A Dip

I normally get really down when it’s my birthday but weirdly, this year it never happened. Once my birthday was done however I found my mood dropping drastically by the day. It’s probably a coincidence, because I no longer get those ‘oh my god I’m failing at life! I should have a husband, children, my own house and a fulfilling job by now!’ moments. In fact these days I’m positively relieved I don’t have some of those.

I thought perhaps I’d had some kind of breakthrough where I wouldn’t ever feel as bad again as I do right now. Perhaps that was naive of me. Ok, definitely naive of me, because once more I feel more than a little lost and I suppose betrayed by my own body and mind. We weren’t supposed to be doing this any more!

I haven’t helped myself this weekend. I’ve eaten aaaaaaall the pizza in an attempt to numb the pain, and had a couple of bottles of wine, too. Which has definitely just made me feel even worse in the long run, and helped me put back on all the weight I lost over the last couple of weeks. I skipped group this week too, and might do the same next week. It’s the Mr Sleek and Miss Slinky awards (the most cringe-worthy of them all) and I’m really not feeling up to a taster night.

So what I’ve done is add to the bad feelings I already had, which now I’m feeling guilty about. Guilt, guilt and more guilt, about so many things! In a matter of days I’ve gone from feeling pretty much ok and quite positive to completely overwhelmed with everything and like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve hardly touched the art supplies I got for my birthday that I was so excited to get, (more guilt) because I’ve barely had the energy to even sit and watch a movie. Quite frankly, this is all bullshit and I’m sick of this awful cycle.

On the plus side I had a telephone appointment today to find out what help I can get for all of this. I’ve been referred for counselling, with the only downside being I will have to wait somewhere between 6 to 18 weeks for my first appointment. I suppose I’ll just have to keep doing the best I can in the meantime.

I did manage to drag myself out on Sunday even though it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. Newton has now been fully immunised and is allowed out for walkies, so me and little brother visited the sister so we could all take him to the park.

He was loving it! It took us a while to get there because he wanted to stop and sniff everything, but eventually we got to an open area where he could have a good run. He’s still so tiny but he’s bloody fast!

Later on it turned chilly and he was getting tired so he was carried some of the way home, the lazy little git. Who can resist a face like that though?

I found more mushrooms too. Ok, so admittedly the weekend wasn’t a complete write off.

Tomorrow I’ll get back on plan and get out for a walk, because I know it will help. It’s just the getting up and starting it that’s the problem. All I want to do is sleep. Anyway, that’s enough moaning for one day.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Patternless Sleep

Oh bloody hell, my sleep is totally broken. I’m doing well in one respect – I’m not generally having caffeine at work, but then for some reason I’m finding it even harder to sleep after my shift. On the first day of my weekend, if I sleep in too long I can’t sleep at night, or (as was the case this Sunday) I physically cannot keep myself awake watching Princess Mononoke at 7pm! It’s ridiculous.

I did have a bad anxiety day on Saturday where I completely overreacted about something and barely slept at all, so I had break my no caffeine rule and had two 500ml energy drinks to get me through my shift.

Despite being awake, I couldn’t concentrate or settle on anything, so I’m a bit behind on all the things I want to do. It was my birthday yesterday, and I got some art supplies I’d asked for (metallic watercolours and black paper, I’m looking at you) and I really wanted to try them out, but I simply ran out of time. Now I’m just way too tired, ‘cept I can’t sleep. Damn it.

This is probably because I’ve been hammering the coffee today, and in actual fact I’m going to knock it on the head completely because it’s not doing me any good, in any respect. Sure, it’ll keep me awake at certain times (usually the wrong times) but it doesn’t help me function any better. If anything it’s mainly become a procrastination aid – I’ll do the thing after just one more cup of coffee, honestly. I’ll just finish off my last jar of caramel popcorn Beanies, which is less than half full, then I’ll go cold turkey and see how that goes.

Because of the sleep problem, I haven’t had time to go running again, but my brother did come on a birthday walk with me. The park I chose I haven’t been to since I was a kid, and I certainly was never allowed to go there alone because it was full of perverts, murderers and drug addicts. Apparently. I chose it because a friend from work told me the rats there are ridiculously bold, and I wanted to see for myself.

