17 June 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Guys, I have a confession to make; as I sit here, starting to type this post, I am in somewhat of a heavenly food cloud, we have just had a super delicious pizza from Marks and Spencers, and I have had all kinds of yummy food today (by the way I write most of this post on Saturday afternoons, just in case you thought I had already had pizza before breakfast or something). I'm having a treat filled weekend and then finding my back to a maintenance plan with my food and training, having embarked on twelve whole weeks of being 'good' (I hate the word good for that but I couldn't think of anything else!). It has felt nice to have some treats though, but I am feeling all the bloated feelings right now!

How has your week been? Did you catch Wednesdays blog post? I wrote a bit of a raw one about how my recent mental health state has been, so if that is up your street then have a little read! Thankfully I am feeling more human this weekend, which is great because I was in a bad place this time last week.

Before I go onto the gratitude list / things that have happened this week I just want to let you know that Wednesdays post will be the third installment in my Body Stories series and it really is a good read, so be sure you stop by. In the meantime if you missed part one (my story) and part two (Petas story) then please do check them out and leave a comment to say what you think. Finally: if you want to add your story to this whole series then email me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com because I am still looking for more lovely people to contribute (you can remain totally anonymous if you prefer, that is absolutely fine).

Okay, enough waffling Lucy, let's get into the reason we are here!

:: This week, in a desperate attempt to push myself into leaving the house (other than my usual visits to the gym) I embarked upon a few morning walks. I was initially motivated to walk the few metres up the road to look out to the bay due to the appearance of the new aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, being moored there; she is a huge ship that's for sure. I have done a whole post about my morning walks which is coming up soon enough (with a video too!) so I won't say too much about them, other than they help clear my mind, put me into a state of mindfulness and connection with our planet that nothing else can achieve so quickly.



:: I picked up the proofs of my latest wedding stationery collection from my printers in Penzance this week and I am very happy with them! The Fern collection will be making its debut pretty soon; I am due to give the go ahead for the full print run to the printers on Monday and all I need to do from there is photos and descriptions for the website and I am good to go! If you are interested in knowing more about anything I do over at Leaf Lane Studio then please join the Leaf Lane Studio Love Notes and you will receive updates, freebies, discounts and be the first to hear of new things that are coming up!

:: On the subject of stuff I create I have popped a tab on this blog which links to the bits I sell over on Leaf Lane Studio because, well, why not! I am super busy trying to learn all the things about owning a business, which are many, whilst also trying to earn enough money to get new products out for you guys (such as the 'to-do' list pictured above!) and so any opportunity I have to shout about the things I am doing I will do that... I would say 'sorry', but this business thing is hard work (but I love it anyway!). That all said, you guys really are incredibly supportive so I can't thank you enough for that.

:: It dawned on me the other day just how long my Amazon wish-list of books is (it really is all books!). Peta and I were having a little message about the book she was reading and I had just been looking at my list of books stored on my favourite website (!) and so I saw that as a 'sign from the universe' (read 'excuse') to buy myself two from my list! I have started reading one, even though I am still finishing another book, but I am in the head space for the new one, so what the hell! I treated myself to 'Body Positive Power' by Megan Jayne Crabbe (known on Instagram as 'Bodyposipanda'), a book that I think is 100% a must read for all women. I also ordered 'You are Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life' by Jen Sincero. This book had been on my wish-list since it was released but I hadn't felt the need to order it yet, then I was looking at my list and re-read the synopsis and thought 'yeah...maybe'; the following day at the gym, whilst pedaling away on the xtrainer and listening to Kate Taylor's 'Practical Magic' podcast, I heard an interview where they couldn't stop discussing the amazing book they had read and, yes, it was Jen Sincero's book... ordered! I will type some mini-reviews when I have read both!


:: This next thing I am typing in before it has even happened, that's how grateful I am for it happening! Tonight Joe and I are going out for dinner to one of our favourite places; the last time we went out for dinner was my birthday in February, so it will be nice and I am so looking forward to indulging a little.

:: We have a 'new set' of baby sparrows in the nests along the front of the house and they wake super early 'beeping' away at the top of their lungs. It is so lovely watching them grow up and be fed by their parents and hop about in the garden.

That's about all for this week I think; I am hoping and praying that this rain we have stops soon as I had plans to cut the grass this weekend (picture an over-grown field and you'll be close to what we have going on outside right now). In the meantime I will just stay inside and shelter from the drizzle, whilst Gizmo chills in her little cat-house in the garden, watching the birds but being too lazy to move (thankfully). I hope you all have an amazing rest of weekend (or week if you aren't reading this on Sunday!).

Make sure you come back on Wednesday to read another 'Body Story' by another fantastic lady who kindly jumped on board the 'guest post' series, which I am so grateful for. Don't forget to email me if you would be happy to help out other women who would benefit from reading your story, just contact me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com - I would love you to be a part of it.
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13 June 2018

I LOVE ANIMALS BUT...


^^ I love this quote so much, I can't find an original source but this was from Pinterest ^^


... the black dog is not welcome!

*please do not read this post if mental health just isn't your 'thing', pop back on Sunday for a 'Weekly Gratitude' instead!

(Just to create a bit of context before you read this: I wrote this post on Saturday and am starting to feel a little better now, but I like to share these experiences anyway as I feel they are super important. If you need help for anything mental health related please see your GP, or if you are in desperate need of help call '111' or '999', do not be afraid to reach out for help).

Sometimes I write posts after I have had a bit of a strange old time with my mental health and reflect on how I felt, what I did to make it better etc, but right now I am writing this right in the middle of a pretty terrible time. Over the last few weeks I have felt my mood starting to dip; it's been super slow and gradual, which is the worst; when that happens you don't realise it so much, not until you are standing at the bottom of a dark old hole, looking up. 

The positive thing with this situation is that I think I know why I feel like this at least. A few weeks ago I went to the doctors and spoke about reducing my medication; I was feeling so much brighter and more consistent within myself that I just wanted to try to ease off the meds and try life without them. That is the annoying thing with medication, it fools you into thinking that you have got better, that you are cured from this strange old illness and back to 'normal', turns out that it is not always the case (crap!). The short story is that I have now chosen to go back up to the dose of my current medication and just suck it up that I have to have it to function, which is very frustrating but apparently necessary! 

Mental health is such a difficult entity isn't it? It's something that I honestly think we will never quite get to grips with. If, like me, what you have is kind of a blip in your wiring (rather than being due to a trauma you have experienced) I think it is harder to understand because you wonder why you have it, where did it come from and how you get rid of it. The worst days for me are days like today where I can't find the energy to put one foot in front of the other or the enthusiasm for anything I would normally want to do. For me, someone who trains regularly, loves to be outdoors, enjoys being creative, and all the other things that I am passionate about, it is really strange to be struck almost numb with the feeling of depression. I can sit out in the garden, a place where I usually find so magical, and feel like it is the worst place in the world. In fact, in the middle of a day like today, there are no 'right' places at all, nowhere comforting, no where safe or welcoming.

Because I have had this for years now, I have the insight to realise that as sh*tty as this feels right now, that it will pass soon and all of my motivation will return. In the mean time it is just about focusing on each minute, rather than hour, and not letting the niggles that you push to the back of your mind step forward and take centre stage because, if they are going to taunt you it will be now, at this vulnerable kind of time.

For anyone who doesn't understand why I write about this stuff (because there are plenty of people who do question it) then all I can say is that I truly believe in helping people feel like they are not alone in their suffering and that even people with the biggest smiles on their faces can be in the darkest of places (that is such an important thing to remember!).

