The Most Honest Post You’ll Ever Read…

I woke up this morning and knew it was time. I felt it in the pit of my stomach as I brushed my teeth, the niggling voices in my head before I’d even finished my wee; I couldn’t ignore them any longer.

It was time to clean the house.

As I pulled out my last pair of pants, I realised the quick wipe around the sink with loo roll after a hot steamy shower, was no longer sufficient (yes I’m THAT girl). Nor could I ignore the lack of clothes in my cupboards, or the dust around the skirting boards (they were always that dark murky colour, weren’t they?)

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I loathe housework. But since I now financially rely solely on my wonderful fiancé, I decided that I would make sure to ‘earn my keep’ as it were. I would clean, do the food shop, do all the washing and washing up, and sometimes cook. If I feel like it I might even hoover! I will not be dusting. I don’t know why, but there is no sense of fulfilment from dusting.

To feel motivated to do anything, I want to feel at least satisfied afterwards! If I cook, I want to eat the meal, when I make the bed, I can get into crisp clean sheets after a shower. The effort somewhat redeems itself right? Not with dusting. So I’ll just leave that to the Mr. It’s not like I’m an actual housewife!

And don’t get me started on ironing! I never iron, ANYTHING, and as far as I am aware no one has ever thought I looked like a crumpled up tissue. I’d appreciate those who have a love for this inane practice (ahem ahem you know who you are) would enlighten me as to the point? One car journey, or even a mere gust of wind, and all your hard work is undone. And those who iron underwear… breathe Dani. Before I met my better-half, I didn’t own an iron, and I would use my hair straighteners if anything did look a little creased (usually last minute before a night out), or hang up clothes in the bathroom while taking a long hot steaming shower….hang on, there’s a pattern here.

But I have a general gripe with housecleaning anyway. When undertaking a new challenge or even when just completing a small task, I feel I am moving in a direction, be it forwards or sidewards, or even backwards – I’m still moving! When I write a post or an article, it’s an accomplishment and I feel satisfied that I have completed something that will improve my life in some way. Something I am proud of. I’m not sure how many I would write if I had to do the same ones over and over again. It would feel pointless and exasperating!

When I am cleaning, I know in a few weeks time I will be having to do the same thing, in exactly the same way, all, over, again. There is no increased experience or new insight (although learning that Cillit Bang may be used for more than shining up old pennies may be considered a breakthrough).

It might sound haughty, but if soon-to-be-hubby and I ever have enough disposable income, a cleaner will be the first thing I will invest in. And I’m in no way ashamed of saying so! In fact I’m going to save this article in the Design Your Life section; that’s how strongly I feel about it.

At the end of the day I have more important things to do…like…um…you know, actually living!

Image courtesy of Varandah at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Do You Ever Feel Ashamed Of Your Emotions?

I find this time of year really hard. Every January I tell myself I’ll not succumb to it, but somehow I always do. They call it S.A.D. – how apt! A lack of sunlight apparently. Days on end I just get this sudden overwhelming feeling of depression and a want to hide away and hibernate. I want to stay in my PJs, eat crap food and let the TV do its job of distracting me from the way I am feeling. Simple tasks feel like pressure I can’t seem to handle, like washing up or getting the food shop.

I haven’t been out of the house in 3 days. I guess that’s part of the problem, but I can’t face it. I’ve got as far as putting on my coat and shoes, and opening the door. Then the cold hits me like a slap in the face and a retreat like a wounded animal back into the comforting arms of the warm house.

I know this will pass because it always does, but the shame of feeling like this remains and only pushes me further into isolation.

Every year when spring comes I get this sudden pang of realisation that I’m not a miserable c** after all! I’m actually a normal, happy and positive person who can achieve anything she wants when she puts her mind to it! Not only that but this year will be one of the most wonderful of my life with me becoming Mrs Jackson in July and embarking on a 3 month travel excursion around the World. I suppose that’s what make this feeling even more shameful. By anyone’s standards I am a very lucky person with an incredibly exciting and fulfilling future. I know that. I’m not blind to my good fortune.

