Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Costa Rica

Loving life (and having my hair chewed by SOTW pup Mellow)

I'm back! OK, I've been back in the country a while - but hey, I'm back to Limbo! As you'll know if you read my last post, I recently went to Costa Rica for two weeks to do a photography and yoga course and... it. Was. Awesome. Every now and then I just get a hankering for an adventure, and this was certainly that.

When I arrived after my very long journey (13 hours, plane change in Madrid, yawn) the first thing I noticed was the smell. The country smelled.... lush. I don't know how else to describe it. It smelt luscious, green and basically how mother earth should smell. It was also very humid, which I welcomed wth open (/sweaty) arms after the cold drizzly weather at home.

I arrived at the school at about 6pm. I was greeted with a coconut to drink, had a quick tour of the school and was shown to my room. I felt so jet-lagged that I was dizzy and genuinely thought my room was swaying, so decided it was probably best to head to bed. Of course then there was the loudest, most intense thunder storm in the world, but I still managed to sleep for a good 12 hours. 

My days at the School of The World went like this: Wake up, shower, eat cereal/breakfast bar, go to photography class, wander around town, find lunch/iced coffee/fruit smoothie, go to photography field trip, take a shitload of photos of incredible things, come back to the room/hang out by the pool, go to yoga, get bitten by all the mozzies, shower again, go out for dinner, drink rum at Swell surf bar, get bitten by some more mozzies, sleep.

It was a routine I quickly adapted to. I also got one free weekend while there and am pleased to say I took full advantage. On Saturday I tagged along with some students to do a canopy zipline tour, so basically was zooming around the rainforest at a great height thinking 'I might die but this is AWESOME'. On Sunday a few of us woke up after 2.5 hours sleep (...that was a fun night!) to visit Manuel Antonio national park. We explored, made friends with naughty monkeys and racoons and swam in the sea - perfection.

Highlights: Listening to Carlos talk about art / The sunset at Playa Blanca / Stepping well and truly out of my comfort zone on the canopy zipline tour / Dinners at the Greenroom / Iced caramel macchiatos / Lunches at the Soda / Seeing parts of Costa Rica you wouldn't normally see on photography trips / Doing my first headstand in yoga (for 10 seconds) / Dancing after too many mojitos / Almost being robbed by a racoon / Thanksgiving with new friends.

I won't lie and say it was all perfect - felt a little like an outsider at the school during the first week. I'm a self-confessed introvert, so chatting to strangers (especially in the big groups we were often in) was difficult. And yeah, during the first couple of days I did wonder whether or not I made the right decision to do this - but as is almost always the case with things like that, it got better. I got to know people gradually in more one-to-one style interactions and by the second week I felt truly at home. 

I would definitely recommend going to School of the World - the staff, the accommodation, atmosphere - all of it was perfect. And the country is just stunning. I can only hope to return one day and see more :) Until then, I'll just look at these pictures...











Friday, 13 November 2015

mindful


Before I went away to Thailand a few years ago my sister gave me some sage advice for when I was out there:

"Every now and then just stop. Take a breath. Look at where you are. Take in the moment and enjoy it."

And I did. When I look back a few moments come to mind that are firmly locked in my memory. One of those moments wasn't even particularly special - we were in the back of a bus on our way to the Tiger Temple, and I stopped, looked around at the scenery and thought to myself 'holy shit, I'm in frickin Thailand!!' and I just felt a huge wave of happiness.

This Sunday I fly out to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks to do yoga, learn how to take better pictures and explore a new country. While I'm out there I'm going to make sure I do this, take in every moment and be mindful as often as possible.

I'm a big believer in the concept of mindfulness in general. Allow me to put on my 'work' hat for a minute... many studies have found mindfulness to be an effective tool for stress, anxiety and depression. 

I've downloaded several apps to try and get in the habit of mindfulness meditation, and while I have never managed to build a habit, I get the gist and use it when I'm feeling anxious or apprehensive.

And the thing is, I will feel apprehensive before I travel. I hate the process of travelling. I know I will be fine when I get to where I'm going, but flying alone, changing planes at Madrid and rocking up to an unfamiliar country where I know no one is a little scary to me. 

