Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin!

It is human nature to want to take advantage of every single exciting opportunity that comes our way. After all, you’re a long time dead aren’t you so you might as well make the most of your one shot at existence right? Well yeah, and that’s a good attitude to have…most of the time. The important thing to remember is that we are only human and we need to remember that we actually have limits! As much as I like to convince myself I am Wonder Woman…sadly I am not – I don’t look half as good in Lycra!

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I know that most of my audience, especially on my YouTube channel, are a lot younger than me and so I think that you maybe might have the same attitude towards education as me. When I was at school, more was always better! Academically, I did quite well but this was in no means a natural thing – I worked my arse off to get the A’s and A*’s that I left with. But I almost killed myself trying!

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I took on extra subjects and extracurricular activities that I thought would help me be better wherever I could, despite the warnings of my teachers that I might be taking on too much. Just to give you an example of my stupidity in this way – I was advised to take three A Levels at sixth form, I came out with 7 qualifications. Fucking 7!! I took on Theatre Studies, Performing Arts, Sociology, Psychology, English Language, Critical Thinking and an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). I mean really? Was there any need?

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Now, of course I am proud of myself and I guess it looks good on the CV however I put myself in a very vulnerable and stressful position when I was only 17. I should have put my mental health first and learnt to set realistic goals for myself to achieve. I have always craved affirmation that what I am doing is the right thing, and that has meant that age has meant authority to me – which is a load of crap but this is how my mind has worked.

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I would love to say that I have completely gotten over this obsession to be perfect and take on everything and anything that comes my way, but of course I would be lying to your faces! However! I have gotten better, a lot better actually. My diary has really helped me, actually my diaries have really helped me – I have so many. I use my main one which I carry around everywhere with me in my handbag, my phone, my mini organiser and several planners and calendars dotted around my house – my bedroom, living room even the kitchen on the fridge.

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It may seem a little overkill, however it is all to help me to remember all that I have already taken on so that I can see what I can realistically complete. I still suck at saying no to things, but now I’m getting a little better at managing my time so that everything that I want to do actually gets done….eventually.

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5 Books That Changed My Life

Okay okay, maybe the title for this blog post is a little ambitious. Maybe these books didn’t exactly change my life as such, however they are definitely my favourite books and I certainly would recommend each and every one of them. So here is a selection of my favourite books.

  1. Dear Stranger by Mindds-website-image
    This is a collection of letter written by a selection of celebrities and writers who have experiences (either personally or in relation to other people) with mental illness. They are written as if to someone that they have never met, but they all still manage to really connect with you. I loved these letters and they really hit home with me in a variety of ways. I love it so much! I read it in two days! As soon as I heard that Caitlyn Moran had written one of the letters I was in as I love everything that that woman does. If you are struggling with mental health issues then I cannot recommend this book enough, as it really did help me and I often go back to read my favourites when I am feeling a bit crappy. But even if you are not struggling, then this book gives a really good insight into what it feels like to live with a mental illness. Something which I think would really help to rid the world of the negative stigma surrounding mental illness.
  2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
    the-rosie-projectI read this book while I was away on holiday and I initially expected it to be some light reading for the plane to distract me from the anxiety of being penned in with lots of people with no escape for a couple of hours, but it was actually really good! We follow the main character who appears to suffer with some form of Asperger’s syndrome. He runs his life with order and structure and so decides to apply this logic to finding a romantic partner and designs a questionnaire to vet out potential failures before they happen to save him “time”. It’s really funny and actually genuinely touching in parts. Although it isn’t exactly a tough read, it is certainly worth a few hours of your time.
  3. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
    I originally bought this book in my local bargain bookstore for two pounds and I thought that it would be some light hearted teen fiction and the concept seemed really interesting. Only Ever Yours is set in a world where girls are no longer developed download-7naturally, and are created solely for the pleasure of men. The priority of these “eves” is to be beautiful, and they are raised in schools and taught about the arts of pleasing their men.
    The two main characters are in their final year and are desperately hoping to be in the top ten most beautiful girls in their year so that they will be chosen as companions/wives to rich and powerful men. The alternatives to this lifestyle? A life as a concubine or as a chastity whereby they will be teaching endless generations of women to be successful where they have failed.
    What struck me so hard is the fact that although the concept is so foreign and extreme, the similarities to the thought process of young girls in today’s society is worryingly similar! The focus with beauty and the obsession with perfection when it comes to their body image. A really cleverly formulated and written young adult fiction – no matter what your age, I recommend you give this a try!
  4. Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
    41bgy1cx6l-_sx328_bo1204203200_This was completely not what I was expecting and within a few chapters had completely blown me away! This book is focused around Leila, the main character, who spends more of her time online than in the real world – only really going outside to buy food and go to work! She appears to be the perfect candidate to take over the online identity of the bubbly yet extremely fragile Tess, who is desperately looking to disappear. I don’t really want to say any more about this story as it will ruin everything for you, and what I love about this book is the twists that seem to come out of nowhere. All I will say is when you are on the internet, we can be anyone that we choose to be…
  5. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
    Okay, I know that this is not necessarily a book, it’s a play, but it is an amazing story! If you have been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with the story of this outstanding play then here is a quick (very quick!) summary. Prince Hamlet is depressed, like very He is having to travel back home to Denmark from his school in Germany to attend the hamlet-320x203funeral of his Dad who has recently (like, very very recently) passed away. When he gets back he is disgusted to find that his Mum has already remarried…his Dad’s brother! Unsurprisingly, Hamlet is pissed and as far as he is concerned it is “foul incest!”. The speech in it where he speaks about potential suicide and the difficulties of merely living (you know the one, “to be or not to be, that is the question…”) really resonated with me, and I have always kept my well worn copy close by to re-read when I am struggling, and has really helped.

