Reunited and it feels so good.

You are probably expecting some great story about how I have been reunited with a long lost family member or friend, sorry. This weekend saw me reunited with my sewing machine and I have not been able to stop myself singing this song.. I haven’t sewn in around two years or so but I woke up feeling the need to be creative and since I seem to have lost my paints it was left to sewing.

I started cutting the flags the last time my machine was out so finding them was a good starting point. I first cleaned my machine, I am embarrassed at how dusty it was and I am surprised it still worked. I then wound the bobbin, again, surprised that I remembered how. It took me a lot quicker to thread than I thought it would, I pinned each of the flags together and before I knew it I was already to sew.

I first sewn each of the flags together, leaving one side open, I then pressed them and pressed the ribbon in half. Once pressed I put each flag in between the folded ribbon and pinned at each point, evenly spacing them out along the ribbon, leaving a little ribbon at each end.

I then sewn the ribbon in half and attached the flags whilst of course removing the pins. I am very happy with how the bunting turned out and I enjoyed making it, a lot more than I thought I would, it felt like the perfect rainy Sunday task. I have a lot of sewing projects in mind, one I can not wait to begin and share with you, until then, happy sewing!

Nicole

Brown sugar, banana cake.

I think my father has started to cunningly let the bananas get overripe in the hope that I will feel like baking, luckily for him this morning I did, sadly for me I was all out of gluten-free flour. This is a super quick banana bread/cake, if the difference between a cake and a bread is the shape then this is a cake, if there is no difference this is both a banana bread and a banana cake- that makes sense in my mind. Continue for the recipe.  Continue reading “Brown sugar, banana cake.”

Mindfulness and Me.

‘Mindfulness

ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/

noun

the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”

a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.’ – Oxford Dictionary

I was sitting in one of my weekly appointments with the community eating disorder psychologist when I first heard the term mindfulness. She spoke of it as though it would be my cure all to end all, a magical potion that wasn’t in the form of a pill but instead would require me to attend each appointment, each week and listen to her as she spoke about my thoughts, my feelings and what I have been doing wrong; what was making me ill. Of course this lead to me hating the idea, even the word, there was no way mindfulness would ever help me. To cut a very long and up and down story short, I was right, it didn’t help me, not with that approach and my mind set anyway.

As my journey went on mindfulness came in and out at various moments. I remember being in a weekly ‘anxiety management’ group session, the word mindfulness coming up again, myself, still in disbelieve it could ever be helpful. This time the mindfulness was brought up at the end of the session- after we had openly spoke about our anxieties and talked about positive thoughts. The mindfulness part of the session involving listening to a CD, birds tweeting, water running and a voice over body scan (a voice going through each part of the body, focusing on feelings, being aware of each body part and sensation)- not ideal for someone who at the time had an awful lot of psychological thoughts about their body. I remember leaving feeling very uncomfortable, the session reinforcing my already negative beliefs of mindfulness. Where was the calmness and the magical potion?

I then went through a course of cognitive behavioural therapy with a different psychologist, I can not put into words how much this helped- nor how grateful I am. Soon after I left treatment and began to get on with my life, still on a journey, still recovering. My appointments became once every four weeks and before I knew it mindfulness was making an appearance again, this time speaking about what it meant, what it was and how it could help with the way I saw myself- learning to accept me and all that I was, all that I am. I slowly became to enjoy learning about it. I began to read about it, I downloaded an app and I started to meditate, focusing on my breathing and brining myself to the present moment. I stuck to this for a while, until my life became faster and I began to enjoy the feeling of living both high and low- I enjoyed feeling, after so long of being ‘numb’.

The highs and lows became more frequent, the lows leading me to memories of being ill. I accepted the lows would be apart of my life after all, I had been through a truly horrible time. A smell, a song and even a couple of words would take me back to that time- a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, my mind filled with memories, fears and anxieties. They didn’t happen everyday and I was able to manage them with distractions, still accepting they would be there forever.

As I moved on again, becoming healthier and happier, mindfulness made an appearance again. This time as apart of my studies, an opportunity to sit in on an eight-week mindfulness course, I didn’t know what to expect but I was very open-minded. I never thought I would see results in myself, only those who were on the course. The group leader spoke about mindfulness not as a magic potion but as something that required hard work and commitment. I learnt that “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally”- Jon Kabat-Zinn.

