Well that escalated quickly…

Oops. I do apologise for the rather lengthy absence, rooted in my terrible talent for procrastination…

It has been quite the year since my last blog post. I’m not entirely sure what happened to blogging along the way – there were times when I just didn’t feel like sharing what was going on in my head, and other times where procrastinator supreme “I’ll write a post next whenever” prevailed. But now life has evened out a bit, and I want to get back to my original reasons for starting thins in the first place – revelling in the small things!

A debrief of the last 12 months would have to include the following highlights:

  • I survived two months travelling solo in the South Pacific – more about that here!
  • I graduated! (Still convinced they’re going to decide that was a clerical error one day…)
  • We moved across the country and managed to navigate the traps of house-hunting; our well developed damp-sensors once again proving invaluable!
  • I started my first job (and have thus far survived!)
  • My little (6ft) brother has finally found his calling and has been given the opportunity to go follow his dreams in September – super proud!
  • We ticked a few places off our travel bucket list.
  • And finally, and most excitingly…
    • My aforementioned other-half asked me a very important question, to which the answer was a very slightly hysterical YES; we are now enjoying bumbling through the world of wedding planning together!

As I said, quite the year! I will be blogging a bit about my travels, and a few important bits and pieces, but mainly trying to focus on the little smiles just like before.

Thanks for staying interested if you’re still reading!

LSO x

 

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On being somebody’s Valentine…

Four years ago I left home to start university. Everyone was busy telling me how much I would love it, how much if would thrive. I, on the other hand, had spent the preceding summer convincing myself that I had not got my A level grades that would secure my place. I had already part filled next year’s application forms, booked a few driving lessons in and applied for a few jobs so the blow might not fall so hard. So when the big fat confirmation letter fell through the letterbox in August, just a month before term was due to start, I found myself in a bit of a pickle.

Just 4 weeks later, I found myself alone in a room that didn’t feel like mine, on a corridor of the most eclectic mix I people I could ever expect to meet. It was almost a perfectly representative sample if every clique from college. The loud and bolshy rugby lad, the crazy party girl, the punky chic into all sorts of weirdness that she felt needed sharing loudly over dinner, the quiet kid that didn’t speak, and then there was the boy next door.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. In fact I spent the first few weeks of term convinced his name was Steve (it’s not…) and only really had any interaction over pleasantries such as whose milk this was in the fridge, and could I please borrow a tea bag.

I found myself deeply miserable at uni. I suddenly found myself stressed to the heavens about everything, gave myself gastritis that rendered me a nauseous wreck the majority of the time and realised that my cooking skills did not even stretch to basic at best. I was strongly considering dropping out and seeing if I could defer a year on health grounds. So when I got a text from said boy asking if I’d like to go for a drink sometime, I baulked and knocked it out the park. How could I possibly entertain the notion of dating when I could barely hold myself together for a day of lectures?!

A few months of persistent efforts and truly horrendously awkward dates later, we finally gave up and called it official. This was a boy who would sit with me while I spent hours forcing down tiny meals, with my phone in his hand threatening to call my mum if I didn’t finish that chicken sweet and sour. A boy who had seen me in my PJ’s at 3am fire alarms with bed hair and sleepy eyes, seen my horrific attempts at cooking, heard me throwing up near enough daily, and yet was still interested.

That first year, I told him that I didn’t do valentines day. Mainly because I honestly didn’t really buy all the sappy ‘one-and-only’ stuff. I figured mostly you just ended up with someone convenient and muddled along with them for a while. I thought it was so commercial; after all, why do you need one day to appreciate the person you supposedly love all year round?

To some extent, I still believe that, about the commercialism. However, four years later, having fallen totally head over heels for that boy next door, I can’t say I don’t believe in love anymore. It’s amazing to have someone who is unconditionally there for you, and so in sync with the way you think that there are times when you don’t have to say anything at all. And to be able to celebrate that, and have a day to show them how much that means isn’t all that bad. Not with presents and lavish expense, but with time. Setting aside a little time to spend purely with each other, no distractions. So that was how our valentines day went. We had a lazy morning with American Blueberry Pancakes watching a live-streamed band contest in our PJs. Then we went out for dinner at our favourite local Indian, challenging each other to try something different to our usual order. We’re both massive foodie people, so this was just perfect. We ended our evening curled up on the sofa with a good film. To some, this would seem boring and unimaginative, but for us, just spending time enjoying things we have in common is just fine.

So now, I would say yes, I do ‘do’ valentines day, but I do it my way.

LSO x

January… A lookback on 4 weeks of de-choc!

January is a curious month. We approach it every year with a kind of heady optimism. However, for many people, once those first few enthused days if self improvement are up, it slides into a month of disappointment and demotivation. All those goals we set so full of good intentions soon seem unattainable, we fall from our wagons and the the chocolate/wine/sofas creep back in to those oh-so-cold evenings as the rain/snow/cold provides an excuse to not leave the house for the gym again.

I ended 2014 thoroughly glad to see the back of it. It was just not a happy year. I wanted to make sure that this year was a genuine fresh start and clean slate, and while there are lots if scary/stressful things looming, I’m doing my very best to not obsess over them, and to enjoy the excitement in them more instead.

I decided to kick start this with a January focus of just giving my metabolism a bit of TLC. I’m a self-confessed comfort snacker, and chocolate had become a serious vice as 2014 threw its worst at me. So while most of the population went dry and spent January sober, I stowed the Christmas chocolate and along with banishing cake and biscuits to boot, headed for long 4 weeks of forced healthiness.

The first thing I noticed was the sudden need for breakfast. I am the world’s least enamoured when it comes to mornings, and this usually means I will happily trade breakfast for an extra 15 minutes of duvet time. But now that post-dinner chocolate/cake/biscuit munchings were out, I was waking up to find I actually needed food. Like now… before my stomach actually digests itself kind of now.  Ready-brek with honey became a regular feature of my mornings. I tried toast a few times, but found that by 11am, my usual reach for the biscuits cravings were good and back.

I also began to find that my lunch needed a lot more thinking about. I couldn’t just throw in a kitkat, or rely on the staffroom supply of cake and nibbles for afternoon hungry moments. I ended up eating a lot more fruit, and I was planning out more substantial meals. I found a few good new recipes, and rediscovered my love for peanut butter. This has always been my go-to snack when chocolate has been off the menu, and is perfect for that point when you get home but it’s not quite dinner time – hot toast, PB and Tea. If I was requesting my last meal on death row, that would quite probably be my choice.

Combined with far more regular exercise from my dance lessons, I found I had more energy, a more level mood, and just generally felt better. However, with the arrival of February, and the break of my junk food fast came the return of the sugar-feels. I am hopeless when it comes to ‘oh I’ll just have a nibble…’ A nibble becomes a bar/packet/box far too easily. I’m back to square one and it’s a tad depressing. But having allowed myself a fortnight to enjoy the freedom of choice again, I’ve decided to try and be a little more restrictive for the next few months. I want to be in good health when I head off on my travels (not to mention in better shape for graduation photos…!) and am intrigued to see if trying to stick more to my January eating pattern will have any more unexpected benefits if I stick at it for longer.

So here’s to the remainder of February. I’m trying to make fitness a focus this month. So far, I have used my gym membership precisely 100% more than I did in January… I.e. I have made it there twice this month. I need to ramp it up if it’s going to be worth the money, so I’m trying to aim for three times a week. (This was until ballet on Monday destroyed my leg muscles, and now even the stairs are proving a significant challenge!)

This was meant to go up at the beginning of February, but hey ho…!

LSO x

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!

LSO x

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!!

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!

LSO x