20 June 2017

Cooking For Self-Care

I've talked about my love of cooking quite a few times over the past year or two but I feel like it's about time I gave the topic a post of it's own. I've been cooking since I was maybe about 7. Funny thing is I would have started learning to cook way later if it wasn't for my tiny hands. Sounds mad, I know, but the whole reason my mum started to teach me to cook was because my guitar teacher told me my hands were too small to play guitar. I stopped guitar lessons and instead, used that hour every week when my sister was learning guitar to cook with my mum. Pretty much fell in love straight away. For years after that I would sit in the kitchen when my mum was cooking and help her chop the veg and stir pots (nothing that would let me mess up the dinner) and gradually started getting my own kids cookbooks and cooking myself. My mum taught me the soup recipe she'd used my entire life, - one she learned off my auntie - and the rice pudding she made most weekends. I never really stopped cooking but I did lose interest for a while. However, lately it's become one of my absolute favourite things. 

I really feel like cooking is form of self-care. You're taking time out your day to make yourself a meal, not just throwing something in the oven last minute when you realise its dinnertime, but actually making a conscious effort to fuel your body. Time spent cooking is time away from work, studying, stress or literally just your phone. That time is so valuable. For me, cooking has really helped my relationship with food. I posted about my efforts to fall back in love with food a few months back and since then quite a lot's changed. I genuinely think cooking is the main reason for that. Cooking for me is time away from whatever's on my mind where I can just focus on what I'm making and whatever music I've got playing at the time. Spending time making myself and my family food makes it so much easier to then sit and enjoy it - I know what's in it, the effort that went into making it and I feel like I deserve that food. It's also super rewarding to make a meal for people you love (and that should include yourself!) and hear what they think of it. Cooking's just the best.

Catriona xo

31 May 2017

Currently I'm...#24

Since my last 'currently I'm...' post I've had a wee re-brand and possibly got some new readers (hello!) so maybe it's time for a re-introduction. Currently I'm... is a series I started in 2013 as a way of keeping a record of how life's going for me at that moment in time, sharing the stuff I'm doing, the books I'm reading, the music I'm loving and the shows I'm watching. I wanted to be able to look back at a Currently I'm... post and see exactly what was going on in my life that week, like a really small online time capsule...kinda. I've always loved writing these posts and they're some of my favourites to re-read months or years later. I never thought I'd keep the series up for 4 years but here we are. Time for #24. ♥

Listening To
The past month or so I've discovered one of my very favourite albums and I'm totally smitten. I'm a bit late to the party but it really doesn't matter when it comes to music. All I know is life is slightly more beautiful now I've found The Divine Feminine by Mac Miller. There's something so special about this album and I have no idea what it is or how to describe it. It's just so easy to listen to and I feel so at ease when it's playing. It's bloody brilliant. The entire album centres around love but not in a corny way - there's not a single cliche on it - and there's something so intimate about the way he writes. It's warm and sexy and cosy and just amazing. Jesus. My favourite tracks are Dang! - a total bop with Anderson .Paak's infectious energy (love that man) and some really funky jazzy bits - and My Favourite Part feat. Ariana Grande which I genuinely can't listen to without smiling. One of best albums I've heard in a long time. 

If you're a long-time reader of ma wee blog, you'll probably remember my short-lived days as a book-blogger. I used to be a massive reader and my room was slowly but steadily evolving into a library, but things have changed a bit over the past year and now I struggle to get through a book. I think it's down to my CFS and the brain fog that comes along with it but my concentration really isn't what it used to be. It's hard to not get down about it so my way of dealing and keeping that bit of brain engaged is reading magazines instead. It's kind of a blessing in disguise because I've discovered an absolutely beautiful magazine - Oh Comely. I treated myself to a year's subscription and it's been so lovely getting 130-odd pages of just pure joy landing on my doormat every month. Oh Comely's an independent magazine full of art, culture, photography, poetry, fashion, design, music, stories and interviews with inspirational people. It's so varied but everything in it is just so easy and beautiful to look at. The best thing to do with Oh Comely is go have a flick through it for yourself (it's available in small newsagents in the UK) - you'll fall in love. 

