Invasion

There’s one thing I know for certain – no one, and I mean no one, had an Easter Sunday like mine. There are three adults in our household, and for the most part we all cook our own meals because of our weird tastes and eating habits. Once in a while though, for a special occasion, I get invited to a Sunday roast.

While I was mooching around in my room I got a text from mother requesting that I do a quick sketch of my sister, her boyfriend and the doggo. I’m not talented enough to do a quick sketch of something like that so it would end up taking me all day. I said no, but when mum explained why she wanted them, I went one better.

If there’s one thing I love about my family, it’s that we are all quite bonkers. Mum wanted pictures of our absent family so that we could pretend they were joining us for dinner. Then I got carried away.

I printed out pictures of their faces, but then wondered how awesome it would be if I attached them to sticks and sat them at the table. Mum then encouraged me by suggesting that we give them t-shirts (by this time I’m nearly wetting myself with laughter) then the icing on the cake was when I thought to give them stick arms. I haven’t laughed so much in such a long time.

As I was looking for pictures that would print well, I couldn’t resist this hilarious picture of my sister’s boyfriend doing a pretend grumpy face one Christmas. I looks as if Newton has just let off a really smelly parp, which is exactly what he would have done if he was really there. Just before we ate, I video called my sister and luckily she wasn’t frightened at all and thought it was as funny as me and mum did. My brother said something like ‘save me’, but deep down I bet he was really just impressed at our stroke of genius. That must be it.

We decided to keep stick-Newton until we can have the real one back. Even stick-Newton is better than no Newton.

On Monday I had planned to start eating healthily again, however when I last went shopping I bought a huge bag of granola for ’emergencies’. Well, it kept calling to me and I ended up having granola for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks (with ice cold coconut milk, flipping delicious I tell you) and couldn’t leave it alone till it was all gone. I regret nothing, it was ace.

Yesterday though, I realised I had to get myself sorted. Not because of weight gain or anything like that, but because I believe I had genuinely become a fire hazard. When I eat rubbish, my tummy does not at all approve and what with the vast quantities of broccoli and cauliflower I ate Sunday, there was a critical build-up of noxious gasses. Lives were at steak – a flick of a light switch and we all could have gone up in flames.

After a day of eating sensibly (including some absolutely banging Marmite roast potatoes), all is back to normal and the crisis has been averted.

Last week, after a delivery of compost, I decided to test my green fingers. The last time my sister came to the house, I don’t even remember when, she left me some plant babies. I thought I had compost in the garage but we were all out, so I just got some mud out of the garden and popped them in an old container I found.

So far so good.

As they’re house plants, I had to bring them indoors. I popped them on the windowsill, and happily went about my day.

Next morning, I woke up to find that I was not alone in bed. I was sharing the duvet with several ants. Ah. I tried to live with them for a while, but in the end I was overrun and had to risk leaving the plants outside.

By the time the compost had been delivered, they were not happy. But then I cut away the dead bits and I have new growth. Perhaps I can be a plant lady after all!

I’m not a huge fan of instructions. I’ve had some seeds in the cupboard for years, but when I read the instructions I put off planting them. It all sounds so complicated – acidic soils, alkaline soils, sunlight, shade, indoors, outdoors, not too much watering, not too little… in the end I just decided to stick everything in pots randomly and hope for the best.

Then after a few days of nothing, we have… life! Check out my cool timelapse, taken over a period of about seven hours yesterday.

Considering some of my seeds should have been sown by 2017 at the latest (according to the packets), and the most recent of them should have been sown by April 2019, I’m really pleased that I have anything at all. It’s all surprisingly exciting!

I’m sure you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats at this point. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

This is the Life

Is anyone else already feeling massively changed by recent events? I think it’s impossible to not reevaluate what’s important to you in these circumstances, and although I suspect once this is over we’ll all fall back into our usual routines quite easily, I sincerely hope I don’t.

I think I’m a person who’s quite easily influenced by those around her, I’m a bit of a sponge in that respect, but since I’ve mostly been in my room alone (except for little Pea of course) I’ve been thinking about what I really like and what I really want. How often in life are we given the opportunity to stop and think about such things, without expectations from family, friends, partners, employers, society in general…

One thing I’ve been thinking about (which will come as a surprise to absolutely no one) is my weight. When I first started losing weight, it really was out of necessity. Life was hard. The world is not made for morbidly obese people. Our bodies aren’t made to be able to handle it. My joints hurt, bits of me rubbed till they bled, I was tired, I was miserable. Everything from using public transport to trying to get clothes that fit was a massive ordeal. Life was definitely put on hold at that time.

