Why Autumn (Fall) is my Favourite Season 

I love Autumn. I love the crispness of it. The humidity of summer is fading away and the air is cool, energetic, buzzing. Sweat doesn’t haunt every crevice of your body, your clothes aren’t damp after a long day at work.

Leaves crunch satisfyingly beneath your boots and you wake up on Sunday mornings to the sound of rain on the window pane, the sweet lull of the pitter-patter creating the perfect rhythm for a sleep in.

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The world changes, sure the weather gets colder, but the atmosphere feels different, the air has a different flow. There is a distinct shift. Autumn brings a translucency that isn’t present in any of the other seasons, the light is heavier, diffused over the landscape, orange and burning. The air is lighter, the denseness of summer faded, breathing comes more easily. There is a crackle about, where the cool, fresh, and invigorating breezes meet the flame of light that perches on the tip of a hill in the afternoon. Autumn is my favourite season because it is electric.

I think one of the main things I truly adore about autumn, is that coolness in the air; that relief from summers hot gaze.autumn outfitYou can wear jeans again, and light jumpers, cardigans, skirts and tights and boots. Beanies won’t cause you to break out in a sweat, and scarves are as functional as they are fashionable. You get to snuggle into blankets, spoon pillows and surrender to the warm and smothering caress of your favourite throw.

No more short shorts, singlets and other horrible, heat-preventing items of clothing that look great on a model, or Taylor Swift, but not on a short, chubby, extremely pale girl with very low self-esteem. I am much more comfortable in jeans, thank you very much, and that’s why I really love Autumn.

Images herehere and here

Five Shows to Watch when you’re Dealing with a Break-Up

Breaking up with someone is HARD. It hurts, and it’s messy and it’s never fun.

I know these things because I have had more than my fair share of break-ups. The three big ones were just before I turned 21, when I was 24, (a milder one at 27) and then a pretty devastating one two years ago when I was 28 that saw me leave him in another country (luckily the last one had a happy ending). And of course all the insignificant splits in-between. There were, of course, many coping mechanisms that I learnt over the years, and one of the great ones is the need to vent and mourn and get all the emotions out of the system. And my favourite of these is watching TV shows. Binge watching to be precise.

TV has so much to offer in regard to dredging up emotion, depending on what you need to feel. So, here are my top five TV shows for purging all negative emotions that come with a break-up.

1. Dawson’s Creek

dawsonscreekThis is my number one because it’s the show I can watch a hundred times, without getting sick of it, as annoying as all the characters can be. These are, for me, the TV characters I grew up alongside, and their life lessons were very seriously heeded. The key to Dawson’s being a great break-up show is that it is full of break-ups. It’s full of people being in love, too. And most people think that this is a bad thing when you’re trying to get over someone, however I beg to differ: watching something full of emotion, love, lust, fun and pain brings all your thoughts of the person you’re trying to move on from to the forefront, which, for most people, is something you need to do to get on top of everything, and eventually, move on. This is the show to watch if you need to cry.

2. Sex and the City

sex and the citySex and the City is a brilliant show to marathon while going through the first stages of a break-up, trust me, I’ve done it twice. The amazing thing about this show, is that Carrie is actually giving you advice about your love life, she is literally telling you how to deal with your break-up. It’s genius, and it makes you feel so much better remembering that there are hundreds of thousands of women who have gone through exactly the same thing you are currently going through. Plus it’s nice to see some real, successful women struggling with what you’re struggling with, reminding you that break-ups happen, and being upset about them does not make you weak. This show is a must to get your head into a space where you are prepared and ready to face the break-up head on.

3. Friends

friendsWhen you need to laugh, this is the one. I tend not to trust people who do not love this TV show. This is truly a classic, and most importantly, it’s funny, and laughing really is a great medicine, so do it, and often. Watching this show is also really good at making you feel a lot less alone, with six characters (perhaps even more) who are very relatable to, and very, very lovable. However, the best way to watch Friends during a painful break-up is with your own friends, and with chocolate (just make sure that it’s over before you go out and meet any new people, and not just on a break).