The past week has been pretty difficult for me health-wise so I've found myself with wayyy too much time on my hands and a lot of tv shows to get through. Try not to judge me too hard but season 2 of Sam and Cat got put on Netflix and it pretty much made my life. I don't even care what you think because that show is just pure joy and you're missing out on hours of fun if you haven't seen it. Seriously just pure, stupid joy. It's a Nickelodeon kids show about babysitters but it's better than it sounds (and it has Ariana Grande in it so it's gotta be good). Moving on to less shameful loves, I recently finished season 12 of Greys Anatomy after a solid year of working my way through the box-sets with my mum. I'm way too invested in that show but I'm in too deep now to get out. This week, I went back to season 1 to start all over again and it's just as good the second time. Can you tell how much time I've had on my hands? 

What have you been loving lately? Feel free to go back and have a look at the Currently I'm... archive
Catriona xo

11 May 2017

Be Proud Of Yourself

I'm really hard on myself. Maybe if I write that I'll  make an effort to change it, cos I really should. 

At the beginning of 2017, I started keeping a wee journal and in it I would write my to-do lists, goals, wishlists, and daily achievements. I started writing down the things that I should be proud of myself for, no matter how tiny they were, so I could look back at them when I was feeling crappy and think, "goddam girl, you're doing well". For some reason, I stopped doing it a couple months back. I need to get back into it. Truth is, I spend way too much time beating myself up and not enough time celebrating my achievements and I feel like a lot of you can maybe relate to that. For some reason, it's human-nature to focus on the negatives and whilst looking for ways you can improve yourself is hella important, it's just as important to take a moment to think about all the wee ways your killing it at life. Be proud of yourself! 

Some of the achievements I wrote down at the start of the year were how I cooked for the first time in ages, made banana bread once a week for a few months consistently (need to get back into that one, banana bread is the best), gradually eased myself back into yoga after a long break, met my boyfriend's best friends, and went to my friend's flat party with a load of people I didn't know. I'm still proud of myself for each and every one of those. I haven't written down my achievements since March but now seems like as good a time as any to get back into the habit. So, me. What have ye achieved lately?

There's one pretty big thing that happened recently; I finished my second year of uni. I'm still waiting for a couple grades and I'm terrified of jinxing it but, fingers crossed, I've passed everything. In all honestly, I wasn't sure I'd make it through 2nd year. I got diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome last August and starting back at uni was a massive shock to the system. The first semester was super rocky and I took quite a lot of time off. I got my first ever extension on an essay and for a while, I thought uni might be too much for me. Looking back now, I'm incredibly proud of myself. The second semester got slightly easier and, although I've definitely had some rough spots, I made it through. If that isn't reason to be proud of myself then I don't know what is. 

One thing I know future me will look back on with a mixture of immense pride and sheer panic is a pitch I did last week. Somehow (seriously no clue how I managed it without throwing up on the spot), I pitched an idea for a radio show to industry professionals from the BBC and STV. That genuinely happened. Had to wear a blazer and everything. I'm proud of myself for that. 

On a smaller scale but still something to be super proud of, I've been looking after myself. I've been doing yoga a few times a week for months now (even treated myself to a new yoga mat), drinking more than I ever have before, and I can't remember the last day I didn't manage three meals. Self-care is something to make a priority and if you've managed to make it one, be proud of yourself.

Going super small scale, I went to the doctors by myself for the first time ever a month or so ago. I used to faint every time I stepped foot in the place so, in a weird way, that's the biggest achievement of all. Go me. 

Celebrate the wee things, be proud of yourself, and fill your thoughts with positive vibes and self-assurance. You're doing great, I know it.

