Tag Archives: inspiration

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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#ImpossibleExperiences | Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars

12299237_10153171177402617_247656151924131368_nEver since quitting life as I knew it and leaving home to take on the adventure of a lifetime, I have been the queen of seeking adventures from the everyday to the most outlandish. I’ve shared pretty much every exciting second of with you guys from the crazy raves to the heartbreak and amazing jungle experiences. Now Into The Blue have asked me to write about an #ImpossibleExperience that I would love to turn into an experience day if ANYTHING were possible. So here I am, sitting in my Melbourne apartment drinking cold coffee and reminiscing about the travel moments that have captured my imagination and have set my world alight. On this 2.5 year trip, I’ve realised that so much more than I ever dreamed is possible in this life and it just takes a bit of bravery and the right people to show you how to make it happen. Who would have honestly thought when I set out that I would be living on the other side of the world? I’m all about making the impossible possible.16976762_10154214437896587_775327925_nWhen I came travelling, I also broke off a nine-year relationship, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Since then, we’ve remained the best of friends and always encourage each other to get out there and enjoy single life. Travelling is the best way to life as a single girl – every new place has amazing new people to discover and exciting new dates to go on. Since travelling the globe I’ve had some of the most amazing and romantic dates I could experience – from picnics on the beach at sunset, to hiking mountains together, getting lost in a new city, wine tours and more. But one that really stood out and will always remain one of my favourites was the night spent stargazing in the back of a ute in central Australia. With someone who has turned into one of my best travelling friends, it was probably one of the most romantic and special nights of my life. We lost count of the number of shooting stars as we lay there for hours, and watched as the moon rose. We stayed until the dawn started to turn the sky pink and we realised the magic of the night was slipping away.16923573_10154214441036587_1009002517_nThat was a very possible experience and one that every traveller should experience at some point in their lives – but it ignited my imagination and made me dream of travelling experiences far beyond the possible. That night, anything was possible, we were brave beyond the life we knew and dared to dream of everything society tells us we can never have. While travelling the globe is entirely attainable for me, travelling beyond this universe and the next is not, but that night I dared to dream of experiencing other undiscovered worlds. The final frontier – space is the true unknown and I dream of exploring and discovering something new, untouched, like fresh snow. Imagine being able to hop on a rocket to the moon for lunch, of drinking champagne somewhere over the Milky Way before spending an afternoon chasing each other through wormholes. Anyone who could take me to another world, to disco dance on Saturn’s rings and kick up dust at a rave on Mars, they would change my world. Whether it was just for an afternoon or for 10 lightyears of fun – it would be a date that brought magic into my life. 16933747_10154214441021587_233963382_nGliding through the skies spotting constellations up close that I had once gazed at through a telescope in the back of a ute in central Australia. If you ask me, that would be a pretty special way to see the world and to really gain perspective on all that you knew. Looking down on that past self of yours laying in the back of the ute in central Australia naively dreaming of escaping to new worlds and dancing among the stars. Realising how much you have grown as a person since that moment, despite any struggles and pain you’ve felt, the successes and the achievements, you’ve made it through and have once again transcended all you knew was possible. This experience would be so much more than just a date among the stars, it would be the reaffirmation that you are taking control of your life and that you, alone, are the one making it spectacular. That one day someone will read your story and say, I want to live that life.

Whether you dream of dancing among the stars or something much more achievable, dare to dream. There was a time when I would sit behind a desk and imagine travelling the world and exploring new countries but I got off my arse and made it happen. It’s not that hard, you just need to believe in yourself and actually do something about it – the first step is the hardest, then it simply becomes your life. Dreaming big is never stupid, it’s the only way to achieve great things whether you want to travel, find a new career or change your life.

How have you achieved your dreams?

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*This was my entry to the #ImpossibleExperiences competition to win a £200 experience day – you can enter by following these instructions.

