Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

There are some serious changes taking place in my life at the moment. Terry’s death has taught me that there will always be changes in life: some wanted and others very much unwanted. I wish I could do something about the unwanted changes, but I just have to roll with the punches. I do, however, have some control over my life by making positive changes that are within my power to make. This week I have made two huge changes:

1. I applied for a promotion at work. This was really scary as it was a big step up, but it was a maternity cover within the Modern Languages department that just happened to pop up and when it did I realised that I wanted it. There was another member for my department who was PERFECT for the job and I was tempted to chicken out, but I applied in the end to get the experience. I was invited to an interview this morning and left feeling like I did a good job. I was later called back and told that I had interviewed well and they had created a new role for me within the department: I have been promoted to the Head of Key Stage 3 Languages at my school. What that means is that I am responsible for all language learning (French & Spanish at my school) in Year 7, 8 & 9, which equates to Middle School in the states.

2. I have signed up to run the Race for Life Half Marathon in London on 4 October. I have never run a half marathon, or anything more than a 5K so this is a huge challenge for me. My interest was peaked when another widow asked if anyone would be interested in running a marathon with her. I know I couldn’t handle that challenge, but I voiced an interest in the half marathon on the same day and we have been in touch since. I have just registered tonight and have bought myself some new running shoes as a reward for getting a promotion. I have set a fundraising target of £50 at https://www.justgiving.com/amandakimberly if you’d like to make a donation. I’m rubbish at fundraising and have no lofty ambitions: i just want to finish the race. I don’t care how long it takes, I would rather not be last, but I just want to finish it. At the moment I have my doubts, but I have a good feeling about this and feel like it’s a challenge that I can and should do, although I can’t explain why I feel that way.

I am really pleased with both of these recent changes as they are active changes, not passive ones. I made these two things happen and to succeed, both require a lot of work. This will give me something to focus on as I approach the dreaded one year sadiversary of Terry’s death, mere days before I run my first half marathon. These changes are bittersweet as there is no one that I would rather celebrate them with than Terry, but I know that he’s cheering me on as always and I hope to make him oh so very proud.

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I’m First Aid Certified

Today I finished a three day training course and am certified in First Aid at Work. This, in itself, is a big accomplishment but for me it is very special and I will explain why. 

First Aid
photo credit: Young Red Cross nurses, 1950s via photopin (license)

I was originally scheduled to go on this course the week after Terry died but my school offered to send me on another one when I returned to work or to cancel it if I so decided. I had asked to take this course as I was to run the school French trip this year. Last year while chaperoning the French Trip with my Emergency First Aid at Work qualification we had a student collapse and have a seizure and although I dealt with it exactly as I was trained to do, it panicked me and I only agreed to run the trip if the school would provide me with additional First Aid Training. 

When I first went back to work in January, the school asked me if I would still be interested in attending the First Aid training and although it still seemed like a distant dream, I knew I wanted to do  it. Terry was a Scout Leader and trained his Scouts in First Aid every year. I took for granted all of the First Aid knowledge he had, taking comfort that if anything went wrong with the children or me he could always fix it. I remember coming home from work one evening to Terry smiling from ear to ear and proudly telling me how one of the scouts, who was only 13 at the time, had saved a man’s life by putting him in the recovery position and calling for help. Terry was proud of me when I dealt with a seizure on the French Trip with only basic First Aid skills, although to be fair Terry was proud of everything that I did. 

And so a few months passed and I asked the school to choose a new course for me. We found one at the end of June that I signed up for. I felt really confident signing up for the course, but as the weeks drew nearer I began to panic. The last time that I had used my First Aid training was when I found my husband unconscious on the couch and had to put him into the recovery position as I called 999. I was not cool or collected when I found him, I screamed at the 999 operator to please come and help me, I begged the paramedics to tell me what was wrong with my husband, to tell me that he was going to be OK. Terry’s mother says that when I phoned her from the ambulance I was screaming hysterically, but I don’t even remember the phone call. On the course they would ask me to put people into the recovery position and I was terrified that it would bring back flashbacks to finding Terry, a day that I avoid going back to if at all humanly possible. My school sent an email to the trainers advising them of my circumstances. I asked members of my Widowed and Young Support Group for advice and was surprised to find that several other widows had competed First Aid training after using First Aid on their spouses. They told me I could do it and so I went for it. 

