Chronically Me #7: Procrastinating

It’s been a while friends. The reason: procrastination. But not the laugh it off I’ll get to it kind of procrastination. The kind of procrastination that is constant and unproductive keeping me up to the small hours of the morning, as I have completely lost track on what time actually is, to pass out for a few hours, only to wake up, work and be too tired to do anything vaguely productive again. Honestly this has got me pretty down.

Well I am not going to lie here and mope. First I’m going to write this blog post and start my action plan of Procrasta-no-more.

The Problems

Screens, Games and my Phone.

I didn’t think I played too many video games on my laptop, but the games I do play normally take like an hour or two to be satisfied with any progress in them. App store games are completely pointless and mind numbing, and these become hella addictive. I do enjoy letting off steam by playing some games, especially when I can play online with friends in a weird hang-out MMORPG way or just by killing zombies with each other. Recently I checked my phone screen time and I do spend an abnormal amount of hours on these terrible phone games when I could be reading or writing, or just anything else really.

Step one.
Delete the useless phone games and hone down my laptop library of games. Don’t even think of playing games after 10pm.

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Social Media

I honestly would delete Facebook if it wasn’t a mode of communication to my friends and family overseas. When browsing my internet history and phone screen time in research for this post, I noticed that Facebook isn’t the main offending social media here. To my suprise, Instagram is the main offender. In the month of August I spent a total of 65 hours looking at Instagram on my phone. That’s 30 hours more than how long I stared at Facebook on my phone. Other offenders in August also include VSCO and Youtube, two platforms I hardly ever post on. Quite honestly this needs to end as most of the time these online platforms make me sad as people are doing so much and I’m lying like a blobfish on my devices wishing I could be cool like that. AND I CAN BE!!

Step two.
Delete the apps I don’t use and add timers onto my screen time use to limit my screen usage. Also hide my phone during the day to avoid falling into the social media pit of despair.

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Netflix and alike

I’m sorry it has come to this my dear friend Netflix, but the binging has got to go. There is nothing I am gaining or learning by watching hours on end of TV episodes and movies. Stand up comedy is supposed to make you laugh and smile, and I am lying here emotionless and unmoving. For background noise while I declutter, Netflix, I can live with, but I am currently a blobfish out of water, pretty melty and sad, and binging TV shows is just adding to my fervent sadness, by distracting me for literal hours on end. I say just one more episode and it is already 3am, bringing my bed time close to my getting up time. It is not healthy. It needs to stop.

Step three.
Only watch the shows I am watching with my S.O. If its 10pm, don’t start another show. If I have things to do, listen to a podcast instead that might give me some good learning.

Conclusion?

The proof is in the pudding they say, and hopefully this will end my pudding-like phase of procrastination. If this whole bonanza works, then fingers crossed I’ll be happier and healthier with more energy. No one likes a negative friend, so let’s channel the Swiss flag from now on. (as thats a big plus.)

 

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Thanks for reading and stay productive!

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photos:
 Lisa Fotios from Pexels
Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

Chronically Me #6: I Had Knee Surgery!

Happy Summer everyone! It has been quite some time since my last post, many apologies to my avid followers, but here is the reason why… I had a total knee replacement. At 24. So before you ask any questions, here is a little (long post) on the why, what, where and who of getting my knee replaced.

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Prelude

Let’s go back to the Summer of 2018. The weather is in the 30s (celcius), the sun is shining, the humidity could suffocate a small dog; you get the picture. I am living my best life, working full time, drinking blue wine on my balcony and just having a great time with my friends. Enter my arthritis. My left leg hasn’t always been the problem child on the leg department, my right knee always being the more swollen boy, so colour me surprised when my left knee cap subluxes (dislocates a little bit). Now I don’t notice this usual behaviour of my knees, but my co-workers do, especially when the kneecap is on adventure to the side of my leg. So of course, I sort it out, put it back in place and don’t make too much of a fuss as well, this thing happens. However, later on it does swell up to a very uncomfortable and painful size, and I go to the Emergency to get it drained. Here they tell me that I may have strained it a bit by it going on holiday without permission and that I should just be careful the next few days. Things are fine. Things are basically back to normal. Until about a week later and I’m unable to move and screaming in agony.

Now I’m not 100% sure what happened the next two days as I was very out of it on very strong painkillers and asleep. But it turns out I had somehow gone into septic shock with sepsis in my knee joint. I spent just over a week in the hospital with IV antibiotics and the works until I was able to walk again and not be in grevious amounts of pain. Thanks to all my friends who visited me and made my stay 100 times better! The ward I was staying on had an average age of around 65 so being around my younger peers definitely made me feel less sick. During this crazy week, my left leg sort of withered away and I lost maybe 6-kg of muscle weight in it. And lost the meniscus and remaining cartilage in my knee.

