Love Conkers All

Aha, I’m BACK! Where have I been you might ask?

I don’t rightly know.

In fact I didn’t realise just how far I’d wandered until I returned. I started feeling a bit more like myself last week, but as I said in my last post, part of me was waiting for it all to go wrong again. I certainly wasn’t going to be counting any chickens before they’d hatched, not this time.

But the weird old month of August did its thing – I set some boundaries, I accepted some things that couldn’t be changed, I stopped waiting for apologies and explanations that I knew wouldn’t come, and I started living for myself. It was like my inner self knew that it was safe to come back home.

Now we’re back together again we’re stronger than ever, and we are finally on the same page as far as weight loss goes. I might not be miserable where I am now, but I’m not prepared to settle for simply ‘not being miserable’. I can do be better than that. I can make a really good life for myself. Can and WILL.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much conflicted. I so, so want a world without diet culture, because there’s so much wrong with it. Most of us know that the vast majority of people who go down that road end up right back where they started or, worst case scenario, with a serious eating disorder. I know that my relationship with food is not a good one, and I know that as a dieter (especially one who does it in the public domain) I’m part of the problem.

Whenever I post a before and after picture, I’m sending out a subconscious message to everyone who still looks like my ‘before’ picture that they need to change. I’m making an assumption that because my life was horrible at that size, then theirs must be too. I don’t want to make people feel bad. I don’t want the way society views fat people to carry on as it is now.

On the other hand (and this is where I start myself running around in circles) I am SO GOSH DARN DETERMINED to get back to 12 stone 10 pounds and nothing will stop me doing that! I want to fit into my nice clothes that have become too small. I want to continue to take advantage of vastly more clothing options than I used to have. I want to continue to be able to find things that fit in charity shops. I JUST WILL NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.

I’m aware that I’m a hypocrite, but that’s just something I’ll have to accept about myself for now. That’s probably the least harsh thing I’ve thought about myself in recent times, so there’s progress there at least.

So it’s a new season, a new start, and autumn is coming in strong! I’m off work this week and I’ll be honest, I’m currently sitting in the garden wearing warm socks, a cosy cardigan, with a lovely glass of red wine at my side. The big push to get back to my target weight starts properly next week when I don’t have so much going on. Until then I’m simply refusing to give it too much headspace.

My disentanglement from my last post continues however, because despite what I’ve eaten I’ve still managed to hold on to the enormous value of going for a lovely walk. Typically if I’ve eaten rubbish I default to a ‘what’s the point’ attitude, but there’s always a point.

My most recent walk was intended as an experiment. I devised a new route that I think will take me about 45 minutes, but the last time I did it, it took me about an hour as I kept stopping to take photos.

What I want is a decent, shortish route that I enjoy walking so that I can do it every day and still fit in all of my arty pursuits, which I am loving with an absolute passion right now.

So Saturday morning, straight after work I told myself sternly – ‘no photos, ‘kay? Let’s just get a move on and see how long it takes’. 30 seconds later, however…

Well! I can’t be blamed, can I? It was a beautiful morning and there was so much to see! The route that took me an hour last time took me an hour-and-a-half this time round. Oh well, it’s not like the park is going anywhere.

I did nearly get stuck in a ditch trying to find my way into a field isn’t officially part of the park and that was full of early-morning mist. The sun was hitting it just perfectly, but I couldn’t get the shot. After escaping from the deceptively deep ditch, I took a detour thinking I could get through but I hit a dead end – a little cul-de-sac in the woodland with one special feature. A frikkin horse-chestnut tree!

I don’t find a decent conker in years then I stumble across this untouched treasure trove! Quite simply, I am winning at life.

As I mentioned before, my arty pursuits are becoming so much fun. Trying to make something used to exhaust me, because I always found it hard to push through the ‘ugh this is going to be sh*t’ moments. From what I can tell I think everyone has those. What I’ve found is that things always look a bit pants halfway through, so now I just accept it as part of the process.

Yesterday I spent all day making a really cool present for my brother. I’ll share that in a couple of weeks once his birthday has come and gone.

What I can share now is my journal progress which I’m oh so happy with! This morning I woke up at 3am, unable to get back to sleep, so I painted this whilst watching the new Netflix series of The Dark Crystal.

I absolutely adored those weird 80’s movies, whilst simultaneously being rather terrified of them. In fact David Bowie in Labyrinth used to scare the absolute bejaysus out of me and often I couldn’t watch it without my mum in the room. I kinda miss being that kind of scared of things, it was fun!

A few birdies later and it was time for a check up at the dentist, which is testament to how much better I’m being at taking care of myself. My check up was a year overdue, but thankfully no treatment is needed so after a clean I went on my merry way.

