30/12/2016

Snuggling, Kittens, and Resolutions

Hi, I hope you had a lovely Christmas! I'm writing this just before packing up my stuff to head to the Cotswolds to stay with a friend for New Years. I can't wait to see her and to catch up with others, but must admit I'm sort of ready to go back to work now too! Weird I know.

There haven't been any other posts this month because I've been a little distracted. The thing I've been distracted by is a man and the reason there have been no posts is because I've been wondering if this one might turn out to be an actual thing. Writing about random dates is one thing but once you're past that third date mark how do you honestly write about your experience whilst still dating the person?

I guess the first step is a pseudonym. Let's just call this guy ... Harry Potter dude, or HP for short. This stems from the fact that he was lucky enough to be an extra in all the Harry Potter films, which is obviously amazing and should definitely have been what he led with on his profile. In fact our first date was to see the Fantastic Beasts film, followed by lunch and shopping for a Christmas tree and decorations for his new house. I mean ... it might have been my perfect date ... except for the fact that he recently suggested I go kitten shopping with him in the new year. KITTEN shopping, come on!

28/11/2016

Gilmore Girls Revival: A Somewhat Cynical Review


Today it is 3C outside and my plan (having not set my alarm and still only managed to sleep til 8:30 ...) is to finally watch the new Gilmore Girls. Not gonna lie, I've been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. It's slightly bittersweet though, half of the anticipation was about watching and dissecting it with my fellow geek who was equally in love with these girls, their sweet town, and odd lives. Much like the Stars Hollow seasons are about to roll by though, they've scooted past in real life too and now I'm in my jim jams, watching it with only a hot chocolate, a pack of marshmallows, and emergency emotional sideswipe kleenex for company. So, dear internet, I figured I'd whack my commentary on this here blog, as I watch. It's a lazy post to be sure but I was so looking forward to it, until it came to watching it without my equally obsessed person, that I'm feeling a little sad about the whole thing honestly, so here goes (spoilers ahead ... obviously):

07/11/2016

Photomarathon Sheffield 2016: My Kind of Marathon


On Saturday 8th October I was one of the lucky 150 amateur (that’s me) to professional photographers that got to take part in Sheffield’s inaugural Photo Marathon. Put simply the brief was to take six photos, on six topics, in six hours. Phones or digital cameras could be used (I used my phone), and the photos had to be taken in order of the topics, which presented a unique challenge. The six topics were based on the theme of making, to complement Sheffield’s Year of Making 2016 which has been showcasing Sheffield’s creative community city wide this year. The topics were, in order: Making Shapes, Making a Noise, Making History, Making a Meal, Making Connections, and Making Faces.
Prizes were given for the Winner, Runner Up, and the special pick by Our Favourite Places for each topic (which you can browse here), but the photos of everyone who entered are currently being exhibited in the Millennium Gallery and you should absolutely check it out. So interesting to see Sheffield captured in one day, from so many perspectives.

02/10/2016

Too Fat to be Fit?


Since late 2015 I have been losing weight, at first because I wanted my body to be acceptable to someone else, then because I almost stopped eating for a month, convinced my body had been found wanting. Eventually it almost became a project, a way of controlling and spurring on my ascension out of depression. I found myself thinking, "OK, I lost weight for nothing ... I will not now carelessly gain it all back for nothing too. This I can salvage, this I can control." That last one sounds a little healthier than the preceding two reasons perhaps, but really it was the worst of all. I had declared all my progress so far as nothing, as useless and a waste of time, and my motivation now was simply to never be that weak-willed, unlovable thing again. To lose weight until I had put a large enough distance between me and the body that had failed me.

26/09/2016

A Letter to Myself, Part Two. - Lessons Learnt -


Dear Ellie of September 2015,

Sorry about that warning in my previous letter … but as promised, you are also going to learn some things which make this mostly OK.

If you’d like to know how you feel about this mess, three months later, I’d say the overwhelming feeling is one of tiredness, but the can’t-stop-crying-and-everything-is-hopeless phase is over, pretty much. This is mostly because your stomped-on, battered heart has been forced to take a nap in the back seat and your brain has taken the wheel. In all fairness your brain is still following a rather sketchy map but we’re moving forwards in fits and starts nonetheless, instead of driving in circles blinded by tears and edging closer to a cliff. Go you!

So, from a slightly wiser and jaded Ellie to a younger, wide-eyed and hopeful soul, all I can say is that this is part of your story now, your book, and you have to learn from it. If you don’t then someday a man will like you and you will use him in the exact way you have been, you’ll end up passing on your pain to someone else and you'll hate yourself for it. So, this is what you have learnt thus far, these are your hopes now:

23/09/2016

The Sea & Me: A Weekend in St Ives


The sea and me (it rhymes OK, which pleases me, even if it’s not grammatically correct) have always had a pretty deep and meaningful thing going on. I'm never unhappy to see it, be by it, in it, or on it, at least not so far in my life. I may of course be pitched into it unexpectedly some day and then I probably won’t be so complimentary. When I know I'm about to spend some time by the sea though, I can physically feel the tight coil of anxiety in me, unfurling. So this weekend, spent in St Ives with my twin sisters and brother-in-law, was just what I needed. Apart from reuniting with my all-time love, I also managed to take a fair few photos. Head over to my Instagram if you’d like to check out more of them but otherwise here are a few of my favourites with an account of what we got up to.

