Pandemic-Related Life Struggles and Why I Neglected the Blog

Pandemic-Related Life Struggles and Why I Neglected the Blog | Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb, Over 50 Lifestyle and Wellness Blog

First up: who else has found the last two or three years somewhat… difficult?

I could also ask if it’s been demanding for you. Challenging, even. Or painful, tough, problematic, grim, or (but I hope it hasn’t been this for you), devastating.

For me, the word that I’m using to describe the last few years is…

Unsettling.

And that could be interpreted in different ways by different people. But for me, my pandemic and post-pandemic worlds have been unsettling on a scale of anything from 3 to, at times, 11 out of 10.

Until quite recently, I’d felt like my world had been turned upside down. But it took me a long time to realise that it had been like that for a long time.

Upside down, inside out and (to quote a great movie title) everything everywhere all at once. And it will probably take a long time to get “back to normal”, but I feel like I’m getting there.

Heck, I’m back to writing regular blog posts. Considering my four-month absence from these parts, that’s major progress.

 

[Reading time: 15 mins… yeah, it’s a wordy one. But I hope it resonates.]

 

Trying to find the point in something that seems pointless

I wasn’t sure how to start this blog post, or where I wanted to go with it. But I needed to analyse where it all started to go wrong, so here we are.*

*I actually started to write this post a while back, before I’d started posting regularly to the blog again. I decided it should be published after a few weeks of my usual, somewhat more upbeat/less philosophical, posts.

I thought I’d write something that hopefully might resonate more than a little with some of you. So if you’re reading this and thinking, Yes, life is so different now to three and a half years ago, and I have no idea what is really happening within me… then I SEE YOU. Because that’s how I feel: I don’t really know what’s been going on.

Well, to be honest I do know – it’s many things.

It’s perimenopause.

It’s having elderly parents.

It’s financial instability.

It’s the cost of living crisis.

It’s the feckin’ government and the state of the country (that’s as political as I’m going to get here).

It’s health issues.

It’s sadness after sadness within my family.

What I also know is that through circumstances [that would have occurred anyway] and the pandemic coming along at the same time, life has got horribly, horribly messy and problematic.

Does anyone else feel like they’re not the same person they were three years ago? Do you feel like the pandemic exacerbated stuff that you might have been able to cope with just fine under “normal” life conditions?

If so, you’re not alone. I’m with you all the way.

 

What killed my enthusiasm for work, the blog, self-care, etc.

So in a way, this, I hope, will explain why the blog had been so neglected for so long. I never intended it to happen; I used to post two or three times a week almost without fail. I couldn’t have possibly imagined I’d leave it for a week, let alone four months.

Confession: I longed for the “good old days” of blogging. (Still do.)

There, I said it.

I didn’t like the nearly 100% switch to social media, but no one can expect things to stay the same. But I started this blogging lark because I loved writing, photography, and clothes. However, those three things became almost obsolete during the course of the pandemic and post-pandemic years.

Let’s look at the evidence. Apparently…

Writing:
No one has time to read more than a caption. Does anyone read social media captions AT ALL? Because you’ll write something in an Instagram caption but no one wants to read it. Therefore, it becomes disheartening to think that you’re writing 1,000+ words in a blog post and people just aren’t interested. It seems nobody reads anymore.

[Despite me saying that I’m going to carry on because if YOU’RE here then I know you’re one of the ones that DO want a “proper read”.]

Photography:
It’s all about video, isn’t it? We were told [by them, you know, “them”] to forget still images on Instagram and to concentrate on reels. Apparently, your average Instagram follower doesn’t want to stare at an image that doesn’t move. But a blog post with 2, 4, 6 or more still images? Noooooo, no one wants to see that. So all that time I spend shooting on a DSLR, editing the photos through Lightroom, uploading them to a photo library (for safekeeping) and then deciding which 5 or 6 are the best to put into the blog post is supposedly a complete waste of time.

Clothes:
We’re all wearing sweatpants and WFH clothes now. Forget that wardrobe you have of “going out out” clothes, vintage dresses and high heels. Your followers want to see How to Dress Up Your Joggers and The Most Comfy Trainers You’ll Ever Wear in Your Life, apparently.

I’m sure you’ve realised that this was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek [read: sarcastic] analysis, but it’s not far from a realistic analysis of the past three years within the world of digital content creation (I’d say “blogosphere” but even that term seems redundant now, though it is far catchier). It was as if the very reasons that I started blogging were slowly and gradually being taken away from me and I’d been left scrambling around wondering where they’d gone.

And the last thing I want to do [for a living, which blogging is for me] is something that my heart’s not committed to.

So I had a choice to make: continue the blog, or not?

 

All the things that caused my sharp decline in productivity

If my life were a Netflix series then I’d have ended the season right there on that “Will she, won’t she?” cliffhanger…

Season 2 of ‘Blogging: Where did it all go wrong?’ coming in Autumn 2024! What will Catherine decide? You’ll have to wait for over a year to find out.

Don’t worry, I’m not presenting any cliffhangers here. In a nutshell: I decided to put my big girl pants on and bloody well sort myself out – I had to make it work for me. But along with that, I’ve had to sort out so many other aspects of my life. I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible* – I could talk about this all day – but these are all the things that caused my decline in productivity in my career:

*”brief” was never going to happen, was it… strap yourself in.

 

Health

My declining health has brought me down so much in the last few years. SO much. Perimenopause really kicked in for me during the pandemic. Along with the night sweats, the chronic pain in my legs and feet, the brain fog (I swear my everyday vocabulary dropped by 50% when I turned 50), my eyesight failing exponentially and all the heightened emotions*, the rapid, extreme weight gain is what has shocked and debilitated me the most.

My small frame isn’t coping with THIS much extra weight and it’s exacerbating all the aches, pains and lethargy.

The tendons in my feet and calves have been so painful since the beginning of the year that I cannot “jump out of bed” or put weight on my feet after resting without excruciating pain. I hobble around for about 15 minutes before they loosen up and I can walk properly (albeit still in pain). I’m currently waiting to see a podiatry specialist after having had X-rays of my feet taken. My doctor said that losing some weight will likely do a lot to help with all these pains, but she added that she knows how hard losing weight in (peri)menopause can be (I think she’s of a similar age to me).

*Until recently I’d been on HRT for over a year which almost immediately stopped the night sweats when I started taking it. Other symptoms are ongoing, though, and I’m currently seeing my doctor about tweaking my current dose/trying something new. I can’t stress how much it has helped and how much faith I have in it, despite not yet finding the right HRT for me.

 

Stress

This is a killer, isn’t it? Stress manifests itself in all sorts of ways, and the pandemic years have either made stress worse for people or created it where it never existed. I don’t think any of us can say the pandemic was a breeze; even if you were fortunate enough to escape illness, bereavement, employment woes or similar, it was still an uncertain and unforgiving time.

For me, one of the main causes of stress was having elderly parents who are now 89 and 94 (both with failing physical health but the latter also having dementia) and how the lockdowns and threats of hospitalisation were affecting them. Staying home and being cut off from friends and family advanced the dementia rapidly, so our responsibilities in caring for both of them increased tenfold.

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They’re right when they say dementia is “the slow goodbye”. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

We’ve also had a string of sadness in our family. As well as losing both my uncle and my mother-in-law very suddenly in 2022, we’ve lost two beloved family dogs unexpectedly at very young ages in the last year. It’s all been awful.

Another (equally) stressful thing was my job, or should I say lack of one.

 

Work

Since I went full-time with the blog in 2013, I’d never once been short of income. I’d had a steady stream of blog work coming in for seven years, and although some years were less lucrative than others, there was a time when I was turning down more work than I could take on. I was the main breadwinner in the house for quite a while (not that it’s ever been a competition between Keith and I, quite the opposite), and while we were never exactly “rolling in it”, we had a comfortable lifestyle.

That all changed in 2020.

It was understandable that as a freelancer, one who relied on collaborations both remotely and in person (photo and video shoots were my best-paying jobs), the pandemic was going to hit me hard. But I could NEVER have foreseen how bad it would get. The years 2020-21 were surprisingly okay; I was lucky enough to receive the SEISS (Self-Employment Income Support Scheme) payments and I actually had a couple of major in-person collaborations (at the end of 2020, don’t ask me how) and a few smaller remote ones. And I thought that once everything was “back to normal”, things would pick up again.

The OPPOSITE happened. Work literally dried up. We’re talking tumbleweeds.

It was the worst timing because when you rely on your own image as a major part of your brand, it affects you massively when your image goes out the window. And by that I mean my health affected my sleep / which affected my desire to look after my appearance / which affected my weight / which affected my self-esteem… the last thing I wanted to do was to shoot photos of myself other than from the neck up.