After that I went to visit an old work friend for coffee and a catch up, but I needed some serious nap time when I got home. Which again will leave me awake at stupid hours when I have another early start tomorrow. Ah well, what can you do? I’m taking my brother somewhere fun as a surprise, so more on that after the event.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Disentanglement

Although I’m not ready to jump straight into the world of intuitive eating, that doesn’t mean I haven’t considered some small and immediate changes I want to start making. It also doesn’t mean I haven’t been giving things a significant amount of thought. That’s kinda my thing you see, chronic over-thinker for sure. As long as my thoughts aren’t going round in circles and I’m making progress though, I can deal with that particular character trait.

What I’ve started doing is untangling the mess that is my current view of what my health means to me. The problem is, the threads of diet culture are mixed right up in there, and it’s going to take a while to separate them. There are a fair few knots to undo.

My first priority is to isolate my reasons for eating healthily that have nothing to do with weight loss. If I were giving intuitive eating a proper go, then I’d have to put weight loss completely out of my mind, however I’ve already established I’m definitely not ready for that. What is clear though is that my increasing weight is not enough of a motivator to stop my binge eating behaviours.

What I’ve been doing then is thinking about my other reasons, and it turns out they’re pretty damn solid as reasons go!

    Smells. When I eat a lot of rubbish, my tummy goes wrong. TMI? Undoubtedly, however you guys know I keep it real on here as much as I can. I’ve eaten well for just under 48 hours and already this windy situation has drastically improved (much to the relief of my poor family).
    Indigestion. It only takes one day of me eating well for any heartburn/indigestion to completely disappear.
    Mood. Healthy food helps with a healthy mood!
    Taste. I really love fruits and vegetables. I genuinely don’t think there’s a person on earth who is as into kale as I am. So when I’m eating rubbish I have no idea why I don’t include lovely veg in my meals. I want to think about what I genuinely enjoy rather than how I can use something sugary to self-medicate my depression.
    Sleep. When I eat better, my sleep quality is better. If I’m having trouble getting off I can send myself into a ‘sugar coma’, however a good sleep that does not make. Afterwards I’ll wake up after a short, restless sleep with my heart pounding and feeling like it’s trying to escape my chest.
    Skin quality. Crappy food means crappy skin, and lots of really itchy, painful spots that get redder and sorer without breaking the surface of the skin.
    Energy. The more crap I eat, the more lethargic I feel, the more I crave a sugar fix, the longer the cycle continues.

As you can see that’s more than enough to be getting on with! At the same time I’m going to switch to weighing myself on the first Monday of every month, starting in October. I’m going to try really hard not to weigh myself at all until then. I’m tired of being a slave to the scales, but I also want to keep an eye on things to a certain extent.

If I can do this (and I’m sure I can) I think it will reinforce the above reasons for eating well rather than waiting for affirmation from the scales. This way I hope to be more in touch with how I’m actually feeling. All the while I’ll keep reading and learning more about intuitive eating on the whole, building up my knowledge for when I take my next step.

Since this morning was the first time I managed to control myself whilst going to the shops straight after work in over a MONTH, I’m feeling very positive about it all. I thought about what I actually wanted to eat, and it turned out to be a big juicy orange!

I’d tentatively say that things are on the up, since I feel better than I have done in months, but I’m also staying alert and looking out for signs that it’s another false start. I don’t think it is though.

I think that’s enough reflection for one day. I’ve been out for a few walks lately and plan to go straight from work tomorrow morning, but despite the heatwave of the last few days there are definite signs of autumn in the air.

My plan is to get out walking as many times a week as possible from now on, because last year (and every year now I think of it) I’ve failed to find a single conker. This is unacceptable. Since autumn is so gosh darn beautiful, I’ll be recording as much of it as possible in my journal, which I’m completely addicted to.

I won my current journal in a YouTube competition, perhaps two or three years ago, and I’ve only just figured out the style of journaling that works for me. It took trial and error to find out what I like, but better late than never, eh?

This week’s theme is ‘garden birds’, and I’m copying (emulating?) a wonderful artist by the name of Matt Sewell. I have his book ‘Our Garden Birds’ but I never looked through it properly until now. In fact I have a few birdy art books I’ve never dedicated any proper time to.

It’s good practice, and Mr Sewell is SO TALENTED. At the beginning of the book it explains about jizz (is that a rude term in your neck of the woods? Because it certainly is in mine!)

In the bird world it refers to capturing the overall ‘vibe’ of a bird, and I doubt anyone does it as beautifully or simply as this particular artist.

I haven’t felt this inspired to keep up with my art since I was doing my GCSE at school. I got an A* by the way, one of the things I’m still very proud of to this day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a much more positive blog than I’ve been posting of late – I’m sure I enjoyed having the opportunity to write something truly happy for a change!

