brain chat · Health

On slowing down, whether you want to or not

I am writing to you from the grass on a little green in town. SUMMER IS HERE. I did realise – after I’d scanned the area carefully and sat down – that I was right next to a fag end, and it might be about to rain, but still. SUMMER. I even brought coffee and sandwiches:

hand holding black travel mug with a tarot design reading 'coffee'
I love this mug! My friend S got it for me for Christmas. Under the hand guard it says ‘tarot readings’

Today I am thinking about slow living, and how I really like it. Sitting on the grass with a sandwich, metaphorically and actually, is not a bad way to spend half an hour. For anyone who doesn’t read The Guardian, slow living is just… taking your time. Less rushing between tasks or jobs or places, more sitting about and collect your thoughts or enjoying the place you’re currently in before going to the next one. It’s the fifteen course meze of lifestyles, not the sausage roll and tea from Greggs while the meter’s running.* I think I’m better at slow living than fast living, a bit because my brain is alwaysmovingreallyquicklyanditgetsoverwhelmingandineedtotakethetimetocalmitdown. A bit because my health takes a lot more work to maintain than I realised a few years ago. If you’re new, hi, I have hypermobility and it causes joint and muscle issues, and IBS (fun fact, hypermobility might cause IBS. The gift that keeps on giving!). Anyway, yeah, physically rushing risks putting out my bad knee or pulling my back, eating quickly gives me a stomachache. I spend a lot of time in Pilates classes doing damage control. I can’t move straight away after eating, which is why I’m staring down pigeons as it begins to threaten to drizzle.

So today I’m reflecting on how I actually quite like having to slow down. I’m good at getting a coffee and reading a book. I’m slow at reading nonfiction, so I take forever to pick my way through set reading. I’m good at sitting round the kitchen table and chatting over dinner. Even when my brain is busy and I’m working on four projects and have eight upcoming deadlines, I’m not too stressed as long as I know I’ve got time in the day to get some fresh air or go and be a human with my friends. Enjoying taking my time is probably why I like the Mediterranean so much. Even though a lot of life has to be quick-quick, there’s no harm in taking your time with other things. Like bureaucracy.

Are you someone else who likes to do things a bit slowly-slowly? Let me know! And, if you’re in the UK or somewhere with an astronomical cost of living, tell me: how do you balance slow living with making a living? I was thinking about time the other day, and how we all have the same 24 hours, and I could in theory work A jobs over B hours and earn C money. But I don’t have the same 24 hours as someone who doesn’t need to exercise religiously, or who doesn’t take hours to read academic journals. I used to think I did, and trying to keep pace made me ill so often that I eventually figured out I can’t keep up with the 60 hour week people. So I actually have D hours in the day into which I have to fit everything that isn’t ‘keeping my body in one piece.’ I can’t really do the health stuff around the uni work or the jobs, because that’s when one of my joints says FRANCESCA, I’M GOING ON STRIKE. And then I am stuck in bed with multiple hot water bottles, some paracetamol and a bad mood. For ages.

I really need to stand up and move around now -I timed it perfectly to finish my coffee and I’m smug – so I will go and walk for a bit, then upload this. Shout if you’re a slow living human! Or a fast living human. Either way, tell me your secrets…

Look after yourselves!


*I had not-enough sleep, I can’t tell if the meze/Greggs comparison is the greatest thing I’ve ever written on the stupidest.

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Complaints · February 2016 · Food

Stories From the Bathroom Floor

In my notes about what I could potentially discuss on Indifferent Ignorance is a bullet pointed list called ‘food/exercise’. It’s purple. I think I wrote it last summer. It’s part of a bigger list and it includes the phrase ‘shit no one explains’. It’s a lil in joke with future me, because I’m referring to IBS. I’ve never really talked about it before because nobody wants to read about other people’s digestion issues. I don’t even like to read about my own, and I have kept many a food-related diary over the years. But one of the reasons I haven’t posted this week is that I’ve been dying having a lot of baths and grinding my teeth about a stomachache that won’t fucking go away and when I thought about it, I’ve learnt a lot about IBS and if there’s one thing that distracts me from being unwell, it’s talking about myself under the pretence of helping others. So here is an anecdotal piece of maybe-advice about Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

On Tuesday I ate a salad. It was a really great salad. I am usually a garnish-and-vegan-mayo kind of person whenever someone serves lettuce but I was in a farm shop and salad was the only thing on the menu I could digest anyway, so I ate the lot plain. Because it was fresh from a farm shop and there was cheese with it, I was happy (heads up: I’m not lactose intolerant. My gut has aligned with my tastebuds’ love of smoky cheese.) Within half an hour I was less happy. In fact I was lying on my bed asking God for an implement with which I could remove my stomach. This was because, while dazzled by the farm shop’s cute whitewashed walls and organic produce, I ate the onion that came with the salad and one of those schmancy totally locally-produced apple juices. Which brings me to IBS Lesson Number One:

A large part of living with Irritable Bowl is learning about your trigger foods. Two of mine – wheat and eggs – were helpfully discovered by a pharmacist via a blood test when I was 16 and thought I was a Ceoliac (that is a story for another time). I discover the others by a process of trial, error and vomiting. On Tuesday, ravenous and feeling guilty about the two toffees I ate in the hairdresser’s, I forgot that the reason I leave raw onions on the plate every time I’m served them, and the reason I never drink fruit juice, is that they both give me varying degrees of stomachaches. So I’ve spent the rest of the week taking medicine before I eat, cooking porridge even more than usual and updating my list of stupid things I’ve done in 2016.

How did you get into my bathroom??? from

In the spirit of honesty, I should probably add that ‘stomachaches’ can include but aren’t limited to: stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation, puking, flatulence, shaking, excessive sweating, belching and acid reflux. If you’re really lucky, you get more than one in one go!

There is TV to watch and Etsy to attend to, so I will leave this here. Maybe next time I will tell you all about how I spent Super Saturday with my head down a toilet (see above photo for reference) or share a graphic description of the sweats. Do other IBS sufferers get the sweats? Do non-IBS sufferers get the sweats? Is there a technical term for the sweats?!

Let me know.