29 June 2015

THE POWER OF JOURNALLING

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I mentioned in a recent YouTube video that I had been inspired to pick up a journal again thanks to the lovely Gemma from Little Tiny Pieces. I have many a half-full notebook from my younger years, spilling out my worldly worries and thoughts but, as I have gotten older, and life has become a lot less eventful (thank God!), I guess I haven't really written much journal wise. The most I may have done, over the last ten years, is to take a sheet of paper and kind of just start to write about, well, anything on my mind really. Generally, this piece of paper would have got neatly folded and squirreled away somewhere, only to be discovered and ripped up a year or so later.

To be honest, I really regret throwing my writing away. I think that, when I read old journal entries, I am mostly embarrassed, but I still wish I had everything I had written. It is a lovely insight into how far you have grown and how much strength you have gained I guess.

When Gemma and I discussed journaling as a way to help settle my mind before bed and write all my thoughts down, I knew exactly what I wanted to record down on paper, so off I trotted to the shop to find a notebook that looked 'right'...they have to be right to write you know?

So now I have a new bedtime ritual. I put my phone on charge and try my best not to look at it again. Then, I pick up my notebook and I record the following things about my day...

:: Things I am grateful for today
As loyal readers of this very blog will know, my regular Friday post is all about gratitude. During the week I always think 'ooh, that should definitely be on my list this week', then by Friday I cannot remember what it was that made me stand still, smile and be grateful. This isn't because I am totally self-absorbed, I can assure you of that, but my forgetfulness is usually down to tiredness and a severe case of 'end of the week hysteria'...you must have heard of that, surely?! Now though, with my daily gratitude lists I have zero excuse. I'm actually quite surprised at the amount of things I list day to day, even on days I have felt pretty low...there is always something or someone to write about.

:: Things I am thinking about
Whilst this specific section of the daily journal isn't always positive it really helps get things out of my head and onto paper. I don't tend to go into lots of details but just bullet point the main things that are either worrying me or are just on my mind. This could be anything from work concerns to priorities on my 'to-do' list that I really don't want to forget.

:: Something that made me smile today
Hopefully there is more that one thing to be listed here, but I try to remember the moment that caused the biggest grin and jot it down in this section. It is a nice thing to end on I think.

So, there you have it. That is what I do right before sleep hits. If you are not journaling I can highly recommend it. If listing something isn't for you, and you prefer to write stream of consciousness thoughts then just go for it. It is really cleansing for your mind and I honestly look forward to doing it every evening.

If you already journal then let me know what it is you write about. Do you have a regular list of things, like mine, or do you do something totally different? Let me know!
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26 June 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #23

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{Image sourced from Pinterest | Original found here}

I feel like I haven't been at home, sat at my desk on a Friday morning for weeks. It has been a super-busy time and so the first thing I feel grateful for is being in the comfort of my own home with my lovely hubby... I haven't seen an awful lot of him of late. 

I hope you guys are doing well and that you have had a wonderful week? What are you up to this weekend? Let me know in the comments! I am going to be throwing paint around and mind-mapping some business bits and bobs (which the Monica Geller in me is looking forward to!). I am also looking forward to tonights 'treat meal', which is home made pizza and a chocolate orange that a work colleague left in my tray on Monday. I have purposefully left it at work all week to reduce the temptation to just lock myself in my office and stuff my face. It's been hard, let me tell you.

Anyway, let's get to the highlights of this week, the gratitude list...

1. Lavender pillow spray. I have recently switched up my night-time ritual. I try my best to put my phone down once the alarm has been set and not re-visit it at all. I then do some journaling (more to come on that at some point) and spray some of my lavender pillow spray - I got mine on a recent jaunt to a National Trust property and they had some in the gift shop, oh, how I love a gift shop! As much as I have heard various people talk about lavender pillow sprays and how much of a difference they can make I have never really thought that they would work. It could be totally psychological but I do feel more relaxed and if I wake in the night I can still smell it and it is super soothing. Hey, whatever, it works for me!

2. Bird shadows (bear with me on this one!). On Wednesday, when I got home, I was standing out in the garden with Joe (we were watching a Spitfire cruising about in the sky) when I spotted a funny little show going on. Our garage roof was in shadow on next doors wall and, although we can't see our roof 'live' from our garden, I could see it in silhouette via the house opposite. I watched as several feathered friends hopped along the top, chasing each other and chirping away. It made me smile and laugh as they jumped about. So cute to see.

3. Little Gizmo running after my car when I got home yesterday. There's a road, just off of one of the main roads on our estate, that runs in front of several houses on the way to our house at the very end. I pulled into that road at about 9.30pm last night to find our 'little bear' sat in the middle of it looking up and down the street (she was probably looking for birds but I like to think she was waiting for me!). As I slowly drove past her she picked up speed and ran after my car, all the way up the road to meet me. I love that furry bear.

