As of the beginning of this month, my work has changed from working 5 days a week to working 4 days a week and now I have Friday’s off!
But I am a creature of habit and I thrive on routine so immediately my thoughts turned to ‘what task could I do weekly to fill that time’ so I thought I’d talk through some of the options that immediately sprung to mind!
First thing’s first…
All the boring things – cleaning the house, laundry, tidying the garden, sorting letters and emails and insurance and phone calls and all the boring things that always get put off. It’s not how I want to spend my Fridays, but realistically it’s how I should.
Crafting / Starting an Etsy shop?
I have so many craft supplies that I barely use – my sewing machine? Still barely know how to use it. My Cricut? Actually don’t know how to use it. Can I crochet yet? Not a chance. I would really like to use this time to use all my knitting materials and finish a cross stitch I’ve been working on forever and work through all the kits I’ve got!
And the step up from that, maybe I could find something that I enjoy and I am good at making and turn that into a little Etsy shop! I quite like the idea of having a little side hustle business, but it’s got to be something I really enjoy or there’s no point and I won’t keep it up. But it’s a little background idea that might become something at some point.
Reading/ Self Care
Have I made it clear enough that I like reading from the book account and the monthly book posts and the several hundred books in my spare room?
I think a really solid idea would be to take this day to really look after myself – take a long shower, actually do some skin care, do some activities that I find relaxing like reading, cooking, watching TV… sleeping. Throw in some exercise and some meditation or something and I’ll have cured my depression right?
(for legal reasons, that is a joke)
Spend time on music
I have a lovely electric piano, a guitar, a ukulele and maybe even a flute somewhere but can I play any of them properly? Absolutely not.
There’s so many apps and programmes and YouTube tutorials where I could relearn and get better at these instruments and I think it would be good for me mentally to spend time learning something new, I think it’s quite a therapeutic hobby.
I’ve always said I’ll publish a book one day but the older I get, the less creative writing I do and the less likely this dream is to become a reality but now is the time to grab that dream by the horns! Setting myself weekly writing goals and setting up a desk at home to actually make some progress every week would be a fantastic way to use this extra day…
But the line I want to be very careful not to cross is not to put even more pressure on myself – how I’ve made my to do lists has kept changing this year as I try to fit in more and more and what I learnt from my April writing challenge is that I literally don’t have the hours in the day. Even if I was working at full capacity (which no one ever is right? Everyone gets distracted and tasks take longer than expected because we are not robots) I would not have literal time in the day between driving back from work, making dinner and driving out to dance on three nights a week and expecting myself not to take even ten minutes to just sit on the sofa after a long day and mindlessly scroll through Instagram is ridiculous and unachievable, which only makes me more stressed in the long run.
Realistically, I’ll probably do a combination of these things – when I’m run down, I’ll have a slow day and try to look after myself more, when I’m feeling inspired I’ll work on my writing projects, when I want to sit and cross stitch and binge a new Netflix show I will and when I need to do boring adult things I will get them done. All tied in with a healthy amount of seeing family and friends and planning my wedding!
Maybe as I settle more into the 4 day week, I’ll try something that’s more of a commitment like volunteering or doing a course or something, but for now, I’ll stick with this.
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 – perfect!
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 fiancé 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 fiancé (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.
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!
I had a great idea for a blog post and had far too much faith in it being such a great idea I wouldn’t forget it, then promptly forgot it, so instead I thought I’d make a nice list of the little things that have brought me joy recently, because I’m getting better at finding them.
