Week Forty-Five

Wow. 45! It really will not be long at all until it’s the last week of this year and I have to come up with a new way of titling blog posts again. Christmas is just around the corner and I cannot WAIT for the festivities to begin.

I don’t want to wish the rest of the year away, but I am itching to try and sum up this chapter: A jam packed year full of ups and downs, that was nothing I expected. I had a little look back through my diary the other day and could hardly believe that this is still the same year I went to Paris and celebrated my birthday dressed as Belle.

The last few weeks have flown just as fast as the rest, being just as full with long days at work, jam sessions with the band and plans with friends and family.

I slept for the longest I have in a long time last night. I didn’t set an alarm and I didn’t get up when Dave got up or accept his offer of tea. I rolled over and I went back to sleep and I was so unconcerned with looking at the clock that I’m not even sure what time I did get up in the end.

We had a lovely friend stay the night yesterday so when I did get up the house felt super lively, which I loved. Dave, housemate Tom and our lovely friend were all cosied up in the lounge with cups of tea and music playing. They’d had chinese food last night (I was out and about in Stratford with some other lovely ladies… One of which was performing in a K-pop dance show – she SMASHED it), so we had leftovers for breakfast and it was amazing. Is it just me that thinks chinese food tastes even better reheated the next day?

Now, I’m sat on our bed with my nails freshly painted and a face mask on. I feel so happy and content with my favourite music playing. It’s also starting to get dark outside and it feels so cosy in here as a result. I think the heating just came on for the evening too. It really is the little things in life.

I made a terrible decision doing both face mask and nail paint at the same time because I’m now stuck with a red face until this polish decides to dry. I also need to get the laundry out of the machine and my tummy is rumbling… oops. For once, I couldn’t really care less though. I’m quite happy waiting, although I am looking forward to getting some jam on toast once the face mask is off.

When I realised I had no plans today, I told myself it’d be a day to look after myself. It’s done me so much good and it’s been a massive reminder that I should do this more often.

I’ve been in my head a lot recently. My thoughts have felt so loud the last few weeks. And they’ve been pretty negative. But that negativity seems to have done a runner today. Clearly all I needed to scare off the negative thoughts was a sunny Sunday morning, a lie in and some me time. I don’t know why I didn’t devote some time to this sooner.

If you’ve no plans this evening, take some time to pamper yourself. Whether you fancy it or not, you’ll feel so much better for it. And just in time for another working week. Sundays should be made for this. As well as roast dinners… of course!

 

Week Thirty-Six

Oh heyyy!

So, the house move has gone surprisingly smoothly for me. Especially considering my inability to accept change, close attachment to places and things and general emotional-ness.

I was super emotional when we eventually said goodbye to the flat, but in my defence, it had been one of those weeks anyway and I was due a good cry. Also, it was so super strange seeing the flat all naked and empty and knowing it wasn’t ours anymore.

I think what’s made the move so much easier is that our new place literally ticks all the boxes. Life’s so much easier with a washing line and a designated cupboard for bedding and towels and under bed storage and a station nearby. And the house felt so homey so quickly too! The owner has decorated it so brightly and it was funished with a few bits and pieces before we even got all of our stuff in.

And my goodness do we have a lot of stuff! How two people can own so many things and have kept them in a 1 bed flat for so long I do not know. It’s also not until you try and pack your life into boxes you realise how fragile literally everything is! From kitchenware to ornaments and frames, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of bubble wrap!

September 1st came around and the new house was sorted and the next few gigs with the band were confirmed and that autumn chill appeared from nowhere and I got my boots out andddd I saw that Primark have their Disney Christmas tinsel out already and I feel so much brighter.

THIS is hands-down the best time of year. I can’t wait for the first trees to go orange and brown and the first crisp frosty morning and the first time I get all wrapped up in a snug coat and scarf and the first hot chocolate on a chilly evening! I know September might have a few summery days left in it yet, but I live for autumn and I’m so excited!

Week Thirty

The BIG THREE O!

How far we’ve come!

And I don’t just mean this year.