4. Poppies springing up wherever they please. We have so many poppies in random places near home. One has sprung up in between Joe's car and mine, and I love them. Driving home and seeing a whole field of bright red is wonderful.

5. Dark chocolate and orange rice cakes. As I was working late yesterday I treated myself to a little snack to have after my dinner. They were so yummy (and gluten free!).

Other things that I have been up to this week: I put up two YouTube video's this week. You may have seen the first one but I also put up an update video...check it out here! / I have been mentally buying a million things from Bodens summer collection, like these shoes, this skirt and these shorts (and pretty much any of their basic tee's and stripey tops!) / listening to Muse's new album 'Drones', I am in love with the first half of the album and need to listen more to the rest! You know what it's like with albums, you tend to repeat your top tracks until you are bored of them! I do like a bit of Muse though / on the topic of music, my talented hubby is working on releasing an album with his band and so we have been listening to tracks all week. For some unknown reason he likes my opinion. I go all Bob Rock in the 'directors chair' though. Need to reign that in a bit I think!

Have an awesome weekend everyone. Have a fab one xoxo
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22 June 2015

SELF IMAGE

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I have wanted to post this for a little while but, as usual with particularly personal posts, it has taken some courage and strength to 'just do it'! I also would like to add that another reason for not wanting to put this up is because I didn't want anyone to think I am after some kind of positive feedback to feed my ego; hand on heart, this is not the case and makes me cringe when I see posts that I think are purely placed for people to massage their egos! (Phew, so glad to have cleared that up!).

There are a few reasons for me posting a self-image post at this moment in time. The first one is because I have a continuing personal battle with my own self-image, the second is that I work in a school and worry like crazy about what gets fed to these poor kids and the things they worry about at such a young and vulnerable age and the third reason is because of what is still placed in the media (social or otherwise) for all of us to look at is so bloody damaging and I cannot believe things have not moved on yet! (Even in magazines aimed at 'older' women like myself - i.e not teenagers!)

Let me address the first issue - my own self image...When I was young/teenager I looked a lot like this (well, exactly like this actually, because those pictures are of me!)

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No kid looks their absolute best when they are trying to find out who they are. Add hormones into the mix and it is a bit of a struggle isn't it? Needless to say I was very badly bullied at school for a number of reasons including being big, wearing glasses, having spots and whatever else the lovely individuals felt like yelling at me on any given day. Whilst they trundled along with their day, probably forgetting they had even said a thing, I was left feeling worthless. This is something that has stuck with me ever since those days and I don't think will ever pass.

I am aware that it is impossible to police what kids are saying to one another but I do think we can teach (both in school and at home) a more positive way of thinking, not only about our own bodies, but about how others look and the impact we can have through one measly comment. 

I have been left with some pretty deep emotional scars from my past but am a lot more positive than I used to be about how I look. I have days where I think 'f*%k it', I am who I am, I have lumps and bumps, I have physical scars from my past (grrr...stretch marks!) and I am getting damn wrinkles for heavens sake, but I am just an ordinary woman, trying to make the best of her life and I keep as healthy as I can. I eat 'clean' 90% of the time, I exercise regularly and I try my very best always to be kind and thoughtful and help out others. So, when I am all down about myself I try to remember those things and not dwell on those horrible people who told me I wasn't good enough/thin enough/pretty enough (etc etc) to 'fit in'. What is 'fitting in' anyway? And who decided that there is certain criteria for fitting in? They should take a long walk off a short pier in my opinion.

With age comes an understanding that we are who we are and, despite the fact that most of us are not truly happy with ourselves in some form or another, as we grow into ourselves I think we start to appreciate how amazing our bodies are. They are ruddy awesome machines that heal us when we are poorly, hold onto millions of memories (or, in my case, song lyrics to the most random, ancient songs ever!), they are the vessels we live in for many years and carry us through the good times and the bad. In my opinion that is pretty effing great.

I could write about this stuff all day long but I guess my main point is this: whether it is bullying or an un-achievable, photo-shopped body in a magazine, we have to be so careful what we are putting out there or saying to young people (and adults actually) because it hangs around for the rest of their lives. That is no joke. So, let's just try to reduce the pressure a bit and appreciate ourselves a little more, because we all have through enough stress in our lives without comparing ourselves to an unrealistic image. Instead, let's admire intelligent, inspirational women out there, regardless of what they look like. Let's try our best to look in the mirror in the morning and find even one thing we love about our appearance (I'm sure there is more than one thing!), because you are bloody awesome, just the way you are.

xoxo
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15 June 2015

THOUGHTS / UPDATE

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{Image sourced from Pinterest | Original found here}

I actually intended to put up a YouTube video today which had a chatty update at the end of it, but the lighting was so terrible I didn't want to put it up! Sometimes that happens. I had spent a couple of hours preparing what I wanted to say and then filming it (and tidying everything up again!) and then editing the video, but when I uploaded it and watched it back it just did not cut it. Sad face.

