Here I am, sat in my favourite local Costa Coffee, armed with hand sanitiser and a packet of tissues, thinking to myself, just how lucky I have been over the past fortnight to attend both Crufts 2020 and Stereophonics’ Kind Tour 2020 at Manchester Arena; before our Prime Minister fell in line with other members of state to ban live events/mass gatherings as of next week. Whilst I am no doubt concerned about Coronavirus or Covid-19, and the devastating effects it has had on people globally; am I panic buying? The answer to that is a big fat nope. Because, quite frankly, I don’t see the point. I am fortunate enough to have a food cupboard stocked with basic staples and other ingredients, and a freezer stocked with enough food to see me through the next few months. And, I could probably even feed a few friends with the food I have too. I even have alcohol, and happy to make you a Long Island Iced Tea if that grabs you. So yep, no need for me to hit the supermarkets just yet.
Panic buying is getting everyone’s goat at the moment; mainly us folks who aren’t sheeple. Those who are doing ‘Supermarket Sweeps’ on a daily basis seriously need to take a step back, dial it down and consider the rest of society. My parents, aunties and uncles all fall within the Baby Boomer generation; and like other vulnerable senior citizens out there; their needs come before mine. Secondly, the countless families and homeless people who rely on handouts from foodbanks on a weekly or monthly basis – newsflash; foodbanks typically receive their donations from supermarkets that give them surplus stock. So, sheeple, if you continue to deplete items from the shelves, you are making the situation much worse for those out there that fall into this category. And this leads me onto breakfast clubs, holiday clubs and after school clubs up and down the nation; who also rely on supermarkets to get essentials such as bread, cereals and milk – schools have to budget accordingly for such items, because, another newsflash for you, they don’t get them for free from the government! How do I know this? Well, because my Mum ran all three of them for many, many years. I may not have children of my own, but that doesn’t stop me from being aware of their basic needs; such as baby food, nappies, baby wipes…the list is endless.
Already, we are starting to see the rapid increase of holidays being cancelled the world over. Our global economies and infrastructure will only be able to cope with so much. It saddens me to see check-in desks empty at airports, and cities like Barcelona, Venice and Milan on lockdown. If the aviation industry is starting to show a strain, then soon enough, the food manufacturing sector and warehousing and logistics for the supermarkets will eventually follow suit.
I am sorry to be such a mardy bum, but this is the reality folks. So, before picking up that extra packet of toilet rolls or the extra pack of nappies, ask yourself, do I really need them? If not, leave them where you found them. Or if you do decide to buy, then drop them in the foodbank donation box on your way out. If we start being sensible and pull together as one, then we can get through what is fast becoming Armageddon; and hopefully avoid being issued with ration books that were rife during WW2.
Take care tiddlypeeps x x x
via March Already…
So, here we are, the first month of spring. Or, if you’re a member of my family, or indeed, a friend, it’s birthday month. Yesterday, I posted a birthday card to my cousin Debbie, who resides in my spiritual home of New Zealand, with the sheer optimism that it will arrive there on time. Technically, Royal Mail and co. have just three days to deliver it. As I say, I’m optimistic…
Anyways, that’s enough talk about birthdays, because if I continued to discuss them, it would take me right up to the end of the month, literally. I’m going to chat to you tonight about my bullet journaling, a task I set myself in September, to keep a journal of daily/weekly activities and to try and keep track of my daily/weekly/monthly spends. For the first two months, I found it easy to jot down the amounts I was spending on needless things. And, quite frankly, it shocked me. If you know me, I’m pretty much unshockable. When I deferred my OU studies in November, I cut down on my stationery supplies from Wilko’s. However, in December, I set up my new dog blog, and that was a complete and utter indulgence. And then January came, and so did the new clothes for my wardrobe. Oops, my bad.
Having said that, I haven’t needed to buy any toiletries or No.7 treats since Christmas Day, due to the thoughtful gifts off my parents. But, as we don’t have a main library in St Helens, I have been doing most of my blogging in Costa Coffee. Which is a cab ride away, not to mention my favourite cheese and tomato toastie, and a bottle of Diet Coke. And more often than not, I head to the cinema afterwards, with my laptop bag, and there’s another bottle of fizzy pop to have whilst I’m sitting in my seat.
