“Septemblog”: Day 1 (Attempt 1)

I recently mentioned that I needed to hurry up if I was going to squeeze in the “blog every day” challenge, just in case I mess up and need to start afresh. As it’s now September, this is one of only four months I have left to try this, so here I am. Project Septemblog: aka blog every day in September. Catchy name, I know.

(Seriously. FOUR MONTHS til I turn thirty!)

I hadn’t really thought about setting any rules for the challenge, which would give me the flexibility to ‘cheat’ and post a picture or something if I run out of words, but I don’t know whether that’s just too easy. I mean, I could schedule a post a day with a picture or a motivational quote or similar right now and have nothing to worry about. I can’t help but feel that defeats the point though. So here’s some rules I’m going to try and abide by:

  • Each post must contain at least 150 words
  • Posts shouldn’t be scheduled more than 3 days in advance
  • No more than 5 list posts over the month

As well as blogging every day — because why keep things simple and easy for myself? — I think that to truly involve myself in the spirit of blogging and the blogging community again, I will also:

  • Comment on 5 blog posts per day
  • Retweet or share one other blogger’s post per day
  • Follow on bloglovin, facebook, twitter or instagram one new blogger per day

It’d be awesome if I had some moral support in this, so if you want to take part in Septemblog (you don’t have to call it that ;)) please just join in, and drop me a note in the comments or via email with your blog URL and I’ll do a little round-up of links later on. Alternatively you can show your support by sending me blog post ideas, nagging me to post via twitter or by letting me know which of my daily posts you enjoy / which you find a bit “meh”.

<3

One month since…

I jumped back into freelance
I had this rough plan in my head: I was going to ease myself into freelance, taking the first two weeks gently to try and get rid of some of the symptoms of burnout that I’d been experiencing previously, and then finish off some jobs that had been hanging around for a while and THEN go out and get new work in.

What actually happened was that I’d won a ton of new work before I’d even left my full-time job, existing clients suddenly dumped a load of ongoing stuff on me, and a long term client indefinitely reserved 8 hours of my time a week split over two 4-hour ‘days’ which I do onsite. This gives me some guaranteed income which just about covers my childcare, so that I can chuck everything else at my mortgage and bills.

Although I have had some days where I have sat staring at a blank screen for hours, my mojo is occasionally putting in an appearance and I’m getting shit done.

Gaz moved in
And everything is great. I wake up in the morning wrapped in duvet and limbs and feel utterly content. I hear the door open and close as he gets home from work and it doesn’t matter how shit my day was, it makes me smile from ear to ear. It’s the small things like coffee in bed on a Saturday morning or a quick phone call after work to see if I need anything picking up from the shops, and it’s the big things, like stepping up and helping out with the kids so that I don’t have to be in two places at once.

I was regularly working out
I touched upon this in my muddy in London post, but I’ve barely done anything physical in July: running and lifting both out of the window thanks to moving and work and holidays. I have been feeling squishy round the middle (although the number on the scale remains patiently the same, give or take 1lb or 2) and so chucked myself head first into a basic squat workout on Friday.

I still don’t have a squat rack, so it was basically overhead press into back squat, 27kg, 5 sets with the following reps: 6-8-10-8-6. I was dead on my feet by the end and was feeling pathetic and lazy, but then realised that (given my normal workouts are 5×5) I’d done 19 more reps than usual. Although I’m not lifting at my heaviest (32.5kg) this helped me feel a little more badass and reassured me that taking the month off had not too badly affected my strength.

Of course, I woke the next morning numb from the waist down and couldn’t get up and down the stairs, but that’s beside the point…

I need to clear out the utility, which is currently full of kitchen appliances shifted out there post-Gaz-move, so that I can re-convert it into my “home gym” and get my arse back on the wagon.

