Sometimes things go wrong and it’s just what you need 


The past three months have been a rollercoaster ride of very grown-up feeling stuff going wrong, getting better and repeating. We started 2017 with plans to move away to an entirely new place. We had the house, had the ideas and had it sort of mapped out. I thought it was right and that it was time and I built it up to be something it never would have been. 

Then it all went wrong, turned into a giant mess and eventually the whole thing got scrapped. 

I can’t explain how delightfully thrilled I am about that. 

It’s amazing how much you realise you didn’t want something until it’s called off and cancelled.

I know now I’m not doing it that my choice to wave goodbye to London and buy a quaint little house by a river big enough for a family I don’t yet have was because it felt like that’s what other people were doing. I felt like I should do it because it was responsible. It was sensible. It was something to grow into and decorate and change and get used to and just to learn to fit in.

When it all fell apart we took serious stock of what was happening with our lives and I realised that I just did not want it. I wanted to live near people I know. I wanted to be in London (well, the outskirts cos y’know, I’m not a billionaire) and I wanted to live somewhere I actually liked. 

All I really want right now is to able to commute quickly, feel comfortable, have space to myself and get a grip on the next big challenge – and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

I don’t know why I felt the need to press fast forward a hundred times like my life depended on it, but it did not do me any favours. 

I had this feeling that I’d be judged or deemed behind the masses or some other strange, unrealistic emotion that I can’t quite explain. I don’t even know who I felt like I had to answer to. There’s no person, no group of people, no conversation that I can blame. I think it was just the curse of seeing so much of other people’s lives online and getting blinded by it all on top of being a bit of a bully to myself. 

The whole situation worked out way better than I could ever have imagined. Something that felt like a disaster turned into a saviour. 

I’m fully excited for the rest of 2017 and what we’ve decided to do. I certainly now appreciate that spending a year working bloody hard and saving harder wasn’t done to feel unsure and anxious, it was to make life better. 

So here’s to not going through with stuff that doesn’t come from the heart and to an exciting next few months. 

Adoration for the most average weekends

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I adored the weekend just gone (please come back) yet I did absolutely nothing special during it. I didn’t go out out, I didn’t do anything to my hair or put on much make up, I didn’t celebrate anything, go shopping, drink wine or try anything new apart from putting cheesy nachos inside a fajita which was a dream come true.

Happiness at the weekend can still be dancing until 4am, trying to phone the ‘Night Tsar’ on a help phone at Bank tube station and getting in round after round of Cafe Patron. All of that is still fun, I still like doing it and I get genuinely excited about the prospect of going out somewhere which requires me to think about my choice of shoe and sharpen my eyeliner, but there’s a whole new contented feeling in town come 5pm on a Friday.

These days, weekend satisfaction and all round happy feelings include:

-Cleaning things with bleach that smell like citrus fruits and then commenting on how fresh everything is for the rest of the day.

-Homeware shopping online until I realise I don’t need any of it, saving a few links and then repeating the next day.

-Walking. Walking anywhere with water, trees, ideally swans and maybe a nice photogenic bridge.

-Not sleeping in. The me of five years ago wants to slap the me of right now hard around the face and throw a glass of water over me, but it’s true. Being dressed, functioning and coherent outside of the house by 9am makes me feel like I’m coasting through life as opposed to the desperately treading water and shaking my head feeling I have most of the time.

-Drinking enough wine to feel warm and fall asleep easily and doing it because FRIDAY, but not so much that I wake up and need to stick my head out of a window at 7am and do the ‘phone, keys, bank cards, ID’ bag check that follows a heavy evening. (I haven’t actually had to do this in so long and I sort of miss it but also NO).

-Being able to get in on a Saturday afternoon and stay in where there will be no wind, no rain, no chance of being failed by public transplant, no queues, no general public and no need to have clean hair.

I know the ‘being a granny’ in your 20s thing is hardly groundbreaking but being a bit boring and predictable has never felt better. I also think that after a long time and very up and down 12 months, I’ve finally embraced a better mindset and a rosier outlook, which makes lovely weekend all the more lovely.

One trip back to university, several realisations

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The past few weeks haven’t been what I would call a great time. They’ve been long, stressful, sleep deprived, frustrating and largely disappointing and I’ve needed reminding almost constantly that the glass should always be half full. I haven’t had the time or spare energy to maintain any hobbies, including this blog and my beloved running/exercise regime has been non-existent. Gloomy Lauren is gloomy.