Now, although I’m almost four stone heavier than I was at my lowest weight in November 2018, apart from fitting into smaller clothes I can do everything now that I could do then. What’s more, I feel so much better now in every way imaginable.

I’m happier, more confident, almost as fit as I was, and more aware of who I am. This is in the middle of a global crisis. What does it say about my previous life that I’m happier now in the midst of all this terror?

When I think of my motivations to lose more weight right now, it all comes down to what other people think of me. I don’t think that’s a good enough reason. Apart from that? I feel sad about all the nice clothes I have that no longer fit me and buying new clothes is marginally less fun. That’s it.

So, I’m trying something new. My only goal between now and when I may possibly be free again at the end of June (all being well) is to be the same weight I was when we went into lockdown. As it happens, this week I’ve had an enormous gain and my clothes have again become tight, so I do want to get that off so I can feel comfortable again, then I’m just going to concentrate on enjoying my life.

I’ve spoken before about building the life I want, but everything I want is already right here. My life goals have changed from wanting the things I think I should want, to something a lot more simple. I want (NEED) to get enough sleep, and I want to enjoy doing things just for the sake of them. That really is the crux of it.

I’ve been feeling the call (or is it a shout?) to slow down for such a long time, and oh my word I’m doing pretty good at listening to that voice. I always felt such an enormous sense of urgency. Even reading a book made me feel a bit panicky, like I should be reading it quicker, as if the main reason for reading it in the first place was to tick an ‘achievement’ off a list. I never planted anything, because I was afraid it wouldn’t grow. I found it hard to draw and paint, because I was afraid it would be crap.

It was so hard for me to remember that just doing these things is fun, no matter what the end result.

I felt like I had to be skinny now, before I could enjoy the rest of life, and would put my body through all kinds of abuse to make that happen. In 2018, I was barely getting 6 hours sleep a day and mostly living off of conflict and adrenaline.

It wasn’t worth it.

I want a life that has family meals and red wine and cake and hugs and biscuits and long walks and wildflowers and birds and hedgehogs and mountains and trees, dogs, cats, friends, ice cream, beaches, good coffee, the fresh page of a journal, the smell of an old book… These are the things that are really important to me, and I can get a huge chunk of them without even leaving my back garden.

I couldn’t slow down enough to enjoy these things till now, because I always felt there wasn’t enough time. I needed to use as much of my spare time as possible on exercising, because if I didn’t exercise enough then I’d never be skinny enough. Yes, I did do most of my exercising outside, but I never allowed myself enough time to stop and take notice of things. Not properly.

This week I found out that a weed I’ve been seeing for all of my life has flowers like tiny little orchids or pitcher plants. I found a plant in the garden that has such tiny petals I couldn’t count them with the naked eye, then discovered it’s a hairy bittercress. A plant I took a picture of in a field in 2018 is a spotted orchid. These things have all made me happier than being skinny ever did.

I’m not saying things are perfect. I think I’ve had a massive breakthrough, but I have to consider the fact I might change my mind halfway through next week and decide I can’t be happy unless I fit into a size 14. There’s also the fact that my mind is naturally quite morbid. As soon as I felt I had stuff ‘figured out’, my brain said great, now you’ve got your act together you’ll probably die before you get the chance to enjoy it.

Maybe I will, but I won’t let it stop me trying.

I wasn’t intending this post to be that deep, but it just kind of… came out of me. It happens like that sometimes! I do have a few other updates, but I’ll put them in a separate post tomorrow. For now, I’m just content. Nuff said.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

One Less Thing

I’ve got to admit, I’ve been worrying about money. Although there was no alternative for me and I just had to stay home from work, once the family was out of immediate danger I did start to think about the practicalities of having just a fraction of my usual income for the next 12 weeks. Best case scenario, my credit card was going to have to take a massive battering.

Has anyone else found that one good day seems to be followed by one bad? It’s like you let your guard down, take time to appreciate the little things and have a nice day, then the next is followed by remembering what’s going on in the world and the cycle starts over.

Wednesday was a day I woke up feeling panicky right from the start, and the first thing I saw was 9 missed calls from an unknown number. My first and immediate thought was that someone I care about was seriously ill and a family member whose number I don’t have was trying to get in touch with me. Most unlike me, I called the number straight back to find out what was going on.

