An Open Letter To Ex Friends | Self Growth

First of all let me say, that if we split in a bad way then I’m no longer mad.

I understand that at the time neither of us were in a position where our actions were as mature or as thought out as they could have been. And for that I do have some regret. From where I stand now (and hindsight is a wonderful thing!) I do wish we’d shown each other a bit more respect, but sometimes the situation takes over and there’s no time for that.

Speaking of maturity, I really want to be able to say I forgive you for what you did; for whatever choices you made or the things you said either to me or about me. For the actions that now seem unnecessary.

But here’s the thing – I’m not great with forgiveness.

Although I’m not mad anymore about what may have happened between us, I will always look back on those moments with great sadness. Sometimes I still feel hurt. And since you can still bring that effect I’m not sure if I want to forgive you right now.

Although I’m sure that time will come, eventually.

But I can be big enough to thank you for what you’ve taught me. From our actions, I now know what kind of friendships I need to avoid and which ones I should nurture. I have learnt what damaging behaviours I have tendencies to and need to lean towards those who don’t encourage this.

I should also thank you for the good times. Cause despite how it all went down, if it was a bad one, or even if you’re simply no longer in my life anymore, we had a canny few in our time. I’m grateful for the growth and the lessons we have hopefully given to each other.

And I genuinely wish you all the best.


The main reason I wanted to write this letter was for me. As is the natural way, I’ve had some friendship break downs over the years and, in an act of self growth and development, I wanted to get a few things of my chest. A bit of closure I guess.

To the friends I am lucky enough to hold dear still, thank you so much. I don’t appreciate you enough.


I urge you to put past breakups behind you and try to focus on what you have now. I feel like we all need to give ourselves that break.

Speak soon,

Rachael.

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Why I’m Not Making Any Resolutions This Year | 2018

Every new year I get caught up in the excitement and hype of a fresh start. I vow to myself that this year will be different and I will become a totally new person. I set a list of new years resolutions that I hope will get me to that place and head on forwards with a bout of motivation.

… That is until about January 3rd when I realise that old habits die hard and fall back into my normal routine. And I know I’m not the only one who does this.

January has always been a bit of a strange month for me, and I’m sure many others. After all the excitement and celebration of Christmas, January just feels a bit underwhelming and I’ve got it into my head that it’s the worst month ever.

Now I am beginning to understand the power of your thoughts and mindset – how the things you think effect your physical being – I know how crappy this mentality is. Every year I start off on the wrong foot and end up making things worse for myself.

I’ve decided that 2018 isn’t going to be like that. I’m going to make sure I get off to a good start by entering it with zero expectations.

FREE YOURSELF FROM YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Now hear me out, cause I know this all sounds a bit grumpy. But I realised that every year I set myself up to be a failure.

I give myself these goals that, although I really do want to try, I know I will never fully accomplish. I enter each new year expecting myself to change completely and find myself disappointed to see that my habits haven’t dissolved immediately.

I understand the importance of setting goals and basically trying to better yourself, and I’m all for it – honest! However, I’ve made the decision that for 2018 I am going to free myself from my expectations.

Of course I will continue to face this new year with the excitement and motivation that I always do, but I’m just taking the pressure off. This past year has been a strange one for me. Although I have done some really cool things and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself and my progress, one of the biggest lessons I’ve taken away from it all is that I put too much pressure on myself.

I still have goals and aspirations; there’s still countless things I want to try in 2018; but I’m just not forcing myself to do any of it. My mental health has took a bit of a kicking over the past couple of years, so I recognise that I will not always be on top of my game. Having goals that are left unaccomplished makes me feel worse, so why would I do that to myself?

THE ALTERNATIVE

Although I don’t want to set solid resolutions for myself in 2018, I do still want to get on with things. So instead, to keep me steady, I have come up with a couple of words that I really want to focus on over the next year.

It’s been an idea I’ve seen floating around several blogs for a while now and I really like it. Take a couple of words, or phrases, that summarise the mindset, lifestyle or career that you want to achieve and focus on manifesting them as much as possible.

This is the first new year I’ll be entering where I am free from any education commitments. I do have my part time job, but for the first time in my life I have all this time to get on with what I want to do. And I’m for sure going to make the most of it by making sure I’m in the best head space possible.


Are you setting any new years resolutions? How do you get on with them?

I wish you all the best for the new year!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Lessons Learnt From 2017 | Festive Thoughts #1

This past year has been a mad one, don’t you think? I know how cliche it is to say this but it has honestly gone so fast – I don’t think I can even process the fact that 2017 is soon to be over!

To be totally honest with you, this year has been full of extreme highs and lows. And although it’s been a strange thing to go through, 2017 has provided me with so many learning curves and lessons to take along to the new year.

So what better way to celebrate the fact we’ve made it through another year, then to share what this one has taught me?

