Tag Archives: happy

Leaving Melbourne – back to life and back to blogging | Australia

imageToday marks the start of a brand new adventure. Yesterday, I sat in my apartment attempting to squeeze my life into my backpack and felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice about to jump. Oh god how I’ve missed that feeling. I’ve missed the feeling of freedom and excitement at picking up and starting again somewhere new and different. I’ve been back in Melbourne for five months after living here for five months last year – don’t get me wrong, Melbourne has turned into a home from home for me and remains one of my absolute favourite places in the world. But when you know it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Living in the city, both times, has been a real challenge with surreal highs and some crazy lows that have left me questioning everything. Every time I come here, I seem to end up in jobs that push me to the very end of my tether and while I’ve loved my cocktail waitress gig and have had an amazing time working on a rooftop bar all summer – I am more than ready to move on and get back to traveller life. This last few months have been both amazing and exhausting – I’ve worked too much in my goal to save as much money as possible and I’ve had to sacrifice my writing due to lack of time and routine. But at the same time, I’ve made some amazing new friends and I’ve had some pretty special adventures in this city and beyond. I don’t regret a single second of it, but I know that out there a healthier and happier life is waiting for me, so I think it’s about time I went and found it.

This past week has been a flurry of goodbyes and leaving drinks, after living here for a total of ten months I’ve picked up a pretty special crowd along the way. I want to say a huge thank you to every single person, who no matter how short a time we spent together, really made my Melbourne experience. Now I plan to finish my time here with a bang, tonight I’m heading to a pretty incredible house I’ve rented with my friends for a joint-birthday celebration along Great Ocean Road. We’ll be spending the weekend there and, just as it should be, I’ll be finishing my time in Melbourne with the people who mean the most to me. Follow me on Instagram and check out my InstaStories for all the live updates.image

So what’s next for Absolutely Lucy?

On Monday I’ll be flying to Adelaide, where I’ll be catching up with an old friend and checking out the city for a week. I’m definitely going to need a chilled week after this hectic last few weeks in Melbourne! Then I’m heading to Perth, where I’m hoping to find some road trip buddies to start heading up the West Coast with – it’s been a dream trip for a long time and I’m so excited to be on the road again. I can’t wait for the sunshine and beaches after this last week of rain in Melbourne, get me tanned, fit and healthy again. I’ve slipped into so many bad habits lately, not sleeping enough, barely eating and drinking way too much – hospo life has definitely got the better of me – so now I’m looking forward to taking care of myself for a while.

I’m excited to get back to blogging and to be able to focus on my passion for a while instead of working the same repetitive job and having the same conversations over and over again. Being a waitress in the bar was fun but I’m so much more than that and I can’t wait to pursue the things I really love, to have the time and the energy to be creative again. I’ll miss my big city life, my cute little apartment all to myself with a gym downstairs, my local coffee shop and bars where the staff remember my orders, my work crew and how much they cared about each other. I’ll miss the families I found in my neighbours, my work crew and my besties I’ve met all over Australia. Melbourne is an incredible city but it is always the people who make the place and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing characters who I already can’t wait to see again. Next week I’ll have lots more to share with you all – trust me I have a lot of adventures to catch you all up on! But for now Melbourne, over and out.16683867_10154214948757617_1195632386496349610_n

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Lifestyle | How to become your most productive self and get shit done

IMG_2181Do you ever have that feeling that no matter how hard you work to cram everything in, you’re always running out of time? That ticking clock in the back of your mind is your worst enemy when it comes to getting shit done and can demotivate us in seconds. How often have you felt psyched up for the day, then you’ve seen your mounting to-do list, saw time ticking away from you and just figured “I don’t even know where to start so I’m gonna sit down, have a cup of tea and a biscuit.” We’ve all been there but it’s so easy when you’re travelling full time or working flat out to let the basic life admin slide. By life admin, I’m talking about all those basic things like cooking, cleaning, washing – all the things that make your house feel like a home you want to return to at the end of the day, the things that make you feel like you’re looking after yourself. These are so much more important than you think because looking after yourself is the first step – forget to do this and your motivation for achieving anything else will quickly drip away.IMG_2280For those who are working flat out but feel they are so overwhelmed with their workload that they lose any drive to get things done – this is the perfect time to change your outlook. I remember when I used to let work get on top of me – I’ll fully admit I still do at times because I’ll always be a workaholic who can’t say no to working more hours. But the difference is I’m able to recognise when life is getting on top of me and I make sure I take a step back and give myself the time to recuperate and relax before I tackle my to-do list, that way I know when I do sit down to work, I’m doing the best job I can possibly do. Because if you ask me, if you don’t give a job 100+% there is pretty much no point doing it at all. So this post is about sharpening your focus and making sure that the time you spend working is super productive so that you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying yourself.IMG_2273

