The next step on my journey

Although I didn’t expect to learn much through doing my fibro awareness posts, I have. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in contact and chatted to other sufferers and it’s been a bit of an eye opener. It’s made to realise and come to terms with the fact that part of the reason I always feel so rushed, panicked and like nothing is getting done properly is because I’m trying to live a life which would be very busy without any illnesses, let alone someone with CFS and fibromyalgia. It’s not giving up to admit that and neither is tailoring my life so I’m not stuck in a cycle of depravation- always over-doing it, paying the costs and then being frustrated because I can never sustain a schedule.

Things have got to change. Part of that was actually writing down my “ideal” schedule- exactly what I would want to achieve everyday or every week- it was ridiculous so I’ve put some stuff on the backburner for now instead of trying to do everything at once. In honesty, that wasn’t enough, even after I cut out as much as possible, it was still obvious that I would still be doing too much. I had to make some tough decisions in reducing my work load in EVERY area of my life, including this blog. I have never been able to post as much as I always planned to on this blog and by rushing posts, I have sometimes compromised quality (if I’m honest)- re-reading some of my earlier posts made that obvious to me. I am, therefore, cutting back the features on this blog to what I think are the best parts and you may be seeing a few less posts on here but I promise to make them really good. I really hope my readership doesn’t go down as a result of these choices, I love each and every comment and subscription. It is a great moment in every bloggers life when someone signs up to be notified when a new post is published. It’s even greater to look back over the first year of blogging and realise how much more successful your blog is than you’d hoped and how it has grown.

Part of being a good blogger/writer is knowing what works and what doesn’t so I won’t be posting any more film reviews or sports time posts regularly, I will, however, be leaving the pages up so you can access old posts and I won’t completely close the door on the possibility of the occasional post in these areas.

And, I will be adding a new feature- inspiration of the month. Every month I will be choosing a person who inspires me and I’ll write a post on them and why they inspire me. If you know someone inspirational who deserves to be honoured then please contact me on the email address below- I am open to all submissions.

As you read in an earlier post, I launched my own small business this summer (eek!) called Pandora’s Box. In brief, Pandora’s Box grew out of the home-made posts on this blog. More and more I’ve realised my passion for vintage/retro items and remaking old things into new is something I want to share. Vintage shops and markets can be really expensive and so can handmade products so part of what I do is making sure all my products are really affordable, meaning that my products are cheap but I don’t make a huge profit but I’m ok with that for now. I love individual things but my flat is small and I can’t fit it all in so I’m happy to pass on vintage finds and home-made treats to happy customers. You can find out more about it and view items on the page here. I will post updates here on my blog for you to see and if there is anything which you love in a home-made post but for whatever reason don’t make yourself, you can request me to make it for you in the comments section on the post or on the Pandora’s Box page.

Related to this, as part of the Etsy community, I come across other great and very talented sellers- look out for posts for my favourite Etsy finds.

Most of all, I’d really like to take on guest posts, I welcome any and every proposal so whatever you feel you might want to put on screen and have published here, you can get in touch with me by email:

Thank you loyal readers,

Katie x

Hi I’m Katie and I am addicted to stationery

PaperJunkie sell beautiful, unique journals in their Etsy store, click on the picture for a link

Does your heart beat a bit faster when you enter a stationery store? Are you filled with the hope when beginning a new notebook? Is there always some form of paper and writing implement in your bag? If you answered yes to these questions, you are not alone…

At any given moment there will between 3-7 brand new notebooks in my desk drawer. I have about 70 filled notebooks, having kept a journal since I was about 7. When I saw a post on Freshly Pressedwith a similar title to this post my boyfriend’s first words were “I bet you have way more notebooks”. The comments showed that I was not alone in my weird obsession with stationery. Other people are filled with excitement when they enter Paperchase and have spent more than they should admit on a notebook. This knowledge has only encouraged me so when I needed a new diary this month you can imagine the perils of my Internet shopping- Filofax or Moleskine? A pocket size would take up much less room in my handbag but where would I keep flyers, letters, invitations? I have managed to customise my own perfect (or so I hope) organisational system while Paul is content to simply use his iPhone (an idea that fills me with horror). I am safe in the truth that I can attribute this weird fascination to a writer’s trait, and maybe someday someone will publish my journals and people will love to read them,

Da Vinci kept journals on a variety of different subjects

just like Da Vinci. Or perhaps there will be some national emergency which only my meticulously organised diary can save… I think that latter is more likely. But for now we will no longer hide, stationary lovers will stand side by side shamelessly and we will freely check paper quality and circle around a store several times until we decide on which overpriced notebook to buy. Do not be afraid my comrades. Vive la revolution!

