What are your strengths?

I recently started a new job, and as the whole team had completed a strengths assessments test prior to my joining, my director thought it would be a good idea for me to do this as well. I was excited because I love doing things like this and getting some insight into myself. The test is called the CliftonStrengths34 by Gallup and consists of 177 paired statements for the test taker to pick the one that best describes them. The assessment costs $60 (although there are some simplified options for $20) so I was pleased that the company was paying for it.

The test takes one hour and starts ominously with the question: “Do you love your job?” “Yes I love it.” “No, I do NOT love it”. I was sweating bullets? Is this a trick? There wasn’t even a middle ground option and I am a middle ground babe. LOVE? Damn that is a strong word. I cannot use the word “Love” to describe any acts of labour. Besides I had only been at the job for a month at that point. I left the test for a little bit, and then came back and clicked “No, I do NOT love it” Hell be damned.

Early on into the test I started having doubts about the validity and efficacy of this test. I suck at picking between A or B; I’m always a little bit of this, a little bit of that so I found myself picking neutral quite a few times. Plus one hundred and seventy seven items are a lot and I started to feel fatigued. Some of the questions were funny, some were deep. “I have a purpose in my life……My life is very enjoyable”. It made me sad that I could not relate to either and had to be neutral.

Despite my doubts, I found the results pretty accurate. I read all the reports hungrily and as always I enjoyed seeing all the little intricacies of myself written down. The rest provides 34 strengths with a focus on the top ten for which more detail is provided. An overall leading theme is also provided from one of the ones in the picture below. As part of the details in the report, you get a breakdown of how each of the strengths manifests in your life and work, as well as tips to maximise them and blind spots to be aware of.

I will share the top five, but I really just wanted to post the first one now (that’s the whole reason for this post). The results are in italics and my reflections are not.

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

This is me to the LETTER! I find it so difficult to get rid of things, no matter how useless they appear. How did Gallup/Mr Clifton know this? Perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable. I hope so. More on this strength.

Instinctively, you probably enjoy reading because it gives you so many topics to talk about other than yourself. Characteristically you prefer to discuss ideas rather than delve — that is, make a detailed search for information — into your own or another’s personal life.

You have a craving to know more. I want to know everything.

You want to be as informed as possible about what lies ahead in the coming months, years or decades. Even so, knowledge about potential problems, difficulties or issues can be distressing and disturbing. It can raise your anxiety level. By nature, you characteristically read books, periodicals, documents, correspondence or Internet sites. You are willing to be mentally stimulated by thought-provoking ideas, information, data, predictions, insights, characters or plots.

Me. Me. Me.

The tips on maximising this strength are:

Find out more about areas you want to specialize in. Consider jobs or volunteer opportunities where you can acquire and share information every day, such as teaching, journalism or research work. I have always considered doing something for newspaper or magazine. This was more because of my love of writing but I can see how my need for information would make this a fit as well.

Regularly read books and articles that motivate you. Increase your vocabulary by collecting new words and learning their meaning. I don’t read as much as I should (thanks Netflix) but when I do I do note all the words that I don’t know the meaning of and look them up.

Devise a system to store and easily locate information you have found so you can access it quickly. Use whatever approach works best for you — a file for articles you have saved, a database or spreadsheet, or a list of your favorite websites. Good idea. For now I use the notes app on my phone, sticky notes, and bookmarks/favourites function. I hoard everything. I have tabs on my phone that have been open for years now.

Position yourself as an expert. Share your exceptional archive of facts, data and ideas with others when they need help or advice. This is something I would like to do more. I saw on Linkedin that someone I went to school with organised a training workshop and it made me wonder what exactly it is that I am good at. I have worked for 6 years and some, yet I don’t really feel like an expert in anything. I definitely need to pick this up.

Seek out subject-matter experts who would be interested in knowing what you are learning and who would find it stimulating to hear about the questions and ideas you generate through your exploration. Once I understand exactly what this means I will be sure to implement it.

The blind spot for this is as follows:

Unrestrained input can lead to intellectual or physical clutter. Consider occasionally taking inventory and purging what you don’t need so that your surroundings — and your mind — don’t become overloaded. This is great advice that I need to implement asap. There is so much junk that I am holding onto for no reason, but it is so difficult to do so ugh.

I will post about the other strengths later on but I just really wanted to share the first one. As always I am inspired to use this to improve my life and drive myself closer to living a fulfilled life. As always there is the risk that I do absolutely nothing with this information. Oh well. We shall see.

Oh, happy new year.

Pancake day

I am hungry AF at the moment but not in the mood to cook anything. I am tired from work and still have a lot to do so I decided to write this post.

