Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The last of 2013...

I type this fairly concise and unusually brief blog post as I am about to get ready to go to dinner and spend the last evening of this year with my beautiful sister. There is not much time to write a detailed account of the year just gone; nor do I want to. My memory holds the personal moments and my blog documents the times I wish to be shared with the great world wide web (or who ever chooses to read it).

It has most certainly been the year of change for me. This is not something I could have planned this time last year. I did not write a New Years resolution for the universe to create change, but somehow change has happened and I have played a significant part in making my current life the way it is. So I am a firm believer that 2014 will be one in which I create my own meaning and make my own choices, but the biggest learning will be in the things I cannot predict or plan. The learning will be in the hurricanes and waves that arrive unannounced, and from the people I spend each day of my life with. So with that in mind, I do not make resolutions, which in itself bring pressure and lack of freedom. But instead I remind myself of my values, I remind myself that it is only I who determines my choices and actions, and I embrace whatever is in store for me next.

Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Step out

It is only just dawning on me today how much I truly needed this time off over Christmas. I am not so tired right now. I can see my family for more than ten fleeting minutes per week. I can wake up when my body and mind are ready. And most importantly, I feel brighter and more alive. I've had a week off and I was beginning to forget how it felt to not feel so tired and preoccupied with to-do lists and the various roles of my life. The all important balance is being restored.

Today I have gone back to the things I do that bring a little happiness and peace. I tested out a successful new recipe and method of baking bread, went for a morning run, and spent the evening in Leeds drinking, talking, and watching a film about life and the world of opportunities that we live in (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - definitely worth a watch, even if just for the beautiful soundtrack). I also waved goodbye to my Mother and sister as they travel for a trip down to Kent, and I had the most wonderful surprise when I found one of my very best and oldest friends on the same train as I. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy Christmas

Christmas means something different to everybody.. Mine this year has been about keeping things simple; taking a break and spending time with people. I haven't over-indulged (with food!), nor have I colluded with the over-commercialised aspect of what the festive season always seems to present. Nevertheless, we have had a very homely family Christmas - the dinner, gifts, movies, etc... But most of all, if I disregard the part of me that loves to work and keep my diary as full as it can possibly be, it is on the other hand, quite lovely to have time available to spend with people rather than time that is spent working and/or travelling. Balance, as always.

Yesterday (Boxing day), my sister and I took a run whilst the sun was setting. That was quite possibly the best way to spend my post-Christmas day.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Picture of the week

It is Christmas Day... I've just arrived back home after our traditional Christmas Eve drinks, but before sleeping and awakening to the real Christmas Day, I wanted to share my view of the week. I won't be making this drive as much over the Christmas break and therefore I will miss the daily sunrise. Well, it might be more accurate to say that I shall greatly miss the view of the sunrise, but I shall absolutely embrace the opportunity to wake to my own body clock rather than the unpleasant sound of my alarm at unnatural times of the morning when the sky is lit by nothing but stars and moonlight and the sun is nowhere to be seen.

One morning this week the view was particularly striking; so much so that I stopped to park the car and step outside to truly witness (and snap a photograph).

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas break: Psych-talk & balance

It is currently the middle of the day on a Wednesday and I am sat in the house with a Moroccan oil hair mask on my head, surrounded by books on cognitive psychology re-capping my memory on theories of memory. Is there an element of irony there in remembering about memory? It seems I have encoded, stored, and successfully been able to locate and retrieve the information that's been retained in my long term memory. No, I do not study cognitive neuroscience and I am not training in any form of Cognitive approach, but I do, however, tutor A Level Psychology, which requires me to be a fountain of knowledge and resources.

My re-capping of knowledge is not without advantages; I do believe that the greater our knowledge base and understanding, the richer our practice and learning. Afterall, we are not one without the other; each psychological perspective doesn't exist alone. And aside from my phenomenological appreciation, I do rather enjoy some information which is grounded not only in theoretical understanding, but also in a more factual and typically scientific paradigm.

I should probably move away from my psych-talk (AKA psycho-babble) and onto a more familiar topic of my blog; the art of balancing work, rest, and play. I have been encouraged to use this Christmas break to embrace each third of that balancing act in equal measures. We are only three days in, but so far so good...

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Life and mulled wine

We've already had two weeks of December and I have been completely absent from this blog. Whenever I find myself abandoning the blog for a while, it's never because life has been dull, it's quite the opposite. Life has been completely consumed with either work, study, clients, friends, sleep, or drinking... mulled wine (or any wine for that matter). I've barely kept up with my advent calender.. (yes, a terrible sign of adulthood)

I am feeling festive and sufficiently socialised after having three truly enjoyable Christmas celebrations already, before prime Christmas time has even arrived. Festive feelings don't happen naturally, so this might say something! I took a lot of risks at the beginning of this academic year, with new jobs and a new course, a new car, a move of home... I haven't really taken the time to enjoy the company of all the new people that come alongside new courses and jobs. One thing to say about the run-up to Christmas is that it is certainly the most welcomed opportunity to take a break, to breathe, to have a drink, and to enjoy the company of some really quite wonderful people.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

By the way...

... It's December. Can we start feeling festive now?

