Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Significant things that happened this year...

As I mentioned in my previous post, I haven't really been present for a lot of this year so far. I'm having to rely on pictures and conversations with friends to really jumpstart my hazy memory.
But so many things have happened without me really realising it.

  • I went to Canada. OH YEAH. Derp. It was ace and I really want to ski again because it feels pretty freaking awesome.
  • I became a Yogi. My friend said to me, "It's funny, you never really ask somebody if they do Yoga, but they always find a way of telling you they do"! That cracked me up. It's so true. No I don't drink green smoothies, I still eat meat (and everything in sight), I don't pay for extortionate yoga classes; but I do practice most days at home on my mat thanks to the fantastic females Bad Yogi and Yoga With Adriene
  • I worked on lots of fun TV shows, films and adverts. I've been a registered 'support artiste' (extra) for a while now so I finally get offered the good stuff and have a lot of juicy stories to tell that I have to keep my mouth shut about until they all come out. *Zips mouth*
  •  I had my heart broken. Yikes. It was awful. We were coming up to three years, I thought we'd be together forever, I thought that was it. NOPE! Life has a funny way of showing you what's not to be via a big fat smack in the face sometimes. But I survived. I will move on and I will heal, in time.
  • I hiked a goddamn mighty 100km in 28 hours for Oxfam. It was amazing/painful/never ending/impossibly hard but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. And we raised over £2000, so yey!

Bloody did it!
Getting to hug my best friends at the end

  • I moved out and found my own house (shared, obvs, this is London) in a new area. Me and the naughty kitty have finally settled in to our smaller home and we love our new housemates. Hurrah!
  • I threw a pretty epic Hen weekend away for my best friend. There was a pool. There was a seaside view. There were seven excitable females, a LOT of indulgent food aaaand of course some penis paraphernalia and hilarious hen games thrown in too.


Bundle on the bride!

  • I decided to write an album. Because, breakup material! So many sad songs. All of the feels. It'll be out in 2045 ;-)


Songs!

  • My best friend got MARRIED! And I was maid of honour along with our other best friend, 'Sinead of  honour'. It was one of the happiest days of our lives and I almost exploded with love and joy for all the brilliant people that were together in one place. Now we're wondering what on earth we'll all talk about after that!



Well that's me for now. Here's to a great Autumn and Winter next I hope! 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Coming back to life

I guess you could say I'm thawing out.
I feel as though I've been frozen in time. Watching life going on whilst I potter around, waiting for the ice to melt.

Describing depression to somebody who's never experienced it before is difficult. It's hard to make people understand the way our bodies are often working on auto pilot; we're there, but we're not really there.

It's a very dark place where no matter if the sun is shining, and if the ones you love are around you laughing and enjoying life, you can't help but be deafened by those unkind internal voices that say 'you're a failure, you have no future, you are just awful. Everything is awful'. It seems an impossible task to shake off those dark, heavy clouds that engulf you from the moment you wake.

The problem is I'm actually a really happy, funny, positive person; but I suffer from major depression. Much like many seemingly 'normal' people do.

You don't chose to be this way, you just get lumbered with an illness, much like your friend who has diabetes, or your next door neighbour who has cancer. A mental illness is no less important than a physical illness. It certainly takes enough lives so it is sad that it's not talked about as much as it should be.

I don't know exactly when it started, or when it left, or whether it was really there for the whole time or not; but it was there. And it broke up my life and left it in pieces. So now I have to rebuild it again and try not to fall into the same patterns that led me to getting so bad in the first place.

Now that I'm out of the thick of it I can appreciate once again that life is a gift. Depression is an illness of which there is no magical cure, but with the right people around you, the appropriate self help (medication, therapy, mindfulness - whatever works best for you) and the patience to ride out the turbulent waves, it is possible to come back to life again after a major depressive episode.

