Recovering spoonies: lacking online representation

I have never really been one to use my blog for super deep retrospection or to advocate for anything in particular, yet this blogpost has been in the back of my mind for a while and well…. here it is.

Like most people I turn to social media for inspiration and motivation. This can be just daily motivation to keep me going through the day, or for inspiration with regards to wellness and leading a healthy life style. However, I have increasingly found myself dissapointed with the lack of representation for recovering spoonies like me. If you are not sure what a spoonie is, Wikipedia is your friend ;).

By far the majority of wellness and lifestyle influencers, vlogers and bloggers cater towards able people. They constantly repeat to you that for a healthy lifestyle you need to balance your food intake with exercise: it’s 80% food and 20% excercise. They stress that you need 8 full hours of sleep to be well rested to get the most out of your day. To stick to morning routines with yoga, medidation… all that jaz. They then post really delicous looking recipes that are “so easy to make”. And to encourage you to do all this, and to get to your own goals they post one picture after another that is a variation on the one below:

8 Motivating Tips for Weight Loss

Well, imagine seeing this everyday whilst having a body that you will literally make you sick when you exercise to much. As someone who suffers from Chronique Fatigue Syndrome I literally risk getting into a crash when my heart rate is elevated for a prolonged amount of time, which makes exercising extremely tricky. And when I say a crash I don’t just mean I get tired. It can cause a range of symptoms, including physical pain (joint pain, full body pain and throat ache <– or a combination of all three), less control over my emotions (mood swings are a bitch), nausea and dizziness, other flu-like symtoms… Yeah it’s a real doozy.

Moreover, one of the issues with Chronique Fatigue Syndrome is that even if I sleep I do not rest. So even if I sleep 8 hours a night, I still wake up tired. This makes sticking to a mourning routine quite hard, even though I do force myself to do this for as much as I can. It’s a bit hit and miss, but I just take every day I do get up at 6 as a win.

Which brings me to the great weight-loss recipes… Yeah they are great. Just not if you aren’t allowed to eat half of the ingredients that they have in them (because of intollerences… trust me, most spoonies have a bunch) and are too complicated for you to make, cause newsfalsh you are tired or in pain, or both… all the time.

And then it is topped off with the constant reminder that you need to try harder, despite the fact that you getting out of bed and doing the things you need to do is already part of you trying really hard. Literally for spoonies, recovering or not, just doing the things they do costs a lot of effort and sometimes the staple “get healthy!” motivational quotes just make you feel like you aren’t cutting it. Like the hard work you do for just “showing-up” (whatever that may mean for you) isn’t enough.

Even the recovered spoonies who are trying to help you recover trough their own experiences fall into the trap outlined above. They post pictures of themselves working out in the gym and keep chanting this mantra of pushing yourself. I realise for them they of course also want to share their achievements and you know what? More power to them! But do not pretend like showing a picture of yourself in a gym is helping your fellow spoonies get where you are, because let’s be real: it isn’t that easy. It seems that they have forgotten how hard it was to get to that point and that wesometimes you just need to give ourselves some freaking grace and acknowledge how hard we work to do the things we do.

So I have instead been following influencers that advocate for disability and spooniness. And they are great. They have taught me how to check in with my body, to be more accepting of how I feel on bad days and to not constantly feel like I have to push myself. Especially an influencer on Instagram called Kat Inokai has helped me so much in embracing my spooniness. If you are spoonie reading this, make sure to check her out.

However, these people advocating for disability and spooniness are usually people who suffer severely from chronic illness(es). They have not yet gotten to a point in their recovery where they can focus on trying to start exercising again or losing any of the weight they may have gained. They are off far worse than I am.

They cannot yet share in the struggle to keep of keeping a balanced diet where it goes well for a couple of days, but then you get to the point where you are so tired that your body just tells you to eat… a lot. And because you are so tired you don’t have the energy to cook anything. So you grab something that isn’t great for you. And you know this, but at that point you just don’t have the energy to fight the cravings, or any willpower left to resist, because you needed all of that just to make it through the day.

They are unable to display the struggle of doing exercises that are low-impact and the feelings and thoughts that those trigger. Like: is this really all I can do now? Surely I can do more than this? But if I do, will I get a crash? How much exercise is safe for me to do right now? Should I do this every day, every other day? Once a week? All of this with no guidance, as frankly: no one is figured it out yet!