So I want to be mindful at this point too. Instead of getting lost in 'what if' thoughts about the future ('what if I get lost and miss my connecting flight?' 'what if no one arrives to pick me up at the airport?') I will take everything one step at a time and focus on the present. I will enjoy having time to read/listen to podcasts on the plane. I will focus on my feelings of excitement. I will breathe and I will be OK.

Then I'll get there, see the sunshine and be mindful again because, holy shit - I'm in frickin Costa Rica!!!!

I won't be blogging while I'm out there, but I will definitely post a picture-heavy blog when I get back... until then, here's to living in the moment :) 

Saturday, 17 October 2015

intuition


When it comes to making decisions, do you listen to your heart or your head? I propose you ignore both and check in with your gut instead. This is where (I think) your intuition lives. 

It's that niggling feeling tugging at you saying, 'something isn't right.' And after you ignore it, it becomes that sinking feeling in the depths of your stomach, shouting at you, exasperated, saying 'seriously dude - WTF?'. 

I've experienced both and even though I've become far better at recognising these sensations as my intuition, I still find myself ignoring them... especially when it comes to relationships and dating. It's only natural. There are a million arguments racing around in your head, ready and waiting to talk you out of listening to your gut. You rationalise (head) or you get caught up in the emotional power of it all (heart). 

For me, I tend to do both. I rationalise a lot. I make excuses and say, 'maybe if I do this differently, it'll work' or 'maybe if we just give it time, things will be better'. I also get blinded by the intimacy, because, let's face it - it's really nice to have that intimacy with someone when you're dating them. You share a part of yourself and make yourself vulnerable. It can be hard to throw that away just because your intuition is poking at you from within.

But the more I've grown (and dated) the more importance I place on these feelings. They haven't steered me wrong yet, in love or my work life. So if you're unsure about something, a relationship, a friendship, a job - whatever - I implore you to take a step back and check in with your gut feeling. Don't think about it with words and questions - just feel.

 A quick Google of 'how to listen to your intuition' came up with the following tips:

Do something creative
Meditate
Journal about it
Ask yourself the question and answer with the first thing that pops into your head

The thing is... it's one thing listening to these feelings and giving yourself a pat on the back saying 'Ahh yeah, nice one intuition - I hear ya', it's an entirely different thing actually acting on it. That takes courage. Hell, it takes 'guts'. And that's the thing I still need to do a little work on.  

Friday, 18 September 2015

30 things to (not) do before 30



In just under six months I will be turning 30, an age which has become quite the milestone for many. There seems (in my opinion) to be a common thought that rattles around the heads of those about to turn 30...

Shouldn't I have my shit together by now?

Apologies to any readers who do, in fact, have their shit together - this post isn't for you (oh and congrats). I suspect it is this thought that's responsible for those '30 things to do before turning 30' lists people make. Like a bucket list of things you want to do/achieve before turning 30 (even though, hopefully, you won't be dying at 30).

In my younger days I would have been SO up for doing this. I loved a checklist. As I've gotten older however, I've come to kind of hate them. I still love lists and setting the odd goal, but the idea of having to complete a checklist before a certain age makes me cringe a little. 

I see self-improvement as an ongoing thing and something I want to take my time with. I also don't like the fact that a lot of the things on those '30 before 30' lists are to do with society's expectations - 'have a baby', 'buy a house' etc.

I just think they put a bit too much pressure on you to reach a 'criteria'. So instead, I thought I'd write up a list of things I won't be doing before I turn 30 (take that society!). Some I've come up with myself, some have come from other people's lists and websites. Here goes nothing (ha, literally):

30 things to not do before 30

1. Buy a house - I've covered this in a recent post, but yeah I can't buy a house now. I do however love my rented flat! It's pretty and feels like home to me :)

2. Get married - I think it may be considered a bit forward if I propose to the guy I've been seeing for a month. Even more forward to demand a wedding in five months... Nah, better leave that one. 

3. Have a baby - Even if I got pregnant like, now, that isn't physically possible. Besides, there's no room for a baby in the flat.

