Remembrance, Removed

Note up top: I originally wrote this post in my notebook after watching today’s Remembrance Day ceremony on TV. As you can see, I had some feelings to process. Just putting in a quick disclaimer before I continue:

  • None of what I express represents any employer/group I associate with’s feelings or opinions; only my own in one particular moment.
  • This isn’t me saying that I’m anti-military or anti remembrance service. If I was, I’d have a number of ex-military family members justifiably keen for a “quick word” with me. I’m a former Army brat and respect the reasons why someone would feel a calling to protect their loved ones on such an intense scale.
  •  I strongly believe that our rituals are needed, as they’re what keeps memories alive – it just frustrates me that nothing we do can will ever feel significant enough to commemorate what those who’ve gambled, and in many cases, lost their lives at war have experienced.

I just watched the Remembrance Sunday ceremony on the BBC. It felt odd watching the royal family and a smattering of politicians put on a (likely heartfelt, I won’t deny that) display of solemnity from a distance. I mean this is both a physical sense because of the covid-19 regulations, and in the sense of time passed from the events being commemorated.

Everyone in attendance gathered two metres apart from each other, as well as decades away from the bloodshed of both world wars, while I was even further separated by a TV screen. I sat three layers of removal from any real sense of the original horrors.

The people at the ceremony were so neat. I noticed lots of straight, black edges in their clothing, punctuated by bright, red spots of poppies. I understand that poppies represent blood spilled, lives lost and souls at eternal rest, but the bold, almost domesticated tidiness at the lapels of those there gave everything an abstract feel. Art wanly imitating life.

During the two minutes’ silence, I thought of a soldier in the trenches.

He’s young – maybe about nineteen or so. He’s away from his family for the first time, picturing them sat together at home, perhaps around a fire, certainly worrying about him. He feels he owes it to them to come home alive, having done his duty for his country and, by extension, them.

He feels sick as he remembers what his duty entails. He’s already seen it up close. It’s World War One and combat is still largely fought at close range. His duty to Queen and country involves charging at another man (boy) and seeing his own involuntary scream roaring back at him from this stranger’s mouth – a primal, guttural sound borne of fear and adrenaline.

He sees himself in his enemy’s white knuckles, which grip his gun, because it’s all that stands between him and near certain death. He sees the whites of his opponent’s eyes. They remind his of his collie dog’s eyes during a thunderstorm, ears pinned back and nothing any family member can do to assure him that the sky isn’t exploding.

Our soldier looks up. The sky above him is exploding, and it’s only a matter of time until he’s due to climb back over the top. Tonight, he’ll either steal another son, father, uncle, brother from an ashen-faced family around a hearth, or he’ll break the hearts of his own family, all those miles away.

Do I think in that moment, he’d give a single shit that a prince has just laid another heap of flowers at the foot of a monument in his honour? Would he be soothed by the idea that years from where he is, people will come to place artificial flowers below an artificial grave for him?

Would he care that I, in my pyjamas, dog in lap and throw over my knees managed to stop talking for two whole minutes while the nation arranged its features in a bid to represent solemnity and sincerity in exchange for what he’s had to do?

Extreme Admin Viking

Right then, chaps! We have wine, we have ice cream on a stick, and we have the urge to write a blog post. No one can tell this girl she don’t know how to party.

Today, I cleaned my house (Becky stop, this is just too exciting!), both actually and professionally. I dragged the hoover round my chateau during my lunch hour and then proceeded to end the day on an unusually short to-do list before the Friday ritual – dramatically snapping my laptop shut, pulling the plug on it and declaring myself “finiiiiished!” to the dog.

I felt disproportionately proud of myself for having completed most of my tasks today. I’m one of those super chill types who don’t feel like they’ve achieved a decent day’s work unless they’ve run at it like a Viking going into battle. Some villages may occasionally be burnt down in my pursuit of task completion, but dammit, I get the job done!

I’m fully aware that this isn’t perhaps the healthiest way to operate in the 9 to 5, but I have this deep-seated, illogical belief that if I somehow complete all the work EVER, my brain will be all soft and calm for the first time in my life; A tranquil sea beneath fluffy clouds as opposed to the usual swirling rapids beneath a sky full of unexpected explosions…that’s also raining frogs. And someone’s playing death metal somewhere in off in the hills.

Of course, “the work” is never done because there’s always more to do. Logically I know that by doing everything as quickly as possible, I’m just bringing the next lot of stuff closer to me faster. It’s a bit like running on the prize treadmill on the Generation Game, but instead of cuddly toys, you just get more work.

It’s just as well that it never runs out, because if I did finish all of the universe’s admin I’d suddenly find myself out of the job.

As I get older, I’m learning to live with my village-raider mentality when it comes to dealing with Word documents, emails and spreadsheets. I know there’s not much I can do to prevent myself from arming myself with tools (coffee and protein bars) and screaming blue murder as I advance into my workweek. It’s just how I do things.

