Practicing the Work/Life Balance Thing | May Goals ’22

2022, goals, mental health

Hi there!

Another month means another set of goals to work towards.

April was a very mixed bag with my mini goals – I think I’m finding work very overwhelming at the moment and between that, bank holidays coming out my ears (I find not knowing which day of the week it is very confusing) and trying to main some semblance of a social life (badly) is burning me out and I’m only just managing to keep up with everything I have to do day to day, let alone something I want to achieve over the course of a month.

But I’ve reevaluated how I make my to do lists and I’m trying to reframe my mental attitude to not fill every moment with doing something – being ‘productive’ or pushing myself too far. It’s clearly a work in progress because I went to a drive through car wash and whilst my car was being cleaned, I did my daily Duolingo lessons so I could tick that off my list, but I am working on it!

So I took this approach when setting my monthly goals – I took the time to figure out what was actually achievable and what would help to benefit me in the long run. This is what I came up with:

Pick a new Professional Goal – one of my professional goals for the year was to learn a software called AfterEffects so I could include more animations and graphics in the videos I produce at work. But since then my role has adapted and now that we have more editors on the team, I don’t actually edit videos anymore (which absolutely suits me and my strengths, I want to clarify I am not complaining about this ūüėā). But as my role has adapted and this goal isn’t relevant, I want to decide on something else to aim towards by the end of the year that is relevant, beneficial to my career and achievable. Rather than just picking a new goal out of thin air, I set this goal so I can dedicate the time to research the skillset around the career path my job is now taking and figuring out what can help me learn and be better at it!

Wow, that was a bit long winded.

Make one piece of content a week for a new project – I’ve been meaning to try something new for a really long time and I know now that if I don’t set myself actual deadlines than I will not do the thing, so I’m aiming to make one piece of content for a new project I’m working on a week and I’m hoping it’ll inspire me to make more content more regularly going forward.

Wedding – rings and invites – My wedding is now less than six months away and I still can’t say the word ‘husband’ without feeling like I’m playing pretend. This month’s goals are to buy our wedding bands and send our invites – the invites have been ordered we just need to finalise the guest list and write them all. There’s also a couple of extra bits like getting in touch with a make-up artist, getting in contact with my florist and planning anything that I’m going to make for the day but those are just chugging along in the background.

Plan museum/concert/new place trips – Another instance of planning to plan a goal – on my ‘bucket list’ goals for this year is to go to a museum, go to a concert and go to a new place but it’s easy to say those things, but actually doing them is another thing entirely! At the end of last month we booked our mini-moon for after the wedding (we’re going to go on a proper honeymoon when it’s not November and the weather will be nicer) and it’s a place neither of us have been before, so that’s the planning for that one ticked off! The concert, I’ve not seen that any artists I’m particularly interested in are touring, but there’s still time! And I really want to go to the Victoria and Albert museum, so just need to plan a day that my partner and I are both free to take off and go to London for the day!

And my monthly goals are: read three books, save money (done), date night and do a craft project. I’ve nearly finished my first audiobook of the month so I do feel like I’m slowly creeping out of my reading slump!

I can’t believe we’re five months into the year and I absolutely can’t believe that I’m getting married in six months – how mad is that? Time is absolutely flying at the moment!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang | Book Review

2022, books, review

Hello!

Today I’d planned to do my April Reading Wrap Up post, but I’ve really struggled with this reading slump and I’ve only just finished my only audiobook listen of the month (my paperback has been a real slow read before bed!) so I thought I’d turn this months post into a book review because I have a lot of thoughts.

I’d seen people talking about ‘The Kiss Quotient’ by Helen Hoang all over TikTok – I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact I think my favourite genre is contemporary romance and my TikTok algorithm absolutely reflects that. But it wasn’t till a browse round Waterstones last weekend where I actually read the description of ‘The Kiss Quotient’ that it jumped right to the top of my tbr and my waiting Audible credit was used immediately.

A contemporary romance about an autistic girl who hires an escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Since being put on a waiting list for an autism assessment 18 months ago, I’ve learnt so much about it from #actuallyautistic content creators (shoutout @PaigeLayle and @rubyofmyeye) and I was so intrigued as to how to this autistic character was written, especially as the description used the term ‘Aspergers’ which has been somewhat shunned by the autistic community as a diagnosis that categorises autistic people into those that are ‘economically useful’ and those that aren’t.

Reassuringly, the term Aspergers is only used once by the protagonist’s parents, which kind of fits the narrative that she knows it’s an outdated term but they still see it as the ‘better’ form of autism, though it’s never addressed.

From the very beginning, I found main character Stella to be an accurate representation of someone who is aware of her autism but desperately wants to make sure no one else is aware of her autism. She keeps her head down, focuses on her primary special interest which is her work as an econometrician and does what she can to keep her parents and her colleagues happy. But after a comment from her mother about ‘being ready for grandchildren’ and another from her colleague about ‘needing to practice sex’, she spirals a little and ends up booking a night with a meticulously researched escort named Michael.

After proposing that he become her sex teacher, Michael has to seriously reconsider his ‘no repeat client’ rules, because he is taken by Stella in a way he absolutely can’t comprehend.

The first half, maybe two thirds of the book are some of the spiciest I’ve ever read – if you like your romance with *spice* then look no further because this book is steamy and seductive as much as it is sweet and poignant. Ever other chapter is incredibly detailed bedroom scenes which make listening to it on my way to and from work a tiny bit awkward.