*Images by myself and my very talented friend Scott McDonald

Melbourne | Loss and love at Bourke Street Mall

imageI haven’t posted in a while. I’ll be honest and say I’ve just been working so much and haven’t had time to sit and write, but it’s not just that, I’ve lost my motivation a bit lately. While my life is almost full to bursting with exciting stories to tell, I’d kind of hit a wall with inspiration. It happens every now and again, life gets busy and gets in the way of writing, but when it happens I don’t try and fight it because I know that I’ll always regain my mojo in the end, it just takes time. You can’t force yourself to be inspired and to write beautiful things, it comes naturally or not at all. While I was struggling to express the beautiful sides of life through this blog, something awful happened, something painful and sad and devastating. I may have been struggling with the words to express the happier situations in my life, but once I started typing my feelings of anger and hurt at the dangerous assault on my favourite city and it’s people last week, the words just wouldn’t stop.

For those who don’t know what happened, on Friday five people including a baby boy died in a horrific incident in Melbourne’s busiest shopping centre. A man went on a rampage around the city after allegedly stabbing his brother, mowing people down with his car and leaving 31 people in hospital. For those who were around the shopping centre at the time – including myself and several friends of mine – it was a scary, confusing and devastating experience. I was just about to start work and was walking past the incident as around 20-30 police cars went tearing along the tramlines in the pedestrianised areas to try and stop the man. Police helicopters were circling and police were screaming at onlookers to get away as quickly as possible. Luckily I worked nearby so I could find shelter in the hotel, at this point we had no idea what had happened with vague reports of a shooting/stabbing and a lot of misinformation. My first fear when I saw the police reaction was that it could be a bomb or some kind of terrorist attack, lack of information put this fear straight into my mind.

But I don’t want to dwell too much on what happened, instead I want to focus on what really horrified me that day. While the man’s actions were terrifying and have left the whole city unnerved, it was the actions of the onlookers that really showed me a dark side of humanity. As I ran up the street towards work I was dodging between people who preferred to stand on their phones recording every second of the incident, ignoring police advice to move to safety and choosing instead to share it on social media. A friend of mine was right in the middle of the incident and dived straight into help the injured people – he was brave and selfless in that moment, ending up covered in blood and just grateful he could help stop the bleeding from a man’s head injury. He was kind and patient despite his fears for his own safety and I find that incredibly inspiring. As with all the people who stepped up and helped save lives or to protect their fellow man that day – the ones who stopped and cared. My friend has since received word that the man he helped is safe and recovering in hospital.imageBut less inspiring was the man who stood right behind my friend and videoed the whole thing – instead of helping to stop the bleeding and to tend to those who were seriously injured he preferred to stand there and capture what was happening. I know we live in a modern age where camera phones open up the world to all of us to be the journalists and to share every bit of news at a flick of a button. But just as I always felt uncomfortable reporting the news from a desperate situation when I felt I could be helping to ease the pain and suffering of others, I find it disgusting that people would prioritise social media sharing and Snapchatting attacks on mankind over helping to save lives. Have we really reached a point where sharing an experience is more important that protecting a human life? While this experience may have inspired me to write about my anger and pain, I still don’t see how sharing it could ever be more important than protecting lives. Since Friday, countless people have flocked to Bourke Street Mall to lay flowers and messages of strength, love and compassion. This really makes you see the other side of humanity – the warmth that helps the world to move on and heal after such an incident.

It’s times like these when people need to put down their smart phones and to come together, because that’s what is really important. The love you feel from the other side of the world when friends and family message to check you are okay, the love you share when your best friend’s safety is your first thought as an incident happens, the love you feel from co-workers who rant and cry and understand the pain of others. It’s so easy to get caught up in the modern world we live in and to forget to break it down to the most basic and most important things – those around us who make our lives worth living, those individuals whose lives and presence we treasure more than anything. After hearing about the death of a Lynn legend – Juggling Jim – back at home, it shows more than ever the love for this character. The outpourings of sadness on social media at his death, he brought light into the lives of others and will be sadly missed. His spot on Lynn High Street will never be filled and his memory will be treasured.

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Travel | Absolutely Lucy turns 3 and the end of my Eurotrip!

imageI’ve been back in the country less than 24 hours and it’s safe to say after four weeks of mad, fast, exciting travelling around Europe, of dancing until the sun comes up and  sightseeing for days – I’m glad to be home. I’ve had the most incredible few weeks road tripping across Bulgaria, exploring Berlin, relaxing in the stunning surroundings of Slovenia, diving into the beautiful baths of Budapest and partying it up in Amsterdam. It’s been epic from start to finish and went better than I ever could have hoped, all thanks to all my amazing friends I met up with along the way. The trip was a fantastic excuse to visit some of my friends from trips to Asia and Australia back in their own homes and to catch up on old times, while picking up some awesome new friends along the way. It felt so good to be on the road and completely independent again, travelling solo really is my favourite way to travel, and I feel so refreshed after  a break from working so much. Also a big thanks to everyone who has been following me on Instagram and has offered countless suggestions of place to eat, things to see and do along the way!

