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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9 May 2018

MY NAME IS LUCY & I'M A CONFUSED INTROVERT


^^ Quote found on Pinterest, Unknown original source ^^

Up until a few years back I thought of myself as an extrovert; someone who always loved socialising in large groups, hanging out at busy bars or even a club or two (way back in the day!). Since moving to Cornwall and starting up my business, I have really noticed that I am, in-fact, quite the introvert these days! I still love having a giggle of course and if I am very comfortable in a group of people I will often seem super confident and extrovert (mostly because I love acting out stories and making people laugh), but when it comes to life in general lots of things have shifted and, I mean really shifted! 

Maybe it's old(er) age, maybe I like routine (rather like Gizmo!), maybe I have been spending too much time alone, now that I work from home and that is why I prefer peace and quiet, but I honestly much prefer a silent house to a busy shop or pub; the thought of either of those things gives me anxiety! But it isn't anxiety that takes over in reality, it is the need for understanding and not quite feeling like I am 'in the right place' when I go out. Don't get me wrong, there are places that I love to hang out, I confess that I adore any little Cornish coffee shop, especially if they have homemade cakes the gym (of course) is one of my favourite places (outside of home!). I feel like I fit in, like I belong there, because the other people are there all trying to work on their own goals and that is something I can get on board with! 

My biggest switch over the last few years is moving away from caring too much about materialistic things. I like treating myself as much as the next person, but I have also learnt a lot about what I need verses what I want and that has given me a fresh perspective on life. The last few years have been hugely about self and spiritual development and learning to 'unpack' the fears I have been carrying about with me all this time. I read somewhere that when you are in this particular stage in life, the stage of facing things that have happened and working through the lessons, you often withdraw in order to cope and have strength and that things will ultimately return to a more balanced existence when you have the mental capacity and emotional strength for it. I really believe that is true and, when you realise it, it becomes so powerful.

Growing older certainly has a lot to do with changes in character though doesn't it; the more we grow into who we are, the less we follow the pack. Some people definitely still do this their entire lives but if you can stand out, move in your own direction and just 'do it anyway' surely that is for the greater good!

The downsides to being an introvert are really few; as long as you are okay with your own company which, thankfully, I am! I often wonder whether I should share a little bit more of what I get up to day to day when I am on my own working, but then I think 'would they really want to see that?' and I don't put it out there... I mean, do you need to see me reminiscing with Jason Donovan's back catalogue on Spotify whilst I edit paintings on Photoshop (I mean, if you do fancy some slightly amusing Insta-stories during the week, comment below because I can't tell you the amount of things I don't end up posting!). 

Would you say you are an introvert or an extrovert? If you have switched from one to the other let me know because I am genuinely interested in how we see ourselves and whether we are trying to hang on to being one way when, in actual fact, we are something else! Comment below!
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6 May 2018

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


Welcome back to another weekly gratitude post / list of stuff that has been happening this week / other rambles I may have on my mind! How are you this week? Has it been a good, productive one? Mine has been bloomin’ strange to be honest; my mind has chosen to drift in and out of being logical and that has effected everything I have tried to get done! My mood has been somewhat low but, thanks to Joe, some wonderful readers and followers on Instagram and the sun making an appearance (woo-hoo!), my mental health did decide to take a better turn. 

P.S: If you’re a blogger (or just fancy writing a little something) and would like to get involved in a series I have coming up soon please read the final paragraph of this post for all the details!

Let’s dig into this week and all of it’s happenings shall we? 

:: Some of you may know that our little bear wasn’t very well this week; she had been super lethargic and sleepy, which wasn’t particularly unusual at all, it was only when this mood had continued for longer than usual that I started to get concerned and, by Monday morning, I was in full on cat-mum meltdown! The short story is that she had a temperature and, after a couple of bank-balance reducing jabs and a short course of strange liquid for her food, she was soon back to charging about like a lunatic! The slightly comical part of this story was just how crazy my brain went at the thought of anything being wrong with our little Giz; I have to laugh now because, well, you must sometimes just see the funny side but, as I sat in the vets with the bear, feeling super tearful and sure that at any minute she would be turning her toes up (!), I decided to distract myself with a random leaflet. Of course, there were several to choose from, so I reached out an arm and grabbed one; ‘Which one was it?’ I hear you say, well, the one about a local pet cemetery of course! Popping that back in the leaflet pile sharpish I turned my attention to the notice next to the vets door, which read ‘...when this candle is lit it means that someone is saying goodbye to a beloved friend in this room’ (or words to that effect). As I tried not to burst out crying at the sight of the huge candle (thankfully not lit at the time) the phone rang at the practice and the receptionist calmly and very sweetly told an owner that ‘yes, Rocky’s ashes are back for collection’. By this point I am slightly freaking out at the ‘signs’ that my little fur ball is clearly soon to be off to pet heaven (#dramaqueen) and I try to steady my emotions and be ‘all brave for her’, then came the final installment of the trip, a veterinary nurse telling her colleagues that she came home the previous evening to find that her cat had brought home a steak. She was utterly devastated as it not only appeared to be a steak someone had clearly been defrosting for their dinner, but also, as she pointed out to the girls she was telling the story to, she is a vegan, so it most certainly wasn’t hers! I had to laugh when I heard that and it jolted me back to reality too! I was very grateful for the steak stealing cat story!


