Dandelions

She picked a dandelion,

twirling it between her finger and thumb

while dreaming of yellow roses

and country lanes.

 

Life is what you make of it

so she shut her eyes tightly

imagining a place that did not exist

where she felt calm and whole.

 

When she reopened them

the sun sat high in the clouds

beaming down at her

and the dandelion flew from her grasp.

 

Support me: paypal.me/coralle

 

Advertisements

LowToxBox: A New Lifestyle Subscription Box

LowToxBox is a new monthly lifestyle subscription box packed full of natural, organic, healthy products. They’re committed to helping the environment, which is why a tree is planted for every box sold. You can choose between a one off purchase, a month-by-month, or a 3, 6, or 12-month plan depending on whatever suits you. It’s worth mentioning that you can cancel at any time!

LowToxBox kindly sent me a sample box that I was really impressed with. Note that this is just a taster of what you can expect from their full-size boxes which will be going out in the last week of August.

Here’s what it included:

A-7CN9Zk.jpg

Hampstead Tea – English Breakfast Organic Black Tea, Organic Green Tea, and Chai Tea. My favourite is the Green Tea.

Creative Nature Raw Superfood Flapjack – less than 1g fat, no sweeteners, and 1 of your 5 a day. It’s also gluten, dairy, wheat and nut free!

Human+Kind Family Remedy Cream – A cream that’s effective on a range of skin conditions including acne, stretch marks, eczema and razor burn. I should mention this is one of my favourite skincare brands!

Living Naturally Activated Charcoal Soapnut Soap – 100% vegan, natural, cruelty-free ingredients. The activated coconut charcoal soap absorbs dirt and oil and draws out impurities. I’ve found that it helps to give my skin a less oily complexion.

White Rabbit Skincare Cleansing Balm – A luxury, eco-friendly brand that is known for their naturally-based skin care products. The cleansing balm removes makeup easily (especially eye makeup) while soothing the skin.

This box also included a LowToxBox Tote Bag.

If you decide to choose the month-by-month plan, each box costs £18.75 + 3.75 p&p. Or it’s £22.50 for a one-off box. Whatever plan you choose, they will be posted to you in the last week of each month. You can head over to their website to find out more about them and their products here.

You can also find LowToxBox on:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

When Life Feels Overwhelming

I can only describe it like this: You haven’t learned how to swim yet but suddenly you find yourself in the deepest part of the ocean with no life jacket and no one to call for help.

It’s overwhelming.

I think in some ways we’ve all been there. We feel like there are not enough hours in the day. We want time to slow down but we also want it to stop. But time doesn’t stop, which makes it feel like we’re racing through life with no clue what we’re doing and where we’re going.

It comes down to the concept that we’re running out of time. We trick ourselves into believing that everything should be happening RIGHT NOW. And when life doesn’t work out the way it should it makes us feel like failures – that’s when the feeling of overwhelmingness hits us.

It’s a feeling that I experience more than I should. Maybe it’s because I’m impatient, or maybe it just seems like everyone else is always two steps ahead. Either way, there’s always something occupying my mind. I worry about work and meeting deadlines, I worry about my weight, I worry about the future, I worry about making plans, and most of all I worry about things that I have no control over.

I want to hide away from everything and lie on my bed staring up at the ceiling and think about nothing at all.

I’ve found that whenever I feel overwhelmed it’s because I’ve been neglecting my own needs. And believe me, it’s so easy to forget about the little things but those little things make me the happiest. Discovering and reading new books is something that makes me so happy, and it helps to take my mind off my problems. Unfortunately, I can’t read all day every day (if that was my job, you’d never hear me complain) but if I can set aside even half an hour it makes all the difference. Another thing that always helps me is to write. It sounds counter-intuitive as sometimes writing is the reason I feel stressed, but other times writing is healing. It puts things into perspective. It’s easier to understand why you’re feeling so overwhelmed when you have the reasons staring back at you.

Sometimes, abandoning whatever you’re supposed to be doing is the best solution. It’s not giving up, it’s making some much-needed time for yourself. A few days ago I started writing a piece on managing anxiety but I couldn’t finish it. At the time I felt so overwhelmed with life that I couldn’t write anything positive and anything I did write felt forced. I know that if I’m not in the right mindset, I’m not going to be happy with anything I write. So I went for a walk and I didn’t think about work, deadlines, or anything that was making me feel stressed; I focussed on the good things. I thought about plans that I have coming up that I’m looking forward to. After about an hour, I was back working and getting things done.

Life is fast. Life is urgent. But life is meant to be enjoyed. Let go of what you have no control over and embrace what comes naturally.

