The Lottery Game

How playing the lottery game can help get you on track with your dreams and goals...

Do you ever play the lottery game? It’s a bit of a fruitless past-time, given the odds, but it’s sometimes fun to imagine just what you would spend all that money on, if given the chance. Paul and I like to get very specific, choosing our houses on Rightmove and plotting just exactly where we would travel first, depending on the size of the jackpot. It’s fun to dream about, but I think it might serve another purpose, too… 

Whilst there’s no doubt that we would buy *stuff* (mostly pretty houses and wine cellars full of booze for parties…), what winning the lottery would really do would be to buy us opportunity and time to explore the things we really care about. It begs the question, what would you dedicate yourself to if you didn’t have to work or worry about money? 

Just off the top of my head… I would travel more, try my hand at writing a book, be more conscientious about this blog, spend more time with my family and friends, start a supper club. I would want to open up my home, to host friends and family but also strangers. Maybe some sort of writers retreat situation, supper-club-slash-bed-and-breakfast. Some way of sharing and meeting people and having the kind of home where the door is always open and there’s always a bottle of champagne ready to pop. I would maybe want to own a bookshop, or some kind of beautiful space that people could hire for parties and weddings or just because. 

None of those things are impossible without a lottery win, of course. Thankfully, my dreams are not all that expensive, but to achieve them without the backing of my imaginary millions would take more dedication and work. They need to be fitted into a smaller space of time, since I do have to go to my day job and do (some of) my own chores. They’d need more careful thinking to fund and maybe I’d need to choose one or two to start with, rather than jumping in at the deep end with all of them. 

But playing the lottery game, and allowing yourself to dream big and imagine the ‘best case scenario’ can really help solidify your thinking on what you’d like to dedicate your time and energy to in the long run. Whilst it would be ideal for millions to land in your lap so you could see it all through, the chance of that is unlikely so it’s far better to start small(er) now and make some steps towards incorporating those things without the lottery win. I’m hoping to start with this blog (baby-clingy-ness-dependent) over the next few months but you can be sure that I’ve made a note of the other things on my list to start checking off… 

What would you be doing if you won the lottery?

How playing the lottery game can help get you on track with your dreams and goals...

How playing the lottery game can help get you on track with your dreams and goals...

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June

Counting down the days until our little one’s arrival…

Being showered in lots of love and presents at my beautiful book-themed baby shower. 

Feeling very slow and heavy! 

Drowning in baby-related admin and appointments. 

Finishing work for the year (but already sort of wanting to go back…). 

Loving Master of None and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt being back on our screens. 

Learning to do laundry now I’m a housewife! 

Celebrating Paul’s 37th birthday with chocolate cake. 

Scoffing Poffertjes at Eat North with my family. 

Travelling down South to toast my Grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. 

Getting fancy at Bettys with Emma for a long overdue catch up. 

Signing off on our last NCT class… but not feeling much more prepared. 

Writing a birth plan and realising that it’s all getting very real… 

Making the most of peony season with plenty of bunches. 

Googling every little twinge + ‘sign of labour?’ 

Needing to fill up the bath more to try and cover the bump… 

Enjoying the sunshine, but also feeling rather glad that it’s gone for a little while. 

Getting butterflies that we’ll have a baby by this time next month… 

How about you?

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My Pregnancy Survival Tips

Tips for surviving and thriving during pregnancy

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have *not* enjoyed being pregnant. This, despite the fact that I have been blessed with a (so far) healthy and low-key pregnancy. Mostly, I’m just a big whiner. Growing a human, it turns out, is not one of my favourite past-times but sadly it takes rather a long time – so I’ve learnt a few tips and tricks along the way to make it a bit more bearable. 

