Week Six

This time one week ago, I was in Paris with one of my bestest friends. I think it was Sunday night that we spent up at Montmartre admiring Le Sacre Coeur. We found a fantastic restaurant to have dinner, where two men were playing guitars and the food was great. The French waiter convinced me to order the ‘good wine’ for an extra four euro and he was EXTREMELY peeved when my friend wouldn’t be so easily swayed.

We had a lovely time in Paris. I had received mixed reviews in the lead up to our trip. It seems people either love it or hate it. I loved it. I can’t wait to go back already. We stayed in Bastille (which I would highly recommend doing) and, for three nights, were in a brilliant area full of lively bars and restaurants, cute cafes and amazing bakeries. I didn’t buy macaroons to bring home; I felt like they should be saved for Paris. I regret my decision already. I MISS MACAROONS. (I know I could probably find them in London, but it just wouldn’t be the same!)

We drank plenty of wine and ate cheese and meats and crepes and macaroons galore. One delicacy we didn’t brave was the snails. Did we miss out? My sister would tell me we did, but I really don’t think I could have done it.

We were doing good with the French by the end of the trip too! We definitely gained confidence as we went along. At breakfast on the final day, I successfully told the waitress I’d like a coffee, but then sissied out and ordered my eggs in English. I was half way there at least! Je pense que notre francais etait tres bon!

We came back from Paris on Monday and so for me, week number six began on Tuesday. I expected work to be absolute madness (and by the end of the week it was), but I’d left things surprisingly organised and on Tuesday I was able to ease myself back in gently.

The week actually flew by and Friday came around nice and quickly.

Friday evening just gone was lovely. I spent it at a best friend’s house treating myself to a face mask and a fresh coat of paint on my nails. She cooked me an incredibly tasty chicken stir fry and we watched rubbish TV until I was too sleepy to keep my eyes open any longer.

It’s been quite a chilled weekend really. We had no plans. I’m currently working on my Level 2 assessment for my qualification and therefore have spent the majority of today with my head in a book. The best kind of Sundays are though, right? Now the sweet potato chips are in the oven, steaks are at the ready, the bottle of red wine has officially been opened and we’re going to stick a movie on.

Simply, Paris is lovely, work is mad, weekends are the bestest and let’s please not mention the New Years’ Resolutions again just yet.

Week One

I hoped I’d be writing this at 3 o clock in the afternoon, curled up with a cuppa and feeling triumphant. Instead, it’s quarter to eight, dinner is nearly ready (thank goodness) and I’m completely and utterly cream crackered.

If a little later in the day than expected, we have been triumphant. We left the flat at 8am yesterday morning, Ikea bound. We were there when it opened and we SMASHED our shop. We’ve then spent the weekend getting stuff well and truly sorted out. We did a general clear out and clean up on New Year’s Day and I thought we’d done well then. This weekend, we took clearing out and cleaning up to a whole new level.

We had the Ikea trip in the diary for a while and the shopping list had grown longer and longer. With the list at the ready, we tried our hardest not to impulse buy, but we did grab a wooden spoon, a couple of fancy hand soap holders and a mini footstool just because. And they’ve all come in really useful already, so there!

I’m super happy with our all new, organised home, but phew am I glad to have it all sorted. I wish I had another day now, just to chill and get a bit more life admin done, but I’ll just have to make the most of the next couple of hours before bed.

The week began with New Year’s Eve. I was lucky enough to be working from home; allowing me enough time to get ready and get on a train, with Dave, into London. I’ve only ever been into London once on New Year’s Eve before and even then, we steered clear of central London. This time, one of my amazing best friends had invited us into her offices near Embankment to watch the fireworks. We took wine and snacks and games and we set up in a meeting room until midnight. At midnight we headed out onto a perfectly positioned balcony where we had the BEST view of the display at the London Eye. I’m not even kidding. It was spectacular and I feel very grateful to have had the chance to experience it like that.

Getting home was a whole ‘nother adventure. It was as if the world was ending. Lots of the roads were closed, of course. There were people everywhere. There were policemen everywhere. The majority of people were just in very high spirits. There were also people fighting and falling and yelling and shoving. It was complete and utter madness. It was completely surreal. As we wondered through the streets back to the tube station, I felt very free and very scared all at the same time. It was a huge relief to be home when we eventually got here at 3:30 am… Almost as much of a relief as it was to know there was no need to set an alarm in the morning. Here’s to whoever declared New Year’s Day a bank holiday!

