This has definitely been a year of two halves. I started the year part way through a daily blogging challenge, I had cut out about 80% of sugar and was trying to get in 10,000 footsteps per day in lieu of any other exercise and combined I managed to achieve quite a lot. Then I had some health issues, I wasn’t keen on the job I was doing and was demotivated there, my finance struggles seemed to worsen and looking back since around August I seem to have lost the plot with everything. Blogs have been sporadic and I definitely haven’t achieved my footsteps. In some ways the footsteps wasn’t an issue as I’d joined a gym and was doing 3 half hour sessions per week. However I pretty much sucked back in that 80% of sugar.

I’d got to the point where I’d lost 27lbs – 1lb off of 2 stone in UK measurements. Partly I think I sabotaged myself a bit but I also did what I always do when I’m stressed and I ate. I ate so much crap. Luckily when I’ve stood on the scales I’ve only gained 5lbs. I can work with that and have a mini goal to get rid of that by the end of this month plus that one more pound that takes me to that magical 2 stone figure. Regardless of what the end figure is on New Years Eve, 2018 is the best year I have had for diet and exercise in about 20 years so it can only be a positive

I stopped communicating in many ways whilst my depression and stress levels were high except for my book blog. I read a lot, even more when I’m in a down swing as it’s an escapism so that blog has done wonders. But I think I have more to say and am starting to miss this one so, while I may not get back into daily blogging I should at least be around more. 

I’ve started some planning for 2019. I found a notebook with so many lists of things I’d like to do, or read, or learn. One in particular is a list of all the jobs I need to do in the house. Not everything on these lists is do-able and certainly not in one year but they’re a good starting point for getting out of the house more and engaging with life.

I’ll add to this over the next few weeks as we come to the end of the year. One of the lists was of the things I wanted to achieve in 2018 so it will be interesting to see how much of that has happened. 


Good news versus bad news

I’m currently reading a book called Weight Loss for People who Feel Too Much while I’ll review shortly but there’s a part in it that made me think about our actions and the way we talk to others.

In the book one of the recommendations is to live life more simply by cutting back on the amount of negativity we subject ourselves to. By that I mean reading less gossip magazines, cutting down (or out) of social media, less news article and trying to reduce the amount of negative conversations we have.

I can do most of that and apart from too much social media. I spend a lot of time on public transport including trains and it’s an easy way to pass the time. Even though I have a kindle to read I often flick between that and social media more than I need to. So in that I need to cut down.

It’s the negative conversations that struck me though. How often do we spend time chatting with our friends and it’s all about how bad our day was, what traumas we overcame that day and what gossip we had found out. How often do we ring or text our friends and say ‘Do you know I’ve had a lovely day, some good chats with work colleagues and the bus was on time to get me home…’ or whatever happens. I think we are often far too quick to moan and not celebrate the good things.

I don’t think myself and my friends do it enough. I think we can do better. Although it’s not all doom and gloom. Myself and my best friend are having a detox week – her with caffeine and me with fizzy diet drinks. We’ve been texting daily with how well that’s going and how we are overcoming cravings or planning for any self sabotage. There’s been lots of encouragement and ideas flowing over how we can move forward with the next stage in what we both need to do in a dietary for our positive mental health (less caffeine and sugar). Now those are positive conversations.

You can’t ban all negativity though. Sometimes you have bad days and need to vent to your friends or significant other. Not talking creates even more negative mental health and as my depression came from this I would always advocate talking. It’s finding the right balance between talking about issues and becoming an energy vampire. Do you make a rule to only discuss issues at a certain time or never during the evening meal? I’m going to chat this over with my friends and see what rules we can come up with for our group.

But I am definitely going to work on my balance and concentrate on not overwhelming people with negative thoughts.

New job, new positivity

I am now two and a half weeks into my new promotion. And what a difference those 12 (working) days have made! The funny thing is way back when I wasn’t even sure if I should put the application in my self esteem and motivation was that low. However I also knew that the only way to change the situation I was in was to push myself; put the application in and see what the feedback was and act on it. Luckily for me the feedback was a new job.

I’ve spent so many years being told that things cannot happen for ‘business reasons’ (such as sideways moves). It’s very hard to get out of my old job unless you are promoted. But here in my new place they actively encourage changing teams to prevent boredom and stagnation. In the first 3 hours of my new job my manager was discussing the best way to get competencies for the NEXT promotion.

