11 Quotes by Inspirational Women

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A few years ago, in the very beginnings of the blog, I created a listicle giving 46 reasons why women are amazing. Looking back, the post is rather silly and superficial – there’s talk of shoes, hair, make-up and the ease of urination in comparison to our male counterparts to name but a few. However, I keep the post up because it pulls in traffic from search engines on a daily basis with questions like ‘Why are women amazing?’ and ‘How amazing are women?’… There seems to be an endless stream of people who want to know what the key ingredients are that contribute to a woman’s ‘womanliness.’

As I age I am more acutely aware of the journey we have travelled as women, and how far we still have to go, but I’m lucky in that I am surrounded by strong, independent, successful women who prove that anything is possible. So, without getting into a debate or using it as an opportunity to belittle the male population (as I find it immensely irritating when Women’s Rights are used as a chance to insult men under the guise of feminism) I wanted to take the opportunity to share some inspirational quotes for International Women’s Day. Continue reading

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The Anti-Flirt Club

The Anti-Flirt Club

The Anti-Flirt Club

The Anti-Flirt Club was an American club that began in Washington, D.C., during the early 1920s. After being subjected to unwelcome attention from men in ‘automobiles and on street corners,’ a group of women, led by President Alice Reighly, formed the club to protect young girls and women from further embarrassment and discomfort. A list of rules were created and issued to all of the members:

1. Don’t flirt: those who flirt in haste oft repent in leisure.

2. Don’t accept rides from flirting motorists—they don’t invite you in to save you a walk.

3. Don’t use your eyes for ogling—they were made for worthier purposes.

4. Don’t go out with men you don’t know—they may be married, and you may be in for a hair-pulling match.

5. Don’t wink—a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.

6. Don’t smile at flirtatious strangers—save them for people you know.

7. Don’t annex all the men you can get—by flirting with many, you may lose out on the one.

8. Don’t fall for the slick, dandified cake eater—the unpolished gold of a real man is worth more than the gloss of a lounge lizard.

9. Don’t let elderly men with an eye to a flirtation pat you on the shoulder and take a fatherly interest in you. Those are usually the kind who want to forget they are fathers.

10. Don’t ignore the man you are sure of while you flirt with another. When you return to the first one you may find him gone.

The ladies attempted to take this a step further, and launched an “Anti-Flirt” week, which began on March 4, 1923. Unfortunately, it was the first, and only since.

Some sound advice that made me smile and nod in agreement, which I believe is still extremely relevant nearly 100 years later.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Image source: Wikipedia

 

A Question of Beauty

 

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After a conversation I had with my friend in the pub, started by the fact that he was lusting after one of the barmaids, I started thinking about the idea of beauty.

imageSamantha Brick made herself a household name in the UK a few years ago by claiming that she was victimised for being ‘too beautiful’. Consequently the backlash that she received was immediate and on an enormous scale – some chastised her for being arrogant, others accused her of not being anywhere as beautiful as she felt she was, while some simply assumed it was an April Fools joke. She made the headlines earlier last year again by proclaiming that her eating disorders had allowed her to remain skinny and that her husband would leave her if she put on weight.

I read the article and I must confess that I was among the people who, when they saw a picture of Samantha, responded with ‘really?’, – in my opinion she isn’t a particularly attractive woman (both inside and out after reading the awful things she’s written), but it did get me thinking about the role that beauty plays in our lives.

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As a woman I believe that we are under a lot of pressure to be ‘beautiful,’ despite the fact that nobody really knows what the absolute definition of beautiful is. However, I do feel that beauty is often directly linked to weight, and as women I think we put a lot of this pressure on ourselves. We can blame magazines for projecting the image that skinny is best, and yet we still continue to buy them. We idolise celebrities who are skinny, with the exception of a few, and take great delight in ripping them to shreds if they gain even a few pounds. Kim Kardashian is the perfect example of this: when she was heavily pregnant her increasing body size and shape was the subject of daily ridicule on the Internet. The poor woman must have been feeling awful about herself as it was (although I could argue here about being fame hungry and the perils of achieving it).

