Sunday, 15 April 2018

what if everything turns out ok?

The past few weeks at work have been a minor stress-fest. Or a major stress-fest, depending on the day. It's been the kind of stress that bubbles away under the surface, so it hasn't been openly obvious to colleagues.

But it's certainly been noticeable to my health - my doctor will most likely conclude it's the reason I'm now intolerant to almost every food, and why this week an optician told me I didn't need glasses, I just needed to "blink more, you idiot, when you stare at a screen for 9 hours a day." Whoops.

In the summer of 2017 I was chosen to work on a project that combines two of my great passions, and was a big-ish deal in the organisation. It flies under most people's radars, but to those in our little world it gets people talking.

I was surprised to be given the job - being underqualified, flailing around in a new-to-me department, and not really understanding things like professionalism or how to talk to colleagues or how many smiley emojis is too many in a work email. Little things like that. And big things, like having no experience and only weird Wikipedia facts to give the impression of actual knowledge.

In the next few weeks, that project is going to be revealed. This is a fact I wasn't wholly aware of until about two weeks ago. Just typing about it makes my heart rate increase. And the thoughts begin: what will happen when everyone finds out I have no clue what I'm doing?

Ah yes, here comes an unhealthy dose of impostor syndrome.

For those who aren't familiar with this ~psychological phenomenon~, one article defines it as
a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful
Oh, and it means you're terrified that everyone will discover your true identity as a fraud.

Hey! I'm an incompetent failure! Do you want to tell everyone I'm a fake, or should I get onto a nearby rooftop and announce it to the world myself?

With these thoughts swirling round in my head, it's probably no surprise that I want to lock myself in a cupboard and/or move far away and continue life under a pseudonym.

But instead, I've been concentrating on the advice in this tweet:

If this is a success (which it will be! I've had the support of colleagues! So far no one has said anything bad! Everyone's got my back!) it could be really important to my career; there's loads of CV/application/interview fodder encapsulated in this experience. It's also something I can contribute to the field I work in - something which I can point to and see my little flag waving. And it's taught me lots, given me some passion, and opened up my mind.

If everything is well-accepted, the confidence boost will be amazing. From time to time I feel like I've hit my stride, but this will be proof.

If no one questions my work, this will be the culmination of so much work. I'm excited and terrified, but I think that's healthy.

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So, I hope you're week was a bit better than mine! While I get settled into a new work schedule (and whilst I writhe in pain if I merely think about food) I'll be a little AWOL, but I hope to be back in a week or two, all things being well. Until then you can find me over on twitter, because I'm trying to get back into that whilst simultaneously doing my best not to be annoying about it.

Until next time (whenever that may be) please remember to speak and think kind words, to yourself and to others. Treat yourself well and concentrate on all the good things~

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

6 reasons i love the library

I currently don't have a tonne of mental energy, so here's a short post about one of my great loves: libraries.

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Since late 2015, I've been volunteering at my local library on Saturdays. As my dreams and career goals have moved away from librarianship, my perspective on the sessions has changed: what was once a way of gaining experience for my CV has become a grounding exercise; a way to give back to the community, support my library, and meet new people.

I've spent a lot of time in libraries over the years: as a student, as an unemployed graduate, as a bookworm, and as a frugal person without an internet connection. There's a lot of things I love about public libraries, so here are a few:

1. Free books. Duh. And discounted books! I recently passed up the opportunity of buying The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, both hardbacks, for 80p each - simply because books with multiple copies were being weeded out of the collection. I'm kicking myself for not picking them up, because they are such a good read.


2. Free internet, free computer use, and cheap printing. I don't have an internet connection at home, and without wifi in libraries I'm not sure what I'd do...

3. Friends! The library assistants I've come to know in the past are always cheerful, polite, and give great customer service. But they've also become my friends, and we chat and catch up on news. When I see them at other branch libraries I'm always sure to say 'hi'.

4. Community. Volunteering at the library has brought me more in touch with the community - the children who I've chatted to during the Summer Reading Challenge, the elderly couples who've asked me for help booking their holidays at IT sessions, the neighbours who turn up for weekly 'cake & catch up' sessions during summer.

