The night before

Hey all,

I hope everyone is having a good day. I was just updating my pages (project 365 and 30 things before thirty) and I felt inspired to write a little ‘something-something’ about it.

I updated the 30 before 30 page and I felt incredibly proud of myself. I found myself realising that I may not have done everything on the list as per written and there are a few items left to do, however, I remain incredibly proud of myself. I have managed to complete something without feeling guilty or undeserving of it. It’s impossible not to feel that I have superseded my expectancies of the list and I know my life and most important, my outlook on it, is completely different. I spent years wishing for everything to be perfect, only to be left feeling disappointed in myself. Reflecting upon that now, it was never going to work and I was never going to win. But I think I did that for a reason. I think I did that to prove to myself that I was not worth anything. Every time I failed, it was a confirmation that I did not deserve it and “it was not right”. Looking back, how did I hate myself so much?

Since started and now coming to the end of this decade, I have learned some serious life lessons and started to develop three of the most beautiful life skills that I think we all need.

  1. Patience – I have learnt the importance of being patient. Being patient with myself, with others, with strangers. Things take time. Hearts heals, people do forget, life continues to occur whether you are ready or not. Everything just takes some time to readjust and I have to just refocus. I have learned to breathe, to wait for the good moments, to ride out the storm and to enjoy the quiet moments. I learned that life is all about dancing in the rain, thunder, hurricanes and whatever the world and others throw at you.
  2. Self-love – I have learned that love starts and ends with you. In order to love anyone, you have to love yourself. You have to look inside and find things that you do like about yourself and hold onto those. Expand on those without fear that you will fail or fall. Because even if you do, you can then love your ability to start again, your ability to never give up and your ability to let go of something that is not working. I can openly say that I love my smile, my ability to talk to anyone, my commitment to work, etc. I can say this without worrying about sounding arrogant or cocky because it is not about that. It’s about knowing my strength and my likes and my dislikes and continuously improving myself for me. Nothing is always negative but if you focus on that, then yes life does feel that way. You have to reteach yourself to look for the positive.
  3. Forgiveness – Finally, I have learned to forgive myself. I am starting to look back over my life and forgiving myself for the mistakes I made, for the things I said and for the hurt I caused myself. Additionally, I am forgiving others for their mistakes, for the mutual pain caused. I am learning to sit comfortably in my dirty laundry and change the narrative of my life and the experiences that have continued to cause me pain for years. I am changing my perspective and forgiving myself for doing the best I could. I am no longer going to punish myself for my mistakes. I will apologize, take responsibility and learn from those mistakes. If others want to forget me then I understand, you have to do what you need to do. However, from my experience, holding on to pain and anger only makes things worse. You have to forgive and reflect on why that experience makes you anger still? what purpose does the anger have? and why is it so important to hold onto it? I found myself asking this to myself over and over again and I realized it is just not important. It is not important to hold a grudge.

The most important lesson I have learned is that it is not important to waste my only life holding onto negative experiences. My father died and I was holding onto a dead man, why? I will remember him always without putting myself through pain over and over again. I forgive him for leaving and I forgive myself for hating him at times. In exchange, I found inner strength and a desire to be a good wife to Liv. Someone who listens and supports her. Someone who will be there through it all, whatever it is, rather than do it alone like you did dad. I have your face father, but I do not have your identity. I have my own and I will only ever be me. Sorry if that is a disappointment to you but I forgive myself for your mistakes and that you left long before your died. I forgive myself for shouldering that blame for years because I thought it was mine to hold onto and I am sorry for holding onto you. I am now sitting comfortably in my memories of you and smiling now, glad to have had some time with you. I am easily removing the shackles I put on myself and I am able to walk away from the city limits of my Painsville. Thank you for bringing me into this world and leaving me stronger. I am sorry I cannot stay with you anymore but I am still breathing. I am choosing to breathe and live a life that you did not want to anymore. I chose to not waste more time trying to hold onto your ashes.

So shackle free and sitting comfortable, welcome to 30, Ivy

xxx

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One year on… 

Hey all, 

Today marks a milestone for me. I took the header photo today and really looked at myself. How different was I now to a year ago. Exactly one year ago, to the day, I was sitting on top of a mountain in the aftermath of my accident and uncertain about my future. I sat alone and fearing the worst.  Below is a picture from that day. You can read more about it here (about me page) if you want to.

