Book Reviews, Education, Personal, travel

2017 reflections

Initial plans

Before 2017 started I was determined that this year my main goals were:
1. to beat depression (my new year’s resolution that failed in 2015)
2. to hold down a proper job and pay my bills, and
3. to re-ignite my love for reading

What I have accomplished this year is more than I, and more than my family, could have possibly imagined. The first thing that changed was I decided to stop going out every day to ward off my depression with coffee and talking to random people in coffee shops. What this first step did for me was gave me time to relax at home, in my own space, and focus on myself. What happened was, I stopped wearing make up, took time to write and, wait for it, READ. I told myself to read for 10 minutes every day, that’s all, but within days I had gone out and bought new books. I was reading two a day, sometimes three! It was like magic that my passion for reading flooded back.

Once I’d realized it was back, I looked for a reading challenge and decided to go with PopSugar’s version! I’ve enjoyed it immensely and recommend any book-lover to do it too! Total books read in 2017: 44!

This is honestly one of the best parts of 2017. I had forgotten how much reading influenced me. How moving words can be and what an effect they can have on us.

I’ll briefly share a few of my favourites with you.

A man named Ove, by Fredrik Backman – This had me laughing, crying and feeling so many mixed emotions as I saw parts of my grumpy self in Ove, but also parts of my Grandpa in that the love between husband and wife is unbreakable even after death.

Mad Girl, by Bryony Gordon – The first book I read this year that I couldn’t put down and without a doubt reminded me of how much I’ve missed reading. Despite the struggles of Bryony, she lets us into her world through humour and showing us that it is okay, ‘not to be okay’. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her story.

Baby Doll and The Walls by Hollie Overton – wow! Neither of these books were read lightly. Absolutely gripping at the pages as I read both of these, each in one sitting. The Walls actually gave me nightmares, it was that good! Twisted, warped stories that had my heart racing start to finish! Must, must read!

All the bright places by Jennifer Niven – oh my poor heart. What a moving story! It took me a few days to read this, as I started back in January when I wasn’t fully in the swing of reading but by the end of it I had quotes on little post-it notes around my room, I wanted tattoos, I couldn’t stop following Niven’s fans on instagram and twitter. I was sucked into the world of Violet and Finch.

My weight loss

This was a pivotal part of my year because growing up I was always extremely skinny, and sporty, and even at Uni I wasn’t ever more than a size 8, but once the depression crept in, then the medication, I ate and ate and ate… I never stopped. Dr Pepper, doughnuts, pizza hut, crisps, chips, chocolates, beer, wine… whatever I wanted, I ate. Immediately. I was eating anywhere from 5 to 10 times a day and I didn’t care. It wasn’t long before I was pushing a size 16 and 70kilos. My family were shocked, my friends of course didn’t say anything, and I felt repulsive. This year I put an end to it. How? Believe me, people have asked.

  • I started off by cutting out eating after 7pm. This made a huge difference to my bloating and discomfort.
  • The next stage, I stopped eating dairy products. No milk, chocolate, cheese, none of it! This made a massive difference and the weight started dropping quite quickly.
  • Then it was time for some hard work, I had to stop eating junk food. I cut out cookies and crisps, I went nearly 6 months without a single pizza (this was painful!). It meant daily smoothies, veggie sticks for snacks instead of crisps, soups when it was cold rather than 2 plates of pasta or pizza.
  • Then the real work, exercise! This was tough. My knees are weak and running is always painful for me… so I had to buy some weights and do things at home. Mostly squats, sit ups, crunches, jumping jacks, lizard crunches (seriously guys, do these!!) Plus the occasional swim or trip to the gym…

I’m still working on my weight, and I hate my stomach, but to lose 16 kilos in 12 months is a massive achievement for me and I feel surprisingly proud of myself!

First real job

After a few part-time job stints in 2016, I wasn’t satisfied with what I’d been doing. I’d enjoyed my job at the Little Red Roaster immensely, but because of my mental health I had to resign. My boss there was amazing and most of the customers were lovely, and in the jobs that followed I didn’t find either of those bonus points.

Someone recommended I apply for Coffee #1 in Winton and I had a great trial shift… two days later they called and asked if I wanted to train up as an Assistant Manager. Jeez… Where do I begin? A week after signing the contract they said I couldn’t stay in Winton and that I’d have to go to Eastleigh. Every day. I agreed, since I had no other option but that journey was awful. Getting the bus to Southampton, then a train to Eastleigh took about an hour in the morning, but coming home was awful. I had to get a train back to Southampton, which depending on what time I closed up that night could have me waiting in Eastleigh for an hour. The coach times changed and sometimes I was waiting in Southampton for an hour, or longer. On average, coming home took between 2 and 4 hours, for a 30 minute car journey. I didn’t get paid for my travel time, as promised. I didn’t get compensation half of the time either. I enjoyed the job I was doing but most of the time, I was on auto pilot. The hours were awful, the travelling was even worse. I’ll skip the other finer, irritating details of what I had to put up with, but eventually I handed in my notice. It was absolutely the right decision for me and I’m so glad I walked away from that place.