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I always wonder who it is we are trying to look beautiful for. I suppose, essentially, we try and make ourselves as attractive as possible for the purpose of receiving attention from potential mates, like many different species do in the animal kingdom. However, I think we as women have an unrealistic view in our minds as to what men want. Ultimately, yes, most people instantly are attracted to looks, but not all men want a skinny girl with big boobs and false eyelashes. The majority of my male friends and The Bloke want a ‘girl next door’ look, and their girlfriends are natural looking women who take care of themselves but don’t look ‘plastic fantastic’ when they leave the house.

I’m not beautiful, but I don’t consider myself to be hideous either. I’ve never been fashionable or interested in following trends, and I prefer to spend my time in jeans and hoodies. At school I wasn’t one of the popular ones – I remember that the person in my year who was considered ‘attractive’ was the opposite of me-short, skinny, brown curly hair that was moussed to within an inch of it’s life – the boys practically jumped on her whenever she walked into the room. When I went to Sixth Form I started to get a little bit of attention from the boys, but nothing of significance.

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It was only when I went to university that I started to become aware of beauty and looks. I lived with a girl who was on a fashion course. She was generally considered to be a beautiful girl – fairly short, very skinny, always wore fashionable clothing etc… And the boys loved her. She couldn’t walk down the street without someone whistling at her or stopping to stare or try to talk to her. I remember one night, as poor students, we went clubbing with £5 between us. We returned home hours later with £20, we were drunk, we’d eaten, we’d been into several clubs and we’d had a taxi home paid for us. All she did was to smile and talk to men, and they fell over themselves trying to offer her free stuff. She was gorgeous, but she knew it, and had developed the art of using her beauty to exploit men into getting her what she wanted. Her beauty afforded her an easier life than some – she bagged several rich boyfriends that paid off her debts and living expenses, and she was often given presents.

I read an article by Sidney Katz, who explored the idea that beautiful people have a better quality of life simply because of their looks. After spending time with AG, I can believe it. It leaves me questioning my own beauty and how it affects my life. For example, I’ve noticed that when I go shopping I will be treated differently depending on the way I’ve presented myself. If I’m wearing a hoodie and jeans, I’m ignored. If I go in ‘suited and booted’ with good hair and make-up on the shop assistants won’t leave me alone. I’m still the same person with the same salary, but it is assumed that I can afford more if I’m smartly dressed.

However, the issue of weight with regards to beauty is always a contentious one.

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Lots of ‘plus sized’ and curvier women naturally get very defensive about the subject of weight because of the stigma that surrounds it. I have often heard it proclaimed that there is ‘no excuse’ for a woman gaining weight, and this isn’t helped by the fact that many high street stores make it difficult to buy clothes in adequate sizes, despite the fact that the average UK size for women is a size 16. I have gained 60lbs in the last few years and cannot shop in the same stores that I used to, simply because they don’t make items of clothing that fit me comfortably, and have been demoralised when I have found a beautiful outfit that would suit my figure perfectly, only to find that the sizes made are two sizes smaller than my own. I have had comments made by people that I know, and have even been asked ‘when the baby is due.’ The truth is, I don’t consider myself to be fat, and have been embarrassed when it has been suggested that I am. The fact that I am embarrassed seems to prove to me that fat is deemed to be a negative thing.

Similarly, my naturally skinny friends have often had to justify themselves for their weight. One in particular once told me that no matter how much she eats she can’t seem to put on weight, and has been upset on more than one occasion by being informed by complete strangers that she needs to ‘eat a cheeseburger.’

Would I be living this life if I was skinnier or more attractive? Would I have a different career? Different friends? At least I can be sure that I have what I have because of me, and not because of how I look. The Bloke has seen me at my absolute worst, and still wants to be with me. And more importantly, while I would like to improve my fitness, I can still look in the mirror and be proud of what I see.

