On Feeling Good

I think I like to write blog posts when I’m feeling good. And hopeful. And optimistic. That’s not to say that for the long, lonely months I leave you blog-less that I’m feeling bad. Not at all. But it’s more like those days where you wake up and just know it’s gonna be a good day. You know the ones I mean? And it’s not because you necessarily think the world is magic or that you believe there’s a higher power who’s gonna make your day good. But there’s an unexplainable feeling (hell, maybe there’s an explicit reason and those are great days too) and then you actively choose to have a good day. The feeling is just a suggestion, it’s up to you to seize it. There’s just a vibrating hum in your bones or you can’t stop smiling whilst you’re brushing your teeth for some reason or you feel the sunshine hit your retinas the second you leave your door. One of those days. And today is one of those days for me. So, hello, hi. How’s it going? What’s new with you?

It’s actually a really dreary day here in Liverpool today. (For me it was the uncontrollable teeth brushing smiling today, not the burning of the retinas.) But it’s fucking Friday so I’m feeling fantastic. I’ve been doing a lot of Saturday overtime recently cos money, but tomorrow I’m free and that honestly feels glorious! I’m going to sleep in and then I’m going to drown myself in coffee, how every good day begins. Perhaps next I’ll move my body in the form of yoga. I’ll get my pops involved, because he loves Adriene almost as much as I do. When you’re having a lazy morning, there just has to be scrambled tofu involved. Like it’s the law, I don’t know what to tell you. Shout out to my sister for the greatest recipe ever. Then maybe, weather permitting, I’ll go for a walk on the beach with my boyfriend. Yes, I feel unbelievably thankful and grateful to live on the coast. There’s just something about the ocean waves, man. From there, the world is really my oyster. Lockdown ain’t gonna stop me enjoying my life. We just adjust and find new ways to feel good. Maybe I’ll while away the afternoon reading. Maybe I’ll binge The Walking Dead, although we’re going for a chill vibe so maybe I’ll skip that hellfire til Monday. Perhaps I’ll watch a movie, Moxie, new to Netflix, looks like an excellent gen z feminist good time. Suppose I may do some baking. Or order a pizza. Or drink wine with my favourite person. Or hangout with some of my other favourite people via our camera phones. I know I sounded like a boomer there, but I’m in too good a mood to edit it. So just accept it, it’s all good. The possibilities are quite literally endless. So don’t forget that. If lockdown is getting you down, hun, I get it. It has sucked. This last year has been unlivable. But you know what? We’re fucking getting through it. We’re pushing through. We’re surviving. The end is in sight, I believe it. You gotta keep the faith. Life will resume. And you’ll savour it, and take it slower. You’ll eat out more and meet friends more, frequent pubs more, watch more movies in the cinema, hell, you might even go to a spin class. Cos it’s gonna feel like a new lease on life. And that’s cos it is. So there’s a lot to look forward to. But don’t rush it. We can’t have that right now, so instead of sending yourself mad, just focus on what you can control. And that is this weekend. And taking care of yourself. And feeling good. So what the heck are you doing this weekend? Whatever it is, I hope it’s a good one. I hope you feel good. I hope you take it slow and take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time to rest. Relax. Breathe. And for all my weekend-working kids out there, I see you, just apply this to your next off day instead!

Have you ever noticed how I can write a whole blog post without really saying anything? Yeah, that’s kind of my brand. It’s an art form. No, I’m kidding. But I suppose I just write this blog in hopes that one single person won’t feel so lonely. Sometimes that person is me. But sometimes it’s you, and I’m glad I can be here for you. Just as you are here for me.

Your shot challenge is to take one every time I said the words good/feeling good/good day. But no driving after that, so plan accordingly.

Wasting Time – CASTLEBEAT

Get moving

I feel like the past year has just been a lot of collective breath holding. The world is on fire. We’re all stressed out and panicked and scared and lonely and bored and grumpy and in a damn funk. And I get it. I’m right there with you.

But today we’re gonna say no to all that.

No.

NO.

Not today.

Instead, today we’re gonna dance. We’re gonna get off our lazy backsides and we’re gonna dance it out. (Okay, I’ve been binging a lot of Grey’s Anatomy recently and that might be influencing this post. But Cristina Yang is a fucking marvel and when she says dance it out, you dance it out.) All you have to do is get up and move. Right now.

