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 It’s impossible not to feel that I have superseded my expectancies of the list and I know my life and most important, my outlook on it, is completely different.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

Cliveden

Another road trip means another opportunity to see the beauty that is England. Its history is incredible and I have been blessed to live here for 15 years now. Every time I go somewhere new, I fall in love with this beautiful country.

Yesterday we went to Cliveden – beautiful hotel and stately manor home in the outskirts of London. Cliveden is an Italianate mansion and estate on the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire border. It crowns an outlying ridge of the Chiltern Hills by the hilltop village of Taplow. It’s about  2 miles from the riverside town of Maidenhead. Clive den is set on the banks about 130  feet above the River Thames with all the grounds slope down to the river. The site has been home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor.

There we could follow in the footsteps of dukes, earls, and royalty as we explored a series of gardens, each with their own special charming story. From the formality of the Parterre with its vibrant floral displays to the quirky statuary and topiary in the Long Garden, the gardens will delight you in every season. The long garden was incredibly sculptured and organised. It held a sense of wealth and stature.

The formal gardens give way to secluded glades, tree-lined avenues and picturesque riverside with miles of scenic woodland walk to discover.

The house is now a luxury hotel but you can take a peek inside apparently, we didn’t but it was incredible to admire the residents at lunch and drinks in the lounges.

Enjoyed this day, it was breathtakingly beautiful

Good night

Ivy

Xx

The art of letting go

Hey all,

I’ve reloaded something this week and I wanted to share with you. I don’t think I have posted about it before so mugs of coffee at the ready.

Context:

This week my water bottle emptied a liter of water into my bag and drown the whole contents of my bag. Including my beloved bullet journal. Yes I said it, my bullet journal was soggy and all the ink had bled through the pages. I was at work and tried to dry it out but it was unfortunately beyond repair. I was disappointed and felt heavy with all the pages and hours spent that were now swimming in the bottom of my bag.

The surprise:

My fiancée ( who is incredible by the way) had brought me a new one before I even got a chance to tho about what to do. She has an incredible ability for understanding me after our 8 months so far together. Don’t tell her but she knew me after day one. But anyways she knows how important it is to me and how not doing this impacts on me. Her kindness and giving are never ending. It’s the fact that she doesn’t belittle my habits or throw away my effects like harmful comments. Any notebook would have done but she chose the same one and got it dispatched the next day. My knightness in shining armor strikes again.

The reset:

So this weekend, I begrudgingly started again. I opened up the first page and thought “where do I start?” I thought about the organization and my old bullet journal. What did I want to do differently? And I started and couldn’t start. I completely my yearly things and then moved on to February. I set it out with more of my “creative flare” that Liv says I have. I piled out all of my scrapbooking stuff and made something my notebook mine again. I love it already. I am struggling to stop for dinner.

The lesson:
Letting go isn’t about erasing the blow but more about lessening the impact. Yes, my bullet journal got ruined but then I got to start again. It doesn’t take away from time and effort put into my old one but it just made it better. For me, I just broke down the task into manageable chunks and dealt with it. I didn’t get emotionally overloaded. It helped to have Liv as a soundboard I admit, but I took the emotion out and dealt with the facts. Simply put.

The result:

I thought I would share the new journal layout. I have to say, I am so pleased with it. Your comments and thought are welcome. I’m not done yet but that’s the thing about bullet journaling – it’s never complete.


Enjoy,

Ivy xx

10, 821

I scrolled through social media today with all of these “fake news” site offering the answers to life. How to know it’s love. How to be successful. How to be happy. How to be the best you. I thought to myself, how do you measure success or happiness. How do you measure the quality of love you have. How does that compare to the couple that live below you in a block of apartments? The money in my bank account is not my measure of success. The smile across my face is not my measure of happiness. The best version of me is not available on some checklist. Your little articles do not attack my self-esteem. 