Catriona xo

5 March 2017

Falling Back In Love With Food

For as long as I can remember I've had a bit of a dodgy relationship with food. I've went through phases of cutting out things for no apparent reason, listening to wellness bloggers, eating "clean"...pretty much every food-related fad. I spent months of my life when I was 16 using Blogilates as my lifestyle guru and doing daily pilates on an almost carb-free, "clean" diet. I saw sugar as a scary, super evil thing for a year of my life and almost stopped eating fruit because of the natural sugar content. Basically, my mind was totally warped for a good chunk of my teenage life and it's had a lasting effect on my relationship with food. I would honestly put a lot of the blame on people who promote clean eating and "wellness", as I fell deep into that pit at a time in my life when I was super impressionable and self-conscious, but I don't feel anywhere near qualified to talk about these things so I'll just refer you all to my absolute queen, Ruby Tandoh. Follow her on twitter, buy her book, fall in love with her she's incredible ugh. 

For the past couple of years I've made a conscious effort to eat. Sounds simple but it isn't always. My way of doing that was cooking, reverting back to a vegetarian diet after a few years of eating meat, and pretty much just eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. My relationship with food started to get so much better, I was the healthiest I've ever been and I had a really positive relationship with my body. It was all pretty great and I kinda just forgot about how I'd previously been with food. Then I got a bit of a shock. You might be wondering why I'm even writing this now but that wee shock happened just over a week ago and I'm needing to do some reflection and get myself back on track. Without getting too specific, I stepped on the scales for the first time in months and saw a weight that reminded me of when I was 16 and eating a lot less than I should have been. Shook me up a bit.

First thing I did when I saw the number was tell my mum and boyfriend because if I've learned anything from struggling with food, it's that the most important thing is to have support. There's no way I could get myself back on track all by myself. Second thing I did was think about how it had actually happened. I got stuck in my own head for a couple of days and definitely didn't handle the situation the way I maybe should have, but that reflection needed to happen and I'm happy it did. I realised I'd reverted back to some of the harmful behaviours from a few years ago, mainly skipping meals because I was "too busy". Spoiler alert: you're never too busy to eat. That reflection made me decide to make food my priority and stop making excuses for not eating. Skipping breakfast because I have an early start at uni is one thing, but when that happens twice a week, every week, for 6 months....that becomes an issue, Then add on missed lunches a couple times a week. Add on cutting out dairy and chocolate to help clear up my skin. It all kinda spiralled into a big ol' mess. 

Sooooo, what am I gonna do? I'm falling back in love with food. I'm making an effort to cook at least once a week, to make banana bread every weekend, to make really nice lunches for myself whether I'm at uni or not, and to see all food as good. There is no such thing as bad food, no such thing as "clean" eating, and wellness is bullshit. I've already had some bad days and some struggles but I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. It's a journey, a process, and it's gonna take time. I'm making an effort to educate myself on what it really means to eat well (people like Ruby Tandoh are making this possible with articles like this one) and, most importantly, I'm taking a page out of Ruby's book and I'm eating what I want. I had a really good brownie today. 

A whole lot of love,
Catriona xo

27 January 2017

Little Exercises In Self-Care

I feel as though a lot of people, myself included, are using 2017 as a year to refocus, with a lot of emphasis being put on the importance of self-care. 2016 was a bit of a train-wreck globally but on a more personal level, I honestly think my biggest downfall was that I totally forgot to look after myself. Most days I'd skip meals, I'd barely drink, my sleeping pattern would be all over the place and my head would constantly either be full of negative thoughts or making lists of everything I needed to do. On reflection, I kinda never just stopped to breathe last year. The reality is that self-care isn't optional. It's so easy to get caught up in everything on your to-do list and achieving goals and working hard, but none of that is possible if you forget to eat, drink, sleep and breathe. If you look after yourself and take genuine time out to refocus and re-balance, everything will come naturally. You can be more productive and motivated, and working through your to-do list might be that little bit easier. Self-care is so important. 