He wasn’t lying. Those guys really don’t give a damn.

After that we had a walk around and we found loads of mushrooms, with this one being my shot of the day:

My brother did a bit of research and was going to take one home to eat before he realised the mushroom he had chosen fit the description of at least three different varieties, probably more, and not all of them were edible. Definitely not worth the risk.

He was somewhat put off after reading about a certain fungus that will give you terrible sickness and diarrhoea, after which you will seem to make a full recovery, then you will die. Thanks but no thanks.

Because I slept so badly the night before, and because I got up early to see my sister when she dropped Newton off in the morning, I desperately needed a birthday nap before heading off to Slimming World.

To be honest I was so reluctant to get up when my alarm went off that I really thought about giving group a miss. However I decided against it because as I’ve been doing so well, I didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardise my losses. Hence going to get weighed in on my actual birthday! Group was… embarrassing! They sang happy birthday to me, and I was slightly mortified, but losing 3 pounds AND getting Slimmer of the Week more than made up for it. That’s two whole weeks on plan! If (scratch that, when) this month is up and I’ve been perfectly on plan, it’ll be the best I’ve done this whole year.

Today, apart from making sure I get enough sleep before work, I’m going to catch up on #birdtober and play with my pressies before getting out for exercise Wednesday. Then I will work on building a routine again.

It’s all happening now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Only Up

Thursday was supposed to be my getting out day. It didn’t work out at all. The reason will not surprise you at all.

I mean seriously, would you have done anything different? I didn’t make it past the living room floor! I did have to make a deal with myself – if Thursday wasn’t to be the day then I absolutely had to go today. No excuses. Of course the weather on Thursday was quite nice, and today was drizzly. That’s ok by me though. The park was virtually empty and everything was nice and clean and shiny. There was a lot of everything to see as it happens.

Mushroom season is in full swing! One thing I’m rather desperate to see is a red toadstool, but that’s going to take some active searching while I’m not focusing on my fitness. That’s probably not going to happen this season, because getting back into my fitness is the most important thing. It felt so good to be out!

The last time I walked in the park it took me about an hour because I kept stopping to take pictures, but I did the same route today (and clearly took plenty of pictures) and it took about 50 minutes. That’s because whenever I could, I RAN! I only ran on the level or uphill parts, and if my knee started to hurt I stopped, but it was so good! I got all rosy cheeked but the rain cooled me down again nicely. When there are less mushrooms to see I hope to get the time down to under 40 minutes, purely from a time-saving point of view. The quicker I get my route done, the more time I have left in the day for other things. Like drawing and painting!

I’m now up-to-date with #birdtober again, and I’m especially happy with the wren. It came out exactly as I wanted it to.

I’m enjoying it so much I’m going to paint as many birds as I can once the month is up.

That’s it for my news I think. Thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Counter-cursed

The curse of the Sunday night takeaway has been broken! It wasn’t easy, because Sunday night was also family film night. We’re working our way through the Studio Ghibli classics, and Spirited Away night also coincided with mum and brother’s monthly takeaway. I just tried not to think about it too much, and I got through it without too much bother. Even the smell of the pizza dough seemed less intoxicating than usual.

So with this victory in mind how did I get on at group on Monday? Well, I lost a rather wonderful 6.5 pounds! That’s it, that’s exactly what I needed. Now the ball is rolling again I know I can keep going.

My consultant is lovely, but I didn’t enjoy group all that much this week. I think it was a combination of just being really sleepy and wishing I was in bed, combined with the pungent smell of a fish curry. Yuk! We had a curry night in group, and even if I did trust any of the food (I overheard fish curry lady telling someone her dish was vegetarian) I wouldn’t have fancied it anyway. What I am looking forward to is mocktail night which is coming up next month. That could be interesting, especially as I’m off the sauce. No drinkies for me till Christmas Day!

I had planned to do more walking last week but I was so tired that it never came to fruition. I figured if I let myself get too tired, I’m more likely to go off plan, plus it’s good to let yourself have a decent catch up. I must get out this week though because it’s mushroom season and I want to find some good ones.

