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Lifestyle

Life – Goodbye 2017, hello 2018

January 12, 2018
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It might be a bit of a cliche’, to write year overviews and all that but considering that I haven’t been looking after this corner here as well as I have in the past, I thought it would be worth doing it, even if only to remind myself of all the good things that happened in 2017. While a lot of people complain that it’s been a horrible year, I honestly think that I can’t complain too much – sure, there have been challenges but when isn’t life challenging?

This overview also comes a bit late (January is well underway) but I have been working without days off for a few weeks… after being ill. UGH! Better late than never, that’s what I would say.

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2017 has been a very eventful year… I managed to get a lot of things done and I’m happy with what I see when I look back. So, what have been these amazing things that I’ve accomplished last year? Here’s a list, that’s not exhaustive but comprises the main highlights.

  • left full-time employment – due to my health and after last year’s burnout, the thought of corporate life induces mild ptsd symptoms in me.
  • been the poorest as a result – but I’ve learned to live with less and spend my time and energy on more creative endeavours.
  • stopped taking anti-depressants – I’m poor but happier!
  • got into several group shows – been showing my work all over London and in New York.
  • got my first solo show – and it was fairly successful, as many friends came and it was a lot of fun
  • met amazing artists – that I can now consider friends.
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  • went streaking with a friend down Millenium Bridge on a warm Summer night – don’t ask, but it was a lot of fun
  • found love – after kissing a few frogs after my separation and divorce, I think I have finally found the most caring and supportive partner one can ever ask for
  • became a stepmum – said partner came with a readymade family and they’re super cool!
  • worked on very interesting projects – one of the good things about working as a freelancer is the opportunity to work on several different things, which has provided me with more knowledge and more skills
  • turned 40 – damn, I’m old
  • still cancer free – possibly the most important item on this list!

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(does my butt look big in this? Yes, yes it does.)

2018 promises to be an equally eventful year, and there are a few things that I’m looking forward to:

  • my solo show in Berlin – my efforts to go international are paying off and managed to organise a show that will happen next month
  • spending time with A – we have a lot of fun stuff planned for the coming year, including a holiday back home in Portugal with the children
  • blog some more – I miss blogging and I want to do at least one post per month, mostly to support my practice
  • spend less time on social media – it’s a great vehicle to connect with likeminded people and to promote my art but considering what has been happening in general plus the level of censorship artists face (I’ll have to write about the silly episode I was part of), going back to self publishing is the way to go
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  • no shopping – not having lots of money means less shopping and I’d like to do a year of no shopping, as I still have enough clothes and shoes that fit me to last me a few years
  • continue decluttering – I’ve posted about decluttering a lot in the past few years, I know. It seems that it just never ends but I’m seriously letting go of a lot of things, to make more space for art materials, etc.
  • continue creating and improving my art – an ongoing project for the rest of my life, I suppose!
  • continue cancer free – not a lot that I can do towards this goal except take my meds and keep an eye on how I feel but it’s nonetheless something to look forward to

I’m sure that a lot more could be said but I don’t want to bore my readers too much.

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Some of the clothes I’m wearing in this post have been courtesy of Simply Be – the jeans and the long black shirt. I’m actually loving my new jeans and I think they fit rather nicely on my butt – no one wants ill fitting jeans, right?

Many thanks to A for taking the outfit photos – in true blogger’s boyfriend fashion!

Lifestyle

Lifestyle – Burnout, depression and how I’m dealing with them

January 13, 2017
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  • In the depths of Winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible Summer.

    -Albert Camus-

Happy New Year! I’m glad to see 2016 behind me, as it was such a difficult year personally. Ever since I got diagnosed with cancer in September 2015, I kept pushing forward to get back to normal and regain my energy and had so many plans for my life… But like heavyweight champion Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And what happened feels like it.

The last two months of the year were spent off work due to burnout. I had been feeling ran down physically and ended up having a lot of symptoms that turned out to be burnout.

It was easy to understand why: coping with a long-term illness, the treatment side effects and stress at work led me to a state of complete mental exhaustion. Turns out I’m not even on my own on this, and there are other countless women suffering the same things that I have been.

So, my GP upped my meds, sent me home and I had to find a way of pulling myself out of it. I am not one to think that positive thinking alone can resolve all your problems, especially when the problem is depression or cancer. If that was enough, anyone with depression would merely just think themselves better and that’s not how it works. But I also knew that I had to take active steps to get better.

The good news is that I’m back at work and feeling a lot better, after a couple of months of taking care of myself and taking steps to improve wellness in my life. Everyone is different and I don’t think that what I’ve done is an infallible recipe for everyone but if by writing down what I did gives anyone else some ideas on how to deal with their own situation, it will be worth it.

