Sunday, October 07, 2018

New year goals - an update

In January I wrote about what I wanted to achieve this year. In February I did an update.  I want to update again, so here goes.

Find a work/life balance
- Achieved.  I have been part time in a  new role since March and my mental health has improved considerably.  I still get tied up in knots and make stupid decisions but the balance is vastly, vastly better.

Spend more time with my toddler.

- As I now work 2.5 days a week only I get lots more time with my boy and it's wonderful.  I've got to know him much better, we do loads of fun things and he is much happier having me around more.  I've had a period of several weeks of frustration and crossness as he goes through a difficult phase, but that is far preferable to working full time in a job I don't like and can't do.

Teach the toddler to say thank you, tidy up after himself and like vegetables.
- He is now so polite! He says please, thank you and you're welcome in nearly every appropriate situation.  Other people comment on how polite and kind he is.  I'm in awe of his manners, he's better than me.  After prompting, he now tidies up with little complaint.  He is also eating vegetables now - that was clearly just a developmental thing and just took time for him to get there but he's got a better diet now.

Do yoga a few times a week
- Not managed this. But I have booked an outside personal trainer session for next weekend so we'll see how that goes.

Spend less money
- Given that I earn a lot less than I did I am now far more careful with money and I budget for and record everything I spend, so I am far more in control now.

Work on reducing my trichotillomania symptoms
- I started having electrolysis in August and my electrologist is amazing.  After my first session with her I threw away the tweezers.  15 years of relying on the damn things and I threw them away with not much concern. Since the start of August I have plucked on two occasions, which were each days that an appointment was cancelled.  Inbetween appointments I shave or trim my chin hairs and the only hair removal is by my electrologist at the appointment. I have just done 2 weeks without having any hair removed by myself or her (due to a gap in appointments).  I never ever thought I would be able to do that.  My skin is looking far better, far less pink, and the hairs are considerably finer and lighter in colour,  I am amazed.

Be more appreciative of my parents
- Hmm. I don't know if I do this, I can't be objective about my relationship with them.

Get my asthma and knee twinges under control
- Asthma is up and down. I took ibuprofen for a knee flare up and it made me wheezy.  My knee flare ups are less regular than they were, but I do need to work on strengthening the muscles.  Hopefully the personal trainer can help with that.

Cycle to work more - don't get the bus because it is easy.
- I usually cycle.  If my asthma is acting up, or my knee, I get the bus, but mostly I cycle.  I have realised how exhausted I was in my last job so actually I don't feel bad about not cycling in every day then.

Give up sugar for lent
- I did this. It was really hard, then easy, then hard again.  It hasn't stopped me wanting sugar but I go through periods of reducing my sugar intake. I'll do it again next year.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Boys Don't Cry and Wyrmeweald: Returners Wealth

A couple of books I have read recently.

Boys Don't Cry by Malorie Blackman
This was a good story about a 17 year old suddenly having fatherhood thrust upon him.  There were some inaccuracies about baby feeding which annoyed me. Fair enough to have them in the book but please please include a footnote giving correct information.

There was a coming out subplot which I take umbrage at. The character concerned gets beaten nearly to death by his closeted boyfriend. Coming out stories are important and they do have a place, but I am sick of reading ones that portray being queer as danferous, depressing, miserable, full of struggles and fighting the system/your parents/your peers. I would like to read ones written as a coming of age story like straight people get. Being queer isn't always horrible, and it won't get less horrible if people only read stories that paint queerness as difficult.

I think Blackman is straight and I imagine she thought she was being really sensitive and writing a thoughtful book. It's just that as a queer teen in the 90s all we bloody had were painful coming out stories. That's all anyone ever knew. I'd hope we had moved on by now.

Wrymeweald by Stewart and Riddle
This was better.  It's frontier fantasy woth dragons but the dragons come in all shapes and sizes and comprise most of the fauna in the area where the story is based.  They are hunted for pelts and meat and only one type bonds with humans. It was a different sort of fantasy read and I'm glad i read it but I'm not too fussed about reading anymore.

