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 Fifteen

I’m wearing my sunny day t-shirt (under my biggest fluffy jumper because it’s chilly despite the sunshine) with my oldest, comfiest jeans. I’m munching on Bitsa Wispa in an attempt to satisfy the sweet tooth I’ve woken up with. I’m smiling because sunny Sundays are my favourite thing and I’ve already had three cups of tea today.

This week’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as scared as I was when I woke up Wednesday morning to take on one of my biggest challenges at work. One of my biggest challenges at work, in the midst of all the challenges going on outside of work. Understandably I think, I’d been feeling nauseous for days in the build up and I’ve never been so exhausted as when the day drew to a close. I tumbled into bed without even taking a moment to think about how things had gone.

When I woke up on Thursday, I was still tired and had made the mistake of scheduling in a working from home day, thinking I’d need time to unwind. Turns out, a whole day in on my own was not what I needed. I felt lost and sad and lonely and I knew Wednesday had gone well, but I couldn’t feel happy about it.

Friday, I was buzzing. A challenging week at work had been a huge success and after another night’s sleep I was actually feeling restored enough to enjoy it and let the pride kick in. I AM SO PROUD. It also helped that I was back in the office, surrounded by people, with a to do list as long as my arm.

Yesterday was a good day all in all. I was super excited about the fact Dave and I had no plans this weekend and I could do what I liked. We watched movies, I read my book. Late in the afternoon, Dave and I went to the shop to get some beers in time for the football and then… I spent a good chunk of the evening crying my heart out! Just like that, it came out of nowhere and Dave and I ended up on a late night walk talking everything through. I went to sleep still trying to process everything and then I woke up this morning to find life didn’t seem nearly as bad again and cooked a fry-up with a massive smile on my face.

All of that said, perhaps emotional roller-coaster doesn’t quite cover it!?

Today I genuinely feel fine. I’m looking forward to date night with Dave tonight. We’re off to see Captain Marvel and we’ll probably grab dinner first. Where we’re going for dinner is yet to be decided. Best get our thinking caps on now or we’ll be overwhelmed by the choice later.

So relieved that we’re on the approach to the next bank holiday of the year. A couple of four day weeks in a row sounds like just the thing to me.

Life’s been full of challenges recently. I’ve been taking on new things at work. I’ve been out of my comfort zone in every day life. I’ve been rocking up to hen dos and birthday celebrations without knowing what to expect or who’s going to be attending, making new friends along the way. I’ve been making big decisions, talking about adult stuff like mortgages and my career…

I feel stronger and more terrified all at once, every day. And I feel more grateful every day. Grateful most of all for the amazing people in my life who give me the confidence I need to get up and at ’em, whatever the new day might bring.

Week Nine

Monday morning I rolled over to grab the tv remote, turned on the news and snoozed for ten minutes. I rolled out of bed and into the shower. I didn’t have time for a cuppa (because of the snooze – so worth it on a Monday morning) and I headed straight to the station once I was showered and dressed.

Pause there – I have to mention the weather.  The weather in England, was unheard of at the start of this week. In England, for three days it was t shirt weather. It was unseasonably warm and bright and sunny. The daffodils came out and everything.

Monday night, I got home, Dave and I cooked dinner together and then we watched TV until I fell asleep on him and had to go to bed.

Tuesday evening I met one of my best friends for dinner and we chatted away about books and music and exciting upcoming events (including one of our best friends’ wedding, eek!). My Gourmet Burger Kitchen burger was amazing and I journeyed home with my head in my book and smile on my face.

Wednesday was a normal working from home day. I did two loads of washing. I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen on my lunch break. I was in my element with the sun shining and the windows open and music playing. Another bud on the orchid that I have successfully grown, flowered beautifully. (Yes, I have successfully gotten an orchid to flower! Am I a real life adult now?) I played piano before dinner and then Dave and I cooked steaks and watched Oceans 8.

Thursday evening I met my sister for dinner which was super lovely. We had the best of evenings and I hope we’ll meet for dinner like that more often from now on. Sister time is golden.

Dave and I stayed at our friends’ on Friday night. They’re the best hosts ever and it was super chilled and super fun.

Saturday afternoon, once Dave and I were home, we just chillaxed. I read and snoozed on the sofa. We had chilli for dinner. We watched Goodfellas, which I totally agree is one of the best films ever. We drank wine and didn’t clock watch. I love not having to watch the clock on Friday and Saturday nights!

Right now, I’m sat on the sofa trying and failing to eat hula hoops, because I’ve put a face mask on and it’s dried too much for me to open my mouth. I woke up with a tummy full of butterflies and I felt like my head might explode. But I knew exactly what I had to do: I opened up the notes app on my phone and titled the note ‘Things that are stressing me out’. Then I wrote everything down until I felt better. I had a chat with my Dad which cheered me up no end. (Shout out to my Dad!). And now I’m committed to an afternoon of relaxation to make sure the butterflies are behind me.

