I said I’d do it, so I did…my first (and last) tattoo

I like to think that I’m one of those types of people who aren’t that easily irked by things people say or do, I just tend to avoid the ones that make me slightly twingy. But one quality, if you can call it that, which I will say gets me a little oh, here we go again’, are people who say they’re going to do something and clearly have no intention of doing it, you know the type; always banging on about I’m going to get a dog, I really want a dog, I’ve found the perfect dog.

No dog.

Or that big one;  I’m going to travel, I’ll be off in a few months, by the end of the year, and 2 years later it’s still the same. I’m not talking about dreams or ambitions, they’re different, I’m talking about empty promises which you soon realise are never going to happen.

Well, I made one of those promises 6 months ago, I promised myself I’d get a tattoo. Since the age of 14 I’d fancied a small one on my wrist, and I very nearly came close to getting one. Not a wrist one though, a Celtic cross on the centre of my back. Man am I glad I bottled it though if there’s one thing I have repeatedly told my children –  never get a tattoo in your teens. That’s one decision I made as an 18 year old which I will never regret (very out of character for me at the time!)

In the years that followed the tattoo parlour bottling incident  I never really considered getting a tattoo again. I had my belly button pierced which hurt like hell, and childbirth was an absolute killer, so I saw no point in voluntarily putting myself through any sort of pain.

But that all changed 6 months ago, when I looked back at how much I’d changed since my husband and I had separated, how much stronger and independent I’d become and I wanted to mark the transformation. What better way to show it that getting a small symbolic tattoo to mark the new me?

getting my first tattoo to make my divorce

And I knew just what I would get to mark said occasion.

Every day, over the last 2 years or so, I’ve seen a white feather. Often in the most obscure places, sometimes even floating down in front of me while I was in the car or walking the dog. A subtle reminder that my guardian angel was watching over me and that everything was going to be ok.

I’m not a big believer in the messages from the other side, I’ve had my tarot cards read and that’s about as far as my beliefs wen. But these sweet sightings were the highlights of my day.

I like to think it’s my grandad sending me a sign, I’m not sure why it’s him. My Nanny was much more upfront, more likely to give me a nudge or a tap, Nanna was a gentle soul but distance meant I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I should have. I just have this feeling it’s my grandad.

A feather it was to be then.

Somewhere small, hidden but not in a place where age or weight gain would ravage it, the inside of my wrist seemed perfect and if I didn’t like it in years to come, I could cover it with a watch or bangle.

So off I trotted to the most modern, clean, friendly tattoo parlour I could find and less than an hour later I walked out with my new addition. It struck me on the way that I probably hadn’t given this enough though and it might hurt. I was once told I would never be able to endure the pain of a tattoo, my reply;

I’ve pushed 3 babies out my fanjo, I know I’m pretty sure I handle a small tattoo!

But I can honestly say it never hurt in the slightest, more a slight scratching sensation. The girl who inked me up was incredibly gentle so I guess I was just lucky?

So there, you go. That’s the time I said I’d do it, and I did. I got my first and last tattoo.

The perfect reminder I can handle more than people give me credit for!


It Ain’t that bad being a single mum, honestly.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the positives with being a single mum recently, mulling it over, chatting with my fellow single mum friends and slipping it, albeit probably randomly, in conversations with non-single / married friends. Because, excuse me while I step on my soapbox, it ain’t actually THAT bad.

Honestly, if you’d asked me years ago what I thought being a single mum would be like, I’d have painted a picture of poverty, loneliness, your kids being labelled, me being at my witts end as I juggle the work/life balance, I’d probably have to give up all hope of a career. You get the picture.

But here’s the thing, it’s far from it.

I stayed in an unhappy marriage for years, believing that it would be better for our children to grow up in a home with both parents. I thought I’d never cope on my own, anxious that I wouldn’t continue to be the best mum I was striving for and I’d let my kids down, screw them up for life.

Don’t get me wrong, there were good times but you know when that time comes to admit that life would probably be a hell of a lot better for all of us if we called it a day. You assure yourself that, as scary as those first few months will be, you’ve just got to do it, ride out the storm and that pretty soon you’ll adjust.