I am currently in the middle of reading Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. An American high school girl gets really pissed off with the sexist shit at her school and anonymously starts a zine called Moxie. She is inspired by the Riot Grrl movement. It's pretty good so far.

Riots not Diets folks. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sugar free (ish)

I've nearly completed my Lenten fast of sugar. Tomorrow (thursday 29th march) is ky last day.
I've done pretty well. I have accidentally had sugar a few times but only in the following things:
Ketchup and brown sauce. I hadn't thought to check they had sugar.
Liquorice - i thought i was buying sugar free. I wasn't so i put the packet away after 2 bites.
Gravy - after the first time i realised sugar is an ingredient. I've since knowingly had ut two or three times because I was in a grump and didn't want a dry dinner.
Crackers - i have absentmindedly ate my son's leftovers, realising after one bite they are sugary.
Croissant - 2 bites of. First bite was automatically going for my son's leftovers, second bite was trying to persuade myself it was sugar free. It wasn't.
Cappuccinos- i kept forgettibg to request no chocolate. But when i was asked i said week 3 i was requesting lattes instead.
Alcohol - i chose to not quit alcohol and have had my usual 2 beers, or 2 gins, or two glasses of wine one night on the weekend.

I have found sugar free chocolate, sugar free cereal bars and made sugar free scones. I continued to eat bread and didn't think to check the ingredients. I've eaten a lot of dried fruit and sugar free crisps. I have had honey on toast a few times. I discovered choc shots, like a sugar free hot chocolate but made with fruit juice, agave syrup and cacao bean powder.

The sugar cravings went at week 3. That was the point I stopped wanting to cry whenever I walked past the chocolate aisle. That feeling lasted a week then on the final countdown i have been craving cake again.

I would do it again, but I probably wouldn't fast on Sundays. Allegedly that's how the Catholics do it, and i was brought up catholic (it never stuck) so I wouldn't feel it was cheating.  I think i might end up eating less sugary stuff after this but i am not going to give it up forever.

It's been an experience and I'm glad I've done it. 

Hekla's children

I read another book. In just over 24 hours. I am full of the joy of reading again, it's just ace.

The book was Hekla's Children by James Brogdan. Started off as a thriller, seguing into a supernatural book. It contained mythology, or created it's own, whichever way you want to see it and had a very satisfying end. The women were real and central to the plot.  I very very much enjoyed it.

To follow this I am reading War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It's urban fantasy. A rock n roll musician gets drafted into a war between the Seelie and Unseelie courts. I find books about music uncomfortable and beguiling. As a teenager my obsession was music and I knew a lot about the punk/metal/indie scene of the 90s.  But books about music can be embarassing. I feel like the two creative mediums shouldn't crossover. This book however is alright. The music bits work and don't make me cringe. At least with fairies there is a historical association with music which is explored here. I'm enjoying the fantasy aspects and our key fairy character too. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

New year goals

I wrote about what I wanted out of this new year.  I was at quite a low point when I wrote this but it seems I have already achieved some things. Let's see:

  • Find a work/life balance and Spend more time with my toddler.

Achieved.  I go part time soon.  I am so relieved.  I am already happier and planning things to do with my son.

  • Teach the toddler to say thank you, tidy up after himself and like vegetables.

This should be achievable when I'm part time and have more energy to parent him.  Mind you, he's already started saying sorry and excuse me more, so part of him learning thank you and please and other manners is just waiting for him to get old enough to get it.  I also want to teach him table manners because right now he's atrocious and I don't feel like I can take him out to lunch.  Although going part time will mean I can't afford to take him out to lunch.  As for the vegetables, he's starting to broaden his tastes anyway, nibbling on the odd bit of green stuff.  I will be following the advice in the First Bite book I mentioned in my last blog post and hopefully he will have a greater range of tastes soon.

