30 September 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ A little experiment on brown paper that I kind of like! ^^

Another Sunday Monday (oops!) , another Weekly Gratitude post!

How was last week for you guys? Mine started off so well, with a couple of bonus days off work (as the hotel has quietened down) so I was able to get on with some painting that needed to be done, which felt really great, because I wasn't getting the extended time needed to just get through it. Unfortunately, it all went a little bit downhill from there but I shall not dwell!

Let’s jump on in!

:: As I have already mentioned above, I got some bonus days at home to spend on Leaf Lane Studio this week. On Wednesday, I was just about to leave the house when the hotel asked if I wanted to take the day off, ‘hell yes I do!’; I was super grateful because I just needed to get on with several things, but painting for my new collection was a top priority. Given that I normally only get snatched bits of time here and there, I threw myself into a full day of painting. It was raining outside and super foggy, and I felt so snuggly sat at my desk with a coffee, the iPad playing Netflix and my paint brush in hand. I got a lot done that day and on Thursday too, and I’m so grateful to have had that extended time!

:: On Tuesday, after work, I went to have another magical reiki session with the beautiful Kirsten over at Cornish Holistic Therapies. It’s my second sessions with Kirsten now, and I honestly could never do it justice in words as it makes me feel super relaxed and mellow and then full of energy the following day. If you are local, and are into holistic therapies then check them out, they offer a great variety of treatments and their new premises over in Hayle is so sweet too. 

:: I want to mention a random act of kindness that happened to me this week but, as I’ve dedicated a whole post to everything surrounding it, which goes up on Wednesday, I will leave this as a teaser! All I will say is that I am so grateful to the amazing human I met on Friday.

:: I caved in to an advert I had seen over and over again on Instagram for a gorgeous sky-blue, cable knit jumper from George at Asda this week. I have given Gizmo two of my favourite jumpers over the last twelve months, not because she loves wearing an over-sized sweater, but because she like sleeping on my over-sized sweater! She has taken over my wonderful grey knit from H & M and a jumper I’ve not had for too long, mostly because it was so fluffy it was a pain to wash, but because I love her so much I will let her stay snuggly and get something new for myself! At £14, my new jumper was a bargain, and definitely ticks my 'love of all things super baggy' box! I adore the colour of it too and can’t wait to wear it and feel all cosy. Shall we place bets at how long it is before Gizmo claims it as her own?


^^ A picture of me before my week took a nose dive into doom! ^^

:: Having has Gemma Atkinson’s book, The Ultimate Body Plan, for months now, I have finally started reading it and, what a bit of light relief it is for a health and fitness book. I want to make a few healthy changes in the next couple of weeks but I want none of those changes to include putting myself through the grief of getting on the scales each  and every week. Gemma is so down to earth and passionate about fitness but also knows, through various personal experiences throughout her life, how it feels it have to conform to what society thinks woman should look like, and so her book is really mental health friendly and the recipes are great too (the only part I’ve read before now!). I am finding that I want to set myself some goals again, as I really work so much better with goals, but I just need to find the right thing. For now though, as the hotel work rounds up, I want to spend a bit more time focused on finding a good balance of weight loss without stress and fear, and self love and body acceptance. This autumn/winter feels like it needs to be a bit of a self nurturing time and I certainly know I need to find a bit more balance.

:: Having realised how much I have given up in my routine recently (*waves to thank the burn out that caused it) I have been re-introducing nightly journaling and oracle card time again. I find it super relaxing before bed to sit quietly, reflect on the day and pull a card or two to support the writing I have done. It feels so nice to close my eyes, having emptied my head of anything that was rattling about, and have my oracle card filling the space behind my eyes instead, it gives me something peaceful to focus in on and I am so enjoying it.

:: Matilda, my office Monstera plant, has grown a new leaf! It is all curled up still but I think it is going to be a 'proper' Monstera leaf as the majority are full leaves, without the traditional shape! I am so excited to watch it open and see what it looks like! My succulents are doing so well too, the have grown lots of 'arms' of new succulents but I don't know what to do with them! Anyone have any clues? Do I snip them off and pot them on their own? Thoughts in the comments would be appreciated!

:: I am looking forward to letting you guys see the couple of new products that come from my recent painting time. I am not at the stage where I can do big collections, with many varieties of products yet, but I am happy to be ticking along and releasing what I can until I am more established! You have all been so wonderful at supporting Leaf Lane Studio and I hope to be able to do a giveaway really soon to say thank you! In the mean time, make sure you stay connected to my Leaf Lane Studio Instagram to see what is coming soon!

After Wednesdays post, there will be no posts for a week, as we are away, but I will be back all rested and ready to share some new things with you! I am working on a Studio Vlog too and will aim to get that up on my YouTube Channel this week, so there is something for you to watch whilst I am gone!

See you on Wednesday for a final post before we go away for a few days!
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26 September 2019

MY NEW PLANNING ROUTINE

^^ Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash ^^

When I first decided to launch my lovely little creative business, Leaf Lane Studio, I had a mad vision of myself sitting calmly at my desk each day, working away on daily tasks, all planned to perfection of course, and floating out of my office at the end of the working day having ticked 'all the boxes' and achieved monumental things in my business. Why I suddenly thought I would become a superhero just from launching a business I will never know!
The reality of things (up to now) has involved many post it notes and scraps of paper, all piled up on my desk ready to be written into a planner ‘one day’ but that day just didn’t arrive (many more scraps of paper did though!). I would find myself sitting down to work and just starting something, with no real thought or direction behind what I was doing.

