A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Monday, 10 December 2018

Today's the Day! || I'm Off to New Zealand

LA, 2017
Happy Monday everyone! It's an especially exciting one for me because this evening I'm flying to New Zealand!!! Despite it feeling like it was years away at the start of my recent job, this day seems to have come around so quickly and I can't believe that in a few hours I'm getting on that first flight to get there.

This isn't going to be a very long post - just a quick one to check in as I want to go and soak up my last bit of time with my Mum before I go! But I wanted to mark this day on here in some way because this really feels like I'm starting a completely new chapter in my life and I think days like that are quite rare.

I thought I'd wake up this morning feeling really anxious about the long flight and the fact that I'm going to be away from home for a few months but I have to say the predominant thing I'm feeling is excitement. And it's so bloody lovely to feel this way.

Everyone always says that you learn so much about yourself by travelling and, while I think you learn a lot about yourself through everything you experience in life, I do think travelling teaches you things very fast and in an intense way. It's funny to imagine what kind of things I'll see and do and how they might change me by the time I'm back. (God I'm going to be that insufferable 'gap yah' person aren't I?)

It's just an amazing time in my life and if I don't completely lose my mind on the 30 hour journey there I can't wait to see what's on the other side of this world.

I'm going to leave it there and will hopefully check in again soon - I'm spending a few weeks at my sister's before I go off properly travelling around New Zealand so I'm hoping to have some time to blog but if not I'll be back here when I'm back here! I hope you all have a wonderful week and are enjoying the run up to Christmas!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Thoughts on Finishing a Year and a Half of Therapy

I was listening to a podcast the other day (I know I know, how out of character of me) with the amazing Emma Gannon interviewing Katherine Ormerod. In the episode Katherine talked about how while she thinks that sharing things publicly can be great and really useful to both yourself and other people, it's important not to put things on the internet while you're going through them/things that you haven't fully processed.

I'm probably what you'd consider an oversharer. Not with everyone, but as soon as I'm comfortable around someone, I'm usually quite happy to tell them things ranging from my entire life story, my religious beliefs and even TMI things like my toilet habits (I have IBS so you could say that they can be interesting - my friends are super lucky). I've never worried about sharing things on this blog. But I don't think I've mentioned before that over the last eighteen months I've been having therapy.

I have written very briefly before about having therapy when I was younger but this time I think I felt like it was something I only wanted to write about when I had finished it. Like Katherine said, it was something I needed to fully process on my own before writing about it. And so here I am, having had my last session with my therapist after a year and a half on Wednesday evening.

I've been aware of the benefits of therapy from a very young age. After my parents divorced when I was six, my Mum retrained to become a psychotherapist and it was the best decision she ever made. She loves her job and because of that I've always seen therapy as a great thing when it's needed - just like going to the doctor when you're physically ill, in periods where you don't feel completely right mentally, therapy can be amazing.

Eighteen months ago I wasn't very happy at all. I wasn't clinically depressed nor did I have another mental illness but I did have spouts of anxiety and mostly I was just quite miserable. I felt very lost and confused by my feelings and my Mum suggested therapy might help. So, with nothing to lose and with some positive experiences of therapy in the past, I thought I'd give it a go. And I'm so glad that I did.

For the past eighteen months during which I have gone through so much change and felt so many feelings, I have had the constant support of my therapist to help me through it all. And I can't tell you what a comfort and help it's been. While I think of myself as a pretty emotionally-healthy person, I've been through a lot and definitely had some baggage that was causing me to find life pretty shitty when I first started seeing my therapist. And while we started off discussing/working through that, she later helped me through some really difficult times that came up during my last year of uni.

In fact, she was the one who made me realise back in August that I was so upset and having anxiety for the first time in months because I wasn't acknowledging to myself that I didn't have to do the masters I'd signed up for. She made me realise that my fear of what people would think was stopping me from admitting what I really wanted to do with this year and that is what gave me the courage to take this year out, and is why I'm getting on a plane to New Zealand on Monday evening.

Our last session was one of those rare opportunities in life to reflect on the past year and a half. It was lovely. I'm not the same girl I was when I walked through her door midway through 2017. I'm so much more confident, unafraid to ask for what I want (for the most part) and, most importantly, happy. Of course I'm not perfect and never will be and I still have days where I feel rubbish or have moments of anxiety. But I'm so much better equipped to deal with those now than I was then. And it was so lovely to mark the end of this chapter of my life before I go away in that way.

I am so incredibly lucky to have a Mum who made it a priority to pay for my therapy (and to have one who was in the logistical position to be able to make that a priority) and I'm very aware that many aren't as lucky and that NHS waiting times can be awful. But as my therapist said on Wednesday night to me, therapy is something that one can benefit from throughout life because life will always throw difficult things at you. And when those things knock you more than you can cope with, therapy can guide you through. So if you are in any way able to get that support, I'd really suggest trying it. It's truly one of the best things I've done over the last year and a half and I can't recommend it enough if you feel like you need that support.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The 52 Lists Project // Week 49

Happy Wednesday everyone! I've only got two days left of work and I'm off to New Zealand on Monday (!!!), which is complete madness but I'm so excited.

This week's prompt is: "List your favourite books". 

