18 September 2019

HOW I HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH BURN OUT



I saw it coming from miles away, like a bloody tsunami on the horizon, but I just didn't think it would actually happen, because apparently I am a robot who is utterly indestructible: burn out. What a bitch.

'Burnout—a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress—is not simply a result of working long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy that are characteristic of burnout most often occur when a person is not in control of how a job is carried out or is asked to complete tasks that conflict with their sense of self.'  - Psychology Today

There is a bit of a 'thing' among business owners out there about burn out; how to spot it and how to handle it if it shows its ugly head, but I am just one of those annoying people who thinks nothing will happen to them. Yet here I am right now, about to give you some tips that have helped me start to fight through it. I say 'Start to fight through', because I am still very much 'in' it.

Let's start with a quick list of how I felt it showing up for me:
- tiredness
- irritability
- palpitations
- dizziness/disorientation
- lack of concentration
- depression
- anxiety
- the inability to cope with even small tasks
- severe overwhelm
- achy muscles and joints
- strange vision
- feeling like my nerves were 'on edge'
- headaches
- weight gain (despite a good diet and exercise - and lots of it)
- wanting to sleep all the time

... I am sure there are more little things but I think they will give you the picture for now.

When these things started happening, my days were all exactly the same, pretty much seven days a week: up at 5am (if not earlier) to try and journal before the gym, go to the gym and push as hard as humanly possible, come home and shower, throw some food down my face, go to work at the hotel (four hours of housekeeping), come home, sleep for a bit, eat, work on whatever I could manage, which usually resulted in me staring at my computer and not getting much done because I was too tired to do anything or concentrate. The evenings would be spent worrying about things I hadn't done and working on the sofa until it was time to go to bed (about 11pm), where I would immediately fall asleep and then start that pattern all over again.

Looking at it now, it is extremely apparent what needed to be changed, but when you are deep into a routine you feel like you just have to keep going and the busier I got, the more I pushed. I didn't realise, until I went to see the doctor, that I had no relaxation whatsoever in my day, nothing to calm me and, after having blood tests to eliminate everything, it was decided that it was nervous exhaustion/burn out (no sh*t Sherlock - which is basically what the doctor said to me when I said 'I think I may be a little burnt out').

Okay, so we get the picture of what it is, how it manifests in our lives and that we actually do need to do something in order to change it, so what can we do? Like I have already said, I am clearly no expert as I let myself get into this mess, but as I am learning I thought I would share how I am navigating through it. I am someone who struggles to cut back, whether it is work or training, I really feel like I just have to continue or else I am a failure, which is BS really right?



So here is what I am doing (and it is helping me a lot):

1. More quality sleep.
As I said, I had early alarms every single day. Some days I would snooze eight times before getting up, getting back to sleep and waking up repeatedly before making myself climb out of bed. We all know it has been proven that getting up on your first alarm is healthier, as you don't get into another sleep rhythm again. So I am trying not to hit snooze, but I am also giving myself a few days in the week where my alarm is set later, which means less training sessions too - more on that in a minute.

Deciding, when your alarm goes off at 5am, that you are going to re-set for 7am is a start, but you still wake right up before making that decision, so it is better for you to just accept that you need sleep the night before and set a later one so you are not disturbed multiple times. I am also giving myself one day in the week with no alarm at all, where I seem to wake up at about 7.30am-8.00am, so it isn't all bad!

This is really helping me to claw back sleep and to feel more rested and calm. Even when I decided, at 5am, to lay in until 7am I would be so stressed, worrying about the fact that I wasn't getting up on my first alarm, that I wouldn't really sleep anyway - totally pointless!

2. Shorter naps.
I have always needed naps, even before burning myself out completely, but my mistake has usually been that I set no alarm, and just sleep for the Olympics. Whilst there may be some days where that is totally needed, on the whole a 20-30 minute nap is all our body needs to feel totally rejuvenated, so this is what I am trying to do now. Since I have put several new routines and systems in place to actually help myself, I am having less naps, so my body is clearly feeling less exhausted.

3. Less training.
We all know exercise is great, and you know how much I adore lifting weights and pushing myself, I really love it so much. My issue was that, because of all the other factors I was trying to deal with, I wasn't allowing my body to recover and more importantly I was ignoring all the signs it was showing me. I was in the gym and unable to lift even the lightest dumbbells that I would normal use to warm up; everything felt heavy and I was getting severely out of breath just walking. Now, I have dropped back to four to five sessions a week and have totally restructured what I am doing to accommodate how I am feeling. I am also listening to my body much more and not going training if I feel really over tired; I am not perfect at this, but I am getting better and that is a huge step for me.

