Wednesday, 29 August 2018

How to start your self love journey

Learning not to hate my body, for how it looks or how it fails me with my chronic health problems is the underpinning for me learning to live a happy life. I wanted to share today my five tips for people who are beginning the journey themselves.

Body Positivity includes ALL Bodies, but was started by fat bodies.
If you truly want to immerse yourself in the body positive community you first have to accept this fact: FAT BODIES STARTED THIS MOVEMENT. If your body positivity only goes up to a certain size, you are not body positive. If you only include healthy bodies, you are not body positive. If you only include young bodies, you are not body positive. This space was created by fat women who wanted to say hey fuck you my body is none of your business and live in a body unapolgetically. The arguement that they are promoting obesity is simply ludicrus ... when did you last see a fat babe trying to make money selling you a diet plan so you could look like them?
I dare you to go onto instagram right now and have a look at the #bodypositive. I will bet you that theres at least one before and after shot, all 9 top posts are white and none of them over a size 14. There wont be a big belly in sight just cruves in all the right places. The problem is the once safe space created by the fat positive, fat acceptance movement has been taken away. People use the hashtag to sell and grow their brands. Please dont post before and afters, calories, diet talk etc as these are all things that can be triggering to those with eating disorders and disorded eating 

Lose the term, "I feel fat."
Take it out of your vocabulary completely. Fat is not a feeling. I know Michelle is passionate about this and I am guilty of saying it. Along with terms like I am having a fat day. Well Im not, Im fat on every day (although aware that as a size 16 Inbetweenie I am very priveleged) When I am having an IBS flare I used to say i feel fat today, and now I day I feel very bloated and uncomfortable. These subtle changes in language can make a world of difference. 

Stop assigning food morality

Food is food ok? One of the best things I ever did for my body was to lose good foods and bad foods. This was terrifying for me at first because diet culture had me wound up tight like a spring, I really thought that when I let go of thinking of foods as good and bad I would ricochette into this endless binge where I would never stop eating. Admittedly on my first couple of days after embracing I ate a fair amount of food. We were on holiday in London and I always eat a lot there, but usually that would have been followed by a few weeks of restriction at home. By letting go of the guilt I found that when I got home and threw away my scales, food started to look less scary. Instead of a battle ground of thinking what was good and bad I started thinking about what my body wanted and started really listening to it. Some days My IBS was bad and i needed less, other days more. Its not an overnight thing but the more you listen to your body the easier it becomes.

Get to know your naked body as a whole
I remember one of the worst things about being ingrained in diet culture was that every time I "fixed" something I found something else that I didnt like. Once I had the smaller tummy I had always dreamed of I noticed how I had cellulite on my thighs. Once my arms no longer jiggled, I honed in on how much I didnt like my hair. You have to remember diet culture is all about money. Of course no one will ever reach the nirvana of thin and be happy, the companies will always invent something else for you to worry about as they need your money. It has to constantly change for them to keep taking your money!

Looking at myself naked was horrible at first. I remember standing in front of the mirror and crying. I hated every single thing. And so at first I went away from looks and would tell myself things like you are loved. You care for other people. Then slowly but surely I got used to my own body. I started to like my waist first, then my legs, and even started to think you know what my belly isn't so bad. Its mine and this body gets me from A to B. I feel, especially in social media, we are only given one type of body to look at. Honestly when was the last time you saw another naked body? If you are like me and work in a hospital you will have seen many. But when I asked this question people have limited options, themselves, their partner and porn stars. Which brings me nicely onto my next point ...

Unfollow, Unfollow, Unfollow
If your Instagram is full of one type of body of course you are going to compare yourself to that. I started unfollowing people who didn't make me feel good, muting friends that had a constant diet culture dialogue and started following a diverse range of bodies. Now I dont mean here follow any person on your feed that is thin, that would be silly, but a lot of the fitness bloggers I followed I was just following because of their body. Their content didn't nourish me in any way it just showed me a warped reality that everyone was thin and successful and to be successful I needed to be thin! You don't owe it to anyone to follow them and you don't have to justify an unfollow. 

Charlotte Lucy.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Student Nurse Diaries: Have I Made The Right Decision?

This post was written a few months ago now, but I wanted to share it as I want to keep all of my thoughts throughout my student journey here. 