SELF – CARE IS HARD SOMETIMES

Contrary to what Instagram will tell you, self – care isn’t always face masks and Lush products. Of course it can be this, but there is so much more to looking after yourself then the luxury stuff and I think that’s hit me hard this year.

Sometimes, self – care can mean letting go of old friends who are no longer serving you or make you feel good, or sometimes we can lose friends when we put ourselves first. Both are painful and difficult situations to go through but are so worth it in the long run.

2017 taught me that I need to get serious about my self – care and I need to put myself first, or else I can’t be there for anyone else.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT, GODDAMMIT!

On a similar note, this past year has taught me that I need to practice what I preach when it comes to mental health and looking after yourself.

I am often very public about caring for mental health and I am the first to encourage my loved ones to take care of themselves. But for the longest time I didn’t take my own mental state seriously – and how that’s come to bite me on the arse this year!

2017 taught me that, regardless of how you’ve been in the past, you do have a mental health and it is something that needs to be taken seriously. Take care of yourself, be honest and seek help if you need it. We all struggle sometimes.

HARD TIMES = GROWTH, BUT OH HOW IT SUCKS!

Can you tell that this has been a little bit of a difficult year for me? ūüôā But as I said in the beginning, I’m actually feeling quite grateful for it all, as it’s allowed me to grow and learn so much.

Because this year has been so full of extreme highs and lows, I’ve learnt that you only really grow during difficult times. It’s those times that allow you to really get deep with yourself. You’ll learn how you cope, what triggers you, what makes you feel good and so on. But even though I know how beneficial these hard times can be, it doesn’t stop them sucking and it doesn’t stop the negative impact is has on me in the current moment.

2017 taught me how to cope better with hard times, how to lift myself back up and the signs to look for when things start going downhill again.

SOMETIMES YOU NEED THE DULL MOMENTS IN LIFE

Like I keep saying, there’s been some extreme highs and lows this year. One of which was my graduation in July, which was definitely a high! I had worked so hard for so long to get to that moment and although it was wonderful, and I still can’t believe I have a degree in a subject I love, life suddenly got in the way again.

I felt so underwhelmed for such a long time. After all that hard work, effort and fun I was now back at home, working in retail and, along with a bunch of other obstacles, I’ve found myself feeling like a failure for the past six months or so.

But being out of education and being away from creative/productive work has allowed me to relax and get a grip on my life again. University was a wonderful experience for me, but it also came with it’s difficulties and I now understand that I’ve needed some time away just to live. To get back in touch with myself, so to speak.

2017 taught me that there is value to every season of life. Comparison certainly is the thief of joy and just because your journey differs from those around you (or online!) doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Take things at your own pace and stop being so hard on yourself.


So there we have it! This has been a bit of a personal post and basically a summary of my 2017. How was yours?

Happy holidays!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

 

Dealing With A Bad Mental Health Day At Work

For the past few months my mental health hasn’t been in the best of places. With dealing with my graduation and impending ‘adult life’; starting a new job and some illnesses and issues within my family, things have gotten on top of me a bit and it’s been evident to everyone around me. Including my new colleagues.

I’m usually the kind of person who tries to keep everything under control and under wraps, but lately I just haven’t been able to hide whatever’s going on. So imagine my shock and embarrassment as I went into work yesterday (which was a better day) and was greeted with sarky comments on my improved attitude.

“Oh, so you’ve decided to talk to us today have you?”¬†

Now I know my colleagues weren’t commenting from a place of hatred or being deliberately mean. They were simply making a comment. And I guess I’m glad that I’m now in the kind of work environment where people notice what’s going on and will take time to ask how you’re feeling.

But that didn’t stop me feeling a bit embarrassed about my obvious bad attitude over the past few weeks and got me thinking about how I should handle it in the future.

Now I’ve spoken about self-care a few times on this blog, and I love that it is a popular topic elsewhere online. But even though it’s a topic I talk about a lot, I still struggle with it – especially when I’m going to work a lot and have to deal with my issues while still being present for my employer.

Following this conversation yesterday, and in an attempt to pick myself back up again, I’ve come up with a couple of ways to deal with a bad mental health day when you’re at work and can’t just huddle in bed like you’d want to.

FORGIVE YOURSELF 

Whatever happens today, when you’re at work, you need to forgive yourself for it. Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend or a loved one. If they came to you and said that they were having a bad mental health day and subsequently had a bad day at work, what would you do?

You certainly wouldn’t shame them or make them feel any worse. You’d (hopefully!) be kind and compassionate. So why shouldn’t you treat yourself the same way?

Unknown.2.jpg

USE YOUR BREAKS

Although there isn’t much you can do at work to try to make yourself feel better, as you’re too busy doing your actual job, most workplaces are entitled to a break of sorts.

