The enemy of apathy

friends_enemies

They say to keep your friends close but your enemies closer. That’s why apathy and I are almost inseparable. All that lies between us are empty yoghurt pots, dirty socks, and a layer of dust.

You don’t fight with apathy. It always seems to win. So why bother? It enjoys sitting with you on the sofa, doing nothing, avoiding everything. It’s favourite word is procrastinate.

Apathy doesn’t judge you. But it makes you judge yourself. To the point where you wonder, why do I let myself live like this? DO SOMETHING. But it doesn’t let you. It holds you down, holds you back.

You want to scream and shout at apathy for turning you into the person you have become. The person you don’t want to be. But it muzzles you and reminds you of your feeble purpose.

So, in the end, you comply. You grow used to its company and its consequence. Toleration becomes normality. But apathy never changes. It’s always there. Right by your side.

The worst of friends but the best of enemies.

A path untrodden

A path untrodden

Someone I haven’t known all that long, but whom I would class as a very good friend, has just done something crazy. Amazing. Terrifying. Admirable. Brave. She has left the place she knows, where her friends are, where she had a fabulous job, where she called home, to live in a city she’d never visited, in a country she’d never been to, where they speak a language she doesn’t know. She’s young and has her whole life ahead of her, and I absolutely love how she is walking her own path instead of waiting for one to appear in front of her. She was at a crossroads and instead of playing it safe or choosing the easy way, she is doing something incredible. I’m jealous. I’m sad, too.

It’s not often you meet someone you think you really relate to. Someone with lots of common interests. Someone you enjoy talking to and listening to. Someone you can be honest with. For me, Amber Bell is one of those people. Sassy and ambitious, I was so pleased to get to know her. We aren’t incredibly close, but we just click. I certainly think we do anyway.

I don’t have many friends. Those I have are friends because I make time for them and they make time for me. After moving to Cardiff permanently I really struggled to meet people who I would class as friends as opposed to acquaintances, perhaps. Luckily I met a few early on who are still good friends now. With friendship quality is much more important than quantity. But Amber is someone I met fairly recently (in the last year or so) and now she’s gone. And I’m gutted. Florence captured her heart and she went to find it there. I hope to visit next year. In the meantime I will have to make do with her wonderful blog as company.

What she’s doing though, makes me question what I’m doing. I’ve never gone travelling, for example, and I’ve never lived outside of the UK. Everyone I know who has says it’s the best thing they have ever done. So, am I missing out?

I’ve always played life quite safe. I did well at school, did a sensible degree, worked hard to get a sensible job. The only crazy or brave thing I’ve ever really done was to quit that job. And I was right to do so. I could have stayed there and been unhappy. But I hated being unhappy. I was the one to make the decision to turn off that path and find another one. I’m not sure where it will take me, but I’m much happier walking down it. There will be other paths, I’m sure, but I will be the one to find them. Make them. Opportunities don’t fall in our laps unless we are very lucky or were born with a silver spoon.

One day I hope I can travel. See more of the world. I’m envious of the freedom Amber has and the adventures she is going to experience. I hope that moving to Florence was the best decision she ever made. For me, there are things to keep me where I am right now. Those are important things that I hold dear. I’m in a good place and I remind myself of that every day. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be other paths which I lay down for myself further down the line.

When the time is right.

What December means to me

Hello December

It’s that time again. The chill I feel in my bones, the mist I make when I breathe, and the frost which sleeps on my car, all tells me that we have turned the twelfth corner of 2014. We have entered the final chapter of the year, and who knows what will be written on its pages. November arrived in a flurry of fallen leaves and promptly left again. Which leaves us only with December, and all its glory. I’m not one of those people who has my Christmas tree up by now, listens only to Christmas albums on repeat, and has the presents already wrapped and under said tree. Far from it. Having said that, I am incredibly partial to some festive cheer and I feel content knowing that Christmas is on its way. Why? For me, it’s all about family.

