Life in dungarees…

My blogging is getting sporadic again, and this week I really have NO excuse not to blog as it’s the Tattie Holidays – which means I’ve got FOUR free evenings this week (this is unheard of).

There’s lots to write about good and bad.

I’m going to start with the bad because I’d rather end on good.

The bad…is that the winter blues have arrived. I suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which means when the weather gets colder, the nights get longer I really struggle to go about my daily life. Everyone is affected in different ways, but for me, it usually means getting very depressed (most mornings as I’m getting up I will be very tearful), I struggle to sleep at night and quite often will start having short-term memory loss/lack of concentration (which I think is usually a result of the insomnia). I’ve had a lot of support from my online friends, some of whom have had depression, some of whom also have SAD and discovered a number of things that help. I use an app called ‘Flux’ on my laptop to simulate daylight/nighttime. Trying to stock my freezer up with at least semi-healthy comfort food (as in bad times, I find it difficult to get energy and motivation up to go to shops to buy food to make proper meals) like soups, fruit crumbles and chilli. This year, it really hit me last week and within two days I was climbing the walls with despair, and it took every ounce of strength and courage I had to get myself out the house on a cold rainy day to get to my Italian class. I cried most of the way there, because I honestly in that moment had forgotten what sunshine looked and felt like and felt like I would never see proper daylight again. Last night I bit the bullet and used some of my tuition fees savings to invest in a Lumie alarm clock which simulates sunrise. I’ve been recommended this by two SAD sufferers, and really hope that it helps me this winter season.

Ok. So. On with the good and exciting.

1. I have rediscovered dungarees

As I wrote on my Girlguiding blog, my Guides were doing a badge created by a unit in Lesmahagow called the ‘Minion Mayhem Challenge’ and on the last night of Guides before the holidays we all dressed up as minions. This meant spending two afternoons going to every charity shop, vintage clothing shop and fashion retail shop in Edinburgh city centre to find a pair of blue denim dungarees. And a yellow top. Eventually I got a pair, they are a little big but man are dungarees comfortable!! I don’t care what I look like, I’m now going to be wearing them more often.

2. Ballet Fridays


Though soon I’ll be arriving in the dark (sob!) but how can you not love this view that is at the back of the National Centre for Dance? Our teacher is continually getting us to work on the details of our movements and though my feet and legs are often very sore the next day, I’m loving my classes. And I finally found a ballet leotard to fit into. This is mainly so I can wear ballet tights as one of my classmates said “He [our ballet teacher] is the only man I shave my legs for“. And let’s be honest in winter…it’s too cold to walk around in cropped leggings!

3. A reason to go back to Glasgow…Part 1IMG_5944

My friends very generously and amazingly gifted me something extremely special this summer. They got us tickets (so I can go with them) to see one of my favourite bands play in Glasgow. I am finally getting to see Death Cab for Cutie live! I haven’t bought a music album since I got made redundant last year, but found their latest album at a very good price in a music shop while on a search for dungarees last week. I’ve been listening to it in my Mum’s car ever since. Coincidentally their album shares a title with my friend Holly’s new blog: Kintsugi.

4. A reason to go back to Glasgow…Part 2.


Three years ago I found out that the World Artistics Gymnastics Championships would be held in Glasgow in 2015. Going to see a World Championships (and a Europeans, and an Olympics) has been on my bucket list since 1996. The only problem was that when the tickets came out at the beginning of this year, I was paying tuition fees for university and was on Jobseeker’s Allowance. So I didn’t have money to get season ticket. I realised a few weeks ago that I would likely regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t go. So I bit the bullet and bought two tickets to both the Men’s All Around and the first day of Individual Apparatus Event Finals. I don’t know who will come with me yet mind you, but although I’m going to be in the cheapest, crappiest seats….I AM GOING TO SEE THE OLYMPIC QUALIFYING WORLD ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS IN PERSON. It’s in the same venue as the Commonwealth Games was last year.

