Kind, decent and thoughtful

Morning lovely readers!

So guess what? I’ve got my voice back! It’s very exciting. I’ve never lost it before, and let me tell you that it was absolutely horrible. I felt like I was trapped in my own body. I LOVE talking. I talk loads. My energy also completely sapped away, so I was just lying pathetically on the sofa like some sort of Victorian invalid maiden thing, wimping about the house and feeling sorry for myself. Suddenly everything seemed like a huge effort, and I actually ended up feeling so miserable and maudlin that I began to question everything in my life. Which was, you know…heaps of fun.

I’ve blogged a little lately about looking for a job, and it really hit home this weekend. I was trapped in the house for about 4 days, and I felt unbelievably lonely. Working from home is amazing in so many respects, but nothing measures up to actually being with other people; not for me, anyway. I love interacting with people. I miss having girly chats while making cups of coffee, and I miss flirting over the photocopier. I even miss the blooming photocopier, for goodness sake! So I started thinking about that, then I got all lonely and sad, and then I missed my friends and the fact I was too ill to see anyone, and THEN I got all sad about being single, because I really wanted someone to hold my hand.

It’s not really typical of me to feel down about things. Usually if something bad happens I bounce back extremely quickly – like the job rejection I got last week, I’d almost completely forgotten about it an hour later. I don’t have a great capacity for sadness (or maybe just a bad memory?!), but when I do get down, I get really quite blue. As a twenty something, things seem to be in flux. Career trajectory, relationships, friendships, appearance…nothing seems settled, as I’m sure is the case for many people. Usually I like it, but at the moment, I’ve had enough, and I’d like some stability please.

The fates conspired this week to remind me of a past relationship. I actually blogged about it before, around Christmas-time, which was when it ended. Suddenly I’ve been reminded of it lately, and it’s knocked me for six. I’ve been so lucky with relationships. Every boyfriend I’ve had has been interesting, kind, and cared about me. I’ve learnt something from each and every one, and I’m pleased to say that I’m a better person today because of them. All apart from one, that is. The last one. Gosh, that was a silly relationship. I’m writing this because I want to try and impart some wisdom about the whole thing, and I hope it might mean something to one of you.

I’ll tell you this now: if a relationship is hard work, then get out. Seriously. We’re in our twenties, there’s no need to enter into a difficult, troublesome relationship. Every other relationship I’d had before this had been so easy – just a matter of liking each other, then being together. The one thing that rang true for me in Caitlin Moran’s book was about a relationship which she said was a kind of ‘penance’. This was mine, my ‘punishment’ for years of easy, lovely romances. It wasn’t abusive, it wasn’t out and out horrible, it just messed me around so badly that my self confidence was completely shattered, and my nerves exhausted.

Around Christmas, about a week or so before I finally took steps to end it, I had a chat with my Uncle Chris – he of the ruby rings in chocolate puddings – and he gave me advice. He said: ‘Millie, it shouldn’t be difficult. It should be easy. If he cared about you he would just show it. He’d do things like bringing you your favourite sandwich, because he knew you liked it’. I listened, because Uncle Chris is a wise chap. I’d like to give you all that bit of wisdom. What’s the point in putting up with something that’s making you unhappy? Don’t be scared of being single. There is no reward for working hard at a relationship. Don’t settle for crumbs of affection when you should have…well, a whole sandwich, to go back to Uncle Chris’s advice.

It makes me sad to realise that I’m still suffering a bit from that relationship. After it ended, I didn’t cry once. I felt amazing. Maybe I should have cried – I’ve been holding on to a lot of pain, and I hadn’t even realised until the last week or so. I think it’s about time for me to let go, and to start caring for myself again. If you feel like me, I want you to do the same. Trust in your instinct; don’t stick with something you know isn’t right. As I’ve found, you can work unbelievably hard at something, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to work at. Have courage.