So what next? You all know I’m never one to stand still for long so of course I’ve already got lots of plans for the next few weeks and if you’ve been following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you’ll already know that in just one month I’ll be heading back to Australia for another year! While I was away my second year visa was granted and after waiting months for it to be approved I was beyond ecstatic, I can’t wait to get back there to start a whole new adventure and to see all my loves I have missed so much. With just a month to prepare, you’d think I’d need to take a few days off working to get everything in order, but actually I’ve ended up signing up to full time freelance hours until the date I leave! Plus I’ll be covering a lot of extra blogging events and reviewing a huge range of restaurants and hotels for you guys with all my top tips for weekends away and how to make the most of your time off work. And I’ve got some exciting collaborations with travel brands and opportunities coming up that I can’t wait to share with you.

It’s been lovely to take some time off from the blog over the last couple of weeks just to get some perspective and really appreciate how far I’ve come. This week my blog celebrated it’s third birthday and I actually cannot believe how much it has changed and grown in that time – from the very first blog post I published to the most recent collaborations and going on my first blogging press trip a week ago. I’m so proud of everything I have accomplished with this blog – from working with brands to helping readers plan their trips. I actually received an amazing message from a long-time reader this morning saying she was inspired by this blog post to quit her job and her relationship so she could buy a one-way ticket to Australia. It is just incredible to have any kind of influence on readers, but to have such a huge impact on her life is more than I could have dreamed of when I started Absolutely Lucy.14368820_10153777471112617_1681907711635110597_nWhen you love to write as much as I do, and you love to travel, getting to combine these passions in a way that helps others and helps you build a career is so precious, it is important to appreciate every second. Last week, the 10th edition of industry magazine Blogosphere published with the incredible In The Frow on the cover – one of the bloggers I have followed from the very beginning – and guess who was featured inside? One of my favourite travel bloggers, Vicky Flip Flop, chose to feature Absolutely Lucy among her favourite travel bloggers for the month. I haven’t yet had a chance to see it as I’ve been away, but I’ll be sharing it with you as soon as my copy arrives – I’m so excited to be a part of such a fabulous magazine, and such an incredible industry.14354903_10153777471157617_3487606775261715180_nThese last few weeks have been exactly the tonic I needed to come home feeling super inspired, with a brain and a camera packed full of amazing content that I just can’t wait to share with you. I’m planning on working my ass off at this laptop and bringing you a huge range of new posts on all my adventures and hope to inspire you to plan some of your own. I’m also on a serious health kick – after four weeks of drinking and eating all kinds of rubbish – I’m looking forward to getting in the gym again and eating healthily. It’s time to get this body in shape and to peak fitness before I get back to Australia and living in my bikini every day! I’m so pleased I finally found a gym in my small town that offers a huge range of classes, plus a well-stocked gym and a pool – actually, I’m going to wrap up this post now and head straight down there for a workout! So there you go guys, a little glimpse into a chaotic few weeks that have left me with a big smile on my face.

Have you traveled around Europe – what was your favourite place? Have you been in spired by my posts – tell me about it! What’s your workout regime – got any tips for me?

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Lifestyle | Making life-changing decisions and taking risks

imageI wrote this on A level results day, a whopping eight years after I collected my own results and found out I was going to my first choice university to study English. After all the hard work I put in, my dreams had come true and I couldn’t wait to start my new life. Now eight years later, I can’t believe where my life has taken me – never could I have known that the next few years would see me interning at a fashion magazine, writing a column for a newspaper, gaining a 2.1 BA Hons, changing my career plans and becoming a journalist, working for six different newspapers, becoming the editor of an online festival magazine, starting a blog that would later win an award and feature in an industry magazine, travel round the world solo working with brands that are household names. It’s been a whirlwind few years and I can’t believe half the stuff I’ve done in that time, but that’s just my point, none of the students who have just collected their results have any real idea of what an amazing point they are at. Their whole world is about to change and they have no concept of what lies ahead. It’s exciting and terrifying, my favourite combination of feelings.

