Joyce Sweatman

Grandma Young


Joyce Cox graced the world with her presence on the 5th October, 1920. She was the daughter of Louis and Margaret Cox, the sister of Ken Cox, and I’m sure; a blessing to all.

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about my Grandma’s childhood, or teenage years. But here is what I do know;

I know that from a young age, Joyce worked in her own Grandmother’s shop, and then went onto work at a Laundrette. Both are roles that I can imagine she enjoyed, and was great at, as she always had time to lend a listening ear to anyone.

One evening in her teenage years, she attended a dance with her cousin Dorothy, and Dorothy’s boyfriend. As fate would have it Dorothy’s boyfriend bought a friend along to this dance, who Joyce clearly thought was a handsome and charming young man, as this man would later become my Grandad.

Grandad

Harold and Joyce married on 17th December, 1938, in what I can only imagine was a magical day. My Grandad passed away when I was quite young, but I can remember there only ever being loving exchanges between them, even in their old age.

Knowing they spent many long, happy years in love with one another, gives me hope for my relationships.

After they were married, Joyce fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl; Julie. How happy and overwhelmed they must have been at this addition to their new family, but unfortunately, and very sadly, Julie died at 18 months old, from meningitis. Joyce went on to have my Uncle Michael, and my Dad… who she was a passionate, generous, strict, and loving mother to. Her sons were, by no doubt, the biggest blessing to her.

Aside from snippets of information, like all of the above, I’m ashamed to say that I really didn’t know that much about who Joyce was, before she was my Grandma.  Words cannot express how devastated I feel that I only had 16 short years to spend with her, and in those 16 years, I never asked the questions I so wish I knew the answers to now…

What was her life like growing up back then?

Did she get along with her parents?

What was school like?

What was she like at school?

Did she have many boyfriends?

What was working like for her?

How did she cope with the war?

What did she think of our generation?

How did she get over the loss of her first child and only daughter?

What was her favourite colour?

And so, so much more.

Selfishly, as a child and as a teenager, my Grandma was just my Grandma in my eyes! It’s only as I got older I realised that her life was so much more than being my Grandmother, and her accomplishments more than just providing me with love and many, many happy memories.

My Grandma was my best friend. She cared for me, she saw only good in me, she praised me and built me up, she was patient with me, kind to me, and so very gentle natured.

Every trial and tribulation I faced, she would face with me, and reassure me that I was special, and loved. No one else could make me feel as loved as she did.

Grandma came to live with us in the last year of her life, something that was both a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, the curse was that I saw her health deteriorate before my very eyes, whilst at the same time I was blessed to be seeing her every day. It was a very positive novelty for me to see my Grandma before and after school, and I remember when I got in the house, the first thing I would do would be to get a drink, go into her room, dump my bag, kick my shoes off, and just talk to her. But, again, rarely seizing the opportunity to find out more about her… she was so patient and willing to just listen to what I had to say.

I can’t beat myself up about this, because I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to. I know I was young, and I know it was an unintentional selfishness that most of us have when we are young.

I am so blessed to have known my Grandma, to have been loved by her. There is not a day that goes by where she is not in my mind, where it’s not painful how much I miss her.

I’m so proud that I had 2 very strong Grandmother figures in my life, that both fought the pain and devastation of losing children, but remained grounded, strong, positive, and loving women.

My Grandma has been the biggest influence in my life, and probably always will be.

If your Grandparents are still around, I’d encourage you to talk to them like they’re not your Grandparents for a while. Ask them questions, listen to them, treat them with the respect they deserve, and try to see past what I couldn’t: that they don’t exist solely to be your Grandparent.

There are smells, and visual ques (such as lavender, sweet peas, Christmas cake, antique mirrors, big buttons, flowery skirts, red cheeks…) that take me right back to being cuddled up on my Grandma’s lap in her lovely cosy home. It devastates me to know that in this life, I can’t be with her again. But, I am so lucky to have some of the happiest memories anyone could ever have, with this incredible, strong, loving woman.

