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 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.

Happy

MORNING. Now, I don’t want to rub it in, but… Oh stuff it! My weekend starts here. Hooray!

I really should not be blogging. My auntie will be here at midday and I’ve so much life admin to complete before she gets here. The flat’s a little messy, should probably do a quick clean up. Oh. And laundry… Must clean clothes or will have nothing to wear when Monday comes around again.

I woke up feeling all gooey and happy and inspired this morning and that hasn’t happened for a long time. Most likely this is because I am oh so excited for my long weekend. I’m catching up with my auntie. We’re off to Cardiff. I’m seeing Passenger play at the Welsh Millennium Centre. Dave and I are heading back to Chelmsford on Saturday. On Sunday I get to have my first Mummy Maggs roast dinner in a long time and treat my dad to gifts and hugs for Father’s Day.

It could also be that Dave and I had a particularly lovely evening together yesterday.

It could be that I’m getting into my stride a little more at work. I’m not letting it stress me out so much and I’m learning to remember that I’m a human and not a machine and there’s only so much I can do in a day. About time eh?

It could be that I went on a glorious spa day with one of my besties on Sunday. My goodness it was exactly what we both needed!

We headed to Imagine Spa in King’s Lynn. The treatments were wonderful. We had a mud chamber treatment which was really good fun as well as being relaxing and detoxing and all that jazz. The relaxation room was the perfect escape and there was a lovely pool and jacuzzi.

It was almost perfect. Almost, but for two things. It was very small andddd they didn’t sell any food! None at all. We had been prewarned by a friend who’d been before so we made sure we had plenty of breakfast. But when we left at three, having been there since half nine, we were oh so hungry!

It could be that when I woke up randomly at quarter past six this morning and got up to close the bedroom window, a peep outside at the early morning, coupled with the smell of early morning fresh air took me straight back to a particularly wonderful early morning my sister and I had a while back now. We were in the Caribbean celebrating my dad’s 50th birthday and we snuck out down to the beach early to see the sunrise and I hadn’t thought about it in a long time but I’m realising now that it may be one of my happiest, most treasured memories.

I remember trying to read through Fearne Cotton’s ‘Happy’ when I was having a particularly hard time of it (maybe about a year ago now) and getting to a page that asked you to list 5 of your worst memories and 5 of your best. I remember it taking me all of a minute to think of the negative stuff… To remember the bad times. I wrote them down one by one, getting more emotional all the time. It then took me a very long time to remember some happy times. I know it sounds crazy. Perhaps it was because I’d listed the bad things first and got too caught up. Trying desperately to remember the good times, I just got more and more upset. I remember getting annoyed at Fearne too. Thinking that the task she set was clearly just too hard and had just brought me down. Sadly, I never wrote my happy memories down and I never picked the book up again.

I’ve always firmly believed that dwelling on the past just brings you down. I’ve always loved to quote that line from Lion King that Pumba says that always makes me chuckle.

“YOU GOTTA PUT YOUR BEHIIIIND IN THE PAST”

It’s true to an extent. But what about all the happy memories we leave behind!? I think it’s about time I started remembering them all again. Maybe I’ll start a scrapbook or a photo album containing my happiest memories. Maybe I’ll pick up ‘Happy’ and get reading again.

Hey! I had no idea this post would bring me to such a meaningful conclusion. Perhaps I should write first thing in the morning more often! Since remembering that beautiful morning in the Caribbean, I can’t stop thinking of more and more magical, happy memories. Its as if a switch has flicked and they’ve all come flooding back at once.

What an amazing way to begin a weekend that will hopefully be filled with more happy memories to add to the collection.

Let the good times roll.

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, but I now feel like a complete wally. From an outside perspective, looking back, life’s been simple all along really.

I have got to stop over-complicating things! (As if it’s that easy)

Everyday’s an adventure

My first few weeks at the new job were great. Unsurprisingly, life just got better when I wasn’t stuck in the flat all day everyday. As you’ll know if you read the last post, I adjusted super fast to the new pace of life. Once I was on a roll I just kept rolling. I still love my job. The people I work with are lovely. I love the work we do. I love how much my brain hurts at the end of a day and how much time I get to read now I’m a commuter.

Just over a week ago, I got back after an incredible two weeks spent travelling Europe with one of my best friends. I can’t even begin to tell you what a great time we had. From walking miles through cities and mountains, to boogy-ing the night away with new friends from all over the world, it was literally one amazing day after another.

Now it’s back to every day life, but it doesn’t feel everyday. Everyday feels like an adventure somehow. I’m getting the bus every day this week, for example, because something’s wrong with the suspension on my old little car. This is an adventure in itself. Today the moody bus driver tried to tell me off for not signalling him right. I put one hand up and waved and he nearly drove straight past. He stopped a little past me, in the middle of the road so I had to walk tentatively up to the doors. He opened them, but only to say ‘You waving at me!?’ whilst imitating my wave like it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever seen accompanied by a fake cheesy smile and everything. He wasn’t very happy, but he let me on in the end at least.

