Canterbury Tales: taking a break, early August 2017

One thing I’d like to be better at is taking time to remember the positive, tiny things that make a difference in every day life: the things that get me laughing in the morning or thinking ‘huzzah!’ when I get in from work. So, this week’s good things are…

I’m still signed off work, so this week has mostly been focused on resting up, trying to quietly get on with MA work for a bit of routine. It’s been good, and I’m feeling a bit better, but mental health is never a straight-line to recovery so…onwards we go:

Books, books, books

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I’ve slowed down on the reading front since last week, but it’s been fun to look at what’s unread on my shelves and take a bit longer each day to devour some literature. This week I finished The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, which is of course the exact opposite to the gloomy, moody weather of a UK August. Regardless of atmosphere – it’s a beautiful, beautiful novel filled with almost short-stories, and much like Amy Liptrot’s excellent memoir The Outrun it’s made me want to go exploring.

Les Miserables (and four years of awesome)

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Chris and I celebrated our four year anniversary this week – it’s come round quickly! A while back, he had an idea for what we could do and I suggested he book it and tell me on the day. At midnight on Thursday, I opened my card and found tickets to see Les Miserables that very evening – which I’ve wanted to see for years! So exciting 😀 It’s an excellent musical and definitely worth going to (even if the songs have been stuck in my head ever since)

Feeling the love

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More magical post arrived for me this week: flowers from work (<3) and a self-care box of things from one of my best friends. If this experience has taught me anything, it’s that a) I am so lucky to have people in my life who really care and b) sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

Oxford

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I’m back home in Oxfordshire for a few days, so obviously couldn’t resist heading into Oxford to see a much-loved friend. Fun fact: even if you’re running for a bus, there are ridiculously perfect photo opportunities around every single corner. I love this city so much!

This week, I’m continuing to work on mental health stuff, hoping to get out on a bike ride if the weather holds up and enjoying being back in the countryside for a bit.

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Canterbury tales: taking a break, end of July 2017

One thing I’d like to be better at is taking time to remember the positive, tiny things that make a difference in every day life: the things that get me laughing in the morning or thinking ‘huzzah!’ when I get in from work. So, this week’s good things are…

There’s no way of sugar-coating this week’s blog post: this week has been really, really hard. Having somewhat seen the warning signs coming and not really acted on them, I’m taking a (temporary) break from work and have been signed off for a bit to get my mental health better. There’s a lot more to say on this matter, and it’s probably best off in a separate post, but for the moment: I am very, very lucky to have such good supportive employers and bosses who understood this decision. Stigma is real, but possibly what has been to my detriment has been my own refusal to acknowledge in practice that mental health should be treated like physical health. If I had been unable to recover from a bad cold that wouldn’t go away whilst at work, I would have had no hesitations in taking sick leave to get properly better. I didn’t do this here.

There are still good things. The joy this week is a little bit harder to find, but it is still here:

My friends

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There is no doubt about it: my friends rock beyond belief. Our Facebook group (set up last year to bridge distances as we all live in different places) yielded many many good ideas for how to self-care when I posted there earlier this week.

On Thursday, confusion reigned when I had a parcel arrive, considering the one item I’d bought had turned up the day before: cue teary happiness as I unwrapped a beautiful new Pusheen plush from two of my besties <3. Chris has, predictably, been amazing. I am very, very lucky.

Disney movie marathon

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Another ‘grateful for good people’ moment occurred over the weekend, when I spent the day with a friend determined to educate me in the ways of all the Disney movies I’ve somehow missed (most of them). A rainy day, tea, cake and Disney? YES. Anyway, I’m now up to speed on Inside Out, Moana and Big Hero 6. There will be more to come.

Reading

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In a ‘I don’t know if this is a good sign or a bad sign’ way, all I’ve been able to do recently is read (and sleep). As a result, I’ve finished one book this week and completed another two. Verdicts: Alone in Berlin is an excellent exploration of every day German life under the Nazi regime and the extent to which anyone could attempt ‘resistance’; Curtis Sittenfield’s Eligible has the worst UK cover for a book I’ve seen in years, but its modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice is quite fun if not entirely accurate/fair; Mara Wilson’s memoir is utterly brilliant, sharp and funny and I couldn’t put it down.

