Over the past month, what have your actions been silently saying about your priorities?
Well we are in lockdown so the past month I have had a lot of my actions enforced upon me by the law!
But, I guess my actions have shown I do have new priorities indeed…
I’m just going to list some of the changes/new priorities here ‘cos I am a scientist and ADHD and deal better with listing things haha, also it’s really bloody hot today and I am having trouble putting my thoughts in order:
I’ve realised for me EXERCISE of some kind every day is very important for my mind and body. I have to do it to stay sane and happy. Even if it is just 2km on the rower or 4 laps of the field next to my parents house. I’m trying to just go running without being super dedicated to a certain distance. I’ve found when I am just running for the love of running and being grateful for what my body can do I actually go further and faster than when I put the pressure of distance on myself. I also get less injures.
READING. Omg so chill time with a book and noise cancelling headphones has been so important. It’s amazing to escape and it forces me to not look at my phone so much which is always a good thing. I now recognise I need to make time to read everyday, even if its an audiobook (which is possibly cheating). It’s so healing and reading really does take you to new places and allow you to live different lives…and travel…omg I miss travelling :./!
SHOPPING. I’ve realised all the things I actually need (toiletries, books, stationary -not food lol) I can buy online and I can buy them from local/small businesses. I don’t need to go to big shopping centers; where I will undoubtedly get stressed and anxious about all the people and overwhelmed by all the items and end up wasting my money on shit I don’t need. AND you can put adblockers on your browser so that’s amazing if you are like me and easily led by ads…and we don’t yet have the technology to block me from seeing end of aisle offers; it’s all too much.
LEARNING a language…I’m still really enjoying taking time each day to do my Spanish learning, even if it’s just a quick Duolingo lesson on my phone. This is something totally different to my work so hopefully it keeps my brain going and expands my mind. Also, it’s nice for me to think that when we can actually travel I can go to a Spanish speaking country and talk to the locals innit. Hola!
I’ve prioritised time OUTSIDE on my own in the NATURE too; I guess lockdown has made me realise how important this is…
I’ll finish this post with this quote I just stole from one of James Smith‘s daily emails…(I thoroughly recommend you subscribe to them!)
Anyway his email today was about being happy and not striving for a life that doesn’t actually make you happy just because you think that’s what you should be doing; and I really needed to hear that today.
Realize that sleeping on a futon when you’re 30 is not the worst thing. You know what’s worse, sleeping in a king bed next to a wife you’re not really in love with but for some reason you married, and you got a couple kids, and you got a job you hate. You’ll be laying there fantasizing about sleeping on a futon. There’s no risk when you go after a dream. There’s a tremendous amount to risk to playing it safe.
And, what’s something you love today that you never even knew you needed in your life?
This is another morning journalling attempt.
It’s a Saturday, week who knows of Lockdown. Here in Wales we still aren’t supposed to go more than 5 miles from your home.
I’ve had to force myself to have a rest day because I keep getting calf injuries from too much HIIT workouts (specifically squat jumps and burpees) and then trying to compete with people who run faster than me on Strava.
I think with my ADHD (undiagnosed) I always want to be on the go and doing stuff. Even writing this blog post right now is a compromise…I was supposed to be just sat here having an analogue day. No screens at all…(kindle doesn’t count!) but here I am anyway…
I just finished reading Superior by Angela Saini (I have first edition signed copy from where she did a book launch as part of the ‘Why not a Doc’ podcast at the RI) and then I started reading Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo on my Kindle (reading it in a book club, with one other friend lol).
So here I am; perhaps these great writers have inspired me. I want to be like them; to write.
And at least if I’m here on the sofa on the laptop, as opposed to in the dinning room, which is the designated work space, then it’s ok.
I’m trying to think of things I’ve let go of…to adhere to the rules and point of the journal prompt heading for this blog post.
The truth is I have trouble letting go, in general. Haha.
My ex who broke my heart; I’ve mostly let that go, but probably not fully if I am honest with myself. I have let go of the anger though; I think I forgive him and I know I am better off. So, I guess in a sense I have let go of the life I thought I would have with him. It still bloody hurts some times, but I think that’s just the betrayal and the shock and fact I was so wrong about him. It hurts a lot less and I think about it in a much more fleeting and less consumed way than I used to, even compared to like 6 months ago. So that’s very positive.