I really found the concept of 'less training could help you drop the extra weight' thing hard to swallow, but I also know how the body can hold fat when it is stressed. Our bodies go-to reaction is to protect us and as women we often put fat on around our lower stomach when we are very stressed out because a) the stress hormone is a bitch and b) our body wants to protect us just in-case we become (or are) pregnant; it is pure instinct for survival, and bloody clever if you really consider it for a minute.

4. Planning my days.
 This is the final 'top tip' for overcoming burn out, and this one has helped me so much more than I ever thought. I am actually putting up a blog post next week that goes into much more detail about my planning techniques, so I won't go in-depth here as this post will need dinner breaks, but if you are interested come back next week for that. What I will say is this; after a long time of kind of knowing the tasks I had to get done and aimlessly working away without true purpose, I finally decided I needed structure. So many entrepreneurs talk about the tools they use to help them gain organisation in their business and so I set about finding what would work for me.

The short version (more to follow in next weeks post) is this...
- On-line calendar syncing to my phone
- Trello for general brain-dumps and project organisation (also syncs to phone)
- Goal setting/task list planner (my new best buddy!)



I now plan all my days on my calendar, time-blocking out the day ahead the night before, and then once I see what I need to do (from my amazing new goals planner!) I can batch block my day and really get into the work I need to do. This means I schedule breaks, lunch, important client work, and all the other things I need to get done. This really works guys, and I will never look back now.

I have also brought back little routines of doing my oracle cards and gratitude lists (my new planner has space for gratitude and affirmations, and it is awesome), which means that I am feeling like I have some of me back again.

All of these little steps have started to make a difference. Without a doubt I am still feeling the brunt of the burn out, and I hear it takes a while to 'do one', but I am hoping that I can keep pushing little gaps in my day that will allow me to take some time away from the 'to-do' list and step into some joy and relaxation again.

There is no shame in helping yourself and stepping back for a bit to assess, which is what it took for me to really see what I needed. If you are feeling like any of this resonates be sure to have a full life evaluation and see what changes you can make.

I hope that you found this helpful; to be honest, implementing the tips above will make a positive difference to anyone, burnt out or not, so just have a little ponder and ask yourself if you are giving yourself enough 'you time' and if not, where you can you make some little tweaks? Good luck!

PS: Don't forget to come back next week for more about my planning routine!
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15 September 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Welcome back to another 'Weekly Gratitude' post! How has this week been for you guys? My week has actually been much better than previous weeks in terms of my health, which is a plus for me. Apparently this whole burn out thing can take many months to recover from, so I am trying to be sensible and make changes to help myself (something I don't do easily). I talk more about it in the vlog that I will be bringing out next week, however I will fill you guys in about one thing that has made a big difference in a very short amount of time below! Let's get into it shall we?

:: I'll jump on in with the big change I have made this week and the thing that has really made a difference to my everyday life. After months of listening to people on podcasts and watching videos aimed at small business owners, I finally realised that I need a system in place to help me manage my time better and to help keep me on the right path in terms of my goals (blog and business based). As I have a full blog post coming out on the whole thing in the next couple of weeks I won't go into loads of detail here, because not everyone will be interested, but what I will tell you about quickly is my new 'Daily Goal Setter' planner by Mal Paper. Before you ask, no, it is not an ad or sponsorship, I genuinely love this thing! It is a simple to use, goal setting planner (it does what it says on the tin!) and helps you see your long, medium and short term goals, break them down into monthly, weekly and daily tasks and basically become the personification of organised! See the inside of the planner in the vlog I have linked below, or hang on in there for the dedicated post I will be publishing soon, in which I tell you about the three planning tools I can't live without and talk about how I use them. Now that I have started this whole process I won't be looking back!



:: I've been trying to add little things into my morning routine which make me happy and make the everyday mundane that little bit more interesting. I have been lining up my favourite podcasts for my journey to work and treated myself to a super cute little coffee/tea flask-cup thing from Morrisons, setting me back a full £4 of my hard earned money and worth every penny, so that I can enjoy a yummy drink on my commute! It is the little things like this that make my morning a little less like work, and a lot more cosy and enjoyable.

:: One of the biggest things we both miss about our old cottage is the birds in the garden. There are barely any trees around here, something which we had an abundance of in Perranuthnoe, so we rarely see garden birds at all. The one regular visitor though, is a really cute little wagtail that I named Penfold. I am not an expert in wagtail behaviour, but Penfold hangs about the garden for a good majority of the day, only flying up onto the garage roof when we head outside. He soon comes back again and hops about, pecking at the ground for treats and eating the seed we put down in special little mounds for him. He is the most spoilt wagtail on the block for sure.