I’ve always been more than happy to natter away openly about my anxiety and the challenges I am facing. The problem with writing a personal blog is that there is often stuff that happens in life that it’s not your place to share with the whole world wide web.

When I wrote at the end of Week Four, I mentioned that the year had gotten off to a tough start and I couldn’t really say anymore than that. I can’t really say anymore than that even now.

What I will say is that I’ve come to the realisation that normality is underrated and routine is not to be taken for granted. When things are ticking along just fine, we often find ourselves complaining we’re bored, but we don’t realise how lucky we are. Because when life turns upside down, you’ll find all you want is for life to go back to being boring again. 

I’m so glad March has come around. Spring in on the way and things can only get better.

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!

Putting the world to WRITEs

This blog had an about page when I first set it up. Eventually I deleted it, because I thought people would be best placed to find out about me, and about the blog, by just reading it.

In my about page I described the blog as a series of colloquial, honest diary entries. I guess that’s what they are. I’ve written in my diary since I was… well, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write in my diary. And when the idea for the blog came about, it was because I’d written a diary entry that I thought I’d like to share with the world. That diary entry became my first blog post.

I’ve always had that urge to share how I’m feeling. I remember being little and writing diary entries, then ripping out the pages and hiding them in a place where I knew my mum and dad would find them. I hoped that they would find them and read them and understand how I was feeling. I always felt like I could put stuff down better in writing.

I guess this all occurred to me today, because I woke up anxious and I’ve gone to write in my diary. I was typing away when I realised I’d written to my diary a lot recently and I hadn’t written a blog post in a long time. I sincerely hope I’m not finally going to want to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself after all of this time. I truly believe a problem shared is a problem halved and I would never encourage anyone else to keep all their feelings buried deep down inside. I hope that’s not the case and I don’t think it is.

I think it’s less about not writing here and more about writing there. In my diary, I can write the doomy gloomy stuff without worrying the people I love. Because I’m fine. There’s just some stuff that’s better off on paper, than in my head. It’s refreshing to be writing at the moment without worrying about how it’s coming across or even thinking about it. Life’s busy and time spent writing in my diary, is pretty much the only writing time I’m getting. So, it’s simply become a choice of one or the other for now.

So, here’s a kind of open and kind of honest holding post. A post to say, if you’re new here then this is what my page is all about and you’ve got some time to catch up before I carry on. A post to say, if you’ve been following my blog all this time, I will be back! And to highly recommend writing to all of you. Because writing how I’m feeling has always done wonders for me and at the moment, I don’t know what I’d do without my diary.

Another year older

I’M FEELIN’ 24.

And ‘what does 24 feel like?’ you might ask. Well, I guess I actually do feel a little older.

If I really think about it, I realise that even in the last week or so I’ve done many things a younger me would have been too scared to do. Silly things like carrying birthday cake on the tube and sorting my cars MOT out, to important things like representing my team at a work event and going on a hen do weekend without freaking out. And yes, the prospect of having to carry a birthday cake on the tube would have been absolutely terrifying to me a couple of years ago: I would have gone over and over all the ways in which carrying birthday cake could lead to disaster and probably decided I best not take the risk.

WHAT IF I WERE TO DROP IT, FALL FACE FIRST INTO IT AND SPEND THE DAY COVERED IN CHOCOLATE?

WHAT IF I GOT FUNNY LOOKS OFF FELLOW PASSENGERS?

WHAT IF I GOT ATTACKED BY HUNGRY PIGEONS?

Oh, how far I’ve come.

In some ways, I’ve barely grown up at all. I still can’t wear high heels. I’m currently listening to Avril Lavigne’s Goodbye Lullaby on vinyl. I still don’t like gin and tonic. I’m still terrified of spiders. I’ve never used an iron in my life. I still hate cooking chicken. I still hate cooking full stop.

Anyhoo, in case you can’t tell, my birthday has left me feeling reflective and reminiscent (oh my, how time is flying by). It’s also left me feeling very loved and extremely grateful. A massive thank you to everyone who posted on facebook, sent cards, celebrated with me and helped to make it so special.

The celebrations started with some awesome work colleagues and wayyy too much prosecco. I also went out for a lovely lunch with my family. I highly recommend Cote Brasserie in Chelmsford if you’re ever over that way… Superb service, lovely food and a free bottle of champagne to say Happy Birthday! My sister came into London to meet me on my lunch break on the actual day and we spent a really lovely hour up in the Sky Garden. I went for a wonderful dinner with some girl friends later in the week. AND some time soon Dave and I are going to be climbing the O2 in London which is admittedly a little nerve-racking, but VERY exciting too.

We had another bank holiday this week and I’m oh so glad. The hen do was absolutely amazing and if I’d had to go back to work on Monday I’d have been super mopey.

Instead I spent Monday sat in a park with a lovely friend I hadn’t seen in OVER THREE YEARS, in beautiful sunshine, eating ice cream and sipping coke.

