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Thursday, 29 December 2011

I'm Not Waiting For The New Year To Start

You may remember that I once said I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  I still stand by that - it's a bad time (for most people) to be trying to better themselves.  We've just had a massive indulge session with Christmas - food, gifts, drink etc - which just doesn't lead to positive thoughts about ourselves.

However, this year I am feeling excited.  I think perhaps it's because I usually get my 'new start' excitement at the beginning of the school year (September, October time), and this year I didn't.  So now I'm filled with hope and belief that next year is going to be MY YEAR.  Now, technically I'm not making any resolutions, I'm just resolving to keep going, to keep trying until I get where I want to go.

I am also not waiting for the first of January.  I have been filled with this renewed passion for a few days and I am already acting on it.  I started stitching my designs (yes, for that creative business I mentioned a few months ago) and I'm writing more - more often and more varied ideas.  I love this feeling that anything is possible and I'm hoping you are feeling it too.  If you are, I would love it if you stop waiting for the right moment (New Year, Monday, Next Week) as personally I feel that the longer we procrastinate with our actions, the less likely we are to start at all. 

Let me know in the comments if you have any New Year Resolutions and if you are going to stop waiting.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


I realise that once again I have been missing for a week or so.  This weekend was completely nuts for me and the truth is I did far too much.  I went Christmas shopping and my family came round for the weekend which was a lot of work due to all the tidying that needed to get done - it was totally worth it though to see my Mum and Dad.

So this week I'm taking it slow (well, last night I had a girly night with a friend which was fabulous) and enjoying the lack of stress I'm finally feeling.  I know that there is still tidying to do but most of the stresses of Christmas are now past and I'm deciding to just relax and enjoy the end of the year.  Hope you're having a restful and peaceful time and making time for you.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Fighting My Inner Monica

I am a big fan of the tv series ‘Friends’ and my favourite character is Monica (it used to be Pheobe but I guess I changed).  In some ways I want to be like her – I like that she is super organised, though I in no way am as tidy-compulsive as she is.  In fact, I’ve never really felt that I am that obsessive about how I live or how I appear to others.

This Christmas season I realised that that is complete rubbish.  I am quite an organised person usually, but when it comes to Christmas I always want to have the picture-card perfect holiday.  I want to give the best gifts; I want to bake every festive cake and cookie recipe I find; I want to decorate the flat perfectly.

This year I had planned on making everyone’s gifts.  I have had to let that go and am now only making little ones and Spud’s gifts (though Spud is going to get his late as I’ve only just started it!).  We haven’t decorated at all yet (the plan is to do it today) as I wanted to completely tidy the flat first.  I’ve had to relax this hope as there are still unpacked boxes and it’s just not realistic to empty them all and clean and put up the decorations before this weekend (when our parents are coming round).  I wanted to bake lots of different delights – so far I’ve baked one batch of gingerbread cupcakes.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to bake gingerbread biscuits in the next few days and next week want to give the candy cane cakes a go (they have peppermint icing in red and white).

While I still wish I could have my ‘picture perfect’ Christmas, I have realised that forcing myself to try will cause me a lot of pain and exhaustion.  And when I can’t fulfil my hopes I would be crushed and my mood would ruin Christmas.  So I have decided to not worry quite as much and to try and enjoy the season.  It doesn’t really matter whether it’s ‘perfect’ or not, as spending time with my family and with Chris will make it perfect.  Besides, there’s always next year and the year after that and the year after that to keep improving until I become the best hostess (no, I’m not like Monica at all) and create the image in my mind (though I guarantee it still wouldn’t be great unless I have someone to share it with).

Monday, 12 December 2011

Growing Up

For the past week or so I have been feeling particularly homesick.  This is the first time I've felt like I really want to go home and be with my family, since Chris and I moved in together six months ago.  I'm certain that part of this homesickness is due to it being Christmas.  Christmas has always been a family holiday for me, and sticking to my decision to just spend it with Chris has been really difficult (I'm seriously considering spending Christmas day with my parents next year if they don't mind!).

However, I'm refusing to give in to my inner child on this as I am really stubborn and also, I feel it is time for me to try living life my way.  Of course I have no idea what that means yet, but I get the feeling it's the sort of thing you learn from trying rather than keeping it to theory.