In completely unrelated news, one of the items on my 30 before thirty list is blogging every day for a month, a challenge I haven’t successfully completed in many years. I’d like to try and tackle that one sooner rather than later (to give me time to try again if I go wrong) so if there’s anything you want to hear from me about (updates on old posts, specific questions, etc) PLEASE speak up, I’m going to need all the help I can get :)

Barcelona, boobs and a bigass church

I ticked another item off my 30 things before thirty list last week when I flew to Barcelona with Gaz for the mystery holiday he’d booked us. He did quite well actually, I didn’t find out where we were going until check in when ‘unfortunately’ the destination flashed up on the screens above the desk (despite my best effort to keep my eyes on my feet). Considering many of my closest friends were in on the destination I was surprised I didn’t find out sooner.

Barcelona was great — very warm! — and I really enjoyed taking in another culture. It was my first proper holiday outside of the UK which made me a little nervous, but I made an attempt to throw in a bit of terrible Spanish as well as trying new food (including a weird seafood salad which contained sea things that remain a mystery to me) and drink (mostly cocktails).

We visited La Sagrada Familia (nicknamed the bigass church by yours truly), designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was nothing short of impressive to look at outside, but for me its true beauty was on the inside: columns that seemed to stretch on forever, reaching up to an explosion of sunbursts in the ceiling; enormous stained glass windows that lit up the inside of the church with a fantastic array of colour as the strong Spanish sunlight poured in; complex shapes, spiral staircases and beautiful carvings as far as the eye can see.

(Gaz took more / better photos which you should be able to see in this Facebook album.)

We also visited Casa Batlló — another work of Gaudí’s — and walked for miles along La Rambla, the beach, up to and around the grounds of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya etc. In fact most days we were clocking up 10 miles or more.

I was surprised by how slim and beautiful virtually everyone in Barcelona seemed to be. The beach in particular seemed like *the* place to hang out if you were utterly gorgeous. I managed to find a spot near some middle aged women of various shapes & sizes who were sunbathing topless, clearly giving no fucks, and plonked myself down for a bit of boobs-out sunbathing of my own. I didn’t think I’d be doing that when I wrote my 30 things list, when even the idea of wearing a bikini had me virtually shitting myself.

Fun in the sun aside, I wasn’t expecting to look forward to coming home on the last day as much as I did. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m more of a homebody than I realised (and I do miss the stability of a regular routine) or if its just because I’m so used to being at home that anything else pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I guess the only way to find out is to go on more holidays… ;)

Weekend in a Tent

Gaz and I celebrated our first anniversary by spending the bank holiday weekend in a tent.

I have to admit I was a little anxious about the whole thing. It’s May, and the weather is still changeable, so I expected a weekend of rain. Gaz only bought the tent (second hand) the weekend prior to us leaving and hadn’t checked for holes etc, so we could have put it up and discovered it was useless. Not to mention “camping in North Wales” was a bit of a come-down from Gaz’s original idea of spending the weekend driving a hired supercar around the country (scuppered by the fact that I’ve not been driving long enough).

Still: we did it, and it was good fun. The novelty of being able to erect a tent without argument isn’t lost on me yet, and I managed to not kill us with my dodgy BBQ breakfast. And, with absolutely bugger all mobile phone signal on Shell Island we even had to rely on Actual Conversation and Doing Stuff to get us through (this was probably tougher on Gaz than me ;)) We visited castles (Harlech and Caernarfon) and walked along sandy beaches and I even stripped to my bikini and ran across the beach into the FUCKING COLD sea. That’s another thing I can check off my 30 before thirty list :)

I didn’t take any pictures (I forgot to take my camera) but Gaz is a better photographer so I will just nick some of his when he’s finished editing them.

Thank you for an amazing year babe <3

A Clean Slate?

I’ve had a potentially absurd idea. I can’t remember what inspired it, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to go ahead with it.

I’ve decided that if I’m going to “fix” whatever is wrong with my mental health at the moment, that the best way to start is with a completely clean slate. By that I mean my body, in its natural state: no artificial hormones, no sugar / booze / caffeine to get me through the bad nights and shit days.