I have been a planner for as long as I can remember and although this has it’s good points I often find myself thinking about what I am doing later, tomorrow, next week and even next year. I often miss the present moment, the little things. This course has taught me to be aware of the now and how that can truly enrich my life. As for my lows and bad memories- they have disappeared. At first I didn’t not know how this had happened but now reflectively looking at it, I can see that now when I hear that song or smell that smell I accept it for what it is now- in the present moment- not what it was, nor what it reminds me of. I have made a decision to change my thought process, choosing to focus my awareness on the now, being aware and accepting of my current thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations- in a non-judgemental way, they are what they are.

I continue to learn and practice mindfulness and meditation each day, I also continue to see the benefits of making this choice; a conscious choice I make for myself. I hope mindfulness makes an appearance in your journey, be open-minded, work at it, be non-judgemental, accepting and patient. It has taken me over three years to get here but I could not be happier that I have got here. Each day my mind becomes more peaceful and I become more accepting.

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

Calm, Mind on Mindfulness, Be Mindful

Syd & Archie’s favourites.

Having a nine year old labrador (Syd) and a one year old labrador cross greyhound (Archie) comes with it’s difficulties, don’t get me wrong, they are both lovely dogs however, knowing what they like can come in handy.. This is also known as bribing your dogs for five minutes peace. Here are Syd and Archie’s favourite things that keep them happy and of course quiet to.  Continue reading “Syd & Archie’s favourites.”

The world is my oyster.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel the world. Growing up I have been extremely lucky with a family who share my need to travel and as a family we have visited some pretty beautiful places. As you know I am an explorer at heart and enjoy nothing more than a new adventure. The thought alone of jumping on a plane and visiting another country fills me with so much excitement, so much so I am beginning to worry that writing this post might be too much excitement to cope with.

A couple of years ago whilst I was sick, traveling was one of my biggest motivations, it was a dream and one I needed to be healthy for. Here I am, healthy, yet traveling still seems like a dream however, unlike before it is now a dream I know will come true, just not as soon as I would like it to. I guess it is slowly happening, with last years trips and visiting Paris in a few weeks but and you can call me greedy, I want to travel the world. I know what you are thinking the world is an awfully big place, right? Here I have picked a few destinations that are at the moment (my destinations are forever changing) at the top of my list. Continue reading “The world is my oyster.”

A bridge, a train and a heard of cows.

It has been another beautiful day here in North Wales and of course I have been out exploring again. This morning my auntie and I visited one of my all time favourite places, Llangollen, we walked along the Chain Bridge and the Horseshoe Falls. At the other side of the bridge there is a train station and I could not help feel as though I was in a vintage postcard or a doll in a toy village, everything seemed so still and forgotten about. It was peaceful and calm.

A trail and some bridges later, we sat next to the river, under a big tree and ate our packed lunch, it was truly lovely. I love eating with a view, it is oh so relaxing, well, it was relaxing until half way through eating a heard of cows came from behind the tree trotting quickly towards us, I did not know whether to laugh, run or scream. Do not get me wrong, I love cows however, when a heard is coming straight at you it is a little scary. I practically through my lunch into my backpack and ran towards the river, which is exactly where the cows were headed. Once the cows got into the river there was no moving them, we were safe to carry on eating our lunch whilst watching the cows happily drink from the river.

After lunch we packed up our bags and carried on walking, we walked up to a little church, this is also one of my favourites. I am not religious but I do love churches, they are just so peaceful and I have seen some pretty beautiful ones to. In the church was a prayer tree, you can just about see it in the right corner of the photograph, next to the tree were tags you could write a prayer on and hang it on the tree. My auntie and I both wrote a prayer and left a donation for the church. Finding little things like this make me happy, in a world were we have more technology than ever before, things like this are still out there and that, although small, makes me happy. Nicole 

A Sunday Morning Wonder.

My sister has recently moved house and near by are some woods that need to be explored, this morning was the perfect morning for just that. Do you ever walk somewhere near, somewhere that has always been there and think to yourself ‘why have I never been here before?’or ‘why have I never seen that before?’, I find myself asking these questions more and more recently.

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Maybe it is because I am exploring new places or because I am noticing the world more, either way I feel extremely grateful that I am seeing and appreciating all this natural beauty, Archie is grateful to! As much as Archie loves to run through the long grass, he gets very hot, very quickly so we decided to walk through the woods, taking shade under the trees. The woods were filled with huge rocks and tall trees with bright green leaves, I felt like we were in an adventure film. The woods seemed to go on and on so I am sure there is plenty more exploring to be done!