The trouble is, my sleep pattern is a little bit messed up. It’s mostly because of Newton! When I got in from work this morning, I should have gone straight to sleep. Instead I spent way too long playing with an energetic puppy. Not sensible! I should be sleeping now really, but I just couldn’t get off.

As ever I think it’s just a case if rebalancing again. I’m doing a more physical job at work tonight and I’m determined to get out for a walk tomorrow, so that should help me reset my pattern.

Yesterday a lot of time was taken up at the hair salon. About three hours actually, but it’s always good to catch up with the awesome dude who has been styling my hair on and off for the last seventeen years. Or thereabouts.

In recent times as you know I’ve struggled to locate my mojo, and I haven’t felt much like myself. However as myself has come back stronger than ever I felt it was time that the outside should match the inside.

I thought about getting my haircut once I’d lost a bit more weight. Then I thought… eff that!

This was me yesterday morning:

This was me yesterday afternoon:

Richard has mulleted me many times over the years. It’s something that really shouldn’t work, but I absolutely love it. Just like the mullet, I’m back!

In fact I’d say I’m more ‘me’ than ever right now. After my latest foray into the world of relationships, I really wondered why I allow myself to be treated badly. The usual suspects didn’t ring true – I don’t crave love or relationships (at least I don’t think I do, perhaps I should question that assumption), I’m really happy when I’m on my own, and I never go actively looking for partners. So I figure it’s not a case of just feeling like I’m not complete without a boyfriend.

But when I fall for someone, I ignore all the red flags and will fold myself in half trying to keep the person who is tearing me apart. I have a telephone assessment for counselling coming up later this month, but from what I can the gather the thing I’m mostly likely to be offered is CBT in order to cope with feelings of depression and anxiety in the future.

But I don’t want to cope. I WANT TO HEAL!

I’ve been asking myself if that’s even possible. Do people ‘get better’ or do they just learn to live with it? Is there something wrong with me? Can I be ‘fixed’? If I want more than CBT, what do I even ask for? Is a more in-depth treatment accessible to me? Do I deserve it? Am I depressed ‘enough’?

The answer popped up most unexpectedly, in the most unlikely of places – Instagram! I stumbled across a whole plethora of help and information after reading about dating advice from someone I follow for a completely different reason and it’s been a total game changer.

I thought I was weird, that others don’t have the same problems as me, but when it comes to love it seems I’m pretty much textbook. Everything I read is almost word-for-word my own experience, and what’s more, I’m learning what do to about it! I’ve never felt so sure that I can stop repeating past mistakes and that something/someone really good is out there waiting for me. I could actually share my life with someone in a really fun, healthy and special way, without destroying myself in the process. WHO KNEW?

Well, a lot of you knew. You tried to tell me, but I didn’t really understand, or if I did and happened to believe it, it didn’t think it could be true for me. I’m sure I’ll go into this more in future posts where I’ll share really valuable resources (I need to make a list and get all of the information in order) but for now let’s just say my mind is well and truly blown. If you are struggling with absolutely anything in life, although social media obviously isn’t a replacement for actual therapy, you can guarantee there’s an Insta-therapist who can point you in the right direction. In my case it simply helped me learn what to ask for. That’s a pretty good starting point.

In the meantime I’ve added a couple of paintings to my Birdtober collection, but I am now a couple of days behind. I intend to catch up tomorrow though and I’m ridiculously excited about fairy wrens. Watch this space.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

September

I’m running out of post titles, at least for the time being. How many different ways can I hint at Fresh Starts, New Beginnings and This is the Last Times? If I had a better imagination it might be easier, but as it happens I don’t think I’m going to need to get particularly creative after all.

Its 2:30am and I’m too wired to sleep, too tired to do anything. I’m therefore doing what any committed caffeine addict would do – drinking a coffee and thinking ’bout stuff.

I currently have a tummy that is still way too full of pizza dough to be comfy, but I think perhaps I have eaten enough of the stuff lately to actually get to the point where I’m completely sick of it.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally eaten my fill.

