2017: The Year of Contentment

2017: The Year of Contentment

I am not making any new years resolutions.

Well actually in a loose way I suppose I am (but there are no deadlines or guilt-trips): to cultivate contentment.

content
kənˈtɛnt/
adjective
in a state of peaceful happiness.

 

I’m done with tough and unrealistic expectations (mostly put upon by myself) of who or where I should be, of what counts as being ‘successful‘, and of feeling guilty for not seeming to be fulfilling them. Because actually I’m doing pretty great, and yeah I’m going to take a moment to celebrate what I have achieved so far as I so often overlook this (and I bet some of you do to!):

I make half my income from freelance Social Media Management. Yay! This gives me freedom in how I spend half of my week and keeps things interesting. I occasionally feel a sense of achievement when telling someone what I do and they seem impressed – still working on not feeling like a fraud though (another symptom of that dammed perfectionism).

I have a homely flat with my partner, and feel like it’s truly ‘ours’. Even though we’re just renting, we are able to feel more at home here and we don’t have to sublet a second room out to my mum for her work ,which takes a lot of stress and guilt from taking money from her off the table.

I have lovely friends! They’re mostly all over the place (literally, spread out over many countries) and always seem to be leaving, but these are keepers and distance doesn’t weaken the friendship, it just kind of pauses it until we’re reunited and laughing again. And the ones I have close to me are so incredibly supportive. Another conscious decision this year is to make sure I plan quality time with each friend and arrange group activities as much as possible – it really is hard to be down when around friends!

I think some songs I wrote last year are really good, and I’m so excited to share them with the world! My songs are like diary entries – they help me process my emotions and find beauty and art even in suffering. I hope to work with musical friends I admire this year to bring them to life. My aim with my music and the interviews I plan to do with the musicians I work with, is to add a perspective on the discussion of depression and mental health – to help people realise that it is just as common as physical ill-health, and needs to be prevented and treated in the same way; with gentle care, diligence and perseverance.

I have changed my outlook on life.

Before, it was ‘I should have more clients by now’, ‘I should have made an album and toured Europe and be on my way to being “successful”by now’ (it also really doesn’t help that the term ‘successful’ is undefined and fluid in my head, mostly based on perceived successes of peers), ‘I should be exercising more and taking the time to cook ‘healthier’ meals from scratch’, ‘I should be going to more events and socialising and networking more’.

But now, after a long low period and much internal processing, I am pleased to say I now think more like: ‘I have a few good clients and I can’t wait to find more and see what paths they lead me down’, ‘I am happy with my music and excited to collaborate and share it – whatever scale, even if it’s just local to Brighton is fine with me, as long as I’m doing it’, ‘I am already content doing regular yoga at home and look forward to supplementing it with dance/zumba/whatever classes when possible, and I’m also excited to take on physical challenges, like hikes, with friends. I am also looking forward to broadening my cooking skills and creating a folder of new recipes I’d like to try – maybe I’ll even create my own recipe ebook of my favourites to share with others.’ and ‘I know that I enjoy time with my friends, but that constant networking and socialising can be draining for me, therefore I won’t agree to go to events unless I truly want to – this will also eliminate guilt of cancelling last minute.’

This sounds more like the ‘old’ me – the me before I left home and had to rebuild my confidence and sense of self from scratch, the optimistic and ever-hopeful me, whose enthusiasm always somehow got me where I wanted to be.

And now it is ‘me’ again.

It’s taken me a year or two, but I am now starting to feel content with my life – I have been enjoying the little things each day, instead of feeling paralysed at the thought that somehow I could be enjoying life more – if I was just like this or had done that. I have also gotten over the shock and sense of injustice that one must cultivate ones happiness and good mental health – I can’t just breeze through life and expect not to be knocked down or faced with hardships and bounce straight back. I must put fail-safes in place, do things every day to keep a positive outlook, and sometimes just recognise and allow a negative emotion to be…and then let it pass without feeling self-pity.

I welcome 2017 with open arms – because now I truly understand that only I am in control of my own happiness…and that’s actually a good thing!

I hope you too have a happy and contended year,

 

Zoe x

DIY Bathroom Tile Improvement For Renters 

DIY Bathroom Tile Improvement For Renters 

If you have ever rented (especially in Brighton), you know that often you move in and have to spend a while…de-uglifying it; sometimes you have to seriously question the sanity of the landlord!

So our new bathroom was completely void of any sort of style or aesthetic, not even a boring but easily customisable ‘all white’ theme. There was a horrible BRIGHT RED Ikea mirror (I didn’t even think to get a ‘before’ picture, it offended my eyes so much) and these ugly as HELL tiles dotted in between the white ones.

After some googling, I came across sticky back vinyl that can be cut to the size of the tiles and VOILA, new tiles (almost). So I purchased some white marble style vinyl from B&Q and hoped it would look realistic enough to fool a casual bathroom user…well it might fool them with their eyes half closed, but to be honest the ugly tiles are hidden and that’s all that matters to me – especially as I may be moving again in six months.