Sunday mornings and inner mechanics

It's Sunday morning and this morning can only be described with lovely, warm metaphors... Ones that would do justice to how blissful it is. Electric blanket, a good book, coffee, porridge, no alarm clock... The world is good today. It shall continue to be good partly because it's Sunday and days off are a rarity these days; they are to be used wisely. And it shall continue to be a good day because the things that I have to do are things that are really quite enjoyable things to do - at least they are for me! I need to do some more Uni work - write up client notes, perhaps make a start on this assignment, and do some jobs for my research job. All of which unashamedly, I don't mind doing at all. I will then spent this evening with some top people, so all in all it will be a grand Sunday.

A couple of things this week has taught me - ALWAYS use your wing mirrors... I really do need my drivers side mirror fixed. And I fear that the people I've asked to do it won't actually come through, so it might be an appropriate time to embrace and rely on my inner mechanic. Although it'd be more the work of a body work mechanic/engineer(??) than a diagnostic or engine mechanic. Thankfully it's only aesthetic functions rather than engine troubles, but nonetheless wing mirrors serve a useful purpose and one of mine is currently only half-functional. The second teaching of the week is to wear sufficient fluorescent clothing or a light whilst out running in the dark. I have been opting to only run on the main roads due to personal safety, but I hadn't fully considered the equipment I might need.. I ran into somebody. I literally ran into a man because it was so dark that neither of us could see the other. It was quite a comedic moment but it did make me realise that perhaps a light reflecting item of clothing would be more useful than running in an all black running outfit and having head on collisions with unsuspecting members of the public.

My final lesson of the week is not something I was unaware of, it was more a reminder of the power of somebody asking 'how are you?', and the expected response isn't just 'oh, I'm fine'. It was only a conversation with somebody who reminded me that there's a lot of value in being asked how you are. It's not to be brushed over or underestimated. Afterall, isn't that what I'm training to do - to ask people how they are and to help them get in touch with their true being. Not through seeking a response of how they think they should be, or how society expects them to be in certain situations, but for how they really are, underneath however many layers of protection they choose to wear, underneath all receipts of projected norms and expectations, and with no carefully filtered responses. Just permission to be accepting of it all. I wonder how we'd be if we were asked regularly how we are, not in passing by acquaintances on the street, but in conversation where the content of the response is just as important as the intent of the question.

Here are a couple of winter views I've passed by this week on my travels... Both in different parts of the county.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Documenting life

More time has passed and I don't seem to have documented any of it in this blog. I think I wrote at some point over the Easter/Summer period that my lack of writing was due to the living of life, as opposed to the writing of life. At this point, I think the same can be applied again. Life is very much in full motion - it consists of work, travel, study, and sleep. My diary pages are not big enough any more, and I seem to have completely lost the ability to summon the energy to function without the generous help of at least two caffeine based beverages in the morning. In addition, it's been five days since I saw my house or car in daylight.

It's all good though. Daylight (and sleep) are overrated. I started the new research job this week, met a new client and a new student, and took on two private tutoring students. As much as I'm acutely aware that time is ever of the essence, I am equally (if not more) aware that I am the one who gets to fill my time. It seems that time is filling out rather nicely. Last year I thought that writing a dissertation and final assignments whilst modelling and completing placement hours was the most busy both my email inboxes and diary had ever been. I had no idea what was to come. I still have no idea really.... I'm always curious. Who knows where this will all lead to. I doubt I will ever reach that all glorious moment of 'the end', but I do suspect that I will keep on keeping on - hopefully taking some energy with me too.

The sun rise, as posted earlier, is a very regular morning view for me now..

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I am indeed a great sun worshipper. Not the kind of worshipper who cannot be seen in the public domain without a tan; I doubt that those value systems would bode well with my fair freckled skin and ginger hair. I am the kind of worshipper who almost falls in love with the light, the power, and the freedom of the sun. It's the greatest natural anti depressant I know of, and it holds such great power in creating the most beautiful views of the land and sky.

Needless to say, words failed me when I realised that my new commute means that my drive into York in the morning means that I will be driving right into the sun as it rises, and again back into the sun when it sets on my way back home. Both of which provides me with a front seat view of the greatest natural 'show' I think I've ever witnessed; the sunrise and sunset. Perhaps I'm just focusing on the positives of this rather lengthy drive, but quite honestly, these views and this feeling is something that will enable me to get out of bed each morning.

Graduation day

Friday afternoon last week saw all the graduating students of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences attend the graduation ceremony at York Minster. I have to admit to not allowing myself much time to prepare - both my outfit, and my mental preparations. Buying a new car and moving house, amongst a multitude of other things meant that my mind was noticeably preoccupied and my body was undeniably exhausted. So when the moment hit me on the day, (as most of the time they do!) it really hit. It was such a wonderful day of family, friends, and celebration (in the form of much enjoyed wine, mainly!). Despite having my gown fall off my shoulders every time I moved, and the rather spine chilling distinct lack of central heating in the Minster, it was a beautiful ceremony. 

As my family and I were walking over to the University in the morning to collect gowns and eat cake, my Mother said to me that it would be nice to meet the people who've been part of my life for three years, and some who will continue to be part of it for the next three years. She asked if she'd meet my friends and see the University and meet my lecturers and tutors. The answer to all her questions was 'yes'. And I realised that this is a part of my life that continues to be no longer just a small part, but a huge significant focus of my life, and I was introducing my family to not only my life but to some of the most inspirational people who've played an invaluable and integral role in my learning and my career development. I am a great believer (mainly based on experience) in that our greatest learning tools are the people around us. The people who stand next to us in the queue for morning coffee, the people who sit next to us in lectures and take notes and contribute to discussion. And of course the people who stand in front of us and share their expertise and knowledge. It was a real privilege to celebrate not only my own achievement, but the achievements of the group, and to celebrate that with each individual who has played a role in my learning and process.

