On The Benefits of Yoga….What I Have Learned

I can’t begin to describe the effects a regular yoga practice has had on me in the past few months. It’s been remarkable, and I’ve felt the strength in every aspect and element of both my mind and body. I may eventually lengthen this out into a detailed post of exactly the ins and out of how and why I feel it has aided me so much, but for now take just a few verses, and try not to get thrown off by the cheesyness…

‘On The Benefits of Yoga…What I Have Learned”

It makes no sense
That being where we are at this moment;
Right here and now,
Should take practice.
But it does.

Yoga teaches me not to rush ahead.
The meeting will come. Lunch will happen.
There will always be the threat of rain,
Even as we salute the sun rising hopefully
Over the arched back of beyond.

Anticipating is an anxious act
– Putting on the dog’s lead as you see a larger one approach.
Yet up, down, sideways, or around,
We cannot escape this moment.
Nor would I want to.

I have learned to occupy my space,
Exhaling into the changes underfoot.
A warrior standing her ground,
Even when the earth itself shakes and cracks,
The trees swaying and casting away leaves
That never served them much at all.

In a binding contract,
My feet have cemented my place here,
A far call from the apprehensive steps
I used to take to my own kitchen.

The scales in my head finding
Balance atop arms stronger than ever before;
A crow flying high over the gorge of
Mental anguish, supporting itself through
the turbulent, turbulent clouds to land lightly on the other side.

In the knowledge that each bend, twist,
and long stretch in the road is actually progressing me forward,
Refusing to look behind
Refusing to waver.

This is where I am now,
This is what I need.
This day, this second, this letter, this space,
I hear now louder than ever.

Namasté.

Mind Over Masters ..

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I graduated with a Masters’ degree yesterday. Congratulatory well-wishes, hugs and handshakes aside, even before the ceremony and in the days preceding it I really had been (and still am) feeling a lot of love coming from all angles around me.

A love for life; a love for choosing life and friends and family and to be happy and healthy; a love for enjoyment and appreciation of the good things that I have, instead of buying into and believing warped and twisted thoughts and behaviours that constantly present themselves as options in my head. For so long I was used to just letting the negative win and succumbing to the same old rotation of self-hatred and deprecating thoughts – it was easy to fall into the rut of familiarity and stay there. Once I decided to focus my attention on reversing through the negativity, instead of flailing around blindly within it because it was ‘comfortable’ (and to be honest I just didn’t have the energy to fight it), I began to see that we really and truly are the sum of all our actions and thoughts over time. This attention had formerly been sucked up by the happiness-draining effort it took to uselessly attempt to control my surroundings.

A friend of mine once described it as a drip of water being fed to a plant. One drip of poison is not going to kill it, but a steady, continued flow of poisonous feed and negative thought accompanying it will inevitably have longterm effects, and more than likely kill it. Similarly, one drop of clean water is not going to have an immediate positive effect. It takes the same sort of steady and consistent stream of care and good, natural nourishment before the plant can start to stand up tall again by itself.

Our bodies and minds are these plants. If we continually tell ourselves something, over and over again repeatedly believing something we have declared to be true – we become it. ‘You Are What You Eat’ has never rung so true as it does in this sense. A repeated diet of the same foods results in the same as repeated thoughts – we literally, physically become what we eat. We become what we believe. I’ve finally been practicing the positives and believing the good stuff long enough now for me to really start to see and feel the benefits of self-care, and baffle myself as to why I never made it a priority before. I’ve finally made the transition from being able to recognise the thoughts and behaviours for the damaging ghosts that they are, to being able to ward them off by myself, to use their power and strength against themselves and channel that energy into bettering myself. We are always going to be presented with the negative option. It’s how we get around it and harness the time that would have been spent worrying and fretting over it’s potential enormity to turn it on it’s head and ask how exactly can we look at it in a more positive way that’s important.

In graduating from the initial stages of recognising the negatives for what they are, to actually becoming capable of avoiding them completely and living a life without the constant self-doubt, racing thoughts and worry, there is a liberation and sense of achievement bigger than even receiving my MA yesterday could have captured. It’s a constant work in progress, but I know once I remain aware and consistently vigilant against the potential spoilers of thoughts that seem to just pop to the forefront of my consciousness every now and again, for once I know, and this is a big deal for me to say, because this time I really and truly believe it; this time,

I know for sure that everything is actually going to be okay.

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Let’s Be Honest…

Let’s Be Honest….

