Saturday, 19 August 2017

Summer Reading: All the Bright Places review

One of my absolute favourite parts of summertime is spending copious amounts of time reading; and I mean everything, books, magazines, journals, blogs and articals. Absolutely anything. Despite rationally knowing its good to take a break from studying, I find it so hard during the term time to sit down and focus on reading for pleasure. There's always a tiny little part of me that thinks I should be doing something more 'productive' - whatever that is!

Anyway, I tend to resolve to read more during the summer (as you'll know if you've been with me for a while) but I had exams to sit last summer due to illness during the official examination period. This year, however, I have been delivered the prospect of a fabulous almost care-free summer with plenty of free time and endeavor to spend a lot more time reading so I'm keen to share the highs and the lows of it with you.

The first of my big summer reads was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and, having seen a handful of reviews, I had great expectations built up about this book. The novel tells the story of two contrasting characters Violet and Finch, who meet unexpectedly meet on top of their school bell tower with both characters contemplating suicide. We travel with these characters on a journey involving several small road trips as well as their own individual more abstract journeys: Violet and her journey through grief, and Finch's journey through mental illness.

All The Bright Places is gripping from the get-go and I was unable to put the novel down from start to end. I was constantly curious to know what would happen next and shell-shocked to find myself shed a few tears (quite a sight on a sunbed I believe) in the final chapters.

I found that the novel portrayed some important and thought-provoking messages including the idea that you can love someone unconditionally, but you still can't always save them. It also addressed the issue of mental health in a way that is (in my experience) understandable and realistic.

On top of this, I read All the Bright Places whilst on a family holiday and immediately after finishing it, I recommended it to my younger sister who really doesn't enjoy reading. She managed to get through the book in a record-breaking 6 hour time period and was absolutely hooked, then decided she really enjoys reading after all. So thank you Jennifer Niven.

I'll be back soon with some more reviews and some general chat, but in the meantime, keep smiling :)

Kathryn x

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A whole load of possibilities

It's me. I'm back again, but you're forgiven if you've forgotten who I am or what I'm doing here. I've been gone a while but aim to be back here fairly regularly from here on in. In the meantime, I fancied talking a little bit about my exciting summer ahead.

Asides from the usual excessive amounts of time spent in work (at my local leisure centre as a lifeguard, gym instructor, receptionist and swimming teacher), I'm super excitied for my holiday soon and the summer residential camps I'm working on soon afterwards. But most of all I'm excited for the possibilities, the surprises, the spontaneous 30mile cycles alongside local canals and lazy days in the garden. What are you looking forward to most this summer?

Keep smiling,

Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Anxiety: A Bunch of Contradictions

My anxiety is a bunch of contradictions,
A game of chess against my own mind,
With dynamic rules that fluctuate unpredictably.

I love to learn,
But the thought of sitting in a lecture hall makes me feel physically sick,

I know that I am qualified and capable of doing the best I can in my work,
Yet fear of failure and letting the people who rely on me down

I know that a short run can give my mind the space it needs to process its worries,
But then sometimes my anxiety keeps me from running on my own,

I know that tiredness will result in heightened anxiety in the morning,
Yet here I am at 3am worrying about everything,

Whether the supermarket will be too crowded tomorrow,
Or the seminar class will be too loud,
Whether my friends think I'm flakey for cancelling last minute,
Or I'll feel too ill tomorrow for breakfast, lunch or dinner,
And eventually worrying about how anxious I'll feel in the morning,
What I'll miss out on through fear,
Whether or not I'm going crazy,
Because worrying about worrying,
Is an irrational fear of fear.

I can calm friends down in a matter of minutes,
But can take days to talk myself out of circling thoughts of fear,

I'm calm in the event of an external criss,
But can internalise it and be overthinking it three weeks later,

I love to help other people with anything that I can,
But struggle to let even my closest friends help me with my worries,

I'm a people person who's happy and bubbly,
Yet can come across as shy and silent,
Largely unknown that it's just a way of controlling my panicked thoughts,

Trying to access help is a web of complications in itself...

