Until further notice

I’m the happiest of Bronwens today. Autumn simply is the second most wonderful time of year (Christmas being the most wonderful time of the year, of course) and I’m so happy it is here.

What’s not to love? Good TV. Jumper weather. Beautiful crisp colourful leaves. Monthly reasons to get together with friends and family and have a good time in the form of Halloween and Bonfire night and Christmas (oops I said it again). Yes, it’s too soon to talk about Christmas, I know, but we all know that really that build up starts here. HOW EXCITING!

Time is flying by. I can barely remember what happened two days ago, let alone what happened in the time since I last wrote so bear with me.

Tuesday night just gone, Dave and I went to see Foo Fighters at the O2 and it was unforgettable! My goodness what a night. If I didn’t already think they were an incredible band, I do now. They are mind blowing. They all have such presence! They’re all so talented and they’re innovative too. They’re growing all the time. They’re concert was the perfect mix of old and new and even featured Rick Astley! In the flesh. Singing ‘Never gonna give you up’. No word of a lie.

Work is great. Absolutely love it, but love to hate it too. Love to hate it first thing on a Monday morning and during the 2-3pm daily slump.

In fact, speaking of work, I helped out at a couple of Alzheimer’s Society’s memory walks this month and I’m so glad I did. I was so overwhelmed. I attended the Watford walk first. The event site was at the bottom of a hill and we’d barely finished setting up before people started emerging over the top in blue memory walk t-shirt after t-shirt. They all looked amazing and even more so when they eventually headed off on the walk itself. I had a lump in my throat for the duration of both events. So many people and each one there for the same incredible cause and all with names and pictures on their back. All remembering someone. It was simply amazing.

Today I have no plans and it is glorious. I do not remember the last time I had no plans. I’m making the most of it. I’ve had a lay-in. I had a pinterest binge. I’ve painted my nails. I’ve had a cooked breakfast. I’m blogging. I’m calm and balanced and happy and all things bright and beautiful.

Now, big news. I’ve had an epiphany and I’ve got a kind of a plan for the future, dare I say it.

Leaving my parents’ home and moving out. Moving away from my home town and starting a new job. It did all throw me off balance just a little bit. I’ve been tumbling through. And, hey! I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with tumbling through, but for the first time in my twenties so far, I kind of know where I’m going. Or where I want to go. I think. And it feels FAB.

The wonderful thing is that for now, I think that for starters, I wanna stay exactly where I am. I’ve always been a floater, thrived off change. I get bored quickly, but as much as the change does good things for the part of me that is always seeking the new and exciting, each and every change drives the butterflies in my tummy into flutters.

I feel very lucky to be where I am right now and I know that with enough determination, I can get to where I want to be, starting from right here. I don’t need to jump head first into another deep sea full of unknowns and drag my mental health down again with me.

For a little while I’m just doing more of the same. And I’m so excited for all of the joys staying put will bring.

After that? These lips are sealed I’m afraid. Until further notice.

It’s complicated

We, people in general, tend to overcomplicate things. Life’s fairly simple when you think about it. We’re born. Some things go wrong and some things go right. Some of us are lucky and some of us are incredibly unlucky. Some people like us and some people don’t. We make friends and we lose them. Then at some point it all has to end and most of the time people are sad to see other people go, regardless of what we may have done or not done, because at the end of the day the loss of life is simply sad.

This isn’t coming from a place of complete randomness. Life has felt overwhelmingly complicated recently.

When I nipped quickly into the Paperchase at London Euston a couple of weeks ago to grab a diary because things were a little crazy and I needed to keep track, I was just excited to be back from travelling, to be rolling on with work and to have so many fantastic plans ahead.

This week I’ve done nothing but wish life was simpler. I’ve felt like I’m losing track. Suddenly work feels like my whole life and as much as I love my job, I can’t help freaking out about all the important things I don’t have time for. The days haven’t felt as long as they did in the beginning and there’s not enough time and everything’s been a muddle.

Then out of nowhere, today has been simple.

I simply slept for as long as I needed and then rolled out of bed at 11am.

Dave cooked a not so simple, very impressive breakfast but I helped where I could and sipped tea when I couldn’t.

I sat outside and read my book and then I got too hot and moved indoors. Then I convinced Dave to walk round to McDonald’s with me and we bought McFlurrys.

We don’t feel like cooking, so we’re simply ordering in.

