17 January 2018

EMBRACING SILENCE



Silence; it's a much needed thing for our souls, yet so many of us, including me, deny ourselves much (if any) of it. 

Our modern way of living is amazing, but one of the big downsides has to be that we are so addicted to our devices, so used to having constant stimulation via various different mediums, that we don't know what to do when the noise stops. I noticed at some point last year how hard I found it to be without my 'digital company'. I rely on my phone for a constant distraction of videos, podcasts and streaming to keep me company, but as soon as it hit me how much noise I need with me to feel 'safe' I started to unpick the reasons why this behaviour was happening. 

Having noise wherever I go had become a way of coping, a way of not having to think about things that were bothering me or worrying me, and I would carry my phone from room to room with me to have that constant escapism. My anxiety increased if I couldn't find something to play in the background and that, quite frankly, is insane. Since when had this been 'a thing' I did, a thing I needed? I had become afraid of feeling whatever emotions my body wanted me to feel, I was pushing it all back and forcing my brain to focus on something else, building upon my anxiety more and more so that, when I did finally have silence, I basically crumbled. Does anyone else recognise this behaviour? 

Being quiet is a brave thing to do in a world with so much noise and with everything happening at such as fast pace everywhere we turn. Being silent during the day, especially when life isn't 'all roses' can bring up extreme emotional vulnerability, fear, anxiety (and tears), but dealing with those things has to be better than pushing them back down and eventually reaching empty in your emotional tank. 

Part of the reason I embarked on my two day fast was to try and reset and re-calibrate my mind and my body and try to spend some time 'listening' and time just being quiet. I wanted to try and hear what my body wanted, what it needed and not just my body; my mind and spirit too. I felt like I'd pushed a ton of emotional crap up the steepest hill and I was ready to stop. As someone who reads a lot of spiritual books and listens to many podcasts on the same subject, I had heard that doing a short fast could help to bring you more 'in tune' with your body and spirit again, so I figured why not! For me, part of that process involved clearing my diary for those days (as far as possible anyway) and just trying to quieten everything down a notch. It was important that I got out in nature and just walked, that I did some mobilisation and some yoga as well as some guided meditations too, plus the extra secret ingredient of sleep! 

How do you guys feel about the amount of 'noise' in your everyday existence? Do you feel like you could benefit from taking a conscious step back too? 
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10 January 2018

48 HOURS OF MADNESS?



This time last week, the first Wednesday of 2018, I did something I have never done before, a fast (I can almost hear my mum saying 'oh my God, you never told me this information'... no mum, because you would have freaked out!). 

I'll start by saying that I really don't agree with fasting for long periods of time for 'diet' reasons. 'So why did you do it' I hear you ask! Well, at risk of coming across like I've lost all my marbles, I did it because I was following my intuition and what I had come to me during a meditation. It is hard to describe how somethings appear in your head isn't it, but sometimes you just have to go with it. I can guarantee that one of the farthest things from my mind at any given time is going without food (I love food... too much!) but I had a feeling I should take a step back, to re-calibrate and reset, for my mind more than my body. I had this come to me more than once and, as I am trying to lean into my intuition more this year, I decided to listen. I must admit though, doing something drastic, just because you 'feel' it's what you are 'meant' to do is a bit... well, strange to some. If you are the type of person who is always getting 'signs' and things just popping into your head, then you will get it, but otherwise you may feel like it is all a little 'woo-woo', and that is fair enough.

Alongside the fast, I was feeling like I was meant to step back from the usual routine in general, which meant no gym (probably wise given I'd be running on empty anyway), and take some time to journal, read, nap if I needed and mediate a little more. So, I trusted the pull (well, my word of the year is 'trust' after all), hoped that I would get some kind of epiphany (!) and went for it, telling only a couple of people close to me; purely in-case I started to go a little insane! 