I guess I have fully grieved for that life and I do genuinely feel excited about what this ‘new life’ has to hold.
So that’s the first part of the journal prompt done!
The something I love that I didn’t expect to love has to be my parents dogs!
Bili, Milo and Stella.
I wasn’t brought up with pets because of my asthma and my parents (especially my Mam) for most of my life has actively disliked dogs and their owners sometimes lol.
But then it all changed when she started to look after my sister in law’s dog. She used to cry when he would go back home. She did a full 180 on dogs…and now my parents have 3!
Bili was the first; he’s a Cavachon. I truly love him (and he is my favourite) …I didn’t realise I could love a dog so much, but I do.
When I had that bad break up which happened just before Christmas. When I came home to my parents he started sleeping in my bed instead of in with them. And he even slept next to me in the bed with head on the pillow like a little human. He cwtched into me as I cried. It was like he knew how much I needed him…
Now I consider him to be one of my bestest friends. As cheesy as that is.
Dogs. They give you unconditional love. And it’s impossible not to love how they react when you come through the door. Their excitement at seeing you.
How they force you to relax by snuggling up beside you and going to sleep on the sofa.
How they roll over in front of your when you are walking about the house and want a belly rub.
How they put their ball on the floor in front of you and look up with those loving eyes. And you have to throw the ball.
They have truly thawed my icy heart lol.
I really love them and they have made this whole lockdown thing berable.
These dogs have honestly been better than therapy for me.
I just wish I could take them back to England with me. But then I could not give them such an amazing life…
Ok, I found another journal prompt website on marcandangel.com and the first one is the title of this post.
It’s about forgiveness. It’s a bit deep and scary this subject, but I guess that is the whole point of this, the act of the journaling; to stir up your thoughts, bring them to the forefront of your mind, make you see them and embrace them.
It forces you to think about the impact these deep, inner thoughts might be having on your wellbeing and your actions going forward.
I think the only thing that comes to mind for me personally is that I need to forgive myself for being so in love with someone, and still not being ‘over it’.
It’s taken me three years to get over the betrayal, and I am still not ‘over it’ and still that feels like too long to just be sad.
I am just so annoyed at myself, I am annoyed that it still feels like the volume has been turned down now, on my whole life.
Why has it taken me longer to ‘get over it’ than the time we was actually together as a couple? That’s mad.
And I do beat myself up about it, and I shouldn’t!
I should forgive myself for loving him so deeply. And forgive him for leaving.
For replacing me.
I think I shouldn’t still think of him; almost everyday, but I do.
I have to accept I may never be over it…I guess I just have to embrace all that I’ve learned from having my heart broken; from trusting someone so completely and then having that destroyed.
Because in the end it changed me into the person I am today. Maybe the problem is I don’t know if I like this person?
I think I miss that other ‘Sadie’.
The Sadie from before. She wasn’t so cynical and jaded. She trusted in people.
She loved with an open heart and so completely.
She was all in.
I don’t think I’ll be all in again. But I have to forgive myself for that.
Well my grand declaration to write everyday that didn’t really happen did it ?!
I can’t even blame the Coronovirus because I was already ‘working from home’ when I made this declaration to write everyday…
I guess I was wanting to be productive, to do something useful in the extra time at home in front of the screen; those 30minutes I would have spent commuting I could now spend them on writing.
Writing is my dream after all.
I guess it didn’t happen because actually I am still grieving.
Grieving for all the work events that wont happen, all the interactions with the public and school children I won’t get to have. The trip to Munich with the roller derby girls, the Tenerife field trip, training with the Triathlon club at the Quays, the Southampton 10k…I am grieving still for all these things that aren’t going to happen…
Sure, I have recently finished three books just these last two days, and my XP on Duolingo has doubled. So that is positive.
