If Richard Curtis adapted my experience of this month into a romantic comedy, it could be called One Wedding and a Funeral. It would feature plenty of love, laughter and tears, without puffy dresses or patterned waistcoats.
September has brought another milestone – going back to school. I recently started the second year of my MA. This looks set to be the last autumn I spend balancing professional work and academic work (and blogging and…). I’m keen to get stuck in and appreciate the experience. Please remind me of that when I’m in the library two hours from home and it’s dark outside.
“Things are both fine and not. Beginnings and endings are happening side by side. Life is messy and important and joyous and heartbreaking.”
These words from Meg Fee sum up August for me. This month, grey days stretched into sunny evenings with people I love. I worked, rested, then became ill and played less than I would have liked to. I visited the Peak District with work friends, appreciating slow, shared meals and a break from screens.
July seems to have passed quickly, thanks to travelling, working and packing to move out next month. I’ve been chipping away at larger projects and stepping away from my laptop more often during evenings and weekends. I’m feeling focused and content.
The summer break from MA classes and essays has given me more time for personal reading. I’m enjoying Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & In Life, One Conversation at a Time. If you’re put off by the seemingly corporate title, I recommend giving it a chance. Susan Scott’s book contains reflective exercises for defining what your version of success looks like. It offers useful tools for holding necessary, thoughtful conversations with partners, managers and other key people.
I’m writing this from a chair next to an open window. The sky outside is blue, barely streaked with clouds. The nearby birds are lively and the air is fresh. I spent the long weekend in good company. As May shifts into June, it’s peaceful here.
Elsewhere, though, it’s been a chaotic month. I mentioned in January that it can be hard to reconcile difficult, world-changing events with ordinary life. When the Manchester attack happened, it felt wrong to focus on anything else. But intense observation seemed wrong too. Within minutes and during the hours that followed, tragic losses were turned into content. Circumstances no family would ever wish for were shared over and over again.
A year ago, I launched the site you’re visiting today. Over the past twelve months, I’ve written about wellness, mental health, introversion, feminism, our online lives, living with coeliac disease and more. I love using this platform to be reflective and creative.
I’m really thankful to everyone who reads, appreciates and shares these posts. I wish I could split a (gluten free) birthday cake with you all. Please let me know if you’d like me to write about a particular topic by commenting below. Alternatively, say hello on Twitter or Instagram.
Here are my ten most popular posts so far:
I’ve now finished the first year of my MA (as long as the essays I submitted are good), which is satisfying. My job is going well and I’ve got some exciting posts and articles lined up for the next month or so. I’m confirming summer plans, but fitting in plenty of rest too.
This is my first reflections / round-up post since January because of the term-time rush. Do let me know if there’s anything you’ve been thinking about, writing on or enjoying lately.
When my copy of Daisy Buchanan’s How To Be A Grown-Up arrived, I greeted the courier with an earnest thank you and excited smile. I devoured the book in a few days, marking pages as I nodded in agreement.
I have appreciated Daisy’s writing for a long time and I regularly revisit her honest, thoughtful pieces for The Pool. HTBAGU builds on Daisy’s work as a journalist, covering topics such as career decisions, anxiety, body image, sex, financial management and relationships with friends, partners and parents.
Since September, I’ve commuted from Sussex to London twice a week for classes, library sessions and meetings. I’m still not sure how anyone manages long journeys on a daily basis, but here’s a brief list of things that I find helpful.
We’ve almost arrived at the end of January – a month marked for millions by disappointment, fear and anger, as a certain someone began a certain job that he is certainly not prepared for.
Personally, this month has involved beginning a new term at work and university, adapting to a different schedule, prioritising self-care and supporting others. I’ve been quietly joyful about aspects of my own life while also occasionally overwhelmed by world events.
Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about, reading, listening to and watching during the first weeks of 2017.