I am now hopeful for my MA graduation... (and perhaps even a PhD)...

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Staring at the sun: Stereophonics road tripping

This past week has given me so many positive things and I am now left on a Saturday evening, completely and utterly exhausted. It's not the kind of exhaustion that comes with being depressed though, this is the good kind. The kind that you feel when life has been so good to you that tiredness is combined with happiness. It's a much nicer feeling knowing that it's not permanent; I'll feel much more human as soon as I've had something resembling more than a few hours sleep. It's the kind of feeling you get after spending time with the people you care about, attending your graduation ceremony, being offered exciting jobs, moving house, etc...

For today though, I shall just share some pictures of our mid-week road trip to Manchester to see the Stereophonics - my birthday gift finally came around! It was something quite incredible.. Kelly Jones, the lead singer, has a voice that I could listen to all day and all night long. It was a really breath taking gig, made even better when Sir Tom Jones made an appearance to perform with the band. It was the best possible way to spend a pre-graduation night - a lovely dinner, great wine, and the Stereophonics, not to mention some beautiful views of the sun over the hills as we drove over.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The whole

'The whole is always more than, and different to the sum of its parts.'

Very similar to a well known Aristotle quote, but these words come from a Makewen book which illustrates Gestalt theory and psychotherapy (Gestalt meaning 'the whole')

I have been meaning to put these words in this blog for about a week now but haven't quite found the words (or time!) to do justice to their meaning. It's a philosophical way of thinking about human beings in a similar process to that of science, systems, and art. As human beings, there is a quality and essence associated with who we are. We cannot be reduced to our components; something more emerges when viewed as a whole. When human beings are viewed from this perspective, I like that it makes it near impossible to pathologise. We are always more than a heart, a body, and a soul. We are more than a list of defined characteristics and personality traits. We are more than our past and present experiences. We are more than our struggles and our triumphs. We are more than the clothes we wear and the shoes we put on our feet. We are more than the house we occupy, the surname we have, and the jobs we acquire. We are more than than all of our parts put together. We are more than we realise.

I like to read these words, not only because I'm a student and trainee therapist with a somewhat extensive reading list! But also because they have meaning in a bigger picture.

Lists and life

I do believe that life is a balancing act which requires great skill and expertise. I do not believe that we ever really truly learn the art of getting the balance 'just right' because such a thing probably doesn't exist. Firstly, the 'right' balance will look different to each and every one of us. Secondly, the familiar irony is that we often don't realise in the moment the great lessons that hindsight can teach. This isn't a defeatist way of thinking, it's quite the opposite; it's more of an acceptance that actually things don't always go to plan and when that happens, it's fine. The world still keeps turning round, the clock still ticks, and life goes on. Life is unpredictable and always in motion, and for the most part, life will catch you off-guard just to keep you on your toes. It is anything but simple.

Today I caught myself sat in a lecture caught up in such a fluid motion of thought and something was said which made me stop. It reminded me of a memorable conversation I had last week which went somewhere along the lines of taking life too seriously. Sometimes it's all part and parcel of the 'balance'. It's all to easy to get caught up in lists and goals and expectations. When really, when long term (and short term) benefits are considered, perhaps some aspects of life are best taken not too seriously at all.

This being said, my to do list is still very much impending and the majority of tomorrow afternoon shall be spent making some very satisfying ticks. I shall, however, approach this list with a little less seriousness and a little more heart and soul.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Remember remember..

Amongst the rollercoaster of activities and happenings of this week, the 5th of November has also graced us with its fireworks  and bonfire delights. This is the night of the year where the majority of us typically dress ourselves head to toe in coats, hats, scarfs, and Wellington boots. Armed with sparklers and cameras we venture out in the dark to a bonfire where we stand, eat toffee apples, and watch an almighty firework display. All in the name of Guy Fawkes.

Well, it wasn't quite that exciting but it was very lovely nonetheless. But I did break what's become my usual tradition of attending the Harrogate stray bonfire and chose to experience Roundhay Park in Leeds instead. Most definitely impressed. I also was pleased to take a couple of pictures of the impressive fire and then put my phone back in my coat pocket and thoroughly enjoyed the firework display.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Autumnal views

It's most definitely Autumn; darker mornings, darker evenings, colder temperatures, and so on... But it's not quite so bad. I know I'm a great sun junkie. I always advocate the power of the sun in that it creates such beautiful sights and it is so unique to our location and the time of the year. It's what I love about more Eastern locations - the sun is quite spectacular in the sky, especially when it rises and falls. And now we're well in the middle of Autumnal weather and activities, the sun is giving a different light to the world. I stopped for a while when I was on my run this morning to take a few pictures.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Birthdays, Birdy, and sisters.

It's Saturday evening and I opted out of a stormy night outdoors at a bonfire and fireworks night in my hometown of Harrogate in favour of a night in watching standard Saturday night television alone in my house in York instead.

