prepping for NaNoWriMo

2021, writing

Hello!

As, somehow, October slips further and further away from us, the creative writing community becomes acutely more aware that NaNoWriMo is creeping closer.

NaNoWriMo is the thirty day writing challenge where the only goal is to write 50,000 words – 1,667 words a day. It’s the reason I do my ‘training’ writing challenges throughout the year – to keep myself writing so I have ever so slightly better chance of actually making it to 50k!

So far, I’ve only done it once but I’ve tried several times and I still adore creative writing and maybe this year will be different? But even if I don’t get to 50k, whatever I do achieve is more writing than I would have done otherwise so I’ve never thought of it as ‘losing’ NaNoWriMo – if a runner doesn’t finish a marathon, they’ve still run at least some of the way and it’s an achievement none the less!

Here’s my top 3 tips to prepare for NaNoWriMo:

One – have at least a vague plan:

I know, it sounds really obvious, but I’ve tried a couple of times to go in blind and figure it out as I go along and no matter how excited I am about an idea, I always lose momentum because I don’t have time to do the slow logistic bit when I’m trying to write 1,667 words a day.

The whole point of NaNo (at least from my point of view) is putting together a word-vomit-esque first draft – it’s not for polished words, it’s not for a perfect story, it’s to get words on paper and what you do with them afterwards is of your own choosing. Anyone who’s writing a perfect first draft by writing 1,667 words a day is a genius (or a full time writer, who knows).

Two – time management is key:

Fitting in writing 50,000 words around daily life – full time job, keeping the house clean and tidy, having a social life etc – is a mission. I usually fall into the trap of doing all my writing between 10pm and midnight in bed and it ruins my sleep schedule.

I find calendar blocking the most effective way to organise my time – I use Google calendar to plan when I’m going to do my tasks at work then I generally just use a piece of paper to roughly plan how I’m going to spend my evenings and weekends.

Another thing I’m going to try for the first time this year, is using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word (is that controversial?). We used Google for everything in my last job and being able to log in to any device and pick up where I left off could be really helpful this year where I’m working full time and commuting for nearly 2 hours a day.

Even just having somewhere to jot down any notes or ideas when I’m on the go (obvs not when I’m driving) and not having to make sure I have the most up to date version of the doc on whatever device I’m using will be really convenient.

It’s super nerdy to be excited about trying a new software for NaNoWriMo, isn’t it?

Three – take the pressure off:

Like I said – the goal is 50k but anything written is more words than you would have written if you hadn’t tried, so not meeting the goal of this challenge (i.e. it’s difficult!) isn’t the be all and end all.

In one of my previous challenges this year, I managed to write at least something every day and that’s the mentality I’m going into WriMo this year with. Even if I only manage 100 words on my lunch break, if I can write consistently for 30 days that means more to me than the word count.

The other thing is to not put any pressure on what you’re writing – sometimes when I sit down to write, I’m ready to craft a new story, come up with new characters and get to know them, but sometimes all I want to do is write fanfiction of whatever show or movie I’ve watched recently and that’s fine! Writing is writing.


I feel a little more mentally prepared for November this year – I’ve been vaguely thinking about what I’m going to write for WriMo for a few months and I’m actually excited about what I’m going to work on. Will I fall back on writing superhero fanfiction within a week or two? Almost certainly, but writing a little every day is my focus and as long as I don’t resort to including my shopping list in my word count, it’s all good with me!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Red, White and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston | Book Review

2021, books

Hello!

Since I started my Audible subscription last month, I have used my monthly credits to listen to books I haven’t had the chance to buy yet (and it feels like I’m getting free books, which feels good!).

So when my credit came in at the end of September, I was browsing through my wish list on Storygraph to decide what I was going to use my credit on and as soon as I got to ‘Red, White and Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, I knew that was my pick for the month.

I don’t know I’ve seen a book as hyped as I have seen RW&RB – on tiktok, Instagram, booktube, I don’t think I’ve seen a review less than 5 stars. A royal LGBTQ+ love story is a recipe for the perfect book right?

Yes, yes it is. I finished listening to this book in just two weeks (considering it was nearly a 12 hour listen and I only listen to audiobooks when I’m driving) and I was obsessed from the off.