  • Spend less money.

Going part time means I will have less money to spend, so this one should be easy...

  • Get my asthma and knee twinges under control/Do yoga a few times a week/cycle to work more

My asthma is already loads better - preventive inhalers are the bomb.  When my asthma is better I should be less prone to chest infections which means I will be able to cycle more.  being part time means I will spend more time on my feet and less at a desk which should be good for my health and my knee and. Doing yoga will mean that my knee should get better as well. I have had problems these last few days so I did a few sun salutations and seated forward folds tonight and was a bit narked at how far I didn't move.  So, another reason to do more regular stretches.

  • Work on reducing my trichotillomania symptoms

I've not done anything about this yet. I appear to be pulling less at work, which is good, I hope that will continue.  I plan to get electrolysis on my chin done too, if I can afford it.  If that gets rid of some of the fuckers then my trich should reduce.

  • Be more appreciative of my parents

I'm trying.  I've certainly be more truthful (in a kind way) to them recently.

  • Give up sugar for lent

This will happen from Wednesday.  I will give up all processed sugar, including savoury food that has sugar added to it.  The exceptions are that I will keep eating honey and I will have alcohol as normal.  So about twice a month then.  I might blog it.  It might not be interesting and might just detail my dreams of cake, but wevs.  My blog, my writings.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Books that I have read recently

Some thoughts about a few things I have read recently:

First Bite - How we learn to eat by Bee Wilson
This is a non fiction book I recently finished reading. I don't think I've ever been so enthralled by non fiction. This book is highly readable and absolutely fascinating.  There are 8 chapters - Likes and dislikes, Memory, Children's food, Feeding, Brothers and Sisters, Hunger, Disorder and Change.  It covers how tastes are formed, why babies and toddlers don't like certain tastes, how we can teach children - and adults- to change their tastes, the relationship between eating and hunger and how family affects how we eat.  And more.

Seeing as I have a vegetable refusing 2 year old this book was a real eye opener.  It's not a parenting guide, it isn't about getting your child to eat, but it does contain some useful info about eating well.  A lot of it is written from the viewpoint that a great majority of people have disordered eating patterns, that we don't eat purely to fulfil hunger and that anyone can change their tastes with time and repeated exposure to new tastes.  I took a few things away from it, which are:

  • We should enjoy every mouthful we eat.  If we don't like what we are eating, we should change it.
  • If you want to enjoy new flavours, try them.  Try them repeatedly.  Give yourself  20 or so exposures to them before you decide if you like them or not.
  • Cooking and eating should be pleasurable.  You can learn to enjoy cooking and eating.
  • Children don't like bitter food.  But they can learn to.  If they refuse vegetables, don't turn it into a battle, don't hide veg in the rest of their dinners.  Offer them tastes of things outside of mealtimes, a lick will do, or a tiny pea sized amount of it the new food, which they can put in their mouth and spit out again.  Reward the try with a sticker or similar, do not reward them with chocolate or other food.  persevere with new tastes.  They will get it eventually and they can learn to like bitter food.
  • If we feed our children sweet things to cheer them up when they are little, or as a reward for doing a good thing, then they grow up to associate sweet things with feeling good, and these sweet things become comfort food.  If we were to reward our kids with healthy food they would grow up to associate healthy veg etc with comfort.  Wouldn't that be a fab thing.
  • Children's formula milk is manufactured to taste sweet because that's what adults think children's food should taste like.  The tastes and likes of children are most heavily influenced between the ages of 4 and 7 months.  What they eat then has a correlation to what they like as older kids and adults.  If we flavoured formula milk with spinach or other veg they would be more open to these vegetables as they get older.
  • Breastmilk contains the flavours of what the mother eats.  However eating lots of veg and other good stuff does not guarantee that the toddler will like vegetables.  Don't I know it.
  • When a child or adult is disgusted by a food they are genuinely disgusted.  Force feeding them the food won't make them like it, it will just continue to disgust them. If you want to get over your disgust of a certain food you need to repeatedly an gently expose yourself to it over a period of time.
  • Food is a joyous thing and it's quite sad that lots of people don't enjoy a wide range of flavours and textures.

