Thursday, 24 July 2014

The best laid plans…

Why do I suspect that this may not be the first time that I have used this title in a blog post? And possibly will not be the last?

So, as per my great and grand plans, I was breaking down my life into small, manageable chunks and tackling them one by one.

Great plan.

Simple and fabulous.

And while I still stand by that, life has a fun way of saying ‘ha-ha - think you’re in charge? Think again!’

I have been out of traditional employment since the beginning of the year. At first it was to get better after a flare and then it became more about re-prioritising my life, raising my new puppy and enjoying my simple life.

But as the money in my savings account started to dwindle away, stress-head Jo started to rear her ugly head and started to say things to make me panic. Things like ‘chocolate and books cost money’ and ‘I suppose you also need to eat more than just chocolate. Unfortunately’.

Reluctantly, I listened to her and started looking for jobs. Ever one to be just a little bit rebellious (but just enough rebellious that I still follow the rules - wouldn’t want to get in trouble after all!!) I decided to go hunting for a part-time position.

A couple of applications later and I had an interview. I was excited - mainly because I want money and a husband and both are more likely to be found out and about than in my house. Sadly enough. And I should know - I’ve looked. There are neither a six foot hunk nor a pile of lolly stashed under my bed.

The particular interview was set for 8.45am to 2.15pm. I know - right! I mean sheesh! Part of me wondered whether they didn’t have any staff at all and just made their interviewees undertake the work required. But anyway…

Then came the stress. Now, I don’t know about anyone else with Ulcerative Colitis but this is the bit that gets me; I could meditate until the cows came home but I just can’t control the fact that I get stressed and that the stress has really horrible consequences for my body. I don’t actually even realise it’s happening which makes it nigh on impossible to do anything about it. Even if I could.

It started a few days before my interview. The bleeding, the pain, the nausea, the decision to live in the toilet for a while, the worry and the fear. No matter how many times it happens, there’s a moment when you realise it’s happening once again and all you can do is sit there and let the tears come. As this is usually happening while on the, erm, privy, my forehead has become used to placing itself on the edge of the sink. It really is like slamming into a brick wall when you’ve been happily moving along the street, minding your own business.

Back to the interview - it went well enough. The task, the competency based interview and the role-playing exercise (ick - shouldn’t these kind of things be banned for introverts?) were fine even if I did pause mid interview to point out the canal boat that was sailing past the window behind the interviewers. Well - I thought it was important!!

Sadly, the job was not for me and despite my mature attitude now, I was sad and a little angry. Not that I didn’t get the job but that my body was ripping apart internally and I felt the pain of it with every movement - and it was not even worth it.

That’s when the depression reared it’s ugly head and dragged me down. I was too weak to fight it. I could barely eat and I felt like hell and I was ripe for the plucking of the evil depression.

And then I realised - why the hell do I put myself through this? I have always said that I’m not cut out for the corporate world. I’m the girl that notices the canal boat rather than the bottom line.

Why do I constantly try and mould myself into something I’m clearly not? My body knows it. My heart knows it. When will my mind catch up?


Now - I’m catching up.

I can’t take this anymore. I can’t do this anymore.

I have to do something.

So, buh-bye plans of a hot body (for the moment anyway). My first priority is to sort out how I am going to be able to maintain my life without selling my soul to the corporate world.

It’s not going to be easy but at least I’ll have my health.

Since all I want is to be happy - I think this is a damn fine first step.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

3 Things You Need Before You Change Your Life

I have been pondering and planning for a while now on how to start and continue with my blog. I know what I want to do - I want to chronicle my journey as I work to build the life that I’ve always wanted. If other people join with me as I share my life then the more the merrier.

I want to talk about:

  • my life as a historical novelist
  • my amazing husband
  • the clothes I make
  • the tasty food that I cook for my man and our kiddies
  • the lovely home we are in the process of remodelling into our dream home
  • my pride and joy - my garden - where I grow all my veggies and keep the chickens, Jeckyll and Hyde
  • the celebrations with my wonderful family
  • our crazy dogs - Tilly and Fudge
  • how I stay fit and healthy with ulcerative colitis
  • how I stay mentally fit after beating depression

Sounds great, no?

Just one teeny weeny tiny stumbling block - I don’t have even half of what I’m planning to blog about. I don’t have a hot bod, I’m not a novelist, I don’t have kids, my house and garden are merely  figments of my imagination and, among other things, I don’t have an awesome husband (hell, I don’t even have a crap one!).

