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 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 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 Four

Week four of 2019 began, for all of us, with Blue Monday. On Blue Monday, I felt surprisingly yellowI spent the tube journey smiling to myself like a fool. I was determined not to let the whole ‘Blue Monday’ label convince me that it was going to be a difficult day. After all, I did a little bit of research and it turns out that Blue Monday is a term which was created by a holiday company just to sell trips abroad! I’d had a wonderful weekend with a lovely friend and it’d left me feeling refreshed and determined. I’d decided this week was my do-over. Chapter five, take two.

It’s been a tough start to the year, for reasons I can’t really share with the world wide web. This was the first week I was back to some kind of normality again. This week, I had to go back to answering the question ‘How are you?’ without crying. In the end, this week was definitely a week for cutting myself some slack and giving myself a pat on the back for the little things I did better. Tough start to the year or not, I think we should all get better at rewarding ourselves for the small, everyday successes. Life’s not easy, even at the best of times…

Tuesday I worked from home, caught up on some studying, got myself organised for the rest of the week and made a sandwich for lunch on Wednesday. (making the sandwich was a step in the right direction sure, but it took all of two minutes, which did cause me to question why I ever spend money on lunch and can’t seem to make time to simply butter some bread and stick some ham on it every evening).

On Wednesday morning the butterflies woke up when I did and I wanted to hide away at home and go back to sleep. I perked myself up, kicked myself into action and that night, spent a lovely evening with a group of friends at an amazing italian restaurant called Pasta Brown. It’s in Covent Garden and if you haven’t been and you can go, you should. I had the Penne Pasta Brown and a slice of chocolate fudge cake and left very full and very happy. So full and happy that I fell asleep at 9:30pm, shortly after getting home.

The week soon came to an end and it’s been a chilled weekend thank goodness. Yesterday morning’s lie-in made me feel brand new. I left bed to grab tea, breakfast and my book. I then sat with the tv on (Saturday Kitchen made good background) and read, in bed, until lunch time.  In the afternoon Dave and I headed into London to meet two friends for a drink and a bite to eat. We hadn’t seen them in FOREVER and it was super lovely to catch up.

I was up reading late last night and indulged in another glorious lie-in this morning. I’m now nearly half way through Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and I am COMPLETELY hooked. It’s amazing.

Now Week Four’s nearly over and I’m just pleased I got up and at ’em every day and I was organised for once.

Dave and I are headed back to Chelmsford for the day today. Roast dinner at my mum and dad’s and over to see his parents’ too. I love Sundays.

2019 is just beginning. Plenty of time for resolutions yet.

Week Zero

I’m curled up on the sofa at my parents’ and I’ve spent the whole day in my PJs. The Christmas tree is twinkling and the living room is super cosy.

It’s odd isn’t it? This week between Christmas and New Year. No-one knows which day of the week it is. Our New Year’s resolutions don’t need putting into action until January 1st so we’re all in limbo.

Some people strip the decorations down, find places for all their gifts and spring clean a few months early. Other people cling onto Christmas for as long as humanely possible; cooking turkey everything, leaving the decorations up, watching Christmas films, eating chocolate and being extremely lazy. Others among us sit in traffic and battle the crowds to browse the sale racks for bargains. I myself fully intend to treat myself to some new jeans, that don’t have holes in, asap. Many of us have family and friends to visit and find ourselves doing the rounds. The parents among you have to find ways to entertain the kids until the school term starts again. I do not envy you. Some of you have had to go back to work already. Ugh. Poor you guys.

New Year’s Resolutions are a funny thing. Why do we feel we need to improve ourselves every year? Why are we so hard on ourselves and why should this year be any different from the last anyway?

Ridiculously, I always imagine I’ll have sooooo much more time when the new year begins. For example, this year I’m telling myself that I’ll join a couple of fitness classes, sing more, join a choir, find a rehearsal space for songwriting, make my lunch and take it into work every day, study, get out more, stay on top of the laundry and cook proper meals. I’m resolving to do all of these things despite the fact that I struggled through November and December barely finding the time to buy Christmas presents or paint my nails. Supposedly, in January, anything is possible. No wonder we all end up feeling sad and deflated when the 1st Feb comes around.