Anyone who has made a big decision in their life whether to do with relationships, careers, or even travel, will understand the feeling. That moment when you’re about to take the leap from all you have ever experienced into the unknown, but have no idea what will happen next. As a traveler and a bit of a risk-taker, I’ve experienced this feeling a lot – when I quit my job, when I broke off my nine-year relationship and traveled to the other side of the world solo. All of these moments have been absolutely terrifying and have filled me with a heart-stopping fear, but underneath the fear was excitement for what would come next. For a new challenge and a new way of life, for new people, sights and sounds. I remember sitting in the airport when it finally hit me that I had quite literally quit everything I knew to go to the other side of the world, by myself. It was nuts and totally overwhelming, I can’t deny a few tears were shed as I read the messages from family and friends, but then my flight was called. I pulled myself together, downed my wine and headed to the gate, and the rest is history.imageI’m currently in Berlin on my second solo trip, this time heading around Europe. But before I left I was getting that feeling again, like this little time in my life is over. I’m only off for a month but it’s the end of my time here at home and the start of something new, a whole new trip and a whole new way of travelling. I seem to get this overwhelming feeling that I need to leave every now and again, it plagues me, I never know when it will hit. Sometimes I can be perfectly happy in a place for six months, other times it creeps up on me after a few days, but when it hits I know I have to get gone. That it’s time for a new adventure. A lot of my friends aren’t travelers but they’ve experienced the same feeling – that desperation for a career change or eagerness to get out of a relationship that has gone sour. One of my friends has always had a “cut and run” theory that I share with her, when her gut instinct tells her she’s not happy she cuts her losses in relationships and gets gone. Another has found her passions overwhelmingly taking her away from her career and pushing her towards self-employment – a scary prospect but the most exciting thing to ever happen to her career-wise.

My point is we all have that thing that sets us tightrope walking along the very fine line between completely terrified and beyond bloody excited. But it’s whether we take that leap of faith that everything in front of us is just as magical as what lies behind, that is what decides our course in life. I read this quote the other day:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.” — Azar Nafisi

It just seemed so perfect for describing this feeling, the fear that you will never again experience this moment – I know I’ve had it a lot when I’ve formed incredible bonds with groups of people along my travels. That fear that by letting go of that perfect moment things will never be the same again. But more importantly, because every decision you make is shaping you as a person, everything changes you as a person. My decision to quit my job, relationship and life as I knew it changed me. Travel changed me. Just like the relationships and career choices of my friends have changed them. We are all learning and growing with every step we take in this world and it can be scary to let go of everything we know, but it’s only by doing that and leaping into the unknown that some of the best experiences of our lives will happen. So here it is, if you’re standing on the pinnacle of a life-changing decision, afraid that you will lose something precious, just take a second and think about what you could gain. By deciding to take the leap and grow as a person, you open yourself up to so many more incredible experiences – trust me, I’m a poster girl for this. Go for it and stop worrying, you have so much more to gain than you ever could lose.

Have you made a life-changing decision? How did you push yourself to take a risk? What is the scariest choice you’ve had to make?

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Lifestyle | On celebrating wild women and free spirits

imageWhen I was born, I was a little unexpected. For a start, I was a “mistake”. My parents were expecting a boy when suddenly out popped this little girl that looked a bit like Mowgli from The Jungle Book and couldn’t sit still. From the start I was a very independent child, unlike my sister who had to be sat on my mother’s hip at all times, I was running around and causing havoc from the very beginning. I was going to be called Jack until this creature who was very obviously a “Lucy” arrived. It makes me wonder, if I had been born a boy what would have been different – would I still have become a journalist and quit my job to travel the world? Would I still have an unhealthy love for cheese and wine? Or would I be a completely different person? I feel like my entrance into the world helped set the tone for the rest of my life, which so far has taken some pretty unexpected turns. I remember when I first announced to friends that I was coming travelling, some were shocked I was giving everything up and going it alone. Others, who knew me well, were unsurprised. More than one of them actually said they kind of expected something like this from me, that I’d always been a bit of a free spirit even when I was working full time and in a long-term relationship. I guess not much has changed about me since then, I just cast off all the shackles that were keeping me tied to one place so that I could experience total freedom for a while.

