The Significance Of Life's Small Moments

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. - Dr Seuss

I was walking back from work the other day when I heard the sound of a bell, signalling that someone was leaving the shop across from me and it's something that I hadn't noticed before, besides taking this same route to and from work every day. It was the type of bell that you hear in old movies and it got me thinking: thousands of people have probably walked down this street before me, hearing the same chime and thousands will after me too. It was a strange revelation.

There'll be fashion statements, celebrity household names and political triumphs that will define our generation but something that won't make it onto newspapers to be read years later are the seemingly unimportant small talk that we have with our friends and family, the inside jokes that we share with one another and the small impressions we make on strangers. This is left to the hearts of those who felt it and passed down, through their own words, to those they care about enough to share with and that's what makes them special. The raw, untarnished beauty of the small things in life.

Blogging is a great example of this and why I spend so much of my time reading through the work of so many people whom I may never meet. The way that different people experience the same thing and can share their average lives with an open space full of countless people waiting to listen, will forever fascinate me.

I've always been one for the "dull" moments. I am not a thrill seeker and I'd much prefer to sit in a field all day talking with friends about anything and everything. I'll openly discuss any topic and share my own experiences with anyone who wants to hear them but more than anything, I love to listen. I collect small observations and memories as if they were fossils and write them down as if someday everyone's going to want to hear them.

The big moments are often the focus of our efforts and the goals for our lifetime but the things that you'll take with you, the things that will give you that true feeling of nostalgia are the small moments others may forget...


The One Where I Vow To Be Less Soft

"Sometimes I forget that putting myself first isn't selfish, but necessary."

Since I've been speaking a lot about self-improvement on this old blog of mine for a while now, I thought it was time I shared with you my biggest personal insecurity. It's something that I've struggled with for a long time and a weakness of mine which I want to combat. There's a fine line between being a nice, considerate person and being a pushover. It's a line I'm still, myself, trying to find and I've since made the decision to sit down and get it all off my chest.

I hate confrontation. There, I said it. And it isn't because I can't handle it. I genuinely just don't like the idea of upsetting anyone, or in the workplace, making someone's job any harder and so I often find myself saying yes to things that I really should say no to. Honestly? It does come from a good place but when you really want to make a good impression in your new work place, it can be hard to know if your positive intentions are coming across.I'm a big team player and I love to help people out. I'm also a firm believer that your workforce needs to be happy in order to make customers and therefore, the business, happy too. I'm just trying to learn to find that work-play balance that I am so desperate for.

The truth is, I'm a people pleaser, through and through and I always have been but in order to function at my best I need a little time to myself, maybe to do some writing or watch Catchphrase. No matter what it is, I just need time to refuel before saying "yes, of course" again. Now, I'm not expecting for this to change over night but it's certainly something that I need to work on and I'm sure there's many others who often find themselves in the same predicament as me, offering more of your time out than you actually have. It can be difficult to say no sometimes but you just have to do it.
It's easy to think that people will like you more for agreeing to anything and everything but actually, it can have the opposite effect. Don't stretch yourself too thin, trying to help everyone all at the same time. Once you start to value and prioritise your time realistically, the jobs you do will be appreciated that little more.

That being said, don't let anyone make you believe that being a kind-hearted person who just wants to help is a bad thing. People appreciate a helpful, selfless person but sometimes you have to respect yourself and your time enough to say no to optional jobs that you don't think are worth your time or effort. This is especially important for any other freelancers out there. Offering too much and overworking yourself isn't the answer and people will only take advantage. Charge what you are worth and nothing less than that.

So here's to the just-as-helpful-more-realistic-less-soft version of myself. Wow, that was a mouthful.

"When you say 'yes' to others, make sure you are not saying 'no' to yourself." - Paulo Coelho



A Life-Long Romance, Starting With An Apology

I've been going to the gym 7 days a week for a long time now but this particular morning felt a little different to any of the other sessions. My heart was pounding, I was out of breath but I was struggling to keep my head in the game. I had an overwhelming feeling of, what I can only describe as, emptiness. I had music blaring through my headphones at max volume but my thoughts were suffocating the music, disallowing any distractions.

I was only 25 minutes into my session at this point but I had to stop.

Going to the gym, for me, has always been about maintaining a good level of fitness. I don't want to be the next Jodie Marsh. Instead I want to worry less about the outside and aim to ensure that I'm healthy on the inside.

