Journal Prompts For Nurturing Hope

For today’s self-care post, I wanted to follow on a little from Wednesday. I talked about how I think it’s important to be hopeful right now. But just saying that as an abstract is one thing. Not easily achievable. So I wanted to give you a tangible way to explore this deeper for yourself. Like, it’s not a switch, right? We can’t say, ‘ah, I need to be hopeful today cos I’m feeling too down’, then snap our fingers and will it into being. I’d love it to be that easy. But it’s not. So we’ll work with what we can. I won’t lecture you on my thoughts about journaling today. Cos I feel like I’ve done that to you enough and you’re probably sick of me. But I think writing down your thoughts and feelings can be magic. When you let the pen flow or your fingers tap, ideas and thoughts and wisps of somethings flood out of you. Often things you didn’t know were there.

To feel hopeful, I think we need to learn why we even want to. What do we want to feel hopeful about? Who? When? What will it bring us? Will it improve our quality of life? Will it help us breathe? Feel less stressed? More connected to our loved ones or the world around us? And once we find a little bit of it, how do we hold on to it? These are not always easily answerable questions. And it could change every day. But that’s why we constantly explore. We come back to ourselves and we put in the work. Because we are worthy of our own time and love. And I think whilst drowning in this burnout culture we’re living in, it’s easy to forget that. But sitting down with yourself and your thoughts is paramount to knowing what you what and need. It gives you time to reflect as well as plan. The matrix doesn’t want you to live slowly and peacefully. So doing just that is quite liberating, don’t you think?

If that hasn’t got you itching to try journaling to nurture some hope then I’ve listed below a couple of juicy prompts for you to try and get your teeth into. Happy writing, kids!

1. What does hope look like to you? (Okay, getting a bit philosophical there right off the bat, ha! But I think it’s an interesting one. It’ll help you answer the questions above, help you find your ‘why’.)

2. How did you improve somebody’s day today? (People find it difficult to give themselves complements even when they’re warranted. This will be a challenging one. But I dare you. I also think doing something for somebody else helps you feel less alone. Breeds solidarity.)

3. Where is the place you feel safest? Describe it. Paint yourself a picture. (When you feel overwhelmed in the future, or like you’re spiralling out of control, return to this place. It will allow you to centre yourself and help you fight another day. This place could be real or imaginary. It may also change over time, let it be fluid.)

4. What are you grateful for today? (Even in a day where you feel nothing good/positive/happy/fun/mildly mediocre happened, there is always something to be grateful for. Could be the teeny tiniest thing. I have a black t-shirt I really like. I had a decent coffee earlier. A song I really like came on shuffle before. There is always something; do not allow your brain to convince you otherwise.)

5. What is something you’re looking forward to? (This could be tomorrow, next week, in five years, someday. Having something, anything, to look towards can help drag you out of your current circumstances or mindset. We do live in the now, and that’s important to acknowledge. But if the someday keeps you going then use it.)

These won’t always be easy. But they’ll always be worth it.

ICU – Phoebe Bridgers

twentytwentyone

I mean, how do you even begin this post? I love writing these yearly posts but this year is just hitting a little different isn’t it? I don’t want to spend much time speaking about the elephant in the room, cos at this point we all know what’s up. I’m finding that constant mention of the pandemic is making my heart race. I’m sure it’s the same for many of you. So instead I want to just keep this post short and hopeful. Short because I don’t have much hope in me right now. Hopeful because we can’t exist without it. Whatever the situation, no matter how deep into it you are, no matter how much your mental health is holding on by a fraying thread, no matter how much you want to give up, no matter how much you’re dying for a hug or a proper pint or a maskless breath of fresh air, I think there is always hope.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

Read that again.

Every single thing that happens in your life is temporary.

I’m obviously not talking about death (etc.) here, don’t try and get smart with me. But what I mean is that every feeling and mindset and set of circumstances you find yourself in will be fleeting. Your world twists and turns and evolves constantly. Often quicker than you can keep up with. (2020, am I right?) A lot of things in our lives will feel out of our control, and honestly, a fucking lot of it is. But a lot of it isn’t. And that’s all we’ve got. So that’s what we should focus on. That’s where we find our hope. Make it tangible not abstract. Regain autonomy of our lives amongst the madness and fear. So I think that’s what we should all work on this year.

