Category Archives: Chats

How To Plan A Room Makeover (Part One)

How To Plan A Room Makeover (Part One)

Planning a room makeover can be quite an overwhelming experience especially if you don’t have a fresh clean slate, so I wanted to create this starting guide to help you get started on the process. I believe there will be additional posts along the way once my plans come into place more, but as always, I’ll link them below when they are available.

I have always loved interior design ever since I can remember. I’m not interested in fashion, but when it comes to wall colours alongside decorative pieces, I could spend all day in a home ware store like someone would a clothes shop. I loved watching “Changing Rooms” in the evenings when I was younger then “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” came in my prime teen years, and I was absolutely in love with it. I also grew up spending hours at the weekends playing “The Sims” with building and decorating the house being my favourite part of the game.

When we first started working from home, we had to quickly turn our unorganised spare room into a temporary office and the more time I spent time in the room, the more ideas I have had for how I wanted to style it in the future. It’s a room that I had seen for so long as “that room that we need to organise” to “that room that I really want to make into a nice space”. Spending so much time in a room other than the bedroom or the living room, can really give you a mass of creative ideas and before we had to work from home, I just thought “Oh, I’ll get around to it eventually”.

corinne-kutz-eeqFjT6q_sQ-unsplash(Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash)

I believe there are a number of points you really need to consider before starting any decorating or purchasing process, six to be exact and I’ve listed them below.

Is it a priority?

When you’re starting with any project, whether it’s to do with work or your personal life, you can’t expect to jump in head first and do everything all at once. For example; if you really need a wardrobe because your chest of drawers isn’t holding all your clothes, those bedside tables that you really want, may have to wait. You’ll also probably want to plaster the walls and paint (or wallpaper) the room first before bringing any new furniture in or you will want to look at how much you can afford to spend before you start buying any materials.

What is your style?

If you know your style, you’re pretty much good to go on this front. However, if you have no idea where to start, Pinterest and Instagram will be your best inspiration. It’s best not to try and go for “the style of the moment” because we all know how fast that changes and unless you want to keep decorating, it’s better to try and find a style that fits you, rather than trying to fit in with the style.

haley-lawrence-aTskggcICgI-unsplash(Photo by Haley Lawrence on Unsplash)

What size is the room?

Knowing the size of the room is one of the most important things you need to know straight away because it’s a huge part of the decorating process. There is nothing worse than seeing furniture that you fall in love with or searching for that perfect wallpaper, but not being able to buy it straight away because you don’t know if the furniture will fit or how much wallpaper you will need.

We’ll take a bedroom for example; you may love your bed but want to change your bedside tables and your wardrobe so you have to take into consideration the size of the furniture you currently have and if you are able to buy something bigger. Two questions that you have to ask yourself also if you’re purchasing a large piece of furniture is will it fit through the door and can I get it upstairs? We all remember that famous scene from “Friends” where Ross shouts ‘pivot!’ (One of my favourite episodes!) but it’s an important lesson to still remember so many years on. You may have to build your furniture in the room, and in that case, it’s completely fine but if you’re having to bring something through the house and up the stairs, just make sure you can do that without damaging anything.

What are you planning to keep in the room?

If you’re starting a room from scratch, almost like moving into a new build, it’s so clean and fresh; this won’t be something that is relevant but if you’re re-decorating a room entirely, then you need to choose what you want to keep within the room. (I touched on this slightly above!)

blake-carpenter-IAt-hOgKDTE-unsplash(Photo by Blake Carpenter on Unsplash)

What is your budget?

This reflects back to my suggestion of looking at Pinterest and Instagram. Often we can come across images of these gorgeous houses with all the trimmings but they will be from multi-million pound houses and sometimes you feel like you need to spend lots of money adding to the decor. That can be the dangerous thing with taking your inspiration from social media, but as long as you know from the get-go that you only need to spend what YOU can afford, and not what you THINK you should spend. It might be the case for many people, I know it is for me; that you have to decorate in stages. You might be able to plaster, paint and wallpaper the room but you can’t afford to furnish it just yet and that’s completely fine because that’s what you can afford to do. You’ll also need to think about cost if you’re bringing in anyone external too. If you can do everything at once, that’s also great, but don’t feel pressured to do that if you don’t have the means to. Getting yourself into debt is something that you don’t want to do, all for the sake of a room make-over.

Are you being realistic?

This should be the last question you ask yourself and if you say no to any of the above questions, you have to re-evaluate. If you’re not giving yourself enough time, if you’re set your budget too high or if you’re not happy with where the process is going; take a step back and question why it’s not realistic.

designecologist-csVPdj60E1A-unsplash(Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash)

I’m really excited to add to this little series because we’re planning a room make-over ourselves so it will be nice to not only document it to look back on, but to share the process of how we went from zero to finished too. If you have any additional tips, please let me know over on my Twitter or my Instagram. Have a lovely week! ☀️

What Lockdown Taught Me About My Productivity.

What Lockdown Taught Me About My Productivity.

This topic has been weighing on my mind for a few weeks now because as someone who has been through from one extreme to the other when it comes to being productive and wanting to be constantly on the go, to struggling to do anything and then in turn, feeling terrible for not making the most of the day. I’ve been through both the highs and lows of both sides so it felt natural to talk about especially as we see the mixed messages from the online world about taking advantage of the more free time we have.

