My Life, Letters to Autumn

Letters to Autumn 22

Dear Autumn,

It’s taken me 22 days but I’ve finally got to talk about the weather.

What the hell is going on, and why am I always surprised that you are as temperamental as you are?

I don’t ever know if I’m going to need an actual jacket or not or if just wearing a jumper/hoodie will be sufficient enough. And then there’s the whole evening thing. Will that jumper that I have decided to leave house in that has proved fine during the day work when the sun sets? The sun is setting at an earlier time with each passing day and the clocks change soon so who really knows if that will be okay. I sure as hell don’t. I’m currently just wearing both and then assessing the situation each and every time I dare to venture outside.

I have to carry one around a lot.

Same goes for my umbrella and my sunglasses. Sometimes it feels like I need them both for one outing. Sometimes I do need both.

I have removed my leopard print scarf out of hibernation because come this time of year it is always needed a couple of times a week. I schlepped it all the way up to Filey last week and needed it once. And even then I only wore it because I felt like I needed to justify it making the 5 hour journey. It’s been largely useless, but it’s out to play now and ready to be wrapped around my neck at a moment’s notice.

When is it going to level out?

It’s not that I’m complaining, it’s just I prefer knowing where I stand when it comes to layers. I get hot quickly…

Love,

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 21

Dear Autumn,

I get asked what a weigh a lot.

Mostly by people who know what they weigh exactly and are either trying to lower the number or trying to bulk and hope to see the number go up. They check the number frequently in the hope of seeing some change. The number means everything to them.

I don’t know what my number is.

Or rather I know what my number was a few months ago and I know what it was before that several months before and I know that there was a difference between the old number and the number that I got recently (although it was nearly 6 months ago, so not that recently). But I’m not keeping tabs on the number.

I knew the number was low enough that it was gently advised that I put on a little bit of weight just so I was veering so close to the ‘underweight’ bracket for my height.

I have kind of done that.

I don’t actually know, because like I said, I don’t know what the number now is.

I have no desire to know what the number is.

I live in a house that possesses no scales. I was raised by a mother who did not want that kind of ‘obsessed with a number on a scale’ life. For herself or for me. No comments are made about weight in my house, for the most part.

However that didn’t stop me from becoming kind of obsessed with the number of the scale at one point in my life.

One of my earliest memories of being around my grandparents’ house (besides eating smooth peanut butter sandwiches on thick white bread, cut into triangles) was when my Nana used to whip the scales out and on my brother and I would pop to find out what the number is. I never really knew what the number was but I could also infer by the tone whether it was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I didn’t even realise it at the time, although I can see it now, that it created a kind of quiet obsession with the number. Going over to their house meant that I would get a new number and could find out what that ‘meant’.

Then they moved to Spain and there was a part of me that kind of sad that I wouldn’t get semi frequent updates as to what that number now was as I grew taller and heavier. So I started guessing it myself, figuring that being around the 9st mark was what would be best. I’m 5ft 10, have been years, weighing that much pushes me out of what is considered a healthy weight for my height.

Yet in my early teens I strived for it and was slightly frustrated that I would never truly know if I had reached it because of the strict ‘no scales in the house’ rule my mum kept. At the time I was annoyed.

Now I’m grateful.

Eventually I fell out of the habit of being obsessed with the number and fell into a different habit that needed to be dealt with in a different way, and it was handled. Eventually.

And I reached adulthood comfortable with the fact that I honestly do not care what the number on a scale is. I popped on a scale once in the gym on a whim and out of sheer curiosity and was grateful to see a healthy number reflected back at me. I then had to do it at my GPs and knew that it would be lower because I’d been exercising more since the last time I had weighed myself but my eating habits hadn’t really changed.

When people ask me (being asked the question makes sense in context. It’s not randomly brought up I feel like I should clarify) I use the number I got most recently and then clarify that it’s probably not still that because my body for sure has a slightly different composition then it did when I got that number and things have most likely moved around. They might actually not have and it could be the same I just look slightly different now. I do not know.

