Goodbye May, Hello Summer

The last day of May has arrived and here in Aberdeen it is feeling particularly summery. It’s been a funny old month for me personally, professionally and in my blogging life. I feel like I’ve packed a year’s worth of ups and downs into one month and I will be glad to see the back of it in a lot if ways.

Looking forward to June there are a few things that are happening for me and the world in general that I want to share some thoughts on.

June is my birthday month, on the 7th I’ll turn 26. In my current mental state my birthday is filling me with dread rather than excitement, not least of all because I have no plans to do anything to mark the occasion having accepted the fact that everyone will be too busy etc and it’ll just be a massive flop. I know part of this is my mental health but also partly from my experience of trying to organise any kind of party or social gathering over the past couple of years.

Next week Britain goes to the polls again. This time it’s a General Election and hopefully we will be saying goodbye to May in another sense. I know it’s a really slim chance but we have to hope that people will actually show up and make it known that we’re not happy with the status quo. The big concern is that many Scots won’t see the bigger picture and continue to vote SNP in this election which will hamper Labour’s chances of any kind of majority. Watch this space.

The most important event in June is Orange Is The New Black Day which this year falls on the 9th. If like me you have already booked the day off work to binge watch prepare to be shook. I’ve read some of the media relating to it and I’m unsure about the way they have planned this season – it sounds like we will definitely be left wanting more ASAP – but it will also be a binge watch dream.

On my blog in June you can expect lots of body positive content, a couple of period positive posts and I have a fitness post planned. I won’t be posting daily. Hallelujah! I haven’t quite figured out my schedule yet but I know I won’t be posting again until the 4th.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you are most looking forward to in June.

V ❤ 

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Where are all the friendly adults at?

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for ages and a conversation this morning was the kick up the butt I needed to make it happen. So the big question is why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?

For the longest time I thought maybe it was just me. Maybe I’m quite simply not likeable, I’m opinionated, I’m loud, I have a really annoying laugh – I’m not really selling my friendship here. Yet, the more I speak to young people I realise it’s not just me. Unless you work with a lot young people, you have children or you play a sport or you’re a student the chances are you have the same problem.

Remember the days when you would just go up to another human, engage them in conversation and strike up a friendship, job done? Fast forward to adulthood in 2017 where if you so much as smile at someone you don’t know you will be viewed with suspicion. In the modern age the logical way to meet people would be online which is great and very fruitful. I have made so many friends online since I started blogging, all over the country and beyond, but it’s not so handy when you’re looking for someone to go out for brunch with next Sunday. Now I know you’re all about to chime in with “there’s an app for that”. You don’t have to sell me on the app in question however typically, in this neck of the woods, it’s dead.

I made one lovely friend through the app (hi Sacha if you’re reading) but we’ve both spoken about this challenge in Aberdeen to meet people to socialize with. I joined a book club thinking that it might help in this regard. All the women are lovely, we have great chats when we meet up but they are all married/in long term relationships, some of them have kids and again they don’t really have the time for other social commitments.

The good news is that if you live in a larger city there are probably more opportunites to meet people through events, clubs, meet up apps and through other friends so all is not lost. In the meantime I will make more of an effort to socialise with my friends who are still around and try to keep in touch with others as best I can.

Have you struggled to make friends as an adult/since leaving university? Let me know what you did to meet people in the comments.

V ❤

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What is the #TBRathon & Why am I taking part?

The #TBRathon is the “to be read” readathon hosted by the loved Taryn from Sunlitlibrary or Novel Paradise Blog. Like most people I have a to be read pile that if stacked up would probably be twice my height so from 27th May through to 2nd June the aim of the game is to read as many of them as possible.

Between working full time and daily blogging I’m setting my target at 3 books with the intention to make a good start on the 4th. The books that I plan to read are:

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. This is a story about David and Leo, David wants to be a girl and Leo wants to be invisible. They go to the same school and start to become friends and it’s one of those the truth will out stories. I’m not really selling it but I’m only 165 pages in and I’m hooked. It’s also endorsed by Amnesty International so that’s always a good sign. I had started this book before so I picked it up at about page 35.

Love You Dead by Peter James. Again this is a book that I’ve started and failed to finish previously. I think I’m about 100 pages in but I may have to go back and re-read a bit to get in to the story. This is the 12th book in the Roy Grace series and I’m such a big fan of them. It’s a police procedural where each book focuses on an individual case but they also have a running story through the whole series where Roy’s wife Sandy went missing years before and new leads will crop up etc.

The Two Week Wait by Sarah Rayner. I have no idea what this book is about or if I will like it. It’s one of those books that you pick up really cheaply from a charity shop and then it just sits there for years. It looks like it’ll be a quick chick lit type thing.