The following months I was normal arthritis me, just wandering around, working and recovering. Until November-ish when my knee started to get bad again. By Christmas time, I returned to the hospital as I had some trouble walking and sharp pain in my left leg. After many scans, x-rays and a midnight MRI (love those machines…) turns out I had a fracture down my shin. But as it was still in the right spot and my leg muscles were pathetic, they didn’t want to operate on it or brace it up. I was referred to the orthopedic surgeons and they looked at my knee with a lot of concern. If I was a normal human without RA they would have operated on it to give me a knee replacement, but due to the RA, they decided to refer me to an expert to decide the fate. So in February 2019, I was scheduled to have a total knee replacement. My surgeon explained everything in detail and is a real chill guy, told me he had done the procedure hundreds of time and that I’d be totally fine. And he was 100% correct.

Preparation

Wait a few months and I don’t hear a lot, and I was under the impression my surgery would take place in late July or August. However, the beginning of May I received a call that told me surgery was 4th June. Begin the copious amounts of phone calls for very very last minute appointments, to see a doctor to explain the process, a counsellor to make sure my mind was alright with this, a physio to talk through the exercises, a classroom to explain how to prepare myself and lastly a pre-operation appointment to do blood work and talk about the procedure with at least 3 different doctors and nurses. I didn’t miss a single appointment, but I did show up a day early to one which did suck as it was a 7am appointment. Mood: Frazzled.

All the appointments I had leading up to it, the main comments I had were, are you with your mum? or You’re too young for knee surgery! Very awkward for me, but I can’t complain as I now I have a new knee!

As far as Rheumatoid Arthritis goes with knee surgery, you are asked to stopped certain medications before the surgery and then resume them 2 weeks after surgery, so be prepared for flares and bad days. For this I stocked up on a lot of food, and made a list of books, movies and things I wanted to do while I was recovering.

Surgery

Surgery itself took around 2 hours 45 minutes, and had no complications. I opted for a spinal anesthetic, meaning my legs were frozen throughout the procedure, and I would wake up with temporary paralysis from my waist down. I didn’t realise this meant inside and outside, as I definitely could not feel my bladder, which is hilarious as I had no idea if I needed to pee, and had no idea how to pee. Of course this meant I did pee myself, which was not as embarrassing as I thought it would be, and laughed so much more that it happened again… Too much information maybe?
Before the surgery actually happened I met a team of anesthesiologists who inserted a local catheter into my leg, to freeze the knee after the surgery, and also to prep me with oxygen, the good happy juice and then in the operation theatre, the spinal. I met so many people before the operation who just wanted to say hi, they would be operating on my today and getting me my new knee. And everyone was way too enthusiastic for fentanol-infused me who just dribbled in response.
After the operation I woke up in the theatre very very groggy, but clear headed and very gosh darn cold. It did take a good hour for me to return to normal 37 degrees temperature as I did dip down to a chilly 36 during the operation. Now this hospital has these amazing air bubble wrap heated blankets that warm your soul. I would love to have one of these for home as my days this felt like I was in a nice cup of tea. Maybe that was the anaesthetic wearing off, but it was amazing.

Anyway, I only spent one night in hospital and the next day was discharged for good behaviour. In other words, I passed the physio test of movement and really wanted to go home to see my cat. And yes, I was up and walking and tackling stairs the day after surgery, which is pretty wild!

It has been a week now, physio is going great and my healing process is smooth sailing! The incision is about 12cm long down my knee cap and I have 33 staples holding it back together. So hopefully next week these will come out and my physio classes will start to get me back to human status. Until then, its slow walks, slow physio and lots of petting of my fat cat.

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Side note: stock images of knees are a complete riot to go through, so if you are ever bored… stock images of knees and also looking up names of towns in NewFoundland…

Thanks for the read, any questions I am very happy to answer & Have a Great Day!

 

Why I Envy A Myth (Relationships)

Oh boy, a dating post. I am in no ways a dating blogger, or  someone who reads a lot about relationships. This post therefore may seem like a non-conventional dating blog post. If you want to see a really good dating blog though; hit up http://evegreenow.com

Also I’m 24 now so it may be time to actually try and figure out what that life stuff is really about.

(Although I may just take Douglas Adam’s advice here “The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied.”)

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DISCLAIMERS:

 * Let’s begin with saying that I’m not going to reference any single relationship I have had. I had an ex that wrote a derogatory post on a university blogging site about his ex’s and what they thought about him and the way he went about it. Well lets just say he put us all in a group chat and asked us to say what we thought of him in the group chat. As you can imagine it did not turn out well as he did cheat on every single one of us with someone in said group chat. Not cool or clever. 

I am also not saying that ALL men are toxic. I know women are just as bad (cough Cardi B) so if you feel that some of these aspects apply to women too, I totally understand that as well.

