Quick Update

Good Monday, dear readers!

It is Monday the 22nd of April, Earth Day, Easter Monday, and a bank holiday. It has been nearly two weeks since my last blog post, two weeks minus two days, as the week before last I posted both on Monday and on Wednesday. Last Monday, I didn’t have a post prepared, and I was in no mental state to write one. The last two or three Mondays for me have been… hard. Bad mental health days. Why Mondays? I have no idea. It could have something to do with me being rejected for literally every job I have applied for in the last few months, a feeling I am unfamiliar with up until this point (I’ve had a few jobs, but I was also in school and uni and not technically in need of them, and I’ve only been rejected from two – one I group interviewed for, and one I never heard back from after applying). It’s exhausting…

I spent much of the weekend before last playing the open beta of Anno 1800, re-familiarising myself with the game, as the closed beta in February was my first time playing any Anno game (read my post about that here). The game released in full on Tuesday last week. I spent a lot of the week playing it, trying and failing, trying different settings, with and without pirates, trying different building styles… I’ve gotten to the point where I have some of each population class now. But my single player save is kind of a mess at this point. I really just wanted to get to the end, but it turns out I’m having a lot of issues with my trade routes and I need more engineers and investors to get further in the game but I also cannot upgrade my artisans to engineers or my engineers to investors because I’m unable to cover their basic needs, and I get riots because I cannot satisfy their happiness. Hopefully I can salvage this, I might actually go back in and downgrade so that I don’t have as many different population classes to try to satisfy at once. I could just start over, but that feels like giving up on an island I was actually very happy with up until this point, so I’ll probably try to fix it.

The weather’s been nice. Yesterday, I actually sat on the step in front of the house eating my breakfast outside. It reminded me of my grandmother, the one that’s passed away. When I was little and spending summers there, the sun was at the front of their house during the day, and she’d often say let’s eat on the stairs in front of the house! It was a new and exciting experience for me, not something we did at home. But she’d make me a sandwich and a glass of milk or juice and we’d sit on the steps eating breakfast in the sun. It’s something I’ve done in recent years at my parents house before work in the summer too, bring my coffee and my food outside and sit in the sun! Another thing I did yesterday was clear out the garage. I started at around 11-11.30, it was 3.30 when I finished, I didn’t realise how long I’d been at it for and it completely exhausted me for the rest of the day. It felt very good to have done it though! I spent the rest of the day lying in bed, cuddling a cat or two, and rewatching Reign on Netflix. I watched this show about two years ago, summer of 2017. I couldn’t remember all the things that happened in season 1, I thought for sure some of those incidents came later! And now that I’m approaching the end of season 2… There’s so much I didn’t remember. Despite the many, many flaws and historical inaccuracies (women’s hair and clothing to mention a couple), I do really like this show, I think the actors are brilliant, and a lot of the story pains me, which of course makes me like it because it has an affect on me. Today, my back is aching from the hard work of yesterday, but it’s a good ache. At least I’m not having another Monday infested by depression and anxiety…

I am writing this post at mid day on Monday. This will not be my only post for today though! I have another, which I’ve been working on over the last few days, which, providing my pictures being good, will be up tonight at my “normal” posting time. It is about the Urban Decay Game of Thrones makeup collection, which launched just over a week ago, on the same Sunday as the new and final season premiered! I’ve watched the first two episodes now. What do we think? I’ve heard some people refer to them as fillers, but I don’t agree – fillers are empty and play no part in the upcoming events, I think everything we’ve seen so far is definitely important for upcoming events. They’re builders, if anything. With a few bits and pieces to satisfy the audience (Arya in episode 2, I won’t say anything else, but you can’t deny that fans have been begging for it for years!).

By the way – the Easter egg arrived, and I put it in the back of a kitchen cupboard for a week. Then I got the two little packs of mini eggs out and had them last weekend. I didn’t get the actual egg from the kitchen until Wednesday night last week, and I’ve been eating a little bit every day. Since I count today as the last day of Easter, I will have the bit that remains today, probably tonight. All in all, things went well. The egg is so chocolatey that I feel ill if I have too much at once, which is actually a good thing, because it’s made it last!

I know I don’t have many people who read my posts, and I hardly ever actually get people talking to me in the comments, but I wanted to write this little update for my own sake. I’ve been so good at posting every Monday since the start of the year, last Monday was the first I missed, so to make up for it I’m posting two posts this Monday, and at least my post count is still up to date! Talk to me in the comments, tell me something good ❤

Xoxo

Julie

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App Review: ActionDash

Our cell or mobile phones are hugely important in this day and time, perhaps especially so to us millennials. I was born in the early 90s, so I’m kind of in the middle of the generation. I got my first phone for my 13th birthday, or a few days before actually. My brother, who is three years younger than me, was 11 or 12 when he got his first phone. Many millennials that I know are proud to belong to a generation that grew up playing outside, as am I, but we’re also proud that we encountered technology like phones and computers at a young enough age for it to become natural for us to use them, we’re not struggling in the same way as older generations, but we’ve also not been enslaved by technology from a really young age like the younger generations. When I was around 15, one of my grandmothers said that the mobile phone was the older children’s pacifier, and when I was 17 and on exchange (and got to experience unlimited texting for the first time) my host mother said that to teenagers the phone was like an extension to the arm. I know there are a lot of millennials who don’t use their phones a lot, but I am not one of them. I’m on my phone a lot. When I’m not on my phone, I’m on my tablet or PC, or in a movie theatre – I even have to put my phone away so I won’t get distracted when reading books. I know it’s bad.

