Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What A Difference A Decade Makes

Autumn is a very reflective time of year for me.  Like a lot of people who have passed through the education system, it tends to mark milestones of beginnings and ends- new institutions, jobs, changes and time served.

It's 10 years this week since I started university proper and I honestly had no idea how my life would look on graduating from university or if I'd even make it to that sometimes, let alone what to expect a decade later when I'd be closer to 30 than 25.



18 year old Chloe was a bit fragile, a bit awkward and didn't know where she belonged in the world. In the decade since cheap vodka and dodgy nightclubs, that's sometimes still true, but a lot of things have changed...


My 18th birthday

I cut my hair and owned darker lipstick... My hair used to be super long and I loved it- it was low effort- no need to blowdry and easy to pull up into a messy bun, but a couple of years ago I realised it didn't really have a style and was making me look younger in a not so great way. Whilst I miss the days of being able to leave the house after air drying my hair, I love having more 'grown up' hair. As for the lipstick, now I just feel like I look washed out without it. Sometimes you just need to find the right colour!



In the past 10 years I've lived in 4 different countries and called 11 different rooms, flats & houses home. The flat Tom & I share in North London we've been in for two and a half years and it's the longest either of us has lived anywhere since 2007.

Talking of Faceache, I'm not sure 18 year old Chloe ever thought she would be cut out for a forever relationship. A lot of that has to do with my own self worth but Tom & I have been together for 7 of the last 10 years and we're in it for the long haul.


Stupid grins before the Parathletics Champs this year

Taking about family and the one Tom and I have created for ourselves, there was the year I decided to let go of toxic family relationships too. A lot of the issues I was struggling with a decade ago stemmed from an unhealthy relationship with my biological father. Letting go of that and making the decision to walk away remains the single best thing I could have done for myself and although it took several years for me to process that and learn to feel worthwhile, that decision changed my life for for the better. I wrote about my recent experiences with estrangement and the affect of a death within that circle and you can read about there HERE

And that leads me nicely into self worth and something that definitely wasn't on my radar 10 years ago...



Sports.


I have cycled countless miles including the 100 mile RideLondon, I've run hundreds of miles including a marathon, 2 half marathons and a 24 hour endurance run. I've tried everything from Clubbercise to circuit training and I now can't imagine my life without activity. This month I was even part of a Runners World magazine feature, well, my t-shirt and my story were.




Sports gave me the empowerment that nothing else in my life, even Tom, has been able to- cycle to work is not only a more enjoyable experience than London Underground but it's also a reminder of my own independence. Running has it's trials and troubles (remember that marathon....) but it also gives me an enormous sense of power- it makes me feel strong, in control of my own body and my own destiny. It's brought me closer to other people and provided me with a social circle that is diverse and that inspires me to do more and be better in all aspects of my life.




I dabbled a little with a bit of swimming and a few trials at different sports clubs at uni but overall, not my thing. after some pretty horrendous accidents taking part in PE at school, which I wasn't that interested in anyway, I wasn't all that keen. My kind of power hour turned out to be the kind where I took a shot of more-vodka-than-tonic every minute for an hour. I got serious about being more active when I thought about joining the Air Force to work in intelligence after my undergrad degree but didn't pass my medical due to sight issues and I didn't engage with sport again until late 2012/early 2013. Sports was something I never felt engaged with- it didn't speak to me. Even when I did pick up cycling as a way to get to work and save money as well as trying to keep my weight stable, it wasn't for joy, it was for purpose. I learned to love cycle commuting but my intro to running a few years later was much the same- it was a means to an end as opposed to v3.1.5.7.5 or whatever we're on of Chloe. I choose cycle commuting because getting on the tube everyday is grim. I run with a club for joy and purpose. I plan my weekends around races I want to run and I drag my friends along to classes that I think sound like fun.

My career was the biggest thing I was working towards at 18- I went to university as a means to getting a job, I wish I'd understood better what other options might have been available to me, but ultimately I had no idea what I wanted to do and when I finished university 4 and 5 years later it was still a struggle. What I wanted proved to be out of reach and I worked with what I had- having started what has the potential to essentially be my dream job this September seems a little serendipitous or perhaps synchronous. Perhaps it's this that has made me so reflective of the decade that has passed.

