All posts by RetroSnowflakes

Hello there! ‚̧ I'm Victoria, also known as RetroSnowflakes. Welcome to my blog! I like tea, nail polish, candles and I'm learning more about the world each and every day ūüėä

Podcasts: Part One (Wellness)

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see quite regularly on my¬†stories¬†that I’m posting about podcasts. I listen to them on my daily commute, around the house when I’m cleaning or when I’m on a solo gym session or run. They play a huge role in my life and in one of my recent posts when I talk about personal development tools (which I’ll link right here) I note that podcasts are one of those tools for improving yourself.

This post is Part One of Four for my podcast series; this post will concentrate on the¬†wellbeing conversation, Part Two will focus on the more in-depth conversations of chat, Part Three will be¬†miscellaneous podcast series that don’t fit the other categories¬†and¬†Part¬†Four¬†will be hand picking some of my favourite podcast episodes.¬†

We can use podcasts for many reasons and for me; I use them to listen to those I follow online for a more in-depth conversation, to indulge my interests and lifestyle choices more and to further develop myself. 

There are many podcast applications out there both on¬†Android and Apple but for me, I use¬†Podbean¬†which I’ve been using for a few years now. It’s a really handy app that¬†facilitates¬†loads of podcasts so I can have them all in one place and it even tells me which ones I’ve played already played.¬†However, Spotify have been adding more podcasts to their platform so the ideal situation would be to move all my listening to¬†there¬†but at the minute, I do like keeping that¬†separate¬†for my music.¬†

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Her Rules Radio 

Alex’s podcast was one of the first¬†podcasts I ever¬†listened to before when it was called “The Crave Cast” so I’ve been a huge fan of Alex’s message and¬†philosophy¬†for such a long time. Her podcast is mainly focusing on wellness but she talks about a¬†range of¬†topics including self-love, cravings, sex, relationships and personal growth. What I really love about Alex’s podcast is that I can feel connected to any episode even including the episodes that wouldn’t¬†necessarily¬†fit to my lifestyle; there are episodes concentrating¬†on pregnancy¬†and others that look at money, two¬†topics¬†I¬†have thought about but not necessarily something I am¬†solely¬†looking at in my life at the minute. In terms of guests, Alex talks with authors,¬†dietitians¬†and¬†wellness experts (to name a few)¬†as well as hosting solo shows too. I love when podcasters host their own solo shows because especially if you don’t know the host, those solo shows¬†give¬†you a better insight into who they are as a person especially when they’re having to talk on their own for an extended period of time.¬†

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The Chasing Joy Podcast 

I can’t remember how I was first introduced to Georgie Morley but I have been in love with her podcasts ever since. Her podcasts are focused on¬†sharing¬†“meaningful conversations about wellness that will bring energy and joy into your life”. She covers absolutely everything from diet¬†culture, body acceptance,¬†self-awareness, creativity and manifestation; that’s naming only a¬†few¬†subjects, there are so many! No two podcasts are the same from Georgie and very much like Alex, she hosts her own solo episodes too, which adds a balance. I’d recommend Georgie’s podcast if you’re interested in a more¬†in-depth¬†look into the wellness world but you’re not sure where to start.¬†

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Kalyn’s Coffee Talk¬†

If you don’t know Kalyn Nicholson, she’s been a YouTuber for quite a number of years but more recently, she has started her own podcast which I was so excited about. Having moved away from beauty YouTubers in the last few years, Kalyn has moved from the beauty side into the wellness, spiritual and motivational side of the platform so her content is absolutely perfect for me. I was genuinely really happy to see her start a podcast because she has one of those voices that you could listen to all day (plus she’s Canadian and who doesn’t love a Canadian accent?) and even though we’re around the same age, it’s comforting knowing you are listening to someone who has been through a similar experience as you or is opening up about their struggles and how they moved through them. As I mentioned, Kalyn is new to the podcast game so she doesn’t have lots of episodes yet but some of her episodes include subjects like the truth of social media, being a beginner, putting too much pressure on yourself and learning how to trust yourself. Kalyn records her podcasts on her own but that doesn’t take away from the content that she creates, she’s a very easy listen even on her own.¬†

