Monday, 20 October 2014

My secret to saying 'No'

Have you ever had a week that is just ridiculously hectic?
A few weeks back, I signed up for the 'Balance Challenge' by Kara Layne. My life had been getting more and more imbalanced, I knew I would have to adapt the challenge to suit my health issues.
I found myself, several weeks into the challenge scheduling a crazy impossible week for someone with my health difficulties.
I was busy during the day - every day, I was out every evening, every minute seemed to be scheduled and all week I felt like I was running ten minutes behind. Half way through the week I could feel my health starting to lag. I had barely seen my husband and I was physically, emotionally, and mentally drained. He was aware that my health was struggling and prescribed me time off.
I spent the following week in bed, feeling shaky, muscle pain - the works. (Well apart from what I had already scheduled in!)

I had done way too much, half way through the crazy busy week I recognised I was doing too much but I had committed and didn't want to let people down and I didn't want to miss out, so I continued.
As a result, I had run myself into the ground and boy was I feeling it.

This isn't a situation I normally find myself in. Usually I am pretty good about scheduling my time, planning my weeks so there is flexibility and time for me to breathe. But the last couple of months it seems to have been getting out of control. I felt like that crazy person spinning plates on sticks, I was managing the plates but then added more and more and more - eventually they all came crashing down around me.

As I reflected on the past couple of months, trying to work out what had gone wrong, I realised I had done one thing differently.
I had failed to live by my one important rule, failed to apply my secret weapon.
Like most good secret weapons, it's one that was taught to me by my Mum.

Plan 'Me Time'.

As I assessed my week, I realised that all the activities were worthwhile, I was helping people, teaching people, focusing on their needs. I found myself saying 'yes', over and over again. My diary was filling up, and things were getting harder to squeeze in but squeeze them in I did.
The following week the phone calls and requests continued.

I hate saying 'no'. I want to say yes as often as I can.
It feels so selfish to schedule time for yourself.
But for my health, my wellbeing and my sanity it is essential.
Here's another secret - date nights don't count as 'me time'.
Date nights are spent with my wonderful hubby; we might go out, we might stay in. It is couple time. Time to strengthen our relationship, to talk, to enjoy being us.

Me time is for me alone. It's time to catch up with rubbish TV, to paint my nails, to read a book. It's an opportunity for me to be creative, to take photos, to read blog posts, to pursue hobbies, to feel rejuvenated.
My secret is to schedule in a day or an evening a week for 'me'. Physically write it in to the diary. Block out that section. If someone asks if you are free you apologise and let them know you're busy but you can do another day.

The hard part is learning to not feel guilty about that.
It is recognising that you are important and if you don't schedule time for you, it won't happen.
It is preventing yourself from becoming the crazy plate spinning lady, the person who constantly looks frazzled and on the brink of a melt down.

So from now on the 'Me Time' gets scheduled first!

Sunday, 19 October 2014


I treasure the relationships I have with my cousins, the holidays we have shared, the memories of childhood games, Christmases together, the occasional disagreement or mischievous act. They are the stories that get retold at family gatherings.

"Remember when..."

Gradually our family grows larger as individuals get married and start families of their own.

I love deciphering the individual personalities of the babies in the family and watching as those personalities develop with the babies, into toddlers and then little children.

There is something so wonderful about watching relationships blossom. Between parent and child, siblings and between cousins.

It is fun to watch the littlest in the group look up to and follow the older ones, I am sure they will start scheming and making the younger ones perform the mischief to avoid trouble (as we did when we were younger).

A family member made and gifted matching outfits to the grand-daughters in the family. Although we tried to do a little photo shoot, someone was more interested in her sheet of stickers than posing for the camera - and who can blame her?!

   mummy daddy me

Monday, 13 October 2014

Confession ...

I judge books.

I know there is the age old idiom 'don't judge a book by its cover', but I do.

Books are my escape. I step in to my local bookstore, thousands of books line the shelves from floor to ceiling. I wander through the aisles, past tables piled high with mounds of books, waiting for a cover to grab my attention. Some are familiar titles and bring to mind nostalgic memories of my childhood, being snuggled under the covers reading till way past my bedtime. Others are new titles that have had rave reviews, they are on my to-read/to-buy list, (a wish list that lasts over 20 pages on a certain website). These books I am able to order online. I know what I am looking for.
I enter the book store to find something new. A book I haven't heard of elsewhere. I browse the shelves, selecting individual books that stand out and read the blurbs.

So you see, I judge books.

I think to a certain extent we all do. There is no plausible way to go in to a bookshop and read every blurb before buying a book. Something from a book has to stand out for you to pick it off the shelf, whether that's the title, the author's name, the spine, the typography, or in some cases the cover (when they're facing forward).
I am slightly obsessive about my books, I like all my series to have the same style cover. It really bugs me when midway through the series the cover art changes style. I then need to purchase the other books again so they match!
I have also been known to purchase books I already own because I prefer the new cover.

The 'Booktube' community often has 'pretty spines' or 'beautiful book covers' videos. I find it reassuring that I am not the only one who has this OCD about books.
I thought I would share some of my favourite book covers that I own.

1 - The 75th Anniversary Edition of 'The Hobbit' by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Using illustration from Tolkien, this cover is one of my favourites.

2 - 'The Gift' by Cecelia Ahern
A story of Christmas and gifts, the snowflakes and bow make a perfect cover for this book.

3 - 'Jane of Lantern Hill' by L. M. Montgomery
This was a recent purchase, the typography on the spine caught my attention and when I saw this stunning illustration on the front, I had to have it.

4 - 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell
The simplicity of this cover was what drew my attention. I love the depiction of the characters.

5 - 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell
A story set around the cotton industry. What could be simpler than having spools of cotton on the cover? This is a favourite of the Penguin English Library covers though I love how they look together on a shelf.

There you have it, five of my favourite book covers.
Do you judge books by their covers and have covers you love?