Saturday, 31 May 2014

Another one bites the dust

I appear to have found myself reaching the end of another era. This one lasted for 16 months, let's call it going back to school. Sometimes I have to pinch myself as a reminder that it actually happened. I actually did quit my libraryland job of 12 years in February last year. I actually did go back to school. I actually did survive for 16 months without earning any money. 2 years ago I don't think I would have believed a word of it, but here I am, and I survived. Just. 

In all honesty, it's been a weird old time. Despite being desperate to leave libraryland, when it actually came to it, it was a real wrench. I'd spent so long there, did a lot of my growing up there, had some really lovely friends...walking out the door for the last time was exhilirating and terrifying all at the same time. Studying at the same campus that I used to work at meant that I really didn't break the ties that bound me. I was still going to the same places for lunch, still seeing the same people, just not every day, and when I did return to libraryland it was as a customer who happened to know everyone who worked there. I have one more thing to do on campus and then that will truly be it. I will have no reason to return. It will be then, I think, that the era will be officially over. As in nail banging in the coffin over. I think I'm ready. 

Going back to school was also oddly weird. I knew I would be older than everyone else, I didn't realise I would be the only 'home' student as we are called, all my other course buddies were international students from far flung lands. It's been a fascinating experience getting to know these people and I'm sure they would say the same of me. Some of them come from lands where women are very much second class citizens, they don't initiate conversations, they don't really get a chance to voice their opinions, they don't wear short skirts and skinny jeans, and they definitely don't have bright red hair. It suddenly became apparent to me how much I take my freedom for granted - it wouldn't even occur to me to think that I might need permission to go outside alone or walk down a street. Truly eye opening. 

The work itself was enjoyable and interesting. The second semester well and truly kicked my arse with the group work element, I've never felt stress like it. But it was coupled with a lot of family bereavements and so there was a whole load of other 'stuff' to be dealing with as well as deadlines and group conflict. The final semester was lonely. Working on our final projects, it was entirely self-directed and so I was home alone. Often Wavey was away so I was well and truly home alone. There were times when I really missed people, and it was during those times that I would crave the work place camaraderie, but I always knew I had made the right decision. 

The same couldn't be said for during the long summer break. It seemed crazy to me that we had 4 months off in the middle of this course. The summer started on a high as I found myself a job and I was really excited for the opportunity it was going to bring me. As it turned out it was a massive disaster and definitely chalked up one for the huge learn from your mistakes curve. The rest of the summer was me, trying to find a job, any job. I spent hours filling in application forms only to bang up against huge brick walls. It was utterly disheartening and I was miserable and felt defeated. The experience filled me with anxiety, and I was worried that I had made a big mistake. Luckily I have some really lovely people around me who helped keep me buoyant and made me realise that my next job hunt would be a very different time. I'm hoping that's true...

Overall, as an experience, it's been life changing I would say. I finally realised that you don't have to wallow in a job that makes you utterly miserable. There are other opportunities out there, you just have to be brave enough to commit to them. I also learned that it's possible to survive without money. Yes it's a bit embarrassing to have to admit that you can't afford lunch and will just have a cup of tea instead, but it's not the end of the world. I've always been frugal as have lived through some pretty tough times, financially. I do miss pay day though, I can't wait until I have my very first pay day again. I will feel so rich! 

Funnily enough it was also a time when I became addicted to lotions and potions. Hard when you've got no money. I am now an avid fan of many beauty bloggers and YouTubers and it thrills me to pore over their reviews. I make wish lists of things that I'll get when I'm rich again. I've learned new make up tricks, think I finally have the hang of applying eyeshadow! More than anything I find these people really inspiring, they're in their mid-20s and they risked it all to do a job they love, in a highly competitive market place. Admirable. 

Lots of people repeatedly told me how brave I was when I first started out in this venture. I used to laugh it off and say, ha more like stupid. But eventually I began to see that maybe I was brave. The internet is full of inspirational words that people pin and like and share, but the message that shines through is that you are in charge of your own life. Only you can make the change if something is making you miserable. I did just that. I made the change. And even though now, when I'm moving on to the next era, when I'm nervous that a job hunt could take a while, I know in my heart of hearts that I absolutely did the right thing when I walked out of libraryland for the last time. My life is changed. And I did that. 

The end. (of this era)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

The natural world #3: the juice cleanse

What is it? A juice cleanse is an opportunity to cut out processed, heavy, unhealthy foods and instead nourish your body with easily digestible and nutritious juices, all made from high end organic fruit and vegetables. 

Who does it? After much research online I finally selected Radiance Cleanse Some were hugely expensive but Radiance offered a single rest day cleanse. Don't get me wrong, it was still expensive, but it was something I really wanted to try, especially as with all the stress with the final project I've been having stomach issues, lots of uncomfortable feelings, not good. I wanted to get back on track by trying the cleanse. Plus my good friend D is almost at the end of a weekly retreat where she has cleansed and I wanted to share the experience! 

What do you get? Lots of guidance. I'd like to put that out there straightaway. As well as a very informative website I received several communications, including fact sheets for pre and post-cleanse eating. The pack itself arrived in a huge box! The juices were packed into this really smart black cool bag (so using that again!) and with two freezer packs to keep them cold (again, so using them again!). For a single rest day there was a total of 6 juices:
  1. Ginger lemonade
  2. Alka green
  3. Cashew milk
  4. Root boost
  5. Vibrant veg
  6. Vital green
Each juice is 500ml, in a bottle that could either be reused or recycled. There was also a timetable for each drink which came packaged in a thick, black, embossed envelope. All the bottles were numbered to help you out too. Taking all that into consideration and the freshness of the ingredients, I would definitely say this pack is value for money. There is no scrimping to be found. If I had to pick one word it would be: classy. 