:: I think I have mentioned this before, but I am so obsessed with the month of September; the smell in the air, the light, the way things feel like they are shifting and how nature begins to give way to Autumn. I love it so much, it is one of my favourite times of year, along with the early spring; there are things about this month that I can't even put into words, there are almost spiritual shifts that happen and things begin to enter a new phase of being. A very woo woo look at things I know, but I am all woo woo you know?!

:: You may have seen in one of my recent vlogs that I treated myself to a few skincare bits from Glossier. Having used them for a few weeks now I can report back that I love them! Check out my vlog to see what I bought; I can't tell you that I have a favourite product because I honestly love them all. The 'bounce' serum makes my skin feel super hydrated without leaving a heavy or greasy feel to it, and the priming moisturiser is fab too. In the mornings, if I need a bit glow to my tired face, I add a couple of drops of my L'Oreal glow drops (I have the lighter golden shade) to the moisturiser and apply it all over my face, leaving it to sink in and settle for five minutes before starting any make-up at all. Everything I ordered exceeds my expectations so I will definitely be looking at more products from Glossier in the future when I am next able to treat myself to something.

:: After work today I met up with my gorgeous friend Kimberley for a good catch up over a little slice of cake (lemon drizzle for me as that is all that was left on a Sunday afternoon!). I always feel so sorry for Kimberley as I definitely waffle on for the whole time before we go our separate ways again (she's probably laying down in a dark room somewhere right now actually). It is lovely to just sit, drink coffee, eat cake and have a really good chat and a giggle though, I need more of that! Thanks for putting up with my chat Octo!

:: I am definitely going to do a more in depth post on my current thoughts around body image, but I will mention this one thing now because I am so grateful for it this week. In a nutshell, I haven't worn any of my jeans for over a year, for fear of what they may look like on my body/that they would no longer fit. I have given myself extreme jean-based anxiety (clothes in general actually) and this week, after fake-shopping online (I fake shop a lot just for fun!), and putting several pairs of jeans in my basket, I realised I need to stop fretting, be brave and try on my existing jeans. As soon as I had the house to myself, I put Friends on because, you know, familiarity, comfort and giggles are always welcome when you feel ill through nerves, and tried on the damn jeans. Short story is, they all fit. I am very grateful to not have to buy new jeans.

I am going to leave it there for today guys, but I will be back on Wednesday with another post and a new Studio Vlog too, for now though here is my recent vlog, please hit the 'like' button and subscribe to my channel if you like my videos, it would me the world to have you as part of the family!

Have a great week ahead!

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11 September 2019

WHAT IT MEANS TO REALLY 'SEE' YOURSELF


^^ Image by Rowan Heuvel via Unsplash ^^

We watched the movie ‘Split’ last night, which is a film I’ve been meaning to check out for ages, have you seen it? Its such a good one. Right at the end of the film, the main character, played by James McAvoy, has the girl he's been keeping locked up standing there in front of him and, for the first time he sees that she is covered in scars from years of abuse from her uncle. He says to her ‘you are different from the rest, you are more evolved'; he realises that, like him, she has suffered in her life and he seems to resonate with her on an emotional level because there is a shared understanding of the pain they have been through. There is a message throughout the film about people ‘waking up’ through their experiences in life and that is what I want to talk about today. 

It is true to say that life shapes us, how can it not, it has so many facets to it and so many personalities all flowing around one another every single day. Every experience, good and bad, mould us over time, just as the sea smooths out a rock, or piece of glass, the more we are metaphorically 'tumbled in the waves', the more we understand ourselves and become something less jagged (less naive) and evolve into a perfect version of ourselves in our own way.

What I'm very sure of is how the more difficult, emotional experiences in life fast track our learning, self discovery and spiritual growth. As humans, we have choices; we can make a decision to to let something fester in our brains forever, turning us bitter, angry or depressed, or we can let them become a part of us in a more positive way, holding on to what was important from the experience and choosing to move forward with that new knowledge and growth (taking with us what the universe intended us to understand). 

Fear is crippling sometimes and so when faced with it, you have to try and run at it full pelt (unless it is fear of a big, hungry, very scary bear, in which case I recommend not running towards it at all... pick your battles people!). For example, and I will use a very small fear of mine here: you may feel fear about getting petrol for your car. For me the fear comes from feeling physically exposed whilst people queue in their cars behind me, forced to look in my direction and, in my head, judging me and thinking about how I look and what I am doing. If I let that fear take over I will never get petrol at all, meaning that I am stuck inside until Joe gets some instead. This is a small fear, or was, because I have now done it so much it barely even registers (win for me!), but my point is that it can have ripple effects throughout your whole life.

