Sunday 5 July 2020

A Legacy of Words - Grief, Writing... And a Massive Thank You.

Hello everyone,

So... Shoes and Glitter is now an award winning blog. How about that? Just last week, this blog won the Helen Bailey award, named in honour of the late author, WAY member, and writer of the blog 'Planet Grief'. There are no words that will describe just how much it means to me - for Kinga's legacy, and to be recognised on a personal level by a charity of my peers that I consider family. It is still bittersweet that Kinga did not live to see it - and that it has only come about because she both lived, loved, and died.

I've had some somewhat puzzled reactions from people initially, when I  call the award 'ours' - I think because it is my writing that technically won. I must reiterate though - it is our award - perhaps even moreso Kinga's than my own. This blog is - and always will be hers - she built it, and poured her heart and soul into managing and maintaining it. She doesn't inspire my writing - she is my writing - quite literally, she is at the heart of all of my words in this place - and in the vast majority of my words and actions outside of it too. In essence - she did the hard part - I just try and give her life a voice, now that she is so forcibly muted. I wish so much that I wasn't the guest writer here - that she could still use this outlet as hers - that her voice wasn't diluted with my own interpretations of her and our life together.

Writing is a bridge between lives, that can survive time itself. It is a gateway to the past, where we all will eventually be consigned to. Writing is in so many ways, a way to be heard, long after you are no longer here. Today, I want to spend a little time revisiting the words that she wrote here - looking just a little at some of the legacy she created.

Kinga made this blog three years prior to her death. She built it to a point where it still, to this day, receives 5000-7000 page views per month - my own posting only accounts for around a quarter to a third of that, on average. This blog is still alive, and for it's intended purpose - over 18 months after she has passed (really makes you wonder what she could have done with another 50 years, right?}. When I first began writing here - I only did so so that her following would know she had passed. I then decided that I really didn't want to let this place die - but it took a long time for my thoughts to become coherent enough to have any real weight. Once I actually realised that this place had never died... I felt bad for underestimating her. People still look to her for advice on beauty and lifestyle stuff - even though she is gone.

Anyway, as her posts slowly get buried by my own, and as this blog gets mistakenly called more and more often 'mine' (which it will never be), let's get into a few of her posts. I did this once before - but there are so many to talk about! Even though the subject matter may not appeal to everyone - it is her personality that shines through in everything she writes. It is also a chance to show off her epic photography skills - Kinga had a rule whereby she would only ever post images here that she had taken herself - I've thus far managed to stick to that rule myself as well.

Boyfriend Makeup Knowledge Tag

Starting off with one that personally makes me laugh - because it is perhaps the only post I was ever directly involved in! She wrote it pretty much as it happened, too... I think I did alright on the test actually (and the comments seem to agree)! To preface, I did actually read (and, when she was less confident starting out, proof read) every single one of her posts - but never wanted to be directly involved. Can't recall how she talked me into this!

She wanted me to try and do her makeup once for a post. She never successfully got me to agree to that one - it would have been an absolute disaster!

Any of her perfume posts

Perfumery was Kinga's passion - as anyone who regularly read her blog would know. She owned, at the time of her death, 170 perfumes - and that was after she sold a few, too (they are currently with her parents, who have them displayed in a glass cabinet. It is quite a sight to see). The way she talked about them - she was just so full of knowledge, and passion. She was pretty much an expert on the topic. I still spray her headstone with the couple I kept sometimes.

She had just started to put together plans to write a book on perfumery when she was killed - she didn't think anyone had done a good one. I have no doubt it would've been awesome.

Unpopular Beauty Opinions

Bringing up a random one here - Kinga was just never afraid to stand on her own. She had a fire to her, that few had any reason to see - but was ever present under the surface. I think it took her a while to use this space to speak out - but she was really starting to. I think a better example of this that I've highlighted before is her 'Forced Positivity In Blogging & Why It's Okay To Be Sad' post. Like her, I really hate platitudes - I say things as they are - whether they are positive or negative.

A little controversy never hurt, right?


This makes me smile. She was super, super excited to finally get a pet - words seriously cannot express just how happy she was (she literally cried when we got him). Kinga named him Cinnamon Roll (I call him Cinnamiko, which kinda stuck as a nickname), and picked out all of his things, designed his habitat, etc. I kept telling her not to get attached too much - as he wouldn't live all that long... Then he outlived her.

