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10 Things That You Should Not Let Define You

10 Things That You Should Not Let Define You

I’ll be turning 29 next month which has started a very contemplative phase I like to call the ‘pre-birthday freak-out phase’. It’s around this time that I start questioning where I am, the person I am and the person I want to become.  I know it’s all extremely deep and self-absorbed but I think these are important questions to ask ourselves every once in a while even when you’re not entering the last year of your twenties and flippin’ the feck out.

Self-identity is a can of worms that I am not qualified to open but I thought I would share something that I have come to understand during this haze of panic:

Most of us want to be the best person we can be

Right? We all want to be remembered as being kind/generous/successful people but in the quest for this achievement we can lose sight of what truly defines us. We allow ourselves to become focused on circumstances that we believe to be a crucial part of who are when in fact they are only the stepping stone to being that person. We are always changing as people through the experiences we have but we can’t benefit from these lessons if we are unable to see past our situation.

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I have been guilty of this recently. By nearing 30 I have wondered if I am where I thought I would be by this age. As a teenager I had no concept of time and predicted I would be earning a heck of a lot more, be married, own my own home with maybe a wee bairn on the way. I haven’t achieved any of that but should I let that define whether I am successful or not? Absolutely not.

I honestly believe it is my actions and treatment of others that define who I am. I believe it is the love that consumes me for my family and friends that defines me. I believe it is every experience, heartbreak or euphoric, that defines me. I believe it is the people who I have met and the stories I have heard that defines me. I am made up of all these things and will continue to be made up of more as I grow older and love more.

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Here are the things that I am choosing to not let define me and hopefully you won’t let define you either…

Your Job

As a doe-eyed university student I dreamed of becoming a hugely successful wildlife conservationist and travelling the world as David Attenborough’s understudy (I dreamed big!). Of course I could still become a conservationist if my heart desired but my career has led me down a different path that I am OK with. I am working in the financial world now, an industry I would have turned my nose up as a young environmentalist but I have chosen this career because I know it will help me progress to where I want to go. You might not like your current job or you might be a little disappointed that you’re not where you thought you would be instead focus on where this experience will get you to. I don’t allow my job or how much I earn to define me because I have a whole life outside of work that I believe contributes to who I am too.

Your Marital Status

I am a part of a group of friends who are slowly getting married off one by one and I have been beyond happy watching them commit themselves to the people they love. However, I hate the feeling that people wonder when ‘I’m next’ because it’s as if the happiness of my own relationship is then questioned because we aren’t yet married. We shouldn’t use any relationship as a measure of success, married or otherwise, because it will only lead to an unhealthy dependency on using another person to define who we are. We are all individuals and should always treat ourselves as such when considering our own worth.

Your Age

I know a few of you reading might scoff at me panicking about turning 30 but I think we are all victims of allowing our age to define us. Our age can stop us from making decisions that might change our lives because we either believe we are either too old or too young to accomplish them. We might feel we are too young to question our peers in the workplace and not worthy of the respect we deserve based on our merit. We might feel we are too old to leave a toxic relationship because it will mean we need to start all over again. Your age isn’t you. Those big bold choices in life are what define us and age should never be a barrier to that.

Your Appearance

Honestly the amount of times I have stood in front of a mirror and felt disgusted is too many times to admit but it has happened. I have scrolled through Instagram wondering why I have this pouch that will refuse to leave or why my legs are like wee stumps instead of remembering that the pouch isn’t really all that big and my legs are actually quite toned. Our appearance might be the first thing that people see but the impressions we make go beyond what we see in the mirror. When someone greets you they are looking for the kindness in your eyes, the warmth in your smile or how easy you are to talk to. Your features do not define you.

Your Health

This one may not be specific to some people but I had to include it because it’s relevant to the perception I can have of myself. Having Cystic Fibrosis means that I often feel like I have little control over my life and therefore people’s perceptions of me. I hate that I might be thought of as ‘sick’ because I don’t want my illness to define who I am or what others think of me. I am so much more than a girl who has a bad cough! And you too shouldn’t let your own health define the expectations you have of yourself. So what if you might not be a good runner? You might be better suited to yoga or a gentle swim. Ease up on the pressure and remember that just because you might not be able to run a mile in few minutes doesn’t make you capable of other great things.

Your ‘Stuff

Social media now means that instead of just reading about celebrities in magazines we now have full access to their daily lives. Product after product is being churned out to ‘influence’ us to buy while trends move so fast that sought after items are often outdated by the time we can afford to buy them. We have been a consumer society for a long time now but the pressure is getting a bit ridiculous and we shouldn’t think that buying nice things means we truly successful. I honestly believe our hard-earned money should be spent on experiences because those moments are what should define who we are and are what we will remember when we’re reminiscing in our rocking chairs (when we’re unfashionable no matter what we buy!).