Growing up, I was always more of a boy’s-girl than a girl’s-girl, I always had my gang of close girlfriends but would always find myself spending more time with the guys. Back then I struggled with the bitching and “girl talk” that came with one particular gang and it kind of put me off female friendships a bit. I’ve never had any interest in people who want to talk about others negatively – I love the kind of people who want to build each other up and celebrate each other. But then some amazing women came crashing into my life that changed all that – I’m a very lucky girl to have a pretty special group of female friends both at home and on the road and they have completely changed my opinion. My friends at home are these amazing, creative, independent and exciting women who have an opinion on everything and will stand by you until the end. They’re the kind of women who will never make you feel bad about yourself, won’t make you judge other people and won’t make you feel insecure. Instead they bring light into your life, and colour, lots of it. A night with them is well spent whether you’re debating over a glass of wine, setting the world to rights over dinner, or dancing like fools in the club. They’re wild women, they’re passionate and have dreams. They don’t sit around waiting for a guy – they go out and work hard to earn their own money and they make their own dreams come true. They’re fearless and bold, they’re brave and they inspire me.imageWhile nothing will ever replace those incredible creatures that keep cheering for me and supporting me even when I’m the other side of the world, I’ve met some pretty amazing souls since travelling as well. The kind of women who make you feel like you can take on the world and do anything you set your mind to, the ones who will be your cheerleaders, who will be your shoulder to cry on, your tough love when you need it and the kind of women you will be friends with for life. I feel like when you meet people travelling it is so different to making new friends at home, it’s like you see their soul laid bare from the very beginning and people aren’t afraid to dive in the deep end. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve met these beautiful characters who have laid their cards on the table from the first day and by the end of it we’ve been declaring our love for each other. People aren’t afraid to be exposed, if anything they’re more willing to be themselves no matter what. I love that, I love when people are unapologetically themselves. It’s refreshing to meet people who are fearless in expressing their ideas and opinions, who don’t try to fit in with any crowd or way of thinking. They’re free spirits and wild women and they’re everywhere. I saw a quote the other day and it really summed up what I’m trying to say in this post:

There is no competition between wild women. Their spirits are too free to be caught in a tiny space of envy. Instead they dance together and allow the good to flow abundantly amongst each other.

I love this. This is something to be celebrated. Not just among women, but I wanted to use this excuse to focus on the incredible women I have met in my life. We should always make it our business to be as wild and free as the world will allow – to follow our hearts and to dream big. And, even more importantly, we shouldn’t allow envy or jealousy to make us judge the achievements of others. At the end of the day, life is tricky sometimes and we all need a bit of help and support along the way, we should do our best to give this to all the women in our lives because we never know when we’ll need it returned to us. To all those who live their lives meekly and afraid of what others will say – stop. Live loudly and proudly, be excited and passionate and chase what you want out of life. Be one of those women that inspires you, be one of those women that inspires others. Whether your free spirit travels the world, creates something amazing or loves with great abandon – go full throttle on life and you’ll never look back with regret. I’ve spent the last three months living in the outback and it’s made me more grateful than ever before for my tribe: the girls here in town who have got me through, the girls across Australia who have kept cheering me on, and the gang at home who have been a ear when I needed to vent. Every single one of you have kept me inspired, supported and excited about life even after the toughest day at work. Thanks to you, I made it through. So I’ll end on this note, make it your business today to think about the women in your life, the ones who are wild and free and inspire you at every step. Let them know what a big part they play in your life.

Have you got an amazing gang of girlfriends? How have your girls inspired you? 