4. Girls

girlsGirls is just what it sounds like, a TV show about a bunch of girls. Of course, there are boys, and the odd man, but for the most part this show is about girls, and that’s what we need when we are hating on men (not like ‘angry crazy-feminist’ hating, but just ‘I hate you for hurting me’ hating). Our girlfriends, mothers, sisters are who we go to when something like a break-up strikes, but for those times when you do just want to be alone, it’s nice to still have some smart, witty, funny and awkward female company to help you start feeling better about yourself. This is the one to watch to laugh and forget about assholes for a while.

5. Chuck

chuckThis one is in the list as being one of my favourite TV shows, but also as being the show that re-teaches you that hope and determination sometimes pay off. That the happy endings are waiting for us somewhere out there, we just need to be patient. Plus the show is funny, geeky, and has a very absorbing story line. But really, I think the best thing about this show are the great characters, and their complex and almost real-worldly relationships (don’t we all wish we could be spies!). This is a fun show to watch, and it is worth investing in, and it makes your heart sing, and hurt and helps emotions flow. But mostly, Zachary Levi is awesome, and really, really cute.

So next time a guy has you down, when you’re eating way more ice-cream than you know you should, and your chest hurts from gasping for air, and your tear stained face looks like complete crap – flick on netflix or grab a DVD, and force yourself you get all the emotions out, and start to feel a little more free. You will cry, you need to, but you will feel better for it, I promise.

Images via herehere, here, here, here, and here.

Why I Keep Quitting the Gym

So I have done a lot of back and forth between being a gym goer, and not.

Most of the time, I quit the gym because it costs a lot of money. If you can’t find the time (and motivation) to go at least four times a week, then you probably aren’t getting as much value from all that money you’ve invested as you should be. Don’t get me wrong, the gym can be great. The gym that I was a member of had great, new equipment, a large variety of classes and a pool; so really, value for money was there to be had, if only one had the time and motivation to take it. I also liked going with my friends, but of course, it was hard to find the time, the classes are great, but when you work retail hours, late nights and weekends, it’s hard to find time to fit in a scheduled class, or to drag oneself out  of bed to be at class for a 6am start. run-inspiration-4But the main reason I find the gym somewhat offensive, is that it is demotivating. I find myself constantly comparing myself; comparing my lack of effort, body image, even the way I use the equipment compared to someone who is obviously super fit. This is toxic – we should NOT be comparing ourselves, or making ourselves feel worse. We need to LOVE our body, because if we don’t, we won’t get anywhere. So for me, this time – this is why I quit the gym. To stop the comparisons.

We all have busy schedules, we all manage to find excuses, but we all know (however deep down it may be), that we really should be active in some way or another. Personally, I find it easier, and less stressful to work out on my own, or with a friend, at home or at my local park, or even just around my local streets. I have only just recently decided to once again quit the gym, and go back to working out at home, mainly because I have stopped making progress and lost my motivation, I need to start working for myself again, and not for other people, and not in comparison. workoutequipmentSo I went out to my local rebel sport store and picked myself up some more gear to get myself motivated and FIT. I picked up a 5kg medicine ball, and a 6kg kettle bell. This adds to a skipping rope (jump-rope), yoga mat, 2 x 2kg dumbbells and 2 x 4kg dumbbells. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough to keep myself active, and help build up strength and get fitter.

fitnessboardThere are so many ways you can work out, at home, without paying crap loads of money. the great thing about buying your own fitness equipment, is that even though it costs a bit upfront, these purchases will pay themselves back quite quickly provided they get used. There are quite a few home workouts, fitness and health tips, recipes and more on my pinterest fitness board. In fact, they are all over the internet, you can find them everywhere. This thing I love the most about doing it yourself is that there is no schedule; you can workout whenever it suits you, and do whatever workout you feel like, the key is just making sure you do something as often as you can.

