40 things I feel proud of

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  1. I co-owned a successful business for 6 years

    2. I bought a house

    3. I embraced my sexuality (and met my soul mate)

    4. I can do the alphabet in sign language

    5. I have a job which I genuinely, really enjoy and that I’m good at

    6. I am open about my mental health

    8. I can sing in tune

    9. I make a great cup of tea

    10. I’m good with money

    11. I’m a kind friend

    12. I’ve made it through all of my worst days

    13. I got the highest mark in the class for my year 4 project on the Victorian era

    14. I can touch type

    15. I can find the peanut butter in a supermarket in under 20 seconds

    16. I can run a half marathon distance

    17. I make my friends and family laugh

    18. I read a lot of books

    19. I support small and local businesses

    20. I’ve done a lot of personal growth & healing

    21. I am always up for a swim in the sea or a river

    22. I can carry heavy bags of shopping

    23. I call out/in people who make inappropriate comments or do inappropriate things

    24. I have a VERY healthy Monstera plant

    25. I survived a global pandemic

    26. I know the boundaries that I need (even if I struggle to always upheld them)

    27. I don’t have the Facebook apps on my phone

    28. I’ve never had a floordrobe

    29. I give good hugs

    30. I understand the importance of naps

    31. I’m extremely organised

    32. I once trekked across the Great Wall of China and raised lots of money for charity

    33. I will no longer succumb to peer pressure when it comes to a reptile house or pet shop. I’m not going in

    34. I’m great at finding discount codes

    35. I am a evangelistic supporter of the library

    36. I bought a bike in lockdown #1 and now feel confident to cycle to work and back every day

    37. I can semi-competently perform ‘One Day More’ as a one-woman-show

    38. I can do a handstand in the swimming pool

    39. I did an ultra marathon (didn’t I mention it? ;-))

    40. I like myself


40 things I feel guilty about

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Inspired by the wonderful Elizabeth’s days online list of the 40 things she feels guilty about, I thought I’d share my own.

1. I closed my business

2. Every time I get a missed call from an unknown number

3. Every time I get a letter that looks official

4. The fact I quit a sailing course my grandma paid for (aged 12) after day 1

5. I don’t know how to drive

6. I haven’t recovered from my eating disorder

7. I am rubbish at general knowledge quizzes

8. I didn’t pass my grade 5 music theory test

9. Not seeing my grandparents enough when they were alive

10. I don’t have a skincare routine

11. Every time I don’t answer an email, text or Whatsapp immediately

12. I don’t journal

13. I don’t keep up with current affairs

14. Feeling jealous of other’s successes

15. I’ve never read Lord of the Rings (or seen the films)

16. Not feeling enough gratitude for what I have

17. Not recycling every thing I could recycle

18. Letting my house plants meet their maker

19. I don’t drink enough water

20. I hate yoga

21. I can’t do a burpee

22. I can’t do a forward roll

23. I’ve never watched Friends

24. I spend too long on Instagram

25. I didn’t do well enough in my A-levels

26. Every time that I stand up for myself

27. I don’t know how to play chess

28. I gave up learning French

29. I don’t read enough non-fiction

30. I can’t shuffle a deck of cards

31. I don’t message my brother and sister enough

32. Every time I prioritise my mental health

33. Taking annual leave

34. Whenever I say ‘no’ to a social invite

35. I haven’t travelled enough

36. I don’t like coffee

37. The time I used the wrong key when locking up a pal’s house and I had to call (and pay for) a very expensive locksmith to sort it out whilst relentlessly messaging her when she was already having a stressful day

38. I talk too fast

39. Any time I have to make an important decision

40. I’m both too much and not enough

I’m tired

books, running

I’m tired and so I know I need to rest but my fitness watch makes it hard for me to do that. I got my fancy Garmin watch to help with my running training a couple of years ago. At first, I only wore it when I went out to run. Then I wore it when I went out to run or for a bike ride. Then I wore it when I went out to run or for a bike ride or for a walk. Then I wore it all the time. There are a few reasons that my smart watch became permanently glued to my wrist.