Just take a deep breath. Right now, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay. Push out of your brain all the things in your life right now that are unchangeable. I won’t list any because we all know the things that relate to ourselves specifically. Now I want you to let the things you can control float to your mind’s forefront. What is there? Maybe make a mental list. For me, a couple of things popping up are what I read, what activities I give my spare time to, how I nourish my body (mental/physical).

These are the things that are going to give us hope this year. So spend a little time thinking about what you would like from them. Maybe you’re into resolutions so you quantify your thoughts and write a list of goals. Maybe you’re not and you just think abstractly for a moment. Whatever works for you. But what I want you to do, any time over the next few months that you feel overwhelmed or hopeless or that you’re spiralling. Just stop. Everything. Pause for a second. Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Then circle back to this little list and think of one small thing you can do that day to develop one of them. Could be a walk. Could be putting a frozen pizza in. Could be watching your favourite tv show. Could be a nap. Could be as simple as getting yourself a cup of water. The things we’re controlling this year are not big. They’re the inconsequential every day, that all link together to become the most important parts of our lives. You might not be flying to Bali this year but you might give yourself ten minutes each day to journal and that is equally magical.

So what am I focussing on this year? A couple of little things.

  • I want to move my body more, however that feels right each day. Could be a run, yoga, some pilates. Could just be a walk. I’d like to incorporate more walks into my week, something positive I’m taking out of 2020.
  • I want to drink more water. I used to drink a lot but I’ve noticed now I’m usually sipping a black coffee. Oops!
  • I want to start working on my novel again. I didn’t touch it at all last year. Yikes. But I’m starting super small with just reading what I have and fixing any typos. You can have bigger goals but just break them down and down until they’re achievable little actionable tasks.
  • I want to read widely but slowly and intentionally. I had a very intense reading year last year, and I’m glad I did it and I had a lot of fun. But it was a lot. This year I want to find some new favourite books but I also want to fit in some tv, haha.
  • I want to connect better with my friends. I’m a famously bad messager but I don’t want to be. And checking in with people is so important, even more so now. So I’m working on it.
  • Oh and I want to buy a house. That’s not small but damn it, it’s happening!

So this ended up being a medium sized post. Turns out I had more hope than I realised. I hope you do too.

If you need help, reach out. To somebody, anybody. Could be me, doesn’t have to be. But don’t suffer alone. We truly are all in this together. And we’re surely reaching the home stretch now.

I hope your twentytwentyone is sublime.

Peace x

Kyoto – Phoebe Bridgers

Having a bad day

Oh hi! Did I say I’d be back last Friday? Err. This Wednesday is the same thing, right? Forgive me. I have no excuses.

This past Monday, I turned 27. I know. I’ve joined the club. But let’s hope I don’t actually join the club.. I’d like to see 28 please and thank you.

And I had a lovely day. I received some kind messages, thoughtful gifts and I felt wrapped in love by the people I love. I find birthdays a weird one, I like other people’s but not really my own. But, regardless, I actually really enjoyed this one. It was simple but perfect.

So I wake up yesterday, Tuesday, and I just spiral. About everything. And about nothing. Why? Beats me. Dude, if I knew how my brain worked (or your brain for that matter) then we’d probably be much more stable humans. (Making assumptions there, you might be a stable human, pssh, stop showing off.) But anyway, it was a shit one, tbh. Just could not shake it. Couldn’t focus on anything all day. Was just in a funk. Which felt endless. Sometimes I feel like a machine that’s ran out of battery and is just sat there staring forwards waiting to be plugged back in. Numb. Is that too much? I think actually being off work this week just didn’t help either (haha said nobody ever), cos I had nothing but time to just sit and think and unravel.

But you know what? That’s totally okay.

See you have to feel your feelings as you have them. Biggest hypocrite saying that, because I often bury emotions and pretend they don’t exist. But like, I definitely wouldn’t advise it! And if I can help you by making my own mistakes and learning from them then I’d like to share my experience. I’d like to help you get through a bad day. Cos we all have them. So I’d say the first thing: stop for a sec and just acknowledge that you’re having a shocking day. Just breathe for a minute. Like close your eyes and take deep breathes. Tell yourself that you’re going to be okay. Because you are. It probably won’t feel like it in the moment and it’ll probably be the last thing on your mind. You’re frustrated. You’re sad. You’re empty. But try and say those words out loud: You. Will. Be. Okay.

