The only apparatus required for happiness is your pain and fucking going outside

Song of the day: Give yourself a try – The 1975

It’s all just the same pattern really isn’t it? I make big claims about starting writing in this blog again, make introduction posts and give long updates about what’s been going on in my life recently, and then there’s radio silence for months until I post yet another introduction post saying this time I really mean it.

I think there have been multiple problems with this previously. I don’t think I was always in the right frame of mind – while I wanted to write in abstract, I wasn’t mentally committed to it in practice. The second, and main, thing is that I have previously backed myself into a bit of a corner by trying to focus this blog too specifically at times when I probably wasn’t ready for it. As a result I felt too limited before I even began and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. Case in point, initially I started this to document my journey towards health and happiness. However after posting a couple of food/recipe posts, I started to feel like I could only post health and fitness related items or recipes, and that anything else wouldn’t fit with the ‘theme’ of the blog. So there were no opportunities for some of the posts I’ve written on previous blogs that I’m still proud of, such as book reviews or musings on things I’d come across in the news recently.

My dad calls me a Polymoth – I’m flighty and I have a lot of interests that I like to flit between, some may say too many. I find it hard to settle on one thing because the world is vast and wonderful and there are just so. many. things.Case in point, even just this week here are the things I’d like to work on/improve:

  • Learn to play the guitar
  • Get better at singing (particularly pop/rock singing rather than the classical/choral practice I’ve had for the past 15 years)
  • Resume playing piano
  • Daily yoga
  • Become a runner
  • Paint/draw/do art
  • Read more novels
  • Watch more films
  • Resume learning Italian
  • Learn how to make music using FL Studio 20
  • Redecorate my bedroom
  • Learn more about film/tv/radio production
  • Travel more
  • Go out and try new things more often
  • Eat consistently more healthy

So many things, not an awful lot of time. These are all items that have cropped up time and time again over the past 8 years. In true polymoth fashion, I flit back and forth between things and never give any of them a proper go. I think there’s part of me that feels like too much time spent on one will be to the detriment of the others. But I’m getting older and I’ll be the same age if I spend the time doing the things as I will be if I don’t do the things. Only, in one of these scenarios I’ve developed skills that I wouldn’t have in the other. Time is passing, I might as well use it.

Something needs to change.

The other thing that keeps cropping up is recognising that I need to let myself be bad at things in order to get good at things. Think an underlying issue is a fear of failure like many people who have previously sailed through things early on in life (e.g. GCSEs, A-levels etc.) – if I have to put in some effort, what if I try really hard and am still no good at it? At least if I don’t try it’s an available defense mechanism to blame something other than my own ability (i.e. my lack of effort/’Oh I didn’t really try’). But there’s that famous quote that I can’t quite bring myself to google right now about your taste being better than your abilities and how you need to produce a lot of bad work in order to get to the good work.

I want to use this blog to let myself explore things again, and I’ll combine this with working through The Artist’s Way. Because why not? I need to use the blog to just do, not just think about what I should do. Therefore it’s not a ‘lifestyle’ or ‘fitness’ blog, it’s whatever I need it to be at the time. I need to develop some discipline in just getting stuff done whether I’m motivated or not. I can’t create good things if I don’t put in the time.

This is day one. I can either spend the next 365 days being productive and working on things, or I can spend the next year wishing I was doing more. It may be uncomfortable, it may mean facing some harsh truths about my motivations or discipline or inability to commit, but I’d rather be able to look back in the future at all the things I’ve done rather than at all the things I didn’t do. Let’s see how this goes.

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Rebirth and Renewal

rainbow fountain cow

There’s really no correlation between this picture and this post

Surprise! I’m still alive!

So, that went well.

Despite the fact that several of the last couple of posts published on this blog discuss re-starts and a need for increased consistency in posting, you may have noticed that I’ve failed spectacularly in doing just that. Whilst I did indeed have several very good weeks following on from my last post in regards to improving my diet, exercise, sleep schedule etc… I quickly fell into the same problem that so many people have with the end of the year, when I let December and the Christmas holidays completely derail my progress.

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New Season, Fresh Start

Autumn LeavesOctober. Fall. It’s the start of the dying of the year, when it gets colder and darker and everything draws to an end. It is also, I have decided, a time to appreciate fresh starts – although I realise we’re currently heading into the latter part of the month. Plants are dying and turning to mulch so that new plants can grow in their place next year. Leaves fall from the trees so that those trees can survive the winter and then continue to grow, fresh and anew in the spring.

So whilst some people are starting to hunker down for the winter, their summer plans and fitness routines and optimism for the year starting to fade, I’ve decided to use the start of the season as a fresh start for myself.

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So We Push Through It

Sitting here on this sunny Sunday afternoon, salted caramel brownie (one of Batch Bakery’s) and coffee (from Aroamaah!) at hand, this is the best time I’m going to have to get back into the swing of this. It has not escaped my notice that just under two months ago I talked about the need to write and post more regularly, then wrote just one more blog post and vanished from the face of the earth (or at least here and most of my social media) for an embarrassingly long time.

I don’t have reasons, I have excuses. They’re not particularly good ones: I got really busy in the couple of weeks before I went on holiday, and then I was really busy during my holiday and afterwards I was stuck getting back into the swing of things and trying to find a routine and my sister came to stay and it was a heatwave and I went on day trips with friends and….

And etc.

None of these are good reasons to just stop writing. But I found myself getting into a bit of a funk, for lack of a better word. I had a wonderful time throughout most of the things I was doing, but there was lots of the day-to-day that was up in the air. So for the last 6-8 weeks I’ve been eating less healthily than I would like, not doing regular exercise, my sleep schedule has been all over the place and I have had no routine to speak of.

