A touch of frost.

I was far from happy to see the car was frozen over this morning, as I planned for our usual walk, but with this walk just a five minutes away and no need to drive, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

A route my mother and I only seem to take if the weather is somewhat warm, unlike today. I am pretty sure this is the coldest it has been all year but with our many layers on, fast walking pace and the sun brightly shinning down we managed the whole walk without stoping for a cup of tea.

Looking through Instagram it seems we are not the only ones who enjoyed this crisp, cold and frosty morning, I couldn’t help share with you some of my walk.

It was a lovely mix of countryside, seeing the farms, lakes and horses and of course some off-lead time for Archie to, he loves running around, jumping everywhere, he is kind of like a kangaroo, the way he pounces up and down. With also some road walking to, not as fun for Archie but it is nice to see pretty cottages and others who are out walking.

After over an hour and a half walking it was definitely time to retreat home, nearing the end my hands, legs and nose to became very cold and a bath is all I could think about, complete with a Lush bubble bar and bath bomb, the perfect way to end the morning and set me up for an almost productive day.

Wishing you a lovely day,

Nicole 

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A peaceful Christmas.

Hello all, I hope you have enjoyed Christmas time and are all well.

I write this post as a reminder to myself that looking after my mental health during this time of year is really rather important, a kind of follow up from my ‘A Healthier Christmas’ post.

Being completely honest my promises to myself were a little slack and keeping on top of meditation and mindfulness during this time was much harder than I had originally thought. I had a couple of moments of anxiety but I rationalised my thoughts and feelings and made a conscious choice to bring myself to the present moment.

Unlike past Christmas days, I kept well and I really enjoyed my day because of this, here are a few photographs to share with you. Beginning with Christmas Eve, I of course completed my Moo Free  advent calendar, I think I shall be opting for the same calendar next year to! I then wrapped some last minute presents including my fathers gifts for my mother (I just love to wrap!), visited my grandfather and helped my mother prepare some of the Christmas lunch, I then cuddled up with the boys and watched film after film, what better way to spend the night before Christmas?

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Christmas morning was very relaxed, my family and I exchanged presents and awaited more family to arrive before having lunch. Of course there were many gluten-fee, vegan options including, a cranberry and cashew nut rose, rosemary and red onion sausages, seasoned roasted brussel sprouts and new potatoes, roast potatoes, red cabbage, peas and carrots, a vegan feast pictured before my second plate and a covering of tomato sauce and chilli flakes (it’s good to think outside the box, right?) Speaking of all things vegan my parents bought me this truly beautiful tin and filled it will all kinds of vegan chocolates.

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Vegan Christmas dinner aside, my day was filled with family, laughter and a great feeling of gratefulness, I am truly blessed and very lucky to have such wonderful people (and dogs to) around me.

 

As tradition on Boxing Day my parents, Archie and I enjoyed a beautiful walk, in one of my favourites, Llangollen. We were blessed with blue skies and bright sunshine. It was also so lovely to see other people out walking and enjoying the morning.

After our walk my father and I had to drive over an hour to pick up my MacBook. During this drive, whilst sky gazing yet again, I was reminded of those not so peaceful times, my aunt used to take me out for drives to try and clear my mind and I couldn’t help feel such gratitude to be where I am today, to be healthy, happy and at peace with myself. For those who may be reading this who are where I once was please have hope, I promise it is possible.

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A short post but one I hope you have enjoyed reading, I always love to hear other peoples Christmas traditions, and I couldn’t resist a little vegan ramble, what with ‘veganuary’ approaching.

Wishing you well,

Nicole

A few days in December.

The last couple of weeks have been much busier than expected and I do apologise for the lack of festive posts, and to think I was going to attempt blogmas! Although busy and at times quite hectic I have managed to say somewhat calm and mindful to. My business has been filled with plans for the new year, all very exciting and hard work to but with balance in mind I have found time to enjoy with my loved ones and for me that’s what this time of year is all about.

Here are a few December photographs I would like to share with you, of course, if you follow my Instagram you will have seen my adorable Syd and Archie all wrapped up and looking cosy. This day was filled with putting the Christmas decorations up, listening to festive songs, wrapping presents and my mother and I even enjoyed some roasted chestnuts (my favourite).

Another lovely day was spent visiting my Aunty (kind of like my great grandmother), I feel like I have spoken about her many times before and well, she is a truly inspiring woman. The fact that she has lost her sight and is still baking Christmas cakes from scratch just shows you how wonderful she is. I always enjoy visiting her and leave feeling not only grateful but also inspired, she reminds me never to give up. On returning home my family and I all watched Hairspray live and it was just a lovely evening, nothing special but all together.

Throughout December I have also enjoyed some beautiful winter walks, although too cold to take my gloves of to take any photographs, each walk has been filled with bright, colourful skies and twinkly lights. One of my favourite things about dark, winter walks is walking past homes, seeing the warm glow from the windows, I imagine families to be all cosy, winding down for the evening and I know it probably sounds silly but it gives me a feeling of peace.

