Yoga, Tagine, Prosecco and a Shark Tale

I made it to my first yoga class! And I’ve been again since and I’m already looking forward to going again this week. I’ve found me a truly wonderful class. I’ve been to a few yoga classes before and found that they’re all different. I think it is worth taking the time to find a class that really works for you and I am very pleased to say that I think I have done just that. The instructor is amazing and the session left me feeling refreshed and renewed both times.

Life’s been busy, good busy and this weekend has been a good’un.

Friday night I headed to the George Tavern in Whitechapel with some people from work. It’s a live music venue and the musicians who played were all so talented! ‘Friend of Dave’ was a beat-boxer equipped with a maraca and a harmonica and you would not believe the textures he created all by himself. He played feel good tunes that put smiles on everyone’s faces. ‘Austrumkalns’ were a Latvian ensemble. They are a flautist, cellist, violinist, guitarist and percussionist and they played Latvian folk songs. They were beautiful. They even planted Latvian dancers in the pub to get everyone on their feet. I had one of them ‘must mentally capture this and store the memory vividly forever’ moments. The headliners were ‘Erin Black and the Devil’s Hand’ who were fantastic. Every member of the band was super talented, all introduced individually at the beginning of the set. They had every single person captivated until the set ended and everyone darted out for their last trains home, myself included.

Saturday I met a good friend for lunch in Kensington before heading over to the V&A for the Opera Passion exhibition. I highly recommend the Lebanese restaurant we went to (Comptoir Libanais), which I believe is part of a chain. I had halloumi and tomato and a lamb tagine and loved every single bite. We finished the meal off with a mint tea and a hot chocolate (hot chocolate for me, of course) and then headed back out into the rain to get to the museum. The exhibition itself was brilliant. No spoilers, go check it out if you can! I’d never been to the V&A before and I’m going to have to go back. So many things captured my interest on the way through! May need more than one visit. I had no idea how humongous it was.

Another lovely friend of mine came to stay last night. We had a proper girls night and it was simply lovely. Highlights include listening to Sam Smith’s new album, popping open a bottle of prosecco and face masks.

I’m curled up on the sofa with a cuppa right now. Shark Tale’s on the TV and it’s just coming to the end credits. Car Wash is playing, you know the scene?, and I’ve just turned the volume up. I think once I’ve finished writing this I’m going to have chicken kievs for dinner. I’m going to carry on reading Lauren Graham’s autobiography while it cooks. It’s based around her time spent playing Loralai Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, it was a Christmas present and I’m loving it. It’s a lot of fun.

I’ve started learning a Katie Melua piece on the piano, so I ought to get a little more practice in tonight too. I’m pretending like it’s not Monday tomorrow. What is it about Mondays? I’ve butterflies just thinking about it. In this case though, we’re really truly in it together. We’ll all struggle through Monday morning and we’ll all be alright once we’ve had a cup of tea or coffee or two.

Kind of Blue

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

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

Monday morning I felt worse than I have in ages and not just cos it was a Monday: It was pouring down with rain and the train was 25 minutes late. While I stood there on that platform, feeling miserable and defeated, I decided this week simply wasn’t going to be my week.

I hit delays on the trains again yesterday morning and then eventually my trains were cancelled all together. This morning, my rear windscreen wiper broke!

On the positive side, I’ve cooked some amazing meals this week. I’m even thinking I might actually start using the recipe books we have had for ages, but not used yet. I find cooking incredibly stressful most of the time, but I’m getting there recently. I’m feeling inspired by my best friend who recently moved out and who cooks simple, quick, easy, healthy meals from Joe Wick’s books almost every night and seems so happy for it.

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

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

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.

Brighton, England

brighton-uk-16

I spent last weekend in Brighton with four girl friends, celebrating my friend’s birthday and I fell in love.

I arrived in Brighton tired, hungry, sweaty, clueless and with heavy bags in tow after a very long day at work.

The lively atmosphere gave me an immediate boost. Between the squeals of girls on hen nights, the excitable chatter of everyone around, the yells from lads on tour and the booming voices of train conductors, came the occasional squawk of a seagull, welcoming you to the seaside.

I needed to buy Aperol for the birthday girl. I couldn’t find it anywhere, which was a shame, but I did find that every single person I spoke to was jolly and helpful. Every off-licence owner tried to help me out, the people in Tesco and Sainsbury’s were eager to do what they could and even when they were telling me they didn’t sell what I wanted, they kept on smiling.  The people I passed on the street all seemed super carefree and happy. The driver of the taxi I eventually got was lovely too. I felt like I could have spoken to absolutely anyone and they would have tried to help me out.