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It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day, It’s a New Life for Me…

New Day

…And I’m feeling good.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to be talking about fresh starts.

I originally planned to have this written and uploaded last week, straight after Easter. Like Christmas and New Year, Easter for many of us is another time of overindulgence, and my weekend was no exception. Whilst I didn’t eat all my chocolate eggs in one go, my usually balanced diet flew out of the window in the face of cheeses, pâté, pizza, roast dinners, chocolates – to name but a few. To be fair – as I had to remind myself on the third day – I wasn’t completely overeating. The quantities of all of the above were much larger than my usual intake of them, but the portions were nowhere near as big as they might have been a few years ago.

It just made me feel generally like crap. I was genuinely sad when I realised this, and annoyed my family trying to demand sympathy:

“You want us to feel sorry for you because eating this stuff makes you feel bad? Just don’t eat it then!”
“You don’t understaaaaaand!”

My diet when I’m away from my family is completely different – my own fault entirely because when I’m around them I have no self-control and tend to think “I’m on holiday”, not because they force junk down my throat. I generally feel good and very comfortable when eating the way I do at home, but that changes when my eating habits change during visits to my parents.

I have actual restraint in my own home, this lasted for weeks

I have actual restraint in my own home, this lasted for weeks

But far from feeling happy that I had been right all along, in thinking I’d found a diet and lifestyle that worked a lot better for me over the last few years, I just felt sad. A tiny part of me was hoping that I’d kind of just been being a “pretentious foodie” when professing my love for date, cashew and cacao “chocolates” over regular chocolate, or that my aubergine and mince bake sits better with me than regular lasagne, even if the latter holds a fond place in my memories.

I do still occasionally want to binge on all those now-oft-deemed “unhealthy” foods! I just don’t want to feel terrible afterwards. But I did, and I was also feeling a bit down in the dumps about life in general (it happens sometimes).

I needed a fresh start.

The thing about fresh starts is that people often decide they should coincide with an important day of the year – New Year’s Resolutions, for example, or a significant birthday. And if it’s not one of those times, often you just start feeling a bit miserable about the way things are heading and hope that they’ll change at some unspecified point in the future.

But in the immortalised words of Nina Simone – it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me.

You have the ability to start over any day you like, you can feel good, and to help here are five small things you can do to shake yourself up and feel fresher:

1. Eat something green

Vegan 'cheesy' broccoli soupOk, it doesn’t have to be green. But make yourself a much healthier meal than usual (we can all do it), and one that makes you feel fairly refreshed or ‘lighter’ afterwards. There are plenty of delicious and easy healthy recipes out there that can give us a bit of a boost and still feel fairly indulgent. Personally I made the above vegan ‘cheesy’ broccoli soup, and felt better than I had in days afterwards.

2. Sweat

SweatOr if you don’t sweat, just move in some way! Literally shake the cobwebs off. I’ve been doing Jillian Michael’s Shred It With Weights workout recently, it takes just 25 minutes and gets my heart rate up far more than a 25 min jog does (mainly because I’m unable to jog for 25 minutes, and so alternate with walking). If I don’t really want to work out one day but make myself start and finish, I feel so good and proud of myself afterwards. But if you don’t want to do anything that strenuous, go for a walk and take in some fresh air! Do some yoga! Do anything to get the blood flowing and your muscles stretched out a bit. Shaking things up physically will help you de-shake (that’s clearly a word) things mentally at the same time.

3. Shower

IMG_20150328_180630Or take a bath – use some of those left-over secret-Santa gifts from the last few years or the bath bomb/bath salts you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Take longer than usual – do the whole routine. The cleaning and the exfoliating and the conditioning and the moisturising afterwards. Feel cleaner and fresher and more pampered than you have done in a long time.

I should probably point out that this list isn’t in any sort of order. If it were, shower would probably come last. But as it isn’t, we can continue.

4. Clean

CleanTidy up your environment a little. It doesn’t have to be a lot for it to make a huge difference to how you feel. Make your bed. Wash the dishes. Throw a load of laundry into the washing machine. Wipe down the kitchen surfaces. Put away those clean clothes that have been lying on the sofa for about a week now. As much as I liked to claim that it wasn’t true when I was younger and that “I understand this mess, it’s organised chaos – this way I know where everything is!”, whoever said ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ was onto something. Buy yourself a cheap bunch of daffodils for your kitchen table. If your environment feels fresher, you’ll feel fresher.

5. Do something different

Do something different

Do absolutely anything that you don’t normally do, so long as it’s something that puts a smile on your face. It could be as simple as painting your nails if you don’t often do that (mine are now a very shiny turquoise). If you’re stuck for ideas, I love to browse the Sad Trombone List over at GalaDarling. You’re tired of your old routine, so break it up. Go to a different coffee shop. Plan a dinner that you wouldn’t normally try. Draw a picture and pin it on the noticeboard. Re-arrange the furniture. Buy and light a scented candle. Take a break for an hour – turn your phone off for an hour, sit in a room with no technology and read a new book for a short while. Get the paints out. Go to a museum. Usually wear jeans and a t-shirt? Wear a summer dress or a button-down with rolled-up sleeves. The possibilities are endless!

Shake off the cobwebs and set yourself up for a fresh start. You can now tackle anything. And that’s not because you’ve done any of the above steps. That’s because you can tackle anything, and you can achieve anything, you just needed to break out of the rut you were in.

It’s all you, and you’re doing great.

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