Smile no. 5

It’s that time of week again! I don’t really know where this week disappeared off to… it seems to have rushed off in a blur of planning and booking things (see this post for all the scary exciting things!), waiting for emails and working.

My smile this week is the simple bliss of a quiet evening in. House is tidy, Netflix is on, I’m curled up on the sofa in my slippers and my super-cosy scarf (it’s cold and snowy here) with this mug full of tea:

The original Little Scruffy Owl :DThis is one of many owl-related bits and bobs in my house, and it’s one of my favourites. It was this particular little scruffy owl that provided the inspiration for this blog – something I’m really enjoying this year. It’s just one of those things that I have an inexplicable fondness of. I just have to not drop it like I did the cereal bowl this morning…!



Into the Unknown…

Challenging myself seems to be becoming a bit of a recurring theme in my life at the moment. This week, we made the huge decision to move out of our current little nest three months earlier than we’d originally planned, just before I fly away for two months.

I am usually that person who likes to have every detail of a plan mapped out; logistics sorted, arrangements made, with as little room as possible for uncertainty. Now, I’ve pretty much signed up to 6 months of having to go with the flow – it’s going to be a pretty major challenge to not get worked up about things and trust that it’ll all work out! But I’m going to have to do my best not to get my feathers in a flap.

The major uncertainty comes from the fact that I could be literally anywhere in the UK from July, and I won’t find out until March/April time. We keep discussing scenarios and potential ways of working things out so they work the best for both of us, which is tricky because we both need pretty different things from life over the next year or so.We usually end up coming to the same conclusion every time, that we’ll just have to play it by ear and see what happens.

It will be easier come March, when I should know roughly where I’ll be at least. Until then, I just have to deal with the fact that there’s not an awful lot I can plan or suss out. It’s a steep learning curve, but I keep trying to look at it from a positive angle – who knows what fun might come along just taking things as they come and enjoying the ride!

I’ve also finalised my big trip – only 90 days away!! This is another huge challenge for me. I’ve been travelling before, but always as part of a group, where things have been organised for me, or with my boyfriend. We travelled round Sydney for a month together a couple of years ago, but he’d been out there a few months already, so I had my own personal tour guide. This time I’m flying solo, to a little island in the South Pacific. It’s part of my course, so I’m also going to be working, in a new place with totally new rules, new language, new people. It’s all terrifying… but also exciting. The last time I really struck out on my own was when I moved to university, which didn’t go so well. But now I’m five years down the line, a lot more confident in myself, and not quite so bothered about what the world thinks of me, so I’m looking forward to proving to myself that I can take on the world standing on my own two (even if both left) feet!


Smile no. 4

Well, this week, it’s more of a big cheshire cat grin!

Back in December, I had a very lonely birthday. I’d had a day out the day before with my boyfriend, but my actual birthday consisted of an academic progress meeting and a slightly less than exciting lecture, followed by a very lonely evening in. Being a December baby makes birthday arrangements tricky to start with, and this year my friends were all spread out across the country, throwing even more spanners in the already clogged up works! So anyways, long and short of it, I felt my birthday feeling a little sorry for myself, and totally fed up with adult life.

But I actually have the best friends. Last weekend, we managed to engineer a bit of catch-up time, where I was presented with this:

Caterpillar Cake!!I must have said at some point during one of our many reminiscing chats about the impending doom of adulthood that I’d always had a caterpillar cake at home for my birthday. So they decided the tradition should continue, regardless of the number of candles that definitely now don’t fit on the cake…!!

Of course, this did kind of mean relaxing the cold (chocolate) turkey January (See Hello World) for 1 day but I figure that it doesn’t count when it’s your own birthday cake!

It’s only really been over the last 12 months that I’ve realised how seriously great the people in my life are, and how much I really, really need them. They know who they are, and this is a thanks for being so awesome.


