Hands off my hobby!

Audio recording of blog (please excuse the word fudging towards the end!)

It’s a weird time right now, isn’t it? Globally, it feels like the winds are changing, so we’d best remember not to pull a face, lest it get stuck that way.

With the vaccine rollout steaming ahead, society is waking from its government-enforced hibernation and venturing back out into the shops and pubs world with equal parts hope and trepidation. I’m in simultaneous fight and flight mode, and I very much doubt I’m special in that respect.

Like lots of others, I’ve used the locked-in freakiness of the last 12 plus months to revisit a hobby. I love to write (gasp!) but imagined time constraints and my inner dictator/perfectionist/cranky old lady (I call her Betty) likes to snuff out any little sparks of motivation with her orthopaedic shoes.

Fortunately, the dress code for lockdown is slippers and loungewear – pet hair encouraged but not compulsory. All must leave their metaphorical creativity squashing shoes at the door.

From March 2020, I saw an opportunity to throw myself into no-pressure writing as my weekend plans dissolved, along with my commute. I started by joining the lovely, judgement-free Writing for Fun and Sanity community (Eventbrite link here if you’re curious). We scribbly sous meet most Saturdays online to be led through a handful of thought-provoking exercises by author and beacon of positivity Marianne Power.

I also took it upon myself to follow the 12-week programme in creativity bible The Artists Way and thoroughly enjoyed its hippy-dippy approach to pen wielding (the book covers all kinds of creative expression, not just writing). I also read and reread a tonne of ‘writers on writing’- type books. My favourites so far are:

  • Bird by bird – Anne Lamott
  • Writing down the bones – Natalie Goldberg
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
  • And, of course, The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

As devastating as this crappy pandemic has been, one twinkle of silver lining for me was this being able to reconnect with an activity that gives me joy for its own sake, and if Facebook is to be believed, there’s a small army of bakers, gardeners, painters, sketchers, linguists, and guitarists, you name it, who have felt the same way.

So, I wonder, has the recent change of course back towards ‘normality’ (I’m starting to hate that word) awoken the kraken named ‘Should’ for you too? My sense of play over the last year has produced a gothic horror novella and a clutch of odd-but-endearing short stories. But now, Betty is stressed again. My dictator brain is telling me that now these things exist, I should send them off to some agency/magazine/publisher or another in a bid to make money, because why ‘waste’ all that time if cash and recognition aren’t the result?

While I won’t deny that money is useful, and recognition feels great, it does frustrate me that these things seem to be the ultimate end goal for all human endeavour. I’ve been guilty in the past of telling others who are bossing their pastimes that they should start a cake making business, sell their art to others, make a side hustle of their hobby!

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing so, it should be a personal choice, entered into because it’s what you genuinely want. The popular idea that to be worthy, your efforts must bear financial fruit makes me want to hide in a cupboard. Bloody capitalism. Grumble, grumble.

As I write this, I’m unsure what, if anything, I’ll do with the modest mound of fiction I’ve collected. I do enjoy sharing what I’ve done – it feels like a natural part of the process. I’m the same obnoxious child who got her kicks from having her doodles displayed on the fridge – I’m just fractionally taller and slightly more obliged to pretend I know what I’m doing.

Maybe I’ll stick the stories up for a few pence on Kindle or figure out how to host them for free for download on this site. Maybe I’ll print them off and demand that Mum digs the magnets out and sticks into her kitchen appliances. Or I could just keep them in the Word documents they live in and enjoy looking at the files from time to time to remind myself that “Look! I did that!”

I don’t know.

I think my point here is that just because the beast we call society, with its love of productivity and tangible, sellable results is reawakening, we don’t have to offer up all our wonderful messy, artsy stuff to appease it, to prove that we’ve been productive while it was sleeping, honest. The fruits of our play are ours alone to do what the hell we want to with. Or even nothing at all.   

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…

A Whole New Year

If you didn’t read the title of this post to the tune of Aladdin’s A Whole New World, you did it wrong. Go back and do it properly. I’ll wait.

Happy 2k19, mother chuckers!

The start of my year so far has been a mixed bag of the domestic and the disgusting. I suffered the most violent and delirious bout of food poisoning I’ve ever had, which prompted me to send my mother the following text betwixt chunders:

…any idea, anyone?

