Friday, 14 July 2017

What I've Learned While Planning A Wedding (So Far)

Pete and I have now been engaged for a little over six months. Because I'm an incurable keeno, the vast majority of our wedding planning is now done - in fact, most of it was done within two months of getting engaged. The ceremony is booked, the venue is agreed, the food is decided on, the photographer is secured, and the dress - the beautiful dress, that I had no intention of buying so soon but found by sheer chance - is shrouded in an expensive-looking garment bag and tucked safely into the back of my wardrobe.

And I've learned a lot. Too much, in fact. I thought I was prepared for wedding planning. I was wrong. So, without further ado, just a few of the things I've learned while planning a wedding (so far)...

1. You know more people than you think you do.

"I only want a small wedding," I said, on numerous occasions, both before and after we got engaged. Of course, prior to actually sitting down and hammering out a rough guest list, I had never counted up the number of people we actually know. Turns out, it's a lot. Aunts, uncles, cousins, school friends, uni friends, work friends, family friends...before I knew it I had filled my mental '40 person guest list' (and then some) all by myself and poor Pete was going to be flying solo. Not ideal. 

So, we re-evaluated. The guest list grew. Then it grew again. We're currently hovering somewhere around the 90 mark. Yes, really.

2. All those people you know...they've all got an opinion. And they're probably not afraid to share it.

This is something I was actually prepared for, to a certain degree. I knew some of our decisions would be controversial. We've chosen not to invite children, for example, which went down like a sack of excrement with some family members - and boy did they make sure I knew it!

What I wasn't prepared for, was the passing of comment on every.single.detail. Don't get me wrong, quite often those comments have been 'OMG that sounds amazing', but there's also been plenty of 'you can't do that', 'you can't not have this', 'what do you mean, there won't be a (insert random wedding related object/tradition here)'. The worst offender for this, by far has been my mother. I didn't realise quite how traditional she is until I started planning a wedding and she was horrified by the idea of anything that wasn't a church ceremony followed by a Rolls Royce ride to a fancy hotel for a three course sit-down meal. Don't get me wrong, if that's your wedding dream then fantastic - you do you. But it wasn't what we had imagined for our day, so poor old Mumma Jones has had to settle for one of out three. (I'm pretty sure she'll survive.)

3. Money loses all meaning.

Before we started wedding planning, I would deliberate endlessly over spending pretty much any money at all. Unless it was on food, obviously. Or the dog. £16 for a t-shirt!? Bit steep. £120 for new tyres!???! Do I really need them?

Then I started planning a wedding, and gradually my sense of what 'a lot' of money is was eroded. Completely. It no longer exists. Once upon a time I couldn't even begin to imagine spending more than £500 on anything other than a house or a car. These days, I find myself looking at £600 cakes on Pinterest and thinking 'well, that's not too bad...'.

4. There's more than meets the eye. Much more.

I realise now how naive I was before we got engaged. I would always (secretly) roll my eyes at those brides losing their minds over table plans and canapes and complaining that there was I mean hard can it be to plan a party?

As it turns out, there really is quite a lot to think about. Who the hell knew!? Urm....any woman who has ever got married, probably. Wedding stationary, reception drinks, corkage, wedding insurance and banns are just a few of the things I had never heard of prior to planning my own wedding. I'm still not the type to burst into tears over the canapes, but it's early days yet.

5. People will assume that the groom doesn't care about the wedding.

Now this one really did surprise me. From random people on Facebook pages asserting that an uninterested groom is 'just a man thing' to friends and family (wrongly) assuming that all Pete wants to know about the wedding is what time he needs to get there.

Now, I know that some grooms really aren't all that interested. And I know that some brides have been planning their big day since they were old enough to say cathedral veil - and some just before. And if that works for you guys then that is absolutely fine. Sometimes I wish Pete was a bit less interested, and I could plan the Harry Potter themed wedding of my dreams. But he is very interested. I've definitely done more of the research, but he's been involved in every big decision bar the dress. And as much as I wish I could serve our guests pumpkin pasties and fizzy whizbees and send everyone home with magic wand wedding favours, I also couldn't imagine planning our day without his input and ideas.

So no, if your groom doesn't care about the wedding it isn't a 'man thing'. It's a personality thing. And that's ok.

