Exploring London…

A couple weeks ago I realised that I had never been to London on my own. I knew the reason for this was my anxiety, but that same week I had decided that I was going to fight this. I was going to fight my depression and anxiety head on and not let it beat me.

So here I was on a Wednesday morning, packing my rucksack with everything I thought I would need and off I went. After a quick stop off at Dad’s church, he dropped me off at Watford Junction and I was on my way…no turning back now…trust me, the anxiety was winning…my illogical part of my brain was telling me that everything would go wrong and I should just go home and lie in bed. But I thought the better of it and pushed through.

After a quick check to make sure I had enough on my Oyster card, I ran into one of my old school friends and instantly the anxiety reduced. Instantly I was calmer. Turned out that he was headed for the Science Museum which is directly behind the Natural History Museum. The anxiety for travelling had almost completely disappeared at this point and the other fears and anxieties built up. But again, I didn’t give in. I powered through.

About 30 minutes later and there I am, standing in front of the Natural History Museum. Now my plan had been to spend the day there, meandering through all the different sections and reading as much information as possible. However, the second I walked through the doors, I realised that that wasn’t going to happen. It was so incredibly busy, and boiling hot! Not a great combination when you are already struggling with anxiety!

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I tried to enjoy myself as much as I could but after about an hour, I gave in and left. I moved on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, hoping that that would be quieter, unfortunately, it wasn’t. So after a quick dash through the V&A and a quick pep talk from someone special, I picked up the guts, ignored my anxiety and decided to go to the British Museum.

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The British Museum has always been one of my favourites as it includes a lot of ancient Egyptian history and Ancient Greek history, two of my favourite topics!! Yes, it was busy and hot like the other 2 museums, and yet my anxiety was a lot less there.  I was able to distract myself with all of the awesome history that surrounded me. I drowned out the illogical brain and all of my anxieties, I was actually able to enjoy myself!

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Multiple hours were spent here just wandering around looking at all the different artefacts and then realising two important things:

1) How many plaques said ‘now missing’ or ‘now destroyed’ and it made me sad to think about how much history we have already lost and would never be able to discover!

2) That the Natural History Museum didn’t have any information that I saw about the current crisis and what we can do to help to stop more extinctions, etc to happen.

The journey back really tested my anxiety and fear though. It was just before rush hour, but people were already there and pushing. I decided to let one train go as it was so busy and full that I knew it would be a recipe for disaster. The next train was practically empty and I was able to avoid a near-certain panic attack.

Now for those who don’t suffer from anxiety, this day just sounds pretty calm and ‘normal’. For me, however, it was a HUGE step. It allowed me to see that I can push through and not let anxiety run my life. It also showed me that London isn’t such a scary place to explore on your own! Would I do it again? Definitely!! I’m already planning my next trip in!!

If you suffer from anxiety…what do you do to stop it? How do/did you overcome it?

Song

One of my favourite songs is the well known hymn ‘this is my Fathers world’. It tells me that no matter what He is in control!

It does not always feel that way…. the week started out with me being stuck in France for a day due to a cancelled flight. The plane had something wrong with its software and was not cleared to fly. I arrived a day later at my destination Costa Rica. And that while my work is so busy… a day makes a difference!

On Wednesday England lost the semi final football game to Croatia… I am not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I also got swept up in the hype and the ‘catch phrase’: it’s coming home! Instead we get to support either France or Croatia in the finals… and England gets to wait another 4 years..

My back is slowly getting better…

and on Friday it was the 13th… not that I am superstitious, but don’t you sometimes wonder? And avoid black cats?

That’s when that song comes back in my thoughts… the last couple sentences are as follows:

This is my Father’s world:

why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

And that is exactly what I am doing…. be glad!! Enjoy nature… He is in control!!

Some Weeks are Better than Others

This was one of those weeks I did not mind was passing quickly. I eluded in my previous post I hurt my back… I actually really hurt it and was flat on my bed all day Monday. I could not drive, so Geert graciously took me to work the other days of this week and picked me up again.

As a reward he is now at the dentist with a broken molar….I try to stretch and walk as much as possible as I have a long plane flight ahead of me on Sunday. But.. through it all I am very grateful.

Grateful I got to spend quality time with my little family. Even though we worked, the time spent in the car could be used for dreams and future plans. Daydreaming is wonderful, you are not restricted by time, space or money.

The week has nearly passed, the day of rest is approaching. The weather is glorious, and it’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness!

I hope you can find lots to be grateful for!

Happy Weekend!

Lazy Sundays

A typical Sunday in the Tap household is cleaning, grocery shopping, eating… or taking me to the airport for me to travel to someplace or other…

Not this Sunday though… we thought about going to the beach due to the nice weather, but changed our minds when pictures of the beach emerged in the news and it looked like you could walk over the heads of people.. instead, a picnic in Cliveden was on the cards.