Whether I'd pushed myself too far, I don't know but the day before this, I'd injured my calf. Piers advised that I take a couple of days off to let my body heal before going back at it again. I was okay with this idea (to begin with anyway) until I woke up the next morning and although I was in pain- decided to push through anyway.

The thing I had failed to notice was why I felt that I needed to go. It wasn't because I enjoyed going but because I knew I would feel guilty if I didn't. To push through, I was imagining being skinny again, thinking about all the clothes I could comfortably wear if I lost a few inches off my waist. I even thought about life in the bedroom if I lost a couple of pounds. It's kinda embarrassing to admit that these are what came to mind in pursuit of pushing through.

"If you could see yourself, just for a day, you'd see how everyone else sees you. And my god, you are fucking beautiful."

It was honestly so innocent to begin with. I was soon to be starting a new job (yay) and I wanted to get as much exercise in as I could before I started. I'd recently given up smoking and so wanted something to fill my time with and most of all: I actually enjoyed going. It became a part of my morning routine that I looked forward to. I loved the feeling of achievement after a hard session and I loved, even more, the sheer amount of energy I had in my day-to-day life. Somewhere along the way, I lost that. I'd never congratulate myself unless the scales agreed that they second those cheers.

I was starting to adopt an unhealthy mindset. Since then, I've made the decision to stop weighing myself and to not take any pictures of my progress and most importantly- listen to my body. This way, I forget about a specific aim and concentrate on simply staying active and healthy.

I suppose this is less of a blog post and more of an apology letter to myself. Learning to love myself and my body is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Sometimes I am going to slip up and I need to learn to forgive myself for these mistakes. After all, I'm only human.

Is there anything that you need to forgive yourself for?



Dividing The Creatives From The Non-Creatives

There's something about creatives and their endeavours which scare people. To do something that hasn't yet been done and to throw yourself into a line of work which doesn't have set rules of what is right and what is wrong, often creates a blurred line when it comes to 'success'. There's this idea, often depicted in movies and almost exclusively applies to artists and writers, that creative souls spend the majority of their lives as failures, having to choose between their passion and their profit. Until they finally stumble upon an idea which becomes a phenomenon and then they crawl back into their hole which they came from, never successfully topping that and becoming a 'one hit wonder'.

I think this fear comes from the occurrence of writers block or creative block and thus stops people from reaching for this dream of creating. The truth is, creators don't need fancy degrees or 'permission', if you will, to be creative. Sure, there are areas of expertise where their creativity flourishes at it's best but it isn't exclusive to that one area.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to understand." - Albert Einstein.

Creative people are often portrayed as mentally unstable, alcoholic insomniacs. But why? If you're a creator yourself, you'll relate to getting ideas at the most inappropriate times and having a small window of opportunity to write them down before they leave your mind. Whether it's 2am and you're trying to get to sleep or you see some strangers in the park and need to perfectly capture the scene you've just witnessed. This feeling of sudden creativity can spark assumptions that we are impulsive.

It's not only this fear of creatives that stops people attempt to achieve something in their life or to work hard on something, it's also the fear of failure or judgement. This type of fear is instilled in us, not from birth, but from negative, unproductive criticism along the way. I'm sure we've all had moments in our lives when we've been really proud of something you've spent hours or maybe even weeks working on and someone had a good laugh at your expense. If you're constantly told that you are not good at something, eventually you just stop trying. It knocks you.

We need original thinkers. There's no question about that, but what we need to work on is our division of creative people and non-creative people. Someone who could achieve great success and fulfilment from painting may never pick up a paintbrush because he's 'not a creative person'.

What we're in need of is a little more positive reinforcement so paint things, make music and write poetry. Create and don't stop creating. If someone says you're not good at something, do it anyway.

Do you consider yourself "creative"?



Stores You Need To Visit For All Your Stationery Needs

"There was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationery." - Charles Dickens

Remember sitting down at your desk in your first lesson, opening up a brand new 'jotter' and writing down your notes. All of a sudden you became the queen of calligraphy... until you turned over to the next page and you could barely read your own writing. Stationery has always been one of my favourite things to purchase. A stationery hoarder. A guilty pleasure if you will. Granted, I probably don't use it as much as I did in my school days but as I work from home, jotting down orders and keeping track of things is a must. Having cute stationery makes this process a lot more enjoyable. If you're like me and you're always thinking about your next stationery splurge, here's a few tips on where you should be shopping and some of my favourite picks.