But today, sitting here now, writing about this a year on, is quite surreal for me. It was before my blog, before liv, before everything. It’s hard not to reflect on the significance and the undoubtable butterly effect that is still changing me now. I felt alone up there and I have never felt alone since that day.  Yes there has been some dark moments but never did once feel truly alone. That’s the biggest chance I have seen in myself – my change in my mindset. 

I have learnt to embrace the world for what it is and what it throws at me. You have to take the good with the bad. I realize that I needed to use every ounce of strength I had to learn what strength was. I have learnt that only one person has the ability to make your life better – you. Take the power away from everyone to control your ups and your downs and give it back to yourself. Trust yourself and you will never be alone. Only then can you surround yourself with happiness and love because you will see it and feel it. It’s true what people say….. love starts with you. 

So here I am, a year on, happier with my life because of me. Yes I have liv and an amazing group of friends for they are incredible for their ongoing love and support. And I also have my blog and all of you with your kind words and your encouragements. And I have a family that I love. But behind all that, I have me. And I can appreciate it because I have learnt to love myself first. 

So if you want to change the world, change your circumstances, or even just be happy – My advice is to start with yourself. Love the crap out of yourself first and you will never go far wrong. And let go. Let go of everything that doesn’t really matter. 

Cheers all, 

Ivy xx

Mid week guest post 

Hey all, 

So I just wanted to let you all know that I got the privilege of guest posting on Lauren’s blog (This Stuff Is Golden). She was incredibly lovely and gave me options of what I wanted to blog about. I took my time and selected the topic of “what advice would I give to my younger self?” 

I have to say, that as a guest blog virgin, she made this easy and fun. She was incredibly understanding and empathic with my post. To be honest, I didn’t intend to give so much of myself away but Lauren made this easy. So here it is….Advice to younger self

I hope I get the honor of writing a Sunday story about this lovely lady. And go check out her blog. She is incredibly talented and wonderful. 

Have a good night all and happy reading, 

Ivy 

Xxx

Sunday adventure day 

Hey all,

I hope your Sunday is going well. It’s been a great day – first Sunday Story has gone out, Corey was great to work with and so honest. She really made it easy to write.

And then we headed out to a national trust property today and it was so brumously beautiful. We arrived when it was foggy and it had a certain eeriness to it. However, then it cleared up slightly and it was lovely. It’s just what I needed today.

The property is set in the heart of rural Northamptonshire (about 30 minutes drive from me). The foundations of Lyveden represent a remarkable survivor of the Elizabethan age. We read about the unfinished house and how it was started by Sir Thomas Tresham to symbolize his Catholic faith, however, it remains incomplete and virtually unaltered since work stopped on his death in 1605. It describes Sir Thomas’s dream and how it all ended in a nightmare for the Tresham family with their involvement in the Gunpowder Plot.

The land around the property showcases beautifully crafted moats, viewing terraces and an Elizabethan orchard to explore, as well as an enigmatic garden lodge covered in religious symbols. The full extent of Sir Thomas’s symbolic design remains unexplained to this day. The location made us think about his character. It’s set outside the town of Oundle however it’s a distance from the exquisite market town. What did this man want to get away from? What was his story?

We walked around trying to pinpoint the blueprint of this home and although we could see the property would have been splendid and grand, we felt a significant sense of injustice for the dreamer. I walked away feeling that it was the start of something beautiful. Its walls lingered with aeipathy. And the story commuovered an orphic motivation within me to stop delaying my dreams. It was another magical place that is on my doorstep.

We also had a coffee, a bloody good one, in the cottage next door. The light was beautiful and caught Liv’s face perfectly. She didn’t notice me taking photos but I noticed her. I always notice her. She has the softest eyes and the kindest smile that I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. Then she saw me and the goofball came out. She has swiftly become my favorite chapter in my book. Well, the first of many.

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Now I am back home and thinking about my goals for the month and year. I feel excited and ready to take on the world.