I run out of my current prescription of birth control pills on Friday, so as of Saturday up until and including March 1st, I’m starting … well, I’m loathe to use the word “detox” because it’s usually bullshit marketing hype for dodgy “green” products that do bugger all for your liver but certainly make your wallet thinner – but that’s kinda what it is. In addition to stopping my pill, I am going to attempt the Whole30 program, and I’m going to cut out the coffee as per #30 of my 30 things before I’m thirty challenge. I’m going to try and ‘reset’ my body so that it can do its thing, whatever that might be.

I know I can give up alcohol for a month. I know I can give up dairy for even longer. I am fairly sure I can even give up coffee. However, given that I’ve failed two previous attempts to cut out sugar (and that’s while being ‘allowed’ to eat bread, pasta, etc) I am pretty much crapping myself.

But I can do this. I CAN DO THIS.

Right?

The not-a-year-review new year post

At this time of year I traditionally write a post about the year prior and come up with some arbitrary goals for the year ahead. I can’t be arsed this year because a) you’re all fed up of me moaning about last year as it is and b) I have enough shit to be worrying about coming up this year than whether or not I have crossed stuff off a list. And I still have my 30 before thirty list to do anyway.

So, the no-list / no-resolution “goals” for 2015? Lift heavy. Run again. Do stuff. See friends. Laugh lots.

That’ll do, I think.

Enter title here

Feel like I should blog to record some of the stuff that’s been going on lately but I’m struggling to formulate intelligent sentences. Fall back to list format!

  • I came home on October 22nd to find Flymo dead and Rosie missing. I can only guess but I assume something managed to get into the garden. There was no visible marks on Flymo or signs of a scuffle but if he was shocked sufficiently it could have killed him.
  • On November 4th I got home to find that Little Pig had escaped his run and is also missing.
  • My foot is only just this week starting to feel any better, so I’ve now got a month to train for this half marathon I entered
  • I finally got my passport renewed, so I might be able to complete #5. See my Dad soon too
  • I took the train to Birmingham on Wednesday 5th to meet Dominic
  • On Thursday 6th November I went to London to audition for Eggheads with Gaz and his brothers; we should find out this week if we get in
  • I’ve made the decision to stop taking on further self-employment work as of next year. Despite the extra cash being a major help with the bills, the stress it’s causing me is insane.
  • I went back to the doctors on Monday to talk about the fact that I’m still angry a lot; that it comes and goes but is still there. That when I’m not angry I’m sad, really really sad. He tried to offer me anti-depressants and CBT but I want to exhaust every other possibility first. I’m trialling a new birth control pill, I’m spending more time with my babies where possible, I’m cutting back on the things that make my mental health suffer.
  • Gaz and I have been not-dating for 6 months as of this week ♥

Despite everything — the work, the stress, the foot injury, the mortgage, the monotony of the daily grind — I am still the happiest I have ever been and I need to hold on to that. Shit will improve, things will get better. One day at a time.

Probably stressed

Bit of a blogging hiatus here recently, although not intentionally. I’ve been struggling with my mood a lot recently, which I had mostly attributed to PMS but had also considered the possibility of a reaction to the reintroduction of alcohol after going dry for July. It all came to a head on Saturday night when I broke down sobbing on Gaz for the second time in a week and I realised something was amiss.

Having got to the point where I am struggling to motivate myself to drag my lazy arse out of bed in the morning, I saw my counsellor again yesterday. Turns out that my negative mood is probably neither PMS nor alcohol, but a little more complicated than that. As usual, talking things through and having them repeated back at me for an amazing amount of money that I can’t really afford gave me my moment of clarity and I know for definite what I need to do now. More on that at a later date, though.