As part of my choosing happiness and doing whatever it takes to make me happy extravaganza, I decided to partake in Pancake Day. I was also going to give up social media for Lent, but that’s neither here nor there. Unlike the past couple of years, I will not be fooling myself into giving anything up for Lent as it usually ends in failure (though I did actually manage to give up Instagram last year for Lent). Back to the story.

Pancake Day was looming: I was in a bit of a funk, as I often am these days, and was debating possibly making pancakes. I didn’t have any of the required ingredients at home and I was not looking to leave the house. As luck would have it, I had to return a dress I bought and the retailer offered to pick it up and sent over a postage stamp for me to print out. I don’t have a printer so that was annoying, but I quickly got over it and decided to wake up early the next day (the day of the supposed pick-up), and go into the office to print it out. That also covered my exercise requirements so it was a win win. On my way back I did what I always do and stopped by all the shops. Of course all the shops were celebrating Pancake Day and had the catchy displays and advertisements. I had the option of ready made pancakes and pancake mix and after a little delusion about trying to get plant based sugar free pancakes, I bought a pancake shaker mix and moved on. I didn’t have high hopes as I had used a shaker mix twice before and the pancakes were mushy rather than fluffy as I liked. Still, if at first (and second) you don’t succeed, try again. So I did.

On the plus side, I now knew that this pancake mix was more of a crepe consistency rather than a fluffy American type so there would be no disappointment. The first pancake turned out mushy as usual and I rolled it up into a ball and ate it like that- I really just love dough. I was ready to roll my eyes again but the second one turned out well, and the third, fourth and so on. I was quite pleased. At the last minute I decided to make some eggs to go with the pancakes, threw in some blueberries and even considered adding “ice-cream”. Ice cream is in quotes as it is vegan ice-cream which I usually like, and this one has three of my favourite things: cinnamon, toffee, and hazelnut so I expected this to be the most delicious thing ever. However, I only took two spoonfuls before I gave the tub away. It did not taste like ice-cream at all. I realise now that it is made with almond milk, whereas the vegan ones I’ve had have been soy based.

Some pictures:

There’s really no point to this post: Pancake day was two weeks ago on the 1st of March; and I did not really do anything special. However, it was a little act that made me happy that day, and I am for little acts of happiness these days. I have also been pushing myself to write more, so finishing this little post feels good too.

In pursuit of happyness

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I try to be healthy, I really do but when life gets one down, all one can do is to nurse oneself back up, and food is a good way to do so. So while I struggle to do two consecutive sit-ups, I can walk thirty minutes to and fro in the pursuit of food. In fact the only exercise I do is my daily walks to the supermarket.

A week ago, I started craving cinnamon rolls. This is not unusual as the rolls/buns/swirls/nuggets are some of my favourite things, and during the pandemic induced baking frenzy I would make them often. But I’m in a battle against my sugar addiction and I have abstained from cinnamon pastry for a while. I saw a particularly juicy wet bun on instagram and I decided I would give in to temptation and go get some during the week.

Throughout the work day, one thought kept me going; cinnamon bunzzzzzzzzzzzz. I worked till 7pm before deciding to wrap it up lest all the buns disappear. There is a large supermarket which is a thirty minute walk from my house; it has more things than the ones in my neighbourhood and I walk there sometimes to convince myself that I am exercising and getting my steps in. This far away supermarket has my favourite cinnamon bites (which is the way I discovered the supermarket and the true reason I go there) and they also have this cinnamon tear and share bun platter which I never tried because I always told myself it was too much (you know how I like to delude myself about eating healthy). But on this day, the platter was exactly what I wanted. So off I went in the pouring rain at 7pm in pursuit of happyness. (This brings back fond memories of 6 years ago when I had a McDonald’s craving for the first and last time).

Now you may not know that I am a little psychic (ha!) so before I got to the supermarket I knew I was going to be disappointed, and I was. I stood in the bakery section for a good minute, staring at the empty spot where the cinnamon buns were supposed to be, not knowing what to do next. I bought a pack of my cinnamon bites, which are nice but were not what I was craving. I didn’t want the hard delicious bites but the soft chewy bun. I decided to walk 15 minutes to a smaller store where they might have the bun but was also disappointed. Right before the final hurdle home I stopped by the store three minutes from my house and voila, cinnamon buns! Not the big sharer one I was craving but still a bun regardless. I could have saved myself the trouble if I had gone to the nearby store in the first place but hey, at least I got my steps in.

Then I went home and ate everything in one go-the bites, the microwaved bun; all that cinnamon goodness.

Of course I had awoken the beast that had lain latent for months- the very next day I went out to the store for another bun but they didn’t have any so I had to make do with a cinnamon swirl (which I used to eat almost daily but does not compare to the bun). The day after that I made another trip and got two cinnamon buns! I heated only one in the hopes of saving the other for later but of course I just ended up eating the other one cold, right after.

