Week Fourteen

Hoorayyy. As week fourteen draws to a close I cannot help smiling. I’m off to see my Dad and my sister as soon as I’ve hit publish and I’m so looking forward to a roast dinner.

It’s been a busy few weeks and I’ve made so many amazing memories. In the true spirit of chapter five, I’ve chucked myself head first into everything!

Since I last wrote, I’ve been to see George Ezra at the O2. HE WAS AMAZING. I’ve been to a 1920s themed Speakeasy Festival in a big old house in Cardiff and then literally walked down memory lane, towards the city centre, bare foot, with my heels in my hands. I went along to see one of my best friends perform with her fabulous Technicolor choir and enjoyed a good boogie with her and the choir afterwards. I’ve had numerous pub lunches and dinner dates (my favourite things). I went along to a uni friend’s hen do and partied two nights in a row. TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW I TELL YOU. (And I was exhausted come Sunday… how my 18 year old self ever coped with freshers I will never know.)

Most of these things were in the diary and in the approach to all this craziness I felt apprehensive. I wasn’t certain I was in the right frame of mind. There’s still lots going on that I can’t share with you all and I’m still spending a lot of time feeling the impact of it all. I’m so glad I pushed through though. I could easily have opted for a night in my PJs or a day with my head in a book. But as much as I love nights in and book worm days, sometimes getting out of the house and spending time making brilliant memories with amazing friends is what’s going to get you through.

These few weeks have been about me remembering that you can allow yourself to get out and enjoy yourself, without feeling guilty for ignoring the stuff you’re feeling sad about. In fact, it’s really important to compartmentalise. We all need to remember that. Being able to go out and enjoy yourself doesn’t mean you don’t care enough: You’re not ignoring things, you’re just putting them to the back of your mind when you need to. Because parts of your life can be fantastic while others fall apart. That’s just how it goes. And if you try to feel everything, all the time, sooner or later you’ll explode.

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. 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 and 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 and this was it bursting out. I was exasperated by the fact I still felt anxious when the past couple of weeks had been so truly amazing and rationally, I knew I should be so calm and happy.

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. I felt like if I didn’t get it out of my had by talking about it to someone, I would be giving the feelings more power over me and they would become too much for me to handle. 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 practising 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. A half hour after they’d convinced me to try putting the phone down and getting on with my day, I had pretty much decided that I was going to carry on feeling helpless and I’d just call The Samaritans every day for the rest of my life so that they could get me through it.

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 then, I feel stronger than ever. 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. They’re not all in schools. I’m applying for all kinds of things, because saving money for my masters feels like the priority now.

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 lucky 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.

My cousin’s blog post:

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

The Mindfulness video I used:

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

Busy is Best

When I woke up Tuesday morning it was still dark. I felt like I should be jumping on an aeroplane and heading somewhere exciting, jumping behind the steering wheel of my car and driving across the country or just retreating under the duvet until the sun decided to put his hat on. In reality I’d set myself an early alarm so I would have enough time to wash my hair and get organised before my two hour lecture and my work induction. Being me, I still didn’t have enough time and I spent the morning running around like a headless chicken. The induction at work was almost a complete disaster, but I made it through and back out the shop with The Entertainer uniform in hand and rumbles in my tummy. I gave into temptation and dropped into Gregg’s, browsed all the shelves trying to convince myself to be experimental and try something new and then ordered my usual. (“A sausage, bean and cheese melt and a piece of Rocky Road, please?”) I had an amazingly productive afternoon, Chinese went really well, yet another walk home was filled with mine and my flatmates Chinese conversation and then I got an early night.

Wednesday was just as busy and just as amazing. I got up early, although it wasn’t dark this time. Had time for a cup of tea before leaving for lectures. Managed to enjoy lectures. Had an amazing lunch. Spent half the afternoon singing, first at choir and then in a practice room. Flopped in my flat mate’s room for hours while she baked bread (Inspired by the Great British Bake Off). Had a beautiful beef casserole dinner. Puzzled over more articles on the T’i-yung dichotomy in China. Went to a choir social at a pub five minutes walk from my front door and met lovely new people. Bought Chinese take away and curled up with my flatmates in the lounge, sharing jokes until the early hours of the morning.

I never thought I’d say it, but I think early mornings are the way forward. I’ve been up since eight today as well and I’ve been so productive that every part of me is buzzing. Laying in bed for hours every morning just leaves me feeling tired, smelly and lazy. Being busy is best. Goodbye wasted mornings.