Choosing YOUR Values and Changing House Colours


After 11 long years, she was still waiting for her Hogwarts letter... A little extract from my 2017 autobiography, coming to a Floundering & Blotts near you! If it gets to 2015 and I'm still waiting,  it will officially be 19 years later  and we may have to accept defeat. Until then, I live in hope. That being said, it's been around 19 years since I first opened the pages of Philosophers Stone, boarding the Hogwarts Express with Harry, Ron and co. I definitely know it was before my 6th birthday, as I still lived in my Cupboard above the stairs in Newcastle (Note to parents: this is the best way to up-sell a very very small bedroom). 

With the help of my parents and Steven Fry, it wasn't long before I arrived at the Castle, added a Snowy Owl to my Christmas list and stepped through the doors of the Great Hall. It was then that the Sorting Hat sung. It was then that I declared myself a Gryffindor. By christmas, I even had the Quidditch robes to prove it - the Owl was still a work in progress.

For a woodlice-fearing bookworm, it wasn't an obvious match, yet I used Hermione and Ron as sounding boards. You can be petrified of spiders and love doing homework and still dwell with "the brave at heart". You can even be hopelessly clumsy, because there's a reason the Accio Spell and Remembralls exist! (shame on you spellcheck for red dotting this word.)

On a more serious note, my Gryffindor identity really helped me come to terms with my diabetes diagnosis. In a post several years ago, I talked about the importance of Harry Potter in helping me through my diagnosis, yet I didn't mention the specific importance of house values. From the age of 7, I was giving my own injections multiple times a day; experiencing the daily roller coaster of blood sugars; to a large degree; being exposed to things that strip away the innocent of childhood. I had to be brave... and I could be.
When I started secondary school, however, I faced a bit of an existential crisis. Not only was I sitting in Biology, rather than Herbology; three different online quizzes placed me in Slytherin (is it obvious I wasn't too pleased with the outcome?). What's more,  my dad went onto claim he "always knew"... how was this happening?! I admit that I took the quiz a bit too literally, and proceeded to force my sure peg values into the round eye of the serpent.
1. Cunning: Confession time - I once swiped £500 out of the monopoly bank when I thought no one was looking... well, clearly the sorting was looking. All that time I was wetting about coal from St. Nick, I had MY PRIORITIES ALL WRONG. Where is Ron wisdom when you need it!? I looked at the Slytherin characteristics and tried to fit my square peg into the round eye of the serpent. 
2. Ambitious: I have always been competitive, from egg-and-spoon races to school report Aces.   I admit that, in school, I did compare to those around me and wanted to be among the top grades. I was I am ambitious. Yet, on reflection, much of this is rooted in my perfectionism. While I compare to others, the person I most compare to is myself. It isn't necessarily Sophie who is ambitious, but a part of my head that often compromises my wellbeing.
That's the thing with characteristics; they are not necessarily the same as your values. I've talked about this distinction before - Are We Out of the Shoulds Yet and New-Sky Thinkingas it's been central to my journey through CBT. For so long, I've been preoccupied with doing the 'right' thing, being the 'good girl' and painting by numbers - often literally in terms of diabetes and, later, the rules of anorexia.

At the time I took those Slytherin quizzes, I was wandering ever deeper into the world of the shoulds. The whimsical stories of my childhood were replaced with essays. Hard work wasn't a trait to be celebrated in itself, as the Hufflepuff outlook would do. It was simply a given... as was being brave. The longer I lived with diabetes, the more self-critical I became. As with academia, there was success or failure. No middle road.


It is only in the last couple of years, since taking a break from education and receiving treatment for my mental health, have I realised that this was not Sophie. I may have adopted black-and-white thinking through time and experience, but it was not a reflection of my true values: patience, forgiveness, compassion and imagination, to name just a few. It's not that I believe being a Slytherin makes you a fundamentally bad person; we will always remember Severus Snape. I simply know that the world of "greatness" isn't for me.

