Author Archives: Kate

New homes!

As you can see, I’ve not updated this blog in a while. That’s because I’ve been busy writing about my daily life over on The 101 Days Project.

I’ll be letting this domain expire soon, so I’ve moved over most of the content to another wordpress blog using my married name. This is where I’ll be posting new content from now on.

Although, as ever, the place I am most active online is Instagram – so if you’d like to stay in touch please follow me on there.

Is this blog a a) lobster b) rock or c) sign that I need to get more sleep?

This picture doesn't have much to do with anything, but I'm loving the autumn colours right now.

This picture doesn’t have much to do with anything, but I’m loving the autumn colours right now.

So I have been assuming that the reason I haven’t been blogging here is because I haven’t had time. Incidentally, I have had time to watch the first two seasons of Gilmore Girls on Netflix and crochet a sweater. But it was definitely time that has stopped me writing here.

And then a few things happened this week.

Firstly, I asked one of my colleagues to write a post for My Life My Choice blog about his trip to Spain with some of the members. I was expecting a description of where they had been, what they had done, and a bit about what they had learnt about themselves and about the wider learning disability rights movement. What I got was several paragraphs about lobsters.

Which took me aback somewhat but turned out to be a really useful metaphor.

I must have still been thinking about lobsters the following morning, since half way through my morning run I suddenly thought “My blog is the old shell!” and then “No, wait, it’s the rock!”

Let me explain.

Chris wrote this:

I recently watched Dr Abraham Twerski’s YouTube clip on responding to stress. He talks about stress in relation to how lobsters grow. Lobsters are soft and squidgy and live inside a shell. When a lobster needs to grow it goes under a rock, casts off its shell, and produces a better fitting one. The lobster will repeat this process throughout its life.

The stimulus that the lobster needs to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. If lobsters went to the doctors to complain about their discomfort the doctor would find a remedy to pacify the discomfort, thus negating the need to grow…

It is dangerous for the lobster to shed a shell before growing a new one. When it is vulnerable after shedding a shell, the lobster seeks refuge, care and comfort to protect it. In this case from an external source, ‘under a rock’.

Human beings can be like lobsters. We too need to shed our shells so we can grow and reach our potential.

(You can read the rest of it here)

Secondly, it turns out that getting up while it is still dark to go for a run before work leads to a high level of both smugness and endorphins, because while I was running I was thinking about how happy I am these days. Which got me thinking about how tough the last few years have been, and how much I have changed and grown. Writing this blog has been a huge part of that change and that growth. I have written about my abusive relationship and my rape. I have worked through my mental health problems, and wrestled with their implications on my life.

This blog has been like therapy. Writing about things that I’ve been ashamed of has been like shedding my shell. Having a place to write about my feelings, and miraculously (it is the internet, after all) have nothing but support from readers, has been my rock. But I’m now in a place where I don’t need to do this anymore. In fact, I feel like continuing to dwell on my past and my insecurities is preventing me from moving forward.

I am so proud of this blog. So proud, in fact, that I’m gathering together my favourite essays with some previously unpublished stuff, and writing a book about my twenties. (Anybody know any agents?) But I won’t be posting anything new, and will be eventually retiring the site.

I am making plans for a new blogging project in the new year, which I’m excited about. I’m also really enjoying Instagram right now, so plan to continue sharing bits of my life on there. Making content for the internet will always be a big part of my life, and I have a lot of passions that I have yet to share online.

How to get more done

Weekends in the library.

Weekends in the library.

So it turns out that working full time, on top of doing a Policy Research MSc, Fundraising Diploma and NVQ in Management, plus keeping up a regular gym routine does not leave any room for regular blogging. (Apologies). But it does teach you a thing or two about getting shit done. So here’s a list of things that I’ve learnt about fitting more into your day.

Build things into your routine if you want to get things done.

Every other day, my alarm goes off at 6am. It’s dark and it’s cold, but I don’t give myself an option of staying in bed. I eat, pack and make it to the gym by 7am. I’ve finished my workout by 8am, and shower and dress before cycling to the office. I am usually at my desk by 8.45am.

It seemed brutal when I started, but getting up an hour earlier doesn’t have a negative effect on my day. If anything, lifting weights before work makes me feel pretty badass. And the exercise make me more awake than I am on my rest days. Getting up an hour earlier means I workout 3 or 4 times a week, without losing any time from my evenings.

I bet you want my Peanuts vest.

I bet you want my Peanuts vest.

The thing is, if I asked myself every morning at 6am, “Should I go to the gym or not?” I never ever would. I would go back to sleep every time. So I don’t give myself the option; I make it a non-negotiable part of my routine.

A day is longer than you think

I used to write off the day after 8pm. I said “Oh there’s no point in doing anything now”. So I settled down to watch several hours of Netflix or read a novel before bed. It turns out, there’s still a lot I can do after 8pm, even if I am a little tired. Some evenings I have settled down with a cup of tea, and done several hours of essay writing or studying. Of course, it’s important to have some downtime too. But learning that I can so good work late into the evening has taken some of the pressure off my day and ensured I get a lot more done than I thought possible.

I can work even when I’m not in the mood

As well as ‘It’s too late’, another excuse I used to give for not doing what I wanted to get done was “I’m too tired/sad/not just in the mood.” I used to wait until inspiration struck. Now I can no longer afford to do that, I’ve discovered that I can work when I’m not in the mood. Sometimes I need to bribe myself with chocolate, but once I start, I often get into it and want to work for longer than I planned.

Prioritise.