Instead, I celebrate every victory, regardless of size. I woke up on time, I went for that swim despite my tiredness, I made that traffic light, I found a new artist I love. Every victory started with a choice to do something that I didn’t have to. For example, first week back to work and I was shattered. I did not want to get out of bed at all. But instead, I went swimming every morning before work. Up at 6am, in the pool by 7:30 am and I pushed it. Every single stroke was a choice. A choice to keep going. A decision where I said, “I did not come this far to walk away without a sense of victory.” I am, as we all are, a history of victories. We are still here and we are fighting proof that we are stronger than the warfare we have been through. There are the non-scale victories that we feel without observational proof. Improved endurance, quality of sleep, increased resilience.  Those are my measures of success, happiness, and being the best me. You will see the thoughts weigh heavy in my eyes but you will see the warrior inside my soul because  I am the victor of my own catastrophe. The quickest way from A to B is straight through and the soldier inside urges me forward through the havoc. I ignore the fallen to the left and right, it does not matter what they are doing. We are all on a battlefield with our biggest fears facing us. I am not here to judge your spider if you don’t judge my shark. I am not a part of their battle. I am not a saver as they are not mine. This fight is mine and mine alone.

R.M. Drake wrote, “one day you’ll make peace with your demons, and the chaos in your heart will settle first. and maybe for the first time in your life, life will smile right back at you and welcome you home.” Well, I walked right now to my demons and they waved their white flags. Every day I go to bed with more victories under my belt. Today, I conquered another new place, solved another new problem and saw another through a new perspective. On my surface, I seem confident and armed with a shield. I am old scars from my previous battles. I am the beautifully blemished victor and I see the need for my armor. It makes me ready for battle, regardless of the requirement for it.

So here is to my history of victories. All 10,821 days that I have conquered.

Ivy

xx

Game on, 2017. Game on

Hey all,

There is something about a new year that brings me a sense of renewal. A chance to start again, an opportunity to prepare your wish list and execute your many goals and ambitions. You look at the future like a beacon of hope and you feel able to look your fears in the eye and say “game on!”

For me, I am a self-confessed bullet journaller. If you have never heard of bullet journaling, well you are in for a treat. It’s a totally custom Aizawl every (and totally forgiving) organization system that adapts to your needs. It’s modular by design and compromised of interchangeable methods that help you quickly capture and organizes information. It’s my to-do lists, sketchbook, notebook, and diary. It’s a way I organize my life and my thoughts. I log my events next to my ideas and mixed within my to do list. Every event, no matter how personal or emotionally taxing it is, is logging as objective and as brief as possible. Nothing bears more or less weight than another item. This is how I work. I never run out of room on a page and I never have to carry a whole bag full of lists and loose bits of paper again.

So today, I spent a few hours preparing my bulletin journal for the next year and month. I have spent time making my goals for the year and making a tracker for my projects – like my project 365 that I am stating. Also, I have reviewed my old tasks and migrated items. It may seem like a lot of effort to have to rewrite items over and over again but that’s the purpose of it. It’s intentional. This process makes me pause and consider each item. If an entry isn’t even worth the effort to rewrite it then it’s probably not that important. It increases my productivity and allows me to rid my mind of tasks that are mundane. It helps to keep my focus against all the noise in my mind and this world produces.

For anyone wishing to know my tools of the trade:

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Leuchtturm 1917 notebook (dotted)– While worth the money. It has 3 bookmarks. The pages fit a whole month numbered 1 -31. Instructions and tips and hints at the back of the book. Pre-prepared pages ready for you such as index and codes. Pages are numbered and it has 240 pages. Enough to last you ages. And a lovely by in the back to hold documents etc. Leather bound with an elastic to hold it shut.

fullsizerender-4Derwent 2302206 Graphik Line Maker Drawing Pens – Great pens for this journal. They are high quality and last forever. They are versatile and do not leak on me. The pens thick, opaque ink lays down rich, strong tones so it is suitable for bold line drawings. The Graphik line maker pens come in a range of nib sizes from 0.05 to 0.8 so allowing for plenty of variation in my work. Gives me a professional finish that I love.

