Archive for ‘home life’

23/06/2014

For me it was when I was 4…

…then again at 7, but first time first. We lived in a huge mobile home in a field owned by my grandparents in pretty much the most isolated part of mainland Ireland. It was…okay I guess. I don’t really remember much apart from the dogs. Everybody had a dog. My grandparents had a border collie named Candy, my grand-aunt a border collie named, I don’t remember that makes me sad, I loved that dog. Anyway I had a border collie mix named Charlie, who I found out this year was put down the day we left; he went mad when I went away, and after nearly killing my uncle as they drove home from the train station my uncle was forced to drown my lovely 2-year-old dog so he wouldn’t end up crashing the car. I get it, but I hate it. It says a lot that that dog is still my 2nd clearest memory of Mayo, and that I still miss him 30 years later.

I say second strongest memory because my strongest memory is the time I told my Mom that I was a girl. I can remember standing in the tiny kitchen with her, watching her make scones, and then blurting it out. I was 4, I was already trying to read, already had had so many nightmares that they’d stopped scaring me, and I already knew something had gone horribly wrong with me. My body felt like a loaner. It felt like a stop gap while my real body was being finished. It didn’t feel like it was mine. Oh and it was already becoming sick, I started to have the bowel problems that have plagued my entire life since in those 2 short years in Mayo. But, time to focus on what’s important here; the gender.

So I’d told my Mom I was a girl. You know who liked dogs, and calves, and guns, and building random things, and hid all the time (like a soldier) with my dog in the tall grass at the edges of the field, you know, a girl…with a penis. And her response was…

…nothing.

No response. None at all. Now the fact that my Mom has absolutely memory of this at all makes me think that she actually didn’t hear me. Mom is a very quiet woman, but she’s a noisy baker, so it’s likely that she didn’t. But tell that to a 4-year-old who’s just told her Mom that penis and boy-play-stuff aside, she’s a girl. Yeah it all got put in a small box, locked up tight, and fucked down the deepest darkest part of my psyche. And there it stayed ’til I was 7.

7 was a big year for me. I started Primary School, I had my First Communion…ugh, got my first watch, discovered Virginia Madsen, and got molested for the first time.

The last part would be the part that’s pertinent here. You see I hadn’t had any sexual awakening at that stage. None, at, all. I was a blank sexual state, on a blank gender slate, all balanced on an already geeky as hell slate. So it probably shouldn’t be surprising to me that having my sexual nature activated in just about the worst way possible, against my will, and far too early for me would have a secondary effect. Yup my boxed up gender hit a trampoline somewhere down that deep dark hole, and then it bounced back up into the light of day, walloping me in the teeth, and adding immeasurably to my misery.

I told my Mom again, and again she doesn’t remember this. I don’t remember her response, I don’t even remember if there was a response. But whatever happened when I told her it was almost 2 decades before I would tell her again, this time making sure it stuck. In the mean time I hid who I was. I hid what was being done to me all the time. Well really I hid everything that makes me me.

This is all by way of sharing my early experience of my own gender. Why?

Because the video below shows how to (mostly, and even where she got it wrong it’s totally understandable) get it right if your child ever comes to you with something similar. But how to get it right is summed up best in these words…

Pay attention to what they say, and don’t dismiss it. They know themselves in a way you never will.

http://vimeo.com/user27600859/howtobeagirl

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19/05/2014

A Crohns Girls Travel Kit.

One of my most difficult, and fraught undertakings is travelling anywhere more than five minutes from home. This is hardly surprising when your bowel control can at best be described as tentative. But there are ways to make travelling that little bit safer, the main one being a small travel kit.

What do I mean by a travel kit? Well that’s a little difficult to explain, as it will vary from person to person, so the best that I can do is give you my travel kit. You can then easily adjust it to fit your exact circumstances.

Spare undies 2 pairs pretty obvious really, but make sure it’s two pairs. If you lose it once there’s a good chance you will again.

Heavy flow sanitary pads – Even when I manage to keep things under control until I get to a toilet, I’ll often find myself passing lots of mucus for hours after. The sort of mucus that you don’t realise is there when you fart and….woops sticky mess. The pads will at the very least keep the mess in check ’til you make it back to the toilet. Also very useful if you have piles that tend to bleed.