It is absolutely vital on a bad mental health day that you make the most of your break. In fact I’d say it’s vital everyday, but I know how things can be. However when you’re feeling low, make sure you use your lunch break to maybe get out of your work environment – even if it’s just for a walk around the block. Use this time to have a calming cup of tea and eat something nutritious and yummy.

If you don’t get official breaks at work, ask a manager if you can take 10 or so minutes uninterrupted away from the shop floor. Bloody hell, even just take yourself to the loos and sit in there for five minutes! Just allow yourself some quiet time.

BE HONEST 

If you’re really struggling to handle work today, pull aside a trusted colleague or, better yet, speak to someone higher up and be honest with them about how you’re feeling and express what’s going on.

I understand how hard this may be, but if you’re really having a bad day letting those around you know is incredibly useful. This will help them understand why you may not be performing at your best which in turn may give you some peace of mind. Mental health is still something of a ‘new’ topic for workplaces, especially those I have experienced, but by being honest and expressing what you need together we can change attitudes and the way things are handled.

HOME TIME = TIME FOR SELF CARE

Regardless of how many breaks you manage to get throughout the day, it’s likely that you’ve not really had any time for some serious self care. Once you’re home, make sure you take looking after yourself as a priority.

If you have plans for after work and don’t feel up to them, cancel. Although there still maybe things you need to get done in the evening just take it slow. Start your self-care routine the minute you get home.¬†Things to include could be:

  • A long hot bath
  • Several cups of tea (decaff if you’re feeling anxious!)
  • Watching your favourite TV show/Youtuber for a few hours
  • Cooking yourself a decent meal. This can be whatever you feel like you need, but if you’ve been low for a while try include some greens (note to self). If you need comfort, carbs are you’re best friend!
  • Have an early night

Check out my Emergency Self Care Checklist for more ideas

START AFRESH  

And finally, despite everything that may have happened today, tomorrow is a new one. Take this evening to look after yourself, seek some motivation and inspiration so you’re ready to tackle tomorrow.

I’m aware mental health issues don’t just go away, but I know how much of an impact your overall attitude can have on your day regardless. By taking some time out this evening to support yourself, you will hopefully feel in a better mindset to deal with tomorrow.


How do you cope with a bad day at work? I’d really like to hear your advice!

Speak soon,

Rachael.

Emergency Self-Care: A Checklist

Self- care is a big topic online nowadays and although it is one of my favourite trends to have ever hit our screens (an open conversation about looking after yourself? Yes please!) it can be trivialised or even glamorised at times.

There are some times when having a Lush bath and pampering yourself just won’t do. Or maybe it will do but you need so much more too! In desperate times of need there are certain things that I’ve found can help me centre myself, relax and attempt to move forward and I thought I’d share them with you today.

Please note: if you are desperately struggling and things feel too much, please speak to a professional. There are useful links at the end. 

  • Make a cup of tea
  • Brush your teeth
  • Get up from where you are and go to a different room
  • Drink a pint of water
  • Wash your face
  • Have a body shower
  • Write it down
  • Eat something
  • Play music
  • Have a nap
  • Watch TV
  • Tell someone how you’re feeling
  • Go for a quick walk around the block
  • Have a hug with a trusted person

Whenever you feel like you need it, return to this list and see what you can do to help yourself right now.

I’m aware that some of these acts may seem a little trivial, but these are the immediate things I turn to when I’m in need and they have instant results. I know they will not cure you but they may make things a little easier, a little more bearable in the moment.

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What do you to turn to when you need self-care?

I hope this helped. If you do need further support, please check out the links below.

Speak soon,

Rachael


Materials:

(Inspiration) Emergency Self Care: Lucy Moon

What is Self-Care Anyway? (useful links in here too)

Questions to Ask Yourself When You Feel Bad:  Muchelle B

(Useful Links)

7 Cups: Free online therapy/listening service

The Samaritans: 116 123 (UK)

Mind: The Mental Health Charity

 

Self- Talk: Beware Of The Stories You Tell Yourself

I talk to myself an awful lot. And I’m not kidding, I mean a lot.¬†In fact, maybe I should be embarrassed for how many conversations I have with myself on a daily basis? I know I certainly feel that way when I talk to myself in public without realising, and meet the eyes of some unnerved stranger who totally saw the whole thing.

But then again, how am I supposed to know myself and eventually grow to love myself if I don’t have a chat with me? Talking to yourself can be an amazing release sometimes and can be a great way to psych yourself up when necessary. Unfortunately, more times than not the self-talk I give out is negative and I know I’m not alone in this.

The idea of telling yourself stories is something I first heard in this Shope Delano video (fabulous creator, must see) and was later explained in more detail in this Curly and Wordy post (yet another marvellous creator, definite must see). And even though it was laid out for me by these amazing women, and on the odd occasion elsewhere, it still took far too long for me to actually figure out what it actually meant.