Rest in Peace, my beautiful friend.

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Lagos

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In 52 days and approximately 12 hours from now, I’ll be waking up from a no-doubt light and short slumber, jumping out of bed with the excitement resembling that of a young child on Christmas morning, and scurrying away to wash and dress in a hurry. I’ll leave Oliver asleep for a while, whilst I do some last minute packing of toiletries and chargers, until the time comes when I am fit to burst and can’t wait any longer, then I’ll try to coo a wakeup call softly, because I know my 3am excitement would not be a good match for his 3am grumpy reluctance to exit his sleep (though this is usually the case at 7am too).

Then, soon enough, we’ll be packing the car full of suitcases, in the eerie silence of the early morning, trying not to make a sound but feeling like my heart might beat through my chest. We’ll drive to the airport, where that eerie silence will come to an end as we join the crowds of holiday-goers, whilst the rest of the country are sound asleep in their beds.

Before we know it we’ll be up in the air, reading our e-books on the plane, watching the sunrise out of the windows, and then up, up, up into the clouds.

Finally, it will be touchdown time, that excitement that simmered whilst we were on the 3 hour flight is now bubbling up again as I see the blazing sun on the tarmac out of the window, knowing in just a short amount of time I’ll be back in the place that I love.

Lagos!

Lagos is a beautiful town situated on the western Algarve coastline in Portugal.

I first visited Lagos when I had just turned 18 years old, and it was my first ‘hot’ holiday. I loved everything about it, the weather was unlike anything I had ever experienced- a thorough scorching heat, but made bearable by a soothing breeze blowing gently and consistently from the bright blue sea surrounding the town. The views were incredible, like pictures I had only ever seen in magazines or on films; perfectly sandy beaches, clear, blue skies, caves and coves that were dotted with holes up above, that made the sea water swimming inside them look like a magical lagoon. We went on boat trips, some that dipped in and out of these beautiful rocks, and some that took us miles out into the ocean so that the coastline disappeared. This is where, for the first time in my life, I saw dozens of extraordinary wild dolphins dancing along the sides of the boat, putting on a show for all us awe-inspired passengers, who were ooh-ing and ahh-ing like we were watching a firework display.

I fell completely in love with Lagos, but the thing that really made it my favourite place on earth was the atmosphere, and the people. Unlike here where life often feels like a chore, in Lagos, everybody seemed so care-free and happy. The local people were the friendliest I have ever met, with kind faces, and a look of content about them. People would joke with us as we wondered around the town. The second time I went to Lagos, I had some incredibly interesting conversations with the local residents of the area, about their lives and mine, and I wished the pleasantries could be exchanged for longer than just the week I was there.

So, ever so soon, I’ll be there again, and I just can’t wait. I’m going to my favourite place in the world, with my favourite person in the world.

If you’re looking for somewhere to holiday, this year or the next, or the next, or the next…. I would definitely recommend Lagos 🙂


Bye xo


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Unapologetically You.


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Anyone who knows me well would corroborate the fact that I am one, big, Harry Potter nerd.

The books were a huge part of my childhood and teenage years, and remain as impactful to me to this day. They’ve made me laugh, and they’ve made me cry, and they’ve given me a place to retreat to when I am fed up of mundane, muggle, melodramas.

There are so many reasons I am such a HP fangirl, but one of them is that I love the characters and what they represent.

Luna Lovegood.

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Luna is one of my absolute favourite characters, why? Because, she is unapologetically herself.

She’s a believer in the unbelievable. She soaks up the world like a sponge, she dresses for herself, she defends her beliefs and won’t be treated like a fool, but she’s kind, she is not simple-minded, but makes things so much simpler than they first appear. She’s one of the happiest characters of any of the books I’ve ever read- and she’s the most true to herself.

Yes, yes, I know she’s not real. But isn’t this so accurate? That the happiest character is the one who is true to herself? I love that!

