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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

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?

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?

UK Roadtrip

As I sit here in the sunshine, am pondering the last couple days. Moving was stressful… what to throw, what to bring, what do we now have double… etc.. another thing that worried me was a car.. as I had moved to the US for a year we sold my little convertible.. and now the pressure was building to buy a little 2nd hand car.

I knew what I wanted, and although it took a little convincing for the rest of the family. They know I like shopping and it’s the smallest car ever… but I now had a little blue smart car waiting for me…

We took it out on sabbath, driving to London where Geert had to speak at an afternoon service…. I can make the car work…. yes, it’s tiny… but we will be fine…

Sunday morning Mel and I packed the car for a couple days camping in Wales.. the car is small!!! But we made it and are now sitting on a garden sofa, having a drink, and enjoying the sunshine… what will tomorrow bring? Destination Anglesey!!! My favourite area in Wales, and something I missed a lot… sea and tea with scones. Yum!

Exploring Cornwall

So as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs (Taking Time for Yourself), dad and I went on a little minibreak to Cornwall. The reason for this trip was that dad had been asked to play the drums at Live in a Field in Chapel Porth (a camp filled with worship and activities) and of course I would join. Who wouldn’t want to escape their everyday life to be beside the ocean for a couple days??

Thursday afternoon came and it was time to drive down…we were expecting awful traffic and a long journey, however, we had managed to beat the bank holiday traffic!! Before we knew it (and after a quick stop off at Mcdonalds) we had arrived in Cornwall. We had decided to rent an Airbnb near the campsite and found a cute flat in Porthtowan. The one downside was that we arrived in the dark and there is no phone signal in Porthtowan. So finding the flat was an adventure…but we managed to find it (a stone’s throw from the beach!) and we settled in and got an early night.

The next morning we woke to dense fog and thick cloud cover…not the weather you hope for when you’re going to the beach…however, I put my wellies on and dad put his trainers on and off we went for a morning walk on the beach. Porthtowan beach is gorgeous, if you ever find yourself in Cornwall, definitely go!! And if the weather is nice…treat yourself to some Cornish icecream from Moomaid of Zennor!! We went looking for shells and found none but did a quick beach clean whilst we were there. After a little exploration, we decided to head over to Trevaunance Cove which had been a favourite spot of ours for the last couple years. However, the beach cafe had been changed and didn’t have the same cosy feel that it had had over the last couple years. So after a quick coffee and a seal or two spotted, we went for another walk on the beach and explored some of the caves.

It soon became time for us to head over to Chapel Porth campsite for dad to drop off his drums and a quick catch up with some friends before heading over to St Ives for a spot of lunch and a quick wander around the beautiful town, and of course another ice cream! We then headed back to the camp for the evening worship and headed off for an early night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday morning, dad headed back off for a pretty full day at the campsite. I had decided to take the day for myself and explored the coastal paths between Porthtowan and Chapel Porth. Dad met me halfway and we continued on exploring some of the ruins that Cornwall has to offer! That evening we had a lovely concert filled with Lily-Jo, Speak, Brother and Volney Morgan & New Ye. So no early night for us!

The next morning we were promised sunshine and it definitely came through!!! Blue sky and glorious sunshine! Nothing could beat that! So off we went for ice cream (that I mentioned above) and a quick walk up the coastal path to a viewpoint. After an hour of not spotting anything, we decided to have a quick bite to eat. Whilst eating, we saw the fog coming in and before we knew it…the view was gone! The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see far in front of you at all! So off to Starbucks for a coffee and then back to the camp.

That evening we had the last concert filled with Daughters of Davis and Philippa Hanna. Once that was done, we packed up dads drum kit and headed back to our normal lives. It was a whirlwind of a trip but one that was much needed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What do you like about minibreaks?  What do you like to do relax?

Also, check out or Cornwall 2018 Vlog for a more detailed look at what we got up to!!