How Many Friends You Have

When I was younger I tended to measure my worth by how busy my social calendar was. I loved having loads of friend and a weekend jam packed with plans which in the end left me feeling exhausted. Now that I’m approaching 30 that need to fill time isn’t quite as potent because I have decided that quality is more better than quantity when it comes to friendships. I have a small group of people around me who I adore and by putting my energy in to those relationships I am left feeling a lot more fulfilled (and I also have more time to myself which I love!). The same goes with social media too. For a while there I definitely felt under pressure to have as many followers as possible and would feel disappointed when I didn’t see the numbers increase the way I wanted. I have come to realise that you need your tribe online just as much as you do in the ‘real world’ and it doesn’t matter if you have 100 or 1 million followers, as long as you have good people engaging with you then that’s what really is rewarding.

What You Consider as Smart

My little sister Shannon is, without a doubt, the funniest person I know. She is so quick-witted that even the smartest people can’t keep up with her! Having such a quick mind means she’s always intuitive and has real common sense and yet despite all of this obvious intelligence, Shannon would never consider herself as ‘smart’. Growing up in western society taught us that intelligence is often measured by success in academia which means that we have a distorted view on what constitutes as smart. Being smart doesn’t mean you can answer all the questions in University Challenge (I have a mini Mexican wave if I get one answer!), have a degree or listen to classical music. You might have a brain for business (like my Dad who is dyslexic) or you might have a true talent with numbers. Don’t define yourself by how many books you’ve read but rather how you use the talents you know you do have.

Your Mistakes

Oh Jaysus, how often I have punished myself for the stupid things I have done or said. I have tortured myself thinking that people’s opinions of me have changed forever on the basis of a single act of stupidity especially as a reckless youth. I have started to discover though that people actually forget mistakes a lot quicker than you do and it’s how you recover from these mistakes that define you the most. Don’t worry that people will always attach your mistake to because they won’t.

Your Race/Religion/Sexuality

Growing up in Northern Ireland, people often used religion to identify themselves and even today there can still be an ‘us’ and ‘them’ language used by many. I was brought up as Catholic and my boyfriend was brought up as Protestant and although neither of us would describe ourselves as religious, it was still a bit of an adjustment for a few family members. In a perfect world we would all be viewed as the same but of course racial tensions are stronger than ever, sectarianism in NI still exists and LGBT members of the community still lack the rights that all humans should have. Despite this we should not let our race/religion/sexuality define who we are. We are more than just a label and if we are united in encouraging that mindset then maybe one day we can live in a society that starts seeing the person behind the label.

 

Have you any thoughts on this? Is there anything in your life that you refuse to let define you?? 

 

Is It Wrong To Be Selfish?

Is It Wrong To Be Selfish?

Last weekend I had a full weekend without any real plans. I woke up on Saturday with the sun filtering through the curtains, stretched my legs out and relished the thought of not having a whirlwind itinerary ahead of me. Living an hour away from my family and most of my friends means that my weekends often involve me rushing down the motorway in my car and trying to catch up with as many loved ones as I can. While it’s always lovely to see my favourite people, I am usually knackered by the end of it and recently I’ve been feeling deflated on a Sunday evening because the weekend had rushed by me in a series of hurried get-togethers.

 

I accepted long ago that I am an eternal people-pleaser however I realised recently that the reason I had been sacrificing my weekends mooching about my own home and lie-in’s in my own bed was because I felt guilty. I had imposed these obligations upon myself because I was afraid what others may think of me if I dedicated a whole weekend to myself and didn’t make the effort to see anyone down at ‘home’. I have this very real fear of appearing to be self-involved and this has led me to live a life that doesn’t always feel like my own.

 

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But what is truly wrong with being selfish? In a time where self-care is the new YOLO, it is becoming more and more apparent that selfishness is not a quality to be revered but in fact requires a lot of courage to embrace. Our generation might be regarded as the most self-aware but this self-awareness is a result of constant competition whether it be through social media, job insecurity or the sheer amount of options we have to choose from.  While having these options is a luxury our parents (or grandparents at least) fought for us to have, there comes with that the overwhelming feeling of never being enough. Am I working hard enough? Have I travelled enough? Am I good enough friend/partner/parent? Am I happy enough? The gap between the life we are expected to live and the life we are truly living seems to be widening which has resulted in more of us experiencing anxiety that is specific to the social changes our generation are facing.

 

My problem seems to be the need to keep others happy. By imposing these expectations upon myself to be the best version of myself that I can be, I have ended up losing touch with what truly makes me happy. I recently read an article by Raymond Nourmand who eloquently put that the less someone’s reaction affects you, the more selfless a place you are giving from therefore in order to be truly selfless we must be truly selfish. Who knew eh???

 

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The next time you are feeling selfish for prioritising your own happiness, give yourself a good shake and instead congratulate yourself! By making the effort to fulfill your needs you are actually caring about yourself which is the ultimate step to being a better person. And this applies to me and my moments of guilt when I haven’t trekked home for the weekend. Taking the time to do something (or nothing) for myself will only make me a nicer person to be around and the time I will be spending with family and friends will be feel a lot more enjoyable.

 

If you identify with anything I have said and would like some ideas on how you can be a more selfish person, I’ve included some tips on when you should choose you over anything else.