So, I’ve decided that if I can’t change it, I can flip how I see it. I, ladies and gentlemen, am not a type A stress-head. I am instead an extreme sportsperson. I partake in the sport of Extreme Admin.

Adrenaline seeking is a legitimate lifetime pursuit for some, and those people are rarely judged for actively putting themselves in scenarios where their heart rate goes dangerously through the roof. In fact, some would go as far as saying that these sky diving, Everest climbing, swimming-with-sharks-ing types are cool.

Well, then surely what I do for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is cool too! I too seek thrills on the daily. I too flirt with death (okay. A mild pressure headache) every time I get off my rocker on adrenaline at the keyboard. Have you ever tried to book a last minute meeting for several Busy-and-Important types whilst writing up meeting minutes with one hand and throwing coffee into your face with the other, and at the same time, someone is Skyping you to ask if you’ve finished The Thing With the Deadline yet? It’s nail biting stuff, truly!

People take pictures of themselves sky diving, mouths flapping in the wind, eyebrows way up on their scalps, when they don’t even realise that they could get this exact same image by spying an email marked with the little red “urgent” flag of doom in their inbox at 4.59pm on a Friday afternoon. Some people pay hundreds upon thousands of pounds for that kind of terror!

The best bit? Iget paid to do it! While others break the bank looking for their next kick, I get all mine whilst sat on my backside, wearing my Britney-esque headset and clasping a cuppa. At least while I’m pushing the pace, tripping my tatas off on cortisol, I’m cozy, warm and within 10 seconds of the fridge. Can’t beat it.

What’s your unofficial extreme sport? Let me know in the comments!

Dammit, Carol, I said NO comic sans!!

Disclaimer: Before you start worrying about me having a coronary, don’t! I have a slight tendency towards exaggeration and just got a bit carried away with the idea of me wearing a Viking helmet, running at a big pile of documents. I assure you I take regular breaks, exercise lots and do loads of relaxing stuff to wind down after a hard day’s extreme adminning. I also do said extreme adminning for a lovely company who give us wellbeing breaks, flexible hours and generally walks the walk when it comes to wellbeing. It’s all good. I’m going to stop talking now because I’m making it all sound much less impressive that what I was going for. Bye!

When life gives you hang overs…wear your wellies?

When I drink wine, I always do it dressed up as a cat attending a masquerade ball. Why? Don’t you?

I am slightly hung over.

My first clue was the dull throbbing between my eyebrows, and the second came when I decided to make cheese on toast (extra cheese, chunky bread, drowned in hot sauce) and couldn’t stand to wait the 5 minutes for the grill to do its thing. Instead of practicing patience, I snarfed down a bag of crisps, several slices of ham and multiple spoons full of chocolate spread like the feral beast I am.

I don’t handle hang overs well. I usually alternate between flopping around the house in the manner of a fainting lady of the manor and snapping at my nearest and dearest for not psychically knowing what my exact needs are at every moment. To be fair, the latter isn’t difficult. It’s usually more snacks or a nap.

It’s like the layer that usually forms a barrier against my soft, squishy brain and everyday annoyances is temporarily thinned by booze, and for a day or two, I’m vulnerable to animal rescue videos and the idea that every petty thing is out to get me.

Today is a perfect storm for self-pity in Brain Del Becky. Last night, I celebrated Halloween by donning cat ears and eyeliner whiskers and chatting with friends on Zoom, all while mainlining wine and Bud Light. A classy combination, I know.

Today looks like someone’s put a crappy black and white filter on the world outside and we’re experiencing the kind of drizzle where raindrops aren’t especially visible, but outdoors is just a curtain of wet. On top of that, I can’t go anywhere, because Wales is experiencing Lockdown, The Sequel: Shorter, Sharper, Shitter.

Then why am I in such a good mood? My weakened bullshit barrier appears to be letting in more of the wholesome stuff than the usual angsty nonsense. I spent the first part of my day nestled into my chins and dressing gown on the sofa, laughing inanely at the boyfriend responding to that Sky ad that samples Martin Solveig’s song Hello with an unenthused “…hi” every time the singer said “hello” and enjoying flashbacks from last night’s Zoom chats. A particular highlight was watching a friend demonstrating how to pull of some complex yoga moves in a bear onesie at gone 1am, which prompted me to write a reminder to pull “pubes to boobs” for a particular pose on my home office whiteboard…if only I could remember what the pose was. It sounds painful.

…downward dog? Answers on a postcard.

This afternoon, I also discovered that

  1. I own wellies (thanks Reading Festival 20..16? Can’t remember)
  2. I don’t have to walk the dog with rainwater squelching between my rapidly wrinkling toes any more.

