Summer Holiday

The ideas are really flowing this week. I ask myself a lot what will I do when my debts are finally clear and my money is my own (it’s close now so the question pops up a lot) and there are a lot of big ticket things that I need to save for such as a new boiler but after struggling with fun stuff for so long it’s nice to turn my thinking to more enjoyable matters.

I want a holiday. I thought I needed to pack my bags and get on a plane and go somewhere. I do have bigger plans for Australia and China. I was going to say ‘someday’ holiday or that they’re for post-retirement but who knows if those days will ever come so they are not straight away holidays.

So I’ve been pondering where I can go. I’ll get my passport back (it ran out at Xmas and I’m waiting until this Brexit issue is resolved to get another one – although I could be waiting a while for that one….) and then I’ll fly away somewhere amazing.

This lunch though I had a different thought. The writer in the book I’m reading and is the inspiration behind all this activity talks about her Year of Water and taking off just doing something fun. For her she talks about the joy of driving American roads to get to the destinations and that not everyone is set in stone. I don’t drive but that doesn’t mean I can’t go anywhere although if you listen to some drivers it does.

Anyway, what popped into my head wasn’t abroad but the South East of England. I was annoyed earlier that my boss hasn’t got us SE England as part of our assurance work so hey I’ll go visit myself! At least this way I don’t have work getting in the way.

My plan then, formed while walking about on my lunch break, is to get the coach to Bristol (the difference between that and the train can be up to £200) and then decide what to do next. I really want to go back to the town of Glastonbury and visit the Tor again. I’m sad that when I was there last time I didn’t get to visit Wincanton so that’s on my list. I haven’t been to St Austell and Cornwall since 1990 so they’re on my list and while I’m there I’ve never been to Lands’ End so boom…another one for the list. I am making no plans beyond Day 1 travel and hotel stay. I want it to be as spontaneous as possible.

One of my favourite memories is my first ever holiday abroad where I was in a shop with my son (9 at the time) who was wearing a wrestling baseball cap. The shop owner asked him some questions about his favourite wrestlers then dropped the information that the WWE were in town the next day for a show. If I’d made lots of firm plans for that trip we may never have found out about the show or got to go to it. My son saw one of his idols at the event and was absolutely thrilled as it was a surprise showing.

That holiday I had booked a week in San Francisco and a week in Anaheim and didn’t bother to book the travel in between from getting from one place to the other. The result being we had a 13 hour Amtrak/coach journey that took us through cities, towns, a farmers’ field and the Californian mountains that I would never have seen if I’d booked a flight.

So I want to do the same but here in England. No plans, no itineries – just me, a suitcase and a vague idea. I can’t wait 🙂


To be or not to be…Self Employed

The thing about taking action, working on your priorities and making plans is that when focusing on positive stuff your mind goes crazy with so many ideas. I’ve been making lots of notes to try and focus a bit and had some really interesting results. I’ve started making sure I do one thing from my list of priorities daily even if like yesterday it was only spending 5 minutes browsing a website. That actually triggered something towards my ‘day job’ plans so was 5 minutes well spent. 

 My biggest focus seems to be what do I want to do when I grow up….I’ve been doing this for years now and got nowhere and I’ve come up with a few reasons why;

1.     In this Someday book I’m reading it talks about Fear and Faith and making a list under both as to why you want something and what is stopping you. I’ve noticed that when friends try and help my inner critic (chimp if you’ve read the Chimp Paradox) throws an absolute strop and starts telling me people are interfering, they should shut up and go away because it’s not going to work anyway. Then I’ve listened to it rather than them and given up before I’ve even tried to do something. I also recall spending a lot of time reading online articles about how hard it would be to be self employed and paid far too much attention to the negatives rather than finding some small business owners and asking for a counterpoint. I’ve definitely let fear rule me on this.

2.     My mum said a few years ago that she had never known me happy in a job. I think she said something along the lines of ‘Does any job make you happy’? I remember getting into a huff about it (truth hurts…) and well…not doing anything much except trying more jobs. Sitting an doing some honest thinking and looking at what my values are and what I would want from work the answer probably is to work for myself. However, the problem this is WHAT to do. Again I think this is why I’ve got nowhere. I’ve looked at a crafting business, a holistic business and the one that comes back all the time – my tea shop. I think that I spend so much time trying to do bits of each of them I ended up doing none of them. And the fear again I think links into this. If you subconsciously mess things up, everything goes wrong and your inner critic gets to be smug for being right. There is the possibility fo a tea shop that sells crafts and does the odd bit of crystal healing upstairs but blimey that sounds exhausting. Instead I need to pick one (I have) and make plans. My first step is to print off a blank business plan and use it as a goal planning exercise. The questions on these really make you dig deep. I’m going to use it on 2 of the ideas just in case one does turn out to be more feasible than the other. The other thing is something I took from the book which is to ‘make your project visible’. Part of that is to tell people but it also discussed a writer that couldn’t get started. She printed out a mock up of what she thought her book cover would be, pinned it up near her writing space and in no time at all had written her book. So step 2 will be a poster or similar of what I want my business to show.

