To the both of you,

It's not often that we really thank our parents for everything we do, except for Mothers Day when we buy you the biggest bunch of flowers and take you to see a show, and Fathers Day when we treat you to a nice shirt and head out for dinner, but we never truly say thank you. Like really mean it.
For everything that you do.
After all, as a parent, you bring us into the world, and you bring us up. You teach us things to help live the best life that we can. And that, is a pretty important job.
Maybe the hardest too?
But actually, the most important job.

We grow up, and become who we are because of you. We look like you in many ways  and notice similar traits that we learnt and took from you. At a first glance, I look like you mama, with our dark sleek hair and slightly bigger noses than we'd like (oh and early grey hair..), but really I carry more similarities to you Papa with my natural curly locks that I got from you along with the unfortunate dry skin, and also, that thing called road rage...! I have my stubborn streak from papa, my way with words and my creativity and sometimes determination, yet I talk to everyone, I laugh and cry at everything and I over share, just like you mama. But I want to know, where did I get my over worrying, cuckoo land thoughts and gullible brain from? Because I'm really not sure on that one..
And actually, characteristics, genes and all, I don't mind all of these, because I'm a complete mixture of you both, and in my humble opinion that makes me feel pretty good (well, give or take a few health issues...). Getting older doesn't phase me with that.

Ever since Craig and I were kids, you've always taught us what I like to think of the right way in life. You made us realise that if we ever wanted something, we should not only go after it, but we should work hard to achieve and get it. Because just like that, life is all about working hard for what you want and we appreciate that. We value things so much more as we've grown ourselves and know that if we put our mind to it, we can do it. Whenever we wanted a new toy or gadget, or money for a McDonalds, you made sure we did our chores, and by doing those chores we were rewarded. Because we worked for it.
But you've never been pushy.
You've let us find our own paths in life, whether it's how you dreamt of your children's future or not, you've always supported our decisions in every aspect of our lives.
You've given us courage when we felt we lacked it and couldn't quite believe in ourselves.
You've always supported us and offered advice whenever we felt unsure on choices.
You've given us reassurance when we've doubted things.
But mostly you've given us love, in everything that we've done and continue to do.
And you've never ever given up on us when we disagreed with you, which was a fair few times... (because y'know, at nine years old we were totally right!)..
And I know, that, that is one of the things we're thankful of the most. Your love, support and the fact you've always been and hopefully will continue to be, our cheerleaders.
Just minus the outfits. I'm not sure your stomach would suit that papa...

We've had some times that have tested us, like many other families too, but when you look back on these moments, you realise they've only brought us closer. For the better.
And never have I realised, until them, just how strong you both are.
Whatever you're faced with, you've always dealt with it straight on. And with a smile.
Which inspires me, inspires us, to be like you.
We've learnt that whatever happens, happens for a reason and the best way to deal with things is by seeing the positive in everything. Even when you know that life is completely about to change.
You take things with a pinch of salt.
You deal with it calmly (OK, mama, sometimes, not so much...) and consider all options.
You realise that life is incredibly precious.
And you tell yourself that you're still here, in this life, which is the most important thing.

To me, that is what makes me most proud of, to call you my parents.

Your gratitude, your kindness, your humour and your warmth to everyone around you. Your appreciation and gratefulness for everyday, regardless of any situation. Your love and devotion to others, your motivational attitude and your pride for everything you do. And the fact, that you just, always smile. Even when things get tough.
That, is such an incredible thing. The best qualities in you both.

And how you work together, always. You're always there for each other, no matter what.
I hope to be like you mama, when I'm a mama myself one day, kind and caring (apart from when we were ill...) and always there when we needed you, and I want to make my children proud, be an inspiration to them, and live a life just like you papa (maybe without the hospital visits..).
And I hope that if I have a love like you two do, when I'm older, then I'll be a very content woman.
You both inspire me in more ways than imaginable, as individuals and as one.

