Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Busy week. Such a busy week. Urgh. So little home time/down-time/lone-time. That said, Tuesday I did spend the whole evening on the sofa with a cold so that kinda counts as downtime?

  • Went to a very low-key hen-do last Friday evening. We hadn’t really sorted out what we doing for food so I just swung by the supermarket and picked up a bottle of Proseco and a bunch of picnic foods before heading to the hen’s house. I love feeding people, it’s a natural desire and way that I show I care for them, so to do so for the hen and a few of her friends for the same price I might have spent on my own meal if we’d gone out was wonderful. I didn’t drink, so I was able to buy a friend a drink and also contribute to covering the hen’s ticket to the club we visited. It was a wonderful evening, full of open-hearted, kind and generous women that I hadn’t met before.
  • I had a college class on Saturday, to which we were instructed to bring food to share. I took home everything I had brought which hadn’t been eaten, and despite it being a bit sweaty from being out all day, I made it into my dinner. And I took home some chicken that no one else wanted and fed it to our cat, to make up for giving her the worming treatment she was due! Next time I want to make something to take though, cheaper than just buying things at the supermarket.
  • Cleaned the house on Sunday, and we are finally seriously looking for tenants. My partner is doing all the leg work, and I am very appreciative.
  • Taking food for Fridays long car journey, and coffee – this time with a decent cup so it doesn’t just taste of plastic!
  • We are doing a mini festival this weekend but I will be cooking breakfast and packing lunch food so hopefully just three hot meals to buy. The lack of washing facilities just makes real cooking very unappealing.

Frugal fail: need to get a handle on my Monday afternoon/evening eating, the second job and dance class is just making it so hard not to buy and comfort eat.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Thoughts from Therapy – Loneliness and Friendships

Therapy has been a bit on and off these last few weeks, as my therapist has been away training. I have to admit to feeling a bit let down, honestly, as most of two weeks has passed between sessions and lots of things have come up which I would really like to have had the chance to reflect on in a session.

This, and a few other things, have highlighted how lonely I feel down here. I’ve fallen out of contact with friends I had in London, and I definitely feel some resentment there. I feel like I made some effort to stay in touch, travelling to London a few times and contacting them to meet up, but it hasn’t felt like anyone wanted to keep in touch much. I guess we were never that close, but even in the absence of real closeness, casual contact and meeting and shooting the breeze is still something I miss. At the moment I don’t have anyone down here that I could just ring and ask to the pub. I mean, I rarely feel the urge, but a few times this week a day has been tough and the prospect of talking about nothing over a pint has really appealed.

I have definitely missed meeting my therapist, and whilst some of that is down to our specific relationship, some of it is just feeling lonely in general. I wonder if part of what I do in our sessions, raising things I have struggled with in the past week/am struggling with, I could do just as easily with a good friend. But how do you find someone like that? So many people my age are preoccupied with raising children, or working jobs which I find frankly mind-bogglingly boring or pointless. How do I meet people who have a similar moral/ethical perspective, are intelligent and emotionally mature?

And in writing that, I’ve realised this is probably the same problem that a lot of middle-aged folk have when they’re trying to find a partner. And I definitely have a new-found sense of sympathy with that!

I guess part of the problem is that I’m not very average. I’m not going to find people who I gel with very often, because my interests and my ethics and my passions are not common. People also worry I’m judging them, and I’m not, I’m just disagreeing with them, but when I use evidence to back up my opinions and I’m usually articulate, I think that can be really intimidating. Actually, sometimes even having an opinion seems to put people’s backs up, like I’m supposed to just blandly clap from the background whenever people say something.

I know I do have good friends, scattered around the country, but I could really do with some local ones. Though right this minute is probably not a brilliant time to be looking for new friends, let’s be honest. I’m emotionally vulnerable, occasionally sad and sometimes prickly. But on the flip side, part of that is down to feeling lonely, and the only way to deal with that is to try and form friendships.

It’s just hard to know where to start. Neither job has introduced me to people I feel any closeness to, though part of that might be my mindset – I suspect that I throw out some serious barriers. That’s great for seeming professional, but I wonder if I’m missing the chance to form closer relationships with some of the many intelligent people I meet and work with in my primary job. I’m not sure how one goes about changing the barrier issue really, but I deeply suspect it has a lot to do with actually being myself. I’m really good at being pleasant, friendly, and listening to people. But to get that closer connection I’m missing I need to share my passions, to let my emotions show and to risk some vulnerability.