Until next time,

Hayley x

Uncharted Territories

I’m not entirely sure where to begin with this here post. I feel like I have travelled enormous distances these past few weeks, and from here on in we venture into the unknown. It’s scary, and exciting.

I’ve changed so much in the last 18 months. At my core I’m still the same, as a wonderful friend pointed out to me. Perhaps neither of us knew it at the time, but I felt like I was drowning and she threw me a lifeline. I still have the same core values – I may mess up, and I may have messed up more frequently and severely lately than ever before in my life, but I’m still me and I still want the same things. I want to be the best version of me that I can, and I want to be happy. I want the people I love to be happy too. That’s it in a nutshell.

I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads, because the best version of me no longer equals the slimmest version of me.

One of the ways I’ve changed a lot relates to dieting, and because of that Slimming World is no longer a good fit for me. I have much to be thankful for, such as incredible friends I may not have met otherwise. That’s the most important thing to me of all. The support at Slimming World is great, but with around 50 people attending a group it’s understandable that you can only delve so deep. After all, consultants aren’t trained as psychologists. Even if they were they aren’t there for full-on emotional support, and although most I’ve met would do it in a heartbeat it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of them.

I’ve scratched the surface, but I have a lot more work to do. A Slimming World group just isn’t the place for me to grow anymore, as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I’ve been going for the best part of three years now, and trying to force myself to carry on when I don’t want to has been having a negative effect. I felt guilty because I didn’t want to abandon my friends, I felt scared I was using it as an excuse to abandon my diet, and I felt trapped because deep down I really didn’t want to be there. In the end the new part of me, the one I’ve been nurturing for a while, decided that I was just going to do what was right for me. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’ve been thinking about learning how to eat intuitively for a while now, because there are a whole bunch of people out there learning how to have lives free from diet culture. It’s possible to be happy, and whole. It takes a long time, but it can be done. I can barely even imagine it, but I want it. I want it bad.

However, I know I’m not ready yet. Intuitive eating isn’t about weight loss, and I want to get my recent gains off, for good. Ordinarily as soon as I feel happier or resolve something that’s been bothering me, I jump straight back on the wagon and get on with things. Since a lot has been bothering me lately, I figured I’d got the taste for the sweet stuff and needed to go cold turkey, but no matter how good I felt or how much I filled up on healthy food, I couldn’t seem to get it together.

This last week I’ve had a few downs, but now I feel good. Not just good, SUPER GOOD. So why then, do I still feel truly, ravenously, tummy-achingly hungry ALL THE FRIKKIN TIME? I normally feel a bit like this when I’m hormonal, but it never lasts for this length of time.

I just couldn’t understand it.

I decided to spend a few days just eating what I wanted whenever I wanted, whilst trying to gauge my feelings and cravings as an outsider. To just be an observer, and not be invested in what was happening. There was no need to feel guilt, or worry about gaining weight. It was an experiment. Weight gain would just be an interesting data point to analyse.

I didn’t worry or fret about the results, and do you know what happened? I only went and figured it out. It was a genuine facepalm moment. I went back to check my dates and weight history to check I was right.

Yup.

It’s the flipping anti-depressants messing with my appetite, I’m sure of it!

Now what I feel is sweet, sweet relief. If you don’t know what the problem is how can you fix it? But now I have something I can change! I have to consider my options. Am I ready to come off of the pills now I’ve removed so many damaging things from my life? Shall I go the doctor to ask about trying a different medication where I may get different side effects? Something else I haven’t thought of yet? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that there is hope. In any case I’m not taking my mental health lightly and I’m waiting for a referral to come through for some kind of counselling, so I’ll still be getting help.

When I thought about intuitive eating I never thought it could ever work for me, not when my body was screaming at me that we really, really wanted a tub of Ben & Jerry’s even though we’d just eaten a pizza, a load of garlic bread, plus 3 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. That’s six slices of bread on top of what is already a significant amount of pizza dough! I’m pretty sure that in such cases the body is not to be trusted.

But if my body returns to sending me proper signals again that I can tune into, then one day I can be free. Free from a lifetime of trying to shrink. Free from points or Syns or macros. I used to think such thoughts meant I was deluded, that such a thing couldn’t be done. That the balance I’ve yearned for all these years could never be attained. In the meantime the evidence keeps mounting up that it yes it can!

As such I now begin a new chapter of my life and I’m absolutely ready for it! As I mentioned before, I still intend to get these gains off, which is going to take a lot of hard work whilst I feel like my tummy is a huge, gaping hole that can never be filled. While I’m doing that my plan is to learn, learn and learn some more, along with feeding my soul with books, art, friends, family and experiences. In other words, with life.

