Sunday, 31 January 2016

Starting Afresh: Take 2

I'm going to be brutally honest - January has been a bit shit for me.

Rather than being excited and enthusiastic about the whole 'fresh start' and 'chance to change my life' like I usually am - I'll admit that it's been a blur of bad choices, upset and a hopelessness that has almost become the norm in my day-to-day life.

And the worst thing is - I have no idea why.

Live Life Quote, Life Quote, Love Quotes and more -> Curiano Quotes Life

I know that depression is a flaw in chemistry rather than character - but boy is it hard not to blame yourself when you're feeling low, you don't know what's wrong and basically nobody can help.

You can help yourself, that you know - if only you can build up the enthusiasm.

Mentally and physically.

And when you can't it just reinforces the fact that this is all your fault. You are to blame for all your problems. Real, imagined, mentally and physically.

Things have changed to some degree. Despite having quite a good mask, my boss pulled me aside at the beginning of the month and questioned me about how I was feeling. She has a surprising ability to see beyond the image I present to the world. It's both appreciated and bloody annoying.

Being a crier - I cried at work until she forced me to see a doctor.

So I did. And cried some more.

He gave me new pills - yay - and the number of a therapist - yuch!

I don't like this second option for two reasons:

1) The first therapist I had was less than helpful. In fact, I'd go as far as to wonder how on earth she managed to get any kind of qualification to help those in need. Sheesh.

2) I'm an introvert. I. HATE. PHONES.

Just no.:  

Last but not least in my tale of January is my weight.

As I'm sure I've moaned about before eloquently expressed previously, a couple of years ago I took a course of steroids to control my ulcerative colitis and ended up being a slave to the side effects. I.e. the munchies. Witness me ballooning by 2 stone.

Well, 2 stone turned into 3 and is continuing to creep up due to my sugar addiction and, well, my sheer laziness.

So January was a chance to get my eating under control and getting back to exercising.

February 1st is my first weigh in.

I decided to do a pre-weigh in today (January 31st) to see how I was doing.

The answer to that question was +5lb of not very well. 

So that's it now - February begins the start of a new phase of my life.

My new mantra is this: 

So that's me starting afresh - take 2!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

10 Reasons to Read Romance

Reading has always been something that I loved to do. I was always the kid who would go back to school after the summer holiday with their reading sheet filled in on both sides (and an extra piece of paper for good measure) with all the books I had devoured.

I did suffer a lull when I hit my teens. At the time when I was a teenager there was a distinct lack of books that were aimed at my age range - more grown-up than a children’s book but not as ‘boring’ as all those adult books (please read in a know-it-all teenage voice!).

And then my mum introduced me to romance novels…

I should use this moment to thank my mum. The writers, printers, publishers and my bank manager would also like to thank my mum for the fact that her introduction has led to me single handedly keeping the romance industry afloat!

And so my obsession began.

And this obsession makes me happy. So, as the first part of my New Year’s resolution towards happiness, I have committed myself to reading a book every week.

And it’s even official since I’ve memorialised it by signing up for the reading challenge on GoodReads. Eeeek!

So, with that in mind, here are 10 reasons why it’s good to read (and specifically romance).

1. Stress reduction

I’m sure everyone at one time or another has felt stressed out - whether it’s for something huge like interviewing for a new job or something small likes the fact that someone continues to leave the toilet seat up. Or it could just be a general anxiety and stress over everyday living. Stress doesn’t discriminate.

But no matter how much stress you have or how often you have it - it is now scientifically proven that getting lost in a good book does you good and can actually reduce stress levels by 68%.

Read for just six minutes and your heart rate slows down, your muscles relax, your blood pressure lowers and your cognitive function increases. Reading works even better at reducing stress than listening to music, exercising or having a cup of tea. But I would still have a cup of tea when you sit down with your book like the doctors have now ordered you to do. Result.

2. Book boyfriends

Not only is your book boyfriend sexy, intelligent, understanding but you can have more than one of them on the go at any one time and no-one will think anything about your morals or character. You could be in bed with Jamie Fraser, on a carriage ride with Mr Darcy or even visiting the hardware store with Christian Grey - all at the same time. *swoon*

3. You will learn to read and speak good

When I was a teen and first started reading romance books, I kept a notepad by my bed where I wrote down all the words that I didn’t know. I wrote down a lot of words.

