Category: Life and Living

People with cancer do not “lose the battle”

Female hands holding a peach rose, with text the cancer "battle"

Last night, as we settled into bed, we saw the terribly sad news that a friend of ours had passed away. Chris had cancer. He died because of cancer.

But cancer did not beat Chris, and he didn’t lose the battle.

Sure, it’s only terminology, just words. But for the people left behind, experiencing the death and pain and emptiness, it’s important. At least it was to me, when my Dad died. I hate that anyone might think my Dad “lost”. That he didn’t fight hard enough, or long enough.

I feel the same now, talking about Chris.

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5 top tips for successful job hunting

Job hunting: Table and chair with laptop, mouse and a pair of glasses

I’ve been planning to share my job hunting tips for a while, but as I was still sans job it seemed ridiculous to be doling out advice!

The good news for me for the husband is that, 2.5 months since the end of my previous job, I now have a new one. All together now, hurrah! The timing is fantastic, because my redundancy payout is looking less healthy than it did, and with the colder weather coming I was dreading our heating bill with me being at home all day.

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5 top tips for dealing with job loss

Cup of coffeee, notebook and pen on wooden desk. Text: "dealing with job loss"

If you lose your job it’s easy to panic.

Then think “why me?”

Then go into mental freefall about how you’ll end up eating dust and wearing rags for the rest of your life.

(just me?)

But job loss is rarely the end of the world. As a great believer in fate (it means I don’t have to take responsibility for myself), there are ways to approach the situation that will hopefully help you to deal with it and feel much more positive.

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A bad day and the impossible task

I already knew last night that today was going to be a bad day.

“Why didn’t you do something pre-emptive to stop it then, you daft cow?” (those are my words, and maybe what you’re thinking too.)

Unfortunately it was too late. I was lying in bed, fretting, listening to the husband snore, reading a blog I’ve become ridiculously immersed in (I think I’m as far back as 2013 posts from this woman now; her family story is fascinating and her writing is really engaging and fun) and wondering why I couldn’t sleep despite my body feeling so so ready for slumber.

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7 books for 7 pounds? Yes please!

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Not for me a couple of pages before bed and taking weeks to finish a book. If I start a book I’m committed to it and I allow it to take over. I’m immersed in the story and the characters (assuming said book is well written) and I just NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Many a time on holiday we’ve been later than planned for lunch or dinner because I’m reading “just one more chapter” which we all know is nothing like one chapter and probably more like four.

When I was a kid we used to go to the local public library where you could only take out six books at a time. I used to pore over the shelves, thinking how best to use my meagre allocation and, by the time we got home, I was chomping at the bit to get started. It wasn’t unusual for me to read a book in one sitting, and I’d usually have got through all of them way before it was time to go back the following week.

As an adult I read less, due to time constraints and life getting in the way, but when I do read I still do so in the same way. Nose down, devouring the pages and feeling thoroughly engaged. If we’re on a relaxing holiday I like nothing more than spending the day at the beach or by the pool with a book for company. If we’re going on a holiday where there is little relaxing time because it’s all about sightseeing, I often choose not to take a book, even for the journey, because I know it will consume my thoughts and eat into my time when I should be out looking at what the world has to offer!

When e-readers became de rigeur, I was slightly appalled (I’d hate books to become extinct) but I could see their appeal – so many books in one lightweight easy to carry place; perfect for holidays where luggage allowance is needed for shoes! And so I bought one (a Nook, now extinct as a company) and I loaded it with all manner of tomes, and I read The Great Gatsby on it the first day I got it. Ebooks were cheap and easy to download and the reader had a really long battery life but I didn’t love it. I missed the smell, and the page turning, and seeing how much book you have left. I missed physical books.

There’s always at least one book on my Christmas list, which I may or may not get round to reading immediately! I always have a pile of physical books which I haven’t yet read, collected from one source or another. But I never buy books from new myself. Being the greedy reader that I am, it’s a really expensive way of reading, when there are much more economical options.

