October was a strange month, a lot of things that I had planned just went awry, do you ever get those weeks? You spend ages meticulously planning your month – what you’ll do each day of each week and then bang, something happens to put a spanner in the works.
As a Virgo (if you believe in star signs and I do) I am all about organisation and list making, I strive for perfection in everything I do in my life and so I inadvertently pile on the pressure, this in turn causes worry and stress because we all know there is no such thing as perfection. If I don’t plan my days and weeks, I feel lost and then I get a bit miserable. A while back, I suffered from depression and I still do sometimes. Certain things happen in your life that just knocks you off balance and it’s hard to get back on that even keel again. With that in mind and with the help of my very good GP, I attended CBT classes at my local hospital (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) two years ago, it was the best thing I ever did.
I’m not a believer in popping pills because they just mask the problem, instead, the underlying problem has to be addressed and CBT helps you accomplish that through organising your day, not looking back (rumination) which I have always suffered from. I think it runs in my family, looking back is always a killer for the mood, full of “what if’s” and “maybe’s” “if I did this that way” or “what if I had done that instead?” Negativity can change the way you look at everything, it stops you from challenging yourself and enjoying new things. It causes sadness, depression and stress, it can take away your energy and motivation. Therapy helps you learn strategies to deal with these thoughts and patterns. It helps you overcome anxiety and deal with your emotions. You learn mindfulness (to live in the moment) to embrace, feel and sense everything around you, running water, nature, leaves falling and the blossom all possible on your daily walks. Mindfulness teaches you to look forward, that looking back is a form of negative thinking and a wasted emotion as you can’t change things that are in the past, the past is the past, the present is now.
Also, CBT helps you see things in a different light and react to situations in a different way, meditation and exercise is advised and above all, taking time out for yourself once a day even if it’s just half hour to sit down with a cup of tea and a book, “me time” is not selfish, it’s to be embraced, it’s a way of recovering and recuperating a fragile mind.
One might also say for a woman anyway, that hormone’s play a bit part in your mood and I’ve definitely noticed that now that I’m getting older. My mum has always suffered with depression, but I was very fortunate that I didn’t suffer instead, I was very much like my dad, a positive, confident, happy man and that hasn’t changed even though he’s retired now, he’s still that happy-go-lucky man and my husband Andy is very much the same, they’re both Sagittarians – that fun-loving adventurous, ambitious positive star sign, yes I really do believe in star signs. No matter what life threw at him, I hardly ever saw him down whereas mum was always suffering especially in the winter months and the worst thing was, she never talked about it. As a child I remember always blaming myself that somehow I had done something wrong to put my mum in that miserable mood but now that I’m older, I see that mum was a very strong and proud woman who juggled so much working with my dad, the house to look after the garden, the cooking and chores, she was and still is one in a million even though her moods still upset me sometimes, we do try to talk about it though, she’s better at that now. She suffered in silence and I vowed never to do the same and so now, whenever I am feeling down, I try to think back to what I learnt during my six weeks of CBT therapy.
Catching up on my reading or flicking through my food books and magazines always gives me a lot of pleasure and helps me to relax and drift away….
I go for a half hour walk, I sit down to enjoy my cup of tea without feeling guilty, stroking my much adored cat Buddy always puts a smile on my face, if I’m feeling particularly bad, I put on a favourite black and white film (Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, Portrait of Dorian Gray, Bette Davis) this is my ultimate guilty pleasure. I may read for half an hour, maybe pop out for a coffee even if I’m alone, even a quick visit to my local catholic church (the closest to a Greek Orthodox church that you can get) and I light a candle and say a little prayer (Aretha Franklin’s iconic song springs to mind) I feel better.
Strokes from my cat Buddy always makes me feel better.
Putting on my favourite black and white films are a real guilty pleasure for me!
My blog has helped me find something that was missing in my life, discovering a love of writing, writing about food, recipes, researching restaurants and travel and above all exploring everything I can about the city that I love, Paris, it’s helped me so much, it’s given my life purpose after staying home to look after my children and feeling a bit well, redundant and useless.
Researching and writing about my much-adored city Paris always chases the blues away.
So, October didn’t turn out how I planned! it wasn’t the end of the world. We didn’t manage to go to the Savoy for dinner to see Sarah Hawkyard sing; in my September round up I mentioned that Sarah, a singer who regularly performs at the Savoy had become a friend but unfortunately, she had a private gig on last Saturday, so we didn’t think it was worth still going to the Savoy. Instead of feeling down, I approached things in a different way, skills I learnt in CBT, Sarah and I chatted and we’ve arranged to see her at the Savoy in December. How nice that the Savoy will be dressed up beautifully for Christmas, that’s very special in itself and something fabulous to look forward to. So it isn’t all doom and gloom that we missed this special Saturday in October, I’ve also arranged to meet Sarah for coffee on the 14th so I’m really looking forward to that.