And that’s where the biggest change has come from. I feel like I’ve gone from small to big thinking. Whereas this promotion seemed half impossible and if achieved possibly my ceiling. Now I’m at the bottom of the next ladder looking up at so many choices. Yet I’m actually still working for the same company.

I’ve also felt motivated to do some more things for myself. There’s a gym and swimming pool onsite that I will look into once I finish a training course that will take me away from home until the end of October. I’ve put my name down to join a walking group. I try and walk 8000 steps a day as a minimum and have always fancied ‘proper’ walking so figured why not?? There’s also a knit n natter group for my more crafty side.

And to capitalise on my new big thinking I’ve joined the works library (based in London – they post the books to you) and got my first coaching book on mistakes women make that sabotage their careers. Yes careers – I have one and want to push it further which seemed impossible six months ago.

It’s astonishing what change can bring when you let go and decide to see what happens.

The road to promotion

Next week I leave my job, take two weeks annual leave (vacation) and then on the 12th September start my new job, a promotion I didn’t think I’d ever apply for.

It’s been a rough 2.5 years preceding this. January 2014 I started a job working as a community work coach coaching people into work and supporting those who were in recovery from drugs and alcohol and homeless/housing issues. Three weeks into the job I found out, at a jobs fair no less, that my real dad was dead and had been for a couple of years. I was devastated far more than I expected as I’d been brought up by someone else. But the idea that you’ll never see someone again, never fix the rift between you, never forgive them (to their face) or talk to them again – that hit me hard. Two weeks after that news my step-uncle died and a year later one of my good friends lost her battle with cancer. That one broke my heart completely and I still miss her and talk to her most days.

In the middle of all that my son had a breakdown during university and spoke of suicidal feelings (he’s recovered now). I nearly lost my house, my debts were so unmanageable. February 2015 my boiler burst ruining my ceiling and carpets. The insurance I’d been paying for years turned out to be worthless. We had no heating or hot water for six weeks. It cost me more to fix the problems in the end than it would to have just bought a new boiler.

So depressed child, broken heart, broken boiler, mounting debts. It’s no wonder I had a breakdown of my own. I managed while off ill to get the boiler sorted, my debts sorted with Stepchange and put my child on the road to recovery. So it’s all good right???

Then I got ill!! I already suffer with sciatica, I had childhood arthritis which has been dormant for many years (only mild pain) but coming back and finally I started with sharp pains in my shoulder. Months of doctors visits and some physio and I was diagnosed with a trapped nerve, something like but not quite a frozen shoulder and RSI down my left arm! You know because why have one problem when you can have five!! Good job I have a sense of humour.

So at Easter when I moved teams to try and make life a bit easier physically I was in a very fragile state and feeling really sorry for myself. But I try and be positive and look at how I could start to turn my luck around and decided I was going to just go for it and apply for the promotion exercise when I saw it. What’s the worst that can happen? I stay with a team that were friendly and supportive and get on with the job in hand. Not really a hardship. But with some coaching and guidance I put my application in and several months later here I am – a week off a major change.

I really do feel like this is the beginning of some golden time. A new challenge, a few extra quid to pay of those debts and to be able to relax about various things. It’s been a long hard slog but finally everything seems to be on the up and while I’m still in a little shock for the first time in years I’m looking forward to what happens next xxx

What a difference no anxiety makes

I’ve recently secured a promotion in my day job. From September I’ll be a grade higher at work with a lot more pressures. My friend asked if me if I thought I could cope with the changes especially with past mental health and anxiety issues. I responded that with the mixture of meditation and mindfulness I’ve been practising over the last year I really think I’ll be ok.

And it’s kind of been proved twice this last week. Firstly a friend said she may have to cancel our holiday which would lose us our £50 deposits. Old-me would have been knee deep in paranoia in seconds wondering what I’d done wrong, panicking that because as I’m in debt what I could have done with that £50. I’d sulk for days and just be completely miserable. New-me had a 5 minute sulk, accepted the money could be lost then started thinking about how I could just book myself a last minute National Holidays trip as I’ll still have the time off work.

Then this morning I woke up to find the washer had stopped mid cycle and the washing had spent the night lying in a tub full of water and stunk awful. Old-me would have completely flipped, panic attacks, crying over the thought of buying a new washer. I’m in debt where will the money come from. My life is over….