Before I sign off I’ll briefly return to the ordinary kind of blogging where I ramble on about everyday life a little bit. After a few years now of falling in love with nature, I’d say I’m more attuned to it than most. I’m pretty good at spotting things others might miss.

Perhaps that’s why, at work last night, I spotted a small-yet-perfectly-formed mushroom growing out of the wall outside the toilets. It was absolutely thriving in some seepage leaking out between a crack on the wall and the floor, though I dread to imagine the exact nature of said seepage.

As such today’s journal page was dedicated to mushrooms, though the work one was not as exciting as those shown here. They are all drawn from pictures of mushrooms I found myself whilst out and about.

I then spent a ridiculous amount of time going through my photo albums. Even with some relatively nice experiences I’ve had over the last year many of my photos had bad, bad memories attached to them. I was conflicted for a while, thinking that if I removed them it wasn’t an ‘honest’ record of my time.

I then realised it was stupid to hang on to things that hurt me, and when I looked back over what remained for 2018, my year clearly was not nearly the write-off I thought it had been. There was plenty of good stuff to look back on and I ended the exercise feeling a whole lot better.

No more hanging on to the bad stuff, it’s time to move on.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

City Limits

Before I get into things I’m so pleased I can finally share the below picture. It has now been received by Mr Daveywankenobie and partner so I can show you what is possibly the loveliest thing I’ve ever made.

Although I haven’t met said partner yet she seems absolutely wonderful, and I couldn’t have made something that adorable without their relationship as inspiration. #relationshipsgoals right there, and whilst in general it’s not helpful to compare yourself to others, I refuse to settle for anything less than what they have in future. Because I’m worth it! Check out Davey’s recent blog post on that very subject in fact -it’s a good ‘un.

Today I’m still feeling upbeat after a lovely day out with my little sister yesterday. Since she’s off work for an obscene amount of time (bloody teachers!) it has now become tradition for us to go to London for tasty treats every summer holiday.

We headed to Camden because we wanted to go somewhere from our extensive list of vegan places to try, and that’s where Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner happens to be situated.

It wasn’t open for a while (we like to start early) so we had a mosey around Camden. First up was the garden centre, which puts the measly little sections you get at B&Q and Homebase to shame. I’m fast transitioning to a plant lady, so I thought I’d get some inspiration.

Look at that. Actual olives on trees!

Then we went into Cyberdog which I’ve seen from the outside many times, but my sister, who has been in before, suggested I give it a go.

It’s full of flashing lights and neon rave attire, but the most interesting part is the downstairs section. Unfortunately no photography is allowed in that part, but let’s just say it’s not every day your sister takes you to a sex shop. Camden never ceases to surprise!

Changing the subject briefly, apart from being worried about letting my friend down when I photograph his wedding, I was also feeling worried about what I’d wear since I’ve put on weight. I don’t feel comfortable in anything I have already so I’ve been on the lookout for something in a larger size for the occasion. I also didn’t want to put pressure on myself to attempt losing a large amount of weight before the 7th of September. That kind of thing never works out for me.

It felt like admitting defeat though, and I wasn’t feeling great about it.

Since I like vintage-style things, my sister pointed out a clothes shop called Collectif. We went inside and they had so much stuff I liked. I picked up a few things to try on, but when I came across a beautiful blue lace dress everything else went by the wayside. This was the one.

I tried it on and I felt fabulous. I didn’t even care that it says it’s a size 18, which I haven’t bought for a long time. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a number! What matters is it fit me properly and has a beautiful swishy skirt that is so much fun to twirl in.

On the label it said reduced from £125 to £43.75, but when I got to the checkout they applied a further reduction. I paid just £31.20 for this gorgeous piece of clothing. Sweet!

After a coffee the diner was finally open so we filled our tummies full of vegan junk. I had a burger and a peanut butter ‘milkshake’ while my sister went for the hotdog. It was all sooooo good, but the milkshake was heaven.

We absolutely had to go to Doughnut Time, because they ramped up their Biscoff doughnut (now called the David Hassel-Biscoff) and I’ve been hankering to try it ever since.

It was just the absolute best. I’ve never had anything like it before, but there’s so much sugar in there it’s probably best I only have one a year. Much more delicious and hefty than the last Biscoff doughnut I had.

After picking up some art supplies for an art day me and the sister have planned in the coming weeks, I was all Londoned out. After a while all the people start to get to me and I hit my limit, so we got ourselves back home just in time. It all worked out perfectly.

Although I ate a lot of junk yesterday, it’s a whole different ball game to a binge. It’s a case of eating junk because it’s delicious and I’m enjoying time with my sister, rather than shoving down crap because I feel sad and I’m trying, desperately trying, to smother my real feelings with food. It doesn’t exactly feel like that when I’m doing it, but when I consider what happened afterwards it feels like that’s what was going on.