When it comes to beauty, I think that it is far more important to value your opinion of yourself than that of others. We’re all unique, and we all deserve to celebrate our lumps, bumps, small boobs, big boobs, big booty’s, skinny legs and flat butts without feeling that we aren’t good enough. I’ll leave you with a quote from the fabulous Marilyn Monroe:

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What do you think? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Do women create false expectations for themselves?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

 

Twelve Things Men Should Know About Women

I love being a woman. We’re strong, independent, beautiful, interesting and complex creatures that have the power to bring new life into the world, and I am lucky in that I am surrounded by many examples of fabulous women on a daily basis. However, I have lots of male friends, perhaps more than I have that are female, and after having many conversations with them I still feel that there are a few misconceptions about my gender than men need to know. Of course, I cannot speak on behalf of every woman, in the same way that I cannot assume that all men have these misconceptions and it certainly isn’t an opportunity to attack the male sex, but I thought I would have a little fun on this dreary Sunday afternoon.

1. We have bodily functions. I am still always surprised by the amount of my male counterparts who haven’t grasped the concept of this. I’m sorry to dispel the myth here fellas, but we poop. We fart. We burp. And most women I know have the capacity to do it far louder than any man. Continue reading

No Means No!

imageWhen I was at University I worked at a local bar that was about ten minutes walk away from the apartment that I lived in. One Saturday afternoon I was on my way to a shift that started at 4.00pm. I was wearing a baggy blue checked shirt with the logo of the bar on it, long black trousers and a sturdy pair of black boots. I wasn’t wearing any make-up, my hair was tied up and I was minding my own business. Suddenly, I heard a man shout:

“Oi! Sexy! Where are you going?”

I turned around, thinking it was one of my friends. I didn’t recognise this man or his friend and so I turned around and carried on walking.

“Aww, don’t walk away! Where are you going? Give me your number!”

I ignored him, but the sound of his voice didn’t get any quieter. They were obviously following me.

“Hey baby, have you got a lighter? Come on baby, give me your number!”

I could see my workplace in the distance and I lost my temper, telling them in no uncertain terms to f*ck off in the hope that they would go away. They didn’t. Instead, they sucked their teeth at me and continued to follow, this time shouting abuse and calling me a ‘slag’ and and ‘f*cking stupid b*tch.’ They disappeared when I arrived at work, but it was the scariest experience I’ve had on my own in the street.

It was broad daylight, I wasn’t dressed in a provocative way and I hadn’t prompted any conversation or even looked at them in a way that would suggest I was interested in them. However, it could have been 3.00am and pitch dark, I could have been wearing a bikini and could have applied my make-up on with a shovel, and my thoughts on the matter would still be the same:

No means no.

I’ve been extremely lucky in life. As I write I am sitting next to The Bloke. He towers over me, being 6’3″, he weighs more than me and is considerably stronger than I am, but in the years that I have known him there hasn’t been a single moment where I have felt the least bit intimidated by him. In fact, I haven’t felt physically intimidated by any man that I have dated or had a relationship with (not that there have been many) and I have never engaged in activities that I didn’t want to do.

Unfortunately, some of my friends haven’t been so lucky.

I awoke this morning to the news of the tragedy in Santa Barbara. An obviously mentally ill young man took the lives of six innocent people, before killing himself, an incident that once again leaves everyone in shock. To make matters worse, he created a 141 page manifesto in which he stated that all women should be placed in concentration camps and starved to death, and this has prompted and understandably aggressive stance on the issue of gender equality, assault and abuse across my social media networks. The trolls are out in force – I was horrified to see this conversation posted on Twitter…

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I’m proud to be a woman, and as a woman I believe that I should be treated equally. I should be paid the same wages as a man in the same role and should be offered the same opportunities as my male counterparts. It shouldn’t automatically be assumed that my status as a female means that I will spend my life raising children and/or looking after a home. Above all, I believe that I shouldn’t be harassed or propositioned and should be treated with respect, not just because I am a woman, but because I am a human being.