^^ In one of her favourite spots... waiting for a wren to fall into her mouth ^^

:: Yesterday I spent a great deal of the day in the garden, pottering about trying to tidy it up. I'm realy enjoying gardening, even though I probably know nowhere near enough to be let loose on such a gorgeous garden. I try my best and find it so relaxing too; plus it must burn off some calories right?!

:: On Tuesday morning, as I collected my make up bag from the window ledge and delved in there to ‘sort my face out’ for the day, I noticed that there was a small collection of thin twigs and what looked like hay in there. This happened a lot last spring too and it is because we have a couple of sets of birds (‘sets’!) nesting above the window and, when we leave the window open we often find things have fallen from the nest and blown in through the window. It always makes me smile as you can see where the bird has pinched it together in their beaks and just dropped some of it; it is the cutest thing and I adore that it ends up sat on my make up bag too! I love ‘our’ bird families so much!

:: As I tore around the house cleaning like a mad woman on Wednesday afternoon, I listened to the most wonderful podcast episode, which just so happened to coincide with many rubbish thoughts I was having that day (thanks to my hormones!). The episode was from Lori Harder’s show ‘Earn Your Happy’, a show I mention here regularly as it is so awesome! Lori was chatting to the absolutely amazing Mel Wells about healing our relationships with food and our bodies and, guys, this show is a must listen. I am now following Mel all over the internet and have popped her books on my Amazon wish-list! I won’t try and delve into what Mel is all about, just head over to the episode and see what you think for yourself; I bet you won’t be disappointed.


^^ These little 'Thrifts' are coming out everywhere now and I adore them ^^

:: The internet is such a wonderful place sometimes and, after my little reorganisation of people I follow and videos I watch (see Wednesdays post for details), I am pretty much guaranteed to only see things that ‘light me up’ when I go into any of my social media now. On Thursday I had totally blocked the day out for my weekly ‘creative time’, something I try to do each week so I can experiment with new ideas and draw and paint until my heart is content! The previous week I had sketched out three garlands which I had in mind to watercolour on Thursday, so the day came and I sat at my desk painting away for an hour and a half and it was a bloody nightmare. If you are a creative type and you hit ‘the block’ you will know what I mean, you just want to scream! I couldn’t mix the right colours, I couldn’t paint the way I normally do; nothing was working. I ripped up the garland and sulked all day! Later on I sat scrolling through Instagram and saw three other posts from other creatives basically saying they were experiencing the same thing as me, and so I reached out to them and had a chat. It always helps to talk about things with other people and the fact that we can do it online with total strangers, get such positivity back and feel connected and like you are sharing an experience is just so lovely. I am so thankful to all the people I chatted to that day, as they really (really) helped me. Thanks guys!

:: I’ve been trying to find the time to get back into reading books again recently; I always used to read so much and love it for escapism. Recently, since working on launching the business, I have just sort of lost that ‘me time’ and really want to make the effort to read for spiritual and emotional growth but also just to lose myself in a good story again. With summer coming up I want to have something on the go to take out in the garden with me; enter the lovely email I got this week… I have recently been emailing and chatting to a wonderful girly, who lives in Cornwall too, and we have been having weekly chats and, this week, when she emailed me, she mentioned that she is starting a little book club (what amazing timing!). The group will read self-development books / inspirational books etc and will have informal get togethers to chat about the book being read that month. It made me super happy to get involved and super excited to get reading again. 


^^ Pink against blue sky... heavenly ^^

:: I am so in love with how everything nature is looking right now. As I type this I can see brand new leaves uncurling and smell freshly cut grass; there are bluebells along the country roads and wild flowers popping up everywhere too. Honestly, the beauty of nature really cannot be beaten.

