Books I have read in 2017 (19 - 23).

5.10.17

#19 - The Light Between Oceans - M. L. Stedman 4/5

This is a period drama about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, living a remote life off the coast of Australia, who rescue a baby from a shipwreck and raise her as their own. I really enjoyed the writing and use of imagery which made it easy to picture the setting. I didn't love this book but I did really like it and it has definitely helped to spark my love of fiction again (after a spell of struggling to read anything except non fiction/self help books). If you like anything set in the past with a romantic storyline, with a feel of The Notebook, then add this to your list. 

#20 - GUT - Giulia Enders 3.5/5 (rating for audiobook version)

This book has been on my wishlist for a little while, ever since I saw a nutritional therapist and wanted to find out more about the link between the gut and immune system. I decided to listen to it as an audiobook which I'm glad I did because things got a bit heavy for me to digest (excuse the pun) halfway through and I think I would have given up on the 'proper' book. There is a lot of information to take in and long scientific words that I definitely won't remember but I found it a good book to dip in and out of taking it in stages.

The main criticism for me is the choice of narrator whose voice was like nails on a chalkboard to me, and the way her constant pausing made the sentences feel disjointed. That aside, I definitely picked up some tips on how to make changes to my own diet and gut health so it was a worthwhile listen.

#21 - I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT! - Danny Wallace 5/5

I love Danny Wallace and I bloody loved this book. Laugh out loud funny, easy to read, and a hilarious insight into why people are so damn rude.



#22 - The Other Hand - Chris Cleave 1/5

This book was lent to me with the promise that it was "one of the best books ever". I was intrigued especially as there is no synopsis on the back cover. Just a promise that you must keep the story a secret from your friends and not to ruin the ending. I thought I was in for an absolute TREAT! I was gearing up to lend it to everyone I knew with a smug look on my face that I knew about it and they didn't. In summary, all hype no substance. Very disappointing. Didn't enjoy. Waited for something to happen (a twist, a turn, anything!) but it never came.

#23 - Divergent - Veronica Roth 4.5/5

This was my summer holiday read after I spotted it on the bookshelf in the hotel's lobby. I liked The Hunger Games series so I thought this might be my cup of tea too, and I was right. Divergent is set in a dystopian future where 16 year old Tris must make a difficult decision to remain or switch "factions", following all of the subsequent drama that ensues. This was an easy to read, couldn't put it down sort of book and I really want to read the others in the series. Sometimes a book aimed at a slightly younger reader that you can absorb easily and quickly, set in a fantasy world, is just the ticket!

Oops, I did it again.

4.10.17

Hello! Yes, I am still alive! I'm doing my usual vibe of not going anywhere near my blog for months on end then wanting to write 20 posts in one sitting so I am going to start small and just check in to list all my excuses. My laptop broke (it really did) then the broadband broke (this is also true) then my motivation broke, I was busy with work, trips away, yada yada etc etc.

As a self confessed "quitter" my blog is one of the only consistent things in my life and it has been for many many years so although I have toyed with the idea of knocking it on the head a few times I'm not going to. It is here to stay! Now if my motivation to write it could also stick around that would be grand...

Books I have read in 2017 (15 - 18).

24.7.17

#15 When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalinthi 3.5/5

This is a non fiction book written by Paul Kalinthi about his own experience with cancer, which sadly he did not get to finish writing. It's a powerful thing to read the words of someone who you know didn't live to see his book get published. It is finished by his wife and her words really touched me (there were tears, of course).

Paul was a self-confessed workaholic and, as someone suffering from burnout, I found it difficult to read towards the end as he continued to push his body and brain to the absolute brink through his work despite being very poorly and having a young family.

I really wanted to like this book a lot more than I did and I hope you don't think I'm a terrible human being for not giving it top marks. 

#16 Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - John Gray 4.5/5

There's a reason why this 1992 book is still going strong now and that's because it's a complete eye-opener into the world of men and woman, how different their brains work, and basically how we're all doomed (LOL J/K, but also not).