Too much buzzing and not enough being, thank-you very much. At least, that's what I've come to realise in the past two years. So when Pottermore relaunched and brought the most official sorting of all, I was curious as to what it would say. In choosing health over education, I temporarily put aside "Bleed Green" of Exeter University, but would my socks still be green? There's the question Hamlet really meant to ask... having put health before academia, would I still bear the green of Slytherin house?
After all this time, it turns out I'm meant to be singing the blues in my converse shoes, along with my kindred spirit and fellow Ravenclaw Luna. If "your House is like your Family", as McGonagall says, we're officially sisters now and the world makes sense again! This was actually one of my biggest issues with being a Slytherin, aside from the obvious drawbacks of Dark Lords and Dungeon living. I think I'd rather sit on a table with Regina George than Pansy Parkinson... at least I could wear pink on Wednesdays (Did you hear that Dolores? only Wednesdays!)
On a more general note, it is rather flattering to be told you have "wit beyond measure" - the sorting hat must have acknowledged my dedication to the pun community. I have to admit, Ravenclaw is a nice little throwback to my childhood days spent buried in a book! Even today, I get this rush of adrenaline when I start an essay and - as of now - my dissertation. This is the part of academia I savour the most; the research process, where I want to drink in everything that I possibly can. Dumbledore was right when he said that "words are our most inexhaustible source of magic", especially when we've chosen to listen.
Choices. That's it, in the end. Technically, we can do or be anything. I could wake up tomorrow and decide to be a "hat" person (you know those people who can wear any style of hat, yet always look effortlessly fabulous?)  The fact is, I could. So when I found this quote by Evanna Lynch - whom I've made no secret of adoring - it was immediately typed out and printed for my new room. Luna is your quintessential eccentric , yet is so often dismissed as "loony" throughout the books... and in our own World (Some Muggles on Twitter are RIDDIKULUS).

Luna is judged by her cover, but she doesn't judge herself for it. In doing this, she shows the true wisdom of a Ravenclaw.. Her outlook is the one I am learning through treatment; how to plot my vales onto the page, overriding the narrative that do not write Sophie. Luna's ability to rise above judgement is the "greatest treasure" of all. She is absolutely brave enough to be a Gryffindor and, as her similarity to Newt Scamander shows, she would feel right at home with the bumbling Badger. The cover is never as important as the story behind it . For this reason, I'd like to think that present-day Sophie would accept any house - even Slytherin - because we all have a part of them in us. Like Luna, I am a Ravenclaw, a Hufflepuff, a Gryffindor and a Slytherin. Yes, really! 

I am hard-working and loyal like the Badger. I have the Eagle's love of learning and a fondness for puns. Since the age of seven, I have had to be brave in my attitude to diabetes - both physically and mentally - while recovery from mental illness requires  round-the-clock-courage. So that leaves the Serpent... the house with a reputation worse than Taylor Swift. It's tempting to leave a blank space on this section, but I will not tell lies. Fact: one of my favourite traits is resourcefulness. and it belongs to Slytherin. Around 90% of my craft projects would be non-existent without my ability to adapt. Short of yarn? Pack your trunk and turn that elephant into a mouse! When I misplaced my camera strap, the day before my holiday to New England, I decided to DIY an old belt and had no need for a Remembrall #MuggleManaged.
Multi-house life really is what it's all about... and if you needed me to make this official, look no further than Pottermore! Earlier this year, I took the Illvermorny house quiz I was sorted into Pukwudgie - the house for healers. Not only is it a welcome reminder of my recovery journey, but the description for Pukwudgie is most similar to Hufflepuff. I guess that makes me a flying badger? There could be worse things. In the past week, I've decided to make it official and embrace the Ravenwudgie life, complete with my own sigil. This may be winding its way to my etsy store, along with a Wampuff or two... 