So again I find myself lacking representation. I find myself wondering why the “wellness” industry isn’t incorporating us in their narrative? There are so many of us, so why ignore us? Are we scary, because you don’t know how the advise you give us may affect us? Well, newsflash the advise you are just producing on “default” now sure ain’t doing much for us either.

And where are we ourselves? Where are the spoonies that are still in the midst of recovery? The, as I have begun to refer to myself, “high-functioning spoonies”? Are they just as lost as I am? Are they not showing themselves/ not advocating for our experience of spoonieness, because our lives are kind of boring? Do we feel like our lives aren’t interesting enough to be put on social media, because it is a repetition of the same thing over and over again, as we don’t have the energy to add anything new into the rotation? Is it because we are so desperately trying to hang on to be able to do the things we can, that we don’t have much energy for anything else, including advocating for ourselves?

I have reached a point where I am seriously considering becoming this advocate myself. Despite my life being boring and me perhaps not being the best example of a recovering spoonie. As I said, I am pretty high functioning, which may make it hard for others to relate to me. I have a fulltime job and am trying to finish a PhD: not the easiest to relate to. But then again, if there is one thing I have learned from CFS, it’s that everyone’s experience of it is different. Everyone is affected differently by it. So why would my experience of it be less valid? And maybe there are people who will find confort in me fighting to maintain my “boring” life, because they are doing the exact same? Maybe it will inspire others to share their story as well.

What do you think dear reader? Should I step up?


Be kind to yourself: it really does make life a little easier

Despite the world being pretty much on fire, I have to say the first couple of days of 2021 have been pretty okay for me personally.

For the first time in months I finally feel calm. As if for the first time in weeks I can finally just breath. It’s as if everything is finally in place and I can finally think clearly again. These past couple of days I for the first time in a good while felt like I had the headspace to focus on the things I want to do again.

Does that mean I got up at 6 a.m. every day this week? That I was able to work on my dissertation from Monday to Friday? Nope. I still have chronic fatigue syndrome so there are going to be days that are just not going to go the way I want them to. I had a couple of pretty rough nights, which caused me to wake-up so tired that I decided to set my alarm for another hour.

And you know what? That is absolutely okay. If I am too tired to work on my PhD today or if I cannot get myself do do the dishes, then I will give it another try tomorrow. I have stopped getting upset with myself for not being able to do all the things I had planned on a particular day… And my gosh does that feel good!

As some of my avid readers know I absolutely love decorative planning. This is a type of planning style where you liven-up your planner with cute and pretty stickers. Every weekend I would sit down with my planner, decorate it and plan out the entire week. For everyday I would decide what I was going to do. Needless to say, if you have an illness as unpredicatable as chronic fatigue syndrome that does not work. So what happend was that I found myself getting frustrated every time, because I could not finish all the things that I had planned to do. Instead of my planner helping me be more productive and me enjoy working on it, I felt like it was a reminder of my failure to do simple things like dishes and was some kind of testemony to my inadequacy…. Yeah… If that isn’t one heck of an unhealhty mindset, than I don’t kow what is. So, I decided to quit planning for a while. I tried to get bak into it multiple times, but I could simply not find a way for it to work.

Until now. Every weekend I now sit down to decorate the week before, as I used to, but I do not plan anything yet, unless it is an actual meeting with someone. Instead I have incorporated planning into my morning routine. That way I can check in with myself on the day to see how I am feeling and to gauge how much I will be able to do. At the same time, I have learned to have peace with it if I have one of those days where I have less energy than I thought I had. So if I have written down that I will be doing the dishes that day, but am too tired, I simply put it off to the next day and regard th eplanner entry as a reminder for tomorrow. No giving myself crap, no feeling bad about it. It is what it is.

And you know what? It actually works! Yesterday, after a really crappy night I just couldn’t get up at 6 a.m…. So I got up at 7 instead. In the morning I had resigned myself to do nothing on my PhD that day, but planned that I would at least do dishes. Well, after working half a day I was quite unexpectedly able to focus on my PhD for 2 hours. However, the trade of was that I wasn’t able to do any dishes because of that. So I left that chore for today… and ended up cleaning the stove as well whilst I was at it. Just because I could. Flexibility for the win!

One of the reasons why I decided to share this in this blogpost with you all today is because I hope it helps some of you to perhaps be a little kinder to yourself as well. It is so easy to get upset with ourselves because of our limitations, physically or otherwise. Yet where does that get us? It only makes us feel frustrated, unhappy and may cause us to give up something that we love doing because of that. There’s enough negativity in the world already right now, don’t become another source of it for yourself.

