Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Shut up and Run

A windy day in Hastings

I saw my counsellor last week and quite frankly, I was an emotional mess. I'd spent the previous three weeks wanting to cry all the time, I felt worthless and sad and demotivated. And I was so tired. There were some good days, but mostly I was distracting myself with insane amounts of crochet which was good and bad because it's great for shutting everything out and thinking about an immense amount of stuff all at the same time. 

Well I talked to my counsellor about how I was just so tired of overthinking things. It's not like a worry as such, I don't worry about everything. I get swept into a downward spiral of negative and honestly horrible thoughts about myself to the point where I don't think there's any point whatsoever in going on. It's a bit hard to explain but I guess the biggest effect it has on me is it stops me from doing good things for myself like eating healthily, exercising, even getting enough sleep. Sorry, I know it's morbid. I know deep down I wouldn't harm myself so don't send me the Samaritans number just yet. 

In the few days before my counselling session I was feeling pretty bloody depressed and Nick was being really sweet by trying to get me to run. Despite his best efforts this just made me feel worse. I had promised myself (and him) that we'd both start running again on the 5th September but I was feeling too sorry for myself to do it. He sent me a link to a post about running when you don't feel like it and it really made me laugh and struck a chord. Most importantly though, I realised that people don't get stuff done through motivation, they get stuff done by being disciplined. Motivation is fleeting. We all want to be better, fitter, healthier - but to get there you have to do it whether you're motivated or not. 

I Googled 'how to be disciplined' or something like that and I read that most of the people who have good discipline are less emotional about decision making and just do things without thinking too much about it. Well, that was the total opposite of me at that point because I talked myself out of everything. I was sabotaging myself and I didn't know why, and I would tie myself up in knots about not being able to work out why - all the while not doing anything. 

I think this happens to me for lots of reasons that would take me forever to write about and would be pretty boring - nobody wants to wade through my quite in-extraordinary life story - but I asked my counsellor what she thought. 

She said some people are 'psychologically minded' and some are not. She said as a counsellor one of her jobs is get people to think more about things, to spend time on what they're thinking and feeling maybe analyse it a bit. But she said I am very psychologically minded and seem to analyse everything to the point where she sometimes feels like telling me to stop and just do stuff. When she said this stuff, I felt tears well up and a strange sense of relief. I can't really explain it but it was as if by pointing out the bleeding obvious I was somehow released of it. 

I decided then to just stop it. I decided to do what she told me and 'dare to succeed'.

The next day, I ran on my treadmill for 30 mins and on Saturday Nick, Archie and I took part in another parkrun. I came 67th of 68 runners (only the steward who 'brings up the rear' was after me!) and I completed it in 42:58. Yesterday I cycled to my local running club meet and joined them. I ran 5k with them, cycled home and I'm definitely going back next week - no questions asked.

I guess I am writing all this because it feels like a turning point for me. Allowing myself to do things because I said so, not because I deserve it or should or even want to. I'm doing it because I said I would, and there is no reason why I can't be as disciplined about it as the next person.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
- Aristotle

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Margate bank holiday and book writing

My parents visited this bank hol weekend and as ever, it went too fast. We had a lovely time though, strolling down to Margate on Sunday and along the harbour arm for a pint of my favourite rhubarb cider.

We ended up in the Old Kent Market which is a big building on the harbour a stone's throw from the Turner which is painted a delicious pillar-box red. Inside is a gallery of small market units.

Downstairs is crammed full of independent eateries like Mexican, south Indian, pies, a vegan juice and salady type place, a bakery and a Caribbean. There's also a mysterious red double decker bus in there (mysterious because there's no doors big enough for it to have got in) and the UK's smallest pub (ok maybe not yet, but it's going for the title) called The Little Prince which is small (can't hold more than six people) but perfectly formed, down to the brassy pumps and stained glass leaded windows.

We sat in there for a few hours drinking yet more cider, whilst Archie made friends with a couple of the stall holders on the first floor of the gallery. One was a wildlife photographer from whom Archie bought a photograph of a baby orangutan and another of a celebes macaque (I know... why?). He enjoyed it though. And the other was a generic handbag stand which sold Archie a decidedly overpriced 'Pokeball' with a little Pikachu inside. I use quote marks because I'm almost 100% sure it wasn't official but it still cost him seven quid.