With small fears, like the example above, the best thing you can do is to face them directly; you have to distract the voice in your head that tells you people are looking at you, and you just have to ‘do the thing’, because afterwards you will drive away feeling amazing and, do you know what you can do with that amazing feeling... anything you bloody want to! That’s the great thing about doing the harder stuff in life, when you conquer one thing, you feel so good you want to do more right that minute!



The bigger things in life, the traumatic things, really shape us, they grab us firmly by the shoulders, stand us in front of a mirror and force us to see ourselves completely. As hard as it is to face things sometimes, we must do this work, we must ‘see ourselves’, including all our flaws, which is why doing the work after a trauma is so important. Once again, I can only reference my own experiences, and I’m not going to air them here, but the traumas I refer to are emotional and extremely hard to deal with. When you go through anything in life, as easy as it is to stick your head in the sand and push it away, trust me when I say, it will come back again and again until you acknowledge it. It may involve others or it may just be something that you have experienced alone, but that doesn’t matter because it will return to you as 'work you need to do' at some point. I have had things show up for me that happened when I was in my 20’s and I've had to work through the emotions all these years later, but it was worth it. 

With age I have evolved my understanding and have come to learn that suffering a little bit of emotional pain in order to start to clear the deeper pain is a must. You cannot be afraid of seeing who you are, and that is what happens when you refuse to push things under the carpet. What you see you may not like though, and that is the warning I am here to give you, but do not fret, because the biggest step is seeing yourself, once you do that you can change what you do not like, and that is true growth right there. Staying the same, ignoring the shitty stuff, that is just ignorance, so do the work, it’s bloody wonderful on the other side.

The downside is you feel emotionally exhausted for a while as you work through things and scramble about for answers, but my goodness it’s such a freeing experience. Work on yourself every single day, rather than allowing everything to catch up with you; you soon get used to doing it, and before you know it you think completely differently and your bounce back rate is so much faster!

Here are my tips to help you through self discovery:

WRITE
I do my ‘morning pages’, which involve getting up, making a cup of tea or coffee and sitting with a notebook to just write whatever comes into my head. If nothing comes, just write about anything and see what comes up. Some days nothing will surface and that is okay. Try and write at least two to three pages, giving yourself time to explore the things that arise when, and if, they do.

LISTEN
Go out into nature and walk. Listen to the birds, the wind in the trees and allow your mind to travel within and see what you hear. Journaling after this process can also be useful.

EDUCATE 
I love listening to podcasts that are thought provoking and soul enriching. My favourite is the Ophra Winfrey ‘Super Soul’ podcast, which covers such a wide range of subjects but never fails to make me think about things from the point of view of my own life, even if it is simply ‘wow, I live such a privileged life’, which is what I thought last week when I listened to a holocaust survivor retelling her version of events. It was so sad, but her story had such power and positivity to it, and you have to leave that episode thinking that, compared to that, nothing in your own life is that bad. Another favourite of mine is the Lori Harder podcast, Earn Your Happy, which covers a great deal of subjects from business to body image. I love her attitude to things and they way she has been through so much, talks about it openly and uses her story to encourage her listeners.

EXERCISE 
You guys know that I love my gym training; lifting weights and pushing my body is my way of going within, pulling out strength that I didn’t know I had and understanding what my body is capable of. The body issues I have had throughout my life, and continue to struggle with, will not win, and I will not be forced to stay indoors through fear of being seen in my skin, so my morning routine of the gym is therapy for me in so many ways.

So to end this post I will circle back to that last scene in 'Split'; the lead female character finally realises what she has to do to get James McAvoy's character(s) to 'see' her, and that is reveal her most vulnerable self to him. Isn't that so important throughout life? Not just allowing those close to us to truly 'see' us, but to allow ourselves to do that too, because most of us are scared of what we will see if we really look.

Let me know what you think about this subject in the comments guys. I am really interested to know!
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8 September 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ The gorgeous beach at Perranuthnoe, I miss living in that village so much ^^

Weekly Gratitude posts are back baby! I have been so worn out that I literally couldn't even drag anything out of my brain onto the screen, I would just sit staring at the computer and nothing would come into my mind at all, which is just so unlike me because I love writing. I am finally beginning to feel my mojo returning and can't wait to be back at my desk more. It has helped to get out the house for some fresh air more often; it has been quite difficult to want to go out after a shift cleaning at the hotel for several hours and then needing to work on Leaf Lane Studio projects, but even a few minutes of fresh air helps boost my inspiration for other things and just general well being too. Today we went to Perranuthnoe (our old village!) for a walk on the beach and a little coast path walk; it was truly amazing to be out and about. It is so easy to get wrapped up in being busy and think there is no time for anything relaxing, but I am trying to remember to prioritise that stuff more.