My plan was to have 48 hours of purely water or the (ever so yummy) mixture I have in the mornings of lemon, apple cider vinegar and honey and then do 24 hours on green juices and snack on fruit and veg. Don't judge me, it's just what I thought felt right. I am happy to say that the first day and a half went well. Thanks to having a little honey in some of my drinks, I felt pretty 'switched on', all things considered. After 36 hours I started to feel a bit rubbish but I kept on going and made it to the end of the two day mark fairly easily. I then made myself a green juice and decided I had got enough out of the 48 hours and really couldn't stomach another day of kermit-coloured beverages!

All that in mind, I guess you may want to know if I got anything out of it spiritually, seeing as that was kind of the point; I would say that I did. My journey into learning to quiet my mind during meditation is a new one, and learning to listen more to any messages that come through when I am in a more quiet and still state of mind is something I am consciously working on this year but, it has to be said that, being more present within any specific moment is not something I am good at. My mind is always jabbering on at a million miles an hour and so, when I had this urge to do the fast, part of what I felt I was meant to get from it was a stillness. It was almost like I was forced to slow down my thinking, purely through the lack of food reducing my cognitive ability, especially by day two. Towards the end of the second day I sat in several meditations and did a slow yoga practice, and it was at this point in the process that I seemed to get several thoughts pop into my head, which I later journalled about; I can share just one of the things with you here (but the other things were personal to be so I won't be sharing those).

One of the biggest things that came up for me was my relationship surrounding food. I have always had many issues with food and, whilst I have never experienced an eating disorder, I would certainly admit to it being a huge contributing factor to some of the mental health struggles I have had. Christmas time always messes up my mind because, like the rest of us, I like to indulge in (all) the treats, eating way too much and my portion sizes go crazy too. Aside from Christmas I do give myself a really hard time about food and it is something I have been trying to find a healthy balance with for many years. The fast seemed to come along as a reset, like I have already mentioned, but also just as a way of reminding me that I don't need food as an emotional comfort blanket, I don't gain anything, mentally and spiritually speaking, by eating big portions or not listening to my body tell me it's not hungry and then stuffing my face anyway. Having started counting macros again since the fast, I can honestly say that I have had a serious word with myself about food and am journalling several thoughts surrounding helping my mindset stay balanced, so I would say that I gained some insight by following what I felt I needed to do in terms of this specific subject.

All in all I am happy that I listened to my intuition as what I got out of the experience was certainly worth it for me. I think that consciously taking the time to plan out two whole days of meditation, writing and yoga helped me get through the time and also made me a little more aware of the importance of self-care too. If you guys have any helpful advice, recommendations or insights about fasting for spiritual reasons then do get in touch with me or leave me a comment below, I am honestly really keep to learn more and to find out what journeys people have been on with fasting and what gets discovered along the way.
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7 January 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Happy Sunday from a very sunny (and chilly) Cornwall! Finally the clouds have cleared, the storms have ceased and we are back to blue skies again. It is proper winter weather right now, which I don't mind too much, apart from trying to warm up in the gym at silly o'clock in the morning! How are you guys?

I'm going to get straight into today's 'Weekly Gratitude' as there is quite the list of things!

:: To kick start 2018 I decided to make a little bit of time each day for short meditation and contemplation practice. About a month ago I got myself a copy of a book by Kyle Gray, called 'Raise Your Vibration: 111 Practices to Increase Your Spiritual Connection', which has 111 daily practices you can do to help you improve your spiritual awareness. This week I kick started those practices and have been really enjoying having one thing to focus on throughout the day. If you are into your angels/spiritual reading and information, then you should certainly check out Kyle Gray, he is a wonderful inspiration.

:: On the subject of meditation, the picture below is of Gizmo, splayed out on my hip during my half an hour meditation practice yesterday. She totally zonked out, keeping me nice and warm throughout the whole thing. I was then stuck until she woke up of course, which meant I was forced to take a nap! What a life!