All I’ve ever hoped for is someone decent, kind and thoughtful. And I’ve been lucky enough to experience that in large amounts, so I know it exists. I hope you all do too, even if you’ve had a bad experience or two. I look to my family, and I see so much love, so much respect. I blogged the other weekend about how moving I found it seeing my aunt and uncle so in love and supportive of each other after 40 years of marriage. Don’t be cynical, and don’t let anyone treat you in a way that you know isn’t right. ‘Respect’ sounds like an old fashioned concept, but it’s absolutely essential for any relationship to work, in my opinion.

Be decent, and people will treat you decently. And if they don’t, they’re definitely not worthy of your time. Keep your chin up, feel happy in yourself, and never let anyone bring you down. I did, but I refuse to let it happen for a minute longer. I’ve learnt enough about myself to know my own value, and I know that I deserve to be treated very well, and so do you, I promise. Don’t be afraid of change or the unknown, and don’t be afraid of being on your own. Let go of baggage, because what good is it clinging to bad memories? Only you can change the way you feel. Be proud of yourself and get to know your own worth, because it’ll make it a lot easier in future.

So there we go, a bit of an odd post for me, but I wanted to say it. I know I might have fairly old fashioned values, but I’m proud of that. Please, women – and men, too – care for yourself, and care for others. Ditch the bad eggs. Life is much too short to be with someone who doesn’t bring you your favourite sandwich, just because.

Rococo Nails

I swear, all my posts this week are just going to come under the broad category of ‘cheering myself up’. I’m still ill, I’m tired, I have a little bit of my voice back but not a lot, and I’ve graduated from Gossip Girl to America’s Next Top Model. I’m unbelievably bored. I was hoping to use today either to do some fun projects or to crack on with the mountain of work I have, and instead I’m just useless, utterly utterly useless.

What can you do when you barely have the energy to walk up the stairs? Well, I decided to paint my nails. I’ve had a bit of a bare nails moment going on for the last few weeks, because I wanted to give my nails a break from the endless parade of colours I’d been abusing them with since Fashion Week. I’d got really bored of uniform nails, and for one week I even had every nail a different colour. I liked the way it looked, but it wasn’t exactly ideal for when I needed to do a quick touch up of my nails on the train. But I fancied doing something a little different today.

Probably my favourite colour combination is blue and gold. If you haven’t picked up on my Marie Antoinette/Versailles obsession yet, I’ll just reiterate it for you once again. I think it’s such a beautiful combination, and I liked the idea of recreating this on my nails. It makes me think of pale Spring skies and shards of sunlight, or the way the Autumn sun shines through leaves, illuminating them. I purchased the Rococo gold leaf lacquer from Space NK in Tunbridge Wells a couple of years ago, and despite an initial phase of wearing it frequently, I’ve kind of left it alone. It’s got formaldehyde in, which smells quite a bit and makes me feel like Damien Hirst. But today I needed serious perking up, and so out it came. I hope you like the results. What’s your favourite nail varnish/colour combination?


Teenage Cancer Trust: Time for T, 24th May

Hello everybody!

A while ago I wrote about the Teenage Cancer Trust, a phenomenal charity who both facilitate support and recovery for young people suffering from cancer, and also provide education within the school system. They were actually on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning talking about what they do and the importance of education. As I’m being a Speedy Gonzalez in writing this post, the programme isn’t actually on iPlayer yet, but if you want to hear it you can go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer later today and search for ‘Woman’s Hour’. You can read the post I wrote about TCT so you can get some background on the charity:  – or you can also visit www.teenagecancertrust.org.

I promised to let you know about ways you could get involved, so here we go. The 24th of May is going to be ‘Time for T’ day. Essentially, we want people to get together and raise some money by doing an activity that begins with the letter ‘T’. So turn up to work in tuxedos and tiaras, play table tennis, host a tea party, do some sponsored shots of tequila…we’d really like people to have some fun and raise some money. It doesn’t matter how big or small the event you organise is, or if you literally bring in some cakes to work and sell them under the title of afternoon tea. Get creative or keep it simple. I’ll personally be avoiding the tequila (my friends know why, right guys? Ahem.) But I’ll most likely be doing something afternoon tea based, as that’s much more up my street.

