You release your stress
Closely watching the kettle blow steam
You match its pace and do the same
Doing the opposite of a mental undress
As you stir your milk into your tea
Now, let the day begin on the count of three…
Recently I’ve been thinking more about the ‘science’ (for lack of a better word) behind a bad day. Is purely it psychological, triggered by a series of external events or a perhaps mixture of both? Perhaps it works sometimes more like a self-fulfilling prophecy where if you think ‘oh boy, this day is gonna be bad’, it ends up being one?
My thinking down this ‘good day’ rabbit hole got me thinking about my previous post about being a morning person. Update from that post – I’m still not one so the struggle continues (I know, very sad.) However, I have started to realise the role mornings play in really helping set the tone for the day. The time to meditate, pray and do the occasional stretch (if I’m lucky) can really be a game-changer.
Of course, it may be possible to still start your morning right and have unfortunate series of events still warp your day into an unenjoyable one but there’s not much you can do about that.
When you’re lost in the heavy fogginess of a bad day it’s easy to mentally checkout and feel like you might as well as strap yourself for a day that is going downhill. At your lowest, you develop the opposite of rose-coloured glasses and start to feel mentally that your energy and patience levels are draining away. I would say planning little pockets of joy throughout a bad day is vital. These are just small things to look forward to and keep you going. Maybe it’s ensuring you listen to your favourite podcast or playlist as you work, saying a little prayer or texting a friend you know you can rely on for a dose of humour. Often when I’m stressed or feeling quite overwhelmed when I work, I’ll blast on some guilty pleasure tunes and let them fill the room. I know I can also always rely on a few close people to fill me with encouragement if I confide in them about the struggles I’m having that day. Sometimes it’s tough love but ultimately it’s good to get a different perspective since maybe the solution to turning your day around is easier than we think.
And for those reading this struggling with this week, wondering if good days are coming/ever returning, I promise you, they are. I can’t predict when but they’re coming so hold tight!
*Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash
These days the struggle for me to stay in a book cannot be understated. I’ll read about one page typically and then think to myself ‘this is okay but how long until the next chapter?’. And having that thought x100 whilst reading a book is often what will put me off or make the book a longer read than anticipated. If the book is unlucky, it may come to a point where I have to consider if I’m enjoying the book enough to continue or would I rather ditch it for a fresh story
However, once in a while, you do come across a book and reading it is sooo easy. You slide through it as butter does on bread and I can pleasantly share, dear readers that I am currently in that moment.
You see, it was never always like this. Right up until college/sixth form, (so 17ish years old) I would say I was a typical bookworm. Always lurking around library bookshelves and Waterstones looking for the latest good read. I loved a good romance Young Adult novel but absolutely lived for a psychological thriller or sci-fi one. The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, The Hunger Games trilogy (and yes, the films aren’t as good as the books), Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman, the list really does go on. In fact, I think I may have written this review in the past during that time of my life.
But now…I remember at university trying and failing on multiple occasions to read for leisure, I think by that point my brain had resolved to reading things for studying purposes only, so reading even more for leisure wasn’t quite something it felt willing to do at the time. This doesn’t mean my love for books has ever faded. For a while after uni, I would read graphic novels, dip into poetry and read short story collections instead to ensure I was still feeding what remained of my reading habit. I still love a good bookshop haul but it does mean my purchases will inevitably take a while to get read. In fact, I think I purchased my current book a few years ago but hadn’t yet brought myself around to read it. Over the years I’ve started and paused (I use this word with the optimistic outlook I will return to them at some point) with many books which, as of writing, sit on a shelf behind me neglected and hoping for a second chance.
I can also be quite a slow reader so my bookworm friends will casually ask what book I’m reading and it will likely be the same one I was reading when I last talked with them a month before. I’ve always been embarrassed by this in the past but to be honest, it is what it is. I like to savour words and what’s happening in every scene and can’t always do that if I’m whizzing through a book at 100mph. I think this priority of the number of books you read is mainly social media driven since ‘bookfluencers’ tend to encourage reading at mass with their one-book-a-day or one-book-a-week type challenges which, for obvious reasons, I’ve never partaken in.
Anyway, rant over.
