Sunday swing

A few things on the internet that have caught my eye this week if you’re in the mood for a little visit:

Peruse In 2016, the skincare brand SK-II came out with a viral campaign called #changedestiny. The above video and this one about the marriage market hit all the right notes (and pulled all of the heart strings). Brilliantly, smart vulnerable marketing.

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Watch Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. The Netflix show that had me smitten. The Washington Post wrote ‘‘Nosrat takes her viewers to a different country that exemplifies each component in the show’s title — and it doesn’t look anything like those shows, which are usually full of brash men eating organ meats and throwing back beers. Instead, it looks like Nosrat’s life, beautiful in its imperfections.’’ Needless to say, I just bought the cookbook to boot.

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Inspire Have you heard of Lingua Franca? Embroidered cashmere sweaters (yes, the price tag comes with it) but with every customized resistance sweater sold, they donate $100 to an organization your choice. This is just one way fashion is becoming part of the resistance.

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Read Emilie Halpern is not afraid of change. After a traumatic year of loss, this luminous LA-based artist has survived and thrived.” This home, her words in this interview and her art are achingly beautiful.

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For the week ahead A little reminder of truths. (Thank you Nathalie for posting this introduction and even more comforting reads for a new mama)

Wishing you the loveliest bank holiday weekend xo

The one about children | Six

I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.  This week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few of those stories with you here : 


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Ciara:  As I sit here and write this I’m listening to the “ba boom” of a tiny heart beat on a CTG machine and feeling awe and gratitude at yet again being able to grow a tiny human inside me and knowing we’ll soon have another soul to welcome into our home.

My husband and I always knew we wanted children but we were happy to drift along for five years of marriage, establishing careers and travelling before we decided starting a family might be something we would be ready for. Rather surprisingly (as we’d heard so many stories of how long we should expect to wait) we were lucky enough of to conceive straight away and dove head first into embracing the pregnancy and changes in the months to come. 

I am one of those lucky women that has genuinely loved every minute of being pregnant. I was spared any nausea or uncomfortable side effects for both pregnancies and genuinely felt at my most attractive, feminine and powerful while watching the changes my body went through to adapt and grow new life. 

Because the pregnancy had been so easy first time around and I was so focused on getting to the birth and how I would manage the delivery, that I hadn’t really thought too much about the post-partum period and how we would figure out the transition of becoming parents and the impact that would have on us as a couple. We’d been together for ten years at that point and assumed we would naturally adjust to the new stage. 

We welcomed little Ailbhe in October 2015 and both fell head over heels In love with her, but I’d be lying if I said our relationship didn’t go through a transition in the process. We had navigated every milestone of our marriage and pregnancy together as equals up until that moment, that I never anticipated that finding who we were as parents would be any different. 

Rian fell into wonderful Dad role effortlessly, doing all he could to support us and I couldn’t have asked for any more from him. However thanks to biology our roles were suddenly acutely different. I was the one breastfeeding at all hours and navigating the hormonal changes and sleep deprivation. Rian was trying to juggle lack of sleep and supporting me, while also returning to work and continuing his job as if nothing had changed. Ailbhe and I were at home in our little bubble and suddenly the worlds we were in felt very different.

Add in tongue tie, mastitis, our decision to move to a different city and new job for Rian all within a couple of months of her birth and we woke up one day and realised we had been pouring all our energy into being the best parents that we could be, that we had no energy left over to be the best partners for each other. All of the support systems in place focus on nurturing the mother but there are very little in place for fathers to share their experience of adjusting to parenthood and how that can be such a massive transition also. While maternity leave is better in Ireland than so many other places in the world, when I hear of countries where both partners can take multiple months off to really dedicate time to nurture the new family, you can’t help but have a more positive space for the mum, dad and baby. 