6. If you thought body shaming was bad before, wait until people (and Facebook ads) know you're engaged.

As someone who has been on a diet for pretty much her entire adult life, I'm probably the wrong person to pass comment on this. But I have been astounded by the amount of bridal body shaming I've seen in the last six months.

Do I want to lose a bit of weight before I get married? Yes. Do I want to lose weight specifically for my wedding? No. No I don't. I want to lose it for confidence and for health for my entire lift, not just the 12 hours that I'm in a big white dress. So no, to those people who have asked, I'm not on a 'wedding dress diet' (right now I'm not on a diet at all, and am instead eating everything that isn't nailed down, but that's hardly the point). And no, I don't need some 'shredding for the wedding' gym leggings or a 'slimming down for the gown' food diary or any of the other shit that's on the market that is designed specifically to make women feel as though they are not good enough. If someone wants to lose weight for their health or confidence then fantastic, good for them, I know first hand the positive effect it can have on your life. But if someone - particularly someone who has never felt that they have an issue with their weight before they get engaged - suddenly feels as though they need to hit the gym and eat nothing but green smoothies just because Brides magazine tells them you can only get married if you're a size 8 then I'm sorry, but that's bullshit.

Sorry, had to get on my high horse there for a minute. I'm off now.

So, there you have it - just a few of the things I've learned in the six months we've been planning a wedding. Given that we don't get married for another 15 months, I'm sure there will be plenty more lessons to learn along the way...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Our Engagement Story

When I started writing here again, I said I wasn't planning to update the blog with every detail from the last three years. That's still true, but there is one past event that I'd like to get written down - not because I expect anyone else to be particularly interested, but because I'd like to have a record of it to keep and look back on in the future.

Our engagement story.

It was perfect. Romantic, funny, unexpected, and perfect.

On Boxing Day 2016, we travelled down to Devon. My Mum was already in situ, in a gorgeous little cottage on Dartmoor, and had kindly invited us to share her holiday home for a few days over the festive period. After an incredibly busy couple of weeks that had included six days in New York and a nasty virus, as well as the usual Christmas festivities, a break in the countryside was exactly what we both needed. We rose early on the 26th, loaded the car with dogs, wellies, waterproofs and pressies, and battled the usual Bank Holiday traffic down to the West Country. We drank wine, ate cold meat, mash and pickles (the only acceptable Boxing Day fare, thank you very much) and watched Harry Potter in front of the wood burner. It was basically as good as Boxing Day gets.

The morning of the 27th was cold, grey and drizzly. The temptation to stay in by the fire was strong, but we pulled on our walking boots anyway and headed out onto the Moors with the dogs (and my Mum) in tow. I realised almost immediately that my boots weren't waterproof, and spent the next forty minutes complaining that I had wet feet. After clambering up a 'footpath' that would've bested the most sure-footed of mountain goats, we emerged onto one of the steepest hills I have ever seen.

Up we trekked, with me gasping for breath (so that I could carry on complaining about my feet, obvs). Eventually, just as I thought my lungs were going to give out, we reached the crest of the hill and Kes Tor, the ancient rocky outcrop that lies at the top of Chagford Common. We clambered, some of us more elegantly than others, to the top of the giant granite block, and were greeted with dramatic views of the beautiful moors.

It wasn't until we had climbed back down off the Tor that Pete handed me a beautifully wrapped photo album, which he told me was a Christmas gift he had forgotten to give me. Being my usual tactful and intuitive self I asked if I could look at it back at the cottage, to which he replied quite firmly, 'no, look at it now!'. I distinctly remember wondering what on earth had got into him while I unwrapped it - now I know!

Within it's pages were contained a series of photographs of the two of us, from the very first picture of us together up to and including the highlights of our New York trip. I flicked through the beautiful, funny photographs, laughing at the ones I hadn't looked at for a while but still vaguely wondering why I was looking at them at the top of a bloody great hill with freezing cold toes. The penny finally started to drop when I reached the final page, and found a shot from our New York trip with 'let's continue the adventure' written across it...

It was around that point (I think, I was a little bit shellshocked) that he dropped to one knee, presented me with a beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring, and asked me to marry him. Having my Mum there with us was lovely - she was, of course, in on it the whole time so was ready and waiting with the camera! It was wonderful to share such a special moment with her.

I have lost count of the amount of times, since then, that I have been asked if I cried when he asked me. I would love to say yes - that I was overcome by the raw emotion of the moment and that my eyes filled with tears of love and joy. 

