I just don’t feel right

This will be my third try at a blog post. I’ve been trying and failing to write over the last few weeks: I had this grand idea that I’d start writing daily throughout this global pandemic. I was going to call the chapter ‘A blog a day to keep the blues at bay‘. But every time I put pen to paper (or started typing, but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as romantic does it?) I was unhappy with what came out.

I guess I wanted to try and write truthfully about how this time is making me feel, to get it off my own chest, but also in the hope that it might help someone somewhere to read that this time’s got us all feeling a bit out of sorts. If you’re feeling odd and mentally vulnerable, you’re not alone, I promise.

But whenever I tried writing I found myself trying too hard to cover all bases: To reiterate that I know there are people who this pandemic is affecting in worse ways than I can even imagine and that I know how lucky I am. And I am lucky. I’m so grateful for this beautiful, safe house and garden and the fact I can work from home and that my work is so fulfilling and that I have amazing family and friends…

I just don’t feel quite myself. My shoulders are constantly tense and my jaw too. I find myself sighing all the time and every day just feels like a bit of an uphill struggle. I’m trying so hard to be positive, but I just feel a bit down in the dumps.

I miss myself. All this time indoors is giving me heaps of thinking time and that’s what I’ve realised. I’m missing old me. I keep thinking that a younger, ‘funner’ Bronwen would have done better in this situation.

But I’m always looking back and always wanting to go back to being the person I was and today the penny has finally dropped: Looking backwards isn’t doing me any good…

When I was at university, I missed the care-free girl I left behind in Chelmsford, who loved her high school boyfriend to pieces and spent all her time singing. Nowadays, I miss University me, who wrote fun blogs and could stay up late and was more up for a good time. I bet some day, I’ll miss this me. Whoever this me is. And I’ll kick myself for all the time I spent dwelling on how a previous version of myself would have handled things. 

Yes, I’m more tired nowadays and a bit more careful, but I don’t worry any less that’s for sure. I can try and tell myself that I used to be care-free all I want, but really I’ve always been a worrier.

And so I guess it’s no wonder Covid-19 has got me feeling a bit iffy. If anything, I’d expect to be less calm than I am. I’m still getting up every day, showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I’m still eating plenty and getting out for walks and staying in touch with family and friends.

Let’s cut ourselves some slack during this time. It’s so hard when we’re constantly exposed to perfect images of how everyone else is handing things, but I for one need to remember that I’m doing okay doing what I’m doing. There is no right way to deal with a worldwide pandemic, we’re all figuring this out one day at a time. AND I’m just Bronwen. Not past Bronwen, not present Bronwen, not future Bronwen, just me. Still me… Just a little older and maybe actually a little wiser too?

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 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.

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.

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.

A trip down memory lane

My room at home has been pink and fluffy for as long as I’ve lived in it. When we moved in I was seven and I was allowed to choose just how I wanted it decorated. As a result, the top halves of my walls are covered in pink wallpaper with stars on it, the bottom halves are a deep purple. The carpet is bright red and amazingly soft. The walls are littered with photos of me in my young teens and the shelves are filled with childhood story books, teenage romcoms, fluffy pens, computer games and various ornaments picked up on monumental birthdays.

It has never really bothered me that it is so childish: There are so many memories attached to it I could never bear the thought of stripping it back and redecorating. Besides, I only live in it for a few months of the year. Sleeping in my old bunk bed isn’t much of a problem for me either, because I simply haven’t grown enough. It was yesterday, when I was sat at my desk reading for an essay on performance practice, that I suddenly felt really out of place. I suddenly felt like an adult sat in a child’s room. It didn’t feel like my room anymore. Me and my dad agreed that perhaps it’s time we thought about redoing it. I am admittedly tempted by the thought of a double bed and a bigger wardrobe.

Then, yesterday evening I went on a walk down memory lane, although in this case the lane is a bridleway that runs between the part of Chelmsford I live in and the bit next door. A group of us used to do the same walk on a couple of nights, of every week without fail. We’d walk across the bridleway so we could join the rest of our friends at a park, where we would spend hours out in the cold doing goodness knows what until curfews crept up on us and we had to head back home. The walk back used to terrify me: The bridleway would be pitch black and even if we took the road around it, there were no lampposts and we had to pass a graveyard just before we reached the end. It sounds crazy now, but when me and my friend were reminiscing last night we realised that some of our happiest memories come from evenings spent walking that walk and spending time at that park.

We chose a beautiful evening to walk the walk last night. It wasn’t even quite as scary as it used to be, because the skies were clear and the moon lit our path up remarkably bright. I still found myself gripping his arm as we passed the graveyard. When, just over a week ago, he sent me the text suggesting that once I got home, we do the walk again for old times sake, I knew I’d love it, but I could not have imagined how much. I hated it as much as I loved it. It made me miss being sixteen more than ever and it made me realise just how much everything has changed. I woke up this morning and it felt like I’d dreamed it. I’d just spent my evening sat on a swing , while the sun set, with one of my best friends, catching up on months worth of life. Then we’d walked back home in the dark, the same way we always did when we were sixteen. It was beautiful, but it made me feel so old.

I feel like an adult. For the first time ever I’ve come home to find that, actually, I feel kind of older.

Call me Indecisive, but

One minute I’m ridiculously excited over a quote from a book on an interesting historical topic or I’m so engrossed in writing the opinionated conclusion to my essay that I forget it isn’t cool to be caught enjoying coursework. The next minute I’m stood in my room singing Mozart’s Agnus Dei, loving it and deciding that singing is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Since the age of 5 I’ve been telling people I want to be an author or as I get older, a journalist: Younger Bronwen stapled pieces of A5 paper together, designed front covers in felt-tip and crayon and then wrote numerous ‘Chapter Ones’ for what she planned would be hugely successful novels. She bought note pads and then ripped out half the pages just because she decided the story she’d written inside wasn’t worthy of publishing.

When I discovered singing at the age of 9 suddenly that was all I wanted to do. One performance on stage turned into two which turned into three and before I knew it I was addicted. Performing on stage isn’t comparable to anything else I’ve done or I think, anything I will ever do. Nothing annoys me more than a frog in my throat or a cold that stops me singing. Nothing clears my head more than an hour spent at the piano singing and playing until I forget what on Earth I had to escape from in the first place. Or of course a few minutes in the spotlight scared out of my socks, but up on cloud nine.

My first meeting with my tutor this year ended with a discussion about the future; about what I planned to do when I left University and ventured out into the big wide world. I could go on to study Journalism; review musical concerts, lead political debates, write agony aunt columns. I could study Post Graduate Music at a conservatoire in the hope of becoming a professional performer. I realised just how hard the decision is going to be. For one thing I still go through days when both singing and writing are stressing me out so much that I don’t want to face either of them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll decide I want to do something completely different.

All I know is, it’s time for breakfast and I need food for thought. Hot Cross Buns I think.