Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Lessons Learnt

As we find ourselves looking up at the clock waiting for it to strike twelve, we end up reflecting on the year that has passed by and wondering what the next one has in store for us.


For many, we use this time to think about the friends we've made or the ones that we have lost. We think of the progress and the setbacks that we have been faced with and how we behaved at these times. But most importantly we think about what we want to change or what we want to improve for the future.

What many people fail to grasp is that to make a better future, we need to learn from our mistakes.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for welcoming in the new year- especially with those that you care about! But I think we forget sometimes that the only way to change our bad habits or negative outlook is to think over our previous actions of the year and see how we can change them for a happier future. So often you hear of people vowing to make change only to fall into the old routine that they were trying to get out of in the first place. (To find out how to stick with new years resolutions click here)


Image courtesy of Google

With a new year comes new opportunities- it comes with the chance to make a fresh start, to put into action the things that we having been dreaming about but have been to scared to actually GO for- yet if we don't take the time to actually sit back and think over all that we have been through in the year or the lessons that we have learnt, we can't progress and move on with our lives. If we don't make peace with what has happened it holds us back and rather than be able to fully look forward with what's to come, we distract ourselves with pointless 'what ifs'

So while you find yourself welcoming in new beginnings don't forget to also say a proper goodbye to the year gone by as, whether it be good or bad, it's all a part of the journey of you becoming who you truly want to be.

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Trick To Tackling The New Years Resolution

Yes- I know, I know! This post is still pretty early, seeing as though Christmas has only just passed, but it is usually at this time-as we tuck into yet another chocolate- that we start to ask ourselves that oh-so-popular question: what is my new years resolution going to be?
 
Now some people, arguably the wiser of us, decide not to take part in this tradition. That's perfectly fine. I am writing this post for us suckers that are determined to try!

As many of us know, the biggest issue we face is to stick with what we have set out to do. Obviously this also has a lot to do with each individuals willpower and how desperately they want to achieve their goals but there are certain things we can do to help ourselves to make that impossible aim look just a little bit less impossible. Here are my top tips on helping yourself achieve success.
  1. Slow and steady wins the race. It may sound obvious but we've all been guilty of setting ourselves goals that are completely unrealistic. Let's face it, if you set yourself the task of running the London Marathon with only two weeks training then your prospects aren't going to look good. However, if you set yourself the target of running a certain REASONABLE distance in two weeks, you've got more of a chance of reaching your overall goal as well as enjoy yourself along the way!
Image courtesy of Google
2. Choose something that you really want to do. If you choose to do something that you are not overly bothered about then you are less likely to do it. Say for example that you wanted to give up biscuits because you eat too many; the chances are that you will eat alternatives for a bit before you find yourself in front of that biscuit tin because you really like them and 'surely one won't hurt'. If you're going to do it and commit yourself to doing it, aim high!

3. Give yourself a break. We all mess up, it is human to make mistakes- the trick is not to let it stop you. Say that you're on a diet and you were doing well up until that point where you found yourself eating that bar of chocolate that you'd been eyeing up all week. OK, you messed up but think of it this way- if you give up entirely because of that one blip than you'll be making an even bigger mistake by not doing what you set out to. Don't beat yourself up over it, rather focus on how well you were doing and getting back on track.

4. If you're really struggling, focus on why you're doing it. It's all well and good knowing that we really want to do something but sometimes we need to focus on the why. Do you want to grow in confidence? Feel more self-assured? Do you want to do something special that will give you memories for a lifetime? Or have you just reached your limit and want a change? Or alternatively...

5. Focus on how you'll feel when you accomplish your goal. That huge feeling of achievement you'll get when you complete what you've been working on for so long. That feeling you'll get crossing the finish line with all of those other runners. That excitement you'll feel when you fit into that top you were itching to wear ever since you first saw it. That amazing buzz you get of 'I did it!' When you reach that point you were aiming for all along. If you're struggling think back on a time you have that adrenaline rush and savour it or, if not, look forward to the chance to experience it.

Don't forget to reward yourself for each achievement along the way and I hope that everyone has had a lovely Christmas!

Know what you're aiming for next year and willing to share? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Dreams

We all have dreams- things we hope for in the future. These many not always be show-stopping, not everyone dreams of being a big Hollywood actress or the next world famous entrepreneur, but everyone has goals in life. For most people this is the dream of having a family one day or perhaps owning their own house. For others it is the dream of starting up a small business with hopes for possible expansion.