Minimalists(Photo Source: Minimalist Podcast)

The Minimalists Podcast 

I wasn’t too sure what category to put this podcast into because minimalism deals with every aspect of your life but I thought it fitted well within wellbeing. Ryan and Joshua host the Minimalist Podcast which started after their successful first book launch and before their first¬†feature¬†length documentary, “Minimalism” which covers all aspects of minimalism. This includes education, religion, hobbies, collections, mental balance and parenting. Again, just like Georgie’s podcast, there are so many subjects Ryan and Joshua cover that you can deep dive into any of them. I’m not a huge fan of their live podcasts; I prefer listening to a studio environment podcast but that’s personal preference for me but in those, they have much more of an audience connection¬†than they do in their regular sessions (obviously because they don’t have an audience in the studio)¬†so if that’s something that interests you, then I would check those out. Minimalism is something that seems quite scary to people and these guys do a perfect job in¬†breaking¬†down the¬†barriers¬†to helping you understand it more.¬†

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; as I mentioned at the beginning, I love podcasts but I’m always looking for new ones to listen to so if you listen to any wellness based series’ that I haven’t talked about, please let me know. New podcasts are my favourite thing to explore these days. Thank you again and have a great day!

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Headshot Photography with Jess Lowe.

Over the last few months on the blog, you might have noticed some lovely on-location¬†photographs of me pop up but I¬†haven’t¬†talked about them, until now (I was meant to write about this months ago but it completely slipped my mind). Today’s post is all about when local photographer Jess Lowe invited me on a one-to-one on location shoot in November, which ended up being my first ever photoshoot.¬†¬†

Disclaimer: Before we begin, Jess offered¬†me her “Time is Money” session at a discounted price but this, of course, doesn’t take away from¬†her work¬†and all my opinions are one hundred percent honest as always.¬†¬†

Jess Lowe.

Jess Lowe is a local photographer based in Belfast who specialises in headshots¬†and has a background in wedding photography. When it comes to headshot¬†photography, she¬†describes¬†her style as “laid back and relaxed” while using natural light to create “a fresh, modern and genuine photograph that will enhance your personal brand and make you stand out from the crowd.”

Having worked in the media industry for three and a half years and studied media for an additional¬†four years, I am very¬†familiar¬†with being both, in front of the camera and behind it. I wasn’t on screen during my college years but within my job, it’s become a regular occurrence. Presenting a children’s TV show and interviewing for our local interest programmes and nightly news programme are a small number of roles I take on but I would say I have relaxed being on camera over the years. You would think being in front of the camera for a¬†photographer¬†would be a slice of easy¬†peasy¬†pie, right?

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I was¬†incredibly¬†nervous beforehand, I’m not too sure why because I didn’t have anything to worry about but because it was a new experience so¬†first-time¬†nerves are¬†understandable. I wore one of my favourite blouses; it’s a white blouse with gorgeous red roses all across it and whenever I wear it, it really stands out and that’s what I wanted to do across the shoot. I wore a simple pair of jeans and my converse because at the time, I wanted the¬†photographs to reflect¬†my personality and my style. I’m very much a jeans and t-shirt girl but on reflection, I wish I had have¬†worn¬†heels or boots, mainly because it gives me that little self-confidence¬†boost when I do. I had had a dramatic hair cut a few days before, so it was nice to still have that “freshly cut” look but because we were outside, it wasn’t as perfect as it¬†was before¬†I left the house, so I was a little disappointed with how my hair was sitting. That was something that I couldn’t change though so I was able to let that go.

