, however the group seems quiet to me and no-one really wants to do video chat and I'm desperate to be seen, for validation, so I join a second group which covers the whole of Scotland, its very much more active and they are doing many things on video so, I decide the Saturday night meeting seems good one week games night one week movie night finally I'm visible but after only a couple of meetings it's not enough or moving forward I need to know if I'm good enough to get outside,, so I'm asking and asking until eventually someone gave me the answer I guess I needed to hear,  and it's very simple,  I am good enough, no matter what I look like as long as I'm me, as long as I'm projecting what I feel, dressing how I want,  there's not a soul on earth who has the right to judge me,, or anyone else who may be in a similar dilemma to mine,  so from summer to November I cultivated my new me as the indoors me was not entirely suitable for day to day living,,, November 25th I step outside in daylight hours and I haven't dressed male since that day now my name is Paige,  I love being me and I feel love for the people around me even when they just look at me and don't know what to say or think it's a big change for everyone close to me and close by but I've had almost no negativity.
    I'm sure a lot of you will connect with her experiences and others will be interested to read about another's life experience, and be glad that Paige has moved passed a self-destruct phase to digging in deep and confronting her feelings.  We all know how hard that is for anyone to do.  Thank you very much Paige for sharing your story.
    If you'd like to share your story, no matter how long or short, I'd love to hear from you.  You can just send me an email at any time.
  8. My Latest Loves

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    I'm not a big fan of anything, in particular, bar Harry Potter, but  thought I'd share a few of my latest finds in case you are looking for a new book or TV show to enrich your weekend!


    The Greatcoats series, by the Canadian writer Sebastien de Castell.


     There are 4 books in total and I really liked them :) 

    Genre: They are Three Musketeers style set in a fantasy world with fantasy elements.

    Pros:  Simple easy reading with a full plot, a sense of adventure, and a moral compass.  Personally, I really enjoyed the strong female characters.

    If you like audiobooks, then Joe Jameson who has narrated them all is amazing. He is a character actor, so brings each to life with their own voice.

    Cons: Some of the dialogue was a little samey. 


    TV Show:


    I've really taken to this and watch it with my 12-year-old daughter. There have been 7 seasons, and although it is only on top TV packages in the UK, I have seen it popping up on Amazon prime TV, etc. 

    alone image

    Genre: Real-life survival. 

    Synopsis: It's a competition, but not like any I've ever seen.  It has 10 competitors who are dropped in the middle of nowhere, literally on their own, and have to survive as long as possible in order to win. They are not dropped off somewhere idyllic, they are put somewhere super hard to survive.  These are people that teach this stuff for a living or live quite self-sufficiently in real life. The early seasons were on the overgrown Vancouver Island, but they have also had Mongolia and The Antarctic for season 7, but I'm yet to watch that one! 

    Pros: It's facinating to watch people adapt and survive, try and preserve their mental health whilst being alone. We are naturally social beings, so seeing how they manage to overcome the obstacle of being alone as well as feeding themselves and running low on energy is so interesting. It doesn't glorify the hunting that they have to do but shows what is necessary to survive.

    Cons: I love the show but I should imagine it is quite hard for some vegetarians/vegans to watch. There is some killing of animals for food.


    Official Secrets


    Genre: Real-life drama/thriller with Keira Knightly.

    Synopsis:  Based on the true story of Katharine Gun, a whistleblower at GCHQ, it focuses on the lead up to the Iraq Invasion.

    Pros: I found it captivating. Great performances from Keira and Matt Smith

    Cons: From what I read it is factually quite accurate, but any movie needs taking with a little pinch of salt. Not that this is a "con" really. I loved it!


    Do let me know if you have any recommendations for me!


    sign-2014-8-20-15.2.46 xxx


  9. Feminist Icon - Alan Jope and Unilever

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    Alan Jope (836x1132)  UnileverLogo_1920x1080px_RGB-1-1 

    I read that 43% of managers within Unilever are women, and I just had to read up more about it as this is not the kind of percentage I normally see.  It seems that their CEO is an active feminist and a member of the He-For-She campain.  Go Alan and go Unilever!  It's not quite 50%, or even 57% to 43% men, but it's a ratio significantly higher than many other multinational profit driven companies. They have looked through the layers of the company, including to the farms and producers working for them.  It says to me that they are moving in the right direction and have tried to actively culture a business of feminist equality and safety.  I dare say they have some way to go, but they seem to be aware of the issues and are not just focusing on women within offices.  