So, I am going with a trusty faithful instead. A blog post.

Survey results
I wanted to just say a huge thank you to all you lovely people who completed a survey for me. I sat and had a good look through all your comments (and still have to respond to a couple of you who left email addresses for me - I will get there, I haven't forgotten you, I promise!).

In essence we are all in agreement that I will move my Monday YouTube video into the side bar and that you guys that watch my YouTube channel probably subscribe anyway so may not need it as a post. If you don't subscribe then you most definitely should! You can do so right here.

I also have a good idea of what you are enjoying as well as what you are happy to see more of, so thank you. My main point is to say that changes take time, so bare with me whilst I decide what I am doing with a few things. 

New ventures
Some of you may have noted, via some previous posts, that I am working with a coach at the moment. This is not to hone my hand/eye coordination or to make me the next Wimbledon Champion but it is to help me take steps towards the life I have wanted to lead for many, many years. If you saw this vlog I cryptically mentioned a 'project' I am working on. I am still not wanting to go into loads of details, as it is very early days, but I am willing to say that this 'project' is a small, creative business idea (gulp!). 

The important thing to note here is that this blog means the world and I love creating content for YouTube as well as on this very space, but I also have other irons in the fire and, let me tell you something, these irons take up an awful lot of time, time I really don't have going spare without having a little shift around. I work full time, commute a fair distance, work evenings and weekends on blogging and YouTube(ing) and so the thought of trying to set up a business in the gaps has been somewhat overwhelming. My lovely coach, Gemma Sands, has really helped me to dig down and realise what I need to shift about in order to start building my life the way I want it and to transition my blog into something that I want it to be also.

So, this is the main thing that I have realised lately: I do not want to be a blogger who rushes out content because I have to, or because I have lost track of time and need to get something on the blog asap. I want the content to be good, creative, honest and strong.

Whilst building my little business on the side I have made the decision to cut back on posts. I haven't quite decided by how much yet, but just enough to create room to move my business plan forward. Right now I am grabbing 30 minutes here, one hour there but, in truth, that is no where near enough to make a significant dent in any of my plans!

You guys all mean the world to me so I really appreciate you hanging on in there whilst I figure this all out. I am not going anywhere though, that is for certain.

Health
Lastly, and I will be doing a video update on this soon, my mental health has been a little up and down. This is probably something to do with not getting any 'me' time. Gemma refers to this as 'self-care' and she really is spot on. To her, it is really important to have time to be still and quiet and reflect. Life cannot always be go, go, go (can it mum? - she is another one that is always telling me to slow down!). So, for my health and my sanity I am attempting to slow the 'eff' down. 

I am going to be replacing the time spent blogging with business stuff but it is all for the greater good and will, eventually, balance itself out...eventually.

That is where I am at right now. How about you? I'd like to mention here too that Gemma's podcasts, which you can find here, have been really helpful, as have the 'Make It Happen' series, by Jen from the blog Jenny Purr.
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9 June 2015

GONE FISHING (!)

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{Image source-Pinterest | Original here}

Hey there...

Just to let you know I have decided to take a little bit of time off from my blog, not too long, panic ye not, just this week. I will back with you next week, firing on as many cylinders as I can. In the name of being as transparent, as I usually am on here, I am just not myself right now but hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly :-)

I also just wanted to say that, whilst I am not posting, I am reviewing the survey results! So, thank you to all you guys who took the survey for me, I really appreciate it and will make my mind up soon on some of the little tweaks I want to make.

I hope you guys all have a fab rest of week and I will see you on the flip side (that's next week to anyone in my age bracket...just trying to appeal to the hip and trendies among us - I think I will stop doing that as of...now!).

Take care guys, see you soon.

Lucy 
xoxo
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5 June 2015

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #22

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^^For a thorough explanation of the above madness see #1^^

There's no sugar coating this week for me, it has been a tough one. That said, however rough things have been it is always damn important to find small things to be thankful for. Let's kick this off with a funny little art installation created by my hubby...

