Monday, 8 January 2018

30 Things About Me



As I haven’t blogged in so long I thought it would be cool to do a post with a bit more about me in, but instead of just doing a bio or something I thought I’d post a 30 Things About Me type thing! 





My health condition is: Generalized Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, previously known as Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. I was diagnosed as a child over 20 years ago 
The worst symptom is: fatigue for sure 
This year I want to: improve my health as much as possible. And swim a mile
My starsign is: Scorpio. I mean technically now Libra but no. I’m such a Scorpio 
I wish I could: apply makeup. I just...can't
My favourite cheese is: Comté
One bizarre thing I love is: walking round empty-ish supermarkets, especially late at night. Looking at food on shelves makes me feel calm
On weekends I: mostly sleep and watch tv! I'd love to do more but I'm always shattered
The best thing to ever happen to me was: probably getting my job in publishing. It was my dream job & living in London was amazing
My favourite book is: both Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta 
When I'm ill I like to: watch mindless tv in bed while my boyfriend fetches me drinks and treats
The place I really want to travel to is: Cuba! I would love to go to Cuba 
Something I dislike about myself is: I'm incredibly self-indulgent 
I would love to move to: Edinburgh. That city has my heart
Everyday I take: at least 10 pills, but it can be up to 28 depending on pain levels! 
My favourite TV show is: historically, Buffy. More recently, Hannibal. On TV right now: Riverdale 
I really want to learn: French! 
If I won a million pounds tomorrow I would: buy a house, super boring
The most expensive item I own is: my MacBook Air. Worth every penny 
I'm really good at: swimming! I think my hypermobility helps me out here 
One food I hate is: mushrooms. In all forms and contexts 
I love making: homemade salsa. Time consuming but delicious 
An embarrassing fact about me is: after a shower I let our puppy lick the water droplets off my legs. She loves it! 
I couldn't live without: reading. Reading is and always has been my favourite thing to do
My favourite cuisine is: Mexican
I am obsessed with: skincare at the moment!
I really like that I: am very decisive 
My favourite item of clothing is: my Adidas Gazelles 
If I was treating myself I would buy: something from Lush, or really nice chocolate 
I find it hard to: motivate myself to exercise. It helps my condition but not in the short-term and so it’s difficult to make myself do it


Friday, 5 January 2018

Jan - June 2018: What I'm Excited For


I thought it would be cool to highlight some of the books, TV shows and films I'm excited to see released in the first half of the year. I've limited myself to 5 of each otherwise we'd all be here forever!

Books

The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton (Feb)
A Spoonful of Murder - Robin Stevens (Feb)
Children of Blood and Bone - Tomi Adeyemi (March)
The Brightsiders - Jen Wilde (May)
All Of This Is True - Lygia Day Penaflor (May)
Bonus: I Was Born For  This - Alice Oseman (TBC)


Honestly I could easily list double the amount of books I have here, but I didn't want this post to be *too* long! These all sound incredible and I cannot wait for them. The Belles has been getting loads of positive early reviews and just sounds incredible! I really cannot wait for my beloved Daisy and Hazel to be back in A Spoonful of Murder - I've missed them! Children of Blood and Bone got tonnes of buzz at acquisition and sounds like an amazing fantasy read. I loved Jen's first book Queens of Geek so I'm excited for her upcoming The Brightsiders and then All Of This Is True sounds so meta and weird and cool and just YES. Alice Oseman has confirmed her latest book should be out spring 2018 and it just sounds incredible. I have loved both of her previous books so cannot wait for this one.



TV Shows

Dancing On Ice (Jan)
Riverdale 2b (Jan)
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3 (Jan)
Black Lightning (Jan)
Jessica Jones (March)


My favourite thing about Jan is the return of many TV shows! You may have noticed these are a combination of comic book adaptations and reality TV - two of my fave categories! Dancing On Ice has been gone FOREVER so I am very excited to see it return! Drag Race is one of my fave TV shows EVER and the last season of All Stars was excellent so I have high hopes for this one. Then ofc we have the return of Riverdale which was one of my fave shows of 2017, the return of Jessica Jones which I feel like I have been waiting forever for, and the start of Black Lightning which features a black retired superhero vigilante and sounds so good!