Of course, you can’t do everything, and having a lot to do really forces you to work out what’s serving you and what isn’t. I no longer go out drinking or partying unless it’s something I am really excited about. I spend less time wandering town and window shopping. I only hang out with the people that I’m genuinely interested in catching up with. And while I’ve wanted to blog more than I have done, the experience has made me realise that it’s not as important to me as being on top of my uni work, crafting or Skyping with Grit.

Take time off in the way that’s right for you.

I take less time out for myself than I used to, so I have to use the time wisely and in the way that I’m going to find most relaxing. As an introvert, this sometimes (okay, often) means turning down social invites for a night in watching Gilmore Girls. This means I’m most recharged for my next productive day.

Thinking outside the (car shaped) box

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In the end I had to tip everything out of my handbag onto the bed, but they still weren’t there. Just like I knew they wouldn’t be. I remember taking them off my head, folding them and placing them on the table, while we drank smoothie and lemonade and discussed other people’s weddings. Before we left, I went to the toilet. When I returned, I picked up my handbag.

“Shall we go?” she said. And we walked out. My wonderfully oversized leopard print sunglasses left folded on the table. Damn.

I thought about just buying some more, but found I felt strangely attached to the old sunglasses, and resolved to get them back. I rang the lounge, and sure enough, they had them behind the bar. Problem was, they were a 30 minute drive outside the city. Sigh.

Although I resolved to go after work, the more I thought about it the more my heart sank. Walking home from work, getting in my car, sitting in traffic, finding somewhere to park… None of it appealed. What if it was sunny and I needed my sunglasses to drive?

I googled other ways of getting there and discovered that a bus leaving from the stop just outside my office would take me to a stop just outside the bar. Public transport – what an adventure! Bizarrely, I now felt excited about going.
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A new chapter

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August is a time for plotting; for buying new stationery, school uniform, equipment for the year ahead. It’s a time of dreaming and scheming, mentally preparing for the step up into the next year, and thinking about the kind of person I want to be.

This year, it will be ten years since I left school. But September still makes me think of new year and fresh starts, so much more than January. A new school year brings with it a new timetable and new routine. It’s a chance to drop some bad habits and pick up new ones. There is an air of excitement as the weather turns cooler. We have to put our tights and socks back on and get down to business.
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The Mad-Eye Moody method of mindfulness practice

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Gretchen Rubin has a theory that we are all either abstainers or moderators. Abstainers find it easier to give something up entirely, and moderators can have a little bit of something and then stop.

When I first heard this theory, it made sense to me and I believed myself to be an abstainer. It’s true that the best way for me to not binge eat is to not have the foods that I tend to binge on in the house. But ultimately, this categorisation of myself wasn’t very helpful because it meant that if I did eat a piece of chocolate, I could justify eating the whole box because “I’m an abstainer so I actually can’t stop.” Then, feeling sick with sugar and shame, I would vow never to touch chocolate ever again. And I wouldn’t. Until the next time I ate far too much in one go.

Eventually, I decided to try just eating one piece of chocolate, or having a few spoonfuls of ice-cream without devouring the whole tub. And while it is difficult, I found that it is perfectly possible to put the food away and not finish it. After a while of doing this, it became easier to enjoy a small amount but know when to stop.

So, I much as I admire other things that Gretchen has to say, I’m calling bullshit on the abstainer-moderator theory because at it’s best it gives us an excuse not to try and change our behaviour, and at worst encourages the cycle of bingeing and purging. It reinforces the message that we are “just like this”, that there is no other way.
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Confessions of an emotional eater

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Content warning: food, eating disorders.

Today I have been feeling anxious, so I wanted to eat sweet things.

I was full of lunch, but still bought an extra chocolate flapjack and smoothie. They were supposed to last me the afternoon, but I devoured them in minutes. My craving was not satisfied. And I still feel anxious. Only now I feel sugar cravings and anxiety and shame about giving in to my cravings.

I hate the feeling of my stomach feeling full. Even now, years on from starving myself for perfection, I feel guilty when I feel I have “indulged” in too much.

I know this is bullshit. I know I should be kind to myself.

And yet I cannot.
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Things that I made in June and July

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I finished this cardigan. Wahoo! Overall, the wool cost me £36 (although I do have some leftover for another project). So making my own clothes isn’t saving me money, but I don’t think that’s the point. I am pleased that I made something that looks like this, and taught myself some new skills in the process.
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Positive beliefs about worry

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I was speaking to my mum the other day, and she was explaining to me how worrying about her mother was keeping her up at night and making her ill.

“It’s difficult for us caring people,” she said. I immediately felt guilty. Does my lack of sleeplessness mean I don’t care about Grandma?

I mentioned this to the “Psychological Well-Being Practitioner” who I have phone calls with as part of my CBT (It’s not therapy it’s “a programme of guided self-help with telephone support.” I just love how the NHS will never use one word when they can use ten.) She said that a lot of her clients have positive beliefs about worry, and that a common thought is that “worrying makes me a caring person.”

Which is really interesting.
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Lately I’ve been reading memoirs

So I’ve decided to stop being anxious about money and bought some of the books that have been on my amazon wishlist for a while. All I want to read right now are memoirs by awesome women. Here are a few of the best:

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How a bad girl fell in love by Girl on the Net

I have been reading Girl on the Net‘s blogs for years, mainly for the erotica, but fully on board with the feminism too. I knew this was going to be different to her blog and to her first book, since writing about love tends to be different to writing about sex. What I didn’t expect was how much, despite having a very different relationship history, I was able to relate. This book is as much about living with high functioning anxiety as it is about relationships. Girl on the Net writes about both with intelligence and self-awareness. I gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own approach to relationships, as well as being a very entertaining read.
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