You can do it

I started off thinking that I was going to write a post about exercising, but in doing so, I realised that the lesson I've learnt over the last few days transcends to any goal in life you are struggling at reaching - any task, or dream you are holding off trying for because it just seems too difficult.

To talk about exercising, though, first, I guess I should explain for me why being an active person is something that has alluded me for so long. Over the last few years I have dieted, a lot.  I have been desperately unhappy with my body.  I have tried every trick in the book to lose weight - well, every trick, that is, except slogging it down the gym.  When it comes to exercising, I'm one of those people who tells other people they're just not cut out for it.  "I hate the gym," I would say, and believe me, I've used every excuse in the book not to go.

Last week I read a book by one of my favourite authors, Haruki Murakami, called 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running'.  I bought it on the strength of Murakami's amazing writing style, having not really cottoned on that it was a memoir about running.  Apparently, along with being a bestselling author, Murakami also runs marathons, and in the book he talks about the marathons and triathlons he's run (including a 62 mile marathon) along with discussing what running means to him and why he does it.  The quote that stayed with me the most from reading the book was this one:

"No matter how much long-distance running might suit me, of course there are days when I feel kind of lethargic and don’t want to run. Actually, it happens a lot. On days like that, I try to think of all kinds of plausible excuses to slough it off. Once, I interviewed the Olympic running Toshihiko Seko, just after he retired from running and became manager of the S&B company team. I asked him, “Does a runner at your level ever feel like you’d rather not run today, like you don’t want to run and would rather just sleep in?” He stared at me and then, in a voice that made it abundantly clear how stupid he thought the question was, replied, “Of course. All the time!”

Reading that really made me stop in my tracks.  "Hang on a minute," I thought to myself.  "You mean even runners sometimes don't feel like running?"  It really opened up a whole new way of thinking to me.  What it also made me realise is that the only thing stopping me from slipping on my trainers, stepping out the door and going for a run right now... is me.  It isn't the fact that I'm not a born runner (no-one is), the weather, or the fact that I'm too busy.  It's me.  The only thing standing between me and having a toned body, looking in the mirror and liking what I see, is me.

This is why, this week, I have been 30 Day Shredding, and I think I'm nearly ready to start jogging too.  Nothing that's worth doing, or gets results, is easy, but at least when I go on holiday later on this month, I can look at myself in a bikini, and whatever shape my body is in, I can say that I tried. (And will continue trying!)  What's stopping you from doing the things you really want to?


Peach plum pear

I always have a feeling of frustration (and a little bit of guilt!) when I sit down to write a blog post and realise it's a week since I last posted. I keep having these ideas for blog posts floating around my head, but I keep finding it really difficult to find the time to sit in front of the computer and get them on here! I am going to try and make some more time for blogging though, as I'd like to focus my posts a bit more - I do worry you guys are going to get bored of all the photo catchup posts I seem to do!

It has been a bit of a barbecue-orama over the last couple of weeks, in a way I'm glad the weather hasn't been so great this weekend as I'm not sure I want to look at another sausage for a little while! Having said that, the novelty still hasn't worn off of coming home from work on a sunny day and being able to sit out in the garden.  Especially when this is waiting for me! (Thanks Tom!)

One of the reasons I haven't been as regular a blogger as I'd like recently is that I'm desperately trying to make some small changes to the rooms in the house that are 'nearly done' - rather than having nothing that's anywhere near finished.  I am nowhere near being able to share a proper 'photo tour' on here (unless there are any cardboard box enthusiasts out there you will be sorely disappointed) but I do now have a few places in the house that feel homely - I thought I would share some of these on here.

The craft room/study is probably the most together room in the house, and it feels like my little corner where I can hide if I ever feel like having some 'me time'....

The lounge is also coming along nicely, I love the way my stack of old suitcases looks against the old floorboards...

We were having a conversation about fudge in the office this week - what's your favourite? Mine is butter tablet (the really sugary, crumbly type) so I whipped up a batch, not thinking that they would be not only impossible to resist nibbling at, but completely at odds with my attempts to lose weight.  Sorry Jillian Michaels!

A couple of weeks ago I sent off a little package to the lovely Ayden at Little Blog Of Horrors with a CD and some sweet treats in it, and this week she sent me back an awesome mix CD, cute card and this a-mazing brooch - isn't it adorable? When I started my blog last year I was just looking for an outlet to post up some photos and read about other people's adventures and daily lives.  I certainly didn't bank on being able to strike up friendships with some lovely ladies who I'd love to meet up with 'IRL' one day - this makes me very happy!