On Friday afternoon as I told my colleagues I would see them on Thursday, it seemed like a good idea, but as I parked my car on Monday morning and walked up to the First Aid Training Centre my heart was pounding and I was actively fighting the urge to run back to my car and drive away. I arrived at the centre early so that I could speak to the instructors. ‘Did my school tell you about me?’ I asked them. They then asked for my name. Yes, the school had informed them of my circumstances and if I needed to leave a session I could just show myself out and they would come and find me to see that I was OK. I chose the seat right next to the door and planned my escape for when the recovery position was taught. 

And then something funny happened: I was paired up with a lovely Polish girl to practice the recovery position and I did so over and over with no flashbacks. I was focused on doing a good job and that got me through it. There was a moment on the course as we were discussing dealing with unconscious breathing casualties that the trainer told us to always keep speaking to them as hearing is the last sense to go. I flashed back to my panicked screaming as I dialed 999 and was devastated that the last thing that Terry heard was me terrified and panicked. I went to the toilet and cried at the mere thought of it. But then I mentioned this to my support group and a widower told me that although I was terrified, the last thing that Terry likely heard was my voice, which was all he wanted to hear and I was upset no more. 

I learned a lot on my three day course and met some really lovely people that I trained with. I feel confident using my First Aid skills if needed, although I hope that I never have to use them ever again. Now that Terry is gone and cannot advise me on all things First Aid, I must learn to do it myself, as with so many other things. 

As I drove out of the parking lot today ‘Burn’ by Ellie Goulding came on the radio. This was one of Terry and my songs and I cried as I drove myself to get a celebratory Frappuccino. This training course was terrifying. On Monday as I took a seat I didn’t think that I could do it without breaking down but I did. I am strong and capable of saving lives, just as my Terry once was. I know that he is so very proud of me and I feel that my newly honed First Aid skills are another way that I can carry on the legacy of Terry’s altruistic life that I was lucky enough to share with him for a few short years. 

Mondays Are My Thinking Days

After Terry died, my GP referred me to a bereavement charity called Cruse for some bereavement counseling. As it’s a volunteer-run charity, the waiting list in Oxfordshire was long, and when I moved to Northamptonshire the waiting list was even longer. In May I began attending weekly counselling sessions on Monday afternoons with a wonderful counselor who I found myself easily opening up to. Over the past two months we have discussed a lot of things and I have received a lot of comfort from our sessions together, although they are often emotionally painful and difficult. When my six allocated sessions ended, my counselor asked if I would like to attend a seventh, as she said that my grief felt very ‘profound.’ And so last Monday I had my seventh and last session of bereavement counselling through Cruse. Last weekend was really difficult and it was made slightly more so knowing that today I couldn’t talk it over with my counsellor, as I have become accustomed to doing. 

Mondays have been, for the past seven weeks, the day that I really open up about my grief and talk about the myriad of things involving my relationship with Terry and his death that I push aside during my normal week because they are too difficult and painful to deal with. Mondays are the days when I dedicate part of my day to my grief, grieving actively rather than passively. Mondays are difficult, but have been a big part of my healing process as I attempt to build a new life for myself in this new town. As I left my last session I felt a mix of emotions, but overall I am so very pleased with the bereavement counseling I have received and am sad to see it end. I have spent the past few days reflecting over my time with my bereavement counselling and thinking about what I have learned in such a few, short weeks. 

I have learned that everything that I feel is normal. This might seem obvious to you, but being widowed can be very socially isolating. Since Terry died I have thought about things that I had never in my darkest days considered and my emotions have been very different to how I felt with Terry, which has made me feel broken. Although new to me and sometimes frightening and confusing, all of these feelings are normal and okay for me to feel. 

I have learned that my grief is proportionate to the love I have for my husband. Just as I loved Terry with everything I had, so I grieve him with every ounce of what’s left of me. The pain is unbearable on the bad days, but it is only because I loved him so very much. 

I have learned that by focusing on work and building a new life for myself here in Northampton, I am taking the first steps into my new unwanted life. Just as toddlers fall as they are learning to walk, so will I stumble as I try to figure out what’s next. But what’s important is that I pick myself up and keep going. 