Unfortunately, that would be a lie. In truth, I was so taken aback that what I actually did was say 'Oh my God!' two or three times before it even occurred to me to say yes! Poor Pete, I really think I pushed his nerves to the very edge that day!

I really couldn't have asked for a more perfect proposal. Dartmoor has always been one of my very favourite places, it holds so many treasured memories from my childhood and is somewhere I hope  to take our children some day as well. It's wonderful to know that we can re-visit the spot that we got engaged, and that our engagement story is tied up with the long history of such a beautiful part of the country.

And, as my best friend (and future Maid of Honour) put it, "It's just so you. In your walking boots and big coats, out in the mud, both holding a dog lead. It pretty much sums you guys up."

I think she's right.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Beginning. Again.

So here we are again, not quite back to square one, but a damn sight nearer than I'd like to be. 

After a couple years of half-hearted attempts to get back on the wagon, I finally managed to get my head back in the weight loss zone in October 2015. I joined a new Weight Watchers meeting and weighed in at 15st 10.5lbs - still 4st lighter than when I first joined in January 2010...

...but 3st heavier than when I celebrated my Dad's 50th in April 2012.

Something seemed to click this time around, and the weight started coming off slowly but steadily. I joined the gym, and persuaded Pete to come along to Weight Watchers meetings too. Having him following the plan with me helped enormously - there is nothing worse than watching someone else eat all the delicious things while you're trying to lose weight! SmartPoints launched a couple of month after we joined, and we seemed to go from strength to strength. I was really enjoying cooking new meals, the plan was slotting perfectly into my day-to-day routine, and I was even summoning up some gym-related enthusiasm (unheard of, for this exercise-phone).

In June 2016, a week before we went on holiday, I weighed in at 13st on the nose - just 3lb above my goal weight of 12st 11lb. I know that sounds like a lot to some people, but at just shy of 6ft tall, any less and I would quite possibly need to be hospitalised! I swore to myself I would keep it together on holiday, that I would stay the same or possibly have a teeny tiny gain, but I would be right back on it when we got home.

Clearly, that did not happen.

Anyone who has ever been to the West Country will know that a holiday there is a bit like living in a real-life food heaven for a week. Delicious, creamy fudge, in every flavour imaginable. Huge fluffy scones served with lashings of clotted cream and sweet, tangy local jam. Fish and chips, doused in salt and vinegar and eaten at the seaside. Freshly churned ice cream, that is then topped with a dollop of clotted cream for good measure. Cornish pasties, piping hot from the oven, eaten from the packet overlooking Padstow Harbour. All washed down with plenty of red wine. Because holiday.

Yeah, I gained a lot of weight that week. A lot.

Which would have been fine, had I been able to get back on it when we got home. But I didn't. I tried of course, my good intentions lasted for a day or two, sometimes a week, before I found myself shovelling chocolate or ice cream or chips or pizza into my greedy gob. The weight crept on, a pound at a time, and I kidded myself that it would be fine, I'd get back on track next week. Then next week would be upon us, and lo and behold, there I was. Still eating. 

Before I knew it it was December, and I had been off the wagon for six months. Everyone knows that trying to eat healthily in the month of December is a bit like trying to lick your elbow while riding a flying pig across Mordor in a snowstorm. Add into the equation a week in New York, and yeah...December was never going to be a good weight loss month. 

We celebrated our engagement at the end of December pretty hard, with lots of Prosecco and meals out with friends and family. Again, I promised myself that I would get back on track 'next week'. But it's now April and I still haven't managed a full week on track in Christ only knows how long. My weight has crept back up to over 14st 7lb. Knowing that I am now closer to 15st than 14st seems to have given me the kick I needed, and I'm feeling re-focussed for the first time in almost a year. Easter weekend is the perfect time to start eating healthily, right!?

So far I am all tracked for the last couple of days (including a delicious Thai meal last night for Pete's 30th birthday!) and I've even gone so far as to take my measurements for a bit of extra motivation. And...I took some photos!

There is no way to make that muffin top look attractive, but hey, there it is. Hopefully having these will give me a bit of a boost and will give me something to look back on in a few months time when I look like Jennifer Lawrence. Or something.

Friday, 24 March 2017

It's been a while...

So, urm, hi! It's been a while...three and a half years to be exact.

Those of you who are reading this, I can assume one of two things...either you're extremely loyal, or you forgot to remove me from your blog reader. Either way, I'm grateful you're still here!