Like I said, I talk to myself an awful lot. But I hadn’t realised that often it is the things I leave unsaid that cause the most issues. It’s those little beliefs of myself that I’ve created, and then clung to ever since, that cause trouble. I want to outline the stories I tell myself and how they interrupt my life, as well as seeing what ways I can change the self-talk I give myself to lead to an ultimately happier, ¬†more content me. ¬†Because self-care is important!

THE STORIES I TELL

“I’m an introvert, and therefore should avoid all social activities”

Learning that I am an introvert was very important for me and definitely helped me throughout my time at university. However there is a point when something stops being helpful and instead just becomes a hindrance, and my introvertism has become just that.

Although I can now accept that I actually need time alone to recharge, I find myself saying no way too often. In fact I say no so often, that there actually isn’t any need for me to take time out to recharge, as I haven’t done anything that could impact me anyway!

“I can’t trust people and, therefore, cannot have truly deep connections”

Although I do often struggle to trust people initially and like to take my time building connections before getting too comfortable, this isn’t even an issue. But for some reason I turn it into something I struggle with in my head.

I don’t have trust issues, I have just grown to be more selective about who I share my life with because I am at that stage in life where this is a possibility. By constantly telling myself that I struggle to trust others, I’m getting in my own way of making real connections with those already in my life. I become to fixated on what could be instead of living in the now.

“My mental health is not as important as I do not have it as bad as this person”

This is something I hate hearing other people say, yet say it to myself on a regular basis. ¬†I believe that everyone’s mental health should be something they consider a great importance, as it literally effects everything. It’s your health for God’s sake!

I understand that no one can truly understand what another person is going through, and the issues you have to deal with on your own (whether you have a condition of sorts or are simply having a bad day) are the most important ones to you, I somehow still can’t give myself a break.

I am definitely too hard on myself and don’t really give myself a break, which almost sounds like I’m bragging but trust me I’m not. I am slowly getting to grips with the fact I need to take care of my mental health too, regardless of what else is happening.

COMPARISON

Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison is another unhealthy habit I have too and it’s something I really want to work on. I compare myself to basically every person I meet or encounter and with the rise in social media and my total obsession with it, I am comparing myself countless times a day.

When I say comparing, by the way, let me be clear that I am comparing myself in a negative way. Whenever I compare myself to someone, whether that be our looks, our successes or even our personalities, I always come out on bottom. And I think that’s how it goes for most of us, which is tragic and ultimately pointless.

I know that there is only one of me and that everything I am is so unique. Through this I understand that there is no point in comparing myself to others, as I will never match up. Yet I still do it.

But, the first step in solving a problem is admitting that it’s there in the first place so here I am admitting it.

Now what?

MOVING FORWARD

In order to improve the way I talk to myself, and ultimately live my life, I first needed to be aware of the issues. Now I’ve clearly done that, I need to constantly keep checking in on myself in order to kick these bad habits.

Whenever I find myself giving negative self-talk I need to stop, check myself and remind myself of the impacts this has. I may have to implement some positive mantras that I can repeat when I catch myself talking bad and will definitely be looking for solutions (although not comparison!).

It’s going to be a long journey, and something I feel like I will always be working on, but I know that in order to feel better and live to my fullest potential, I need to commit.

After all, the only way I can make a difference to the world is if I start with myself. And I need to be kinder to myself and show myself that I am worth it, hence making this commitment to start treating myself a bit better.

What commitment are you going to make to yourself? And do you have any positive mantras you would like to share?

Thank you so much for reading this. I love self-reflection, self-discovery pieces and hope to produce more. Feel free to share any materials you have on this!

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials:

(Previously linked)

How I’m Going to Make Myself Proud in 2017: Curly And Wordy

Insights Into 2016 (part one): Shope Delano

(Further)

I Don’t Think That Affirmations Are Bullshit Anymore: Curly and Wordy

Stories of Triumph and Calling BS on Yourself: Shope Delano

How to Train Yourself To Be More Positive: Muchelle B

Self Love: Munashe

 

 

Calling All Freshers: Dealing With Homesickness

It’s that time of year again! Summer is almost over for those of you who are students and it’s time to think about what’s coming up next. I know for a lot of people, university will be at the forefront of your every thought at the moment.

As someone who has literally been there, done that (didn’t get the t-shirt, but I have a couple of hoodies does that count?) I feel like I can actually offer some genuine advice in this area and it’s something I have done a few times.

I find that the best advice comes from someone who has been through the same thing, and can therefore give advice from the other side and the topic I’m going to get into in a minute is something that I’ve had my fair share of experience with.