But in between the detailed sex lessons, Stella and Michael are falling for each other hard and fast, whilst assuming that their ‘major character flaws’ mean the other could never be feeling the same way. Stella knows she is paying Michael for his service – he’s slept with hundreds of other women so she must just be another client to him. And to Michael, he knows that Stella is paying him so she can learn to be ‘better’ for someone else, so he assumes that their financial, educational and situational difference mean she could never see him as he see’s her.

Basically, both are incredibly insecure and are defining the phrase ‘to assume makes an ass of you and me’ because by god they cannot stop assuming they’re not good enough for each other.

But it’s written in the sweetest and most romantic way – each of them making the most of the moments, immersing themselves in the practice relationship while they have each other.

The last part of the book, where there is markably less sex but the character arcs tumble at great speed towards their conclusion, everything we love about Stella and Michael comes to light – it’s incredibly sweet, the narrative effortlessly switches between each character’s perspective and as I entered the last 45 minutes of the audiobook with so much left to happen, it was one of the most fantastically paced books I’ve read in a while.

I adored The Kiss Quotient – Stella’s representation of autism was spot on and I loved her full circle journey from ‘I am more than my autism’ to ‘My autism is a part of me and that’s not a fault’, her social encounters with Michael’s family, the scene in the nightclub and with her work colleagues were so wonderfully written between the spoken dialogue and the internal monologue. Michael’s story was so sweet and I loved that he was a little bit in love with Stella from the very beginning, rather than the enemies-to-lovers I was anticipating.

Fast paced and slow burn simultaneously, a fantastic representation of autism without leaning on societal expectations of stereotypes and incredibly written from the sexiest to the sweetest moments.

The Kiss Quotient gets a full 5/5 from me! And in writing this blog post, I found that there are two more books in the series focusing on other characters which I will absolutely be using my next Audible credits for!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

A Day Out In Oxford

2022, lifestyle, review

Hello!

This weekend has been a lovely mix of a lovely date afternoon and evening with my fiancé and then him leaving for work and having the whole day to myself to do very little. The ideal weekend with some moderately social plans and a day to recover Рperfect!

I thought I’d do a little wrap up of the day I spent with my partner on Saturday because we went to a few places and it was a lovely afternoon!

We booked tickets to see comedian Ed Gamble at the Oxford Playhouse months and months ago – long enough ago that we had to keep reminding each other of the date because amongst all the other life things, it could have very easily gotten lost in our inboxes. But it didn’t!

As every good Saturday should, we started with a lie in (and nine and a half hours sleep, glorious!). We then had a very relaxed morning and lunch at home before setting off for Oxford. It sounds silly, but I get really nervous about parking and public transport and getting to the right place at the right time, so going to a Park and Ride that I’d never been to before to get on a bus I’d not used to go to a venue I didn’t know was quite a lot for my anxious little brain but it was actually incredibly easy, which was a huge relief.

As soon as we got off the bus in Oxford City Centre, I spotted a ginormous Waterstones and even though I’m on a book buying ban this year (four months without breaking so far!), that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to look at the five story book shop. We had a good old mooch in the Teen section (because growing out of YA is a myth) and then went up to the general fiction where I promptly starting making a list of the romance novels I wanted to read and will probably download on Audible whilst my lovely fianc√© Lucas found the graphic novel and general ‘nerd’ section, promptly finding an Overwatch and a Doctor Who book that fell into the tote bag I suggested he buy to carry his new books.

Next, in taking a slow wonder through a very busy Oxford, we found ‘The HMV Shop’, which is a very Oxford way of naming an HMV but we move. They had loads of fun t-shirts and I accidentally bought a beautiful Hogwarts shirt that I will proudly wear to work next week as well as a Stranger Things notebook with lights in it (reduced from ¬£14.99 to ¬£3.99, probably because the lights were pretty disappointing) and a pretty Legend of Zelda poster for my nerdy boy because I’m a very lovely fianc√© (and it was ¬£3 and would look lovely on our living room wall).

From there we went into West Gate to peruse our options for dinner – the comedy show was due to start at 7.30pm so we knew we needed to eat sooner rather than later. I’ve been talking about taking Lucas to The Breakfast Club ever since an impromptu lunch with my masters girls back in pre-covid 2020 and now was the perfect opportunity! And it was absolutely dead in there because Google reckoned it closed at 5 when it didn’t and a rather large hen party went in which was rather off putting (but they were in a separate room and we could barely hear the singing).

Honestly though, The Breakfast Club let me down – I remember being blown away by the food two years ago but for the price, it was mediocre at best and the customer service was shocking. I’m all for colleagues being friends and having a natter but when they’re doing it at the till that is less than 2 feet from our table, shouting across the restaurant to each other and leaving us without giving us the bill for longer than we’d spent eating the underwhelming food, it leads to a pretty rubbish experience. And then putting the ‘optional’ service charge on the bill without asking? Bit much. Not going to be returning there in a hurry/ever!

Mediocre dinner aside, we were still really early for the show, but we took a slow walk to the Oxford Playhouse where my partner was shouldered in the elbow by a tweenager who promptly let the entire street know he thought he was a ‘wanker’ and we laughed at how the little silly tween boy thought he looked ‘hard’.

With the Oxford Playhouse being right in the city centre, we arrived approximately an hour before the show started, but so did lots of other people so we took a seat, debated getting drinks and decided they were too expensive before being some of the first ones sat in the theatre and playing a silly colour matching game on Lucas’s phone as the theatre filled up, the volume became a bit much and I very seriously thought I might have an anxiety attack. But silly colour matching game kept me occupied until the support act came on.