Take a Lot of Baths

This is tip number one, for sure. Baths are relaxing and lovely at the best of times, but even more so when you’re pregnant. It’s a chance to take the weight off, quite literally, and feel comfortable. Plus, it’s a relatively effective method for easing the minor aches and pains that you pick up on the daily when living the pregnant life. I’ve stocked up on a whole bunch of romance novels for light bath time reading (no complex plots or distressingly sad endings!) and was happily gifted a load of Lush bath bombs for Christmas and my birthday, so they’ve been keeping me going for the most part. Pro-tip: take a bar of chocolate or other favourite snack into the bath – it’s about as decadent as life gets when you’re pregnant. My only other ‘beauty’ tip – invest in some Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for your bump. I don’t know whether it’s actually contributed to my total lack of stretch marks, or whether that’s just luck, but it smells lovely and feels very luxurious to give yourself some fancy daily moisturising. 

Buy a Pregnancy Pillow 

Having a pregnancy pillow has been an absolute life saver for me; I’ve actually been sleeping relatively well since I started to use it properly, which has made everything else seem a little bit rosier. I have this one, which also handily goes with my bedroom decor. 

Nap As Often As You Can 

I have never been a big napper, but whilst pregnant I have learnt to let go of my guilt around napping and fully embraced having one or two extra little sleeps a day. In my first trimester, this was absolutely essential in order to survive to the end of the day, and that feeling is looping round again now as I near my due date, but even when I was feeling a bit perkier, it’s been a great way to feel a little bit more human and capable. Plus, everyone tells you to sleep whilst you can, and although I’m not sure you can ‘bank’ sleep, it’s better not to go into your new adventure totally exhausted, if at all possible. 

Try Not to Overload Your Social Calendar 

This is a case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ if ever I saw one. At the beginning, we had something on every weekend (including hosting almost 20 people for Friendsgiving…), which was very poor planning on my part as having no time to rest and recuperate led to me getting super sick over Christmas with a lovely combination of ‘morning sickness’ (which was more like all-day-nausea) and a two-week-long cold. And then we’ve just had another run of busy weekends as everyone ramps up their social events again for summer – which is lovely, but also very tiring.

Surrender to Flat Shoes 

For a short-arse like me, this totally sucks. But my back and my hips thank me for it if I opt for trainers over boots, so I’ve been living in my Converse. Bonus: they’re basically slip-on, which is very handy now that there’s a baby in the way of me bending down to tie my laces. I’ve also just invested in a pair of TOMS sandals on the recommendation of a friend, and they’re maybe the best sandals I’ve ever owned (plus, they’re on sale right now…). They don’t rub, even though my feet are, ahem, larger than usual at the moment and they have a squidgy base so they’re super comfortable. 

H&M Do the Best Maternity Wear 

Dressing for pregnancy is the biggest challenge (you know, other than the whole ‘growing a human’ thing) and finding clothes that make you feel like yourself can make all the difference to how you feel, as shallow as that may seem. Having tested quite a few of the high street brands, it’s H&M that have led the way for me; my wardrobe is mostly made of basics anyway and H&M have a good collection which isn’t too pricey (given that you’ll only be wearing these clothes for a short period of time). However, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule – New Look Petite maternity jeans are the only ones I’ve found that fit the length of my legs and don’t end up falling down after twenty minutes of wear (so if you’re also 5’0″, this might be relevant to your interests) and I have loved the two dresses that I picked up from the Seraphine sale for special occasions. 

Go To Some Classes & Do Your Research 

I know that people have mixed feelings about NCT classes, but we had a wholly positive experience with ours (even if my squeamish self did have to leave the room for some of the more graphic descriptions of labour…). I feel a lot more calm and confident about what’s coming up as a result, and it’s been a great jumping off point for doing our own research. I’d already read a few books and done some general investigating before the classes, but having someone with some qualifications confirm what I thought I knew was really invaluable. I think the classes were particularly good for Paul, too, as there was an equal focus on what birth partners can be doing to support and prepare, which has helped him feel a lot happier with the whole process. Plus, we made some nice parent pals to hang out with on maternity leave, so that’s a positive, too! Knowledge is power, my friends – but be careful where you get your information as it’s very easy to fall into a forum or two where misinformation is rife… I’ve freaked myself out on more than one occasion doing that! 