My current read is Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid and it has brought me back in reading mode and I’m living for it. I thought to myself whilst recently in the book ‘that’s the reading Hannah I know and love. I knew she was in there somewhere!’ Typically, I usually fall asleep to a Netflix drama (despite always having a book on the go at my bedside. Don’t judge me.) These days I find myself eagerly snuggling in and pushing my phone aside to reach the book and find out what’s happening next. I may or may not write a review on it but so far, I find the characters enjoyable and the exploration of privilege and race in different contexts a refreshing one.
Are you a slow reader too? What book are you currently reading? Always open to recommendations so drop them below😊
Aren’t overly positive people slightly annoying at times? Don’t get me wrong, it’s an attitude that’s mostly welcomed and has been many-a-time just what I needed to hear to motivate myself to do things or get through certain situations. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good ol’ ‘Yes we can’ Obama style speech to get us pumped up and feel ready to rule the world. However, at other times I do feel there is a level of positivity people ooze that doesn’t quite concur with the reality around them.
I remember on one random occasion saying to someone oh yeah ‘I don’t do that’ or I can’t do xxx’ and they were like ‘why not? ‘there’s no such thing as can’t’. To me, yes there is. And yes, there should be. I do admire the sentiment of the phrase but I think there can sometimes be a misunderstanding as to why someone is saying ‘I can’t do this’. I’m not saying ‘I’ll never do it’ – because. who knows I one day might! However, I’m speaking in that moment in time and acknowledging I have a gap in my ability – no I can’t do this xx CURRENTLY.
But let’s also keep in mind that just because it’s something you could in theory master or learn how to do, it doesn’t mean you should. We’re only one person with 24 hours a day and numerous responsibilities, at the end of the day. So we should pick carefully what we pour our time and energy in or give attention to.
I think being realistic and acknowledging your limitations in such a way can be empowering. I would even go as far to say not many of us do it enough. It may be a downer for some people but in all honesty that’s how you grow – you group things in different categories; primarily ‘things you can’t do’ and ‘things you can’ and then you may one day wonder, how can I tranfer this item from the ‘can’t category to the ‘can’ one?. And thus, a journey of discovery and growth begins.
*Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
It’s been a little while so it’s nice to be back. Since I last posted I’ve moved jobs, so I’ve just been adjusting to a new work setting, getting to know new people and processing bucketloads of information.
We live in a world where everything is available on demand, so it doesn’t seem too surprising that patience is a very rare trait. Get-rich-quick schemes, schemes promising to help people lose weight or gain pleasure instantly are common scams as old as time, which evolve with the times but have mainly found their success by tapping into the lack of patience people have regarding such issues. Even I’m guilty of this, I often start a new role or project and expect to pick it up in a few days. I did this at a previous job, constantly comparing myself to people at the company who had spent years honing their craft (which really makes no sense, now that I reflect on it!)
The Bible in Galatians calls patience a Fruit of the Spirit – that is, a character trait which becomes evident in a Christian as they become spiritually transformed by Christ. Patience can be easier in some circumstances than others; I’m likely to find it easier to wait 10 minutes longer for a Deliveroo order than deal for an hour with difficult personalities in a social setting, for example. However, we can start being self-aware – what things cause and stem from our impatience? Are you, putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or a situation, for example? Reflection is key, prayer is key and hopefully, together we can work towards becoming more patient people!
*Image: Photo by Osama Saeed on Unsplash
I’ve become a big fan over the recent years of picking your battles wisely. As I observe and live, I’m learning that not everything that happens to you or around you requires you to get worked up and respond all guns blazing. For some, this revelation of mine is perhaps common sense, but when you’re someone who’s sensitive and passionate/overly emotional (yes, I’m potentially describing myself) it’s easy to fall into this trap without realising.
However, making everything a personal battle quickly leads to fatigue; feelings of frustration build up and it feels like you’re banging a brick wall – not all of these ‘battles’ can be won, and in all honesty, some don’t need to be. I think it’s only insight and spiritual wisdom that will truly help us distinguish what causes we need to fight and which we need to just let pass by and pray on. So that’s my prayer for you today!
*Photo by Stillness InMotion on Unsplash
It’s funny, if not tragic, that we spent much of the first part of our lives mastering the art of speech only to become adults and pretty much become rubbish at it again. Typically, when you babble your first words, your parents stumble for the camera (or camcorder back in the day) in excitement at this developmental milestone. Then, as you get older, you realise language actually only makes one part of what is this massive jigsaw puzzle called communication. So yes, you can speak – but have you fully mastered the art of communication? Probably not.