5. Shelter. When it was cold, and us students were skint to turn the heat on at home, we'd go to the library on campus and camp out there. When it rains and I'm in town, I'll duck into the library. There's no limit on how long you can spend there, no payment per hour. With Extended Access I can stay in the library 8am-8pm if I wanted to (and who wouldn't?!... alright, I'm joking).

6. The best reason of all:
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Hope you're having a good week! We're half-way through, GO TEAM!

When was the last time you visited the library, and what's your favourite thing about them?

Sunday, 8 April 2018

the deal with my digestive health

I mentioned in my budget post for March that my grocery bill is going to sore, and that my health is - perhaps unsurprisingly - going in the complete opposite direction and taking a nose-dive. The story boils down to:
  • I develop a new food intolerance every 5-10 days
  • Soon I will be intolerant to everything
  • My body weight is so low I'm really very concerned
  • Ultimately, I'm moving away from my mostly vegan diet

The long story is I've had GI issues for over a decade. A decade of not absorbing nutrients lead me to be dangerously, critically, unbelievably aneamic last September. A year or so before that, I started developing a couple of random intolerances: sprouting broccoli, green beans, swede, spinach, kidney beans. Foods I ate regularly because they are healthy. And because, during a glut in summer, we have to eat green beans 5 days a week just to save ourselves from being buried beneath a heap of vegetables.

I loved harvest time!.... back when I could eat all of these foods.
I digress.

In November I started keeping a food diary. In January I cut out dairy (the number one culprit since I was 10 years old) and felt better for maybe a week. Then, over the course of the following months, I've become intolerant everything: soya, pasta, cocktail sausages, anything oily, greasy or fatty, pastry, medlars, Quorn, rice, carrots, chickpeas, onion.... the list is so long I've honestly lost track.

All things I love. All things I eat regularly. I've grieved each loss, as each new intolerance popped up; each week I crossed another of my favourite foods and a bunch of dishes off my menu.

I've become a regular with my GP, I've sat in hospital waiting rooms, and I've had a colonoscopy (the most painful experience of my life thus far). I'll likely be diagnosed with IBS. I'm not satisfied with that, but I should say thanks to the NHS for trying, I guess.

A restrictive FODMAP diet won't necessarily work because - guess what? - I'm intolerant to a lot of the low FODMAP (safe) foods. But I'll give it a go. I'm also considering some alternative diets for the future - gluten free, sugar free, vitamin supplements... all those scary diets that I never thought I would seriously imagine tackling. I'm beginning to believe that current medical science doesn't have all the answers at the moment; that alternative diagnoses might not be so ridiculous. These are sentences I thought I'd never say or type, but when you've reached this stage of illness there's nothing you won't try.

When I realised that continuing a vegan diet in these circumstances was going to be detrimental to my health, I was disappointed. Upset. More than upset. Something more than upset, which my nutrient-deficient brain can't think of a word for. I love lentils! I love butter beans! I love chickpeas!!

But what I need is calories, and fat, and vital nutrients and minerals. And I likely need to repair whatever is wrong with my internal organs. I can't subsist on peanut butter, crackers, porridge and lentil soups for long (I've tried).

This all means my food bills are going to increase. And my meat consumption is going to quadruple, quintuple, sextuple, septuple... I've accepted that. It took a while, because I'm a penny-saving, stingy, environmentally conscious Scrooge, but my health and wellbeing needs to be my number one priority (which is great because I'll soon be working 7 days and 3 evenings a week! nothing bad can possibly come of that!).

I hope by the end of 2018 I can say that I'm on the road to recovery.

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This was something a bit different, but I needed to mention it. It might be something I return to later as I try to get to grips with getting my health back on track - if there's anything you'd like to know more about, let me know.

I hope you've had a good week. Until next time, please remember to speak and think kind words to yourself and to others~

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

monthly budget: march 2018

March was cold! I struggled through snow, went on holiday, struggled through more snow, developed a bunch of new food intolerances, had a very busy week at work, and had some great news (more on that at the end of the post).

But we're all here to talk about money, so let's just get that over with:

OK, now time to pick it all apart:

Babysitting - This wasn't a total right-off as I'd expected.... but only because the Easter school holidays are in April, so that's going to be a slow month instead!

Other - Sold some stuff on ebay! And there's no better way to spend a rainy Bank Holiday weekend than clearing out cupboards (or so I keep telling myself) so hopefully there will be more sales soon! I also did a bit of cleaning this month, which brought in a few £££!

