Simple Self-Care

Hey kids! After Tuesday’s accidentally insanely long post I thought I’d keep today’s nice and short. We’re back with another Self-Care Thursday and this week we’re keeping it practical and simple. If you read the self-care posts you’re probably one of these people: 1) WOO, can’t wait to try a new activity, 2) Hmm yeah interesting but I probably won’t bother, or 3) Ew, so boring and cliched. Well! Whichever you are, that’s okay, you do you. BUT. You can definitely do this week’s tasks. I’m gonna give you lots of options of very small things and you just have to choose one! So easy, right? I know you can do it, lazy person, I’m looking at you. No hard thinking involved this week, the key is complete and total relaxation. Whatever that means for you. So remember, you might read one of these and go, urgh, that’s not relaxing. But that’s okay, skip it. It’s possibly relaxing for someone else but we can’t all be the same. And we shouldn’t be. Okay, we’re not idiots, we can read a list. Here we go:

Go for a walk.

Have a cup of coffee.

Light some incense.

Journal.

Bake brownies. Or cookies.

Have the fanciest bath ever.

Listen to your favourite album.

Have a nap.

Read.

Go for a massage.

Change your bedding and put new pjs on.

Try a new lipstick.

Do some yoga.

Go to a museum.

Make a fort.

Pizza.

Go see a movie.

Meditate.

Call your sister/brother/mum/dad.

Go for a run.

Binge a Netflix show.

Cook a new recipe for tea.

Light a candle.

Go for a manicure.

Lie in the garden or a park.

Go and have a beer with a mate.

And there you have it, kids. Now if anyone can get them all done in one week you’d be my hero!

Wherever I Live – Alessia Cara

self-care for the new year

So we’re gonna start these self-care Fridays up again slowly. Baby steps, kids. For your self-care journey. And for me actually writing posts.

I find in my own life, but also when I look at the people around me, that we don’t give ourselves a break. Like ever. And I can’t work out why. Do we not think we deserve it? Do we really think we can’t find even ten minutes of time a day for ourselves? Or do we just not love ourselves? I’m not sure but I imagine it’s different for everyone.

However, I’d like to try and show you some ways that you could treat yourself better. Some activities that will help you reset, but also help you to connect to yourself and maybe discover something new. I want to convince you that self-care is one of the most vital acts in life and will hopefully lead to you feeling more balanced and content. We just need to give ourselves the chance to change.

So this week’s self-care task is simple: open your journal, or a word doc, or the notes on your phone, or a fucking scrap of paper you’ve found on the floor (no excuses) and write down your intention. Your intention for self-care. Why you personally want to incorporate more of it into your life, whatever form it may take.

Keep it just for you. And then any time on this journey that you feel you’ve lost your way or just need some renewed encouragement, breathe. Take a second. Then come back to this intention you’ve written and you’ll remember why you began. What you want from life. And how you’d like to evolve.

Simple, right?

Now get going, kids!

Almost (Sweet Music) – Hozier

twentynineteen

Well twentyeighteen disappeared into thin air didn’t it? Seems like just yesterday I was in a cottage in Wales bringing in the new year and writing last year’s version of this post. (I guess we’ll make it a tradition.) I was so full of hope and just, quite frankly, desperate for change and a chance to breathe after a shocking twentyseventeen. And you know what? It wasn’t a bad year. I’d say the positive definitely fought to be heard louder than the negative and I was very happy about that. I learnt a lot about myself, as I think you should aim to do every year. Lifelong learner and all that. There were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed. There were days when my heart was so full I thought it would burst. From joy. And from grief. There was lots of tears but maybe a few more smiles. My years will always be tinged with some sadness and thoughts of what could have been but won’t. But I’m still a kid, right? I don’t want to stop living. So I’m working on the perfect cocktail of misery and ecstasy. That’s the best I can do for now.

