Good evening folks!
Well the weekend is drawing to a close, and a new week will soon be upon us. I admit, I found the last one quite tedious - the 9-5 grind was getting to me and, coupled with a lull in the old social life, I was more than a little bit grumpy. Alas, I managed to pull myself out of my gloom. How? Well I decided to book a little holiday...
Yep, that's right - in September I will be spending 10 days in San Francisco - and I can't wait! Sad as it is, knowing I have this to look forwards to seems too have perked me up no end. Coupled with the good weather, this weekend I've been pretty chirpy, getting up early and getting on with a new writing project and a bit of spring cleaning. Today I bagged a bargainous four dining room chairs and a coffee table for 40 quid, which I can't wait to paint up along with my ten pound TV stand. In fact, by the time I have my official housewarming in May, I reckon I'll be pretty close to having my flat as I want it - with perhaps the exception of a posh new three-seater sofa bed..
My point? Well, I know I'm lucky to have the means to travel to the West Coast of the US and to play at being Kirsty Allsop, but I also know that I function a lot better when I know I have something to aim for; a reward to all my hard work. At the end of the day, it is that often-tedious job that has enabled me to book that flight and pay the mortgage on the flat that I am so faithfully - and frugally - doing up.
So, as I traipse into work tomorrow, I will do my best to the thankful for all the opportunities it gives me - from stability to adventure, with the odd bit of inspiration thrown in for good measure. And, whatever you do and however challenging it can be, I hope that you feel able to do the same. And, if you can't, book yourself in for a little reward sooner rather than later, whether it be the trip of a lifetime, a jolly to the seaside or an afternoon mooching around your favourite local haunt. I doesn't have to cost a lot, or be particularly flashy. But it does need to happen.
Because Shelly said so :-)
I trust everyone is spiffing? I admit I'm not faring too bad. This weekend I've been indulging in a bit of me time, mooching in Islington where I enjoyed some live music, chips and a bit of shopping, followed by a day of pottering about in my flat today. I finally got some of my pictures up in the hall and am really pleased with how they look. Now I just need to finish off that darn painting still sat in the corner of my lounge...
I admit, however, that the last week hasn't been without its challenges. I've found myself faced with some very difficult situations and having to make difficult decisions, in my personal life as well as at work. In both situations I've been challenged, and my actions questioned. It has been tricky, and I've had to really draw on my self belief to get through it. But get through it I did, and I'm feeling better - and stronger - for it. Because, at the end of the day, we all need to tune into our gut instinct once in a while and go with it, no matter how hard it can be.
So I leave you now with a simple meditation my good friend Vicky shared with me. Even if that kind of thing doesn't float your boat, I think that we can all benefit from reminding ourselves of it's message.
I am what I am.
I believe in myself.
I trust myself.
I accept myself.
I respect myself.
I love myself.
Have a good week everyone :)
So, anyone else enjoying an early evening glass of wine? I am... because Dry January is officially OVER! Woo hoo! So far I've raised £145 of my £200 target, and hope that a few last minute sponsors will get me there... if so inclined you can do so here - thank you!
I have to admit, today I am in my happy place - and not just because I'm allowed wine again (although it helps...) No, it's because I've spent the weekend up in York with some of my favourite people. Hanging out with my besties always does me good, and talking to them about our lives really helps me put things into perspective. It reminds me that, even though other people's lives often seem so much better than my own, they come with their own problems. Of course, me being me, when my friends share with me their woes, I try to give them reassurance and advice on how they can overcome the obstacles they face - or, more simply, come to accept them.
I'm happy to admit that, whilst advising my lovvies about how to deal with their daily niggles, I did reflect on my own - and considered if I listen to my own advice. I was pleased to see that, generally, I do. Whilst my job can frustrate the heck out of me, I think I've reached a level of acceptance, helped by the knowledge that, whilst I know I make a difference, I am taking action to move into a line of work that I enjoy more. And that when other elements of my existence upset my equilibrium, I confront the cause, weigh up my options - and take action to reset the balance. Okay, so I don't always get it right, but I feel like I'm headed in the right direction, and, without sounding too corny, I believe that you can find your happy place too.
And you don't need wine to get there...
Yep, I'm watching the American Football live from our very own Wembley. It's been a busy weekend, what with another installment for Operation:Pizza, upcycling (I WILL finish that bookcase, I WILL,) editing, and booking a foray to Berlin for my Birthday, so I'm enjoying watching someone else run around for a change...
I've also been doing my bit for the planet. Earlier this year I came to the conclusion that, rather than solely supporting charities that help people, it was time to help the physical world that we rely on to exist. So, on Friday, I joined the Conservation Volunteers at Lloyd Park for a few hours before heading out to a fundraiser for Greenpeace. Okay, so I know some of you might find their methods extreme, but until our Government starts putting sanctions on those corporations that seem hell-bent on putting profit before the environment, someone needs to take action - and action Greenpeace take.
Anyway, mini rant over, it was a great night, and I fully recommend their dos to anyone who wants to support their work whilst enjoying live music, comedy and cake. Besides, who says giving to charity has to be completely selfless? Weeding around sapling trees and clearing rosebeds of litter on Friday was a very calming experience and one I probably wouldn't have signed up to if I hadn't expected some personal benefit. Even after giving blood on Tuesday I got a packet of ginger nuts and several glasses of squash. It almost made the dizzy spell worth it!
So, so forth people - do something for charidee. Just make sure you enjoy it too...
Well - you don't have to but I seem to be doing rather well at getting out of the big smoke these days. In fact, if I count next weeks Bank Holiday (house party in Stafford coming up!) I will have been away four out of five weekends! No wonder I'm struggling to get anywhere fast with the decorating...
