Monday, 29 February 2016

Bittersweet Days...

This weekend I went to Oxford to meet up with some old uni friends. We went for afternoon tea at Malmaison and basically had a massive chinwag – I haven't seen any of them since Jess' wedding in September. And. It. Was. Amazing.

The afternoon tea at Malmaison - amazing!

I haven't been to Oxford for about two years, since the Engineer took me there on a weekend away when he proposed to me. It was so nice to go back to my old university town and wander around the streets again. It brought back so many memories – while I was sitting on the bus into town, I had a huge smile plastered across my face as we passed places I used to visit; the Waitrose where I'd go on a Saturday morning for my lunch and a paper, restaurants I went to with the Engineer on our date nights, the old house where I used to live with six musicians (that was a fun year...). I got into town slightly early so I went for a wander around the shops and it just felt wonderful to walk the streets that I'd been up and down a hundred times before.

But Oxford hasn't always held the best memories for me. The first year of uni was the best year of life (so far) – having that freedom and independence of living on my own for the first time, meeting the Engineer, making new was great. But then, at the very start of second year, I was hit with severe anxiety and panic attacks for the first time. It was awful and it cast a shadow over the rest of my time at uni – I no longer wanted to go out and socialise, I was too terrified to even get the bus into town; all I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry. I just wanted to be alone. My whole world turned upside down – suddenly, I didn't know who I was or even what was happening to me. This was at the time when mental health wasn't as widely spoken about so I didn't know that, actually, what I was experiencing was normal. I genuinely thought I was going mad.

After that, I hated Oxford. I couldn't wait to leave. I had so many bad memories that took the place of the good – the Chinese restaurant that I went to with the Engineer where I experienced my first panic attack, the places I forced myself to go on nights out with a few close friends when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry, the house where I would lock myself in my bedroom and refuse point blank to socialise because I just couldn't face anyone – I felt like my life was falling apart and I didn't have the faintest idea how to put it back together. And in a way, I guess I thought that if I fled Oxford and lived somewhere else, that I would somehow leave all the bad stuff behind with it. But I didn't - I had to learn to accept that my anxiety and my depression would follow me wherever I went - it's a part of me, not my surroundings. And over the past few years, I've begun to realise that my anxiety does not define me, or make me a terrible person; it is part of who I am and I have to accept that if I ever want to move on with my life, my anxiety will probably always be there in some form too. It's not Oxford's fault I became a nervous wreck; it was just the place I happened to be in at the time.

The good thing is though, that despite all this, I can now return to Oxford with a smile on my face instead of fighting the urge to run away and hide. Yes, I can acknowledge that all those bad things happened, but I now realise that the good times (and there were hundreds of those) more than make up for the bad. Now, I can't wait to visit Oxford again, whether it's with the Engineer for our anniversary, or simply making time for old friends (which are the best kind). 

This weekend wasn't just about meeting my friends - it was also about me meeting my demons face to face, and walk away smiling.

Love these ladies xx

Have you ever had to deal with anxiety or depression? Have you ever subconsciously linked it to a place, like me? How was your weekend?

Monday, 22 February 2016

Viking Fever...

It's the first Monday back at work after a week off and I spent most of today feeling like this internally:


I had a great time at home last week - I feel like I didn't end up having much of a holiday because I ended up doing something every day/night, which is a first for me! I'm actually kinda glad to be back, because it means I can slow down and catch up on my sleep! But I managed to catch up with old friends, book a lot of wedding stuff and hang out with my sister and parents, so I'm not complaining. I have a bundle of news from last week, but I'm going to have to condense it down or else this blog post will go on forever: basically, I ended up going for an unexpected job interview on Wednesday and my fiancé has a job interview at the same company today - so fingers crossed for him! I also received some not so good news, but I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

As well as reassuring you all that I'm alive, I also just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who visited during Sarah Foster's (Anti) Valentine Muse Party Blogfest - I had so much fun writing my post and visiting all the other blogs that were taking part.

I'm so relieved that everyone seemed to like Jari. Truth be told, I was so so nervous about writing about him, because I was convinced no one would like him. He means such a lot to me as a character - I owe him so much because he's the character that's got me super enthusiastic about writing again - and I just couldn't bear it if people hated him. But I'm so glad I took a chance and introduced him to you all. I had so much fun with him - honestly, in the book that I'm writing he can be awful, but it was nice to show off his more playful side during the party.

I hope you did all enjoy reading about him - fingers crossed that means that if I ever publish his book you'll like that too ;)! I could honestly gush about him and his world all day, but I guess it would probably be more beneficial to us all if I just got the damn book written instead ;).

Jari when I told him to go back to his own world after the party

Except procrastination....#writersblock

Hope you're all having a good Monday!

What have you been up to lately? Did you have a half term? What's been going on in your writing? Do you like Vikings?

Monday, 15 February 2016

The (Anti) Valentine's Day Muse Party Blogfest!

