{Insightful Sunday} Self-Acceptance

If you looked at old photos of me from about ten years ago, back when I was a fresh faced eighteen year old, you'd be hard pushed to say that much has really changed between then and now.  Yeah, okay, maybe a few light creases have formed on my face here and there and yep, there's definitely no denying that I now sport a sprinkling of grey hair throughout my locks, but in truth, that's really about it.

What has changed though, is that these days, when I look in the mirror, I genuinely really like what I see.  Which sadly hasn't always been the case, especially not in terms of my body weight and shape.  Although, if I'm completely honest, I have always quite liked my face, which maybe some people would perceive as vanity, but I don't really see why, 'cause I mean, why should it be a negative thing to admit that you're happy with your physical self?  Shouldn't we all be?

Of course, I do still find myself struggling to entirely love everything; like it's hard not to get hung up at times on those pesky fat cells, harbouring at the tops of my thighs, which continually seem intent on tormenting me, or that stubborn patch of cellulite, that cruelly chose to develop far too early on in my teens and now languishes beneath my bottom, occasionally causing a wince (especially under the harshness of a fitting room strobe light), but I have at least now learnt to accept them.  Just as I've equally learnt to accept and almost appreciate my 'child bearing' wide set hips, my broad shoulders and my less than pert B cups (that look more like As).

In fact, having generally learnt to appreciate my natural self over the past few years, I've started to strip everything back a little.  These days, I probably only wear makeup maybe a handful of times in the month, my hair hasn't seen a colourist in well over two years now and I've even refrained from tweezing my eyebrows (bar a wild straggler or two) for the past few months, in an attempt to regain some of the hair long lost to teenage over-plucking.

After years of looking in the mirror and brutally judging my reflection, I guess I'm simply choosing to spend less time self-loathing and more time trying to nourish, nurture and just love what I've got.  This body is after all, the only vessel I've got in this lifetime.  So, it's probably in my best interests to keep it going for as long as is possible.  Which is why I now prefer to eat pretty clean, having cut out as much processed food and carbonated drinks as is possible.  Although, admittedly, I am still a complete chocoholic, despite numerous attempts to quit my addiction.  I try to convince myself that if it's organic and 70% dark chocolate, it simply must be packed full of essential antioxidants, B vitamins and happiness boosting, serotonin releasing, sugar laced caffeine.  So it's totally fine, right?

Anyway, now that I dedicate my week to six classes of sweat inducing vinyasa yoga, I feel as though it's perfectly justifiable to have at least one vice!  I mean, I am a T-total, non-smoking vegan, what more do you want!?

In any case, life is far too short to spend it picking yourself apart, but equally, you have to acknowledge that it's too long not to take care of yourself.  So whether you're trim and toned, curvaceous and squishy, flat chested or buxom, male or female, young or old, it's time to simply accept what you can't change and change what you can't accept.  Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder and right now, you're the only one looking in the mirror!

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{Insightful Sunday} Awakening

Do you ever just get to that point, whereby you no longer know why you're doing something?  It's like, you've been doing it for so long, that it's simply become habitual.  Without even realising, you gradually stopped thinking about what you were doing, as your brain slowly switched onto autopilot.  Then, one day, you suddenly look up and find yourself wondering, "How exactly did I get here?  Why am I even here?  Am I actually happy?"

Despite everything I've been through, everything I've done, I still somehow find myself getting complacent at times.  I get up, I go to yoga, I buy my groceries, I meet my friends, I eat some cake and then the day is gone.  The week often goes by in much the same fashion and just like that, before you know it, a quarter of a year has passed and what, pray tell has been achieved?  What has changed?  How have I changed?

The thing is, it is precisely this comfort, this routine, which is so subtle in its suffocation, that it will often go by undetected, only occasionally being exposed before it's too late and the damage of our wasted years is done.

In reality, it's not just about the time we waste on our virtual lives, wiling away our precious hours, attempting to attain virtual acclaim, but it is also about all those moments, both fleeting and lengthy, whereby we fail to really even be present in them.  Those times when you arrive at your destination, yet, can't remember the journey, because it was so routine, you stopped even observing it.  Or the food you ate, but aren't able to comment on the taste of, because you were multitasking at the time.