Chloe Petts was absolutely fantastic – I got a little too in my head about the whole thing and was mildly concerned I’d be the weirdo in the crowd that didn’t laugh throughout the whole show, but Chloe had the most wonderful stage presence and don’t you worry reader, I laughed the night away. Chloe’s parting words were ‘don’t be pussy, follow me on twitter and Instagram’ and I did, what can I say.

Then the man himself Mr Ed Gamble – what we didn’t realise when booking these tickets is that this show would be the last night of the first leg of the tour and with that in mind, Ed had no fucks left to give. He was absolutely brilliant and I haven’t laughed so hard for so long in a very long time.

I realised about half way through that every time I laughed I kept slapping Lucas’s thigh and I did wonder at what point I would actually bruise him. If that’s not a summary of the night I’m not sure what could be.

The whole set was fantastic – the whole journey home we kept reminding each other of some of the punchlines and giggling and now we want to go to all the comedy gigs. A perfect first comedy show for us, thank you Mr Gamble sir.

Now the end of the night is the boring bit right? Wait for the bus, see a whole plethora of Oxford students and young people preparing for their nights out as we were heading home, get in the car, beep beep down the M40 and basically straight into bed, right? Well, pretty much but there was one mildly entertaining thing that happened and I’m pretty sure it won’t be as funny in writing but I want to share it anyway.

We realised about three quarter’s of the way through the show that not having a drink and laughing the night away was not a fantastic combination, so we went to a little Tesco, witnessed someone buying far too many onions for 10pm on a Saturday night (like, 10+ onions), bought ourselves a couple of painfully boring non-alcoholic drinks and waddled on back to the bus stop opposite a Wetherspoons (entertainment enough, really).

We got on the bus with a bunch of lovely people who were getting off before us and let us have the two remaining seats and settled in for the journey back to the park and ride. Only to realise the next stop, was right outside the Tesco’s we’d just bought our drinks from and we’d walked all the way to the next bus stop.

Thank you for reading!

Sophie xx

7 mini blog posts – Fitness, Life, Reading, Wedding and a Film Review!

2022, career, fitness, lifestyle, review

Hello!

I’m feeling a bit in-between with my blog at the moment – I want to write but I’m quite stressed and I don’t have the creative energy to think of original ideas to write about. In the last 24 hours I’ve developed a rather disgusting cold (that thankfully isn’t covid!) and I’m very bunged up and my brain feels like cotton wool, which is absolutely not helping!

So I thought today I’d write a few mini blog posts of ideas I had that aren’t long enough to make a whole post. There’s a mix of mini life updates, random thoughts and even a film review, I hope you enjoy!

One – Making Progress With Exercise

I think if you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you’ll know I’m quite good at getting over excited about something when I start it and then not really following through. And to go with that – I started Couch to 5k this week… for the third time! Have I ever finished the nine-week running program before? No, but will I try again? Absolutely!

But what I wanted to say is that pairing running with having been doing three dance classes a week for nearly eight months now, I’m finally starting to see an improvement in my fitness. I’m very particular about monitoring my statistics on my FitBit and the section for ‘Cardio Fitness’ has always been rated as ‘Poor’ for me, but in the last few days I’ve actually got into the ‘Fair’ category and although I’m not losing a ton of weight and both my dance classes and runs absolutely exhaust me, I can feel a difference! And that progress is more motivating than anything else.

Two – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

My partner and I booked a random week off a couple of months ago, just to be able to spend some time together and actually take a break from work, because we were both exhausted. When we realised it tied in with the release of the new Fantastic Beasts film, we decided to treat ourselves and drive up to the Showcase Cinema near my mum’s house because they have the fancy pants comfy recliner seats and now I’m a cinema snob.

The film itself at surface level was fun – the music was incredible, there were some really funny moments and the magic will always be a place of home for me, despite all the controversy around the Wizarding World, I can’t help but feel comforted by it.

As proper nerds, there were a lot of points we made as we came out of the film that made it no more than a 6/10 (for me at least). Personally, I feel like the whole trilogy wasn’t really thought through and the intention of the plot got lost along the way, but I want to keep this a spoiler free review so I won’t go into it too much.

The one non-spoiler thing that really stood out to me is that a couple of the accents were really patchy? Jude Law, as an English actor, sounded both American and Irish in parts and appeared to struggle to maintain his English accent and the charms professor, we had no idea whether she was a Hogwarts teacher or an Ilvermorny teacher because her accent consistently switched. A little distracting. But still a 6 out of 10 film.

Three – The wedding is coming together!

Part of the reason we came up to the Showcase near my mum’s is that it’s also near our wedding venue and we had an appointment with the woman who’s helping us organise the day and I had a consultation with a hair stylist.

I had been using our week off to spend some time on some of the more tedious admin tasks around the wedding and I was just getting to the point where it was feeling a bit stressful and overwhelming, but our meeting went really well and we got a little tour of the part of the venue that’s being renovated so I feel much more calm about it all now!

It’s all coming together and is slowly starting to feel much more real.

Four – I did a dance show

I spent my entire childhood going to more and more dance classes – starting with ballet, then trying acro, starting tap and modern, adding hip hop – basically going to as many classes as I could and doing a big show at the local theatre every two years.

Never did I think at 25 I’d be doing it again but I donned my sparkly waistcoat for a tap duet and a jingly jangly ballet costume and performed for the first time since dancing at a cheerleading competition at uni.

It’s a funny one, because I don’t feel like it’s me in those photos – it’s not new information that I’m very insecure about my weight and I don’t feel like I look like me, but outside of seeing the photos and videos, I loved being back on stage and I feel very lucky to have found such a wonderful dance company to do it with.

Five – Work feels stressful in a good way

Despite having this week off (having desperately needed it!), work actually feels stressfully rewarding at the moment.

