Category Archives: Journal

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.

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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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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My word for 2016 is peace: here are 5 things I’ve learnt so far

A beach in India.

“My word for 2016 will be peace. I’m going to focus on staying still.” – Me in January

At the start of the year, I set my one word goal as peace. I’m still not sure whether it was prompted by trying to stay still, but the months that immediately followed setting this resolution were possibly the most emotionally tumultuous of my life. They say that if you want to make God laugh you should tell him your plans.

Emotional roller coaster sounds like such a cliche but it is the most useful way of describing how it felt. I went from not wanting to get out of bed to manic excitement in the space of a few hours. I returned home from work a nervous wreck, likely to collapse into uncontrollable tears for barely any reason at all. It was exhausting.

Thanks to a combination of medication, writing and talking, my moods are now much more stable. I’ve had a chance to think about how my year is going in terms of peace. The conclusion? I’ve learnt a hell of a lot.
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What are we doing here?

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Ouch. Crap. Every day I trip over something on our bedroom floor. This morning it was a motorcycle boot. Yesterday it was a stack of weights. There is too much stuff in here. It’s our bedroom, living room, study, gym and garage. There is a bed, two desks, a sofa, a workout bench, three sets of shelves, two clothes rails, a chest of drawers and a wardrobe. I have a pinterest board full of minimalist spaces, and am living in chaos.
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“I made it!” monthly: February 2016

I've knitted my first pair of socks!

I’ve knitted my first pair of socks!

For most of the month I continued to work on the socks that I started in January. I finished them a week or so ago and have already worn them a couple of times – I can report that they are very warm and comfortable. Luckily, they also didn’t fall apart in the washing machine.

Once I finished the socks, I did something very unusual for me and actually paid for a pattern! (I tend to either make things from books that I’m given as presents, download free patterns from ravelry.com, or make it up.) The pattern I bought was this Oversized Chunky Box Jumper from Frank&Olive.
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Learning to be patient

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When I wrote that my word for the year would be peace, I did not expect it to be such a struggle.

“Oh, it’ll be easy,” I thought “I’ll just stop doing things and wanting things.”

Oh wow. Trying to stop yourself wanting things so much is painful. Forcing yourself to wait it out rather than doing something the moment you think it would be a good idea is hard. I’m learning to be patient.

I’ve learnt that there are two different types of wanting something. There are the things I want just so that I can want something, and then there are the things that are truly worth having.

Firstly, wanting for the sake of wanting.

I feel like I need to be changing things in my life to feel any forward momentum.
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Frustrations and dreams

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I’ve not been feeling up for writing this week, and as hard as I try I can’t craft a proper post with any kind of lesson. I know that writing can help me come unstuck, and that getting words on a page can start to fuel my creativity. But I’m stuck in a catch 22, where I need to write for inspiration but I need inspiration before I start to write.

Does anyone else get this?

Thinking that anything would be better than staring at a blinking cursor on a screen, I started to just write out how I feel. Aha, a blog post. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, but it’s where I am right now. And I’m going to be kind to myself, and let that be enough.

So here’s a list of what’s in my head this week; my frustrations and my dreams.

Enjoy.
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How can we support you to participate?

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I’ve been up to London a couple of times recently for work, supporting some people who have a learning disabilities to take part in a Guideline Committee for NICE. It’s the first time that they have involved service users who have a learning disability in the production of their guidelines, and they are keen to make the process as accessible as possible.

At the start of the process they have asked the committee members, “How can we support you to participate?” I think this is a great question. But I think we’re at risk of creating unnecessary divisions if we only ask it of people who have a learning disability.

You don’t need to have a learning disability to have support needs. Some people have hidden disabilities, some people have mental health difficulties, we all have our own things that help us participate in meetings or at social gatherings.
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