Changing The World: One Book Date At A Time

PieLiving with a chronic physical and mental illness had led me to spend a lot of time managing feeling poorly and struggling. Having spent time in hospital, including a year as an inpatient on an eating disorder ward, I learnt a lot about self care and soothing myself when things are hard. Gradually I realised that I could come up with an idea that combined my love (and the boost it gives to my wellbeing) of craft, vintage and reading to come up with something that might help others who are going through a challenging time. #DateWithABook was born and it has continued to grow from there onwards.

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me– C.S. Lewis.

Illness can lead you to feel really isolated. You can face days where you are really limited in the amount of energy you have, or motivation to do the things you would love to be doing. This was one of the starting ideas for my book dates. I wanted to reach out to people who might be finding things tough and offer them something to help them through that moment. I’m a lover of everything old and vintage and the idea of rehoming a beautiful old book felt like the best way to go. Giving these books a new lease of life whilst helping others just seemed perfect! The idea is that a book date is a way to reclaim date night and rest and rejuvenate with a hot drink and a cosy homely coaster with your set.

We read to know we’re not alone– William Nicholson, Shadowlands.

So, what do I hope to achieve with my little book dates? Well… quite a lot! I believe that sharing a #datewithabook can be a huge act of kindness, offering someone who is struggling a piece of calm, distraction and an excuse to have a night off. Or it can be a perfect piece of self care for yourself, to help with the stresses that we face day to day. A date with a book can be a way of reconnecting with someone who needs some extra love or showing you care when you can’t ‘fix’ a situation someone is going through.

Praise for #datewithabook

I absolutely loved recieving my date with a book parcel in the post. Kate made one up based on my likes for me to enjoy on maternity leave. Good value for money and such a wonderful idea for a treat to yourself or for gifts to others. Will be ordering from her again in the future.- Jenny


I received my date with a book yesterday and it’s wonderful. I almost didn’t want to open it as it looked so pretty. I’m currently about to sit down and start reading. I will definitely be using you again. It is such a lovely idea.– Lindsey

Fantastic idea. Love this. Date with a Book. Something really different, original & unique. Brought for a friend, who Loved it to & has been showing friends. Whole thing arrives Beautifully packaged in soft tissue paper. Makes a Wonderful gift for Any occasion. Or No occasion at all.. Just to say, Thinking of you. Hello. Etc.– Annette

Such a unique idea! It was very exciting to receive the package as you don’t know which book you will get and I was not disappointed! I received a book from an author who I’ve never heard of, and I cannot wait to read it! Prompt delivery too!!– Bisma

There are lots of different #datewithabook sets available in my Conscious Crafties and Etsy stores. I’m just in the process of a big restock to make way for a beautiful array of Christmas gifts, ideal for the person who has everything. Use the discount code BLOG10 to get 10% off any orders over £10. I also have a #datewithabook advent calendar full of literary themed items.