 I would love nothing more than to recount remarkable tales for you. To tell of great deeds and funny stories, incredible experiences I’ve had and interesting things I’ve witnessed. I relish in being of interest to people – seeming knowledgable of certain topics when they arise in conversation. I have so many ideas and plans and potential project ideas and life desires that when I get excited about them I could talk for hours on end until you’d be sick of seeing my eyes light up about all the possibilities under the stars.
‘Get real’, you’d probably say.

My blog I use as an outlet to put some of these more outlandish ideas into shape, to actually sit with them momentarily and coax them into some sort of comprehensible versions of the raving notions and ideas they really are. Even with this, I feel I rarely fully capture the essence of what I think or feel, because the passions are so fleeting and frequent and eccentric that it’s difficult to latch onto them when they pass by. Although I would love nothing more than to be a source of wisdom, advice, and comfort to anyone in need, the fact of the matter, of MY matter, and the only matter I will ever truly know, remains that I am only one human.

Only one human, who can only undertake and process one moment, one feeling, one experience at a time. Even at this, I have astonished myself with some of the friendships and connections I have managed to make in moments when these feelings and experiences have become jumbled and panicked in my mind. Those I care about and surround myself with all come from different backgrounds; we have shared experiences, emotions, good times and bad times together. I have shared struggles, lent on shoulders that were there when I was confused and couldn’t handle things by myself, and gulped down cups of tea made out of pity, out of love, out of concern by people who have shown me genuine care and affection. The one consistent thing I have found about the human race and people’s opinions towards mental health and hard times and ‘shit we’re going through’ is that in general; everyone gets it.

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Being open and honest about my own difficulties has helped me connect on deeper levels with people, and form bonds of confidence and trust stronger than your average friendship or aquaintence. Discussing things nobody really wants to discuss. Discussing things with people that they themselves feel uncomfortable about sometimes has a weird way of drawing you closer together. When you are your true self more and more, you delve into the true essence of what it means to be you – you may never find the answers, but hey, it’s fascinating (and sometimes scary!) to look. When you get the opportunity to be this self with people and different walks of life, you really realise the universality of our condition; our struggles, and of our mindsets, wants, needs, and tendencies as human beings.
Age is but a number. Nationality, religion, height, weight, shape, size – these are all just contributing factors which make up the way people have been shaped and categorized in an effort to glean some sort of understanding and make sense of the mass of people and identities who now walk upon the earth.

None of us really know why we’re here. In accepting that fact instead of continuing to struggle to ascertain myself as something different or special or to discover something new; in accepting myself and my body and condition for what I am; an unknown mass of cells making up one seven-billionth of the worlds’ population; there is a sense of freedom that I never thought could have been achievable by doing what I did and being open about struggles when they were occuring.
Because the truth is that we are all struggling. Each little tiny ant to roam the 7 continents we call home is struggling. It is how we choose to process and consider this struggle that makes the difference.

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Today I woke up, unemployed, in my parents’ home, with no particular plan or goals for myself to achieve for the day. Instead of asking myself ‘What the hell am I doing with myself?’ I chose to sit up and say “What CAN I do with myself?”
The answers to this second question were endless. They ARE endless.
I didn’t glean any monetary income from today, but I sure as hell didn’t waste it.
The sun was shining. I sent a few emails. Applied for a few jobs. Did a bit of my TEFL course online. Went to a yoga class. Made dinner. Now I’m writing this. I had every intention of creating and writing something informative, witty, groundbreaking, even, but instead I’ve accepted that the flow simply wasn’t there today. It simply wasn’t ready; the right mental stream and balance wasn’t open.

In spending so long stuck in an unbalanced, panicked and chaotic mental state, I now feel the effects of actual order and balance hyper-sensitively, and as such I am more proactive in everything I do.
I don’t mean to make it sound like the low I hit a few months ago was beneficial to me, because it was honestly the most confused, upset, and terrified I’ve ever been in my whole life. But I’m a firm believer that hitting rock bottom sometimes is necessary to be able to build your way all the way back up to where you were, and go even higher.

Like J. K. Rowling once said; “Rock bottom became the firm foundation on which I built the rest of my life”.

And she wrote Harry Potter. Enough said.

