Geeking By in September

Geeking By in September

September proved to be a wild month (quite literally in the case of Storm Ali!), it was unpredictable, filled with challenges and nothing went as it was supposed to go. Nevertheless I got through it and here’s my monthly recap for you all 🙂

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Blogging & Projects

As I already mentioned I’ve been working on the Unique Bloggers group for the last few months, so that was a big part of my work load this month 🙂 It is both terrifying and exciting at the same time but I’m still so happy that I made the move to do it. I’ve been continuing to work on building this blog up which has pretty much entailed me playing catch up after the last few months gallivanting. The Zodiac series has taken the biggest hit and I’m hoping to have caught up by the end of this month, leaving me with two more to get out next month and then I will be up to date. I really don’t want to be behind in the run up to Christmas.

Games that define us collaboration - World of Warcraft

 

I have a birthday post AND a Halloween post planned for the first time ever – yep, get a load of this organised girl! How long that is going to last is anyone’s guess 😉 I’ve also just finished up my part in the Games that define us collaboration which goes live in November and I had an absolute ball taking part in it. I cannot wait for you guys to read my entry! Honestly though you need to check out EVERYONE’S posts. The whole group has worked super hard on this for months and the results are amazing. Even if you are not a gamer there is certainly something to be gained by reading these posts because they are about people not just games.

 

One of the things that has helped me get more organised with my blog has been the addition of a planner dedicated to my blog I’m using this gorgeous Harley Quinn notebook (featured above) that we got in a Lootcrate one month. It is a bullet journal-esque planner in the sense that I am also using it as a mindful and self care exercise to give myself a break away from the computer now and then. I’m not doing anything too fancy, but it’s fun and it’s giving me a creative outlet. I’m also taking part in Inktober this October for the first time and you can find out more about that at the start of the month. Here are the past two weekly spreads of my planner:

 

 

Dissertation

Three years ago I started my Masters in Information and Library Studies with the intention of finishing the course, completing the dissertation and by now ideally working in a library somewhere in Glasgow. Well.. pretty much none of that actually happened. I managed to complete the classes and coursework, and that was it. Since then I have been on medical leave and only a few months ago was I finally able to talk to my doctor about returning to my studies. All the months and months of changing medication, battling side effects and taking mindfulness courses had finally done some good and I was beginning to feel at least a little bit in control of my life again. I am very fortunate that I have a supervisor that supports me 110% and an exam board that has weighed my contributions and hard work against the unfortunate luck of getting a serious condition like ME/CFS just as I started my Masters. If I didn’t have those two things I would be just graduating with a diploma and honestly? My self esteem would be plummeting right now. Instead I was given the option to have one last deadline to complete my dissertation which I accepted.

 

September Dissertation Update

 

On the one hand it might seem like that was the wrong decision. After all, I could have just taken the diploma and walked away without having to write 20,000 words. The problem is that I know I would never have been happy with that. This illness has already taken the last three years from me and I love my dissertation topic. I need to finish it to prove that I can do it, to prove to myself that I am still able to do these things – that despite everything changing and the whole world turning upside down, I can still be me. If I had taken the easy way out I seriously believe my entire career would have suffered from crippling low confidence and that is not how I want to begin my career as an information professional.

Plus, I have until May. I already have 8-9ooo words already written. I worked out that I need to write a minimum of 1,500 words a month which is 375 words a week. Yeah, that sounds ridiculous right? But if I get a string of bad days or even a bad week the knowledge that I only need to get a few words out is going to help a lot. Ideally I’d love to be able to just bash it out and write thousands of words out in one day like I used to be able to; but that isn’t my life any more and I have to accept that.

 

Challenges in September

Challenges

There are a whole bunch of personal challenges this month. From dealing with guilt at not being able to stuff due to health problems, to working on some couples challenges, every where I looked I was facing something that previously would have sent me spiralling. I am actually pretty amazed and happy that I got through them all and it’s because I approached them by working through them one at a time – something that I definitely credit to mindfulness. There were definitely some moments when I felt utterly helpless and there were tears, but I used those times as outlets rather than huge breakdowns. It was a case of me letting it all out and then getting up, dusting myself off and saying ‘ok, let’s do this’.