In a few weeks time, we’ll be moving out of this little flat and moving into a new home. This little place we’ve called home for two and a half years, will soon be someone else’s home and we’ll be settling ourselves into a new one. I’m a little emotional about it already, can you tell?

That said, when I remember just how hard the move to this little flat really was for me, I feel as though I’ve come a long way. Chapter Three was one of the most open and honest chapters I ever wrote and it was written at a time when this place felt too new and strange and unfamiliar to be called home. Now, I’m as emotional as I am because this place really is ours.

This makes me feel all kinds of soppy and gives me hope that this time, this move, I might just be okay.

Today I’ve another jam session with the band! The novelty is never going to wear off… I am never going to be able to say that without ruining all of the coolness by squealing! I’ve got a horrid cold, so who knows how I’m going to sound, but I’m still rocking up. I feel like, worst case scenario, I can sit in the corner and munch while the rest of the guys write and play. I’ll just watch in awe and contribute when I can.

This week will be my first full week back at work after my holiday and I’m actually quite looking forward to it. As per, I’m really excited about the return to routine and all things normal.

The holiday was FANTASTIC though. I cannot recommend Kefalonia enough. The people are lovely. The food is AMAZINGGGG. The itself island is so beautiful: The towns of Fiscardo and Assos which weren’t touched by the 1953 earthquake and the cities of Sami and Argostoli which had to be rebuilt. The coast is stunning and the sea is stunning. So much so that I went for a swim! Yes, the Bronwen who is terrified of the sea and anything to do with it, wondered off the beach and right into it like it was as easy as pie! The sea looked like a swimming pool it was so clear! Who could be afraid of that!? Once was enough though, second time around my mind wandered too often to whose habitat I was in and whether I was welcome…

We stayed in Skala and I’d definitely recommend Skala too. It’s small enough that you get your bearings fast, but there are plenty of restaurants and bars and shops to grab your souvenirs in. It feels very safe and super chilled, but lively in the evenings. It’s basically the best of all worlds. We loved it.

Week Twenty-Eight

WHERE IS THE YEAR GOING!?

I knew 2019 was going to be a big’un. I never could have prepared myself for how much of an uphill climb the first half of it would be. I said there was to be no stressing when my birthday party came around and I don’t want any of the amazing people who came to be disappointed or sad. I certainly don’t want my parents’ to feel like all their efforts were wasted. It was an AMAZING night! But honestly? I spent the whole thing feeling very anxious and went to bed crying at 1am because I was so frustrated that I hadn’t been able to enjoy it.

Now, here I am in July and my anxiety feels like it’s finally under control again and I’m absolutely buzzing about life! It feels like everything is coming together. A lot’s going to change over the next couple of months.

I remember New Year’s Eve 2011 very clearly. 2012 was going to be the year everything changed and I knew I wasn’t going to like it one bit. I went to bed early and when it got to midnight I cried. I was right; I didn’t enjoy the changes at all. Going off to university turned my whole world upside down. If I had known back then, that life would always be full of change and that I was just going to have to get used to it, I’m not sure what I would have done. Decided this life wasn’t for me and I was going to live under my duvet for the rest of it? Probably.

I’ve come a long way since then. I am prepared for the fact that the next couple of months may throw me off a little, but I’m also just super excited about EVERYTHING.

Where to start?

Well, today I have a jam session with my new band. YEP, MY NEW BAND. I’ve been really down about my voice ever since studying music at university if I’m honest. Being part of that music department made me feel like a very small fish in an extremely big pond and I never really shook that feeling. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll know that I’ve repeatedly pledged to get back into singing. I was going to join a choir or find like-minded musicians to work with, but I never kept that promise to myself. I just couldn’t seem to find the oomph.

I work with this great guy who, over the last couple of months, has gone and given me my music mojo back. He didn’t really give me a choice in the matter. He rocked up at my desk one day and told me about this new collective of musicians he was pulling together. He said it was Jazz, but not Jazz. And kinda classically influenced, but not really either. He said he thought I might fit right in and before I knew it I was at the studio with him. It took me over half an hour to sing my first note.