I was asked by someone recently why I do it, why spend my time organizing and organizing my journal. My answer was simply… because I want time. When you read about the things people say they most regret about life, it normally revolves around the theme of wanting more time. I want to spend my time focusing on what I want in life instead of worrying about the small stuff that really doesn’t matter. I want to identify what’s important to me and do those things. I want to get rid of what I don’t need and live more purposefully.

2017 is all about balanced for me. Balancing my work life and home life better. Balancing my responsibilities with my desires. Balancing myself. Bullet journaling helps me to balance. It gives me my focus without the constraints of space or time. It’s my analog of my head and it’s a beautiful chaos that I make sense of. It keeps me hopeful and focused and it tracks my growth.

So here’s to 2017, hopefully balanced,

Ivy xxx

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

Another one off the list

Hey everyone,

So it’s been a busy old week this end which means I haven’t been here (obviously) but I did get to go to Norwich and tick off another item on my 30 before 30 lost. Well, actually two things off it.

First off, I got to see the northern lights ( in a LED form) but it was incredible. It’s called the tunnel of light (more information here) and it’s truly an experience. I got to witness will a wonderland display that reflected the patterns and colors of the Northern Lights. A few stats for you – this is 45-meters long, 4 meters high and 6 meters wide made from 50,000 pulsating LEDs – and as the website has said, it’s “a display of mesmeric dancing beams, the likes of which the city has never seen before”. All I can describe it as is magical. I have previously been to Iceland and due to bad weather was not able to see the lights. But this was a surprise pre-anniversary trip from my fiancée.. yes you heard right… I am getting married. Like I said in a previous post. A LOT has changed. I will introduce her in a different post but for now, just know that she is incredible.

Secondly, on my list of this to do, I got to do an act of kindness. We decided to get business cards made. These ones:

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We left them all around the city of Norwich for people to find – on the train there and back, in coffee shops, restaurants, book shops (especially in self-help books and books about overcoming anxiety and depression) and in card shops. We want to let others know that someone thought they were lovely. And I caught one guy on the train look at it, smile and put it in his pocket. That feeling for worth it. His smile for genuine and he didn’t even know it was us. It felt good.

 

photo
Sorry it’s blurry!

 

Also, we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant and as we left it was raining and since I had a few drinks of wine – I cleverly decided that I wanted ice cream. So we went to Tesco’s (other brands are available) and got a box of almond Magnums. As we were leaving, I heard. A girl say do you sell umbrellas. I turned to my backpack, pulled out my umbrella and gave it to her. She looked at me and was shocked that I would give her mine. I said “I don’t need it! I have a water proof jacket and I am about to eat ice cream in the rain. Take it.” She thanked me and left. Now that felt good. It was like a sense of freedom to my need to acquire things. It wasn’t an expensive umbrella but it was mine. It was mine and I gave it to a better cause. And as we walked to the station in the rain, I was dancing to myself and laughing with my fiancée. I just realized that another one off the list!! She laughed at me and gave me that look that I fell for six months ago. She saw me and smiled and called me a silly sausage for eating ice cream in the rain. It was so easy to see the brighter side to life. I treasured the moment of gratitude received over the thing I had.

It’s funny because of years ago, I lived for the moments where I gave my heart and everything I had away without the worry of it returning. But over the years, the heart breaks and bitter souls that I have crossed, I have found myself hard to the world and selfish. Selfish with my time, patience, and love. And I guess I saw this without realizing it until now because I put it on my list of 30 things before 30 and didn’t know why. But my heart knew before my head could work it out. Since I have made this list, I have realized the world is a cold place, but you don’t have to be a haven for that. You can let it wash over you and change your day. We are all one decision away for radically changing our lives. If you don’t like who you are, change it. We are not trees. We have not chained down, however, heavy weighted and complex the locks are. You are in control of this life, your life, and you can be anyone you want to be. You just have to find the courage.

Until next time,

Ivy xx