I have seen Apple iPhone users talk on twitter about how their phones are notifying them of the amount of time they’ve spent on their phone. Philip DeFranco tweeted about how much time he’d spent on Twitter specifically, that he tried to justify it with needing to use Twitter for work, but then he said he couldn’t possibly justify spending that amount of time on social media because it’s not all for work. I don’t use iPhone, or any Apple products, and I have no desire to. My phone doesn’t have a built in function to track screen time, so I went looking through the Google Play store, and that’s where I found ActionDash, a free to use app with the option of purchasing a pro version that will remove ads, among other things. The free version lets you see all the info about your screen time over the past week, so of course I went ahead and tracked it for a week straight, not restricting myself, using my phone as I normally would, so in this post I want to take you on my journey of how I’ve been using my phone for the past week!

Introducing: ActionDash

Let’s start with Saturday, March 16th. When I open the app I get the picture you see below, and I can scroll back through the past week, the 16th being the earliest day I could view at the time I took these screenshots.

I made sure to take the screenshots not on the day but the following day, so the data would be complete. And this is what we see: A wheel showing the 4 most used apps of the day, as well as “others”, number of unlocks of the phone, and notifications received, and at the bottom, a graph showing how long each session in each app has been. In this first image, the bottom two lines are missing, but we can still get the gist of what the graph shows: 1 session lasted 20-30 minutes, another lasted 15-20, three sessions lasted 10-15 minutes, 23 lasted between 5 and 10 minutes, 17 3-5 minutes, and what the picture doesn’t show is 1-2 minutes and less than 1 minute, which has been the longest bar on every day that I’ve checked the app!

On this Saturday, the app I spend the most time in was Instagram, followed by Twitter, Google, and then Pokemon GO. From what I can remember, this was a very antisocial day for me, I stayed in bed the majority of the day with the TV playing shows and YouTube, and I was scrolling on my phone the majority of the time as well. I promise, most days I do not spend 8.5 hours actively on my phone!

Let’s have a look at the following few days of the week:

If we’re being honest, I don’t remember everything about all of these days, as I’m not writing it as we go, but I do remember some things so let’s see… As we can see from Sunday the 17th, I spent less than three hours on my phone that day, which was a better day for me emotionally than the 16th, I do remember that. I spent nearly half that time on Instagram, which I can easily see, as a lot of the time I’ll be scrolling on Instagram while watching stuff, it requires little to no concentration as I just take in the pictures and I don’t have to actually read the words like I do on Twitter. But still, we can see the same few apps repeated almost daily, Twitter and Instagram are on daily, which was no surprise. WordPress was on the wheel on the 19th, because I was reading a rather lengthy article, and I kept putting my phone down, and got distracted a lot, so I probably wasn’t actually reading the whole time, I just left the screen on when I put my phone down and the screen doesn’t black out right away. Let’s see, what else… Oh, Friday the 22nd – Google was my most used app! That was a bit surprising, but I know exactly why: I fell down a rabbit hole of wikipedia articles, which happens on occasion, this time it was reading up on Russian history, starting with Stalin, then Lenin, and then the Tsars that ruled the country up until the revolution in 1917. And because it’s wikipedia, every article contains links to other articles so I end up getting side tracked and yeah, that’s how that happened! I also spent quite a lot of time on YouTube that day – I usually watch YouTube on the TV, but we had to have repair people come by and then set up a new TV, so to stay out of the way I watched YouTube on my phone in another room. Saturday the 23rd was Community Day, so that’s why Pokemon GO won first place on screen time then, as the event lasted for 3 hours, although I wasn’t actually playing it the full time…

Now let’s have a closer look at the app itself:

This picture is from Sunday the 24th, if I’m not mistaken. Either way, it doesn’t matter, what I wanted to show you was the graph where you can see the app session length breakdown for the day. Out of 271 app sessions, 203 of them lasted less than a minute! Thinking about how that works in reality… one of two things happened: I got a notification, clicked on it, and went out of the app again, or I opened the app out of boredom and closed it again almost immediately. The first one isn’t that bad, in my opinion. The second one however, that’s the kind of stuff I want to avoid, a habit I really want to work on breaking. All those little one minute sessions, I really want to stop them.

You can also view the whole week in the same way you can each day:

Over the course of one week, I spent 33 hours and 4 minutes on my phone.

168 hours to a week.

56 hours spent sleeping, if I sleep 8 hours a day.

Sleeping and phone stuff comes to 89 hours, so let’s just say 90 hours of the week.

168-90=78. I’ve spent more than half my time sleeping and on my phone. 53%. For only 47% of my week have I been awake and not on my phone. That’s kind of scary.

Let’s have a look at some other ways you can track your screen activity using the app ActionDash.