Like most people, I feel like I have had a cocktail of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to relationships. Some ended well, some not so much, but with each one I have learnt something at least. But this post isn’t here to razz on my bad relationships, it’s merely commentary on 21st century dating, and why is sucks…. SoooOoo bare with me friends (please) as this may get weird… *

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Let’s backtrack society a little bit. Back to the Ancient Greeks.

Helen of Troy. I’m sure the majority of people reading this have heard about her; whether it’s from Greek mythology, reading the tomes of the Odyssey and the Iliad, or whether it is by watching the numerous films and tv series about her. (We won’t even start on the movie Troy as I have so much to say… Brad. Pitt.)

If you haven’t heard of her, here is my quick synopsis of her myth:

Now, Helen was supposedly the most beautiful woman in the known world. So much so that she was kidnapped by Theseus, the King of Athens, then rescued by her brothers Pollux and Castor to be married to the King of Sparta, but oh it doesn’t end there.  She was then awarded to Paris of Troy by Aphrodite, which led to a war between Sparta and Troy lasting for years. Some say this war is the reason for the saying that she had “the face that launched a thousand ships.” And with all mythology there’s some strange origins, and shapeshifting and questionable bestiality between Leda, Helen’s mother and Zeus in swan form, but that’s not something I’m willing to dwell upon.

Without knowing the full myth behind Helen, the saying that a woman has a face that could “launch a thousand ships” – can have several connotations here. Thinking about this after reading the Odyssey and the Iliad, much to my father’s delight, I came to my own conclusion about ancient Grecian beauty standards. Either, dearest Helen had a face so repulsive men couldn’t stop themselves from fleeing from her; meaning that this repulsion could indeed mean beauty – Or it is a siren’s song in the form of a face. A twitch of radiant a smile so insatiable, it would make men go on arduous quests to slay gorgons, and retrieve shiny sheep to show loyalty and affection.

Back to the dating. (not even dating)

Where does Helen of Troy fit into my dating life? Well the first people to call me beautiful I happened to believe that they were perfect for me. Oh dear, was I so wrong. as a tenneager, I was not the smartest. Definitely naive, so I was terrible at dating and relationships. (For the good people that dated me that I just messed up being the mess I was: I am sorry, it wasn’t you. The bad people. I won’t even say what I am thinking.)

Plot twist. This isn’t 500 B.C. anymore…

Now as a better, not-as-messy-human, if someone told me that my face could launch a thousand ships I would probably laugh at them*. Romance like that is dead. No one is going to fall hand over foot to get the reciprocated affection. Long gone are the days when people would go on grand adventures or make grand gestures to show their love**. Somewhat tragic really. Yet, also quite relieving as I don’t think I could deal with that nonsense anyway.

The way dating works today, especially how it’s evolved so quickly in the last century, is quite frankly frightening. The invention of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble (I’m not even going to start about snapchat.), hath cometh the rise of random hookups with strangers. A main consequence of this is the changed attitude of dating. Normalisation of one night stands doesn’t hold a light for the hopeless romantic, or give a majority of women my age any respect in dating. receiving messages that say “DTF” is not what I or any girl want, even if we do choose to be on a dating app.

You would think that with the progress of society, there would be the same level of respect in dating. We now recognise that women are people too, after all this time (surprise). And thankfully kidnapping is not the best way to win a woman’s heart – Yet, this progress does not boast total positivity in the light of the dating case unfortunately. Some men are still acting that it is indeed their god-given right to have whatever they choose. (Not just in the dating sphere. (Hollywood Imma looking at you)). It may not be a necessarily to a “Theseus” situation by means of kidnapping the “Helen” in question; but dragging the girl away from her friends in the club, following them home or surreptitiously sending them inappropriate messages does seem to be the 21st century answer to the Theseus/Helen debacle. But in the original at least Theseus was a king. Nowadays you won’t be so lucky. (Unless you receive that email from a Nigerian Prince).

The main issue with this behaviour is the retaliation. I have had my fair share of awful nights out where I have been physically grabbed by men to dance with them even though I resist and say no. They are relentless. And I didn’t realise how much of a struggle I put up until the next morning and saw my arms were bruised where the man was grabbing me. Saying No doesn’t mean No apparently. It is a gateway for the person to just insult and berate you. Saying No does not make you a whore, so don’t call us that.

At this rate women can never be free from the trash floating around in the sea full of “fish”.

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Now a positive bit:
I have had some really good dates with people via dating apps, and also made a few friends on the way. Not everyone on there is out to get you which is nice, but you do have to go through a lot of filth and trash to get the better stuff. I know many people who have also found love on these apps and now have families, so they can’t all be that bad?

Maybe I just need to be kidnapped….

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The *****s

*It has happened though and I did laugh. Well not the exact words but along those lines

**On that note however, it must have been so easy back then to just ignore someone.then No fast transport or instant messaging. Simple way to get someone to go away would suggest they needed to show their love by going on a crusade for months or maybe years. 

