#20 Surprises out at Sea

Last weekend, I took a trip to Edinburgh, a place which always feels like my second home.

I escaped the city on the Saturday and took a trip by train to the neighbouring town of North Berwick. There, I caught a Seabird cruise to the islands of Craigleith and Bass Rock. I admired the thousands of gannets which have colonised on Bass Rock, ever increasing in numbers now that humans have left the island.

Gannets at Bass Rock

Gannets at Bass Rock

Craigleith is home to puffins during the summer months but this time of year we didn’t see any of those. Instead I was amused by the Cormorants who stick their wings out to dry whilst perched on the rocks, almost as if they are about to give you a hug!

Heading back towards the mainland, the boat got radioed to say there had been a sighting of dolphins! Not part of the original itinerary but a welcome surprise. We then caught sight of a pod of around 8 dolphins, some of them playfully following our boat. What a delight! They are such beautiful and graceful creatures and it was such a pleasure to see them leaping and diving at sea, in their natural environment. They are also sociable beings and were very accommodating to the couple of boats who were packed full of tourists all dying to get a glimpse of them.

Dolphins in North Berwick

Dolphins in North Berwick

As we made our way back to North Berwick harbour, I was thinking how resilient nature can be. They get on with their days, their routines whilst we often poke and prod in their environments. They keep going, keep adapting and going forward and often, as humans, we aren’t so good at adapting in the right way.

We can learn a great deal from the creatures around us and I hope in time that we can all build a mutual respect for the world around us.

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#19 Raindrops are beautiful

Isn’t it great to wake up after fresh rain and see a sparkling coating of raindrops on leaves and flowers, highlighting spiders’ webs and lining gates like diamonds.

Raindrops in the early morning

I love how the simplicity of a water droplet can make something look so beautiful. Like setting a magnifying glass to the ordinary. It draws you in, focusses you on the shape, colour and size of a leaf, or flower.

It points out webs, attached to your door or garden fence and you see the intricacy, the symmetry and the strength of the spider’s work, which ordinarily passes you by. You see webs in the grass, attached to taller grasses and then you notice the different greens and browns which usually look all the same.

You see a new flower shimmering like jewels in the morning light and then you discover new shoots, glistening with fresh rain. The rain creates a crystal clear, high-definition picture of your garden, your nature. It wipes clean your clouded, faded vision and offers you a new one. One that is gleaming and new.

I love the smell after rain, so fresh and clean. And in the morning, when it’s quiet, you can appreciate the stillness and majesty of nature. It brings about an awe-inspiring feeling and makes you really appreciate the world around you, lit up in raindrop jewels for all to see.

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#18 How To Cut The Stress And Stay Cool, Calm & Collected

I was listening to an episode on one of my favourite podcasts, Zestology, about relationships featuring John Gray (author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus) and his advice stood out when it came to hormones.

I feel that my hormones are like having a constant battle inside me, highs and lows, emotions in extremes, never quite knowing what mood is coming next. And I also feel that society, and our lives today, stress us out, which is not good for oestrogen levels – a hormone which is incredibly important for women to help us operate at full potential and remain calm, collected and caring.

It occurred to me that my daily commute to work, where I often find myself becoming angry at some of the drivers on the road, coupled with a day at work filled with negotiations, compromises, conversations, decisions and deadlines is probably the worst combination and the greatest fuel for stress.

Gray pointed out in the podcast that when fuelled by stress our oestrogen levels decrease leading to females being more ‘male’ which can come out in many forms, such as thinking patterns of ‘I don’t need a man’, ‘I don’t need marriage’ and ‘I can look after myself’. When translated back into a current relationship this means that frustrations come out as the man seeks to provide for a woman that, due to stress, essentially is thinking like a man!

Now I am not saying that women need to remain meek and mild and let the man do everything. No, no, no! What I am trying to get at is that a lot of frustrations in our most intimate relationships are brought on by stress and that we feel out of control, unable to reach our compassionate side and open our hearts. So we close off, we get defensive, we protect ourselves. Not great for a good relationship.

This insight was a great relief for me to hear because, firstly, it made me realise what was causing some of my own frustration and, secondly, helped me pinpoint areas in my life where I am able to reduce my stress through practising more self-care and giving myself permission to switch off for a bit, disconnect from social media and reset.

The times I feel most relaxed, loving and calm are at the weekends, when I have the days stretched out in front of me for walking, reading, writing and socialising. Things I love, right? This is why I am determined to look at going freelance, cutting my travel and choosing work I love.

I don’t hate my job but I do hate the stress is brings. I want to be able to keep my oestrogen levels up and stay calm for my own sanity, for my relationships and for my long term health.

Stress should not be seen as the normal. It is not good for us and science has frequently shown that stress is at the core of many other health issues and diseases.

We only get one life and I don’t want to look back in 40 years and think ‘I wish I had spent less time stressed out and more time enjoying life’.

And so I have written 10 commandments, ways to help cut the stress in life and stay calm:

  1. Thou shalt not reply to your emails or messages the minute they arrive.
  2. Thou shalt log out of all your social media accounts and not feel bad about it.
  3. Thou shalt say no to social plans when you need time on your own to recover.
  4. Thou shalt take time to sit still and just breathe.
  5. Thou shalt spend no more than 5 minutes being angry at work.
  6. Thou shalt leave work on time every day, no matter what.
  7. Thou shalt use your evenings only for things you love doing.
  8. Thou shalt get outside every day and walk in nature.
  9. Thou shalt remain open-hearted to the people who love you, unless proved otherwise.
  10. Thou shalt have a positive outlook and keep smiling!

I am going to print these out and stick them on my wall as a constant reminder. Here’s to a stress-free life!

