Tag Archive: Celebrations


Today is my one year anniversary of blogging!

It all started after feeling totally frustrated following my year out of life on the PGCE. I had so many thoughts to express and lots of stories to tell and I was annoyed that I wasn’t doing the thing I loved the most – writing. I remembered the old blog account I had set up years previously but being a total commitment-aphobe I’d only managed a couple of half-arsed posts. I wrote my first post about the PGCE and I’ve managed to stick to a post per week ever since without missing one. That’s a huge achievement for me! I’m really proud of the things I’ve written and I hope people have enjoyed reading them and found some sense in my ramblings.

I like to mark occasions (it borders on the obsessive), so to do so, here are the three blog posts from the past year I am most proud of.

1) Back to Reality: Life Post-PGCE – My first real post and one which generated some great responses. Still worthy advice for anyone considering going through Hell  – beginning a PGCE.

https://gavhayes.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/back-to-reality-life-post-pgce/

2) Closing the Curtain on WMTS – Probably the most honest piece I’ve done. WMTS closing meant so much to me and it’s still hard for me to go past the empty space where it once stood. It’s my most viewed piece to date and I received some lovely comments of support from the people of Wrexham.

https://gavhayes.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/closing-the-curtain-on-wmts/

3) Cardigan-gate: A true  Story – Proud because it’s true and it’s about something that means a lot to me. I could argue the whole gender/diversity thing for hours. But this post pretty much sums it up.

https://gavhayes.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/cardigan-gate-a-true-story/

So thanks for reading and here is to another twelve months!

 

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 Brace yourself…the ‘New Year, New Me’ posts are coming.

You know I have a difficult relationship with social media. I use it every day, yet sometimes I absolutely despise it. The way people use it makes me so cross. One of my major gripes is people who create this perfect online persona – ‘Everything is great, we all love each other. Life couldn’t be more perfect’ – when in reality we all know he’s having an affair and the child is the spawn of Satan.

Anyway, another thing that bugs me is the annual ‘New Year, New Me’ status. We’re about to be inundated with them. People vaguely alluding to some crisis they’ve had recently and vowing to reap revenge or make a dramatic change in 2016. ‘2016 is going to be my year’, ‘No more Mr Nice Guy in 2016’. Oh please! Stop! Very often it’s the usual offenders posting the same promises every year.

I’ve been thinking about this and for one terrifying moment over the weekend I almost made the same the promise. I know. Madness! Reflecting on 2015, I thought about the good, the bad and the stressful of the last 12 months. After a bumpy start, 2015 turned out to be very rewarding – I became a teacher, moved into my own place, got reconnected with some amazing friends and made plenty of new ones. On the whole, a success. I’d have never predicted how kind the year could be last December. So it goes to show we don’t know what we’re going to get given, all we can do is make the most of each moment. However, this was the year of the PGCE, therefore I spent a lot of nights reading/writing/planning/preparing and my social life did suffer. So I do hope that in 2016 I can make more time for my friends and general social-ness.

2015 started with a bit of crisis. After a sickly Christmas, I rushed into the year a tired, anxious, frustrated mess. In January I turned 25 and I had a bit of mid-mid-life crisis (fingers crossed for 100). I began to question my life choices and sank into a low funk that I couldn’t dig myself out of.  It didn’t help that my family started to make hints about ‘settling down’ and (goodness me) ‘Growing up!’. It appeared that as I was close to securing what they saw as ‘a good job’, the next steps would be to ‘go out, find a girl and have children’. For Christ’s sake. *Takes a deep breath*. Those close to me know that this is not my cup of tea at all and I have my own opinions on marriage and children (which is another blog post you can look forward to!). How could I expect someone to attach themselves to me when I was feeling like I didn’t really know myself? One family member even told me that now I was ‘older’ I needed to wear more neutral colours – ‘the plainer, the better, at your age’. I questioned everything from friends to lifestyle choices to underwear (yes, I know, ask no further questions) and I realised I didn’t know who I was. In February, I accidentally discovered a secret that changed my circle of friends (sorry, now I’m doing it! Alluding to a secret! Please, forgive! I promise it’s relevant) and when I returned home as a fully-trained teacher I felt very much like I was building my life from scratch. In November, I moved home which kick started a chain of events that has led to me ending the year very differently to how it started. At the moment, I’m happy, confident and determined to have lots of fun in 2016.