    Their official statement on women within the company goes as follows:

    IMPACT Commitments

    Expand opportunities and provide access to skills and training for women across the Unilever value chain.

    Unilever believes that creating opportunities and providing access to skills and training is critical to expanding female participation in the economy. Unilever provides training to women in their extended supply chain and distribution channels, including agricultural, business and literacy training. Besides working with smallholder farmers (around 30% of Unilever smallholder farmers are women), Unilever also equips female small-scale retailers with business skills and access to tools and technology to develop successful businesses. In order to drive sustainable growth and transform lives, families, communities and economies, Unilever will continue to build upon existing programmes to provide a holistic approach to skills & training. By the end of 2014, around 168,000 female smallholder farmers had completed qualified skills training delivered or made possible by Unilever and another 70,000 micro-entrepreneurs were trained in India.

    Improve the safety of women & girls in communities where Unilever operates.

    1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime. Unilever aims to improve safety for women and girls in the communities where they operate including their extended supply chain. Unilever’s approach focuses on the prevention of incidents through increased education and awareness, as well as improving the grievance and reporting procedures. One example is the programme launched in 2013, on the Kericho tea plantation in Kenya, which covers 12,000 permanent workers, and up to 5,000 seasonal workers. Since the programme launch, there have been substantial improvements in the way sexual harassment issues are addressed, as well as opportunities for girls to engage in social activities and mentoring. This programme has a big impact, reaching those who live in company villages on the estates. Unilever will scale this successful program in the next 5 years, by identifying the highest priority regions & countries.

    Build a gender-balanced organisation with a focus on management.

    Unilever employs more than 172,000 people around the world. As of 2014, 43% of managers at Unilever were female. Unilever believes gender-balanced teams make better business decisions and recognises that management sets the tone for the rest of their business. Some examples of the initiatives to build a gender balanced organisation are: sustained leadership accountability and clear targets continuously reviewed and monitored; inclusion leadership training for employees; programs to recruit, retain and develop women talent e.g. Balanced shortlists, Maternity & Paternity support, women’s development and mentoring programs and employee engagement communications to build organisational engagement around inclusion and diversity.

    Unilever are not the kind of company I would expect to be paying an interest in feminist issues, so it's lovely to see.  I'd expect to see companies that produce sanitiary towels etc, like Kimberly Clark, to be aware of making their voice heard on the issue, so it is wonderful to see a company that makes such a wide range of products (Ben and Jerry's, Radox, Marmite and Lipton to name just a few!) being aware of the importance of balance and female importance in business, in all layers.

    I hope due to their work with the He-For-She campaign, and with Alan's leadership, they have kept their momentum with their equality work.  I salute you Unilever.  


  10. Feminist Icon - Dame Jean Macnamara

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    I'm heading overseas today with a little bio about Dr Macnamara. An Australian doctor and medical scientist, Dame Jean Macnamara applied her tireless work ethic to better understand and treat various forms of paralysis including polio. Her work contributed to the development of a successful polio vaccine in 1955.

    Annie Jean Macnamara was born in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia1899, and as a teenager during World World I felt a strengthened resolve “to be of some use in the world.” Standing just 152cm tall, the forthright Dr. Macnamara proved to be a force to be reckoned with. 

    Dr. Macnamara graduated from medical school in 1925, the same year a polio epidemic struck the capital city of Melbourne. As a consultant and medical officer to the Poliomyelitis Committee of Victoria, she turned her focus to treating and researching the potentially fatal virus, a particular risk for children.

    In collaboration with the future Nobel Prize winner Sir Macfarlane Burnet, she discovered in 1931 that there was more than one strain of the poliovirus, a pivotal step towards the development of an effective vaccine nearly 25 years later.

    Dr. Macnamara continued to work with sufferers of the disease—especially children—for the rest of her life, developing new methods of treatment and rehabilitation.

    For her invaluable commitment to children’s lives, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1935. During her lifetime, Dr. Macnamara's research also played a major role in the introduction of myxomatosis to control rabbit plagues, minimising environmental damage across Australia. 

    The polio vaccine has changed millions of lives, so thank you Dr Macnamara.