Feel All Your Feelings Without Guilt

I have been wholly honest on this blog and on my social media channels (mostly Instagram) about the ups and downs I’ve experienced during pregnancy. As someone who is generally pretty positive and who considers herself very ‘blessed’ (ugh, I know), it’s been tricky for me to feel so down so much of the time, especially when pregnancy is supposed to be the harbinger of joy rather than sorrow. At times, I have felt really terrible about it and as if I’m already a terrible mother simply for wishing for one damn minute I could not be pregnant, but, ultimately, my feelings are my feelings and there’s no point feeling guilty about them. (Phew, that’s a lot of feelings in one sentence!). There have equally been moments of pure joy and happiness, so it’s all swings and roundabouts (especially due to those pesky hormones), so don’t beat yourself up (and don’t let anyone else do the metaphorical beating, either). 

Let People Be Nice To You 

Oh god, do I struggle with this one. When you are pregnant – and especially when you are visibly very pregnant – everyone will go out of their way to be nice to you. You will have the same conversations about names, due dates and sex of your baby multiple times a day with strangers. And it’s not just strangers – friends and family will buy you presents, travel for your baby shower and insist that you take a damn seat rather than running around doing things. At times this is particularly difficult; it can feel like you’re a bit useless, which is rather frustrating. But, let people be nice to you and revel in having drinks brought to you and chores taken off your hands. You’re growing a baby – you deserve a little rest and relaxation! 

Do you have any tips to add? I’ve still got a few weeks left, so there’s still time… (!) 


 

 

Pregnancy Survival Tips // Amy Elizabeth

Tips for surviving and thriving during pregnancy

A few tips for surviving pregnancy and how to thrive during pregnancy. [/caption]

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Sex Object: A Review

I’m not sure what drove me to pick up Jessica Valenti’s Full Frontal Feminism but to say that doing  so changed my life would be an understatement. I think I might always have been a feminist; growing up with the Spice Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer ingrained the idea of ‘Girl Power’ and I’ve always had a strong sense of justice (as all children have, it seems). But it wasn’t until I read Full Frontal Feminism that I understood more about the movement, and began to claim the word ‘feminist’ as my identifier. I don’t know that any women in my life before that point would have actively and proudly called themselves feminists, although many of them lived by feminist principles, so reading this book gave me an insight into exactly what the feminist struggle was about. I remember feeling that impotent rage that I think strikes all young people when they become politically aware; so angry at the state of things, and so unaware of how to affect change. Statistics on domestic violence and rape rang in my ears as I sought out more feminist work out in the world. My birthday present the year after was a pile of feminist literature, much of which still lines my bookshelves. I devoured feminist blogs and books and went on to study Gender, Sexuality and Queer Theory, doing my dissertation on online feminist communities like the one that Valenti set up – Feministing.com. My feminism became more nuanced, more thoughtful. Still angry, but in a different way. Slowly but surely, feminism (and the other social justice principles I learnt along the way) became the guiding light of my life. And I owe that lightbulb moment, that spark, to Jessica Valenti. 

So I was more than a little excited to pick up her latest work, Sex Object – a memoir that asks the question: 

Who would I be if I didn’t live in a world that hated women? 

This is not a book that tiptoes around the issue of misogyny and objectification, Valenti is unflinching in describing and discussing the effects of growing up female in a world where doing so means ‘that it’s not a matter of if something bad happens, but when and how bad.’ At times, her descriptions of the ways she has been objectified and abused by men (from the ‘everyday sexism’ stuff, to real violence and violation) feels too raw, maybe even exaggerated. But really, how many of women can’t come up with a similar number of stories that have either happened to us, or to people we know and love? We bond over these stories, sharing them between ourselves in the understanding that this is just what it means to be a woman, but, imagine, if just for one minute, that wasn’t the case? I am ‘lucky’ in the grand scheme of things; my stories amount to a handful of street harassment incidents, some uncomfortable conversations with customers and colleagues, and a litany of gropes from strangers in bars and nightclubs. The fact that makes me ‘lucky’ is a sad indictment indeed. I shouldn’t feel lucky, but I do, because I have heard stories from female friends that bring tears to my eyes to even think about – tears of empathy and pain, and also of anger that this is still the world we live in. That the best we can hope for is my story, the lucky one, rather than a life of lightness and freedom, of never having to go through life, as Valenti puts it ‘knowing that our discomfort gave someone a hard-on’. 