What are your favourite notebooks? What do you use them for?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

I have just begun reading A Novel in a Yearby Louise

Which route will you choose?

Doughty. It’s been a dream of mine for a good few years to become a writer, although I am fully aware there are millions, probably billions of other writers with the same dream. Agents and publishers get thousands of manuscripts a year, assuming you even get to the stage where you finish a manuscript. In the introduction of the book Doughty admits that it took her 10 years to become a published author. She wrote two full manuscripts and began several other novels before she wrote the manuscript that would be published. At that point I pretended to shoot myself in the head. The worst thing for aspiring novelists to hear is that there is a very strong possibility that the “genius” idea they have in their heads will never sit on a shelf in Waterstones. It takes so much effort, time and even a blood to finish a full novel, it’s painful enough to have to edit and cut huge parts of that manuscript, but to do all that, only to have it go unread, that’s hard to swallow. That’s why, for Doughty, the most important question that any aspiring writer must ask themself is – what are you willing to sacrifice? That’s a question anyone who has a dream, big or small must ask themselves. The harsh truth is that what holds people back most is themselves. For most people there are tons of reasons not to take a risk in order to achieve what they want, but some people give it a go anyway.

I have great role models in my parents, when they were into 40s they decided they would take a risk and try to train for jobs they wanted. It’s not an easy choice to try to live off a student loan when you have a mortgage to pay and two children. They had to travel over an hour to and from the University they studied at, take out a loan, but most of all, for my dad there was the huge risk of his health. My dad has several ailments which had destroyed his life, prevented him for working (and caused huge financial difficulties), meant he couldn’t be the father he wanted to be, and had to be cared for like a toddler by my mum.  He risked the years and years he had spent trying to get better, he could easily have lost of all the progress he had worked so hard for after only attempting a full-time course for a few weeks. On top of that, his illnesses made study incredibly hard, the bound copy of his thesis which sits on their bookshelf, is representative of the hours and hours and hours more time he spent working on it than his counter-parts because he was unable to type and held back by severe dyslexia. Somehow my parents found the courage to do it anyway. My dad set up his own business, and keeps it going despite the amount of pain he is in, I have no idea how he gets out of bed in the morning. The only conclusion I can come to is that they wanted it bad enough. They could have listed the gazillion reasons not to follow their dreams, it would have been easy for my dad to simply give up and not want to fight to get better and back into work, but he did it.

Is there a dream or ambition you have? Why aren’t you trying to follow it?

Pancakes and hairdryers

It just turned midnight on Shrove Tuesday which means that for most of us, we are stuffed all the way up to the tippy top with pancakes. Shrove Tuesday is paradoxical, it brings two things- an excuse to gorge on pancakes and an attempt at self-control. By the time Ash Wednesday rolls around, most of us have already broken our new year’s resolutions. In the last few weeks springtime has crept up on Cardiff, making my friends and I feeling a bit fresher and lighter. The feeling of new-ness turns our attention into thinking about all the great ambitions we had made in January. Even if you are not religious, lent is an opportunity to test yourself. It need not just be about restriction though, lent can provide an opportunity to take up a good habit.

You could try eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day or start exercising. If you’re a writer then lent is a really good motivation to start writing for 5 or 10 minutes a day. Or, maybe you could finally start that hobby you’ve been planning on.

When I was trying to think up ideas of what to give up for lent, I came across an ehow article which gave some good hints. If you’re stuck for ideas then try thinking about giving up an activity, maybe watching telly or checking Facebook. I know someone who gave up shopping for non-necessity things- that is a toughie. Or you could try swapping, so you could watch half an hour less of telly or using the internet and spend that time reading a novel.

Whatever you pick, do something which will actually challenge you. I tried to give up chocolate many times. One year I did finally manage to achieve what many had thought impossible- I have to say, I did feel pretty good. If you manage to stick to lent, then you do get a feeling of self-achievement. And, if you give up chocolate, you have a reason to eat lots of Easter eggs come Easter Sunday. This year I am going to give up all electrical hair stylers- my straightners, my hair dryer and my curling tongs, in the hope that my hair might actually recover a bit from years and years of daily being twisted, pulled and generally burnt.

What are you going to give up?