Monday = Me day

Hello!

I’ve decided that I’m going to make Monday a “me” post day. By that I don’t mean I’m going to be posting all about me… but it’s not necessarily going to be a bookish day: it might be about school, about my life, about my MH: it’ll be something personal, not necessarily bookish. It MIGHT be bookish, but it won’t be a review. I always love when I get to learn more about a blogger and writing my post last week (see here) was such a great thing for me to do that I thought I’d love a space on this blog for me, the person, not just me the book blogger! I hope you guys stick around and read my Monday posts, but if they’re not your jam, that’s OK. There’ll still be plenty of bookish content the rest of the days! 

I’m going to kick off Me Day Mondays with a “happy post“. These are some of my favourite posts to write and to read. I stole the idea from my gorgeous friend Grace Latter (who is a proper babe and you should all be following her on all of the social medias if you’re not already) and I’ve well and truly taken it under my belt! 

Breakfasts with my friends. Spending time with my mam. Drinking wine on a Saturday afternoon like a fancy lady. Going back to work. New challenges. New friends. Getting so much joy out of teaching. Knowing that I’m working really hard and it’s having an impact. Reading books because I want to. Spending my birthday reading, having cake and talking about books. When people remember small things about me. Starbucks Fridays. Birthday videos from the twiglets. Getting lovely emails. Having people back in my life who’ve been gone a while. Seeing the look of joy in my kids faces when they’re enthusiastic about something. Reading Letters From The Lighthouse with the kids and them having so much enthusiasm about it. Laughing at my pal-o. Booking train tickets for London in Feb. Chocolate hob nobs and a cup of tea. Looking after myself. Buying tights that fit. Pyjamas. Clearing out my wardrobe. A new diary. Ticking off things on my to do list. Making time for meditating. Falling back to sleep on a weekend. Listening to Disney playlists as I’m marking. Being productive. Books. Always books. 

In light of ‘Monday Me Day’, I’d like to pass the torch on to you to find out what you’d like to know about me as a person? Have you got anything you’d like me to talk about? Is there anything you’d like to know about me? What do you want to see more of around here that isn’t books? 

S x 

A decade in the life of me…

The start of a new decade is a funny thing.

We all know I’m a proper sentamentalist and I’m an emotional person. Seeing everyone’s posts about 2010 vs 2020 made me think about all of the things that happened to me from 2010-2019. I went into it thinking “I’ve not really achieved/done a lot in 10 years”, but looking over it, I have. So this post is probably more for me than for anyone else, but if you’re interested, here’s a decade in the life of me (in no real order, except the order my brain thought of it). There’ll be things I’ve forgotten – this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. 

Fell in love a few times. Had my heart broken a few times. Imagined I’d marry one of them. Was crushed when that didn’t happen. Made some tragic love life decisions, but learned from them. 
Visited Paris. Had an absolute blast. Learned a lot about myself. Stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a glass of champage.
Became a blogger. It changed my life. Won an award. Met some incredible people. Made some life-long friends. Chaired events with some of my favourite authors in the land. Began to call some of my favourite authors my friends. Realised that needing an escape isn’t a weakness. Realised that people care about what I have to say and that they will read what I have to say.
Read a lot of books. Some which changed my life. Kept most of them either in my bedroom, my classroom or my school library. Kept some of them in my heart.
Started working in a school. Worked my arse off for a few years. Realised that you can chase your dreams and they can come true.
Went to university. It changed my life. Worked really fucking hard. Wrote a dissertation. Graduated. Got my teaching qualification. Started to think about getting a Masters. 
Became a teacher. It changed my life. Got my first class. Passed my NQT year. Cried a lot. Doubted myself a lot. Had to have many pep talks. Realised teaching definitely is the thing for me. Wrote for a teaching magazine. Helped a lot of people and needed a lot of help.
Became a godmother. It changed my life.
Visited my brother in Sweden. It didn’t change my life, but it made me miss him an awful lot.
Visited New York. It made me speechless. Made friends on the other side of the pond who changed my life.
Lost a lot of weight (6 stone) and probably put it all back on. Realised my weight doesn’t define me.
Stood up for myself and what I want time after time.
Turned 30. Realised that age genuinely is just a number.
Learned a lot about myself. Learned a lot about other people.

Cried a lot. Laughed a lot.
Ate lots of breakfasts. Realised that going out for breakfast was one of the things that made me happy.
Visited the seaside a lot.
Made friends with people I never imagined I would make friends with. Lost friends. Tried to surround myself with people who are good for me. 

S x 

Where have you been?

Hello!

