Friday 27 March 2020

The Darker The Night The Brighter The Stars

What a peculiar couple of weeks it’s been... It feels like a life time ago that we were all going out and about, shopping, eating out, going on various trips out and spending time with friends and family at our leisure. When in reality, it’s only actually been a handful of weeks that restrictions have been in place here in the UK.

I know a lot of people, myself included are now feeling rather anxious, and even a little bit trapped from being confined to our homes for most of the time. I know I certainly had a wobble earlier in the week, when I received a phone call from our local registry office to inform that our wedding sadly needed to be cancelled. We had planned on doing our wedding in two parts, the ‘pretty’ side in Tennessee, America, and then a quick ceremony in the registry office here at home for a legal marriage. With the legal side cancelled and the rest of it teetering on the edge of going the same way I was feeling very down, as I’m sure you can imagine.

There’s no doubt in my mind that we aren’t the only ones who have lost something to this horrible virus, I know of two other couples who have had weddings cancelled, many cancelled holidays, lost jobs and many people will have lost loved ones too. Heck, even those who haven’t experienced any of those things are restricted, and probably not feeling their best either. Things are hard at the moment, but we’re all going through the same thing, we’re all in this together.

Whilst unable to sleep the other night, I was up mindlessly scrolling through my Pinterest and came across a quote that resonated with me;

“The darker the night the brighter the stars”  

If ever there was a dark night it’s now, and it’s likely that we have a little way to go before the sun comes up. Until that point though, lets focus on the stars, those little pockets of positivity that are still here.

My wedding might be cancelled but we’re still getting married, just maybe not when we originally planned to. We are currently on a waiting list for the first available slot for our legal wedding, and everyone involved in the American side of the wedding is being absolutely fantastic. The venue, photographer, accommodation… everyone, are helping us move our wedding day, and they have all waived re-scheduling fees. It’ll take a little work and coordination, but after that we can go back to just looking forward to our special day. We just have a little more time to be excited that we originally thought.

A lot of friends have been absolutely fantastic too. Given that I am high risk Mike and I are hesitant to leave the house unless we absolutely have to. There are a few people within our friend group who have been life savers, and got various bits of shopping for us where we haven’t been able to get food deliveries sent. My lovely sister in law even threw in some of my favourite chocolates last time she popped round, ‘just because’. She was unquestionably one of my bright stars that day – especially as she also replenished our dwindling supply of loo roll!

Those bright little stars to focus on can be absolutely anything you want. Heck, one of mine this morning was that a game I’ve been eyeing up on Steam is now on sale, so I’ve treated myself to it. I now get to look forward to a brand new game when I finish my working day, I might even indulge in some of that chocolate I mentioned too. Your stars can be as big or as little as you like, just make sure you remember to focus more on your stars, and less on the night.

What are your bright stars at the moment?


Friday 20 March 2020

Some tips for working from home

Well, here I am towards the end of week one of working from home. My PC (not to mentioned two monitors) are all set up and ready to go, but am I? As it happens, yes, because working from home isn’t a totally new thing for me. Whilst it’s not something I’ve done for a little while and certainly not for long periods, it was quite a common occurrence in one of my previous jobs for me to be working remotely, so I’m sinking back into that old routine. That being said, there are plenty of people out there who haven’t worked form home before and are now needing to, so with that in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind to keep you productive, and stop you going insane. 

Get dressed
Working in your PJs from bed does sound rather appealing, but it does very little for your production. To help get yourself into a working mind-set, the best thing to do is to get up and get dressed like you would for any other working day. You don’t have to get into usual work gear, but getting out of your PJs makes a massive difference. 

Call people
Especially for internal discussions. Rather than sending an email to someone in the office, call them instead. Working from home means you don’t get as much interaction as you would usually, and something as simple as a phone call can keep you ticking over. You’ll also get an answer so much quicker, and have better quality conversation on a phone call than you typically would an email. 

Our office has set up a buddy system between those of us at home, and those still in the office. The aim being to have at least one phone call a day to hear a friendly voice, catch up, have a chat and stay connected with each other. I’ve also arranged some calls with various friends who are also home working, so I can speak to people during my breaks.  

Get a playlist
I would highly recommend you don’t turn the TV on, as it’ll just become a distraction. That being said, you will want something to break up the silence you’ll suddenly find yourself in. Even though a typical office isn’t overly loud, there is always background noise of some kind – people tapping away at keyboards, phone calls, colleagues talking to each other, and you won’t have any of that at home. Get a good playlist together to play in the background, or turn the radio on.  

