Words on Wednesday – A Catch-Up!

Wednesday (3)

I feel like I haven’t done a catch-up post in ages, and thanks to not having internet for a while I haven’t…. but, I am back today to share with you what I have been up to for the past few weeks.

I gathered a few friends for another Crafternoon a few weekends ago and we had a really lovely time being taught cake decoration by my friend Jez.  We had a brilliant time and raised some funds for Mind, a mental health charity (you can read more about Mind here).  If you would like to donate, you can do so via this link to my JustGiving page.

There were 5 of us in total and we got to decorate cupcakes that had been baked by Jez with different coloured butter icing and piping bags with different nozzle attachments, we then got to add all manner of different embellishments to finish them off!  I was really pleased with how mine turned out even though I hadn’t really thought about design and just wanted to try all the things!  Lol!

I bought some sparkly gin that I enjoyed one evening, it was raspberry trifle flavoured but wasn’t sickly sweet and was lovely with tonic water!

I bought some flowers that were on clearance in my local Tesco, it was the anniversary of my Grandma’s passing so I wanted to take some flowers up to my Grandpa and her grave, I ended up buying a few bunches for myself too!  They had been marked up at £10 per bunch but on clearance, they were only £2.70 which I thought was crazy as the buds hadn’t fully opened or anything.  It took them nearly 2 full weeks to fully bloom.

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The weather has been really crazy here, lots of storms, high winds, rain, hail, sleet and snow.  Luckily none of the snow has stuck but lots of places have been affected by really bad flooding.  Roxy and I have spent a lot of time snuggled up and staying in, away from the bad weather.  I did treat myself to some icecream one evening and we sat and watched a few films together, Roxy is an excellent inspector of empty icecream containers!img_7221

Aside from that, I have been working on a few projects that I might reveal soon!  I have a few different plans and ideas that I want to work out and see what happens first though!

What have you all been up to?  I’d love to hear any news you may have or anything you have been up to in the comments!!!

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I don’t really follow the news but one headline and news story really caught my eye – the death of Caroline Flack and it made me feel so sad, for her, her family and her friends.  I don’t want to start speculating about what happened but it really got me thinking about how we all act and carry out our day to day lives.

It is so easy for us to formulate negative thoughts and opinions about others by what we read, see and hear, and it is even easier for us to voice these thoughts and opinions via social media, emails, text messages and in day to day conversations, and it is really easy for us to agree with others when we hear their points of view.  We forget that the subject of these opinions is a human being who has thoughts, views and opinions of their own, along with a life we know nothing about, a story of their own to tell, fears and dreams loves and hates…

This negativity towards another human being is strongly seen in the media against famous people but so many of us have had negativity aimed at us, whether it is physical or emotional, written or spoken, and yet we still continue with sharing our own thoughts and opinions about others.

We need to start being kind, not just to ourselves but to each other, when someone speaks derogatorily about another we need to be the one to challenge those views rather than just agreeing.  We need to stop sharing stories about others that may or may not be true and we need to stop and think before we say anything.  There are 2 sides to each story and unless we can see both sides and understand the full picture then we really can not judge someone else.

Today’s culture means that we see things daily, and often things are shared on social media repetitively, especially sensationalised news items, and we believe them to be true, but we need to step back from this and think about the person involved in the story and the impact these stories have on their lives. The less we share these kinds of items or buy papers or magazines that print negativity the less we are feeding the beast that is so harmful to us all.

It would be brilliant if there was no kind of hate or negativity in the world and the only way we can do that is to be kind to each other.

Rest In Peace Caroline.

Be Anything You Want But Always Be Kind

 

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

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!

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

I’ve been listening to the audiobook “How the Pill Changes Everything” By Sarah E Hillwhich is a book about how the contraceptive pill can affect you as a person, from how you think, fell and react to things around you.  It has made me think, in depth, about myself and in particular, my mental health.  One of the points raised in the book is how the pill can change how you deal with stress and anxiety, sometimes it can have a numbing effect on these things or in other cases it has made these things worse.

I have been on some form of contraceptive since I was around 18, not just to avoid pregnancy, but to regulate my periods, which were somewhat haphazard, all over the place and never regular.  Back then, I never really thought too much about the effects it could have on me aside from a mention of the possibility of putting on weight but the other, less talked about effects on mental health and general wellbeing were never bought up and I never even thought to ask about them as they were never common knowledge.

