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

Unsettled

I didn’t do anything creative with my block of clay after all. When I began my self-isolation last Tuesday, the advice for the time was for everyone in the household to stay home for 14 days. That has now changed. Because I was the first to develop a cough, as of today I can now leave the house. Well, to a certain extent.

Since I found this out, which was on Saturday I think, I just haven’t been able to settle enough to do much at all. On the one hand, I’m really looking forward to going back to work and seeing the faces of some of my bestest friends. But I don’t think there’s any such thing as a straightforward feeling these days. Apart from looking forward to seeing people, I also feel immense guilt because there are others who won’t see another face for who even knows how long.

Above all else though, there’s fear. Fear of what I might pick up at work and bring back home to my family. Just quitting my job of 11 years has seriously crossed my mind, and I feel disgusted with myself that I’m not brave enough to tell work to stick it. Even if we were dealing with food I’d be ok with going in, but it seems like absolute madness to be dealing with curtains and toasters and microwaves at a time like this. Am I risking the lives of others so people can still get their lawnmowers?

Somehow, incredibly, I am classed as a key worker. When it was announced yesterday that the UK is now taking measures to keep people indoors I was relieved. Until I saw the list of exceptions that is, now I am just as scared as ever.

I don’t think these measures are enough. The trains are still packed. I work in just one warehouse of 500 people that’s still allowed to operate. Imagine how many more there must be throughout the UK. How can this be right?

I’m in work tonight, and I will speak to my manager about perhaps doing a reduced work week, which the company are considering. I figure, the less I’m in contact with other people, the less risk I pose to my family. It’s some sort of middle ground I guess. I’ll worry about the loss of earnings some other time.

ANYWAY, I have been able to find little bits of joy in my days. My sister had to bring her car over yesterday as a mobile mechanic needed to do some urgent work to it on our driveway.

I didn’t see her at all (social distancing people!) but Newton was in the garden so I stuck my head out of the window to say hello. He looked at me quizzically for a moment then carried on with some very important sniffing business, but it was lovely to see him all the same.

Then next door’s dog came out, and wanted to get in on the action. I don’t think this doggo was impressed though. I got a few woofs telling me to go back inside.

Then later on there was my first virtual Slimming World group, and do you know what? I loved it. I got my laptop out and got it functioning (I hadn’t even turned it on for over a year) and got to see the faces of my old fellow group members.

It’s not even about the weight loss. For me it’s something solid that I can focus on and look forward to every week, when everything else is going tits up all around me. Some people don’t have home scales, so they are just focusing on non-scale victories. Of course we have reduced control over what food is available right now as well, and we’re just concentrating on making the best of it. I highly recommend it!

Despite barely moving over the last week, I still managed to lose 1.5 pounds. My goal for March was to get back into the 15 stone bracket, and now I’m 15 stone 6 pounds and there’s one more weigh in left this month.

I’m glad I didn’t get any ‘treats’ with our last online shop, because I know I would have found it hard to resist. As it is I find myself in a situation where I’m saving my last tin of beans for a ‘special occasion’. Blimey, life has become so strange!

That’s it for me for today then. Thanks for reading, and in the words of Jerry Springer, take care of yourselves and each other.

Hayley x

Five Years

It’s been a bit longer than I intended between blog posts. While things have been quite wonderful, I’ve also had a bit of writer’s block. Things have really shifted for me over the last couple of weeks, however on the face of things not much has really happened. It’s hard to put into words.

Last week I really started getting my energy back. Whilst my medication makes me pretty much unconscious as soon as I take it, when I am awake, I’m really awake. I hadn’t realised how much of a monumental effort it was taking me just to exist until things started getting better.

Somehow I managed to stay on top of things as far as work goes (although I have lost a significant amount of money in unpaid leave in order to not lose the plot entirely) and have had a good enough performance to hit my targets and stay out of trouble.

But now… I’m actually smashing it! Last week I was top driver on the department. Everything is just kind of flowing, and it feels good having a spring in my step again as I jump (not quite literally) on and off of the forklift truck a hundred or so times a shift.

When I had to transfer stock over by hand to an empty pallet, I’d inwardly groan if I saw that it was particularly heavy. Now when I see I’ve got to haul a load of 20kg boxes, I’m glad for the opportunity to flex my muscles. It feels good to feel good to move, if that makes sense.

I feel like I’ve spent most of the year so far horizontal, which probably isn’t far from the truth. During February I barely moved at all in fact. Now I’m coming out of hibernation.

On Monday I walked into town for the first time since I don’t even remember when. Apart from to exercise, I had one single other objective- to pick up a free paper from Wilkinson’s. I use them to line Pea’s cage and catch the poops you see. Of course that is the one thing I came home without. Typical.

I did however see some lovely signs of spring, even if it was a grey old day.

The next day Newton came out on a nice long walk with me. It’s the first time we’ve been out walking together, just the two of us, and it was lovely to have a furry companion. He had a great time too, even if he was thoroughly disappointed that I wouldn’t let him eat goose poo. He loves the stuff. He was also not impressed that I wouldn’t let him eat used chewing gum, poop from other dogs and a jelly baby. It’s a hard life, being a dog.

After that my medication got adjusted, so although I’ve maintained my energy levels for work, I’m absolutely zonked as soon as I get in. I’m not worried though- I know there will just be a short adjustment period and I’ll have a good balance going again.

It does feel as if I’m entering a new season of life now. Five years ago, I’d just got my first DSLR and was starting to venture outdoors in search of things to photograph. I made a lot of headway in those five years. I figured out what I really like doing. I started to tackle my weight. I started to get a life.

In recent years I let myself get distracted and wasn’t really thinking about my future. It’s not surprising, it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. Since leaving school, it’s been a case of ‘this will do’ in an absence of knowing what I really wanted my life to look like. All this time I’ve just been getting by.

So, five years later, and I’m finally starting to think about what I’d like my next five years to look like. I’ve always been terrible with money, and over the years I’ve said countless times that this is the moment I get on top of things once and for all. But it’s really happening! Last month I stayed within my means for the first time in living memory, without having to play catch up at all. I tracked all of my outgoings and I spent £500 on food, £200 of which was on takeaways, and nearly £400 on non-essentials. Before you start thinking I’m minted, I’m not. I just had extra money that month from working over the Christmas period.

Since pay day at the end of February however, I have spend zero pounds on takeaways. My non-essential spending currently stands at about 20 quid. I have a couple of really short months coming up, because of the unpaid leave, but even then I can still live within my means. Just about. When I’m back earning my full wage, I can start to pay off all of my credit, put aside some savings for the first time ever, and stop buying things to distract myself when I’m feeling bad.

That’s the key word. Distraction. It’s at the root of all my troubles – my weight, my finances, my relationships. Everything I’ve done in my life so far has been focused on making myself feel better for the next five minutes, without a thought for the effect my choices would have on the next five years.

That changes now though, and do you know what? I’m thoroughly excited. The single spanner in the works is that I’m currently freaking out about coronavirus and envisaging something akin to the Walking Dead in my near future. Hayley’s anxious brain is braced for the entire breakdown of society, or, you know, being dead. But positive Hayley is preparing for the future where everything turns out ok. What will be will be.

So, my spending has improved. I’m not engaged in any destructive relationships. How about food then? As it happens, I’ve been smashing the weight loss too with another 3.5 pounds off this week, plus Slimmer of the Week.

I’ve also been super organised. Everything is clean and tidy, and I have grand yet frugal redecorating plans which will be carried out over the course of the year.

Yep, everything is pretty damn good. It’s nice to be able to say that.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x