Normal Canadian Things I find Weird #4

Tis 2019. Tis back.
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Normal Canadian Things I find Weird #4: The Right is right.

Let me explain this a bit better, as it may be more proficient to title this piece, Normal Canadian things only British people and some old British influenced countries, as the rest of the world agrees with Canada on this one… As it is to do with behaviour in the non political sense.

Roadways

Back in November 2017 I got my Canadian driving license. As a U.K. citizen all I had to do is go down to a drive test centre with my license. Here they get you to sign some forms, take a quick eye test, take your mugshot and then you pay $90 for a beautiful new driving license. And well. I look like a murderous potato in my picture.

It seems fair that I didn’t have to take a test or anything as I’ve held my license since 2013 and I like to think I’m a safe driver…. and I have never had any points on my license. Just a plethora of parking tickets. ( I’m sorry parents it won’t happen again). BUT… in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we drive on the left-hand side of the road. I would love to say we are the original drivers and therefore left is best but it seems to just be a tradition we have carried since the 11th century. Typical Britain stuck in it’s old road time ways amirite or amirite?

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Back yonder centuries ago, the passing of left to left was a self preservation thing.  Most travellers were right-handed and scabbarded their swords on the left. Around the time of 11th century, people were not necessarily friendly to strangers. During this time, England was constantly warring between houses, as well as constantly being invaded by the Danish and Normans. This meant when passing a stranger in these feudal societies, you could easily defend or attack a passerby as well as not whacking anyone with the scabbard. Makes sense for 1000 years ago… why does Britain continue this tradition did when 65% of the world did not?

Fast-forward around 600 years to the 17th/18th century. Here we have the expanding european empires, and with them their expanding economics. In America in particular, mass farming meant that transporting goods needed to be bigger and better. Hauling large quantities of product meant larger wagons, and with larger wagons, larger teams of horses. naturally when driving horses you want to be able to control them by flashing to the left, meaning the driver sits to the left on the horses. To prevent clashes with other wagons the drift of driving on the left to the right began.

European right-side drivers began around the same time in Russia. As Russia had grand relations with the other country’s high societies, when driving on the right became official in the 1750s, other countries such as France followed suite. The rest of mainland Europe can be blamed on Napoleon. Conquering nations such as Belgium, Netherlands and Germany  meant implementing laws, including the right side driving principle.

Britain driving on the left naturally meant the majority of her colonies also drive on the left, including that of Malta, Australia and South Africa being countries that choose the left. Japan however has its own reasons of driving on the left, nothing to do with Britain, but kept their 17th century tradition to today.

 

So why is it weird?

I am completely used to the left. I grew up with the London Underground etiquette of sticking the left. I learnt how to drive on the left hand side of the road. Driving and walking means to the left. It is common knowledge that you keep to the left in the UK, but not in Canada. Walking on the left is outright Anarchy. I have walked into at least 40 people due to my unconcious leftness. Walking up stairs I have received so many dirty looks as I took the left hand staircase. Completely bemused by this I have tried to change my ways.

After being in the Canada for over a year now I am used to the whole right side of the road driving malarky, being in the passenger seat of a car is no longer as traumatic. But walking on the right has been a mental strain for me.

Back when I was driving in Europe, I’m looking at you France, I did find it very difficult to get used to driving on the WRONG side of the road. So many times I ended up just sticking left… normally no one was about. I hope. I had to make a mental checklist when taking turns to make sure I didn’t turn and just end up defaulting to the left lane. And Roundabouts. I won’t go there. I’m sure I am not the only awful Brit who has terrorised the roadways of the continent and I won’t be the last either.

Anyway… Now I am consciously aware of the left and right flow of travel I can’t unthink it so I find myself panicking when I’m just walking along the sidewalk minding my own business and drifting to the left. There normally is not anyone around to see my blind panic of moving back over to the right…

It’s not until I got to Canada, I understood the rage of walkers. Now, I am not a fast walker, and having only one functioning leg may have something to do with that, but I am not the slowest walker either. The amount of pavement/sidewalk rage I have received from people in Ottawa is simply bewildering. People walking side by side would rather stick at my pace and make passive aggressive remarks than overtake me. I have to physically move myself out of their path for them to walk past me. Totally not necessary and quite rude to be honest. Then again it may just be a British thing to wander at my own pace…

So maybe this is not that weird really but I just made it weird. 10/10 me.

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Thanks for reading and stay warm!

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Chronically Me #5: How Perfectionism caused my OCD

I know I haven’t been an active blogger recently and there has been a big reason why. And I am going to share it, as I feel like it’s something other people have faced or are facing. This has been one of the hardest posts I have written and rewritten; please be nice and sorry for my absence!

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Perfectionism.

The ability to not accept a standard less than perfection.