My mindset around productivity previously and for so many years was focused on being productive every day. While I loved the weekends, I would feel so much pressure to do something that was note worthy during the downtime from work. As a lot of the world is currently in lockdown and for me at least, we’re only allowed to go shopping for essentials and we’re also allowed out for exercise; we all have more free time than we ever had before. (Obviously not counting parents in this, I’m not a parent but I don’t know if you ever get free time once children are in the picture…)

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(Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash)

For many of my behaviours, counselling was something that helped me in more ways than one and during this period, I have been able to circle back into that time about what I had learned. While I’m currently not taking part in my therapy sessions anymore (I’m still in contact with my therapist from time-to-time but I’m not going on a weekly or monthly basis anymore, however if I do need the support, I know I can book an appointment at any point) during that time, we were able to identify that this was one of the mindsets that was holding me back from just taking a break and relaxing. At the time, there were a number of factors going on in my life and would use the weekends to be productive because I was using the productivity as a coping mechanism for my unhappiness. I was pushing myself to write all these to-do lists and achieve all these tasks because that was the validation that I needed at the time. When I wouldn’t complete a to-do list, I got really frustrated at myself and I felt like a failure; even if I had completed nineteen out of twenty tasks, I didn’t consider that a “win” because I didn’t complete them all. I’ll be honest, that was a really really hard mindset to work through, it took much longer than I thought and while I still tend to get those tendencies, they’re not so common now but I did start to see them flare up during lockdown.

I absolutely love being productive, don’t get me wrong. There’s no better feeling than planning out your day with the tasks you have to do and when you get them all done, it’s fantastic. The problem lies, or at least it lies with me, when we’re being fed messages that we can only feel proud of ourselves or we only deserve to rest when we have been productive. That’s where the mixed messages on social media have been for me especially when we’re being told that we should be “seizing this opportunity” as much as we can.

jess-bailey-94Ld_MtIUf0-unsplash(Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash)

Now, I’m all for going after your goals, I really am. I love New Year’s Resolutions, I set up my own Continue, Start and Stop plan; while I might not always follow through on my own goals, I do try to as best as possible. When we all realised that this would mean working from home and eventually going into lockdown (in the UK at least) I was under the assumption that I was going to get so much done and to that point, I have achieved quite a lot (in my eyes at least).

This “opportunity” we have, even the wording I have trouble with because it’s not a holiday or even something that we can be thankful for. We’re in a global pandemic where hundreds of thousands of people have died and many more have been affected by the disease in one way or another. You don’t need me to tell you that of course but it’s not an opportunity, it’s a time where we can all be as socially responsible as possible and stick to the rules our governments have set for us, for no matter how long this will last. One thing we can be thankful for is that many of us are safe and well, and we are very grateful for our service workers; whether that’s in health care, our retail staff or our carers, and many more of those who are putting themselves in risky situations so we can remain safe.

riccardo-mion-DD8zES9GF_Y-unsplash(Photo by Riccardo Mion on Unsplash)

Over this period, I have found it important to think about the things that I have loved doing and that’s okay if that’s watching a couple of episodes of Community on Netflix or trying my hand at baking. If I write four blog posts in one day, that’s just as great if I had a nap and went for a longer daily walk. The former and the latter are both have a positive impact on my mental health and while it’s not in the traditional sense of being productive, it’s productivity in a way that I never thought I would be able to understand before.

This period has truly taught me that doing nothing is perfectly fine, but wanting to be productive and check those to-do lists is also just as fine. In my head, I knew that both scenarios were okay because I had been working on it during and post-therapy but I guess I’ve never been forced into staying at home as much where I could practice being still with both situations. Productivity is what you want it to be, and not something based off someone else’s standards, it’s only your standards that you should worry about, and even then, our standards are often far too high at times. We all need to give ourselves a break from time to time and I think that’s what I have appreciated from lockdown most of all.

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As always, thank you so much for reading and if you have any similar blog posts you think I should read, let me know over on my usual Twitter and Instagram channels. Have a great day!

The Next Chapter: Moving In With My Boyfriend.

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As I put this post live, I have recently handed in my thirty day notice to my rented house as I begin to move in with my boyfriend. That’s what today’s post is about; why we decided to do it and what some of the biggest changes will be.

My boyfriend and I have been together for over two and a half years now, but even from the first year, we’ve talked quite fondly about moving in together. I met him three months after I moved into my own place so I knew I wanted to take my time and not rush the process because I wasn’t ready. I had never had my own place before so I wanted to absorb it all and be on my own, and by doing that, I would know when the right time was. We had actually originally discussed not moving in together until we were engaged but as we got further on in our relationship, it became apparent that none of us wanted to wait that long. 

We do live quite close to each other and because we spend so much time together, it made sense. While it’s not the sole reason, one of our main reasons is financial; it’s pretty clear that when two people move in together, you will save a lot of money and because we’re always wanting to save for a new holiday or to fix another room in the house up, it makes sense to put that money towards something beneficial for us rather than me spending double the amount on my rent and bills. Of course, the main reason we wanted to do this is because we love each other and we wanted to take the next step in our relationship. (Yes, okay, please puke because it’s so cute!)  It hasn’t been without a small population of people warning us about “really getting to know each other” when we’re under each others feet, and while I understand their point, I’m excited for the next step (even if it means slightly more arguments than usual, because what’s a relationship without a disagreement or two, right?).