PS: I will be putting my next Studio Vlog up in the next day or two so stay tuned for that, but if you haven't caught up yet I have popped the most recent one for you down at the bottom of this post, or click here to go to the Studio Vlog playlist!

Let's hop into this weeks gratitude list because I have a fair amount to get through!


^^ Loving my Lucy and Yak dungarees! ^^

:: On 1st September, Leaf Lane Studio turned two years old, which I can't quite believe! These last two years have flown by and I have learned so much, but that is a story for another blog post! As I have been harping on about being a 'true artist' and getting some dungarees for so long, Joe bought me a gift card for Lucy and Yak as an business anniversary pressie. Lucy and Yak do the best, most planet and people kind clothing ever! I think I spent the voucher in about five minutes flat and am now the proud owner of a pair of their corduroy dungaroodles (not sure why I keep calling them that but let's roll with it!). I love them so much and now feel like a fully qualified artist, as well as a childrens television presenter/decorator!

:: If you have been watching my Studio Vlogs, or keeping up with things on Instagram, you will know that we turned Gizmo into an indoor cat, just until we move again and no longer have a very dangerous road right on the doorstep and cats that beat her up daily. She is improving and getting used to it, but up until this week she just hasn't wanted to play at all. We bought her a few things to encourage her but still nothing. That was up until mid week when I discovered a ridiculously long shoe lace lurking in my 'man drawer'. There you have it, Gizmo awoke and has been obsessed with it ever since! It has been wonderful to watch her play again, I feel so sorry for her right now and just wish I could magic her a new house with a Gizmo-friendly garden again.


:: You may remember that, just over a month or so ago, I had some amazing Reiki, which left me feeling so regenerated and energised. Mum kindly paid for that for me and has recently paid for another one, which I am booked to have in a couple of weeks. It feels so nice to have some self-care booked in, because I have neglected 'me' time recently. It is funny how those things slip away without you even realising, but I am working super hard to bring back some relaxing and pampering things into my life again, even silly, simple things, like taking more time with my skincare and popping a little face mask on every now and then. Doing these things just helps me feel a bit more taken care of, rather than a scrappy mess, and it makes the biggest difference to me psychologically speaking.

:: Have you guys seen how pretty the moon has been looking this last week? I mean, it always looks pretty, but it has had a beautiful, rich-yellow glow about it, making it look even more incredible.

:: I have been sketching away on the iPad this week, working through some ideas for new designs for another stationery release for Leaf Lane Studio (did you see my recent collection?). I will be bringing something new out for winter and can't wait to start adding to my products! I will also be releasing a new wedding stationery collection to, called 'Bay', which will be coming very soon, so stay tuned for that! The best place to be for anything new is Instagram, so make sure you are following my Leaf Lane Studio account as well as the blog one!

:: On the topic of Instagram, Lucy Wood, one of my favourite YouTubers when it comes to body confidence pieces, did an amazing video featuring some of her favourite 'mid-size' girls online, predominantly on Instagram. All of the girls she featured are super inspiring and absolutely gorgeous so I highly recommend you check out Lucy's video to see her chatting about these ladies and then head to Insta to fill your feed with positive females!



:: This week I have been painting this ^^ lovely yellow piece for an even lovelier lady who took advantage of a recent Leaf Lane Studio offer and treated herself to a custom initial! I adore painting these and find them so relaxing to sit and work on! They look so adorable when they are framed and put in your office or anywhere at all actually! These little initials are so popular and I am anticipating having a fair few to paint for Christmas gifts, so if you do want one, head over to Leaf Lane Studio and check them out. I will be putting my prices up on these very soon, so get in there fast before they change at the end of September because, right now, they are a bargain still!

:: My office is a place I just love walking in to at any time of day. I have it set up just how I want it and it feels so cosy and inspiring for me. I have started my 'Morning Pages' again and sit at my art desk, with a coffee or cup of tea, and journal away happily for half an hour to start my day and it feels like such a magical time, especially now the mornings are darker again; it just feels like me in my own little world.



:: Talking of coffee, I probably shouldn't be happy about this, but I have now discovered a proper love for milky coffee. I have never, ever drunk coffee, always hating the taste, no matter how it was served to me, but one day in the summer, I woke up craving an iced coffee and haven't looked back since. What was that about? No, I am not pregnant, just strange!