This is mostly down to the freedom I’ve been granted since moving out. I can do anything I want now and I feel like I’ve finally started to express myself. When I lived with my parents, I couldn’t start the morning with a yoga session, have last minute gatherings of friends, burn incense in the bathroom or play music into the night because it disturbed the people I lived with (and I’m sure they’d have something to say if I slipped into down dog over breakfast). For the first time, I can be myself and I’m looking forward to exploring that more in the New Year. So what I’m saying is not ‘New Year, New Me’, but ‘New Year, MORE me.’ I want to be able to get to know this person I’ve carried around for 26 years. I want to express myself, try new things and live. Exist.

So here’s to a happy, healthy 2016. I’m not promising to stamp on all my enemies, see the world or anything dramatic. I just want to enjoy the good times and make the most of living. And if it doesn’t work out….well….there is always next year.

 

Merry Stress-mas!

Christmas! It’s everywhere. In the shops…on the streets….in our homes!

I bloody love Christmas, and have done since I was a child, but as I’ve got older I have suffered annually from Christmas-angst. It’s only recently that I’ve noticed just how stressful the holidays are. We put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect Christmas and I am a serial offender of this crime.

For the last three years I’ve vowed to have a stress-free Christmas and it NEVER happens. Each year I push myself to the verge of an anxious breakdown, sometimes literally making myself ill, just over Christmas. And I know plenty of people who are exactly the same. What is wrong with us?

In the grand scheme of things – it’s one day. One day! But for weeks prior to the 25th I catch myself worrying about everything. Buying the perfect presents, getting the right wrapping paper. Do I have enough nibbles? What if friends come round? Do my decorations look perfect? Is everywhere clean?! Am I getting a cold?!

I worry so much about the slightest thing ruining that run up to Christmas that, nine times out of ten, I’m ill through bolstering my own stress levels. But I can’t seem to break the cycle. This year I was adamant I would have a perfect Christmas in my new home. I was doing everything I could to remain calm but this weekend those first embers of anxiety have started crackling and I can only put it down stress-mas. (Don’t worry, I ate loads of chocolate and drank some questionable vodka.)

Why is it we get so obsessed with making this one day perfect?  I know people who have gone so far as to get new windows and doors for their whole house before Christmas when it wasn’t really necessary. Why do we have to have everything perfect? We spend our time preaching to the children that the importance of Christmas isn’t the aesthetics and the material things, it’s being with your loved ones and being thankful. Then we get totally freaked out because the baubles on the tree aren’t scattered correctly and M&S don’t have the right stuffing.

Of course, the stress isn’t always brought on by oneself. A big chunk of my Christmas-chaos comes from arguing family members and guilt from unsatisfied (and VERY divorced) parents. Hats off to those who actually manage to split themselves in two over the Christmas period – I’ve yet to perfect this, so have opted to label this year a ‘Friendy Christmas’ rather than a family one. I love my family but, just like everyone else, they drive me up the wall. So for this year, let all of us children of divorce raise a big middle finger to parental guilt and enjoy the season for ourselves. Just for this year. Let’s not stress about what time we get to dad’s and whether mum will find out we spent half an hour extra with him. Let’s just go with the flow, open our gifts and get back home to the brandy bottle as soon as possible. (And I’ll feel so much better knowing I’m not the only one!)

For a happy Christmas, we need to keep things simple. Be with those who make you smile. Do what makes you happy. And calm down.

