Taking it personally

Well it’s been a while since I have ‘blogged’ but here goes…

I think we are all suffering from the fatigue of this pandemic. I am just so tired and bored of it all and we’ve all gone through this shared trauma but hopefully the end is in sight, I know we have been here before but I am trying to stay positive here!

But yeah I guess I have missed writing this blog, just not been inspired/too tired cos 2021 was crap – lots of shit stuff happened in 2021 but there was some positives so I will try to reflect on both the bad and the good. By the way, I named this post ‘Taking it personally’ because of the day 13 journal prompt I started working through at the start of this pandemic…I haven’t really done very well given I am only on day 13 haha.

I do take everything personally, even when I know I shouldn’t – even when I know the thing I’m taking personally has nothing to do with me as a person. Nothing to do with anything I have done. I am incredibly quick to assume people hate me or don’t like me or think I am useless, it doesn’t take much to tip me over into crippling anxiety and over thinking. I’ve always thought I was just over sensitive, and I am over sensitive yes and over emotional etc but at least now I know this is to do with the ADHD and the rejection sensitivity disorder (RSD) that a lot of people with ADHD endure and there are positives to having lots of ‘feelings’; it means you feel the good stuff really deeply too and not just the bad stuff, so there’s that.

Anyway, yes, 2021 what a pile of pooh that was; I had 2 chest infections, a surgery to remove an ovarian cyst and endometriosis (the surgeon had to leave half of the endo even though she operated on me for 3 hours so it still gives me jip and there is no cure -yay). Also got a combined type ADHD diagnosis (took 4 different medication trials to find one that didn’t make my symptoms worse), then I got Covid ( I think I got the Delta variant – go team Delta!), then I injured myself and ended up with a gluteal tedinopathy (no idea how I did this – probably just being an awkward, clumsy, ADHD person who doesn’t look where they are going, but because of the ADHD I found doing the physio exercises incredibly boring so didn’t do them for as long as I should and therefore I haven’t been able to run on it in months) and then I had a sinus infection in December to finish the year off (I really don’t know how there can be so much snot in my head, but there was enough for me to get a sore on my face from blowing my nose so much and now I think that has scarred-nice).

So yes, all that was totally shit but I did get to spend loads of time with my parents again and my lovely doggie siblings and they are rather good company/hilarity often ensues.

I also made it to Iceland for 3 weeks in August and met some awesome solo travellers and made new friends for life. Iceland was absolutely amazing, stunning, spectacular, the scenery and the people I met were just splendid and I was soo so grateful to finally be adventuring again after 2 years in England/Wales feeling like I was being caged-literally unable to fly.

Hiking in the Highlands in Iceland got me thinking about what I think my dream job would be. It really inspired me and I think ‘the dream’ is basically to be a tour guide somewhere spectacular like Iceland or South America and take tourists on long, several day hikes and talk with them about astronomy/aurora in the evenings.

When I am hiking it’s when I feel most alive and free. I feel so blessed that I had those few weeks last year where I could feel like myself and be reminded about all the awesomeness of the world and things I had taken for granted like being able to hop on a plane and experience a new country and a new culture, be an adventurer on a solo mission and just have a conversation with a stranger.

I won’t lie it was really stressful at the beginning and end of my trip to Iceland doing the PCR tests in England 72 hours before hoping they would be negative so I wouldn’t lose thousands of pounds, and then the rules changed while I was out there and I had to get a lateral flow there and I had a flight booked really early in the morning so was freaking about about when I would fit it in. This was all a lot of extra cost as well as being stressful. It meant I lost at least one day of my trip stressing trying to find a test centre in Reykjavik. I was gutted that I had to cancel my snorkelling trip between two tectonic plates to take a covid test that took 3 minutes (but I guess that is definitely #firstworldproblems).

Finally, another major highlight was getting to finally go to see live music, I went to the ‘Rhythm of the 90s’ gig with my good friend in Brighton at the beginning of December. This gig had been postponed 4 times and I was meant to be going in May 2020 to celebrate my friend finishing her Masters. We finally got to go and dance and sing to 90s tunes with glow sticks and bucket hats and it was just THE BEST.

