The Longest Week

I’ve just finished one of my longest work weeks ever. Due to staff shortage, I’ve just worked 72 hours in the past week. Needless to say, I’m exhausted. Which is very unhelpful considering that I have a lot that need to get done.

Ignoring all the writing/revising I should be doing, I need to tidy up and clean our flat, print out our boarding passes and vouchers, write a note to the house/pet sitter and pack our bags. Oh yes, I didn’t tell you – I’m going to Spain on Monday!

The work week from hell is a lot easier to get through when you know that you’re off on a holiday once it’s over.

My sister and her family are coming to visit for the last week of June as well, which I’m really looking forward to. The one problem I’m having is finding the time to clean, since when we get back from Spain I go straight into three nights of work, and then they arrive. I might have to only sleep a couple of hours after the last night and do lots of panic cleaning (is there any other kind?) in the hours before they show up.

Now I need to get back to cleaning… I say that, but in reality I’m off to watch the new Wonder Woman movie.

I’m not afraid of flying

As I’ve just been traveling by plane I started to think about flying, and how I feel about it. A lot of people in my family are afraid to fly, while I’m not. I mean, not really. At least not enough to keep me from traveling by plane to whichever destination I need to go. That said, it doesn’t mean that I enjoy flying.

The evening before my return flight I was listening to the radio while they were talking about the fear of flying. Statistically it’s safer to fly than to drive a car or go by train, yet a lot of people are afraid of flying – but not those other things. They gave a few possible reasons for this on the show, but not the one that I personally find the most obvious – the odds of survival.

I feel like if I’m in a car accident or train accident, I have some chance to survive. If my plane goes down… The odds are kind of stacked against you on that one.

Exactly what I don’t want to see when going in for a landing.

I like to think that I handle flying fairly well, I’m just aware of my own mortality. I dislike the take-off and landing the most, possibly because that’s when the most accidents occur. Turbulence is very uncomfortable as well. I don’t even like roller-coasters, so going into a quick dip at 30,000 ft isn’t my cup of tea. It worries me when I hear about research that show that the turbulence is going to get worse and worse because of our carbon dioxide emissions. Turbulence might possibly bother me more than anything during a flight.

The better way of flying?

Then there are the maths. On average I probably do three round-trips a year. It’s nothing compared to people who travel for work, but it’s possibly more than the average person? Statistically, I imagine that the more flights you take, the greater the odds of something happening. I’m no maths genius though, so it probably doesn’t work like that at all.

How do you feel about flying?

Happy Easter!

It’s that time of year again when we stuff our faces with chocolate and chase rabbits down the hole…

I’m currently in Sweden visiting family, and so I get to enjoy the Scandinavian traditions which are actually quite different. No bunnies and none of the traditional British Easter eggs that we all know and love. There are Easter eggs of course, but you wouldn’t be able to go out and buy yourself a Maltesers or Galaxy egg. Rather they just have lots of the tiny ones, in a pick and mix type.

You see a lot more of chickens than bunnies, and because all Scandinavian traditions are mixed with their old ways, there are Easter witches. Because… Well, because when they converted Scandinavia to Christianity they found that it was easier to just let them hold onto their old ways, and just tag the new Christian traditions onto them. So now they are left with a combination of both.

Most of the dates of the heathen holidays pretty much lined up with the Christian ones anyway, so why make a fuss when they could just combine it? You can notice it in a way because up here they tend to celebrate all holidays on the eve rather than the day. Like most of the celebrations take place on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. I celebrated Easter yesterday (Saturday) rather than today (Sunday).

They also celebrate Midsummer’s Eve (originally summer solstice) every June.

But today we’re talking about Easter.

So, Easter witches.

It all stems from back in the day when people were very superstitious. They believed that the night before Easter, all of the witches would get on their brooms and ride to Blåkulla (Blockula) to meet with the Devil for the witches’ Sabbath. While obviously no one believes in witches anymore, the tradition somehow lives on in the children dressing up as witches for Easter.