But let’s focus on fucking fun for a sec. Here are the boss things twentyeighteen brought me: I met my best mate and the boy I wouldn’t mind spending every day with; went to a prosecco party in Norwich; ate my body weight in vegan mac and cheese in Glasgow; saw Wicked at the Empire; had a gin crawl in Liverpool; went to Dublin, then went to Dublin, then went to Dublin again; had drunken sleepovers; went on two boozey cruises filled with ska on the Thames; sang Hamilton all around the Lakes; saw Legally Blonde at the Empire; danced to reggae in the Baltic Triangle; went to a casino and won fifty quid at black jack; went to Lake Fucking Como for my sister’s 30th; gave blood; ran away to Wales for the weekend; ate so many olives; saw Franz Ferdinand and The Cribs at a warehouse in Manchester; watched all the Rocky movies; floated around County Clare for a week sipping Guinness and being constantly blown away by the views; saw the Terracotta Warriors on their visit to Liverpool; turned a quarter of a century, yikes; played a lot of Mario Kart; saw a hundred women sing together at St George’s Hall; saw Liquidiation turn a quarter of a century; drank too many cocktails back in Norwich; went for a spa day with my boy; got blind day drunk with my work kids for Christmas; ate and drank and read my way through Manchester with the boy; had a couple of afternoon teas with the family; went to the pinewoods a lot; fixed my phone screen (proud moment for me); read fifty books; ate so much good food; watched so many amazing movies; drank copious amounts of booze at some awesome watering holes; and just spent time with the coolest people a person could ever hope to know.

So yeah, it was pretty sound, I reckon. I’m feeling pretty grateful and optimistic moving into 2019.

What are my intentions for the year?

They’re pretty similar to last year. I want to continue to better myself. I’m still working on being present. I want to do yoga and meditate and journal and write and read and dance and eat and drink and just live. I plan to wake up each day thankful that I’m alive. I want to get uncomfortable and try new things. I also want to hide in my reading cave and not see humans for five days. I think I can manage both! I want to see sunrises and stargaze. I want to inhale lots of love in and exhale lots of love out. That’s an Adriene reference for any of you who know what’s up. But really I think it’s just a good way to live. Plus nineteen is my favourite number so twentynineteen fucking owes me.

It’s gonna be a good one. Can’t you feel it?

You Get What You Give – New Radicals

Tattoo Origins: 53 03’ 40’’ N 9 21’ 46’’ W

These are the coordinates to my favourite place on earth. Yesterday I got to visit there again after three long years.

It’s been quite a while since our last tattoo origins story. I guess that’s because I find them quite draining. I love tattoos. And I love my tattoos. But the gravity I think comes with inking something permanently onto yourself means all my tattoos have very personal and emotional reasons for being there. They’re not secret, obviously, since I’m telling you about them. But sometimes they’re hard to write because I want to articulate their importance perfectly and that almost never happens. So it’s been a while. But yesterday made me realise this was the next journey for us to conquer together. So, onwards.

If you’ve read any blog post by me ever, or even just had a conversation with me, then you’ll know my family are the single most important thing in my life, bar nothing. Their journey is my journey. And my journey is theirs. We’re so wonderfully intertwined. I love them. Put in the simplest terms possible. Diving deeper, they are the reason I breathe. The reason I get out of bed. Fight Live another day. Hearing their voices, reading their sarcasm, feeling close to them is all I need to sustain myself.

You’ll probably also know that I love Ireland. The country just holds a special place in my heart. It’s my family’s home, so it’s my home. Aside from Liverpool, it’s where I feel most safe.

So how do these two facts collide to create this tattoo? And where is this place I’ve drawn on myself forever?

My favourite place in the world is a small slice of the Burren that stretches out alongside the Wild Atlantic Way. Driving from Doolin towards Fanore, just as the road turns to give you a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean, there is a small gravelled area to park a car. Park there. Cross the road, carefully. Climb down onto the world’s largest limestone pavement and breathe. Feel the harsh breeze from the water hit your face, close your eyes. Breathe deeply. You have arrived. You are alive.

My family and I have been travelling to the west coast of Ireland since the eighties, my brother’s first time being when he was still in our mother’s tummy. County Clare is our favourite. The Burren is possibly the world’s biggest playground and as kids we were mesmerised. I don’t recall the first time we ever found this little spot. But I’m thankful every day that we did. Every visit we’d park the car, wrap up in hats and scarves and coats, and just go. Whilst my sisters would hang back with our mum, casually exploring (they were older and more relaxed), my brother and I would run until we felt the sweat dripping down our backs beneath the winter layers. Under the watchful eye of our dad, it is a clifftop, we’d play the Burren game: no stepping on anything other than rock. You touch grass and you lose. Working our way to the cliff’s edge we’d all eventually pause. Blown away by the crashing waves below and the endless vastness that lay out in front of us.

