Too Happy

It’s been two very strange months since I last went walking just for the fun of it. Individually the days have flown by, but when I think back on that last walk on the 16th of March (with Newton, ah those were the days), it feels like a whole other life. It was an age ago, surely?

I’m still loving our garden, which is getting better every single day, but if it’s going to keep evolving I need outside input. This morning I got loads of inspiration after visiting the nature reserve.

First of all I drove for 20 minutes to a park where it would be much easier to social distance, but when I got there it was closed. After the recent easing of certain lockdown rules, it never occurred to me that a public park would still be shut. Of course I could have just climbed over the fence, who would stop me? But I’m too scared of getting told off! I drove all the way home again, but it was good for the car which has mostly been rusting on the driveway of late.

Despite having to faff a bit first thing, I still got to the nature reserve before 5:30am. Not bad going eh?

It seems I had the place to myself right up until the end of my walk, and feeling like you’re completely alone like that is a little bit magical.

How amazing is that? Wildflowers as far as the eye can see. This is just one field where the wildflowers have been left to grow – I can’t even imagine how many thousands upon thousands of plants there must be altogether. Beautiful.

I haven’t been out since I started learning the names of things, but because of my indoor researches today I was able to identify (to a reasonable degree of certainty) herb robert, yellow archangel, cow parsley, red campion, bluebells, greater stitchwort, iris, dog rose, honesty, speedwell, vetch, wood avens, yellow rattle, azalea and, best of all, what I think is an early purple orchid. It’s definitely an orchid of some kind in any case.

As if that were not enough excitement to be getting on with, I have a few things filed away that I’ll hopefully be able to identify at a later date. When I got home I ordered some of seeds of the flowers I saw that I want in the garden, so this time next year we’re going to have a riot of colour out there.

When I got home, I immediately noticed that the first icelandic poppy of the year had flowered while I’d been gone. That’s the first time I’ve ever wanted (or tried) to pinpoint when it flowered. The thing is almost the size of a bloody plate!

We have these along with Welsh poppies in the garden, but another plan for next year is to have loads of different varieties of them flowering at the same time in all different colours. Go big or go home, as they say.

Since I last wrote, I had my final counselling session. I have been discharged, because simply put, I am now too happy to qualify for their services. Well I ain’t complaining! I have discovered that I find therapy extremely useful and I fully intend to get private help by the end of the year. Yes, I’m fine now, but I think it would be helpful to have ongoing advice. For one I’d like to come off the anti-depressants at some point, but I especially struggle in the winter so it would be nice to have someone to help keep things on track. That’s the idea, anyhoo.

It’s so nice to allow myself to be happy and enjoy the moment without replaying the past or obsessing about the future. It makes simple tasks so much more fun. Yesterday I spent the afternoon putting stones in the ground around the cherry tree, which next year will be a huge circle of wildflowers. Some bird’s foot trefoil already made itself at home there, so I figure why not get it some company?

I can’t even begin to find the words to describe the pleasure I’m taking from such simple little things right now.

I did have a call from work this morning, and I’m officially due back in on the 15th of June, so there will be a new dynamic to get my head around. As long as I have the garden though, I have no doubt I’ll be fine.

Right, time to get outside I reckon!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Little Exposures and Some Artifacts

We’ve had some more laughs in our household this week. Well, I say we, but what I really mean is I have had some laughs, because I seem to have reverted to behaving like a 6-year-old. Eating well for a bit has not been going well. Onions don’t agree with me at the best of times, but when my brother excitedly announced his favourite Indian were still open for deliveries I couldn’t help asking him to order me a portion of bhajis. Not only have I been torturing my poor mother with my emissions (it’s been oh so hilarious), I’ve also been sending ‘voice notes’ to various friends and family. What’s more, I’ve had plenty of ‘voice notes’ in return, and it never fails to amuse. Weirdly, most people I’ve contacted seem to be entertained/downright impressed and I think I’ve spread some happiness along with my unearthly gasses.