There are a lot of things people say in ways other than speaking that we have to learn to be mindful of. I say ‘learn’ because it doesn’t always come naturally to read body language or apply emotional intelligence to a situation. These are things most of us learn over time and build like muscle. It doesn’t mean it’s easy though since body language and speech can at times conflict meaning you may have to rely on other factors to make an ultimate judgment call.
Eating your words
One significant thing that is a constant challenge, for me personally anyway, is saying how I truly feel to others. I think because when you’re hyper aware of how others feel; you worry that your words may negatively impact the people you want to share them with. And let’s be honest, the worst thing is saying words and going on to regret them. It happens way more often than it should but for those of us that like an element of control over situations – such regrets can be annoying because you can’t rewind time to take the words back, can you? Keeping everyone happy starts to feel like this weird juggling match and you can find yourself having to do the mental cost/benefits analysis of the costs of being honest (meaning you feeling happier) vs just repressing your feelings (and keeping everyone else happy.)
It’s no coincidence that there are 100s of films and dramas centered around the breakdown of communication and the problems it can cause. It’s a universal issue – sometimes you can be having a conversation with someone and what you’re saying vs what they’re hearing from you are completely different things. It’s why teaching, in my opinion, is a very underrated profession, because to make sure your instructions are heard clearly, comprehended and even remembered by students is more of an uphill battle than many would think.
Your voice is worth hearing
Being honest about your feelings sometimes is not simply a black & white situation of whether someone is a coward or not. Being able to truly lay your feelings on the table, even for people close to you, can be a challenge and this can be due to several mental blocks you may have.
You may not feel like your voice is worth hearing
Maybe you’ve expressed your views before and nothing changed which was discouraging to you
Or maybe social judgment and its repercussions leave you thinking it’s better off to not ‘kick up a fuss’.
In case you need to hear it – your voice is definitely worth hearing. Obviously, to truly get your point across sometimes you have to formulate a game plan – what is the right moment, place and method to communicate how you feel, for example? People often don’t think about such things when they want to get things off their chest but it’s definitely worth doing so. On a lot of reality TV shows I watch, they’ll often just confront someone over dinner, meaning yes, your true feelings are now on the table, but you’ve also spoiled a perfectly nice dinner – miring it with confusion and anger. That can all be avoided with a bit of simple planning.
But what about if you’re at the other end? If someone bears their all to you? Well first, of all the last thing they want is an underwhelming response. But yes, sometimes you won’t know how to appropriately react straight away so it’s worth asking them for some time to respond or just offering a listening ear, particularly if the confrontation has a personal aspect to it regarding you; i.e. ‘I don’t feel you do xx properly’ or ‘You never seem supportive of my ambitions’. Instead of jumping on the defensive (as instinctive as it may feel), a little bit of empathy can go a long way, a lot of the time it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable – so acknowledge and be appreciative of that, if anything at all.
Why not visit my new Medium blog – I’ll be using this blog to delve into more TV and film reviews, as well as explore various themes the things I’m watching cover. Would love to hear your feedback and Medium blog recommendations you have!
Why gaining confidence is not as easy or straight forward as it seems
The more I observe in this life, the more I’ve realised there is actually nothing more powerful than a confident woman. However, it does also feel like society conspires to keep women from reaching a point of peak confidence. This is because not only is it very powerful, it’s much feared.
Attending a confidence workshop at work recently, it struck me as very interesting that much of the attendees were female. Why does low-confidence seem to be quite a gendered issue, disproportionately affecting women more than men, I wondered?
Often, instead of seeing a confident woman and being in awe and admiration, instead people will judge. Where’s her humility? She’s a bit cocky ain’t she? We see this often even in female characters/ trope portrayed in the media – from Mean Girls’ Regina George, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in Devil Wears Prada to Serena and Blair in Gossip Girl. Confidence, particularly in women is often associated with bad character and, consequently, danger or misfortune. I mean, Regina George gets run down by a bus, for goodness sake!
Such quick judgements and misconceptions around female confidence make it more of minefield to navigate, which is why many women don’t try to at all. Period. After all, why be loud and confident when you could just be in the low-confidence zone, quietly mind your business and be free from the judgemental eye of others?
