Week Twenty-Eight

WHERE IS THE YEAR GOING!?

I knew 2019 was going to be a big’un. I never could have prepared myself for how much of an uphill climb the first half of it would be. I said there was to be no stressing when my birthday party came around and I don’t want any of the amazing people who came to be disappointed or sad. I certainly don’t want my parents’ to feel like all their efforts were wasted. It was an AMAZING night! But honestly? I spent the whole thing feeling very anxious and went to bed crying at 1am because I was so frustrated that I hadn’t been able to enjoy it.

Now, here I am in July and my anxiety feels like it’s finally under control again and I’m absolutely buzzing about life! It feels like everything is coming together. A lot’s going to change over the next couple of months.

I remember New Year’s Eve 2011 very clearly. 2012 was going to be the year everything changed and I knew I wasn’t going to like it one bit. I went to bed early and when it got to midnight I cried. I was right; I didn’t enjoy the changes at all. Going off to university turned my whole world upside down. If I had known back then, that life would always be full of change and that I was just going to have to get used to it, I’m not sure what I would have done. Decided this life wasn’t for me and I was going to live under my duvet for the rest of it? Probably.

I’ve come a long way since then. I am prepared for the fact that the next couple of months may throw me off a little, but I’m also just super excited about EVERYTHING.

Where to start?

Well, today I have a jam session with my new band. YEP, MY NEW BAND. I’ve been really down about my voice ever since studying music at university if I’m honest. Being part of that music department made me feel like a very small fish in an extremely big pond and I never really shook that feeling. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that I’ve repeatedly pledged to get back into singing. I was going to join a choir or find like-minded musicians to work with, but I never kept that promise to myself. I just couldn’t seem to find the oomph.

I work with this great guy who, over the last couple of months, has gone and given me my music mojo back. He didn’t really give me a choice in the matter. He rocked up at my desk one day and told me about this new collective of musicians he was pulling together. He said it was Jazz, but not Jazz. And kinda classically influenced, but not really either. He said he thought I might fit right in and before I knew it I was at the studio with him. It took me over half an hour to sing my first note.

Now, I’m away! We’ve had our first gig and, although I was super nervous, I managed to successfully sing every note and, although I might not have sung as well as I know I can, I was so proud and happy when we finished. Mostly proud to be working with such a talented set of musicians. The guy from work’s a ridiculously talented drummer. We’re playing with an AMAZING classical guitarist and FANTASTIC saxophonist and WE ARE DAMBALLA COLLECTIVE. Plug over, but I’m so excited. Can you tell?

That aside, we’re also moving home! (Providing our references all go through fine and they decide they think we’ll be able to pay the rent each month.) We’re moving in with a friend, into a much bigger home in a lovely village with loads of pubs and a big common and it’s going to be so lovely. And best of all… I can walk to the train station… waheyyyy. No more sitting in traffic every morning!!

Anddd finally, I passed my big qualification at work and now I’m officially qualified to do what I want to do. The world is now my oyster on the career front and I’m really excited to see where work life takes me from here… That’s if I’m not too busy touring with Damballa Collective of course.

All good things.

Life’s more challenging than ever before. Particularly for a worrier like me. But I’m making sure to take deep breaths when I can and I’m taking moments here and there to make sure I’m doing okay. I am doing okay. And next week I’m off on holiday. What better way to look after one’s mental health than to spend a week in the sun, with a good book (Miles Davis’ autobiography being my current book of choice… I’m only 3 chapters in, but I am loving it!) and an amazing friend? Eeeeek!

Week Thirty

The BIG THREE O!

How far we’ve come!

And I don’t just mean this year.

In a few weeks time, we’ll be moving out of this little flat and moving into a new home. This little place we’ve called home for two and a half years, will soon be someone else’s home and we’ll be settling ourselves into a new one. I’m a little emotional about it already, can you tell?

That said, when I remember just how hard the move to this little flat really was for me, I feel as though I’ve come a long way. Chapter Three was one of the most open and honest chapters I ever wrote and it was written at a time when this place felt too new and strange and unfamiliar to be called home. Now, I’m as emotional as I am because this place really is ours.

This makes me feel all kinds of soppy and gives me hope that this time, this move, I might just be okay.

Today I’ve another jam session with the band! The novelty is never going to wear off… I am never going to be able to say that without ruining all of the coolness by squealing! I’ve got a horrid cold, so who knows how I’m going to sound, but I’m still rocking up. I feel like, worst case scenario, I can sit in the corner and munch while the rest of the guys write and play. I’ll just watch in awe and contribute when I can.

This week will be my first full week back at work after my holiday and I’m actually quite looking forward to it. As per, I’m really excited about the return to routine and all things normal.

