Camp NaNoWriMo 2020

I used to love writing. Scratch that – I still love writing. But a lot like my love of reading, it’s rather fallen to the wayside in recent years. I put this down to many factors; a large amount of writing during my studies, the large amount of writing in my work, and the allure of a good boxset. But it’s been on my mind for a little while, and I’ve been struggling to get back into writing despite my best efforts.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and an email from NaNoWriMo drops into my inbox. And just like that, I realise that’s the motivation I need to get back into writing, and I click through to sign up for this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo.

Blue and Green banner saying Camp Nanowrimo 2020 writer

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Catching Up on 2020: How am I doing on my goals?

What weird times we are now living in! When I first wrote my list of goals back in January, I never would have suspected a global pandemic to turn up – although who would have done? One of the few positives to come out of it is I have the opportunity to look at what I’ve achieved so far this year and work out what progress I can make on my goals during this extended lockdown. One thing I’ve been really struggling with so far (as I’m sure many others have as well) is trying to remain motivated to do things without a structure around my day. So I’m hoping that taking this moment to remind myself of my goals will help me come up with lots of plans for the next few weeks! Click below to keep reading about my 2020 so far.

Here’s a reminder of my goals for 2020!
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Looking Forward to 2020

I can’t believe that 2020 is here already! The last year has been a real journey, with many unexpected twists and turns. I underwent my third course of therapy, targeting my underlying self esteem and anxiety issues and ended the year on no antidepressants, for the first time in seven years. My new found confidence in myself held me steady through a number of changes at work, including my whole team at work being made redundant and me starting 2020 without at full-time job! My chronic pain continues to me a daily occurrence, with no sign of a diagnosis, but I’ve learnt to manage the pain better and keep a check on the expectations I hold for myself. And there’s been lots of love and laughter along the way.

But, this post isn’t about looking back at 2019, it’s about looking forward to the rest of 2020! I didn’t set any goals in 2019, but I wanted to set some for the year ahead to help guide me as I navigate the next little chapter of my life. Keep reading to find out more about each goal and how I’m going to achieve it.

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Day in the Life with Chronic Pain

I’ve briefly written before about my chronic pain, but it feels like time to give you all a little insight into how this impacts my daily life. While my pain levels and fatigue vary day to day, I try to maintain a steady routine – although obviously it does vary if I’m just too tired or in too much pain! So, if you’ve ever wondered what the day of a tired and achy Marketing Officer looks like, here’s your chance to find out.

Morning

I generally wake up between 7 and 8am. Some days I’m lucky and am well rested and ready to jump into my day, but more commonly I then spend an hour rolling around in bed, snuggling with Roxy and drifting in and out of sleep. I do a lot of stretching in the morning as well, trying to get all my joints warmed up after eight hours lying in one position (well, hopefully eight hours). Once actually awake, I drag myself to the shower and get dressed. I used to only ever shower in the evening, but the brief break from my back pain that the hot water gives me is essential for me to be able to leave my flat in the morning – especially now it’s getting colder outside! So now I make time for an honestly far too long shower to set my day up right.

Sometimes I then have time to have breakfast, but more often I have to grab something during my commute to keep me going. I try to leave for work by 8.30am, so if I haven’t gotten out of bed by 8, I don’t have time for a luxurious breakfast!

My commute varies day to day – there is a train station right by my flat, so on days when I’m feeling quite achy or fatigued, I get the train into town from there. It’s expensive though, so I try to stick to getting the Underground where possible. I often will get the bus to the station, but as I’m trying to increase my daily activity (prevents the arthritis from getting worse!) I will sometimes walk, especially when the weather isn’t too bad. It’s also good for my mental health to have a nice relaxing walk in the morning!

Once I’m on a train, I’ve been trying to read more – while I haven’t set a goal to read more this year, I am trying to continue my good work from last year! But sometimes I just play games on my phone while listening to podcasts. I normally take five minutes to check my work email ahead of time as well, to delete all the junk mail I get and have an idea of what’s awaiting me when I get to the office.

I generally get into work between half 9 and 10 (depending on if I stopped for breakfast on the way). The first thing I do most days is take some painkillers – I think in the back of my mind I’m still optimistic that the pain will go away on it’s own after a little while, even though that has literally never happened. I also take my other daily medication at 10am each day. Then I grab my first cup of tea for the day to get a little caffeine boost!