Here are my top tips for boosting productivity:

  1. Figure out your time schedule and how much time you want to dedicate to working/living – figuring out what work/life balance you want to achieve is important because then it is your decision and you’re not just going along with what is expected of you. It’s okay to set your own boundaries and to refuse extra work if you don’t feel like you can cope.
  2. Make a list and prioritise according to your life plan, no-one else’s. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we “should” be doing instead of what we actually want to be doing. Your boss’ priorities might involve you working 60 hour weeks for no extra pay and no rewards, but if that’s not in your life plan then why should you? Likewise, your partner’s life plan might involve you sacrificing your passions to spend all your free time with them, but again, that’s just not fair and you might not want to do that.
  3. Work through your list item by item – don’t try and tackle several things at once, you’ll still get them done but you’ll only have worked half as hard on them so the quality of your work will suffer. Better to use all your focus on one thing at a time and then you will maintain a good standard of work and get the satisfaction of ticking them off your list one by one.
  4. Get the boring shit done quickly and then reap the benefits. My favourite time to clean/cook/wash is always either when I’ve just got back from work at 2am or as soon as I wake up – the feeling of finishing and being able to get on with my day or to sleep peacefully is the best. Plus then I’m super motivated to get on with the rest of the day.
  5. Plan in getaways when you’ve been working too much and feel like the walls are closing in, getting out into nature can heal all stresses and anxiety. I recently went away camping for the weekend with friends to a national park and it did us all the world of good to get away. I came back feeling fresh and ready to take on the world.
  6. Look after yourself – drink water, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep – you’re useless otherwise. This is easily forgotten but should always be your number one priority. I often am working too hard to bother taking a break and forget to drink enough water in the heat – it leaves me feeling ill and burnt out. If you don’t look after yourself, no-one else will do it for you and you only have one body, so take care of it.
  7. When you have to work, create the perfect environment in the office or at home. Think about your workspace and don’t just work from bed, find a desk or table with a open windows for fresh air, good light and a comfortable seat. Good motivation includes picking a great Spotify playlist – I’ve just discovered the Focus ones which are great for working to – and great snacks as a reward for making progress.
  8. When you’re lacking focus, exercise. Go for a run or do a HIIT class, it will clear your mind and release stress ready for when you start work again. This is one of my favourite ways to start the day after cleaning and cooking, an exercise class is a great way to give yourself energy and refresh before hitting your to-do list.
  9. Be honest with yourself about what is achievable and if you’ve been given an unrealistic workload don’t be afraid to delegate or say no – recognising your limits is good management of yourself and others.
  10. Have a hobby – when you’re relaxing and having time off from work, it’s good for you to have a passion to escape into. It’s so easy to get caught in that cycle of going out, getting drunk and being hungover on your days off. Reading, writing, painting or creating something – creative passions ignite a whole different side of our brain and give us a real release. Why else do you think I’ve kept this blog going for so long?
  11. Take time completely alone – it can be hard when so many people are demanding a share of your precious time. You’re surrounded by people all day long and outside of work your friends and family need you, but what about what you need? It’s important to take time alone to grow and develop as a person.

