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.



Follow your heart, it’s knows the way

Visiting York today was a little like torture. The city was filled with excitable York Graduands embarking on the next step of their lives. As I meandered through on the way to a Mental health app them I felt somewhat stuck. I felt a longing to be graduating with them, as I was painfully aware that it was my fourth missed graduation I was surrounded by. It was a stark contrast to seeing my CPN and discussing the last year, 10 months of which had been spent as an inpatient. 

My moment of moping was soon replaced with a feeling of uncertainty. A mixture of longing to achieve and prove myself but also of realization that there is a chance that I may not decide to do my final year of my degree (depending how it goes when I return) but that if I decided not to do it, perhaps that’s ok too. 

If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes the obvious paths in life aren’t the ones that lead to the best bits and it’s completely ok to deviate from the path you thought you were going to follow. I spent a long time believing my degree was the be all and end all, leading me to try to endlessly slog through until I just wasn’t well enough to carry on. Having that pressure taken away really helped me to see it in a different way. I’ve worked hard and gained so much from being at York and that won’t be taken away from me. Hopefully I can see how Uni goes and heaven forbid, even enjoy my last year in more of a mindful way, that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t achieve monumentally great things, the key is that it’s a positive experience. 

My little piece of advice, gleaned from my mini mope, is that it’s actually ok to take the path that your heart chooses and you’ll get back to the path even if it feels hopeless. 
P.s thank you to all of my wonderful family and friends who’s encouragement and love and support is just too fab for words ❤️

Just keep swimming

I think I’ve been looking for a eureka moment in recovery when I wake up one day and think… ‘jolly good, that’s me recovered now’. I think, coming into an inpatient program, set me off thinking that I would defeat my eating disorder and be rid of it before I left. The scary reality is that I will be leaving this program with my eating disorder, it’s not going to be completely squished as I hoped it would. The difference is that I am a lot more resilient now and able to manage it in a way that is compatible with real life. I have friends and acquaintances who say they are ‘fully recovered’ and I really do believe them. I suppose it really feels like this journey isn’t going to be one that I reach the end of any time in the near future but one that’s more of a slow burn… chipping away at my eating disorder and continuing to shift the balance to the recovered life I want step by step, bite by bite. 

It’s so weird even contemplating a life without an eating disorder and a life out of hospital, where I’ve been for the last 7 months. It’s weird to imagine having stretches of free time to fill and manage and enjoy! I have a realistic view that life won’t be completely perfect and there will be times that are more challenging but hopefully the work I’ve done will keep me on the straight and narrow and on the right road to recovery. 
I also wanted to say hi to my lovely new followers! Please let me know if there are any blog topics you’d like me to talk about! 

International Happiness Day and a call to arms!

A picture of ‘The Retreat Grounds’ I took recently that makes me happy
Happy International Happiness Day

Yesterday was International Happiness Day, a day created by the UN to help people to remember the importance of happiness and wellbeing as ‘universal goals in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives’- UN 2012. I find it interesting to think of happiness and wellbeing being linked on such a large institutional scale, something that I think is vitally important but often missed.

I also wanted to test the water from some guest bloggers or interviews for my blog or even requested content or topics. My blog has gone over the 3800 views mark but I’m keen to drum up some more followers and interest in what I’m writing. I’d like to throw the option out there for some suggestions of where you’d like me to go next and also ask anyone who would be interested, if they could share my blog or drop me a quick follow as I’d love to get a bit more visible and hopefully get to 4000 views and a lot more followers by the end of April! So please drop me a comment if you’d be interested in getting involved. I’m also thinking of adding an ask button of some sort for ideas and questions! 

214 days later

Today, on the Friday of EDAW 2014 (eating disorders awareness week), is the 214th day of my admission into ‘The Retreat’ in York for my eating disorder. Today I managed to enter the hospital’s bake off competition with a cake I had made… at the last bake off, held in September, I had managed to only just stay in the room because of the strength of the smell of the cakes. A lot has changed in the last 31 (approx.) weeks. I would love to say that I’m recovered but that wouldn’t be true at all, but I can safely say I’m well on the start of the long journey that will  be my recovery from my eating disorder. Eating disorder awareness week is an important week of raising awareness and funds mainly for the UK eating disorder charity B-eat who do a really amazing job of supporting and helping those with eating disorders. Eating disorders are a condition that can affect anyone at any time in their lives. I have had the privaledge to complete my journey on the ‘Naomi program’ with some of the strongest women I have ever met. 

Eating disorders come in all different varieties. I think the common misconception is that eating disorders only affect young, white women who choose to restrict their food intake until they are very underweight. Weight isn’t an indication of how unwell a person is. During the time I have had my eating disorder, I have been a variety of different weights and even though I am now maintaining a healthy weight, I still very much have an eating disorder. 

For me, my eating disorder wasn’t really about the food or my weight. It has/had a lot more functions than I ever realised but I’m now learning a new way of life and slowly but surely I’m fighting for the life I want to be living and the future I want. I think of eating disorders like having a glass of fruit juice that’s been diluted. The sufferer is the fruit juice and their eating disorder is the water. The eating disorder dilutes the person until it’s hard to see them but with help they can find themselves again and gradually get more concentrated. The person is there, it can just be hard to see them. I’ve blogged about my eating disorder before and I encourage people to read and to learn more about eating disorders. They aren’t the stereotypes that are shown to us in the media e.t.c. they are so different from person to person and unfortunately there isn’t any one cure for them. 

Dog walking after Christmas, learning to love the ‘recovered me’

When I agreed to come on to the Naomi program, I had agreed to be here for 6 weeks. Six weeks has become what will be nine months as an inpatient, something I really didn’t think I needed when I started this part of my journey. It’s funny, I thought I could do a quick fix of treatment and be better. I am so glad I stayed and am on the way to completing the full Naomi program. I’ve learnt so much about myself and so many really useful skills that I really hope will equip me to be really recovered one day. I believe I will be and I urge anyone who is worried about their relationship with food to get help. It’s so worth it to not have to be completely controlled by food and be able to actually experience life. B-eat have recently completed some research into the cost of eating disorders in the UK and an overwhelming message is that earlier interventions and help would reduce the amount of money spent on eating disorder treatment… in other words, if you seek support earlier you can get well quicker. 

For me, recovery is becoming a norm that often I don’t really like but can manage. It’s not all rosy and nicey-nicey, sometimes it’s rubbish but the promise of it not being rubbish forever keeps me going. You can’t experience the good without having to experience the difficult too and I am sure I want to strive for the good! 

I’m tired so no doubt my blog tonight might be a bit of a waffly muddle, but hopefully I will have come close to doing justice to what an important topic this is!