We have been National Trust members for a couple years, but not made it to Cliveden yet. The estate is not far from our house, and this day we decided to have a look there. It’s a beautiful park! A beautiful hotel too, but we did not make it that far… we found a lovely space in the shade under a tree and spend a few hours just having family fun.

Although I hurt my back a little, this truly is what family fun is about… Mel and I crocheting, Geert reading for his classes… just idling the time away together.

It reminds me of that passage in the Bible of the wedding in Cana. Jesus hung out with His friends and family, showing it’s important to make time for each other… it was His first miracle in the Gospels actually, where He turned water to wine… to me though, the most important part is the being together having fun bit! Spending time….

What’s your Sunday routine? Rushed to get ready for the week? Or are you able to take time out to have fun with family and friends?

Chunky Veggie Chilli

One of our favourite recipes is chunky veggie chilli and we wanted to share the recipe with you!

Ingredients (for 4-6 people):

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 onions
  • 3 or 4 carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tspchilli powder (we use mild)
  • 2x tins red kidney beans in chilli sauce
  • 1x tin mixed taco beans in chilli or tomato sauce
  • 1x 500g passata
  • 1x tin of sweetcorn
  • Tortilla chips to serve
  • Guacamole
  • Soured Cream

Method:

  • Roughly chop all the veggies
  • Cook in oil until fork tender
  • Add the spices and cook for a further minute
  • Add the beans and passata and cook till hot
  • Serve with tortilla chips, guacamole and sourced cream
  • Add some grated cheese if you fancy

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Ponderings

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind in the truest sense of the word…I have been to both the east and the west, and find myself once again in America.

Time sometimes goes so fast, you just want to grab it by the horns and say: ‘hey! Slow down!’

I so wish I could… grab the thing that I love, slow down time and speed it up when the times are a little more complex.

Life is not like that though… you have to take the good with the bad and make the best of it.

For that very reason I decided to tattoo a phrase on my foot to remind me of the most important thing in my life… ‘saved by grace’. He died for me so I can live eternally… I will have all the time in the world then… I can do all the things I long to do but can’t make the time for… hang with friends, work in the garden, knit and crochet, be with my family, enjoy the golden streets and my mansion He is preparing for me… I can’t wait!!!

My Story Isn’t Over Yet…

As I’ve mentioned before…I suffer with anxiety and depression and as much as I would love to be happy all the time…sometimes I slip. And what I have come to realise is that its okay! It’s okay to not be happy all the time…it’s okay to slip and be down. Life is tough and sometimes you end up questioning everything. That has been me for the last 3 weeks.

Certain life events over the last couple months has meant that I have ended up questioning every aspect of my life! Now those of you who know me, know that my life has been far from easy. I have been through a lot and I’m sure that there will still be plenty more ups and downs to come. But you know what…my story isn’t over yet! My past does not dictate how I will live my future.

Someone super close to me introduced me to ‘Hamilton’ by Lin-Manuel Miranda and there is a line in it that has really stuck to me. ‘There are a million things I haven’t done…but just you wait!’. I am only 26 years old…I still have the rest of my life to go, plenty of time to do the million things I want to do. I can also look back at what I have accomplished…I have completed a research masters degree, which if you’d asked me whether I would have done one 10 years ago, I would have said no, and planning on doing a PhD.

Whilst talking to my best friend about my situation lately, she reminded me of another line in ‘Hamilton’ and it goes ‘I am not throwing away my shot!’ and I decided this week that I won’t. I won’t let my depression and anxiety get the better of me. I am going to fight it and I’m going to get better. I won’t let myself worry about whats going to happen in 5-10 years time. I am just going to focus on what I want to achieve by the end of 2018.

I also just want to thank those closest to me who have been a support through this tough time for me! I really appreciate every single one of you and I love you all dearly. I know I can be a lot to handle and that I say things I don’t mean when I am down. But know that I really do love and appreciate you!

So I might have a million things I haven’t done…yet…but what about you? What is a song lyric that sticks with you and helps you?

Philippines

Am not sure what I expected. For sure I had not looked at the map to actually find out where it was located… I just knew it was a long journey to get there… leaving Saturday, arrive Sunday evening…. skipping 7 hours in time difference for a few days, till the journey would be done in reverse.

Travelling for work is a recurring theme. I like spending time with the people that use the system I helped implement, and visiting them in their location is a great way to find out how we are doing. Visiting the Shared Service Centre in the Philippines meant going to another country I had not been before….