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How I’ve been getting over it:

  • Reduced my commitments, social and work – rest is precious and if you are able to reduce hours at work, do so. I am currently working 4 days per week and although I don’t get paid as much, the extra time does a world of difference.
  • Took time off work – as long as I needed to feel better. If you’re exhausted you’ll only get worse and your productivity will dip anyway. Ask your doctor for help, they are usually understanding and happy to help you get better.
  • Sleep well and enough – sometimes it’s easier said than done if you’ve got a tendency to be an insomniac. Take naps when you feel you need to. I spent two weeks mostly sleeping initially and it did me a world of good. Don’t overdo it though, as you can’t just stay in bed for the rest of your life, as tempting as that prospect might be.
  • Pampered myself – Had my nails done at the salon and had myself a facial at Mayfair Aesthetics. As I had health problems, I am not allowed to do any laser facial rejuvenation treatments but I had a regular facial and it’s extremely relaxing. I’m happy that they were careful to advise me not to do anything more complicated that could have consequences.
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  • Went out for walks – now that I live in East London, it’s a lot easier to go out and walk for a bit to get the cardiovascular system pumping and the endorphins flowing by going street art hunting.
  • Avoided isolating myself – Even when I was mostly sleeping, I was using social media as a lifeline to not feel so isolated. Also have a lot of good things to say about my housemates, who were lovely and understanding during this low time. Slowly I started going out for short periods of time and seeing friends and that really helped.
  • Started eating better – I saw a nutritionist doctor (an actual NHS doctor, not just someone who read a couple of books about nutrition), courtesy of Mayfair Aesthetics. I did a food journal for a week and then together looked at the things I was doing wrong and doing well. At this point, I wasn’t interested in weight loss as much as i’m interested in feeling more energetic and just maintaining my weight, as the meds made me a bit heavier. I came back with personalised advice and feel a lot better for it!
  • Examined my priorities – I’ve started putting myself first and tried to eliminate superfluous sources of stress and complication.
  • Started doing more art – I’ve written before about how I got into street art and my therapist had advised me to spend more time doing art to help rebuild my confidence and sense of personal well-being. I did so and ended up doing an art market, getting a piece into an exhibition in a gallery in London and sold a few pieces to a couple of US Instagram friends. This did wonders for my self-esteem and confidence. Art really is the best therapy!
  • I am now kinder to myself – I avoid stressful situations and try to not be too hard on myself when I don’t accomplish all the items on my always endless to-do list. Taking it easy is my motto for 2017!
  • Simplifying my life – I love clothes and shoes but as before, I’m working hard to reduce the amount I own, by not buying as much as before and passing items on to friends or the charity shop. I still have too much for the amount of space I have but it’s definitely getting a lot better! Also, the Mari Kondo folding method is the best thing ever.

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I’m sure there are many other things I could be doing to recover (if you have any great suggestions, please let me know in the comments) but these so far have been helpful. I’m not entirely well just yet as I have some difficulty dealing with stress still, but it’s a work in progress and I’m doing my best to help myself.

PS: I was a guest at Mayfair Aesthetics but words and opinions are my own.

 

Lifestyle

LIFESTYLE – DIY mishaps and how to avoid them *

December 12, 2016
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According to a top A&E doctor quoted in the Guardian, the home is a minefield for accidents, that eventually end up at the Accidents & Emergencies department of UK hospitals. One of the problems is when homeowners try to save a few pounds (which is fair enough), but do so without proper planning and taking all the necessary precautions.

This reminds me of an episode that happened recently in our home: my housemate and I headed to IKEA to get shelves for our respective rooms. We were so happy as this would help sort out all the junk we both have in our rooms. Living in London a lot of times involve living in a houseshare and we have to keep all our belongings in our own rooms… which can be a tough exercise in organisational skills, especially if on top of clothes and shoes (of which I have a few) one also has a pile of books and art materials. So, we bought our shelves and even got ourselves a little drill and a box of screws, planning on doing a bit of DIY over the next few days. All was set and intentions were great but we didn’t manage to finish the job. Why? We didn’t think it through properly – the drill head included with the IKEA drill was too thin for the girth of screws the shelves required. Not only that, when I tried drilling (I know how to use power tools), after a few centimetres, the drill was hitting stone. The little drill was no match for the stone walls… We ended up abandoning the project and asking the handyman to come in and do the job… Fortunately, no one got hurt, and for now, we have a few holes drilled in the wall, which I am sure is something the landlord will not appreciate. Next time, better planning will be necessary.

So, we bought our shelves and even got ourselves a little drill and a box of screws, planning on doing a bit of DIY over the next few days. All was set and intentions were great but we didn’t manage to finish the job. Why? We didn’t think it through properly – the drill head included with the IKEA drill was too thin for the girth of screws the shelves required. Not only that, when I tried drilling (I know how to use power tools), after a few centimetres, the drill was hitting stone. The little drill was no match for the stone walls… We ended up abandoning the project and asking the handyman to come in and do the job… Fortunately, no one got hurt, and for now, we have a few holes drilled in the wall, which I am sure is something the landlord will not appreciate. Next time, better planning will be necessary.

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Another very common situation is problems with asbestos – particularly in lofts. Asbestos is used as insulation in many homes and too frequently, homeowners forget that it is poisonous. I remember in one of the houses I lived in, how bits of asbestos would fall out of the trap door in the ceiling, every time we moved stuff in the loft upstairs. Definitely not an ideal situation! Asbestos is a problem even for construction professionals, who can have serious health problems in unsafe work environments, ending up seeking mesothelioma compensation from their employers. I believe this is probably one of those jobs that should be better left to the pros, to avoid asbestos-related illnesses.

These are only two episodes that happened to me in recent years. Unfortunately, there can be many other potential activities that can cause serious injury. For more details on this, check out the infography after the jump.

PS: How do you like my illustration? I am enjoying reworking magazine pages a bit too much!

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