Overcoming My Fears

This year I’ve committed to watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and it’s genuinely bringing me so much joy – especially in lockdown. Should fame ever come my way, I would love to be a contestant on that show – come on manifestation, do your thing! I’ve always considered myself to be quite adventurous. Having camped every summer whilst growing up, I would bat away badgers, ants and cope with treacherous weather, among many other challenges! The premise of I’m A Celeb, comes down to overcoming your fears. We are only born with two fears; the fear of falling and of loud sounds. So it’s interesting to think that everything else is learned, and that most are irrational. During my early adulthood years, I accidentally discovered one of my fears (I suppose that’s the way they all are discovered though). I say “accidentally” because it’s genuinely something I discovered by accident, and it took me by surprise…

A few years back, I was on holiday in Cyprus enjoying the sunshine and tzatziki (although not together), having the time of my life. One afternoon I went on a boat trip. This was my very first boat trip abroad and it was very different than the kind you go on along the River Thames; there was sunny weather and crystal blue waters for a start! There was a portion of the boat trip where you get off and swim in the sea. Here there are two options for how to get into the water. You can either enter by climbing down the ladder (easy), or you can go to the top of the boat, climb over the railings and jump in. I’m sure you can see which direction this story is going in…

My boyfriend told me how much fun the second option was, and me being me, I was up for trying something new. It’s not that big of a drop, about 15 – 20 feet, I thought to myself. So I took off my sunglasses, made my way to the top floor of the boat, all the while feeling calm and collected. I then watched my boyfriend climb over the railing and turn to me with an encouraging smile. I put one hand onto the railing, when my legs suddenly turned to jelly. At that very moment, that scene in Titanic where Rose almost jumps off the ship came to mind. “Nope, I’m not doing it. There is no way I am flinging myself off this. Not for me. No thank you!” was the physical reaction my body was having, before I even got around to saying the words aloud. After a minute or so, I took a deep breath, and I climbed over. I kept a firm grip on the rails behind me, and I stared at the ocean. (Side note: My hands have gone clammy and my armpits have even begun to sweat as I write this!) I was reluctant to let go, but I did not want my fear of this thing that I’ve never done before, to get the better of me. Eventually after a lot of encouragement from my boyfriend and even the other guests on the boat, I psyched myself up. I jumped into the water, which was complete with a mighty scream. This very (dramatic) jump had much of the other guests in fits of laughter, and I think I may recall a bit of clapping and whooping – although that part may be a bit exaggerated. As I emerged from the water, I realised nothing bad had happened to me in this moment. I’ve continued to force myself to do that jump many times since, and it gets a bit easier each time, (although the thought of this now still majorly freaks me out!)

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Mist Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park

Evidently I have a fear of heights, combined with the fear of falling. Strangely enough I’m fine on planes, but if I go into a glass elevator you will most definitely witness my panic. No word of a lie, I have noticed onlookers laugh at me in amusement, at my minor freak out during the course of a five second glass elevator journey. This same scenario has played out in theme parks too. I love that sense of adventure and enjoy fast roller-coasters, but any ride where I am up super high, followed by a steep drop terrifies me. The perfect example here being Rush at Thorpe Park, and don’t even get me started on some of the rides I went on at Six Flags in California.

I can also vividly recall one hike in Yosemite along the Mist Falls trail leading to Nevada Falls. On this hike you climb beside a waterfall. The water sprays create a mist, resulting in a rainbow appearing the higher you climb. I love being active and I especially love the outdoors, but I couldn’t bear to look down the whole time we hiked. At the top I felt a sense of satisfaction, but it was the hike back down which I found the most challenging. If you want to see my internal panic, there was also a similar moment I captured during my Wales Vlog at 7:01 – 7:18. On the Yosemite hike, there was however a humorous moment which broke my tension. I was trying my best to hold back the tears and a fearless girl who must have only been about seven years old, marched right past me, brave as can be! Who knows, it could have been the Ghost of Christmas Past, reminding me of what I too used to be like as a child.

