Miracles of Love

I need a miracle.

In the last year, or maybe in my recent life, I’ve fallen into my bed many a night and asked for a miracle. Asked for Charlie and Skye to have better health, that their lives wouldn’t be filled with so many trials and tribulations. I’ve begged God, whoever he may be, to cure my mother who is deeply tortured by mental health issues. I’ve closed my eyes and asked him to let me live when I was seconds from dying. Now, I’m not sure if it was God who saved me, or if it was my ridiculously stubborn will power but here I am; just being here isn’t the miracle though I think it was the details that saved me.

When I was taken into casualty I was assigned a specialist stroke nurse who was strong willed, feisty and spoke when I couldn’t. I will never forget her whispering in my ear ‘if you take this drug you will die’; I didn’t take it and I lived. Her love, care and compassion was my lifeline in my darkest hour. There were so many micro-miracles that its hard to place them all in my foggy memories; the joiner who installed a tone of rails in my house free of charge, the food which just appeared to feed my children and the constant love which would fall on me when I would least expect it.

Earlier in the year I took a trip to Italy, I went alone and spent so much time in reflection, my wee mum is sick; she is so poorly I often wonder how she opens her eyes every day. It was in Italy during some of the quietest moments of my life that I begged for a miracle. I wanted my mum to be able to annoy me again, to tell me my fake tan was too dark, to instruct me on the art of laundry or to simply sit in my home watching me live my life. Instead of feeling miraculous the allegations of sexual harassment started to tumble out across Scotland, and while far away from everyone I loved, my own memories were swirling around my brain like a storm of dark nightmares. I started to get sick. My face started to freeze and I was miles away from home. There was a night which was so dark that I wondered how much more of life a person could take when the mountains seemed so inexplicably high. I told the young hotel owner that I would be taking to my bed for a day or so and not to worry if he didn’t see me, I explained that I had been sick and I needed a rest. At eleven that night there was a loud bang on the door and his mother instructed me to drink some holy water for my pain, it wasn’t the water that brought me back to life it was her love and kindness. The next morning when I opened the shutters I kept thinking that I had been missing the answers all along. Nothing was exactly as I had planned in my life, but being so deep in my own worry had led me to miss the amazing things that happen around me every single day. I was having my own personal pity party.

I’ve recently got to know a young mum of three, a care experienced girl who beat the system and got her degree; was married and pregnant when her world came tumbling down around her. Husband left, rent was too high, benefit cuts too deep to let her survive. My sister took this family into her heart and she told me that they would fly. Homeless, alone and with nothing. We asked for a miracle. It wasn’t a blinding light, it wasn’t a lottery win; it was Councillor Cannon making sure she got the right caseworker, it was the people of Wallacewell who wouldn’t let her sink, it was in my friends who are painting and decorating her new wee home, it was in my sister who believed in her. It was in the hope that life could be more. Those were her miracles. On Friday this girl didn’t even have food in her cupboards but on Saturday night she was thanking the world for her wonderful new life. You see, she has her eyes open to what love is.

Charlie started her hormone journey today. I sat in the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids listening to her medical history as it was read out to me, heart defects, epilepsy, diabetes, depression; and now her body is going to have to battle so hard to be what it should be anyway. Just to be who she is on the inside. As I sat I kept thinking about all the current right wing press condemning these young trans people. I thought my heart would shatter. Who would pick this? I wanted to pick her up and run, run as far as I could; but she didn’t want to run, she wanted to stand up to this and to carry on. As we walked out the hospital we passed kids, some of whom were so sick they couldn’t walk and my heart felt like it was going to explode. Wandering through the corridors with Christmas trees and cheery festive music I was sure my emotions were going to betray me, seconds from tears and my stomach in knots we walked out to see a rainbow so big and bright we both stood for ages, eventually burst out laughing. You see we cant change our problems but we can change how we react to them. We can choose to let them topple us or we can decide to make our broken moments make us stronger. Dolly Parton once famously said ‘Storms make trees take deeper roots’.