A few other little things I've ticked off in the last 10 years:

- Travelled - I've visited and loved some amazing places including Vietnam, Leipzig, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Las Vegas, Valencia, Carcassonne, Nigeria and Madeira to name a few

- Educated - Those who missed the years of dodgy outfit posts taken in my room in halls might not know that I have a BA Hons degree which is equally weighted across 3 languages making it a triple major and I have a Graduate Diploma in Law as well as having taken courses specific to marketing, speedwriting, recruitment, HR and most recently I qualified as a Ride Leader with British Cycling. I also learned more than I could ever have taught as a guest lecturer on a very memorable week long trip to Nigeria.

- Partied - as a sucker for a freebie I've spent a lot of Sunday morning dawns waiting for a nightbus after a night watching world class DJs whilst a family member managed Ministry of Sound

- Coffee AND Wine - 18 year old Chloe didn't like either, these days they are 2 of my main food groups...

Have I done anything exceptional in the last decade? No, not really. I am in many ways unremarkable- I can't tell you stories of making the world a better place or overcoming extreme adversity but what I do know is that working out who you are and what you stand for and being comfortable with that will stand you in good stead to spread good karma- be that letting someone past you in the supermarket queue, donating your organs, making an academic breakthrough, it's for sure easier to see the opportunities to make the world a bit brighter if you can honestly say- I am who I am.












SHARE:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Month in Review: September 2017

Well. It was a bit quiet around here in September and as is often the way for me, the complete opposite is true of my life offline.

In August I chatted a bit about accepting a brand spanking new 'proper' job after 3 years working as an ops manager for the recruitment company my parents founded. It's been a massive shift as I've moved into a completely different industry so it's been what you might call a steep learning curve!

One of the many benefits to my new challenge is a return to cycle commuting since I'm now living just over 10km from my office instead of 80 miles worth of motorway driving.



That means these awesome and light up tights are back out and in force. It also means I'm getting a solid hour of exercise in 3-4 days per week which is good because my running and other training is a bit all over the place with trying to establish a new routine.

I'm still very much running and have in recent months truly learned the joy of parkrun. I've never really been a morning person so getting up earlier on the weekend to run 5k didn't appeal but after a few irregular appearances, the joy of the community hooked me in. After a plea from my new home run at Walthamstow, I accidentally ended up as Run Director this month...



Yup. Accidental RD. They even gave me an Airhorn of Power which is almost as good as the time someone gave me a Megaphone of Power....

Tom & I went to Leeds to visit his parents this months and demonstrated to the fullest extent an example of piss poor planning. From booking the wrong hotel to not going out for dinner, to holes in my only pair of jeans, we well and truly ballsed it up. On the plus side we did both discover the joy of a GAP outlet store just off the M1 on the way home because we neither of us had enough work clothes. Oh. My. Exciting. Life.

I found myself at my first football match this month. Craven Cottage is a nice ground, although it helped that I had a pass for their newly open wine lounge....



So there's a small handful of things I did do, but probably a few things I didn't do say more about my September than anything else...

I didn't cook much and I definitely wasn't feeling inspired in the kitchen. This whole change in routine thing played havoc with trying to eat properly. I've eaten a lot of take-out salad and a lot of cobbled together meals.

I didn't make it to a single training session with what I hope will be my new running club and I'm missing club running so much. Here's crossing fingers for October.

I didn't race at all in September. But given I've got a busy autumn season coming up, I'm not so worried about that. I've had a pretty phenomenal summer season without really realising it- I knocked almost 2 minutes off my 5km PB and had a blast doing it surrounded by brilliant people.

I didn't read very much either. I'm making up for that this week and next as I'm fulfilling the last bit of my exit from my previous job covering some holiday but here's a few things that did catch my eye...

Casquette on how women in sport are basically taking over the world

An absolutely brilliant restaurant that is the best definition of unstuffy dining taken to the next level, Elystan Street won an AA Award AND got their first Michelin Star this week. Phil Howard and his amazing team are worth a follow on Twitter & Instagram for envy inducing food pictures and an injection of joy back into the catering industry. 

