Today I’ve been asked to “Name one thing that I’m proud of”. This is something I’ve been working on as when it comes to celebrating my own successes, I’m a little bit rubbish. I now take more time to reflect on my day, and if I can look at it and say “well done Jo. You nailed that today” I’ll treat myself. Whether it’s with a nice hot soak in the bath, a gin (contrary to common belief I don’t drink on week nights!) or something nice for tea, I make sure I celebrate my successes and take some time to be proud of me.
The one thing that I’m most proud of is upping sticks from my hometown in Essex in 2010, and making a new life for myself up North in Wigan, just outside of Manchester, which some of you reading this may know.
At just 23, I chose to relocate through work. Aside from a few work colleagues, I knew nobody. What I did know was that I needed to spread my wings and start afresh.
It took me 3 years before I found Dave and his gorgeous family, all of whom I adore as much as I do him.
It was another couple of years before we got Poppy (our gorgeous doggo) and all that’s missing right now is a home together, which hopefully isn’t too far off in the future 🙂
Although I have a couple of friends who have been around for years, in the last couple of years I’ve made the greatest group of friends that I’ve ever had.
Life isn’t perfect for me right now, but I’m proud of the fact that I’ve successfully built a life, where I’m happy and where I’ve got the right people around me, to help me get through whatever comes my way.
Today is Day 1 in Mel Wells’, Self Love Week. I woke up this morning to an email with two challenges. The first was to comment on her video about “diet culture” (Mel is a food psychology coach and works on setting women free from diet culture, amongst other things).
The second was a little trickier. I had to come up with one thing I love about myself. This was hard but once I got going it was surprisingly easy and I’ve come up with two things.
When I go to the gym, I have a preference for weight lifting over cardio, and when I lift, I go heavy. By no means am I the stuff of champions, but when I tell a guy I could deadlift him and being told “you’re not just strong for a girl – you’re just strong” it makes my day. So number 1 on my list is my STRENGTH.
Number 2 on my list was going to be my smile (I honestly have THE WORST resting bitch face if I’m not smiling) but then sometimes my smile doesn’t meet my eyes. And that’s not genuine happiness. So actually my second thing is my eyes. I’ve gone through times in my life when I’ve really hated them. They’re rubbish. I’m blind as a bat without my glasses (which I also hate!) But after a recent problem with optic neuritis (I went blind in my left eye – it’s back now though) I realised just how important they are. I love the freedom that they give me and realised that we shouldn’t take them for granted, with or without glasses. They’re the window to the soul!
I’m currently sat in my own version of paradise. I’m sat on the beach watching the waves, just three steps away gently breaking, with Zero 7 on Spotify playing in one ear. Honestly, I’ve not felt this content for a while.
I love the sea. Dave has commented before, that regardless of whether the waves are crashing in, or if the sea is so still that there’s not even a ripple, it has a hugely calming effect on me.
Oddly, when I lived in Essex, although I was just 15 minutes from the sea, I rarely went. Now, it’s much more like 50 minutes away. It’s funny what you miss and take for granted.
Today I’ve signed up for Mel Wells’ self love week. Over the course of this week (starting tomorrow) I will be completing one challenge a day for five days.
Why have I done this?
Over the last couple of years, I have become more settled and consequently, more happy with who I am. I’ve come to realise that the greatest ever love affair that I will have is with myself. However, I have neglected this relationship. True, I’m happy with myself, but now I’ve found that happiness with myself, I’ve accepted it and sort of just left it there.
The thing is, like with all relationships, once you find happiness you can’t stop working on it. You have to nurture it. You have to make time for it.
A switch has flicked in my head in the last couple of weeks. I received some potentially life changing news. It’s too early to say what that news is and what impact it will have right now, but it I’m honest, it’s given me a wake up call. I need to change my outlook and that means stopping taking my life for granted. I need to take some time to work on what’s important.
Taking time out for you, isn’t selfish. It’s a necessity and sadly something that the vast majority of us neglect.
My first step in connecting with myself, is to appreciate waking up everyday. Not just accepting it. Truly being grateful for it.
I’ll aim to write about these challenges everyday, but it’s unlikely that I’ll upload them daily as I’m still in Greece until Wednesday. Hopefully on Friday, I’ll have some time to write about my experiences in self love week.
