The Problem with Overthinking

Of all the negative personality traits that I posses, one stands high above the rest as being the most destructive.

I’m a thinker. If something bothers me, particularly in a situation where I feel unfairly treated, I’ll think about it… and then I’ll think some more. I’ll even think about the way that I’m thinking about something and by the time I have finished thinking I will have inevitably blown the initial annoyance out of all proportion in my mind. I think about what I could or should have said or done, what I wish I hadn’t said or done, what I will say and do in the future. I think about what has been said and done to me, and what should have been said to me instead.

It’s a lot of thinking… and it’s exhausting.

Despite the fact that I’m fully aware that this is not a healthy thing to do, I have found it difficult to control at times and the end result is always the same – I will have wound myself up and become agitated, the problem still remains unresolved and the only person left feeling angry, anxious or hurt is me. Continue reading

40+ Useful Ideas for Self Care

Useful ideas for practicing self care

Things have been a little on the stressful side recently, and those who follow the blog regularly may notice that I haven’t posted much of my own content. With wedding planning, a biopsy followed by stitches (everything is fine and all-clear thank goodness, but it was a little worrying at the time), a truly horrific day of supply teaching (without being melodramatic, I think it was the worst day in over eleven years of working in schools that I’ve ever had) and the general daily tasks that needed completing there has been more than a few occasions where I have found myself a little overwhelmed.

In an attempt to try and overcome the anxiety and general cloudiness that fills me whenever I reach certain panic levels, I have actively indulged in self care – any voluntary activity that helps to maintain my mental, physical and emotional health. This isn’t just ‘hygge’ – they have involved numerous things that I enjoy simply because they make me feel better and I have taken the time to be mindful of them as I am doing it. Continue reading

How to Create Flat Lay Images Using Basic Props

When I first started using Pinterest one of the things that I had to learn how to do were pinnable images. It took me a while, developing my own style over a period of time using either my own pictures or ones that were available for free on stock image sites. However, one thing that I always had difficulty in finding were what I now know as Flat Lay images – pictures taken from above of beautifully arranged objects within a specific theme.

In particular, Flat Lays are hugely popular on Instagram and are a fantastic way to tell a story. I’ve seen absolutely stunning examples of everything from travel, blogging and stationery, to clothing, make-up and food.

I’ve wanted to create my own for some time. However, I’m not a photographer. I use my iPhone and my Canon compact camera to take pictures, but my knowledge doesn’t extend past point, shoot and edit via Instagram or Canva. So, I set out to spend a minimal amount of money on some props and use basic trial and error to see what the end results would be.

And thankfully, they turned out far better than I ever could have expected! Continue reading

How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

imageSelf-sabotage happens for a number of reasons: a lack of self belief and/or self worth, a fear of failure, feeling like the outsider, a consistent focus on perceived negative aspects of yourself. It usually appears in the form of what I refer to as ‘my demons’ – those pesky internal thoughts that creep in whenever a challenge, a plan or a deadline is presented:

You’re not good enough.

They don’t like you.

They’re not going to take you seriously.

That’s too difficult.

I’ll do it tomorrow – I’ll feel better about it then.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I left something to the last minute, or avoided putting myself forward because of a constant fear of rejection or failure. My daily routine involved berating myself for not getting something done the day before, or wasting my money on something that I didn’t actually want or need, only to struggle to pay for something important later on. I hated the fact that I had put on a large amount of weight, and yet consistently gorged on junk food every night until I felt sick. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned About Blogging

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I’ve been spending some time revisiting, editing and deleting old blog posts and I discovered a number of articles that have been lost in the hundreds (about 750 at this present moment) that I have generated over the last three-and-a-half years.

I created this one about blogging regrets based on what I have learned and suggested ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ to consider after the first year and much of what I wrote then still remains the same. I’ve decided that it is worth sharing again, so I’ve updated it and added further information and links to useful posts.

What I would do differently

1. I would decide on a name that I was happy with at the very beginning. In my excitement about the prospect of starting the blog, I hastily chose the name ‘Suzie81’ – my name and the year that I was born. After a while I became really dissatisfied with my choice – it had no real reference to any of the content in the blog – but by this point my readers knew me by this name. When I later purchased my domain name, there were very few options that I could use and I ended up changing it to ‘Suzie Speaks’ to avoid as little confusion as possible. Continue reading

50 Easy Steps to Make Life Better

Easy steps and life hacks

This was a list of physical, psychological, financial and emotional things that I created a couple of months ago to make life that little bit easier… and it really works. Of course, it’s impossible to do all of these in a day, but I have broken it down into smaller chunks – I’ve found that incorporating things into a daily routine, while occasionally adding in a few extra tasks makes day-to-day life easier and good for the soul.

1. Find a mantra. I have one that I refer to regularly during difficult times: Create a life that you don’t need to take a vacation from. This is what drives me in almost everything that I do.

2. Learn the power of no, and recognise what you do and don’t owe others.

3. Declutter. Be ruthless. Anything that you haven’t read, worn or listened to in a year serves no purpose and is simply taking up space. Sell, give away and/or upcycle. For that extra feel-good factor, take your unwanted items to a clothing bank or charity shop.

4. Create a meal plan and, where possible, prepare food in advance. To make it more exciting, research cheap and easy recipes that you have never tried before. Pinterest is a brilliant place to find these.

