This Little Piggy Went and Made Herself a Website!

Welcome to my brand spanking new website!

Here you will find a collection of thoughts, self-discovery and nonsense written by yours truly.

About me
I’m Amy – an Edinburgh-based Linguistics graduate with a penchant for good grammar, better brownies and the best mojitos (which can be found in El Barrio).

By day I work in marketing – specifically creating social media and blog content – and by night I cross stitch, binge-watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and rapidly grow my addiction to Castle Crushers thanks to my wonderful boyfriend. (I always play the cute pink one whose magic is literally rainbows and penguins.)

A huge fan of feminism, body positivity, sex education and open discussions about mental health, there will undoubtedly be posts about these topics popping up around the blog. I thrive on sarcasm, sugar and cute animal GIFs so there will be plenty of that sparkly stuff featured here too.

Blogging, and writing more generally, is a therapeutic avenue for soul searching. It also provides me a space to talk about things I’m interested in, share some sweet pig GIFs and generally just have a one-sided chat with anyone listening.

About the name
When I was born, I was small. I also snuffled in my sleep. I was as small as some of my teddies, including Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. You can guess the rest.

More recently, my unique laugh has been compared to a little piggy’s squeals and I’m none too ashamed to admit that I’m okay with this comparison.

It’s also true that I’ve often likened myself to a pig because *surprise reveal* I sometimes have a wonky body image. This is something I occasionally find tricky to pinpoint, so to get a better idea of how my own brain works and to boost the old self-confidence, I’ve been making more of a conscious effort to turn negatives into positives. It was during this endeavour and the encouragement from some dear friends that The Squealing Piglet was born.

Fun fact: I was originally going to name this blog The Fat Unicorn, but I’m saving that for my autobiography when I’m 90 and wrinkly and fabulous like Baddiewinkle. I just drew a Copyright sign in the air to make that idea officially mine. Y’all better not steal it.

About the blog
The views I post about are my own, unless otherwise stated. The Linguistics student in me will ensure references are cited because that’s a hard habit to break.

This Little Piggy will host all the random things like entertaining face mask reviews, feminist musings, baking fails, crafty projects and piglet GIFs because they make me happy and it would be criminal to not share the cuteness around.

Grad life is new and exciting and scary. It’s also an inevitable eventuality for students. I’ll be dropping anecdotes, adulting updates and my hints and tips for preparing to join the working world.

I am a massive word nerd, which is lucky or my degree could have been painful, so there is a section dedicated to language facts, thoughts and epiphanies – largely thanks to my Ling Ladies from uni and Susie Dent who is my idol.

I’ll also be chatting about mental health because I’m not afraid of it. Most of the time. There are some really powerful campaigns running just now to improve understanding and conversation around mental health and I’m excited to get more involved with that – discussing my own and others’ experiences.

Piggy Pics is exactly what it says – I’ll be sharing my favourite pig-related GIFs and memes here because who doesn’t love watching a piglet twerk or a good pig pun?

Lastly, I should say that this blog is a constant work in progress. It’s my first website, so curation could get a little hairy. I’m learning on the job which is the best way to go but with no guidance except some tutorials online (which can be super dodgy or have really annoying background music like the track that played during art creation segments of Art Attack), you’ll have to be patient.

I also love feedback (another Linguistics student thing) so if you have any, drop me a line! My contact details are on the homepage.

Much love
x

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I have cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far

Since accepting that I am less than happy with my body and general well being, it has been something of a conscious decision on my part to start exercising.

image

Healthy eating has gone right out the window since I found out I needed to start job hunting again. I’m a comfort eater, so sticking to vegetables and cutting back on carbs hasn’t quite gone to plan. All too often I’m binging on pasta and garlic bread and ice cream and chocolate and maybe a packet of crisps later on in the evening. It’s not healthy, it’s not helping and it’s got to stop.