 

When you’re too exhausted to meet a friend

Don’t force yourself no matter how long it might have been since you last saw them. They deserve the best version of you, not the too-tired-to-function version who will be ready to sleep after the first sip of wine. Good friends will always understand.

 

When you’re stressed in work

Taking annual leave during a stressful time in work can feel like you’re going against your instincts but this should only highlight how important it is that you need to take some time out. We are all entitled to these days off so you shouldn’t feel guilty in the slightest. By taking a few days off to unwind (and for the love of Jeebus do not check your work emails) you will feel so much more capable to handle the difficult tasks you had left behind (and they actually might not be as difficult now that you’re chilled!).

 

When you’re a parent

I was thinking that the parents amongst you might have chuckled to yourself when reading this post since you have the least amount of time to be selfish as anyone! I don’t have children so please forgive me for trying to give any advice on parenting but I do think that to be the kind of parent you had hoped to be (before the permanent exhaustion and reality hit you like a tonne of bricks), you have to put yourself first now and again. Most parents have a decent enough support system through friends/family/partners and so you should never feel guilty about using this. Make a point of scheduling some time on your own once a week – even just for an hour – like you would any other essential appointment. You are still you and you deserve to remind yourself of that as often as possible.

 

When you can’t say no

If you’re a people-pleaser like me this can be a tough one. I hate letting people down and will often find myself in difficult situations just because I can’t say no. The thing I have started to learn is that people won’t immediately dislike me if I can’t always do what they want me to do and will probably forget it fairly quickly (while I stress about it for days after). If you don’t want to do it, then don’t. Simples, right?

 

When you’re on holiday

Going on a trip with people can be the best way to share memories but there can sometimes be a clash in terms of expectations. Some people love to lie on their backs as close to the sun as possible and others like to cram in culture in to every minute. There’s no shame in either but there’s also no shame in parting ways for the day and doing the things you want to do. Travelling is the perfect opportunity to live the carefree life you don’t usually get to live at home so to avoid any disappointment don’t be afraid to speak up and do your own thing.

 

Have a lovely weekend folks!

What Not To Worry About #25

What Not To Worry About #25

I missed doing this post last week. It’s a post I look forward to writing because it’s the only time I allow myself to focus on the little things that I needlessly stress about and ask myself why I even give them the time of day. It’s easy to lose perspective when there are a million worries running through my brain:

Is it someone’s birthday soon?

Do we have enough milk for tea tonight?

Did I defrost the chicken?

When is my tax up on the car?

Is she annoyed at me for that thing I said?

Why do I get spots in my late twenties?

Am I making a difference?

Do I like where I am?

 

This madness can consume me if I allow it to but I think just being aware of my thoughts is one step closer to getting better control over them. Yes there are always going to be things to remember and yes I will have a random memory about one time when I was hammered in 2009 that will torment for the rest of my days BUT I can acknowledge the thought and then move on. I am usually a fairly laid back person but when one area of my life is suffering then the small things seem to become larger and more overwhelming.

 

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The best thing for me to do in these cases is to remove myself from the chaos and find somewhere quiet to just be for a moment. I have spoken before about the importance of prioritising these moments of solitude because it’s my way of regaining a bit more stability and understanding that it’s all going to be OK. When things are going rough we can have a tendency to focus on the present and lack the foresight needed to understand that it’s not permanent. Instead of spending time worrying about things that are out of our control, wouldn’t it be much better to acknowledge them for a second and then brush them off? Wouldn’t be much better to give ourselves a break and a moment to appreciate all that we do? Yes, I think so too.

 

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All photos by the lovely Rebecca of A Clothes Horse

And with that in mind, here are a few of the worries I am letting go of this week.

 

Not having a dog

This is a fact that makes me sad sometimes but not having a dog also means that I don’t have to sit in work feeling guilty all day knowing that my wee furball is lonely. Also means that I don’t have to be dragged about in the rain to walk off energy. Still can’t wait though.

Always forgetting my bag for life

I feel like the worst environmentalist in the world when I pull up to the shop and realise that all of my bag-for-life-bags are in that wee hole in the kitchen where we stuff them all. I curse myself every time and buy another one to add to the collection.

Cop cars

Why do I feel like an instant criminal as soon as I see a cop car? I haven’t done a thing wrong but all of a sudden I have an urge to escape from them at the earliest chance. Creeps.

My love of bread

With the bikini season well and truly here I have given up on the idea of washboard abs and will not be saying goodbye to the carb-filled joy of my heart. Bring on the baguettes.

People who play it safe

You know those people who pull a ridiculous face when you suggest doing something out of the ordinary? Like when someone asks what you’re doing for the weekend and you say that you might go camping which induces a look of pure horror. “Sure it gives it to rain for a half an hour on Saturday!! Are ye mad? Oh no, you wouldn’t catch me at that now. Oh no, sure ye’d be drenched in thon rain! No, I will be sitting up in the house there and staying put so I will”. Arrgghh!!

 

And that’s it for this week! Anything you are choosing to let go of???