To that end I’m going to be doing something to make micro-miracles for others. James (the boss) is collecting toys for local charities but I will be collecting (and begging) for small gifts for young women just like the girl in my blog. Women who have been given so little in life but who deserve a little hope. If you could donate a small, wrapped gift for a young lady then let me know. Ill be giving them to WAVES on the Southside and to the women of Wallacewell. It’s time for me to open my eyes. If you are struggling with life, and if miracles seem like a fantasy, let someone know. People in this country are getting poorer, austerity isn’t killing the debt, its killing people; but I believe in good. I believe in hope. I believe that Jo Cox was right when she said “there is more which unites us than divides us”. If you cant donate to my precious ladies that’s ok, we all have budgets but try and give something. A hello to a grumpy neighbour, five minutes babysitting to the single mum in your street, dinner to an elderly relative; change will come of that I have no fears but until then we must look out for each other. If your give a little, even if it’s just your time, then eventually you’ll be your own miracle.

Gifts can be handed in to our Glasgow Cathcart office on Clarkston Road, or alternatively shoot me an email at rosa.zambonini@parliament.scot

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My official complaint to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn

Dear Mr Corbyn,

I am not a member of your party, nor am I a Labour voter however I’ve had a lot of respect for some of your recent policies and as we agree on certain subjects; I thought it best to approach you on an issue which almost cost me my life. An issue which has silenced me for so long but now I feel able to discuss.

Until the local authority elections in May I was a Councillor in an area called North Lanarkshire, the home of Kier Hardy and many other politicians of note. I was an SNP councillor, but more than that I was a single mum of two disabled girls, a woman fighting hard for her constituents in probably one of the most toxic political environments you could ever imagine. I also work at Holyrood, and while difficult to manoeuvre at times, nothing compared to the horrors that were induced from my time at NLC.

Mr Corbyn, I was subjected to a prolonged and dangerous campaign of abuse and whispers. As I tried to dig for information on events in our area, the chief executive had to approach me because “senior Labour Councillors” had led him to believe I as having an affair with married officers. Labour Councillors approached me with deep anxiety because their colleagues in your party had decided to infer that they had or would show “nudes” of me, this is revenge porn if true, but it was just smear in its worst form. They said and I quote “that it would shut me up”.  These were only some of the incidents that Labour Party members were willing to discuss with me, I admire their unwavering courage because it seems that Scottish Labour is quite a different beast, and to come forward to protect me is admirable.

I often hear you talk of the many. I was the “many”, I was the lone parent living on the bread line who believed she could be part of our democratic process, a voice if you would like, for others. I didn’t expect to face a catalogue of gender based discrimination, lecherous comments and a premeditated campaign to discredit me. That’s exactly what happened. Your party having a fundraiser to campaign for “The Many” which manifested as a great night to make fun of my distress surrounding the coming out of my fragile transgender daughter, is nothing short of vile. She is precious and she did not deserve this.

I consulted the leadership in Scotland and while empathetic, the answer was “I don’t know what to do”. Can you imagine seeing that leadership in the media now condemning those who stood by and did nothing during the Weinstein allegations? Hypocrisy in full swing. As the summer of 2017 approached I was suffering from the worst period of mental health and the abuse did not stop. It was relentless. Comments in corridors. Whispering. Media stories which could only have come from inside the organisation. Sexual innuendo. I was forced out of politics, like a child hounded out of a school by playground bullies.

On June the 19th I collapsed in front of my eleven year old daughter, unable to speak or move she watched as her mum had a stroke like incident. Paralysed down one side of my body for weeks, unable to feed, wash or dress myself; the stress of my time at NLC at reduced me to a woman who could not provide for her children, take care of them properly or even take care of herself. I have a wonderful boss, who has been supportive and caring; but the fact of the matter is that your own elected members could have cost me my life and my children their mother. This has been confirmed by some of the most senior stroke consultants in Scotland, it’s not my opinion, it’s a medical fact.

I am lodging this email as an official complaint. There are probably other “procedures” but these have only served to fail me in the past. As the leadership of Scottish Labour hangs in the balance, it seems like you are the only credible destination for complaint. I am owed an apology at the least and I will not rest until what happened to me is investigated fully, and with transparency. To that end, I have copied in my lawyer as any previous concerns, as stated above, were left ignored; and I feel it prudent that I have a witness to this official complaint against the leadership of North Lanarkshire Council and any elected member who contributed to this sordid situation.

As a man who talks honestly and openly about families like mine, I very much look forward to your reply and to discuss actions which you deem appropriate.

Kindest Regards

Rosa Zambonini

Tiny Dancer

Today I was in Glasgow and I was caught up in all the early seasonal sparkle. The whole city looked like it was gearing up for a big party; and everyone was invited, well almost everyone.