The person on the other end answered within a couple of rings, and whilst I didn’t recognise the voice, I did recognise the name. It was a top manager from work, one I’ve only ever said hello to in passing until now.

He was phoning to let me know that they’ve had a policy review, and although I do have to use some of my holiday allowance, for the rest of the time off I’ll be paid in full. If that’s ok with me. Hell yes it is! So that’s one (pretty major) less thing to worry about.

I did still have something on my mind though, because on Thursday I realised I had to go shopping. We shop online during normal times, but we haven’t been able to get a slot till the 14th of April. Then after that… who knows? Since we’ve been lucky up until now, apart from my brief sojourn to work last week I haven’t had to leave the house since the 16th of March.

The prospect of having to venture outdoors had me more stressed than I thought it would. When I got to Tesco, there was an enormous queue. Everyone was being sensible though, so I decided to just stick it out and get it over and done with.

I queued for more than an hour, and by the time I got into the shop my hands were killing me. I hadn’t realised until then, but I spent most of the time gripping the trolley like my life depended on it. My jaw was aching from it being clenched for so long.

Before I picked up my trolley it was cleaned by a staff member, and when I got near to the store entrance I was given a disinfectant wipe to give it another rub down and make sure my hands were clean. Despite this, my inner voice just kept crying out ‘DANGER! DANGER!’ the whole time.

Outside in the queue I could smell people’s perfume, aftershave, cigarette smoke and body odour. I couldn’t help wondering what else I was breathing in. One queue companion was not a worry at all though.

It’s always good to meet a fellow ginger.

Once inside the shop it was fine. I think Tesco had it right with the amount of people they were letting in at a time and I was in and out quickly. Back to the safety of home! Once in I washed my hands, changed my clothes, washed my hands again, washed my face, wiped down the shopping, everything the shopping had touched, and even put the coat I’d worn in the laundry. I think I did all I possible could to stay safe.

Staying on plan though? That did NOT go to plan. During these strange times however, I’m being easy on myself. I really fancied a nice bottle of red wine, and to be honest the prospect of a treat was what I needed to get me out of the front door.

You know me. One day off plan is NEVER just one day, and I ended up buying a few other naughty bits and bobs. All the treat food is now eaten, and I have another bottle of wine to drink tonight. Then I will remain strong – no more treat food is allowed in the house! Tonight is a little celebration that my money worries are temporarily allayed, that the sun is shining, and that it’s a Saturday and I don’t have to work.

From now on I’ve decided to trust my instincts. I knew what I needed to do as far as work was concerned and trusted that I’d find a way to make it work, somehow. As such I decided that I’m not going to go out to exercise after all, no matter how early in the day. This week I’ve done some indoor workouts and since we are lucky enough to have a garden, that’s where I will spend my time outdoors in order to keep me sane.

It just seems like such an unnecessary risk for me to go out when I don’t have to, especially as those I know who have to walk dogs or don’t have the space to exercise at home keep reporting back that people aren’t doing their bit when it comes to social distancing.

I think that the UK is going to see stricter measures come in because a relatively small (yet large enough to be a danger) group of idiots can’t do as they’re told. I figure I’ll start doing it now, no point waiting for the government to pull their fingers out.

Anyway, enough now of the serious stuff. In more important news, I now know what the flower from the last post is! Thanks so much to My Big Fat Vegan Life for telling me it’s a clematis (indeed it is) and to my mother for finding out which one it is exactly. Excellent work people!

See, in my wild flower reference book all the pictures of clematis have five petals, so I dismissed clematis as an option. But no. They can have four OR five petals. HOW IS THAT A THING? If something has 8 legs, it’s a spider. If it doesn’t, it’s not a spider, RIGHT?

Plants are confusing. I clearly have a lot to learn. I have plenty to time to improve my knowledge.

For either Christmas or my birthday, I don’t remember which, my sister bought me a lovely journal. I hadn’t finished my current one yet, and I’ve been looking forward to April when I could start completely afresh. The problem is, fresh journals are scary and it took me a couple of days to build up the courage to make that first mark.

I shied away from using watercolours towards the end of my last journal, because the water warps the pages slightly. But then, looking back over what I’d done I realised the slightly crispy, well used pages were my favourite to look back on. I’m trying to not worry so much about mess and whatnot. So I did some speed-painting last night.