I will be seeing my parents, my sister, and my little brother this weekend though and I'm really excited about it as I miss them all so much.  It doesn't feel that long since I was still living at home and groaning about getting up each day to go to school (which, when I think about it, was very weird as I am a very academic person) but, it turns out, life catches up.  I'm just beginning to realise this and that, while I will always have my family, my friends and my memories, finding out who I am and what I really want is the next step in my life.  Guess I grew up after all (well, except when it comes to Christmas - I can't wait to leave out a mince pie for Santa and see what he leaves me to unwrap).

Saturday, 10 December 2011

My Day and a Mini Struggle I'm Currently Having

It is possibly a bad idea to write this post right now as I can feel tiredness overwhelming me; and if truth be told, I have no pearls of wisdom to share with you. 

Today I went Christmas shopping - only I didn't end up buying any presents (actually, I bought one) though I came home with a few treats for myself (and a few more ideas and a lot of panicking about ideas I don't have yet).  It may seem a little early to be stressing out about the lack of presents I have bought, but for me, most of the present giving is going to happen next weekend as both Chris' and my parents are visiting.

I am also struggling with my laptop at the moment.  It works, but refuses to charge while it is switched on so I have to wait while it charges in between my times online.  This is completely weird for me as usually I spend hours online every day - now I am relegated to just a few hours over the course of one day (my batteries are old so don't last very long and take ages to charge).  Unfortunately it has been my writing that has taken a hit - both my blogging and, in fact, all other writing I do (except writing in my diary).  I am still undecided whether being forced away for my laptop for the majority of the day is a good thing or not.  I'm thinking that it's good that I am no longer allowed to glue myself to a screen, but I also think that the 1-1.1/2 hr time I have at a time is not long enough to really start and finish everything I want to do - I guess this is where it takes some practice (and clearly I am getting better as I've managed to write this today!)

Hopefully I'll have something of more substance for you later this week (but please don't hold your breath as I would hate to be the cause of your lack of oxygen).

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Didn't Mean To Be Gone So Long

Wow, I honestly didn't realise just how much time I have been away from this blog.  I can't really believe that it's December already (it doesn't help that I don't feel very Christmassy) and I hope that this month I manage to write here more often.

This past week I have generally been doing better.  By that I mean that I have found myself being a little more positive and a lot more gentle with myself (or at least I am trying to).

Finding myself suddenly in December I feel disorientated - usually at this time of year I would be wrapping up in layers to walk to school/college/uni and anticipating the holiday time with my family.  This year is different.  I can't remember the last time I was out of the flat (I know it wasn't that cold) and, while I will be seeing my parents, I won't be spending Christmas with them.  Chris and I are planning on spending it together, just us two, as it is the first year we have been living together.

I want to say that I am looking forward to it, but honestly I don't know right now.  I am panicking that I don't have any Christmas presents ready - I am behind on the organising of cards and food and decorating (yes, I do tend to go into overdrive around the holidays).  So please excuse me while I go and stitch in the hopes of finishing at least one homemade present in time.

[This post was written 4th December.  I have, in fact, been out of the flat since then and am even starting to feel a little Christmassy.]

Friday, 18 November 2011

One Thing At a Time

Since my last post I haven't really known what to write here.  What I do know is that the longer I go without posting, the less I want to - so I'm deciding to post now before I reach a time where I feel completely unable to.

Yesterday was a good day.  I was productive and I felt positive in general.  Unfortunately the feeling hasn't followed through to today although I was just as productive.

I am, however, feeling less overwhelmed with life.  For the first time in a long time I have started feeling every now and again that I am capable of getting through this, that the world isn't going to end around me.  This is a huge step for me as it is allowing me to focus on just one thing at a time rather than feeling the weight of everything that needs to get done.  I am choosing to simply focus on getting through each day and organising my Christmas list (I feel so far behind in this but at least I am moving forward now).  Everything else has been put on hold - I still have those plans and ideas but I am ignoring them for now as if I think about them everything engulfs me until I cannot find myself.

I hope you've had a good week.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Truth

I know I was supposed to be 'back' this week.  I had planned to post about what I did last week along with my usual posts.  The truth is I haven't wanted to.  So far this week I've written a blog post - it's ready and sitting on my laptop - but I'm not ready to share it with the world yet.  I have found that with a lot of things I've been writing lately.  Some of it I've shared anyway.  Other pieces, or partly-formed pieces, are also sitting on my laptop without a home.  I am planning to rectify that.  Or at least I was.

