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.

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 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!

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.

Time flies when you’re having fun

Last time I wrote I was going Christmas shopping and now Christmas has been and gone and a new year has begun. Can you believe it?

Christmas was amazing. Somehow, I got three days in a row off of work!! The school term had finished, of course, but I’d fully expected the restaurant to pile on the shifts. I ended another school term on a high. On my last day at the school everyone wished me well and said they hoped to see me again soon. I’ve learned so much from my months there and I’m so grateful.

Over the Christmas holidays, I’ve seen so much of my family and friends. I’ve eaten so much good food and I’ve received so many wonderful gifts. I couldn’t be more grateful or anymore filled with joy. I was working last night when the clocks struck midnight and 2017 began but it was still a surprisingly good start to the year: My manager bought bubbly and we all had a glass when the time came.

Every year I claim I don’t care. New year’s day? Just another day innit? Really I’m so excited. I love a fresh start. I’m a sucker for a new years resolution. I love opening up a new calender and starting a new diary. I’ve three diaries this year. One wonderfully ordinary. One beautiful travel journal. And the last is a journal of 365 acts of bravery. ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’.  That’s what it says. It’s filled with motivational quotes and in the front it says that the challenge is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. What’s not to love!?

The journal was a Christmas gift and is the inspiration for my earlier post ‘Fried egg in a bacon sandwich’ and my New Year’s resolution. I don’t know what this year is going to bring. Whatever the year throws at me, I’m going to be more daring. Say yes more. It’s going to be great. This year’s my year for being brave again.

I’m not sure what I’ve done today that was daring. Perhaps my brave act for today is still to come. What I can tell you is that the quote in my diary for today is…

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” I like it. We all ought to stick our necks out a little more often.

IT’S CHRISTMASSSS

I’m sat in the lounge drinking tea. I’m surrounded by Christmas decorations. Can’t help smiling. The fireplace is cluttered with ornamental robins, Santas and snowmen and candles. The darker it gets outside, the brighter the lights on the tree and in the window shine. The whole room just looks so cheerful.

I had a piano lesson this afternoon. It’s been nearly five years since I gave up on my grade 5 and decided to focus on my singing. Now that I’m making money again I figure I can afford to allocate funds to getting back on the music band wagon. I’m so excited to be getting back into it again. The lesson was amazing… Just like back in the good old days: I’ve even got a practice diary.

Had a singing lesson last week too! There’s a strong possibility I’m going to be singing in concerts come April next year and as nervous as the thought of that makes me, it’ll be so good to be performing again. It’ll force me into singing more. In the new year I’m going to pledge to set aside time for music and I’m really going to. I know I say it all the time, but there really is no better cure for butterflies and I need to take advantage of it. I spent just one hour at that piano today and I feel so much better for it.

I’ve one day off this week and it’s tomorrow. I’m going Christmas shopping with one of my best friends and I am so looking forward to it. She’s studying in Cambridge so it’s a chance to get away for the day as well. It’ll be a day full of laughter I’m sure. We both shop alike, so even though we’ve both got loads of presents to buy, it should be a stress free day. We’ll stop for plenty of tea and cake I’m sure. We’re going to need it.

Still working lots. If you spoke to any of my friends they’d probably tell you I’m a tired mess, but I’m not. I enjoy a grumble over how much work I’m doing and how my feet permanently hurt and how my body clock can’t work out when to sleep and when to wake up anymore, but really, I’m doing alright. I still fit down time in here and there.

Life goes on. It’s the most wonderful time of year and so far, I’m still loving hearing the Christmas songs everywhere I go.

Smiling like a fool

I’m finally home.

My last two days in Cardiff before Christmas were so much better than I expected. I was expecting to simply spend them at the flat, by myself, working my last couple of shifts and watching the clock tick by. BUT my amazing flatmate stuck around an extra day after her last shift at her work (I’m not the only one juggling a job and a degree you see) to keep me company… We spent Christmas eve’s eve curled up with wine and chocolates, watching a film, exchanging presents and then talking until the early hours of the morning.

Christmas eve wasn’t far from perfect. I succeeded in getting out of bed, despite the late night, and had breakfast with her before she headed out to get her train home. Then I finished packing, got ready and headed into work for my final shift. Work was the same as always, except for the fact I didn’t start till ten, we were all in comic Christmas costumes and there were ridiculous amounts of staff room snacks.

My dad and sister met me at the flat after my shift. The drive home was so exciting I’m surprised I didn’t cry. Instead I just sat there smiling hugely and constantly reminding my dad and my little sister that I was ridiculously happy. I got home, stole hugs, went to bed and before I knew it, it was Christmas day.

Christmas day was overwhelming. I’d only just got home, before I was jumping in the car and heading to my grandparents home. I ate so much food I’m surprised I didn’t explode. I nearly overheated in a house full of radiators that felt like an oven in comparison to my student flat. I saw my grand parents and the entirety of my dad’s side of the family all at once, when I’d only just gotten used to having my immediate family around again. I got loads of lovely presents and woke up boxing day morning to find myself out on a walk in the country side (which I think I had forgotten existed).

Since then I’ve been unpacking, getting organised, working out how to make the most of three weeks at home and worrying about how I’m going to get all my uni work done. Today, I stopped worrying and I spent a whole day doing nothing for the first time in a long time. Having been on an amazing night out last night, I spent the morning in bed… Then a few hours after that curled up on the sofa, cautiously eating dry toast and tomato soup, wondering if a hang over was going to hit me any time soon. Now I’m sat, having finally showered at five in the evening, wearing my onesie, singing along to my iTunes library, waiting for roast dinner to be cooked and smiling like a fool.