I actually feel like I am doing more ‘admin’ and data crunching at home and I am definitely having more meetings…but this is weird. And I actually really dislike admin and meetings. I crave social contact in my job and in life generally lol… It is not ok and I am not going to pretend it is.
So yeah, I guess the point of this post is that I am not going to beat myself up for not writing every day. And I am just going to do my best to make the most of this situation, it is a big change, for everyone.
So yes, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to DO STUFF while in lockdown.
I was debating whether to post this ‘poem’? But it might help someone, and I did say I would do a daily post so here goes.
When my brain is full, usually when I am in bed at night, before sleeping… I really want to go to sleep of course, but I can’t, because my thoughts are moving so fast and they fly off in tangents and it all gets a bit much and it usually makes me feel a bit panicked. Call it anxiety, call it anything you like but I have absolutely no hope of falling asleep.
So I have found that a good thing for me to do is just ‘brain dump’ these thoughts either into the Notes app on my phone or write them in the notebook. I don’t really think what I am writing too much; I just get them out onto the page.
So yes, this post is basically just one of the Notes from my phone which I wrote about Love; when my brain was panicking about moving on. I am sure other people must experience this fear that they may never find love again…?
I feel some comfort in that I have experienced Love in my life. That mad, intense, aching love. So maybe I should be happy with this, and I think this ‘poem’ is me trying to make peace with that.
If you find the pain in this post disturbing I’m sorry, but hopefully it will ring true for someone and let them feel less alone in their fearful thoughts.
Please don’t worry about my mental state too after you read this, it is quite raw I know. But weirdly when I do these ‘brain dumps’ as I call them, and even when I read them back and I’m like ‘bloody hell, that’s some dark sh**, I sound like I am on the edge of a breakdown’…but often, I am not, I don’t feel as dramatic and hopeless and the post actually sounds. jJust the act of writing it all down, and not thinking about how depressing it sounds. The ‘getting it out’. I instantly feel better, and those thoughts don’t trouble me anymore.
And then I can sleep.
How do I love?
How will I ever know someone like I thought I knew you?
I just can’t be bothered to try.
I have hope it might happen again, I have to, but at the same time I’m so close to giving up. I’m ok with accepting I have been in love and been loved. I experienced it. It’s more than a lot of people get in a lifetime.
This is just that parallel Universe where I’m alone.
Maybe in the other one I’ve actually been sectioned because of being with you did that. You would have made me more crazy than I am now… This is the better outcome. It has to be.
How do I be? How do I love? Again.
Being, is just so tiring. What’s the point?
Well at least I felt something, I really did feel it and now maybe, it’s like I’ve had my time, so I just have to find a way to exist. But how?
How do I stay hopeful that I will feel that love again? And to be honest do I really want to. That sh** really hurt.
But if I never feel it again, then really…what is the point?
I’m really worried it wasn’t real for you and you are just a crazy who manipulated me and said whatever you needed to say to make me love you? Your actions never really were the evidence, it was always your words I relied on. You told me you loved me multiple times each day. But did you?
They are just words.
If that wasn’t real then what is?
You’ve been with her longer than you was with me now, anyway. So I really should be over it. Really.
Why am I still so sad?
Mainly I just feel numb. Tired.
Isn’t time supposed to heal this?
Hurry up and heal.
Why does healing the damage take more time than the damage took to do?
I don’t know what I want.
I need someone to tell me what to do.
I just know what I don’t want.
I don’t want you.
I don’t want him either.
I don’t want to go through that ache again.
But where does this all leave me? Now I’m just writing into my notes on my phone so I don’t write to you. Cos you are with her. You moved on.
I can’t seem too.
This pain for all the love I had for you that now has nowhere to go.
You still exist. You are still alive and it’s so weird I don’t know who you are now. Are you the same, or totally different? What makes your soul alive now? Do you love her?
How do you experience love without the pain.
And if you don’t feel pain when it’s over does that mean it wasn’t actually love?
I seriously don’t think I could take that pain again.
At 11pm last night I picked up my phone after my good friend left my flat. We have just spent a day just like it was the 90s; it was great.