The Savoy Hotel at Christmas, delaying our visit to see Sarah until December means we get to see this gorgeous hotel fully decked out for Christmas.
Japanese in Baker Street was a disappointment, the Saturday I took my daughter shopping was when I had planned to have lunch there. What I didn’t know is that they don’t open for lunch on Saturdays!! Not great news however instead of wallowing, we got google search out and found another fabulous little Japanese just right for a quick lunch to satisfy our sushi cravings just five minutes from Baker Street in Paddington street. So now, instead of one no frills quick Japanese, we have two to call upon so not bad news at all, and better still, this little detour meant that I stumbled upon a great Saturday market, Cabbages and Frocks which I’ll visit and write about soon. You can read my post on this Japanese gem here.
The Ivy Soho Brasserie brunch just didn’t happen as I just couldn’t fit it into my diary this month but that’s fine because I will go in a couple of weeks and no doubt, I’ll have lots to say about this great French looking brasserie next month. I did manage to visit St Ermin’s Hotel on Monday for a great, very affordable Afternoon Tea with unlimited prosecco, a honey inspired Tea using honey from their own hives, this blog post will be ready next week. I was also invited for my first ever blogger’s event by the girls at Lioneye Media, Sophia and Rebecca, an evening of cocktail fun at London Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel’s bar, TwoRuba, I was nervous as it was my first such event but it was great fun making new friends and sampling some fabulous cocktails, you can read more here.
Cocktail fun at TwoRuba Bar, London Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel.
Paris was the highlight of my October. It was half-term so I had planned this trip six months ago deciding to take my two teenagers, my son Alex aged 17 and my sushi loving daughter Zoe, aged 15 who regularly features in my posts. They’ve been to Paris before, last December but my son Alex got ill during the last day of that trip, we never managed to go all the way to the very top of the Eiffel Tower – there was unfinished business in Paris as far as they were concerned so they were really looking forward to this trip. It was fabulous, we did everything we wanted to do and yes, we went all the way right to the summit of the Eiffel Tower, it was incredible! I took Alex and Zoe to two amazing bistros for dinner, Polider, one of the oldest in Paris,it featured in Woody Allen’s film “Midnight in Paris” and the other is arguably one of Paris’ finest bistros, Bistro Paul Bert, for the most divine meal ever. Meat eaters, if you love steak, you cannot miss a visit to this authentic Parisian institution, their peppercorn steak is their signature dish. I look forward to sharing posts on Paris soon.
Alex and Zoe getting ready to ascend the Eiffel Tower.
Finally, the biggest disappointment of all and I am so very saddened to share this with you is that the surprise 50th Birthday trip to Barcelona which I had been planning for my husband since January has been postponed. This is due to some exciting business plans my husband has rather unexpectedly in the pipeline. This is an expansion of his current business, when an opportunity like this comes along, you can’t say no and so being away even for three days is a near on impossibility. Although it’s great for him and for all us, I have to admit, it’s created some friction between us but that’s just because my plans have been shattered and as I said in the beginning of this post, I hate it when plans fall apart. Still, we’ll be going sometime in 2018 hopefully in November – a belated birthday treat celebrating 50 & 51! Also, it could be a blessing with the recent sad conflict in Barcelona. Not sure what we’re going to do for his birthday weekend (24th) but this time, I am not planning!!
Having said all of that, November looks brighter, I am definitely hoping to get to the Ivy Soho Brasserie in a couple of weeks, I have a SEO workshop just for the day on Sunday 19th at City Lit and a workshop next week with blogger Julie Falconer of A Lady in London. These two workshops will give me valuable tips for expanding and promoting my blog. I’m attending the WTM (World Travel Market show at the ExCel London next week, not sure if it’s beneficial attending but I’ll soon find out and I’ve also got a bottomless Japanese brunch at Sakagura in Heddon Street taking my daughter Zoe of course, lover all of types of Japanese food! I’ve been invited to review a restaurant, my first ever so really excited about that. Of course, a bit of Christmas shopping fun and lunch with my mum at her favourite store, Fortnum and Mason. At some point on the blog either this month or early December, I’m hoping to feature some of London’s top department stores which are all decorated for Christmas now so you can plan your Christmas shopping around those.
Fortnum and Mason and Harrods at Christmas time.
October wasn’t all bad after all, happy November everyone!
NOTE: If anyone is suffering from depression or anxiety, I urge you to consider CBT, your GP is there to offer good advice, seek help, it’s not a taboo subject anymore. I’m delighted to see the Royals talking about mental health and sharing their own experiences. It took a lot of courage for me to expose myself and share my problems with you so I really hope I’ve reached out and if it helps any of you take that brave step to seek help, I’ll be happy.