Sunday, 31 May 2015

Nice To See You....To See You....

Nice! Hello everyone, it's been a while. I haven't fallen off a cliff (though maybe a proverbial one!) but needed to take a little time to myself. It's been quite a challenging few weeks both professionally, personally and I got into a bit of a funk. I'm coming out the other side again and starting to find the want to write again which brings me here. I've missed you friends.

For now, lets have a bit of a catch up and you can all get jealous over my plate of rocky road fudge above...

  • Three Pieces of fudge devoured in double quick time.
  • Two train disasters- more to come on these soon!
  • One reason to where black. And one less brilliant smile in the world.
  • Catching up with four different friends over 48 hours. Equating to three hot chocolates and four cakes.
  • Endless snuggles with Batman.
  • Sixteen little seeds planted ready for summer (I think I've left some planting all a bit late though!)
  • Seven baby plants going into the garden.
  • Two unexpected (and unbudgeted!) sprees at M&S.
  • Thousands *cries* spent on a marquee for our wedding! Seriously guys, don't even talk to me about it...
  • Nine episodes binge-watched of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
  • Five working days until I'm on holiday for fourteen days! (It's my longest holiday of the year...I'm very excited!) 
  • Eighty six pages of my new book read.
  • Three early nights...and seven late ones.
It's been a bit quiet. It's been good for me. 
How have you been? I really would love to catch up!

Love Sophie Xx

Monday, 11 May 2015

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Thankful Thursday// April.

This is an actual selfie taken mid-sneeze. Isn't my sneeze face sexy? I thought you'd agree. We're in MAY! Which means that actual proper summer is on it's way! We had a beautiful April, alas as you can tell from the above pose, I had the most horrible cold during most of it! May has come to save the day (and my poor nose!) slowly my body is aching a little less, my knees grateful for some vitamin D and slightly warmer mornings makes my heart smile. 

In April I was thankful for...

  • The first BBQ of the year!
  • My flask of tea (it's ok to be thankful for this every month. Must keep the flask gods happy!)
  • Conquering the trains for a whole month. Thanks train gods!
  • My new friends in my new place of work! Thanks for making me feel welcome guys!
  • The continuing love from my old branch family.
  • Continuing wedding plans! We have a marquee booked you guys! Actual shelter for our guests! But on that note, can we just talk about how INSANE marquees cost? You're all lucky Harps wouldn't let me force you all to be outside all day and night!
  • New glasses! Ok so I wasn't thankful for losing my old glasses on my fancy trip to St Ives and almost DIED (almost) from the headache that followed for the week without any sight! Alas, sight has been restored and I am back to being fully alert like a badger!
  • BANK HOLIDAYS! A day dedicated to me as a bank worker (that's what they're for right?)
  • That little off button on my work phone. "Begone Voicemail!"
  • Batman has almost finished malting which means happy buns all day long.
  • Charity planning! Oooh finally I've started to have meetings with a couple of awesome charities that I can't wait to tell you all about!
  • All of my adult bridesmaids shoes have arrived! They look so pretty next to each other!
  • The overwhelming response from everyone following my mental health post. It was so uplifting to have such great people surround me. 
  • Banana shampoo. For obvious reasons.
  • Day dates and fun frolics with friends, reminding ourselves that getting older isn't so bad.
  • Quiet walks to work in the morning, before the cars are filling the streets and the babble of people start to awake. The perfect time to prepare for the day. 
As always, and even more-so this month, thank you Lisette, your thankful Thursday posts remind us of the fragility of life and the positivity in the shadows. You're super duper.

Love Sophie Xx

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Things I Thought Watching All Of The Fast & Furious Films.