We all go through shit. We all feel like shit at times. It’s whether or not we let those feelings win, and decide not to try anymore that defines who we are. Each day is a choice. Each hour is a choice. Each step, each outfit, each meal, how we choose to spend each evening is a choice we can all make.
Do yourself a favour, and be honest with yourself. What is it you want to do? What is it that you love?
Take the time to listen to yourself – your ‘authentic’ self, for want of a less-cheesy expression, and be the contribution to this world that you would look at and say ‘I wish I did that’.
Be a radiator instead of a drain. Radiate that which you want and rave about seeing and doing, instead of just taking it all in and swallowing it up.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for once. When it comes down to it, even opening up and letting others in is only a method of dealing with ourselves – a way to help us process what’s going on in our own minds. In the end it’s up to us individually to be honest with our own needs, wants, and be that little bit selfish when it comes to putting ourselves first. Because let’s be honest; we’re all we’ve got!

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Home Is Where the Art Is

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Time has temporarily come to a standstill. The heavy, consistent and reliable beat of activity, functioning, and output which I have been keeping for the past few weeks has ceased to be so persistant; yet I know it to be only a brief lull. I have returned home to the house in which I spent my childhood, teenage years, and adult life up until now, after living away and working for a short while. While gone, I couldn’t have even considered returning to the stifling atmosphere of being back here, so freeing and liberating was the work, not to mention creatively stimulating and socially consistent, the last thing I wanted was to be forced to spend any amount of time here among my old clothes, things and rooms which I know inside out and back to front – where is the imagination here? Where is the newness? Where is the potential for progression and growth?

I have been so preoccupied with moving forward, with moving on and nourishing change and growth that I have almost lost the importance of that which is at the core of it. Instead of rejoicing at the prospect of relaxing and being at ease with things being exactly as and where I left them, both in my room and in my parents’ lives, I had become anxious with anticpation of how stagnant it all can feel, and wary that I would be ‘sucked into’ it again.

That is how it has felt before, in times when I have been progressing and growing steadily by myself in situations outside of my home life – it has seemed almost counterproductive to return to this state of apparent sameness, the begrudgingly slow process of progression being stifled just yards after it has finally made some noticeable headway, and anxiety at it’s proximity overwhelming any sense of productivity.

This time however, the lull has been noted, and my awareness of the temporality of all things has been strengthened. The beating of the creative drum had a good run this time – things were written, recorded, conducted in ways and on levels of success I never believed myself capable of. But just as seemingly endless and frustratingly peaceful as this visit home has been, the persistance of such a contrasting level of frenzied output can only be maintained for a certain amount of time, and will only be possible once again if I take this time now to recooperate, recharge the mental and physical batteries with good nutrition, a decent amount of sleep, and a couple of hundred words written to aim to keep the nudging elbows of anxiety at my lack of creative output bubbling under the surface away.

Because I have realised now that creativity has to come from somewhere. It may not be a gift or a trait that can be readily bestowed upon someone, or found in any single library, concert venue, practice room, or gallery; but through correct environmental factors and an unknown period of time, I believe it can be coaxed into existance in certain individuals, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. My home and life experiences up until now have clearly provided the seeds and tools necessary to glean new understandings and to present unique manifestations, angles, and viewpoints of our environment and lives, something which can be achieved by something so small as this paragraph of words on your screen. This, really, when it all comes down to it, is the essence of creativity as a concept in itself. I have used the environment and experiences I have been afforded to the best of my advantage, and for now, for this present moment in time, this is the best I can present you with – a few hundred words typed hastily in the middle of a bedroom strewn with half-unpacked washing. In my work up until recently, I utilised the bustling, chaotic atmosphere around me to coax new ideas from my core and take bold risks that may or may not have resulted in disaster – the nature of such an environment, however, allowed for these risks, as even if they had failed, the movement forwards is swift, and does not take long for the failures to be learned from and forgotten. For now, for the time being, this is what I have to show – a short piece of chaotic, excitable and progressive thought captured within a room full of old teddies, in a house that has been the same colour since I was first brought into it 23 years ago.

A Windowseat of One’s Own – On Adapting & Perspective

– A Windowseat of One’s Own

‘Adapting’

Changing clothes and coats and outer layers regularly only becomes a problem when you start leaving important things in pockets. In changing myself to suit other people or please a general majority or crowd, I was placing yet another layer atop my already stifled self. For the core to shine through, to really be seen, for ‘shine’ is what any honest truth really will do when given the opportunity, we must become comfortable with that which lies beneath the layers.