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A lot of people tend to look at the challenges when something like this, but we tend to try and find out what we need to focus on or what the biggest changes will be because as much as we’ve heard the normal challenges (Ie. moving boxes back and forth), we’re looking at it from a positive angle to set the precedent for the future: 

Doing separate activities and having date nights.

I believe it’s important for any relationship to be comfortable around each other to watch TV in silence or for one to read a book while the other plays a game but sometimes you can get a little too used to that. We all need time on our own, whether that’s simply alone time or time to spend on a hobby.  For example, I love blogging and I tend to write my best work in one of my favourite coffee shops so I normally pop over there for a few hours on my own; whereas Scott writes reviews for a film review website so he normally likes to be on his own in the living room for that while watching the film on screen. I go to Girl Guides on a Thursday and he has a second job of doing merchandising so we do have our own separate activities to make sure we’re not living on top of each other. 

What we also have to keep in mind is that we make time to go out on dates; I think because couples in long-term relationships are so used to each other’s company, especially if they live together; they tend not to go out as often and our thinking behind it, is that we know we won’t be able to do it as much when we have children, so we’re taking advantage now. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant or over-the-top but it could be a dinner and a movie night, a new sports activity that we haven’t tried yet or even seeing a comedy gig together. Because we’ll be saving money, we’ll have a little extra to splash on dates and we think it’s going to be a good opportunity to snap up while we can.

Helping Audrey adapt to her new surroundings.

This will be a quite a big challenge for my little Audrey and I’m hoping she adapts well to it all; she’ll have more places to explore, and I’m hoping that because she’ll be able to explore the house more, she won’t scratch furniture as much. She’ll get more attention in the evenings too and Scott can’t wait to share the house with her because he genuinely loves her.

Observing and improving our morning routines.

As the months have passed, I haven’t been on top of my mornings as I should be. There are days when Scott will have slept in and vice-versa so we know that when the move does happen, we’ll adjust to when we both need to get up; whether that is for the gym, a run, a morning meal prep or simply for work. It might take a few days or even a few weeks but once we get into the rhythm of it, we’ll be pretty set, you know? Hopefully with the adjustment, we’ll be able to grasp better routines along the way too.

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Of course, there will be the usual things that moving boxes and furniture to his house, trying to find a place for everything, dumping or donating anything I don’t need or want any more, and changing my address over for EVERYTHING but the three things above are something I want to truly focus on. The packing is important but it’s happening no matter what, the changing addresses will happen over time once I get a change but making sure Audrey is okay in her new environment and making sure Scott and I keep our relationship fresh, are two things that are vital to keeping our home happy. The morning routines, like I said, will happen over time but that’s the power of motivation, will power and awareness over the first few weeks.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post! I didn’t want to necessarily write an advice piece because this is new to me so it’s more of an update. If you have any posts that you think would be relevant to what I have talked about today, please let me know either below in the comments, on my Twitter or on my Instagram.

Buying My First Car: What I Learned and My Advice to Others.

Buying My First Car

Today’s post has been a few months in the making; mainly because I didn’t want to write a “What I Learned…” about something I had for a week or a month, I don’t believe it would have been very beneficial so today’s post is all about buying my first car and why I went down the route I did. 

My history with cars has been pretty simple. I’ve been on my Grandad’s insurance since I started driving six years ago, I was also on my Dad’s insurance as well as an ex-boyfriend’s and my brother’s, and I have also rented a few cars for a small number of weekends away. I’ve driven probably less than ten cars but they’ve all been so different (as all cars are of course) so I’ve known overtime I can adapt to pretty much any car, not straight away but it doesn’t take too long. 

Where I live, it’s not too far from the city centre; you can get there by an eight minute bus or a half hour walk. My (not so new) job means that it’s a six minute drive or a half an hour walk, but I’ve only ever walked to my job once (One of the downfalls of having a car is that it’s harder to walk everywhere when you’re so used to driving) I had a car that I was borrowing for a few months but I knew it wasn’t going to be mine forever and I knew that my job was going to be moving offices, I just didn’t know when. Our new office is accessible by public transport but it was going to be a twenty minute walk to the bus stop and then an additional fifteen minutes bus journey, which I know isn’t bad considering people are sometimes on a bus for hours each day. For me however, I thought a car would be much more beneficial than getting public transport, not just for work but for groceries at the weekend and day trips too. Yes, you could technically say I’m feeding into the emissions in the air, but I try my best when I can when it comes to helping the planet. 

IMG_20180806_165226_393.jpg(This is my dream car! We rented this one time when we were taking a staycation weekend trip and I absolutely loved driving it.)

I’m not a car person; I didn’t know makes and when someone asked me about a car, I would normally only remember the colour. Not the best attitude to start looking for a car I know, so I had to do some research. Mind you, I didn’t have to do loads because I was looking for a simple car that was going to get me A-to-B but I wanted to make sure that it was going to be a good runner and without the pain of having to get it fixed every few months. I had started searching on websites that had private owners but I came to the decision pretty early on that I wanted to go to an official dealer instead and see what they had to offer.  