Whilst I would always give my all to client projects, I would lose my way with business-building work, such as writing blog copy or putting together a marketing structure and find myself lost in scrolling hell on Instagram, rather than using my precious time building my business.

I can tell you exactly what jolted me into reality: suffering major burn out and Holly Bray, from A Branch of Holly, more specifically her podcast, Blog It, Boss It Radio.

BURN OUT
I will keep this brief because I wrote a post all about it last week (plus you can watch my Studio Vlogs on YouTube for more on the subject), but suffering burn out was one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. I am still suffering with it now, as it takes a long time to recover from, but the thing that hit me during the worst of it was this:

‘I am utterly exhausted, and working many hours, but what can I honestly say I have achieved? Has going through this even been worth it!’

I knew that I had to come up with a better way, because I was mentally berating myself for not doing all the things I ‘should’ be completing as a business owner, but feeling too tired to actually think about them, let alone put them into action. I knew there were better ways because I keep hearing about them, but I almost needed to hit rock bottom to see how awful it was in order to move forward.

Enter one of the most amazing podcasts out there for business owners, Blog It, Boss It Radio, by Holly Bray.

I have listened to Holly’s amazing tips and advice for a long time, downloaded all the freebies and thought about how I can do what she is saying, but I just never did anything about it. I was overwhelmed and in fear of not knowing what to do. But today, you join a changed woman, and here is why…

After listening to Holly, and a few other awesome ladies, talk about how they plan their days out to be the most productive versions of themselves, I decided to try the method I kept hearing over and over again: time-blocking and using a few resources to plan. I naturally started researching all the planners but quickly realised that I didn’t want something super complex, because it would be the excuse I needed to spend way too much time planning and not enough time doing. So when I stumbled upon Mal Paper’s ‘Daily Goal Setter’, and had a little flip though online, I realised I had found ‘the one’!

 
I really love this planner and pinky swear no-one has asked me/paid me (I wish!) to say these things, but I am truly seeing results through using it so want to share it. It isn’t rocket science, there is nothing ground breaking about it, but the format just gels with my brain and forces organisation (it helps that it has gratitude list space too!).

The first thing I did when I got the planner was to (finally) sit down for a good hour or two, with a piece of paper and jot down all of the goals, projects and things I have/need to do for the business. I could then pop these things into the beginning section of the goal setter, using the ‘long term/medium term/short term’ goals sections. What I like about this part of the planner is it forces you to think about the what/when/why and how of your goal; as a whole I am pretty rubbish with setting deadlines for things that don’t involve clients, and this really helped me to do this. There are also monthly, weekly and daily sections included within it too, so you can take a project, break it down and delegate it out!

Enough about my the new love of my life, let me share with you the three, yes three, things I am using to effectively plan my week/day. 

AN ON-LINE CALENDAR 
My business email has a useful calendar feature which also syncs up to the calendar on my iPhone, so I can use Holly’s tips for ‘time-blocking’ to lay down the foundations of my day. I start by entering in all the ‘musts’ within the week: workouts, appointments, client calls, part time job etc, then I can clearly see where I have availability to work on the business. I am also implementing Holly’s ‘batch-working’ technique, using between two and four hours at a time to work on one thing, such as these blog posts because, like Holly says, when you get in the ‘flow’ of a task, it makes sense to stay there, rather than trying to get into a different ‘mode’ and do something completely different. My phone and online calendar also gives me reminders when I am coming towards the end of a task and am needing to round things up. If you do this, be sure to add lunch breaks and tea breaks in there too.

TRELLO
I won’t go into the world of Trello here, it took me a long time to wrap my mind around how I could use it, which you can see in this studio vlog if you like, but simply put it is a fantastic organisational tool, where you can create projects, share boards with others and just invent your own world of organisation wonder! I also have the app for it on my phone and this really helps me be able to add things that will be on my desktop when I get home, eliminating even more scrap paper! 

THE 'DAILY GOAL SETTER' PLANNER
I think I have given you enough to ponder on this planner, but I use it to take help block out my days, get into the nitty-gritty of a project and to also review my day and week.

These three things seem to have been all I have been looking for in life and, on the very first day I put them all into practice, I did more work in four hours then I would normally get through in four days, and I am not exaggerating. 

So that is it in a nutshell, I hope you found it useful. I really like hearing about how people plan, and it really is varied, but I am so happy to have found something that works for me at last! Share your thoughts and planning tips in the comments, I would love to know!

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22 September 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ How amazing is this ^^

I’m sitting in bed to type up this weeks post and there is rain and wind bashing against the window outside, it seems that summer has faded into the background and autumn is here good and proper. I love seeing the leaves dropping though, and all the things that come with that stage of ‘in-between'. I know I always say it, but I cannot believe how fast time is passing; the fact that we are already on 22nd September seems bloody insane to me, it really does.

PS: scroll to the end of this post for the latest Studio Vlog video; please don't forget to head to my YouTube channel to subscribe too!

Anyway, before I go off on a rant about how short life is, let's get straight into this weeks list, because I have a few things on it!