My first round of anti-depressants was prescribed to me at the age of 22 when I was put on Seroxat.  I was tearful a lot of the time and was experiencing anxiety attacks, hardly sleeping and felt like my mind was constantly on.  I took the Seroxat for around 3 months then came off of them because of the negative press around the medication.

After that I was around 27 when I was prescribed another anti-depressant though I can’t remember the name of it, and now, I have been taking Sertraline for the past year.

Since listening to the book I have realised that there is a link between these periods of anti-depressants and taking the pill.  I have no idea whether they are truly linked or if I have just created a link from listening to the book but it has made me think a lot about the contraceptive pill and how I have been feeling emotionally.

I think, the thing that worries me most is that I have been prescribed the contraceptive pill without too much fuss or much questioning from the doctor to ascertain whether the pill is the right form of contraception for me and that I have willingly taken the prescription, collected the medication and taken it without much thought about what it could be doing to my mental health.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so let me know in the comments!

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Is enough being done to support employees who have mental health problems?  This is one question that has arisen since attending the HPMA Awards Ceremony last week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how well people with mental health problems are supported in their employment.  When I was signed off by the doctor back in September last year with stress, anxiety and depression I had to phone my place of employment on a weekly basis to update my manager on how I was feeling and how my treatment plan was going.  I was already experiencing stress and anxiety and this seemed to cause me further distress as part of my illness meant that I was getting over-anxious and finding it difficult to talk to anyone.  Couple that with my Aspergers which makes it difficult for me to vocalise my thoughts and feelings and get nervous about phone conversations and I was in a really difficult space.  I understand that my employer needed to know how I was recovering but when I was seeing the doctor on a fortnightly basis and being signed off for a fortnight at a time I did feel that the level of contact expected of me was a bit much at times.

When I returned to work I was introduced back to the working environment on a phased return which was a really good thing to get me used to being back in a working routine in the office and to test the waters with how I was feeling.

Now though, I feel like I am on my own where it comes to my mental health.  Unlike a lot of illnesses and other medical problems (like a broken leg for example), I will not fully heal and suddenly be better.  I have days where I am feeling brilliant, weeks when I am good or ok and then there are times that I really do struggle.  I have days where I have to drag myself to work and fight to stay for the day rather than run home and sleep.

Those bad days are the worst.  People often think that because you have managed to get to work that you must be fine and expect you to continue with your work as you had been on your good days.

The alternative to going to work on a bad day is to phone up and take a day off as a sick day.  I have not done this as I have no idea how to explain to someone that my mental health is such that I really can not face work.  I am also aware that the sickness policy is such that 3 sets of absence act as a trigger for a sickness review where a meeting with my line manager would take place and my “illnesses” discussed.  Any additional absences trigger further warnings until eventually you are dismissed from your job.  The policy for sickness may differ from place to place but for my last 4 jobs the same policy has been in place.

The big question is, should mental health be treated as a sickness under the sickness policy?  I’m not sure that it should be as it is something that has varying degrees of being ok or not.  I think that there should be an understanding between employer and employee with regards to mental health, and taking a day off because of mental health should be allowed, not be taken as a sick day, annual leave or as unpaid leave.  I think that employees who are either on medication or under their doctor or mental health worker should have some kind of special leave granted for when things become too overwhelming.

I can see that special leave for mental health could be abused by an employee but I feel that if it was monitored correctly then people would not need to take days off here and there.

More could be done by the employer too, whether it is having regular “check-ins” with their employee just to see if all is ok when the employee is in work, or just noticing if the employee has changed, for example – becoming more withdrawn when they used to be chatty, getting less work done than before, if they appear to be getting more stressed out…

What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to have conversations with you in the comments about this.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Do you ever feel like there is not enough day to your day?  This past few weeks, even with planning my time I have been feeling like I don’t have enough time to do everything and that I need more time at the end of each day to get everything done.

I feel that I am seriously in the catch-up zone…I need to catch up on blog posts (I have loads that I have planned to write but not yet gotten around to), responding to comments and e-mails, housework, reading, laundry and a load of other little things.

I know it is nothing major that I need to catch up on, and most of it can wait until another day, but I really hate being behind with things, especially when I try to plan things out so well.

I don’t think it has helped that my shoulder is still painful, or that I feel pretty tired when I get home from work either.

I have managed to finish my logo design for the work competition and I even put together a PowerPoint presentation so I could explain how I came to my final idea.  I am also halfway through getting Willow’s journal ready to send her (she won my giveaway!).  I have also been keeping up with Blogtober and also Inktober too so all is not lost!

