LOCATING GRATITUDE

•gifted trainers from Tretorn

That word we often see alongside or nearby the anything related to ‘positivity’. The word the well-intentioned beacons of joy in your life will keep telling you should have or feel, in the pursuit to achieve a happy or even zen-like life. But it doesn’t always come easy, particularly if life is being a bit rough with you, and especially if the practice of attempting to feel it hasn’t been something you’ve actively tried to make a part of your everyday life. That’s not to say that if you don’t make a conscious effort to consider what you’re grateful for that it you don’t believe you are fortunate, or that you aren’t aware of the wonderful things that you have, but it’s probably easier for it to get lost in the chaos of what can be overwhelming everyday life.  

But even during the weeks it feels challenging to be grateful, there’s always something within the sludge to be thankful for, and it’s those weeks that it’s even more important that we smear the muck off and reveal it to ourselves with some clarity. 

This year has already been a one of huge changes, milestones, and shifts in mindsets. It’s been a conflicting and confusing mix of simultaneous but opposing emotions. It’s left me feeling in limbo, unsettled and at times extremely frightened. But it’s also been one that’s really caused me to consider what’s important, whose opinions matter and what I really want from my life. I also finally feel like a proper grown up and that feels so empowering. 

The ray of sunshine that is Liv Purvis unwittingly gave me a nudge via instastories to consider the things that have made me cheerful recently, so I’ve decided to just write it all down and post without too much farting about trying to make it blog-worthy. It actually used to be a weekly series that I did on my YouTube channel, and then my instastories, but I’ve been so bogged down with the not so groovy life stuff (yes, I did say groovy), that I have haven’t had time to locate the twinkly stars within the expanse of black. 

So let’s see what comes to my mind.

I feel like a grown up…..

Due to certain things happening in my life concerning relatives, I’ve had to have a lot of serious conversations with very intelligent people, ones relating to wills and legal documents and all that wonderful kinda stuff. It’s not fun by any stretch of the imagination and half the time I’m just trying to look like I know what people are talking. When I’m not furiously googling what things mean, I’m trying to find a really professional sounding phone voice which has a level of authority without sounding cold. I feel like I could deal with anything right now. Not taking the easy route, refusing to pass things to my Dad to sort out, and having to make big decisions on my own, has delivered a new sort of confidence. It’s made me realise how important it is that parents let their kids do stuff by themselves. Doing tricky or laborious stuff by yourself, even if it involves mistakes and hatching repairs, is invaluable in terms of growth and confidence. I feel stronger than ever, even if I feel a bit ravaged by it all and experiencing heart palpitations every night. 

I finally got my disastrous home dye bleach job sorted. It’s not completely fixed as they wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t absolutely destroy my barnet, but I no longer see peoples eyes drift towards the weird banding I’d managed to create during my foolish attempt to save money. I didn’t think I’d be able to afford to get it done, and thought I would have to exist with the monstrosity on my head till it grew out.  Thanks to my local facebook group I saw that a local salon was looking for hair models for highlights, for only £25!! What a steal. I’ve always been someone who adores a bargain. I can’t resist telling people, I probably even steer conversations to give myself an opportunity to tell people about it. I guess I’m doing that here aren’t I?

Letting go of youth….

and the need to keep up with the hot young things. It’s been a relief to notice that I’ve moved into a new chapter of my life, but more importantly that I feel content with it. Now that’s not to say I’m not young, I am, if we’re talking in regards to life expectancy at least. But I guess in some of the industries I work in I would be considered one of the older ones, at least within some of the genres of content I have focused on till now. What I’m interested in has changed. The accounts I feel more in tune with are the ones that focus on the home, interior design, or very mundane, normal and every day things like walking their dog, pottering about at home, or just chit chatting about life and the world.

