Really Listening To Yourself


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.


Success and Happiness

We each have different ideas of what success means to us. It could be something related to our careers, or perhaps to our personal lives. It can be something as big as getting the job you’ve always dreamt of, or something as small as cracking a sudoku. For me, the line between success and happiness has always been blurred. Don’t ask me where this idea came from, but I felt happiness depended on being successful.

As a teenager, I always knew I wanted to move to a city. Coming from the countryside where life is slow, laid back and usually un-eventful, I always dreamt of a place that was fast-paced and had everything going on. Bright lights and all that jazz. I craved a contrast to the life I knew. In my mind, being successful meant leaving the Valleys and making it somewhere, as someone.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve this. I used to think that this blog could only be a success if it was known, if traffic was high and if people recognised me for it. Success used to mean making it with the blogging elite, but the truth is I’ve never felt like a blogger. I just loved writing.

But things change. When you’ve had tough times in life, when you’ve left what you’re used to behind, your outlook on everything changes. I know now that happiness shouldn’t have to rely on success. Being successful doesn’t come from being someone, and being happy doesn’t have to rely on being successful. My very definition of success has changed.

This blog is one of my biggest successes purely because it’s something I’ve created, not because of how many hits it gets each month. It’s something I’ve put time and effort into and I’m proud of it. I write because I have the right, and not for the recognition.

That’s not to say I don’t have goals, or don’t see the importance in ambition. Obviously, being recognised for work as a published writer will always be a huge personal success and reaching key moments in my career will too, but so will fighting through the day when my anxiety levels are at their highest. My 6 year relationship with my boyfriend, baking pretty good scones the first time round and staying true to myself are what makes me feel successful.

Weirdly, now I live in a city, I crave the slow, dreamy life again. I’ve realised being successful is about being happy and not the other way round, and it’s about celebrating the little things as well as the big, and that’s quite enough for me.