White noise

Hi All,

So it’s been a while since I have written an actual post. I guess I did not consider how time-consuming taking a photo a day would be or just how much pressure I put on myself to make something that I am happy with. Tonight, I sat and thought about what I have learnt from this project and I wanted to share some of my reflections with you.

My hotel room tonight is filled with thoughts and questions that do not really require answers. A space which is full of what I call the ‘white noise’ of my mind. The buzz of a million thoughts without a definitive theme or one protruding thought. When was the last time I felt silence or, more importantly, the lack of activity? When did I last look without seeing a theory? When did my mind become so busy? Was it all at once or over an extended time? This project has made me realise that I spend so much of my day thinking about the void of indefinite questions for the worry about what the silence may bring me. I cry alone in the comfort of my own arms when I let my bubble burst as if the auditorium had been opened up to an aggiornamento. Some days I am not the strongest warrior but resilience does not have to be measured for merit. I am not returning from a moribund state or stained with an astrobleme. I just live within my dimensions using mistakes as my portal to discovery.

Days like this, I sit in the eye of my storm watching the crap fly around me but never seeing it touch me. I use touch because I stopped feeling it, like a second skin. A skin that is unattached to me – the anxiety it can cause me, the weight my shoulder potential feel and the smile that could quickly disappear if the winds drew me in. I sit and stare into the darkened, nearly black, cyclone of my days and pray for more time to work it all out. I remain at a distance like an ostrich with sand. When did I become less mealy-mouthed, sobersided, and place-seeking? More crucially, can a self-critic ever really be mealy-mouthed? Am I ready to face this yet, to reengage when the sand is so inviting for my head? What do I fear if I succeed at life? Regardless of all this, I know that my building blocks can be rearranged better (and worse). Have I just gone too far too quickly? I think so and I don’t have the gas to reverse.

I know that I am soon going to be having a deep conversation with my silence. Timing is everything, my friend. I’ll have my people call your people.

Speak soon,

Ivy x

 

 

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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

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

Sunday Stories #5

Corey – The Reviver

When we are children, we are asked all the time “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We have the world at our fingertips and anything is possible. However, when we approach our 20s and 3os, people stop asking; “what do you want to be?” and instead “ask who are you?” As if we should know. Well, what if what we thought we wanted to be turned out to be wrong? Does our age define what we are allowed to do about it? Corey found herself whilst sitting in the middle of her biggest storm, and this is her story.

Corey’s quotes and words come from her bracelets. There are four that she wears most days that always help. They are two Mantra Bands that say,

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and

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And two Storypeople wrist wraps  that say,

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and

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Although all of these are powerful and stir up your motivation to succeed without a requirement for further explanation, I soon learned the deeper context to those.

Corey started with her website, ‘The Nostalgia Diaries’, and explained that she started this about two months ago. She shed light on the state of affairs within her own reality far away from the virtual world that we share.

“The past year has been one of immense change for me. My divorce was finalized, and I moved out and had to start completely over. The ending of my marriage had left me not knowing who I was anymore.”

Her druxy situation was laid out to me further and I started to understand the ripples and reverberations of her impossible dilemma.

“The more I struggled in my marriage, the more it started affecting me. My unhappiness manifested itself in many different ways. My mom called me one day and told me that Zoey needed me healthy and happy. It was like a light switch for me; I realized I needed to start taking steps to make some much-needed changes.”

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The only word I can use to describe, for what I can only imagine she may have been feeling at this time, is ‘peripeteia’. The dictionary definition stated that this is a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances; the point of no return. Corey found herself face-to-face with her demons and she needed to take action. Throughout our conversation, I feel Corey’s hiraeth for a time where the possibilities were endless. She looked at her daughter and I can only assume wanted to see the world as naively as her daughter did. She wanted to take away the “shoulds” and “have tos” in life and restore the “wants” and “can bes”. Corey consistently used the word “us” and her life choices are reflective of this.

“Though I knew the direction our marriage was headed, I was very concerned for what a divorce would do to her. Because Zoey and I – since day one – have had this connection that is probably palpable to anyone who sees us together. We are each other’s people; she never wanted to be apart from me, and the thought of not being with her all the time in the event of a divorce killed me.”

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As I reread her longer emails, I realize that this is a journey for two. Her numinous journey is greater than herself. I remembered feeling incredibly overwhelmed and wishing she had filmed this voyage as documentation. The film would be fearful but fascinating; it would attract the deeper souls who would be awed by her courage and strength. I sat back, took a breath and said “This is powerful. She is inspiring.” A deeper love for her daughter is manifested within the spaces of her beautifully unfortunate events written on my screen. She only wanted the best for her daughter, as any mother would, but the consequences of her subsequent actions and the invisible ripples felt by Zoey were only too real to take any decision for further action lightly. However, there was a leap that was needed and their hands were held tightly with a gentle reminder that mother knows best.

“And of course, my mom was right. Since Zoey and I moved out, she has been thriving. I didn’t think it was possible for her to be a happier child than she was already (I swear she was born smiling), but now, she is just a ray of light. I want to be like her when I grow up, but in the meantime, I’m so happy that we are both in such a better place.”

 Her strength is something worth admiring. She did want she had to do to survive and created a new life.

“I find it incredible what we have the capacity to do in times of struggle. People really are amazing 🙂 You do what you have to do. I could have very easily let everything get the better of me, but it just wasn’t an option. So I carried on, trying to take the right steps forward. And what forward meant for me was probably different than what forward might mean for someone else. All I knew was that none of us were happy, and we needed to be.”