But that’s the worst thing about it – there is absolutely no reason for me to be feeling this way, and that can lead to feeling unworthy of all the good that’s in my life.

Trying to ‘pull yourself together’ at times like this, and for anyone who knows how it feels, is completely pointless. In fact it puts more pressure on you. Sometimes you have to remember that it’s ok to not feel amazing 100% of the time. Accepting our emotions rather than fighting them is, I believe, key in overcoming emotional struggles. Feeling oversensitive? So what! Unhappy at the moment, let yourself wallow for a few days until you naturally recover. Don’t apologise for not being perfect.

When you over exercise or are recovering from a cold, it is acceptable to take some time to heal. Why is it different with emotional or mental stumbles?

Bearing in mind I’m not speaking about mental illness that requires medication. That’s a different kettle of fish entirely and one I luckily don’t have to deal with anymore.

Hopefully this hasn’t come across as another downer (ah there I go again worried about what others think of me. Darn it). I guess sometimes my posts will come across as a bit negative. But if they weren’t, then I wouldn’t be portraying a real person, one that hasn’t figured it all out yet either.

Happy Monday all 🙂

Vlog Diary Entry #2 – Becoming Self-Employed. Where To Start?

A much better effort from the first video! My vow is to give an authentic and real experience into myself and my journey so I don’t re-shoot my vlogs, so please bear with me while I get this thing sussed!

For more detailed information on the things mentioned in this vlog, please go to the Design Your Life section of my site.

How To Start Working From Home

When I made the decision to not return to conventional employment, but instead start a journey of living my soul purpose, the question of ‘Where do I start?’ was extremely prevalent in my mind, and actually the night before my first Monday, I didn’t sleep.

I often find that the best way to get motivated when feeling overwhelmed is to start with something practical. For me, 99% of the time, this will result in a snowball effect; as in once I start something, everything else seems more manageable. It’s that feeling of accomplishment (such as dragging up a book case twice my weight up the stairs on my own…woops) that increases your confidence to maybe try that other thing you’ve been thinking about.

If you try and do just one thing every day, even if it seems insignificant to the ultimate objective, in 3 months you will be over 90 tasks closer to the desired end result!

So, in my first week as officially ‘unemployed’, I kept it simple and focused on practical preparation:

  1. Create a work space/home office
  2. Meditate daily
  3. Make lists
  4. Build a routine
  5. Take one day at a time!
1. HOME OFFICe/Work Space

Whether you are planning on working full time or part-time at home, it is important to have a space in which to work that is separate from the rest of your house. We have a small spare room that I used as my dressing room, and decided this would be a prefect place to start my awesome new life! I turned my dressing table into a desk, cleared all my make-up and products away (great opportunity to throw away that hair volumising, sparkling, root lifting thing you never use), and looked up on Google the best way to feng shui a work space at home. Now I don’t know if I totally believe in the powers of feng shui, but it couldn’t hurt! I needed everything to be on my side, even potential energy flows! I found a site on Feng Shui Office Space and proceeded to arrange my office according to ‘the rules’. Here is a pic of my new desk space!

Feng Shui Office

I have changed the stool for one of the dining room chairs for back support, but all in all I was happy with not having to spend any money in getting my set up (plus you can just about see in the right hand corner that I’ve still got a bit of a dressing room – win!)

2. MEDITATE

One of the things I started practicing 6 months ago was meditation. I was sceptical, of course, but I think if you haven’t got anything to lose, then surely it’s worth a go. Plus articles such as How Meditation Can Benefit The Brain, as featured on Lifehacker, (I was especially intrigued by the anxiety aspect), persuaded me it was something I couldn’t afford not to try! I initially started with just 5 minutes every morning – I believed I didn’t have time for any more being that my love affair with my bed was so strong! Yet even that small amount (and I didn’t do it every day) made such a big difference I started making more and more time for it. If I couldn’t sleep at night I would YouTube binaural meditation.