It feels a little repetitive towards the end but that aside I really enjoyed this book. It has taught me so much about why ex boyfriends did things they did, and why I do the things that I do. It gave me a little bit of faith that my newfound knowledge can help me to improve future relationships. They should make this book part of the GCSE curriculum or something. I wish I had read it a long time ago then maybe I wouldn't be 32 and a spinster...


#17 - The Princess Saves Herself In This One - Amanda Lovelace 4.5/5

I have been getting into poetry more and more recently so when I spotted Amanda's book giving off a similar vibe to Milk & Honey (by Rupi Kaur) I knew I had to have it. And I wasn't disappointed because it's an absolute beauty of a poetry book. Just like with Milk & Honey I connected with the words completely and wanted to devour it in one go. Recommend! 

#18 - Make Your Bed (little things that can change your life... and maybe the world) - William H. McRaven 4/5

This is a short but sweet read that I read in a couple of hours but it's a book I will read again in the future more than once. William is a retired Navy SEAL and all round bad-ass so not only is this a fascinating insight into his life but also how his experiences as a professional bad-ass can be applied to every day life to make the world a better place. i.e. make your bed (maybe not to the Navy's standards) every morning to feel a sense of achievement and to tick off your first completed task. 

Quality over quantity for sure, and a nice little book to keep on your bookshelf or to give as a gift. 

Haworth [60s weekend].

2.7.17

Last Sunday I visited Haworth for the first time; somewhere I have wanted to visit for a really long time. We picked a great day to go because, unbeknown to us, it was their 60s weekend! I knew they did a 40s weekend once a year but I didn't realise other decades got involved too so this was an exciting prospect.

We pulled up in the car park to the sounds of 60s live music pumping from nearby, multiple Mods on their scooters, and a few people dressed in 60s appropriate clothes truly getting into the spirit of things.


The weather wasn't on our side with on and off drizzle throughout the day but we did manage to sit outside with a cuppa while the sun made a brief appearance.

I made a beeline for every single dog I saw, with my favourites being a gang of three consisting of two Boston Terriers and a French Bulldog who we saw everywhere we went much to my delight. They were the sweetest dogs. I think Lily and Lola would have liked them (or tried to beat them all up, either or).

Haworth is such a beautiful place. I felt like I was on a Harry Potter set frequently throughout our visit with the cobbled streets lined with quirky shops. I can't wait to go back with Lily and Lola when things are a little quieter and we can have a steady stroll around.


A long overdue "life lately" (trips away, taking the plunge back to work, and trying out Tinder??!)

18.6.17

Good morning lovely blog people. I can only apologise for being MIA. Life suddenly got rather busy and the longer that time went on without me blogging the more I had to tell you, which made me wonder where to start. So here I go; I will attempt to summarise the last two months! And I promise to update more frequently from now on. Pinky promise!  

* I'm going to do a separate blog post about my health/CFS situation, but the overall vibe is that my health is getting better all the time; I am able to do so much more with my days without feeling too poorly from it. I still have mild symptoms of glandular fever/chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E. (whatever you wanna call it) but they are tolerable and I am learning how to manage them but also to push myself a little each week. I genuinely feel like I can 100% beat this and it feels pretty awesome. 

* I'm back at work, after a year off! I have managed a few months of part time working, doing a few hours every day, which I seem to be managing well so far. I'm really enjoying using my brain again. My manager is lovely and I am so grateful to be back out in the world of work because for such a long time I wondered if it would ever happen.


* After a few months of being happy as a clam as a single lady I launched myself into the world of online dating and swiftly remembered how stressful and horrendous it is. Thankfully (after a couple of dates which didn't go anywhere) I soon met a rather handsome and sweet chap who I have been seeing for about 7 weeks now. He's had a tough time of things too so we're just taking things steady and enjoying each other's company and that works for me!

* I have had weekends away in Manchester and York, a day trip to Ilkley and have been getting to grips with where everything is in Leeds with plenty of shopping trips, picnics and tea/cake dates.


* I'm exercising regularly and feeling good. It's early days but I really hope I can build up to running again and maybe start doing Parkruns. I would be over the moon if I managed that.

* I have just booked two holidays for this year which I could not be happier about. GIVE ME THE SUNSHINE! I'm going to Kefalonia in a couple of weeks time, and Amsterdam in September.