Films

Lady Bird
Black Panther
Tomb Raider
Love, Simon
Ocean's Eight


Lady Bird is a film I've heard so much about from people in the states so I'm really excited that we'll be getting it in the UK this year. I went for more of a mix of films than just featuring every Marvel release between now and the end of June. Black Panther is the Marvel film I'm most looking forward to this year; it looks so good and I'm so excited to see a more diverse cast on screen. I do kinda like the original Tomb Raider films despite them being kinda terrible, and I'm hoping this outing can improve on them. I adore Alicia Vikander and don't think she's turned in a bad performance. Love, Simon is an adaptation of a YA book I love: Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda and I'm SO SO excited to see a film about a GAY TEENAGER in the cinema! Ocean's Eight cannot be bad given that outstanding female cast. I can't wait.



What are you excited for this year?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

2018: Small Goals and Stretch Goals


I've never actually been one to make too many resolutions, but at the moment with being off work my  life feels a little unstructured and out of control. As a result I've come up with a series of small goals that I want to achieve while I'm off work but also to carry through to my return. I've also come up with a series of stretch goals I'd love to achieve. 

Small goals

Out of bed and dressed everyday: I am really bad for not doing this. On a bad pain/fatigue day I often stay in bed all day, despite the fact that when I DO get out of bed I actually feel better. So I want to do this daily even if it's only for a little bit.

Do my physio everyday: I got really good at this then the festive period got in the way. So I want to bring this back in. My physio has 3 parts: stretching exercises, pilates exercises and weights. The weights I added in myself because my shoulders are my worst joint and the muscles around them often get tense and sore. I notice an immediate effect when I do this so I really need to keep it up.

Skincare routine everyday: I have pretty much got my skincare routine now but when I feel ill it's one of the first things to fall by the wayside which is silly given that it takes literally a few minutes and really makes me feel better.

Maintain changing bedding fortnightly: I brought this in in 2017 and stuck to it. I was terrible for getting a bit lazy when it came to bedding changes, but regular ones make me feel much better, especially given how much time I spend in bed. 

Practice French daily: I really want to learn French and I've been practicing with 2 apps: Duolingo and Memrise. I want to do this daily in 2018. 



Stretch goals

Swim a mile: I was doing really well with swimming, I got up to being able to swim 1KM but I haven't been for a long time. Not only do I want to get back to swimming, I want to build my lengths up so I can swim a mile. 

Go to the cinema 30 times: I LOVE the cinema and I have a Cineworld card, but with being so ill this year I haven't been as much. In 2016 I went to the cinema 40 times but in 2017 I only managed 20. So I'm splitting the difference and hoping I can stretch to 30 times in 2018. I'm not setting a monthly goal for this as it depends on what films are out/how I'm feeling.

Give blood: I've been meaning to do this for AGES. I had a tattoo in November so I will have to wait a while but I'm determined to finally do this in 2018. 

Learn 5 new recipes: I find cooking hard. All the chopping and standing and lifting/carrying of heavy things. I can usually only do it with an assistant to help. My repertoire of dishes is embarrassingly small so I'd like to increase this by 5 in 2018. 

Read 70 books: I managed 50 in 2017, which is way behind the 100 I used to get. So I'm hoping in 2018 I can increase this to 70. 


Do you have any goals for 2018? Big or small, let me know!


Sunday, 31 December 2017

Favourite Books of 2017


I love reading and I managed 50 books in 2017. Out of those, I've picked my favourite ten books below. I haven't ordered them as that would be an almost impossible task!



