Posted in ASMR, Health, Late Nights, Musings

Do you ASMR?

ASMR has grown in popularity rapidly over the last couple of years, but so have its detractors. It’s a contentious subject if you look at it with too sceptical an eye.

So, it stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which basically means you get tingles on the back of your head, sometimes down your arms, back, legs; even all over tingles.

We’ve all got experiences of it, my earliest memories are of being in primary school and sitting on the floor in front of the teacher and one of the girls behind me playing with my hair! (I had ridiculously long hair back then, it was impossible not to touch.) Maybe you’ve had a similar experience; at a hairdressers, getting a massage, eye test… the list goes on.

Essentially it seems to be brought on by personal attention, which is something that many of us are lacking in our hectic lives nowadays, so it can be a real treat to have someone take care of you. But really, how many of us can afford either the time or the money to get a facial everyday? Hardly any of us. That’s where the magic of YouTube comes in. There are quite literally thousands of ASMRtists on YT who in my entirely biased opinion are divine creatures spending their time trying to make little old ME feel better when I can’t sleep or I’m stressing out.

This brings us to the divisive part… these are real people who are talking softly to a video camera as if it were a real person. It goes further if you look for the spa treatments, Cranial Nerve Examinations, dental visits, and best friend sleep aids. They all use a variety of microphones which are binaural so it replicates your own ears, and while wearing headphones you really feel they are speaking directly into your ear. It’s this close, personal attention that helps to bring on the tingles – you genuinely feel you are in the same room as them.

Now, I would ask everyone who is unconvinced, please suspend your disbelief, buy into it just for a 40 minute session (with really good quality and comfortable headphones) and use your imagination a little… you’ll see a difference.

Maybe, maybe not. Some people have their minds firmly made up. Some people aren’t able to experience ASMR at all but I’ll use this moment to bring my point back to why I got into these videos in the first place.

CHRONIC INSOMNIA

I’ve been an insomniac for almost all of my adult life, from about 16 onward everything was a struggle related to sleep. I’d be unable to get up in the morning, be late for school despite living a 10 minute walk away, and generally feel crappy and crabby all day long. Then at night, instead of feeling tired enough to go to bed early after a whole long day of feeling tired, I couldn’t sleep. Thus began my routine of staying up late until I felt tired enough to go to sleep. This continued for many, many years.

It got to breaking point when I started university and had a full class load, noisy flatmates, and working 25 hours a week. Despite going back and forth to doctors, they insisted there was little they could do to help and tried some ‘strong antihistamines’ but gave me barely enough to really see if they worked. I tried Kalms, I tried herbal teas, I tried sorting my ‘sleep hygiene’ which I think is crap, presumptuous, and certainly of little use while living in a dorm or student accommodation (the bedroom is only for sleeping – no my bedroom is my everything). There is still a wide nonacceptance of listening to people with insomnia, my phrase was always “I’ve lost my sleepy”, I could feel like shit all day long from exhaustion, but still not be able to sleep AT ALL, not even a nap!

Second year at uni didn’t improve my sleeping habits much as my bedroom was on a main road and I’d sometimes stay up until it was quiet enough to sleep, but invariably there’d be just enough passing traffic to keep waking me up. It was around this time that I turned to YT for chill out videos, guided meditations, relaxing music which worked a bit for a time. However, lack of sleep leads to so many issues including for me, ear, nose, and throat issues so it stopped being as prudent to sleep with headphones in.

Fast forward a year and a bit, I was living in Spain in student accommodation again, and I swear Spaniards don’t sleep! All the apartments had metal staircases which were noisier than you’d believe and all the beds were squeaky metal frames. There was always some noise from somewhere.

That’s when I discovered ASMR.

I’ll even show you the exact video I first watched: My First ASMR

It’s by an ASMRtist called Olivia Kissper. She had only just uploaded maybe a couple of days before I stumbled across the video and it changed everything for me. Two and a half years later and I still listen to an ASMR video every night to help me sleep! (It’s also why I crack up if I don’t have a WIFI signal where I’m staying!)

I will eventually do a top list of my favourite ASMRtists and some videos which have helped me, I just wanted to post about WHY I enjoy ASMR and how I feel it has helped me.

