Boo! I’m surprising you with a Monday post because after my two days in London everything feels out of sync – plus I have something special to bring you on Thursday. So today I’m going to start with some rather random recent outfit shots and then move on to the thoughts I had when I read your midlife comments as they came in whilst I was on the train.
What I’ve been wearing
Now, this was over a week ago on a Sunday stroll with Mr MC and the youngest so that Gary could stretch his legs which always gives us an excuse for coffee and a cake down at the farm. As you can imagine I wasn’t especially dressed up and Mr MC was actually experimenting with the camera rather than taking shots for Midlifechic.
H&M jumper (last season); Boden Cambridge jeans (last season); Boden Boho boots (new season stock here); M&S cashmere coat (past season)
The locals are starting to get used to me being out and about taking photos. They still can’t get their heads around the concept of blogging but they find it entertaining… and sometimes they even want to join in!
This was taken early in the morning when I was waiting to catch the train for my meetings in London. I’m beginning to think that my iPhone is much kinder to me than my Olympus Pen, it blurs all of the wrinkles out.
M&S coat (sold out); Hush wrap blouse (last season); Hush velour trousers (last season); Hush skinny star scarf (last season); Clarks boots (past season); Coach crossbody bag; Herschel backpack
This was me feeling glad to be home on Saturday as we did a spot of shopping in the lovely old city of Lancaster:
Helene Berman peacoat (past season); Boden Cambridge jeans (last season); Clarks leather shopper (past season); M&S Chelsea boots (past season); Uniqlo cashmere roll neck (last season)
And here we are yesterday, going out for coffee and cake again! It isn’t just because we love cake (although we do) but we find it’s a really good way to get the boys away from their various devices for an hour on a Sunday. We can have a good conversation about the week that’s gone and make plans for the one to come.
I have two new items of clothing to show you in this picture. First of all you may remember me wearing this soft blue jumper in the Hope photoshoot back in September. I’ve been watching it in the sale and on Thursday it was reduced again and has now gone down from £95 to £23.75 so I bought one. It’s beautifully made and is knitted in one piece so there are no seams which is why it hangs so well. It’s a fine knit so it gives a ‘big jumper’ feel without adding bulk and you don’t overheat. At 10% cashmere it’s a bargain, I’m not sure when the sale ends but there are still some in stock so be quick.
Secondly I want to show you this new bag from Marks and Spencer. As you know, I was looking for a new black bag in the sales to replace my Whistles tote which owes me nothing – it has served me really well but was cracking at the straps. This time I wanted a bag that had a wider strap so it was easier to carry on my bad shoulder. I also wanted a shorter strap because my shoulder soon aches and so I end up carrying my bags in my hand.
I’ve been looking at this one on the M&S website for a while but I couldn’t tell whether the strap was long enough to go over the shoulder. Anyway I saw it in store last week and realised it would – as you can see below. So when M&S asked me what was the one thing I would pick from their latest deliveries, this bag was my answer.
It has an on-trend soft, unstructured feel because it is unlined and there is a drawstring bag inside so you can keep everything securely. I also really like the buckle detail which is attached by a subtle flash of khaki leather. This discreet detail, and the quality of the leather, make it look and feel much more expensive than it is.
What I’ve been thinking
So it’s been fascinating reading through all of your reactions to the survey. I’m really pleased it’s been helpful to so many people and on the whole it’s gone down well. I had wondered what the brands I saw last week would make of it but as always, they were really interested in the level of intelligent response from you all. I think they see us as a bunch of women to be reckoned with!
I’ve been hesitant about talking about my own experiences for a particular reason. The Blog Awards people are planning a big regional PR campaign for the finalists and so any minute now, my cover is going to be blown locally. This means that for a short time at least, all kinds of acquaintances and business contacts are going to be having a look at Midlifechic. As you can imagine, it leaves me with a bit of a quandary – there are certain things that the milkman doesn’t need to know!
However, ‘readers first’ is my blog mantra and there have been so many things raised in the comments, on Twitter and by direct email that I’m just going to get on with it. My experience, like a lot of people here, has been gently muted by the fact that I have had a Mirena IUD since the youngest was born. What wonderful things they are, I would highly recommend one to anyone. So, although I can see myself ageing (which is one of the worst things about having your photo taken as often as I do), I was pretty clueless as to whether I was nearing the menopause or not.
Last Autumn I quite quickly began to feel out of sorts. At first I put it down to post Summer malaise and the fact that I was working extra hours as Midlifechic started to take off in tandem with my marketing work. Then, despite having always slept well, I began waking every single night at 2.20am on the dot with my heart pounding as though there was some imminent danger.