In other (more cheerful) news, I have ticked off another item from my 30 things before I’m thirty list, having completed my first parkrun on Saturday 9th August with a time of exactly 29 minutes. I am really, really pleased that I managed a sub-30 minute 5k, although credit goes to Rachael who basically abused me around the course to keep me going ;) Now just to compete in a race to cross the other running goal off my list…

30 things before I’m thirty: so far

As I said yesterday, because of the big time difference between me starting my “30 things before I’m thirty” list and actually publishing it, I’ve already completed two of the things on my list… albeit with some confusion and/or not quite in the way I’d originally anticipated!

First to be completed: Go on a proper date

Last month I went on a not-a-date date. With a guy. Not with Karl (as I’d originally anticipated) :O It was apparently too early for me to be dating post-split, so we made it a not-a-date that was actually a lot like an actual date. And has since been followed with other dates that definitely were dates. (Currently now wondering if I can cram the word ‘date’ in one more time for good measure…) ‘He‘ is a local web developer, and has a cat. Clearly perfectly matched based on that alone :p

I was going to use meeting Gaz as an excuse to strike a 2nd item off the list: Make a new friend (offline) except there’s a slight problem… I couldn’t remember the original intent of this list item. Was I saying I needed to make a new friend who I could be friends with offline, or was I saying I needed to make a new friend offline without a screen to help hide the first interaction nerves, etc? As I met Gaz online initially, he strictly speaking wouldn’t qualify under the terms of the latter. Gaz has since pointed out that through him I’ve met his friend/colleague, although I’m not sure spending half a day with someone counts as friends.

However, having involved myself in the local running group I have made a few new friends through that based on entirely offline interaction so I’m checking that off as a success.

I am starting on another one of my ‘things’ this afternoon — Visit each of my UK based online friends — with a trip down south to visit Ben. Which brings me nicely to a request… if you’re based in the UK, and have ‘known’ me (by which I mean interacted on a semi regular basis) for more than a year, and would like to pop your name down on the list of friends I need to visit to meet this milestone, let me know in the comments / on twitter / whatever. I’ll only be taking requests til the end of the month so get a move on :)

30 things before I’m thirty

I started writing this “30 things before I’m thirty” list in a draft in January, but what with one thing and another never got round to finishing it. Here’s my original list…

  1. Learn to swim
  2. Actually complete a parkrun (that should probably be “actually take part in a parkrun”)
  3. Volunteer … somewhere, anywhere, just volunteer!
  4. Make a new friend (offline)
  5. Visit my Dad
  6. Finish one of my projects so that I have a regular source of passive income
  7. Earn £5000 in passive income
  8. Try a new food (I’ve never had proper sushi, never had venison, never had lots of things!)
  9. Send a letter in a bottle
  10. Post a blog entry every day for a month
  11. Work with another developer to improve my colab skills
  12. Actually read the JavaScript book I bought
  13. Complete 5 random acts of kindness
  14. Go on a proper date (Karl and I have never dated)

And here’s the other 16 random things I’ve thought of off the top of my head:

  1. Go somewhere, anywhere on a spur of the moment weekend away
  2. Go to the cinema on my own
  3. Visit each of my UK based online friends
  4. Finish my rainbow ripple blanket
  5. Fly somewhere in a plane
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Drive across the country and back without a map / sat nav
  8. Get dressed up in a ball gown (I’ll settle for just trying one on in a shop)
  9. Go to a festival
  10. Climb a mountain
  11. Participate in a race (I’m thinking of doing a 10k)
  12. Read the 100 Best Novels
  13. Give blood
  14. Wear a bikini on the beach
  15. Get a pay rise
  16. Replace coffee with water for a month

I turn 30 on January 7th, 2016 so I think I’ve got PLENTY of time to achieve all these. In fact, as it happens, in the time between starting this list and actually getting it published, I’ve done a couple of things already and I’m working on a couple of others. More on that in another post, though ;)

(ETA: The full list and most recent updates can be found on my 30 things before I’m thirty page.)