Motilium, and Lomotil/Imodium – If your symptoms are anything like mine you’re probably going to feel nausea while you travel. So Motilium or a similar medication to control it is a good thing. Likewise an anti-diarrheal medication is a great idea to have with you.

Small hot-water bottle – Sit on it and you’ll have cramp relief, hold it to the back of your neck and you’ll have some relief from a dehydration headache (But remember to drink that sort of headache is not fun.), and if you, like me, find yourself shaking from cold after a bad attack it’ll help you to get warm again. Most places are very accommodating about filling a small half-litre water bottle if you ask politely.

Mints/chewing gum – To help cure the post vomit bad breathe. Alternatively carry a small fold-able travel toothbrush with a really small tube of toothpaste. If you vomit a lot this is really important to keep your teeth…no not clean, not sparkling, I literally mean to keep them; vomiting is basically enhanced tooth death.

Flushable wet wipes/baby wipes – Not only much gentler for wiping a tender backside, but will help to eliminate any lingering smell. But really do make sure that they’re flushable.

I can, with some creative packing, fit all of those in to a very small handbag, and they really can be a sanity saver for the travelling Crohns Girl.

Any suggestions for things I’m missing out on? Please comment below.

26/02/2014

New Webcomic Pages. (Oh and I’ll be blogging once a week again pretty soon.)

Well the good news is that after a week of being too sick to sit and draw Acidgirl is back with a double day.

http://acidgirl.thecomicseries.com/comics/15/

The better news is that I will be back to updating this blog regularly pretty soon after my birthday in the beginning of March. It’ll only be once a week, but I’ll be putting up one decent length article per week, and I guess that’s something.

20/08/2013

The very worst part of being chronically ill, is the guilt.

No really, I’m not kidding. Worse than; in no particular order,

the pain,

the tiredness,

the diarrhoea,

the bleeding,

the constant low-grade headache,

the skin lesions,

or even having to deal with tin-god junior doctors.

Seriously, worse than any of that is living with the guilt. But what do I mean by “the guilt”? Well that’s going to take a bit of explaining.

The average person can do pretty much what they want to do. Want to see a movie with a friend? No problem, “Which movie, and what time?”

Tell their partner not to worry about the housework, that it’ll all be done when they get home; yup, got that covered.

Or how about wanting to go to bed with a lover, going all out with the flirtation, the foreplay, the making them feel like they’re standing at the centre of a sexual whirlwind; then having to stop because you’ve run completely out of energy, or because your body has decided that this is exactly the right moment to need to throw up?

My own life is a huge list of cancelled plans, lost connections, and missed opportunities. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve gotten ready to go somewhere, only to have to cancel at literally the last-minute. Or how many times I’ve missed events that I was really excited about attending; many burlesque events, artistic events, movies. Hell not that long ago I had to miss one of my favourite singers, Voltaire, because my body decided that it really needed 4 straight days of bleeding from my bowel.

In essence, I am an involuntary flake. Totally unreliable where any social life outside of my own home is concerned. To be able to do something as minor as go do the weekly grocery shop I rely on medicating my body to a point where I will “probably” get a few hours of not needing to be within ten feet of a toilet. Note the “probably”, the quotation marks are there because about 1 time in 10 it doesn’t work, with sometimes rather cataclysmic results for my underwear.

Now, you’re probably thinking that this should all lead to my feeling sorry for myself. But it doesn’t, or at least it only does very rarely. I’m used to not being able to plan with any certainty. The best I can ever promise is “maybe”, or very occasionally, “probably”; I’m used to being like that. I’m used to never being able to even think “definitely”. Definitely simply doesn’t exist in my life, and I’m used to it, I’ve had to grow used to it.

But what I’ve never grown used to is the guilt that goes with constantly letting other people down. For example, I quite simply can not remember the last time I went out for a night with my Partner-in-Crime. No memory at all, it’s been that long. And I feel terrible about it. I know she loves a good night out. I know she would love to have one with me, but…

See, there’s always that but. Even if we manage to make it out the door, odds are I’ll need to come home very early when my bowel starts to voice its disinterest in staying away from its porcelain best friend.

The same goes with friends. Over and over I arrange things with friends, only to have to cancel at the 11th hour because I simply can’t leave the house any longer.