Valenti has been criticised for not giving her memoir an over-arching theme, for not finding a message in all of the pain and hurt and outrage to package up and give readers hope. I think it’s all the more impactful due to that. There isn’t an answer, and to expect women to be the one to provide one is in itself part of the problem. She is most honest and most scathing when she talks about the daily abuse she has been the recipient of as a prominent feminist on the Internet (flip to the back of the book for just a taste of the tweets and emails she has received, and tell me that these men don’t hate women with every fibre of their being). The accepted wisdom is to feel sorry for Internet trolls, to ignore them, but in doing so we expect women to perform the labour of being okay under a barrage of abuse that would take its toll on even the most resilient of people.  There are very real consequences to the kind of hate and abuse that men mete out to women they despise on the Internet, and it’s all part of the spectrum of other kinds of violence and violation that Valenti describes over the course of her life. If you want a light and fluffy read, this definitely isn’t it, but it will make you think and maybe change your perspective, which can only be a good thing. I highlighted so many quotes when I was reading it, but I wanted to leave you with this one… 

Still, somehow, “man-hater” is tossed around with insouciance as if this was a real thing that did harm. Meanwhile we have no real word for men who kill women. Is the word just “men”? … Still no name for the men who kill women because we have the audacity not to do what we’re supposed to do: fuck you, accept you, want you, let you hurt us, be blank slates for your desires. You are entitled to us, but we’re not even allowed to call you what you are.

Powerful stuff, right? I wasn’t kidding. 

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Summer Bucket List 2017

Summer Bucket List 2017 // Amy Elizabeth

Last autumn, I made a bucket list with all sorts of cosy delights on to celebrate the season – and I mostly stuck to it. I was partly cheating, because I’d already made a lot of those plans, but given that I was suffering with some pretty extreme nausea for most of the autumn and winter months this year, I’m still pretty pleased that I managed to cram in so much goodness. I’ve loved reading a few of the other summer bucket lists I’ve seen floating around the Internet, and wanted to make my own – but there’s a slight spanner in the works, in that I have *no idea* what the rest of the summer is going to hold for us, which makes it very hard to plan. All being well, it’ll only be another six weeks or so before we welcome our new addition (and potentially even less than that!) and everything’s going to be turned upside down. 

Finish the nursery 

This one needs to get ticked off pretty sharpish. We’re almost there, nursery-wise, and it has been a joy to be able to do something for our son before he arrives in the world, other than just carry him about and complain when he kicks me in the ribs. However, there’s still a bit of organising left to do, some pictures to hang on the wall, and a few small bits left to purchase. I know I’ll rest easier knowing that one job is off the list, even if he won’t actually be sleeping in there for the first few months. 

Make & drink an Aperol Spritz

Is it entirely sad that I am very excited about drinking alcohol again? I swear, I have never wanted a glass of wine more than when it has been denied to me. I am contrary like that, and also, wine is delicious (and there is no soft drink that can compare when you’re eating a fancy meal). I don’t miss being drunk, and I certainly don’t miss being hungover, but I do miss alcohol. Top of my list once I’m in the clear is an Aperol Spritz – so I’m stocking up on the ingredients already. I’ve sampled them at various bars, but never made one myself, so that’s the first challenge – but the reward will be sweet (and bitter, and sparkly, and oh, so good). 

Book a photoshoot for our little family 

I have to get Paul on board for this one, but I’d really like to get some professional photos taken of our family of three (or four, if you include Tuna…). Obviously, we’ll both be snapping away once the little one arrives (Paul upgraded his iPhone especially… although I expect that baby photos was only part of the reason!) but it’s difficult to take photos of all three of you without some outside help. We’ll likely be horrible sleep-deprived over the next few months, so I’ll mark this down as a win if we manage to just *book* rather than have the photoshoot itself. I’d also really like to get some snaps of the house now that it’s pretty much done, so I’m hoping to kill two birds with one stone, as it were. 