Not so long ago I posted a quote on my Instagram which said 'stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.' - and this week I am most definitely glad to be living. I had a good morning at my placement and I worked a lot as usual.. But I made the time for so much more than just work and placement. I spent some time with my two beautiful sisters, which is a very rare occurrence. We went on a mid-week road trip to Manchester together and watched Birdy perform with her band. I really adore Birdy's music and the entire gig was just breathtaking from start to finish. The venue was only small but that's what made it so special. It was just us, the music, the lighting, and the atmosphere. There's something about the combination of lighting and live music that really brings life alive. Something changes and it's no longer just music that you've come to see; it's much much more. The evening also bought me together with the lovely soul, Sam who I finally met in person. Nights like that remind me how very small the country really is, and how very precious our connections with people really are.

This week was also Halloween (therefore let the pumpkin carving commence...) the grand six month anniversary of my relationship with my boyfriend, and he also reached the grand (old) age of twenty five. Therefore there were gifts, cards, good food, and good wine involved.

Life isn't static - it's forever in motion. Sometimes I struggle to keep up with the pace and other times I wish more than anything that the pace would catch up with me. I think the change of pace is always a good thing - it's good not to stay for too long comfortably coasting on the middle lane. Life is always moving and changing.. November shall be no different to the rest - I move house, I get a new car, I graduate... It's certainly off to a grand start.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Words and actions

Today has been what I consider to be a productive day; I sorted out 'very important things', went for a 5k run, went to work, and went to a great yoga class this evening. Nothing of noteworthy excellence has taken place, but at the same time nothing disastrous has happened, therefore today has been good. Even better than good - it has been productive.

This evening, ITV showed an hour long documentary entitled 'OCD Ward', which of course I watched with great expectations. It didn't disappoint - the programme quite truthfully documented time in a specialised OCD ward in a London based hospital, demonstrating experiences of the patients, their families, and the ward staff. This subject is not only a personal interest, but also a professional one. I found it interesting to view how the therapists and psychiatrists worked therapeutically with their patients in order to help them best tackle their illness. What I found even more interesting was the way they interacted with their patients - it was a very behavioural approach, which of course it must be when working with a person with OCD, which has such prominent behavioural symptoms. But it was the way one psychiatrist in particular seemed ever so powerful and domineering with her patient. She informed him that because of his OCD, he was a worse person than he ever had been before; it made him the most imperfect he would ever be. In context, she was informing her patient that this isn't the desired way to live his life. But in a wider context, this comment followed his acknowledgement that he behaves as he does because he has a deep and regimented need to be perfect. If he is contaminated, he is an imperfect being, therefore he must avoid contamination in order to avoid being imperfect.

There are so many beneficial ways a therapist could work with this, none right or wrong. It all very much depends on the approach and modality of working. But to tell a client that their illness makes them even more imperfect than they fear they already are..? For me, perfection doesn't exist - as humans it is within our very nature that we are all imperfect beings. I wonder if by measuring a person's 'perfection' based upon their state of mental illness isn't just another way of communicating the message that it isn't OK to struggle?  I understand the necessity of the radical behavioural techniques in this kind of specific therapy, but words can be just as (if not more) powerful as actions.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Are you fifteen too?

I forgot to add to my last post.. The highlight of my day is as follows

A girl asked me these exact words... 'Are you fifteen too?'
To which I politely informed the mistaken girl that I do infact turn twenty five this year.

Wow - how to look ten years younger. Gok Wan, I've finally cracked it!

The process of living and a drive home

Today I rediscovered my absolute appreciation for Bon Iver. I was driving home this evening and it was that time of the evening where it's almost definitely pitch black but it's not quite there yet. The sky isn't dark enough to need to use the full beam on the car but it's dark enough to need the lights on and it;s dark enough to see the moon. The sky is a deep blue colour. The car was warm, my head full of thoughts, but a comfortable feeling rather than it being too much, and I was listening to a selection of Bon Iver songs and the journey just kind of happened. I got from A to B and it was a nice journey helped along by the most beautiful music.

I spent the majority of the day with my sister, accompanying her to an open day at my University and enjoying lunch together. This open day felt like just another day at Uni for me - I study there and I work there afterall. I've gotten to know the place and some of the people fairly well, but even so, things have changed. After a three year degree, this is currently my fourth year at this University. After my fifth year I'll be a qualified therapist, after my sixth year (if I choose to do it) I'll have my MA, and then my fate is left within the realms of the universe... or in my very own hands. Perhaps a combination of the two. I suspect I might do a PhD at some point in my academic and professional life when the time is right. I found myself (at the open day) surrounded by young people with such great hopes and plans... such rigid ideas of the future, and alongside that, so much external and internal pressure to make those goals happen. Because once we reach that all important goal we'll be happy, right? We can stop there? Not really the reality! Just months ago I achieved a First class honours degree, but it's already faded into insignificance because I'm focussed on the next bigger and better thing.

