Remember 2017 When I Used To Share My Deepest Thoughts? Well We’re Doing That Again. Let’s Chat… About Grief

I’m not sure where to start. There’s a lot to unpack.

Sometimes, as I clean my teeth, I write a whole blog post in my head. I did that today, and now I need to get the ‘toothbrushing’ thoughts on to paper. Does anyone else do that? I’ve been in this blogging trade for 3 years, 3 of the most important years of my life, so it’s ingrained into me at this point.

Today I wanted to unpack. That’s an analogy that I will be using a lot in this post. First, my mind wandered to journaling. I thought it would be best to journal this. Then I realised, as I put literal pen to paper, that it would be too emotionally challenging. I know that sounds weak ‘you can’t even write, eww’ but honestly. I almost started crying.

As we head into a new month, you might be thinking about unloading the negativity, and only carrying through the good bits.

That, I’m afraid, doesn’t always work.

Right at the start of the year, I lost one of my closest relatives. I thought of telling you, but my blog at that time was so ‘professional’. To be honest, it didn’t really feel like me as I sat and wrote at the keyboard. I was ‘Erin’. Erin was almost like an alter-ego, but to a point where it felt kind of toxic. I loved the content I was writing, of course, but it didn’t feel like I was writing it. Erin wrote it. Erin received praise and accepted it gladly, but it all these lovely comments never felt like they were for me. I still struggle now. I AM Catherine. People DO care about and love my blog. It’s so hard to accept. But yes, I can be awesome sometimes. 

So I never told you.

It didn’t hit me until just today, 7 months after she had died. When I was first told, Mum said ‘grief comes in waves’ and I completely understand that now. 

Granny was probably the member of my family I was closest to, outside of Mum, Dad and Jon (my brother).

But when I heard the news I was completely unbothered and went on with my day. 

For 7 months I pretended everything was okay, and everything felt okay. Of course I was sad, but not as sad as I ‘should be’. 

Then came around mine and my brother’s birthdays.

She wasn’t there.

She won’t spring back from the dead to say happy birthday. What was I expecting? There was just this absence. It didn’t really feel like my birthday without Granny. And I know this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to me. I know people who have lost their parents at a young age, and I know that must feel 10x worse. But when it’s your first ‘proper’ loss, you are foolish, naive and don’t know what to expect. 

Today is my brother’s birthday, and my best friend’s. I should be happy. I had zuccini bread for breakfast, camped in my friend’s field, ate a ton of cake and spent time with family. Although I am content, it doesn’t stretch further than contentment. I am so incredibly grateful for today. I got to live another 24 spectacular hours on this planet.

I just feel a bit empty. 

Yesterday I was brimming with life and fun and excitement. That version of Catherine is still inside somewhere, just not today.

I find it hard to accept that in my perfect life, things can be less than perfect. I have everything a teenage girl could ask for. I live happily with my family. I have clean water, a bed and a roof over my head. A beautiful cat, a platform to share my thoughts and receive responses from like minded people.

On some days, though, you won’t be okay.

Now I would like to return to the analogy I mentioned at the beginning of the post, about ‘unpacking’.

We’re catching a flight to September. You have one suitcase and hand luggage. What are you going to take with you? What will you keep in your hand luggage, right by your side as you’re flying? And what will go below the seats, in your suitcase? 

No-one goes on holiday with all of their possessions.

You have a suitcase to pack. So pack it wisely.

You’re probably going to put in all the happy things and leave the negativity behind. You might take the good experiences with you and forget about the seemingly ‘bad’.

That’s what I did.

I moved on from January, the month my granny passed away. I’ve taken 6 flights since then, my suitcase being unpacked and repacked so many times. 

Really, I should have taken Granny’s passing with me.

It has made me stronger. 

It has taken 7 months for it to eventually hit me. I needed those seven months. But if I hadn’t gone back to pack grief into the suitcase, I would never be able to understand it.

I hope those metaphors don’t scare you away from my blog. I love using things like that though.

Whatever you carry into September, I hope it serves you well. Many good things will come to you in September, that you will be able to carry in your suitcase to October. Maybe your suitcase will expand in size, maybe it will shrink. Leave behind the things that don’t serve you. Just NEVER forget to pack in the mistakes and the hardships. You learn from them and they will make you stronger.

Grief isn’t negative.

It’s a natural part of being human and living in a mortal world.

Grief isn’t positive either.

Grief is beyond comprehension. It’s just so complicated. There’s no quick fix, and even if you could find one don’t use it. Let the wound heal naturally and give yourself time to recover. But if, like me, it takes seven months to deeply sink in, allow time for that too. 