We got our groove back and were able to dedicate the time needed to get our relationship back to the familiar intimacy we had before becoming parents and feel our marriage is now better than ever. However I think it has highlighted to me the need to really nurture everyone in the family unit and also for couples to know that change can be hard and it’s normal for the adjustments to feel like growing pains for everyone. 

The old adage of happy mum, happy baby is one I feel strongly about but I now realise happy family, happy baby is also equally true. You do you and make the decisions that feel right for your family whatever that may look like. With that in mind for second time round we plan on fully embracing the cocoon of the new born stage, lots of pj days and chances for the four of us to bond and adjust, with less focus on trying to bounce back into the world and feeling the pressure of all things you hear you “should be doing”. Whatever way it goes, we are so excited to have a delicious new born bundle to enjoy again hopefully very soon!


...Thank you to the always unbelievably sweet and open Ciara for sharing your words here. 

ps.  This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo

The one about children | Five

I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.  This week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few of those stories with you here : 


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Emily:  My husband and I like to say we took a flying leap of faith 4,000 miles away in order to start our family.  We knew, somewhere deep down that it would work but to this day I'm a little shocked that it did.  Five weeks after moving to Houston from Dublin, we got a call from our adoption agency to say that there was a baby girl they were certain belonged in our family. We were, and are still stunned that God chose her for us and managed to get us to drop our jobs and lives to move so far away so we could be ready for her! She is and will always be all of our Christmases wrapped up into one little bundle. 

We didn't have a straight or simple or short route to build our family. Instead, when I think back on the last two years and adopting our two children, it was a rollercoaster and we just refused to get off. 

There were, thankfully, extremely high highs, like walking into two NICUs to meet our itty bitty babies for the first time, feeding their first bottles and packing them up into their car seats to drive home as a family of three and then a family of four for the first time. First giggles and first steps and even middle of the night feeds and walking aimlessly around the neighborhood to get them to sleep, we were and are endlessly grateful that we get to be their parents, that we get to be a family. 

But there were also extreme lows. Between adopting our daughter, Maya, in October 2015 and adopting our son, Noah, in August 2017, we survived four failed adoptions. 

And while Maya's arrival made me a mama, Noah's arrival taught me so much about faith, strength, perseverance and sheer grit. 

I barely let myself think our crazy plan moving across countries would work before we got news of Maya that October morning. I hoped our plan would work  (and I sure prayed it would) but I couldn't say for sure that it was going to work. There were obviously no guarantees. But it did work. We got news of Maya at 10am one morning and she was in our arms at 6pm that night and forever after. She is a dream. 

But quickly after having Maya, we started to realize we weren't done yet. I knew our son was there waiting for us, I knew Maya was supposed to be an older, bossy sister. I knew we couldn't return home to Ireland until we found him. I simply wouldn't get off the rollercoaster until he was in my arms. God answered one enormous prayer for us already, it almost felt like too much to ask for another.

We fostered for a year between adopting Maya and Noah, which was an incredible honor. We thought one of those foster babies would join our family but she ended up returning to a family member after a few months. We even fostered a seven month old baby we were initially hoping to adopt at birth, and spent several weeks trying to help reverse the damage those months of neglect had done. Two birth moms chose us and then chose to parent their children. We mourned each as a loss but we rejoiced in babies and biological families staying together. And we took solace in having provided another option for women as they were making an incomprehensibly hard decision. 

We eventually made the decision to stay a third year in Houston to change adoption agencies. After two more months of licensing and classes and paperwork, we were listed as a waiting family with our new agency in May 2017, and in late July 2017, we got the call that our son was coming just a few weeks later. I held my breath until he was in my arms. He is exactly who we were waiting for and clawing our way toward all that time. 

Between our adoptions, when it seemed that every door was being closed, a few other mothers suggested that perhaps we weren't supposed to parent more children. Perhaps Maya was supposed to be our only child. But I knew in my gut that that simply wasn't true. I knew I just had to stay on the rollercoaster a little longer. 

