Category Archives: Gemma Burgess

On… The Heavy

The Heavy – How You Like Me Now?

This is the song I listen to when I’m doing my Pram Powerwalk. (Yes, I am a cliché.)

I love it. I march and scowl-pout and do an angry duck-neck thing.

Sometimes I stop and do some angry thrusts at nothing in particular.

This is an improvement on singing 50 Cent’s ‘I’m a P.I.M.P.’.

Apparently, a new mother shouting ‘You fuckin’ with me, you fuckin’ with a P.I.M.P.’ as she cruises the streets is frowned upon by society. Man, people are so uptight.

On… happiness

I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions. I mean, I know they EXIST, I just don’t bother with them. If I ever feel like I should do something or change something about my life, I usually just shut the hell up and try to do it.

But I do like thinking about happiness. I’m an annoyingly happy person. I wasn’t always, of course (being a single twentysomething working in advertising and living in a shareflat in London would try the happiness powers of the Dalai goddamn Lama), but now that I am, I sort of want everyone else to be happy too. (Wow, that sounds retarded, huh? Pretend I said it with an ironic eyeroll and a flick of an imaginary cigarette, okay? And pretend I snarled a little bit. Yeah. Just like that.)

Anyway, I read this piece on happiness on Habitually Chic, who got it from Sophie Elgort, who probably got it from someone else. And I’ve thought about it ever since – just about every single point resonated with me (though obviously my bullshitometer went off at terms like ‘flow experiences’ and ‘practice spirituality’). So, rather than resolutions, I vote we all just try to be happier. Or, we could just try to drink more. Whatever works.

12 Things Happy People Do Differently
Studies conducted by positivity psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky point to 12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness. These are things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives. (Check out her book The How of Happiness.)

1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Kinda cool right? So basically, being grateful for the goodness that is already evident in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness. And that’s without having to go out and buy anything. It makes sense. We’re gonna have a hard time ever being happy if we aren’t thankful for what we already have.

2. Cultivate optimism.
– Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.

3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be poisonous. If we’re somehow ‘better’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, it gives us an unhealthy sense of superiority. Our ego inflates – KABOOM – our inner Kanye West comes out! If we’re ‘worse’ than the person that we’re comparing ourselves to, we usually discredit the hard work that we’ve done and dismiss all the progress that we’ve made. What I’ve found is that the majority of the time this type of social comparison doesn’t stem from a healthy place. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself.

4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. (Serotonin is a substance that has TREMENDOUS health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.) Selflessly helping someone is a super powerful way to feel good inside. What’s even cooler about this kindness kick is that not only will you feel better, but so will people watching the act of kindness. How extraordinary is that? Bystanders will be blessed with a release of serotonin just by watching what’s going on. A side note is that the job of most anti-depressants is to release more serotonin. Move over Pfizer, kindness is kicking ass and taking names.

5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships. Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely? WHOA! There’s a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with. We feel connected and a part of something more meaningful than our lonesome existence.

6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘craptastic’ moments is what shapes your character. Sometimes crap happens – it’s inevitable. Forrest Gump knows the deal. It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan. It helps to have healthy strategies for coping pre-rehearsed, on-call, and in your arsenal at your disposal.

7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of hatred is horrible for your well-being. You see, your mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion. When you ‘hate’ someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system. You put yourself in a state of suckerism (technical term) and it stays with you throughout your day.

8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still. It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task. Action and awareness are merged. You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional. You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing. Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus.

9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy. It’s easy in a world of wild stimuli and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences. When we neglect to appreciate, we rob the moment of its magic. It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.

10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force. Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere. When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing. Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know part of their purpose.

11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us. We surrender the silly idea that we are the mightiest thing ever. It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Some of the most accomplished people I know feel that they’re here doing work they’re “called to do.”

12. Take care of your body. – Taking care of your body is crucial to being the happiest person you can be. If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected. Did you know that studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft? Not only that, but here’s the double whammy… Six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth.

PS Happy New Year!

On… pregnancy obsessions

Fact: Life milestones cluster.

First, everyone you know turns 21 and all you seem to do is go to 21st birthday parties every damn weekend. Then everyone moves into grubby-floored shared apartments with friends, and all you do is go to housewarming parties where someone ends up sleeping in the bathtub. Then everyone moves in with their significant other and you go to a lot of dinner parties (and eat either roast chicken or lasagne). Then everyone breaks up with said significant other, and decides they hate their career, and you all go out to bars in hope of widening the social gene pool and drinking away the worries about how much you hate your career. Then everyone gets engaged and married, all at once, so all of a sudden you spend every second of your life travelling to, shopping for and recovering from weddings.

And then everyone gets knocked up. And that’s where I am right now. It’s baby baby baby, plop plop plop. Everyone I know is clearly getting laid. A LOT. And high five to all of you for that. (You smutty little filthmongers.)