No money

With my first solo trip booked, Switzerland!!, and no job… I was in panic mode. Do I cancel my holiday? Do I retract my notice? No no no! I went to Zuerich for three days and had the best holiday ever! I saw old friends, went to the FIFA museum, walked along the river and I barely bought a thing except for food. Have any of you been to Zuerich? What did you think of it??

The turning point

One of the biggest points of 2017 was my Taiwan holiday… Leigh and I had argued, big time, before I flew out and I was back at a really low point. I didn’t know what to do next with my personal life, my career, my education. Everything felt like a complete mess. However, I took myself off to a little coffee shop and explored my options.

I started working on my mindfulness, writing a journal again and learning how to be more reflective on situations.

NOW was the time to step out of my comfort zone. I signed up for a CELTA course. After years and years of uhmmmmmm-ing and aaaaaaaaah-ing about whether to go forward with teacher training, this was it! I started the day after I arrived home in Bournemouth.

I’ve said it time and time again lately but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That CELTA course pushed me to study again, to make some wonderful new friends and, believe it or not, almost cure my stage fright! I honestly had no idea if I was going to pass the course or not, but I applied for a summer teaching job at the sister school, BEET. I had a few interviews and finally, as long as I passed, I had a 4-week contract!

Now I won’t go into too much detail about the job, because I’ve blogged about it a fair bit already but this job has changed my life. I have found a passion. I love this job with my heart and soul, and the people that I’ve met through it have inspired me, supported me, and some have also left me feeling totally drained (but that’s a rare few!)

I’ll be forever grateful to those two people who gave me this opportunity, and to everyone who has supported me along the way. If I could work there forever, I would.

 

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it…

Okay. We did. But I’m not going to blog about that now…
August 30th 2017 – Leigh and I got engaged.

Closing

As the year draws to a close, I’m still glowing from my wonderful holiday in Germany with our friends, a lovely Christmas with my family and Leigh and I are in the process of signing contracts for teaching jobs in China.

We went up to London yesterday for our medical exams, and have a week to wait for the results. In the mean time, we are going to enjoy THREE WHOLE DAYS OFF together! Then it’s crunch time. Packing up my things, throwing away what I don’t need, etc etc.

I cannot believe that I’m about to move to the other side of the world and finally move out of my parents house. Hopefully for the last time! Does this mean I’m officially an adult now? Let’s hope so.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year’s Eve and that 2018 is absolutely wonderful for you. Please let me know what you’re looking forward to, if you’re doing any book challenges or if you’re also going to be teaching abroad!

 

Lots of love

Claire

xoxo

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Personal

Waves.

Sometimes I get this weird wave of sadness, washing over my head and submerging me. Sometimes mere seconds, sometimes it keeps me there for hours.

All I want to do is resurface, but there’s only one person who can help me up again.

Pathetic? Sad? Weak?

Sometimes, I just need a little help.

Writing

Let me in?

These thoughts keep whirring through my mind,
Red alert typhoon of negativity.
Tape up the windows and barricade your doors.
This mind is on the path to destruction.

Saturday’s self-loathing is never enough.
It’ll eat through my skin and into my veins.
Your words only scratch the surface of this.
The question is, will you keep talking?

You showed up with your overflowing confidence,
and a kindness that doesn’t kill.
Your words could heal,
but will you let me in?

 

Sheffield Life

Troublesome Tuesdays.

Good evening lovely readers!

Yet another manic day which thankfully started with peanut butter on toast and a spoonful of fairygoblin.

Nom nom nom
Nom nom nom
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Just a spoonful of Fairy helps the medicine go down…

I went along to the intermediate Chinese class today and boy was it a shock, but in a good way. I have forgotten so many characters and the 9am start certainly didn’t help. At least I was finally in the right place though.

I spent my spare hour studying before shuffling off to Research Methods, but not before buying my favourite green tea and a cute little pen! Although the lecture was so boring they should have given us pillows so we could nap.

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A little birdie told me…

Then the mania began as I was rushing from the East Asian Building, over to the Journalism block and then back to the SU and I was honestly just running around like a headless chicken. As well as trying to find a yellow tshirt for HK Day tomorrow ❤

Jia You HK <3
Jia You HK ❤

No such luck.

Thankfully people were giving out free galaxy bars just inside the Student Union. I wanted to hug them.

I love you.
I love you.

I went along to a Mental Health Matters Society meeting this evening and the ladies provided paper, stickers, glitter glue and felts for us all to write / draw / design a pledge of our own for the next year. It was a really lovely meeting and quite good fun!

I pledge.
I pledge.

The walk home was tiring but the sky was just amazing. It was bright blue with whispy white plane trails, peachy clouds and the sun just lighting it all up. Too bad my camera died, again.