This weekend I went home to visit my parents'.  My Gran has been very ill in hospital over the last few days so it felt like an important time to be with my family for a couple of days.  I took this quick snap (iPhoners, don't you just love instagram?) of my brother when he got back from having a haircut - isn't it weird when little sisters and brothers grow up? 

On a final note, one last thing that made me grin big this week was the awesome Gem at From Gem With Love's post on blogging.  I take massive inspiration from the way Gemma is so honest and not afraid to say what she thinks - go and have a read.

Phew - well done if you read all the way down here!

Would you like to come to a garden party?

This week has been another busy week followed by a lovely weekend. Yesterday I was taking photos at a work event to raise awareness of the importance of wearing lifejackets - it was an event that went on all round the world called 'Ready Set Inflate' where everyone around the world inflates a lifejacket at the same time to try and break a world record (I don't know if we did yet!) It was so much fun and it was a really lovely day for it too.  Afterwards, several people from my office came back to my house for a barbecue; and luckily the sun kept his hat on long enough for us to lounge about in the garden with glasses of Pimms, not to mention all the food I'd prepared!

There were strawberries and cream cupcakes (they have strawberries inside too!)....

A very yummy (if I do say so myself) potato salad....

... and an even yummier Eton Mess! Not to mention all the barbecue food.  We ended up having two barbecues in the end as we all had a second wind later on in the evening!

All was enjoyed under the shade of the apple tree in the garden.  Love that blue sky!

I originally wanted to write this post as if we were all at a 'virtual garden party' (very cheesy I know!) and then I started thinking about how fun it would be to have a big ol' bloggers garden party (maybe I should organise this) - I'll supply the garden, you guys can bring the Pimms! What do you think? Haha.

Another lovely happening this week was that I finally managed to get to the Post Office to pick up my a-mazing giveaway prize for winning the wonderful Charlene at Dainty Dresses' 500 followers giveaway.  I was so excited to open the package, look at all the lovely things I got! I feel very lucky - I'm thrilled to bits with all my little goodies! Been using the Eyeko fat balms loads ever since - Charlene gave me the great tip that they're awesome for cheeks as well as lips so I've been carrying one around in my handbag for those make-up top ups. I also absolutely adore the necklace and the ring! (Also, the Maoam that filled the box were all destroyed in about 30 seconds - nom!)


Deck shoes, gardening and afternoon tea

A few things before I start this post - firstly, a big thanks to the lovely Michelle for featuring my last post in her  week in photos today. Actually, I say my last post - it is the last post you can see on here but Blogger actually deleted my last post during the hiccups it had on Friday. So, new followers (hi!) you are going to have to imagine some photos of a jaunt in the New Forest last weekend as they have now gone, (possibly) never to return! Secondly, very excitingly I woke up this morning to a new little blog milestone for me, I now have over 300 followers! I'm going to do a little giveaway to say thankyou to you all for being so darned lovely, and for reading all the guff I stick up here - so look out for that over the next couple of weeks.

This weekend has been quite a busy one, although not as busy as I'd have liked due to still struggling with this god-awful cold I've had for a week now. Yesterday was spent (get ready to be jealous) digging the garden - when we moved in it was totally overgrown so it's a big project trying to cut down all the trees and bushes and get rid of all the weeds. It's lucky I'm not scared of spiders as I saw a lot of eight-legged insects out there yesterday! Today we planted the first few things in the garden since we bought the house - you can see them in the top right picture.  We also discovered that the garden centre does afternoon tea (yum) so treated ourselves to a plate of sandwiches and cakes.

Yesterday was also a year since Tom and I started dating, so we celebrated our anniversary with a very yummy dinner in the evening.  We met last year on a sailing training exercise with work (you can see a photo of both of us there below!) and have been inseparable ever since, buying our first house together in March. Some people might think this is moving too fast, but I still stand by the fact that when you know, you know.

In the second line of photos above you will see that I finally ended the search for the perfect deck shoes with this gorgeous pair of Sperry Topsiders found on Etsy.  I am currently refusing to take them off - they are so comfy!

Finally, I couldn't do as much gardening today as I felt too poorly, so I launched into an indoor project instead, and made a blind for the front window of our house.  What do you think? I love this range of Ikea stripy fabric and can't wait to make more things out of it!

Change is good

Over the last few months I have spent a great deal of time thinking about change.  Everyone has a different attitude to change, whether it be fearing change - fearing that you will end up outside of your comfort zone and not be able to handle it, or embracing and actively encouraging change - people that feel stagnant or stuck in a rut if they do something for too long.

