Taking Time for Yourself

It’s important to, once in a while, take some time for yourself…I did just that this last weekend. After dad being away for 2 1/2 weeks last month…my anxiety picked up…it hit me out of nowhere and for those of you who also have anxiety…you know that it isn’t something that you can just stop…

Anxiety can be crippling, it can make you scared to leave your house, talk to new people, try something new…but you also know that it is a completely illogical fear. I’m known as an over thinker…I over think pretty much everything in my life and so my brain is a constant bundle of things I need to do and scenarios that would never happen. I have yet to find a permanent solution where I can battle my anxiety and overthinking. For right now though a few hobbies keep my mind distracted and this last week and weekend I really focused on myself and pressed the ‘reset’ button in my brain.

So last week, Dad and I took a trip down to Cornwall…dad had an event that he was playing the drums at and I used the time to just relax. We rented an airbnb in Porthtowan just minutes walk from the beach. Now for those of you who know me know that there is something about the ocean and the beach…I feel like I’m at home. My love for marine biology intensifies whenever I’m near the beach and I always feel like the ocean is calling me…my mood instantly changes when I see the ocean, no matter the weather…I cheer up…I relax…I breathe more deeply and think more clearly.

I had so many things planned for that weekend, however there were 2 factors that hindered those plans and could have ruined it all for me. The weather is not something you can control and bank holidays in the UK are notorious for having poor weather. Well, the weather in Cornwall lived up to that…I received pictures from several important people in my life showing the blue sky and talking about how hot it was…I looked out my window and all I had was dense fog, the sun wasn’t anywhere in sight…But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being on the beach! Now the second factor was a little more annoying…2 weeks before I had managed to dislocate my right shoulder (yes I am right handed) and was still in significant pain and arm still in a sling. So suddenly things like picking up trash on the beach, or trying to take a picture with my camera, became a lot harder to do. Yes we had the dense fog for 2 out of the 3 days we were there, but the last day the fog finally lifted and I remembered why I love the ocean and the beach. The colours of the sand and the blue hues of the water…there is just nothing quite like it for me.

Now getting back to what I did to press the ‘reset’ button, I went for numerous walks on the beach and along the coastal path along the cliffs and spent time staring out to sea, anxiously looking to see if I could spot any wildlife (some seals but that was it), I explored some of the numerous ruins that Cornwall has to offer. Spent time reconnecting with old friends, building connections with new ones and drinking multiple iced lattes and peach green tea lemonades. Oh and who can forget the ice creams!!

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Unfortunately, time always flies and before I knew it we were home and the instant lull in my mood was noticeable. I knew I had to do something to stop myself from slipping back into my anxiety driven state. I ended up looking through my yarn stash and decided to crochet something again. Recently I had been knitting a wrap for myself but I really wanted to crochet something. So I picked a pattern and off I went…There is just something about crocheting and knitting that keeps my mind preoccupied and allows me to relax.

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Some people might say that it is selfish to take time for yourself. But if you don’t, then when do you get the time to be yourself…allow yourself to grow and to relax. Sometimes that means a mini break away to your ‘happy place’ and sometimes it means just picking up an old hobby. All I know is that since my mini break…my anxiety has lessened and my mood has improved.

What about you…what is your happy place? Do you have anxiety? What helps calm you down? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!!

Have a great weekend!

~ A cloudy day at the beach, is still a day at the beach – Unknown ~

Some Much Needed Vitamin D

Spring has FINALLY arrived here in the UK!!! I have been keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the last week already and the promise of sunshine and warm weather stayed! Waking up this morning I was welcomed with the suns rays through my blinds and the excitement grew!

After a quick walk to the doctors (still in the process of getting my fibroids sorted – read ‘Living with a hidden – not so hidden illness’ if you want to know more) and then buying some fresh bread at the local bakery…I am now sat in the garden in the glorious sunshine, enjoying the weather!