I have learned that I need to be kind to myself. Widows tell me this all the time, but my counsellor really emphasized that it was important that I have nice things lined up for the bad days, because there are many more bad days waiting for me yet. For me, I like to buy myself a cup of coffee from Starbucks or, if I’m too miserable to leave the house, I like to make a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows. Lots of marshmallows. I work on a cross-stitching project if I need to take my mind off of something particularly difficult and occasionally I play with Ninja, or cuddle up with him if I can’t get out of bed. 

I have learned that there is nothing wrong with throwing my duvet over my head and not getting out of bed for the day. It is not defeat, it is simply acknowledging that today is rubbish and I will pick myself up again tomorrow and give it another go. If this means calling out of work, that is acceptable and nothing to feel bad about. 

I have learned that there is joy to be found in little things. It took months after Terry died for me to feel even the slightest glimmer of happiness shining through the dark cloud of grief in which I had taken up residence. I remember that first glimmer of happiness clearly: it felt so normal for a split-second, and then I thought that I shouldn’t be feeling any happiness at all so soon after Terry died. I could practically hear Terry telling me that was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard and I allowed myself the smallest of smiles, which felt fake and forced on my newly bereaved face. Since then, the moments of joy and happiness have begun to present themselves to me and I find myself eager to grab onto them and hold them close, for so long as they last. This week, my My Little Box arrived and had the most beautiful blue nail polish, that I used immediately. And it made me happy. Not permanently so, but for a moment, and for that I am grateful. 

My new blue nail polish - isn't it gorgeous?

I have learned that Mondays are my thinking days. My bereavement counseling has now come to an end, but I have found myself thinking my grief through and reflecting upon it today the same as if it hadn’t. Sure, I’m talking to myself in the car or in my bedroom, but I am talking and thinking about my grief rather than pushing it aside for another time. Mondays are my thinking days, my grieving days and I hope to continue my thoughtful Mondays in the near future. 

Father’s Day

I’ve been struggling to write blog posts for a few weeks now. When I go silent it often means that I am experiencing a low week and can’t find it in me to write anything down, although occasionally it is because i have exciting plans and just can’t find the time. The past few weeks have been a mixture of both. I have spent a few weekends away with good friends, but the weeks have brought some unwanted lows. I left work in tears last week for the first time in months after a particularly bad day and I am grateful to my amazing coworkers for volunteering their free lessons to cover my own so that I could go home.

Father’s Day, like most happy days in my previous life, is no longer a cause for celebration. In fact, it’s a pretty tough day now. On Mother’s Day, I spent previous years celebrating all of the wonderful mothers I know and yet this year all I could seem to do is think about the fact that I may never be a mother. Similarly, today I woke up without a thought to any of the amazing fathers that I am lucky enough to know and instead remembered that Terry will never be a father and I started the day in tears. I was invited to a Father’s Day barbeque with his family, which I attended. The sun was shining, the food was delicious, the company was lovely, but I just stared at the fathers there and wished that Terry could have joined them. He really wanted children and if life had listened to our plans, this would have been his last Father’s Day without them. We would have spent the day excitedly dreaming about what future Father’s Days would bring, still blind to the fact that those plans might not work out.

Over lunch, I asked how Terry’s tree was getting on. Well, his sister told me. I asked how long before it would be fully grown and she estimated 10-15 years. I suddenly thought of 2024, which if I live to see will mean that I have survived ten years without my Terry and I wanted to hide myself away and just sob at the mere thought of ten years without him. I have recently been focusing on making it to the one year sadiversary in September, which I am dreading, and hadn’t realized that I have no idea what I will do after I survive a year without him. One year without my better half, my partner in crime, my everything seems so horribly unbearable to me, but a whole lifetime without him? It is literally too horrible and painful to think about.

When I can’t handle something big, I break it down into manageable tasks. And so, unable to think about an entire lifetime without Terry, I return to this first Father’s Day without him. Today I am incapable of celebrating the many brilliant fathers out there, because I cannot take my mind off of the man that I chose to father my children, who never got the chance to be the most amazing father in the whole wide world, which he undoubtedly would have become if life weren’t so horribly cruel and unfair.