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Jess and I met up near Union Street in Belfast, on the outskirts of the¬†Cathedral¬†Quarter. If you don’t know the area, it’s quite a visual area with lots of interesting graffiti. Some would say it’s an Instagrammers dream, so if you’re ever in Belfast and looking for some creative backdrops, head for the Union Street area. To my disbelief, I hadn’t known about all this artwork in the area, despite working quite close so it was really nice to discover something new about the city.

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Jess had a really relaxed¬†approach;¬†being¬†in front of the camera is vulnerable to say the least and the last thing you want to think is that your photographer is judging you so by them having an easy going but noticeably professional manner, it helped put me at ease. She even taught me a few things about posture and how to position my head to get the perfect shot. It’s all about lifting¬†the chin, but not too far and this helps with your overall posture. It¬†definitely¬†took some getting used to but it’s a lesson I’ve taken with me¬†ever¬†since.

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We shot for half an hour and got some amazing shots around the streets and even on the roads. It was quite early on a Saturday morning so we weren’t caught up in constant traffic but there was some running onto the footpath when we¬†saw¬†a car coming¬†but that was warming me up a little, because it was a chilly day. We couldn’t change the weather circumstances (obviously!) but as long as it wasn’t raining, I didn’t mind.

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I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the experience. Speaking as someone who is almost always in control behind the camera, it was nerve wrecking but intriguing to pass that control to someone. I believe I only really have one smile so I was worried I was going to look the smile throughout each photograph but after¬†seeing¬†the results, that wasn‚Äôt the case. I’m not a fan of the “serious looking face” mainly because I have resting bitch face and I look really miserable when most of the time, I feel okay so trying to pull¬†off¬†a “serious look” never works for me.

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I want to thank Jess for reaching out and providing this experience for me. I am so happy with the results; so much so that I now use the headshots for my blog, my social media images and even on my CV. If you want to check out¬†Jess’¬†services, you can find them right here and if you want to look at her¬†portfolio, it’s right here. I couldn’t¬†recommend¬†Jess highly enough and you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

 

Why I Stepped Away From Yoga.

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Yoga is such a special journey for some people and it’s become a constant release in my life that has been there for me during the good times¬†and¬†the bad times. Today I’m talking about how I feel about the practice at the minute, why I stepped away and how I’m slowly incorporating it back into my life again.

Monday nights were yoga nights for me. I went almost religiously for a few years, I then took a few months break and then I suddenly went back for a few months every Monday evening. I practiced in a studio that was a twenty second walk away from work so it was easy for me to get changed in work and head straight there. I have a blog post about Monday Syndrome and while I didn’t dread Monday’s too much, it was nice knowing I had something to look forward to that evening.

My mental¬†health¬†had slowly started to slip again at the beginning of the year but I continued to practice but the more my mental process slipped, the less I enjoyed the class. Yoga is about so many more elements than the body, and¬†physically, I was connected. I could move with the teacher and the rest of the class without too many slip¬†ups¬†and considering where I started a few years ago, I¬†had made amazing progress. However, I was too stuck in my own head and it was hard letting go for an hour when I couldn’t hear anything apart from my own thoughts. I often¬†described¬†it as being stuck in a box and having every negative thought and anything bad someone has ever said to you, being with you inside this box. You can’t escape it and the noise gets louder.

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I was no longer getting the true benefits of yoga and I had to make a decision. Did I continue paying for a class that through the fault of no-one, I was struggling to enjoy or did I take a break from the practice until I got my¬†headspace¬†back in check? For a while, I made the decision to slow down my practice from once a week to once a month with a special class that my teacher had set up focusing on learning more about the teachings of yoga. I fell in love with the concept but my mind still wouldn’t shut off.

From practicing¬†once¬†a week to once a month was a difficult change because while I’m not religious, it was something I done that felt very similar to a religious teaching,¬†but I thought it might help me emotionally connect again and I really tried hard for a few months. I loved changing my routine because it meant jumping on the bus on a Sunday afternoon, picking up a tea at¬†one¬†of my favourite coffee shops and then having a short walk to the community centre where the class took place. I loved that it was on a Sunday afternoon because I liked starting fresh for the new work week. My headspace was very much the same for these classes and I struggled to focus on anything in the class, to the point where I couldn’t hear the silence during relaxation. I felt like I could hear my own thoughts and again, they were too loud.