We’d really like as many people as possible to get involved, and we can offer you all the support necessary. Go to www.teenagecancertrust.org/timefort to get more information or your free fundraising pack, or you can contact me via this blog, or via ameliasimmons@hotmail.co.uk. I can’t stress enough how amazing it would be to get a lot of you involved. You don’t need heaps of props or complicated ideas – you could bake a treacle tart and sell each slice for a small donation. So start thinking about what you’d like to do! We’ll help you out however you choose to do it.

I’ll be tweeting, Facebooking and probably blogging more about it as the event gets closer. I hope to hear some of your ideas soon!

Big thanks and lots of love,

Amelia x

My family and other dinosaurs

(Not a rude title. I genuinely saw some dinosaurs)

So my last blog post finished on Thursday night, because I’d broken through the 1000 word mark with a vengeance. On Friday I headed back up to London for some National Gallery and dinosaur fun, because it was the perfect remedy to a champagne and fashion filled week. I love the Natural History Museum very much, and I spotted two amazing things on Friday that I’d never seen before: 1. A dinosaur whose name translated as ‘chicken mimic’, and 2. A dinosaur called ‘Albertosaurus’. I’m not sure if I can describe quite how delighted I was about this. Watch out! Here’s the Tyrannosaurus Rex…and over there, you can see the Diplodocus, and ambling over the hill is….Albertosaurus.

The Natural History makes me very happy, and if you haven’t been in a while, I strongly suggest you do so IMMEDIATELY. Well, maybe not right now, but, you know. That said, if you can get to Oxford, their Natural History Museum is wildly superior because you can actually TOUCH STUFF. Yes. I know. It’s an illicit thrill. And the National Gallery is always fun, and I’m always wearing the noisiest shoes in the world. Again, I would urge you to make a visit. It’s so easy to overlook places like this, because you went when you were at school, or you think they’re too touristy, but honestly? It’ll make your life a bit better if you go. Also, you can tell me if I’m odd because I still find the animatronic T Rex in the NHM really rather scary.

So Friday was perfectly lovely, and Saturday I raced over to beautiful Italian restaurant La Luna in Godalming, for a family party. Specifically, my aunt and uncle’s 40th wedding anniversary. I’m quite conscious these days of writing stuff in my blog that only I will care about, and that I should just write it in my diary and be done with it, but I wanted to share this. My family are absolutely wonderful, and I am so so proud of all of them. We’ve got quite a big family, and quite a few different generations, making family parties absolutely brills.

As I said, I’m not going to bore you with infinitesimal details, although the food was absolutely tremendous, and if you’re in Godalming you should definitely give La Luna a try. But I will just say briefly what an absolutely megadude my Uncle Chris is. A 40th wedding anniversary is a Ruby thingamajig, and Uncle Chris had bought my beautiful Auntie Sandie a gold ring with three rubies in it. Here’s the bit which qualifies him for megadude status: as he knows the staff of the restaurant really well, he’d got them to pop the ring into my aunt’s chocolate mousse, where she was amazed to discover it. What?! Absolutely adorable, and such a romantic gesture.

He then made an amazing speech about how much he loved her, and how lucky he was – my Auntie Sandie is a completely phenomenal woman, so I don’t blame him – and then she in turn made a speech. I tried videoing them, but I was crying AND laughing so I’ve achieved a Blair Witch style shaky cam effect. When we were back at their house afterwards, Uncle Chris spoke some wise words to me about love and life, and also told me that he’d managed to secretly book the honeymoon suite they stayed in after their wedding, for this weekend.

They’re both such sweet, kind, thoughtful people, and it made me feel so proud and happy to be at the celebration. The loveliest thing of all is that, when talking to them, they each thought they were so lucky to be with the other! I just wanted to share the experience with you all because I found it really moving and inspiring to see how in love two people were after 40 years, despite life’s ups and downs. I feel like being a part of my amazing family has taught me some great values, as well as making me believe in love! I hear so many cynical people talking these days that I love things like this. It probably explains why I’m a bit of a romantic idealist, and that isn’t something I intend to change. I’m a lucky girl. If you’re still reading, why not give your family a call? See your parents? Hang out with your cousins? Family is the most important thing, and let’s not forget that.

