It’s An Enormous Challenge

It’s An Enormous Challenge

“You have little, if any, control of thoughts or feelings. But you can exert some control as to whether or not you engage them. This sounds simple and easy, but it’s not; it’s an enormous challenge.” – Brad Stulberg


Question: How are you?

Question: How are you?

What was your answer? Many of us will say ‘fine’, even when we’re not…

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem and 9 in 10 say they have faced negative treatment from others as a result. By choosing to be open about mental health, we are all part of a movement that’s changing the conversation and ensuring that no one is made to feel isolated or alone for having a mental health problem.


Today, Thursday 1st February 2018 marks Time To Talk day – the day to get the nation talking about mental health. It’s a chance for us all to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives. It’s easy to think there’s no right place to talk about it. But the more we talk about it, the better life is for all of us.

The Wellbeing Committee I am part of at work, have decided to hold a morning and an afternoon coffee session in a relaxed chill out room within our office. Our staff will be able to gather information on mental health issues, pick up tips and support, chat with each other and/or one of the trained Mental Health First Aiders within the office. We are planning on keeping it very informal to get away from the clinical-ness that it could potentially be!

Send a text, an email, a tweet or a Facebook message, or chat to someone right now and have your conversation about mental health, don’t know how?

  1. Start Small: Many people find talking in person intimidating, and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t need to stop you from starting a conversation altogether. You could make a quick phone call, send your best mate a text, or leave a note for a parent.
  2. Find A Good Time & Place: Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic.
  3. Ask (Gentle) Questions: There are lots of misconceptions around mental illness. That means asking questions can be an important way of learning. Just remember not to get too personal, and be aware if the discussion is making someone feel uncomfortable.
  4. Be Open: Being open and honest with others can help to build trust. For example, you might choose to tell your friend something about you that they may not know. Just remember, don’t feel pressure to share anything that you are not comfortable with.
  5. Treat Them The Same: When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.

For further info and resources, please see Time To Change.

Photo/Logo: Time To Change

Resolutions – January Update

Resolutions – January Update

I wanted to round off January with an update, this blog was started with the intention of being accountable for my resolutions, so I’m going to do an update at least at the end of every month this year, including some mini goals for the month ahead.

Blogging – This is my thirteenth post, I hit my first target this month and I already have posts scheduled in going forward. Watch this space! For February I am going to try to focus on some more Parenting posts.

Meal Planning – We ordered in 6 times this month, my aim is 4 times a month. This is still an improvement on last year and will now be the benchmark going forward. We have managed to move away from the norm and tried three new dinner recipes and two new baking recipes this month which all turned out well. I have also been much more aware of our waste and have been turning leftovers into new or frozen meals for us and for our toddler. We had a chilli con carne last night, I made more than we needed earlier on in the month and froze the second batch. Defrosting the night before and reheating last night, the only ‘cooking’ was putting the rice in the rice cooker. Result! One of my new baking recipes, found via google (but can’t re-find) as I had two leftover, over ripe  bananas that I didn’t want to go to waste, was some Banana & Peanut Butter cookies, they were so yummy that they were eaten before I even got the chance to take a photo..

So here’s one that I took of some ham and veg that I was sauteing off before adding in leftover rice for a delicious, quick fried rice dish! This one was loved by everyone in the house and I have had to re do it twice this month already!


Water – I am proud to say that I have crossed off every single day in my Bullet Journal water tracker so far, I am going to continue this for February and possibly add in specific amount of glasses to drink per day for March.

My Well Being – Need to work on this more, this is the goal that I have let myself down on most this month. I also wanted to start a fitness challenge but never got round to it (ring a bell?). Need to up my game in February.

Overall I have lost 2.5kg (5.5 lbs) this month, a healthy outcome of upping my water intake and cooking more home made meals, now that can’t be a bad thing 🙂

Photo: Clare S, 2018

My Favourite Books

My Favourite Books

I adore reading, I just don’t read enough, even less now I have a toddler. We have bookcases in all rooms apart from the bathroom with more in the hallway. Storey time with my toddler is one of my favourite moments of the night, more now that he has  started to choose the books and actually stay with me and listen for the duration. I hope he takes after my love of books as his daddy isn’t interested in reading at all now! I kept most of my childhood books and already have them set up in Lucas’s room for when he’s a little older.

I find reading very satisfying and calming, getting lost in the facts of true stories or the imaginative fiction helps me de-stress and unwind from the day. I’m the type of person that will re-read my favourites over and over again, I can’t put my top four in order but they are:

Lord Of The Rings Trilogy – J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings books were my first obsession, I got the trilogy one Christmas when all my school mates were receiving their first Harry Potter book (I thought Harry Potter was ‘too childish for me’ at my grand old age of seven). I read them every night and found it so hard to put them down, I can’t remember how long they took me to complete, I had to re-read a few chapters in The Two Towers as I found that one the hardest to follow that young, but it wasn’t long. I found it hard to put them down, only giving in when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more.