Over the years my vocabulary, spelling and grammar have increased exponentially and I feel properly smart now. All from reading romance novels.

As a bonus, if you prefer historical romance then you will find yourself well versed in words and phrases from days of old.

Conversations become so much more fun.

“Why, that fair damsel o’er there indubitably has a gigglemug.”

4. Happily. Ever. After.

If you like to read stories where the main character dies, where there’s some great moral lesson to be learned, or when the girl and guy can’t make it work, then that’s absolutely fine.

For me though, I have enough depression in my life that I don’t need to be reading of more sadness, tragedy and woe.

I want uplifting, happy stories where I don’t have to worry about what the outcome will be because I know it will end happily. It always ends happily and that’s the way I like it. In romance novels it always snows on Christmas, one of the couple always comes into a fortune right when it’s most required, and wind makes hair tousle rather than tangle. If that’s not happiness I don’t know what is.

5. To live vicariously through the characters

I’ve done a lot of things.
  • I’ve owned a number of cupcake shops without having to bake or speak to any customers.
  • I’ve been a lawyer without having to go to school for half my life.
  • I’ve lived in the 19th century while still having access to good plumbing and decent medical care
  • I’ve been kidnapped by a pirate without having to expose my hair to the sea air. Frizz - shudder!
  • And I’ve fallen in love more times than I can count all because I read romance.

6. Love is awesome

What’s lovelier than love?

Love is the strongest force on earth and there is absolutely no shame in wanting to read and revel in it every day of your life. It’s what most of us, man or woman, aspire to attain after all.

7. You will realise you’re not weird after all

Have you ever worried that you’re a little bit odd? That you think or say things that other ‘normal’ people would never dream of? That no-one else is as strange as you are?

Well, when you read a romance you will find the heroines are far from perfect. They all have quirks and foibles but guess what? - the hero loves them anyway.

And as an added bonus, reading worlds, characters and scenarios dreamed up in someone else’s head will help your brain expand and, added with your own quirks, will make you a whole lot weirder than you ever dreamed possible. But by the time you’re addicted to reading, you’ll realise that being weird is absolutely bloody perfect!

8. You can use it as covert cover

While reading is definitely fun, sometimes being seemingly engrossed in a book can reap other rewards. Peeking over the top of your book in a restaurant or train station can help you covertly ogle good looking men. People are also more likely to assume that your engrossment means you aren’t fully concentrating on conversations going on around you. Sit and read your book in the office lunch room and you might just catch folk at the next table divulging a juicy piece of workplace gossip!

Or, at the very least, people will (hopefully) not talk to you if you have your nose stuck in a book.

9. You can make new friends

I’m actually not talking about friends in books (as good as those are) but you will soon find yourself able to talk to people about things that others have no clue what you’re talking about. “Oh, did you see that Jane has left Mr Rochester’s house? She’s maaaaad at him!” Yes, in no time at all you’ll be confusing characters and events in your book with real life. When you start inadvertently speaking about this in public, or on social media, someone else will invariably join in and boom - you have a friend for life. A friend you can talk to about romance novels! Yay!

10. Medicine for the soul

I love this statement from Maya Rodale: “Critics say romance novels are fluffy, escapist literature--as if that's a bad thing. I say romance novels are like a cold medicine that lets you get a good night's sleep or a pain reliever that takes the edge off your headache. They're the little bit of help and hope we need to carry on.”

To paraphrase: reading romance is like medicine for the soul.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Starting Afresh

I love New Year.

I love the possibilities. The chance to start anew and reinvent yourself. To make those dreams a reality and become the person that you’ve always wanted to be.

It’s strange then, that I find it really hard to start things off and get things moving.

Planning is my forte. I absolutely love it.

But then it’s time to start with my grand plans and I get cold feet.

I’m not actually sure why that is but I find it difficult to get the momentum to get things going.

Perhaps I’m afraid that if I begin then I’m accountable for how it goes including potential failure. I’m a perfectionist, after all, and don’t do well when things don’t go perfectly. And yes, I know that’s ridiculous and unrealistic.

But this year will be different. 2016 will be my year; a year of changes, wonder, dreams coming true and ultimately happiness.

And that is my new year’s resolution for 2016: find happiness.

That’s not to say that I won’t have supplementary resolutions but they’ll all be in pursuit of my main goal this year - to be happy.

How I get there is obviously fundamental but for the moment I’m satisfied with my primary resolution is ‘simply’ to be happy.