Then yesterday depression hit me.  I can't explain what happened (mostly because I'm really not sure myself).  I just know that one moment I was crying and then I couldn't stop crying.  This is not the first time this has happened.  And I doubt it will be the last.  It's a part of me that I haven't ever shared here before.  But now I know I need to share it.  Sharing is a step towards helping me truly face up to it.  Sure, I've known I've had depressive bouts many times in my life, but I've either ignored them or just let them run their course. This time I know that I no longer want to be depressed.

Every moment becomes a challenge.  Feeding myself, even checking my email becomes a mountain.  One that I have continued to climb every single day.  I know the reason why I fight on.  It's because I know there are people who love me, who want to see me achieve my potential.  But it's becoming harder and harder to deal with as I begin to question everything I do - am I really just doing it for other people?  And if I am, shouldn't I stop?  But if I stop then I will just be a large mound of nothingness.  And so the questions and insults circle round and round in my mind.

Today I stumbled across a blog post that describes depression so much better than I ever could.  It helped me to understand that I am not alone in this fight.  And that is another reason why I'm sharing it.  I could wait and make this a story about success, but I'm hoping that in sharing it, you will become part of that success.  Because now I believe that I can get better (btw, I am not at the end of my 'adventure in depression').  And I want you to know that I will be here struggling on, day by day.  I just can't promise that I will be writing here every day - or even the three times a week I've been keeping to lately.  I am making the promise to continue writing though, and although some of that writing may never see the light of day, it is enough for now, that I will be writing.

So what does all this rambling about me mean for you?  That when you come here you might not be subjected to the thought-out mini-essays I have been delivering; that I will be sharing snippets of my soul when I can.  And for those of you in similar places (emotionally that is), the knowledge that you are not alone in this fight.  Life will get better (at least I have to believe it will).  It also means that, while I will be trying to continue with my plans for the new website and creative business, I probably won't be holding myself accountable here (because honestly I can't deal with the stress that is causing me).

So to sum up this excessively long post, I want you to know that I'm okay.  I'm not good and to be honest even 'okay' is a little higher up than how I am right now.  But I have people around me who love me.  And if you ever wanted to know how it feels to live with depression I strongly recommend you check out that blog post.

Monday, 7 November 2011

I'm Back

Hello all, as you can see, I am back from my 'vacation'.  Originally I was going to let you know what I did last week, but I feel now that that will have to wait for later.

Because I'm feeling a little confused and more than a little unfocused.  Taking a week off was supposed to help me relax and, while I did relax, I also believe I overdid it a little.  So today, I know that I have plenty to get on with, in fact, I have so much that needs doing that I have no idea where to even start.  My mind is flitting from project to project, barely giving me time to register them all.  And yet I have very few ideas when it comes to blogging and writing.  I had hoped this break would replenish and relax me.  Unfortunately it seems not to have worked.  Now I am restless, exhausted, unfocused and there is even a hint of panic which I'm doing my best to suppress.

However, I still plan to take things slowly.  I don't want to suddenly dump everything on me (even if my brain refuses to believe this) as I know I just won't cope.  So I'm going to try focusing on one thing at a time.  Right now I am focusing on this blog post, and then, I don't know what I'll focus on - but I'm determined to choose just one thing and give it my attention.  I know that flitting through everything won't help.  So I'm taking a deep breath and continuing on, taking tasks one at a time, because even though I am feeling unfocused and lost, I know that I have to keep going as giving up is not an option.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Tonight I Am...

I know that only yesterday I told you I was taking a week off.  That's still my plan but this post was just too important to me to not share it today so I hope you'll forgive me.

Today is Halloween.  Most of you are probably planning on dressing up and going trick-or-treating - I hope you have a safe, fun evening.

For Pagans, today is Samhain.  On this evening the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest, so is the best time to contact those who have departed (I seriously don't advise you do this though unless you know what you are doing).  For me, today is a reminder to remember those I love who aren't with us anymore so tonight I am planning on lighting a candle and thinking of my Grandad.

I will be remembering those times I rode on his knee as he sang 'Ride-a-cock-horse'; watching him in his garden and helping him to pick the runner beans; and his desk full of 'free gifts' he had claimed (mostly pens and a few pedometers is what I remember).