And so if there's a single piece of advice I can give to women who are waiting to be mothers, but who know in their hearts that they want to be, please don't let anyone convince you to get off the rollercoaster until you are ready. And please don't let anyone convince you those desires or wants or wishes to be a mom, or to be a mom to more children, aren't valid or worthy of pursuing with every ounce of grit you can muster. I'm not saying every desire is met or every wish is granted; moving 4,000 miles away and starting life over wasn't our first choice. But it's okay to know what you want in your gut and to work as hard as you can to make it happen. I had to learn that it's not greedy to want to have or adopt another child, but you can bet it has filled me with an unending well of gratefulness at being able to mother my two children. 

We returned home to Dublin a few weeks ago after three years in Houston and two adoptions. We are so excited to start the next phase of our journey now as a family, and to figure out which rollercoaster we might hop on next. 


...Thank you fearless, brave Emily for allowing me to share your words here x

ps.  This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo

The one about having children | Four

I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.  This week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few of those stories with you here : 


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Claire :  I presumed.  My approach to life is, I think , a vague, optimistic, hazy assumption that all will be well.  Those who know me know that I am not a planner.  And as such, I presumed.

My early thirties were only vaguely niggled by the thought of children – if I meet someone now, and date them for a year or two, then I will be x age when I have children.  Again, the presumption that it would happen. 

I dated- interesting and wildly unsuitable,  loved but not the right time and he who I wished would love me.  And so, I am 40 and without children.

And I feel... fine…terrified….optimistic….resigned.  Maybe I am in some kind of wild denial – that my ovaries are forever flourishing, rather than in their current antiquated state, that I will meet someone with whom I would like to start a family, that, indeed, I would be any kind of decent mother, that I would be okay without children, or indeed with. 

The sight of a newborn always evokes complex emotions in me: envy, desire, hurt, happiness, a feeling of "not fair”.  Yes, I would love a child, but for me, it has to be right – right for me and the child.   I have a job I love and that I feel is very important to me.  I work long and irregular hours.  I do not have a partner.  I would rather my child have 2 parents.  These are important, although not immutable facts to me.  And as such, at present, I feel it is not the ‘right time’ for me to have a child. 

I have a very lovely life. And I envisage that continuing.  Having a child would be wonderful- but it may not happen for me and therefore I will not allow, and cannot allow, that to dictate my life.  There are so many wonderful, wonderful things in life and in my life in particular, that to become fixated on one aspect is to disrespect others and the opportunities inherent therein. And so I will continue with my hazy optimism and enjoyment of what I do have. 

How do other people feel about it? A degree of pity maybe, a curiosity – a wondering of why? A reluctance to ask. Am I an anomaly? Maybe, but I rather think not. 


...Thank you wise, witty, wonderful Claire for allowing me to share your words here.  

ps.  This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo

The one about having children | Three

I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.  This week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few of those stories with you here : 


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Nathalie: Like so many women my age (I’m 35), I feel like the world at large’s attitude towards my reproductive organs flipped on a knife edge – one day being told how careful I needed to be to not get pregnant and basically ruin my life and career prospects and the next being sternly warned “not to leave it too late”. Leaving it “too late” is a topic that dominated so many late night, wine-fuelled chats with friends. We all worried about whether we were ready, and whether we were being careless or arrogant to wait until we felt ready lest our ovaries crumble to dust like an ancient Egyptian artefact.

I also had some older friends with children who had struggled on their journey to parenthood who simply, gently and with my very best interests at heart said, “If you know you do definitely want kids, why wait?” And that did resonate. 

So it was with that worrisome mindset that I approached getting pregnant. We steeled ourselves for it taking a year, maybe more. I had been on contraception (the contraceptive implant– I know it freaks a lot of people out, but I found it great!) for years, so knew I had to work to get to know my body and my rhythms. Nerd that I am, I loved using apps like Clue and Natural Cycles and found them genuinely brilliant; they left me feeling informed and empowered and I guess gave me some sense of control over what is a mainly uncontrollable situation. 