And I get it. Showing up is hard. Showing up for yourself and your wellbeing is often not fun. It’s challenging and real and sometimes traumatic. But today if you show up for yourself I PROMISE you that it will be fun. So up you get.

Are you up?

Okay, good. Now turn on your music. Your music. Whatever that may be. Whatever is gonna get you moving. You turn it up loud and then you dance.

If you need a jumping off point, here’s a few of my faves:

1. Good as Hell – Lizzo

2. Music To Walk Home By – Tame Impala

3. 9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

4. I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

5. Thinkin Bout You – Ciara

6. Nature Of The Experiment – Tokyo Police Club

7. Norgaard – The Vaccines

8. Ain’t Got Far to Go – Jess Glynne

9. Jackie And Wilson – Hozier

10. Inbetween Day – The Cure

(Don’t try and analyse my music taste cos you’ll never make sense of it. Haha!)

I feel like I’ve done a post similar to this a few years ago but honestly I’m too lazy to check. If I have, I’m sorry for recycling content. But if I have, I’m prescribing it again. Because it works. If only for a second. If only for the time your music is on and your limbs are grooving. I guarantee you will smile. The rest? Well, we’ll deal with that after. But for the next three minutes, half hour, hour just enjoying the dancing.

Disclaimer: If you are not sweating, you have not danced long or hard enough. Get back to it.

Movin’ on Up – Primal Scream

This is a check in

I think when our minds are busy and our lives are busy we often forget to take care of ourselves. We forget to check in. I’ve got some exciting things happening in my life right now. Big things. But they’re taking up a lot of brain space and I’m a bit consumed by them. However, even when the situation is a positive one, it’s important to take a step back occasionally and just see how you’re doing.

So this is me checking in.

How are you? Are you hanging in there? If you think you can’t do it, whatever it is, you can. I’m telling you you can. You just have to hang in there. Are you taking care of yourself? I find when I get wrapped up in something, good or bad, I stop doing the small things that make me happy in the day to day. Doing yoga, reading all nightlong, dude, why do you think my blog posts disappear for months on end? We constantly feel ‘busy’ or we just don’t have ‘time’ or we’ll do the thing ‘tomorrow’ after we’ve just got this ‘done’. But you blink and that’s your life. Are those really the words you want to be remembered by? Busy? Tomorrow? Come on now, no you don’t. So maybe we start changing the words to ‘now’ and ‘slow down’ and ‘free’.

You may think I’m about to tell you how you can move in this direction. Unfortunately, I’m not. Because I don’t have a goddamn clue how you achieve that or even begin to. I’m deeply flawed. But I’m also aware of that fact. So my advice is linked to these two things. It’s simple and it’s all I’ve got for you today.

When you start noticing you’ve stopped taking care of yourself, that’s when you need to start taking care of yourself again.

And hey, maybe in the future we work on knowing this is happening before we completely burnout. But we’re also millennials, so that’ll probably never happen. But right now, this is enough. When you become conscious to the fact that you are neglecting yourself, don’t ignore it. Your brain is stopping you short and saying ‘hey, can you pay attention to me for a sec!’ and at that point you’ve reached your peak. Or you rock bottom. Like I say, I think this can happen when we’re filled with ecstasy as well as dread. Looking after yourself should always be your number one priority. So try not to forget that so often.

But anyway, this was my check in. This was me getting outside for a very windy and cold walk this morning during my break at work and listening to Folkore and just thinking, huh, this is the first time my mind has been somewhat silent all week and hey, I haven’t written a blog post for ages. I’ve barely read a page of my book all week. I’ve been eating mindlessly. I’ve not been present in my own existence. So then I started writing this blog post in my head. All you have to do is notice.

When are you going to notice and what are you going to do about it?

Peace x

circle the drain – Soccer Mommy

Once and never again?

Do you re-watch the same television shows? Do you have a certain book that you read every year? Have you got those couple of movies that you’ve seen more times than you count? Are your walks to work dominated by the same few albums? Do you consume media and then consume it again?

I hear some people don’t do that. Who are these people, I wonder? I’m a big re-watcher/reader/listener.