It was particularly evident today, being around 17/18 year olds applying for University and taking their A Level exams that outside of all that immediate pressure is an additional voice putting pressure on these poor people to make their life count, to be great and wonderful, to be all that they are told they must be. Of course, we all aspire to be great. I think it's a natural part of human nature - to strive towards positive growth. But it feels like it does no harm every once in a while to step back and re-assess things - keep the heart and mind open to change and progress. Life is the process of living, not in reaching the end.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

the rain

I am drawn to begin this post by discussing the weather - which of course is an awfully stiff-upper-lip-British way of beginning a conversation. Not that this is a conversation. Although others might argue that my achievement of over three years of continuous blogging might also resemble three years of successful conversations with the self; musings to oneself (and often quite possibly about oneself).
Regardless, conversation, musings, or simply blogging - whichever terminology you use, I am still drawn to writing about the start of the day, which coincidentally involves the weather. (I am thoroughly British afterall).

After braving the stormy rain this morning for approximately thirty seconds, armed with my polka-dot umbrella and denim jacket, the trousers were already stuck to my legs and my socks soaking wet, so I strategically retraced my footsteps back to my front door and into my house. No, I didn't decide to take the day off University - I have paid close to £100 tuition fees just for today, so no, not a chance of me skipping class just because of the weather gods and their clear attempts to entice me back home and back into bed. So I changed into my gym trousers and wellington boots and re-began my walk across town to University armed with a change of clothes and shoes in my bag. I arrived at Uni soaked in rain still, but at least I was forward thinking and could change my clothes into something a little more appropriate and dry. You know you're in for a great day when you have to battle the elements before the day has even begun.

I love watching the way people react to mornings like this - it's not just a bit of rain, it's a torrential downpour. And more than that, it's a change of plan and routine - it's a variant of our day beyond our control. Being a people-watcher and a person interested in people, I watch how they arrive, their presentation, their acknowledgement, their sense of calmness or rush, and the way that they greet others. Perhaps this is just a lesson never to be fooled or misled by my silence; I do like to take note and to notice things. It's probably the psychologist in me. But this morning I was so very aware of the difference in my own arrival and in the arrival of others and it was bizarre, that a simple thing such as rain would cause such a change in us all.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Saturday happenings

Saturday.. The day of comfy clothes, hot beverages, clean homes, and tidy minds. I slept in today perhaps more than I recall ever sleeping in before in my entire twenty four years of life. No exaggeration - I believe this really might be the case. I will refrain from stating the exact time I awoke from my slumber because it's not an awakening time to be proud of! But I shall certainly take it as a message to exercise my right/need to sleep during the week with a little more awareness and intent.

The majority of today was spent organising and clearing out some of my belongings, and cleaning/tidying/washing... Tidy house, tidy mind. I also decided to create a new vegan delight: Pear and plum loaf. I officially succeeded in playing house-wife, minus the adorning husband and beautiful 2.5 children. I plan on modifying this creation next time to a richer flavoured pear, plum, & pecan loaf, but this isn't too bad to start with. Lucky are those who visit my house this week... I shall be filling them with cake and probably sending them back home with more!

Friday, 18 October 2013

another first day

Today ended with a glass of wine and a very good friend. It's not even Friday night yet but I believe it was more than well deserved.

I had a to-do list which is apparently never ending at the moment; it sort of runs from day to day never quite ending and never quite beginning again. But some of it was completed today and that's enough for now! I also had my first official day as a trainee therapist today as I met with my first client and made the first move on this next journey as a practitioner. 'Firsts' are always somewhat anxiety provoking and really serve to test our ability to act in both calmness and patience, and also to grow a pair of trusty balls!

Today was most definitely a good day. Amongst all my calmness and composure, I actually have quite an unacknowledged presence should I wish to use it. Yesterday a friend and I presented at a training session full of mentors in training, and today I found myself in yet another new role, trying to fill yet another pair of shoes three sizes too big, but actually being OK in the process.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

blurred weekends, modelling jobs, and white wine...

This weekend seems to have gone in a blur of wine, nice food, family, boyfriend, and decision making (aided by a couple of good gym sessions). I'm not sure that decisions are never easy to make but it does mean that things shall change, and change is most definitely good. Change means that the pace of life can keep moving forward. Change means that we are adapting to life rather than struggling to make life adapt to us.

I worked a modelling job on Friday for a great team of creatives with some really nice clothes that I actually enjoyed wearing. I did feel like I'd regressed into taking the role of a human puppet for the day, but it was really quite a welcomed break; to be told what to do, where to stand, where to place my hands/fix my gaze. It was a little frustrating being cold, quite hungry, and lacking caffeine.. but I shan't be fussy. As soon as we finished the shoot, before I'd even got home I stopped off in Leeds, and successfully found a bar where I consumed two glasses of white wine faster than my boyfriend had even finished his beers. If that doesn't say a little something about the contents of the week, I don't know what does!

So following a week of study, placement, work, modelling work, interviews, and decision making, it's safe to say that this coming week shall probably be no different.. it shall be a good one I hope.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The portal of communication

Today was the teaching day of my PGDip. Full 9.30-5 day of lectures, workshops, supervision etc... A full day of a lot of learning of both a theoretical and insightful nature.

Today was also the day that I somehow lost my phone. I lost my phone! OK, I'm not one to be religiously devoted to my daily game of candy crush saga or texting my BFF hourly updates. But this is my trusty iPhone; the tiny little technologically advanced portal which is not only my source of communication with friends and family, but my on-the-go means of communication for both my jobs and my placement (all of which my schedule can and does change daily). Also whilst applying for a third job the phone seems a vitally important part of that communication. 