So what have I learned? Well, I know I will continue to force myself to climb a few more peaks in the future. I will also try to push myself to do more things that scare me. Throughout each of these moments, I persevered and I certainly don’t regret doing any of those activities. I’ve learned that quite often on the other side, once you push through the fear and discomfort, that’s where growth lies.

However, should I ever have to abseil down a cliff backwards like they did on I’m A Celeb, I would probably react the same as Jordan North and let my nerves get the better of me. Nonetheless, I know that I am far stronger and capable than I give myself credit for and I should not let my fears hold me back – whatever capacity that may be in. That being said, I can’t imagine myself jumping out of an aeroplane just yet… Maybe one day!

What’s one fear you have tried to overcome? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and it made you smile! If you liked this post, you should subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m talking about. Remember there will also be more content coming your way Monday – Friday throughout lockdown, so don’t miss out!

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How To Start A Blog (& What To Expect)

So you want to start a blog but not sure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! By now you have probably read several posts on why you should start a blog and if it is hard to do so. To answer both of these questions, yes you should and no it’s not! The hardest thing to do is to get over your fear of sharing your work. I’ve been writing my blog for the last 3 years and frankly, I wish I started it sooner. When I write, hours feel like mere minutes and when I look back on my old posts I can tell just how much my writing has improved. I’ve connected with bloggers all over the world and despite what you think about it being over-saturated, there definitely is a space in the blogosphere for you!

“Where do I start?”, I hear you ask. I’ve broken it down for you in the below checklist so that hopefully it won’t feel as intimidating:

Checklist

1. Blog purpose
You may have heard people say pick your “niche”. But let’s start in a more general sense. What topics will you be writing about? Will it be fashion, plants, women in tech, cooking, baking, travel on a budget, lifestyle, arts &crafts, health & wellness? The list goes on! Once you have decided on this, think about what type of blogs you like to read or would want to read. Will your blog’s purpose be to educate, entertain or perhaps be review based? Once you’ve figured this out, it will help you discover what kind of voice you want your blog to have.

2. Blog name
Once you have decided what you want to write about you can begin thinking about your name. There are lots of name generators online, but if you’re stuck I’d suggest to begin writing a few posts and see what name best reflects the pieces you have written. Then you will need to do a bit of research to see if your blogs name (domain) is available (see point 3).

3. Platform
There are lots of great blogging platforms to use. I use WordPress but there is also Blogger, Wix and Medium to name a few. WordPress has lots of good free templates and packages to choose from. Not sure if you want to invest in blogging right away? That’s ok! There are lots of free templates and a free packages available. Once you have chosen your platform, it will let you search to see if your name is available, and if not it will suggest a list of some alternative names to use.

4. Content & Blog Design
I’d suggest to have a draft post written when you start designing your site, start short between 350-500 words. This will allow you to see what template and style you like best as you start bringing your blog to life. There are so many designs to choose from! I’d recommend to start with the free templates unless you are 100% sure what design you want.

6. Photos
Don’t be shy and add some photos to bring your blog to life. There are so many free stock photos you can add, but get creative and share your work. You don’t need to show your face if you don’t want to and you don’t need an expensive camera. Take photos on your phone and play around with editing them on free apps like Adobe Lightroom or VSCO.

7. About Me
Feel free to add an “About Me” page which should include an introduction to your blog. Why did you start it and what can people expect? Keep it short and snappy.

8. Share!
Perhaps the scariest of them all is sharing your blog with people you know and strangers. It took me 6 months to share my work and tell more than 1 person about it. Then I got too scared and didn’t write for a long time. Ignore the little voice in your head telling you your work isn’t good enough and that people will laugh. Why you started your blog is bigger than this voice. To name a few reasons, for me blogging is a great creative outlet, a wonderful way for my friends and family to keep up with me, a weekly challenge and a fab way to look back on old trips. Share your blog across social media to begin with, maybe set up your own Facebook page, a new Instagram etc. These are free and easy ways to grow your readership.

So what should you expect at the beginning?