I’ll love you and leave you. Wishing you all the best for September,

Catherine xxx

Check out my Instagram

See what I’m reading

Take a peek at my bookstagram (basically book photos for book lovers)

My Pinterest – where I find inspiration, aesthetic cello images and get lost for hours. Check out the boards I have made

The Uprise of Self-Care Sunday | Does It Negatively Affect Your Mental Health?

When I say ‘it’s okay to do nothing’, I genuinely mean it. If your social media feed looks anything like mine, you have probably heard this a lot. Some people host a Sunday event called ‘self-care Sunday’ which I think is an amazing idea. However, the mainstream connotations of self-care: baths, pampers and baking are not going to work for everyone. Now I have already written about this. But revisiting it a few months later is beneficial, since there are so many of you that have joined since then (thank you for 700 followers!)

Workaholism

I find that when people take you through their ‘self-care Sunday’, or ‘rest day’ they are still being mega productive. The workaholic mindset is worrying, especially among young impressionable people. Self-care Sunday should be for self-care: not for sharing it on your Instagram. Also, other people’s ideas of rest days might be more or less productive than your’s. So if you see someone going for a run on their rest day, that’s them. That makes them feel better. But if you sit on your bed eating chocolate raisins and watching Doctor Who all day, that can also make you feel better. Everyone has different ways of caring for themselves so please don’t compare them.

Is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy For Instagram?

Telling your followers that you do take days off for self-care is important, they need to be aware that you’re not a Boss Babe 24/7. When influencers share their seemingly perfect self-care on the Internet, you speculate: are they doing this to take care of themselves or to post it on social media? Followers need to know that you’re not always working at the desk, but they also need to know that self-care isn’t just bubble baths and long walks.

For some people, going for a walk isn’t self-care. Diet culture perceives walking as a way to lose weight, and how can you enjoy an activity that intends for you to lose weight? There are so many people that can’t enjoy exercise because they’re only thinking about the end result, and disordered ideas that thinner is better. Rather than run for the fun of running, in the back of their mind (or the front) they’re thinking about how this will help them get fitter and potentially thinner. Glamourising weight loss is a whole other story.

I keep getting side-tracked. Wow, that shows how rusty I am with posts like this. Anyway, rest is a sub-category of self-care. Let me show you this:

Self care 

  • Eating well
  • Getting exercise
  • Doing your hobby
  • Journaling/getting out your thoughts in some sort of medium

Rest

  • Chilling in bed
  • Catching up on telly
  • Eating chocolate
  • Cuddling with your cat

Taking care of yourself also means getting things done, to unload unnecessary stress. You can’t eat chocolate and watch Netflix all day every day, without consequences of bad health. Similarly, procrastinating an essay until the night before it’s due because you’ve been binge-watching telly is not self-care. Although watching Netflix might be a way of taking care of yourself and relaxing, prioritising it over the work that needs to get done will not make you feel any better. Self-care means something different to each individual, but the main principle is taking care of yourself as the word states.

Scenario

It’s a Monday afternoon, last lesson of school. The teachers sets you an essay, to be completed by Friday. You’re so tired by the time you get home; you don’t get started yet. However, this pattern continues until Thursday. Now you’re in a panic! Only a few hours to get this essay sorted? Why didn’t you do it sooner?

You didn’t do it sooner because you prefer to watch Netflix in the evenings. And chilling out, according to your social media feed, is self-care. That excuse keeps you going.

But, is waiting until the last minute really self-care? No. Perhaps getting a chunk done, rewarding yourself with an episode of Stranger Things, then getting another chunk done would be self-care. Otherwise you’re spending the entire week watching Netflix with the pressing concern of completing the essay in the back of your brain. You can’t properly enjoy relaxing in front of the telly when you know something is due in a few hours.

I will explain procrastination in further detail, as a separate post. However this one is supposed to be about self-care. Sorry the tangents are a bit annoying; I can’t help it! Eventually this will get better, but at the moment I don’t want to erase any paragraphs because I feel like they contribute to the post. 

Self-care is individual. 

Even I, the one preaching this message, need a reminder sometimes. I need to be told that taking care of yourself is not solely watching Doctor Who and eating chocolate raisins. It’s getting my work done, then rewarding myself with Doctor Who.

Okay, and back to the first paragraph. It’s called cyclical structure, and perhaps it will improve the continuity of this article. Umm, commenting on my writing as I’m writing is a little bit strange. I don’t know: do you like it? Or would you prefer me to shut up and get the facts down?