I didn’t have the money to buy a car outright so that was another big influence in going to a dealer rather than someone private. I had heard of the finance options that were available and I felt a little lost because I didn’t want to get a car on finance originally but knowing my financial income and wanting a car, this was the only route to go down. Turns out it’s not as bad as I had thought; at first I thought it was a complete waste of money and in the end you wouldn’t own the car but you actually can do this, depending on what finance option you go for. 

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(This is Penelope, isn’t she a cutie!)

I’ve now had my car for around three months (at the time of writing this post) and I thought I would give you my advice on what to look for and what to do when you’re buying your first car. 

Look at what finance options are available to you. 

Finance can be a mind-field if you let it be, and because it is an investment, it’s important to know what your options are. There is PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) or HP (Higher Purchase) both have their advantages and their disadvantages but I personally went with HP. It’s over five years and because it’s longer, the repayments are less. There is also the option of getting a loan, whether that’s from the Credit Union (if you’re part of one) or from your Bank; they tend to have good interest rates especially if you’re already a customer. I found this really good article by the Money Advice Services on the different types of payment options for a car (https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/car-finance-explainedso if you’re looking for a more in-depth look on the options available, I’d recommend that. 

Know what type of car you would like and what you’re using it for. 

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted a simple car that I could use to drive myself to work, take to the shops for the weekly shop and to go out on road trips. I wasn’t going to be using it to bring furniture one place to another so I didn’t mind it was a smaller car. I didn’t need a huge boot and a small boot would encourage me not to pack it so much. The bigger the car, normally the bigger the price so I knew if I didn’t need a big car, I wouldn’t get a big car.  

Set a budget and stick to it. 

I fell in love with the Nissan Juke when I rented it and that is my dream car, but it just wasn’t in my budget. Scott and I had discussed buying the car together and splitting the repayments, and while he wasn’t going to drive it, he still wanted to pay towards it. This meant that I wasn’t doing it on my own but we still looked at a price that would let us both live comfortably and being able to pay petrol and anything else that may be needed towards it. You also have to look at the price in terms of the extras that you may or may not want to pay. I got extras which I do regret some of them now, I don’t believe I need them that much and I could go without them but that’s a lesson for my next car. 

Ask someone who knows the right questions to ask. 

As someone who doesn’t know anything about cars, I asked my Grandad and Scott’s Dad about cars because they are much more knowledgeable than me and they were both really helpful. I think it’s important to ask for help especially when you’re making such a huge commitment as to buying your first car (or buying a car in general). It’s a massive payment and it’s a long term investment which should be taken seriously, so asking those questions no matter if you think they are silly, is still important. 

Experience the cars in real-life. 

Photographs are great sure, but having a look around the car, seeing what it’s like inside is something that you can’t experience online. I think it’s fantastic being able to see a wide range of cars online but if you can narrow down your choice then make a few appointments to go and see a few cars to see if you really like them. Will you be comfortable driving it? What is the exterior like? Is it bigger or smaller in real life than you had imagined? You’re under no obligation to buy a car when you’re just looking but it can really help if you even take it for a test drive. You might like the overall look of the car but maybe not how it drives, so it’s important that you’re not just going by picture alone.  

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Thank you for reading today’s post! I hope that could be helpful to at least one person and if you have any similar posts you’d like to share; please leave them down below in the comments, over on my Twitter or my Instagram. 

 

 

My Experience of Anti-Depressants: One Year On (Part One)

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Next month (June) will mark one year since I started on my anti-depressants and because one of the focuses of my blog is mental health, I wanted to discuss briefly on how I got to that point and in my post that will follow this, I’ll talk about how I have been feeling during this period while on them. I just want to put it out there; this is in no way a sympathy post, I personally think it’s important to talk about different ways we cope with certain situations in our lives and this is one of the ways I have been able to cope, and if we can encourage others to talk to professionals about how they are feeling, then the world will be a better place. 

(Just as a disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, I’m in no position to give out medical advice; this post is simply talking about my experience going to the GP and making the decision that was best for me at this period in my life.) 

I’m not sure about you but anti-depressants in my opinion, have never had the greatest reputation and I don’t really know why. I’ve heard them described as “numbing” and “short-term gain” which is two things they can do perfectly but for me, they have been so much more than that. I was recently listening to Dr. Phil’s podcast “Phil In The Blanks” and he was talking to one of my favourite people Dax Shepard. They were discussing going to the doctors and Dr. Phil said that quite a lot of general practitioners are very quick to subscribe pills and let the patient go. I’ve heard this a few times from different people, both in real life and on line, saying that when they were going to the doctors, they would listen to them for two minutes and put them on anti-depressants. Knowing that this was the experience for a few people I had heard, I was already preparing myself not to be listened to and being given pills.  

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Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with my experience. I went and spoke to my regular doctor. I went over what had been doing as briefly as I could within a doctor’s allotted time slot and what was interesting with this visit was that they asked could one of the student doctors ask me questions to get a background on me before going into the appointment, and I was fine with that. It was a nice experience because it was an additional ten minutes, I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise so she had asked me why I was there today and why I thought I had been feeling this way. She asked me about past experiences so I was very open with what had been happening with me over the last few years; I also talked about going to CBT and I said that it had been amazing but there was still something just not right. I had been able to change most of my thinking patterns but my body wasn’t responding to those patterns sometimes. Once that was finished, I spoke to my regular doctor after the student doctor had told him what we had discussed and I already felt at ease about the experience. I was no longer worried that they were going to throw pills at me and be on my way. One of the main points he had asked me about my tiredness and I was completely straight with him, I told him that I can’t remember the last time I WASN’T tired and that’s completely true. Give me five hours, eight hours or twelve hours of sleep, I will still be tired. He was concerned about that considering I was still in my mid-twenties so when he asked me about my diet, I told him I was vegan and that’s when he suggested going on iron tablets and in my head, I rolled my eyes. It’s that classic vegan line, “Oh maybe you’re not getting enough iron” but I went with it because as much as I rolled my eyes, I probably wasn’t getting enough iron to be absolutely fair to him. He was very clear though; we’ll try the iron tablets for a few weeks and see if everything else lifts; and if it doesn’t, then we’ll look at something else. 