If you can’t think of what you might want in your playlist, the lovely Jordanne over at The life of a Glasgow Girl put a motivational playlist together a while ago. You can find it here.

Create a space for work
If you can, create a separate space for working, if you have an office, that’s perfect. I don’t, so I’ve set up on our dining room table instead. Not only does it give a degree of separation when it comes to a work life balance, it means I am sitting properly, at a desk as I usually would. This will help stave off any kind of back problems from a week or so of sitting poorly. 

Leave the house work
Unless you are on a break, leave the house work alone. You wouldn’t be able to do it if you were in your usual place of work so don’t do it while working from home. By all means, pick up little bits during breaks, but for the most part, leave it be.

Get fresh air and exercise
You might have limited options in regards to how you do this, but try and get fresh air throughout the day. Be it popping outside for a walk, going out into the garden, or simply opening your windows every now and then. Exercise can be a little tricky if you can’t leave the house. I’ve got into the routine of running up and down the stairs a few times every time I go to the loo or for a coffee break. I would typically walk for both of these in the office so I want to replicate that.

There are also plenty of at home exercises around online and on YouTube that you can follow. I’ve been getting up at my usual time, so have a spare 30-45 minutes

When it comes to the end of your working day, don’t be tempted to carry on working. It’s very easy do ‘just a couple’ more emails or tasks, but if you do that you aren’t having a proper rest. Turn the computer off, put your paper work away (or turn it over) and don’t pick it up until you are next scheduled to work. You having adequate time to recharge is not only important to your work, but your wellbeing in general.

I hope that was helpful to some of you. We’re in strange times at the moment, so remember to take care, check in on each other and share kindness whenever you can.


Friday 13 March 2020

Let's Catch Up

I don’t think I’ve had a generic, chatty catch up with you all. Sure, you’ll have my latest monthly look backs, but they only really cover what I got up to in any given month, but they don’t give a huge amount of depth into where I’m at, how I’m feeling or what is going on in life in general. 

Given that we’re nearing the end of the first quarter, it feels like good timing for a light hearted, chatty post, and general life catch up.

You may have read in my recent post that we’re traveling to Tennessee in America in 11 weeks’ time to get married. Or at least I hope we are. It was announced in the news today that to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 travel from mainland Europe to the United States has been suspended. At present the UK isn’t included, and travel is still fine, but I have to admit, it’s making me very nervous.

Whilst (at time of writing) there are no confirmed cases in my home City of Norwich. In fact, I think we’re the only county that has no confirmed cases yet… finally, the poor transport links from Norfolk to the rest of the country have come in useful! Although I doubt it’ll stay that way, and it’s probably a matter of time before it reaches Norwich and Norfolk as well.

I do feel a little guilty that our trip is my primary concern when it comes to COVID-19, especially when you consider that people have died, lost loved ones or experienced genuine worry because of it. That being said, it’s our wedding. We’ve invested a huge amount of money and time into it, that we might not get back. Plus let’s face it, no one wants to have their wedding to be cancelled, especially because of something that is completely out of their control.

At the moment I’ve decided to try not to worry about it. There’s literally nothing we can do about it, although I have reached out to various people, such as the wedding venue and photographer to see where we stand if travel is suspended from the UK too. Fortunately, we sorted our travel insurance ages ago, and the policy we went for has fairly wide cover, which to be fair you’d expect form a pair of insurance brokers!

A more positive topic to focus on at the moment is that I am now only a few weeks away from my probationary period at work being over. Changing jobs was probably the best thing I did in 2019, and I don’t think I quite realised what an impact my old job was making on me. I guess you desensitise to it after a while, but I was absolutely miserable, constantly feeling on edge and anxious, and thanks to a couple of people in the office my confidence in myself was at an all-time low.

Since moving I’ve managed to re-build my confidence, slowly chip away at my self-doubt and form some new friendships. Although I’ve moved to a comparatively more senior position, the work itself is very similar to what I did before. The environment and the approach by management however, couldn’t be more different. From being generally supportive, to encouraging us to look after our health and wellbeing, this company is far more people focused, and you can really feel it.

Having a positive experience during my working day has had a notable impact on my life outside of the office too. I’m getting back to my happy, upbeat self. I feel as though I spent a lot of last year running on auto-pilot and was just existing. So far this year I feel excited for things to come and feel very happy in myself. That’s not to say I don’t have the odd bad day, of course I do, but I feel like I’m on an upward incline at the moment, and things are getting better and better.