Hey guys! So it's an exciting day today - it's finally time for the (anti) Valentine's Day Muse Party Blogfest! This awesome party was set up by the lovely Sarah Foster - you can check out all the party info on her blog here.

So what are we waiting for? Let's grab our muses and rock this party!

1. Who did you bring to the party? Is he/she your Valentine or anti-Valentine?

Me: Hey everyone! Cool party! Well, I've brought my main character from my new WIP - he's my current muse. He's called Jari and...he's a Viking. He can be a bit...temperamental. Please, no one piss him off - he's the kind of Viking that makes Ragnar Lothbrok look tame. Can you say hi please Jari?

Jari: *simply stares*

Me: He's not really in a talkative mood right now

2. Which one of you is the more romantic person?

Me: Probably me. Although Jari only has eyes for one woman - and he's completely and utterly in love with her, which is so sweet. Just don't tell his enemies, though. I shudder to think what he'd do if anyone got heir hands on Astrid.

Jari: *perks up* Did you say Astrid?

Me: Yes, Jari. You can get back to her soon. Can you not just smile and try to enjoy the party?

3. What gift are you giving to your (anti) Valentine?

Me: I feel like I don't really need to get Jari anything - he only exists because of me, after all! But I guess I could throw him a new axe or something. Jari, did you get me anything?

Jari: I can fetch you the blood of your enemies? Or their heads on a spike?

Me: No, no! That's really okay, Jari, er...thanks anyway...

4. Are you guys wearing red or pink (or black...)? 

Me: I'm wearing a black dress and heels - any excuse to dress up! Jari - no, stop that, he wasn't challenging you to a fight, he was just asking a question - can you tell everyone what you're wearing please?

Jari: Would you like me to show everyone my shield? It's black and silver?

Me: *sighs* I swear, this is the last time I bring a Viking to a party. 

5. Did you bring any Valentine's Day treats? 

Me: I brought some Valentine's Day cupcakes with strawberry icing.

Jari: I brought a goat that has been sacrificed to the old Gods. I left it outside - shall I bring it in so we can roast it? Where's your fire pit? 


Jari: But...I hunted this goat myself - is this displeasing to you? Shall I fetch an elk instead?

Me: No, I don't want a bloody elk...just...just sit there and look pretty will you?

6. Name a song for our Love Playlist or Anti-Love Playlist (or both)! 

Me: Anything by Taylor Swift for me! She's my guilty pleasure

Jari: What is a 'playlist'?

7. Got a great anti/Valentine party game? 

Jari: A game? We have this game that my brothers and I play called 'Raging Fire' - you each have a shot of brännvin, then you take your sword that has been lying in the coals of a fire and you -

Me: No, nobody wants to play that game, Jari. We don't have swords in this age. I don't tend to play party games - but I like playing card games. Do they count?

8. Feeling the love or just feeling nauseous? How will you have fun at the party?

Me: I'm still feeling the love, despite the fact that my actual valentine chose to spend the day with his friends rather than me! I have a feeling I'm going to be spending a lot of time at this time trying to stop Jari from picking bar fights...he's a good guy really, just a little rough around the edges...

Jari: You know I can speak your language, right? Hang on, you haven't told everyone about my party trick!

Me: Please no -

Jari: Did you know that I can control fire? It was a gift from the old Gods - this is the reason why Rachel began telling my story in the first place. Can I show everyone? Can I set something on fire?

Me: NO!

9. Has your muse been a good Valentine? 

Me: Erm...well...I'm very conscious of Jari's powers and what he might do if I say no...he doesn't like people who disobey him, you see. At the minute, he's involved in a very intense struggle for his kingdom's throne, and it's not pretty what he does to the people who stand in his way.

Jari: In all fairness, you are the one who made me this way.

Me: That's true. You know, despite his manner, I've actually kind of enjoyed having Jari as my anti-valentine. He does make me smile and he's the one who brought back my love of writing, so I guess I should be saying thank you. Thanks, Jari.

Jari: You are most welcome. May I get you a drink?

Me: See, he can be a perfect gentleman when he wants to be. Thank you, Jari, I'd love a drink.

Jari: *walks off to the bar*

Me: Sorry for the dead goat by the way, I'll make him take it back with him to his own world. And - NO JARI, STOP, PUT DOWN YOUR SWORD AND PUT OUT THAT FIRE - Sorry, I've got to go before he causes some serious damage in this world!

Jordan's Bonus Question: Did you bring me & Sarah a musiversary gift? (Because we've put up with each other for five years and I think we deserve something.)

Me: You can have Jari's goat if you like? No, in all seriousness, I just got you guys a nice bottle of wine and some chocolates - sorry it's not more imaginative!

Thanks for the hosting the awesome party, Sarah! I had a blast, and hope you all did too!

Did you attend the (Anti) Valentine's Day Muse Party Blogfest? Who did you bring? Hope you're all having fun!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

First Vlog! And a huge thank you to the IWSG!