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Comparision is a funny thing, isn’t it? I follow some wonderful yoga teachers online and I love watching their videos talking about their classes, their own journey or how they have combated their mental health journey with a yoga practice and I feel jealous. I’m jealous that I had to step back from yoga because my head wasn’t right but yoga works for them to correct their¬†headspace. I almost question what is wrong with me but I know that everyone goes through their own journey with mental health but sometimes you can’t help but¬†wonder, what is¬†it about me? Am I doing something wrong? I try and not look at other people in that light because I know you shouldn’t compare your chapter one to someone’s¬†chapter¬†twenty. We¬†all¬†go through different¬†points¬†in our own lives and to compare yourself to others, it won’t even give you that little piece of relief you’re looking for. We’re all guilty of it but it’s learning more about self-awareness that will help you not go down that route so often.

Right now, my mental health isn’t on the right track but that’s something that I know the reasons behind and it’s going to take some time for me to become stronger again. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to yoga; I went to a yoga workshop last month with the co-founder of my yoga organisation I have been practicing with since the beginning of my journey and while I didn’t feel like I was “completely there” in the workshop, I feel connected¬†to a¬†certain extent and I was more than happy with that. More recently, I went to a kundalini yoga workshop at a studio closer to home and while I had never experienced that type of class, it was an interesting concept and I would be open to trying it out again. Like the other class, sometimes I wasn’t¬†completely¬†connected but I was for the majority of the time, so mentally, I am getting there, even if it is at a slower rate than I would like.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post, it was another personal one for me and I quite like sharing these ones. I¬†don’t share¬†every single detail on why I feel the way I do but that’s a decision that I am more comfortable with. I hope it was an enjoyable read and if you were able to relate to it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Michaela Pontiki

I’m back this week with another interview¬†facilitated¬†by¬†FPComms¬†with the wonderful Michaela Pontiki as part of my Entrepreneurs and Mental Health series. If you missed my interview last week with Latoya Lovell, I’ll link it right here.¬†

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(Photo Credit: Mi Business Mag)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far?‚ÄĮ

I am Michaela Pontiki, the founder of Arapina bakery. I am an architect with a Masters in sustainable design and having worked in both industries, I decided to start my own business in the food & beverage sector.

Can you tell me the philosophy behind “Arapina“?‚ÄĮ

We are an award winning Healthy Lifestyle Bakery, based on Mediterranean cooking, offering free from and low in options to a sophisticated clientele. We are here to offer food to those who suffer from various intolerances and or have physical or mental diseases. We believe that food can be your medicine.

There is so much information out there, especially online, about food. Do you think that there is too much information that people are overwhelmed when it comes to making the right food choices, especially if they are being told conflicting information?‚ÄĮ

Definitely, companies are fighting for their own reputation and companies get it wrong a lot of the times, especially in¬†today’s¬†world when masses can be easily influenced by TV commercials and social medias platforms. And they get it wrong because they either don‚Äôt have the right information themselves or purposefully manipulating concepts for the sake of their personal profit. Either way is unacceptable and one should cross referenced sources of information that is readily available out there.

We talk a lot about super foods but‚ÄĮunfortunately,‚ÄĮwe know that if people are overwhelmed, the benefits of certain foods may not be important because they may not know what information to trust.‚ÄĮSo,‚ÄĮI want to know two of your‚ÄĮfavourite‚ÄĮmeals that not only have the nutritional benefits that your mind and body‚ÄĮlove but are a joy for you to make too?‚ÄĮ

I don’t have much time in my hands so I need to be creative and seek easiness with my meals. So quick breakfast is natural greek yogurt, with organic blueberries, raw almonds, honey and cinnamon. Second best is almost any type of grilled fish with a vegetable ratatouille next to it.