When I caught up with Maria recently she even commented that I seemed a lot more myself and a lot more cheerful that I had been in the later months of 2019. Mike has said similar, so clearly other people are seeing the difference too. As a consequence I’m being less tolerant to anything negative or confrontational, it’s not something I have or want to make space for in my life, and therefore I’m not going to.

There’s been a couple of people who have pushed my boundaries a little recently, and I like to think I’ve been firm but fair with them. Whereas before I’d have probably just taken it, I’ve started to say no, and communicate that I am not comfortable or happy with something. Some have taken it on board, others haven’t and to be honest probably won’t. Even so, I feel like I’m taking more control over my interaction I have with people and setting and maintaining my boundaries in a constructive way, which can only be a good thing.

I’m finally in a place where I feel happy and am actually excited for things. I’m getting married in a few months (one way or another) Spring is coming, and I’m excited to see what is in store for the rest of the year

Anyway I think I’ve rambled on enough for the time being, but there’s a little glimpse of where I’m at and life in general. I hope you enjoyed reading it, because it was actually quite enjoyable to write!


Monday 9 March 2020

March Goals | 2020

Happy March everyone! I know I say this all the time, but I really can’t believe how quick time is going. In a few weeks we’ll be a quarter of the way through the year… that’s insane! I’m pleased to report that I’ve done much better with my goals for February than I did with my January ones. Which means I can add a few new ones for the month of March, but first, let’s have a look at how I got on last month.

I’ve finally ticked this one off! I’m ashamed to admit it took me almost three months to actually buy a planner for 2020, especially given how reliant I am on it, but I’ve got it now. My previous planners have come from Busy B and I’ve loved them, so saw no reason to stray and managed to pick up a lovely one in their sale – the one advantage to leaving it so late I guess!

Menu choices
All done! We added a couple of extra bits to our options, as we were struggling to cut it down and have sent our order to the venue, who has confirmed them all. They’ll also be sorting the wedding cake, but all that’s left to be done is chose the flavour, which we’ll probably cover off next time we speak to them.

Catch up with venue and photographer
I’ve managed to get this done as well. When we sorted food orders with the venue we got all of the timings need for the day to pass to the photographer. I just have to let them know when everything is firmed up and then we’re good to go.

Car hire
To try and make things easier we’ve split our traveling party into two groups, with one car to be hired by each group. My group has now sorted a car (although the other group hasn’t yet) but I’m going to consider this done, as transport for Mike and I is now sorted. We’ve also submitted our ESTA application, which was going to be on the list for March, so it’s good to get another thing ticked off our list.

Catch up with Maria
Another one done! Maria and I drove to Braintree to visit all the designer outlet stores. We went early, stopped off for a big breakfast and spent the whole day together catching up and shopping. It was lovely to spend some much needed time together, but also to go and do something different.

This is a fail… I’ve just been making do with random make up I have stashed away. I have however, ordered what I need in the past few days, so I’ll be stocked back up again soon.  

Bath bombs
Tick! I went into the city with Mike when he was having a beard trim so that I could visit Lush, and stocked myself up on £30 worth of various different bath bombs. They’ve now become part of my Sunday routine.

Whilst it was a pretty easy set of goals for February, I’m pretty pleased to have most of them ticked off, especially my 2020 planner. Now let’s have a look at my goals for March.

Drink more water
I’m pretty sure I say this a lot, have a stint of drinking loads of water, and then kind of forget and trail off again. I feel so much better when I’m well hydrated, so I really need to make more effort with it. Plus, it does wonders for my skin.

Treat myself to a bath bomb once a week

I did well to get a good selection together, but I’m always in the habit of saving up my bath bombs. For what, I don’t know. It’s like I feel I need a special occasion to treat myself or something. Well no more! Having an evening where I use one of my bath bombs is something I like to do, and I feel better for it, so why the hell not?

Face mask
I feel like I’m finally starting to get a handle on my skin again, and with the wedding coming up I want to keep looking after it. Part of my routine will be to try and do a face mask once a week. I’ve got plenty, so there’s really no excuses, and in theory I can link it up with the previous goal quite easily.

Gym routine
With 11 weeks to go I’m starting to push a little harder in the gym. This month I want to try and get myself to at least two classes a week, and have at least one cardio session a week. Three visits a week should be pretty manageable, and I’m hoping I can actually do a few more than that.

Start my America wish list
Naturally there’s going to be things I’m going to want or need while we’re in America, be it clothing, make up or something else. I don’t want to leave it to the last minute so I want to get a wish list together so I can start ticking things off.

