Girls with Grit

“Young Girls”

Too thin, too fat, it’s a matter of fact;
that we are pressuring girls to be exactly that.
Having them believe it’s the materials they own,
that define their souls on this earth alone.

Their role models now, half naked, not clothed;
encouraging competition based on the size of their homes.
Young girls, young girls, there is no need to rush.
Stop worrying about applying make up on the school bus.

Why are we not encouraging them to read books and be free;
explore the outdoors, not the pictures on screens.
Why are we not bringing up girls with grit.
Instead we are teaching them to gossip and bitch.

Low self esteem because of image and weight;
taught to judge others, envy and hate.

Must they wax or shave? Rebel or behave? Sexualise themselves for attention and praise?

It’s time to teach them that their worlds online are fake.
To connect with the universe so it can create their fate.
Teach them courage, bravery and of the earths vibrations.
Not to coward away and seek validation.

Dear my 15 year old self, stop worrying about everyone else.
Girls stop worrying about a little bit of mud, turn off the TV and stop chasing love.
Follow your heart, the world is not what it seems;
not if you keep looking at it through your phone screens.

You are not too thin, you are not too fat;
it is indeed just a matter of fact.
That if we keep up this pressure on our next generation,
how will they know how to appreciate natural admiration.

Let them breath in fresh air not fumes;
stop the toxic words of the medias views.
My advice to you girls, go be amongst the lakes and the trees.
They won’t judge you; just like they didn’t judge me. image

Wanderlust – Up North

Ocean like lakes, pine tree forests and a sunset that runs a deeper red than the bottom of my heart.

I never knew these beauties could all exist together in one place, let alone in Northern Michigan. Sure, as a 24 year old London town daydreamer, Australia, Thailand and the South coast of Italy were all on my bucket list but I had never even heard of the Great Lakes let alone wanted to visit them, at least not until an unexpected job opportunity arose back in the summer of 2012.

I was yet to find a place that offered a relaxed lifestyle but endless adventure, nature interspersed with such creativity, scorching hot summer days but cosy breezy nights, yet there I was, about to make the transition into that exact lifestyle without even knowing it. Although Traverse City is a hugely popular vacation hotspot for wealthy affluent Chicago town families during the summer, you are more likely to find yourself immersed in the spectacular scenery alongside the chilled, adventurous and free spirited locals instead.

If you have a pretty laid-back and sociable personality like myself, you’ll know London is way too fast paced and self centred for those kind of people. I never knew paddle boarding during your lunch break was even a thing or that walking through town bare feet could be considered socially acceptable. It didn’t take long for all the new age, bare bricked walled coffee shops to become my favourite hang out. I mean, I had coffee and wifi at home but what I didn’t have was matcha flavoured vegan gelato or like minded groups of people asking if I wanted to play pictionary with them.

The food is fast and cheap but flavoursome and fresh. From Thai to gourmet burgers, restaurants to street food trucks. It’s every young travellers dream. I spent several happily contented solo days in my hammock on the bay of Lake Michigan reading my book and made life-long memories barbecuing on the beach with friends, I experienced both the thrill of tubing on the lake and the peacefulness of whiling away some much needed free time trying to figure out what tattoo I’d get to remember this awesome place.

Being the hot headed, stubborn and overprotective taurus that I am, the calming night skies and soft illuminating moon always brings out the patient, stable and devoted side of me. The element of the earth grounds me and I have never before felt so settled and established like I did on Northern Michigan soil. The unpolluted night sky twinkles almost as brightly as the sun kissed lakes surface during the day. The shooting stars grant you countless wishes and the combination of cool winds and warm campfires settle all of your senses and prepare you for an unruffled sleep. Why book yourself into a 5 star hotel when you can book yourself into a 5 billion star hotel?

Traverse City was just the beginning, the adventures in Northern Michigan were endless. The National Parks and smaller lakes are voted some of the best in the world. And as for their cherries; well, you’ll just have to go and try those out for yourself. It isn’t the Cherry Capital of the world for nothing you know.

Live to Give – The Next Generation

Childhood vs Adulthood. Memories vs Ambitions. Past vs Future. Years spent wishing your youth away in hope of a life of recklessness and freedom. Then years spent wishing for a rewind button in hope you can return to the days of, well…..recklessness and freedom.