No clothes fitted me; by this I mean nothing but sweatpants and one pair of jeans, maybe an oversized, loose-fitting dress. I don’t mean my clothes were “a bit tight” and needed a top button undoing – I mean I literally couldn’t get anything even vaguely on. It was the sort of weight gain that really concerned my doctor during my various health checks – I was borderline clinically obese, not just overweight.

So the combination of feeling physically like shit and thinking I looked like shit meant I had no yearning of any kind to put together cute outfits. We had no money for me to buy new clothes, so my longstanding position as a style blogger went out the window.

Ergo, I dropped off the face of the social media/blogging Earth. I stopped shooting outfits and deep down I knew I wasn’t being seen by anyone who might consider me for a campaign. But because I practically hid myself away, I became my own worst enemy. I obviously wasn’t helping myself, and it became a vicious cycle as the less work that came in, the more it affected my self-esteem (see below), and the more I withdrew from putting myself online.

As a result of no work coming in and the massive rise in living costs, we found ourselves in the worst financial position we’d ever been in.

The cost of living is now so high, Keith’s salary now only covers our fixed monthly payments. So that’s mortgage, energy bills (I’m staggered at what you have to pay for that in the UK right now), car, insurances, council tax, etc. In other words, if I don’t earn any money, we have NOTHING for food, petrol or toiletries. Forget “leisure activities” or going out for a meal or a coffee. With each month that passed without an income from me, our financial situation got worse and worse and worse.

That’s despite me being good – I mean really good – at managing money. I learnt the hard way when I was younger when I finally got myself out of the debt I got myself into living in London (hence the move to Devon 20 years ago). Despite me being financially savvy in every way, we still found ourselves struggling massively. I mean the “getting into debt just to buy ourselves food” kind of struggle.

I will explain what I’m doing now shortly, but in case you’re thinking “Why didn’t she just go out and get herself a job…”, let me explain. We have a dog, and I refuse to go out to work and leave her alone all day. It’s just not going to happen. Suki is an Irish (hence, most likely badly treated) ex-racing greyhound and her life was probably pretty shitty before we adopted her. I see what we do for her as the same sort of sacrifices you’d make for a child, parent, partner or ANYONE who has specific needs.

We took on the responsibility to give her a good life, so we’ll eat gruel for the rest of her life if we have to in order to have one of us at home with her.

She doesn’t do well with strangers or lots of dogs so we can’t/won’t send her to doggy daycare. As for getting a job that requires remote working… it’s not that simple, as I found out to my detriment after months of job hunting. Every remote working job I saw had one of two problems (or both):

1) It still required me to go in once or twice a month – usually in London or a major city (not even slightly logistically possible), so not actually properly remote at all
2) It was fully remote, but those positions had hundreds, often thousands of applicants. It wasn’t unusual to see “number of applicants: 1,257” (I promise that’s not an exaggeration) next to a great job posting. If you want to work 100% remotely, you’re up against people from all over the country, not just your local area.

I applied for loads of those positions, but unsurprisingly I heard nothing back. The last time I applied for and got an advertised job was 20 years ago, and before that I would always at least get an interview for the jobs I applied for. The job market has changed beyond recognition, and it was a hard pill to swallow.

 

Loss of self-confidence

The biggest hit I’ve taken in the past three years has been what all of this has done to my self-confidence. It is [was] at rock bottom. I’ve never before known – truly known – the feeling of not recognising the person staring back at me in the mirror. This is why I started this post by using the word unsettling to describe how things have been for me.

I didn’t recognise myself. I didn’t like myself. Perimenopause affected everything from my weight to my sleep to my skin to my physical and mental/ability; the pandemic and personal circumstances heightened the effect they had on me.

I got it into my head that if brands didn’t want to work with me, it was partly because of my appearance. Maybe they (it’s “them” again) were right when they said you become invisible at 50. I certainly started to feel that way. If I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror, why would anyone online want to see my tired, bloated face and outfits consisting of joggers and baggy sweaters?

I was completely ashamed when I realised that I’d had thin privilege most of my life – and not realised I’d had it. And while I’m not going to get into any sort of discussion about learning to love my size (not now, anyway, and not in this blog post so with respect I’m politely asking that you don’t bring that up in the comments, I’m working on that privately as it doesn’t happen overnight), I had a hard time trying to work out who this new person was… the one I didn’t recognise as me.

I’m not trying to present a sob story here. It’s more of a way for me to look back and see where it went wrong/what is happening now/where and how things can change. It’s my “Where Did It All Go Wrong and How Do I Fix It?” letter to myself, if you will.

And, I hope, it may resonate with you if you’ve found yourself in one or more similar situations.

 

✷  ✷  ✷  ✷  ✷

 

What’s happening now, and what’s happening next

Since restarting a regular posting schedule last month, I have, quite honestly, started to feel like my old self again. The one who enjoyed writing and bashing away at her keyboard. The one who enjoyed taking photos and editing them. The one who has started to feature a few outfits here and there because it’s summer, and I always feel better in summer.

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Things are definitely on the up. While the financial situation isn’t any better right now, I have, at least, started to get some regular work coming in. Once I get paid for those jobs then (fingers crossed!) I might see a bit of regular income again.

To summarise all the things that have changed/that I have changed:

  • I decided that blogging is still, IMO, far superior to social media. Writing is my forte (as I’ve proved with this gazillion-word blog post) and by going back to doing this regularly, I realised how much I missed it.
  • I didn’t want to miss writing my annual birthday/blogiversary blog post this year, so I had to write something. It triggered the reboot and reignited my love for blogging.
  • After months of trying, the excess weight is finally starting to shift (slowly), and it’s already eased the pressure a little on my feet. It makes exercising easier, which helps the weight loss. Hence, a snowball effect.
  • HRT works for me where night sweats are concerned – but they have started to creep back now I’m not currently on any HRT. We’re running a few tests as the second one I tried wasn’t right for me. But I’ll be glad to get back on it.
  • Although my parents’ health is still bad (and dementia never gets better, only worse), we have talked a lot about what their wishes are for various scenarios; it takes a lot of worry out of the equation. And I’ve taken on a structured part-time carer’s role for them – we live only a five-minute drive away – so I can keep on top of things far more easily as well as still having the support of my extended family, which thankfully we’ve always had. Everyone does their bit and [my parents] know they’ve always got help.
  • I made the decision to change the niche of my blog and Instagram, which I’ll explain below.
  • Work has finally started to come in, and strangely I’m getting almost as many enquiries about collaborations as I had pre-pandemic. Even more surprising: most enquiries are for blog content. That hasn’t happened since about 2018.
  • I’m shooting outfit posts once more. Maybe not as frequently as before, but I’m doing it. I can fit into a few more clothes now, and I’ve discovered the joy of charity shop shopping for clothes. I’ve picked up some fabulous things this summer.
  • Suki is still amazing. We love her to the ends of the Earth and back. She’s even improving in terms of her reactiveness to men she takes a dislike to (completely unexplained but probably linked to her racing days), as well as not barking like a lunatic every time someone knocks on the door (just sometimes). No way would I even want to leave her alone all day, even if she were able to be left alone.
  • My self-confidence/self-esteem is slowly improving. I think the main reason is because I’m getting offers of work coming in regularly. In hindsight, I can see that having no work was the main cause of my mental health issues. I could probably have coped okay with everything else, but having no work and no income was ultimately devastating for me and made me reluctant/unable to tackle any of the other problems. I just didn’t know it at the time.

 

Changing my niche

As mentioned in the list above, I made the decision to change the niche of my blog and Instagram. It may seem quite subtle – hopefully long-term readers won’t have noticed much of a difference – but my decision to concentrate on well-being, health, menopause and ageing equally with style is – I think – what has earned me interest from brands again.

I think the pandemic, for me, killed my status as a (mainly) style blogger. Even in the two years or so in the run-up to the pandemic, fashion brands weren’t paying for content. It was (and still is) far too easy for them to offer clothes as payment.

After 12 years of blogging, I’ve been gifted all the clothes I could ever need (doesn’t mean I can fit in them, but as already explained I’m working on it). There is literally no point in me accepting clothes as payment because a) I don’t have the space to store them, b) I have a ton of clothes already and it’d just be wasteful/unethical, and c) clothes don’t pay the mortgage, or put food on my table.

I’ve also long encouraged content creators to not accept PR products as payment unless it’s under no obligation. Brands producing a long list of demands without actually paying you to jump through hoops is wrong and helps no one. They’ve been taking advantage of content creators for FAR too long and my “no obligation without payment” rule keeps everyone happy and makes it fair to everyone: brands, pro bloggers and hobby bloggers.

(I could only call bloggers “content creators” so many times before I caved… We’ll always be bloggers to me.)