And then there’s no one-size-fits-all here. Maybe a little cry will help. Maybe a little journaling will help you physically work through what’s going on. Maybe you need to scrape that hair up, get those workout clothes on and go for a run. Maybe you need to go and take a nap. All of these are good options. But we’re trying to drag ourselves back to ourselves. Like we’re trying to find some balance, right? So I don’t mean ignore the feelings, but I mean do something that’s going to let you get to the other side, today that might be actually addressing some thoughts you’ve been having, it might just be that you want to cheer yourself up. Personally, yesterday I ate a delicious Oreo cupcake that my brother and his girlfriend had baked me and I watched Legally Blonde. Because, honestly, there’s not a problem in the world that can’t be eased with some Elle Woods. At least, I haven’t found one yet!

That made me feel a lot better. I also journaled a little. I also think, if you can, speaking to someone can just be the best medicine. I tapped my fingers together for hours yesterday waiting for my boyfriend to come home. But then just getting to talk things through felt like a huge relief. It put things in perspective. And I felt my mood picking up massively. And you know what? I woke up today feeling renewed and refreshed. (It won’t always happen that way. It might take days, weeks, fucking years. But stick with it. Because the world needs you here.) Any explanation why today is any different than yesterday? Absolutely none. But it is different. Because every single day of your life will be different.

And isn’t that kinda magic?

So we kinda snuck a bit of a Self-Care Friday into a Wednesday there. Cheeky. But like, we don’t rigidly follow schedules here. Or follow them at all.. Either way, I hope your Monday was good. I hope your Tuesday was great. I hope you’re having a boss Wednesday. And will have a fucking fantastic Thursday. And if you’re not, that’s okay too. You will be okay. You’re not alone. Ever. So reach out, to someone, anyone. My DMs are not often monitored (as my friends know, heyyyo sorry!) but they’re always open if you need them.

Take care of yourselves out there.

Peace x

Old Friends – Pinegrove

Some midweek ramblings

So my blog schedule (I know, I’m hilarious. Can we even call this a blog at this point?) dictates that Wednesday’s posts are themed ‘miscellaneous’. Basically a free-for-all, if you will. I’ll let you in on a secret, I have this list of post ideas on my phone that I’ve been adding to for years. The funny thing? I never write anything from it. Why? Who bloody knows. But hey, at least I attempt to make this a real blog. I have good intentions, I promise! Anyway, I wanna try and start writing some of them for you cos like, I obviously think they’re somewhat interesting haha. I mean some of them are completely out of date. For example, I have one that just says ‘ode to 2016’. It was gonna be this silly ‘fuck you’ to 2016 (it was gonna be a poem, it was this whole thing I was envisioning, Keatsesque you feel me?) cos, whilst I graduated that year, I kinda felt like collectively it was a pretty shocking year, cough Brexit cough. Cough Trump cough. Like, when a year starts with the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman in the first two weeks, you really don’t see it being a good one. But then it gets worse somehow. Immeasurably. Do you remember when that’s as bad as we thought it could possibly get? LOL. Well the years have just gotten progressively worse haven’t they? 2017 was the worst year of my life. Then 2018 was the worst year of the world’s life. Then 2019 was the worst year of the world’s life. Then 2020.. Er. Don’t even know how to articulate that one. Do we even want 2021 at this point? Genuinely asking. But anyway, that’s how long I’ve been writing these ideas down! What can I tell you, if procrastination was a career, then christ, I’d have a much better career than I do now. A few others: ‘this is us pilot review’ (I’m pretty sure this is on like season 4/5 now? I’m still comfortably in mid-season 1); ‘lessons I learnt from hermoine granger’ (Yikes! How timely, that one’s been binned, we don’t support terfs here); ‘red lentil pasty recipe’ (Wish I’d written that one down cos I remember it being good and that’s about it); ‘100 poem project’ (HAHAHAHAHA is all I have to say about that one tbh. I love the unsubstantiated confidence that old me had for myself. Can’t write a blog post in eight months, but 100 poems will be no problem). But you know, there’s a lot on there that still looks fun and I’m excited to write them for you.

Anyway, I was going to actually pick something off the list to write about today but it seems I’ve just written a bunch of other shite instead. Baby steps, people. Shall we see if I can make it back here on Friday for Self-Care Fridays? Wouldn’t that be a novelty. Fingers Crossed!