Moxie - Jennifer Matthieu
I loved this one so much I inhaled in it one night. An empowering and affirming feminist story that serves as both an intro for budding feminists and an enjoyable read if you're more familiar. I especially loved that intersectionality was included because for me this is an important element of feminism. The romance in this one also stood out to me.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe - Lauren James
It's difficult to say much about this one for fear of ruining it, so lets just say it's quite a ride! I read it in one night, finishing at 3am, and had to text my boyfriend on his night shift the whole plot so I could talk to him about it. Genuinely one of those books where the less you know about it the better.

The Pearl Thief - Elizabeth Wein
This is the prequel for Code Name Verity featuring Queenie, one of the protagonists from that story. It centres on a mystery in the holidays at her family's ancestral Scottish home and has really good bi and traveller rep. It's especially poignant and heartbreaking if you read Code Name Verity first, which I recommend.


We Are Okay - Nina Lacour
This is a beautiful, introspective and heartbreaking read. I absolutely loved it and it's one of those books where the emotions just seep into you. I actually borrowed it from a friend and loved it so much I bought my own copy. This one wins my Most Beautiful Book* Award (*not actually a real thing, but if it was, this would win)

History Is All You Left Me - Adam Silvera
Another heartbreaking one, this actually made me cry which is an uncommon experience for me! There is so much raw grief in this story; made all the more impactful by the inclusion of the 'history' chapters from before Theo's death.

All The Crooked Saints - Maggie Stiefvater
This is Maggie's first book since finishing The Raven Cycle series. It has many of the same elements seen in Maggie's other books: magical realism, characters with complex motivations, mythology native to a family/island/community and feelings ascribed to inanimate objects. At the same time though it felt very different. I didn't quite love this one as much as others of Maggie's but it's still easily in my top ten.


When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon
This is just the sweetest contemp romance. I really loved the elements of Dimple's culture that were brought in, especially her parents talking to her in Hindi. This is reminiscent of Stephanie Perkins and for me shows that any book can be made to be representative without losing anything at all from the story

The Spellbook of the Lost and Found - Moira Fowley-Doyle
I loved Moira's first book The Accident Season and so this was my most anticipated 2017 read. It did not disappoint. Beautiful, whimsical and unique it's a perfect read for fans of magical realism, with good LGBT rep as well.

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
Is there a top ten books list that DOESN'T feature this book?! Angie Thomas really knocked it out of the park with her debut novel, title inspired by Tupac's THUG LIFE. The subject matter is timely and powerful: an unarmed teen shot to death by a police officer in the US and the aftermath that follows. The topic is masterfully handled by Angie who characterises everyone and the neighbourhoods they live in so beautifully.


Eliza and Her Monsters - Francesca Zappia
You may notice that there are only 9 books in the above photo. This is because I lent this one to a friend for her to read! Eliza is the anonymous creator of a hugely popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea, and this book takes an authentic look at the positive and negative aspects of Fandom and at the complex relationship between fans and creator. If you liked Fangirl you'll love this one. 


What were your favourite books of 2017?


Saturday, 30 December 2017

Looking Back At 2017

I feel like whenever bloggers return from a long absence they write a post explaining where they've been. I can't really say anything other than...life happened. Things went a bit wrong. But I'd like to get back into blogging if I can and felt like a post recapping 2017 was a good start!


2017 has, overall, been a pretty shit year. Our beautiful, beautiful dog Mabel died very suddenly in January. My health has declined severely to the point I am now signed off work sick and have been for 2 months now. My mum had a prolonged hospital stay in the summer that left me looking after a young puppy and a house and still maintaining my job (though my mum is doing much better now so it was for the good). And obviously it was a very shit year for the world at large. There were some light spots in the dark though, and that's what I'd prefer to focus on now. 

