Christmas Past

This post is being very stubborn. It just doesn’t seem to want to be written, but I’m forcing it out onto the page. I need to draw a line under this Christmas business before I can move on to healthier, more positive things, and the best way for me to do that is to write about it. No matter how much the words don’t want to come. I think I more than proved my point in my last entry, because I now feel a lot better after purging that from my system.

So, Christmas 2019 then. Honestly? I’m glad it’s over. The whole of December has been a month of backtracking, broken promises (to myself) and failures, and although I did have fun on occasion I struggled to find the tiniest jot of Christmas spirit. This used to be the norm with me, but over the last few years I found myself being able to enjoy the season again. When I think back on it, this coincided largely with me being in control of my diet and actually managing to lose some damn weight!

If there’s anything I haven’t been lately, it’s in control.

I went out Christmas Eve with a group of work friends, a night out I’d been looking forward to for ages. But because of how I feel about my size, these kind of events are again tainted for me. I’d hoped I’d left those kinds of feelings in the past where they belong, but my four stone (YES, FOUR!!!) weight gain since November 2018 refuses to be ignored. I wanted to feel on top of the world, but instead I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious.

I bought a shiny dress specially for the occasion, knowing that I’d be way overdressed compared to my friends. I nearly swapped it out for an oversized black jumper at the last minute, but then I ran out of time so I had to just go with it. I met with my gentleman friend at his house as he lives round the corner from me (don’t ask. I said I was backtracking didn’t I?!) and walking to his in this dress at 11am got me some stares I tell you.

I was definitely the best-dressed on the council estate that morning! After a while I did start to feel more comfortable in my outfit, but I couldn’t help thinking back to how I looked last Christmas. It was my slimmest Christmas ever in fact.

Size 22 vs size 14. Sigh.

I wish I could have worn the Mrs Claus outfit on the night out instead, but it’ll be remaining in the loft till next year.

Because I was feeling sorry for myself, I ended up eating like a pig right up until the night out which meant I was bigger and more bloated than I would have been if I just hadn’t thought about it. It’s so typical of me, I do wonder if I’ll ever stop sabotaging myself in that way.

Christmas Eve ended up being rather special, but I struggled big time with Christmas Day. I’m still suffering massively with tiredness (I woke up at 2am Christmas Eve morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, and Christmas Eve night wasn’t much better) so I felt that because I couldn’t be the happy, energetic person I wanted to be, that I ruined it for everyone else. It was still a nice day though, and someone who definitely wasn’t complaining was Newton, who got a massive pile of presents all to himself.

He was so well behaved, and so tolerant of us dressing him up. He really couldn’t give a damn, probably because he had a massive pile of wrapping paper to destroy. He loves paper, so his first Christmas was a massive success. Such a spoilt doggo.

Christmas night I’d planned a surprise Christmas disco for everyone. I bought a little LED disco light which was actually awesome and a fantastic bargain, we had glow sticks, and I bought some wigs so we could dress up and take some photo booth-style photos. It was fun but we were all so pooped by this stage, it wasn’t quite the event I had envisioned. 

It still made for some interesting photos so I shouldn’t complain.

The idea for Boxing Day was to get right back on plan and change my gosh darn life, and it nearly worked dammit. I slipped at lunch time, but since then I’ve been perfect. Ok, it’s only been one day, but it’s something right?

I had a record-breakingly bad sleep yesterday (a mere three hours, not nearly enough to get through a night shift on) but I did spend a lot of time journaling in preparation for getting everything back on track again. 2018 was a hard year for me, really damn hard, so I was confident at the beginning of the year that 2019 was going to be better. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a whole lot worse. The thing is, I had to let things get worse and make some difficult choices before I even had a shot at them getting better, so now that’s done I know that I can make 2020 the year where things come back together again. Not only that, but they’ll be better than they were to begin with.

What I need to keep in mind though is that there’s every possibility 2020 will throw just as much crap at me, if not more, but the one single, solitary, thing I can change is how I react to the challenges that will no doubt come my way.

