Rallying in Kielder Forest

Pirelli International Rally, Kielder UK

Photo by ColobusYeti

My day out yesterday started with driving along a muddy rutted dirt track past no entry signs and into deep forest.  We weren’t misbehaving though!  We were seeking out the Pirelli International Rally being held in Kielder Forest.  Yep that is how I spent my Saturday, watching cars in the middle of Wark Forest and getting covered in dust.  Phillip (aka ColobusYeti) was shooting some photos for our stock portfolio so I thought I would tag along for the experience.

We found a spot in the ‘car park’ or on the side of the dirt track as it was in reality and set off to find a good viewing spot.  Facilities were sparse i.e the toilets were the forest and seats were mossy covered stumps if you fancied a sit down…but hey you’re in the middle of a forest and boy were the surroundings awesomely beautiful.  Wark Forest is truly stunning and sitting there in our little Bongo having our lunch in the quiet between the two sections listening to the birds and the breeze through the trees was my idea of happiness.

That was actually my most favourite thing about the day (shush ~ don’t tell the rally drivers!).  The noise and speed of the cars zooming past was pretty impressive and I did enjoy watching them, just kinda felt that it is probably a whole lot more exciting for those in the car!

To be honest I was more excited about the fact we realised one of our photos had been used by Pirelli for a news article about the ceremonial finish being in our home town of Brampton!

Brampton Moot Hall early in the morning

Photo by ColobusYeti

So a different yet rather enjoyable way to spend my Saturday.  What did you do with yours?!

Remembering to Live

 


Yes, you and I will die one day.

But before that day comes: let us live

John Pavlovitz, On the Day I Die


This article by John Pavlovitz recently popped up in my Facebook memories.  I remember reading it for the first time and feeling the impact of it so much that I shared it (a rather rare occurrence for me).  I still feel that impact each and every time I read his words.  It gives me that little nudge I so often need to focus on what really matters in life…to live.

Being someone with anxiety, I spend much of my time in the past or in the future, dwelling on what has passed or worrying about what is to come.  I am pretty rubbish at living in the now, enjoying what and who I have in my life.  I get so caught up in small and quite frankly insignificant things that I forget to focus on what really matters to me.  Years of my life were spent trying to live a certain life, to be a certain type of person fitting with the expectation of society.  It took serious anxiety problems and a whole heap of soul searching to see that type of life wasn’t for me.

And yet I still struggle to let go of so many worries and issues of the type listed in the article, things that really won’t matter when my life is over.  I know that in that instant when life becomes death, all those things that have caused me stress and anxiety will be over and no longer matter.  All the material belongings I sometimes feel I am drowning in yet struggle to give up will no longer be of consequence to me.  All those plans made, arguments I won or lost, things I never did, all the panics and stresses I have had ~ all will suddenly no longer have an ounce of meaning or importance.  The world will keep turning, social media will carry on regardless and I will no longer care about what I may miss out on.

Quite frankly I don’t want to wait until I die for this to happen.  My life has been so controlled by my anxieties, worries, fears and how things are supposed to be and I am tired of living like that.  I want to live a life that makes me happy, that allows me to appreciate the wonder of being alive.  I want to spend time with those who matter to me because the article is right, when someone you care about dies, the one thing you really want to have is more time with them.  And you can’t.  So I am going to try to remember to worry less about those things that will no longer matter or are beyond my control, the things that are stopping me living now.  I am going to enjoy who and what I really care about.  I am going to live now because one day I will die and then it will be too late.  And I will read this article again and again every time I need a reminder.

5 ways I try to reduce my impact on planet Earth

Earth Day Flag

Earth Day 2017 was on Saturday…and I have a confession to make.  I knew and did nothing in any way to support or mark it.  If you’ve not heard about Earth Day, it is an annual event held on 22nd April to push for policy changes and to encourage people to be more environmentally aware.

I find it funny that I let it slip past without even acknowledging it as looking after this earth, this planet we call home, is something that really matters to me.  We only have one planet (okay some day we may find somewhere among the stars yet for now this is it) and it doesn’t feel like we give it the respect it deserves.  From the big actions of governments and corporations to the small actions of individuals, every single one counts to the welfare of our home.  And to me, the balance of these actions is sitting way over in the negative at the moment.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means perfect and know that there is so much I could still do to make a difference.  I do try though to make a difference no matter how small that difference appears to be as I am a firm believer in the small adding up to the big.  The Earth provides us with a home, with what we need to breathe and live, with beauty and wonder ~ the least we could do is try to help it out rather than take it for granted.

Here are the 5 ways in which I take small steps to reduce my impact on my Earth.

1. Reducing ~ ever since I went travelling on our Our Big Adventure, my attitude to having stuff has changed dramatically.  Returning home to all our belongings felt like we were suddenly drowning, weighted down by it all.  Why on earth did we have so much?  Now I think carefully before buying anything ~ do I really want it? is it portable? is it well made and will it last? (the buy cheap and throwaway culture is real pet hate of mine).  I have cut down what I own, being very careful about what happens to the stuff I no longer want.  Which brings me on to….