Today I feel in control, and whilst I have a planned meal out this evening I’m not tempted to eat a pile of rubbish beforehand. This is a very good thing, because ordinarily it would be the perfect excuse. ‘Well I’m being naughty later so what’s the point in being good now?’

None of that today though. I’m too busy getting my s**t together and generally feeling good. No time for any nonsense!

The coming days are going to be good ones. Even though I’m back at work.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

A Rock and a Hard Place

For some months I’ve been spending too much time with people who set great store by someone’s physical appearance. I’ve met people who I thought were quite nice only for a Facebook status to pop up saying something like obese people are a waste of space and should euthanised. They are of course now blocked, and although I am totally, passionately opposed to these kinds of views, because of the way I tend to put myself down, hearing/reading such things chipped away at my self-worth alarmingly quickly.

When I removed myself from that environment I found that a lot of my motivation to lose weight lately has been to keep others happy. Or perhaps it’s more a case of subconsciously trying to gain their approval, now I look back on it. When I came back to my senses, I took the brakes off and ate EVERYTHING, and I haven’t stopped since. This alone would be problematic, but since eating rubbish does nothing to help depression, my mood has plummeted. On top of that I’ve slipped back into binge eating behaviours with absolute ease, I feel like a failure, I need to retain some confidence to photograph my friend’s wedding and I’m terrified of letting him down. Every time that particular thought comes to mind I find myself back at the fridge door.

The rock is me knowing that my self-worth doesn’t stem from my weight or size, so I’ll eat what I want, right? The hard place is knowing that I’m not at a point yet where I can stop following a plan and just be a bit more relaxed – instead I immediately develop a huge problem with disordered eating.

I know, I know deep down that I want to be 12 stone 10 pounds. I want it for me, only for me, and I will stop at nothing to get there. I’ve had so many doubts about this lately, and in the back of my head I’ve been trying to think of a way out other than admitting that the only way I’ll get to where I want to be is by facing up to the mess I’ve made of the last year-and-a-half and starting over.

Well, not entirely over, I’m still 6.5 stone down from when I started, but you know what I mean.

I’m not going to make promises, because I’ve made promises to myself every day this week and I’ve broken every single one. I’m out with my sister tomorrow for vegan eats in the city, and I’m out for a meal Tuesday for my dad’s birthday. Once they are done with all I can do is try my hardest to truly have a fresh start.

Except I also have other events dotted around up until the 10th of September, and I don’t cope well with having things in the pipeline. After then I’m not making any plans unless they involve coffee, walking or art, all of which I can do with my favourite people. I’m going to do this, I know I’ll never be satisfied till I do.

It hasn’t been all bad though. Today I started my Christmas shopping record-breakingly early, although that was not my intention when I left the house this morning.

My brother and I went to seek out antiques, and that’s just what we found, at Battlesbridge Antiques Centre. There are loads of different traders there, but they were all much of a muchness. Antiques dealers are FLIPPING WEIRD. I found them all invariably unwelcoming, there were all kinds of odd smells that cannot be attributed simply to old stuff, and it was mostly junk that was waaaaay overpriced. Most strange of all was that they didn’t seem to want you to buy anything.

I overheard some people discussing whether their business would take off, while standing in the doorway blocking access to potential customers and ignoring people in the vicinity who clearly wanted to come in. We found this a lot, especially in the spaces that were especially cramped. Either the dealers wouldn’t let you in, or we couldn’t find them. It’s like… we would like to give you some money please?

If proof of strangeness is needed, consider this:

Definitely odd. It certainly wasn’t a wasted trip because as I say I managed to stumble across a present that a friend of mine will love, I took my brother to the motorbike museum (he’s a total bike nut) and I found a great place that my nerd friends will love. I shall take them all there one day, though perhaps not at the same time.

Behold, the Nerd Base!

Inside the Thundercats theme song was playing on a loop, there’s a life size model of Deadpool and I found loads of 80’s toys I’d forgotten I even had back in the day. Wicked!

As for buying old stuff I shall stick to the charity shops because to be quite honest I tend to find more interesting things in them than anywhere else. You just have to keep looking. Plus the staff are way nicer (and also actually in the shop).

In between the search for bargains, I really will keep trying to get it together. I’ll never give up!

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…

Never Simple

Is this it now? Am I healing? For the last few weeks my sadness has been pressing on my chest like a physical weight. It actually hurt. But then yesterday and the day before that I started feeling better. Every time I think I’m on the up however, I come crashing down again. I wish there was a simple answer, like THIS is the thing that’s making you feel bad. Fix it and all will be well! If only.