I think we can forget sometimes that we are all trying to achieve these goals- that we're all in the same boat. (click here for more on not being alone)

Yesterday, I happened to be trying to make conversation with a rather quiet co-worker when the subject of hobbies came up. She admitted that she was really into tapestry and was currently focussing on making rugs. She'd recently applied for a grant from a business in London and had yet to receive a reply but she was determined to start her own small business.

To see her face light up when she was talking in clear enthusiasm was rather inspiring. It really touched me to see her talking about her passion with such pride.

The point is: don't forget that everyone is aiming for the future and you know what? People do make it.

Image from Google
I'm sorry for the short post but I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Comments? Thought? Let me know below!

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Search For Christmas Spirit

Last year I wasn't in the Christmas spirit at all! I'm not a Scrooge- I swear! In fact I love seeing people's happy faces on Christmas morning or that big grin that takes over when they see what you've gotten for them- of the clear thought that has gone into their gift.

I think that the reason that I wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit was because- for me at least- it felt... tainted. It may have been because of the pressure of what to get people or maybe even the bombardment of adverts of what we should want but Christmas didn't feel the same. Christmas day arrived and it just felt empty. It had no special significance to me and you know what? It was sad.

Because of that, and the fact that my Nana will be spending Christmas with us for the first time this year after my Grandad died in June, I was determined to get into the Christmas spirit- not just for myself but for her so that she could try and have the best Christmas possible considering the consequences.

So how was I going to go about getting into the spirit of things? I tried everything: listening to Christmas songs, helping my Mum put up the Christmas tree, even making the effort to sing songs in the office but nothing was working.



Image courtesy of Google

Then, suddenly, just when I was about to give up it hit me: family. Family was what it was all about. That feeling you get when you are snuggled under a blanket with those that you love, laughing and sharing stories or reminiscing about happy times. That warm feeling that you get when you are around people that you care about and know care about you too- that is what Christmas is about.

Sadly, I think that many of us have lost sight of this. We forget just how lucky we are when we lose sight of what matters and are overridden with advertising and the idea of Christmas. (to read more about this click here)

Let's stop focussing so much on the little things like the party food and the presents and the decorations- let's just stop! Why don't we focus on our partners, our parents, our siblings, our friends? The things and the people that really matter! The things that won't be forgotten by the end of the season.

What do you remember more? Where you put the decorations or that time where you laughed with those that you care about?

If I have learnt anything this year, it's that the other things fade, the materialistic things are forgotten- it is the precious memories that stay with you and make the day really special.

It is the memories we create that make Christmas. It is the happiness that we feel around others that make it special.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know below!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Coping With Stress

We all have tough days where we feel like we're never going to get through it. It's like the day will never end and the clock is dragging its hands to the point that you're sure there's something wrong with it. We all have them- there's no escaping that. But if you mind ways to cope with them- to make your day a little easier- then it can really help. Here are some quick tips...

Image Courtesy of Google
1) Take deep breaths- It's obvious I know! But it's amazing how we can forget such a simple thing when we feel like banging our head against the wall.

2) Take a minute to sit down and rest- This means just sitting still and not working... at all. Now, I'm not daft. I know this isn't always easy when it feels like you're being pulled left, right and centre but even if it's just taking a proper dinner break. Give your mind a rest. Trust me, it'll thank you for it!

3) Take it a day at a time- or if you're really stuck- an hour- Don't overload yourself with weeks in advance, even if it's for a project, focus on what you need to do for it now, the rest can be done another day.

4) Write down a 'To Do List'- Sometimes, the mind can build things up to such a degree that the tiny little problem that you're having becomes the next world crisis. Jot it down so that you can see how the situation really is. It is on a page in front of you and you know what? Nine times out of ten, it isn't as bad as you think it is.

5) Listen to some calming music- It's amazing how it can help to release the tension from your shoulders and improve your breathing.

6) If you get the chance on your break, go for a walk- The fresh air and exercise will do you good. Besides, if it gets you away from the source of the stress- even for just a little bit- it will remind you that there is a world out there waiting and that you're not as isolated as you think. You can read more about that here.

7) Think of what is waiting for you once you're done- It might be a partner, kids or maybe even a pet. Just think of how you'll be able to kick your shoes off, take some time to enjoy something whether it be a good book or a programme and get a good night's sleep.