No matter what you are struggling with, you are doing the best you can and that is enough. As someone on instagram wrote yesterday “being in our bodies is hard”. And so is being in our minds at times. But that is okay. It is alright to struggle or to feel pain. It is not your fault and it does not make you any less worthy. You are you and you are enough. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, especially not you yourself.

chibird — A small corgi pup to remind us that we are in...
Copyright: Chiibird

2021 here I come

I have a confession to make. I have always been the kind of person who thought New Years Eve was horribly overrated. Although as a child I liked the idea of staying up, eating nice things and watching fireworks, as I grew older New Years Eve just lost it’s sparkle. It felt like just another day, on which I usually had to work, with too much food (too close after Christmas) and on which I had to force myself to stay awake until 12 o’clock, because it’s expected and you can’t sleep with all the fireworks going off anyway.

This year though… boy am I in the mood for New Years! The moment that clock strikes 12 I am actually going to be there, partying with the rest of the world. Why? Not because I think that a global pandemic will be resolved overnight and everything will be better. We are still going to be in lockdown until January 19th at least and until the majority of us have been vaccinated this virus is clearly not going anywhere.

So no, it’s not because of that. It’s mostly because I am looking forward to what the new year brings… and that is stability. As my trusty readers will know, I have had one heck of a year with a lot of stress and because of that CFS flare-ups. I cannot wait for a year that is emotionally and financially stable. In which I can find balance and build up an actual routine.

I don’t think I expected myself to write this a couple of years ago. To be frank, I am quite a contradictory person. I am the kind of person who gets bored and restless when I get into a rut, but who is also not super adventurous. I enjoy a good challenge, but enjoy staying inside my comfort zone as well. As such, for me to be happy and thrive I have discovered I need to have balance between those sides of me. If love doing research and pushing myself at work, but if I am doing so I need to have a stable home and financial environment. If these are lacking, it results in a feeling akin to loosing my center of gravity and desperately trying to keep myself from falling.

So what is my plan for the coming year? I plan to work hard, but also balance that out by spending time with family and friends (responsibly whilst social distancing of course). Work hard, “play” hard… or well, as hard as my CFS allows me to do either haha. I want to get back into eating healthy and actually going outside for a walk. And most of all I want to finish that freaking PhD.

I Swear By My Pretty Floral Bonnet I Will End You GIF by efitz11 | Gfycat

To help me start 2021 the best way I can, I have actually asked to get Monday the 4th off. That day I will spend taking stock of my PhD and plan the work that I have left to do. At least this year I won’t have to try to fit it around another Masters course, as well as a full-time job. It’s just the full-time job that is left… Piece of cake right? *Cough* Right… I will just keep telling myself that until I believe it lol.

From the 5th onward my plan is to get up at 6 a.m. every weekday, so I can take my time waking up, hopefully do some exercise (be it 10 minutes of yoga or a short walk depending on what my body and the weather allows) and do 1 hour of writing a day before work starts. On the weekends I will sleep until 7 a.m. so as to get myself a little extra rest without messing up my sleep rhythm. My Saturdays will remain the day on which I do absolutely nothing that is work or PhD related. On Sunday though I will dedicate at least the first half of the day to my PhD. So if I want to meet-up with friends I first have to do a bit of writing, before I get to play.

At the same time I will try to get back into the habit of eating healthy again. The past couple of months I have just eaten whatever I fancied whilst attempting to retain my sanity, but that seriously needs to stop. I have already told my Herbalife coach that I will be joining the 90 day challenge… so wish me luck. Honestly, I am craving vegetables so badly after Christmas that I don’t see that as being too much of an issue haha.

Needless to say I have no intention of beating myself up if I have to amend the above mentioned routine sometimes. Honestly, I am not perfect (much as I dislike it, being the perfectionist I am) nor am I Superwoman (according to my former colleagues at the Bodleain I am more of a Captain Marvel lol), so I will just take it as it goes and try to make the best of it.

So yeah, 2021… stability, structure and routine. Here I come! Higher. further. faster 😉

Another life update

Well, remember now I wrote in my previous post that I finally head the headspace to start planning, work on my PhD and focus on my weightloss journey again, because I had gotten a job and wasn’t going to start until Octorber? Well, guess what did not happen, because life threw me a (wonderful, but super stressful) curve-ball?

