2018 Goals

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Hey there! So in standard blogger fashion I thought I'd post my goals for 2018. I did this last year but, spoiler alert, it did not go well. I barely completed any of them. As I said in my last post, 2017 was a fairly hectic year between getting a new job and my mental health being all over the place, so I don't really mind too much that I didn't achieve my goals. This year I generally want to be kinder, do more things for others and take better care of myself. But I do have a few specific goals that I want to achieve.

Continue to read a lot and review every book I read either on Goodreads or here Last year was a bad reading year for me. I read a measly 16 books. Towards the end of the year though, I really got back into reading, thanks to John Green's Turtles All The Way Down. So I want to continue in this fashion. My current challenge is 40 books this year. But I also want to try and review all the books I read either on my Goodreads account or here on the blog.

Read all unread books and organise my bookshelves I have a fairly overwhelming TBR pile at the minute. Whilst I don't buy books as obsessively as I once did, the pile is still growing rather than getting smaller. So I want to try to get through it, either by reading them or getting rid of the ones I'm no longer interested in. I also want to get rid of books I never plan to read again.

Get my violin grade 4 and start working towards 5 I was supposed to be going for my grade 4 exam in December but I actually fractured my finger by trapping it in an extremely heavy door at work, so I couldn't take the exam. It's been rescheduled for March now so I want to get my certificate and start working towards my grade 5.

Do Nanowrimo I've wanted to do Nanowrimo for so long now and attempted it a few times. But this year I hope after practising my writing, I'll actually be ready to start a novel.

Use the 642 Things To Write About book This goes hand-in-hand with the above goal. I want to use this book to get back into the swing of writing. When I was younger I used to write fiction all the time and then one day, decided I hated all of my writing, and deleted everything. It's one of my biggest regrets. So I want to use somebody else's idea to rekindle my own creativity and start writing fiction again.

Get into the habit of preparing meals in advance I want to prepare both meals for work and also for tea. I recently used my slow cooker for the first time and it was so nice coming into a meal that was already made. I want to do this to improve the meals I have, make them healthier and tastier.

Complete a sketchbook As you can tell, there are a lot of creative goals I want to work on this year. I want 2018 to be the year I finally complete a sketchbook. I tend to get fairly disheartened by sketchbooks because I hate the quality of the drawings in them. I'm too much of a perfectionist. But I want to get used to practising drawing again before creating full pieces.

Make use of my art insta I made an account to start posting my artwork but I still haven't used it. So I want to post some of the art I plan to do this year. It's claire_louise_doodles if you're interested in following.

Keep decluttering the house Along with so many people, I've been curious about the minimalist lifestyle. I don't feel able to chuck everything I own out because I like my house full of random bits. But I have been looking at things like my clothes and figuring out how they make me feel. Last weekend I took six bags of clothes to the charity shop because they no longer make me happy. So I want to keep decluttering the house and only keep things that bring me happiness and that I will use.

Buy more ethical and sustainable items  Along with decluttering and thinking about the things I own, I want to buy more things from ethical stores and also reduce the amount of plastic and other non-recyclable things I own. I have already started on this. I buy mainly from charity shops or up-cycling clothes shops but it's something I want to go further with with things like grocery shopping and household items.

Don't buy anything new from high street shops High street shops are notorious for exploiting people and contributing to environmental damage, so this year I want to avoid fast fashion. I don't want to buy anything from these shops and choose instead to use charity shops and smaller businesses.

To be able to save at least £200 pounds a month As I now have a wedding/honeymoon and a house to save up for, I'd ideally like to be able to save £200 a month and share between these various things. It's something I hope will be easy to do, especially in stopping buying more unnecessary clothes and household things.

Have at least £1000 saved as an emergency fund In my attempt to become more adult, I'd also like to have at £1000 saved for various emergencies be it, car breaks down, vet bills etc. 

Attend the gym 3x a week At the minute, I'm one of those people that has a gym membership just gathering dust. But I want to get back at it. 2018 is the year I want to get strong and toned. So alongside my pole lessons, I want to go to the gym, be it solo workouts or lessons, at least three times a week. I think three is more realistic than everyday because I'm also having pole and violin lessons every week, so this allows me to have two nights free a week to have a life. 