The Godfather – Mario Puzo (spoiler in this paragraph if you’ve never seen or read)

It takes me longer than usual to finish a read of The Godfather than another book of the same size, but once I finish the chapter before Sonny Corleone’s death, I have to put the book down for a week or two, if I don’t carry on reading it, he won’t die, right? Once I have had enough mental preparation, I can read through and ‘kill sonny’, as I know it’s going to happen, I always feel personally responsible..

Helter Skelter, The True Story of the Manson Murders – Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter was my introduction into true crime and my only other book obsession, I’ve read other Manson books and plenty of other true crime books but nothing is as gripping as Vincent Bugliosi’s first hand account serving as the prosecutor in Manson’s trial. The book is in two parts, the crimes are described in detail first then it goes onto describe how the police, courts and prosecution managed to gather and piece together evidence to build up the case against Manson and his self described family. An amazing and interesting insight to behind the scenes, especially at that time in my life when I was completely lost and undecided in which direction to go in with regards to subjects, exams and career. Criminology was a path I was considering.

The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis

These chronicles were another childhood Christmas present, when all of the books were on the shelf next to each other the spines made a picture of Aslan. I was unaware that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was more known than the others and shocked when my friends only knew of the one book, rather than the whole set. These are my go to books when needing to read about and immerse myself with courageous thoughts and feelings, thinking about certain Aslan/C. S. Lewis quotes have helped in my real life situations.

Courage, dear heart.

Aslan/C. S. Lewis

I have to read books before watching any film/tv adaptations, I know it’s cliche, but they are genuinely always better! I hadn’t heard of The Game of Thrones before the TV series came out, so downloaded the books onto my kindle app and got reading before I started watching (I’ve finished season 5 and taking a break to watch season 2 of Stranger Things).

I have no ambitions to become a writer or an author but if I did the books I would write would need to be as influencing to people, as my favourites were to me. They would be long fiction crime/mafia novels, printed in a small type writer font on light brown pages, in small soft cover books. That’s exactly how I’d imagine the books I would write.

Prompt: Sunday Scribblings #7 – The Books I Would Write

Photo: Clare S, Nov 2017

Volunteering at The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields

Volunteering at The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to volunteer in the food kitchen at The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, a registered homeless charity in central London. I registered to participate in November last year, but 18th January was the first available slot.

The Connection helps over 4500 homeless people in London a year recover from the trauma of homelessness, located in Trafalgar Square, they work around the clock to provide immediate relief from homelessness and long term support leading to housing, work, and independence. They also have a food kitchen providing a variety of hot nutritious meals at very low prices.

I arrived just before my time slot of 11:15am and was warmly welcomed by Bruce and Debby, part of the kitchen team, who showed me the ropes. The kitchen opened for lunch service at 11:30am and I had 15 minutes to learn the menu, serving sizes, costs, token/voucher allowances, how to work the till, as well as receiving food from the kitchen and setting it up for service!

I was joined by a woman who works on the top floor of my work building, as the team that run and manage our building, provide two volunteers to The Connection every Thursday.

From open till close we had a heavy stream of clients – I had the pleasure of meeting many individuals with different stories and a massive variety of backgrounds. Some there just for warmth and a hot cup of tea or nutritious meal, others taking advantage of the showers, laundry room, telephones, PCs, assessments, in-house training, attending workshops and/or NHS medical sessions..

As we had a full on service I had no opportunities to take any photos – but I did take this one as I left…


Photos: Clare S, 2018, The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London

My Shoes

My Shoes

My favourite and most worn shoes are an old pair of black ankle boots that have been super glued more times than I can count. They’ve lasted longer than any of my other regularly worn shoes, we’re going on at least 4 years now and they were from Primark!

Prompt: Sunday Scribblings #6 – My Shoes

Photo: Clare S, 2018, London

Why I Live Where I Live

Why I Live Where I Live

Why do you live where you live?

It’s quite simple really, this is where my mum’s family moved to after my Granddad retired from the army, before that they moved around with him to various bases in the U.K. and overseas. My Granddad, being the hard worker that he was, started working again and was able to live in (with my Nana) the 5* hotel that he managed security for – that left this place to my mum. I came along and since I was little, it’s been my mum, stepdad and I. I have moved out but always ended up back here and I wouldn’t change it for the world…

We have the beautiful Primrose Hill just round the corner, perfect for walking the dog and having picnics. I’m also close to the quirky Camden, which never sleeps, perfect for weekends shopping and nights out. Being in central London provides transport to almost anywhere else in London in a relatively short time.

Photos: Clare S, 2017, Day & Night Views over London.

Prompt: Sunday Scribblings #5 – Why I Live Where I Live