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. As you all probably know I’m really in to intuitive eating but I’ve never actually read this so I thought it would be good to read a little of the research behind it and hopefully it’ll help me at the moment. My stressed out brain has been telling me all kinds of things that I “should” be doing.

Are you taking part in #TBRathon? If so let me know what you’re planning to read in the comments.

V ❤

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Things I’ve Learned Through Blogging

The blogging community in the form of the body positive and fat acceptance movement changed my life – that deserves a whole post in its own right – so this post will focus on things I’ve learned specifically since I started this blog, often thanks to the people I’ve met a long the way.

I’ll start with the only negative thing that I’ve learned so that we can finish on a high – competitive women often forget that another woman’s victory is not their failure. Quote stolen from Beyond Before & After.

What I mean by that is that this community has the potential to support and lift each and every member however that’s not always what happens as it’s become hyper-competitive. Not a day goes by where there’s not some kind of drama or aggro on Twitter and it can often feel almost hostile. I’m lucky in that a couple of larger bloggers have really supported and encouraged me from the start and I have a few people who I can DM when I’m feeling disheartened but I know that others are not so lucky.

That aside, blogging has enhanced my life in so many ways and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my views. Aberdeen is a small city and it’s really hard to meet people here. There are very few events and I’ve spoken before about the fact that most of my colleagues are significantly older than me with kids etc and have very different views to me. Through blogging I have met people who I hope will be friends for life and even though they live a long way away it’s good to be able to share ideas. It turns out that I’m not the only one who rages at body shaming fitness marketing or the fact that other young women don’t vote. And there is strength in numbers.

At 25 years old I thought I knew all there was to know about periods. I was wrong. Through blogging I have learnt so much about my own body and the different menstrual protection options out there. Since going cruelty free I’ve become so aware of the companies that distribute mainstream pads and tampons but through blogging and in particular Eco Fluffy Mama, I have learned that there are alternatives. I have since switched to a menstrual cup and I am about to try cloth pads and already know that I won’t look back.

Most recently blogging taught me to believe in my abilities more. I’ve always loved to write, mostly for myself but occasionally for other people yet I never believed I was that great. I once missed out on a job I really wanted and the reason they gave was my writing. Maybe it just wasn’t their style or it didn’t suit their business, but it really knocked my confidence. This month I have received so many compliments on my writing, including today when I received a lovely message praising me for the fact that despite posting every day I have kept the quality high.

Have you learned anything through reading blogs or writing on yourself? Let me know in the comments.

V ❤

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Progress Not Perfection – Self Care Goals

Today I did a scary thing, tomorrow’s blog post will be all about it, but having that hanging over me for a while among other things has made this month a bit of a write-off. I know what you’re thinking, I’ve blogged every day, held down my job, looked after my crazy elderly kitty and you’re right. But that doesn’t mean that other areas of my life haven’t suffered as a result.

I’ve been terrible at self care in the most basic sense like eating healthily, drinking enough water and getting enough good sleep. I’ve missed three of my closest friends’ birthdays – Tamzin, Cat and Kirsty if you read this I’m really sorry – and if you’ve been waiting on a reply from me on Facebook messenger you’re still waiting but as I’ve done the scary thing now and going forward it’s just a waiting game I figured now is as good a time as any to create an action plan for the next week/month.

  1. Drink 2l (or there about) of water a day. This one should be achievable especially now the weather is getting warmer but sometimes I forget to drink anything until lunchtime when I’m exhausted/anxious.
  2. Eat 3 meals a day. Usually I’ve still been managing this but for example today I didn’t eat anything from breakfast until 4.30pm and then squeezed in my 3rd meal at 8.30pm.
  3. Get in to a bed time routine. It’s not very exciting or sexy but tossing and turning then eventually falling asleep to Seth MacFarlane and co’s dulcet tones at 1am is not conducive to a productive day.
  4. Spend an hour every evening doing something not related to internet/blogging. This one may be a challenge especially as I’m at work all day so my evening is full of writing blog posts, reading and commenting on others’ posts, tweeting, scheduling tweets etc etc BUT I think it’s really important to have some genuine downtime.
  5. Do a 30 minute clean every day. Like most people when my mental health is rubbish my flat becomes an absolute disgrace. I found a really great “quick clean guide” on YouTube by chance that I will be sharing on the blog within the next few days and it’s really motivated me to be proactive.

I will do an update next month on how I am getting on. The most important ones but probably the most difficult will be the sleep and relaxation. Fingers crossed I will have good news.

Do you have any self care goals at the moment? If not, would you consider setting some? Let me know in the comments.

V ❤

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Surviving The First Week Back

This week I went back to work after my “staycation” and what a shock to the system it’s been. At this time of year a lot of you will be going on holiday and then have the horror of the first week back so here are a few tips to make the transition easier.