The home we stayed in was booked through air b&b and it was absolutely stunning. The perfect seaside escape. It was a little way from the coast, but the seagulls could still be heard, never fear.

In my dreams I live in a house like this one when I grow up. It’s so tastefully decorated, so light and airy and everything has it’s place, but it looks lived in too. It’s just the right mix of old and new and it’s not too big or too small. It’s perfect. Aside from the fact it’s on a really really steep hill. Not only was the walk a challenge, but can you imagine trying to parallel park outside!?

I could have spent days exploring the centre of Brighton and I’ve still no idea how we got from one place to another. All I know is that on your way down to the coast you wonder through ‘the lanes’. There’s bunting everywhere, it’s a maze of madness that transports you to another time and there are shops and stools selling all sorts of bits and bobs. There’s something for everyone. There are so many cute independent shops. There’s so much street food and so many cute, eccentric cafes to be explored. Including Choccywoccydoodah which just has to be the craziest dessert cafe on Earth!

There are loads of cool independent bars and clubs on the seafront too, individual to Brighton. Not forgetting the cute arty shops down there and the fish and chip stands! Fish and chips is obligatory of course.

Brighton has the best of both though. There’s a big shopping centre with all your big name stores, there are chain restaurants and big bars and clubs with names you’d probably recognize.

The pier itself is the epitome of British Sea Front fun. There are arcades and fayre ground rides. I wasn’t crazy enough to brave the waltzers but those of us who did said they were sure they were the spinniest and fastest they’d ever been on. There’s donuts and ice cream and candy floss galore and there’s even a sit down restaurant and bar.

There are many other must-sees we missed simply because we didn’t have enough time. From the stunning Royal Pavillion to the Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton has culture and history too.

Wherever you wonder along the seafront the views are lovely. There’s even a massive 360 degrees moving observation tower you can go up, if that takes your fancy and you have the time. I imagine the views must be wonderful. Brighton’s beach isn’t sandy, it’s a pebble beach, but this doesn’t take away from the fact it’s really very pretty. I couldn’t take enough pictures. Particularly on a sunny day, the sea is so beautifully blue and everything looks so colourful and alive.

Colourful and alive. That’s Brighton for you. I can’t recommend it enough and I’ll definitely be back! I imagine there’s even more to discover than I know.

Let go of the familiar and embrace the new

I was super happy and excited, but goodness I was nervous.

A small part of me was just rationally worrying about the new job itself. Whether I’d be able to do it, whether the people would be as nice as I hoped, whether I’d impress like I wanted to.

I was also having nightmares. Nightmares that varied from stressfully realistic to scarily weird. I had one in which I kept trying to get through doorways, but random people in my life would be standing in them telling me it wasn’t safe. By the end I was shouting (luckily just in the dream) at the top of my lungs that they had to get out of my way, because I had to get to work! You don’t have to be a psychologist to figure out I was very scared I’d be late.

Most of me was simply just terrified about the change from unemployment to employment. Even with 7 days a week free to do as I pleased I felt like time was going too fast and there was never enough of it. How would I cope? How would I find time to do the things I love? How would I keep in contact with all of my friends and family? How would I sleep and eat enough? How would I live!?

Commuting for the first time was a strange experience. When I walked onto the station platform singing quietly to myself at 8am, I felt like I was walking into a school assembly late. Everyone looked miserable. Everyone was sat or stood in silence. Everyone seemed to glare at me as I walked past. Pretty girls looked me up and down like I didn’t belong.

Of course, half the issue was that I was so tense and uncomfortable. The minute I walked onto that platform I forgot all about where I was headed. All I knew was that I felt small and unsure and this was all new and I wasn’t sure I liked it and a big part of me wanted to run back home to bed. I was more nervous than I knew and it didn’t take much to knock me off balance.

However, from the moment I got to work onwards, my first day ROCKED. Everyone I met was super lovely. I really enjoyed the work I did and the more I found out about my role the more I knew I was going to love it.

There came a point when I realised where I was, both physically and just in life and suddenly a big goofy smile spread from cheek to cheek. I was in my favourite city, working in one of them fancy office buildings, wearing fancy office clothes and doing a job I already took pride in and loved, in the hope of saving money to do something else I take pride in and love.

This change didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t go through a period of adaptation. Maybe you aren’t supposed to. Maybe the reason I’ve struggled with change so much in life is because I’ve always had too much time to think about it. This time was like no other. I’m not being dramatic. Literally, one minute I was panicking; I felt like I was spiralling, losing control, time was running away with me. The next minute I realised I was calm and I settled into the swing of things and before long it was like nothing had changed at all.