Today is another difficult day in a difficult year that I am taking day by day until I can find it in me to celebrate once again.

Onwards And Straight Into A Wall

I get asked how are you doing? a lot – and I never know what to say. I used to love the saying ‘onwards and upwards,’ but these days it feels bit more like I’m moving onwards and straight into the nearest wall. Terry had a scar on his forehead from running into a wall when he was a little boy that I used to love to trace with my finger while he was sleeping. He was embarrassed of it but I loved it because it made him all the more unique. I, too, bear scars from running into these invisible hurdles that have been put in my way but mine are invisible to the naked eye.

Because no one can see my scars, people can forget that they are there. I have been struggling to get everything that’s being asked of me done at work recently and broke down in tears in my boss’ office and asked for some help (which was really hard for me). She looked absolutely shocked and after a moment’s silence said ‘I’m so sorry, Mandi. I should have offered you help from the get go, but you look like you’re doing OK and I had no idea you weren’t.’ I’ve mentioned before my surprise that others can’t see how much I struggle with the day to day, but how could I expect you to?

As you may already know, I like to monitor progress: I have a Chain of Debt on my wall as a visual reminder of how many months of debt payments I have left to make before I am debt free and I give myself a sticker on my calendar every time that I work out. Although I generally feel that i am making progress in this new and unwanted life, I find myself frustrated that I can’t measure how far I’ve come, and if I could it would be all the more frustrating on the bad days when I take a few natural steps back in my grief. For those of us who are planners, the immense unpredictability of grieving can be really hard to handle. On the good days I can feel like I’m making progress but on the bad days sometimes I feel like I’ve gone almost back to rock bottom.

Last weekend I got to spend the day in London with a good friend from the States who was in town on business. Over lunch she looked at me and said ‘you look a lot better than you did in December.’ I appreciated her words because she’s right, I have made some sort of progress since December: i have started working again, building my way slowly up to an almost full timetable, I have moved into a new house in a new city where I am working hard to make new friends and to get to know my coworkers better. I have survived some very difficult days and enjoyed some good days out with friends, all in the span of a few short months. As all of this is a continuous uphill struggle into a wall, I am rarely capable of noticing the progress that I have made for myself, but when I take a step back I can see it. Although I am not where I want to be (with Terry) neither am I where I was (in a heap on the floor) and that will just have to be enough.

And so I continue my journey onwards and straight into the next wall.

What On Earth Do You Say?

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me 

-A. Liar

Whoever said that words don’t hurt is a liar. Perhaps you shouldn’t let them hurt you but anyone who’s been made fun of or insulted knows that they hurt nonetheless. Our society doesn’t talk about death and as a result people genuinely don’t know what to say when your 30 year old husband dies suddenly. At all. Most have said such kind, supportive words, but in the eight months since my husband died I have been hurt by several well-meaning comments and sadly other widows that I’ve spoken with have been, too. To be honest, I don’t know what I would have said to a friend who lost their husband were I still happily married to Terry; I likely would have said something similarly well-meaning and potentially hurtful. These comments were not meant to hurt, but they hurt nonetheless and so I am writing this in the hopes that should anyone you know find yourself in my situation (and I genuinely hope they do not) those of you who have not been bereaved might have a better idea of what to say. This is not the ultimate guide for talking to widows, it is merely my thoughts on a recurring issue. 

You’re young, you’ll find someone else. You’re right, I am young. Too young to be a widow, that’s for damn sure and yet here I am. I know that Terry doesn’t want me to spend the rest of my life alone and I hope to have a family someday, but when I hear this it feels like you’re implying that Terry is replaceable, like a broken toothbrush. My Terry is not replaceable and should I be so lucky as to find someone else it could never be a replacement, merely a new chapter in a story that has thus far been quite tragic. 

Did you have children? No? That’s good then. Those of you that know me best know that the hardest part of Terry dying has been the loss of the family that we planned on having. It is like a knife in my soul when I think about the fact that I will never be able to have his children. We really wanted children and he would have been the best father. To imply that my loss is any easier without having children to look after is wrong and extremely hurtful. If you know any widows with children you may be aware that it is not any easier than being widowed without; it is only a different kind of pain. Please don’t imply that my inability to have my late husband’s children is a blessing in any way. It’s not. Should I ever be able to have children they will never be Terry’s and that, too, is incredibly difficult to deal with. 