IMG_2193And most importantly? Don’t see failure as this big dark cloud hanging over your head all the time. It’s okay if you can’t do everything – we are not machines and we should never feel like failures for not being able to squeeze everything in. I should never feel like I have to apologise for being a 26-year-old who travels solo full time, works 45 hours a week at one job, works as a freelance journalist and travel blogger, who manages to keep her apartment clean, tidy, cook great meals from scratch but sometimes doesn’t manage to FaceTime her friends and family at home as much because of the time difference. Yes I’m failing big time in that respect at the moment and it makes me feel very guilty when I don’t know what is happening in all my loved ones lives because we are on other sides of the planet. But I’m working my ass off over here and getting shit done, and they understand that. Sometimes we go through phases where we have to sacrifice something in order to achieve other great things, and that’s okay. That’s not failure.IMG_2188

What are your top tips for being your most productive self? Do you ever feel like you’re failing because of the sacrifices you have to make?

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The Decision: Travel or Love?

love mapAs you read this, my travels will have already started and I thought it was important to write this post and share what has probably been the hardest part of my decision to leave. The first thing everyone has asked me upon finding out I was going travelling was “are you going with your boyfriend?”. When I replied no on each occasion, I saw the same surprised blank faces in front of me – particularly when I announced I was going it alone. I’m not sure why it is such a shock to people as I’ve always been quite an independent person – but clearly it seems quite odd to a lot of people that we would be able to go without each other for any length of time. To paint a picture for those who don’t know us, me and Wolfy have been together for well over eight years. We’ve survived all sorts, including me moving away for university for three years, and defied all those who said we’d never last or that we weren’t suited – amazingly there were a lot of people who felt that way. But we made it this far and we seem to be doing better than okay. So I can totally understand why people think “they love each other, therefore they must not be able to live without each other”.

Relationships always face difficulties at some point – a hurdle that pops up out of nowhere, whether a problem between the two of you, or interference from outside sources. But when you’ve been together as long as we have, and from as young an age, sometimes the problems that crop up are actually just dreams that pull you in opposite directions. We’ve all got dreams, big ideas and hopes for the things we want to achieve, see and do – but what happens when they clash with those of the one we love? Well we’re faced with a big decision about what to do. This is actually something that’s been playing on my mind a lot lately because I have a few friends who, although in slightly different situations, have struggled with similarly big decisions. I guess it is a common theme in our twenties that we will be faced with big choices over our relationships – our teens are the easy time, although they may not feel like it, when nothing really tests us other than ourselves. Even the separation of university is something that can be easy to live with because to an extent we still have a choice over distance and whether we want to go the distance. But by the time we hit our twenties, we are looking at careers, new homes, marriage and babies in some cases, and travel. There are so many more factors that will affects our relationships and we will be forced into difficult decisions.markI’m not the only one who has found this, I actually know several people who have found lately that they have had to choose one aspect of their life over another. One friend has chosen to move two-and-a-half hours away from all of her friends and family, leaving behind a job she had worked her way up to, in order to follow her boyfriend. He was moving to a much better job and she had to take a pay cut in order to be with him, but for her the decision was the right one for her because she loves him and wants to be with him. Now they are able to live together, instead of breaking up or living hours apart. A couple I know came to an end after the subject of travel was broached, they had been together for years but he didn’t want to travel and she passionately did – so they finished and she started planning her trip. I know of another couple who broke up because the guy wanted to settle down together, with big plans for marriage and babies, but she wanted to keep her freedom and to work on her career first, so they broke up and moved on. What do all of these couples have in common? They’re all in their twenties and their lives are ever changing and evolving – sometimes couples are on different wavelengths and that can mean different directions.

For me and Wolfy, I know that we are on the same wavelength but that after eight-and-a-half years we are being pulled in different directions. For me, I’m in a job that I just can’t do any longer and I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to experience something new. It was a choice between moving away for work or travelling, and that decision was a simple one for me. For Wolfy, he regrets not putting in the time and effort for his studies and has realised he needs a change of career, so for him, the move is to retake his A-levels and go to university. The timing for us isn’t great and we don’t want to be apart, but we also both realise that we have to follow our individual dreams in order to be happy together. Neither of us should have to put our individual dreams on hold at this age, surely we will only end up resenting each other if we try? I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – because I know it won’t be. Saying goodbye earlier this week was the hardest thing I have ever done. But for us, this isn’t a break up, more like hitting pause on things until we can resume play. We hope that it will be just six months until we are reunited in Australia – that might be naive on our part, or it might be a mature decision that works out really well. Either way, all we can do is hope that things work out for us. I’ve always believed that everything happens for a reason – I’m not always sure what that reason is but I know that it will all work out in the end. And I’m treating this just like that – it doesn’t mean being separated is any easier, but it does mean we can hope that if we are meant to be together that it will work out.sgp 4

I’d love to hear your stories of when you’ve been forced to choose between love and your career, or family, or even travel, like I have. Did it work out for you? Or do you still regret the one that got away?