I met a couple on the street, they had a dog, a tent and lots of sleeping bags. Their stories, like most living on the streets, were torrid, sad and seemingly hopeless. Yet they were funny, upbeat and ridiculously kind as they offered me “the newly donated, clean sleeping bag” to sit on. For some reason I was completely taken in by this couple and their banter was true Glaswegian wonderfulness, but while I was sat on the ground it made me notice every grumble of the passers by. “The poor dog” or the “dog didn’t ask for that life, such a shame”. The dog, the dog, the dog. The dog, as far as I could see, was well fed and blissfully unaware that it was living on argyle street or that it was any different from any other canine. I however, was sad. Sad that so many had so much time for a dog, and yet so little time for people. I was so sad, that I asked this couple how it made them feel, the man laughed and said “I don’t need them to feel for me, or to worry about me, I have real love and I wonder if any of them do”.

Taken a back I asked them how long they’d been together? Not long but they were married, she said he was her safe haven and he said “aye but she is my tiny dancer” (like the song). They told me they’d been clean since they got married, and I could well believe it, and that their goal is to live a life protecting each other. It’s hard to say what they were protecting each other from, but you could see it. There was no house, no stuff, not a lot of food but there was an abundance of love the likes of that which I hadn’t seen in such a long time.

Homelessness in this wealthy nation in 2017 angers me, almost as much as anything else, the notion that in winter people will pitch a tent to survive makes my blood boil with rage. To be sneered at by passers by because they see fit to have a dog which they so clearly love, and to be scorned for having no shelter was almost enough to tip my anger into a shouting match with strangers. But what would that achieve? Very little. As we work in or out of politics, it’s our job to just love on those less fortunate with the vigour in which this couple loved each other. I don’t mean romantic love, I mean a love for humanity which ensures it’s survival.

I bought gifts, shoes, coffees, lunch. I jumped into my BMW. I drove to my lovely little terraced house. I hate a load of food in a warm home. I will sleep alone in my big comfortable bed. I so wish they had even a little of what I have; but I did all of this alone. So really it would be a wonderful exchange if they got even a fraction of my life, and I had a fraction of their love. I’m so thankful for all the lovely things I have, but I’m so ready to acknowledge that others have so much more even when it first appears that they have so little 💛

The Last Date

Well if id known how this month was gonna pan out for women across the world I don’t know if I would have even started this dating blog, but I did and it was a ray of sunshine in a dark month.

Many have told me I shouldn’t be talking about meeting strangers for dates, when I’ve so freely called out harassment. So I tell you what, I’m going to stay at home forever incase I upset anyone on social media and cant call out sexual harassment without fear…. wrong. I will continue to seek romance, love, affection and passion; on the grounds of mutual respect. Who a woman chooses to love or not love doesn’t mean she’s up for grabs.

I’ve spent the month wondering if I should change the way I look, maybe move to the more conservative way of dressing, but I don’t want to! I like how I dress and I am fucking fabulous just the way I am. I don’t dress for men on tinder or men in general, I dress for me and for the spirit of Carrie Bradshaw. But if a man thinks I’m beautiful, and loves and respects the way I look then that’s just a bonus.

So did I find love? I don’t know about that but I’ve been surprised in some of the most lovely ways. I received some funny, interesting and downright bonkers messages. I had some amazing dates and some not so amazing encounters. I guess what I’ve taken from this is that there is someone out there for everyone and thanks to the internet we are a little closer to finding them.

What even is love? I read a beautiful blog during this which said “it’s not two halves of a hole; it’s reaching your hand out in the night and finding someone there”. So actually I really DO have love. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the podgy wee hand of skye (charlie is a lonely sleeper). Sometimes I reach out and it’s the rigid type body of my best pal Karen, she stays sometime when I’m sick, she is single and bloody amazing. Sometimes it’s kirsty in Dubai and The hand that is reaching out to me cupping my Lady garden. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the arms of my best boy pal conor letting me cuddle him in; just because I’m not his “type” (ie no a man) he is still solid. Sometimes I reach out and it’s the soft squishy touch of my mammy, making me feel loved and secure. So I have love and I love.