New-me had another little sulk mostly over the thought of hand wringing all my clothes. Then I took a step back from the situation, realised there was no flood or seeming burst pipes. No kitchen-turned-swimming pool. It could well be a blown fuse. And if it isn’t then I have the money that is set aside for my holiday plus I’ve been meaning to sell the chest freezer for months so if I sort myself out & get it on gumtree and sell it I have most of the cost of a new washer within the week.

Yes I’d lose my holiday but I still have the time off work and as I’m getting a pay rise with the promotion would be able to afford a last minute National Holidays trip as well!! It was the fuse, by the way and 70p later it was all fixed and working good as new 🙂

So two things that would once have sent me spiralling dealt with and moved on with quite quickly. Even I’m surprised how well I handled it. Currently feeling very pleased with myself and looking forward to coping as well with things going forward 🙂

Our Impact on Others

It’s funny how we make decisions and offers without ever looking at the impact on other people. There’s so much negativity around at the minute that I thought I’d concentrate on the positive ways we can do this.
For example a few months ago I had the opportunity for a long weekend away at a discount price. I looked at my friends and whipped off an email asking if one of them would like to go. I based this simply on the fact that like me she liked Disney.
What I didn’t know is this friend has never been abroad and rather than just a fun few days away from home, it’s a much bigger deal – her first holiday in another country, buying a passport and all the excitement that first time brings. No wonder she responded in seconds!
I have without thinking offered her an amazing opportunity.
In my day job I work with people on state benefits. They have to attend appointments on the same day every fortnight. On this occasion my customer asked if he could come in a day late. Why? So he could get married and spend two days at a hotel nearby. He was prepared to rush back if I said no. There’s a whole other article that could be written on the idea and fear that someone wouldn’t be granted this but it’s a positive blog. Anyway, of course I arranged for him to come in a day later. It’s no big deal for me just like the email about a holiday was no big deal.
But if course it was for them. They were getting married! They had their two days away and when he came in to see me I was given a little gift of bath salts with a lovely proverb on and message. Absolutely lovely present but on both occasions I don’t think I did anything special.
So I guess the message is to think before you act. These were positive actions and if I’d never asked my friend about a  trip she may not have been any the wiser but so easily a throw away comment or declining a request can have devastating impacts while you go on your merry way. If we all gave thought to how our actions impact on others we may be quite surprised by the results

Life without TV

I’ve had various satellite TV packages for the last 25 years. TV, films, sports and son on. I daren’t even add up how much I have spent financially on this never mind the hours given up to sit in front of the goggle-box.
A few months ago I got it into my head to re-watch all my Supernatural box sets. That’s 10 series I personally have each with 22 episodes. A lot of DVDs! I watched  maybe 2 a day and a couple more each weekend and as you can imagine it took a few months to work my way through them. While I did that I had left my Sky+ to tape all my programmes. Emerging from my DVD cocoon I found I’d used up around 55% of the Sky+ box on taped programmes. As some programmes use up maybe 0.4% per hour that was maybe 100 hours and more of TV to follow up on.
The funny thing was I didn’t miss hardly any of these programmes.
Looking at it all I deleted 15% straight away. Over the last 2 months I watched maybe a handful of what was left, every so often deleting entire series because it just seemed like too much hard work. What I found was that I didn’t want to watch anything, I had no more binge watching of DVDs to occupy that time instead. I wanted to DO things – read, write, study (and I rarely say that), go outside and get some fresh air. I don’t even think I was a TV addict in the first place – but I do think I and many others watch it because it’s there. Because we are spending £30-50 and more each month so we need to get our monies worth.
I’ve realised this year that I don’t need to have it. I don’t need or want to have it. I can’t justify the cost. And I don’t feel like I’m missing out if I can’t join in the water cooler conversation of what was on last night. So this week the contract is going. I’m not totally giving up TV – I have one or two must see programmes that I  can’t bare to live without. But I can get these online through Netflix, Now TV, some other alternatives at a mere fraction of the cost. I can get double what I have now for £6 a month. And right now I’m paying £33. That £324 per year saving is a weeks holiday (for me anyway)
It’s amazing what we think we can’t live without but when we stop and think about it we probably can