I also want to worry less. How I’ll manage that with so many goals to achieve, who knows? Most of all, I just want to worry less about what other people are thinking. I cannot read minds, so why do I waste so much time trying to? What even is the point? It’s irrational and oh, who am I kidding?

These will be the good old days. Regardless of whether I worry too much or I make time for all of the above, I want to remember that. I want to remember to make the most of every moment because time is flying by.

HELLO CHAPTER FIVE!

Proud

Another post already!? Can you believe it?

I remember when I went through a phase of wishing and hoping and dreaming of my blog becoming a massive hit and me being given my own column in a hugely famous magazine. I went and read all these posts from other bloggers about how to gain a following and how to keep them captivated.

Keeping your followers captivated. Rule number one. Write consistently and frequently. One day, the same day, every week or something like that. Every day if possible.

My inspiration comes and goes. My blogspiration comes at the most random times and goes again in a flash! I admire all of the bloggers and writers out there that have deadlines and meet them. I honestly don’t know if I could ever actually write in such a regulated way and I suppose I’m just grateful for the small following I do have.

Right now I feel blogspired because I’m ill and mopey and yet I just stuck some music on, grabbed my book, got tea and within a few minutes, perked myself right up! I just caught myself smiling and I felt this overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness.

My throat hurts and I’ve got a cough. Isn’t that just the most annoying combination!?Apparently this is the week everyone gets sick. Monday was National Sickie Day. Unfairly named I’d say, seeing as the vast majority of people probably are genuinely ill and are not just faking it. After all, we’ve been cold for too long. We need spring.

I tell you what though… Dave’s been nagging me to have Lemon and Ginger tea when I’m full of cold for years and I don’t like lemon so I’ve been ignoring him. Until today that is. Today I’m drinking Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger and Honey tea and my goodness he was right all along! The ultimate cold buster. It’s a shame he’s not here to tell me he told me so.

Smiling goofily at my laptop right now’s got me thinking, it really is the little things in life. What makes you feel proud might seem to someone else not to be an accomplishment at all. But that’s why we should never ever compare ourselves to others. I think that’s why I wanted to write. Just to say I’m proud. And you should be too, of whatever little thing you’ve overcome today.

Today, I feel proud because I’m home alone and I’m unwell and I’ve no idea what I’m cooking for dinner and usually my butterflies would be fluttering, but instead I’m smiling. Hooray to that!

Mayhem

Our living room is SUPER cosy now. Not only do we have the house plant and the cactus and two sofas but we now have lots of cushions, one that’s particularly fluffy, and a rug and a coffee table. Right now I’m sat with a spotify playlist called ‘The Stress Buster’ playing, I have scented candles lit and I’m sipping my way through a beautiful cup of coffee. I reckon the playlist is doing its job because I feel very chilled.

Life’s thrown a few lemons our way over the last couple of weeks or so, but there is much lemonade to be made as we move forwards.

With everything in the flat finally exactly how we want it, its time to start living.

This week has quite literally flown by.

Monday was a fun-filled indoorsy day. I cleaned, I put washing on, I watched a few too many episodes of Gilmore Girls, I started trying to work out how I’m going to prove I’m competent to do the job I have an interview for, I cooked an amazing pasta dish. Pasta has become my niche. It’s even easier to cook than they say it is and it always tastes great. I wish I’d experimented more at university. Pasta bake was the extent of my knowledge. I ate a lot of pastabake.

Tuesday I braved the Tesco Car Wash. Sounds simple, but I went all hot and clammy and breathless walking around Tesco after parking up and handing the keys over. I don’t know what I was terrified of exactly, but I was. Anyway, when I got back, having calmed a little, shopping in hand, to find it looking beautiful and to realise that the whole thing had been a massive success, I was proud and happy. Small triumphs.

