Ten Things You should Know Before You Plan Your Wedding

  1. It’s your day.  The celebration of your marrying the person you love most in the world and committing to spend your life together and the day is about both of you and your love.  It can be as big or as small as you want, traditional or less so, weird and wonderful, just as long as you love it.  That means the planning can take as little or as much of your time as you want it to.  Try not to get swept up in “what we should be doing” mentality.
  2. There is lots to do when you first start planning and then: nothing.  For a reeeaallly lllloooonnnngg time and then: Boom.  Everything needs doing in 8 weeks.  During the quiet time of planning when you have done all the big things and now can’t do any of the small things this is when people will constantly ask you how wedding planning is going and you will begin to panic that you should be doing more,  surely there’s something you can do – should you start making the edible favours now 9 months before the big day?  You shouldn’t and no.
  3. Play to your strenghts – rubbish at art?  Don’t attempt to handcraft all of your invites, place names, favours and decorations – find willing friends/family who are good at these things to take over the task whilst you supervise (winning).  Great at spreadsheets and contignecy planning?  Colour code to your hearts content, write information sheets and circulate amongst those who need to be “in the know” on the day.
  4. You don’t have to handhold your guests in their organisation if you don’t want to – we’re all adults, you’ve provided an information sheet, there is such a thing as THE INTERNET and GOOGLEMAPS.  They’ll work it out.
  5. It will cost more than you think.  Have a budget and a contingency.  Prepare to go over both.  Try to do so with a smile on your face becuase at some point, you just have to accept it!
  6. People will have an opinion on what you should do, who you should or shoudn’t invite, whether Auntie Mabel should really sit next to cousin Sarah after the “wig incident”, what your “theme”should be or the fact that you aren’t having colours or a theme (controversial!).  Most of these people will not be putting their hand in their pocket, so don’t worry too much about their opinion.  It’s your day, not theirs, do what you want.  They will get over it, I promise.  However, pick your battles.  IF it won’t make that much difference to the enjoyment of your day or your expenditure then decide if it’s worth allowing that boundary to be breached in order to make your life easier, if it’s an absolute “no”, then as carry on as you wish, firm in your “no” and your reasons.
  7. You will either love dress shopping, or hate it.  In any event try to find shops reccommended for friendly staff who will let you try on a variety of things so you get to know what you definitely don’t want and who won’t pressure you into anything and/or treat you like a time waster if you don’t love anything!
  8. Agonizing over your playlist is absolutely worth it.  Agonizing over the bridesmaid’s shoes is not.
  9. Food is important, make sure people will not be left hungry.  The more food the better, always.
  10. The same applies to booze.

Happy Planning!

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2017 Books

I said I wanted to read more books in 2017, I managed 43 in 2016.  Here’s a comprehensive list of all that I read, in order.  I beat my 52 target!

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown –Love, love, love Brené Brown and her wisdom – this book is full of wisdom about living.
  1. The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch – I really enjoy the Rivers of London books – just wish he could write them quicker, I need to re-read them before the next one as I can’t remember everything that’s happened.  A great mix of humour, London life, magic and mystery.
  1. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – I can’t explain how good this and its sister book “Life After Life” is.  Fantastically written stories, I couldn’t put either of them down and became so invested in the characters.
  1. Dead Cold by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  2. The One-Hunded-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeard by Jonas Janasson – Everyone seemed to love this, I was a bit disappointed.  It was good, but I didn’t love it, I just didn’t feel that invested in the story or the character.
  1. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman – This was a recommended book from our pre-marriage counselling course and it was really interesting to learn our own love languages and know how to relate to each other better.
  1. On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
  2. The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  3. The Manual of the Warior of Light by Paula Coelho
  4. Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
  5. The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
  6. The Person-Centred Counselling Primer by Pete Sands
  7. Seven by Jen Hatmaker – This made me want to simplify my life and be less wasteful.  I really enjoyed the families’ experience of cutting down in 7 areas of their lives and seeing how living more simply affected them going forward.
  1. Dibs, In Search of Self by Virginia M Axline – The best counselling book I read all year.
  1. Late Fragments by Kate Gross – This was beautiful, written by a woman who was dying for her boys.
  1. Five on Brexit Island by Enid Blyton
  2. The Integrative Counselling Primer by Richard Worsley
  3. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon
  4. The Murder Stone by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  5. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenrider – This was interesting – a family who travel for long periods with their kids to experience different cultures.  Perhaps it’s because we did a lot of travel as a family when I was a kid but it didn’t seem that new or unique to me!
  1. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  2. The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  3. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  4. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  5. Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen (read twice) – This really spoke to me about busyness, motivations, avoidance and living a Christ filled life.
  1. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight
  2. The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Technically a children’s book but that has never stopped me from enjoying things and this was fantastic.  I loved it.

