Coronavirus, Lockdown and Me

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I’ve been off from work for a few weeks now, I was really poorly with something – aches, tiredness, shortness of breath, coughing and a sore throat which wasn’t good.  My temperature spiked on Easter Monday to 38.3 and by Tuesday I felt awful.  I phoned the dr and had a telephone consultation where he said from the sounds of my symptoms I could have contracted the virus but now it sounded like a chest infection as I was coughing up some funky coloured phlegm, and have been prescribed antibiotics.  The prescription was sent to my local pharmacy and I had a bit of trouble getting it – queued for ages at the pharmacy who couldn’t find my prescription so I had to call the dr to re-send it and managed to get my antibiotics on Friday.

I’ve been taking my antibiotics since Friday and am still feeling rough but getting better slowly and I’m so thankful that we have got an NHS service that can provide us with these things and take care of us.

I’ve been on lockdown and in isolation for nearly 3 weeks now and it can be a struggle, I find myself getting a bit lonely and my stress and anxiety haven’t been too good, and coupled with being ill it has been hard at times, but I have found some ways to cope and cheer myself up.  Our street takes part in the Clap for Carers at 8pm on a Thursday which I have been joining in with from my doorstep, its nice to see the neighbours and be part of something nice.  I have also been joining in with Frock Up Friday which is a fantastic group full of the most lovely people who all get dressed up on a Friday and post their outfits to the group, I’ve never been part of a more lovely and inspiring group!  It has even encouraged me to get dressed up during the week too, and I have been making an effort with my outfit and makeup choices each day.  I find that making an effort to dress up is making me feel a bit less ill and it has altered my mindset in a positive way.

And I am working on the 100 Day Project which runs for 100 days!  People can choose to do anything over the 100 days, I’ve seen people doing 100 days of baking, dancing, singing, sketching, sewing, all sorts!  It’s not just for artists and anyone can take part!  I decided to do 100 days of squares and am doing 8×8 inch squares which will all link together to form a big picture which I want to hang in my spare room.  I am using the project to try out lots of different mediums and techniques so the outcome should be really interesting.  I am a few days behind as I have been working on linking the pictures together and re-working some things as I go along so its not really been a square a day but, I have been “arting” each day!

Here’s some of my work on the project so far…

How are you all?  what have you been up to?  I hope you are all staying safe and well!

Words on Wednesday

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It seems that I could have contracted the Coronavirus.  I haven’t been feeling 100% for the past week and have been self-isolating for the second time since last Wednesday.  I have had another cough and sore throat which I had put down to having really bad hayfever but isolated again just to be on the safe side.  For the past few days, I have been feeling pretty short of breath like I have just run somewhere or have been rushing about even though all I have done is go upstairs for something and come back down.  I phoned work to let them know how I am feeling and that I would be isolating for a bit longer.  Aside from the shortness of breath and the odd coughing fit I don’t feel too bad in all, just really anxious and worried about the whole virus situation.

I decided not to watch the news as I was getting pretty triggered by it and have had a few panic attacks, instead I only watch one news programme – the update each day, and I will read the news update on the Guardian app on my phone if I miss the daily tv news.  This has been helping to control the anxiety I have been feeling.  I have also been practising mindfulness for half an hour each day – lighting incense, listening to some calming meditation music and just breathing.

I have been chatting to friends on the phone daily and am grateful that we have video calling, and have spent a few hours chatting with friends and being able to see their faces.  I have been working on my blog and planning future posts that I want to write which have been nice as I feel that, after the patchy internet episode I had the other month, I have been neglecting my blog and routine somewhat.  I have even managed to do a few hours work in the garden the other day as the sun has been shining.

I have a few different things I want to do, many of which I feel should wait until I feel less out of breath – finish painting the kitchen, add a few different coloured strips to the wall where my desk is located in my spare room, sanding down some desk drawers I was given and re-painting them, the list goes on!

But, for now, I have a new project that I am undertaking which started yesterday, its called The 100 Day Project.  The project runs for 100 Days and you can choose to do anything in that 100 days, so far I have seen posts from people who will be undertaking 100 days of dance, workouts, baking, card making, weaving, drawing, writing and all sorts of other activities in-between.  I have decided to take part and am working on one 8×8 inch square of paper each day, creating a pattern on it that will link to the next square and so on.  I am hoping, by the end of it to have 100 squares that are all linked together and forming an 80×80 inch square made up of 10×10 8inch squares which I will be fixing together to hang in my spare room.  I will be putting the date on the back of each square and am thinking about journaling something onto the backs so I can look back on it in years to come and remember what I was doing.