Anyway, back to my change of niche: I changed my bio on Instagram. I made it mostly about wellness but kept a small nod to style over 50. And the content over there is more focused on lifestyle and health, midlife issues, etc. rather than just “Here are the photos of the outfit I posted on the blog”, which is all I did before.

I think once I did that, and a little time passed, I started getting noticed more [by brands] for my other content, rather than by the fashion brands I chased for so long.

Of course I want Instagram followers to enjoy the content I put out, but as this is my livelihood I need to think of it from a business point of view as well.

 

The future

I was in a very dark place up until about 4 months ago; I was probably at my lowest during this last winter (because also, winter). But I can now see that a few tweaks here and there – plus the onset of summer which always helps me – has started the ball rolling in the direction I want it to go.

It’s all baby steps, but things are getting better in all areas.

My desire to get back to regular blogging has kicked right back in. During my hiatus, it never even occurred to me to write a blog post. Now, I’m always thinking about the next one I have to write and my content planner is full for the next six weeks or so.

My health is improving slowly, and I should get answers about/treatment for my painful feet soon.

I should start to see some healthy payments coming in imminently for the paid content I’ve already published, and this makes me more determined to start promoting myself again. (I would also like to say a massive THANK YOU to you for engaging with my paid content here and on Instagram – it literally means food on the table for me. LITERALLY. So thank you, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate and enjoy all your comments, likes, etc.)

I’m enjoying charity shop shopping for clothes and have vowed to only buy new if there’s a very valid reason for it.

I want to get back into the upcycling projects (furniture and various homewares) I started in earnest last year and to start making some money from all the unfinished projects I have waiting to be completed. Along with the caring role and the blogging, I effectively hold down three jobs now – but I see that as a positive.

I’m still self-employed.

I still dictate my own hours.

I’m still at home with Suki.

It’s all hard work, but I’ve found that I thrive on that. The poor mental health I suffered with for so long seems to be ebbing away, and I’m feeling like a weight is being lifted from my shoulders.

It’s not lifted off entirely, but I’ve found the strength to ease the pressure. And as long as I can keep that pressure off, I think I’ll be okay.

 

How have YOU found the last three years or so – can you relate to any of the things I’ve talked about here? How are you coping, or what have you found has helped you? Let me know in the comments box below…

 

Thanks for reading,

Catherine signature

 

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86 Comments

  1. 11 October 2023 / 4:16 pm

    I’m very, very late to this post, but it resonated so much with me that I had to comment… I’m not sure if you’ve been reading my money diary posts on Substack, but we found ourselves in a very similar position to you during and after the pandemic, and ended up basically living on credit cards for a while which was (and is) utterly terrifying. I’ve also been dealing with what feels like a complete loss of identity, partly due to the fact that the pandemic seemed to age me 20 years overnight, but also because the loss of my blogging career left me feeling completely irrelevant, really, like some kind of weird dinosaur who was still clinging on to the “old ways” when everyone else had long since moved on. Like you, I’m gradually starting to see some work coming in again, and am feeling a bit more positive about things now, but it’s still touch and go most months, so your honesty in writing about everything you’ve been going through is so reassuring to me, much as I’m sorry to read it. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now: I’m so glad you’re starting to feel a bit more yourself – long may it continue! (And now I’m off to read all the comments on this!)

    • Catherine
      Author
      19 October 2023 / 11:41 pm

      Neeeeeeeeeeever too late, Amber… YES I’ve read your posts about your own monetary struggles, and yes I realised that our blogging/financial situations were very, very similar. I’ve often spoken to Keith over the past year or so about what you’ve been writing about it (sorry – till I started writing on Substack I didn’t realise you could comment on the platform, otherwise I’d have commented, I know better now!), and I said how it wasn’t just me that was struggling and how you were finding the exact same problems that I had with the whole blogging lark.

      I know EXACTLY what you mean about clinging onto the old ways: it’s like having a job where no one wants to work with you and no one has any use for you anymore, but you sort of keep blindly going on until one day you go, “Hang on, what am I even doing this for?!”

      But I do believe that Substack is a sort of saviour for us: if only for us to flex our writing muscles again. Thank you SO much for commenting, and thank you for your bloody brilliant books which I am LOVING (just finished book 2 and have put 3 and 4 on my Christmas list!) – you never know, I might even pick your brains for what you can tell me about getting a novel or three published…! xx 😀

  2. Beth McKinlay
    15 September 2023 / 3:24 am

    Hi Catherine, I’ve been following your blog on and off for years, and just wanted to say — many people of our age group (and your target demographic) prefer to read a blog and look at stills. I don’t know why, it just seems to remain in your brain longer and give you something to think about! I’ve always loved your styling and that’s not changed even with all the struggles you’ve had. You’ve got a great eye and your photography is always wonderful. Glad to see you’re on an upswing now.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 2:58 pm

      Oh Beth that’s so good to hear – thank you! All these lovely comments have honestly made me realise that blogging ISN’T dead, I mean I love reading in-depth blog posts so why would I think I’m the only one?! I really appreciate your kind words, thank you soooo much for the support 😀

  3. MaureenC
    14 September 2023 / 7:35 am

    Good to see you back, not sure if you’re still in my bit of Devon but I used to enjoy ‘location spotting’ your photos!
    My early fifties were very similar, though I was lucky enough not to suffer many physical effects of the menopause it more than made up for it on psychological impacts. Also had two elderly relatives with dementia and the usual challenges of teenagers. Ultimately left my job as a senior manager in the public sector and went back to my first career of acting, doing something for me actually made all the other stuff much more manageable and my mental health I proved enormously. The pandemic was crap as my husband was shielding it went on for longer for us than most people and I gained 8kg that I’m still trying to shift! However I’m now really enjoying my second time round as an actor. Keep going there are plenty of people who have had enough of Instacrap and want to read for more than five seconds.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 2:56 pm

      Ahhh hello fellow Devonian, Maureen – I’m in East Devon (formerly Cullompton but Honiton for the last five years)!

      That’s really good to hear you went back to acting as it sounds like you truly love it, I’m so glad it was good for your mental health. I feel a bit like that with blogging, I personally need a mixture of wanting to write it because I love it and work opportunities coming in to be inspired enough to continue… having no work made my head go, “Your blog is pants because no one wants to work with you, why bother writing it” – not logical I know but I’ve always been very proud of myself for making a career out of it so having that disappear from me hit me like a ton of bricks!

      It must have been so hard to have someone in your household who was shielding, I know a few people who were in the same position and they really did have a tough time. I hope all is well now and that the kilos are slowly shifting. My excess weight is shifting slowly too – but whatever you do, DO NOT give up. I only started to see a bit of progress because I finally stopped thinking I shouldn’t bother (“because nothing’s coming off”) – your health is so important and even if weight isn’t shifting initially, your health IS improving because you’re moving and eating better. Keep going even if progress IS slow or seems non-existent…!

      Thank you for the kind words, so pleased you love to read prose and not just look at “Instacrap”, lol 😉

  4. 12 September 2023 / 7:21 pm

    The pandemic certainly changed a lot of us, some for the better, others not! I am fortunate and seemed to get through it quite well. I did have all , or nearly all the family around me, and hubby worked as did most of the kids. My eldest daughter moved in with us, only because they were going to anyway as their house was being extended! Blogging! well I’ve been on and off deciding whether to keep it up or not, but I do enjoy seeing it finished each week and it’s kind of a diary for me, so rather theraputic actually. IG drives me mad, it’s going from bad to worse with them wanting to be paid for most stuff now! I don’t seem to get many followers or comments etc, but they are a nice community and I suppose that’s what counts. I love to read and follow your blog you are a mind of information and it’s much needed by some (me). lol Have a super week my friend. Jacqui xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 2:47 pm

      It’s really good to hear you didn’t have a truly torrid time, Jacqui – I bet you loved having your daughter with you!! And thank you, it’s great to know there are still those of us who love producing blog content as well as those who love to read it. I’m sure you too have a love/hate relationship with Instagram… when it’s good it’s very, very good, when it’s bad it’s terrible!!! x

  5. Jenn
    6 September 2023 / 4:24 pm

    I’m sorry you’ve been through so much – I also love that you are writing about it. I went through menopause at 40 and felt unseen by all my favorite online places. The sudden change in my appearance was a real kicker – 5 years later ive mostly come to terms with it but its still so weird having a face that doesn’t look like my own. Its a strange complicated journey and im kinda excited to be invited into your world through your posts.
    My mantra over the last few year has been “this is hard and I can do hard things” …. well now I’m rambling…. in short, I’m glad to see you here. (Also I love that you love your dog)

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 2:44 pm

      Oh gosh that’s quite early to have gone through menopause Jenn, I hope you’re coming out the other side okay – and I KNOW that feeling of not recognising your own face! I’m sure it’s not just weight gain but perimenopause and all the hormonal changes that have done it… it’s really hard to explain to someone else isn’t it? But WE see it!