Despite the bank holiday, last week was extremely hard work. I feel like we can all agree on that. Going back to work after the break was harder than ever before… I’m sure of it. The clocks slowed down, I was permanently hungry (not used to keeping to mealtimes I suppose) and suddenly, when Wednesday came around, staying up past 9pm was almost impossible. Wednesday was my first day back in the office and I started off super chirpy. By the time I met a friend for lunch, I was already feeling the January blues. Then, come the evening, I was desperately trying to keep my eyes open, at the pub, with a great group of friends, drinking coca-cola. I’m desperately hoping that things will be that little bit easier tomorrow.

Only 3 months and 13 days until the next bank holiday! We’ve got this.

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!

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 (yes – if you’ve been keeping up, the enjoying cooking thing didn’t stick).

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.

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

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 the 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.

Still twenty-something, still lost, still smiling

Old habits die hard.

Life still feels as complicated as ever.

You can tell life has been a little crazy, because long gone are the days of blog posts written every Sunday without fail, always about lazy days at my parents’, roast dinners and good books and sunshine or rain.

Funnily enough, I actually did spend this Sunday just gone at my parents’. I slept in till eleven! It was amazing. My mum made me a bacon buttie and a cuppa. I nipped out to see my best friend and her other half and when I got back the whole house smelt of roast chicken and potatoes and it was glorious. I chilled with my brother and checked in with my sister. I stole a good couple of bear hugs off my dad. Before I headed home, full of food and love, I watched a kid’s film with my parents. It was raining almost the whole day which was a disappointment to my mum who’d asked me to bring my bikini in the hope we could take a dip in the paddling pool. However, I loved the fact it rained. My old home felt that much cosier because of it.

I was back in my home town because, on Saturday, some of my friends and I went to an ‘Escape Room’.

If you haven’t heard about escape rooms, I highly recommend you look them up. The one we did was super scary. ‘The Cabin’ is just off a shopping street in Southend. We were trapped with a supernatural creature, which we were told could only move in the dark. The lights went on and off through out and there were clues all over and we had one hour to banish the creature and find a way out. We failed miserably, but hellish as it sounds, it was such good fun. Not all escape rooms are scary either. For those of you who don’t know, there’s a Harry Potter themed one and one where you rob a bank! I cannot wait to try them.

The rest of that day was spent battling with wind and rain, drinking coke floats, eating them amazing donuts you always get at the seaside and playing crazy golf by the sea.

Right now I’m sat on the sofa in our flat and listening to Rag ‘n’ Bone man, whose music I love. Dave’s just got in from work and tonight we’ve nothing planned besides fighting over who gets control of the music and who gets the comfier sofa. Makes a change. We intend to make the most of the nothingness.

Life’s been the usual emotional rollercoaster and I’ve been through the normal ups and downs.

The working weeks are crazy. I’m always in a Mond-aze first thing Monday morning. I may love my job, but that doesn’t stop the return of the alarm clock being a shocker. We promise ourselves early nights from that moment on and yet every evening flies by and before we know it, we’re going to sleep much later than intended.

As time goes on, I think I’m finally beginning to realise that regardless of gender, personality, job, lifestyle, mental health, all twenty-somethings are feeling a lot of the same things. Obviously we’re all going through our own individual bits and pieces, but we’ve a lot in common with each other too.

We’re living the best years of our lives of course, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all scared and unsure. Swept up in the craziness of all that is modern day life, we’d be crazy not to feel a little bewildered.

Whenever I stop for too long to think I find myself second guessing, doubting, panicking. Good thing is, I’ve not had much time to stop at all. I do think I’m finally coming to the terms with the fact that I never feel like I’ve got both feet on the ground. These are the years to fly right? I’ll find my footing again eventually and then, I’ll just wanna be right back where I am now.

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?

Learning to be all kinds of happy

I’m sat on the sofa by the window, getting blinded by the sun, but refusing to shut it out. I’m two chapters from the end of Harry Potter so when I’m done writing, I’m finishing it. Then I’m rewarding myself with a cream egg or two before taking a deep breath and picking up the very important looking paperwork that came in the post from my new employer.

Yes, I got the job! EEEEEEEK!!

If I’m honest, at first the news left me feeling all kinds of mixed emotions.