I’ve listened to videos even while studying, writing, or working just to help me chill and focus on what I’m doing… they’ve even helped get rid of tension headaches too.

I understand that not everyone will be convinced, and that’s perfectly fine too, I just ask that you respect other people’s enjoyment of ASMR. I haven’t been asked to write this post and I’m not sponsored by anyone in the ASMR community, I’m just a long-time listener who wanted to share this with others who might be feeling the strain of insomnia too.

Ciao for now,

Eliza 🙂

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Posted in Late Nights, Musings

The Frustrations Part Deux

I spoke yesterday about the ‘invisible’ influences and pressures for people to get into relationships, have kids… essentially grow up I thought more about the times for me where the messages haven’t been so invisible.

Recently: I was at a funeral a few months ago for someone who meant a lot to me. I accepted that by going to the service I’d have to see people whose company I don’t particularly enjoy. In the car park after it, while most of us were swamped with emotion, I was informed that now university is over, I need to find myself a nice husband. Shock doesn’t quite describe how I felt, but despite my protestations that this was not something I wanted, the person repeatedly insisted the same thing again and again.

Is that something that one puts on a to-do list?

Then the other questions appear, ‘Is she dating?’, ‘Does she have a boyfriend?’ ‘Is she um… y’know…?’, ‘Doesn’t she want children?’, ‘Don’t you want to fall in love?’

Ugh, spare me! Aside from the gooey-smoochy gag that I can’t deal with, you want to know the truth? I literally cannot afford any of these things, not right now and unless I hit a miraculous windfall in the next while, it won’t be anytime soon. And I’m not compromising to ‘settle’ for someone just so my bills will be halved and we’ll be financially stuck together. Nope, not fair on anyone.

We’re supposed to be living in a time of awareness that it’s not that people don’t fit the boxes but that the boxes aren’t meant to fit people in them! Strides are being made for marriage equality, gender equality, recognition of more than archaic traditionalist ideals… so why isn’t choosing to be unmarried and child-free? Why is it still seen as something a person can be coaxed into doing, reality and finances be damned?

e x

Posted in Education, Languages, Musings, Relationships, University

The Frustrations of Life

I like my life.

None of us has a life manual to tell us what to do, when to do it, or if we are doing it right. I follow my gut instinct though it’s taken me years to actually trust it and believe it knows best, but it can be difficult when you see what everyone else is doing, or worse, when other people tell you you’re not living your life right. How even?!

I’ve spent the last five years at uni where I was a good 6 years older than my fellow students, for the most part it wasn’t an issue, but of course there was some lighthearted ribbing, and some less than lighthearted ribbing. It was my choice not to go straight to uni after school, mostly because I felt mentally broken and scraped my way out of it. I instead went to a Further Education college to study Italian for a couple of years, then I studied Photography at another college, then there was a half year back at the original college to do more languages, then onto a third college to do a HNC as I was beginning to feel that uni was within my reach.

Does it matter how long it took me to get to uni? No. Does it matter how many years I spent doing other stuff? No, because I actually did other stuff. Does it matter that I’ll be 29 in a month and I haven’t been married off? HELL no!

It’s fine for other people, I know loads of people from school and college who’ve dated for years, got married, and had kids (in various orders) and that’s great for them who’ve chosen that life… But I really don’t believe it’s for me. I’ve dated, not recently, but I can’t be bothered with the drama right now. I’m only just back home in Glasgow and I’ve been in Waterstones so many times and yet no one has approached me from behind the shelves to ask to buy me a book!

I know it sounds like I’m trying to justify my life and choices, but sometimes I feel swamped by subliminal pressures because I’m not doing things the way everyone else is, but why would we want to do it like everyone else is?

Right now, I’m binge-watching Suits (Don’t trust the pineapple), I’ll do some more crocheting after, maybe a little Sims, then back to work for my course… and I may just add a sprinkling of Dutch in.

I like my life, I like my own time!

e x

Posted in Education, Fitness, Memories, Musings, University, Writing

Back to the drawing board

My course started on Saturday and I’ve managed to spend at least a couple of hours each day since to contribute to the forums and work on assignments. I’ve received really good feedback from a couple of other students on my first submission. I’m not good with criticism whether good or bad, and I struggle with accepting constructive criticism which I put down to too many essays being returned with ‘try harder’, ‘more detail’, ‘less flowery language – get to the point’, ‘don’t be so forceful’ – feedback in general can be contradictory as everyone will have different opinions.