I've been toying with the idea of resurrecting this blog for a long time now. When I stopped writing here, back in September 2013, it was with the intention of writing somewhere else instead. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts at starting a new blog, but it never felt quite the same as writing here. So I stopped writing for myself altogether, and I've missed it. Over the last few months especially, I've often felt the urge to record the things that are happening in my life, but with no blog to write those posts have gone unwritten. And while it's no great loss to the internet not to have my ramblings splashed all over it, it would have been nice to be able to look back at them myself.

And so, here I am! Resurrecting A Little Less of Lauren after quite the sabbatical. A lot has happened in my life since I last wrote here. Sadly (!), I do not have time to write three and a half years worth of backdated posts. Also my memory kind of sucks, so I don't think there'd be much point even if I did. I'll just give you the cliff notes...

I met a boy. Actually, I met him just before I stopped writing here, in July 2013. His name is Pete, and we were introduced by my best friend Katie in the run-up to her wedding. Things moved fairly quickly after that, and after not-quite-a year of long-distance I moved 100 miles from Essex to Lincolnshire to live with him. Two days before our first anniversary, we welcomed a new addition to our family...

Her name is Harper, and she's a Tibetan Terrier. These days she looks more like this:

I also changed my job, but after six months of struggling to drum up any sort of enthusiasm for it, I realised it wasn't for me. Instead of continuing in a job that made me miserable (and was ultimately REALLY bad for my mental health), I stepped away and instead set up my own business.

Throughout all of this my weight has fluctuated. I'm still well below where I started all those years ago, but I'm not where I want to be, either. In October 2015 I was closing in on 16st again. I rejoined a local Weight Watchers meeting (after all, if it ain't broke!) and was within 5lb of my goal weight by the following June. I lost focus again after that, and it begin creeping back on yet again

Fortunately, I have a new reason to get motivated...

Pete got down on one knee and asked me to marry him during a cold and blustery walk on Dartmoor on 26th December 2016. Our date is set for 6th October 2018, a little over 18 months from now - giving us plenty of time to plan our perfect day, and enough time for me to kick my own backside into shape. Dress shopping appointments have been made for May and June, which means I have a couple of months to make a dent in my gain of recent months. I'm feeling motivated and I'm even enjoying my visits to the gym, which is a first for me!

I've come to the conclusion that trying to summarise an entire three and a half years of your life in one blog post is not the easiest thing in the world, so I will leave it there for now. I can't wait to share the next part of my journey with you all! 

Lauren xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Signing Off.

Those of you still reading this...hello. It's been a while - as I'm sure you've noticed.

I can't really put into words a valid reason for my extended absence from the blogging world. Things got a little weird for a while, and after a few weeks it seemed like too long to saunter back in as if nothing had happened. So I stayed away...then I stayed away a bit longer. And then, before I knew it, it had been four months.

I think part of the reason is that I no longer feel that I have so much of a connection with this blog. A Little Less Of Lauren will always have a big piece of my heart. It was my introduction to blogging, a labour of love that was borne of the encouragement of one friend and a burning desire to put into words how it felt to go from morbidly obese to healthy. Over time this blog became a great source of motivation and courage. It has been responsible for opportunities that I would never otherwise have had. It introduced me to people that I would not otherwise have met. To this day, the wit, intelligence, creativity and strength of the blogging community humbles and astounds me.

So while I feel like the time is right to say goodbye to A Little Less Of Lauren, I'm not quite ready to bow out of the blogosphere (God I hate that word).

You can now find me blogging at A Lauren To Herself. A Little Less Of Lauren struggled to make the transition from student weight loss to 'suddenly I have more than essays and my weight to worry about', but I'm hoping that my new blog will fare better. I'm sure there will still be the occasional weight loss post (me still being something of a heifer, and all that) but I'm not planning for this blog to be quite so niche. I'll never be a fully fledged beauty, fashion or lifestyle blogger, but I'll share tidbits of what I'm getting up to every now and again and probably some pictures of cats as well. A Lauren To Herself is still under construction at the moment, but I'd love to see you over there so feel free to pop over and say hello!

Before I sign off for the final time, I just want to say, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has read, commented, tweeted or emailed over the last three years. You guys were instrumental in my success, and I really can't tell you what your support means to me. I can only hope that my new blog has as many wonderfully kind and supportive followers as this one has had.