Have a good week all. Thank you for all your support this week. Your comments, likes, and encouragements never go unnoticed. My grateful heart is so happy to have you all behind me.

Ivy xx

Releasing our inner explorers

Today we went to the other side of Lake Windermere and it was beautiful. My mother got us National Trust memberships for the year for our birthday and it is like discovering the world in a different light. We have hundreds of free places to go now and it’s re-released the inner explorers in us.


We parked at bottom of Far Sawrey and we walked the to Claife Viewing Station. It was this beautiful stone building with built-in original Instagram filters. Any 21st-century children’s dream place with a breath-taking view. It was built in the 1790s but later expanded and the building had windows tinted with coloured glass, designed to recreate the landscape under different seasonal conditions:

  • Yellow created a summer landscape
  • Orange an autumn one
  • Light green for spring
  • Dark blue for moonlight

The information boards told us that in the 1830s and 40s,  it was used by wealthy visitors for parties and dances. This quote from Mary Maria Higginson, who attended a dinner dance at Claife Viewing Station in the nineteenth century, paints a vivid picture of what it was like to come here:

“The very nicest dance that I can call to mind was given by a friend at a place called The Station. It was built on account of the beautiful view it commanded, both up and down Windermere . . . the winding walks around the Station lighted up with Chinese lanterns and coloured lamps made charming promenades.”

I imagine it was truly a sight to see in all of its glory. However, by the end of the 19th century, the Claife Viewing Station had fallen “out of favour” as so many treasures do and left to decay and weather under the bitterness of the element. Today, the building remains a rare example of a purpose–built public viewing station and is one of the earliest monuments to Lake District tourism.


As we walked on the platform, I imagined Liv dancing and sweeping me off my feet. I can see her catching my eyes over dinner and my breath catching as it does now. I can see the moon dancing on my lake as we kiss under the stars. God, she is beautiful, this place was still magic. I can feel the lovers that fell in love with its charm, the anticipation of whose who steps lead up to their arrival and the knowing that tonight was the night that anything was possible. I felt my heart in my chest and I looked at liv through my lens and saw my dreams smiling back at me. We were explorers, as much in love with the world as we are each other. It made me think of views and that where my quote from today came from.

We then hiked up the hill. It was a little hair-raising but worth it. We initially planned to hike up to Wray Castle but we soon realized that it was just too much for us in a day. So we looped round and walked by the water. We stopped continuously and my real love of photography came back. It was so gorgeous out there. So gorgeous and inspiring that choosing my photo for project 365 was so hard.


So after we looped back round to the Claire, we stopped at the perfect shop for coffee, toasted brioche, and crisps – cafe in the courtyard (Instagram: @cafe_in_the_courtyard). We walked in unsure what to expect (because some places are hit or miss) and left laughing with the team there, about the importance of the Australian open score over coffee and how we were all glad Federer won. But please note, coffee is always important. The coffee was good quality and not burnt! When you drink as much coffee as we do, you appreciated a great cup of coffee. It hit the spot and I struggled to put my camera down long enough to eat my lunch.

Do, if you get to go to the Claife, you will love it. Its history will make you want to Waltz on the metal grates whilst the lake smooths your soul. And make a stop and have a coffee – I promise you it’s good. Well worth it, it was the perfect first location for the use of our national trust membership and another great location for my camera!

I’m so sad to be leaving tomorrow but they place has stolen our hearts. We will be back in the Lake District soon enough.

Good night,

Ivy xx

Be the change

Good Evening everyone,

On this New Year’s Eve Eve, I wanted to share a quote that has really hit home this week.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

I read the Queen’s 2016 speech earlier and it was clear as day that the message for all of us is that we need to be the change that we wish to see. We each are responsible for the state of this world and collectively we can make a difference. However, this requires each of us to bear the weight of our decisions. This year has been interesting and although I am not one to talk about politics – with Brexit and Donald Trump becoming president both occurring this year – it is hard for me not to feel driven to do more with my life. To achieve my dreams, to do more with my time, to be the best version of me.

