29 April 2016

TAKING STOCK | APRIL 2016

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{Image sourced from Pinterest}

It is hard to imagine we are going into May when there are giant hailstones and sleet hitting the ground outside the window, yet here we are, at the end of another month.

As we enter a lovely Bank Holiday weekend (*insert happy dance here), I thought it would be nice to recap the month and remember what has been going on, as it all passed by in such a flash! Let me know in the comments what has been the high-point of your month and link your Taking Stock if you do it on your blog too!

Making | lots of hot water bottles at 3am because of a month of illness.
Cooking | healthy salads (recipe to follow next month!).
Drinking | a little rose wine (unheard of, but it happened this month!).
Reading | endless tutorials and tips for Adobe Illustrator! (I know, exciting times huh?!)
Wanting | 'Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration' - I have seen this a few times recently and really want to get my hands on a copy!
Looking | a little 'fluffy'. For some reason, recently, my hair is all static and fluffy. Why? I have no idea! Any tips?
Playing | James Bay 'Scars', lots of Michael Jackson and my usual business-related podcasts!
Deciding | whether to embark on a new fitness challenge (I have now decided and will fill you in shortly!)
Wishing | this crazy winter weather would give up! It's almost May for heavens sake (it is actually snowing whilst I am typing this post!).
Enjoying | finalising my business branding thanks to a kick up the backside!
Watching | (don't laugh!) glute activating videos on YouTube. Why? It's a long story! I won't bore you with training-related things right now!
Waiting | patiently for the next half term.
Liking | having lots of lovely conversations with fellow creatives on Snapchat and Instagram (come and say hi! My Snapchat username is lucycarterart)
Wondering | when I will stop feeling so exhausted! Is this just how it is going to be forever now I am over 35? Answers on a postcard.
Loving | chocolate digestives a little too much this month.
Hoping | the iPod I take to the gym isn't broken. It keeps cutting out... it probably is broken huh?
Marvelling | once again, over the amazing support from wonderful work colleagues.
Needing | every month I say this... new trainers!! I still haven't got new ones. I really need to find some I like guys. To be fair, there are plenty I am lusting over, but why are they a small fortune?!
Smelling | the dregs of my perfume... I need another bottle asap!
Wearing | sportswear... a lot (except for trainers obviously!).
Following | the cat into the garden to see what on Earth she has been staring at for days on end. I still have no idea!
Noticing | a man drinking from a china mug in his very posh car, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Is it me, or is that a bit strange?
Knowing | I need to move quicker with my ideas and stop procrastinating so much.
Thinking | a lot about pancakes.
Feeling | sad that one of my favourite people is leaving work in a couple of weeks. Syb, you will be missed A LOT!
Opening | an ASOS parcel and loving way too much of it! 
Giggling | at work after totally mishearing someone and thinking they had said something very rude, when they had actually said 'blueberry cake'. Probably best I don't go into it!
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23 April 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #49

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Another week has reached a close and, I have to say, it has been an emotional one. 2016 has been a year of loss for so many people (and I am not just talking about the talent that has been called away recently). Weeks like this make me think about the bigger picture of life and certainly help me to re-evaluate things and see things with more gratitude and thanks. I am being purposefully vague here as the loss I refer to this week is not mine to discuss, but you cannot stand by and witness others hurt without it touching you.

Aside from the sadness around this week (and the illness, because there is also a lot of that too) let me share some of the other things that have kept me chugging along too the beat of the clock...this is what I have been grateful for this week.

1. Getting an ASOS parcel that is in one piece. I did a big order last week, you know the type, where you order everything in two sizes and have a heart attack when you see the final amount? Anyway, when it arrived (three hours late from the one hour slot) the poor delivery driver had been caught in a ford and the van had got stuck and flooded with water. All my box (and everyone else's parcels in the van) were soggy and falling apart. He still brought it to me - just in case! I obviously didn't sign for it and ASOS were fairly speedy in sorting it. The disappointing thing was that a fair amount of the items I had ordered were out of stock when I had to put it through again, so I have missed out, but still, I got some bits through yesterday, they were dry and everything!

2. Chocolate digestives dipped in tea. After a hard day on Thursday, this was mighty wonderful and should be prescribed on the NHS!

3. Sleep. I didn't have a full nights sleep until last night, thanks to the beauty of tonsillitis (yucky plague that it is!). Last night, however, I crashed out and basically didn't wake up until about 9am this morning. It was heaven on a stick. I am just not someone who can properly function without sleep, it destroys me!