As you probably know if you've read this blog at all before, I'm such a book worm and have been since I was little so it was a tough task to whittle my favourite books down to just a few but these are the ones I've decided on:

  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - I won't go on about this too much because I've got a post dedicated specifically to it here, but this is the best book I've read in 2018 and the storytelling is absolutely incredible.
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - Again, you can read my full thoughts on this book here, but this is such a great and important read, all about race relations in modern America and I just loved it.
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult - This was the first Jodi Picoult book I ever read and it has stayed with me ever since then (which I think was around 2011). Picoult writes truly incredible fiction about ethical dilemmas and this is one of my favourites of hers. It's about a school shooting and the aftermath and I really recommend that you give it a read.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Now you probably won't believe me but I promise I was obsessed with this book before it went crazy big and the film was made. It was probably my favourite book that I read during my teenage years. I read it again and again obsessively and I think it's one of those books I'll always come back to and still love. 
  • Places I Stopped on the Way Home by Meg Fee - This is the best memoir I've ever read by my favourite writer. I've gone on about it enough (again full review here) but if you're in your twenties or just figuring out life in any way you need to read this book.
  • The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald - What can I say about this book? It's set in the dreamiest decade, has a fantastic storyline and some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read. It's a must. The Bazz Luhrman film of it is one of my all-time favourite films so I'd recommend giving that a watch if you haven't already too! 

What are your all-time favourite books? 

Saturday, 1 December 2018

My Favourite Podcasts Part iv

So today I thought I'd share part four of my favourite podcasts, following on from part three the other week. Here are six more podcasts which I've been really enjoying lately and which I hope you'll love as much as I do if you give them a try!

18 // Fortunately - I don't really know how to describe this podcast but it's absolutely brilliant. The fabulous BBC broadcasters Fi Glover and Jane Garvey meet weekly at the BBC and talk about the weird and the wonderful with a different guest every week. They even stop people who just happen to be walking by in the building and have a quick chat with them, you never quite know what you're going to get but it's always great. I first subscribed because I adore Jane from listening to Woman's Hour and have quickly grown to love Fi just as much. Fortunately is such an uplifting, entertaining listen and I highly recommend it.

19 // Desert Island Discs - This is the recommendation that you must have heard of. Desert Island Discs has been running since 1942 and in it guests imagine that they are to be stranded on a desert island alone for the rest of their lives but are allowed to take eight songs, one book (aside from the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare), and a luxury. The interviews are just lovely and end up discussing in huge depth the guest's life and why these songs mean so much to them. Episodes make me laugh, cry and sometimes leave me with a better outlook on life. The particular highlights for me have been with guests Billie Jean King, Anne-Marie Duff and Stella McCartney but there are literally thousands in the archives.

20 // The Fringe of It - The Fringe of It is a relatively new podcast which launched this year and the premise is that friends and amazing bloggers, Charlotte Jacklin and Liv Purvis (both of whom I adore), meet to discuss what they've been up to, loved on telly, been shopping and eating, before talking about a dedicated topic, sometimes with a special guest. I love how they combine a catch up (which are often full of some fab recommendations) with getting into meaty topics like money, activism and women's health and never finish listening to an episode without having a smile plastered along my face.

21 // George Ezra & Friends - This podcast is another one which is a relatively new discovery and which was created this year. In each episode George Ezra interviews a different person from the music industry about how they got to where they are, what they've learnt and what's important to them. They're really great interviews and you can tell that the guest feels totally relaxed in George's company, giving you so much more of an insight than your typical media interview. I was a little bit in love with George Ezra already (just look at that face) but I'm even more in love with him now having listened to his great podcast and I definitely think you should check it out. My personal favourites so far have been with Ed Sheeran, Elton John, Sam Smith and Jessie Ware.

22 // Love Stories with Dolly Alderton - This podcast was a one-off (although it would make my entire life if Dolly released another series), nine episode series in which Dolly Alderton aka my idol interviewed guests about love. She asked each of them to tell specific stories to them of their first love, an unrequited love and an everlasting love - there are definitely more but those are the three I remember off the top of my head. Each interview is such a delicious conversation and it's the only podcast this year I've kept coming back to to re-listen, and I have a feeling I'm going to be coming back to them for years to come. My favourite Love Story interviews were with Vanessa Kirby, Afua Hirsch and Ruth Jones.

23 // Political Thinking with Nick Robinson - In Political Thinking former political editor of the BBC and current presenter of the Today Programme Nick Robinson "talks about what's really going on in British politics". Each week he summarises the key events of the time and then interviews a political guest about them and about their life, how they got into politics and their approach to issues and current affairs. From Diane Abbott to Jacob Rees-Mogg to Caroline Lucas, Nick has a range of guests on from week to week and there's never a dull moment, in my opinion anyway. I think that Robinson is a really excellent interviewer and the episodes I've enjoyed the most so far have been with Jess Phillips (love her), Sir John Major (didn't expect to find this one as interesting as I did) and with Peter Tatchell. It's a great listen and a great way to keep up with what's going on in British politics.

So there you have it. I've now recommended 23 of my favourite podcasts! If you haven't taken a look at them already you can find part one, part two and part three of my favourite podcasts by clicking on the links I've added. If you do give any of them a go let me know, I'd love to hear what you think!
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