I’m gonna keep dating, maybe someone will manage to get me to commit to them. I got to know one of my dates quite well and he says “fuck it” a lot when I say something stressy. It makes me feel empowered, like yes fuck it who cares, I can do this. Maybe that’s all I need, someone who reaches back out to meet my hand, and someone who soothes my worries mind by telling me “fuck it”.

My final ever dating tips would be these.

4) if your on tinder don’t go to oneup, folk will think it’s ok to say “seen ye on a tinder hen”

3) recognise the love you already have in your life the beautiful friendships and family that surround you.

2) don’t date Tory’s, you’re better than that.

1) most importantly, know your worth. If you have to chase him and he rarely tells you how wonderful you are, he’s not for you. You are fantastic just as you are “so never ever settle for anything less than butterflies”

The unapologetic woman!

So today there was a story about sexual harassment in the Sunday Herald, I’ve had more texts and questions than I can shake a stick at. Is it you? Who’s rocking the boat? what’s the story? A bit of me wants to reply to every single text with “none of your bloody business”. The fact of the matter is this story has touched so many women in my industry and the story belonged to all of them. Not just mine.

Since Kezia, Nicola and other known political women have come to voice their disgust about sexism in their own arena I’ve been fascinated to read the “if it’s true name them comments” or worse the “you’re responsible if this happens to others” remarks. STOP. The only people responsible for sexual abuse, harassment and violence are the perpetrators. They are the sole reason for sexual aggression. Not short skirts, not flirty women, not flirty men, not blond hair, not big boobs. Those responsible, are those who can see a bloody line but still decide to dive head first over it.

When I was in North Lanarkshire Council the chief exec asked to “have a quiet word”; the head of education had been sacked and he had been tipped off by a senior labour councillor that it was because I was having an affair with this officer. It couldn’t possibly have been that this man had approached me with damning information of the labour administration; you see I was young, single but smart and I had their measure and they were scared. I had been tipped off about this rumour by another labour councillor and told that this was the tactic they were going to use so I was prepared, in a way it almost didn’t matter to me as I was single, but this man had a wife and family. So why were they able to peddle this bullshit? Because I was blessed with having a vagina and it was a nice easy lie to hide their own disgusting misdemeanours. It wasn’t the fault of any woman who had fallen into their slimey games before my time; this was their fault and theirs alone.

When I had a stroke type thing in the summer and recovered, as much as I am thankful for my recovery, no one told me I have to become a medical researcher and cure the suffering of future victims. An odd comparison? perhaps. However that’s just how absurd it is to ask a victim to be the advocate for those who are still to be “abused”. Here’s a thought, and it’s crude, but why don’t abusers keep their hands, words, dirty thoughts and penis to themselves? Just do that and then we can all go to our work without shuddering when we open or DMs!

I’ve had this a lot “do you know men are abused too…? Do you Rosa… do you??” Yes I do but to be honest I don’t have the energy to battle for the poor white males who’ve had it so tough for so long. I mean, I feel for anyone who’s been abused, Equality is for everyone but at the moment this is a predominantly female facing issue and I will not apologise for fighting for my gender. It is mine.

Last night in Glasgow it was Halloween weekend and I watched all the beautiful young women dressed as fairies, Angels, devils etc. I heard a lot of “she’d get it comments”. Ringing around my ears. There was definitely a “she’s gagging for it” mentality. Mate, she isn’t, honestly she just isn’t. Women are proud of their beauty and sexuality these days and they can express it as an Anne’s Summers sailor if they so choose and further more they should be allowed to do it without your lecherous mind defiling her. When “taps aff” season hits Glasgow NO one thinks you are well up for it, in fact, we really do not care that you’re slinging yer tshirt round your shoulders when it hits sixty.

This is a message for my fellow girls if you are scared, if you are sad, if you are worried about backlash after abuse and if you don’t want to name names – then don’t. You call it out wherever you see fit but your story is YOURS. You have been through enough and it’s the job of those who are stronger to fight when you cannot. You don’t have to feel guilty because someone else might be hurt, that is not your job. Your job is to find a safe and peaceful recovery. Your story, your body and your vagina is YOURS to do with what YOU choose and you do NOT have to apologise for that.

There is so much to fight for in this world but I will do it on MY terms. Have I been harassed in the Scottish Parliament? Yes. Have I been harassed at NLC? Absolutely but I will not put myself under any pressure to share that with anyone other than those who I see fit. It’s not my job to make lecherous men behave. I will not be scared of a backlash. I will not be dictated to. I have fear but I am strong. I sometimes feel alone but I’m not lonely. It’s my body. It’s my vagina. It’s my story; and I will not apologise to anyone.

