On resilience.

resilience definition

Resilience is something I’ve thought about a lot recently.

I find that when I’m in an emotionally or physically hard time, I think about what I’ve overcome.

The first time I really recognised my resilience was after a car crash years ago. I should’ve been far more damaged physically than I was, but I wasn’t. My body protected itself at the time and healed. I imagine all that hurt and pain slowly knotting together and covering over with a scar tissue of resilience. When I think back to the accident I feel it all over again, but it’s less painful each time. The bruises faded, the cuts scarred – my body recognised the hurt, but it healed and got me back to myself, albeit with the occasional twinge to remind me that I’m not invincible. When I hurt myself, which happens rarely thankfully, I remember that I’ll heal, that my body can fix itself.

I think about this during yoga, when we breathe into the joints, into the muscles that hurt. That it hurts now, but that my body will become more resilient to this, it will stop hurting and aching and next time it’ll be easier. I ease into the discomfort knowing that I’m building a tolerance whilst building my muscles – knowing that my body’s been through worse and come out stronger on the other side.

But then there’s emotional resilience. Recently I’ve been spending time with people who remember different parts of me – more on that another time – but when they recount experiences that I’ve forgotten it makes me think about how my brain has stopped me from remembering the weeks spent with a guy, or the time one literally picked me up in a bar. I’m often aware of how my brain protects me from thinking about things that emotionally distress me – like the loss of people close to me – but I hadn’t thought about it in the context of men.

When I first truly had my heartbroken I was 21. I held onto that relationship so tightly that I remembered everything with painful clarity. The way he held me, told me he loved me, the cute names he called me, the way he stroked my face and my hair, the day he told me he wasn’t happy, the week leading up to him leaving, the day he left and the look on his face. When I type that now I still get a lump in my throat. It took me an agonisingly long time to get over him, even now I think if I saw him walking down the street my heart would shatter and I’d lose my breath, but I’ve managed to love other people and be with other people since. I am more resilient as a result of feeling that heartbreak so harshly.

I can tell that I’m more resilient as I uncover truths that my heart and brain have hidden from me. Things that it would’ve hurt to remember, I don’t remember. My brain wraps them in this emotional scar tissue for long enough so that when I’m reminded, it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Knowing that I’ve made it through physical and emotional trauma gives me strength. I’m in a situation currently that hurts me daily in an often light, but occasionally severe, way but knowing what I’ve been through leaves me feeling comfortable that I’ll come through the other side. I think we’re like those thirty centimetre rulers that we had in school, we bend and bend and bend under the weight of our problems and pain but then something magic happens – we spring back, stronger than ever, ready to get on with our lives.

Humans bounce back; we hurt, we protect ourselves, we heal and we move on. My heart heals itself with the eternal optimism of the romantic that I am, and I’m grateful for that every day.

The comeback is always stronger than the setback.

Making time for me.

I know right? I’m single, my time is my own, I do what I want etc. but yoga is time when I focus solely on me. Sure every now and again my brain drifts to the heartbreak I’m feeling or the frustrations I have with work or the love I have for my family but mostly I try to focus.

I breathe. I focus on breathing into where it’s uncomfortable, I find strength and ease.

The pose begins when you want to leave it.

On my retreat, my amazing teacher Sasha helped me to develop a personal practice that I could do daily. It’s created to help me build core and upper body strength.

And crucially it’s designed to be under twenty minutes. I do this daily whilst I wait for my porridge to cook, that’s a dead twenty minutes for me usually because I don’t want to do my make up until I’ve eaten breakfast – same for my hair, so instead I yoga.

I created a hyperlapsed video of the flow I do each morning so that I can watch it back and critique myself and my alignment. The flow encompasses sun salutations, lunges with knee kisses, triangle, shoulder stand, plough… My favourites. Also at the end there’s some head stand prep… I’ll get there soon.

Sharing that video gives me mad nerves though.

The video is for me to look back and see how far I’ve come, to check my shoulder stand in particular – and I know at one point you can see my stomach and it makes me feel ill that I’m sharing it. That’s vulnerability right? But I want to share it.

Because getting bendy is my favourite thing in the world, and I do it for me.