The voice actor for Alex’s character was perfect – the charming First Son of the United States was the perfect mix of hardworking, ambitious politician and 22 year old college student just trying to figure himself out while journalists writes articles speculating every aspect of his life.

Then there’s Henry. This precious, posh British Prince who’s grown up being told about his obligations and duty, knowing that a core part of who he is doesn’t fit the ‘duty’ he is meant to serve. Behind all the bravado of being the Prince of England, he’s a giant nerd who loves Star Wars, the gay history of the British Isles and his dog David.

Even the secondary characters – the White House Trio, the super six, Zara, Amy, Cash, Shan – they were all such realistic characters. They felt real – if I didn’t know the unfortunate truth of the 2016 US Election and the names of the British Royal family, they all felt so human from just a few words on a page (or words coming out of my car speakers) that they felt real. The language was so authentic and didn’t sound forced, particularly the dialogue. The multi-medium storytelling with pros, texts, emails was so immersive and I’ll never get over the narration repeating ‘HRH Prince Dickhead Poop Emoji’ over and over again during the text message scenes.

I can’t put into words how much I adored this story – I have not laughed, gasped and commented out loud on a story as much as I did with Red, White and Royal Blue in a very long time, if ever. The sarcastic dialogue between Alex and his sister June, the authenticity of the President’s staff every time they tell Alex how fucking difficult he makes things and the honest conversations about being a Mexican kid raised in America and elevated to being America’s Most Eligible Bachelor.

It was honest and heartwarming and made me squeal like a fangirl – I’ve not finished a book and immediately wanted to read it again before, but after finishing the audiobook I went a bought a paperback copy almost immediately (and Casey McQuiston’s next book ‘One Last Stop’) and there’s a very real chance that I will read Red, White and Royal Blue again before working through the other two hundred books on my ‘to be read’ shelf.

Red, White and Royal Blue has made it on to my list of all time favourite books and I need somebody to fangirl over it with me please.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

trying a rotational wardrobe | Project 333

2021, fashion

Hello!

I’ve never really been a fan of seasonal wardrobes – several YouTubers I follow have successful capsule wardrobes but I never thought it was for me. I felt like my wardrobe was more efficient when I could make it work in all seasons, but then I saw Hannah Witton try Project 333 and I like the sound of that challenge.

Project 333 is essentially a capsule wardrobe with rules and I like rules / structure / guidelines – the principle is 33 items of clothing to last over 3 months, so it’s a smaller wardrobe that you get more wear out of lasting three months, could be pretty well timed with the seasons if I use both of my brain cells.

The 33 items are meant to include jewellery and shoes, but not items like underwear, pyjamas, gym wear or sentimental jewellery like a wedding or engagement ring.

But I’ve bent the rules ever so slightly to work with my wardrobe and lifestyle (because I didn’t see the point in forcing myself to comply to rules that don’t work for me) – I don’t bother counting my shoes, because I don’t have loads of shoes but I make them work year round. I don’t count my ‘fancy’ clothes because I can’t judge them on how frequently I wear them because they’re situational (and pandemic…). I don’t really stick to 33 items either!

But sorting through my clothes at regular intervals makes me think about how much I wear them – I have so much more space in my drawers now that I have them separated out and it’s really satisfying.

The worst bit is the sorting itself – I put it off for all of September but when I did it, it felt so good to shuffle everything round and fold everything neatly into the boxes under my bed or in my drawers. Swapping everything around every three months makes everything feel fresh and new even though many of my clothes are years old. There’s nothing wrong with them though! They still fit, I’ve never been one for ‘fashionable’ or ‘trendy’ styles so I still wear them.

It makes me think so much more about the clothes I buy and what I actually wear – it’s helped me streamline my wardrobe and spend less on clothes; even though I think the t-shirts with the Disney slogans are really cute, I don’t get any wear out of them.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still impulse buy and it’s a bit hit and miss but I’m getting much better at keeping receipts and taking things back (and getting a refund always feels like an exciting bonus).

I’m currently in the market for more office-wear and trying to find the balance with not having loads of clothes, having clothes that are distinctly not for work but also buying clothes that fit both smart and casual. It’s a fun balance to strike, that’s for sure.