I'm looking forward to easing myself back into work again and being kind to myself about the fact I'm taking on a fraction of the responsibility and pay I had before. I'm looking forward to being maid of honour for my best friend's wedding next week. I'm looking forward to writing more songs to complete my album. I'm looking forward to finding somebody who loves me for all of me, not just my good side.
Most importantly, I'm looking forward. And that's enough for me for now.
Cue the cheesy motivational Pintrest quotes ;)


**If you're suffering from depression, anxiety, or any kind of mental illness and you want a place to talk openly, without judgement with likeminded people, please feel free to join our friendly One in Four community here.** 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Learning to find my balance

 I have never been a very consistent person. I’ve always swung from extremes, either utterly obsessed or totally uninterested in something. This has an effect on my moods too, so I tend to either be very energetic and full of good ideas, or totally down in the dumps and avoiding all human interaction. Cats are always welcome, of course!

So lately I’ve really been working on trying to find my balance. Trying to establish that pesky middle ground, see how it feels and keep myself there.
I’ve been really into Yoga since starting up the 30-day challenge in January, and I’ve pretty much been attempting it every day since then. (See my former comment about obsessions!)
I really hope this one lasts though, because out of everything it helps me to feel the most grounded, most peaceful and, coincidentally, the most balanced.

In homage to my inability to find this happy, calm medium; I have been focusing on headstands and handstands. Somehow my logic tells me if I can balance my body well, then in time I can balance my mind too.

Coming from somebody with little to no upper body strength, this has definitely been a challenge! But I am really enjoying the journey. Who knew it could be so calming being upside down?!

Yesterday something brilliant happened. I floated myself up effortlessly into a stable headstand and held myself there for a good 30 seconds, breathing mindfully and smiling as I realised what I had achieved. So today I thought I’d give it another go and try and get some progress shots in too so I can keep tabs on my home practice. Hey presto! Another successful headstand! I’m sure they won’t always come this easily, but for now I’m enjoying pushing myself and feeling the rewarding affects of my dedicated practice.



Maybe soon I’ll crack this whole balancing thing after all ;-)



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Canada eh!

This post is epically late, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen!

Life has been pretty all over the place lately - more on that in another post. For now, here's a few observations from our awesome two weeks around British Columbia, Canada.

1. Whistler mountains are 1000 X SCARIER THAN EUROPEAN ONES! If you're a 'real' skier or snowboarder instead of an amateur like me, you'd probably pee your pants with excitement with the prospect of hurling yourself down either Whistler or Blackcomb mountain. For me though, who only ski'd(?) once on a school trip to Austria 10 years ago, I was peeing my pants with sheer fear.
Still, after day one and two of intense pain, concentration and mouthfuls of snow, I really began to settle in and have loads of fun on all the many crazy blue and green runs they had to offer.
We also got to zipline down a mountain one of the days with SuperFly Ziplines, and even though I was initially terrified, it was such a brilliant (and very easy) experience I would definitely recommend for all ages!

PRETTY BLOODY HIGH! 

I hired my skis from the super helpful, lovely guys at Affinity Sports in Whistler centre and loved them. They were really affordable too, I think £75 or so for 5 days hire. Shame I can't say the same for the EXTORTIONATE lift pass! ;) Affinity also had an offer on that enabled us to 2 for 1 at SuperFly which again just made us love them more.

2. Canadian weather is possibly even rainier than the UK.
We got wet. A lot. If you're looking to hike and sightsee and do super fun water sports, don't come in Jan/Feb. Or, if you do, invest in some good Goretex gear! It was perfect for snow sports, but not ideal for all our walks.
Vancouver looking a little gloomy!
3. Canadians are just as friendly as people say. Maybe even more friendly. We got a free upgrade at our incredible farm location on Vancouver island, we got free sake from some friendly people next to us at a Japanese restaurant we got chatting to, free entry tickets to local attractions, and just brilliant, smiley service everywhere we went. (And then we came back to London. SIGH).
Our B&B on Vancouver island came with a complimentary fat cat! 
4. Ignore the people who say go to Victoria on Vancouver island because it's 'so quaint and British and there's lots of lovely tearooms'. I'm sorry, but there are tons of incredible places on the island to explore (Tofino, Goldstream park, erm, other stuff) Victoria was just incredibly small and underwhelming for visitors. A cool place to live perhaps, but not for visiting for more than an afternoon. We did enjoy the museum though!

