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!?

Proud

Another post already!? Can you believe it?

I remember when I went through a phase of wishing and hoping and dreaming of my blog becoming a massive hit and me being given my own column in a hugely famous magazine. I went and read all these posts from other bloggers about how to gain a following and how to keep them captivated.

Keeping your followers captivated. Rule number one. Write consistently and frequently. One day, the same day, every week or something like that. Every day if possible.

My inspiration comes and goes. My blogspiration comes at the most random times and goes again in a flash! I admire all of the bloggers and writers out there that have deadlines and meet them. I honestly don’t know if I could ever actually write in such a regulated way and I suppose I’m just grateful for the small following I do have.

Right now I feel blogspired, because I’m ill and mopey and yet I just stuck some music on, grabbed my book, got tea and within a few minutes, perked myself right up! I just caught myself smiling and I felt this overwhelming sense of accomplishment and happiness.

My throat hurts and I’ve got a cough. Isn’t that just the most annoying combination!?Apparently this is the week everyone gets sick. Monday was National Sickie Day. Unfairly named I’d say, seeing as the vast majority of people probably are genuinely ill and are not just faking it. After all, we’ve been cold for too long. We need spring.

I tell you what though… Dave’s been nagging me to have Lemon and Ginger tea when I’m full of cold for years and I don’t like lemon so I’ve been ignoring him. Until today that is. Today I’m drinking Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger and Honey tea and my goodness he was right all along! The ultimate cold buster. It’s a shame he’s not here to tell me he told me so.

Smiling goofily at my laptop right now’s got me thinking, it really is the little things in life. What makes you feel proud might seem to someone else not to be an accomplishment at all. But that’s why we should never ever compare ourselves to others. I think that’s why I wanted to write; just to say I’m proud. And you should be too, of whatever little thing you’ve overcome today.

Today, I feel proud because I’m home alone and I’m unwell and I’ve no idea what I’m cooking for dinner and usually my butterflies would be fluttering, but instead I’m smiling. Hooray to that!

Mind over matter

Recently, my beautiful cousin wrote a blog on mindfulness. (It’s well worth a read and the link is at the bottom of this post. I’ve also included the link to a mindfulness meditation video which helped me heaps.) And I mention it because even more recently I discovered just how practicing mindfulness can help. In the spirit of being honest, when I first read my cousin’s post I underestimated mindfulness. I didn’t think it was for me. I thought meditation was a thing I’d struggle with in many ways. Then, one down day last week left me feeling particularly shaken.

I truly believed that I’d hit the bottom. Considering how well things were going, I can’t quite believe how pessimistic I felt. I was tired of being anxious and I wanted to give up. I felt hopeless and I was convinced that every day of the rest of my life, I’d be miserable. I’ve felt all of this before, but this time the thoughts were scarier and more consuming. Perhaps all of the anxiety I’d been feeling over the last couple of weeks had been smothered in a way, by all the good stuff I was feeling and this was it bursting out. I was exasperated by the fact I still felt anxious when the past couple of weeks had been so truly amazing and rationally, I knew I should be so calm and happy.

In the end, I rang The Samaritans and they stayed on the phone until I was out the other side. I didn’t call them because I believed I might kill myself. I called them because I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling rationally and I didn’t want to panic family and friends. I felt like if I didn’t get it out of my had by talking about it to someone, I would be giving the feelings more power over me and they would become too much for me to handle. The Samaritans were amazing and if you ever need them, you can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123. 24 hours was all it took before I was practising mindfulness on my bedroom floor for the first time and feeling like I could go on.

I hadn’t truly felt like I was in control again since the phone call. A half hour after they’d convinced me to try putting the phone down and getting on with my day, I had pretty much decided that I was going to carry on feeling helpless and I’d just call The Samaritans every day for the rest of my life so that they could get me through it.

Laying flat on my back, on the floor, listening to a mindfulness video, I discovered the power of being in the moment and coming to the realisation that we have power over our minds, not the other way ’round. It honestly took ten minutes of being mindful for me to believe in myself again. Since then, I feel stronger than ever. I only wish I’d believed enough to try it sooner.

What’s also amazing is that once I’d been mindful I finally felt I could tell people around me how I’d felt. I told Dave, I told my brother, I took control back and I moved onwards and upwards.