Right now I’m sat on my bed with the balcony doors as wide open as they can be and the heat from the laptop is still almost unbearable. I’m not complaining though. I feel like I’m still on holiday in this weather. Passenger is playing from my Spotify, unsurprisingly. I’m about to pick up the book I’m currently reading, which I think I might finish tonight and I can’t stop admiring the bedroom carpet which I hoovered for the first time since we moved in. It’s the little things eh?

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?

I ended the school term on a high – my position at the school having come to an end. On my last day, everyone wished me well and said they hoped I’d pop by from time to time and that I’d stick with it, no-matter how long it takes. I’ve learned so much from my months there. Becoming a music therapist won’t be easy and it may be way in my future yet, but I’ve found a real passion and for that, I am 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.

Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move mountains

Today is my grandad’s and my sister’s birthday. I love birthdays. Waking up this morning and jumping out of bed to give them my birthday wishes made me so happy. I love how everyone comes together too. My grandparents were here for the weekend and my brother came home too. My sister’s friends popped ’round with presents, we had bacon sandwiches, looked through old photos for memories sake and then I had to get off to work.

I’ve been at work for most of the afternoon so I’m now feasting on left over birthday cake and drinking the last of the red wine. Did feel a little down about the fact I had to work, but all in all I think it’s worked out okay: I got home in time to see them blow out their birthday candles and it seems to me the two of them have had really lovely days. Well deserved too!

It’s been another long and busy week. Not all work this week though. Managed to fit in an afternoon with the Alzheimer’s Society, an evening with Dave and a couple of evenings with friends. Spent Thursday night drinking cocktails which made a very nice change from carrying them on trays.

Can’t quite believe how quickly Christmas is coming up. Going to have to start making some time for Christmas shopping too. Can definitely tell winter is on the way. I’ve attached the fur back onto the hood of my coat, my scarf rack is out from behind the cupboard and so are my winter boots.

Another busy week ahead, for now I’m just looking forward to an early night. Bed’s going to feel amazing – it always does when you’re tired, especially when you’ve had a glass of wine.

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 and 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.

September already, say what?

Seriously, where did the summer go!? It’s raining, I’m wearing socks and a cardigan, I feel the sudden urge to light candles again, I used my umbrella last night, help!

You know what? No need to panic. September is a funny kind of month. It might be raining now, but the sun could reappear at any point. I betcha I’ll just get used to grabbing a jacket on the way out of the house and suddenly it’ll be my sunglasses I need again. Britain is the king of mini heat waves.

For the whole of my life so far September has been a fresh start. It’s like the new year, except it’s only applicable to those still in education. New teachers, new classes, brand new exercise books, new homework diaries, new everything.

It seems that if you decide to work in education, when you finish education, the same still applies. I just can’t shake the feeling that a new chapter is beginning. I’m sad that summer is over, but also a little excited about the prospect of a new school year.

I’ve got a job on the horizon at another school for children with special educational needs, one a little closer to home and one where I hope to explore the music therapy avenue a little more.

Until that job begins, I’m going to get back into volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society. I went into the office to get all signed up again this week and I loved it. If Alzheimer’s Society could afford to pay me to do what I do as a volunteer, I’d do it for the rest of my life. I’m grateful I have some time to help again, before getting back to work.

Right now though, I’m sat on my bed, an old One Republic tune just shuffled its way into my speakers and I’m feeling sleepy. I’m wondering whether to read a new book or just carry on watching Homeland on Netflix. Reading might just make me want to nap, but watching Netflix always turns my brain to mush. Sometimes it’s hard being lazy. I know I’ll be dreaming of days like this in a month or two. Must enjoy it while it lasts. Lazy Sundays are tradition after all.

Spoiled Rotten

My alarm went off at 6am on the day of our flight. I was already packed. Packing took me an entire day, but that’s another story. We got a taxi bus to the airport, got there in perfect time, hopped on the plane and we were off. It was one of them huge planes designed only for long flights like ours and for once, I didn’t panic after take off. I actually quite enjoyed the plane food too. Good news all round.

When we got to our hotel in the Caribbean, I was stunned. I’d never seen anything like it.

This summer, my family and I spent two amazing weeks at a huge resort celebrating my Dad’s 50th birthday. We were spoiled rotten with two pools, a section of the beach, on-site restaurants, a HUGE buffet, a gym, a coffee shop, need I go on? I don’t recall ever having felt so relaxed! It was beautiful.

Now, I’m home again and I’m still not sure where I’m going from here, but I don’t really mind. Okay okay, I say that now… I had a teeny tiny wobble when I got home. I’d allowed myself to forget all about real life and came back down to Earth with a bit of a crash. Since then though, I’ve met up with friends, been to a sixtieth birthday party where drinks were served in teacups and headed into London to see a hilarious show. I’m trying to keep my head up, remind myself constantly that everything is going to be okay, and that I don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. It’s still summer and I’ve still time. I think this afternoon I’ll write a pro/con list, that always helps.