I took an inordinate amount of pleasure from this while I dragged my only semi-willing jack russell/pug/sensitive princess mix round the local park; Me making a point of only walking in the muddiest patches of sodden grass because I could and him primly judging me on the path beside me.

The best part of our walk was when we passed by the playground, which is usually a petri dish teeming with racing small people and saw that it was empty of all life, bar a family of four – two parents, two young children, all in matching, brightly-coloured rain coats and wellies. They were oblivious to my creepy, watching presence, too busy attending to the important business of alternately flinging each child down a zip line as violently as possible while they screamed in terror/glee (hard to tell. Amusing either way).

I don’t know if I’d have been slightly emotional if I hadn’t melted my defences with wine the night prior, but I just remember being struck by how lovely that was. I felt a weird kinship with this nuclear unit. While everyone else in the area was burrowing at home, away from the wind and rain, I was sloshing around outdoors, thinking nothing more than “Hah! Dry feet!!” while they had fun in a space that would otherwise be full of chaos and other humans. It sort-of reminded me of that Christmas ad where the family are indoors, and the fox has a go on the empty trampoline.

I have no idea what my point is. Am I endorsing hang overs, rain gear or seeing the silver lining in things that most people naturally view as a bit rubbish? I dunno.

Wellies are good, though aren’t they?

P.S My baby sister got engaged last night! If you’re reading this, please comment a nice message for her so I can screen grab a bunch of well wishes from strangers and share them with her while she waits for her Moonpig card and present to arrive from me…apparently turning up at someone’s flat to drop a gift off and scream about potential hen do’s is considered “non-essential travel.” Pfft!

Getting in the Habit

Disclaimer: not a fun, punny post involving nuns. Telling you up front to save you time if you came for nun content. Apologies.

Ok, so I wasn’t planning on writing anything this evening, let alone blogging, but following my first (socially distanced) spin class in what feels like 300 years, I feel like this:

No, it wasn’t raining. It was indoors and I’m just that sweaty. Hot in every sense of the word, I know.

Clearly, the exertion has knocked some reserve of manic energy loose that I didn’t know I had and now I need to do something with it. Also, you’d look like this too if you’d been pedaling like a demon to bangers like Proud Mary for the last 45 minutes. Don’t judge.

To give you some sort of context, I didn’t plan on doing much after the class because I’ve been a bit knackered. Combo of:

  • Starting a new jobbo! This week, I’ve been constantly bowled over by how much genuine passion everyone I’m meeting has for their work and how lovely they all are. Remotely taking in lots of new information, names and faces over Skype all day has left me behaving like a cranky toddler come the evenings. All I’ve wanted has dinner and a snooze. Also sweets.
  • The weather. Always a trending topic in Britain, but more so this week, as the UK appears to have floated up into space and relocated to the surface of the sun while we weren’t looking. I don’t think I’ve slept for more than an hour at a time between waking up, cursing the useless open window and trying to smother myself back to unconsciousness with my pillow. It’s made for some pretty impressive storms, though; The weather, not my cursing. I’m not that powerful.
  • Stupid book. Last week, I read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I had a little breather in between leaving my last job and starting in my new role and decided to fill the time with as much fun stuff as I could.

    Anyone who knows me knows that “fun stuff” for me involves learning about human psychology and then trying to psycholog…erise (?) myself as a result. The book is great, and I’d highly recommend it. It teaches you the main ways that habits are formed and how you can make or break habits of your choosing.

    What it doesn’t advise you to do is attempt to implement ALL of the habits at once. Here is a list of some of the things I’ve decided I’m going to be doing every day since reading it:
    • Learn Portuguese via Duolingo.
    • Write every day. I’m writing the first draft of this post on a site called 750words.com, which incentivises writing 750 words daily by giving you stats and emailing you reminders to log in.
    • Working out and hitting my step goal. Generally do this anyway, seeing as all my nervous energy has to go somewhere lest I implode, but my inner narcissist fancied a humblebrag.
    • Answering at least one section of of whatever college assignment I’m in the middle of at the time.

Add this lot to the usual stuff like walk the dog, do the dishes, remember to interact with the bloke in the kitchen (I think he said his name was Andy. Seems like a nice chap – he’s been feeding me for 9 years) and sleep, I’m starting to see this might have been a slightly insane undertaking.

…Is this how people who have kids feel all the time? I don’t understand how it’s done and am both impressed with and mildly frightened of you and your time management powers.

I’m not too sure where I’m going with this post. The endorphin-fueled mania is quickly giving way to a mild stupor, so I’d better wrap this up while I can still sort-of spell.

Right. So. My grand point will be…that I am going to create a new habit to add to my list of habits!