Filling out my bullet journal every night
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Making funny tiktoks at work
Pasta with cheese
Potatoes with cheese
Just cheese, actually
How I’ve already read three books this month and two of them were 4 stars
My fiancé got a haircut and the back of his head is all soft and fuzzy
Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on my Switch
The second-hand Jaeger coat my dad got me for Christmas that makes me feel bougie af
The fact that whenever anyone says ‘af’ at work, my colleague and I will replace it with ‘auto focus’ (iykyk)
My mum straightened my hair for me last time I went home and it was so soft
My mum still agrees to do things like straighten my hair even though I am 25 years old and should absolutely be able to do it myself
I played Monopoly on the XBox the other night with some mates and it was chaotic and ridiculous and brilliant and we put several properties to auction and only bid $1 each for ages
I feel genuinely valued by my colleagues at work and I’m grateful to work with such a fantastic bunch of people and also be able to call them my friends
I also have a group chat with two of the girls from my old job where we talk almost exclusively about Spider-Man
Did I mention Spider-Man: No Way Home because seriously
Also the Tick, Tick… Boom soundtrack. I have so many feelings about Jonathan Larson and his music
Watching my friend Lottie stream on twitch is so comforting (and she shouted out my blog the other day which was the cutest)
I’m doing a dance show in March and I feel like a teenager again except I’m not surrounded by people who make me feel shit about myself
I keep remembering I’m getting married this year and it’s super weird but also really exciting
I’m actually really excited about my goals / resolutions for the year and it’s nearly three weeks in, which bodes well
I don’t want to shout about it, but I got a pay rise at work and I’m actually really proud of myself (which doesn’t happen very often)
Going to sound very mushy, but about three years ago I remember being in Sainsburys car park and wondering how I could possibly love a human more and more every day but after six years with my now-fiancé, I still love him more and more (I know, I know)
There’s a lot going on at the moment, but rather than quitting and running away, I’m looking for ways to cope and make the things I want to do work, which is a big step
I know it’s super cliché, but if things are really tough at the moment I thoroughly recommend trying to think of even one good thing that’s happened in each day, a highlight, because there will be one, even if it’s that you got out of bed and you faced the day, because god know’s that can be impossible sometimes.
Hopefully one good thing will spiral into a whole list of things you’re grateful for.
And even if you’re not in that place, sometimes writing down all the bad things can be a good way to acknowledge them and let them out of your head and lighten the load on your chest.
Whatever you need, I hope you are able to find your joy, if not now then soon!
It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve realised I’m not as good with money as I thought I was – whenever my mental health is bad, the subconscious desire to self-sabotage and try to make myself happy with whatever I feel I can get away with buying is really not helpful to that stage of life where everything needs saving for; a house deposit, big holidays, the wedding that’s less than a year away…
But rather than set hard and fast rules that I’ll struggle to stick with, I’ve made tiny lifestyle changes that make my bank account a little less busy and my savings accounts more consistent.
The biggest thing to note is that finances are personal – I know I’m bad with money and I find it really hard to resist temptation, so I adapt based on that. Basically – take everything with a pinch of salt; I’m not an expert and by no means have I got it perfect (yet!).
1 – Have a way of tracking your finances
Not necessarily for the sake of analysing what you’re spending and where you could save (though this is probably useful!) but just so at least once a week (or however frequently you update your track) you have to face and write down everything you spent. Did popping into Superdrug end up with a £30 spend? Did you buy a couple too many coffees this week? Did you hide behind online shopping again?
All these things add up and if you’re forced to confront it, it can be all the motivation you need to knuckle down and make the effort to not spend so you don’t have to take money out of your savings account to pay for your phone bill (obviously not speaking from experience…).
Then when you have a low spend week, it’s really satisfying!
2 – Don’t take your purse to work
This one can be a bit trickier, as there’ve been a couple of occasions where I’m running low on fuel with no way to pay for it, but not having the option to nip to the cafe down the road or go to Tescos at lunch makes it so much easier not to give in to those waves of hunger that might just be boredom. This is inadvertently good if you’re on a diet or trying to cut out snacks as well because you can only eat what you’ve brought with you.