Morgan Harper Nichols says that…

“When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents and those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same. You have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living. You are wrapped in endless, boundless and grace. And things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday”

I read this and feel compelled to go be the revolution that I have always needed but waited for someone else to give it to me. My relationships have always been hard and temporary due to my expectations that “I cannot fix myself” and “they (my partner) are my best feature”. Inevitably, it was never going to work out with any of them. I dated people who possessed the qualities I wished to have. However, this year has previously posted, has been all about embracing. Embracing my qualities and developing a love for myself. Through this, I have been able to let go of my demons and my precious haunts that cast shadows and dimmed the light on my path ahead. I let that happen and I was wrong. The change in the world starts with my world.

holidays

Last night, Liv and I watched…(cheesy Christmas film alert!) the Holiday and besides absolutely adoring this film, I found myself taken it in with new eyes. Arthur’s character says to Iris – “You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god’s sake!” – and this is so true. I want to be at the helm of my own life and finally, I am. My accident has taught me to love me above all else. And then, like magic, when I was least expecting it, I met Liv. She showed me whole love and I found that she pushed me into the spotlight and was proud to be by my side. Not that I haven’t felt this before, but, it was that I wanted to be there. I wanted to stand beside her not behind her. I wanted her to love me, as flawed as I might be, as unattractive as I sometimes (always) feel and as unaccomplished as I think I am. I let her accept who I actually was without feeling the need to over-emphasis my qualities and try and “sell myself”. As I finally realized something. To believe that I must hide all the parts of me that are broken out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room. It’s to believe that I am undeserving of the skin that I exhibit every day or that the stars stop shining on a cloudy night. Instead, I just realized that I do not simply settle, but instead, strive for extraordinary, for I feel extraordinary. I feel more than others. I feel everything more and I see the depths of the oceans within a puddle. If you had to know one thing about me, it would be that I feel the edges and the details of things that others do not even acknowledge. When I get close to someone, I feel their happiness and their pain and I demand depth. In exchange, I give exploration, endless questions and pure love for every day. This kind of love commands a certain type of person. Someone who is content with themselves but does one’s utmost to be their best version. They know themselves and their passion is their beauty. It’s true when they say, a smile and positive vibes are the best accessories anyone can wear. In addition to this, I think it’s only fair to say that one’s ability to simultaneously be content within their means and capacity to increase their aperture and see where they can go is a rare quality and I am fortunate enough to find this in not only Liv but more recently, myself.

I don’t think I love very many things but there are certain things I do love:

  • The first sip of coffee in the morning
  • The passion in someone’s eyes when they talk about their love
  • Reading someone else’s words and finding a connection with them
  • A great book
  • An old song that feels like home
  • Seeing your friends and picking up where you left off
  • A smile shared between lovers, friends, family that says it all
  • A new dream that provokes motivation
  • The satisfaction of knowing that I am forever growing

Our time in this world is brief, but beautiful, even if it has ended. Even if it will never be retold that space was occupied by us. In the end, I am grateful to be able to look back and reflect on the changes I have made and the distance I have come. I am grateful for the wonder I have witnessed and the love I have shared with all of the collaborators along the way, both past and current. I am just thankful to have shared any time with you at all. Be your own limited edition and let others witness your infinity. Show your boundlessness and go way your heart takes you. Your voice, your mind, your decisions. Your life is your story. Be your own leading lady.

Good Night

Ivy xx

My 2016 word of the year

Hi all,

I was scrolling through my reader and I saw that a few of you has selected a word for the year ahead or reviewed the year and see how it linked to your life. As first, I admit, I thought it was easy but then I started to think about my year. There has been a lot going on and I started to realize that this is harder than I first thought. However, after scrolling the dictionary and thesaurus, I found the word that sums up the year 2016 for me. And that word – in case you didn’t guess yet- is embrace.

embrace (v.) em·brace \im-ˈbrās\

  • to take or clasp in the arms; press to the bosom; hug.
  • to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly: to embrace an idea.
  • to avail oneself of: to embrace an opportunity.
  • to adopt (a profession, a religion, etc.): the embrace of Buddhism
  • to take in with the eye or the mind.
  • to encircle; surround; enclose.
  • to include or contain: An encyclopedia embraces a great number of subjects.