Will it all be for naught once my monthly arrives again? (They seem to be getting worse lately, I’ll have to speak to the doctor about that). Will my cravings, which have subsided a bit over the last few days, come back with a vengeance? I have to carry on as if they won’t, because the only way is forward.

I know I’m on the up because I’ve been tidier and more organised, and I’ve been creative without feeling like a bag of poo. I started a little project last week and loved it at the start. Then I lost my way and almost gave up completely, until yesterday when I decided to give it another shot. I kept looking at it thinking ‘I can’t do it, everything I do is rubbish’.

What happened was that I wound up having a fabulous art session. I put a film on Netflix to have on in the background but hardly looked up. I spent three hours in the end, fixing what I wasn’t happy with, trying something different for the bits that weren’t working out. I’m delighted with the end result and can’t wait to share it with you, but it has to reach the recipient first. It won’t be long I promise.

I think what changed is that, although it was always intended to be given to someone, I stopped thinking that way and did it for the joy of it, for the process, rather than thinking it had to be perfect. It’s far from perfect, but I still love it.

Petrie the little blue house guest has now gone home after causing havoc. Just after the above picture was taken she stole my earring out of my ear and wouldn’t give it back. How she even did it I have no idea, because I find them quite difficult to get out! Then it disappeared and I was terrified, thinking she’d swallowed it, but luckily I found it under the newspaper in her cage. Phew! I put the earring back in and didn’t think anything of it until I took it out to clean.

The little cow! Please excuse the state of my fingers by the way, I got clothes dye on them. I’ve decided to keep my mullered earring because firstly they’re so small you can’t tell unless you look really closely, and secondly I think it’s super adorable to go around with her little beak imprints. I just love her, even if she is a bloody menace.

Bird time goes especially well with journaling, which I’ve got right back into in a major way. Pea is hardly ever quiet but when we’re sitting together with me working on my bits and bobs she’s good as gold. I’ve been using my bullet journal more like a traditional diary but also adding little ten-minute sketches, to illustrate something out of my day. Such as when Petrie visited…

And when a colleague handed me a dead moth at work…

I actually love how it’s just accepted now that I’m a bit odd, and that when someone finds a dead thing they’ll bring to to me because they know I’ll be interested.

Poor headless elephant hawk moth. On this occasion it isn’t as weird as it seems. A work friend has recently got a tattoo so I sent him a picture of my brother’s tattoo of this moth. He had no idea something like that could be found in the UK, then lo and behold one turns up at work a few days later! How cool would it be to see a live one though. Of course I took it home to show my little bro, adding it to the list of other insects I’ve rescued from work, including the live ladybird that I released into our front garden.

Right now I have to crack on because I have an important delivery coming tomorrow -a hideous 70’s wall unit that I have big renovation plans for. It’s going to be AWESOME. Plus it was only £20 from the charity shop. I just need to move everything around first to accommodate it!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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

Crisis

On Wednesday I went for a lovely walk straight from work, at 6 in the morning. My idea was to do my exercise before it got too hot, and I must say as ideas go It was one of my better ones. It was 22 degrees when I finished work and by the time I’d finished my walk I was melting.

The light at that time of the morning was beautiful – all hazy, golden and lovely. I added a bit of contrast to these photos but that’s all, it really was that pretty.

My knee has been playing up again, so after this walk I decided to rest up for a few days. This coincided with that insanely hot Thursday, so as far as having to take a break goes I couldn’t have timed it better.

On Thursday just breathing made me sweat, and since I couldn’t get to sleep if my life depended on it, I decided to use my time productively. One thing I want to work on for the rest of the year is cracking on with my ‘to read’ pile and reducing the clutter said pile contributes to. In that respect I failed miserably.

I decided to start with an easy read, something I could get through in a single afternoon. It came in the form of Things are what you make of them: life advice for creatives by Adam Kurtz.

I bought it after seeing a few snippets on Instagram that were really helpful, but this was in June 2018 and I hadn’t picked it up once since it was delivered. Apart from to move it from one untidy spot to the next over the course of a year that is.

Mental barrier number one: am I really creative enough to be called ‘a creative?’ Well Hayley, it’s not like anyone is checking. You didn’t have to present your Hobbycraft loyalty card as evidence before making the purchase. And what exactly are you doing right now? That’s right. Blogging. Is it not a creative process? And please tell me, when was the last time you went out and didn’t end up on your hands an knees trying to get the best angle for a photo? Some time in 2015 perhaps? That’s right. So just shut up and read the damn book.

What became immediately apparent is that I’m never giving away this book because it’s just too damn useful. It’s not groundbreaking advice -it doesn’t tell you how to live your life, but it got me thinking about the right things and gave me a whole bunch of timely reminders.