1) Strava

Runners love Strava. Since joining a running club, Strava became the best the place to hang out. You can give your pals kudos for their running efforts, design routes and get involved with challenges. OR you can become obsessed with what everyone else is doing & desperate to gain digital badges at the detriment of your mental and physical health. I think Strava can be a wonderful and supportive tool for lots of people but it can also be a slippery slope for those who have struggled with a disorded relationship to exercise in the past (or indeed, lead to it). Being a completionist, I loved signing myself up for the monthly fitness challenges but would often force myself to get in the extra mileage even when my body really wasn’t feeling it.

2) Steps

I saw someone jumping on the spot the other day to before heading back into the office after their lunch break and no-one found it odd when they called out ‘Just a few more until I hit my steps’. Everyone knew what she was talking about, a large majority had probably done similar. But guess what the 10,000 steps a day mantra ties back to? Capitalism. Yep, it was actually a marketing ploy from the 1964 Toykyo Olympics – A company began selling a pedometer called the Manpo-kei: “man” meaning 10,000, “po” meaning steps and “kei” meaning meter. It was hugely successful and the number seems to have stuck. You can read more about it here. Needing to walk 10,000 steps a day isn’t true. If I’m tired af and my feet hurt, I don’t need to walk 10,000 steps. I need to lie down.

3) Knowing the time

I like to know the time. I am borderline obsessive about being early for every social occasion (being on time is being late etc) and having a wrist watch made me think I’d use my smart phone less – often when I look at my phone for the time, I end up doing 17 different things and then forgetting what I went on it for the first place but in reality a standard wrist watch would be just FINE rather than one that flashes an angry red and tells me to Move! when I’ve sat down for 5 minutes. Even if I’ve just run a marathon.

Yesterday I tried not wearing my smart watch for a day. I’d had the idea of taking it off for the whole of June but I wanted to give myself a trial day so that I could change my mind if I missed it. It turns out that not wearing a smart watch feels good. We went for a walk and for a swim and I had no idea of the stats which meant I was able to tune into my body. When swimming, I stopped after every couple of laps to float in the water or to chat to someone else also cruising in the slow lane rather than stressing out that my watch wasn’t logging the right meters. At times last year when wild swimming I became agitated that my watch couldn’t connect and therefore the world of Strava wouldn’t know what I was doing yet I was kidding myself that I had the whole intuitive exercise thing down.

Recently, I read Born to run and it really got me thinking about how and why I run. I have come to acknowledge that there is no way for me to be an intuitive exerciser whilst I have a smart watch. If I’m honest, this is something that I have known to be true for a while but have been reluctant to face up to. My relationship with food has become tricky recently too and I think taking the pressure and numbers away from movement whilst taking the pressure and numbers away from food will only be a good thing. Maybe one day I will be able to have a healthy relationship with my smart watch for but now, it has been placed into the drawer of things that don’t have a home and we’ll see how I feel about it in a little while. I have no idea how my relationship with movement will evolve over the next few weeks, maybe I’ll want to run a lot, maybe I won’t want to run at all but I’m going to let my body be my guide, every step of the way.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Thoughts

TW: Eating disorders (no numbers, specifics or ED behaviours included)

1st-7th March is Eating Disorder Awareness week in the UK. An Eating Disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations. Unhealthy eating behaviours may include eating too much or too little or worrying about your weight or body shape. Some examples of eating disorders include avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and anorexia. There’s no single cause and people might not have all symptoms for any one eating disorder. It’s also possible for someone’s symptoms, and therefore their diagnosis, to change over time.

I want to start by exploring some common misconceptions when it comes to Eating Disorders.

MYTH #1: Someone must be underweight to have an Eating Disorder
FACT: Often when people think of someone with an Eating Disorder, they think of someone who is significantly underweight. However, although weight loss is typical in anorexia, most people with an eating disorder stay at an apparently “healthy” weight or are “overweight” (as commonly measured by the BMI scale). If the person does need to restore their weight, this is only one aspect of treatment, and being weight restored does not mean that the person is recovered. The thoughts and behaviours that come alongside the eating disorder also need to be addressed.