:: Who knew that Mac are selling mini lipsticks now?! If you are an old school follower of this space of mine, you will surely remember I love Mac lipsticks! I have had a list of shades I would love stored on my phone forever. One of the ones I have wanted for an age, is the shade 'Chili', which is a brown/red shade, ideal for autumn, so when I saw that they had them as more affordable mini versions I had to get it! God help me now that I know there are teeny versions of my favourite lipsticks... save me!

I feel like I have so many things to tell you guys about, but for now, seeing as it is 9.15pm on a Sunday evening, I will leave it there and be back with a blog post on Wednesday, yep, normally programming has returned!

Have a wonderful week ahead and remember to stay tuned to my YouTube channel for this weeks Studio Vlog (I would love you forever if you subscribed too!), and I will see you really soon.

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5 September 2019

A LETTER TO SEPTEMBER



There is something about you, September; a certain nostalgia that, even in my late 30’s, brings with it that feeling of fresh starts, like the new school year (do we ever lose that feeling?). I still get knots in the pit of my stomach when you roll around just like the ones that I used to get when I packed my school bag for a new term, the fear of an unknown chapter, mixed with the excitement of everything yet to come.

It’s funny how all these years on, the sound of an early alarm on a slightly colder, darker morning, can set off a feeling of vulnerability, bringing back memories of difficult school days and worries about making and keeping friendships which, at the time, seemed like the be all and end all of life. 

September, you have a lot to answer for!

Thankfully, with age, you now represent fresh starts in a more positive way; freedom, excitement and the chance at a new beginning, like another go at New Year, but far less dismal and far more realistic than January (with less bloating too!). When you arrive, the start of autumn and all of its delights creep in; chillier mornings, met with hot drinks before venturing out wrapped in more layers than I’ll ever really need. The evenings have the magical scent of wood smoke in the little villages I drive through, with inviting lights from cosy kitchens spilling out into the dusk (there will soon be Christmas lights and extra cooking happening in there). You represent hot tea at night, wrapped in fleecy pajamas and over-sized jumpers, soon stripped off because it’s still a little too warm but also too cold for just a t-shirt. 

Summers independence gives way to the more isolated Cornish winter time, where it feels like the right time to bunker in, take stock and make plans for spring. The lighter evenings are the one thing I miss the most, but there are other things to look forward too instead and it really won't be long before the light returns. 

This could be purely in my mind, September, but to me, you smell different, like someone has unscrewed the lid to Autumn and allowed it to flood out and mix in with what is left with the scent of summer; it is such a unique and wonderful scent that I could never describe, but it has ‘September’ written all over it. They say scent is one of the most powerful of the senses and that is so very true, the first scent of autumn is what you bring and I feel it running through my entire body when I walk outside at 6.30am to go to the gym and take my first deep breath of the day.

I’m excited for you this year, September, because you mark a distinctive change in me, something big has shifted and all the personal growth work I have been doing seems to have reached a peak within me and, as you began, I felt a part of my old self shed away, like a snake shedding it’s skin. I feel ready for new chapters of growth, to push my boundaries and take on new, more exciting challenges. I feel ready to leave parts of me behind that have haunted me for years and allow room for new things to venture in. 

You also mark the second year anniversary of Leaf Lane Studio, making you even more special as, every year you are the month where I will celebrate twelve more months of business growth and so many lessons too. I intentionally launched my business on the first of September to give me something to kick start me into autumn, because you, along with spring, are my favourite season; the season of change. 

Autumn and winter show us how necessary it is to allow things to drop away in order to return stronger and more beautiful than ever, and I feel like you, September, always represent that for me.

Let us make the most of you and thrive as winter returns again.

I'm ready for you!
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15 August 2019

STEP BACK TO STEP FORWARD


^^ Image by Oscar Nord on Unsplash / Quote by Unknown on Pinterest ^^

I've had a bit of a blogging hiatus recently; not through choice, but through just having a Homer Simpson style 'monkey with cymbals' banging loudly in my brain. This post is for you if you are feeling all the stress right, overwhelm and tiredness right now.

I often write blog posts on the other side of something I have been through; today, however, I am writing this smack-bang in the middle of it, because I want to talk with real honest emotions about some things that I am feeling and going through in my head, without accidentally 'airbrushing' them in any way at all.