Why should entrepreneurs be thinking more about the food they eat? I know that I’m guilty of saying “Oh I don’t have time to eat, I’m too busy” and I’m not even an‚ÄĮentrepreneur. Talk to us about the remarkable impact food can have on our minds as well as our bodies.‚ÄĮ

Imagine you own a fast car, but every time you try to speed up, the car does not accelerate to the level you want it to simply because the fuel you are putting to it is of poor quality. It is exactly the same with¬†ones¬†body. You want to ‚Äúrun‚ÄĚ, physically and mentally but you probably¬†can’t¬†simply because you have not taken care your body and mind. One cannot fulfil their full potential with an underperforming fuel which in this case is food.

What do you think of the “busy” excuse? Is there such a thing? By saying this, are we not making ourselves a priority?‚ÄĮ

It is a fact that we live in a society that keeps us busy and activated, so in a way yes, we are busy, but I would say that it is more of a matter of priorities, and that applies on many aspects of our lives. When we fail to call our friends, spend time with our family or not properly plan our meals, it simply means that this task is not high up on our priority list, because I am sure the same person would find the time to watch the new series on Netflix if this is what he/she would value more. So it is a matter of changing your mentality to change your priorities to help your body.

I can only imagine the pressure that you are under having your own business, do you think that that is something quite a lot of‚ÄĮentrepreneurs‚ÄĮstruggle with?‚ÄĮ

There are different types of businesses, businesses with different demands as well as businesses with different starting points. If we had to generalize business is not easy and yes, the pressures are high when running one.

For you, what is the difference between being stressed‚ÄĮwhile starting your own business and your‚ÄĮmental‚ÄĮhealth‚ÄĮslipping?‚ÄĮ

Stress can be activating or stress can be destabilizing. It really depends on the space you allow stress to occupy in your life, the grade of stress you are suffering from and the way you approach stress itself. Sometimes it is a fine line between stress and mental health slipping.

If someone is finding it hard balancing their‚ÄĮmental‚ÄĮhealth‚ÄĮwhile running their own business, what tips would you give them? What do you do when you are in their situation?‚ÄĮ

Quit business, life is more important.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so?‚ÄĮ

Follow us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and keep an eye for podcasts and more interviews. If you are lacking this physical contact as most of us are in today’s world, come down to the bakery and ask for Michaela (by appointment only).

Again, a massive thank you to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview and to the wonderful Michaela for taking time out of her day to answer my questions. I also got sent the most gorgeous chocolate covered almonds and bergamot preserve from the Arapina Bakery, so thank you so much for the treats!

 

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Latoya Lovell

As a society, it’s very clear we are talking more about mental health which for me, I couldn’t be happier about. With May being known as¬†Mental¬†Health Awareness Month,¬†FPComms¬†got in¬†touch¬†with me to see if I wanted to interview two entrepreneurs who champion the topic of mental health. Over the next two Sunday’s, I’ll be posting two interviews I conducted with two entrepreneurs. First up is Latoya Lovell!¬†

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If you’re not¬†familiar¬†with Latoya, she is an influencer, a soon-to-be¬†novelist¬†and a freelance writer from London. She has a new book coming out towards the end of 2019 which uses her experiences of her depression to bring her¬†villain¬†characters to life. She¬†tells¬†us¬†where you can find her on social media at the end of the interview so I hope you enjoy!

(Disclaimer: As a warning before reading on, depression is one of the topics discussed and there could be a number of triggering words for some, so please take caution before reading.)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far?¬†

I started doing interviews for a magazine called We Are Collision and after realising how much I liked media working for them, I decided to master the Media Industry.

I believe you went through a stage of depression, in as much detail or as little as you would like, can you tell us about this? What’s your story with depression?