Whilst there we got talking to a local author called Steve Haughan who has written and self-published a few books, one of which is doing rather well at the moment called 'Peshwari Nans: Beyond the Bucket List' which is about a pair of octogenarian sisters who travel all the way to India in a classic car. He was explaining that he's a builder who left school with no qualifications but obviously harboured a great talent for story-telling as one year he bound a bedtime story he told his sons in to a book for Christmas. He has self-published a number of other books too, and we chatted about the process of self-publishing a book.

They say everyone has at least one book in them, but I told him I was fascinated by those who can actually sit down and get that book out. I would love to write a book one day, but feel I lack the imagination to make up an entire story good enough that other people would want to read it. It's funny because I was only talking to my friend at work the other day about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and how I've a friend who has taken part for the last five years or so. I would love to do NaNoWriMo but it'll have to wait til I have finished my degree as I definitely couldn't commit to writing over 1600 words a day for the whole of November to meet the 50,000 word count.

I discovered that there is also another website called Camp NaNoWriMo which is a very similar project which runs through the month of August instead, with online 'workshops' leading up to August to help you prep and plan your novel. That might work!

In the mean time I guess it would be a good idea to concentrate on my impending second year at uni, which I'm ready to get stuck in to now. I have bought myself a new lever arch file and everything ;-)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

What the blog?

It feels like a hundred years ago that I had Archie but sometimes I really can't believe I have a seven year old already, and I still feel like some part of me just stopped when I had him at 22.

I think it feels like such a long time ago because a lot has changed since I had him. For a start the blogging community has come on leaps and bounds in the last seven years and it seems almost a requirement for new mums to document their journey to parenthood by way of  a blog or Facebook page. I can just picture each Bounty pack coming with a 'how to blog about your baby' guide. (Do they even give out Bounty packs any more?!)

In my day (ha!) I wasn't even aware of parenting blogs. If I wanted to know something I headed to Netmums and desperately scoured forums for answers to my questions or someone to relate to. I think it's really fantastic how there's so much more for new mums (and all parents actually) out here in the Blogosphere. Mums and dads from all walks of life share their experiences online and it's great to see how others do and feel about things.

I can't help feeling a bit regretful that I didn't document my journey with Archie more clearly. I still  have my old, abandoned and deactivated Facebook account to look back on. I deleted it a couple of years ago when I felt weird about loads of people I hardly knew anymore seeing pictures of me, my life, my family. I keep it there and secretly log in from time to time to rediscover all my old posts as I navigated my way through new mum-hood. And single mum-hood. It doesn't feel like enough though. I feel sort of guilty that I haven't kept a diary or a blog with more of my thoughts and feelings about the whole parenting thing, especially as I have found it so tough. Perhaps I didn't want to share too much or be disloyal to my precious, beautiful baby boy. My hardships weren't because of gaining him, they were about feeling I'd lost me. I didn't want him to one day read them and think he made me unhappy, because he didn't.

Apart from being a parent to Archie, there are other things in my life that I feel bad about not documenting better. Even now I am going through quite an emotional time, wondering if and when I will ever have another baby. We want one, but it's not happening. Should I write about it? Does it feel ok? Not sure. I also started a degree last year which I should probably talk about more. Being a mum and a wife and working full time is HARD WORK - will I want to look back on these times? Will it help me to get through if I write about them? Then there's our move to Kent which I rarely talk about and it was (and still is) bloody hard living hours away from friends and family. Would it help me to share the homesickness, the regret, the joys? I don't know... 

I think what I am getting at is I seem to have a reluctance to share anything on here that I might later regret. Does every blogger feel this? What's the point in keeping a blog if it doesn't actually share anything genuinely me? Does anyone care about my recipe or crochet posts? Doubt it. Do I really want to post about that stuff? Not really - I'd rather tell you how I ate 6 bags of crisps coz I felt like an ugly piece of shit only to realise life is worth living because Archie drew me a picture of a mildly perturbed reindeer. 

Mum-hood is confusing. Life is shitty and confusing too. Blogging is weird and confusing.

Lots of love, 
Amy xxx

Monday, 18 July 2016

Crochet, babies and broodiness...

I have been thoroughly enjoying my summer off uni so far and I don't want it to end. We've been camping three times and have lots planned for the summer holidays, like friends visiting and a holiday to sunny Dawlish in Devon.