You need this autumnal squash & sage bake that features all the cheese by Sarah. 

We need to remember why Tessa Jowell was so impactful in giving women in particular a voice in British politics without demeaning her to being the Mother in Law of someone else. 

I'm pretty hooked on everything that Emma makes since she started creating beautiful things from silver, but she also writes very candidly about her experience with breast cancer and her post about feeling angry in the aftermath of that is important.

And lastly, I felt super old when I worked out it was 10 years this weekend since I started university. As a fresher I had no idea at all what my life would like when I graduated, never mind in a decade. It's been a twisty turny road so far, but I feel satisfied that I've grasped every opportunity and made the best of them all as they've come my way. I've made peace with many of the things I allowed to hold me back. I wish I could claim this picture was artistically created on my first night at uni back in 2007, but the truth is a combination of cheap vodka and a phone by a brand that doesn't exist anymore.







SHARE:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Month in Review: August 2017

August, what a month. It feels like it's been a busy month and it's been one of firsts and lasts.

I willingly went to my first 5th birthday party- my second cousin's eldest daughter (we think that makes her my third cousin....) ran riot on cake and turkey dinosaurs whilst her dad got the barbecue going and supplied the booze for the grown-ups. For someone who just doesn't do kids, I had a great afternoon- Oliver stood up to his daddy duties to make sure not even rain could stop play...



After my very first DNF last month- click if you missed my post about Did Not Finish status, I ran another well under 30m 5k- not enough to beat the PB I set in May but well under my previous long standing PB. I also soaked up the (fake because results are age graded) glory of being first home for a club race. It was a reminder that running is as much about believing that you are strong as it is about how fast you can put one foot in front of the other. It also goes to show how much I've benefited from the encouragement and experience of all our March AC runners this year.

ZSL collaborated with Oasis to produce some beautiful fashion pieces. I could not resist tiger trainers but this shirt is also beautiful and has become a new favourite. There's still stock on the website and some of the items are even in the sale.



And food, I didn't cook a lot in August but spent a lot of time using up things from the cupboards as I clear out my space at my parent's house where I'm based for part of the week for work. This one was a big plate of comfort joy- pork battered out, breaded and shallow fried (sort of schnitzel) with spaghetti & courgette tossed in pesto.



We said a final goodbye to my great-grandmother this month. She passed away at the end of July after a monumental 15 year struggle with dementia. I'll use this as a cue to remind you that you still have until 31st October to take part in #RunningDownDementia to raise £100 for Alzheimer's Research UK. That's 60 more days to run 100km, 150km or 250km. Go on... you know you want to.

Another personal one, I talked about my fear of being found out this month and a few days later had an unwitting brush with someone who didn't recognise me but would have known me if I'd told them who I was. Do not let your past define who you 'really are' We are all defined by our history and our choices but not exclusively. Click if you missed it.



I wore more proper clothes this month too. This one is from a day I spent in my new office before my official start date. Sometimes my version of adulting includes galaxy prints, ok? Click if you missed the full What I Wore post

I've now completed my first week in my shiny new job- I'd forgotten how much work it is to be the new girl, but I'm getting there and it's certainly the vast shift in career that I thought it was going to be. Oh, and the novelty of going home to my flat every night of the week hasn't quite worn off yet either, especially since I've nailed my cycle route into the office (Google really doesn't like the Cycle Super Highways does it?!)

So what have I been reading... Here's a few things you should have a flick through....

A massive and very swear-y FUCK YOU to clean eating. Read it immediately.

Hayley over at London Beauty Queen wrote this incredibly well informed and balanced post about using app based contraception which was a timely reminder that we must be responsible for making informed choices when it comes to the products we use and our bodies. 

Another post by Hayley, even more important perhaps- Fat shaming or any kind of shaming is NOT ok and calling people out directly is necessary but it's not easy. 