Paper Chase

I'm slightly disappointed in myself that it's taken me 3 years of living in Leeds to realise that we have a store here but nonetheless, when I did, I was like a child in a sweet shop. I wanted everything. Paper Chase are now one of my favourite places to shop for new pieces. They sell such a variety of different styles- you're sure to find something that you like in there!

Kate Spade

Kate Spade isn't exactly best known for her stationary but she always creates the most beautiful products, whether she's designing a notebook or a pair of killer heels. My first purchase was actually a magazine holder that is currently sitting on my desk lookin' all pretty!

Paper Source

Another holy grail for stationary is Paper Source. I started shopping here for Thank you cards originally and then, one day, decided to look further into their product range and they sell the dreamiest range of address labels and other must-haves if you work from home!

John Lewis

I want to start off by suggesting that if you don't already follow @johnlewis on Twitter, you need too. Or at least check his page out. He's often mistaken for the retail store when really he's just a dad with an unfortunate name and Twitter handle. It'll provide you hours of chuckles, I promise. Now, onto the stationery that @johnlewis doesn't sell but @johnlewisretail have on point. Their notebooks are possibly my favourite of all and they are 100% stationery goals and a must have in your work space.

Let me know: Where is your favourite place to purchase stationery?



I'm Sensitive... But That's Okay

"No. I'm not insulted at all when people call me sensitive. Feeling things deeply is my super power. I'm an empathetic badass." - Unknown

It's been said. I cry at everything. Happy or sad. If there's any type of emotion involved, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be balling (and by that I do not mean rolling in money). Through life, it's always been reinforced that this is a weakness and one that needs to be hidden, not embraced. In fact, thinking about it... 'successful' people (I apostrphize because I have no idea what the real definition of this even is) are always portrayed as having no emotions. Because, surely, any emotion that reaches the surface is simply getting in the way of our next goal, right?

As Elena Herdieckerhoff so perfectly put it: "Sensitivity clearly has a PR problem".

To have emotions for yourself and your own situation is one thing. It’s natural, it’s inevitable but it’s also just as important as those same feelings we may have towards others and their situations: fictional or not. Can we talk about when Marley & Me came out? I was broken for weeks...

It's easy to assume that we have no control over our feelings or that we are 'fragile' but actually, the qualities of a self confessed sensitive soul are highly sought after. I don't believe that having empathy for other beings can ever be a bad thing. It's rather funny that being sensitive is seen as a weakness and yet the ability to 'put yourself in someone else's shoes' is a characteristic that people look for, not only in the work place, but relationships too. Really, they go hand in hand. You can't put yourself in someone's shoes if you have no empathy for them, can you?
The truth is, being sensitive, for the most part, isn't about tears, being easily offended or overreacting, it's a part of us sensitives that we should be encouraged to embrace! We can notice little details that nobody else can, lend a helping hand or just a shoulder to cry on because we care. Oh boy, do we care.

"Highly sensitive" people actually make up for 15-20% of the population and so the idea that we need to "get a grip" in order to function properly in the real world is ludicrous. Being sensitive is a part of me and a part of so many others and so we're denying ourselves the realness and diversity in human nature by supressing those who feel so deeply. The world needs sensitives.

So hand me the tissues and if you need me, I'll be curled up on the sofa sobbing at The Jeremy Kyle Show and you know what? I'm not even sorry about it.



Change Your Outlook, Change Your Life

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Max Planck

It'll come as no surprise that I'm writing this post whilst tucked up in bed, my weekend playlist sounding and coffee in hand. Is it even a day off if you're not still in bed at 10am?

I wanted to talk today about outlook. No, not the email server.. your perception.

While meditating this morning, a thought popped into my mind and if you've been meditating for a while you'll know what I mean when I say that some thoughts are harder to accept and move on from than others. But not impossible- I should add. It wasn't a desperate thought or a dangerous thought just an anxious one about something that had happened weeks and weeks ago. Instead of trying to analyse the thought and figure out why it was there; instead, I changed the way I looked at it. I looked at the thought without question and without judgement and just simply thought "it happened. let's move on." and then, I was able to put that one to bed.
Thoughts aren't always solicited. Anyone who has ever struggled with intrusive thoughts and/or any form of anxiety will tell you this. Sometimes they come out of nowhere and trigger feelings about certain situations you didn't even know where there. The key to working through this isn't to stop the thoughts all together but accept them and do not dwell on them.

The thing you always have control over is your outlook. I know some times this can seem more difficult to digest than others but ultimately the power lies with you. Let your outlook influence the situation, not the other way 'round.