:: I think I mentioned in last weeks post about a little Wagtail we had named Penfold; this week Penfold was chasing off another, more grey, Wagtail from his patch, and Joe named her Jemima, despite my pleas for something I could remember, like ‘Penny’. Anyway, we have watched as Penfold and Jemima coexist in the garden this week, that is until last night. Last night something happened; there was one Wagtail hopping about in the newly mowed grass and we decided ‘he’ wasn’t Penfold or Jemima; we spent a good few minutes in conversation about the new fellow being ‘too defined in the face’ and ‘smaller than Penfold’ and just as this discussion was continuing another one arrived, not Penfold or Jemima either, then another, and another, and another! Within in a few minutes we had 14 Wagtails, several of which were babies, all happily hopping about in the garden, pulling up worms and bugs. It was one of the most adorable things to watch. Eventually we think we identified Penfold among the troops, because he has a wiser look about him, and so it was decided that he must be the ‘Grand Wizard’ of the Wagtails who comes to spend time in an area to check for safety before allowing the family to risk it! (And people say your lives are boring if you don’t have kids!).



:: This week I had a major bit of impostor syndrome set in, for the first time in ages; I am going to write a whole other blog post on it so I won't dive into it now. What I wanted to say now though, was that I am super grateful to the lovely people in my life who reminded me that I am fine just as I am in my little business, despite me having a bad day of repeatedly stating '...all I do is crap, I can't paint, my art is rubbish and I don't know why I am bothering with this'. The people who had nice words for me know who they are and I really appreciate it, thanks to them it (the dark cloud of doom!) finally started to fade away.

:: Nature truly is the biggest thing to be grateful for on any day, don’t you agree? I can be having a shit day, like I was a couple of days ago, and just look out the window and suddenly I’m remind of how beautiful this planet it. At work on Friday I was really struggling; I’ve been feeling super tired and mentally worn out this week, and given that I do four hours of housekeeping at work, I can battle to find energy sometimes. I was cleaning in a room and feeling like I just wanted to sit on the floor and sob for a bit, when it started raining a little, so I took myself to the open window and took a deep inhale of fresh, sea air. It really centres me and keeps me grounded, especially when I feel a bit over tired and things can get a little dramatised in my head (we all know that feeling don't we?). The smell of the ocean and the rain is one of the most gorgeous scents for me. I think it can be easy to forget that we have that therapy right on our doorsteps... fresh air!



:: Gizmo has been an indoor cat for a month now and, despite her mistaking my finger for a sausage not even half an hour ago, when she took it right in her back teeth and bit down hard (ouch!), I am happy to report that she is spending less time waiting at the door and looking annoyed. We are still super excited to find somewhere new to live and let the poor thing back outside though, so the house hunt continues, but for now she is doing better.

:: On Friday, yeah, the ‘no energy and exhaustion’ day, I got home from work, showered and promptly threw myself into bed at 4pm. I had to ignore my to-do list and just listen to my body. I slept for just over an hour and woke up feeling like I’d been run over. Eventually I dragged myself up and into my office, where I promptly started lifting heavy furniture about and rearranging everything. I managed to barricade myself in there because it’s a small room and there isn’t much space to be had, so I had to move things in front of the door! So there I am, shattered, sweating, desperate for the toilet (sorry, just giving you a full picture you know?!) when I suddenly get hit with another wave of tiredness. But I had to carry on, lest I die in there, and I eventually finished about an hour later, plugged my computer back in, reloaded the shelved I had cleared and stood back to admire my magnificent work! I loved my office the way it was before, but the sun was glaring on my computer screen big time in the afternoons, giving me a headache and stopping me from seeing whatever I was working on, so a move had been imminent for a while. It ended up being much bigger than I’d hoped because things didn’t fit how I had envisioned them, but it’s done now! Hopefully it’ll give me a new lease of life! It better do because I’m not bloody moving it again! (*update: I can positively report that it is giving me new lease of life as I am typing in there right now and I love my new set up!).

:: There have been some unreal sunsets here this week, the most beautiful, rich colours I have seen in a while. This time of year is so gorgeous for so many things and I have been watching the sky each night to see what show it is going to put on.

:: Whilst working away in a room on Saturday, I thought to myself how strange it was that I spend all day working in rooms that look out to a vast ocean and have never seen a dolphin. On Gizmo's life, not five seconds later, a dolphin jumped out the sea, making a huge splash as it landed back in the water! I couldn't believe it! I must have had a little premonition or something; I watched on and off, whilst I made the bed, as the pod played, leaping and splashing about for a while, before moving on. I always feel so moved when I get to see dolphins!

:: I have a whole load of plans for Leaf Lane Studio and this blog for the next year, including regular freebies for you guys to download, starting with the one pictured below which, when I have finished, will be a wallpaper for your computer/device among other things! Stay tuned for these exciting gifts, but in the meantime, don't forget to head over to see my new stationery collection on Leaf Lane Studio and get your stocking fillers orders in as my notepads and to-do lists are selling fast!

As an added note; not only are my 'Unbe-leaf-ably Organised' to-do lists disappearing fast, I am also getting busier in terms of bespoke pressies and other bits too. Lots of people are ordering bespoke 'initial paintings' for loved ones for Christmas! Starting at just £15, they make such cute (not to mention super easy to frame) gifts. Click right here to have a look on my website. If you are interested, please make sure that:

 a) you read everything on the web page - the letters come in a gorgeous, rich, grey-blue, with white botanical illustrations. You can ask for a unique colour, but I will charge you a little extra for this as I mix it especially for you. These special colour-orders will be invoiced separately, if you are happy with the blue-grey order direct from my site.

b) you order asap! Christmas is not too far away and I will get packed with orders, so the earlier you request it the better!

