The one where I cheered on Mo…

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Work is killing my blogging people. It truly is. You know, back in 2006 (the last time I had one of those full-time Monday to Friday jobs) I didn’t have a blog. I didn’t even have facebook. There’s a possibility I didn’t have an internet connection in my house come to think of it, because I don’t think I could afford it!

However, I thought I’d share a few pics for my friends who are athletic fans. I spent the weekend in Newcastle (upon Tyne) cheering on people running for charity at the Great North Run. It’s a major half-marathon event, with elite runners, wheelchair racers and then the everyday ordinary people like me who sign up. Except I would never sign up to run. I just signed up to go down and cheer on the crazy people who trained for months to be able to run 13.1 miles.

I also offered to take pictures of the charity runners for my colleague who is the Running Events Officer. While waiting for the charity runners to have their turn, I couldn’t not get a picture of our British treasure, 4 time Olympic medallist Mo Farah. He wasn’t in the lead as he came up the hill towards Heworth Metro station, but by the time he ran past me and my colleague who cheered loudly for him…he was gaining ground and moving to the lead.

By the time we made it to the charity village, we found out he had officially won for the 4th year in a row.

Well done Mo!

And well done all the Charity Runners!

I walked quite a lot myself over the weekend, carting around banners and cheer sticks and all the rest. Having now walked 35 miles and there still being quite a lot of September to come, I’ve upped my target from 27 miles to 100 miles for my Go the Distance challenge. 

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The one where I shiver all month for childhood cancer…

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Today is the first day of September. It means I need to stop sitting on my bum all day and get walking for Bliss.

It also means it’s the first day of a month of wearing gold and yellow for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

I do this for all the kids I know who have battled childhood cancer, and quite frankly deserved better. I do this for all the families who have person shaped hole in them that cancer took away. I do this to raise awareness of the fact that hardly any funding goes into research for childhood cancers.

Last month, a fellow Guider lost her daughter. Keira had defied all odds, having lived 3 years battling DIPG (a type of cancer that has no known cure) when doctors had given her 6 months. She was only 8 years old.

A fellow blogger, Patrice, lost her sister days after her high school graduation. Anna was 18 years old.

The Myers family lost their youngest, Kylie days before she should have been celebrating her 13th birthday.

My friend and his wife lost their son, Oliver, when he was 6 months old.

Kira and Kate, are fighting the effects of treatment having both had 2 relapses as they go to school as much as they can.

We need more awareness. We need safer treatments. We need more funding for more research to make all that happen.

And so I will defy the miserable Scottish weather, and wear my summer clothes in Autumn to go yellow and gold once again. To raise awareness, and also to say to all those who have faced childhood cancer….I haven’t forgotten your battles and losses. I remember your children, your friends, your siblings. We will work and shout to find a cure.

The one where I’ve napped a lot…

It’s a bank holiday Monday, and I’ve spent it how koalas spend days best – mostly falling asleep! In my defence, I’d like to say that I went out to a farm to meet my friend, got ‘the messages’ (as we call a grocery shop here in Scotland) and a load of laundry before hand. Plus I had to work for a few hours yesterday.

But then why do I feel the need to justify it?

I’m learning that though I hate the term ‘self-care’ because it sounds narcisstic and selfish, it is hugely important. When I fail to take the time to rest and look after myself, I quickly get sick and let people down. Life ramped up a whole lot this summer, and as the weeks have gone on more and more has been added onto my plate. There are moments when it feels overwhelming. I’ve realised that I can do  it – if I rest well and eat well.

Working from home is wonderful. Mainly because on those days I don’t have the stress of a commute, and as long as I’ve been disciplined enough to fit in a trip to the supermarket to restock my fridge and cupboards, I can eat a decent meal at lunchtime. The two days a week in my other job I’m still figuring that eating pattern out – it’s slightly more challenging as youth work is an anti-social hour kind of job.

The main challenge has been exercise. It was a problem before, but I was in a job where I was lifting heavy boxes, jumping around at birthday parties and pretty much on my feet for the whole shift. Now I’m in two jobs where I’m sitting down a lot. I actually showed my friend my ‘fitbit’ stats as she couldn’t believe I could go through a day with only 2000 steps. Yep. When you are sitting at a desk all day. When you are driving to work from door to door. When you are sitting chatting to teens. And when your days are filled up with activity but none of it physical…you will find that 10,000 a day goal doesn’t happen.