The department I work in has grown and changed exponentially in the six months I’ve been with the company and just a couple of weeks ago we did a massive content overhaul and started working to a new content plan and don’t get me wrong, it’s been incredibly busy, but it’s given us more structure to work with and I’ve somewhat been given the responsibility of making it sustainable and it’s getting there!

I’m learning a lot of organisational and management skills, which is nothing like the marketing job I thought I’d signed up for but I think I like the more ‘producer’ side of my role. I never thought I was the right person to work in media, but it turns out I’m actually not too bad at it!

What makes a huge impact is that I have the most amazing colleagues – I adore the people I work with and I feel like we work so well together as a team, the media production team are going to do big things this year and at surface level I will appear to be very stressed about it, but having had a week off to reflect I’m so proud of what our little media team has achieved.

Six – I’ve hit my reading peak already this year

I mentioned it briefly in my April Goals, but I’m basically not reading at the moment – I managed to listen to one audiobook in March (it was a bloody good one though) and in April so far I’ve not listened to or read a single word.

With my audiobooks, I feel like I’ve not got the brain space to listen to a story when I’m driving and to read a physical book before I go to sleep? Not a chance – I get into bed and I’m asleep within about 10 minutes!

I’m not sure what the solution is, I imagine I just have to ride the wave and get back to it when I feel ready, but I do miss it! When the weather gets better I can’t wait to get the sun loungers out and sit in the garden with a book.

Seven Why is it so hard to find plus sized active wear

This has always bothered me, but particularly recently – my ballet friend and I decided we want to go back to wearing tights and leotards to class (because why not?) and although I still have a bunch of leotards from when I was a teenager at dance (because I’m sentimental af), I’m not quite the same size I was then!

But finding leotards that go to bigger sizes are ridiculous! I’m lucky if the Large is bigger than a 14 and there’s no such thing as a plus sized leotard that’s not lycra and shiny – I want the pretty leotards too!

It’s not just the lack of availability that bothers me, it’s the teenage girls who did as many dance classes as I did being told that they’re ‘Large’ because they’re bigger than a 10. God forbid being tall! Or having broad shoulders! Let’s not even talk about boobs. The industry is so discriminative and sure, they want professional dancers to be a certain size, whatever – no random girl on the internet is going to change that – but there’s so much more to dance than being a professional ballerina.

But it’s not just dance wear – even just fitness clothes are difficult to find if you’re plus sized! It baffles me that we have to have different sections for ‘plus sized’ and ‘petite’ and ‘tall’ when surely it would be better if everyone had access to exactly the same options but available in all sizes, with a petite, regular and tall option.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks it but it is just another way to make people feel bad about themselves, isn’t it? Because there’s no way that anyone who shops in the ‘plus sized’ section should be allowed to feel happy with how they look?

Why are we gatekeeping exercise? I go to three dance classes a week and getting clothes to exercise in has been a nightmare, and I’m lucky enough to be a size that is sometimes catered for in the main range.

Maybe I’ve just not found the right places to shop, but the whole thing is incredibly frustrating!


Not quite the note I wanted to end on, but there’s a few thoughts I’ve had recently!

Of course, in the process of not being able to think of one complete blog post, I’ve written one three times the length I normally would! But like I said at the beginning, I love writing and I very much enjoy writing on my little blog!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

April Goals ’22

2022, goals

Hello!

Yes, I’m still here! March ended up being ridiculously busy between a relatively big change to my role at work which took me longer to process than it should have, rehearsals for a dance show that let me pretend I was a teenager again (except I can drive myself to the theatre now!) and trying to get enough sleep at night, I didn’t have the time let alone the brain space to think about anything else!

But, a personal goal of mine is to let myself get better at rearranging my to do lists and not beating myself up if I don’t finish every single task so in a way, it was all good practice!

And to be honest, the only thing you missed out on was a March Reading Wrap Up post where I said that I only finished one book (the audiobook for ‘The Love Hypothesis’ by Ali Hazelwood which was 5/5) and having a little sad ramble about how my brain is too busy and sleepy to make time for reading at the moment.

So now it’s April, my dance show is over (and went pretty well I think!), I’m starting the month with a week off work to spend with my partner and I’m ready to feel refreshed and re-energised! Here are my goals for the month:

Sort out my portfolio website – I’ve been getting emails about it left right and centre about domains and WordPress things and I need to figure it all out. I want to evaluate if it really serves me to have a half finished website that I don’t know enough about to make it look pretty and I can’t afford to hire a proper designer. Whether it’s finishing it or deleting it, I’m going to figure it out and sort it this month!

Start Couch to 5k – it’ll be my third attempt to finish the program, but my partner and I are going to try and do it together and pairing that with now getting a gym membership through work, I’m actually kind of excited about exercising. Since starting dance again last September, I’ve enjoyed feeling like I’m pushing myself and getting better at something and I think running will be really good for me.

Wedding tasks – bridesmaid’s dresses, hair and make-up, ushers suits – this month marks only 7 months to the wedding and with my wedding dress ordered (eeeee!) it all feels more real and I’ve really got to get a move on! I have a hair consultation booked with the spa at the venue but getting the outfits sorted for the rest of the wedding party is the main priority now (or at least, starting the process!).

Writing challenge – what did I just say about being adaptable and not overwhelming myself with tasks? Ha, why not set a challenge to write 45,000 words in a month and not start until day 4, sounds like a fantastic idea. But, the writing is more important to me than the word goal – the way I spend my free time has totally changed since I was a teenager and I don’t spend every waking minute writing anymore, I have to set myself goals or I don’t do it. And when I do set the goals I always realise how much I still love it.