However, I am refusing to let stress and all the non-joy that comes with big adult decisions and processes ruin any more of this year. You will be a good year 2017. You bloody will. (I guess I’ll have to also work on not watching the news 24/7 to make myself believe it’ll be a good year).

With all the stuff we’ve had going on, the trip I took back to uni with Dan about a week ago hasn’t really come back to the front of my mind until now. We were asked by an old tutor of ours who we’re still in contact with if we would come back and take part in an audit of the department we studied under for our journalism degrees, which we happily agreed to. We both had, and I think I speak for most of my good university friends from my course here, a really good higher education experience. We loved our course, had sociable tutors and lecturers, a great balance of practical work and theory and brilliant people to learn with. Obviously this was all helped along massively by VK Pineapple, cocktails from saucepans, mass sleepovers and many Thursday nights spent watching indie bands and dancing til 2am. It was better than I had ever imagined uni would be when I was younger and getting stressed about filling in UCAS forms online and being put on hold by student finance for all of eternity.

Going back last week meant walking through the town we spent so much time aimlessly wandering, past the pubs we spent more money than we had in and then all the way through the campus. It was weird. More than weird actually, and the nostalgia level was through the roof. Peering into the canteen we used to buy coffee from and passing the courtyards we sat in and rooms we learnt in felt like a trip to someone else’s life. Like something that happened to someone you know really well from hearing stories over and over again- it just didn’t feel like that person was me. I guess that happens over time and especially when so much has changed. As part of the audit we were asked about our jobs, how life is panning out, what we took away from the course and carried with us into post-uni life and about how ready we felt to take on the real world after graduation.

What it really gave me, apart from a glass of good red wine and chance to go back to my old pub haunt and feel outraged that it’s now gastro and fancy, was a chance to remember I’ve done okay. The start of 2017 has felt so frustratingly lame compared to what we had imagined, that I started to feel like nothing in my life was what I wanted which is a slippery slope to start falling down. This little trip down memory lane helped me realise that I am a functioning adult with a good job and I no longer drink from saucepans (sadly) because I’ve built a life and a career and for the most part, things have gone smoothly. I just need patience and deep breaths and a sunnier outlook on the rest of this year and I think everything will be fine. Thanks KU for the degree and the friends and the great cheese baguettes and for still letting me know that life is good all these years later.

I had a really terrible day and I’m glad it happened

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Last week I had a succession of really bad days. They just kept on coming and even though it was only six days, it felt like months. I was feeling angry for my mum who’s recovering from a big operation and was stuck in a house without heat or a shower thanks to our boiler breaking and the insurance failing to sort it out. I had a headache from feeling stressed, I was living out of hotel rooms due to the boiler fiasco, I was trying to deal with house and mortgage stuff and I also had pain in every joint of my body from sleeping in uncomfortable beds and carrying heavy bags around. Woe. Is. Me.

The really bad day was the Friday. I hadn’t been able to wash my hair in three days so I was strolling round London looking like a greasy, sad alien and feeling VERY sorry for myself. I also dropped some chickpea stew on my brand new jumper, stubbed my toe on a desk and woke up with loads of spots. It was really, really glamourous and I am as shocked as you are that I’m now not an international super model.

I don’t like being in a bad mood, not that anyone does, but I just hate that feeling of being stuck in a grumpy rut when all you’re good for is being alone and going to bed. On this day though, after a really bad week, I revelled in this bad mood. I actually started to enjoy how many things were going wrong, stacking up more and more reasons to feel snappy and annoyed and not talk to people and buy really expensive coffee because I deserved it.

By the time I went to bed that night, having made no progress on all the things that had gone wrong that week (in a hotel, because still no boiler four days on), I had reached such depths of feeling unspeakably hard done by, that I thought I might never feel happy again. The next day though, with freshly washed hair and less lunch on my clothes, I started feeling more human and a billion times more refreshed and with that came an overwhelming sense of relief that the bad mood was over, but actually I needed that day.

I really needed to feel sorry for myself. I really needed to spend a day feeling exactly as I felt and not trying to hide stress and anger. I needed to be moody. I needed to be alone. I needed to not apologise for feeling like crap.