MYTH #2: Eating Disorders are a choice
FACT: Eating disorders are complex illnesses – there is no single cause. Instead they are thought to be caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Eating disorders are extremely distressing for both the individual and their loved ones, and often are accompanied by feelings of shame. They require specialist treatment, but people can and do get better. Eating disorders are mental health disorders and are never a personal choice.

MYTH #3: Eating Disorders only happen to young girls
FACT: Research shows that eating disorders do not discriminate – they affect people of all genders, ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, weights, and socioeconomic statuses. Many people think of Eating Disorders as a ‘heterosexual, white, female’ problem and as a result, males, people of colour and those from the LGBTQ community are less likely to be diagnosed and face greater barriers to treatment.

MYTH #4: Eating Disorders are a diet gone wrong
FACT: Although for some people, one trigger for an eating disorder may be that they have been dieting, eating disorders are not “a diet that has gone wrong”. They are serious mental health disorders which can go on to have adverse effects on physical health which can be fatal.

Now we’ve busted some myths, it’s time to get to the scary part. I’m Alice, an Events Manager, book worm, lover of stationary.. and I have an Eating Disorder. I have had an Eating Disorder since my teens and it is something which I will continue to be in recovery from for the rest of my life. I say that because every day I have to make the decision to choose recovery and some days it is easier than others. My Eating Disorder stemmed from control (see Myth #4 – NOT a diet gone wrong) and even now, when I feel overwhelmed, controlling the way I eat or exercise is an easy way for me to feel on top of things. This works, momentarily but then it can lead me to a place which is difficult to climb out of. Accessibility to Eating Disorder treatment has historically been restricted to people who fit a certain appearance (young, thin, white, female – see Myth #3 for why this is wrong), and in my case this meant when I reached out for help, I was seen as not yet thin enough to need help. The message I heard loud and clear was “If you want us to help you then you need to lose more weight” and that’s exactly what I did, at the further detriment of my physical and mental health, personal relationships and general life. After time and further requests for help I was able to access the support I needed and I sit today in a much better place when it comes to my body and food. Thankfully, a shift has started to happen to see Eating Disorders as a mental illness with the possible side effect of losing weight, but, there is still a long way to go especially in understanding the disproportionately unfair in access to services for marginalised people. Eating Disorders do not discriminate, so why do our measurement and treatment systems?

The thin ideal is consistently sold as the key to happiness and health. Interestingly, when I was my thinnest I was the most unhealthy (and certainly the saddest) I have been in my life but no-one said a thing… apart from to praise me for losing weight. With the rise of Social Media filters and Instagram nutritionists selling their latest ‘Wellness plans’ there is no wonder that more and more of us want to change the way that we look. Contributing to this – the representation of fat people in TV and film, often only awarded the storyline of desperately trying to lose weight or to serve as the butt of everyone’s jokes. Judging people for their weight seems to be the last acceptable form of prejudice and I hope within my lifetime that we see a change in this narrative.

There needs to be education around health being a whole spectrum of things and not about making ourselves smaller. This includes considering language we use about bodies and food, especially around those which we have influence. I dream of the day that we all celebrate the food that we eat and the amazing things that our bodies do for us.

To read more about Eating Disorder Awareness week and support available, visit Beat.

A huge thank you to Meg, Clare and Zoe for reading and giving me feedback on this post before publishing.

How to fail

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I recently started listening to Elizabeth Day’s podcast where she invites celebs to share 3 of their failures. It’s really great. If like me, you’ve been living under a rock, here it is and you only have 79 episodes to get through. God speed. Inspired by my new listening & my pal Imi’s post I thought I would share 3 of my own failures. Recognising where you’ve failed gives you the chance to celebrate where you have succeeded and more importantly recognise that failing is ok, that it is all part of being a wonderfully flawed human.