Healthy dinner.
Healthy dinner.

After a few very quick twin cuddles, I went home, put my pyjamas on and curled up on the sofa for a night of TV, which of course started with Eastenders and ended with the oh-so-hilarious 50 ways to kill your mammy.

I don’t have to set an alarm for tomorrow, although the fresher’s fair is happening and I don’t know if I should go.

Goodnight lovelies.

                        xo

Uncategorized

Minty Polka Dots

So you may, or may not, be aware that mint is the new in colour.

Fantastic, right?

Well, it’s a great colour, but not when every single girl you come across is wearing it in a jumper, or on their nails because then it becomes boring, monotonous and basically, an overkill.

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Last year a bought a teenie bottle of Max Factor mint coloured nail varnish and it lasted me forever. I never took the colour off because I liked it so much! Just as my bottle ran out after Christmas I started seeing quite a lot of mint popping up in the stores, and now it’s everywhere you look. I was going to take a stand and not wear it, but I can’t help it.

So… on my day of procrastinating an awfully boring essay. I’m doing a bit of nail art.

Nothing fancy but using my favourite colours.. So here we go.

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1. Kelly Brook Royal Mint £2.99 from New Look

Opinion: Really not that great. It’s streaky and the brush is quite hard.
I definitely won’t be buying this brand again

2. Bourjois So Laque! Blue Fabuleux (60) £8.99 from Boots Ta-Dah!

Opinion: A beautiful colour, gorgeous! But it definitely is not a 7-day wear. It chipped very quickly, within the next day and for the price it’s very dissapointing.

3. Rimmel 60 seconds Sky High (825) £1.00 sale from Wilkinson RRP is £5.99 I believe.

Opinion: Fantastic deep turquoise colour. Quick dry. Long lasting and a thick, flat brush which makes the application much smoother. I have a lot of colours from this brand and would recommend buying it if you see a colour you like.

4. Maybelline Color Show (Street artist top coat) White Splatter (02) £3.99 from Boots Ta-Dah! or Superdrug

 

Opinion: LOVE this nail varnish so much. It goes really well with purple, turquoise/mint and pale colours like nude, pink or white and has a great effect. They come in tiny glitter pieces, bigger dots, thin lines or tiny hexagon shapes in the colours of white, purple and turquoise. Doesn’t seem to chip and looks really funky. Definitely recommend buying this, even in other colours as they sell 4 or 5.

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In the end I went for blue polka dots, a sky high stripe and white splatter on my ring finger!

Personal

It’s the climb.

From what feels like the very bottom of everything. It’s really hard to know how to control my actions, my feelings and my words. I know how I’m meant to behave, but it never seems to work the way I’ve planned out.

I’ve tried really hard the last few days to stay calm, breathe, explain how I feel instead of getting angry and spiteful. It’s worked, I’m just scared that when I go home tomorrow it will go back to how it was before the weekend. I realise when I’m about to get angry, and then I have what feels like a panic attack. I can’t breathe, I get dizzy and I feel like my heart’s going to explode. I can’t win with myself.

I’m not one to change so quickly. I’ve looked into seeing someone though, a counsellor or someone who can help me. It’s taken a long time to get it sorted, but I’m hoping by next week it’ll be underway. It seems like such a huge sign of weakness. To have to give in and admit you need help. But when it gets to the point that you’re starting to hurt people around you, something needs to be done.

It will be okay

I’m spending my morning on Oxford Street today, and despite being insanely poor, I need to treat myself to something.

To anyone still reading, thank you.

Personal, travel

Finally, a perfect day.

After an incredibly difficult week, it felt so good to finally be able to see and hug my boyfriend again.

We had an amazing lie in and didn’t leave the house until nearly one in the afternoon. We bought a day ticket for the underground and planned to see loads of new places, but instead we did the usual.

We got off at Covent Garden, listen to some fantastic music. This band were amazing. Violins and a cello were being played backwards, under the legs, behind the neck all whilst clapping, cheering and dancing. It was so upbeat and enthusiastic. I really hope they made a lot of money today.
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We bought some drinks from Tesco, and found coke bottles With both our names on them!! happy days!

We strolled through Covent Garden, walked along to St Paul’s Cathedral, down to Charing’s Cross, Embankment and then all along the water, over a bridge to the eye and then past Big Ben towards St James’ Park where we finally stopped for lunch. Which was a Tesco finest meal deal. talk about supporting our employers.

We sat in the sun for an hour or so, people watching, bird watching and just enjoying the quiet. We picked up a balloon near the OXO towers, a music hall had an event where hundreds of balloons were floating around and each one had an act of kindness written on them. It was such a beautiful idea. They were all bright colours and people all over the city had them.

After that we made our way down to Victoria to catch the train home. We hardly stopped talking all day, it was just like when we first started going out.

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It was perfect.