My new habit will be to get in the habit of not doing all of the aforementioned habits every single day. Honestly, who was that helping and/or impressing? It leaves zero room for spontaneity, rest, Netflix or additional snacks, and the latter is borderline criminal. I chose to do all of those things to feel good and cater to my mental health and interests. Trust me to opt into the least healthy way of putting them into practice.

As Atomic Habits suggests, the best way to start my new habit of breaking habits is to start small. I’ll pick one thing per day that I absolutely cannot do and build from there. I think, given time, dedication and supreme effort, I will eventually win at not doing stuff. I may even be able to compete at an elite level.

I’m sure there’s a more serious message to be found here about looking after your well-being and not turning self care into self torture, but I’ll let you work that one out for yourself. I appear to be knackered again.

Off to lie in the dark and curse at the temperature some more. I hope you found this enlightening. Go forth and do nothing! Or something. But not too much, okay?

Work in the time of coronavirus

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about coronavirus for a little while now – specifically about how it’s affected (or not affected) the way I’ve carried out my work. The reason for the delay? It felt a bit narcissistic to be summarising how a global pandemic which has prematurely ended the lives of over 36,000 people in the UK alone (at the time of writing) is affecting privileged, safely-working-from-home little old me.

But, then I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it? This once in a lifetime (Christ, I hope!), insane dystopian nightmare of an experience is affecting pretty much everyone on a global scale by vastly varying degrees. Nevertheless, we’re all affected. And for every worthy think piece, speculating on the demise or regeneration of society as we know it, there must also be fluff, detailing the lives of those who now live in slippers and refer to their pets as their colleagues.

Readers, I am here to peddle the fluff! Don’t thank me. Just doing the job I was put on this Earth to do. 

So, here goes. How a global pandemic is affecting the way I work:

I NEED it!

Yes, I needed work before covid came a-knockin’. I require a lot of food to maintain the level of restlessness I’ve become accustomed to, and that food requires money. But more than ever, when my leisure options are reduced to a.) nap and b.) drag the unwilling dog around the block AGAIN, I’ve realised that I rely on my work to bring me a sense of accomplishment and structure. 

I’m an incredibly task-oriented person who uses to-do lists to plan what that week’s to-do lists are going to look like, and without a daily list of boxes to tick and little victories to earn, I’d just be a human troll doll in a dressing gown, sadly trying to find redemption at the bottom of my 15th bag of crisps in one day.

Working from home works

Like the majority of bipeds with a pulse, I miss properly interacting with people. At this point, if it weren’t for the miracle that is Zoom helping me recall their appearances, I’d be envisioning crudely drawn stick figure versions of my friends and family every time I tried to conjure up a mental image of them. I thought that after a week or 2 of working from my spare bedroom, I’d be crawling up the walls, being distracted by the contents of my fridge every 30 seconds. Turns out – not the case!

I’ve enjoyed learning how to better collaborate with people from a distance, I have fewer distractions to contend with, so I’m churning out work much more quickly, and I’m still on the same tank of petrol I had on 23rd March due to the total lack of commute (ka-ching!). Of course, I will welcome things going back to normal-ish, whenever that may be, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what I have now. We’re so fortunate that we live in a time of bafflingly efficient technology. Things are bad, but they could be so much worse. 

Got them sweet, sweet skills

This is a time of free courses, adaptation and connection with people that we perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be talking to, or at least, not as much. Here’s some stuff I know now that I didn’t know in March:

  • How to confidently use Zoom (also that Zoom exists. Did I mention I love Zoom?).
  • How to plan, advertise and organise an online training event for the public.
  • How to use Google Keywords better, as well as a few other new marketing tools for the old tool belt (thanks v much, Focus Enterprise Hub and co. for the webinar!).
  • How to best adapt how I keep in touch with my co-workers in non face-to-face ways.
  • That I’m not as scared as I initially thought I was of slapping my face up on social media via short informational videos.
  • That I’m endlessly amused by the difference in how the UK and Welsh Government answer daft questions during their daily press briefings. I summarise both briefings for work each day, and it tickles me how direct Welsh Gov are when they’re asked a stupid question. They suffer no fools and I love it!
  • No matter how many times I ask the intern to get me a snack, he will not get me one. Instead, he vacantly wags his tail until I fetch him a treat. That’s some expert manipulation right there. I don’t know how he does it.

Thus ends my very important documentation of what I’ve learned so far. 

On a more serious note, I hope that wherever you’re reading this from, you’re safe and well. I know that sentiment is heard so often right now that it’s lost all meaning, along with variations like “I hope this email finds you well” and “please stay safe” (thank God you told me to, I was about to go rollerblading on the motorway!), but that doesn’t make it any less sincere. I really do hope you have all you need to cope during these wonky times. I recommend comfy pyjamas and crisps.

Be silly, be comfy, be snacky and, most importantly, be safe (leave the rollerblades alone). 

I’m off to ask the intern for a Curly Wurly.

