My Little Treasures

Sometimes life feels like too big a picture to even contemplate. The landscape of responsibilities, obligations and pressures looks like it could swallow you up in its utter vastness. So, I think it is valuable to your sanity to cut that landscape up into manageable chunks and look at it in a way which makes it less scary. Looking at the minute details can help with that, especially when you find the beauty in the smaller things. Things that look inconsequential and easy to look over at first may just serve as your saving graces.

My gratitude list of little things I am grateful for:

1) Writing in a notebook with a fountain pen
2) Lighting candles when I’m working
3) When my dog lies his head on my lap
4) The feeling of soil on my hands when I plant flowers
5) Drinking a cup of tea while sitting on the sofa
6) The luscious green of the grass and trees outside
7) The sense of serenity which fills me when I practice yoga
8) The way my dream catcher looks in the morning light
9) Breathing in my mother’s perfume

‘Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.’ – John Milton

My Bucket List

Focusing on long-term goals can make your present feel a bit brighter, like there is something to look forward to or a milestone that you are working towards. Making my bucket list gave me a real insight into who I am and what I want from life, from the smaller things to the bigger desires on my list.

  • To become a published author
  • To live abroad
  • To get a tattoo of a phoenix
  • To live in a caravan for a period of time
  • To visit Vancouver Island
  • To learn Danish
  • To be self-employed, at least for a while
  • To visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando
  • To do yoga outside as the sun sets in a foreign country
  • To lie outside as the sun rises in a foreign country
  • To do a charity swimathon
  • To adopt a greyhound
  • To hike the Appalachian Trail

Creating my bucket list has been a really fun experience. Please share in the comments what dreams you have for the future!

‘Dreams are the touchstones of our characters’ – Henry David Thoreau

10 Motivational Quotes

  1. ‘The older you get, the more fragile you understand life to be. I think that’s good motivation for getting out of bed joyfully each day.’ – Julia Roberts
  2. ‘Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.’ – Simone De Beauvoir
  3. ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’ – Mark Twain
  4. If you can dream it, you can do it.’ – Walt Disney
  5. ‘I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.’ – Florence Nightingale
  6. ‘There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.’ – Nelson Mandela
  7. Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.’ – W Clement Stone
  8. ‘Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.’ – Oprah Winfrey
  9. ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  10. ‘If you ever think of giving up, remember why you held on for so long.’ – Hayley Williams (of Paramore)

RECOVERY

QUESTION: is the idea of ‘recovery’ helpful?

I have mixed feelings about recovery. Whether it is a help or a hindrance when so many people present it as an ideal which feels distant and unattainable to people who are in the midst of any type of illness. Sometimes when people reference recovery or being recovered, it just makes me feel more lost and hopeless than I was before. However, other times it can inspire me and give me the courage to keep moving forward with the comfort that others have weathered similar storms.

What is probably most frustrating to me about the idea of recovery is that it is so vague by virtue that it is subjective and hard to pin down in what it means to each of us individually. There is no specific route or journey that will lead you straight to recovery, the same steps and challenges do not work for anyone. Recovery does not look the same for everyone either, leaving me in the strange position of never being entirely certain of what I am aiming or working towards, meaning that my motivation begins to dwindle behind my uncertain mind.

Whenever counsellors or therapists have mentioned recovery to me I have felt myself recoil into my seat. Even the word seems so intimidating and far off in the distance. Also, I find the use of the term frustrating because who has the right or the knowledge to determine exactly what recovery is, what it looks like and what the time period for recovery should be? However much I want there to be a finish line I also do not know who I am without mental illness because I have let my mental health define me for so long. How do I separate myself from the characteristics of my illnesses and how will I know when this process is complete and I have recovered?

This post is a mess of rhetorical questions and abstract thoughts but what I have learnt from it is that I need to narrow down the specifics of what I am striving towards and what progress I will be satisfied with so that I could call myself recovered. Abstract and vague goals only lead to more frustration and motivation leaving me like a deflated balloon.

“I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumped over, or a battle you won. Illness is a story told in the past tense.” – ‘Turtles All The Way Down’ by John Green

10 Quotes for Creativity

    1. “The two terrors that discourage creativity and creative living are fear of public opinion and undue reverence for one’s own consistency.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
    2. “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” – Henry David Thoreau
    3. “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
    4. “For something to be great, there has to be some kind of  trial or some type of struggle that actually makes it special or valuable to you. Otherwise, anything could be easily taken for granted.” – Hayley Williams (of Paramore)
    5. “I like the idea of not being afraid of letting your imagination rule you, to feel the freedom of expression, to let creativity be your overwhelming drive rather than other things.” – Florence Welch
    6. “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner – continuously and stubbornly bringing for the jewels that are hidden within you – is a fine art, in and of itself.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
    7. “Art is what you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol
    8. “The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” – Dan Stevens
    9. “The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense.” – Pablo Picasso
    10. “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde

5 Steps to Minimalism

Minimalism. The word can conjure intimidating thoughts of incredibly stylish people living in ultra-airy, sleek apartments or an all-or-nothing lifestyle in which you reject absolutely everything that is socially mainstream. For me, I see minimalism as an art. Also, I see minimalism as an art which can be adopted to varying degrees depending on different people’s lifestyles, interests and needs. For example, I strive to be a minimalist but I still have a book collection which spans two bookcases and a good portion of a wardrobe, even though I sincerely doubt that I will ever read many of those books again. However, I don’t believe that this fact should stop me from aligning myself with the minimalist lifestyle because it is my choice which sections of my life I adopt this art form in most.