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Wise words from Buddha

imageThis post will take a little break from sightseeing for something a bit more spiritual I found along my travels. Ahead of Friday’s post on my time in Sukhothai, this one will focus on one very small part of my days spent visiting temples and cycling around the beautiful Thai countryside. The evening I arrived, after a well-deserved rest following the horrible, sweaty journey there, I headed out to explore, find food and to check out the closes temple to my guest house. Not planning to enter Sukhothai Historical Park until the next morning, I decided to visit a temple that stood just outside the gates, in the centre of a picturesque lake, at sunset. It was pretty beautiful and the perfect time to visit as the place was deserted, but it was not the view that captured my imagination, but the decorations hanging in the tree surrounding the island. Each had been adorned with wise words of Buddha and offered advice, motivation or kind assurance that the reader was firmly on track. It was such a lovely idea that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I know that we all have bad days sometimes and words like these can really help to put things in perspective or give you the boost you need to make a change in your life.imageimageimageWhether you’re religious, spiritual or don’t give any of it the time of day, I think everyone can relate to the values, the idea that you should seize control of your life and make it the very best it can be. It’s something we all need to be reminded of at times, I know of so many people who are working in jobs they hate or feel like they are stuck in a rut, and yet they are too afraid to seize the day and make a change. I love the above phrase “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions, all life is an experiment.” After chatting to a friend I met the other day about my experiences of travelling alone, I was reminded again of how much of a leap I took when I came out here three months ago. As I said to him, it really doesn’t feel like a big deal that I came travelling alone but at the time it was the scariest and biggest decision I have ever made – and yet it has had the biggest payoff and effect on my life of any choice I have made so far. It just shows you that to yield big rewards you have to make the biggest jumps. It doesn’t just apply to travelling, I have met so many people while travelling who have been on the cusp of making big choices about university, careers, taking over a family business, making a big move across the country or the world, or even their relationships. All are unsure about making a it decision, but travelling is inspiring them to take that leap.imageimageimage

 

Hope everyone is having a good week – if you have any inspiring stories to share, why not leave a comment?

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Guest Post: Reclaiming your life and finding happiness

happiness

Something very special for you guys today – the first guest post on Absolutely Lucy and I’m so happy to share this incredibly powerful post with you guys. Reading it for the first time brought tears to my eyes and I know there are so many people out there who are struggling a bit and who need to read this to help put things in perspective and to show that ray of light at the end of the tunnel. This piece is by an amazing writer who luckily stumbled across my blog thanks to Twitter – thank goodness for social media if it means getting to find such amazing writers and sharing their work with a new audience.

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Meet Nixie Dust a writer and photographer who runs two blogs including Nixie Dust, where she shares her everyday life, experiences, thoughts and ideas. Both are well worth a look and a follow – or find her on Twitter. Read on for her take on taking back control of your life and finding your own happiness:

 

I remember the moment I gave up. It was a grey day by the sea, slowly turning into evening, the eerie keening of the gulls pin wheeling above me. Hove is famous for starling murmurations in the early evening, and I stood watching a huge one shape shift over the rooftops, each bird in perfect harmony with the bodies of its fellows. I stood too close to the road, tyres threw dirty water up my legs as people drove home, the occasional horn blaring through the drab, grainy twilight. I didn’t care. I watched the starlings dance until they had exhausted their airy stage. They flew on, towards Brighton. I thought, ’I’ll catch up with the rest of you.’

A few hours later I was in a hospital bed, having again been admitted for suicidal ideation and planning my death. It was the first time I’d been admitted for mental health problems in a long, long time. Even when I lost the use of my legs for two years and was plunged into the despair of seemingly permanent disability at 24, I didn’t let the tide engulf me. I went to Italy despite it all, had a steady job, moved in with friends, found love, lost it again. This time was different. I’d fallen back into a bottle, into the comfort of too many painkillers, too many nights spent alone with only the rattle of my thoughts in my skull like dice in a game I’d rigged to lose. Despite every challenge I’d overcome; Valium addiction, crippling mobility problems, mental illness; I hadn’t reached the top of any metaphorical mountain. I’d been told by inspirational websites and movies and books that once I’d faced my demons I’d rise up like a hero in the last seconds of a Gladiatorial showdown and K-O unhappiness right out of the ring. But it wasn’t like that. Unhappiness was doing press-ups in another room, and I was face down in the dust still spitting teeth, waiting for an on-call psychiatrist to thumbs up, or down.