I really love how this turned out, and it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I’m trying to make this journal into more of a nature journal, so I’ll include stuff I learn about the things I paint in future entries. It’ll be fun!

Right, that’s it for today. Time for me to get out into the garden and make the most of the sun.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A New Normal

Waking up is becoming less of an ordeal. I remember when I was a kid and everything was up in the air (parents divorcing, moving houses, that kind of stuff) I’d wake up each day with an instant feeling of unease. It takes a while to talk yourself out of it – you tell yourself that you’re safe, get grounded again and carry on.

As I get used to this new version of what normal life is, the unease is slowly dissipating. Still though, nothing remains simple.

My anchor at the moment is still Slimming World. When all this started I lost my appetite, and although it’s coming back in full force I just cannot let myself slip this time. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. I’ve imagined the moment where I eat something purely for comfort, and then I imagine… what next? It only works when there is an unlimited supply of food, and I can’t just jump into the car and pop to the 24 hour Tesco.

There’s only one possible outcome – I’ll end up feeling worse than I did to begin with either through guilt, or because I can’t get enough junk food to keep the high going. Or both, come to think of it.

As it is, food and diet is how I organise my day. Getting up is always nice because there’s the first coffee of the day. If I have them in (luckily I managed to get some with last week’s shopping) I start with a ‘posh’ coffee- a Nescafé coconut milk latte that comes in a sachet and is only 3 Syns.

I have a Syn-free lunch around 3 or 4pm, then dinner is as late as I can manage and whatever’s in the fridge that is going out of date first. Dinner is always big and satisfying, which helps me sleep through the night.

It’s working out pretty well so far. Then on a weekly basis we have the Slimming World virtual online group, which is run through Zoom. I enjoy this so much that I attend one on a Monday night and one on a Tuesday night.

Official weigh in is now Tuesday morning, and this week I’ve stayed the same. I’m not even overly disappointed, because the fact is I’ve barely moved for two weeks and I’ve had really good losses up until now – much better than I imagined I would. It stands to reason that I couldn’t keep that pace going.

Activity however is something that I really must start working into my day, for so many reasons. Aside from the positive impact exercise brings to physical and mental health, I’ve found that if I don’t move my creativity also disappears.

Yesterday I did some hula hooping, some kettlebell workouts and some walking around the kitchen/living room, and as I did I found I had the urge to paint. So I did!

It’s just a little start, but it’s more than I’ve felt like doing for a while. I also feel less inclined to rush. When it comes to arts and crafts I definitely tend to hurry towards the end result. This is because while it’s in process I think it’s crap and I find it hard to sit with that feeling while I’m doing it. So I’m experimenting with just slowing down and letting things develop as they will. It’s harder than it sounds.

I’ve given a lot of thought to exercise, and I’ve realised that I must make the most of being allowed out for one walk a day. After speaking to some Slimming World people yesterday I’ve been given advice as to the best times of day to do things, because I’ve seen through Facebook friends that all my usual haunts have been absolutely rammed with people since lockdown was implemented. I have to keep the risk as low as possible.

Tomorrow, I’m going to get up super early and go out during sunrise. Hopefully not many others will be out and I can see if it’s a feasible way to carry out my daily stroll. I’ve gone through different routes in my head to identify places where it’s impossible to be 2m away from someone passing in the opposite direction and have adjusted the route accordingly. Since I stopped working, I’ve been burning over 1000 calories a day less, and I can feel myself getting lazier and lazier. I really must work on getting a new routine going. After all, I’ve got 11 more weeks of this. Minimum.

I feel like I owe it to the other people who are out there putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe and fed to make the most of my privileged situation. So that’s what I’ll do. I’m not taking a single thing for granted.

Now I’m officially poor I really have to stop spending money, but as one last treat I bought a couple of Kindle books to use for trying to identify wild flowers and trees. I got sidetracked when looking for specific things and ended up just browsing through thousands and thousands of entries, but now I’m desperate to find out what one thing is because it’s driving me NUTS.

I was in two minds whether to write about this, because I didn’t want to admit defeat, but if you know what this is PLEASE let me know because it has eluded me so far. I think it’s from a tree or was growing around a tree, but I can’t get back to the spot to investigate further for the time being. I can’t find it online, on any plant/tree ID apps or in any of my books. When I took the photos it was just because it was pretty, I didn’t give a second thought as to what it was. It’s become something of a mission! I bet it’s something really bloody obvious. I literally spent an entire day, A WHOLE 10 HOURS, trying to find it to no avail. Still, it passed the time!