I’m nearly 18 months in now and it just feels normal. I’ve got used to my child-free weekends, I hated them at first, the silence and having a clean tidy house was horrible, it took every ounce of PMA to wave them off without crying, knowing the boys wouldn’t miss me, they’d be absolutely fine and that they wanted so desperately to spend time with their dad. They still bounce out the door like its the most natural thing in the world to go off to Dads every other weekend, the 3-year-old squeals with excitement  “yay, it’s a Daddy day!”

So there you go, positive single parent thing number one; your kids can have a close relationship with both parents. A dad who makes his time with his children special, without me interfering. I know that’s not always the case, I’m well aware of single dads who are absolute pants at making the most of their time with the kids, I know of some who just disappear and put their own needs above their children.

I know of single mums who have done that too.


You make your moments without your kids count

And those child-free weekends? They’re the times when I recharge, I catch up on housework, lock my self away and get on top of my work deadlines, I go to the gym or I meet friends for lunch or coffee. Some weekends I go out, stay out waaaay past my bed time, I slut drop across the nightclub floor fuelled on gin and girlie night giggles, making stories for Monday morning and wake up at lunchtime the next day.

Imagine that married friends with kids! Imagine having a hangover without the mum guilt of letting your child have 3 hours on the iPad while you pretend Mummy’s ill. I make no apologies for having fun, I’m not a party animal, I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not being irresponsible. Neither am I out on the man trap, I have fun and let my hair down for my friends, with my friends, it’s more about having a boogie and darn good lighthearted yarn.

By the time my boys come home I’m back in sensible mum mode.

I’m mum and dad 24/7 ((technicallyIt aint that bad being a single mum, here's my positives in flying solo 24/5 ish give or take a few numbers)  and those times when I let my hair down make way for doing a kick-ass job when the kids are home as I have absolutely NO resentment for being chief in charge the rest of the time. I earnt my breather, my kids were safe with their dad, having fun, making memories and knowing that actually, life’s much better now mum and dad are happy and we’re getting quality time with both.

Friends are EVERYTHING

There’s also the friendships which form when you’re single parenting. I may have lost a husband, but I gained an amazing best friend. I had friends when I was married, but when you’re single, you find yourself navigating to other single mums. We have a shared understanding of what it’s like and that common ground breeds a warm fuzzy sisterhood feeling. It’s ace, I’m ashamed to say married me would’ve probably raised my eyebrows at the group of singletons being loud, happy and nonchalant in the pub. Married me, wouldn’t have realised she was most probably jealous they looked like they were having more fun than me, and given the time machine option,  I’d like to go back and remind married me-

don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked in their shoes.

I have made a vow never to underestimate the value of friendships and be a slack mate ever again. It’s those very friends who have scraped me up and dusted me down, listened to my grumbles and made me laugh til I cry.


You get to reinvent yourself

I used my new single status to have an image overhaul. It’s not that I never made an effort before, but my free time gave me a chance to go to the hairdressers, the gym, start running, go clothes shopping and I’m not alone, I see no shame in making sure you look good.

I’ve had my teeth straightened, changed my hairstyle, change the way I wear makeup and revamped my whole wardrobe. My self-esteem was rock bottom in the first few months as a single mum, and making an effort was not some grand scheme to snare a new husband, it was about making myself feel better, I wanted to look in the mirror and know I wasn’t the horrible, ugly person which repelled my husband into the arms of another woman.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I turned a negative into a positive. Held my head up high and strutted out of my marriage looking forward with an air of ‘it’s your loss.’ I’ve seen my single mum friends do the same, some are barely recognisable and they look AMAZING. Don’t knock a single mum for making an extra effort, it’s probably more about feeling good about themselves than what other people think

So married mums and dads, please don’t feel sorry for us. Yes, it can be hard, tiring and lonely not having a wingman, but you learn to compromise.

Please don’t judge, avoid, treat differently. Invite us round to dinner parties, bbq’s and book playdates. We’re not out to steal your husbands or feel resentment for your coupleness. We’re just like you, honest!

And here’s the thing, the last passing thought which I’ve learnt as a single mum. Mentally and physically, I’ve never been stronger, so you can take that broken home tripe and stick it in room 101.