If I could give any advice I would just say this: if you need medication, yes it can be frustrating, but if it helps you function then you may (like me) just have to go with it and see how you get on because it is not worth feeling total despair when you can have help. Also, and this is super important, reach out to someone who can help you; this may not always be a friend or family member, it may be more appropriate for you to seek professional help, but whatever works for you is the way forward. Just keep on talking and, on the really bad days make sure you are super kind and gentle with yourself, try not to get angry with yourself (although I truly know how hard that is) and remember, above anything else, that it is an illness, so don't think you are abnormal, just embrace what and who you are and work hard on finding ways that you can make yourself feel better. It takes work but it is totally worth it and, when you get your medication right and the self care balance right you can reduce your 'bad' days significantly and the ratio of good to bad becomes so much better, I promise.
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10 June 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ A hazy Sennen Cove this morning ^^

When I sit on Sunday evenings, watching The Handmaids Tale, I always think 'damn, I have to wait a whole week to see what happens now', but the week shoots by and here we are again! I must confess that I don't have a whole heap of things to share this week as I have had a pretty terrible week (more on that on Wednesdays post perhaps) so I will keep it short today, but I do have a new vlog for you, so maybe that will make up for it! It is a very chatty one, but I will try and do more regular, shorter ones again soon as I have actually missed doing them.

Into this weeks list...

:: As you will already know, if you follow along on my Instagram, I received a lovely parcel through the post from Katie Moody on Wednesday. I had ordered a notepad from her new range and some little cat stickers because, well you know... cats! I love getting parcels from small businesses as they are always so thoughtfully put together and personal, which is something I hope that my customers think too when they get something from Leaf Lane Studio!  

:: This week has not been a great week for me, mental health wise, so on Wednesday I did what I do best and cleaned like a woman possessed. For some reason this really helps me to clear a lot of the sh*t out of my mind and acts like a refresh button. I followed the cleaning frenzy with lunch and then an hours sleep. It really is about knowing what works for you personally at times like that and my suggestion is that, however crazy your 'thing' seems, do it! Me channeling my inner Monica Geller is just what happens to work for me in some way or another, and I am grateful for that!

:: Friday was World Oceans Day, and I created a little painting for it (see below!). It was nice to just sit and paint something a little different and it is off to its new home in Devon tomorrow!

:: Super big thanks must go to Peta for her wonderful contribution to my body series blog posts, if you didn't see her post it is a must read, so click right here and go have a look! There are more lovely ladies writing for this series, so stay tuned for more this summer!

:: In the middle of my strange week, I was sitting at my art desk, contemplating my existence (!) and feeling all sorts of body-image related emotions, when a song came on that really cheered me up. Having looked into what song it was I now realise that I have, once again, jumped on the bandwagon as it was leaving! The song was 'This is me' and is from the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman and I bloody love it! I may have to have a little dance about to that song as part of my morning routine if I am ever going to conquer my body issues! Do you have any uplifting songs that get you instantly motivated? Let me know!

:: This morning, after a very bad day yesterday, Joe dragged my backside out the cottage for a walk on Sennen beach; it was very much needed and so beautiful. I love feeling the sand under my feet and the waves lapping over them, it is always so calming and restoring. We got up and over to Sennen about 9am, before the craziness of the day kicked in (which just isn't something I can handle right now!). Sometimes it takes a big old effort to get out and about after 'one of those days' (weeks actually), but I am so very grateful I went!

That is all for my little list today but if you want to listen to more of what I got up to, then scroll right to the bottom of this post, past the beautiful Sennen pictures, to see this weeks vlog! I would love it if you could subscribe to my YouTube Channel too, it is growing slowly so the more the merrier!

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6 June 2018

'DEAR BODY' | GUEST POST BY PETA (PE-TA.COM)



Welcome back to my little 'Body Stories' series, if you missed the first one I will link it at the end of this post for you; for now I will keep the intro to today's post super short because I really want you to get stuck right on into this, it made me cry and I honestly think it is so beautifully written.

Today's body story comes from the absolutely gorgeous Peta, from the blog pe-ta.com; you guys will know by now how much I love this lady, she is a beautiful human, with such a kind heart and soul, so I was very happy when she said 'yes' to writing something for this series, thank you Peta! Be sure to head over to her social media and show her some love once you have read this (all the places you can find Peta are linked at the bottom of this post). Over to Peta...

*****

When Lucy popped a message over enquiring if I'd be up for writing a guest blog post on something to do with the body in a positive light, I jumped at the chance. I'm one of those half a cup full kinda cat mums who likes to view the world with her rose tinted glasses firmly in place. Despite those gorgeous specs, it doesn't mean I don't have my own body hang ups. In fact, I've got bucket loads of them... I mean in this day and age, quite honestly, who doesn't? After a bit of umming and arring over a cup of tea as to what I was going to tip tap away on my little laptop, I decided a letter to my body would rival anything I could ever pen in regards to experiences with self love. Particularly, as the way I speak to my body is changing and evolving every day in a favourable way. Maybe it's just the tea talking, maybe it's to do with my age...maybe all of those podcasts I've been listening to are rubbing off on me. I shan't dwell on the why for too long... I don't want to jinx it. 

I'm sat at my kitchen table, with a steaming cup of tea in my most favourite cat mug with a cat on my knee (Katie) and another on the chair next to me (Albert). Bon Iver is playing quietly on one of the very few (shockingly!) tabs open on my browser - the other is the thesaurus so I can sound somewhat like a writer. Now we've got the intro over, and you’re aware of the setting, I think we had better begin. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to write about something which is rather close to my heart Lucy. You're wonderful. 



Dear Body, 

We've had a bit of a tough ride you and I, throughout our childhood we were teased for having chubby legs and a podgy tummy. That poor tummy was often very sick. Those poor legs did their very best in carrying you to and from school. In running across the field and doing rollypollies down the hill at Mount Edgecumb. In Primary School our knees, ankles, elbows, fingers, everything really, ached. It all ached, but we didn't really know how to articulate that. It’s growing pains we were told, over and over again. Gosh, if growing felt like this, we hoped there wasn’t much more to go. 

As the teen years approached you blossomed quickly, you stopped growing upwards at twelve, you were tall for twelve they said, like a little giraffe. Turns out that same tall for twelve was rather small for sixteen and kinda cute at twenty - phew. You did however grow outwards at twelve, 28DDs flanked your fifteen year old otherwise small frame. The pains continued, those growing pains that actually...maybe they weren’t growing pains after all… maybe it was arthritis the doctor said. 

At sixteen your boobs were ginormous let’s not lie, you struggled to find ANY bras to fit you never mind something an eighteen year old would want to wear. Shoutout to you Bravissimo, you saved the day. Finding clothes to fit your very strange body shape became a struggle. We discovered yoga which seemed to help that pain, which was apparently arthritis. We got a job upon leaving school and worked hard in an office for four years. Sat down all day snacking didn’t do us good at all. Not only did we gain A LOT of weight, the pain was worse, and the poorly tummy was pretty much uncontrollable. 

I was rather terrible to you during those four years, probably for a little longer than that if we’re going to be honest here. You frustrated me beyond despair. WHY couldn’t I fit into the size four clothes my friends could. Why didn’t dresses just drape and flow like they did on them? Why did I look like THAT in a bikini?! Why did men talk to my boobs? I poked and prodded you, I’d stand in front of the mirror in knickers that were too tight and had most certainly seen better days with an over the shoulder boulder holder fit for a granny and criticise you - nothing was good enough… actually scratch that, nothing was good. Period. 