I don’t know about you, but I have spent so much of my life not daring to be my true self, and in all that time that passed I lost who I really was.

It’s like I had a big old trunk full of different masks to wear, and personalities to don, that the real me got buried so deep for so long, I couldn’t find her- in fact, I’m not sure I’d have even known who she was if I had!

For many years I was the perfect sheep, baa-ing away with everyone else.

I’d dress for fashion not for comfort, I put make-up on because I felt like I had to cover up my face- not because I actually wanted to wear it, I played the class clown because it seemed like I needed to make people laugh, I agreed with things I totally disagreed with, I laughed at things that were actually quite offensive…

I was so busy following and copying and hiding, that there were only ever snippets of the real me; like when the sun comes out momentarily on a dull day, to be hidden by a cloud again just a few seconds later.

But here’s what I’ve learnt:

Being anything other than yourself doesn’t really get you that far!

Pretending to be something you’re not for a long period of time is exhausting, and all it’s really given me is some serious mental health issues to address, and a lack of an identity! *Nervous laugh*

I really started noticing this around the age of 21, where I had completely lost all sense of direction, and started a gruelling, grisly, dating rampage.

Oh gosh, on many occasions I was as ridiculous as the men I dated!

I tried to be the perfect balance of demure and exotic, playing the game and acting hard to get, being sexy and sophisticated (something that I should’ve known I could never pull off). I once wore stockings that wouldn’t stay up, so I used that awful double sided body tape- it didn’t keep the stockings up and when the guy touched my leg he got a strip of it stuck to his hand! Oh so sexy, oh so sophisticated.

Actually what snapped me out of the pretending to be something I wasn’t, was that very same: gruelling, grisly, dating rampage.

After some time spent in my self-destructive pit (which wasn’t very cosy at all), I realised that the men I was dating only wanted one thing; and now I know it wouldn’t have mattered if I was a multi-millionaire with a flawless fashion sense and stockings that stayed up on their own, or any other act I put on… it was about them, not me.

It was about their desires, their perceptions, who they were. So, why wasn’t I being myself? It was because I was scared of rejection.

But I also realised that I could never hope to have more with someone whilst pretending to be someone I wasn’t. That exhaustion of pretending, and the desire to have something meaningful with someone, needed to trump the fear of being rejected for not conforming.

I needed to be with someone who could give me more than what I was getting back then, and I needed to be with someone who could accept that I fucking hate stockings! But before I could find that person, I had to find, and accept, myself.

Once I clocked onto this, it was amazing! I was rediscovering my opinions, morals, and beliefs, and my experiences were shaping me into a new person- some of who I used to be, some of who I was to become… I was deciding for myself how I would allow myself to be treated, and who I wouldn’t allow myself to become.

And from that point onward; I have tried to be nothing but, unapologetically, myself.

From not wearing make-up, to standing up for what I believe in, to saying no, to dribbling in front of people (see Harry at the top of the page- that’s me!), to saying yes, to dressing for comfort, to making decisions for me and not others, to being open to change, to letting my legs get hairy every now and then, to eating a big fat burger on a date, to hugging my teddy bear at night with my boyfriend lying next to me…

I don’t believe everyone stays as they are forever, I know I am constantly changing, and developing, but I also know that I am no longer hiding. And this, being me, has got me further in life than ever before… funny, that!

So please, if you’re hiding bits of you behind a mask because you’re afraid of what people may think, afraid of rejection, or afraid of the unknown- know this, you already have one person that thinks your true self is the best version of you… me! 🙂

Learn from the Luna’s of this world: love yourself, and happiness comes from within.

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Bye xo

Gender Inequality- oh yes, I’m going there.

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Ever since I decided I was a feminist, around age 16, I have heard the same things over and over again:

‘You man-hater!’

‘Feminists are so tetchy!’

‘Women have equal rights to men now anyway.’

‘Oh here we go…’

‘Men have it hard too you know!’