Just after I had accepted an archives related role with a big social media company, my former work in The Netherlands reached out to me with a job offer. It was an offer I honestly couldn’t refuse. The one I had just accepted was on a project basis for 3 to possibly 6 months, though it might get extended and was basically glorified data entry. Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with that. If that is your jam, more power to you! I, however, work better whilst doing a job that mentally challenges me. The project based job also meant I would be working as a contact worker and though the job agency did arrange for things like sick pay, paid holidays were not in the cards…. What my previous job offered me was a more challenging, better paying job, in a company I knew I loved, for 1 year after which I may be hired permanently and with much better benefits. Think travel cost reimbursement, holidays and holiday pay (in The Netherlands you get an x number of holidays based on the amount you work, as well as money called “holiday money” that is either payed every year in May or on a monhtly basis)…. Oh and did I mention the prospect of a Christmas package? I never realized this was a typically Dutch thing, but here in the Netherlands employers give their employees a package, which is kind of like a Christmas hamper, with goodies to thank them for their hard work in the past year…. Honestly UK bosses: you need to start doing this!

So as you can imagine, I actually turned down the project job and accepted the one at my previous job. I was on the payroll within 2 days and immediately had to get myself up to speed with everything, as I was to manage two big projects that were due to start in 2 weeks time…. Remember when I wrote that I like a job to challenge me? Well, I sure got what I wished for haha.

Having a job in the Netherlands of course also meant moving there… So after I felt like I got the hang of my new job, my spare time was taken up with digital house hunting and preparing for an international move during a global pandemic… Yeah… to say it was a stressful time is a bit of an understatement. Needless to say, I just put everything else (weight-loss, PhD etc.) back on the back burner for the time being. I just went into full-on surivival mode.

We were super lucky that my niece’s lovely husband volunteered to come and collect me and the cats and drive us back to the Netherlands with all our stuff. I cannot believe how lucky we are to have friends and family that are willing to literally drive to another country to come help us move. I feel truely, truely blessed.

By December 2nd we were back in Holland. I had taken a week off for the move, but had to immediately get back to work the Monday after. So I have basically been unpacking, working and getting ready for the holidays up until now… Though of course I have also made sure to make some time for family and friends. I had not seen my parents, mother-in-law or best friend for over a year… I had missed them so much, so damn right I was going to make time for them ;).

With everything going on it wasn’t until this week that I finally felt like I could sort of breath again and that I have been able to take stock of everything going on. This has also meant that I could finally deal with some of the emotions I have been pushing to the background just to get through the past couple of months without getting a mental breakdown.

This week I realized just how much of the past year I have been trying not to think about how much I was missing friends and family. I had not seen anyone in person for months. Since lockdown started in March, I had only gone out to “hang out” with other people once, which was on my last day of work at the Bodleian. Moreover, a questionaire from the University asking me for a PhD status update made me painfully aware that I had been avoiding thinking of how little I have been working on it all year. Let’s just say I shed some tears this week….

I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to 2021, which is going to be a much more stable year for me. And gosh, does stability sound good right about now. That is one of the reasons why I have decided to pick “stability” as my word for 2021. But more on that in the next post… Stay tuned and stay safe lovely people.

And so it begins… Tun tun tuuuunnn!!!

Yes that’s right… A second blogpost in one week. It’s a Christmas miracle lol. I thought it would be nice timing though, as I officially start my weight loss journey again today.

Now I’m not going to share any before and after photographs or measurements, as I would like to keep those private. However, I will share with you my starting weight.

This morning the scales read: 77.2 kg (170 lbs)… which is apparently the same as 513 Guadeloupean banana’s!

Picture taken from Weight and Things

All joking aside though, that’s almost 3 kg heavier then when I started this weight loss blog last time. It’s the heaviest I have been in about a decade. Not a proud moment, I have to admit.

How did I gain all that weight you ask? Well let’s just say that lockdown and stress eating are a pretty lethal combination. Since Covid has apparently decided to stick around for a while, I cannot do much about the lockdown part. However, that does not mean that I cannot take better care of my body.

So, time to set a new weight loss goal. For now, I want to focus on getting down to 71kg (156.6 lbs), as this would put in within a healthy BMI range (I’m 169cm). So I have to lose 6 kg (13 lbs) or 40 bananas lol.

Having been here before, I know how important it is to have the right motivation behind weight loss and I thought I’d share with you all my reasons for wanting to lose the weight (again). In the previous post I mentioned wanting to fit into my clothes again. And yes, that’s a really good motivator. However, the most important reason is health related.