I was happy at first, goodness I nearly cried on the phone while she was telling me the good news and I’m surprised I didn’t deafen Dave when he called to congratulate me, but then almost as fast as I’d felt happy, I felt tense and uncertain again.

I found myself trying really hard not to get overwhelmed. I couldn’t relax for days. I know now that I was so happy when she rang, but I was scared too. Not scared of starting the job, but scared of letting myself be happy about it.

That probably sounds like lunacy to some of you. I just got a job I know that I’m going to love in the city I’ve always wanted to work in. Life’s moving forwards in a brilliant way, but sometimes even the positive emotions are scary. We try to suppress them, because letting any emotion take control, even a happy one, means losing ourselves a little.

We worrier warriors spend so much of our time trying to control our emotions, trying not to let the anxiety take over, that the moment we’re given a good reason to act like the crazy, excitable, over-emotional happy person, we find it hard to go for it!

When it finally dawned on me that I had no reason to be anxious, that everything had fallen into place and that I was in fact ridiculously happy I cried, I ran around like I’d eaten too many blue smarties and I haven’t stopped smiling since.

If you’re like me and even the happy emotions seem daunting, put yourself out there next time you’re feeling good. Scream from the hill tops if you have to. Let the happy tears run wild. Don’t try to keep it in. Keeping it in never did anyone any good.

Mayhem

Our living room is SUPER cosy now. Not only do we have the house plant and the cactus and two sofas but we now have lots of cushions, one that’s particularly fluffy, and a rug and a coffee table. Right now I’m sat with a spotify playlist called ‘The Stress Buster’ playing, I have scented candles lit and I’m sipping my way through a beautiful cup of coffee. I reckon the playlist is doing its job, because I feel very chilled.

Monday was a fun-filled indoorsy day. I cleaned, I put washing on, I watched a few too many episodes of Gilmore Girls, I started trying to work out how I’m going to prove I’m competent to do the job I have an interview for and I cooked an amazing pasta dish. Pasta has become my niche. It’s even easier to cook than they say it is and it always tastes great. I wish I’d experimented more at university. Pasta bake was the extent of my knowledge. I ate a lot of pastabake.

Tuesday, I braved the Tesco Car Wash. Sounds simple, but I went all hot and clammy and breathless walking around Tesco after parking up and handing the keys over! I was so full of butterflies the whole time I did my shop and then when I eventually got back, having calmed a little, shopping in hand, to find it looking beautiful and to realise that the whole thing had been a massive success, I was so relieved. Small triumphs.

Tuesday evening we had a friend over to watch the football. We’re Manchester United supporters and therefore we were tense, stressed and frustrated for the majority of the evening. That aside, it was a good evening. We ordered an amazing Chinese takeaway and got through a few beers between us.

Yesterday three lovely friends came over to visit me for the day. We went out for lunch at Prezzo, I gave them a brief tour of Watford town centre (in all its glory), we played card games and it was great. Just to have the flat so alive with the buzz of a few more people made me smile hugely.

Today I finally went to register at a new doctor’s surgery. I’ve been putting it off because as per, I was super scared. Also as per, all was plain and simple, the ladies behind reception were nice and I had nothing to worry about.

This afternoon I went shopping for interview clothes and smart shoes. I spent two stressful hours checking every shop twice and still coming out empty handed. Suddenly, walking around the shops in a flustered mess, this interview felt terrifyingly close. I got home, reminded myself to breathe, made myself a cuppa and within ten minutes had ordered everything I wanted online. Why is it I never think to online shop right away? Need to get with the times.

Now I’m about to pick up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Every time I finish a serious book off the shelf, I’m rewarding myself by reading a Harry Potter. They break it up a bit. They’re such good reads and when I picked up the first one a few months ago, it had been a very long time since my dad read them to me as bedtime stories. It’s about time I rediscovered them in all their wonder.

The last time my anxiety was exacerbated by a big change, it took a lot of adjusting for me to get to a point where I felt like I could live freely again. Perhaps it’s cos I’m older and wiser, perhaps it’s because I have Dave or perhaps it’s actually because this time I’ve been open about how I’m feeling, but I already feel like I’m doing better. Perhaps writing Chapter three is doing more good than I know. Whatever the reason, the way I was feeling when I wrote ‘Mind over Matter’ is a mystery to me now and I feel like I’ve come a long way in a few weeks. I hope this positive attitude is here to stay.