This is quite handy, as I appear to be in the midst of a mid-life/existential crisis and could use a bit of direction.

The problem is, I don’t know who I am any more. Going back to who I was isn’t an option either, because I’ve changed too much. She doesn’t exist. I don’t really know what I want or what makes me happy any more – I need to figure it out from scratch. Trying to do that has left my head swimming. I can’t seem to pin down a single thought or make a concrete decision.

What’s more, I no longer trust my own instincts. For a long time now I’ve had the wrong motivations but haven’t been able to figure that out until after I’ve made a terrible mistake. Attempting to question whether I’m doing the right things now have basically paralysed me into inaction. Doing nothing is also not an option, because I’m not happy and want to change things. So how do I know if I’m going to change them for better or for worse? Well I don’t. Does anyone, ever? I don’t know… Asking people for advice is good, and I have people in my life who will give me tough love and honest answers, but I can’t rely on them to make every decision for me. If only it were that simple.

So I’m trying to break it down.

Let’s start with the biggie, but the one most likely to have a simple answer:

Do I still want to lose weight?

Well yes of course! And also, no, I really don’t! Ah, so not so simple after all. The problem is, all of a sudden I am so totally and utterly sick to death of thinking about my weight and what I’m eating. To lose a large amount of weight I think that (for me at least) it was necessary to give it all of my focus to keep that momentum going. But it’s been a long old time since I started – 3 years ago in the next couple of days, in fact – and I’ve had enough.

I believe there will be a time in my life when I am able to intuitively eat well without thinking much about it. In a way I’m already there, because I know the theory well enough, but there’s something in me that goes utterly bonkers as soon as I consider not sticking to a rigid plan. I tell myself I’m ‘just going to eat sensibly’, and before I know it I’ve eaten two tubs of Ben & Jerry’s in one day. It’s been literally years since my eating was this bad.

There are three options I’ve been considering, and the last week or so my brain has been switching from one option to the next over and over, round and round in circles till I’m ready to tear my hair out in frustration.

I could stay the weight I am, call target and work on maintaining. I’ve been interested in the Body Positivity movement for some time now, and whilst my attitude towards other peoples bodies has changed dramatically, for the better, my attitude towards my own has been a lot tougher. So maybe I’m not ready for this after all, as much as I want to be.

Next up, I could go slow. Maybe add an additional Healthy Extra to my daily plan with perhaps a few extra Syns weekly. Still lose weight, but something in the region of half a pound a week. Don’t get too obsessed over things, just let it happen over time. As soon as I consider this rather sensible compromise, I panic. Because it’s in the realms of the unknown, and it’s scary.

Or… just stick to effing plan and lose what, this time 3 years ago, would have seemed an utterly insignificant 1 stone 9 pounds. Just stop whining, get to target and stop feeling bad that it’s taken you this long when it should have been in the bag months, if not years ago.

My consultant asked me last night, ‘on a scale of one to ten, how important is getting to target to you?’ I paused to think about it and answered, ‘an eleven’. So really that tells me I should take the third plan of action, however I am feeling very much like a rebellious teenager and my inner thoughts are saying ‘NO! I DON’T WANNA!

Do you know what though? I just gotta. Well, kinda. My summer plan is something between options two and three, because I have fun times planned with the siblings -things I want to let my hair down for, plus a wedding to go to. The wedding isn’t too much of a problem, because as official photographer I’ll be snapping away all day and night, apart from the sit-down meal. So it’s not going to be the major blow-out such an event would have been once upon a time. If I drink, the not-so-happy couple may well get 500 out-of-focus shots with my finger in each one, which would not go down too well.

So, back to the book I read. It has fab advice for creatives, but a lot of it is also helpful for life in general.

Am I mentally ready to move forward? Maybe not just yet, but I’m working on it.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my life, and one thing always pops back to the surface without fail. I want to start my own business doing creative things. As I’ve found recently, something like that is just too overwhelming for me, so I’ve decided to break it down into steps.

First of all I considered what my motivations are. For me, it’s that I like making stuff, but I struggle to make stuff unless I have a purpose. Also, if I keep making things then what the hell am I going to do with them? Especially as I’m desperately trying to declutter. My answer then, is to sell the things.

In the meantime, I want to get better at the things. At school I absolutely loved filling in sketch book after sketch book, so phase one is to just practice and have fun, learn and enjoy. I’m not thinking past that point until I’m ready.

I’m also going to decorate and have a properly complete room for the first time in my life. It’s only recently, after getting my POANG chair in fact, that I realised how much my environment affects my mood and productivity. Once I had a place I was comfortable to hang out (and oh boy is it comfortable!) I was so much more content to sit and doodle. With Pea on my shoulder of course.