I used to feel frustrated that my size or age may have prevented the invites I desired at the time, but I now realise the work led/event content is not the content I love consuming the most, and others must feel the same as me, feeling more connected to the more muted cosy stuff. A lot my faves (not all) live up north or in the country and just occasionally get on a train in to London for blogger events. Although they are going on some amazing press trips that I of course would love to join them on. On the whole their content is very simple and un-showy,  just sharing their life, their likes and their thoughts. It all just feels grounded and effortless, with production values that are low fi, simple, or authentic to them . Mainly they seem to be going for meals with friends, hanging out at home and going for walks, and they come across as people I’d probably hang out with in real life. So while I will definitely go to events I genuinely want to go to, I won’t go to things for contents sake ( like I have in the past), or because I think it will lead to opportunities. I really wanna do the homely and comforting stuff now, and stay at home as much as I can. That doesn’t mean it won’t be creative.  Hopefully I wont be a complete snooze-fest. But I’m so happy to leave certain stuff to others, who will do it so much better than me because that’s where they’re at in life. There’s some great younger bloggers doing amazing content that’s cool, fun, exciting, glam, wild, party filled, but that’s not where I’m at anymore, and I’m totally cool with that. It’s ok to be here for the chill.

James Arthur.

I know it’s never ideal when a gig gets cancelled, particularly if you have a ticket for it and you’ve planned a whole trip around it. But I think it was a huge statement in terms of the music and industry and their handling of mental health issues that he posted that statement about not feeling mentally well enough to do the Teenage Cancer Trust gig. Imagine how much he probably prepped for that gig, wanted to do that gig, didn’t want to let the audience and the charity down, and yet still decided to look after his mental health. Perhaps it was so bad it wouldn’t have been physically possible to perform, so it may not have even felt like a choice he had to make, Either way, every time someone does this, particularly someone who people take notice of, it makes it a little bit more acceptable for everyone else to prioritise their mental health, and I for one was hugely grateful for this. Also side-note, his voice is absolute magic to me, it’s been a long time since I could really so clearly detect that checkered history, torture and heartbreak in a voice – his Vevo of Empty Space makes me feel wobbly with emotion. 

Amazon Prime. Not only does it allow me to shop with ease on the many days I’m festering in my own juices and unable to access shops in person (all hail the glory of internet shopping), it’s also allowed me to finally get completely obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy. I remember years ago seeing an advert on TV soundtracked by Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, and I just knew it would be right up my street. I was always an avid ER watcher – still not over what happened to Dr Green – and it looked like a slightly cheesier version with some very hot leads. But the key element is that I love shows that make me cry, don’t ask me why, but it genuinely is a big selling point for me. Maybe I’m completely messed up, or maybe I find it cathartic to get a bit facially soggy when watching TV, whatever it is I’m totally here for heartbreak and devastation. Boy has it delivered on that front, the writers are complete tear duct punishers, but it’s also an incredibly easy watch. It’s been perfect for the last few weeks where I’ve been pretty much stuck in bed, without the mental capacity for complex and twisting stories. 

I’ve really got to a place where I feel less guilty about taking care of my health. I used to push too hard to the point of it making things worse, or occasionaly choose to listen to my body but cause unneeded harm but beating myself up for doing so. I guess part of it was that I didn’t feel in a financially stable enough to justify being able to take time off. How could I let the foot off the accelerator when I had bills left unpaid? This week I’ve only left the house once and you know what, I don’t feel fomo and I definitely don’t feel guilty –  it was the right decision FOR ME, THIS WEEK. 

That leads me on to money. I’ve never wanted or needed loads. I’m not from an extravagant family. However, I’ve always had what I’ve NEEDED (rather than wanted), which is a luxury not everyone is afforded.  But as an adult it’s been tricky on this front. And if you’ve struggled to make ends meet and lived a life that feels drastically behind that of many of your friends, the mere idea of getting-by can be hugely exciting, My work has been rewarded quite well this year. In fact I’ve managed to secure work with brands I’d never thought have worked with a blogger like myself. Sure the money has been very helpful and certainly reduced money related stress that I have become some accustomed to over the last few years, but to me what has been so confidence-boosting and assuring is the interactions I’ve been having with PR’s. They haven’t been interested in knowing my DA, follower numbers, and are clearly not fussed whether I’m in the blogging go-to circle. The last few jobs have been sealed because of my feed and because I reflected the brand ethos! Yes really. And not just that, some have mentioned my age and following size a big draw for that particular campaign – things others have used to cross me off the list.  It seems more and more PR’s aren’t JUST focusing on the obvious signs of a successful collabs like sales conversions and comments under posts either,  more and more looking to work with micro-influencers who can raise brand awareness over time or create content they want to share. That’s not to say that my work wouldn’t be a lot easier with a few thousand more followers, of course it would. I’d have more options to choose from I’m sure. But it’s wonderfully affirming to know that some people are looking for other things, and more importantly things I can offer.