And I also, do not care.

It’s nice to be able to say that.

Love,

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 20

Dear Autumn,

In the depths of my anxiety ridden life earlier this year I tried all sorts of things to try and get my head back in the game. They all had varying degrees of success, and in the end the thing that helped me best was sitting down and getting together a coherent plan to help me deal with all these irritating thoughts that kept plaguing my mind and driving me mad.

The one that had the most success, at the time, was meditation. I’d kind of found that focusing in on my breathing during yoga helped me somewhat when I did for an hour a week but or some reason I kept it limited to that, because I had attempted meditation before when something similar happened 3/4 years ago and I found that I just could not shut my brain off. And even though the app I was using said that it was fine to let other thoughts in I found myself focusing so much on the fact that I was thinking when I was supposed to be just letting thoughts go that I stayed very much in my own head and the whole thing proved very fruitless.

However this time I was coming at it with the fact that I was managing to for, the most part, really focus in my breathing and the practice for an hour and week and it was helping a little to quiet the noise in my head and so I gave it another try.

And it helped me so much. Not enough to help me deal with the problem completely, but enough that I felt calm enough to be able to fall asleep which was pretty much all I had as being awake was exhausting me because my brain would not shut off and I was easily stressed out to the point of panic attacks at almost all points.

Then when I started to get better for whatever reason I fell out of the habit of taking 10 minutes out of my day to just breathe and focus in on myself and calm the hell down. And I really don’t know why.

I mean I have now created a good enough plan for myself for my day to day life that I have my anxiety mostly under control and when it’s not I can get it back under control relatively easily now. And they don’t involve meditation.

But I feel like they should.

For whatever reason I’ve dropped exercises that really focus in on the breathe in this current version of my exercise plan and although there is something kind of meditative about the other exercise that I do as I focus in on reps and proper form, it’s kind of not the same as doing something that is solely focused on it.

I found it so helpful and it did really help to calm my nerves and leave me feeling centred in a way that I do get post-workout, but not in the same way.

So starting from next month, when I feel like I am going to need to really focus on trying to stay calm in amidst attempting the insanity that is NaNo, I am going to introduce the daily practice back into my life. Don’t ask me why I’m not just starting from now, for some reason I feel like I need the significance of it being a fresh start and a fresh month…

Love,

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 19

Dear Autumn,

It’s the 19th of the month which means it has now been 4 days since I got social media back into my life (I will admit that I logged into Tweetdeck once a day just to schedule some blog related tweets, but only ever said the top 2 tweets and resisted the urge to scroll down), so of course I am going to talk about what life was like last week without it.

For one, it was actually quite easy to not log on to the sites on my laptop. I blocked them and so every time that I tried I got told off (thank you Block Site) but I only tried Instagram twice, and Twitter 4 times and two of those was only because I didn’t realise that the linked I had clicked on was going to direct me to Twitter. I didn’t even try Tumblr once.

On my phone it was a slightly different story. I deleted the apps off of there and I didn’t truly register just how often I default to clicking on the top row of apps that I have on my phone (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr) until they were no longer there. It meant that I used my phone a lot less. Except for the day where I got really obsessed with a ‘crab grab’ expedition on Two Dots. I checked Buzzfeed a few times, did my brain training exercises for the day and pretty much just left it alone unless I was replying to texts. I used it so little that I didn’t even have to put my phone on charge for 48 hours and quite happily left the house without it.  A part of me did feel like I was missing out on some things, but I got over that pretty quickly.

What did, and didn’t surprise me, was how little I knew about what was going on in the world in terms of news. I found it out the old fashioned way. Via news websites and late night talk show videos (mainly Seth Meyers and A Closer Look if we’re being really honest). I had no real idea of what was going on in politics, both US and UK. I was watching the very rapid decline of Weinstein each morning when I just caught up on things news wise (via The Guardian, and I’m gonna be brutally honest Buzzfeed. They were where I got my news from) so that I wasn’t totally ignorant. But it didn’t happen on a minute by minute basis.

