Duvet days are okay too

I’d love to be able to say that I haven’t written for so long, because I’ve been smashing through life, getting out for those daily walks and making the most of every day. Instead, I’ve just been getting by.

I am counting down the days until that first weekend when the rules in England change to allow enough flexibility for Dave and I to drive over and see family and friends in Essex. From a socially acceptable distance, of course. Outside.

We’ll pack the car up with enough stuff to cover us just in case we decide to camp out in someone’s garden and we’ll get our road trip playlist playing at top volume for the first time in ages. I’m imagining it’ll be sunny and we’ll both be wearing sunglasses and will have the windows wound down. It’ll probably rain, in which case we’ll be wearing waterproofs and arming ourselves with umbrellas.

Every day I’m faced with different emotions. Days like today I feel perky and positive and creative and like everything is going to be okay. Some days I feel the total opposite and find myself hiding under my duvet until the last possible minute, before having a quick shower and logging into work.

Honestly? I’m living a lazy lock down life. Like I say, I’m snoozing my alarm about 10 times every morning and logging into work for 10, just. I’m getting the odd virtual pilates or yoga class in here and there and I probably go for a walk about once a week. I’m actually cooking healthy dinners (I’m basically a pro-chef since I started ordering Hello Fresh boxes), but I’m eating rubbish all day (I’ve even started putting sugar on my cereal – I feel like it all goes downhill from here). I’m working 10-6, Monday to Friday, but not doing much else. This morning I actually said the words ‘let’s put the weekend flat clean off until tomorrow’, choosing to ignore the washing up on the side (those of you who know me will find this shocking – Only took me a whole year in lock down to learn to chill.)

The way I see it, I’m chilling now while I’ve got the chance. Time will fly and before long we’ll be filling weekends with plans, setting 6am alarms, running late always, running out of clean clothes most weeks and feeling like we never have enough time for ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. Until that day, I’ll be here in my comfy clothes, eating mini eggs and watching Heartland. Not long now.

Much ado about nothing

I’ve been feeling melancholy and I can’t really put my finger on why.

This bit between Christmas and New Year is always a funny one. This year it feels weirder than ever.

Over the long weekend I felt like I actually switched off from work for the first time in forever. With the lines having been blurred between work and home for a while now, it’s been hard to relax properly or create proper down time. Especially while stuck at home. It felt really good to forget about everything for a bit.

But now we’ve hit Chrimbo Limbo again and I feel hit by the impending doom of another couple of months in lock down. The news gets gloomier all the time and it seems more likely than not that the new restrictions will be here to stay for the time being. I’m looking ahead to a couple of months of days exactly like today and I’m not excited about the prospect.

I feel re-energised after my switched off weekend and now I want something exciting to look forward to. I want to make New Year’s Resolutions which involve a travel bucket list and saying yes to more stuff, when in reality I probably need to resolve to be grateful for what I have and stay positive and learn to take things as they come. There are resolutions that I actually stand more chance of keeping during a pandemic – get fit, spend less money in bars and restaurants, learn a new language, read all of my books but they’re not resolutions I actually want to make right now.

It’s not just that though, it’s also that I miss my family and I actually kinda feel a little home sick for the old house. Which I can’t deny, no matter how much I love our new home and the cute Christmas tree we put up Christmas Eve and my new book shelves.

I do feel better today already simply because one of my besties shared a voucher with us for free Hello Fresh meals and now I’ve yummy dinners to look forward to all of next week.

Work drew a lot of my focus today and that felt good too. I do enjoy my job and throwing myself into work would probably help. A break is good for the soul, but a return to routine is always good for me too.

All of that said, maybe I just feel blue, because it’s a kinda blue time of year. And maybe I’m totally over-thinking it. And maybe I’m feeling sorry for myself at a time when I should be counting myself lucky to be healthy and employed.

That’s it. I’m done moping. One day at a time from here and I’m going to keep busy, switch my anxious brain off (except when it’s needed for actually important stuff) and focus on the positives. We’ve got free food arriving at the weekend. What could be better than that!?