I’m not going to let anything beat me, and when I come to write my 2020 Christmas post, neither of us will recognise that tired, bloated woman in the photo above.

But for now, let the work begin!

Hayley x

Triggered

I never really understood what it meant to be triggered. On social media it seems to be a byword for someone who is ‘too sensitive’, and whilst I understand the true meaning of it, I never fully grasped what a crappy thing it is to be triggered until recently. I’m guessing that I’ve been triggered before, but I don’t think I’ve had the self-awareness to recognise it for what it is until now.

At least as far as my own experience goes, being triggered is not just about getting upset over being reminded of something bad in your past. It seems to me that when you are triggered that reminder serves to, emotionally, put you right back in that place you so desperately want to forget.

I really don’t remember much about my childhood, and I prefer to keep it that way, but some things stuck. None of them are good. When I was about 16 my mum got a gall stone stuck in her bile duct, which caused her to go bright yellow. She was admitted to hospital, and since my dad was (is) a complete waste of space, myself and my little brother and sister went to stay with some aunties, on my mum’s side of the family.

That side of the family is extensive. My Nan and granddad popped out kids into the double figures, and cousins, well, we stopped counting when we got past 30. Growing up the message was clear – if anything ever happens we’ll be there for you. What a load of shit.

As a kid we were always visiting my mum’s side of the family. Everyone loved my dad, thought he was a ‘diamond geezer’, but after he dumped his family for some disgusting old trout (after years of emotional abuse I might add) you’d think they’d stand by their sister, right? Nope! Amongst other despicable things, my uncle (my mum’s own brother) let my dad rent his flat, which in itself is pretty low, I think.

So, mum goes into hospital, and I’m already at breaking point at this stage after the messy divorce, plus I’m at a pretty delicate age that’s difficult for any teenager to deal with at the best of times. I’m trying to get to grips with that, plus I’m at college and barely coping with what I now recognise as crippling anxiety. I’m self-harming pretty badly too, but no one knows about that yet.

Thankfully, I go to stay with one aunt and my brother and sister stay with another, but we are only there for one night before they decide they don’t want us.

After being dumped back home where I start to figure out how I’m going to look after two school-age-children, cope with college and try not to worry too much about my mum, the phone rings. It’s my uncle, and he wants to know where my dad is because he hasn’t paid the rent. I said I don’t know (I didn’t, and yes it’s a touchy subject with someone whose family has let them down so monumentally), so he gets angry that I’m not giving him the information he wants. He hangs up the phone but then calls straight back. I don’t answer it, so I’m left a lovely answering machine message informing me I’m a cunt, and that he wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire. ‘Scuse the foul language, by the way.

That evening an aunt picks us up to take us visiting at the hospital, and I’m told not to tell my mum I’m upset. The one single adult I feel like I have left in the whole world who cares about me, and I’m not allowed to say anything.

Aaaaanyway, mother gets better and I set to work not thinking about this kind of stuff, whilst keeping a hatred of everyone on my mum’s side of the family simmering on a low heat for the rest of eternity.

On Monday, my mum was back in hospital for an operation, and oh boy did I find out what being triggered really meant. On top of being worried about mum, I felt the huge weight of responsibility settle on my shoulders and honestly, I felt like I’d be crushed by it.

Things were very different this time around though. My brother and sister are both adults now, and if I ask them for help, they’ll give it. I’ve got some pretty marvellous friends who are only ever a text or a call away, and I actually have quite an amazing support network at work, of all places.

I know all of this, but for the last two weeks I’ve felt like a frightened and abandoned child who is completely alone in the world. I’ve been wondering whether, if I saw my father, I might try to wring his wrinkly old neck. Because I’m so furious that he wasn’t there when we needed him in the first place. Which is weird, because he’s the very last person I want help from right now. ‘Triggered’ seems like a very small word for such a big feeling.