During this time of body shaming - albeit only in my head, we also saw the doctor on a regular basis. They couldn’t work out why we were in so much pain. They poked and prodded you too. It took years and years of poking and prodding until we had any kind of answer. I was awful about you, I spoke nastily behind your back… well kinda, it saddens me to think you’d have heard the things I said. “Why can’t I have a normal body? Why am I like this? Why does it hurt so much?” I hate this. I hate my body. I hate my legs. I hate my tummy which can’t hold down food. I hate it so much. I just want to be normal. As if normal is a thing, something obtainable. Something everyone else just is… ha! 

The self loathing continued, I couldn’t take a compliment, I couldn’t bear it when anyone said ANYTHING kind about you. How dare they?! Why were they patronising us by lying to my face?! It was only at the age of twenty three, when we came across a lump in our neck that we got quite the rude awakening. Suddenly I was ever so protective over you. The doctors wanted to do all manner of tests. We stopped being a human being, we just became a body that was picked at and probed endlessly. They called it a tumour. I called it Norris… it made it easier to talk about. Norris was making us very bloody poorly. You couldn’t tolerate any kind of food and lost twenty kilos in weight. You were now that size four I desperately wanted you to be years ago, you looked awful. So pale, so boney, so withdrawn. So ill. 

I was told the operation could leave me without the use of my legs. Those podgy legs I’d hated so much during my childhood. The legs I’d poked and prodded. Pinched at and tightly pulled the skin at to see what I’d look like with ‘thin’ legs. The legs that were squeezed into jeans that were a size too small. I agreed to the operation, there was no other solution they said. When I came around, the first thing I did was wiggle my toes, I can’t tell you how grateful I was for those legs. 

I pushed you to recover quickly, it was my way of being in control. The doctor advised six weeks of bedrest, we - by we I mean you and I Body, agreed on three days. The doctor said it normally takes six months to fully recover from the operation. I shrugged and said “I’m not normal though.” The doctor smiled at me. “You most certainly are not.” he replied. We were fully recovered from the op in less than half of the time. This whole not being ‘normal’ was beginning to grow on me. 

I know that I was really hard on you during recovery, having to be physically helped into bed, into the shower, just to walk from our bed to the kitchen was not something I was gracious at. Whilst I plastered a ‘Can Do’ look on my face, I know I probably sounded like a very angry sports coach inside as I berated you for needing to cling onto something, someone. Either a wall or my sister. Thanks Sis! 

You were diagnosed with EDS - Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It affects the body tissue everywhere - your skin, your vital organs, your ligaments and tendons. It means that on a good day you are hyper flexible and can do anything a fit and healthy sixteen year old could do. It also means that on a bad day my ninety year old grandad is more mobile than you. Yet, going through the years of hospital visits made me so proud of you. So bloody proud.

“I’d expect in a normal evolution of the type of EDS you have, that you’ll be in a wheelchair by the time you’re thirty.” Said the doctor, hands clasped on his desk, looking somewhat remorseful but mainly rather matter of fact. “Good thing I’m not normal then” I replied for the second time. We were also told that the ongoing vomiting and upset tummy was something we just had to accept and live with. The tumours would come...and go, sometimes they wouldn’t go. The heart palpitations would continue and all manner of symptoms could pop up at any given time. 

I went home and researched everything I could. Changes had to be made. What I fed you had to have a complete overhaul and so a journey on learning what I could and couldn’t feed you began. Then came the exercise - what could we do, what couldn’t we do. Everything changed. I’d gone from dispising you just a few years before, to desperately wanting to take care of you. I learned about energy management, how far I could push you without paying for the consequences for a week afterwards - in all honesty I’m still learning that one. I learned that, just as we found at sixteen, yoga is always a good idea. Be it a full on, high intensity hour long yoga session on a good day, or a very gentle calming chair yoga session on a bad day. I learnt to be so grateful for you. That you were willing to work with me and I was able to find kindness from within to take care of you and appreciate you for what you are.  

I learned that the weather heavily influenced pain levels. That cold water is never a good idea, that warm water - with the added bonus of bubbles always is. Unfortunately we learned the cold water thing the hard way, challenging our best friend, who is now our other half, to see who could last the longest in a 3’c swimming pool. Turns out, unsurprisingly, not us. 

Cold and damp or hot and humid days make your joints seize up. Getting coins out of your purse or doing up your coat becomes as challenging as a sudoku...and we both know I don’t get along well with sudoku. It’s okay though. I’ve learned to smile politely at the person at the check out and apologise… or thank the sweet heavens above for the new contact card pay thingymajig. As for the coat thing, sometimes we have to stay in the coat for a while when we get home until our hands are warm. Which is fine. Leaving the kettle with enough water and a cup with a tea bag next to it before I go to work in the morning, means that this happens rather efficiently now. Not so many kitchen floor meltdowns which is always a bonus. 



I’m rather into gratitude writing at the moment Body, so here’s a little gratitude to you. Thank you for walking me to work every single day - sometimes zig zagging between passers by, flying past mums pushing pushchairs and dashing across the zebra crossing as the green man flashes. Other times a little slower, limping, having to put up with my lack of confidence in crossing the road if I think the green man could flash. Patiently taking each step as it comes and getting me there safely. 

Thank you for those strong arms which carry armfuls of shopping in from the car. Which lift the kids up at work spinning them around and around. Which carry box loads of props and costume on a good day or give someone a huge hug for helping us on a bad day. Side note: hugs are the best, we need to give more.

Thank you for strong pretty nails, for fingers which happily type away on a good or bad day. For showing me when I’m lacking in something : sleep, vitamins, iron, water… Thank you for fighting. For never giving up, even when I had given up on you.  

Thank you to those legs, which are often stuck under a snoozing cat. Thank you to those feet which dance barefoot on the kitchen tiles whilst listening to glee songs and those toes which enable us to be on tiptoes and reach the high shelf in the kitchen. Thank you for those teeth which make a smile a real smile. Those eyes that see the very best in others, always. Thank you for a waistline which is continuously changing depending on our health, which I have learned to love however flat or podgy it may be. Thank you for lungs that fill up with air and can swim great distances underwater and bellow out my favourite tunes. Thank you for a liver that probably took quite the battering during those teen years of nightclubbing and tequila sampling.

Thank you for that thumb and index finger that clasp around a cup handle effortlessly as I devour yet another cup of tea. Thank you for those cheeks that snuggle into furry tummies and those lips that kissed our life long best friend...inevitably making him our other half. Thank you for that nose which knows the smell of home, takes delight in the smell of the sea or a homemade pasty -  it’s the Cornish girl in us I’m sure. Thank you for those ears which make it possible to listen to beautiful songs. Thank you for that heart, which is so full of love for you, for our friends and family. Thank you for being the home for me, your soul who believes that she picked this body for a reason. Thank you for teaching me how to be understanding, empathetic, kind, loving and above all patient.

Thank you.

Thank you so much Peta, those are the words that will bring up so much emotion in so many others going through their own battles and I truly believe that sharing our own stories really helps so many others. Guys, please go and show Peta some love over on her...

BLOG / INSTAGRAM / TWITTER / YOUTUBE

If you missed the first post in the series than you can find it right here. Finally, if you would like to share your story then please email me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com (you can remain anonymous if you want and write about any body-related experience you choose!).

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5 June 2018

MAKE: CORNWALL


^^ Maker - Wendy Wilbraham's gorgeous work/studio ^^

In a vlog I will be popping up on my YouTube channel soon, I mention how I don't like to advertise other peoples things unless they are something that is totally in alignment with what I love; something that I have a genuine passion for. That is why I am putting up an extra post this week just to help two lovely ladies in Cornwall get their project out there to more people (and it truly is a lovely project!).