So, boom, guilt for letting them down. For cancelling plans and leaving them in the lurch.

Then of course there’s the other sides to the guilt. The the side triggered by the worry you cause people you love. Or the aspect of it caused by not being able to pull your own weight. Or the guilt that strikes when you realise that you’re just a bad girlfriend, a bad friend, a bad lover, daughter…the list goes on and on.

And all this means that you say “I’m sorry” waaaaaay too much. So you find yourself feeling guilty for being sorry.

Yeah, being ill is rotten, but feeling unending waves of guilt is worse. Now if you’ll excuse me, the toilet is calling my haemorrhoids, by name.

13/08/2013

A Poor Girls Guide to buying Electronics.

Everyone loves shiny new electronics. Opening the packaging on a brand new laptop, peeling off the screen protector on a new phone, that first booting up moment when you just want to jump around from joy. The problem is that electronics are expensive. Terrifyingly so sometimes, so for the girl on a budget new electronics, even if they’re desperately needed, are often nothing more than a pipe-dream. (I was lucky enough to receive a loan of enough money to cover the cost of a brand new laptop last January; if that hadn’t happened I’d probably still be struggling along with a half-knackered netbook, which could barely boot-up, much less run any of my graphics programs. As of last month I have half of that money paid back.)

So for the girl on a budget, how can you replace that netbook that smells distressingly of ozone? Or that cellphone with the cracked screen?

1: Save.

Saving is not always easy, but sometimes it’s a necessity. When I bought my current laptop, the one I’m typing this on in-fact, I had saved up a little over 1/3rd of the cost myself. It had taken me over 6 months to do so. Okay, I still had to accept a loan from my Partner in Crime to cover the last 2/3rds; but thanks to that period of saving I’d already gotten used to giving up the money needed to repay her each month. That’s the key, making saving a habit. Once it’s a habit, it becomes easier to maintain, even if it does mean less in the way of day-to-day fun-stuff.

2: Sales.

Watch the websites of your preferred electronics stores like a hawk. Most of those stores will have something on special each week, or month. So with patience you can pick up what you want at a hefty price reduction. I once picked up a netbook which had been almost 400 Euro the week before, for just over 210 Euro. It wasn’t an end of line, or any other special type of sale. It just happened to be on special that week, and had been massively reduced. Of course I’d been sitting on that money for a few months at that stage, so patience and self-control are key to this working.

3: End of Line.

Almost every year, or at most every second year, most electronics companies will release a new version of each of their various lines. This is great even if you can’t afford those prices, because the stores have to get rid of last years line, fast, if they’re to have any hope of shifting those newer up-to-date models. (Never mind that sometimes the only difference is a slightly different casing.) Often this means that to get shot of those last few examples of last years model the stores will have end of line sales where the sales price is often just barely over cost-price. Meaning huge savings can be made if, as usual, you can be patient enough to wait, and quick enough to get in there first.

4: Display Models.

I love Hewlett Packard’s Ipaq line. I’ve owned two of them, and I quite simply think that they’re the bees knees, the rats arse, the…they’re really great. My last one gave me four years of sterling work, being carried from one end of Ireland to the other as an aid to my writing, an ebook reader, and even an emergency MP3 player on more than one occasion. It was also bought as an ex-display model. Bought in the box off a shelf it would have set me back 300 Euro, but as an ex-display model I got it for just over 100. It was undamaged, unmarked, and needed only a replacement battery (8 Euro plus 3 postage and packaging at the time) to make it absolutely perfect. This sort of find needs a lot of luck, as well as patience. But are well worth looking out for.

5: Accept Charity/gifts.

I have a house rule, “No unwanted computer goes without a home.” Simply this means that if someone offers me an old PC, tablet, laptop, or mobile phone I will always accept.

Why?

Because until my current laptop, all of my performance computers had been built from the best parts of older machines. My current ebook reader, is a gratefully accepted donation of an old Pandigital 7″ tablet which had been rooted; which may be reaching the end of it’s serviceable lifespan, but still gives me hours of joy every single week. I haven’t had a “new” cellphone in almost a decade. My friends know that if there’s an old mobile that they’re replacing, well Amanda will find it a loving home.