Do you ever feel like you are playing catch-up?  How do you manage it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

It’s my Birthday today and I’m celebrating by having the day off from work!  Seriously, booking my Birthday off as annual leave has been a long-standing tradition which started when I was in primary school.

My birthday falls just before school half term and my Mum would never let me have my Birthday off from school unlike my friends Mum who aaaaalllllwwaaaayyyysss let her have her Birthday off if it fell on a school day.  I vowed then, when I was 6 years old, in the middle of the playground, on a damp October morning, when I had been made to leave my new Birthday toys at home and attend school, that when I was an “adult” and working I would never, ever, never work on my birthday ever.

As soon as the annual leave renews itself (in my current job it is every April that we get our new holiday allowance for the year) I book my Birthday off.  And every job I have had, it has always been questioned as my employers always think that booking off a day in October when it is the first week of April is a bit weird, but it is one promise that I made to myself that I vow to keep and so far I’m doing pretty good!

So, my plans for today?  Well, even though this will be published at 8am (UK time) I will probably still be sleeping (this schedule thing is totally amazing!) and plan on having a lie-in with Roxy until late morning.  I then plan on getting up and making myself a lovely fresh, proper coffee, toast and marmalade and sitting to enjoy it before opening my presents from my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew.  I will then get dressed and head to my local pet shop.  I got given a fish tank from a friend as part of my birthday presents, and I have a voucher to use so I intend to get some bits and pieces for it – gravel, lights, ornaments, bubble thing and get it all set up and running so I can add fish to it in a few weeks time.

In the afternoon my Mum and Dad are coming over so I shall spend some time with them, have a cuppa and maybe something to eat.  In the evening I plan on snuggling up on the sofa in my fleecy, fluffy jimjams and socks, with Roxy and a blanket and watching The Apprentice.

I may treat myself to a bit of a pamper and a bubble bath and read a bit of my book before getting to bed at a reasonable time!

Do you have any Birthday traditions?  I’d love to hear if you do, or don’t and why or how they came about so let me know in the comments!

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Google informed me that it is Mental Health Week in America this week which coincides with my Words On Wednesday post where I wanted to talk about my mental health as I feel like I haven’t done an update in ages.

I’m still taking my Sertraline which the Dr prescribed to me over a year ago now.  My current dosage is 150mgs though I am currently wondering whether I should go back to the Dr for a review as I’m not sure that the dosage I am taking is enough or if the Sertraline is still the best medication for me.

I’ve been having sleep issues, again, recently, from hardly sleeping one day to sleeping nearly the full day away the next and I’m feeling constantly tired.  I’ve been putting this down to my shoulder pain but I’m starting to worry that it could be a dip in my mental health.

I do get more tired as the season’s change, the dull days and damp weather affect my mood quite a bit normally, so perhaps this is not something to worry about too much but maybe a visit to the dr would be a good idea.

I’m pretty lucky that I have close friends and family who I can talk to about how I’m feeling and that they check up on me regularly but I do urge you to pay attention to friends and family and to chat with them about how they are really feeling, especially as the weather changes.  So many people are affected by SAD and having a friend to speak with can help tremendously.

Words on Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that at the beginning of 2019 I left Facebook however I have now returned (as I revealed in My Blog is 1!!!!).  I have made the choice to return to Facebook after a lot of thought and deliberation, weighing up the pros and cons of what Facebook can do for me that other platforms can’t.

My reasons for returning…

  • I wanted to make a Facebook group for fellow bloggers to share their posts in, be able to network and interact with others and ask for advice or share ideas and opinions, the group is called Bloggers Brew, please come and join us!
  • Advertise Colourful Cactus Designs to the right audience.  As I am mainly doing graphic and logo work for bloggers, their social media and websites it made sense to advertise on social media.  I didn’t feel that Instagram, with its ever-changing algorithms, was the best fit for Colourful Cactus Designs (though I do share my design work there, you can check out the Instagram feed here) and Twitter seems to be a better fit for having conversations rather than any kind of advertising.
  • There are a few groups that I wanted to join that are most active on Facebook which offers help, advice and support on things I am interested in which are beneficial to me.
  • I want to see if having a Facebook page for my blog will increase my reach, this is more out of interest than anything else at the moment, however, the outcome may influence a few ideas I have for future blog items.

I am not really interested in adding many people to my Facebook, from previous experience I didn’t really gain anything from it.  This time, my return is purely to use it as a tool to further ideas that I have and for helping fellow bloggers.

Have you ever left a social media platform and then returned?  What were your reasons?  I’d be really interested in your thoughts and experiences so let me know in the comments!