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I have been a bit absent for this month… I’ll be honest, I was just TIRED. I suffer quite badly from SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) in Winter and this year it made me SO uninspired and indifferent to everything that I love doing. The main thing it affected was my will to sit here and talk about books. It was never because I didn’t want to blog any more; it was purely I didn’t have the capacity and the drive to do it. 

There were other factors too: tiredness, teacher life, Christmas, I wanted to not pressurise myself to BE a blogger because then I’d know it was time to stop. 

This is just a little post to say that I’m still here. I’m still reading. I’m still going to be blogging. I still love books. I still want to talk about books. I’ve just been missing for a while. I’ll be back. I promise. I already have blog posts scheduled for the new year! I don’t think I’ll be able to blog as often as I did this past year (6 times per week some weeks) but I’m going to aim for as often as I can

Of course #SixforSunday will be back. The prompts for January, February and March are being posted on Friday for those of you who are interested (hello Charlotte, that’s you mainly) and I’m so bloody chuffed that this is still a thing I do in my world. Look out for that post coming up!

I need your help friends.

I wanna know what you want to see from me. Do you like my full reviews? Do you prefer my round ups? Do you want more school based posts? Do you want to see other things outside of books and school? I love blogging, like I really love blogging. I’ve talked about it enough around these parts, but it’s a great outlet for me and I want it to continue to be something that is enjoyable for me… but also you guys! You people who read my ramblings day after day, month after month. And I am open to suggestions. Is there content you’d like to see from me that I don’t post often? I loved doing mood boards (they’re a bit more work, but they look rgeat) and I’d love to do those on occasion. Do you want me to see if I can feature other bloggers? Authors? Illustrators? I have lots of great ideas that I don’t know if I can pull off! 

What do you think? What do you want to see from me?

Thank you if you’ve stuck by me for the past few months while my posting schedule has been sporadic. Winter, being a teacher and SADs have kicked my ass, but I am still here. Still reading, still shouting about books! 

You’re all magnificent. Speak to you again soon, 

S x 

Being a blogger…

Being a blogger is something that has taken over a massive part of my life and I love it. I sit on a Sunday and I blog. I’m very much a creature of habit. Sundays are dedicated to a bit of time in town. I come home, do some work for the week ahead of teaching and then I switch my blogger brain on and I blog. I reply to emails. I read others’ blogs. I organise my thoughts into somewhat cohesive sentences. I’ll dedicate 2-3 hours (sometimes more) on a Sunday to blogging. It gives me an outlet. It gives me something to think about when everything else just seems a bit shit. It’s a place for me to come when I don’t really want to be anywhere. It’s a place for me to shout and a place for me to vent. It’s a place for me to love and share. It’s my place. It’s my corner of this vast world we call the internet where I can write the rules. It’s a space for my thoughts, in whatever messy and illogical order I want to put them. It’s a place for people to read or ignore. It’s my creative outlet. It’s somewhere for me to play, invent, explore. 

Reading has always been the thing I do. Getting the chance to talk about reading with whoever will listen is wonderful. I think if I weren’t a teacher, I’d be working in some kind of book related field. I love books. I love adventuring with new friends. I love visiting new worlds all while sitting in Starbucks/bed/on a train. I love the feeling of discovering without having to actually go anywhere. I’m not a very interesting person in that regard. I’d never climb a mountain, or parachute, or get in a helicopter, but I will do all of these things in books. I get to experience things I know I’m not brave enough to expierience in real life. Reading gives you the chance to be whoever you want to be, wherever you want to be. Reading teaches you things you might not get the chance to learn. Reading gifts you things you sometimes never expect. 

Being able to talk about books is the thing that keeps bringing me back to this blog. I want people to know about books. I want more adults to realise the brilliance and beauty of children’s and YA books. The world needs more kindness, understanding and love and you get those things in BARREL FULLS in books for kids and teenagers. You experience things you’d never get to experience elsewhere. Adult books can be so SERIOUS; kids books always have fun. Whether it’s a book I’m sent, or a book I’ve bought, it’s a book I’ll talk about. I use this space as a space for me to talk about the things that make me happy. The one thing that I always fall back on is books. They’re a massive part of my life.

I had a moment the other day where I opened the door to a very wet and soggy postman who handed me over 2 massive parcels. I knew they’d be books, but I will NEVER ever NOT be grateful for that. I feel grateful each and every single day that I get to do this. That people care enough about my opinion to let me do this is bonkers. I’d do this if no one read it. The fact authors, publishers and publicists trust me with their books and want to know what I have to say blows my mind. I am just me. I’m just a reader from Newcastle who loves books. That’s who I’ve always been. I’m a reader. This blog allows me the space to be a reader who shares books and that’s why I am still here. 