Right now, I’m sat on an actual sofa (because we have one actual sofa now) and I’m looking at our beautiful living room (that now has house plants in it, including a wonderful cactus called Patrick) and I’m smiling hugely even though it’s all grey and gloomy outside. These last two weeks have been far from miserable. Believe it or not despite my emotional all over the place-ness, they’ve been great.

I’ve applied for lots of jobs and despite having heard nothing yet, am still feeling determined. They’re not all in schools. I’m applying for all kinds of things, because saving money for my masters feels like the priority now.

I’ve started writing my first ever song and I’ve been keeping up the piano practice.

I finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I thoroughly enjoyed it… It made my heart sing.

I bought a foot stool and can now reach the top of my new wardrobe.

I’m getting to know the new area. I’ve been ’round to the local shops and been into town a few times now and it feels more like home every day.

We’ve had more wonderful friends over to visit. Two brought flowers with them. One brought Christmas crackers along because why not? One brought yorkshire puddings and helped us to make our first flat Roast which came out really well! (I feel more lucky every day to have the friends I do.)

Dave and I have been out for dinner and been to the cinema, been record shopping together and we’ve started working through the list of films we’ve been meaning to watch for ages and without setting off anyone’s cheese allergies I have to honestly say how lovely it is to be in the same place and actually be able to spend time together and do actual couple things. So yeah, he hasn’t driven me crazy yet, but watch this space I guess.

One film we watched was ‘Hidden Figures’, which I have to give a special mention to before I go. It is simply phenomenal. I cannot believe that I did not already know the stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson and I’m so glad I do now. The film is eye-opening, uplifting and inspirational. Watch it whenever you get the chance.

My cousin’s blog post:

http://speakingtheunspokenword.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/be-mindful-about-your-mind.html

The Mindfulness video I used:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_yaNFSYao

10 reasons to read more

One – Reading is for everyone. Okay, so you read one book by Dan Brown and you can’t handle the suspense, or decipher the intellectual gobbeldy-goop. I’d disagree with you when you said you didn’t enjoy it, but I wouldn’t judge you for it. Maybe you’ll say that means reading isn’t for you. Except there are millions of other books out there, all different. There’s one out there somewhere that’ll get you hooked. I know it.

Two – It’s fun and easy. You can claim that reading’s too much like hard work, but when you start reading you’ll realise it’s not. In fact, I feel more brain dead after a netflix binge than I do at the end of a book. Stick with it, the more you read the better your brain gets at it. Eventually, with perseverance and a little patience, you’ll forget to try. The story will come alive before your eyes.

Continue reading 10 reasons to read more

A week in the life

Oh, I do love a Sunday.

This one feels like it has come around so fast; I feel like it was only a few minutes ago I was sat on that train writing last week’s post. I had a great day with my friends in London and didn’t want to come home. This week’s not been too shabby though:

I spent another two days volunteering and loved it as always.

I’ve been to the library to pick up some reading for a previously mentioned Music Therapy masters course. I’m hoping doing more reading will help me to make a more educated decision about whether or not said potential career path is really for me.

I also sat down at the piano and didn’t sing: I pushed the microphone to one side and had a muck about to see if I could remember my Grade 5 pieces. (I reckon I’ll need to do a few more grades if I’m going to apply to any further music courses.) It would be fun to have lessons again and I think if I promise to practice more than I did in high school, my old teacher might just have me back. We’ll see.

I backed out of my fitness class, but did go swimming, so that’s something.

I went on a ‘banging’ night out with some friends and I’m feelin’ 22 again. (I’ve been a bit of an old lady recently. Bed’s been my best friend.)

Dave came home! He’s been working away, so I haven’t seen him in a little while. It was very good to have him back, even if briefly.

Oh, and I spent a day helping out in a junior school! I enjoyed my time there, everyone was lovely, I appreciated the insight into mainstream education and I’m now even more excited for the opportunity on the horizon.

Full steam ahead really. Nothing else to report, just another week in my life.

Sunshine, friends and dodgy signal

I’m on a train, London bound and the sun is out and I’m happy as Larry but the signal keeps dropping in and out so this will have to be a quick one.

Feeling wonderful this week! Volunteering again has genuinely been so much fun and I’ve caught up with a few close friends who I haven’t seen in a really long time. Somehow, catching someone up on life always helps me see everything from a new perspective.