Now, I’m away! We’ve had our first gig and, although I was super nervous, I managed to successfully sing every note and, although I might not have sung as well as I know I can, I was so proud and happy when we finished. Mostly proud to be working with such a talented set of musicians. The guy from work’s a ridiculously talented drummer. We’re playing with an AMAZING classical guitarist and FANTASTIC saxophonist and WE ARE DAMBALLA COLLECTIVE. Plug over, but I’m so excited. Can you tell?

That aside, we’re also moving home! (Providing our references all go through fine and they decide they think we’ll be able to pay the rent each month.) We’re moving in with a friend, into a much bigger home in a lovely village with loads of pubs and a big common and it’s going to be so lovely. And best of all… I can walk to the train station… waheyyyy. No more sitting in traffic every morning!!

Anddd finally, I passed my big qualification at work and now I’m officially qualified to do what I want to do. The world is now my oyster on the career front and I’m really excited to see where work life takes me from here… That’s if I’m not too busy touring with Damballa Collective of course.

All good things.

Life’s more challenging than ever before. Particularly for a worrier like me. But I’m making sure to take deep breaths when I can and I’m taking moments here and there to make sure I’m doing okay. I am doing okay. And next week I’m off on holiday. What better way to look after one’s mental health than to spend a week in the sun, with a good book (Miles Davis’ autobiography being my current book of choice… I’m only 3 chapters in, but I am loving it!) and an amazing friend? Eeeeek!

Week Fifteen

I’m wearing my sunny day t-shirt (under my biggest fluffy jumper because it’s chilly despite the sunshine) with my oldest, comfiest jeans. I’m munching on Bitsa Wispa in an attempt to satisfy the sweet tooth I’ve woken up with. I’m smiling because sunny Sundays are my favourite thing and I’ve already had three cups of tea today.

This week’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been as scared as I was when I woke up Wednesday morning to take on one of my biggest challenges at work. One of my biggest challenges at work, in the midst of all the challenges going on outside of work. Understandably I think, I’d been feeling nauseous for days in the build up and I’ve never been so exhausted as when the day drew to a close. I tumbled into bed without even taking a moment to think about how things had gone.

When I woke up on Thursday, I was still tired and had made the mistake of scheduling in a working from home day, thinking I’d need time to unwind. Turns out, a whole day in on my own was not what I needed. I felt lost and sad and lonely and I knew Wednesday had gone well, but I couldn’t feel happy about it.

Friday, I was buzzing. A challenging week at work had been a huge success and after another night’s sleep I was actually feeling restored enough to enjoy it and let the pride kick in. I AM SO PROUD. It also helped that I was back in the office, surrounded by people, with a to do list as long as my arm.

Yesterday was a good day all in all. I was super excited about the fact Dave and I had no plans this weekend and I could do what I liked. We watched movies, I read my book. Late in the afternoon, Dave and I went to the shop to get some beers in time for the football and then… I spent a good chunk of the evening crying my heart out! Just like that, it came out of nowhere and Dave and I ended up on a late night walk talking everything through. I went to sleep still trying to process everything and then I woke up this morning to find life didn’t seem nearly as bad again and cooked a fry-up with a massive smile on my face.

All of that said, perhaps emotional roller-coaster doesn’t quite cover it!?

Today I genuinely feel fine. I’m looking forward to date night with Dave tonight. We’re off to see Captain Marvel and we’ll probably grab dinner first. Where we’re going for dinner is yet to be decided. Best get our thinking caps on now or we’ll be overwhelmed by the choice later.

So relieved that we’re on the approach to the next bank holiday of the year. A couple of four day weeks in a row sounds like just the thing to me.

Life’s been full of challenges recently. I’ve been taking on new things at work. I’ve been out of my comfort zone in every day life. I’ve been rocking up to hen dos and birthday celebrations without knowing what to expect or who’s going to be attending, making new friends along the way. I’ve been making big decisions, talking about adult stuff like mortgages and my career…

I feel stronger and more terrified all at once, every day. And I feel more grateful every day. Grateful most of all for the amazing people in my life who give me the confidence I need to get up and at ’em, whatever the new day might bring.