After I was released, I had a lot of time to think about why I kept plunging back into the familiar misery and hopelessness of depression. Partly, it’s chemical. I have rapid-cycling Bipolar type II, with co-morbid Borderline Personality. It’s hard to think of two conditions that lend themselves to instability more. I don’t build on shifting sands, I am shifting sands. I take my meds every day like a good patient and for the most part I’m doing alright. Most days I don’t just cope, I thrive in spite of it all like a wildflower growing in the gutter. But partly, it’s habitual; the vestiges of learned behaviours whose ‘use by’ expired long ago without me throwing them away. When faced with difficulty, my brain automatically shifts down-gear into a myopic tunnel-vision; a place where light struggles to get in, showing the same film over and over – the ‘You’re not Good Enough’ franchise, with its infinite number of sequels.

It isn’t just me. From the number, the overwhelming number, of people I know with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts; long, weary days of feeling not-enough, too-much; I’ve had a hall of mirrors to look at and learn from. Not all of these people have clinical diagnoses, because most of them aren’t suffering from DSM-V tick-box mental illness. I think that’s what’s so frightening about it – that it’s seemingly normal. Dear god, ‘Stop hating your body’ is seen as revolutionary. And even worse, it is.

But you know what? Despite the hospitalisations and walking aids and bottle-dependency, these days I’ve got everything I could need or want: Happiness. The one elusive thing I was taught I could buy, or earn, but not find inside myself: Happiness. The world can be a sticky, painful place, and I don’t have a list of ten neat bullet points like ‘let go of judgement’ or ‘follow your inspiration’ or ‘care less about what other people think’. I just have my own experience, and the one concrete thing I’ve learned about the whole deal is that old cliche (because they’re true, am I right?) that the only thing to fear is fear itself. And tidal waves and your teeth falling out and serial killers.

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Reclaiming your life and your power isn’t, for most of us, a fire walk, or Everest, or epiphany. It’s a long slog through neck-high bullshit we’ve been fed since we we were old enough to realise there was an ‘I’ in here that other people had expectations about. I never had my melon merrily twisted by a self-help article that told me to ‘care less about what people think,’ as though I could snap my fingers and glide along the street, suddenly, gloriously, giving no fucks; because it doesn’t really deal with conditioned fear, that habitual depression, in a realistic way.

The last time I checked, we were all being conditioned from a very young age to care what other people think so much that their opinions about us take precedence over our own. School for most of us was nothing more than a years-long vicious popularity contest in which we pitted ourselves against each other to find out where we belonged, egged on by adults who projected their own fucked-up conditioning about self-worth onto our budding sense of person-hood. And it doesn’t stop, even when you’re an adult slaving away in a job you despise, worrying about your waistline. Everything you’re told about how you ‘should’ live your life comes purely from what other people might think about it, from the way you look to the job you take to what you eat.

The thing I’ve learned about other people’s judgement is that it always, always comes from a place of fear. Shaking out your wings reminds them of their own prison, and most people would rather not be forced to think about that. Judging myself also comes from a place of fear, because I’ve been told that upsetting the equilibrium of a self-loathing hive by being happily myself is somehow selfish. Anyone with an ounce of common-sense can see how stupid that is. As Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Where, then, do you go? You happiness seeker? You Fool poised on the edge of the Tarot card? You can’t live to please other people, and even if you could, it turns out you can’t please them anyway. All you can do is nurture the faltering little weed of defiant self-esteem that just won’t die in the face of it all. For me, it’s taking that trip despite the physical challenges, or walking out of the hospital doors again into another dawn, or sending off that new story even though I’m sure the editor will hate it. I make sure I take the time to do the things I love, with or without other people’s approval, because even though it took me years to get here, it’s true that radical self love and acceptance has absolutely nothing to do with them.

Overcoming over a decade of insanity and addiction didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t find God or build African wells or ‘follow my bliss’ and become a best seller. I just lived through it all a day at a time, taking down the bars of the cage one by one, letting a little more light in with each painting, or poem, or quiet act of creative bravery. It wasn’t extraordinary, or heroic; it was a slow dismantling of a wall I’d let the world build around me with ’shoulds’.

Let us all kick away the bricks of that wall. Let us gaze at the view when it comes down. Let us all find our happiness within. Let us all, in our smallest victories, raise each other up.