When I properly moved to Cardiff 4 years ago I knew I wouldn’t be able to see my family very often. It’s a sacrifice I made to pursue a career good enough to be able to live very comfortably. However, that career was short-lived. I was miserable. What is the point in living very comfortably when, most of the time, you just don’t feel happy? I digress. Having lived away from my family for so long, it’s times like December when I feel a bubbling excitement. Not just because I will soon be eating Christmas ham while sipping bucks fizz, devouring a big fat turkey, and stuffing myself with as many pigs in blankets as I can possibly stomach, but because I will be going home. They say it’s where the heart is.

This year, I will be spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day at Olly’s parents’ and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to feel when the time comes. It will be the first time I wake up on Christmas morning without my mum, dad and sister. I might even cry a little. The voice inside is saying ‘You’re 26 woman! Grow up!’ That may be true. But for me, the charm of Christmas is about being a child again. I want to hold on to everything I loved about that time of year when I was young. Sleeping in the same room as my sister on Christmas Eve and opening our stockings together in the early hours. A Christmas morning walk. Trying to de-stress my mum. Sorting the presents under the tree into piles for the family. Dressing the dogs in their bows and bells and laughing as they help us unwrap. Listening to the same tape (yes, tape) of Christmas tunes over and over while we eat lunch as a big family. Playing board games long into the evening. Curling into the sofa to read. Laughing. Laughing lots.

I don’t want things to change. I know they have to, but I don’t want them to. I don’t have either grandpas around any more, my uncle, aunt and cousins are gone, and one of our beloved border collies passed away earlier this year. I’m in a relationship and it’s only fair that we split Christmases between our equivalent families. My sister is also now in a relationship which means she will be doing the same. What I have to come to terms with, is that it isn’t Christmas itself which makes anything special. It is simply being surrounded by the people I love. It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is. Things will inevitably be different. The important thing is that I try and embrace those differences.

This year, December will be about remembering the ones I have lost, smiling at the memories, loving the ones I still have, making new memories, chatting to my parents late into the night, reading, writing, walking, eating, laughing. And wondering what 2015 might have in store.

What does December mean to you?

Why I love lists

Why I love lists full

I may have mentioned before that my mother has forever described me as someone who starts things but never finishes them. It pains me to admit this is often true, except when it comes to my dinner. I pretty much always finish that. Sometimes my lack of staying power is down to boredom, or losing patience. Sometimes I just can’t be arsed. Instead of ploughing through, I procrastinate BIG-TIME, and things just don’t get done. For example, I have a pile of things to put on ebay which have been sitting in my utility room for a number of months. All I need to do is take some photographs and upload them and hey presto. But that just sounds like too much effort. So in the utility room they will stay. Probably until I reach the bottom of my list. Which is actually one of many lists.

The main reason I love making lists is because they make me feel so flipping organised. The joy comes not only from writing a list, with equal line spacing and in exactly the same colour pen, but from ticking things off. Oh the rush. The only problem is, I never tick everything off. Unless it’s about six months later. But even then it’s unlikely. Occasionally I will keep adding to the same list so it looks as if I’ve been super-productive. And there have definitely been times when I have already completed a task, but add it to my list anyway just so I can tick it off.

My brain – the simple matter that it is – likes things in easy-to-absorb chunks. They are better to read and better to digest. If I have more than one important point to make in an email then I whip out the bullet points. I have a constantly-growing to do list at work. At the weekends I often list all the chores which need doing at home. Pinned to the notice board is a 2014 bucket list which is 100% not going to be complete by the end of December. I have already written this year’s Christmas list. Lists are quite simply excellent companions to everyday life.

Clearly there is something to this list-making business which makes me feel good. It’s a therapeutic activity which my mild OCD takes a fancy to (hence the line spacing and same coloured pen). Only I am allowed to add to the list. If anyone else scribbles on it I may as well start it again. And if the pen runs out part way through, we’ve got serious issues. A perfectly formed and perfectly neat list makes me feel fuzzy inside. Spoil it at your peril. I tried Wunderlist on the internet but, for me, it doesn’t produce the same satisfaction as a writing utensil and a piece of lined paper.