      Love your mantra. I need to adopt that. And thank you for the kind words, not just about the blog but about Suki. Amazing to know how many people have supported me where that’s concerned, I think the type of people who say “it’s just a dog” are (hopefully) few and far between. I saw a reel today with a dog that had an audio saying “What do you mean, where did we get her from – she’s my daughter, I gave birth to her” LOL – that’s just how I feel!!!!! hehe 😀 x

  6. 2 September 2023 / 12:23 pm

    Catherine, I’m so sorry that the last few years have been so effing tough on you. It sounds horrendous to be going through so much crap, especially when it all hit at the same time. I’m so grateful that Michael and I were actually pretty ok through the pandemic. I’ve not been earning much money for years…relying solely on him to support us both (which, by the way, he has always been really happy to do). Yes, I do earn a little on book sales each month (but it’s such a teeny amount, like probably less than £50 pm), and I pick up the odd sponsored post here and there, but that’s it. I’ve been trying, for years, to earn my own money but it’s a very, very slow process (now thinking of Jenny’s post you recommended!). I’m still determined to make it in my own right though, which is why I’ve been focussing much more on various YouTube channels lately. But I’ve digressed, Michael runs his own property renovations company and he was busier than ever in recent years so we’ve been very fortunate in that aspect.
    As for me though, I can totally empathise with you about peri-menopause. It has shocked me how my memory has just died…and the fact that I can’t remember words, simple words we use everyday just vanish mid-sentence, making me feel like a total freaking idiot. I’ve had to use Chat-GPT to help me write blog posts at times because I just can’t think properly. I’ve been getting hot flushes on and off, but they were worse a couple of years ago before I realised what they were. It scared the life out of me, because they came with heart palpitations and the feeling like I was going to faint. If they start now, at least I know what it is, and I can quickly lie down and sip cold water until it passes. I’ve had some weight gain, and joint aches and pains, but I believe my daily yoga (just 20 mins or so) helps enormously. I also believe my meditation practise helps me with…well everything! There are other things symptoms I deal with, but I can’t remember what they are right now!!!
    But anyway, I’m really, really glad that you’ve started writing on the blog again, Catherine. For the past seven years, you have been such an inspiration to me and I hate knowing that you’re suffering in anyway, more so since we started ‘chatting’ occasionally on WA. I’m excited to see what the future holds for you, because I think from now on, you’re going to go from strength to strength!
    Big hugs
    Suzy xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 2:35 pm

      Suzy I’m so glad to hear you didn’t suffer heartbreak through the pandemic… it was still stressful though wasn’t it. And isn’t the whole brain fog and losing vocabulary thing so weird and frustrating – so many women commenting here have said the same thing! I’m glad to hear the yoga has helped, I used to do it regularly years ago and I MUST get back to doing it as a regular thing, even if I start with just once a week I know it’ll help.

      And thank you for the lovely compliments, it’s so good to know everyone still lives the written word (I know a few writers now, you being one of them, so praise from you is high praise indeed)! MUAH xx

  7. 2 September 2023 / 9:59 am

    I can relate to this post in so many ways. The past few years have been some of the worse I’ve experienced in my whole life.

    I too have found my way back to blogging & I’m so pleased that you are working your way back.

    I’m really enjoying writing on Substack.

    I’m loving seeing your posts ping back in my inbox regularly

    Sharon xo .

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 10:38 am

      Oh Sharon I know how you’ve been through the wringer and back again… your strength is astounding, and yet you’re still producing fabulous content and are so supportive still – thank you thank you xx

  8. Erika
    31 August 2023 / 9:59 am

    Catherine, what an incredibly honest and well-written post, and it’s the writing, along with good photographs that make blogs so enjoyable for me. I don’t engage with social medial….bloggers and instagram ( I find I can do without reels) are the things I like. Covid was devastating in so many ways, other than the most obvious, and we all have different experiences of the fall-out from that.

    I totally understand your wish to stay at home with Suki, because she is a dependent family member, and that is just what you do! I also had an ex-racing greyhound who started life in Ireland. He was very needy and had separation anxiety, so could never be left for any length of time. When anyone gave him a kind word, he would lean into them! Thankfully he would go to day-care a couple of times a week and enjoy the chance to run like a racer again in a huge field, when the mood took him. But, my life changed to accommodate his needs, just like it did when my children were small.
    I’m sorry that you’re now coping with dementia and frailty in your family. At least I don’t have that, my parents having died in their thirties, and early sixties. I wish you well in dealing with the stresses and emotions surrounding parental care.

    I hadn’t realised that payment content creators could come in the form of clothes not currency. What use is that! Good for you for taking a stand. So glad that you are ‘back’ and I’m looking forward to reading your slightly tweaked content!

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 10:34 am

      Thank you Erika, fellow greyhound mum! It does worry me what they go through in Ireland, I hear horrible stories about how they treat them over there 🙁 Sounds like your boy had a lovely life though… Suki’s needs are SO important to us as your boy’s were to you…!

      I’m sorry to hear you lost your parents when they were so young, my brother and sisters are all in their 60s and my goodness, it’s no age at all. Although they’ll never “get better”, we are constantly putting more measures in place to make life easier for my parents (and, as a consequence, us).

      It’s great to hear you love reading blog posts, thankfully I’m loving being back in the swing of it… hadn’t realised how much I missed writing. It’s good to be back, thank you x

  9. Jeanette Passey
    31 August 2023 / 8:17 am

    Catherine – great post ! Totally relate to your peri menopause symptoms – it also almost totally devastated me too .My worst was going for a job interview and being unable to remember a previous address – I just completely blanked! Glad your are back and coming through .You look gorgeous – but I know you have to feel it too.Best Wishes Jeanette

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 10:28 am

      Jeanette thank you – gosh that must have been a panic moment to have your brain go blank like that in an interview, eep!!

      Your kind words mean a lot, and yes you are right about having to feel it too… I’m getting there 🙂 x

  10. Bethanne
    30 August 2023 / 1:52 am

    I can SO relate to the downward health spiral that happens when you don’t have work! Have you ever considered a Patreon, or running your blog with something like a Substack model where users can access your content for free but some might be willing to pay for a subscription? I’ve loved your blog for years and would happily support it with a small monthly fee. Welcome back!!!

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 10:26 am

      Thank you Bethanne, it’s hard with no work isn’t it? Thankfully work seems to be coming in a bit more regularly now and it’s made me feel SO much better 🙂

      I have sort of thought about Substack, but I’d made a promise to my readers many years ago that I’d never charge content. I feel a little uncomfortable about it, I have to admit, so unless things go downhill again I’ll keep things as they are (and let brands pay for me to write for them)! xx

  11. Liz
    29 August 2023 / 12:56 am

    I JUST thought of your blog again today after not checking it since (probably) 2019, since I have a wedding to attend coming up this fall and needed style advice. I turned 50 in 2021 and have had many of the same issues you describe: joint pain, weight gain, mental health problems, poor sleep, hot flashes. Worst of all of course is the ABSOLUTE LOSS OF VOCABULARY! My mom has dementia as well, but luckily we were able to move her to a top quality memory care facility…also in 2021! But this year I am coming out of it a bit, and yes, I absolutely feel like a completely different person now vs 3 years ago. That world is gone and will never return. It’s taking so much energy to build a new world for myself, but the only way out is through, as the poet said. I’m also tired of videos and scrolling without taking any “real connection” content in…Oh yeah, and I’m sick of sweatpants too, but I’m loving the jumpsuit trend! Best of luck to you. I really enjoy your writing, please keep it up.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 10:20 am

      Oh Liz that was perfect timing, I’m glad I’d already got back into writing on the blog regularly for when you decided to swing by!

      Thank you for those lovely words, I really appreciate them… I’m with you all those things. Strangely the only “typical” meno symptom I haven’t had is the hot flushes – it’s weird because in my teens and 20s I used to get very flushed cheeks very often?! But the vocab thing is real and very irritating, hopefully you saw my post about new words I made for things I can’t remember the name of 😉

      Again thank you, hope you’ll continue to enjoy what I write x

  12. 28 August 2023 / 9:46 pm

    Dear Catherine – I’ve loved your blog long before I discovered Instagram, and while I’ve missed your great writing and styling, as long as your morning walks were on IG (complete with marvelous nature photography and pig content), I knew you were at least alive and kicking, even while dealing with huge problems. Thank you for writing so candidly about the women of our age face. Your blog inspired me to start my own, and I’ve always considered it a model. I know a lot of bloggers are going over to Substack (seems more popular than Patreon for getting paid of content), and you’re someone I’d pay to read, because you feel like an old friend. I’m so glad to hear you’re getting paid work again and hope the financial situation improves quickly. We love you, O Queen!