As most of you lovely readers will know I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Apart from a lack of energy this chronic illness brings with it a lot of other issues for me, including digestive issues and joint pain. Both are aided by pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Eating only those foods that my body can digest properly and that nourish my body will result in more energy: the less effort my stomach has to put into digesting things, the more energy it can spend on other things. And for the joint pain: more weight equals more strain equals more pain.

Ergo, for me to feel the best I can with my illness I need to take proper care of my body…. I know: shocker! And yet, the past couple of months I have not really been doing that. In part that was because of me just getting complacent and part of it had to do with the stress of finding a new job during a global pandemic. Having found the new job though, there really is no excuse for me to continue stuffing food that I know is not necessarily doing me any favours down my throat… I’m looking at you chocolate digestives…

So that stops now. From today I am back on the weight loss train and my lovely coach Kim has sent me a handy week planner to track my food, water intake and healthy snacks. I will also be tracking my calories and macro’s again using myfitnesspal. It’s easy, it’s cheap: what’s not to like? lol

I have also been considering doing the 1 gallon of water a day challenge that everyone and their grandmother is currently doing. But gosh that is a lot of water. 2 litres? No problem! I do that everyday. But 3.7 litres?! That is a struggle (I may or may not have tried it already lol).

Nothing ventured nothing gained though, so bottoms up and see you in the next blog ;).

Thought I’d throw a cute pic in here of our cute little Biscuit.

Hi there: life update and restarting my weight loss journey

Hi There...' by CrimsonKanji on DeviantArt

*Removes some cobwebs, whilst cat runs after a spider* Well hello there! I am sure by now you were wondering if this blog was ever going to see another update. Surprise! I’m back!

Well sort of… I am not going to promise to write every single week, as I know that my CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) does not always allow me to do so – don’t underestimate brain fog. However, I do plan to most more frequently than twice a year haha. And why? Because I now actually have the time, the head space and a reason to do so!

Up until mid-June I was juggling 4.5 days of work with completing a post graduate degree in Digital Curation and trying to do even a little bit of work on my PhD (still working on this…). Add a 5 hour (2,5 to and 2,5 fro) daily commute to that pre-lockdown and you can probably see why I did not exactly have any time or energy to blog.

However, my new job, which I am to start in October, actually has me working from home so that leaves a lot more time and energy to work on different things! Huzzah! Time to dust off this blog, make some progress with that PhD and actually get back into planning.

So…what’s my reason to get back into blogging? I can’t say my life is particularly interesting at the moment as Birmingham is going back into local lockdown as I write this. So don’t expect any outdoorsy adventures, because there are going to be none (I’m high risk: I don’t leave the house unless I 100% have to!).

So why then? Well to be frank: accountability. Like, I need to lose these Covid kilo’s so I can fit back into some of my clothes lol. Yeah… like almost everyone else I have gained weight… And it was not just being stuck in doors that did this… It was also the stress of finding a new job during a global pandemic. I had two job interviews lined-up in March and then lockdown happened, causing them both to be postponed indefinitely. And let me tell you, it’s been one hell of a struggle finding a different one.

I’ve always been someone who handles stress really well, but apparently when it comes to unemployment… well, not so much… I can now honestly say I have a new standard to measure stress against: “I am so stressed it is giving my cat bladder problems”. Poor Pancake has been having a right old time peeing because she picks up on my stress, the poor thing! But don’t worry I am doing all I can to make sure she gets better!

So, basically this means this blog is going back to its roots. I created it in May 2016 for the exact purpose of helping me lose weight, so we are just starting right over again ;).

For now, my weight loss journey will mostly involve adjusting what I eat as finding an appropriate workout has been a struggle… You know that feeling that makes you genuinely feel great when you have done a workout as the adrenaline and endorphins rush through your body? Well turns out that for CFS suffers it doesn’t work that way. Research suggests that our body either doesn’t create endorphins, or does so only in a small amount when we exercise. As a result, if I do anything high intensity I feel absolutely awful and cannot do anything intensive for days on end. So no Chloe Ting 2 week shred for me… >.>

Walking has always been a great way for me to get my exercise in without too much backlash… which is great, but not during lockdown. I have, however, found a series of Youtube videos with “walk 1 mile at home” workouts so I will be doing those. The key will be to build this up and not immediately start doing them every day… Which I have to say sounds depressing. I mean, my brain is like: it’s 15 minutes of walking in place with some sidesteps… Like… seriously? What’s so freaking hard? And my body just goes like: try doing this two days in a row and I will make you SUFFER! <– yeah I made that mistake… Not doing that again.

