Tentative Steps Towards a Better Future

At the Wedding yesterday I decided how I wanted to live my life going forward.

I want to ‘Let People In’.

At the Wedding as Bridesmaid I was one of the key guests, a role I found ‘terrifying’ but even though in the days preceding the Wedding I was worried I was going to ruin the day somehow, you won’t be surprised to hear that I didn’t.

Even though I did initially stand on the wrong side at the ceremony. Something that no one noticed and is in itself kind of a ‘non’ mistake.

Instead I was surrounded by lovely people, all eager to get to know one another, share the love, celebrate the special day and talk and mingle.

I had one of the best days of my life yesterday, not 2017, life.

I want to let people in. I don’t want to be closed off.

Do you remember when Lana Del Rey first appeared and there was that Saturday Night Live sketch where the actress portraying Lana Del Rey says something along the lines of ‘I know people think I’m stand offish, distance and weird, but there’s a very good reason for that, I am stand offish, distance and weird.”

Well, I mean, as much as I hate Facebook and telling people about my problems there have been many times when I wanted to do something like ‘release a statement’ and just post about my social anxiety and explain to my Facebook feed that the reason I haven’t seen my friends who live in the same town as me for a year, and the reason why I don’t text or call or message people is not because I hate them or because I’m being a hateful dick (just a dick) but because social interactions terrify me in a way that nothing other than spiders and a weirder, more specific fear do.

I’m not saying I’m going to be ‘This Years Most Open Person’ instantly. And that forming intimacies with people is more than just me deciding to tell them about my life, it’s about being there for them when they’re suffering, when they’re in pain, when they need me.

But I need to start by forming a new version of the relationships I have with my friends. I guess part of my problem was I was determined to try and have the same life with them, the late nights, the out and about drinking, the clubs and pubs. The problem is those things scare me now. Not to an impossible standard, but I’m much happier with a calm and pleasant coffee morning somewhere, or a nice lunch, then going to ‘sweat-tro’s’

I’m not going to expect my hard partying friends to give up how they best like to socialise, maybe we can meet half way.

I had spoken before about how I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to cope with a proper wedding if me and the boy decide to get married.

Well yesterday was damn fantastic. And I want that for me. My friend’s and family would love to share a special day with me and/or the boy, I don’t just mean a wedding, I barely celebrate my birthday even though I have many friend’s who would love to join me for something.

Let them in Flo.

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Pancake Day! Chickpea Pancakes and Broad Bean and Feta Salad

So it’s Pancake Day today and I have a confession to make.

I don’t like pancakes.

When I say that, I mean those Crepe-y type things that Pancake Day is all about.

I don’t know why but they just taste like a greasy mess to me.

Yet I like savoury pancakes, and I have a packet of  Gram Flour in the cupboard that isn’t exactly going out of date soon, but is taking up a lot of prime cupboard real estate.

Both the Chickpea (and cumin, lots and lots of cumin) pancakes and the Broad Bean and Feta salad are from one of my favourite cook books, which is Beyond Baked Beans: Real Veggie Food for Students by Fiona Beckett. When I was at University my second year house mate had a copy of this book and I frequently borrowed it. I love cook books. I read them as if they were novels rather than reference books.

As neither are my recipes I won’t copy them here, but I’m sure a variation recipe would be easy to find. I would recommend the book as an investment. Don’t let the fact it’s aimed at students put you off, it’s essentially just cheap and simple food with an occasional la di dah recipe thrown in.

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Instead I will tell you how I learnt the hard way to follow the advice every foodie says which is:

READ THE RECIPE ALL THE WAY THROUGH FIRST.

Do not do as I did and:

  • Feel certain that I knew what all the ingredients were.
  • Realise I had forgotten the Feta and had to go to the shops to buy some.
  • Then read the recipe a little bit more once I had returned from the shops and realise I needed eggs.
  • Go to the shops and buy eggs.
  • Come back home, starving, desperate to eat and discover I had to let the batter sit for 10 minutes before I could cook it.
  • Cook the salad long before the pancakes so that the salad that was supposed to be served warm is actually served cold.

Luckily the food was worth the wait.

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I also made Bread Rolls. My very first attempt ever at making bread and they were…ok. A little hard, more like the bread equivalent of a rock cake but they were still delicious warm from the oven slathered in spread.

I have come to love my cooking sessions and find something relaxing about creating in the kitchen.

There was once a point in my life when my mental health prevented me from doing anything more taxing than making a bowl of cereal.

I know the act of cooking may seem like a non-achievement, but I feel very fulfilled.

I don’t like to tempt fate but this is the happiest I have ever been.

Are You Experienced?

One of my simple pleasures in 2016 was going to the City Centre library-usually each Saturday morning-and picking out new books to read from the money management and economics sections.

Whilst I did still buy books in 2016 it was at a much reduced rate. In 2015 I would use the minimum payment on my credit cards to buy a selection of second hand books on Amazon each month. The cards would be at 90% capacity. I would make the minimum payment, then immediately spend it. The concept of paying off my debts didn’t seem to occur to me.

This year will be like Boot Camp. To be more militant. To have tunnel vision about achieving my goals. So no more books.

Luckily I work in a Library, and have several in my home city to indulge in. This should help me get my fix of books.

I do have about 100 unread books in my house as well, but that’s a whole other story.

The book I have just started reading is called “Happy Money: The New Science of Smarter Spending” by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, and although I am only one chapter in I have already learnt a lot.

The first chapter is called “Buy Experiences” which explains through numerous examples of studies that people value experiences, and experiential purchases, more than they do their material possessions. Not only that but people who spend a bigger percentage of their disposable income on experiences compared to those who spend more on material possessions report to be happier as people.

Which, when you think about it, is what I want to do this year.

The book has just explained to me what I seemed to have stumbled on but wasn’t able to describe.

Last year I bought things. Because I bought things I couldn’t afford to socialise as much as I wanted. I would have to turn things down frequently, or do some sort of convoluted ‘paying for a gig ticket across several months in installments’ deal with my boyfriend.

Yes I did have the anxiety. That was a major problem, and actually still is. However my lack of funds was still very much a major concern, and maybe I did use it as an easy excuse.

I very much am intrigued by the whole ‘spending money on experiences makes you happier’ train of thought that Dunn and Norton argue for in the first chapter. I mean, I am willing to try anything to cure my mental health difficulties. I even take cold showers after reading a report that they can boost your mood…

So it is reassuring to discover that I have decided to do something that has the potential to help ease my anxiety and depression. I am happy to report that at this moment in time I am happy, that my anxiety flares up but isn’t all consuming like it has been at certain points in the past, that I do feel that the Universe is being kind to me.

Of course I have the typical anxious thought of feeling like I’m tempting fate if I dare say I am having a good time, that I’m happy, that I’m ok. I guess I should just be a little bit more trusting.

Two statements I live by are ‘It is what it is’ and ‘This too shall pass’. If I trust in them I should be ok.