See how scary the Easter witches are?

Beyond dressing up as witches, the traditions vary depending on where in the country you live. Some parts have an approach similar to Halloween where the children will walk between houses and ask for candy. The area where my family live, the children will draw something on a piece of paper, fold it into a letter and fill it with candy. They’ll then throw it into their friends’ homes and run off, and the friend is meant to run after them to try to catch them.

I love finding out about local traditions or even traditions that differ between countries. That said, with internet and the amount of information that’s around these days, I do find that the lines blur. People see things on tv/the internet and suddenly things from other countries appear. (Like I actually saw a couple of Easter bunnies in the Easter parade yesterday, something I’ve never seen before in Sweden.)

In any case, I wish you all a Happy Easter – no matter where you are in the world.

Does your country/family/region have any special Easter traditions?

Things We Don’t Say

This is a personal post, so if you’re only interested in reading about writing and similar things, you might want to skip this one.

There are some unspoken rules in our society about things that we should and should not share with others, and I’m going to break one today, because I need to write about it. Writing is how I deal with things, and I also think that we should be able to share anything we feel that we want to. I know others might prefer to keep it silent, and that’s fine too. Everyone should do whatever feels right for them.

Up until a few days ago I was pregnant.

I lost the pregnancy at 11,5 weeks, just short of that “magic” number when you’re generally considered to have passed the worst bit. While things can still go wrong, most miscarriages happen before week 12. Before it happened to me, I never thought I’d take it this hard. I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve made it through on the other end, and I will this time too. It’s just surprising how much it hurts.

While I was cautiously optimistic about the pregnancy (something I had wanted for a long time), it was difficult to keep my enthusiasm down. I knew that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, but I was still hoping. It’s difficult not to. Against better judgment I was thinking ahead, dreaming of things to come. Now all those dreams have shattered, and I have shattered with them.

Part of me feels ashamed of being as upset as I am. There are people who lose their babies, there are those who miscarry a lot later. And here I am, feeling sorry for myself after 11,5 weeks. How dare I?

Another part of me just feels sad. Sometimes I just feel numb. I’m sure that I’ll get over this, but for now I will allow myself to feel sad. Even if just for a while.

Time Lost

I feel like life is moving at a grueling pace some days, and other days seem to go on forever. No, that’s not quite it. While at work, the day never seems to end, but because I’m so tired my spare time is over in a snooze (quite literally). Suddenly another week has passed, and I still haven’t accomplished anything.

My tiredness seem to have gotten worse again. Maybe it’s the time of year. Everything is darker. Colder.

I force myself out of bed in the morning, I go to work, I make it through the day… Then I get home and I struggle to stay awake. Most days I don’t manage, and I end up sleeping for a couple of hours. Precious hours when I should be doing other things, but I just can’t keep my eyes open.

tired-cat

On a positive note, it’s only three more weeks of school until the Christmas holiday. Two glorious weeks off!

I went to the hospital a week ago for a blood draw. Never been fond of needles, but as long as I don’t look I’m fine. This time I jumped when the nurse jabbed me, and she said “you’ve obviously had a bad experience”. My last experience was the daily blood draw they did in the hospital last summer when I had that surgery that went so very, very wrong. When my veins kept blowing from the blood draw and IV, and my arm looked like I’d joined the local Fight Club.

That little comment from the nurse was all that was needed to bring it all back, and to my mortification I broke into tears. She was very understanding though, just got me a few tissues and let me have a few minutes before calling the next patient. I never expected to have that kind of reaction, since I’ve always managed my blood draws okay in the past, despite the fear of needles.