Being free from essays and reading has unlocked time in my evenings and weekends to crochet and I have been loving it!I didn't realise how much I had missed sitting down and making something - of course I did do this when I was studying but I always felt really guilty about not doing my work! It's given me the opportunity to try my hand at baby clothes for the first time and they're so quick to make and of course so cute I can't seem to stop. I have decided to set up a little Etsy shop to list the stuff I'm not going to give away as gifts. It's called MOOSE of Margate, come and give me a wave :-)

I think my crochet frenzy was sparked by the news that Nick's sister was expecting a baby. He was born last week and is very cute! We are meeting him this weekend and I have made this little baby grow for him...

It's so soft and cuddly, I hope they like it! I can't wait to see him and give him a cuddle. Everyone seems to be having babies at the moment, I think it's that time of year. The whole thing has made us both quite broody!

My best friend has asked me to crochet a hooded cardigan for her friend's baby so I ordered some Stylecraft Aran this evening. I am looking forward to trying out Stylecraft yarn as it's so popular and a bit cheaper than the WI yarn I've been buying from hobbycraft. Fingers crossed I can get it done by the end of the month as she is leaving to see her on the 3rd August!

I also bought a little yarn winder this week and have had lots of fun winding my untidy skeins into beautifully neat little yarn cakes of joy...

Aaaanyway I just thought I would keep you updated as my hands are hardly free to type with all this crocheting! I hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather and have lots of fun stuff coming up through the summer.

Until next time,
Amy xx

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sutton Vale Country Park

We stayed at Sutton Vale Country Park for one night this weekend, to test out our camping gear before our week in Dawlish in the summer holidays. 

It did feel a bit strange packing the whole car up to camp 17 miles away from home, but living in the Garden of England means the scenery of the countryside and the fun of the seaside is always on our doorstep. 

It was also our first camping trip as almost-vegans. This wasn't a big deal of course, but the smell of bacon sandwiches made on a tiny stove on the grass the morning after a slightly damp night in a tent is how I remember so many of my childhood holidays. So to make it special for us, I bottled up some vegan pancake mix and enjoyed those for breakfast. I'm hoping we've started our own family camping tradition!

The camping field was surrounded by countryside with lovely views. There was a road behind the field so you could occasionally hear passing traffic but it wasn't very busy and we hardly heard it.

The pitches were well spaced and there was plenty of room for the children to run around and play. We were allocated pitch no. 31 which was in the middle of the field. At first I was a bit disappointed as I liked the sheltered feel of field-edge pitches that back on to hedges, but actually being in the middle meant we had lots of space all around the tent and we were able to park next to our pitch which was very handy. 

Archie had loads of space to fly his kite!

There were lots of other families staying in the same field as us and most pitches were occupied, but it didn't feel crowded at all. Archie made friends with some other boys and played football with them. He asked me to go over with him to ask to play which was really sweet, it's not often it feels like he needs me anymore! 

The ladies' loo block was a bit dated but very clean (I was impressed!) and perfectly usable. Nice hot water, hand soap and paper towels. Nick said the men's could have been a bit cleaner, and there was some water puddling on the floor. 

Whilst Wales v. Northern Ireland was on I took Archie for a swim in the Park's indoor heated pool. It was a little shabbier than I was expecting from the pictures on the website - think a big farm shed with corrugated plastic roofing - and the inside of the pool probably could have done with a lick of paint as the chipped blue it was painted gave the water a slightly green tinge. It definitely wasn't as 'polished' as it looks on the website, but it was still a massive bonus to have a warm swim on a rainy day at a UK campsite! And there were changing cubicles, lockers and hot showers at the poolside. Fine for a splash around!

In the evening (and during the huge downpours throughout Saturday!) we played Charades for Kids which was hilarious (particularly Archie trying to make himself look like a chair!!) and Archie and I read six chapters of Mr Stink by David Walliams. 

The sun did come out sometimes! 
To top things off, the staff were very friendly and the permanent residents of the site were also friendly and welcoming - they chatted to Archie whilst we waited to be checked in. The drinks were reasonably priced, too and Archie was very happy to spend 50p of his pocket money on a bag of sweets at the bar!

All together we loved Sutton Vale and think it's great value. We'd recommend it for families and despite it being really close to home (so not much reason to go back) we probably will head there again if we fancy a camping trip without having to travel for hours!