'Make: Cornwall' is the brainchild Anya Rice, a photographer and stylist, and Katherine Sorrell, a freelance writer who has also written 22 books (I bow down to you Katherine!). These two lovely ladies, both living in Cornwall, dreamed about putting together a book about all things hand made by passionate and talented creatives living in this beautiful, magical county.


Cornwall has such a hugely diverse range of makers and artists and their vision is to raise enough, via Crowd Funder, to enable their book to become a reality and, I have to say, it would 100% be something I would jump at the chance of buying if I saw it in a book shop!

You can see more about the project by clicking right here, but here is a little quote from their Crowd Funder page, along with some gorgeous images too...

'Make:Cornwall offers a secret peek into our makers' work spaces (whether a converted barn, garden shed or modern, town-centre studio), their tools and techniques and their making processes, with glorious photos of their finished products and lists of where to see and buy, as well as beautiful portraits of the makers themselves and the landscapes that surround them.'

As a very new creative business myself, I am so happy to share this with you guys as, supporting small businesses is so important and vital in order to keep the uniqueness of hand made goods thriving. In a world where there is so much copying and 'quick art' by huge corporate chains it is totally necessary for projects like this to thrust creatives back into the forefront of our minds.

To support the book just head to their page and donate a little bit of money, everything will help this project towards its goal; they also have some pretty fantastic pledge packages, which give you a copy of the book and items created by the talented makes involved too. If, like me, all things handmade light you up and fill you with happiness please just take a look at what they have put together, the photographs are so beautiful and inspiring and, if you know of anyone who may wish to support 'Make: Cornwall' then please tell them all about it!

^^ Maker - Wendy Wilbraham ^^

^^ Maker - Amy Isles Freeman ^^

^^ Maker - Alice Selwood ^^

^^ Maker - 'Pica Pica Design Co' ^^

^^ Maker - 'Lancaster & Cornish' ^^

^^ Maker - 'Paper Birch' ^^
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3 June 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



June, you little monkey, you really crept up on me. I can't believe we are on the sixth month of the year already, how can it be so? As the man on Pirate FM said this week (gotta love local radio!), once the summer holidays are over it'll be all Halloween and fireworks and then the Christmas stuff will be arriving in the shops (it made me laugh to think about how early things get thrust into our lives these days... on Boxing day it's all about the Easter eggs for heavens sake!). Anyway, rant over, it is summer and I am loving the warmth that seems to have arrived. We had one seriously humid day this week and I absolutely loved it! I think I enjoy those sort of days now I am working at home and can get dressed in any random outfit that is comfortable, verses having to actually look professional! There is always a magic in the air on days where it's humid and you can 'feel' the heaviness; call me insane, but I love it!

Thank you to those of you that got in touch with me about my new 'Body Stories' series, I have had some lovely feedback on the first one and can't wait for you guys to read the next one, which will be up on Wednesday next week. I am really looking for a few more stories, so if you are willing (you can remain anonymous if you prefer, I am fine with that) just get in touch on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com. I honestly think that sharing our story helps others feel less alone and more confident, so get in contact with me girlies (or guys of course, you are more than welcome too!).

On with today's list!

:: This week I dedicated such a huge part of my time to painting. I have been feeling beyond exhausted in my mind and body and so, when I feel like that, I really enjoy losing myself in something creative. I have been working on a new, bespoke, offering for Leaf Lane Studio and will be putting it on my website next week (fingers crossed).


^^ Personalised water-colour paintings for any occasion you wish, soon available on Leaf Lane Studio ^^

:: Yesterday I made some proper progress in the garden (that is twice this week I have 'attacked' the garden!). Our garden is a proper cottage garden, with mature trees and plants but also many wildflowers and other things that seem to grow up overnight. I love the garden and always try to keep it looking as nice as possible but it really is a full time job! We have some beautiful red, yellow and pink roses coming out, gladioli's, thistles on their way, wild sweet peas and many other pretty blooms about to burst open; I feel so lucky to be surrounded by nature every day.

:: This morning Joe and I took a walk around the gardens of one of my all time favourite local National Trust places, Godolphin House. You guys will have heard me chatter on about that place before no doubt, but I just think it is so magical. Today's visit had me overwhelmed because of how many gorgeous flowers, ferns and birds were about; it is a must see if you are ever over this way. If you go there for when it opens (usually 10am I believe) then you are more than likely to be alone in the grounds, with just the sounds of the birds and resident bees for company. I could spend hours there, sketching, thinking, writing... just 'being', it is somewhere that I connect with happiness and calm.



^^ The beautiful 'Kings Garden' at Godolphin House ^^


:: I have now officially sold all the one-off gouache paintings I did recently (see them here and get in touch if you want to commission me, I will gladly paint something for you!). Thank you so much if you bought one, that money is going to be put towards my new wedding collection and a Christmas collection of cards too I think!

:: This week, whilst in Morrisons buying something totally random, I picked up some of their own brand dark chocolate and mint rice cakes to try for a treat. They were so yummy that I gobbled the whole lot (before you think there were like twenty in a packet... there were six!). In my defense, I had just had a very intense lower body work out, done 10 intervals on the stepmill AND 25 minutes of steady state cardio too; in my book that equals 'I can eat all the rice cakes'!

:: We have been watching the Harry Potter series recently (again), they are just so great for escapism or distraction when you are super tired and hungry (me 99% of the day!). I love having an 'HP' on in the background whilst I am writing in my Bullet Journal or sketching some ideas out! What is your 'go-to' film?

:: One of the podcasts I listen to on a fairly regular basis is Creative Peptalk, by Andy J Pizza. The podcast is great if you are a creative and need a little bit of encouragement but, yesterday, Andy put the cutest ever picture on his Instagram, so I thought I would share it with you below, how sweet is that? I kind of want it as a postcard or print on my desk, I just love it!



That's all for this weeks Gratitude List guys and girls, I hope you have a wonderful rest of day and I will be back on Wednesday with the second blog post in my Body Stories series, this time it is Peta's story (and it is a real good'un!).
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30 May 2018

BODY STORIES SERIES | #1 MINE



If my relationship with my body had a Facebook status it would be 'it's complicated'. For as long as I can remember I have picked my body to pieces, both mentally and physically; wishing it was totally different to the way it actually is. It is only this year that I have found someone, an amazing human being, who has made me start to question that process properly, like really question it, really wonder if the pressure I put myself under is worth all the suffering. More on that later.

In a room of 100 women, how many people would raise their hands if asked 'have you ever had an issue with your body?'; I think it would be quite a few, don't you? The older I get the more frustrated and sad I feel that we feel that way inside about the shell we have been given to carry that most precious thing we own, our soul. As I was meditating yesterday, trying to dig down into the root of my mind and sort through past hurts, the thought came into my head of 'what if you were struck down dead tomorrow and you had a chance to look back and see how much torture you had put yourself through over food and see just how much you pushed your body to the extreme, when it was crying out for rest'. That really jolted me when it came into my head.

Through my life I have been a binge eater, then deprived myself and repeated that cycle several hundred times, never finding happiness within it (not particularly shocking). I have tried the stupid, faddy diets, I have tried intuitive eating but unfortunately, up to now, my intuition told me to eat three family packets of chocolate biscuits! My weight has fluctuated so much that I haven't been able to cope with the change, whether it has been high or low. My dress size has been up and down more times than I would like to remember and each time it has taken a piece of my mental health with it. 