To anyone who is still there reading, thank you for stopping by. If this is your first post you’ve read, or the 800th, I’m very grateful. I never thought this would get me to places I’ve been. I’m just a girl who loves books and sharing them. Thanks for letting me share them. 

S x 

Half term happy post

Having time to myself. Spending time with my favourite people. In jokes. Knowing that I can switch off and switch back on. Seeing my Welsh pal for the first time in forever. Train travels. Reading. Spending quiet time with people. Naps. Laughing a lot. Excellent food. Breakfast. Lots of breakfast. Lie ins. Hot water bottles. Getting up knowing I’ll see my favourite people. Cuddles. Cakes. Lovely texts. Knowing the people I love are safe. Plenty of cups of tea. Quilliams. Looking after myself. Reading lots of brilliant books. Meeting doggos. Pick and mix. Takeaway YA does half term. Having people around me who I am comfortable being silent with. People trusting my opinion. Doing something productive. Being thanked. Book post. Unwinding. Relaxing. Not thinking about work for a minute. Switching off. Walks along the coast. Being by the sea. The comfort of home. The excitement of travels. Watching my friends together. Listening to conversations. Having a good catch up. Running up to Christmas. Buying Christmas presents. Reading that book you’ve waited months for. Being comfortable around people. Not worrying. Reading. Always reading. 

It’s OK not to be OK

Hello there friends.

How are we all today? I mean, really, how are you today? 

I’ll be honest… I’m OK, but there’s a little bit of struggle about me at the minute. Nothing too bad, just a niggle here and there. Just a worry that won’t go away. A thought that sometimes spirals and then won’t go away. A clump of thoughts about all kinds of things about like that sometimes just get me a little bit down. You might know the thing: there’s a worry and it just grows because you don’t know how to talk about it… nor is it so big that you feel the NEED to talk about it.

Most of the time I can make myself be fine, I can distract my brain enough until it’s not feeling meh anymore. I can read, go for a little walk, go into town, text my friends. Sometimes however, the spiral into a bit of a rut works much faster, or draws itself out in much longer of a rut that it’s harder to shift.

It’s hard to pretend to be OK when in reality you’re not. It’s hard to be a cheery, happy person, when you just don’t feel like that. As I write this, I’m not 100%. I’m alrite, but I’m not chipper to be honest. I’m not normally one to talk about things like this on my blog – I’m much more likely to post a blog review and ignore the reality of whatever is going on in my life. But I want to be transparent with you all (whoever it is that’s reading this, if anyone is in fact reading this) and talk about NOT being OK.

I don’t know the ins and outs of where it all stems from, but I can tell you that, as a teacher, 6 weeks off is a long time. I miss the routine. I miss having set things to do. I do really well in term time. I know what’s going to happen (not day to day because hell that’s a thing that always changes!) and what to expect. In the holidays, I don’t have that. I’m single. I don’t have kids. So those two big “distractions” (I can’t think of a better word for this right now), I don’t have (we’ll not talk about them being one of my other worries at the minute… that’s a bit real). A lot of my friends are still at work during the holidays. My teacher friends all either have their own families, or live really far away.

I know people will say, “You shouldn’t complain about having so much time off”. I’m not complaining about the time off… trust me. We need it by the time it comes round to July. Teachers need to recharge. I love the summer holidays, BUT I’m a lover of routine and that goes out of the window during the holidays. My eating pattern goes out of the window. My sleeping pattern changes. Sleep is one of those things that can massively impact some people’s moods and I’m one of those people: if I’m not sleeping well, I’m more likely to get into one of those negative thought ruts that I then have to pull myself out of.

I don’t think I’m the only person in the whole world who gets like this. I think there’s properly a good handful of teachers who are in the same boat as me. I don’t want to speak for other people. I can only speak for myself and how I feel. I like to be busy. I love my job an awful lot. I’m quite easily one of those people who could be married to my job. I just struggle with 6 weeks off. I get to week 4 and I’m like, “Yeah, OK, I’m rested now, I can go back to work”. This is always an interesting thing to say to people… one that gets pretty much the same reply every time.

I’ve been lucky these holidays in that I’ve been in to school quite a lot doing a lot of moving of books and creating a library, so getting to the end of week 5 (as I write this) and only now getting restless and bored is really good for me. My mam is ALWAYS saying, “She gets cabin fever after week 2” and it’s true.

