The November Round-Up

I'm not going to talk about the thing that everyone has talked about this month on here, I can't bear to hear any more of it if I'm honest. It's not that I don't care about politics (if you've ever gone down the pub with me, or engaged with me on Twitter, you'll be brutally aware of how my political leanings stand), I just cannot watch everyone divide and hate. In my eyes, that's the last thing anyone should be doing and I can't help but think that segregation is what he wants. 

Nope, not in my name, and so we hunker down and crack on with November, together. 



MY TEAM WON THE FRIGGING WORLD SERIES. As it took me weeks to shift that nasty little virus, I was still on a shonky sleep schedule when the World Series games were on, so I kept waking up in the middle of the night and putting a game on. I know, not great, but I got to watch my team win and that's priceless. 



The day after this jersey arrived at my house, Kris Bryant won the NL MVP award. Perfect. 

I read a lot of comics, because I'm so addicted to Thor that it's unreal. I want to be Thor SO MUCH. 



I went to see my friend's band play a charity gig at The 100 Club



My best friend came to stay and we drank a lot of wine and did a lot of gossiping, it was great.



That was the first weekend I really started to feel better (that only took a whole 3 weeks, thanks virus) and I was able to really enjoy some nights out and some wine. Albeit, I then committed to no drinking until my Christmas party (as every drink was making me anxious) and that's been really easy. Turns out I can sit in a pub with a lime & soda and have exactly the same evening as I'd have if I was drinking. Except I sleep better, and I don't feel tired, and I don't get extra booze hunger.  

I took myself off social media this month after the US election, for the reasons I stated at the start of this post (I also don't want to look at that face until I really have to), and that's been nice. I've kept up with Instagram as that feels less anxiety-inducing and I've been making great use of Stories, so if you're missing me, come find me on there.



I finally found my powerbox for my Ikea twinkly lights and installed them in my bedroom. They're very bright, so they're a lovely contrast against my blue curtains. 



I re-started my gratitude practice, as that gives me a good positive focus and reminds me to be grateful for so many little things in life, occasionally it's good to have a little woo. 

Speaking of woo, Doctor Strange, anyone?



Cor, I loved this film. I loved the concept of spiritual powers, I loved the visuals, I loved Tilda Swinton, I of course loved Mads and I even didn't mind Cumberbatch's accent too much. 

I had a day out with my friend Martin at Leicester Space Museum, which I told you about last week.



On the space vibe, I went to see Public Service Broadcasting last week, a band I'd never heard of until I started work at the Science Museum last year. It's basically instrumental music interspersed with broadcasting noise (they do a lot of things involving space missions, or inspired by them). 


I beamed with smiles throughout this whole gig, it was wonderful. I will be seeing them again, oh yes I will.

I wrote very little this month. Sigh. I'm glad that virus has gone, it drained every bit of energy that I had for weeks. There was no writing. There was no nothing. I was coming home from work every night, eating dinner and going to bed (and sleep) at 8.30pm. There's nothing like 11 hour sleeps every night to make you feel like you're dying really slowly. I've never known anything like it, it was horrible. When I had my dentist check-up this month even my hygienist commented that I'd been brushing too fast and needed to slow down. When I told her it was the virus she gave me a pass (after giving me a strict telling off and showing me the correct way to brush my teeth for the billionth time *looks sheepishly at shoes*).

I've also decided to start a new series on my blog next month, and it's about something I complain about a lot, so it's time to do something about it! More on that soon. 

December is here and this weekend is my one free weekend until 2017. Laundry it is, then! December is always so busy with parties here and there, travelling and trying to see all your friends one last time before the year ends, speaking of which I'm going to meet one of my friends who I've known online for a good year or so at the end of December ... IN PARIS. 

I've never been. It's only a train away. I'm meeting a new friend. I'm SO excited. But more on that in the New Year.

For now, I'm just going to keep my head down, keep warm and see my friends. That, and eating Christmas cake with cheese on. HASHTAG NORTHERN.
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National Space Centre

I'm writing a quick post about this (there will be lots of photos, obvs) but did everyone know that we have a National Space Centre in the middle of the country and it's really good? 

I mean, REALLY GOOD.



There's pieces of the Moon there, and Mars meteorite, and the Union Flag that's been to the Moon, and Helen Sharman's space suits, a mock-up Columbus module from the ISS that you can run around, and, and, and ... A ROCKET CALLED THOR. 