3 – Don’t have your bank details saved on your computer or phone
This was kind of an accident on my part – I got a new computer and my details weren’t saved anymore and I got a new phone and haven’t set up Google Pay (though the new phone and laptop were coincidental and we’re going to gloss over them in a budgeting blog post…). Not having these details readily available makes me think twice about what I’m considering buying – especially if I’ve got to the point in the check out where it’s asking for my card details. I am a couch potato and if I have to stand up to get my card details to buy something, that’s really going to make me reevaluate my potential purchase and almost always, I will realise it’s absolutely not something I need so I won’t buy it.
4 – set budgets for things
With Christmas coming up, it’s easy to get carried away and think ‘that’s only a pound, it’ll be a nice stocking filler!’ but all those £1-£5 purchases quickly add up!
Set yourself budgets – make a pretty Excel spreadsheet if it helps – decide on an overall budget and break it down by person if you have to. When picking birthday presents, pick a figure and rather than shopping spontaneously, plan so you stay within budget. A good way to do this if you’re not shopping online or don’t have time to plan anything, is to draw the amount of cash that is your budget and have a no-card-spend day then you can’t go over budget! I did this when I was at uni with my weekly campus food budget – whether it was a hot chocolate, a lunch sandwich or a croque monsieur (praise be to Solent University for having cheap food on campus!) I had £20 and when it was gone it was gone.
Maybe they’re very obvious things, but those are what I’m using at the moment! Sometimes all it takes is seeing it written down as a reminder that there are ways to cut down on your spending. It doesn’t necessarily help with actively saving money, but sometimes it’s just making sure the bills get paid.
I feel like I don’t fit the stereotype of ‘tattoo person’ at all – I feel quite uncomfortable in a tattoo parlour even though I’d desperately like for everyone there to think I’m cool (as if I even know what ‘cool’ looks like, I think it just means self-confident). I feel like my outward appearance is nerdy goody-two-shoes who jumps when the toaster pops.
Which is entirely true, I also just happen to have enough tattoos that I have to count them up each time someone asks how many (currently 10, for the record).
But yesterday was the day for the 11th!
I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time – here’s the inspiration:
My Nanny received this elephant clock as a gift and before she passed away, she wrote my name on his foot – knowing my love for elephants, she said I could have it.
I’ve wanted to get a tattoo based on this shape ever since – it’s been nearly five years now and I’ve decided now’s the time. It’s my first time working with the tattoo artist on a custom design, it’s my first time getting a tattoo with colour and it’s my first time getting a tattoo that will take longer than about half an hour.
The reason I’ve waited so long to get this tattoo is because I didn’t know what to do with it – I didn’t just want a hyper realistic wooden elephant, I didn’t love the idea of the clock because I didn’t want to pick a time (and I didn’t really want to find a relevant or significant time to a memorial tattoo…) but I didn’t want to hyper cartoonise it either.
So I got this:
The detail of the elephant is so pretty but I wanted to include lavender, as it was a scent she loved and everyone in my family now associates with her and I think it’s beautiful. With the clock face, I actually love that it doesn’t have hands – it makes it feel timeless and eternal in a way, and to me, my nan will always be eternal.
I’ve never had a custom designed tattoo before, but I had a moment of confidence at the end of my last appointment and asked about how it would work – I showed them some pictures, booked in for a consultation and the actual tattooing and then didn’t really think about it until the consultation!
I went in, spoke to the artist, showed her some inspiration pictures I liked the look of and then she drew up the design and four days later I spent two and a half hours being poked with a tiny vibrating needle.
The first hour or so I was so confident I could do it in one sitting – none of my tattoos have hurt that much and it was all detailed line and dot work, not like the block lines I’ve had in other tattoos.
I was soon proven wrong.
The delicate skin on the inside of my arm was incredibly painful and I’m pretty sure the longer I lay there, the lower my pain tolerance got. Between that and my elbow aching from being held straight for so long and the majority of my right hand going numb, it definitely wasn’t the ‘spend three hours scrolling on Insta and reading on my phone’ experience I was expecting. But I did get to lie down for nearly three hours and not really think about work or productivity or anything like that. The artist – Ash – was so sweet, always checking in and offering me breaks to sit up and stretch my arm.