 

 

Lacking inspiration? Take a break and find your mojo

4815205632_632ee48a71_zWriters all over the world will know exactly what I mean when I say that sometimes you just lose all inspiration. Even those who are not writers often reach points in their life when they simply don’t know which way to turn, or where to begin and just lose interest all together. Times like this are difficult, particularly if it affects your work or home life because this lack of motivation can be contagious. Writer’s block can be a killer, especially for bloggers when it takes them away from their hobby – the one thing that often helps them unwind. So what do you do when you’re all out of words? Here are my top tips for getting your writing mojo back again:

  1. Stop trying to force it – if you keep trying to put words on the page they will just get worse and worse. Give your brain, and your hands, the break they want.
  2. Get away from the screen – it’s not good for us to sit at a screen for hours on end. Give your eyes a break and head outside for fresh air and sunshine, try visiting somewhere new or head to the coast. I always feel inspired after a walk by the sea.
  3. Catch up with friends – if you write a lifestyle blog, why not see what issues your friends are facing and see if that inspires you for a new post. I find my friends and family are a great influence for my posts.
  4. Break your routine – need some new inspiration? Then find something new. Go somewhere different for your morning coffee, cycle to work instead of getting the bus, go for a walk along the river on your lunch break instead of shopping. You get the idea, do something unusual for you and you might find the subject of your new post.
  5. Get away – travel can be a great inspiration for posts, if you have the time and funds, why not book a holiday? If you don’t, why not a weekend away, visit friends or just go on a day trip to somewhere you’ve never been before.
  6. Try something new – why not start a new exercise class or learn something new – you could try that recipe you always wanted to. Doing something different is new and exciting, plus it will distract you from the pressure of writing, you could even meet new people who might inspire you to write.
  7. Delete the drafts – sometimes you will start to write the same essay or blog post several times, often all ending up in a crumpled heap in the bin. But some of us find it hard to delete these posts and start again from fresh, instead trying to re-energise the same tired introductions. If you’re feeling tied down by these drafts, why not delete them all and start afresh, you can use the same ideas but attack them in a different way.
  8. Don’t over-think it – often writers are also big thinkers and spend a lot of time in their own heads – I know I do – and this can actually harm the writing process at times. Don’t let yourself over-think the piece you are writing because you can easily overcomplicate the post when actually readers crave simplicity.
  9. Read, watch, listen to everything – one of the best ways to be provoked into writing is to experience the world around us, listen to music and read books, blogs, newspapers or anything you can get your hands on and watch television or films. All of these can raise big issues and questions for you to react to, you could offer reviews or you could just share your findings with your readers in recommendations.
  10. Invest in your creative space – for writers, especially freelance and bloggers, their desk and work area is very important to them. It is the place they often spend most time in and do their most creative work, so why are they often so boring and uninspiring? Invest in the space around you, choose a good desk and chair then fill the area with images and items that inspire you or prompt you to write.

Hope these tips have helped you as they have helped me in the past, especially when desperately trying to get over another roadblock in an essay at university. But they apply well to all writers, whether blogs, freelance, media, journalists or students.

Have you got any other suggestions? Leave me a comment and share them below.

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A little inspiration to see me through 2014

Photo by Jennifer

Photo by Jennifer

As we take the first steps into the New Year, some of us are feeling rather tentative. Those who might have had a rough year are taking a little coaxing into feeling positive about what is to come, while others are launching head first into making huge plans for the year ahead and how it will beat 2013 into the dust.

I find myself hanging around in limbo between the two states after a mixed year – 2013 was an amazing year for me on paper – I travelled and went to amazing festivals, I developed my career and became an editor so much more. But at the same time, I lost a few people who meant a great deal to me, I grew apart from some friends and there was drama. On the whole, I shall look back on 2013 with fondness because I refuse to have any regrets and I really did have an amazing year in the end. But I was very hesitant to make any big plans for this year, to launch myself into buying tickets or making commitments – I wasn’t sure why but I wasn’t even that enthusiastic about seeing in the New Year.

I have since changed my tune after making some very important decisions that are to shape my life over the next two years. I won’t reveal my plans at this stage, but I am very excited about them. Instead, here are some inspirational quotes that have helped to guide me thus far and I hope that they will lead me in all my goals for the year – perhaps they will help to centre you in your goals as well.

Photo by Celestine Chua

Photo by Celestine Chua

Ride the energy of your own unique spirit. – Gabrielle Roth

A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments. – Samuel Johnson

A man of extraordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place. – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. – Henry David Thoreau

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

Photo by Mckay Savage

Photo by Mckay Savage