I'm also starting to think that Dobby was onto something with the multi-coloured socks. Alas, Dumbledore was right again. You can never have enough socks, especially when it comes to magical YOU. There's only one of those in the world and that, in itself, puts you in a magical house of your own. Embrace your traits, love your values and live by them. Don't be afraid to watch bake-off at University, or wear the fedora hat into town. Wear it to a club if it's what makes you happy! Wear it, say it, dream it and be it - as long as it makes you you. 

9 Novel Ways to Beautify your Bedroom


Two weeks ago, my mum and I decided to replace the bedroom furniture I've had for 19 years. Yes, it is officially 19 years later. I can practically hear the Hogwarts Express in the distance, transporting a vintage dresser from the Room of Requirement. Complete with a stowaway Niffler. A girl can dream...

Given that my Hogwarts letter got lost in the post (I bet it's Errol), I am unlikely to achieve anything quite this magical. Nevertheless, with a Pinterest swish and some DIY flicks, I am determined to cast my own spell. I've spent the last week collecting Pins like a Niffler collects Galleons, so I have gallons of Pinspiration to share with you. 

Ft. upcycled planters, book-page bunting and House-Elf freeing storage, these Pretty Little DIYS are are too magical to keep secret...

     TYPEWRITERS AND BOOK PLANTERS       

If I had to pick two things that can always bring a smile to my face, it would be books and flowers.... and coffee and yarn. Okay, make that four; no Sunday is complete with cappuccinos and crochet! Yet all the espresso shots and alpaca yarn in the world can't rival that old book smell, along with the beauty of meadow rambles. In short, I am the living embodiment of Hermione's love potion in Half-Blood Prince; on this occasion she definitely had her priorities sorted. Sorry Ron.

That being said, I think that Newt, Neville and Luna would be most tempted by these DIYs. The DIY Typewriter Terrarium by Apartment Therapy s the stuff of dreams - aka a practically perfect instagram flatlay - but  is possibly too ambitious for my first attempt? I do have a habit of doing that, as my first knitted bear will would testify; He was quickly renamed Actually Headless Nick.
The Book Planter project seems a bit more manageable, and is still pretty magical! I've pinned the tutorial - another gem by Apartment Therapy - and plan to find the chosen text in a charity shop. Three guesses what book I have in mind... I'll be honest, my completion rate with pinterest isn't the best, but I am determined to try this one! I can already envision it on my windowsill, to sit alongside my Christmas squirrel. An animal is for life guys.

On that note, it's probably best to pick plants that won't instantly die, so no Lilies here (with the exception of enchanted goldfish). So there's just another excuse to buy all the cacti! Personally, I'm more of  a Mimbelus Mimbletonia kind of girl. 

Which novel would you choose for a DIY Book Planter?

     BOOK BUNTING, FAIRY LIGHTS AND PAPER FLIGHTS       

Ever since the girls from University sent me a paper rose last year, just after I went into hospital, I have been In love with paper crafts. One of the other girls in treatment was an amazing book folder, turning second-hand novels into true works of art. For a time I was obsessed with card making and would incorporate book pages in my designs; however, since discovering Adobe Illustrator I've left the pages behind.

Thanks to Pinterest, I may be heading back again. I love the idea of attaching paper roses to fairy lights, although the potential fire risk does have to be considered... the wellbeing of my bookshelf comes first, always! Just to be safe, I could opt for this equally pretty heart garland  by Fabulously Frugal; I was expecting the tutorial to be really complicated, but it's actually quite simple!

These Harry Potter flying keys just had to be included in this post, but somehow I can't see the magic becoming reality - where do you find all the keys, for starters? That being said, it would be the perfect mobile for a baby's room, which gives me a few more years to search for keys. Can anyone please tell me where to buy a Niffler?

    STORYTIME TELLERS AND STORAGE SOLUTIONS         

I have a bag that says "books are my bag", which pretty much defines the bibliophile life. We dream of books and power through the boackache (backache from books). Our dream house has a Belle library, book nooks in every room and a wardrobe leading to Narnia. We  love books like Dobby loves undergarments.... so the following DIYs are the literary equivalent of an Odd Sock Emporium.