After a few years of working in the media industry I started to feel like I was letting people down when things went wrong. I was in a bad situationship with a male friend and when we stopped talking to me, he said it was because I disappointed him. At the time I never realised it was a trigger word for myself but it made me feel like I was disappointing everyone. I convinced myself I was going to disappoint my son and so I decided he would be better off without me. I wanted to complete suicide and I went and got my hair done and wrote a letter to him and sent messages to everyone saying goodbye. I left the salon and when I arrived home, my friend was sitting on my stairs waiting on me. She collected my son from school and looked after me for several days. We identified what I wanted to do over those several days and it also made me realise my triggers.

After this experience, you started to write your own series of books. Now, I know that they aren’t released yet but can you give us a sneak peek on what the first one is about and an insight into some of the characters?¬†

The book is based upon myself and my 2 best friends. We are a diverse bunch and I wanted to highlight how 3 different women from different cultural backgrounds still loved and embraced each other. How women empower each other but I decided to make us 16 with superpowers. I realized by showing the lead characters as how me and my friends look I could show younger girls that being natural is fine.

Did you find it healing writing about these experiences or did you find that initially it was hard having to look back to the battle you were fighting at that time?  

I actually used the book to write about how I wish my life had progressed with certain situations. Like I never spoke to my Biological Father before he passed but in the first chapter, there is a letter to myself from him. I guess it’s what I would’ve liked him to say to me but now I realise that even that isn’t needed because I am ok.

Social media plays a large part in many of our lives now, how much do you choose to share online? Do you share the positive and the negative, or do you still struggle (like many of us) to find that correct balance? 

Before I was someone who only wanted to highlight the positive because I believe in focusing on solutions. However, recently I have decided to show the negative but how I follow through to my solutions in hopes that people may use tools I am suggesting and it will help them live a better life mentally.

What do you do as a form of self-care when you start to notice that your mental health isn’t as balanced as you would like?¬†

First, I look at my environment and whether I am allowing the wrong people or putting myself into the wrong situations and I withdraw. As someone who likes to please sometimes, it is hard to say no but my mental health has to come first.

I have also learned how to do things alone like go to restaurants or the cinema things I would never have done before because I cared too much that people would judge me.

Lastly, I do activities that I know will release endorphins like exercise or eating chocolate because sometimes the little things really help.

How important has it been for you to be open and honest about your mental health with your children?  

My son now understands that I am human too and I make mistakes. However, in my household I say it’s like a job so he still understands that there are certain behaviours that are still not acceptable to a boss. I also try and show him that it is not an excuse, it is something to survive from and grow from. Mental Health will only stop us if we allow it.

For a parent or guardian who is currently experiencing their own mental health problem at the minute or have come out the other side, what advice would you have for them in order to be able to be open with their own children? 

To be honest, we give children a false perception of an adult and then when they go into the real world, sometimes they are not prepared. I try to make sure my son knows what the world is really like because otherwise he could fall into the trap I fell into and feel not good enough.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

@LatoyaLovl on all the socials and www.latoyalovell.co.uk

Thank you so much to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview with the lovely Latoya and thank you again to Latoya Lovell for taking the time out of her day to answer my questions.

Meditation May: A Month of Meditation

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With the start of a¬†brand-new¬†month (Yes, I’m very much into that clich√©) I wanted to set myself a challenge outside my¬†three-month¬†goals (which I will link here) and I thought a daily practice with meditation would be perfect so that’s what today’s post is focused on.¬†

Meditation was a¬†daily¬†practice for me for quite a few months but as my mental health¬†deteriorated, I no longer reached for my¬†guided¬†meditations and this also included my yoga practice. I went to a yoga class religiously on Monday evenings after work and it was fantastic then gradually I started to only practice once a month. The fact of the matter is when my head gets in a bad place, I’m so stuck in my own head that I can no longer feel the benefits of yoga. When I describe this feeling to people, I often describe I¬†like this:¬†¬†

Imagine you¬†are on a hamster wheel going¬†round¬†and round but at the same time, you’re stuck in a box that you can’t get out of. Every¬†negative thought and every negative thing that has ever been said to you is in the box and you can’t get out, you have to stand there. (If you’ve ever watched the Crystal Maze, imagine all the paper money in the dome that the contestants have to catch, are the thoughts and the words.)