Just can’t get the staff these days…

I’ve Stopped Should-ing My Pants!

Help, I’m possessed….with the urge to write a blog post!

Apologies – bit anticlimactic, but I’m excited.

It’s been nearly a whole year since I had the urge to write anything here and in September, I had a notification that my domain name was about to expire. Thinking I was blogging’s first ever Zen lady-monk, I decided it was time for www.spilledthink.com and I to part ways. I’d been struggling to think of something new to write once a month, let alone once a week as per my original intentions, so I put my precious jumble of letters back up for adoption to enable it to find a new and more deserving home.

Clearly it’s been in the domain name pound this entire time, because when I searched for it this morning, it was very much available. Maybe it has behavioral problems – bit its foster family or something. I didn’t train it very well.

Back to my original point. This morning, I opened my eyes, and since my brain is essentially a living to-do list, it booted up and immediately started thinking about what it should do today. It concluded that it wanted to blog, which isn’t an urge I’ve felt for a long time. Here’s why I decided to give up my loveable domain name that may or may not pee on the carpet last year:

Blogging had become a chore

The second I decide I’m going to do something regularly, it immediately becomes a should i.e unpaid work, and thinking about doing it stresses me out. Here are just a few great things I’ve managed to suck the fun out of at one time or another in this way:

  • Journaling
  • Writing fiction/anything else at all for fun (Brain: “You have to write for fun, or you aren’t a creative or worthy person. Now enjoy yourself or I will berate you about how awful, boring and uncreative you are for the next week!”)
  • The thought of meeting up with people I genuinely love in any way that remotely whiffs of obligation
  • Physical activity – I love moving about and picking up heavy things then putting them down again for enjoyment (I’m a simple creature), but the second I decide I have to do it for XYZ reason, I will stand in the entrance of the gym, pouting and giving the barbell a sulky side eye until I remember I don’t have to be able to lift Terry Crews to get enjoyment out of workouts.

I forgot what blogging is “for”

As a doddering elder millennial, I was around when blogging wasn’t a word yet and tonnes of angsty teens dabbled with an online diaries (Livejournal, anyone?). I was also around where some of these personal diaries exploded into book-deal grabbing personal narratives, TV shows and whatnot –Secret Diaries of a London Call Girl and The Unmumsy Mum spring to mind.

More recently, blogging has become a marketing tool for businesses to help with search engine optimisation and customer engagement – something I use for the day job – and it’s more about creating money and a following than self-expression. People don’t seem to want to sift through blogs as a means of entertainment anymore. Case in point, from Google Trends:

Part of my job involves watching and summarizing coronavirus-related press conferences right now and this graph showing the rise and decline of people googling “blog” since 2004 looks eerily like the graph the UK Government keep showing for the rate of infection. Clearly, we’ve “flattened the curve” of blogging. Haw haw.

When I was posting increasingly sporadically last year, milking the dusty teat of my grey matter (heh. Also ick, but it’s staying – I think that might have to be the title of my autobiography) for any idea, my drive to blog was at odds with what I thought blogging should be for, which made it mega hard to sit down and start typing. Want to know what I think its purpose is today?

What blogging’s actually for (for me):

  • The pure, button bashing (mind out the gutter, sicko) enjoyment of it
  • A space to create awful metaphors (see prev. brain milking comment) and dad-puns and not have to take them out, because no one’s paying me to do it
  • A way of fueling my rampant narcissism and talking about me, me, MEEEEEE, where the uninterested audience can simply click away to avoid it and not have to smother me with a scatter cushion to stop me from talking
  • A tool for getting my monkey mind to focus and stop chattering bollocks for half an hour.

Getting a bit snacky now and should really go do Friday. How about a hastily written summary before I go raid the kitchen?

What did we learn today, kids?

The quickest way to murder the joy in something is to should all over it. Because of this, I’m applying zero pressure to myself to post regularly. I might do another one tomorrow, next week or never, but if I do carry on, it’ll be because I want to, dammit!

When it comes to blogging, I am pledging to finally stop should-ing myself, which will save both my sanity and my pants. Hurrah! Talk to you soon, faceless void that is the internet – or maybe I won’t, who the hell knows! 😊

EVERYBODY STAY CALM!!

“Sometimes I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” – Michael Scott, The Office, Season 5

It’s been a funny kind of a week for me professionally. And not kitschy American sitcom funny either.

Before we continue, I should warn you – I’ve recently discovered the American version of The Office and I’m spending an unhealthy amount of time binge watching it, so I only think about everything through the lens of The Office now. Apologies in advance if any references slip through the net.

Where was I?

So, my team at work have been in the run-up to a restructure for a while now, and midweek last week was when we all learned where we sit in the corporate family tree. To give you an idea of my initial emotional reaction on the day:


Heh. Sorry, it had to be done somewhere. It’s out of my system now. I think.

