So, I've not been here in a while.
I actually wrote this post on 6th April this year and never posted it. I just don't feel like I have anything to say anymore. I barely post on Instagram now mainly because I just feel like "what's the point?", nobody is looking at my account.
I logged in and looked back at old posts and the last time I actually wrote anything or even made an effort to do anything here was June 2022.
I thought this might be a good opportunity for me to catch you (or myself as I think I'm the only one who actually reads my blog!) up on what has been happening and as some sort of catharsis. I think blogs are great, and I do actually read quite a few (mainly friends, but I do enjoy others) so I wondered if maybe I should jot down more thoughts here...
Things have been "interesting" over the last 12+ months. The restaurant has seen a substantial change in staffing, the credit crisis and the war in the Ukraine along with Brexit (it's STILL causing problems, people) and the ever squeezing from all sides has made running a business like ours not only incredibly difficult, but loss-making. We understand that our guests are also being squeezed so aren't able to spend like they once did; however, without them coming in and spending well, we struggle to make ends meet. As a business owner, intent on taking care of staff and providing the best possible experience to our guests, this is causing sleepless nights, stress and anxiety and more than our fair share of grey hairs (thank goodness for Garnier Good and a bloody good eye cream).
I've had all my hair cut off, partly because I've been thinking about it for a good while and of course Michelle Williams and Jean Seberg are massive inspirations, but it was also down to the fact that I needed a bit more time to sleep; my hair now takes me literally 5 minutes to do each day (even if I have to wash it) as opposed to 25-30 minutes. It could also be the fact that I'm probably having a bit of a midlife crisis (I am 41 now after all). I freaked out when I first had it cut, as it was such a massive change, but now I really dig it. It might not be to everyone's taste, but I think I've had more compliments on this haircut than I have had with any other style. I'm keeping it for a while longer.
Whilst I'm still spending time playing with wine and cocktails, I parked those things a touch and I started training to be an accountant.... Yes, I know. Thing is, I've been doing our books for the last 4 years with no training and we've been paying external accountants to basically check on what I've been doing. My thought process was, 'I f I am trained and fully understand what I'm doing then hopefully we as a business can save a bit of cash in them checking everything I do.' I am keen to still have an independent account to to check on certain things, but they shouldn't need to check on our every day. Quite honestly, I don't think I've ever felt as utterly inept at studying anything as I have done whilst studying my AAT (though, to give myself a little credit, I had a long conversation with someone at AAT and they suggested I should start at level 3 so maybe this is why I feel dumb). Since writing this paragraph in April, I've failed my exams and have decided to leave accountancy behind. I'm still doing our books at the restaurant, but I think that's as far as it will go. Plus, £100 per exam is daylight fucking robbery!
I sadly barely bake these days, but that will come back I'm sure.
We aren't frequenting any of the food festivals this year due to working so hard, but I will miss seeing my Foodies family hugely. Please continue to see and support them.
In March 2023 I walked about 130 miles to raise money for the charity Mind. As you probably all know by now, I suffer with clinical depression, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder. I've spent a lot of time on SSRIs though now I'm trying to rely more on natural remedies and a f**k ton of therapy (my therapist, Phil, is literally THE BEST), so I understand how hard things can be for people with mental health problems, so I wanted to bring more attention to those and try to raise some well needed funds for the charity. I'm seriously considering doing some more fundraising for them this year, but we will see how this goes.
I've had more tattoos since the last time I wrote (both hands now heavily tattooed, legs and arms catching up), we've decorated the house, had builders leg it with £10k of our money (that genuinely happened, and despite raising a court claim, we will not see that money again) and had another set of builders demolish the mess that was the front of our house and build us a drive.
Tony & I got engaged in April and are planning our wedding for September, I'm very excited, if not a little nervous and worried that I might become a bridezilla...
And lastly, and I have left this to lastly, because I didn't want to write it, but it is something that has happened and something that I feel needs to be recorded, on 24th March 2023, we lost our beautiful little sausage dog, Butch. He will be missed so very much, and of course Tony & I are utterly bereft and probably always will be. Things like this make you think though and I think I needed to just get this down on "paper".
Will I actually post this? I don't know. You'll comment if I do...
In memory of our hairy baby boy. Butch Cassidy Rodd. 4/11/2015 - 24/3/23. In our hearts always and forever. I love you little squisher.