I've always considered myself to be an optimist, admittedly sometimes to a fault (I'm working on it) but I do strongly believe that my outlook on life has brought me more good than bad. Not because I've been in better situations because of it- oh no, but because of the way I chose to perceive those 'bad days'.

"Just like a rubber band, you must be stretched to be effective." - Unknown

Imagine, for a second, that we went through life never experiencing hardship. That we were never tested or challenged and we could do anything that we wanted. Someone once said that you don't grow when you're comfortable and it's something that everyone should think about.

Look back on your hardships and ask yourself if there's anything that you did differently because of that event. I am not insinuating that you should be thankful for said trauma but certainly be accepting of it and see that it actually acted as a springboard in pushing you to the place you are now. Remember, a rubber band can't spring if it isn't pulled back.

I can guarantee that there's been a time in your life that you've thought to yourself "I can't do this" and convinced yourself that you're at rock bottom and yet, you got through it. I'm sure there was a time before and after that you thought the same thing, too. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for, I assure you.



Internal Struggles Of An Awkward Soul

If I was asked to sum myself up in one word it would be: awkward. The way I walk, dance, talk... let's just say, if I'm moving- it probably looks awkward. As I've been mentioning a lot on here recently, this year I want to put a lot more effort into self improvement and a big part of this is looking at yourself as an outsider and evaluating yourself and your actions. Sounds kinda trippy and a bit like a story line from an episode of Black Mirror but it does teach you a lot about yourself.

In doing so, I have tried to embrace this side of myself which, whether I like it or not, is a big part of my personality. Instead of trying to change it I'm dealing with it in the same way that I deal with any other uncomfortable feelings or revelations: laugh at it and make jokes until I'm okay with it. So, I've compiled a short list of internal struggles I go through as an awkward soul. Laugh along with me... Please...
Writing my own conversations in my head before they occur. I love conversations, I live for them but I'm just not very good at them. I could be sat on a bus with the seat next to me empty, riding in a lift or waiting in the queue in Primark, if someone looks as if they are going to speak to me (or just be standing in a close proximity to me- that'll do it too) you can guarantee that within 0.5 seconds I've come up with answers to every question they could possibly ask me. I know the time in case they ask me that. Wording everything so articulately in an attempt to trick them into thinking I'm a confident extrovert with the public speaking ability of Michelle Obama. Until... "Hi! Can I help you?" erm.. no, please, thank you. bye. *drops items on the floor* *runs away* Damn it.

Sometimes I forget how to walk. Are you ever just walking down the street and you see someone walking and all of a sudden your brain is like: do I walk like that? am I walking weird? why am I leaning forward? Posture! Before you know it you're analysing every step you make and managed to convince yourself that you're going to fall. Shh brain!
Even just being silence can make me cringe. So I don't want you to talk to me but I don't want you to be silent either... Silences are often filled with a failed attempt at me trying to make conversation which often consists of a mere observation related to something that you're wearing.

Laughing is my go-to. I know people sometimes say that they have an awkward laugh and I feel lucky enough to be able to say that I think my laugh is pretty standard. I do, however, have a tendency to laugh at everything. It doesn't matter if I actually found it funny or whether it was even intended to be humorous- just laugh. Couldn't hear what they said? That's okay- just laugh.
 Being early to.. well, anything. I feel like anyone who relates to the word 'awkward' should get where I'm coming from with this one. Being early to things is the worst thing, whether it be the first to arrive for a social gathering or waiting to meet someone off the train. Not to mention that cheeky and anxiety provoking text reading "I see you ;)" Ok. Don't look around. Just act casual.

Apologising for everything. This is probably due to a mix of my awkward tendencies and my fear of conflict but I find myself apologising for everything even if the fault lies with the other person. I've had someone bump into me before from being so engrossed in their phone and I've apologised profusely for it... like, what? sorry. sorry. sorry!

But hey, you've got to laugh at yourself every once in a while. Do you relate to any of these?



#SELFLOVE: What's It All About And How Do I Practice It?



regard for one's own well-being and happiness.

It’s often only seen as a meer hashtag accompanying a tweet or nestled underneath an Instagram post in an attempt to avoid coming across as narcissistic but I want to talk, today, about the real acts of self love. How you can incorporate it into your day-to-day lives and why it’s more than just a trend. It's a way of life.