And no matter how many times I thank you, tell you that you're both wonderful people and the best parents I could ask for, you will never truly realise, just how much I mean that.

All my love, always,

"Families are like branches on a tree. 
We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one"

Hey it's OK...

If your underwear drawer is the most organised thing in your life. Those lacy knickers are high maintenance and need space dontcha know?!

To laugh when you can't sleep. Even if the other half is really trying to get to sleep.

When you watch the same Youtube video over and over again. And laugh just as much as the first time.

To stop and think about the fact that your super hot boyfriend actually fancies you back, and then proceed to well up. Because it's real. And you're feeling all the feels.

When you wear your new jacket all day every day for a month. Inside and outside. Because, fashion!

To crave cherry tomatoes everyday for all of a year.

When you eat the whole chocolate bar. That was for two people. Like, whatever.

To not question something for once. Yeah that one can of pop rule a day? If you wanna break it one day you can. You're a full grown adult now so make your own rules.

If you forgot to reply to your girls on WhatsApp, because you'd replied in your head. The thought was there.

If you laugh and a little bit of wee comes out.

When you choose your funeral song on a weekly basis, based on what you currently REALLY cannot stop listening to.

Or singing the whole of The Greatest Showman soundtrack over and over again. And refuse to be bored of it.

To cry happy tears. At like everything you see and hear. Happy tears are good.

To genuinely mean that life is going well, when people ask. Even if your brain thinks that people will question your honesty in the response. ADMIT IT. Embrace it.

"If it's meant to be, it will be."
I was sat in the bath shaving my legs (OK, I was totally shaving my armpits, but legs sounded way more glamorous...) when I got thinking about an article I'd read the day before, with women shaving their arm hair. And it had me debating..

Should I be shaving my arms?

I mean, it's one of my biggest insecurities, and if others are doing it, just because it makes them feel cleaner, and fresher, then maybe I should be thinking about this seriously. After all, maybe it would take away one of my worries, my strongest insecurity?

But then, I thought a little harder and wondered where this obsession with body hair had come from. Having body hair on a woman is seen as masculine, dirty, a sense of being unhygienic and not looking after yourself and even worse, the feeling of being labeled ugly. At school I was bullied for having thick, dark hair and dark features meaning my legs were hairier way before I had my first period, my eyebrows nearly covered my whole forehead and my arm hair struggled to lighten even after a tan (and before you shock yourself, this was before straighteners and eyebrows being a 'thing'). And it affected me so much as a teen. I became conscious and I went to drastic lengths to make sure my body hair was covered.
I pestered my mum to let me shave my legs when getting undressed for PE terrified me daily. It ended up in the biggest bloodiest bath, but I learnt never to clean a razor with my finger again...
I begged my mum to let me go and get my eyebrows waxed at a salon so I could be rid of the bushes. It hurt and I cried a lot. But I felt better, and I never looked back.
I cried to my mum about why I was born with hairy arms and if I could remove them with hair remover (thanks for standing your ground on that one ma!). I ended up wearing long tops for a while..
And I brushed my hair into a plait everyday to hide my huge thick curls wondering if they'd ever turn out into luscious locks. I booked in for six sessions of chemically straightened hair. It worked!

And like many other teens in similar situations, it was tough.
It wasn't fun growing up when everywhere you looked, people were looking flawless. It still isn't so much fun now. Photoshop was about to remove all these excess body hairs, and hair removal became a big thing. Even adverts, that are promoting hair removal creams and razors are being shown on women who already have no hair, because showing said hair is almost seen as unappealing, unattractive. Wrong. It's reality.

It's like we should be ashamed for the way we are naturally. And in a way, we are.

The pressure to look attractive from what is considered the 'norm' now, is huge.
And I'm sucked into it too...
I get my eyebrows waxed and threaded every fortnight.
I shave my armpits every single morning.
I make sure my legs and vagina are hairless at all times.
And I bleach my upper lip when it needs attention.