Ab Lucy sign off

Happy New Year!

new year 2Just a quick post today to share with you guys how I spent my New Year’s Eve – as you can imagine I’m completely up to my eyeballs in packing, organising paperwork and trying to find everything I need for the next year – yikes! So this post is just a little one to mark another Happy New Year spent with the boys – my last one for a while. We’ve been having a New Year’s party together for years now so it will be strange to spend the next one away from them all. But we made sure this was a good one – me and Wolf whipped up some Mexican food and supplied the tequila – the boys brought the fun. We had a great night, all rounded off with some very bad dancing. Hope everyone else’s New Year celebrations were as much fun.new year 5new year 4new year 3new year 1new year 7new year 8Of course there was talk of what our New Year’s resolutions might be, but we all agreed there is very little point in making a resolution when we’re all happy the way we are. Also – I certainly don’t want to come back from travelling to find out they have all changed! All this New Year New Me rubbish… I think we’re all getting a bit old for that – if we really wanted to make a change, we would just do it and there would be no reason to wait for the New Year. I made my change months ago and next week it will finally begin! Bring it on! I hope that however you spent your New Year, that it was full of family and friends, and plans for the future. Whatever 2015 has in store for you, make it a big year!

How did you celebrate New Year? What have you got planned for 2015?

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Mind full or Mindful? How you can regain control of your life

sunset 2As you guys will have gathered from my posts, I’m a pretty busy person. I work two jobs now, but it was four not long ago, and I have been constantly busy either at car boot sales, with friends and family, blogging and planning my travels along with anything else I can cram in. Ever since booking my flights, I feel like time is running out faster and faster, and yet I still have so much to do – so much to prepare for travelling, and so many people to spend time with before I go. I’m not quite at panic mode yet, but I’m definitely feeling the effects of going full pelt all the time. Luckily, I’m quite good with managing my time, and I am Little Miss Organised, to the extent that my friends call me “Monica Gellar” from Friends. But that doesn’t take away the fact that you are constantly on the go with no real time to spend reflecting and unwinding. I guess I’ve kind of postponed that until next year when I know I will have a lot of time on my hands to relax.

At least, I had postponed it until a blogger friend of mine sent me some details about an NHS Wellbeing Service that works in the area and is holding a series of free taster workshops for those who are busy and stressed out, and are in need of time to unwind. Well it sounded perfect for me and knowing how many others are, like me, in a situation where they have to give 150% every single day with no let up, I thought it only right to share these Mindfulness workshops with you guys. So what is Mindfulness all about? And how will it help us to feel more in control of our life?

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment by using meditation, yoga and breathing techniques.

It involves consciously bringing awareness to our thoughts and feelings, without making judgements about them.

By paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in this way, we can become more aware of them, less wrapped up in them and more able to manage them.

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Remember my post from the start of the year about when life became a bit too much? Well we’ve all felt that way at one point or another, and it is how we deal with these times that often defines the type of person we are. Some shy away from the problem, push away family and friends and bury their heads in the sand. And others take a break from the situation, give themselves a chance to rest and put things in perspective, them make a decision about where they want their life to go. These are the more mindful in society, and according to research they are the ones who are less likely to suffer from psychological distress, including depression and anxiety. Basically ,I think the message is that problems don’t just go away if you ignore them – I’m sure we all know someone who likes to avoid their problems, perhaps by just not talking to a loved one after a fight, but it always catches up with them eventually.