4. Run a marathon - I will happily support my friends who are planning to run marathons (go Mike and Em!) but I will be doing so on the sidelines, probably with a slice of cake. 

5. Run anything - Yeah, I don't like running.

6. Become fluent in another language - Habla un poco Espanol, is that not good enough? (that spanish is probably wrong)

7. Climb a mountain - Those guys on the trailer for 'Everest' look like they had a bad time.

8. Go blonde - My hair is bronde (blonde-y brown) and I get all pale and ghost-like whenever I try to go too dark or light. How very boring.  

9. Lose 10lbs - If I did this I would probably lose my butt and boobs. And I quite like my butt and boobs.

10. Write a book - I know, I know, I'm a "writer" shouldn't I want to write a book? Maybe one day. A very short one. Online. Like a blog! Oh wait... 

11. Travel the world - There's a whole lot of world out there bruh, why the rush?

12. Skydive - I don't really like being on planes, let alone jumping out of them.

13. Do a bungee jump - If I need an adrenaline rush I'll look at how much student debt I have left to pay, thanks. 

14. Pull an all-nighter - I can barley make it through a Saturday without a nap, let alone drink/dance till dawn.

15. Get a new job - No, shan't. I like my job thanks *smugface*.

16. Learn to paint - I have a colouring book for adults and a pack of colouring pencils... I'm set.

17. Get a(nother) tattoo - I have enough ink for the time being thanks, I'm sure I'll get more after 30 though *cough* sleeve *cough*.

18. Learn how to knit/crochet - Umm, I have nothing clever to say about this one. I'm just lazy.

19. Get a piercing - Been there, done that and I have the scarring to prove it. Don't need any more scar tissue thanks. 

20. Start a business - It just sounds like a LOT of effort.

21. Invent something - Again.... effort.

22. Fire a gun - This was actually on someone's list. I hope I don't need to write an explanation as to why I won't be doing that.

23. Troll a celebrity - Again, legitimately on a list I found online, Internet you suck. 

24. Live abroad - I would never rule this out for the future, but alas I don't think it will happen this side of 30.   

25. Be a fashion victim - Another odd one I found on someone's list. Their justification was that after 30 you are basically too old to wear clothes that are deemed 'fashionable'. I say wear whatever the hell you like. 

26. Make a million - I would have to do some very questionable/illegal things to make that much money that quickly.

27. 'Find yourself' - Thankfully I have this wonderful contraption called a 'mirror' which I can use whenever I lose myself - hey, there I am! *waves*

28. Get Botox - I don't judge anyone who goes down this route, it's just not for me. I like moving my face.

29. Break a world record - Unless it's for 'most sarcastic 30 before 30 list in the world'.

30. Make a list of 40 things to do before 40 - I won't need to. I'll definitely have my shit together by then, right?  

What will you not be doing before 30?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

new chapter



This weekend I packed my life up into boxes and moved out of my family home. The move has been a long time coming (to say the least) and I am so excited for this new chapter. It's strange, I think the universe got the memo about my move as other areas of my life are changing too. It's as if everything's shifting up a gear.

So, although I am surrounded by boxes and feeling a little stressed - I am also deliriously happy. So far this new chapter is looking pretty damn sweet. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

a note on love



There's a girl sitting in a coffee shop, drinking a latte and reading a book. She does this every Saturday at 11am, hoping he'll come back. He (let's call him Josh, she likes that name) is her soul mate... he just doesn't know it yet.

She met him three weeks ago. OK, met might be the wrong word. She was waiting for her sister to finish work and pretending she was at ease sitting alone in the coffee shop. She played on her phone and fidgeted in her seat like an impatient child - why couldn't she just relax? Then Josh walked in. He was her type and he smiled at her. She smiled back. As he walked away with his grande Americano, he looked her way again and said, "have a good day." she blushed and said "thanks, you too".

Since then she had written their love story in her head. He would come back to the coffee shop, see her sitting there reading his (probably) favourite book and feel compelled to say something. He wouldn't know why, but he would have the feeling he had met her somewhere before. They would talk, she would charm him with her quick wit and self-deprecation and he would say "we should do this again sometime". She would say "Il'd like that" and they would exchange numbers.