And my personal favourite: ‘get back in the kitchen’ha, what a classic.

Identifying as a feminist has –ironically- lead, on many occasions, to me being seen less of a woman. Not because of my views, but because feminists are thought of as being aggressive (a behaviour typically associated with men).

I realised if I ever started a conversation along the lines of:

‘I’m a feminist, my opinion is…’

the rest of my point seemed to be void of all potentially valuable meaning, because the word ‘feminist’ was enough to make most people huff, sigh, and determine they already knew what I was going to say before I said it:

‘I’m a feminist, I love my body hair, I hate men, I am a lesbian, and men are responsible for all women’s suffering…’ yada, yada, yada…

So, after a while, I stopped calling myself a feminist. I was so fed up with my actual thoughts and opinions being ignored or written off just because of that one word! Now I say: ‘I believe in gender equality’, ‘I stand up for equal rights etc. etc. but make an effort to avoid ‘feminist’ when I want to have a mature conversation with someone.

The thing is… whatever I call myself- the point remains the same… There is so much inequality in this world- not just between men and women, between ethnicities, between age groups, between able bodies and disabled bodies, it’s everywhere! And, it’s ugly.

There are too many people in this world that silence women (and men) who dare to point out that women have, and are, suffering at the hands of oppression.

‘Yes, but it’s equal now, and men suffer too!’

yes, men suffer too. And as a believer in gender equality, this makes me so angry. But that does not mean that it’s the same! Women have, for all history, been treated as the inferior sex, from being legally raped in their marriages, being sold like objects, being told to get back in the kitchen, being told to only speak when spoken to, etc. None of the suffering women have incurred belittles the sufferings of men, but it’s not right to pretend that women have not gone through an awful lot of shit. Silencing people who talk about the history and future of women’s rights, just goes to prove the need for feminism.


So, here are 25 reasons why I believe in gender equality:

  1. Because in over 150 countries around the world there are STILL laws that are actively discriminate against women
  2. Because 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives, mostly between the ages of 15-44. In fact- women in this age bracket are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than they are at risk of cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria!
  3. Because there is a taboo about periods being dirty and unsanitary, a natural bodily function of women that makes men cringe and look at us like we’re gross
  4. Because I’m sick of women instantly being looked upon as the more appropriate parent in custody battles- I’m sick of men having to fight to the death to be able to look after their own child, just because women are thought of as ‘naturally’ maternal, and men as ‘naturally’ aggressive
  5. Because there are over 15 million people in the UK with eating disorders, 90% of those are women and girls- tell me that’s not to do with an impossible fight for an impossible body that the media says we as females should have!
  6. Because the Bank of England ran a seminar for its female employees on: ‘how to dress for success’, where it highlighted the importance of wearing make-up everyday
  7. Because 95% of ‘Rape Crisis’ service users are women and girls
  8. Because around 85,000 women are raped in a year, and around 12,000 men. That’s 11 rapes every hour.
  9. Because women are told to expect sexual attention if they dress a certain way
  10. Because when women are raped or assaulted, it’s deemed acceptable to ask what they were wearing, as a means to justify the motive for an attack
  11. Because women saying ‘no’ is flirting, or playing hard to get
  12. Because women saying ‘no’ is open to interpretation of men
  13. Because 98% of sexual trafficking victims are women and girls
  14. Because many of my relationships with men have been strained and broken by their engrained defiance to show vulnerability and emotion- because they are raised to see that as a sign of weakness
  15. Because I hate how expressive men are instantly labelled as ‘gay’ or ‘girly’
  16. Because there are more men committing suicide than women- men are discouraged to talk about their emotions… bottle it up, don’t cry, don’t talk about it, man up, grow some balls, stop being such a girl…
  17. Because suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among males
  18. Because the majority of world leaders are middle-class men, who get to make decisions about women’s bodies
  19. Because our differences have to be seen as inferior or superior– it can’t be accepted that there are differences between men and women that should be celebrated and shared. Differences don’t have to mean one gender is better than the other
  20. Because for the majority of life, my self-worth has been dependent on whether I fit the ideal woman- the woman that is attractive to, and wanted by, men. I have cared more about my looks than my personality- how ridiculous
  21. Because when my niece was 7 years old she came home telling me she felt sad because her legs were ‘too’ fat
  22. Because I want my nephew whose favourite colour was once pink, to not cringe and tell me it’s a girl colour now he’s been exposed to the different expectations of boys and girls
  23. Because I couldn’t live in a world without the diversity of men and women- but I don’t want to live in a world where my gender is doomed to be oppressed
  24. Because I love my boyfriend with all my heart and never want our relationship to be burdened by gender barriers, that effect our full potential to love and communicate
  25. Because I want my future children to grow up respecting others, caring for others, understanding the importance of what is beyond skin deep, and loving unconditionally– for men, for women, and for everyone in between

