Category: Opinion

Life Updates.

It’s been a little while since I wrote a personal blog post and today I thought I would just check in with where I’m at. I like to reflect on what I’m doing every now and then as it’s good to look back and see how far I’ve come and acknowledge what I have achieved. I don’t think I do it often enough!

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Spring Appreciation Post

Sunlight filters through lush green leaves and the sky is a brilliant blue,  dappled with soft, lazy clouds. The scent of lavender hangs on the crisp air and birds can be heard singing and chirping from high above. Everywhere you look there is life and colour; Spring heralds a new season and new beginnings.

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There’s something about the seasons Autumn and Spring that speaks deeply to my soul. One brings death, the other brings birth; both bring a spectacular change in the flora and fauna around us. Both dazzle me with their beauty.

And there’s something about Spring that always makes me feel like I have a fresh start. A fresh chance to take adventures, appreciate natural beauty and find inner peace. March through to July are happy, calm months for me. I enjoy sitting outside in the comfortable climate and soaking up my surroundings. Walks in the countryside are particularly pleasing; I still feel a thrill every time I see a white cotton tail darting out of sight or spot some delicate crocuses pushing through the soil to soak up the sun.

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The moment I spot daffodils I feel that Spring is on its way in. The buttery yellow flowers are symbolic of the changing of seasons to me, and I love how cheerful and bright they make everything seem. I love the flowers that begin to bloom as it gets warmer, and the heavily scented blossoms that hang from the trees.  I love to watch the butterflies finally emerge with their powdery wings, and the bees buzzing between the flower beds and borders of a beautifully manicured garden. Most of all I love to watch the birds collect twigs and straw to make their nests, raise their young and start to fill the mornings with their beautiful song.

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Spring feels like a gasp of fresh air after the dark nights, stark trees and bitter chill of Winter. It is a beautiful season and it is almost upon us. Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how wonderful that is?

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New Publishing Schedule & Blog Updates For Pretty Little Finch

My blog has been going for a little over a year now and, whilst I think I’m pretty good at updating it monthly (I haven’t missed a month yet!) I’m starting to feel that it needs to have a more structured publishing schedule. That said I’m going to aim to update it twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, starting from next week. I have a blogger event this weekend so I’ll try to get that written up and on the blog by Wednesday.

In the meantime if there’s anything you’d like to read or see here at Pretty Little Finch please let me know and I will try to cover it! Suggestions are really welcome as all the additional blogging is going to require more material!

What I know VS what I think; the internal struggle

I am 26 years old, an occasional size 10, a frequent size 12 and I’m 5ft4.
These are my numbers. Well some of them, the ones I feel most comfortable sharing. These days I feel like my life is dictated by numbers, most notably the number on the scale (which I’m less keen to share.)

I know I’m not alone. In today’s society I am just one of many in a sea of despairing women (and men) obsessed with their body image and weight. Dieting and exercising relentlessly, putting my frame through hell and back to lose a couple of pounds, to go down a few numbers, to fit. Where I am trying to fit though? Or rather, what am I trying to fit – what are we all trying to fit? Well, a size 8 pair of skinny jeans ideally, but I’d like to feel like I was one of the lucky few society viewed as ‘beautiful’. That would be nice too.

So here’s the thing, despite the fact that at times I am a walking cliche’ and at others I am bordering on hysterical, I have common sense. I know that despite my numbers I am worthy of love, of friendship and ultimately, of happiness. These are my fundamental rights as a human being and being a size 6, 12 or 20 should not affect that. It does not affect that. I tell myself this on a daily basis.

Despite my numbers I am beautiful. I may not be beautiful in a ‘conventional’ sense but everyone is in their own way right? Because beauty is subjective, and what is lovely to one is hideous to another and vice versa – you get the picture. I know I am not a swamp monster living at the bottom of the lake. I have flaws, sure. But so does everyone – I know this.

I also know that in the end, none of these numbers I obsess over so are going to matter. When I die, no one will scrutinising my pile of ash and wondering if it could be just a tiny bit smaller. The only thing I’ll need to ‘fit’ in to is a box placed six feet under the ground. I know that sounds morbid, but it’s true. So in the scheme of things, does my weight really matter?

Well, yeah, kinda.

Because even though I know the aforementioned to be true, it’s not what I really think and it certainly doesn’t change how I feel.

When I look in the mirror I can remind myself of all the lovely compliments I have ever received. I can think about my adoring boyfriend and how he loves the way I look. I can tell myself ‘ beauty is subjective’ – but when I look in the mirror what I see is fat. What I feel is fat. And what I think is, sure, I’m not a swamp monster, but I’m out of proportion and people are going to stare at me.

I do this every single day, multiple times a day, and that feels truly horrible. I stopped wearing jeans because I hated how they highlighted my legs and made them look even chunkier. I don’t wear tight-fitting clothing as it shows my lumps and my bumps. I can’t wear baggy clothing as it looks like I’m wearing a sack. Sleeveless dresses are out of the question because my upper arms are shameful. I wear skater dresses and black tights. It’s what I wear everyday in order to feel comfortable going out in public. To flatter my horrible figure as best as I possibly can.