  1. You may have some tech issues and frustrations at the start, but remember you’re learning something completely new and YouTube is your best friend!
  2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stick to a rigid blogging schedule. Yes, it does help to tell your readers how often you will share posts, but let your creativity come naturally otherwise it just won’t be enjoyable and you will probably give up more often.
  3. Posting more regularly will help increase your blog traffic (i.e. views). In January 2019 I wanted to get back into the swing of blogging so I did a month of daily blogging and I saw a big surge in views.
  4. Unless you already have a large following across your social media, the likelihood is that you will slowly build a readership. But Rome wasn’t built in a day!
  5. Don’t focus on the stats of your blog too much and don’t compare yourself to big time bloggers or influencers. It look a time for them to get there.
  6. Concentrate on writing about what makes you passionate, not what you think people will hear.
  7. Yes you can make money from blogging in the long run, but it likely won’t be lucrative at the beginning. It will be dependent on how many people view your blog monthly, what you are offering to your readers, if you use ads, affiliate links, work with brands etc. But do not let this put you off!
  8. Go at your own pace and again, DO NOT COMPARE.
  9. How long does it take to write a post? Well, how long is a piece of string? I can spend anywhere from 2-6 hours writing and editing my blog posts. Most of my pieces are very lengthy though, so that’s probably my own doing and it depends on the style of the post, e.g. a short story takes much longer to write and edit than a smoothie recipe blog post!
  10. Lastly, remember to enjoy and welcome to the blogging community! Let me know if you’re new to the world of blogging and let’s connect!

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50 Things I Learned At University

1. Locating your on campus secret take-away after a night out is a must. Mine was known as “The Hatch”!

2. Cooking dinners in batches and freezing leftovers is such a time-saver.

3. Do not skip your turn taking out the bin. There will 100% be maggots if you do.

4. Going back home in the Winter you realise just how warm your actual house was, and you will never complain about the heating at home ever again!

5. If you decide to go back home when you are feeling ill, it will soothe the soul and get you back onto the road of recovery!

6. Pay the delivery charge and order your food shopping online.

7. Find a local Costco or Bookers if you can. You will save your wonga on bulk buys!

8. Student discount shopping nights are fun, but then you realise as a student you’re kind of poor so can’t afford as much as you think.

9. Every night of the week can easily become a “Student” night out.

10. Every year I returned back to university for Fresher’s Week, only to realise I can’t attend any of the events and just spent it going to the local pub instead.

11. You do not need to start finding a house for 2nd or 3rd year until after Christmas. There will always be enough housing!

12. When you do start to look for a house, either pick to be close to campus or close to town. Don’t go really far away just to save money.

13. Do a lucky dip to decide who gets what room.

14. Whoever had the smallest room the year before, gets the biggest room the year after!

15. Put yourself in charge of the utility accounts and bills. It’s a pain to make sure everyone pays, but at least that way you can avoid fines.

16. Make sure you enjoy your new town/ city! Go out to eat, see a show in the local theatre, go to gigs etc.! You are only there for a short period of time.

17. Don’t dip into your overdraft if you don’t have to! It’s a slippery slope.

16. Prepare food to have at home after a night out in advance. Or just get cheesy chips. Cheesy chips are life.

19. Make time to see your school friends at their university.

20. Check in on your home friends even if they go off the radar. Leaving home is hard. Check in.

21. Make the effort to call your family.

22. Missing your 9am lecture isn’t the biggest deal.

23. Make sure you do try throughout your whole degree. Although 40% may only be required to “pass” first year in the U.K., it will make second year a lot easier.

24. Not doing well in a subject? It’s time to grow up, admit it and do the work. Find a buddy to help tutor you, go to the library or stay at home more. Wherever it is that helps you focus the best, make sure you study!

25. You don’t need to buy every text book.

26. If you do buy every textbook, you don’t need to buy it first hand.

27. Have a think of what you actually want to do after your degree in advance, rather than hoping for the best.

28. Put yourself out there and join societies.

29. Not everyone will like you and that’s fine. You will not like everyone either.

30. Stand up for yourself and find your crowd. You are awesome – remember that.

31. Not everyone finds a big group who will be their “friends for life” at uni. Remember, it’s better to have a few good ones than a whole bunch of fake ones.