Have our first barbecue in the garden 

Paul’s parents donated their old barbecue to us last year, but we didn’t get a chance to actually use it before the weather turned. A barbecue is a fairly low-key commitment when it comes to hosting, and I’m imagining this as a casual, spur-of-the-moment style event. I just want to sit in a deck chair with a baby in one hand (preferably having a nice nap… we can dream!), a Pimms in the other, and that delicious barbecue-y smell in the air whilst I catch up with friends. I figure that’s pretty achievable, right? 

Make some ice cream 

I’ve been collecting ice cream recipes on Pinterest for years now, but never actually taken the plunge and made any myself. Paul is convinced that nothing can surpass Ben & Jerry’s in his estimation, but I’m pretty sure I can whip something up that will at least compare favourably. And if that fails? Boozy popsicles. 

Watch the new Baywatch movie 

The Rock and Zac Efron in a cheesy summer blockbuster? I am so there. Light entertainment is the order of the day right now. 

Go to the beach 

I haven’t been to the beach in years and years, so I’d love to take a day trip to one of Yorkshire’s many delightful beaches on a sunny day this summer. Really, I’m just in it for the really vinegary chips and the slightly sandy 99 flakes. 

What’s on your summer bucket list? 

Summer Bucket List 2017 // Amy Elizabeth

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A Few Book Reviews…

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

I’ve had some conflicted feelings about this series so far; the first couple of books seemed to be an amalgamation of a bunch of other popular dystopian YA novels, repackaged and resold. However, I couldn’t stop myself from picking up the sequels, so I’m probably not in any position to criticise – and if you want a story that will keep you turning the pages then this is a good place to go. I actually thought that King’s Cage was the best of the three, because it started to deviate a little from the expected storylines and gave some new perspectives on the storylines from other characters, but I still wasn’t totally blown away. I found the main characters hard to connect and sympathise with; I don’t care if characters are ‘likeable’ but when you know you’re supposed to be rooting for them, it can be tricky if you just don’t really care… Some of the fringe characters feel more interesting and fleshed out to me than Mare, the supposed heroine, and I find myself not caring about the love triangle she finds herself in – despite there being a lot of potential in it as a storyline. In fact, that’s what the whole book felt a bit like to me – wasted potential; there’s a lot of promise but despite my coming back for more each time, I leave a little disappointed. 

Ctrl, Alt; Delete by Emma Gannon 

I have seen this book lauded across the Internet as a relatable memoir about growing up online, and what that means for our generation. And I think I get why; at times, Emma is candid about her own experiences at the hands of the Internet – from the moments where she was the victim, to moments where she used it in slightly nefarious ways herself, as I think we have all done. A lot of her anecdotes were achingly familiar for someone who found the Internet at a similar time, and who has equally made her life and career online – from MSN messenger conversations to typing out blog posts to making friends online, long before that was cool. But, for all her candidness, I also felt a level of detachment in the writing that made it hard to actually ‘relate’ to the author as she charted her journey to adulthood. For me, the book couldn’t quite decide whether it was a memoir that spoke of the author’s learning curve, or whether it was cultural criticism of what the Internet has done to our generation. As the former, it didn’t dig deep enough to satisfy me, and as the latter, there were a lot of speculations and generalisations that didn’t hold water for this erstwhile sociologist. The premise was interesting, and definitely something I want to see explored more as we live longer with the Internet as the background to our lives, but this just didn’t hit the spot for me. 