It can be quite a daunting thing if you haven't ever really made self-care a priority but it doesn't have to be difficult at all. In fact, tiny wee things can be acts of self-care. At the start of the month, I wrote myself a list of little things I can do to practice self-care everyday and since I've been finding it super useful, I thought I might as well share it with you. 

Sit up straight
Such a simple thing but honestly, it's the thing on this list that I forget to do the most. I know I'm not the only one that spends a lot of time hunched over a laptop and lectures at uni totally ruin my back, but I've been making a real effort to be mindful of my posture. Take a second to re-align, roll your shoulders back, open your chest and take a deep breath. 

Have a glass of water
Hydration is legit the best thing you can do for your body. If you're struggling to focus, take a minute to go pour yourself a glass of water. Literally just the process of pouring water can be kinda relaxing anyway, and knowing that you're doing something good for your mind and body is a great feeling. Easy af. 

Stretch and breathe
You might have read a post a did back in August about how I have chronic fatigue syndrome but if you haven't, you can check that out here. One of the things I've found affects me the most is muscle pain, so needless to say, gentle stretching and yoga does wonders for me. Even if you don't really suffer from muscle pain, taking 15 minutes out of your day to stretch and be super mindful of you breathing is amazing for refocusing and winding down. You deserve that wee 15 minutes of movement and mindfulness. 

Make some food
I totally forgot to make eating a priority in 2016 and I kinda just fell out of love with food. I used to cook a lot and I absolutely loved it but then I convinced myself I was too busy or too tired or too stressed to make myself nice food. That's changing this year and I've got right back into cooking. My relationship with food's never been great and I know what it feels like to know that you really should eat but you just can't bring yourself to, but even having a cup of tea and a banana is a great start. Just nourish yourself and take it a step at a time. 

Take some time away from your phone
Right, this is super important. I'm guilty of having my phone permanently stuck to my hand and I'm really guilty of lying in bed scrolling through twitter and instagram then looking at the clock and realising 2 hours has passed and I haven't done shit. At the end of the day, staring at a screen isn't healthy but more to the point, social media can be so harmful for your self-esteem. It might be hard - I struggle with it for sure - but try to have an hour or two away from your phone and take some time to just totally focus on something else. Some days my time away from my phone is just the time I'm in class but even that's progress. Put your phone on to charge then leave the room. Have a bath. Hug your cat.

Brush your teeth 
Not an exciting one to finish with but this one is honestly one of my favourites. Some days getting out of bed feels impossible, let alone actually getting motivated to be productive. On those days, I tell myself that if I can just get up and brush my teeth, then I can maybe get dressed, wash my face and have a drink. Then maybe I can do some uni work or write a blog post. If not, that's okay. But at least I cleaned my teeth. It's one of those wee things that instantly makes you feel a bit more awake and a little bit better, aaaand it's a super easy way to look after yourself. 

Let's make 2017 a year of self-care. ♥
Catriona xo

18 January 2017

What Uni's Taught Me About Public Speaking

On Monday, I go into the second semester of my second year at university. I feel like I bang on about it all the time but for anyone who doesn't know, I'm doing a BA in media and communication at a uni in Glasgow. The uni in question absolutely loves two things: group work and public speaking. When I was in school any mention of group work or presentations or group presentations (my idea of hell) made my legs go numb and my heart race from the moment it was brought up to the moment it was finished. When I was looking for a uni to go to and a course to do, one of the things I looked at first was the weight of presentations. I really couldn't see myself lasting very long on a course that was all about presentations. Public speaking terrified me. Somehow, I missed the bit on the description of the course I'm doing that said "heyyy we are allll aboutttt public speakin pal", so I applied and got in with an unconditional offer. To be fair, I should've known I'd have to communicate on a media and communication course but let's ignore that.