What Not To Worry About #22

What Not To Worry About #22

Happy Monday folks! So that’s the summer over eh? I woke up to the sound of rain this morning and I have to admit it was a little bit nice. Of course I’ll be wishing the sun back in a day or two but waking to the sound of rain pattering against the window isn’t a bad way to start the day and the week. Until I stepped outside to make a mad dash for the car, cursing myself that I always leave the umbrella in the feckin’ car.

 

Last weekend was a busy one, spent ceilidhing with friends and family as I performed my fortnightly whip-around Armagh. Although I’ve lived in Belfast for a few years now, most of my family and friends are still down in Armagh so I make the trek down the M1 as much as I can to avoid becoming known as the city snob – country folk can be cruel! It’s always a jammed weekend filled with countless cups of tea and biscuits but after living abroad for years I love being a short drive away from the folk that make my heart happy.

 

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I spoke in my last Instagram post about the concept of home and how transient the idea feels to me. As a child (is it weird to call yourself a child when you’re 28??) of parents who are no longer together and with no childhood home to return to, I often mourned the ‘home’ that I once knew. I used to feel a pang of jealousy when seeing friends return home for the holidays to the house they grew up in but why did I yearn for convention so much?

 

I decided that home doesn’t have to be built of bricks and mortar but can be found in relationships, experiences or even memories. Over the years I have created many homes for myself; in the student halls of Edinburgh living off potatoes and not much else,  in a hostel with my two best friends as we hilariously attempted to travel South East Asia, in the red dirt of Western Australia and in the ocean alongside it, on my sister’s couch watching trashy TV while we take turns cuddling her dog, playing Scrabble with Andrew in front of the fire on a winter’s night. And even after moving on I still left a part of myself in these places, with the people I chose as my family while I was there.

 

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And here I am, back within arm’s reach of the town I grew up in, frolicking in the orchards of my childhood (and getting pictures taken by photographer extraordinaire Rebecca) surrounded by the people I grew up with. This might be my home again for another while but just like the apple blossom that appears and disappears in a whisper, this too could be temporary. And that’s OK because a piece of me will always be here.

 

Here are a few more things I am choosing not to worry about this week…

 

Have a great week!

 

Crap Clothes Pegs

You know you’re getting old when you a sunny day delights you mostly because you can dry your clothes outside again. But why are clothes pegs the flimsiest things on the planet? I feel like Thor when they break at my very touch and then I have to fumble for another while I’m trying to keep the bedsheet up with one hand. You’d swear I was a Victorian housewife!

 

Junk Mail

I had an Avon rep come to my door to collect a catalogue she had dropped off and I had to confess that I’d thrown it in the recycling bin like an insolent child. She looked so hurt and I felt so ashamed that I’d thrown it out when I hadn’t even asked for it! This is why junk mail is the worst.

 

Duvets

We’re getting in to the warm nights where duvets become smothering devices and I have to hang one half of my body out of the bed to regulate my body temperature. It’s still too cold for just sheets so we have to live in this limbo until one of us chucks the duvet out the window in a sweaty hissy fit. I can’t wait for that.

 

Movie Nights

Andrew and I will settle ourselves in for a movie night once a week which I naively look forward to every time until I realise it takes us half a day to decide what to watch. We have bajillions of movies on the server waiting to be watched but we can never seem to pick one and furiously Google ‘best movies of all time’ for hours until we’re too tired to even watch anything. Couple joys!

 

Snooker

Who in their right mind can settle themselves in to watch that tripe on TV? Do you have to be male and over 45? It has got to be the most sinfully boring thing on this planet. In my own opinion of course.

 

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What Not To Worry About #21

What Not To Worry About #21

A whole week of sunshine transforms the mindset of the Irish people. We become unnaturally positive as we pull all of our furniture outside to the garden with naive enthusiasm, attempt to have a BBQ without at least one argument and pretend that the midgies aren’t so bad really. We understand that weather this beautiful is not to be taken for granted and while some might have the audacity to say that it’s ‘too warm’, most of us can’t believe our lucky stars when we wake up to another blue sky.

 

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There is this fervour of activity that occurs when the sun is streaming down on us. We fear that we aren’t doing enough to make the most of the sunshine when in truth all we should be doing is stopping to savour it. We don’t need to book a weekend away or take half of the house with us to the beach. The best way to enjoy this weather is by not putting shoes on for the whole weekend while we potter between our garden and the indoors. This is how I spent my Saturday; by stripping the beds and throwing all the windows open, sitting on the back doorstep to listen to kids playing on the street, cooking a fry for brunch, going through all my unused cosmetics (man, how good does it feel to throw out crap you don’t use?). Bliss.

 

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Sunday was spent outdoors with my sister Shannon when I realised I had to sit in an office the next day. She collected me from my house and took a spin to Dundrum with Bella in the back to keep us company. It’s not often that we get to hang out like this just the two of us but she is probably the person I feel most at ease with in this world. We can sit in total silence and it will still feel like quality time together.