Get private therapy I've been thinking about this for a while. I was supposed to have therapy last year but my new job put a halt on those plans. But I've been thinking of finding a private therapist because very few NHS ones work outside of the 9-5 weekday pattern and if they do, there's a huge waiting list for them. I do feel pretty good mentally but I think there's a lot of things I could do with talking about and working through still.

Use my Filofax I've tried so many various different organisational methods and have yet to find one that works for me. The bullet journal was too open and time consuming for me but simply having a to do list wasn't enough. So I thought a Filofax was a nice in between. I've bought one now, I just need to start filling it in. 

Start looking into Master degrees I've been toying with the idea of doing a Masters for a while. It's something I definitely want to do before I'm thirty. But I want to start properly researching them this year, to see if it's manageable for me whilst working full time. 

Give blood So many times I have signed up to give blood and ended up cancelling the appointment because of various reasons. But I want to finally do it this year. It's such an easy way of helping people and you get to have biscuits afterwards so it's really a win-win situation. 

Get a new tattoo I got my third tattoo in June last year and I've got the itch for more again. I've got several ideas, it's just a matter of saving the money and booking it in.

Listen to more new music I used to be obsessed with music. I'd constantly be listening to it. But perhaps because I drive or because I don't live on my own, I just don't listen to that much music. So I want to try and discover new music that I love this year.

I've got a lot to get through this year it seems. But I'm feeling good about them. How is your new year going so far? What goals, if any, have you given to yourself?

Thanks for reading!

Long Time, No Post

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Oh...hey there. It's been rather quiet round here lately, hasn't it. Nine months to be exact. My last post was a review of the first episode of Doctor Who and then I fell off the face of the planet. But hi, I'm back. How've you been?

A picture on the left of me standing outside model of Dumbledore's office door. Picture on right of me and Matt

A whole lot has changed since I last posted it's almost hard to know where to begin. The first thing to start off with is that I have a new job. A much better job. I previously worked as a barista, a job I hated. I'm not about to bad mouth the place on here but it was a bad job, one that often adversely affected my mental health. I'd been applying for jobs near enough non-stop since January wherein I had to have a month off for depression and anxiety. I received nothing but rejections or in most cases, radio silence. Until one finally came through. I started in May. I finally after around ten years, have actual weekends off work. Like every weekend. I have a solid weekday job, one that I'm good at. I ended up having to have another two weeks off at this new place, again for mental health reasons. I'm now on anti-depressants, which is something I plan to discuss more at length in a different post. 

Another very recent, exciting change is that Matt also got himself a brand new job. We were in a situation where we both worked retail jobs, me working between 7am-6:30pm each day and him working anywhere between 5am-10pm. It's safe to say we barely saw each other. It was kind of like having a roommate that you never see. But about a month ago, he got himself an office job, meaning we can now share every weekend together, something that we've never had in the time we've been in a relationship. So it's exciting times. 

The third and final and most exciting news is that I'M ENGAGED! Matt and I had spoken about the fact that we would get married at some point but never really had a solid plan as to when we'd get engaged/married. Until I decided that I wanted to ask him. I'd been trying to plan a proposal that reflected us, one that was creative, artsy and a bit playful and silly. However, with Matt's new job, it meant I had very little time alone to plan it. And ultimately, I was desperate to ask him. So I simply did. It's not your typical romantic proposal, but it was one that was distinctly 'us'. Prepare yourself for wedding prep posts in the future. 

So that's where I'm at. As you can tell, it's been a hectic time, but I finally feel like things are coming together. And I feel refreshed and ready to blog again. I'll speak to you soon. 

Thanks for reading!

Doctor Who Series 10 Episode 1: The Pilot Review

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Hey friends! Spoilers ahead. So I did a review of The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar from Series 9 and had the intention of reviewing the whole series. But Matt and I ended up not even watching the whole thing because it was so bad. We've since watched it and we were correct about it being terrible. Except for Heaven Sent. That was a brilliant episode. However, we decided to give it another shot, and oh man, am I glad I did.