The holiday was FANTASTIC though. I cannot recommend Kefalonia enough. The people are lovely. The food is AMAZINGGGG. The itself island is so beautiful: The towns of Fiscardo and Assos which weren’t touched by the 1953 earthquake and the cities of Sami and Argostoli which had to be rebuilt. The coast is stunning and the sea is stunning. So much so that I went for a swim! Yes, the Bronwen who is terrified of the sea and anything to do with it, wondered off the beach and right into it like it was as easy as pie! The sea looked like a swimming pool it was so clear! Who could be afraid of that!? Once was enough though, second time around my mind wandered too often to whose habitat I was in and whether I was welcome…

We stayed in Skala and I’d definitely recommend Skala too. It’s small enough that you get your bearings fast, but there are plenty of restaurants and bars and shops to grab your souvenirs in. It feels very safe and super chilled, but lively in the evenings. It’s basically the best of all worlds. We loved it.

Week Thirty-Six

Oh heyyy!

So, the house move has gone surprisingly smoothly for me. Especially considering my inability to accept change, close attachment to places and things and general emotional-ness.

I was super emotional when we eventually said goodbye to the flat, but in my defence, it had been one of those weeks anyway and I was due a good cry. Also, it was so super strange seeing the flat all naked and empty and knowing it wasn’t ours anymore.

I think what’s made the move so much easier is that our new place literally ticks all the boxes. Life’s so much easier with a washing line and a designated cupboard for bedding and towels and under bed storage and a station nearby. And the house felt so homey so quickly too! The owner has decorated it so brightly and it was funished with a few bits and pieces before we even got all of our stuff in.

And my goodness do we have a lot of stuff! How two people can own so many things and have kept them in a 1 bed flat for so long I do not know. It’s also not until you try and pack your life into boxes you realise how fragile literally everything is! From kitchenware to ornaments and frames, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of bubble wrap!

September 1st came around and the new house was sorted and the next few gigs with the band were confirmed and that autumn chill appeared from nowhere and I got my boots out andddd I saw that Primark have their Disney Christmas tinsel out already and I feel so much brighter.

THIS is hands-down the best time of year. I can’t wait for the first trees to go orange and brown and the first crisp frosty morning and the first time I get all wrapped up in a snug coat and scarf and the first hot chocolate on a chilly evening! I know September might have a few summery days left in it yet, but I live for autumn and I’m so excited!

Week Forty-One

This one’s for my Mum and her sisters, my aunties. I love you all so much.

The theme of 2019 has definitely been ups and downs. I’ve had months full of happy memories and positivity and other months that have been huge struggles. Whether it’s been my mental health getting me down or things going on at home. I don’t want to write a super gloomy post, but it’s felt like every time I was picking myself up again, something else has come along and knocked me down.

The above dedication goes out to my Mum and my aunties at a hard time for all of us. My Mum is going to be away from home for a long time and she probably won’t be home for Christmas and for me personally, worries about her and her sister and heart ache over missing her already have me feeling like the uphill climb that’s been 2019 just got steeper. But, this week, I’m reminded that life’s too short and we should be grateful for every little thing we can be.

Is it just me or, in this crazy adult life, isn’t a Saturday with no plans the best thing ever? I’m grateful for this moment right now. Sat with a cuppa, in our cosy living room, typing away to a blog I love to type away to. Dave’s stuck on a record by Greta Van Fleet and I didn’t expect to like it as much as I am. (It’s actually pretty awesome.) I’ve got Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sat next to me on the coffee table and a hot water bottle to cuddle. I’ve got candles lit and I’m wearing the cutest socks (which a group of my loveliest friends bought for me for one of my birthdays).

It’s been a mad few weeks. Between long days at work, band practice, the stuff going on with my family and the social stuff too, I’ve not done as much nothing as I’m doing today in a while.

It’s not all doom and gloom: To give you some of the highlights, since I last wrote:

Dave and I went to our nearest zoo from the new house. It’s ZSL Whipsnade and I highly recommend a visit. It turns out it’s the biggest zoo in the UK. We walked over 7 miles just wondering around and it’s great because there isn’t really any set route or paths to take. You just kinda get through the entrance and go on your own adventure. With regular pit stops for coffee and food between amazing animals, it makes for a great day. You feel like you’ve properly escaped. The animals’ enclosures are huge too and although this means you don’t necessarily get to see them all, it’s good to see that they’ve got so much space to roam. The zoo is properly focused on conservation and not just on guest satisfaction.

Dave and I also went to see Rodrigo Y Gabriella play at The Hammersmith Apollo. They were AMAZING. Such good performers and musicians and eeek. I’m a big fan!

Damballa Collective had our second gig which was at a lovely pub in Camden called The Golden Lion. I was still so ridiculously nervous and I was full of cold, but it was still great fun and I think we sounded good! We got paid in roast dinner too, which is the best thing ever.

I went along to an Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk to talk about Gifts in Wills and as ever, the event was beautiful (even on a very rainy Sunday morning) and I met so many inspirational people.

I drove up to Sheffield with my little sister to meet two of the members of one of her favourite metal bands. I’m still not convinced I’ll ever like their music, but they were really great guys and they made such a huge effort for their fans that day and it was actually a lot of fun to road trip up there together. We went to a really cool bar and I had the most amazing street food I’ve ever had.

