Jumping = Life


Day 4 – A Story in a Single Image


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Today I needed to pick a photo out of four and use it as a starting point, a springboard into a story, poem or personal thoughts.  All four photos had things I could say about them yet this one spoke to me in a way the others did not.

There is such care-free abandon in that jump, such freedom, such joy.  It makes me happy that there is such joy in the world and yet at the same time it makes me feel so sad and so lonely.  Moments like that seem so rare in my life, my life which feels so controlled and worried about.  I want that type of feeling, I want to gleefully leap into pools, dance down the street and laugh with my friends.  I want to feel such freedom rather than the feeling of constraint and tension that seem to accompany my day to day life.

Wanting and doing though are two very different things.  The very things that mean my life feels it is missing these moments are the very things that put barriers up to stop me moving towards such a place of, if you’ll excuse the language, not giving a fuck and grasping life with both hands.  Every movement towards a life that will bring me joy seems to be so hard fought, involves such effort.  And I am tired, tired of this constant battle with myself.  The me that is so scared, so worried, so doubting vs. the me that sees such joy, such fun, such pleasure in the world and wants it in my world.  There needs to be some agreement, some compromise…because that person in the photograph, that is me, I can feel it deep inside.

Home is everywhere and it is anywhere


Day Three – One-Word Inspiration: Chosen prompt ‘home’


Until 3 years ago, my view of what made somewhere my ‘home’ was very different.  My home was one place, the flat we owned, the flat filled with all our things and stuff we had accumulated over the years.  It was constant and it was fixed.  Then the world changed for me and with it, so did my sense of what makes a home.

An anxiety related ever-shrinking world and a growing sense of ‘is this all there is to our lives’ led to the decision that we needed to make a fairly brutal change to our lives and really push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.  We needed to leave home.  So we sold our flat and went travelling.  This changed us in many ways and it fundamentally changed our outlook on what makes somewhere our home.  We lived in our small camper for several months touring around our home country.  Views changed, accents changed, weather changed ~ our camper changed into our home.

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When that time was over, another camper became our home all the way over in New Zealand.  It was rented and for only 5 weeks yet within days it was our home, our sanctuary, our life.

Motohome in New Zealand

Photo by ColobusYeti

All change again to Tokyo where we lived in a small room for 6 months with only a few bits and pieces to call ours.  And yes it became home almost immediately (and still is the place we have most felt at home).

Returning to the UK, we moved to a different part of the country and whilst struggling with the fact that our life had become stationary once more, our place felt like home.  Travelling changed how we viewed the word ‘home’.  Home is a feeling not a place, you don’t need to own it or fill it full of your things.  Home is everywhere and it is anywhere.

Everyday Inspiration: Day One


Day One: I write because…


Why am I here?  Who am I?  Why do I blog?

I am starting to explore the drive behind my blogging and work out what exactly it is I want to blog about rather than the kinda random approach I have at the moment.  So I have signed up to a few of the courses offered by WordPress to start learning more about blogging and myself as a blogger.  I try to write everyday in the morning, most of what I write never sees the light of day though some of my morning musings do go on to become posts on here.  What I often struggle with is what to write about and it all too often ends up as me using it like a journal.  Not a bad thing in itself yet I don’t feel like it is expanding my writing in the way I would like.  So I am starting with the ‘Everyday Inspiration’ course and starting at the beginning….

I write because….

Why do I write?  I write for a multitude of reasons.  I write because there is so much going on in my head that I need to get it out somewhere sometimes.  Because my anxiety drives me to it.  I write because I love words, I enjoy finding ways of describing the world around me and the feelings within me.  I feel I have things I want to share with other people, to help people not feel as alone as I did when my anxiety was at its worse.  I write because I want to share my experiences, to show my travels and how the world is a varied, interesting place.  I write because I am a writer and I want to keep improving, developing and sharing.

I blog because….

Why do I blog?  Again there is a whole heap of reasons why I blog, some selfish and some not so much.  I blog in the hope that I will entertain, inform, encourage and help.  I share my thoughts and experiences to find connections with others.  I blog because part of me wants validation from others that my writing is good although I know this really needs to come from within.  I blog as a way of advertising that I can write to potential employers, to build a portfolio.  Most of all though I blog because I enjoy it, I am a blogger.

 

I intend to complete each daily task on this course, some will make it on here….and some won’t.  So for a while there may be a little more of a mixture of topics on here than normal.  I hope you will enjoy them and discovering more about me as I discover more about me as a writer.

If you have any tips on daily writing practice or how you develop your writing, I’d love to hear your tips!

Vegan Adventures in Orlando


 

“The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters

 


Whilst away in Orlando this was the blog post I was really excited about doing on my return!  I took lots and lots and lots (get the idea that it was lots?!) of photos of what I was eating and couldn’t wait to share with you all what I had discovered on my trip.  I think all those photos were my downfall though!  I kept looking at how many there were to sort through and kept putting it off.  At long last though I have given myself a talking to and finally sat down to write this post.  Or should that say ‘these posts’…I have so much to talk about Disney wise that I think I will briefly touch on it here and then give you all the details in another post.  How does that sound?

Having only made the switch to a plant-based diet in January (I took part in Veganuary having been a vegetarian for 20 years and then kept on going!), I was quite nervous about how Orlando would treat me…would it be kind and offer lots of food or would it be a mean old Orlando where I would have to live on fries?  Especially as I find it really hard asking things in UK restaurants anyway thanks to my anxiety and hadn’t really eaten out since making the switch.  Happily on the whole Orlando was a lovely friend to me though we did have the odd falling out…

 

Theme Parks:

Disney World was on the whole pretty damn awesome and you’ll see exactly why when I write part 2 of this post (I promise it will follow on real soon!).