How is everyone?  Are there any projects you are currently working on?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Coronavirus, Anxiety and Me

I have been in self-isolation for the past week and I am on the verge of returning to work after this 7 day period at home.  I have been ok physically but, as the coronavirus outbreak is worsening I am really starting to struggle with my mental health.

Last year I was absent from work with stress, anxiety and depression for nearly 6 months and up until a few days ago I felt pretty stable but now I am starting to struggle, especially with the anxiety side of my mental health.

I went shopping, as I usually do on payday and I normally buy much that I need for the month ahead.  In the days leading up to going shopping, I was hearing stories of the shops selling out of essentials that I normally buy monthly which started my anxiety levels to rise.

I get paid monthly, I live on my own, I have bills to pay and my monthly salary just about covers that along with food and other things I might need.  I have very little room monthly to save any money and budgeting for food is one way that I can keep in some kind of control of my finances.  When I went shopping (and I visited 3 different supermarkets), not one had items that I rely on for my monthly food shop.  I eat a lot of pasta, at least 3 times a week as I know that what I cook will do me for 3 meals (one that evening, then lunch with the leftovers for tea), there were no tins of baked beans that I eat on toast at least 2 times a week, there was no veg, the freezers were empty save for a few tubs of ice-cream.  There were no toilet rolls or dog food, laundry products, hand wash, bath products or bin bags.  This has caused me a lot of worry and expense.  I need to eat, my dog needs to eat and I have a budget that I really can’t go too far away from.

In the end, I was forced to buy dog food and pasta on-line (Amazon had some stocks available) but I paid over the odds.  Roxy usually has one type of food and I couldn’t get that so instead of spending the usual £9 on a bag I had to buy something that was similar in nutritional value and ingredients that cost twice as much.  And I have had to bulk buy pasta online spending a lot more than I usually do.

In addition to that, I am getting really anxious about how this virus will affect those around me, both my Mum and Dad are in the at-risk group and are retired and I am worried about their health and how they will manage in having to isolate themselves with things like food shopping and just remaining safe.  My brother is also in self-isolation for the foreseeable future as he is asthmatic.

I have been watching the news, not constantly but the important parts of it as the advice the government are giving seems to change on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  I don’t know whether watching it is making my anxiety worse or not but I do know that I would rather be armed with the facts and be up to date with advice that is being given.

I’m worried about going back to work, and I can’t help panicking about what would happen if I picked up the virus and carried it to my parents or transferred it to someone else and I am worried about how the virus could affect me.

I’m worried about what will happen with work and if the office will remain open and about working from home.  I was planning on getting broadband put into my home this month but can no longer afford to do so as my food bill was more than I had planned.  Not having broadband and having to rely on mobile internet might be ok for blogging and other general browsing but I don’t have enough data to work from home for 7.5 hours a day for 5 days let alone afford to do this indefinitely.  I don’t even know if working from home would be an option when the work I do means that I have access to personal data.

And I am worried about having an extended period of time away from work, whether I will still get paid, whether I will still have a job to go back to should I take leave and whether, if I have to have time off again due to my mental health (which was stable before this virus pandemic) whether it will go down as sick leave and how that will affect my sickness record and pay.

I am just really anxious and worried about everything at the moment and I’m struggling to see anything in a positive light with so few answers to any questions, the advice we are being given changing constantly and all these stupid people who are panic buying and making the situation even worse in the grand scheme of things.

Words on Wednesday

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I have signed up for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge, a blog challenge that starts with a topic of your choice beginning with A on the 1st of April and ending with a Z on the 30th April (skipping Sundays!)  I took part last year and really enjoyed it so have decided to participate again this year too!  I have a theme all ready to go and am drafting my introduction post this week to be ready for the last day in March!

I love a blog challenge and have tried my hand, so far, at Blogtober, Blogmas and Blogging from A-Z.  I am considering taking part in NaNoWriMo this year instead of doing Blogtober and Blogmas, or maybe even doing all 3 but that’s a long way off!  I love that these challenges can boost the sense of community, encourage us to support other bloggers/writers, introduce us to new blogs, push our skills, encourage us to write better and more engaging content, learn more and have fun along the way.  Another great thing is that it gives us the freedom to try something new with our blogs without the commitment of making a full change, we can test things out, see if we like them and if ourselves and our readers like them we can use them in the future, the same goes for trying something and then it not being as successful as we thought it was, we can drop it for the time being.