Of course when that happens, your mind digs and delves until it finds a random worry to settle on. As I tossed and turned, the worry would grow in my head until it assumed apocalyptic proportions. I would finally fall asleep again at 6.30am only for the alarm to sound at 6.45am when the cold light of day would instantly throw perspective over whatever I had been worrying about, leaving me to despair at the insanity of the ‘dark hours’ and the sleep I had lost.
It happened most nights and yet no amount of logic or reasoning could stop it. In the end Mr MC reached the point where he would open one eye and say ‘catastrophising again?’ I would mumble ‘yes’ and he would go straight back to sleep.
I found that my usual ‘fizz’ had gone flat. Of course that sounds logical when you think of the lost sleep but it was more than that. Even in the broken nights of the baby years I had never had the sense of lethargy and ennui that I suddenly encountered. I could spend a whole weekend sitting on the sofa. Mr MC and the boys were overjoyed at the new chilled out woman in their lives but it just wasn’t me. The only way I can really describe it is that I felt as though my inner flame was burning very low.
Then in November, I had a Mumsnet encounter as some of you know. Every blogger dreads them. What happens is that you see a spike in new visitors to your site, look into analytics and realise it is coming from Mumsnet. Your heart pounds because it is either going to be good – a regular reader recommending you to someone who is looking for an over 40s blog – or it is going to be bad and you will be verbally shredded by a pack of wolves.
Unfortunately for me on this occasion it was the latter. Somebody (kind) had recommended my blog, others had gone to it and decided to set upon it. It felt particularly bad because very unusually I was alone – Mr MC and the boys were away at a karate competition. As a blogger you are always told to ignore Mumsnet but that went against my instinct so I decided to go onto the thread and try to talk to the people involved.
Typically, the ones who had been unpleasant, or shall we say cruel, ran away and hid. What did happen was that I began to have a conversation with two small groups; one group comprised of less engaged Midlifechic readers and the other included Midlifechic regulars.
I did my best to put my hurt feelings aside and don my researcher’s head instead. In the end, I discovered that what the constructive people were telling me was that I was ‘off the boil.’ I’d been working so hard to keep everything going that it was hard to hear. In the end though, I had to stand back and view it as I would any other piece of market research and try to get to the bottom of it.
From this perspective I could see that there was truth in what they were saying. I knew I wasn’t feeling myself. I had a chat to a friend who is a doctor and she encouraged me to go to my GP. I very rarely visit the doctor and I expected her to take a clinical approach by running some blood tests. However she didn’t, she listened to what I had to say and instantly suggested I try a very low dose of HRT.
I am fundamentally resistant to taking any kind of medication and of course in my mind were the scare stories about breast cancer. However when we talked through my family’s medical history, we realised that genetically, I am far more at risk of heart problems than breast cancer and HRT helps to protect against that. She also explained that the breast cancer studies are no longer believed to be conclusive.
So, I began to take the lowest possible dose of oestrogen in November. Has it helped? Yes – I now sleep much better and so feel less physically tired. More importantly though, I’ve got my buzz back. I feel like myself again, whizzing around and making plans. I definitely think there is more to this than just getting more sleep, it’s given me back the vitality that I had at 40. Quite simply, I feel recalibrated.
In the end, although it clearly wasn’t their intention, the Mumsnet crew ‘WhatTheFoxGoingOn,’ ‘BrillianaHarvey’ and ‘PickAChew’ did me a favour. If I hadn’t been given cause to look at myself objectively, I would probably just have ploughed on. I do want to thank those of you who came to my defence, I felt very supported and it is good to know that there are people like you refereeing the innate unkindness that some women seem to enjoy venting on Mumsnet.
More importantly, I hope my story might ring a bell with some people who are wondering what to do about HRT. If you’d like to hear another HRT story, my friend Michelle from RetroChicMama has written hers too, she has been suffering far more with physical symptoms than I have and is taking a much higher dose. Ultimately, you need to read as much as you can, talk to your doctor and decide what is right for you and your body.
A special post on Thursday
Finally, I am very excited to be able to tell you that once again, we are being given an exclusive early peek at the new Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo range. It launches online on Thursday morning and I will receive a package of clothes to style on Wednesday – so it’s going to be a fast turnaround at this end. I don’t usually publish on a Thursday so please do remember to pay me a visit. As you know the range often sells out by lunchtime so get ready.
I absolutely love the fact that Uniqlo see us as the right women for the Inès de La Fressange range. It is partly because of your enthusiastic response last time and once again, they will be reading the comments on the post very closely. They are a very responsive team of people so this will be your chance to tell them directly what you think – some of the changes you suggested last time are already in the pipeline.
I look forward to showing you their wares on Thursday morning. In the meantime please keep your fingers crossed for a warm, sunny day on Wednesday when I’ll be drifting around in Summer clothes, trying to bring a hint of Marseille to the frozen North of England!