The human body amazes me in that it will do every single thing necessary and within its’ power to fix and help itself. If there is one thing my ‘journey’ up until now has shown me, it is that. The human body is a masterpiece of engineering, with cells reforming and repairing themselves through even the harshest of treatment; enzymes and vitamins and minerals working alongside one another to carry out tasks and ensure everything is functioning to the best of its’ ability – all without even a thought or instruction from us. I am hugely grateful for this fact, yet it also baffles me that given the the case with the physical body, that it doesn’t come as second nature or automatic for us to adapt similarly and to help ourselves mentally, should an issue arise. If it were a thing that we were physically programmed to help our own mentality improve when we felt it struggling, the world would be a very different place. Often our bodies do things to help us survive without us even realising the fact, which makes it difficult to acknowledge and appreciate it at all. Because we don’t need to acknowledge it, we end up taking it for granted, and not realising the need to acknowledge and take similar action against mental problems when they arise.

In learning to recognise our own individual symptoms, triggers and warning signs, we are ultimately taking responsibility for ourselves and the space we occupy upon this earth – because no one else will. No one else can occupy this windowseat while I sit here. They might do in an hour or so when the train arrives, is cleaned out, and prepared for a return journey, but by that time I will be long gone; probably sitting in another seat of a connecting bus or train or plane, destined for another stop on my timeline.

‘Perspective’

In recognising that the world is as fleeting, inconsistant and unpredictable as we as humans are ourselves, we may somehow be able to greet it as a very large entity on which we have just somehow found ourselves walking. The endless predictions and prophesizing that the earth will someday end, that the sun will burn out and cease to support life as we know it is a strangly humbling and comforting thought if we consider ourselves in relation to it. We have been given the privelege of existing within this short space of time when the sun and earth have come in to some sort of symbiosis with one another, resulting in a mass expansion of new life, experiences, places, people, and diversity. Our timeline of a mere 80-85 years in such a place is surely something to be celebrated, to embrace, and to fully appreciate by experiencing as much as we possibly can during our time here. It’s almost as if we are currently in some sort of prolonged eclipse of the earth and sun, which has resulted in a burst of life and uncontrolled expansion and exploration of new elements interacting with those they have not yet met with before, constantly moving forward, growing, evolving; progressing. In transporting myself to as many places as I can in order to experience more and more of these elements, my journey is continuing on in the only way in which I see fit to do it. In order for me to successfully carry this out, both my body and my mind must be sufficiently nourished and strong enough to handle the unkowns the world may have in store – the tests, the things my soul has not yet encountered. In coming to terms with my own existance as I sit here on the train and type, I am simultaneously being transported onwards, in a direct and physical manifestation of that which is constantly happening around us and within our lives.

What I observe outside the window has no doubt been observed before by others who have knowingly come this way too, our paths having taken a similar route, yet both each individually carrying on our own journeys, our own goals and needs and lives moving forwards. Yet none of what I am seeing has been seen in quite the same light before, with the same experiences, emotions, mental, spiritual and physical conditions at similar levels and in combination. For the past few hours, this windowseat and view has been my own, but soon, it will cease to mean anything to me, and move on to be experienced by the next lonesome and contemplative traveller. My journey has brought me through bumpy times, uncertain and sometimes downright terrifying thoughts and behaviours, usually punctuated by contrasting moments of contentment and balance. In knowing these positive moments do occur, and are possible to obtain provided I remain aware of myself and surroundings, I know the hike ahead is a lot more managable than I ever thought it would be. It’s a constant work in progress, and in not knowing exactly what’s on the horizion, one inevitably is left open to both the good and bad aspects of what lies ahead. But I am now more equipped than ever, stronger, more aware, and ready to see everything this planet has to offer me as I embrace the good luck and fortune I have in experiencing the paralling of both of our brief existences.

Enjoy, don’t Endure.