In terms of exercise, then, yoga seemed like a good place to start. I’ve done it before and enjoyed the deep stretches. It is one of the few forms of exercise that doesn’t trigger my asthma. There’s a class round the road from work that’s 2 hours of Ashtanga practice which offers a good workout as well as meditation. The meditation seemed like a good thing to try and get into the habit of too, for maintaining good mental health.

image

But yoga isn’t helping. If anything, so far it has only succeeded in making me feel even more self-conscious and defeated by my body’s inabilities and limitations. Despite my teacher maintaining the mantra that “yoga is a practice that can always be improved upon”, I can’t get past the shame and the upset of the situation here and now.

Now I am overweight, I have a belly I can’t stand the sight of and thighs bursting out my jeans. My double chin is back and I don’t look or feel like me. What I see in the mirror isn’t what I see in my mind. I expect something different, something more.

Changing, becoming a better version of myself, is such a big aspiration for me. To see myself and think Yes, I am happy and comfortable in my own skin. Getting to that point seems to be impossible though.

image

It all feels so hopeless sometimes. I have no motivation to get myself to a place where I’m happy, but I’m desperate to already be there. I suppose it doesn’t help that my hormones are running haywire just now and I’m exhausted from a week of less than stellar sleep (read: next to none).

This leaves me in a place of real confusion. I am a firm believer in body positivity, but feel like a fraud because I struggle with my own body image. I champion people everywhere to love themselves the way they are and accept themselves, but am a hypocrite when I cannot do the same.

Yes, body positivity is a journey. It is a mindset that can only be achieved through hard work and tenacity and love. Keeping up with that can be exhausting and it can feel unattainable. For someone who can be a bit of a perfectionist and hates hypocracy, this can make my dealings with and understand of my own body image all the more difficult and confusing. But body positivity is an empowering force in my life and I do desperately want to arrive at a point where I can happily stand up and appreciate my body for all its flaws and deviations from societal perfection and constructed beauty ideals.

I suppose I felt the urge to share my experience because I know I’m not the only person in this position. I’m not alone in feeling unhappy with my body and frustrated with its limitations. Shameful of the lack of breath climbing stairs, embarrassed when I squat down to the bottom shelf in a shop and struggle to get back up. Mortified when a pair of jeans a size bigger than I’d normally buy won’t button over my belly.

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and the rest of them are filled with motivational messages, success stories and aspirational healthy lifestyles. Like what was highlighted with the See Me “My Unfiltered Life” campaign, what people rarely show is the true struggle it can be to get to that place and just how difficult it can be to maintain long-term.

image

Where are the selfies of red-faced, tear-stained men and women who have left a gym session early because their bodies couldn’t cope with the “beginner’s class”? Where are the Insta photos of the unhealthy meals – sans #cheatday – instead captioned with the truth, that sometimes you just can’t ignore the cravings or the need to hide behind junk food or not having the energy to prepare a healthy, filling meal after the day/week/month you’ve had.

Yes, these are all excuses for unhealthy behaviour. But we’re all human. Even the healthy stumble along the road. They just dress it up as a cheat day or a treat or over-emphasise the slip up to the point where it just feels fake.

image

Finding motivation doesn’t really seem to be enough. I’m not too sure yet what is enough, but when I find it I will be holding onto that thing for dear life because serious changes need to be made. I will, however, remain real about my situation and realistic about my expectations. No more searching how to lose 3 stone in as many weeks, no more lemon and salt water fads and definitely no more obsessing over social media accounts.

I’ve cried at every yoga class I’ve been to so far. If I cry at every yoga class I ever go to in the future I can at least be proud that I’m still going.

image

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Smells Like Teen Angst

Communicating my thoughts and feelings through writing has not always been my strongest skill, but it has been a cathartic release for me from a young age.

While packing up my bedroom at my parents’ house over the Christmas break, I came across an old notebook I’ve owned for years.

It’s a pretty little hand-stitched number from Paperchase that I bought many, many moons ago.

As teenagedom hit with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the emotions began running amock, I took solace in the pages of this notebook.

I always fancied myself as a poet or novelist, and unfortunately I was less than talented in the poetry department.