All hail charity shops.

Charity shops are a veritable feast of books – paperback, hardback, fiction, autobiography; they have everything you can imagine. Ranging from tatty and dog-eared (well loved, as I prefer to think of them) through to like new condition, it’s a great way to bring purpose to something that’s otherwise bound for the scrap heap AND support a good cause.

I know there are purists who argue that the author is missing out because they’re not getting the royalties from a new sale. In my case that’s not true at all. I wouldn’t buy the book brand new, so they’re not losing a sale. They’re gaining an audience, and an appreciator, and potentially a recommender who will talk about their works to other people, in real life or on social media.

My most recent find is our local Acorns Childrens Hospice charity shop. I say “find”, it’s in the village where I have lived for 12 years. I’m not usually out in the village having a mooch during shop opening hours though, so I rarely go in there. 2 weeks ago I popped in and came out with a couple of books (then another 4 from Oxfam).

More charity shop books

I started off by reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, which I really enjoyed. It was a very different protagonist to the usual type, and I did go through a stage a few chapters in where I didn’t like Eleanor very much and so I started to struggle with the book, but I’m glad I persevered.

Last week I went back to the charity shop and came out with 7 books! Charity shop prices for second hand books often depend on size or condition, but our local Acorns has a £1 per book policy across all paperbacks.

Charity shop books

One of these is completely unread with not a mark on it, and I’d say all of the others have been read once and are in immaculate condition. Total value of £55.93, all for £7!

The beauty of reading this way is that you can afford to step out of your comfort zone and try a genre or author you wouldn’t usually go for, because if you don’t like it you haven’t wasted a lot of money (well technically you haven’t wasted any money, as it’s gone to a good charitable cause). Also, once you’ve finished, you can donate them back to the charity shop of your choice, thus continuing their fundraising capability.

Are you an avid reader? Do you buy pre-loved books? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Friday Feeling [35] – a lesson in dignity

Kids go to school for an education – to learn about the world and better themselves in preparation for adulthood.

But what about when school is more than just a place to learn?

Some pupils in West Side High School, New Jersey, were being bullied because of their appearance; regularly turning up to school in dirty uniform. Other pupils would point them out and humiliate them.

Headteacher Akbar Cook can’t solve the problem of the students’ personal circumstances (in many cases they’re officially homeless, or don’t have access to facilities to keep their clothes clean), but he has helped to create a solution to the results of those circumstances, by converting an unused locker room into a free Laundromat available to all pupils. With a financial grant, and donations of laundry detergent from companies and local individuals, students can wash their belongings either independently, or with the help of an adult on hand to teach them.

The fact that these kids are in such poor situations, or that more fortunate students are bullying them because of it is a whole other post, but the thoughtfulness shown by Mr Cook is to be applauded. Well done that human!

Read the full story here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

5 things on my to do list while I’m “between jobs”

Garden leave is quite a strange animal, because technically I’m being paid to do nothing (thank you previous employer), but I feel a bit like I should be doing something.  That’s not to say I’ve been sleeping in most of the day and then sitting on my ass for the rest of it, but I do feel guilty for whiling away portions of time on mindless stuff, even though I’m entitled to take a break and I’m still earning money and paying my bills.

That said, here are some targets I’ve set myself to complete while I’m off. All attainable; some more serious than others!

1 – Get a job

Although it goes without saying, this has to be number one on my list. I’ve been scouring job listings, set up job alerts to be notified of new roles that are of interest to me, and registered with some agencies. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I don’t have to jump into the first thing that comes along, and I want to find a role that is right for me, right for my CV and right for my future, but I also appreciate that “the perfect job” doesn’t exist and I’ll probably need to make some sacrifices.