05/09/2016

A Letter to Myself, Part One.



Dear Ellie of September 2015, 

Something a little brutal is about to happen to you, so I'm just giving you a warning.

You know that tall, kind, and funny guy, whose smile makes your stomach flip? The one you've been geeking out with for years now and who you've often flirted with because you believed he'd never look at you like that? The one who you feel for and want to console because he is so angry and disillusioned with relationships after his break up? Well he's about to see you, the real you. You're going to think he likes you but it's not going to be as you hoped, I'm so sorry. You're going to wish this one had stayed unrequited like the rest but months after it ends, you're going to come to realise a few things that will make you feel a little better, I promise.

01/09/2016

Music is a Minefield



I have to thank Spotify for allowing me to keep revamping my music selection. My method of collecting is to listen to my new Discover Weekly playlist and to add anything I like to my "Anything and Everything" master playlist (and then immediately spam the privileged few in my life with my latest finds). This means I have about 39 hours of songs, listed chronologically, that caught my mood at any given point in my life over the past 6 years. Like an archaeologist, examining the strata of my past, I can see where it was Summer or Winter, where I was happy or solemn but all of these songs have spoken to me in one way or another and so they are welcome in my collection. I never expected my music to turn on me though.

05/08/2016

Touching Bottom & Talking to Stars



It was Savasana that sealed the yoga deal for me.

It is a running joke now, before a yoga session, that we just want to skip straight to lying on the floor. On some days we do actually start in that pose, before coming back to it at the end, and the quiet sigh of relief or amusement that ripples through the room makes me chuckle. Savasana or “Corpse Pose” is definitely the best part of the hour, except maybe when a new, particularly funny and twisty pose is introduced. It provides an opportunity to do absolutely nothing except acknowledge that you’re here, in the moment, and that you’re OK. It is also the one constant feature of the sessions, however difficult it has been *I’m looking at you plank*. It is always eventually time for Savasana. (More philosophically ... it's literally eventually time for Savasana for us all ... unless you're planning to be cremated in which case this analogy is useless to you and I apologise for its poor construction!)

There is an element of guided meditation to the pose, a process of asking each part of the body to release tension so you feel rooted to the floor and perfectly at ease. I'm naturally suspicious of anything vaguely religious or spiritual but I'm 100% willing to give meditation a pass. Even so, I usually zone out a little after the limb by limb guided relaxation part, allowing my thoughts to gently drift. In one of my recent sessions though, my teacher had calmly talked us through the process of asking the body to relax and went on to say something very simple, “most of the time where we are is OK, it’s not so bad” and this stuck with me. I opened my eyes and gazed upwards, to the roof of the scout hut where we practise. Coloured bunting, like prayer flags, were strung across the rafters and I considered the truth of what she’d said. I was warm, healthy, loved, and lying comfortably on a wooden floor, in a lovely city surrounded by green hills and under a gorgeous blue sky. More than that, in this absence of action, my anxiety had not begun to creep through my nervous system. The worries were there, but somehow just … unimportant.

02/08/2016

Food, Thighs and TMI


My body and I have always had an odd relationship, for the majority of my life I have considered it to be a means of transportation for my brain. Even looking back at pictures recently, from various points in my teens and early adulthood, I was struck by the fact that I know that at every point I thought I was bigger than I actually was. This was largely because at the age of 12 I had already decided that I was overweight (I wasn't, I was tall and a bit chubby), unpopular, and that no boy could possibly want me. It was beyond the realms of reality for me, it just wasn't going to happen. Of course, with thoughts like that painted across the walls of my mind, it didn't. I gained weight year on year and because I'd already decided I was unloveable, and that I didn't need anyone anyway, I did nothing about it. I retreated into books and unrequited crushes and pretended really hard that I was ok with being alone, that I was in fact stronger for it.

27/07/2016

I am the sky



I wake up and look at my phone, it's 5.30 am, which is better than 5 am the day before or 4:30 am the week before. A quick calculation however tells me that if I don't get back to sleep, which is unlikely since the dawn light is already seeping through my curtains, then I still have 3 hours before I need to leave for work.

My brain immediately begins to spin these hours into an eternity and a whimper escapes from my throat as I feel the now familiar bulk of Loneliness pressing me down into the bed. Adrenaline flows through my arms and knees as my stomach is hollowed out and silent screams rush in to fill the void. My mind is urging me to fight or to flee from this feeling but all I know, in that moment, is that someone else is required to fight this and there is no one here.

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