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.

Week Eleven

About this time last week I was stood in the middle of a nearby field, with my Mum, in a state of complete and utter panic, having walked for an hour or so (in circles) and having lost all sense of direction. I was absolutely convinced we’d ended up miles away from home and I had no idea how to find our way back. It was very windy and a little rainy and I was cream crackered and when I rang Dave, my world was ending.

He found us in ten minutes. Yep. Turns out, we hadn’t strayed far at all and I’d gotten all in a tizz over nothing. Story of my life.

Right now, one week later, I’m safely curled up under a blanket, with an orange juice and lemonade (branching out from the usual cup of tea!) and I’m over half way through Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I hope I won’t get myself in too much trouble with Harry Potter fans for saying, I’ve struggled with this one so far. It’s picking up now, but the first half was a bit of a slog.

11 weeks ago I resolved to do a lot of things. I know one of them was to snooze my alarm less and that has gone well and truly out of the window (perhaps this week will be the week!). Another was to join some fitness classes and no, that has not happened. BUT this week I might start wearing my Fitbit again and at least take the stairs when I can. Dun dun dunnn.

I guess the resolutions that were most important to me were the ones that involved me rediscovering music: Music has always been so important to me. And yet, it has gradually dropped out of my life since I finished my Music and History degree in 2015. I only really listen to music when I’m driving. I barely ever play my piano or ukulele anymore.

This week, I’ve been working on two new covers on the ukulele! YES I HAVE. And I’ve been working on two new originals at the piano. I’ve also created a playlist for music to listen to at work.  Don’t ask why I hadn’t done that sooner… Who knows!? But now that I have, it’s great to be able to switch the office noise off for a bit now and again and get properly in the zone.

I feel stronger today than I have in a long time and I know lots of things have contributed to getting me there this week. My lovely team at work for one. My organisation last Sunday and the to do lists that I stuck to. The brilliant day spent with one of my best friends yesterday, wandering the Museum of London and catching up over dinner.

I can’t help thinking that music has literally given me strength though. This blog is called ‘Singing Goodbye to Butterflies’ after all. I always feel invincible after time spent singing. The feeling’s like nothing else.

All’s left to do now is find a choir or a band to join. I need to get working with other musicians again. I want my music mojo back.

I hope that whatever your passions are, you can make the time to pursue them. Because life often gets in the way and we simply shouldn’t let it.

Week Nine

Monday morning I rolled over to grab the tv remote, turned on the news and snoozed for ten minutes. I rolled out of bed and into the shower. I didn’t have time for a cuppa (because of the snooze – so worth it on a Monday morning) and I headed straight to the station once I was showered and dressed.

Pause there – I have to mention the weather.  The weather in England, was unheard of at the start of this week. In England, for three days it was t shirt weather. It was unseasonably warm and bright and sunny. The daffodils came out and everything.

Monday night, I got home, Dave and I cooked dinner together and then we watched TV until I fell asleep on him and had to go to bed.

Tuesday evening I met one of my best friends for dinner and we chatted away about books and music and exciting upcoming events (including one of our best friends’ wedding, eek!). My Gourmet Burger Kitchen burger was amazing and I journeyed home with my head in my book and smile on my face.

Wednesday was a normal working from home day. I did two loads of washing. I cleaned the bathroom and kitchen on my lunch break. I was in my element with the sun shining and the windows open and music playing. Another bud on the orchid that I have successfully grown, flowered beautifully. (Yes, I have successfully gotten an orchid to flower! Am I a real life adult now?) I played piano before dinner and then Dave and I cooked steaks and watched Oceans 8.

Thursday evening I met my sister for dinner which was super lovely. We had the best of evenings and I hope we’ll meet for dinner like that more often from now on. Sister time is golden.

Dave and I stayed at our friends’ on Friday night. They’re the best hosts ever and it was super chilled and super fun.