I mean, COME ON!

You can go up the outside of the rocket, right to the top in the Rocket Tower (a good 42ft, excellent stairwell cardio).



There's lots of good learning to be done about the US and Russian space races, as well as everything that followed. There's 3D simulators of space flights and lander practice:


(Martin landed the lunar module perfectly. Twice. I crashed it. Three times. Oops.)


And a planetarium which is so good it made me feel a bit light-headed.



There's one of the only Soyuz Spacecrafts in Western Europe right behind the big doors when you go in, along with a Gemini TTV-2 Capsule:



What's really good is that it's £14 entry for an adult, with a Planetarium ticket included. If you're as much of a space nerd as I am, this is such a good day out. Go. See space history. Appreciate how TINY our little planet is in this MASSIVE universe, it's good for your perspective when it seems like society is crumbling around our ears.


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Going Minimal - One Year Later

Last year I made the decision to go minimal. In simple terms, this meant I chucked about 60% of my belongings out and I wrote about it in a couple of posts here and here.  Granted I was aware I had a house move pending at some point in the next year, but regardless, my life felt cluttered, the items were not serving me, so it was time to get rid of them.

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And you know what? It was the best decision I'd made that year. It's served me so well this year; through a house move and through another scale-back. 

I'm going to talk about how I've taken the minimal thing even further this year, and the different parts of my life that it's also crept in to. 

My Wardrobe is Relentless

SRSLY. My wardrobe has a long story behind it and with all clear outs, no one walks in and just throws *all* their shit away, it's not possible. You put a lot of money into your belongings, which makes it harder to let them go. But I'm stubborn and persistent, I promised myself by the end of this summer I'd have another good sort out. 

I'd made that terrible mistake of hanging onto things 'in case they fit me again'. Stuff that, I'll just buy them again if I ever need them. Tons of dresses and jackets went on to eBay and £200 in my Paypal later, I was free of them.

I also threw out things which were tatty (as in I'd worn to death over the last year) and anything which I'd not worn for a year (as in I didn't like it anymore). That alone filled 3 bin bags; 2 to charity and 1 for recycling. 


Where does all this come from?!


Considering I haven't bought that much clothing this year I was amazed I was getting rid of so much, but like I say, go back a revisit a few months later. You might have changed your mind about some items, might not have worn them, might have no purpose for them. If that's the case, out they go!

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

This I am back stepping on because a girl is allowed to change her mind.

I've fallen out of favour with digital versions of books, which I mentioned briefly in this post, and back in love with paper. The books have come back. 


Guarded by the girls

Albeit I'm not bulk buying, and I am sticking with 'you buy, you read' so I don't end up with a massive backcatalog, I'm borrowing more too and I'm still passing them on when I'm done with them. There are a few exceptions, but then that's life.

I also need to sort out my comics, I have a box of them to read and then get rid of. 

Spotify has My Soul

My project this winter is to convert the remaining cd's that I own to digital and then get rid of them. I haven't played a cd now for at least a year (I don't even own a stereo) so why am I hanging on to them? This is as pointless as hanging on to the VHS tapes that I still own but can't bring myself to get rid of. 


Why can't I get rid of this?? It's like a bloody horcrux


I'm also clearing out another lot of dvds and I've started buying my films in a digital format. 

It's Spread to the Kitchen

Even my food shopping has gone minimal.  I've managed to get myself into the routine of doing one massive shop monthly (hello payday!) and getting it delivered, supplementing with small one-bag shops each weekend between for fresh items, like vegetables, juice and bread. This saves me an absolute fortune, cuts down on waste and means I actually use up everything in my freezer. Remember the last time you saw the bottom of your freezer? It's not Narnia, clear the thing out. 


Buy in bulk, stick in jars. Beautiful.


As I've said before minimalism is really personal, and what is minimal to me might not be to someone else (pretty sure having 5 pairs of Converse and a box of lipsticks isn't *that* minimal) but to me it's all about having the right level of belongings in my space, not hanging on to things I don't need (or don't serve me) and being sensible with my money. I switched from a phone contract to a sim-only deal last month, which has dropped my phone bills by £20 per month (and I get more data, so it's a real bargain), little things like that add up quickly, that's £240 per year saved. 