It’s standing in that exact spot, looking at the ocean, that I’ve continued to come back to over the years. It calls to me. There’s nowhere in the world that I feel vibrates with such possibility. I could stare at the water forever. Yesterday was one of the windiest times I’ve ever been there. The powerful, white waves crashed so hard into the jagged black rocks next to me that I was periodically sprayed with fresh salty water. Feeling it hit my cold skin I felt alive. Peaceful. But secure. And loved. I don’t know how a place can make you feel that way. I think it must be magic. But all I know is I am one with that nameless piece of land. It is me. It has a way of emptying my mind and making me see clearly. About what I want. About what’s important. About what my life should look like. It guides me. Just as my mother guides me. It makes me feel safe. This spot is mine.

I’ll be attached to that place forever. It is my past, my present and my future. I just hope I don’t wait so long next time for the craving pull to ignite action inside me.

All I Am – Jess Glynne

Reasons To Get Out Of Bed

I’ve been needing a bit more coaxing recently to get out of bed and I figured some of you might be feeling the same way. So here’s ten reasons why you should get out of bed today.

1. Any day could be the best day of your life but you won’t know until you actually get up.

2. Just look at that beautiful blue sky. Feel that heat radiate through you. And if it’s raining? You’re not getting off that easy. Look how the drops are feeding our earth, let it rejuvenate you too.

3. That overly extravagant cocktail in your favourite beer garden with friends.

4. I know you have dreams. Even the tiniest of tasks will get you a step closer to it.

5. Pizza.

6. There is literally millions of books waiting for you to read their wisdom.

7. Your presence makes somebody smile every single day. Even if you’re feeling lonely your existence affects other people’s day. Maybe you called your sister, maybe you just held a door for someone or tripped over a curb. Whatever it was you made them smile and I think that’s pretty magic.

8. It’s your fucking life. Aside from like work and family obligations etc, you get to do whatever the hell you want. So go and do something that serves you.

9. The Hamilton soundtrack is waiting for you to listen to it, fall in love with it, learn every rap, and then go and tell every single person in the world about it as if it’s gospel.

10. Because you are important. And you are loved. And because you make the world infinitely better. So don’t fucking forget that again.

Waiting for Something – Nada Surf

Father’s Day

I don’t know about you but my dad is pretty boss. Like he’s probably the best guy I know. You can tell him anything and I think that shows how well he raised me and my siblings. A lot of dads try to be a big, scary authority figure whilst their kids are going up. Maybe it’s just the crushing pressures of hyper masculinity but I’ve never understood that mentality. Why would you want your kids to be scared of you? That doesn’t create love or respect, it just creates fear. That’s not an inviting environment to express support or kindness. At least, I don’t think it is. Maybe you think I’m wrong. But that’s just not been my experience of fatherhood.

In my life, fatherhood is about love and generosity and compassion and selflessness. But I guess that’s just cos that’s who my dad is. He’s a quiet guy but he’s full of ideas, opinions and intelligence. He taught me that words and ideas can change the world, that books are precious. That learning is paramount no matter what your age. He taught me to open my heart to other people’s experiences in the world and to always be an ally. He taught me how to take life with a pinch of salt and to laugh about what we can’t change. He taught me what it means to put your family above everything else and how to never lose sight of what is important to you. He taught me how to be authentic.

And don’t get me wrong, the man can be an ass. He can try my patience like almost no other. For anyone who knows our Terry, you know that to be true. But you also know the amazing man he is. You know that he is strong and he is brave and he won’t ever stop trying to be a better person. And that’s the main lesson he’s taught me so far: how to be a good person. Because a good person isn’t this shiny, perfect, angelic figure. A good person is someone with faults, but someone with many more qualities. A good person is more than the sum of their parts. A good person is always open to learn and change and evolve. And that’s my dad.

My life would be infinitely worse without him.