This weekend I worked two shifts as a HCA. If you know me, you'll know that I spent 4 years as A HCA on an elderly medical ward.  I love it so much but as the patients had more and more complex needs and required a lot more physical care we got shorter and shorter staffed. I loved care of the elderly but we never had enough staff to do the job the justice it deserved. I had several stints as a patient myself and felt my care and compassion slowly being chipped away at and finding my health suffering as a result.

I left that job as I needed to put my health as my priority and started banking throughout my trust. Over the past two year I have experienced such a wide range of settings and really reignited my passion for this career. I had forgotten how such small things can make a difference in peoples lives. After around 18 months of banking as a HCA I decided to take the plunge and apply once again to become a student nurse.

I felt to some extent I couldn't do everything I wanted to as a HCA. Frustrated when I worked shifts where we were an RN down so meds were running late and I could do nothing about it. Ive always been someone who loves learning and so once I received the offer of a place I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

I dont think I was fully prepared for the financial sacrifice it would take going from working 3-4 Nights a week to living on a student loan! So this month I decided that I would sacrifice my weekends and work. It wasn't as bad as I had a few days off uni during the weeks when I could have some me time. My two shifts were polar opposites and had me questioning whether I have made the right decision to do my nursing degree.

Saturday was spent on a cardiology ward. Most of my patients were independent, some requiring minimal assistance. The staff seemed to have everything under control and everything ran smoothly.

Sunday couldn't have been more different. I arrived to the ward and there was nothing that rang alarm bells straight away. The ward seemed to be well staffed and at this point all the patients were asleep and the ward looked fairly peaceful. However due to shortages elsewhere in the hospital two members of staff were moved leaving the ward short. Not long after another HCA also left as she was unwell.

I started with assisting the patients to have a wash while the RN did her drug round. For the first time in a long time all of my patients were reliant on me to assist them. From the extremes of all care to the ladies that just needed help to wash their back. I felt like I was actually making a big difference in these ladies lives. One asked if I could take her for a shower and I did, helping her bathe while she reminisced about her life when she was my age! If you've never spent much time with the elderly (my youngest patient was 86) they have some amazing stories and I could sit for hours just listening!

My dilemma has come because while I got to spend my whole shift in direct contact with my patients, due to the pressures of the ward the nurses spent the majority of time in a drug round or doing paperwork. The conversation at the beginning of the shift centred around how they were worried for their PIN and how exhausted they were with the job. One nurse even confided that she wasn't sleeping due to worrying that she would make a mistake at work.

Thats when the wave of dread has hit me, have I made the right decision here? Am I going to spend the rest of my life wishing that I was a HCA again, spending a long time one on one with the patients. Listening to their stories while I care for them. Im not sure if this is a common theme and I would love to know if anyone else has felt the same way.

At the same time I know ultimately what the NHS needs is a good supply of dedicated newly qualified nurses to push up the numbers but I fear we are in a vicious cycle. I will be going back to the ward as much as I can to help out as a HCA but would I go back there as a nurse? More than likely not. Its a vicious cycle, to make things better you need more nursing staff, but as nursing staff are burnt out and run down how do you convince student nurses that actually this is where they should work.

I know first and foremost I have to work on building Resilience as my favourite quote says you cant pour from an empty cup, but I dont know what the solution is here!

Anyway, I am starting my placement this week so lets see how I feel after that ...

Charlotte Lucy

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

3 Weeks In ... [The No Spend Year]

Image has absolutely nothing really to do with the upcoming post, I just like and therefore thought I would use it. We need more of this in the blogging world haha.

I am sat writing this post when I really should be doing housework, yoga or more decluttering but as the queen of procrastination I thought I would write a blog post. If you have been following my instagram you will see that I have embarked on a No Spend Year which has come as a bit of a surprise to myself, let alone anyone who knows me! Most people who have taken on similar challenges have a set list of goals and in true me style I didn't prepare and I just kind of started and thought about the rules after. My goals are simply as follows: 

Declutter my house and stop buying tangible things

Stop using shopping as a way to ignore my mental health issues

Figure out "my style" so that when the year is up I don't go back to buying clothes that don't serve me

Save some money to be able to go abroad next year

I know that a lot of people I follow on instagram do no spend challenges to get out of debt etc and they are much more strict than me when it comes to things such as eating out, but I am fortunately not in any debt. I am a student nurse so I have a student loan and I also work along side of that. As I live with Depression, Anxiety, IBS and PCOS my health is always at the forefront of my mind and that is why I have decided not to ban myself from eating out etc as lunch out with my handful of friends brings me so much joy. If I banned myself from this I would become a hermit. I do have a specific rule though:

I am not allowed to purchase *things* So no books, clothes, shoes, accessories, homewares ... anything that will clutter up my house. The exceptions to this rule are a magnet and a bracelet on holiday as these I always buy and anything that needs replacing.