If any of you were under the impression that I am at all mature or ladylike, I hate to break it to you but you are waaaaaay off the mark. Inside I am about 80% the most uncouthest of prepubescent boys, along with 20% elderly old lady.

As such, my love affair with the garden continues to develop. Is it just me who thinks of old people when they think of gardening? Perhaps it’s because my grandparents were into it in a major way. On the one side of the family I have memories of being allowed to pick a bunch of flowers from the garden once in a while. My favourites were marigolds, pansies and snapdragons (who doesn’t love a snapdragon I ask you?) On the other side, my nan would always be growing broad beans, which I loved to help pick and put through the bean stringer. It was a simple little plastic contraption with a number of blades in it that was incredibly satisfying to use, and it was almost as good as eating home grown strawberries straight from the garden with sugar and cream. Ok, maybe not quite as good.

Up until now I’ve found the concept of gardening way too overwhelming, but I’m learning to not overthink it and just go out and try, without worrying about doing stuff wrong. I will do stuff wrong, it’s inevitable. But I will learn more as I go along. I’m also absorbing loads of new information just by exposing myself to gardening and wildflower accounts online. Without realising, I’ve been putting away little nuggets of information which pop up when I least expect it.

The other day I was out digging up an immense thistle when I spotted a little purple flower hidden amongst the grass and weeds. See it?

I actually have no idea how I spotted it. Let’s get in a little closer…

Because of my gradual absorption of flower information, the word ‘speedwell’ popped into my head when I saw it. The pictures I’ve seen of speedwells so far are much, much bigger than this, but I was right. I’m pretty sure this is a wall speedwell, but the other varieties you are more likely to find in woods are indeed a lot bigger.

Yesterday I was out in the front garden, clearing up poop. The neighbour’s cats seem to love to use it as a toilet, and I can hardly complain since our cats use to go out and no doubt pooped all over the place.

Once the poop was removed, I stumbled across a wood sorrell, more tiny hairy bittercress, some sort of pupa plus a load of old rubbish, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Neither my phone or any lenses currently in my possession were suitable for taking pictures of tiny things, so I’ve been on something of a spending spree. This week a rather old, second-hand macro lens arrived. Because it’s old, it’s very noisy, so I won’t be creeping up on any animals with it. But for stuff that’s simply growing, it’s perfect.

As for the rubbish, when our estate was built the housing association started to run out of money by the time they got to our bit. To cut down on costs, instead of paying for the rubble to be taken away, they buried it. As you do.

This is what I’ve found so far this week:

I’ve decided to start making collections of things I find, which I’ll start to separate into plastic, metal, tile etc. One day I might make some sort of mosaic from the tile. I think that would be pretty cool.

This was inspired by one of my favourite Twitter accounts at the moment, @legolostatsea. In 1997, 5 million bits of lego fell into the sea, and it’s still being found to this day. I’m almost desperate to get to a beach and start collecting, well, rubbish, because not only does it sound like fun but it’s also helping clean up beaches. It’s a win-win.

In the meantime, I’ll just collect crap I find at home, which I’m really enjoying anyway. Have I just completely gone mad? That’s up to you to decide. Since I don’t appear to be a danger to myself or others, I’ve decided to just go with it. What’s the worst that can happen?

Because of my fantastic lens purchase, I can now show you my favourite weed. This is what I used to see – a pretty ordinary looking patch of… something.

It’s a red dead-nettle, and it’s so common you’d probably be able to find it yourself within ten minutes of leaving the house. But when you look closer…

It’s so beautiful and delicate. How have I never noticed that before? The things I’ve been growing myself are coming along nicely, I’m just waiting for the weather to perk up again before I transplant them into the garden.

Future plans include enticing hedgehogs and a pond, but I’ll write more about that another day. For now, me and my green fingers are done with typing for the day, and the plants demand to be watered.

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