Insecure Writer's Support Group:

A to Z Blogging Challenge:

Hope you enjoyed the video! Let me know what you thought in the comments below :)

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

February IWSG: New things are always the scariest...

Hello my lovelies! Welcome back to the Insecure Writer's Support Group - a monthly blog hop where writers across the internet get together to share their insecurities and encourage each other to keep going. The IWSG was set up by the fantastic Alex. J. Cavanaugh, and you can check out the official website/sign-up list here! I'm super excited to be co-hosting this month - every month I tell myself I'll visit more blogs, but I never seem to get round to it - but this month, I'm SO EXCITED to be visiting all you awesome people!

So, if I'm completely honest, my insecurities this month don't stem from my writing - BUT, if you're thinking of starting a new writing project, or even if you're just thinking about starting to write altogether, I think you'll know what I'm talking about. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that the only writing I've been doing lately is when I've been working on my fantasy novel project - this is something that I'm writing just for me, with no intention of being published (yet). So there's no pressure to write, or to get it perfect first time, which is great.

However, over the past couple of weeks, I've been wondering about setting something else up - something that's (shock, horror), nothing to do with writing. It's actually to do with YouTube. Whenever I think about this particular project, I get super excited but equally...I'm terrified.

What if I'm a big failure? What if everyone hates what I do? What if I give up? What if I can't do it? What if the YouTube craze is 'over' and no one will care anymore? What if, what if, what if?

Are you noticing a pattern here?

But whenever these doubts creep in, I have to stop and reason with myself. How will I ever know if I'll be a success or a failure, if I don't even try? I've already failed.

So people might not watch my videos. So what? So I might get negative comments. So what? I'm a writer, I'm used to less-than-perfect reviews and I know how to handle them (i.e. don't take any notice of them).

Yes, it's super scary to put yourself out there - but you won't know what you're capable of until you at least try. And if you do fail? Does it really matter? All that means is that you're one step closer to finding the right method of writing, or career, or whatever it is you're searching for, for you.

I am so scared right now in case I fail. But equally, I will never know what could've been if I don't at least try.

I'm going to leave you with this quote that completely sums up how I've been feeling this week - it was completely incidental that I found it before writing this post, but I can't think of a more perfect quote to leave you all with:

What have you done lately that's scared you? How did you get over your fears? How's your writing going this month? What do you think of the new IWSG badge??

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

No Carpet Tuesday...

Last night I was super excited. Despite finally coming down with the illness that's been threatening everyone at work (seriously, I've never known so many staff and pupils to be sick before), I managed to keep sane long enough to clear the landing and the bedroom of furniture (with some help from the Engineer obviously).

Why? Because today, our new carpets were due to be fitted! Hooray! Goodbye old, sickly beige from the 1970s and hello fluffy, soft grey carpet! I was so so excited for this moment - the giant roll of carpet has been lying in front of our sofa since about November, which means it's a bit of an obstacle course if you ever want to sit down. But after spending last night on just a mattress (yup, the bed had to go too), I woke up this morning super excited to get to work, so I could come back from work and just lie on the carpet for hours on end. I was so excited, I even took a photo of the old carpets/landing so you could see the difference:

And here's the carpet when I got back from work tonight!

Yup, that's right - it's exactly the effing same.

Here's the story:

The Engineer worked from home today, as the carpet fitter asked for someone to be there when he arrived. Not too much of a problem - the Engineer can do stuff like that, whereas I'm not allowed time off work, due to the school holidays. That's all fine - so the carpet fitter arrives, takes a look...then decides he doesn't like our underlay ('it's too fluffy'), or our carpet ('it's a shitty carpet')...complains that he'll have to glue the underlay down instead of using grips....then leaves. Doesn't say he'll pop out and get this so-called glue then come back He just leaves. Which means the Engineer essentially wasted a day at home (although, when I asked him, he said he actually got more work done at home than he does in the office...but it's the principle of the thing, right ;)?) and I got all excited for nothing.

Seriously, when the Engineer texted me to tell me the news, I nearly cried. I was so looking forward to SOMETHING being finished in our house, instead of it just looking like building site, that I was crushed when I found it wasn't happening. Plus, I'm over-tired and work was particularly trying today, so all in all, not a great combination. I was so mad when I found out.

On the plus side, it was my soon to be mother-in-law who arranged for him to come (as a Christmas present for me and the Engineer), so when we told her, she said she'd give him a piece of her mind and tell him not to bother coming back. Hooray!

So, essentially, I still don't know when or if the carpets are going to get fitted. I feel calmer now that I'm home and I've had a cup of tea. I know it'll get done at some point, so there's no point stressing out - plus, I weirdly liked sleeping on the mattress last night - it felt like a sleepover. Although I'm sure that novelty will soon wear off!

Hope you're all having a great day - so excited to see you all again tomorrow when I'm helping to co-host this month's IWSG! Yay!

Have you got any 'terrible tradesmen' stories? How do you cope with building work? What have you been up to this week?