4. This week, after quite a few weeks of listening to it endlessly on Spotify, I bought James Bay's album, 'Chaos and the Calm', and I love it so much. My three absolute favourite songs right now are 'Let It Go', 'Scars' (which is so beautiful), and 'Move Together'. I must admit, I prefer his slower stuff to the lively songs, but it is a good album and definitely something I have been listening to  constantly since I got it.

5. Star Wars arriving through the front door! That is what I will be doing this evening if any one is interested! :-)

How has your week been?

(PS: Don't forget to add me to your Snapchat by searching my username lucycarterart if you fancy keeping up with what happens during the week!)
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21 April 2016

EVERY CLOUD...

Arriving in Salisbury at 8am on Sunday morning, to queue at the emergency medical centre with tonsillitis, wasn't the greatest way to spend my day off. But when it turned out to be the most peaceful, bird-song-filled stroll around the cathedral grounds I've ever had, it didn't seem that bad after all.

If you have ever been to the cathedral you will know how beautiful it is. The square that surrounds it is incredibly pretty, with stunning houses and, at this time of year, the most gorgeous blossom trees and spring flowers. It really is something to see.

Given that it was early on a Sunday morning, and the shops weren't even open yet, there weren't many people around, other than those going to the morning service at the cathedral, so it was truly serene and a perfect time to linger around looking at the architecture and the exhibition of sculptures, titled 'Relationships', currently being displayed by artist Sophie Ryder.

I wanted to keep this post all about the images, so I won't waffle on, but if you want to see the exhibition, you have until 3rd July (I really recommend it, especially the cloisters sculptures, which are so very breathtaking). See the Salisbury Cathedral website for lots more information.

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16 April 2016

LET'S TALK ABOUT #1 | STRANGENESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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{Image sourced from Pinterest | Original found here}

I feel a new series coming on... starting with a bit of a tongue in cheek one today to lighten my mood!

I thought I would call this series 'Let's Talk About...' as it allows me complete creative freedom to waffle on about whatever the heck I want, and it will just fit! Hurrah!

Today I wanted to have a bit of a rant about social media. In fact, it was something that happened very recently that added the cherry on top of my pile of other cherries, and made me want to get it out of my system.

I obviously love social media (I kind of need to) but sometimes, people are complete and utter idiots (I am trying to be polite here of course!). I am not going to ramble on forever about my complaints, just hit you with a few of my experiences, just so we can compare notes in the comments. Let's do this!

:: Why is it deemed totally acceptable for a guy to send inappropriate messages to someone they have never spoken to on-line or in real life? No amount of 'hey gorgeous, do you fancy a piece of this?' is going to make me jump in my car and head over to your place full of the joys of spring okay? So, just don't bother with it! I haven't time to keep blocking every Tom, Dick (literally) and Harry that is being a complete wally on-line!

:: Also, as an added point to the one above, don't just send me pictures of your man-vegetables and expect me to fall in love with you. Give us ladies a break alright?

:: What is it with Instagram account holders offering gazillions of followers? I must get tagged in about 10-20 posts a week about that. I am happy with my little group of IG friends thank you all the same, they are all people I am interested in and I like chatting to them. Jog on with your long list of fake people, I am trying to build my tribe over here!

:: Automatic Twitter responses/DM's - it is the easiest way to make me hit 'unfollow' straight away.

:: Strange blog comments. The reason I have my comments on 'post when approved', or whatever the heck-fire it is called, is so I don't let you guys see all the spam comments I get about viagra... I mean, why?!

:: Also, how many of you ladies on Snapchat get really inappropriate snaps? Not just me then!

Enough Lucy, enough.

*On a positive note, I have been seeing so many women on-line really getting behind one anothers blogs, businesses and ideas, and it is so wonderful to be a part of that community. On my Instagram, the other week, a couple of my lovely friends started chatting together and that was so lovely to see. I am seriously happy when things like that happen <3

Come on then, tell me some of your experiences in the comments!
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10 April 2016

FIVE THINGS I AM GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #48

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Don't worry guys, you are not going bonkers, I have posted my usual Friday post on a Sunday! I just felt it right to get a post up about mental health on Friday, so I went with that gut instinct. But, here I am today with my grateful list. I wouldn't miss it for the world because, truly, it is so important to remember what has gone right, even on a slightly strange week.

Before I get started I must do a shameless Snapchat username reminder... you can find me by searching 'lucycarterart' and up I will pop! Following me on Snapchat guarantees you countless silly faces, cat clips and other rambles... actually, that may put you off!

Okay, let's get started on this weekly round up shall we? Here are the things I have been grateful for this week.

1. Having a spontaneous outbreak of strange dancing with some colleagues. Honestly kids, you have no idea what goes on in school when it is the holidays! There was YouTube, there was tea, it was a rave I tell you!