My anxiety became noticeably less severe as I learned to let go of destructive emotions, and I started having faith in myself, in my instincts. I truly believe without meditation I would not have had the courage to do what I am doing now.

I like doing guided meditations as there is literally one for everything you could think of, be it for depression, insecurity, anger, stress and so on. This guided Meditation For Clarity, Guidance & Inspiration on YouTube, is a favourite and one I go back to at least once a week as I always find the answers I need afterwards. I find that meditating has given me a great sense of who I am, who I want to be and where I should be heading. It was therefore important to me to set up a space in my office for me to sit and meditate. Here’s pic of my space…a spare king sized duvet folded over 3 times and a sarong over the top is surprisingly comfy!

Meditation Spot

There is definitely not only one way to meditate. I tried a few, and different situations call for different methods. For me even walking in the beautiful countryside brings similar results, so if you do want to give it a go, don’t put loads of pressure on yourself. You will find the best way for you. But I do challenge everyone to truly give it a go for 2 weeks. After all, what have you got to lose?

3. MAKE LISTS

I keep mentioning how I get overwhelmed easily, and one of the things that helps alleviate this is to make a list of everything I need to do. It is almost like I take the stress out of my head and tip it onto the paper. And I will list EVERYTHING, including ‘buy food for smoothies’ (an actual entry on yesterday’s list). Because the more I list, the more I can cross off! And the more I cross off the more I’m tricking my brain into thinking I have achieved LOADS, and that in turn gives me a sense of accomplishment which helps to motivate me. See how it can positively snowball from just a few simple routines?

4. BUILD A ROUTINE

I would say that to have a routine will make a huge difference between success and ‘failure’ (hate that word but I really don’t think ‘misfiring’ or ‘abortion’ are a suitable alternatives – thanks anyway mac thesaurus!). I get up every morning at the same time as my fiancé for when he goes off to work. I get dressed, brush my teeth, I make myself a cup of coffee, a smoothie or some other breakfast (if I’m hungry, which often I’m not until mid-day), I then go to my office to do a meditation and then I am at work. And it’s funny how much I don’t feel like I’m in the same house. When I go to make a cup of tea, the living room and kitchen feel really different and I actually love being in my office! It’s for this reason that it is so important to make your work space a pleasant place to be.

If you don’t have somewhere separate to do your work (it doesn’t have to be a separate room), you muddle home and work life and it can lead to being unproductive through sheer distraction.

I must confess, I do find it difficult to switch off. I wouldn’t trade my situation, but when I used to work for someone else, 5 o’clock would come and I’d be firmly in ‘home mode’, ready to think about anything BUT work. Now I can’t stop looking at my emails, my Facebook page, replying to people, watching if Facebook is messing up my views simply because I won’t pay for advertising… Because it’s something I love, am passionate about and am more anxious to be successful at than anything else I’ve ever done, because I am bleeding out my heart and soul onto these pages, it’s hard to stop. Because ultimately, this is me, not a job. What you are reading and seeing isn’t what I do. It’s who I am. And you can’t switch that off.

One chapter in my book covers ‘How To Wind Down’, but it’s one of those things where I really need to practice what I preach. At this point all I can say is do as I say not as a do!

5. TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME

As human beings, living in a world where everything is instantaneous, we put a great deal of pressure on ourselves to achieve things quickly, else we see ourselves as being unsuccessful in our efforts. We often give up before having really tried because it either seems too hard or too unrealistic. A great way of not letting the fear of failure get the better of you is by taking things day at a time. To do this, try not to look at your goal in it’s entirety in terms of EVERYTHING you have to achieve to get your dream come true. It’s the journey that counts, remember. While it is important to think about what your ultimate goal is, especially through visualisation (more on that on a different post), if you look at the every single task that needs doing, you’ll invariably either scare yourself off, miss all the little things that create your success and a feeling of  fulfilment, or both. If you are able to concentrate simply on small manageable ‘bite-size’ pieces (remember those GCSE books!) you’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.