What’s your dad like? I hope you have the same relationship with yours and I’m sorry if you don’t, for whatever reason. But this weekend go and celebrate your dad, or anyone else in your life you see as a father figure. Or just a cool guy that you want to thank. Let them know that you appreciate them. And tell them you love them. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Especially then.

Happy Father’s Day!

A Horse With No Name – America

release toxic people from your life

Now this week’s self-care task will probably be quite challenging but I promise that it will make your life better. It will give you more time to focus on what is important to you and it will make you feel emotionally lighter.

You need to release the toxic people from your life. People and attitudes that no longer serve you need to go. I think the Kon-Mari method of tidying up can totally work for people too. And why shouldn’t it? I think that just makes sense. Efficiency-wise. So the method asks you to consider every item you own, pick it up and ask ‘does it bring you joy’. Now, I’m not asking you to go around picking people up, in fact you shouldn’t be doing that without their permission anyway. But I want you to think long and hard about the people in your life that you sometimes think are toxic. Now it shouldn’t be hard because you already know who they are. You know you do.

They’re the people who constantly make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. Like you should feel guilty about something. Like you’ve let them down. And yeah, sometimes you will fuck up and let someone down, we’re not perfect. But this is if someone is constantly making you feel bad. Someone who gives you backhanded compliments or interrupts you to talk about themselves. When you meet after a few months or even a couple of days they don’t ask you questions about your life or show interest in your wellbeing. They act like they can do no wrong and they victimise themselves to make you believe you’re the problem. But you’re not. And you deserve better.

These types of people clearly have things to work through in their own lives. But it doesn’t always have to be your problem. It’s not selfish to treat yourself well sometimes too. You need to understand that you don’t have to keep every person in your life who you’ve ever met. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known them since high school or uni or even just last month. It doesn’t matter if you have mutual friends. It doesn’t matter if you live in the same city or different countries. You’re allowed to put yourself first. In fact, I actively encourage it. So you have to look at this person and decide if they are greater than the sum of their parts. Does the good outweigh the bad? Because if not, I’m sorry, but they’ve got to go. Release them from your life because you don’t need their bad energy.

Now how you do it is up to you. I mean if you think ghosting them is what you need to do then that’s fine. Because you’ve got to do what’s best for you. What I’ve found is a good way to solve this is to express these feelings to the person in question directly. I know it can be hard, I really hate conflict too. But you have to get over yourself for at least five minutes and try. When you tell the person how you feel and what you need to change they will show their true colours. Either they will consider your words and think okay, yeah, that’s sometimes true. I’ll do better. They may have a few notes for you, which is only fair. Or you may find they are unfortunately exactly the person you thought they were. They’ll yell at you and victimise themselves. They’ll refuse to work with you towards a more healthy friendship. At this point I give you permission to fucking ghost them. Extricate them from your life completely. Don’t you feel lighter already?

I’ve never understood why people always say that you know they’re a good friend if you can argue with them. I’ve always been of the mind that you choose your friends, so why would you fight with them? Maybe it’s just because I don’t like or have no time for conflict. But I don’t argue with my mates that’s why we’re friends. So if someone is always trying to pick a fight with you they may be someone to consider axing from your life.

This may all sound a bit brutal. But it’s not. If they’re good people who care about you then they will fight to be in your life. If they don’t? Well, you quite honestly don’t need them. Instead focus on the people who love you unconditionally and without strings.

Peace.

Yes, Even Stars Break – The Scene Aesthetic

self-care: yoga

So we’re very much still in this ‘new year, new me’ phase so I thought yoga would be perfect for this week’s self-care series. Now don’t get me wrong, you are sublime the way you are. You don’t need to fit in to some unachievable box of beauty that the world would like to put you in. Fuck them. They don’t understand beauty. They can’t open their minds to the vast and unknowable bounds of the human experience. To what we look like on the outside, which yeah is great, but also what we look like on the inside. It shouldn’t be news to you that beauty is everywhere within you so why are you not treating yourself like you deserve love?