2. Finding some bargain ankle boots in the White Stuff sale. I had my eyes on a couple of pairs from the winter collection, as I was desperate for brown ankle boots, but just couldn't spend the money. On Sunday, Joe and I went into town and, low and behold, one pair left, in my size! Woo-hoo! Sale bargains are the best feeling. Thanks boot-fairies!

3. Getting my backside back to the gym. I did it! Finally, after weeks of not going because of all the things that have been happening recently. It felt so good to get back to lifting some weights and pushing my body again. I am back people :-)

4. Frozen peas. Random? Yes. On Thursday I fell over... in public. Heavens above people, it was horrific. I am battered and bruised in places that have somewhat surprised me because I actually don't remember even hitting those places on anything. I have an egg-sized swelling on my knee (hence the peas) a blue bruise on my right arm and a swollen forearm, to name a few places! I am pleased (?) to say that I didn't just fall, I slipped on something on the floor in a garage whilst attempting to pay for petrol, but it was humiliating nonetheless! :-(

5. This week I have been super-grateful for Chinae, aka 'Get Fit Brooklyn' on Instagram and Snapchat. This ballsy New Yorker is super inspirational. I love her IG feed because it is so real (God, I hate using that word, but it fits here). This week she posted this picture and I could hug her for it. Chinae documents her fitness journey and she is amazing at it too. Her constant promotion of healthy over skinny is refreshing and I love her confidence to put herself out-there, and why not, she's stunning. Also, her stories on Snapchat are really, really funny too!

In other news: 
I downloaded this album earlier this week. I felt like reminiscing on some old r & b tunes, and this did not disappoint! / I have been obsessed with finding new Instagram-artist-type-people this last few weeks and am loving stumbling across Bianca from Wild Humm. I adore her work (being such a lover of all things water-colour related!) and thing her blog is fab, specifically her interviews with fellow creatives / Speaking of things I am obsessed over, and I hate that this is something materialistic, but I would love to get my hands on one of the Daily Greatness Journals - they are definitely not cheap, but I find documenting and tracking life super helpful for not just general day to day things, but for my mental and physical well-being too. I have heard such good things about these bad boys also :-)

What have been your highlights this week? Share some in the comments below!

PS: Did you notice there is a new YouTube video in the side bar >>>>? Subscribe to my channel HERE!
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8 April 2016

MENTAL HEALTH UPDATE

(Warning... this might be a lengthy one and does contain my honest account of mental health issues... if you need more professional material or help click here or here or you can email me for a chat if it'll help of course fromlucywithlove@outlook.com).

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{This beautiful little image was taken from Pinterest | Original found here}

It's been a little while since I posted something about mental health. It's something I like to keep talking about in this space, not just because I suffer with my own issues, but just to keep it in the forefront of your mind too because you may need a friend or maybe you know someone else who is suffering and want to try and understand what they are thinking or feeling. Whatever the reasons, I hope you don't mind me discussing it every now and then.

I have now been on my medication (Fluroxetine) since about...November (I think). I have mentioned before that I avoided any kind of medication for years and years through the fear of the side effects, but recently needed to take something, like really needed to take something! I am happy to report I do feel much more human on a daily dose of medication, and thought I would take some time today to explain what they do, as it can be very difficult for people to understand the difference they make.

I will start with these few paragraph's that I wrote back in December last year (but didn't post here in the end)...

'On Friday I woke up wanting to get out of bed for the first time in what has felt like an eternity. I cuddled Joe in the kitchen, before breakfast, and cried happy tears, whilst trying to act out how I have been feeling verses what I felt at that very moment. I told him that right then, at that moment, I felt like I could peer over the tall, black wall that I had been facing for a long time, rather than desperately trying to jump up and down to see over it and failing, miserably. 

You guys certainly know by now that I have my battles with mental health (almost 20 years worth now) and, more recently, it had become hell on Earth again. The worst I have experienced. I went to the doctors and just said to him that I felt mentally exhausted, utterly worn down and like I couldn't function. That every time I get a severe 'low' it gets more and more difficult to face. For the first time ever I asked to go back on medication. That's how I knew I was desperate. 

Last time I was on medication was about this time last year and only for a few short weeks. I came off them because I started to feel a bit disconnected and was concerned about that. Hindsight is fabulous thing - I should have stayed on the low dose and stuck it out. But, here I am again, back on the same tablets and, even though it has only been a few weeks, I am starting to feel the fog lift on the black, suppressing, paralysing mood that comes with depression and anxiety. I feel fortunate that what I am taking kicks in so fast, even though I was told they wouldn't. They did the same last year and I remember the same day occurring: 'fog lifting day' - it is wonderful.

