Thursday, 11 August 2016

focus and keep aiming



"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it's going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming."

I came across this quote recently and it felt incredibly timely. Yesterday I moved out of my lovely rented flat and back to my parents. Anyone who knows me well will know how long I spent trying to get the necessary money and circumstances together to move out... so to be moving back again has hit me hard. This is no reflection on my parents - they are always incredibly supportive of me and wonderful to live with. What bothered me more was feeling like I was taking a step back, while everyone around me was moving forward. 

The original plan was for me to go with my flatmate to live by the sea. I chose not to. Finding both a job and a person you love is very rare, and I am not ready to leave either. My situation in my childhood home is a temporary one though; I am hoping to move in with another friend soon to spend just a little longer in this area. And then there will be change. 

I will follow the people and passions that light up my life, wherever that may be. I can see my future and it is full of happiness and love... and I'm feeling impatient, like I did in the backseat of the car on family holidays to Cornwall, whining "are we nearly there yet?".

I've done my best to make my room a sanctuary for the time-being though, surrounding myself with positivity and prettiness in the hope of settling my restless thoughts. And now, as I write this, I feel sufficiently settled. Like the arrow, I merely need to focus, and keep aiming. 

Saturday, 9 July 2016

BOB


I'm sure I've mentioned it before on this blog, but my friends are pretty damn talented. So talented in fact that I can't help but shout about it here. The latest creation to come from one of my good friends is BOB.

BOB is a glasses case that doubles up as a device holder and office tidy. As a specs wearer and tech lover myself, I got particularly excited about this! First off, can we take a second to talk about the design of BOB?? From the logo to the case itself, it is smart, chic and minimalist. The fact that is has so many different uses makes it feel incredibly 'now' if that makes sense. As well as being a home for your glasses, it can be used as a device stand and to organise your bits and bobs (whoa, is that where the name BOB came from? If so - genius).

Effectively it is something that can slip into your everyday routine and make it better, without you putting in any extra effort. And isn't that the ultimate aim of products these days?

Anyway, I want one, so have ordered one! The product is on Kickstarter and has already hit it's goal, which means it will be made - yay! But pledges are STILL needed to get more funds so they can make lots of BOBs! If you want one, or want to find out more about the project, take a peek at their Kickstarter page.

For pretty pictures and other fun things, follow BOB on Facebook and Instagram.

The future's bright - the future's BOB.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Story for a song - drive



Today at work I was looking at spreadsheets and stats, so a lot of numbers. As interesting as this is in relation to my job, it makes my brain hurt. When I got home I decided I needed a creative release. I haven't written creatively for a long time, and really want to flex my fiction muscles again. So I searched for creative writing exercises and found a great one - story for a song.

The idea is to take a song and its lyrics, and use this as a starting point for a story. As I found this exercise, I was listening to 'Drive' by Incubus. This is one of my favourite songs anyway, but it has taken on even more meaning after it played at my friend's wedding last weekend. We were all dancing in a circle when the song came on and we were singing the lyrics, which couldn't have been more apt, to each other the whole time.

I took this as a sign that I should write a story based on this song. I noted a few other writing prompts from other sites ('morning' and 'a beautiful place you've visited') so my story takes place on a sunny Costa Rican morning. I wanted to sneak at least one line from the song in there, and I managed it at the end. It's only a mini story, but I like micro-fiction (less is more sometimes). 

The sun was creeping up from the horizon, lightly touching the alloys as it went. Taking a sharp breath in, the morning air was cool and refreshing, - like a drink I hadn’t realised I needed. That’s how I knew today was the day.

I sat in the drivers seat and took a moment to soak in the sunlight and my surroundings. The breaking light was waking up the rainforest, coaxing its usual beautiful song. Setting off on the dirt track I knew exactly where I was headed. The future.

The fear that used to drive me was replaced with a sense of ease, a sense of knowing. I was driving now, and what a drive it was turning into.

I reached a corner overlooking the beach and decided to pull over. The red macaws flew overhead towards the sea, drawing my line of vision along with them. The sea was calm yet determined, crashing over the rocks with careless abandon. At that moment I felt like I was the only person on earth.

Cruising along the coastline I thought about my destination. I didn’t know what it looked like, but I knew that whatever it held for me, I would be there with open arms and open eyes.