Another positive note, turns out my values are all fine. No more monthly injections! The mal-absorption issue seems to have sorted itself out. Go me!

go-me

Lastly, I’ve started another blog. I know. I know. I’m like a serial blogger. Not in that I write lots of blog posts (I wish!), but in that I keep making new ones. It’s supposed to be focused a bit more on my writing, because I felt like the title of this blog might put some people off. I don’t know. Maybe the blog addict in me just wanted another blog. I could just put everything on that one, but I suspect no one’s really interested in my random ramblings. (Not that I think they’re particularly interested in my writing and rambling about that, really.) I just like to keep my ramblings for posterity, or something. It’s quite nice to be able to go back 10 years through my blog posts and see what I’ve been up to. It’s like an online journal/diary.

If anyone wants to check it out, it’s http://thestrugglingwriter.com and I even made it a Facebook page. Because… I could? It’s nice for posting random pictures and things that don’t deserve its own post.

Okay, that’s enough rambling for today.

A small “hello”

It’s been almost exactly ten years since I ran into the proverbial wall and had a burn out. I still remember the morning that I woke up a couple of hours before the alarm was supposed to go off, violently shaking and in a panic about the very idea of leaving the relative safety of my bed. It seems impossible for someone who’s never been in that situation, I imagine – but at that very moment, I could no more get out of that bed and go to work than I could have climbed Mount Everest.

Up until that point I had been working very hard, both in my professional job and at writing in my spare time; finishing two novels while also dealing with a stressful job and equally stressful things going on in my private life. All together, I guess they contributed to my eventual downfall. And fall I did, hard. Suddenly I wasn’t able to do anything.

I was someone who always prided themselves on being organised and remembering most things without writing them down, and suddenly I couldn’t remember the simplest things. To this day, I still struggle with my memory, and from having considered myself very stress-resilient, I now can’t handle any stress without coming apart at the seams.

Not only was I unable to work for quite some time after this, I found myself unable to write. Suddenly I was a writer without words.

Since then I’ve been through a lot, I’ve found myself back to a semi-decent life, though I still suffer from chronic fatigue and chronic pain (turns out that I have fibromyalgia, which might have been a factor in my burn out, or it may have come after… who knows). I’ve learned to deal with these things though, and after moving countries twice, breaking a leg, having a failed surgery (not leg related) that has damaged me in several ways, I’m feeling like I’m in a position to start to seriously look at what else I want to change in my life.

First and foremost; I want to start writing again.

And so I’m starting this blog both as a way to get me to write, and to hopefully keep me motivated by forcing myself to put how much I’ve done. The idea is that 2017 is the year that I will get into a writing routine, and get at least one of my two novels published.

Please join me on this journey!

Our Garden

We still have a lot of work to do in our back garden, but in preparation for my family arriving we did get ourselves a nice, new table and chairs. We also replaced the old canopy on the gazebo, since it was getting quite bad.

I think it’s looking much better now!

garden

The back part of the garden still needs to be dug up and fenced in. We’re also planning to turn the furthest part of it into a parking space, so that we can park off the road. It’s moving along very slowly though, but hopefully we’ll eventually get there. You can tell from the next photo that there’s a lot of weeds, big weeds(!) in the back part of the garden that need to be dealt with.

garden-table

Durlston Country Park

One of the days we went to Durlston Country Park, it’s a nature reserve and park that stretches along the coast and they used to have quarries there for limestone in the past. We walked a path along the sea side, saw the lighthouse (of which I didn’t get any good photos) and then had lunch at their restaurant.

I tried Dorset Apple Cake (since we live in Dorset), and it was nice. I’m not sure what’s different to regular apple cake though, since to me they all tend to just be apple cake.

durlston-country-park

There’s also a 40-ton globe made of limestone on the grounds, engraved with the world map (as it was in the 19th century). It was a nice visit, with a lovely walk along the coast, but also somewhat terrifying for someone with a fear of heights, since you walk quite close to the edge. Like most of the English south coast, the cliffs are quite steep, so you want to watch your step!

durlston-2

Beach + Swanage

I took my mom, my brother and Bailey to the beach one day. As it turned out, it was a nudist beach… But at least it wasn’t as packed as the other ones? Have to look at these things from the bright side! And there was no requirement to not wear clothes yourself (like I’ve seen on some beach in Spain), as you approach you just get a warning sign that naturists may be seen.