So healthy food it is! As always, I am being helped in this by my lovely Herbalife coach Kim van der Laan. She introduced me to the Herbalife shake + herbal supplements years ago and they really have made a difference. I take the sake every morning and the fiber supplements 3 times a day. Kim’s coaching has been extremely flexible, and she really adjusts it to my needs. I can reach out if and when I need her, but it’s also okay if I need to take a step back. Honestly, I cannot recommend Kim or Herbalife enough to those who want more energy and to create a healthy lifestyle. If you are interested, let me know and I am happy to answer any questions or bring you in contact with Kim.

In the next blog I will go into more detail about my current and target weight, weight-loss plan etc. so stay tuned for that.

As always thank you for reading <3.

2019: the year I embraced my spooniness

*Blows away some dust and coughs*. Well, this place has been pretty quiet hasn’t it? I’m afraid 2019 has seen one whole blogpost…. Yeah, that’s a new low even for me. But, I’m not going to apologize for it, as I don’t feel guilty in the least.

2019 has been a year of learning, realizations and acceptance for me. And the one big thing that lead to this is that I have learned how to get better at being a spoonie. For those unfamiliar with the term: a spoonie is someone with a chronic illness. The nickname comes from spoon theory. This basically means that you only have so much energy to spend, which is represented by spoons. Some days you have a lot of spoons and on other days only a couple. Or on the really bad days you have absolutely none and you are reduced to being a total couch potato.

Previously, (read only a couple of months ago) I used to get very frustrated on my zero spoon days. On those days I had usually planned on either working on my Aberystwyth homework or on my PhD, meal prep, do the dishes or laundry… Or, preferably all of the above. I would have included this to do list in my planner complete with matching stickers. So imagine waking up and instead finding that all you could do that day was make your way down the stairs, pop down on the couch and for dinner pop a ready meal into the microwave… Of course I spent the better of that day mentally beating myself up for not being the least bit productive that day. This state of mind wasn’t improved by staring at the part in my planner with my to do list and having to face the fact that I could not tick off one single thing. So by the end of that day I was frustrated and felt like a failure.

It took me a good while to realise that such thoughts were not just depressing, but incredibly unhelpful. Being frustrated certainly didn’t help my energy levels go up miraculously nor did it help me in any way. Shocker right?

So, I decided to stop thinking this way. I literally stopped planning and decided to listen to my body on my days off to see what it needed. If it can shove some dishes in the dishwasher that day, I do that. If I have a really good Sunday enabling me to write: whoot! Here for it. And on the zero spoon days? I now make myself a nice cup of tea (and I mean fancy, comforting tea), curl up underneath my fleece blanked on the couch, wait for one of my cats to join me for some lovely cuddles and just binge watch a Netflix series. I declare those days self-care/recharge days and try to enjoy them. I know that I always (and I mean always) push myself to do the best I can at everything I do, and on some days just getting out of bed is all I can manage. And you know what: that’s good enough for me.

got out of bed.jpg

As a result, I have stopped decorative planning. I really miss using my stickers, but hey: no matter how cute that sticker is it sure isn’t worth feeling like crap for. I am still holding on to my planner supplies for now, just in case I change my mind. If not… I am sure I can find a friend who is into journaling that would appreciate them just as much as I do.

Adopting this “I do things when I have the energy for it” approach also meant very few blogposts. In the grand scheme of things, they simply did not have priority this year. I work 4,5 days a week, am doing a postgraduate course (which is going really well by the way: I’m ahead of schedule at the moment) and work on a PhD whenever I can… So with that much on my plate I simply didn’t want to pressure myself in writing blogs. After all, they are supposed to be written for the fun of it, not because I feel like I have to. So instead, I opened an instagram account where I sometimes post pictures. If I snap a good picture or have something to share I post it on there. But again, it’s a no pressure “la-dy-da” approach. No promises, no regular update times. I post whenever feel like it. I would love it if you could sneak in for a peak sometimes. My instagram account is @positivelymar.