I think that might really be the key. In the past few years I’ve gotten so  good at boarding over my real self, in the pursuit of not offending people and not making people feel like I was getting angry at them, that I’ve pretty much stopped showing them any substantial emotion at all. I mean, I had gotten to the point where I was pretty much avoiding outwardly experiencing much in the way of emotion at all. In light of that, it’s not surprising that I didn’t keep that many of my London friends. They must have experienced me as blank and unengaged, even whilst I was saying all the right things. I guess the change was so slow no one noticed it, because I wasn’t always like this, I know.

So maybe instead of looking for new friends, I should think about repairing things with a few of my older friends. There are people local who I’ve fallen out of contact with, a little. We were never close, but how could we if I wasn’t being close to almost anyone anyway? That’s not repairing then, but building a real relationship from scratch, for the first time. It feels like something that’s worth a try, at least. Maybe it’ll just end up being a loose collection of friends who rely on me to organise pub trips and food – I’ve been there before – but in some ways even that would be good right now, I think.

Thanks for listening. Turns out, even blogging can be a reasonable stand-in for a therapy session. Writing to strangers on the internet is surprisingly relieving experience. Give it a try, if you feel lonely, and maybe let me know how it feels? I’ll be down here on the coast, taking old friends for a drink in pursuit of new friendships.


Thoughts from Therapy – Loneliness and Friendships

The Sunday Read – Being Blind in Your Mind

A friend linked to the following article today: How it Feels to be Blind in Your Mind.

It’s quite a long article (particularly for a Facebook post!) but it’s a fascinating glimpse into the experience of someone who doesn’t experience, or store, visual images. He doesn’t dream in images, doesn’t remember musical refrains, can’t visualise himself sitting on a beach or hear a tune in his mind. Apparently upwards of 2% of humans might have this ‘aphantasia’.

I’d recommend anyone read it, because it’s a great insight into a particular way of being. In addition, it’s funny and absorbing, particularly when you realise the author himself only just realised that the vast majority of the world can do this thing he can’t. It’s easy to get set in your ways of thinking – to think that aspects of life and experience are ubiquitous and just ‘part of being human’. But then I realise there are plenty of people out there who talk like me, look like me, have a vast wealth of shared history with me, but who experience and react to the world in a radically different way.

Take a look at the article, I hope you enjoy it and get the same sense of wonder and fascination as I did.

The Sunday Read – Being Blind in Your Mind

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Late again. This Friday I found myself a rather occupying task at work, met my partner for lunch out, and then dashed off to a hen-do, so not much time for blog posts. All round a really busy week, and more to come, so I’m concentrating on finding what down-time I can at home!

  • Stayed in all of last weekend, and worked on the house, so I didn’t spend any money or use any petrol.
  • Finally finished making new curtains! We have a huge window, and a few months ago the curtains died (shredded themselves in the washing machine). Since the cost of buying new curtains of sufficient size is something more than £200 (!), I knew I’d be making them myself…but it’s taken a few months to actually find the time to do it. I even managed to use up the old hooks from the previous curtains and 6m of material from the stash.
  • Finally got supervision at my second job, so that’ll be an extra hour of pay as well as finally getting a bunch of problems (contract, holiday hours, procedures etc) sorted for a happier and safer work environment.
  • Took plenty of food and drink so that I could have dinner during the break at my evening College course on Thursday, and resisted the siren call of the cafeteria’s baked goods.
  • Didn’t get take out, even though feeling motivated to eat has been a real challenge this last week or so.

As ever, this post is inspired by Katy’s blog and her fascinating readers.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Only one day late… But yes! This week was okay. I mean, not brilliant – I would like to buy less snack food/emotional food and coffee, but I do at least try not to get take-away coffee cups. Small victories. Turns out most of the 7 million used and thrown away in the UK just go into landfill, as they are so difficult to recycle. Sad times.

  • Took home a bunch of left-overs from my second job on Monday evening, including some cheap burgers which should have been frozen but which were rapidly defrosting. Two surprise lunches for my partner.
  • Took dinner and snacks to College on Thursday night, even including the unattractive pasta I made on Wednesday night. Forgot to bring anything caffeinated, which is rather a necessity by 8pm when you’re trying to stay focussed and engaged, but when I went to buy coffee I got the opportunity to buy a new class mate a coffee too, which was nice.
  • Didn’t give in to the desire for coffee from the cafe at work, or food, even though I was craving both a bit. It helps that the cafe is so disappointing. Instead, drank cafetière coffee I made myself every morning (not a real hardship in the scheme of things!)
  • Didn’t have takeaway yesterday evening, even though I was really hungry and really turned-off almost every food I could think of. Did drive to a supermarket and buy food, but in the end I spent the same and will have multiple meals of much less unhealthy food.
  • The boss from my primary job let me have the day off on Wednesday without having to take annual leave (I will make up the hours this month on other days), and I used it to go to training for my secondary job – which will pay me for being there. I mean, it’s only £24 gross, but hey, that’s extra cash at the end of the month.