That is everything for this week my loves, scroll down to the end of this page for my recent Studio Vlog, enjoy!



Don't forget to 'like' and 'subscribe' over on YouTube! I am trying to build my audience numbers up so that I can reach more people and do better things on my channel, so every subscriber helps! Thank you so much!

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18 September 2019

HOW I HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH BURN OUT



I saw it coming from miles away, like a bloody tsunami on the horizon, but I just didn't think it would actually happen, because apparently I am a robot who is utterly indestructible: burn out. What a bitch.

'Burnout—a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress—is not simply a result of working long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy that are characteristic of burnout most often occur when a person is not in control of how a job is carried out or is asked to complete tasks that conflict with their sense of self.'  - Psychology Today

There is a bit of a 'thing' among business owners out there about burn out; how to spot it and how to handle it if it shows its ugly head, but I am just one of those annoying people who thinks nothing will happen to them. Yet here I am right now, about to give you some tips that have helped me start to fight through it. I say 'Start to fight through', because I am still very much 'in' it.

Let's start with a quick list of how I felt it showing up for me:
- tiredness
- irritability
- palpitations
- dizziness/disorientation
- lack of concentration
- depression
- anxiety
- the inability to cope with even small tasks
- severe overwhelm
- achy muscles and joints
- strange vision
- feeling like my nerves were 'on edge'
- headaches
- weight gain (despite a good diet and exercise - and lots of it)
- wanting to sleep all the time

... I am sure there are more little things but I think they will give you the picture for now.

When these things started happening, my days were all exactly the same, pretty much seven days a week: up at 5am (if not earlier) to try and journal before the gym, go to the gym and push as hard as humanly possible, come home and shower, throw some food down my face, go to work at the hotel (four hours of housekeeping), come home, sleep for a bit, eat, work on whatever I could manage, which usually resulted in me staring at my computer and not getting much done because I was too tired to do anything or concentrate. The evenings would be spent worrying about things I hadn't done and working on the sofa until it was time to go to bed (about 11pm), where I would immediately fall asleep and then start that pattern all over again.

Looking at it now, it is extremely apparent what needed to be changed, but when you are deep into a routine you feel like you just have to keep going and the busier I got, the more I pushed. I didn't realise, until I went to see the doctor, that I had no relaxation whatsoever in my day, nothing to calm me and, after having blood tests to eliminate everything, it was decided that it was nervous exhaustion/burn out (no sh*t Sherlock - which is basically what the doctor said to me when I said 'I think I may be a little burnt out').

Okay, so we get the picture of what it is, how it manifests in our lives and that we actually do need to do something in order to change it, so what can we do? Like I have already said, I am clearly no expert as I let myself get into this mess, but as I am learning I thought I would share how I am navigating through it. I am someone who struggles to cut back, whether it is work or training, I really feel like I just have to continue or else I am a failure, which is BS really right?



So here is what I am doing (and it is helping me a lot):

1. More quality sleep.
As I said, I had early alarms every single day. Some days I would snooze eight times before getting up, getting back to sleep and waking up repeatedly before making myself climb out of bed. We all know it has been proven that getting up on your first alarm is healthier, as you don't get into another sleep rhythm again. So I am trying not to hit snooze, but I am also giving myself a few days in the week where my alarm is set later, which means less training sessions too - more on that in a minute.

Deciding, when your alarm goes off at 5am, that you are going to re-set for 7am is a start, but you still wake right up before making that decision, so it is better for you to just accept that you need sleep the night before and set a later one so you are not disturbed multiple times. I am also giving myself one day in the week with no alarm at all, where I seem to wake up at about 7.30am-8.00am, so it isn't all bad!

This is really helping me to claw back sleep and to feel more rested and calm. Even when I decided, at 5am, to lay in until 7am I would be so stressed, worrying about the fact that I wasn't getting up on my first alarm, that I wouldn't really sleep anyway - totally pointless!

2. Shorter naps.
I have always needed naps, even before burning myself out completely, but my mistake has usually been that I set no alarm, and just sleep for the Olympics. Whilst there may be some days where that is totally needed, on the whole a 20-30 minute nap is all our body needs to feel totally rejuvenated, so this is what I am trying to do now. Since I have put several new routines and systems in place to actually help myself, I am having less naps, so my body is clearly feeling less exhausted.

3. Less training.
We all know exercise is great, and you know how much I adore lifting weights and pushing myself, I really love it so much. My issue was that, because of all the other factors I was trying to deal with, I wasn't allowing my body to recover and more importantly I was ignoring all the signs it was showing me. I was in the gym and unable to lift even the lightest dumbbells that I would normal use to warm up; everything felt heavy and I was getting severely out of breath just walking. Now, I have dropped back to four to five sessions a week and have totally restructured what I am doing to accommodate how I am feeling. I am also listening to my body much more and not going training if I feel really over tired; I am not perfect at this, but I am getting better and that is a huge step for me.

I really found the concept of 'less training could help you drop the extra weight' thing hard to swallow, but I also know how the body can hold fat when it is stressed. Our bodies go-to reaction is to protect us and as women we often put fat on around our lower stomach when we are very stressed out because a) the stress hormone is a bitch and b) our body wants to protect us just in-case we become (or are) pregnant; it is pure instinct for survival, and bloody clever if you really consider it for a minute.