Taking things a day at a time is the key. Thinking short-term, I’m pleased to be helping the Alzheimer’s Society out again. Thanks to the fact I’m pretty good at saving and I’m very good at keeping busy, life’s pretty fine and dandy. It’s looking too far into the future that’s daunting. It’s expensive houses and expensive masters degrees that have every twenty-something year old grumbling about the fact there’s no hope. Even when I go back to working, I don’t know how I’m meant to make enough money to adult properly. 

I’m meeting up with two more wonderful people I haven’t seen in months today and they always inspire me. We’ve got a whole afternoon and I know that it’s going to fly by, so I am determined to make the most of it. At least I’m not alone in this finding my way thing.

I love being on trains. Even busy ones. It doesn’t matter how much I do it, the novelty just doesn’t wear off. Okay, so if you’re standing like sardines on a hot summer’s day, perhaps that’s the exception. That aside, I always enjoy it. Can’t help wondering where everyone’s going and what they’re doing.

September already, say what?

Seriously, where did the summer go!? It’s raining, I’m wearing socks and a cardigan, I feel the sudden urge to light candles again, I used my umbrella last night, help!

You know what? No need to panic. September is a funny kind of month. It might be raining now, but the sun could reappear at any point. I betcha I’ll just get used to grabbing a jacket on the way out of the house and suddenly it’ll be my sunglasses I need again. Britain is the king of mini heat waves.

For the whole of my life so far September has been a fresh start. It’s like the new year, except it’s only applicable to those still in education. New teachers, new classes, brand new exercise books, new homework diaries, new everything.

It seems that if you decide to work in education, when you finish education, the same still applies. I just can’t shake the feeling that a new chapter is beginning. I’m sad that summer is over, but also a little excited about the prospect of a new school year.

I’ve got a job on the horizon at another school for children with special educational needs, one a little closer to home and one where I hope to explore the music therapy avenue a little more.

Until that job begins, I’m going to get back into volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Society. I went into the office to get all signed up again this week and I loved it. If Alzheimer’s Society could afford to pay me to do what I do as a volunteer, I’d do it for the rest of my life. I’m grateful I have some time to help again, before getting back to work.

Right now though, I’m sat on my bed, an old One Republic tune just shuffled its way into my speakers and I’m feeling sleepy. I’m wondering whether to read a new book or just carry on watching Homeland on Netflix. Reading might just make me want to nap, but watching Netflix always turns my brain to mush. Sometimes it’s hard being lazy. I know I’ll be dreaming of days like this in a month or two. Must enjoy it while it lasts. Lazy Sundays are tradition after all.

A letter to my younger self

Heyyou,

Believe it or not, it’s me. I’m you. Okay, well that’s confusing.

You’ll be sad to know I’m not famous yet. There’s still a big part of me that just wants to get up on stage every day and sing my heart out, but no, unfortunately that is not what I’m doing. Good news is, I’ve graduated now! Yep, that’s right. To say I found university hard would be an understatement, but I made it out the other side and I’m still standing. I looked great in the funny hat and robe, I did some travelling and now I’m looking for work – proper adult style.

So you’ve finished Year 11 and you’re going into Sixth Form College. Everyone’s telling you that you just have to go to uni. No-one’s telling you about the options you can take that don’t involve moving miles away from home and taking a really big loan from the government, go to them and ask them about them! Make sure you know you have a choice.

University did us an awful lot of good, but we would have been fine without it too. There’s some amazing people in my life right now that might want to kill you if you decide never to meet them though, just saying.

All I want you to know is that I still don’t have it all figured out. I still don’t have an answer to the question ‘What do you want to do for the rest of your life?’ and I’m beginning to finally realise that that is okay. Honestly, you don’t need to have all the answers, have fun, follow your heart and you’ll be fine.

Don’t let people tell you that you need a plan. Take it as it comes.

I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t rush. If you need a year out, take one. Listen to your own heart and don’t let what anyone else is doing sway you. You can make all the big decisions you like, but when you’re 22 you’ll just be sat wondering why you worried so much. You’ll still have changed your mind a million times. Plans change, things change, life happens, but it’ll all be alright in the end.

Lastly, if you do go to uni, don’t take that bottle of apple sours and don’t let your flatmates give you tequila either. Try Sambuka instead, you’ll thank me for it.