Homesickness is definitely a major worry for university students, as this is probably the first time in your life you’ll experience living away from home (if that’s something you chose to do. Of course, not everyone chooses to move home for university, and that’s cool- you do you, but I’m talking to the general bunch today) and it can be pretty tough at times. But there are ways to make is easier, tried and tested by yours truly, and that’s what I wanted to share today:

FAMILIAR THINGS

What often makes moving away to university so scary is the fact that everything is so different. You are no longer surrounded by the things you have probably had around you for the majority of your life, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

Normally before you move away, you’ll buy a ton of new stuff for your new student digs. But when you’re packing everything up, why not include some of your favourite bits from home? Pick out a couple of home ware bits*, like cushions or ornaments, that are in your bedroom at home to put into your new place.

Surrounding yourself with familiar things that you recognise and love will make you feel more at home wherever you are. It’ll make home feel closer so you’ll feel comfortable and able to get stuck in.

* You’ll be warned by your universities to not take anything too valuable to your new accommodation and I’d recommend you take notice of that. At least until you’ve gotten yourself settled in and figured out who you’re living with. Better to be safe than sorry!

PHONE HOME… REGULARLY¬†

Freshers’ week is such a busy time in the academic calendar, with all of the different events going on, and if you have moved to university the days just seem to fly by regardless of what time of year it is. So it is not uncommon for you to have gone a very long time without actually speaking to anyone from home.

This is okay, of course, but if you’re feeling a little homesick it can make things feel worse. When you’re out of contact with your family/friends/loved ones it can sometimes make you feel more isolated and alone than you really are.

To avoid this make sure you block out some time to call home. Block out a decent amount of time where you can go to your room, or a quiet place, and have a genuine conversation with those on the other end. If you can, try to make this a routine where at the same time every night, or every week, you call home and have a catch up.

It can be hard going from seeing and speaking to the same people every day to not seeing them at all, so try to keep in contact whenever you can. It’ll remind you that those you miss are never too far away and should make things a little easier to handle.

USE SOCIETIES AND ACTIVITIES

There are countless of opportunities to try new things and meet new people at university and one of the easiest ways to do this is to join a society. Every university has a bunch of various societies and clubs that are open for students to join (you’ve probably heard about them on open days) and are normally one of the most common ways friendships are formed.

I can’t really give too much advice on this one, as I was not actually connected to any society while at university. Most of the clubs and societies at my university were linked to a sport and I am so not a sporty person, so that was out of the question for me!

This isn’t the case for all unis however and there are normally clubs and societies to suit any interest. Take a good look during your Freshers’ Fayre and see if there’s anything you fancy. Most societies offer a week or so ‘free trial’ that’ll allow you to try a new sport or hobby without paying anything.

Or if societies aren’t your thing, most student unions host events throughout the year. These are normally always free and are a great way to connect with people you mightn’t have encountered otherwise.

Throwing yourself into clubs or activities is a great way to combat homesickness. It’ll encourage you to get out there, meet new people and be busy so you won’t have chance to think about home! Plus, if you’re having a good time and are making new friends you mightn’t feel as homesick as you’re making a new home for yourself.

KEEP OLD ROUTINES

Homesickness usually comes about because everything is so different to what you’re used to when you move away. And although this can be nerve-wracking at first, it is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your own routines and create a lifestyle that works for you.

In the meantime, however, you can stick to some of your old routines that you made at home. The easiest way I can think of doing this is by watching the same TV shows as you did at home. I know it seems a little trivial, but it can be so helpful. Again it’s about making things familiar.

If there’s a certain show you watch on a certain day, take some time out of your routine to sit down and watch it like you would at home. This tip isn’t massively practical during Freshers’ Week, as things are normally so busy around this time and I’d encourage you to socialise and get to know your flatmates first and foremost, but further on down the line it might become more helpful.

BE HONEST AND OPEN UP

Finally, if things are really feel to difficult and you find yourself struggling during university please speak to someone about it.

A good thing to remember at this point is that literally every other person who has moved out is going through the same thing as you, even if they don’t show it. Start a conversation with your friends about it and see if you can help each other. There are also counselling services that are free for students available on campus and I’d urge you to use these if you feel like you need to.

There will be student representatives and plenty of other members of staff around who are trained and understand exactly what you’re going through, so try to find someone to talk about it with.

If none of these seem too appealing for whatever reason, you can also seek support from your GP if needed.

Jack Kornfield


Living away from home while studying at university can be such a wonderful experience, and one I’m definitely grateful for having, but it can also be difficult at times and that’s okay.

I experienced homesickness on and off throughout my three years at university and luckily only experienced it negatively towards the end of my degree.

University is a weird and wonderful time and I know you’re going to have a brilliant time once you get there. I am so proud of you for all of your hard work and I wish you every future success.

If you have any tips for homesickness, or any university experience stories you’d like to share please let me know.