4. Planning my days.
 This is the final 'top tip' for overcoming burn out, and this one has helped me so much more than I ever thought. I am actually putting up a blog post next week that goes into much more detail about my planning techniques, so I won't go in-depth here as this post will need dinner breaks, but if you are interested come back next week for that. What I will say is this; after a long time of kind of knowing the tasks I had to get done and aimlessly working away without true purpose, I finally decided I needed structure. So many entrepreneurs talk about the tools they use to help them gain organisation in their business and so I set about finding what would work for me.

The short version (more to follow in next weeks post) is this...
- On-line calendar syncing to my phone
- Trello for general brain-dumps and project organisation (also syncs to phone)
- Goal setting/task list planner (my new best buddy!)



I now plan all my days on my calendar, time-blocking out the day ahead the night before, and then once I see what I need to do (from my amazing new goals planner!) I can batch block my day and really get into the work I need to do. This means I schedule breaks, lunch, important client work, and all the other things I need to get done. This really works guys, and I will never look back now.

I have also brought back little routines of doing my oracle cards and gratitude lists (my new planner has space for gratitude and affirmations, and it is awesome), which means that I am feeling like I have some of me back again.

All of these little steps have started to make a difference. Without a doubt I am still feeling the brunt of the burn out, and I hear it takes a while to 'do one', but I am hoping that I can keep pushing little gaps in my day that will allow me to take some time away from the 'to-do' list and step into some joy and relaxation again.

There is no shame in helping yourself and stepping back for a bit to assess, which is what it took for me to really see what I needed. If you are feeling like any of this resonates be sure to have a full life evaluation and see what changes you can make.

I hope that you found this helpful; to be honest, implementing the tips above will make a positive difference to anyone, burnt out or not, so just have a little ponder and ask yourself if you are giving yourself enough 'you time' and if not, where you can you make some little tweaks? Good luck!

PS: Don't forget to come back next week for more about my planning routine!
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15 September 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE



Welcome back to another 'Weekly Gratitude' post! How has this week been for you guys? My week has actually been much better than previous weeks in terms of my health, which is a plus for me. Apparently this whole burn out thing can take many months to recover from, so I am trying to be sensible and make changes to help myself (something I don't do easily). I talk more about it in the vlog that I will be bringing out next week, however I will fill you guys in about one thing that has made a big difference in a very short amount of time below! Let's get into it shall we?

:: I'll jump on in with the big change I have made this week and the thing that has really made a difference to my everyday life. After months of listening to people on podcasts and watching videos aimed at small business owners, I finally realised that I need a system in place to help me manage my time better and to help keep me on the right path in terms of my goals (blog and business based). As I have a full blog post coming out on the whole thing in the next couple of weeks I won't go into loads of detail here, because not everyone will be interested, but what I will tell you about quickly is my new 'Daily Goal Setter' planner by Mal Paper. Before you ask, no, it is not an ad or sponsorship, I genuinely love this thing! It is a simple to use, goal setting planner (it does what it says on the tin!) and helps you see your long, medium and short term goals, break them down into monthly, weekly and daily tasks and basically become the personification of organised! See the inside of the planner in the vlog I have linked below, or hang on in there for the dedicated post I will be publishing soon, in which I tell you about the three planning tools I can't live without and talk about how I use them. Now that I have started this whole process I won't be looking back!



:: I've been trying to add little things into my morning routine which make me happy and make the everyday mundane that little bit more interesting. I have been lining up my favourite podcasts for my journey to work and treated myself to a super cute little coffee/tea flask-cup thing from Morrisons, setting me back a full £4 of my hard earned money and worth every penny, so that I can enjoy a yummy drink on my commute! It is the little things like this that make my morning a little less like work, and a lot more cosy and enjoyable.

:: One of the biggest things we both miss about our old cottage is the birds in the garden. There are barely any trees around here, something which we had an abundance of in Perranuthnoe, so we rarely see garden birds at all. The one regular visitor though, is a really cute little wagtail that I named Penfold. I am not an expert in wagtail behaviour, but Penfold hangs about the garden for a good majority of the day, only flying up onto the garage roof when we head outside. He soon comes back again and hops about, pecking at the ground for treats and eating the seed we put down in special little mounds for him. He is the most spoilt wagtail on the block for sure.



:: I think I have mentioned this before, but I am so obsessed with the month of September; the smell in the air, the light, the way things feel like they are shifting and how nature begins to give way to Autumn. I love it so much, it is one of my favourite times of year, along with the early spring; there are things about this month that I can't even put into words, there are almost spiritual shifts that happen and things begin to enter a new phase of being. A very woo woo look at things I know, but I am all woo woo you know?!

:: You may have seen in one of my recent vlogs that I treated myself to a few skincare bits from Glossier. Having used them for a few weeks now I can report back that I love them! Check out my vlog to see what I bought; I can't tell you that I have a favourite product because I honestly love them all. The 'bounce' serum makes my skin feel super hydrated without leaving a heavy or greasy feel to it, and the priming moisturiser is fab too. In the mornings, if I need a bit glow to my tired face, I add a couple of drops of my L'Oreal glow drops (I have the lighter golden shade) to the moisturiser and apply it all over my face, leaving it to sink in and settle for five minutes before starting any make-up at all. Everything I ordered exceeds my expectations so I will definitely be looking at more products from Glossier in the future when I am next able to treat myself to something.