 

Health

I don’t think there will ever be a monthly update where health is not a sub-title and I felt it even more so this month. Mine wasn’t so bad, but it felt like everyone around me was suffering. Chris has been going through a really bad period as we adjust his medication and my mum had a scan and the news was not good. Not cancer, but still not good. And I’m just left here doing all I can for them and sometimes it really doesn’t feel like it is enough.

The last mindfulness session was this week and due to unforeseeable events I missed it. Things happened and I just wasn’t able to face a room full of people. I was really upset because I’d also missed the two sessions before that, but none of them could be helped. My IBS was faring up due to stress one time and then another night I just didn’t sleep well, and sleep is crucial to someone with ME. It’s a 10am appointment so I can’t just go back to bed and get some more shut eye before it either. We have another appointment in December which is a sort of check in so I will be able to see everyone one last time then.

 

Health, Therapy & Mindfulness Updates

 

I was extremely happy to finally get my counselling appointment through! To be honest I’m well over due for more therapy. I’ve been trying to soldier on since my ME/CFS symptoms first started and since then it’s been one thing after another; my mum got sick, we found out about Chris’ heart, and so on. And then there’s just a mountain load of stuff from my past which I still need to work through. As my counsellor put it today; I’ve chipped away at my wall a lot through therapy and with mindfulness, but more bricks have been added and then some I just don’t have the right tools for yet. Thankfully he was super nice, and we clicked straight away which for me is important with a therapist. I still remember very distinctly one woman who I spent about 10 minutes with before I walked out of her office. She decided to tell me that the answer to all my problems was that I needed to ‘get out more’. So I’m always really nervous about meeting a new counsellor for the first time, and it was a huge relief to meet him and get on really well with him.

I did have to wait a really long time for these appointments but it came with some massive benefits. As it is at homeopathic hospital where I’ve been having treatment for over a year now I don’t need to explain everything all over again. That saves me a lot of time. When you’ve got 7 health problems you want to be able to drop the name, say how it makes you feel and move on. Not have to explain your whole medical history and background which can take up a good half an hour. And usually you only have 6-8 sessions with most NHS services; here I have unlimited. We will have a mini review every so often to see how I’m doing but until I feel like I am able to walk away confidently without the need for support the sessions keep going. And the final bonus was something I hoped would be possible and I’m really glad it is; he is going to do a mindfulness practise with me every so often! We were talking about how much it helped me and when I mentioned how disappointed I was that I missed my last few sessions he said we could do it! That is going to help me so much too.

 

Over to You

How has your September?

Did you have any wild weather like I did? Or has your autumn started our pleasant?

Any big events this month or any coming up?

As always I love to hear from you so let me know in the comments! 🙂

Taking a Mindful Break

Memories

It’s been a while since I wrote a personal post. I’ve just been doing prompts, linkups and weekly series and getting more and more frustrated with that fact. It’s great to have regular content, however, I’ve had zero energy to actually do anything else. April was just a mess, and while May seemed to begin with a fresh start it has devolved into the same as April. Pain, fatigue, migraines. That’s my daily routine right now and yes, it sucks beyond belief. On top of that I’ve been adding a pile of extra stress, from the important to the mundane, and I’ve realised that I need to stop for a bit.

 

A Mindful Break

About 4/5 weeks ago I started a mindfulness CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) course. I’ve done a lot of CBT before, but the mindfulness bit is new and is making a big difference.

 

Mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally, to things as they are.

 

A big part of this is redeveloping my relationship with my body, something I’ve been considering a separate entity with a mind and will of its own for many years now. I’m trying to learn and understand what my body wants and needs by listening to it, and by doing so without judgement. That is why I’m taking this break. Initially for a week, I’m going to listen to what my body wants and do what it needs. That doesn’t mean no blog work entirely; if I want to do it, I’ll do it. But there will be no to do list, no plans, just spontaneous and mindful action. I’ll be posting this weeks #TransmogTuesday because I can delve into my pre-created supply of sets and because I just started this feature. However, yesterday was supposed to be the Birthstone series post and yeah, it just wasn’t going to happen. So I’m planning on a week, with new posts coming next weekend. I’ve also got physio starting this week on top of my MCBT so it seems like a good time to have a light week.