As ever, this post is inspired by Katy and the amazing people who participate in her Frugal Fives.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Where are the links?

What is it with blogs these days? Many of them seem very focussed on the ‘brand’ or the blogger themselves. I like the trend towards toned down, greys and whites and limited visual excess on webpages (as you can probably guess), but one thing I really don’t like is the lack of live links to other pages.

Where are the links? Go back five years and ever blog had a little sidebar with a list of the blogger’s favourite links – usually other blogs. These days? All the blogs I’m following (Simplicity/Minimalism mostly) don’t have a single link to a fellow blogger. What on earth is that about? I can see why you don’t want a clutter-y side-bar, but I’ve had a hunt around and there isn’t even a page of links hidden away somewhere.

For me, blogging has always been about community. And not just ‘building’ a community on your page – using your blogging to be a participant in a wider community. A community built on your shared hobbies, or interests, loves or politics or whatever. On previous blogs I was always proud to link to other blogs which inspired me, or amused me, or to which I felt some emotional or academic relationship. It was a statement of identity, of belonging, and an attempt to help readers find blogs related to mine.

All of the blogs I read now feel like end-points. They are designed to be dead-end destinations, rather than flow-through pauses on a journey of exploration. You navigate to them, and they hold you there, refusing to give you any useful directions on to similar pages. Hell, there’s at least a dozen really successful blogs doing extremely similar things in terms of minimalism and simplicity and living-with-less, and yet none of them link to each other! It’s as if readers were precious commodities that might be somehow diluted in value if they also read someone else’s blog.

It feels like a bit of a shame, though I think it’s more related to people who are into simplicity/minimalism and those who are into monetising their blogs into buisnesses – and those two groups seem to overlap rather a lot! It’s nice to note that The Bloggess still has a massive link list, though I find it odd that I like her blog so much and yet find so many of those she links to so unappealing. Though it’s worth noting that The Bloggess is still doing that thing which is so out of fashion in blogging these days – writing journal-like entries about her own life, and not those oh-so-useful ‘Ten ways to quite carbs’ link-baity posts that dominate so many otherwise very good blogs these days. I assume the two are linked, though that does give me faith that the old-fashioned personal blog can still thrive!

Thinking about all this has reminded me to get on with setting up my own link list though! I get a lot of posts through email now, but I will try and set up a list of my regular/ish reads at least. They might be of use to you… but at the very least they tell you a little more about me and the things that I care about and enjoy, which seems a good enough reason!

Edit: You can find all the links etc if you click on the menu button in the top right of this blog (the little icon of three parallel horizontal lines) and scroll down.

Where are the links?

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

What a week! I tried to do too much, caught some horrible virus and have spent the second half of the week at home from work too sick to do any of the things I had started during the first half. So frustrating! It takes quite a lot of self-control to allow myself to just sit around rest and get well, when it feels like there’s a million things I want to get on with to tidy and make-good around the home. Ah well.

  • Used my student card, which I got for booking evening classes this term, to buy my bus pass for work for the next three months, saving c.£100! I’ll really miss this when it’s gone. It’s enough to make me look at next September’s class lists, particularly as there’s a creative writing course that is basically the same cost as the money I’d save on the bus pass… so I’d be getting the course for free, pretty much!
  • Lunches from home/at home all week, which I am usually very good at anyway but definitely worth feeling good about.
  • Dragged myself to therapy even though I was pretty ill – last minute cancellation incurs a fee so why pay for something you didn’t use? It wasn’t a great session as I was so wiped out and cotton-woolly but better use it than waste the money.
  • Repainting the doors and gloss-work upstairs myself. It would never even cross my mind to pay someone to do the decorating, but I know people who do. I’m not going to lie, it would be a lot easier and quicker, and I wouldn’t have the problem I do right now of having half a door painted, plastic and tape everywhere, but no strength to finish it off. Ah well. £20 for a pot of paint is a lot cheaper than getting anyone else to do it.
  • Put out tent to dry. I love our tent, and it isn’t produced any more, so I need to look after it, and that includes drying and cleaning it between uses. I didn’t want to do it, but I made myself, even with the virus sapping my energy.

Tricky to find five this week, partly because my brain is mush, and partly because a couple of frugal fails (take away pizza a few days ago, a can of gloss paint that sucked so much it was a complete waste of money) are sapping my sense of achievement. Here’s too a better time next week!


Friday’s Green and Frugal Five