 

What are your favourite books and have you read any of the ones that I mentioned? I’d love to hear what you thought about them as well! Also, if you have any book recommendations that you think I would like then please let me know, I’m trying to keep reading as much as I possibly can at the moment!

My Happiness Jar

2015 was an extremely crappy year for me, with many things seeming to go wrong I felt even more crappy than usual at New Years. That time of year is always a struggle for me as it is a period of forced reflection as my anxiety feels the need to highlight all of my failings and struggles throughout the past year. Coming into 2016 I wanted to try and combat that feeling that I experience every year by doing something about it. If you follow this blog you’ll know that I suffer from Bipolar and anxiety disorders and so the negative moods and low points are inevitable, it is all about changing my attitude and outlook to the situation by the end of the year.img_5392

This is when I started my happiness jar. I got a cookie jar from Wilko’s and decided that every day I was going to write down at least one positive thing that had happened that day, or that had given me a reason to smile that day and place it into the jar. This means that by the end of the year I can look back through all of these moments to remind me that there were some good times, even if I cannot see them at that moment in time.

Of course there have been days when I have forgotten or been away or too busy to find time (I have lazy days, I’m getting better!) but I have really found it beneficial. Even the process of just sitting down with my notepad to think through the events of the day to find the good in it has been really therapeutic for me. We all have days where we feel like nothing has gone right and it has just been a complete write off of misery and suffering (okay, maybe that’s my inner drama queen talking but you get the point!). However, being forced to find the good in days like this, and thinking about what has made you smile really does help!

I find myself going to bed with a smile on my face most day now, even when the day has otherwise seemed pretty dark and hopeless. It has been so unbelievably tempting to take a look at the moments that I have already placed into the jar, however I have made sure to resist as I want it to be a complete surprise. I can’t wait to sit down in December and open my happiness jar to read through all these moments to relive my happy memories. It is a reminder to me that no matter how dark it seems there is always light somewhere, no matter how small that light is.

img_5394It has really helped me to put things into perspective and if you are like me and suffer at New Year or Christmas time then I really would recommend starting your own happiness jar to keep a record of these little moments that make you smile. It is helping me to see that there are more people that love me surrounding me than I like to tell myself when I am down, and that really does help to get me through the day. So, if you are one of those lovely people, then thank you 🙂 you really do help!

10 Reasons Why I Love Burlesque Fitness

A few months ago I started to look for ways to get fit. I have been losing weight for the past year (4 and half stone and counting!) and I also wanted to get fit. To be perfectly honest, I have never before really concerned myself with fitness and I had always been the sort of person that if something was downstairs, or even sometimes just on the other side of the room(!), then it was unreachable to me and might well have been in another country as far as I was concerned! I have joined gyms before, and after the initial burst of “this time it’s different” I inevitably get bored and make the same old excuses. I’m tired, I’ve got too much to do, I’ve been walking a lot lately so that makes up for it right? Whether it is alone or in a group, I always seemed to let my motivation die and go back to the lazy bum lifestyle I was used to.

This was why I was so interested when I first saw the advert for Burlesque Fitness in Lancaster. It was something

different, and I have always loved Burlesque as an art form (Dita Von Teese was very much a sexual awakening for me if nothing else!) and so it seemed like something that I should at least try. I was nervous at first as I’ve never done anything like this before, and so I asked my friend to come along with me. After the first session I was hooked! Burlesque fitness is a combination of burlesque dance routines to fab music surrounded by awesome people. Here are my top ten reasons as to why I love Burlesque Fitness!

I mean come on! The woman is stunning...