I then celebrated my survival of said grossness by buying a new wardrobe, which took 4 people and an entire day to erect (heh). Then, as if to spite me for allowing myself to feel like a “real adult”, my oven and grill (actual – not womb and teeth, thankfully) gave up the ghost , causing me to have a small melt down in which I announced to the other half that we were doomed and going to starve. He responded by turning the hob on and calmly making a spag bol. Turns out meals that don’t involve oven chips exist. Who’d have thought?

First world problems aside, I’m feeling optimistic about this year. No particular reason – it’s just more fun than to be pessimistic. I’ve been chewing over the idea that I should have some sort of overarching goal in my life for a while now, but I’m not a fan of the “If I don’t achieve <blank> by <date>, then I’ve failed as a human and the big teacher in the sky is going to give me an F” mentality.

However, I do like the idea of having something to at least steer in the direction of. If life is a river,then I’d rather have some vague destination to point my boat at, otherwise it all becomes a bit like the rubber dinghies in Alton Towers – while bumping aimlessly around the rapids is fun, it does give you a soggy arse and crap hair for the rest of the day. I think I’ve already lost control of this metaphor.

What I’ve opted to do instead of a New Year’s resolution is to come up with a list of things it’d be great to see happen for me this year, but that I won’t be crying into my bucket of wine about failing to do as the clock counts down to 2020 in December. I’ve also come up with a few practical things that’ll help nudge me in the right direction for each one – something to refer back to if I get the feeling life’s gone a bit rubber dinghy.

So. <<Grabs paddle>> In no particular order:

1. I’d like to build on my content writing side hustle – My absolute favourite part of my day job is getting to play with words and create content in the form of newsletters, global emails, site content and whatnot. I’ve always done the odd bit of wordsmithery on the side for various sites and publications, but I’d love to build on that. So far, I’ve not done enough research to get properly stuck into doing it more “on the reg”. To get closer to doing this, I could:

  • Have a look at “paid per job” sites like Fiverr and see if they’re an option.
  • Actually take up opportunities to go to more networking events, like this one that my friend runs.
  • Locate and speak to people who are already regularly writing content for the masses. If anyone out there in the void of the internet has any advice, please share!

2. I want to make peace with my physical appearance – I’m not talking about getting to a point where I’m doing joyful backflips every time I look in the mirror – partly because I can’t do backflips – but I’m at a place where I’m sick to death of negatively judging myself about how I look, what I weigh, how I’m eating, blah blah etc. etc. I’m able to feel great about myself and hate my body with the fire of a thousand suns, all  within the same day (afternoon, hour, few minutes), so how I feel at any given moment clearly has naff all to do with my outward appearance. Picking myself apart is draining, needlessly stressful and frankly, just bloody boring. So, how can I stop wasting my time with all of that?

  • No more diets, avoiding certain food etc. etc. Tried repeatedly. Not worth the energy. I’ve had my wish come true and looked like I’m made of elbows in the past, and shock of all shocks, it didn’t magically make me happy.
  • Keep exposing myself (heh…) to podcasts, books and influencers who actively denounce all the bullshit. I recommend this lady’s work as a starting point, as well as the Food Psych podcast.
  • Be mindful of when I’m starting to spiral into the mindset of “Must shrink self. Can’t like self. Does not compute.”

3. I’d like to grow my audience for this blog – self explanatory. As a 2019 gift to me, if you like mah werdz, it would make me very, very happy if you could share Spilled Think with anyone else you think might also like to read it. To further entice people and trap folks in my web of words so I can feast on their attention, I can:

  • Keep posting content fairly regularly-ish. No bugger’ll come look at my stuff if there’s nothing to see.
  • Find some more blogs to follow and learn from. Hi, readers! If you’re also a blogger, please pop a link to your blog in the comments for this…saves me the effort of actually trying to find you amongst the masses. Kthanks.
  • Work out how to use social media a little better to trick unwitting people into visiting this site. Mwahaha.

I have a few more things I’d like to see happen, but I won’t bore you with them all. Not sure how realistic “adopt a small pack of adorable dogs” and “win jackpot on lottery” are. Probably need to have the latter happen to do the former…

Do you have any goals or wishes for the next twelve months? Share them with me in the comments so I can steal – I mean read – them. Hope 2019’s got off to a great start for you!

Yours gratefully, me.

Currently semi-horizontal in bed, praying for the stabbing to stop. I’m one of the ‘lucky’ women in my family who gets the odd day where, for no apparent reason, we feel like we’ve eaten a cutlery drawer load of knives and washed them down with a tall glass of drawing pins. The remedy is to writhe around like a beached sea creature and loudly announce your imminent death to all and sundry until it goes away…and then ask what we’re having for dinner.