 

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On our way back to Belfast we passed a rapeseed field that was bursting with colour against the setting sun. Being the Instagram lunatic that I am, I convinced her to pull the car over and have an impromptu shoot. She didn’t need much persuading to be fair as she’s as big an addict as I am and so we leapt about the yellow flowers like a pair of eejits. It was the perfect way to end a sun-filled weekend.

 

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I hope you made plenty of Spring memories this weekend. And here’s a few of the worries and stresses I am letting go of this week…

 

Getting an Ed Sheeran song stuck in my head

The man is everywhere and even though I might face the wrath of his army of fans by saying this…. I don’t like his music. Galway Girl is like listening to what Americans think Irish music should sound like but holy Moses it can really get stuck in your head. The man is a musical evil genius! I find myself bursting out in to song as I type out an email and feel instantly ashamed of myself. Damn you Ed!

Spring Winds

To quote every person in Ireland, “Aw Jaysus boy, sure she’s warm when you’re standin’ in an aul trap but once you’re in the shade thon wind would cut ye in two”. Translated as: “Yes, you’re quite right, the weather is splendid however if you were to step in to the shade you would find it rather chilly really”. I like the Irish version better though.

Flies

One of my Dad’s pet peeves of the summer. And mine too if I’m to be honest (not cynical I swear!). One morning during the week I woke up to the sunlight filtering through the room which was the loveliest way to wake up until I heard this steroidal blue bottle attacking our curtain like a monster. What a jaw-clencher.

People that complain about the heat

As I mentioned above, these people are the worst! They yap all winter about how you can feel the cold to the bones but when the temperature lifts above 15 degrees you would sweat it was Doomsday. They’re out fanatically watering their precious plants as if the gates of Hell are about to open at the bottom of the garden! Chill out folks – we live in Ireland and it will be raining again in no time.

Walking on mopped floors in socks

*Shudder* – is there anything worse than damp socks???

 

Have a lovely week!!!

 

What Not To Worry About #20

What Not To Worry About #20

Happy Tuesday!

 

I really enjoyed those little cluster of long weekends we’ve been having this past month. Not that I have been doing anything overly spectacular with my time but it’s the ordinary little things that have been making me happy recently. Spending lots of time with family and friends. Enjoying lazy mornings on the couch drinking lots of tea and writing. Going for mini adventures somewhere local. And sunshine!!

 

It took me a long time to appreciate the mundane because throughout most of my twenties I was seeking the extraordinary. The adrenalin from new experiences, new faces and new landscapes. As my twenties are dwindling I am able to appreciate the predictable moments because they are spent with the people who I want to be boring with. That is home to me. And even if I wander again I will always be brought back to the the ordinary moments that make my heart happy.

 

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Last weekend my family assembled to help my Granny Una celebrate her 90th birthday. We piled in to my aunt Susie’s and ate the most amazing food (there were about a million desserts) and I held a wine glass that never seemed to empty. The house was full of stories; some I’ve never heard before but most I have heard hundreds of times. We all sat around in a circle at the end of the night taking turns to play the bard and sharing jokes – a traditional end to an Irish gathering where I usually flounder because I am terrible at remembering jokes. It was a great night to be surrounded by

 

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But my favourite part of the evening was the quick chat I had with Una in between the photos we were all competing for. As to be expected on her 90th birthday she was feeling particularly reflective and she told me of her time in the Women’s Royal Navy, the most cherished years of her life. She talked of living in Egypt. How she still remembers hearing the music from her camp near the Suez Canal and the heat that seemed so different to the Irish sun. After three years in the WRN’s as a morse code operator she had to return home to look after her elderly mother. A decision she now says was both the best and worst of her life. It changed everything for her.

 

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I will cherish that conversation for the rest of my days because I saw in her more than just my grandmother. She was a wild one once and she too had that unwillingness to settle for the ordinary. She had hopes and dreams just like I do now. She was unsure of her choices and the path she was supposed to take. I felt closer to her than I ever have.

 

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This week I am choosing to let go of a few things but mostly I want to remind myself that I don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s OK with not knowing it all for now. Here’s a few of them…

 

Not Remembering Jokes

As said above I am shite at remembering jokes and quietly seethe with jealousy when people can roll a dozen off their tongue. How can you fit all of them inside your brain?! Remembering to brush my teeth is enough of a challenge.

 

Forgetting To Brush My Teeth

Until I’m all cosy in bed. It’s the worst when I get all snuggly and then realise that I don’t taste minty and then I have to drag myself from the cosiness. Personal hygiene is such a nuisance sometimes.

 

Crap Lunch

I’m trying to be really good and not spend money on lunches in work but sometimes it’s just plain sad when all you have is a few spinach leaves and tomatoes. Even a jam sandwich seems exciting these days.

 

Sunglasses

I will never complain of sunshine. NEVER. But because I live in Ireland it means I am always unprepared for the good days and always have to fish out sunglasses from the year before which are never there because I always lose them. Why are sunglasses so hard to retain? Of all my accessories they have the shortest lifespan. Or gloves. Damn seasons.