My morning is typically spent responding to emails, catching up on news that may be relevant to our organisation, and queuing social media posts for that day and beyond. I try to keep any short, easy tasks to the morning – I am not a morning person by any definition, and anything that requires a lot of creative thinking needs to wait until the afternoon! Depending on what’s happening at work, that can include listing events, gathering data and collecting media to go with social posts.

Afternoon

I typically have lunch at around 1pm (to be honest, normally eaten at my desk). After lunch and I’m a bit more awake, I move onto more ‘brain intensive’ work. This includes developing our social media strategy, writing and editing copy and any little graphic design jobs that need doing.

The only exception to this pattern is on a Wednesday I take a quick break at 3pm and head downstairs to our Disability and Inclusion programme. I drive the minibus to the local school to collect our young people and and bring them into the building for a fun arts session with our team. I really love these little escapes, because it gives me an opportunity to remember and see first hand the benefits of the work my organisation does. I also work with this group every other Saturday, working with a small group of young people with disabilities each week, helping them develop skills through activities such as music making, artwork, drama and, of course, playing games.

Evening

On a normal day, I leave the office at about 6 and head off my commute home. When I get home at 7, Roxy is always waiting by the door for me, eager to get her first evening snuggle in. Or to tell me that she’s run out of food, or there’s a weird bug on the floor, or that her litter tray has moved one inch to the left. But it’s usually for a snuggle.

Once the cat has been pampered, I get on with cooking my dinner and normally settle in front of the TV for a little bit. On a work night, I don’t generally get much housework done – I’m so tired by 8 o’clock that it seems an impossibility – but I do potter around a little bit and get some stuff done when I can. I also almost always phone my parents in the evening – essential for my mental health, even if they’re really fed up it at this point. But I need the evening check in to either reassure them that I’m fine, or them to reassure me that I’m fine.

Other evening activities include hours scrolling on the internet, practising the cello and occasionally, playing video games. But mostly, unless there’s something with a time limit on it meaning I have to finish it that night, I’m in bed by 10 o’clock. Long gone are my pre-fatigue days of staying up till 1am!

Bedtime is another time for Roxy snuggles, and she’s almost always right behind me, ready to jump on my pillow. I try to take a moment to record my daily pain (where it was and how bad it was) so that I can get better at looking for patterns. I then sometimes read some more of my book, but if I’m really tired I just put a podcast on and tend to drift off before the sleep timer runs out.

And then the whole cycle starts again the next morning!

I’d love to hear what your day to day life looks like! Let me know in the comments – or even better, make your own post about your daily routine and link to it!

Walking the Catwalk: A Guide to Walking Your Cat

I’ve had a bit of a reputation in my old neighbourhood. Not one that I particularly thought was bad, but I guess that really depends on your opinion.

I was the cat walker.

Roxy and I would regularly take to the streets for a walk. Or whatever it’s called when your cat is on a lead, taking three steps beyond the end of the drive before running back to the front door. And repeating that action over and over again until you eventually gave up and took her inside, when she would then sit by the front door waiting to go back out.

Our new neighbourhood is by quite a busy road, so I don’t take Roxy out as often – but I still have a whole load of knowledge about taking your cat out on a lead, and I’m now going to share it with you!

Anyone whose ever taken their cat for a walk will tell you it’s nothing like walking a dog. Dogs will follow you where you want to go. When you walk a cat, you’re very much subject to their whims. A leaf blows across the pavement? Be fully prepared to chase that leaf. Find a nice smelling bush? Be fully prepared to stand by that bush for five minutes while your cat gives it a good sniff. Or maybe your cat has a crazy five minutes and decides to race off up the road? You’ll be running after it as fast as you can.

On one of my recent walks with Roxy, we came across a group of squirrels in the park. While Roxy is fairly well behaved and didn’t chase after them, they had a hypnotising effect on her. She stood stationary for fifteen minutes just watching as they got up to their usual antics – and I had to stand there with her.