Are you taking part in any blog challenges this year?  Let me know in the comments as I’d love to know your thoughts on blog challenges and the ones you do (or don’t!) take part in!

 

Words On Wednesday

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I have had lots of success with obtaining things second hand, either for free or for cheap from places like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Ebay and have spent time perusing things for sale or free on local Facebook groups too (its a secret hobby of mine!) but I’m starting to see, more and more often, some things which, when selling an item, are big no-no’s.  Here are a few examples

  • “First to view will buy”.  Surely this is asking for a ton of people just coming to view then saying “nah, sorry, not really interested” and messing the seller around.
  • “Used but good condition”.  I have no problems with this statement if it is true but some of the items are so used they really should be taken to the skip.
  • “Might need a clean”.  Then looking at the accompanying photos and the item is disgustingly grubby.
  • “Pet and smoke-free home”.  All well and good when the attached pictures include a pet sitting in the background.
  • “A few scratches”.  Scratches?  It looks like it has been run over by a dumper truck!  (I was looking at mobile phones and it was clear the screen was totally smashed!)

While these things are big no-no’s they have taught me something when selling items online and here are some of my top-selling tips

  • Make sure the item is clean and in good condition – would you want to buy it?
  • Take clear photos of any damage or wear and tear.
  • Be honest – if you have pets or smoke then don’t advertise that it is from a smoke/pet free home.
  • Look at other similar items and price accordingly.
  • Take photos in natural light and include any accessories that you are selling with it.
  • Be clear and concise in your advert –  don’t waffle.
  • Respond to any messages about the item as soon as you are able.  There is nothing more frustrating for a prospective buyer to not get a response or get one that is late.

Have you ever sold or bought anything second-hand?  What have your experiences been like?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Fiction Friday – So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

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Today is the first post in my new series “Fiction Friday” which will be all about the books I have read or listened to, book reviews and books I have to be read, this will appear on the blog each Friday.  To kick off the series I am going to share with you a book that I have just finished listening to.

I downloaded So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter to listen to on Audible as I had heard so many good things about the book (plus I really like Dawn O’Porter, her Instagram is lovely).  I’ve never read (or listened to) any of her other books but, since this one, I have saved her other ones to my wishlist of books to read!

The book is about 3 different women, Lauren, Beth and Ruby, whose lives on the outside appear to be perfect, however, behind closed doors things are completely different.  The book follows them in a plot that sees them all crossing paths and along the way, the not so perfect details of their lives are revealed.

This book was a really fun read and made me smile and even laugh in places, and made me feel sad in others along with cringing at certain things that happen to the characters.  It made me realise that we are all prone to judge people on the lives that they portray rather than the real lives they have, that we don’t always know, or speak about, or are even comfortable with people knowing what we deem as bad aspects but in reality, I think people are a lot more understanding than we give them credit for.  The book also made me think about friendships and how we connect with people in different ways and that most of our friends and even people we meet are much more supportive than we realise.

If you like a good story about friendship and the trials and tribulations of life then I really recommend this book to you.

Have you read this book or any others by Dawn O’Porter?  And if not, what have you been reading recently?  Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Funday – Looking Back

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It’s now 2020 and the start of a new decade, a whole 10 years have passed since 2010 and I am still struggling to comprehend where the last 10 years has gone!  And even though it seems to have passed by quickly, 10 years is a really long time when you think about it.  36500 days, 876,000 hours, 52,560,000 minutes, and there is so much that has happened in that time globally, locally and personally.

I’m sure, wherever you are, you will have seen some of the news highlights of the past 10 years, whether it be celebrity news, economy, business or any other kind of news.  Seeing these changes has made me think about my life over the past 10 years and things that have happened to me in that time so today I am sharing my “Decade of Highlights”.