Charity is not a bad thing. Especially if it means that an old machine doesn’t wind up rotting in a landfill, or lying gathering dust in some forgotten corner of a home. And really especially, (I know, bad grammar.) If someone, if you, might find great use, and greater joy in using it until it finally just has to be taken behind the woodshed for a close encounter with a deer-slug to the processor. Of course you should do the same to with anything that may be useful to someone else, sharing is caring.

30/07/2013

Am I old now?

This morning while listening to the 80’s radio station on Spotify I actually came out and said the following to my Partner in Crime.

“80’s music was just better.”

Then I was called old.

I’m 35 years old.

Strictly speaking Amanda, is still less than a decade old.

But if I am totally honest I do feel old. Some days very, very old.

As any of my readers by now knows, I have a lot of physical problems. And one of the more troublesome aspects of those problems is that most mornings I wake up feeling as though I’d been beaten in my sleep. Hard. With a cricket bat. This manifests in my barely being able to walk the 15 feet to the toilet, and usually having to collapse back on to my bed for a little while afterwards.

Even 5 years ago I used to jump out of bed, and immediately be able to move gracefully. Now, I sort of half stumble everywhere for the first ten minutes out of bed.

Emotionally, I don’t fall for people like I used to. In fact in the past 12 months I’ve only had one crush. And even there I find myself not having any hope in my heart at all. It kind of feels like I found wisdom in loving, and that wisdom sucked the joy of adventure from my heart.

I can’t stay up late anymore. I want to be in bed with a mug of hot milk by 10pm every, single, night. And if I do stay up late it takes me days to stop feeling tired.

I can’t drink anymore. It just makes me feel, yuck.

I find myself watching old movies, and preferring them to modern remakes. I actually realized last week that I prefer The Thing From Another World (1951) to The Thing (1982).

I find myself wishing that gaming companies would stop making new games, and start updating the graphics on old games. I’d love to play a version of the Breath Of Fire series, where nothing has been changed aside from the music and graphics.

Do all of these mean that I am now old?

I’d rather sit in with a DVD than go out to a bar.

Actually I’d rather sit in with a parasitic worm infection than go out to a bar.

Am I setting in my ways.

Are carpet slippers, and 30 cats my next port of call?

04/05/2013

This week I’m off to sunny…Cork?

Yup Amanda Harper is on the move. It’s time to visit my mom, meet up with a little sister or two, and then come back home relieved to be with my puppies, and my XBox. But packing this morning (Thursday) got me thinking about travel-kits for people who are chronically unwell.

As any regular reader knows by now that in addition to a rather convoluted mess of emotional problems I also have fought with increasingly bad bowel problems for many years. To put it plainly even my diarrhea has diarrhea, and my stomach pains write long eloquent tragic epic poems about the cramps they themselves suffer from. Yes, I spend a lot of time on the toilet, clutching a hot water bottle, with YouTube running on my mobile phone.

But when I want to travel alone for much of any distance I have to assemble a kit. And for the most part its contents are pretty much common sense.

Amanda Harpers travel kit.

Two pairs of spare panties.Two heavy flow sanitary pads. (In case of accidents, they won’t stop a flood, but might just save you from a little squirt.)
Antiseptic wipes.
Antispasmodic medication.
Imodium/Lomotil.
Codeine based painkiller.
Doggy poop bags. (It’s better than nothing to go in, believe me.)
Deodorant.
Mouthwash. (To cool the burn.)
Spare cash. (To get my burning ass home.)

Pretty much common sense, right?

Now admittedly I’ve been rather bold lately and haven’t had much of this kit with me when I go out. I should. I know I should. But it kind of started to feel like a ball and chain that I dragged around the place with me. However after the past three days I will be reassembling it in the next week or so, and it will be coming everywhere with me.

Anyway, packing got me thinking about my kit, and wondering if other people with different problems have their own kits. Do for example diabetics have a kit they travel with? Coeliacs? Migraine sufferers? People with mobility problems, or emotional problems? So, I’m asking those of you who have such problems to reply here, and if you use such a kit tell my readers and myself about it. Because when you have bad health even the smallest of things can make a big difference, and information is most definitely one of the not so small things.

And with that I’m off to Cork. Huzzah!

23/04/2013

So who exactly am I?