This DIY book clock looks like it belongs in Kate Spade, especially with the pastel colours. I like the fact it's quite minimalist, as even I have my limits with the "quirky chic" style. This clock strikes the perfect balance, so my heart sunk when the picture didn't come with a DIY. Thankfully, a bit more Pinterest browsing let me to this tutorial, along with a new blog discovery: Pretty Simple Ideas has joined the blogroll!
The we turn to book boxes. I already own a beautiful one from India Jane, which has become my go-to prop in blog photos! So when I spied this DIY by Kate's Creative Space, which uses actual books, I was in wonderland...Until I opened my current book box and reality called! It may look dreamy on the outside, but has become my own Room of Requirement; a home for magazine samples, 1p coins and all the single earrings. So if I really like the DIY version, it's time to turn the page and organise my life!

What would you store in your Book Box?

     TERRARIUM TALES AND TRENDS         

I talked about book planters being a Lovegood love-in, but that was before I discovered Terrariums Tales. Thanks to Pinterest and the Totoro creation below, they might by my chosen one! I spent a good hour pinning to my heart's content, even after my mac's "rainbow wheel of death" joined the party. It was  obviously too good to miss. My only disappointment was the lack of Harry Potter creations!

I'll be honest, some were possibly too quirky for Luna - I'm talking R2D2 and Ewoks. Yet others are far more subtle, like this enchanted rose design on the right. On the whimsicality scale, I think I'm in the middle of these two - on par with Totoro - as the world needs more pure imagination. Here's what I currently have in mind: a miniature forest scene, complete with needle-felted Doe and a Deathly Hallows stone. Not that I've thought much about it or anything...
If you're looking for something a bit less quirky, Terrariums are perfect for that scandi-style. They're also very much on-trend, despite what I may have led you to believe. At one point, I swear Urban Outfitters had more Terrariums than T-shirts; now they've completely sold out, along with every other shop on the high street. Thankfully, the gods at Not on the High Street will always have your back.

For more minimalist inspiration, Pinterest is also your friend - I promise you it's not just Totoro and friends! The pictures below are practically crying out for an instagram #Shelfie, and that's before we mention the blogger's best friend - rose gold. Yes, terrariums come in rose gold, and can be up-cycled to store your makeup, jewellery, nail polish, swab-sticks... the possibilities are endless.

Personally, I'm more inclined to let terrariums be terrariums, especially if I could come close the designs of American Etsy seller Doodle Birdie. With her Bio bowls, the forest is literally at your fingertips and I can already spy a place for my little Doe... and on that note, I think my attempt to be "on trend" has come to an end! You can take the girl away from her Harry Potter book, but the stories we love most stay with us forever.

What would you put in your Fairytale Terrarium

Self-Care and Filling Your Own Cup

... and breathe. Step off that hamster wheel you constantly run around, sit down and breathe. Think of the last time you encouraged a friend to "take a break", or did a good deed for someone else. Now ask the same question, but imagine you are that person. What advice would you give to a friend, a relative or a small child? Would you tell them to stay on that wheel, despite how tired their legs were? Would you judge them, or admonish them, simply for being human? 
"You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first."
Oh, Pinterest. You truly are a golden one, apart from the fact I couldn't trace the author of this quote 0 if anyone knows, please enlighten me! For it couldn't ring more true. I instinctively pour care onto others, whether it be making gifts to 'bring a smile', or reaching out in their time of need; nevertheless, the concept of giving myself is altogether more foreign.

Moreover, I've realised that this is quite a common trait for those with mental health struggles. I've talked before about the incredible girls I met through treatment, but it is a case-in-point. From the little notes posted under my door, to the "toast for toast" poem that greeted me at breakfast, they would shower care in abundance. Until the last petal fell on their own stem, they would water every flower in the field before themselves. 