Appearing to function well in day-to-day life creates a paradox
A carefully painted mask and delicately prepared avoidance,
Designed to keep up the pretence that theres no problem,

Emailing therapists to enquire about treatment (that I may or may not be too scared to see through) results in replies asking you to give them a call, but my fear of making telephone calls is yet another of the flaws of my anxiety

I want to talk about my struggles,
Keeping them locked inside only increases their power over me,
But every time I try my mouth locks shut or I choke on my own thoughts

And to a friend....

I love that if we eat out you always ask if I want you to order for me,
That you know me inside out and don't think any less of me for it,
But I hate that I cant always do it for myself,
I hate that fear traps me in a cage,
Preventing me from things perceived by others as normal

You don't realise how much I appreciate your ability to foresee my panic and take me out of the situation before it becomes an anxiety attack,
I hate that my fight-or-flight mechanism is always working overtime and makes this necessary,
But sometimes knowing you will do that if needed is the only thing pushing me out of my comfort zone.

My anxiety is a bunch of contradictions,
But with help, I'm learning to make sense of them

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


A week into the New Year and here I am thinking about New Years Resolutions. I don’t honestly make a huge fuss over them in general, because I try to make little resolutions very often. Every day I resolve to learn from the previous, to avoid making the same mistake again, to continue doing the things I’ve done right and try harder to make other people happy. But New Year is a good time to think about bigger resolutions so here are mine…

Read more
I love reading but never really do enough of it, I just make too many excuses and need to stop that. So if you have any recommendations, please comment down below

Slow down
I love my busy lifestyle, I really do, but I know that there’s not too much spare time in my days. So why I say yes to jobs that I know will be time consuming and I don’t have time for, I’ll never fully understand. I do get that I’m a huge fan of being busy and making others happy but it would definitely be good for me to slow down, think about the tasks, plan time for them and hopefully I’ll be a bit more relaxed

Work harder
On my degree. At work. At everything and anything. Everything I do, I do because I enjoy and also because I know I can succeed, but it would be brilliant to graduate with a first and I know that I can do it if I remember how much work I need to put into it

Run frequently
This is in part linked with my final resolution. When I’m feeling particularly anxious, I’ll avoid running unless I’ve made a previous commitment to other people to run with them, despite the fact that running would help. Logic, huh? But I’ve recognised that and so would like to change it. I also aim to run my second half marathon this year, and potentially my first marathon (marathon!?! What!). Not only that, I’m super excited to start guide-running for a man with visual impairment! 

Blog more and take more pictures
Very similar to reading, I love to do it and having my own corner of the internet to express myself is amazing but I forget how much I love it when I don’t write anything for a while. I don’t get to be particularly creative within my degree so it’d be nice to spend a little bit of time each week on my creative hobbies

Less anxiety
I can’t say ‘no anxiety’ here because that would be far too big an expectation for myself. If I did that, then it’d end up manifesting in some other way and wouldn’t be as productive.
My aim for this year is to recognise my anxiety better. To avoid less of the things I enjoy just because I’m too worried to do them on that particular day, and talk about my feelings properly when I need to. Mostly just to have a ‘mentally healthier’ year than 2016 was

What are your resolutions for 2017?

Keep smiling,
Kathryn x

Saturday, 31 December 2016


It's been a crazy one, hasn't it? I'm not going to say I've had a brilliant year, but I'm not going to say that I've had a terrible one either. Let's face it, it's had more ups and downs than the Grand Old Duke Of York, but you can learn just as much from the ditch at the bottom as you can standing at the top of mountains. And sometimes a little bit more. So here's a little bit of a reflection on the things I've learned this year....

This year I made a decision. I made the decision to take my previous twelve months, and re-write it. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make as it meant choosing to do something that had the potential to make me very happy but also to disappoint a lot of the best people in my life. It turned out to be the right thing but it was a scary time for me.