:: After work today I met up with my gorgeous friend Kimberley for a good catch up over a little slice of cake (lemon drizzle for me as that is all that was left on a Sunday afternoon!). I always feel so sorry for Kimberley as I definitely waffle on for the whole time before we go our separate ways again (she's probably laying down in a dark room somewhere right now actually). It is lovely to just sit, drink coffee, eat cake and have a really good chat and a giggle though, I need more of that! Thanks for putting up with my chat Octo!

:: I am definitely going to do a more in depth post on my current thoughts around body image, but I will mention this one thing now because I am so grateful for it this week. In a nutshell, I haven't worn any of my jeans for over a year, for fear of what they may look like on my body/that they would no longer fit. I have given myself extreme jean-based anxiety (clothes in general actually) and this week, after fake-shopping online (I fake shop a lot just for fun!), and putting several pairs of jeans in my basket, I realised I need to stop fretting, be brave and try on my existing jeans. As soon as I had the house to myself, I put Friends on because, you know, familiarity, comfort and giggles are always welcome when you feel ill through nerves, and tried on the damn jeans. Short story is, they all fit. I am very grateful to not have to buy new jeans.

I am going to leave it there for today guys, but I will be back on Wednesday with another post and a new Studio Vlog too, for now though here is my recent vlog, please hit the 'like' button and subscribe to my channel if you like my videos, it would me the world to have you as part of the family!

Have a great week ahead!

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11 September 2019

WHAT IT MEANS TO REALLY 'SEE' YOURSELF


^^ Image by Rowan Heuvel via Unsplash ^^

We watched the movie ‘Split’ last night, which is a film I’ve been meaning to check out for ages, have you seen it? Its such a good one. Right at the end of the film, the main character, played by James McAvoy, has the girl he's been keeping locked up standing there in front of him and, for the first time he sees that she is covered in scars from years of abuse from her uncle. He says to her ‘you are different from the rest, you are more evolved'; he realises that, like him, she has suffered in her life and he seems to resonate with her on an emotional level because there is a shared understanding of the pain they have been through. There is a message throughout the film about people ‘waking up’ through their experiences in life and that is what I want to talk about today. 

It is true to say that life shapes us, how can it not, it has so many facets to it and so many personalities all flowing around one another every single day. Every experience, good and bad, mould us over time, just as the sea smooths out a rock, or piece of glass, the more we are metaphorically 'tumbled in the waves', the more we understand ourselves and become something less jagged (less naive) and evolve into a perfect version of ourselves in our own way.

What I'm very sure of is how the more difficult, emotional experiences in life fast track our learning, self discovery and spiritual growth. As humans, we have choices; we can make a decision to to let something fester in our brains forever, turning us bitter, angry or depressed, or we can let them become a part of us in a more positive way, holding on to what was important from the experience and choosing to move forward with that new knowledge and growth (taking with us what the universe intended us to understand). 

Fear is crippling sometimes and so when faced with it, you have to try and run at it full pelt (unless it is fear of a big, hungry, very scary bear, in which case I recommend not running towards it at all... pick your battles people!). For example, and I will use a very small fear of mine here: you may feel fear about getting petrol for your car. For me the fear comes from feeling physically exposed whilst people queue in their cars behind me, forced to look in my direction and, in my head, judging me and thinking about how I look and what I am doing. If I let that fear take over I will never get petrol at all, meaning that I am stuck inside until Joe gets some instead. This is a small fear, or was, because I have now done it so much it barely even registers (win for me!), but my point is that it can have ripple effects throughout your whole life.

With small fears, like the example above, the best thing you can do is to face them directly; you have to distract the voice in your head that tells you people are looking at you, and you just have to ‘do the thing’, because afterwards you will drive away feeling amazing and, do you know what you can do with that amazing feeling... anything you bloody want to! That’s the great thing about doing the harder stuff in life, when you conquer one thing, you feel so good you want to do more right that minute!



The bigger things in life, the traumatic things, really shape us, they grab us firmly by the shoulders, stand us in front of a mirror and force us to see ourselves completely. As hard as it is to face things sometimes, we must do this work, we must ‘see ourselves’, including all our flaws, which is why doing the work after a trauma is so important. Once again, I can only reference my own experiences, and I’m not going to air them here, but the traumas I refer to are emotional and extremely hard to deal with. When you go through anything in life, as easy as it is to stick your head in the sand and push it away, trust me when I say, it will come back again and again until you acknowledge it. It may involve others or it may just be something that you have experienced alone, but that doesn’t matter because it will return to you as 'work you need to do' at some point. I have had things show up for me that happened when I was in my 20’s and I've had to work through the emotions all these years later, but it was worth it. 

With age I have evolved my understanding and have come to learn that suffering a little bit of emotional pain in order to start to clear the deeper pain is a must. You cannot be afraid of seeing who you are, and that is what happens when you refuse to push things under the carpet. What you see you may not like though, and that is the warning I am here to give you, but do not fret, because the biggest step is seeing yourself, once you do that you can change what you do not like, and that is true growth right there. Staying the same, ignoring the shitty stuff, that is just ignorance, so do the work, it’s bloody wonderful on the other side.

The downside is you feel emotionally exhausted for a while as you work through things and scramble about for answers, but my goodness it’s such a freeing experience. Work on yourself every single day, rather than allowing everything to catch up with you; you soon get used to doing it, and before you know it you think completely differently and your bounce back rate is so much faster!