But I’ve been trying to work out why. Because, don’t get me wrong, I love discovering new things. I mean, you’ve heard I like books, right? And I’m always taking Netflix show recommendations from my mate and listening to songs my brother sends me on Spotify and watching, what I can only imagine at this point is, the eighty-seventh Rocky movie with my partner. But I also have personal classics that I’m always coming back to. Or thinking about the next time I get to hang out with them. And that’s when I realised it.

Returning to things makes me feel safe.

I think that’s what it comes down to. I like to feel safe. And comfortable. Like I’m among friends. And they’re helping me with my problems. I like to wrap myself in a big warm cocoon of songs I love and words that make me pause and movies that break my heart or make me laugh so hard I cry.

They’re my history. Each little piece of them tells a tiny tale that all weave together to become the whole of me. I remember sitting cramped around our first family computer on uncomfortable chairs with my siblings watching The Day After Tomorrow. I remember the first music video we ever saw was Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor (squished around that same computer). I remember making our parents sit painfully though our dance routines to the Vengaboys that we were so proud of. I remember hours of car journeys each getting to choose one CD in turn out of our big black case. Sometimes U2 or Blue or S Club 7 or The Kooks. I remember memorising every line from the movie A Cinderella Story because I watched it every day after school on my portable DVD player that I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to get for Christmas. I remember watching High School Musical in 10 minute snippets on Youtube and feeling exhilarated that I’d cheated the system. I remember discovering streaming sites and watching endless hours of Heroes and Prison Break in my room hoping I didn’t accidentally get a virus on my laptop. I remember the reading group me and my friends had in our ICT classes, constantly swapping around Sarah Dessen books. I remember singing every word to The Scene Aesthetic with my friend during our edgy adolescence. I remember watching The Breakfast Club for the first time in my room because a guy had come around to put new carpet down on our stairs and I was stuck upstairs alone whilst my family all watched Neighbours downstairs. I remember watching Neighbours every day after school with my siblings and my mum. I remember watching What Lies Beneath at a Year 6 sleepover and being absolutely terrified. And I remember night after night working bar in uni listening to the same trashy pop songs every night and rolling my eyes but then shouting the words the next Friday when I was there myself, wasted.

Whilst many of these examples are not my favourite things or ‘safe spaces’ it’s still interesting to recollect. So many moments in my life link back to a book or a band or a movie. And I kind of love that. It’s like sensory memories. And I find those really satisfying. People remember what something tasted like or smelt like. But what were you listening to? What were you reading? What melodies were vibrating through your heart and what words were swirling around your head?

I know that on the beautifully silent, early morning summer paper rounds I discovered and fell in love with Snow Patrol’s album A Hundred Million Suns. I know that when I was home for Christmas from my year abroad in America, Brooklyn Nine-Nine kept me company during my long hours of jet lag. They helped me sleep again a few years later when my mum died. I know that my favourite song from last year (Old Friends – Pinegrove) came from a mixed CD my brother made me and we played on loop whilst we (and my boyfriend) hung out and drunk beer and talked about life. I know that Legally Blonde has got me through just about any bad mood I’ve ever had. All the way back to when I bought the DVD with my teenage part-time job wages and dreaming of the day I’d be as excellent as Elle Woods. I know I spent my childhood quoting School of Rock and Mean Girls endlessly with my siblings and feeling so loved. And I know I sat in a Creative Writing class at uni in America reading Autobiography of Red and Dept. of Speculation and Citizen: An American Lyric and We the Animals and realising that writing could be so much more that I had ever realised. And I don’t know, when I revisit these texts and songs it gives me a floating sense of connectedness. At least, I sense of floating that grounds me.

Do you have moments like that? Are you an avid re-watcher/reader/listener? Or have you just read all that and thought, ‘what the fuck is she talking about’? Either way, thanks for coming on the journey with me! This is what happens when I start writing about something without a clear idea in mind, haha. But what I was thinking about mainly is returning to things now that we know and love. I think it’s a kind way you can support yourself in 2021. It’s respite from the dystopia we’re living in. It’s a good way to feel content. With that said, I’m off to start season three of Grey’s Anatomy (again). Wbu?

Mind Mischief – Tame Impala

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

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

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