Monthly goals:
Read 3 books
Weekly savings challenge
Date night (actually already done, as soon as he got his first negative covid test and we could stop social distancing in our own house!)
Craft project – Use my cricut

My craft project goals this year have absolutely fallen on the back burner and been the first thing to go when I’m busy, but starting the month with a week off, I want to make time to figure out how I can use it to do some crafts for the wedding – I’m really excited about it.

I absolutely need to work on setting myself less overwhelming goals – like starting a new workout plan, craft projects and writing challenges all in one month is a bit much, but it’s as much about prioritising what I really enjoy and learning about personal time management as it is about ticking off goals. It might not make sense, but I at least like to tell myself I vaguely know what I’m doing!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

how I’m using my bullet journal in 2022

2022, bullet journal, organisation

Hello!

I’ve been bullet journalling for over five years – I couldn’t find a diary that suited what I wanted in 2017 while I was still at uni so I decided to try this bullet journal malarky that I’d seen online. I’d seen all these beautifully organised spreads and designs that were basically works of art as well as really functional home made diaries.

My first journal was very much ‘make it up as I go along’ but as I got to know the format, saw more inspiration online and figured out what was most effective for me, I refined my design and adapted it as I finished uni and used it for a different purpose.

As I finished my masters in a pandemic and started my first full time job, I was still using my bullet journal but not to the same degree – I didn’t feel I needed it as much, it was a notebook I’d plan some tasks in once a week then barely look at.

But as I was shown more and more bullet journal videos on tiktok, I became inspired about using my bullet journal again. So when the New Year rolled around, I used 2022 as a brand new start and totally updated the way I use my journal and I want to talk about it because it’s meant that I’ve used my journal almost every night this year so far!

So here’s a look inside my journal and how I’m using it differently:

ANNUAL SPREADS

In previous journals, every month has gotten it’s own page and often went forgotten and unused. But now it’s the first step of my little bullet journal routine – ticking off the day, adding in any new social plans or key dates (I’ve just started adding movie release dates to it!). I feel so much more organised and prepared for the months ahead being able to see four months at a time.

Next I have the tracker for my savings challenge, which I mostly just enjoy getting to colour in a square every week. I also have a weight loss tracker on the reverse page but I don’t feel comfortable enough to post that on the internet just yet, the same principle applies though but it’s extra satisfying because it’s much harder work to be able to colour in a square on that tracker.

The visual representations of my goals – both financial and health – are a really useful way for me to stay focused and accommodate for those goals.

I’ve seen lots of people on tiktok have separate reading journals but the whole point of my bullet journal is to streamline everything into one notebook. Here I have more boxes to colour in as I get closer to my annual reading goal, I write down what I’m reading, I’ve got a ‘book of the month’ tracker which can help me pick a book of the year as well as a cute looking bookshelf and a genre tracker, so I can see which genres are my highest rated.

I love reading so much and I love writing about it and tracking it all.

MONTHLY SPREADS

A relatively simple and self explanatory one (and more boxes to colour in!). A calendar with a list of any plans, my goals and my blog posts for the month, all in the theme of the colour from the calendar at the front of the journal.

Making the trackers page is my least favourite part of every month because I have to write the dates out so many times but it’s a really good way of keeping things I want to work on in the forefront of my mind – the tasks I want to do every day like filling in my bullet journal and doing my Duolingo, health goals like drinking enough water and doing my step goal – seeing them and being able to (or not able to) tick them off every day makes the world of difference!

Having a ‘highlight of the day page’ is a brand new one for me – I have one of those 5 Year Line a Day journals that I fill in every night but having a space in my bullet journal to list the best part of every day is a really good way for me to find just one good thing to write down, even when I feel like there isn’t any, I can always write something. And at the end of the month it’s lovely to look back on them all.

The main thing I’m doing differently with my weekly spreads is that I do most of the design elements all in one go at the beginning of the month, rather than starting from a blank page each week. It doesn’t make much of a difference, but I find having the pages where I’ve done all the outlines but not yet filled it in incredibly satisfying.

I’ve experimented with the design and I’m now working on setting myself 4 base tasks a day rather than 5 because I find it’s far more convenient for my productivity, and even though I’m technically achieving less every day, I get less overwhelmed and I feel more comfortable taking tasks at my own pace and I end up ticking off more, rather than letting it all build up until I’m too overwhelmed.

And I’ve found I’m much better at handling free time – rather than constantly feeling overwhelmed by how much I have to do, I’m giving myself space to breath; to just laze on the sofa watching Netflix and doing some crafts. I’m working on that feeling that I constantly have to do something ‘productive’ and I’m very much enjoying learning how to relax.

That’s what I love about using a bullet journal diary – it’s totally adaptable and you can do whatever you want with it.

I love my bullet journal so much more in 2022 than I have in the last year or so and I love sitting down at my desk as the last thing I do every day and reflecting, ticking off what I’ve down and using my rather large collection of coloured pens. It’s a very mindful action for me and although my mental health is really not very good at the moment, taking control of the things I can – like giving myself five minutes to colour in some squares in my journal – is really beneficial for me.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

March Goals ’22

2022, goals

Hello!

Another month has flown past and it’s time for some new goals for me to work towards.

Last month’s goals actually went really well and for the first time ever, I have amended my yearly goals to suit what I actually want going forward. I’d always given myself very strict guidelines and led myself to believe that changing or amending a goal was a failure and not ‘true to my intentions’. When actually, things change – now isn’t the right time to work on what I want to achieve, what I want might need more steps to be reached and what I want might change completely and that’s okay. I’m learning to be more flexible with myself and invest my time into the things that are truly most important to me.