So, on Wednesday, I learned that what the restructure potentially means for me is that if I’d like to keep my current role I’ll have to compete with one of the loveliest humans I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’m quite partial to said role – in the time I’ve been doing it, I’ve gone from fumbling my way through most social interactions  to driving up and down the country doing all sorts of things that would’ve previously had me cowering in a broom cupboard. Now, I’m not one for over-exaggerated statements, but it’s made me at least a billion squillion times more confident than I used to be. Plus ten.

To give things a bit of context, this new-look structure does come with a whole heap of other positions most of us can go for, and even in the event that I don’t nail the position/s I’m after, I’m very lucky to work for a company that gives you a tonne of opportunities to find something suitable in the rest of the pretty sizeable business. I’d be stupid not to acknowledge how rare that is. This whole situation is the very definition of “It’ll be fine. Untwist those undercrackers, ma’am.”

However, I am first and foremost a creature of emotion, and so upon hearing the news, I spent the entire afternoon oscillating between optimism bordering on psychopathy, and short, sharp bursts of ugly-crying. Apparently I process emotions by loudly feeling them all at once.

I’ve since gained a few days of restored sanity and perspective, so I figured I’d share some of the good things that this spell of unsettlement has brought up, because why not? Isn’t the whole point of all life experience to document it on the internet? No? Oh, well, I’ve started now:

Some good things

  • Whether I get to write for money (hands down the best bit of my jobbo) or not at the end of all this, I’m fortunate to have a passion that I can do anywhere, with little to no specialist tools. Case in point – I’m currently typing away in my spare room, with the dog wheezing at me in support. Or fear. My hair is doing some pretty crazy right angles right now because I decided that my need to blog outweighs my need to not look like the creature that lives under your bed today.
  • Not to brag (that’s a lie, I’m totally bragging), but I know some pretty excellent people. People from all corners of my life have been proper lovely and supportive this week without my needing to ask, including but limited to:
    • People I work with, who are in a similar position to me and owe me nothing, but have been brilliant anyway. Especially the one person who’s in the closed pool of two with me for our current role. They’ve been nothing but honest and sincere with me since the second we found out about the situation we’ve found ourselves in.
    • Family members, who know the way to my heart – chips. My heart is located in my stomach, and my stomach likes chips.
    • Resident Boy – bought me Nando’s (see previous point) and has been saving up amusing videos of dogs being awesome on Facebook to show me at the end of each day. There is no situation that can’t be made better by clips of puppies trying to get through gates with sticks that are too wide in their mouths.
    • Friends who’ve been thrusting my blogs in the faces of people they know to keep the flames of my undying need for attention stoked.
  • I’ve learned that I’m tougher and more ambitious than I previously thought I was. This could be denial speaking here, but I’m pretty much fine…like, actually fine. Granted, it’s not a ride I’d have voluntarily queued up for at the hypothetical theme park analogy I’m going to clumsily shoehorn in here, but now I’m on it, I’m seeing that it’s not that bad. Being put in a position where you have no choice but to adapt is uncomfortable, but kind of exhilarating. Yeah, you can still have a nice day out if you don’t go on the rides, but there’s only so much you can experience while you’re on the ground, holding the handbags and coats while everyone else is facing their fears and seeing things from a whole new perspective.

Anyway, worst comes to worst, I can always DECLARE BANKRUPTCY!!

Been through a similar uncomfortable situation yourself that’s come with its own set of surprising silver linings? I’d love to hear about it – pop it in the comments =)

Sweet dreams are NOT made of these

My pet sub woofer (for he is smol), Jesse, looking much more rested than I feel today.

For the most part, I like my brain. It gives me ready access to puns when I need them (which is more often than you’d think), and is great at navigating me towards things I can eat. It has its “fun” neuroses, like the one where it tells me that my pets will spontaneously combust unless every electrical item has been deactivated in my house before I leave it, but largely, we’re on good terms. At least until I relinquish control and drift off to sleep. Then it’s grey matter party time.

I’m fascinated by sleep – particularly sleep disorders and dreams. I love a good documentary on the messed up things that happen to us in the land of nod, and I’ve read a few books on the topic (recommendations always welcome!).

Our minds are, for want of a less obvious term, fucking mental. I’m quite a light sleeper, so I often remember my dreams and can experience a few per night. Here are just a couple of examples of dreams I’ve had this weekend:

  1. I dreamed most of a movie (bar, annoyingly, the ending) about the misfortunes of a transitioning drag queen pursuing fame in rave culture and hiding a pregnancy. If I was less lazy and had the ability to screen write, I’d be penning the shit out of that one – it’s got Netflix movie written all over it!
  2. I’m on a night out with Ben and Chris from Parks and Recreation. At one point, we’re in a stadium, watching a school play over cocktails. The kids perform the song Never Enough from The Greatest Showman and I burst into tears. Well, it is a very powerful song.
  3. I move into a 3 story mansion with my pets, my boyfriend and one of my sisters. Mansion is creepy because it looks like the previous owners just upped and left without taking any of their stuff with them. My sister, who has chosen the top floor to live in, isn’t concerned by all the porcelain dolls and watering cans full of what seems to be petrol, but by the fact that the floor in her kitchen feels spongy.

