29 January 2015

Take Back What's Yours

This is my post for the "Take Back What's Yours" campaign started by Chloe's Concept. Chloe's blog is one of my favourites, partly due to the fact it is both a lifestyle blog, while covering her life with T1 Diabetes. Before her blog, I struggled to find a diabetes blog that also ventured into the quite saturated 'lifestyle and fashion' blogging world, so discovering Chloe's Concept offered both reassurance and also something to aspire to. 

When I saw her launch this campaign, I knew I had to do my own post for it and am passionate about getting more people involved, both within the DOC and the wider lifestyle blogging community! On a personal level, its concept links in perfectly with my own New Year resolutions - essentially, I want to take back me. I want to take back Sophie.

… which includes, for starters, my glasses! Fun fact, Sophie wears glasses. For seeing, to be precise. Yet I nearly always remove them out of self-consciousness… until today, I have taken them back (literally) and plonked them on my head where they belong. 

So, taking back me... rather abstract, cliche, generalised - yes. But for me it carries so much truth. The past year has seen both physical and mental illness rear their tyrannical heads a bit more; on the back of unprecedented diabetes curveballs, I came into 2015 feeling a little lost about what the future may hold.

My quest to take back "Sophie" is largely about coming to terms with my diabetes. Thirteen years on, you would think I would be there already. Sadly, life doesn't quite map pan out as we would expect or idealise. Nonetheless, in taking back some of the little things that make me, hopefully the road will become clearer. I feel wearing my glasses is a good star! 

Taking back my mind 

It does not belong to any illness, physical or mental. 

I need to take back my blood sugar metre and learn that the number is just that - a number. It needs to be counted, but it does not need to count for anything. Those trivial digits have dictated my life for far too long, from food and life choices, to my own self-worth. This needs to change. 

I need to find my way back to the mind that enjoyed cake and Spaghetti Bolognese without a second thought. The head that could rationalise carbs as, again, simply a number that needs to tot up, not torment. I need to take back my free will and my choices, away from these two illnesses. I need to take back diabetes - not the diabetes that mental illness has, to some degree, capitalised on and warped. I need to get back to basics, essentially. Baby steps forward.

Taking back my books 

In the midst of all the diabetes dilemmas of the last few months, recreational reading has fallen somewhat on the back burner; for a lifelong literary lover, this does leave a noticeable void. The sad truth is that blood sugar volatility (and subsequent heightened eating struggles ), has placed me in a bit of a head fog - physically and mentally. However, I am resolved to read more - last summer I was more prolific than ever in my reading speed!

 Of course, I do have quite a mountain of university module texts to read, my most recent favourite being Bill Bryson's Notes From a Small Island, but I want to try and read a non-course book every 2 weeks - 1 if I put my mind to it. After all, I do only have 6 contact hours a week! £9000 a year well spent… 

Perhaps at trip here is in order? I even have my own Mimbulus Mimbletonia. 

I also want to do more reviews - I am currently reading a review copy of Gayle Forman's new novel I Was Here, so expect a post on that in the imminent future. Books are such an important part of my life, a real 'Sophie' thing. I need to take them back and never let them go… now there's a good book - on that note, I also want to read more from Eastern writers!

Taking back my coffee order

I already achieved this in 2014; finally saying no to skinny following years of uttering that now shoulder-shivering words in countless coffee shops. This needs to continue, in the form of visiting more independent cafes! Not only do they offer cappuccinos far superior in all the essential areas (velvety froth, sweet espresso shots and coffee art to melt your heart), but they have no numbers. 

With the Student Guild in Exeter due to put calorie counts on their menu (brilliant article on this here at The Independent), it is a welcome sigh of relief. As I said earlier, numbers do not need to count for anything, but it is nice to simply have them not exist at all. 

Since falling in love with smaller branches such as Bath's Society Cafe and Exeter's Boston Tea Party, tasting Starbucks coffee over christmas was met with quite bitter (literally) disappointment. When In Bath, I want to visit the new Colonna & Hunter in Milsom Place (sister of Colonna & Small's - the King of the flat white). Meanwhile, Exeter's Devon Coffee and the new The Glorious Art House might require me to travel a bit south of Boston or, in the case of the former, about two shops down the street…! 

It does bemuse me slightly that two 'premium' coffee shops should be placed so close to one another, but then you only have to go to Kingsmead Square in Bath to find no less than four coffee shops… at least you will never struggle for options. As for the latter - I have seen photos of their tea cups, and it could very well be Sophie-in-a-shop. Quite fitting then, in my quest to "take back me". Happy days. 

Taking back my smile

The original name for this blog was Sophie Keep Smiling. I have used it as an 'alias' for a few things. Originally it was somewhat ironic - when I was in a bad place back in 2012, I used to just tell myself to "keep smiling", put on a front to both the people around me… but also to myself. It was a mask, but looking back at pictures now I am not convincing anyone; well, I don't convince the 20 year old who sits here now. Moreover, growing up I could genuinely never smile! It was a bit of an inside joke in our family - when I was in year 4, my parents were offered my school photo for free. True story. 

When I began recovery, "keep smiling" was a bit of a motto I adopted to spur myself into action. Despite how anxious or afraid I felt, I told myself I would keep smiling in the belief that one day it would start to seem less brittle, less painted on. It is quite easy to look back at my Next Top Model watching days and laugh over Tyra's "smile with your eyes" mantra, but it's true! Your eyes are where you see a smile - they are what, above all else, signifies health and happiness. Not your body, or the size of your thighs. It's your eyes. 

My smile is strongest when I am nourished, have blood sugar stability and feel content in myself. It is amazing that it took eighteen years for me to learn how to smile, but I think I finally have. Given the turmoil of the last year, it isn't as bright as it has been. However, come 2016 I hope to look back, in photos, on a year filled with laughter, sparkles and smiles. 

A smile I took back, because the only person it can ever belong to is me. 


Cheesy post over, I tag the following lovely people to take part in this campaign. I have chosen a mixture of my favourite lifestyle, diabetes and recovery bloggers; #takebackwhatsyours is such a positive idea, let's spread the word as widely as possible! 

Take Back What's Yours


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