* I got a pink rinse on my hair and absolutely loved it.


* Life is a million miles away from where it was 6 months ago. And for that, I am one grateful lady!

Books I have read in 2017 (10 - 14).

11.6.17

#10 A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen - 3/5

I found this book on my mum's bookcase and I thought it looked like a book I would enjoy, considering it involves something small and furry which is always a winning combination. I am sure you will be familiar with it; the tale of a cat who befriends a homeless man and they become best pals. Overall it was a really nice read but I found the simplistic writing style a little bit tedious in places (says me, the bloody writing pro eh? ;)) It was a heartwarming tale and definitely gave me more awareness into what it's like to be homeless so I would recommend if you're looking for a quick, easy read. 

#11 Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella - 4.5/5

Finding Audrey isn't my usual kind of book as it's aimed at a younger market than my mature years (ahem) but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Audrey is a teenager struggling her way through not being able to leave the house and not wanting to take off her sunglasses, until her brother's friend comes into her life and helps her find the real world again. I wish I could go back in time to give my 13/14 year old self this book as it would have helped me an awful lot. Recommend recommend! 


#12 Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 4/5

I have wanted to read Eat Pray Love for ages but it was only once I spotted it in my local library that I took the plunge. It's quite a long, meaty book so it took me a while to read but overall I found the story of Elizabeth Gilbert's life from a newly divorced, kinda lost hot mess to a newly spiritual, kick ass inspirational kinda lady really, well, inspiring! I could relate to Elizabeth's life and thoughts in so many ways and that made reading this that little more special as I've been on a journey of my own (although nothing quite as exotic as going to Italy, Indonesia or Bali, sadly).

#13 Milk and Honey - Rupi Kaur 100/5

Can I give a book 100 marks out of 5? No? Tough because I'm going to. I'm new to the world of poetry books but this wasn't a bad place to start. Rupi Kaur's words are so powerful and beautiful and I would recommend this book to everyone. Go buy it, now. 

#14 The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down - Haemin Sunim 5/5

Another corker that I thoroughly enjoyed and have since lent to my good pal in the hopes of spreading how wonderful this book is. It's written in such a way that you should take your time with it, drinking in the beautiful illustrations and wise words. Haemin covers a wide variety of subjects and his wisdom and peaceful nature, being a monk and all, really come through in the chapters of this book. Plus it's a hardback and has a pretty cover which are never a bad thing! 

Happy reading! 

Little things I have done lately to declutter my mind.

17.4.17

After my mammoth decluttering session with all of my belongings a whole heap of space became freed up in my brain and it's addictive let me tell you. So I started to think a bit more about what else I could do to simplify my life and keep my mind clear of anything it doesn't need. Once your health goes down the drain you realise what is important in life and what isn't. So I am now on a mission to make my life as simple as possible and use my energy for the things that really matter.

This list contains a few of the little things I have done lately which added up and made a difference to my head space. I hope they give you some ideas if you are looking to lift the load on your brain.

* Deleting things from my phone to make extra storage. Old photos and old unwanted memories. Old notes/to do lists. Old WhatsApp conversations that fill me with dread when I see that little photo staring back at me. Delete delete delete. It is satisfying to delete the old to make way for the new.

* Keeping my bedside table free from "stuff" and conducive to a good nights sleep. At one point I had a whole pile of books and trinkets on there and it definitely didn't give off relaxing bedtime vibes. Now I just have my Himalayan salt lamp, a couple of books that I read before sleeping, and a bottle of water for when I wake up and I'm all set.


* Unsubscribing from mailing lists. This is time consuming at first but then easy to keep on top of once you've got the bulk out of the way. There are also things like Unroll.Me which make this task a whole lot easier! I really don't want to be wasting time reading emails that aren't relevant or I don't even remember signing up for. So now I know that all my emails will be things I actually want to read. I also got rid of anything to do with online shopping and discount codes in an attempt to keep my wardrobe and spending down. 

* Taking a look at my subscriptions on YouTube. My tastes change all the time and I realised that my feeds were full of videos that I no longer had an interest in. However seeing all those unwatched videos was causing me massive amounts of anxiety. There's my Type A personality rearing its ugly head once again! So I spent a bit of time thinking about the type of topics I am interested in at the moment and the end result was a shorter subscription list full of health and wellbeing topics that add value to my life. 