Let's see where I am in another years time!



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The October Round-Up

It's been a bit of an odd month, October. There's been good and bad things, but I'm going to focus on the good things here as dwelling on the shit stuff never benefits anyone.




I got to see my lovely girlfriends, albeit it was brief and a bit stressful, but cuddles with your friends are cuddles with your friends, and as it turned out we all needed them.

I threw myself into my self-care routine and had lots of quiet time. I read some brilliant comics:




Watched a lot of Postseason Baseball as my team, Chicago Cubs, made it through the divisionals, won the nationals and went on to play in the World Series for the first time since 1945!


I miss you, Wrigley <3

I *might* have ordered myself a jersey with a Bryant back. Well, he's no.17, and that's my birthday :)

I did lots of cinema at the Prince Charles, and went to see some comedy, as you read about last week.

I treated myself to a 23andMe DNA collection kit and sent my DNA off to be analysed. I cannot wait to see my reports. Expect a full blog post about this at a later date.




I went for my first ever full-body hour long massage and it was absolute heaven. I'm definitely doing more of these!

I began Project: Declutter 2016 and got rid of loads of my clothes. 2 bags to charity, 1 to recycling and I sold a ton of things on eBay. I'm now such a pro at this that I even offered to help one of my friends with his decluttering. I'm strict, but it gets the job done and someone wants the help, then I will gladly offer my services.

I watched the 'cleaned up' version of Star Wars (courtesy of my mate Jim over at STACK) which made me feel like a child again! Grainy quality films FTW. 

But right now I'm at home sick with a cold virus, which is making me feel horrific, so that's my weekend plans cancelled! Ah well. 

Stuff from me this month: 



Stuff from around the internet this month: 

Twin Peaks behind the scenes of the new series video! OMG OMG OMG OMGGGGGGGG. 

Mark Frost's new book: The Secret History of Twin Peaks which is BEAUTIFUL and he's doing a Q&A in London in November. YAS!

Throwing some money at this Indiegogo project for the Twin Peaks tarot cards, I saw the design for these on one of my forums earlier this year and I'm so glad they're coming to life. 

Speaking of Kickstarters; Raised by Wolves series 3, anyone? #UpTheWolves

Fancy a GoFundMe for a feminist, body positive, burlesque show? Then go throw some spare cash at Kaila, who is getting the word out there but needs some help. 

Kate McKinnon being one of the funniest women on the planet AGAIN with *that* Presidential debate sketch on SNL.

I'm plowing my way through Barack Obama's The Audicity of Hope, as it seems like the right time to be educating myself about the US political system. 

The final Rogue One trailer because Star Wars + Mads is like seeing my dreams come true. 

I read The Girl on the Train and enjoyed it so much that I'm passing the book around everyone I know. It's short and sweet (a 4.5 hours read) but it's such a good old-fashioned whodunnit in a modern world. I've no desire to see the film though, as I don't think I'd enjoy it as much.


As you may have noticed, my post count has dropped off during the last couple of months. As I'm someone who strives for quality over quantity, this was bound to happen as I've been really busy or really relaxing. I don't write this blog for anyone but myself (but I do know people read it, a lot of people, which is awesome) so I'm currently only posting when I've got stuff to write about and the time to do so. I'm not anticipating massive publication gaps, but I'm also not anticipating a flurry of posts to fall out of my brain and onto my keyboard over the coming months. But you never know. Writing for me is a very organic process which cannot be forced, so we'll see what comes.

October went really fast, I assume that's because I felt a bit shonky for half of it, payday seemed to come around really quickly (and I still had money left, who the hell am I?!). The clocks go back this weekend (that's your gentle reminder, UK residents) and then it's SO DARK on an evening from 4pm. WAH. ::takes all vitamin D capsules::

On the upside, I've got two gigs to go to in November, a show recording, a book event and my best friend is coming to visit, so it's going to be a nice month regardless of whatever else the universe chucks at me.

Just to be clear, Universe, that wasn't an invitation to act like a dick.
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Gigs, Films and Theatre Trips

I usually just bundle all the things I've done each month into my round-up, which means they get briefly noted but I never really get to write about them in depth. So this post is a way to address that and give a bit of a run down and review of the things I've been to see over the last couple of months.