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:37 am

      Oh wow MK I’m so flattered that you consider my blog one for you to be inspired by… that’s so lovely to hear! You’re always so kind and supportive 🙂

      I’ve sort of thought about Substack but I have to say I feel uncomfortable about charging people to read what I write – I said many times over the years I’d always make my content free. I may come round to it one day, but right now it doesn’t feel right to me. We shall see…! xx

  13. Ann
    28 August 2023 / 4:38 am

    Hi Catherine,
    Thank you for sharing. I lost my Mom in 2009 to Alzheimer’s. About 2 years ago, my FIL was diagnosed with a different form of dementia. So far, he’s holding his own. Sadly, my husband and I have a good idea as to what’s to come with him due to my Mom.

    My world changed on 3/8/20 when our entire school district (in USA) shut down due to 1 diagnosed Covid case. My son had just won his very first big swim competition. That ended swimming. I spent that spring “acting” as my sons 6th grade teacher. I am a horrible actress but we survived and no one was jailed. Sadly, I started eating like a teenage boy and have not stopped. Nothing fits and I’ve worn joggers for so long I’ve forgotten how to style myself and where my waist is. I’ve survived teaching said son, how to drive. Plus all the craziness in my country with our leadership. I’ve developed hip problems that were so painful last year I found myself sitting all day. I think I’m a couple years older than you so I’m somewhere in the whole peri/post menopausal craziness. There are perks to this stage in life but some days it’s hard to realize them. However, I’ve accepted my hip issues and am slowly finding ways to live with it. My son is a great kid, wonderful musician and enjoying becoming an independent teenager. My husband and I still like each other and enjoy hanging out with the dog.

    I would suggest you ask the experts who exactly they believe your audience to be? They may not have the right description for all of us. Glad to see you back and that you are paving your own path. Sometimes the other path is the right one to take.
    Ann

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:34 am

      Oh Ann I’m so sorry to hear about both your parents… I worry that the same is starting to happen to my other parent, it could be early stages as we’re recognising the same symptoms. And yes, it can be devastating to know what’s to come 🙁

      Your Covid ordeal sounds pretty horrible, I do feel for all the children who didn’t get proper schooling during the pandemic. I fear it will have long-term effects on that generation sadly. I’m glad to hear you’re feeling more positive however and have comes to terms with your health issues: I’m sending you my very best, thank you so much for your kind words x

  14. Veronica
    28 August 2023 / 4:35 am

    I am happy you are back, although I am sorry you have had a hard time (and I can completely relate). Personally, I vastly prefer written materials to video – I don’t have the time nor patience to listen to someone blather on (and I can read pretty quickly). Your blog has always been one of the most interesting to me (actually probably THE consistently most interesting blog). Bless you for your great care for Suki, too.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:30 am

      Veronica thank you ever so much, I really appreciate the kind words people have left about us wanting to do right by Suki – she’s our family and we love her! And I’m glad to hear you love the written word… I love writing them. Your support means a lot x

  15. JoAnn Moran
    28 August 2023 / 1:53 am

    I can relate to so much of what you’re talking about. I am 62 years old, and after many years in education being pushed out of my job in a very toxic work environment. I don’t blog for a living, but I have experienced many changes and sad losses in the past few years. Hang in there. I will enjoy your posts whatever your weight.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:28 am

      Oh gosh Joann I’m so sorry to hear about your work environment – that’s not good for anyone at ANY age, let alone when you’re menopausal! And for your losses too… it’s been rough, hasn’t it. Thank you for the kind words and the support, I really appreciate it x

  16. Sanja
    27 August 2023 / 7:38 pm

    This post is EXACTlY why I follow you. Raw, honest and sharing the downers in life, which resonates with so many of us. While I loved your styling posts, your recent day by days, blogs and ‘life as it is’ is so welcome in a social media perfect world. Stay true to you Catherine.
    Yes to photos, videos have a purpose but photos are art.
    Covid was torture. No other way to put it. In Victoria Australia we were locked down for 8 months and on and off for the following year. I live by myself, and the lack of physical touch for months on end without friends and family led me to despair. I cried every day.
    Life is returning for me, with travel and exploring my creativity and a new self direction with my employment… but the feelings will linger for a long time… scarred and slightly bent, but not broken.
    I wish you all the happiness, and thank you again for being you.

    Go well

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:27 am

      Oh my goodness Sanja THANK YOU – what a lovely thing to say…! Such kind words 🙂

      My sister and her family lives in Australia, I know just what a torrid time it was for everyone – it seemed like you were in lockdown forever, and ever, and ever. So good to hear life is returning to normal for you, do enjoy your travels (they’ll be so good for the soul). My sister and BIL are coming over here in 2024 for the first time in six years and we can’t wait to see them xx

  17. 27 August 2023 / 7:08 pm

    Thank you for writing with such honesty, Catherine. I can relate to quite a few of the struggles you have been/are still going through. I too missed your writing and insights during your hiatus from the blog, and am so pleased you are back – and that collaborations are starting to pick up again. Your blog has always been one of my favourites because both your style, and your writing and perspective on life are so authentic and relatable, so I will always relish reading whatever you choose to write – funny, heartfelt, and everything in-between. Wishing you a much smoother path ahead x

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:24 am

      Aww Lizzi thank you ever so much, to have such high praise from one of my favourite writers EVER really makes my day! xx

  18. sophikita
    27 August 2023 / 8:35 am

    It’s great to see you back Catherine! I also much prefer reading a long blog like this one and never watch videos. Love all the topics that you bring up and your honesty and humour!

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:23 am

      Sophikita thank you so much – so glad to hear you love the written word x

  19. 27 August 2023 / 8:22 am

    I can so understand what you have been going through. Not that I’m in the same position. I can picture how you lost yourself. And I’m very glad you are on your way back. It has been a few words and hard years with Covid. But the effect that menopause has on us is unbelievable. I have used HRT for a year now, and stopped because it didn’t feel good anymore. The night sweating is back and so is the lack of sex drive, which in my eyes is pretty important too. Working on that…… As what blogging concerns, I still enjoy it so much. Even though its different then before Covid. But I think it’s slowly gets popular again. You will get there Catherine!

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:22 am

      Thank you Nancy – and yes I agree with you: I definitely think blogging is back on the rise! Sorry about your own meno woes, I hope you get the night sweats and sex drive sorted soon… maybe you need a different dosage or type of HRT, I guess you’re speaking to your doctor about it? x

  20. Liz P.
    26 August 2023 / 10:56 pm

    Your blog is unique – with a unique name and sentiment – and your independent spirit shines through your writing and clothing. I am excited that this will expand into the other areas because I know you will always keep it real. I can definitely relate to your experiences these past few years and also in that decade between 50 and 60. I just turned 60, and I discovered in my late 50s that I had hypothyroidism. (I encourage you to get your thyroid checked. I went through menopause before I knew and it would’ve been better if I’d had the thyroid replacement medication then … ) I started wearing shoes with arch support. There are lots of cool ones now. The net result of 2020-2021 is that I now work permanently from home (a dream come true for me) but that also brings more isolation. Catherine, you have a lot of wisdom that you’ve shared in the past and I hope you’ll keep sharing it, even just little pearls of wisdom and life hacks. I remember you once wrote about working from home – BEFORE 2020 – and how you would do something like take the train one stop, or get coffee, or walk around the block and then “arrive” at your home office and buckle down for a day’s work. I implemented that! I also started thrifting clothes as a way to cut down on shopping since I don’t really need a wardrobe anymore. (We have ThredUp online in the US.) I would love to see some “shop your closet” photos or capsule wardrobes from your closet, but with your signature pattern and color mixing. (You don’t have to wear the clothes, you could just photograph them.) I would also be interested in some tips on The New Frugality. (I need to pinch every penny for retirement.) I love reading anything you write.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:20 am

      Liz thank you for those lovely words! I’m really glad you love the blog <3

      I've had my thyroid checked, but thank you so much for suggesting it... it was completely normal. Until I got the results I was convinced that was what was causing my problems and the weight gain - I was amazed when it wasn't that. Back to square one! I also tried the arch supports on the advice of my doctor but they actually made my feet even more painful as they kept pressing up and into the root of the pain. Nothing like my body being awkward where my health is concerned!!

      I'll have a think about the suggestions you made about the clothes... I like the idea of writing about The New Frugality! I might pinch that headline if I may x

  21. Michelle
    26 August 2023 / 7:54 pm

    That is a lot to go through in a short period of time. My mom had dementia too, and it is devastating to lose a parent that way. Sending you love.

    Another one here knowing things are not going to ever be like they were before the pandemic, and wondering what life will look like going forward. Over the past 3 years I’ve lost my Mother and an Aunt, gone through menopause and sent my only child off to college. I haven’t had a plan for decades because something always showed up and the path was clear.

