A Few Thoughts on Reflection.

As you know I am a firm believer in mindfulness and the feeling of being present, with my thoughts neither in the past nor in the future, yet I also like to reflect. I like to look back on the past, whether it be through old photographs, memorising with friends and family or even looking back alone, taking a few moments to remember previous times, even the difficult ones.

I think there is a huge difference in consciously taking time to do so and it coming over you out of the blue. Consciously reflecting in a positive light, perhaps not a positive time to look back on but one that serves purpose in remembering and one that benefits your present thoughts and feelings.

During the last couple of weeks, I have noticed myself doing this, from big reflections to small ones, each time bringing a feeling of gratitude to my present.

Last year, my friend and I, began a new tradition, to start pumpkin picking with my Godson. As tradition (one year counts!) the three of us got our wheel barrow and off we went. Reflecting on how my Godson acted last year, running around a field with orange circles to now, with his quickly growing curiosity, I was truly amazed. Within one year he has changed so much, choosing all the different pumpkins, counting each one, noticing colours, shades and textures to. I felt truly grateful to have seen this change, his ever-growing smile and even louder giggle.

Another reflection being a little deeper, as some of you may know I left my first university over five years ago now, due to being ill with my mental health. This decision did not come easy and I felt huge amounts of pressure from both myself and society, you know the ‘must do, correct way of doing things pathway’. Without diving into the whole five years, it has been a long and up and down journey but one that has taught me more than I can ever express.

As I wrote on my Instagram post, I know that education is not for everybody, we all have different paths to take and that is wonderful. It allows us to make our own journey and mark on this world a unique one. For years, I felt too ashamed to think about why I left university, let alone speak about it the way I do now. I felt like having a mental illness during such an important time of my life made me weak, little did I know that putting my health first, demonstrated my strengths.

It is important for me to look back and remember the thoughts and feelings I had, they drive what I do now. They motivate me to support others who feel this way. You are not alone.

For a long time, I associated a lot of the thoughts and feelings I had with my first year of university, it often being too difficult to look beyond that part of my life. This developed into a huge fear of education. With the mind set I would never return to study. Of course, as I ‘dug deeper’, let people in who could help and really worked on myself, overtime I began to feel at peace with my past. Seeing the time as a time to learn and grow from, knowing that regardless of where I physically was, the thoughts and feelings were already there.

With this peace and my increasingly growing passion to help others and learn to, I returned to university and I am truly grateful that I did. Being completely honest, I did not reflect upon this until yesterday, during graduation. I know it is just one of those traditional days to celebrate, but it gave me a chance to reflect, leaving me feeling proud, inspired and of course grateful for my present.

I spent the rest of my day with family, in the present moment and feeling gratitude for each of them and all around me, the venture I am about to take and the path that has guided me here – not the most conventional path but what does that really matter?

It would not be a ramble without some sort of quote so in the words of J.K.Rowling- ‘Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve’.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your lovely messages,

Nicole

More of my mental health posts. 

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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.”

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 

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

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 

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?