I tend to workout six times a week, for half an hour or more, and have one rest day. Of course there are always times that I don’t get as many workouts in as I want, when I’m not well, or I’m having a bad week. Of course, I will still, every now and again, make excuses, want to stay in bed, or just not feel like working out. I think on these days, it is most important to try and make yourself workout, it feels so much more rewarding. However, it shouldn’t feel like a chore, if you’re not enjoying your workouts, then it will be harder and harder to lose weight or get fit.

yogabunnyPicking activities that you enjoy is an absolute must. In my humble opinion, yoga is a must in any workout regime, not only is it really great for strength and flexibility, it is also brilliant for mindfulness. Yoga is also great for relaxation and getting on top of anxiety, which you can read more about here. Tara Stiles has some amazing videos and tips for Strala yoga, of which she is the founder. She has a website and youtube channel and her videos are not only very easy to follow, but they also encourage you to work at your own pace, which is why I think a lot of people tend to shy away from yoga.

I also really enjoy walking (with the occasional jog thrown in), it’s great cardio and just super easy. Get up, get dressed, grab some awesome tunes and just go. I usually walk around my local streets, and am done within an hour. It saves me time and I genuinely enjoy it. My other major activity is interval training, I use my equipment that I mentioned earlier, and I set myself a timer, 40 second intervals with 10 second recovery. I choose four to five exercises and do around three to four rounds. This is a really good way to fit a workout into a busy day. But the best part is being able to do this all in my own time, my own space and I can push myself as hard, or not, as I want. And there is absolutely ZERO judgement. Over the past couple of years, my weight has gone up and down, continually, and I usually find the best results happen when I am working at my own pace. Motivation, self belief and enjoyment are the way forward when it comes to fitness.

And that is why I keep quitting the gym. Now to work on my eating habits…

Magical Forests…

So this evening I stumbled across a post over on Bored Panda, and it contained some of the most stunning images of forests from around the world; honestly some of the most stunning photography I have seen in a while.

These photographs evoke a sense of adventure in me, a desire to be lost, to be alone in a surreal world to find myself. They are truly magical.

The post features gorgeous scenery from places such as Hallerbos, Belguim:
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Peak District, UK:
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And the Misty Forest:
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“Forests have an ancient and mysterious charm that keeps us all coming back, whether we’re photographers looking for the perfect shot or just travelers and weekenders. An expansive, natural and healthy forest is like a cathedral erected to the glory of nature, which is probably why we find these photos to be so stunning.”
Lina D

The photographs were too stunning not to share. This is a list that can be contributed to, so if you have any amazing photographs of forests in your home country, feel free to contribute!
You can see the full article at Bored Panda. .

The Ups and Downs and ‘Are you Okays?’ Of Bipolar

Mental illness is not an excuse. It’s not a scapegoat and it’s not a free ride. It’s hard and crushing and difficult, and it can break lives apart. Or you can do your best to live with it and make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt.

I was first diagnosed with manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, when I went through a particularly hard break-up during my university years, I was 24 years old. It was scary and difficult and my friends at the time didn’t really understand it. To be honest, people around me now still don’t really understand it. There are only so many times you can answer ‘Are you Okay?’ with ‘There’s nothing wrong’ when people are poking and prodding and not have them believe you because they simply don’t understand.

The thing about bipolar is that there usually is no reason for the down periods. You are not just sad, you are not just having a bad day. You are depressed, and that is not something that you can’t just shake off and get over. It’s not that easy. I can manage my depression, I’m not suicidal, I haven’t taken medication in a few years and that’s something I’m usually quite proud of. But every now and again I have a bad day or a bad week and I’m just down. I’m not bubbly, or happy, or fun; I’m just down, with a side of irritability and anxiousness. Not many people can do anything to make me feel better (there are a small handful who can), and most people just seem to think that asking what is wrong and enticing me to talk is going to help. And to be honest, it doesn’t. It’s just more frustrating.