Much as I’m sure you came here to hear tales of my digestive woes, I think I’ll write something a bit more warm and fuzzy, and a bit less yucky and stabby – it’s nearly Christmas, after all; A time for getting drunk with your family and wetting yourself with laughter while your Nan reluctantly plays (and slays at) Cards Against Humanity. It’s also a time for gratitude. So here’s some stuff I’m grateful for:

Stomach knives

I’m too highly strung for actual relaxation, so my occasional bouts of gastric fuckery allow me a guilt-free opportunity to sit in bed during daylight hours, binge watching sitcoms with a slack jaw and no bra on. I really hope the government isn’t watching us through our screens, because whoever got the job of watching me today was in for a treat.

Family

As I write this, both of my sisters and their partners are stationed down the road at my family home in readiness for Christmas celebrations, which fills me with all the happy feelings. On Boxing day (I’m spending Christmas day at t’other half’s parents’ house this year), we will bicker about our not-always meshing opinions, drunkenly accuse each other of being the most drunk, and bond over the fact that our granddad has told us all to “fuck off out of my kitchen” at least once each within the last half an hour. Genuinely cannot wait!

Frands

Friends are the family you choose to annoy intermittently with your presence, and the holiday season gives me a great excuse to make mine eat food and drink things in my company. I know your friends are probably pretty cool and all that, but mine are better. It’s just a fact.

One sweet unicorn sent me a paperback copy of Stephen King’s On Writing yesterday, which I LOVE but have never owned in a physical format (I have the eBook and audio book versions) for no reason other than she knew I’d like it.

Another is a self-employed entrepreneur/empower-er of women that has a bajillion and twelve jobs and responsibilities, but still finds the time to pencil in regular “eating sweets and talking lots” sessions for us both throughout the year.

A third keeps in touch by sending me jokes and videos that offend me to my core, but makes up for it by being one of the funniest, most genuine and ridiculous humanoids I know (the ridiculous ones are the best ones). I could go on, but all this sincerity’s repeating on me a bit. Gag

Boyfrand

Andy’s super power is being my literal opposite and somehow tolerating it. I am a ceaseless merry-go-round of emotions and neurotic movement.

Picture a beach. Andy is a chill rock pool, just being some rocks in the sun. Not making any noise, not bothering anyone, full of crabs….(heh, sorry. He doesn’t really have crabs), having a lovely time…

And here I come – the wave – hurling myself head first at him with all my being, screaming “AAAAGH, I’M A FUCKING WAVE!!”, and projecting all my insecurities onto him because he’s a rock pool, so I assume that he’s the same as me because all I can see in my panic is myself reflected back. Okay, that’s a shit analogy. Here’s an example conversation that might portray it a bit better:

Me: <<feeling anxious because personality reasons>> Hey, you okay?
Andy: Yeah, fine.
Me: Just fine? What’s wrong? You not feeling great? You don’t seem to be feeling great. Why aren’t you smiling?
Andy: No, I’m fine.
Me: I can tell you’re not.
Andy: <<Happily continues to watch TV>>
Me: You never share anything with me! <<flounces off>>

Half an hour later, after I’ve reverse flounced back into the living room.

Andy: You okay?
Me: Yep, fine.
Andy: Hungry?
Me: << Instantly perks up like nothing’s happened >>

Yep, so there we have it. I have lots and lots more to be grateful for, but I have more medicinal sitcoms to watch. It’s good for my health. Plus, I have about nine seasons left of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to catch up on.

While I’m doing that, tell me what you’re grateful for this Christmas! I’d love to know 🙂

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!).

Knowlege Gobbler: How a Personality Quiz Brought Me Back to Blogging

How do? Welcome to Spilled Think – the blog that this thirty-something, easily distracted human of the ovary-wielding variety intends to violently splatter her thoughts at. Not unlike a toddler flinging spaghetti at a wall. Or the worse metaphor about a curry and a toilet bowl I was about to use. But I’m not going to.

Sorry. I already sort-of have now, haven’t I? I hope you weren’t eating.

Until recently, I could be found at rebeccawritesandran.blogspot.com,* which initially started as a “look at me, I’m a runner now!” bragging platform, documenting of my training for my first (and last, probably) ever marathon. I had a blog. I had a niche. I was good to go. And then my hypermobile, barely-attached feet went on strike. After a couple of years of blogging under a somewhat misleading website name, I slowly felt increasingly disconnected from it, which is a shame because I love stringing words together and casting them into the many-eyed void that is the internet.