 

My thoughts on going back to Physio (again)

thoughts on returning to physio

Tomorrow is my first physio session with the Centre for Integrative Care, which is a homoeopathic hospital designed for people like me who have multiple health conditions; “Most patients referred to the Centre are experiencing chronic pain, chronic low energy, and/or chronic low mood or anxiety”.

I’ve had plenty of physio before, I know what to expect, and I know what goes on. The thing that is making me really nervous is that this is an NHS physio. Last time I went to see an NHS physio I ended up walking out of the appointment because the woman was extremely unprofessional. Instead of concentrating on what I needed, I got a speech about how she has hypermobility and is s perfect (stick thin) example of how you can be active and healthy with that condition. Yeah. My doctor was not impressed either. I ended up going private (shout out to Glasgow Physio centre who have an amazing, supporting and friendly team, highly recommend them!) and made more progress in one session than I did in 8 years of on-off again NHS physio.

The problem is that a normal NHS physio is there to get you back on your feet and out the door asap so they can move onto the next person. They are only able to concentrate on one part of your body at a time, not which part is hurting that week. Do you have any idea how amazing it is to go to your physio and say ‘my neck’s been bad this week, can we take a look at it?’ and actually get help there and then? I will hopefully go back to Glasgow physio centres, but right now I need to find out what is happening with my body which means being with the Centre for Integrative Care and being referred for their different services.

The biggest worry is walking in and being told it’s my weight, again. I already have had the ‘you need to be active’ spiel from the consultant – although he was very nice and understanding about it – and the fact that I’ve lost over 2 and 1/2 stone since November is in my favour. I’m working on it, just not actively. It’s like my dissertation work; I’ve been so ill and then I get something worse. Here’s just the last few months; ill in January with glands, February chest infection, March still the chest infection (I think, I can’t seem to shift it) and a stomach bug for 7 days. That’s just the last few months. The last few years have been as bad. I’ve gradually been going down hill until the last year and 1/2 my body has finally had enough. They believe I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which fits all the symptoms and is another chronic long term health condition I’ll have for the rest of my life. It’s depressing thinking of it like that, and I need my new physio to be able to work with me and how that makes me feel. I don’t expect them to be a therapist, just understanding and supportive while also pushing me.

So fingers crossed!

My Favourite Disney Heroines (Happiest Place on Earth)

Geek Blogs Unite: Disney Theme - Favourite Disney Songs

I’m taking part in Geek Blogs Unite themed topic about the Happiest Place on Earth, Disney! I decided to write about my favourite Disney Heroines, and you’re probably thinking, well yeah, of course, she’s a girl. Duh… right? That’s a little bit of it. I’m a girl, and a feminist, so celebrating women is something I like to do. However, the reasoning behind this post goes a bit deeper. Last year when Carrie Fisher sadly passed away there were a lot of quotes, memories and comments going around social media. One that stuck in my head was about how she taught a whole generation of young girls that they could fight, could lead a rebellion. I realised that was completely spot on for my generation, the 80s kids, and also that Disney heroines played a bit part in it too. This seemed a fitting way to start off this post considering Leia is now officially a Disney heroine too.

Growing up I wasn’t really a girlie girl, I was a tom boy and most definitely a rebel in the making in some ways. I’m sure many people who grew up with me will be laughing at that statement; her? That goody-two-shoes a rebel? That fact is that rebellion comes in many forms, and one is the lesson Leia and other Disney heroines taught me – it’s about fighting for what you believe in, forging your own path and doing things your way. Hopefully this post will give you a glimpse into what I mean by those sentiments. ((All images courtesy of Disney Screencaps and Star Wars Screencaps, edited by me. Font used is Mademoiselle Camille.))

 

The Heroines

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Beauty & The Beast - Belle

Belle is probably the Disney heroine I feel most connected to; she has a warm heart, she sees things in others that they don’t see, she accepts outsiders, she is an outsider and of course, her love for books. For me, Belle is to be admired in the way she handles the situation with Beast. People have many issues with their relationship, suggesting Stockholm Syndrome for example, but I’ve never really considered there to be a toxic element to their relationship. The song ‘Tale as Old as Time’ sums it up for me;

Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly
Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared

Not every relationship starts with star crossed lovers meeting and knowing they’ve found their soulmate. Sometimes it takes a little work, someone has to bend, something changes. That is what I love about Belle; she’s stubborn, determined and sticks by her beliefs but isn’t afraid to make those changes, those compromises and give people a chance.