If you click on the icons in the circle of the opening screen, you can view the stats for that app daily, showing the time spent in it over the past week, and hourly, showing the stats for the day:

At the top of the home screen, you have some icons you can click on and it shows you different things as well:

The first icon, the cake diagram, is the start screen, which we’ve already covered. Next to it you can view the stats for screen time. The next icon shows the stats for app launches. Next to that, you can view notification stats. Lastly, the padlock symbolises unlocks, and you can view the stats for that as well.

So as you can see, there is a LOT of things you can view and track in the free version of this app, which is what I’ve been doing. Like I mentioned at the start, it is also possible to purchase a pro version, which gives you the additional benefits of stats beyond 7 days, enhanced usage graphs, no ads, dark theme, advanced customisation, and the possibility of restoring manual backups. It’s a one time upgrade which will cost you about £5 (my app store which is in Norwegian Kroner says it’s 45,-). Is it necessary? I don’t think so. I don’t feel the need to track more than the past 7 days, and if I were to I’d probably do it manually every day as it goes by in my bullet journal.

Just to show you, this is what days beyond the past 7 look like:

I don’t know if these are accurate, or if they just show that I’ve spent some time in these apps. One of them shows six apps in addition to “other”, while the other one only shows three – it could be that you need to spend over a specific amount of time in the app before it shows in the pie chart, I don’t know. I just wanted to show you what it looks like if you don’t upgrade to the pro version.

Final Thoughts

Is an app like this worth it? Is there a point to tracking your screen time like this?

I think it can be useful, yes. By using an app that tracks your time, you can become more aware of how you’re ACTUALLY spending your time, and that’s not a bad thing.

When I first downloaded the app, I was a bit obsessed with checking in multiple times a day and see how the pie chart and time change. In writing moment, it’s 2.40pm, I’ve unlocked my phone 53 times, had 192 notifications, and spent 1 hour and 17 minutes on my phone. It would probably have been more if I hadn’t spent the past couple of hours working on this blog post. The obsession wore off over time, but the first couple of days… I spent a lot of time checking in on the app to see how I was spending my time!

Have I learned anything? Yes. I’ve learned that I am way too guilty of the crime of unlocking my phone for no reason, and checking in on apps for less than a minute.

Will I change anything going forward? Eventually, I would like to. I’d like to eventually blacklist a lot of the apps in Forest that I’ve had whitelisted for a few months now, to stay off my phone completely when I have a tree or a bush growing, and to spend time on my phone on purpose, not just picking it up out of boredom. Eventually, I would like to change the bars on the stats, so that the “less than 1 minute” bar goes way down, and some of the higher ones go up. I’d like to plan out that I can spend the next 10 minutes on Twitter, that I can go on Instagram in the morning and at night. That I can play Pokemon GO when I’m out on walks. Those kinds of things. I’d like to be more mindful when it comes to how I spend time on my phone, and this app helped me to see that.

Have to  ever tracked your screen time?

What do you think of it, is it useful?

Related posts: SleepTown App (stay off your phone at night) // 2018 in Trees (Forest: Stay Focused app) // A Very Satisfying Forest (Forest: Stay Focused app)

Xoxo

Julie

Human BEINGs

We are called “human beings”. Not “human doings”. This has been pointed out in at least one movie/TV show I’ve watched, although I cannot remember which, as well as on those kind of accounts on instagram that post inspirational quotes and tell you not to be so hard on yourself, etc etc. It can be kind of annoying, and kind of cliché. But it’s also kind of true.

Who we are is more important than what we do. And that’s easy to forget in a society where, when you meet new people, one of the first questions asked are “so what do you do (for a living)?” This question being asked early in conversation, makes us feel like this is of huge importance. Our answer to this question forms the person’s opinion of us. How stupid is that? People literally form opinions about us based on our answer to the question “what do you do for a living?”. They needn’t know much about us at all, perhaps you were just introduced, you say hi, your name, and they ask “so, what is it you do?” and that can colour their opinion of you forever.

Many people have impressive things to say. I’m a surgeon. I’m a lawyer. I’m working on my PhD in __. Many more people have answers such as hair dresses, mail man, I work in a food shop. These are professions that are essential to society, but they rarely make people go “wow, impressive!” in a conversation. And then there are people like me. I haven’t had to answer that question recently, but for the past six months, I would have had to say nothing. I don’t do anything. I don’t have a job. I’m unemployed. And that doesn’t feel so great.

Just over two years ago, I wrote this post, about how I felt like I’d done nothing all day, and that I needed to give myself more credit for the things I did do, and not beat myself up about all the things I didn’t do. I’m still struggling with this. Since the start of the year, I’ve started to write down almost everything I do in my bullet journal, just so that I don’t feel like I’ve done nothing all day. There’s a huge focus in our world about doing things. My mum will always ask “so what have you been doing today then?” when we talk on the phone. My friends ask it in group chats. They mean nothing bad about it, it’s never anyone’s attention to make me feel bad about not doing anything. But that’s often the focus, the starting point of a conversation, what have we been up to.