So whether your Christmas is chilled and stress-free or a total bloody nightmare…Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

I’ve noticed something over the last few years. November seems to have turned into a full month dedicated to pre-Christmas. From the first week, pumpkins and fireworks are replaced on shop shelves with crackers, tinsel and bumper tins of Quality Street. Mariah Carey and Kirsty McColl are piping out of our radios before the end of the second week and, some people, in those final days of November, are plastering social media with pictures of their hastily decorated trees.

I’d like to register a complaint about this! November should be November. Gloomy, miserable and bleak. Autumnal and cosy. Before the twinkly lights of Christmas peak hopefully through the mist and Christmas joy descends. You might have thought I was a Christmas-hating scrooge – but no. Absolutely not. I am a firm believer in a bit of Christmas. In fact, I’m a firm believer in anything that breaks up the monotony of life and a bit of festive spirit is always welcome at my house, whatever the festivities may be. I love Christmas! I love the cheesy songs. I love the buying and the wrapping and the giving. I love the excuse to binge on chocolate and cake and roasted vegetables and cooked meats and….well on anything really.

Alas, I have one rule which I force myself to stick by each year. No Christmas stuff until 1st December. After that I enter Christmas chaos. But NEVER before.

I do this not because I want to limit the Christmas experience, but because I want to preserve it. If I started thinking about it in November I just know that by December 24th I will be totally sick of it. Probably literally. In schools, if I start singing carols and whipping out the Christmas craft too soon, the children will be bouncing from the ceiling within just a few days.

It is the most wonderful time of the year, true, but like everything too much of it can be overkill. Everyone reaches the stage in between Christmas and New Year when they are just sick of being jolly, fed up of eating and begin longing for normality – work, the gym and moaning about being bored.

The magic of Christmas needs to be preserved. I remember how excited I used to get as a child (often resulting in actual vomit on Christmas morning. Season’s greetings.) It’s a known fact that that magic dissipates slightly as we grow older. I don’t think it goes completely, but it certainly diminishes. Which is very sad. So, we need to do our absolute best to preserve what little Christmas magic we have left, and if that means showing mega-restraint when offered a mince pie or overhearing a bit of Wham pre-December 1st then so be it.

Now…as it’s the 7th….I’m off to bury my head in a box of celebrations and bop to Slade as I wrap some gifts. No guilt whatsoever.

Milestones are supposed to happen periodically through a person’s life. I’ve been super lucky, as 2015 has given me two milestones to pass within the space of a few months.

This week something major is happening to me. After 25 years of living with a parent, I am finally moving out to live my life as a single occupant. Excited is not the word. At the end of the week I’ll be settled into my new apartment over-looking my hometown. My Comic-con-bought clock featuring eleven Doctor’s costumes will be on the wall. My bookshelf will have a new home in a living room rather than a bedroom. My telephone-box-DVD-case will be proudly on display. My clothes will hang in a spacious wardrobe rather than lie in crumpled heap in a tiny second-hand prison. I’ll have my own space to write. My life will have regenerated.

I’ve been thinking about big changes this week. The kind of events that rarely come along in life. This year I’ve had two. I’ve started a new career as a teacher and now I’m moving into my first home. I’ve wanted this for years, so I am super excited, but, as is often the case with me, with excitement comes anxiety.

I always thought that when I moved into my new home I would be unbearably excited. This, of course, is true, but I didn’t count on the sometimes suffocating sense of anxiety. For weeks I have been so eager to get those keys but at a few points I’ve been left breathless by thoughts such as ‘can I do this?’, ‘is something going to ruin it?’, ‘what happens if…?’. In the words of GaGa, ‘I’m on the edge.’

I know this is perfectly natural and once I’m settled I am determined to make this work and revel in the freedom I’ve longed after for so long…but at the moment I am just bubbling with emotions.