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Hercules - Megara

 

Megara is the other Disney heroine I feel a close connection to, and her song ‘I won’t say I’m in love’ was the theme song for my angsty teenage romances, and is still a firm favourite of mine. I completely understand how she feels when she sings “If there’s a prize for rotten judgement, I guess, I’ve already won that, No man is worth the aggravation” and “I thought my heart had learned its lesson, it feels so good when you start out”. Unlike most Disney heroine’s Meg is sassy and sarcastic, she’s not your typical princess waiting for a man to sweep her off her feet or to complete her life. However, underneath that attitude is someone who’s been hurt before and is longing for someone to love her for who she is.

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - The Rescuers - Miss Bianca

 

I have always loved The Rescuers, and Miss Bianca is one of those Disney heroine’s I admired from afar and always felt that I couldn’t ever quite reach. So, why did she make this list? Because she’s a bad ass and she does it as a lady. She’s tough, she’s determined and she has the kindest soul. All she wants to do is help kids who need help, and she does it with sophistication and a heart filled with love. She sees the darkest parts of life and still keeps on fighting to bring light to the lives of children. That to me is someone to admire.

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Mulan

Mulan has so many life lessons that I’m not sure where to begin. There’s the whole lesson about following your destiny, being able to do a man’s job in a man’s world, honouring your family and so forth. However, for me it was Mulan as an outcast that struck a chord with me. The song Reflection is a musical soul search that still feels me with emotions. I’ve never fit in anywhere, and it was only in my late 20s/early 30s that I’ve begun to feel confident and content with where I am and who I am. I think also that the lyrics appeal to me as someone who suffers from depression;

Look at me
You may think you see
Who I really am
But you’ll never know me
Every day
It’s as if I play a part
Now I see
If I wear a mask
I can fool the world
But I cannot fool my heart

 

With these lyrics in mind, when you think about everything Mulan accomplishes, her whole story can be seen as a metaphor for depression. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You can be who you see yourself as, who you really are. Is it going to be easy? No and as we see in Mulan’s case, there’s miles and many obstacles to overcome. That’s life, and Mulan is one young girl who doesn’t run from it; she faces it head on and kicks it’s ass.

 

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Pocahontas

It could be argued that Pocahontas falling in love with John Smith and leaving for the new world is a sign of weakness, of a woman letting a man lead her life. I have always seen it differently; to me Pocahontas is a strong independent woman who explores everything she can. She is attuned to the world around her, she’s curious, she’s open minded and has an open heart, and wants to learn. For her the next step is to leave her home and travel, to learn more and see what she can learn and teach others.

 

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - The Lion King - Nala

I love Nala, she is one of my favourite parts of The Lion King and my only complaint about the film is that she doesn’t get enough screen time. Nala is not fearless, she fears, she hurts, she worries but she doesn’t hide from it. When she leaves her pride to find help, she has absolutely no idea that her childhood friend is still alive. When she finds him she’s determined to convince him to do the right thing – for himself and for their pride. She’s the strength behind the leader, the one who isn’t afraid to smack him or push him into a river if he’s being an idiot.

 

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Star Wars - Leia

 

Oh Leia, where do I begin? Growing up I never realised how young Leia was in the movies. It was only as I grew older and read the Expanded Universe books that I realised she was only 18 in A New Hope. I chose this iconic image of her from that movie because to me it represents everything about the character. Leia doesn’t necessarily need a weapon to fight, she uses her wits, her curiosity and more importantly her voice. She sticks by what she believes in and she uses that voice to call others to arms, to inspire them to be a better person and to follow their heart and their destiny. And she is the one who taught millions of young women that they could do all this no matter what age they were, no matter where they came from.