Our beautiful Mabel just after midnight on New Years Day

Despite my worsening health I managed 7 holidays this year! I went to: Budapest in January, Wroclaw in March, Rome in May, Cologne in July, Prague in September, Edinburgh in October and Lisbon in November. I feel like I am now the queen of reasonably priced holidays as this lot cost me probably just over a grand. I feel like this was a good mix of holidays; I went to 5 countries I hadn't been to before, went back to Cologne which I first visited over a decade ago with school, and went back to my favourite city: Edinburgh. I think Rome and Budapest were probably my favourite out of the bunch! It was amazing to finally go to Italy and it was so warm and lovely and the city is so full of treasures. And Budapest was icy and freezing but in that clear, clean, crisp cold way that is just wonderful. I'm hoping to get some posts up about these trips! I'm so grateful to my various travel buddies for being sympathetic and understanding about my limitations and not making me feel ba when we had to miss things!

Rome - I loved all the architectural layers. Thousands of years worth of structures

In Lisbon

We also got a puppy! We found our house empty and sad without our beloved Mabel, so we welcomed little Agatha into our home in March. She was a bit of a handful at first but now at nearly a year old she's settled into a lovely dog. She's so sweet and affectionate and even though we all still miss Mabel, its really nice to have another dog to love. 

Our sweet Agatha 

I also got a tattoo this year! I went at the end of November with my best friend and that was really special. I've wanted this specific tattoo for a long time so I'm really happy I finally got it! Flecti Non Frangi translates to 'bending not breaking', which I think is pretty apt for a hypermobile person! 



Even though my health has gone in the wrong direction this year, I did take some steps forward. I eventually got a new medication added into my regimen which I think is working. I started taking Magnesium which I think was helping, but then I stopped...uhh. I restarted recently. I managed to see a physio who gave me a full stretching routine to help with my pain and muscle tightness and I started hydrotherapy. I'm hoping this will lead into more exercise in the new year. Lately I've been trying to go on more walks with Agatha to get more exercise as well. 

A small 2017 thing I'm proud of is making my skincare regime cruelty free. It's something I really wanted to do but I had existing none-CF products I wanted to use up first. Everything I use is now CF, though I do need to work on my haircare routine as some elements aren't CF yet. I also really want to work on reducing my environmental impact as much as possible in 2018, as I made small inroads this year.


And I think that's about it! I already have some plans in place for 2018 and I'm hoping it will be a better year. 

Christmas - a lovely one to end 2017 with

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chronic Illness and the Seasons

For me, Autumn is the best season to be chronically ill. In theory, summer should be best, because it is (again, in theory) hot and warmth is good for my joints, but the problem with summer is the clothing. I pretty much have to wear lace-up boots that cover my ankle and have a sturdy sole, and while this is fine for me apart from on very hot days, it does not fit in with other people's perceptions of what my summer footwear should consist of. This past summer, I did finally find the perfect pair of sandals from Dr Martens and while I love them, I couldn't wear them all the time because they just aren't supportive enough.


It isn't just the footwear that causes a problem in summer though, it's the rest of my clothes. I have to keep my body warm, because cold limbs = pain, stiff, locked joints and general badness. And unfortunately, I have a body that is tough to keep warm. I can go all the way to about 23 degrees (with minimal exercise) and still be happy in jeans or 200 denier tights. Again, this makes me look a bit weird. It's only on the (very rare) occasions that we have a hot enough day or if I'm away in a hotter country, that I go bare-legged.

My personal favourite season is winter, the antithesis to summer. I can wear all my layers and my boots without standing out, but the weather is often so cold that, no matter how much I like it, it's almost impossible for me to stay warm enough to be comfortable, especially out of the house.

This leaves Spring and Autumn. Spring pretty much has to be dismissed outright because I am NOT a pastel-shades kinda girl. Which brings me to Autumn. All those things able-bodied people romanticise Autumn for are pretty essential for me as a person with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. Autumn means I can wear my jumpers and my scarves and my big coats and my boots and not only not be out of place, but be bang-on re appropriate seasonal clothing AND warm and comfortable. Autumn means not being quite as cold as in winter. Autumn means russet and forest green and grey and black and all those other colours I like. Autumn means justifiable reasons to stay in (it's cold, it's dark, Bake Off/Strictly/Period Drama du jour is on) which makes me feel better as a person who often has to stay in. Autumn means hot drinks and blankets and stews and soups which are all things that make me feel more comfortable. Autumn means comfort full stop.