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus*

If you want an addictive YA novel to see you through your summer holidays, then please pick this one up; it was smart, thrilling and excellently paced – and one of the only books that I have raced through this year, unwilling to become distracted from the storyline. Five strangers walk into detention, but only four walk out alive. When Simon, creator of a gossip website reminiscent of Gossip Girl, but even meaner, and focused on the students of Bayview High, dies under suspicious circumstances, his fellow detention attendees become suspects – especially when it’s revealed that they all had something to hide that Simon was threatening to expose… On the surface, this was a traditional ‘whodunnit’ read, that kept you guessing as pieces of the puzzle were slowly revealed or, rather, it kept me guessing because I am always terrible at working out the plot until it’s right in front of me – but I suspect that even if you do guess, you’ll still enjoy this novel enormously. Whilst the characters are described as the typical YA/high school stereotypes in the blurb (jock, prom queen, nerd…), they were written with complexity and sensitivity and given unexpected but realistic plot lines that made them more than just bit-part players in a murder mystery. Their lives were messy and real, and I’d have been happy to read about them even without the thriller/mystery element of the plot. I don’t want to give too much away, so you really must read this one for yourself! 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon*

Oh, my heart. This book is so adorable and precious, and it will fill you with joy. Sure, it’s a little unrealistic in places (namely, the ending) but do I care when it gives me such a happy feeling? No, not really. Dimple just wants to escape her over-bearing mother and ace her summer web coding programme. Rishi just wants to please his parents and impress his future wife. I want them to just fall in love and live happily ever after. After a very adorable meet cute, in which Dimple has *no clue* that her parents have arranged a marriage with Rishi’s parents behind her back, the two start a slightly rocky friendship. They think they have each other pegged, but as the summer progresses and they reveal their hidden depths to each other and love might just find them after all. And even if it doesn’t, you’ll definitely fall in love with these characters – with fierce, determined Dimple and sweet, soulful Rishi, as well as their friends and family. I never wanted this book to end; I wanted to stay wrapped in its warm embrace forever more – but the best I can do is to pass the recommendation on to you! 

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS THAT IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE PRODUCT LINKS AND BUY SOMETHING, I MAY RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION. BOOKS MARKED WITH A * WERE PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. 

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May

Celebrating our second wedding anniversary, a friend’s 30th birthday and reaching the third trimester! 

Napping more in one month than I have in my entire life combined… 

Growing at a rate of knots – my stomach feels ginormous to me now! 

Exploring Knaresborough with my brother and Jess. 

Scoffing scones with jam and clotted cream at every opportunity. 

Smashing my latest blood test with minimal squeamishness… for me, anyway! 

Learning a lot in our NCT classes – they should probably make you have them before you decide to have a baby! 

Barbecuing on a happily frequent basis. 

Buying plenty of bits for baby’s nursery – it’ll hopefully be done in a week or so! 

Sweltering in the hot weather, and wishing I could have a cool glass of Pimms. 

Watching a lot of new TV series – Master of None, Kimmy Schmidt and American Gods are all on our current list. 

Counting down the days until the election – I can’t stand the tension! 

Nurturing my plants back to life – I’m finally starting to see them flower, which is exciting. 

Failing to do as much blogging as I had planned. 

Welcoming a new little cousin into the world.

Binging on the My Favorite Murder podcast. Stay sexy, don’t get murdered, everyone! 

Feeling very pleased that we live across the road from a good Italian pizza place. 

Trying to guess when bubba will get here. Will June be our last child-free month or will be make an early appearance? 

How about you? 

 

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The Art of Aggressive Friending

[Photo by Evan Kirby]

A few things have got me thinking about making friends recently. The first was Emma’s post on friend dating (featuring yours truly) and the second was starting our NCT classes. As well as learning a bit more about what this whole baby business is going to entail, everyone’s main goal is making some new parent pals for this new phase of their life. I think we were the only ones who had existing friends with babies nearby, thus making us the focus of some envy – but, as I always say, you can never have too many friends, especially when you’re about to be spending a whole lot of weekdays flying solo. Someone described NCT as being a bit like University, which for many of us was the last time in our life where making friends felt easy and natural, with everyone eager to meet new people and make connections, rather than sticking to their tried-and-tested groups and relationships. 