Whilst waiting for the hospital to ring, a couple of aunties are incessantly trying to get hold of me, wanting updates. Every time the phone makes a sound I’m on it, my heart pounding, anticipating the news of how the operation went. My brother and sister are with me, and they sit up straight and pay attention. The whole room is on high alert. But nope, it’s an annoying aunt. After the initial shot of adrenaline, all I can think is, alternately, ‘where were you when we needed you?’ and ‘I hate you so much, I wish I didn’t have to have anything to do with you’.

Mother is on the mend now, and although we don’t know exactly what the future holds (we are waiting to hear what, if anything, happens next) I’m sure now that I can deal with it. I won’t crumble when my family needs me, and I’m choosing to see it as a good thing that I’ve had to revisit all of these feelings.

By thinking it through, I’ve been able to challenge my own thoughts. I think I’m all alone, but I’m not. I think I can’t cope, but I can. I think everyone will abandon me. They won’t – the family and friends I’ve chosen to keep in my life won’t let me down.

So, this was my brain on Monday. Tuesday was an insanely frustrating day, trying to get my mother out of the hospital, which we eventually achieved a mere 6 hours after she was physically ready to be discharged. About five of those hours were spent waiting for a letter to be printed off for her to take home with her, just outlining what she’d had done. I’m failing to see why that took so long but also, another hour was spent waiting for the pharmacist to deliver some unknown drug for mum to take home with her.

Whilst some poor person was no doubt sitting in recovery for hours waiting for a bed to become available (as my mum had been the day before) a bed was being taken up waiting for a patient to be given Co-codamol, a frikkin drug you can buy in a supermarket for under 30p.

A) why didn’t they give her the prescription so we could collect it from the pharmacy ourselves? Not that we would have bothered, we have a drawer full of over-the-counter painkillers already… and B) why the flip is the NHS giving out prescriptions for stuff like that in the first place? How much must that cost? At least ask if it’s needed first!

Wednesday I was late getting to sleep as we had shopping delivered, then on Thursday I took my brother to an awards ceremony. I can’t go into details (at his request, he keeps things on the down-low) but we spent the afternoon hobnobbing with important police officers and commissioners. It was a weird kind of afternoon, but we both did surprisingly well in a social situation we both found excruciatingly uncomfortable.

Friday and Saturday I slept most of the day (keep in mind I’ve been working nights as usual) and now finally, finally I’ve had enough rest in order to be able to think straight.

I haven’t felt Christmassy at all so far, and what with everything that’s been going I haven’t felt like wearing my Christmas hats or anything like that. However, I am off work now for four whole nights!

So, expect normal service to resume shortly, with hopefully three weeks’ worth of festivities somehow crammed into a few days. Challenge accepted!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Expectation vs Reality

It’s a lot longer between blog posts than I intended it to be, but it’s been a difficult week-and-a-bit. First of all, the bug I caught wasn’t too bad, but also not conducive to getting much done.

On day one I felt awful – I went to bed shivering and unable to get warm, and woke up with a temperature. As I was lying in bed mustering the energy to get up and prepare Pea’s breakfast, I remembered how as a child my mum would be ripping off my cosy blankets right now and sticking a fan in my face to cool me down, much to my displeasure. But I’m a grown up now, so I had to rip off my own blankets and make sure I got my temperature down before steam started coming out of my ears. Being a grown up sucks.

Once Pea’s breakfast was done I got back to bed and spent the rest of the day literally sweating the bug out. I mean I was drenched, so much so that I had to sleep on a towel at one point, but when I got up for work I felt strangely fine. This is ok with me, because I don’t like using sick days during the peak period at work. It looks suspicious and I feel guilty even when I’ve done nothing wrong.

This carried on for a few days – feeling fine for work at night and getting weirdly sweaty in the day. Attractive, I know! When Sunday’s family Crafternoon came around, I was still feeling pretty rough.

I had a lovely plan of putting decorations on the table, getting a few nibbles, setting out loads of different art and craft options and in general being an awesome host. I just didn’t have it in me though, so what we did have was a great big mess.

I decided to just do one thing – start work on the donkey decoration I’ve been meaning to sew since December 2017. I’ve been so long getting round to it I even convinced myself it was a donkey when it is in fact a bloody reindeer!