My embrace of spooniedom has also lead me to stop entering weight-loss related challenges. I just really want to focus on listening to my body and getting it to a state where it functions at its best. And that comes with enough challenges on its own. Honestly, because of my illness the motivational quotes that were supposed to help me reach my goals during the challenges were getting a bit on my nerves. Constantly being told “do your best” gets a bit frustrating if that is all you are doing. Living with a chronic illness means that you are constantly pushing yourself: whether it is to go to get out of bed, to go to work, to write… And in those cases regular motivational quotes can be discouraging as they make you feel like you aren’t doing enough. So… I stopped. Instead I started following some instagram accounts from fellow spoonies that share messages that currently resonate more with the stage of life I am currently at, like “you are enough”, “you are already doing everything you can, hang in there”. This does mean I have gained a bit of weight again, but I am sure that will come off as soon as I find the right balance.

Before I end this blog, I do want to make it clear that this new approach doesn’t mean that I feel sorry for myself, have planned to spend all my weekends in bed and will never try to achieve another goal in my life again. I mean, come on…. Have we met haha? I still have that freaking PhD to finish and I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will finish it!


No, this new approach simply means that I am learning to roll with the punches. That I am trying to work with my illness, not against it. A lot of people with chronic illness feel as if their body actively working against them. As if they are choosing to subject them to pain, fatigue etc. Well, I am not sure I agree. I am pretty sure my body and mind are in the same (rickety) boat. So instead of constantly quarrelling over who should be steering (and occasionally scoop out the water), we’re gonna have to learn to sail this thing together.

When I declared at the end of last year that 2019 would be the year of change, embracing spooniness wasn’t exactly the change I had in mind. But it was the change I needed. For the upcoming year I’m just going to continue this change. As I result, I am not going to make any resolutions, promises or set any definite goals for 2020. I’ll just see how it goes, go with the flow and cross bridges when I get that far. In short: I’m going to live life by using one spoon at a time.

For you, my dear readers I hope that 2020 will treat you well and that you will learn to be kind to yourself. We so often demand the world of yourselves, where we wouldn’t dream of demanding even half of that from others. It’s time we are a bit more forgiving to ourselves and learn to listen: to our mind, our heart and our bodies. Have a lovely 2020.




I liiivveee!!!!


I have never identified with Mushu (from the Disney movie Mulan) more than right now. February is finally over and I have somehow managed to make all my deadlines and to retain (what was left of) my sanity.

Honestly, what was I thinking when I set myself a two month deadline to not just finish a masters module + 4500 word report, but also to hand in a draft of my entire PhD dissertation?! Since January 2nd my life has basically revolved around work and studying… Ok and sleeping, because that was sorely needed to. There was absolutely 0 room or time for a social life. Thankfully, I have lovely collegues where I work so had lots of conversation during our breaks, which definitely helped to keep me sane.

In a facebook post I wrote that I really hoped I would never have to do something this nuts again… Unfortunately for me, as this was only the draft of my dissertation, I am sure that I will have to make quite a few corrections. So give it a month or two and it will be the “return of the insane deadlines” *que Star Wars music*.

But yes, this was one of the reasons why this blog has been a bit dead recently. I’ve been insanely busy and there really just wasn’t much going on in my life… But this month all that is going to change!

Why? Because travel! And people! In the second week of March I will be off to Aberyswyth to attend a study school there. During the study school I will basically be attending lectures related to the postgraduate degree I am currently doing. To make the experience as authentic as possible I once more get to enjoy all that dormlive has to offer, such as shared toilets and showers with nowhere to to hang your dry clothes! How exciting! The thing I really do look forward to through is the three warm meals a day that I don’t have to cook myself… The last time I went in September the food was seriously good… and free (cause work’s paying!). That just makes everything better doesn’t it?

Almost immediately after that I will be travelling to Amsterdam for 6 days. It will be so nice to see my parents and some of my friends again. I’ve really missed them and I am only sorry I cannot see everyone in the small amount of time I have. It won’t be all play though! I will be spending at least 1,5 days of my vacation at the University with one of my supervisors as we go through the draft of my PhD to discuss the corrections I am going to have to make…. Work-a-holic? Who me? I don’t know what you are talking about.

But yes, look forward to a bit more activity here. Also if you would like me to blog about a particular aspect of my life in England (the food, the people, the towns) let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do 😉

This is Mar, signing off.

2018, what a year!


I cannot believe it is almost Christmas. Honestly, time seems to have absolutely flown by this year. And what a year it has been.

2018 was the year that I moved to the UK, got a new job at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, started a new post-graduate study in Digital Curation for said job and travelled outside of Europe for the first time to go to Walt Disney World.