A few months ago, I taked about my self-care conundrum in Are we out of the Shoulds yet? At the start of CBT treatment, we explored the imbalance between my self-perception and how I see those around me. After so long convincing myself that I am less worthy than others, we questioned the logic of this belief. Fun fact 1: very little logic exists. Fun fact 2: Facts are your friend!

When my therapist asked "why are you less deserving of self-care?" I responded with diabetes and anorexia. My reason? They have placed me in a "care deficit" that must be resolved. Her response? "You didn't cause your physical or mental illness and they cause you the most pain." You can't argue with that cup of liquid logic; even a Wonderland Tea Party would be covered! So now we've talked the talk, there's just one thing left to do... actually, you know... ACT.

In the short-term, it will involve going against our instincts. Joey Tribbiani may have said "there's no such thing as a selfless good deed", but for the "empty cup" crew I think the opposite is true! Can we find a a selfish good deed? An act of self-care that is entirely our own, with no obvious benefit to the outside world. In the past few weeks I decided to put this theory to the test. and can confirm (despite a few stray trolls in the dungeon) I lived to tell the tale! Here are four ways I've filled my own cup....  

     READING A BOOK     

I adore books, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. What may come as a surprise, is the fact that I've not done much reading at all in recent years. I have no problem with "productive reading", aka course texts, newspapers and Coding for Dummies blog posts. When it comes to reading for pleasure, however, I hit a brick wall.

Growing up, I loved nothing more than burying my head in a story. It is a natural form of self-care for me, which is probably why my head has such a big issue with it! In the last month, however, I've started a new chapter. Inspired by the return of GOT, I've finally started the books and am completely hooked! I was a bit worried that it would change my response to the show, but in my opinion it only adds to the story. I absolutely adore this world and my guilt is far less than I imagined. 

If my mind ever does try to give me grief, I try to imagine Miss Honey telling Matilda not to read. In short, I can't imagine it! Depriving someone of books is what Geoffrey or Ramsey Snow would do, not anyone with half a heart or brain. I'd far rather listen to Tyrion: "A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone." Read on...

     TUNING INTO PODCASTS & YOUTUBE     

If you saw my last post, you will be no stranger to the magic of MuggleCast! If you didn't, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! Since tuning in for the first time last week, I've trawled through the archives like a rampaging Hippogriff and am definitely converted. The same goes for Vlogger Emma Blackberry, who made my week with her A Day in the Life of a Sim vlog! Throwback to the noughties and my most valuable life lesson: never attempt Lobster Thermidor on a Grilled Cheese cooking skill...

When you think of "self-care", Podcasts and Youtube are probably not your first thought! For most people, they're just a natural part of their life and routine. So why did my head kick up such a fuss? I think it's because, like books, there's no obvious benefit beyond my own entertainment (with the exception of those Coding for Dummies tutorials!) Writing this out now, I realise it makes NO SENSE and I was half-temped to delete it...

... but I won't, because that would contradict a key part of self-care; self-compassion! Just because I think my guilt is "silly", doesn't mean it is silly. Would I tell a five-year-old that their fear of goblins was irrational? No, I would crochet a "Goblin-fighting Fox" to protect them at night, while encouraging them to return to their bed. I would never invalidate their feelings, but I would also encourage them to challenge it. Only by changing our actions, can we hope to change our feeling. So if you feel guilty for self-care, practice self-care! No goblins allowed.

     NOURISHING BODY AND SOUL      

When you are in recovery for an eating disorder, you could follow your meal plan to-the-letter and still miss the most important word. YOU! Perhaps we should call it RecovYOUry? Or perhaps we'll stick with something a little more abstract... quite simply, you. Meal plans are great for nourishing your body, but you have to nourish yourself too. I'll be the first to admit I struggle with this, finding it easier to eat 'by prescription', rather than for pleasure Yet is this approach healthy for my mind? Not in the long-term, if I truly want to be free of anorexia.