Although I love the hustle and bustle of my life in London, it is nice to get away from it all. Three weekends ago I came up north for a friend's hen do - and saw her get married this Saturday. What made it all the more special was the rural setting of the reception - said friend lives in the middle of the Nottinghamshire countryside where you can see nothing more than fields as far as the eye can see, and the nearest convenience store is a good 15 minute drive away - and even that closes at 10.
As a city girl of thirteen years, I forget what it's like to live out in the sticks. When I was camping near Stratford Upon Avon recently I was delighted to learn that there was a bus service into town so the dedicated driver in our party could enjoy a drink. Needless to say my plan was foiled by the last bus, running at a mere 6.10pm. Oh well...
I guess both ways of life have their pros and cons. Whilst London offers me everything I could possibly want when I want it, getting away from the 24 hour society helps me to slow down and recuperate - something that I really have to work at back in the city. So, whilst I will be relieved to see my local Co-Op open when I get back to Walthamstow tonight, I know that I will have to make myself breathe more deeply and let the chaos wash over me once in a while.
And on that note, I shall say adieu - I have some serious chilling to do...
I hope you are all feeling nicely refreshed after the weekend? I have to admit that, after three nights of camping, I'm quite tired - but then there's nothing quite like sitting around a smoldering BBQ at 11 o'clock at night, playing cards and supping Jameson's whiskey (a new and rather dangerous discovery for old Shell) to re-charge the batteries. Okay, so as camping goes we were pretty well looked after (electricity supply, showers AND clean toilets? Wow!) but cooking outdoors, sleeping with nothing more than a sheet of waterproof fabric between you and the elements and being without all those creature comforts we don't need but depend on is certainly good for the soul. Even if not the back...
It isn't just going camping that has helped me detox my mind - if not my body (one thing at a time people!). I've been reading a book by Gabbi Bernstein, Yoga and Meditation buff whose 108 Miracles Now breaks down developing your spiritual side - and maintaining your well-being - into easy to follow steps. Whilst some of it isn't for me, it is full of handy hints to improve your relationship with the world and look at life with a more positive slant, something I admit I sometimes find tricky.
On Thursday, I found myself seeing positives in what could have been a rather crushing situation. After several rejection letters confused by some very positive feedback from publishers and competition judges, I decided to ask a professional to look at my first novel, Faith, Hope and Chocolate. Deep down I knew it wasn't my best writing by any means but had grown attached to my characters - and still loved the concept. Claire's feedback confirmed this - and her comments helped me see where it wasn't working and think about how I could develop the story line. We concluded that the best course of action would be to start again - and, this time, write with a bit more of a purpose and a plan, something I admit not really doing the first time round. So, watch this space people - just don't hold your breath, as I have novel number two to edit first, plus a couple of other ideas floating about...
Now, with all that in mind, I'm going to run myself a nice bath, read some more "Miracles" and write in my journal - the detox isn't complete yet!
Good evening... or should I say good night? It's coming up to 11 pm on Sunday and I guess we should really be heading off to bed in preparation for another week at work. But, after an extended siesta this afternoon (oops!) I'm not feeling that sleepy. Ah well...
I don't often sleep in the day, but after a rather hectic week topped off with a Hen Do yesterday, today it was more than needed. Besides, I've just started to read a book on mindfulness and positivity which encourages sleeping well to keep the mind clear. I admit I am on a bit of a mission to "develop" my spiritual side and I see these factors as key to a happy existence. I agree, it isn't always easy, but I'm working on it...
Take this week for example. On Wednesday I went to a talk at London Zoo, "The Jungles of the Mind," after learning that feminist, psychotherapist and mild obsession of mine Susie Orbach was the guest speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk - and getting up close and personal to some amazing animals - but admit leaving feeling a bit flat. You see, at the end of the talk, I approached Susie and asked her to sign her my copy of "Fat Is a Feminist Issue". As she did so I told her how much I admired her work and how it inspired me. She nodded politely and asked me about myself. But, as I spoke, I couldn't help but notice her eyes glaze over as I described my day job. Walking home, I felt disappointed in myself for failing to leave nothing more that a lackluster impression on someone I so admire. When I told my good friend Laura about the encounter, she pointed out that Susie probably met a million people like me every year, but, in my mind, it was just confirmation of what I most fear - that my existence on this planet means nothing.
Since then, however, I have talked to, met and thought of friends who have inspired me to look at the bigger picture. Two of these women, one of whom a have worked closely with for over two years and another who I have just met, told me that they had grown up with a parent who was addicted to alcohol. I was gobsmacked - both these beautiful, savvy women have amazing careers that I am somewhat enviable of, one of whom has developed hers as a single mum. As they spoke they reminded me of other friends who, despite family illness, bereavement and the day to day knocks of work and relationships, never fail to amaze me, raising money for the charity that supports their sick father rather than wallowing in the pain of his disease, heading home to support their dad when their mum is in hospital and going the extra mile to ensure their sister is getting the spiritual support they need when they lose their mother.
Not only do these people inspire me, but they remind me that, even though my one bed flat is not quite as impressive as the converted barn of the aforementioned hen, and that I have yet to make an impression on the literary or art world, I am pretty darn blessed. Something I need to remember next time I get my knickers in a twist over my fluctuating weight and unpublished novel.
So, if our paths cross in the near future and I begin to bemoan my fate, please do us both a favour and remind me of this blog. My positivity is a work in progress, and I might need a bit of help to get there. Bear with me...
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...