There seems to be a movement among millennials (particularly the social media savvy) to really push positivity, to own opportunities and seize productivity and make good stuff happen, but it can’t be like that all the time. No one feels that way all the time.

Bad days aren’t anything to shout about usually, but sometimes just accepting them and owning the mood is all you can do. Coming round from a crap day and awful mood makes you realise all over again that actually, things aren’t so bad and it could be much worse.

5 times the internet has been good lately #9

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I haven’t done this in a while because I’ve been busy stressing over mortgages and then Christmas happened and now it’s nearly mid-January. Time really does scare me. I’ve been doing loads of reading since Christmas, but it’s mostly been on my kindle as I got a Goodreads account and am determined on hitting my ‘read 40 books’ target for 2017, which is probably a bit of a push, but we have to aim high don’t we?

Anyway, other reading including blogs I love and articles that I’ve seen on Twitter and loved are below, should you find yourself with some spare time and somewhere comfy to lay (or a packed train carriage with your phoned wedged in someone’s spine #London).

A recipe for happiness – Sophie Cliff

I read this just this morning and it was the last pose I needed to complete this. It’s as good as ever from Sophie. I love her blog and everything she’s written in this post.

When it comes to motherhood, career and, well, life, I’m a late bloomer – The Pool

I absolutely loved this. It’s a short read (my favourite thing about The Pool is the fact they give you an estimated read time on articles!) and makes me feel much calmer about the life targets I try and impose on myself. It’s a nice little reminder that there is no ‘good time’ for life’s big milestones, you just have to let them happen.

8 things every girl did when she went shopping in the 00s – Cosmopolitan

This is a little lighthearted nostalgia which I thought I was mostly over reading, but clearly am not. It mentions meeting at a designated bank and Bay Trading, so you really should have a little look. I laughed.

My predictions for blogging in 2017 – Hannah Gale

I really like reading stuff like this, as I work in social/digital media I often go looking for predictions on how the landscape of these things will change and I’m invested in blogging now, so really am intrigued. Plus, let’s be honest, Hannah’s probably right about all of it.

A look back at 2016 travels – Suitcase and Sandals

I like being nosy in regards to where people travel to and this little round-up on Hannah’s blog made me remember to get back into researching another trip to Scotland and also made me want to be on a beach quite badly.

Pulling the good out of 2016

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It feels weird to try and say anything about 2016 in a general context. It’s been a very odd, often sad year and also one that I’ve found confusing and frustrating. I know I’m not alone in that though. I was talking to my colleague yesterday while we hovered in the kitchen making tea and we were talking about the good things that have happened this year.

It was mostly sentences formed of ‘well 2016 has been quite shit but…’ and the but is important. There’s got to be some good to pull out of times we find hard, even if it is just on a personal level. My good bits are a weird mixture of stuff, some of which sounds very insignificant but has been important to me.

The big one- saving enough to buy a house The whole process of house buying has been long and stressful and not something I’m keen to repeat any time soon, but it’s also momentous and I feel relieved we’re nearing the end of it.

Running my first 10k This didn’t seem like it would be possible a few years ago due to my joint issues and Ehlers Danlos syndrome, but I actually did it. To me running a 10k felt like running marathon in terms of achievement, because  I didn’t ever expect my body to be able to run 3k let alone 10.

Changing my health and fitness This has been a long and not always successful journey but I feel like enough has changed for me to be happy and to know what I need to focus on to keep up the much improved wellness I’ve been feeling.

Falling in love with New York City This has been a relatively quiet travel year for me because of saving, but before we moved and started putting away our money like real adults I saved up for a trip to NYC for Dan’s birthday as a surprise and we LOVED it and can’t wait to go back.

Watching loved ones fight back aganist cancer My mum and best friend have both fought cancer in the last couple of years and while they’re now in the clear they’re both still fighting the long-lasting effects of treatment and mentally overcoming the journey. They’ve done a lot this year to kick cancer in the backside and make everyone proud.

Spending time at home I thought moving home for the year would feel weird and be suffocating as taking Dan with me has meant we’ve been tight on space, but it’s actually flown by and been nice. It’ll feel strange to be away again once we finally move.

Two weeks of glorious sunshine I spent two weeks in August soaking up the sun and relaxing with my family in Cyprus and it was so lovely. I spent a lot of time there when I was young and it was nice to go back and see the village we stayed in and the people we  know there. Oh and the amazing Greek fusion food.