“I want to create a life I don’t need to take a vacation from” I don’t know who is originally quoted as having coined this phrase, and it’s been reused and rephrased so many times across the recycled and plagarised side of the internet that it’s almost vintage at this stage – yet in essence, it’s message remains the same. There are many things that many of us could say, and many an hour to be spent talking in circles about the need to enjoy life. Many things that many people would relate to, derive solace from, and ultimately aim to engage with in their day-to-day life. A ‘vacation’, or holiday, in it’s more European form, is defined as a ‘specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism’. This being said, it is only within the last two centuries that ‘vacation’ time has become a common form of recreation, the luxury of which was previously reserved only for the very wealthy artisocracy. The concept of taking a vacation has only crept into our own society in direct correlation to the expansion of the business class high-flying and bustling lifestyle. I automatically think of HBO’s Mad Men when I say this, Don Draper jetting off to L.A. every few episodes and spending every other segment half-cut drinking ‘old fashioned’s’ in his office . The development of the need for ‘vacation’ calls into question the very benefits of this so-called upper class lifestyle, a 6-figure paycheck often being pumped back into the system through crushing medical bills later on as the life of excess finally catches up on the protagonists and leads them to ruin. Mad Men obsession aside, it remains that in the way we live today, we can still observe work and responsibilities too often taking precedence over fun and self-realisation, downtime and enjoyment too often being interlinked exclusively with one another. They are something on which everybody thrives, when given the chance – who in their right mind is going to choose to spend the day in the office over a day being carefree and having the ability to be spontaneous? Yet is it necessary for them to be so closely related? Is it possible to enjoy the things we don’t necessarily have much choice in, those things we speak of and so often complain about having to ‘endure’? Not only work-related commutes and draining meetings, but also rites of passage such as family gatherings, school reunions, disappointing meal-choices, or movies that we don’t particularly want to see yet find ourselves in the cinema before, purely to satisfy the majority of the group? We enjoy our weekends. We enjoy the sunshine. We enjoy certain foods, and our own little respites and hobbies. We enjoy that long sought-after glass of wine and takeaway after a long weeks’ endurance. The two always seem to come together. It’s almost as if they co-exist side-by-side in some sort of twisted symbiosis that leaves us numb to the misery of endurance while it’s actually happening, in the knowledge that some little tiny piece of enjoyment is on the way. Ok, sure, enjoy your downtime, but is there some written rule of thumb or hidden guideline that says you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy your worktime too? In my working life I have too often wished days away and switched to auto-pilot in an attempt to persist through hours without thinking about the lack of fulfillment and authenticity of my actions for myself. In doing so, not only was I merely existing, zombie-like and emotionless, but I was failing to enjoy and appreciate the moment as it happened, numbing my creative and constructive urges by the necessity of tasks that no matter how hard I tried to make them, simply did not stimulate me enough. It’s upsetting that in today’s society people are forced to settle in jobs and positions that stunt the expansion of their minds and talents, purely in order to put food on the table. I am in no way trying to condemn those of us who work the 9-5, and who have done for years- hell, I wouldn’t be here today if my own parents hadn’t done the same. But for the sake of our mental health and wellbeing, for the sake of those few minutes’ respite of a tea or coffee break, there is a lot to be said for shifting our mindset from mere ‘endurance’ to passive ‘enjoyment’. You don’t have to be having the time of your life to ‘enjoy’ something. The essence of mindfulness is the acceptance of things as they are at any given moment, and so why waste any mindful second being preoccupied with the dread of enduring the rest of the day, instead of just aiming to make the best of what you are presented with in that moment? It may not be a particularly enjoyable or fruitful task, but I think I speak for most of us when I say that how we perceive and respond to things generally has a massive affect on our mood and overall wellbeing. Why put yourself through the misery if it’s not necessary? A simple shift in your mindset could mean the difference between a day spent flatlining on any sort of emotional activity, or a day spent relatively content with your lot, in the knowledge that you are where you are in that moment, and cannot immediately do anything to alter it. Even the word ‘endure’ evokes a sense of dread, a withdrawn and lethargic effort of will that in it’s naming becomes a negative experience . And negative experiences are things we seek to avoid, aren’t they? I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I am ultimately the only person with the ability to drag myself and my own mind out of the gutter, and I have grudgingly begun to make myself enjoy things that before I would have merely endured, and found a kind of twisted solace in complaining about. It’s not to say I don’t appreciate the caring friends and family who have been there from the beginning, and who remain there to this day, stable and cautious in their presence. Yet there is a relief and independence that comes with being able to get rid of the stabilizers after years of enduring the embarassment of their necessity, and finally enjoying the sense of freewheeling adventure and potential that comes from being able to balance on my own. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, and it’s not to say I’ll never fall over or wobble again, but for now, my pink flowery bike with the white wicker basket is being tested for the first time, and successfully has made it’s way out of the front gate. The cherry blossoms falling down along the road don’t hinder my sight or pose any danger – rather they celebrate, falling confetti-like as endurance and frustration have finally paved the way and been substituted for enjoyment, taking a chance and balancing alone for once, as I ride off in search of the next adventure. Just enjoying the scenery as I go.