Peace and love.

Disappear – Dear Evan Hansen Soundtrack

Nostalgic for a time that hasn’t been

Let’s resurrect this blog, shall we?

If you’ve forgotten who I am, that’s okay. Cos I have too. This year has been… This year has been. Right? Let’s leave it at that. We all know what we’re doing here. Though if I’m honest, it wasn’t a world pandemic (take a shot) that ceased my writing as it’s clear I’d fucked this blog off in January. I don’t know what it is. I love writing. With every fibre of my being. I feel alive when I write. Yet I don’t write every day. Certainly not here, but also not to myself via my journal. I don’t always feel the need to, or feel I have anything to say. Which is okay. You don’t need to bash out three thousand words of a novel every day to be a writer. You don’t need to post a new poem to Instagram every other day to be a writer. You don’t need to write for three years to be a writer. It should be fun. There shouldn’t be pressure. So it’s okay if you haven’t written in a while. I’m telling you this but I’m telling myself too.

Sometimes things happen that are a shock to the system. We feel lost or baffled or sad or elated or fucking fantastic. The feeling doesn’t matter. What matters is that sometimes you just need a second to process it. And I mean like in your brain. Some writers process everything by actually writing it down. But there’s no one size fits all here. If you journal when you’re sad but let things slide when you’re having great day after great day, then that’s excellent. Go and enjoy the right now. If you ignore the bad because you don’t want to ever look back on it, but like to blog the happiest moments of your life, that’s boss, go do that! Just do what you need to do. The words will be there when you need them. Respect them. Don’t force them when they’re trying to rest.

And maybe you’re sat there thinking, Sarah, please, I write every single damn day. Five thousand words for my novel, an insta poem, morning and night journaling and oh, I then usually have fuel to write ten blogs posts a week too. Well, friend, that’s perfect. You too are valid here. Life is not a contest. But you should also feel pride when you accomplish personal goals. I envy you, that you have so many words up there in your mind. Honestly, sometimes I’d love that for myself!

So what are we doing here today? Dude, I don’t know. I haven’t written anything outside of a journal for like ten months. I don’t know how it works. I guess part of me wanted to check in. How are you doing? I’ve been wanting to check in but a lot has been happening this year, covid (take a shot) being just the tip of the fucking iceberg. And I want my words to be authentic and genuine. I don’t want them to appear reactionary. And I fucking certainly didn’t want to be another voice in the shout to make a loaf of fucking sourdough (take a shot). No diss if you made sourdough during lockdown (take a shot). Good for you, looks like a lot of work but seems to have delicious results. Personally, I just fell head first into reading. (I’ll update you guys on my yearly goal at some point but let’s just say we’re doing unbelievably well, don’t jinx me.) I’ve read and I’ve read and I’ve read, books that is. I’ve been trying to avoid news as much as possible because no good can come from it. (I’m aware that’s a very privileged thing to say. But honestly, the news is overwhelming even pre-2020 (take a shot). Just be kind to yourself and know what you can handle.)

But yeah, I wanted to see how you were. How are you? Has anyone asked you that recently? More importantly, have you asked yourself that recently? Have you told someone you love them recently? Have you told yourself? Have you drank water today? Have you taken time to do something rejuvenating? Have you moved your body? Have you eaten a celery stick? No? Thank god, don’t. Have you eaten something comforting and nutritious? Have you eaten a donut? Have you smiled? Have you decided you don’t want to smile and therefore not let anyone change your mind (fuck the patriarchy)? Have you spoken out loud today? Even to yourself. Have you gotten away from your desk and danced around? If you spend the majority of the day on your feet, have you sat down and rested your weary body? Have you worn your goddamn mask? Have you had a coffee? Have you admired the beautiful autumn leaves? Have you had a staring contest with the sun to express your annoyance that it doesn’t allow an autumnal climate in your area? Are you happy? Do you know that if you’re not happy you won’t always feel this way? Say it to yourself right now. Out loud. I don’t care where you are. Whisper it. Have you had enough sleep? Me neither. But one day we’re gonna have to learn to survive without five coffees. Have you blasted a good song today? (My brother sent me a song a couple of months ago and I’m now obsessed with the album it’s from. It’s called VHS by CASTLEBEAT.) Have you showered today? Have you brushed your teeth? Have you asked yourself how you are recently? Did I already say that? Oh right, that’s cos it’s an important one.