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Bus pass - This is high because I paid for a weekly pass last month, as I went on holiday for a while, and then bought a monthly pass which will last until the third week of April. I remembered seconds before we left for the mountains of Wales that I hadn't ordered my pass - I've said before that I really need to set a reminder, as this is something that makes me so anxious yet always slips my mind!

Groceries - How, oh how did I spend this much?! This was mindless. I really need to go to shops with my budget in mind, but I usually end up adding it all up at the end of the month, rather than as I go along. I'm having to abandon my vegan diet for the sake of my health (more on that soon) so this sort of spend is going to be more frequent, unfortunately.

Other expenses

  • I had a haircut (usually I go ~3 months between cuts, but with a shorter style I'm either going to have to make that more regular or just let it get reeeaaally shaggy) which was £14. And my hairdresser is lovely, has been cutting my hair since I was a tot, and comes to my home - so this is an expense I'll happily pay!
  • The other £5.10.... that was a silly expense. At the start of the month it snowed big time, and was -10C for days. I camped out at my parents' home but at the start of the storm I'd forgotten to set my central heating and was worried about burst pipes. I paid for a bus ticket so my mum could join me trekking through the snowstorm to get to my flat and save my pipes. It was certainly an adventure!
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And finally the good great news! I've been offered a weekend job in retail - which is great for my finances but not great for my free time (11-5 Saturdays and 11-4 Sundays, ouch). It will mean I'm working 7 days a week, plus 3 evenings, which is a lot - even for someone in good health, ha! I'm starting mid-April and will give it a few months. Who knows, perhaps I'll throw in the towel sooner, but hopefully I can stick it out for a while.

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That's it for the month. I'm not 100% sure if I'll continue with this series - it's interesting for me to delve into my monthly earning and spending data, but perhaps not the most exciting to read ;) I live a pretty boring, unchanging life, so there's rarely anything new to say! Until next time, please remember to speak and think kind words to yourself and to others.

Was March a good month or a not-so-good month for your budget?

Sunday, 1 April 2018

what i read: march 2018

This month has seemed loooong and very very short all at once. Maybe it's because I've tackled two pretty hefty books this month (one of which is unfinished), or maybe it's because I went on holiday, or maybe it's because winter is dragging its heels and still hasn't left us. Grumble grumble...

You may have noticed that the name of this little blog of mine has changed! The Frugal Bookworm now fits me and my life much more than The Tawpie Kid (which I created in 2014 when I really was 'tawpie'). As I don't have a stable internet connection the graphics and descriptions will be replaced.... when I'm not busy hustling or reading in a wifi free zone!

On with the show....!

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The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

Uh no. I knew this book would be tough to read - the subject matter and plot is no secret - but man, the writing? That didn't help. At times I was very ready to give up with it, I didn't feel much emotional attachment and it just... drifted. Parts were disturbing, but handled poorly. Still unsure why so many people sung praises for this one.

I think I gave this 2 stars, which was generous. In the end I was so glad it was over.

The Emperor Waltz - Philip Hensher

Now this was interesting. In parts. (I'm too critical this month!) If I could have had an entire novel devoted to Duncan and Arthur and Dommie and Celia.... that would be my wish. The other sections? I didn't feel as much attachment to them - certainly there were pages in the Bauhaus sections that I just skim-read. I did like the chapter featuring the teenagers taking poppers whilst their middle class parents talk over (middle class) drinks downstairs. That was funny.

The overarching theme of the book wasn't too painfully obvious, which I appreciated. Like Cloud Atlas, this required some thought: I then found connections in objects, phrases, and thoughts. Outsiders, forging their way in the world, making small changes in a world of prejudice and oppression. Other characters don't make any changes at all, eh.

The dialogue was incredibly natural. We never say all the words which would be written in dialogue. Even now, I wouldn't be saying all these full sentences if I was talking to you with a cup of tea. Hensher really impressed me with that, and the slang and idioms added a real richness.

But I really just loved Arthur. Probably the only character with recognisable character development. Also he loves books. What a keeper. 3/5 stars, but if it had been all the Duncan storyline, it would've been 4 for sure.

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In terms of monthly habits, you may remember that my new habits for March were supposedly:
  • stretch daily
  • meditate at least 3 times per week
  • no phone in bed when I should be winding down for sleep!
Did these happen? At all? Nope. The best I came was stretching maybe a few times, for about 3 minutes total, in the entire month. Oops. So I'll be carrying them over into April. And hanging my head in shame.