A personality trait that is often characterized by a person’s strive for flawlessness. Along with the setting of high performance standards and often accompanied by highly critical self-evaluations.

The ultimate problem with perfection is that no matter how hard you try, 9 times out of 10 It is completely unobtainable. True, you can be the best at something, but that does not equate to perfection. So, having any issue with perfectionism ultimately creates the paradox of striving to be perfect but in doing so you become imperfect.

I was diagnosed with Perfectionism and OCD in my final year of university. At first, I did not take it that seriously; until I developed anxiety like symptoms and subsequently developed habits to try and counter them.

“Perfection is the enemy of the good”
– Voltaire

The Lead Up

Before all this happened, I did have trouble with my self-esteem and confidence, as a consequence for being horrendously ill with a plethora of infections. I don’t want to delve into the heavy details on it now as it’s a good few months of my life I wish to forget, but the illnesses lead to some pretty nasty scars that I still have two years on. Over the summer of 2016 when this happened, I also struggled with trying to make myself less of the ill mess that I was and back to some form of attractiveness – something that is so stupid now I reflect on it. One of my main forms of income was with a Brand Ambassador company, I won’t mention the name, that were meticulous about appearance. The uniform included red lipstick, perfect hair, manicured nails and at least 2-inch heels. I was informed that as I did not upkeep my blonde hair regularly, I would have trouble finding gigs with them when I had roots showing, so I dyed my hair brunette. The jobs were not fantastic, it was mainly standing outside stores handing out flyers and encouraging customers to come into the store. But it paid very well for what it was, and quite frankly that summer I needed the money.

This was not the first not good enough feedback I got that summer. I was constantly reminded of this every time I caught my reflection. This took a negative turn on my opinion of myself, especially my appearance. When I had my blonde hair I had more confidence with myself and who I was, after being so very sick; so embracing the brunette change did not happen easily. Along with this change I convinced myself I needed to lose a lot of weight as I started to see myself as a fat dumpy girl with boring brown hair. No one would want that. I did start to miss days of eating and when I did eat it was once a day. I replaced food with coffee, anxiety for exhaustion day in day out. I started to sleep for only a few hours and night and wake up every day at 5am full of anxious energy. It was not good. I hit my lowest weight and dress size that summer, being 114lbs (52kg).

You can imagine my self-esteem and self-confidence was shattered. 

 

Returning to Uni

I had to make the decision of going back to university to complete my degree, or abandon it completely. At this point, I was already £40,000 in debt to student loans, most of my peers had graduated and I had no faith in myself.  I would be going back completely fresh. It sounds awesome now I look back at it, but unfortunately back then, I saw it that I was a failure in comparison to my peers. I would be the laughing stock for taking extra time to get that little piece of paper. I would be alone.

Registering to continue my studies meant I had to go with all the new first years to the main hall to manually register my courses and attendance. Something that I was definitely not ready for. I remember being so anxious that I ran up and down the stairs in the Arts Centre twelve times before going and registering. But I did it and I was going back to study.

Luckily, due to my involvement in clubs and societies, I did know a few people still knocking about at university, and actually made friends. I started to worry about having anxiety when I started to stop making myself run upstairs twelve times or clapping each hand twelve times. I caught myself doing it when in lectures when I missed something or during archery practise when I forgot part of my form. It was not the greatest of moments for me.

This vice was not sufficient for my written work. I found myself rewriting paragraphs in essay’s multiple times, and this perfection notion grew and grew until I just deleted the whole essay and started from scratch. Over and over. This would add hours onto my library sessions taking them to the small hours of the morning. I was overworking myself to the point I made myself have a sit-down talk to my personal tutor. I told him about the rewriting and the anxiety and I was referred to a university counsellor and was made to see a doctor.

“Imperfection and perfection go so hand in hand, and our dark and our light are so intertwined, that by trying to push the darkness or the so-called negative aspects of our life to the side… we are preventing ourselves from the fullness of life.”
– Jeff Bridges

Counselling

People say that talking is the best therapy, and I concur with this, just not with my first counsellor. The doctor I initially saw before Counsellor No.1 offered me medication for anxiety, in which I refused as I didn’t want to be taking any more pills. The doctor diagnosed me with a perfectionism-based OCD and referred me to No.1. Before this, I have had no interaction of experience with counselling, but was definitely not ready for the first few sessions. The very first thing the counsellor said to me, after knowing had issues with perfectionism and my image, was “You can never be perfect”. That was that. I disregarded everything he said afterwards as he clearly did not understand. He also asked weird questions about my family that had no relevance to the matter at hand which gave me good reason to just stop the counselling right there.
Instead I saw a counsellor from the university who got me to talk about situations that made me anxious and just confront them without using my vices and see what happened. Seemed completely insane to me. How can I just walk into a building I’ve never been to before without counting to 12 in my head? The craziest of notions, but I started doing that and also taking elevators to avoid the whole running up and down stairs issue. After a while it got a bit better, until I had an incident with my roommate. (Another topic that I will write about in a different blog post). I rewrote the 14000 words 12 times. But that has been the last thing I’ve rewritten 12 times.