3.     I need to re-evaluate what I want a business to be. I have some very grandiose ideas which really probably won’t happen. So while ‘thinking small’ can be a terrible thing that stifles people this is probably going to be a bit more realistic in this instance. It’s hard to set in motion plans which are just not going to work (to start with anyway) and again we start feeding the inner critic

4.     Yeah that inner critic really needs kicking into touch…..

So, the ideas are there now and I just need to make a few decisions to take everything forward. I wanted this year to be a year of action and so far I’ve got my wish.



Maybe it’s not my weekend

I’m a big believer in synchronicity and paying attention to signs and I seem to have been inundated by them lately. My recent blog posts have covered feeling stuck in a rut, dealing with stress and leaps of faith. I’ve recently started a book about ‘Someday’ and how we talk about doing things someday which eventually turns into not doing it at all. The book tackles doing things now; it may not be the whole dream but we can take steps.

The first step is taking stock of where we are and includes a few exercises to do this. One asked me if I was happy and to list it as a number from 1-10. Now originally I was going to put it about 7-8. As much as my anxiety is high at the moment I know why (I thought) and yet again I thought it’d be higher once my debts were cleared but it then asks some deep questions and I moved myself down to about 4-5. Now that sounds bad as I am happy within my nature if that makes sense but when I looked at what I want my priorities and values to be and what I am actually prioritising and doing on a daily basis I’m not even close. Some of that links to fear and worrying about failure or what others may think or simply using my debts as my ‘someday’ for procrastinating.

And it is an excuse I realised last night. I can’t do ….insert thing here…because I have no money until about Feb next year (earlier if I can manage it). Or putting off things that make my heart soar because I’m so tired doing things that don’t. It’s no wonder my anxiety is high when I spend 8 hours a day doing work that I don’t enjoy and have convinced myself the alternatives may never happen.

So what to do? Well I’m only 25% through the book so I imagine more changes will occur but having now a list of priorities I actually want it’s working as a starting point for change and auctioning my own leaps of faith. I spent a pleasant half hour this morning listing these priorities and brainstorming things I can do now (and not someday) to move myself forward. And funnily enough the majority of it didn’t include any cost at all.

There’s a book I read many years ago now called the 15 Minute Solution which advocates taking just 15 minutes on a task to beat procrastination. Set the timer and just ‘do’. I’ve used it in the past when I’ve not felt motivated by study or cleaning the house and it does work. If, once you have hit your 15 minutes you feel inspired to carry on then so be it. In a text conversation my friend mentioned how with her own journey she is tasked with making one small change at a time. I haven’t a different personality style and tend to be an all or nothing person so I’m re-instating the 15 minute rule to do some actions for 15 minutes per day on my priority list. Looking at the tasks I have already the majority of them can be fit into these little segments of time.

Then because positivity breeds more positivity and good news two good things happened:

1)    While checking up on my debt repayment plan one of the debts is actually due to be cleared in 2 more payments which frees up £80 per month to be divided up between the remaining ones which then means my plan of ending the year debt free (and 2 months earlier than planned) becomes more achievable

2)    A someday belief – I can’t restart my business until after my debts are cleared so no point doing anything about it. The reality epiphany: I have £73 due to me in the next few days in returned expenses. I don’t need the money for anything. The insurance is around £80-85. I can either just add £10 and buy it now and be back in business or I can use £40 of it (the remainder knocked off debts) and then add £10 a month until I get to the total. This also gives me time to refresh myself on some things and update my literature and I could potentially be back in business by the end of August. A scary (the FEAR!) but exhilarating thought.

I’m very intrigued as to what I’ll be thinking of by the time I’ve finished the rest of the book!