So when are you moving back to America? Most people assume that now that my husband has died I will have to move back in with my parents in Nashville. Actually, I have Indefinite Leave to Remain (the UK equivalent of a Green Card) meaning I can live in the UK for the rest of my life if I so wish. I’ve lived in the UK for three and half years now and most every memory that I have with Terry is here. I understand when people ask if I plan on moving back to America, but to just assume that I will go ‘home’ belittles the fact that this, too, is my home. And it is in the UK that I built my home with Terry. I very well might move back to the States at some point, but I am giving myself enough time in the UK to make an informed decision as to what’s best for me and one that I will not regret. 

I don’t know how you do it – I couldn’t possibly (do what you’re doing) if my husband died. You may be right, but I didn’t spend my happily married years planning an emergency survival plan for when Terry died. I had never considered my husband dying a possibility, even while holding his hand in the ICU hours before the doctors told us that he had passed away. If I wasn’t surviving without Terry, I wouldn’t have believed myself capable either (although I still have my doubts about surviving this). Please don’t tell me that were you in my shoes you couldn’t do what I am being forced to do. I know you mean to imply that I am strong, but you have no idea what you would do if your husband died, and you are so lucky. On that note:

If my husband died I’d…. I’m going to stop you right there: has your husband died? If not, please keep these opinions to yourself. This sentence is usually ended with a decision opposite to the one that I’ve just made. Do I know what I’m doing in life? Not really. I feel like I’ve been drifting since Terry died. Have I made perfect decisions? Probably not, but I have made careful decisions and even the smallest of them has been very difficult to make without being able to consult with Terry, with whom I used to discuss everything. It’s hard making decisions on my own, please don’t minimise them by imagining that you would do something different were you in my position. If you’d asked me what I would have done if Terry died while he was still alive, I could never have imagined the past eight months. Truly you cannot possibly imagine until you find yourself in my situation. 

You didn’t change your maiden name? Oh that’s good, now you don’t have to change it back! I’m a lover, not a fighter, but I almost physically attacked the person who said this to me. Then I realized it wasn’t appropriate to hit people who obviously have a mental deficiency and went on with my life. 1) I didn’t keep my maiden name in the off-chance that my husband would drop dead and 2) if I had changed my maiden name I wouldn’t have changed it back just because my husband died. 

So what can I say to you, you madwoman? I know, I’m making it seem like there are a million things not to say to widows and you may well feel that it’s best to say nothing at all to avoid hurting us. We’re already hurting, but just as words can cut, they can also bring incredible comfort to a broken heart. Here’s what I would recommend saying to someone in my situation:

I don’t know what to say. Genuinely, most people don’t but saying this is such a simple, true statement that lets us know that if you could say something to help, you would.  

I’m so very sorry for your loss. This is the most simple way of expressing your condolences and one that I really appreciate.

Share your memories of Terry with me. It means so much when people take the time to share a beloved memory with my husband. Terry brought a smile to the face of everyone he met and I miss that so much, Your memories help to keep that gorgeous smile alive. Don’t be afraid that mentioning Terry will cause me pain; I’m already in pain. Although they may be bittersweet, I cherish each and every memory that I have left of my gorgeous man. 

If you don’t know what to say call me or spend time with me and listen to me talk about Terry. It’s been eight months and my husband is still my favourite topic of conversation. Talking about and remembering the nine amazing years that I spent with Terry is the most natural thing in the world to me. Please don’t think that I shouldn’t be talking about him after eight months, a year, eight years, a lifetime. I should talk about him as often as I feel up for it and a listening ear is much appreciated. 

Please keep in mind that all widows are different, but we are all in a nightmare of a situation and doing the best we can. Please don’t be afraid to talk to us (it hurts when you avoid us) but please just think about how the words you’ve chosen to help us heal might have the opposite affect. I do not mean to sound ungrateful for the kind words I have received from so many: I will never be able to thank you all enough for the support I have received, but I hope that this post helps to shed some light on what we all find to be a very complicated issue. 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss this post with me, please do get in touch. 