I’m hoping that self love week will help me to refocus on caring about me, whatever path lies ahead of me.
On a trip to Essex earlier this year Dave and I took the opportunity to have our ‘D’ date.
My Mum and Dad had recently had their first trip to Romford Dogs and highly recommended it so it pretty much made our mind up for us to go to the Dogs for the letter D.
I’ve never bet on anything like the dogs before so this was a totally new experience for me.
Monday nights are free so after a 25 minute drive – we made our way in, pleased that we were staying true to our principle of trying to keep it cheap.
On entering, a short walk around the corner and we were faced with the race track. Behind that we walked up into the stand, grabbed a couple of drinks at the bar and got down to the tricky business of trying to explain to me how to bet (which for the record – I can’t remember how you do. I just go with picking whichever name bears some significance to me!)
Knowing my dismal track record the few times I have bet I stayed brave with just betting £1 on each of the 15 races. Just as well really since there is apparently no such thing as beginners luck with greyhound racing! I didn’t win a penny! Dave on the other hand was slightly bolder, betting £2 per race and did win a couple so only came out about a fiver down.
Feeling a bit peckish, we grabbed some food. It was highly amusing to see Dave’s reaction to how cheap the chips were. He walks around with this assumption that EVERYTHING down south is the outrageously priced so he was pleasantly surprised at the reasonably low cost. He wasn’t as impressed by the lack of gravy/curry sauce/peas/pea wet to go on said chips!
All in all this was a fab night and definitely something we’d consider doing again and would certainly recommend it to people 😊
You get a real rush from watching the dogs and the sheer speed they go at. It’s truly an exciting evening!
I met Lucy on 25th September 2006. Yes, 10 years ago, on my 20th birthday. I was going on a night out in Chelmsford with my friend Kayleigh and a couple of girls from Uni, and Lucy was on the cheerleading team with them. Like me, she was doing a law degree but was the year above. In the spirit of the more being the merrier, I was more than happy for her to gate-crash. If you’d told me on that day that I’d met the one person that I would still be in touch with 10 years later I would have probably laughed at you.
Our friendship was cemented less than a month later when I found myself with a spare ticket to go and see Panic! At the Disco at Brixton Academy and she came along.
Lucy is originally from Romford, just outside of London and lived with her Mum and Dad and sister, Sophie. I got to know Sophie just as well as I did Lucy, as I whiled away hours talking to them both as they worked in the Student Union shop.
The town I’m from, Rayleigh was somewhere Lucy loved – not least because its home to the UK’s longest running Indie/Alternative club, The Pink Toothbrush. We’ve had plenty of wild nights there, which always ended with us stumbling back to my house and us both climbing into separate bunks in mine and my sister’s bedroom (no mean feat with more than just a couple of snakebites in you!)
My Mum and Dad adored Lucy. One of the few friends of mine that they actually liked, and even now they’re pleased to see her!
As Lucy and I have grown together over the last 10 years (her birthday just a day short of two months before mine), the parallels we’ve identified between ourselves have been scary. They started off as mere coincidences, with our father’s both working as carpenter and joiners, to us both studying Law at Uni. In 2008 though, Lucy met her now husband, Adam, in London. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but Adam is from Wigan. Until I moved to Atherton, I had no idea that Wigan was so close to Bolton (where I work. I never made the connection).
After I moved, mine and Lucy’s friendship grew closer. Although we never really drifted apart, after Uni it was harder for us to see each other, but as soon as I moved, and discovered our mutual connection to Wigan we made so much more of an effort with each other. We caught up with each other with regular phone calls and Lucy came to stay with me a couple of times. I returned the trip, and when she and Adam bought their first flat in London I went to stop with her. She took me to see Legally Blonde The Musical that weekend which totally appealed to both of our legal, but quite girlie side.
Eventually, Adam and Lucy were expecting the birth of their first daughter Poppy (also the name of my dog!) and needed to move into a bigger property. Knowing how much Lucy loved Rayleigh, I wasn’t surprised when she told me she was moving there. What did surprise me though was she moved onto a home on the estate built on the now knocked down office I had left behind. Sometimes I wonder whether I would have moved had Lucy moved to Rayleigh before I left there.