5. Ceasers are delicious, as is Maple syrup. And Tim Hortons. And sushi. ALL THE FOOD IN CANADA IS DELICIOUS. Canada is basically just brilliant and you should all go.


MAAAAPLE SYYYYRUPPPPP!
Side note - if you wanted to copy our itinerary because, well why wouldn't you, it rocked! Just drop me a message and I can wax lyrical about all the brilliant places we stayed in in Vancouver, Malahat on Vancouver Island and Whistler. You're welcome! ;) 

Monday, 19 January 2015

Oxfam Trailwalker and other challenges

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year (and forever onwards really) I want to make sure I'm really pushing myself to make the most out of life and myself whilst I'm around on this here planet earth.

I stumbled across Challenge Sophie a few weeks back and I was so inspired by her hunger and determination for adventure and endurance. The things she gets up to and writes about on her blog just blow my mind. If I ever met her I would probably definitely bow down in admiration of everything she's done so far.


'Later that night I got to thinking' (Carrie Bradshaw voice), how am I going to get my puny body up to scratch and set myself some cool challenges? Negative thoughts about living in London and not out in the wilderness aside, I forced myself to be practical and have a think about things that I enjoyed and wouldn't make me scream 'I HATE MYSELF' after the first 30 mins.

I spent a few days researching 10k runs as well as watching all of the promo videos for Tough Mudder 2015 (which looks INSANE by the way). Then, just as I thought I'd made up my mind, Ben introduced to the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge. 100km hiking across the South Downs in under 30 hours, day and night, non stop walking. 'I can do that', I thought. How hard can it be? I love walking! Then I went on to read all the information and do some proper research and realised it's pretty bloody intense. Plus, the two friends we're considering doing it with - as you have to be in a team of four in case one of you keels over or something - want to complete it around 20 hours. No pressure guys!
So, this soon became our first big challenge of the year to focus on.

We headed out for our first practice hike just to see if we'd made a terrible decision or not. Turns out I love hiking! We walked 19.08km from High Barnet all the way back to our house in Tufnell Park in just under four hours, following the Dollis Valley Greenwalk we found via this website.

We kept our pace fairly easy for the first one with no stops for food just lots of grazing. (Mmm beef biltong and dried mango). The walks along the river and through the woods were great but there weren't many hills for me to really test out my new boots and new found yoga strength(!) I think it helped that I'm currently reading Wild, so I basically pretended I was Cheryl Strayed walking the PCT for a day and I had a great time! (By the way if you haven't picked up the book yet and you're into travelling at all, BUY IT NOW!)
The day after I was fine, just a tiny sign of a blister on my little toes. The same can't be said for old man Ben though, as he's still rubbing deep heat into his shins and complaining about the pain!

The Oxfam Trailwalk will take place on the 25th and 26th July this year, so hopefully we'll have lots of practice walks as a team to report on before then and we will need lots of sponsorship help too, but more on that in due course.

What are your challenges for 2015? Do you want to join us for the Trailwalk?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Canada planning

Woooohoooooo it is now just 12 days until we go to Vancouver for two weeks! Though in true backpacker lazy person style, we've left pretty much everything up to the last minute.

We decided in December to finally visit the great land that is Canadia! After my closest uni friend went travelling out there, 'found himself', turned gay, married a man and now lives out there full time with a sweet as apartment and a couple of cute ferrets, Ben and I decided WE WANT A PIECE OF THAT! Maybe minus the turning gay part, but we'll see.

Ben (other/better half) is an avid snowboarder and - as he so cringe-worthily noted when we first met - 'grew up in the mountains', so I'm still astounded to this day that he's never been there. I, of course, never wanted to shell out the extortionate airfare and have previously always favoured warmer holidays. But hey, a girl can change.

We managed to find flights from London to Vancouver for an astounding £846 return for the both of us!!! Via Skyscanner and Air Transat. I'm still questioning whether these flights are even for real or not as they are so much cheaper than all the others. I guess we'll see in two weeks?!