We experience a high rate of change between the ages of 18 to about 30 - a lot of it uncomfortable change that we feel is being forced upon us - leaving college and university and having to find a job, relationships forming and then breaking up, moving out of home and renting (or buying) for the first time, maybe moving away, making friends and losing friends.  I sometimes feel like life is a little bit like that film 'Sliding Doors' - every time you make a decision you are standing at a metaphorical crossroads, and the path you choose ultimately affects the path you take in life.  Even decisions that might seem insignificant at the time we can realise in hindsight completely changed our lives.

Because I work in the civil service in a corporate communications job I've been on a few change communications courses lately to learn how best to communicate changes to people in the workplace.  What I learnt is that, despite the fact that most people have a fear of change, actually, human beings are the most adaptable to change of all species on the planet.  We have learnt to live in a variety of climates (from the coldest to the hottest) in the harshest of conditions, and when pushed to the brink we have proved that we can adapt.

One thing that I have learnt through experience is that change isn't something you can hide from or avoid.  For example, a few months ago I made the decision to move out of Southampton city centre to a house I bought with my other half about 25 miles away.  This was a difficult decision - meaning I would live 25 miles away from all of my friends, and 45 miles from my parents.  Naturally the biggest push was the ability to live with my boyfriend and start our lives together, and the sacrifice of living so far from all my best friends was a tough pill to swallow - but we moved, and I have no regrets.  Over the last few weeks I found out that two of my closest friends are now moving away - one to America, and one to Aberdeen.  It made me realise that however you try and avoid change, you are not necessarily in control of all of the factors that make it up.  Imagine if I'd decided to stay and Southampton - to try and cling on to my old life. They would have moved anyway, and I would have been left with only a couple of friends who live there (and they too, will surely eventually move on).

I read a book in college called 'The McDonaldization of Society', which dictates that humans have begun to rely more on a few various qualities in life than they ever have before.  One of these qualities is predictability - meaning that more than ever people have started to structure their lives so that there is as little surprise and differentness as possible.  It also suggests that people would rather do something they know is average than take a chance on something that could pay off.  That's why McDonalds is so popular - it may be rubbish food, but you know exactly what you're getting.

I guess the message in this post is for people to stop being so afraid of change (I have to regularly tell myself to do this too).  Life is too short to work a job that makes you unhappy, or to stay tied to a city you hate because you have friends there you've had for years.  Doing things because you've always done them is no excuse to carry on doing them.  Take risks, travel, try new things, and push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Don't cling to old memories and stop yourself from forming new ones.  Nothing, nothing, is permanent.


Camping in Cornwall

Well, another week has passed without a blog - however, I have an excuse this time because I was down in Cornwall (and Bristol) in my other half's camper van, drinking cider, having barbecues and exploring lovely little Cornish villages.  I had an absolutely amazing time, but I feel like I need another break now; going back to work today was a bit of a shock to the system! That's the problem with having time off - you always cram as much in as possible and then come back absolutely exhausted! (Not to mention coming back to a pile of dirty washing!)

We stayed in Widemouth Bay, which is near Bude in North Cornwall.  I was born in Cornwall so I always feel a bit like I've come home again driving through the windy streets and along the rocky coastlines.  Our camping experience mainly consisted of lots of barbecues, berry ciders and sitting in our new camping chairs. We also had an electric hook-up so did lots of watching episodes of The Wire in bed on the laptop!

Widemouth Bay, where we stayed, was really pretty....

This is me when we went for a walk to watch the sun go down.  I am still getting used to seeing myself with such blonde hair!

My other half is a keen surfer and had a couple of 'sessions' out on the water whilst we were down there. Here is a quick snap of him I took from the beach.  Slightly guiltily I have to admit that I am not the 'cool surfer girlfriend' and usually spend my time whilst he is surfing reading trashy magazines in the warmth of the van!

Only in Cornwall do you have to watch out for herds of sheep that might be wandering up the road...

On Sunday we went to Bristol for a music festival that a friend of mine had put some bands she works with on the line-up for. One of those artists was my other half's good friend (Microburst) who did a DJ set in the evening.

Yesterday we spent the morning shopping in Bristol - I had one of the most pleasant Primark experiences in their massive shop in Horsefair - it was laid out nicely, practically empty and there were no queues! Must have had something to do with the fact that we went fairly early in the morning as I hear that ordinarily it is quite busy.  I will show you my haul of clothes in another post as I have waffled on quite enough in this one.  In other news I have nearly 30 items running out on EBay tonight and I can already cross off my 'make £100 from EBay' goal for this year! Hooray!