“It’s okay to do nothing”

What is nothing to you? You can’t simply do nothing. You are always doing something. Now, watching TV is not nothing, is it? It’s watching TV. So if you spend an afternoon watching TV, label it as such. Do not fall into the trap of calling relaxing ‘doing nothing’. Because relaxing is something. Relaxing is a key part in taking care of yourself. Next time you sit in a bath, singing along to 1D and using a hairbrush as a microphone, call it SELF-CARE. Not NOTHING!

As Winnie The Pooh says, ‘doing nothing leads to the very best something’.

How do you practise self-care? Does it consist of journaling, exercise or TV?

I hope this post starts up a conversation. I would love to chat with you. Although it is dissimilar to my regular content, I did really enjoy writing it. Let me know your thoughts: whether you read the whole thing through or just skimmed over parts? I know I am not usually compelled to read through chunky posts, I much prefer ones laid out with questions and answers. What about you?

Take care of yourself.

catherine x

My Instagram

Check out what I’m reading

My bookstagram (where I share bookish photos and thoughts)

Goodbye

I never thought I would have to say this, but I need to take a break. It’s not in light of recent events; I’m not trying to avoid speaking about racism. Ideally I would use my platform for sharing my opinions and amplifying other, more important, voices. This idea of stepping back from the keyboard has been on my mind for a while. Months, even. I do enjoy blogging, but not as much as I used to. This isn’t a ‘goodbye’ sort of post. This is a goodbye, for now. I love writing and sharing my beliefs, and interacting with you. However recently I’ve been lacking a healthy balance. I want to be excited at the prospect of writing a blog post, but at the moment I’m avoiding it. 

This short hiatus is going to last until summer break, I think. I hope.

Get in touch via email if you need me. I’ll also be discontinuing engagement on Instagram.

While this period of ‘reset’ goes on, I’ll be documenting it in diaries. When I come back I’m hoping to have a series lined up of Glow Up Diaries – inspired primarily by Sophie’s Corner. They will include three main focuses: fitness, balance and motivation. 

Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be my last post.

I’ll be back soon.

Lots of love,

erin x

(I wish I didn’t have to add this as a footnote, but I am educating myself on the topic of racism. Just because I haven’t shared that part of my life, doesn’t mean it isn’t going on. I would recommend looking at UnJaded Jade’s video ‘But I’m Not Racist?’ if you are white and seeking clarity.)

Instagram

Goodreads

20 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself | Self-Care Sunday | The Positivity Project

We’ve come to the end of The Positivity Project week! Though the launch is over, we’ll still be creating things together to help you feel more positive. However, you’ll be glad to hear I won’t be publishing a post every day. It was quite fun though, while it lasted! Do you think I should do something like this again, or was it too much to keep up with?

To conclude this week of positivity, Emily decided on Self-Care Sunday. I’ve been looking forward to this one, because I have so much to say about self-care. In this post I will be sharing my favourite ways to take care of myself. However, I did explain more in-depth what self care is in another blog post! I would really appreciate you checking that out. Remember that what works for me may not work for you, because we’re all different. Individuality is the beauty of the human race! Don’t change yourself in hope of becoming ‘perfect’. There’s no such thing. We’re all beautiful in our own ways. As a perfectionist, this is hard news to digest. But over the years I’ve come to terms with it, and I’m trying to accept myself for who I am. And, of course, accepting others for who they are too!

Quite simply, these are the things that I do to take care of myself:

    Sticking to my routine
    Not lying in (kind of links in with the previous one)
    Eating well, but also allowing myself snacks now and then.

Pre-isolation: eating a pizza with some friends as a treat! Why on Earth not?

    Not procrastinating!
    Getting dressed well everyday, to avoid feeling lazy.
    Reading books. The more, the better!

    Spending less time on screens.
    Avoiding social media, only for blog related things.
    Spending time with the people I love.
    Keeping in touch with the people I love when I can’t see them (see yesterday’s post for more on that!)
    Having a bath then putting on cosy PJs

    Reminding myself of my goals and aspirations
    Journaling 
    Allowing myself to scroll through Pinterest and look at inspiring quotes
    Remembering that I can’t please everyone
    Watching Harry Potter while knitting

    Telling myself that self-care isn’t selfish, but it leads to me caring more for other people!
    Practising my cello and usually zoning out because I get so consumed in the music that the outside world no longer matters to me!
    Doing something I enjoyed as a child, like Lego, drawing or colouring (yes I still do those things occasionally)

This is a photo from Monday’s post (Mindfulness Monday) where the prompt was to do some colouring!