This first year is broken down into four blocks and two specialisations, which for me are: Fiction and Script-writing. I’ll be working on Fiction in blocks 1 and 3, Script-writing in block 2, and block 4 is independent study. There are assessments at the end of each block and a final end of module assessment in June. I’m not too worried about the assessments yet, I had a read of the requirements and so long as I follow the course work and readings, I should manage to do quite well overall.

One of the stories I’ve been using for coursework is from what I want to be a novel series but it actually started aeons ago when I was around 6 or 7 as a make-believe scenario which touted many filled afternoons and a special birthday performance of a play of the story which I’d worked on for days. I was industrious to say the least. Now it’s a grown up story, but I’m still lacking a decent title. I know what I want the individual books to be titled but I don’t know what to name the series! I read an entire chapter on the purpose and point of decent titles, but nothing quite helped with this conundrum. I’ll get there in the end I suppose… consistency is the best cure for being stuck!

Managed to get back to the gym yesterday after several weekends of being too busy. Not lost too much in terms of endurance and I managed to get onto the lat pulldown machine… merely a couple of kgs off my personal bests! Going back tomorrow to smash them. Down several pounds in weight as well which is nice, but I’m trying to focus on listening to my body, if I really feel hungry or I’m just bored. I don’t want to go back to counting calories as I become far too obsessive with it, portion control and paying more attention to my eating habits and cravings will get me through for now.

I’m not a runner, it’s never been my thing, and I’ve actually caused myself more damage in the past when I’ve tried to run. Remember Phoebe trying to run in the park with Rachel? And Rachel was humiliated? Yep, mum just let me know today that that one time in school when I was picked to do the relay, I ran just like Phoebe did, maybe even worse! Thanks mum. I was never the sporty type. I had/have little to no upper body strength. I’d try to go on the monkey bars, grab on and swing forward – and keep swinging as my arms betrayed me and I kept swinging forward until gravity smacked me into the playground foam. I still can’t swim: I don’t float. Even when I was several stone lighter, it just never happened for me. My swimming proficiency at the end of Primary School, I got the shortest pity badge of 15 meters, but honestly that was me bobbing and trying to remember how to doggy-paddle like on Topsy and Tim. Then someone splashed water into my face and I choked and threw up by the side of the pool… thus my attempt was over.

So yeah, I was never going to be Sporty Spice, but that’s really why I prefer individual exercises that involve a steady machine or weights that I’m comfortable using without dislocating something. Don’t even get me started on gymnastics… the day I realised I had no balance or poise killed me. I’d never get to be the Pink Power Ranger. But when asked to do jumping splits over another person, I could take at least four others down with me!

Leave me to walk, row, and lift heavy stuff. I’m good.

e x

Over a month!

I just saw the date! I haven’t posted in so long, I’m sorry. I kept procrastinating.

Mañana, next weekend, first thing in the morning.

I’ve been bad. Things have changed a lot. Like A LOT.

My course has started, seems fun so far.

More blood tests in the morning and the doctor wants a serious talk with me.

No I’m not pregnant.

Later, e x

Posted in Education, elearning, Food, Japanese, Languages, Musings

Of all the gin joints…

Today was horrendously wet. No surprise to anyone who lives in Scotland but I think this is a sign that Summer and Frappuccino season is over.

I got up fairly early this morning and definitely slept better than the previous night (no more talking about work in my sleep), so I was more focused with what I wanted to do. Let’s just acknowledge now that my plans never always go exactly the way I want them to. I started with some more Gilmore Girls then studied a unit of Italian on edX (a great course if you are interested) though I’m doing the Advanced class as a recap before I start on the A.P. Italian program they’ve launched. It’s no end of amazement to myself at how quickly I am able to slip back into Italian… and have it make so much more sense than Spanish. But the years speak for themselves, 11 vs 5 🙂

After that I got ready and packed for the gym but also with a plan to hit a few shops in town for various things I have no time to pick up because of working at prime hours. And a stop to Starbucks to chill for a bit and read my book.