Counselling didn’t help with the concept of my body image now that was something I needed to fix on my own accord and not by over or under eating. (Again thats something I will cover more on in a different post.)

 

The Positives

Not everything about the perfectionism was doom and gloom and here’s a quick summary of the best bits:

  • I got some of my best marks
  • Archery PBs were constantly broken
  • I cared less about my appearance *
  • Cleaning and organisation are arguably on point
  • Anxiety changed to confidence through perseverance
  • I moved country!
  • I can work in guest services everyday and not flounder

*I say this as a positive, but I did go up to 178lbs… so maybe too less caring.

 

 And now?

Well it’s now been almost 2 years that I was told of my perfectionism and OCD, and well some things are better. I don’t do the stair thing nearly as much and can happily go into new buildings without hesitation. Of course some days are worse than others. That is just how the cookie crumbles for me.

 

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Wow that was really hard to write as I have not told many people about this or the diagnosis and said it was anxiety as that seems to be more prevalent and accepted in society. Having perfectionism is a positive curse for me as it has led me to flourish and achieve my dreams while counting to twelve alot….

Please feel free to comment, like share or even ask me anything about this. I’m putting myself out there so you don’t have to.

 

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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #3

And so the saga continues. After being introduced to various aspects of coffee in Europe, see back to my Café and the Continent Post, I thought it may be good to share my thoughts on the Canada Coffee culture as its certainly…. different.
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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #3 Canadian Coffee Culture

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So I can not say Briony anymore when it comes to ordering coffee at starbucks as no one can spell it so I go for Molly. Which isn’t always heard right…

Ordering Coffee – The Fast Food Coffee

(Not sure if this is just an anxiously awkward me thing or something others have faced as fearful foreigners.) 

Ordering coffee is a simple transaction. This statement has been challenging to me for a few months of being in Canada. Some uniquely Canadian thing, you can not escape from is the Double Double. What is a Double Double? It happens to be a coffee served with 2 cream and 2 sugar. Logical, if you understand the ordering system in this country. I wondered for a while why people would perpetually give me the funny look when I just wanted coffee.

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What I did not know is that in most places in Canada that do the coffee put the milk or cream and sugar in while they make it for you. This is madness. As someone who is used to getting the coffee and faffing about with sugar packets its completely mind blowing. More words to say at the cashier?! Outrageous. 
However, I understand the reasoning behind the order the sugar and milk; it does save the individual the faffing time… yet it is still a concept I need to get used to. And admittedly it does stop the days where you accidentally pour the sugar in the bin, and the paper into your coffee. This does happen more often than I would like to admit…

Roll Up the Rim Season

I mentioned this briefly in my previous post and I don’t understand the hype behind it. It’s all about the chance of winning – winning a doughnut, a coffee of a Honda Civic on a years lease. As I don’t understand it I asked my Canadian friends their thoughts…

“Roll up the rim is a Canadian classic, a Canadian pass time and overall a gamble to begin your day. Even though the coffee may be anywhere from weak coffee like water to week old cigarette butts juice the gamble of getting another coffee or pastry keeps us going.” – Mirre

I am like the wrong person to ask haha I hate Tim Horton’s! Even when I go and its roll up the rim I still get cold drinks. But I think people like it because it is cheap and good (I guess). And People love Roll up cause its like the chance to win on something you would probably buy anyway. It’s like if tampons came with a prize people would be like – This makes buying these more enjoyable hahaha – Maggie

I tried this phenomenon and did not win anything. Plus the whole concept of rim rolling is confusing and not easy to do if you haven’t heard of it before. Where is this hidden message? How do I unravel the secrets of the cup? One should not overthink these things.

The Rival $1 Coffee

So what I noticed while this whole rolling rim shenanigans is going on, across the road in McDonalds, there is a $1 coffee promotion. Coffee for $1. Thats basically 55p. Why would you go in for a roll lot of disappointment when you can have a large $1 coffee that actually tastes nice? Additionally you can collect the stickers on the cups so when the season is over you have copious amounts of free coffee. Thats a win win situation!

Cafeteria Coffee

I’m not sure if this is just an Algonquin College thing, but it kinda blew my mind. So there is a large variety of flavoured coffee. Not like vanilla lattes and caramel macchiatos… Nay, as in its flavoured coffee beans and that is something I’m not used to seeing regularly. I’m sure it exists elsewhere in the world but not as open as this.