So I decided to set myself a challenge of walking 27 miles during the month of September for a charity that has supported several friends when their babies spent time in neonatal units.

If you’d like to sponsor me so I feel horrendously guilty if I don’t make the time to go outside in the yucky Scottish coldness and know you’ll be helping 95,000 babies every year…you can donate to my page here. I’d be so grateful if you did. 🙂

And yes, I will also be wearing yellow and gold throughout September once again for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I do like to multitask!

Ok. I must go as even though it’s a work holiday, it’s not a Girlguiding holiday. So I need to wake up, make some dinner and get ready for a meeting tonight.

One more thing, my baby sister has started blogging. You can head to her blog over at Life of an Oil Girl if you want to check it out.

The one where I left you on a cliffhanger…

…and can now tell you that it ended with us sitting in that same spot for a total of 4.5 hours, a visit from the Transport Police, the train running out of food and drink before we’d reached our first stop (York), people hanging out the door of the train to smoke, fights in other carriages, me almost throwing up on the train (I think due to lack of food), a £14 taxi from Waverley station when we arrived in 5 hours late and me getting home at 2 a.m.

I’ve had better train travel experiences!

I had video conferences the next morning, and due to issues with keys and stuff I’ve done a fair bit of overtime this week in one job to make up for being in London last week for the other one.

Hence the lack of blogging.

However I now have a three day weekend, so I’m about to get up, have breakfast and get stuff done that has put to one side due to this whole employment thing. 🙂

That’s a whole other blog post as I realised this week how I’m going to have to choose very carefully how I use my spare time. 10 years without full-time employment meant that I have taken on a lot of commitments to fill up time to keep myself sane (and to try and keep my CLD skills). This is a new phase of life and some difficult decisions are going to have to be made I think.

Anyway. I’m off to breakfast, finalise the girlguiding accounts, and sort out the piles of clean laundry, recycling and stuff that has exploded everywhere as a result of the last month of craziness. 🙂

The one when I’m stuck in a train traffic jam…

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For the last few days I’ve been in the lovely shire of England. Firstly in London for a team away day and then more induction stuff, then when the weekend came I headed West to see my lovely friends and my even cuter godson. (Sorry friends, but I think you would agree he is cuter than both of you 😉 ).

Due to my godson’s decision to sleep in, I missed seeing my friend in vicar action. I ended up getting a taxi to station which meant I caught an earlier train to London. London was bright with sunshine, the tube was chilled compared to Friday evening and had time to walk along the Euston Road to the Pret I know has hot food (the one at Kings Cross Station does not). I got extra snacks for the train after eating my favourite macaroni kale and cauliflower cheese before sitting in the garden of the British Library knowing I’d be stuck on a train for the next 4.5 hours.

Well. What I thought would be 4.5 hours.

As we reached our first stop of York – which is almost halfway to Edinburgh, our train came to a stop outside of Doncaster. We sat for a few minutes, before the tannoy came on with one of those announcements that makes the entire carriage silent. The “um…we are not sure how long we are going to be, I’ll let you know when I get more info” is never a good sign. An even WORSE sign is when 5 minutes after that the driver announces there are 5 trains stuck in front of ours, we are getting free wifi, and instructions on how to claim back the money on your ticket because we will most certainly be delayed for “over 30 minutes”. Do you notice the lack of maximum delay time he gave us.

So we have now been here ‘outside’ Doncaster for closing in on 2 hours.

This might be God’s way of telling me off for travelling home on a Sunday or not doing a good enough job with my godmother duties to ensure that my godson’s sleep pattern means he wakes up in time to go to church.

STOP PRESS: The train driver has just announced. We have now been delayed for 2 hours. Meanwhile, my iPod has just started playing Caledonia. Caledonia, you are calling me, and I am trying to get home…

Right. I’m off to read some books. This may be the only perk of a non-moving train…I can read without feeling icky!

The one where I catch you up…

Long time, no blog!