Yesterday I bit the bullet and went to the doctors (my pride and sheer stubbornness means this can take a while sometimes). I went because I feel like my body is turning against me. I sat in the waiting room and silently tapped away at the 'notes' section on my iPhone, listing all the symptoms I am having, before I went into the doctor; I have a tendency to get a bit anxious and forget things, so a list is helpful for me. It is important to mention here that I never just take myself to the doctor on a whim, it is usually when I really feel I need more advice, rather than a panic about something. Some of my symptoms have been going on a while and, as much as I kind of knew what she may say, I thought it best to run some of them past her.

My symptoms were listed as: extreme fatigue, frequent palpitations, dizziness, lack of concentration, the inability to balance very well (generally feeling a little bit 'out of it' coordination wise - I don't have much room for manoeuvre here because I am bloody clumsy generally!), aches and pains and weight gain for literally no reason... oh yeah, and I have had numb toes for months

Explaining all of this and feeling like I was about to turn my toes up or cry in frustration, she asked me to list out to her what my daily routine looked like... 'okay, doc', I said...

4.45am/5am - alarm goes off
6.30am - gym
8.15am - home, breakfast, shower
9.30am - drive to work
10am - work (housekeeping)
2.15pm-2.30pm - leave work
3pm - home for lunch and shower
4pm - work for business
6pm - cook and eat
7pm - work until I can keep my eyes open anymore, usually around 10.30pm-11pm.

This is the routine for every, single day of the week, except when I am not at the hotel on Mondays and Thursdays, where you can replace the 'housekeeping' section with 'business work'.

The doctor looked at me and raised her eyes. 

I have blood tests next week just to check everything, but the overall message was 'you need to slow down, you need more time where you are not doing anything at all'. She spoke to me for a while about the things that can happen as a result of lack of quality sleep, as well as the constant stress on the body from being 'on' all the time. We all know this right? But, if you're anything like me, you may think that, for some reason, you are immune to any side effects. 

I came home with my tail between my legs, feeling emotionally drained, tired and, of course, with all the symptoms I listed having a field day throughout my body - oh joy! As I hung some washing out, I played the first podcast on my 'to listen to' column and was hit with 'The Freelance Fix' episode, titled 'Morning and evening routines'. Within the first few minutes of the episode there was talk of the importance of slowing down and getting good quality sleep so our bodies and brains can restore.

Did you know that lack of quality sleep can result in:

mood swings
anxiety
depression
micro sleeping (where you fall asleep without realising)
weight gain
low immune system
increased risk of type 2 diabetes
cardiovascular and blood pressure risks
(and may other things too) 

If I am honest, I knew 85% of this already, but to have two people in the space of an hour push it in your face I figured I had better snap out of it.



I think one of the hardest things (for me anyway) is trusting that by taking a step back I will get results, because it seems like I will just be quitting. But I have honestly never felt so exhausted and so all over the place; my ability to function seems to be dwindling away and we all know that burn out is real, so there are no options but to change things right?

Can anyone relate to any of this so far?

So, a plan has to be made and that is something that I will be sitting down to look at this evening. I am going to be looking at my training routine, to make sure that sessions are not as intense and stressful for my body the entire duration I am in the gym. I will also be trying to find some kind of routine and structure for knowing when my work day ends, a way of closing things down for the day that, with a 9-5, would be as simple as walking out the office and going home.

Creating space for me again will mean beach walks, sunsets, cups of tea outside, walking, and being still, instead of the constant rush from task to task, which is totally unproductive as I am too tired to do anything properly. There must be other ways and I am determined to find a way that works for me.

For now, I will call this blog post 'part one' and I will keep you updated of changes as I make them and how I am feeling because I know I am not the only one going through this! There are so many of us, and we all need to find better ways of doing things. 

If you resonate with this in any way please comment because I feel like we can help each other.

Here's to a more productive, less time-hungry and mentally/physically draining week ahead!

Let's do this!
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4 August 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ This little bear is everything in the world to me! ^^

Hey my loves, I am still alive, despite failing to post anything for the last two Wednesdays and only managing to post my 'Sunday post' on a Monday (insert crazy faced emoji here!). I’m going to have to ask you to forgive me for my sporadic posts for about another week or two; I have so much work on with Leaf Lane Studio that I am somewhat lacking in time for anything else right now, which is beyond ideal because this space means the world to me. There is one specific project I’m doing that, once I have that sent to the client, will mean I am much more free to carry on doing other things again, so bear with me!

PS: I usually link in the weekly vlog with this post, but it is still in its early edit right now, so hang fire, it won't be long!

Let’s leap right on in to today’s weekly gratitude list shall we?