Why the Post-College Life-Crisis Can Be a Blessing in Disguise

Twenty–something. Finished college. Unemployed. Jobseeking. Employed but only in order to pay crippling rent-prices and/or to fuel an increasingly intensifying social-life and obsession with clothes which is a direct result of having no idea what the next step is, so figuring you might as well look good and feel good (albeit briefly) while you stumble through it.
Sound familiar?

If there’s one thing a large majority of both my school and college friends have talked in circles recently, talked upsidedown and inside out, analysed to the point of disintegration and dissolution into pints of craft beer as we search for new and exciting things to try and explore in life, it’s that none of us have a fucking clue what we’re doing.
Degrees in the bag, some barely making it til the end of the month without overdrawing, others like me still living out of home and trying to decide whether to move out or use the limited funds available to us to live, to see and do things before we get too old or tied down– parental inconveniences aside, living at home near a bus route and train line has it’s advantages.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard things like ‘I need to sort my life out’, and ‘I have absolutely no plan’; exclaims of uncertainty acting as grace notes to sips of wine and beer that gradually reduce the immediacy of the problem and allow it to fester some more in the depths of that which is ultimately within our control, yet which feels in every sense of the words to be outside of it.

Because really, when it comes down to it all, the world really is our oyster. I don’t mean this in the overly enthusiastic and positive good hippie-vibe-giving gushing that tries to convince people the world is all fabulous – because I think at this stage we’re finally coming to a certain awareness that it is not always a nice place to live – I just mean that in society today it is literally just a matter of deciding and convincing yourself it’s ok for you to try to do something – and a lot of the time it gets done.

The trouble is it often takes getting to that point of ‘Oh shit. What now??” for us to take a step back and actually look at our options in a way that makes us see there actually are plenty out there, if we just take things into account and break it down.

In my case, I made lists. I’ve made list after list of things I could do – things I love to do, things immediately available to me, things that require a bit of work and application to obtain – essentially, I’ve finally gotten the opportunity to sit back and look at myself and my talents for what they really are, and I’ve taken my options into account. Surprisingly, a lot of the things I’ve found myself lusting after passionately as a career path and way forward are only narrowly related or corresponsive to what I studied in college, which at first severely distressed me.
But I’ve come to realise that the time I spent in school and college, blindly working my way towards a degree that wasn’t going to directly walk me into full-time employment (hello, BA!!) was actually probably the best thing I could have been doing at the time.
Unless you are one of the small percentage of people who know exactly the career path they want to embark on and have done since being asked what you wanted to be when you grew up encompassed everything from an astronaut to a Man United player (I’m still holding out on becoming a ‘popstar’, but the days of shiny parachute pants and S Club 7 dance moves being over sadly won’t allow for exactly the picture I’d painted for myself to materialise), chances are you’ve found yourself in these horrors of the post-college life-crisis, where nothing seems certain, and The Fear seems to stretch out endlessly ahead of ahead of you as a result of a 3-year long session of not-having-to-think-about-being-a-grown-up.

As it stands for me right now, there is no guarantee of stable or definite long-term employment – but I’m ok with that. I’ve gotten this far, and it’s given me the chance to learn about myself and my talents, and to see the things I could bring to the world if I just shape them up and put my mind to it. I’m not going to say it’s easy, or that everything is going to be ok, and I can’t promise that for anyone else either. I’ve just finally come to the calm (and somewhat exciting!) realisation that the world really is my oyster right now. I’m just struggling a bit while I figure out exactly how to eat oysters – I’ve never tried them before.

I’m sure they’ll be delicious when I eventually figure it out, and their omega-3 fishy oils are only going to add to my life both nutritionally and cognitively. There’s just so much potential out there, and I’d encourage anyone struggling with this at the moment to just take a little while to look at yourself and what it is you love to do, what makes you tick. If your eyes light up when you talk about it – then you know you’re on to something. Don’t compare yourself to friends or family who seem like they have their shit together, or have it all sorted, because I can guarantee you – they don’t. Listen to yourself, your needs, your talents, and things might start making a bit more sense. I don’t know. I’m not even sure yet. But I know I’m excited to try some of these oysters.

