Really Listening To Yourself

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I’ve had a tough few days. Actually, I think I’ve had a tough few weeks. I’ve been getting up later, wearing less make up and only really leaving the flat to either go for a morning run, or to hunt down some coffee or lunch.

At first, I gave myself a bit of a hard time over my sudden hermit-like-state. But you’re in New York! You need to be making the most of life! But then I remembered why I’m here, and why I needed to be here – to rebuild myself. And a big part of that is really listening to what my mind and body needs right now.

It’s a lesson I learnt a few years ago – when times are a bit tough, always listen to yourself. I don’t mean listening to your own advice (that would be shit because mine sucks), but really getting in-tune with what your body is telling you. Understanding and accepting how you’re feeling and what emotions are flowing through your veins.

For example, when it comes to listening to my body – I know my limits, and I know when and when not to push them. I know I have a dodgy ankle (all thanks to Lady Marmalade – a story for another time). I know that I can run 5k before the pain sets in and I end up waddling home in a limp, regardless of how much I’ve stretched it or wrapped it up. For me, every run is a blessing, given that 14 years ago I was in a wheelchair for 12 months of my life.

But since moving here, I haven’t run. So, when I started back this week I listened to how my body was feeling and instead of pushing for those 5k runs again, I settled for 3 and took it slow.

When it comes to my mind, I have the same mentality. When I’ve had a tough few weeks, I really try to take a step back and look at what I’m feeling. I stay present and accept that what I’m feeling is absolutely fine to feel. It’s just an emotion. Over the years, this way of thinking has allowed me to heal and rebuild.

If my ankle hurts – I simply don’t push it to the point it breaks. If I’m feeling a bit emotionally shit, I don’t force myself to go somewhere or do something I don’t want to go or do. And that’s absolutely fine.

If your mind is telling you it doesn’t want to go exploring today, it’s okay. Don’t be hard on yourself. Instead go for a walk or take a hot bath/shower (hydrotherapy is great for lifting moods) – even when I’m feeling at my lowest, I always try to get up and go out.

The important thing is to be kind to yourself – don’t shut yourself away, just take it easy and listen to what your mind and body is telling you.

 

Embracing The Pressure

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Sitting in Central Park with the faint sounds of the city humming in my ears and the smell of hot pretzels teasing my hunger pains, I was surrounded by serenity and scenes of people enjoying some down time, but I felt uneasy. There I was, in what is one of the most peaceful parts of the city away from the deafening sirens and angry beeps of the impatient drivers, and yet my mind still felt heavy. It was a feeling I’m very familiar with, but not one I expected to face one month in to my three month break.

I quickly realised that the feeling was pressure.

As I sat there on the daisy-dotted patch of grass, I tried to explore my mind and figure out where this feeling was stemming from. When I left London, it was to escape the pressure and try and allow my self to rebuild after some of the toughest months of my life. I needed nothingness and space to reinvent and welcomed this break with open arms, so why did I feel under pressure to do more?

With no job to consume my brain, I quickly realised that the pressure I was feeling was obviously coming from my own mind. Despite having three months of freedom and the time to sit and relax, my mind was making me feel guilty for not working. It was putting pressure on me to use this time to do something productive – it was urging me to write, nagging me to get that book planned or that project on the go.

My peaceful time in the park and my endless hours of having just my thoughts for company had given me the headspace I needed to realise I needed to embrace this feeling, and not fight it. After all, the pressure in my mind to work and create had probably got me to where I am today.

Feeling that pressure on a peaceful day where I had nothing to do reminded me of the drive inside me. I still had that fire in me to create, even while on a break. It was there and it made me feel like, actually, this is clearly what I’m supposed to be doing in life because I’m craving it when I’m not surrounded by it.

So I’m going to open my arms wide and embrace it – along with the joys and shit days it brings with it.

 

Manhattan and Brooklyn in Pictures

I don’t feel like I’ve been here long enough to give you a true guide to the city. I’ve barely touched the surface of what’s on offer here, preferring instead to enjoy the slow life of casual exploration. Day-by-day, I cover new ground. In the mornings I write about things like The Art of Getting Lost or what Belonging means to me, and in the afternoons I explore new streets and wander down fresh avenues. I snap away at anything that catches my eye, or my heart, making sure I turn these magical moments into something a little more permanent. I take time to stop and absorb my surroundings for a few minutes before venturing on to the next neighbourhood.

Here are just a few of the pictures I’ve taken. You can find them, and a few more, on my Instagram where I’m documenting my summer in NYC.

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