I wished so much of my childhood and adolescent years away. I also had many of those years taken away from me. Part of me wanted to grow up, part of me had to. I have so many great memories from my childhood and for those I am truly grateful. However I have many memories of fear, anxiety, anger and resentment towards adults who I felt let me down. I’d describe myself as a confident, happy, outgoing, high achieving perfectionist. And those things I am. But peel away my outer layers and I’m an insecure, angry, introverted, failing eaton mess. Sure, I’m being hard on myself but those things I am too.

Theres nothing worst than feeling lost and unfulfilled. As a child or as an adult. At 24 I have already experienced several identity crisis’. A pan of boiling water will harden the egg yet soften the potato. It’s not the circumstance but the substance, throughout my life I’ve been both. But now I’ve began my path of self discovery. What am I made of? What is my purpose of being?

Be the adult you always needed as a child. Finally I’ve figured it out. Live to give and give to live. It’s that simple. I need to be the role model I always wish I had. I’ve soon come to realise that its not actually the substance but the circumstance. ‘When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.’ Nothing could ever take away the pain I hold onto from my childhood but my soul is healed by being around children, respecting and teaching this Earths future generation. I spend my day teaching up to 100 students, my evenings nannying a family of 5 little girls and my every breathing moment loving my two stepsons. Am I crazy? Yes. Would I change it? No.

As a step mum I am truly not trying to be something I’m not. The love between a mother and her child is unbreakable, it’s a magical bond that I have nothing but admiration and respect for. I can however be a friend, a supporter, a shoulder to cry on, a punch bag to release to, another heart to receive love from and a extra hand to hold. Growing up I always struggled with my step parents. I could never understand or respect why they could love my parents but not us too. As an adult there is no excuse for selfishness over a childs’ needs. We know better. Children are not a belonging, they are not property. They are a nourishing soul, a sponge of knowledge and emotion. I don’t find anything hard about putting a childs’ needs before my own, as parents, as teachers, as role models you put your issues aside and the childrens’ needs first.

Teaching compassion is a job you teach by example, not by preaching words. Boundaries invite respect, vulnerability builds the bridge to connection, truth examples honesty and weakness is the birthplace of courage. We are not here to judge how others do so but to support why they do so. Before teaching, child support work opened my heart to a strength in children and their parents I had never known before. Nothing rewarding comes easy but nothing easy is rewarding.

To me, the most precious jewels you could ever wear around your neck, are the arms of a child. My purpose in life is easy, it’s to love the future of this planet. Its’ Earth and its’ people.

Let them discover who they are before the World tells them who they should be. Every child is just one caring adult away from being a success story.

A girl journeying to the moon.

 

To have and to hold – one day or forever?

What is it we are all dreaming of? A marriage or a wedding? A life or just one day? We live in a world that wants the good without the evil, the rewards without the hard work and the highs without the lows. We are missing the point. You cannot love in fear of heart break, you cannot win without putting up a fight, you cannot live in fear of mistrust. I’ve come to realise that it’s not about meeting ‘the one’ who will be there when you reach the top, it’s about meeting ‘the one’ who will stay when you hit rock bottom.

Society has created many pressures and expectations on our cultures today. Social media has made it somewhat acceptable to air our dirty laundry in public but really requires us to display our show-reels as opposed to our out-takes. The grass isn’t always greener, we need to stop wanting what we don’t have and start appreciating what’s in our lives and not in the tabloids. I try not to broadcast every high, just as I try not to broadcast every low. I’m trying to live. I’m not trying to convince the world I have a life.

Recently however, I’ve been caught up in the evil web of bridezillas. When my fiancé and I spoke about marriage we agreed to elope, no rings and to exchange our vowels privately and intimately amongst the woods and the trees. We engaged just the two of us underneath a blanket of twinkling stars and to the sound of a fires spirit crackling in the fresh coastal ocean wind. We dreamt of how we’ll travel the world and of the days when we are old and grey, but the reality soon changed.