And even though I know my weight shouldn’t affect my happiness, it inevitably does, especially when it leaves me feeling so ugly and restricted. I exercise every single night. I am on a constant diet and I have been for 8 months now. A lot of my day revolves around how I look because I am always thinking about what meal I can eat and how many calories it contains, or how I can improve my workouts and boost my weight loss. I spend more time than I care to admit researching diet and exercise plans. When it comes to weigh in day, my whole week can be ruined entirely by the absence of a loss. To say it affects my mood, is an understatement. It positively controls my mood.

Finally, I know I am deserving of love and friendship. But this is the thing. It doesn’t feel that way. I annoy absolutely everyone I know by accusing them of lying, by disbelieving anything nice they say, by flying off the handle. I almost always feel that people are looking down on me, that they are judging me or trying to deceive me. At best I think people are just trying to be nice because they are sympathetic.

And that’s the struggle of it all. It sounds so conceited and vain – that’s why I don’t talk about it so much. Because it makes me feel ashamed that something as insignificant as how I look could shape my life in such a negative way. But I know I am not alone with it, there are other people who feel exactly like I do and suffer just like I do.

I see it all the time on social media. And I see the hate too. When a large lady tries to show some body positivity to herself she will often be ripped down with critique such as ‘it’s not healthy to be that weight’ ‘you shouldn’t promote fat’ and etc etc. We’ve all seen it.

Truthfully weight can be an important issue for many and we should be striving to be active and eat healthily.  But in the same vein it’s important to show kindness to yourself, even if you’re overweight/fat/obese…because being horrible to yourself is damaging and it leads to a path that’s hard to come off of. Ultimately it won’t help you.

I’ve spent so long being horrible to myself that I have forgotten how to be nice to myself, and that’s pretty sad. If only I could have kept just a little bit of kindness and support for myself, perhaps then losing weight would have been easier / less of a punishment and more of a journey. Whatever the case I would have been a happier person and that’s what really matters.

In the end your numbers and my numbers are really nobodies business but our own. If people compliment you, or critiscise you always try to remember that it’s your body and it doesn’t exist to please everyone. Body positivity is important for everyone regardless of size and of shape and in the long run feeling comfortable with who you are / what you look like is going to be far more productive than giving in to the hurtful and destructive thoughts that our society sadly forces upon us. There is always going to be someone who disagrees with you and your lifestyle. I’d like to think those people are welcome to their negative thoughts. Instead of imitating what they think and taking it out on yourself,  stick to what you know to be true – show yourself some kindness, you are deserving of it and you are not alone!

Top tips for taking care of yourself this month

As I enter the new year heavier around the stomach and lighter in the pocket I can’t help but experience those post-Christmas January blues. Christmas has been and gone, the festivities are over and the time for washing every meal down with a creamy snowball and a fistful of Quality Street has passed. Getting in to the swing of working and not laying in bed until noon is difficult and walking to work with my cheese, biscuit and sugar-clogged arteries is nothing short of an exhausting chore.

If this is all sounding familiar then rest-assured, you are not alone. It is universally acknowledged that January is a horrid month; the fact it exists is downright offensive to all. Joking aside, January can be a real struggle to get through. Here are my top tips for taking care of yourself this month.

Take a mental health day

Maybe you spent the festive season slumped on the couch in a mince-pie induced coma despondently watching Eastenders, or maybe you spent it ferrying between friends and family and fitting in as much as you could. Whatever you did, it probably wasn’t as relaxing as you had anticipated. Whilst it’s nice spending time with loved ones it can be exhausting. All those parties and special events to attend are fun but can leave you feeling wiped. Not to mention a month of eating horrific processed food and drowning in booze – it can all take its toll. For me Christmas is always a fun time. I love seeing my family and hitting the boxing day sales gives me a buzz – but it’s not relaxing. Even so, getting back in to the swing of work can be really difficult after taking some time away. If you find it’s all a bit too much, take some time back to recover. January is a good time to take some leftover holiday or pull a sickie for the sake of your mental health. Use your day to take a refreshing walk in the woods or to catch up on some much needed sleep. Just as long as you’re not skiving left right and centre you should be fine.

Treat yourself

This might sound a little odd after you’ve probably been spoilt rotten by friends and family at Christmas. But I think it’s always nice to give yourself a tiny treat to perk yourself up when you’re feeling sad. So maybe you’re on a strict diet or detox to get rid of that festive flab – but it won’t hurt to have a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit once in a blue moon. Or maybe you fancy a new book to get stuck in to. You don’t need to overdo it especially if you’ve overspent this month – one small gesture of kindness to yourself can really lift your mood. Be selfish, you just spent your hard-earned wages on friends and family, now it’s time to treat yourself.