IBS and Toilet Anxiety

Monday, 10 April 2017

Hey friends! There's a part of me that really doesn't want to post this. Talking about going to the toilet on your blog isn't really the done thing. Add on top of this feeling the anxiety I have about toilet related issues, then you've got a pretty bad mix. But I want to talk about it because firstly, I think it will make me feel better about these issues and secondly, I think it'll help people like me to know that there is someone out experiencing the same thing.

A image of a cup of tea and some tablets with writing "IBS and Toilet Anxiety"

So I went to the doctor the other week to find out if I actually had IBS. I've been pretty certain it was this for the ten years I've suffered with it. I've been put on new tablets that are supposed to soothe the cramps that IBS causes and if they don't work after a month of taking them, then I have to go back to the doctors. The doctor did agree that it sounded like IBS though. I have all the symptoms of IBS. I get the cramps, I get the diarrhoea (lovely), I get the urgency  to go, especially in the mornings. However, recently it's gotten a lot worse, I think because I've been going through a bad patch anxiety-wise.

I first had the symptoms of IBS when I was probably around thirteen. I remember sitting my SATS and being in the middle of the giant looming quiet and I remember how uncomfortable I felt. I felt self conscious of having to sneeze or cough (because I always seemed to get colds during exams) and I remember hating to have to break that silence. I imagine this stems from my being a particularly shy child. But then I remember there would be times when my stomach would rumble and groan and I was so aware of how loud it was and consequently how loud it must surely be to everyone else. And I think that's when it started. I got so afraid of people perceiving those noises as something other than just noise. "What if they thought I farted," I'd think. They'd think I was disgusting. 

I started to get these feelings all the time. I'd hate quiet classes, or lulls in conversation where my stomach would inevitably make noises. I'd be afraid in my shop job of working anywhere that wasn't near the noisy freezers. And then in university, I'd try to sit as far away from everyone as I could and eventually didn't attend lectures. There was more than just the fear of people hearing my stomach noises but it definitely fed into the social anxiety I already had. It seemed unfortunately, to be a cycle; the more scared I was about my stomach making noises, the more my stomach would growl and vice versa. 

The toilet anxiety was a separate issue that soon became intertwined with my IBS and social anxiety. As a child, I don't really remember going to the public toilets much but through my teenage years, I markedly didn't use them. I never went whilst I was at school, waiting until I got home no matter how badly I might have needed it in the day. It went so far that when I went to a trip to Germany with school, I didn't use the toilet once in the four days we were there. I went for a wee but a poop was out of the question. I have issues about where the toilet is situated. I couldn't go if it meant walking past people and them being able to see me go to the toilet. In the case of my school trip, the toilet was located at the end of the corridor where people were always milling about. As my IBS starting rearing it's head, I needed the toilet even more but I refused to go. I'd still hold it in until I was back home. As I said, I didn't go to many lectures or seminars in university, in part because I knew I'd need the toilet at some point and I couldn't stand the idea having to leave during them to go the toilet. 

Basically, what I fear is people overhearing me and thinking I'm disgusting. The thought of people hearing me go to the toilet for a poop was terrifying to me. I say was because the CBT I had in third year has helped me overcome a lot of it. Don't get me wrong, I still find it scary, but I'm getting there. Now I'm not really too bothered about strangers hearing anything because I probably won't see them again. I still worry about friends overhearing me. I also get worried about getting up during meals to rush to the toilet, of what the people I'm dining out with will think of me. Having to go to the toilet more than once during a meal or after also stresses me out because I'll have to repeatedly walk past the same people to get there. But I am a lot better than I was, believe me. 

My therapist was really good at helping me to work through this. I was terrified discussing it initially, but she was really good at putting me at ease. We came up with surveys which she gave to people about what thoughts they had about using public toilets and what they thought of other people. The questions we asked covered what would the individual think if they heard someone on the toilet, and whether they would do it themselves. Most of the answers varied from they don't care/they think nothing to they worry a bit about it themselves. Seeing it written down like that really helped to change my perspective. 

I know this is a bit of a strange blog post but I want others to benefit from this because it's very hard thing to deal with. IBS alone or toilet anxiety alone is difficult but the two together make for a very difficult situation especially because IBS tends to worsen with anxiety and so the two things feed into one another. 

Do you suffer with either or both of these disorders? If so, how do you deal with them?

Thanks for reading!

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