    Am so glad to see you blogging again and I think you will make a lot of impact with your new focus. This is such a challenging time to be women our age. It’s comforting to know this isn’t something we are going through alone. I always thought I’d enjoy getting older – I’m shocked to be struggling as much as I am.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:16 am

      Thanks Michelle… dementia is awful, isn’t it. I lost him a long time ago, I don’t even know who the person now left is. Nothing short of heartbreaking for all of us 🙁

      I’m sorry to hear about your terrible times too, and I hear you on the shock of getting older. I embrace it and don’t grieve for my youth – I just want the struggles and the physical pains to ease a little. Thank you for the kind words where the blog is concerned, I really appreciate that and hope you’ll continue to enjoy what I write x

  22. Kelly Novak Montano
    26 August 2023 / 7:12 pm

    I’m 64 and my 52nd year was a nightmare. Nothing was good about it. The worse year of my life physically and emotionally, I’ve lost both parents and even those 2 catastrophic events didn’t compare to that year. Why? Full blown menopause? Perimenopause? Whatever it was I was paralyzed to stop it. I did make it through and happy to say on the other side and quite happy with life, ready to retire. You will get through this. I had never met anyone that suffered like I, till you.

    • Catherine
      Author
      22 September 2023 / 12:02 am

      Oh Kelly you poor thing, I’m so sorry you had a truly awful time at 52 – it must surely have been (peri)menopause by the sounds of it? But it’s wonderful to hear you came out the other side, smiling I hope. Thank you so much for your comment and support x

  23. Helen McDermott
    26 August 2023 / 6:09 pm

    Hi Catherine
    I don’t usually respond to anything on social media but I just felt I needed to empathise with you and wow your post resonated with me so much!
    Thank you for your honesty, it’s so hard to put into words but you write so beautifully. I much prefer a long blog post rather than a 30 second reel. I have always enjoyed fashion and beauty but the content I see on Instagram etc is so unrealistic, I was beginning to feel I was the odd one out. I am 61 but in my head still think I’m 29 but with wisdom that comes from life. I too have aging parents – Mum with vascular dementia, Dad with emphysema. It’s such a worry and a strain, dementia is the cruelest of diseases.
    I have had to step back a little as my husband is going through cancer treatment. I recently changed to 3 days a week work from 5. It was hard for a workaholic but I decided I had to look after me now, it’s still hard but I went back to the gym and little by little things are improving. I now realise we have to look after our mental health as much as possible. I try and make the most of every day – even if that day is about resting and recuperating.
    If I could I would hug you! You have a lovely soul and you deserve all the happiness life can give you! I love how you care for Suki!
    Thank you for coming back to the blogosphere, you were missed
    XoxoX

    • Catherine
      Author
      21 September 2023 / 11:59 pm

      Oh Helen what a lovely comment… thank you SO much for those kind words. I’m so glad you love reading “proper” writing and the blog in general!

      Sounds like you’ve had a rough time too, I’m so sorry to hear about your parents and your husband. I wish him all the best and you too as it must be taking a toll on your health as well.

      Sending hugs back atcha (and thank you also for the reassurance about Suki! She’s too important to us for us to put her second to anything!) x

  24. Michelle Springer
    26 August 2023 / 5:25 pm

    I am totally not the same person that I was three years ago, and I can never be that same person again. You know about the main reasons for that- my Mom also suffered from dementia and we lost her at the beginning of the year (and I’m sure that the lockdowns did her no favors as well). I’m also settling into the reality that both of my parents are now gone (I lost my father in 2010), dealing with perimenopause and all that fun, my family has lost 6 members in the past 14 months (one of my older sisters passed away two weeks ago), and I just had a very hard reminder this week that not everyone is supportive of my career (we had a bomb scare at the library I work at).
    That has all hit me like a ton of bricks and I’m struggling with both my mental and physical health right now- I’m still stress eating like there’s no tomorrow and it shows.
    I’m working on finding out who I am now and hoping to be more sympathetic to others as they go their struggles. And, as always, I want to thank you for your fabulous posts and for listening to me when I ramble on a bit too much (like now). I can’t wait to see more of your blog posts!

    • Catherine
      Author
      8 September 2023 / 12:07 am

      Oh Michelle I know only too well how you’ve been through so much – you’ve been very kind on the Gram and I think we’ve certainly helped each other a lot being in similar situations with our parents and having each other as a sounding board…! 🙁

      I totally get the stress-eating thing – I still struggle with that too DESPITE me knowing it’s not doing my health any good. So I hear you! I’m still there for you when you want to send a message about how you’re doing on a personal level… don’t lose touch my lovely.

      And thank you for those kind words regarding the blog – it’s been great to get back into it and it’s most definitely helped my mental health! Much love xx

  25. Heather
    26 August 2023 / 5:12 pm

    While I haven’t hit perimenopause yet, I relate so much to the other struggles you shared. The pandemic years have brought me incredible life stress and profound changes that I never could have predicted. My mental and physical health have also taken a massive hit during these years, and while things are improving, I’m still emerging from it! I’m so glad that you’ve found a new niche that speaks to you and that’s also bringing in new work opportunities! I appreciate your honesty, bravery, and vulnerability!

    • Catherine
      Author
      7 September 2023 / 4:20 pm

      I don’t think many of us came out the other side of the pandemic unscathed, Heather, whether menopausal or not! I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time too, but I hope you have support within your family and friends and are feeling better. Thank you also for your support of my writing and blogging, it’s good to be back at full capacity! x

  26. Michelle O
    26 August 2023 / 4:59 pm

    It’s lovely to see you back and finding your way to joy once again.

    It’s a journey, isn’t it ? Jan 2020 I had just ‘early retired’ / left my job that had been taking a heavy toll on my entire well-being for a long time. One of my goals was to focus on taking care of myself, emotionally, physically, psychologically, the whole enchilada (yum!).

    I found and established a routine [that] works well for me. Almost, in actuality, going back to a schedule akin to being 10, or 12. We retire to bed at the same time every evening and rise at the same time. The crazy years of staying up late, getting up early, go go going on 4 hours sleep etc., really does not do body well! We eat 3 meals a day, exercise every day with walks/hikes as well as cardio and strength training and yoga. I highly recommend yoga, it brought so much calm and stillness to all aspects of my life. I make sure to take time every day to do something that makes me happy, it can be as simple as sitting outside for an extra 20 minutes watching the hummingbirds or hugging one of the kitties for as long as they’ll let me 🙂

    It’s so challenging and bittersweet and gut-wrenching and rewarding and all the emotions caring for ailing, aging parents at the final chapters. I did so for mine when I was in my 30s. FWIW, as time unfolds, when you look back and know that you were able to do your best by them and for them brings comfort and memories that you will hold close.

    Life can and does and will improve. Change is hard but it’s necessary to bring us to the next best version of ourselves.
    Thank you for bringing us along on your journey. xo

    • Catherine
      Author
      7 September 2023 / 4:18 pm

      Oh my goodness Michelle that must have been so (emotionally) hard for you to look after your parents in your 30s… I can imagine they would have been a lot younger than mine are now. Thank you for saying what you did about looking back, that is very comforting 🙂

      And thank you for the kind words – you sound like you’re enjoying life in exactly the same way I want/aspire to for myself and my husband, I shall remember all those things you said you do and keep them in mind as we approach retirement ourselves (though I’d like to be doing them now, never too early to start)! x

  27. Janet
    26 August 2023 / 4:07 pm

    Hi Catherine,
    Welcome back. So looking forward to your future blogs. Your voice comes through in your writing like a bolt of honest humanity out of the craziness and calamities faced by so many these past years. Yes, I like to read about flattering jeans but even more I want to hear a real person’s wisdom, wit and ideas about life in this age. Along for hair color tips! I also love the “artwork/look” of your blog. Thank you for your honesty and my heart goes out to you for the struggles you have endured.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 5:17 pm

      Oh goodness Janet that’s so kind of you to say – thank you so much! Photography has always been my no.1 love but I do enjoy creating these collages too, quite a few people have commented to say they like them.

      I’m really enjoying being back in the regular process of writing and so glad you’re enjoying the blog posts x

  28. 26 August 2023 / 3:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post and your thoughts. It really resonated with me.

    The Reluctant Blogger | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 5:15 pm

      Danielle thank you – that was my main goal writing it… it seems it really has resonated with so many people x

  29. Lise
    26 August 2023 / 2:47 pm

    I never watch videos bloggers post and much prefer the written word. I like the direction your blog is going. I love clothes but how many can one look at! I mostly purchase 2nd hand – it is much more fun searching and finding a unique gem than all wearing the same tat that is available in malls and online. You gonna get through this. I had a blip in July last year when I caught covid for the 3rd time and by it was by far the worst. I gained weight and became depressed. My sinus was badly damaged from this for a year and is still not fully recovered. I also have a ton of aches and pains in my feet and knees. I walk daily and am not sedentary by any means. I am older than you 57 and in full menopause (which came late, only 3 years ago). Unfortunately I think I have an even a more serious health situation now but what can one do, onward and upwards. Looking forward to your regular posts!