Lately this is a question that’s been on my mind, and for once thankfully it’s not a question which is related to my gender, after all I’ve already mostly answered “What am I?” pretty well. It’s a question that’s cropped up now, because I find myself going through a period of very intense emotional upheaval. I’ve spoken before of my history of childhood sexual abuse, well no matter how well you’ve dealt with it in the past, that sort of history is always waiting in the long grass for a chance to pop up, and at the very least make your life extraordinarily difficult. And that’s pretty much what it’s doing to me these days, it’s kind of hard to walk the dog for instance when you’re sitting with your head in your hands, sobbing through a truly enormous snot-bubble.

But it did lead me to wonder if we ever really know who we are.

I can give examples of who I am. Sort of personalised stereotypes to show who I am as a sort of “what I am”. But that just leaves me wondering which of them is the real me.

Some of your reading this know me by my real name. I write with a pen-name, though not to protect my secret identity from my evil arch-nemesis. You see the real me likes being a writer, likes the feeling of accomplishment when a piece is finished, loves dreaming up the stories and articles. But she doesn’t particularly like the process of writing. It involves far too much of things like punctuation, grammar, and hard work. No she would much rather do the daydreaming part, while she plays with her dogs, makes love to her partner, and plays Borderlands on her Xbox. To her writing or drawing are simply a way to be what she really likes being, a storyteller. So Amanda Harper was born, or created, or always existed but needed a chance to come forth…uh yeah, it all gets sort of meta here.

Basically Amanda Harper is a part of me, in the same way that I’m sure deep down Indiana Jones is an unexpressed part of Harrison Ford. She’s me but a different expression of me. If that makes sense.

And she’s not the only one.

There’s the me who was a Scout, who’s really good at map and compass navigation, and the sort of stuff that Bear Grylls would find fun. She took it all frightfully seriously, and did all sorts of advanced courses in everything.

Then there’s the me who was a moderately successful rock-climber for much of her teens and early twenties. Rock-climbing is, (like many sports) a manifestly silly pass time, (golf anyone?) and the me now sometimes finds herself a gibbering wreck at some of the risks I took. I wasn’t a stupid risk taker. I almost never climbed without proper safety equipment. I was careful to only stretch my skills to their limits, not for me the climbing 3 grades above my skill level and finding myself falling head first for a mouthful of gravel, or stones, or stunned climbing partner. No instead I usually put my safety line in the hands of the least reliable creature known to humanity, the teenage boy. You know the ones who can look at a blank wall and still find on it a reason to be distracted by an erection. Man, I should be dead.

And they’re far from alone.

Probably the most important one is the shield-bearer. The shield-bearer is the one who appeared when I was being raped. She was strong enough to fight, strong enough to not have her mind shredded, strong enough not to show weakness, while the rest of me huddled in a quiet corner of my mind, and did its best impression of a gibbering wreck.

The thing is that they’re not separate, or split personalities. They’re more like masks, pulled on when needed, so I can do what I needed to do.

Need to be fearless, the climber.

Need to be reliable, the scout.

Need to be badass, the shield-bearer.

Need to write a book, Amanda.

Need to beat Halo (again), geeky me.

But these days I find myself wondering sometimes which of them, if any, is the realest version me. They’re all real, they’re all me, but one of them must be more…me…I think that makes sense. And lately I’m starting to think that the hurt, frightened, crying 8 year-old girl in the wrong body. The one who was betrayed again and again, who was abuse body and mind. The one who still sits inside of me crying her heart out for herself, when she isn’t shaking in fear of the people she loves being hurt the same way she was. That one. I wonder if really she’s the realest me of all.

So who exactly am I?

I don’t know if I can answer that question. I don’t know if there is a singular answer. I guess there’s probably lots of versions of me, all facets of a hidden core personality. But I suppose I shouldn’t worry about it, maybe if I could answer it life wouldn’t be so much fun. I should probably just enjoy wearing all the masks that are all different and yet still all true to me.

Hmm, not a lot of sense in this article. Maybe I should try this again after I’ve healed.

09/03/2013

The thing I hate most about my life.

Is not that I’m transgendered. I’m cool with that. No, actually I’m very, very happy with that. It’s a big part of not just what, but who I am.