A couple of weeks ago, Harps gave me the great unassuming pleasure of sitting me in front of the latest Fast & Furious film. I considered getting my book out and ignoring the whole thing but I'd read an article about how the film makers had worked around Paul Walker's passing and it seemed really interesting. With that in mind I sat, asking so many questions that Harps made me promise that I'd watch the others (I'd seen most of them at some stage, just not to remember.) I was full of cold that week and could think of nothing better than sitting in bed all day. For this I had the perfect excuse- "What are you up to this weekend Sophie?"..."Oh I'm being FORCED to sit in bed all day and watch F&F films." Good move right? So it was a win win, I got to flop around and Harps got to educate me...Well almost. I calculated that it would take us approx 12 hours to watch all of the films and we did actually have some things we needed to do on the Saturday, so we watched the first two films on the Friday night, 3-6 on Saturday and the 7th again on Sunday. Here's how it went.

  • Everyone has a really nice tan considering they spend all of their time in cars and garages.
  • Early 2000's fashion was amazing.
  • There is leather trousers of some kind in every film. F&F really loves leather trousers.
  • They're all pretty wasteful. There's a lot of careless bullets left around and cars only seem to last an average of 45 minutes.
  • On the same note, what about all the poor pedestrians and innocent public that get trampled on/murdered by these people running around?!
  • How did Paul Walker's hair get from being so curly to so straight from the first to the seventh movie?
  • Why are there so many female stomachs on show?
  • Why is there a female damsel in every film AND a strong female lead?
  • Are these films just too fast and furious for my poor eyesight? Slow down people!
  • Why is the third film make the others so much more confusing then they need to be?!
  • YES THE ROCK! Film 5 immediately shoots up when The Rock arrives and we all smell what he's cooking! Justice.
  • Oh maybe not, number 6 and they're all best buds.
  • Vin Diesel looks in pain when he smiles. He's like the Kanye of the film world.
  • How big is The Rock's head?!
  • How do I get a massive head like The Rock's? *starts neck stretches*
  • My neck hurts.
  • Awww look at happy Rock smile!
  • Does watching these films teach me about road safety? No it does not.
  • Maybe the bad guys should try their bad-guy business on submarine? Surely they all know after SEVEN FILMS not to be on land?
  • Oh God, film seven- PAUL WALKER NOOOOOO!
  • Vin looks extra sad in this film, I want to hold him.
  • Oh and Jason Statham, do you really think that you have a chance against The Rock or Vin Diesel? No. Just go and look grumpy somewhere else.
  • Have the makers of these films realised that non car enthusiasts are forced to watch these like I am and adapted them to make them less car-ey? 7 definitely seems less car based.
  • And let's just make it clear guys. YOU DO NOT SURVIVE THIS MANY CRASHES.
  • I'll stick to the good ol leg power thanks.
  • It's all kind of awkward to watch Paul laugh off fast driving. 
  • Ride or die is pretty aggressive as a life mantra.
  • Everyone looks really sad in this film. It's making me feel feels.
*Gets to end*

  • YOU WILL ALWAYS BE TOGETHER GUYS! *wails* (Ok I didn't cry BUT it was pretty sad and if I'd understood half of what was happening or remotely liked car films we may have had real tears.)
Love Sophie Xx

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

On The Up From The Bottom: Some Reads That Helped.

Last week I took a big ol step into the unknown when I shared with you all about my struggles with my own mental health. If you missed it, it was a little attempt at de-stigmatising conversation around depression and anxiety in the hope that it'd help a few others out there. Can I just take a second to thank all of you for your kind words, support and cheers at the idea. Yes, it was VERY hard for me to post, YES it has helped a few others and YES I am doing ok, but thanks for asking! 

It certainly wasn't posted from sitting down one morning and sharing some of the deepest parts of me, for months, maybe even closer to a year there had been that one untitled post sitting in my drafts, every now and then being restarted and scrapped. Feeling like you've revealed too little that others will think 'she's just depressed because she has daddy issues' was one of my biggest fears. There is much more 'meat on the bone' if you like but it was always a concern as to how my post would effect those still actively very much in my life. Which led me to my next concern 'revealing too much' and the repercussions that could have followed sharing the reasons behind my later years illness. Maybe it's something that will come with time, maybe the worry of how others will feel will keep deeper thoughts at bay. 