To cut a long story short, I found the phone in the end thank goodness. It's the metaphorical meaning that is most entertaining... Life is getting more complicated and messy the more I live it. You'd hope I could keep the one thing that keeps it all together within my sight and possession, but not today! Today I somehow lost it all; only for a brief while. Thank goodness for good people.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Long days and early nights

The content of today was a little insane. The process even more so. You know those days where the outcome just isn't as you anticipated it to be. When i woke up fifteen hours ago, this is not how i imagined myself to feel. And just to make the story more incredibly fascinating, I arrived home too late and missed yoga, my room was a mess, I burnt my dinner, and was in bed by 10pm ready to sleep... My room is still a mess.

And yet I do still believe that this week shall be a good week. Despite the unscheduled incidences and messy room, even today has indeed been a good day.

Monday morning

A new week, another Monday, and this week shall be a good week. Where's the hope if we start Monday morning already defeated?

I start this week extremely thankful for the good friends and top family in my life - they are a positive influence. They are positive people. And as I always write - energy is a transmittable force.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The inner child

This afternoon I was very kindly treated to afternoon tea. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?
Whilst enjoying the rather generous portions of sandwiches, scones, and cakes/pastries, conversation turned to one concerning the 'inner child'.

It's a phrase often used to describe when a person might display a moment of youth, freedom, silliness, immaturity, or partake in inappropriate humour... and many other examples of course. I was adamant that my inner child is extinct; that it no longer exists because I struggled to recall a moment of true youthful silliness. Too often I fear that I may be too sincere or serious for my own good. Perhaps it comes from my training - I am prone to analysing and observing and being somewhat overly self-critical and reflective; so much so that it tends to detract from my ability to see the lighter side of life. I often discuss balance, but I seem to forget that balance comes in all forms, and this too is a balance.

Of course, I stated quite truthfully that I didn't think I had an inner child - that my inner child might be hidden away somewhere so distant that even I didn't know where she was hidden. My statement was not only based on the self-perception that I typically search for deeper meaning and analysis, which makes my outlook really rather contemplative and insightful. But it was due to my usual disinterest in comedy shows/comedians whom my friends find adoringly hilarious, and my usual aggravation and impatience when others don't meet me in my prioritised 'matters of importance' or they seem to have an entirely different agenda in terms of responsibilities and decisions. OK, now I'm well aware I might be interpreted as a bore! However, I was surprised and grateful when I was reminded of an evening last week when we were walking home from a bar and I was happily reeling off food pun jokes (a long standing comedic conversation Anna and I sometimes partake in!). It reminded me that my inner youth isn't lost, it just sometimes takes a little longer to access it and embrace it.

There's no one or no where that defines what we must do - must we embrace our inner youth or battle with it? I am certain that balance is key, as it is with most things in life. The balance of seriousness vs. freedom/spontaneity. It seems odd, because from freedom comes autonomy and self-determination. Yet in this instance, the origin of freedom doesn't stem from the rational voice of the adult, but from the youthfulness of the spontaneous inner child. So the inner child, when balanced with our adult self, really isn't a terrible thing at all.

Friday, 4 October 2013

When one stumbles across art

Always a pleasure stumbling across work I forgot I did... Here are a couple of paintings courtesy of an incredibly skilled artist from a shoot I did some time last year. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The bigger picture

In the early stages of new groups of people there's always an element of guarded souls and mystery. Nobody knows each other, at least not to the extent they will grow to know each other. I'm referring to my new course particularly. These are people I'm training to become a therapist with. These are people I will grow with and people I'll learn a lot about. But right now at the beginning there are people with untold stories and lives we know nothing about, including myself. I am part of the mix... I have mentioned in a couple of conversations this week that it's enlightening and refreshing to be a blank canvas, if only for a few weeks. Not to be self-involved or to think only of myself, but it's a change to be part of a group where most people only know my name and what they see infront of them. Not that I'm ashamed of any aspect of my life, and not that I'm a particularly private person, but when we open ourselves up to relative strangers, we are open to judgement.

Now whether we are actually being judged or whether we just fear the judgement is another question which is often open for debate in my own thoughts... But the mystery and the stories yet to be told - that's what I like.

Yesterday I played model role again and walked another Max Mara show - which was of course a lovely pleasure. Working for a great client with good friends and drinking champagne shall always be a pleasure. But what keeps me reserved for now, is that I can walk into my second job tomorrow and work with my student and nobody knows the other parts of my life or the other roles I play. And I can walk into the room of my new course mates on Tuesday and nobody (apart from the three good friends I already have) will have the slightest clue about the role I play as a model. Again, it's not that I even wish to hide it. If they asked, I'd share. But it's a story that's part of a bigger story which is untold for now.

Having written this, I do think that life has a more settled feeling when our different roles are shared. When people know and see the whole picture. But for now, I shall bask in the glory of living just as I am, doing what I do. This is the whole picture. The whole picture shall find its way.

A conversation

Overhearing conversations and people watching - the most endearing and intriguing way of breaking the boundaries of personal privacy in a public space. I won't go into the ins and outs of how much privacy we actually have in public spaces, or my thoughts about people watching in the first place. But I shall share a conversation I passed by yesterday whilst in the supermarket. It's not the act of people watching, but it's usually about the impact it has on us as human beings.