To this day, we’re constantly amused by how we have both ended up with Wiganers. If you’d told us this would happen when we were at Uni, we would probably have asked “what’s a Wigan?!” It’s perfect for us, because we now have regular phone catch ups, but we also have the luxury of being able to catch up, both when she’s up visiting her in laws and when I’m down visiting my family. Even if it’s just a couple of hours over coffee.
I literally would not change our friendship for the world – I’m a lucky girl to have such a loyal friend, that no matter how long I go without speaking to, will always be there for me and no matter how far away she is, it’s still only ever a phone call.
After the disaster of our C date, I was determined to redeem the situation. Many people, including Dave, didn’t believe we could have a second stab at our C date. But hang on! My game, my rules! I was hell bent on a new C date.
I’ve always had a bit of a thing for going to see TV shows being filmed. Over the years I’ve been to see Trisha being filmed (twice), Top Gear, Russell Howard’s Good News (three times) and recently I’ve been to Britain’s Got Talent. Since moving to Manchester I’ve regularly been trying to get tickets to see Cats Does Countdown, but to no avail.
As luck would have it, Kat, who I work with, has been successful in getting tickets on a number of occasions and it so happened in October, she received them again. She couldn’t make it though so this time sent them my way. It was just what we needed! Another C date!
We arrived at media city in Salford on the day, what I thought was quite early. There’s no guarantee of getting in and Dave and I were lucky to make it. There were loads of people before us.
We were allowed into the studio and ended up with pretty naff seats. We could see Jimmy Carr, Jon Richardson and Sean Lock but no sight of Rachel Riley and dictionary corner at all. But our luck was about to change. One of the runners came and asked us if we were there together and would we mind splitting up for better seats.
Shamefully I didn’t even consider Dave and just jumped at the chance (Dave since told me he was fine with it as it’s not like you can talk anyway).
It was a shame we weren’t sat together but it didn’t change how hilarious and what a fab experience it was. Our guests were Roisin Conaty and Jason Manford. In dictionary corner we had some hilarious Aussie dude who had just weeks before won the Perrier award at Edinburgh fringe.
Jimmy Carr, is one funny funny man. I really admirer that it’s not all about him and he’s actually surprisingly down to earth.
Meeting back up with Dave after, we were both knackered and hungry but in high spirits and both agreed it had been a fab experience.
We both agreed over a McDonald’s that we couldn’t really count this as a C date because we didn’t get to sit together so looks like we’re leaving Coniston (the Craply planned one) as our effort for C!
I absolutely recognise how rubbish I am at blogging. I just can’t seem to find the time to do it, however this evening I’ve found myself with a coffee in hand staring out the window at Belfast City Airport. So why not make a productive use of my time?
Our C date was one planned a bit off the cuff. Back in September, my Mum and Dad booked a holiday home in Bowness on Windermere for a week. My sister, who is currently travelling Australia had planned to pop home between her first and second year so a week in the Lakes was planned for Mum, Dad, my brother and Dave and I. It definitely felt like the right opportunity to have our C date.
After trying to pass the whole week off as a C date as we were in Cumbria, Dave reigned me in a bit and we decided after much deliberating over Caves (couldn’t get booked) and a castle (too far away), canoeing (out of season and everywhere closed) we set out heart on climbing Coniston old man.
Now I know you can’t go to the Lakes and hope for anything BUT rain, but we probably picked this worst day for it. The weather was absolutely dreadful. Plus there’s no signal in The Lakes, anywhere, so using out phone’s for directions proved pretty fruitless. Christ knows where we ended up but it definitely wasn’t Coniston old man.
What we need establish was that we had ended up in Coniston and after parking up and walking a flipping long way, we found a (sort of) big hill and started to climb it. Honestly, I don’t think we were even going up a proper route, it was raining that much it was really slippy and it was already pretty late in the day for climbing up hills. I had the right hump because I was cold, wet and hungry (I don’t deal with any of these things well!)
We didn’t get far as you can see from the pictures. Because it was so awful, I insisted that it was either a “Craply Planned date” or it just didn’t count at all!
Dave wasn’t overly keen on that but I was soon to rectify it…