So I set myself some self-care challenges goals, namely choosing more foods I enjoy and cooking for myself. Two months ago, I fell in love with the Cacao and Almond Energy Balls by Deliciously Ella and didn't have another one for a few weeks. My avoidance had nothing to do with numbers; it was the simple fact that I really really enjoyed them! In the name of operation "nourish soul", August has been the month of enjoying them some more.

I've also been branching out from the world of rice packets, ravioli and Quorn sausages, with a little more help from Ella. Most recently, I made the Cannelloni Bean and Kale Stew and it was the perfect comfort meal. As the only veggie in our house, I tend to avoid big-batch cooking as it feels excessive to do "just for me." Yet after a little motivation from the end of Ella's book - which I've turned into a little postcard for my wall - I popped on the stove and ended the night full of beans. Literally.

*For the critics who group Ella with the clean-eating brigade, please read her book first! More than the recipes, I love her philosophy around food and the language she uses - there's no mention of numbers or restriction, which is helping me work on my relationship with food. So if by some miracle Ella is reading this - thank-you! 

      BUYING THINGS FOR MYSELF     

I know for a fact I am not alone with this one! I get so anxious about spending money, unless it's buying things for other people - anxiety seems to take a holiday come Christmas. When it comes to myself, that's an altogether different matter! So for my CBT homework the other week, I visited the Holy Grail of cruelty-free, otherwise known as my local Lush Store. I initially went to buy some of the Happy Happy Joy Joy conditioner for my sister; I started using it a few months ago and wanted to share the joy.

Twenty minutes later, I left the shop with not one, not two, but four Lush goodies in my bag... and three were for me. Admittedly, one of them was a 'staple' buy - my foundation - but two were spontaneous purchases! My skin has become more dry in recent weeks, so I bought the Full of Grace serum bar for some TLC. Then, in an frantic till-shelf-till dash (we've all done one - and have all lost lost our space at least once), I picked up the Toothy Tabs I've been eying for months. I have no idea what to expect, so will be sure to update you!
I wanted to end with the act of self-care I'm most proud of. While it wasn't the most obvious, it was important to me because of the context: it was self-care when my self-worth was most vulnerableIn the past few weeks, my dad has been in-and-out of hospital and is currently waiting for surgery. My anxiety has really put its foot on the accelerator, as I just want him to be okay and feel powerless to help. 

Consequently, I have never been more thankful for therapy; however, thanks to an AWOL bus last week, I ended up missing half my appointment, while also enjoying an extra 30 minutes of bus-stop ruminating - why oh why did I forget my headphones?! By the time  I finally arrived for CBT,  I was responsible for every wrong in the world, including truant bus drivers and hospital waiting lists. Thankfully, my therapist was there to help with the fact-checking: Evan the bus driver has no clue I exist and the NHS is in crisis - a crisis that wasn't caused my own use of the service!

Yet even she can't work miracles in half an hour, so I was still a bit of a muddle by the end of the session. I managed to get myself into town and track down a veggie sandwich (good old M&S), before heading to the Sophie-friendly magazines in WHSmiths (crafts and wellbeing). I was instantly drawn to the Breathe Creative Journal, which has a range of mindful and creative exercises to "calm your mind". 
Any other person in my situation: you might as well stick a prescription label on this.

Me in my situation: I can't possibly leave this on the shelf, but I can't possibly buy it 'just for me'.

In a textbook case of "empty cup filler", I resolved to buy it for a friend... In that moment, I forgot the quote I love so much; I ignored the words that I would so readily say to another. In that moment, they didn't apply to me. So thank goodness for the gift of time. Later that day, I opened the journal and drank in the contents. Only then, as I felt a moment of calm, did I appreciate how drained I was. Two weeks on, the journal has found a home on my bedside table! I am hesitant to actually start, so I hope that this post will give me the final push. 

I may still buy one for a friend, as I know one in particular who would love it, but this one is staying with me. I need to fill my own cup too. 

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