I thought before I headed to London once more, I should probably check in and let you all know (if anyone ever comes here anymore) to let you know I am indeed alive and well.

Not starting both jobs turned out to be a blessing in disguise. There was so much to do before Surf Camp (and I didn’t get it all done). But also some old friends from university were in my neck of the woods for a family holiday. So we went to the Zoo with their two kids, and it was lovely. We got rained on, then the sun came out. The pandas hid from us, but the tigers were out! We also saw lots of penguins including the now toddler penguin chicks. Their five year old daughter helped me choose a keyring for my car key…

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Surf Camp this year felt very different to previous years. There were new challenges, and it was unnerving to be leading worship for the week. Especially without people I knew and had led with before. I have been very happy to be the background of the band for many years and have never really gotten over an incident that made me totally lose confidence in leading from more than 10 years ago. And I think that insecurity came through and just ugggghhhhhhh. I hate looking back and thinking what a terrible job I did. One thing I did feel God challenging me on was giving space for Him to speak. My poor friend doing DTP joked by the end of the week that there was no point in me giving him a ‘setlist’ because I’d probably not do what I’d planned. He said it with a smile and I had to laugh too, as it was true so often. I am trying to make sure that things are easier for whoever does the job next year! It was lovely to be a group leader again, and had a lovely bunch of girls. I was also fully appreciative of there being more first aiders willing to answer the call this year too. We had the usual grazes, cuts, bruises and sprains along with a trip to A&E.

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Within a couple of days of returning, I started my job with the youth project. My first week ended with a visit from the local police after a youth drop in. It sounds weird but it’s really nice to be back in a place where you know you are needed and have a purpose!  All the young people I’ve met are lovely and some are very lively, filling me on the ins and outs of the local area where the project is based. Some young girls in the area gave me their suggestions for a name for our young women’s service and that discussion will continue over the coming month as I get to know the community.

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While I was at surf camp, my Mum had a special birthday. Luckily I wasn’t the only reason she had to wait to celebrate….our next door neighbour had an even more special birthday turning 100 and receiving a card and telegram from H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth! The weekend after I got back, I had booked my Mum into a spa in Edinburgh for a fancy manicure before going out that evening with her sister and female friends who lived close enough to come for a meal. A waiter recognised her from her previous visits and as we finished came with 2 bottles of prosecco, which did make her a little bit tipsy (nothing bad, just a bit giggly). She told me I had to wear my ‘interview dress’, which I did and this was her at the end of the night making sure her manicured nails featured in the photo with me! Love you Mamma Bear! I made her drink water and take some paracetamol before she went to bed, and there were no after prosecco effects the next morning. Yippee!

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The other thing I’m trying to do more is exercise. A friend from my new church who lives close by has a similar goal, with both of us having been spending too much time sitting on our bums over the last year. Having a car again and having less financial constraints makes this so much each easier, as we can make it fun! We have been for a walk, another friend convinced me to take a sunset surfing lesson (and drive her down to Dunbar so she could too!) and I’m hoping that once I get into a routine with both jobs that I can do some dance classes again. I’m sad that going back to ballet classes with my favourite teacher isn’t an option as they only run on Friday evenings when I’ll be working at the youth project but I have discovered some adult drop-in ballet and jazz classes in a few places…so fingers crossed! The hardest part is constantly fighting fatigue…if I get too tired I often don’t have energy to cook (which makes things worse of course) and then exercise will more than likely go out the window too! Having people to do it with definitely helps give me motivation as I hate letting people down if I’ve said I’m going to do something.

So there we go! That’s you all caught up on the life of Brunette Koala. I’d almost caught up on my reading challenge for the year, but I’m behind again. If it doesn’t make me feel too sick I’m going to take a couple of books to read on the train down to London. I’m super excited that this trip will end not with a train to Edinburgh after work on Friday but a detour to visit my lovely friend Nicola, her husband and their gorgeous squish of a son (my youngest godson) before returning to rainy Scotland.

How has your summer been? I’d love to hear all about them!

 

The one where life changes…

I’m sorry for not blogging. I’ve actually blogged a lot…if you count all the half written posts in my drafts folder that remain unfinished.