A cultural taboo
Speaking as someone from the UK, it’s quite deeply ingrained that talking about oneself is quite un-British. I remember writing my personal statement (university application, to non-Brits) and thinking, wow, I have to write a whole page about me and just me? Well, that’s weird. Even, many years later when I’ve found myself applying for jobs and I have to talk about how I did this and I achieved that, when in actuality it was a team effort, it’s still very weird to get used to.
It’s not even just talking about oneself that can feel quite taboo – even accepting compliments can be quite hard. Anything that draws attention to you almost has to be swatted like a fly and stopped in its tracks. If you’ll pay attention, you’ll often notice it – especially with women. You compliment someone ‘Oooo that new haircut really suits you!’, and they’ll never directly accept it. Often it will be met with a semi-self-depreciating reply like ‘Oh, my cousin cut it actually – I didn’t even go to a proper salon!’. That way, the compliment is heard but kept at bay and you can fake a sort of fake humility that people love so much.
Pushing on and through
Truthfully, I suspect, like for me, that sense of uneasiness when a moment requires confidence, never really leaves you. Originally, I thought confidence in adulthood would be more of a linear journey, and perhaps for some people it is – many influencers do talk of it as such. Over time you perhaps build confidence, maybe in similar way to how Mario collects gold coins in the original game, until you (bingo) reach a point of completion and you’re suddenly confidence royalty. However, I’ve found it’s more like ocean water – it ebbs and flows for me; there are moments where I will be full of it, and other times when I won’t. The difficulty is getting better at controlling that ebb and flow so confidence can be demonstrated at the moments it really counts but may not come naturally.
When you’re asked to lead a workshop
When you have to be honest with a toxic friend or colleague
When you have to attend a large family gathering
When you have to perform at an important function or recital
…the list really goes on!
The key to confidence
Let me not sell you dreams since I’m trying to figure that out myself! But some quick tips that might help:
1. Self- examination; what is often at the root of your low confidence? And is it something you can actively start working on? Perhaps you need to confront a friend who has been making sly digs at you and knocking your confidence. Or perhaps you need to rejiggle your timeline and start following new people on social media.
2. Bad habits – time to undo them. It’s not possible for everyone to go from 0-100 straight away when it comes to increasing confidence but we can always slide up the scale slowly by undoing one bad habit at a time. Maybe, like my previous example, you find it hard to accept compliments. If so, you can make that a point to work on.
3. Prayer – my ultimate confidence comes from God, so prayer has always been important. When the time comes to step your confidence game and you’ve done all the prep (or worrying!) that you can, a prayer can always be calming. It centres me and reminds me everything is under control.
Do you have any tips to share growing in confidence or overcoming fear?
“They say home is where your heart is set in stone
It’s where you go when you’re alone
It’s where you go to rest your bones
It’s not just where you lay your head, it’s not just where you make your bed…”
Don’t you love travelling? Particularly as many of us have spent much of the last 18 months cooped indoors, the travelling bug has been gnawing away at us as people have just patiently waited for the moment they could jump on a train or plane again. I love the sense of discovery, especially when you go somewhere new. The overwhelming of the senses – smelling and tasting unfamiliar/new foods, witnessing the indescribable beauty of nature or city architecture, watching as residents come and go; it’s really fun.
However, I do always get to a point where that willingness to explore and absorb new things is threatening to expire. For me, at that point I long to be at home – somewhere familiar and snuggly where I can properly rest and eventually slide back into my normal routine. I understand this might be a rare feeling – I see on social media and speak to people all the time who have travelled for months upon months, or even years and never gotten tired of exploration. I even talked with a friend casually after church about having this feeling and she gave me an incredulous look. At the time I thought okay maybe I am weird, but perhaps this feeling is a good thing; it does have some benefits. When travelling back from an amazing holiday it makes the transition from rest -> back to business as usual a lot easier. Of course, it doesn’t mean the grass won’t always be greener; when I’m back home, making my way through my week, I will, every now and then, definitely wish I was back in country x and y, still on holiday and getting more sun and sleep. But 80% of the time I’m happy and grateful that my journey has come full circle and that I’m back and settled.