These are the questions that have been floating around in my head the last few long long (take a shot) months.

I know the end does not seem to be in sight right now. And if anything, it’s looking worse than a couple of months ago (take a shot). And I won’t lie to you, that’s because it is. But. We’ll get through it. You’ll get through it. You’ll be happy again. You’ll smile. You’ll make daisy chains with your friends and dance around the office. I’m joking, you’ll never do that. But, we’ll one day get to feel that sweaty aroma of the commuter squished up against you on the train. You’ll get to shake hands with that person who just sneezed before they saw you. You’re get to minesweep a drink off the side of a bar from an unsuspecting patron (shut up, you know you’ve done it). You’ll get to open the door of a public toilet after hundreds of gremlins before you have opened it without washing their hands. This is the future we’re dreaming of.

Okay, yeah, it’s totally not. But it’s still funny. I was talking to my friend before and I mentioned how I felt nostalgic for a time that hadn’t happened yet. And I think that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for months now. I just didn’t know how to articulate it. But that’s it. And it’s okay to feel that way. And it’s okay to dream of future holidays and cocktail nights with the girls and date nights with your partner eating endless salt and pepper tofu and taking your nan for lunch and getting a train to work without feeling physically anxious and dancing all night in a club. It’s okay to want that. And you’ll have it again. Don’t lose the faith. We’ve just gotta get through the right now together.

So I just wanted to say hi. And whatsup. And howdy. And sorry. And hang in there.

You should all be sufficiently drunk off those shots now so I’ll leave it there for today.

I’ve missed you.

Heart Still Beats – CASTLEBEAT

Sarah To Zero

Hi!

You’re probably wondering what the heck ‘Sarah To Zero’ means.

We’ll get to that.

Today, I’m gonna share with you my reading goals for the year! But first I wanted to give you a little review and wrap up of last year.

Last year I had ten goals. TEN. Have I met me? I don’t know why I did that. Although, a lot of them were more just intentions and quite abstract. They weren’t massively rigid. So I think I actually did a good job of hitting them all a bit. I read almost every day. I didn’t allow seven consecutive weeks to pass without finishing a book. I read more women than men. So I’m feeling good about those and they’re habits I’d like to carry into the future.

My main goal was of course, the number of books I wanted to read. I set it at 50 again after a very busy December 2018 reading 17 books to meet my goal. I wanted to reach 50 more comfortably before I moved it up. Sensible, I thought.

WELL.

I only went and read 73 books! I was so bloody chuffed with myself, so it’s okay if you are too. Haha. I comfortably reached my goal in about September and after that I just wanted to see how further I could actually take it. I definitely went above my expectations.

But, you know, I can’t take all the credit. A big shout out has got to go out to my new best friends: audiobooks! For some reason I only started listening to these in the later section of the year. My office thankfully allows headphones and WOW the amount of books I’ve been able to listen to. I’ve really enjoyed the different medium as well, to be honest, and have no idea why I waited so long to try them!

So yeah, pretty solid year I think. I had a lot of fun.

But on to this year. The goals. So they’re ambitious. But simple.

They’re twofold.

I want to read 100 books.

Yeah, don’t question it. It’ll be fine. I already know I’ll be taking part in about three readathons; me and my mate are setting up a book club(!) (did you see my last post?); and I only discovered audiobooks in like October or something and that really boosted my book count so imagine an entire year of them! So I feel like I definitely have the tools to push my 73 up to 100. It’s just a matter of whether I use them.

I want to minimise my unread owned books as much as I possibly can.

This is Sarah To Zero. Get it? This is me reducing my owned unread books to zero. This has been something I’ve thought about for a long time, and actively tried to change over the last couple of years.

I love books.

I want to consume every word ever written. So it makes sense that I’ve bought several books over the years. It didn’t help that in university I lived two minutes away from an amazing second hand bookshop; this is the culprit for many of my books! Couple the buying with the fact I wasn’t reading more than twenty books a year and you are obviously left with disaster and disappointment.

But I want to change that.

And I like to be real with you guys. So I’ll tell you. I started twentytwenty with 214 owned but unread books.

Yikes.

Ideally, I think I’d like that number to be 20.

SO.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. But only I can control this number.