On Friday I made another trip to the big store, making sure to leave earlier, and tada! packs and packs of the Cinnamon tear and share bun.

Of course this was not enough; while debating whether to get two packs of the tear&share, I saw a 2 pack of “super cinnamon scrolls” which I had never seen before. I threw it in my basket and was giddy as heck, debating which one to eat first (haha I ate both). Well the super cinnamon scrolls tested off, and made my mouth feel weird. I thought maybe it’s because I was eating them cold straight out of the pack. I had eaten all but one bite when it occurred to me that maybe it was meant to be cooked first in the oven. I put this one bite in the microwave and it didn’t change anything. I fished out the packaging from the bin and it did not mention anything about needing to be cooked. I googled it and turns out it is a vegan recipe *insert blank stare* What a waste of money and calories. The reviews on the website are not pleasant either so I’m not the only one. I’ve been coughing since I ate it (although this really could be due to literally anything else).

It even looks weird.

And that’s that. A whole post about nothing but my love for cinnamon buns. I just want to eat these warm soft buns everyday with no repercussions. Alas, life is unfair.


1. A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
2. A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

One thing about me? I will remain in one position- a flat, a job, a city- for years on end until something forces me to change. I am a creature of habit and routine; I like what I like and it does not take much to keep me content (happy is a stretch). For a while I enjoy the normalcy but then life becomes stale and I become restless. I bear this restlessness with unease, wishing for a change but not actually taking any steps towards this. Change requires too much energy and it is easier to remain in the same spot, until it’s not.

While this has been my comfort zone for years, I now find myself stagnant in the later part of my twenties. Stagnant; like a body of water with no current or flow, my life has become dull, unmoving and unpleasant. Though I (claim to) enjoy my routine, the stagnancy has been eating away at my spirit for a while now. Deep down I am a social person whose social skills/desires have been blunted by years of solitude and inertia.

I moved into a flat-share back in almost five years ago and I have been here ever since. In this time I have seen probably twenty people move in and move out soon after to greener pastures. They have changed jobs, houses, even relationships and cities; and I am still here- in the same doggone flat watching as the house gets dirtier and dirtier with each new batch of tenants. I mostly stay in my room, avoiding the only communal area-the kitchen-as much as I can. I am not free here and my soul is not at rest. I have grown weary of welcoming new tenants- I don’t care to know any new people. I so badly long for a big cozy couch, and the freedom to have a house all to myself (or at the very least to not be with strangers). So why not just move out? That is what normal people would do right? Well I am highly abnormal. What’s the point of paying more money in rent when I could just buy my own place and pay mortgage. So I remain here, stagnant and unhappy.

My Job is another thing- I like it okay, and as I always say-things could be worse. Still everyone in my year group and most of the people in the year above have moved on to new jobs, and I’m still here. My mother recently suggested that I apply for new jobs just for a change, as this is what people typically do. A new job could mean higher pay and more opportunities, but as always the change frightens me and I really cannot be bothered to go through the stress of change. Do I really want to go through the stress of job application only to end up with a job which could be more stressful and less flexible than the one I currently have? A job is a job no? I don’t want to quit my job until I find my passion/raison d’etre and can do that. In addition to the effort, my fear with change is the possibility of regret-what if the grass is not greener on the other side and I start to wish I had stayed where I was?

Change happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Well, I have had enough. I have started looking for a new flat. What was the last straw? I’m tired of the revolving door of people, and there are two mouldy pots in the kitchen that no one is taking responsibility for (it could really only be one person). I have been casually searching for possible options but now I have put on my big girl pants and actually started organising viewings. Yes I will have to pay more each month, but what is the point of money if I cannot use it to make myself happy?

As for my job, I will stay on for a little bit longer. A steady income is nothing to take for granted, especially in these pandemic times. But rather than simply say things could be worse, I need to actively become aware of all my options, both in the corporate sphere and in the creative space. I am reminded of this quote:

Find something to work on, something that makes you excited, something you want to learn.

It’s not just the job that stifles me, it is the fact that I am doing nothing else. There is nothing that feeds my spirit and makes me excited, I am just existing day in day out. I would not be so bored, if I had something to look forward to after work. I met up with some people from work recently and one of my managers spent some time talking about her garden and all her babies-tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, even sunflowers. She is also planning her wedding so there is so much for her to look forward to in addition to work. Whereas I just roll out of bed, start working, and roll back in at night. Stagnant.

The sheer possibility of a change has brightened my day and lifted my spirits. I remember how excited I was when I first moved into this house; the joy of having my own space. I held on to that for five years too long. As stressful as it can be, change is so necessary from time to time. I hope I never forget this.

Five years later…

Sometimes I wish I could peek into my life 5 years from now, to see how things will be.

Five years ago in March of 2016, on the one year anniversary of this blog, I wrote a post in which I wondered what my life would be like in 2021.