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 5:10 pm

      Oh Lise how awful that must have been to catch Covid three times – I only had it once and to be honest I’ve had worse colds so I’m very lucky in that respect!

      Your general health situation sounds very similar to mine… my feet and lower legs hurt ALL the time. Chronic pain is so debilitating, isn’t it 🙁

      But it sounds like your attitude is positive so I hope you get some answers about your ailments like I’m hoping to get soon… you’re right about “What can one do” – the only thing we can do is make the most of our current situation! Thank you so much for commenting, knowing you love the written word is good to know (and I’m very much with you on the “How many clothes can one look at” thing)!! x

  30. Lynn
    26 August 2023 / 2:27 pm

    Thank you for writing this and being so open about your physical & mental health. FWIW, I come here to read the long articles, the humour, and the ideas – no, inspiration – you share. There’s some of oldies who don’t do social media. 🙂 Reels and Shorts seem filled with young, pretty, and thin people on their fashion A game, and… I don’t watch them because it reminds me of my age and looks.

    However, reading about a woman of a similar age who is absolutely rocking vintage and rewear (my new word for clothes new to you 🙂 ), that’s something I can get behind and why I keep coming back to read your wisdom & wit.

    Do I have heels and dresses on the wardrobe? Oh, so much so, but it’s a struggle to find the time – make the time? – to wear them. Maybe it’ll sound vapid, but to feel good in your own body, that’s such a good feeling and mood booster. I don’t feel I need to be perfect, but I’d love to be okay with how I am. Does that make sense?

    “…not the same person they were three years ago?”

    Oh goodness, so much so. Does anyone else feel like it’s been face punch after face punch with the giant boxing glove of cr*p news? I never thought of myself as being anxious, but here I am feeling on the cusp of burnout, and back on the anti crackers tablets. Caring, housework, elderly parents, work, school stuff, and all that before we talk about the world. Briefly on politics, the ‘culture war’ on LGBTQ rights is particularly stressful and unhelpful. It targets one of our children and for those of us old enough to remember Section 28, it’s damaging too.

    Sigh….

    So, to end on a positive: good luck with the new ventures and content creation, Catherine. FWIW, I feel your focus on charity sourced chic is just what we need during the cost of living crisis and to be more eco centric.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 5:00 pm

      Lynn when you said “Maybe it’ll sound vapid, but to feel good in your own body, that’s such a good feeling and mood booster. I don’t feel I need to be perfect, but I’d love to be okay with how I am. Does that make sense?” – yes, yes, YES – it makes absolute sense!! That’s my thoughts exactly; I want to feel comfortable about who I see in the mirror, not it be a horrible shock every time. And that takes time…!

      And ughhhh I’m so sorry that Section 28 had an effect on your family, by that I mean knowing that it existed it still ultimately affected you I’m sure. What a horrific piece of legislation that was. I’m sorry to hear you have so much crapola going on too, but I hope you have the support you need and get some self-care in. Looking after ourselves is so important too, isn’t it?!

      Thank you for the lovely comment and I’m so glad you’re here for the blog posts and not social media above everything else. I really appreciate that xx

  31. Katherine Terry
    26 August 2023 / 2:12 pm

    Hi Catherine, Thank you for your thoughtful message. I can relate to your thought processes. Although I am far beyond my fifties, I feel as if I’m much younger than that, mentally. I, too, have always been the slim one in my family and the 20-30 lbs. that keep finding me is unsettling. I recently lost 30 lbs. and found that some serious back pain I was having, due to scoliosis, was almost completely eliminated…what a wonderful result, and motivation to keep it off. If only not turning to snacks to ameliorate boredom wasn’t so compelling!!

    I’m glad you’re back, and look forward to more posts soon. Also, I never watch the videos that bloggers I follow post. I thought it was just me who had no interest in them!!

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:52 pm

      Wow Katherine congratulations on getting fit, that’s a wonderful achievement! I’m really hoping that shedding more pounds will ease the pressure off my feet and legs and make the exercise easier. I miss being as active as I always used to be 🙁

      And thank you for the kind words, I’m so glad to know you’re looking forward to more posts. I have plenty more in the pipeline… watch this space! x

  32. Maria
    26 August 2023 / 1:46 pm

    Welcome back Catherine. I always looked forward to your regular emails which I followed avidly for many years. You have been missed . Your absence made me suspect that all was not well with you but life seems to be improving and I hope that continues. Your ideas for future posts seem to resonate with current social changes and I can’t wait to read them.
    Sending you love and best wishes.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:42 pm

      Aww Maria that’s so kind of you – thank you. I will admit it’s nice to know I was missed, it proves that it was the right decision to get back into writing again! It’s so encouraging for me going forward xx

  33. Julie
    26 August 2023 / 1:01 pm

    Catherine,

    What was so difficult about the pandemic was the feeling of isolation. Your blog was a reminder that none of are alone. You are not alone. Menopause, taking care of elderly family members, etc takes a toll until you make the decision to hit the reset button. Doesn’t mean that all of the above goes away it just re-frames one’s perspective – but in a positive way. What has been important for me is to reflect on how far I have come in my 50ish years and putting physical and mental health first so I can continue to be there for others and myself. I really appreciated your blog and how you articulated how so many of us have felt and how to move forward.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:38 pm

      You’re 100% right about the isolation aspect of the pandemic, Julie – it was truly awful. It must have been especially difficult for those who lived alone, and I’m very thankful I had Suki and my husband to spend our time with. I still had to care for my parents but thinking back to the “shouty” conversations from outside their window when I had to drop off groceries and meds seems so bizarre and unreal now.

      I’m pleased to hear that you’re putting your physical and mental health first, it’s vital to do that to be able to look after others properly as you said. It certainly was the case for me and it’s taken me a long time to feel like that’s changing, but it’s changing gradually. Thank you for the kind words, I truly appreciate them x

  34. Amy
    26 August 2023 / 12:12 pm

    Catherine, I’ve been a fan of you and your writing since discovering your blog during the pandemic when life kept me from getting out and doing my usual activities. I had years of your blog to catch up on and reading your posts made me happy. I thought there was a possibility that you and I were separated at birth because I could 100% relate to you. And then i realized that we were born a couple of days and thousands of miles apart so that theory went out the window.
    But seriously, your words brought so much light when my wold was dark. Also, I would see your outfit posts and because I was years behind, I’d look for the pieces on second hand marketplace websites. Without even realizing it, you were inspiring second hand shopping in at least one of your loyal readers.
    I can relate and empathize- know you are never alone in your struggles. And thank you for blogging about them so that other women don’t feel alone either.
    You are inspiring, honest and real and those qualities add so much to your natural beauty. Thank you for being you. You are so very valued.
    XO

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:32 pm

      Oh my goodness Amy what lovely, kind words – thank you!! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know that people enjoy reading the blog, and I’m so touched to know that you read so much of it during the pandemic.

      I’m so glad to know that this post has resonated with so many, and it feels good to know that you didn’t feel alone… maybe we weren’t separated at birth but it seems we’re kindred spirits! You’re a star, thank you sooooo much xx

  35. Karen
    26 August 2023 / 12:02 pm

    Wow. I really feel for you. I am glad that your baby steps are returning you to a better place. Good for you for your care of Suki.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:22 pm

      Thank you Karen – and it’s so lovely to know that people are supportive of our decision to put Suki’s needs at the top of our priorities. She brings us so much joy (not least because she loves life with us) and I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardise that! x

  36. Sue Dunlop
    26 August 2023 / 11:46 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sure many can relate. Life can be so hard at different times and I really admire your courage and determination. I’ve always loved your content and am very happy you’re back to blogging!

    I also love your new collages/ montages at the beginning of each post. So creative!

    As a long time reader I’ve notice this subtle shift and think it’s great! I love style and clothes too as well as the other things you’re talking about. Looking forward to Not Dressed as Lamb 2.0!

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:20 pm

      Thank you Sue on all those counts – I’m loving creating those images so I’m glad you (and others, it seems!) like them 🙂

      The past few years have been a bit of a shitshow for nearly everyone, judging by the comments. But I’m so glad to be back into blogging regularly, it has helped me no end…! x

  37. Fiona
    26 August 2023 / 11:15 am

    You have been so honest and I’m sure that many of us will recognise your struggles during the pandemic. I worked throughout the pandemic but felt so lonely and isolated as no one came into our business, it was all done on the phone. Menopausal weight gain resulting in loss of confidence and identity is something I wrestle with not to mention the distress of a bulging wardrobe of clothes that don’t fit. I’m so glad that you’re back, I love reading your blog and no, I don’t want vlogs or movement, just well thought out words. Cuddle your dog and enjoy the sunshine. In winter try a SAD lamp, it works for me.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:16 pm

      Thank you Fiona – so sorry to hear about your loneliness during the pandemic, socially I think it was a huge shock to so many of us. And I hear you on the wardrobe woes!!