32. Club nights can be lethal and somewhat overpriced.

33. Take photos. Even if you don’t want to. It’s fun to look back on.

34. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

35. You don’t have to be best friends with the people you live with.

36. It’s okay (ish) to skip some lectures but not seminars – that is way too obvious!

37. If you drink the supermarket’s cheapest wine for long enough, you will not realise just how bad it is. Until the next morning…

38. You can wear whatever the heck you want on campus.

39. It is perfectly acceptable to stay in your dressing gown all day at home.

40. Pre-drinks always beats going out.

41. For your own sake don’t plagarize.

42. A set of speakers and a deck of cards is all you need for a good night.

43. Free pizza and Krispy Kreme sales on campus may come at a price of charity donations or local campus elections.

44. Always back up your work.

45. “Spotted At [insert your town] University” was like a discount gossip girl.

46. Napping is a part of university culture – I think I missed out here!

47. Group assignments will still be a pain just like when you were 14 years old.

48. Never compare or look up the answers after an exam. File them away into a little box away in your mind and crack open a cider instead.

49. The weekly fire alarm drill test will give you a mini heart attack every week!

50. University will go by really quickly. Before you know it it’s 4 years since graduated …

There are still so many things I could have added to this list! I hope you enjoyed this post and will subscribe, like and comment if so!

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A Not So Blue Monday

Monday 21st January is apparently the most depressing day in the British year of 2019. I suppose this makes perfect sense if you consider that we are coming down from the highs of Christmas, the joy of that weird in between week on the lead up to New Year where time seems, well – timeless. That is until now. Where we find ourselves (impatiently) waiting for our next paycheck, as we reluctantly admit that the resolutions we set some 20 days ago are now proving a tiny bit tricky to hold. To top it all off, the weather is cold; we wrap up in our wooliest hats as we face those zero degree temperatures on our way to work. Before you know it, your curiosity to “just have a look what’s new in knitwear online” crosses your mind, and you’re dipping into your already low dispensable income to buy even more but totally cute and (un)necessary knitwear on the train, just to soothe your pain of starting and ending your working day out in the dark. I definitely sensed this Blue Monday slump among the other commuters on my way into London this morning.

Although this does all sound rather bleak, and frankly makes me want to just throw on my dressing gown (because a dressing gown solves everything from a hangover to the meaning of life itself) and admit defeat as I turn on yet another episode of Friends, longing that I too could join the gang in Central Perk and drink coffee all day and wait for it… not have to work! It’s then pretty surprising when you find out that Blue Monday was actually intended to inspire individuals to spark change and make bold decisions in their lives. So, as I sat there on the train this morning, picking up on the low and tired energy of my fellow commuters, I got thinking about all the ways I can make bold decisions in my own life. I was also lucky enough to attend a motivational talk at work by Muireann Carey-Campbell, otherwise known as Bangs, from her blog – Bangs and a Bun. Bangs gave me even more food for thought on how we can do this – (the inspiring changes part that is, not the hanging out with Rachel and Monica in New York part!) So, in order to spark some change in your life and reinforce this as a habit in mine, here are a few of the tips that I am pleased to say I either learned from Bangs’ talk or are my own tips that she too reinforced in her own witty, insightful and realistic way.

“Small steps make big changes” – Bangs and a Bun

Feed the Hanger
First and foremost, I find I’m the most productive when I make the time to have breakfast. Not only does it feed the hangry lady who lives inside me at 7am, but it helps me get focused and kick-starts my metabolism for the day. Set aside an extra 10 – 15 minutes of your morning to have a good breakfast, it’ll do you wonders.

Sleep is Not for the Weak!
I have no idea why sleep is meant to be considered a bad thing! I’m more alert and find myself much better company and more productive when I’ve gone to sleep by 10:30/11pm. Bangs also emphasizes how sleep is so crucial for us to be able to function and how we as a society need to break the idea of, as NaS puts it that, “Sleep is the cousin of the death”.
Bangs’ Tip 1: Bangs also expressed my enthusiasm for sleep, despite being a raging insomniac herself. I’m happy to see I’m not the only one!