How crazy is it that I haven't been happy with my body at any single stage of my life's journey? That is absolutely insane to me as I write this; when I have lost weight I feel scared; scared to go back again, scared to buy clothes that fit because I am 'bound to be bigger again'. Feeling guilty about every meal, every missed training session and every treat I have has become normal behaviour, yet I want so badly to not feel that way and that has become my new focus.

I always listen to podcasts about business, spirituality and health and often I am super inspired by the wonderful guests being interviewed but, more recently (as I have mentioned in previous blog posts), I heard the wonderful Mel Wells being interviewed and something about her and the way she delivers her message seemed to strike me over the head with a giant hammer. I really can't try and explain how she does what she does because I will be rubbish at it, but I would just say that if you are struggling in any way with food or your body or perhaps both then you must listen to the podcast that I first discovered Mel on and see what you think. The episode you need is one of Lori Harders 'Earn your happy' and it was the first time I heard Mel interviewed and it captured me instantly. If you like it then she has two books and an amazing Instagram page and website too (erm, just realising that I sound like I am on an advertising mission, which I am not, pinky swear; I just needed to hear everything that this lovely lady has to say recently and I resonate so much with her and hope you will too!).

Anyway, as I stepped away from that first time listening to Mel's story I sat and thought long and hard about where I am getting stuck with my body positivity journey. One thing stood out for me and this is what it was: I realised that I am trying to be everything I see out there all at once; a body builder, a 'perfect' eater, someone who has amazing cardiovascular fitness, super flexible, motivated, never defeated, someone who can do anything and bounce back, someone with a successful business, a popular blog, a balance of spirituality, work and free time to have adventures. It dawned on me that I have somehow absorbed all these 'internet perfect' lives and decided that all of them must be achieved in order to be successful. WTF is that about, seriously, it's exhausting just typing it, let alone actually trying to live it.

Every time I see someone doing something I think 'wow, that's cool, I wanna give that a shot' and it has lead me to never feeling good enough as 'me'. This is a brand new revelation and I am about to embark on all the hard work to undo this as we speak but, bloody hell guys, why do we put ourselves under this pressure? The crazy thing is that I know that what I am seeing on, let's say Instagram, is a highly edited version of someones life, but I still take that as some kind of comparison bar. Also, I am 37 years old...and have been through my own journey to where I am now, which is the most authentic journey I have at my disposal. 

Recently, whilst having a bit of chat with a lovely friend of mine, Kimberley, she hit the nail on the head, saying to me '... your body hasn't failed you yet in 37 years so if it says 'hey gurl, I wants me a slice of cake' once in a while then let her have a slice of God damn cake'! That very sentence made me feel so empowered (and want some cake!) as she is right. My body has been through a lot in its years and I should be bloody grateful for it all, not depriving it of every single thing and feeling guilty for eating a bloomin' burger! We really can be savage on ourselves can't we? 


This journey of more self-acceptance is going to be one of the toughest ever; how I feel about my body is so ingrained into me, it is in the way I speak about myself to others and the way I speak to myself in the mirror, desperately grabbing hold of parts of my body to see what I would look like if they were smaller... I have simply made the choice that I don't want to go on, for the rest of my life (my precious life), feeling like this, it is not healthy in and of itself.

Knowing this was how I was feeling led me to ask a couple of amazing ladies to write their body stories for me and I am going to stagger them out over the summer for you guys to read. The first story is one that, when I read it, made me cry because not only is it super honest, but it is also so very beautiful. Find that post right here next Wednesday, I promise you that you will adore it.

On that note I am still open to anyone who wants to share a body story, I am just totally behind sharing these personal experiences to help women, as a collective, to realise we are not alone in this. Get in touch if you fancy a chat or want to write a little post for this series (or another subject!) by emailing me on fromlucywithlove@outlook.com.

Thank you so much for reaing, have a fab rest of week! x
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27 May 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Happy Sunday lovely friend, how has your week been?

This week has been one of ups and downs for me, with a bit of a 'blip' mid week which, I must confess, knocked me way off my routine until yesterday really, but these things happen and we must dust ourselves off huh? Still, the sun is out today and it is a Bank Holiday weekend here in the U.K. which is pretty darn wonderful!

Before I go on... over on Leaf Lane Studio later today I will be popping some original little paintings up for sale; head on over to check them out! Once they are gone, they are gone but I will be making other originals at some point too, or you can commission me to do something for you! Get in touch on hello@leaflanestudio.com.



Let's jump into this weeks list!

:: My first entry into this weeks gratitude list has to be self-care. I hit a bit of a sh**ty mood day on Wednesday (actually it was a seriously bad mental health day) and it was all I could do to function. I actually practiced some self-care and slept, meditated and generally had a more peaceful day and, for me, doing those things without feeling guilty was quite something.

:: I feel so lucky that we live in an age where we have access to some really useful, motivational and free tools to help us develop either professionally or personally. This week I did another one of Janet Murray's free webinars, this time around the subject of gaining free media coverage for your business/blog. I have done a few of her webinars and always come away with something useful that I can implement or experiment with right away. I also love her podcast too, which is called the 'Soulful PR Podcast', it is rammed with interviews and tips and recently she has even popped all her episodes (of which there are over 200) into categories, so if you have something specific you need to work on, you can find some help without getting RSI from scrolling!

:: Yesterday we had some pretty awesome weather, well actually it wasn't awesome in the traditional sense, but in the humid, slightly thundery way, with the most amazing smell in the air. I absolutely love that kind of weather! It brings up thoughts of school holidays and hot summers nights and I love the nostalgia! 



:: I am at a time in my life right now where I am really making a conscious effort to exorcise old demons from my mind and I am doing this by letting old hurts surface and journaling them through until I either give them the space to disappear or I discover what I have been pushing aside for a long time and try and make sense of it or pull a life-lesson from it. Part of what continuously pops up for me is appearance related and this is something I have struggled with my whole life really. I mentioned this beautiful lady last week, but someone who is actually starting to 'get through' to me about all of the body issues I have been carrying is Mel Wells. I first heard of Mel when she was being interviewed on Lori Harder's podcast, and have since searched for her and listened to several other interviews she has done. I am going to try and get her two books asap, as I truly believe her message to be the healthiest one and one I need; I would highly recommend her to you if you are struggling around body positivity issues, she is amazing. (I also have my eye on her academy and retreats although financially they are a little way off for me yet... one day!).

:: I have managed to watch all of Call the Midwife on Netflix whilst I have been busy painting away the new pieces going up for sale today and I have to say that I loved it! You know when you finish watching something and you feel a bit lost! I really don't know where to turn now. That said, I am super happy that series two of The Handmaid's Tale is back on Channel 4; did you see it last week? It was such a dark first episode back but it is totally gripping, not one to watch if you need cheering up though! Any binge-worthy series recommendations are welcome!

:: It seems like, when I am on a bit of creative mission, as I have been this week, that my brain overwhelms me with other things I could be making. I have had so many ideas flood in, including two printable calendar ideas for my 2019 version (botanical and crystal... I may do both!). I feel super excited to do all these things, even if I can't afford to get other products physically printed or made right now, just to work on them is wonderful and I am so grateful.



:: I hate to mention the dreaded GDPR fiasco, but honestly, I am so glad that the date for that has come and gone. It is a shame that it made a dent in my Leaf Lane Studio newsletter as it took so long to build the small family of lovely people I had, but I really don't blame people for totally ignoring any GDPR emails that came in! I did mine early but I was very mindful of bugging people; that said, if you did sign back up I am so thankful, I really am and, if you missed my email and want to sign back up, then please just click right here!