With all my love and gratitude as always,
Lauren xxx

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Day 21: A blast from the past

I've got to admit, when I saw today's topic I was a bit 'meh'...having spent the last hour or so reading back over past posts however, my mind had been well and truly changed. I won't lie, I even got a tad emotional in (quite a few) places - maybe this Ice Queen aint quite so frosty after all.

So, without further ado, some of my favourite past posts -

A Lesson in Self-Worth

Love The Skin You're In

Food Porn and the Toxic Environment

Here's to you, 2012

Part of where I'm going, is knowing where I'm coming from

Class of 2012

In Five Years Time

The Princesses and the Playsuit

My Embarrassing Fat Body

Enjoy ;)

With all my love,
Lauren xx

Monday, 20 May 2013

Blog Every Day In May - Day 20

I most certainly dropped the ball on the Blog Every Day In May challenge last week - for this I offer my apologies! I had an extremely busy couple of days followed by a couple of extremely 'can't be bothered days' - I was considering trying to catch up with all the posts but I think instead of that I will just start afresh from today, and try to keep up.

So, day 20: Get real. Write about something you're struggling with right now.

Ok, I can do that. Be warned though, its not going to be pretty.

It's no secret that I suffer from depression. I've written about it on here several times, and alluded to it many more. It's not something I write about with alarming frequency, partly because I don't want to come off as being all 'woe is me, look how terrible my life is' (it isn't), and partly  because I don't want a medical condition to define my life and what I do with it. And ok, partly because I'm embarrassed.

I've suffered from depression, to the best of my calculations, since I was about 15 - possibly younger. 15 was the age at which I became aware of being 'a bit different' - a bit more melancholy, a bit more analytical, a bit...angrier, than my peers.  Of course the word 'depression' wasn't really part of my vocabulary at that age - I just thought that was how I was built. It wasn't until I got to university that I was diagnosed with depression, and even then it wasn't a conclusion I came to on my own. I went to the doctor with extreme fatigue. By this point I'd already joined Weight Watchers and had lost a couple of stone. My mind made the connection between the weight loss and feeling worse - but it didn't quite figure out that the reason was because I was no longer self-medicating with food. After a chat with my doctor about my options, I was prescribed a course of antidepressants - which I didn't take - and referred for counselling - which I didn't attend. I didn't want to be labelled as depressed. I didn't want to take pills or go to counselling or be 'that girl'. I was adamant that I'd be ok. I'd be ok once I'd lost the weight, I'd be ok once my exams were done, I'd be ok, I'd be ok, I'd be ok.

That was towards the end of my first year at university. My second year was worse. Far, far worse. I didn't like my course, I didn't like the majority of my housemates, and I definitely didn't like myself. I was angry all the time. I wouldn't leave my room for days - and if I did I timed it so that I wouldn't have to speak to anyone else in the house. On the rare occasions that I went out I got hideously, embarrassingly drunk. I started regaining weight. It was a bad, bad time. I never ever planned to hurt myself in any way, but I was in a bad place. I saw a tv ad, one of those road safety ones in which a teenager gets knocked down and killed, and I thought to myself 'if I got hit by a car and killed tomorrow it wouldn't really bother me'. I made a doctors appointment for that afternoon.

This time I did everything right. I took the tablets, I went to the counselling sessions. I started losing weight and exercising again. Gradually I started enjoying things again. Under my doctors advice I took the antidepressants for well over a year - a few months for them to take effect, and a year feeling 'stable' on them. Just before Easter last year my doctor advised that I start coming off them - gradually. My dose was decreased every month for three months until I stopped taking them. This coincided with my final exams, graduation and starting full time work.

With hindsight, it was a stupid move. In a time of great upheaval, the last thing I should have done was stop taking them. I queried it when my doctor suggested it, but you just sort of go with it, don't you? I mean, they're doctors. They know what their talking about. I should have insisted I stay on them until I was settled. Everyone has 20-20 hindsight, right? And in fairness, I was ok. A few mopey days here and there, but overall it was fine. Towards the end of October I started feeling the familiar pangs - what I can only describe as a sense of hopelessness, and the inability to see the point in anything. I attributed it to being bored with my job and having a lacklustre social life. It wasn't until early February that I finally realised it was happening again, and that something needed to be done. So on Valentine's Day (and they say romance is dead) and had a very frank discussion with her about where I was at and what was bothering me. And I mean, very frank. We're talking home life, work life, sex life, the lot. She told me what I already knew - that there is no logical reason for me to be depressed. I had a happy and stable childhood, in spite of my parents divorcing when I was nine. I was well cared for and well provided for. I've never been abused or assaulted or neglected. I've never lost a parent, or sibling, or child, or spouse. I have a stable job, a good education, I'm in good health. My life isn't perfect, but by any standard it's pretty damn good. There is not, nor has there ever been, any external reason for me to be in top third of the depression scale.