I feel like in the first 3 weeks I have already made some shifts in my mind set and I wanted to talk you through them.

Week one got off to a good start! It was really helped by the fact that I was on placement and so on the days that I was on duty I had no opportunity to spend or even think about spending. The real snag came when I was given some birthday money and I would love to know what your thoughts are on what I should do with this, as Im sure I will have some more gifted money at Christmas. While I didn't break the rules by buying any *things* I did buy myself some rather expensive cereal bars and my favourite bottle of wine (which in shoestring chic style is £3.65). I realised at the end of this week how wrapped up in spending my mental health can be. I had something really horrible happen in my personal life and I really wanted to treat myself. I was feeling really rubbish with my body image and I wanted to buy something anything that would make me feel beautiful. However, the ban forced me to confront my feelings and after a good cry, some good food, a face mask from my stash and a good nights sleep I realised that buying things wouldn't have changed anything and further down the line I would have just felt more despondent when my house was even more full of stuff I didn't need.

Week two started off with lectures and a massive headache! My nana has spent 4 weeks in hospital following a fall and between taking the bus to see her I think I wasn't drinking enough and ended up feeling horrendous. I contemplated buying myself a new reusable bottle (I have no idea where mine has gone ... must stop losing things!) when Tom told me he had one I could have! Result! I then tortured myself by going to the shopping centre and looking at all of the autumnal things that were around. As silly as it sounds I felt a little bit sad that I wouldn't be able to buy anything but then I remembered that I bought a trench coat and a leopard print dress not that long ago. Also I have plenty of autumn dresses that have been feeling a bit unloved while we've had the heat wave. I also went into Town for lunch with Kirstie and we gave each other stuff that we had decluttered that we though the other would like and so that felt like Christmas!! I then did a weekend of night shifts which was VERY easy for the no spend!

Week three started after working 50 hours of nights. Usually after a run of nights I would take myself for breakfast (still technically allowed) and then raid the charity shops looking for something to treat myself too (definitely not allowed) so instead I just went home. I again but on a face mask, slathered myself in luxury body oil (which I won in a twitter competition) and slept. Then the next day I stayed in the house and got loads of housework done which was strangely therapeutic until I started watching cookbooks online and once again was hit with the twinge of sadness that I wouldn't be able to buy anything until the end of July next year. Then it was payday, my first since the shopping ban started! I put a huge chunk of money into holiday savings. As my income is quite erratic due to only working now and again Tom takes care of the house savings and I save for holidays. Holidays to me are so important as a chance to get away, get off social media and read and relax. I also bought my first thing that could be seen as controversial to the ban! So (TMI) but I had the implant put in to control my PCOS symptoms and as a (welcome) side effect I gained boobs for the first time ever. This has meant though that most of my bikinis were far too small for me, so I decluttered them but it only left me with two that I feel completely comfortable in. I decided to replace the 7 I decluttered with one £10 offering from Matalan.

So there you have it three weeks down and Im feeling happy with my decisions so far! Im going to try and make these updates fortnightly but I am not making any promises!

Charlotte Lucy

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

My no spend year ...

I feel like I have made similar suggestions before and always feel like a spring that coils tighter and tighter only to go on mad spending spree when I have been feeling low with my depression. 

It seemed to begin this time at the beginning of July. It was the end of my student loan and honestly, I was feeling exhausted. I started to treat myself to a few bits here and there and before I knew it I was borrowing money from my savings that I promised I would replenish when I next worked a shift. Then my nana fell, and I was thrown into a spiral of spending all day with her at the hospital. This meant cancelling my shifts, and spending obscene amounts of money on shitty hospital meal deals and take aways on my way home. It also meant treating myself because I felt like I deserved it (Although I don't regret my Lindy Bop bargain from the British Heart Foundation, or my yellow rain coat I bought with my birthday money but I digress)

I feel like I am constantly decluttering a house and getting nowhere and my measly weekly budget seems to disappear as soon as I draw it out. So I have decided that I really need to work on my mental health. This year of no spend was inspired by the wonderful Cait Flanders and I have her audiobook playing while I am writing this. I am not necessarily going to be saving a lot of money by doing this, more than likely just redistributing my budget so that I have more money to spend on good quality food etc and I am also hoping to be able to pay for some kind of therapy

Id love to have some support on this, maybe your doing something similar or will help to keep me accountable? Either way I am hoping to keep this blog more updated in the coming weeks!