People talk about the life changing magic of not giving a shit, or the life changing magic of tidying up. Phoebe chatting about the life changing magic of getting on with shit is everything I live my life for, and probably a reason that Tom doesn't always know whether he loves me or hates me...
SHARE:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What I Wore: Galaxy Print Skirt

There is some kind of special pull when it comes to galaxy or cosmic prints. I just can't resist them and the rate at which things often sell out says that I'm not the only one. Luckily for me, there's always eBay when I want to hunt something down and much like my other favourite eBay midi skirt- click if you missed my floral midi skirt post.





So yeah, I had to do that thing where I wear 'proper' clothes again. Something that's about to become an everyday issue as of TODAY I'm back in a proper job in a proper office with other people to whom I'm not related. Thing is, my version of proper clothes and adulting sometimes involves a galaxy print or something in a vibrant shade of green or something with glitter. And that's ok too. I do not remember fondly the more corporate dress codes I've had to work with previously and I think there will be something nice about pulling on more than just jeans and a jumper everyday like I have been doing for the last 3 years.


T-shirt is a linen one from H&M last year, necklace is super old and the shoes are Geox



SHARE:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chloe Likes To Eat: Snack Attack

Once upon a time, I used to have a proper job. Y'know, one where I had to go to a proper office with other people to whom I'm not related. Everyday. At the same time everyday. I'm about to re-enter that world, which is a bit daunting. But my point is (I'm getting there....) that apparently, there are loads of people missing out the joy that is a desk snack stash. Or at least there were in my last office and I think my parents were equally mystified at the rustling coming from my middle drawer...



Since I've been working with family, I have dutifully converted them to the snack drawer. We each have our stash in our own desk drawers, things to munch on in between meals or before/after training sessions, little treats of varying types and indulgence. So, here's the tour...



Yup, so that'll be my middle drawer and the contents. My snack drawer. It's quite full (good job I'm back on secondment for a couple of weeks in October...) and some of my favourites are:

Aldi deli Sweet & Salt popcorn. I talked about it in my Aldi best buys post last month- click if you missed it. It's a cheap and cheerful carb heavy pick-me-up, especially good for training days and HUNGRY days.

The Veggie Burst pouches are also from Aldi and probably should have gotten a mention in the Best Buys post. 25g pouches of almonds, cashews and edamame beans flavoured with salt and pepper. A welcome savoury snack as it can be tough to find smaller, individual snacks that don't need to be in the fridge that are savoury. These are also relatively inexpensive at 29p a pack.



The somewhat inevitable appearance of a protein bar. These are PhD Smartbars and a relatively new product. The raspberry one is good for a dark chocolate fix although the raspberry filling seems to leak out of them in the packet and it tastes a little like cough mixture (I don't mind that, it's comfortingly medicinal). The Peanut butter one though.... Think Starbars. Remember those? Not quite as sickly but every bit as good. Perfect for a sweet treat with less sugar and more protein than an actual Starbar. You can buy them direct from PhD by the box but it's actually cheaper to buy their 'pick n mix' bundles of 5 for £10- you can pick the same flavour for all 5 or mix it up as much as you like.

I'm not a huge tea drinker or even coffee drinker- I tend to have a couple of cups of very strong French roasted filter coffee in the morning but then leave it there for the rest of the day. But both the Teapigs peppermint & the T+ multivitamin are pleasant for a warming drink on a cold day and the lemon & peach multivitamin tea in particular actually tastes of lemon & peach rather than generic green tea. Bonus. Teapigs and T+ both available from Ocado.



And nuts. A convenient little blend of raw almonds, cashews, brazil nuts and hazelnuts. I love the idea of making my own blends but I have approximately zero self control when it comes to picking at a bag of nuts and that's a lot of calories and a lot of fat to consume. These tubs actually contain more than one serving but they are convenient and they're from Lidl- look for them on the checkout aisles.

What's in your drawers? I am intrigued to see if anyone else fills their space with an array of edibles in my new office. I'm also intrigued as to whether I'll be the only one wandering about with a 1.5L water bottle (yes, really). Given I generally get through around 3.5L of water in a typical working day, it's going to be a challenge!
SHARE:
BLOGGER TEMPLATE MADE BY pipdig