But we are called human beings. The first question should therefore be “how are you today?” or “how have you been?”. I try to ask this first, especially when I talk to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. But “what have you been doing?” or “done anything fun lately?” or questions along those lines quickly follow. It can’t be helped. But as much as I can, I try to focus on the being part over the doing part, because who we are is ultimately so much more important than what we do, for a living or otherwise.

The things I do don’t reflect who I am as a person. What do I do? To mention a few, I read books, I binge watch TV shows, I play video games, I go for walks, I play with makeup. These say very little about who I am as a person – as a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, cousin, god-mother, acquaintance, colleague… I am not the things I do to entertain myself. I am not the thing I do to make money, even though that’s nothing at the moment, and I am not that either.

Maybe we should all try to focus a little bit less on everything we’re supposed to be doing, and a little more and just being, in the world, existing, and enjoying it. Maybe we should stop and smell flowers, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the crispness of it that is so typical for this time of year. Maybe we should focus on what we can be, who we can be, and who we can be there for, rather than all the things we think we ought to be doing?

xoxo

Julie

Spring

I love a good storm, with thunder and lightning and intense, insane rain. But there’s something about winter turning into spring, the sun feeling warm, flowers appearing in the grass, birds chirping, the smell in the air… It fills me with life in a way that very few other things do.

In writing moment, it is Monday morning and overcast. The temperature is okay though. Someone said we’re expected to have good weather until about mid-week, Thursday or so, so I’m excited to see how this week will be. In the meantime, I want to talk about last week, and the weekend before, which were just amazing.

Let me start from the beginning. Weekend before last, so the weekend before valentine’s, I was in London. A friend from Norway came over, and it was a good weekend away from the stress of unemployment, looking for houses, and generally feeling stressed about the situation I’m currently in. It was very relaxing, to walk around in streets and shops, I visited both Westfield shopping centres, bought some things, ate a lot of good food… It was good. I stayed there until Monday evening one week ago.

I was prepared for the relaxed feeling to leave and the stress to come back, but Tuesday was a very relaxing day for me as well. I watched Grey’s Anatomy and Hawaii Five-0 from the last two and three weeks respectively, did some bullet journaling, and went for a walk because the weather was nice, despite doing a lot of walking Friday-Monday as well. I went to bed thinking surely tomorrow I’ll start to feel more like normal.

Spoiler alert: I did not. The good feeling of happy relaxation, of being content, stayed with me through Wednesday as well. Wednesday was the last day of a Pokemon Go event with double XP for catching and evolving pokemon, so I used a lucky egg to double the doubles, giving me 4x more XP than I normally would, and I’d saved a lot of pokemon to evolve for this purpose, so I got a good amount, which was nice. I was waiting for the evening’s Nintendo Direct, when the pokemon app told me a new event would start that day as well, a one week long valentine’s day event with double candy and increased appearance of pink pokemon. Cool! I love it when they do events back to back like that! Also, the Direct was good, some say one of the best they’ve ever done, others I know didn’t like it at all, but I enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day… Not a day I particularly care to celebrate, if I’m being honest with you. I find it commercial, it’s just a way for businesses to guilt couples into spending money on each other, and more so, because it’s the universal day for showing your loved ones that you love them, when you should be doing that every day of the year. I find it stupid. Nevertheless, as I’d been feeling good for nearly a week now, which is unusual for me, I was hoping the feeling would last through this day as well. And surprise surprise, it did! Our shopping was delivered early, and we went for a walk after, the weather was so nice we were out for probably an hour and a half, it was lovely. Spring was definitely in the air by now, with sunshine and blue sky, a little bit of a breeze, flowers poking through the grass, birds singing… it was a really beautiful morning. In the evening we got Chinese take-away, and watched three movies. I also received a letter from a pen pal this day, which was nice, I haven’t heard from her in months, apart from a Christmas card!

Friday morning started off a bit stressful – I suddenly remembered my first student loan bill was due, and I’d forgotten to apply for the extension. Thankfully, it was a quick process, all I needed was to tick the boxes of the months I wanted to extend and confirm, and it was granted within the next half hour. A shower later, and I felt good again. Friday was another beautiful day with sunshine and blue skies, so I went for another walk. I love walking during the day in the spring!

On Saturday, it was Community Day on pokemon go, where one specific, previously announced, pokemon appears more frequently for 3 hours, with shiny versions as well. This month it was Swinub, which I was not particularly excited for, but the double candy event was on and I didn’t want to miss out on my opportunity to get another shiny, and furthermore, the evolution, Piloswine, can now be evolved to Mamoswine with a sinnoh stone! What was more exciting was the possibility of getting 10 sinnoh stones from trainer battles and person v person battles during the three hours as well, which I got, as I was only out for about two of the three hours. It was another super beautiful day though, very sunny, lovely and warm outside!