I think that I have experienced every various that this verb could be used throughout this year. And it started in February when I had my accident. If you have stumbled across this blog and have no clue what I am talking about then head over to the about me page. If you are that pressed for time, then just look at the pictures. In brief, I had a snowboarding accident where I hit a safety net at about 30 mph which caused me to fracture my vertebra and required stitches to my face. (Bet you are intrigued to go look at the photos now eh??) I was lucky enough to have no damage to my sight and is on track to making a full recovery.  Anyways that accident required me to embrace the uncertainty of what was about to happen to me. I was totally engulfed in the safety net with little awareness of whether I was dead or alive. I couldn’t hear anything but felt the most incredibly direct pain in my face and my back. It was hell. And I can remember it in the blink of an eye. Some say you black out, that you don’t remember your accidents well I do. I have the most vivid memory of that moment. The moment I had to embrace my future without the uncertainty of how it would be. Was I deaf? Paralysed? Bleeding? Going to pass out and never wake up? I had to take in my current situation with my mind. My future unknown and I lay there, alone and afraid.

I think had a choice: get up and fight or give in and wait. I grabbed the net and pulled myself up out of the net. It hurt like hell but I wasn’t going to lay there and wait for my fate. My friend finally skied down to me and he pulled me up. He literally saved my life. He called the patrol, kept me calm, and never let me go. He sat with me in the ambulance and took photos in the hospital once he knew I was okay. He never left me. He took me back to the chalet and never took his eyes off me. He was my absolutely miracle. And before I went to bed that night, I embraced him and truly hugged him. It felt so amazing to be able to hug him. To know I was okay because of him.

When I got home to England, I only then found out I had fractured my vertebra. The T2 and T3 were both fractured. And then I was off work for two months – bed bound his six weeks of them and with a brace on for the whole eight. But during this time I had to embrace many times:

  1. Not working – I work extremely hard and use to struggle to not work from home or leave on time. That place was my joy and I didn’t have a life outside of it. It was only when I went to Hampshire to see my friends did I feel like I exist. Bearing in mind that I live and work a 3-hours drive away – I did get down to Hampshire that much. So naturally I went to Portsmouth to be with my mother and friends whilst I recovered.
  2. Intense frustration – Honesty, during this time I have never experienced frustration like that. The pain of being bed ridden for 23 hours a day and in extreme pain if I walked more than 30 minutes. The frustration that came with that. That I took out on my mom and my aunt. They stuck through every tantrum I had and every tear I cried.
  3. Loss of a lover – my accident made me realize I didn’t want to be without my best friend who had been a lover of mine as well. She had been occupying my heart and mind for about four years. We just never seemed to be right (right time, right mindset). But my accident made me not want to wait for the perfect setting, perfect time, perfect mindset because on the top of that mountain embraced in a safety net, I finally realized that the perfect anything does not exist. So I went to go see her, she rejected me and I left. I never heard from her again despite being in the same town and every day I waited for her to call. She didn’t call or visit. She had her reasons and I do not deny that I didn’t hurt her in the past but I needed her and she wasn’t there. Louis C.K. wrote, “when a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t”. The is true for both of us. Everyone has a chapter in their book that is unheard and I don’t doubt that she is harboring pain from our previous battles, as was I, but on that mountain, in the face of uncertainty, I learned that none of that mattered anymore. I forgave everyone that ever hurt me in that moment because I knew I was going to be alive, including her. However, as I have been previously and now again on the third occasions, I had loved and lost. I can categorically place the feeling of what it is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive as one of the hardest things you will ever go through in life. I grieved her for 2 months and what I didn’t realize is that I let go of her too. She came back and we tried but it wasn’t the same. She didn’t feel the same to me, we didn’t fit. It was love but a different kind of love. So it ended badly and I lost her – her love and her friendship – but thought two things were deeply intertwined. Someone once wrote – some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.  So I learned to embrace the uncertainty of what is yet to come and hope that my future sees her friendship in it.
  4. A new view – During the last weeks of my time in Hampshire,  began to see real differences in me. My mindset, my attitude, my posture (six weeks in a brace does wonders for your back). I realized that only I control my happiness and I embraced the opportunity to see the world in a more positive way. I found the courage to let go of the negativity that dampened my dreams for too long. This began to bear fruits quickly and continues to shine a light through my darkest days.
  5. The ends of “friendships” – Karen Salmansohn wrote,”If you wanna find out who’s a true friend, screw up or go through a challenging time…then see who sticks around.” This has been a defining quote for me or some of those people who have not been in contact despite hearing about my accident. I had to embrace the inevitability that friendships don’t just stay the same and it’s okay to grow apart. The parentheses around friendships are to highlight that I am questioning the existence of these friendships now that I see them more clearly. It’s amazing what you see when you raise your own self-esteem and demand more respect from yourself and others. So I did a social media clear out of the negative people in my life that decided to hold onto their pain that I may or may not have caused them instead of wishing me well. To them, I am sorry you felt unable to contact me and wish me well and I am contented with the memories you have given me and wish nothing but a beautiful life ahead.
  6. A new world – I have never been a blogger but since my accident, I decided I would start as it was on my list. I really looking hard for my title and it fit perfectly with my mission, my journey. It has brought me friendship and balance to my life with the confidence to say exactly what I feel without the worry about what others think of me. This platform is so supportive and positive and I have privileged to learn about all of you. Thank you, you made this so easy and rewarding. Owning your story is the bravest thing you will ever do but it’s worth it.
  7. Every opportunity – When I was off, I was forced to move out of my current home. I lost a friend and a seven-year-old boy that I felt, at the time, were family but this was not what it seemed. I moved in with a young lady which was not so far away and I started to be more independent. I realized that the friendship I had and my past accommodation (before my accident) was restricting and limiting. I was able to do what I wanting to do when I wanted to do it and without the tutting of the housemate’s disapproving finger. This lead to more me time, a happy person and the feeling of control. I love it. I even started to go out and meet new friends, go to coffee shops, be brave – which were all things that I had stopped doing without realizing. I haven’t felt more like myself in years. This led to the meeting of my new fiancee – Liv. We meet over coffee and despite all of my protest, she pushed through and showed me that she was here to stay. She loved me from day one and has since built a home and a life with me. She has been consistent, thoughtful, deep, sincere and unfathomable. She reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres in her personality and she is undoubtedly the love of my life. She proposed to me after 3 months and we go from strength to strength. We are at 6 months and guys – I have found my own love story.
  8. The end to a beginning – This year, my grandfather passed away. He was the lost one of my grandparents (on both sides) that was alive. He taught me so much from the importance of traditions to the art of painting. I had the pleasure of knowing him well and loving him dearly. He was the first individual who I get to say goodbye to whilst he was alive (sleeping) but alive nonetheless. This made the loss of him a little more bearable. He had held the responsibility for the traditionally large (24 people plus) family Christmas’s meal. You see my mother is one of five children and I was one of 14 grandchildren. We always all got together at Christmas. This was always my Christmas plans and without him here – would the families do their own thing? I knew that this Christmas was going to be one of embracing change. Which leads on to number 8.
  9. New life – I have become an AUNT!!! In April, My older brother and his wife gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Lilly-Emma. She is gorgeous and I adore her already. We facetime as often as we can and she has brought a new life shortly after the loss of a loved one.
  10. New traditions – As previously mentioned, Christmas was up in the air. My mother had decided to go see my little brother in Las Vegas and I was invited to spend the holidays with my future family-in-law. Seven whole days with the rents in a cottage in the peak district. Interesting but daunting. So a few mini meltdowns later and here I am embracing the uncertainty of if they would like me, happy to have me as a part of their family, oh the uncertainty were endless. But it’s been amazing and I am well and truly pleased that I fought through my anxieties because I have been accepted and welcomed back again. Liv and I cooked Christmas dinner and it has been an incredibly lovely experience. I like to think a tradition is a good feeling that you want to recreate. I am happy to make Christmas with Liv my newest tradition. This is a new tradition that I new will stay.

WOW, so that’s the year in a review. It’s been an experience. I have learned that resilience is very different than being numb. Resilience means you experience, you feel, you fall, you hurt. But, you keep going. Here is to the next year ahead.

In addition to this, I have decided that the word for 2017 is going to be…… BALANCE.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Much love,

Ivy xxx