The plan then is to head straight up to Whistler in our hire car (from Dollar) for gay pride weekend (ON ICE!) and spend a couple of nights at our friends' cabin a short drive from Blackcomb mountain.

Whistler looks incredible and I cannot wait to get out on the mountains after not skiing for 10 YEARS! I'm expecting to be the worst person out there, so I'm already prepared for that. As a fall back plan, I've also been looking into visiting the Olympic park and having a go at bobsledding. Yes, mostly because of cool runnings, but can you blame me? It looks immense! And my wardrobe is already 80% spandex, so I'm pretty sure I'm off to a good start.



Oh and then there's this...


*poops pants*

After Whistler (if I can ever prise Ben away from the snow) we have a good couple of days to play with where hopefully we'll catch up with another friend who's out by Powell River and do some sightseeing. Mental note: we should probably book our accommodation for this pretty damn soon!

I found us a really cute apartment block back in downtown Vancouver for the last four nights of our trip so we can actually spend a few days alone to see the place at our own pace. For this I finally made my first booking via Airbnb! The complex has a hot tub, swimming pool and gym all for free, along with what seems like so many other places over there. London seriously needs to have a word with itself, our rent is more expensive than this place and definitely does not have a hot tub!

Cue excited squeal

I'm hoping to get lots of hikes in as well as day trips to Vancouver Island, Victoria and wherever else anyone suggests to me. I've been told quite a few national parks will be closed due to the season, but I'm remaining positive that there will be plenty to do still :)

Do you have any BC travel tips or suggestions for us? We'll be there for two weeks and we hope to cram as much in as possible. For now, to the snow centre in Hemmel to remember how to ski!




Thursday, 8 January 2015

Reflections- and not recognising the you that you see.

2014 has been a strange year.
I got promoted. I left that job. I got a new job. I moved into my boyfriend’s house in Tufnell Park. I fell into depression and anxiety deeper than ever before (those two are unrelated!). We adopted our awesome ginger kitty, Louie. We travelled briefly around Croatia and France. I got put on antidepressants and had a lot of sick leave. I continued to feel deeply unhappy and lost in life. We then spent New Years relaxing and planning how to start making the most out of life again.



I've tried the normal life. I have tried forcing myself to fit in amongst my fellow London 9-5'ers; surviving on a diet of Netflix, dinners out, living for the weekend and, of course, pay day. But no matter how I try to convince myself it'll feel normal or good eventually, it doesn't.

So, this year I suppose I am on the pursuit of happiness. (Aren't we always?)
I want to be able to look in the mirror, recognise who I see and be proud of that person. I want to grab my life with both hands and shake it until I feel awake again.

I know I'm always going to have this illness, but I don't want to let it consume me as though letting it win is easier than fighting for the life I deserve (Obviously some/many days I do, but I have to fight this urge).

I haven't set New Years resolutions as such; I just started to feel a little better over Christmas and started plotting ways to shake myself out of this slump.

It begins with strengthening my weak body and mind with a 30-day yoga challenge from DoYouYoga.com. I'm now 6 days in and despite the pain I absolutely love it. Yoga - when you've found the right teacher (bow down Erin Motz) - makes you feel so strong. And running too. Running is basically meditation for people who can't keep still. Perfect for me!

I've also just left my 'new' job, the one that I hoped would be perfect for me. I won't go into it as it makes me quite sad (and nervous that I don't have anything else lined up), but hopefully I will now be able to focus on my health and figure out what makes me happy in this time.
Cue standard inspirational Pintrest quotes ;)
Next up for us is Canada at the end of the month, so lots of planning is to be done. And from there on, the rest is a blank canvas for now!

Here's to 2015, may it be a lot happier and healthier than the previous.

If anyone has any Canada travel suggestions by the way for near Vancouver/Whistler, please fire away!

Ps. I know this blog is very irregular and inconsistent, but that pretty much sums up my life so that's just the way it's going to be I'm afraid!