:: It’s funny how in the midst of one of the busiest times ever I feel at my most alive, despite the fact that I can barely stay awake, feel like I’m dragging myself about and like I can’t string a sentence together. But what I am feeling is like my hard work is paying off. Obviously the way I’m feeling is far from ideal but that only stems from the fact that I have a part time job going on as well, which also happens to peak during the summer season in terms of how much energy it requires to do that job! But I am aware it is only a temporary feeling of tiredness and am doing all I can to ensure that I am looking after myself to my best ability until everything settles back down again. I am super grateful for all the opportunities that are showing up for me right now, they feel so good and I am excited to push them all forward.

:: The one, slightly negative aspect of all of this craziness right now, is that it is easy to have a tunnel vision away from all the meaningful things in life, the things that keep me calm and relaxed every single day. This week I was forced out of my 'busy brain' whilst training at the gym. I was upstairs on the cardio equipment, when I suddenly snapped out of my business related thoughts and realised I could smell the sea. Not mind blowing particularly, because my gym is a stones throw away from the coast line, but I hadn’t stopped to take it in for so long that it suddenly knocked me off my feet to become aware of it again. I felt annoyed with myself for allowing life to blur out the things that really matter to me in this world. When I left the gym and head to the shop to pick up some food, I stood in the car park and just took some deep breaths and reminded myself how lucky I am to be able to smell the fresh ocean air and to be seconds away from it most of the time. I am so grateful for that, and I won’t be letting myself get that wrapped up in life again in a a hurry. 

 ^^ Cornwall in the sun is the best ^^

:: Following on from the first two points, I have mentioned before that I want to take regular trips out to have a ‘meeting with myself’ for the blog and business, but I still haven’t actually been able to fit that in. This busy period has really shown me how important that kind of time will be, and so, once that project has been emailed to the client, which should be in the next two to three days, I am going to schedule a morning or an afternoon a week (or even just a couple of hours after work one day) to take myself somewhere and just reflect, plan or scribble down some ideas (or simply draw if I’m tired!). I’d like to get myself to some pretty coastal places locally that I can walk, take photos and stop for a while and sit. I have missed that time alone in nature over the last month or two. I hadn’t realised how much I needed it; I have become far to familiar with the house!

:: Stepping away from the heavier subjects and onto a slightly random one, caffeine. I am a tea drinker through and through; having tried coffee over the years in various ways, I just never took to it at all, despite loving the smell of it soooo much! Recently, for some unknown reason (and before anyone jumps to conclusions here, no, I’m not pregnant!) I woke up craving an iced coffee, yes, specifically an iced coffee! So, off I went to get myself my first ever iced coffee and spied a ‘salted caramel iced latte’, and it wasn’t terrible! Obviously the sugar content isn’t ideal but I’m not making a regular habit of having these, it was just a nice change and, my goodness, it really woke me up!


^^ I love my new 'Over thinking and also hungry' tshirt from Shein ^^

:: I got myself a few new tshirts this week from the brand Shein, which I hadn't heard of until they popped up in my Instagram. I wanted some basic, cotton tees to wear training or just around the house when I'm working, and I didn't want to pay a fortune either, because I will be making a mess with paints or, quite inevitably, getting Gizmos claws stuck in them (like every God damn thing I own!). These tops were so affordable and I have no complaints about them; all I will say is do your research on sizing, because they come up small. I had already read reviews so I managed to order the right sizes for me! I am super happy with all three; I have the 'Overthinking and also hungry' one, which is me through and through, 'UM - the element of confusion', which I thought was hilarious and a cute sunset print one too, I love them all!

:: I am really into listening to audiobooks whilst I do the cardio-slog at the gym, and have just downloaded a book I have wanted to read for a long time, The Salt Path, by Raynor Winn, a book about Raynor, and her husband Moth's, journey along the South West coast path, after finding out he had a terminal illness. I will keep you posted on what I think as I get into it, but I feel like it will be one of those deep, thought provoking reads that will make me cry (at least I can say it is sweat from the cardio right?). If you have read it, or listened of course, let me know what your thoughts are, did you like it?

:: All my new products are now ready to go on sale in my shop, I just have to photograph them all this coming week, and they should all go up by Friday! You can expect a sticker, cards and a tear-off note pad too, all to go with the to-do list I released a couple of weeks back! I am planning a couple of Christmas releases too, which won't necessarily be Christmas in theme, but will be out ready for you to buy them as stocking fillers for all your friends (of which there are hundreds right?!)... pushy sales woman alert! I can't wait to start working on all my new ideas!

Thank you so much for reading todays post. I won't promise a Wednesday post as yet but I am positive there will be one, and hopefully a vlog too! Stay tuned as always and thank you so much for sticking around, I honestly appreciate each and every one of you.

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