Unsurprisingly it’s a very hard trap to get out of so I had to step back from yoga especially¬†until¬†I get my head and mindset back on track. I’m getting there but¬†it’s¬†still off track sometimes.¬†Gradually¬†over the last few days I have been getting into evening meditations again but I want to take it one step further and give myself that boost to do it daily so that’s where Meditation May comes from.¬†

Back in January, one of my¬†favourite¬†bloggers Madison started up a meditation challenge on her YouTube¬†channel and Facebook group and it was so comforting to have a support group there who you could open up to about your meditation difficulties. I really enjoyed that challenge and while I didn’t¬†manage¬†to meditate every single day, I got very close. This is¬†another¬†part of my inspiration behind Meditation May because I¬†noticed¬†a massive difference in January with Madison’s challenge.¬†

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My plan for the¬†month¬†is very simple; I want to practice meditation for ten minutes a day every day and for the first two weeks I’m not going to push myself to practice¬†twice¬†a day, I’ll build that up over time. I’m¬†planning¬†on keeping a journal on the experience to note down what meditation I use, how long for, how I feel¬†before¬†and after and if there is a particular emotion I’m trying to work alongside. At the end of the month, I’ll be posting¬†those¬†journal¬†entries¬†to see how much of a difference it really made and how the month went overall.¬†

Over the month, I’ll be posting on my Instagram and my Twitter too and I’ll be using #MeditationMay¬†as the hashtag. I’m sure I’m not the only one to be¬†practicing¬†this¬†idea¬†so I’m not claiming it as mine but if you fancy seeing some “live” progress, you know where I’ll be. With the Spring Clean season around too,¬†I’m hoping that this will help me along the “fresh mindset” element of the new Spring time.¬†

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. Quite a light one today but it’s always good to start the month off nice and light.¬†

My Unconventional Relationship With Reading.

snapseed-01.jpeg(Lunchtime reading in the office includes fruit with peanut butter and a big cup of tea)

As I grow older and start to think about having children down the line, it’s really important to me to read them bedtime stories and to try and carve reading into their daily lives outside the classroom. For me, I’m not an avid reader but I wish I was. I started to notice a few years ago that there was a problem with the way I read, books specifically so that’s what today’s blog post is focused on.¬†

I wasn’t an avid reader when I was younger. I grew up in the generation that fell in love with Harry Potter when it was first released but I only started to read Philosopher’s Stone years later. After that, I only read a chapter or two of Chamber of Secrets and then I stopped. As someone who watched younger children around me read these books, I felt embarrassed that I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t understand the language the author used and I didn’t understand the true meaning of some of the words. I couldn’t keep up with the storylines and the characters, it was too complex for me. This was the same as the Lord of the Rings books too.¬†

My¬†favourite¬†book series at that time were the “Goosebumps” books by R.L. Stine which I still own to this day. My brother went to the United States when he was younger and he brought back the American covers and I promised myself I would never throw them out or give them away because they were always books that I loved to read over and over again. My first¬†memory¬†of¬†trying¬†to “write my first book” (suffice to say, this never came to anything), it was something that I wanted to turn into a Goosebumps story.¬†¬†

Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors because she wrote stories that every little girl of that age could relate to. They were so easy to read too, I felt like I could understand every scenario and it was comforting. 

IMG_20170706_131717_073-01.jpeg(Before I started using a re-usable cup for out-of-the-office tea)

It was a few years ago that I started to¬†realise¬†that something wasn’t right. I would read books but forget what they were about. I would have to go back a chapter each time I picked up the book, even if I had read it the day before. I had no real sense of what had happened and I can’t remember the last time it didn’t happen. I thought it was a silly problem to have and maybe this was a sign that I wasn’t meant to be a reader. A person that isn’t meant to read? Yes, I thought it was a ridiculous statement too which is why I didn’t lean on it for comfort.¬†I looked at how I was reading and¬†analysed¬†it to see if there was anything I could do to help myself.¬†

I didn’t read¬†out loud.