As I roamed the aisles of my local Sainsbury's having absolutely forgotten what I went there for in the first place, I witnessed a conversation between a young employee and his boss. He politely asked her for the time, to which his boss sharply replied 'it's not twelve yet. You finish at twelve. You can leave when 'X' comes onto the shop floor. Go on the tills until then.' It was 11.54am. The boy had six minutes left of his shift, and I suspect he was asking for the time because he was tired and hungry and simply didn't know if he had two hours left or two minutes. A rather reasonable question, which didn't require such a response, and alternatively his boss could have just chosen to give the answer to his question.

I just felt for him. I held back from what I really wanted to do, which was to give him the time and smile. Instead I just stood there, picked up my fabric conditioner, and made my way to the tillpoint to pay. But on my walk back home I firstly felt thankful that I work in a career where I don't have to accept such treatment, and secondly I thought that it really shouldn't even have to be that way. I shouldn't have to feel grateful because I'm not disrespected. Respect is a basic attitude of humanity. It's the way we think and feel and communicate with others. My life and my outlook is based on a fundamental principle of respect for others (and myself)... I guess it comes down to our own expectations and the way in which they differ to the expectations and values of others. It seems so simple, yet time after time I'm proven that it's not so simple at all. The way we treat others isn't necessarily the way they treat us. In its most simple form, that's because we are all different - which usually means that we live in a curiously wonderful and absorbing world. But in instances like this, it means that alongside the good and the beautiful, we suffer too.

Friday, 27 September 2013

intuitive improvisation

Another week has flown by. It's quite literally flown past me and I've not really caught up with it yet. But I'm definitely sure that it's currently Friday evening. There has been too much happen this week to possibly compile into one legible blog post, so instead, I shall just be thankful that it's Friday. Not that I've reached the point where the weekend is actually time off yet; I am working a show tomorrow. Thankfully I have Sunday to look forward to.

I started my new job as a disability support worker this week, it was the second week of my course, I found a supervisor to supervise my client practice, and I played host for a visit from my darling friend Anna. And the week is not over yet! The weeks still rarely stray from their only predictable pattern of merging together into one long stream of absurd, inconsistent, and yet wonderful events. A lot of my energy is dedicated to trying to make some changes, but the formation of my life seems very resistant to change these days. Perhaps I need to take note... Maybe this isn't the right time. But alternatively, maybe I need to fight a little more... As usual, I don't know and I'm not sure there is a right or wrong;  I only have my gut instinct. When you know, you just know... That may be the universe's way of communicating. It's the most trustworthy way to seek 'answers' - which seems suggestably ironic as it stems from precisely the place we are afraid of exploring - it stems from within ourselves. 

I shall really welcome with open arms yhe day this life of mine feels a little more controllable; when the madness changes from this sense of powerlessness to one of stability and safety. I adore living with an element of the unexpected, so I won't push the boundaries further than I can manage. I enjoy the variety and the amazing thing that no two days are ever the same - at least not the minor details anyway. But I am yet to discover whether stability and safety can go hand in hand with the unexpected agendas and a life intuitive improvisation. It's certainly taught me about the power of the mind, the strength of resilience, and the accepting nature of trust. But as I go through the process of applying for a third job, I begin to wonder if there is a limit as to how far a positive attitude and a trusting heart can carry us? Perhaps I have to make some changes to the balance I seem to have carefully and meticulously crafted out for myself. I do know the right thing to do... When you know, you know.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The biggest influences...

It has to be said that sometimes my severe lack of sleep can be due to a not-so-guilty Grey's Anatomy watching session. It's well known for me to watch two or three episodes on a Sunday morning, and that's exactly how I spent this morning. I'm not even a television watching type person (I'm really not!). But due to my ongoing appreciation of Grey's Anatomy related happenings, I'm going to share something that the chief said in an episode I recently watched...

'The biggest influences in your life are sitting around you right now.'

Just something to keep in mind - not to overlook the people we spend our days with. The people we choose to surround ourselves with are the biggest influences we have available. They are who we learn from.. They are the most real influences we know, and the greatest source of knowledge both about others and about ourselves. These are the lessons we don't find in library books or internet pages. These are the influences and lessons that only people can help with. People help people.

Celebrating age

This is the year a lot of my friends (including myself) are turning twenty five. This is also the year a lot of my friends wish that they were twenty one again and not approaching the 'wrong' side of twenty. I personally can't wait for my birthday. I have another seven months to wait, so it's not an imminent occasion by any means, but for the past few years, (in fact, ever since I was eighteen) I've resented growing another year older. It hasn't clouded the enjoyment of my actual celebrations, but I have been acutely aware that growing old isn't desirable. Especially as a model. I'm not a fresh faced sixteen year old, and I don't have the body of a sixteen year old either. I have almost been conditioned to think that my career as a model is limited because I'm older. I spent a summer in Asia when I was twenty two, under strict instructions from the agency to tell all clients that I was nineteen. And still, if I'm on a job where the people I'm working with are strangers, I still sometimes knock a few years off my age.

I even have friends younger than me who class themselves as retired models. It's an odd and fickle industry to say the very least, and I won't even go into the kind of message this drills into ones own mind, never mind the minds of others. Even as I write about it I have an odd feeling that I shouldn't be writing this way. But it does for sure open the eyes to a thing or two about age and beauty. Or at least what some consider to be ideal.