In a very short time I will be going back to work, as will many others, but the landscape to which we are returning is vastly different to what we have been used to, and I feel like I will be returning as a vastly different person.
The Coronavirus crisis has decimated so much of what our society has taken for granted for so long and we are all having to change, though I can't help but notice that there are so many people out there who aren't willing to make any changes to their lives. Seeing the devastation of beaches and the amount of fights breaking out across the nation - despite the fact the country is supposed to still be on lockdown - is utterly abhorrent to me and it brings sharply into focus the total mismanagement of this whole situation by our monumentally moronic government.
I have always been a person with very low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and a very thin skin, which in my profession probably isn't the best, but it also makes me a very empathetic person who understands others and how to provide a good level of service. Before lockdown, I had found my skin getting a little thicker, but now, at the precipice of jumping back into "regular" life, my confidence has waned to a point where it's so far in the negative, I don't know how I'll balance the scales towards the positive. I have found my anxiety levels sky rocketing each day, constantly worrying about the state of the world and feeling utterly devastated by the amount of people who have been affected by this pandemic. This anxiety has affected so many parts of me, including the resurgence of what I had hoped was long-forgotten adult acne, horrific IBS flare ups and, along with my plummeting self-esteem (which massively impacts how I dress and how I feel about my 'style'), a questioning of who I really am.
On the plus side, in having so much time at home, I have found something of an inner spirituality I didn't really know I had. I've been practicing yoga every day and taking long walks and finding myself connecting more with the earth. I've even managed to grow some flowers on our balcony - something I never seemed to have the knack for. But perhaps this is the earth telling us that we need to take better care of her? As utterly hideous this crisis has been, by us not travelling and not polluting in the same way, the earth has started to heal itself, I just hope that she is given more of a chance to continue to do so, but I'm afraid with everyone itching to get back to "normality", so many of us will forget the importance of taking care of our home planet.
This is a really terrifying time for me, not only as a business owner, not knowing how the world situation and our mitigation measures will impact our business, but as a human being with stress-related mental health problems. Feeling so unsure of who I was before this, I feel even more unsure as to who I am going into this "new normal" (jeez, I hate that phrase). I can only hope that as this annus horribilis trundles towards a close we all learn to have more respect for our planet and each other. If we've learned nothing else in the last 100+ days, surely we've learned that life is short and that we need to love so much more. Times definitely are a-changing.
"We cannot hate ourselves into versions of ourselves we can love".
What a quote that is. It truly resonates with me as I realise this is something I've been doing most of my life.
I cannot recall how or when my mental health issues began, only that I can't really remember a time that the black dog wasn't following me in the sinister creeping way that it does. I didn't suffer childhood trauma (although I was bullied at school); I have a very loving family, a wonderful and supportive partner and great friends. To all intents and purposes, I should be a very happy and contented individual. But that is not how depression works, it's isn't how mental health conditions work. Depression doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care if you're young, old, black, white, straight, gay, bi, trans or anything in between. It is a sucking void, a black cloud, a parasite.
Society is all too quick to use the terms 'depression', 'anxiety', 'OCD' and 'bipolar' in such flippant ways. I hear people saying "oh my god, I'm so stressed and anxious" or "ugh, I'm so depressed", or "I'm totally OCD about xyz" or even "she's, like, totally bipolar" when its clear that they might just be feeling a little overwhelmed or a bit down, like things a certain way, or, for want of a better word, a bit eccentric. I'm not saying these feelings aren't valid, but what I am saying is that using those terms is both disrespectful and irresponsible. Overuse of these terms begins to render them meaningless.
You might be thinking to yourself, "what does this girl know?" Well, I'll tell you, this girl does know. This girl knows the crushing weight of depression and the overwhelming feeling of constant worry that something horrendous is about to happen; that churning feeling in your stomach and the dropping of your heart to the floor every few seconds. But you'll see me walking down the street and have no idea that I used to be heavily medicated for my mental health, had 6 weeks off work due to a minor breakdown, and have contemplated suicide more often than would be considered 'normal' (and don't even get me started on the term 'normal'!).
