Staying positive

I am a born worrier. I worry about all kinds of things and pregnancy only seems to have magnified this particular trait. I was a rather serious little girl and this has transferred itself to my adult personality. Quite frankly, it sucks. Having an overacting, over-anxious brain isn’t fun.

There are a lot of quotes that make their way around the internet that seem particularly designed to make women feel better about themselves (you know, the endless Marilyn Monroe ones that were never uttered by her in the first place.) But I think one of my favourites is one I stumbled across when doing some research into Dorothy Parker. It was from a piece about New York at 6.30pm, but I think it’s lovely: “If you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.”

File:Young Dorothy Parker.jpg

Image: Wikipedia

I think it’s a brilliant sentiment for anyone who is maybe struggling with things. I have suffered with anxiety and depression in the past; it’s a struggle I don’t think you ever really give up, it’s always looming in one way or another. I know that I have to keep an eye on myself, especially as the nights draw in. Maybe this is something I’ll cover on here in the future, but right now, staying positive is an important thing to me and I will fight hard to keep my brain chemistry on my side.

However, when I’m not feeling low, my other favourite (and perhaps some would argue it’s more relevant!) is a quote I found attributed to the mistress of attitude, Liz Taylor: “Put your lipstick on and pull yourself together!”

File:Elizabeth Taylor portrait.jpg

Image: Wikipedia

While this is not something to say to someone who is depressed (how can you pull your brain chemistry together?), it is something I say to myself when I don’t want to go to work, or I’m being silly about something minor. I think it’s always good to laugh at yourself and acknowledge that sometimes, you’re just being a bit daft about something that’s not worth stressing about, although admittedly, it’s not always easy.

How do you stay positive on those days when life just seems rubbish?


It’s been a weird couple of days here. Nothing major, but enough to make me feel fed up and ‘meh’.

I’m going to be rather British to begin with and mention the weather.The weather’s not been helping; my preferred mode of weather is sunny and mild. Torrential rain is a bit tedious after a while, although I am glad we live on top of a hill.

Also- has anyone else ever cried at their optician? Just me? I got my new glasses on Friday and, oh, they are a disaster. I think I have been over-corrected and so I feel drunk and hungover at the same time. I can see out of the glasses, but I also feel like I’m about to topple over and I suffer from the greatest headache ever. They originally wanted me to try the glasses for two weeks, but I just can’t. Part of my sight is blurry and it’s just not good, really. Anyway, I have had a conversation with someone at Specsavers and will be getting my money back and re-testing post-baby. (As an aside; if my eyes change so much in pregnancy, as they keep telling me, why bother selling me glasses in the first place? I fear I know the answer, though.)

We viewed a house on Friday, which was lovely and the landlord wanted us to have it (I guess we’re considered ‘a professional couple’, even with a cat and a baby.) Alas, we turned it down- it had ten very narrow steps up to the front door, which I could just see becoming a hazard when chugging a buggy up and down them. We should find out about the other house tomorrow, but with the way my luck is running, I’m not holding my breath.

Oh, and a project I had been knitting for WEEKS turned out to have gone horribly wrong. I tried not to hyperventilate. Luckily, a friend is taking it away from me and sorting it out. I don’t think I could manage it at this point.

Finally, it seems I am destined to have eczema plaguing me around my eyes from now until the baby comes. This means using creams and giving up eyeliner on a regular basis. One eye in particular is sore and easily irritated, which drives me to distraction. I would cry, but my eye is too swollen.

In the pursuit of happiness

So, I was reading Marie Claire yesterday and there’s an article this month about what makes you happy. It’s all linked in with David Cameron’s stance that the government should know how happy we are (I must admit, I’m not sure why he wants to know. The country seems pretty miserable at the moment.) The three writers offered up the following things that made them happy: one, who had suffered pretty terribly with an eating disorder in the past chose food, another chose relationships with younger men and the last said she had stopped comparing herself to others. While these are all valid ways of creating happiness for each person, they’re also typical of the stuff women’s magazines like to publish. Mimi Spencer wrote a humorous piece in the same magazine where she tried baking, random acts of kindness and yoga as a way to make her happy and she (inevitably) found that some were more helpful than others.

The problem with writing about happiness is that it is so subjective and I think this is why it seems odd that the government wants to get involved. Of course magazines want to get involved; it’s good for revenue. Telling us that by buying items from the Paul and Joe ‘Cat’ makeup line will make us happy is the business they’re in. (By the way, I think that would make me happy because I’m slightly vain and I love cats. Not sure I would ever use them though, they’re so pretty and limited edition.)

We’re also expected to be happy at all times, unhappiness is to be avoided. I guess this is why there are so many people, including myself, who have suffered depression at some point in their lives. At what point does pursuing happiness become ridiculous? Life is not meant to be one long journey of unadulterated bliss- we need the bad bits in order to learn to appreciate the good bits. I have also had to learn to enjoy life when it is good and not to worry too much about when it might all go bad.

We also want to be seen, generally, as altruistic and benevolent human beings. This is why, when children and beauty queens are asked what would make them happy, they answer along the lines of ‘world peace’. And whilst this is a truly admirable thing to want, it is impossible for Miss Arizona create world peace on her own. So our pursuit of happiness needs to be smaller and more easily defined. For example, I sponsor a little girl  in Sierra Leone. I am happy knowing that she can go to school because of this.

But it’s important to have frivolous things to make us happy too- I love it when I’ve knitted something. Sometimes my crafting  is purely selfish and that’s OK. I enjoy it when I get my steps right in jive or manage to hold a new pose in yoga. I love getting new makeup or a new book. Cafes make me happy. But I also really enjoy buying birthday and Christmas presents or helping a friend out.