Weddings and Haircuts

It’s been an eventful week here in Modest Mandi-land, to say the least. First, on Friday I officially survived another half term of school and am only seven weeks from surviving this school year. Now that the sheer exhaustion has lifted I have a mixture of feelings: I am ready (and eager) for this school year to be over, but not looking forward to the next one beginning. Luckily I’m spending five weeks at home in Nashville this summer to ease the transition. If my sisters are successful in stealing my passport, I may not need to worry about starting the next school year at all…

I’ve been needing a haircut for a few months now. I’m not good at taking care of my hair and it’s really only ever an afterthought. Luckily, one of my housemates is a hairdresser and in exchange for dinner, she agreed to cut my hair. I can’t remember the last time I walked into a salon and asked for anything other than a trim and a refresh of the layers that I wear in my long hair. When my housemate asked what I wanted, I said ‘something different.’ Radically different? Coming from someone with purple hair, this struck fear into my old fashioned heart. ‘Perhaps not radically different, but a change is most definitely needed.’ So she chopped off 8” of my hair into a lob – that’s a long bob to those of us who are clueless about all things hair. This is the end result and I couldn’t be happier:

Ta-dah!

It’s different enough that I feel all fresh & new, but not so different that I don’t recognize myself. The students have been complimentary and if I know one thing about teenagers, it is that they are brutally honest with their opinions. I have to agree with my students that my hair looks well good. 

Yesterday I attended the wedding of a friend from the Peace Corps who was getting married in Oxford. This was my second wedding since Terry’s death (I attended the wedding of one of his cousins last month and quite literally ran out of the wedding sobbing) and I was a bit nervous about this one. I managed to make it through the entire reception dry eyed, of which I am really proud. As you can imagine, weddings are quite difficult for widows. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that Terry and I said similar vows to each other. It was with a heavy heart that I listened to the wedding vows and realized that I have fulfilled each and every one of them: I loved my husband for better and worse, for poorer with the plans of getting richer someday, in sickness and in health and I loved and cherished him every second until death did us part. When I told Terry that I would love him until death did us part I meant until we grow old together, but that wasn’t meant to be. 

with the beautiful bride

The wedding was absolutely gorgeous and I am so glad that I overcame my fears and attended. Although I knew no one there, I felt very special to be invited to part of their special day.

And so with a new haircut and having attended the wedding of a dear friend I find myself with an entire week of half-term in front of me. It’s going to be a good week.  

The Chains of Debt

When I moved in January I packed the Debt-o-Meter away in a box with some of Terry’s things and I haven’t had the heart to take it out since. It’s not laziness, it’s that the mere thought of it brings back the happy memories of making it and colouring it in each month, which I prefer to remain boxed up until I am a bit stronger and can take those memories and cherish them the way that they should be cherished (without a breakdown). 

I wish that I could pack away my debt and not think about that, either, but unfortunately I have had to keep making payments. I miss the feeling of acomplishment as I coloured those few hundred pounds of debt away every month, but I can’t bear the thought of colouring in the debt-o-meter without Terry. This led me to look into other ways to visualize my debt payoff and I stumbled across the idea of making a paper chain. The idea is that you make one link for each $1,000 of debt and then tear it off as you pay it off. I wouldn’t be able to take a chain off each month that way, so I adapted it to be one link for every payment that stands between me and my dream of being debt free. I just so happened to have a paper chain hiding away with the Christmas decorations that I never did get around to making and it had 45 links, enough for my 44 remaining payments and 1 for luck. So I made my paper chain and I hung it on the wall of my new bedroom. Today I checked my US bank account and my student loan payment has been paid off, so I happily ripped off the first of many paper links. It felt pretty good. 

The chain is spread across 5 nails and as my debts get paid off, I’d like to hang a picture on each of the nails until instead of a paper chain I have a wall of happy memories, with many more to come once I’m debt free!

And so I am looking at 43 links for my 43 remaining payments and already looking forward to that next chain coming down. I think Terry would like this idea, and he would be really impressed that I managed to put 5 nails in the wall without breaking something. 

On a side note: when not paying off debt, I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking. This weekend I baked a banana cake with Nutella frosting and have been happily devouring it since.  