I left that day knowing that iron tablets weren’t going to be the cure all. Simply because I have been tired since I was around fourteen; and at fourteen I was eating meat, getting enough sleep and being a typical teenager so using the reasoning of my vegan diet, I just knew it was something more. However, I’m a woman of my word so I took my iron tablets, went back a few weeks later to get a few blood tests, and booked another appointment to see a doctor for another few weeks down the line while I was there. 

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This time around, I didn’t have my regular doctor which was fine, because you have to wait a few weeks for an appointment so at this point, I just wanted to speak to someone! My notes from the previous session had been on the system (albeit very brief) and I talked about being there last time and how I had felt so I had been put on iron tablets but I didn’t feel any better, I actually felt worse. She had checked my results and my iron had shot up dramatically which I was shocked at because many people think that if your iron levels are normal, you aren’t as tired (I’m living proof that this is not the case). We determined that this was something else and I spoke about how I had been feeling, and ironically during this visit, I had been told I was being made redundant just a few days before so understandably, I was still very emotional and I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons I was feeling worse (though not the only reason). I know all about self-care and looking after yourself so I stressed that I socialised, I looked after my body with the food it needed and the exercise it craved. There’s this huge perception online that you can cure “sadness” (or whatever you choose to call it) with good food and exercise, and while that may be true for some, it’s not always the case for everyone else. I sat in tears because I was tired; I had spent the first part of the year feeling completely miserable (and the first three months crying almost every day at little things). I should have gone to the doctor earlier, I know that now but I thought the sadness was go away at some point. We talked about the options and I had mentioned that I was currently going through CBT and while it was working great with some areas of my life, my head wasn’t able to catch up. She asked me how I felt about anti-depressants, and I raised my concerns. I told her that I was worried about being on them forever because I didn’t want to dependant on a tablet forever and change my hormones; it’s actually a huge reason I have never been on birth control, because I wanted to be in control of my body. I was desperate, I sat there in tears and told her that I thought I was depressed and I had thought it for a while but I never wanted to admit it. I had only ever mentioned the emotion “depressed” very few times in that time period because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I had been in pain for a while but because I thought it was “just go away”, I waited and waited and it only got worse. She confirmed that this was more than being “sad” and that it was much deeper; she said the anti-depressants would be my best option for now and down the road we would review it.  

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After hearing the horror stories of others saying that GP’s just want to hand out pills and be done with it; based on my experience this was not what happened with me. I felt listened to, I felt like both my GP’s had compassion and it wasn’t being dismissed. While I didn’t feel like the iron tablets would do anything at the first appointment, I know now they just wanted to check that was okay first before moving onto to something else. No GP has ever sat me down and told me I have depression so for that reason, I don’t feel like I can say I have depression but I describe them as depressive episodes. Do GP’s explicitly say “I’m diagnosing you with depression” I don’t know so that’s why I don’t like saying I have depression because it’s never been confirmed to me, but I know it’s more than a sad phase. 

As I mentioned at the beginning, there will be Part Two to this post (because I didn’t think that this would end up this long) and I’ll be discussing how I have felt over the last year being on anti-depressants and why my perceptions have changed completely on them.  

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; I know it’s quite a personal post but I thought it was important to talk openly (or as openly as I felt comfortable with) about what has been going on with my mental health. It can only take one conversation to help and while I’m not the most open person on the planet, I still think it’s important to talk to someone you trust AND a professional. Have a great day! ☀️

Three Simple Ways I Got Back On Track.

Three Simple Ways I Got Back On Track

In Part One of this post (Four Mindset Changes To Help You Get Back On Track) I talked about how changing my mindset around certain areas was important for me to get back on track after a break. Today’s post is all about three changes I made myself to make sure I was working towards my goals. 

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Meal prepping. 

I am such a strong advocate for meal prep! If you meal prep your lunches like I do, then you can relate to the feeling of knowing what you’re having for lunch for that day or that week, and knowing you don’t have the worry about grabbing something at the shop last minute. The most important factor for me is I know what is going into my food; I make a chickpea, tumeric and quinoa curry from Delicious Ella and it’s really easy to make plus it’s not full of ingredients that you wouldn’t know where to buy them from. From chopping, boiling and cooking time, I would say it’s around an hour and a half so it’s not a very long time which is why I get up early on a Monday morning to make it. It means that I don’t have an excuse to not get up because if I don’t, then I don’t have my lunch, and I’ll have to spend extra money in the shop for something that is more than likely, not as great for me as my original lunch would have been.