Countries I’ve travelled to…

My friend asked me yesterday how many countries I have actually been to; I didn’t know, so I made this list, and now I do. I am looking forward to when I can start adding to this list again ūüôā

  1. Greece
  2. Japan 
  3. Spain 
  4. China
  5. Australia 
  6. Portugal 
  7. Germany 
  8. Austria 
  9. USA 
  10. Canada
  11. Costa Rica 
  12. Chile 
  13. Peru 
  14. Colombia 
  15. Scotland 
  16. England 
  17. Northern Ireland
  18. Ireland 
  19. Norway 
  20. Sweden 
  21. Denmark 
  22. Vietnam 
  23. Morocco 
  24. France 
  25. Belgium 
  26. Switzerland 
  27. Netherlands 
  28. Finland 
  29. Croatia 
  30. Italy
  31. Czech Republic 
  32. Poland 
  33. Russia 
  34. India 
  35. Wales
Cerro Tocco, Atacama, Chile.

and yes, I am counting Wales (‘cos it’s a country and I have been there) ūüėõ

So, What time is the Space X launch tonight?

Who knows?

No idea to be honest.

I’m so confused. This morning I was on local radio (for a whole 5 minutes, yes check me out!) talking about the rescheduled launch of the first crewed Space X launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in the USA.

I of course looked up when it would actually be happening today. Some reputable news outlets said we can see it at 722pm UK time but others say 822pm.

After using an Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) {not to be confused with Eastern Standard Time} to British Standard Time (BST) {not to be confused with Greenwich Mean Team(GMT)} calculator online… I concluded that the bloody launch could be watched on TV in the UK at 822pm!!

and that is the time that I wrote down in my notes and I was prepared to say this time 822pm on the radio when asked….

& then the radio presenter, she said (to all those 10 listeners :)) that today’s launch was at 622pm ‚Ķ I didn‚Äôt correct her because I doubted myself in that moment, despite my extensive research of at least 5 articles… so yes now I am soooooo confused about when this launch is hopefully happening?

Good job I never got to my dream of being an astronaut it seems. Because this kind of thing is definitely something an astronaut should be able to do; to easily calculate between different time zones. Seems important huh? So why is everyone getting it so wrong..? and on the International Space Station(ISS) they use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) …so yes, I got not chance of being an astronaut. Luckily for me I am already self named astrosadie ( a lot of astronauts also put ‘astro’ in front of their names, I started this fashion though; probably) .

To conclude, the launch *maybe* will happen some point this evening.

Anyway, timezone confusion aside I did learn quite a lot of cool facts about this ‘first crewed launch since 2011’ so I’ll write them here. This is so my extensive research notes, made by me in order to sound like an ‘expert’, do not go to waste ( I didn’t get to say most of this on air…for the 10 listeners of the local radio.)

So since 2011 NASA have been paying the Russian space agency aka Roscosmos to send their astronauts to the ISS. There is usually a crew of between 6-10 astronauts on the ISS at any one time and the split between the two agencies is about half, with the occasional smattering of astronauts from Japan and China, and the European Space Agency (ESA) who sent Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to go to the ISS (Helen Sharman was the first British astronaut to go into space, but she went to Mir space station; and she was also the first woman to go to Mir. Go Helen!).

Yay Britain is still in Europe when it comes to space agencies woooo!

So all the ‘fuss’ about this launch is because this is the first time America/NASA has sent humans to the ISS since 2011. And it’s the first time a commercial company i.e. not the government, a business that is out to make a profit has sent people to the ISS.

Now Space X (Elon Musk’s company) and Boeing both won contracts with NASA to ‘help’ them. So both these commercial companies are now at the stage where they have tested their rockets and crew capsules with cargo and they seem to work. This is cool; and NASA has successfully performed delegation of the highest order (I wish I was able to delegate this well lol, perhaps this is why I am neither a manager or an astronaut, but yes, as usual, I digress).

So yes, SpaceX is going first with their Dragon Crew capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket.

Now I am Welsh and my favourite number is 9. So when I read these names I was already ‘on board’ with this launch. I am not going to lie.