Therefore, making no books a top rule in my no buy for this year was paramount. I picked a 100 books to read because I like to push myself, and also because I think I can do it. But imagine getting to December 31st and only having 114 books left on my shelf. That floods me with relief, even though some of you are probably thinking, what the fuck Sarah, that’s still so many books!

For me, that’s not many.

And what’s funny is I’m desperate to read all the books on my shelf. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t have bought them. Or I would have donated them by now. It’s just a matter of slowly working through them. I want their knowledge.

My newfound love for audiobooks is also going to help me out here. I have an existing subscription to Scribd (which is therefore allowed to continue according to my no buy rules) and I’ve already discovered that a massive amount of my physical shelf is on here. Being able to listen to them in work is going to hugely impact my ability to crush through them. Last year I listened to a lot of books I don’t own, because the magic of discovery was so exciting. But this year I have a clear focus so listening to the books that I already physically own will really help me reduce my shelf. So yeah, Sarah To Zero. It’s happening.

And that’s it. Didn’t you see in my twentytwenty post that simplicity is my word of the year? I really mean it.

What are your reading goals for the year? I’d love to hear them! Have you set an unrealistic goal for yourself? Do you want to get back into reading after having a long break? Do you own too many books like me and have a similar challenge to reduce them? Let me know!

Since joining it a while ago, I’ve found bookstagram a really motivating place. It makes me want to read more. So if you’re struggling or needing some inspiration definitely check the world out. My bookstagram is @theunreliablereader 🙂

The Wolves (Act I and II) – Bon Iver

 

Endless Worlds Book Club

I’m starting a book club! Yeah, you heard. And I want you to join!

I’ve wanted to join a book club for a few years now but just never acted on it. Partly because I’m shy. Partly because I can’t be bothered with the ‘big personalities’ that are inevitable to any group. You know the ones. They love the sound of their own voice. And partly because I worried I wouldn’t always enjoy the book that was chosen and then it would feel like a chore.

BUT.

No more.

My friend Carina and I have decided, fuck it, the way to solve all these problems is to simply start our own! And then Endless Worlds was born.

So what do you need to know?

– We want the book club to be accessible to anyone who wants to join. Therefore we’ve decided to pick a book bi-monthly. That gives you lots of time to read the book without feeling pressured or overwhelmed. (For you book nerds who read several books a month, it gives you the time to also read all your personal tbr* as well!)

– We wanted to be able to invite friends who didn’t live locally so instead of meeting irl we’ll be having our discussions on our Instagram page. But if you want to sit sipping a glass of wine pretending you’re at a pub with everyone whilst you type away your thoughts then we’re all for it. I might be too! Tea is also acceptable.

– Our Instagram account is @endlessworldsbookclub and we cannot wait for you to see the fucking amazing logo our very talented friend Beth has so kindly designed for us! You can check out her designs at @designsby.bh on Instagram!

– We want you to bring anyone to the book club who you think would love it. A simple way to do this is to share your book around. As there’s two months to read each book, there’s definitely time for a few of you to read one copy. This will also make the club cheaper for you!

– It won’t just be the bi-monthly books. As we get going we’ll be introducing all sorts of extras for you to participate in! Spoiler: they’ll be super fun!

– What books are we reading? Jeez, could be anything. We’re keeping it very open. Our only criteria is that it’s boss.

– January/February’s book will be announced tomorrow!

And that’s about it.

I hope you’ll join and if you have any questions at all just let me know. 🙂

tbr* – for the non-book nerds means ‘to be read’

Ahay – Of Monsters and Men

My No Buy Year: Rules and Exceptions

So I mentioned in my last post that I was undertaking a no buy year.

What the heck is a no buy?

Well! Simply, it’s whatever the heck you want it to be. Or, rather, it’s what you need it to be. The aim is to cut your mindless spending habits. The outcomes are numerous. It’s supposed to help you:

– save money

– decipher needs from wants

– declutter and minimalise

– spend more mindfully

– break your advertising brainwashing

I’m using it as a way to hit reset. I want to spend this year seeing how I feel when I spend less money. What do I need to be happy? That way, I can move forward into the rest of my life with good spending habits and the ability to stick to a budget (this is something that still escapes me). I think it’ll be challenging but I’m excited to see what happens!

So how does it work?