I hope you take time to acknowledge those beliefs that differ from your own and please feel free to share your opinions on tonight's festivities in the comments, or to remember someone you have lost.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Taking A Week Off

This week has not been a good one for me.  I have spent a lot of it on the sofa doing a whole lot of nothing.  And every day I have felt more and more guilty for not writing enough, not reading enough, not designing, not stitching - you get the idea.  The problem is that this guilt is stopping me from properly resting as instead, I am constantly going over things in my mind - trying to think of blog posts and design ideas that simply are not forthcoming at this time.  And so I've decided to take a leaf out of Michael Nobbs' book (see this post for learning about making time for resting) and announce that this week will be a holiday.  While I am not physically going anywhere, I have decided that I will stop feeling guilty about what I'm not doing, and instead allow my body and mind to relax.  Therefore I will not be blogging next week and will probably only pop onto Twitter and Google+ every now and again rather than trying to be constantly connected.  I hope you understand and I look forward to seeing you again a week on Monday, hopefully feeling more like myself and able to focus on starting to do a little at a time towards my goals once again.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

History in Words

I am currently reading ‘The Oxford Book of Essays’ as I fancied a bit of a change to my normal reading habits.  I expected to be entertained, informed and my knowledge widened.  I didn’t realise just how effected I would be by reading them.

The essays in this book date back to the 17th Century, and I haven’t got that far through the book yet.  But the one thing that struck me as I read, is that these people who are writing and being written about are becoming alive for me.  I was never much of a history fan as dates and names pretty much leave me staring blankly at a wall in panic.  Reading the words of those who lived then, though, that is a completely different experience.  I can imagine I really am among that society, in that time – seeing and hearing everything going on about me.

While this is amazing and incredible, it also shows just how important words are.  Obviously I already know this (hello, I’m a writer!) but it’s always good to be truly reminded of the power of words.  Words can invoke any feeling, words can change a person.  The words we are writing now may one day be read as an account of this period of time (I can dream).  And that is why I try and make every word I write the truth of who I am and where I am.  I want to use the power of words to change the world.  I want my words to be remembered and, by extension, be remembered myself.

This may seem completely selfish but isn’t that what everybody wants?  To leave some sort of legacy?  To prove we did exist?  For me, words are my answer, but even if they were never read I would continue to write as every word I write effects the writer just as much (if not more) than the reader.  My words make me who I am.  The words left by those in history are what is left of them and when I go, I hope my words will show who I was and show what I believed in.

How do you hope to be remembered?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Non-Exercise Tips for Those with Chrongic Disabilities

On Friday I spoke out against exercise advice as being the only advice as not everyone is able to exercise.  As such I figured that I really should share some a few tips of what works for me in improving my health.  Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that exercise won’t improve your health, I believe it’s a vital component to a healthy lifestyle but for those of you unable to exercise regularly, these are ideas that you might be able to try.

  •   Drink plenty of water.  Since I’ve upped my intake of water, I have had more energy and am also eating less.  For those of you who can’t stand plain water, try herbal or fruit teas – there’s a flavour to suit almost everyone. 
  •  Cut down on caffeine.  I only have one mug of coffee a day on most days and I always have it in the morning.  If I feel I need a pick-me-up during the day I usually opt for a redbush tea.
  • Take breaks from looking at a screen.  I spend a large portion of my day in front of my laptop – writing, reading, socialising and playing games.  I take short breaks every half hour where I give my eyes a rest.  Workrave is a neat little application you can download for free which will remind you when to take your breaks (at intervals and lengths of your choosing).
  • Have a sleep schedule.  This is another of those pieces of advice you find a lot and that’s because it really works.  I used to have great difficulty getting to sleep but I figure that’s probably due to spending the majority of day in bed.  Therefore, to get my sleep schedule sorted I took a very small dosage sleeping pill (prescribed by my Doctor) which helped me evaluate how long I need to sleep for and to get me in the habit of going to bed at the same time every day.  I now continue going to bed and get up at the same time everyday (I fall down if I don’t get up as then my body doesn’t realise it’s tired enough).  If you suffer from insomnia it is not a weakness to seek help.  Other than that, my main advice would be to stay away from technology before bed as this stimulates the brain, making it much more difficult to relax.
  • Meditation.  I don’t meditate as often as I would like but when I do I notice the effects.  When my mind is still and peaceful, my body naturally follows suit and relaxes.  Meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting up in the lotus position – it can be done anywhere and in any position you find comfortable.  I would recommend finding somewhere you won’t be interrupted when you first start out as trying to focus in a busy or loud area can use a lot more energy.
  • Smile.  Smiling and laughing release endorphins that are guaranteed to make you feel better, plus it’s much better to get your highs from laughing than from chocolate as you will no doubtedly be left feeling guilty for over-indulging.
  • Eat dark chocolate.  When I feel I have a chocolate craving coming I eat a square or two of dark chocolate (my favourite is Divine) as obviously this is much healthier than splurging on a whole bar of Galaxy.
  • Eat your fruit and veg.  Now, I don’t usually make it up to the ‘5 a day’ that we hear so much about but I try to get in a few portions every day as they are necessary for our body to perform correctly.
  • Take vitamins and supplements.  I currently take Vitamin B Complex and an Iron & Vitamin C every day.  I don’t know if they are actually helping but I like to think they are (and I know they’re not doing any harm so better to take them than not in my opinion).  If you are on a lot of medication or are unsure ask your Doctor or Pharmacist for advice as they are qualified to help you.
  • Get some sunshine.  Getting outside and soaking up some rays can be very beneficial to our mental health.  I often can’t really go out so most days just take a step out the door and stand in the sun for 5 minutes.  I am hoping to save up for a sun lamp (often used to treat S.A.D - Seasonal Affective Disorder) for those days when I can’t go out at all (or when there’s no sun).