There’s a general wisdom that it is hard to make friends as an adult, and whilst I don’t entirely dispute that, I have actually found it to be the opposite – I have more friends now than I ever had at school or University, and I like to think that I’m juggling quality as well as quantity, because they are all ace. Part of that is purely luck; being with Paul meant falling into a ready-made friendship group (or two) and, in fact, at my hen do it seemed like almost everyone’s answer to ‘how do you know Amy?’ was… ‘through Paul’.

But… part of it is also from practicing the art of what I call ‘aggressive friending’. Now, contrary to the name, there’s nothing really aggressive or violent about this method – I like to think it’s actually quite nice. But what it does mean is not being afraid to come on too strong in the friendship stakes. If you find someone cool that you want to be friends with, tell them! What’s the worst that can happen? No one is ever going to be mad that someone else thinks they are awesome. And then, you keep telling them, not in words but in actions – inviting them to events or parties or coffee meet-ups – until they’re your new besties. I know these things are easier said than done, but I promise that it has worked like a charm for me on many occasions since I moved to Leeds, so I thought I would share my top tips with you, in case you’re looking to make some new BFFs in your life. 

Be Generous 

A cornerstone of aggressive friending is generosity. People like people who do nice things for them, so it just makes sense. Now, being martyr-ish about the favours you bestow upon your new friends will not endear you to anyone, so only be as generous as you really can be – everyone has a different threshold for this, but have an open heart and good things will come back to you. This can be as simple as extending an invitation for dinner, or buying them a drink when you’re at the pub, or even just giving them a compliment (after all, you want to be friends, so there must be something you like about them!). Do them a favour, with no expectation of a return – just merely for the joy of helping out another awesome human, and you might be surprised at what happens. 

Show Your True Colours

Paul and I have often ‘aggressively friended’ other couples together, and if you’ve met us in real life then you might understand why that might be a bit much for some people. We are both incredibly chatty, overly enthusiastic, strongly opinionated and probably talk louder than we should do in public places. (We have some good qualities, too…). That makes us really great friends for some people, and probably really not for others. But there’s no point pretending to be anything other than what we are, partly because there’s no way we can hide it, but also partly because we want friends who *want* to be friends with us. If someone doesn’t like you? It stings but at least you’ll know so you can go on and find someone who digs your particular brand of friendship. 

Make Connections 

Don’t keep all your new friends to yourself! You can expand your circle so much and make so many more new friends if you’re willing to spread the love a little bit. Introduce your new friends to other friends if you think they’d get along, or invite lots of different pockets of friends to one event and let them mingle together. You never know what connections they’ll forge with just a little nudging, and the more you do it, the more people will offer the same back to you – thus increasing your potential for new friends exponentially. This also comes under the ‘be generous’ banner; don’t treat your friendship group like a clique – let people in and you’ll find it reaps all kinds of friendship rewards. 

Take People at Their Word 

I spent a lot of time in my teenage years worried that my friends were only friends with me out of some sense of obligation, rather than any real affection for me. What I have learnt over time is that almost no one is friends with someone out of pity, so you can pretty much safely assume that if they accept your invitation or seem enthusiastic, then they are as down for the friendship thing as you are. Second guessing people’s motives will only send you into an anxiety spiral; you’ll soon know for sure if someone doesn’t want to hang out with you, because they’ll just stop hanging out with you. Don’t be pushy, but extend your invitations and compliments without fear and you might be surprised at the results. 

How to make friends as an adult - relationship and friendship advice on making friends with new people // Amy Elizabeth

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Accepting the Season I’m In

Accepting the Season I'm In // Amy Elizabeth

Life moves in seasons. There are the seasons for hustling, the seasons for hibernating, the seasons for celebration, the seasons for nurturing and everything in between. The key, it seems, is accepting the season that you’re in right now, and letting it fill your life fully. This is not something that comes naturally to me; I am always looking behind and ahead, wishing things on the horizon could be happening right now rather than at some unspecified time in the future. I want to be doing and having it all, even though I know that’s not possible, and lord knows I beat myself up about not achieving the impossible. 