The title of today’s blog is taken from the song Weightless by All Time Low. This was the song I woke up with in my head this morning. Another sign. See what you think of the lyrics

Manage me, I’m a mess
Turn a page, I’m a book half unread
I wanna be laughed at, laughed with, just because
I wanna feel weightless and that should be enough

Well I’m stuck in this fucking rut
Waiting on a second-hand pick-me-up
And I’m over getting older

If I could just find the time
Then I would never let another day go by
I’m over getting old

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy, I don’t wanna waste another minute here

I make believe that I impress
That every word, by design, turns a head
I wanna feel reckless, wanna live it up just because
I wanna feel weightless ’cause that would be enough

If I could just find the time
Then I would never let another day go by
I’m over getting old

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy, I don’t wanna waste another minute here

This could be all that I’ve waited for
(I’ve waited, I’ve waited for)

And this could be everything I don’t wanna dream anymore

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
And I’ve been going crazy, I’m stuck in here

Maybe it’s not my weekend but it’s gonna be my year
(It’s gonna be my year)
And I’m so sick of watching while the minutes pass as I go nowhere
(Go nowhere)
And this is my reaction to everything I fear
(Everything I fear)
‘Cause I’ve been going crazy, I don’t want to waste another minute here

Anxiety and anniversaries

Edit: I wrote this before yesterdays post and was debating whether to post it but after some thought it’s important for me to be able to look back at it one day. I’ve done what I said in the blog: I’ve had my me-time – I’ve finished a craft project, restarted my gym programme, made some rather nice sweetcorn chowder and finished  a book. I feel so much better than when I started to write it.

Anxieties and Anniversaries

It’s been quite a high anxiety week for me this week. It mostly seems to be on a morning and settles down by 1/2pm. There’s no real trigger for it that I could say as the exact reason but I think I know where the root cause lies.

I usually have some kind of issue between the end of January to the end of April. There are the anniversaries of 5 deaths and this is also the time period when I had my last breakdown and ended up with the debt plan. This is something I’m still getting over because until the debts are repaid I can’t seem to draw a line under it and move on. It does dominate everything.

This year has been quite mild compared to other ones. It’s not every day I’ve struggled unlike the last 2 years where my emotions constantly got the better of me. This year it seems to be a few mornings and I feel really tired. It’s not been helped by working away. I don’t sleep properly in hotels and we weren’t in the best area to be able to go out and go for a walk. I think as well spending a full week with people I don’t know really well and so lost a lot of me time I’m used to having. I enjoyed getting to know my team but it’s probably exhausting trying to spend a week away without having mental health problems thrown in.

Working an extra day also lost me some recovery time to balance myself out. I did spend last Saturday afternoon with some good friends and then breakfast with another close friend but then this week has had a few too many late nights for a variety of reasons and on top of the higher anxiety it feels like I haven’t fully relaxed at all. I also think there have been too many things to think about at work, lots of decisions to be made. All part and parcel of being a government employee but it’s especially trying at the minute

So I think Friday and Saturday will be down time days, just doing whatever selfish/self care things that jump out for me. Sunday I’m going to my first ever chocolate festival which I’ve been looking forward to for a while. It’ll be a long day but I think a fun one (as long as I don’t eat too much chocolate…)

I learnt a long time ago that my anxiety is never going to go and that I have peaks and troughs and certain times of the year where it is higher than normal. For me it’s all about self care and taking time away to do the things I enjoy; crafting, reading, baking, walks, days out until things settle again and I know they will. My grandmother died around Easter 12 years ago now and even though quite often her actual death date isn’t always at Easter it’s now synonymous with it and I find it hard. I often book that week off work to take time for myself. I know that once Easter Monday has passed my mood tends to lift and I start to enjoy the rest of Spring and look forward to Summer and the rest of the year.

These insights into myself have come after many years. I didn’t always spot them to start with but over time I’ve learnt to spot my signs and how to deal with them.

Weekly Gratitude

This week I’m grateful for baking. I started baking again this year after quite a long break and have really enjoyed playing around with old recipes. I have a book of my mums from the 80’s with lots of recipes in that I’ve been using. The classics really are the best.

But that’s not what brought me joy this week, rather it was teaching my son to bake. He’s 25, autistic and has had a bad time recently with his mental health can cook really well but I don’t think he’s done much baking since school (he says he stopped around 13 when he chose his subjects for GCSE). He decided he wanted to make one of the Cadbury’s chocolate cake tanks from an old recipe card we had. We worked it out that it was from around 1984 and my mum used it for my brothers birthday.

I’ve posted the pictures below. He went to the shop for the chocolate but couldn’t get the flakes needed so we ended up with Twirl tanks. I think for me the best thing was the fun he had making everything. He was happy and carefree and there was a lot of laughter. Sometimes that’s all we need to boost our mood, to switch off from the negative news stories on TV and Social Media and do something fun and we certainly did that.