I feel like today has done me the world of good. Stepping out of the craziness of it all for just a little while has put my feet back on the ground again. I feel like I’d been swept up in a flurry of madness and now I’m back on solid ground.

Not only does this remind me of the value of slowing down once in a while, I now feel like a complete wally. From and outside perspective, looking back, life’s been simple really.

I have got to stop over-complicating things!

Let go of the familiar and embrace the new

I was super happy and excited but goodness I was nervous. A small part of me was just rationally worrying about the new job itself. Whether I’d be able to do it, whether the people would be as nice as I hoped, whether I’d impress like I wanted to.

I was also having nightmares about being late on my first day. Nightmares that varied from stressfully realistic and scarily weird. I had one in which I kept trying to get through doorways but random people in my life would be standing in them telling me it wasn’t safe and by the end I was shouting (luckily just in the dream) at the top of my lungs that they had to get out of my way because I had to get to work! You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure out I was very scared I’d be late.

Most of me was simply just terrified about the change from unemployment to employment. Even with 7 days a week free to do as I pleased I felt like time was going too fast and there was never enough of it. How would I cope? How would I find time to do the things I love? How would I keep in contact with all of my friends and family? How would I sleep and eat enough? How would I live!?

Commuting for the first time was a strange experience. When I walked onto the station platform singing quietly to myself at 8am, I felt like I was walking into a school assembly late. Everyone looked miserable. Everyone was sat or stood in silence. Everyone seemed to glare at me as I walked past. Pretty girls looked me up and down like I didn’t belong.

Of course, half the issue was that I was so tense and uncomfortable. The minute I walked onto that platform I forgot all about where I was headed. All I knew was that I felt small and unsure and this was all new and I wasn’t sure I liked it and a big part of me wanted to run back home to bed. I was more nervous than I knew and it didn’t take much to knock me off balance.

However, from the moment I got to work onwards, my first day ROCKED. Everyone I met was super lovely. I really enjoyed the work I did and the more I found out about my role the more I knew I was going to love it. My team took me out for lunch.

There came a point when I realised where I was, both physically and just in life and suddenly a big goofy smile spread from cheek to cheek. I was in my favourite city, working in one of them fancy office buildings, wearing fancy office clothes and doing a job I already took pride in and loved. This change didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t go through a period of adaptation. Maybe you aren’t supposed to. Maybe the reason I’ve struggled with change so much in life is because I’ve always had too much time to think about it. This time was like no other. I’m not being dramatic. Literally, one minute I was panicking. I felt like I was spiralling, losing control, time was running away with me. The next minute I realised I was calm and I settled into the swing of things and before long it was like nothing had changed at all.

I’m another 5 commutes down now and its not strange anymore. If the pretty girls are still looking me up and down I’m not seeing them because I’m too happy and confident to notice. Or my head is in my book which I’ve already mastered the art of reading wherever I am.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve just been through a change. 3 days into the job and everything is second nature. It honestly feels like I’ve been doing this for years and that is strange and wonderful all at once. Life never fails to amaze me.

10 interview tips

I’m no expert, but I spent a lot of time surfing the internet in search of interview help before I went along to my first one yesterday. I was a nervous wreck of course and it would have really helped to have some comforting advice all in one place. Some of these things I found out and knew before I went, some I wish I knew, either way, I’m glad to know them now and to be able to share the knowledge.

One – Remember that the person doing the interview wants nothing more than for you to succeed. If you’re perfect for the job and they can hire you, their job is done. Bear in mind they may already have a heavy work load and interviews could be keeping them away from it. They’ve advertised a role because they want to fill it and they’re probably pretty keen to fill it quickly. They need you as much as you need them. So do them a favour and be perfect.

Two – Confidence is everything. Make sure you feel confident in what you’re wearing and think the outfit through in advance. Black and white is safe, but a colour can be nice. A blazer is good. As a couple of my trusty friends told me, you can never be too smart.

Saying that, don’t try too hard and make sure you’re comfortable more than anything else. I’ve never been a make-up kind of girl, but before my interview yesterday I was so worried about looking my best, I caked it on. Then I got so ridiculously stressed over whether it looked alright, I took it all off and started all over again. In the end I went with what I’m comfortable with. A light splattering of mascara and some lip balm and I felt so much better for it. Simply stick to what you know and you’ll be fine.