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials:

(Past posts on university: newest-oldest)

Here’s What No One Tells You About Finishing University

Freshers’ Week Essentials

Second Year Experience

A Guide to Taking Notes at University

Freshers’ Week: Expectations vs. Reality

Money Saving Tips That Actually Work

This is What They Don’t Tell You On Open Day!

Bloody hell I’ve done a lot!

 

 

 

 

Creating Just For The Hell Of It: Shame, Fear and Self-Care

It may be pretty obvious, as I have this little blog and did I creative degree, but writing is something that I really love. When I was a child, I would spent hours scribbling in notebooks and typing up stories, journal entries and poems. I was never afraid to share my work and on several occasions would hand out copies of my ‘books’ (ie. ten or so pages bound together in a folder) to friends, family and teachers.

And now I’m in a funny period of my life where I’m free from any major commitments, like school, and have a lot time on my hands. I keep thinking about all of these creative projects and things that I’ve wanted to get stuck into for the longest time and sometimes I’m successful (see any recent posts). But at other times I feel like I’m holding myself back.

THE PASSION AND THE PRESSURE 

As I explained in a recent post I have finally gotten myself back into reading and I am now reading a lot of fiction once again. This is something that makes me so happy as I finally feel like I’m pulling bits of myself together again. A bit of a dramatic way to describe reigniting a hobby, I know, but that’s how I feel.

And with reading a lot comes this burning desire to write a lot too. Like I said, this is something I used to do all of the time when I was a kid without any structure or plan. I would just pick up a pen (or open a word document) and get writing.

I didn’t think much then about whether what I was making was good or something people would want to read. I simply just made stuff because I wanted to and I had the time.

I feel like so many people have similar stories from when they were a kid, but then it always seems to fizzle out by the time we hit our teens. It’s so sad.

We suddenly become so aware of everyone else and become fixated on their opinions that it gets in the way and we stop being as creative as we once were. Of course there are other factors, like having less free time and so on, but I think this is the main reason.

THE INSPIRATION AND THE GOAL 

I’ve been re listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast, Magic Lessons, that I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here and I think it’s been a combination of all these aforementioned life things ¬†(the free time, the reading and the podcast) that have got me thinking a lot about this subject.

You already know, if you’ve read any of my past posts, that comparison is a major issue for me and it is a major barrier when I try creating things. And when I think about it now, I get so mad at myself.

For me, writing has always been a passion. It’s been the one thing that I have loved and actually felt like I am quite good at. Yet I still find myself restricting what I do because I’m not good enough or I’m not qualified enough or other people are just way better at it than me.

How frigging daft is that?

I know that we all get like this. I don’t know what your passion is, but I bet you could do it more.

Anyway, I’ve now had a realisation, or I guess I’ve just reconfirmed for myself, that I can just make stuff if and when I feel like it.

Writing non-fiction is something that I have been doing for so long now, what with my journalism degree and this somewhat lifestyle based outlet. It’s something I love and will continue to do, of course, but I now want to give myself permission to start writing other stuff too.

I stopped writing stories and poems when I was back in school, because I knew there were others around me who were better at it and who cared about it more than I did. But now at twenty one, with my degree still fresh from the printers, I want to start getting back into writing whatever I fancy- even if it doesn’t go anywhere.

THE SELF-CARE EFFECTS

Making stuff just for the hell of it is a wonderful and freeing experience. I know I talk about self care a lot on this blog, but this really is relevant to that conversation as well.

Allowing yourself to get involved with hobbies or activities that excite you is definitely an act of self-care in my book.

You’re being kind to yourself, you’re taking time out for yourself and you’re no doubt learning a little bit as well, whether that’s about who you are or about the craft.

So if you’re considering doing something creative, even if it’s something that you feel like you have no knowledge on or you think it won’t work out or whatever, I urge you to try it. Allow yourself to have a bit of fun and don’t put so much pressure on yourself!

It’s only art after all.

Please come and join me in this journey of making stuff just because we can and because we love it. I can’t wait to see what I get up to now I’m allowing myself and I’m so excited for you too!

Elizabeth Gilbert


I’d love it if you’d like to share some of your creative bits or even those that inspire you!

Best of luck and happy making.

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials:

Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert*

Brene Brown on ‘Big Strong Magic’

Your elusive creative genius: Elizabeth Gilbert (TED)

Am I Qualified To Be Creative? itswaypastmybedtime

Am I A People Pleaser? Ninkcompoop

 

Finally giving a fuck: justkissmyfrog

*(affiliate link used)

How To Get Out Of A Reading Slump

I love reading. It’s been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember and I love nothing more than getting lost in another world built by someone’s words. It’s something I even talk about occasionally on here too.

If you’re also a lover of books then you’ll understand the upset and torment I feel when I find myself in a reading slump. It’s such an awful feeling to have suddenly lost the joy from one of your favourite pastimes and is, unfortunately, something that happens more often than I’d like.