What will my life be like 5 years from now, I wonder? Will I be happy and fulfilled? Will I still be alive? Will I have fallen victim to a maniac suicide bomber? Life has this way of being completely unpredictable, tossing you in directions in which you never expected. Whatever happens, I hope to be alive, I hope to be happy, and I hope to always have a reason to laugh.

Well I am pleased to say that I am still alive, to the glory of God, and I have not fallen victim to a suicide bomber (or pandemic or a crazy flat-mate or food poisoning). I am not however, happy and fulfilled. Far from it. I am trying to remember what I was doing in March 2016. I had finished university and National service, and was sat at home, bored as hell, trying to figure out my next step. I would end up applying for a Master’s degree and move to a different continent by myself. In 5 years, I have completed my Master’s Degree, started a job, and finished a professional qualification. Personally, I am in the same comfortable rut that I have been in for over a decade. It makes me a bit sad that I am still waiting for my life to begin, and as I get older I get more nervous that it will never happen. In five years I will still be here waiting for my life to begin. Terrifying.

Sometimes I scare myself by thinking: what if nothing changes? What if I am in this exact same spot, daydreaming about the same things and watching life pass me by? Change is scary, but even scarier is remaining the same.

Sigh. I haven’t the foggiest clue how to move my life forward and make my life more fulfilling. I have to put down my phone and sit with myself for a while. Things haven’t been all bad; there have been moments of laughter and fun, but they are not enough and they have no long lasting effect on my heart-once the moment ends, the feeling disappears as well.

One day I will come back and write about how happy and fulfilled I am. I’m over the whining.

2020 Recap.

I’ve been writing on this blog for over five years now, and I hardly go back to review things I wrote in the past. Sometimes I do go through an old post and I am either quite impressed by my insight and eloquence, or cringing at the childish nonsense and lack of editing.

To round off this great year, I have gone through all the posts from this year and highlighted a few of my favourites.

Hello Twenty Twenty: This was the first post of the year, and what a year that has been. In the post I was full of optimism: “2020 feels different” “I feel good going into 2020 and I am determined to make this year count.” I wanted to do a lot with this year and my vision statement was to engage my life mindfullydiscover my purpose, and travel. I do not feel that I ticked off any of those boxes. In this post I also outlined a few things I wanted to do in order to achieve my vision; let’s go through them shall we?

By the end of the year, I want to be in a much more fulfilling space in my life, I want to have a full rich life that I am proud of. I don’t want to be bored. I want to meet people who will change my life for the better. I am definitely not in a more fulfilling space in my life, in fact this was possibly the least fulfilling year, or to rephrase, the year in which I felt the most restless and unfulfilled. I was so stressed out and anxious at work and I realised my current lifestyle is not sustainable. I really need to get off my butt and start doing things that enrich my spirit.

I need to stop being so lazy and restless. I want to actually take the time to figure out what drives me, rather than simply going where the wind blows. Ha. Ha. Ha. I’m still so restless and still so lazy and still so undriven. I faintly think writing is what my purpose is but I am too lazy to fully pursue this.

I want to finish a piece of writing (at least a draft), rather than leaving a bunch of scanty stories and poems. I’m disappointed in myself that I was not able to achieve this and there are really no excuses. I spent all my time either working or recovering from work. I watched so much films, shows, YouTube clips that my eyes were twitching from all the screen-time. I barely read any books and did not complete any writing. I hope 2021 will be better but I have to do better.

I want to develop and maintain fulfilling relationships. I developed zero relationships this year, but I will say that the lockdown made me communicate more with my friends and family. I could have reached out more often to more friends but as always there was nothing to say.

I want to commit to a hobby rather than spend all my time either working or watching television. I want to travel at least four times (to four different places). Ha. Ha. Ha.

I want to have another great birthday celebration. My birthday was in the first week of lockdown so I spent it alone. However I woke up early and went to the shop where I got myself some flowers, ice cream and brownie mix. I enjoyed calls and messages from friends and family, baked the brownies, and then dressed up and settled down to a fun virtual party with my friends, eating my brownie and ice cream. I was alone in my room but I was not lonely; I felt the love and I was happy.

Addict: I wrote this post in January about loneliness has become a staple in my life; simultaneously a burden and a craving. Loneliness is terrible but the longer it stays the more it attaches itself to the personality that it is difficult to be rid of it. I particularly love this quote from Olivia Laing: Loneliness grows around them like mould or fur, a prophylactic that inhibits contact, no matter how badly contact is desired.

For the love of God: In this post, I revaluated my feelings about religion and God. It is amazing how fickle opinions are, and how opinions are really dependent on life experiences. A stressful 2019, and the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, made me realise the importance of a belief system and having something to fall back on. Being an adult is hard, and for a lot of people religion, as well as the concept of God, can provide much needed comfort, similar to a child with a security blanket.