Driving from the airport to the hotel and I was already impressed and confused at the same time. Run down houses next to military installations… very busy roads with very big cars… very cool little busses (Jipnee) and rain… the hotel I was staying in was in the BGC area (Bonifacio Global City): a beautiful very well maintained area. Full of very modern high rise buildings, many shops and restaurants… as I said, very different from what I expected.

I travelled there together with another colleague, who had luckily been there and knew were to go…

The office was modern, the people very very friendly… and luckily we had a little time to see beyond the office walls… we visited all sorts of areas and restaurants… I loved it all..

Below a few pictures…

A few things I learned during the trip: the food is not so spicy but very flavoursome, rainy season means rain…., the service mentality can be found everywhere, people are very friendly, and I would like to return sometime to actually do some sightseeing.

During the trip I read a book: ‘Left To Tell’, the story of Immaculee and her ability to forgive after having survived the Rwanda Genocide. A read worthy book. I recommend it. She recalls her experience of survival and reminds us that love and forgiveness can tear down the walls of hatred. God loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.

I don’t know why I chose this business trip to read the book.. one sentence in the book really spoke to me….’see the world as it could be, not as it is’…. and that is what I am taking to heart… this trip it was very easy to respond kind to kindness shown. The Philippino is so kind, the world is kind….

The real question is, when times are not so easy, or when you are not welcomed with open arms … will you still see the world as it could be? And love and forgive unconditionally?

This is something I am working on….

Life Lessons

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post…life doesn’t always go the way you want it to or the way you’ve planned. When you look at the news headlines from the last couple weeks, one thing has been apparent…more and more people are committing suicide. So I asked myself why? The most common answer that kept coming forward for me was loneliness, depression and low self esteem. The three go hand in hand and feed each other.

As someone who suffers from anxiety, depression and a low self esteem, it is easy to be told to just speak up when you need help. But it really isn’t that easy, when I am down I socially isolate myself. I don’t mean to do it…I don’t want to do it either, my brain tells me that I’m being silly but my anxiety ridden part of my brain comes out with all the ‘what ifs’. Now I’m not saying don’t be there for those who are going through this, all I’m saying is that it isn’t black and white…gives us time.

The self esteem issue is one that is growing, I’m seeing the younger generations struggling more and more with their self image, and to be honest I am too. Media nowadays is constantly bombarding us with what is deemed ‘beautiful’. Gone are the days when it used to be ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’…freckles are labeled as imperfections. Curves, which used to be ‘the fashion’ is now considered majorly unhealthy and ugly…We are in a society where instead of building each other up, we are tearing each other apart! And then we get shocked when a young person or a celebrity commits or attempts to commit suicide.

We are all unique, shouldn’t we be celebrating that!? I dread to think what it would be like for there to be 2 of me…my parents would definitely agree there! But I also know that they wouldn’t want to imagine a world without me…and I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without my friends or family. So rather than tearing each other apart…lets celebrate what makes us unique!! Instead of finding fault in someone…find something positive in each person you meet!

We are all beautiful! Whether its your freckles, or your smile…we are all beautiful! Being brought up in a religious family, my parents used to always tell me ‘God doesn’t make things that aren’t beautiful and perfect’ and ‘the God who made the mountains and seas, felt like the world needed a ‘you’’. Those stuck with me and helped me when my self esteem was at the lowest.

I still struggle on a daily basis with my self esteem but I try every morning with a daily affirmation that I repeat to myself all day when I feel low. Some days those affirmations are ‘I release negativity from my body and mind’ to ‘I will not compare myself to others. I stay in my lane. I compare myself only to how far I have come and where I want to go.’

So what about you? What is your affirmation quote of the day? What helps you when you are struggling with depression, anxiety, low self esteem or loneliness?

Castles and Marshmallows

Today we entered Wales, always such a special feeling. Melody studied in Bangor and we made many a trip up there. This was the first time back since she finished 3 years ago.

I know it, I am a shopping addict… so first stop? Farm shop and Welsh food centre. I love it! The fresh fruits and veggies, the lovely breads, the sheepskins, cakes… with a smart car you have to be economical with stuff, but a little bara brith cake and a Welsh lovespoon at least did fit in the car!!!

The next item very high on my list… castles!!!! Bodelwyddan, Conwy and Penrhyn castles.. bygone eras and tales of knights and fair maidens… my imagination knows no bounds when I see the beautiful castle walls… don’t you hear the shouts of Ivanhoe?

Our stop for tonight is Llanfair Hall, a little glamping pod (www.llanfairhall.com) … when you camp, you have to have fire… and where there is fire… marshmallows!!! Melody is expert, mine just burn… those are the best though, with a little crust….

I never want to go back to England.. I am in love with Wales!