One of the strongest responses came from those that my post helped, sparked some light of interest into the ways I'd helped learn to cope and to manage. A few of you asked what books I'd found worked well for me, many of you asked me a little more about mindfulness. The ever quest for the anxious and depressed is to find a way to manage your thoughts that it shouldn't have surprised me really. All of the below listed books I've read at some stage during my illness; some haven't helped alone but with the knowledge of other reads have guided me to a stronger path. Please feel more than free to ask more about any of them, a couple I still use on a daily basis.

1) Mindfulness: Be mindful. Live in the moment- This book was the start of my self-awareness journey. Packed with practical and thought provoking advice, it taught me to start managing my thoughts, recognising patterns and influencing my own mind.

2) The Creative Colouring Book For Grown-ups - These books have become quite popular in recent months and I had this one a couple of years back for those calming moments. It's important to recognise when you need a little time to sit and not think- distracting the mind can sometimes be the hardest part of being human let alone depressed! 

3) Sane New World: Taming The Mind- This is written by Ruby Wax and it was actually my mum that gave it to me. Though I still think it's maybe a little too middle aged for me, combining this read with the ones I'd read before and those since has helped me laugh a little more, I find myself thinking of Ruby's quick witted quips and reflecting back on it, this book helped in it's own little way.

4) The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking. Better Decisions.- I came across this book almost eighteen months ago, in fact I think I shared it with you all when I did. You probably see it pop up in the odd blog post photo, forever by my side. Though my copy has now been half gnawed by Batman, I re-read the chapters from this book almost every day. Sitting on the train, I start my day with at least one (the excerpts are quite short making it perfect for refreshing!) little read to help balance my mind for the day. Filled with easy-read examples of practicing mindfulness, self-awareness and decision making help, this book continues to be one that I hold close to my heart.

5) Mindfulness Plain & Simple- Is definitely the most user friendly book I've found. To be honest, if you're not much of a reader it's probably the most concise and short term effective guide to practicing mindfulness. I read this after I'd read all of the above though and though found it helpful, it was maybe a little too simple when you're hunting for an explanation for your thoughts? If that makes any sense at all?

Mindfulness and self support is probably for me been much harder than therapy or medication because it's certainly not a short term fix, it's something that takes continuing patience and practice; two things that can be pretty hard to gain when fighting with yourself. For me, I needed something to focus on, a logical way of processing why I wasn't feeling 'like me' or how to stop what I know can be a spiralling mess of thoughts clouding you. If anyone would recommend any other reads please do let me know! 

Love Sophie Xx

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Location Location Location: St Ives & The Struggles of Turning 25.

*A little disclaimer right here- this is the most photo heavy post ever. You'll feel like you were there. You're welcome.*

I remember when Harps turned 25 and had a little bit of a quarter life crisis; suddenly he felt like he hadn't done ANYTHING (I mean ahem, he met me didn't he?!) and it made things all bit strange for a week or so. The imminent arrival of my bestests 25th birthday meant another chance to plan a lovely 'date day trip' for us both. For the last few years (I think it stemmed from us both being too poor for presents) we've gone on little adventures in and around Cornwall. Stacie had never experienced a proper trip to St Ives and though we visited about a year or so ago, it was in the middle of winter, the Tate was being renovated and most places were closed. This time we were really looking forward to a great trip and I'd planned a jam-packed day!

Full of cold and rain clouds gathering, we arrived by train at about 10:30, stomachs growling we set about having some breakfast *read cake and tea* before our day really started. I've totally forgotten the name of this quaint little tea room en route to the main town, either way it was perfectly homely, eclectic and with a window full of homemade cakes, the ideal place for us to start. We sat, people watching and philosophising over age and accomplishments and got a little freaked out together at getting older.