To be honest with you it felt a lot better. Kind of just unloading all the news on yourself at one point during the day and then digesting it and leaving it the hell alone felt a lot less draining. It meant that I didn’t click on hashtags and inevitably come across something that was just so wrong  my brain didn’t know how to compute it or understand how someone can walk around really believing that level of bullshit. It meant that I had a clearer head overall.

It kind of felt like it did when I just deleted Facebook altogether and felt all the better for it on a wider scale. However I have obviously since returned to these ones because they are not full of people that I cannot fucking stand but actually know on some level and so cannot remove them from my life.

There was also a part of me as the week drew to a close that was just sort itching to get back to being connected to the world via social media. I think I partially just wanted to sort out the aesthetic of my main screen on my phone which was all out of whack without the apps being there and I also wanted to just know that they were there again. Just to know that they were an option to open in moments of boredom. In the end though when the week was over I only felt the need to re-download Instagram and Twitter and then I didn’t even look at them properly until the mid afternoon. And then I did spend my journey home scrolling away and I went on a bit of a retweet thing, but I was just flushing it out of my system.

The week away from it did really highlight just how much time I spend on there and it also really turned a gear in my head that meant that I spent all that time doing something productive instead. It eliminated a lot of the ‘wasted’ time that I spent on there because for the most part of was focused on something else and drawn away by the need to just check in on whatever app I felt like at the time.

So, yeah that was my take from the week.

Love,

 

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 18

Dear Autumn,

I am still finding a way to continue to talk about books before we have even reached the month that I have dedicated to it entirely. Which as the number of letters I have written to you gets higher means that November is creeping ever closer. I don’t quite know how that has happened.

But anyway, as I mentioned last week I ended up becoming accidentally very organised and started writing posts that have titles for next month but have not yet been written. There are currently 21 posts scheduled for the month, 6 of them are fully written. The others are all book reviews that I have yet to write.

Which sounds fine in theory. But then, I start to really think about it and remember that I finished some of these books all the way back at the beginning of the August. I have a vague idea of what went on in them, but I’ve read 10 books in that time. None of them have any comprehensive notes against them. I can’t just pull from the top of my head my opinions on them once I finished them. I had kind of forgotten about them in some ways.

Which is slightly annoying because it means that I am going to have to find the book and then go through it to refresh my memory. But I’m choosing to view it as a positive. For one it means that there is a slight chance that these reviews are going to be more cohesive and make a tad more sense because they aren’t just me upending all my thoughts immediately after finishing the book. I’ve had time to sit with these books and really think my opinions through instead. And so for that reason, I am quite looking forward to writing up these reviews.

The terrifying thing is that I am going from Book 33 through to Book 44 (currently, that is where I am at with this challenge) and then there are 3 (most likely, definitely 2) bonus book reviews. So that’s 15 book reviews that I need to write.

Whew, that’s a lot.

But I’m looking forward to it.

Love,main-sign-off


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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 17

Dear Autumn,

On average I can read between 20-40 pages in the time it takes me to get from my home station to the one I need to get off at to get to work. It’s just under 30 minutes if there are no delays.

I’ve always maintained the idea that if a book is under 400 pages and I’m in the right frame of mind that I can finish a book in a week. And I mean 5 working days in 10 half hour reading sessions. I’m a quick reader. And yes, for the most part I take everything in. Sometimes I’m just real tired and should not be reading anything at all, or doing anything that requires real brain activity because it just ain’t up for retaining information.

Last Monday I read 160 pages in roughly 2 hours. Which surprised me to be honest but it was just that kind of book that I could really get into and fly through the pages because I was having a right ol’ good time living in the world that had been created.

So then when I picked up my next book I decided to set myself a little challenge in terms of how quickly I could get through it. Please do not ask me why, these books aren’t officially counting towards this years Goodreads challenge yet, so really there was no need for that at all, but I like a challenge.

