Three weeks driving.

Last month I (finally) took and past my driving test! I have never really seen myself as an anxious learner but driving solo is completely different to having lessons and even being with someone else in the car. When I past my test the examiner said to me ‘now you start to learn to drive’, this couldn’t have been more true, in the last few weeks I have learnt so much and here is just a few of them..

  • This might just be me but the louder I sing the faster I go, scarily without even realising! Note to self; do not get too into that song, not even Adele or Demi.
  • Do not wear a jumper on a long drive, it gets hot and you will have no choice but to sweat it out, lesson learnt.
  • Flashing lights are very distracting, do not look into the lights.
  • Do not drink too much coffee or anything for that matter but especially coffee before a long drive, you will need a wee and there will be no toilets, story of my life.
  • The motorway is kind of wavy and if you go too fast you will feel sea sick.
  • North wales does not always mean home, confusing I know but signs don’t always make sense.
  • Your back will hurt, always stretch after driving, another reason to do more yoga.
  • Do not let the sky distract you, not even the sunset, not even if it is as beautiful as the lion king sky, no.
  • Always have sunglasses at the ready, especially my fellow Brits, you really never know when the sun will make an appearance and oh gosh it burns.
  • Sneezing whilst driving is scary, keep your cool, hands always on the wheel and always stay alert.
  • My parents always had a no swearing rule, I grew up never swearing, I still don’t, until that is I am driving. Road rage happens and no amount of breathing can help, it is okay to fdh**j@dh it out.

How I have been dealing with the more serious kind of driving anxieties:

  • When I’m unsure of my route or panicking about being in the wrong lane I look for a car that someone I know has, I then imagine it’s them driving and I know it sounds silly but it helps, imagining someone I know on the same road.
  • A few times I have been a little paranoid and anxious over something being wrong with my car, the brakes, gears or wheels, when this happens I take a few deep breaths and look for somewhere I can safely pull over if needed, reminding myself that I am in control, just planning what to do in my mind makes me feel more at ease.
  • If those anxieties do come true (touch wood), be prepared, I have all my breakdown information stored in my phone, if anything were to happen I know exactly who to call and what information I would need.
  • Something that always triggers anxiety for me is rushing, having to be somewhere on time, to avoid this when driving I have been putting more than enough time in the parking ticket machine and making sure I leave home earlier than needed.
  • I have found listening to chilled music so helpful with taking my mind away from the anxieties, I don’t think I could listen to anything too fast or loud but chilled music has definitely been helping me feel more calm.
  • Going the wrong way, it happens to most of us, my dad being the exception, when this happens I always think to myself ‘what is the worst that can happen’ of course stopping my mind from over thinking the answer. The worst that can happen is I end up somewhere else, I automatically take a different route or I stop somewhere  safe and plan another route, all non life or death situations and all completely manageable.
  • With independence comes responsibility, I don’t know who said that but it could not be more true, for me anyway. Not being able to drive has meant or at least had been an excuse to rely on my parents for quite a bit, more than I would like to admit. Since driving I have felt that independence I needed however, with that I have also felt the responsibility. Feeling (almost) fully responsible for myself, if I need something I have to go and get it, if I am going somewhere I have to go, I don’t have to wait anymore and I can’t make excuses either. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much enjoying it but the fear of not enjoying it is there, the fear of anxiety, feeling anxious over feeling anxious. I am choosing to embrace this, regardless of anxiety, I choose to embrace the change and the feeling of growing up, finally feeling twenty three. Wow that got deep.

Is this all just me? What have you learnt since learning to drive?

 

Up, up & away.

Yesterday evening my family and I decided to walk up Dinas Bran, Llangollen, it was not a surprise to find we weren’t the only ones there, with it being the weekend of The Wales International Balloon Festival, the castle (mountain top) was filled with people all hoping to see a sky filled with balloons. After a while waiting and wandering if we had got the right time, I was all set to give up with the views being beautiful enough not to feel disappointed, when one by one they started to appear. Floating over the town and up into the sky, so colourful and calm, it was a truly beautiful evening. Here are some of the photographs I took, it was a little hard to stop myself from snapping away, I even dangled out of the car window a few times on the way home. The balloon festival is also on today and hopefully weather permitting the sky will again be filled with balloons for people (and dogs) to enjoy.

Time to Change Young Champion.

You may remember a few weeks back I posted ‘Find a Penny’ and about receiving some very exciting news, well, the exciting news was I was accepted to become a Time to Change Young Champion and this weekend saw my first training sessions.

I can not put into words how inspiring the whole weekend has been, I have met some truly incredible people and I am so very excited about working with everybody at Time to Change.

Being in a room filled with people who share the same passion and determination to end the stigma and discrimination around mental health felt very overwhelming, in a good way of course. Surrounded by such bravery, honesty and positive energy left me feeling empowered to make a change, knowing we can and we will make a difference.

I am overly excited about the up and coming future and really cannot wait to begin. I feel very thankful for this opportunity and would just like to thank everybody from this weekend and all who made it possible, you are all truly wonderful!

Nicole

Roasted vegetable & chickpea curry.

September is here which means I am back to creating warming dishes for cosy evenings. I love experimenting with vegan curries, that also happen to be free from my allergies; gluten, onions and garlic. This recipe is also free from oil, nuts, mushrooms and coconut. The curry is super easy to make, takes less than an hour, can be made the day before, frozen and will leave even non-vegans wanting more! What more could you ask for?

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Continue reading “Roasted vegetable & chickpea curry.”

Exploring Home.

When I came home from Paris I felt that dreaded stuck feeling, kind of like the holiday blues but worse. The feeling of being truly and utterly stuck and so my once in a blue moon blue days became more and more frequent. The last couple of weeks I have pushed away those blue days by exploring my home. Adventures not new or far but beautiful to say the least. My need to travel and see more of the world will probably always be here but I feel very grateful to have such beautiful places practically at my doorstep. This week I passed my driving test (YAY) so I am now able to visit more places, as soon as those blue days creep in. What helps you and your holiday blues?

University and mental health.

This time four years ago I was preparing myself for university and all it entailed; the big move, the exciting new friends, the student lifestyle, not forgetting the degree of my dreams, or at least so I thought.

I do not want to but a downer on such an exciting time in your life but I just want to talk about how important it is to keep healthy and I am not talking about getting in your five a day. Although yes it is all very positive and exciting but no matter how old or prepared you are, going to university is scary. There is so much change and adapting to it is hard, I remember it all too well. From my first couple of weeks at university I struggled, I already had ill mental health and well, being away from home, not knowing anybody, starting a new course and feeling well and truly out of my depth added to the illness.

At the time I wasn’t aware of mental health, nor the help I needed. I do not recall having lectures or conversations about health and wellbeing whilst at university and it wasn’t until I started my current course, at a different university, I was made aware of the helpful resources that are available to students.

To cut a very long story short my time at university was bad, I didn’t cope well and my mental health suffered. During this time, I knew that I could not continue, I was ill, miserable and felt completely lost but speaking about it? Getting help and guidance? Out of the question. I was embarrassed, ashamed and not to mention a failure- again, so I thought. I could not be a university drop out, I could not leave my future plans and go back home, no matter what happened I would stick it out.

Sadly, I became sicker and sicker and on returning home after my first year it was clear to my family going back was no longer an option. I guess I was lucky, my family saw the signs and they persuaded me to seek help and leave university.

The feelings of being a failure lingered until I realised that it was okay. It was okay that I tried something I didn’t like, that I got onto the wrong path and that my future plan was going to change. It was okay that moving away from home was not what I had expected, that the ‘university lifestyle’ was not for me and that a career in fashion was no longer what I wished for. Slowly I was able to accept all of these things that had been building up into a huge pressure. Overtime I was able to see that what I did was actually incredibly brave, I put my health and happiness first.

I never ever thought I would go back to university, in fact the thought of it alone made me feel sick to my stomach however, four years later I am looking forward to going into my second year. A different university, a completely different degree and aware of the things I need to keep healthy. I no longer feel the pressure I did the first time around because I have learnt that we can only do our best and that life is too short to plan our futures. Focusing on the now, our present moment and feelings makes life so much more enjoyable. Leaving my first university was one of the best decisions I could have made and one I will never regret.

No matter how small or large it may be seeking support and help is so important for your health. If you are feeling alone, ill, homesick or lost there are people that can help. If unlike my current university things like student health and wellbeing aren’t spoken about here are some useful organizations that might be able to help you if you are finding something difficult. Student Minds, Mind, NHS, Gofal.

Whatever it is you are doing; going to university, a new job, an apprenticeship or a gap year, please put your health and happiness first, look after yourself and of course let others help to.

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Thank you for reading, Nicole

 

A few favourites.

Here is a mixture of things I have been enjoying the last few months from cruelty free beauty products to board games and all things in between, enjoy!

First starting with the beauty products, I am still new at finding cruelty free and vegan products and tend to stick to the same brands but this month my parents bought me a bottle of L’occitane Verveine shower gel. To my surprise L’occitane are completely cruelty free- in the UK at least, please check to be sure. I am very fussy when it comes to shower gels and although I was very grateful they bought it for me I did doubt if I would like it. Again, to my surprise I love it and not just in the shower either, this makes the freshest, bubbliest, bubble bath and you only need a little to. The scent is lemony, fresh and leaves me feeling relaxed, calm and of course sparkling clean. This would make a perfect gift for somebody or a treat for yourself; I am looking forward to trying more of L’occitane’s products.

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I am far from a beauty blogger but I do love sharing cruelty free, vegan make up finds with you, especially the good ones! I recently bought the Barry M ‘Brow Kit‘ in the medium to dark colour. I have tried all kinds of eyebrow applicators, pencils, brushes, powders, creams, you name it I have tried it and none have been as good as this one. It includes a brown cream, a darker powder, a highlight powder, a double-sided brush and a small pair of tweezers. I love how it includes both shades so you can choose to go lighter or darker. It stays really well (even in my bald parts) and doesn’t feel too heavy, the only thing I find wrong with it is there isn’t a little bristled brush but for the price it is great. I also love the handy small, thin size of it and the added mirror on the inside of the palate, it’s just right for taking out with you.

As I mentioned in my last favourites post, I am currently, kind of, a little obsessed with the M&S Rosie for Autograph lipstick range and although I love the Silk Rose shade I felt I needed a more of a casual, day time colour. This time I chose Nude Blush and of course I completely love it, at first I thought it might be far too pale for my skin tone but with a little bronzer it looks great and was just what I wanted. I cannot recommend these lipsticks enough and if I haven’t tempted you yet, they smell just like mini eggs!

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This has been a favourite of mine for a while now but I just needed to share, coconut oil, of course you have probably all heard of it before, it seems to be the in thing for just about everything and anything. I use The Groovy Food Companies and one thing in particular that I have been using it as is a make up remover, you must try it, I can not rave about it enough. I simply scoop a little on to my fingers and rub all over my face, eyes and brows included, you can even keep your eyes open whilst doing it! I then get a piece of cotton wool and remove the make up before washing the coconut oil off with soap and warm water. I use Lush’s Coal Face soap to do this to make sure I don’t leave any extra oil on my face. Both work very well together and although coconut oil can seem a little expensive in some stores it is extremely long lasting, you only need the tiniest amount for a full face of make up, it works out a lot cheaper than most make up removers to.

As well as the make up remover I have also been using coconut oil as a hair mask. I don’t like using too much of it and leaving it overnight as some suggest but I do like plaiting my hair and popping on a scoop for those ‘it doesn’t really matter if my hair looks greasy’ kind of days and when me hair is plaited you can’t really tell anyway. I have been doing this for around three weeks now and it already feels much healthier, thicker and shinier to. I highly recommend this especially for those of you with split ends like me.

This month Disney’s ‘Finding Dory’ was finally released and it did not disappoint my high expectations. I have read mixed reviews and I just don’t know why, people keep saying ‘it isn’t as good as ‘Finding Nemo’’ but I actually preferred it! I loved the new characters, hidden messages and of course the comical and heart warming side to it to. If you haven’t already been to see it please do, don’t let anything you read about it, or your age (..mum) put you off.

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As September approaches the shops quickly fill with back to school supplies and no matter how old I get I still get rather excited to buy new stationary, unfortunately all I really need is a notebook and a pen (how boring, right?). Here are a couple of items I simply could not resist, I am sure there will be much more to follow, adding to my already overflowing box of folders, pens and notebooks. The watercolour floral ring binder is from Sainsbury’s and the two small notebooks are from Tesco. I shall have to stop myself from visiting Paperchase this month!

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A new favourite scent this month is the Yankee Candle Salted Caramel wax melts, as recommended by my friend who shares my love and slight addiction to scented candles. This is the first time I have seen this shape and size wax melt, although I don’t think the actual wax has changed much the packaging is a lot easier to open than the usual cupcake plastic wrapped ones. I am not a huge fan of salted caramel but this smell is beautiful, it’s sweet and light yet cosy to! The perfect combination, I highly recommend. This set of six was £3 at Tesco and although slightly smaller it works out cheaper and I find they have the same strength as the cupcake style melts.

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Last but not least, this month I bought a chess board with the hope I would learn how to play chess. I still haven’t got around to learning but I have mastered the art of playing draughts. Draughts always reminds me of childhood evenings at my grandmother’s house and boring rainy days, with the weather so up and down here in Wales I have found my family and I playing outside in the sunshine and in the conservatory listening to the rain. I don’t know if it’s another form of technology escape or if it’s because I keep winning but I have found it so very enjoyable.

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That’s all for now, what cruelty free products have you been enjoying this month? What do you use coconut oil for? And what is your favourite board game? Please do share with me.

Find a penny.

This morning my mother and I took Syd and Archie- our two dogs, on their usual short walk, not this one here, sadly Syd can only walk for twenty minutes now. Whilst walking my mother found a penny on the floor which of course was followed by ‘find a penny pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck‘, I put the penny into my pocket and carried on with the walk.

After our walk I decided to go for a little swim, I was the only one in the pool, it was so very peaceful and truly enjoyable. It sounds silly but I felt extremely grateful for what I could do, what my body and mind could do now that a few years ago seemed impossible.

Moving on with my day, my cousin and I took her three year old and six week old sons to the park, we played on the swings, the slide and the seesaw before calling for ice lollies on the way home. It is always so lovely to see them and I love nothing more than seeing them both (okay so maybe not the little one, although he did seem very happy) enjoying the outdoors.

I came home from the park and took Archie on his second walk (the above pictures). Whilst walking I thought to myself, I better make the most of walking in the sunshine but this walk is beautiful in rain or shine, no matter what month or season, I am so lucky to have such a beautiful place five minutes away from my home. It was clear to see that Archie enjoyed every moment, he didn’t stop running, in and out of trees, picking up sticks and walking in the river. Just like my cousins sons I love seeing him enjoy the outdoors, seeing how happy it all makes him.

Heading home and feeling a little tired after the last walk of the day I decided to check my emails, unwind and have a relaxing evening. Whilst checking my emails I found out something very exciting, I apologise I don’t want to say anything just yet but I am so very very excited.

I am ashamed and embarrassed to say that when my mother said ‘all day long you’ll have good luck’, I thought maybe I would win the lottery or a prize holiday somewhere. Looking back at my day I feel blessed and very lucky indeed, after all it’s the little things that count.

I hope you have also had a lovely day, Nicole