Next; I'd organised a little extra treat for Stacie as a birthday calm down/pamper. We're both pretty understanding of each other's strife when it comes to early morning work commutes and the exhaustion that creeps up on us towards the end of the week. After hours of researching on trip advisor and google (cheers inter web!) I'd booked a stop at St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa for Stacie to have a massage. This place is actually incredible guys, we were met by the friendliest staff who whisked Stacie away and left me to cope with my cold in the 'relaxation room' which is quite possibly the BEST place to be left to cope with a cold! Once I'd sufficiently scared the rest of the room away with my sniffling and sneezing (don't look at me like that, I basically did them a favour!) I was in a cocoon of happiness and promptly fell into a semi-sleep that when Stacie came back an hour later I think I was just as relaxed as she was! Everyone needs a relaxation room!

^^ I know you're gonna want to put this snotty, snazzy face right next to your pillow at night.

We pulled ourselves together for the next part of our day- a fancy high tea in the hotel's restaurant, overlooking the incredible seaside views. We nipped outside for smoking, interrupted a WEDDING in doing so and found ourselves in fits of giggles, using our posh voices *Yaaass darling*

You're getting even more jealous of my day now aren't you? Thought so. The tea was so fancy, somebody had cut our crusts off for us but the desserts were really where it was at. Pictured above you can spy the most delicious, crumbly cream tea scones, poached pears with meringues, lemon drool cake, chocolate truffles AND a chocolate mouse. Everything was sublime and made us wish we could crawl into that relaxation room again for a nice little snooze. 

Time to finally burn off what had essentially been sitting and eating for the majority of the morning. We had full intentions to head to both The TATE and Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden- alas we had taken too long scoffing and the weather was less than perfect (read raining) so we decided to wander and leave Babs until next time. Making our way across town to the Tate, we scouted like true British ladies, we didn't need directions, we had a slightly horror movie-esque sign to help us!

Ohh what's this, a craft fair- be rude not to! Quite possibly one of the nicest craft faire's I've been to, we were trapped by the best sales lady in the entire world and no less than 45 minutes later had left with a selection of goodies that we weren't entirely sure why we'd bought. Still during this time, she'd given us the faintest of directions to The Tate- it involved the beach...

Plaits flailing in the sea air we trudged along; by now resenting all children, teenagers and semi-adults like ourselves that don't have responsibilities. We were planning packing it all in and moving to St Ives with the brilliant old sales lady and spending all our days in craft rooms and artists studios (we could become residents surely?!) We'd live with plaits in our hair and frolic in the sunshine, our perfect scenic views inspiring us to create masterpieces and become world famous. 

We arrived! You're not allowed to take photos of the exhibitions so you'll have to settle with this one measly photo of the window by the entrance. (I did take some sneaky photos but when I asked Stacie to take just ONE she got caught and we were stalked by the security man for the rest of our time inside.) The exhibition currently on show is  'The Modern Lens: international photography and The Tate collection.' Touring Europe, this wonderful exhibition documents photography styles and inspirations thought the world, from the 1920's to 1960's. It was fascinating to gather a deeper understanding to influences from repression or revolutions and we gawped for hours until our eyes and legs hurt. One particular photographer I urge you all to admire from this exhibition was Claude Cahun who expressed the deep depression and conflict that surrounded being a woman in the 1930's. Her work was some of the most heart wrenching and spine tingling I've ever seen.

Inspired and exhausted we headed on home, reflecting on our day and the whole 25 black hole of doom. Deciding that maybe a quarter life crisis wasn't such a bad thing, maybe it's the time where you start to have a stronger understanding of yourself, what you want to start doing, how the world really is, how far you've come and equally if not more importantly, how far you still have to go.

*Stacie has totally got over her quarter life crisis now by the way, it lasted approx 4 days. She did much better than Harps.*

Love Sophie Xx