29 November 2019

Fantastic Gifts and Where to Find Them

"Deck the halls with boughs of Harry, fa la la la la, la la la la. 
'Tis the season to choose Etsy. Fa la la la la, le vi o SA!" 

Hermione may swear that it's LeviOsa, not levioSA; however, I solemnly stand by Ronald Weasley and saying Le-vi-o-SAnta to your heart's content. What’s more, when it comes to Jo's Wizarding Wonderland, Christmas is the levitation charm that takes magic to new heights. From flying baubles and dancing hippogriffs, to everlasting icicles and Weasley Jumpers, Winter and Wizards and go together like Dobby and socks. What could possibly bee better, you ask? ACCIO WitchCrafting! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 
I love a Primark Pillow as much as the next Potterhead, but handmade gifts are a magic BEEyond all else. Last week, I published a seven-day GIFT GUIDE to out-charm ALL Gift guides - officially known as FANTASTIC GIFTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, it was 100% big biz free and 100% powered by ETSY! Like my #MakerMagicMonday series, I wanted to spotlight the inexhaustible magic of handmade. For if you look beyond the hughstreet, I solemnly swear that the world is your Oyster SALAMANDER. Don't believe me? Just come et SEE... 
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8 May 2019

Just beecause: why you don't need a permission slip to practice self-care

 Hello world, it's me again. In truth, my head has been feeling especially foggy these past few days, so I'm writing this with no certainty that it will ever see the light of day! Nevertheless, this morning I decided to open my laptop and here I am still typing. Just because... Just because. 

Full stop. No explanation needed. At first glance, "just because" is a bit of a paradox. When you say, "because", it's a bridge leading on to the rest of a sentence. It's safe to say that the English Literature student within me is having a field day: "okay, what's next? Don't leave me hanging!" Well, let's hope those monkey bars are more strong and stable than our Prime Minister, because that sentence is going to be hanging a lot more from now on. At least that's the intention!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about my longstanding struggle with over-analysis, specifically negative over-analysis (NOA). For as long as I can remember, every decision I make has been given far too much screen time; where one line would do a chapter soon follows. If I say "basically", be prepared to bring out the popcorn and put any immediate plans on hold. Don't get me wrong, I love writing. I love talking and  it's quite possible that 'rambling' has become my USP

Nonetheless, there's a difference between rambling and over-analysis... and  perhaps that's where the  literature student may need to take a back seat (unless bedtime reading is involved, obviously!)
One all the things I learnt from CBT in 2017, "action over analysis" held the most resonance and this wasn't because I was good at it; quite the reverse. I was the girl with a whole Ark of anxieties - not even a mouse could fit in - and NOA was calling all the shots. In the world according to NOA, nothing was ever 'just right'. Imagine you were choosing between 200 varieties of apple in your local supermarket, or picking a paint colour from 51 shades of 'off-white'. Now, apply this to every single decision you make and you have a small glimpse of life with  anxiety.

Just over one year on from CBT, I have become significantly better at challenging over-analysis. The ark is more of a rowing boat and there's thankfully far more room for my animal friends (less time worrying in isolation means more time for doggy cuddles!) Yet there's one thing I still spend far too much time overanalysing: self-care. In the time I've taken contemplating self-care, I could have had a bubble bath with every Lush bath bomb in Bath... and quite possibly Bristol too! 

We often talked about self-care during CBT, as a key challenge for my mental health lies in self-worth (a lot of this is rooted in my diabetes, which I talked about here and may do more in the future). After so long convincing myself that I am less worthy than others, NOA can deliver an oscar-winning speech on "reasons against self-care." From connecting with others in the magical MH community online, I know how common this is (turns out we're not unicorns!) So how do you overcome it? How do you silence over-analysis? 
You act. You practice self-kindness, whenever you can and in whatever little way you can. I spent so many years convinced that I could analyse my way out of over-analysis, but it turns out you can't! The only way, as CBT made unequivocally clear, is "action over analysis." The only way, as I've come to think of it recently, is saying "just because". No justification needed! On that note, I wanted to share some of the self-care steps I've taken this spring; little snapshots that NOA was determined to bury away, but by sharing on here are a way to say "sock it! Self-Care is here to stay." 
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22 April 2019

Snapshots from Spring and What it means to be an Earthling #EarthDayEVERYDAY

Happy Earth Day my fellow earthlings. 365 days ago, I wrote about the importance of making "earth day"our every day. The twitter birds can caw #EarthDay 'til the (Insta)cows come home, but we must never lose sight of our 'why'; the hearts behind the hashtags; the reason we care as much as we do. This may sound sentimental and, I'll be the first to admit, daffodils won't be saved by dancing with them (as much as I relate to Wordsworth). Nonetheless, I do believe that emotions play a key role in the future of our planet. Quite simply, we have to care. 

"Whenever I ask professional conservationists what first 
Inspired them to get involved in the protection of the 
Environment, they invariably mention either a book or a place."
- Dr Robert Macfarlanenature writer & ecocritic   

Ever since I was little, I've loved the outdoors. I love exploring, I'm fascinated by the littlest details of a tree or flower. I read books such as "the hidden language of trees" for pleasure and "Landscape and Literature" was my favourite module at University - it's how I discovered the genius Robert Macfarlane! In a recent Instagram post, I talked about my woodland happy place - my whimsical 'Luna Wood' - and how it embodies the things I treasure most. We can pretend that magic is the stuff of fairytales, but we only have to look beyond our screens to know it exists. Nature is proof that magic exists. Nonetheless, we currently risk losing it to  myth and we cannot allow this to happen. This is where I truly believe that individual connection is key. We cannot save through apathy. 
I've consciously been spending more time away from social media recently and making time to get outside, whether it be fighting past the brain fog to join my family for a dog walk, or heading for the bus-stop ten minutes earl to stop and smell the roses horse manure (After a decade of horse-riding, there will always  be hoof prints on my heart!) 

This bank holiday has been markedly screen-free and I cannot tell you how lovely it's been. I had a difficult evening on Friday with withdrawal side effects (see last post), but getting outdoors has done me the world of good and made me more grateful than ever for nature. During the darkest days of anorexia, I was a habitual 'speed walker' and rarely noticed the little things, so I really took a moment to do that this weekend and took some photos to record it.

So this is what I wanted to share. Some snapshots of spring from Victoria Park in Bath, where I am continually reminded to keep the tonic glass of nature half-full. While these are only snapshots -  the live-action moment is beyond any screen - I do feel they capture this sense of just being. Being mindful, not mind full. By focusing in on the tiny details we can so often forget, I found beauty in tranquility and the magic of what is. No 'to do list' needed. On that note, I'm going to end my rambles and let Nature do the talking. To paraphrase Ronan Keating, she says it best and I need say nothing at all... Nature has enough lyrics for all the Grammys in the world!  
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and 
lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, 
you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
- Winnie the Pooh, A.A.Milne   

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