I love clothes and I love fashion, I’ve never considered myself fashionable because I don’t keep up with trends, I don’t follow what celebrities are wearing and anything I’ve ever seen from any location’s ‘Fashion Week’ always baffles me. But I really love clothes – I like finding clothes that make me feel comfy, I like finding clothes that make me feel cute, predominantly I like finding clothes that make me look edgier than I am (read: a leather jacket and my Dr Martens). I love dressing in a feminine style, I love dressing in an androgynous style and I love dressing in clothes that are four to six sizes too big for me and feeling like a toddler wearing my parent’s clothes.

Clothes are cool, fashion is cool, I like figuring out new ways to make my wardrobe feel more exciting while saving money and being more environmentally conscious.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

what is self care?

2021, mental health

Hello!

I feel like I know what self care is, right? It’s women on Instagram having a pamper night with a sheet mask, a bath bomb and a partner who’s prepared to take arty photos in the candle light. It’s taking time away from social media and listening to what your body wants, whether it’s a Netflix binge, a long walk or a cupcake.

Maybe it’s taking some time for yourself, maybe it’s having a shopping spree and buying something new, maybe it’s having a healthy routine and meditating and getting enough sleep at night.

This week has been stressful – I finished my contract in my previous job and didn’t know what was coming next. I’m not good at handling change and I’m really not good at knowing what to do with myself when there is an expanse of nothing with no end date – I was excited about having some time off, but my mental health dive bombed and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’ve been applying for jobs all week in between not being able to get off the sofa, really having to convince myself to eat proper meals, not making it through the day without a nap and then not sleeping until the clock reads ‘am’, which I haven’t done for a long time.

(I did get a job on Friday though, so the ‘never ending expanse of unemployment’ was only a week, which is nice)

But that’s not what I want to write about – I’m trying to listen to my body, I’m trying to figure out how to help myself. I’m going to bed early, I’m making an effort to eat vegetables and not eat all the chocolate and drink all the coca cola I’m craving. I’ve spent time doing my cross stitch project while watching a lot of House MD on Amazon Prime. I’m making to do lists and trying to do something ‘productive’ each day because I know it helps me feel like I’m doing something more meaningful. But I feel more dissociated and distant than I’ve ever felt before.

Self care can’t just be face masks and bubble baths and meditation? Surely there’s got to be something I can do to make myself feel better, right?

I mean, reading a book about a teenager being stalked by a serial killer and demonstrating her somewhat terrifying knowledge about crime scenes whilst suffering from severe PTSD about one of the previous cases she solved in the other books in the series probably isn’t helping, but I also just want to finish it so it’s done and I can read something a bit cheerier.

I’ve seen lots of tiktoks recently about the chronic failings of the British government in the middle of a mental health crisis – a crisis line that suggests baths and meditation and doesn’t help even when people ask to be sectioned and admitted for mental instability. It feels patronising.

So, what’s the point? What is self care? Does it even matter when the medical professionals we’re meant to be able to confide in and trust are prescribing having a wash and lighting a candle to do some breathing exercises?

I think self care is an overrated term – I know that making an effort with my sleep, not engaging with media and entertainment (and books) that mess with my brain and giving myself some structure will help me feel more control. Baths make me feel vulnerable, I find walks boring and meditating makes me think too much. A sheet mask isn’t going to help my physical anxiety symptoms, painting my nails won’t help me cope with change and writing in a journal about my feelings isn’t helpful right now.

Sometimes you’ve just got to ride the wave and remember that you’ve made it through this before and you will do it again.

(but any and all suggestions of things you do to feel better than you need ‘self care’ are more than welcome please)

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

my book rating system

2021, books

Hello!

I’ve just finished my thirtieth book of the year (Good Girl, Bad Blood – Holly Jackson, fabulous read) and I feel like I’ve really figured out my own rating system so I thought I’d write it all down because my memory isn’t great and I like to have everything written down.

So let’s start at the top:

5 stars – the perfect book; one that is easy to read, characters I love and care about and a story that I want to reread over and over again. It’s a slim difference between 4 and 5 stars but a book that I know I could come back to and love it as much the second or third time as much as the first. The perfect ‘Sophie’ book – 5 stars.