:: Do you ever have conversations about food right before you go to bed and then wake up in the middle of the night starving and thinking of said food? This was exactly what happened last night when Joe and I discussed the fact that we hadn't had a bagel in ages; thanks to that conversation I woke up dreaming of buttery bagels with Marmite (yum!). Okay so, technically that isn't something I'm grateful for but I am simply dragging you all down with me! (I would be grateful for a bagel right now though!).

:: In case you missed my Instagram stories this week I must mention the bird story here, as I am ridiculously grateful that it all ended well. I'll give you a very brief round-up (or else I will waffle on!)... we went in the bathroom to find a baby bird asleep on the bath taps (yep!) and it must have been there for a while as I had been up and shut the curtains, meaning it couldn't have got in after that. I rescued it with a super-soft little face cloth and popped it in a box outside. It flew back to its nest and all was right again with the world (after I had cried for about an hour over it!).

:: Being in the garden has been such a treat this week. We have so many things opening up including three different roses, gladioli and some fuchsias too, plus there are countless wild flowers in the hedgerows and they are all so pretty. As I walked around the garden this morning, in the humid mist that was lingering about, I was totally overwhelmed with gratitude for living where I have wanted to live for so long.

That is all for another Weekly Gratitude guys! Thank you so much for your constant support; I would love it if you popped over to Leaf Lane Studio and had a little mooch about too (and told your friends!), building a business is so very wonderful but very hard too. Any support is welcomed with open arms! Have a great week to come and enjoy your bank holiday if you are in the U.K!

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20 May 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Oh my gosh, how is it already Sunday again? I feel like this post comes round so fast, although I did post two posts this week in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week, so if you are interested in reading those then you can find the first one here and the second right here! Let's jump into todays list!

:: I must mention the birds in every one of these posts but I love sitting and watching them in the garden. We have so many now and their babies are getting bigger and bigger. This week we have watched a couple of little ones being fed on the grass and also watched the dynamic of the chain of authority/bullying unfold. For instance, the magpies will chase off the jackdaws and really pester them for being in the vicinity of the garden yet if a seagull lands it seems the magpies back off and they can all exist in harmony together. It really is quite amusing to watch unfold.



:: My mum has been here since Wednesday and has just left today, so we have been doing a few bits and bobs together (basically I haven't been doing much work at all is what I am saying). We popped into Sainsbury's on Thursday and mum treated me to a couple of summer tops, which I can't believe are so nice for the price; I was beyond desperate for one or two new tops for warmer weather. The first one I got was a pretty, fine knitted blue loose top, which just feels nice and cool to wear with slim jeans or shorts (I have had it on my back since we got it home!) plus is has cute little ties on the arms for added details (it was £16) and the second one was something more fitted; this beautiful 'V' neck, and 'matching 'V' shape back, red/orange top. This one is super pretty and I love the colour, it was a bargain at just £10. Thanks mum xx

:: Sorry in advance if you are all totally fed up with hearing about the Royal Wedding, but I honestly loved every single second of it and it is a huge highlight of my week! It was so magical and I can only imagine how overwhelming it must have been for Meghan's mum and Meghan too I guess! We all know by now that I am a total romantic at heart so it goes without saying that I cried!

 ^^ What a beautiful couple; they look so in love and happy :-) ^^

:: Gizmo has to get a mention (doesn't she always?!). On Friday (I think it was Friday!), she and I crawled onto the bed for a nap and what a nap it was! She curled up close to me and when I woke up she was on her back, paws in the air but holding onto my hand with her front paw, it was so sweet! The photo at the top of today's post was one that I took when she fell asleep on me one evening this week, check out the relaxed little lip!

:: I have been feeling a little up and down about myself the last couple of weeks, mostly down to the fact that my ever-infuriating fibroid's have been giving me so much pain (sorry for too much info, but it's real life over here people!). I got diagnosed with them last year and am awaiting a procedure to, presumably, whip them off (technically put Lucy, nice!). Anyway, I have been on a mission to lose some body fat and I felt I was making some progress until a couple of weeks ago when a flare up began; it really knocked me back and it made me feel so bloated and unattractive that I felt like I had taken a step back. In reality nothing had changed, I hadn't gone off the rails on my eating and I had been training hard. Yesterday I took some measurements and they are all going the right direction, so I really do know it is just a side effect of the dreaded 'F' word, but it made me really aware of how my psyche can be affected. Along side that I am so grateful for the gym I train at; the vibe in there is the best of any gym I have been at, which have been many; without that place I think I would go bananas (and I truly hate bananas!)

 ^^ My 'church' and view from cardio! I love that place! ^^

:: I have to mention the gratitude for something that hasn't even happened yet, but will be in the next couple of hours, and that thing is my Sunday afternoon lay on the bed. I look forward to this every Sunday; I do a load of bits and pieces in the morning, this morning I mowed the lawn, pulled out a ton of weeds and cleared the gutters from one side of the cottage... morning tasks are usually followed by getting this blog post live and then having a bit of a bath or shower before putting on something super comfortable and reading on the bed for an hour or so. Call me an old lady but I look forward to that so much! The 5.30am starts during the week can take their toll and so I love that I can have an hour or two just relaxing and having nothing I have to do or anywhere I need to be and, let's be honest, it will inevitably involve a nap too!

:: Finally, and probably the best food I've had this week, is the Breyer's low calorie chocolate ice cream, which we got for a treat for me (I can have it in my marcos guilt free!). Have you tried it? It needs to be left to soften for about two hours really, but it is so worth it. I have tried a few of these ice creams but this one is my favourite by a long way; it doesn't have the powdery nature that some have - BIG recommend from me (even better if you can get it on offer and stock up!).

Thank you for stopping by the blog and for all your continued support too, it is always appreciated and never taken for granted I promise. Be sure to come and 'Like' my Facebook page and follow along on Instagram too!
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17 May 2018

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK | THOUGHTS ON MEDICATION

 ^^ It just had to be this lovely piece of art, by the Etsy shop 'We Are Extinct', sin't it purr-fect?! ^^

Sometimes it is hard to know where to start with mental health and, as I sit here trying to decide what I should write about today I have come to the conclusion that the best mental health posts (from me anyway) come when I just type, so here I go...(I guess the title will give away the content by now!).

I have told my story many times in the hope of helping someone understand more about their own feelings and, ultimately help them to realise that they are not losing their marbles! Whilst I have had my fair share of people accuse me of 'showing off' by telling my story (seriously?), being 'too open' (how else do you help people?) and 'craving attention' (as someone who suffers extreme anxiety, believe me, this is not my bag!), I have also made one of the most amazing friends ever through a post about anxiety (shout out to my 'Lobby'!) and have built upon/become part of an online community of absolutely fecking awesome people who just get what it is like to be a little socially awkward and to feel out of place sometimes. I have had such wonderful support on my bad days and have also had messages from people on Instagram who have just 'noticed that I am a little quiet' so reached out just to check I'm okay, how amazing is that? To all the people out there who don't like anything about mental health I say this: don't f**king read my mental health posts! Quite a simple solution really!

Whilst I have told my story many times, it is a story that is constantly evolving; I still have mental health problems, but they just peak and dip throughout the year. Sometimes it is situational and other times (and most annoyingly) it is just the way my brain is functioning. Only this week I got summoned to the doctors for another medication review (for those of you who don't take medication on a regular basis, they just like to check in every once in a while to make sure all is well and assess your requirements). There are some occasions when I will just say 'yeah, all good Doc' because I know I need to stay exactly how I am and there are other times when I think I want to try coming off my tablets. Let's talk about that for a moment.