Yours-self,

Bronwen

Here comes the sun (do dee do doo)

Genuinely struggling to piece this week together. It’s been a long one, a busy one, a stressful one at times, but ultimately a good one. 

Wednesday was a very good day, I remember that. For my birthday, Dave bought him and I tickets to see The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre. For those who don’t know, The Woman in Black is a spooky, thriller that has been running at the Fortune Theatre since 1989. Both Dave and I have wanted to see it for years. It’s infamous for scaring audiences silly, but well known for being an exceptional play.

I had booked the day off in advance, planning to spend the whole day with him. We took our time getting up and out of bed and then grabbed an amazing breakfast in a cafe called ‘A Canteen’. I 100% recommend it. We chilled in central park in the sunshine for a long while and then we headed into London. We popped to Maccy D’s super quick before the show started and then we got to the theatre just early enough for the nerves to build before it began. I’m not going to lie, while we sat waiting I began to wonder if going had been a good idea after all and whether I was going to be able to sit through it beginning to end and I’m glad it started when it did because a minute longer and I may have sissied out and walked straight back out the theatre.

I was so impressed. It was clever, funny, unpredictable, gripping and terrifying and I loved it. It was everything I hoped it would be and more and I am so glad we went! It was just the right amount of scary. Not so scary I couldn’t watch, but scary enough to give me chills.

When we left the theatre it was a beautiful summer evening and I was ridiculously happy. We wandered home slowly via embankment and Hungerford Bridge. I do not think I will ever tire of looking at the view from that bridge. Nothing beats it.

Friday was the last day of this school term and I think I’ll remember it for a long time to come. It was probably one of the best days I’ve had at the school. We had a lot of fun and I admit, it all left me feeling a little emotional. Working at the school has been challenging, you’ll have gathered that if you’ve been keeping up, but it has also been amazing in so many ways. Many life decisions are to be made over the next month or so. Whether to stay at the school or not is something I’ll have to decide before anything else and right now, I feel so torn. Where from here? Teaching? On the job training? Back to University?

This weekend has been super summery and a lot of fun too. I’ve caught up with friends, been out for a fantastic Chinese dinner, had a glass of wine or two and nearly finished my book. Here’s hoping this summer is everything I need it to be. Time to think is a luxury not everyone has and I hope I can make the most of it. Come September I have to pick a path and walk down it and whatever will be, will be. 

“Always look ahead, but never look back” – Miles Davis

I just closed my laptop lid and then opened it again about five times in a row. Honestly? This week at work has been really hard, more challenging than ever, and right now I’m full of butterflies. The minute I’m done writing this I’m going to go sit at the piano and sing my heart out. The temptation is of course, to stop writing and just get straight to it, but if all of the ‘top tips for bloggers’ sites agree on anything, it’s that you have to be consistent. Blogging every Sunday except for when you don’t want to, doesn’t quite cut it. 

You know what? If this week has taught me anything it is that I have some amazing people in my life. Not only have I been reminded that the people in my life will support and love me no matter what, but I’ve found that many of the new people in my life are just as incredible.  

AND you know what? The past week aside, this weekend has been great! 

I very nearly backed out of doing anything and opted for a weekend curled up in bed in pyjamas. Instead, I walked ’round the corner to my best friends house. We spent Friday evening, talking everything through, drinking tea and listening to music. By the time I left, she had me convinced I could get on with it and have myself a good weekend.

So on Saturday, I jumped on a train and headed up to Birmingham to visit one of my friends and we went along to the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival at Moseley Park. It was pretty awesome. The atmosphere was amazing. The rain held off until midnight. The music was varied and brilliant. The artists all looked like they were having the time of their life.

The biggest names were Craig Charles (who was in attendance despite a leg injury and whizzed around all day on a mobility scooter) and Average White Band (who I didn’t think I’d heard of until they started playing hits like ‘Let’s go round again’ and I found somehow, I knew all of the words). Brian Augar was there too and I think he might have been my favourite. For those who don’t know, he’s a jazz keyboardist and he’s super cool. There was such a diverse audience of people too. I hadn’t known what to expect in the lead up, but I’ll definitely attend a jazz festival again and whether you enjoy jazz, funk or soul, or not, I’d definitely recommend it!

Now it’s my favourite day of the week again and I’m moving forward. I’m popping a quote from one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time in the ‘Title’ field before I press post and then I’m getting myself a cup of tea. Tomorrow is a new day.