I don't like to admit it either. I don't like to talk about the things I do on a daily or weekly basis because, I don't want to seem like a freak. But nobody wants to really talk about it do they?
I laugh with the girls about booking my eyebrow appointments and declaring that I'll be late for cocktails that Friday night because "eyebrows', followed by hand gestures of being fabulous. But eyebrows are a 'thing'. Eyebrows are trendy and people talk about them. All the time.
But I don't talk about the fact I shave my armpits everyday, and instead sneak off to the bathroom as I'm getting ready in the morning and quickly whizz a razor over them. I also don't involve myself in the chat when some friends are talking about getting their vaginas waxed ready for holiday. Because I shave, and not only am I a pussy anyway when it comes to waxing (no pun intended either..) but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Like opting to shave instead of waxing, won't be seen as attractive and sexier.
And I never ever discuss my upper lip bleach session where I make sure it's done on a night when no-one is around. And the evidence is hidden away, at the bottom of a cupboard never to be seen again until it needs revisiting. And no mention ever of said bleach because it would also be seen as masculine, dirty. Weird. And especially unappealing.

Because, we don't talk about it.

We don't talk about these things as though they're the norm. Instead we're expected to shy away, and go through all the effort, money and pain, to make ourselves look sexy and attractive, worthy - whether we want to or not. Of course, I want to look and feel good, and I make sure my body hair is kept in check. But it doesn't stop me shying away from conversations about how I go about it, for fear of being abnormal.

Fear of being abnormal having body hair that I, you and everyone else was actually born with...

We don't think less of a man if they can't grow a beard or have chest hair. So we shouldn't think less of a woman for having hair on their arms or opting to shave rather than waxing their lady parts.

"Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself"
Well hello 2017. You've come around so fast...

To be honest, you're already going at super speed. We're now ten days into you (there was a slight moment of me that went to be a little lad-like and be all 'wahey' WINK, but I resisted. Well, kinda.) and I'm only just sitting down to say hello, happy new year, and all those other things that happen in between that Christmas period and the quiet of January. You see, in the last three weeks, maybe even more six weeks, or if we're going full force, I'd say the last twelve months, it's been a whirlwind. A non stop ride. I would describe it as a rollercoaster, but then that means you have your lows with your highs, and of course although there were  a few low points in 2016, majority of it for me personally, was pretty incredible (does this make me sound selfish? I hope not.) I liked it a lot.
I liked it a lot because I was super busy. I hardly had time to stop and wash my socks (I did manage, but you get the idea), and I hardly lived at home. I was always somewhere, seeing people, places, and learning many new things. I visited new places and saw as much of the people who matter to me, as often as I could. They're the things I like the most, so it's time always well spent.

So I guess you've got a lot to live up to. But I have no doubts in you, I believe you won't disappoint.
And I believe that, because although I think fate lives in the clouds (as do I a fair amount of time...), I also know I can make it a good one too.
Which I'm going to.
Positivity; is key!

There's weddings to be attending, there's family to cherish, friends to laugh with, a male to be loved, work to be created, cats to be fussed, places to be visited, and most importantly myself to be pushed.
You see, thats my main plan this year; To push myself.
Not in a bad way, or one that'll make me cry. Nobody wants to cry. Like where's the fun in that?
But more, just to DO me. Be me. And believe in me.
That I can do things. That I am good at what I do, in all aspects of my life, from work, to friends and family, to living. And that I am who I am for me.
Because isn't that the biggest achievement of all. Being yourself.

At least I think it should be. I know it will be for myself.

And I'm also going to get out on my bike more. Even if it did make me cry the first time. That's an exception, because not only is it beautiful, but I know I enjoy it. Those tears? They were at the fault of my aching legs. So we'll blame my legs rather than the bike.

Here's to 2017. The year of being me. And riding my bike.

"It's not your job to like me. It's mine."
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