5. My brain is confused with all the words


I couldn’t take Spanish this term (still) and so I decided to learn Italian because I wanted a class that was during the day and midweek, and then because I got that funded, I decided to learn German too. I’m actually enjoying learning German better as I feel the classes are more intensive and I’m learning more and having a better understanding of the language than I am in Italian. One of my old blog friends suggested in jest a few months ago that I should go work for an international school in Germany, and well…if that ever becomes more serious than a joke…at least I’ll know more German than ice cream, chocolate, scoop and apple juice. If I’m still only working part-time and able to get the funding again I may continue with German next semester.

And last but not least…

6. Airmail Christmas

Yes, we will be doing Airmail Christmas again this year. Rebecca isn’t able to coordinate it this year, but as I helped her do this in the first year (as she was in Australia) I’m stepping in again! We have contacted a family of someone we would like to honour, and hope we will have more details about how you can sign up and participate next month.


Quote of the Week 40 – The more you learn, the more you’ll know


The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

The other night I found myself flicking through channels while waiting for one of the only shows that I watch on TV to come on (The Graham Norton Show, if you are wondering!) I stumbled across an old episode of Room 101 and one of the guests on it was trying to put ‘friends who take up new interests’ into Room 101. The conversation depressed me, and I was so glad that Frank Skinner shot the guest down with his joy of learning new things and how he believed strongly that people should never stop learning.

Yes Frank! Preach it bro!

Yes, I may hugely biased, seen as I’ve spent most of my adult life advocating lifelong learning. And the last two years studying it. I think school has had a hugely negative effect on both our ability to learn and joy that can be found in learning. And we have a culture that tells you that learning is something you only do in a classroom and when you are young.

When I left the church four years ago, I went back to my roots volunteering with Girlguiding, and within a few months was working towards my leadership qualification. I was going to training events, re-learning First Aid, and getting to do all sorts of things I didn’t think I’d ever be doing again. It relit my passion for youth work, and it was truly the awesome young ladies I worked with that inspired me to go back to university. I finally finished an application form and submitted it. I won’t tell you how many application forms I filled out and never quite finished or posted/submitted in the previous 7 years before July 2013.

The Senior Section programme is called ‘Look Wider‘ and encourages the young women to try new things, learn new skills and share what they’ve learned with others. As I signed off their record books I began to realise all the things I loved doing but stopped, or thought I’d go back to but didn’t, or wanted to try but figured it would happen at some point.

Now these days, I’m fully embracing lifelong learning. Last year I finished my Leadership Qualifications and we had a party back in March to celebrate three of us who have volunteered in the same building with two Girlguiding units. Back in the spring, I returned to ballet. Ballet in a lot of ways was my first love. I begged to learn ballet at the age of 3 and loved it. But eventually had to stop as my Mum simply couldn’t afford it. I took books out of the library when I was about 8 to try and teach myself, and it wasn’t until I was 14 that I started properly learning again at the pushing of my Modern Dance teacher. I got my Dad to pay for my lessons, and when I started earning my own money I used that and my pocket money to pay for extra classes. I got my first pointe shoes when I was 15 and my friend’s sister faked a permission slip from my Mum. We hid the pointe shoes at my friend’s house until I could convince my Mum to actually give me permission. I’m terrible at Ballet, but I still love it. I love the hard work. I giggle at our teacher’s commentary as he encourages us to correct our movements and gives us helpful pointers. I don’t mind the pain in my muscles (though running for the bus after class is sure to get me squashed by a vehicle as my jelly legs sink into the tarmac one day soon). I also love languages. My grandparents learned Italian when they retired. My grandfather learned French from someone when he was a teenager. I loved studying French and Spanish at school. And as a kid I tried to learn bits of language anytime we were ‘abroad’. I learned the Greek alphabet, I learned how to count in Turkish, and the fact that my full knowledge of German consists of ‘Apple juice, scoop, ice cream, one, two, please, thank you, chocolate, train, youth hostel’ tells you a little of how I spent most of my time and money the times I have visited Germany.