I’ve seen some really interesting conversations this morning and I seen examples of some of the arguments that were offered in my own life. However, there were a few things that annoyed me slightly – there were some women who seem to be blaming ALL men for this, when most are actually kind, hard-working genuine people, and it isn’t just women who are assaulted. Still, it still doesn’t take away from that fact that no means no, regardless of gender or circumstance.

For example:

Women can easily manipulate men by using sex. An ex-friend of mine is beautiful, but she was highly aware of this and used it to her advantage. During her 18 month relationship with a rich older man she frequently told me that she wasn’t attracted to him, that having sex with him made her skin crawl and that she only did it because he bought her things. However, he didn’t force her at any point to do anything, she did so willingly.

But no means no.

Men can easily manipulate women by using money. A male friend that I haven’t seen in years is rich and he will spend his money on women so they will sleep with him (which he admitted to me when he was drunk).

But no means no.

Women will dress provocatively and are perfectly happy to be chatted up by someone that they find attractive, but they will take offence and refer to them as a ‘pervert’ if they find them unnattractive. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I have seen this happen in nightclubs.

No still means no.

It isn’t just women who are sexually objectified. One of my male friends, who is extremely attractive and has a very defined, muscular body is often groped by drunken women when we go out, particularly if he wears tight T- shirts. His male friends joke about it, but sometimes I can see that he’s really uncomfortable. And male rape is extremely common, it just isn’t talked about.

No means no for men too.

Some women will ‘friend zone’ men without being honest about their feelings and giving the impression that they are romantically interested, keeping them hanging on just enough to give them hope just in case they can’t find anyone that they deem to be better, and this often leaves the men feeling angry and frustrated. The Bloke, being the quintessential ‘nice guy’ has told me many stories of instances where he has been used by his female friends and then promptly friend zoned later, leaving him heartbroken (and obviously, they didn’t know a good thing when they had it – more fool them!)

And again, no means no.

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No means no if you’re a man or woman.

No means no whether you’re in a relationship with a person or whether you’ve just met them.

‘Not now’ means no.

‘I’m in a relationship’ means no.

‘No thanks’ means no.

‘I’m not interested’ means no.

If I have been out in the evening to a local bar, one of my male friends will walk me home or The Bloke will walk down and meet me. If I’m in town my friends will walk me to a taxi station and will insist that I ring them when I am home safely, and I do the same for them. I’m lucky to have great friends, but I shouldn’t have to go through that process. I shouldn’t have to fear walking down the street at night by myself, I shouldn’t have to consider what I wear in case it attracts attention, and I shouldn’t have to avoid eye contact or innocent conversations with people just in case they assume I am hitting on them.

imageThe events in Santa Barbara are horrific, and it has once again brought to light the stigma and taboo that still surrounds the issue of abuse and assault. I hope that instead of feeding the trolls, we can learn from this tragedy and continue to educate each other and our children that no does in fact mean no. And to those of you who have suffered at the hands of another person… You are not alone. Say something. Talk to us. We’re here.

My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

Can Men and Women Be Just Friends?

whenHarryMetSally3It’s a question that is the subject of debate amongst scientists, psychologists and sociologists the world over. When researching this post I discovered thousands of different articles on the Internet, all with conflicting arguments and conclusions. I don’t possess any of these scientific qualifications and therefore can only rely on my own thoughts and experiences, and therefore I apologise if this is one of many similar posts.

There is one thing that all of these articles have in common – the film ‘When Harry Met Sally’. In the opening sequence Billy Crystal declares that “no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive”.  But is this statement actually true?