Two Right Feet: Daily Post Response

Being fairly new to blogging, I’m always on the look out for new things to talk about. Today, while scrolling through my reader, this Daily Post Cahllenge jumped out at me: Two Right Feet

What are the things you need to do within 30 minutes of waking up to ensure your day gets off on the right foot? What happened the last time you didn’t do one of these things?

I am a night owl. Mornings are my nemesis. I wondered if nemesis was too strong a word, so I checked the definition:

The inescapable agent of someone’s or something’s downfall – Oxford Dictionary

Mornings are relentlessly inescapable, and they have all too frequently been a challenge for my seemingly immovably nocturnal brain.

I’m not sure when my brain decided that compliance with society’s regular patterns was not of huge importance. My teachers in school gave up giving me detentions, or writing notes in my planner, and seemed eventually to resign to the fact that this child, while hard-working and pretty well behaved on the whole, would make it to school on time only when the pigs taught the penguins how to fly.

It became the butt of many family jokes. One Christmas morning, the first three presents I opened – all from independent non-communicating relatives – were alarm clocks. Two were big mechanical ones with bells on, and the third fired a spinning disc off into the depths of my room, only to be silenced from its shrieking by the return of the disc to the base. The latter was quickly assigned to the dustbin. Although effective, it was brutal to the extreme – no-one enjoys waking up to an adrenaline fuelled scramble to the dizzying heights of the top of the wardrobe just to retrieve the off button to their alarm.

I thought going to university might help – new environment, forming new habits and all that jazz, and for a few weeks, it did. Although a large portion of that might have been due to the detrimental effect that extreme stress and gastritis has on your sleep. For much of my first year, I managed to arrive on time for lectures, albeit having bypassed breakfast and power-walked across campus. Then the fatal blow was delivered in my second year. A combination of moving to a halls block just a 5 minute stroll from my building, and my boyfriend moving to Sydney for 6 months put the nail in my cosy, duvet-lined coffin. The complacency of my closeness to lectures, combined with a lot of late night skyping to the other side of the world, meant that I slipped oh-so-easily back into my old ways.

Over the years, I have spent day after day crashing through the house like a tornado in the mornings, and trying to remember frantically on my way to work which excuse I used yesterday, and working out what today’s catastrophe could have been. Phone calls just as I was leaving the house, traffic jams, difficulty parking, had to go back for x/y/z… They’ve all been there. Nine times out of ten, it was probably just that my alarm heralded up-time, and I replied with a muffled ‘5 more minutes…’

Trouble is, I work best at night. I can get on a roll with something at 10:30pm, and the next time I look at a clock, it’s 1:30am. This causes problems when you have to be up at 6:30am so you can leave enough time to get stuck behind that inevitable tractor/gritting lorry/garden shed (true story – actually got stuck behind a large garden shed being transported down a lane the other day…!!) on the hour-long trek to work. Driving tired is also deeply irresponsible.

So for the last few weeks I’ve been diligently packing my bag the night before – yes mum, I finally listened – making lunch (sometimes…) and attempting early nights. I’ve been putting my alarm on the other side of the room, and resisting the urge to creep back under the duvet for those elusive ‘5 more minutes’, heading downstairs for Ready-Brek with golden syrup (because yes, I’m essentially 6 years old and it’s about the only thing I can tempt myself out of bed with). Until the day before yesterday, it was going swimmingly. And then I sleep-turned-off my alarm. According to my boyfriend, I got out of bed, turned off the offending alarm, and got right back into bed, still sound asleep. It’s a new low for me. I woke up in a total panic at 8:10, and managed to make it out of the house in 20 minutes, in the full belief that maybe the batteries had run out, or I hadn’t set the darn thing right. But no. I’ve developed a new brand of sleep-walking.

I feel that somehow, this might just be a battle I’m never going to win. My brain seems determined to be nocturnal, no matter how many alarm clocks I throw at it. So my morning ritual is really pretty simple… to make it out of bed in the first place!!

Smile no. 3

My smile this week is slightly early – I’m off for a very important weekend trying on some bridesmaid dresses for a very important wedding so I’m posting this tonight!