The year of realising things: By now 2020 is the year in which everyone has realised something-good or bad. My personal realisations revolve around the relationship between my eating habits and skin issues, and the impact loneliness has on all these. I also realised that I have an addiction to sugar, diary is bad, fibre is good, and nothing really matters.

Two sides of the same coin: I am highlighting this mainly because this issue had been on my mind for the longest time and it was a relief to finally put it down in words.

Who Killed Malcolm X?: This Netflix documentary led me down my usual rabbit hole of articles and YouTube videos as I attempted to devour everything about Malcolm X.

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to: My birthday has always been a source of angst and anxiety for me. I spend all year stewing in my loneliness, mostly happily, but my birthday is the one day where I want to be celebrated. I started writing the post to whine about how I have never had any good birthdays, but in writing it I realised that I have actually been quite fortunate and that people in my life have done their best to make me happy on my birthday. It is just easier to remember the bad birthdays. In summary; it is nobody’s responsibility to make my birthday a happy one. I need to make the plans and make my own dreams come true.

I love all women….even the ones that I hate: In this I laid down my frustrations and anger at the treatment of women as sexual objects with no autonomy.

Illusion that youth is happy: This quote from W. Somerset Maugham spoke deeply to me. A lot of young people are under the erroneous impression that our teens and twenties should be full of wild raucous fun and Gatsby-esque parties, which then puts so much pressure on us to be having fun all the time. The quote is simple and direct- it is an illusion that youth is happy.

All my baking posts: If there was one thing that I did in 2020, it was bake. I discovered my love and ability for baking and that made me so happy during the early days of lockdown till weight gain and cystic acne put an end to that. The feeling of satisfaction I felt as I removed my creations from the oven is incomparable. In 2021 I should redirect this energy into healthy cooking that feeds my body and skin.

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself: In which I conquer my fear of making Mac and Cheese.

A Countervailing Theory: In a year in which I barely left my house, I was happy to be able to go see some art at the Barbican.

Self care: This aspirational post on self care; aspirational because some of these are things I do, and things I should do more of but don’t.

On purpose and fear of missing out: “I don’t think your life has to have a purpose, or you a grand ambitionIt is okay to wander through life finding interesting things to do until you die.” I saw this quote on Instagram and it lingered in my mind until I wrote this post on my phone while relaxing after an invigorating spa session in Wales. I was at peace when I wrote this and that’s what I feel whenever I come across this post.

Take me back: Take me back to my childhood when I was carefree and happy. Random childhood memories regularly pop into my mind and I find myself drowning in nostalgia, especially as I live away from my family and have not seen any of them in person in a year.

This is the last day of the infamous 2020, a year which started out as everyone’s year, until Kobe Bryant died and nothing was the same again. For 2021 (which some have pointed out sounds like twenty twenty won), I just want to be alive and well, and I want the same for my family and friends.

the good old days.

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

― Andy Bernard (The Office).

We are currently living in the good old days, though it may not seem like it. I was chatting to a friend recently and we were reminiscing over the past and how much fun those times were. However the reality is that during those good old days we were stressed out of our minds and also reminiscing on the past. There’s a lesson to be learned here: no matter how stressful life may seem at the moment, things will get worse which will cause you to look back on this time with rose tinted glasses.

So in the spirit of acknowledging and celebrating the present aka the good old days, I have decided to look on the bright side, and celebrate the things that made me happy recently. Here are a few:

My Vogue subscription: I’ve never really been the type to read Vogue, let alone subscribe to it. I have only bought vogue once, earlier this year (or was it last year? Time is a myth) and that was because it was half price and only £2. Last month I was casually minding my business on Instagram when I got an trial offer to subscribe for three print issues plus free delivery plus free digital access all for £1! Pourquoi pas? I said to myself and went on to order it. It was perfect timing as well as I had been seeing pictures of my girl Beyonce on the cover of the December issue. Like most highbrow magazines Vogue releases new issues a month in advance which means the December issue was on sale in November. Anyway in claiming the £1 offer, I had to select the three issues I wanted, so naturally I said from December. I waited and waited until finally a few days ago the first package from Conde Nast arrived and I excitedly tore it open expecting to see my girl B, but instead it was Kate Moss staring at me on the cover of the January 2021 issue. It then occurred to me that in selecting December, I may have chosen to start with the January 2021 edition. Naturally I was annoyed with myself, now it was too late to get the Beyoncé issue as the stores had replaced them with Kate’s beautiful face, and I sure as fudge was not going to buy it on eBay. I decided to email the vogue team to request an update but of course kept procrastinating.

