Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Labels

A guest post

Hello, I'm not Connie.

I am 21. I am a student. I am ginger. I am Vegan. Connie is none of these things.

So, hello. I'm not Connie. Sorry to disappoint.

I am a scientist. I am tee-total. I am a southerner banished to the north. (I'm also a bit of a Scot exiled to the south.) I am an Aspergirl.

Hello, I'm not Connie. That's not to say that Connie and I have nothing in common; we do live together after all.


I'm reaching the point now, don't worry. I've given you a long list of what I am. Of my labels. I was always told that "you don't need labels", and asked "why do you allow yourself to be put into a box like that?"
We are women. We are Christian. We get over-excited by blankets. We are anxious. We are depressive.
But here's the thing about labels. They let you know that you are not alone. That there are enough people like you for you to require a label. They're not boxes, they're balloons. Labels don't shut you in, they let you find and be found by people like you.
There's a Scots word: Ken. It means understand, but the kind of understanding that only comes from being there yourself. It's empathy. I like my labels. They help me find ken. So please don't be offended on my behalf when someone gives me a label.
Hello. I'm Caroline. I am so many things. It's lovely to meet you.
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This is Connie now. I just want to say a big thank you to Cai for her post this week. Hopefully we will see a few more posts from her as time goes on. Apologies for the lack of posting last weekend. Had a RIGHT 'mare with my laptop, but luckily now my baby is fixed and all will be back to normal, I will be posting next in the New Year.

Happy Advent, and Happy Christmas :) 

To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!


Thanks, see you soon

X


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Happy to be Tired.

Right, so I'm 3 days into my new job (no I'm not going to stop talking about it yet) and, I kid you not, every part of my body is exhausted. I'm getting up before the sun rises in order to get to work on time, my legs burn from the amount of walking I've been doing in and around Hull and my neck and shoulders ache from being constantly poised at my desk so that I'm ready to spring into action if needed. It's all I can do once I get home to not collapse on the floor and fall asleep in the hallway! And I haven't even begun to express how tired my brain is. It's not used to this much thinking. I have no time at all to be a newbie; I have had to hit the ground running and haven't really stopped running since. It's stressful, confusing and I'm having to learn a lot VERY quickly. But I am the happiest I have been in a long time.

It might seem like those last two sentences don't really fit together, but honestly I'm happy to be this tired. You'd think that someone with anxiety and depression would want to avoid all things pressuring and stressful, and don't get me wrong, on my first day I was so anxious I had moments where I really wondered "can I do this?" The answer to that question is yes; yes I can. I might not know everyone's name or how everything works, but no-one does when they first start out. Everyone starts somewhere. Often having problems with mental health can mean people shy away from things, even the things they enjoy because they feel that they can't do it, aren't any good at it or because it seems too hard. I'm all for self care (I even dedicated my first post on this page to self care) but I am also about challenging myself. That doesn't mean I'm going to force myself to do something that will make me miserable, that'd be counter productive. However, I'm not going to do nothing either. The first step to recovery, is just to take a step. If you don't take any steps, you're just standing still. I don't know a single person who suffers from poor mental health who actively wants to remain where they are when they feel most affected. Whilst I know that everyone thinks, and therefore recovers differently, the thing that everyone has in common is that nothing changed for them until they did something different. 

For me, as I have said before, that something different included being honest with myself about how I felt, but it also meant pushing myself daily to get up and do something, anything. Sometimes the big challenge was leaving the house for a half hour just to go outside, other days it was something else. I celebrated everything I managed to do like it was a great achievement, and I celebrated the big things in exactly the same way. I was as proud of myself for doing the dishes as I was for climbing Kilimanjaro. It might sound daft but sometimes you need to treat your littlest victories like you've completed a mountain trek because both can be exhausting and difficult. 

Now just to clarify, I am not saying that my current job is like a 7 day climb up and down the largest mountain in Africa. What I am saying though, is that it has sometimes been hard. But like my climb in the summer of 2015 when I was exhausted and stressed and was thinking about the likelyhood of me actually dying on the side of this mountain in Tanzania, I will push myself to keep going, I will get better, and my footing will become stronger. Now, here in wintery Hull, I have managed to find something that I am good at, that I enjoy and that challenges me daily. And I encourage you to do the same. Find something that pushes you on. Find something that you don't mind being tired for. In fact, find something that makes you happy to be tired.




Happy Advent :) 



To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!


Thanks, see you soon

X

Sunday, 11 December 2016

It doesn't need to be Perfect...



"My biggest fault?... I'm a perfectionist" is a phrase you will never EVER hear me say. Of course, as someone with anxiety, sometimes I do like things to have a plan, order or in a familiar/particular place. But part of embracing my mental health issues and part of my process to get better has been to accept that everything isn't, can't be, and shouldn't be perfect. In all honestly I now find I find perfection in the imperfection. The little impurities make it more real, more personal. I like the experience of the real deal as opposed to the preened, perfected and impersonal. For example; in my last post you will see that I decorated the house I am currently living in in Hull for Christmas. It isn't perfect and after spending time with my two housemates finishing it all off by making the sparkliest paper chain  known to mankind which now WON'T BLOODY STAY ON THE WALL (totally over it, whatever, I'm cool) and larking around doing Christmassy things together stuff did go wrong, or happened in the wrong order or wasn't going the way I had initially planned. And that was okay! I still loved it, I had fun and now our wonky, slap-dash, mildly improvised but ultimately successful decorations and stuff make me happy every time I look at them. And I probably love them more than I would if I had forced my decorations to be 'perfect' and it probably would have been far more expensive and stressful.