And we’re only in March! Imagine where I’ll be at the end of the year!

So these are my mini goals for the month:

Seasonal Wardrobe Update – I started doing a seasonal wardrobe after (unsuccessfully) trying the project 333 challenge last year, but even though the challenge didn’t work for me, I found swapping out my clothes seasonally worked really well for me from a storage perspective (because ya gal doesn’t have a lot of space) but also it’s a great way for me to bring the seasonally appropriate clothes to the forefront and the out-of-season clothes can be tucked away. Part of the Project 333 challenge that I am trying to implement is parting ways with the clothes that I haven’t reached for in a whole season, because that’s a pretty good indicator that I’m never going to. This practice (and it does take practice, believe me) has really helped me refine my shopping habits over the past year as well, because I feel so much more in tune with what I actually wear and what I feel good in, I’m much less likely to impulse buy (please note: less; if it is soft, oversized and snuggly I cannot be held accountable for my actions).

Properly plan finances – this one is kind of already done as my payday is the 1st of the month, but rather than rushing to move money into different savings accounts, I took the time to look at how much our bills are in both the joint account and my personal account, allocate savings appropriately and then send my spending money to my Monzo account (a new thing for me, but I wanted to try having my personal spending and my personal bills in different accounts and so far, very good!). It’s not perfect, but I am working on being much more mindful with my spending with all these adult things on the horizon like a wedding and wanting to save for a house deposit etc. At least I started the month on the right foot!

House tidying and sorting – I feel like having your own space is a case of constantly rearranging, sorting, tidying and rearranging again! We’ve been in this house for nearly a year and there’s still piles of things here and there and stuff I want to sort through. But what I have learnt about goal setting is that generic statements like ‘sort and tidy the house’ are really difficult to achieve – my focus is to clear what has accidentally become a craft dumping zone in the living room and a pillow dumping zone in the spare room. One day maybe I’ll even get to the garage!

Wedding to dos – I’ve been banging on about monthly wedding tasks for the best part of a year and the wedding is still 8 months away! My intentions for this month are to make the final decisions that will allow us to select our invitation stationary (and maybe even send them?) and order my wedding dress, but the evil beast that is covid has already reared it’s ugly head and put a spanner in the works of going dress shopping this weekend. But I’m trying to remember what I’ve already said about being flexible and adapting and making arrangements for another time – it’s all going to be okay and it’s not the end of the world if I haven’t picked my dress by the end of the month!

And my monthly goals that I have every month are to read 3 books, do my weekly savings challenge, have a date night with my fiancé and work on a craft project.

I’m still working on January and February’s craft projects in the background, but I feel like I’ve ‘discovered’ crafting and watching TV in the last week or so and I definitely intend to be doing a lot more of it in the precious time I get to just sit and watch TV when I’m home alone!

The end of February and the beginning of March has already been a bit rocky between having covid and not taking enough time off work, getting back to work and my colleague who I sit next to every day then testing positive, a trip to go wedding dress shopping cancelled on the morning I was going and generally being very stressed and having bad mental health. It’s been a lot, but the only thing I can do it take one day at a time, one moment at a time. Everything else is a bridge to cross if and when I get to it.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

February Reading Wrap-Up

2022, books

Hello!

Another month has flown by and I’m so glad for it – the mornings are lighter, the evenings are lighter, but it’s still cold enough to wear cosy sweaters, thick tights and boots. I can’t lie, I’m mostly excited for pay day – January was long and that money disappeared very quickly, so I’m glad February is a short month!

I read 4 books this month so I’m roughly keeping up with the one I week I started in January. I would have squeezed in another audiobook but I tested positive for covid last weekend so I’ve been working from home so I haven’t been driving into the office and have lost 10 hours of driving time (great for my car mileage, less great for my book listening time). Could I have spent that time at home listening to a book? Yes, but I spent most of it sleeping and I have no regrets.

The first book I finished was Grand Theft Astro by Scott Meyers – I picked this one from the Audible Plus catalogue because it sounded fun, then I let my partner choose my next listen and I’m pretty sure he picked this one because of the pun on the video game Grand Theft Auto. But unfortunately there’s a reason this one is in the Audible Plus free catalogue and doesn’t appear on on Storygraph or Goodreads or anything – it was terrible. The narrator sounded bored out of her skull and I know it’s Sci-Fi but sometimes the techy descriptions went on for so long. The intricacies of a telekinetic wooly jumper and how it’s being used to commit intergalactic crime were incredibly dull. The issue with an emotionless character devoid of personality is it gives me nothing to care about – I didn’t care that she was sick, I didn’t care that they couldn’t find a cure, I didn’t care about anything. This one was a slog and I’m glad I got it out the way early in the month. 1 star.

Next, I finished Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher, the sequel to Billy and Me that I read in January. I described the first one as an average easy-read contemporary romance and the sequel was much the same but with significantly less romance and a painfully predictable ending. It’s been less than a month and I can barely remember what happened, but I know for certain that I’d rather have read a story about strong independent business owner Sophie and the relationship she had with her mother following the passing of her father and the blending of her family with a new one. The romance was the least interesting bit and I really don’t think Sophie and Billy should have stayed together. I don’t know if it’s worthy of 2 stars, but I really don’t think it deserves 3 stars. Will probably donate the series to the charity shop!