This is all pretty damn cool. And then when you watch the test videos of the Falcon 9 just casually flying back to a small ‘helipad’ floating in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. I mean wow, this is really cool! It’s a reusable rocket that you can ‘remote control’ AND it doesn’t just get discarded in the ocean!

So yes, only 2 astronauts will fly on the Dragon today; only 2 are going because it’s less risky with 2 as opposed to 4? And of course this is the first time they are going to be able to test it out with an actual human crew.

This isn’t the first time the Dragon has been crewed though actually…it has previously had mannequins in it. One of these mannequins was called Ripley after Ellen Ripley of the Alien films and the other was called Starman, after the David Bowie song. Say what you like about Elon Musk but he is quite good at naming things (in my opinion)!

If today all goes well the Dragon has the capacity to take up to 7 passengers. So I assume that in the future some of these passengers may indeed not be astronauts who have trained for literally their whole lives but very rich people who can afford to buy a ticket to space. Eventually NASA plans to send astronauts (I assume the trained ones, not random rich people) to the Moon again. This will happen in 2024 (one of these people will *hopefully* be a woman and then she will be the first woman on the Moon! That’s cool.) and then they will go to Mars by the mid 2030s.

Now I got my Dad to quiz me yesterday on what questions I might get asked on the radio…his first one was ‘how long will it take them to get to the space station?’ thankfully I was able to impress and shock him with my ‘space expert’ knowledge…

So I say ‘It only takes 10 mins for them to get into orbit!’

My Dad is like ‘WHAT?NO? surely not? TEN MINUTES!’

so I’m like ‘yes, it is 330km up to it but they are going really fast Dad, they are literally sat on a rocket going at 28,324 kmph (or 17,600mph)’.

{I didn’t know that actual speed value at the time but I knew it was bloody fast, because I am an expert of course.}

Now cos I am a geek as well as a ‘space expert’ I had to do the maths on this one to check this 10minutes value I found online was correct.

So speed = distance divided by time and therefore the time to get there is the distance divided by the speed, so time = 330/28,324 =0.012 of an hour = 500 seconds = 8.3333333333 minutes (so ok about 10 minutes!)… {those 8 years of studying Astrophysics have not been in vain! I rejoice}.

So then my Dad is like ‘that means they will be in the space station with the other astronauts straight away’…

and I am like ‘No, it will actually take like 19 hours or something before they dock and get into the ISS!’

and he is like ‘What? that’s like when women try to park!’…

at this point, I of course gave my Dad a very annoyed look…

so knowing that it isn’t a good idea to mess with your daughter who has the book ‘Difficult Women: 11 feminist fights’ on her lap … he of course quickly back tracks from his sexist remark.

He goes ‘I know, you can twist it around, say on the radio, “typical man, he can get there quick but it takes him ages to park…!”

Anyway I didn’t get an opportunity to comment live on the radio about the time it will take the male astronauts to ‘park’ the ISS in orbit (which is why I am writing it here)…

but an additional interesting fact about all this docking business is that even after the Dragon attaches itself to the space station it will be another 2 hours before the crew that are there open the actual air lock doors and let the 2 NASA astronauts in.

That does seem kind of mean; but I am sure there is a very valid reason for it, like humans needing oxygen or some other small issue haha.

So yeah, if you have seen photos of their new suits you probably,like me, went ‘oooh, they are snazzy’. And theres a good reason for that, they were actually designed by the Hollywood costume designer who worked on Captain America (can’t comment; haven’t seen any of these films) and the Batman V Superman film (omg this movie was terrible, I honestly think I could have written a better plot; even with all my going off on tangents! But Ben Affleck was good in it, Henry Cavill was ok.)…

but yes these new, snazzy suits which make the astronauts look a lot less ‘orange is the new black’ are NOT suitable for spacewalks. They will only be used while riding in the Dragon capsule. The Boeing team have their own space suits too for their crews. I haven’t done much research on these so I don’t know if they have been designed by someone who works in movies but I can tell you they are a nice shade of blue.

The SpaceX suits are named the ‘Starman’ suits by the way, and like I explained earlier this is because that was the name of the Bowie inspired mannequin who I assume was the first wearer in actual Space.