4 stars – a fantastic book, wonderful narrative, interesting storyline, an enjoyable reading experience that I probably got through quite quickly. There’s probably nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t love it enough to find it re-readable. A 4 star book is still an entirely positive experience – there was no negatives to the reading experience; no annoying characters, no huge plot holes, just not one that I’m rushing to read again.

3 stars – not a badly written book, not a brilliantly written book. Maybe it took a lot of concentration to get through it, maybe there were characters that really needed to learn how to communicate better (one of my biggest bug bears). I kind of feel connected to the character but I’m not entirely sure why and I probably resent it, especially if there’s one character I like or care about and the others are annoying.

2 stars – there’s nothing wrong with the quality of writing, it just wasn’t for me. I probably didn’t enjoy the reading experience but I’m too optimistic to ever not finish a book. Sometimes it’s the characters, sometimes it’s a boring plot, sometimes it’s whiny, melodramatic characters making their lives difficult for no necessary reason. Technically not a bad book, but absolutely not for me (this includes most classics).

1 star – badly written, plot holes, annoying characters, probably reads like bad fanfiction. I still won’t give up on the book because I can’t help but hope it’ll get better than a 1 star rating, but at best I can hope it’s short. I feel like one star is relatively self explanatory.

On StoryGraph, there’s .25, .5 and .75 ratings, I don’t have specific criteria for those, that one’s more of a gut instinct. Not that there’s a huge impact of rating a book, it’s not like it ‘matters’ in the scheme of things but it’s a good way of giving the extra points before a whole extra star, y’know?

Having some sort of system makes me feel like the ratings make me sense, rather than randomly assigning numbers and then accidentally rating a book I kind of enjoyed and a book I really didn’t both at 3 stars because I was only comparing it to the book I just finished.

Is it a Virgo thing or is it a neurodivergent thing? Who knows, but I like it. And I’m obsessed with reading and stories right now, so I like having a system to rate them all by.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

October Goals 2021

2021, goals

Hello!

Another month has flown and even though I was baffled by how quickly September went by, I’m glad for October. I’ve now finished my contract at work and I’m officially unemployed and a little bit excited about it. I’m looking forward to slowing things down a little bit, focusing on what I really want next and taking the time to rest and recover.

But as ever, I’ve got five monthly goals that I want to work on whether I start a new job or not, so these will be my focus!

Portfolio work – I’ve been developing a portfolio website on and off for the last year or so and I want to finalise it this month. As I’m job hunting it makes perfect sense to have this ready to go, but I’m not a website designer and I never claim to be so I’m a little nervous about it!

Cosplay work – as ever, I’m trying to work on this cosplay costume. I didn’t get time to complete my September tasks but now that I have a little more time on my hands I’m hoping to complete the four tasks I have outstanding in a more casual manor and actually use my sewing machine for the first time since we moved!

Wedding planning – I feel a little lost with the wedding stuff at the moment, but I think I want to focus more on any specific decor bits that I’d like to DIY and decide on the wedding favours. I might even brush off my Photoshop skills and start designing our invites too…

Get a tattoo – it’s been too long since I got my last tattoo. I know exactly what I want – something small to get to know the artists in the new area I live in and something bigger that I want design help on can be something for next year perhaps. But it’s been too long and I really want a new one!

Plan Christmas presents – October is probably too early for the ‘C’ word (my sibling would tell me it’s spooky season first!) but budgets are super tight and I want to look at crafting lots of presents this year so that takes a bit of planning and organising so I want to try and get on top of it as soon as possible.

My ongoing monthly goals are to read 2 books (with my new-found love for audio books, I finished 5 in September!), put money in savings and have a date night with my fiancé.

Alongside all this, I need to work on getting a job, I want to start doing some career relevant courses and really make time to properly relax. With the way my last contract worked, I didn’t get any holiday entitlement so I’ve been going solidly for nine months and I’m feeling it! So I’m going to take some time for myself, spend time doing things I enjoy – cooking the new HelloFresh recipes I’ve ordered, play Animal Crossing on my Switch, have baths with my lush bath bombs and read a book.

I’m really excited to have some time for me.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Treasured in… September 2021

2021, books, Favourites

Hello!

Another month, another list of things that brought me joy. This month has flown by and I’m hoping October will feel like it lasts a little bit longer, but for now we’re in the last few days of a month that was full of birthdays, adventures and a lot of stress.