I also got quite ill. Maybe more than once. And I'm not going to lie about it, every moment of it sucked. The first time I was so ill that I couldn't sit my exams, I was barely able to leave the house, I didn't feel like myself and I spent a long time coming to terms with what was actually wrong. The second time I caught some unknown virus that left my immune system very weak and my body exhausted unable to do much more exercise than walk to lectures each day (and sometimes less). But this taught me to be patient with myself. It taught me that if you let people know what's going on, they're usually happy to find a way to help out. That's something I still have a hard time remembering.

This year I ran my first half marathon. I was so proud of myself for completing it,and enjoyed every minute of it. The Great North Run inspired me to carry on, to sign up for bigger challenges, and help others enjoy the sport as much as I do by volunteering with running local running groups, wherever I happen to be in the country. It taught me that self-belief can be as influential as training for big events. It helped me realise that I can do just about anything I set my mind on and that sometimes the biggest obstacles aren't really obstacles at all.

And then I sprained my ankle. Twice. I was annoyed and frustrated to end up in a hospital with a doctor telling me I wouldn't be able to do sport for 4-8 weeks but I'm stubborn I guess. I struggled to rest, but I learnt to respect my body a lot more than I had been doing and that sped up my recovery. In a backward sort of way, it was potentially one of the best things that could have happened to me because when I was able to race again I managed to PB my 5k time on three consecutive weeks.

Disney. I went to Walt Disney World for the first time at the age of 19 and oh my god it was the best place that I have ever been to. I guess it was just magical and taught me to never grow up,  and that  all of your wishes and dreams can come true if only you believe in them hard enough.

And here I am, after another long gap between posts (but lets forget about that for a little while), ready to rock in 2017 and make it the best year yet. Another year full of scary mistakes, and scary decisions, because if we didn't have those, we wouldn't learn. And if we didn't learn, we wouldn't be moving forwards.

Keep smiling,
Kathryn x

Thursday, 27 October 2016

What's going on?

Golly I've not been here for a while - and I've definitely missed it! I'm not going to make too many excuses about my absence, I've just been busy in various forms. So here's a quick update for you...

I've moved back to university in my favourite part of the country (though I'm sure a lot of people say that about their university city). I'm back in Durham and I didn't realise until I moved back just how much I missed the picturesque views, the friendly atmosphere as well as the freedom to be my own person!

Following on from that, I've changed course so technically I'm in my first year again. I'm sure I'll talk more about this in the future when life's a little more certain but in short, I passed the first year of my maths degree but realised I only enjoyed around half of the course and didn't like the look of progression routes. Therefore, I transferred to Natural Sciences, a degree in which I have a lot more flexibility and choice to study particular areas that interest me in more detail (including areas of maths, computer science and even a cheeky little bit of sport!)

Asides from studying I've taken on a few new roles in college which I can't really talk about in too much detail yet, but they're going well and although they're taking up a lot of my time it's super duper amazing to see the effect my roles have on other people. I'm also still doing lots of sport, despite a recent injury, so have been coxing men's boats at local head races (i.e doing rowing stuff and shouting/steering) and will be swimming in a competition at Sheffield in the next few weeks.

I think that's all for now and I can assure you I'll be posting a lot more regularly over the next few months. In the mean time, I'd love to hear what you're all up to so comment down below or leave a link to your blog

Keep smiling,
Kathryn xox

Monday, 15 August 2016


I'm on a train. Story of my life. I used to really really hate train journeys but I guess I've warmed to them a little. 

I enjoy people-watching at the platform cafes, and feeling as though you're being productive enough to rest for a few hours because you know that you're heading in the right direction. And that's enough for now, right? 

For journeys I take regularly, I like the part of the journey that I can guarantee I will have signal for because it gives me time to call a friend that I've not spoken to for a while. And as for the rest of the free time, being creative, being creative is always lots of good fun. I read and I write and I draw. And sometimes, just sometimes I'll do a little bit of work. But only ever enough to cross a couple of items off that day’s to-do list before reverting back to sleep or creativity. 

But the best sort of train journey is a train journey to the unknown. A train journey to a place that you've never been before or to start a new adventure. Because travelling has given to the ability to open new doors and the possibilities are endless.

Keep smiling, 
Kathryn x