Other meal prep can take hours, even half a day and many can simply take a few minutes. It’s really up to you; who you are cooking for, what type of food is it, what meal it will be for, how many times a week you will be eating it. That’s where a little planning comes in and once you have your plan down, you’ll be good to go.

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Using one list and one list only. 

Now to-do lists can be my best friend and sometimes they can be my enemy; however I have found over the last year that my mindset with to-do lists has changed dramatically. They used to really terrify me and make me overwhelmed, it was something I worked very hard on in therapy but using an app called “Wunderlist”, I have found a little hack for myself which makes life so much easier.

I create a list every week in my own folder named with the starting date on Monday and the end date of the Sunday, and I put all my to-do’s in one list. Sounds extreme I know, but I then put in brackets about the ideal day I would like to do the activity on. This means I have able to space out the activities over certain days and not feel overwhelmed.

Here’s an example: Monday 29th April to Sunday 5th May. On this list, were the most important tasks I wanted to do that week. These included: cleaning out my cat’s litter tray, emptying various bins around the kitchen, washing the car, meeting my friend for lunch, batch cooking my lunches and going for a food shop. See? A wide range of activities from housework, to social time to necessities. I try and write everything out at the start of the week along with the day I hope to have it planned for, then as soon as I have finished it, I tick it off. Very simple but it has a really positive impact on how I look at what I need to do within my week. 

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Waking up early and going to bed early. 

On my meal prep day, I get up at 5am which I know is very early (Trust me, I know but it’s very very worth it!) but I certainly can’t go to bed at 1am like I used to, especially during a work week. I make it a priority now to leave Scott’s house earlier than usual if I’m there, to make sure I’m getting ready for bed, winding down and heading to sleep. It’s as simple as that and sure, at first it was hard going to sleep early but you soon get there.  Waking up early and going to bed early can be challenging (especially if you’re like me and you really like a cosy warm bed in the morning, I really do feel your pain!) but if I don’t push myself to do these things, the thing that I wat to change, won’t actually change because I’m not willing to.

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I’m certainly not perfect and I haven’t found myself in the perfect gym routine yet because I’m not as used to get up early every single day as I once was or to push myself to the gym in the evening because I’m exhausted, but I’ll get there someday soon. I know what I need to do to get there, and it’s all about those baby steps that we talked about in the previous post.

Okay, so it’s not life changing or rocket science but it really is simple things that I have managed to work out and plan into my life but as always, no-one is going to be the exact same. You may have different priorities and that’s okay; it’s always about working with what you have, what you need and what your goals are.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s post, it’s always nice to look back over the last few weeks to see that I have progressed. It’s sometimes hard to notice when you’re living day after day but taking a moment of reflection every once in a while, can have a massive impact. Let me know if you enjoyed my post, or if there’s anything else you’d like me to post about (I’m always open to new ideas!) over on my Twitter, my Instagram or down below!

Are Blog Schedules That Important?

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Ever since I started writing on the blog again, I have found it difficult to know whether I should stick to a blog schedule or not, so it’s a topic that I would like to discuss, to see if it resonates with anyone else. 

I used to be really proud of my schedule; I posted every Wednesday and Sunday for months without fail. I felt my content was working for me and I felt motivated. I believe this was more to do with the fact that I wasn’t stuck to one subject; I have a range of topics on the blog so it makes it easier to broaden my horizons. More recently since the beginning of the year, I didn’t mind too much if I didn’t post on my exact days because I would rather write zero content rather than “write for the sake of writing” and I made my peace with that. I believe that made me a better writer, because I only want to write when I feel like I can bring good content.

It got me thinking, “is there a point to having weekly schedule?” I don’t have a big following, certainly not enough where people are patiently waiting for my post to be published but I know that I do have readers. I don’t think anyone would mind if I posted on a Sunday one week than a Thursday the next, then maybe the next Tuesday. What is more important to me is consistency but in a different perspective; while keeping to a schedule is consistent, so is having at least one blog go out a week on any day.

The blogs I read or the YouTube videos I watch, I don’t necessarily look at the dates (However, if someone posts in a group about their new post but you look at the date, and it’s a year old then that’s where I have an issue… it’s not new content) I look at what they’re talking about. It’s really as simple as that. I choose carefully what type of posts I read like we all do really; we’re not going to read blog posts we don’t like, are we? It’s a waste of time.

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As we always hear, quality over quantity and I’ll admit that I used to rush posts to get them out in time to make sure I had a post for a particular day. I was never proud of those posts but I thought because I had my set schedule, I HAD to do it. I never “had to”, no-one was holding me accountable apart from myself. I put too much pressure on myself every week to commit, which I thought would make me a better writer, but it would often burn me out instead. I’ll give you an example; my Sunday Saves that I did for over a year, I was really proud of that series but it started to get tedious. Don’t get me wrong, it was so easy to write because I read quite a few blogs so I always had new content to write about and include, but I got bored of the process. It took me quite a while to move on from it but looking back now, I’m glad I did because if I had have continued that, I would have lost my creativity for the blog in the long-run.

I can certainly see the positives to blog schedules because I often look at it like other every day routines; having a schedule lets you get back on track faster if you “fall off the wagon” and if you have a deadline set, your brain can often get “in the zone” because it knows it has an expiry coming up. I can completely understand it but we all work differently when it comes to trying to get into “your zone” and that’s something I’ve been learning about in one of the books I have been reading recently.