With the announcement came hard opinions and influences. An unexpected ring became an engagement party, which soon became an overwhelming amount of presents. The bridal party got bigger and bigger and before we knew it we were planning a huge wedding in Santorini and even considering a tv show. REWIND. None of that sounds small, intimate, earthy or low key. We were caught up in the glitz and the glamour, the wedding function poachers with pound signs in their eyes and all the wedding do’s and don’ts. The big day, the white dress and pleasing our guests became our priority. I thought I had signed up to a life time of marriage, through sickness and in health. Not a £10,000 showdown for Facebook.

When I think of my future I envision the day I give birth, giving my husband and our family a new life. I imagine pain and bravery and a hero to hold my hand. I think about my depression and the days I’ll want to stay in bed with the lights off and the curtains closed. I remind myself of the support I will need to give him even when I’m finding it tough. I smile though; because I know we’ll never stop laughing, we’ll never give up. That the less we have, the more we’ll give. And the more we give, the less we’ll need.

To have and to hold means ‘to possess for life’ not ‘for the day.’ I’ve soon come to realise that I need to do what’s true to my heart. I can’t even say I’m sorry that so many people won’t be invited, that no one will be fed and that we won’t be ordering 100 personalised favours. I want to marry the man I love. I want to hold his hand, look into his eyes and promise him I will always love him. I could be wearing a black bag, he could be in a black bag, all of our guests could be wearing black bags and it wouldn’t make our day any less special.

We are not planning on buying cut roses; we are planning on planting them knowing that we’ll still be around to watch them blossom.

So make sure that before you plan your ‘big day’, you plan your ‘big life’ first.

A girl journeying to the moon.

Bucket List or ‘F*ck it’ List

Bucket List or ‘F*ck it’ List

Life should be about doing what you want, when you want, how you want. Sadly the reality is we do what is expected of us, when required of us, in a way that is suggested to us. I’ve had notebooks for as long as I can remember full of bucket lists, wish lists and life plans. Some would say I was an individual who most certainly lived in fear of failure when the truth is I was in fear of living.

Living in the future filled me with anxiety, living with regrets from my past trapped me in cycles of depression. Living in the moment makes me feel alive. I learnt to exchange bucket lists with ‘f*ck it who cares’ lists and to do lists with ‘to done’ lists. My experiences become surprises and my actions became spontaneous.

Every new year I’d quote “that was my hardest year yet” until I came to realise, life is just hard in general. Nothing gets easier in time, we get stronger. I thought bucket lists filled my soul with hope and achievement, turns out all it did was create restlessness, expectations and pressures. Why do it to ourselves? Why dismiss everything we have achieved with a cross through the middle and highlight what we haven’t achieved by underlining it with bright colours.

How my bucket list of deluded socially conformed reality became my ‘f*ck it’ list of living in the present:

  1. BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN AND DONT GET MARRIED UNTIL IM 30 – Hilarious. Oh how God must have laughed. We don’t choose when we fall in love, we don’t know when fate will allow us to meet our soulmate, we don’t choose when we’re ready. We accept the love we feel we deserve. So if you’re in a good place right now, who knows whats around the corner?
  2. ALWAYS HAVE SAVINGS – Cleary when I wrote this I still lived at home with my parents with no financial cares in the world. When will we all realise we are merely specs of star dust from the Universe lent to this Earth for a short period of time expressing itself in human form. We can’t take our money with us but we can take our memories.
  3. MAKE LOTS OF FRIENDS AND BE LIKE BY EVERYONE – Okay, so this was never on a bucket list but it was something always on my mind. I’m a people pleaser. Well I was until I realised people pleasing made me miserable and that the friends who loved me for who I am are the only ones who matter. I stopped caring what others thought of me, I stopped trying to be what people expected and I became the open minded, free spirit I always hoped I’d be.
  4. TRAVEL THE WORLD – I will never stop travelling the world. I will never ‘finish’ travelling the world. Growing up each summer I was fortunate enough to see some beautiful parts of the world with my family, I then caught the travel bug at 14 when I travelled to Germany and spent two weeks on a British Army Royal Veterinary Corps base. Since then I’ve volunteered within a Zulu tribe and game reserve in South Africa, I’ve visited as many European Cities as I’ve had time too, sailed the Scottish shores, worked and lived in Northern America, camped in the Canadian wilderness, visited friends in Australia and been on some very spectacular holidays abroad and in the UK with my fiancé and children. Each trip has been at a different phase of my life with different people. Some I’ve known for years and others I literally met at the airport. I have so much more to experience but no bucket list will be telling me where I’m going next, only the wind.
  5. FIND HAPPINESS –  Happiness is an emotion. It’s not a destination. Life isn’t even a destination, it’s a journey. I find happiness in each and every day I wake up, sometimes its the smallest things but thats all I need.