Three – Reserach the company. Practice answers to all the predictable questions. Particularly: Why do you think we should hire you for this job? What do you think we are looking for? Tell us a little about yourself? Whether you have a friend or loved one who has the patience to listen or not. Sit in front of a mirror if you have to. Practice until talking about yourself feels completely natural.

Four – Be Prepared. Take a bottle of water. Plan your journey, work out your travel time and leave extra early. Take tissues. Take a pad and pen. Have contact details for the person interviewing you in case you get delayed. Know who you’re calling when the interview is over to debrief.

Five – Expect the worst. If your ideal interviewer is a man, imagine it’s going to be a woman. If you hope the interview doesn’t involve any practical aspects, presume it will. Make sure when you get there, you’re ready for anything and you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.

You probably will be. My interview yesterday was really enjoyable. No-one ever tells you that if you’re interviewing for a position that you actually really want, you’re actually very likely to enjoy meeting the people, seeing the office and getting a glimpse into what could be your future. So get excited, not just nervous.

Six- Remember to ask questions. This isn’t just an opportunity for them to figure out if they want you. It’s a chance for you to decide if you really want the job too. Be sure to get a feel for the surroundings, the people and the working environment.

Seven – Reread the application you submitted before you go. Remind yourself who you are on paper. Remind yourself of everything you’ve learned from every job you’ve ever had. Remind yourself what you did and didn’t include. Pick holes in your history as if you are the interviewer. Try to figure out where the holes are and come up with excuses for things they might question… Low A Level Grades, 3 months out of work etc.

Eight – Be ready to show them that you are the person specified. Save a copy of the Job Description before the closing date because there is a high risk of them taking the online vacancy down afterwards and removing any trace of the job description with it. This is bad because you want to be able to reread the person specification before interview and ensure that you fit. Have examples of times when you have done exactly what they say they want you to of done. If they say they want you to be organised, make sure you can think of an example of a time when your organisation really paid off. Also, use the job description for interview clues. They’re likely to base their questions around it.

Nine – Remember you’re only human and they know that. Don’t freak out if you can’t do everything they said they want you to be able to do and if you aren’t everything they said they want you to be. Be aware of the things that might hold you back at interview, but don’t be discouraged by them. Be ready to recognize your faults at interview and show a keenness to improve, challenge yourself and learn new things.

Ten – Believe in yourself. You’re going to have to talk a lot about what you’re good at and how amazing you are. If you don’t believe it, they never will. Hold your head up, smile and be proud.

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

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”

Monday’s the new Sunday

Sun’s shining. I slept in until 10. I’m still in my pyjamas. I’ve done my washing and tidied my room. Other than that, I spent the morning lounging in bed reading and I’ve spent the majority of this afternoon watching The Walking Dead. There’s no roast dinner cooking. That’s the only way I know it’s not Sunday. Just cooked myself up some pasta though and although it’s nothing in comparison, it is pretty yummy.

Life’s a little crazy. Last week, my only day off was Thursday and this week I don’t have a day off. I’m back at the restaurant waitressing tonight and the days that I’m not there this week, I’ll be at the school. The days are merging into one. Weekends are a thing of the past. First week spent properly working two jobs and for now I’m feeling positive. I’m not grumbling! I’m happily busy and whenever I do get a moment to chill I’m making the most of it.

Working at the restaurant is great fun. There’s a real team spirit and no matter how much I complain about my feet hurting, I really enjoy myself while I’m there. There’s so much to think about, I don’t dwell on anything else either.

I’m so excited about getting back into the school this week too! I enjoyed my last week there so much and hope it’ll get better and better moving forwards. With half term behind us, I’m looking forward to the lead up to Christmas too.

For a while there I thought I was crazy to take on more work; I wasn’t sure if taking a waitressing position was at all the right thing to do. I’m an easily stressed person, creating an easily stressful life for myself BUT I am glad I applied and so glad they hired me. I stand by the fact when it comes to life, there is not right or wrong thing to do. It’s all a matter of trial and error. I tried and I’m a happy bunny and happy is all I really ever want to be. No stressed face yet. Here’s hoping the smile sticks.

The Common Cold. Cough, Sniff, Sneeze, Repeat.