I stripped my first week down to the above points. Easily achievable and not too scary!

By the end of my first week, not only had I completed all the tasks on my list, I had nearly written the first half of my first book…the one I never thought I’d write!

Had I set myself the task of writing a book at the beginning of the week, I would never have got out of bed on the Monday morning…

Lastly remember that success isn’t linear. You will have good days/weeks/months and you will had bad ones. Just because you aren’t achieving something every single day or aren’t hitting targets week on week, doesn’t mean you aren’t successful or won’t be in the future. Give yourself a break; the world won’t stop simply because you take a day or two for yourself. Remember all you have achieved, don’t focus on all you haven’t, and never forget to appreciate the things you have already accomplished, both on a personal and professional level.

It’s All In My Head

I have said I will always try to be honest with you. That means the bad as well as the good right? Well today the anxiety has got the better of me.

I’ve been researching other people like me, looking at other blogs, and the fear has risen like bile in my throat. The walls are closing in and I can’t breathe. A combination of overwhelming pressure that I always seems to put on myself, and Facebook not even publishing my WordPress posts on my fans newsfeeds (it’s sooo disheartening when you’ve worked so hard on an article for no one to even being able to see it!), it’s just feeling a bit like an uphill struggle. I can’t do this… what am I thinking? I am no one.

I know this isn’t reality, I know the anxious mind has just taken over in a moment of vulnerability. So maybe it’s time to put down the laptop for the day and take care of myself for an afternoon. To not think. To just let things be. To let go. The World and my blog will still be here tomorrow.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back to being the high spirited and happy person you all know and love before long.

Dani xx

Healthy Body = Healthy(er) Mind. Smoothie Recipe.

One big game changer in terms of my mental health, was when I started looking after my body. I was always slim as a child but when I was 15 I was put on the pill due to severe acne, and I put on a lot of weight. It was put down to just ‘becoming a woman’ (as the pill doesn’t actually make you gain weight…yeh ok), but already suffering with anxiety at this point, it wasn’t hard to turn my anger and hatred on to my body when it started changing. It didn’t look like these images in the magazines, so that to me it was just something else that didn’t make me ‘normal’. My weight didn’t regulate until I came off the pill when I was 21 (funny that!) but before that I literally tried everything to lose the weight I’d gained, even resorting to throwing up after I ate for a couple of years.

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Fear Of Failure

Sometimes my fear of failure is so big that I feel my whole body shutting down on me, almost in a way to protect itself. It isn’t even necessarily fear of my dreams not working out. It’s that I’ll self-sabotage myself and make the wrong decision. I so often wish I could fast forward 6 months and see the outcomes of my decisions, just to have some peace of mind that what I’m doing is the right thing.

This got me thinking about failure and why it is we as human beings are so afraid of it. I once read about how we bring this fear into adulthood from learning it as children. Good grades and good outcomes in every aspect of a child’s life are always praised and encouraged. And so they should, but are we inadvertently teaching our children that anything but success isn’t valuable. Doesn’t with failure itself also come experience, modesty, compassion and a chance to be better?

So what do we define has having failed? I just looked up the word failure in the dictionary on my mac (to see if there was another word for it so I don’t keep repeating the same word!) and it states failure to be ‘a lack of success’. That kind of took my breath away a little, but I understand a dictionary’s need to be literal! But surely all failed outcomes haven’t been a 100% negative experience? Take a driving test for example. Failing the test at the end doesn’t mean you haven’t learnt to drive does it? So even though the outcome wasn’t what you wanted, to have a full driver’s licence, you have still succeeded in learning to drive.