Life has changed a lot in the last month.

My last month in my previous job was pretty horrible. I’m not surprised to hear more people have left since I have left. It is a shame, because it wasn’t a job I hated it. For sure the hours were pants, and the pay was awful. But it was a job that was often a privilege, had fun in the hard slog of each shift.

One week off turned into two – not for good reasons unfortunately. But two weeks ago, I finally became employed again. And I hope I never take it for granted.

For in the last 3 years I’ve discovered that being employed is a privilege that can too easily be taken from us. My parents grew up in an era of working hard and jobs for life. Being able to save to buy your own home. Knowing you had a job to earn money to pay off the mortgage. If you were really lucky you could afford to go on a cheap holiday to France or Spain once a year.

That is not the case anymore.

As we travelled on the train to London, a new colleague asked me why I was taking two jobs. It’s not a daft question – I live with my parents so my rent is minimal, with one part-time job I’ll be earning almost double what I have in the last 3 years. I could survive without working full-time like I have done for the last 10 years. The answer? I want to be able to save up again. To perhaps go on a holiday. To have a car and afford to put petrol in it so I can drive to friends further away. Even my parents who have kindly loaned me money to purchase a car so I could buy it outright and pay them back rather than the garage’s financing agency, have told me not to rush to pay them back as quickly as I would like to. They want me to have the ability to do things that I’ve not been able to do for so long. My Mum wants me and my brother to go on a road trip in the USA next year. Something I’ve dreamed of doing for a very long time.

(We may have to knock me out to get me on the plane mind you…)

My jobs are not guaranteed. There are probation periods. They are both short-term contracts that will come to their end, and if there is no funding, they won’t be renewed.

Hence the desire to save money.

In fact this weekend I met up with old friends, and two of them have this year had to move back in with parents due to redundancies and financial struggles. My generation are struggling in this world of capitalism.

I still fear the phone call to say that I’m going to be unemployed again. I think it will take a long, long time before I can accept this new life. But already, I’ve taken advantage of free weekends and requested a work day swap so I can spend a weekend with a friend who lives close to London before coming back to Scotland. I’m looking up car insurance quotes and going to church on Sunday mornings again. A new friend has asked if I want to try exercising regularly with her on weekends. Old friends are being contacted in the hope of reunions a long time in coming because of train fares I’ve not been able to afford.

The only negative is I’m going to miss weekday visits with my friends who have babies and pre-schoolers!

There are still more changes coming, new routines to work out. Medical issues that still need investigating and sorting.

But I gingerly want to say (and hope this doesn’t jinx anything) that things look to be turning around for the better.

And I have a lot of patient friends that need to be thanked for pulling me through these last 10 years. Those friends are worth more than gold.

The one where the things don’t entirely go to plan…

This last fortnight has not entirely gone to plan. When I realised that I’d have two weeks with a car and an empty house before I started the first of my new jobs, I was so excited and immediately got started on what became a 3 page long to-do list. I’d hoped to get a lot of things done in my last week at work, but as you know I got taken down by a cold. It’s been a long time since I got affected so badly by one, and it seems that this hideous cold has been making the rounds. I couldn’t afford to be off (and my work couldn’t afford for me to be off either) so when I wasn’t at work I was pretty much contained in my bedroom which was sporting a scent of eau de olbas oil and taking down the rainforest one box of tissues at a time. And trying to force myself to eat.

This week was going to be about doing things further afield and shopping for a car, and it hasn’t happened. For a number of reasons I’ve ended up staying close to home. Firstly I’m still coughing a ton and sporting a very sexy cold sore inside/outside my nose. But also because I’ve suddenly found myself having to save money because I finished work so I’d have a week off before I started a new job. But despite the usual super quick police check update (I’ve had to do be updated by Disclosure Scotland so many times, there must be people in that office who feel like they know me), 3 weeks later and it’s still not arrived. And understandably, I can’t start until it’s come through. However it now means that I’m 2 weeks without pay and there have been no word from the other employer about when I would first start getting paid…so I’m now holding off on the car shopping until I know that I’ve got a more definite start date (and next pay date). I’m trying not to get anxious about it, but after the last decade…that’s easier said than done.