She came and ‘called for me’ and we went on a bike ride in the forest, then we sat on the sofa watching TV and drinking tea. Then we ate dinner on our laps and watched more TV while constantly talking over it and having to rewind it constantly and then we sat on the floor and played Labyrinth (a board game from the 90s).
And suddenly it was 11pm, and it was time for her to go home.
And I realised when she left that the whole time I didn’t feel the need to post on Instagram. I did take a photo of us at the half way point of the bike ride and I sent it to my Mam, but that’s just so she knew I was outside getting some ‘fresh air’ because of the Covid-19.
It was such a good day. Maybe quite a ‘simple’ day. If you read that first paragraph again It doesn’t seem that special; not really. But I think when you are genuinely ‘having fun’ and totally living in the moment you don’t actually want to waste time posting about it…
I feel so lucky that I was a teenager in the 90s before social media to be honest.
Being a teenager really sucks as it is, and to be honest I was anxious and moody enough without having to worry about social media…the ‘World Wide Web’ and MTV only really started to get popular when I was 17, so I got to experience the excitement of it all, like making your MySpace profile look ‘so cool’ by learning a bit of html, but mainly this was all for my own benefit. I can’t ever remember obsessing about other people looking at my MySpace and what they might think of my teenage life, or the pink anime gif and stars I had chosen for my page.
For us, back then, before the Internet, it was relatively easy to live in the moment, and to have genuine shared experiences with another person. I think it was maybe easier to know them, not just the best bits of them they want to present to the world.
It was simpler times in my opnion, and don’t get me wrong when I got my dial up modem working I can remember totally losing my mind with the fact I was having an instantaneous conversation with someone in the United States, in real time! on MSN messenger…I literally spent hours waiting for him to pop up online, he wasn’t even that interesting, or at least the only thing interesting I can remember about him was that he lived in Chicago, and I was in Wales, and we was able to chat and then stuff I would say to him, he would see it straight away, imagine it, an instant penpal! OMFG!
Soon, I was on the PC in the dinning room long after my Mam had gone to bed, when she no longer needed the phone…I would be up till gone 2am most night writing pages on my yahoo! Geocities website like everyone else; well maybe not like everyone else, because I was so dedicated to writing pages and pages of ‘inspirational quotes’ on my website that I ended up getting sty’s on my eye where I didn’t blink enough in front of the screen.
Don’t get me wrong the internet is cool AF.
But yeah, make sure you take notice of those days. Those days where you genuinely had so much fun, just hanging out with another person and you didn’t actually have ‘time’ to post on social media. The truth, I think you will find, is that you did actually have the time to post, you just didn’t want to because …you was just having too much fun chatting and being alive, you were just being in that moment and time just flew away, but in a good way.
You weren’t bothered about making anyone else jealous, or showing off about what a good time you was having, because you was just genuinely having a good time.
(I am aware that writing this blog post about this amazing day might be construed as me needing to post, or show off about how awesome it was, and kinda totally contradicting the whole message; but ye…I don’t care. )
So I recently finished reading James Smith’s book – ‘Not a diet book’; I say ‘reading’, I actually listened to it in my car in audio book form. But as far as I am concerned that is still reading ok!
I consumed this book very quickly, mainly I listened to it while going at 50 mph on the drive back and for to roller derby training in Portsmouth ( the M27 is becoming a smart motorway so this journey now takes one hour instead of 35 minutes). I took so many things away from this book, specifically the ‘calorie f***ing deficit’ mantra, but another thing that really stuck with me is the importance of having a daily goal, something that you do every day.
You don’t have to do ‘the thing’ particularly well, but the important thing is you do it, and do it repeatedly!
In the book James talks about sending his, now famous, daily emails; in the beginning perhaps no-one was reading them and in the beginning they probably weren’t any good. But obviously by doing this every day alongside his other media posts, something has clicked, because he now has a really big following and people do actually read those emails; well I know I do.
I really enjoyed writing a daily blog about our adventures while I was on the Aurora Quest research expedition this January. I’ve always had the dream of being a writer, and ideally I would write a book, but at the moment I feel like I have too many ideas and I don’t know what that book would be on. So, it feels most natural right now to just to write about my daily thoughts and life (also I have some extra time right now because Covid-19 has meant all my work events/trips have been cancelled).