I managed to get the body done before our meal, but I ended up finishing it in the early hours of the next morning because my sleep patterns at the weekend are still very much broken.

It’s a bit messy for my liking, and if I make another one there are some changes I’ll make to the instructions to make it better, but it’s still cute and it still looks good on the rainbow tree.

The meal itself was delicious, but still, it would have been so much nicer if I’d been feeling myself. I’ve been to the restaurant once before and I love how cosy it is, and we even had some live music. I’m not sure how I feel about that though. Are you supposed to clap while you’re eating? No one seemed to know what to do. Was I supposed to tip him? Nope, no idea.

Of course we did some pictures before the food came, and as it happens this is the last picture of my hair like that. More on that in a minute.

For starters, we had ‘prawn’ cocktail. I have no idea what it was made of, but it tasted exactly like a real prawn. Unnervingly so. The only reason I wasn’t totally freaked out is because the texture was too firm to be a real prawn.

Once I got used to the idea I really enjoyed it, but not as much as the mains. The cauliflower/broccoli ‘cheese’ was the absolute best bit which I could have eaten all day long.

Dessert was a bit average, but I was stuffed at that point anyway.

It was a very successful first Christmas dinner of the season, but I must admit I’m struggling to find my Christmas spirit this year. I just don’t feel like I normally do, which might be because I’m still finding my feet after a pretty tough year. Plus life keeps throwing spanners in the works every time I start to feel settled.

I think I need to let go of the illusion of control, because let’s face it, there’s very little in life we have any control over whatsoever.

When I started Slimming World in 2016, to a certain extent I forced control on my life. I stopped socialising, I didn’t really do anything as long as it was in line with my goals, completely avoiding anything that wasn’t.

Part of me wants to go back to that so that I can get back on track, but the other part of me wonders if I even can. Maybe it’s just not possible for me to do that any more.

I mentioned a gentleman friend recently, but I’ve realised I’m not even ready to have casual fun. Even at this early stage I feel myself starting to ‘perform’ for affection and not really be my true self. Plus I don’t feel like I’m getting enough respect, and I just can’t go ignoring red flags any more. I know where that leads and it’s nowhere good.

I am worried that this is me controlling this aspect of my life the only way I can right now (by avoiding the situation) but I’ve decided to go with instinct on this one. I’m trusting that it’s not the right time for this – I still have more work to do on myself before I can potentially be with someone in any capacity. It’s just a distraction, stopping me from getting the work done, which maybe I’d be going along with if my feelings weren’t getting slightly hurt along the way. Time to put a stop to that, because gentleman friends are not supposed to make you feel sad. At least I realised this now. Progress, right?!

So, on Tuesday, even though it was the very last thing I felt like doing, I went to get a hair cut.

I was going to ask to keep the same style and just get it tidied up, but then my hairdresser has a way of convincing me to try something new. Instead of a trim, this happened:

Also, how pretty is my eyeshadow? I’ve been saving that one for December. I love the cut and everyone keeps telling me how much it suits me, but I’m mildly freaking out about how chubby my face has got. You’d think it would be enough to keep me on plan really, but sadly it hasn’t.

I did somehow stay on plan all the time I felt poorly, but after the meal out it all went wrong. Having said that, it hasn’t been as bad as it usually is so that’s something. I’ll weigh in later on and start attempt number 482829937.

To be honest I’ll be glad when Christmas is over, as much as I’m trying to go with the flow and take what comes. It’s harder than it looks.

Rather than end on a negative, here’s a picture of Newton modelling his new Christmas jumper (and looking rather fabulous I might add). At least someone’s in the Christmas spirit!

Hayley x

 

Coffee with Tom

As the last day of my weekend draws to a close I’m reflecting how I didn’t really have high hopes for this one. I was pretty stressed out and not really feeling like I had much to look forward to – it was mostly stuff that needed to be done, but all stuff I didn’t want to do. If it weren’t for the fact I’m so tired all the time, I probably would have preferred to be at work.