Lush’s face masks

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I’ve been a big fan of Lush’s face products for a while now; Ultrabland is easily the best cleanser I’ve ever tried and I’m completely hooked on Celestial for a daily moisturiser. Now, after returning five clean pots to them last weekend, I have a new favourite thing: their Catastrophe Cosmetic face mask. My skin is super sensitive, but this has done wonders in calming it down and balancing it out. SO GOOD.

Getting outside

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I’ve been trying to continue exercising this week as per normal, but I woke up today with a real urge to go for a walk. We’ve had annual passes to Leeds Castle (not in Leeds) for nearly a year now, and today’s trip confirmed that we’ll renew them next month: it is easily one of my favourite ever places. It’s a popular day out but the acres of walks, gardens and rolling hills around the castle mean you can go off the beaten track and chill on the lawns easily. And the views are spectacular!

This week, I’m resting up still, recovering from a wisdom tooth infection and looking forward to a) our four-year anniversary on Thursday and b) heading back to Oxfordshire  to see family next weekend!

How was your week? What’s been bringing you joy?

Canterbury tales: mid July 2017

One thing I’d like to be better at is taking time to remember the positive, tiny things that make a difference in every day life: the things that get me laughing in the morning or thinking ‘huzzah!’ when I get in from work. So, this week’s good things are…

Getting on top of health issues

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From ‘Moominland Midwinter’ by Tove Jansson. Sometimes I am the anxious Moomin, looking down rather than up at the sky

My week started on a bit of a wobbly note, when I rushed out the door to work on Monday morning and forgot to take any of my medication before leaving. I got diagnosed with asthma last year, and it’s slowly been getting worse after an inappropriately-timed June cold. 5 minutes into being outside, I started really feeling the effects of not taking my preventer. Chris has been urging me to reschedule the review I was supposed to have in February, so I managed to get an appointment the same day and lo! I now have a new, stronger inhaler along with a peak flow meter and more backup relievers.

I’ve also been in a bit of a mental health low point lately, and it started to get on top of me this week. The fun game I have to battle now is that I’ve only got one more counselling session left and I’m really scared of falling back to where I was. But I took some steps to try and make things better and things turned around pretty quickly. At least I know the symptoms – and triggers – now.

Hastings and Rye

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When your First-World-War-historian partner gets called to go on TV at the last minute, sometimes it’s fun to tag along. Which is how I found myself on Hastings Pier at 10am on a weekend. I hadn’t visited Hastings in many years, but it was worth it for the brief pier soujourn and coffee stop alone; plus, the early start meant we had lots of time to go on to other adventures in nearby Rye! Rye is such a gorgeous little town, with historic houses and churches around literally every corner along with so many cafes you could eat cream teas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’ve been taking a bit of time this year to explore around Kent/Sussex more, and I’d love to go back to Rye when it’s properly sunny and explore the harbour and countryside further.

Homemade pizza

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Still on my spend-very-little kick (the weekend’s coffee out was a real treat), one of the habits I’m finding hardest to kick is takeaway food. I was exhausted on Wednesday and really, really wanted pizza…but we compromised and made our own pizzas from scratch/the bread maker on Thursday. It turned out to be a great call; I used up veggies for toppings, but splurged on some goats’ cheese to give it a lift. Plus, we got four pizzas out of one portion of dough – so dinner for two nights! Definitely a win.

Continuing MA work

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Having finally finished the cataloguing module that lost the fight between me and the busy job, I’m onto social sciences research methods and determined to get it done a lot more quickly. I’ve been skimming the module this week and although I don’t think it’ll go down as the most interesting course in the MA, it’s getting me to think about research through different eyes which can only be a good thing.

This week I’m delivering my first ever conference paper at a symposium in Leeds, continuing watching Master of None obsessively (it’s SO GOOD) and eagerly anticipating/plotting the arrival of lots of friends next weekend!

How was your week? What’s been bringing you joy?