I have always felt it was in my soul to write, it is part of who I am and it’s possibly why I have so many beautiful notebooks scattered about my house and hidden in the bottom of rucksacks, all waiting to be filled up with my crazy thoughts on all the things.
I found writing something every day during the expedition was actually very good for me mentally, it really focused my thoughts from that day. Now my thoughts were out of my brain and on the ‘page’ they gave me a feeling of clarity and my brain felt less crowded.
So… with all this being said I have decided to take James’ advice and make a daily goal.
For me, the goal is to write something here, everyday, it won’t always be long, it won’t always be sensical or informative, but I WILL do it!
Ever since I had my first taste of being a ‘science performer’ at Bright Club last month I have caught the bug for performance art. I have really started to believe that I can actually be entertaining; I can be more than just someone who gives talks about their astrophysics research. This is a new and exciting concept to me. Even though I have been in the science communication game since 2006, I have never really thought of myself as an entertainer. But now I believe. I can’t wait to show off my Welsh accent to the world.
I have secretly dreamed of being a Blue Peter presenter since I was a kid, Helen Skelton is my idol, mainly ‘cos she is kickass and does crazy challenges, but, yes, up until now this presenter dream has been kept secret. But, now I feel an awakening, and as a result I have already signed up to try my stand up set again at the Science Standoff in July.
My potential talent for entertainment has not gone unnoticed, and since my ‘success?’ at Bright Club and my ‘energetic and enthusiastic attitude’ I was asked to be the announcer at the last game that my roller derby team played in June. Also, on the day following that game I actually ended up being interviewed on TV! I had just roller skated 30 miles around Goodwood Motor Circuit to fundraise for my team and I was very sweaty and tired, but still, I managed to say something coherent that got me on BBC South Today.
Skills I bring:
Over 56,000 people have been reached by astronomy outreach and public engagement events that I have managed. Most of these events have involved the incredibly popular Soton Astrodome Mobile Planetarium. In 2013 I was successfully awarded funds from the Education Enhancement Fund to purchase a second larger dome and at every subsequent Stargazing Live! event we have ran both astrodomes to meet the high demand for our shows.
I have worked with several external partners over the years to offer free astronomy planetarium events to public audiences. The sheer popularity of these events and the fact that they are staffed by such an experienced and enthusiastic team means we are frequently asked to return. I have managed events on several occasions at Southampton City Art Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, Sea City Museum, Winchester University, Bournemouth University, Portsmouth University, The National Big Bang Fair, Big Bang South, CARFest, BBC’s Regional Stargazing Live! Event and Paulton’s Park & Peppa Pig World and I still have contacts at all of these places for the future.
I have fully managed seven SEPnet public engagement astronomy stands at Cheltenham Science Festival, Bestival and Glastonbury Music Festivals where myself, and my team have collectively engaged over 19,000 people with astronomy research. All these events have been in full collaboration with the UoS ‘Bring Research to Life’ Roadshow, which is run by the Public Engagement with Research Unit (PERu). PERu drafted me in to manage a zone at our annual Science and Engineering Day in March. I still work closely with them and will work with them again at the Human Worlds Festival this November. In Spring 2016, I ran a hugely successful ‘AstroAirport’ public engagement event at Southampton Airport. I was awarded £7.3k from the STFC to engage a new audience with Supernova research. My team and I spoke about the research with over 4,500 airport passengers across four days.
I have a catalogue of three talks that I offer to schools, colleges, and the public. The first two talks are based on my PhD research, called ‘A mysterious Supermassive Black Hole’ and ‘Radio Astronomy’ and the third is called ‘Aliens in the Universe’. I have presented these talks more than 70 times to a wide variety of audiences, these include local astronomy societies, A-level colleges, the Women’s Institute, and Winchester Science and Discovery Centre. In July I will be presenting my black hole talk at Winchester Science Festival.