The timing is good, because I promised my Slimming World consultant that I’d weigh in later today, come what may. We have a plan you see. She thinks that perhaps I’m putting too much pressure on myself, so she suggested a higher Syn allowance for a while, and perhaps not committing to a full seven days on plan at once. I love that she’s thinking outside the box for ways to help me, and I love that she’s given me another option to think about for the time being. I don’t feel quite so at a loss as to what to do.

Having that backup plan in place kind of set me free to focus on doing things properly without being too concerned about it not working. I’m giving it one last big push, because I know I can do this. I know that when my head is in the right place, I can absolutely get the pounds falling off me. I’m sure I just need one good week, one good result, to get be back in the zone. When it gets close to Monday, though, I have so much riding on that result. I think that’s why I self-sabotage. If I know I’ve already screwed up, then I don’t have to worry about stepping on the scales and seeing that I’ve failed at that moment. It’s a foregone conclusion, I already know I’ve failed and I’ve prepared for it.

I get told I’m brave for weighing in anyway. I don’t feel very brave.

This week, I AM going to be brave. I’m going to do a full seven days on plan. I’m going to go on some walks. I’m going to stay within 15 syns. I’m going to step on those scales and take whatever result I see.

Maybe it’ll suck, and I’ll break down and cry in front of a room full of people. Well so what? Maybe that’s what I need. Maybe I’ll have a great result and I’ll cry anyway. I just know I have to do it, because this is getting beyond silly now. If it goes tits up, I have alternative options that my consultant has provided, but I have a sneaky suspicion I won’t need them.

2013 Hayley was in this exact same position. 2013 Hayley deleted her blog around this time, denied to herself that this was happening, and regained everything, the whole seven stone, by Christmas 2014.

I’m not letting history repeat itself. I will fight tooth and nail before I let that happen. Maybe that’s what’s been missing – my fighting spirit! It’s back. Just you wait and see what I’m capable of.

September has been a hungry month, a month of gains, but it’s also been a good month. I’ve been struggling a bit to keep my spending under control, so I made a really good plan to sort it out. I’ve looked at exceptionally simple ways I can save money which also happen to benefit my health.

A few examples – not having a takeaway each week will save me at least £80 a month. Not taking an energy drink to work will save me £30 a month. When I reach target and no longer have to pay for Slimming World, that’s another £20 a month. Feeling good about myself and not buying myself ‘treats’ to cheer myself up, well, I can’t even count that high. Basically I’m going to be minted.

Not being wasteful is also going to perk me up. Not that I feel especially sad right now, I actually feel rather good. Apart from that damn monkey on my back that is my relationship with food!

So, September highlights then! I’ve been especially creative this month.

I made a present for my brother:

I did lots of painting:

I scritched a bird:

I played in the sea:

I photographed a mutha flipping wedding:

Love, love, LOVE the photo of the bride’s sons gatecrashing the first dance!

And then there’s the stuff I haven’t told you about yet. Most importantly, I truly moved on after being really quite badly hurt by someone. Although I knew a sincere apology or an explanation was never going to be forthcoming, I finally stopped needing those things. That was BIG I tell you. I honestly thought I’d be carrying that burden around for the rest of my life.

At the wedding, I kissed a boy! Unfortunately there wasn’t that spark, but it was another big thing for me that I recognised that straight away and didn’t jump in and do something I didn’t really want to, just for the sake of it. I was told by one friend that I should have slept with him, basically because it’s been ‘too long’ since I last slept with anyone. What even is too long though? I wasn’t aware there was a time limit! Plus I don’t need to be sexually active to be whole.

Finally, and this is my absolute favourite bit, I got to meet Newton. Newton is the newest member of the family, and I suppose I’d describe myself as a dog aunt now (he lives with my sister and her boyfriend who are going to be just the bestest dog parents).

IS HE NOT THE MOST GORGEOUS BOY EVER?

He’s not just cute though, he also has the most adorable personality. He’s so funny, especially when it comes to his sleeping positions. Boy, you just cannot be comfortable like that!