Friday, 18 March 2016

30



Thought I would keep up with tradition and write up a birthday blog post (feel free to peruse 28 and 29 when you get a chance) and this one's a biggie - 30! I say it's a biggie, it isn't really. I know it should be some sort of milestone, but it isn't really to me. If you read my 30 things to (not) do before 30 post, you'll know what I mean.

Still, I do love any excuse to reflect on the past year and think about the next one. In my 29 post I suspected the year would be one of exploration and travel - and I'm pleased to report that it most certainly was. 

Kicking off my 29th year in Dubai was a good start. I then went to Budapest in June for good food, lots of dancing and a little too much Palinka. In November I stepped things up a notch and went to Costa Rica to learn how to take better pictures and master a headstand in yoga (well, kind of). This spurt of travelling helped me burst my self-imposed security bubble. I challenged myself. I felt uncomfortable.... and free. It was exactly what I needed, to remind myself who I am and what I really want out of life. 

I also suspected I would be somewhere new when I turned 30 - and I was right. While I'm not particularly far from where I was (about a 5 minute drive in fact), I am no longer at home with the parents. I'm sharing a lovely flat with one of my best buddies, and it's pretty sweet for the time being (we have our sights set on coastal shores...).

So - 30. What's going to happen in this year? Well, so far, it's been all kinds of wonderful. 

I celebrated my birthday with good food, wine and friends (a tried and tested combination). I then celebrated my best friend's upcoming nuptials at her Hen do in London, complete with afternoon tea, a competitive treasure hunt and some light clubbing (with the most expensive vodka in all the land). 

Towards the end of last year I also found myself a pretty wonderful man (thank you Tinder) and last weekend we had our first weekend away together in Brighton, eating sushi, drinking questionable cocktails and people-watching on the pier. 

Finally, this week I was promoted at work - hurray! Like I said, all kinds of wonderful. 

The rest of my 30th year is shaping up to continue the trend with the wedding of the century taking place next weekend (YAY!), friends' 30th birthday celebrations, a new car (I want this one, sorry dad) and perhaps a cheeky beach holiday with the girls.

Yup. Think I'm going to like this decade. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Costa Rica

Loving life (and having my hair chewed by SOTW pup Mellow)

I'm back! OK, I've been back in the country a while - but hey, I'm back to Limbo! As you'll know if you read my last post, I recently went to Costa Rica for two weeks to do a photography and yoga course and... it. Was. Awesome. Every now and then I just get a hankering for an adventure, and this was certainly that.

When I arrived after my very long journey (13 hours, plane change in Madrid, yawn) the first thing I noticed was the smell. The country smelled.... lush. I don't know how else to describe it. It smelt luscious, green and basically how mother earth should smell. It was also very humid, which I welcomed wth open (/sweaty) arms after the cold drizzly weather at home.

I arrived at the school at about 6pm. I was greeted with a coconut to drink, had a quick tour of the school and was shown to my room. I felt so jet-lagged that I was dizzy and genuinely thought my room was swaying, so decided it was probably best to head to bed. Of course then there was the loudest, most intense thunder storm in the world, but I still managed to sleep for a good 12 hours. 

My days at the School of The World went like this: Wake up, shower, eat cereal/breakfast bar, go to photography class, wander around town, find lunch/iced coffee/fruit smoothie, go to photography field trip, take a shitload of photos of incredible things, come back to the room/hang out by the pool, go to yoga, get bitten by all the mozzies, shower again, go out for dinner, drink rum at Swell surf bar, get bitten by some more mozzies, sleep.

It was a routine I quickly adapted to. I also got one free weekend while there and am pleased to say I took full advantage. On Saturday I tagged along with some students to do a canopy zipline tour, so basically was zooming around the rainforest at a great height thinking 'I might die but this is AWESOME'. On Sunday a few of us woke up after 2.5 hours sleep (...that was a fun night!) to visit Manuel Antonio national park. We explored, made friends with naughty monkeys and racoons and swam in the sea - perfection.

Highlights: Listening to Carlos talk about art / The sunset at Playa Blanca / Stepping well and truly out of my comfort zone on the canopy zipline tour / Dinners at the Greenroom / Iced caramel macchiatos / Lunches at the Soda / Seeing parts of Costa Rica you wouldn't normally see on photography trips / Doing my first headstand in yoga (for 10 seconds) / Dancing after too many mojitos / Almost being robbed by a racoon / Thanksgiving with new friends.

