It’s Friday night and my bathroom is the cleanest it’s been in the whole time we’ve lived here.
I cleaned around the taps with a toothbrush for God’s sake. This can mean only one of two things: my mother is visiting, or I’m moving out. This time, it’s the latter.
This will be my 18th move in my 27 years on this planet. I moved around a lot as a kid after my parents split up, and we were shunted from one rented place to another as rents got too high or we found somewhere better. As a kid, I thankfully saw the experience as an adventure. I still remember favourite bits from each of those places; one that came with a really cool den/ playhouse in the garden that was full of lego and loads of musty old toys. My own private solace. I felt like the coolest kid on our estate.
Another with a huge bedroom cupboard I could hide in, with floor to ceiling shelves that I wanted to fill with a tidy regiment of toys. One – not so good – in which had to share a bedroom with my mother, who snores like a Lancaster Bomber and didn’t share my fondness for listening to Spiceworld on repeat.
At 18 I moved away from home – far, far away, in fact. 300 miles from just outside Durham to Bristol. And so continued the annual ritual of packing up, giving things to charity, forcing myself to be ruthless and let go of things I could do without. Finding that loads of my stuff had been ruined by the damp that seems a creeping, silent inevitability for us renters.
I have become a world-class packer. A packing ninja, if you will. I can fit untold amounts of shit into 15 boxes, storing shit within other shit to make it as small as possible. The other day I squeezed my Vietnamese Lantern inside my foam roller to save space. Yeah, next level Tetris shit. I am also master of packing this shit into very small cars. A Sunday Van Tripper. A footwell fiend. You want shit moving? Call me, fire up the Nissan Micra, and bring me a bottle of prosecco for afters.
But if I’m honest, these are skills I would happily trade for one thing: a place to call home.
This particular move is a temporary one. We’re in the rip-roaring, poke-yourself-in-the-eyeballs-twice-a-day process of trying to buy our first flat in London, and are very lucky to have the chance to house-sit for the next few months. It means we can save up lots of money we were haemorrhaging on our overpriced, tiny rented flat, and say bye to our neighbours from hell and late night police shenanigans. We can later use this to pay the endlessly hopeless, infuriating team of mavericks who may or may not let us buy a flat at a vastly inflated price.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate just how lucky we are to be able to consider buying a flat, and indeed to have a roof over our heads at all. Working for a large children’s charity, I am acutely aware of the huge number of vulnerable individuals and families who are living on the streets, in hostels, refuges, sofa surfing and otherwise. (If you want to help, look up Shelter, Centrepoint, or St. Mungos – they’re all great).
But that doesn’t stop me pining for stability. For the chance to grow into and with our home. For the option to paint, to make cosy, to put our stamp on a place. To lovingly repair what’s broken, rather than putting up with it because our landlord won’t pay out. For a sense of belonging to a community; an area we know inside out – the best and worst streets, the hidden gems, the best late-night shop, the only pizza worth ordering. The perfect running route, the wintery walk.
Of course, one benefit of moving around so much is that I’ve built up my own, poor-man’s, version of The Knowledge. I can tell you that The Faltering Fullback in Finsbury Park has an outstanding beer garden. And that there’s a good chicken place within stumbling distance. I can tell you about the ridiculous bloody artisan pizza place in the back of our local Spar in Walthamstow village – £6 a pop and not too shabby.
Head there after The Nag’s Head via the cavernous shop / yard selling antiques between Hoe Street and the William Morris Gallery. I can also tell you never to bother with Chooks in Muswell Hill; life is too short to pay good money for crap chicken.
Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to the day when we get the keys to somewhere we (and our boxes of shit) can call home.
Providing I don’t get locked up for killing my estate agent in the meantime, of course…
This morning I found myself sobbing on my yoga mat in extended child’s pose. Quite childlike, I suppose… an extended toddler’s pose, if you will.
My brain is in the trenches of an internal war of attrition between the negative and the positive. Between the side of me that sees the glass half full, grabs life by the balls and laughs loudly, versus my tendency towards cynicism, sarcasm and anxiety.
I find myself analysing and counter-analysing my feelings constantly. Why can’t I just be happy all the time? Always take the positive stance? How come I’m not leaping out of bed and rushing out the door to go and be awesome every day? To be the best I can be?
I count myself as a striver. A do-er. An achiever. You want something sorting out? Talk to me, I’m already on it.