    Setting out clothes for the following day

I really appreciate those of you whom have read every single post of mine this week! It means the world – your support is always appreciated. Don’t forget, after reading all of these lengthy posts, to step away from the screen. Though being active online is a huge part of my passion, it’s not always necessary. We need to step away sometimes, and appreciate the moment. There’s no time like the present!

How will you take care of yourself today? After commenting below, will you take a moments rest from social media?

Thank you for sticking by me this week, and sharing with me all of your wonderful positivity journeys. Please show some support to the wonderful creator, Emily, whom without I would be seriously lacking inspiration. Her blog is absolutely stunning, along with her Instagram (click the links if you have time!)

erin x

Instagram

Goodreads

Top 5 Easy Tips On How To Glow-Up/Get Out Of A Slump

Deciding to take a break wasn’t an impulse decision that happened overnight. In fact, the factors leading to my unexplained hiatus were brewing for a few months. I soldiered through my schedule, ticking boxes and the sort, until I realised that I probably need to step back and consider myself for a second. Because though I was promoting self-care and exercise, I wasn’t doing it for myself. It was very hard, at first, to begin my mini ‘glow-up’. Especially because beforehand my schedule revolved around school and being busy. When school closed and all my plans were cancelled, that’s when I found time on my hands. I didn’t spend my extra time productively and ended up binge-eating and watching a lot of TV. It was unhealthy but I caught myself before it got worse. I plucked myself out of my sad hole and said, ‘let’s take a break from social media, start working out, continue with my yoga and stop snacking’. The expectations of myself weren’t realistic, which meant sticking to them felt like I’d conquered heaven and earth. I’m still in the process of keeping to them, of course. Health is for life, not just for January. I’m not an expert but here are few tips for any of you that want to glow up:

1) Exercise

Workouts aren’t my cup of tea but I found an amazing YouTuber called Lucy who does 7 minute regimes that get your heart rate up but aren’t so hard that you collapse on the ground! I found it easy to slip it in to my mornings and it has had a profound impact on the rest of the day, making me feel like I can conquer my to-do list. You’ve heard me rant about yoga previously, and I also do that every morning. At the moment I can only go out for exercise once a day and it’s always a walk with my family. Though I only do a little bit, it has massively changed my life.

2) Waking Up At A Consistent Time

You don’t need to be a morning person to be productive. I always wake up at 6am but if you go to bed later than obviously you still have the same hours in the day (06.00-22.00 or 09.00-01.00). Go to bed at a consistent time and wake up at the same time too. Your body will get into a routine as long as you don’t skip a day (including weekends). I’ve not to a point where I can trust myself to wake up without an alarm but I’m sure you can.

3) No Snacking

It’s tricky, but it’s good for me. It means I can appreciate my meals more and I hardly ever feel bloated. I still have a tangerine mid-morning but I’ve cut out the late-night snacking thing that I really struggled with. 

4) Be Forgiving

I’ll have a packet or crisps every now and then. I’ll miss a workout or wake up later. The key is to not be hard on yourself. And the more forgiving you are, the easier it is to carry on again. I used to do workouts every day but then I’d miss one. Once I’d miss one, I’d think it was pointless then all of that effort has gone to waste. Please don’t do that to yourselves! 

5) To-Do Lists

It’s second nature for me to write a to-do list every day. I find them an effective way to keep on track of what you need to do. Especially with home-schooling, it’s important I’m getting my work done. Sometimes I might need to set my own work just to make sure I don’t fall behind! I keep my to-do lists in my bullet journal. As my bujo is a ‘pretty’ place, I feel a certain extent of pressure to tick off my lists just because it makes me spreads look complete. It’s a healthy pressure though and often means I get things done.

Those are all the five tips I have for you today. I am not perfect and I just want to make it clear that I don’t always keep to these tips. This blog is supposed to be as raw and truthful as possible. This sort of lifestyle is me at my peak, obviously why I’d like to share it with you. I don’t feel compelled to telling you about my unhealthy habits because that’s my past. I only want this to be a positive space, and I am living proof that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So if you are going through a rough time, please talk to me or someone that you trust. I am always here for those of you that need me. If you don’t want to share with me, just try to follow these few tips. They helped me out of a rut and I’m sure they’ll help you too. 

Do you have any glow-up tips? How do you get out of a slump? Could you share some motivation in the comments of this post, to help someone going through a rough time?

Can’t wait to hear from you,

erin x

Instagram

Goodreads