This post’s song is especially important for this article. I don’t know how many of you usually listen to the songs but I enjoy adding them; I always have. But these two songs are heartbreaking and raw. They speak to people’s insecurities and sadness and loneliness. Yet they tell you you are perfect, if you’re willing to listen carefully enough. She literally says the lyric ’my body is home’ and that is so important to remember. This body of yours carries you through life even when you show it nothing but hate and contempt. It looks after you even when you refuse to look after it. Because it believes in you and it knows you can do better. You just need a bit of self-love. And self-care. (See I knew you were wondering where I was gonna throw that in this week!) So take the time to incorporate that in to your whole ‘new year, new me’ thing. It literally says ‘me’ in the phrase so don’t forget about it. Any change should be about yourself not anybody else.

So anyway! Yoga. You can obviously use this as an excellent way to get fit – if you want to, not because you think you have to. But it’s so much more than that and that’s why it’s my favourite exercise. Because it’s not just exercise. It’s a way of life. It’s meditation and spirituality. Now stick with me here. If you’ve never done it before or never felt this energetic connection that everyone always talks about you may think I’m talking garbage. But I’m not. You just have to give yourself the patience and time to try. I’ve been doing Yoga With Adriene’s videos on youtube for a while now and I think they’re an excellent guide. Every January she puts on a thirty day series to help you on your yoga journey. She uses a lot of mantras which are a great way for new yogis to bridge the gap between simple exercise and the more spiritual side. But she can explain it a lot better than me and you’re not too late to jump in to the challenge. We’re only on day four today so you can easily catch up.

Doing these videos will really make you come away loving your body a little more and want to work with it instead of against it. It will also allow you to slow down. Once you step on that mat nothing else is relevant. At least not for those thirty or so minutes. Push everything else aside and give yourself that time to connect to yourself. Or at least just give you that burn in your thighs if that’s what you’re looking for.

Anyway, happy January, friends. Take care of yourselves.

Body Love Part 1 & 2 – Mary Lambert

Tattoo Origins: oneeightzeroeight

I haven’t graced your screens with a tattoo origins for ages so I thought it was about time.

Now, in all honesty I’m at this impasse where I cannot for the life of me remember the order of the next four tattoos because they were all done on the same day. This was less than two years ago but I was hyped up on adrenaline and excitement so it’s a bit fuzzy. If I even tried to work it out it would just be a lie so I’m just gonna go in an order that makes sense to me.

But why did you get four on one day anyway? Simple, at uni I could never justify it over rent or, you know, vodka. But in September 2016 I’d been made permanent at my then job and I decided if I didn’t do what I wanted now then I’d spend a lifetime waiting for tomorrow. It’s the little things.

Sarah, hurry up and get to it. What does oneeightzeroeight mean and why is there no spaces? Simple, it’s my PIN number.

I’m totally joking.

It’s a date. The eighteenth of August. On this date in 2014 I ventured on arguably the biggest adventure of my life. At least it was at that point in my life. My first big adventure. I moved to America. George Mason University, to be specific. For my exchange year.

But why does that need to be tattooed on you? Well is was one of the most mad things I’d ever done. Since I was sixteen sitting in IT classes looking at university courses I knew I wanted to do a year in the States. Believe me, I’m super glad it was Obama’s America cos I couldn’t have gone now.

But it was something I had wanted so I worked hard to get myself there. I worked in sweaty kitchens in the summers and I took up any shift I could at the bar during my semesters. It definitely wasn’t coming cheap. Even when my uni said I wouldn’t be able to go if I didn’t start going to lectures, I made sure I was there bright eyed and bushy tailed at nine am for a full semester to show them I was serious. Yeah, some of you are probably thinking I should have just been at those classes anyway. But that’s not who I am. So that was a big thing for me.

When I finally got there there was this huge pressure to make it the best year of your life but what people forget is you’re really just moving your life to a new place, laundry still has to get done and essays still have to be handed in. And man, did I miss my family and friends. So it took a while to adjust but eventually I met some of the most awesome people and then I really did have one of the best years of my life. I won’t say the best cos I’m an optimist. There’s more to come for me in this life. But then I got home, to ‘reality’ and all of a sudden laundry seemed a lot less glamorous. I wrote a dissertation then graduated with no savings and no job and no real idea where my life was headed. And it got me thinking about my year abroad and how I made something happen.