It’s been busy with trips, lots of driving and lots of good food but I can’t wait for it to get colder, to get all my jumpers out and sit with blankets and candles in the evening. Bring on the cold!

But first, here’s the things I loved in September.

What I bought

I’ve definitely been a bit contactless-happy this month, but my favourite purchase has been this NaNoWriMo shirt in a size that’s almost certainly too big but has brought me immense joy. It took three weeks to arrive and I spent far too much on import charges to get it sent over from America but it brought me joy and that’s the most important thing right? Right?

I also bought many accessories and materials for my new Cricut which my wonderful fiancé got for my birthday, lots of Hobbycraft supplies and probably too many books but is there really such a thing as ‘too many books’? (the answer is no)

What I cooked

We had many good HelloFresh meals this month, but I actually want to talk about a restaurant my fiancé took me too – it’s somewhere we hadn’t been before, but apparently it’s the highest rated restaurant in our down! It was a lovely Italian restaurant that apparently was very authentically Italian (the boy who spent 5 weeks in Rome reassured me of that whilst pronouncing everything with a questionable Italian accent). It was wonderful, not only the food but the effort he went to in finding somewhere new for us to go.

Then, when I was visiting my parents at the weekend to celebrate my mum’s birthday, we went to a lovely pub in a tiny village near my home town and had the most incredible roast dinner. I barely thought about eating until the next day I was so full, but it was the most wonderful meal.

I’ve been very lucky to be treated to many meals this month, I feel like my birthday has lasted all month long and I’ve been very spoilt.

What I snacked on

A family friend sent me these cakes in the post from Simply Cake Co and I made 12 slices of cake last much longer than I anticipated. Especially, considering I could have eaten all of the salted caramel brownie in one sitting it was delicious. I’ve always been a bit dubious of cake delivery services but they were fresh, lasted really well and were incredibly delicious.

What I sang along to

I’ve listened to Audiobooks more than I have music, but this song is a bop.

(the video is weird and I don’t get it though)

What I watched

I’m still on the medical show hype, so when my fiancé is home we watch Grey’s Anatomy (or Battle Bots), when I’m home alone I watch The Resident on Disney+ but the biggest hype of this month without a shadow of a doubt was Sex Education series 3.

The characters are perfect in every way – they’re flawed, they’re trying, they’re so gosh darn realistic but also so sweet, the storyline was hilarious, the cinematography was beautiful and I’m so intrigued as to what series 4 will look like.

All I can say is, the scene with the cat was scarring. If you know, you know.

What I read

This is the bit I’ve been looking forward to.

When I first got Audible, I wanted to rant and rave about it straight away but I made myself wait till I was more familiar with the app and how much use I actually got out of it.

Three and a half books in a month later, I’m still very much on the Audible hype train – I love listening to books when I’m driving, I love having the extra capacity to engage with more stories and read in a brand new way and explore books I never would have read before with the plus catalogue.

So here’s what I listened to:

The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow – Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch – 2 stars
I was so intrigued about Zoe Sugg’s latest attempt at fiction and I was so disappointed. It read so childishly, but with a few swear words thrown in because it’s about teenagers, but the murder didn’t feel like it was really resolved and (my biggest issue) – there was no ending. There was nothing conclusive about the ending, it was just a big old pause to make the reader buy the sequel. I don’t mind a cliffhanger, but at least give the book some sort of conclusion, some sort of ending, not just drop it and pick it up in the next one.

And out of principal, I absolutely won’t be buying the next one.

Beach Read – Emily Henry – 5 stars
A book about writers living in their own romance story? Yes please. Beach Read is in line to be one of my favourite books of the year – January Andrews (despite having a really dumb name) is a wonderful narrator – she’s self aware, brilliantly sarcastic and witty, but human and flawed and sad and excited so realistic. I loved her, Augustus Everett was a total sweetheart and I loved getting to know him beyond the stereotype January thought he was in college.

Fantastically narrated, thoroughly recommend.

MumLife – Louise Pentland – 4 stars
My first (and probably last) non-fiction read of the year, this read like one long, monologue podcast from Louise and it was wonderful. Heart warming, heart breaking and hilarious in equal measure. I feel like I learnt so much about myself, even though I’m not a mother yet, I learnt so much that I’d like to carry forward if I’m ever lucky enough to have my own children.