The conclusion of this thought-provoking piece? Nike have a cracking logo.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes

I’ve been away, and now I’m back. And now that I’m back, I need to address some things. The first is this vicious circle of tiredness that I’ve found myself in. As I’ve described before, I find it immensely difficult to tear myself out of my pit in the mornings and I wish it was easier to jump out of bed and feel full of energy from the moment my alarm goes off. Ok, so maybe that’s a little too optimistic, but I just can’t deal with the feeling of dread when ‘that time’ comes. Surely it shouldn’t be so hard? The colder days make peeling off the warm duvet and relinquishing my cocoon even more unbearable. But I’ve really started to ask myself why? Why do I feel just as tired in the mornings as I did when I went to bed? Why do I spend my afternoons yawning at my computer screen? Why do I feel constantly lethargic and use that as an excuse not to do things?

Yesterday I was having a little relax on the sofa after work while Olly was at football and I decided to have some bread. I cut a hunky chunk of three cheese loaf and ate it. It was so good I decided to have another chunk. Now, white bread isn’t healthy, and I’m pleased to say I very rarely have it, but yesterday I had enough to feed a small army of ducks. About half an hour after the devouring I felt awful. And it really got me thinking. How much of what I put into my body is affecting how tired I feel? Affecting how good I feel FULL STOP?

I was one of those kids that did every sport under the sun. When I got older I chose the sports to focus on and exercised a lot. This meant that even if my diet wasn’t fantastic, I would still feel fine because I was active. These days, exercise takes a back seat. I also eat the things I want to eat, rather than the things I should eat. I would prefer that this wasn’t the case, but recently I’ve had other priorities. I think it’s about time that those priorities changed a bit. So, here’s the plan.

1. Become a green machine. Vegetables are far from my best friend, but I feel we need to become better acquainted. This means doing some serious juicing and getting the steamer out more often. I also need to cut down on the sugar and, in line with number 2 below, up my protein.

2.  Get off my arse. Being tired means I don’t often feel like exercising, but if I don’t exercise then I’m not going to feel energetic or rejuvenated. Basically, I need to put in to get out. I’m not playing netball any more so I need to find a substitute. I’m starting something very new and exciting next week, but that’s not enough. I need to get back in the pool because I do actually love to swim (SO IT MAKES SENSE) and maybe even do some home workouts. YES Jane Fonda. Umm maybe not.

3. Early nights. The body clock needs to be in a good place for me to be in a good place.

I’m keeping it simple. I’m fed up of feeling like a lump and I know things can’t change overnight, but I do need to try harder to be good to myself. I’ll never be a preacher of ‘my body is a temple’ – depriving yourself of the things you like means depriving yourself of an element of joy – but now that I’m getting older *sob* I do need to be more careful about my health and my lifestyle. Me 8 years ago would be pretty ashamed of me today.

Guest post – Introducing Lifesmile Scribbler

Delighted to have been asked to guest post for the beautiful Buttercup Belle!

The first of this month’s guest posts is from Suzanne Hoare of Lifesmile Scribbler.  I’m lucky enough to count Suz as a good friend of mine.  Her bravery and infectious positivity continues to inspire me day after day.   It is with great pleasure I kick off October’s sponsored posts with a few words from her creative little brain.  Enjoy!


me smiling black frameHi there! My parents named me Suzanne at birth and I’ve been called that ever since, but most of the time I answer to Suz. It’s lovely to meet you in this virtual space where Amber, aka Buttercup Belle, has so kindly allowed me to scribble.

I’m pretty new to blogging. WordPress boggles my mind, it amazes me how people from all over the world find my site, and I haven’t got a clue what HTML stands for. But, I am relishing being part of an enormous online community…

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