By using the Mindfulness techniques suggested, you can help yourself to keep your problems in perspective, to keep control of your decisions rather than being forced into panic or impulsive decisions. So it seems that as well as helping you to chill out and get a moment’s peace to reorganise your mind, you also have the chance to save yourself from worsening the situation by not rushing into making the wrong move. There are three main techniques for introducing Mindfulness into everyday life:

  1. Observe Mindfully by taking mental notes of everything around you, indulge your five senses by thinking about what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Every day, make the effort to notice and appreciate an object of beauty, whether it is your child, your car or a natural wonder. It only takes a few minutes a day, but can make all the difference to your overall happiness.
  2. Walk Mindfully when taking your daily walk to work, or around the park at lunchtime. Give yourself 10-15 minutes to focus purely on the movements of your body and the feeling of walking, giving your mind a chance to clear of all the stresses and worries of the day. Plus some fresh air is great for you.
  3. Eat Mindfully when scoffing a piece of fruit, chocolate, or even a bowl of soup. Take in every detail of the food you are eating, the colour, shape and size, the feel of it in your mouth and the flavours. So many of us just grab a sandwich while continuing to work through our lunch breaks and it is really bad for our health. We need this time to enjoy our food and to have a break from working.

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All of these are so simple and can really make a difference to your day – trust me, I’ve spent the last week trying them all out and it really has helped me to see how trivial work, money and personal stresses really are in the grand scheme of things. It really makes you appreciate the things your body does on a daily basis – the things we are usually completely oblivious to because we are so caught up in everything else. Not only does it make us appreciate ourselves more, but we appreciate others more because we take the time to take in every detail, to share food with them and to really listen. For those who have more time to dedicate to the practice, meditation, yoga and Tai Chi are also great ways of taking the time to to take a deep breath, relax and be mindful. I used to love yoga and used to do it at home alongside pilates classes, but I just don’t have the time any more unfortunately. But I would really recommend it if life is getting on top of you and you want a way of both relaxing and exercising at the same time. I’m definitely planning on a lot more time spent on all three next year when travelling.

If you like the sound of these techniques – why not give some of them a try this week and see the difference they make to your day? For those living in Norfolk and Suffolk, there are a series of tfree aster sessions and stress-control workshops available, plus telephone support (0300 123 1503), group therapy and short-term one-to-one therapies. Find out more about all of these here. For my local readers, there are upcoming free Mindfulness Introduction workshops taking place in Attleborough, Norwich, Lynn and Cromer this month, with a Lynn session at Providence Street Youth Centre on Monday, October 20, at 6.30pm-8pm.

Do you struggle to keep on top of things? How did you find these techniques helped your daily life?

 Ab Lucy sign off

 

 

 

Happy Blogiversary to Absolutely Lucy

blogiversaryJust an extra quick little post to say today is my one year Blogiversary! I totally managed to mix my dates up, but thankfully WordPress reminded me that a year ago today I posted my first ever post on this blog. I can’t believe how much this blog has grown in that time, how many of you lovely people I have made friends with, who comment, send me messages and get involved in my posts. I have made so many friends in the blogging community and have been invited to join in posts by bloggers I really admire. In the last 12 months I have also seen Absolutely Lucy go self-hosted, have given a huge redesign and a new focus for the next year.

I’m so excited for what the future holds for this blog and I’ve loved every second along the way. Thanks so much to all of you for being a part of the journey and I look forward to more of the same! Your messages and comments mean the world to me and they keep me writing – so thanks!

Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or ideas for any changes, posts or if you just want to say hi.

Ab Lucy sign off

#bodyUNashamed – A Tribute to Body Confidence

body 5The beautiful, funny and fabulous Penny of Lillies and Love invited me to be a part of her #bodyUNashamed campaign – and when I read all about it, I just couldn’t think of a good reason not to get involved with such a worthy project. It made me feel quite depressed when I suddenly realised how few women I knew that hadn’t made negative comments about their bodies, or felt like they had to cover up at some point in our friendship. Pretty much all of them had talked about their flab, picked at the non-existent rolls hanging over their jeans, had a breakdown before a night out because their clothes didn’t look right or even cried because they hated their skin.