2001: A Space Odyssey 

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I don't know how you get so heavily into sci-fi and yet not see this film, and yet somehow I managed it for over three decades. It was also a film that I didn't want to watch unless it was on a massive screen, so when my friend alerted me to a showing at the Prince Charles, I jumped at the chance.

It's incredible how many references I've seen in films, album covers, tv shows and completely missed them (the subtle ones, anyway) but now so many of them make sense. Which is more than I can say for the second half of the film. I described it as a film with two halves; the first being like the most beautiful dream and the second being a complete mental breakdown. I'm happy we got an intermission before the second half to let me digest the first.


I'm glad I held out for the cinema experience with this one, though. It was beautiful. The music and visuals are so pleasing on your senses that you can't help but smile during it. 



The Libertine

I found out this was going to be on in London at the start of the summer, and my friend was way more on the ball than I was and booked tickets for September. It's a story I wasn't familiar with, but it was set in a time I'm very historically familiar with and had the added bonus of Dominic Cooper in it. Nice. 



The cast were fantastic, and freely wandered into the audience before the show in character to do a little vamping, which was very funny as the ladies were excellent at flustering the men in the audience.


Cooper played the role convincingly (enough to make me want to drink wine, anyway) and you definitely felt pity for him by the end. Give anything an edge of alcoholism and I'm always up for it, as addictions therapy is something I spent part of earlier career working in.   


Yonderland

If you're unfamiliar with Yonderland, It's a live action and puppet comedy drama written by and staring the Horrible Histories cast. 

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I went to the series 3 premier and Q&A with the cast at the BFI. We weren't told which cast members would be appearing for the panel, but even germ-infested Mathew Baynton dragged himself out from his sick bed for it, so it was a full house.



(The first full house they've managed at the BFI for any Yonderland series or Bill, yay.)

We got to see the first couple of episodes of series 3, which made me laugh so hard that I'm convinced this is going to be the best series yet. The Q&A was interesting and my favourite moment was when Mathew was telling the story of how he became friends (or at least tried desperate to) with Ben Willbond on the set of Horrible Histories; which was in the manner of a younger sibling trying to spend as much time with the cool older sibling as possible. Ben is quietly reading over lunch and Mathew lurches over and shuffles his chair up to Ben's (if you've seen Bill, think of the moment in the pub where Shakespeare meets Marlowe). Ben sighs, and says to Mathew 'you're just always *there*, aren't you?'.  


Top Gun 30th Anniversary

An impulsive one as my friend insisted the first ten minutes of Top Gun in a cinema are amazing, I hadn't seen it for year and I got free mirrored aviators for going (Prince Charles Cinema nailing it once again!). Before this, I don't think I'd watched this film for almost 20 years, and it's hilarious and awful and great all at once. It was like sing-a-long, quote-a-long Top Gun. The audience were very lively, it was a great Monday night out. 

Also nice: seeing Tom Cruise before he got his mouth filled with veneers. 

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Adam Hills: Clown Heart

I'd never even heard of Adam Hills until the 2012 Paralympics and now we cannot get the guy off our TV screens. My friend is a massive fan so she booked tickets to this gig, and it was close to home so it would have been impossible to refuse.



It was the DVD recording of the show that night, which meant we were subject to extra silliness from Adam, but it was a nice way to set the tone for the evening. The theme for the show is about not letting death have the last laugh, so as you can imagine it has some very personal stories from Adam and the people he supports, which are very moving, but these people are also kicking death firmly in the dick, which makes for some brilliant and inspiring stories. It was such a good night out, I'd recommend that show to everyone. 

He also had red, white and blue hair at the time, as he lost a bet that Australia would win more medals than Team GB would in the 2016 Paralympics. HA-HA AUSTRALIA!


And that has been my culture for the last couple of months. As usual I already have another handful of things booked, so expect more adventures on my blog soon. 

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Self-Care Mode

2016, you are testing my patience. LET UP WITH THE DRAMA ALREADY!

THIS GUY AGAIN?!

There was more death in my circle of friends this month, which meant mental anguish for all involved - not the way I wanted to start the month. I'm lucky in that none of it was in direct relation to me, but no one likes to see their friends broken by such things, that alone is hard to watch and hard to help with. But, we're strong group and even though we're miles away from each other, we look out for each other as much as we possibly can. 