It’s an unusual experience, but not one I’m going to give up any time soon. For a start, the benefits for Roxy are obvious. As an indoor cat, going for a walk means she gets to experience the outdoors safely. I’m there to stop her from running in front of any cars while she chases birds to her heart’s content. Plus, it lets her work off some excess energy.  Even if it doesn’t feel far for me, she’s got such little legs it must be the equivalent of a marathon on days when we actually make it to the end of the road.

And it’s not just Roxy who feels the benefits. There’s some relaxing about taking her for a walk and being forced to stop and, sometimes literally, smell the roses. It gives me time to just relax. And it gives purpose to my walk; in the past, taking Roxy out was the only thing to motivate me enough to leave the house. Whilst this isn’t true anymore, it’s certainly a good incentive sometimes.

Our Top Five Tips

If you want to feel the benefits of cat walking, here’s a couple of tips from me and Roxy:

  1. Be patient. 

    I really lucked out with Roxy. When I put her first harness on her, I don’t think she really noticed. She kept running around like nothing had happened. This is extremely rare. It’s highly recommended that you build up to walks slowly. Start with your cat just wearing their harness around the house. Then attach the lead. Give them time to get used to this. Only when they’re completely comfortable should you take them outside.

  2. Don’t force it. 

    Even with all the patience in the world, some cats just don’t want to be walked. Maybe they don’t like the harness, maybe they get outside and just sit terrified. Maybe you’re dragging them along behind you while they refuse to walk (Please don’t do this.) You know your cat, you know when they’re unhappy. I have attempted to walk five cats in my life; Roxy is the only one who has taken to it. If they don’t like it, don’t force it. It’s not worth the extra stress you’ll be causing by forcing them to do something they clearly don’t want to do.

  3. Stay safe. 

    This applies to both you and your cat. Stay alert; keep an eye out for oncoming cars, approaching dogs, sharp objects on the pavement. You’re not just trying to protect yourself, you’re protecting your cat too. If the area where you live just isn’t suitable for walking your cat, consider going to a local park or a quieter street before letting them out their carrier.

  4. Encourage good behaviours. 

    Roxy has always been a door runner. The second I turn the handle she’s trying to get out. But after months (and I mean months) of trying this little trick, she’s starting to get the message; She is not allowed to walk out of the door, even when she’s on her lead. I pick her up, take her out of our flat, walk down the two flights of stairs to outside, and then put her on the ground. And on the way back inside, I do the same. Carry her from door to door. And then she gets a treat because I’m not a complete monster.

  5. Have fun! 

    A cheesy one I know, but still important. You’re getting to spend time with your fur baby. You’re spending time outside. You get to self-deprecatingly laugh along with passers-by. Embrace it.

18 in 2018: End of Year Review

Wow, really haven’t done one of these in a while. If you missed my post explaining why I haven’t kept up with blogging, you can read it

here

. There’s still a few days of 2018 left, but as I’m off on holiday, I’m coming to you a little early with a final update of my year’s goals.

So, let’s jump right into it, shall we?
Full disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you make a purchase on Amazon after using the links in this post, Roxy and I get a little kickback, helping us keep the website running

My Rheumatologist and I

Rhuma copy

I have tried a couple of times to sit down and write my end of the month reviews, but each time I’ve hit a wall. Quite simply, I haven’t been thinking much about the goals I set myself at the beginning of the year – I haven’t had time. For the past year now, I’ve been going back and forth with my doctor about some long-term chronic fatigue and pain I’ve been experiencing, and in the past few months, I’ve finally been getting seen, while the symptoms have still been worsening.

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How I Managed to Spend No Money for Seven Days

My Post
As I’m preparing to go into July’s no-spend week, I thought it might be interesting to some people to get a little insight into how I make it work! These weeks, as well as stretching my money a little further, have really opened my eyes about my relationship with money (namely the number of times a week I think about spending it on things I really don’t need).

So, if you’d like to get some similar insights or make similar savings, but don’t know where to start, keep on reading.

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18 in 2018 June Review

July is here, and we are in the middle of The Worst Heatwave here in the UK. I am beyond fed up with it at this point. But I’m trying to push that all aside and get some more progress towards my goals under my belt!
Adobe Spark (10)
Full disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. When you make a purchase on Amazon after using the links in this post, Roxy and I get a little kickback, helping us keep the website running

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