2. Reusing ~ I try and reuse everything I can as much as I can.  I sew holes up in socks and other clothing (badly but it is the effort that counts surely?!), use boxes from internet orders for storing things rather than adding to the stuff I own by buying ‘special’ storage boxes and have reusable food containers, drinks bottle and shopping bags.

3. Recycling ~ now as much as I try to reduce and reuse, some things do have to have to be got rid of.  So if I can recycle in any way, I do.  I pass clothes and household things on to a charity shop or sell them so they can be reused by others.  If something can be recycled either kerbside or at the dump, well it is (I am known to take bottles and receipts home with me so I can recycle them if I am out and about!).

4. Eating a plant based diet ~ I have recently adopted a plant based diet, partly for animal welfare and partly for health reasons.  What I didn’t realise though was the environmental benefit to it too.  Eating a plant based diet uses less water, land and energy, produces much less CO2 emissions and methane as well as resulting in less pollution.  If this isn’t for you though, try having a meat or dairy free day or meal once a week.  Every small action makes a difference remember!  If you are interested, a good place to start for inspiration or advice is Veganuary.

5. Looking after my environment ~ or maybe a better heading would be ‘general things I do that didn’t fit elsewhere’.  I pick up litter on my walks as much as possible, if I remember I take a bag with me and sadly often fill it.  Lights go off in unused rooms as does the heating and I’ll wear a jumper rather than turn the heating up.  I used to walk places if I could and still prefer too though though that is a little more tricky now I live in the middle of nowhere!

So these are the small ways I try to make a difference ~ I would love to hear your tips and actions you do to help look after this rather splendid planet of ours.  Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Anxiety and laughter are not mutually exclusive (daily post prompt)

Headshot taken by Colobus Yeti Photography

Photo by ColobusYeti

People often seem surprised that I have anxiety with the occasional side helping of depression as they often will see me smiling and laughing.  I use the word ‘surprised’, perhaps sometimes disbelief is more appropriate to describe what I see in their faces or hear in their voices.  It seems that to some people unless you are sad or panicked 100% of the time, you clearly cannot have any difficulties and are simply exaggerating or making it up.

Well I do chuckle, I do laugh, I do enjoy things…and I do have anxiety that at times has been fairly crippling.  I do little in my life that is not affected by my anxiety yet, just as someone seriously ill can find fun and smiles in their life, I can also find plenty to bring laughter to my life.

So don’t judge the photos I post on my social media and think ‘things clearly aren’t that bad’.  Those photos are the happy moments in my world, the times when things seem good and not bleak like life can sometimes be.  I choose not to share on Facebook or Instagram when times are tough not because I want my life to appear wonderful, I do it because for me that is not the place.   And I’m not really sure a photo of me laying on the sofa aimlessly staring out of the window would actually be that interesting…

It is said laughing is good for the soul and it certainly does help mine.  It reminds me how much good there is in this life.  Laughter and anxiety are not mutually exclusive states.

Chuckle

An Introvert in Orlando

Jeep on deserted beach at Fort de Soto, Florida

Our jeep on a quiet beach at Fort de Soto

So I promised more news on my trip to Orlando in my last post and here it is!  As the internet already has heaps of things on what there is to see and do there (hint it’s way more than a 3 week vacation could possibly fit in ~ I don’t think we did more than pass brief greetings with Orlando), I thought I would write that post I promised on my experience as an anxious introvert in a very extroverted place.

Orlando is awesome and has so many levels to it beyond the theme parks and bright lights that I think most people could find things they like about it.  Being completely honest I was quite doubtful before we went whether I would like it, believing that it wasn’t my ‘type’ of place.  Yet I did like it and I enjoyed being there.  I found an openness about the people and the surroundings that I loved, interesting art spots, fantastic food and wild spaces that called out for exploration if we’d only had the time.

Airboat ride on Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida

Stunning open space of Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee

Yet Orlando is not without its negatives and as an introvert who finds attention, planning, crowds, noise and lack of space anxiety inducing, it is quite a challenging place too.  Before we went, we kept hearing how you needed to plan what you were doing in minute detail for everything from rides to meals.  Now my name is Joanna and I am a planner.  Planning has been my downfall in the past, I have over-planned time and time again, struggling to get the perfect plan and not coping when things did not follow that plan.  It has been a core aspect of my anxiety for many years and spoilt many a thing for me so nowadays I try to be a little less planned.  This insistence on the need to plan to have a good holiday…well it made me quite anxious.  Beyond reading guide books once, booking 1 Disney restaurant (I was not missing out on the Winnie the Pooh character buffet!) and a little research on vegan eating or motion sickness on rides, we didn’t really plan too much.  And guess what, we had a damn fine holiday!  Okay maybe we didn’t see everything that we wanted to, however my life feels no less complete for this and I stressed less than if I had a list of planned things to tick off.  If theme parks are your thing and you only have 2 weeks in which to fit in as much as you possibly can, I suppose you would want to plan but for me this wasn’t an issue and I felt better for doing my Orlando holiday my way.