*Baffled shrug*

I feel massively fortunate that I’ve never experienced the more “fuck that shit” spectrum of sleep problems, like sleep paralysis, but I’ve experienced my fair share of weirdness, so I’m going to share said weirdness with you here. Tuck yourself in and I’ll tell you some bedtime stories…

Hypnopompic hallucinations

This is where you “see things” as you’re waking up, usually when you’re moving out of a dream state. I’ve always had this from what I remember and these days, I’m usually aware that it’s happening. The things I see as an adult are more like moving blobs and sometimes face shapes in the dark with no clear form, and only for a few moments while I wait for my eyes to readjust. When I was in my early teens, however, a couple of my more “memorable” experiences of this were waking up and seeing my mum’s disembodied face hovering right in front of my nose before vanishing into the dark, and seeing a figure in a fluffy dressing gown shuffle into my room, stand at the foot of my bed and slowly turn its face towards me. Which was, obviously, a skull. Cool. Cool.

Exploding head syndrome

Where your head literally explodes.

Heh. Only joking. This has only happened to me once, but it very nearly made me soil myself. I was drifting off to sleep after another long and rewarding day of overthinking and snacking, when, just on the threshold of passing out, I hear the LOUDEST bang I’ve ever heard. It sounded like a lorry driving into the house or a plane crashing into my roof, a la Donnie Darko. Once the resultant inevitable hand flapping and heart attack subsided, I realised that the earth shattering bang came from inside my own mind. Just – why? What evolutionary purpose does going “BANG!!” to yourself while you’re at your most vulnerable serve?!

Teeth clicking

Something that makes me a delight to share a bedroom with. During times of stress (I have no chill, so this is pretty much all times), I click my teeth together while I’m asleep. Not grind. Click. Like an extra from The Walking Dead, or a set of novelty wind-up dentures. My sister, who was treated to a performance of this whilst sharing a hotel room with me a few years ago, informs me that this habit is “fucking creepy”. I like to think I do it because I don’t like missing out on a good chat while I’m asleep and my subconscious is just trying to strike up a conversation in morse code.

False awakenings

AKA the absolute worst. I think these are meant to be related to stress somehow too. You know when you get up in the morning and go through all the usual “getting ready” rigamarole? You do your teeth, get dressed, sort your hair out and get in the car. Only to then “wake” up again and go through the whole thing all over again another couple of times, assuming that this time you’re actually awake, for real -like Groundhog Day but with your morning routine.

I’ve even made it as far as most of the way through a day at work before I’ve realised that I am, in fact, asleep, and I have to get up in a few minutes’ time and do Monday all over again, this time in real life. I firmly believe that when this happens, I should be allowed to ring in to work and tell them I’m not coming in, because I’ve already been in today. Three times.

Last night, I had a fun mish mash of false awakening and night terror. As I type this, I am completely and utterly knackered and am only 50-60% sure that I’m actually awake and not trapped in some kind of Inception-esque loop:

I “woke up” in my spare room which I took myself took myself off to last night to go and read for a bit – I couldn’t drift off on account of the cough and cold I have, and t’other half was working the next day and I didn’t want to disturb him. The room was pitch black and for some reason , I felt total and absolute terror. Something was wrong with me – my heart was trying to beat itself out of my chest and my body felt slow and drugged, like I barely had control over it. I managed to stand for long enough to flop over to the light switch, which wouldn’t turn on, nor would the light on the landing, which made me feel even more frightened. I dragged myself on all fours to the bedroom, crying and clawing weakly at the bedding to try and get Andy to help me. He’s baffled and doesn’t know what’s wrong. The terror reaches a horrible peak, and I scream and scream, totally helpless and feeling the air rush out of my throat, not making a sound. Then I wake up. And the whole thing starts again, about 5 or 6 times.

Such fun.

Anyone else out there’s brain go haywire on them while asleep too? Reassurance that I’m not actually crazy (or that I am, but that there are more of me out there) would be nice, so be please a dear and share your freaky sleep experiences in the comments.

While you do that for me, I’m off to grab a coffee. A STRONG coffee.

How to ruin your own weekend

This weekend, I had the house to myself while “him indoors” was away with the Reserves doing Army things with Army types in Cardiff (talking about how great the Queen is and doing that belly crawl thing up the beer aisle in Tesco? I’m not sure).