For future reference, I think I’d take a fidget toy or a stress toy with me, perhaps to help with the numbness of the hand on the arm being tattooed and to give me something to do with my other hand as well – I ended up spinning the little ring connecting my necklace charm to the chain and that actually did help the pain more than I thought it would.
Afterwards, I felt more lightheaded than I anticipated and I probably should have sat down for a little bit longer before I walked back to my car, but by the time I was driving I felt fine (having some lunch when I got home definitely helped too!).
With my 11th tattoo, I’m kind of at the point where there’s nothing else that I desperately want – I know that I’ll find other designs and more sentimental pieces in the future, but right now I’m definitely ready for a little break before I spend that long paying someone to stab me with tiny needles.
I’m not someone who massively believes every tattoo must have a meaning – wanting to have beautiful art or empowering words on one’s body doesn’t have to come with sentimentality or or a sob story, but for me I have to really connect with what I’m getting to know I’ll be happy to have it on my body forever.
(That and if I got every tattoo I think is pretty, I’d have no room left)
I’m so happy to have this new addition to my collection that is both a beautiful piece of art and a sentimental tribute to a woman I still love so much, no matter what.
Today is my 25th birthday and I’ve had the loveliest day – very lazy morning, taking time to put on make-up and my favourite dress, a little video call with my mum and sibling and opening their very generous presents, then my fiancé took me to a local reservoir for a walk and some lunch, then a trip to Hobbycraft to buy supplies for my new toy (he bought me a cricut!) and an afternoon of playing with the new toy before dinner at the highest rated restaurant in Banbury, which was actually fantastic.
If you’ve ever read any of my posts before, you’ll know I’m a massive goal setter – I love New Years for setting new yearly goals, I love setting monthly mini goals and consistently evaluating my progress, adapting to fit my current desires and pushing myself to develop in the ways I care about most.
I thought about setting myself a few little goals for things I want to achieve before my 26th birthday next year, but if we’ve learnt anything from 18 months of pandemic is that life is unpredictable and sometimes we don’t have control over what we do and don’t achieve.
So rather than setting anything so rigid, I thought I’d set myself a little list of aspirations. Not 26 things I want to achieve in a year, not 3 huge life changes, just a few things I’d be pleased if they did happen!
Travel somewhere internationally – having worked in Italy for five weeks for the Euros, my fiancé has somewhat been bitten by the travel bug and we’d both love to go somewhere new and explore, but also to be somewhere hot near a pool and read. We went to Paris in 2019 and had so many ambitions to explore countries further afoot but that cheeky pandemic made it slightly more difficult, so it would be lovely to get away in the next year!
I’d love to feel more body confident – I think I’ve been at war with my body since I was about 12, always feeling too big compared to all my friends and just in the last couple of weeks, I’ve started dance classes again and it’s the closest to consistent exercise I’ve been since I was doing Couch to 5k last year. I’m hoping this can help me work towards a healthier lifestyle – losing weight would be optimal, but just feeling happier in my own skin would be lovely.
Go to the West End again – I love musical theatre with all my heart and soul. I took my fiancé to see ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ over the summer and I’d love to be able to go more frequently but wow theatre tickets are expensive. I’d love to see the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ‘Cinderella’, I’ve heard amazing things about ‘Six’ and my favourite ‘Les Miserables’ is one I’d love to take my fiancé to see as I adore it so much, but there’s also ‘Frozen’, I’ve never seen ‘The Lion King’ and I really want to see ‘Come From Away’. Conclusion: more theatre required.
I want to be doing a job I really love – what I’ve learned from my current job is that even though I won’t always have the opportunity to work in my dream industry, I can grow to really love what I am working on, whatever that may be. I never thought I’d be so proud working on an inaugural tech festival this year but now I’m actually really disappointed to not be working on next year’s festival if it’s approved. So yeah, I’m still building up my career but to be doing something I actually enjoy is really important to me.