Note* this was in the Sunday herald and not the mail as the tweet says

She is not a number. She is Charlie.

I wake up all too often these days and see newspaper stories of trans kids. Children plastered across the front of a paper with the single purpose of making sales, and making money.

What’s my Charlie?

She isn’t one of a growing number of trans cases. She isn’t a statistic in your papers. She isn’t a prize to be discussed or a story to be told. She isn’t a case to be studied, or a prop in a some sort of drama. She isn’t weird or part of a media circus; she isn’t a subject on display. She isn’t a child on the verge of meltdown, or person in the wrong body. She isn’t to be feared, not to be dismissed. She isn’t scared of change, and she isn’t scared to be her.

What is my Charlie?

She is part of a growing number of children who are free to be themselves. She’s part of a generation who are being fierce and bold. She telling her own story, the way it should be told. She is her own wee person and her soul is more precious than most. She is brave, kind and courageous; and she is as stubborn as a mule. She’s funny, she’s quirky, she’s spoiled and cute. She’s only just a child who is perfect beyond all words. She has a fantastic body, it’s hers and it’s unique. She just needs a little adjustment.

She is a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a cousin, a niece, a daughter and she is mine. So dear newspapers be careful what you say, these children have a force behind them…

Do not be scared of my Charlie. She isn’t infectious, although I wish everything about her courage was. Do not be afraid of what you read in the papers “sex change clinics” don’t exist. These trans men and women want exactly the same as you. They just want to be free.

I will celebrate the growing number of children being themselves, they are ferociously brave in a world which is so outrageously cruel. We tell our children always to be their own person and never to conform, then we must stand by that.

Charlie isn’t perfect but she is perfect to me.

Breakups and Brexit

Every time I speak to Italians they ask me about Brexit and why we want to leave. I quickly and firmly tell them that Scotland doesn’t want to go anywhere. I’m like a freshly dumped woman “we had a great relationship… I wish this never happened…. don’t forget us”.

While I was out of the country I managed to stream in question time and as usual Brexit was a highly debated topic. One of the questions that got me was “should we have another referendum?” And that’s when I started to think that Brexit was becoming a bit like a romantic break up.

I think most people who’ve broken up with someone, will at some point in their life regret one of those breakups. I once broke up with a guy who’d just driven to Calais and back in one day for me because I felt he was a little immature. Yes because you see I’m pretty perfect, not. That man now lives in Dubai, has a lovely life, a good job and a partner who he’s taking care of. Regrets see, awful things. There’s also the breakups which have come along suddenly, when they’ve been in the heat of an argument and I’ve cried and begged said lover to come back, seen the error of my ways, deeply sorry etc. We all need that little fright now and again to remind us of what we had. I’m starting to think the Brexit vote has been a huge unromantic shock to our nation.

The brexiteers promised us a green land with lots of money. It was plastered on a big bus, money for the NHS they said, no more immigrants they nastily sneered. People were catapulted into the dream of more money and more self control. That’s what the single life promise me, wrong, it was all a lie. The grass isn’t greener, it’s scorched and dusty; with the tumbleweed of failure all around; Brexit that is, single life is marginally ok. None of the UK lead politicians have a clue, it looks like there will be less money in the pocket of an average family, the migrant population fill a vast skills gap, the pound is a stable as Mays government and this country is the laughing stock of the EU; and that’s only the tip of the nightmare. The UK leaving the EU is such an acrimonious divorce it makes even the most publicised Hollywood split look idyllic.

I think the British public should be allowed to ask for another chance. They should be like me when I dumped my high school sweetheart for not being exciting enough. They should be allowed to reconsider. Someone once said that if we had referendums all the time we would never get anything done, but politics isn’t stagnant; we have general elections every five years “yes I liked you, I thought you were the right man for me but now it’s just not working”. People should be allowed to change their mind when they are armed with the facts.

May and her cronies are making a right arse of Brexit but Nicola Sturgeon is like “relate” giving good council and showing us how a good relationship can work. The British public have all the facts now, mainly the fact that Brexit is an omnisbambles and it’s time they were allowed to say…. I’m sorry, I want you back, we can make this work!