Another Friday Rivercruise

About a year ago, Melody and I took a cruise down a part of the St Croix river, from Taylors Falls. A beautiful trip, I blogged about it previously and posted pictures.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of peace I had then, after busy days of preparing for the movers arrival next Monday. So I booked a river cruise on another part of the St Croix river. This time from Stillwater.

The weather forecast was showing rain, but when I arrived there were very little clouds in the sky and it was beautifully sunny. I could pick my spot as I was early… top deck near the front. I missed my chatterbox daughter… but the instant peace of being on the water was there…

There is nothing more calming to me than the sound of the water, with beautiful birds up in the sky. Especially my favourite in this part of the world… the bald eagle. Such majestic soaring over the waters…

It always reminds me of the sermon Geert preaches often.. the song of Moses in Deuteronomy, where he compares the father Eagle to our Heavenly Father. Soaring, watching, feeding, and there to catch us when we fall. Seeing these eagles puts things in perspective. He is in control…

‘When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the Storm. Father you are King over the flood, I will be still and know You are God…’

Enjoy the weekend, my soul is calm.

Why Are We Afraid of Sharks…Should We Be?

When you think about the ocean…what words spring to mind? Water? Fish? Dolphins? What about words such as fear? Scary? Deep? Intimidating? Everyone has their own opinion on the ocean and what words they associate with the ocean. One word we all have in common though…and that is sharks. Everyone can name at least one species of shark, whether that is the famous Great White Shark or Whale Shark, we all know one.

Now when it comes to sharks what word springs to mind? Killer? Scary? Fear? Have you ever wondered where that fear came from? Why are we so scared of sharks? Should we be scared of them? Now I am no expert on sharks, but I have extensively studied them recently and have been fascinated by them since I was 10 years old. The one question that everyone asks me is ‘are sharks really the ruthless killer we think they are?’. Isn’t that the question everyone wants to know?

I know for myself that it was the question that I wanted answered 16 years ago. At that point all I really knew about sharks was what my parents knew (the internet had only just become widely available but it was still dialup so it was either the phone or the computer…the phone won). My parents realised that I had a hunger for knowledge on sharks and ended up buying me a book on them and I remember so clearly that the pages on shark attacks and survivors is what really held my attention. Specifically it was the story of Rodney Fox and how he survived. Now what really surprised me was that after his attack, he became a shark advocate…he admitted that he was not the victim in this attack, the shark was!

This set me off on what I thought was a great detective story. Turned out that the majority of shark victims didn’t blame the shark at all and actually became advocates themselves! Now if people who were attacked by them aren’t afraid of them…why should we be?

So the big question is, where did this fear come from? Many would say, and I would agree, that the media have made sharks these ruthless killers that we are all afraid of. Whether this all started with the film ‘Jaws’ or not is another question. But the author of ‘Jaws’ Peter Benchley also became a shark advocate and regretted writing his book so much that he wrote another book talking about how important the oceans are and what lives in them.

Yes sharks look scary, they are apex predators so they are ‘designed’ to perfection for their environment. But just because they look scary it doesn’t mean that they are ‘cold-blooded killers’. In fact the chance of a shark killing you is so small, you are more likely to die from a cow or a coconut falling on your head! Those that do get attacked are mainly surfers, and that is because surfers tend to go out at dawn and dusk, prime shark feeding time. Plus the major reason surfers get attacked, is because they look like seals in the water, seals being the number one food source for many sharks.

So does this mean we should be scared of them? To an extent yes, they are the apex predators of the oceans and it is their environment. When we step foot into the ocean, we are going into their environment. But, that fear shouldn’t stop us from exploring or understanding the oceans and especially studying and understanding sharks more! The media has made us scared of sharks with behaviours that aren’t natural to them, we love being scared of monsters, they intrigue us. But instead of being scared of seeing them in the wild, lets be amazed! It is not often that you can come face to face with these beautiful creatures!

Sharks are truly incredible creatures and I will spend my life protecting them and making people aware of just how amazing they are and that we shouldn’t be scared of them.

What about you? What about sharks scare you? What about the oceans scare you? Let me know in the comments below!

~ Fear is only as deep as the mind allows – Japanese Proverb ~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.