Not a real challenge, like a simple challenge. The kind that I can do without having to move all that much. (I sometimes like a real challenge that requires more movement than that.)

The first challenge was get to page 160 in a day. I managed that quite simply. So then the next day I was like, okay get to page 250. 90 pages doesn’t sound like too much to me. And it wasn’t. Within a few hours on Friday night I reached that and then read to the end of the part, meaning that come the end of the day I had read 110 pages. I could have read more, but I could feel myself starting to drift (whilst also simultaneously finding myself even more hooked) and I didn’t want to lose any of the narrative.

But that left me with just over 100 pages left to read and a 5 hour train journey the following day, which left me in a good place.

This is a thing that I’ve kind of always done. When I was younger I used to try and get myself to read a book in a whole day. Or in an afternoon. It’s not even something that I’m conscious of doing. Sometimes I get so lost in a book then I look at it and assess how much longer I have left and decide that I was gonna get it done by the day’s end (see the last two books in the Anna and the First Kiss series, and one Rainbow Rowell book, but I cannot remember which one).

I intended to take a 3 book deviation from my 2017 reading list (have I mentioned that I’ve done that at all recently…?) and I want that to last for as little as possible so I can get back to my mini autumn reading list and then the remaining 6 books that I have left to read. But I am also quite enjoying this little break and getting involved in some worlds that I deemed interesting enough to break this terribly upheld book buying ban.

And these random mini reading challenges that I am giving myself.

Love,

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Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 16

Dear Autumn,

Sometimes I feel like I take my normal routine a little for granted, in that I just go through the motions and don’t really pay that much attention to it until that routine is changed and then I start to notice some old bad habits creeping back in.

I mention this mainly in relation to food.

I used to not eat breakfast. I have a full time job and for a while I managed to convince myself that I was making my way to lunch time just fine. I wasn’t. I was so hungry by the time that lunch came around that I would then just overeat. I’d never been the habit of eating breakfast, at uni I kept such weird hours that I would just eat whatever when I rolled out of bed and actually made my way to the kitchen. And before that at school our lunch break was at 11:45 for an hour and so it never really felt like I was waiting all that long.

I was eating two meals a day plus a snack at around 15:30.

That stopped being able to cut it once I started work and my lunch moved to being around 1pm. I started to get hungry at around 11 and then it all went to shit come lunch. Once I started eating it almost felt like I couldn’t stop. So I started eating breakfast.

And now I eat three meals a day, plus a mid afternoon snack. A pre-workout snack, a post-workout protein shake and if I have any fruit in the house or a particularly strong craving I have something after dinner as well (on rest days, I ditch the protein shake and sometimes just have a slice of toast when I get home from work). That’s during the week. But even at weekends it remains pretty solid. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have a proper breakfast like I do on weekdays, but I do eat because I don’t think doing a fasted workout is gonna serve me well in life. I’m prone to light headedness.

But the moment you take me away from that slight routine, that I don’t even really notice is a routine, it all goes to shit. I sort of noticed it a little when I was in Greece and kept very strange hours and lived off gyros plates and cocktails, but this past week I really noticed it. I pretty much sustained myself off crumpets, salted popcorn and digestive biscuits before having a massive dinner and then repeating the process. And the weird thing is I didn’t ever feel all that hungry in amongst it all. Nor was I super terrified by it all as an idea. Before when I’ve fallen back into that habit however briefly I’ve panicked and tried to get things back on track, but inevitably just end up eating more crap and making it all worse before I finally got back on track.

Now I just sort of let it happen and the come Friday when I’d done it for a few days i just switched myself back to a normal eating routine. Or mostly normal, it didn’t fully go back to normal until today, now that I’m back at work and my normal habits just fell back into motion.

I’ve made a habit of keeping a mostly decent ‘diet’ as it were. There are areas where I need to improve still for sure, but it keeps be going and leaves me feeling in a good place. A good enough place where I know, and can accept, that a few days of really whack eating isn’t going to undo everything and leave me spiralling out of control again.

Love,main-sign-off


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