There’s so much negativity out there and so much of it is directed at our bodies and the way we look, so much of this doesn’t take into account the amazing things we can do. Why do we look at stretch marks like they are disgusting when they are the mark of carrying a child and bringing it into the world? Why do we feel sick at the sight of that soft roll on our tummies when it is a sign of enjoying life, of eating birthday cake at parties, drinking cocktails and spending nights snuggling on the sofa instead of at the gym? And why do we cover our skin with lotions, make-up and creams in an attempt to turn back time when every line on our face marks a smile we’ve shared and a memory we treasure?body 3Don’t worry – I’m just as guilty. I love make-up and getting dressed up. I love working out at the gym and have been a bit of an addict in the past, and now I find it hard if I slip and get a bit soft around the edges. I’ve never actually had a breakdown, but I’ve certainly felt depressed if I wake up and my skin looks gross or my love handles feel a bit bigger. We all have, some are worse than others, but we’ve all been there. But now Penny is telling the world that this has to stop and – as she is someone who has suffered major body issues, even having plastic surgery at 20 – I think she has a bloody good point. There are 65 bloggers involved in the project and she wants to get us all talking about body image in a positive way – sharing good vibes and changing the way we all think about our bodies. Her message is:

I’d encourage each and every one of you to be proud of who you are and to embrace the #bodyUNashamed mentality. Be healthy, be happy, but never apologise for the way your body looks. Embrace it and help yourself and others to feel good about themselves!

body 4So I’m going to start by talking about what I hate most about my body and how I cope with it. My skin – while I love having a permanent tan – is really sensitive to products and can flare up with eczema and dry, itchy, sore patches at a moment’s notice. It hurts and takes a while to heal, but when it does, often the top layer of skin is damaged and leaves me with white patches – usually on my arms. After working on a tan all summer, this is pretty horrible for me and I find it looks horrible. I’m sure there are a lot of people who wouldn’t even notice it, but I know it’s there and it upsets me. It’s so frustrating when this happens as often there doesn’t appear to be a cause, all I can do is be careful with products and washing powder, and just ignore it. But I certainly will never let it stand in the way of living my life and being happy, and I don’t cover up my arms for anyone.

becky 1My next task is to pick on another blogger, and I have been assigned Becky of Becky Louise Beauty – lucky me because she gives me plenty to write about! At just 18, you can see from her posts and her gorgeous smile what a zest she has for life and her passion for the products she reviews shines through her posts. I love the way she is a bit of a nail addict, as I’m definitely one for the nail varnishes myself. She is really talented at nail art and gives fantastic tutorials on really cute looking nail designs and I’m going to be trying them out myself. She has such a great outlook on life and this is clear from her Twitter feed, and you can tell she must be a great radio presenter and Youtuber.

body 2My final task is to list three things I love about myself – not an easy task for anyone to do, but as Penny says, it is not about boasting – it is about being truthful. Often the mirror and the media will tell us lies, so it is important to be honest with ourselves. I’ve also used photos throughout this post from times when I remember feeling really confident and happy within myself.

  1. My smile – it is the thing that I am always remembered for and it obviously leaves a lasting impression. I’ve always been very lucky with my teeth, they are straight and white and I have no fillings at 24. Plus I love the way that putting a big smile on your face, even when you are feeling down, genuinely makes you, and others feel better. A smile makes the world go round.
  2. My bum – it is pretty big and jubbly and in a town full of white girls with flat ironed rumps, my booty is something spectacular. Sorry girls, I’d always want Beyonce’s butt over skinny old Miley’s – a heck of a lot more comfortable for sitting on!
  3. My muscle – I’ve worked hard to reach the level of fitness I was at before all the festivals and it makes me feel proud, happy and strong to see that my body is still pretty toned despite all the cider. Although I have a lot of work to do to get back to peak fitness again, I really like knowing that my hard work has paid off and I can see the results.

Now it’s your turn – why not share the part of your body you dislike the most, and the parts you love? Seriously, it really changes your outlook when you realise that for one thing you hate, there are three things you love.

Ab Lucy sign off

Blogger of the Week & another award!