Saturday afternoon, once Dave and I were home, we just chillaxed. I read and snoozed on the sofa. We had chilli for dinner. We watched Goodfellas, which I totally agree is one of the best films ever. We drank wine and didn’t clock watch. I love not having to watch the clock on Friday and Saturday nights!

Right now, I’m sat on the sofa trying and failing to eat hula hoops, because I’ve put a face mask on and it’s dried too much for me to open my mouth. I woke up with a tummy full of butterflies and I felt like my head might explode. But I knew exactly what I had to do: I opened up the notes app on my phone and titled the note ‘Things that are stressing me out’. Then I wrote everything down until I felt better. I had a chat with my Dad which cheered me up no end. (Shout out to my Dad!). And now I’m committed to an afternoon of relaxation to make sure the butterflies are behind me.

I’ve always been more than happy to natter away openly about my anxiety and the challenges I am facing. The problem with writing a personal blog is that there is often stuff that happens in life that it’s not your place to share with the whole world wide web.

When I wrote at the end of Week Four, I mentioned that the year had gotten off to a tough start and I couldn’t really say anymore than that. I can’t really say anymore than that even now.

What I will say is that I’ve come to the realisation that normality is underrated and routine is not to be taken for granted. When things are ticking along just fine, we often find ourselves complaining we’re bored, but we don’t realise how lucky we are. Because when life turns upside down, you’ll find all you want is for life to go back to being boring again. 

I’m so glad March has come around. Spring in on the way and things can only get better.

Week Six

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week Four

Week four of 2019 began, for all of us, with Blue Monday. On Blue Monday, I felt surprisingly yellowI spent the tube journey smiling to myself like a fool. I was determined not to let the whole ‘Blue Monday’ label convince me that it was going to be a difficult day. After all, I did a little bit of research and it turns out that Blue Monday is a term which was created by a holiday company just to sell trips abroad! I’d had a wonderful weekend with a lovely friend and it’d left me feeling refreshed and determined. I’d decided this week was my do-over. Chapter five, take two.

It’s been a tough start to the year, for reasons I can’t really share with the world wide web. This was the first week I was back to some kind of normality again. This week, I had to go back to answering the question ‘How are you?’ without crying. In the end, this week was definitely a week for cutting myself some slack and giving myself a pat on the back for the little things I did better. Tough start to the year or not, I think we should all get better at rewarding ourselves for the small, everyday successes. Life’s not easy, even at the best of times…

Tuesday I worked from home, caught up on some studying, got myself organised for the rest of the week and made a sandwich for lunch on Wednesday. (making the sandwich was a step in the right direction sure, but it took all of two minutes, which did cause me to question why I ever spend money on lunch and can’t seem to make time to simply butter some bread and stick some ham on it every evening).

On Wednesday morning the butterflies woke up when I did and I wanted to hide away at home and go back to sleep. I perked myself up, kicked myself into action and that night, spent a lovely evening with a group of friends at an amazing italian restaurant called Pasta Brown. It’s in Covent Garden and if you haven’t been and you can go, you should. I had the Penne Pasta Brown and a slice of chocolate fudge cake and left very full and very happy. So full and happy that I fell asleep at 9:30pm, shortly after getting home.

The week soon came to an end and it’s been a chilled weekend thank goodness. Yesterday morning’s lie-in made me feel brand new. I left bed to grab tea, breakfast and my book. I then sat with the tv on (Saturday Kitchen made good background) and read, in bed, until lunch time.  In the afternoon Dave and I headed into London to meet two friends for a drink and a bite to eat. We hadn’t seen them in FOREVER and it was super lovely to catch up.

I was up reading late last night and indulged in another glorious lie-in this morning. I’m now nearly half way through Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and I am COMPLETELY hooked. It’s amazing.

Now Week Four’s nearly over and I’m just pleased I got up and at ’em every day and I was organised for once.

Dave and I are headed back to Chelmsford for the day today. Roast dinner at my mum and dad’s and over to see his parents’ too. I love Sundays.

2019 is just beginning. Plenty of time for resolutions yet.