The last few months of my degree are formed of a rural and a foreign placement. My rural placement is just over an hour’s drive from where I live, and this was the subject of much complaining, protestation and general negativity from me when it was allocated. However, it’s actually proved so far to be a truly fantastic experience, far exceeding my not-so-cheerful expectations. The team I’m based with have made me very welcome, and even the drive isn’t so bad. It’s become just part of the routine. I really enjoy sticking the radio on and hollering along to a well-chosen tune – try it… seriously liberating!

NB – on that note, my smile for the week was very nearly when Mah Na Mah Na burst through my car today and I just couldn’t help but sing (and dance, as much as one can when restricted by a seatbelt and a steering wheel…) along! There may or may not have been accompanying facial expressions…

But instead I chose this:

 A view over Worcestershire towards the Malvern Hills and beyond, the Cotswolds.   © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A view over Worcestershire towards the Malvern Hills and beyond, the Cotswolds.
© Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

This is just a snippet of the view I get on a route I sometimes travel as part of my placement. I can’t claim the photo this week – I don’t keep a camera in my car… maybe there’s a lesson there! At the peak of the road you can park up and just sit and marvel at just how far you can see. There are at least three other peaks in the 360 view. So despite going into this placement grumbling about the long daily drive, without it I’d never have discovered this truly beautiful little pocket of the country that I get to explore as part of my job. I can look at my fuel bills and frown, or smile at all the little discoveries I’ve made exploring new places!


Being Brave!

I’ve been the new kid a fair few times in my life, and never quite mastered the art. Changing schools, starting university; full of horrendously awkward encounters where I’m trying desperately to work out how to not come across as totally off this planet. But going through my degree, which has involved switching placements every few weeks, joining a new team every month or so, I’ve learnt to just grab things a tad by the proverbials. And so that was how I approached walking in to my first ballet class in 12 years yesterday.

As it happened, I really shouldn’t have stressed quite as much as I did. After eventually finding the entrance to the place down a dark alley, praying that I would make it inside with all my major organs unscathed, I walked in to find an empty waiting room. Claiming a chair, I waited a while, then another girl walked in, looking just as relieved as I’d felt to finally find the front door. Pretty simultaneously, we twigged that neither one of us had any idea what we were doing. And that’s when the third girl turned up… also new. And that was the turnout for the evening. And it was great! We had to talk to each other, because none of us knew anyone else there, and we ended up having a great class because no-one was having to play catch up.

Turns out that ballet is a little like riding a bike. Less than a minute into warm up barre exercises, my muscles cottoned on what we were up to and went ‘Ah ha! We’ve totally done this before… We’ll take it from here!’ It all came back, and being back in the studio felt like the most natural thing in the world.

Then I woke up this morning.
I spent today googling to try and put a name to the new muscles I’ve discovered I have. And back I shall go next week!


Smile no. 2

My second smile of the year links to my elusions in my very first post about old passions… I’ve been trying for a long time to find a good way to keep fit and stay healthy, and it occured to me that maybe I had the answer all along, it was just a door I thought I’d locked and bolted a long time ago.

100115 006As a child I was always dancing. Taxi of Mum used to ferry me from class to class, week after week, to summer schools and show weeks all over the place. And when I wasn’t at classes or rehearsals, I was putting on ‘shows’ in my bedroom – curtains drawn, desk lamp on the floor as my ‘spotlight’, CD blaring. But life happens, and through various moves, growing pains and generally being far too busy, I ended up hanging up my ballet shoes and stowing my leotards in the attic to gather dust.

12 years later, I’m going back to ballet school. Instead of trying to make myself enjoy a new fitness tactic, I’m just going to dust off an old one that I have always loved and missed. I’ve found a few adult classes in my local area, and am trying them out next week. (Watch this space!!)

So my smile this week – my new ballet shoes. I’ve spent the evening sewing elastics – Mum, I now have a totally new appreciation for the years and years you spent grimacing every time my feet grew, or I needed a different colour pair for a costume!!