A wild nudist appears.

Every time I see that sign, that’s what I think. Pokemon has damaged me, and I don’t even play it.

Anyway, we still had a good time at the beach. My mom and I even managed to take a swim in the ocean. It wasn’t exactly warm, but we managed to do it by going in very slowly, getting used to it a little bit at a time. A more brave person may have just run in and done it quickly, but I am not that person.

Bailey enjoying the water.

Bailey enjoying the water.

We didn’t stay as long on the beach as I think we would have liked, since my brother wasn’t really enjoying it and we felt bad. Bailey had fun though, until we were told that he had to be on a lead, which I didn’t know, so he’d been running around until then. Apparently it was because it was “so busy”. Compared to the beach in the town centre, I wouldn’t have called it busy, but I guess it was too busy to have him loose.

Bailey showing off the beach view.

Bailey showing off the beach view.

And yes, the man in the background is most likely nude. Fortunately the photo is too pixelated to tell.

After the beach, we continued onto Swanage, a little beach town nestled in a cove. We didn’t have enough change for the parking meter to stay for more than an hour, which was a shame. (Planning, not my forte!) We sat at a little beach bar and had a milkshake, enjoying the view.

Best banana milkshake in a while.

Best banana milkshake in a while.

Tank Museum + Durdle Door

My 18 year old brother is a big fan of tanks. (I know, that was my reaction too.) Anyway, apparently barely an hour from where I live there’s a tank museum. Not just a tank museum, but The Tank Museum. It’s the largest tank museum in the world, and the third largest museum of armoured vehicles. Fancy that.

Considering these facts, there was nothing to it. We had to make the drive to the tank museum. I’ll be honest, it’s not my cup of tea. It did have some interesting bits though, it does actually trace the history of tanks which was fascinating to see. You can see how they idea started and how they then perfected it through the years. The first tanks used so much petrol that you wonder if it was possible for them go get anywhere. Where did they store it?

My brother and a tank.

My brother and the tank from the movie Fury.

But I digress. There were a lot of tanks. A. lot. of. tanks.

The museum is in the Bovington Camp which trains most of the armed forces in armoured vehicles. So, while driving there, you came across road warning signs that you were approaching a “Tank crossing”. I wish I’d taken a photo. Even more fun, was the random signs that said “Warning. Sudden Gunfire.”

Just for fun, before leaving the museum we put my brother (and myself) in an armored vehicle ride around the grounds. It was incredibly noise and shaky. I can’t imagine being someone that had to spend hours in one of those vehicles.

tank-museum

The plan was that after the museum we’d travel the extra fifteen minutes to go down to Durdle Door, but the museum took a bit longer than we’d expected, so by the time we reached Durdle Door the weather had taken a turn for the worse and it was starting to get dark.

As the rain was starting to come down, my mom and I walked down to the view point and took a picture, then hurried back up the hill again. So, our afternoon with picnic at Durdle Door ended up just being a picture. Also, the path to go up and down is very, very steep. I took a picture of it, but I honestly don’t think it shows how bad it is. By the time we reached the top again my thighs were hurting!

The last bit is the worst, and I don't think you can see it from this angle.

The last bit is the worst, and I don’t think you can see it from this angle.

I’d love to go back again one day when I have more time and can actually go down to the beach and stay for a while. The trek back up again might not be as bad if you didn’t just walk down as well. The incline is so bad you can actually feel it in your knees going down.

At least I got my photo of Durdle Door!

At least I got my photo of Durdle Door!

You can’t actually tell from the photos, but it was actually raining at this point. Not properly coming down yet, but enough to make us quite chilled.