So I think therein lies the key. To realise that failure doesn’t really exist, because there isn’t only one outcome to our experiences; we don’t just pass or fail. Everything is made up of little successes and/or little opportunities to either do better or to lead us on to something else. Once you realise this, that there is no fear of failure, that the fear is about something else for example how it will make you feel, you free yourself up to trying more things, to leave your comfort zone and to have faith that it isn’t the end result that matters, but the journey.

Youtube Channel!

To go with my blog I decided to also record a video diary, literally starting the day I lost my job. In all honesty it is awful!! I almost threw in the towel on the whole thing, but I didn’t want to do it again as it was authentic and real, and I feel it is important for those who don’t know me personally, to really get a feel for who am I as a person. So here’s the video. I really am not exaggerating when I say it is probably one of the most awkward things you’ll ever watch! I promise I’ll get better!

Nature Is My Therapy!

Whenever I’m outside with nature, I feel so at peace and centred. The space and time to think mean I now take a dictaphone (well an app on my iPhone) with me and just talk to myself as I walk! We don’t get a lot of sun in the UK so I try to get out into the sunshine as much as possible – especially as I am prone to SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) and usually spend this time of year wanting to hibernate, so keep giving me that sun!

There are not many things so pure and natural that can help lift you out of the fog that builds in your mind, be it self doubt or uncertainty about the future; Its like nature’s own little guided meditation and I always come back with clarity and full of ideas! I absolutely hate exercise and will do anything to avoid the gym, but I think it’s important to do something active to keep a healthy body to endorse a healthy mind also; I don’t think you can fully have one without the other. And so as one of my many rituals that I am incorporating into my daily, weekly and/or monthly routines, I’ll endeavour to continue to go out as often as possible. No matter how much the lazy bum inside me is screaming that she’d rather stay in the office with a cup of coffee! Surely these pictures prove it’s worth it – there really is nothing like feeling literally on top of the World!

Countryside Walk

Nature Walk

The Unmarked Road

Welcome to my Blog! If you’ve found your way here, you may well be feeling the way I have felt, well as long as I can remember really! After losing my job at Christmas (2014), I became painfully aware of the crossroads before me: one path was clear and well travelled but made me miserable; finding another office job that would never fulfil me felt like a prison to my soul. The other trails were less traveled, but still didn’t allow me the FREEDOM that I so desperately longed for. And so I have decided to risk it all and follow my dream by going down what I call The Unmarked Road; a road that no one has gone down before, which I can mould and create as I go.

I have always felt like I just existed in my life. Not living it. Like a passenger just taking in the scenery and experiencing the things that were happening to me without any real control or influence. Being an over-thinking, emotional person, this has often caused bouts of depression. Suffering from anxiety has meant that I have throughout my life felt very isolated in every way that I felt, and feelings that wouldn’t let me sleep at night or let me live peacefully without intrusive thoughts that this wasn’t MY life, that MY life was meant to be something else, plagued me so much that I thought I wasn’t normal and so for a long time I silenced those voices. I tried to ignore what I now believe to be my soul purpose.

What I have come to realise is that to live the way I want, the only person to make my dream a reality is me. No one is going to give me the perfect life. I am 100% responsible for making the changes to achieve whatever it is I want to happen. And what I want is to help and connect with people that feel the same way, and to write about it. To take the really overgrown scary road which looks like it’s clearly not meant to be gone down for a reason! and to document it, hopefully showing people that while the path may look dark and frightening, the journey is worth overcoming that fear, because what’s on the other side is everything you could have ever dreamed of and more!

So that’s what started it all. This blog will not only serve as a diary to see if and how I find a way to break the confines of our society that try to categorise us and put us into boxes, but will also hopefully give others the courage to go out and do the same. I hope that through it, it may bring some people comfort in knowing that they are not alone. That there is another way. That change is possible if you’re willing to put in the commitment and take responsibility for the actions required to bring about change.

And so my journey down the unmarked road begins! Every day is a chance to be in the driving seat. This is my story.

Dani xx