My beautiful housemates <3

And I guess that's one of the best things about creativity, you might start off with an idea in your head about what you want but the end product, for whatever reason, can come out in a completely different way, often equal to or better than your original thoughts for it. Tomorrow I am starting my new job at the Hull City of Culture offices working as Press and Communications Assistant. I'm thoroughly honoured and excited to work there and with so many AMAZING people and to learn, develop and engage with the work that's being done both in the offices and in and around Hull. I am aware of some of the tasks that lie ahead of me and I can already feel my anxiety telling me that everything needs to be perfect or it won't be good enough. I'm already setting myself too high a standard so I will end up feeling like I've let myself and others down. I know that I'm not the only person who thinks like this so I'mma break this down for y'all as well as myself. It doesn't need to be perfect all the time. Embrace the messy. Thrive on the unexpected and roll with the imperfections. Of course you can work hard and produce the absolute best work you can, in fact you should always strive to do so. But sometimes, you need to let it all loose and let things happen organically. This thought actually popped into my head whilst I was baking last night with the two lovely ladies pictured above. We were decorating our Christmas cookies and we could have spent hours meticulously piping the icing, ensuring the designs were sharp and that each individual cookie looked pristine. But instead, we did this...


and I freaking loved it! We threw caution to the wind, did something different and it came out looking fab. It was far from perfect, it was random, messy, un-planned and a complete pain to clear up. 

When I planned for this post I had thought that I'd be writing about baking and having a C3 gals night in, not about letting control go and learning to not force perfectionism. Which, in itself is proof of what I'm trying to say. Sometimes the best work isn't perfect. Messy can be marvellous. I will always be the sort of person who works hard and I always like to ensure my work is of a high quality. But maybe I can learn to let some things go. Of course with somethings details are important, but human's aren't perfect and we shouldn't ever expect ourselves or others to be. Don't set an unrealistic standard for yourselves. Don't stress about everything being perfect. Embrace your imperfections.

I'm going to be working on something else new and exciting over the next few weeks and to fit in with this and my new job (have I mentioned that enough yet) I am changing my posting days during the week from a Tuesday to a Wednesday. SO please keep eyes out for posts every Sunday and Wednesday now as well as some teasers towards my new project!


Happy Advent :) 



To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!


Thanks, see you soon

X

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Can you be Kind and Honest?


If we're being honest 2016 wasn't the greatest year for a lot of people. Controversial and dividing politics split countries and communities of people in two, many of the worlds greatest humans passed away leaving us with other less admired people and a huge mess to clear up in their absence. All we seem to see in the news is how the world seems to be getting gradually worse. I have also noticed that, more than ever, internet trolls and genuinely mean people seem to be getting more and more attention and authority. I can barely open my laptop some days because of the comments I know I will see on articles or the blogs I read and that I will read something that will upset me. And so often these people excuse themselves, or their fans excuse them, because 'they're telling it how it is', 'it's just their opinion' or 'it's just a joke!' My question is, when did being unkind become equivalent to telling the truth?

When I was little, I used to make up stories all the time. I used to lie to try and get people to like me and to try an seem impressive. Luckily this was a trait I grew out of as I gradually gained the maturity and self esteem to know that the people I wanted to hang out with I didn't need to lie too to impress and get them to like me, and those who didn't like me or those who didn't think I was worth knowing weren't worth my time. And after my first year of university, where I lied about how I was doing and hid my true feelings, anxieties and thoughts so much that when I ended up putting myself in hospital it was a complete surprise to a lot of people, I decided I needed a new policy. I decided I needed to tell the truth whenever I could and if there was something I didn't what to say or share, I wouldn't lie, I would just keep silent. In my mind this wouldn't be a lie of omission, I just needed to know that I have the option not to tell everyone everything I think, feel or do. So nowadays, I am always as truthful as I can be; I'm honest and I try to be an open book. However, this does not mean that I am always unkind. I would hope that my friends and family would describe me as kind and compassionate, yes I can sometimes tease people and I have partaken in the occasional bit of banter, but I would never say anything to intentionally hurt someone and if I ever do hurt someone unintentionally I am always keen to apologise and to make things right. I know I'm not perfect and sometimes yes I can mess up and I can be mean, but I do know what is appropriate and I know boundaries. Which seems to be a skill that too many people are loosing.