When examining cross-sex relationships in TV programmes we are given the impression that platonic friendships aren’t always possible. There are hundreds of examples of friendships that develop into romance – Luke and Lorelai in the ‘Gilmore Girls’, J.D. and Elliot in ‘Scrubs’, Pacey and Joey in ‘Dawson’s Creek’, Mulder and Scully in the ‘X – Files’… In ‘Friends’, four of the six end up falling in love – Rachel and Ross’s ‘will they, wont they’ relationship dominates the entire show, and Monica and Chandler get married. Even Rachel and Joey have a romantic liaison at one point, with the only platonic relationship being that of the friendship between Phoebe and Joey. Obviously the romantic element of a show is added to the plot to attract more viewers, but it left me wondering whether these sorts of friendships can actually exist in real life.

whenharrymetsallyI am the worst possible example within the discussion of platonic cross – sex relationships as almost all of my long term relationships (not that there have been many) have resulted from a strong friendship first.  My best friend is male. I’ve known him since I was nineteen and we see or speak to each other on the phone several times a week. We support each other, we’ve borrowed money from each other, we ask each other advice. We have no romantic feelings towards each other, we’ve both been in long term relationships over the years and have always liked each others partners. However, when we first met we instantly became very close, resulting in a quite intense (on my part anyway) relationship for several months. It didn’t last long, but I feel that because we got the intimate part of the relationship out of the way we have been able to simply relax and enjoy each others company without anything getting in the way. The Bloke and I have been together for a long time, but were friends for several years before we became romantically involved.

I have lots of male friends, but I have a much stronger friendships with my female friends. I don’t discuss certain things with most of my male friends and the majority of our activities are centred on exercise or drinking. It’s rare that I will meet them without somebody else present, with only two exceptions, my best friend and my fireman friend, who is happily engaged to a lovely woman.

428507874_1387622695However, in my life there are some examples where cross-sex relationships exist and work effectively. I’ve known MM and GB for years – we met as struggling students and have remained friends. MM is male, GB is female and as long as I’ve known them, I (and several others) have always had the notion that they would be absolutely perfect together – they have similar interests, they make each other laugh and they genuinely enjoy each others company. They, however, completely disagree and nothing has ever happened between them. Both are content in their own serious relationships and are happy for each other.

Two of our other university friends are similar in that they’ve always had a strong friendship and have never crossed the line. However, the male quite obviously is very attracted to the female, which isn’t reciprocated although she’s clearly aware of it.

I decided to create a scientific study on the subject (and by scientific, I mean that I asked my friends what they thought). I’ve compiled their responses in the list below.

1. One or both are gay.

2. One or both is in a committed relationship and is not willing to cross any boundaries.

3. One is not attracted to the other (although when my friend suggested this she also added that this eventually may have a negative effect on their friendship as one will inevitably want more).

4. Neither are physically attracted to each other.

5. Both are attracted to each other, but have mutually agreed that they value their friendship more.

What do you think? Do you have a platonic relationship with a member of the opposite sex?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

46 Reasons Why Women Are Amazing

Women are amazing

**Originally published in 2013, but updated in 2017 for International Women’s Day**

Both men and women are unique in their capabilities and what they offer to society, but on International Women’s Day I took the opportunity to research some of my favourite quotes by empowered and successful women and ask lots of my blogger counterparts for reasons why they felt women were amazing.

1. Our strength at continually striving to be seen and heard for who we REALLY are, when all around us are those who want to put us into boxes… (Fallen Angel Fitness)

2. A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous – Coco Chanel

3. We’re at our best when we opt out of the game [of competition] and find the strength and kindness to support and encourage one another to be who we are meant to be. (Claire Wong Writing)

4. It’s not vanity to feel you have a right to be beautiful. Women are taught to feel we’re not good enough, that we must live up to someone else’s standards. But my aim is to cherish myself as I am – Elle Macpherson

5. Figure out who you are separate from your family, and the man or woman you’re in a relationship with. Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that’s the most important thing in life. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else – Angelina Jolie