Most of the time I’m fine. It’s not something that I introduce myself to the world with – ‘Hi I’m Sam and I have Bipolar’. No, that is not a label that I tend to advertise to the world as easily as I do being a geek or a writer.

5bebe4e4a9faf853d301d917772b3f44Bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes extreme mood swings. I can be exceedingly happy and grateful and positive, and then other times you couldn’t get any lower, you just want to close the curtains and curl into a ball and cry, and cry, and cry. If you are genuinely interested in what bipolar is you can find out more at the hundreds of websites that have been set up in support of people with bipolar disorder, but here’s a handy infograph to make it easy.

I’m very lucky that I have a very supportive family, friends and boyfriend. But there are always the odd few who will never understand and make it their business to get all up in your business. Being anxious and over self-aware and judgemental, kinda miserable and very irritable leads to a not very positive response to the constant ‘Are you Okay?’s ‘What’s really wrong’s and persistent ‘Why are you so sad? Just be happy’s. I know most people think they mean well, but these comments are toxic. They drive you to believe that there must be something wrong with you, that you can’t just be you, that there’s a reason, there has to be a reason, and they desperately need to know what that reason is. I can’t tell you how sick I am of making excuses, of coming up with some reason or another as to why I’m not my ‘bubbly self’ this week. The truth is, that that ‘bubbly’ side isn’t really me either, that’s the up that shows such a harsh contrast to my more frequent down.

a93a931f6a60a535d76b44eee2d941e3Having said that, my bipolar is not an excuse either. When I am asked the question ‘What’s wrong’ and the answer is ‘nothing’, that is the truth. When I say it’s my bipolar, that is not an excuse, that is what is actually happening, it’s fact. And it’s not easy, I would LOVE for the answer to be something else, like having a fight with my boyfriend or getting a shitty fine. While shitty things influence my mood in general, I’m not saying they don’t, when it is bipolar, it’s not caused by anything, there is no catalyst. I don’t know what mood I’ll be in when I wake up in the morning, I can’t predict how I’ll feel. I don’t know what’s coming and unpredictability is really scary. People have left me in the past for less than a depressed week, they can’t handle the mood swings, the ups and downs, the snappiness, the unpredictability. This is partially why I had such a deep distrust of men, thinking they were constantly doing wrong by me, not knowing the whole time that I was, and not narcissistically, the problem.

I’ve found a place where, aside from the constant lack of understanding, I am able for the most part to manage my illness, and am actually leading a very normal, and boring, little life. I just wish that other people could leave me alone to do it in peace without needed to know what the catalyst is for every bad day – because sometimes, it’s you.

At the end of the day, it’s frustrating that there is such a lack of understanding and a huge amount of taboo still placed on mental illnesses. So many people don’t understand them, and that lack of understanding affects people with mental illnesses every day. So yeah, it’s nice to care, and it’s nice to have people who care, and asking someone who is sad if they are okay, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But an understanding of what that person is actually dealing with, what they are actually going through, would help them a whole lot more.

You can also read my essay: Stress and its effects as a result of Bipolar Disorder Including Interventions to Treating Stress for more information.

Begin Again

So, sometimes you make a big decision, and it just doesn’t work out. What can you do but pick yourself back up, compile a new plan and start again? Because life doesn’t stop, and you’ll still turn thirty.

Well that’s exactly what I did at the beginning of last year, at twenty-eight and after two failed months in London, with no job and no relationship – having given everything up to chase a dream, and giving what I chased up to come back home. Starting fresh was hard, but it has been so so rewarding.

I could have taken the easy road and gone back to my old job for security, but I didn’t want that, I didn’t want to go back to that old life, I needed something new, I needed to find something that fit the ‘new me’. Not that I had changed, but I had gotten older and I had purposely left that part of my life behind, it was my past and that’s where I needed it to stay. So when I accidentally stumbled into my new job, and it started building itself into a career, things just felt right. And everything else just started to fall into place too. And I was happy.

