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Shortcutting… Blisters

30 Jun

I have very, very big feet. I’m too embarrassed to give you an exact size, but suffice it to say that they’re pretty enormous. Anyway, unable to accept that I’m basically a freak of nature, I still shop in normal shops, and just buy the biggest size on offer, which is rarely large enough. (In my defence, they so pwetty!) Anyhow, it is rare for me to go through a day without crunched-up toes, aching soles, and a massive pair of blisters to boot. Here’s how I’ve learnt to deal with them:

1) Avoid walking whenever possible. The more you move, the more friction in your shoes, so try and stay as still as possible for minimum pain.

2) Find opportunities to take off shoes. I’m not saying you should keep taking your shoes off – what’s the point of getting them if you ain’t going to flaunt them – but do let your feet breathe every now and then.

3) Wear Compede. These blister plasters are massively over-priced, but if my advice has come too late and you’ve already fallen victim to the dreaded blister, give these gel-y-ish patches of healing a shot. Regular plasters also ease the pain.

4) Get trainers. I have a pair of Converse that I wear whenever I’m not in public (and often when I am) which are almost (is it even possible?) TOO big, so my feet get chill time.

5) Break shoes in. Before you wear them to a public place, it’s often a good idea to wear them around a bit to break them in/ prepare yourself for the pain to come.

Heal those heels and give it some sole!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

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Shortcutting… Stress

25 Jun

I’m not going to lie: I am super stressed at the moment (those italics meant emphasis not sarcasm). I won’t go into detail about all the little things I have to do at the moment at risk of boring you to death but I can say it’s a helluva lot. There are lots of metaphors I could use about drowning or climbing mountains but I’m sure you’ve all been here so let’s just get down to the dealing with it part.

1) Write a to-do list. It’s good to see that the list is finite, even if it’s pretty bloody long. Also, there’s nothing better than ticking things off. I sometimes write things down that I’ve done already just to tick them off. Yes. It’s that much of a rush.

2) Have breaks. I know it’s tempting to just keep on trucking but in my experience, the longer you plough on for, the less snow you clear at a time. It’s as though your plough keeps shrinking until it’s teeny tiny and you can barely shift the snow of your front step. Okay, that was a weird metaphor but you get my drift.

3) Have a bath with lavender bath salts. I know I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but you haven’t done it yet have you? Naughty. Go do it now. You will feel more relaxed than Father Christmas on Boxing Day. (I do apologise for all these wintry metaphors in summer, I’m sure I have some deep-set psychological issues or something to explain it.)

4) Get rid of distractions. You know my post on procrastination? Ignore that. That was a joke. You don’t actually want to procrastinate do you? Do you? Sorry, I’m a bit highly strung. But yeah, try not to put off important stuff with less important stuff, like eating, doodling, checking your blog stats…

5) When you do finish a big task, celebrate in some way: do a little dance, treat yourself to an oat and raisin cookie (a personal fave), or just do a little YouTube surfing. Or should I say snowboarding…

Hillary to base camp: we have reached the summit!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

Shortcutting… Early Mornings

10 Jun

Okay, I’m not going to pretend I have to wake up at some ungodly hour tomorrow morning – it’s not exactly a time that deserves sympathy, and is in fact probably a time many would consider a lie in. But in my defence, I would like to say that it is two and a half hours earlier than I have been waking up all week, so it is still going to be quite painful. And even if tomorrow doesn’t exactly qualify, I have had enough genuine early mornings in my time to feel in a position to offer some advice.

Now, I am a person who needs a hell of a lot of sleep. Unless I’ve had about nine and a half hours (which is pretty rare), I always feel really tired in the morning. Less than six hours and I can barely function. Having said that, I do think that a tiny bit of sleep is often worse than no sleep at all, so there is a certain time of morning where I personally would rather just not sleep at all. If I have to wake up at some time before about 2.30, I tend to just stay awake and maybe watch a film or something until then. There’s nothing worse than waking up about five minutes after you get to sleep.