Just in Case – A Thought on Progress…

The unpredictable and erratic Irish sunshine is shining in on me this evening through a window graffitied with stubborn raindrops from earlier on. The world both inside and outside of my room seems calm, as although the weather doesn’t suggest it, it almost feels as if things might be coming to some kind of even keel as the escaped hubcap of my life spirals slower and slower to a managable pace where it finally nears stillness – still dangerously exposed and raw in the centre of the road, yet standing there strongly, and balancing alone.
The sun and rain go on around it, contrasting elements living in direct relation to one another, which have recently been spending an increasing amount of time together. It leaves me wondering are they growing apart, or growing closer together? It seems we can’t have one anymore without being half-prepared for the other, many shops in town boasting attractive stalls of both umbrellas and sunglasses side by side in displays of diversity that would leave Aldi and Lidl speechless.
But co-exist they do, and ginger hair and pale skin aside, one without the other wouldn’t be a comfortable climate to live in either. In considering my emotions and progression over the last number of weeks, I’ve come to a similar conclusion and final acceptance (after years of awareness) that the bad does not necessarily always have to be bad, and must exist in order for the good to be as rewarding as it is. Basic and elementary as this realisation may seem to some, it has only been through putting the extremes and contrasts into practice, subjecting myself to their power and destructive abilities and consciously suffering the consequences of them that I have once and for all come to accept them for what they are, and finally, finally, slowly and reluctantly come to learn from it.
I’m ready to let go now of what I know does not serve me. The length of time between acknowledging this and being ready to do so was far, far longer than even I could even have anticipated, the struggle in between proving more confusing and unpredictable than a badly-kicked rugby ball. Yet my body and my mind have suffered enough, and letting go seems easier now that I can see myself and true potential for what it is.

I don’t know what the next month holds in store for me, or where my next pay cheque is coming from. I don’t know where it is I would be now if this low had not happened or been allowed manifest it’s gripping, grumbling emptiness within me. I can’t possibly know any of this, nor change how I was before. All I can do now is keep moving forward, building on the mistakes that were made and shunning the negative tendencies that will forever remain etched as a reminder of the strength of my own human will to do whatever it is I set myself out to do. Just because I’m not certain of what I’m setting out to do yet does not mean I won’t do it well, because now, instead of worrying and jumping to conclusions I cannot possibly predict or know the outcome of, I’m progressing forwards, in the comforting knowledge that I have been able to deal with and adapt to changes I didn’t expect or plan before, and I’ve made it this far to tell the tale. The tools I’ve gained from getting here will remain with me as long as I just remain aware, and maintain a certain balance in myself which only I can maintain.
I do not, and cannot know whether a rain jacket or a bottle of Factor 50 will be necessary when I leave the house tomorrow. But I know that both are packed away safely and neatly accessible in my bag – just in case.

In Case of Emergency…

Flight Safety

We’re all familiar with the drill.

‘In case of emergency, your oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above your head…”

There’s a reason airlines tell you to ensure your own oxygen mask is safely secured before you assist anyone else with theirs. Even if you’re travelling with a small child or otherwise incapacitated passenger who would require assistance, still the safety procedure instructions are the same:

Save yourself first.

In times of difficulty, be it low mood and sense of self-worth, injury or a more physical situation, there is nothing more important than taking the initiative to enlist in habits of self-care and self-love to ensure your bad day does not turn into a worse week, month or lifetime of unnecessary suffering.

‘Take Care”

While support and reassurance is vital and often hugely effective in relieving mental distress, sometimes the best thing we can do for others is simply to start taking care of ourselves. This of course includes reaching out and taking the steps needed to begin solving the problem, yet also covers the less obvious areas such as eating right, exercising, and implementing change for ourselves where we think is fit. The difference here being that the initiative to do so has come from you this time around, and not someone telling you what to do.

In times of need, stress, and dealing with difficult emotions, there is often nothing we (and Irish people in general) do better than to ignore our own basic needs.
Being kind to ourselves is just not something we have been brought up to do or think is alright. It’s seen as full of it, pigheaded, or even worse, and sometimes even in true Irish tight-lipped and harsh terseness: up yourself.

Not only is this self-deprecating and damaging to our own self-esteem in every imaginable way, but it also in it’s essence as a negative behaviour serves absolutely nobody as a belief or assertion.

“Core Strength”

In dealing with mental and emotional issues, though support from others is required and encouraged to aid with recovery, and is often some of the most successful therapy available, there is a certain strength and independence that can only be obtained by taking the reigns and personally placing your own safety mask securely over your own nose and mouth; whether that mask be in the form of a friend to talk to, a notebook, a song, doctor, or some other outlet.