Bike Topia - Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures
This is a brilliantly enjoyable set of short science fiction stories which involve the use of bicycles.  I think cycling is the most civilised way to travel, and in a future where there may be little petrol or diesel available it makes sense that people will rely on bikes.  And that those in power will control the use of bikes.  I enjoyed all stories apart from one, which I found quite disturbing, but that's down to my personal sensitive points.  Find more info about the book here:

Hitler's Forgotten Children by Ingrid von Oelhafen and Tim Tate
This is a non fiction book about the children of the Lebensborn - those with racially pure parents that were selected to be raised in Nazi ideology and to form the Nazi warriors of the future.  I'm halfway through and so far we have mostly covered Ingrid's early post war life and been given an overview of her adulthood.  As a young child she found out her parents fostered her and I have just got to the bit where she is discovering that she was a Lebensborn child and she is trying to track down her biological family.  This is a really interesting book that makes clear the horror of a government directed drive to create racially pure citizens, and shows how not knowing your origins can seriously affect your life.

Monday, January 15, 2018


I've been thinking about how much plastic I use. I want to do a list of all plastics I use in a week but that might be a bit much.  I might start with noting down all the plastics I use in a day. I wonder how much I really use and how much I rely on. And how much I recycle and avoid.

If there are any environmentalists reading this can theh explain why plastic is the worst substance? Is it because it is so prolific due to being cheap and easy to manufacture, in which case if we used metal instead would that become as big a pollutant? What about rubber? Is there such a thing as synthetic rubber?

Or is it simply because it takes so long for plastics to break down? Presumably all metals will rust and degrade much quicker. And rubber will degrade too.  Having saud that, i know that rubbish heaps on landfill don't rot because there is no air in the heaps. So all that crap just stays there, piling up, until big holes are put in it and then maybe the decomposition process will start.

All the plastics and crap we throw away make me feel quite ill. I try to live by the mantra reduce, reuse, recycle, but I'm not as good at it as I would like to be.

Monday, January 01, 2018

New year

I don't usually do new year resolutions. I think they are bound to fail because there is usually little structure to themand little support to continue with them. On a soggy March day or, a grim January, or even a sunby summer day you feel mentally miles away from 31st December and the goals no longer seem relevant or doable.

However, I have been thinking a lot about my life and the direction it is going in lately and I am starting to think I do need to do tjings differently. Not just for 2018, but in general.

I would like to:
Find a work/life balance.
Spend more time with my toddler.
Teach the toddler to say thank you, tidy up after himself and like vegetables.
Do yoga a few times a week.
Spend less money.
Work on reducing my trichotillomania symptoms.
Be more appreciative of my parents.
Get my asthma and knee twinges under control.
Cycle to work more - don't get the bus because it is easy.
Give up sugar for lent.

I feel like a lot of these things could be done if I had a better work/life balance. My job is very demanding and leaves me with little energy or headspace to do any of these other things. I was having CBT for the trich and I was doing really well, but work got on top of me and I had to stop.

There are other things I want to do as well. Some are everyday, like continuing to crochet, draw and wear more makeup, but these are part of my everyday routine now so don't feel hard to do.

Others are wishful thinking, like lose weight, tone up, become a size 10. But these aren't genuine wishes, they are internalised cultural pressures and they are bullshit.

I might end up writing about the things I do do, but am wary of this turning into a health blog. I don't want to be someone advocating for a way of life, or someone who inspires others to diet or exercise. I want to write for myself.

I've just noticed there is nothing about comics on this list.  It feels so eerie for comics to be such a minor part of my life now.