1. On Wednesday afternoon I came home to a sock picture (see above!). Can we look past the very strange sock collection that I own (to be honest that is just the tip of the iceberg!) and bring our attention to what Joe created here. Exhibit a: on the far left of the picture we have Geoffrey and Morris (Geoffrey is the dog by the way). This unlikely pair are our little lucky mascots. Geoffrey was made by me, from a craft pack, the day after we got engaged and Morris was bought from a little shop in Cornwall after I felt sorry for him sitting there all alone. Just a side note - they are reading Country Living magazine! Exhibit b: the sock collage. Note the 'L' and 'J' carefully crafted out of scruffy socks! The red and blue stripey socks are known as my 'ruggers' (as in rugby socks and, before you ask, no, I don't play rugby!). This made me smile when I came home though! :-)

2. I have said this before, but I work with some amazing people. I am always grateful for them but this week I am especially grateful. That's all I'm going to say.

3. Our new Gizmo routine. Recently I have developed a new evening ritual with Gizmo. I started it because she was shedding so much hair that she needed more grooming than usual. So, after dinner, I wander through to the kitchen, closely followed by our little bear, trotting along behind, and I grab her 'noms' (whatever treats she is currently okay with eating) and her brush and we head back to the lounge and sit on the floor. She merrily roles around purring whilst I brush her and then headbutts me until she gets her treat. She then hops out the patio door to go and show the world how posh she is looking. I love these few minutes of time spent doing this, she is a super mood booster. I love that moggy.

4. Painting to some pretty awesome music. You may know I love my loud, rock music, but this week I have been listening to something a little more peaceful as I work. Joe gave me a copy of the Journey soundtrack. Journey is a game he has on his PS3 and it is pretty amazing and very sweet (that's a good review considering I rarely 'do' computers). The soundtrack is beautiful, think gentle, orchestral magic! This track, called 'Nascence', is simply stunning and sends shivers up my spine. 

5. On a slightly shallower note...I am extremely grateful for my Bobbi Brown corrector, which arrived in the post today. My black bags will be forever thankful. 

I hope all of you guys have had an amazing week. If you haven't had a chance to do my blog survey yet (thank you to all you guys who have) please click here if you fancy answering the quick questions (it will take about 3 minutes!). Thank you for being here and for reading my blog. You guys all mean the absolute world to me. 
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3 June 2015

A MORNING IN MOTTISFONT, IN PICTURES

Joe and I treated ourselves to a National Trust membership when we were away getting married in April, mostly because we spend a small fortune parking in National Trust car parks and going for amazing walks along the protected Cornish coastline, but also because we love to visit historic properties and wander about in the grounds. We both find this super inspiring and very relaxing to do, especially in the spring/summer months.

Last weekend, deciding we were in desperate need of getting out the house, we flicked through the information pack that we received with our membership, and had a look at what was on offer in our area. We quickly chose Mottisfont, a stunning property just over half an hour away from home, with the most beautiful grounds and walled garden I think I have seen (maybe Hever Castle in Kent slightly tops it, but to be honest that is more down to the Tudor history, which I am obsessed with!).

Honestly though guys, if you are local to Hampshire/Wiltshire you have to visit Mottisfont, it blew my mind completely and was the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday morning. Rather than waffle on about it, trying to explain how amazing it is, I thought I would pop a series of photo's below for you to see its beauty for yourselves...

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^^The tour takes you through the property's 800 year history^^

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^^ Getting there before opening was well worth it, we had an hour strolling around the grounds before heading into the house^^

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^^The walled garden is a gardeners dream, not to mention how romantic walking around hand in hand felt here^^

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^^Around every corner felt like a scene from a magical childrens movie^^

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^^What is it about being surrounded my beautiful flowers within a walled garden that transports you a million miles from home...^^

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^^Once in the house you are free to explore the maids chambers as well as the main rooms^^

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^^A little blurry, but I couldn't resist taking a photo of these guys, I can only imagine what they must have seen!^^

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^^This doorway led through to a very old part of the building, from when it was a priory^^

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^^A quirky little mirror selfie!^^

Have you visited Mottisfont? Let me know what you thought if you had. We absolutely loved it. They have some wonderful exhibitions on in the gallery, located upstairs in the property. I am particularly looking forward to going back around October time when they have a display of art celebration trees and nature, something I spent one year of my art degree printing and drawing. We shall certainly be going back to this wonderful place and I love the fact that it is only 30 minutes away from home.
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1 June 2015

MAY FAVOURITES!

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I don't do monthly favourites every month these days as I don't really switch things up very often in terms of my skin care routine and I definitely don't buy mountains of clothes to warrant showcasing here! (To be honest, if I do buy clothes, I am sure that no one would be overly interested in what I am mooching about in anyway!).

That said, I did have a few odds and ends I thought worth putting in a video for you guys this month, just don't get used to it alright! If you want to see all the links to the things I mention in the video just click through to the main video here and have a little look at the information box below the video!

What was your favourite thing in the month of May? Let me know in the comments!

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