Weekly gratitude

Sometimes it’s very hard to write a weekly gratitude blog without repeating yourself or just saying daily that I love my house (and today I don’t because I was really cold last night no matter what I did). I often get to mid-week and think nothing different has happened so I have to start thinking outside the box. So this week I’m grateful for Twitter friends, books and synchronicity.

At the beginning of the week I read a post by another blogger about reading guilt and having too many books that need reading. I have been struggling with this most of the year. My work schedule has increased and my love for arts and crafts has too. Those two things plus finally having some energy to want to do more than burrow away escaping in a book. I’ve been guilty in the past of saying yes to too many blog tours and book reviews that there is no way on earth now I’ll be able to review in a timely manner which makes me both sad and a bit annoyed at myself for having poor impulse control.

Firstly then I’ve been scaling back the tours. I’m completing the ones I’ve agreed to then not taking on any more unless it looks like a book I absolutely must have/favourite author. Doing that means I am up to date with those and found myself in a weird position this week of having to choose a book to read with no time limits. My netgalley collection is at the point whereby most of the books have long past their release dates so they’re now just for fun and review until I get that pile down. I had a brief panic trying to pick something that didn’t require anything of me but to read it.

Going into my regular kindle list I randomly picked a book called Put Your Big Girl Panties On and Deal With It. According to my Goodreads account I read this a couple of years ago and seemed to have dismissed it a bit and have certainly forgotten it’s message which is a bit embarrassing. It’s quite possible though that I didn’t need it then. However re-reading it has far more resonance this time around.

The general premise is around the message of the title and getting those big pants on. It’s about being a Grown Up Woman and having a Little Girl at the same time (despite the female angle I think the message can be the same for any other gender). Sometimes we have to let our little gender of choice person out and have some fun but the fun stops when they take over and for whatever reason you end up scared, anxious, being childish etc. Sometimes they have trauma that has stopped them from doing something later in life (this is where relevance to me is coming in). The grown up has to learn to protect them and offer support but at the same time be a grown up and get things done. Not hide behind the inner voice of the child.

(There’s a similar theory in a book called the Chimp Paradox where the inner voice is a chimp. That book is far more scientific and for me, hard to read but if you want an in-depth study then a recommended book)

There are some things I’ve been thinking about and decisions where my inner little girl is taking over meaning things don’t get done. Then I just stagnate and life never changes and I stay in a negative position that I’ve been in for a long time. So I’ve been trying to talk to her, listen to my inner voice and feelings and look at where I can protect myself, have fun and well…just put my big girl pants on and make some changes.

Fire up the Quatro

I had a really good chat with my trainer at the gym this week about goal setting and how the last few months have affected me. Quite an eye opener to see how other people think of you.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I’d been suffering with a frozen shoulder/trapped nerve. Last time this happened it took 6 months to go back to normal. This time it’s taken about 10 weeks thanks to support from various people. But I don’t think I can blame the shoulder for everything that’s been going on.

I did so well last year being accountable for my health journey. I wore my smart watch and even if I didn’t manage 10,000 steps a day I made sure that every step was entered into a spreadsheet and I kept a record of my achievements. I also had a reduced sugar diet (not cut out completely but no chocolate and a reduction of stodgy foods).

For some reason in November I stopped doing this (I have a history of self sabotage and I think this plays a part in what happened) and kind of started Christmas very early. You know that excuse we all have for eating too much. Except I kept going and up until Friday was still doing it. I stopped wearing my watch with the idea  that I knew roughly how many steps I would do after diligently tracking all 2018 but I stopped the tracker too. On top of being ill I’ve let everything stop and got myself into a bad health place which I don’t enjoy.

The trainer mentioned how up to that November I was pushing myself and every session would try and do that little extra (maybe an extra sit up. At the end of the day I’m still an overweight wobbly girl but I was one that was trying to be less so) and that she noticed that my motivation has gone.

So we talked about accountability and we talked about goal setting and I left feeling really fired up. This is one of the things I love about my gym. It’s a women only one that works with half hourly sessions and the nature of it often means there is 1-2-1 support if you need it. They’re free to chat and support in whatever way is needed.

This afternoon after another good chat but with my friend I have put the smart watch back on charge ready for tomorrow and set up my spreadsheet tracker. I’m not going to be able to do the gym more than twice a week at the minute due to training and working away but I have the tools to do things at home and to walk. Walking played such a huge part of my journey last year so I need to get back into that good habit.

I’ve had a week off work, I feel the best I’ve been this year so far and my head is in a reasonably good place so this is a great time to harness that energy and move forward and start seeing those big goals I wanted way back in January 2018.