As a bit of an introvert (while sober, at least), I always love the idea of time to myself – taking the weekend at my own pace, not feeling obliged to go anywhere or do anything, and a chance to be alone with my thoughts.

It’s that last bit that invariably kicks my plans in the knackers.

I’m the sort of person who, when given time to herself, writes a to-do list on how I’m going to relax, because that’s how super chill people like me operate. But then I worry about relaxing too much, because that’s a waste of the precious, borrowed time I get on this planet and I should be doing something with it before I stumble off the edge of this mortal coil, shouldn’t I?

But, then, I think, you’ve got to relax, haven’t you? Because stress is terrible for you and can actually kill you dead, if that Google hole I went down that one time was anything to go by, and I don’t want to be killed dead from stress.

So, to have a good weekend, I have to be productive, but not too productive, and relaxed, but not too relaxed. Easy, right? Only thing required would be to tweak that to-do list a little, yeah?

Anyway, so here’s how that kind of thinking managed to turn my plans for a couple of days  to myself into a helter-skelter of existential panic. Enjoy:

Friday evening

  • Drove home from work like Satan was chasing me in a monster truck to see Andy before he left, because am good girlfriend and good girlfriends let their boyfriends make them dinner before they disappear on two gruelling days of tabbing and saving the queen.
  • The second Andy left the house, donned marigolds to do the dishes (my skin hates doing the dishes even more than I do) and angry-cleaned the house to allow for a blissful Saturday and Sunday of relaxation and gentle productivity (i.e yoga, walking the dog etc. etc.).
  • After house is clean, pets march in and out of the garden in planned-looking, two animal parade, happily trailing mud behind them as they do so. Been up since half five, so by this point all fucks have left me and I assume this means the parading means I no longer need to walk the dog, so I give up and binge watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I’m extremely late to the party in discovering.
  • Midnight. Dog refuses to chill out, despite prior muddy pageantry. He also refuses to let me sleep. I lovingly call him a “fucking fuck” and let him drag me round the block, where all the pub people are starting to zombie their way home to bed. Am jealous of the pub people.

Saturday

  • Alarm. Time to go to yoga, except don’t want to go to yoga. Spend half an hour in bed stressing about whether it’s more stressful to go to yoga when don’t want to, or to not to yoga. Decide to skip yoga because now have headache, but opt compromise and listen to Headspace app and do a meditate, to check in with how I’m feeling. Surprise answer: am feeling stressed. Such zen.
  • Lunch with mum. Mercifully can’t overthink this one. Matriarchal company plus cake generally a plus.
  • Shopping. Need dress for work’s Christmas do, and retail therapy etc., so will be fun.
  • Is not fun. Is two hours of glaring at misshapen body in weird lighting only ever seen in dressing rooms. How do shops think horrible glare that makes people look like badly made clay figurines with fingerprints still on them will make them want to buy more clothes?! Spend majority of time in shops oscillating between thinking “waah, am gross bag of lumps!” and “Fuck society for making me feel like this and fuck shops for having multiple clothing items that are supposedly the same size, but some of them wouldn’t even fit over my big toe and others make me look like I’m wearing a pop-up tent.” Eventually landed on “This one’s shiny and fits over my head. Will purchase this one so can go home.”
  • Went home, binge watched entire last series of New Girl, wept at the finale because Zooey Deschanel is excellent and deserves my tears for her efforts. Wanted a snack, but decided couldn’t eat “rubbish” on account of lumpy sack body. Got angry with diet culture again for making me feel like bag of loose spuds and proceeded to pissily eat a whole bag of oranges because…I don’t even know, but they were nice and mad me feel better.

Sunday morning

  • Alarm. Andy due back in a few hours, so decided best thing to do would be to get that blog post and workout I’d been meaning to do all weekend done.
  • Opted to pack that idea in and downloaded I Feel Pretty instead because, despite all reviews I’ve read about it being problematic and no one agreeing to come and see it with me while it was at the cinema because “it looks a bit shit”, I still wanted to see it. I cry at the end. More due to previous evening’s changing room related PTSD than film’s rousing, albeit slightly naff climax. 
  • Andy home. Felt annoyed he’s back before I’ve started to feel suitably relaxed and “weekend-y”, and that if he’d been gone a few more hours, I’d have cracked relaxation.
  • We ate McDonalds. All is now right with the world. The weekend wasn’t so bad. It’s nice to have time to yourself, isn’t it?

Becky’s final thoughts

  1. You can’t think yourself into relaxing. That way madness lies.
  2. Despite this weekend being my most slothful one in a while, I feel the opposite of chill, so I’m thinking that knackering myself out at the gym as is the norm on weekend mornings is probably the way forward. It’s hard to overthink when your brain cells are sleepy and fugged up with endorphins.
  3. Oranges are great. I want an orange.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! I’m off to go relax now (help me!).