Here are five important beginners steps towards adopting minimalism which hopefully will seem neither intimidating nor wildly unrealistic:

1. Stop viewing clothes sentimentally

This has been a great stumbling block for me in the past. I have kept clothes and shoes which I had long since grown-out of or were essentially falling apart at the seams simply because I attach particular memories to them. However, this is not a sustainable approach. If I had kept keeping every item of clothing which I linked back to wearing at a particular time in a certain memory I would have had an ever expanding collection of clothing which I would have to haul around with me for the rest of my life and devote a considerable amount of space to, even though I would never have the intention of wearing them again. Also, donating the clothes which you have grown-out of is so much more satisfying then seeing them gather dust in the long abandoned corner of your wardrobe, by giving them away to someone else you are given those items a new lease of life as well as letting someone else enjoy them much more than you were.

2. Identify all of the objects which weigh you down

This is where honesty is crucial. If you want to live a lifestyle which is spontaneous and easy to adapt to new living situations then it is easier in the long-run to pick out which items you own which just are not you anymore. This is not just limited to clothing, it corresponds to all possessions which you do not relate to or identify with anymore and which simply tie you down. It may seem difficult to discard items which you may have been gifted at Christmas a long time ago for instance but it is very likely that such objects were bought for the person you were back then and since you have developed after receiving the gift, it no longer feels personal or relevant to you anymore. Do not let objects or possessions weigh you down!

3. Which objects actually add to your quality of life?

It is a brutal fact that some possessions we have are simply overkill. The majority of us do not need or utilise all of the possessions we have yet we surround ourselves with things which are only marginally useful to us. After a while all of these unnecessary objects can get cumbersome and you will have no space to store things which actually add to your quality of life. In that case, get rid of those things which do not have a positive impact on you or actively help you live and enjoy your life.

4. Which products, if you disposed of them, would make your life simpler?

Taking the example of clothing, if I compare how long it used to take me to get dressed in the morning when I had drawers and a wardrobe overflowing with piles of garments to how long it takes me now when I have condensed my wardrobe, the time I save in the morning is invaluable. I used to agonise endlessly over what to wear, analyse what impression my clothes would give and try to work-out what others might approve of me wearing. However, I am not passionate in any way about fashion. This does not make me better or worse than other people, it’s just a fact, so I chose to simplify my life in this area. I now have a core amount of clothes which I am happy with and comfortable in and rotate them accordingly which saves me time and space, as well as lifting the burden of owning so many clothes which I did not particularly like in the first place but that other people encouraged me to buy so that I would follow trends.

5. What is clutter?

I did not realise how much clutter I owned until I really committed myself to downsizing the amount of possessions I had. I must have owned over a hundred different hairbands and hair accessories in a variety of different colours and shapes from when I had long hair but considering my hair is so short that I couldn’t even tie it up now if I wanted to, that is completely ridiculous! I had kept little toys and figurines which I bought for 50p at car boot sales when I was a kid as well as CDs and DVDs which I had no intention of ever listening to or watching again. Removing all of these superfluous possessions meant that I had room to actually breathe rather than look at my space and sigh in exasperation because it looked like it had been ransacked by a considerably erratic thief!

I’M MOVING ON…

Recently, I had become weighed down by the routine and responsibilities of life. This sounds like the most stereotypical millennial thing to say but why should that stop me? It’s true. The transition into University life has been difficult; the constant pressing down of academia on any and all of my spare time and the looming dread of deadlines and exams have been a burden. At Uni there is a constant pressure to be many people all at the same time; the ambitious person with a five-year plan, the social butterfly, the student who juggles five extra-curriculars, the party animal and the person who can survive on four hours sleep a night and powers themselves on a constant stream of the bitterest black coffee. Why do we do this to ourselves? Honestly, I have no idea. We are so caught-up in trying to copy everyone else that we forget how to be ourselves and do what we came here to do; to develop as a person.

Cynicism seems to be the most popular currency at Uni. I know that the world can be a very dark place but constantly working to seek out and analyse those dark spaces can be exhausting. I feel like in my first term I forgot to give myself a relief from all the critical arguments and debates which I felt that I had to constantly keep pace with in my classes. My course demanded that I immerse myself completely in other people’s pain or become just generally distrustful of everyone and everything in the world. That was not sustainable or healthy.

Now I have made it my mission to remind myself to actually breathe. To not weigh myself down so heavily with the cynicism of academic theory and the pressure to be a hundred people all at once. For me, I do this by looking around me and seeing what is actually happening, taking in the moment rather than constantly burying myself in articles which are telling me that the world as we know it is coming to an end or that we are falling into our inevitable doom as a species. Instead, I am focusing on issues that I am passionate about and that I can have an actual effect on, especially the environment. Living a more sustainable and eco-friendly life makes me feel productive and like I am giving energy back into the world rather than parasitically sucking it out. I am organising things that I can look forward to and enjoy, rather than scheduling work experience placements to bulk-out my CV.

I am so privileged that I can take a breath and think about what is best for me and my health. I am not having to constantly struggle to provide a living for myself or work a 9-5 job and I should take advantage of that because who knows what my life will be like in the future and what it will demand of me? For now at least, positive choices are ones which work towards bettering my mental health rather than my grades. If that means taking a path which I was not initially planning on, then so be it…