So after numerous plans, calendars, spreadsheets and lists (I’m getting an organisationgasm just thinking about it!) I’m back to square one. As much fun as the lists were (and still are) and as much as I know where I want to go, it’s the middle bit that’s a big blur.

It’s like deciding to go to Liechtenstein (for want of a better place to go) on Tuesday 22nd July. You write lists of what to take, what sights you want to see when you get there, what local delicacies you want to try and how you’re going to spend your time. The 22nd July rolls round and you’re ready to go. But wait? Which road do I need to take get to Liechtenstein? Do I need to get a plane? Train? Hot air balloon?

How do I get to Liechtenstein for crying out loud?

I know that I want to go and that’s where I want to be but I have no idea which direction to take the first step in.

So, here is where I decided what I needed to do and where I get to play about with marker pens and paper (can I get a woo hoo!?).

First I wrote down all the areas of my life I want to change or improve. I suppose this is just like the list of things I want to blog about or a list of the attributes of the girl I want to be.

So the areas of my life I want to improve are:

So now my plan is to take each of these elements and focus on them individually. I think my problem has always been that I focus on the big rather than the small. What I mean by this is that I decide that from a specific day that I will change all aspects of my life. I’m so excited - this is it - here we go. In my haze of excitement, I fail to realise that I’m simply meandering along and playing at changing my life. Then I hit a snag. Whatever that may be, something derails my plans and instead of being able to brush myself off and carry on, because it’s an all-or-nothing type thing, I get disheartened and have to start back at the beginning.

This is why I’ve decided to trick myself by taking small steps.

If I focus on one thing at a time then I can celebrate each small victory. And, if I hit a snag in any of my mini challenges, it will be small enough to be surmountable and I can brush it off and keep going.

The other good thing is that some of the elements of my life I want to change are all interlinked. So, if I focus on improving my physical health, my mental health will naturally improve. My self-esteem and confidence should increase which will make it less stressful to improve my currently pathetic love life. It’s a snowball effect.

So, I know that I’m going to start with physical health but my detailed improvement plans (aka the middle) can wait for another blog post.

But this really has got me thinking about what you need before you change your life.

1. You need to know where you want to FINISH

If you have a goal that you want to achieve then that is your finish point. Whether that’s getting married, getting fit, moving house, getting a promotion - once you know what you want then you’re a third of the way there. This is your Liechtenstein.

2. You need the desire to START

Do you even want to go to Liechtenstein or are you going along because someone else thinks you should go?

At first I thought this was quite obvious - why would you be planning to change something in your life if you didn’t have any desire to do so? Then it came to me - perhaps someone is pressuring you to lose weight yet you are happy and healthy exactly the way you are. I have realised that some people (all of us, probably) don’t understand how other people can be happy with something that they themselves are not.

It’s like the story that you are given £500. You are delighted until you realise that your friend/colleague/sister got £1000. Suddenly that £500 is upsetting and not as good as the £1000. Imagine then that someone was still absolutely delighted with the £500. Would you think they were being truthful? Would you almost try and convince them that they should be upset, offended or want the £1000? Do we want them to be unhappy with their £500 or do we just assume that since we wouldn’t be happy, they shouldn’t be either?

So, the moral is only change something if it’s what you want to do. Don’t think about what other people have and what is expected. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to go for that promotion? Do you want to start dating again?
Sit down and honestly ask yourself what you want. One word of warning, though. Don’t let fear convince you that you don’t want something just because it will be difficult, scary or hard work. It’s fine not to want something. It’s not fine to want something then convince yourself you don’t because you’re scared.

3. You need a well-stuffed MIDDLE

This is the way you will get to Liechtenstein.

It’s easy enough to say that you want to be happy but what does that mean for you? So the middle section is really important but only if you have been specific in what it will take to make you happy.
The middle is the hard work. The middle is where you decide which path you will take to getting what you want. If you are focussing on your love life then you have to decide what’s the best way to get what you want. Will it be speed dating? Online dating? Hitting the bars? Or do you think you should take the time to know and like yourself before hitting the dating scene?

This is very personal. It’s your path. There’s no such thing as a detour on your path. If you got to Liechtenstein then realised that you wanted to see Belgium on the way, you would have to go back. Look at the time and energy you’ve wasted. Take your time - do it your way and when you get to Liechtenstein you’ll find yourself ready to stay.

So that’s me. Here we go taking one step at a time to get to Liechtenstein.

J x