I also met a lovely friend in Cheltenham for the day a couple of weeks back. We started with breakfast, had a stroll around the shops, saw the famous mechanical clock blow bubbles, wandered down through the parks and the older, prettier part of town and went to Cosy Club for a very yummy dinner. It was the bestest day.

I’m sure there’s other stuff I’ve forgotten too!

In summary, my heart goes out to my family, life is precious and not to be taken for granted no matter how busy and stressful it might feel at times and I’m so grateful for all the happy memories I continue to make and for today: A day of calm among the chaos.

Week Forty-Five

Wow. 45! It really will not be long at all until it’s the last week of this year and I have to come up with a new way of titling blog posts again. Christmas is just around the corner and I cannot WAIT for the festivities to begin.

I don’t want to wish the rest of the year away, but I am itching to try and sum up this chapter: A jam packed year full of ups and downs, that was nothing I expected. I had a little look back through my diary the other day and could hardly believe that this is still the same year I went to Paris and celebrated my birthday dressed as Belle.

The last few weeks have flown just as fast as the rest, being just as full with long days at work, jam sessions with the band and plans with friends and family.

I slept for the longest I have in a long time last night. I didn’t set an alarm and I didn’t get up when Dave got up or accept his offer of tea. I rolled over and I went back to sleep and I was so unconcerned with looking at the clock that I’m not even sure what time I did get up in the end.

We had a lovely friend stay the night yesterday so when I did get up the house felt super lively, which I loved. Dave, housemate Tom and our lovely friend were all cosied up in the lounge with cups of tea and music playing. They’d had chinese food last night (I was out and about in Stratford with some other lovely ladies… One of which was performing in a K-pop dance show – she SMASHED it), so we had leftovers for breakfast and it was amazing. Is it just me that thinks chinese food tastes even better reheated the next day?

Now, I’m sat on our bed with my nails freshly painted and a face mask on. I feel so happy and content with my favourite music playing. It’s also starting to get dark outside and it feels so cosy in here as a result. I think the heating just came on for the evening too. It really is the little things in life.

I made a terrible decision doing both face mask and nail paint at the same time because I’m now stuck with a red face until this polish decides to dry. I also need to get the laundry out of the machine and my tummy is rumbling… oops. For once, I couldn’t really care less though. I’m quite happy waiting, although I am looking forward to getting some jam on toast once the face mask is off.

When I realised I had no plans today, I told myself it’d be a day to look after myself. It’s done me so much good and it’s been a massive reminder that I should do this more often.

I’ve been in my head a lot recently. My thoughts have felt so loud the last few weeks. And they’ve been pretty negative. But that negativity seems to have done a runner today. Clearly all I needed to scare off the negative thoughts was a sunny Sunday morning, a lie in and some me time. I don’t know why I didn’t devote some time to this sooner.

If you’ve no plans this evening, take some time to pamper yourself. Whether you fancy it or not, you’ll feel so much better for it. And just in time for another working week. Sundays should be made for this. As well as roast dinners… of course!

 

Week Fifty-Two

As after most Christmases, the arm of the chair that I am sat in is piled high with books: The new 2020 diary I got for Christmas, Fearne Cotton’s ‘Calm’, Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (I’m on chapter 8 and loving every second), and a very thick pad titled ‘642 things to write about’ (which I cannot wait to start working my way through). The Christmas tree is twinkling away next to me and the TV is on. Three different cooking shows have been on in the time I’ve been curled up here and I am now very hungry for something yummy.

Since starting my new job at the beginning of December, life’s been a little chaotic, very stressful and also all kinds of exciting. (The lead up to Christmas was as magical as ever and although I’m nervous about my new role, I am also very excited to get stuck in.) I am so relieved to have made it into Chrimbo Limbo.

I could spend hours reflecting on 2019. I wish I could have been more prepared for everything the last year would throw my way. I spent a year in which I resolved to try and worry less and remember that these will be the good old days, worrying too much and carrying the weight of the world around with me. At the risk of sounding super gloomy, I was tired a lot and stressed a lot and sad a lot, even at times when I would have expected to feel most happy.

But I’m grateful for all the great memories I have too. Paris in the winter, Soho with one of my best friends, a trip back to the 1920s for a night in Cardiff, a holiday in Kefalonia and an escape to Happy Place Festival. Performances with the band and a move into a new home. A visit to Casino Royale and many a laugh at Tim Minchin live.

And I am looking forward to 2020. It’s strange, but I almost feel like a year full of so much worry has led to me finally feeling like I am capable of worrying less. This year, big stuff came our way and for once in my life, the majority of my anxiety was actually rational; the butterflies made sense.

Now, I feel like I might be more determined than ever before, not to let the small stuff stress me out.

I’m taking 2020 as it comes. I’m expecting a year much like this one, except this time I feel much better prepared. Ups and downs are a way of life and it’s like I’ve learned to surf the waves finally. Or I hope I have. Now, that’s a very Bronwen-esque metaphor if ever there was one and I guess that’s a wrap on Chapter Five. 52 weeks, one year and a whole load more life lessons learned.

Be back soon.