 

Never Having Change

I’ve fully embraced the modern life and use my card everywhere I go. It isn’t until I am in a carpark or a charity asks for money that I am reminded that people still carry coins. Why can’t everything just be a tap away from payment? Coins are cumbersome and just make you jingle so they should be altogether eradicated.

 

And that’s a wrap! Enjoy the rest of your week folks!

 

 

What Not To Worry About #18

What Not To Worry About #18

Hello friends. How are we this Tuesday? Feeling fresh as a daisy or did you reach for the covers this morning to hide away from the morning light? I’ve been feeling a little knackered lately and my body has been telling me so in a few different ways; cough is a little worse, I have developed a very attractive rash on my belly and I have been in my PJ’s before sundown the 3 few evenings. Hot stuff.

 

So overall I have been better but at the same time I have definitely been worse. There are so many wee things that are lifting me back to where I am happiest – a few little ailments won’t tear me back down. The last few weekends have been permeated with sunlight, the coats have been shed and I have definitely welcomed the return of daytime cocktails. It’s all good right here.

 

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Last weekend was a mix of good and bad behaviour. Friday was spent with friends tasting delicious beer at a local brewery which escalated in to a night of dancing and a few too many whiskies. I tried to exonerate myself on Saturday with a yoga workshop at Flow Studio which was nothing short of tingly loveliness. I learned so much and forgave myself for the debauchery the night before until I wolfed a chicken goujon supper after and then I was right back on the road to Guilt Town.

 

On Sunday we discovered a new slice of heaven at Mahee Island which blew lots of good sea air in to my lungs and made me smile from ear to ear. I love stumbling upon new corners of this country especially when they’re so close to home. Mahee Island is actually a part of a bunch of tiny islands in Strangford Lough and is only about 15 minutes from Belfast so it’s the perfect Sunday escape from the city. The islands are connected by narrow bridges with water surrounding every view from the road – it felt like we were so much further from home.

 

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Having a quick jaunt to the water is the best way to clear the head of negative thoughts and these are the thoughts that Mahee Island cured me of this week…

 

Hearing My Voice Recorded

There is truly no other sound that can make me want to pull my own ears off than the sound of my own voice. When I hear it recorded I try to imagine why anyone speaks to me or why I have any friends at all. The reason I mention this is because I have recently started to record myself on Insta stories and so the fear is very real but like any fear I just have to get over it and hope that I don’t drive followers away in their hoards!

Hospital Appointments

I have THREE hospital appointments this week. THREE. Three times I will have to wait in a crappy waiting room with nothing to read but Woman’s Own or ancient posters about COPD. Three times I will have to talk to medical staff who have been whittled down to a point after years of listening to the moans of others. Naturally I’m super excited about it especially the extortionate car park charges which I never seem to have the change for. But I will not let the negativity get to me!

Man Cables

Andrew is a hoarder. He hoards the most random of technical stuff which he stores in most corners of our tiny house. He thinks if he puts a lamp on a drive drive he can try and disguise it as a table but he ain’t fooling anyone. This week I decided that his pile of cables/keypads/LED lightbulbs will no longer torment me so I shoved them in the cupboard under the stairs like a good housewife.

Itchy Feet

No this isn’t another ailment but refers to my wanderlusting ways of the last few weeks. In my spare time (and by spare time I mean when I’m shovelling my lunch at my desk) I have been researching a new adventure and emailing Andrew links and ideas. He seems to not care quite as much and every evening I browse Airbnb beside him in the hope it might interest him a little. I think I’m just going to have to book his flight to the Philippines which I think he might be OK with.

Deseeding Avocados

Is anyone able to do this without fear of decapitating their fingers? I can barely look down when I’m making my guacamole! Scary business.

 

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And that’s it for this week folks. Wishing you a super lovely week filled with copious amounts of cherry blossom pictures and a little more sunshine 🙂

 

5 Ways to Get Out of the Winter Funk

5 Ways to Get Out of the Winter Funk

Hello friends, it’s been a while. I am well aware of the fact that I’ve been neglectful of this wee space over the last few weeks and I want to use the excuse that it’s because I was without a laptop (no lie – it was more difficult being without Pinterest more than anything!) but in truth I was in the middle of a major funk that I am only starting to resurface from. I’m not sure if it’s the weather and my neediness for Spring to be here already but whatever it was it really dragged me under.

 

When I get in to this negative mindset my confidence and motivation are the first to go. I become lazy in just about every area of my life which only makes me feel worse about myself. I am the eternal optimist in the eyes of my friends and yet when this fog comes down I turn in to the person I least want to be; needy, insecure and just a little sad. I don’t really know what triggers the fog but I do think being cooped up inside and forever yearning for a sunny day does tend to influence my pattern of thought – living in Ireland doesn’t help this at the best of times!

 

This state of limbo is not something I talk about often because it doesn’t really happen that often. It’s so common for people to feel this way at this time of year; we’re all waiting for the chill to leave us and for the sun to warm our souls again. But why shouldn’t I talk about it? Because I might share a part of myself that I don’t like? This part of me that’s far from perfect and far from the positive shiny person I want people to see me as is not something I should be ashamed of. Learning to like ourselves is such a necessary step to happiness and so accepting these little negatives is a lesson I will always be working on.