Last week was great. Exhausting, but great. I was at the restaurant all day every day except Thursday, training along side a really lovely team of people who I already feel like I can be my weird and wonderful self around. I still can’t carry plates or trays confidently, but hey, everyone else seems confident I’ll get there. I hope they’re right. That aside, all’s well and I can’t wait to get stuck in again this week. Friday night we went out as a staff team and all had such a good time. I’m so excited for the restaurant opening. As well as a little nervous, of course.

Thursday, Dave and I and his family went to see Manchester United play at Old Trafford. They played much better than they did against Chelsea today, thank goodness. It was a really great match, well worth the trek up there and back. We won 4-1 and a couple of the goals were absolutely brilliant!

Yesterday was a lovely day. I caught up with one of my best friends over coffee. We had fish and chips from the chip shop for dinner. I watched Strictly live, for what will probably be the last time this year. (Saturday nights will be spent in the restaurant from now on.) Dave came over later on. We stuck Bicentennial Man on my TV, managed about ten minutes and then fell asleep.

All that’s great and wonderful aside, I’ve got the worst of colds and I feel very sorry for myself. My head literally feels the size of Jupiter. Seeing as, for the near future, I’m going to be working in a school and a busy restaurant, I’ve a feeling I need to get used to fighting off the common cold. Problem is, every time I have a cold I’m convinced it’s the worst one I’ve ever had.

This one is the worst. Honest. The pile of tissues next to my laptop is pretty sizeable. All day I’ve been devoted to mission 101; get rid of cold before training week number two. I’ve drunk lots of coffee, water and orange juice and I’ve eaten and eaten and eaten. Here’s hoping I’ve done enough.

The only way is up

I’m in the kitchen with my mum. Bacon’s in the frying pan, I’ve got a cup of tea in hand, I’m a happy bunny. I’m wearing my roughest jeans and a hoodie and I’ve definitely got that Sunday feeling.

Work last week was better than I ever could have imagined. I went back into the school on Monday a nervous wreck of a Bronwen, but when I left that afternoon I’d found my confidence again. Honestly, just like that. It was like something clicked and I finally got over the fact it was all new and it started to feel familiar. Nothing’s more comforting than familiarity.

I knew I was comfortable when I found myself singing everywhere I went.

This week’s my training week at the restaurant and I’m so excited! Will be great to meet everyone more than anything. Feels so productive to be working again.

This evening I’m off out for a curry with some old friends from school. My brother’s home from uni this weekend and I’m stealing as many hugs off him as possible before he leaves again. My mum’s still promised me a teeny tiny roast at lunch time. (Can’t ruin my curry but don’t wanna miss out on roast either. Especially when roast lunch is going to be a whole family occasion.)

My mum found out she’s finally got the job of her dreams this week. She’s wanted to be a LSA for as long as I can remember, but she’s had the worst luck. I was so happy when she told me that this time, the position is hers.

I’m more addicted to The Walking Dead than ever, so studying has kind of gone out of the window. In a way though, I felt like I was studying all week at the school. At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I couldn’t help thinking about the ways Music Therapy could be applied everywhere I went.

The butterflies only flutter occasionally now as if to remind me they’re still there, but they’re manageable. Peace has been restored. Everything is on the up.

Inhale confidence, exhale doubt

It’s Sunday. Dave’s popped home again. We’re sat watching the football having had the yummiest and biggest of full Englishes this morning. The sun’s shining, but it is really chilly so I’m curled up on the sofa under a blanket. It’s October! Can you believe it? Time’s flying. Not going to lie, I’m excited about Christmas already.

I had three job interviews this week and they all went really well, which I guess is a really good thing. More decisions than ever to make now though. One of the interviews was for another position in a school and I’m going to work a few days there this week. Gives me time to figure out how happy it makes me and them time to figure out if they want me on board. Excited and nervous all at the same time.

It’s been a really good weekend. My mum cooked an amazing casserole on Friday evening. Friday night I was out with friends in town. Saturday morning was a lazy hazy one. I met one of my best friends for lunch once I got moving. They’ve just opened a brand new John Lewis store in the town centre and when we got there the wait for food everywhere was at least half an hour. In the end we jumped in my car, retreated back out of town and headed to the pub instead. Turns out Hunter’s Chicken is great hangover food. We went all out and ordered three courses. It was pretty wonderful.

Lacking confidence going into this week. Hoping all goes well. Just need to remember that this week could be a complete disaster and all would still be alright in the end. Can only give it my best shot and that’s what I’m going to do. Not sure even singing will make these butterflies go away.