The weirdest trip to Wales ever My friends and I go on an annual trip where we rent an Air Bnb house in the middle of nowhere, stock up on food and wine and become recluses for a few days. This year we went to Wales and it was a disaster. Two of us had horrific colds, one person got ORAL SHINGLES, we went to A&E, an emergency dentist, we bought burn cream, we drank Lemsip and we still had a good time. Proof that my friends are probably for life.

You have been awful 2016, but there has been fleeting moments of life being beautiful and all that jazz.

Friends and feelings and stuff 


There are few things in life I find as comforting as good friends. I love the feeling of sitting down with a group of people who I can be completely at ease with, talk to about anything and feel at home around, no matter where we are. It’s perhaps rarer than I probably think to have this luxury and I’m often reminded how lucky I am to have people in my life who make me feel comfortable. 

I don’t want to be made to feel important or special or better than anyone else. I’ll take comfortable all day long.

When I was a teenager I thought that popularity and having a massive circle of people around you would equate to happiness. It didn’t matter how much I really liked them, I just saw safety in numbers. I thought the best way to feel on top of life was to be liked, be in demand and be the envy of others from time to time. All of those thoughts of course were wrong and I’ve long since been put right by life. There’s so much more that matters when it comes to friends than quantity and friends matter for so many reasons. 

I don’t see my best friends all the time, and it doesn’t matter because they accept life for what it is- hectic. That’s been one of the biggest lessons life has thrown at me- it always gets in the way. It’s when it gets in the way with the worst kind of things, the big things, the things that shape us and upset us and change us, that having those people who bring comfort and happiness no matter how many weeks or months it’s been that become so important. 

I’m very happy with my understated, happy and unfussed group of friends. I’m happy with good people, feeling accepted and being supported. I no longer need social media displays of ‘look how great my friends are and how many I have’ and I don’t need reassurance and shows of allegiance. I just need to know that those people who rock up to our meetings in noisy bars, cosy pubs, weird restaurants and living rooms will stay in my life and keep that comfortable, warm feeling of friendship going for many years to come. I think Christmas has made me a bit emotional or something, but here’s to the best of friends and good human beings.

The most wonderful time of the year- stripping back a little

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This time of year gets more and more full on every time it comes around. I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy all of the festivities and the cheer and the socialising, it just feels like it keeps intensifying.

December comes along and suddenly every Friday and Saturday is booked up, money starts haemorrhaging from your bank account faster than you can comprehend and before you know it you’re waking up on Christmas day trying to find the oven gloves and working out what to roast your parsnips in. (Honey, FYI, always honey.) I know I’m incredibly lucky to have this kind of Christmas, and that seems more important than ever too.

I see more people and spend more time with family at this time of year and that’s the best thing about it. As much as I might try to not get caught up in the commercialised, glitter covered explosion that is December, I do. As much as I say every year I won’t spend half of my wages on overpriced festive cocktails and cheese with fruit in, I do. As much as I would like to strip back Christmas and make it more simple, I don’t. Maybe if I did I wouldn’t like it as much. In fact that’s probably true. Deep down I know I love all the drama and tinsel and twinkly lights and wrapping and Love Actually watching- but I would like Christmas to be a little less hectic.

This year I’m really looking forward to the simple things the most, which is probably what you should say every year, but it feels more true the older I get. I want to be at home and be thankful for nice days, warm homes, good food and good people.

 

Watching Gilmore Girls as an adult has been about more than just nostalgia

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When I first saw that Gilmore Girls was on Netflix, I ignored it. I loved the show when I was in my early teens but I kind of didn’t want to revisit it in case I didn’t like it anymore, or it was just  unwatchable as an adult. Obviously, I was wrong about both of those thoughts, because after taking the plunge a couple of months later, I’m addicted and ploughing through about three episodes an evening while my boyfriend sighs but secretly enjoys it.

I like mindless TV. I like being able to stick something on and mostly zone out and not have to think about it or get really nervous or upset or feel any kind of emotion. This is pretty much what I thought I would get out of re-watching Gilmore Girls. A bit of nostalgia, a bit of ‘ohhh Stars Hollow looks like the dream I bet it’s so safe and clean and a good place to have kids’ and a bit of light relief from stress and tiring stuff happening in my life.

But actually it’s made me think quite a lot, which probably isn’t for the best most of the time, but hear me out.