Over the years I have tried a few different types of anti-depressants; all of which (apart from the ones I take now) haven't agreed with me for whatever reason. This process can take a while to get right for some people and I was one of them (don't be disheartened by it though) but, when I got put on my current medication, Fluoxetine, it felt so good for me; it didn't make me feel like a zombie, nor did it make me feel high as the kite at the end of Mary Poppins, I didn't really feel anything side effects wise (hurrah!). I was even more impressed with these tablets when I started to notice the 'fog lifting' within about two weeks, which is not something that usual happens on anti-depressants for a while. So yes, these have been a success and they were very necessary when I reached out to the doctors to go on something else. I had tried and tried not to go back down the path of medication; I knew they had benefits but I just didn't want to be on anything, it was a total block in my head due to past experiences. The day came that I was just so frightened to be in my own company and feared the thoughts I was getting and so I had to do something.

Since I started taking them, back in 2014, I have had some dark times but the ability to cope has been better and I can handle things with more ease. Now that brings me to my review this week; I discussed coming off the tablets but talked to the doctor about my fear of not knowing how I will 'be' until the drug is out of my system. That, for me, is one of the scariest things. I am on the lowest dose, so there is nowhere to go really, but we decided that taking one every other day would be better, just to see how my body/brain reacts. It is so hard because I certainly feel better most of the time; I have horrible lows during 'hormonal' days (hands up ladies... it's not just me right?!) but it is the more severe down days that I worry about, but how will I know until I try?

There was a bit of a crazy time, I think it may have been a couple of months ago, when I had totally forgotten to take my medication for about 10 days; I honestly don't know why, it just slipped my mind utterly. One evening I started to feel myself spiral into what I can only describe as an episode of very extreme hyperactivity, it was a bit crazy actually; I was very fidgety, couldn't stop chattering on and felt on a high; this was soon followed by a total dip and the next day all I could do was sleep. As soon as I realised that I had missed my medication I had a look at the side effects of missing tablets and that kind of 'episode' was one of them. Naturally it is things like that which worry me as, quite often, I don't notice that kind of mood has set in and it is those around me that notice it more. It is almost a slight bipolar trait which isn't what I am diagnosed with but I think the lines can overlap and blur, so these are the reasons I think I am best to keep a certain level of medication flowing around my system.


^^ I can't talk about mental health without including the amazing Emily Coxhead who created The Happy Newspaper, if you don't already follow her then you MUST! ^^


This has turned into a bit of a medication ramble hasn't it, but hopefully it may be useful to someone as I know that I could've done with other peoples thoughts before I made the leap and began taking something. I believe that anti-depressants have their place but I also believe that you should take them to compliment positive life steps too, such as healthy eating, exercise and mindfulness. I think that if you are expecting to just sit and pop a pill and wait for something to happen that you may feel a bit let down.

Having depression is one of those horrible things that can force you into stillness; you feel like you just want to stay put, in the safety of bed or home and be there until the fog lifts but medication can help you take those first steps back into normality again. Once you have begun to live life again, doing the every day things that became a struggle, you will gradually be able to do more and more until the things that seemed terrifying no longer bother you at all. That is what medication has done for me; it has allowed me to get petrol again without a panic attack, pop into the supermarket on my own and feel safe, go to the gym and cope with the noise and lights and people... so many things are now just normal again.

So there we go, my medication ramble is complete for today! I really hope that was useful for even one person because there is such a stigma around tablets and they really can be helpful when used right and not seen as a simple fix. 

Thank you so much for reading this post, don't forget that there are many resources out there that you can use if you need to talk to someone about your health, click right here for many options!
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15 May 2018

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK | STRESS



This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and, as always, there is a main subject upon which the campaign is focused which, for 2018, is'stress'.

What a huge topic stress is and it is certainly something that every single one of us has experienced in one form or another isn't it? From minor stresses within our every day lives to much more emotional stress; stress that piles up and up and up and, before you know it you are severely unwell, or at least heading that way. This years Mental Health Awareness Week campaign is focusing on the theory that, if we reduce stress within our lives we can reduce (and hopefully prevent) anxiety, depression and more severe mental health illnesses from developing; this is something I completely stand on board with.

Before I go on, and this is something I always like to point out because it is important: not all mental health is triggered by a life event (such as extreme stress), some of us our simply 'wired' a certain way and so it is important to acknowledge this or else the stigma will never end. Another important thing to think about is that we all cope very differently with things and must always try not to judge others who are more sensitive to things which we may find a breeze to deal with; we all have our thresholds and cope very differently with what we have thrown our way in life. Finally, and most significantly, if you or anyone you know is suffering with severe mental health issues and are in need of help please (please) contact the doctor or, if it is easier, call the Samaritains on: 116 123 (free call) or Mind on: 0300 123 3393 or click here to see other options. If you are worried about the safety of someone you love call '999' straight away.

***

Today I thought I would discuss a few of my own thoughts around stress. The problem when trying to give an opinion on anything so subjective is that you run the risk of annoying someone who will be thinking '...it's easy for you to say...' etc, but we can only draw from our own experience can't we, so here we go:

(TRY TO) FIGURE OUT THE TRIGGERS
If you read my most recent Gratitude Post, then you will know that I am reading a book called 'We', by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nader, and this first piece of advice comes from that book, because I really liked the idea, and it is very similar to a CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) technique that I was once taught. In the book they talk about 'acceptance' of certain situations in our lives that hold us back from moving on; we all have these things, it could be somebody who, each time you see them, really makes you feel bad about yourself, or it could be something that you were told as a teenager that has always stuck with you and so you may often find yourself triggered in adult life, which stresses you out. Honestly, it could be anything. The advice from the book basically goes like this: write a list of all the things that come into your head that give you a pull of negative emotion (or stress), once you have emptied your mind onto paper read through the list again, asking yourself whether you can do anything to change it or not. If the answer is that, for example, you can meet with the person that is upsetting you and lay your feelings out with transparancy, then write that next to the issue as a way of resolving it (and make sure you do it!). If it is something you have no control over then simply write an 'A' for acceptance next to it and let it go (obviously this takes practice). It might be that, when you talk to the individual that you are having issues with that they lash out in anger; if that happens, and it appears that they are not going to talk rationally, then you have to add that to the list as something you cannot control and try to accept it.

I totally realise that this technique is not easy; I think human nature means we worry and over think many things, but time brings clarity and actually allowing yourself to think about a hurtful situation, rather than sweeping it under a metaphorical carpet, is so much healthier, even if it is uncomfortable initially. We need to understand the 'whys' involved in our difficulties and try and understand our own reactions. Once we can do this, we have done all we can; the other persons reactions and behaviour cannot be determined by us. I think this point is so significant when it comes to helping us reduce stress in our lives and, although I am still a bit of  'stress head', I am definitely getting better at not shouldering issues (for too long anyway!).

POSITIVE SELF-TALK
For me, this is still a major work-in-progress and, to be totally honest with you, I think it always will be the hardest thing for me to do BUT when I can practice this and actually start my day with positivity and 'lightness' (in my mind) I find that I set myself up for a better day all round. Compare that to getting out of bed, walking into the bathroom, looking at yourself in the mirror and immediately filling your head with negative self-talk; inevitably this leads to lots of negative things in our minds which just grow and grow as the day goes on (causing stress). I have become such a huge believer in what we put out there we get back: positive breeds positive and vice versa and it really really does work like that from my humble experience! I have started doing a ten minute meditation in the morning that is super uplifting and kind of resets my brain for the day ahead; whilst I don't always have the time to do it, when I do it makes a big difference.