Typically, a lot of people use it to curb their material buying habits, ie. clothes, makeup, shit you’ve seen your favourite influencer use. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been known to buy a thirty quid water bottle and purchase more books than I can possibly read. However, for me, I know material items is not really my problem area. I don’t really own many clothes, instead favouring a Marge Simpsonesque uniform. I own five of the same black t-shirts, a black hoodie, a couple of shirts and a pair of docs. And, I mean, that just works for me. But, if you’re someone who can’t get through the day without scrolling fashion websites, or can’t walk past a sale in H&M without going in, then this is going to be a great area for you to work on.

This doesn’t just go for clothes though. As I say, books is a big one for me. It could also be video games, anime figures, candles, kitchenware, homeware, tech. Like, it’s not about completely quitting your passions. It’s just about wondering whether we need every single thing we set our eyes on.

So when it’s not about material objects, what is it about?

Oh, where to even begin! It’s eating out, it’s eating takeout, it’s coffee, it’s the cinema, it’s gigs, it’s the theatre, it’s exhibitions, it’s lunch. And more than anything, it’s booze. We’re British, we love the pub. It’s not our fault! Haha.

But no. This is my trouble area for sure. ‘Activities’. But mainly, drinking to excess. And don’t get me wrong, I love doing that. I have some of my fondest and funniest memories from nights out or unexpected daytime pub crawls. And I have no intention of stopping them entirely. But I’m getting to a point where I look at my bank account and think, fuck, what have I got to show for it? Good times, yes. But a house? Savings? Trips to California? Nope! And I’d like those things. So that’s my main intention for my own year.

But you’ve just got to find your own.

Traditionally, some people will take the ‘no buy’ idea at face value. They pay bills and buy groceries but aside from that, absolutely nothing is purchased. And I totally respect that. I couldn’t do it. However, I’m not doing my no buy to punish myself. I’m doing it to learn how to be more responsible with money. To be minimal. To focus more on relationships and relaxation than expensive tech and bottomless pints. And that’s okay too.

Some people will probably tell you that you’re doing it wrong. You are not doing it wrong. Because there are no rules. It is not a contest. It is a self-development project. So set yourself some rules to stick to but also list your exceptions. Write them down and then cement them. Having clear rules will help you each time you go to take your card out of your purse. Having clear exceptions will also help you stick to your ultimate goals whilst having fun. If we didn’t have them, our desperate selves would find a loophole and that’s just not what we want.

I think the overarching idea is to have fun. It’s not extreme to take control of your finances and consumerism. It’s actually quite responsible. But with this challenge comes the chance to have fun where you never would have looked for it before. By eating out once a month, you’re not telling your friends you hate them. Simply find ways to hang out with people that are free. Go to the park, go to a free museum, go for a hike. There’s so much out there waiting to be discovered.

I’m really excited about this year. And whether you decide to embark on your own no buy (or low buy, less intense version) or not, I’ll keep you posted on my journey. And maybe you’ll start to think a little more mindfully in your own spending habits!

My No Buy Rules + Exceptions

– No books

– No physical objects

– Replacements/repairs are fine (deodorant, jeans, think one in one out)

– Gifts are fine, so are birthdays (if someone invites me to celebrate their birthday I’ll say yes)

– No new subscriptions but existing are fine

– Things for education/fitness are okay (gym membership, driving lessons etc.)

– Things for the wedding are fine (my sister’s wedding is due to be the event of the year!)

– One day in Dublin (I made a pact with my mum that I’d go there every year of my life)

– One trip each quarter (these will have spending limits. Glastonbury, Scotland..)

– Eat out with Danny once a month

– Eat/drink out once a month with friends

– Six visits to friends outside of Liverpool

– Twelve cinema trips

– Twelve theatre/gig trips

– £15 for food/drink with each theatre/gig trip

– £20 monthly in house budget (beers, ice cream, treats and such)

– A couple of extra Christmas outings is okay

And there you have it! Those are my rules. I don’t know if people think that’s a lot of trips out or barely any. For me, that’s a lot less than I’ve gone out this past year so for me it’ll be challenging to stick to! As I say, you can choose to do your no buy however you like. Some might cut everything but essentials. Others might just do physical objects. Some might do a mix like me. Anything goes, kids. You should know this on my blog by now! Also remember, you can start a no buy whenever you want, it doesn’t have to be January. You also don’t have to do a year. You could do a month or even a week!

Let me know what you get up to!