During the week I was majorly cheesed off with myself for not sticking to plan like I initially thought I would, and panicking that I’d never in fact be able to lose weight ever again. Which is slightly dramatic, but hey, welcome to my world.

It seems I didn’t really give myself enough credit though. Ok, I only had one single full day on plan, but considering I dragged myself back to group last week even though I was dreading it, and that I wasn’t exactly feeling ready to jump back on the wagon, in hindsight I count every meal I did manage to have on plan as a massive win. I credit those wins with me bagging a miraculous half a pound loss this week. I’m genuinely over the moon that I managed to go back to group with a loss at all, because it was the last thing I expected to happen!

I’m starting off this week with some fresh perspective, mostly thanks to my friend Tom. He’s a work friend, and one of those I clicked with right from the beginning. Thing is, there’s often a tipping point with work friends, where you’re not really sure if you’re ever going to socialise outside of the work setting. It’s that point where a colleague will or won’t turn into a proper, lifelong friend.

Tom is really good at picking up on people’s moods, and he knew I wasn’t feeling so great, so he dropped me a text to ask how I was. I almost replied that everything was fine. But all I could think to write was ‘poo’. I didn’t have the energy to explain further than that. He asked if I wanted to talk about it, and really I did, but I’m not overly keen on phone conversations so I suggested having a coffee. Then I instantly regretted it, because what if he felt like he had to accept, because he felt bad? I quickly sent another message giving him an out, but he wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to meet for coffee, but it’s really hard for me not to feel immense guilt when asking for or accepting help. It’s dumb, because I know so many lovely people. Sigh.

Talking things through helped a huge amount, and I even came up with a plan to get my energy back. I thought it was all to do with depression, and perhaps at first it was, but I have some other things to try.

Tom suggested that maybe the food I’m eating when I get in from work is why I have no get-up-and-go. Nowadays I feel sluggish at best when my alarm goes off, but more often than not it feels like pure exhaustion. He asked what I eat after work. I thought back to the previous day…

Six mince pies‘.

Ah.

Some days it might be ice cream, some days a few sandwiches, at other times maybe a pizza and ice cream. It stands to reason that if I crash out after doing a night shift, just after eating a shedload of sugar with virtually no nutritional value, I’ll wake up feeling like crap. We are what we eat after all.

Tom said he’s been having a lot of success with oats, and since it’s now flipping freezing at work I’ve decided to have porridge with almond milk when I get in. Along with defrosted fruit and some savvy syns used on nuts, raisins and other healthy bits. It’ll warm me from the inside, comfort me, fill me up, give me slow release energy to hopefully have me feeling better when I wake up, and also be totally on plan.

It’s all part of a cycle. With a proper breakfast I should sleep better. If I sleep better I can wake up energised and I can go for a walk. The walk will boost my mood. The better my mood, the more I want to eat nutritious meals. And so the cycle continues. I just need to take that first step and stick with it till the wagon is nicely rolling along again.

This newfound optimism has come at an opportune time, because although my cold weather stuff for work (namely the salopettes) do kind of fit, they aren’t exactly comfortable. A few more pounds on and they will officially be cutting me in half, and I can’t exactly breathe properly whilst sitting down in them as it is.

If everything goes to plan this week I should have a nice big loss, and they could even be feeling more comfy by the end of the month. I hope so anyway.

After I was sufficiently caffeinated and properly unloaded of some worries I walked home via a church at the top of a big hill, getting my heart rate up and taking some outdoorsy pictures for the first time in a while. It is getting damn cold out there, so I’m especially grateful I found a new waterproof teal coat for my winter excursions. I have that coat, waterproof (yet breathable) overtrousers and waterproof boots, so there’s no excuse for not getting out during this cold and soggy season.

I may not have had high hopes for this weeked, but it looks like it turned out just fine after all.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

At Least One Step

I often flick through my previous posts to see what was going on when we last spoke, sometimes to see what I planned to do but didn’t. The broken promises just keep on coming. This weekend was no exception – it was going to be my sorting out weekend, but that didn’t happen. Not even close!