And yet, sometimes, I look at what so many influential people are saying or doing and I can't help but think that if, for example, someone heard a child or a young person in school saying that to someone else they would be chastised and punished for behaving like a bully. There are too many 'grown ups' out there who in my mind are bullies. And no, it isn't funny to encourage violence or sexual assault, it isn't tough love to tell someone that it's their own fault they are homeless/unemployed/unwell/abused and it is never NEVER okay to see human kindness and compassion as a sign of weakness. In my opinion, it takes real strength to be both honest and kind. I think often when people use honestly or what they masquerade as honesty to bring others down, it shows themselves to be weak and vulnerable; lashing out to cause damage first before someone can lash out at them. Kindness, manners and showing love to others is vastly underappreciated. Showing kindness doesn't mean that you can't confront or challenge others, it just means that you do so with respect and from a place of love. Trust me, I have friends who I love dearly but sometimes I do need to get cross with them, or challenge them, and they do the same with me. It's how respect between peers works.

Lady Gaga recently said "Just be kind. The act itself, it's free. And it's priceless". I think this statement rings beautifully true. Being kind costs nothing, it doesn't take anything from you and the repercussions of an act of kindness can be phenomenal. Personally I have experienced random acts of kindness from friends or strangers which have transformed my day. You never know who you could be helping just by being nice. AND if you need more motivation to be kind, according to many successful business men and women nice people get to the top. If you are unkind, if you are mean people remember you as someone that they don't want to work with. You can be kind and business savvy. My granddad for example, a very successful business man and he is one of the sweetest men I have ever met. You can be kind as well as smart, successful and self aware. I think often people confuse kindness with naivety. I know this too isn't true, in my experience those who are the least kind seem to be the most naive and inexperienced.

I would never want to tell someone that their voice isn't worth hearing, or that someone shouldn't be honest about how they feel. Please, continue to think and debate and discuss things that are important to you. Just, don't be a dick about it. If you use common sense, or place yourself in someone else's shoes before you speak, you can still express your point of view but without lashing out, hurting people and just adding to the noise which can hurt more than one may realise. So guys, please, don't let the world make you mean. After this year, we could all do with a little more kindness. So do something nice for someone today. Don't be afraid to be kind.




Happy Advent :) 



To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie
and please subscribe to my page to see more of my posts, I will be writing something new every week!


Thanks, see you soon

X

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Getting Festive on a Budget.

Most people love the Christmas season, I know that basically everyone in my life does, and part of what makes that love so strong is that you are  surrounded by decorations that ornate your home and make it feel even more cosy and lovely. I LOVE decorating my house for Christmas, putting up the tree and the garlands and lights and baubles fills me with so much joy and is a huge part of my many Christmas traditions. Seeing my home decorated and Christmassy make me so happy because it makes me feel safe and reminds me of all the wonderful things I can celebrate and be thankful for. So even when I'm not in my family home, I like to make sure that wherever I am living is as decorated and Christmassy as possible. HOWEVER I have next to no money at the moment (lol grad life) so I have next to nothing to use to decorate my house and I had left all my usual 'uni digs' room decorations at home. I wasn't going to leave my current house un-adorned. So I set off, out into the city of Hull to decorate my home with a max budget of £40. Which, lets be honest, isn't that bad it just means I had to buy less wine for the next fortnight, which is probably a good thing. For everyone. 

Before I continue it is worth mentioning that most of the things that I bought or made are temporary decorations that I got for this year only. Most of that I used is stuff that can and will be thrown away once Christmas is over and anything else that I keep is something I know I will use elsewhere or at another time. For example; Baubles I will keep,store and re-use, anything made from paper I will throw away/re-cycle.

I managed to do quite a lot! Walking around Hull I found so many great stalls and shops which sold festive ornaments and craft materials and got to chat with some of the lovely store and shop workers too. It was great to share ideas and discuss how someone could use different tools and crafts to make really beautiful, but cheap and easy, decorations for your temporary home, maybe even your permanent home too.




After I gathered all I had it took me just over 4 hours to make, put up and finish everything. Although a few of my craft ideas did not turn out as I planned (they were a hot mess) a few turned out alright. My 3D newspaper tree looks great and looks like a Christmas decoration idea straight off Pintrest, and all it took was a newspaper, 2 staples, scissors and some tape. And once I hung my baubles (a tub for £5.50) on the wall surrounding it, I thought it looked even more festive and fun, definitely not something I had seen or done before. Our festive paper chains are going to be brilliant and my glittery flowers are a little slap-dash but still look quite cute. My main victory however is my gold, weathered champagne bottle which looks ace and is a simple but elegant way to display some Christmassy foliage. My best buy however has to be the branch or blue spruce which I bought from my local florists, Eden, which not only looks Christmassy especially with the bronze eucalyptus leaves and my faux poinsettia but also smells UH-MAZING. I managed to buy it for fairly cheap too so if you can I highly recommend buying some authentic woodland greenery because it looks and smells so good. 



Overall I am very pleased with how my house now looks. It isn't what I would do every year but it is perfect for where I am now. It's simple, it looks great, it wasn't expensive and don't need to worry about storing it as I can throw most of it away or recycle it after Christmas. And hopefully it will help make me, and my house mates, that little bit more cheerful and excited for the Christmas season. And who knows, maybe we can spend some time making the red, green and gold paper chains together. Because if we can gather and be happy at Christmas, when can we?...


Happy Advent :) 



To see more of my photos and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie


Thanks, see you soon

X