When I woke up for work yesterday morning I was super sleepy. However, once I’d sat at my desk and had a cuppa, I must say I felt pretty refreshed and I’m actually quite happy to be getting stuck in again.

This Friday night I think Dave and I might finally go see Avengers: Infinity War. Saturday I’m looking forward to catching up on life admin and giving the bathroom a proper clean (see! That’s something I’d have never said two years ago). Sunday I’ll be seeing the family again, which will be lovely jubbly.

Going into my 25th year thinking, life’s not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. In a way I think I’ll never leave my younger self behind, not really. I’m always going to love Harry Potter and Disney in general. I’m always going to love cocktails and prosecco and a good boogie. And I don’t think I’ll ever really like cooking. I guess that’s where that saying comes from. The one that says you’re as young as you feel. TOO RIGHT.

To infinity and beyond

Drinking tea and hoping that with tea comes much blogspiration because I’ve no idea where to start.

If you’re a close friend of mine I’ve probably had a rant or a grumble at you this week. Its been one of them weeks. I’ve oozed negativity. So much so, when it came to yoga on Wednesday I was excited as ever, but just couldn’t get into it. I spent the whole class feeling awkward and tense. You’ll hopefully be glad to hear, that right now I’m feeling chirpy and wondering what on Earth I’ve had to moan about.

The highlight of this week has to have been my afternoon spent in London’s Sky Garden.

That’s where things started to take a turn for the better. I highly recommend a visit. It’s free of charge for starters! They advise that you book in advance to skip the queues, that’s all. London looks so beautiful from up there. It doesn’t take much to bring out the cheese ball in me and being up there definitely did. Looking out at St Paul’s through the massive glass windows I felt all gooey and happy and grateful. I remember when working in London was something I dreamed about and now, it’s my every day. Eek!

I spent Friday night celebrating a friend’s birthday at Dinerama, Shoreditch. I highly recommend a visit to Dinerama too. It was AWESOME. Converted to suit winter with a ceiling and walls and heaters, this collection of street food stands and pop up bars catered for everyone. Music, food, drink and lots of friends made for a fab atmosphere and a super chilled, very fun evening.

I guess I have to admit that it is probably no coincidence that my new found positivity arrives just after Dave and I spent a whole day together yesterday for the first time in a long time. I’ve sat in enough counselling sessions to know that your happiness should never be dependent on the presence of another human being and I’d like to think I’d have turned things around anyway, but yesterday just helped… A lot. And hey! As I get older I believe more and more that most of time, the best advise any one can give you is that you should just cut yourself some slack. If you need someone else or to be somewhere else just for a little while, to make yourself feel strong again, then sometimes you just gotta embrace it.

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!

Kind of Blue

I’m in for a quiet Friday tonight and I’m so relieved. I’m curled up all snug under a blanket. I’ve a glass of red wine on the go which is warming me from the inside out. I’ve candles lit and music playing and Dave’s said the T word. The T word being takeaway. There’s no going back now; we’ll be ordering in no time.

This week’s been a big’un. Plenty of ups and downs along the way. I am absolutely knackered tonight.

Monday morning was the worst morning. And not just cos it was a Monday. It was pouring down with rain and the train was 25 minutes late. And while I stood there on that platform, feeling miserable and defeated, I decided this week simply wasn’t going to be my week.

I know that sounds crazy. Why let a bit of rain and some train delays hold you back? I was equipped with an umbrella and a big coat so I didn’t even get that wet.

I can’t speak for everyone living with anxiety, but I know that for me personally, mornings are the hardest. I may tell you that when I’m singing or writing or doing anything I love, the butterflies go away. In reality the only time they really do go away is when I’m asleep. Leaving sleep behind is hard for most people. I’d sleep all day every day given the chance. For the first couple of hours of a day, having just mustered up the oomph to get up and at ’em, every little thing counts. A bright and funny news story can make a day. A train delay can break a week.

Monday wasn’t the only difficult morning. I hit delays on the trains again yesterday morning and then eventually my trains were cancelled all together. This morning, my rear windscreen wiper broke. Or I guess I should say, I broke it by turning it on when it was frozen stiff.

I cooked some great dinners this week though and I suddenly feel so good about this whole cooking thing that I’m thinking I might actually start using the recipe books we have had for ages but not used yet. I find cooking incredibly stressful most of the time, but I’m getting there. I’m feeling inspired by my best friend who recently moved out and who cooks simple, quick, easy, healthy meals from Joe Wick’s books almost every night and seems so happy for it.

Other highlights this week include finally getting to season nine of Friends and still not knowing any spoilers. *touches wood*, going for a wintry walk with Dave, buying a yoga mat and finally having time to paint my nails.

This evening I’m feeling super creative despite being so tired. I want to do a zillion things at once. I am so close to finishing my book. But I haven’t even made a start on the colouring in my ‘mindfulness colouring diary’. I’m also glancing longingly at the piano and ukulele every so often because as per, I just want to sing my heart out. First thing first, order food.