And I had all your usual year abroad revelations. I learnt a lot about myself and I discovered a lot about life. I learnt a lot about friendships and people and I just felt so connected to the world. I felt like I was living a dream, yeah, what a cliche. But I’m just telling you what it was like. It was boss. It was so wildly different from my normal life that it felt like I was living someone else’s if only for a year. And when it ended I knew I needed that feeling of freedom and culture and fascination in my life again. Always, if possible.

So I got this tattoo to remind myself of that. I got this date because it’s tangible and I can touch it. But also because it’s the beginning and I think the beginning is important. It’s to remind me to always chase adventure and that feeling of adrenaline and fun and euphoria. It’s on my arm so I can see it. So I’m confronted with it every day. I can’t hide from it. So when I’m staring absentmindedly at my work computer wishing I was anywhere else in the world but in that office I can see it in my peripherals. And I can remember, oh yeah, I already knew that; I want more for myself. Then I feel a fire inside me to find the next adventure, no matter how small.

It’s also just to remind me of that year and of all the beautiful friends I made. And the fun we had together. I felt so connected to you guys there, and I hope you know that. I love that it’s almost unreadable, because it’s for me not anyone else. There’s no spaces so it’s almost in code. It’s also in numbers to solidify the code. Nobody else knows what this one means so you better all hush!

So, anyway, it means a lot of things. And people think you just aimlessly ink words on to yourself. Pshh.

Ritual Union – Little Dragon

Christmas Self-Care

So it may not be a Friday and this may be six weeks late buuuuuut I’m bringing you a self-care Christmas Special. Because what even is December if you don’t kill the Christmas theme over and over, right?

Now we all love Christmas. We go on about it all year, people have countdowns going from literally January. But I think sometimes we can work up to a moment so much that it’s inevitably underwhelming. Or we just try so hard to make a moment perfect that it pales in comparison to our imagination.

But through it all we’ve just got to remember to breathe. Be present. Realise what any holiday is really about. Yeah, you might think it’s really about presents. But you know it’s about being with people you love, doing good. So this week I’m giving you a few different self-care ideas that will get you through the holiday period hopefully stress free. Because times of joy should not be stressful.

Tip 1

Before you eat the insane amount of food I know you’re going to maybe do a few light stretches. Then if you’re not completely smashed when you’re going to bed, maybe do a couple more. Stretch out those tummy muscles. Nothing complicated just a quick five minute yoga sesh. Yoga With Adrienne on YouTube will have you covered.

Tip 2

If you’re unfortunate enough to have a family full of tories or just general nobheads feel free to debate when you think it’s necessary but it you know they’re not listening, instead of ruining your day just remove yourself from the situation. Or sometimes we even argue with people who we consider soul mates. It happens, we’re right under each other’s noses. Just go for a walk after your massive Christmas meal. Clear your head and work up the smiles to go back in.

Tip 3

This one is for all my veggies out there. We all know the pounding of uninformed, moronic questions you might get from your aunties new boyfriend. But, like, if you had to choose between a cow and a dog. But if you were on a desert island. In a zombie apocalypse. Yeah, but the chicken is gonna be killed anyway. The answer is still no. Take a deep breath and count to nineteen. Why so high? Because I know the question is so idiotic that five seconds just won’t cut it. Release the angry energy and move on with your day. Hopefully he’ll get hit by a bus next week anyway.

Tip 4

If you’re an unnecessarily competitive person, don’t play games. You’re only making your family hate you. They may be politely laughing at your tantrums but they really want you to grow up and just realise it’s a fucking game of monopoly, man. Sit down.

Tip 5

Remember that this is your break as much as anyone else’s. You need to do what you want to do. If you don’t want to wear a Christmas hat cos it itches your head and you feel stupid, then don’t. If you don’t want to play charades because you can’t bear to act out Finding Nemo one more time, then don’t. If you want to go and be alone and read a book for an hour or two, do it. If you want to eat another chocolate even though your rude grandma is making comments, ignore her and eat it. You’ve worked hard all year so don’t forget that this is your time to relax. Do what you need to do. It’s all about self-care, mate. So keep that centre.

And that’s it, kids! Go and enjoy your holiday season 🙂

Step Into Christmas – Elton John