That’s not to say I didn’t do anything though. On Friday, I was supposed to be meeting a friend for drinks in the pub, but he couldn’t make it. Part of me was relieved. I wasn’t sure exactly what our drinks were all about (was it going to be a date?) and since I’ve been feeling so awful about myself I somewhat freaked out. When it didn’t happen, I thought ‘ok, great, I can stop worrying and get back on plan’.

I had to work Saturday night, then on Sunday my friend rearranged his own working week so he could have Sunday off as well as me and we could go out together. Ok, back on plan Monday then! Or maybe not…

We stayed at the pub until closing time, then ended up back at mine chatting and playing YouTube videos until the small hours. Did he stay over all night? Was it a date? Did anything happen? Sorry, a lady never tells!

I do feel like I’ve received some external validation, which is kind of helpful, and I can believe that someone can find me genuinely attractive at my current size. This is a big deal for me, because the last person I was ‘involved with’ didn’t want to see me naked until I lost more weight (I was 3 stone lighter than I am now when he said that) and got extensive plastic surgery (which didn’t happen by the way, I got out in time!)

That doesn’t do much for a gal’s self esteem.

The other end of the scale has its own problems though, because when someone is nice to you, you can start to rely on others to make you feel ok about yourself. Then there’s always that fear about what happens when the person goes away, for whatever reason.

This is where my current learning about myself comes in. I need to realise I have worth without needing anyone to tell me. Needing to hear it from a significant other leads to nothing but misery. Believe me, I know. We aren’t doing that any more.

Still, it’s a work in progress.

I spent most of the day Monday in bed asleep because I didn’t get much rest the previous night before, and I was feeling somewhat delicate shall we say, but I did manage to drag myself to group to get weighed in.

I didn’t really have much choice to be fair. I had two friends who didn’t know each other separately attending the Slimming World ball last weekend, and when I suggested one go find the other (I sent the estimable Davey, of MOTY 2018 fame, to track down my lovely consultant, Amanda) I wasn’t sure he’d be successful. There were a lot of people there after all. But find her he did, and he had a message to pass on to me:

Message received, loud and clear!

Amanda, being the lovely person that she is, said that I could weigh in first and that she’d do it personally, so I wouldn’t have to worry so much. I still wasn’t feeling wonderful about it though.

Since I haven’t had many weigh ins since I rejoined, and I’m much heavier than when I started, I decided to turn over a new page. Literally.

That’s 14.5 pound ON. Ouch! But there’s always a silver lining. It’s about half a stone less than I thought it would be.

I still haven’t managed a full day on plan since then, but I’m determined to make the next 120 hours count. It’s not too late for me to get a loss, so I’m really going to try. Starting from… NOW!

I have shiny Christmas planner to help me along too!

There’s a space in there for my Christmas wish, which is to get into the 14 stone bracket. It’s a big ask, but it’s possible. I’m gonna go for it, I’m really gonna!

I am feeling marginally better since I got the weigh in part over and done with, now I just need to actually eat some healthy food. How hard can it be, eh?

Hayley x

Rule Breaker

I’ve been breaking my own rules lately. Some of it has been not-so-good (this is it, I’m REALLY going to stick to plan this time. Yeah right!) and some of it slightly better.

I love getting second-hand bargains, but I always drew the line at shoes because it’s a bit icky. Then I started trying to save money, and I decided to reconsider my used shoe stance.

I joined a vegan Facebook buy and sell group, with the intention of selling some vegan shoes, but instead I ended up buying some. A pair of rather battered purple vegan Dr Marten’s caught my eye – and they were in my size! I’m an 8 so this doesn’t happen often, but since I didn’t really need them I held off and held off.

Until I couldn’t any longer.

I got in contact, paid the seller, then waited a few weeks for them to be posted to me. I paid £35 for a pair of boots that would have been almost £150 when new, but I thought I had been done over if I’m honest! The seller told me she was poorly but no attempt was made to drop me a quick message to keep me updated. £35 is still much more money than I wanted to lose.