We’re often sold the idea that doing certain things and following a particular trend will change our lives. Whether it be through a 90 day SSS plan or guided meditation. Although there are obvious benefits to these in the ways of health and nutrition, the real game changer that these kinds of trends all have in common is the act of looking after yourself.

Self love is the most important tool in being happy. Can anyone reach true happiness if they don’t love and look after themselves?

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck

As I mentioned in my last post, I want to make 2017 my year of self love. I want to stop searching for happiness in external sources and find it within. Deep thought for a Monday morning, I know. Last year marked the time in which I think I truly started to find myself. What I'm really passionate about, what I want to achieve and what I want to learn.

A part of my life which was completely essential to this was my discovery of meditation. This became my biggest act of self-love and a key 10 minutes of my morning routine. Not only did it teach me to accept my own thoughts, it brought me a calmness which I feel like I've been searching so long for. A lot of stereotypes have been formed around meditation but you don't have to be a Buddhist monk or a tree-hugging hippy to feel the benefits of it. *raising two hands emoji* Hallelujah.

First of all t's important to understand what meditation is. It's peace. It's contemplation. It's reflection. It's the act of doing nothing.

As the world becomes more digital, we become busier. Whenever we're bored we can look for stimulation at our finger tips. When do we ever take time out to do absolutely nothing? Only when we're asleep, right? Meditation provides a completely still and calm environment to look at your thoughts in an idle and non-judgemental way. You can practice meditation in which ever way you feel comfortable. Whether it's sitting down cross legged on the floor, taking a yoga mat with you along to a class or just relaxing on your sofa- it's whatever works for you.

Self-love comes in many forms. However you decide to practice it; remember that you are worthy of the love, life and happiness that you desire. All you have to do is tell yourself that you are.



Self-Assurance In A World That Profits From Your Insecurities

"How can love survive in such a graceless age? The trust and self assurance that lead to happiness, they're the very things we kill." - Don Henley

I'm afraid it's true. Society is fuelled by that awful voice inside your head- when you look in the mirror every morning- telling you that you aren't enough. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand why this form of marketing is so effective but the idea that the world, as we know it, would completely fall apart if we were all 100% sure of ourselves and our abilities leaves a funny taste in the mouth, doesn't it?

The same society telling us that we can be and do whatever we want to do is also giving us the opposite portrayal in the form of ad campaigns. Inferring that we need to lose weight from this part of our body, buy this perfume or shave here in order to be not only loved but simply accepted. As if not checking out your basket is going to leave a void and hinder you personally.
During a conversation with a good friend of mine about addiction, he mentioned a way of acknowledging cravings and digging deeper into why you are having them at that moment in time. HALT. Which is an acronym for Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? This got me thinking: could we apply this same breakdown to our spending habits? And I guess there's something that we can all take away from that to apply to our actions in all walks of life.

Shopping is a form of therapy for a lot of people but we all know by now that things will not lead us to ultimate happiness; they only feed into the lie that your worth is measured by what you have around you without considering what's inside. cliché I know...
I am no less guilty of spending money when I don't need to. By far my biggest expenditure, (besides bills and food- of course) is makeup. I've had a love affair with these products for as long as I can remember. I wear a full-face of makeup whenever I can get away with it.

However, a wave of rage comes over me whenever someone assumes that, simply because I wear makeup, I must be insecure. Sure, I love nothing more than doing myself up before heading out the door but, for me, it's about the creative process of it all. A person who takes enjoyment from creating a new look should be viewed similarly to those using a similar brush to paint a paper canvas. It's an art form. So continue to blind the public with your popping highlight because the idea that you can tell someones character from the way they look is so outdated and misinformed.
That being said- we're all human. Bad days will creep up on you. There's no way to really get away from that. Those figure heads we see putting across a confidence that seems almost superhuman... yeah, even they have days where they find an enemy within themselves. It's sad, sure but it's a very real challenge and a part of our nature that we have to learn to accept and sit with.

"I'm still learning to love the parts of myself that no one claps for." - Rudy Francisco

 2017 will pose new challenges and new opportunities but the one thing I want to focus on is myself. In a non-superficial, self love kinda way. I want to re-frame my mind in terms of the way I view myself and how I put that across to others. I imagine we're all a little guilty of down playing our confidence on our "good days" in fear of being perceived as a narcissist. 

Although you're always going to run into people who have nothing nice to say and the media will forever pick faults with your looks and lifestyle in order to make sales, nobody is as harsh towards you as you are to yourself. Be as kind to yourself as you try to be towards others.

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