Long story short, today I came down to make dinner and another Conde Nast package was waiting for me. I thought wow February 2021 is out already but nooooo it was December 2020! That immediately lifted my spirits. I will most likely cancel my subscription after the offer period because 90% of the pages is just adverts, but I do like the smell and I will flip through looking for a perfume sample and enjoying the fashion.

My yellow nail-polish: I have been feening for a mustard colour nail varnish ever since I saw it on one of my former flatmates. Her (professionally done) nails looked so good and I could not stop thinking about it. So I searched on Amazon and saved all the options that came close for under £5. I finally ordered it and when it arrived I was disappointed to see that it was more sickly yellow than mustard. I half-heartedly painted my nails in annoyance- no base or top coat even. But by the next day I started to like the look, and on an office call everyone complimented my nails (well two people did) and after a few days the bright yellow nails were the single bright spot in my dreary life. Oop that got dark quick. Moving on.

My dinner: I have gone from hardly ever ordering food to ordering food every week during the lockdown because hey you gotta treat yourself and hey it’s not a waste of money if you’re supporting small businesses. I treated myself all the time it was ridiculous. Anyway in recent weeks I have started cooking again. Last week I bought food ingredients, and then promptly went out to order a burrito from my new favourite Tortilla spot (hey at least I got my steps in). Today on my usual daily tour of the deliveroo app, I couldn’t decide on what to order; my favourite restaurant had suddenly disappeared from the app, and my dreams of having chicken and waffles were dashed by the realisation that it was chicken breast (an abomination!). So I dragged ma petite derriere downstairs to make dinner and it was delicious. Again I was on a high from my new vogue magazine but there is also a joy in being self sufficient and not needing to order food all the time.

Realising I need a humidifier: After days of dry itchy skin and difficult breathing, it occurred to me during one of my nightly 3am overthinking sessions that there might be something up with my room. Finally that grown up word “humidifier” started to make sense to me. I did a quick google search and then ordered the cheapest hygrometer I could find. Depending on the results, I’ll go ahead and order the cheapest humidifier I can find (hopefully can find a humidifer-dehumidifier hybrid). I am excited for them to start enjoying supple skin and easy breathing.

My new skincare routine: My skin has been my problem child since March 2018, and it seems to get worse by the minute. I recently did beaucoup de research and decided on a few products which may help out. In summary I got salicylic acid, as well as vitamin c, Niacinamide and retinol serums. I can’t wait to get fresh skin and start throwing about motivational posts: “Love the skin you are in. #NoFilterNeeded.”

Sainsbury’s doughnuts: I (tried to) quit sugar and dairy a few weeks ago to help my skin but I am slowly regressing. I went to Sainsbury’s one morning and managed to pick up one of their vanilla doughnuts aka my absolute favourite. Then I went back the next day after work and the next and the next and no doughnuts! Sacre bleu! It then occurred to me that the doughnuts are made fresh each morning and so by the time I got off work in the evening they will all have been snatched up. Anyway yesterday I made a point of getting up from my work chair at lunch time to go get some fresh air, exercise and doughnuts. I managed to get doughnuts and I immediately swallowed three.

Rolling off a difficult client: I have been on a new client for the past month and things are a mess over there. Friday is my last day on the client, and while I’m sure I will get follow up queries throughout next week, it will still be nice to be officially off it and that is something to celebrate.

It’s the weekend!: This is always a reason to smile, even though it will be Monday again before we know it.

Making Christmas plans with my friend: I can’t travel home for Christmas and neither can my friend, so we are spending Christmas together. She lives in a house so we will have enough space for the festivities and merriment. Some of our other friends will be dropping in and I am looking forward to playing hostess. We were chatting today about the menu and it’s all so exciting.

My dress from Mango: I visited a friend ages ago and coveted a dress I saw in her closet. She gave me the link and encouraged me to get it too. In the spirit of not spending too much money plus I have no space in my room plus do I need yet another dress with ruffled sleeves plus I am bloated from all the baking, I did not buy it right away. I kept the tab open on my phone for months on end until I decided to just go on ahead with it. The price has significantly reduced (praise Jesus!) and now I am excited for it to come and for me to try it on.

Girlfriends: Not my actual friends, although they do make me quite happy, but I’m talking about the sitcom. Netflix recently unleashed a torrent of Black American sitcoms (well three of them) and I was eager to see them all. I couldn’t decide which one to start with so I decided to watch them all in rotation, but once I heard the Girlfriends theme song I was hooked. I watched Girlfriends a decade ago on Youtube and I quite enjoyed it. I don’t always relate to the women, and Joan Clayton drives me up the wall, but Girlfriends is a nice easy show which makes me laugh out loud and roll my eyes. I’m almost through with all 8 seasons and 172 episodes and I miss it already.

Cheers to the good old days!