:: I went to the gym on New Years Day and, although it was absolutely rammed with people, I managed to workout and not freak out! I am super grateful that I have such lovely gym-friends and that I am able to push through my anxieties a little more these days.

:: Speaking of working out, I seem to have another flare up from a deep muscle within my glute/hip; every now and then it just decides that it needs to let me know it is there and makes its presence felt by being sore for a while. Seeing as, these days, I try and have my sensible head on, I decided to take two whole days off training this week to rest my injury. On Thursday evening I felt like a nice drop of slow yoga would be just what the doctor ordered, so I had a spontaneous date with my favourite YouTube yoga lady, Adriene, from the awesome channel 'Yoga with Adriene'. If you fancy yoga, but have never found the time, then there is no excuse with Adrienes channel because she really has a session for everyone. The one I chose (actually, it jumped out at me!) was 'Cosy Yoga' and it was just what I needed in that moment. I put my yoga pants on and a giant jumper and went through the routine feeling super chilled out by the end. I love the way that Adriene teaches and, in the 'Cosy Yoga' episode, she is even joined by her cute dog, Benji!

:: Using a bit of my Christmas money I ordered two pairs of gym pants from Forever 21 and they arrived this week. Of all the gym wear I have, these specific leggings are my favourite (even when compared to more expensive brands). They are super comfortable, have lovely thick waist bands and wash beautifully. Better still, they are affordable (I also caught a 30% off active wear sale so they were even more of a bargain). The leggings I got, in-case you are interested are called the 'Active High Waisted Leggings' and I got some in red and in teal (the teal are my favourites!). For reference, I am a 12-14 and I get large as I find their sizes can come up small.


:: I came home from the gym one morning this week and had a little wander about the garden, just looking at the way the light was catching the frost and the dew drops on the leaves and plants. These quiet little moments are so wonderful.

:: I have felt so grateful for the people who have purchased my printable calendar recently. You guys need to know that it means the world to me that you are spending your money on something that I have created. I hope you are enjoying it! If you guys want to buy the calendar then just click right here to go to Leaf Lane Studio!

:: Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback this week on what size print you would prefer to buy. The results actually came back pretty evenly split between A4 and A5's, so I am going to mull it over a little longer but I think that, ultimately, there will be a mixture of sizes available (over time). I really appreciate every single person who took the time to vote on Instagram or leave me a comment or message. You are the best! (The print below will be heading into my shop in the next couple of weeks!).



:: On Friday, whilst mooching about on iTunes for a new, inspirational podcast to add to my list (of already way too many to keep up with!) I stumbled on Oprah Winfrey's SuperSoul Sunday podcast. I have to confess that I am not a huge Oprah fan; I don't really know why, but I just haven't ever been 'on board' with getting to know more about her but this week I found myself hooked to SuperSoul Sunday episodes and am now subscribed for more. On Friday I listened to the two part episode with Elizabeth Gilbert, who I love, and her voice alone just makes me feel content. It's one of those episodes where I was scribbling down quotes as I worked, because there was lots of juicy things to take away from it! Have a listen and let me know what you think!

:: I'm not a huge TV watcher (because I am always doing something else whilst a TV show is on) but I really enjoyed the new series on ITV this week, called 'Girlfriends', did anyone see it? I highly recommend you catch up with it and give it a go. It has those moments where something is super tragic, yet bloody funny at the same time!

:: On Thursday I took a drive over to St Just to go to the Kurt Jackson gallery. Some of you guys may know that Jackson is one of my favourite artists (I have many, but in terms of landscapes and seascapes he is way up there for me). I love how layered his work is and the fact that you can see so much of his process within the pieces. They had a couple of his sketchbooks on the first floor of the gallery too which, for me, are so much more interesting than the finished pieces of work. For once though, I actually had a good reason to visit the gallery, other than just because it makes me happy! I am about to embark on creating some original paintings for a lovely friend and I wanted to be inspired to paint landscapes again, because it has been a while; I am excited to get started!