Period delay
I’ve always had major problems with my cycle, although it seems to have calmed down in the past few months to a point where I can actually track it (within a few days) using my Fitbit. Annoyingly, it would seem that I will be due on for the week I’m in America.. which is just infuriating. As there is no doubt a pill or some kind of solution for that, it’s something I’m going to be looking into. It’s not something I would usually care about, but come on, who wants to be on their period on their wedding day?

Blog stats
I wouldn’t usually put blog stats as a goal, simply because I try not to focus on them too much. That being said, when I first started, I had the goal of achieving 1k views within a calendar month, which was something I didn’t expect would happen for long time. I just about hit it in January, and in February I managed to sneak over the 1.5k line which was great. My goal for March is to get over 1.5k again, and if possible try to inch my way to 2k if I can. This is probably teeny tiny numbers for many people, but for me who hasn’t been going very long, and only really does this as a hobby, it’s something I’m quite pleased with.

Get outside
My final goal for the month is to get outside now that the weather is starting to get a little better. Be it a short stroll, something active or just simply sitting in the garden, I’m in much need of some fresh air now that the weather is finally starting to allow for it.

That sums up all of my goals for March! What are your goals?


Wednesday 4 March 2020

February Look Back | 2020

Well, here we are; March. I swear just a week ago it was Christmas, so I’m not quite sure how we’re in March already… but hey ho! It means spring and summer are inching closer and closer now, so there will be absolutely no complaint from me! Apologies this post is a few days late, I’m afraid I was hauled up in bed for the first few days of March feeling unwell.

If I had to sum up February with a word, that word would be BUSY which is probably partly why I fell victim to the sickness bug that’s been doing the rounds in our office of late. Although that’s probably also why it’s flown by so quickly. I’m almost through my probationary six months at the new(ish) job, and things are going really well still. We’ve had a member of our team go away to have a minor shoulder operation, and I’ve been asked to cover for her for 6 weeks, which is obviously a good sign in terms the trust my manager has put in me to maintain two workloads. 

Speaking of operations, my friend, who had an operation on her spine at the very end of January is doing fantastic, has recovered really well and even went back to work at the end of February to start her phased return, which is obviously really great.

Given that her recovery went as well as it did, it meant she could join in for Mike's birthday, for which our chosen theme was an American Frat party! The boys all dressed up in various basketball and American Football attire, while us girls all got matching cheer-leading outfits. We had a massive plastic box in which we made a delicious punch that went down brilliantly, and everyone had a fantastic time.

Mike and Boots share a birthday, so naturally the fur baby was spoiled rotten as well, as he should be. He’s never been particularly interest in cat toys, but he loves boxes. As a treat for him we saved up all our boxes from various deliveries, and threw them all on the floor for him to play in. It was quite funny watching him jump into one box, only to realise he’s got more and rotate through them until he’d sat in each one. He now seems to have a favourite box, so we’ve recycled the others so our living room isn’t left looking like a bin.

The weekend after Mike’s birthday I caught up with my good friend Maria, which was one of my goals for February. We met early on Saturday morning and travelled to Braintree in Essex to visit the outlet stores there, as its only about an hour and a half to drive. We had a great day out browsing, catching up and snagging ourselves some great bargains.

For the last weekend of March Mike and I decided to have a long weekend together, so booked the Friday off work. We’ve got very little holiday left as we are having 3 weeks off for our wedding later in the year, so we want to make sure we get the most out of the precious few days we have left. We started off productively, so I took the car for its MOT and did a food shop on the way home while Mike sorted the house. This meant we had the rest of the weekend to hide away from the world and do nothing, which was perfect.

We only ventured out on the Saturday, to go visit the Harley Davidson in Newmarket, as there was an event there with loads of sales. Needless to say I came away with my purse feeling a lot lighter than when we got there…

I also had a little bit of a re-focus on my word of the year at the end of February, as I am determined to have a positive 2020 after some major lows of 2019. There’s not been many events so far where I’ve had to re-centre myself, but the scenario cropped up where I had to remind myself that the only persons emotions and behaviours I can control are my own. There will always be people who speak or act in a way that isn’t always positive, but it’s down to me to be stern with my boundaries of what I accept, remain constructive, and bear in mind the positive aspect of those people.

This renewed way of thinking is having a pretty positive impact so far, and I’m optimistic that I’ll see the results I want from it. Time will tell I guess.

That just about sums up my February, and now we’ve moved into March we’re in proper countdown to our wedding, which is in 13 weeks from today! What did you get up to in February?

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