Plan Ahead
I always plan what I need to achieve and complete the next day, in advance. I.E. before I leave the office, I write a list of what I want to achieve tomorrow. Similarly before I go to sleep at night, I set reminders on my phone or add to my “Notes” on my phone, to give me the helping hand I need to remember to complete my own life errands, such as to ring the dentist/ book a gym class/ take a break (yes, I plan that to!) or whether it is to prepare my lunch for work the night before. My only issue at the moment is that I need to be more strict with the allotted time and try to be more consistent in following through on them.
Bangs’ Tip 2: This tip was the overarching theme of the talk, that small steps make big changes. For example, one goal of mine this year is that I want to eat healthier and save money, so I know that if I prepare lunch at home I’m one step closer to doing both. Although I’m not at my super organized stage at the moment, planning small and realistic steps to the overarching goal is definitely a smarter approach in achieving them. Plus it means I won’t completely give up on my healthy eating when I decide to treat myself at lunch time!

Journal
Bangs’ Tip 3: She recommended to write down three things that made you smile or happy today. Some days there will be so much and others it may feel like there are none. Nonetheless this is a really nice challenge for us to reflect on to find the good in our daily lives.

A Start Date
Don’t be afraid of saying your goals out loud, scientifically you’re so much more bound to achieve them if you do.
Bangs’ Tip 4: Sharing your goals makes you accountable for them. She emphasized to put it out there in the Universe by sharing it with a good friend, or someone you can trust. This will make you accountable for it and your friend can give you the push or encouragement and faith in yourself that you need when you begin to slip.

Move
Back in October, I made the conscious decision that I wanted to start taking better care of my body. I love how much stronger, refreshed and clear headed I feel after a workout. I’m lucky enough to now have a gym at my work with various classes on offer, so there is no excuse. However, typically in the past I wasn’t a “gym person”, so I used to either go for a walk every lunch time in my local park by my old work for 30 minutes, or go for a run after work or mix it up by doing an at home Pilates class by following a YouTube video. I can confidently say that this really helps me beat my blues and is a great stress reliever!

Bangs’ Tip 5: With pure passion, Bangs lit up the room as she explained how achieving our goals is directly linked to movement. Bangs discussed the joy that toddlers experience when they first learn to walk; they love discovering what their body can do and every time they fall, they just get back up again, arms waving in tow. Finding some kind of activity or sport that speaks to you and brings you joy is so important! It also teaches you self motivation and resilience. We’ve all had that moment where we think that we’ve given that run all we can, or we have reached our max on how many press ups as we can do. That is until we find the strength within ourselves to go that bit further, to give it 5 more. Similarly, within our own goals, movement can teach us how small and often changes can lead us to our goals as well as give us the emotional strength to overcome the challenges that we may face in our personal lives.

Acceptance
Bangs’ Tip 6: Something that didn’t spring to my own mind, that Bangs articulated so eloquently was accepting what we didn’t achieve, but still seeing the good. For example, I didn’t pack my lunch for work today instead I bought my lunch from the canteen at work, but instead of shaming myself for spending that money, I appreciated that I caught up with one of my colleagues by chance when I was there. It was really nice to just take a moment out of our day to have a chat and share a laugh together. I accepted that although I didn’t save some of my money today, I did build a relationship more, and I’m okay with that.

Rest & Rewards
Bangs’ Tip 7: Take time out of your “goals” to do something completely different. Watch a film and switch off for 2 hours. You deserve it! Take the pressure off yourself and remember you don’t have to consistently be “on”. As much as consistency pays off, Bangs reminded the group that it’s all about balance and you have to give yourself some time off to have fun, so that you really can be your best self!

I hope this blog post gave you some realistic but inspiring ideas on how to make some bold and attainable changes in your life! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

You can find Bangs and a Bun here and you can sign up to attend her spin classes here. If you enjoyed this post you should subscribe and read:

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