In pursuit of happiness

It is past ten on Sunday night and I am anxious about Monday morning and all the work waiting for me; the carry over work from last week and the new work for the week. As always the weekend has flown by in a twinkling, but I don’t moan about this anyone because I know the week is going to zoom by just as fast.

Whew. This past week was hectic. So much so that I spent the whole weekend trying to recover from it (but of course I traded sleep for telly and I am not as rested as I would like). The problem is that I was assigned to a task at the last minute and it was something I had no clue about. I knew before the week started that it was going to be a stressful week and I was right. I spent the whole weekend stressing about the work I had to do and then spent the whole week stressing over it as well. I had no idea what I was doing, and I felt expectations were high which further stressed me out as I felt I was not being productive enough. Then I got my period. No better way to manage stress than by adding unrelenting physical discomfort to it.

I am not sure how much of the stress was self inflicted from my anxiety and general panicky nature and how much of it was actual genuine stress (due to the task itself. Of course I did not have to wake up at 6am to continue trying to figure out the work, especially as I had been worked on it well into the evening. This just made me more tired and unproductive. Add to this all the catch-up calls and emails about other tasks and the world in general I was truly fed up. On Friday at 18:30 after another demoralising hour long catch-up call I closed my work laptop and have not looked at it since. Who knows what stressors await me?

Anxiety. This constant feeling that there is something I am not doing. Even worse when there is in fact something I should be doing. Over the past few years, the anxiety has become a constant- I do enjoy stretches of time where there are no deadlines and I can just pace myself and chill. Then the stress arrives and anxiety starts up. I am probably going to wake up early tomorrow to get a head-start on the work even though I really should not. Alas this is just my nature. Even though I tried to rest this weekend I spent a good chunk being anxious; constantly feeling that there was something more productive I should be doing.

Times like this I am so over work and I would much rather be a lady of leisure/stay at home daughter.

Despite (or because of) all the stress, I tried to find ways to lift my spirits. My favourite mantra “Treat yourself” came into play and that’s just what I tried to do.

  1. I got myself a new laptop case. Now my laptop is almost a decade old and I really should be thinking of replacing it rather than accessorising. One day I was just in the mood for a laptop case; I like those artsy cozy pictures of people working on their beautifully adorned laptops. So after a couple days of searching (I’m indecisive and cheap) I found a lovely one that was suitable for my laptop model. It arrived on Monday at the end of a hectic day and that lifted my mood tremendously. Just fitting the case on my laptop and looking at it made me happy.
  2. Free stuff: A flatmate of mine recently moved out, and in return for helping him pack up his things I was able to keep certain things including a shoe rack. I had been considering getting a shoe rack so this was nice and appreciated. It’s only a shoe rack but every time I see it I feel happy, mainly because I did not pay for it. The best things in life are truly free haha.
  3. Nutella: I am far from being a health nut, but there are people with worse junk habits than me. On this Monday I found myself in bed armed with a spoon and a jar of nutella. Before the lockdown I hadn’t had nutella or any chocolate spread in years; I’m not crazy about things that are too chocolately. I only got nutella after trying some of my flatmate’s with my pancakes and experiencing a rebirth. On this day, as I lay in bed in anguish, I decided bread and butter wouldn’t do, I needed chocolate. I started with bread and nutella, then a little nutella by itself, then a little bit more and more and more until the jar was wiped clean. Once I popped I couldn’t stop. I have no regrets. It felt good.
  4. I baked a chocolate chip banana bread: I bake something every week now and this week was no different. I woke up on Saturday morning and got of bed on Saturday afternoon to make the banana bread. I have made banana bread a few times now so I expected it to be a piece of bread. I started to panic when the batter looked more like bread dough but I managed to keep it together and sort it out. I got a new loaf tin and it turned out great. It looked good and tastes great. While the bread was baking I made some pancakes and fluffy scrambled eggs. Saturday afternoon was bliss.
  5. I ordered food. As I lay in bed after eating pancakes and banana bread, I started to worry about what to eat for dinner and for the rest of the week. In the middle of trying to figure out what to cook and when to go to the shops I made the decision to just order food instead. I had ordered KFC on Friday (never again) so it was unusual for me to order twice on the weekend but once I decided to order food my mind settled down and I returned to luxuriating. The food came and it was delicious.
  6. I cleaned my room: I am not the biggest fan of cleaning, being lazy and all, but I do enjoy it somewhat and I look forward to the aftermath of a deep clean-the fresh smell and airy feeling. So I did a sort of spring cleaning where I got rid of some things (still working on my hoarding tendencies). My bathroom is sparkling; I even managed to get rid of limescale and I can clearly see my reflection in the tap as I shower. That made me so happy. I changed my bedding, took a nice shower and then snuggled in the fresh clean bed. Bliss.