Internally, it's a completely different story. Because my depression isn't caused by a traumatic event. It is, quite simply, a chemical imbalance in the brain. A chemical imbalance that is genetic and that is never, ever going to go away. Sure it can be treated. I can be made to feel better with drugs and counselling and cuddles (never underestimate the power of the hug). A healthy lifestyle will ease the symptoms, but they will never truly go away.

I was told there and then by my doctor that she was happy to put me back on antidepressants, but it would be under the assumption that I would be on them for the long term - possibly for life. Alternatively she told me to work through some of the stresses in my life to see if that improved how I felt about things generally. I took the latter option, still terrified of spending the rest of my life dependent on the little white pills. Still not wanting to be cast as 'that girl'. Still desperately trying to believe that if I could make everything in my life perfect then it would all go away. So I dealt with the stresses - I got organised at work and reduced my stress there, I got my finances sorted, I spent a long time chatting with my mum about the way things were at home, I had the dreaded 'relationship' conversation with the boy. Three out of four of these things went my way - the final one threw me for a little while, but I'm getting there. Slowly.

I gave it three months. Nobody can say that I didn't try, because I did. I had the conversations I didn't want to have and I dealt with the consequences - one of which being the end of a fledgling relationship. I know that part of the issue was him, but if I hadn't pushed, if I'd let it run its course, things may have been different. He wasn't ready for there to be 'labels and expectations', and I'm too neurotic and insecure for there not to be. It's that simple.

I gave it my best, like I try to do with everything. Eventually I had to accept that it wasn't going to be enough, and I'm struggling with that.

I'm struggling with the knowledge that there's something wrong with me - that there's a part of my brain that just doesn't work the way everyone else's does. I'm struggling with the fact that, to all intents and purposes, I am broken. That all the weight loss, all the dream jobs, all the fantastic friends, all the wonderful family, all the kings horses and all the kings men aren't going to be able to put poor little Lauren's brain back together again.

I'm scared of what this means for the future, because people don't like the depressed girl. They like the happy-go-lucky, bubbly, perky girl, and that is never going to be me. I'm scared of how I'll cope - not only with work but with life in general. How will I manage if, god forbid, I should lose someone close to me? How will I manage if and when the time comes to have a baby? Am I going to be one of those mothers crippled by PND, unable to bond and resenting her kids? Am I even going to be able to have kids - am I going to meet someone who is willing to take on all the stuff that comes with this problem?

How am I going to explain it to people? How am I supposed to look people in the eye, people who have gone through far worse things than I ever have, and tell them that I'm depressed?

So yes, I'm struggling. I'm also angry. I'm angry at myself for being like this, and at whatever genetic anomaly it is that has resulted in me feeling this way. I'm angry that I have to remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life, instead of just being able to appreciate them. I'm angry that my options are either medication or a constant, oppressive feeling of hopelessness. I get to decide between Prozac or a life spent wondering 'what's the point?'. Lucky me. I'm angry, and sad, that part of this problem is the constant over-analysis of everything. Everything is a puzzle to be solved. A conversation is obsessed over, a sideways glance from a stranger on the train is picked apart and examined for every possible meaning. It's exhausting and it's maddening and it doesn't endear me to myself or anyone else. And knowing that it's not going to get better, that this is what my life will be...that's what I'm struggling with.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Day In The Life

Day 15: A day in the life (include photos from throughout your typical day - 
this could be 'a photo an hour' if you'd like)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

'A picture is worth a thousand words, but memories are priceless.'

Whenever there is talking of missing something, I always find my mind drifting to a certain time, a certain group of friends, a certain set of memories that evoke a smile at almost the same time as this weird panging feeling I get in my chest. I can never really decide if that time was a good one or a bad one. One thing is for sure - it definitely wasn't boring.