JOURNALING
This is a big one for me. I have a Bullet Journal that I record daily gratitude in but I also like to quickly scribble down any thoughts that I have, post meditation, in a separate notebook. I combine this with pulling an oracle card for the day too (I have three decks of cards by Doreen Virtue and I love them all, but there are lots of others out there). For me, this little ritual starts the day right and means that I am setting intentions for the day and getting things out of my head and onto paper, which is really cleansing and helpful for me. On my bad days, days where my mental health is just not great at all, I find these practices both a blessing and a curse; in some respects I can find my brain going all over the shop and failing to focus and journaling can seem like an effort but, what I have learnt is to just 'go with the flow'. If I am having a bad day and I feel like I want to meditate to something less uplifting and more relaxing and then just pull an oracle card, then that is what I will do. I have learnt not to pressure myself into writing something positive or push things out of my head; if they are there to write then I let them flow, if not, then it's okay. Sometimes I might journal a little before bed too; this is mostly to help clear my mind of anything that may be niggling at me for the next day, such as tasks or errands, so I will usually ensure I have them written in my Bullet Journal so I relieve the stress and worry of forgetting them! I find journaling a useful tool for keeping stress at bay so give it a go and just go with what works for you. Not everyone will benefit from the same techniques so try a few way of journaling until you find the best for you!

SLEEP
Sleep is my biggest cure. For me, half an hour of shut eye brings so much calm, clarity and relief; it heals so many things for me that I often find myself having little naps because, overall, I'd rather pause for half an hour and sleep, only to wake up more productive and refreshed, rather than push on through and reach a bad head space through overwhelm and exhaustion. Sleep is so good for you and it is when the body heals and recovers; for anyone suffering from mental health issues it is a must. If you are not getting to sleep or having issues with sleep then please head to the doctors and seek some advice as it may shift so many other things for you.

I think one of the most important things about how we deal with stress is to not fall foul to the dreaded comparison syndrome. In my old working environment I would often be feeling really stressed about one thing or another, whilst a colleague would be chilled out about it; I'd then be wondering why I am so stressed and end up down the road of negative self-talk, e.g. 'I must be really useless if I can't cope', 'clearly they are better at the job because they are finding it so easy to handle' etc. On reflection it is all quite easy to understand: a) we all have different thresholds and different triggers with stress, b) mental health issues often bring with them way to much self criticism and self doubt; we become over sensitive and can berate ourselves unnecessarily c) different people have different expectations: maybe the reason your colleague just isn't appearing stressed is because they aren't a perfectionist, or maybe they have a more realistic view of things. Perhaps they understand that you can only do your best and stressing just isn't worth it! (A place we all need to aim for I think!)

I know that all of this is so much easier said than done, I really get it, but it is all food for thought. It has taken me years and years of horrible, dark days to understand what triggers me and what makes a difference to my stress levels, but with experience comes knowledge and, whilst I can have really stressy head days sometimes, I am learning to nail those days much faster than I would have done before!

Thank you for taking the time to read this; let me know your thoughts in the comments :-)
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13 May 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ I adore these beautiful flowers, they are so fragile, like tissue paper, but they hang on in there through every weather ^^

Welcome to another gratitude list! I do love writing these, which is just as well because they come around super fast! This week I have been doing a lot of painting and making one hell of a mess in the process (it seems impossible to be creative tidily!). I have also been training harder than ever and feeling all the achy muscles and tiredness as a result (I had a wonderful power nap yesterday afternoon which was so needed... and another today too, although it less of a 'power nap' and more of a full on sleeping experience!). What have you been up to this week?

Next week will be another busy one too, my mum arrives for a few days and it's also the royal wedding... I am so looking forward to that, I do love a good old bit of British pomp and ceremony! Hands up if you will be watching! Right then, on to this weeks list...

:: I mentioned on last weeks gratitude list that I have joined a little book club, well, this week my book arrived and I got started on it on Friday and cannot put it down! The book is called 'We' and is by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel; it's a book for women who want to bring more positivity and happiness into their lives, which sounds all sorts of cliche, but it is actually so good. It isn't often that a book calms me, but this one is managing it; it has this way of making you feel that all the strangeness in your life has been for a reason and that it is easy to work through things that are keeping you somewhat 'stuck'. It couldn't have come along at a better time really as I am feeling that I am ready to take my self discovery journey to a new level and this book helps you to open up to all the truth you may have been burying or avoiding and work through the good and the bad to enable you to really know who you are. At the beginning the book talks about certain little things that will really help you dig into the nine principles in the rest of the book and I was pleased to realise that I actually do 90% of the things, so yay to that head start! I can't wait to keep reading it.

:: This week, on my way home from the gym, I stopped at Morrisons for a few bits and bobs and, whilst I was there, I bought four bedding plants for the garden; nothing fancy but just something to add a bit of interest and colour to the two flower beds that fell victim to the winter time and are now nothing but soil and stones! They look so much better now (and will look even better when they grow a bit!). I don't claim to know a thing about gardening but I do enjoy it and could spend a fortune on plants! Update... since I wrote this yesterday a rather greedy little slug has eaten one of my plants :-(

:: On Thursday I finally got to the hairdressers for a trim and some new highlights to replace my natural ones (the grey type that is!). It is such a treat to go and relax for  a few hours and I do love a good head massage!


^^ This is one of the little A5 pieces that will go up for sale soon on Leaf Lane Studio ^^

:: This week I have been working on a watercolour piece for a lovely friend and, whilst doing that, I have been creating little one-off paintings using uplifting quotes as the centre focus and painting botanicals around them. They are A5 and a mixture of watercolour and gouache and will be available on Leaf Lane Studio soon. If you guys like them then I plan to keep making them and selling them in little weekend sales etc...P.S: they will all be affordable and will make cool little gifts too. Don't miss out, make sure you are following Leaf Lane Studio on Instagram.

:: It's become somewhat of a tradition to watch Eurovision these days and, even though I find it hugely cringe-worthy, I cannot help but enjoy it! I got myself a tub of chocolate ice-cream to enjoy whilst it was on (that low calorie, low carb stuff which is probably full of things we shouldn't put in our bodies, but that I will eat anyway because, when I am watching my macros, it feels like a treat!). Did you watch the Eurovision? I think our girl did well and made the right choice to not perform for a second time. Unfortunately, all the political nonsense will prevent us from getting anywhere, regardless of how good we are!

:: Last weekend I downloaded a new album for my gym iPod; along with my usual Metallica, Rage Against the Machine and Nivana, I now have some 1990's trance hits too and I love it! When the songs come on they remind me of my clubbing days and make me all nostalgic!

:: I mentioned last week (I think) that we have the little birds nesting in the roof of the house again and this week we have been hearing the babies more and more; they are getting louder and louder every day that passes. I named them the 'little beepers' as they are so tiny that their chirping just sounds like high pitched little beeps! Every time one of the parents flies back in with more food they all launch into full beeping mode and fall instantly silent when mum and dad go out again! It really is the cutest thing!

:: Our little fur baby has been loving the great outdoors, even more so now that the garden has shot up and turned into a jungle (things grow big in Cornwall). I adore watching her rolling about on the patio in the sun in the morning or late afternoon; during the midday sun she scurries about from shade to shade as I think she gets too hot on her little feet! She is the cutest and really makes me so content. She has been super clingy too and follows me around everywhere (not that I am complaining!).

That is all for this weeks list but be sure to come back on Wednesday for a new post! Have a wonderful week ahead guys xx

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