UntitledAfter being so busy last week and away at Secret Garden Party all weekend, I never had a chance to share my exciting news with all of you. I made sure my Twitter followers and Facebook friends knew, but there just wasn’t time to write a post telling you that I was chosen as The Bloggers’ Lounge featured Blogger of the Week! I couldn’t believe my luck to be chosen and  was honoured to be interviewed by Rebecca for the website so that all of their thousands of readers would all be introduced to my blog. After only just going self-hosted and deciding to make some serious changes to Absolutely Lucy over the coming months in terms of layout, design and also content, it was lovely to have the chance to tell people about my plans and about what Absolutely Lucy is really all about. It was also really nice to receive so many lovely comments and messages of encouragement from readers, fellow bloggers and the guys at The Bloggers’ Lounge. So often you can feel like all your hard work goes unnoticed – and believe me, a lot of work goes into creating and maintaining a blog – so when someone finally shines a light on you it really is an amazing feeling. It is so rewarding when you receive messages from bloggers you really respect and who inspired you to start blogging with their congratulations for being chosen. You can read the full interview here.

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I also had a lovely message from Kayley Gilbert of Then Matters Now – a blog that I really enjoy reading and you should definitely check out – saying that she had nominated me for The One Lovely Blog Award! I wanted to say a huge thank you so Kayley for thinking of me and for including me in the post – I’m so touched by the nomination. Those who have passed along the award have said:

The One Lovely Blog Award recognises blogs that are yes, lovely, but this award also acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with their viewers and followers.

As usual the award comes with a few rules to share some secrets with your readers and nominate yet more bloggers to receive the award – but after receiving a few now, I feel I am running out of “secrets” to share with you guys! So instead, I shall guide you to my awards page which has all the answers to my previous awards and my previous nominations. Again, a huge thank you to Kayley for her kind nomination and congratulations to her for receiving this well-deserved award. And of course, thanks to everyone who has supported me from the beginning, to those lovely people in my life who give me great material for the blog and all those whose kind words have kept me writing.

Don’t forget you can link up with me on Twitter and Facebook by following the links!

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Stop sabotaging yourself and live a stress-free life

1959729_10151937982432617_791760163_nLast week, I stumbled across an online post by Elite Daily called 18 Toxic Things You Need To Stop Doing If You Want To Live A Stress-Free Life and was drawn in straight away by my curiosity to see whether perhaps I could be doing more to make my own life clutter free. The last six months have seen some big changes in my life, although some outsiders might look in and think that it is just the same. What is different? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s the important things like the experiences I have had in that time which have changed and shaped my attitude now. I have made huge life decisions and started putting them into motion in small ways, mostly unknown to the rest of you. My friendships have changed, some for worse, but mostly for the better, and my relationship is in a very different place after some big decisions about the future. Generally all the changes are for the better now that they have sunk in, but that doesn’t mean some of them haven’t been a struggle and at times I have really wondered whether all the upheaval was worth it. At times I have really struggled to know whether I was making the right decision over a lot of things, but now I am finally starting to realise how much better life is after making all of these changes and choices.

I always feel it is so important to go through these tough periods because they are the times during which you start to make the biggest life changes. Whether it is choosing to end or start a relationship, make a career change or move away, I know lots of people who have been going through similar situations where they have reached the end of the road in some areas of their lives and it is time to move on. It’s not the easiest decision in the world, but it can be the best one you will ever make if it means finding a new passion or love, or escaping from some of your baggage. But even if you aren’t making those huge life decisions, there are countless smaller ones that can really help to ease your everyday life. As the article says, it is about removing the toxic elements so they in turn remove the stress from your life. And isn’t a stress-free life what we all want?1385336_10151937980557617_849526707_nThe top three points in the article boil down to two main points – stop caring what other people think and stop over-thinking things. Both incredibly toxic and basically mean you are concerning yourself with things that haven’t even happened yet, and with the opinions of others which are not something that actually physically affects you or your life. You can spend hours over-analysing things and imagining what people are thinking when actually they are too busy thinking about themselves or over-analysing their own lives. I’m just as guilty of these as anyone and although I’m not really too bothered about what most people think of me, there are those that are close to me whose opinions do count. In the past I have spent time worrying about keeping these friends happy by taking on their problems and keeping people around who didn’t make me happy and who actually added to my baggage. Cutting these individuals from my life was a very difficult decision made easy in the end when I took a good look at their behaviour and realised they were only concerned with their own well-being and not that of their friends.