Note – this is a do as I say not as I do situation because I’ve been a disaster this week. My inbox is still a mess, I’m over committed due to this blogging everyday in May challenge, and due to this stress/new and exciting anxiety symptoms my head is all over the place and my to do list keeps growing.

Get organised for the week ahead the day before you go back. I didn’t do too badly at this one. I did laundry and made a pot of soup that would do 4 lunches meaning I could go out for lunch on the Friday or take something else. I probably should have done better and arranged dinner as well because I’ve ended up having cereal for dinner twice and beans on toast another night because I’m not getting home until late and I’m WIPED.

Clear your emails as soon as you get into the office – Have a quick skim read of each email, marking it as read and flagging those ones you need to action. Often there are a lot of junk emails clogging up your inbox and making it look more overwhelming than it is.

Catch up with colleagues on anything you may have missed early on in the day. This saves you having last minute things landed on you and can help you plan your tasks for the day/week ahead.

Be kind to yourself – It’s not possible to catch up on a week or two’s worth of work in a couple days so don’t expect yourself to.

Keep your first week light on social commitments – Planning a couple of things to look forward to is always nice but don’t over commit. I’ve been so tired this week that I’ve had to cancel some of the few plans I had. I had planned a couple of gym sessions including my usual social one with my gym buddy Megan, however my body (and mind) were just not up to it.

Most importantly try to enjoy it. You’re back refreshed (in theory), have hopefully had a chance to de-stress and perhaps come up with some new ideas or better ways to do things. If your week back is really terrible, at least it’s not long until the weekend.

V ❤

My 6 Step Summer Body Guide

With summer just around the corner it’s time for us all to get ourselves ready to bare some skin. Here’s how.

Step 1 – Have a body. (I know, that one has been done to death but I promise the rest is actual useful advice.)

Step 2 – Stock up on sun screen and insect repellent. It’s important to protect your exposed skin against the sun all year round but in summer, theoretically at least, it’ll be warmer and you will require more of it.

Step 3 – Buy summer clothes. What these consist of will depend on the climate you live in. In Scotland, for me, it tends to be t-shirts/crop tops, light cardigans, skirts and light dresses. The clothes I buy will fit the body I have right now, or maybe slightly bigger to allow for air circulation when it’s warm. Shopping should be a nice experience, treating yourself to things you feel comfortable in rather an opportunity to put pressure on yourself to try and be smaller.

Step 4 – If you want to remove body hair then you fire in but remember you are not obligated to. It’s natural and healthy to have hair on your body.

Step 5 – Sample ice cream flavours to choose your favourite for summer – Well you’ve got to be prepared to know what you’re going to want to stock up on.

Step 6 – Wait for the nice weather to arrive – I think summer was on a Wednesday in July when I had the flu last year. Hopefully I’ll get luckier this year.

V ❤

intro pic

A huge thank you to Britt Whyatt for letting me use her lovely photo as the header because stock photo websites don’t believe that plus size women ever look happy in swimwear.

You can find her in the following places:

Instagram – Twitter – Blog

 

New Year, Old Me (With A Few Improvements)

If you’ve been with me on the blog for a while you will know how angry I get about the diet industry and the way it manipulates us to feel bad about ourselves. With this in mind it’s no surprise that the phrase “new year, new me” with its connotations of weight loss and unrealistic fitness goals grates on me. January is one of the worst times of year for people in recovery from eating disorders or struggling with body image issues because it is almost impossible to escape talk of diets and fitness regimes whether that’s through advertising, social media or just overhearing people talking in public. The world becomes even more obsessed than normal. Thankfully it normally all passes, and people lose interest, by February but in the meantime we just have to keep our heads down, focus on ourselves and call out the bullshit when we can.

My personal 2017 goals are similar to those I set in 2016 and failed to accomplish. At the start of 2016 I wasn’t in a very good place mentally and my goals rapidly fell by the wayside and were never picked up again but this year I’m going to be ready to smash it from day 1.

Goals

Do physio at least once a week – I know that really I should do it more than that and if I’m in the mood to do it then obviously I will but I think that setting out to do it once a week is manageable and achievable.

Workout twice a week – This goal has been set with the caveat of when I’m physically and mentally able. I’m really loving spinning at the moment but with my history I don’t want to get sucked in to an obsession so twice a week is manageable and no more than 4 times a week to stop things getting silly.

