Sunday Funday – Looking Back

Looking back

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!

Blogmas – Wishing Wednesday

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Today is the 4th day of Advent and also the fourth day of Blogmas!  Today is “Wishing Wednesday” where I share some thoughts and ideas about gifts.  Today’s Wishing Wednesday is all about that pesky, awkward gift – The Secret Santa gift.

Secret Santa happens a lot in workplaces across the land and is basically a concept where each person participating buys a gift of a certain value, wraps it and then on “Secret Santa Day” (which should, in my opinion, be an official day!) the presents are all gathered together and then distributed randomly to each participant.  There are other variations of Secret Santa where you can draw a name out of a hat, or all gifts are numbered and a raffle type draw takes place.

Buying a gift for Secret Santa can come with a lot of pressure, for one there is usually a fixed amount (in most places I have worked it is usually between £5 and £10) but other things, such as not knowing who you are buying for, buying a gender-neutral gift, getting something that isn’t offensive or that could upset someone and choosing a gift that is value for money can all make getting the perfect gift a daunting task, especially as your manager might be the recipient!

Here are a few suggestions

  • Stationery is always welcomed, especially a nice pen and diary.
  • Hats and gloves
  • Car accessories – I once got gifted a heated ice scraper which was so useful
  • Giftcards
  • Wine or other drinks
  • Household items such as candles, ornaments or picture frames
  • Desk toys
  • Games
  • Family-friendly DVD
  • Cinema pass
  • Cooking related items (I’ve seen some really nice spices sets, tea and coffee caddies, hot chocolate and mug sets…)

Do you take part in Secret Santa’s?  what sort of things have you given or received?  I’d love to know about your best and worst Secret Santa gifts so let me know in the comments!

Blogmas – Merry Monday

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This is the first “real” post for my Blogmas series!  Merry Monday posts will be focusing on preparations for the big day itself so expect to see lots of useful lists and hints here each Monday!

Today’s first Merry Monday post kicks off with a list of things to gather before preparations can get underway!

  • Christmas cards
  • Pens
  • Mailing stamps
  • Gift wrap
  • Sellotape
  • Scissors
  • Gifts
  • Any supplies needed if making any gifts or cards
  • Packaging

In this first week of December I tend to sit down and write out lists for the following

  • Friends and family to send cards to along with addresses if needed
  • Present recipients and gifts already bought
  • Meal attendees (if cooking on the day or in the days prior or post Christmas)
  • Decorations needed
  • Other Christmas supplies needed (such as gift wrap)

By the end of the first week I aim to have all my supplies gathered and lists made ready to make a start on things in week 2!

What do you like to try and get done in the first week of December?  I’d love to hear about your preparations in the comments!

Supporting Friends Througn Mental Illness

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With 1 in 4 people in the UK being diagnosed with a mental illness it is very likely that a friend or family member could be one of these people.  It can be hard to know how to help when you hear of someone getting diagnosed with depression which affects around 300 million people, or anxiety, two of the biggest mental illnesses in the Uk, or any other mental health illness, a lot of what is written on the internet is about how the person affected can help themselves, the types of medical help that are available or guidance notes for employers to follow.

I have been through a diagnosis of mental illness and had 6 months away from work with anxiety and depression coupled with stress, and I am still recovering so the following post is about how you can support friends through mental illness based on the things that helped me.

  • Let them know you are there for them. Just hearing the words “I’m always here for you” and knowing that it is meant was a big support for me.
  • Don’t ask “How are you?” as many people will answer with a generic “I’m fine.” Instead, ask how they are feeling. I have a friend who always sends me a text to ask how I am feeling and it has always given me the opportunity to really talk about my feelings, sometimes being able to share those things is easier with a direct question.
  • Ask what you can do to help. Sometimes the answer may be nothing but other times it could be to run some errands or even just sit and chat.
  • Ask what they would like to do, and have some suggestions for things if they say they don’t want to do anything. My friend would ask me this and I would say nothing a lot of the time as I didn’t want to waste their time, but they would always suggest things like watching a film, cooking some food or playing games on the computer which made me feel good that they wanted to spend time with me.
  • Always remember them in group plans. My friend was brilliant at this, even when I’m sure they knew I would say no.  There really is no worse feeling than friends making plans and not being included.
  • There were times that I didn’t want to talk and there were times when I really needed to let everything out and having someone to just sit and listen was so valuable.
  • Don’t judge. There were times, at the beginning of my mental health illness where I hadn’t done any housework for weeks, I was still in the same pyjamas 3 days down the line, my hair wasn’t brushed or even washed and I felt embarrassed but my friends never judged me or made me feel bad about it.  If you can, do a small task for them, like washing the dishes, sometimes that little gesture helps more than you can imagine.  On one of my bad days where I hadn’t taken a shower for a week or even gotten dressed properly one of my friends came round and sat with me while I took a shower, they picked out some clothes for me to wear then blow-dried my hair for me because everything had felt too huge and overwhelming for me to do myself and those little things made such a difference to my week.