Number four is something I have always believed in and will always continue to do. Living in the moment take you away from all the hideous over-thinking and lets you enjoy life and all its little pleasures. I have never agreed with the importance of this more than now, after making my own decision to follow my heart and travel the world. This links in so well with the next few points because much as I have loved and enjoyed my job, I have at several times worked myself into the ground until my personal life suffered and I am well overdue for a break while I reassess my future and career. It is important to take that time to work out what you really want to do, and sometimes it is difficult to do that while still in that work bubble. I’m looking forward to truly being able to live in the moment by jetting off and answering to no-one but myself, which will be lovely after working in a job where I answer to everyone. Making this plan has also helped me focus on what I have rather than what I don’t have, saving hard has really given me the chance to value what I have and the people I have around me. I have really learnt the value of everything I own by looking to sell much of it and earn as much money as possible while planning. It has helped me view things in a different way and lose interest in things like shopping and eating out, which I loved before.10001383_10151937980512617_1305932622_nNot all the points applied, but there were plenty that I could identify with and I’m sure it is the same for many of you guys. So many people hold on to grudges and anger, they let the emotions clutter their lives and rot while they live in the past. Not good for freeing your mind and moving on with your life. Despite some horrible things that have happened over the last six months, I took the view that there was nothing I can do about the situation except for choose how I want to deal with it. many couldn’t understand my decision to let things go and move on with my life, but just as many praised how I had been strong enough to do so because it meant that I could be happy again instead of living with hurt and anger. It depends on the kind of person you want to be but I would much rather live a happy life than a sad an angry one.

The rest of the points seem to take a look inwards at the individual and they way they view themselves and want to live. If you want to eat rubbish and not do any exercise, you won’t feel great. That’s why I made the decision a long time ago that I wanted to be fit and healthy because it does make me feel good about myself and removes the need for me to be one of those people who constantly complains about the way they look or compares themselves to other people. I avoid women’s magazines because I have no interest in celebrity lives and I am certainly not interested in reading the same old tosh about them being all for body confidence in all women, then only using the skinniest models. That is toxic in itself and it saddens me how many of these magazines throw out conflicting and damaging messages that so many women drink in. Most importantly, people need to realise the importance of being unique and embracing their individual qualities rather than striving to copy someone they idolise. That also applies to those who try so hard to be unique that they end up being the same as everyone else.

Such a simple article and yet it really made me re-evaluate my life, which is great because shouldn’t we always be looking at ways we can improve? I’m not saying we should constantly strive for something better, because the grass isn’t always greener. But if we know we can be happier by making a few small changes, why shouldn’t we do that and start living a better and stress-free life? Have you got any points to add to the list? How do you escape from your stressful life?

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SMILE: Happy International Happiness Day!

glade flower

At Glade Festival in 2012

“Happiness may have different meanings for different people. But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Read here about International Happiness Day and why the United Nations created this day to reclaim happiness.

I think it is so important to be aware of our happiness, particularly with so many distractions all around us. Many of us are working more than one job to make ends meet, are dealing with ridiculous workloads, have the stresses of parenthood or various other issues to deal with. Add things like iPhones into the mix and the constant distractions of those email or text bleeps are stopping us from both feeling and recognising our everyday happiness. I know so many people, myself included who are so caught up in their workload and stresses of their lives that they forget to take a step back and appreciate things. This is one reason I was so glad to have a break from everything last week and head off to London for some fun and to forget about work and everything else for a couple of days. It was so refreshing and I even turned my phone on silent for once!

snowball

Pushing my giant snowball

I hate that the UN feel they have to mark a day out as one to feel especially happy for, but it is so necessary when everyone is so busy. We live in a world where we do have to schedule in happiness and downtime. But if that is the case, then let’s make this day count. I’m making it my business to make my happiness spread to as many other people as possible, whether friends and family, other bloggers, Twitter followers or Facebook friends. I’m going to take a step back from all the chaos the day brings and remember to appreciate the little things and to share them with others, along with a smile. Why don’t you do the same? Make it your business to share a smile today – once you have made yourself happy, pass it on and watch the smiles spread.

What has made you happy today? What have you done to spread this smile and make the world a happier place?