However, fortunately for this blog, because I have experienced the reading slump regularly (n fact just pulled myself out of one recently!) I feel like I can actually be of some help to those of you who might be struggling!

Here are the ways I work to pull myself out of a draught and bring myself back to where I want to be – reading:

  • STOP READING WHAT CAUSED IT

Abandoning a book can be a difficult thing if you love reading. Trust me I get it. For some reason you feel guilty, because you know that someone somewhere spent hours, days, weeks on that book and the least you could do would be to see it through to the end.

But then I finally saw sense. What’s the point in carrying on reading something that isn’t bringing you joy? There are so many other books out there!

If you’re in a reading slump, chances are it was brought on by something you’ve been reading. That doesn’t mean to say it isn’t a good book or even something that you won’t enjoy eventually, but right now it isn’t working so you might as well stop.

Put the book away and forget about it for now- you can always return later when the time is right. Allow yourself the chance to find something better.

  • FIND A GENRE THAT SAVES YOU

Whenever I’m in a reading slump, I tend to reach for chick-lit because somehow it saves me every time. This is something I only realised recently, but those feel-good, quick reads pull me out of a draught and helps me fall back in love with books again.

Now maybe chick-lit isn’t your thing, but there’s bound to be a genre out there that you love and that you know you enjoy every time. It could be memoir, fantasy, self-help and so on. The list is endless!

Next time you find yourself in a slump, reach for something that’s in your genre of choice and see if it helps. Reading something familiar, that’s still a brand new story, is sure to help you get back on track.

  • TAKE A BREAK

Some reading slumps are so deep that nothing will pull you out in a hurry. So why not listen to yourself and stop reading for a bit?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, so take a break. Leave your books on the shelf and dive into another hobby for the time being. Hopefully after some time away you’ll feel fresh and inspired to begin reading once again!

  • WATCH BOOKTUBE

Booktube is the YouTube community dedicated to reading, with countless of creators making content based on their love of books. I personally think it’s a wonderful space on the internet and is one that has helped me from time to time.

When you’re in a slump have a browse through the various vloggers and bloggers out there who are dedicated to books. Their passion and pure joy for the hobby is sure to inspire you.

They’ll show you what you’ve been missing and you’ll begin to see things in a better light, all of which such get you back into reading once more.

Check out the materials at the end for my favourite booktubers who have helped me.

  • RE-READ AN OLD FAVOURITE

Similarly to finding a favourite genre, returning to a once loved book can really help you get back into the hobby again.

For me, I will always return to Jacqueline Wilson who was my favourite author growing up. Sure the books are a little young for me now, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy them any less! Returning back into these stories that meant so much to me years ago reminds me how much I actually enjoy reading and motivates me to do it more.

When you can’t seem to find anything new to grab your attention, I urge you to seek out your out favourites and try them once again.

  • TRY AUDIO BOOKS

Now, I have to be honest here and say this one isn’t something I have much experience with but I do understand how helpful it can be. Personally, audio books aren’t really my thing (yet!) but if you’re just not into reading at the moment, listening to someone read is a wonderful way to still be engaged in the hobby without doing any of the work!

You could even listen to books you’ve already read previously and see if they feel any different in this format. Audio books may also be a great opportunity for you to discover new stories that you mightn’t have even considered before, as things can be more easily understood if someone else is explaining it to you.

Either way I know audio books have been very helpful to others in the past and they may just work the same for you.

Stephen King


Do you have any tips for getting out of a reading slump? Also, what’s your favourite book?

I feel like I kind of went back into my original type of content today and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Let me know if any of these tips were helpful to you, if you fancy.

Speak soon,

Rachael.


Materials:

(Favourite Booktubers)

booksandquills

cozyteareads

justkissmyfrog

Ariel Bissett 

Reaching Goals: A [Pretty Late] Mid-Year Update

I know it’s so cliche to say, and I swear its something I say almost every post, but how fast is this year going? I can’t believe that we’re already in August. On a personal level, it’s insane to think that I have now been a graduate for almost a month!

Anyway, it’s clear that time isn’t going to go any slower, despite my many pleas, so I might as well be productive and see where I’m at.

2017 was the first time I documented my New Years’ Resolutions publicly, an act that has it’s pros and cons. The pros are now that I can actually remember my resolutions (surely I’m not the only one who forgets a month down the line?) and can hopefully keep on track that way. But the cons are now that people know what I wanted to do and if I fail it could be a little embarrassing.

But what’s the point in being embarrassed when your keeping a personal blog, eh?

So now, let’s have a look at what my goals were at the start of 2017 and see how I’ve been getting on.

(You can read my original post here)

  • Travel More

In 2016 I managed to travel more that I think I ever had before and that was something I wanted to continue. I was going to render this one a total fail, but thinking about it I have been lucky enough to go on a couple of trips already this year, although to no where new.