6. A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. (Sanchali07wanderer)

7. Strong women do not allow their lives and relationships to be dictated by others.

8. Women from my Nana’s era, who went through so many changes in society and still remained strong, determined and gentle. (Global Housesitter x2)

9. Women are great listeners, and do so without feeling the need to fix something.

10. We possess the sixth sense of female intuition, which is often right.

11. What we do is one achievement after another, no matter how small. Surviving all that is thrown at us. Being strong when we don’t know how we do it. Forming networks of support with each other… (Jot to Jot)

12. Women are remarkable because of our ability to be resourceful, our adaptibility and resilience – we bend but don’t break. (Phaytea’s Pulse)

13. Our ability to be effective leaders.

14. The fact that we can embrace our seeming imperfections and turn them into a strength

15. They are the creators and nurturers of all. They are balls of emotion feeling happiness and sadness, love and hate, energy and exhaustion all at once, yet still cope with what the world throws at them. They are the support network, many a time, singlehandedly, for their family, often with only another woman friend to turn to for understanding and support. (But I Smile Anyway)

16. Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others – Amelia Earhart

17. We can organise a household, a family, ourselves and still manage to work full time.

18. Women are just normal human beings whose strength is derived from their history (Oriana’s Notes)

19. When she knows that she is amazing but is graceful and classy about it. There is something very powerful about knowing your own strengths and choosing when to use them effectively…

20. Ordinary women with compassionate hearts might not always get the highest paid jobs or the respect that they deserve but don’t forget the wonderful daily jobs that they do. (Kyros Magica)

21. Why do people say “grow some balls”? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding – Betty White

22. The ability to look amazing in whatever we wear, be it a cocktail dress or sweats…

23. While we may not always be physically stronger than our male counterparts… pregnancy and childbirth.

24. Women are amazing because every day we have the resilience to prove that we are equal to men – be it through intelligence, strength, power or pay bracket. Women change the world, deliver life and inspire each other. (The Wandering Darlings)

25. A fulfilling life does not require the dependence on anyone else but herself.

26. I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity – Michelle Obama

27. The ability to problem solve and the flexibility to admit when she doesn’t have all of the answers.

28. A strong, independent woman has a strong financial independence.

29. Women can express themselves creatively by embracing their own style.

30. Our ability to multitask. (BlondeWriteMore)

31. I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. And that’s how I operate my life. – Oprah Winfrey

32. A woman follows her heart, understands who she is and develops and cultivates her own passions and interests.

33. Strong women like to challenge themselves, without growing complacent, they don’t ever stop learning and always know that there is the potential for improvement.

34. Our flexibility in dealing with whatever life throws at us, our resilience and strength to continually fight battles that we shouldn’t have to fight. (Deb’s World)

35. A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water – Eleanor Roosevelt

36. The ability to speak her mind and from the heart, not being afraid of the opinions of others.

37. They are strong, empowering, emotional, loving and fierce (Motivate Me!)

38. Life is never boring – a strong woman finds the laughter and happiness in many things

39. I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass – Maya Angelou

40. The meaningful and lifelong bonds we form with our friends. Behind every strong woman is a whole team who has her back.

41. Our resilience and support for each other. (Just Another Blog)

42. Self-confidence, emotional independence and self-validation.

43: The ability to find things – we always know where lost items are.

44. One is not born a woman, one becomes one. – Simone de Beauvoir

45. W-oman’s worth O-ften underestimated M-ostly unappreciated A-lthough they N-ever give up caring

46. I like being a woman because I think the answers now are so much more varied and exquisite then they would have been even twenty years ago because we have come so far as a gender. I love the way I know my body so well, I love that I can talk freely about any subject without embarrassment or bravado bullsh*t that guys often do, that I can be a chameleon, that I can be proud of my gender and that everywhere I turn there are women all over the world making and breaking the rules. (The Slipped Ink Blog)

 

What about you guys? What makes women amazing?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.