I said to Joe, as I was doing my little act of jumping in the air, trying to see over the wall, that I still feel low, my brain is still struggling, every day things are still overwhelmingly hard to face, but with just a tiny bit of sun peeping through the fog I am able to do so much more and, surely, this is only going to get better?'

So, what does it feel like on medication? Speaking only for the tablets I take, I didn't really feel a great deal of difference, physically speaking. They give me the slight judders and, during the first couple of weeks, occasionally made me feel like I had drunk one to many coffees, but that is really it. I think myself lucky, considering the side-effects list with anti-depressants could win Olympic medals for covering all bases! My biggest worry was weight gain, as I had experienced a large amount on previous tablets (many years back). If I am honest it was the fear of gaining weight that stopped me helping myself, because it is one big old vicious circle of how I look and feel physically verses my mental state. It is a painful combination of emotions sometimes! But Fluroxetine seems to be 'the one' for me and, so far, no weight gain from it...phew!

My advice to anyone thinking about going on something is to bare with it, give it time to get into your system before making any quick judgement and definitely don't decide to just pull yourself off them without seeing a doctor first, as doing that can be equally as dangerous. You may not find the right thing from the get-go and what works for me, may not work for you, even if our symptoms are identical. The side effects will be different for everyone but what I can promise you is that, when you do find the right ones for you, the pros most certainly out-weigh the cons. For me, my deepest, darkest thoughts, fade right into the background when the medication is right. I could increase my dose but, to be honest, I prefer to feel something, even if it is a bit painful sometimes. I like to still face up to things, but what I don't want is crippling fear of life.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel, even on days when you may feel like there isn't. Reach out to people, talk it through, do nice things for yourself, and it will be better.

I hope this has been a bit helpful for someone. I have written a few things on mental health which are linked here by post title: 'Self Image' / 'Where to find help & how to help yourself' / 'Mindfulness' / 'Mental Health Awareness Week' / 'Thoughts on being strong' / 'The mystery of anxiety' / 'Mental health YouTube video'

Get in touch with me if you would like to via Instagram, Twitter or email me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com - have a fab day guys xx

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1 April 2016

FIVE THINGS I'M GRATEFUL FOR THIS WEEK #47

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You know when you keep messing up time and time again and have to constantly apologise for things? That's very much how I feel with you guys at the moment. The tumbleweed has been all over this blog for a week or two. You may remember I mentioned I had a ridiculous virus/bug (plague?)... it is only just starting to subside now and has really knocked me out. Not helped by my random attempt at trying some spinning last weekend, which seemed to aggravate the miserable thing.

Never fear though, I am here now (you may not have even noticed I had gone of course!). Also, I am putting up a YouTube video on Monday! Hurrah!

Without further a do, let me move on to my 'Five Things I am Grateful for This Week' ramble... it has been a lovely week too!

1. Today marks one year since our wedding day. I received some gorgeous flowers through the door yesterday and, in the spirit of the tradition of giving paper for your first anniversary, I opened up some beautiful Moleskine water-colour sketchbooks this morning - there could not have been a better present! Where has the year gone to? How is it already one year ago? <3

2. Although I had to work some days this week, it was really nice being at school when it is totally unoccupied for a bit to get things done and feel a little more chilled in the process. I am so grateful for that! I also got to take a non-rushed lunch-break with a rather awesome colleague of mine too. It's the little moments people!

3. I cannot possibly write this post without mentioning the spring weather. I know us English love talking about the weather, but I actually got to sit out in the sun yesterday and it felt so wonderful. The sun has to be one of the greatest healers and never fails to soothe my mind.

4. The little seeds I planted two weekends ago and placed on the kitchen windowsill have popped their little heads up and some of them are ready to be moved outside already. Is there anything more satisfying then seeing something you have planted peep through the soil and grow?

5. Easter chocolate. Does there need to be more detail? Didn't think so!

In other news:
I saw this really cool idea for a homemade cat toy where you take an old plastic bottle, cut out a couple of holes in the side, just big enough to let a biscuit out, and pop treats inside and do the lid up. I went to a lot of effort to get this thing done (can you see where this is going?). I enthusiastically put it on the floor and Gizmo looked at it, pawed it once, looked at me as if to say 'mum, just get my biscuits out please' and walked off. Rude. / I haven't eaten any Nutella for weeks (gasp!) - thought that was worth a mention! / Last Friday I smushed together two recipes to make one, rather yummy, quinoa salad and dressing. I was quite impressed with my efforts - shall I blog post it? /

I hope you guys are all doing well. Keep your eyes peeled for the new YouTube video which, unless you subscribe to my channel, will appear on the right hand side of this blog next week! (But, to be safe, you should probably just subscribe huh? I'm shameless aren't I?!).
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