We started “trying” (8-year-old me always LOLs at that expression) autumn 2018 and I was pregnant by December. Definitely sooner than we expected – we had just moved country and were still in temporary digs, living out of a suitcase, but no less over the moon for it. 

I definitely spent the first trimester, and probably a good chunk of the second, worrying, not quite believing this was really happening (I may or may not have taken at least 4-5 pregnancy tests in my first month). 

What I’ve been most amazed at, so far, is how wonderfully and constantly my body has proven my brain wrong. I was so desperately worried about getting pregnant, but my body knew what to do. I was so stressed about the many complications that could arise (especially as someone with a high BMI who does not fit the traditional doctor definition of “healthy”), but my body handled everything with grace, steadfastly growing a human with no interference from me whatsoever. 

This pregnancy has given me such a newfound respect and admiration for my body and what it is capable of. Sure, there was the usual nausea, achy hips, and fatigue, but I know I’ve had it easier than lots and am very grateful for that. 

As I near the end of it (I’m 37 weeks pregnant now), I know I’ll miss this lovely bump and I’m trying to relish these last few weeks – watching the baby move like a mermaid in my belly, seeing their little limbs prod out here and there. 

If I’ve learned anything during this pregnancy is to trust your body, which is so much easier said than done and definitely something I’m still working on – especially as I prepare for labour!


Nathalie and Ben welcomed a gorgeous baby boy named Ari into the world on August 5th (he is already so loved!)....Thank you to the always inspiring Nathalie for allowing me to share your words here. 

ps.  This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo

The one about having children | Two

I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.  This week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few of those stories with you here : 


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Clio : Last night my toddler woke up around 10.30 pm. He banged on his door and I groaned as I hauled myself off the couch and got into bed beside him to try and coax him back to sleep. He sat up, and told me in a loud and clear and very awake sounding voice about the planes he saw on the beach that day. He’d been to the Bray Airshow and was recounting it all – in one word sentences albeit – to me for a second time. It clearly made an impact. He lay back down and thankfully a few minutes later was back to sleep. It was one of those moments where I felt the true weight and love and wonder at my role as this boy’s mother. He had a big day (those planes were loud and he got a fright) and he needed to talk about it a little more before falling back asleep. 

My boyfriend and I were 23 when we found ourselves expecting a baby. The timing was less than ideal. We weren’t well established in our careers. We were barely out of college. We were just finishing up a year in the Bay Area and didn’t have anywhere to live back home. We had feck-all savings at the time and no friends with children of their own. So yes, we were young. But we were not naive. I transitioned pretty naturally from babysitter to mama myself. We had no set routine or years of ‘independent living’ to be destroyed by a howling newborn. We just buckled down.

Having babies is the one thing I have always known I would do. I feel very lucky to have found such a wonderful teammate and partner in crime as young as I have. It’s not easy but we generally have each others backs and just get down to it. The whole ohmygodwerehavingababyholyshit situation was no different. 

Tadhg was born in April of 2016. We were 24 and together 7 years. The first two weeks were some of the hardest of my entire life. It was emotionally and physically draining. The baby was amazing, he was perfect and beautiful and gained weight like no tomorrow. But breastfeeding was hard and recovering from birth much more difficult than I anticipated. They say that you forget all the trauma and the pain in the sweet scented newborn fog but I 100% call bullshit on this. I can remember it all. I can still recall the visceral, toe-curling, stitches clenching, moments. Those moments are real and true and unforgettable but they are vastly overshadowed by the good stuff; the laughter, milky grins and midnight cuddles, the milestones, first words, and the rediscovery of the whole world through our child’s eyes. I haven’t forgotten any of the pain but I will attest that it was 100% worth it and I would do it again and again and again for him. I likely will. Parenting is a heady mix of painful heartache and joyful heartache. I regularly feel the weight of responsibility not only for providing for this kiddo, but for nourishing his spirit and helping him walk through life with a sense of purpose and dignity and fairness and very well-checked privilege. 