I hope this helps- especially in this hectic season! If you've got any thoughts or comments please feel free to share them below!

Oh and Merry Christmas!!

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Secret Of Writing

A lot of people often look for a secret trick or method that magically makes them better writers. They look for a quick fix that, like a light switch, will turn on the incredible writer within that will produce an award winning piece and great recognition.

Writing is a long and emotional process. You never stop learning.

If I could give any advice, any advice at all when it came to writing, it would be to savour every second of being alive.




Image Courtesy of marcandangel.com


If we do not fully embrace life how can we write about it? How can we capture it with our words and expression to share it with the world if we do not treasure it?

How can we write about feeling revitalised and feeling free when we do not feel the rain against our skin or the sunlight on our face?

How can we write of sorrow if we do not allow our hearts to be put on the line and take risks whether it be with relationships or our hopes?

How can we write of the kaleidoscope of feelings and colours when we don't experience and see it for ourselves?

In my personal experience, when I am happy or feel particularly moved I write better. Now this isn't to say that I don't write at all when I am miserable or apathetic- not at all- to do so would be foolish. However, when I am at peace or have a big smile on my face it helps the words to flow from my mind and my fingertips and onto the page.

You are what you write. When you are confident and comfortable in yourself, your writing is more self-assured. When you learn and grow as a human, you capture humanity in all of its beauty and brutality.

So look, listen and take it all in.

Thoughts, comments? Let me know below!


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Self Esteem Vs Society

I had a bit of a wobble last night. I was stood in front of the bathroom mirror, washing my face when suddenly my teeth caught my attention. Now, my teeth are straight and healthy- admittedly not pearly white but healthy none the less- but that's not what caught my attention. What got at me was the small gap between my front teeth and the various chips they have. Usually this doesn't bother me but last night- wow, did it get at me...

Me!


Why? You might ask. In all honesty, I don't know. I don't know why suddenly I found myself conscious of my smile but I did not like it one bit. I felt ugly.

And then I started thinking about why I was suddenly so aware of them, so paranoid about them and it came to me. How often do we see commercials where the model is perfect? Perfect teeth, perfect figure, perfect complexion? We see it all the time on the TV, on billboards, on websites.

So here I was, scouring Google for information about having a gap in your front teeth and guess what came up: cosmetic dentistry. The first three or four links offered were all about 'fixing' your teeth. The next few were people asking for answers on whether it was alright for them to have this gap. The responses suggested... wait for it... cosmetic dentistry.

So yeah, I was getting fed up. I was getting ready to, figuratively, dig out the old tub of ben and jerry's and sob into it when- finally- there was good news. Take a look at this entry from Wikipedia:
In the Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote of the "gap-toothed wife of Bath". As early as this time period, the gap between the front teeth, especially in women, had been associated with lustful characteristics. Thus, the implication in describing "the gap-toothed wife of Bath" is that she is a middle-aged woman with insatiable lust. This has no scientific basis, but it has been a popular assumption in folklore since the Middle Ages.
In Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, diastema is regarded as being attractive and a sign of fertility, and some people have even had them created through cosmetic dentistry. In France, they are called "dents du bonheur" ("lucky teeth"), and in Australia, gapped front teeth in children are said to be a predictor of future wealth.

Wait a minute! So in Ghana I would be seen as attractive and fertile?

Society is odd. This is what I discovered at stupid o'clock last night. It is ever changing and yet we, as members of it, are expected to look a certain way or aspire to a certain image- whether that be having an hour glass figure or perfect hair. The make-up industry makes millions in trying to make women feel as though they need to better themselves, to look a certain way and for what? To have a bunch of women who are covering any marks and masking anything that makes them different.

Now, don't get me wrong here! I am all for helping women to feel more confident and comfortable in themselves! I think that's great! My issue is when they  feel the need to bombard us with what we should look like. Yep, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to look like Kate Moss anytime soon...

Image Courtesy of Google

According to 'beautifulwithbrains.com', in Victorian times:
A white and translucent complexion was so desired that some women would even paint some very fine blue lines on their skin to make it look more translucent, as the veins underneath were showing.
Yet how many women now aspire for the perfect tan?

Why can't we live in a society where being yourself is celebrated? Where despite every imperfection each woman- and man- is celebrated?

