Epic work together!

It has been a pleasure to meet and work with Candace Thomas over the past few months from the organisation Epic.

Logo featured with kind permission from Epic.

It will be great to visit Scotland next term and deliver our sexual consent workshop as part of the newly established ‘Scottish Youth Programme’ which covers a range of topics from good mental and physical health to sexuality. This wrap-around approach is certainly one favoured across the country, but delivering it effectively is quite another matter! I was honoured to be asked to get involved.

It matters to us that the students have high quality take-home goodie bags (using sustainably sourced materials), that will help them think on and reach for relevant organisations in the future should they need them. Empower to Plan will promote and help us generate these funds. Please watch this space for when the fundraiser is launched.

Let’s talk about sex…

Who would have thought that putting boxes to collect questions in all local schools would generate the response we have received in preparation for our film project next term!

We have been overwhelmed with sensible and thought-provoking queries from students aged 13 to 15 years.

This is far and away the most excited I have ever been for a work project. To be working with the brilliant and gifted Dr Naomi Sutton is something I am particularly thrilled about. Learning and educating at the same time is what medicine is all about. ‘Watch one, do one, teach one,’ was the mantra we were raised on at medical school. I’m not quite sure we can fully apply this theorem here without doing ourselves some sort of injury, but we are certainly going to enjoy the challenge!

Bring on September! If you have any other issues you want us to explore around sex and relationships, plant them here. We will share them anonymously and aim to answer your questions as best we can.


Are you a Saint Bernard or a Jellyfish?

Seven hours later I felt somewhat subdued trying to absorb my BEAT Eating Disorders training for healthcare professionals. I was relieved the training was in two parts as I did need some time to reflect on just how inadequately we manage this condition in society and the healthcare system.

Even within my lifetime I know I can safely say that sufferers of eating disorders in the most part, had zero help twenty years ago. And I mean zero. Thankfully, there have been giant progressive steps since then. What we are now realising is that the bigger part of eating disorders has very little to do with food. It is a nuanced spaghetti junction completely unique to the sufferer, who will bear some, but rarely all traits of someone with the same diagnosis standing right next to them. Twas ever thus in all areas of medicine in fact, harping back to the main ethos in medicine of treating the patient, not the condition.

Indeed the features of eating disorders below could easily apply to many patients and many illnesses, or simply the human condition at certain moments in our lives:

  • resistant to change
  • ambivalent about treatment
  • ashamed
  • self-deprecating

However the list above does draw upon one common calling for empathy and understanding. This is easy to request but often so difficult to deliver, especially when the patient is a person we love, when emotion can power our limbs and lips like robots. During my two days of training I was introduced to the concept of
‘skills-based caring’ and the animal metaphors on the back of work done by Treasure, Smith and Crane. I have in fact just ordered their book!

We were encouraged to be the dolphin (collaborative, guiding) or the St Bernard (calm, warm, nurturing), rather than the less effective animal crew below:

  • The Rhino: angry and controlling
  • The Terrier: nagging and critical
  • The Kangaroo: overprotective
  • The Ostrich: avoidant
  • The Jellyfish: over-emotional

Yet again, we are reminded not to provide solutions to problems as our default parenting strategy. I suspect the problem solving prowess of the Rhino is unsurpassed, yet ultimately unhelpful. And those hyper-sensitive tentacles are something very much not to be messed with. Who wouldn’t want that jellyfish on their side?

It is a really uncomfortable thing to get our heads around. But I shan’t begrudge it of interesting. It is extremely interesting, not to mention empowering, evidence based and powerful.

Yet another wonderful bit of training leaving us all with the sense of ‘what is seen cannot be unseen.’

Me and my inner zoo have learnt a little more and it feels good.

‘If we aren’t feeling butterflies, we aren’t alive’

These were the words of a teacher I spoke to this week, and he should have felt relieved that there was a screen between us, as there was a real risk of me lounging forward in request of a jubilatory hug or a high five!

Hugh Grant who talks often about his severe stage fright.

We all remember that looming deadline being the only thing that got that essay in on time, or that burst of adrenaline on opening night, producing our best performances ever. Time and again we hear from famous actors and singers that they are quite simply paralysed with fear before they go on, but how this doesn’t stop them performing in the most part. Riding those waves of anxiety and realising how closely the physical symptoms of excitement relate to these sensations, is a really powerful thing to understand. In our workshops we talk about ‘rebranding’ those physical feelings of churning tummies, sweating palms, racing hearts, and allowing ourselves to see these as signs of excitement. It isn’t just things that fear us that create these emotions, but also things we really really want, but are frightened to strive for, out of fear of failure.

As long as we aren’t standing on the edge of a cliff or contemplating swallowing dangerous substances, we do need to encourage each other and our children to embrace being scared, and ‘do it anyway!’ The theory behind this, is that when we have tackled something once that we were initially dreading, we are able to do it again with much less fear and maybe even enjoy it.