Now, some women waft through pregnancy, looking amazing and feeling fantastic, barely noticing any difference in their day to day lives. Others are slayed by nausea, exhaustion, and general aches and pains, and wake every morning wondering what fresh hell will arrive that day. I was firmly in the latter camp. And these are the items that helped me survive. So if you’re knocked up, or know someone who is, enjoy. If you’re not in this place at all, then this post will really bore you. But then again, my bourgeois analysis of the concerns of 20- to 30-something yuppies like moi was probably highly tedious too, and you clicked away on like, line three. So never mind.


If you’re plagued by nausea / vomiting / acid reflux / heartburn, nothing will taste very good for the entire nine months. On the plus side, you can impress your friends by burping like a trucker. And nothing says ‘mother’ like someone leaning over a toilet bowl for the sixteenth time that day, screaming ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ in between mouthfuls of [insert foodstuff here].

Super Lemons are a Japanese lemon-flavoured candy that are so sour they make you wince and drool and swear. They also may stop you feeling godawful for an hour or so. Apparently extra saliva helps create enzymes that relieve nausea. We ate a lot of these in Hong Kong when I was a kid (though we were not, I hasten to add, knocked up). And we liked another candy called, I think, Toxic Waste. No confirmation if Toxic Waste is good for pregnancy or not. You can usually find Super Lemon in Japanese food shops, or try Amazon or Ebay.

Next, Pink Lady Apples, cold from the fridge and sliced into 1cm rounds, also helped my nausea. I don’t know why; I’m not a nutritionist. Warning: chew them VERY well. If they come back up, apple skin will slice the shit out of your throat.

Ditto cucumber. Sliced thin, on buttered toast, with cracked pepper. If you are great with child and feel meh, try it.

For the last trimester, heartburn can be a real bitch. Sometimes it gets so bad you’ll throw up. At least, I did. Eating almonds will keep you going without feeling sick. Something to do with the alkaline/acid levels of your stomach, or some shit like that. (I’m not a doctor, either.) Man, I ate a lot of almonds. I also ate a steak sandwich cooked in butter every day for breakfast, as it was the only meal that was guaranteed not to give me heartburn. God, that was awesome. I’d love a steak sandwich right now. Let’s put a photo of a steak sandwich in, just for fun.


Of course, you can take drugs for nausea and heartburn… I tried Vitamin B6, Omeprazole, Zantac, Motilium, Gaviscon, and a bunch of other things. Tums were the most calming and the yummiest. Sometimes I’d fall asleep, sitting up (lying down makes heartburn a lot worse), with a Tums dissolving in my mouth. A few hours later, I’d wake up with heartburn again, pop another Tums, and drift back to sleep. I’d wake up with coloured spittle dried around the outside of my lips. Which means I was also probably drooling. Did I mention pregnancy was sexy? No? That’s good. Because I would have been lying.

I have a thumping great girl crush on this woman. Tara Lee. I did her pregnancy DVD every single morning from week 12 onwards, even when walking or sitting for longer than a few minutes was no longer an option (pesky back and hip problems). She’s sort of gentle and calm and kind, and so pretty, and she has a nice voice, and um, oh, she has really great hair, and oh no, am I gushing? I feel like I’m gushing… The yoga moves are very easy, and really stretch out all the muscles that are working hard to carry that 30 pounds of babygut around. All in all, it was a lovely way to start the day. By week 37, I could recite the entire thing, word-for-word, with Tara’s calm-but-wise-inflexions, including lines like ‘feel like you are doing an internal dance with your baby’, WITHOUT IRONY. More worryingly, so could Fox.

You can’t sleep on your back during pregnancy for a number of boring-but-scary reasons. This pregnancy pillow is comfy as hell and doubles as a nursing pillow once your baby arrives. My sister asked if it was from Pacha in Ibiza, and I replied ‘no, Peter Jones in Chelsea’. That kind of highlights the different stages of life we’re at right now.

Support belt. It’s ridiculous, it’s unattractive, and it’s silly. But it really helps with aches and strains you might have if you are large of bump. No, of course this photo isn’t of moi.

Lastly, a reminder of why you are enduring the hell of pregnancy in the first place. Because babies are awesome.

Errol Fletcher Barry. This morning.

On… The Afterparty

I chose this book just for the cover.

The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus.

And then I read it.

It’s brilliant.

I wish the cover for The Dating Detox looked like that, by the way. It would seem so much more appropriate, don’t you think? Only with vodka instead of whiskey, and maybe a cigarette stubbed out in it instead of a floating dude (which, by the way, I only noticed after staring at it for a very long time).

People sometimes email me asking for recommendations for books like mine. My suggestions are usually pretty useless. For one thing, I don’t read a hell of a lot of chicklit. And though I know there’s some great chicklit out there (and, of course, a lot of fluffy shit), I don’t know many chicklit books with heroines who drink and swear and screw and work hard and hope and fuck up and recover… and who are, most importantly, funny. And that’s why I started trying to write in the first place: I felt like reading something comforting-yet-sharp and nothing satisfied me.