I’ve not written this as a, “Oh man, everyone give me sympathy” kind of post. I’ve written it because it’s who I am and how I’m feeling right now in this moment. It’s what I’m going through right now and there might be other people who are also feeling this. It’s nice to not feel lonely in your feelings. I’ve also written it because I want to let myself be ok with the fact that sometimes we have to NOT be OK. We’re all allowed to not be OK. Not being OK means we will be OK again.

The past few days, I’ve been a bit sad (not tragically, but just meh). I’ve been listless (I don’t even know if this is a word, but it keeps being a word I want to say). I’ve felt a bit lost. Maybe a bit lonely. I’ve been restless.

So I’m here saying if you are someone out there who like me struggles a bit, I’m always around to talk to. If you’re someone who needs someone to talk to at any point, I’m around. My twitter inbox is open, my emails are always open: I’m happy to talk. Even if you don’t want to talk about the thing that’s making you not OK.

Remember: it’s OK not to be OK. 

S x

 

“Be happy: it drives people crazy”

Things that have made me smile recently

Books. My family. Meeting Baby Joey. Spending time with my friends. Quilliams. Tea. Breakfast. Going for walks just for time to think. Witchy Trio texts. The sunshine. Waking up to a light morning. Spending time by myself. Doing a job I know I want to do for the rest of the time, even when it’s SO BLOODY HARD sometimes. Knowing that it is almost the Summer holidays. Transition day. Meeting my new class. Overhearing people complimenting the work I’ve done this year. Looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. Allowing myself time to breathe. Texts from lovely people. Finishing two books in one day after not being able to read for ages. Lovely notes from people. Vincint. BookBitchez. Thirsty conversations. ALL OF THE GAY. Some exciting book events coming up. The thought of seeing my Welsh love in a few weeks. YALC excitement. Laughing at stupid jokes. Terrell. Dear Evan Hansen. Ed Sheeran. The Matilda soundtrack. SimplyNailogical videos. Watching tennis. Roger Federer. Wimbledon being everywhere. Watching Wimbledon with my kids and them asking 700 questions. Reflecting on the year I’ve had. Looking forward to the future. Reading amazing picture books. Reading books with the kids. Books. Always books. 

Hello, you.

Hello 2019 Steph, it’s me… 2018 Steph.

How are you? What day is it that you’re reading this? What made you come back to this post? Remember you can come back to this post any time you need it. I know you won’t because you’re stubborn and proud and HATE admitting you need help. Don’t worry, we’re going to work on that together. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help, you need a break, you’re sad, you’re not ok… all of that is great because you know what? You’re not a superhuman, you’re not perfect: you’re HUMAN. So stop beating yourself up about the times you’re not perfect and just accept that they’re going to happen. (I wasn’t going to start writing to you in this way, but what will be will be!) Reader: Do you have a cup of tea? Cause I could be here a while, rambling away.

So 2018 was an incredible year, was it not? You graduated, you got hired to teach this amazing bunch of kids, became a teacher, won a blogging award, chaired a few amazing panels, saw your favourite people in the world, ate some incredible breakfasts, discovered some things about yourself that you didn’t know, went through some pretty rough patches and laughed a lot. Remember that thing everyone always says about your laugh? Try to remember it. You KNOW your laugh is amazing, use it as often as you can. Your kids, your friends, your family: they’ll all help you to use it as often as you can. Life’s not all peaches and cream, we both know that, but there’s people around you who can lift you up when you’re not feeling cush.

Let’s really get into this, shall we? We’ll start with the biggest part of your identity at the minute. Miss Elliott. The teacher you. The thing you’ve strived for for SO long and now you have it. Teaching is mint. It’s hard. It’s shitty some days. There’s politics we don’t want to be involved with, but unfortunately that comes with the job. Working hard got you to where you are now, but don’t for ONE minute stop trying to be the very best you can be. It’s what you deserve, it’s what those kids who you properly adore deserve: the best Miss Elliott there is. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably ISN’T. And always remember to follow your heart. It’ll be the best for everyone. It’ll mean you enjoy what you’re doing and that’s good for everyone. Give yourself a bit more credit and stop being so hard on yourself. You’re REALLY good at your job: no one can fault your passion, determination and love for it. You’re going to have bad days, bad lessons, tired days, snappy days… that’s just human nature. Try not to wallow on them. Shake them off and just move on. Remember the WHY you started teaching and those 30 brilliant little people in front of you and you should be OK. But if you’re not… tell someone. You’re surrounded by an incredible bunch of people (in school and online) and they will help – they’ve proven that, time and time again.

