For starters, M and I have moved into a new apartment, after lots of issues with our last one we decided it was best to just find somewhere new and start over. There were a few weeks of pure stress between packing up our life in a week, moving temporarily into his parents’ house, and then moving everything all over again once our flat was ready. Don’t even get me started on unpacking and arranging things nicely…
Now we’ve been here almost 2 months, things have settled down somewhat. In that time I’ve delivered 4 workshops, we’ve celebrated both of our birthdays, I got past the 6 year anniversary of Mum’s death (I’ll talk about that in a bit, but I can’t believe how long it’s been) and I’ve also started a new job.
As you may remember if you follow me, I left my old job back in May as it was taking a massive toll on my mental health. Since then I’ve been working on building myself up and discovering how to look after my wellbeing better, both physically and mentally. I’ve been so fortunate that I have an amazing partner who has supported us both for the past 6 months, and I know it’s been an incredible stress on him to do so. After months of getting myself back to ‘normal’ (whatever that means) and applying to several jobs with no luck, I finally felt ready to look for a part time job in retail.
Me and retail have a bit of a history. In the past it’s chewed me up and spat me out, leaving me feeling anxious, stressed, and burnt out. This time I am older, wiser, and far better supported to take on this challenge, so I decided it was the best option to bring some money in and keep myself busy while I’m working on building the business. I applied to a company I’ve worked for in the past, that I always felt was ‘less intense’ than most shops. Happily, I have secured a role, and November has been about learning how to balance shift work with the rest of my life, as well as celebrating birthdays, getting a bit excited for Christmas, and coming to terms with winter. The last one sounds odd I know but hear me out.
As the nights get longer and the days colder, I am taken back 6 years. Just after Mum died winter arrived, matching my mood perfectly;dark, gloomy, and increasing the crushing weight of grief I was trying to ignore.I felt lost, lonely, and like I was never going to emerge from the darkness that was suffocating me. That year my heart was broken, and so was my love for the cosy, lazy, winter months.
In the years since I’ve somewhat repaired my relationship with the season, helped greatly by my amazing Michael, who is a constant source of light through the dark. But every year as the temperature drops and the days get shorter, I feel that sense of dread threatening to creep in. I fight to hold it back, because now I am motivated to do so, and I have the strength in me. The first few years after she died the darkness entirely overwhelmed me. I needed to go through that in order to discover how strong I really am, but I spent a long time feeling like I didn’t have any strength at all.
Even when mum was alive Christmas was difficult. For many years as she grew more ill, in and out of hospitals and care facilities, we missed out on enjoying the season. When she died Christmas felt even more like a celebration of what I didn’t have. I spent several Christmases very gratefully but very awkwardly staying with different friends/boyfriends’ families. Always touched to be invited, but never feeling like I belonged (apart from the year I spent with one of my best friends at the invitation of her wonderful Mum. Whenever I visit them I feel completely at home <3). I would always spend the day acutely aware of her absence, and the absence of my own family to be close to at ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. The perfect pictures and posts online only fuelled that, making me feel like the only person who wasn’t having a happy time. I know that’s as far from the truth as you can get, too many people sadly spend Christmas lonely or struggling.
Because of my history with winter and the holidays, I know I need to ramp up my self-care at this time of year. To be honest, I need to ramp up my self-care all year round, but winter especially makes me fragile. So I made a plan.
It’s a 25-day challenge, starting tomorrow (Saturday 1st December) right up to Christmas day. Each day participants get an email in their inbox with a mini self-love focused challenge to complete. There will also be lots of surprises and freebies along the way! I’m super excited to take part, I think this will be the first online challenge that I’ll actually complete!(I’ve tried many email/web challenges, many times before but always given up part way through, or before I’ve even started)
To help me succeed, I’m going to be taking part in Blogmas and blogging about my experiences along the way. I’ll write short, fairly unedited accounts of how I got on with each days’ challenge and share some content on social too. I’m also going to write a few posts looking in depth at topics around wellbeing, self-care, and confidence. This December I’m giving myself the gift of blogging!
To join the Self-Love Advent Calendar sign up by clicking the link or image above, or search #AdventChallenge on Instagram for more info.
To everyone who struggles with the season, you are not alone. I see you, and we’ll get through this together.
Take care of yourself as much as possible,