  • I was made redundant
  • My brother and sister in law got married
  • I passed my driving test
  • I got accepted onto my Foundation Degree course in uni
  • I became an auntie
  • I worked 3 jobs in one go to fund myself through uni
  • I passed my Foundation Degree and was accepted onto my BA (Hons Degree)
  • I handed my notice in on 3 different jobs for different reasons
  • I undertook a Nail Technologies course and passed
  • I moved into my own home
  • I got a full time, permanent job
  • I got a dog
  • I attended a ton of festivals all over the UK
  • I got back in touch with old friends
  • I started my blog
  • I learned so many new skills that would be hard to even list
  • I overcame fears
  • I got diagnosed with Aspergers
  • I have begun to understand myself

There are so many small things that have happened too but there really are too many to list, but the biggest thing that has happened is that I started 2010 with no real idea of what I wanted to do and have ended it, and begun 2020, with a solid idea of what I want to do and a plan of how I can achieve my goals!  Hopefully, this coming decade will be the decade where all my dreams come true!

What are some of your highlights of the last decade?  I’d love to hear in the comments!

Blogmas – I Missed a Few…

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I’d had it all planned out, all the posts for the whole of December and I was doing so well up until last weekend when I had a few impromptu days of visitors and spending time with friends that catching up on Blogmas was nearly impossible.

It isn’t often that I have last-minute plans and lose a few days of blogging but it was really nice to spend time with friends who I haven’t seen for years and spend the time catching up over a few glasses of wine, eating lovely food and just spending quality time together.

Then, before I knew it, Christmas was upon us!  I worked Monday and Tuesday, zooming home after work each day to finish writing cards and wrapping presents that I had forgotten about, packing a bag for myself and Roxy and travelling to my friends on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas Day there.  I headed back on Boxing Day, then gathered some things, had a shower and drove to my Mum and Dads house to have our Christmas with my brothers, sister in law and my niece and nephew.

I had a really lovely time seeing the kids open their presents, spend time chatting with all of the family and eating lots of lovely food, including lots of cheese (sorry Dad!) before arriving home and heading to bed.

On Friday I had to go to work but the day was easy and quiet with only a few of us in.  It was the perfect atmosphere to get all of the loose ends tied up and ready for Januarys payment to be made.

I got home from work around 4:20pm and cleaned the house and tidied up before heading to bed early, both Roxy and I were shattered!  I was up early on Saturday and whizzed the hoover around as my brother, sister-in-law, my niece and nephew were popping by before heading back to London.

It has been a hectic, mad and brilliantly fun festive period but I am so glad that we only do this once a year!  I’m now on count down to the New Year!  I have so many plans and ideas for the New Year and I can not wait to get everything underway and started!

How was your Christmas?  I hope you all had fun!  what are your plans for New Year’s Eve?

Blogmas – Surprise Saturday

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It’s the first Saturday of December which means it is also the first Saturday of Blogmas, otherwise known as Surprise Saturday on my blog!  Surprise Saturday’s are, well, a surprise!  In today’s Surprise Saturday I am sharing a memory that I have of Christmas when I was small.

Back when my brothers and I were small we would wake up on Christmas Eve and play games with the rest of the family, watch films and generally have a nice family time.  There were never decorations put up though, and we would have our bath, Mum would read to us and then we would go to sleep.

On Christmas morning we would wake up, probably far too early in my parents’ eyes, with a sack of presents having been left at the end of our beds.  We would drag our presents into Mum and Dad’s room, wait patiently for Dad to make everyone a cup of tea and return before delving into our gifts.

Once all the gifts had been opened we would make our way downstairs.  The sight that greeted us was one of magic, a Christmas tree standing in the corner with lights all twinkling, paper chains hanging from the ceiling along with foiled 3d snowflakes and balls and tinsel draped over the tv unit and bannister rails.  It was truly a sight to behold.

My brothers and I were always amazed at how different the rooms seemed and I can’t imagine how much work it must have taken to put the decorations up after looking after 3 hyped-up kids on Christmas Eve and I always think back to that time with a smile on my face as it really did make our Christmas seem even more magical.

This simple act of waiting until Christmas Eve to decorate the house contrasts so much with Christmas now where it seems that there is a race on to be the first person to get the decorations up and I know of people putting their decorations up in October and November.  Last year I decorated the house on 1st December as I wanted the house to be festive for my Crafternoon and this year I put the tree up last night but have a few other bits to sort out.  I’d love to be able to put the decorations up on Christmas Eve but have so many festive plans before hand that I want my guests to feel Christmassy when they pop around to mine.

When do you put your decorations up?  Do you have any memories of putting decorations up when you were small?  I’d love to learn about any of your decoration memories so let me know in the comments!