      So glad you’re a fan of the blog… that makes me really happy. And thank you for the SAD lamp suggestion – I know they exist but it’s never occurred to me that I may need one! I’ve just put one on my Christmas list, TY x

  38. Deborah
    26 August 2023 / 11:03 am

    I am so relieved to hear it isn’t just me! Everything you write is SO relatable. I am completely menopausal and don’t have a partner but everything else ( including aging parent and dog you stay home for) is me. 20 pounds gained during pandemic. I didn’t want to leave the house or look in a mirror. But things are looking up. I’m retired, started back to yoga and hiking again, and becoming a bit more social. The struggle is real. Your blog is one of three I count on. Thank you. ( I also had painful plantar fasciitis which is now gone. At least I’m guessing that is your foot problem. Special insoles and exercises slowly healed it for me.). Hang in there Katherine.

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 4:05 pm

      Definitely not just you, Deborah – and it seems it’s everyone else too judging by the comments!

      I’m glad to hear it resonated with you, I know it seems like a lot of moaning but I think it’s important to acknowledge that you’re struggling, whether publicly like I’ve done or privately to friends and family or EVEN just to yourself. That’s good to hear you’re back into the yoga and hiking (I love both but haven’t done the former in a long time, I really should get back into it), and although I did wonder about plantar fasciitis it seems my X-rays have shown wear and tear to the big toe joints but nothing else. So maybe it’s arthritis? I tried special insoles for ages but they didn’t help at all… I’ve been referred to the podiatrist next. Fingers crossed I get answers soon.

      Anyway thank you so much for commenting, keep going and stay strong! x

  39. Laura
    26 August 2023 / 11:01 am

    Wow Catherine and a huge mega thankyou for this amazing post !!! You have just basically described my life over the past 3 years and it’s a weird feeling !! I’m a 50 year old freelance teacher, living and working in France. I’ve been battling with perimenopause for the last 3 years (weight gain, and all the weird, totally unexpected health issues which go along with it), have ageing parents one of whom has dementia, suffered from financial instablity (“instability” is putting it mildly), and also a total loss of self-confidence mainly due to all the other various issues.
    Personally, I felt as if I had no future all of a sudden and couldn’t see the way out of the “rut” which I seemed to be in.
    I’m so glad you’re back to blogging ,and that you appear to be getting a grasp on life once again. Congratulations.
    I too, am back to a more “normal and settling” life with less instablity. Daily meditation/relaxation has been a life saver for me (never ever thought I’d say that in my life, as pre-covid I thought that people who meditated were….well … just odd) and getting back into a regular fitness routine has also helped tons.
    I’ve actually learnt loads from the “covid pandemic” experience, and have no doubt come out of it as a stronger and better person. I wish you much luck and happiness in your new adventures and all the best with your parents. Keep smiling

    • Catherine
      Author
      31 August 2023 / 3:57 pm

      Oh gosh Laura, I can’t believe how many parallels there are between our situations… it’s tough, isn’t it? At a time when our hormones are all over the place and we’re dealing with ageing, we get extra responsibilities and circumstances spiralling out of control.

      I’m so glad to hear meditation and exercise have worked for you – exercise helps me MASSIVELY. It’s just extra hard to get into it when my feet and legs hurt so much: I wouldn’t wish chronic pain on anyone. But at least I’m seeking answers and doing what I can to stay active… I think my days of one-hour hardcore cardio workouts might be behind me though!!

      Thank you for the kind words, I really appreciate them. Much love to you and yours my lovely x

  40. Gill 66
    26 August 2023 / 10:29 am

    Hello Catherine, I haven’t posted on your blog before, but I really must say how much I appreciate your writing, and the subjects you deal with. Your post reminds me of the dark places I’ve been to in my life, the battles I’ve fought, often with myself. You are a good person, so please don’t change, and carry on writing your very interesting posts- the longer the better. Best wishes, Gill.

    • Catherine
      Author
      27 August 2023 / 10:55 am

      Gill I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you’ve commented – I really appreciate you taking the time to do so! I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been through tough times, I hope you’ve got the love and support that you need and are taking care good care of yourself now. Thank you so much for your kind words xx

  41. Patricia
    26 August 2023 / 10:11 am

    Thank you, for all of your words, your rawness and honesty. I’ve loved following you as a late 50’s woman from South Australia. I’ve had one of your gorgeous “walking pics” as my screensaver in winter every year to remind me there are blue skies eventually (it does get gloomy in Australia I promise) I’ve missed your walks and pig content! I’ve envied your gorgeous dresses in your summer while I’m cold. You campaign for dressing with joy, and have genuinely made me feel brave and empowered. Keep going beautiful lady, your voice is heard and very needed. Much love as you deal with aging parents.

    • Catherine
      Author
      27 August 2023 / 10:52 am

      Oh my goodness Patricia that fills my heart with joy, thank you so much…!

      I know that dealing with ageing parents is a common thing for people in midlife but it’s often not talked about – I just wasn’t prepared for it (emotionally, mentally or physically). So I’m glad to hear from so many others who are going through the same thing, we need to support each other, don’t we. Thank you for such a lovely comment, and hang on in there as your blue sky days are not far off!! x

  42. Tess
    26 August 2023 / 9:51 am

    Hi.

    I had long suspected your absence was due to these personal issues and hugely respect your honestly here.

    I think that going down the vintage/charity road is a great idea as your body and your finances change. I have been a keen reinventor of my own style via preloved clothing and furniture originally out of necessity and now through preference.

    I was probably the only person I know who spent the pandemic creating a new look every day (because I saw that daily walk and occasional shopping trip as my opportunity to go out!). I also played around with a more adventurous hair colour as my preferred colour became unavailable – remember those four hour waits on the Boots website? But equally I was lucky to have a job that continued in the pandemic, albeit in an altered way.

    Style manifests itself in many ways for stylish people. Bodily changes are so tough to deal with and I have had my fair share. The body positivity movement is all very well but tends not to cater to the shock of change. You needed time to come to terms and adapt and you were right to take it.

    Welcome back.

    • Catherine
      Author
      27 August 2023 / 10:49 am

      Thank you so much for those kind words Tess 😀

      Weirdly I don’t remember the wait on the Boots website – but I DO remember staying up till midnight trying to book Tesco delivery slots at exactly 12am when the next delivery slot would become available – which was still several weeks in advance – only to sit in a holding queue for at least 45 minutes. I did it for my parents every week and I often sat falling asleep at my computer thinking WHAT AM I DOING…?!

      I too love a good secondhand shopping trip – I’ve always loved pre-loved and vintage for my home and always loved vintage dresses, but when I could afford to buy clothes I didn’t really have the need to buy secondhand. But NOW I think I’ll keep it up because like the homewares I love the thrill of a great find…! xx

  43. 26 August 2023 / 9:44 am

    Wow, Catherine, what a post! I love your honesty and rawness, as usual. Thank you for sharing. Although I have been privileged enough not to have suffered through many of the things you talked about, I do empathise and wish you all the very best going forward. I have also stopped blogging on Oct.2020, and completely have cut off social media, and was much better for it overall. I dipped in again as a reader and I hated it! I can’t deal with all the videos everywhere, I hate Tik Tok with a passion and I am actually so happy that people are still wringing good old fashioned long long blog posts. I read every word of this and it did not lose my attention, not did I want to scroll away. A good writer is priceless! So glad you found a way forward and carried on. I love your posts, especially the non-fashion ones, to be honest, so please keep on being true to yourself and writing form the heart. If you build it, they will come! Wishing you all the very best in all aspects of life and I guess I’ll see you on the blog again!

    • Catherine
      Author
      27 August 2023 / 10:41 am

      Gosh Alex that was a brave move to delete all of your platforms… but if you’re pleased you did it then good for you because you KNOW it was the right decision!

      I’m actually a big TikTok fan but that’s because I follow stuff I am heavily invested in, like dogs and animal rescue centres, history and science accounts and some funny animation stuff. My following count is soooooo much smaller than my Instagram as I knew I had to curate it right from the start. And the algorithm feed is so much better than my Insta one! But before I ventured onto it (I was persuaded by my husband) I honestly thought it was all just lip-sync videos by Gen Z girls, eep…!

      Anyway THANK YOU for the lovely compliments, I’m so glad you enjoy the writing aspect of what I do here xx

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