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#17 When You Suddenly Realise What You Want

Today is not a Monday, but it feels like one. Perhaps because of the bank holiday yesterday. It’s the start of a new week, a new work week.

All in all a pretty good day – the sun was shining, I had a laugh with colleagues and got out for a walk after work. Yet when I get home and sit down after dinner, I feel low.

My theory on this is more than just Monday blues. It’s the adjustment from the ‘freedom’ of the weekend to the ties of the working day. And I am a very independent person, I don’t like feeling trapped. I think, in truth, I never will suit an office job but I do it because… Because why? Because society says that’s a good way to earn money? Because I am scared to go it alone? Because I am good at it? All of those.

Enough now. The Harvest Moon is about on the 6th September in the UK and I intend to make the most of its invigorating rays. I want to be able to stand outside, look at the moon and know that my next steps are clear.

Harvest Moon

I want to feel right. I want to write a business plan. I want to be brave enough to start up my own business. I want to be strong enough to know that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, or do anything just for the sake of it.

This next year is mine. I have decided to own myself. Own everything about me. I am owning it because there is no one else to and I need to be at peace with myself before I move forward.

Suddenly I don’t feel low anymore. I feel motivated, determined, happy and full of life. And all brought on by the upcoming harvest moon!

Thank you moon.

 

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#16 A Yearning For Wilderness

Isle of Skye

Wilderness. It encompasses a lot of things and conjures up a lot of different images.

My version of wilderness is the Scottish Highlands, a true raw beauty which is hard to do justice on paper.

Being there, seeing it and standing amongst the mountains, you feel a truly awe-inspiring sense of purpose. It is inspiring yet humbling, rugged yet magnificent, loud yet quiet.

Experiencing the space of the Scottish Highlands, of the vast expanse of land it covers, of places some of us have never and will never get to visit is unique. To think that those mountains have stood for thousands of years before us and will be there long after we have gone. To think of the stories they must hold.

The wild makes us feel free.That’s why we are drawn to it. It takes us away from the stresses, burdens and speed of everyday life. It is a form of escapism.

We need it. We need this space to appreciate the beauty which is around us. It may not be one of the seven wonders of the world, but I would argue it is far better than any of those.

Recently, I have had a strong desire to go and be somewhere wild – perhaps a sign that I need a break, a chance to reset my internal rhythm. Yet, how often do most of us listen to this urge? Hardly. We plod on, burnout and end up over-worked and stressed out.

Take that time. Make the trip. Breathe in the air. Do nothing but walk, write, read, paint and rest. Allow it to recharge you, to bring you back to 100%.

The wilderness is nature’s best therapy. And it’s free.

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#15 Be Grateful for the Good and the Bad

We are often told to be grateful for all the wonderful things in our life, to remind ourselves how lucky we are. And I agree because I do this.

But how about the things that happen to us which aren’t great but they lead to something great? Surely they are worth our attention too.

I got thinking about this the other day when I returned late from work, feeling shattered, but then got invited out for a drink with a girlfriend of mine and had such a lovely time. Or when I was stuck in a long queue of traffic but got to see the most beautiful views from the road I was on. Every cloud has a silver lining and without the bad stuff, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate the good things!

So I created a kind of mantra for myself, which particularly helped me on a rainy Monday morning at the start of a busy week, when all I really felt like doing was turning over and going back to sleep. And it’s simple, I just say ‘Today is a blessing’. Those words, to me, instantly make me feel more grateful and it definitely helps to put things into perspective.

It’s like emotions too, we are told ‘Don’t be sad’ or ‘Cheer up’ when actually we need sad moments, we need a good cry every now and again. It’s ok to feel like that. We can’t be happy 100% of the time, our emotions are there to help us react, recover or communicate something. So next time someone tells you to stop moping around, ignore them. Do your thing and own it!

We need to practice being better at looking out for ourselves, being self-aware enough to know that you might be having an off day but you know by the time you get home, you will have perked up.

Something I use to keep track of my moods, which is quite insightful when looking back over previous months, is a free app called Daylio. I have no associations with them (this isn’t an advert) just thought some people may find it useful. It’s not intrusive and makes you much more aware about how you’re feeling and what triggers it.

Be grateful for your down days and your up days because sometimes we need to get stuck into a rut to realise we are in a rut and get out of it.

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#14 We Are All Like Rainbows

A rainbow is an arc of spectral colors that appears in the sky opposite the sun as a result of refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain.

Rainbow

And like the refractive dispersion of rainbows, which causes different colours to refract at different angles, humans reflect different emotions depending on how we are feeling.

Like rainbows, we all reflect something, whether it’s hope, ambition, optimism, cynicism or sadness. We carry around our own colours, feelings and emotions, which can change depending on which angle you look at it. With an upbeat, good friend, your positivity and hope shines through but with a angry or frustrated colleague, your own frustrations and cynicism take root and grow.

Like rainbows, we are all beautiful, we all have our moments to shine. Moments which may have come about because of good times and bad times but nonetheless we made it, our colours are visible for all to see.

Like rainbows, our colours are part of who we are, they don’t start or end at a specific point, they simply blend into another part of us, and the world around us.

Like rainbows, we are complex and intriguing in many ways. We have multiple layers, many standards and rules to follow but you don’t see all of that from the outside. So often people only see a small part of who we are and fill in the rest themselves.

Like rainbows, we are all capable of bringing a smile to someone’s face, of giving hope to people, of making people wonder whether there really is a pot of gold where you’re going.

Like rainbows, we don’t last forever but we do bring joy when we around. Precious moments are there to enjoy and we can never take them for granted.

And finally, rainbows are like life; diverse and exciting and to be treasured like gold!

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