What Freelance Writing Has Taught Me

When I first started writing it was a hobby that I absolutely loved. It sounds a cliche, but I didn’t think for a second that it would become my career. It was just something I did because I enjoyed doing it.

I didn’t write for other people to read my work. I wrote for myself and myself only. That’s the mentality you have to carry with you into the world of freelance writing because trust me, it’s not easy.

Taking that leap from writing part-time to writing full-time is a big risk. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I was sure that I wanted to write for a living, so I convinced myself that that was enough. There’s a misconception that being a writer is quite simple: You write. How easy is that? I’ll be the first to admit that’s exactly what I assumed. I envied successful bloggers because I thought it must be one of the easiest careers in the world, but now I’m eating my words. It’s so much more than writing. It’s sending emails, it’s replying to emails, it’s skipping lunch because you really need to finish that article you’ve spent far too long editing (guilty), it’s promoting yourself on social media, it’s looking on writing job boards almost every day to make extra income that month. And breathe.

Before I became a full-time freelance writer I knew nothing about formatting, WordPress, or promoting myself. That’s something that I had to learn through experience. In fact, there’s still so much I don’t understand and perhaps it will take me a long time to grasp everything, but I’m still learning. The main thing I stick by is consistency. As long as I’m regularly producing content, researching, and learning new skills then I know that I’ll be able to improve as a freelance writer and hopefully increase my income.

Despite all of that, the most important thing is to write things that I enjoy writing. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve written a post about something I had no interest in just because the pay was great. And sure, sometimes that’s what you have to do. It’s a job. But I don’t feel myself when I write about topics that I have no experience in. The words feel forced. I read it back and the tone doesn’t seem right and I wonder if any of the readers can pick up on my false enthusiasm. I never want to lose sight of the reason why I started writing in the first place.

Honestly, I’ve never once said that I hated my job. There are some days when the words aren’t flowing or the ideas aren’t forming and I convince myself that maybe, just maybe, writing isn’t for me. But then I’ll have an amazing day or week or month when I feel like this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s something that I’ve just had to accept. The highs are high and the lows are low.

Of course, I’m going to complain sometimes. That’s what happens when you make the transition of writing as a hobby to writing for a living. It’s a business, which means that I’m responsible for how much I get paid each month. That can be scary. I’ve discovered that it’s trial and error with this type of work. I prefer working 9 – 5 because it’s the only way for me to stay focused. I prefer writing in silence because music is the worst kind of distraction. I prefer a few consistent writing jobs rather than a long stream of one-off writing gigs because it’s easier for me to keep on top of it.

To put it simply, no two freelance writers are the same. That’s what I’ve discovered so far.

6 Productive Things To Do On Your Day Off

I had a day off yesterday and I sat there thinking, ‘crap, what am I going to do today?’ and then oh, it’s going to be another one of those days where I watch Netflix and then feel guilty about it afterwards.

But I fought the urge. I picked up a book instead called ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ and I more or less finished it in one sitting. I knew it was a great book as it changed my perspective on a few things and it gave me a strong urge to have a cuppa. And it got me thinking about different ways I can spend my day off, productively of course. So here’s what I came up with.

  1. Read a book. I bet you saw that coming. Anyone that knows me is aware that I almost always have a book in my hand. I just like to read at every opportunity, even when I have other things I should be doing because as you know, reading is good for the soul. And it’s much more productive than staying in bed watching a film I’ve already seen half a dozen times. Plus, I’m so sick of looking at laptop screens all the time, it’s good to have a break.
  2. Go to a cafe. I have a thing for going to cafes. You can guess why. I like food. But I also like the atmosphere (It’s very hygge). It’s definitely the place to be if you like people watching, which I am guilty of.
  3. See a friend. I like to make a day of it so instead of just meeting for a couple of hours, I spend most of the day with a friend and we just talk and talk about anything and everything. That’s always nice. It’s usually a pub and like I said before, it’s a great atmosphere.
  4. Go out for a walk. Sometimes I use this opportunity to take photos for a blog post or Instagram. Don’t judge me, we all do it. I know that I’ve had a productive day off if I spend it exercising, mostly because I ache afterwards.
  5. Bake something. Most of us don’t have time for baking. Or sometimes we do have time, it’s just that we can’t be bothered. I’m the latter. But on my days off, I know that I don’t have an excuse. Apart from laziness, I don’t know why I don’t bake more often as I always find it relaxing, especially the recipes where you throw everything in a bowl and bam! It’s done.
  6. Rest up. Who said resting isn’t productive? By the time it’s the weekend I’m usually feeling tired so allowing myself a few hours longer in bed isn’t a big crime. It means I’ll have more energy for the following week. And sometimes I really don’t feel like going out and that’s OK.