The worst time of morning in my opinion is that 3.00 – 4.30 slot where staying awake is virtually impossible but you still can’t get enough sleep to be anywhere near functional. If you have to be up at this time, there is little I can do for you, except advise you to get absolutely everything prepared the night before – not only does it give you that eensy bit more sleep, it also means you are less prone to making those not-enough-sleep mistakes like forgetting your wallet/ passport/ trousers.

Any time after 4.30 and you should be able to get a little bit of sleep; at least enough to get you through the morning, although still try and get stuff ready the night before.

To maximise sleep I’d recommend not sleeping that much the night before so you’re tired enough to sleep the night in question, although I know some people favour the storing-up-on-sleep method. Another thing I find quite sleep-inducing is a warm bath before bed, preferably with some kind of lavender stuff going on. Sounds kinda stupid but it really makes me feel sleepy!

For more advice on the subjects of sleeping and dealing with tiredness, please feel free to take a look at my posts Shortcutting… Sleeping and Shortcutting… Tiredness (I should really figure out how to link to them from here). Aside from that, just have a strong cuppa in the morning and try not to collapse at an awkward moment!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

Shortcutting… Tiredness

2 Jun

Okay: my phone battery’s low and my WiFi access is temperamental, so let’s make this quick.

I’m currently running on empty, rather like my phone, (so please excuse me if I don’t quite live up to my usual sparkling wit) and it has been difficult not to just collapse into bed and shut out the world, but I have found that there are ways to get through it. If you just can’t sleep head to my post Shortcutting… Sleep but if you have no choice but to power through, then stay right here.

Firstly, minimise movement. Any muscle contracted is energy wasted, so don’t do anything you don’t desperately need to. I also have a theory that eating loads should help as you’re getting more energy but this isn’t based on the most sound of scientific data so you might want to look into that before doing it. Also, shut your eyes whenever there’s an opportunity, i.e. whenever it’s not 100% necessary to have them open (so driving, cooking etc are excluded): I find that it makes me feel that bit less tired to just ever so slightly drift off. Finally, don’t stay up all night blogging. Your readers will understand (right?). On that note, good night (or if you’re not in a country where it’s night time, have a nice day)!

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

P.S. Went to that Coldplay show I mentioned yesterday evening and it was AWESOME!!!

Shortcutting… The Countryside

25 May

I am currently in the countryside, where the air is pure and clear etc. etc. Being a city girl through and through, my lungs can hardly cope with the lack of dust mites and pollution. It’s tough. But to get through it, I’ve compiled a short list of ways to make the pureness and clean-ness just that little bit more bearable.

Firstly, I find that if you inhale just that little bit deeper, you’ll get a hint of ‘eau de cow pat’, which is slightly reminiscent of the ‘eau de pollution’ from back home.

Secondly, dress for walking. I know it’s hard to put away the stilettos but proper walking boots make it easier to forget the mud, and if you close your eyes you can almost persuade yourself it’s concrete.

Thirdly, learn to identify the stinging nettle. It will become your worst enemy throughout your stay, a substitute for the broken glass and other perils of the city. But one pro is that you can almost always find the antidote nearby, in the form of big, dark green, leafy plants called doc leaves. Who said plasters don’t grow on trees?

And one final piece of advice: don’t stray too far from civilisation. This could lead to you losing signal, which would mean no contact with the outside world for up to half an hour! Oh and if you do go hiking (in the search for a Starbucks no doubt), bring a map, just in case. And learn to read it.