They would then start dating. Every date would cement their future as they felt more alive than they ever had before. They would go back to the coffee shop every year on their anniversary, smiling at the serendipity of their meeting.

She could see it so clearly. 

Looking down at her watch she realised it was 2pm. Josh was nowhere to be seen and she had to go meet her sister. Another week would have to pass by without her soul mate. She sighed heavily and left the coffee shop.

********************************************

How often have you done this? Dreamt up a romantic scenario about someone you don't know? Or perhaps you do know them, but not very well. Do you fantasise that they have all the same tastes as you, that you love the same films, the same music and have the same outlook on life? I used to do it a lot at university. I fell in love on a weekly basis. 

There was this one guy who looked a little like Alex Zane and while we never said a single word to each other, we caught each others eye a lot. Then there was the friend from my course who I didn't know I liked until it was too late - I would imagine us meeting years later and me telling him I was sorry for being a pretentious bitch. Hell, I still think about the date I 'rain checked' on now when I see pictures of him looking happy with his girlfriend.  

I think at university I struggled with being alone. Probably more than I realised at the time. I think that's why I would lose myself in these scenarios, it was my way of coping with being lonely. After uni I wasn't single for long. And after that relationship I only had three months of being alone before I got into my next relationship. So I think now is the longest time I've been single since I was at university.

And I'm realising that while I am certainly more comfortable being alone now, I still have a pretty active imagination when it comes to love. A quote that always comes to mind when I catch myself in these daydreams is:

"Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the slightest bit of attention?" - Joel, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind.

It resonates.... which, I'll admit, is slightly depressing. But I'm working on it. I'm trying not to let my mind become overrun with 'what if's' about the past. I'm trying not to think about an alternate timeline where I made a different decision, and we lived happily ever after. I'm trying not to dream up scenarios about the people throwing me compliments like scraps of food to a dog. I'm trying not to over-think situations and create drama in my head, because - quite frankly, it's exhausting. 

I'm sitting with myself and trying to let that be enough. Because it should be.

I'll end on another quote on love,

"We accept the love we think we deserve." Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Now this quote is supposed to be about how people fall into bad relationships because they don't believe they deserve real love. What's ironic is that I didn't think I deserved my last love. I didn't think I was worthy of it for a long time. And even though it didn't work out between us in the end, it taught me that there is hope and that I do deserve it. There are good people out there, and I don't have to dream them up in my head.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

adventures


I met someone recently who was re-training to be a 'wealth advisor'. I mentioned to him that I was planning to rent somewhere with my friend and that I was currently living with my parents. He told me I should stay put, save more money and then buy a house. Inside I sighed and thought 'oh please FUCK OFF', but I smiled politely and explained why I didn't want to do that. 

The closer you get to 30, the more and more people/society put expectations on you, especially when it comes to money. You should be investing in property. You should be earning X amount per year by now. You should be driving this kind of car..... etc.

I think I'm actually very fortunate in the way I was brought up. Money was never part of the conversation. I was never taught that I needed money to be happy or successful even. And I thank my parents for that. Money has never been a motivator for me. Sure it's nice, and life is a lot easier when you have some - but I value happiness over money every time. And that's why, when I do spend it, I spend it on experiences.

At the beginning of the year I said I wanted this year to be one of discovery - and to me, a big part of that means travel. So I was so thrilled when my friend invited me along with her, her fiance and nine of their friends on a weekend trip to Budapest.

We went last weekend, and I think it's safe to say it was the most I have laughed all year. The city is beautiful, the food is delicious (if not a lil' calorie-laden) and the bars are INSANE. There were six different nationalities in our group and it was fascinating to hear everyone's stories.

 It reminded me what a big, beautiful planet we have here, and you can't put a price on that.


So, to summarise - no, I won't be buying a house anytime soon. I will one day (when I can afford it) but until then, I'm going to get excited about my new rented flat, I'm going to spend my money on adventures and I'm going to have zero regrets.

How do you spend your money?

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