Home Sweet Home
The Gabrielle Aplin song quoted at the start of this post is one of my faves – it highlights that there is more to the concept of home then we think. The comfort that we associate with home can typically transcends a building or the four walls of one room. Home can be an escape but is also you’re an anchor. For some reason that feeling never properly dawns on me until I’m thrust into a new environment and blindly trying to find my way around – an experience that can be both simultaneously fun but frustrating. A funny example that comes to mind was when I was trying to reunite with my friends whilst in the States, in Manhattan (New York) and instead got completely lost. The reality check of not being in the UK, where I call home and where navigation personally comes a lot easier for starters, was never stronger than in that moment.
I can’t really explain it but often when you travel to a new place there is a lot of energy that has to be spent to gain a feeling of comfort, mainly because everything around you is unfamiliar. Whether voluntarily or by force, you’ve been uprooted from all you know and have to adapt so you can navigate yourself around confidently (even if level of confidence is fairly limited.) After a period of time its therefore nice to be able to just rest and return to somewhere familiar where things are easy, flow naturally for you are and known well.
I think being cooped up in my house this last year or so, as frustrating as it has sometimes been has also helped me become more grateful for having a place of stability in such a time of upheaval and unpredictability. It’s definitely a privilege to have somewhere – or even someone you can label as ‘home’. For those that are still on the journey to finding a home- in whatever form that may be – I pray God provides it for you soon so you can finally feel settled and at peace.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about giving gifts to people. The brainstorming of the perfect gift which makes you really reflect on the person as an individual, the fine print of their personality. The hunting down of the gift. The presentation of the gift and the look of genuine joy, surprise (or both) once it finally goes from your hands to theirs. Priceless. It’s a language within itself. For me, when I give someone a gift, I want them to know – you are special or I appreciate your role in my life and all you do for me.
I remember when I was younger, I would take Christmas and birthday gifts really seriously. Each Christmas myself and my friend – both very young teens at the time – would stroll to a nearby Claire’s Accessories and buy little trinkets or random accessories for friends of ours in need of a gift that year. Hours could literally pass when buying gifts – immersed in the bright colours and lights of the store – I would be deep in thought wondering what item would be an ideal fit for each friend. Almost as if the appreciation I felt within hinged on the gift; which it really didn’t, of course.
I would get pocket money from my mum for the trip and make sure to buy surprise gifts for each family member – this has ranged from home made Christmas cards to perfume from the £1 shop. However, I did quickly get to a point where I had the realisation that there wasn’t really any point of using my parents’ hard-earned money to just go and then buy them random gifts. From then on, I long looked forward to the day where I could treat my parents to gifts, with no worries about where the cash has been coming from.
Over the years the people I buy gifts for have dramatically decreased in size. This is on the account of many factors including the fact I’m on a budget (otherwise all the world would probably get a gift lol) and that I’m quite selective with the title of ‘friend’.
Don’t get me wrong, I find gift giving rewarding and yet, there can be a political element to gift giving that can, to some extent be a bit draining if you bog yourself down in it too much. I’ll give an example.
Person A gets their friend a gift. This gift is both unexpected and quite lavish. The friend is flattered and very grateful. But simultaneously this friend, as the overthinker they are, feels a bit guilty – they definitely need to up their game and buy Person A a gift when the next opportunity comes. When they get home that day the friend googles the gift’s value to ensure they get a gift of similar measure when that time comes. Goodness, is that the price?? That’s definitely out of their budget. They must make sure they send a top-up thank you text to display their gratitude, after all that was an expensive gift .
Sound familiar? I think if anything it’s because we’ve all been there at some point but there is perhaps something to be said about the thought counting. We hear it all the time, ‘it’s the thought that counts’ but when it comes to gift giving there is no joy to be had in it if we lose sight of the ‘thought’ – the energy and careful consideration that goes into each gift given to us (or given by us!) Don’t get too bogged down in the material aspect since most of the time it’s just a symbolic gesture. For me personally – limiting who I give gifts to helps; they tend to mainly go to those I know well and I only have to give them a few times a year which means my approach can be more deliberate and tailored to the individual. Plus, it means I can afford to splurge on myself when my birthday comes; after all, we must gift ourselves from time to time too! 😉
What do you think? Do you have a certain approach or a strong preference when it comes to gift giving?
*Featured photo by Ekaterina Shevchenko on Unsplash