Do more little things that bring me joy – buying myself flowers, using nice products in the shower, wearing my favourite clothes even if it means I’m ‘too dressed up’ – life is short! Buying myself a bubble machine this summer to just sit and watch the bubbles in my garden was one of the best things I did because I didn’t let myself feel bound by ‘things for children’ and taking that mindset forward with me can only be good for my mental health, right?
Having had a wonderful birthday, I’m feeling incredibly content right now and I’m looking forward to continue making little tweaks to my day to day life to maintain that. Life is short, we’ve got to make what we want from it, and mine includes bubbles!
You know how on every birthday, everyone asks you ‘do you feel old?’ and the answer is usually no because it’s just another day that just happens to mark another year around the sun, right?
When I turned 20, I actually did feel older. It felt like a big step – finally shunning the teenage years and officially entering my twenties; the decade of potentially the biggest changes of my life. Graduating university, starting my career, getting married, buying a house, having a baby? I don’t know if I’ll do all those things but it’s a pretty monumental decade!
I feel like 25 is going to have the same impact, because I’m officially halfway through.
And I could write about ’25 Things I’ve Done by 25′ or ’30 Things I Want To Do By 30′ but life is simultaneously short and long – things I’ve done are for me to celebrate with my friends and family. If I’d made a 30 by 30 list when I was 20, half the things I wanted then wouldn’t be relevant now. I’m five years older, on the brink of a neurodiversity diagnosis and I’m starting to understand that wanting a routine and to be in bed by 10pm isn’t a ‘flaw’ I need to push myself out of, but what my mind and body needs and works best with.
I wouldn’t say I’m a completely different person, but I’ve grown in the best way. I took a phone call last week where someone I’d never spoken to before described me as ‘confident’ – that whole sentence was a ride from ‘phone call’ to ‘confident’; look at any of my school reports and I don’t think a single one of them will praise my confidence because I didn’t have any. I’ve really grown and though I’m not ‘there’ yet (wherever ‘there’ is), I think I’m really starting to accept myself and I feel like that’s what, subconsciously at least, I’ve really struggled to do so far.
I’ve always thought of myself as weird or wrong; not quite fitting in, always looking like the odd one out in everything from my height and weight to my interests and the way I think and talk.
But I can’t hold myself to other people’s standards – to neurotypical standards if I’m not, to looking like a 5’7 size 8 model on tiktok when I’m not, to being a ‘night owl’ who doesn’t sleep till 3am when I love falling asleep at 11 and getting eight hours sleep.
I spent so long desperate to be something I wasn’t – naturally skinny, naturally musical, naturally social etc etc – when actually, if I can spend the rest of my life accepting myself and not sacrificing my boundaries for the sake of others; doing what I feel comfortable doing, then I think I’ll be doing okay.
Here’s to my last week of 24, and to not squeezing myself into spaces I don’t naturally fit.
Being someone who loves setting goals, tracking progress and analysing data (except my step count, we don’t talk about that), writing challenges like NaNoWriMo suits me down to a tee with word count tracking, you’re actual average word count per day and an estimation of when you’re likely to hit your word count.
But in looking at the two graphs that monitored my progress, I noticed something that made me think.
This is the graph of my word count per day – I was aiming for 40,000 words, but more importantly I wanted to write a little bit every day, even if I didn’t meet my goal one day and I had to write extra the next, those were my two priorities.
This graph would suggest that it was a pretty steady curve up to my goal, consistent progress, falling behind on a couple of occasions but catching up, even getting ahead a couple of times towards the end, but relatively steady progress.
Then you compare it to the graph of how many words I actually wrote per day.
I wasn’t writing consistently at all – some days I wrote 2000 words, most days I wrote about a thousand, on my worst day I barely wrote 100. Although my progress appeared linear – a predominantly straight line from Step A (0 words) to Step B (40,000 words), there were 31 steps in between with good days, bad days, busy days, quiet days, sunny days, rainy days and everything in between.