I believe in gender equality, and all equality, because I am proud to not place a physical condition on who I love, respect, and care for.

It’s important to talk about the oppression humans have inflicted on other humans in the past, because until we learn from our mistakes we are bound to keep making them. We’ve come so far, and done so much in the way of justice and equality, but there is still so much left to change.

We’re all wired differently, not one person is the same as another, and I absolutely love that about us.

So, to end, I’ll leave you with the wise words of Pocahontas: ‘if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew…’


Bye xo

New Beginnings for an Untidy Mind

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Oh, hello!

How to start?

I’ve been tempted to join the blogging community since I was about 15 years old, and always get to this point- this writing awkwardly about nothing in particular because you don’t know how to introduce yourself or if anyone really even cares- point.

So here I am, trying to fight the initial writers block and get past the introductions, so I can go on to more (hopefully) interesting things.

Shall we make this brief, then?

An Introduction:

I’m Sophie. I’m 23, and a classic Gen Y Millennial, constantly torn between old-school values, and liberation for all. I’m an Aunt, a dog-owner, and a wannabe badass. My favourite food is chicken nuggets, and I have a webbed finger, I can do funky stuff with my tongue, I have a teddy bear called Beaver…ok, now I’m just rambling…

To be honest- I don’t know what I am, or who I am, because that is constantly changing- so having to actually introduce myself in a way where I sound like I’ve got my shit together, is hard, because actually, my shit is totally not together.

What I am is: a complete living, breathing, contradiction. I’m fiercely independent, with big old brick walls that can rocket up in a matter of seconds when I feel threatened- I don’t need anyone or anything, and love isn’t real at all, everyone is out for themselves. The next second, I’m a hopeless romantic, who falls madly in love with everyone I meet, from the elderly lady in the Co-op who smiled at me nicely, to the dog walking down the opposite side of the street; I would carry the weight of the world on my shoulders for almost anyone, and it usually hits me like a wet fish round the face just how much I need the people who support me day in and day out.

I love to be alone, but I am needy.

I want to be skinny, but I want a big fat Five Guys.

I believe in fairness, and justice, and equality, but I want EDL members to suffer painful mishaps…

Basically, I’m flawed! My thoughts contradict themselves constantly, and it frustrates me to no end. But I like to think I rest on good morals, I put others first, and I don’t shy away from giving my opinion and taking other peoples into account.

So, that longwinded ramble has led me onto what I suppose you would call the ‘theme’ of my blogs. I want to write about things I care about- from my dog, to feminism/equality, to politics, to crime, to my boyfriend, to my best friend, to climate change, to body image, to anything and everything really!

Hopefully some of you out there may find my views interesting, and will want to hear more, but if not, that’s ok too 🙂

Anyway- see you again soon maybe, with a bit more of an exciting topic than myself.


P.s. sorry, that definitiley wasn’t ‘brief’

P.p.s isn’t it funny how when introducing yourself, you instantly go to say what you do for work?! I managed to avoid it in the end!

Bye! xo