Unfortunately, because everything that has been going on, it has also been the year of a distinct lack of blog posts. After moving to the UK I had intended to post a lot of updates to keep everyone updated about everything that has been going on. However, I soon had to admit to myself once more that I am not super woman. ^__^” Apparently working 4,5 days a week and doing a study a long side that is pretty tiring and does not leave a lot of time for things like blog posts… Who knew, right? Thankfully, I now have 1,5 weeks off until January 2nd, as the library closes over Christmas (… I don’t think I have a had a proper Christmas break since high school o.o).

But that does not mean that I will be lounging around binge watching Netflix the entire time though. Why, you ask? Well… because I have a massive deadline coming up! By the end of February I have to submit the full draft of my PhD thesis. Now at this stage I am only fine tuning my conclusion and editing my introduction… Nevertheless, it is still pretty daunting, with everything else that is going on. Oh, did I mention I have to hand in a 3000 word report for a course I am doing for my postgraduate degree at the same time? So yes the first two months of the new year are going to be heaps of “fun”.

On the other hand, I am glad to have a final deadline for the PhD in sight. I have been really focussed on getting my bearings here in England and have been neglecting working on it. So, I suppose this is a good kick in the bum to get back on track and finally finish the thing!

So to help me make that deadline I will have to do some proper planning. And for this reason I am going to get myself back into decorative planning (which basically is planning with pretty stickers). I was pretty into this last year, but had to stop myself as I noticed planning was becoming a chore and because I was mentally beating myself up over not checking off everything on my to do list for that day, simply because I was too tired. Which is never a good thing. Afterwards, it was pretty hard to get back into planning cause I had lost my mojo. Also, if your day consists of commuting to work whilst doing homework, working and watching some Netflix in the evening… well there is not much planning needed for that. But now that I have to fit my PhD into this somehow, this requires a lot more planning.

So I suppose those are my goals for 2019: finish the darned PhD and get back into planning. Oh, and maybe lose the 2 kilo’s I gained whilst eating all the things at Disney XD.

Do you have any goals set for 2019? Feel free to share in the comments!


My life as an English archivist trainee

Well this blogpost is waaayy overdue. Apologies for the long wait people, I was just struggling a bit to come to terms with working 4,5 weeks, doing school work and having a commute that turned out to be way longer (because you cannot trust English public transport). It’s not been all work and no play though, as I have also met up with some friends here in the UK to visit places like Coventry, Leamington Spa and to explore Oxford together.

In my last blogpost I promised you an update on my new job. I’m afraid, however, that it has to be a rather generic post, as my hands are a bit tied due to the social media policy. That being said, I will try to make this blog as interesting as I can nonetheless.

The first thing I want to say is that I feel really blessed as I really like my colleagues. They are all very sweet and have tried hard to make me feel at home. After leaving WoningNet this was the thing that I was most worried about, as my WoningNet colleagues are all super sweet and awesome. I have kept in touch with some of them and it is great hearing from them once in a while. I still miss them, but I am glad that I have found such wonderful colleagues here in the UK.

Ok, so now you know I like my colleagues. But what about the job? Well that isn’t half bad either (read: I am really enjoying myself). I am currently being trained in one of the reading rooms to help answer questions of readers and give out books and other materials readers wish to look at. As the material belongs to the special collections these books cannot leave the reading room, so we have to keep an close eye on it.

I am also learning how to catalogue a collection comprised of the work of a contemporary poet. The first step in this was taking all the items out of boxes and placing them in special archive boxes, whilst making a list in Excel detailing what I was putting in each box… Now this may sound boring, but it was strangely exciting, because I was never sure what I would find in each box. I definitely did not expect to be cataloguing 5 different coloured corkscrews or temporary tattoos… Yep, bet you didn’t see that one coming either. I am pretty sure I lucked out with this collection though.

The next step is determining how I wish to arrange the catalogue and including this in a cataloguing plan, which I will be working on after my break today.

I have also been taught how to digitize cassette tapes and other media whilst using forensic technology, and will be helping to implementing a new system that will my workplace to catalogue digital media more effectively.

I have also learned how to archive websites so they can be kept for posterity even when their owners take them offline. I think this is a brilliant initiative, as I am pretty sure we all come across one of two websites that we would have looked at a bit more after they went offline.

I’m afraid that is all for now. My break is nearly over. I hope to be able to post a bit more frequently now I have some sort of routine going here. If you have any questions about my life in the UK, feel free to ask :).