So yeah, teaching takes over your life. We both know that. We both know that you don’t do well in the holidays because you feel you lack purpose, routine and structure to your life. And that’s OK. Just don’t let it become the ONLY thing you associate with the holidays. Use them to recharge, relax and DO THINGS. That part of your identity is sorted now, or at least for the time being, so we need to start looking forward to the other bits of your identity that WE BOTH KNOW have been abandoned.

The dating world is a mess. We’ve had a mixed bag so far on the old dating front. Ghosting wasn’t a pleasant experience, so just remember the way you felt before you decide it’s easier to not confront a problem than to confront a problem head on. Yes, yes, we spend our whole time worrying about things which are insignificant. If someone isn’t going to be interested in you because of the way you look then let’s be real, you’re better off without them. Dating does your head in, but try not to let it get to you. You’ll like people who don’t end up liking you back. You’ll like people who aren’t ready to like you back. You’ll be put in situations where you’re just a second choice and we both know that’s not what you want. You’ve been the secret before, you really don’t want that again. Don’t put yourself through less than what you absolutely deserve. Find someone who gives you what you need. Be a bit more selfish  (I know, I know, we’re not good at that, but maybe that’s what we need!) Someone isn’t going to show up and instantly be the perfect person for you… that’s too easy… but being out there and putting yourself out there raises the chances that maybe, just maybe, someone who could be brilliant is out there. (I know you hate the whole dating game, I know. It’s horrible and its unfair and it’s shitty, but persevere and be kind to yourself!)

Remember you have this amazing family. I know you feel like a bit of an outsider at times, but you don’t need to. They’re there to make you feel included. They’re there to love you. Go see the twigs more. Look forward to baby Redshaw being born. Talk to your brother more – he is one of the wisest owls in the world (he does your head in sometimes, but that’s his job).

Keep blogging. It’s good for your soul. Talk about the things you want to talk about. The things that make you happy, the things that make you sad. The things that you find hard to talk about, the things you wanna shout about. You don’t just have to talk about the things other people are talking about. This is your blog. They’re your rules. I know you get bogged down in “oh but that blog is so much more beautiful/well planned/well written” than mine. But that’s cause that’s THAT blog. This is your space to ramble and chat and cry whenever you like. You need to make time to do it because it’s SO BLOODY GOOD for your brain. Keep shouting about the books you love. Make room on this here blog for so much love.

My one wish for you, 2019 Steph, is that you be the very best version of you that you can be. None of this “new year, new me” shit. Just be the best you you can be, not for anyone else, but for YOU. YOU deserve it over everyone else.

Now go and read a book, or text someone you love, or write a letter,

S x

 

When life throws you lemons…

find the things you’re most grateful for. 

My little Christmas tree in my classroom. My kids loving doing the Advent calendar. My kids making me smile EVERY DAY. Laughing at the Christmas play (despite the fact I’ve seen it a fair amount of times). Being able to brush myself off. My cousins. My goddaughters. Books. Hot chocolate. Good news. A free slice of banana bread. Having tea with one of my favourite people. Quilliams. Being a Geordie. My brother and his sheer ridiculousness. Nachos, cake and tea. My family. Watching my best friend be brilliant and brave. Book post. Cats. People of twitter being lovely. Blogging. Finding that one song that you need to make you feel better. Little Mix. Cosy scarves. Hilarious Christmas presents. Looking forward to the future. Leaving work after a tiring day, knowing that I’m doing the thing I want to do forever. Being told I’m doing a good job. Overhearing my kids say how much they love coming to school. Singing the songs for the school play in the classroom. Walking into my classroom every single day. The sun. Reading to my kids. Seeing my class and their excitement when I bring in the book they won’t shut up about. Being proud of my kids. Working with some of the best, most supportive people in the world. Reading that book you’ve been waiting months for. New pillows. Books. Always books. 

Happiness is…

Opening the door to my classroom. Positive feedback. Seeing how much progress my kids have made. Pictures from my kids. Reading books. Fenwicks Christmas Window. Texts that make me smile. Livin on a Prayer. The future. Reading books and knowing EXACTLY who to recommend them to. handing over the perfect book to a child and them just GLOWING with joy. Good morning texts. Listening to the radio in the classroom. Breakfast with my best friends. Chairing a panel with two authors I admire most in the world. My friends being happy for me. The pride you feel for your friends. Watching SimplyNailogical videos. Real pockets in trousers. Laughing with my mam. Seeing my twiglets. Going back to work and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces. The run up to Christmas. Singing stupid songs. Newcastle United winning (finally). Spending time with my favourite Welsh human in the world. My reading rainbow display. Laughing and chatting with my TA. Doing the thing I love doing. Getting back to blogging. Being wrapped up warm with a cup of tea and a book. Books. Always books. My kids. Always my kids.