He visits us during the day while my sister is at work, and he’s a joy to have around. I love my little nap buddy to bits already, and I haven’t laughed so much in a long, long time. Him stealing a pair of my brother’s underpants was particularly funny. It totally makes up for him peeing everywhere except where he should.

You could use the photo below as a reference for a) how happy I was to meet him and b) how teeny he really is!

So, it’s now much, much later and I’ve just been weighed in. I’ve put on half a pound (nothing short of a miracle) meaning my current weight is 15 stone 11 pounds.

It is what it is. I’m going to put it behind me and welcome in October. By the time I’m getting ready to be annoyed by the trick-or-treaters, I’m going to have made a huge amount of progress. Hopefully I’ll be back in the 14’s, which is a worthy and achievable goal.

It’s going to be a good month. I can feel it.

Hayley x

Disappointment & Desperation

Is there anyone on earth as practiced in the art of self-sabotage as I am? I suspect not. After a week of being perfectly on plan AND enjoying it, on Sunday night I found myself alone at my sister’s house.

I had been looking after her parrot, Petrie, but decided to take her home early (instead of Monday morning) so I could have a soak in my sister’s tub.

Four hours and three Lush bath bombs later (they needed to be used and I don’t have regular access to a bath) I was feeling relaxed. But then a thought popped into my head. If I ordered a Papa John’s, no one would know. So I did. Of course I felt shit about it, so my sabotage in the form of overeating carried on until this afternoon.

WHY AM IN DOING THIS?

I’m so disappointed in myself, but it’s worse than that. Im getting really unhappy with my size now and starting to feel more than a hint of desperation. I know Slimming World works, but I’ve lost my faith in it and myself. I just can’t seem to get into it like I used to, and I don’t have any alternative! I don’t know what to do!

Someone please send a kick up the arse. This weekend I’m going up the country a wee bit to visit at least one friend, hopefully two, and I’m hoping this weekend of goodness (and friends who share my goals) will perk me up.

Not that this weekend wasn’t interesting. At my house, when I let Petrie out she headed straight for my glasses and proceeded to attempt to destroy them. When I had the audacity to stop her she bit me on the nose and made me bleed.

She does seem to have something of a fascination with my specs.

When I took her home, I figure she just felt a bit safer in her usual environment. When she started chewing again, I was able to take my glasses off without being attacked.

Well it kind of worked…

She’s such a capricious little bird. One minute I’m trying to message my sister while she’s inserting her head underneath my thumb because she wants attention, the next she’s biting my toes.

This snuggle sesh somehow ended up with a bite to the ear. I don’t get it! I still love her though.

Well then, unfortunately blogging hasn’t helped me getting anything particularly figured out as it sometimes does. I just have to keep trying until my mojo comes back, hopefully for a full seven days in a row.

Here’s hoping.

Hayley x

Not my best start ever

Let’s get right into it. How did I get on at Slimming World? Well, for the first week of my restart it must have been a good one, yes?

Er, no.

4 lbs on this week and I just keep getting bigger and bigger. My current weight is 15st 10.5lbs and I’m really not happy with that. I’m moving further and further away from my goals as the days go by! What the hell is going on?

To be honest I was doing great until Sunday. I’d been 100% on plan and I was feeling pretty good in myself, but not convinced the weight was coming off. So I had a sneak peak on the scales. Ah, 3lbs on? I couldn’t believe it.

So I did what any sensible stoooopid person would do and ordered a takeaway. As such, today’s result was, unexpectedly, a nice big gain. Damn.

Something that is good is that I went to group anyway, even though I strongly considered throwing a sickie. I am glad I didn’t, but still, I’m fairly annoyed in general as you can imagine!

Good lord, I seriously need to get my act together! I try again then. What else can I do? My action plan for this week is to cut back on added salt, hold up on the white pasta, which bloats me, and no home weighing!

In the meantime I’ve had a busy weekend. I spent several hours today editing wedding photos, and they’ve gone down well. Despite spending all of my free time today on it, I’ve only got so far as the wedding morning. I’m hoping to finish up by the end of the week though, but we shall see.