* Asking myself "is this useful?" This is a really good one! Every so often I check in with myself and ask "is what I'm doing right now useful?" If I am mindlessly scrolling through my phone at that moment in time, or watching something on Netflix that I'm not concentrating on, it forces me to move onto a different task.

* Being more "mindful" on my daily walks. I love my walks along the canal, which I do most days, and I try to take in as much of my surroundings as I can. But this can be taken one step further by becoming even more present. Take notice of every footstep and how your foot makes contact with the ground. Pay attention to every sound. The smells (not so good for the patch of canal that goes past a sewage plant!) And so on. 

* Deleting all traces of your last boyfriend. Self explanatory!

* Picking a colour to focus on. Have you ever had thoughts racing through your mind and you want to escape just for a little while? Sometimes I will pick a colour, such as yellow because it's a happy colour, then spend a few minutes looking for anything with the colour yellow in it. Passing cars, flowers, book covers, clothes, whatever it may be. It's a good way of shifting your focus.

* Last but not least, increasing my mindfulness/meditation practice. I have been playing around with guided practice, having a go at doing it on my own to music, breathing exercises, mindfulness at regular intervals throughout the day. I really enjoy incorporating it into my daily life and it has definitely made a difference to my thoughts. I can't recommend starting your own daily practice enough, and if you need a few pointers you can check out my YouTube favourites playlist for some inspiration (click here!)

Why I'm getting rid of most of my possessions and why it feels SO GOOD!

8.4.17

In the last 10 years I have moved house a dozen times and each time I have a "spring clean" of stuff that I no longer need, use or want. It mainly goes off to the local charity shop or is given to friends and I temporarily feel better for it. But the bottom line is, I still have so much frickin' stuff!

When my relationship ended in December 2016 things were different. My health prevented me from moving straight into a place of my own which meant I was limited on what I could initially take with me when I was booted out of my home. For a couple of months I lived off the contents of one small suitcase and not once did I really need anything that was sat in my ex boyfriend's spare room. Whenever I thought about the amount of clothes, shoes, boxes of crap, furniture, and books it made me feel anxious and physically I felt weighed down by it all. It was constantly in the back of my mind and the idea of moving that amount of stuff was overwhelming, to put it mildly.

Over the last couple of months I have done a few trips back and forth to collect my things, with one giant sweep last weekend. After watching the Minimalism documentary on Netflix and listening to a few podcasts from "The Minimalists", and seeing the limited space I had in my new bedroom (and not wanting to be surrounded by mess) I felt inspired to reduce my belongings by a significant amount.

photo source unknown

The first thing I did was send 90% of my books to charity shops, keeping a small selection of special books or self-help books that I like to refer to regularly. I do love having a home with a big bookcase stuffed full of books, but right now I can't have that and that's okay.

For someone who struggles to find their personal style and an outfit to wear for specific occasions I have an insane amount of clothes. Initially it was easy to bag things up for charity but I was still left with way too much. This is when it got harder to let go. I had to get ruthless! I was holding onto things because they were designer and cost me a lot of money 10+ years ago, not that I would ever wear them again. So what was I planning to do, carry them round with me for the rest of my life looking at them or storing them? I managed to get my wardrobe down to a reasonable size but I am still listing things on eBay on a daily basis and working my way through my shoe collection. My eventual plan is to have a "capsule wardrobe" and invest in good basics that go with everything. That's the long term plan but for now I feel so much lighter and less cluttered in my mind for having less clutter in my wardrobe.

photo source unknown

Letting go has been tough but it has been a real healing process for me. The satisfaction of reducing my belongings to a more manageable amount, giving furniture to family whose need is greater than mine, donating to charity, and making a few hundred pounds on eBay has made the process totally worth it. 

Trying to do this with chronic fatigue syndrome hasn't been easy but I am so proud of myself for doing a little each day and persevering with it. 

If you are feeling weighed down or you're going through a tough time, break up, whatever it may be, I can highly recommend decluttering your stuff in order to help declutter your mind! It has worked a treat for me.