I Failed #Stoptober

Hey Hey Guys!

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We’ve all heard the fads; Sober October; give up booze in October; Movember; grow a moustache in November (generally speaking this one is just for men, but I daresay there is the odd woman who might participate!) to name just two.

In October, I participated in #Stoptober, where I attempted to kick the fags. And I am going to tell you why I failed.

I was never a heavy smoker, at most seven or eight a day, so I thought it would be easy to give them up. Turns out I relied on those little white devils more than I thought.

For the first 15 days I was doing pretty well. I had given them up for two months in the summer with absolutely no problem, going cold turkey, not even caring. This summer I was forced to give them up. I had no choice. So with that decision taken entirely out of my hands, it was easy! When there is only one path, you take it.

But this month has been a time of stress and my freedom has been returned, with University work picking up and an internship on the horizon, drama with family and friends and just a lot of general business heading my way. I had not anticipated quite how much I would be craving that little roll-up, those precious stolen moments when I could slip outside for five minutes, take a second to myself and get some (debatably) fresh air.

When my head is abuzz and my life in a perpetual sort of organised chaos, my schedule planned to the minute and all my time devoured by commitments and obligations, I pray for those times in transit, the only times when I am really by myself because it gives me the excuse not to think about anything. It is in those times that I am at my weakest.

We all know when we are at our weakest and most likely to fall off whatever health wagon we are on. For some people it is when you are tired and hungry and the urge to hit up a fast food joint is strong. Often that ever-reliable excuse of “convenience” is brought out, with the justification that you are on the move, you need something quick and easy and oh look, how fortunate, a burger bar, cheap and quick, is right on the corner there. For others it is the “I’ve been at work all day, I don’t need to go to the gym” mantra. For me, it’s the “I’m stressed and tired” excuse, that sees my hand snaking it’s way to my right pocket and my pre-rolled cigs.

My Face When I Am Stressed

My Face When I Am Stressed

That is where I fell down. I got very stressed and very sad one evening towards the end of the month and snapped. I was in a corner shop, frowning in exasperation, having had it with the world and before I knew it, I was asking for tobacco and I walked out of the shop with more than just a bottle of juice.

And do you know what; it was the most relief I have felt in all that long month. Sure, I feel guilty for breaking my vow to keep the air in my lungs clear, but in that moment, it was worth it.

But what really gets me is that it was not really my choice to quit in October. I was set up for failure by attempting to chance a lifestyle habit at a time and in a timeframe that was dictated by others, rather than by me. I wanted to quit but I should have done so in my own time, not because I was jumping on the band waggon. It was as convenient for me to quit in October as it is for me to light up when I am stressed; but that doesn’t mean that either of those things are good for me. We are conditioned to perform all actions in the most convenient way, even if it’s not the best option in the long term. Maybe I should have meditated or something. But that wouldn’t have given me the immediate gratification that I was desperately craving in that moment.

It makes me think about addiction and stress. We all have ways of coping and most of the time, they are not too good for us. As people we are susceptible to destructive behaviour and it’s something that we have struggled with since the dawn of time. We crave things that are not good for us, whether that be alcohol, cigarettes or dates with “bad boys”. But the important thing is to persevere and try to recognise that these things are bad for us and limit the negative effect we allow them to have on us.

I do regret not sticking too my word (not least because my dad promised to match whatever I saved!) but at least not I know that it is my relief mechanism. I need to find a new way to get that same hit of immediate gratification, something healthier. It is possible to give up the things that are not making our lives richer, but perhaps it has to rake something more than will power. It may be that we need to know there is a definite positive outcome. I didn’t factor in a reward system, meaning that I was losing something I enjoyed and getting nothing to replace it with.

So my advice to anyone trying to give up something less than good for you is this; make sure you have a reward in place for all your efforts. Never take something away and have nothing to gain from it, because that selfish, craving part of you will simply implore you to give up.

Read the article HERE!

So, treat yo self! Good luck!

SSDD!

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A Tempting Tradition Twist on Pumpkin Perfection

The oversees caffeine giant strikes again with an American twist on a festive tradition.

Ahhh STARBUCKS™, you are sometimes so wonderful…

For weeks now my blog reader has been full of Americans bombarding me with pumpkins. Treats of all kinds have been appearing because of Thanksgiving and Halloween (links at the bottom to some of them!) but mainy they’ve been boasting about the latest PUMPKIN flavoured creation to be adapted to coffee or iced treat and, I can officially announce… that splendour has officially been shared with the UK as of 29th!! Yaaaaay!!

But that’s not all!

So curious was I and impatient to experience this bizarre wonder for myself, I took it as a personal challenge to acquire it the day the offer appeared in my Facebook feed – Friday 28th. On this mission I recruited one enthusiastic compatriot, one reluctant companion and two students with nothing better to do. One of whom was lost on the way there. A fleet of four it was to be.

And I succeeded! 😀 Though the offer was technically not due to start til Saturday 29th September, I took the initiative and… just asked nicely, actually. ^.^ The guy behind the counter looked impressed I even knew about it so…

I give you, one of the UK’s first ever STARBUCKS™ served PUMPKIN SPICED LATTE‘s!

they spelt my name wrong on the personalised cup… 😦

Should be ‘Gemma’ not ‘Jemma’ but I’ll let it slide… this time… 😛

This thing was so exclusive in the UK when I asked for it that their website hasn’t even updated to include it on their menu yet! (link at the top of the page!)

The offer is exclusive to lattes, which is a bit disappointing as I know the pumpkin flavour  is available across the full range of coffees in America. The only variation seems to be if you want whipped cream or not, as well as only being available for a month. That would be because it’s a Halloween promotion and all that…

Onto the taste test.