We were completely spoilt staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we had the super amazing buffet at Boma complete with chefs that really seemed to know their thing about dietary issues.  The quick service Mara also had staff who would happily make changes for you or get a chef from next door to do something special for you.

Vegan Mickey waffles

Vegan Mickey waffles!

The parks themselves were a bit of a mixed bunch.  Magic Kingdom and Epcot seemed to provide the most choice whilst Hollywood Studios was one of the times me and Orlando fell out.  Lets just say I was relieved to have snacks with me.  Animal Kingdom had reasonable choice, I think I was simply unlucky in not being near anything at lunch when I didn’t have the time to go walking elsewhere thanks to a Nemo reservation.  We lucked out when we made the trip out to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds by getting the legendary Chef TJ (give vegan at Disney a google and I guarantee he will pop up!).  Added to this the rather big choice at Disney Springs ~ well me and Disney got on very fine indeed generally.

Now in stark contrast to Disney, Universal was where me and Orlando fell out.  Inside both parks, the choice for anybody with any form of dietary requirements was very poor (words from the mouth of a member of staff).  The Harry Potter areas had a few options at the Three Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron that would allow you to cobble together a meal however neither fitted in with where we were when we wanted to eat so I made do with some fries and a Lara bar that I had with me (I miss you Lara Bars!).  Outside the parks in City Walk, there was actually a few options ~ hurrah!  We choose to try out the Mexican restaurant Antojitos LINK rather than the Italian Vivos as we were a little fed up of pizza (I know!  How is that even possible?!) and had some tasty authentic food accompanied by a mariachi band.  Our server was pretty helpful with my choices and I had the Vegetarianas Enchiladas without the queso fresco plus some nachos with salsa.  Yummy meal…just a shame we had to leave the parks to get it.  I was so hungry by the time we got there, I forgot to take photos…

vegan rainbow Dippin Dots at Universal, Orlando

Look at that happy little face!

Universal did slightly redeem itself by being the place to introduce me to Dippin Dots (again in City Walk).  These little balls of flash-frozen tasty deliciousness were one of my favourite discoveries in Orlando.  Not all flavours are vegan though there are a whole heap that are ~ Liberty Ice, Black Ice, Sour Blue Razz, Orange Ice, Blue Raspberry Ice, Lemon Ice, Lime Ice, Strawberry Ice, Mango-Pineapple Sorbet, Strawberry Sorbet and my personal favourite Rainbow Ice.

 

Outside the parks:

We did do some eating outside the parks too though not enough if the standard of what we did eat is anything to go by!

Compared to the supermarkets over here, the big grocery stores in Orlando were a treasure trove of goodies.  From meals to snacks, the choice was amazing and slightly overwhelming!  It was way too easy to leave laden down with crisps (chips), snacks bars, vegan cheeses, hummus and tasty salads.  Whole Foods Market near Universal was my favourite with its hot food and salad bar which you can stuff…I mean place a small amount… into containers to take away.  Oh and they had seriously delicious vegan doughnuts!

On one Sunday we made our way to Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando for the farmers market held there every Sunday.  It feels a world away from the theme parks and was a lovely relaxing place to stroll and hang out with locals.  There was stack loads of choice including a really tantalising Mexican stall which I still wish I’d tried.  In the end though we all ended up at the hot dog stall where I had a tasty vegan dog with almost all the trimmings which I followed up with grilled corn and a vegan ice cream.

Vegan hot dog at farmers market in Lake Eola Park, Orlando

Funnily enough I found a really enjoyable salad way out at Kennedy Space Centre.  I wasn’t holding out much hope for vegan food there and the first food places we came across seemed to support this.  I was about to resign myself to doing a Universal i.e. fries followed by my own snacks when the Orbit Cafe saved the day with its build your own salad!  So I choose a base of mixed leaves and then all the veggie options (other than mushrooms…still working on eating them) plus a few extras from the topping bar.  A tasty surprise to find!

Build your own salad, Orbit Cafe, Kennedy Space Centre, vegan, orlando

By far though the highlight of my vegan experience in Orlando was eating at the truly amazing Ethos ~ heck I’d go back simply to eat there again!  Oh my what can I say about this place that does it justice?!  Set in the artsy and historical area of Winter Park,  Ethos is a 100% vegan restaurant serving gorgeous home-style food that will satisfy anyone, whatever they eat.  All 3 of us (1 vegan and 2 omnivores) rolled out of the restaurant filled to the brim with good food and coffee.  Between us we demolished sauasage rolls, blackened tempeh with rice, beans and veggies, an all American burger and a chickun bruschetta sandwich followed by carrot cake, chocolate amaretto mousse and an espresso topped vanilla ice cream.  As I say, we rolled out the place!

(check out the menus on the link above and get ready to drool!)

Sorry the photos aren’t quite the best….the downside of sitting on a small table by the window on a sunny day!

Wow talking about all that food has made me real hungry and wanting to go back to try out more tasty food there.  The wilds of Cumbria is not the natural habitat of a vegan!  So have you been to Orlando?  How did you find it food-wise?

Part 2 of my vegan adventures in Orlando to follow…

 

 

 

 

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 🙂