Each year I run an Astrodome Training Day, which is attended by more than 15 PhD and Undergraduate students. I pride myself on my ability to create a good team atmosphere, and hold regular team meetings, and award events for #OurGreatestTeam (yes, we stole the hashtag from the 2012 Olympics). I am very passionate about promoting the fact that working in a strong outreach team not only improves presentation and social skills, but also improves the mental wellbeing of the students who do the outreach. My experiences tackling the mental health challenges I encountered during my PhD are the basis for my Bright Club set. I got through my #PhdWoes by doing outreach, and it is very close to my heart to encourage others to do the same; to use public speaking and humour to help them science!
As part of my desire to work with disadvantaged groups, last year, I volunteered to work with The Princes Trust & Techniquest Discovery Centre. Together we came up with a program of work to engage disadvantaged young people who are part of the ‘Fairbridge residential program’. I ran a training day for the Fairbridge centre staff and provided them with learning resources.
Skills I want to develop:
I would really like to develop my comedy writing and comedy timing. I want to become better at camera work too, I am ok when talking to an actual person but as soon as there is a camera something happens to me which is not good. I would also like to work on not playing with my hair and reducing the number of times I say ‘Um’. Also, several people have told me that I need to be ‘introduced to the full stop’. So I would like to know when to just pause and how to speak slower. I just want to be a really awesome entertainer, and I have suddenly got such a thirst for learning about performance art. I know I have a lot to learn, but I also have a lot to offer. AND, I feel very enthused about this journey…It feels just like the time I first saw Sister Act, and then I instantly wanted to become a Nun, you know ‘cos of Whoppi Goldberg, and all the singing!
I really love my job, and we do so much exciting astronomy research here that I never run out of things to discuss with people. I organise events like our Stargazing Live! Evening events on campus and our #AstroAirport event in the departure lounge of a local airport and I also manage our school visits with the ‘Soton Astrodome’ mobile planetarium. I started a PhD and then got a job in outreach and public engagement. My PhD research was on Radio and X-ray Astronomy and specifically focused on the supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy called NGC 4051.
Why is it interesting?
NGC 4051 is a really interesting galaxy, it is very ‘active’ which means it is very bright when viewed through X-ray telescopes and it varies a lot. Based on it’s galaxy type you would not expect to see jet emission from near the supermassive black hole. However, when we used a radio telescope called the Very Large Array (VLA) we could in fact see evidence of a jet. So, a large part of my PhD thesis involved analysing data from this galaxy, and that of similar smaller mass black holes in an effort to understand why we saw jet emission where we did not expect to.
What got you into (your science)?
As a teenager I can remember wanting to be many things, my job aspirations changed on a monthly basis. I am not one of these people who has always dreamed of being an astronomer, I did not actually look through a telescope till I started my PhD here, in my early 20s. I have always found space really cool, of course, but along with dreams of being an astronaut or a pilot I also had played with the idea of becoming a Nun (like in Sister Act, with all the singing and Whoopi Goldberg as my best friend), a hair dresser, a graphic designer, an interior designer, a fashion designer and a web designer. I chose my A-levels Physics, Maths, Computing and Art with the idea of becoming one of the later, more creative careers. However, my Physics and Maths teachers were amazing and they made me realise how cool science was. I realised there were actually so many jobs related to Physics that I could do, and given I wasn’t that great at art a Physics degree seemed a better choice for me. I didn’t realise as a teenager that with a Physics degree you can actually aspire to be much more than a teacher or a scientist. Now, I realise that I did kind of become a mixture of both of those job personally, but I am very happy about this, and don’t regret this for a second! However, many of my friends who did Physics degrees with me have gone on to work in a variety of careers e.g. Engineering, Finance, Big Data, Medical Physics etc.
And finally, a fun fact about you…
I have recently taken up roller derby and after passing my minimum skills test in March 2017 I am now a member of the B Team with the Portsmouth Roller Wenches. It’s such a fun sport, you get to roller skate, meet amazing friends and get your aggression out in a constructive and competitive way. It’s one of the only sports where there are more women competing than men and I’m absolutely loving meeting all these strong, ambitious women and seeing them compete in this very physical sport, also being in a female dominated environment is not something I am used to working in a Physics department, so it’s a really nice change!