Also, fun fact the helmets of the Starman suits were 3D printed… which means if the file is online (it should be cos Elon doesn’t really need the money) and you have a 3D printer you could print your very own helmet for all your space faring/covid avoiding needs!

So yes, assuming the Dragon crew do launch today at 622pm/722pm/822pm UK time they will be visible from the South of England with the NAKED eye (maybe!)

As they chase down the ISS for those 19 or so hours they will be orbiting the Earth … now the Dragon capsule is much much smaller than the ISS itself so it will be very very faint. And when it first passes over in view from South England it will be 9ish so still too light to see, but at 10.15pm (pretty sure this time is right as it’s from Heavensabove ) you MIGHT be able to see it with your EYES.

What is the one reality you need to come to peace with?

Well, lockdown has been great for this. It’s been a great leveller. This reality; it’s really something actually.


Hmm, I guess I’ve realised I don’t actually need all those things I thought I needed.

I don’t need more; I already have everything I need.

(I realise that I am speaking from a place of privilege here; I have a nice roof over my head and a garden and I’m in this lovely bubble here in the South Wales Valleys where neither me or my parents have to go out and see people. We can do all our work out of the confines of this dinning room).

But, yeah, as long as you have your health, and your family are ok and you can contact them and your friends. That’s really all you need.

I’ve realised too, that I really didn’t appreciate how special it was to be near actual people and have actual face to face interactions in reality. IRL!

My aspirations and ambitions for the future have actually shifted as a result of this experience though.

I don’t feel in a rush to get back to my old life.

Of course I wan’t to go out to meals with my friends and play roller derby and go swimming with the triathlon club… but knowing I can’t go back into schools and interact with young people in real life means I am really quite content with this work from Wales life (again I realise I am very lucky and privileged here!).

But, with regards to life ambitions. I’ve never been someone who had a 5 year plan. I was never someone with a 6 month plan either to be honest. I only ever strived to have some travelling adventure in the diary to look forward to and that was enough for me to be content…so it does feel really weird that my calendar literally has no future travel plans in it. I can’t even put in a date for when I go back to England…

I’ve always been a ‘live in the moment’ type of person, which I think maybe makes this whole situation a bit easier for me. For example, I’ve never really aspired to get promoted in work, or to have more responsibility; some people might say that’s because I am a woman and we aren’t confident in our own abilities and we hold ourselves back where a man wouldn’t.

The truth is I am confident that I could work at a higher grade, but I don’t want to. I did a PhD, not because I really wanted to, just because I didn’t know what else I should do. I was told that because I got a first it was the natural next step. I never stopped to think about the extreme effect four years of PhD would have on my mental health. I don’t regret my PhD but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend lol.

For me trying to get promoted and have more responsibility it’s not worth the stress. I’m so grateful for my PhD because without it I wouldn’t have been able to have this job; this job that I love. But I still find this whole ‘Dr’ thing embarrassing. I don’t feel like I deserve it and I don’t like using it, again I realise this embarrasment and awkwardness surrounding my title might because I am woman, or maybe it is just my personality. But I don’t want people to see I am a ‘Dr’ and feel like I am trying to say I am better than them, or smarter than them. I am just stubborn, that’s the only reason I have a PhD. But I digress, the stress, the responsibility of working ‘at a higher level’ it’s just not worth it for the effect it will have on my mental health; I’m cool with this level :P.

Life is short and I have enough money to be happy; besides I am getting anxious now just at the thought of having more meetings about stuff, even if they are virtual lol.

I like to just get on and do the stuff, I actually really like doing the thing.

The real problem for me is being forced to make a plan, to sit down and think and not just throw myself in, head long. I need constant supervision, to stop me going off on tangents (probably the ADHD). I like doing all the things, but I have to be careful as I do get easily overwhelmed and then it gets so bad I can’t do ANYTHING…

But, If you too are a ‘grafter’ that’s nothing to be ashamed of. In the end, we can’t all be high level managers, someone has to actually DO the things!