Hope you found these ideas useful.  Please remember that I am not an expert so before taking any drastic lifestyle changes, please consult your Doctor or Pharmacist.  Have I missed anything that works for you?  Let us know in the comments.

Friday, 21 October 2011

A Little Word on Exercise Advice

I am always on the look out for good advice, especially when it concerns health and/or creativity.  I’m not looking for a magic pill to make me thin or the secret to motivation (okay, maybe a little on the last one), I am simply trying to find ideas that others have tried – I don’t want to miss out on something that will make me feel better because I didn’t know about it.

The problem is there is one piece of advice I come across over and over and over: exercise more.  Now, I’m not disagreeing that exercise is very good for your health and creativity, but every time I read those words I feel a knife in my gut. 

To begin with I feel angry.  I mean, I know I need to exercise, I want to exercise, but I physically can’t.  I can’t even stand up long enough to have a shower or wash up so how do you expect me to go for a walk to clear my head?  It may be easy for you, but not everyone is lucky enough to have that option. 

I then feel guilty.  I know that when that advice is spouted out it’s not to make me feel worse about myself.  I know that the chances are, the person on the other end of the words really is trying to help.  So I feel guilty, first for getting angry at them, and then for not being able to follow their advice.

It’s a never-ending circle of anger and guilt, even though I know it’s completely unreasonable to feel either of these.  I have to constantly remind myself that for many people, exercise is a viable option.  And I also have to remember that it’s not my fault that I can’t follow their advice.  But sometimes I just wish that someone would acknowledge those of us who don’t have good health through no fault of our own, even if they don’t have any other ideas, being acknowledged would make my day.

So for all of you like me, you are not to blame for whatever has happened that makes it impossible to lead a ‘normal’ life.  I understand your anger towards those who don’t understand (like I said, I often feel it myself) but honestly, realising that words spoken aren’t usually there to hurt you, uses a lot less energy than anger.  And after all, we want to keep that tiny bit that remains so we can make some semblance of continuance in this journey called life.

Have you ever felt angry at advice not intended for you?  Do you have any advice for me, something that perhaps made your life a tiny bit better?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Living Through A Screen

For the past couple of months I have been living almost entirely through my screen.  I don’t mean to say that I don’t disconnect, spend time with Chris, my hobbies, my books, because I do.  I mean that for me, the majority of my connections and experiences are rooted almost entirely online.

This isn’t really surprising and I have to say I’m so glad to live in a time with internet access as otherwise I would feel much more alone, helpless and trapped.  But I realised the other day, when I was able to go outside to visit a friend (a truly wonderful experience, made much more gratifying now that we rarely see each other) that in becoming so connected to the online universe, I had disconnected from reality.

When I saw people walking by, going about their everyday business, I felt envious.  Granted, I have often been hit with the strong feeling that life is unfair and questioning why this happened to me, but this time it was different.  I had gotten myself so worked into the world that is the internet, that I had almost forgotten that there are other people in the world, right outside my front door.  Even those who I have conversed with and been touched by remain hidden behind another screen. 

The web may have the ability to connect us to everyone, but in the process we must always remember that those we connect with have lives outside the screen.  They eat and sleep, the same as us.  They have families and best friends and mistakes and dreams and desires that we can never see.  Part of me wants to see right through the screen and be included in their lives.  I want to see and know everything.  Now, I know this isn’t possible, but just by remembering that everyone has a life outside the gates of my screen I believe that I can connect in a much more real and valuable way.  When it comes down to it, we are all the same – and we want to know that.