And it got me thinking about the bigger picture – perhaps a bit existential, but life is just one long (short?) journey from the Beginning to the End, a supposedly linear experience from childhood, to adulthood to old age and ‘The End’, making consistent progress in growth in every aspect from education, relationships and physically growing.
But it’s never going to be a straight line from one point to the other – life has ups and downs and good points and bad points; it always feels more like the second graph than the first one.
So I have two points to make;
If you feel like everyone around you is living a life like the first graph – a solid, straight line from Point A to Point B, it’s more than likely you can’t see the behind the scenes that looks like the second graph. Life is full of nuances and struggles and things people keep off their instagram profile, so the picture they paint online isn’t necessarily the full story!
(side note: I fully believe Instagram as a highlight reel is a okay, because having a space full of happy, positive memories is lovely, it’s just changing the user perspective to remember that Instagram is just a highlight and not someone’s complete story!)
2. If you feel like you’re stuck in the second graph, feeling more lows than highs and not sure whether you’re making any ‘progress’ at all (though, who decides what progress is and whether we’re making it??) – remember you’re seeing your life zoomed in, the bigger picture probably does look more like the straight line, but you have to go through the ups and downs to get to the bigger picture that is the end of the graph. The second graph with it’s wobbly line and all it’s peaks and troughs is the zoomed in detail you don’t see from the first graph and you’re doing a okay.
I don’t know if any of that really made any sense, but I found it comforting and a nice reminder to zoom out sometimes – everything’s okay really.
Over the last year or two, I’ve changed my approach to my blog – I’ve tried to make it less about ‘trying to be a blogger’ and more about what I want to write about, I’ve not put my social links at the bottom of posts, I don’t make templates to share them on my insta story and I don’t religiously check statistics or chase followers anymore (or I try not to!).
So I write about what I want – whether it’s more like a diary, just having a natter about what I’m thinking about or reviewing things (which I started doing more of in the last couple of weeks and I’m considering making it more of a focus?). If I’m not feeling like writing a post, I won’t worry too much about missing one, if I’m super inspired and want to post an extra one, I’ll do that too (but that hasn’t happened yet).
Consequently we’re here – I wasn’t feeling super inspired this week and I’m watching YouTube videos and somehow I thought it would be nice to list a few things that have made my happy recently. I’m working on feeling more present and finding joy in little things more frequently than waiting for the ‘big stuff’. I thoroughly recommend this if you’re feeling a bit spaced out!
a cat jumped through my kitchen window and let me pet them before they went to chill in the shade under a car
sitting in the sun loungers after a work day and having a catch up with my fiancé
sitting in front of the fan when it’s 28-32 degrees outside
reading my book before I go to sleep
going to the cinema and seeing Black Widow with my best friends
getting sucked into a Pokemon Go event with my fiancé
hitting my writing goals for maybe 80% of the month so far
speaking to my therapist for the first and last time in a while
playing video games and talking to our friends
I grew an actual tomato! In my garden! From nothing! Actual food!
laughing with my work friends because we’re so stressed that it’s funny
cooking my HelloFresh meals and feeling like an actual chef
watching George Clark’s Amazing Spaces before I go to sleep
singing through the entire Dear Evan Hanson soundtrack while I was cooking dinner
I made a Nutella sandwich for lunch and it was wonderful
a phone game called Pictawords which is like Scrabble meets crosswords
sorting my bookshelves into proper alphabetical order (by author’s surname) and adding all my ornaments to the shelves
making fun graphic and video content at work
sleeping in on the weekends
having a coke from the fridge in a glass with ice
the solar fairy lights I put up in the garden
buying books. I have a mild problem.
surprise refunds (thanks tfl)
the event I’m working on for my job is going to be really good, you can get a free ticket here, see the schedule here and read about the amazing speakers we have booked here – including the Chief Technology Officer of Ocado, the Senior Technical Programme Manager from Sainsburys and the Associate Site Reliability Engineer from Sky!
but also closing my computer after a work day. That’s very nice