Here are the dreaded tiles ‘before’:


Here is a nice ‘in the moment’ shot of my DIYing:


And HERE is the final result:


A close up of the mirror I deIKEAfied with copper tape and some leftover marble vinyl:


So there we have it, the job is not perfect (the original tiles were all slightly wonky and so was my cutting so there’s a fair few ‘wonks’ going on), but it’s good enough for me 😊.

You can get loads of different prints on vinyl – from marble to wood to colourful patterns, so you can create any style you want!

Happy DIYing Sun People 🎨

Zoe x

Sometimes when we can see our boundaries,

when we think we know the limits,

it kills our curiosity of what’s beyond.

But sometimes we need to double check that those limits are actually there,

that the boundaries are as solid as we thought,

just in case today,

we can peek

or even walk through.

(This thought came to me whilst walking in the park 2 days in a row: the first day I looked ahead and saw the park boundary and thought – if I can already see it, why do I need to walk over there, there is nothing new to explore. The second day, for some reason I had a completely different mind set of really wanting to walk the whole length of the park and just enjoy the process, not thinking of the end result (the end of the walk). It occurred to me that this could be used as a metaphor for mental boundaries and limits too – sometimes we think we know our limits, that we can’t push through life’s boundaries, and sometimes we are inexplicably excited and compelled to push further. Both are okay – fields always need a fallow period before growing new crops, just as our minds sometimes need fallow periods before inspiration can hit. But it is important to remember that it will always hit eventually…and maybe walking that extra bit further will reveal something to you.)

I don’t know if I have depression,
But it’s sunny outside and I love the sun, But right now I don’t know if I can face leaving home.

I don’t know if I have depression,
But when I think ahead to tomorrow and the days after that,
even though I have a wonderful boyfriend and new flat,
even though I know I’ll laugh with my friends.
All I can think, is not this again.

Not this feeling of despair
Not this claustrophobic doom
I don’t have ‘enough’ money, so I have no right to enjoy good food.
I don’t have a ‘proper’ job, so I have no right to complain. No right, because I don’t have to get up at 6:30 again.

I have no right to feel sad,
No right to feel down,
I have the support of my friends and family all around.
I have no right to feel loss, no right to feel rage,
I live a white middle class life, a beautiful cage.

The bars gleam with expectation,
They shine gold with privilege,
But they weren’t built to contain such heavy feelings within it.
They were built for a songbird – sing for me, play a song!
You should be famous – or has the moment gone?
You have so much talent, why do you still work for minimum wage?
Maybe because I’m still working through this rage.

This rage at myself for having what I need, not all that I want, but enough to be free.
No lifetime of poverty is waiting for me.
This songbird’s cage is so lovely and shiny.
So why can’t I enjoy it, what the fuck’s wrong with me?

I don’t know if I’m depressed or just guilty.

But what does that matter, if it matters at all?
Just to be another poor name on a form.
Given a label, some drugs, an excuse for it all?

The crazy thing is, none of this matters really.
Well, it shouldn’t. But it does.
It does to me.

Everyone has ‘flaws’.

Everytime you get together with someone, you have to decide whether their flaws are compatible with yours. 

For example, if you keep arguing with someone and you believe it’s because they are quick to anger…then what made you argue back? Perhaps you didn’t realise this was a flaw of yours too.

Other people’s flaws bring out the worst in us, it is so easy to blame any upset on someone else but if we had reacted differently ourselves would the outcome have been the same? 

Ultimately, we must judge how much of an impact their flaws have on our daily lives and happiness. And if we can accept that everyone is flawed and learn to not let their emotions affect our own, relationships might be a lot easier. 

Today I woke up excited for the day. 

I didn’t have anything fun planned, mostly work and chores I’d been putting off. 

So why was I so happy to be alive when I had been anxious/ angry/crying/argumentative, even feeling a bit depressed all the previous week? 

Could it be something as simple as hormones?

Now I know what you’re thinking, was I on my period the previous week? The truth is I don’t know. I don’t actually menstrate at all, at any time (usually) whilst I’m taking my birth control, Cerezette (it’s a ‘mini’ pill and no menstration is normal as there is no ‘break’ week). But I’ve noticed my body still does seem to have a hormonal ‘cycle’, even without a period – even men do too apparently! 

I haven’t been tracking this cycle, I just know that every few weeks I get more spots and maybe get more pre-(non existant menstrual) tension…

Anyway, my point is, maybe we’re not as in control of our happiness and emotions as we’d like to be. If you’re particularly up and down over the month like me, maybe it’s just our hormones raining on our parade. Maybe we can stop freaking out every time we’re feeling low and give ourselves permission to feel shitty sometimes, knowing that it will pass as all things do.

Update: work up next day and didn’t want to get out of bed as life felt too overwhelming…but it’s sunny outside and that’s the main thing that help at times like this so I’m going to the park and hopefully can swing the day back round in my favour…or maybe my hormones won’t let me…let’s see!