I will be the first to admit that I do spend on impulse, and most of it is driven by how I’m feeling emotionally. I try to reconcile with myself that I don’t smoke, drink or do recreational drugs; but what I do spend my money on, is like having an addiction. Whilst I have stopped buying notebooks and pens, I am not yet ready to give up buying books. Right now, they are a source of education and entertainment for me, and I aim to read as much as I possibly can until A222 Exploring Philosophy starts in October.
Recently, I shared a photo to my Facebook page, @clairekatereynolds. In this photo, are the three irreverent self-help books that I have purchased from Waterstones in the last six months: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k; Get Your Sh*t Together; and You Do You. They are written by Sarah Knight, and are fantastic to read, as well as laugh out loud. And yes, I realise that I may indeed be lining the author’s pockets, a fact that Knight herself readily accepts in her second book.
On a separate note, I have also keeping up to date with my dear friend’s wellbeing and lifestyle blog, https://www.whathelenloves.com and her mission to live a life that’s more simple, intentional and sustainable. This has included ‘No-Spend’ challenges for January, regular updates as to how she’s getting on with her goals, and a review as to what was bought in February.
With my new bullet-journal, the self-help books and the posts from my friend in mind, there’s so much in my life that I can at least try and cut down my spending on, and reduce my own disposable, single-use plastic footprint. For example, my old bullet journal highlighted that I saw a total of forty movies within a six month period at my local cinema, as well as renting on Rakuten TV at home. Now, I have an Unlimited Cineworld Card that I pay just under £20.00 a month for, so, by watching two movies, it has already paid for itself. However, when I take into account what will be spent whilst I’m out, it all mounts up, big time. From the tasty goodies to all of the empty bottles of Diet Coke that end in my recycling bins each week. I can hear loud and clearly, the angel on my shoulder, Sarah Knight, shouting down my ear with a megaphone, ‘Get Your Sh*t Together’.
And, you know what, she’s right. But first of all, I need to work through the life-affirming exercises from her first book before I can seriously tackle my finances. I started today, and I am giving myself four weeks to complete them, and I will be updating you all as to how I got on.
Another thing that I have revealed on my personal Facebook page in the last week or so, is the physical activity goal I set myself in February. I applaud people who go the gym week in and week out, but it really isn’t for me. Nor is jogging or running. Trust me, I have tried them all, and have never felt the endorphin rush that such people talk about afterwards. So, whilst sat on my sofa scrolling through Facebook on my mobile phone, I came across an advert for a local ‘Burlesque Chair Dancing TM’ class. And I ummhed and ahhhed about it for a while, and thought, nope, I will phone the instructor and find out more. And you know what I’m glad I did. I even found myself some exercise buddies to join up with me too. Wednesday evening will be our third week, and the penultimate week to perfect the dance routine that we’ve been learning and practising. I’m not at liberty to share just yet as to which one we’ve been doing, but believe me, it’s an intense workout. And for £5.00 per session, I can’t argue with that.
Hehe, perhaps next month, I’ll be brave enough to share with the rest of you my Burlesque name! Anyway tiddlypeeps, goodnight and sleep tight xxx
Hello folks. This afternoon, I thought that I would take a moment to talk about mental health. We all have it, and we all experience it, good or bad. My own life’s experiences, quite scarily, amount to a quarter of a century’s worth. And when I look at my statistic in this way, it sounds extremely bleak. Whilst I can only comment in depth on my personal backstory, this doesn’t mean I don’t have the ability to listen to the backstories of others. I have oodles of empathy, and have often been a sounding board for others to share their innermost thoughts.
For those who don’t know me, my mental health deteriorated when I was 18. I had been at university for approximately two weeks, and I was completely unaware as to how my life was falling apart at the seams. And, sadly, my health had declined so much that it led to my first hospital admission. My friends rallied round, visiting me in hospital. My family was completely and utterly baffled as to why I had been diagnosed as having manic-depression, or, as it’s known today, having Bipolar Mood Affective Disorder. It took years for me to accept that I had this condition, which is, lifelong. And even longer to adjust to the fact that I would have to take medication for the rest of my life. My ambitions of being a journalist were washed away with pills to cure my ills. I have regular flashbacks to my first episode, and of subsequent episodes, and they are not pleasant at all.