 

The weather is turning though and I can feel the weight being lifted already. Right now I’m writing with speed for this first time in what feels like ages and my fingers can’t keep up with the ideas that are flowing out. Yes spring is here. Actual sunlight is streaming on to the table I am writing at and I can see blue skies from my seat. How good it feels when we can finally see the light at the end of a tunnel we didn’t think would end.

 

Of course the dark moments will come and go but they are always a temporary blip that I shouldn’t pressurise myself to get out of as quickly as possible. I will endure them at my own pace. I will talk as much or as little as I feel I need to. I will like who I am even when I feel I shouldn’t. I will be the first person I am kind to each day.

 

If you are feeling a little burdened by our long winter and are in need of a little positivity to help guide you in to spring, then try a few of the below ideas that I turn to even when all I want to do is throw my jammies on!

 

Make Plans

Every Sunday I like to make my plans for the week which can wreck Andrew’s head because it means planning his as well! But knowing that I have people to see and fun things to look forward to allows me to get excited about the week ahead of me. Surrounding myself with people I like reminds me that I am in a much better place than I think.

 

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Practice Yoga

I went to my first heated yoga class last week and walked out with my mind and body buzzing. I was soaked in sweat but I also felt like I shed a tonne of baggage that I hadn’t realised I was carrying that day. I have known how much good yoga brings in to my life for a long time but the heated class only heightened the positive change. Please try it out! I couldn’t recommend the Flow Yoga Studios in Belfast enough but there are sure to be classes near you if you’re not in the city.

 

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Do A Little Good

I am lucky enough to volunteer on the ‘Time to Read’ programme but to be honest I feel like the children do more for me than I do for them. Watching their confidence grow and the wee improvements they make over time is such a joy and it’s usually one of my favourite parts of the week. You don’t need to volunteer to do good, all it takes is a drive to make someone else’s day a little better. Bringing a smile to someone’s face will surely bring a smile to yours so it’s win-win all round.

 

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Notice Pretty Things

Being a self-confessed Instagram addict means that I am always looking out for the beauty in the things around me. Some people might think that Instagram can create a constant need to share everything and can lead to comparing ourselves to others (which is never a good idea). But keeping an eye out for the little things that I might usually take for granted encourages me to appreciate the corners of my wee world.

 

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Get Outside

Yes Ireland brings an awful lot of rain but this also means that there are endless fields, rivers and forests to get lost in. My favourite place to clear my head is Helen’s Bay. It’s my spot where I go to on my own to feel the sand, let myself get battered by the sea winds and watch dogs lunge themselves in to the waves (dogs make me SO HAPPY). Make time for those solo moments of gratitude, a time to sit and think of nothing. No internal arguments you will never actually have. No memories that make you feel bad. Just your own piece of wonder near you which makes your heart sing a little. Feel free to use mine if you don’t have your own!

 

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Do you have any methods of bringing a little lightness in during the darker moments? Any ideas that will always guarantee a happy head? Would so love to hear them!

 

 

What Not To Worry About #15

What Not To Worry About #15

Hello fellow Monday people! How’s the heads? Are we starting off positive or are we stumbling wildly in to the week wondering where the weekend went? I’m planning on starting the week off with a fresh head after a slow weekend filled with family, friends and lots of food. Here’s hoping I can carry it through to the end of the week!

 

The main reason why I feel a little lighter this Monday is because I was able to be a part of a pretty special event last week that I am still beaming from. The Assembly Gathering is an inclusive community workshop founded by Mel Wiggins which encourages those seeking an environment in which they can inspire and be inspired by other creative women. I have spoken about my tenious relationship with this side of myself in a previous post as I have struggled to acknowledge that I am, and enjoy being, a creative person.

 

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Having seen posts about the first event in autumn and reading about how wonderful those who attended came away feeling, I promised myself I would jump at the chance if there was another. You can imagine then how delighted I was when I saw tickets released for the winter gathering a few weeks ago and of course I wasted no time in registering. I went on my own and didn’t feel an ounce of nervousness about that since the very reason I was going was because I was doing something just for me. Putting myself in the rare position of being ‘me’ in a crowd of unknown people wasn’t so terrifying when I knew how supportive the environment would be.

 

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The gathering was held in the Boundary Brewery, a coop based in East Belfast and when I entered the room I was blown away by how pretty a brewery could be! Grace & Saviour had transformed the place in to an ethereal wonderland, an Instagrammers dream! We were taken under Mel’s wing and split in to 2 groups; one group learning the wonder of natural dyeing with Colour & Cloth and the other learn about the brewing process by Sheena from Boundary along with a few sneaky tasters.

 

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Christine from Colour & Cloth provided us with our silk scarves and we started off learning about all the amazing natural products that can be used to dye materials which as it turns out is an exhaustive list. I chose to use teabags for mine and folded the silk using pegs and elastic band to create psychadelic patterns (I hadn’t a notion what I was doing really but sort of hoped for the best). The colour came out beautifully, almost a grey-gold and I used it as a table runner for yesterday’s Sunday lunch!