 

Do what is right for you, not what is expected. An opinion is a belief, personal view or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. We all perceive life differently, so follow your own perception. Your own heart. You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want to make a change. So go find all those bucket lists and burn them. Create a ‘f*ck it and live for the now’ list. Elkhart Tolle believes most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then we miss our whole lives, which is never not now. That was a revelation for me; to realise that your life is only ever right now. So f*ck it.

 

A girl not living but journeying to the moon.

Life is a Library – we are always changing.

Life is a Library – we are always changing.

Life is a library. We are not one subject, we are not one topic and we are more than just one chapter. Life isn’t just about the beginning and the end, it’s about all the in-between. The moon changes it’s phases, a snake sheds it’s skin and still yet this earth keeps turning. We are not who we were last year, we are not who we were last month, we are not who we were yesterday nor are we who we were five minutes ago. Change is scary, but change is important. There is no shame in change.

I’ve realised recently that guilt and shame are common emotions of my past actions, past behaviours and past choices, but the question is, does a past really define who we are today or does it merely sculpt us into who we are in this present moment. If I’m not feeling shameful or guilty for what I am doing right now, then I’m doing something right; right?

At this present moment in my life I am extremely happy, I am mindfully well and have an extremely positive outlook on life. This hasn’t always been the case though. In the past I have struggled with anger management, self inflicted emotional abuse, social anxiety and resentments. The struggle I find myself battling now is identity crisis; who am I? Am I truly who I am now or is the real me who I was then frantically treading water hoping not to sink back to old ways. I try not to be too hard on myself because life is imperfect, imperfections are flaws and flaws are to be accepted.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura 1977) suggests our attitudes are learned through imitation and modelling. We are influenced by our parents, our social circles and the culture we live amongst. This would mean change isn’t possible if our environment cannot be changed. Part of me strongly believes in this. A catalyst in my life was when I went travelling. I took off from my negative, stressful, urban lifestyle and exchanged it all for a positive, peaceful and rural living. It worked, I could finally reflect on my life from the outside looking in, instead of criticising it from the inside looking out. Unmedicated and extremely mentally ill at the time it’s the exact change I needed to get well and become a better version of myself. A journey from there was no doubt without it’s ups and downs but four years later, I’ve never looked back.

When things take a turn for the worst in life it’s very easy to lay the blame elsewhere. My parents are to blame, my school was to blame, my job at the time is to blame, my ex boyfriend was to blame but the reality is we didn’t accept the situation. We weren’t living we were existing. What will be will be and what was, well was. Taking on Carl Rogers humanistic approach of optimistic views of human beings, I do believe there is the capability of self actualisation in all of us. The penny dropped for me when I realised I needed an environment that offered genuineness, acceptance and empathy. If I didn’t have it where I was, it was time to journey and go and find it.

I always imagined my journey to be thousands of miles, across different countries and terrane. Physical mountains needed to be climbed because the mental mountain in my head couldn’t be. I was stuck on the same chapter over and over again. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Which by the way is the definition of insanity. Turns out my new environment that would allow me to change and to grow was just four minutes up the road with a man and two boys who I had no idea at the time were to become my husband and children. Like a lotus in muddy waters, I still grew.

I haven’t reached self actualisation just yet, but Im working on it. Im closer than I’ve ever been and the furthest away I’ll ever be. Change isn’t easy nor is it quick, but it is achievable. Anything is when you put your mind to it. Socrates once said “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Life is a library. Everything is borrowed, but you get to keep all the memories.

 

A girl not living but journeying to the moon.