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I hope you've had a wonderful month of reading! If you have an book recommendations.... maybe move along and don't mention them, having assessed my To Be Read shelf (kidding! I love books! Tell me all about the books!)

Until next time, please remember to speak and think kind words to yourself and to others, and share a book rec or two with a friend this week~

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

a name change!

Today, instead of the regular scheduled post, I have some blog-keeping news:

Introducing... The Frugal Bookworm.

Because basically all I write/think/talk about these days can be categorised into books and reading, and frugality and money ;)

When I created this blog in summer 2014, I stumbled around for a bit and came up with The Tawpie Kid without much thought. Which is actually really fitting, as the definition of 'tawpie' is:
chiefly Scotland; a foolish or awkward young person
Now, though, I've grown up and grown into a lifestyle that's very different. So this place deserves a name to reflect that.

Slowly over the spring of 2018 I'll be rebranding my instagram (and twitter?) to match, but until then all the links will be a bit dodgy. (If something directs you to a site starting, replace that with!)

I'm excited for this next chapter!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

figuring out my priorities one mistake at a time

It snowed in March. Like, quite a lot. And it was quite cold. Like, quite a lot. Like the fake-adult that I am, I gave my keys to a neighbour, setting the heating on the lowest setting possible, decamped to my parents', and waited it out.

And when it had stopped snowing and started to thaw, only then did I go outside: I went for lots of walks. Including this one, in which I got a bit lost in the woods with no map, and then my phone died because it was so cold:

Looks peaceful, right? Bird song the only noise to break up the eerie, muffled silence that comes with snow? Not a human within shouting distance? (remember, I had no map and only footsteps to follow)

Um, wrong. Despite the isolation, the sound from the main road 4 miles away somehow travels over the hill and through the thick trees and found its way into my ear, and thus somewhat ruined my mood. Because I hate traffic. I don't much like people! Generally, civilisation isn't my favourite thing. I like true, complete, utter solitude, which.... is not something that can be found here.

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Wait, I just bought a home here. Now's really not the time to realise I don't want to live here.

Well, no. That's true. But I made this move knowing it was not my 'forever home', by any stretch of the imagination. My forever home will have a green wooden front door with a polished brass knocker, for a start. (I'm joking. But also not really joking).

(There are lots of things I want in my forever home (or rather, my 'more permanent adult home'). Things like a porch, a utility room, a second bedroom, a garden big enough for a veg patch, off-road parking, a loft for storage, light!, a woodburner or fireplace, gas supply....

And then the silly things, like a green front door, because my heart is young and whimsical.)

So while this isn't my forever home, it is an opportunity to figure out what I want in life. Renting taught me that I really reeeaally didn't want to rent any longer - so I saved and became a home mortgage owner. Having a home is revealing where my priorities currently lie: whilst I'm not bothered about an operational oven, having a bathroom that doesn't make me shudder every time I take a shower is important. Likewise, the traffic doesn't upset me too much (unlike living next to a major railway whilst there were major works every night, midnight-5am for weeks) but having the peace and tranquillity of nature is important.

And apparently, living in a small town surrounded by countryside isn't enough. My heart wants unblemished countryside; fells and mountains and moorland and no traffic please and thank you.

Which is perfect timing, because I'm hiking in Wales this upcoming week! (What would I do without scheduled posts?!) Ah, mid-Wales, my ultimate retirement spot.

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I'm doing a lot of figuring-out right now. It's exciting! And a bit demoralising. And, frankly, very scary. I've made a tonne of decisions in the past couple of years that I maybe wouldn't have if I'd had the time and space to tread water for a bit and just think. But being unhappy or unsatisfied has prompted me to reflect on things, which is maybe just as good.

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I hope you've had a great week. What with being caked in mud and without an internet connection, there'll be no new posts (plural!! I'm posting on Wednesdays now too and I'm not sure how long it'll last but it's certainly exercising my ol' brain!) this week, but I'm looking forward to delving into more of this topic in April!

Until next time, please remember to speak and think kind words to yourself and to others, and remember that every decision, mistake, or event offers something to learn (I bought a flat and am determined not to berate myself for it) ~