I'm not writing this for your sympathy; I don't need you to say "oh poor girl with her clinical depression, generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder"; I don't need to hear you say "oh I would never have pegged you as someone who had depression" and I definitely don't need to hear you say "can't you just cheer up?". I'm writing this to give you an education and to ask you to be kind. Be respectful of the language you use each day and be respectful of other people. You don't know what a person you see on the street might be going through, so a smile or just a random act of kindness can be the most welcome thing (to anyone, not just someone who might be suffering at that moment). And above all, be kind to all of those people who are currently trying to hate themselves into a version of themselves they can love.
Please show your support for World Mental Health day by sharing this post and by choosing kindness even if it's just for this one day.
Stay Hep, Cats
Whilst I know that social media has been proven to exacerbate mental health issues and I purposefully no longer have a Facebook account for this exact reason, I can’t help but find myself with a slight addiction to both Twitter and Instagram. I have met a lot of amazing people through social media and it really came in handy for me last night.
I had a meltdown. It happens more often than I would like, but let’s be honest, we’ve all been there.
I was working on icing a cake and it wasn’t going as well as I had anticipated. I struggle a lot with perfection, in that I have a vision of something in my head and when the reality doesn’t meet that vision I want to throw in the towel. My ever-loving and long-suffering boyfriend did what he could to talk me round, but like those who suffer with anger issues, the ‘perfection mist’ had risen and there was nothing he could do (except feed me which definitely helped). I finished icing the cake and popped it in the fridge, washed up and sat down. At this point I started looking through Instagram and came across a post by the lovely Made by Margie (www.madebymargie ; Instagram.com/madebymargie ; twitter.com/madebymargie) which gave me the social media equivalent of a lovely hug.
I realised that I couldn’t give up at the first hurdle. If I want to make my business work I’m going to have to grow a tougher skin and realise that there are going to be times when things go wrong; where I’ll have to scrap a cake and start again or remake sugar paste flowers or I’ll be clumsy and drop something on the floor and ruin it. What I also realised is that there are so many wonderful people out there who are so very supportive. Obviously I have those close to home; my boyfriend (who I’m surprised puts up with me but who I love with my entire being), my family (who definitely support my cake business as it means they are never without something sweet!). Friends and colleagues like Charlotte White (who is constant source of love and inspiration) and those wondrous folks on my social media feeds who are always giving me a cheeky thumbs up or buoying my confidence in one way or another. I am very lucky.
I think the lesson here is that life is too short not to try and not to simply give up just because something doesn’t go exactly as you expect. Sometimes the most beautiful things are created from disaster.
Keep smiling and as always, happy baking!
Stay Hep, Cats
It's time to make a change. The more I talk to different types of people, the more I realise how short life is and that one shouldn't remain in a position that makes them unhappy. Whilst I agree that if you can't change something you should change your attitude towards it (which in some cases feels impossible, believe me, I know!), I also think that we should all do what we can to be happy in the NOW.
This weekend I met a lovely lady who is a dear friend of my boyfriend's mum. She seemed to really love my style and over the course of the day discussing various aspects of life, she hammered home to me that I must remain strong and keep my uniqueness and individuality and that life is far too short to be anything but happy. Happiness, of course, is subjective, and one cannot be euphoric constantly - we need the low moments to be able to appreciate the high moments - but for me happiness is a feeling of contentment and peace. I have had fleeting moments of this in my life and am incredibly lucky to have experienced so many more since meeting my boyfriend and having a dog, but of course, I would like to feel at peace the majority of the time.
I am starting to think that (whilst I'm not ancient) I am getting older and I should start ensuring that the rest of my life is as happy and peaceful as it can possibly be, so I need to start making some changes. I need to stop telling myself I can't do things and start having a go, I need to remove toxic people and negative energy from my life. I have a list (albeit a short one) of things I really want to do and there's no reason why I shouldn't try to achieve all of these things.
Watch this space; I might post next week telling you all my black dog has come back out to play or I may tell you that I've managed to put together a modelling portfolio and have perhaps got some work, or that I have completed a novel or been commissioned to make a cake for an event. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, but what I do know is that I need to make my tomorrow be the best it can be without forgetting that it isn't promised and ensuring that I enjoy the peace and contentment I have in my life today.
I hope you can all do the same - do something today that you have always wanted to do; whether it's telling someone you love them, telling someone you don't like the way they speak to you, booking a holiday or speaking to a stranger. It doesn't matter, just embrace life and everything it offers you. It's too short not to.