:: Finally for this week... I am so grateful to Fragrance Direct for existing, not for perfume, but for reduced-priced cosmetics! I am beyond skint but a lot of my make up has seen better days and, whilst looking in Boots on Friday, I remembered Fragrance Direct! I used to get a lot of Essie nail polishes from them as they always had them super cheap, so I checked it out and have ordered everything I needed for such a small amount of money! I will do a little Instagram story or something when it arrives next week! I miss being able to buy a load of make up from Boots though; on top of stationery, it is kind of my 'thing', I love it! Fingers crossed what I ordered will be all good!

If you are a blogger or someone willing to share your story read on…
As you already know, I like to write very openly about my thoughts surrounding mental health, body image and body confidence. Next month I would love to have a series of posts up on From Lucy with Love, written by other ladies like you, all about your body story, whatever that entails. It can be a struggle you have had and how you have turned it around, a list of things you do to keep positive in your mind and body or your mental health story (or anything in between!). If this is something you would like to get involved in please let me know, just email fromlucywithlove@outlook.com. The reason I am choosing the summer to get these posts out is because I know that many women feel like they don’t want to show their bodies off as the temperature rises and I am on a mission to boost their confidence and make them feel less alone. I am not looking for perfect, imperfection is real life (not to mention so much more beautiful), so what I would love is some real, honest stories or ideas for improving self-image and positivity! Get in touch if you are interested and let me know what your idea is!

Thank you for reading as always and I will see you on Wednesday! xx

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2 May 2018

BEING IN ALIGNMENT



This post was going to be called 'The reason I've unfollowed so many people on-line of late' (bit of a long title huh?). To be honest though, it wasn't the title that was the issue for me, it was the fact that I realised why I had been clicking 'unsubscribe' and 'unfollow' like a lunatic, and it is that which I want to talk about briefly here today.

I was listening to the wonderful Jess Lively recently, when my 'why' light-bulb clicked on; Jess was talking about what being in alignment means for her and how our alignment shifts and changes all the time and that, really, what aligns us one moment may push us out of alignment in another. She uses the example of how, some mornings, she wakes up super early, leaps straight into working, with a piece of chocolate and a coffee by her side and other mornings she may sit journaling in a coffee shop about all the things she is grateful for in that moment and not starting on anything work-related until way into her day. That is interesting to me as I guess what she is saying is that we will always get the 'right things' done when we are in a state of flow.

Coming back to my initial point; I clicked on my YouTube app last week and started scrolling through my subscriptions and trying to weed out the ones I had no interest in and find something that nourished my mind or soul, something that inspired or motivated me. It took a while, and as I was scrolling, I realised that I didn't have to have the stuff I didn't care about sat in my list of videos at all! I realised that many of the things I had followed previously just no longer seemed in alignment with who I am and what I wanted to absorb now. So, I went on a cull (I'm not done yet... I subscribe to many channels!).

In no way does it mean that I think the content these individuals are creating is no good, it simply doesn't make me feel uplifted anymore, in other words, I have moved on, and that is okay. I realised that the content I used to really love watching (and making sometimes) is just something I have outgrown now and, when I spend a few minutes scrolling through Instagram or searching for a video to watch whilst I am relaxing in the bath (precious minutes of bliss!) I want to be smiling or learning or nourishing my poor, tired little brain-box with information that will make me feel like I have taken something away of value to my heart and/or soul. 

Social media is both a wonderful and a tricky little beast all rolled into one, but it is certainly our own choice what we have in front of us on a daily basis. Life is too short to scroll through images that make us feel bad about ourselves, like the path we are on will never be 'what everyone else is doing' or that feed us paid adverts that don't come from someones soul and that, for me, is not what I am looking for. I want inspiration, people living their lives, their imperfect lives which are wonderful, filled with real experiences, sharing real things that make us all feel connected and pull us together as humans. I want to see pictures of our beautiful planet and the wonderful things that people do for one another, I want to read about people encouraging growth in others and praising others achievements, that is what life is about, not about pushing out content that is highly edited to conform to a certain look, highly paid for or highly unethical! 

Call me old and boring if you want (thankfully I can't hear you anyway... not because I'm old, just because I'm not in the same room) but, with all the madness in the world, kindness online is the way forward and, since typing this post up, the lovely Peta (from www.pe-ta.com) has written a blog post titled 'Dear 34 Souls I Follow Online' which is basically everything I am saying here about finding your tribe of people and sticking together, so please check it out because that girly rocks at being a wonderful human!

To sum up, keep editing what you are absorbing online because it can have an impact on your psyche, whether you realise it or not. The simple thing to do is to immediately acknowledge your reaction when you're scrolling through whatever app it is; does what you are seeing fill you with inspiration, positive thoughts and excitement, or does it make you question yourself in a negative way and feel like the life you're living isn't up to scratch? If it is the latter you know what to do!
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