Here are my tips to help you through self discovery:

WRITE
I do my ‘morning pages’, which involve getting up, making a cup of tea or coffee and sitting with a notebook to just write whatever comes into my head. If nothing comes, just write about anything and see what comes up. Some days nothing will surface and that is okay. Try and write at least two to three pages, giving yourself time to explore the things that arise when, and if, they do.

LISTEN
Go out into nature and walk. Listen to the birds, the wind in the trees and allow your mind to travel within and see what you hear. Journaling after this process can also be useful.

EDUCATE 
I love listening to podcasts that are thought provoking and soul enriching. My favourite is the Ophra Winfrey ‘Super Soul’ podcast, which covers such a wide range of subjects but never fails to make me think about things from the point of view of my own life, even if it is simply ‘wow, I live such a privileged life’, which is what I thought last week when I listened to a holocaust survivor retelling her version of events. It was so sad, but her story had such power and positivity to it, and you have to leave that episode thinking that, compared to that, nothing in your own life is that bad. Another favourite of mine is the Lori Harder podcast, Earn Your Happy, which covers a great deal of subjects from business to body image. I love her attitude to things and they way she has been through so much, talks about it openly and uses her story to encourage her listeners.

EXERCISE 
You guys know that I love my gym training; lifting weights and pushing my body is my way of going within, pulling out strength that I didn’t know I had and understanding what my body is capable of. The body issues I have had throughout my life, and continue to struggle with, will not win, and I will not be forced to stay indoors through fear of being seen in my skin, so my morning routine of the gym is therapy for me in so many ways.

So to end this post I will circle back to that last scene in 'Split'; the lead female character finally realises what she has to do to get James McAvoy's character(s) to 'see' her, and that is reveal her most vulnerable self to him. Isn't that so important throughout life? Not just allowing those close to us to truly 'see' us, but to allow ourselves to do that too, because most of us are scared of what we will see if we really look.

Let me know what you think about this subject in the comments guys. I am really interested to know!
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8 September 2019

WEEKLY GRATITUDE


^^ The gorgeous beach at Perranuthnoe, I miss living in that village so much ^^

Weekly Gratitude posts are back baby! I have been so worn out that I literally couldn't even drag anything out of my brain onto the screen, I would just sit staring at the computer and nothing would come into my mind at all, which is just so unlike me because I love writing. I am finally beginning to feel my mojo returning and can't wait to be back at my desk more. It has helped to get out the house for some fresh air more often; it has been quite difficult to want to go out after a shift cleaning at the hotel for several hours and then needing to work on Leaf Lane Studio projects, but even a few minutes of fresh air helps boost my inspiration for other things and just general well being too. Today we went to Perranuthnoe (our old village!) for a walk on the beach and a little coast path walk; it was truly amazing to be out and about. It is so easy to get wrapped up in being busy and think there is no time for anything relaxing, but I am trying to remember to prioritise that stuff more.

PS: I will be putting my next Studio Vlog up in the next day or two so stay tuned for that, but if you haven't caught up yet I have popped the most recent one for you down at the bottom of this post, or click here to go to the Studio Vlog playlist!

Let's hop into this weeks gratitude list because I have a fair amount to get through!


^^ Loving my Lucy and Yak dungarees! ^^

:: On 1st September, Leaf Lane Studio turned two years old, which I can't quite believe! These last two years have flown by and I have learned so much, but that is a story for another blog post! As I have been harping on about being a 'true artist' and getting some dungarees for so long, Joe bought me a gift card for Lucy and Yak as an business anniversary pressie. Lucy and Yak do the best, most planet and people kind clothing ever! I think I spent the voucher in about five minutes flat and am now the proud owner of a pair of their corduroy dungaroodles (not sure why I keep calling them that but let's roll with it!). I love them so much and now feel like a fully qualified artist, as well as a childrens television presenter/decorator!

:: If you have been watching my Studio Vlogs, or keeping up with things on Instagram, you will know that we turned Gizmo into an indoor cat, just until we move again and no longer have a very dangerous road right on the doorstep and cats that beat her up daily. She is improving and getting used to it, but up until this week she just hasn't wanted to play at all. We bought her a few things to encourage her but still nothing. That was up until mid week when I discovered a ridiculously long shoe lace lurking in my 'man drawer'. There you have it, Gizmo awoke and has been obsessed with it ever since! It has been wonderful to watch her play again, I feel so sorry for her right now and just wish I could magic her a new house with a Gizmo-friendly garden again.


:: You may remember that, just over a month or so ago, I had some amazing Reiki, which left me feeling so regenerated and energised. Mum kindly paid for that for me and has recently paid for another one, which I am booked to have in a couple of weeks. It feels so nice to have some self-care booked in, because I have neglected 'me' time recently. It is funny how those things slip away without you even realising, but I am working super hard to bring back some relaxing and pampering things into my life again, even silly, simple things, like taking more time with my skincare and popping a little face mask on every now and then. Doing these things just helps me feel a bit more taken care of, rather than a scrappy mess, and it makes the biggest difference to me psychologically speaking.

:: Have you guys seen how pretty the moon has been looking this last week? I mean, it always looks pretty, but it has had a beautiful, rich-yellow glow about it, making it look even more incredible.

:: I have been sketching away on the iPad this week, working through some ideas for new designs for another stationery release for Leaf Lane Studio (did you see my recent collection?). I will be bringing something new out for winter and can't wait to start adding to my products! I will also be releasing a new wedding stationery collection to, called 'Bay', which will be coming very soon, so stay tuned for that! The best place to be for anything new is Instagram, so make sure you are following my Leaf Lane Studio account as well as the blog one!

:: On the topic of Instagram, Lucy Wood, one of my favourite YouTubers when it comes to body confidence pieces, did an amazing video featuring some of her favourite 'mid-size' girls online, predominantly on Instagram. All of the girls she featured are super inspiring and absolutely gorgeous so I highly recommend you check out Lucy's video to see her chatting about these ladies and then head to Insta to fill your feed with positive females!



:: This week I have been painting this ^^ lovely yellow piece for an even lovelier lady who took advantage of a recent Leaf Lane Studio offer and treated herself to a custom initial! I adore painting these and find them so relaxing to sit and work on! They look so adorable when they are framed and put in your office or anywhere at all actually! These little initials are so popular and I am anticipating having a fair few to paint for Christmas gifts, so if you do want one, head over to Leaf Lane Studio and check them out. I will be putting my prices up on these very soon, so get in there fast before they change at the end of September because, right now, they are a bargain still!

:: My office is a place I just love walking in to at any time of day. I have it set up just how I want it and it feels so cosy and inspiring for me. I have started my 'Morning Pages' again and sit at my art desk, with a coffee or cup of tea, and journal away happily for half an hour to start my day and it feels like such a magical time, especially now the mornings are darker again; it just feels like me in my own little world.



:: Talking of coffee, I probably shouldn't be happy about this, but I have now discovered a proper love for milky coffee. I have never, ever drunk coffee, always hating the taste, no matter how it was served to me, but one day in the summer, I woke up craving an iced coffee and haven't looked back since. What was that about? No, I am not pregnant, just strange!

:: Who knew that Mac are selling mini lipsticks now?! If you are an old school follower of this space of mine, you will surely remember I love Mac lipsticks! I have had a list of shades I would love stored on my phone forever. One of the ones I have wanted for an age, is the shade 'Chili', which is a brown/red shade, ideal for autumn, so when I saw that they had them as more affordable mini versions I had to get it! God help me now that I know there are teeny versions of my favourite lipsticks... save me!

I feel like I have so many things to tell you guys about, but for now, seeing as it is 9.15pm on a Sunday evening, I will leave it there and be back with a blog post on Wednesday, yep, normally programming has returned!

Have a wonderful week ahead and remember to stay tuned to my YouTube channel for this weeks Studio Vlog (I would love you forever if you subscribed too!), and I will see you really soon.

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5 September 2019

A LETTER TO SEPTEMBER



There is something about you, September; a certain nostalgia that, even in my late 30’s, brings with it that feeling of fresh starts, like the new school year (do we ever lose that feeling?). I still get knots in the pit of my stomach when you roll around just like the ones that I used to get when I packed my school bag for a new term, the fear of an unknown chapter, mixed with the excitement of everything yet to come.

It’s funny how all these years on, the sound of an early alarm on a slightly colder, darker morning, can set off a feeling of vulnerability, bringing back memories of difficult school days and worries about making and keeping friendships which, at the time, seemed like the be all and end all of life. 

September, you have a lot to answer for!

Thankfully, with age, you now represent fresh starts in a more positive way; freedom, excitement and the chance at a new beginning, like another go at New Year, but far less dismal and far more realistic than January (with less bloating too!). When you arrive, the start of autumn and all of its delights creep in; chillier mornings, met with hot drinks before venturing out wrapped in more layers than I’ll ever really need. The evenings have the magical scent of wood smoke in the little villages I drive through, with inviting lights from cosy kitchens spilling out into the dusk (there will soon be Christmas lights and extra cooking happening in there). You represent hot tea at night, wrapped in fleecy pajamas and over-sized jumpers, soon stripped off because it’s still a little too warm but also too cold for just a t-shirt. 

Summers independence gives way to the more isolated Cornish winter time, where it feels like the right time to bunker in, take stock and make plans for spring. The lighter evenings are the one thing I miss the most, but there are other things to look forward too instead and it really won't be long before the light returns. 

This could be purely in my mind, September, but to me, you smell different, like someone has unscrewed the lid to Autumn and allowed it to flood out and mix in with what is left with the scent of summer; it is such a unique and wonderful scent that I could never describe, but it has ‘September’ written all over it. They say scent is one of the most powerful of the senses and that is so very true, the first scent of autumn is what you bring and I feel it running through my entire body when I walk outside at 6.30am to go to the gym and take my first deep breath of the day.

I’m excited for you this year, September, because you mark a distinctive change in me, something big has shifted and all the personal growth work I have been doing seems to have reached a peak within me and, as you began, I felt a part of my old self shed away, like a snake shedding it’s skin. I feel ready for new chapters of growth, to push my boundaries and take on new, more exciting challenges. I feel ready to leave parts of me behind that have haunted me for years and allow room for new things to venture in. 

You also mark the second year anniversary of Leaf Lane Studio, making you even more special as, every year you are the month where I will celebrate twelve more months of business growth and so many lessons too. I intentionally launched my business on the first of September to give me something to kick start me into autumn, because you, along with spring, are my favourite season; the season of change. 

Autumn and winter show us how necessary it is to allow things to drop away in order to return stronger and more beautiful than ever, and I feel like you, September, always represent that for me.

Let us make the most of you and thrive as winter returns again.

I'm ready for you!
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