In my own experience, doing for myself what I had for so long relied on others to do for me gave me a sense of inner strength and a liberation stronger than any I’ve felt before.

While all support, love, and kindness is essential and hugely appreciated when it is given, the nature of many personal difficulties and struggles lies in a lack of control and ability to break out of negative thought cycles and habits – something which is unique to each individual, and so even more difficult for others to understand and help with in times of need.

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Because turbulence is a pretty much inevitable aspect of navigating the skies today, and you can be pretty much guaranteed to hit areas of both low and high pressure as you make your way through life to any new place. What may sound like a basic routine of self-care for some is for others an unexpected and difficult mountain of old and damaging habits which must be scaled in order to obtain the same results. In finally realising one’s own ability to deal with and cope with one’s own emotions, thoughts and difficulties, there is a particular freedom and sense of individuality which allows us to finally progress forwards, and begin to pave a way for ourselves instead of crawling sheepishly in the trail of those we’ve allowed go ahead of us.

While we may all be in the same plane, and as such ultimately powerless to a system failure or crash should it occur, the least we can do is protect ourselves as soon as possible from further harm, and put our own oxygen masks on first.

Flight Safety
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31 Obvious Things We All Know Are Important To Remain Balanced But Generally Tend To Ignore

Let’s face it: we all know the things that are good for us.

In some deep-rooted corner of our stomach or diaphragm, or wherever you feel your instinctive urges, we know that staying up that extra hour binge-watching Netflix is going to result in googly eyes until lunchtime tomorrow.
But still we do it, because it’s easy to give in to the urges and not think about the future in those terms—wanting to prolong the feeling of contentment as long as possible, and at whatever cost.
But balance is something that only you can find for yourself. Health service and medical advice aside, you are ultimately the only one who can know your own body and mind, feel your own emotions, hear your own thoughts, and heed what works and doesn’t for yourself.
Listening to your body’s needs and being able to heed them accordingly are two very separate things, however, and too often we let things slip purely out of laziness or for simplicity’s sake.

Sometimes it takes a subhuman strength of will to haul my mind out of the gutter of magical, idealistic thinking, and into the simple reality of what is. Because reality is simple. Here and now, right here, right now, with no thoughts preoccupied with the future or with the past, I have a sense of peace and serenity that stems only from my situation in this present moment, and only this present moment.
There are certain things and environmental factors which I’ve noticed help me to achieve this sense of self and make it more accessible in times of distress.

So, in order to further promote this balance and help myself return here when it becomes necessary again (because even the most balanced person stumbles every now and then), I’ve compiled a list of things that help me personally to maintain balance in the midst of mental, emotional, or environmental chaos.

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1. Rise early. You may not catch any worms, but you’ll certainly get a headstart to the day and a chance to spend some time with yourself and thoughts in order to properly be able to figure them out before the day begins.

2. Eat well. (An oldie, but a goodie.)

3. Drink water—this speaks for itself.

4. Get enough sleep.

5. Listen to your body.

6. Wear sunscreen.

7. Spend time with yourself.

8. Spend time in nature.

9. Breathe.

10. Read books while travelling.

11. Read books in bed.

12. Just read books.

13. Travel often. Movement is key to living—“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.”

14. Lock your door and dance around (bonus points if it’s in the dark).

15. Sit in a bar or restaurant alone, and enjoy your own company.

16. Drink coffee.

17. Write things down.

18. Write yourself well.

19. Stretch daily.

20. Yoga poses soothe. You know this.

21. Exercise to feel your heart beat in your chest—to feel and stay alive.

22. Indulge in chocolate.

23. Make playlists of songs that make you feel.

24. Do things that make your eyes light up when you talk about them.

25. Spend time with people with whom you can laugh and feel alive, yet who will also remain steadfast and supportive in times of need.

26. Feel your emotions. They’re there for a reason.

27. Take care of your body. You are the only one with the power to do so.

28. Wear what you’re comfortable in. Nobody (yourself included) needs or wants to see you pull up your tights again.

29. Cleanse and moisturize daily—physical freshness can help to have & fall back on in the case of an unexpected mental shift during the day.

30. Give your full attention to someone if they’re taking the time to speak to you—even if you’ve no idea or opinion on what they’re saying.

31. Wherever you are, be all there. Mindfulness and being present in the moment is one of the most straightforward ways to be at ease with yourself and situation, yet ironically is generally the last thought to occur to us in times of stress.