These are the dependably satisfying reads that I usually recommend: Talli Roland’s The Hating Game, starring a hilariously strong and snarky heroine. Plum Skyes’ Berdorf Blondes always cracks me up. Jennifer Weiner and Candace Bushnell are consistently excellent (they’re bestsellers for a damn good reason…). I always enjoy Emily Giffin books, though they’re sometimes a little heavy on the concept and light on the laughs. Jilly Cooper is laugh-out-loud funny, but she writes bonkbusters and that’s not everyone’s cup of hot cha. And Helen Fielding is of course the funniest of all… but don’t we all know Bridget off by heart by now?

Anyway, read The Afterparty. It’s smart, fast and very funny.

On… just for Dubliners

Do you live in Dublin? Or know someone who does?

If so, I have ace news for you: just go to South Anne Street today, or on Saturday 26th or Sunday 27th, and visit the NOHO pop-up store, say ‘Conor sent me’ and get 20% off the cost of NOHO!

What the hell is NOHO, you ask?

Well, it’s the hangover defence to end all hangover defences.

Now, full caveat: I haven’t tried it myself (preggers + nursing = booze-free 2011 for Gemgem) but Fox has, and it really does work. Normally, his hangovers render him bedridden for at least a day, groaning piteously, begging me for toast / water / coffee / the laptop / the papers / some cola bottle candies / a head massage / anything else his poisoned liver demands. But the morning after he tried NOHO, he sprang out of bed, chipper and ready to face the day. And the man was drinking martinis, wine, and G&Ts; the night before. He’d come home at 1am, serenaded me with ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ (yep, from Three Men And A Baby), and then snored like a dinosaur bear all night. He had no business being chipper. No business at all. When I am back in the drinking saddle again, I shall be on the NOHO bus faster than you can say ‘double vodka on the rocks’.

Anyway. Here’s the stuff you need to know: it’s a little shot bottle sold in packs of two, you take one before you go out, and one before you go to sleep. There’s no sugar, no caffeine, no crazy stimulants. Just the perfect combination of vitamins and nutrients (like Ginger Root Extract and Prickly Pear Extract) that help your body break down alcohol. And dudes, I’m pretty sure it’s the real deal. NOHO is the No.1 hangover solution in the US.

And now my brother-in-law Conor is bringing it to Ireland. For Conor, being hangover-free is every Irishman’s God-given right.

For the next six weeks NOHO will be available from a pop-up store on South Anne Street, just off Grafton Street. So swing in and say hello. It’s normally €5 for two bottles, but you can get it for €4 for the next three days just by saying ‘Conor sent me’ at the check out. And €4 is, after all, less than the cost of a drink in Dublin these days. So please, check it out, and then let me know if it works for you.

Conor has a cameo in The Dating Detox, by the way, as the smart-mouthed Irishman at the country house party. When he found out I was writing a book, he asked if he could be in it, and I thought: why the devil not? (When I tell people that, they tend to ask ‘why isn’t Foxy in it?’ and Fox replies something like ‘because I am both JAKE AND ROBERT! Rolled into ONE PERFECT SPECIMAN OF MANLINESS!’ And then I reply ‘sure you are dude, whatever gets you through the night’.)

On… outfits from the past

Age four. Daisy bikini. Would totally still wear this.

Age eight. Pale pink pencil skirt, grey suede booties, hot pink sweater with a balloon appliqué. I would wear this outfit today, except for the sweater (I’m over 30; I can’t do ironic appliques). Man, I loved that skirt. My mother told me I looked like I worked in a bank. I loved that even more.

Age 12. Black opaques, DM boots (only six hole, wasn’t allowed the eight hole), seriously frayed denim shorts, oversize burgundy cardigan. I may have hit my sartorial apex at the age of 12, as this look is still pretty much perfect.

Age 14. Pale blue Levi’s 501s, oversize black belt with daisy-shaped belt buckle, white tshirt, black blazer with the sleeves pushed up, silver peace sign pendant on silver chain. Totally Cindy Crawford ya know? Also, peace signs were really big in Hong Kong in the 90s. Ditto hypercolour tshirts, high top sneakers, and enormous carryall bags made of purple and orange wool that we bought from street vendors from, I think, Nepal. Holy shit, those bags were ugly.

Age 16. Secondhand flowery tea dress with the hem cut off far higher than it should have been and a pair of huge steelcapped (no, they really were steelcapped) brown farmers boots that were two sizes too big. I bought the boots from a secondhand shop in a small country town one summer vacation, somehow got them home though they added about 5kg to my luggage and my mother had threatened me with death if I overpacked again. I wore them constantly for years, even though they were so heavy I could hardly lift my feet. I was trying to do a grunge thing, I guess. What can I say.

Age 17-20. These were my university years. My friends and I were lucky if we got out of PJs. We often didn’t. We also wore a disturbing amount of extraordinarily unattractive rugby jerseys. If one of us actually wore jeans, or – gasp – a belt – we assumed that person’s parents were taking them out for dinner or something. When I look back, I am mildly surprised any of us ever got any action at all.

What about you?