There’s so much that can be done on your day off, but it’s up to you how you spend it. Just remember to take care of your Mental Health too. Don’t overwork.

How do you spend your days off?

Mental Health: Living with anxiety (#2)

The truth is I couldn’t go out today. I mean, I did go for a walk with the dog but I wasn’t alone. I told myself that I would get out the house on my own for a couple of hours, pop in a few shops and maybe chat to a couple of strangers. But that didn’t happen. When I woke up this morning I realised that I couldn’t face it. That’s okay, I’ve got loads of work to do anyway, I thought to myself. I’ll go tomorrow. Or Wednesday.

I guarantee I’ll find an excuse, though.

It’s one of the most difficult things to explain to anyone who doesn’t have anxiety. The response will be something like ‘I don’t get it. Why can’t you leave the house?’ or ‘You just need to get over it’ which is one of my all time favourites. Oh, if only I could just get over it, wouldn’t life be grand. The reality is that it’s not that simple. It’s never going to be that simple.

What may be a simple task to one person can be a challenge to someone else. If I go out by myself I see that as a big accomplishment. I feel like I’ve taken a step forward and I almost convince myself that I’m getting better. And there are days like today when I realise that I haven’t taken any steps forward, only backwards. When will things change? When will I be able to walk outside and not be constantly looking over my shoulder? When will I not feel afraid? It’s a possibility that I’m always going to feel like this.

Sometimes it does make me feel pathetic. I think that if I can’t do something so simple as that then how will I be able to face other difficulties in my life? I don’t know. That’s what I find myself saying a lot these days. You never know what’s around the corner, so I simply don’t know what will happen and if anything is going to change. However, I do know that I need to take this one step at a time. I also know that there are so many people who understand just how I feel. There is someone else who is feeling disappointed at not being able to leave their bed, let alone the house.

It’s not always easy finding the courage, but when you do find it, hold on to it. Remember how you felt in that moment. You may need it later.

Things I Want To Achieve In 2017

I’m sure the majority of people will agree that 2016 was a pretty crap year. We had our highs and lows, but I feel that the bad far outweighed the good. From a personal point of view, it was ‘OK.’ I met new people (some I have already lost contact with), gained a best friend, obtained a job that I love and gained a small amount of confidence. It’s astonishing how much can be accomplished in one year and how much time many of us waste without even realising.

I want this year to be different. I want to discover new things. I want to jump out of my comfort zone and into the unknown, despite the fact it’s terrifying. But more than anything, I want to have as many laughs as possible.

I want 2017 to have more of this.

Travelling. I never used to get the urge to travel like other people did until sometime last year when I decided that travelling is the key to discovering new experiences. Lately, I’ve been reading various travel blogs, staring at stunning pictures of Rome, wishing that I was on the other side of the world. I want to try foods that I’ve only seen pictures of, I want to people watch, I want to learn about different cultures. It’s not that I want to ‘escape’, I want to live.

Blog regularly. To be honest, I have neglected my blog. I’ve been so focussed on freelance writing for other websites that I completely failed to update my own. Firstly, I need to work out a schedule for how many times a week I should post and try my best to stick to it this time. Even if I’m really busy with other things, I’m going to make sure I plan some posts in advance instead of posting whenever I feel like it. At the very least I’m aiming to post twice a week.

Meet new people. As soon as I left school it dawned on me just how difficult it is to make new friends. Nobody seems to talk about this. I’ve been shy since birth, so it’s not a surprise that I’ve always found it difficult talking to people. I half expected people to start a conversation with me first, which I now realise is a bad mentality to have. If I want to meet new people, I have to go out there and find them. So I’m setting myself a goal to start talking to more strangers. If I see someone with a book in their hand, I’ll try asking them about it. Who knows, it could be the start of a great friendship.

Get in shape. I’ve said this for the past five years but this year I’m more determined than ever. The only thing that’s changed is my mentality. Before I wanted to lose weight, but I couldn’t be bothered to put in the work to achieve that. Now I know that the only way I can get the body I want is to put in the time and effort. I’m going to start small. 30 minute walks / 5 minute workouts. Then gradually build it up. A healthy body equals a healthier mind.

Aim bigger. As much as I love freelance writing and blogging, there’s so much more I want to achieve. I have a few book ideas that I’ve been putting off for at least two years. The reason why is because I’m my own worst critic and find fault in every idea I ever have, but this is going to be the year that I ignore those doubts, start writing a book and hopefully get most of it finished by the end of 2017.

What do you have planned for 2017? Let’s hope it’s a good one!