The main theme of this show is complicated relationships. You’ve got Rory and Lorelai who are best friends, two peas in a pod and also mother and daughter. Then there’s Lorelai and Emily, who roll through season after season with tension and rows and bitterness- the kind of relationship you might have had with your mum when you were really young and thought you knew much better/didn’t remotely understand each other- and maybe even now too. Oh and of course there’s Luke. Loveable Luke, with the backwards baseball cap and the dream breakfast location as an office. The whole love affair between him and Lorelai is pretty much every crush you’ve ever had that you feel you can’t act upon, played out over black coffee and looks that last a bit too long.

I can actually resonate so much with a lot of this now I’m older and dare I say it, slightly wiser and more emotionally together. Balancing a relationship with your parents is hard and can be even harder when you have different views, grow to live very different lives and want very different things. Moving away from home and shutting the door on all the things you don’t like about home is easy, but it’s not a good resolution as many people learn. It’s also the foundation of this TV show.

Watching Emily and Lorelai struggle through TV life with practically nothing in common and utterly different outlooks is really interesting, because while it’s an extreme example, it’s hardly uncommon. 

Surprisingly when I was 12 I didn’t realise how well this show does at picking out the bad, hard and grizzly bits of family life. It’s definitely all a bit too glossy on the surface, but there are times when I really feel like I’m a reliving an awkward meal time at home. You know the kind you realise most people have but at the time made you want to smash all the plates and break things? 

It’s much easier to sit and realise how complicated the whole family dynamic really is once you’ve turned into an adult yourself. 

I didn’t expect to watch and reflect on family and relationships or how much family life and feelings change as you grow older. I just expected to roll my eyes at Lorelai and Luke’s refusal to admit they luuurve each other and wonder how I can end up living in a Pinterest town like Stars Hollow. So thanks Netflix for the chance to reflect and feel like I’ve actually emotionally developed in the past 10 years.

If you want a Luke’s mug like mine you can get one from Etsy here.

3 simple things that mean much more as time goes by

I’m not trying be really wise before my time at 26 years old, I swear. These are just things I’ve noticed more and more, especially during the last year or so. Time still surprises me every day by how bloody fast it’s going, but it also surprises me how much change happens almost in secret. I can’t decide if I suddenly like realising how much life has shifted or if a bit of notice or realisation would be nice. Anyway, rambling aside- these three things, stuff I used to either not think about much or just never really realised, have changed a lot in my mind as I continue to rattle through my 20s.

1) Comfort food has taken on a whole new meaning 

Comfort used to be eating crisps and dip in bed when I was tired, hungover, feeling left out with friends or losing the hormone battle. It can still be those things, but now it’s mostly there for times when I feel like the entire world is trying to shut down my efforts to claw together a successful life. Bad day at work, messing up on something big, not hitting personal targets, realising finances aren’t what they should be, getting to grips with mortgages, bills, life savings and pensions. The list goes on. It gets a bigger, scarier and more serious list as time goes on.  Now comfort food is coming home after a long and exhausting day and sitting down for a little while to eat something you love without considering calories or how many spin classes are needed to burn it off and cutting yourself some slack. It’s something that can reset a terrible week. It’s so much more of a comfort now the stakes are higher. This might sound dramatic and I know a bowl of cheesy pasta doesn’t have healing powers, but food is a big deal. 

2) Productivity equals contentment 

I’ve never been lazy. I would say I’m quite the opposite in fact, which is why I used to consider any opportunity to lay around or sleep in as a massive treat. These days though, despite feeling tired most of the time, I can’t find much contentment from lazy days. It’s still a treat but I feel worse off if I take full advantage. I know it’s nice to lounge around in clean bed sheets and drink tea under the duvet and all that, but I feel like I’m wasting precious time if I’m not getting stuff done. This is definitely not what I would have expected from myself five years ago but it’s getting more and more true. Getting up early on a weekend and doing chores or being out by 9am makes me happy. Remind me of this when I have kids. 

3) Health is wealth 

It’s been especially prominent the past two years in my life, but I want everyone around me to be healthy. I want to be healthy. I want to be well and ready to get up each day and work hard and do well and I want that for everyone I care about. The worry and strain that the health of others can have on us is immense. I feel like health is wealth and it definitely helps with overall happiness too. I’m trying to hard to work on my own health, but I wish I could work on other people too.