Society says that at 35 I should have a husband, and kids and a mortgage; that after 10 years in a job I should be promoted and be line managing someone, and have more responsibilities. The reality is that I am currently single and back living with my parents…society would perhaps say I am failing…but I dunno, I don’t think I am, and that’s all that matters.

And anyway, the reality is we are in a pandemic and people are dying. Those people didn’t get a choice. I still have a choice about how I want to live, so I will make the most of it.

I will make the most of my reality, of this moment, of this life; while I still can.

Final thoughts on this reality

Don’t let society dictate your timeline.

Decide what you want your reality to be. Make peace with it.

The only expectations you have to live up to are your own.

(Can you tell I have just been watching series 1 of After Life ? :D)

What do you appreciate most about your life right now?

So I haven’t written this blog or done a morning journalling task for a while. What can I say? Lockdown life is distracting. I have actually taken up bullet journalling though, so I am doing some form of journalling and creating, which I am sure is helping keep me sane.

To answer the question from the Day 4 of journalling prompts above… I am very very appreciative of being alive and being free to live my life how I wish. We are in the middle of a pandemic, but even on working days I have the freedom to structure each day as a chose. I am with family (even if we do bicker a lot lol) and I appreciate them and this roof over my head and the company of these beautiful doggies, who show unconditional love and are constantly hilarious.

It’s what week 7 or 8? of lockdown … and the message here in Wales is still very much ‘Stay Home’ …which I am glad of because ‘Stay Alert’; like you may as well not bother with a message at all. hmmmm. I do appreciative many more things…

I think I will do a Matt Haig inspired list of what I appreciate most right now (P.s. I thoroughly recommend you read his books, specifically ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, ‘Notes from a Nervous Planet’ and ‘The Humans’ – the message of these books has been so useful to me during lockdown in order to cope with the anxiety of it all and to really get some perspective- I plan on reading them all again over the next few days!):

  1. Being alive ūüôā
  2. Being with my family and not alone in lockdown.
  3. Having my own room, with a well stocked book shelf and comfy bed.
  4. Cups of tea and decaf coffee with oat milk.
  5. Unconditional love from my 3 doggo siblings.
  6. Reading more. Right now I am reading ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins which is also really good (a quote from this book is below).
  7. Having a garden and being able to sit in it, especially when the Sun is shinning.
  8. Looking at the sky.
  9. This dining room, and dinning room table. A separate space to do my working from home and my bullet journalling.
  10. Working internet so I can zoom with my friends, write this blog, google facts and do my Spanish lessons on Teams.
  11. A whole conservatory to do fitness workouts in, decked with weights and a rowing machine. Specifically enjoying the ‘Les Mills On Demand workouts’… I’ve even tried the ballet inspired one and the boxing one is good for those days when I am in ‘a right mood’; so much to chose from.
  12. Being able to just put on my trainers and go running (I’ve been able to do this 3 times a week through lockdown but my friend in Italy was only allowed out for the first time yesterday to go for a run :/).
  13. The fact I can actually do my job from home and that I now actually have time to do the data analysis and read the evaluation forms from past events. This has been heart warming. Especially the comments from children regarding what they have learned in the planetarium shows. I often don’t get time to actually look back or celebrate the work I do; so it’s great that this situation has given me the chance to take a moment and assess and be proud of my work and not be rushing to the next event.
  14. The freedom to dream about future adventures and have hope. To be in a situation where I have the choice to decide which bits of ‘this life’ I want to keep when life goes back to ‘normal’, and which bits I do not.

I’ll finish this post with a quote I just read in my book. It felt very apt and really hit home to me. It’s a quote which shows how powerful reading is; how it can allow you to live another life to the one you are currently experiencing. It really can take you anywhere in the world and make you into anyone. You can travel in books, even if you cannot travel in real life. Reading books can be something you do to survive and this message seems very relevant in these ‘strange’ times:

‘Books were my companions’…’I am grateful I could learn something, no matter how I came to do so. It was a way to know that lives could change, that they could be filled with adventures. There were times I pretended I was a lady in a novel or a romance myself. It might sounds foolish. But it made me feel part of a world that otherwise I could never belong to.’

Sara Collins from ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’