I now have an amazing, supportive, fun group of friends, some old, some new, who I love like my own family. I have a strong sense of who I am and where I’m going. I have control over my life, I’m getting fit and healthy and staying positive – I’m so much happier and no where near as angry as I have been known to be in the past. And I have the most wonderful and supportive boyfriend I could ever ask for, who loves me for me, flaws, anger annoyingness and all. Things really have just fallen into place, and I guess, even with a few things still a bit up in the air, and a couple things I still need to achieve (like getting my book published, travelling more and meeting at least one of my idols) I find myself in a pretty fantastic place for a woman about to turn thirty.

I think the three most important things that I have learnt this year that have helped me reach a place of such solid contentedness, would be the following:

1. The past really is the past, leaving it there and moving forward is the key to staying sane and being really happy. Deal with it if you need to, face it, write about it, talk about it, get it out, whatever you need to do – then stop talking about it, writing about it and thinking about it and move on. Done.

2.Be yourself and don’t give a stuff what anyone that doesn’t matter thinks. You are you and you’ve worked long and hard to get here. Do the things that make you happy and be proud of them, don’t let anyone dictate what you should or shouldn’t like or listen to or play or watch. I am still the biggest nerd, I still play Pokemon, xbox, playstation; I still listen to Taylor Swift and love her very dearly. I’ve grown a lot in the past year and learnt new things and have new views, but they are also a part of who I am and nothing anyone says will change that. If it doesn’t make you happy, leave it behind.

3. Exercise, healthy eating and good sleep make you feel more energised and happier.
No seriously, for a year and a half I have proved this to myself time and time again when I relapse into bad eating and, in turn, crappy sleeping.
Be healthy. Seriously. It feels better.

I love the person I am today. And I love how happy I am. So all-in-all, I’m really not worried about turning thirty, because I feel like my life is exactly where it should be.

Approaching the Big Three-o

I can remember a time when turning thirty seemed like a lifetime ago. When money came from a seemingly unlimited supply (your parents), and life, though it may have seemed turbulent at the time, was merely challenging, yet completely exciting.

Things change quite drastically when it becomes blindingly apparent that if you’re not careful, the last few weeks of being twenty-something will flash before your eyes like a bad 80s movie montage. All of a sudden, all of those things that you’ve been meaning to do become more urgent, all of the projects you have half done or those few extra kilos you’ve been meaning to work off (which is harder now you’re older). It all starts to seem more desperate.

At the moment, I am not in the best shape, in fact my shape is more round than anything, which is frustrating knowing that only four months ago I was the fittest I’d been in at least six years. But winter, and being comfortably in a relationship, got the better of me and led me astray, back down a road of chips, chocolate and inactivity. I’m not blaming winter, or my boyfriend, they are not excuses, this falls solely on my head, it is up to me to keep myself motivated and healthy.

And so I begin crawling my way back into a healthy lifestyle. I have started by giving my metabolism a bit of a boost and am replacing two meals a day with shakes from the optislim range.

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I have decided that since I am only a little overweight and am not obese, I didn’t need to go crazy with the shakes and have no other food, so I am replacing breakfast and lunch with the shakes and having a small, balanced meal with protein and veggies for dinner. My partner is doing the same.

In order to keep myself on track, I am not, in any way, or at any time, referring to this shake business as a diet. It is a detox. It is to kick start my metabolism and shake the cravings for bad food, to lean my way back toward healthy eating and a positive outlook. I am also snacking in between shakes, however at the moment I am only snacking on optislim products, such as the muffin bars, which are quite tasty. For dinners we try and make them a little exciting, so that we can look forward to them each day, such as suing lamb instead of beef, or making chicken skewers instead of just boring chicken and vege.