 

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After we tasted some pretty delicious beer, we were spoiled with a spread laid out by Little Pink Kitchen. The cutlery alone had me sold but the food was outstanding from start to finish. And the conversation that was had around this feast was something that will stay with me for quite some time. We were given some questions that were in a wee bowl in the table to help guide the conversation but to be honest the discussions were already so open and honest that we didn’t really need the help. We spoke of what we felt we were lacking or allowed to hold us back, what we dreamt of doing and what our creative fears were. Incredible stuff.

 

Obviously I came away rejuvenated and full of plans. To connect with like-minded people is such a joy and it made me realise how I needed more of this. This time of year is where I can feel a little demotivated and unsure of myself and now I feel like I know more than ever what I want to be doing. I am so incredibly grateful to the gathering for getting me to this place.

 

And so I shall continue on with my usual ‘What Not To Worry About’ post to let you know the little worries I am shedding this week…

 

Unwise Outfit Choices

This time of year is a little cruel for fashion because I begin to get restless with being covered in endless layers. After Lisbon I got a taste for skirts and light clothing again and forgot myself when I came home. I quickly realised that skirt season is definitely another wee while away and so I will have to suck it up and make do with panicking every Sunday night to make sure I have enough tights to get me through the week.

 

Rainy Weekends

What a dull and wet weekend we had! Save for a sliver of sunlight on Sunday afternoon there seemed to be no hope of a bright weekend. It’s beginning to get a little tiresome but it’s weekends like this that encourage slow paced activities which felt exactly right for me this weekend. On Saturday we pottered about the palm house in Botanic Gardens and yesterday we had family over for a Sunday Roast. Nothing to complain about here.

 

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Nervous Chat

After the gathering I realised I am not so great at striking up conversation. I usually enter with a joke and I am quickly relieved when the other person doesn’t slither away in disgust. Why do we do this to ourselves? I have to keep reminding myself that in those situations the other person is more than likely thinking the same thing and so I shouldn’t be too embarrassed. And my jokes are OK sometimes!

 

Weak Handshakes

This can give me the heebie jeebies especially in a professional scenario. Weak handshakes are just weird. Stay firm people!

 

My Stationery Habit

I found my new favourite shop on Saturday.  is a lovely place on the Lisburn Road and it’s chocked full of beatiful designs. I wanted everything but I settled for a gorgeous notebook which seems to be the only thing I come away when I find my new favourite shop. I can’t help myself!

 

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Wishing you all a great week!!

 

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Live Wild & Free

Live Wild & Free

I was about ten years old when I accepted that I was different from other children. It was when I learned that having CF meant I wouldn’t have a normal future and that I would always have to be mindful of my health. I think being aware of my own mortality from such a young age encouraged me to be grateful for every moment that I had. Yes, it was probably a fairly big burden to have as a child but it instilled in me the wisdom to believe that life can be brief but beautiful.

 

A friend of mine lost her life this week and although I have always been aware of the shortness of my own life, it didn’t prepare me for the shock of losing a friend the same age. When someone has their health and lots of people who care for them, it’s difficult to understand how they can feel so alone and lost. Mental health is an enigma to so many of us yet 1 in 4 of us will suffer form a mental health related issue this year – why are we still struggling to understand?

 

A young woman taking her life has rocked my friendship groups and the community I used to be a part of in Australia. As they are united in grief they are united in knowing that life is not endless. It is fragile, fickle but above all it is fleeting.

 

My advice to anyone who has lost someone, or who is scared of the future, is this: let the fear wash over you for there is no fuel like it. Fear is what we need to live a life more wild and free. We are not meant to be confined to one path but to take many paths that we are lucky enough to have in front of us. Our hearts our there to be broken, our skin to be weathered and our brains to be exposed to as much learning as we can squeeze in to it. We have all lay in bed I am sure, terrified of the future and how little control we have but we have more control than we give ourselves credit.

 

The problem for most is change. Change can often be a scary thing which is what stops us from leaping from our singular path and in to another. We are creatures of comfort and afraid that we can never turn back. We can always turn back but what might be most surprising of all is that once we’ve made the leap, we won’t want to. Embracing change encourages us to accept the unknown and that is what can free us.

 

If you feel like you are lost or alone please look around you. Not only are there people surrounding you who love you now, there are people who are yet to fall in love with you who you are. We make so many wonderful connections in our lifetime, connections that change and later define us as people. Humans are not solitary creatures. Enjoying our own company is hugely important but there is too much good within us all to be contained. We need to share the love we have and align ourselves with people who only make our light shine brighter.

 

So today let’s live wild and free. Be the you you want to be. Grab your coat and feel the wind batter you. Listen to a song that makes you dance like a mad thing round the house. Watch the sun rise with your morning cuppa. Tell your loved ones when you’re thinking of them.

 

Yes, life is brief but it is also flippin’ spectacular. And there is no burden in that.


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