I patched up with super glue and you can’t even see the cracks.

It aint that bad being a single mum, here's my positives in flying solo


How Many Friends Does A Friend Need?

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships lately, not in a losing sleep, I need to find the answer sort of way. More of a ponder, I wonder, oh yeah sort of thing. With a few different friend hats on the go, I often wonder if it’s the same for everyone? I’ve always considered myself more of a floater, (not that sort of floater, potty brain) But I’ve also realised that it’s changed quite significantly over the years;

I breezed through secondary school and college with several bff’s, some I’ve never seen again and others sitting firmly in the Facebook, checking in now and then category. I’ve managed to on to one of my bestest to this very day.  We don’t see each other very often, I’m talking years without any face to face conversation, but we check in now and then and when we do meet up, we pick up from where we left off. I love that we have a shared past and experienced so many firsts, good and bad, together, she still never holds back from telling me when I’ve been a fool! And I take it, because I value her opinion, I guess you do when they’re your friend. Right?

When I separated from my husband, my friends really came good. But one really shone through, she called me daily, counselled me, arranged days out and put me firmly back on my feet with a smile on my face and my self-esteem and confidence firmly intact. I often tell her she’s my guardian angel, she signed sealed and delivered what true friendship means, now that’s what I call a friend.

what makes a friends? do you class family as friends?

Messages from old friends and new, once word got out, sending love (and not just wanting the gossip) saw me through those darkest days too. They’ll never know how much they helped.

I hope they do now.

And that floater thing, (I’m sure there’s a better term than that, answers on a postcard please.) Over the years, I’ve dipped in and out of friendship groups. But it’s the tough times which really cut the wheat from the chaff, these are the times when you find out who the real ones are and who to metaphorically swipe left on. I’ve sacked a few off for one reason or another, usually loyalty, can’t be doing with that two-faced nonsense. If you’re caught out, you’re out. Simples. My Scorpio sting takes no prisoners when I’ve been hurt, I can stone wall like a pro.

There’s also one more thing which puzzles me; Just because you’re related, does that stop them being a friend? Some of my other closest confidants are my parents, siblings, aunties, and cousins. I count them as my friends too, regardless of blood, we genuinely do like each other and above all, we ‘ave a laugh. That shared sense of humour must be in the blood.

what makes a friends? do you class family as friends?
And finally, there’s the ones I’ve gathered up over the years, the ones I put in the fun category. My wine buddies to go forth and get merry with, we keep it light, sometimes gin brings out the deep and meaningful moments. But generally, we gossip, laugh and go home. Perfect.

So a friend for all occasions, regardless of who, what and where horses for courses! It may not be your cup of tea. But it suits me! It’s not counted in how many you have, how close you are, everyone needs a different friend for different occasion, just as long as there’s trust, happy times and dependability,

That’s what I call a friend.

<insert smilie face, maybe a winking one even>



Is 40 the new 25? Why I’m refusing to grow old appropriately

If you’d have said that at 41 and a half I’d be fitter, healthier and slimmer than my 25-year-old self, I’d have laughed in your face. (Then secretly hoped you knew something about my destiny than I did.) Optimistic me likes to hang on to any glimmer of hope, while gullible me will believe anything that you tell me if it’s going to make me feel good. Yet the bizarre thing is, it’s true, along with many of my fellow forty somethings who are refusing to attach themselves to the notion of what 40 should look like.

Not one to pigeon-hole an age or say what’s right or wrong, but in my twenties I had already decided that once I hit 40 I would cut my long brown hair short and stop trying to keep up with fashion,  I’d dress sensibly, probably at Boden, and take up a craft like hobby. Weekends would consist of routine of ferrying kids around to sporting events and gardening. Or so I thought.

Why exactly I decided that would happen is a little bonkers given that my mum was doing things at 40 for the first time, and still very much the life and soul of the weekend party goer. The 2o years between us meant nothing when you were raising the roof and mock pole dancing at family functions with a who gives a fidget attitude. She taught me well!

I think back to how I was behaving at 25 and it’s possible I peaked too early, maybe that’s why I took a restock of my life? I’d done sensible and it was time to claw back those prime years while I still had time.