Meanwhile, I was listening to Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody on Audible – I think this was another one on Audible Plus and I’ve seen lots of people on tiktok talking about it so I made the most of it whilst it didn’t cost me any extra! YA Fantasy seems to be the genre for me because I lapped it up like a teenage girl – a fantastically built universe with interesting, different but utterly believable magical elements and authentic characters makes for a fantastic story. As soon as my next Audible credit came in, I downloaded the sequel and when I’m back at work I will be jumping straight in on my commute. A 5 star read that I’m very excited to read the second and third instalment of.

And my fourth and final read of the month is Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron – another one that has been all over tiktok. The concept sounded interesting but I can’t quite get over the overt sexism and how ridiculous it all is. Sophia as a protagonist was incredibly annoying, her relationship with Constance came out of nowhere and makes no sense. It’s the side of YA that I feel I’m too old for – the mentality that a teenager knows everything and will change the world and the na√Įvety to believe they can. Unrelated to the story, the book was bound in a way that made it very difficult to bend the pages and one of the pages ripped which was incredibly upsetting. Not worth the hype and felt too much like box ticking for me. 2 stars.

It’s been a month of extremes, with star ratings at both ends of the scale but I’m still feeling really excited about reading – I’ve managed month 2 of my year of book buying ban and although there’s no way I’ll finish everything on my tbr by the end of the year, I like that I’m making a dent.

Thank for you for reading,

Sophie xx

Currently Watching – TV Recommendations

2022, tv

Hello!

Although it will seem like no time at all to some, my partner is away with four back to back jobs at work and will be gone for 10 days and I – a codependent, sappy mess – already miss him and it hasn’t even been 24 hours. So I thought a nice way to lean into that feeling without being super miserable would be to talk about the TV we’ve been watching together, what I watch when I’m home alone and what I’m looking forward to watching next.

I love storytelling in all forms and when I love something I fall hard – whether it’s books, TV, films or even TikTok, I often can’t stop myself thinking about these things and if someone has the misfortune of bringing it up? I will go off. Sometimes that can lead to a lovely conversation between two people who love the same thing, sometimes people look at me funny and realise how weird I really am.

So, here’s what I’m watching at the moment:

  • Greys Anatomy – this is something Lucas (le fianc√©) and I are watching together. This is such a hard one to talk to anyone about because there are so many seasons and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else and I don’t want anyone else to spoil it for me. There’s 16 seasons on Disney+ at the moment and I’m pretty sure season 18 or 19 is in the works, so this is a long commitment but I’m here for it. It’s trashy and unrealistic because everyone’s dating each other but it’s sweet and funny and I have a top three favourite characters but it makes me sad so I’m not talking about it.
  • Arcane – the relatively new Netflix series based on the League of Legends game (but apparently the game isn’t anything like it? It’s set in the same universe or something?). This is another one I’m watching with Lucas and obviously the gamer nerd was more interested in watching it than I am. I’m finding it was a bit slow in the middle and I might have ‘accidentally’ taking a nap during one episode but now we’re nearing the end I’m getting back into it – we only have a couple of episodes left.
  • Merlin – I recently finished the series I’ve been watching whenever I’m home alone (I’ll get to that later) and having listened to a couple of fantasy audiobooks recently, I fancied a rewatch of the fantasy series that started my relationship with creative writing. Merlin is a BBC show that launched in 2008 and I became so obsessed with it, I started writing my very first fanfiction. It’s cringy as heck to look back on, but without it I definitely wouldn’t have fallen in love with writing the way I have, so I have a very sentimental spot for this show and I’m very much enjoying the nostalgia of rewatching it.
  • The Resident – technically I binge watched this a while ago (even snuck in a couple of episodes while I was working from home last year) but I’m keeping it on the ‘currently watching list’ because I’ve just been notified that season 5 has been added on Disney+ so I will be pausing my Merlin rewatch to binge through that, inevitably in one weekend if I’m honest. But I love it so much – I’m really into medical dramas and I have no idea why (it started with watching clips on Facebook video, now I’m listing my second of several medical shows on one TV recs list).

Now for the shows I recently finished:

  • The Wheel – completely unrelated to anything else on this list, The Wheel is a BBC One Saturday night quiz show hosted by Michael McIntyre and filmed by the broadcast company Lucas works for, so one of our friends worked on shooting both series one and two and we watched it as a way of supporting him, now we’re a little bit obsessed. Some of the celebrity experts on the show are painfully dumb and some of the contestants are somehow worse, but I love a quiz show and a multiple choice quiz show means I always have a 25% chance of guessing a right answer and feeling like a boss. Thoroughly recommend – we finished series 2 and it was a banger.
  • House, M.D. – now this is the medical show I’ve been binging for months. This was my go to when Lucas was away for so long and just last weekend I finished the end of season 8, the last season, and wow it was a rollercoaster. It’s like if a medical show met a detective show, I don’t know how accurate the medicine is but the heart and the story of each of the characters is just beautiful – Doctor Robert Chase and his beautiful Australian accent will live forever in my heart and I will argue that James Wilson is one of the most underrated characters on the show. But Gregory House himself, Hugh Laurie, is incredible, absolutely fantastic show. Some of the jokes have aged incredibly poorly, but I can’t deny that I very much enjoyed this show.
  • Cheer Season 2 – I absolutely adored the first season of Cheer when it released last year – showing the athleticism and the dedication to the sport outside of the stereotype of high school popular party girls. Season 2 was so interesting to watch the follow up from how much season 1 blew up, the impact of the pandemic and the more in depth introduction to a proper rivalry team. Personally I preferred season 1 because I think it felt a lot more organic and the way some of the issues were handled in season 2 weren’t great (i.e. Jerry undergoing a trial for child grooming and everyone mourning like he didn’t deserve it…) and the ending was heartbreaking, but the insight to the sport and to sport competition in the US is still so fascinating. I binge watched the whole thing in maybe a day and a half?