Does that mean that when I am not striving and thriving – when I don’t want to get out of bed, or am struggling to shake off worries – I am failing? Absofuckinglutely not. So why does it feel like I am?
Because positive is The New Thing.
720 hours. 43,200 minutes. 2,592,000 seconds. A lot can happen in 30 days. If you’re on Whole30, mainly A LOT OF COOKING.
It’s 30 days since my boyfriend James and I started the challenge. I know a few of my friends have read with interest our voyage into this unfamiliar and slightly strange territory, so I thought I’d share an update on our progress.
To re-cap, Whole30 is a restrictive version of the Paleo way of eating. Whole30 is about eating real, unprocessed foods and high quality meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats such as olives, nuts and seeds. That means no grains, no dairy, no sugar (yes, that includes booze and more natural sugars like maple syrup and honey) no legumes (that’s peanuts, chick peas / beans / lentils etc to you and me) and no preservatives like MSG or sulphites (surprisingly ubiquitous in so many foods).
You’re not allowed to re-create ‘healthy’ versions of treats that fit within the guidelines, such as pancakes or cookies. They are ‘treat’ foods and contribute to an unhealthy attitude towards food as a reward.
It’s about re-setting your body, boosting energy, pinpointing foods that don’t agree with you and re-connecting with food.
It’s a strict regime; the slightest slip and you’ve failed
one bite of pizza, one splash of milk in your coffee, one lick of the spoon mixing the batter within the 30 day period and you’ve broken the “reset” button, requiring you to start over again on Day 1….Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip.” Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident.
PHEW. Ok. So, how did we get on?
I’m on day four of the Whole30 Challenge and I’m feeling cautiously fabulous. By now, according to the challenge timeline, I should want to ‘kill all the things’. But – aside from totally normal fleeting moments of disdain or fury (people who stop at the top of tube escalators, people who say 100 words when they could see 15, that sort of thing), I’ve felt pretty fucking great.
J and I have both noticed we’ve not had our usual peaks and troughs of energy – no 3 o’clock slumps where I’d normally hunt down a biscuit or two with a cup of tea to keep me going. I’ve had a pretty full-on week and have really felt I had the energy to power through it.
It’s a freezing cold Sunday morning in January. I’m in a line with 10 other women, facing 10 women on the other side. We’re in formation, holding ourselves in a plank position, cold hands pressing into the spiky pavement of Finsbury Park. I can feel every ridge pressing into the skin of my hands, icy and sharp. I pull my sleeves down. My upper arms start to burn. And then it starts.
The voice in my head that says ‘quit’. Continue reading
If you saw my last post, you’ll know that one of my January goals is to complete Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge.
I’d always thought yoga wasn’t really for me. My mind moves fast – I like to be busy, can find it hard to really switch off, and struggle a little bit with feeling the pressure to be totally zen and wear hemp trousers that I used to associate with yoga.
I’m also not what you’d call bendy – I’m more the kind of woman known to grown when I have to pick my keys up off the floor. I did do an amazing Ashtanga Yoga session at Shambala festival a couple of years ago, which I found relatively straightforward, but I’m quite sure that was because I was possibly (read definitely) still a teeny, tiny bit shitfaced from the night before and feeling a bit gung ho about it all.
So fast forward to 2015.
New Year’s Day. We force one eye open, groan, and look down to see if we fell asleep in our clothes. We inspect the room for the tell-tale polystyrene carton strewn with leftover lettuce and a smearing of guilt. Bacon happens. Eggs happen. Hollandaise is bound to happen.
The guilt sets in. This year, THIS YEAR, it will all be different. I will be different. I will force myself to develop superhuman willpower, find previous un-knowable universes of spare-time and waterfalls of untapped potential I never knew existed.
I will run marathons, climb mountains, do a triathlon, win tough mudder and be able to casually do the splits whenever I damn well LIKE. On the bus, in The Club, on the petrol station forecourt, etc etc.
AND I WILL DO IT ALL IN JANUARY.
January. Without a doubt, one of the most depressing times of year. I’m broke, you’re broke, it’s as cold as a witches tit outside and it’s dark by 4pm. We’re riding a post-Christmas wave of nausea as we remember we have to work for a living and that there’s four months ’til Easter. Creme eggs provide some consolation, but it’s minimal.
Let’s keep it real here. This is not the month to overhaul your whole life. So let’s take a deep breath and reboot.