Tuesday evening we had a friend over to watch the football. We’re Manchester United supporters and therefore we were tense, stressed and frustrated for the majority of the evening. That aside, it was a good evening. We ordered an amazing Chinese takeaway and got through a few beers between us.

Yesterday three lovely friends came over to visit me for the day. We went out for lunch at Prezzo, I gave them a brief tour of Watford town centre (in all its glory), we played card games and it was great. Just to have the flat so alive with the buzz of a few more people made me smile hugely.

Today I finally went to register at a new doctor’s surgery. I’ve been putting it off because as per, I was super scared. Also as per, all was plain and simple, the ladies behind reception were nice and I had nothing to worry about.

This afternoon I went shopping for interview clothes and smart shoes. I spent two stressful hours checking every shop twice and still coming out empty handed. Suddenly, walking around the shops in a flustered mess, this interview felt terrifyingly close. I got home, reminded myself to breathe, made myself a cuppa and within ten minutes had ordered everything I wanted online. Why is it I never think to online shop right away? Need to get with the times.

Now we’re here and I’m about to pick up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Every time I finish a serious book off the shelf, I’m rewarding myself by reading a Harry Potter. They break it up a bit. They’re such good reads and when I picked up the first one a few months ago, it had been a very long time since my dad read them to me as bedtime stories. It’s about time I rediscovered them in all their wonder.

Honestly? I reckon every week’s been just like this one. I haven’t ever been short of plans and every week has been filled with small triumphs just like the visit to the car wash. I feel like I’ve just gone into this week with a whole new attitude. I’m seeing things differently.

I feel like I’ve hit fast forward. The last time my anxiety was exacerbated by a big change, it took a lot of adjusting for me to get to a point where I felt like I could live freely again. Perhaps it’s cos I’m older and wiser, perhaps it’s because I have Dave or perhaps it’s actually because this time I’ve been open about how I’m feeling. Perhaps writing Chapter three is doing more good than I know. Whatever the reason, the way I was feeling when I wrote ‘Mind over Matter’ is a mystery to me now and I feel like I’ve come a long way in a few weeks. I hope this positive attitude is here to stay because I’m certainly happier for it.

Mind over matter

Recently, my beautiful cousin wrote a blog on mindfulness. (It’s well worth a read and the link is at the bottom of this post. I’ve also included the link to a mindfulness meditation video which helped me heaps.) And I mention it because even more recently I discovered just how practicing mindfulness can help. In the spirit of being honest, when I first read my cousin’s post I underestimated mindfulness. I didn’t think it was for me. I thought meditation was a thing I’d struggle with in many ways. Then, one down day last week left me feeling particularly shaken.

I truly believed that I’d hit the bottom. Considering how well things were going, I can’t quite believe how pessimistic I felt. I was tired of being anxious and I wanted to give up and I felt hopeless and I was convinced that every day of the rest of my life, I’d be miserable. I’ve felt all of this before, but this time the thoughts were scarier, more consuming. Perhaps all of the anxiety I’d been feeling over the last couple of weeks had been smothered in a way, by all the good stuff I was feeling. Then it burst out. I was exasperated by the fact I still felt anxious when the past couple of weeks had been so truly amazing.

In the end I rang The Samaritans and they stayed on the phone until I was out the other side. I didn’t call them because I believed I might kill myself. I called them because I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling rationally and I didn’t want to panic family and friends BUT I felt like if I didn’t get it out, talk about it, I would be giving the feelings more power over me. The Samaritans were amazing and if you ever need them, you can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123.

24 hours was all it took before I was practicing mindfulness on my bedroom floor for the first time and feeling like I could go on. I hadn’t truly felt like I was in control again since the phone call. I had pretty much decided that I was going to carry on feeling that way and I’d just call The Samaritans every time I felt like that for the rest of my life. Laying flat on my back, on the floor, listening to a mindfulness video, I discovered the power of being in the moment and coming to the realisation that we have power over our minds, not the other way ’round. It honestly took ten minutes of being mindful for me to believe in myself again. Since, I feel stronger than ever. I highly recommend it. I only wish I’d believed enough to try it sooner.