I’m not the only one who is enjoying the outside life…the cats are both thoroughly enjoying it…lazing around in the sun, catching all the flies and being stung by wasps…

One thing I realised whilst being sat here in the sun is that even when life is dark and there are moments when I can’t see the end of the tunnel…just sitting outside in the fresh air, in the warmth of the sun and no threat of rain…life isn’t as dark as I thought. There is light at the end of the tunnel…whether that tunnel has led you to where you thought you were going to end up or not…isn’t that the exciting thing about life? You never know where your journey will take you!

Since finishing my masters degree I have been looking for a PhD or a job…not finding much luck in either…so right now I don’t know where my life is going to lead but I am excited to find out!

What about you? Is it sunny where you are? If so, what do you enjoy doing when its sunny? Let me know in the comments below!!

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Spring

Spring in Minnesota has a different ring to it. Instead of seeing lots of blossoms in the trees, there is another 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Yesterday we wanted to get pancakes in St Paul, which ended up with the car stuck up a hill. The friendly Minnesota nice came out with a random guy behind us helping to push the car up the hill. If it would not have been so inappropriate I would have taken pictures!!!

We made it home safe though and were just watching the winter wonderland from the window.

I guess there will be some more Home days!! Although Geert is now on its way to Washington for a pastor conference.

I am ready for real Spring though!!!

Deadwood & the Badlands

Driving down the motorway, you see lots of billboards. Everyone is advertising something, or giving some snippet of knowledge. I came across the below quote:

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. John Muir

That’s truly what I feel like, having spend a couple days admiring Gods handiwork in nature.

Leaving the Rocky Mountains I did not think anything would top that beautiful scenery, see the pictures I shared in the previous post. We made our way slowly north east, towards Custer State Park and Deadwood. A little drive from the town of Deadwood we stumbled across Crazy Horse, the Indian sculpture in process. I could not remember this statue was so close to where we would stay the night… but now I felt we had to make a tiny detour and also see Mount Rushmore….evidence below…

Deadwood was not how I remembered it from a couple years ago. It was dead… only casinos livening up the atmosphere a little. Not really my scene. No music, no dancing, no re-enactments… clearly still winter season. At least the food was very good in one of the Steakhouses ‘ Legends’!

The next morning we needed to leave early to make it back to Minnesota at a decent hour. After all, I have to work again on Wednesday! We set off through the beautiful Black Hills and decided to stop at Wall. Probably a must do stop on the very long and straight I90. Also quiet, as it was not in the tourist season… but still, stretching the legs in beautiful sunshine was worth it!

Next unexpected detour: a drive through the South Dakota Badlands. Mesmerising, legends encouraging, beautiful scenery. A bonus to see long horn goats, mountain goats, deer and prairie dogs. So glad we took that small detour!

Have now arrived home, ready to sleep… a clean spirit as John Muir stated in the quote above.

America, you truly have such awe inspiring nature! I feel so blessed to have been able to see more. Below a few shots….

Road trip to Colorado

When I knew Geert would come to Minnesota one last time while I am still living there, I started thinking of where to spend a last couple days together. Packing is not everything after all, and he still has a few days to help me. We settled on a trip to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Realistically we would only spend one day there… yesterday.. but that’s ok since most of the park is still closed for the winter.

Yesterday was our Rocky Mountain National Park day… the Estes Park entry was open, so off we went. The scenery of the National Forest before you get to Estes Park is already stunning. We say the first couple Elks in Estes Park… just beautiful! After the entry fee of $20 was paid and a map was received we set of to explore all open roads. Below a selection of pictures.

The highlight was probably the coyote hunting on the plain. Very hard to spot due to its colours blending into the background of the fields… not sure if you are able to see in the pictures below… he was just running and playing as if there was no tomorrow. So cute!

The higher we drove, the more snow there was… plenty dead ends due to road closures… made me think on a beautiful day as yesterday…. if you feel like your road is closed, dead end… do you turn around and try another road? Or do you stay there waiting for the snow to melt to let you pass? Maybe something to ponder over as you flip through the pictures below…

On the way back to the hotel there was this beautiful sky, setting apart the white trees so vividly. I just could not stop taking pictures. As if God painted a picture just for me.