I won't lie and say it was all perfect - felt a little like an outsider at the school during the first week. I'm a self-confessed introvert, so chatting to strangers (especially in the big groups we were often in) was difficult. And yeah, during the first couple of days I did wonder whether or not I made the right decision to do this - but as is almost always the case with things like that, it got better. I got to know people gradually in more one-to-one style interactions and by the second week I felt truly at home. 

I would definitely recommend going to School of the World - the staff, the accommodation, atmosphere - all of it was perfect. And the country is just stunning. I can only hope to return one day and see more :) Until then, I'll just look at these pictures...











Friday, 13 November 2015

mindful


Before I went away to Thailand a few years ago my sister gave me some sage advice for when I was out there:

"Every now and then just stop. Take a breath. Look at where you are. Take in the moment and enjoy it."

And I did. When I look back a few moments come to mind that are firmly locked in my memory. One of those moments wasn't even particularly special - we were in the back of a bus on our way to the Tiger Temple, and I stopped, looked around at the scenery and thought to myself 'holy shit, I'm in frickin Thailand!!' and I just felt a huge wave of happiness.

This Sunday I fly out to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks to do yoga, learn how to take better pictures and explore a new country. While I'm out there I'm going to make sure I do this, take in every moment and be mindful as often as possible.

I'm a big believer in the concept of mindfulness in general. Allow me to put on my 'work' hat for a minute... many studies have found mindfulness to be an effective tool for stress, anxiety and depression. 

I've downloaded several apps to try and get in the habit of mindfulness meditation, and while I have never managed to build a habit, I get the gist and use it when I'm feeling anxious or apprehensive.

And the thing is, I will feel apprehensive before I travel. I hate the process of travelling. I know I will be fine when I get to where I'm going, but flying alone, changing planes at Madrid and rocking up to an unfamiliar country where I know no one is a little scary to me. 

So I want to be mindful at this point too. Instead of getting lost in 'what if' thoughts about the future ('what if I get lost and miss my connecting flight?' 'what if no one arrives to pick me up at the airport?') I will take everything one step at a time and focus on the present. I will enjoy having time to read/listen to podcasts on the plane. I will focus on my feelings of excitement. I will breathe and I will be OK.

Then I'll get there, see the sunshine and be mindful again because, holy shit - I'm in frickin Costa Rica!!!!

I won't be blogging while I'm out there, but I will definitely post a picture-heavy blog when I get back... until then, here's to living in the moment :) 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

intuition


When it comes to making decisions, do you listen to your heart or your head? I propose you ignore both and check in with your gut instead. This is where (I think) your intuition lives. 

It's that niggling feeling tugging at you saying, 'something isn't right.' And after you ignore it, it becomes that sinking feeling in the depths of your stomach, shouting at you, exasperated, saying 'seriously dude - WTF?'. 

I've experienced both and even though I've become far better at recognising these sensations as my intuition, I still find myself ignoring them... especially when it comes to relationships and dating. It's only natural. There are a million arguments racing around in your head, ready and waiting to talk you out of listening to your gut. You rationalise (head) or you get caught up in the emotional power of it all (heart). 

For me, I tend to do both. I rationalise a lot. I make excuses and say, 'maybe if I do this differently, it'll work' or 'maybe if we just give it time, things will be better'. I also get blinded by the intimacy, because, let's face it - it's really nice to have that intimacy with someone when you're dating them. You share a part of yourself and make yourself vulnerable. It can be hard to throw that away just because your intuition is poking at you from within.

But the more I've grown (and dated) the more importance I place on these feelings. They haven't steered me wrong yet, in love or my work life. So if you're unsure about something, a relationship, a friendship, a job - whatever - I implore you to take a step back and check in with your gut feeling. Don't think about it with words and questions - just feel.

 A quick Google of 'how to listen to your intuition' came up with the following tips:

Do something creative
Meditate
Journal about it
Ask yourself the question and answer with the first thing that pops into your head

The thing is... it's one thing listening to these feelings and giving yourself a pat on the back saying 'Ahh yeah, nice one intuition - I hear ya', it's an entirely different thing actually acting on it. That takes courage. Hell, it takes 'guts'. And that's the thing I still need to do a little work on.  

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