This is one of my faves – the bride getting laced up into her dress. Look how happy she is!

Yesterday I was out walking with my little bro in Kent. First stop was a nature reserve in Wye, which is very small but also very steep.

Millions of years ago all of that was under water. How bonkers is that? We were there maybe an hour, just long enough to walk the nature route and realise how unfit we’ve both become. Time to get back into training I think! I also got some lovely shots.

Up until the wedding I found it very hard to enjoy photography because I was just so worried about letting my friend down, but now it’s over and done with I can relax and just enjoy taking photos again.

Since the walk didn’t take up much time, I had a back-up plan. We headed to Dungeness, also in Kent, because a friend of mine told me there’s an old boat that’s popular in with photographers. He was right, I even recognised it, but I’ve never seen anyone take the same shot as me.

There’s a kite-flying club just down the road, too, which made for some cool shots.

If that was the last summery day of the year (and I suspect it was) I’m glad I had my camera with me!

So I shall just crack on now, because what else can I do? Fitting back into my lovely clothes is so important to me, I really need to make some progress.

So here we go again, let’s hope this week is better than the last one!

Hayley x

I vs It

I’M IN LOVE!

Before you start wondering what the hell I’ve got myself into this time, then fear not. My new love cannot break my heart, because the object of my affection is just that, an object. It is a set of watercolour paints.

I must say Instagram seem to be making rather a success of their targeted ads, because they appear to know exactly what I like. When I saw these watercolours, I followed the company and saved a post in my ‘wish list’ collection. I’d come back to that after pay day.

But once posts from people using the products started filling my newsfeed, I just couldn’t wait. So what’s so special about these paints? The coolest thing, the reason I bought them, is that they are kind of printed in a little cardboard booklet! Talk about portable, they fit so nicely into my pencil case. The colours are also so vibrant and blend so well, and you only need a single brush pen with you to use them. It’s just genius.

But when they came, they turned out to be even more fabulous. Check out these colours! But the descriptions don’t quite fit, right?

Right. These paints clearly come directly from Diagon Alley, because they’re nothing short of magic. And you only need the teeniest bit on your brush for a whole load of colour.

I neither know nor care how they do it! They are expensive, but they’ve already been so much fun to use and it’s nigh on impossible to paint a bad picture with them. I’ve used them every single day since I got them.

Check out Viviva Color Sheets if you want to know more.

In between painting, sketching, and stressing about weddings, I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking. I reckon my inner toddler has been showing up in full force, because truth be told, I think I’ve just been rebelling against all things diet.

I didn’t want to eat my veggies. I didn’t want to be healthy. I wanted ice cream for breakfast, and on more than one occasion, I did just that.

It started off with hormones, medication, life-changing decisions… all of that making me reach for unhealthy foods in an effort to comfort myself or try to relieve the intense cravings I was experiencing. But I’ve done the work on this before so it didn’t take much for me to go back and revisit what I learned previously.

My findings come from the book Brain over Binge by Kathryn Hensen, but knowing me I’ve quite possibly got everything arse about tit. If it sounds like something you’d find useful, I’d recommend cutting out the middle woman and just reading the book.

Anyway, the book theorises (I think the brain is too complicated for solid conclusions and in any case, the author isn’t a scientist) that the more primitive part of the brain (It) is just trying to keep us alive in times of food deprivation. If my brain thinks I’m starving, it’s going to send out strong signals for me to find food.

As I lose weight, part of my brain thinks there’s a problem and tries its hardest to protect me. This part of the brain is a bit behind with the times and doesn’t know there’s a 24hr BP garage down the road. I tried to tell it but it just will not listen to reason.

As I start to agree with its compelling arguments to find sugar and fat, I build myself a nice little habit of binge eating, and thus find it incredibly difficult to break out of once I’m feeling better.

The thing is though, it’s the more recently developed part of the brain (I) that is in charge. I can choose to listen to the other part of my brain’s compelling arguments (you had a hard night at work, you deserve to binge. You are worried about the wedding, a binge will make you feel better) and ignore it. The more I do this, the better I become at doing it, and eventually urges to binge subside.