I’m not saying I do have a schedule but I’m not saying I don’t; I’m figuring that out at the minute but I know that my content is much more important that what day of the week it has been posted on, so I know I’m on the right path at least.

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Is a weekly schedule important to you? Does it matter when a post has first gone live or as long as you are consistent, does that matter more? Please let me know your thoughts on this either down below, on Twitter or on Instagram.

Alphabet Dating.

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Dating is fun and going on dates when you’re in a long-term relationship is so important to keep that connection with your partner so today’s blog post is focused on the concept of alphabet dating.

I’ve heard the idea of alphabet dating float around for the last few years; It’s not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination but I thought it would be quite fun to try out. Sometimes when you’re in a relationship, you tend to do the same things and while that’s a really comfortable feeling, you always want to be kept on your toes. Alphabet dating is what it says on the tin really; it’s when you make a list of date days or date ideas based on the alphabet. Now, there’s a few things on the list that I have either already done before or have started this year, but I wanted to start the list fresh for 2019. So, if I completed something last year, it doesn’t count and I have to re-do it but I have started something this year, then I can add it.

I’ll be updating this list from this point forward to show that we have done our activities together. (And hopefully, I’ll have picture evidence for them all!)

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[A] Go to an aquarium.

[B] Go on a tour bus around Belfast.

[C] Walk to the top of Cavehill.

[D] Take a dance class.

[E] Explore a new town in Northern Ireland.

[F] Have a film day.

[G] Have a board game night.

[H] Take a hot air balloon ride.

[I] Try out indoor climbing.

[J] Building a jigsaw together.

[K]

[L] Learn a new language. 
(We’ve started to learn polish! We began just before the New Year and have done it every single night since then, which we thrive off. If you want to read more about us learning a new language and why exactly we chose Polish, click the link above to read Scott’s blog post on it.)

[M] Run a half-marathon distance.

[N] Go on a mid-night adventure.

[O] Have an Office US marathon.

[P] Creating our own picnic.

[Q]

[R] Go on a running tour.

[S] Wake up early to see the sunrise.

[T] Have a night at the theatre.

(We did this in Toronto with Whitney and Mat for a show called “Come From Away”. It was so fantastic and I would highly recommend catching it if you can!)

[U] Unplug from entertainment for one day.

[V] Growing our own vegetables.

[W] Watch a new TV show.

[X] Visit an exhibition. (I know this is cheating but X is hard!)

[Y] Yoga. 
(Okay, so we’ve been doing yoga together for a few months albeit it hasn’t been that often but I bought us an unlimited pass at one of our local yoga studios so I blogged about the types of classes we went to and how I felt afterwards.)

[Z] Having a day trip to the Zoo.

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Now there are two spaces on my list, K and Q and quite honestly, Q is really hard and I had thought of ideas for K, but none I really wanted to do. As much fun as karaoke is, it’s not my thing and it’s not Scott’s either. So I’ve decided the two blank spaces are going to be ones that we can put anything into over the course of the year.

Have you ever tried alphabet dating? Have you any more ideas? Let me know either down in the comments, over on Instagram or on Twitter. Thank you for reading!

My Relationship With Faith and Religion.

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Today’s post is something that I never thought about writing until recently. Religion fascinates me and while it’s something I don’t know a lot about, I feel like it’s important to reflect on religion and your own journey with it in order to learn more about others. 

Last year and the latter part of the year before, I questioned whether I should go back to church. I wasn’t religious at that point but I felt like I needed a purpose in my life and I felt like church would give me that. I don’t know if I was expecting an overwhelming response once I walked through the halls or it would be something that I felt over time. 

I went to Sunday School very young and I stayed there until I finished Primary Seven, and I remained in a church led organisation a few months before my 17th birthday. If you read my “Volunteering with the Girl Guides” post; I write about how I was in the Girls Brigade before moving to the Rainbows then up to the Brownies and Guides. All four organisations were church led and still seem to be, but you don’t need to be a member of the church to go. It seems to be very inclusive. 

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For me, the problem with religion is there are the few that spoil it for the rest. This small majority refuse to let others have their own beliefs, and believe it is their way, and that’s all. I’ll give you an example: One night, Scott and I were sitting in his house when the door went. It was two fairly elderly women who looked like they wouldn’t hurt a fly, and Scott being Scott, stood at the door with them. I would never shut the shut on anyone (unless I felt threatened of course) but after around half an hour, I did wonder why Scott was still engaged with them both. After asking was he open to the Lord, they proceeded about a minute or two later to declare that anyone who wasn’t with the Lord, was going to hell. This was said multiple times and they kept asking him why he wasn’t open to it. I felt like that was a very personal question; something which I wouldn’t mind answering but some people may not feel comfortable with that. Looking at it from an outsides point of view, a conversation like that would put me off considering joining a church. Constantly asking if we are open to it, why we haven’t done it, what would happen to those if they don’t; it’s a very negative space and it comes across forceful. 

Growing up, Christianity was all I knew, no-one had taught me any differently. Towards the end of my time with the Guides, we had to go to a church service once a month and when I was even younger than that, I would go with my Mum and my Granny. Not every week mind you but it was something that I remember doing. We weren’t a heavily influenced family by any means; we weren’t at church very single week and it was something that definitely drifted away once I left Sunday School. 