I have however, had the chance to meet a few friends for cake dates, and tried to do as many errands on either side of those to limit what I’m spending on bus fares (as I no longer have my bus pass). And the time at home has enabled me to do a lot of faffy admin things, pick up on multiple unfinished projects and work through the massive ‘to read’ pile.

What I have enjoyed though is peace. The light mornings mean I wake up early (by early I mean by 8 a.m at the latest) and I’ve loved starting the day eating breakfast at a table rather than on my bed. At the start of this month, I got a call from a local bookshop attached to a church in the city centre telling me a book I’d asked about almost 2 years ago had finally come back into print and they had a copy if I wanted it. I was so excited as I’d hunted every book buying website once I’d exhausted my in person buying options (I like to support bookshops, as they are wonderful, wonderful places usually staffed by passionate readers). It’s a book of liturgy written that was partly written by Shane Claiborne, who is someone I deeply respect for his values and his passion for community organising and following teaching of Jesus. The year I moved to Edinburgh I read his book The Irresistible Revolution, and my friend and I phoned each other more than once while reading it. And I think we both bought copies for friends. I’ve had three copies so far, and none of them remain on my bookshelf. I’ve totally lost track of who has them! This book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals is really intended for daily community prayer, but as there’s just me I’m skipping the songs and just enjoying the meditation of prayer and daily readings.

I also managed on Sunday to go to an actual church service.

A combination of work, singleness and social anxiety combined with being treated not particularly well by a church I used to be part of has stopped me being a really active part of a church. Of course, with so many friends who are church leaders and having godchildren I’ve never stopped being part of the church. I’ve been to ordinations, dedications, baptisms and more over the last 3 years. I’ve shared meals, gone on walks and had long conversations about life, God, the universe, politics and more. I was lucky to have built in deep rooted friendships to keep me going, but it’s not as healthy as being deeply connected into your local community in an authentic, honest, warts and all way.

I hope to change that.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the last few hours of having a house all to myself, sun shine and drinking ice cream floats without fear of having to call in sick the next day if my body doesn’t agree with ice cream being put into it (I’m not being totally reckless, I’m using ice cream that is usually the safest and free of evil beta-carotene colourings!).

And waiting for the postman to bring that all important PVG update certificate…

The one where I get angry about endometriosis research…

*A Pre-warning, that this blog post contains details that may be considered as ‘TMI’ or ‘oversharing’. If menstruation makes you uncomfortable…don’t read on!*

I don’t talk about this on my blog much anymore, mostly because until very recently this illness that I unofficially got diagnosed with at 22 has not affected my life as much as it once did, thanks to the wonderful NHS, the availability of a contraceptive treatment that also works to control my symptoms in the form of injections into my butt cheek/hip area every 12 weeks. But the other week, this article popped up on my twitter feed, and I felt just a tad enraged about it.
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Why did it make me angry you might ask? Well. First of all the fact that hardly any research money goes into endometriosis. I’m one of the lucky ones. At 22 my life was miserable. I ended up in A&E more than once because of the horrific pain I was in for about 1-2 weeks of every month. I never took myself to A&E…it was usually a friend, or one time a doctor who was driving past when I was collapsed on the pavement dizzy and in pain. I imagine this is because watching their friend wretch (and then start panicking because she has a phobia about being and seeing people be sick) because they are in so much pain while also passing out because they are in so much pain (sometimes hitting their head off bathroom furniture in the process) was a little bit scary to watch. Especially when you are a young adult and not entirely sure what to do because all of a sudden your parents aren’t there to call on. My friends made me go to GPs multiple times and watched as they came up with the most ridiculous answers to the problems I was facing.

Part of the issue was that doctors didn’t know about endometriosis, how to diagnose it and how to properly treat it. Add the fact that at 18 I’d had quite a radical change in my religious beliefs and had chosen to not engage in a particular activity ever again unless I decided to marry someone. Most doctors I met didn’t see the point in checking for a diagnosis or investigating further unless I was at a point of deciding to start a family.

There was no support whatsoever. It was just let’s keep trying every medication we can think of to deal with your symptoms and hope you don’t find out your totally infertile later.