2 – Give the blog a makeover

This little old corner of the internet has existed in its current incarnation for almost 3 and a half years, and while I’ve remained (fairly) consistent with writing content, I haven’t paid any attention to it’s appearance. A couple of years ago I went self hosted, but it was right around the time my Dad got very sick, and then he died, and I just didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with the new stuff, so I carried on using free WordPress and just let the other subscription lapse. Now I have lots of time on my hands so a shiny new theme is in order at the very least. Also thinking of upgrading to paid WordPress for more flexibility, analytics, etc so any tips gratefully received!

3 – Watch all of the Harry Potter films

Bit of a light hearted one this! I took my sister to Harry Potter World for her 21st birthday back in March and, up until 4 days before, I hadn’t seen 1 film! So I binge watched the first 3 and off we went.

Making of Harry Potter

The visit was magical (I must do a blog post about it) but obviously there were things I didn’t really understand. I intended to watch the rest of the films straight afterwards, but then summer came and time ran away with me. Now is the time to scratch that itch! (I think I may rewatch the 3rd one too, as I got quite confused). I may even read the books as well.

4 – Finishing unpacking from when we moved house

We’ve lived in our house for 15 months now, and we still haven’t finished unpacking. Before you judge me though (I know I would!) for the first 7 months we were squished into a 2 bedroom apartment that was smaller than our old flat while our building work was completed, and then we were so excited at living in our new space after Christmas that we just put it on the back burner! Now, part of me thinks if stuff has been in storage for 15 months and we haven’t missed it then perhaps we just throw it all away BUT some of the bags are full of my shoes, which means it will be like shopping my own wardrobe, which is technically saving money – very important when you don’t have a job! I actually have a partial tick against this “to do” already, as last week I finally sorted out the big bedroom (which used to be the lounge when it was an apartment) – we’ve been lazy chilled out and sleeping in what will be the guest bedroom up until this point. Now we have oodles of space, a king size bed and 3 windows!

Here’s how it looked before (check out the 90s curtains and brass fittings!)

Old lounge

Old lounge 2

And here’s how it is at this moment in time (yes I have a purple leopard and zebra print duvet cover, what’s it to ya?!)

Current bedroom

There’s still stuff to do, like paint the fireplace, change the carpet, and choose the furniture, but it’s good to finally be in there.

Next on the list is the small bedroom (which will be the husband’s music room for all his CDs and guitars) and the utility room which used to be the kitchen.

5 – Go on holiday

Now this might seem like a very indulgent “to do” for someone who isn’t working but, in my defence, it’s been booked since this time last year. And it’s a “special” holiday – to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We’re flying to Athens for 3 nights and then to Santorini for a week and I’m super excited.

Santorinilead-xlarge

We’ve been talking about going to Santorini since we got together 13 years ago, so it’s been a long time coming, and it was on a travel bucket list post I shared a couple of years back – Athens was on part two of that list where I pondered combining both destinations in one trip. On the basis of ticking them off, I’ll need to replace them and write a new travel bucket list post, right?

What’s on your “to do” list for the next few weeks?

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

 

Friday Feeling [34] – making a (small) difference

Before I had my (unplanned) hiatus from blogging I wrote a post about wearing a bikini (you can read it here).

I think, as women, many of us have insecurities about our bodies and how they look, which are mainly brought on by what we see in the media and the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves as a result.

So imagine how chuffed I was when one of my followers – Tamsyn from blog Leather and Glitter – tagged me in her instagram honeymoon photos to tell me she’d worn a bikini on her honeymoon BECAUSE OF MY BLOG POST!!!

Wore a bikini

You can probably imagine how amazing that made me feel. It’s such lovely feedback and I really appreciate Tamsyn letting me know, so I could have all the warm and fuzzies.

If you want to see Tamsyn’s honeymoon photos you can check her out on Instagram here (there are no bikini shots though!) and it’s also worth pointing out that she made her own wedding dress, with her own fair hands, which you can also see on Instagram and read more about on her blog.

Have you ever had blog feedback that’s given you that Friday Feeling?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x