I was tempted to begin this blog post with an apology for my recent lack of meaningful blog posts, that is those celebrating my vegan cookbook challenge, or talking about more substantial topics (that go a little deeper than chocolate or hair care, though both of those things are important). But then I had a little moment of reflection and decided not to do that. I will explain further and in doing so update you on how life has been lately.
Things have been busy! In mid-April I submitted two assignments for the primatology module of my MA Anthrozoology; one, a poster critiquing a study of orangutans and crop-raiding in Indonesia (thrilling stuff!) and another a longer essay about primate studies and queer, eco-feminist theory. (Should you be interested, the poster can be viewed here, and the essay here.)
The biggest and saddest news is that early in the morning of 8 May, my dear Nana (my Mum’s Mum) died at home after having spent the weekend surrounded by all the family. Her health had been deteriorating for some weeks, and she had been passed from one hospital to another, which made her very unhappy. In some of her last lucid moments, two days before she died, she told me she was so happy to be home. My Nana was greatly comforted by the belief that she would soon be reunited with my Mum, and this comforted us all in turn.
In late April, N (who is a hero beyond measure for supporting me through these tricky times) accompanied me to Exeter to visit the University campus for the first time since I began my studies in September 2014. My academic journey has been tricky; I was diagnosed with CFS/ME in late 2016, though I had been experiencing symptoms for quite a while. In total I took two years out from my studies, and returned in September 2017 only a couple of weeks after my Mum died suddenly. In November of 2017, my stepfather’s 46-year old brother died suddenly. And of course my Nana was critically ill for the past couple of months, so there has been a lot of loss, and also many barriers to overcome. N did entirely the right thing by persuading me to attend the residential weekend for my MA course. It was so good to finally meet my course leaders and tutors, and some of my classmates. There were three days of fantastic talks and presentations (as well as three days of delicious vegan buffet food). It was a little overcast, but the campus was lovely (if hilly).
Somehow, given all the difficulties of the current academic year, and the past few weeks in particular (during which a few weekends were spent visiting my Nana over 100 miles away), I managed to achieve two first class marks for my poster and essay. It’s bittersweet not to have a Mum to report the A+ to, but my friends and family have been very kind. It’s also worth reiterating that without the support of N and my specialist study mentor, I probably would’ve given up months ago. It’s tiring and hard, but it’s worth it.
And what else? We’ve had some lovely sunny weather haven’t we? Well, it’s unusual enough in the north of England that Vulpe and I have spent a few afternoons supine on the grass. Vulpe also particularly enjoys the open-doored bike shed, as she can lie on carpet and still sun herself…
I have also been blundering in a haze of tears and nose-blowing through my weekly therapy sessions, which have been hijacked partially for the consideration of grief, but also many related memories of trauma and difficult times. I am keen to work through these and just allow myself to feel all the feelings, which are often contradictory and quite messy. The resurfacing of someone central to the trauma of my childhood has also been unwelcome, and another part of the process. I am so grateful to have a physical and metaphorical safe space in the home I share with N, and for the support mechanisms that are in place in most areas of my life now.
I have of course been bullet journalling away, and I’ve found that taking some quiet time to scribble flowers and other nonsense is very calming and helpful. I’m also getting into YouTube’s concentration/relaxation playlists and getting some incense on the go.
Oh, heck, I also started a new job, as if all that change wasn’t enough. I am happy to say that I won my dream job via presenting to a scary panel and by persuading them that I was the best person for what is (rather worryingly) a Very Serious and Quite Senior And Important position. I am in my third week and am enjoying it immensely. It is a positive step for sure, though I am having to rather take it all one day at a time given how demanding life has been lately.
This is also all to say that my cookbook challenge has fallen somewhat by the wayside, for which I am sorry, but primarily because I want to fulfill my own brief to cook more wholesome and fresh meals. This has been simply one commitment too many, though, and I’ve had to drop the challenge for the time being. I plan to ease myself back in gently from June of this year and I hope you’ll forgive me and stick with me!
I think that’s all my news for now. O to get back to those carefree blogging days – hopefully soon, friends! Thank you for bearing with me.