Today we will drive to Deadwood, South Dakota, so expect more cowboy pictures soon!

Reflections

This has been a weekend of reflection, re-evaluating that which is important during a period of madness. Work has been very busy, a little more than usual. I did not know if I could make it to go away. Although I had scheduled holiday, I could not actually take the time off. However, I really did want to go down to Tennessee where the memorial service of my uncle would be held. Of course my uncle would not know any better if I would turn up or not. After all we believe the dead are sleeping, until the resurrection. But I really wanted to be there for my cousin, whom I just recently reconnected with. Being in the US is a great opportunity to tighten family connections.

But now work commitments were threatening this time I had sat aside. Even though I had wanted to spend as much time as possible, I actually only saw them for the first time during visitation. And as my uncle was well loved, there was high demand on my family’s time. Particularly since they had all lived in Tennessee also and were there to visit.

It became quickly known to me that my desire to spend time was to be put on hold. Mixed with a bout of shyness to intrude and work calling, I only stayed for the service.

Coming back to my hotel room, and having my cousins words ringing through my head ‘don’t disappear’ I realised I really did have to think about what’s important. Sure, I need the job and right now work requires my focus. But being so close to relocating back to the UK, my opportunity to connect with family far away is also very important to me. I had challenged my cousin to a ‘rematch’ of walking/running up a hill in one of the state parks, and the time window was closing!

I ensured to have understanding of my boss that it was ok to skive off on Sunday…. and down the country lanes I went. Shame it was dreary out, no walking to be done. But I was very fortunate to have my cousin and his wife for myself for a couple hours! Catching up on years gone by and reminiscing of shared past time. Meeting up with their kids and grand kids, whom I actually had not met (except their eldest son, who was at Newbold College in England for a year during our time there).

The time to leave cane around way to early. Funny how you can feel so connected to someone in such a shirt time!

With promises to stay in touch I drove back to Atlanta to fly home to Minnesota, glad I did do what’s important to me. Family, no matter how far away, is very important. Time spend is not wasted.

Looking forward to the next opportunities to spend time!

What Can We Do In Our Everyday Life To Help

If you have been watching the news recently, or listen to the radio…then I’m sure that you have heard about the ‘plastics’ issue. We have become dependent on plastics and forget that we can’t recycle the majority of them. Whether it’s buying fruit in bags, or using plastic bags to transport goods. We use plastics in our lives daily. The question is…how can we stop it?

Over the last couple weeks, my facebook has been covered in posts about the ‘Plastic Island’ that is double the size of the state Texas that is drifting in the ocean. My heart sunk the first time I saw that because to me it’s not just the issue about plastic floating in the ocean…but more what it means to the animals that live in the ocean!

Turtles are some of the most well-known creatures that are being affected by the plastics issue. They love to eat jellyfish and a plastic bag floating in the ocean looks identical! But not only are they ingesting the plastics, they are also getting caught in it. But it isn’t just turtles. Many animals that have been washed ashore have been found to either be surrounded by plastic or having ingested plastic.

So the question is…what can we do in our day to day life to change this?

Simple…instead of drinking bottled water, buy a reusable bottle! In one year, on average per person, that would decrease the number of plastic bottles by 167. When you go and get a coffee, bring a reusable cup or when you go shopping, bring a reusable bag! These little things make a huge difference! You might not directly see the effects, but the environment definitely does!

We as a family have stopped using plastic water bottles, bring reusable shopping bags and reusable cups for our coffee. We also try and buy loose produce in the grocery store to minimise the amount of plastic we buy and when possible we buy food in glass jars rather than plastic containers. Yes, this might mean you pay more, but in the end what is money if the environment suffers?

So we’ve made the change…have you? What do you do to minimise the amount of plastic you use in your day to day life? Let us know in the comments!