I'm talking, of course, about the teen years. Specifically the latter part of my teen years, from 16-19. It's no secret that I was a complete monster when I was younger (blame it on the hormones) and I gave my parents no end of stress. I've said before that I think I was suffering from depression even then, a theory corroborated by my doctor last week - but that's a post for another time. I see this period of time as sort of a transitional 16 I was a nightmare, but by the time I left for university just after my 19th birthday I'd managed to screw my head on a little better. I was no longer as aggressive and hostile and just generally unhappy as I had been. For the most part, anyway.

You might be wondering why I would choose this period of time as the time that I miss, when I was perhaps finding things difficult. And I won't lie, there were times when things were pretty damn bad. Even with the depression, and the added difficulty of a fairly volatile relationship (I once smashed his face into a car bonnet during an argument - ahh the folly of youth) I still mostly remember all the wonderful things that happened during that time. I had a brilliant group of friends, and I often feel sad that I'm no longer as close with any of them. I was top of my game academically, being one of the very few big fish in the small pond that was my under-achieving comprehensive secondary school and sixth form college. I went to local gigs, drank pints of snakebite and smoked endless Mayfairs, dressed up in ridiculous fancy dress costumes for Halloween, had my tongue, lip and nosed pierced, got both my tattoos, dyed my hair all manner of ridiculous colours - then cut it all off. I had house parties - house parties that have gone down as friendship group legends. I flirted with the boy who worked in the Gadget Shop, then wrote my number on the back of a receipt and gave it to him. He took me to see the Simpson's Movie and bought me a Peanut Butter and Oreo milkshake from Shake About. I spent hours and hours hanging out in skate parks, in the woods, in fields, basically anywhere and every teenagers go with their friends when they're at that age - that age when huddling under a half-pipe in the freezing cold and rain is a more appealing thought than sitting at home. I went on nights out with a fiver in my purse and a bottle of vodka stashed in my bag. I thought I was so painfully cool with my piercings and my converse and my angsty on-off relationship. I mentioned he was in a band, right? Yep. Drummer. I mean, it would have been cooler if he'd been the guitarist or lead singer of course, but still. He was in a band. And he had his own car. And his parents had a swimming pool. I basically thought I was the coolest person on earth.

Those were good times - much simpler times. When you're sixteen you think everything is the end of the world, that every drama is going to ruin your life and that nobody on earth has ever felt this way about anything or anyone ever before. And to be honest, I still feel like that now - it's just not as easy to get away with when you're in your twenties. I'm not sure when or even how it happened, but at some point it stopped being acceptable to be flighty and impulsive. To be overly emotional, to throw things at people, to spend hours doing nothing just 'because'. It's no longer ok for me to come home with grass stains on my jeans. Strongbow is no longer the right thing for me to drink. Now I drink wine or gin and tonic or fancy cocktails that I can't pronounce the names of. I am no longer allowed to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Now, at not-even-23, it is no longer ok for me to like the boy that works in the Gadget Shop. Now I have to like the advertising exec, the banker, the insurance broker. When did that happen? When did which boy I like stop depending on a cute smile and start depending on their career prospects? When did it stop being ok for me to cry for absolutely no reason at all, which at the time felt like all the reasons in the world?
I am a woman now - a grown woman with a career, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how that happened.
I miss that time. I miss being a teenager. I miss being allowed to be angsty and angry and volatile. I miss having that 'get out of jail free' card that comes hand in hand with the hormones. I miss spending entire weekends raking the streets, traipsing around shopping centres, sneaking into pubs and clubs with fake IDs. I miss laughing over ridiculous things that I cannot for the life of me remember now. I miss whispering secrets to my best friend. I miss milkshake dates and that first day of summer feeling, when six weeks seems like an eternity and a heartbeat all at once, when you know that no matter how much you try you will never manage to do all the things you want to do but you're so excited that you don't care anyway.
And, you know what? I miss the Strongbow too.
With all my love,
Lauren xxx

Perfect 10.

Yesterday's (sorry, still playing catch-up) Blog Every Day In May topic is 'sell yourself in ten words or less' - infinitely harder than 'describe yourself' or 'sum yourself up'. If I'm selling myself, these all need to be positive traits...or at least be traits I can put a positive spin on. Right?

Ok, here goes...

Insightful. Determined. Compassionate. Eloquent. Communicative. Independent. Supportive. Analytical. Protective. Funny.
So what do you think? Would you buy me? ;)
Which ten words would you use to sell yourself?
With love,
Lauren xxx