He's still going - he's a little over two now. He's been quite sick lately unfortunately... Now I'm the one who is fully attached, and isn't ready to see him go. Life is strange indeed.

100 Beauty Blog Ideas

I don't have any particular attachment to this post - but it is probably the best example of how this page is her legacy. This post is consistently the most regularly viewed post on this page. It is not the most viewed - that goes to a lipstick review, that Kinga never fully understood why it blew up, and that she was actually really not happy with! At it's current pace though, it will likely become the most viewed post here.

100 beauty blog post ideas. How many people who have viewed it have been inspired by these ideas? How many words have, even slightly, been influenced by this? Continue to be influenced by this? I truly have no idea, but people keep on coming back to it. Now that? That makes me smile. The ripples just keep flowing on.

How to be a Successful blogger when You're Socially Anxious?

I highlight this post, more as a 'what could have been'. Kinga was becoming more and more open to talking about her mental health - especially around her anxiety (which I don't think many had any clue was as crippling as it was). She presented as much more confident than she gives herself credit for in this post - especially as she grew older - and really didn't let many people in on what was going on in her head. As her partner of nine and half years - I do know, but also don't feel it my place to tell that story - but I can highlight the few pieces where she expressed that side of herself..

One of her many unpublished posts was about her struggles with anxiety and mental health. It is too unfinished to publish - but she really could have and would have - used this platform to help some people. It reaffirms my belief that she would be happy with what I am writing here now.

I've been meaning to revisit her posts here for quite some time - it feels good to have finally done so again. She built her legacy in the short amount of time she had here - and I am glad to be able to continually add to it. In the spirit of that evolution - I recently recorded a video for men's health week - something the pre grief me would have massively shied away from. I figure that now, more than ever, it is important to speak out - to take every opportunity I can to give her pointless death just that much more meaning. Every time that I do... It adds to her legacy. You can find that video here (apologies, as it is a Facebook link).

Also, my words have been published in print - for the first time ever. She always thought I should write more - and always encouraged it. It's pretty amazing to actually see it happen. This is a modified version of the Year in Grief post I wrote around the year mark. Everything I wrote there is still true - and in my lower moments - when I lose sight of these things - I go back to this one. I never normally re read my own words. Funny that eh?

I want to end this (slightly longer) post today with a pretty massive thank you to WAY, to everyone who voted on the award, and everyone who reads and contributes to Kinga's legacy.  The Helen Bailey award really isn't a competition to me. To me, it is a celebration of grief writing - something I feel is so important to do, if we want the people unaffected by grief to understand our experiences. Nobody wants to be eligible to join WAY - but it is where we find ourselves, nonetheless. In the spirit of this not being a competition, I would like to give a quick shout out to the other nominees. We all have such wildly different experiences - and I would encourage anyone reading this to take a look at their work. They are as follows:

'Swimming Through Clouds' - by Beverley Ward, who also authored the book 'Dear Blacksmith', about her life with her partner, Paul.
'Life without Mummy' - by Lee Cripps, who documents life as a widow whilst raising twins.
'Widowed at 26 Years Old' - a guest post on 'Let's Talk About Loss' by Olivia Rose - who writes about being widowed by cancer at an especially young age.
'No Rain No Ranbows' - by Mark Wilcox, who writes about navigating grief as a widowed father, and about rebuilding a life after grief.

Aside from the nominees, I would also like to give a quick shout out to last years winner, Aimée Claire, for her aptly named blog 'A Nameless Pain'. In addition to being a constant source of inspiration and support to myself, her writing on being an unwed widow at 26 is truly unlike any other.

They asked everyone to give a picture after they were nominated - and I insisted on having one of us - because it is our award, like I previously said. Nobody argued with me on that. It's the small things that count, eh? Thank you so much for reading here. I have no plans to stop writing... In fact, things are only going to ramp up, I think. Court proceedings officially begin in just over a week too... This journey is only going to get harder, before it becomes at all manageable. 

Anyway, we did a thing Cub. How 'bout that? 'til the end of goddamn time.
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