In order to fund the first part of my renovations I’ve decided not to take any unpaid early finishes from work until the next pay cut-off point, which is the 10th of August. Last week I did a full week for the first time in months, and weirdly it just occurred to me that I found it easier than usual. I didn’t even have a single energy drink last week.

Huh. I suppose it ain’t all doom and gloom after all!

As usual I feel better after untangling my thoughts in a blog post. I left this post to simmer during the day while I went out for shopping and lunch with my sister. We started at IKEA where I got some REALLY cool stuff for my room (more on that in the future, this post is getting LONG) and ended up in Wagamama for lunch where I tried the ‘vegan egg’.

The dish is 10.5 syns and it was nice, but I couldn’t help looking over longingly at my sister’s bowl of ramen. However I am glad I tried it, because I’ve been meaning to since it came out and I would have always wondered…

After a nap I can tell you that I’m ready to crack on with Slimming World now. If a shopping trip tells me anything it’s how important it is to me to reach my target. I saw so many nice things that I’d feel so much more comfortable in with another stone or so off, so that’s what I’m going to do. Get to flipping target and wear the nice clothes!

Thanks for reading this excessively long post,

Hayley x

Responsibility

What with one thing or another, when my week off work came around I felt that it was desperately needed. What I forgot, since I was wrapped up in all kinds of different thoughts, is that I don’t do well with that much time to myself.

I’m not going to be hard on myself, because I got more done than I usually do and that’s an achievement. A massive room sort, lovely time hanging out with Pea, seeing friends, quality sibling time, walking loads, binge-watching Stranger Things, taking time to read… but I always feel sad by the end of the week and wish I hadn’t booked so much time off in one go. Long weekends are the best breaks for me, I just need to remember that.

Although I do have a whole week booked off in September there’s not really much I can do about that. In the first half of the week I’m camping with my brother, and in the second half I’m photographing my friend’s wedding. I’m starting to get a little nervous about that, but they’re the good kind of nerves. It’s something I’ve never done before but for once in my life I’m not actually doubting my abilities. Well that’s a weird feeling!

Since I’ll be so fully occupied I doubt I’ll have time to feel sad.

As far as eating goes, I have been eating all the things, but miraculously I have still hovered within a few pounds of the 14 stone mark. My body seems to be really happy at that weight, and I can easily maintain it whilst having a really unhealthy diet. I could call target right now and ‘live my best life’. Is that what I want though? Is my definition of my best life one where I settled for less than I wanted? Do I want to keep up with what could easily escalate into an uncontrollable binge/purge cycle? Maybe once, but not now.

I’ve been so unsure of myself lately. I’ve been stuck in a rut, especially as far as Slimming World goes, and I’ve felt boredom settling in. I spoke to my sister yesterday about perhaps stopping my membership for a few weeks, then I thought it through on my own. Then I got another opinion from a trusted friend, and eventually figured out what it is I actually want and need.

I need a fresh start, that’s for sure, and I’d absolutely love to have my old consultant Amanda helping me get to target. Now I’m just a plain ole member again I’m free to switch to her group if I wish, but I feel bad about leaving my existing group.

Y’know what? I’m sick to death of feeling bad. I can be miserable and guilty where I am, or I can change things and be happy in the long term. I have to remind myself – I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYONE ELSE. I feel the most ridiculous amount of responsibility, so much more than anyone would probably guess. There’s someone at work with a poorly family member. I don’t even know him that well at all but when talking to him about it I felt guilty that I didn’t know how to make him feel better. That’s just… stoopid! Most of the time just being a friendly ear is enough.

I was reading this post from Elsie from A Beautiful Mess about how she changed her life, and although she wasn’t giving advice, simply sharing her experience, I was inspired to do something similar.

I had a pretty notebook with no particular function, so rather than let it sit there gathering dust I’ve used it to list a whole bunch of stuff I want to change, do and work on. There’s no time limit, though in general I’m thinking along the lines of the remainder of the year, and my plan is to just flip through it and decide which thing to do next.

Some will take longer than others as I’ll need money (such as re-carpeting most of the house) but others are simpler, like making a doctor’s appointment I’ve been putting off or not ripping pages out of my sketch book if something isn’t ‘good enough’. I think it’ll be a fun, useful and eye-opening project.

So, a plan of action. I’m back at work tonight which always makes eating healthy easier too, so back on plan it is. It’s soooooo hot this week, I’m going on my walks straight from work so I don’t get burnt to a crisp, and I’ll go to my group next week and explain to them I’ll be moving on after that. Simple, right?

Now I’m hanging out in the garden until it’s time for my pre-work nap.

Bye for now!

Hayley x