Crowds at Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Though not as busy as it can get, we were in Orlando during spring break and there was a big sporting event on so it was way busier than my comfort level usually sits at.  At times I did find the crowds of people overwhelming and felt in need of escape.  I struggle with the raised noise of lots of people talking and still am not really sure how to deal with this other than simply letting the panic feeling pass.  Combine this with a lack of solitary quiet time that a busy holiday often results in and my capacity for coping with others suffered.  Time on my own is when I calm my thoughts, process all that is whirling around my head and recharge my ‘spending time with other people’ levels.  Less quiet time = tense and crotchety me.  This ‘may’ have happened in Orlando…sorry Phillip and mum….

One thing that really did have me worried before we went was how I would cope with all the attention I was positive would thrown my way by enthusiastic people dressed as characters or staff in general.  I’m not quite sure why I expected such an avalanche of attention and was seriously relieved that it wasn’t generally the case.  Universal didn’t seem to really bother you unless you went out of your way to involve yourself in a character greet or street performance.  Disney do give you a certain level of extra attention though staff seemed to be fairly good at realising if you are not someone who wants the whole full on fuss.  Our character encounters were few and far between as they weren’t really wandering around accosting unwary people and I wasn’t queuing up for photos with someone dressed up in a costume (I seriously am crap at role play, my brain simply won’t let me get over the fact that the character is not real!).  We did two character meals in the end ~ one by accident! ~ and that was an odd experience especially as we had no children in our group to use as an excuse.  My way of coping?  I decided that being awkward about hugging a stranger in a furry costume would only make the whole situation even more awkward.  So I hugged as good as I could!

I said in my post whilst in Orlando that being there was like a roller coaster and it truly was.  There were the lows of the challenges doing anything with anxiety usually brings and there were the whopping highs of fireworks, air boats, jeep driving, animals, amazing vegan foods and seeing my mum have an amazing time.  And at the end was that happy feeling of ‘I want to do that all again’.

Happy people at Universal, Florida

Sakura, springtime and reflection

_1150321_Processed_20150324

I appear to have got distracted from my planned next post!  I fully intended to write to you a little bit about my trip to Orlando…and then I kept seeing photos popping up on my social media of all the sakura (cherry blossom) in Japan right now and I felt I wanted to write on that instead.  Pinky promise that some posts on my vacation will be coming up real soon though.

I love all the seasons for different reasons.  They are part of the cycle of life for me, they remind me how things start and end, how the world keeps turning and that life goes on regardless.  Winter is a time of snuggling, crisp days and woolly hats.  Autumn is full of glorious colours and piles of leaves made for kicking.  Even hot uncomfortable summer (assuming we get one in the UK that is!) when I can’t sleep or go outside because it is too sunny has bluer than blue skies and house martins sweeping overhead  Spring though holds an extra special spot for me and every single year I am reminded how much I love it.

 

Yellow daffodils in spring

Photo by ColobusYeti

This time of year is when that part of nature that has been having a jolly nice winter snooze wakes itself up and everything springs back into life (pun intended!).  Seeing all the crocuses, tulips and daffodils makes me smile and feel all sorts of happiness inside.  There is such joy in them.  Buds appearing on the trees and bushes delight me more than the leaves that will take their place.  There is an energy that I feel at this time of year that lifts me up and makes me happy to be alive in a way that no other season really does.

Cherry blossom sparks off all these happy feels big time and I love seeing the trees erupting in that all too brief moment of fragile beauty.  It is a stunning sight wherever it happens in the world yet nowhere seems to take it quite to heart in the way the Japanese do.  Sakura (the Japanese word for cherry blossom) seems to be something all Japanese love and I have been lucky to experience cherry blossom season there several times giving me a huge appreciation of how important it is to them.  People stop to admire the blooms wherever they appear.  Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties spring up in parks, by canals and in graveyards.  Social media is full of snaps of cherry blossoms and shops or restaurants awash with sakura themed items.  It seems to take over daily life from the eagerly awaited first sightings of blossom until the final bloom has died.

The Japanese love for cherry blossom runs much deeper though than it simply being something pretty to look at and it is something that really rings true for me.  They value cherry blossom not simply for its simple beauty or for the festivities that accompany it, they also find a message in its short yet brilliant existence.  It is a reminder that life is brief and fleeting.  Life slips by so very quickly without people really noticing or accepting that one day death will come for them and cherry blossom reminds us that life is short, amazing, precious and something that we need to enjoy, take note of and be thankful for.  Life is for living and for me, spring serves as the perfect reminder for this.  So next time you see some blossom, take a moment to consider our fragile yet awesome existence.

macro shot of cherry blossom or sakura

Photo by ColobusYeti