Growing older isn't about age. For me it's about experiences and maturity and responsibility. It's the bigger picture. It's a picture filled with decisions and consequences. With paths and mistakes and celebrations. With multiple choices and more unknown areas than we even thought could possibly exist. The picture is one of complicated and messy lines and pathways. It's not easy to understand, and it's full to the brim of people bumping into each other in the dark, stumbling around simply trying to find their way. It isn't simple. So why did I sit with my friends last night and declare my joy about growing older? They all turned around to look at me like I'd lost my mind. Maybe I have! I think sometimes being an optimist is the only attitude that can carry us through. I watched a documentary this week which followed some older women between the ages of 75 and 90 (ish) and it was a life affirming programme to watch. It was about growth and life and being absolutely passionately in love with life.

So although we are young, we are also old. It's an odd concept to carry - being simultaneously young and old. Two opposing ways of being coexisting in one body. Often it's best not to over think these things though - life is happening before our very eyes. Whilst I've been typing this, life has been happening. Life happens.. We have birthdays and we celebrate the growing older that none of us really feel like celebrating at all. But we do it anyway, and I for one, enjoy this. I celebrate not because drowning in wine makes it easier, but because it should be celebrated well. Last night was no exception :)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The cherry on top

This week was indeed the beginning of many more to come. I'm more than glad it's Saturday. I plan on watching Grey's Anatomy, going to the gym and doing a little yoga, baking, doing some jobs in town, and then celebrating two of my friends birthdays this evening. I am glad there is time to rest today because it feels like I'm coming down with a cold and there's no time to get colds.

Alongside sorting out some things in the house, trying to find a third job, and over-thinking life's most uncontrollable things, I somehow found my mind searching for acceptance of the fact that things will work out, I just don't know exactly how just yet.. I went back into model mode and did a show too. I always find that each day as a model can be vastly different to the one before and the one afterwards but there comes a point where you realise that that's never going to change; either embrace it or be forever fighting it. You don't know what you're waking up to, and you certainly can't predict who you will be with, what's going to be required, and when your boyfriend asks what time you'll be finished, you don't even have an answer because you simply don't know. You turn up, you don't know what you look like, you don't know who your dresser is, you don't know what time the show(s) are, and you don't even remember what your looks are because you tried on so many. A lot of unknowns! And yet it does work out eventually. Things fall into place and somehow it just works. It has to work... and even if it doesn't, the world won't just stop turning round.

Like I wrote above - it's similar to over-thinking and worrying. Sometimes it does no good.. if you find the acceptance (or the trust) that it will be OK, chances are, it will be OK. And if the process can be enjoyed, then that's just the cherry on top.

Happy Saturday..

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Day One - introspective curiosity

Today was the first day of my counselling & psychotherapy training course. I am now officially a counsellor in training, and I am really quite looking forward to the coming year.

We talked about introspective curiosity, which I rather like. I've often gone with the phrase 'be passionately curious' - that's one of the many things that helped me through my dissertation, and has guided me through any decision making. To always stick with the things that feel right and the things that make me curious because that's who I am, not because someone else thinks that I must. But to do this introspectively is a much more personal approach. I like it.

A conclusion?

I had a choice. A very simple, meaningless choice - but it was a choice nonetheless. We always have choices. Anyway, this evening I decided to go for a run instead of go to my usual Monday evening Yoga class. I do enjoy this class, but yoga is a practice that requires you to let go of your thoughts and clear the mind. To let the mind be simple and free and focus on nothing more than just being in the present moment. It's quite a challenge at times. Particularly times such as this evening when it was perhaps needed most, but I guess sometimes time is best spent thinking and considering recent events and not trying to eradicate the thoughts that are refusing to leave the mind because they are still yet to be concluded.

So tonight I gave myself permission to think things through rather than neglect and disregard the things that I really wish I could. I went for a run just before the sun set and mulled things over. I shall always question my decisions. I shall always look into myself, and I shall always at least try to trust in the process. Trust that the real story IS the process, and for the most part, I spend my evenings running and thinking about THIS, rather than running with a mind too full of worry.

I haven't concluded anything yet. Although I don't think any of us ever really conclude. Life just sort of goes on... But I do know this one thing. Someone (an anonymous writer) said that we must be soft and not let the world make us hard... And I know that I do not want the world to make me any harder. I have thick skin because you don't survive life without it. But I don't want to become bitter and resentful, and I want to always value people. This is who I am, and I don't want that part of myself to be compromised.

So these are my reflections. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I start my life as a post graduate student as it's my first day on my Masters. I am ready for a day of coffee and new people and stepping up.

Monday, 16 September 2013

A baking adventure

I'm really enjoying exercising my creativity in the kitchen and developing some healthy and great tasting treats. Baking is a time and money consuming activity which I've never really fully embraced. Since discovering the art of cupcake decorating in my spare time for the past year or so, but reaching a hurdle in that I never really enjoyed my homemade treats for myself, I figured it was time to start creating some recipes that are both healthy and enjoyable. That way I don't feel so guilty if I bake for myself, and the health conscious or dietary-restricted amongst the recipients of my baking related gifts can enjoy them too.

I am now working on my own personal recipe book which I hope one day shall be full of many dairy free and sugar free wholesome goodies.

Here are a few pictures of my baking adventure so far.