I believe in something, I simply don’t know what that “something” is. I absolutely love the idea of crystals and tarot, it’s an idea that I want to explore in the future, and while it’s not exactly a faith or religion, it’s still within the spirituality flow. I don’t necessarily believe that there is one good or that there is a heaven and a hell (although, if you haven’t, I encourage you to watch The Good Place and fall in love with it!) Sometimes it’s even hard to tell what is good and what is bad; would it be based on your own perceptions or someone else’s? What you think is bad, might not be that bad, and vice versa.  

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Meditation and mindfulness is often connected with Buddhism and I think that’s why I have connected with it much more in the last year or two. I don’t know a lot about Buddhism but I know for meditation, it’s all about being in the moment just with yourself and I truly believe that is the first step we all need to take before we let something else in. We need to become more focused on ourselves before we let external sources in because how can we let others in if we don’t know who we truly are first? 

A very different post for me today but I think it’s interesting to go outside our comfort zone and really challenge what we believe (or don’t believe) and question why we don’t. If you have any related posts that you think would be of interest, please feel free to send them my way either through the comments below, my Twitter or my Instagram. Have a great day and thank you so much for reading! 

Is There Unwarranted Pressure Around Veganism?

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The world of veganism is growing year upon year, and as a vegan myself, I couldn’t be prouder. I wanted to talk a little more about my journey with it, how my boyfriend is coping with it so far with his own short-term goals and why I still get frustrated with the perception of veganism. 

The start of January marked my two-year anniversary of becoming vegan and it still feels so strange to say that because that was never the plan. I had never planned to become vegan; I wanted to try Veganuary because it was something that I was fascinated by, and I was looking for another challenge. The nutrition side to a plant-based diet has always interested me and considering the food intolerances I was already dealing with, I wanted to see how I would cope. At that point when I tried Veganuary, I had been vegetarian for around ten months but I had adapted to that change quite easily. If you want to read about my vegetarian to vegan journey; I have a range of posts you can read which I’ll link to below:

Becoming A Vegetarian
What I Eat In A Day: Veganuary Style
So what happened after Veganuary?
How and why I turned vegan.

My boyfriend Scott, is adapting his diet to vegan this month for Veganuary and I never thought I would see him do this. I sometimes read threads online of other vegans asking could you be in a relationship with someone who wasn’t vegan, and for me, it’s never been an issue. Scott has been very up front about the reason that he’s trying veganuary (you can read his post here!) and it’s been an eye-opener for me to see someone who isn’t looking to permanently change his diet, to change it for a short-term period. 

I call myself his mentor as a joke, but he cooks the majority of our evening meals which have been all vegan, and whenever he wants, he cooks some meat on the side to add to his. We’re always double-checking labels together and we want to explore new recipes because as much as I love his vegetable korma, he wants to see what else is out there. We’re always questioning certain parts of the vegan lifestyle, and sometimes we agree and other times it can turn into a debate, but it’s a healthy debate. As much as it’s nice to have someone who is on the same wave length as you (which I absolutely value in any type of relationship) a healthy debate and another view point is something that I cherish too.  

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I believe Veganuary is a fantastic cause, whether that means that you continue being vegan (like I did) or you plan on cutting down your animal-based products further afterwards, it’s still a step in the right direction. There seems to be so much pressure on being vegan or becoming more eco-conscious which is something I am very passionate about but there are some individuals on the online space who seem to follow the all-or-nothing thinking, which in turn, can deter others from trying to make a change. I can understand that in order to help the planet, one of the biggest changes you can make, is to your diet but sometimes that’s not possible for people. You may have to be on a specialised diet that means you have to cut out so many food groups and individual foods that then cutting out additional food, may be too much. You may still live at home and can’t afford to buy your own food, so you have to eat the food that your parents or guardians eat. You may think that going vegan cold turkey (excuse the pun!) is too much in one go; in that case, it may be easier to cut down on your red meat first, then move to chicken and slowly coming off fish. 

Personally, I think the whole philosophy of becoming vegan seems to be lost sometimes; part of the journey is about being compassionate, not just to the animals and the world around you, but to other people. There can be criticism to other people who choose not to follow the vegan lifestyle, and it can be understandable in some circumstances. When you first learn of the choices that are made against the animals for our food products (to give one of many examples) it can be hard to understand why someone would choose not to follow the same lifestyle. I believe we all get like that sometimes no matter what the subject choice is; we all have our own views and it can be hard to remember that not everyone will have the same opinion as you, but it’s something that over time, you start to realise that you won’t be able to change everyone’s opinion, that’s not your job. 

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For me, I’m so happy that Veganuary and the vegan lifestyle is becoming more popular, because the food ranges are absolutely fantastic and are getting better constantly, which is only a good thing. However, if you want to change your diet or change your lifestyle but feel like you can’t do it all in one go, that’s okay. You don’t have to turn a vegan overnight to make a real change for our planet; if it’s something that you can’t do, or simply don’t want to do, it’s a valid reason and you shouldn’t feel the need to have to justify your decision. There are many other ways you can help our environment without pushing yourself completely out of your comfort zone beyond the point where you’re not happy.  

Are you trying Veganuary this year? Have you tried it before, what were your thoughts with it? Do you think there is too much pressure sometimes on completely changing your lifestyle? I’d love to know your thoughts on anything I’ve talked about today. Thank you so much for reading, I really do appreciate it.