This month I finally met up with my friend Jessica, we ‘met’ over four years ago, and have not only been on very similar journeys but we are also kind of scarily similar. Meeting up in London was truly wonderful and we did so much, catching the tube here there and everywhere, seeing all the hustle and bustle of London life and enjoying a much different kind of beauty, the high buildings, the different smells (not all beautiful I must admit) and of course the sparkly Christmas lights.

I also got to visit The Mae Deli (sorry Liv), it was not what I expected at all, like a touch of home amongst the city business, it gave me a similar feeling to my winter walks, only I was the one escaping into a warm, cosy home. I enjoyed one of the Mae bowls, filled with four festive dishes, now I realise none of my attempts and Deliciously Ella’s recipes will ever be as good as the real thing. It was very strange to have more vegan, gluten free dishes than not, I guess either I will have to visit London again or hope for another deli opening up North.

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For more on my time in London please read my ‘More than a training day’ post, also it never fails to surprise me in how easy it is to be vegan and gluten-free in cities. Whilst in Pret a Manger, enjoying my breakfast of their new five grain porridge (I highly recommend, does anybody know how to make this at home?), I noticed the amount of people ordering soy coffees, compared to when in coffee shops up North. Also, how easy it seemed to have an allergen friendly lunch, instead of the usual ‘ooo that must be so hard’ response.

As for this week, I shall be hopefully spending more time with my loved ones and enjoy a couple of days to relax before the beginning of all the exciting adventures this new year will bring. Just in case I do not write before, I wish you all a truly wonderful Christmas, be kind to yourself and others.

Nicole

More than a training day.

Writing a testimony about something I feel most passionate about is really rather hard and without the wonderful support and inspiration from the staff and other champions at Time to Change I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

As I deliver my testimony and share my experiences of mental health I hope to change people’s perspectives, raise awareness and understanding. I want people to be more open and honest about mental health, as I wished I had been many years ago.

Sharing part of my journey is just that, a part of it, ten minutes of what I hope can make a difference for someone.

As for my journey, it continues and each and every day I learn more about myself, I change and grow in ways I never could have imagined.

Even at the testimony training I learnt there are parts of my journey I am still not ready to share and that is okay. I learnt that I am now more self-accepting than ever before, with the ability to put my health first. I learnt that I am able to be proud of myself for things I once saw as weaknesses and I pride myself on my ability to feel, my ability to cry and on being the self-aware person I now am.

Before this week, I saw myself as an open book, that I had shared my journey so many times it would no longer faze me, I was wrong. Deep within the cracks, there it still is, a feeling too raw for me to discuss. A former self would have pushed and pushed but now I have this great feeling of self-compassion to accept and acknowledge my feelings with kindness (I think I have mindfulness to thank for this).

You see, I am constantly learning more about myself, about the person I have become and continue to be. Sure, there are still parts of my journey that I am not yet ready to share however, I accept this without judgement and I treat myself with loving kindness, for that I am truly grateful for.

I look forward to sharing my testimony and watching it change and grow as I do.

I would also just like to say a huge thank you for all who have allowed me time and encouragement to change and grow in this way, to those who have taught me mindfulness, self-awareness, acceptance and compassion.

Thank you for reading,

Nicole

Read more about my mindfulness journey.

The 1st of December.

The magic of December is finally upon us and with a gentle reminder that this month is not a month for pressure nor stress, I have come up with an idea for advent, to reflect on each day with: an act of kindness for myself and another, something I am proud of and something I am grateful for. No matter how small, looking at these four things at the end of my day, as a way to be reminded that there is more to Christmas than the hustle and bustle that can often overwhelm us.

First, my act of self kindness, this has to be my breakfast, okay I know, I might be cheating slightly as I have a good bowl of porridge every morning however, today I took a little more time than I usually would and allowed myself time to enjoy it. Also the addition of a cup of Christmas coffee along with my  moo-free advent calendar chocolate gave it that extra bit of kindness. There is just something about advent calendars and breakfasts in pyjamas that make me feel all cosy.

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My act of kindness has been harder than I thought it would be, which being completely honest saddens me a little. Maybe I am unsure what an ‘act of kindness’ really means, or how small it can be. I mean, does taking my dogs walking count? Or making my father a cup of tea? Perhaps the raffle tickets I sold? I think this one needs some work.

Something  I am proud of, after a few months without running, this week I have got back to it. I have only been on two very short runs/walks but I am very proud of myself for allowing myself time for me and I am so happy I have. I am not only proud of myself for starting again but also for not pushing myself too far too soon, small steps. Ps, I did not start that fire, I simply stumbled upon it and stood there for a little warmth.

As always I am grateful for the sky and I apologise these photographs were taken last week and yesterday, I was in the woods whilst the sun set this evening but of course I feel very grateful I have been able to see such beautiful skies and grateful I am surrounded by such beauty. I could go on with a whole list of what I feel grateful for but today I choose the sky, the colours and the beauty that surrounds me (that counts as one, right?)

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I hope you have had a lovely day,

Nicole