But her story does not end there. She wrote about her job, the benefits of this but it left a gap for her. Her passion was on hold. She informed me that she had a full-time job as a marketing director, but that the role, unfortunately, does not allow her the space to be very creative. I knew she was creative before she said anything. Her blog is beautifully crafted and there is a hint of “je ne sais quoi” about it. I urge you to go look at it. Then I read that she has a BFA in Graphic Design and also a freelance design company on the side that just isn’t taking off. I sat and thought ‘what can I get her to design for me?’ She is so talented. Before I could even ask what it is about design she likes, the answer was there, looking at me.

“I always wanted to have my own design company (my degree is in graphic design and that – along with writing – is what I’ve always been passionate about.) I have this deep need to be creative in my life. I love the process of creating and crafting something and being able to see the end product and say, “Look, I made that.””

 There is one line that grips me:

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And then, as if like magic, I get it. I understand her vibe. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. You can see Corey’s passion for her life, her daughter, her journey so far, her faults, her future and her possibilities beaming out of her. She is not about knowing it all or having it all figured out. It’s about the direct correlation that the effort she puts into something, along with her level of engagement, that makes something beautiful. The Nostalgia Effect.

“But I remembered who I had once wanted to be: a writer and an artist. So I began the blog as a creative outlet and as a way to maybe start becoming those things. For inspiration, I started looking back to my past to help remember who I wanted to be. I’m using nostalgia and my memories to help create a better life for myself, and hopefully, through this blog, help other people do the same (the benefits of nostalgia are quite incredible! Which also explains the name!)”

 I feel I share the same love as she does. I understand that this virtual world gives me my chance to answer, “What do you want to be?” instead of, “Who are you?”

“The blog has been my saving grace. It fills me up. It makes me happy. I feel joyful again because of it. I’d love for it to turn into something more that would enable me to have more flexibility and provide for us the things that we need to live happy, fulfilling lives. Until then, I’m just happy I’m finally moving in the right direction, happy, hopeful and finally free to be working toward the me I always wanted to be. Anything that happens from this point on will just be an added bonus.”

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 I smile at the screen because I feel connected. I feel like Corey has carved her own path and is working towards “the Corey” she can see smiling back at her in her mind’s eye. Her direction is uncomplicated because of herself. She was able to recognize her inner strength, felt alive amongst the rubble and realized she was breathing and that’s enough for now.

When I asked her what her hopes are for Zoey she replied:

“As a parent, it also reminds me of the kind of life I want for my amazing daughter, Zoey. She’s my world, and I want to teach her every day how wonderful life can be when it is filled with love, happiness, and positivity toward the past, the present, and the future. But truthfully, I don’t think I really need to teach her that because every day she shows me she CAN do these hard things. I’m glad we have each other to remind ourselves in the event we forget.”

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Corey and her story have taught me two things; 1) never grow up and 2) Je ne sais quoi is a creation. Our age does not have to define our existence and limit our possibilities. When you find yourself questioning your life, take it back to ‘what did you want to be?’ If you don’t like something, change it. They say ‘growing up is opportunity’ and it is. Yes, we have certain responsibilities but we should not forget that life is ever-changing. The ‘you’ today sitting here reading this, does not and WILL not be the ‘you’ in a few hours, or tomorrow. Do not put a roof over your head for it will only obstruct your view.

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The second lesson, ‘je ne sais quoi is a creation’, is a realization that it is one of those qualities you read about but rarely experience. Corey has taught me that this quality is real. But you have to create it. You have to reset your mind and change your circumstances, starting with the definition of ‘what is possible’ in your head. There are certain certainties in life that you can predict. You can predict that you will meet someone and fall in love. You may or may not have a child for it is a choice you can prepare for (or not). Life does throw you curveballs and when these come along, you may or may not be ready for them. The way you deal with those times is when someone’s ‘je ne sais quoi’ develops and is exposed. You are the master of your world; you create the outcome and your story. Corey drinks out of a mug that says, “we can do hard things”, and I believe it. The only thing that stands in the way of those hard things is our self. When Corey moved out of her own way, she created an indescribable attribute that makes her unique and someone authors write as their lead character.

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In relation to her ikigai, I believe that Corey has found her reason for being within her ‘metanoia’. It’s a Greek word representing the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life. When she did not know what to do, she took it back to what she wanted to be. Her nostalgic metanoia meant that she allowed herself to embrace your inner child and begin a new journey. Her beautiful daughter reminded her that anything is possible if you just believe. Believe enough to reset your life despite the expectations that society places on us; that we should know all the answers as adults. She started her journey for two with the memoirs of one’s former self who was not fazed by the possibility of failure. I do not know what is ahead for Corey but I can only foresee a beautifully everlasting epoch of success with a mindset like that, and a heart as gracious as hers. She revived herself and became the conqueror of her castle with Zoey. I can imagine Zoey proudly looking at her mother and feeling ready to take on the world.

So that’s it, my first Sunday Story of the New Year done. Thank you to Corey for her bravery and for sharing her story with me, it has been incredibly serendipitous. I hope you have enjoyed reading it and please leave your comments, questions, and thoughts below. Corey’s blog can be found here: The Nostalgia Diaries. It is thoroughly worth a visit (and follow as you get these snazzy update emails).

If you want to get in touch privately, you can contact me here or my email is ivy.iris.stevens@gmail.com. Likewise, if you want to be a Sunday story, please write to me.

Until next month,

Ivy xx

Sunday story 

Tomorrow is my first Sunday story of the year. 

It’s been incredible to start this again. I never forgot how much your stories give me but everytime I sit to write a new one, it fills me heart with love and my souls with strength. It is an example of the sheer beauty that people possess. This one hit home a little and I hope you like it 

Posting time: 9am (GMT) 

Until tomorrow, 

Ivy 

xx