For my birthday I spent a weekend in Whitby; I organised a night in Edinburgh with my two girlfriends and then just at the beginning of my summer, my family organised a little break to Blackpool which was wonderful as I hadn’t been there in over a decade! (Oh, I sound so old!)

I have also been travelling between my university home, my home home and my boyfriend’s house if we want to count that too, although none of these take me out of the North East!

VERDICT: This was a refreshing look back actually, I genuinely thought I’d failed big time here. I’m not sure how much more I’ll be travelling for the rest of the year, but I would like to continue to explore and hopefully seem some new places eventually.

  • Be More Spontaneous

I’m not quite sure where I was going with this one actually, but is New Years even New Years unless you vow to change something major about yourself?

I am a worrier and I like to have a plan. Not knowing what’s happening makes me feel nervous and uncomfortable, so it’s kind of odd that I’d put that kind of pressure on myself. Instead of trying to be more ‘spontaneous’ I think I’m going to flip this resolution on it’s head and learn to say yes more.

VERDICT: Well since I’ve changed the resolution to saying yes more, I’m going to judge myself on that and if I’m being totally honest I haven’t done too well here either. It will be something I will continue to aim for moving forward.

  • Blogging Focus

Oh, this one makes me sad because I was so motivated and naive back in January! I really wanted to work my socks off with this blog and create regular content, as it’s something I genuinely love, but university understandably took priority.

It took almost everything I have to get through my final year, including a lot of creative energy into my dissertation, which meant I didn’t have much left for blogging. Now I’ve finished university I’ve still been struggling to get back on track with various things, including producing content. I think I didn’t expect things to be so difficult after I’d finished and naively assumed I’d bounce back immediately.

Still, I’m making major efforts to get back on track and reorganise myself so hopefully things will improve from here.

VERDICT: This one is definitely a fail, as university was my main priority this year. Nonetheless, I am so happy I put my everything into my degree as it’s something I’ve worked towards for so long, and I came out with a grade better than I’d even dreamed! Now my life is settling back down a bit, I’m hoping I can get back on it.

  • Buy Less, Use More

I’m not sure how I’d consider this one. It’s something I have had some success with, but then I’ve also fallen off the bandwagon quite a bit! I am trying to use up all of my makeup and bath products, and could really go for ages without buying anything new, but every so often I slip up. And once I slip up, that’s it. I’m one of those people who can’t stop spending once they’ve started, which is tragic for my bank balance!

I discovered that, despite my initial interest, minimalism is definitely not for me but I do need to keep track of where my money’s going. I have recently made the decision to try to save as much money as I can once I return to work, and I really hope I succeed!

VERDICT: Despite some major fails, I have been successful at times with this one and I am trying to bring this goal back to myself!

  • Calm Down

This is a goal that I think I will have for the rest of my life! Like I’ve already said, I’m a worrier and that takes up so much of my energy on a daily basis. Yet, unfortunately I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

However, I did do quite well at university and managed to get a lot of my work done ahead of deadlines, allowing me to have a pretty stress-free last few months. This seems to be an unusual feat and I’m definitively proud of myself for this!

VERDICT: I don’t think I’ll ever be a calm person, as it’s just not in my nature, but I can manage my nerves and stress when necessary. Even when times are really tough I manage to get through it every time. My biggest success is surviving my final year at university!

  • See More Live Shows

I was very lucky in 2016 and managed to go to the theatre quite often, or at least on a more regular basis than I’d previously experienced. However, now my student days are behind me and my priorities have changed drastically since January.

I no longer have the finances to be able to go the theatre as often as I would like, although there are some shows and gigs coming up that I would love to see. I’m hoping that once I get back into work and have a regular pay check again, I can reignite my love for theatre but at the moment it’s just not a priority.

VERDICT: A lot of things can happen in eight months and that’s what this resolution has taught me. I no longer have the same goals I did have at the beginning of the year, even though this is definitely a lovely one, and there’s no point beating myself up about it.

  • Self-Loving

I am hoping that this is a goal that will just continue to grow and grow. Although I wouldn’t say there is a massive progress here, as I genuinely feel the same most of the time, there is definitely an improvement overall.

My major goal for this now is to really try to look after myself, like eating some vegetables and moving a bit more. I find this surprisingly difficult with my lifestyle at the moment, but as with the majority of these goals, I’m hoping it will improve when I get into a decent routine.

VERDICT: I will continue to have good days and bad days in terms of my relationship with myself and I need to continue to be kinder to myself and appreciate the good days.

Theodore Roosevelt. 2


Do you believe in New Years Resolutions? How are you getting on with yours?

Here’s to making the most out of the rest of the year! We’ve got this.

Speak soon,

Rachael


Materials:

Am I Reaching My Goals?: booksandquills (This was my inspiration behind this post)

How To Slay The Next Six Months: Muchelle B