5. Exercise. Go for a walk. Swim. Cycle. Run. Anything to get those endorphins going. Continue reading

25 Mix-and-Match Date Ideas

Date ideasI love the idea of dating, even when a relationship is established. The Bloke and I have been together for six years, but we still enjoy planning and going on date nights – mainly because it gives us purposeful time to spend together and something special to look forward to.

The following list is a set of ideas that can be mixed and matched together to suit you and your own tastes, and don’t involve Netflix (or chill). They don’t have to involve spending a lot of money, or be done during the evenings – many are perfect for during the day too!

1. Find the recipes for your favourite foods and create a formal, three course meal from scratch (with advanced planning, ingredients can be obtained from low-cost supermarkets and farmers markets). Put on some nice music, light some candles and turn off your phones.

2. Build a (safe) fire in the back yard, snuggle up under some blankets and roast some marshmallows.

3. Go for an unplanned drive until you find something interesting (but take your sat nav or a map just in case!)

4. Create a homemade spa, complete with a bubble bath, face masks, pedicures and nice-smelling oils for massages. Treat each other. Continue reading

12 Guilty Pleasures

 

It’s the little things in life that often provide me with the most amount of happiness. We all have our guilty pleasures, and I try to indulge in them as often as I possibly can… Here are some of my favourites!

1. Listening to boy bands. I’m generally an 80’s rock chick – give me a band with massive hair, leather trousers and power chords and I have to resist the urge not to do some air guitar – but I can often find myself listening to my favourite boy bands of the 90’s. I’ve seen Bon Jovi five times in concert, but it’s not often that I’ll admit that I’ve also seen Westlife, Take That and New Kids on the Block too. If the opportunity to go and scream along to Backstreet Boys songs ever presents itself in the future, I’ll be there… Continue reading

Acts That Would Be a Better Entry for Eurovision 2016

I love Eurovision. It’s one of the highlights of my year, behind Christmas and the start of the summer holidays, and The Bloke and I make a big deal of getting in the snacky treats and alcohol and generally having a laugh at the nonsense that is spewed out each year.

Tonight we watched the #EurovisionYouDecide, the contest in which the UK votes for their favourite to represent us in the competition. The winners were ‘Joe and Jake,’ former contestants from vocal talent show ‘The Voice,’ who, while they seemed like nice people, the song wasn’t offensive (and nothing could be more offensive that the god-awful sh*t show we put forward last year) and they could sing in tune, they were lacking in what my mother refers to as ‘oomph’ – that power and presence that makes people want to stand up and yell YEEEEAAAAH when the song has finished. It was vanilla ice-cream, without the vanilla. And they were the best of a ‘meh’ bunch.

For me, Eurovision has not been a rewarding experience over the last nineteen years. We’ve tried everything, including the boyband (Blue), the world famous crooner (Englebert Humperdink), we’ve even shoved Bonnie Tyler on stage in a desperate attempt to get back into Europe’s favour. Continue reading

Three Things Thursday

imageThis was an idea I originally saw on Jenny in Neverland last year, and then a similar thing appeared on Facebook a few weeks ago. I thought it would be a fun idea to try it myself…

Three names I go by:
(Of the printable, non-offensive ones…)
1. Sue (which is odd for me, as until I’d moved to Birmingham nobody ever called me that)
2. Suzie
3. Madam (the school that I often work at insists that female staff are referred to as ‘Madam,’ instead of ‘Miss.’ Even after 4 years I still find it odd.)

Three things I blog about:
1. My daily life – almost in the form of an online journal.
2. Things that amuse me.
3. Restaurants I visit.

Three places I have visited:
1. New York
2. Pompeii
3. Barcelona

Three places I would like to visit:
1. Tokyo
2. Sydney
3. Las Vegas

Three places I have worked:
1. A well-known fast food restaurant. (I was there for eighteen months and can categorically state that if any other stores are like the one I worked in, the horror stories you have heard are most likely to be true).
2. Supervisor at a nightclub (best job ever – like getting paid for a night out).
3. Secondary school.

Three favourite drinks:
1. Volvic Lemon and Lime water, straight from the fridge so it’s ice cold.
2. Raspberry mojito.
3. Amaretto sours, with the egg white.

Three favourite things to eat:
1. Garlic and rosemary roast potatoes.
2. Yorkshire pudding.
3. Chocolate fondant.

Three memories I cherish:
1. Sitting on a balcony in Malia at 2pm on a blisteringly hot day, with a beautiful view of the ocean, sipping a drink and smoking a cigarette whilst listening to Eva Cassidy’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’
2. Last Boxing Day with my whole family – our partners were all with us and we sat, played games and laughed lots. Can’t get better than that.
3. Watching a cellist perform Bach’s ‘Air’ outside the Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Three things I am looking forward to:
1. Going on holiday with the whole family – we’ve never done this before and I’m sure it will be a laugh…
2. A few days to myself. When that will be, I don’t know, but I like to have a few days alone every so often just to recharge my batteries.
3. The surprise I have planned for The Bloke next month.

Three words I love to use:
1. Cherub – I call my students this every day and I love the confused look they always get on their faces.
2. Nonsense.
3. Shrubbery, usually with a Monty Python style accent.

Three dreams I regularly have:
1. That I can fly (those of you who know who Keith Harris and Orville were will know the song I currently have in my head).
2. My teeth fall out.
3. I’m in a school I don’t know, I can’t find my timetable and every time I try and ring my mum (?) to help me I keep pressing the wrong numbers. That’s always a fun one…

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.