So after F-day had passed I gave up red meat, joined the gym, started teeth straightening treatment and bought a whole new wardrobe of ageless clothes and make up. I even tried eye liner flicks (and failed) considered facial fillers (not brave enough) and switched to listening to radio 1 (sorry Jeremy.)  There are some things which I won’t be doing, like joining Tinder (might be subject to change) and getting ‘down in da club’ all night, I need beauty sleep and my feet ache if I dance too long in heels. I’m not a complete lose cannon, plus the teenage sons who lurke in my house somewhere might abandon me totally.

There’s always a catalyst to a radical lifestyle change and I suspect that the end of my marriage was mine. Suddenly I had weekends to fill and time to focus on Ali the person and not just Ali the wife and mother. Didn’t see that one coming at 25!

And 41 I have no hesitation in admitting my age,  I’ll be keeping my long brown locks, touching up my roots every 6 weeks. I’ll keep trying out the latest fashion, cursing when appropriate and blasting out the latest chart hits in my sensible Mercedes A-class.

One thing I’ve learnt which comes with age, aside from a little wisdom and a chunk of hindsight, is the confidence to not give a toss what others think of you.

And I have a sneaky feeling that I’m not alone in the 40 somethings growing old in appropiately.

I'm joining the growing number of 40 somethings who are refusing to grow up and grow old gracefully in the most sensible manner possible.


So you’re wondering how I’m feeling about my divorce?

I’ve been over analysing life a lot lately, trying to evaluate and understand the whats and whys in an attempt to understand me and what I do next. I’m playing many new roles right now; The (single) mum, the daughter, the sister, the friend, the business woman and the soon to be ex-wife. These life changes haven’t just effected me and I’m very conscious that it’s not just me that’s analysing me too.

With so much change and so many new experiences I’m taking a baby steps approach to life. Never wanting to plan too far ahead as I float through each week in survival mode. It’s a strange and exciting feeling when your life plans take a sudden change, and that over analysing I’ve been doing is a product of the uncertainty of what I thought the future might be like. That old future is now a stranger to me now and I’m a little scared to dare dream of what the new one brings.

When people ask how I’m doing, I know what they’re really asking. But the truth is you could ask me that question every day and it will be different. Today I’m feeling good, I’m living for today. With a tired fuzzy head my focus is on what I’m doing today and how good my bed will feel when I crawl in at the end of the day,

Today I’m too tired for planning and over analysing.

Today I’m not thinking about the holiday we’re off on next month.

Today I’m not thinking about what to do on my childfree weekend and fretting about being away from my boys.

Today I’m not thinking about the things which are lacking in my life and how I can change that.

Today I’m not thinking about how I’m going to get my new business thriving and bringing in enough money so I don’t lie awake at night thinking about all the bills I need to pay.

Today I’m NOT over analysing.

Today I’m giving my thinking brain a break.

I spent too much time doing that last night and I’m tired.

've decided the best thing I can do is pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes me

Yesterday I spent the afternoon clearing out the messy junk room under the stairs in an attempt to clear my jumbled thoughts. Decluttering and housework seem to help, it’s like osmosis – decluttering my mind. I’m still the optimistic, easy going me, just  a little more distant at times as I fall down the rabbit hole of thinking.

I’m navigating unchartered waters right now so I’ve decided the best thing I can do is pull up the anchor and see where the wind takes me. I can’t plan a future right now, I can’t plan as I have no idea what it’ll look like.  The back pages of my story have been ripped out and replaced by blank ones, the words DIVORCE taking the title of the next chapter.

So excuse me if I’m a little vague in my answer about “How am I today?” or if  throw a question right back at you and change the subject. I don’t always know exactly how to answer and each day is different, and I apologise if I double book you or forget an arrangement, my fuzzy head can’t always see past the end of the day.

I’ve tried planning out my weeks and weekends and it unnerves me when those plans get changed. It sends me into a panic and reminds me that even tomorrow is still a little uncertain. So right now I don’t dare plan too much as recent events have taught me, even the best laid plans have a habit of going astray.

And that right now pulling up anchor and going with the flow is the only way to go.

Everyone tackles a divorce differently, you never really know how you'll be feeling until you're going through it