I’m not an expert on pumpkins, to the point where I actually have no idea what they taste like . 😀 But I can tell you this. It. Is. TASTY. It’s so good! So good, in fact, that far from tolerating the addition of milk in my coffee to experience this phenomenon, I actually enjoyed it. So good, I almost bought another one! Usually I hate milky coffee as it gives me headaches. Specialty lattes are often bearable because there is another flavour to dominate, but damn this was so good!

The flavouring was a little bit spicy, not like chili, more like ginger or cinnamon, and when added to the light, whipped cream it gave the coffee a sweetness I really never thought it would. I expected something heavier and something either very bitter, more akin to a headily scented, dense tasting coffee you might be served from a questionable looking, festive vendor, in a styrofoam cup, or something very mild and savoury; like a non-citrus cheesecake in coffee form with an almost tea-like consistency… if that’s even possible 😀 That thought might have been the product of having seen pumpkin flavoured goodies in the plastic, clear cups chilled drinks are served in. Never did I expect just how sweet it would be! The foam was light, the texture smooth, the aroma light and wafting. Delicious.

I would say that, taste wise, this is something of a girly drink, but I would highly recommend this particular speciality drink to everyone. Even if it doesn’t get you in a Halloween mood (something this sweet and scrumptious could never incite fear into anyone bar the lactose intolerant… nor can it celebrate the dead…) it will certainly give you a festive buzz. I personally hate Christmas, (see here!) but that’s what it tastes like!

I recently purchased a candied ginger body butter from The Body Shop and it was a good thing I hadn’t been wearing it when I drained that mug – I’d have morphed into a little Christmas elf, perhaps sporting a jaunty witches hat, right there on the spot! 😀

some pumpkin treats for you all!! STARBUCKS America full pumpkin range!! nutella swirled pumpkin pie, mini cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins (no i’m not joking, that’s what they’re called) fudge brownie cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting (phew, what a title!) skinny pumpkin cheesecake brownie  SIMPLE pumpkin cake  a PSL,  a modified PSL  a “top 10 list”

credits have to go to: Sally’s Baking Addiction, (who I have a mild bakers crush on!! :D) Caffeinated and Random, (whose loving rants about her other half make me LOL), Sweet Little Thang

Follow me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/gemc200 , I hang out there occasionally 🙂

SSDD

pretty and sweet...

Don’t Turn Over A Random Leaf; Turn Over the Right One

Picture the scene.

You are in a landscape. This landscape may be near barren. A smattering of wilting bushes peppering brazen, cracked soil. The shoots that are left are of a variety capable of life in harsh conditions. Perhaps there is a burning sun. Perhaps it is tundra like and cold. This landscape is yours alone. It is not so entirely unpleasant that it is always unbearable, much in the way that even the most unsavoury of areas can be tolerated once you get used to them, but there is something not quite right about it.

There could be many names you could give this place. Limbo, might be one of them. Or perhaps perdition, nowhere, or even confusion. You might prefer not to give that place a name at all. That’s ok. It is yours…

You stir from a most intense day-dream. So intense you might have believes it reality; were it not for that bush.

The lush and leafy, impossibly mulit-tonal green bush, that has attracted your attention. Was it always there or has it just suddenly sprung into being from the drought ridden ground?

unusual and intimidating…

As if independent from meteorological influence, a leaf detaches itself from the bush. It float purposefully toward you. You approach with caution. Lift the leaf: pretty. Unusual shape, not one you are familiar with. Interesting. But not for you.

Take a step back, but take care not to lose sight of the leaf. Something has stirred in you and you know it’s important, even if you don’t necessarily want to encounter that particular shoot again.

pretty and sweet…

Another has flown near you, with a gentle motion, as if to avoid startling you. This time the leaf is colourful. Inhail and discover that the air is sweet, the scent carried on a light breeze and wrapping coolly around you.

Carry this leaf awhile. Twirl it experimentally between your fingers. Hmmmmn, lovely; but not for you. Let the fragile pretty thing float away on the fragrant flurry. It lands close to the bush.

is this your leaf? …

Next, a darker one catches your eye. This one is scary by comparison to the others. Spikier edges. It writhes in the draft, which by this time has become warm, despite the lessening intensity from the sun; it no longer burns.

A glance at the bush shows that it sits there still, innocent and suspicious only in its alien contrast to the tired little sprouts around it.

You stand, stare quizzically at this leaf. A tall shrub sways dozily in the breeze beside you. It never did that before…

The leafy bush seems to glow as you approach the spiky leaf. This one sends shockwaves through you and your nerves alight with a fire that has never been experienced in this forlorn place before. This knowledge seems to make the bush glow brighter still.

The scary leaf continues its dance, with each of your tentative steps seeming to increase its fervor. Your heart races in time with its perilous twist – the feeling is somewhat nauseating after so long in such a place of dry suspension.

But you reach out and pince the stem between shaking fingers. Mouth dry but eyes no longer heavy, the leafs struggle ends. It is course to the touch but fresh and crisp. It feels more dependable that the others. Less likely to die quickly or suffer a tragically short existence, or worse, a promising start followed by a hollowly unfulfilling end.

Sure, those spikes might make it a little difficult to handle at times, but sometimes that is the price of reliability.

The warmth that had been blanketing you from the wind now swirls and glows somewhere else – is it inside you? Somewhere, perhaps, and quite deep. But deep in a way that a well is deep; the only place it can go is up, and this time, what goes down, will come back up.

The leaf has ceased its struggles and sits palliative in you hand. This is the one for you.

Turn it over.

 

SSDD

a lone shrub surviving…

tundra…

could you miss this tree in a desert…