  1. The Road Back to You (An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery) By Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
  2. Play by Stuart Brown M.D – This was a fascinating read about play and how it shapes humans.
  1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  2. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
  3. How the Light Gets in by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  4. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  5. Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series)
  6. The Marriage Book by Nicky & Sila Lee – Slightly old fashioned but enjoyable and informative all the same – some good pointers.
  1. I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
  2. The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho
  3. Bittersweet by Shauna Niequest – This is a must read for anyone going through a season of loss.  I love Shauna and I find her writing so clarifying, her book Present Over Perfect was a favourite of mine in 2016.
  1. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker – Jen is funny and smart, I laughed my way through this.
  1. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – This was good – I enjoyed the story and the writing and the fact that it wasn’t all tied up with a pretty bow at the end.
  1. The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
  2. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  3. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  4. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  5. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  6. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  7. Harry Potter and The Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling
  8. Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  9. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling  – It goes without saying that I am a HUGE HP fan!
  1. Falling Upward by Richard Rhor – I have another Richard Rhor book to read this year and cannot wait. This man seems to have so much wisdom and writes beautifully about what it means to live as a Christian in the 21st centuary.
  1. Snowed in for Christmas by Claire Sandy – A rom-com for which I had low expectations.  Better than I thought although I spotted the twist but I still enjoyed it.
  1. The Enneagram by Rhor and Ebert – I really enjoyed learning about the Enneagram this year, I loved this book – I am definitely a “2” and feel the appropriate levels of shame about my number’s shadow side!  Workign on things!
  1. The Magical Wolds of Harry Potter by David Colbert
  2. Christmas at the Ragdoll Orphanage by Suzanne Lambert – Terrible.  Don’t read!
  1. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (part of the Inspector Gamache series) – I love this series so much and would recommend to anyone – it is crime fiction set in a small fictional village in Quebec called Three Pines.  I love all of the characters but especially Gamache.  Obviously.

So, aiming for 60 books in 2018…can it be done?!

 

You are what you eat?

I like to end the year listing 10 things that I am grateful for and then set out some goals that I want to achieve in the coming twelve months.  I also usually pick a word to accompany the year – to set a theme if you will.  2017’s word was Brave, 2016’s was Committed.

I made time to sit and appreciate the year and to be thankful for it.  It was an amazing year.  It was the year that I quit my job and didn’t look back, I started the process to become a qualified therapist, I got a new job, I had my hen weekend, I went to Italy (as per) and of course it was the year that we got married (!!) and had an amazing mini moon.  I am and always will be so grateful for the opportunities, change and growth that 2017 brought about, not least, starting my own therapy which has been a game changer for me.