Also if you want to support a great cause go to:

https://jettiesbracelets.grsm.io/MelodyTap

They sell super cute bracelets, clothing, towels, etc and 10% of every sale goes back to turtle conservation! Check them out!! They make awesome presents for yourself or loved ones and support a great cause!!

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Weekend

Why is it that the week can last so long, but yet the weekend just flies by? Tomorrow it’s Monday again… another week starting… my year in America is also just flying by. I am looking forward to my brother visiting next week… and then it’s on the countdown stretch to May.

What is it about time?

My uncle passed away a week ago… the time able to spend with him on this Earth is now in the past. It’s sad that so much time has been wasted without a lot of contact, although I treasure the time spend. It’s not wasted. I have been privileged to reconnect with my uncles family, son and grandkids… more time well spent.

My dad is the last one still of his family. Time has passed by, and although I hope much time is still left…it’s flying by. Time spend is to be treasured.

My daughter passed her Masters degree. Time well spend, but that period is now also past.

What will the future hold? I don’t know what time we still have on this Earth. I do know Who holds the future. And even though I have no control over time..I can’t speed it up or slow it down… I am looking forward to that day when time is of no essence anymore… eternity is not measured in time.

Why the Marine World?

I have had a lot of people ask me “why do you like the ocean so much?” or “why marine biology?”. So I thought, why not tell my story…

It all started when I was a young girl…since I can remember, I have always loved swimming and the ocean. Whenever we would go on holiday near the ocean I would want to go in and watch all the fish! I still remember that the majority of the time either mum or dad would have to come in to the ocean to tell me to come and have food as I would go snorkelling for hours! Something about the marine world fascinated me!

My 7th birthday came and my parents decided to buy me the video boxset of Jacques Cousteau’s discoveries (in Dutch). I started watching them and within a couple minutes, I asked my parents “what does he do?” to which they responded that he was a marine biologist. As a 7 year old I had already dreamt about being an astronaut or a wedding planner, but something in me clicked whilst watching the video. I knew I was going to become a marine biologist!

That was it for me, my obsession started! I wanted to read all the books I could find on marine biology and the marine world, wanted to watch all the videos and wanted to talk to everyone about it! I don’t think my parents were fully aware what they had done!

Fast forward 10 years and it came time to think about university options and what I wanted to study. I knew it had to be marine biology but there were so many different courses within marine biology. But only 1 really stood out! Marine Vertebrate Zoology at Bangor University in North Wales. Now I wish I could say that it was an easy path for me to get into university. However, it really wasn’t! I didn’t do well with my final exams and that meant that I had to repeat a year and redo some of my exams. However, in that year I also realised that I wasn’t quite ready to go to university. So what then…here came the trusty google search. What could I do to postpone university for another year but also be something worth while! I stumbled upon Frontier Gap Year’s website and that was it. Multiple projects jumped out at me but only 1 really caught my attention. Madagascar. Marine conservation and diving…now that was something that I thought was worth it to postpone uni for.

After spending an incredible 3 months in Madagascar, my love for marine biology grew so much and I was ready to go to uni! My experience at university was a mix of amazing memories and times I wish I didn’t have to go through (check out my post about living with a hidden…not so hidden illness to learn more!). But 3 years later and I had completed my BSc and was applying for a masters degree! Who would have thought! But every time I finish something, my love for marine biology grows!

I speak with so many people who have no idea what to do with their lives and I know I am incredibly lucky to have figured out what I wanted to do at such a young age! You just never know how your actions affect the other person. You might just inspire someone and help them find their ideal career! I’d like to think that even if my parents hadn’t bought me that video boxset, I would have still ended up in marine biology.

I’ve done multiple presentations about my field and people always tell me that I glow when I talk about it and I know they’re right! When I talk about marine biology, something in me changes and I become more animated and can’t stop talking! Even just writing this I have a huge smile on my face…

I am now 26 years old, I have just completed my research masters and currently looking for PhDs…my journey is far from over but I know that I am in the right field!

What inspired you to get into your career? What do you love? Let me know in the comments or message us privately!

~  When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself – Jacques Yves Cousteau ~

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