I read inside because I assumed that was how everyone read material. The only time I had to read out loud was in school when your teacher called on you to read part of the class book, and back then, I was generally a fast reader. I sped through each sentence and before I knew it, I was finished. So naturally, I would speed through a book and I was finished; onto the next one. It was another tick off one of my many lists, but what exactly did I gain from that? 

If I didn’t understand a word, I’d make up another pronunciation or¬†I would¬†skip over it entirely.

I still sometimes have a hard time with words that I can’t pronounce and it’s very embarrassing. I remember one time in college when we were doing a voice over for a class and everything was going perfectly until one of my sentences came up. When one of our team was editing it on top of the video, you could clearly tell it wasn’t the same word that was in the script, and because it was in class, I wanted to ground to swallow me up. When I’m on my own reading, if I can’t pronounce a word or say it wrong then I either glance over it or I mumble something, and I don’t go back to it.¬†

With those two points in mind, I had to change the way I read which when you say it out loud, it does sound very strange. For me, as silly as it may sound, it was embarrassing and I knew that I was going to be the only one who was going to be able to change it. Now when I read a book (if I’m in my house on my own) I read out loud and because you’re using more energy to do that, it means I become very tired, very fast. Tiredness when reading had always been an issue for me no matter what age I was but when I started reading out loud, it soon became apparent how tired I would get.¬†

Reading out loud means that I have to say every single word and I become very aware if I say something wrong or I don’t know how to¬†pronounce¬†a word. It means I can’t skip over it and I try my best with it. There have¬†been many points where I have had to re-read a sentence five or six times in order for me to continue. Eventually in your reading session, you get to grips with the rhythm and you tend not to make many mistakes. However, as soon as tiredness hits me and I can’t read a sentence without a mistake, then I know it’s time to set it down for a while.¬†

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(My current reading material: The War For Late Night by Bill Carter)

At the¬†beginning¬†of the year, I¬†signed up to a subscription to Audible, and if you don’t know what that is (although most people will have¬†heard¬†of¬†it)¬†It’s¬†an¬†audio book¬†subscription¬†service by¬†Amazon¬†where you get one credit a month and you can¬†download¬†almost any book in an¬†audible¬†form. I’ve heard of Audible for quite a few years but in my¬†head,¬†I was¬†reluctant¬†to sign up to it because I thought listening to an¬†audio¬†book was seen as “cheating”. If you didn’t physically read the book, did it count?¬†Ridiculous¬†I know but that was my mentality at the time. However, having¬†listened to¬†quite a few books since signing up, I couldn’t recommend it more. In my latest post about personal development (which I will link here) I spoke about listening to podcasts but I also took the time to listen to audio books on my way to work too. I will be doing a follow up post on the audio¬†books¬†I have listened to so far¬†very¬†soon and I haven’t loved all the ones I chose, so I’ll explain that in more depth soon.¬†

For someone that found it very hard to read more than one chapter of a book, audio books have been a life changing discovery and I now longer feel like I am cheating by listening to the words rather than reading them.  

I’ve come to terms with how I read now and I continue to read my best with it. I’m not very fast and it will take me a considerable time to read a book but it’s more important to me that I am more connected to a book because of the disconnect I felt before

Thank you so much for reading today’s post. I know it was a¬†very¬†different post to others I have posted about but it’s something I¬†wanted¬†to write about because I searched online and I couldn’t¬†find¬†anyone else who had had the same experience as me.¬†So,¬†if I can comfort one other person and let them know that it’s not as silly as it sounds, then I’ll be over the moon. Enjoy the rest of your day!¬†