Doing a forward roll

I cannot do a forward roll. I never have and I never will. For the first 16 years of my life this was extremely stressful. Through the primary school ages, I dreaded the lessons when those squishy blue mats would be brought out ready for tumbling. Need someone to demonstrate a perfect teddy bear roll? Sign me up. Need someone to demonstrate a perfect forward roll? I suddenly really need the toilet. I remember once at a church BBQ I got all of the adults to take in turns to coach me how to do a forward roll. I wanted to be able to go into school next week and not feel sick with nerves that I’d be asked to do one and maybe I just needed the right teacher. It felt like everyone in the whole world to could do a forward roll except me and when I still couldn’t do one after 3 hours of coaching and a regular intake of hot dogs I thought my life was officially over. I despairingly asked my sister’s friend what I should do about the dreaded p.e. class coming up next week because I had checked the weather and it was going to rain which meant we’d definitely be on those pissing blue mats. He wisely suggested I forget my p.e. kit. So I did. Crisis averted. For now.

Through the secondary school years, the stakes felt even higher but luckily my forgery skills had come on since the age of 6 and I could get myself excused from any lessons that included the word gymnastics. Weirdly 10 minutes into the lesson I would suddenly realise I had a letter saying I couldn’t participate due to cramps (sorry Mum!). It goes to show that no male p.e. teacher had a good grasp of menstrual cycles because my periods lasted for weeks on end and none of them pulled me in for a chat, concerned about the sheer amount of blood I must be losing.

Luckily, since secondary school I have never been asked to do a forward roll and I have since met other people who can’t do one either (solidarity, my friends). This failure embodies my complete fear of letting other people down but in hindsight I don’t think anyone was particularly bothered by my lack of gym mat skills.. except me.

Driving

I am 29 years old and I cannot drive. I would much rather walk, run, cycle, get the bus, crawl or skip thank you very much. The thought of driving makes me feel sick and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the place where I actually want to learn to drive. I fleetingly did driving lessons shortly after my 17th Birthday and I think I got to the bit when you start doing manoeuvres and then my driving instructor quit and I convinced myself it was because I had let him down in some way. After that I did a few lessons with a new instructor who was so passive aggressive she made me cry and I vowed I would never try again. I hate being bad at stuff and I thought I must be the worst person who has ever tried to learn to drive. In reality, I had hardly had any lessons and it takes time to be able to safely drive a hunk of mental around the mean streets of the very small town I grew up in which in hindsight would be a much easier place to learn in than the big bad city of Bristol. Sigh.

I still feel frozen with fear at the thought of getting back in the drivers seat. I don’t think it’s too much of a big deal that I can’t drive until I want to do a big food shop or not get on a Megabus which always smells of feet.

Boundaries

Boundaries is such a buzz word at the moment and I use it a lot but I absolutely suck at actually implementing them. The queen of multi-tasking, answering emails at midnight and putting away laundry whilst also on loud speaker chatting to someone I definitely didn’t need to be chatting to. The nature of my anxiety means that I love having a packed diary because the more I do the less I need to think. My favourite days at work are the ones that whizz by because I just have so much to do and it’s only recently that I’ve realised how unhealthy that is. For years I allowed my time to be sucked up by everything and anyone and never carve out time for me just to be. I think I’m getting better at this but I can easily find myself slipping back into it because old habits die hard. I said to my therapist once that I was exhausted because so many people needed stuff from me, I was trying to keep so many spinning plates spinning and it just wasn’t fair. Rather than sympathising with me she told me that maybe I find my worth in needing to be needed and she’d absolutely hit the nail on the head. I am regularly serving from an empty cup & I.am.thirsty.



Lockdown 2.0

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On the eve of the lockdown 1.0 I was bubbling with enthusiasm of the all the things I could do with my newly awarded free time. Dreams of finally getting through the never ending lists of hobbies, to-dos and activities finally seemed like they could become reality. I managed to ignore the fact that there was a huge virus travelling around the world and instead saw it as paid time off to do what I want, as long as it involved staying indoors and not seeing anyone. On the eve of lockdown 1.0 I moved in with my girlfriend which brought a new and exciting space to exist in, walls to be painted and drawers to be organized. I was ready to get shit done and I did. I painted and read and swam in rivers and cleaned and enthusiastically took part in video calls.