The more routine our lives become, the less apart of them we are.  The more secure we are in our stability, the less inclined we are to push ourselves to grow.  Yet, if we're not really 'here' and we're not attempting to evolve, then surely we've disintegrated into the nothingness.

I mean, it's no wonder people have drug and alcohol related addictions and it's in no way surprising that so many people battle with food, with their bodies, with themselves.  Who wouldn't, when wading around in the nothingness, lost in the mindless routine!  In all truth though, how is anyone supposed to find fulfillment, happiness and purpose if their experiences in life are so limited by consistently doing/seeing/feeling the same things, time after time?

It's when we're shook, when we're pushed, when we're afraid, when we're uncomfortable, when we seek out the new, the unheard, the unseen, the unfathomable, that we truly begin to scratch at the surface of what our life has to offer.  It takes letting go of what we have, in order for our hands to be free to grasp onto something more.  It's time, now is the time to let go.

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{Insightful Sunday} 2015 - The Year of Moving On

If 2014 was the year of letting go, then 2015 has got to be all about moving the hell on.

It's true what they say, a lot can happen in a year.  In fact, last Tuesday, I met up with my Sicilian friends, who happened to be in town for the New Year celebrations.  I hadn't seen them since I last left Sicily, which feels like only months ago, but when we worked it out, it has actually been over a year!  Sometimes I honestly can't believe how much time just seems to fly right by!

Looking back, it's safe to say that 2014 was certainly a nomadic year; in January, I was back in Kent with mère and Mr Pig, after taking a break for the holidays.  With the festivities over, I traveled up to Reading for the month, in order to help out a friend, who was packing up to move to Mexico.  Come February, I finally returned to my travels, heading back out to Italy, visiting Pisa, Florence, Venice, Verona and Milan and happily making friends and experiencing a fair few disastrous love affairs along the way, before I ultimately left again to return to France.  I spent a few days playing chess down in Nice, took a short trip to Monaco with a Chilean friend I'd made and then eventually headed back over to Chabanais for a fortnight, to debrief with friends.

By March I found myself living in the idyllic Dordogne, volunteering at a horse sanctuary, but alas, after two months, the country calm just wasn't enough to satisfy my wandering heart and after getting the call of the wild, I once again flitted back off to Paris for a few nights at the end of April, where I heavily indulged my romanticism, before flying through Stockholm and ending up in Berlin.  After one gloriously sunny month of cycling and cake eating, I returned to Rome again in June, this time for work and after four scorchingly hot weeks there, flew back to Berlin, determined to finally lay down some permanent roots.

It certainly wasn't easy and there were some really intense highs and lows along the way.  In actuality, it was one of those exact low points that made me pack up again, to return to England for a few weeks, at the beginning of October.  I spent fourteen days back in Kent, soaking up the company of my favourite people, but when it came time to go home, I just knew I wasn't ready to yet and so, I headed back to France instead, to stay with my friends over in Chabanais.  With a book to finish writing at the time, I stowed myself away in the country for a full month, before I finally made the journey back to Berlin.  Finally, after twelve months of flights, trains, car journeys, bag packing and bed hopping, I thankfully managed to end the year in Berlin, in my own space, bag fully unpacked.

In all honesty though, over the course of 2014, I spent a lot of time reminiscing about my home by the English coast and all the things I'd had to let go of, both materially and emotionally.  The freedom, fluidity and sometimes the brutality of the year, had forced me to truly rediscover my sense of self, overcome a lot of my fears and find my voice but now that journey is over and it's the beginning of a new one.  Having dealt with all that 2014 had to offer, I think it's time to make a fresh start and create something altogether new.

I left England eighteen months ago and in my mind, I thought I would go backpacking for a year and eventually end up living in Paris, married, with child, running my vegan eatery and writing books.  Never for one moment, would I have imagined that I would be sat here, living in Berlin, leading the kind of life I lead.  Which I think just goes to show, that ultimately, you can have a plan, but life might just take you on a detour to get there, or occasionally it might just reroute you to somewhere better.  So whilst my heart still occasionally beats for that Parisian dream, for now, I'm just gonna give myself over to whatever this year brings.  Embrace it, enjoy it and move the hell on.

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