And comfort, as a chronically ill person, is one of the end-goals of any scenario. It's rare I'll find myself pain or fatigue free, or sans any kind of symptom or side-effect, but if I'm experiencing these things while comfortable, I can cope much better. I can be better-humoured.

If you're chronically ill, which season is best for you? And if not, what's your favourite season in general?

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Eleven Films To Watch When You Feel Pretty Shit

Something I struggle with when I don't feel well is how to occupy myself. I'm usually too ill to go out or exercise or even read. I don't have the mental energy to watch anything new, and there's only so much Say Yes to the Dress one person can watch. Putting a good, familiar film on can serve a dual purpose: it's something to do, to take your mind off the pain or the fatigue, but also the perfect easy-viewing/entertaining/funny/heart-warming film provides a level of comfort and escapism and good-feeling that's so important when you aren't feeling great. 

Here are my choices of films to watch when you feel pretty shit. 

10 Things I Hate About You
Oh Heath Ledger. It is impossible to watch this film without uttering those words. So loveable and charming, with bonus Joseph Gordon-Levitt and of course, peak Julia Stiles. Humorous and heart-warming. 


The Hunger Games 
It might seem like an odd choice to make you feel better, given it's all about teenagers killing each other. But I find it very watchable, with excellent comedic elements from Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks and damn fine acting from Jennifer Lawrence. 

Pride and Prejudice
A controversial favourite adaptation of this Jane Austen classic, but I love Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen so it is my immediate favourite. I love everything about this film but especially that ballroom scene. I once watched this every day for about 3 months. 


Anything Marvel
Lets face it, pretty much any Marvel film is guaranteed high-entertainment easy-viewing. My personal favourites being Avengers Assemble and Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Pitch Perfect 
It's so funny and so feminist and so totally awesome. All of the actors work so well together which results in a slightly off-beat, totally charming and loveable dynamic. Plus who doesn't love synchronised lady dancing?!


Chalet Girl 
A low budget but utterly charming British film featuring the inimitable Felicity Jones, and Ed Westwick sporting his actual, almost-too-sexy accent. A true underdog story, it's perfect to help you feel better.

The Force Awakens 
It's just a damn good film. The perfect antidote to those prequels, it's joyful and full of loving references to the original films. It has its dark moments but ultimately it's an uplifting, inclusive and entertaining film. How can you not fall in love with Rey, Finn and Poe?!


Clueless 
A modern adaptation of 'Emma' makes this my second Jane Austen choice. Full of lines that have been permanently installed in the annals of pop culture quoting, super feminist and featuring the dreamy Paul Rudd, it's almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Your Favourite Disney 
I decided not to pick one out, because everyone has their own favourites but whichever yours is, it's a surefire way to leave you feeling better about life. Especially if you use it as an opportunity for a bit of a singalong. One of my personal favourites is Tangled. 


Ocean's Eleven
I love me a heist movie and there are so many charming actors in this it's hard not to enjoy watching it. And it's super easy viewing. 

Howl's Moving Castle
Pure escapism in the form of my favourite Studio Ghibli film. I've always liked the story of quiet Sophie, forced to find herself whilst on a strange journey in a magical castle. Plus there's the hilarious Calcifer and the enigmatic and beautiful Howl, voiced in a odd-but-it-works way by Christian Bale.   


Other excellent choices: Lord of the Rings // The Breakfast Club // The Holiday // Billy Elliot // Legally Blonde // Bring It On // The Devil Wears Prada 

What is your favourite film to watch when you feel shit?