On the eve of lockdown 2.0 I feel numb. I’ve gotten back into the swing of being at work, seeing friends and had finally managed to achieve a pretty good balance of life stuff. I’d re-launched my business and people were hyped about it. I have no energy to be excited about another round of free time. I went to the library on Monday and found no books I wanted to read. Nothing is grabbing my attention. I already feel bored and we are only on day one.

Things that felt exciting in lockdown 1.0 which I now couldn’t care less about:

  • Having free time
  • Animal crossing
  • Zoom quizzes
  • Zoom calls
  • Anything about Zoom
  • Wild garlic
  • Banana bread
  • Sourdough starters (rip)
  • Being productive
  • Being positive

So I guess this time round it isn’t about thriving and it is about surviving. My only goal for each day is to eat and breathe and not look at the news too much.

God speed & please don’t invite me to your Zoom quiz.

Six months of not being the only person who notices that we need to buy toilet roll

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This weekend, Zoe and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary of when she referenced me as her girlfriend and I said I hadn’t been asked yet so then she asked me to be her girlfriend and I said yes which meant that I had my first ever girlfriend which was terrifying and exciting. We decided to go for a lil spa break at a place which offered an outstanding deal and we don’t really understand how they make any money from it. For £100 you get – a 3 course meal with a bottle of prosecco, an overnight stay in the hotel, breakfast, an afternoon tea, a hot tub and a massage. This is where we went and you should definitely book.

I originally planned to write about our stay and try out as a travel blogger but now that I’ve sat down to write, that doesn’t really fill me with joy and now I feel like I want to write about having a girlfriend and stuff so I think this is the direction this is going to go but who knows. This year on my Birthday I told my parents that I was dating a girl and it was a pretty big deal. I’ve had lots of boyfriends (show off) and heterosexual relationships were where I was comfortable and I understood my role in as a doormat. Just kidding. Sort of.

Earlier this year I went back into therapy and dedicated myself to healing. I was anxiously attached to anyone that gave me attention, co-dependent and a hot mess. My therapist is an angel and helped me navigate some really tricky stuff. I wanted to be by myself and continue my journey to being confident in my boundaries so that when or if I had a new relationship in the future, it had the best chance to succeed and I had the best chance at being properly happy.

Whilst going through these sessions, which honestly changed my life, I was getting closer to Zoe and realised I fancied her. I spoke about it in length with my therapist because 1) I was confused AF because I thought I was straight and 2) I didn’t want to be doing my classic move of jumping straight into a relationship when I hadn’t healed from the last. I needed her to tell me that my feelings and what I was doing was ok but she refused because therapists won’t tell you if you are right or wrong which is v.frustrating but v.fair because ultimately I had to give myself the permission to explore my sexuality and be open to a new relationship if I was ready.

Spoiler: We got together, I came out to my family and friends, I got a tattoo of a naked lady, there was a pandemic and we moved in together after 17 days of being a couple and now we are living happily ever after.

Dating women is great and I would highly recommend it. Here are a few of the many things that I appreciate about being in a same sex relationship.

  • When you come on your period unexpectedly there are tampons in the bathroom cupboard
  • When you get bored of your own clothes you have instant access to a whole new wardrobe
  • You can shock old people by holding hands when you walk down the street
  • When you mention your partner and someone references them as ‘he’ you can be be really offended and very pointedly say ‘she’ in your response
  • You can confuse people as to what your relationship is. Are they sisters? Friends? LOVERS?
  • Women can orgasm multiple times
  • I get to be a girlfriend and not a mother, therapist, PA and cleaner*
  • There’s no stress of being the only person who notices that you need to buy toilet roll*
  • My partner is interested in what I need from the relationship*
  • I no longer have to micromanage my partner’s life*
  • We do things just because they need to be done and not because one of us (me) has sent 23 passive aggressive texts about doing the hoovering*

*I know, I know — #notallmen. I’m making a major generalization here based on my personal experience of some of my previous relationships with men and my current relationship with a fantastic woman. If you’ve got yourself a man who puts in the work then go you. Please get him to tell his friends and encourage him to lead a seminar asap.