Cue four months of watching TV and uncomfortably fidgeting because “Unnnngh! I want to write something, but not on that blog. Anyway, I don’t have time. I’m so busy and important. Ooh, there’s a new Louis Theroux show out…Where have all my crisps gone?”

What pulled me out of my four-month writer’s paralysis was a quiz I stumbled across on one of the many MANY podcasts I listen to on my daily two-hour commute, called The Good Life Project. Long story short, the presenter, Jonathan Fields has spent a crazy amount of time researching what drives people in life, and he found that as a species, despite the fact that we’re all super-special individual snowflakes, our “reasons for being” can generally be narrowed down into ten categories they called Sparketypes:

sparketypes

I ‘borrowed’ this image from the Sparketype Mastery Guide I bought from The Good Life Project…nice people of  The Good Life Project, please don’t sue me, for I am poor!

Because I’m a sucker for anything that whiffs even vaguely of psychology, I was naturally drawn in. I’m one of those people who constantly agonizes about what I need to be doing with my life to be living it “properly”. Sadly, I don’t think worrying and eating cheesy snacks count as a reason d’être – if it was, I could proudly claim to be a fully self-actualised human.

At the end of the podcast episode, which was called What Should I Do With My Life? First, Do This, Fields directs the listener to a quiz that helps you work out what your main Sparketype is and which one comes as a close second. I jumped on that mofo immediately.

I filled the quiz in, thinking “la la la, I’m so creative and wordsy, I’m bound to be a maker, because I’m sooo artsy-fartsy!”

…I got Maven – driven to learn (with maker a close second, so while I might not be fully artsy-fartsy, at least I’m a bit artsy-slightly-windy). Which was a bit of a surprise. Until I realised it shouldn’t have shocked me at all. Mavens enjoy learning for its own sake, and whether they have any use for that knowledge whatsoever doesn’t matter that much.

Here’s why that answer was spot on:

  • I grew up asking so many questions, that I was once told by my mum to “Stop asking so many bloody questions, I’m trying to pee!” I had a genuine anxiety that I’d get to adulthood without knowing enough. I’m still convinced I don’t know enough.
  • I’ve always said that if I won the lottery, I’d become one of those token oldies you see hovering around university course after university course like a ghost whose unfinished business was that it never learned enough about human behaviour or obscure Welsh literary history while it was alive.
  • I devour books, audiobooks, documentaries and podcasts like my brain is a leaky bucket that needs continual topping up.
  • I am a font of useless knowledge. I couldn’t tell you how to change a bike tyre or how to do long division, but if you need to know the name and background of any member of a pop-punk band from the early noughties, or why holding a pencil between your teeth is proven to put you in a better mood, I’m your guy!

The main purpose of the quiz is to help you determine how to best spend your time, whether that’s at work or otherwise. I’m fortunate that in my job, even though it’s stressful and a bit bloody far away, I’m constantly learning new shit and having to write about said new shit on the daily (I work in internal comms for a company with many, many different departments), so if I’m a knowledge gobbler with a penchant for making stuff out of said knowledge, then that’s not a bad place for me to be.

So that left my free time to think about. My lovely, digestible podcasts, books etc. etc. fill me up, but I still feel like something’s missing. I want to be able to make something out of that information, whether it’s actually useful or not. Hmm…what could I possibly do that’ll allow me to create something from what I learn? Some kind of platform for expression perhaps, where I don’t have to commit to documenting just one area of experience/learning? Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. What a conundrum.

Div.

So, yeah, here’s my new blog! Every article I’ve read about blogging (because, duh, of course I had to read up on it before diving back in) encourages you to pick a niche and become an expert in it, but I tried that and my foot threatened to leave the leg it was attached to as a result. For the good of my sanity and body parts, I’m opting for the no-niche option. I shall be a niche-less wonder. Every day’s a new learning experience and I shan’t be caged, godammit!

Anyway, you’ve been patient in indulging me. Here is a link to the quiz, which has been spookily accurate for the people I’ve gently encouraged (harassed) to take it. And here is a link to The Good Life Project’s website, which is full of useful resources for making this our little flashes in this pan of existence a bit more fun. Enjoy!

If I’ve successfully figured out how to enable comments (fingers crossed!), let me know your results and whether they rang true for you too.

Until next time =)

 

*If you’ve come with me all the way from my Blogspot page – Hi, I love you. *Small, bashful wave.*