Therapy has made me less anxious, less tightly wound, more self-aware and more able to deal with relationships and situations that I find challenging.  It has also enabled me to own my anger and to reclaim part of myself.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Despite all the many wonderful things about my 2017there were f course some not so great parts and the end of this year seemed to sneak up on me in a fog of pain, antibiotics, chocolate and chaos.   By the end of December I just felt like a big yucky mess physically.  I had had an operation on my foot which was more invasive and painful than imagined and put me out of action for longer than I thought as I got two painful infections and had to have two courses of antibiotics.  I couldn’t walk very much for ages, let alone run or do my yoga and BBG workouts and I know that movement is massively important to my emotional wellbeing – I tend to live in my “mind” and struggle to connect with my body as much and yoga has been a huge help in re-connecting me.

I put on 7lbs in the month of December alone.  That’s a lot to put on in a short space of time.  My gut was funny and I kept getting searing pain after some meals.  My psoriasis was the worst it has been for a while, no doubt exacerbated by a combination of my consumption of chocolate coins, antibiotics x 2 and emotional stress from the year.  A very small voice was telling me that I was probably dairy intolerant and should probably lay off the sugar and gluten for a bit but chocolate is life. I also love dairy – my favourite breakfasts on the Louise Parker Methodare the smoothies and birchers made with greek yoghurt.

By the way, I still love the LP Method but I just knew I needed to try cutting out everything and re-introducing it to find out my allergies/intolerances for a while.  I love that a lot of the LP recipes are easily adaptable to Whole30 which has made it a lot easier.

So, I decided on my first goal for the year – complete a Whoe30.  I ordered the “Whole30 Day by Day” which tells you how you’re probably feeling on each day and gives you hints and tips.  It is scarily accurate.  This past weekend for example Friday – Sunday was Day 9, 10 and 11.

Day 9 “The Food Day”

“At this point in your Whole30 journey, it seems like all you’re doing is thinking about food.  Planning food.  Chopping food.  Cleaning up after food.  Looking at other people’s food.  Talking about your food.  Maybe even dreaming about food. You may be tired of what you’ve been eating (eggs on eggs on eggs).”

Check to all of those for me.

So here’s why I’m doing it, it’s quite simple: I wanted to feel better.  I wanted to stop waking up in the night from scratching my skin raw.  I wanted the dodgy tummy and the pain and the bloating and the gas to go.  I wanted to feed myself proper food for 30 days and see where I was.

It’s not a diet.  I spoke before about how I don’t believe that women need to constantly make themselves smaller.  It will hopefully, make me feel better and get my skin working better again.

Day 10 and 11 “You are most likely to quit your Whole30 on Days 10 and 11”.

Oh yes.  That anger I was supposed to feel Day 3 and 4?  It turned up this weekend and I was sick of it all.  Sick of eggs, sick of not having a chocolate biscuit with my weekend tea, sick of people eating what they want.  My husband bought me my favourite flowers because he’s good like that and I have a new non-egg breakfast recipe from my insta friend Adriana (@adriana.food.fit.fam) who is also doing Whole30 and so understands the struggle.

Now it feels better and I feel better, huge improvements in energy levels and psoriasis symptoms already and I am only just approaching the halfway mark.

So I am completing the first goal that I set myself for 2018.  I still don’t have a word for this year, but as I continue to reflect on this past year and slowly move into 2018, the word will come. We are after all only in the third week of 2018.

Some people seem to have started the year all guns blazing, with all their goals planned out and they are already ticking them off at a wonderful rate! Good for them. I’m going to ease into it and not put pressure on myself, there are another eleven months of this year in which to make a difference.

So, I’m doing one thing at a time (maybe two).  I have a couple of new goals and some continuing ones – I want to start volunteering again preferably in the sexual violence field; I want to continue to attend therapy; I want to find the next part of my course and I want to plan our big honeymoon and go on a proper adventure.  I also want to keep going with my Spiritual Direction (kind of like Christian Counselling) and pick up regular Bible Study again with a new plan.

Whatever you 2018 goals I hope that they reflect you, taking care of yourself, putting yourself first on occasion and living out your life gratefully and joyfully, even in the not so good parts.  Here’s to a happy, healthy and adventure filled 2018.