How was it? A little bit weird. I've never done anything like this before so the whole thing was virgin territory. I've really only ever tried your traditional fruit juices, such as apple and orange, and don't have space for a juicer so that trend kind of passed me by completely. The first thing, after the excitement of the giant parcel, was being alarmed by the green juice! I was definitely nervous to try it, but it was actually very tasty and even though I could taste the vegetables, the sweetness from the other juices shone through. I liked the cashew milk a lot, but I've always been quite a big milk drinker, it's good for the bones you know. 

I struggled with two things. The first was boredom. I'm a big believer in variety being the spice of life and I apply this to my food on a daily basis. I seldom eat the same thing twice in one week, much less all in one day. By the 4th drink I was thinking, here we go again, more juice. I overcame this by telling myself how good I was being to my body. The second thing was the quantity. 6 drinks at 500ml each is 3000ml of juicy goodness over the day - that is a whole lot of fluid! I spent quite a lot of the day peeing (TMI?) Some drinks took longer to finish than others. 

How did I feel by the end? By the last drink I had to admit I was glad it was over. I could never do more than one rest day. I would certainly consider doing it again, as I do feel like I've given my digestive system a break, but it's not something I would think about doing on a regular basis. I was surprisingly full and didn't feel the need to snack. It was probably about 10pm before I started to think, hmm I could eat something right about now. But I stood firm. 

The pre-cleanse fact sheet was really useful and Wavey and I adopted a kind of mediterranean diet, lots of fish and salads with everything. I think we'll probably continue that as we both want to be more healthy and trim. I think it was worth the money and Radiance clearly know what they are doing. I'd recommend the company, and even the process, but be prepared for the boredom of just drinking juice all day. 

Any other comments? One unexpected thing was that my teeth felt kind of funky. Like they had a coating on them. I'm thinking it's all the natural fruit sugar but I was so glad to clean my teeth! And one huge advantage, there was no dishes to wash as I hadn't made any food! Added bonus. Summing up: juice cleanse = interesting experience. Tempted to try one...?         

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


1. Shadow play / 2. First attempt at quinoa salad / 3. Return from Expo, slightly shiny of face but still in my 'business smart' / 4. More salad love, Wavey and I are becoming a smidge obsessed / 5. Wildflowers growing in the front garden

Friday, 16 May 2014

The natural world #2: 100% natural toothpaste

What is it: Green People, 100% natural toothpaste. 'Minty cool', and free from harsh foaming agents, flouride, artificial flavours, colourings, sweeteners, and preservatives. And certified organic by all the organic, tree hugging people. 

How was it? The first thing to get beyond was the fact that it was brown. Like mushroom soup colour brown. Clearly that artificial colouring thing is what makes other toothpastes so funky in colour (I do love a green stripe). The next thing was that it was runny. Instead of dolloping a pea size amount on your toothbrush as all good dentists recommend, a squeeze of the tube revealed this runny bleurgh type of liquid that started to drip down the side of the toothbrush and left the sink looking disturbingly like someone had barfed mushroom soup into there. The third thing was how it felt when I was cleaning my tooth. It made them squeak. Which kind of went through me the first time and didn't really improve, despite my valiant attempts to keep this thing going. Wavey has been equally disturbed by the whole experience and even requested that I just buy some normal toothpaste, please. 

How long? We gave it a good three weeks of testing I would say. Even did some tube wringing on it:

More details please: I'm not sure this is something you could buy everywhere. I bought it from an organic products website, just to give it a try. It cost £3.15 and the tube is only 50ml, pretty small in comparison to your bigger, non-organic brands. So as well as being just a bit rank, it's also pretty expensive. 

Will I buy again? 100% No. You know how committed I am to tree hugging and all round clean and organic living, but I think some things just don't cut it. For the three weeks I've used it for I've never really felt like my teeth have been properly clean, even with the squeeeeeak (like talon nails down a blackboard) which might suggest they were. Overall, it was quite an unpleasant experience that I definitely don't wish to repeat. Sorry Green People but this is a common feeling for most of your products I've tried now, which actually when I come to think of it had a similar squeaky clean feel about them. Just because it squeaks clean doesn't mean it's good. Someone have a word. 

Have any of you ever tried natural toothpaste? Way back, when I stayed at someone's house they had one that was bright pink, looked like Germolene, and tasted how I would imagine Germolene would taste, not that anyone should go round doing that as I think it's probably not that good for you...

In summary, natural toothpaste, not a winner. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Oh my!

It's been ages since I blogged, but to be honest there's been very little going on but a whole heap of work. And pretty much the same stretching forward for the next 2.5 weeks until official hand in date of 27th May. Eek. Yikes. And many other similar words that mean shiiiiiit that deadline is creeping up. I literally cannot wait for it all to be over. 

I dream of a time when I don't have to be thinking about academic work anymore. 

I dream of a time when I can have a pay day again, but before then I must find a job which will probably also involve a lot of dreaming. 

I dream of a time when I can go to the cinema again, so many films I want to see and so little free time at the moment. 

I dream of time. Free time. Oh my...!