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Some fancy coffee art from Bridgehead

*And finally*

French Vanilla

Why do we not have this back in the UK; and when we can get it, why is it so expensive?! I don’t know exactly what is in french vanilla, except for the vanilla of course, but it is pretty much a hot drink that rivals the godly status of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. I suggest to anyone who like sweet things to go out of their way to try french vanilla as they will not be disappointed.

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I am an avid coffee drinker, and these weird Canadian coffee credentials seem to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable so I don’t think I can complain too much!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the nice weather before 6th winter comes!

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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #1

Seriously been struggling with a writing block currently so forgive the ranty quality of the post!
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It’s now approaching the 6 months of living in Ottawa and I’ve started to get used to the vocabulary and the way things go but there are still things that continuously catch me off guard. I was initially planning on writing out one long blog post but I feel that some of the things that perturb me so need a whole post to themselves.

Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #1 – Toilets

AKA the Washroom. It feels wrong referring to it as anything other than the washroom now. So apart from the name, there are many things about the Canadian washroom that causes the “anxiewees”.
In the UKadia, the bathrooms vary in style but the general overall toilet is a cubicle of its own accord, sometimes being a small room that silences the rest of the world, or its at least a cubicle with almost total privacy.
In France, I don’t know if others have been warned about their public bathrooms, they have what my family refer to as “suicide loos” that often are just a porcelain hole in the ground you have to kinda stand and pray you don’t slip and fall into the poop filled hell that is through the dark gaping vortex below. Hence the aptly given connotation from the family.
I’ve even encountered the weird German toilets that are designed so you basically have to look at what you’ve created before it flushes, something that deserves a whole post of its own I’m sure, but this post unfortunately is not about German toilets today.
Enter the Canadian answer to the humble washroom….

The Name.

Bathroom, Toilet, WC, I can get behind those names for the place designated to the defecation. Washroom is one I am willing to get behind IF it was specifically a place for you to wash. Alas, it is where you do the business and the only washing that happens really is of the hands. There are no showers or baths or bidets, there are sinks and toilets. If it was a washroom then there would be more than a sink. It is a sink room with bonus toilets.

The Cubicle itself.

The doors are almost always shut, regardless of its vacancy status. This leads to the awkward creeping up and pushing on the doors, and praying people know how to lock doors if they are occupied. And if it so happens to be the most awkward of encounters of the door swinging lethargically open and displaying someone who is engrossed in their business, what do you do? What do you say? (I am aware this can happen in multiple scenarios across the pond but this has happened to me the most in Canada.)

On approaching the cubicles, the first thing I notice is the vast gap between bottom of the  door and floor. You can’t see anything but feet and what’s on the floor which is nice, but you also only want to see one pair of feet in the cubicle. Thankfully I’ve not been in the awkward situation when there has been that time where more than one pair has existed in one cubicle, but you never know.
This is not my only qualm with the doors. The second is the height of the doors. A good majority of the time I am taller than the doors. And with the, sides of the cubicle. I want to say I am bordering on the tall scale at 5ft9″ish (on a good day) and many of my friends here are much the same when it comes to vertical measurements… It makes things awkward in a way that you have to keep your eyes forward at all times, just in case you somehow make eye contact at the neighbouring cubicle.
Once you make it to the stage of being in the cubicle, locking the door and then getting ready to do the thing you do, there is one last weird thing about the doors that is consistent to ALL washrooms I have encountered. The centimetre gap on either side of the door. Why is it there?! Is it to make extra sure you will make awkward eye contact in the slit of the cubicle with the people outside? Is it to make you extra anxious about doing the do? As it did (I confess) make me so incredibly aware and embarrassed about the whole public bathroom thing, for at least a couple of months.

The Cleanliness.

Usually you enter a public washroom with a disdain as you know it is going to be a mess. There’s going to be some disgusting stuff and it’s something you have to accept. Every other time I’ve used the facilities there has been a cleaner there. There is always toilet paper and it’s pretty much always clean and I’m definitely okay with that. The sinks are spotless and the soap is never out. You don’t even have to flush most of the time as most of the places I’ve been to are automatic. So spot on Canada. 10/10.

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Honestly did not believe I could write almost 1000 words on bathrooms of all topics! Thanks for sticking with me this long and I hope to get more weird rantyness out there in the near future! As always, have an excellent day!

 

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Live for the Weekend

-Short Read-

Its been a month or so now and I haven’t exactly been on the blog hype train or had any ambition to sit down and splurge some words out online. I guess this is what is known as a writers block. My first wall of not being able to articulate what I want down on paper or typed up on a document.

Well what have I been up to exactly?