There is little research into treatments, what causes it or cures.

And oh what a shame for these poor men! What about how it effects OUR lives? Or are we still under this weird assumption that women don’t like doing that activity (I’m not a prude, if we were in person I’d say the word, but know if I type it all sorts of issues are created in terms of search engines, spam and people not being able to access this blog).

There is so little funding for women’s health research, so why is THAT a priority?

And then the photo chosen.

How is THAT representative of a woman suffering from endometriosis?

First of all…one hot water bottle ain’t going to do it. I would have them on my front, my back even between my legs because the pain was basically from the inside out and down (if you catch my drift).

Second of all…I would not be that relaxed. If you had a picture of me in the foetal position lying on the floor screaming and crying…sure. Perhaps holding onto a toilet bowl. Basically writhing in pain trying to find anything that makes the pain bearable, and praying to anyone to be able to like…stand, sit or whatever.

Third of all…I would not be lying there in a white vest and pants. Dark clothes, anything comfy and tatty because chances are it’s going to have to be soaked in warm water and be treated with any remedy I’ve heard of that removes blood from clothing before I’m able to put it in a washing machine if I have a chance of being able to wear it again. I might even be wearing two pairs of pants (something my friend used to do – both pairs with a sanitary pad that was meant for ‘night’ use). Even then we could still wake up soaked with blood stained pyjamas and bed sheets…so we would sleep on top of towels.

Fourth of all…I’m going to be a lot more gross and sweaty. Because all those heat packs to try and deal with the pain are making me way too hot and I’m probably wearing a cold wet flannel on my head and arms to compensate….not to mention the pills I’ll be surrounded by and taking maximum doses of every hour I’m safely allowed to.

That’s the reality.

And as I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. At 25 they put me on injections which stopped my menstrual cycle and for the most part that has worked. I put on 2 stone in weight (and thankfully lost 1/2 stone of that eventually) and my hair started falling out and going grey but it was a small price to pay for no longer being in pain and spending a fortune on tampons and sanitary towels which I needed 40% of the month at times. Yes, in the last few months it would seem that I’m having a return of some symptoms and now I’m on a new medication to see if that works before they go down a surgical route. But if you go on the Endometriosis UK forum, there are women who had far worse and symptoms 24/7. I could tell you so many stories of doctors who have been clueless and unhelpful…but some of that is not really their fault. It’s because women’s health is not studied or seen as a priority for research and treatment. You can bet your ass if men had to deal with a uterus and ovaries things would be different.

Ok.

Rant over.

(For now).

 

The one where I’m glad I bought the Kleenex that was on offer…

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I was about to start getting back to how I used to blog. Job hunting has become such a huge part of my life, I actually had to stop myself going into places that had ‘Staff Wanted’ signs and every evening I’m still reaching for my laptop to go on websites looking for jobs and will be clicking on links before I realise “Oh yeah…I don’t need to do that anymore!”

I have 3 days off this week, the first two were used to schedule meetings and appointments that I’ve had to put off for ages and to catch up with a friend who’s about to move South. I’m now house sitting while my Mum and her husband are on holiday which means I have a house to myself and the use of a car. Today I finally felt my body starting to relax…and in true BK style, as the day has gone on I’ve got steadily more and more filled with snot. Yep. I’ve got that cold people. (My friends Ruth and Lynn have reported colds too and starting to wonder if they can actually be passed through facetime. Ha ha!)

Not to worry, this Girl Guide is always prepared – she saw boxes of tissues on offer a while ago and bought them because she knew they’d get used at some point when she next caught a cold. And hey, when you work with children, you know it’s inevitable that it will happen!

And I’ve got my food shop in, paid my rent, bought s’mores supplies for the next campfire, put the dishwasher on, done all my laundry and I’m almost caught up with The Good Fight. In case the parentals have discovered my blog…yes. I remembered to put your bins out. And I’ve thought of about another page worth of stuff that I should put on my ‘to-do list’ for the next fortnight. So all in all, I feel like I got quite a few things accomplished before I have to go back to work for the weekend.

And one of those things on the to-do list is….WRITE THE POST ABOUT THE ETHICAL MAKE UP!

🙂