Eventually they turned up, and while the seller had been honest about marks and scuffs, no mention was made of the dodgy zip on one of the boots. I found this quite dishonest, and while they mercifully smelled of nothing worse than incense, there were crisps inside them. I’d say Pringles if I had to guess.

Thankfully I managed to salvage the zip for now by bending the teeth back into shape, and they’re really comfortable and I do love them. Having said that I think I’ve had a lucky escape. I’ll definitely go through eBay from now on where at least there’s more buyer protection.

I have two events I plan to wear these to next year – Swingamajig and Shambala festival, the latter of which I bought tickets for today and I’m super excited! They’ll definitely be perfect festival boots, because I’ve never been able to find a pair of wellies yet that didn’t make my big toes go numb.

Yesterday I got out for another mushroom walk, this time through the other half of the nature reserve (two different areas are separated by a road) where I took another 400 pictures. I edited a lot less of them however because many were very similar to the shots taken Monday. Yesterday’s highlights were definitely the puff balls, which are always fun!

I probably should have been a bit more careful because of the spores but, y’know, it’s too cool!

As you may be able to tell from my tone, I’m a feeling a lot better today. I’ve eaten some rubbish, which I’m not exactly happy about, but I’m feeling more positive and just doing what I can.

I’m hopefully going out to socialise with a friend next Friday, though that’s always touch and go because he’s not the most reliable of going out buddies – he’s very prone to cancelling. If he doesn’t cancel (I hope he doesn’t, we’ve been meaning to go out since his birthday in August) then I’m not going to let the way I currently feel about my body stop me from having fun.

Perhaps I won’t have lost weight the following Monday, but I still haven’t given up on the idea of being able to enjoy the odd night out, not freak out about it before or after, and get back on plan straight away the next day. That’s probably my number one diet goal right now and I refuse to give up on it because I know it’s attainable!

Right, I’m signing off now. I’ll see you next month!

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

The Beast

In between me paying for my most recent charity shop purchase (namely the 70’s unit) and it being delivered, I managed to shrink it in my mind. When it turned up I was sure it had doubled in size since I last saw it.

The delivery guys left it in the hall at my request because I knew I’d need to move some things in order to get it up the stairs. So I moved the bookcase that lives in the hall then asked my brother to help me lug it up to my room.

Another thing I didn’t realise, is that the unit is make of teak.

Teak is SOLID.

Teak is DENSE.

Teak is HEAVY.

We somehow got the unit to the top of the stairs, at which point it got stuck. We couldn’t get it round the bannister at the top. I felt sick, my vision started going grainy and I was sure I was going to pass out. Luckily my brother was able to hold it at the top while I dashed off for a sip of water, but when I came back to help we couldn’t get it back down into the hall again, at least not without flipping it over. I’d reached complete muscle fatigue by this point and knew I didn’t have it in me.

By now I was considering going to the shops for an axe and smashing the thing to smithereens, but instead I patiently unscrewed the legs.

Let me tell you, they built things to last in those days. When the earth is decimated by nuclear war one thing will still be standing – my beast of a unit. Once I’d removed all of the screws, still nothing was moving.

They were also held on by glue that’d had 40-odd years to set. My little bro was not to be deterred though, and eventually he got the legs off using an ancient chisel, a hammer and plenty of brute force.

Then we got it up the stairs! My brother may possibly have a broken foot, I am bruised and aching everywhere, but it’s in its place. It’ll now be some time before I get around to doing it up, but I’m in no rush. The main thing is that I have places to put all of my stuff.

Clothes and shoes live under the bed (it’s one of those lift-up ones), photography stuff lives in my telephone table (also to be up-cycled), Pea sits on my Ikea drawers and everything else goes in the unit. Lovely. I’ve never been this decluttered and free of stuff in my entire life.

I’d also never repotted a plant, until this week. So I think I am a proper adult now?

Let’s see if I can keep these alive. I absolutely love my yellow pot which is another Ikea purchase, and was originally terracotta. I took a can of cheap spray paint to it and now it’s a lot more cheerful. I’m all about bright colours lately.