Learning doesn’t mean having to attend classes. Sure at the moment, I’m going to ballet, German and Italian classes. But I’ve learned a ton through Girlguiding. And I’ve had fun since last Autumn teaching myself the ukulele too. Again, I’m not very good, but I love playing. I have friends that are dressmaking, crocheting, knitting, cooking, surfing, cycling, doing Pilates, Open University courses….all sorts! I love when they share with me what they’ve learned or how they’ve improved a skill.

And honestly, some of the joy is actually with the people I’m meeting doing these things. Oh the places we’ve been! The things we’ve seen! I’m starting to get to know my fellow ballet ladies after a term by name now, and already had some giggles with the folks in my German class. And my Girguiding sisters are such a great bunch. Three of us have spent the last few days getting together our minion costumes to end the Guides’ Minion Mayhem Challenge pack with some fun!

So what do you fancy doing, what to do you want to know? Go out and discover…oh the places you might go!

Quote of the week 17 – Happiness on the journey…


I’m reallllllyyyy good at finding the negatives. I fight a constant battle replaying moments in my life I wish I could take back, wonder why I said/did that or overanalyse thinking that people will have misunderstood me or think I suck.

Yep. I’m a basketcase. I know this already.

I also often hate the process.

For much of university the happiness lay within the destination: graduation. I like to be accomplished and often do not enjoy the hard work involved in achieving something. Even when I was working towards my Leadership Qualification for Girlguiding, I probably thought more about the tedious paperwork, tick box exercises and *shudder* learning how to do the accounts than I did about enjoyment of volunteering. Now that my LQ is done, I’m remembering why I volunteered with Girlguiding in the first place, and not thinking about how I can tick off elements of my Qualification while creating a term plan.

Ballet is my first love. I fell in love with ballet at the age of 3 or 4, and remember going to the Edinburgh Playhouse when I was around the age of 7 to see Scottish Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty. I had a tape album of Tchaikovsky’s ballet suites of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker – and I would choreograph my own ballets in my bedroom. My Mum couldn’t afford to take me to classes so I got a book out of the library (The Usborne Guide to Ballet and Dance) and tried to teach myself using a towel rail in my grandparent’s bathroom.

As you do.

Eventually I got to go to dance classes and started training in Modern Dance at the age of 10 and when I got to Grade 3 my Modern Dance teacher requested that I start going to Ballet classes to help me with the Grade 3 syllabus. When I turned 15 I got a part-time job and that combined with pocket money funded additional classes in Modern and Grade 6
Ballet at another dance school on Tuesday nights. The teachers also used to get me helping with the little kids Modern, Tap and Ballet classes on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. I looooovvvveed it.

But when I went to university there were no options to stay in dance school. I lost my technique and skills.

This week I discovered there is happiness on the way of travel.



I wanted to go back to Spanish classes this term, but it wasn’t to be. The only class I could fit into my schedule was cancelled. However, I noticed there was a drop in ballet class at the DanceBase National Centre for Dance – which happens to be a 10 minute walk from where I’m doing placement, and my current place of work. I decided to go along.

I was terrible. My balance sucks, I’m not supple, I struggled to remember the different sequences. But I enjoyed it so much.

But Happiness wasn’t in being an accomplished ballet dancer (though it would be nice). Happiness was in doing something I loved – even if I’m rubbish at it!

I’ve now signed up (despite the fact I don’t really have the money to pay for it!) for a Ballet Improvers course after trying their class a couple of days after the drop in class. I wanted something with a bit more structure, and the teacher was so nice but also technical that I decided the challenge to stay awake and not go home early would be worth it. I hope so anyway.

The bonus is that at both classes, everyone attending was super friendly. For years I’ve gone to Pilates classes, zumba classes and nobody talks to each other! Yet here, everyone chats away in the changing room, notices when a regular misses a class and asks if they are ok. It’s lovely and refreshing.

I’m now happy to be on this journey of dancing again. Returning to my first love, and just enjoying the process and not caring where the destination is.

Is there anything you’ve found that reminds you to be content and happy in the journey?