Hopefully you’re all staying safe and adjusting to life as it is now.

Take care,

Hayley x

Virtual Reality

Day 5 of isolation, and madness is beginning to set in. On Thursday, for a short while I forgot that I don’t speak French. You see, I watched an entire season of a French show on Netflix. When I watch something foreign I always watch with subtitles-I cannot stand it when it’s dubbed. After 10 hours or so of watching, partway into season 2, I looked away from the screen and thought ‘what the bloody hell are they saying?’

Oh yeah. They’re speaking French! And I do not… It’s happened before when I was watching the German series, Dark. Tell me it’s not just me?

Now for a disclaimer: I’m no therapist. But I just wanted to give you my thoughts on some things. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. None of us have ever been in anything like this situation before, so don’t for a second feel like you should be finding or even looking for silver linings, if that’s not something that helps you.

I’m someone who has been dipping in and out of things. I have so many projects I could be getting on with, but when I get into something I momentarily forget what’s going on in the outside world. That’s great, until I suddenly remember and I get a jolt of panic surge through my body. Then I lose all interest in what I was doing, I stare into the distance for an indeterminate amount of time, then later on find something else to do.

At least, that’s during the day. Night time is spent trying, and failing, to get a good sleep. I’m not going to stress over this though. Normally it’s a problem because it’s important for me to be on the ball at work, but I’m not working so it doesn’t matter if I’m zoned out during waking hours.

We’re all just finding our ‘new normal’, and I think beating ourselves up over not being ‘positive enough’ is the last thing we need to be doing. Feelings demand to be felt, and if we bury them, they’ll never go away. The only way out is through.

Over the course of this week, I’ve been terrified, but also happy. On Monday Newton did an audible fart in the forest which was quite possibly the funniest thing in the world ever. I laughed more than was probably necessary at my wonky nipples (I have no idea how to explain in words what that was about or why it was so funny) and I had a silent disco in my room.

I was listening to classic 80’s tracks which are oh so danceable. In this instance I was listening to ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ by the Communards, which I think we can all agree is a belter.

Other things that have helped me are getting dressed every day and, from time to time, putting make up on. This getting ready time is one of my favourite weekday activities, as I put my AirPods in and bust out some choons while I’m at it. Normally it’s to get me gee’d up for work, but in this instance it was a great mood—booster.

Then I spent several hours de-sequining some things for a craft project I meant to start two years ago, whilst watching an interesting series on Netflix about myths and legends.

Today I made Pea’s healthy food for the next month, which is sweet potato, broccoli, pepper, carrot and kale chopped and frozen into ice cube trays. This supplements her every day organic bird pellets and a couple of sunflower seeds or millet as a treat when she comes out to play.

It’s no big thing, but that was my task for the day and it felt good to be able to say ‘I said I was going to do this thing, and I did it’. I then told Pea that if we run out of food she better figure out how to start laying eggs, but I don’t think she was listening.

How long do you reckon it would take her to lay enough for an omelette?

Since I’m lucky enough to have a garden and the sun came out, I went outside to get some fresh air and take a few snaps.

Then came the news from my old consultant that her group is going to be one of the first in the country to start running virtual Image Therapy. Slimming World are going to charge roughly £2.50 per session, but you can attend as many or as few as you like without having to pay back fees. I told my consultant that if there’s space for me in one of her sessions to count me in, and I’ll also join my regular group in theirs. I’m still not paying any more than I would ordinarily, and I get to support more than one consultant.

Plus it would be REALLY NICE to see some different faces!

I’ve been staying on track with my eating not because of any particular willpower, but mainly through being sensible about using up what food I have. By the time I’m able to go out for supplies myself again, I have no idea what will be available. Another disclaimer: THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO PANIC BUY. THERE IS NOOOOOOOO FOOD SHORTAGE. IT IS OUR GREED THAT IS CAUSING THIS SITUATION!

There’s also the fact that I’ve almost completely lost my appetite, and I’m only eating once I feel a bit light-headed, or my tummy rumbles particularly loudly. Then I know it’s time to get some grub.

My only task for the rest of the day is to decide what I’m going to make tomorrow. I have a block of air-drying clay, so I want to decide what I’m doing with it before I open it. I’ll have to work quite quickly to stop it from drying out, so it’s best to be prepared. I’ll update you on that in the next post.

Stay safe, stay home if you can, and don’t buy all the things!

Hayley x