What’s also amazing is that once I’d been mindful I finally felt I could tell people around me how I’d felt. I told Dave, I told my brother, I took control back and I moved onwards and upwards.

Right now, I’m sat on an actual sofa (because we have one actual sofa now) and I’m looking at our beautiful living room (that now has house plants in it, including a wonderful cactus called Patrick) and I’m smiling hugely even though it’s all grey and gloomy outside. These last two weeks have been far from miserable. Believe it or not despite my emotional all over the place-ness, they’ve been great.

I’ve applied for lots of jobs and despite having heard nothing yet, am still feeling determined.

I’ve started writing my first ever song and I’ve been keeping up the piano practice.

I finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I thoroughly enjoyed it… It made my heart sing.

I bought a foot stool and can now reach the top of my new wardrobe.

I’m getting to know the new area. I’ve been ’round to the local shops and been into town a few times now and it feels more like home every day.

We’ve had more wonderful friends over to visit. Two brought flowers with them. One brought Christmas crackers along because why not? One brought yorkshire puddings and helped us to make our first flat Roast which came out really well! I feel more blessed every day to have the friends I do.

Dave and I have been out for dinner and been to the cinema, been record shopping together and we’ve started working through the list of films we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and without setting off anyone’s cheese allergies I have to honestly say how lovely it is to be in the same place and actually be able to spend time together and do actual couple things. So yeah, he hasn’t driven me crazy yet, but watch this space I guess.

One film we watched was ‘Hidden Figures’, which I have to give a special mention to before I go. It is simply phenomenal. I cannot believe that I did not already know the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson and I’m so glad I do now. The film is eye-opening, uplifting and inspirational. Watch it whenever you get the chance.

http://speakingtheunspokenword.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/be-mindful-about-your-mind.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_yaNFSYao

To New Beginnings

This year was for being daring, right?

I put an offer down on a flat with Dave, we got it, I handed in my notice at work, two weeks later we’ve got the keys and I’m moving to Watford!

I’m moving into a new flat, in a new town, finding a new job and I’m going to be living like a real-life adult! Call me irresponsible but I ran out of reasons not to go for it and so I did, I said yes and I couldn’t be happier.

Saying that, I’m currently sat in the middle of my floor, staring at my wardrobe and willing the clothes to fold and pack themselves. This leaving home malarky is as stressful as it is exciting and it is very exciting! Perhaps packing clothes can wait for now. With the help of my mum and a good friend I’ve made a lot of progress today anyway!

I hate to say it, but I think that’s a wrap on chapter two. No sad faces here though, this ending is the start of an exciting new beginning. Next time I write I should be in the flat! I’m smiling hugely just at the thought of it. Chapter three begins soon. Bring it on.

8 Life Lessons I’ve learned from working two jobs

Okay, I know I’m not an expert and I haven’t been doing this two job thing very long at all BUT I’m feeling philosophical so humour me and let me put my life guru hat on just for this evening?

One – Live in the moment. I’m sure you’ve heard it said before and believe me I know it’s easier said than done. Seeing as over-thinking is in my anxious nature and planning ahead is all that normally keeps me sane, I always brushed living day by day off as impossible. HOWEVER, my rota changes every week now and life’s so much simpler. I have to live life week to week, I simply can’t plan ahead and I’m actually happier because of it. Believe me, it’s the best way to live. If you’ve gotta pencil stuff in your diary, do so, but don’t think on it anymore than that. Taking life as it comes, I’m making better use of my free time too because I don’t know when my next day off will be or when I’ll next have time to get stuff done.

That brings me to number two…

Continue reading “8 Life Lessons I’ve learned from working two jobs”