No word of a lie, in my first week of university I was given a group presentation assignment. An assessed one. My seminar group had known each other for a few days and there we were being split into groups and told to prepare a poster and presentation for a couple weeks after. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. I died a wee bit. Luckily I'd already got to know two of the girls in my group (and they're now two of my closest friends) so working in a group wasn't too difficult. The main thing I realised pretty quickly was that we were all feeling exactly the same. No one particularly wanted to be doing a presentation that early in the course and none of us were super familiar with each other. I also realised that it was all a really clever plan from my module leader that kinda made total sense - if we get stuck in straight away with a group presentation, we would maybe find future ones that little bit easier. I actually think it worked. It was bloody terrifying at the time but we all got good grades and I honestly feel like it helped me with my fear of public speaking. 

Since that first presentation, I've lost count of the number of presentations I've had to do at uni. I still get shaky legs and pins and needles in my fingers when I'm standing up there ready to speak, and I still feel like I'm going to make a complete idiot of myself in front of everyone but after a year and a half of presentations, I'm yet to totally fail. Each presentation gets a teeny bit easier. There was a turning point for me at the start of second year when I had an unexpected stand-up comedy crash course in a PR seminar (random, I know). Jojo Sutherland came in and terrified the shit out of all of us by giving us no choice but to chat to her (and hold eye contact which I've always struggled with). She talked to us about what we think about when we stand up to present or pitch, then somehow debunked every worry everyone had by reminding us that literally everyone in that room was worrying about public speaking. When we were up there panicking about what everyone would be thinking about us, everyone in the room was too busy worrying about their own presentations to judge. There's a level of mutual understanding that I'd never considered before. After that, she told us to get up and stand at the front of the room one by one, and do one minute of stand-up. I'm not kidding. She told us to talk about something we love or hate, for a minute straight with no silences and no "I don't know what to say"s. Don't worry about being funny or not, just talk for a minute. As soon as she said that I lost all feeling in my hands - legit almost got up and left the room - but I knew that if I did this, I'd be hella proud of myself. So I stood at the front of the room and told 30-ish people that I get emotional when I think about cats because I know that I won't be able to hug every cat in the world. That happened. Sat back down and Jojo told me I was "insane but in an endearing way". People laughed and I was on a wee high for the rest of the day. 

Public speaking is scary, of course it is. What gives me a little bit of comfort is the fact that the vast majority of people find public speaking scary too. When you're standing up there with your hands shaking so much you're struggling to read your notes, the person who presented before you is watching thinking about how they shook too. When you stumble over your words a bit, the person who's gonna present later is rooting for you to keep going, knowing that they'll be in your position soon. There's less judgement in that room than you think. To be honest, if I can get used to presenting, there's a very good chance you can too. 


17 January 2017

Evolution and all that

As mad as it sounds, I've been blogging here since August 2007. Whenever I see 2007 written down I'm automatically like "aw 3 years ago" but nope, 2007 was a decade ago. I feel very old. I started this blog 10 years ago as a wee 9 year old, wanting a place to write random rubbish and get my 9 year old opinions out. It was called "What I've Done Today" - pretty straight-forward cos I was 9 - and was literally just an account of what I did each day. I essentially used my blog as a diary but like the little internet-savvy kid I was, a physical paper diary was too old-school so I did it online. After a few years of What I've Done Today, this wee place became Life Through A Cat's Eyes, then Through A Cat's Eyes...then somehow I got featured in issue 494 of Shout! magazine and I kinda realised my blog could become more than an online diary. 

Now, I'm 19 (again, old as hell) and I've just done a re-brand and re-launch. Like I said to my mum the other day, "I'm hefty into yellow at the moment" so I went all yellow with it. Also got a new name - catseyes - and bought myself an actual legit domain. Feeling very profesh. I've been struggling to come back to blogging for quite a while now but this revamp has made me feel quite motivated so I'm really hoping to get back into the swing of things. I miss this place and the amazing people I've met through blogging over the years, and at the end of the day, I'm a media student, so maybe blogging isn't an awful idea.

Thanks for not totally giving up on me ♥
Catriona  (@catriona_hannah) 
Blogger Template Created by pipdig