My life seemed to spontaneously combust whenever I started a new qualification or course. There were days when I thought that I would never hold down a full-time job, or move out of my parental home. Whilst my friends gained their degrees and went onto find their dream job roles, I had to forge a different path for myself and get qualified in other ways. I did this by volunteering for many different organisations, and taking advantage of free education whenever I could. I have completed many courses successfully, however, there are so many more that I had to give up.
At the age of 24, I started my first full-time job, and at the age of 37, I gave up full-time work. I was completely burnt out with the 9-5 regime; and for the first time in a long time, I wanted to my put my own needs first. It didn’t work out exactly as I planned. I lost a relationship, my home, and my dog in the space of a few short months. But more than that, I lost my sanity, again. Whilst I have had no manic relapses for over three years, I still suffer anxiety, low mood and depression. I have been in a secure and loving relationship for over two years now, but, it has been difficult for me to move on from the trauma I experienced and work through the trust issues that I was left with. Recovery has taken its time.
We all have our different coping mechanisms and strategies; for me, it’s in the form of counselling or group therapy. Last October, I finished a CBT workshop, that focused on anxiety and stress. It has helped enormously with the psychological issues I was trying to deal with on my own. I often return to its session handouts to work out things that are worrying me at the moment. Two weeks ago, I started taking a beta blocker, to help with the physical symptoms of anxiety. And, they have really made a difference. My insomnia has reduced and I feel calmer within myself.
Having a mental health issue, is like having a deep war wound or scar from life’s battles, which has to be cleansed regularly. The first step towards healing yourself, is to talk to someone about how you are feeling, allowing them to help you in the best way that they can. This may be a family member, close friend or a work colleague that you trust. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence, as it seriously isn’t worth it. Let the tears fall, but remember, that there will be happy times and laughter again. I guarantee it.
Take care tiddlypeeps x x x
So, here we are again, four days into a new month on this year’s calendar. Despite its online appearances, for me, January, quite frankly, dragged its behind. My days were interspersed with escaping to the cinema to make the most out of my Cineworld Unlimited card; and eating cheese and tomato toasties and building myself a blanket fort on my sofa.
I had one work trial/interview for a dog grooming position which hasn’t come to fruition. I wait with bated breath for the recruitment company at the end of my street to contact me with suitable job vacancies in admin/reception/secretarial – delete where applicable. In the meantime, I have been trawling through job search engines and there are jobs to be had, however, I need to start applying for them. My mission at the moment is to get a full-time job, so that I can start saving up gradually for my dog grooming equipment. A few of my fellow dog grooming friends have thrown me a lifeline, and have asked me to come on board with them, but I need magic pennies to do so…and I think Jack is all out of magic beans himself.
I have, however, started volunteering at a dog rescue shelter, as a receptionist. I did my first shift last week, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The role is extremely hands on, and will give me something to look forward to each week.
The delectable Mr B will be here on Friday. We are off to watch Count Arthur Strong on Sunday evening at the Liverpool Empire. On the Monday, I will be joining Mr B on the way back to Clacton, as I am having an extended break away, spending quality time with Mr B’s family and also dog sitting. And yes, I have indeed bought my canine companion a card for Valentine’s Day. I just couldn’t resist doing so whilst browsing in the Card Factory, which is my go-to shop for greeting cards.
Educational goals for this year, include the following: Level 2 Digital Marketing for Business, which is due to commence on 19 February, and is a four day workshop, delivered by Clickworks/Starting Point/St Helens Chamber. Since starting up my new dog blog, https://www.thedoggroomingphilosopher.co.uk – I am getting more into blogging from an entrepreneurial perspective. Plus, there’s no harm in adding yet another string to my long bow. Oops, just realised how rude that sounded when repeating it over in my head just then.
And talking of bombshells, I may be putting my OU studies on hold until October 2021. With the prospects of me relocating towards the end of the year, looking for a new job, as well as a new home together, is going to bring its own stresses. As much as I love David Hume et al., and their arguments for The Self, I need my full concentration for that. Although, you know me, and my itchy study fingers. Plus, if I defer for another year, that only means another student loan. Decisions, decisions.
Anyway, tiddlypeeps, I will leave you all here. Take care of you and I’ll take care of me xxx