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d share some of the greater works (and by greater I mean those that induced the most stomach-churning cringe) of my adolescence.

Fact and Fiction

Sometime I feel like a character from a book
with no choice of path.

It seems to me that
we are all characters from God’s latest novel.

It seems to me
that we are all characters from God’s new best-seller

Apparently I was struggling with religion…

Act I Scene III

You’re the Lady Macbeth
of today.
Your tongue is your dagger
You seek revenge, need to
satiate your thirst.
Your anatomic sword pierces
hearts; spilling tears and
killing dreams.
Bloodlust courses through your veins
and yet you lie
ever silent, ever dreaming,
until the day the dagger
plunges.

It would also appear I was both ridiculously pissed off with someone and had a flare for (what I considered at the time to be) dramatic structure. Thank God there are no rhyming couplets or I’d be at this page with a rubber and a lot of elbow grease…

And, God Almighty, I seemed to think I could write humour into my ‘poetry’:

Optimism

My glass is half full
of an exciting new drink
that colours my day.

Optimism is
the new pessimism but
more optimistic

Give me strength.

One of the final entries in this notebook is also a short one, but it has a lot more meaning to me. And yes, this one rhymes:

Roses are red
violets are blue
I cannot fathom
this world without you.

Yellow’s for daisies
purple’s for heather
I’ll love you and miss you
forever and ever

I wrote that in 2012. It was the first Valentine’s Day after one of my dearest friends died in a car crash. It was such a devastating time for me. Probably fuelled a lot more angst, but fortunately I stopped writing so much poetry and focused my energy on journals and fiction. I can assure you they were better.

So, there you have it. I was an angsty wee thing, but God loves a trier.

There are still empty pages in this notebook, as time and other distractions left it sitting on the bookshelf for years. I am going to attempt to fill them all. No doubt there will be some angst still there – gotta get it out somehow – but I’m determined to finish this book on a happier note (and maybe without so much terrible, painful poetry).

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

New Year – New Approach

Happy 2017!

image

It’s been a bustling start to the year for me, work came round pretty quickly and there was no easing back into the routine. We hit the ground running with a live stream to prepare for and a huge research-and-write project to get stuck back into.

With life being pretty hectic, I hadn’t really had the chance to put much thought into my New Year’s Resolutions.

In the lead up to Hogmanay, I had thrown the usual remarks

“I’m going to get skinny”

“I’m going to stop eating so much”

“I’m going to exercise more”

But as expected, January 1st rolled round and I didn’t touch a single vegetable. Quelle surprise.

image

A few days later, I had a really interesting conversation with my flatmate. She told me she doesn’t believe in New Years Resolutions because they’re damaging. At first I didn’t understand, but for some people – myself included – it makes perfect sense.

New Year New Me is a slogan cashed in on by many a brand. It’s everywhere in the run up to Christmas. People lamenting how much food they ate on Christmas Day, but it’s okay because they’ll start being healthy again in the New Year.

This is a problem for 2 reasons.

Firstly, it can breed illness. This sounds a tad dramatic but for lots of people the build up and quasi-determination and nothing-but-lettuce diets and extreme exercise regimes are unsustainable. This is an exaggeration, for sure, but you get the idea. This punishing and super strict mindset ends in disappointment and – more often than not – a negative self-image. I know I’m guilty of it. For some, this will result in illness, poor mental health and often poor physical health too.

The second problem is the now societally-accepted ‘festive overindulgence’. There are articles all over the news just now about sugar being the most readily available drug on the market, but as we draw closer to December 25th, we throw all good intentions about healthy eating out the window in favour of Chocolate Oranges, Christmas cocktails and fancy nibbles.

image

This “I’ll be good in the New Year” mentality makes excessive overindulgence not only acceptable, but expected. This is almost worse than the gung-ho diet and exercise overhaul people put themselves through afterwards, because their minds and bodies have gotten used to the sugars, fats, alcohol and unnecessary treats they’ve allowed themselves. This makes falling off the bandwagon so much easier.

image

These are both things I have been guilty of in the past. The very recent past. But it gave me a lot to think about. I still wanted to be healthier, but maybe I didn’t have to buy into the whole overhaul-your-life philosophy? While it fits some people and they see real, sustainable results from their new resolution efforts, it obviously hadn’t been working for me, so why not take a new approach?