My New Years Resolutions are sorted. I’ve thrown out all the clothes I don’t want anymore and I’m buying new ones in the sales tomorrow. All I need to do now is decide what I’m going to say when I get to the hairdressers tomorrow morning, sit down in the chair and he asks me how I want my hair.

Being me, I’ll consider cutting it all off, I’ll wonder if it’s about time I dyed it a crazy colour, I’ll tell myself I should try something new for the new year then I’ll decide I’d like it just the way it is, but just slightly shorter please.

Part time Sale Assistant, full time student

The first week that I had to juggle lectures and work shifts I spent so focused on getting to where I needed to be that, once I’d got there, I forgot to enjoy myself. Then, when I got back home I felt like I’d done everything I needed to do: I found food, cooked it, ate it, collapsed in bed and normally very quickly, fell asleep. Perhaps I did need sleep and perhaps I had done all I needed to do, but my first Sunday free of work or lectures was spent reminding myself what it was I wanted to do. I realised the bits of university life I loved and still love most are the night clubbing, book reading, essay writing (yes, even that), music studying, opera singing, film watching, friend seeing, takeaway eating bits. Even if it’d only been a week I realised I’d missed that.

So, at the risk of becoming very slightly sleep deprived, I rediscovered my evenings. Week two, I got back in from work or from lectures, ate food and then spent the evenings doing what ever it was I wanted to do. Whether that was to head to an awesome friend’s house and eat pizza, get distracted by social networks/YouTube videos and get some of my music essay written, head to a night club, or curl up in pyjamas with my head in a book to cover the history reading for my next seminar. Late nights and early mornings are just about manageable when I can guarantee myself a ridiculously long lay in on a Sunday morning.

The week just gone was the most hectic week so far. Right now I’m trying desperately not to wish the rest of the year away but very much looking forward to working my last shift Christmas eve.

I’m trying to stay positive, but this is more testing than I could have known. I feel like my heart never stops beating too fast and the butterflies are back with a vengeance and that maybe this job wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Powering through. Now the countdown to Christmas has begun I’ve a feeling things are going to get a little easier. I’m glad I’m making the time for the things I love at least. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

Hippo-size and Happy

I should be the size of a hippo after eating everything I’ve eaten this week. I blame Papa Johns for tempting me with their 99p offer Tuesday night and Just Eat for making it so easy to order Chinese take away when you get home late on a Wednesday evening. My comfort food has become the occasional piece of healthy food I eat. The orange I ate after my Chinese takeaway for example, was so beautiful I think the vitamin C loving bits of me jumped for joy.

On Sunday night, this week terrified me. Now I’m sat on my bed, thinking about what I’m going to wear out tonight, surrounded by laundry that I discovered dries quickly hanging from the open sky lights in my room, procrastinating expertly and wondering what all the fuss was about. I’ve spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa drinking tea, reading the book on British History that I have become slightly addicted to and feeling productive despite the fact the book I was supposed to read today was based on the Dreyfus Affair in France.

I didn’t get into either the Opera or the Operatic Society concert. The audition went surprisingly well considering how ill I’d felt the day before. Expecting it to be a complete disaster I was pleased when I left and I had managed to at least sing the whole piece. Monday evening, after the audition when I met one of my best friends for coffee, I was feeling positive. Aside from managing to sing my piece, I’d spent a few hours in the library covering the reading for the lecture Tuesday morning and I’d been to my first music lecture of the year with out freaking out.

Tuesday, I think, was the best day. I may have had to get up at 7:30 for a lecture that exhausted my brain because it lasted an hour and a half, but I finished the day with 99 pence meat feast pizza, my first Chinese class and a night out. Chinese was brilliant. By the end of the lesson I was ridiculously excited about the fact I could say Chinese numbers 1-10, say hello, goodbye and thank you, tell someone my name is Bronwen and I am British and ask their name and nationality in return. Me and my flatmate spent the entirety of the walk home having the same conversation in Chinese over and over again. The night out was good, as they always seem to be, but the early start had got the better of me and I was home and tucked up in bed by two in the morning with McDonald’s chicken nuggets in my belly and a whopping great smile on my face.

After my lecture Wednesday morning (which i was very happy I made it out of bed and in to) I went job hunting again. When I went to hand a CV into The Entertainer Toy Shop they wouldn’t take it. They said they had finished hiring for the Christmas period already, but told me to wait a moment so they could double check. I ended up in a group interview for two hours having much more fun than I would have expected to have in an interview. I was completely unprepared, but the staff all seemed friendly and welcoming and the spontaneity of it all meant my butterflies didn’t make even a brief appearance. They said they’d call me on Friday if they wanted me to attend the Christmas meeting and work with them over the season and on Friday I got a call. If everything goes well at the meeting I can consider myself employed. I am trying me very hardest not to jinx things by mentioning how excited I am about the idea of working at a Toy Shop over Christmas helping children choose what they want from Santa, but I AM SO EXCITED. Yes, Santa is real.

The rest of the week has been just as amazing. I had a lecture on Chinese history which I know I’m going to become geekishly interested in. I wore my jelly bean wellies out the house and successfully resisted the urge to jump in puddles or sing ‘Singing in the Rain’ whilst spinning my umbrella. I planned on heading out last night but at the last minute chose to curl up with chicken, chips, an awesome friend and a disney movie instead of heading to the club. Tonight I am going out and I’ve spent so long trying to decide what to wear that I’m starting to wonder if I actually own nice clothes. Tomorrow I’m spending the day with my head in a book again, hopefully the right one this time.

I’m not an opera star just yet, but I am a Toy Shop sales assistant and I have conquered a week of lectures and loved it. I’m a happy Bronwen.