:: Yesterday I decided to take an impromptu walk to take some pictures of the sunset; the sky was a perfect mixture of light clouds and clear, open sky and so off I went along the coast path that looks out to St Michael's Mount, and waited for the sun to dip. I adore sunsets, they make me emotional and put me in a contemplative mood. I just love how no two are the same and how the light softens everything around you and nature takes on a quiet, more magical atmosphere bathed in pink light. The sunsets here in Cornwall are absolutely gorgeous and I will never get bored of seeing them.

Thank you for stopping by and reading today's post, I always appreciate you taking the time to be here and value everyone who pops by! Feel free to say 'hi' in the comments, I would also love to know where abouts in our beautiful world you are! Let me know :-)

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3 January 2018

INTERESTED VERSES COMMITTED



Last week I listened to a Lori Harder 'Earn Your Happy' podcast episode, called 'How to move from interested to committed' and, whilst I am often inspired by things I listen to, this episode in particular really made me sit up and take notice. Within this short 'minisode' was just what I was needing to hear at that very moment and it was like my spirit just knocked on my brain and said 'right Lucy, pay attention to this please!' (do you get moments like that?).

Before I go into the reason why it jumped out at me, I should say this: over the last couple of months I have been feeling super anxious, unable to really get stuck into work or concentrate at all really. I have been utterly worn out mentally and feeling like all my 'reserves' are completely depleted. All of those feelings meant that my creative inspiration had all but dried up; I was getting so frustrated with myself for feeling the way I was and being unable to focus on anything but my anxiety. Having been forced to take a step back (by my body as well as it being the festive season) I started to feel a bit more 'myself' again and so, when I listened to the podcast, and heard Lori enthusiastically chatting about how to really 'up your game', I felt the timing was perfect for me to jump in and adsorb some inspiration again. 

In essence, what Lori is talking about is the difference between the language of being interested, verses that of being committed, for example, someone who is 'interested' in their goals will use language like '...someday I would like to...' or '...one day I may...'. ' She discusses that the language behind being 'interested' is often accompanied with excuses and obstacles; always leaving a way out as an option, rather than jumping right in. I think that, as adults, so many of us have the 'language of interested', especially around things that involve a lot of effort to achieve, such as health and fitness goals. We are often 'starting on Monday' and will try and find an excuse not to go to do some exercise, 'it's dark/cold/late/raining' etc. What makes it more silly is that we are then often surprised that we haven't achieved whatever the thing is we wanted.

In contrast, and much more positive in nature, is the language of committed. The language of committed is the 'I can' and 'I will' and is so much more solution based. Lori makes a point about how people who adopt the committed vocabulary will see any difficulties as lessons for self development and growth, rather than reasons to give something up, and that is certainly something I am on board with! She uses an analogy by Tony Robbins, saying that when you are committed it is like being on an island and 'burning all your boats', not leaving one safety net there, just hopping right on in fully. Is it scary, hell yes it is, but it gives us so much more doing things this way. 

I loved this podcast episode because it sums up the way I really want to be in all areas of my life; 100% all in and unafraid of facing new challenges. If I'm totally honest, towards the end of 2017, I did lose my way, often finding myself in the 'interested' camp of 'maybe later' and 'I'll do that tomorrow'. I was burnt out, tired and that made me a little lazy (something I very much strive to avoid being) but mostly I just felt overwhelmed and anxious so it was easier to do the things that I knew how to do and put off the things that are new or take a bit more effort. Thankfully those sorts of times are few and far between, but listening to the podcast made me realise where I was and where I wanted to be, even if it is a little scarier because, like Lori says '...if you want to be committed, you must be prepared to feel uncomfortable' and that is something that takes bravery.

What do you think guys? Where would you place yourselves right now: interested or committed? Check out the episode and tell me your thoughts in the comments.
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