Early Days

My first day alone at the flat, I felt poorly all day. Whilst I’d usually be able to suss out whether it was in my head or not, this time I really wasn’t sure. People don’t talk enough about the physical symptoms that come with stress and anxiety. I know my body well enough now that I will go whole days feeling sick and headachy and knowing it’s just my mental health that’s not quite right. I was so physically tired too that, on this occasion, I ended up concluding that it was probably a bit of both – Partly in my head and partly my body saying ‘please, just sit still for one moment’.  

I put too many towels in the washing machine and had to hang them on an airer over the bath to dry, because they came out so wet. I fell asleep after eating lunch on the sofa and nearly missed the door when the clothes rail was delivered. I spent the whole day battling against tiredness and anxiety and whilst I got a lot done in the end, I never felt fully accomplished and the tasks ahead of me felt increasingly daunting as time went on. 

Day three at the new flat and the negative thoughts came raining down. I found myself doubting whether Dave and I were going to be happy after all. I felt like a failure, because there was so much sorting still to be done. I told myself I’d be an even bigger failure if I didn’t get out of bed, in the shower, on a bus and into town to do my Christmas shopping and yet just the thought of doing that made me want to curl up under my duvet and never appear again. It was my final day booked off work and I felt like the pressure was on to get the most out of it.

It took me finally grabbing my journal and writing everything I was feeling down to realise that I’d been doing just fine: At a time when my emotions were all over the place, bit by bit I was making this new home our own and for that I knew I should be proud. And anyway, since when was being super productive the only way to make the most of a day off work!? Sometimes all you need is a proper chill out.

New, unfamiliar environments are big and scary, always. The first few days in a new home are never easy, no-matter what anyone might tell you. Now over one week into living here and (setting aside all that’s going on outside of our little new home bubble) I feel content here. Everything is a bit of a mess. The place is littered with boxes and with furniture still on order, there’s not really a place for anything yet. The kitchen is the closest to organised and even that’s not completely sorted. BUT the new flat feels lived in already and if you ask me, that’s the most important thing of all!

This is not easy

Just thought I’d pop up today to point out the obvious – Christmas is not going to be as planned and whether you’re directly affected by the changes announced yesterday or not, the news we’re now hearing is not easy to receive.

At the end of a year when we’re all feeling lonely, tired and mentally exhausted and many of us heartbroken after the loss of loved ones or fearful for loved ones who are unwell, we’ve just been told things are worse than ever out there. We’re being told to stay home as much as possible and we’re being told that, at a time when we would usually be seeing as many family members and friends as humanely possible, we should be seeing very few, in some cases none at all.

So, I don’t know who needs to hear it, but this is not easy. Cut yourself some slack.

Firstly, today put ‘watch upbeat, cheerful film’ on your to-do list. Writing a to-do list is a very helpful way of taking control back and of giving yourself something to work towards, something you can pat yourself on the back for having achieved at the end of the day. Today, try and put stuff on the to-do list that you actually want to do. Add ‘read a book’ to your to-do list so that you can reward yourself for just having done that. On days like today, anything you choose to do other than sitting staring at the wall is an achievement – It’s not easy to do the things you enjoy when you’re feeling blue.

Get outside today. Whether you want to or not, once you’re out and about you’ll feel so much better. Remember that you are not trapped in your home. You are allowed to walk about, run about, exercise outside as much as you want to and being outside is so good for your mental health. Take advantage of the freedom you do have.

Reach out to loved ones and friends today. Let them know you’re there (to all my family and friends reading, please please pick up the phone if you need). Also go to family members and friends today, even if you don’t feel like talking. A phone call can solve a multitude of things, even if you go into a conversation not exactly sure what you want or need to get out of it. I know from experience that rambling onto a willing person over the phone can allow you to let go of emotions you weren’t even sure how to process by yourself.

All of that said, if you feel like doing nothing at all do that instead and do not feel guilty for it either. Watch a film, don’t watch a film. Read a book, don’t read a book. Get outside, don’t get outside. Do whatever you need to today to make yourself feel better. This is far from easy, but you’re not alone.

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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 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 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 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.

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!