I’m another 5 commutes down now and its not strange anymore. If the pretty girls are still looking me up and down I’m not seeing them because I’m too happy and confident to notice. Or my head is in my book which I’ve already mastered the art of reading wherever I am.

It doesn’t feel like I’ve just been through a change. 3 days into the job and everything is second nature. It honestly feels like I’ve been doing this for years and that is strange and wonderful all at once. Life never fails to amaze me.

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.

An honestly good week

I set the bar high with the honesty thing and I’ve been fretting ever since. Every post that popped up on my Facebook timeline this week, had me second guessing myself. An article titled ‘What anxiety actually is, because it’s more than just worrying’, had me closer to pressing delete on last week’s post than ever.

There are people who suffer much worse than I do. Maybe I’m being dramatic. I’m such an attention seeker. What if I am just stressed? What do I know? What was I thinking posting that? 

The post is still there and it’s there to stay. I’m taking a deep breath, flopping with a cuppa on one of our blow up chairs and I’m writing another one. If I’m being honest, it’s actually been a really good week. HOORAY.

Last week I’d let my perfectionism make me obsessive about cleaning. For the majority of this Monday, I banned myself from housework, I sat with my lazy clothes on, watching films and successfully chilling out.

Tuesday my dad came over. He was a star. He got straight to work on setting things up for us before I’d even put the kettle on. He did lots of technical stuff and all I know is now all the light bulbs in the flat work, I can have a shower without the water going cold, we have TV and internet, we’re all set and I’ve started searching for and applying for jobs! My dad and I had a great day and playing the host made me feel more at home than ever.

Wednesday I made my first trip into town. I got horribly lost trying to find the car parks, but managed to stay fairly calm despite the confusing one way system and all the buses I nearly collided with. Once in town, I was in my element. I bought a few bits and bobs we still needed, grabbed a costa coffee and then headed back home feeling accomplished.

Thursday, one of my bestest friends came to see me. I spent the morning sorting and cleaning, had a proper breakfast and lunch for the first time all week and then embarked on a stressful journey to go collect her from the nearest tube station, in a place where it appears London drivers like to whizz round beeping their horns willy nilly. Once she was here, having her here made me so ridiculously happy. We made more travelling plans, booked our eurostar ticket and booked into our first hostel, watched gossip girl, caught up on life and then I cooked an AMAZING lasagna. The second drive back to the tube station was much less scary. It’s amazing what a little familiarity can do.

Nearly there, I promise…

Friday I enjoyed my first ever proper relaxed lay-in in my new bed and I knew I was making progress, starting to feel properly settled. My auntie came over for the day. We caught up over a cuppa, a maintenance guy dropped by to take a look at one of the windows, we headed into town for lunch and all in all, had a wonderful day.

This weekend has been Dave and I’s first proper weekend in the flat together. It’s been fab. We ordered takeaway on Friday night. Last night we cooked steak and made sweet potato wedges and shared a bottle of red wine. We did a food shop. We made a want/need list of things we still want/need for the flat.

All in all, it’s honestly good news. I am bounding forward into my new life and I don’t currently want to run back in the other direction.

The also honest truth is that good week, or not, I battled with anxiety every day. But that’s okay… A big part of living with anxiety is accepting that it will be there with you every day for the rest of your life. That there will be times when it effects you more, or less, but it will always be present. I used to spend every day trying to overcome my anxiety all together and it always left me feeling disappointed and weak. What gives me hope right now, is that I’m here at the end of another week, smiling hugely, living on despite it, actually enjoying myself and feeling strong and proud for that reason.

What I’m saying is, if you fight a fight of your own every day of your life, be proud, stay strong and keep smiling. You’re a hero and you’re not alone.

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.

8 Life Lessons I’ve learned from working two jobs

Okay, I know I’m not an expert and I haven’t been doing this two job thing very long at all BUT I’m feeling philosophical so humour me and let me put my life guru hat on just for this evening?

One – Live in the moment. I’m sure you’ve heard it said before and believe me I know it’s easier said than done. Seeing as over-thinking is in my anxious nature and planning ahead is all that normally keeps me sane, I always brushed living day by day off as impossible. HOWEVER, my rota changes every week now and life’s so much simpler. I have to live life week to week, I simply can’t plan ahead and I’m actually happier because of it. Believe me, it’s the best way to live. If you’ve gotta pencil stuff in your diary, do so, but don’t think on it anymore than that. Taking life as it comes, I’m making better use of my free time too because I don’t know when my next day off will be or when I’ll next have time to get stuff done.

That brings me to number two…

Continue reading 8 Life Lessons I’ve learned from working two jobs