Sunday, 1 July 2018

Self Care isn't always buying a £50 candle to treat yo self.

I am totally for self care. As someone living with depression, anxiety, IBS and endometriosis I have to take care of myself. Lately though I feel like a lot of bloggers and companies have used the word to sell you things.  It's been thrust into our face after months (and possibly years) of living in a culture where being tired and busy is worn by everyone as a badge of honor. Oh, you only get six hours sleep? Darling Maggie Thatcher got through on 4. Oh you work 50 hours a week? Well I work 60, run a blog, compete in triathlons AND I am a michelin starred chef. Not just amongst bloggers although thats where I mainly see it, its happening all around us in real life too. Soceity seems to have taken the message that women can have anything and chenged it into women SHOULD HAVE EVERYTHING. You know we are expected to hold down full time jobs, keep a house looking like its been pulled straight out of good housekeeping and look like a catwalk model while doing it. 

When I type "Self Care" into youtube there is 12,300,000 results. Most of them suggest things like the latest lush bath bomb, writing in your expensive journal and burning a jo malone candle. I am not saying there is anything wrong with these things if you enjoy them, but actually they are selling you a lifestyle. I feel like as a 27 year old woman I can see that my life wouldn't magically change by owning these things, but 15 years ago things would have been totally different. I remember thinking once upon a time that I would be so much cooler at school if I could afford a Jane Norman bag (I got one for christmas, and I still didn't fit in!) 

A lot of these videos also talk about clearing a day in your scheduele each week/month. Well not everyone can do that. I am very lucky that I get to chose my own shifts at work but there are plenty of people out there that work full time and have secondary commitments such as caring for relatives or children. I honestly think that these videos can do the opposite of what they are promoting. If you are a working person on say 15k (like I am) and you are constantly comparing yourself to a full time youtuber who a. has a lot more disposable income and b. is sent these £40 candles to review you are going to make yourself feel a lot worse.

What I am trying to say here is that self care is something we should all be doing, but it doesn't necessarily involve spending money. If you enjoy having a bath (like I do personally) with lush products, oils and a huge glass of expensive wine then do it. Just don't be fooled into thinking that these people aren't being paid huge sums of money to sell you something in the name of your mental health. I generally worry about the number of teenage girls growing up in this culture. I have talked before about how I feel like the lines between having anxiety and feeling anxious have been blurred and I really feel like we are going down the same route with this. 

I am going to be focusing a lot more on saving money and one of the bloggers I have really admired is this one from Cait Flanders. She talks about how we get into debt for our mental health and I feel like the self care trend will be pushing people down the same route. When I have been at the lowest points with my depression I know I have spent money I should have been saving on days out, beauty products, meals out, all to try and perk myself up and it just doesnt work. I wasn't doing it consciously and it is not until after the event in retrospect that I can rationally see this. 

Also self care is such a personal thing. I know that going for a long walk is helfpul for me when I am feeling like hiding away, however if my IBS is also in a flare the anxiety that would be cause by not knowing where the nearest toilet is would far outweigh the benefits. I also enjoy writing my feelings down but I can do this, for free, online and don't need a specific expenisve journal to do so.

What are your views on the latest trend for Self Care?

Charlotte Lucy.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Im Back ... And I am about to kick my money habits ass.

My name is Charlotte and I spend too much money. I also haven't posted on this blog since October last year and so I am a little rusty. 

For months now I have been looking at how to fit in, in a blogging world where I felt like I was constantly questioning my standards, feeling like I didn't know what I wanted to write about but knowing that writing seemed to help. Then I remembered how happy I felt at the money bloggers conference last year surrounded by bloggers talking about saving money.

So, with a few goals in mind I thought I would start a money diary here. Starting next Monday every Monday there will be a money diary. I will be documenting everything that I spend and also everything that I want to buy but didn't. I am taking part in a no spend this month on *things* so no clothes, shoes, books, magazines etc you get it I'm not buying it. 

Im also hoping to put at least 50% of my weekly earnings into my house/holiday savings. I am doing a nursing degree and I graduate in 2021 and I'd like to be able to buy a house within 6 months which may be a bit optimistic. Especially due to the fact that I refuse to give up my holidays. Nursing is hard! if I am going to get through it without going completely insane I need a week of sun each year!

Are you on a savings journey? Id love to read other blogs