I still find it weird when I am referred to as ‘mummy’. I definitely identify as Tadhg’s parent, I love when he calls me ‘mama’, but I am so much more than that. In the two years since he was born I have grown in immeasurable ways in my work, life and relationship. I am so proud of the family we have built and the ways in which we are figuring things out and making our own way. There is so much crap out there geared at women and mothers and I wish more was made of parenting and parenthood. If my boyfriend had been in a position to take six months off work after me to care for our son it would have a profound effect on our relationship and family as a whole. It’s something I hope we will be able to do in the future. 

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong time to be a parent. I genuinely believe that we are the best parents for our kid. There is no right way to do anything – despite what every single article on the internet will tell you– if you and your baby are happy and healthy and safe then that is all that matters. If your baby sleeps in your bed attached to your boob all night go you, if she sleeps in her cot from 7–7 wahey, and if he bangs on the door to talk planes at 10.45pm, listen and cross your fingers he’ll soon fall back to sleep. 


...Thank you to the bright talent that is Clio for allowing me to share your words here x. 

ps.  This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo

The one about having children | one

When I was younger, it wasn't a big beautiful wedding that I dreamed of- it was the thought of being a mother that had me in happy reverie.  Yet perhaps unexpectedly,  establishing a career I'm truly happy in has taken precedence.  And as terribly broody as I am surrounded by little ones of every dimension at work - I know it's not the right time for me.  Not for forever, just for right now.  

My brother and a few friends have not so subtly hinted that I should consider freezing my eggs. (They're fun people really).

So... I've wanted to do this sort of post for a little while for so many reasons.  Not to be divisive, or cause comment/complaint but to share a voice that echoes true, a voice that gives courage to share if needs be, a voice that hopefully finds some way to comfort. Because when it comes to the topic of having children, there is a lot of advice out there about 'what should be', 'what needs to be' and often forgotten in the process is the story of 'what actually is'.  

Which is happiness, contentment and joy of exponential nature -but also for so many others- sadness, frustration, confusion and hurt of exponential nature.  There is also a story, a voice where having a child is intensely personal and may not be right or may not happen for a plethora of reasons. 

Please note dear reader: there is an immense amount of grace and triumph in all of these stories.  

I would be lying to you if I said that I wasn't worried about leaving trying for children to my mid-thirties or later (I am nervous) but I take great comfort in knowing that I have women around me who are so generously open, honest and forthcoming about their own journeys.  And this week, I am so incredibly honoured to be sharing a few here with you here : 


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Shaili: Here’s what I thought I wanted in my early twenties: Spontaneity. Unpredictability. A healthy dose of chaos. This is what I’ve accepted about myself in my thirties: A growing desire for order. Total predictability. Zero surprises.

When I signed up for the decade-long journey of becoming a physician, I shifted into neutral and followed the predictable track of undergrad, medical school, residency, job. I knew exactly what I’d be doing two, five, seven years into the future. 

When my husband and I decided it was time to start a family, my approach was no different: We would start trying at Point A so that I would be pregnant by Point B, have the baby at Point C, be on maternity leave until Point D, just in time to start a new job at Point E —all perfectly timed to match my husband’s career timeline.  

And shockingly, with the aid of an ovulation kit (by now the presence of an ovulation kit in my story should come as no surprise), I was pregnant by Point B, just as planned. I felt relieved, knowing that getting to that point is tumultuous for so many. With a quiet excitement, I envisioned myself as a mother, and my husband as a father, and Saturday mornings in our kitchen with our little person, making pancakes and drinking coffee and singing whatever kid-friendly songs would become the new soundtrack of our lives. 