Get organised

A new year – a new you…or maybe not. January is a month of change though and people often use it as a platform for motivation. Whether you want a new job, lifestyle or partner or want to stay in your cosy little rut, getting organised can help keep you on track. My aunt recently suggested I buy a planner as she swears by hers and I’ve been on the hunt ever since. As a serial list-maker I find it’s really conducive to put thoughts/dates/aspirations down on paper so I can free my mind up to think of other things. Everything is a bit wobbly in January, a diary or planner can really help you to keep track of those all-important goals you might otherwise conveniently forget.

Take time for yourself.

When you feel sad it’s important to make sure you’re talking to and spending time with friends and family. These people are best-placed to cheer you up however it’s also good to have some alone-time. Sometimes we can become overwhelmed with all the plans we’ve made and all the people we have to fit in to our already tight schedules. If you’re feeling like you need some space to just relax, cancel your plans and have a night in in front of the telly. As long as you don’t isolate yourself or become a social hermit, it’s perfectly fine to have and want time to yourself. Friends and family are sure to understand, don’t forget – they are probably longing for a rest as well.

Be kind

Don’t forget to do everything with kindness. Other people are sure to be suffering this month too. A little bit of consideration can go a long way.

How do you improve your mood when you’re in a funk?

 

London…it’s not me, it’s you.

My love affair with London ended around ten months ago – just two months in to living in Stratford. Prior to moving to London, I spent most weekends ferrying myself up there for some market or the other. I thought Camden was ‘unique’ and the coffee shop outside Aldgate Station was the bee’s knees. Prior to the move I had images of wild nights out in Shoreditch and black cabs home past midnight. I had grand visions of myself taking every class and seizing every opportunity I could. And I guess, in its own way London was good to me. But much in the same way an acquaintance can be fun to bump in to on a night out, you don’t want to be around it all the time; in short, London is fun for a fling, but you don’t want to settle down with it.

So I did what any reasonable twenty-something would do, and I jumped ship. My partner and I moved to Essex . An ‘Essex girl’ born and bred, this was pretty exciting for me. The prospect of a proper chip shop (not a fried chicken / greasy kebab shop) and just a smidge more greenery was (and still is) the dream.

So why didn’t London and I work out?

Well, now the smog has cleared, I think I’ve narrowed it down.

The people are rude

Okay okay – a sweeping statement I know. And I’m not one to generalise so let’s be fair. Of course not all of the people are rude – that would be ridiculous. There’s good and bad wherever you go and obviously it would be impossible for the entire population of London to be on my personal naughty list. So, being reasonable I’d say…98% of the people in London are rude. Is that fair? I think that’s fair. On almost every occasion I had the displeasure of traveling on the 25 bus I was shoved and elbowed and glared at. I got the impression that the bus drivers wanted to murder us all and, I guess I couldn’t blame them.  People are busy in London. They have places to be, people to see – and they are ruthless. If you have ever crammed on to a tube at rush hour you’ll know what I mean. And living in London was like a never-ending tube ride.

There are no proper chip shops

Poppy’s is the well-known chip shop in East London. But when you live in Stratford, popping to poppy’s for a cod and chips is a just a bit of a mission. Where I lived all of the takeaway shops served fried chicken (albeit delicious fried chicken), kebabs and pizza. I did discover two chippies in relative close proximity…but the chips were limp and lifeless. And when you’re  settling down and creating a home with your loved one, a good chip shop is something to consider. What? It matters. It matters to me.

There’s hardly any greenery

Whilst London does boast some beautifully manicured parks, it is a challenge to find anywhere you feel really relaxed walking. The constant sounds of the city sort of cancel out any of the feel-good vibes you might otherwise get from a brisk morning walk in the woods. Sometimes I felt like it was hard to breathe. When I moved to Stratford I knew I wouldn’t be surrounded by fields and woodland and green space. I just didn’t anticipate how much I would miss it.

You don’t get a lot for your money

I’m sure it won’t suprise anyone when I say that living in London is expensive. My partner and I lived in a crummy one bed masionette that was seriously mouldy. This woefully inadequate housing cost a bomb all things considered. And it’s not just crappy house prices that wound me up either. The cost of living was noticeably higher. You shouldn’t have to remortage your soul just to buy a beer. That’s not living; it’s existing.

The reality doesn’t live up to the expectations

I guess the biggest thing about living in London for me, was that the reality of it was not as I had anticipated. Originally I moved for work – and for the convience of it (it afforded me more time in bed every morning.) But as mentioned above, I did have some preconceptions of what London life would be like. Whilst I did have a few nights out, and I did join a couple of classes, I didn’t really do as much as I thought I would. I found myself spending most of my weekends in Essex or at the seaside because that’s where I preferred to spend my leisure time. Whilst I am sure there are people who adore living in London, I didn’t at all.

So now, as I mentioned earlier – we are living in Essex (which I am sure some will argue is not much better!) But we are happily wedged between some country parks and the nicest chippie I’ve had all year – success! I’m feeling pretty positive about the move, and looking forward to exploring the area and discovering some cool little places.

To add some balance to this (only ever so slightly negative) post, what do you absolutely love about living in London?