Of course, hand in hand with healthy eating comes exercise. We have both signed up (myself as a returning customer) to our local gym, and make an effort to go at least four times a week. As well as the gym, I try and either walk or run on the days I am not going, or will get a few laps in the pool if it’s warm out. Of course it takes dedication, and we are motivating each other to try and push ourselves as far as we can to achieve our desired results.

At my lowest this year, I weighed in at 60.5kg, at the moment, as of 1st November, I weigh 68kg. I am hoping to get back down under 65 for my 30th in December. My ultimate goal is to reach a healthy 57-58kg for my height. Only time and effort will tell, and I will update the blog with my progress, so check back to see how I find the detox, kick-start and for tips and hints on healthy eating and quick, fun workouts!

Life, the universe, but not everything.

Some people think they are so much better than others – here’s some news for you:

There is not such thing as better. Just different.

People are not stupid for having different views than you do, or different views about you. And while some people are actually stupid, that still doesn’t make you better than them. People make mistakes, and the biggest people are the ones who can admit that. I have made a lot of mistakes this year, a lot of poor decisions and a lot of hard ones. Some that even broke my heart, but I can admit that while what I did was hard, or mean, or cold, or bitchy, or cowardly, or strong-willed; none of it was wrong.

I have to be thankful for this year. I’m not American and don’t celebrate thanksgiving, even though it was a few days ago, but I am thankful for all the lessons I’ve learnt this year. Lessons that have made me stronger, wiser and a better version of myself, but not better than anyone else.

And none of what I have done this year makes me any less of a person than any other either, or any worse of a person than someone who is seeing things through dark rose-tinted glasses. Coloured tints are cheap and tacky anyway, go for a polarised lens, it reduces more glaringly obvious bullshit.

Life is good. I am happy, regardless of the things I lack. I am lucky, and blessed and cherish what I do have and am no longer dwelling on any of the rest.

Floating

Sometimes in life there are these transcendental moments when you have no control and all you can do is shut your eyes and hope beyond hope that the universe knows what it’s doing with you.

So, when you make a big decision and it blows up in your face, you have a dozen options before you. You can go running back where you came from, you can run somewhere else, you can try again, you can start over. The easiest thing I guess is to run back to where you came from. Sometimes it feels impossible to let go of things, to move forward without them. And obviously by things I mean people.

I’m not going to use this blog as a type of self-psycho analysis. Just a small bit of venting here and there. I think that sometimes we really just need to find something to focus on and stick to it.

Now, to find my focus…

The more things change…

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been working on a story. It’s a pretty cool story, and I hoping to finish it in the next couple of months. It’s the story of a young girl, Tabitha, and her pet cat, Buster, but with a twist. It is aimed at a 7-12 reading group, and will be illustrated by my closest comrade.

My dilemma is not knowing how, where or who to publish with. I don’t know whether self publishing is the way to go or whether I should be whoring myself out to every person I can find who has something to do with the publishing industry and keep my fingers crossed.

I’ve written so many stories over the years, if I’d ever tried to get published in the past and somehow succeeded, then I would probably be rich now. Instead I’m unemployed, and instead of knowing what I want to do with my life besides become a published author, I’m fairly lost. So, I’m gonna find some hum drum day job (fingers crossed for my interviews today and tomorrow)           my writing.

The illustrations are going to be the hard part, because I haven’t completely figured out what style of art I’d like yet. I’ve been drawing inspiration from a lot of places, one of the main sources being Apofiss on deviantart.com.

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While a Disney-esque style would be fun, I like the idea and somewhat realness of watercolour. The trick is – I can’t draw or paint or anything, and that is where my comrade comes in. One of my best friends, he’s a superb artist, and I’m sure whatever style we chose to go with is going to be great.

If I feel it might be worth something, I may put the draft on my Writings (Short Stories) page – however I’m sceptical of it being stolen before I even get it near a publisher haha.