I know it works, I’ve done it before! I just needed to re-read the book to remind myself of all this and get myself back in control. The book talks about ‘intrusive’ thoughts to binge, as if it’s not really coming from me. That’s exactly how it feels.

I don’t want this. I want to be healthy and in control.

I can be, because I am ultimately in charge.

Now I’m back in this good mental space, I felt it was the right time to return to Slimming World. I have put on just under three stone since last November, but weirdly I’m not too worried. I know I’ve got this now.

I’m doing a complete fresh start. My start weight is 15st 6.5lbs, with a target of 13st. There won’t be much to write about in terms of my diet, because I have no doubt I’m going to smash it. There won’t be many struggles to get out onto the page. I will however update you every Monday. Let’s do this!

Since I’m getting back into healthy habits, I started yesterday with a big long walk, in the rain no less. My waterproofs just about still fit me, as long as I don’t attempt to bend over.

It’s a really nice feeling knowing I don’t have anything scary coming up and I can spend my time enjoying art and nature exactly as I see fit.

Today I finally timed the route in the park near me without stopping for photos. I only took one shot, still moving, as I was joined by this wonderful entourage. Sadly I wasn’t allowed to take them home, boooooo.

Well, I’m back at work tonight after a quite wonderful week off, but to be honest it’ll be nice to get back into something of a routine!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The One and Only Wedding

Finally I can stop worrying, because the wedding is done! The relief is almost palpable. Friday night I had something between four and five hours sleep, that’s how stressed I was. I just couldn’t get off.

I learned a lot this weekend. I learned that anything related to a wedding will take at least four times as long as it would ordinarily. I learned that you need someone to boss the wedding party around otherwise nothing will ever get done. I realised that wedding guests are like particularly unruly cats who just refuse to go where you want them to. In short, I learned I am never doing this again!

I’m not complaining though, because despite all of the negatives I actually had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the experience. The first plus point was meeting Kerry, my friend’s parents’ goddaughter. The usher dropped out last minute at which point Kerry stepped in, and she was BRILLIANT.

I’ve rarely met someone I’ve liked so quickly and so fully – she’s an absolute diamond and I truly believe the bride would still be getting into her dress now if we hadn’t had her to keep everyone in check. She’s a pure soul, completely and utterly herself at all times and so full of life. She helped me fulfil my photographic duties no end, and even had some great suggestions for shots which came out beautifully. I will be forever grateful that she was there. She’s also a wonderful hair stylist, with her own salon no less, so if you’re ever in Devon and need your hair (or beard) tended to, you can find her at Shortcutz.

Here she is taking a break in her ushering duties getting the groom’s beard under control.

At this point I even managed to sneak in a selfie of me in the wonderful dress!

The scariest part for me was the bride coming down the aisle. It was a particularly short aisle, and I just didn’t have the time to screw up. But I got the shot, then I could relax a bit. That was probably the part I was most worried about. Anything else could be redone. After that I could breathe again.

Then came the group shots, and a really weird thing happened. I kind of ended up in charge, taking over from Kerry, but the especially strange thing is that I was pretty good at it! I really surprised myself. What’s more, I enjoyed it.

I well and truly found my very loud ‘do as I say’ voice which certainly carried itself all the way to the stragglers at the bar, but when people were being particularly stubborn I found that I was bossing them around in a nice way, with a smile on my face. I actually spent a large portion of this stage of the proceedings laughing my head off. I never knew I had being confident in front of 60 people all looking to me for direction in me!

Next up I got into a stunningly beautiful VW camper van with the newlyweds where we drove to a nice spot to get the couple shots.

In a way I’m disappointed with what I got, because if I’d had a couple of hours to play around I could have done so much more. But I didn’t have a couple of hours, I had about 20 minutes. The couple have seen an initial couple of edits and thankfully they’re over the moon. I don’t have to move away and change my name after all!

The chap who drove the van, Lawrence from Retro Rides 4 Brides, was just an absolute star. I told him I’d never photographed a wedding before and he chipped in straight away with the best shots he’d seen other photographers do during the course of his work. He was so friendly and helpful, I honestly could have cried with how sweet everyone involved was. I’m feeling the love!