After thinking all of this, I felt a lot... free-r in a way. I realised that I was fine just as I am. Yeah I have scars and stretch marks, my teeth aren't perfect and I have to wear glasses but I am perfectly comfortable with who I am, thank you very much and society? You can just deal with it.

Thoughts? Comments? Leave them below!

Friday, 6 December 2013

'Tis The Time To Be Thankful

I've been meaning to write a post about this issue for a while. I don't mean to preach about it or to make anyone feel bad but I think that it is an issue that can be so easily overlooked- especially at this time of year where we are bombarded with commercials and the modern pressures of what to get for Christmas.

The issue I want to talk about is to be grateful of what you already have now.

In my experience, I often come across people who seem dissatisfied with what they have. They seem to want to constantly improve what they have, whether that be personally or professionally. How often do we hear the saying, "I need..."? I need a new pair of boots. I need a new mobile.

People don't need these things. They want them. As I said, this is not meant to be a lecture- not at all- we are all guilty of not fully appreciating what we have. I think we just need to be reminded sometimes- all of us.

My Mum has recently been helping out the Salvation Army (a charity that helps the homeless) by sowing blankets into sleeping bags to help keep people living on the streets warm. She told me the other day how, when she was helping to prepare food with the charity so that people who came into the centre could have a hot meal, a man walked in telling her that he had gotten her a Christmas present. He rummaged in his pockets to pull out... a polo. He'd gotten this mint and had saved it for weeks (judging by its appearance) to give it to my Mum. Even though this man had barely anything, he was still thinking of others.

Image courtesy of Google
(The picture above is a picture I always look at when I feel as though I am struggling. It reminds me of just how lucky I am.)

Earlier, I was stood at the bus stop when a man came over. He was unsteady on his feet and his eyes were slightly blood-shot. He started speaking to me, clearly just wanting the company, and began to tell me about how he's had two drinks of vodka and how the 'demon drink' had got him again. He'd missed an appointment at a training provider as he'd been drinking and he was vowing how he'd 'try again on the 8th January' as it was late in the year and it was near Christmas.

This season, I ask just one thing. Enjoy the season by all means: spend time with your family, have a day full of joy and laughter- hold those you love close. But please, please remember how lucky you are.

Think of those people out there who are not as fortunate- who can only dream of worrying over what to get people for Christmas and not where they're going to sleep tonight or when they'll get another meal. Think of the people who will be battling their own demons as they try to keep on track this season when they're surrounded by all this temptation.

I don't mean for this post to depress anyone- that is far from my intention- but it is something I hold very close to my heart and that I wanted to share.

Thoughts? Comments? Please share them below.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Playing The Blame Game

I was angry earlier. Really angry. I had been late leaving the office after being stuck on the phone and had missed my bus. I was livid and, naturally, as many of us do: I began to play the blame game.

It was my co-workers fault for not answering the phone.

It was the car drivers fault for not letting me cross the road.

It was the bus driver's fault for not waiting a bit longer for me to get on.

Image Courtesy of Google

So there I was, sat on the bench by the bus stop, near tears from the frustration of the day when I forced myself (after, admittedly, swearing loudly) to calm down and think about it logically.

It wasn't my co-workers fault that I had answered the phone, I could have left it for the answer machine to get and have picked up the message the next day.

It wasn't the drivers fault, they didn't know that I was desperate to cross- they were just trying to get home themselves.

It wasn't the bus driver's fault- they weren't to know that I was trying to get onto the bus.

It was a bitter pill to swallow and I didn't like admitting it to myself but at the end of the day it was my fault.

It struck me then, how often do we point the finger at something or someone else when we don't like how things have gone or when things don't go how we want them to?

Be honest with yourself: how often in a week do you blame someone else for something that's happened? From being late to not getting something that you were after? Twice a week? Three times? More?

Nine times out of ten, if we sit down and actually think about what happened, if we look at it from an objective viewpoint, we can see that it was in fact our fault in one way or another: whether this be by leaving late or just being unorganised.

Blaming other people doesn't get you anywhere- it doesn't solve anything. All it causes is resentment and anger towards other people who then, after receiving all of that negative attention, will pass that on to someone else. It's the start of a vicious circle.

So here's my challenge for this week. Take a deep breath and instead of getting annoyed and holding a grudge, think about it logically. Take the time to do this at the end of each day and see if you find yourself feeling any better for it.

It's OK to get angry every now and then (we're not saints!) but it's important not to dwell on it, it's not good- for both your health and your happiness.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know below!