You’ve got the love I need to see me through

So… as a mental health blogger, I have always alluded to the fact I have experiences of mental health issues but haven’t been fully open about it all. It just wasn’t the right time and I think there’s always a right time for these kind of things, and that seems like now. Plus, it’s a chance to let my friends know where I’m going to be for the next month and a half. 
I’ve decided that being a human can be tricky, there’s no manual that lets you know how to deal with different situations and sometimes it would be really lovely if there was something to refer back to when times are hard. I’ve developed some rather maladaptive coping mechanisms over the years and it’s surprising to see how quickly the odd things you do every now and again can catch up with you. It can take a while before you think your little quirks are actually turning into a bit of a problem. 
I hate labels with an almighty burning passion. I think, especially for my variety of maladaptiveness, a label can be something that burdens you. I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable criteria of disordered eating. It’s interesting that when you have a difficulty with food, the thing that becomes key to whether you’re going to receive support and treatment is your BMI. Now if I ruled the world, BMI could go and die in a hole, BMI is a stupid measure! It doesn’t take into account muscle mass and hydration, whether you’ve peed or not… and above all it doesn’t measure anything within your head. The key to an eating disorder is that in reality it’s nothing about food or weight at all. The food behaviours and weight changes are a symptom of an underlying problem… whether that’s control, low self esteem, OCD… anything really. It makes me cross that the system we currently have relies on people being very poorly and underweight to receive the right treatment, I think treatment should start early and work to help people BEFORE they reach that point… but I suppose that’s an argument for another time. 
So… I went from worrying a little about my weight, to being totally encompassed mentally and physically with an eating disorder. One of the ways I’ve tried to describe it to friends, family and professionals before is like that kind of conscience feeling when you leave the house and you know you’ve forgotten something; that feeling deep in your stomach that something is amiss but you can’t quite put your finger on what it might be. Well imagine that but the only way you can get rid of it is to place all of your self worth on what you’re going to eat or not going to eat, what you weigh or should weigh or did weigh or will weigh… then imagine that feeling being the background of everything. That’s what it’s like to have an eating disorder… of course I’m just speaking for myself right now, everyone’s experiences are different. But I think it is quite common for eating disorders to become very overpowering, the illusion of control controls you. It’s like it’s the filter in which everything in life has to pass through. To be quite honest it’s exhausting. 
Now my friends and family are bloody amazing! They’ve put up with my ‘battiness’ for such a long time and have just been there for me and loved me throughout it, something I can’t thank them enough for. I’m better than I was, but there’s still a long way for me to go to stop reverting to my coping mechanisms as soon as life seems a bit scary. So I’ve been offered a really amazing opportunity, to spend some time in an inpatient program to have some really intensive treatment… fingers crossed I’ll come out in 6 weeks and be a lot better than I am. I’m not content with being able to function WITH my eating disorder, I want to kick it’s arse and be done with it. I’m bored of being poorly now, I want my life back and I’ve got a hell of a lot to be looking forward to that just isn’t compatible with anorexia. So… starting on Monday 4th August, I’ll be hanging out in ‘food prison’ for 6 weeks… hopefully I’ll make the most of my little stint in rehab and come out and start the next chapter of my life with all the people I love and care about. 
Before I finish I just want to dispel a few eating disorder myths that are just pants: 
  • Eating disorders are NOT just for white british teenage girls- anyone at any age and gender can be affected 
  • You don’t have to be visibly underweight to have an eating disorder- my rather distasteful joke has always been that I am a ‘fat anorexic’. You can be very poorly and outwardly still look ok. Weight is not a measure of how unwell someone is and is definitely not something you can use to tell if someone has an eating disorder
  • Eating disorders are an illness and it’s not something to be ashamed of- I spent a long time feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t deal with food properly and that I wasn’t able to be ‘normal’. A massive part of me getting better has been to be able to be honest and say… actually I’m not ok, but I’m getting better. 
  • You don’t have to treat someone with an eating disorder differently, unless you fancy giving them extra love and hugs… thats totally ok! I’m still me, I’m just poorly right now, but I won’t be forever. 
  • Recovery is possible! And I’m going to do it! 
I urge anyone who is worried about their eating to seek help as soon as they can and if you don’t get it, keep asking until you do. No-one deserves to be poorly! 
Love Kate xx
You can get support from the eating disorder charity B-eat and also Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Tomorrow I shall be more like my labrador

I’ve become a little too addicted to Buzzfeed at the moment. I’m not ashamed to say it… it’s a fact. I just love all the interesting and useless facts and funny things that exist in the world and come together on the magical site that is Buzzfeed.

The other day… whilst browsing something along the lines of ‘cute animals that are fluffy’… or something along those lines… I found this gem!

As I read the caption alongside the picture of this adorable labrador (I’m not biased much of course….) I melted at the cuteness of it! I thought about my own labs… pictures below… (Meg doesn’t look this cute anymore…. but for everyone’s positive wellbeing I felt it imperative to share her cute puppiness with the world!)  

Meg and Bert demonstrate this beautifully. Especially Bertie who hates the car. He looks at you before jumping into the boot with a sad look that clearly asks if he really has to get in the car. Despite his obvious worry and the fact that once in the car he practically melts into the floor of the boot until the journey is over, Bertie places all of his trust in us and still gets into the car. He trusts that we will keep him safe and take him somewhere nice, on a little adventure. 

As I was reading this and thinking about my own dogs; I started to think about how this would be a benefit in life. How actually taking the labrador approach and just looking at the world in it’s simplest form without all the complications might actually be beneficial for us and our own positive wellbeing. If I think about myself… something which I am not all that comfortable doing… I realise I spend a huge amount of my time overthinking absolutely everything and anything I can. It’s something that often leads to a huge amount of anxiety and above all a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!!!!! If I lived more in the style of Meg and Bert and just accepted things happening as they come and think about the positive outcome at the end rather than any discomfort and yuck along the way… then perhaps I’d feel better overall. 
Therefore my goal is to be more like Meg and Bert… fingers crossed this won’t extend to sniffing butts and peeing outside… perhaps that would be a little too far to go!