It’s not that my sexuality seems to have shifted a little. I may not be overly fond of the fact that I’m what I think of as a 5% bisexual. But I don’t hate it, I just don’t hugely like it either. After all your sexuality isn’t something to love or hate, it just is.

It’s not even the way that I am always sick, hard as that may be to believe. And believe me when I say that always being sick is a very hard road to travel. Never being able to plan more than a couple of days ahead, simply because it’s impossible to predict what your body will be capable of in a few days time. Not being able to do the things you love, because they hurt too much. It does suck. But after so many years like this being ill has become rather like my sexuality. Just something that is.

I don’t hate that I’m kinky, or poly. More love is usually better (barring the occasional psycho second partner, or that rare person who simply is incompatible with your other partner), and how can finding ever more interesting ways of expressing that love be a bad thing?

Nope, the thing I hate most about my life is the, for me, immeasurable hurt that my existence in her life has caused my partner. Well more precisely the hurt my existence has allowed other people to cause her.

I adore my Partner in Crime. I simply could not wish for a better partner. She’s loving, caring, intelligent, sexy, beautiful, and unlike me can actually cook. And after almost 9 years in each others lives I would be hard-pressed to come up with much of anything about her that I don’t love. She’s given me 9 years of mostly happiness. And I like to think that mostly that’s what I’ve brought her also. But my nature, which is so often an issue for people on the street, has also from time to time proven to be an insurmountable issue for members of her family, and I suspect for people who are now former friends.

So I hate that my existence means that she has lost inclusion by parts of her family. I hate that I’m the reason for her losing out on those relationships. I hate that my loving her has led to her missing important family events.

I come from a rather small family myself (excluding various adopted family members who rather dramatically increase the numbers). Just myself, my mom, and my brother. But I know how much it would hurt me to be excluded from anything that might happen in the years to come. So I can at least begin to imagine how this has hurt my Partner. And all I can do to make up for that hurt is to love her as much as I possibly can, while I try my hardest to deserve being in her life.

Anyway this post is really just about me getting this off of my chest. Its been bothering me a lot lately, and better to vent than to let it build up until I finally explode leveling a large part of Dublin County.

05/03/2013

A Poor Girls Guide to keeping warm, when it’s frikkin’ cold outside (and maybe inside too). Part 2.

Last week I covered some of the things I’ve learned over the past decade, and a bit, of frugal living where it comes to staying warm. Staying warm when you’re on a tight budget is tough, sometimes almost impossible, but where there’s a will, and some prior planning, there is a way.

We left out topic last time with the importance of warm feet. But what else is there to cover? Well last week was all about keeping warm, and some of this week will be too. But all too often I found myself just having to cope with being cold, and that’s a totally different kettle of fish, so…

1. Get enough sleep.

When I was always cold, I was always tempted to climb into bed in the afternoon to hide from everything. The problem with this was that I then slept very badly at night, and felt constantly tired. This then had a knock on effect on my sense of well-being (such as I ever experience). If you feel tired/generally crap you will almost certainly feel even colder, which may make you want to hide under a duvet even more during the day, and thus a vicious circle is born. I can not put this strongly enough, don’t let this happen. The difference a solid nights sleep can make to your sense of well-being even when your cold is difficult to overstate. Of course this does mean you need to sleep well at night.

2. Love your electric blanket.

Nothing is worse than lying in your bed, buried under a duvet, and shivering. No, actually one thing is worse, having feet so cold that they hurt while your shiver in bed. For around five years of my twenties that was my Winter night-time experience. I would go to bed hot water bottle in hand, so tired my eyes just would not stay open. Get into my comfy, snuggley bed, and spend hours almost in tears from the pain in my feet. Move the hot water bottle to my feet and the rest of my body would get cold, and I’d start to shake.

I wish I’d known then just how big a difference an electric blanket would have made to my life. They can be expensive to buy, 100 euro’sish for a good double one, but they’re cheap as chips to run, and the difference getting into a piping hot bed will make to your nights sleep is simply impossible to state. And a rested body, is much better able to cope with the cold.

3. Never waste heat.

By this I mean, if you just cooked dinner in the oven, leave the oven door open as it cools so that heat gets a chance to warm you. Tumble drier just stopped? Leave it open so the extra heat can warm that room even a tiny fraction. Simples.