Say Anything – Girl In Red

twentytwenty

So I haven’t written a blog post in a long time but let’s just skip over that! I’ve kinda made these beginning of the year posts a tradition so I didn’t want to miss it.

I really like resolutions. I know a lot of people don’t. But I enjoy setting intentions for myself. Goals. Challenges. Mantras. I like to spend the last couple of days of the year kind of just collecting my thoughts and ruminating on what I want for myself going forward.

And I’m feeling good about twentytwenty. I know right, how? This year, and quite frankly, the three years before that, have been pretty shocking. For all of us. But regardless, I think it’s important to stay hopeful, even when the world is exploding around you. Especially then. Whether it’s things in your personal life, work life, or the greater world around you, you’ve just got to keep fighting. Wake up each day, be grateful to be alive, and then get to work. And believe me, I know it’s not always that easy. But you’ve just got to keep fighting. Don’t let the bastards grind you down, and all that.

So I’m moving into twentytwenty hopeful.

I think my word for the year is simplicity. Because there’s just so much noise and bullshit in the world that I just need to keep my mind clear. So my goals are super simple this year. When I think about my life it always comes back to three words: writing, saving and health. So that’s what I’m going to work on. How? Lots of ways. But my main plans are:

Writing – Last year during nanowrimo I managed to write 50,000 words towards a novel. I KNOW! Still can’t believe it. Also yes, I’m writing a novel now, cos why not. Starting January, after a month break, I’m going to begin organising my work by editing, structuring and then writing to fill the gaps. I’m also attempting to read 100 books, because I’m an idiot but I also love an unachievable challenge. Also, I’m in the midst of a project called Sarah to Zero where I try to minimise my owned unread books to well, zero. We’ll see how that goes.

Saving – I’m continuing to fuel as much money as humanly possible into my house isa. I’m also undertaking a no buy year! Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon and I’m now consumed by the idea. More on this some other time. The basics are you just stop buying things. Maybe learn a bit of mindfulness along the way.

Health – I’ve recently joined a gym which I hope to work into my daily routine. I’m also five months into a yoga for 365 days journey, loving it so far. I’ve also been experimenting with intermittent fasting for a couple of months so I’m going to keep working at it until I find a system that works excellently for me.

And there you have it. I just want to press pause more in twentytwenty. I had so much fun in twentynineteen but I feel like I was always moving. I want to relax this year, lie in bed and read, journal, meditate, cook, do yoga, go for walks, and just hang out with Danny. So that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully you’ll see me around here more too.

What are your twentytwenty plans?

Vulture, Vulture – Of Monsters And Men

Songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To

I’m actually having a pretty good day today. I’ve had a nice string of them recently. However, on good days I often think about bad days. Not in a way that makes me sad. But in a way that makes me smile. Any bad day you have will eventually lead to a good day. I like to be thankful that I’m experiencing a good day. And whilst I know I’ll have more bad days in the future, I try to push that from my thoughts and just live in the present. Don’t question it. Good days also make me respect the bad days. Because sometimes they are needed. Sometimes we need to completely reset and the only way that happens is by having a truly rubbish day. So I want to focus on that day. Because I think on those days just being by yourself and having a good cry can be really healthy. You should never suppress tears. You also don’t need a reason for crying. People will tell you the opposite but they are wrong. If your body and mind are telling you that you need to cry then do it. If you are able to release something, whatever it is (maybe a bit of stress, some anger from something that’s happened that day, or maybe you just feel like you’re drowning a little less today), then you’re that little step closer to having a good day. And a good day doesn’t have to be the goal, working through the bad days step by step is impressive enough. But having that little inkling of future adventure or warmth or contentment might just push you forward. So to help you on those bad days I’ve compiled a playlist of 100 songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To. Because we all know there’s no better combination of sadness and slow, atmospheric, acoustic music. So close your door, ignore your notifications, lie down and just breathe. Maybe you need to get up and dance when the moment takes you. Maybe you need to thrash your head to get the energy out. Maybe you fall asleep as you listen and feel refreshed when you wake. Whatever it is, these songs are here to help you. I hope you find some new favourites. Personally, the only two songs I might possibly ever need to live are I Shall Cross The River – The Black Atlantic and Human – Of Monsters And Men. They allow me to breathe. I’m sure you have some of your own. I hope this playlist does something for you. Moves something in you. And then who knows, maybe tomorrow will be better.

Songs To Cry Your Eyes Out To Playlist