Anxiety is our super power. It sends tingles to the outermost areas of our bodies, widens our eyes to see things more vividly, generates shivers in our skin and pounding in our hearts. It shows us we are alive and about to do something that really matters to us.


If we are just a bit giddy, a bit doubty and can’t stop ourselves feeling scared, well…. we are just going to have to do it scared. This is what we should be teaching our children, not giving them options to dodge, choose something else or seek counselling when all they need is a cuddle, a kind ear and a supportive little nudge to finish what they’ve started. Who cares if it goes wrong? Making these errors when we’re young is an educational gift that should not be feared or wasted. Check out the Nike ‘play new’ campaign above to embrace all those sports flops! Come on in epic fails, we need you, we want you. You are how we learn.


(Extreme anxiety that is causing persistent sleepless nights, rebound depression, the inability to work, go to school or leave the house, or the need to control those extreme emotions by self medicating with drugs, alcohol or gambling is something very different. See your GP or contact any of the organisations/websites referenced here if you feel this might be how you’re feeling right now).

‘We are not robots’

I find myself saying this rather a lot in our workshops when children ask us ‘what if I forget?’ Or, ‘what if I make a mistake or say the wrong thing?’

Us human beings are rather messy sometimes in our reactions to situations. We are of course immaculate when these situations are viewed in retrospect. No matter how much we practice or formulate or prepare, sometimes things just don’t go how we’d hoped. Online teaching and instagram live have never taught me that lesson more effectively than they did last week. Neither are for the faint hearted! That tiny window of interaction created by our webcams of various specs, only partially re-creates human interaction, which science has shown is almost 70% non-verbal. All the cyber head nodding in the world cannot recompense the absence of all those nuanced full body in real room interactions, that we have taken for granted up until now.

Kids are quite relaxed in looking unutterably bored on line. Us adults are a tad more self-conscious and my ‘zoom face’ is now so unrecognisable from a face I would use in real life, that I sometimes shock myself. I lie, I always shock myself. It is not a situation I would choose, especially after an extended period away from the hairdresser or beautician. But heh, we are where we are and I’m rather impressed at how we’ve all unleashed our inner robot, and can anticipate the slightest twitch in our wifi routers when they are just building up to crashing out. And for the first time, I think I understand the pop-ups on my computer. (Yes, it’s true, I now understand about 30% of the pop-ups!!!).

I do feel enriched with a new skill. But mainly I feel enlightened with even more love and respect for the actual teachers and pupils, who have tirelessly surfed this universe for the past term without so much as a mild strop (not one we’ve witnessed anyway). RESPECT!

Performing six online workshops last week has been a ball and our feedback has not been half bad either:

‘I’ve learnt to respect and listen to what people say and if they don’t want to do something, don’t force them to do it’ (I did a little dance when I saw this one…)

‘I learnt things I thought I already knew about’

‘I thought it was really interesting and very fun!’

Our first insta-live ‘talking with experts’ session last Thursday night was pretty fab too. Thank you so much Dr Georgina Fraser, @gynaechatter. We have got this period stuff nailed and will no longer be going for the naked look with the bikini waxing! (Not good at all for vulvo-vaginal health and hygiene).

Any questions please do not hesitate to ask us on instagram @youbeforetwo or Georgina herself @gynaechatter.

Let’s all try to stay human in this new inescapably techno-world. Nothing quite beats a chat in person, but on we go. Must. Keep. Going.



Please watch this film by Maxine Trump now available to purchase.

It was a privilege to be asked to be part of the launch of this magnificent film in the UK this week. Rubbing screens with Leilani Munter and Nina Steele is not something I will forget in a hurry. Not to mention the extraordinarily brave (although she won’t let you call her that) and innovative Maxine herself.

I’m taking this film and the short films inspired by it, to schools from next week. I am so excited to hear what others think when they watch it.

And to what I think? Please watch the Q&A session  that remains available on Facebook from the
launch night on Tuesday. Or just read here, that I loved it. Every little piece of it. Women never cease to amaze me and this film reminded me of why. If I ever judged a woman for not having a child, I certainly never will again. In a world where 1 million people are being added to the global population every 4 days and between 1/2 and 2/3 of children born across the planet are unwanted and unplanned, how could we ever lay down judgement?  Women that either by no fault of their own (the ‘child-less’), or by a deliberate act of consideration to themselves and the world around them, choose to remain ‘child-free,’ I feel, should be admired and supported. Why would we ever judge them? It is both absurd and cruel. And the biggest misconception we could ever apply to the woman without a child is that it was an easy decision or journey to get there. As the film illustrates, it is a journey full of inner and outer tumult and conflict. And to those women that made the decision overnight and have never looked back I salute you with equal vigour!

Blessed are the children that live around the child-free woman. This was another wonderful message that I took away from the film. Maxine’s beloved nieces and nephew clearly feel in awe of her dogged determination to listen to her heart, no matter how painful. What an inspiration and support that must be to those children as they start out on their life journeys.

Good on them. All of them. Moved beyond measure. WATCH THIS FILM.