We didn’t make it to Point C.  At 13 weeks pregnant, on the day we planned to share our news with friends and family, we sat in a dark room with an ultrasound tech and watched the flickering heart of a very abnormal fetus. Our hearts sank as the test continued and our OB informed us that the baby’s birth defects were too severe and incompatible with life. 

Three days later, I was no longer pregnant. I felt naive for not having considered this as a possibility, for foolishly believing I had so much control over my life, let alone another. I was shocked by the devastation of losing something that never really was, and by how overwhelming that devastation could be. And I felt guilty, realizing that until then, I hadn’t understood or sympathized wholeheartedly with women who struggle with infertility, miscarriage, or the decision to terminate a pregnancy. 

My story ends (or rather, begins) on a happy note. I don’t take that for granted. I took some very necessary time off from work. I cried a lot. I stayed in bed for hours on end. I went home to Michigan and let my parents nurture me with Indian soul food and wine. I relied so heavily on my husband, who - well - just thank goodness for him. I shared my story with my friends and sisters and anyone who would listen because I knew that if I didn’t, I would explode. And maybe in doing so, in releasing the pain to the world so that I didn’t have to weather it alone, I made space for a new life inside me. 

That new life is Jonah. He is seven months old now and when he looks up at me with his big brown eyes and gummy smile, I am alive. I don’t believe that our loss happened for a reason and I would be lying if I said that I don’t think about my first pregnancy every day, even if just for a split second. But it makes me so grateful for our sweet boy, and hopeful for the women who wait their turn.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a village to even get to that point, or to have to acknowledge that it just might not ever happen. The women in my life are either mothers, choosing not to be mothers, struggling to become mothers, or accepting the fact that they may not be mothers, at least in the capacity they once imagined. And the only way we’re all getting by —the only way we’re finding order in the chaos —is with the help of each other. We don’t have to go at it alone. Mothers need each other. Women need each other.


...Thank you beautiful, brave Shaili for allowing me to share your words here x.

ps.  This series is for you mama-to-be, mama-in-wait, not even thinking about it or independent woman- wherever you may be on your journey, whatever it is that you are facing, you are not alone. Sending you an enormous amount of love xo

''If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose. The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic. Everyone has a say.

Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.''

Beyoncé 

The Series Binge

Ahh, the binge.  The ultimate in everything and nothing to wile away the hours when you need it most.  For the after hours, need a break, and 'just because' days.  

Here are a few of my favourites lately:

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1.  The Good Fight on Amazon Prime

The series in which Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) takes the lead.  Whip-smart writing, brilliant casting and a mirror to the current trends and politics- if you loved the Good Wife, you'll love this series turn of events.  The kind of show where each episode gets better and better.  And now, I absolutely cannot wait for season three.  That good. 

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2.  Grace and Frankie on Netflix

I'm not sure why it took me so long to indulge in this series by Marta Kauffman (think co-creator of Friends) and Howard J. Morris but my old flatmate sure did know a good thing.  (While she was watching this, I was cooped up in the midst of Stranger Things) Two completely different personalities, a shift in married relationships and all the hilarity that follows.  This is Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin at their absolute best.  Aging never looked or felt more fun and authentic than it does in this show. 

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3.  Queer Eye on Netflix

Easily one that comes to mind any time anyone ever mentions looking for something to watch- beautiful men, an undeniable chemistry and talent for what they do best and a genuine sweetness for wanting the best of their makeovers.  Two seasons, the number one reason the word 'yaaasss' has been introduced into my vocabulary and the show that I hope that you dear reader, get to watch at least one episode of this week.

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4.  The Staircase and Happy Valley on Netflix

One is a documentary, the other is a crime drama but both are intensely gritty, visceral and highly addictive.  The type of genre that questions the very core of our personalities, shares its 'chilling lessons' and still somehow in the midst of it all peaks our curiosity for more.  

 

P.S. Curious what you've been bookmarking lately dear friends! What's been catching your eye of late? :)