My flatmate gives herself goals without a specific deadline. They are achievable processes that won’t mean she goes into the following year having ‘failed’, because instead of completely changing something, she focusses on improving or learning more. So I decided to do the same.

I have decided to focus on kindness (thanks to a wonderful colleague for giving me the idea).

image

I want to be kinder to myself, especially with the nonsense my brain has been putting me through recently. I will actively give myself more time and patience to work through things, and focus on relieving stress in productive, fun ways.

To keep up the self-kindness, I’m going to carry on doing things that make me happy. One thing I am absolutely determined to do is to pour more attention and energy into my blog. I enjoy it, similar to journalling, and it’s a good way to force myself into new situations so I have things to write about. (As a side note, watch this space for some teenage-angst-born creative writing that I’ll be sharing with you next week. Trust me when I say they make me cringe.) I do struggle sometimes to think of things to write about, but I’ll be getting my planning cap on over the weekend to map out some potential convo topics. I say convo, but it’s really just a one-sided ramble…

image

Crafting is another thing I want to get better at. Hobbies are a soothing, productive passtime and provide the downtime I need to maintain a healthy work/play balance. The repetitive, but brain-engaging nature of my chosen activities will be kind to my mental wellbeing (although at times, perhaps not my sanity…). So far I have knitting, calligraphy and photography to be getting one with. There is definitely huge room for improvement on all creative fronts and I’m determined to take up my passions again and fill my evenings with little rays of sunshine in crafty forms.

image

Finally, I have a goal with a deadline. I want to, after 6 months, be able to say that I’ve sustained a manageable exercise routine. Kindness to my body is as important and works in tandem with my kindness to my mind. I sounded so sage and wise there…I think.

I have signed up for a 2-hour Tuesday yoga class and am hoping to drop into a dance class every Wednesday. For someone as unfit and asthmatic as me, that’s enough to get me started. Plenty of achievement and progression to be seen from those activities if all goes well, so sticking at them when the going gets tough is the first hurdle!

image

So, there you have it. My first post of 2017. Kindness through happy thoughts, crafting, exercise and a hell of a lot more writing appear to be on the horizon for me. I hope you have big dreams and high expectations for the year ahead – no matter what form of resolution, goal setting or planning you subscribe to!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Halloween Treats 🎃

Dressing up and themed sweet treats are my two biggest reasons for enjoying Halloween.

So what better way to spend my Halloween Eve than making sweet things for a Halloween Bake Sale at work raising money for a charity that benefits children orphaned by HIV and TB in South Africa?

Obviously I stuck to the autumnal Halloween theme. I popped my Pumpkin Pie cherry this weekend. Who knew you could buy tins of pumpkin puree online!? (Well, Tam did, because he bought 3.)

The pie went down a treat in the office, and looked so professional someone asked me which bakery I went to. Yes, I am gloating. But can you blame me?

image

Pumpkin Spice is now my absolute favourite thing. Ever. I may have gotten a bit heavy handed when I made my Pumpkin Spice Crispy Cakes, but good grief they taste good!

Melt 85 gram of butter and 2 bags of mini marshmallows until gooey and scrumptious – technical term.

Add a whole tube of orange food gel colouring and pray that it goes orange enough. The baking gods will provide and you will be rewarded with a gorgeous coral hue.

Throw in 5 cups of rice crispies and get mixing. Your mixing arm will get the best workout of its life, let me tell you.

Grab a handful of the mixture and roll into balls.

Break off an inch of of an orange flavoured Matchmaker and hope the marshmallow hasn’t cooled too much so you can give your pumpkins a suitable stalk.