Sunday – last day of the week, for me, as I count Monday as the first day of the week. It was a little bit less sunny, and our Google Home said it was supposed to be cloudy, but the sun was still out a little, and we did still go for a walk, although a shorter one this time. I’d started the day by helping my friend read through parts of her Master’s thesis, so I spent about 2.5 hours on that, which gave me a headache towards the end – I think it was mainly reading intensely on the computer screen, which I’m not used to doing anymore… Food, a shower, a walk, and more food, neither of which helped, so just before 3pm I laid down and had a  nap. It lasted nearly  two hours, so when I woke up it was time for another meal! I made us vegetarian risotto and halloumi cubes (from ASDA), with salad and string beans, which was delicious although not quite as filling. Thankfully, my headache had gone after the nap, but I felt a bit drowsy for the rest of the evening nevertheless. I didn’t write and schedule a Monday blog post, which is what I’m doing right now, and I didn’t set up the upcoming week in my bullet journal either, which is what I’ll be doing immediately after this. But it was still a good day, apart from the headache!

Today is grey and not very lovely, although it’s not raining and it’s not that cold either, so it could still be nice. I might go for a walk later, or I might take a day off, I’ve been walking every day for 10 days straight now, and from Monday through Sunday I walked something like 28 kilometres, based on Pokemon Go Adventure Sync, where it gives you rewards for walking 5k, 25k, and 50k in one week. This was my first week getting past 25k, and as my reward I got pokeballs, great balls, silver pinapp berries, and stardust. My boyfriend got a 5k egg, but I have no room in my storage so I couldn’t get one. Previously I’ve only ever reached the 5k one, which only gives pokeballs in my experience. I’d love to get to 50k one week, but that would require a lot more walking every day for a week… maybe sometime this spring if the weather is really nice!

Have you been enjoying a nice early spring this February?

xoxo

Julie

Be harmless, not helpful

When I was younger, say about 11-15/16, school was always finished at 2.15pm, and I’d always race home to put on 7th Heaven on the TV, and if I was fortunate, I’d only miss the few minutes that were before the intro music. That’s where I first came across this phrase, the title of today’s entry – I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased, I think it was used multiple times, but the gist of it was that it is better to be harmless than to try to be helpful. I think there are a few different ways to look at this and interpret this phrase that we need to talk about.

Firstly, I think we have all been on the receiving end of advice that didn’t go as planned; that made things worse instead of better. To be honest, we’ve probably all given such advice as well – the intent was good, we were trying to help, but the end result did not reflect our intentions. Sometimes trying to help can do more harm than good, and thus backing up the statement that you should be harmless instead of helpful.

Now, what do we mean about being harmless, exactly? I think this is something we should talk about, because a lot of people will say something that seems or sounds harmless to them, but it most definitely is not. Take for example people with any kind of anxiety disorder, or that are struggling with depression – many seemingly harmless statements can actually be hurtful to hear if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. One of the most well discussed things, going off of my own experience and that of friends and family, and what I see on Twitter for example, is to be told to “just calm down”, “cheer up”, or “just breathe”, or that you’re overreacting. Taking an example from my own life recently, I know, rationally, that I am in fact overreacting, but that doesn’t stop the tightening feeling in my throat, the hyperventilating, or the tears, and I most certainly do not need anyone to tell me to calm down or that I’m overreacting. I know that I’m overreacting, that there is no physical threat to me being sat in front of a computer screen looking at a programme I don’t understand, but if it was so easy as to just breathe or “calm down” don’t you think I would do it? (PS: no one was telling me anything of the sort at the time, this is just me stating what would not have been harmless in the moment). Most of the time, I just need a minute, a little while to let my body catch up to what my brain already knows; that I am fine and in no danger at all. But if someone were to tell me things like the ones above, it might have been intended as good, but cause me harm, because it’ll make me feel worthless, like what I am experiencing isn’t valid, and it might make me feel afraid, and lead to me not being able to be myself around them, it might lead to me wanting and doing everything I can to be invisible, to not make them feel uncomfortable because of what is happening to me.

So you see, phrases that are often intended to be helpful, and perceived as harmless by the person uttering them, can sometimes do more harm than they do good. There is a difference, in my opinion, between being harmless, and saying something you think is harmless. And the above things would fall into the latter category. Being harmless, I think, is a much more passive thing, or it can be – we’ll get to other less passive things in a bit. Being harmless, in some cases, doesn’t require the saying of things. It requires being there for the person who needs it. You should be a safe place for people in your life, a place where they know they won’t be judged or told things like “you don’t look like you have (insert mental state)”, a place where they can just be themselves, where they can rant and scream and cry if that’s what they need. Being harmless, to me, means that people can talk to you, that they can cry on your shoulder, that they can lay with you being held and feeling safe, sit next to you, have their hand held or their back stroked, knowing that no physical harm can come to them in that moment, so they do whatever they need to do, while being with someone who will ensure their safety in the process.

But being harmless can also mean other things. Sometimes, it means being the distraction someone sorely needs, the one who makes them laugh, who takes them places to look at weird stuff or walks  around the city or the country side people-watching or cloud-watching, to be the person that takes their mind off of things. This is a slightly less passive form of harmlessness, I think, where you actively try to be what the person needs, regardless of what that actually is. But I also think it’s important to make sure that this is what the person needs at the time, because they might require other things, such as what I wrote in the previous paragraph, or what I’m about to write about in the next paragraph.