And here’s what I’m going to watch next:

  • Suits – my mum and I watched maybe 2 or 3 seasons when it was originally airing, but I really want to rewatch it and try and follow it a bit more closely. I feel like it’ll scratch the same itch the medical dramas do but with less gore and significantly less vomiting. Plus, Patrick Adams is a very pretty person.
  • The Crown – I didn’t think I was really into historical dramas then I watched Bridgerton (don’t worry, I’m getting to it). I love the history of the monarchy and the cast is insane so I definitely need to give this one a watch. I also find it particularly interesting that I think this show is almost entirely responsible for the sudden remembrance of Princess Diana, bringing back her fashion style and consequently more films. Maybe it’s a huge coincidence, but the new-found Diana hype absolutely coincided with her characterisation in the Crown.
  • The Good Doctor – this one should kind of be on my ‘currently watching’ list, I watched about two and a half seasons last year but then got logged out of my friends Sky Go account and felt awkward asking to log in again, so let it go. But then I realised it’s on Amazon Prime which I already have so I need to finish it off at some point.
  • Bridgerton S2 – here she is! I also binge watched this in early 2021 (I think I must have been going through a very low phase to have been binge watching this much TV?) and absolutely adored it – I love the modern take on a historical drama without the racist excuse of ‘historical accuracy’, I loved the orchestration of modern pop songs, I love the fact it inspired a whole musical on tiktok (which was then nominated for a grammy). I’m very excited for season 2 and I might even branch out into the books, but my tbr is already long enough for now!
  • Stranger Things S4 Volume 1 + 2 – the release date for the new season of Stranger Things has only been announced in the last couple of days but oh my god I’m excited. There’s a licensed book of the series that is set just before El is born called ‘Suspicious Minds’ and it is such an incredible tie in to the show that I kind of hate that I don’t know anyone that’s read it because it’s such a cool addition to the story of the universe. I absolutely need to rewatch the first three seasons before season 4 volume 1 comes out in May

I knew that as soon as I started writing about TV, I’d go off on one and write a really long post. But I think those are the best ones, because I think it shows how much I really, genuinely care about what I’m writing.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie x

I have nothing to write about

2022, writing

Hello,

Don’t get me wrong, I really love my little blog – I haven’t committed to anything for this long probably ever, maybe the dance classes my parents paid for before I went to uni. But the inspiration is low, even though I’m only writing one post a week instead of the two I managed for most of last year.

Every time I think of something I could write about – how I’m adjusting my routine to spend more time on basic self care, my experience with mental health and body image at the moment or even how I turned being the burnt out bright kid who didn’t finish any of her A Level English Literature texts to reading 45 books in a year, but it all feels so fake. Who am I to write about any of those things as if I am in a position of authority? I have no advanced experience in anything to share or educate with anyone and I’d be writing for the sake of it.

Which is exactly what I’m doing now… But we’ll gloss over that one for now.

Part of me thinks it’s imposter syndrome – who am I to think anyone should listen to or read anything I have to say about anything? But then I think that thinking it’s imposter syndrome is pretentious because assigning that term to myself implies that I believe I really am an authority on any of those things and I’m just having a moment of self doubt. Can it be imposter syndrome when I’m just right in that I’m not qualified to write about anything and I should stop writing a blog as if I’m important enough or knowledgable enough for someone to read it.

I’m really proud of the fact that over the last couple of years, I’ve stopped trying to ‘commercialise’ my blog – I did my time using trending hashtags and posting every couple of hours about my latest content and trying to be an influencer. I’ve stopped sharing my content as much, I don’t put my social links at the bottom of blog posts anymore because I write the things I want to look back on and if there is anyone else reading my posts, I’d rather they engaged with the content than followed me on Instagram.

I love writing – getting this all out has felt really nice and sitting with my laptop and just typing is a comforting feeling. Like when I’m creative writing and I’m working on idea or a moment and the story is almost telling itself – there’s several moments where I’ve been writing and I’ve almost been surprised by the words on the page because it almost feels like I’m not writing them, or the characters have started building a relationship I didn’t intend for and it just makes sense. I love that feeling.

I think I’m tired and burnt out. I think a full time 40 hour work week is too much for my neurodivergent brain, so piling on dance classes three nights a week, wedding planning, maintaining the bare minimum of a social life and desperately trying to make lifestyle changes to lose weight isn’t really helpful. There isn’t a solution at the moment, just hoping for a full nights sleep and a better week next week.

But the blog block is real – I now plan for roughly four posts a month; the last of each month is my reading wrap up and the first is my monthly goals and whilst I prefer the idea of keeping the middle two to be less structured, maybe I need themes and guides to take out the element of decision making that comes with not knowing what to blog about.

My two most popular blog posts are ‘there’s no songs about turning 24‘ and a creative writing piece called ‘if you had three wishes, what would they be?‘ and I can’t explain why they’re still consistently my two best performing posts when they were written two and five years ago respectively. But they’re examples of two more things I really love writing – personal rambles and creative writing. Maybe my four monthly posts could be my goals, creative writing, a personal ramble life update sorta thing and then a reading wrap up.

It’s my blog, it’s always been for me, I’m lucky if I get a few hundred views per month, let alone per post, which leads me back to ‘why am I writing this’ and ‘nobody cares’.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, and I don’t know if anybody cares. But I know I’m not the only one who feels like this, even if I don’t really see anyone else talking about it. And I do like the idea of saying things that others won’t, no matter how vulnerable it makes me feel.

Thank you for reading if you are, I hope you don’t mind my content ideas,

Sophie xx