Scrape the pot clean and soak in water for 2 days to remove all remnants of marshmallow.

Take a great Insta pic of your pumpkins to make everyone else jealous.

And you’re done!

image

The bake sale was fabulous and we’re still collecting money for the charity. It operates in Sweetwater and provides support for the grannies – or gogos, as they call them – who foster their grandchildren and sometimes great-grandchildren whose parents died of HIV or TB.

To continue my Halloween festivities, I spent Monday night Trick or Treating round the wards at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children with the Sick Kids Friends Foundation. A group of us handed out Halloween-themed crackers with gory present and terrible jokes, jigsaws, masks, charm bracelets and more.

It was an emotionally exhausting evening but it also filled me with so much joy being able to coax small smiles from the children.

image

All in all, it was a very busy and glitter-filled Halloween. I can’t wait for next year!

image

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Weight Off My Mind

I am 5’6". I have mid-length, dark brown hair. An average nose. Eyes that aren’t any one colour.

The dimples that grace my cheeks when I smile are so pronounced people can’t help but tell me I have them (which has never made much sense to me, but I’ve always enjoyed how much joy they give other people).

When I was a teenager, an elderly woman stopped me in the street to tell me I had lovely long legs I should be proud of (which also confused me because I didn’t plan for them to be that length, it just kind of happened.) Nevertheless it put a spring in my step and I thanked her for the compliment.

The day I realised I’d outgrown my B-cup bra was an exultant day, indeed.

My boyfriend is the first to tell me I have a great butt and he peppers conversations with compliments, truly boosting my ego massively.

Grandparents are also great at compliments: mine are no exception.

I adore the body positivity movement. The idea that society now praises lumps, bumps, size, shape and colour really fills my heart with pride. I get so much satisfaction seeing others happy in their own skin.

But I am currently not happy in mine.

I love my shape. It is soft and feminine and it silhouettes beautifully. But I, like so many others, have major hang ups.

My belly upsets me the most. It sets my shape off balance and makes dressing very difficult at times from the belly button down.

Food is not my friend in this instance. Partly because food is my best friend. I am a stress eater. A comfort eater. A binge eater. A “let’s celebrate with cake” eater. Food has always been there for me, whatever the occasion. This has, over time, and with little exercise to combat the intake, resulted in a part of me that causes many shed tears and the foulest moods.

I champion people all over the world who are embracing their bodies. I admire and envy those who can accept that their bodies are not perfect by society’s unattainable standards, but love theirs anyway. The people who work hard to get their bodies the way they want – they impress me greatly.

I just am not there yet.

I am not comfortable in my bodycon dresses now. I cry if my jeans are too tight. I feel gross when I sit on my bed and feel my stomach rolls. Shopping for trousers and skirts fills me with dread. When my stomach touches my thigh I immediately put clothes on to build a barrier.

The biggest problem, though, is my lack of urgency to change anything. Therein lies the ugliest, most frustrating contradiction of all. I am unhappy with how I look, but I am doing next to nothing to change it.

I dance once a week, practice yoga halfheartedly every so often and maybe walk for 2 hours a week if I’m lucky. I did cut back on unhealthy foods, only to binge and undo what little work I had managed.

It’s a constant tug-of-war between satisfying my perfectionist tendencies and fear of not achieving my potential in every aspect of the life (the struggle is real) and my apathy to my situation.

I am overweight. I am unhealthy. I am unhappy. Those things need to change.

Body positivity and self acceptance are hugely important. Self love and care create such a healthy mindset and breed positivity and happiness elsewhere. It makes sense.

I started writing this post having just stood on the scales and measuring at my heaviest weight yet. I initially was trying to find myself a path to follow that would lead to accepting myself, but I’m now realising that I won’t accept until I start committing to making a positive change.

While my weight is the issue, I know it’s my lifestyle that needs to change. It’s a hard change to make for someone who thrives on habitual living, but some habits really need breaking. I guess I’ll just have to ensure I make more of a conscious effort and watch this space for improvement.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin