The power of pumpkins?

Reading over previous posts and having a little more ‘thought time’ than usual, I have realised the last month I have truly been engaging with mindfulness. After my time in America, I felt a little distant from myself, with part of me (pretty much all of me) wishing I was still there. After this realisation, I acknowledged my need for mindfulness, to feel in the moment and start to enjoy the present again.

Yes, you bet I am going to talk about ‘those little things’ again, but seriously focusing on the little things in your life, whatever they may be, has the power to bring you such a grounding feeling.

Feeling more grounded with the world around me, where I am without focusing too much on where I am going or where I have been has changed my mood completely. Of course, it is difficult but it’s the little things that can make a difference.

We all know that physical exercise is good for us but what about mental exercise? Focusing on one thing or time in your day, acknowledging the feel, scent and sound. Okay okay, I know some of you reading will probably look at the photographs of the cute dogs and leave here but bare with me.

During one of my many attempts at mindfulness, a mindfulness teacher asked me to eat one raisin, to close my eyes, feel it, smell it and taste it, noticing the texture and taste, more tasteful than any raisin I had tried before, I began to notice how little we engage with daily activities.

It is unbelievable how much of our lives we miss because we are not mindful, always rushing, looking around and thinking about the past or future. This Sunday to bring more content to your week, try and do something, anything, mindfully.

Oh, and where this post was going before the ramble, it was yesterday afternoon that I realised how grounded I feel, compared to a few weeks back. Mindfulness does not work over night, it takes time but over that time, with consistent practices you will begin to notice the difference, just as I did.

Looking around a pumpkin field, seeing so much colour there could have been a filter, filled with gratitude for my aunty and her doglets. Noticing the crunch of the leaves and even the smell of pumpkin (not the nicest smell I admit), I felt very content with where I was, in the moment.

Not quite the pumpkin picking post I thought would happen but sometimes I just must share these rambles, in the hope that you to have a mindful moment today.

Wishing you well,

Nicole

For more posts on Mindfulness, BeMindful.co.uk

To see more of my walks and rambles follow my Instagram stories

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Mental health in the media.

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness, talk about our mental health, tackle the stigma, reach out or simply do something to better our own mental health.

Unfortunately, this day can be a very different day, it can very easily turn into a day that worsens our mental health and one that feeds into the stigma and misunderstandings around mental health.

I have spoken about mental health in the media before, as have so many others, yet it never seems to be enough as the media continue to use phrases and inappropriate methods of sharing mental health information and personal experiences.

Today sees the launch of Natasha Devon’s Mental Health Media Charter, a campaign which will change the way the media reports on mental health. The power of language, imagery and social media is huge and if done correctly can reduce stigma, raise awareness and educate many generations, ultimately saving lives from mental illnesses.

If you care about the way mental health is reported please follow me, along with many passionate mental health campaigners, as we support the Mental Health Media Charter.

Use the hashtag #MHMediaCharter, follow @MHMediaCharter & @_NatashaDevon along with the other organisations that have already shown their support in backing this wonderful campaign.

I used to feel ashamed of having an eating disorder, even with a diagnosis it was not enough to make me believe I had one. I mean, how could it? I did not look like that person on the television or the one in the newspaper.

Using images of unhealthy bodies, before and after photographs and numbers can lead people to believe they are not sick. Seeing this form of reporting left me feeling unworthy of treatment, reinforcing not only mine but societies misconception that to have an eating disorder a person must be thin.

Using the term ‘Anorexic’ or ‘Bulimic’ instead of explaining how a person experiences an eating disorder, a serious mental illness associates the person as the illness. I have been called ‘an anorexic’ and I cannot put into words how upsetting it is to hear that term, let alone see it in black and white for the whole world to see to.

Being called ‘an Anorexic’ lead me to believe that is all I was and I became very confused, I remember thinking I was anorexia. Looking back, I know better, I know that Anorexia is an illness and that words get thrown around but there really is no excuses. Nobody should feel like this.

I talk about mental health the best I can, yet writing a post on my personal experiences does not come easy. I spend days reading my post over and over again before publishing, making sure nothing I post could be harmful to anybody who maybe reading. If only I could say the same about the media.

How many eating disorder articles, interviews and television shows have you seen that focus on weight, food and harmful behaviours? I have been interviewed myself, asked ‘what food was like during my worst days?’ Something neither I want to relive or be used as a ‘shock factor’ headline, one that could give somebody a ‘she did this, you do this’ thought. Instead we should be focusing on what it feels like, awareness and support.

Four years ago, I was too ashamed and feared talking this way, now if I don’t stop writing this post will turn into an essay. The list of bad examples goes on but hopefully not for long, together let’s end bad mental health reporting.

No matter the size of our publication, the amount of followers we have or our target audience, we must take mental health in the media seriously, we

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must take more care and educate ourselves on the correct ways of reporting.

Please if you do one thing today, read and share the Mental Health Media Charter.

Thank you for reading,

 

Nicole

 

More of my mental health posts,

Mind, Time to Change, Samaritans, MHFA EnglandB-eat. 

Home Comforts.

Looking at my previous posts, I am sure you can tell I have had a touch of those ‘post adventure blues’. It would seem my plan to throw myself into all things work did not work as well as I had hoped and searching for employment is no easy task. It is not all bad though, I have had a few weeks to enjoy some home comforts, or at least try to without comparing everything and anything to New York.

But of course, nothing quite compares to exploring the beginning of autumn with my four legged friends! I have loved returning to jumpers, tights and all the autumnal colours. Nothing beats seeing Archie running in and out of the colourful leaves that are quickly falling. Being mindful of my surroundings and seeing the seasonal fruit appearing on the trees and enjoying that cosy feeling of coming in from a crisp walk.

Speaking of cosy feelings, a few weeks ago I went to visit my great grandmother. We popped into a cosy pub, it was a surprise to see vegan options, and gluten free to! I had the lentil cottage pie and it was a lot nicer than it looks. Don’t you think it is becoming easier and easier to be vegan?

With having to purchase a new car, being unemployed and well, trying to be somewhat independent, I am also feeling the ‘post adventure pinch’, as I am sure I am not the only one? Not that I am complaining, I mean I have been forced into getting creative in my kitchen and with the help from Deliciously Ella, forever browsing her app for inspiration, I have made a couple of lovely and very affordable dishes.

These recipes are very similar and simple to make.

Sweet potato and mixed bean stew, serves three
(two medium sweet potatoes, two tins of mixed beans, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, one vegetable stock cube, a pinch of rosemary, cumin, chilli flakes, ground black pepper and steamed vegetables to serve)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the mixed beans, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
Mix in one crumbled stock cube along with enough boiling water just to cover the beans, put on a low heat and add tomato puree and seasoning, stir well and leave simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in sweet potato and tomatoes and leave on low heat for around 10 minutes, stir well and take of heat, allow to cool.
Once cool use a soup pulse or part blend, as if you were making soup, leaving a few sweet potato chunks and beans whole.
Once ready, for a crispy edge place into ovenproof dishes and cook for 20-30 minutes (or around 4 minutes in the microwave or hob).
I served this with steamed spinach, green peas, broccoli, roasted cashew nuts and nutritional yeast.

Warming green lentil and sweet potato soup, serves two
(one tin of green lentils, two medium sweet potatoes, two servings of sugar snap peas, a handful of cherry tomatoes, one table spoon of tomato puree, a tea spoon of gram masala, a sprinkle of cumin, turmeric, ginger, a pinch of chilli flakes and ground black pepper)

First peel and chop into squares the sweet potatoes, part boil and roast for around 25 minutes.
Half way through, chop tomatoes and add to sweet potato for 10 minutes.
Whilst waiting for the sweet potato and tomatoes, rinse and boil the green lentils, once boiled rinse again and transfer back to pan.
On a low heat add just enough boiling water to cover the lentils, stir in spices and tomato puree before adding the cooked sweet potato, tomatoes and sugar snap peas (cut to own preference).
Stir well and leave simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes.
Pulse or blend, adding water until you achieve your preferred consistency, I enjoy this soup quite chunky.
Enjoy straight away or let cool and reheat later.
I served this soup with some crispy kale and sprinkling of toasted almonds.

Like most of my recipes these can be left to cool and transferred into plastic containers, popped into the fridge or freezer until ready to be served.

There is no free from favourites this month but I have got to mention Rhythm 108’s tea biscuits, found in Aldi but also available online. I do not usually enjoy gluten free biscuits as they often taste like they are trying to be an alternative, non-gluten free biscuit but these are a biscuit in their own right (okay slightly over the top, but you should try them). The lemon and ginger are my favourite and are fitting for this home comforts post.

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Let me know if you try any of these recipes or if you also have any allergy and budget friendly recommendations?

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

All things New York.

Before going to New York, me being me, did all the research I could do, putting together a ‘must do’ list of all the sights I wanted to see, whilst somewhat resisting the urge look up too much, saving myself a few surprises. For weeks, probably even months, all I could think about was exploring the wonderful city that is New York and with so my list became longer and longer.

It only took a couple of weeks in before I started to tick the sights off, with each one I had done getting a green emoji tick (for Americans by ‘tick’ I mean check, thank you for the children who informed me of that one). I did not manage to tick all off my list, which I am surprisingly happy about, as it kind of makes going back all the more exciting, not that it is needed. New York is filled with things to do and see, as you will see from my list.

In no particular order and with a few thoughts and photographs to, here is my list of all things New York.

Central Park,
A little naive I know, but I had no idea how big Central Park would be. There is ever so much to see and it is very easy to get lost, I highly recommend getting a map! Strawberry Fields’ Imagine Mosaic, Alice in Wonderland statue, Balto and Conservatory Water, just to name a few of the sights I saw. There is much more on the list of things to see hidden amongst Central Parks beautiful trees, fields and lakes. My favourite Central Park memory has to be picking up a WholeFoods salad box from Columbus Circle, sitting one of the many rocks and watching the world go by.

American Museum of Natural History,
At the top of all our to do lists, admittedly influenced by Midnight at the Museum, we could not wait to explore the museum, setting out early to beat the que, which surprisingly went down quickly. We decided to do attempt each floor and visit the exhibits to, of course these change but I recommend looking at what is on, this was slightly ambitious considering the size of the museum. Little tip, take snacks and have rests, the museum takes a full day and all that learning is very tiring.

Grand Central,
As said about many NY sights, Grand Central is like walking into a film set, with it being in so many, it is hard not to escape that feeling, almost waiting for somebody to run through and declare their love for another. The building itself is truly beautiful, the celling being my favourite part, the photographs do not do it justice, filled with people, shops and food stops, it is hard to believe it is a train station.

911 Memorial & Museum,
A must see, at first I was a little spectacle about visiting, with worries of how I would be effected by such heart-breaking loss. Yet reminded that no matter what I would feel, how the people who devastatingly experienced this tragic act of cruelness, felt and continued to feel, I decided to go. Of course, each person is different and I would only ever suggest going if it feels right with you. It is hard to explain how the memorial and museum made me feel, I was moved with emotions from sadness to respect. I felt both heart-break and pride for each person involved.

Brooklyn Bridge,
This is one of my favourite spots in New York, walking across the bridge, both day and night, filled me with a feeling of gratitude. I cannot explain why but Brooklyn Bridge made me feel truly there, present. When most my summer felt like a dream, Brooklyn Bridge gave me a feeling of ‘this is real’, ‘you are here’.

Dumbo,
Similar to how I felt in Grand Central, after seeing so many iconic photographs of Dumbo, I was taken back with actually being there. Walking the cobblestoned streets, seeing the bridge caught between side streets and seeing Manhattan from the other side of the bridge, another one of my favourite moments, just watching the world go by. Also, visiting the Brooklyn Flea, filled with all kinds of hidden treasures, if you like antiques and vintage finds I highly suggest popping by one of Brooklyn Flea’s markets.

Hoboken,
Visiting Hoboken, New Jersey was such a lovely day, feeling a lot more relaxed than Manhattan. We spend time wondering boutiques, side streets and cafés, not to forgot visiting Carlo’s Bakery, before stopping off at Pier Park to see the beautiful view of Manhattan. 

Coney Island,
It is hard to believe Coney Island exists amongst the sky scrapers of NYC, yet, there it is. We spent a whole day there, leaving camp early with our backpacks filled, it felt like a childhood beach day. Arriving early, we were able to get a good spot on the sandy beach, enjoying a couple of hours sunbathing before the crowds of people started to come. Spending time exploring the amusement park, pier and traditional gift shops. The colours, smells and sounds each making me feel like I had gone back in time.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
The Met has to be at the top of my recommendations list, if you are an Art lover or not, wondering this beautiful museum is worth a visit. Walking up the iconic steps (if you can you call Gossip Girl iconic), exploring all there is to see and of course going up to the roof to see the view. Again, with exhibits constantly changing I can only suggest looking what is on, for me, my former fashion student was filled with excitement to know Irving Penn was being exhibited. To see his truly beautiful work in person was breath-taking, after years of using his Audrey Hepburn photograph in scrapbooks, research pages, at one point even my wallpaper, I may have shed a small tear. To not be looking at something through a screen but to see it, another one of those ‘this is real’ moments. 

The Modern Art Museum,
If I am completely honest, The Moma did not make me feel the same as The Met did, not being a huge Art fanatic and finding the modern art displayed quite difficult to understand, or even feel much towards it. Do not get me wrong there is some beautiful work here and it is worth going but for me it did not compare to The Met. Although saying that seeing Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night was also unbelievable.

New York Public Library,
With the other sights on this list highly recommended in most blog posts and books, I was surprised to see the public library not, not as much anyway. Encouraged by my love for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, visiting the public library to feel like Holly Golightly was a must. To my surprise the building was beautiful, so elegant and peaceful. The library becomes art itself and there was so much to see I had forgotten all about feeling like Holly Golightly.

Bryant Park,
After visiting the New York Public Library, we popped into Wholefoods for some snacks before stopping at Bryant Park. Surrounded by all kinds of people, all admiring the surroundings of the green amongst the grey, what felt like another hidden natural beauty of New York. One of my favourite (I keep saying that!), spots in the city, imagining where people were going, what had brought them to the park that afternoon, I could have sat here all day.

Times Square,
First visiting Times Square in the morning, my expectations a little disappointed, with its business, bright lights and smoky air, I could not understand the hype behind it. After visiting at night, I began to feel like I was walking through a stage show, the lights felt more glamourous, the street acts more alive and the possibilities endless. Each time after that I felt more energy, from all that makes Times Square, Times Square. Looking back, I think my first perception was due to anxiety, a little tip for people who are hypersensitive, I wore my sunglasses each time I visited and I felt much more at ease.

Movie Theatre,
Visiting an American movie theatre was on all our lists, after seeing so many in the films we could not wait to see the difference. It turns out there really is not much difference, I guess with British cinemas often very Americanised the only huge difference was the snacks!

Tiffany’s,
Again, wanting to feel like Holly Golightly I had hoped to have breakfast whilst gazing into the window of Tiffany’s, this did not quite happen as we ended up walking around, looking at jewellery we could not afford. I spend most of my time watching people who could afford them, both amazed and confused as to why but I guess we are all different and that’s what makes us great. Anyway, I could not believe how welcoming and friendly each of the employees were, expecting to be looked down on. The same for Macy’s and Bloomingdales to.

Chelsea Market,
Recommended by an American friend, Chelsea Market is filled with all things foodie, also spotting a few vegan treasures, I could not resist Pineapple Expresses chocolate soft serve. Go hungry, you will not be disappointed, this place has a very chilled atmosphere with something for everybody. It kind of reminded me of London’s Camden Market, very hipster and another great spot for watching the world around you.

The Highline,
After exploring Chelsea Market, we decided to walk the Highline, watching the sun set over the city. This place is filled with people enjoying the unique spot and admiring the city.

The Statue of Liberty,
Only viewing from the Staten Island ferry, where our camp was, losing count how many times we sailed past. The ferry is free and gives you a perfect view, sometimes closer than others, if you get the ferry just before sunset the view is perfect. 

Governors Island,
Originally going to see the view of Manhattan, not realising how much there was to see and do in Governors Island, we were pleasantly surprised. We spent a whole day wondering the island, looking at the creative spaces, history and enjoying a relaxing walk around the island. There is plenty to see, get involved in and is perfect for families and children to.

Williamsburg,
Visiting Williamsburg with the intention to go thrift shopping, only being turned away by the price tags. Williamsburg was another very hipster place, whole food like places on each corner, a lot of bicycles, dogs, green juices, coffee spots, streets filled with art and shop windows with creative displays. A great place for wondering around, exploring and taking those arty like photographs.

The Flatiron Building,
One of the first sights we saw, filling me with that walking into a film feeling, the building is so iconic, I wish I could have seen this more but with limited time in surrounding are (long story).. Another on my list for my return.

Soho,
A short walk from our hotel, we visited Soho towards the end of our trip. Not a favourite but I enjoyed wondering the pretty streets, fancy shops and being amongst the very fashionable crowds.

Baseball game,
Not knowing a thing about baseball or sport in general, yet I couldn’t visit NY without going to a baseball game, can you tell I have watched a lot of films? We went to see a Mets game, each of us most excited about the foam finger than the actual game. I could not tell you a single rule, or who won but the atmosphere was great!

Roof top bar,
Finding an affordable and not so fancy roof top bar proved rather difficult, until we came across Salvation Taco Rooftop Bar, situated on top of the hotel, Pod 39. Of course, another iconic thing to do in NY, we couldn’t not. Enjoying one of our lasts nights together with a cocktail, before going up to the roof we enjoyed a drink in the lower bar which is filled with creative décor, music and board games, what more could you want? 

A special kind of sky,
As you know, I am a lover of the sky and I put this on my list because I wanted to see a sky so beautiful I would remember it forever, and that I did. Our first night at camp was very stormy, until around nine o’clock, when the storm began to settle, the rain stopped and the sky turned a soft lilac, pink like shade, unlike anything I had ever seen, out of nowhere a rainbow filled the sky, covering the whole of camp. One of my fondest memories.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, have you been to New York? If so, what was your favourite place?

Nicole

For more of my New York photographs see my Instagram.

Seven insights from camp.

Before going to camp, whilst spending hours researching and still debating whether it was a good idea, I would read blog posts about what people had learnt. You know the posts like this, ‘life lessons I learnt at camp’, and although I thought that camp would be an opportunity to learn and grow, I never could have imagined I would experience it on a level like this. Here are seven things (out of the never ending list) I learnt whilst at camp.

Continue reading “Seven insights from camp.”

The light I now see.

If you have been following my journey for a while, you will know how much I love the outdoors, or ‘the little things’ I often talk about, and if you have been following my journey for even longer, you will know that this hasn’t always been the case.

Living with Anorexia, took my love for pretty much everything away. I was lost, withdrawn and the way I saw the world around me became very dark. Throughout my recovery and journey so far, the way I see the world has become lighter and lighter. So much so, I often become filled with gratitude, this is something I hope to share with you all.

Continue reading “The light I now see.”

Trying something new.

Hello,

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have seen me post a link to a video I created on YouTube.  I know this is far from a big deal but it is something I have wanted to do for a while.

I love watching snippets of film from peoples lives, seeing what others enjoy and sharing a little positivity. Of course, I am fully aware that life is not positive all of the time, but non the less for those five, ten or even twenty minutes it is.

I have decided to create a YouTube channel and share with you a little more of my journey. As I said this is something I have been thinking about for a while and attempted many times before but it would seem my perfectionism has held me back. Technology and media do not come naturally to me and I tend to overthink the smallest of details, especially the wrong details. However, putting all that aside, I want to be able to create something, more so than blog posts and Instagram photographs to look back on, to share positivity and who knows a little mindfulness to or wherever my journey takes me next.

I admit I am not the most confident in this but I can try. I always tell others to try something new, that things take time and we continue to learn each and every day. So, a reminder to myself, take your own advice.

Let me know if you have any suggestions or tips and also if you to have a YouTube channel. This is a whole new experience to me and one I am excited to share with you.

I hope you enjoy.

Nicole