The DJ in the evening was the same. He arranged his lights the way most photographers asked it to be done to make sure they didn’t ruin the shots for the first dance, he took the time to learn my name and made sure I was available before he announced the dance or the cake cutting.

Once those bits were done I really started to enjoy myself. Official duties were over, so I dumped my flash in my room, grabbed my fastest lens (the lens that lets in the most light, so it’s good for low light conditions) and did what I do best – just capturing little moments throughout the night where the subjects are none the wiser. Because I don’t have to think so much about this kind of photography, I unashamedly got on the G&T’s. Which explains the dreadful hangover I had the next day.

Now the editing really begins, and I have a lot of work to do. Professional photographers often allow months for this turnaround, so I’m happy to take my time and do it over the next couple of weeks. I don’t want to rush it.

Plus I have other things to be getting on with, which I’ll talk about in the next post. The wedding day felt very much like both an ending for me and a new beginning, which I wasn’t expecting.

Right, time for me to get on now!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Student Digs

Whenever I’ve stayed away from home lately I’ve been spoiled. Over the last year or so I’ve grabbed some serious bargains when it comes to accommodation (the cheapest being FREE) and I’ve been super lucky that everywhere I stayed was rather lovely. I suppose my luck had to run out eventually.

Tonight I am staying in Canterbury ready for my friend’s wedding tomorrow, which I’m photographing. I only wanted a place nearby where I could sleep, because I don’t want to be braving the motorway on the morning of the wedding. Especially as the M20 is closed in both directions near my friend’s house. That would not be wise.

Since I’m only sleeping here, it’s not too much of a problem that it’s not exactly the nicest place I’ve stayed in. It smells like dog, and it’s generally all a bit forlorn, but it’ll do. I can just about see Canterbury cathedral from my room.

Since it’s a university town this kind of accommodation is to be expected, and it was dirt cheap, so I’m sure not complaining. I spent the money I saved in a Mountain Warehouse round the corner as they are in the midst of a massive sale. I bought a couple of quick-drying bits which I love, love, love. I wear moisture-wicking clothing whenever I can these days, it’s the best!

Anyway with this wedding imminent I can’t decide if I’m being calm today because I think I know what I’m doing, or if I’m in complete denial and will freak out tomorrow. It’s anyone’s guess.

I ate at Wagamama and spent the time between courses arriving finalising my shot list as well as making sure I have everything covered and appropriately planned. I am feeling positive but I’ll also be mightily glad when it’s all over. My friend hasn’t had the best track run when it comes to weddings, so this better be the last one he has because I sure ain’t photographing another one!

In the meantime, for all of my talk about avoiding diet culture I finally hit my limit. I have been unable to locate my off switch so I’m going back to Slimming World for help!

Basically I have put on a rather large and unacceptable amount of weight (the dress I bought only a couple of weeks ago for this very wedding is already rather tight) and I’m feeling downright uncomfortable now. My own reflection is looking odd to me. I look like I’ve been stung by several bees.

I don’t regret my actions of the last few months. I made big changes in my life and I needed to get to a good place before I could really think clearly about my diet.

What I do wish is that I could have figured out exactly what was going on at the time. The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing is it not?

I think what I wanted deep down was a break from it all, and that’s what I got. But boy did I beat around the bush first!

After years of dedicating most of my thoughts to making progress with my weight, I’d just had enough. Plus my brain was too busy focusing on other things.

Now I really, really feel ready to continue, and it’s actually quite an inconvenience to have this wedding in the meantime. To be honest I’d like to start eating properly RIGHT NOW, but instead I have another day before my food is back in my own control.

It’s not the end of the world though. Tomorrow is going to be so busy (I will be on the go from 7am to midnight) it’ll be over before I know it.

I might not feel comfortable as I am, but I also know I’ll be feeling a million times better in just a week or two. It won’t take much to turn this around.

My plan today had been to explore Canterbury, but I didn’t even get a chance. The time has just disappeared. Instead I’m going to get as much sleep as possible to I’m in the best condition for tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Hayley x