The phrase ‘you can have it all, but not all at the same time’ has never been more apt. I may want to be nailing it on Instagram, improving my photography, blogging regularly, bossing it at my job, keeping up with house projects, having fun with friends and family, trying new recipes every week, working on my knitting, reading my whole TBR pile AND growing a human, but that just isn’t feasible, even for someone with as organised a to do list as myself. I can only do a couple of things at a time, and this season *has* to be about growing a human first and foremost (can’t get out of that one now…) and preparing for his arrival. This is a nesting season, if ever there was one; I am napping more than I ever have (even when I was a student with 8 hours of lectures a week…) and my thoughts are preoccupied with nursery themes and pre-baby tasks that need to be completed. Second to that is time spent with Paul, and getting things together at my job so I can leave in 5 weeks time (!) without everything imploding. So you can see why this blog has very much taken a backseat, despite all of my best intentions and ideas. 

Now more than ever, I think I need to accept that this is the season that I’m in. I may want to be in a different season, sometimes, when I see people nailing it creatively or gallivanting on exciting trips abroad, but that just isn’t the place that I’m in. I did choose to be here, after all, and it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that you need to take it easy when you’re lugging around a baby all day, every day. It is easy to focus on what you’re missing out on, rather than being fully present for what is happening right now (especially when what’s happening right now is mostly weird joint pains and exhaustion…). But there are joys to this season, even if they are slightly harder to find. Our house has never looked better (even if I do say so myself) and it is a joy to put together a little room for our little man. I realise that babies don’t give much thought to interior design, but it’s nice to actually *do* something for him, in the small way that we can, before he actually arrives. As we get ready to welcome a new member to the team, I feel like Paul and I are working better together than we ever have. Tuna even seems to be being a little bit nicer to me, but that could be wishful thinking… 

There will be time enough, if I am lucky, to work on creative projects, start my dream business (bookshop bar? boutique bed and breakfast? something not beginning with B?) or travel the world if I want to. I don’t need to do it all right this minute, as impatient as I am by nature. So some things are being struck off my to do list permanently (or as permanently as they can be…) and others are going on the back burner until I’ve got this baby thing down. The next season, of course, will be a season for mothering – learning how to navigate life with my little pal and trying to find a new normal so that there’s room for the other bits and pieces to start creeping back in. But after that? I guess only time will tell. 

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Two Years

We’ve been married for two years today; a small drop in the ocean for some people (my grandparents are celebrating 60 years in June…) but a little achievement nonetheless. This last year has been a pretty big one for us, as far as years go; we bought our first house together and (mostly) renovated it into a home. We decided to try and become parents, and were lucky enough that I fell pregnant pretty soon after (although I know my recent moaning on the subject has not convinced you that I feel lucky…). We hosted Friendsgiving and Christmas at our new home, and moved my sister into University. 

I believe more strongly every day that it takes a village; not just to raise a child, as the saying usually goes, but to sustain any sort of relationship. I love Paul and he’s my favourite human, but without our friends and family around us – providing love, support and DIY help, it just wouldn’t be the same. I think that’s part of the reason why you have a wedding in the first place, to acknowledge that a marriage is that much sweeter when it connects with all of your other relationships. 

Last year, I wrote that I worried that there were trying times ahead – that I couldn’t continue on being blissfully happy. I was right. Being pregnant and preparing for a baby has been more difficult than I could have anticipated; perhaps because so little in my life has been difficult before (and what a privileged position to be in). As always, Paul has stepped up to the mark to help and support me; from insisting I nap on evenings and weekends, to picking up even more than his share of the housework than he did before, to coming with me to my dreaded blood tests (of which I have another today…). If I believed in karma, I would think that I had done something positively angelic in my previous life. 

But for all that, marriage continues to be one of the greatest joys of my life. It is not for everyone, I’ll grant you, but for me it has exceeded all of my expectations. To be a team with someone everyday is a magical thing indeed, and I’m excited for us to face the challenge of actual parenthood together in the next year (hopefully sooner rather than later – if he holds out until 42 weeks, I’ll be most unimpressed…) with our newest little team member. 

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