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 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!

Hey there Chapter Four

I love my job, but going back to work after the Christmas break has been SO INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT.

I think it has something to do with the fact the weather is all doom and gloom. That and the fact it’s a whole ‘nother 11 months or so until Christmas comes around again! The holiday ads are out in force and I’m not surprised. I’m perfectly happy right now, curled up on the sofa with candles lit and music playing, but I still can’t help wishing I were on a beach somewhere sunny.

Familiarity is my friend this year. I hope that this year, nothing changes. I could really use a year spent living in the same place, doing the same job. It’s been a long time since I finished a year in the same place I began it. Don’t get me wrong, moving forwards, progressing and evolving as a young person is great. But you have to admit, there’s something comforting about adventuring and exploring and always knowing that home is waiting right where you left it.

It’s January. We’ve a cupboard full of chocolate and a whole year ahead of us. This year, this chapter, I’m focusing on the here and the now. The future can wait.

To New Beginnings

This year was for being daring, right?

I put an offer down on a flat with Dave, we got it, I handed in my notice at work, two weeks later we’ve got the keys and I’m moving to Watford!

I’m moving into a new flat, in a new town and I’m going to be living like a real-life adult! For the first time in forever, Dave and I won’t be in a long distance relationship. Quite the opposite, we’ll be seeing each other every day (I hope he knows what he’s in for). The flat is lovely and my job at the restaurant may be fun, but it was never forever. Call me irresponsible, but I ran out of reasons not to go for it and so I did, I said yes and I couldn’t be happier.

Saying that, I’m currently sat in the middle of my floor, staring at my wardrobe and willing the clothes to fold and pack themselves. This leaving home malarky is as stressful as it is exciting and it is very exciting! Perhaps packing clothes can wait for now. With the help of my mum and a good friend I’ve made a lot of progress today anyway!

I hate to say it, but I think that’s a wrap on chapter two. No sad faces here though, this ending is the start of an exciting new beginning. Next time I write I should be in the flat! I’m smiling hugely just at the thought of it. Chapter three begins soon. Bring it on.

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.

Fried Egg in a Bacon Sandwich

In 2010 I was just finding my feet. I’d turned 16 but I was a little behind really. I was still very shy and I was scared of absolutely everything. Everything except singing, which I actually did more then, than I do now. Of course, I had no idea that my fear of life would actually be labelled as an anxiety disorder years later.

I had 11 New Year’s resolutions at the start of 2011. Number 1 was predictable and embarrassing: To find love. *rolls eyes* Moving onwards, I resolved to get better at maths and did. I said I’d get organised and didn’t. I vowed to smile more and worry less. I pledged to Be More Daring.

I went to a house party on New Year’s Eve. I had to write a pros and cons list just to decide whether to go or not.

I remember some of the cons so clearly even now. I was staying the night and I was worried my pyjamas were an embarrassment. I didn’t know whether I wanted to drink alcohol and I didn’t know if it would be a big deal if I didn’t. I felt insecure in the outfit I had to wear, but didn’t have anything else. I was worried I’d get too tired before midnight and wouldn’t be able to get home. I was worried I hadn’t eaten enough, because of the nerves.

Last in the pros column, after ‘it will be fun’ and all other obvious reasons to party on New Year’s  Eve, was ‘you said you’d be daring this year’.

I’m still very good friends with the girl who hosted. Her mum offered me a bacon sandwich when I got up New Years Day and offered me a fried egg to go in it too. I’d never tried having egg in a bacon sandwich before and silly as it sounds, going to her party and adding egg to my bacon sandwich were the first daring things I did that year.

Being daring that year was the best thing I ever decided to do. Unknowingly I put a middle finger up to my anxiety. I grew in confidence, I tried new things (including my first shot of vodka), I made new friends, I did in fact find love and from what I remember I smiled, a lot. When I would normally have said no, I said yes. It was perhaps the best year of my life so far, but with only 22 down I guess that’s not saying much.

Two days until it’s 2017.

I think perhaps this year’s a year for being daring again. This year I’m going to take a leaf out of my younger self’s book. I’m going to dare to be myself at all times. I’m going to dare to sing on stage again. I’m going to dare to do exactly what makes me happy. I’m going to dare to live.

I had egg in my bacon sandwich this morning. Loved it.

Smiling like a fool

I’m finally home.

My last two days in Cardiff before Christmas were so much better than I expected. I was expecting to simply spend them at the flat, by myself, working my last couple of shifts and watching the clock tick by. BUT my amazing flatmate stuck around an extra day after her last shift at her work (I’m not the only one juggling a job and a degree) to keep me company… We spent Christmas eve’s eve curled up with wine and chocolates, watching a film, exchanging presents and then talking until the early hours of the morning.

Christmas eve wasn’t far from perfect. I succeeded in getting out of bed, despite the late night, and had breakfast with her before she headed out to get her train home. Then I finished packing, got ready and headed into work for my final shift. Work was the same as always, except for the fact I didn’t start till ten, we were all in comic Christmas costumes and there were ridiculous amounts of staff room snacks.

My dad and sister met me at the flat after my shift. The drive home was so exciting I’m surprised I didn’t cry. Instead I just sat there smiling hugely and constantly reminding my dad and my little sister that I was ridiculously happy. I got home, stole hugs, went to bed and before I knew it, it was Christmas day.

Christmas day was overwhelming. I’d only just got home, before I was jumping in the car and heading to my grandparents home. I ate so much food I’m surprised I didn’t explode. I nearly overheated in a house full of radiators that felt like an oven in comparison to my student flat. I saw my grand parents and the entirety of my dad’s side of the family all at once, when I’d only just gotten used to having my immediate family around again. I got loads of lovely presents and woke up boxing day morning to find myself out on a walk in the country side (which I think I had forgotten existed).

Since then I’ve been unpacking, getting organised, working out how to make the most of three weeks at home and worrying about how I’m going to get all my uni work done.

Today, I stopped worrying and I spent a whole day doing nothing for the first time in a long time. Having been on an amazing night out last night, I spent the morning in bed and then a few hours after that curled up on the sofa, cautiously eating dry toast and tomato soup, wondering if a hang over was going to hit me any time soon. Now I’m sat in my bedroom, having finally showered at five in the evening, wearing my onesie, singing along to my iTunes library, waiting for roast dinner to be cooked and smiling like a fool.

All I need to do now is decide what I’m going to say when I get to the hairdressers tomorrow morning, sit down in the chair and he asks me how I want my hair.

Being me, I’ll consider cutting it all off, I’ll wonder if it’s about time I dyed it a crazy colour, I’ll tell myself I should try something new for the new year then I’ll decide I’d like it just the way it is, but just slightly shorter please.