Read 3 classics – Every year I set out to do this. I love to read but in general if it’s not a crime thriller or a police procedural I’m not interested. I really want to start ticking some of the classics off my “to read” bucket list. This year I’m going to tackle Wuthering Heights, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Set time aside to plan every week – I’m not a very organised person and part of this is because I never take time to plan out my week in advance. On a Sunday morning I like to take some time to have a nice hot drink and read The Observer but this year I’m also going to take some time to fill in my diary with plans for the next week and plan my meals etc to take the pressure off during the week and hopefully make myself more productive.

Hopefully putting my goals out there will make me more likely to stick to them.

V ❤

My Favourite Books & Films of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close here’s a round-up of some of my favourites for the year. The films featured were released in 2016, the books were not.

Films

Ghostbusters – The new Ghostbusters film was everything. Feminists everywhere rejoiced, finally a film where the leading roles were women who weren’t scantily clad and out to snare a man. I was never a Ghostbusters fan so I had my reservations but I loved this film. It was goofy and silly but sent a strong message that women can take the lead and the majority of screen time in a film and is still rocks.

The Jungle Book – I saw this film with my friend Kirsty in Cardiff and her excitment rubbed off on me. I don’t remember ever seeing the animated version but the 2016 remake blew me away. It is beautifully made, has it’s laugh out loud moments and the musical numbers have you singing along. A perfect feel good movie for a terrible year.

10 Cloverfield Lane – This is one of the most intriguing films I’ve ever watched – you keep thinking that you’ve figured out what’s going on and then – plot twist. It’s not scary as such but certainly gripping and jumpy at points. If you’ve not seen it I would definitely recommend. As with a lot of films these days it’s clearly been left open for a sequel so watch this space.

Books

What’s a Girl Gotta Do by Holly Bourne – I wrote a whole post on this book here but it’s so good that I couldn’t not include it in this post. It’s everything you could ask for from a light feminist novel. It’s aimed at a YA audience but it’s well written and covers topics that make it relatable to older readers also. Cannot recommend it enough!

The Mermaid’s Singing by Val McDermid – This is the first book in the Carol and Tony series (the TV show Wire In The Blood was based on these books). Carol is a police officer and Tony is a profiler and they team up to try to solve a case of a serial killer. I read a lot a crime fiction but this is a special series. There are 9 books so far in this series so it will keep me busy for a while.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber – This not the kind of book that I would normally pick up but it was my book club book and it was incredible. It’s about a Christian missionary who goes to a settlement on a planet to teach them the Bible (they call it the book of strange new things). He keeps in touch with his wife back on Earth using a bizarre machine and all is not what it seems. The pace of this book is a little slow but it’s worth it.

I only managed 12 books this year but I probably read the equivalent of 12 more in fan fiction and blogs. Hopefully in 2017 I’ll manage a few more.

V ❤

 

#Blogmas 20 – Preparing For Christmas With A Furry Friend

People who know me will know that the one thing that I like to be organised for is Christmas. By this point last year all my presents were wrapped, cards posted and everything was under control. One of my colleagues had mentioned to me that she was doing her whole Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve including putting together a hamper and I was beyond stressy about it. It genuinely freaks me out a little bit when people leave it all to the last minute but this year I’ve done that and it’s in part due to my furry friend Misty.

If you are going away for Christmas the most important thing to sort out is not your travel arrangements or what you will get your hosts – it’s finding care for your pet while you’re gone. That was a NIGHTMARE for me. Everywhere was full or only taking regular customers and then when I did find catteries with spaces or cancellations they were unwilling to take Misty due to her flu. At the 11th hour I found her a space but that wasn’t the end of it. It’s far out of town, I don’t drive, so then the struggle of organising transport began….

Even if you are staying at home there’s lots you have to think about at this time of year.

First and foremost DO NOT BUY A PONSETTIA PLANT. These are HIGHLY TOXIC for cats and can genuinely kill them. I recently read in a local paper about a woman who didn’t know this, bought one, her cat nibbled on it and required life-saving veterinary care. Please don’t risk it.

Decorating your home at Christmas is really fun and we all love looking at our pretty decorations but so do our pets. They are tempting for them to play with. This is common sense but don’t leave your pets unattended with Christmas decorations. There are choking hazards, in case of fairy lights there is risk of electrocution and if you have glass baubles all kinds of accidents can happen.

On Christmas Day itself most of us end up feeling a little bloated with all the rich food, sweets and drinks that will be consumed. It’s tempting to give our pets a few treats throughout the day such as a bit of fish or meat. A little treat will do no harm but please remember that most human foods are not suitable for pets. In particular rich fruit cake and chocolate is poisonous for pets. Keep these foods out of their reach. In my family there’s a well-loved anecdote of our childhood dog stealing a whole fruit loaf and my dad wrestling with her under the table to retrieve it. While very amusing to retell the tale, these kind of incidents are best avoided.

I hope this post has helped you keep your furry friend safe this festive season.

V ❤