Sometimes, being harmless means letting people go. It might not be forever, it might just be for a  few hours or a few days. Being there for someone, being a harmless place, means giving them what they need, and sometimes what people need is space. It might be time off from social media, it might mean them going away for a while, it might mean that you being in their life is causing them harm, and therefore giving them space is the most harmless thing you can do. This is the one that is hardest to do, this is the one that hurts the most. I can openly say that I have been the person causing harm to someone else simply by being a part of their life, and us trying to stay in each others’ lives ended up causing us both harm. Which sucked. This was a person I cared about a lot, and who cared a lot about me too, but in the end we were no good for each other and went our separate ways. It has been years, and I know this was the kind of letting go that meant forever, even if I didn’t want it at the time. I recently looked them up on social media, without them knowing about it, and discovered that, from what they have been posting, things definitely seem better in their life now, and seeing this made me really happy. It made me realise that we did the most harmless thing we could do, which was remove ourselves from each other, and that made things better, for both of us. And now I am at peace, knowing things are good for them, and I am okay with the fact that what they needed was to not have me in their life, because not all people are good for each other.

This, of course, need not always be the case. I have other people in my life in present time where we’ve taken breaks from each other, time to heal, and have ended up reconnecting after a few weeks or months, and at present time we are no longer causing each other harm. And that’s a wonderful thing. We were causing each other harm, we took a break from each other, which at least for me was hard and painful, but reconnecting and looking back on it in retrospect made me glad we did it because we are positive presences in each others’ lives now. Letting go is not always bad. It might hurt at the time, but the most important thing is that people are safe and not in a harmful place, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional. If someone is causing you pain, would you want to keep them in your life? If you’re causing someone harm by being a presence in their life, do you really want to stay, knowing that you’re hurting them? The selfish answer is, I like having them in my life and losing them will cause me pain so I will do everything I can to keep them in my life. The altruistic answer is, I am causing them pain, I need to remove myself from this situation/their life so that I am no longer causing pain to another human being. I completely understand the logic of the first, no one wants to do anything that will cause themselves harm, but I also think it’s important to consider the harm we might be inflicting on others, and make sure we do as little of that as possible – that we need to focus a little bit more on being harmless.

This entry took a very dark turn, but I think it’s important to talk about it. Dark and painful and difficult topics might be the ones that need talking about the most. But it’s important to remember that being harmless can mean many different things, and people require different things from other people around them. On the internet, where I spend a lot of my time, I see people being so mean to other people, and I always see people talking about how they hate other people, and how animals are better because they are never cruel. As humans, we are the only ones who can change how humans behave, starting with ourselves. If I start by being kinder to you and providing you with a harmless space, you can be kinder and a safe space to the next person, who can then do the same to their next person, and so on. It might be a dream scenario in an imaginary world, but piece by piece the castle gets built, you just have to start somewhere (I don’t know if that is an actual metaphor, I may have just made that up…).

What I wanted to say, above anything else in this entry, and if you didn’t read anything else and just skipped to the end for the TL;DR portion, this is it: People cannot cure other people, you just have to be there for them.

I will end this entry with one of my all-time favourite quotes, which I’ve had written on whiteboards and pieces of paper stuck to the wall and book covers and also really wanted to by a jumper with it on, which is from an organisation called To Write Love On Her Arms, and it is this:

twloha

Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll talk down below!

Xoxo

Julie

 

Related entries: Mission First, People Always

 

It’s Okay Not to be Okay

Two years ago today, I woke up at 6am on a Monday, because I had to take a ferry at 7.30 to go from my hometown to the city, and when I got to the city I went straight up to uni, so I didn’t get home to my apartment until the evening. I remember the skirt, boots, and cardigan I was wearing. I remember talking to my friends in uni. I remember music I listened to while travelling. I remember that I forgot to wish my parents a happy 19th wedding anniversary in the morning and had to message them in the afternoon, and felt bad about that. And then I went to sleep.

Fast forward 9 hours, and my mom called me a little before 8am, something she’s never done, so I knew it had to be bad news. She told me my dad had taken the last ferry last night and driven all night, and just arrived at my grandparents’ place, where he and grandpa was gonna have some food and then go to the hospital. My uncle had called the night before, saying “you have to get down here right now. She’s been asking for you today”. I got up and lit a candle. I didn’t go into uni, I didn’t have any lectures, I tried to work from home. Around 4pm, my phone started to ring. I knew it had to be my mom. It wasn’t. My roommate had had a hair appointment and been told the salon had a customers’ night that evening, and asked if I wanted to come with her. I said yes. Less than 15 minutes went by, then my mom called. She told me my grandma had passed away. Dad and my uncle had been there with her. She told me she had to go check on my brother but I could come home again if I wanted to.

I went to customers’ night at the salon. I remember the trousers and jumper and boots and necklace I was wearing. I called one of my friends on my way to meet my roommate. I talked to my roommate, who said to just let her know and we could leave if I wanted to. Another friend of mine returned my call while we were there. We stayed for the duration of the event, and then went home. I didn’t sleep till 2am. I posted about my grandma on Facebook, after seeing my dad and uncle do the same thing. I woke up again at 6. I got a bag and threw in some clothes and things. I was at a shopping centre in town by the time they opened at 9am. I bought a dress. I was by the ferries before 10, and called my mom to say I was on my way home. She came to pick me up in my brother’s car. I wore nothing but sweatpants and hoodies for several days. Mom and I watched a lot of daytime television; renovation shows, gardening shows, the shows where people want to buy a house and then they do it.

My grandma was the first person I’ve lost. I lost a great-grandpa when I was 1 or 2, and a great-grandma when I was 9, but I don’t remember the first and I didn’t have a close relationship with the second. Then I lost my grandma two years ago tomorrow. 9 months later, my grandpa died, too. And three months after that, a year after my grandma passed away, I lost my last remaining great-grandfather, the only one I’ve ever known. I’m okay for the most part, and I can say without problems that I needed an extension to finish my master’s thesis because I lost three family members in 12 months, and that that’s also why that grade is so different from my average. People look at me with expressions of complete and utter shock when I tell them this though. But for me it’s just something that happened to me.

A year ago, I was busy finishing my master’s thesis before the deadline in November. I don’t remember much how I felt a year ago. This year is different because I don’t have anything like that to keep me busy, and I think that’s why I’m feeling it differently this year, almost like I feel it more. The last couple of days, my emotions have been all over the place. But that’s okay. It’s okay to miss people, and it’s okay not to be okay. You just have to let the feelings come, and go, and you’ll return to being okay again, until the next time. That’s just how it is, and that’s okay. Perfectly normal, in fact.

Xoxo

Julie

 

Older posts about this: Circle of Life & Hallelujah – You’re Home.

Content Moments

I have been reading a book about mindfulness lately. I’ve not yet finished it, and I’m only just now reaching the part about how to practice mindfulness in everyday life, but over the past week I’ve been, perhaps subconsciously, focusing on enjoying the moments and trying to make the best out of whatever is happening at the time.

Something really good happened to me at work today. One of my colleagues came back from his break, and as there were no people who had showed up wanting a tour at that time, he asked if I wanted to go for a walk, to which I agreed. We walked out of the café/shop of the museum, through the courtyard, out the front gate, and followed the path that leads up to the building all the way down to the road. Then we walked back up the path to the gate, and turned left and followed the path to the parking lot on the other side of the building, and back down again. We did this twice, then we walked onto the grass and through the garden of trees, admired our workplace from the garden with the trees framing it, and continued walking for a bit. We met some tourists, who said it was like watching a painting moving towards them, as we were both wearing our historic costumes. We spoke to them for a while, and when we saw other tourists approaching the front gate of the castle we began making our way back through the garden and into the building again.

We talked about many different things while walking, past, present, and future, which I won’t bore you with repeating here. What I really wanted to convey, is this amazingly content feeling I had while walking, or perhaps I should use the word strolling, through the grounds of our workplace. I almost felt like we were a part of some 1800s film scene, where two people in beautiful costumes are walking and having some sort of deep, important conversation. Two people who are comfortable being on this stroll together, comfortable talking to each other about the topic of conversation. I felt so incredibly at peace, and in that moment, nothing was wrong in the world, in my world, everything was calm and peaceful and  good.

I’ve had another similar experience with the same colleague this summer, actually. At that time, it was the start of the day, it was sunny and warm but not yet too warm, and we were sat outside on the curb by the stairs going from the lower to the upper courtyard at work. We were talking about life and the future, which has been uncertain or unpredictable for both of us, and in that moment, I felt like nothing else mattered, despite the anxiety I’d had the previous night, despite all the feelings that had been raging through me for days. In that moment, everything was perfect, and the feeling lingered and I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such serenity.

Last night I was sat wondering, how do people make friends in the real world? I only ever make friends on the internet, except for my two friends from university that pretty much decided to be my friend and that’s how we are where we are, two of us being godmothers to the third’s child, still friends despite studying separate things and living in separate places. I do know work plays an important role in making friends, and a lot of people know each other through work. I repeated this to my colleague today, whose fiancée I happen to know from working in the same place earlier, which lead to us playing Pokemon GO together outside of work and meeting up in uni sometimes as well – although I actually even knew OF her even before that, as we’re from small towns close to each other and have gone to school together. My colleague told me that just for the record, I am able to make friends outside of the Internet too; he likes me, and if I’d been staying in the city he’d hang out with me and play Pokemon GO with us now that he’s started playing again too. So maybe I don’t completely suck at making friends after all…

Xoxo

Julie

Times change

Earlier this summer I was talking to someone on snapchat (digression: I actually use it to have conversations with friends much in the same way as on messenger, just with pictures – not to send nudes that disappear in a few seconds like some people do and think is the purpose of the app), and I’d had my hair up for work which I do on most days. I work as a tour guide and in the café we run on site, two of the shifts have half a day of café, half touring, while the third shift does tours all day, and in the café we can’t have our hair down when we have long hair. So I’d had my hair up for work and left it up all evening, only undid it when I was getting ready for bed. And the person I was talking to said my hair looks really good down (not that it didn’t look good up, but that it looked even better down). I guess it must have been stuck in my head over the last several weeks, because I’ve started to wear my hair down more and more when I’m at home, undoing it when I get home from work, and even leaving it undone at work when I’m a guide and just doing a fast and easy ponytail when I’m on café duty.

I had long hair as a child. Long, fine, and incredibly silky. I used to beg my mom for French braids and she’d give in once in a while but most of the time there was no point, it was so difficult because my hair was too slippery and wouldn’t do anything. As I grew older, up towards my teenage years, I wore ponytails all the time and never had my hair down. In my early teens, when my hair was at its longest, I always had it down and I always carried hair ties on my wrist. My grandma always asked “can’t you tie up that long hair of yours?” when we were about to eat. Then, when I was 17, I chopped it all off. I had short bob styles until I was 22, when I decided I wanted to grow it out, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 4 years, telling my hair dressers to take off as much as necessary, but as little as possible, ie only what was absolutely necessary to keep it healthy and to keep split ends from spreading up.

As a student, I’ve worn my hair up a lot, and it’s been getting easier and easier the longer my hair has gotten, and with all the studies I’ve done it’s been convenient to have it out of my face, and I also used to go to the gym a lot, so I barely ever had my hair down, only when I was invited to an event and such, sometimes at work in the museum shop. I can do buns, different kinds of braids, headband styles… All kinds of stuff. And I’ve loved doing my hair! I feel classy, elegant, and I can look fun and girly and childish or adult and professional, the opportunities are endless! But over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself gravitating towards having my hair down again. It’s been a long time. But I’m loving this look now, too!

Xoxo

Julie

You can laugh, but I don’t care.

People think I don’t know when they’re making fun of me. But I know. I just no longer care.

I know I’m a bit weird. Quirky. Odd. Strange. I don’t always pick up on irony and sarcasm, I too often take things too seriously and believe stuff that’s not true. I’m book smart, theoretical, and don’t always understand right away how some of the things that are obvious to a lot of people work. With a lot of things, I’m a bit slow, and I need things spelled out to me.

But I know when I’m being made fun of, laughed at behind my back… I know it. I’m aware that it happens.

But here’s the thing. The thing is, I don’t care about it. If people have nothing better to do than make fun of me, then I feel sorry for them. If that’s what they want to spend their time on, then that’s their time being wasted, their life. I’m not gonna waste my time caring about it, because I lose so much precious time that way. Life may be long, but it might be short. We never know how much time we’re gonna get and I don’t want to waste mine. I want to focus on doing things that are good for me, that bring joy to my soul. I don’t want to care about people who have negative opinions about me.

And I want to share a poem with you. It’s one of my favourite pieces of writing, I’ve copied it down so many times, and I might have shared it on my blog before, but I wanted to share it again:

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.

Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming.”

—Rachel C. Lewis, Tell The People You Love That You Love Them

Xoxo

Julie

Summer Freedom

There’s just two weeks left of my summer job and I’m only just now starting to feel like the time I’m not at work is MY time to do whatever I want. I’ve not had uni to deal with since my last exam on June 5th, why has it taken me so long to feel free? My summer job lasts 8 weeks, meaning it’s taken me 6 weeks to get to this point. This really baffles me. What have I been doing for so long? I honestly have no idea.

I think the feelings of freedom started when my parents went away on holiday. The first time I really felt free this summer was a day where I was on nobody’s time but my own. My parents had gone away for the day and were eating dinner out, my brother had plans to go on a hiking trip, and the weather was lovely so instead of going home after work I went on a forest walk by myself, just listening to happy music and playing Pokémon GO and enjoying life, because no one was waiting for me with food or anything like that. It was a lovely feeling.

Whenever I’ve been home for a weekend or even longer, during the past 6 years of living in the city and going to university, I’ve spent a lot of time with my parents. I’ve sat in the living room watching whatever they’re watching on TV, I’ve hung out with them, going for walks, going with them to shops etc. I’ve spent very little time to myself, next to no time in my room except for to sleep. The reason for this, is that I’ve sometimes not known when would be the next time I’d get to come home – it might be weeks or months until the next time, and therefore I’ve felt that I need to spend all the time with them.

Now that they’ve been on holiday, I’ve been entirely on my own. Taking care of the house, cooking for myself, spending time doing whatever I’ve wanted to do. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve only read, I’ve had a few days where I’ve needed to do a lot of chores but it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve spent two mornings and an evening editing pictures for a friend, watched a movie, played a lot of Mario Kart on my laptop… I’ve taken back my time, even though no one has demanded that I do anything else anyway, it’s been liberating.

I’m moving, in 16 days from today. I’ll need to start packing soon, to prepare for the move as I’ve no idea when I’ll be back to pick up more stuff, and I can only bring a suitcase and my carry-on. But even so, I don’t feel the pressure that I’ve felt before, that I need to spend as much of my waking time with my family as possible. Because it’s not necessary to be around someone 100% of the time or to talk to them all the time to know and show that you love them, care about them, like them… It’s perfectly fine to take time to yourself, be by yourself, do things for yourself. Because YOU are the only one who has to be around you 100% of the time, and it’s important to do things that make YOU happy, that make YOU able to live with the person you are.

xoxo

Julie