Yesterday was a trip to the doctor’s to get more happy pills and to talk about my knee. As far as the knee goes (it’s been especially painful lately) the doctor assured me it’s just wear and tear and I won’t make it worse by continuing to go on long walks. However he is referring me for physio to strengthen the muscles around the knee, and I’m looking forward to getting more specialist advice.

As for the depression I must say I’m still feeling rather flat. Although it’s not ideal, at least I’m feeling stable and managing to get loads of stuff done. I’m keeping up with my little sketches and generally doing ok, but I’m still not entirely pleased with my progress.

I suppose I just have to be patient and give it time, but apart from feeling flat my eating is waaaaaay outta control, the worst it’s been in years. I desperately want to sort it out, and each evening I pull myself together and tell myself tomorrow will be different. So far it hasn’t been true though. Still, at least it’s now only one aspect of daily life I’m struggling with as opposed to this time last week when I was questioning everything. I’m feeling a lot more settled in that respect!

Ah, it’ll all be fine I’m sure. One constant I have is good people around me, and when it comes to that side of things I couldn’t be more content. Yay for decent folk!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

PS for some reason my commenting has turned itself off and won’t come back, despite it working on a test post I did the other day. I’m currently stumped! So sorry about that, and I’ll sort it when I can!

PPS I figured it out! Lord knows how it got switched off because I had to do it through the ancient WordPress editor that I haven’t used in yonks. Stoopid WordPress…

I’ll do it tomorrow…

‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ has been my motto for the last month. I’ll get back on plan, I’ll go for the walk, I’ll do the thing, whatever the thing may be. But tomorrow never arrives, so yesterday I had to grit my teeth and just do it. I haven’t been doing much, because everything is an uphill struggle again. There’s no real reason why, just the blues I guess.

So I ate the healthy things, and have done the same today. That can only improve matters in the long run, especially as due to the rubbish I’ve been eating my face has erupted with spots. They’re everywhere, in parts of my face I’ve never had a spot in my life! If that’s not my body telling me things have to change then I don’t know what is.

They have started to calm down now, but in any case I think my current house guest is doing a good job at taking the attention away from my face.

Here she is again modelling my latest Ikea purchase which I’m oh so happy with. I fell in love with these boards as soon as I saw them, and luckily they’re some of the crazy cheap things you can get from Ikea.

The little plastic drawers are so cool, they pull out but the lid stays put so you can put cute stuff on top! I’m going back to get another one next month.

Here’s part of my room as it looks now. There is normally more space but since I had to accommodate an extra birdy I had to move things around. I reckon I’ll have the time and money to decorate in October so I thought I’d use this opportunity to show you my ‘before’ picture. I’m really looking forward to the end result.

You can also see that under the window there is an old fashioned telephone table which I bought from a charity shop for £25. I’m going to sand it down and repaint it, then it will be used to store all of my photography equipment. My camera bag fits perfectly in the compartment under the seat and the more fragile bits and bobs go in the drawers.

All I’ll tell you about the rest of my plans for my room is that it’s ‘colourful’. You’ll just have to wait and see what else I have in store!

It’s now the end of my weekend which has flown by in record time. I went to visit the friend whose wedding I’m photographing on Sunday, and I ended up not getting home till gone 11pm after only having 3 hours sleep after my Saturday night shift. It’s taken me the rest of the weekend to recover from that to be honest, but at least I got some important things done. I’m sure this will be the last time he ever gets married so I really don’t want to mess it up.

I did manage to start filling in my sketch book during the week, and although I hadn’t planned on sharing it here is a little drawing of one of our cats.

Her head is a bit squished, but I must keep reminding myself IT DOESN’T MATTER! We all have to start somewhere.

My knee is still sore but I did manage to get out for one lovely walk with a friend.

He’s not the kind who would normally walk for fun so I’m not sure if he’ll come again, but I’ll keep trying anyhoo.

From tomorrow (yes, I really WILL do it tomorrow) I’m going to ramp up the walking again starting with a trip round the park straight from work in the morning.

That’s sure to make me feel a bit better at least.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x