Bruises And Adrenaline: Doing Things That Make Us Feel Alive

“It’s the experiences that count, the bruises and dry faces,” my boyfriend said to me after spending the morning trekking across snow-washed countryside in blizzard like conditions. Walking back through the front door at lunchtime the other day more than a little beaten up felt like a relief and a reward all at once. It was 28th February 2018, the second day in a row we had woken up to a city painted white, and we had decided to make the most of it.

If you’re from the UK, you’re probably over this phenomenon by now as social media has been inundated with snow photos. People, like always in this country, were seriously excited. Of course the media went ridiculously over the top, and 90% of the news was about past, future or current snowfallPublic transport was cancelled or delayed, some schools were closed and the only thing the UK seemed to have improved on since I was a child was gritting the roads. When I was little, it would look like someone had dropped a huge tub of washing powder on the city; the world would be unrecognisable and all movement would halt. Now, main roads carve grey arteries into the landscape, allowing life to carry on flowing.

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February Reflections – How My New Job Is Going, Spontaneous Adventures and Life Update

In my first ‘reflections’ post of the year, I described January as a whirlwind. If January was a whirlwind, with everything up in the air and swirling around me a little chaotically, February was most certainly a cheetah: definitely continuing the fast-paced rush of the previous month, but with more direction than a tornado. Allow me to explain.

This was the month of settling into my new job as a healthcare assistant. In January, I was completely out of my depth: I had no previous experience in a role like this and every hour was filled with foreign experiences. At the end of each twelve and a half hour shift I’d be totally wiped out, and sometimes tearful. This month, I’ve felt a little more in control, I know what to do and how to do it most of the time; I’m also starting to understand the dynamics of the team I’m working in. Each shift feels like I’m heading for a clear goal now, rather than nervously running around in circles wondering what’s next. I also did my first ever night shift a couple of weeks ago. That came with a whole bucketful of lessons in itself.

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34 Thoughts From My First Ever Night Shift

Last night I experienced what it’s like to work a night shift in a hospital – for the first time ever. It was an intense, yet spaced-out experience which I’m finding hard to write about in any sort of coherent manner (probably due to the fact I’ve missed a night’s sleep and the skill of producing eloquent content is evading me right now). Because of this, I thought I’d write a post documenting a fraction of my thoughts throughout the night instead – this allows me to share with you all my feelings in the way I experienced them, rather than editing the events into reflective prose.

So here we go, from start to finish, my first night shift experience in 34 parts:

This feels like a dream, actually no, a nightmare. Is this real? I don’t think this is happening. In the car on the way to work at 7:30pm? No way.

It’s so dark out here. Like, impossibly solid darkness. No one should be heading to work when the sky is this black.

This really is real. I just walked through the hospital’s automatic doors and the antiseptic, musty, microwaved-food smell that I’ve come to know so well is hitting me full on.

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Going Shopping – Conversations With Anxiety #01

Snapshots of the conversations that are had between anxiety and I: the things we fight over, the discussions and debates we take part in and the struggle to reason with irrationality. Some of these are based on past events or reoccurring battles, some on more recent occasions, and some are simply extrapolations of experiences I’ve had.

Me: Okay, just need my keys and phone and we’re ready to go!

Anxiety: Nope nope, I don’t think we should go –

Me: Shh, not now, I don’t have time for this.

Anxiety: No actually, it’s not that I don’t think we should go, I know we shouldn’t.

Me (sighing): And why would that be?

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You Don’t Have To Eat Oysters: An Open Letter to Myself About Making Decisions

Dear 2018 Alys,

Sometimes you wonder if you’re doing the right thing with your life. In this fast-paced world of constructed online identities and overwhelming arrays of things and places and people and opportunities, you often feel lost. I see that look in the hazel of your eyes, your decisions are as uncertain as the shade staring back at you – some people see brown, others green.

But the question that consistently plagues you on some kind of level, whether that’s a buzz at the back of your brain or a drill in your temple, isn’t brown or green. It’s study or work. Distance learning or physical university. Travelling the world or the ease of home life. Healthcare or writing or the media industry. Internships or volunteering. Europe or America or Australia. It’s have you made the right choices so far or should you have done something different? And what’s the next step?

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From Distance Learning to Physical Uni: How My Mental Health Directs Change

A couple of days ago, I wrote about why I chose to study for a degree with the Open University, a distance learning institution. That post can be summed up simply in one sentence: I started Open Uni because I wanted to study for a degree but I didn’t know if I could mentally cope at physical university or if the subject I chose, Sociology, was definitely the right decision for me. (You should go check that post out if you’d like the full context behind what you’re about to read, though!)

I concluded that post by mentioning the fact that I decided to apply to physical universities for this autumn, despite having a list longer than a transatlantic flight detailing all of the reasons why uni wasn’t for me. Whaaaat? I know right, I’m so unreliable in my decision making.

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Misunderstanding My Anxiety

Hands sweating, heart racing, the bones in my legs were suddenly made of string. There was no way I was standing up, let alone on blades a few millimetres thick, on ICE. What was I thinking? Why did I think this was a good idea and I could do this? That’s a crazy concept anyway, people do not belong on slippery surfaces. They belong on solid ground, or in bed, actually yeah, bed sounds like an attractive option right now.

“Size 6.” I forced out of my unsteady lungs, handing my trainers over in return for ice skates and begging my mind to please, please just keep it together and not ruin this fun, yes FUN activity. I will have fun. Will I?

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Two Months In: My 2017 Blog Stats and Reflection

In case you haven’t noticed, 2017 ended a couple of days ago, and that inevitably means it’s time to reflect on the past year. I thought I’d take a moment to have a look back on my blogging journey so far.

My blog was born on 7th November 2017, and in the 54 days between then and New Year’s Eve, I published 40 posts which amounted to around 23,500 words. I toppled over 200 WordPress followers around the start of the year, with over 1000 visitors to my blog worldwide, primarily from the UK, USA and Canada, and a total of 2700 views.

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My Vegan Story – Veganuary

Today is an exciting day, and not just because it’s January 1st. It is also the first day of Veganuary: a global, month-long challenge for people to change their eating habits by following a vegan diet. This means that a person’s food consumption is plant-based, and doesn’t include meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey. That can sound extremely daunting to a lot of people, because ‘what am I going to eat?!’ and ‘how can I possibly be healthy?’.

But you shouldn’t worry, many vegans now living happy and healthy lives also experienced concern when facing these questions, amongst a catalogue of others, yet still managed to make the change. And if this is something you want to do, it is totally possible and plausible, it just takes a little education, experience and support.

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18 Things I Want To Do In 2018

It’s the start of 2018: a new year and therefore the month in which, due to socially constructed values, we pressure ourselves to be ‘better’ and change who we are. I don’t necessarily think this mindset is productive or conducive to becoming the people we want to be – personally, I like to take this moment to reflect on what’s happened over the past 365 days and highlight bits from that which I’d like to carry over into the next year. I don’t just do this process in January though, I like to reflect most months, it just comes to the forefront of my mind when there’s such a strong culture around doing this at the start of the year.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share the things I’m looking to do more of in the coming year, especially as Lucy tagged me on Twitter to do something similar to this a few days ago. Her post is more about sports and other activities she wants to do in 2018 and is well worth a read, so go and have a look over there!

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