Firstly, I moved continent. Very stressful, very different but overall one of the best decisions I have made. But I’m not planning on writing too much about the transition as well I may or may not have been casually deported and have a very very fast-paced post-grad program to review my stress and painfully spread it out over a 1000 word post…

But all that behind me now I can focus on my post-grad work at college and living as an independent adult in a city. The work so far is full on and I never really had that in my 4 years at Aberystwyth Uni. The 4-6 hours I had a week has been replaced to 4-6 hours a day. On a campus that is at least three times bigger than the one I was used to. So I’m now working most days 8-5 on college work and looking to add a government job into the mix. Now that I’ve typed this up I do feel like I must have lost a few screws in the flight over to Ottawa. (oh dear).

This has made me appreciate my downtime more. Nothing is quite as relaxing as being able to finish work and sit with a beer and worry about nothing. Weekends for me feel sacred. A time to relax do something different to work and do the things you love. For me this is walking, exploring or even just driving around. This last weekend I got the pleasure to go to the lake country and spend my weekend by the water and driving around. (Something I will type up better in another post).

All in all work hard, play hard and live for the weekend is the way to go.

Downsizer

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. So I made the uncanny decision to drop everything and continue education (why) and also move country (even more why). In this I have moved from Aber to Shropshire, Shropshire to rural Normandy and finally Normandy to Ottawa.

Moving is always a time to downsize, filter through the things you possess and do that thing that’s often referred to as a “spring clean.” However moving to France meant that I had to downsize to a car load. So if you know me, I know a scoff of laughter is imminent as owning stuff seems to be something I would get an A grade in. But I did it.

Then from France I had the pleasure of downsizing yet again into two 23kg suitcases and a cabin suitcase. Tears of anger, joy and despair became a main feature of this move, parting with the beloved jumpers, the materialistic brocante I’d picked up over the years and of course the metric sh*t tonne of books I had procured over the years. But I did it.

How? Just How?!

I was badgered by many people to be less materialistic and care less about things such as what I look like in terms of clothes and makeup. At first this came across as a painful thing to hear as I never really thought myself as a frivolous spender in the material dimension, but taking a step back to look at me as me. I am guilty as charged. I’d like to blame the materialistic pressures of society but name me a woman that does not like to indulge in shopping and making themselves look and feel like a queen?

This coupled with my introduction to the concept of minimalism and Hygge, made things a little bit easier. It’s not a great innovation the concept of minimalism, but it has gained a ubiquitous popularity over the past decade. With companies such as IKEA innovating small living designs and the growth of little housing, tiny apartments and smaller living spaces in general, it’s not had to see where the popularity has come from.

With my love of materialism, the transition to less stuff has led me doubting my life choice of downsizing. But having 47 jumpers and 21 pairs of jeans is not a healthy clothing relationship. Something needed to change and this was maybe a premature goodbye to my tremendous cable knit collection. Now I am quite happy and settled with my selection I still have left, and honestly I may cut down more when it comes to clothes.

I must admit after a few weeks settling into my downsized life I have never been happier or more organized. Also the cost of doing laundry has definitely decreased as I don’t actually have many clothes to wash. Successes all round…

Places to Miss

The last few years have seen me be uncharacteristically sad over summer time. Last year I was stuck in a situation I hope no one replicates, and this year, through no fault of anyone else, I have been struggling. However there is solace to my sadness. In the saddest of my feelings I have met the and lived with the best of people, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I have experienced things that have led me to be a better person. One of my very good friends invited me and plus one up to the Lake District for a grown up holiday of walks and cream tea. It was a break I very much was needing as everything seems to be accelerating at 210% when I’m only capable of 60% at the moment.

Things I learnt from my time in Aberystwyth last summer is that you can get tired of a pretty place. But only if you are there for too long. You see, for me, the landscape doesn’t change much. The sea is always the sea, albeit the green, blue or grey and the hills will always have their shape. Buildings come and go, but relatively the place is the same. I can watch the sun go down over the sea night after night, reclaim some little solace to wake up in the morning to be faced with a pretty place I am trapped in. Stepping away from it I can admire the beauty the town has to offer, as a place, a solid – rather than the people that broke the place for me. From this however I became a cynic with a pretty view. Yes the rolling hills look nice. Oh, wow. You can see for miles. Nothing became exciting. The main reason I shied away from landscape photography as there wasn’t hidden beauty.

This has all changed. Realising that I can move away and find opportunity for me elsewhere has changed everything. Triggering this of course was the aforementioned weekend away in the Northern part of the Lake District.

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I took a drive. Not an easy one, a hard one full of sharp single track hairpins and steep slopes. The views were worth it. The clouds were worth it. The iconic grey misery that sweeps Britain as the stereotype is something that I will miss. Grey, hanging mist, dreary drizzle patting against a window, while you can drink a cup of earl grey is something quintessentially I associate with my time stuck in the Great British Indoors.

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I’ll miss these treasured little places that I shared with friends. But there is always the solace that landscapes and places don’t change that much so maybe in a few years time I can come back again, revisit and revitalise this. Being a landscape cynic made me an unhappy person and that is not something I can accept.

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Heres a little vid I made