I mean come on! The woman is stunning…

  1. Everybody is so friendly!
    One of my main concerns about starting a fitness class again was that everybody would be all cliquey and snobby. I have been to so many gyms and classes where so many of the patrons look down their noses at you if you’re above a size 12! But Burlesque Fitness is completely different, I had absolutely no need to worry. Everybody is so friendly and I have never met anyone so happy and smiley as Louise! She makes exercise genuinely fun and always cheers you up, no matter how crappy your day has been!
  2. Everyone is just as sweaty as you are!
    As I think I have made clear, I don’t exercise and so worrying that I will gross out a room full of people with my sweaty, red and breathless self is a genuine and justified concern! However, everybody at burlesque is just as sweaty as you are! You can’t get through a session without starting to drip with sweat (and trust me, I do mean drip!) but everybody is just as bad as each other, which is a good thing! To the extent that we have had to mop 10352331_963848973664325_6585851719635838089_nthe floor so that we don’t slip on more than one occasion! Safety first….
  3. You can really feel it working!
    After a couple of songs of working your butt off to Louise great routines I start to flag, however as I say Louise really knows how to motivate us and keep us smiling, so it isn’t too long before I get my second wind and get straight back into it. I never stop giving it my all and so I definitely feel it in the morning! But, I am genuinely noticing a difference. Although of course I’m still far from what I want to be (miracles don’t happen overnight after all!) it is helping me firm up quickly so I am much more confident about myself when I look in the mirror.
  4. It makes you feel sexy…yes, while exercising!
    Despite the fact that I am dripping with sweat for an hour, the routines are great and do actually make you feel quite, dare I say it…sexy? This is an extremely foreign concept to me and I definitely have never been okay with my appearance. But the routines really help you to get into the music so that the movement just flows and you forget what you think you look like! As long as I don’t catch a whiff of my sweaty self mid class, I sure as hell feel cute!
  5. It’s cheap!
    Trying to keep up with monthly gym costs has nearly bankrupted me before, which is only made even more frustrating when I get into my “meh I’ll do it later” routine. Paying for something that I am not actually using or getting any benefit from is mindlessly frustrating but burlesque is cheap and within my price range (which is very rare at the moment…skint is not a strong enough word!) It is only £4 a session and you pay when you arrive, so you don’t have to pay for any sessions that you can’t make. Not having a subscription or membership fee really motivates me to go more often, and makes me want to get the most out of it!
  6. The songs get stuck in your head!
    I have always been more of a Dad rock kind of girl, anything from the 1970 and 80’s rock scene…or early 2000’s emo scene, and I’m a happy girl. So knowing that I would be coming to a class with more modern day chart music was definitely a concern to say the least. But they are actually quite catchy, don’t get me wrong I am certainly not going to run home and hit the download button on any of them. But while I am there I have found myself singing along pretty much every week which only makes the routines even more fun! What’s happening to me?! 🙂
  7. You quickly learn the routines!
    When I first started I was worried about learning the routines, I am an actor and occasionally a singer, but I am far from a dancer! I can learn a script in two days but teaching my feet to do what I want them to do alongside music seems to be an impossible task. But even after the second week it became pretty clear that the routines were sinking in pretty quickly. Maybe I’ll be on strictly yet….

    The lovely Louise :)

    The lovely Louise 🙂

  8. When you leave, you feel so proud of yourself!
    When I leave after working my butt off I genuinely feel really proud of myself. I know that I have worked as hard as I could and I can really feel it working. As I drag myself up the hill to my car, I can still feel it in my legs but I’m still floating on the high from the exercise. After all, exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel good – I love it!
  9. We all support and motivate each other!
    Everyone is really supportive of one other and we seem to keep each other going. There is such a nice atmosphere in that room, and although everybody is a sweaty mess, we are a very friendly and happy bunch of sweaty messes! We are even organising a Christmas do at the moment, I can’t wait!
  10. Louise really motivates me to want to do more, work hard and to not quit!
    I have never worked with anyone that motivates me past the point of exhaustion. Normally when I hit the wall I quit, I take it as that being my body telling me that it can’t do anymore, but that’s crap! I can do so much more than I give myself credit for and Louise motivates me to keep going until I hit that second wind of energy that keeps me going! So thank you Louise!

In short, I think everybody should give it a try whether they are experienced with exercise and dancing or a compete novice like my good self, it really works and leaves you feeling pretty damn awesome! I go to the Lancaster class every Wednesday at 7.30pm at The Storey Institute (near the Post Office), it’d be awesome to see some of you guys there too!

Disclaimer: I wasn’t paid to write this post or offered any free services. I just enjoy writing about what I love 🙂