4. If you’re cold, wear a hat.

Back when I was a lot younger I was a hillwalker, and one of the many things I learned during that time was that if I was cold, wear a hat. The idea that you lose 20% of your heat through your head is a myth which came about because of a badly worded statement, but that said you will benefit hugely from insulating your head. Hats can be bought very cheaply, and on even the coldest day if you can make your head warm, you’re going to feel pretty much immediately better about everything. which leads me to…

5. Being cold makes you angry.

It really does. It’s makes you pissed as all Hell. You will be snappy, crabby, grouchy, and you will take it out on whoever is near you. And never forget that while the emotions are being caused by your bodies reaction to the cold, those emotions are still very real, and so are the repercussions. I strongly suggest having a small stash of chocolate, red wine, basically whatever your nearest and dearest likes the most to use as a peace offering if you blow up for no reason.

How does that fit into the thrifty lifestyle?

It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a divorce.

6. Buy fuel over the Summer.

A lot of what I’ve written so far works on the assumption that you have no workable heating source. But many people have just one room they can keep warm, often, in Ireland at least, the living room and with an open fire. This is perfectly viable, and can be run if not cheaply, at least economically. I speak as someone in this precise situation, and as such I have to admit that I am guilty of a cardinal sin here. I tend to stop buying fuel for the fire over the Summer, and this is a big mistake. Buy less fuel, yes. But do keep buying a little each week, build up a stockpile of logs, briquettes, and coal for the Winter. Have a backlog that means if we’re unlucky enough to have a snowy Winter again, you can afford to keep the one room toasty. A little expense spread over a lot of time, is much more affordable than a lot of expense that hits you from nowhere.

7. Have a coping mechanism in place for when you get down.

Being cold is depressing, monumentally so in fact. Very little can bring you crashing down in the same way. I couldn’t begin to tell you haw many days I spent in floods of tears, so depressed I couldn’t even get out of bed. All caused by living with cold. And I LIKE the cold! For someone who doesn’t it’s nothing short of torture. So it’s essential to have someway of bringing your mood back up when it crashes in that way. My own at the time was an old Playstation 1 and SoulBlade. A game that would always bring me back up no matter how bad I felt. For other people it might be music, a book, a movie. But whatever it is to cope with being cold find it, and use it.

8. Exercise.

This should be a no-brainer, but anyway. When you live somewhere cold exercise is even more important. It will make you feel warm, it will help your body to set itself up to cope with the cold better. You will make your body more efficient, you’ll use your food better. You’ll sleep better, and the endorphin rush from exercising will all help you to cope better.

Oh, and you’ll live longer.

9. Finally. If you can, move.

Unfortunately there’s not really much you can do to lessen the financial hit of moving home. But if you’re that cold. If your life is a story of moving from warm spot to warm spot, through a freezing apartment/house, and if you can. Then get out of there. Leave. Being that cold for that long will cause long term problems, and most of them will be psychological. I, for example, start to get panicky when the fire starts to burn low. I used to be friends with someone who having lived in a similar situation was unable to sleep without two duvets (spelling?) on the bed, even if it wasn’t cold. She just had to have the security of knowing it was under her, and that she could nip underneath it if she needed.

Sometimes you can’t move. Finances, work, just life in general will get in the way. But you can always plan, and prepare to move. You can start looking around for a place to live, price accommodation in the area. Organise your possessions. Because if you’re that cold, I would be stunned if you didn’t want to move, and you never know when a windfall will allow you to escape to somewhere warmer. And when you do…well it’ll never be cheap, but I have a few hints for moving home on a budget. Watch out for that in the future.

In the meantime, stay warm, stay safe, Winter is almost over, and have a watch/listen to this and cheer yourself up.

A poor girls guide to being great with money.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Christmas Planning. (Part 1)

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Christmas Planning. (Part 2)

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Grocery Shopping.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great With Money – Clothes Shopping Part 1: General Tips.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great with Money – Clothes Shopping Part 2: The High Street.

A Poor Girls Guide to Being Great with Money – Clothes Shopping Part 3: Thrift Shops.

A Poor Girls Guide to keeping warm, when it’s frikkin’ cold outside – Part 1

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