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 It’s impossible not to feel that I have superseded my expectancies of the list and I know my life and most important, my outlook on it, is completely different.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

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

Project 365

Hey all,

Happy Holidays! I have you all had a lovely festive time. You may or may not have noticed that I added a new page called Project 365.

It’s the 28th of December and just over the last few days, I have really started to get back into my photography. It was and always has been one of my most precious hobbies. I really enjoyed it and always took photos fairly often, but I stopped and lost my confidence after my most significant relationship (before Liv) broke down. Since I have picked up the camera again, I have felt a part of me come alive again. I have the most incredible life ahead with only a few small events happening (new job, new home, wedding). Therefore I have I felt that if I wanted to capture this and try and push myself creatively. And I knew that to take this thing to the next level, I had to do something extraordinary. So with only a couple of days before New Year’s Eve, I decided to start a “365” project like so many other photographers before me. It felt like a great idea, and so I just went for it. What could possibly happen right?

So here going nothing…

Wish me luck

Ivy xxx

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