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

Continue reading

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!
Continue reading

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.


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.


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.


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!

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.

Continue reading

A Story and a Grovel

The past year hasn’t been the easiest for my family. In the winter of 2016, I was on the phone with my parents, when they first mentioned something might be wrong with my sister Jessie’s eyesight. My phone signal was bad, and I was on a break at work, so I didn’t really get the full message. I guessed she probably just needed glasses – most of us in my family do. 

It was only a few weeks later when I found out she had a referral to Moorfields Eye Hospital, that I really realised the severity of what was happening. By that time, her identical twin had also been to the optician’s and they had found similar symptoms with her – an unusual area on the back of her eye. It was the first of many appointments at Moorfields, one of the leading providers of eye health services in the UK. Each time, there was a little bit of hope that maybe it might not be that bad after all.  

I remember the day of their final appointment pretty well. This was the one where we would be getting a definitive diagnosis, as well as an idea of how severe it would be. I was meant to be in lectures for my Master’s, but I didn’t feel I could sit through it without panicking. As a distraction, I ended up heading to the cinema to watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – but when I left and headed to meet up with them post-appointment, the dread had set in again. 

When I got to their hotel, they gave me the news. They were both given a diagnosis of Stargardt’s Disease – something that we had suspected for some time. 

What is Stargardt’s Disease? 

Stargardt’s Disease is a recessive, genetic disorder, that causes fat to collect on the back of your eye – specifically, the central part of your retina, called the macula. It’s the most common form of inherited, juvenile macular degeneration, and symptoms commonly appear in childhood or during your teenage years but can go unnoticed until later in life. In the beginning, central vision becomes blurry and loses colour, before losing sight in that area completely. It is rare for those with Stargardt’s to become completely blind, but many are left with only peripheral vision. It typically starts slowly, before becoming more rapid and then tapering off in later years. 


Amy Eye

This is a picture of the back of Amy’s eye – the dark spot in the middle is a sign of macular degeneration.


The news broke our hearts, but obviously, the primary impact was felt by Amy and Jessica. They are both currently in their final year of university, and both previously took time out of their degrees because of poor mental health. The news came just as Amy was returning to her second year at Cambridge University to study Veterinary Science. Jessie was starting her year out from the University of Exeter, where she is studying Animal Behaviour. Both of their plans have had to drastically change following the news – Amy will not be able to practice as a vet (unlike doctors, vets must be able to conduct surgery, which you cannot do if you are visually impaired.) Jessie has always wanted to work with big cats but now has to decide what she can do with impaired vision. She recently had the opportunity to go to Africa with her university, which we made sure she could undertake – because we didn’t know if she’d be able to see them again. 

Doing things because we don’t know if Amy and Jessie will be able to see them again is a common thing at the moment. And not something we ever thought we would have to consider in our family. At the end of the day, we are glad that we are in a position as a family that we can make these things happen – we know some other people aren’t fortunate enough to have these opportunities. We’re a strong family unit, that can support them, and each other, through the uncertainty ahead. 

We will be taking part, as a family, in ‘Eye to Eye’, a sponsored walk raising money for the Moorfields Eye Charity. They support many individuals and families going through a similar experience, as well as funding new research that aims to make blindness a thing of the past. We are proud that as a family we can participate in an event like this to not only raise money for a worthy cause but raise awareness of sight problems like Stargardt’s.  

I understand that money is tight right now – no one has as much of it as they would like! But even a couple of pounds thrown in our direction can make a difference towards our goal of £600. So please, if you can, make a donation. We would really appreciate it – and it would make walking for nearly four hours (with my family) seem worth it! 

You can make a donation by clicking here.