Aren’t humans strange? This is something, as anyone who knows me will tell you, that I’ve wanted since school.  Yet, after the initial joy settled I found myself throwing negatives into my path. Sabotaging my own happiness. I was questioning my own capability and worrying over possible scenarios that might ruin my experience in my new home. I was even questioning whether events from the past could come back to haunt me and ruin it. Why am I doing this? The answer is I just can’t help it. I am a largely positive person before my friends and colleagues, but once I’m alone I’m a worrier. I can see that most of my worries are totally ridiculous, but unfortunately my body takes a lot more convincing. I’ve found the best way to combat this to so focus on the positives and enjoy each moment. I’m taking one step at a time and indulging in every detail.

So, as I sit here holding the keys to my new place for the first time, I’m looking forward to a week of firsts. I can’t wait for that first letter through the letterbox. For the first visit from my friends. My first bath! My first night wandering around in my pants watching Doctor Who and eating Chinese food.

Bliss.

Halloween has been a bit of an event for me this year! A traditional Halloween for Mr H involves sitting in the bath with a glass of wine (normal Saturday so far…) watching Hocus Pocus. This year conjured up lots of talking points and I’m going to attempt to address them in one post…

*deep breath*

Firstly, let’s start with schools. So the last week of term saw me visit two different schools, both facing the same ban. The ban on the H word. Do not say ‘Halloween’. NEVER say ‘Halloween’. I’m not sure what spiritual threat saying the H word will unleash but it seems nowadays the only way for schools to participate in any kind of H-fun is under the disguise of Spooky Day. Halloween is no longer seen as PC as it encourages our youth to celebrate satanic ways and take part in pagan rituals. Apparently.  They can go home and play their brutal games centred on killing and murdering but, for the love of Christ, don’t let them participate in an annual event that has been celebrated for centuries.

Of course, it’s not our teachers that are enforcing this ridiculous rule. These orders come from above. Any Halloween-type event must be cleverly costumed as a ‘spooky activity’. I was privileged to be invited to two Spooky Days and both were brilliant. The children loved dressing up and getting into the spirit of things and not one of them displayed any signs of psychological disturbance. Success!

Next – Tradition. When I was a child, I remember my village being choc-full of Trick or Treaters and the door was constantly being answered. (I also have vivid memories of being forced to dress as a witch…but that’s another tale). This year, the same village was practically deserted. For the second year running we didn’t have one knock on our door! Leaving me with no other option but to eat all of the sweets I’d bought myself, thank you very much! Yes, I know! Dreadful! Where are all the children? What has happened to that excitement of getting dressed up, wandering around the estate, frightening your mates, then collapsing on the living room floor surrounded by your swag and eating until you spew? That’s all part of the magic of Halloween and it hurts me to think that children are missing out on midnight sick sessions…

My favourite tradition is Halloween TV.  I’m not really one for scary films (again…perhaps that’s a therapy session best saved for a future post…) but I do try and test myself at Halloween. This year I have watched two thirds of The Sixth Sense (once the little girl drops into the tent, I am done), episodes of American Horror Story: Hotel (which I love! Sometimes I find it too gory but, we must remember, it has GaGa), and the Eastenders Halloween Special (but you saw that one coming, didn’t you?). My night was topped off with Hocus Pocus. What a film. I’ve no idea why they haven’t made a sequel. Each year I forget how brilliant it is. The three witchy leads give incredible performances and I can quote most of it by heart.

Now then…..finally….I also broke from tradition this year. I went out. That’s right. Out. I am usually a great believer in staying in and I’ve been known to make comments on how awful my town is for a night out so I was a bit apprehensive about taking to the streets dressed as a vampire. However, it was awesome. There was such a great atmosphere and some people had gone to great lengths with their costumes (and some hadn’t). I’d definitely consider a sociable Halloween next year.

So that’s Halloween. Another year of spooky fun over. Now then, are those jingle bells I hear…..?

Bonus:  Here’s my friend Z and I. I’m a vampire, she’s a ‘dirty old dead nun’.

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