Being an Auntie…

My little niece Martha. It was her 1st Birthday recently and honestly just seeing her face makes my day infinitely brighter. She’s the smiliest baby you’ve ever met and already showing signs of being a brave go getter and light of many peoples lives. It’s just awesome being an Auntie. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to spoil her rotten, but also pass on some wise words (I’ve still got time to find those). 

Relief…

This year family members have received the cancer all clear and recovered from heart attacks, and while it’s not my place to share their stories online, how could I leave them out of a post of this nature.

Vegan Cheese…

Finding a good cheese spread. This sounds a trivial one, but when you are trying to maintain vegan eating habits there are of course some foods you really miss (and even dream about sometimes). I’m not going to lie, when I smell someone elses hangover Bacon sarnie it’s like a bullet to my heart. When I smell a chicken roast, I vividly remember how much I used to watch with glee as my dad would chop up the crispy skin for me and scrape it on to my plate, right next to my roast potatoes.

Luckily I was never anyone who would have a knob or slice of cheese for a snack. I only really ate cheese in melted form unless it was Boursin and we were on a camping holiday in the South of France getting eaten alive by mosquitos. But I have slightly struggled in terms of coming up with vegan friendly super quick things I can make for lunch. Happily in recent months we’ve starting buying Sheese garlic spread and a Freefrom cheese spread, which I put with the faux chicken slices Quorn do, with some cucumber slices, on toasted bread. It’s delicious and easy, and has made lunch feasible on days when cooking is completely out of the question. Sometimes it’s the little things, am I right? 

New Feet…

I’m so grateful for the guys at Woking community hospital who created my bespoke insoles. You have no idea how finally feeling comfortable on my feet has changed my days out. Putting them in my new upsized (and sustainable) Tretorn trainers has been a game changer.

This month I finally got diagnosed with EDS and POTS after over a decade of trying to get some answers, or at least ones I felt genuinely made sense of everything thats happened to my body during that duration. The quest isn’t over of course, there’s often associated conditions with these ones so there’s more pursuing to be done but it’s definitely the most progress I’ve had when it comes to my health. Of course there are some negative repercussions too, which may impact my future plans (watch my latest vid on that), but I had to acknowledge how amazing this moment is for me. Not just because I can be treated/advised appropriately moving forward (hopefully), but after years of being dismissed and doubted I finally have validation. No one can tell me I’m being lazy, or that it’s just in my mind. No one can make me feel like a terrible friend for choosing to look after myself. No one can tell me I’m not working hard enough, because I know that I always work as hard as I feel I can. I won’t let that happen anymore.

That’s just a mixed bag of a few of the things I’m feeling grateful for – some might seem silly, some very obvious. Either way it’s still been warming to take a few minutes out of my Friday to be mindful and focus on those lovely things. Even if you have to wrack your brain a bit harder some days I guarantee you’ll feel better (or even just less hopeless) by finding some beauty in the ugly. By allowing yourself time to realise that not EVERYTHING is bad or a disaster, and that there’s good stuff aplenty, even if it feels in the background due to the ferocity of the bad stuff, life can only get a little better. Go on, Give it a go. I know know it sounds too idealist and simplified, but come on, what harm can it do? See this action as a magnet, grabbing those iron filings (positives) and making them stand up clear for you to see. Have a good weekend, and know that  I’m grateful for you. 

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