The only paper book I managed to finish this month was Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs – 2 stars – it took me nearly a month to finish reading this one. I’m not a fan of classics or books written a long time ago, not my style, it made it harder to read because I had to concentrate more and after a one chapter (sometimes not even that) I’d be exhausted and fall asleep within minutes. But I finished it – it was nothing like the Disney movie and the ending literally finishing with an asterisk that said ‘read more about Tarzan in the next book’.

It wasn’t written badly, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it and will be donating my copy to the charity shop.

And I’m currently reading Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson and listening to The Cove by LJ Ross and thoroughly enjoying both.

It’s been a long month, but I’m ready for another one for sure!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

life is a rollercoaster, and I want to get off

2021, mental health

Hello,

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like time is moving far too fast at the moment – a lot of us are still stuck in March 2020 when the most unusual event of (probably) our whole lives kicked off, but I swear it was June yesterday and now it’s nearly October?

I like being in control (read: control freak) and to feel like I’m losing time doing who knows what makes me feel quite on edge – I keep trying to think of ways to feel more present, but I just can’t make time for journalling or meditating in my routine right now. I feel like I’m tripping through life and while I’m just settling into the fact it’s September, next week is October and I constantly feel like I’m playing catch up.

I started to type ‘there’s a lot going on in my life right now’, but before I’d finished typing it I realised it wasn’t true. I have one big thing going on, but it’s a significant change and I’m finding all aspects of it difficult. I received some good news yesterday, after a relatively rubbish week (including a very kindly delivered job rejection phone call and my HelloFresh box just not arriving), and my partner congratulated me and asked me why I looked like I was about to cry.

It was because it meant the change was real. And I have a big decision to make as to whether I want to accept it.

But I can’t even cry – I’ve been struggling for a few weeks now and I really feel like there’s a big emotion I need to get out, but for whatever reason (maybe my meds or some other mental block), I just can’t get it out.

The rollercoaster of my analogy is going way too fast – the wind is whipping through my hair and I’m desperately trying to process it all but I just can’t keep up.

By 25 I thought I’d be more settled than this. Three years out from finishing my first degree (which makes me sound way more intelligent than I am), I thought I’d be more comfortable in my job and my income, I thought everything would feel more stable but I feel like there’s lots of spinning plates and I’ve already got shards of broken crockery at my feet. Everything feels broken, but even I can see objectively enough to know that it’s not.

I’m tired. I feel like I’m fighting to get through each day and then when I get to bed I can’t even get to sleep despite being exhausted all the time.

The one positive I can find, is that although I know I’m in a subconscious depressive low right now, I know it won’t last forever. I can’t force it – I can’t pretend a bath and a face mask is the ‘self care’ I need, because I don’t even know what I need right now, but I know that it will end – my sleep will get better, getting out of bed won’t feel so tough and good news won’t make me nearly-cry (at least, not in a bad way).

I keep trying to figure out what my blog is right now – I think it’s just me in each moment. It’s the happy lists, it’s the emotional rambles, it’s the favourites posts and the goals. I’ve been writing this blog since I turned 18 in 2014 – I just turned 25. Although at my core I like to think I’m much of the same socially inept, closet nerds with ginormous dreams, so much has changed and I’ve grown in the best way. I don’t think I’m someone my 18 year old self would be proud of yet, but one day.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

my favourite parts of Autumn

2021

Hello!

Autumn is my favourite time of year, second only to Christmas – there’s lots of lovely things about summer; the warmth on my skin, the light evenings, barbecues with friends! But then the burning heat, being sweaty all the time and working inside while I can hear kids screaming in paddling pools in the garden down the road. Pros and cons!

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, but I’ve been enjoying writing little positivity lists so I thought I’d pick the 10 things I’m most excited about for the change in season!