I hope that this guide is useful if you can think of any other ways to help support a friend through mental health illness then let me know in the comments.

Supporting Mind with a Crafternoon

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Mind is a UK based charity that helps people who are experiencing mental health issues and offer support to their families and friends.  When I was signed off from work in September 2018 with stress, anxiety and depression I found the resources and guides on-line on the Mind website helped me through the difficult time.  Among the resources offered are a blog, information about where to find support and help, questions and answers along with contact information where you can speak with one of the Mind workers if you need advice, support or someone to chat with.

Mental health support is crucial at any time of the year but especially coming up to Christmas where worries and anxiety run high and many people need some extra support.

I held a Crafternoon event last year and raised £100 for Mind and this year I am aiming to raise as much as I can so that Mind can continue to work towards a future where mental health is better understood, supported and less stigmatised.  My Crafternoon event will be taking place on 30th November where I plan on getting friends together and creating some lovely Christmas decorations, holding a cake sale and raising awareness of what the Mind charity does.  I have set up a Just Giving page and am asking for any donation, no matter how small so that I can reach my fundraising target of £250 which you can access by clicking here or there is a donate button in the side menu which will take you to my page.  Any donation made will go straight to Mind and would be gratefully received.

Will you be supporting Mind this December?  If you are, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

My Perfect Job

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Since taking part in Blogtober and coming to the conclusion that I need to find ways to bring more elements of things that make me feel enthusiastic into my life I have been thinking about work and my job.  I spend a great deal of my day in a job that I have come to realise drains me of energy and feel that a change of job could be one way to inject some much-needed enthusiasm into my life.

I am in a really lucky position, where I am already employed and can take time to really explore this idea before I even start to actively look and apply for anything.  Today I thought I would take some time to think about what my perfect job would be.

I would really like a job that would allow me to do some of the things I really enjoy like art or photography or painting and decorating.  I think I need something that can tap into my creative side and encourage and connect with those skills.

I’d love some kind of job that would make use of my writing skills, maybe something that involved researching and writing articles.  Blogging would be a brilliant job as I could utilise skills that I have learned while letting me learn even more along the way.

I have so many qualifications in art-based subjects and would really like to be able to put those skills to work in a job and not just at home as part of my hobbies.  I’d love to be able to use all of the things I learned in my Degree and Foundation Degree, as well as the self-taught skills that I have mastered.

I would love to be able to create and keep an eye on statistics and be able to report on where things are headed and what I can do to improve on them.

I’d like to have a job where I am appreciated, feel like part of a team and to be included in team chats and outings.

I’d like to work in an office that understands and has respect for each member of the team, where the individual matters as much as the rest of the team.

I’d like to be heard and have my concerns listened to and to be taken seriously.

I don’t have a job role that I am aiming for anymore, most of the “job roles” I have searched for in the past, even working as a member of bar staff, all have so many different requirements, that, now, I am looking at job requirements first rather than job title.

What would your perfect job be?  What would you look for in the perfect job?  I’d love to know your answers so let me know in the comments!

Blogtober Results and Reflections

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Since the end of Blogtober, which saw me answering the same 3 questions each day ( What made me feel enthusiastic?  What drained me of energy?  What did I learn about myself?), I have been analysing my answers and thinking about how I can make changes to my day to day life to change the energy drains and to bring in more things that make me feel more enthusiastic.

What made me feel enthusiastic?  Mostly the things that made me feel enthusiastic or filled me with enthusiasm were crafts that I enjoy, creating logos, drawing and decorating.  Other things that got my enthusiasm flowing were taking time to listen to audiobooks, read, spending time with family and friends, housework, making plans and getting tasks ticked off from my to-do list.

What drained me of energy?  Work drained me of energy quite a bit which came as no real surprise.  The weather getting colder, rain, the mornings and evenings getting darker, headaches, tiredness, being interrupted when I am in the middle of something and not being as productive as I had planned were also big energy drains.

What changes will I be implementing?  I have been thinking about changes I can make in order to feel more enthusiastic about everyday life and have decided that I need to make changes regarding my job and how I plan my time.  I am not sure whether I need a total change of job, looking at a career in something that is creative and gives me an outlet for all my skills or if I need a change of work pattern so I can utilise my spare time to spend larger parts of my day focusing on my own creative projects.  I would like to better plan my day so that each draining activity is broken up with an activity that makes me enthusiastic so that I am less focused on the negatives of certain things and more focused on completing them so I can then do something I enjoy.  One of the lessons that I learned during this time was that I am able to be less drained of energy when I have fun things to look forward to and that the enthusiasm I have for some things can be carried through to less enjoyable ones.

In all, this was a really useful and interesting challenge that I set myself for Blogtober and I think it is one that I shall be doing again in the future.

Did you learn anything during October?  Has it made you re-think how you do things?  I’d be really interested to hear any of your thoughts so let me know in the comments!