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Star Wars - Padme

 

I don’t hate the prequels. I agree there are some issues, however, for me as a Star Wars fan they told a story that needed to be told, and introduced us to one of my favourite Disney Heroines; Padme. Padme is incredible, and I will always wonder just how much good Padme and Leia would have accomplished if life had ever worked out differently for them. Even younger than her daughter when she was elected ruler of Naboo, Padme was placed into a position of great responsibility by a cultural tradition that believed children “possessed a form of pure, childlike wisdom that the adults lacked” ((Star Wars Wiki – Monarch of Naboo)). Unlike her daughter, she had no influential family to provide her with opportunities and it was on her own merit that she gained attention. With the weight of her planet of her shoulders, she then had the added burden of the Trade Federation’s invasion and occupation of her planet. I’ve always wondered how many of her predecessors would have cracked under that pressure, or developed mental health issues after their time in office ended.

 

Through her relationship with Anakin we get to see Padme’s concerns, her worries and anxieties about fulfilling her role and helping her people. In The Phantom Menace a young Anakin asks her questions, not knowing that he is speaking directly to the Queen of Naboo rather than one of her handmaidens. Her answers show a strength of character that continues through the prequel films and The Clone Wars series. I also admire the many weapons that she has in her arsenal and she doesn’t wait for people to help her, or do things for her. In the arena on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones she is already moving, already rescuing herself while Anakin and Obi-Wan discuss their situation. She can fight, as we often see, but she is also one of the characters in the Star Wars movies that gives the most powerful speeches and remarks. Her remark on the death of liberty still gives me chills; “So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause”.

 

 

Favourite Disney Heroines - Star Wars - Rey

We know hardly nothing about Rey yet. We don’t know who she is, who her parents were, where she is from. None of that matters, because what we do know is that she is a survivor, a fighter. For me Rey represents the older me, the victim of bullying, the young woman who has struggled with physical and mental illnesses and survived. There’s nothing happy about Rey’s life prior to the events of The Force Awakens. She gets up, she scavenges, makes just enough to survive and then repeats it all again the next day. It’s a dark, hopeless situation that is even more depressing than Luke’s life before he met the droids. At least Luke had family, friends and hobbies even if he was stuck on a planet on the outer rim. Rey represents that part of us that is waiting for a moment, whether it be meeting a goal we’ve been working towards, that big break or a change in our situation. Her life has completely changed, she is on a new path and we are taking those steps with her – quite literally as we wait for the new film and subsequent information to be revealed about her. Rey isn’t perfect; she is terrified, she runs from the visions, she makes excuses to avoid change. When Han talks to her about leaving Jakku, she claims she can’t leave  because she’s waiting for her family (even though deep down she knows they’re not coming back). Rey is a heroine who is real, and for me, someone who is approachable and human. I can’t wait to see where her story goes.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this and got an insight into my love for Disney, and how it has been an important part of my journey from childhood, to adolescence and now into adulthood.

 

 

 

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Magical March Photo-a-day #SelfieConfidence

Magical March selfie a day challenge

I was invited to take part in a selfie a day challenge by Kayla of Epicfied for March and decided to give it a go. Selfies, or any photos of myself really, have become a very sore subject for me in recent years. Weight gain and suffering from Dermatillomania (compulsive sick picking) has made me very self conscious. The problem is that both become a vicious circle which combined with chronicle illness and depression just keeps on going and going. I also had some reservations about filling my instagram with my face every day, and how people wouldn’t want to see my ugly mug all the time. Then I realised that these were the voices of my high school bullies, whispers of the past and people long gone from my life. ((Texture credits for the featured image are from Missesglass and Dioma. Photo of myself has been edited using Painnt.))

 

 

As Kayla explains in her blog post about Magical March, this is about self confidence and I’m planning to use this challenge as a way to help me keep my Dermatillomania in check. If I know I have to take a photo and share it with the world, then hopefully it will curb the urge a bit. If it doesn’t, then I am still learning and gaining self confidence even with my problems.

 

I am going into this solo, but would love to have someone join me. So if you’re reading this and up for it then please let me know!

 

Challenge: Take a selfie every day in March.

Rules: 

  • No filters than change how you look. E.g., no beautify on Samsung, no Snapchat filters than change your eye size, face shape, skin, etc. and so on.
  • Post on a social media platform with hashtags #MagicalMarch AND #SelfieConfidence
  • Tag the host @Epicfied on social media
  • Be creative!

When? March 1–March 31