 

 
 

Bold Is Beautiful March

Remember when I said I had some fun adventures coming up this month? Today I travelled down to London to meet up with my friend Jess to participate in Benefit’s Bold is Beautiful March around town to raise funds for two amazing charities: Refuge , a domestic violence charity and Look Good Feel Better, a charity that supports women undergoing cancer treatments to feel good about themselves. Having donated to both of these good causes to sign up for the race, Jess and I turned up at Cavendish Square at 10:00 this morning ready to go.

When we arrived, we were greeted with a goody bag containing a bright pink Benefit t-shirt, a Benefit make-up bag and a bottle of water. We then walked around London where we stopped at the Marble Arch to have our lashes done, then headed through Hyde Park to get to the Wellington Arch where we got some blusher and lipgloss and a super-cool pair of glasses and finally to Golden Square where we had a full-on makeover and received a pink cape. We then paraded back to Cavendish Square with our pink capes billowing behind us where we crossed the finish line, listened to music, ate some delicious cookies that we got for crossing the finish line and then had some superhero photos taken (seriously though, both Benefit and My Little Box have now affirmed my Superhero Theory).

Marble Arch
At the Marble Arch, our first stop of the day
Cape
I make this cape look good
Victory!
Victory!
Superhero Photo Shoot
This is what we superheroes look like behind the scenes

After the march, we had lunch in a nearby restaurant and ate some delicious cupcakes. Then we took advantage of the good weather and had a chat in the park before we both went our separate ways. I arrived back home in Northampton completely shattered but in such high spirits. Today I raised money for charity, got some good exercise while exploring new parts of London (one of my favourite cities in the world), ate some delicious food with a good friend and then came back home with some lovely new goodies – but no cookie. Today I had my picture taken as a superhero, which will be framed and put on my wall. There are some really not so nice parts to my life, but today I haven’t thought about any of those. Today I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to go down to London for the day to meet up with friends and participate in an event that was only a glass of champagne away from being perfect for me. Giving Looks Good, my new tote bag tells me, and I feel good as a result.

Superhero

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some cookies to eat, a cape to wear and a world to save.

I Live With Spenders

My apologies for not posting for awhile, I got really sick last week and am still trying to get over this sore throat and cough. I have blamed each of my classes individually for getting me sick, but who knows?

Over the long holiday weekend that we recently enjoyed here in the rainy UK, my housemates and I decided to host a BBQ in our gorgeous backyard. The morning of the BBQ we made a joint grocery run to pick up supplies. As we were leaving I asked if they wanted to make a list of what we needed. No, we’ll just pick up anything we need, my housemates responded. I really think we should make a list guys, I tried, but they were insistent that it was unnecessary. To them perhaps, but a list is an essential part of my shopping these days. I don’t go shopping without lists, mainly because I used to go shopping without lists and I used to make really bad decisions.

I should clarify that my housemates are amazing. We get on really well and enjoy spending time together, which is why we were throwing this BBQ to begin with. I’m the frugal one in the house, which was immediately noticeable when I moved in. My housemates both enjoy going out a lot, whereas although I mostly go over my £100 social budget each month, it’s never by much. If I go away for a weekend, I’m in the rest of the month to balance it out. I have friends over for coffee and dinner rather than meeting up for drinks after work. I do everything I can to save money these days.

While walking through the supermarket we picked up the meat, paper plates and plastic cups that we had all agreed we needed, but then things got spendy. Things that we didn’t need just kept getting thrown in the shopping cart. Are you sure we need crayons and a coloring book? I questioned. Don’t we already have citronella candles at the house? That’s not actually a question, we have an entire pack of citronella candles at the house that we can use. You still want those ones? Ok….None of my questions changed my housemate’s decisions to buy things we didn’t need for the BBQ: how could they? They are spenders, just as I once was but the new saver me was slightly horrified at how much their bill came to. I remember spending a disproportionate amount of my income on silly things that I thought I needed only to be broke and unhappy at the end of the month. I used to think hosting a BBQ meant you needed loads of fun party things, but now I can appreciate that with good food, enough to drink and good music, the other details are arbitrary.

Shopping Cart

And, I should mention, although I don’t have any new crayons or the 96 leftover plastic shot glasses, I have money left in my bank account for some really fun adventures later on this month. Stay tuned.