I also read on the bus. Didn’t notice a certain person getting on said bus, was hardly halfway through my journey. I’m not going to go into it much but let’s just say #awkward plus I didn’t get to read my book the rest of the journey 😦

Despite that, I got into town otherwise unscathed and managed to get the things I was looking for, necessities are expensive these days, aren’t they?! Ended up treating myself to Ichiban because I was suddenly starving and needed the carbs.

chickenyakisoba
Delicious Chicken Yakisoba!

The meal helped a lot and it’s quite inexpensive, even at the weekend. Next stop was Starbucks for what is probably my last Frappuccino until next summer – too damn cold to be drinking ice! Back to Caramel/Cinnamon Soya Steamers. My own creation way back when I was a barista.

The gym was fun, I managed a standard 15 minutes on the rowing machine that passed quite quickly and not as painful as before… I guess this means I’m getting fitter? I’m still taking everything slowly though, up to 15 minutes of various machines so I don’t snap, crack, or damage anything again. A couple of years back I had awful pain below my shins in the tendons that no one could explain, they were red and burning from the moment I woke up as well! Turns out my beloved zombie boots were too wide around the foot and the tendons were trying to hold my feet in place. Ick! Few months after that I ended up with Achilles Tendinopathy which I still haven’t managed to rid myself from, but I do enjoy the classical allusion. Then, of course back in April, I blacked out on my way home from work one night and landed full force on both my knees. They were black and blue (and agony) for months and are actually still quite tender on the knee caps.

I’m a walking disaster!

Weekend is over, time for bed! Work tomorrow…

e x

Posted in Education, elearning, Musings, University, work, Writing

Balance

If there’s one thing I’ve never been great at it’s balance. Not just in the literal sense of standing on one foot but in terms of what I’m doing in my life, e.g. work or uni, and what I’m juggling with secondary interests and socialising/relaxing.

Especially within the last few weeks this has become my aim to work on achieving a better balance despite working full-time and travelling around ten hours a week to-and-fro. One of my most important challenges has been to prepare enough new and original content for this blog, and as an exercise in discipline to flex my writing muscles even when I’ve little time or inspiration.

Very soon I’ll be starting my new Masters degree, which I’m really excited about but also slightly anxious about being prepared and inspired even if I’m drained from work. I know what I’m getting back into having just finished full-time uni; deadlines, stressing over grades, never feeling I’ve done enough, etc, but I’m planning to plan better and work on my biggest hurdle: TIME MANAGEMENT! This has never been my friend, ever, but I know now more than ever that I need to work on it so I have time to review, revise, and edit drafts efficiently, prior to submitting, so that I can be certain I’ve handed in my best work.

I’m pretty certain I’ll naturally be more inspired to submit creative writing pieces rather than essays. No matter how much I love to write, I’ve never quite gotten the essay writing process down! All lecturers wanted a different style, format, or I really struggled to grasp what they actually wanted me to submit. I did always try to find a hook or an angle to trick myself into being interested in essay topics (apart from classics courses, no tricks were ever needed), but my resounding feeling during honours years was that nothing I wrote was ever good enough.

This course will be different. I’ve been writing since I was 2. Yes, two! Since I could hold a pen I would scribble on paper or forms, (the wall occasionally) and feel exactly the same as Scout Finch, that writing is as natural as breathing. It’s no more spectacular than the respiratory system but is as absolutely critical to life as air.

In the evenings I don’t really have much chill time but I’m starting to get used to my routine and have been able to better utilise what time I do have. I’ve signed up to a few MOOC’s on Coursera, Edx, and OpenLearn which are all free to study and follow but with the option to pay a small fee for an official certificate/qualification. I’ll post soon about the courses I’m doing with some early thoughts and feedback.

There’s also my massive TBR pile, which I’ll get to at some point and review my recent reads.

As a final thought for tonight, I know it is important to take one day at a time, but it is also just as important to make plans and time for the things you really want to do during your free time, so you don’t end up sitting dejected on a Sunday night remembering all the things you wanted to do! (Too many times!)

My schedule changes by an hour next week for a few weeks but I’m going to create a full rotating schedule of activities to slot in around work…

… just keep swimming!

e x

P.S. I’ve added a new Photography page, which I’m planning on adding much more to soon, have a looksie!