I’ll try my best to stay connected for the duration of my stay here…

Keep shortcutting,
Zoe

Shortcutting… The Summer

23 May

At risk of ‘jinxing it’, I am going to acknowledge the arrival of our dear Sun, after weeks of our less dear rain, here in London. Having barely retracted our umbrellas, we’re now frantically rummaging for our sunglasses and our incredibly chic wide-brimmed sunhats (I’m sensitive okay!) as we set out into summer. But there’s so much more to summer than just sunglasses and hats isn’t there? It’s a whole mentality, an entirely different way of living, and, come September, the population can be divided into summer winners and summer losers. If you want to ensure your place in the former category, then read on…

1) That tan. I’m going to assume you wouldn’t be here if you already knew how to get the perfect tan. If you don’t it’s probably time to accept that it ain’t going to happen, not naturally anyway. But don’t despair: there are some alternative options. I really don’t like the idea of sunbeds – is it really worth risking skin cancer to look like a glass of Tropicana? Instead, I’d say spray is the way, if you really want to tan, and you can even get these tinted moisturizer type things which are less long-lasting, and therefore a bit more forgiving of mistakes. But as a non-tanner myself, I prefer to stubbornly repeat the mantra ‘tanned skin is damaged skin’, and just pile on the factor 50. I like to think that the fact that my skin doesn’t tan means that a tan wouldn’t suit me anyway. But definitely avoid that burn at all costs.

2) Not passing out. The heat can be hot. I am very susceptible to headaches, hence the hat, and I often find the heat of the summer nigh on unbearable. But there are some ways to keep it just about bearable. Firstly, dress for summer. Even if you feel that the revealing clothes of summer aren’t really your thang, I can assure you that they are more your thang than sweating in a heavy black overcoat. Also, bring a bottle of water around you. Now I know warm water isn’t the most thirst-quenching drink, but if you try freezing the water first, then it will gradually melt throughout the day, so you have constant access to cool water. Yum. Oh and most importantly of all, find the nearest place with air conditioning and go there a lot. It’s the only true relief from the incessant rays of summer.

3) Holidays. If you’re lucky enough to be going away, packing is always pretty difficult. My first piece of advice would be: assume you can buy NOTHING at the hotel/ in the village/ wherever you’re going. I always leave a few things off my list, saying naively: “I’ll get it once I’m there.” No you won’t, former self, no. you. won’t. If you make a mistake as foolish as this, you will spend your entire summer holiday without sunglasses/ mosquito repellent/ [insert essential thing here]. Secondly, do not pack light. Try and bring as many clothes as you can possibly stuff into your suitcase, because you will find when you get to your destination that you actually don’t like half of your clothes. This half cannot be predicted beforehand: it will be utterly random. So just bring the lot. Finally, check if there’s¬†WiFi¬†wherever you’re going. If there isn’t don’t go. You won’t be able to read my blog.

Be a summer winner this year.

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

Shortcutting… Sleeping

18 May

Everyone around me seems to be suffering from insomnia at the moment, and it’s an issue that’s really been keeping me awake at night. I can’t help but worry about all the poor, sleep-deprived folk who are somehow tired at all the wrong times. I’ve tried dishing out advice wherever possible, but I think it’s time I reached a wider audience. My dear readers: it’s bed-time.

There are several ways to reach the land of dreams. The most obvious and reliable would be sleeping pills and/ or a glass of wine or two, but I’ve heard that drugs and alcohol are frowned upon by some, so let’s look at some alternatives…

You’ve no doubt heard that counting sheep is a great way to fall asleep. I agree that this is an extremely boring activity, but not a ‘fall asleep’ kind of boring, just a ‘stop counting’ kind of boring. Hmm, back to square one.

It’s certainly true that the harder you try to fall asleep, the more difficult it is. I would suggest distracting yourself with music or a book (I’ve found celebrity autobiographies particularly sleep-inducing), or even something more productive like writing (although be sure to proof-read in the morning; things sound very different in the light of day).

If we regard the battle to fall asleep as a war against the body, it becomes clear that, as brute strength will not prevail, more underhanded tactics are necessary. One of my top strategies is imagining myself in a different place with a random assortment of characters, thus tricking my body into thinking it’s already dreaming. Super sneaky, I know.

And if all else fails, these insomnia-related jokes might bore you to sleep:

Did you hear about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac? He lies awake at night wondering if there’s a Dog.

Having trouble sleeping? Try lying on the edge of the bed: you’ll soon drop off.

Keep shortcutting,
Zzzzz