I’ve gone more philosophical than I originally intended in this post, which is not a bad thing I suppose. What makes you happy?



Spring Goals

I figured, as it’s nearly the end of February and we’re predicted a really warm end of the week, I thought I would look ahead and set myself some goals for the next few months; the period between now and June is busy at work and I need to make sure that I’m not just doing work stuff. So, with that in mind, I’m going to set some goals for the time period until June 1st.

1) Read more fiction- and enjoy it! I’ve written about this and I’m determined to continue with it. I’m slowly getting to grips with the problems I’ve had. Maybe I read a few rum books, but it’s getting better. I am currently loving Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’, so I will read more of his books in the coming weeks.

2) Be positive- it’s really easy for me to get bogged down in my job, so I’m going to try and take everything as it comes. This target also means I need to not allow stress to envelope me. Which leads me to…

3) Get into exercising- I started both jive and yoga this weekend and I really want them to become things I really, really enjoy, even when the novelty has worn off. I’ve started to read up on the history of both and this is really helping me get my head around what I’m doing.

4) Do more writing- and be brave about it! I need to make sure that I start work on the ‘novel’ and maybe put myself forward for writing competitions, solicit some work (perhaps) and really get going with the work. Writing is the thing I love doing more than anything. I should do more of what I enjoy.

5) Knit some yoga socks!

6) Make something with my sewing machine.

7) Buy some utterly brilliant shoes that I will actually wear.

I think that’s a pretty comprehensive and achievable list… Do you have any goals for spring?


I am currently suffering a bout of insomnia. It is not fun. I have had a lot of broken sleep since Christmas, but this week it’s been completely off the scale. Unfortunately, it’s not fun.

It is completely inhibiting my ability to do much at the moment. I am not one of those people who work brilliantly when they don’t sleep. I’m not going to write a novel in a week, through lack of sleep. I can’t even focus on a book for very long when it’s bad. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been struggling with a rubbish immune system this week too. I make a bloodhound look perky and awake; the bags under my eyes are a wonder to behold (you know the heaviest shopping bag you’ve ever carried? I look like I have that under my eyes- eighteen cans of catfood and a four pinter of milk all stored in my tear ducts. Nice.)

I’ve tried most things for the sleeplessness. Having a routine (or not) does not seem to help much, although I suppose that affects whether I get up in the night or not. A 6am start does tend to discourage me from getting up for a couple of hours at 1am. Baths, lavender oil, hot milk (with added whiskey!), staying away from the TV/internet before bed- all of them have a negligible affect. Maybe I shouldn’t be on Twitter for hours, but I’m not sure it plays a massive part in my lack of sleep. I need about seven hours to be firing on most cylinders. At the moment, it’s working out about three and half to four hours of broken sleep. If I’m lucky.

About six years ago, a doctor gave me sleeping tablets (the pharmacist told me she’d written double the dose I needed on the prescription, which could have ended really well.) I took one once. I felt a weird sensation- the pill worked really quickly, scarily so. I rang my now-husband and slurred over the phone to him. I needed someone to talk to me while I fell asleep, I was so freaked out. I slept a dead, foggy sleep and woke up the next morning groggy and sort of hungover. The next day I took the rest of the packet to the chemists’ to be destroyed. I vowed never to take sleeping tablets that were that strong ever again. My husband jokingly asked whether I’d called in case I didn’t wake up and, rather drama queenily, I think I did. I was young and stupid, but I was also genuinely scared.

So what am I doing to help myself now? Well, tonight is my first jive class, which hopefully will utterly tire me out. I’m also planning to take a beginner’s yoga class tomorrow if my cold doesn’t explode overnight- it’s kind of one of those annoying colds that sort of drags on with no major symptoms. It’s not annoying enough to take medicine but not benign enough to not be irritating. I’ve been trying to do a bit of yoga every day, in a bid to chill out enough to finally get some sleep.

I wonder if insomnia is genetic. My mother has suffered with it for years. I just need to try and find a solution and any suggestions would be gratefully received!


Losing my mojo

Today has been a bit of an odd day. The cold weather I have wanted for so long has finally come (any chance of some snow? Please?!) and I’ve kind of gone into ‘hibernating mode’.

I usually, when this happens, pick up my knitting needles. But I have no desire to at all. It’s been the same all week. At first, I thought it was just because I have had an insanely busy week, which looks to continue into next week too. I tried to do a bit of knitting. It wasn’t fun. I tried a bit of the Ongoing Monster Tapestry* that I have knocking around. I did a bit, but then got bored. It is weird having no creative juices at all. Even my writing has gone to pot. There is nothing in my head- not one creative thought excites me. I have no desire to make anything, or to write a sentence of the ‘novel’ I’m writing. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

This troubles me. I am used to running around like a mad thing, my head fizzing with ideas, my brain all keen and enthusiastic to such a degree that I would out-perk even the perkiest, most wholesome Mid-Western college student in a rom-com. I know I am tired and a bit stressed and a bit listless. But this is ridiculous.

Instead, I spent today sorting out my Ladies in Monochrome blog, buying a proper domain name, importing the whole thing over to WordPress, setting up a dedicated Twitter feed and scanning and sorting photos. All a bit boring, really. It’s all I could manage and the sorting and organising made part of my brain very happy indeed.

I’m going to try and rectify this grave situation by sitting down with The Killing season 1 and hoping that I can muster up the energy to knit a bog-standard, no thought sock.

*The Ongoing Monster Tapestry is actually a really very pretty, if large, William Morris design.