  1. Sweaters. Long sleeves, knitwear, feeling cosy and warm. It’s my true form.
  2. Blankets! I have one in basically every room but my favourite one is the one with sleeves that I sometimes wear as a cape because I can.
  3. Dark evenings with the fairy lights on. They always make me feel magical ✨
  4. Rewatching Harry Potter. It just comes with the time of year.
  5. Warm winter foods – is there anything better than getting the slow cooker out and making something hearty and filling the whole house with the smell?
  6. The leaves changing colour – we don’t always get those beautiful orange shots you see in American hallmark movies, but when the does come out and the leaves crunch beneath my feet on the ground, that never gets less exciting.
  7. Wearing my Dr Martens – I’m not very good at sticking to one ‘look’ or style but putting my Docs on with anything makes me feel a bit more badass than I really am.
  8. Cadbury Snow Bites – I’m not one for celebrating Christmas too early (because otherwise I’ll run out of momentum) but I won’t complain about the Christmas chocolates. Snow Bites are my favourite and they are my weakness.
  9. Hot chocolate – Costa hot chocolate is my favourite but I got pretty good at making my own at home last winter (though I’ve deliberately never calorie counted them).
  10. Snuggles with my boy – yes, I had to get soppy at some point. Whether it’s on the sofa watching TV, under the blanket as we fall asleep watching George Clark’s Amazing Spaces or standing in the kitchen making dinner, the worst bit about summer is feeling too warm for hugs and cuddles.

There are good and bad parts to every season and after such an unconventional winter last year, I know many people are concerned about seasonal affective disorder and I don’t to belittle that by pretending everything is pretty leaves and cosy drinks. Some fairy lights aren’t going to make up for how much darker it is, however magical they feel.

However cheesy it sounds, it’s remembering that the sun will always rise again – there’s always another tomorrow, summer will always come back, take Vitamin D supplements if you need them and see your doctor if things feel too hard.

Change is hard and weird, but although the seasons change and the weather’s unpredictable, like most thing’s in life – they won’t stay the same forever.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

Stretch Goals for 2021

2021, goals

Hello!

I love goal setting, but it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve given myself the flexibility to adapt my goals when my interests or perspective change.

I’ve watched Hannah Witton make videos about ‘Stretch Goals’ for the last few months of the year and I thought I’d give it a go – a few of my goals are no longer relevant to me (and/or I was too optimistic about how long lockdown would go on for and how confident I’d feel in a post-covid world). So I’ve written a few adaptations to my original 2021 Goals and I’m going to see how far I can get by the end of the year!

Professional Goals:

The one I’ve still got left to do: Finish my portfolio website and Instagram

My New Stretch Goal: Start New Job Part 2! – my nine-month contract in my current job finishes at the end of the month and it’s time for something new. Not so much of a goal as a necessity but it takes me a little while to process big changes like a new job and this helps. And it’s exciting too!

Personal Goals:

The one I’ve still got left to do: Finish my first cosplay costume

My New Stretch Goal: Give handmade Christmas gifts – a nice combination of saving money and using all the craft supplies I’ve been collecting for 18 months. And it’s an excuse to work on lots of craft projects!

Home Goals:

The one I’ve still got left to do: wedding planning and saving!

My New Stretch Goal: Have a trip to Southampton with my fiancé – it’s where we met and we haven’t been back in ages – this year is our last anniversary before our wedding day and I think it’s the year to do something special.

‘Bucket List’ Goals: (I need to find a new name for this)

  1. Read 30 books (upped from my current goal of 25)
  2. Writing challenges – 45,000 words in September / 50,000 words in November
  3. Monthly date nights with my fiancé
  4. Get a tattoo
  5. Finish 1SE video

Even just writing these out, thinking about and evaluating my focus on these goals has been really refreshing and helped me feel more focused. Every time I look over my goals I feel like I’m learning on how to make smarter goals that are more beneficial to me in the long run.

I’m aware of how ‘hustle culture’ this makes me sound – working on goals in my own time outside of work, using words like ‘evaluating’ and always aiming for productivity, but actually my intention is the opposite. I want to be more mindful of how I spend my time – I’ve come to terms with expecting myself to be ‘productive’ for 16 hours a day isn’t healthy or beneficial for me or anyone around me, some I’m trying to maximise my efficiency so I make time to chill out, get enough sleep and do things I want to do as well! I’ve just started dance classes again and it’s an hour round trip to get there and back so I have to be more mindful with my time.

Having these stretch goals is a great way for me to figure out my priorities and plan out my time in the wisest way for me.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx