Better November

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

In seemingly a common concept, I've had a bit of a weird summer. The kind that is built up like shaking a fizzy drinks bottle and letting somebody unwittingly open it; the spillage so vast and messy that it's kind of infected parts of my autumn too. Although I think the notion of autumn gets lost on Manchester, going from shorts and barbecues to Big Coat Weather pretty much overnight, which saddens my October-loving soul. Today is the first day I've resigned to digging out the aforementioned big coat, and I've expressed profusely about the temperature in dismay to just about everybody who greets me this morning. So typically British, I know. "It's only October!" I end every statement with, which is only so shocking to me because I am completely and utterly head over heels with October and it seems to have zipped past me in the blink of an eye.

Some people talk about firsts of the months or Mondays or New Year's Day with a focus and a fondness, as if this magical day that starts off a given period of time holds the golden key to beginning or stopping something, or changing something deep in your life. Thoughts like this bother me to the point of cynical laughter - surely there's no time like the present, and if you want to wait until Monday to make that adjustment, you're not ready at all? That being said, I always feel like it is time to refresh myself in October. The autumn to me is what spring is to other people: I yearn to deep clean and minimalise my life, change my wardrobe entirely, actually make an effort at being presentable for work, dedicate myself to the gym and better eating, read books, write my little heart out, make plenty of plans centered around all those autumnal events like Hallowe'en and Guy Fawkes Night. I also like hibernating and procrastinating with Netflix boxsets, eating a twin-pack of sticky toffee puddings as I do, and sending unwanted scarves to the charity shop whilst buying double the amount more. We're all only human, right?

But I had a bit of a freak-out the other day, which set me off like a trail of dominoes. I accidentally ate chicken.

I love my job to the highest degree and I think it loves me too. but if there is anything I need to remind my team on the daily, it's that 1) my name is not Katie, and 2) I am vegetarian. I have been since the clock struck midnight and 2016 was underway, and for the most part - as in 98-99% of the time - I have stuck to my vegetarianism like glue. I'm reasonable though and I see it as a gradual thing; there have been a couple of times that I have eaten fish, but literally only a couple. And I have been known to accept a meal that has clearly been cooked within meat or poultry juices just to be polite. Sometimes, I'll even pick meat off of pizza. I clearly know that really, when it boils down to it, all of this means that I'm probably not a vegetarian at all. But I also think that it's not only hard for me to make that transition; it's the people around me too. Which is why, for now, I will always accept a meatified meal and just pick out and give somebody else the offending produce. I hate being fussy and I hate waste even more.

At work last week, at the beginning of the end of a long day of meetings, I was handed a gorgeously steaming slice of pizza by a colleague whilst I operated a PowerPoint presentation with one hand. Multitasking at its finest. I leaned over and asked, "Is this veggie?" to which they whispered back, "Yes." I trusted it and I took a bite. And after two or three more, I realised that it was in fact not veggie at all. I made eyes with a colleague across the room, whose own pair widened in horror in return and they immediately came over and swapped my half eaten slice for two actual real-life slices of vegetarian pizza. But after that, I could not eat. I didn't want to. I felt a bit sick, actually. And it was the first time in ten months that I had felt so adverse to meat, that I suddenly realised that I had changed somewhere along the way.

I went home in a bit of a frustrated heap and kept myself up until 2am watching YouTube videos about veganism and documentaries on the processing of animal produce and researched how I could turn my make-up bag completely cruelty-free, inexpensively (answer: it's difficult, but doable). Exhausted, I crashed into the land of nod and fully expected to wake up forgetting of that insatiable itch to change. Except I didn't. Granted, I may not have jumped out of bed and screamed, "VEGANISM YEAAAAH!" but I did wake up aching to make all these little adjustments to try and have a more positive introduction to winter.

So this is how it goes:

• From 26th October until 25th November, I am going vegan. I've time-limited this one. Purely because, I don't realistically think I could keep this up beyond a month, nor would I want to at this point in my life. I love cake and cheese too much, plus the Christmas Markets are coming to Manchester and I want to have a flat-out day of dairy-licious merry-making. But it's for more reasons than just my one-off, chicken-licking freak-out. My skin is terrible, and I want to cram in as many extra fruits and veggies as possible to give it a helping hand. I also seem to be sapped of energy at this moment in time and I think the lack of dairy for a little while will help give me a boost, which is oh-so important to me as I really want to get back to the gym in full. And also, you never know, there may be something in all that I omit from my diet for that month that cause my migraines. So it's a bit of an experiment really. I'll be sure to document it.

• As soon as I get paid in November, I'm buying myself a Garmin and running like the clappers. I have an end-goal in mind but I don't want to utter it just yet, for fear of a curse or heaping too much expectation on myself at such early days. I know running is something that I can do on the gym but I absolutely detest being confined to a treadmill and also, it's not representative of real-life running on the road either. I always find that with running outdoors I am way more focused and stronger and able to distract myself from wanting to stop and walk every three minutes, coaxing myself along to the next lamppost, and then the next, and then the next... I had a bit of a plough through my old Fetcheveryone account from years back and surprisingly reminded myself that I was frequently pacing between 9:45 and 10:15-minute miles. And I recall how disappointed with myself I was at the time, because all I ever wanted to do was go faster but I just couldn't push myself. Now, I scoff and wonder if I can get that speedy ever again. I know I can, I just need patience and a strong will to succeed. It all starts with one run.

• For the very first time, I am going to take part in NaNoWriMo. Otherwise known as 'National Novel Writing Month', NaNoWriMo is an online challenge whereupon amateur writers try to hit a total of 50,000 words in the month of November, or 1,667 words a day. The key to NaNoWriMo is writing every day, and I have needed this kick up the backside for a long time. Basically last year whilst I was travelling in South East Asia - in November, funnily enough - I started writing what had been an idea for a novel in my head for a very long time. One day, on a particularly long and brain-numbing bus journey through Thailand, I started jotting down all these little chunks of dialect and description that I had floating around at random, and turned it into prose. I managed to write 10,000 words of this story but while I had vowed to keep it up when I returned to the UK, when the reality of home occurred, life got in the way. And since then it has just sat there, gathering cobwebs, with not a single word added to it since then. In November, I'm dusting off that Word document and getting my writer head back on - with hopefully 50,000 extra words to show for it at the end of the month.

• I'm going to try my hardest to blog as much as I can. No promises, because you know what I'm like, and I know what I'm like. But I would like to think with this daily routine of writing that I may want to brain-dump here from time to time. So hopefully there will be a much more frequently updated blog not just in November, but as a continual thing. I think sometimes we adults grow out of our need to constantly document things but there are times that I want to blog to keep those memories fresh. And plenty has happened within the last year that I would STILL love to get written down: the rest of my SE Asia trip, for example, or the week I spent in Morocco, or why I would thoroughly recommend working for a charity, just to name a few. It would nice to have that distraction from fictional writing sometimes. So I'm going to work on that.

There are other mini-goals that I am working on too, such as sorting out my wardrobe and selling it off on eBay, and beginning to attend gym classes, and being a good daughter and actually phoning my Mum once a week; but these are the biggies. These are what I feel I need to do to get myself back on track and give myself the best possible chance of carving that path to get back to fully being me again. I have this autumn-born determination in me so, for once, I have faith that I can plough through this with a beaming smile on my face. Just wish me luck and think of me; after all, you all know how much I love both cheese and hibernating.

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