Going into the new week, I am going to try not to panic so much. I will try to sleep properly and resist the urge to start work so early at the expense of my wellbeing. May this new week be good to us.

happiness is an acquired taste

“It is a curious thing, but as one travels the world getting older and older, it appears that happiness is easier to get used to than despair. The second time you have a root beer float, for instance, your happiness at sipping the delicious concoction may not be quite as enormous as when you first had a root beer float, and the twelfth time your happiness may be still less enormous, until root beer floats begin to offer you very little happiness at all, because you have become used to the taste of vanilla ice cream and root beer mixed together. However, the second time you find a thumbtack in your root beer float, your despair is much greater than the first time, when you dismissed the thumbtack as a freak accident rather than part of the scheme of a soda jerk, a phrase which here means “ice cream shop employee who is trying to injure your tongue,” and by the twelfth time you find a thumbtack, your despair is even greater still, until you can hardly utter the phrase “root beer float” without bursting into tears. It is almost as if happiness is an acquired taste, like coconut cordial or ceviche, to which you can eventually become accustomed, but despair is something surprising each time you encounter it.”

― Lemony Snicket, The End

Don’t worry, be happy.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

-Matthew 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

I found myself relying on this verse a lot recently. These days I am constantly stressed and anxious, and I have touched on it here.  It is interesting how much about myself I am realising the older I get. Everything I am experiencing now I was experiencing years back but did not realise at the time. For one, it took me a while to realise I was dealing with loneliness, or indeed that loneliness was something that one could “suffer” from. Now my new revelation is anxiety. A few years ago, while I understood being anxious, I did not truly understand anxiety as a disorder, and I might even have chuckled at the suggestion that anxiety was a real serious condition. I had moments back at university when I would wake up in the middle of the night, worried about an exam I had. But I never thought that it was a disorder, same way I never thought too deeply about loneliness.

I have just come off a couple months of intense stress and pressure which tested me to the max and led me to think this was more than just being anxious.  I googled anxiety symptoms and there is in fact a generalised anxiety disorder with symptoms that completely fit my profile. The heart palpitations, constant restlessness, fatigue, trouble sleeping for more than 6 hours (even on the weekends!) and the persistent feeling of unease as though there is something I have forgotten to do. As usual I just attributed these to stress, and perhaps cancer (everything is a carcinogen) but not anxiety because that is not a real thing. A friend of mine had gotten a doctor’s note for anxiety which gave her extra time in our exams, and suggested I do the same. I was going to but ended up not going, partly due to laziness, but mostly due to me feeling like a fraud-I don’t really have anxiety and the doctor will know that I am just doing it to get extra time in my exams. Then one day I woke up yet again at 4am, my heart thumping hard, unable to fall back asleep and riddled with worry over the forthcoming exams, I realised “damn it, I really do have an anxiety disorder”.

I still haven’t seen a doctor, mainly because I cannot get an appointment on the NHS, and also because I have been trying to manage myself.  To be honest, I am not sure what the doctor can do for me, especially as I won’t take any drugs. The first step is realising there is a problem, and I do feel better knowing there is a name for it.

The stress is drastically reduced for now,  which has greatly improved my mental and physical state. I may have to revisit the stress briefly in a few weeks when exams results come out, but for now I am taking it slow and not letting life get to me. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that things are rarely as deep as they seem. Relax, take it easy.

I am a big fan of quotes; I love finding words that relate to my situation. They help greatly in soothing me and making me feel better. This is a common theme of this blog, and I often post my favourite quotes. During these past exams, rather than looking at quotes from writers, I decided to turn to the bible (I always get more religious in exam season). As with most people with dormant religiosity, I only call on God in times of stress. Even though I feel guilty about it (are you agnostic or not?), I have come to realise it is not the worst thing. People turn to different coping mechanisms; be it drugs, cigarettes, sex, alcohol, food, religion etc. In the aftermath of the exams, I turned to prayer and worship which made me feel incredibly better. I really should have done that sooner, and maybe that would have helped me manage my stress better. Full time religious people may not look too kindly on flip flop Christians who only remember God in bad times, and rightly so. However for people who have been raised in religious homes, it is difficult to fully discard of it even when we no longer truly believe. I do believe it is possible to have doubts about religion (and even God) and still get a lot of comfort from religion (and God). This probably deserves its own post, but I have experienced a seismic shift and I am thankful for it.

The bible is chock-full of inspiring quotes that I often overlook in favour of quotes from prose and poetry. Chapter 6 of the book of Mathew covers worry, and I found it quite helpful. In addition to the verse above, other bible verses that helped are:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Mathew 6:27

“The pain you are feeling does not compare to the joy that is coming” Romans 8:18

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”- Mathew 11:28

“When you have done everything you can do, that’s when God will step in and do what you can’t do”.- 2 Corinthians 12:10

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11