A week of wallowing followed, which is not like me, but I just couldn't get myself right. I was overtired, overworked, sleeping and eating very little ... a terrible combo. As with all these situations, eventually you get so tired you just pass out one night, and I did, and that helped. I'm terrible when I don't sleep; I feel like the world is falling in on me, so as soon as I rectified that I started feeling much better. 

To take care of the rest, I engage self-care mode.

Self-care is one of those things people neglect a lot; usually because they're too busy, or they think have better things to do than relax, or they have other people to care for, but if you don't do self-care eventually you will regret it. Sticking your health and mental well-being on the back burner is great when you're in fight-mode (when helping others through a tough time, for example) but you have to take it off the shelf and bring it back to the front of your agenda in order to get yourself right. After all, if you're tired and stressed out, how useful are you going to be to anyone? 

My self-care routine is full of really simple things: 


Baths 
I don't have baths too often, I'm very much a shower girl, but when in times of anguish I know to put myself in the bath (my mum did this to me when I was a child and therefore it still works). I don't know why it calms me down so much, but it does. It's probably the warmth and total privacy, but it's so calming. Give me a book and that's it, I'm completely at peace. 




Books (well, reading in general)
Books are always a great place to hide away in. I'm fairly sure I might be last person on earth buying actual *paper* books, but when I don't want to deal with technology, they are perfect (and frankly anything which means I don't have to go near social media is a godsend during wibbly times). 


And yes, comics count as books.

Lounging 
I supposed you could call this 'having a lie in', but as you can do it any time of day I chose to call it lounging. I do most of mine on weekend mornings (as I never sleep in too late, my body clock is accurate, I don't even use an alarm on weekdays), which involves making a cup of tea, going back to bed and rolling about for a good hour or so. When my team play I'm very fond a baseball replay in bed (as that's a couple of hours) or I'll use the time to catch up on podcasts.  Anything which involves me having a very slow start to the day feels indulgent.




Treats (and being well fed)
I am shocking at feeding myself when I'm stressed. I can cook, I'm actually a great cook, but it's somewhere down the bottom of my list of priorities when I feel like shit. I'm likely to live on toasties and bowls of cereal (yes Mum, I know this is awful). Last month my friend came around and cooked dinner for me, which was really nice, and it kickstarted my own urge to cook decent food for myself again. I've also started to have a back-up plan of 'quick' meals that I can turn out it 20 minutes, which are good for me but take little time to throw together. I'm also a firm advocate for going out for a lunch or dinner every now and then, not only will it make you get out of your pyjamas but you can also have pudding, which is something I'm always too lazy to put in my house. 




Exercise
Last month I mentioned that I had decided to hit the Government's weekly guideline for activity levels, which is 150 minutes of moderate activity every week, for 10-12 weeks. Just to see if it made any difference in how I feel (which is a bit old and creaky at times). Having established this into a routine (I try for 3 sessions between 30 - 45 minutes per week) I made myself keep this up during a bad week this month. Okay, it wasn't easy, and the desire to go home after work and go straight to bed was always more appealing, but as I have to walk past my gym to go home ... it made sense to at least try. And I did. And it helped. Bollocks, I hate it when the Government is right. 




(Overall I'm less creaky, I have more energy and I sleep better. Bloody know-it-alls.)


Routine
I'm all for a wallow. My gosh, every now and then when life has really kicked us in teeth we need a good wallow, but we also need to recognise when it's time to stop wallowing and get ourselves back into our usual life routine. It's not easy, in fact it's downright exhausting, but you have to try. Go slowly; go to work but go easy on the social plans, then make social plans which aren't too taxing (like going to the cinema), then go out for lunch with a friend; just go at your own pace and re-establish a routine in the real world. Slowly slowly, softly softly, gently gently, catchy monkey, or something. 


Think of self-care as a preventative medicine or like a savings account; you put stuff in so that when you need it, it's there. I gave myself a weekend full of these things after a really bad week and I knew that it would not only make me feel a lot better there and then, but it will make things better for the following week, and the week after that, and the month after that. It encourages you to regain control of your own health and allows you to create behaviours and mechanisms which will allow you to cope with stressful patches as they come along; because they will keep coming (as sure as night follows day) but at least you'll be best prepared to deal with them when they do. 

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