Clear Out

Again, big apologies for not writing on here that much lately. I just haven’t really felt moved to write anything, and I didn’t want to post a load of filler that had no meaning. I’ve been feeling a little….adrift, and not sure of my path. Not in a hugely overdramatic way, but I’ve wound things down workwise, as I’m off on holiday this Friday and needed to clear stuff out of the way. I’m not very good at not being busy. When I don’t have a lot on, I suddenly become very bad at doing the few tasks I do have to perform. You know the thing – ‘Yeah…I could do this today, but…I could also do it tomorrow’. Mañana….

I tend to take on more and more work until I’m almost frantic, which I enjoy – and I’ll just keep going and going, then things will get a bit quieter and I’ll feel all weird, and faff about a lot. I’ll write the same things on my To Do list every day, with no real intention of actually doing them. What I’m trying these days is a different tactic. I’m trying just to set myself ONE goal at a time during the day, then work through it. Because of my self-employed status, I’m involved in a wide variety of different projects, which is lovely, but there are always wildly competing priorities. I’ll sit down to one task only to find my head flooding with a million other things I have to do that are equally as urgent.

So now, I’m trying to approach one thing at a time, work through it, feel happy that it’s completed, tick it off the To Do list (compulsory step, do not skip) and then move on to the next. Days like these, I feel like I did when I was studying for my GCSEs, and I spent hours making a beautifully colour-coded timetable, and a lot less time on actually working. I can be a huge procrastinator, but with so many projects on, this actually sometimes works to my advantage. Sure, I didn’t manage to set up my online Etsy shop today, but I did write three articles, clear out my shoe collection, get some photography done, and work on a music mix. The art is in making sure the tasks I do to procrastinate are actually of some worth.

But I’ve been stuck in a rut of late, and not getting nearly as much done as I’d like. It’s like my energy has diminished. I feel like a computer game character; I can practically hear that beeping as the life force drains down. What to do? How do I get myself out of it? It’s hard to explain what it even is. I wake up and approach the day with the best of intentions, sit down to do stuff, and I just…can’t do it. It’s not difficult, but I can’t seem to get on with it, no matter how many times I ‘have a word with myself’. It’s really very irritating.

There’s one fail-safe way that works to get me back into the right frame of mind. Maybe you do it to? Essentially, I need to have a huge clear out. Getting rid of stuff and tidying up my environment is the only way I’ve found that’s guaranteed to clear my head. Luckily, with a little more time on my hands for the week, I can get stuck in. So here are some photos of my room/shoe collection, during the clear out phase. Check back in the week for the finished result (hopefully!) My shoes were particularly shocking, because I only tend to wear about three or four pairs on rotation. I didn’t realise I had over 80. I know it could be worse, but for someone who claims that I’m not really interested in shoes…well, it was pretty appalling. The local charity shops will be more or less covered in my stuff. Let the clear out commence!

 

Things I Drew Today

Just what it says on the tin, really! Since the year started, I’ve been working certain parts of my body off on various projects. I haven’t really taken a weekend in ages, and despite my various bits of midweek indulgence, it’s been rather oppressive at times. Still, as a freelancer, I really shouldn’t be complaining about too much work! Anyway, I worked ultra hard to get things finished last week, as I’d booked in a weekend in Oxford with my lovely friend Lucy (might do a photo post later in the week). At precisely 1am on Friday night, I finished my work.

I’ve found that the freelance lifestyle has little lulls every now and then, while one is waiting on projects to be approved or sent back. This week is one of those blissful little lulls, so I decided to concentrate on some of my own projects, the things that I keep shoving aside for a time when I’m ‘less busy’. Today, I’ve been drawing for most of the time, I had a three course lunch, brushed up on some Bach on the piano, and generally had a rather lovely time. Here are some of my scribbles from today – I was playing around with Sharpies and watercolours to test different effects, hence why a couple of the drawings are dupes!