I want to be able to do all the inversions and pigeon comfortably every damn day. I can see in myself and in my body the progress that I’ve made over the last year, but I’ve still got a long way to go – the beauty is in the journey. Just the other day when preparing for Wild Thing (u make my heart sing) when Claudia said that we should see if we could touch our neighbour with our toes and I could! Weird, but I’d never been able to before and feeling the space I’d created in my body over the last year to reach that was an amazing feeling.

I do three maybe four yoga classes each week, but personal practice, taking that time in my own space to do the thing that I love is so important. I really believe in spaces having vibes and I think that practicing yoga in my living space really brings the calmness in the mornings and through the day.

May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.

~* Namaste *~

Four years ago.

I cannot believe that it’s been almost four years since I picked up little baby B.

My life has changed in huge amounts since I first brought him home. I remember our first weekend together, alone, and when my parents came home I sobbed to my mum because I thought the responsibility was too much and I couldn’t cope and I’d made a mistake. She calmly reassured me that I was a fantastic mummy to him, and he obviously loved me – just look at the way he was looking at me.

I looked down at this little bundle and knew that I’d love him for his whole life.

Oh mummy please can I have another sausage bite? Lil boi getting all uppity and goddamn cute.

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I thought that one day it’d be just me and him and, after a slight, relationship-related detour year, it was. I really didn’t foresee the bond that we’d develop just being the two of us though. He is my best pal, my little boy. We sleep together, eat together, walk together, cry together.

I read a piece by Caitlin Moran recently about her cat dying and she said something really beautiful, “Cats are made of fur because fur absorbs secrets. You can cry into fur. Fur, draped across the heart, will opiate your melancholy. Fur will make you happy again.”

Dogs are made of fur too. Baxter’s fur absorbs all my secrets.

On Friday night, when I got home and cried because my heart was breaking all over again, Baxter knew and he licked my tears and slept as my little spoon all night – only moving when we woke up and he could see that I was me again.

My dog is empathetic. I’ll never forget when my mum had such awful stomach ache – we never found out what it was – and he knew and just sat next to her calmly, letting the pressure of his little body comfort her. When people come round and cry on my sofa over a cup of tea, Baxter knows and he just sits with them until they feel better. His job is to soothe them.

My dog is essentially a leg warmer.

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I read an article once about how you can tell that your dog loves you, and every way that they described, Baxter does. He leans into me, he looks me in the eye, he tilts his head to try to understand what I’m saying.

He’s quite honestly the love of my life.

It’s hard to balance though. When I got him I was working for myself and thought that I’d always be, and that he’d always be able to come to work with me and that we could spend all day every day with each other. My life’s changed now, so we don’t spend every day together but I know I give him the best life possible. If he’s not at day care (I couldn’t cope without his day care) with his friends, he’s got the run of our bed (our = Laura and Baxter, no wonder I’m single), or he can occasionally come to work with me and see our pals. He lives his dream.

I brought him into the office on Friday and he was so well behaved – it made my heart swell with pride. He followed me up and down the stairs to get coffee, came to meetings where he fell asleep on an AD’s knee and, apparently most impressively of all, slept in his basket, next to my desk, keeping an eye on what was happening outside and was completely chilled about whether I was there or not.

Baxter's just chilling in the cafe before he starts work. Happy fur-iday everyone!

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Everyone commented on how well behaved he was which was the absolute best. I always joke that he’s office trained, but he actually is. I remember taking the weeks off when he came home – pupternity leave – working from the conservatory as he slept and grew into a delightful dog.

Such a sleepy puppy…

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I brought him into the office with me when he was old enough and he learned to relax whilst I worked, waiting for his walks in the park, understanding how to behave and how to fit into my life. I talk to him as though he’s a human, we have full conversations. I’ve only ever shouted at him once – he ran into the road, I was so scared – then he was so scared so I couldn’t do it again. He’s always been treated with respect and love and that’s what I get back. He is my everything.

Sunday snuggles with little one 😍

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So Baxter, as the fourth anniversary of our wonderful life together approaches, I promise to keep loving you, putting you first, feeding you good food, brushing you in the evenings when you want to unwind, buying your favourite treats, taking you to the park, chasing you on the beach, sharing my bed with you and scratching your back leg until it stretches as straight as is caninely(?!) possible.

Even when I get another boyfriend, my bed is your bed and you will always be my number one boy.

Thank you for changing my life little Beezy, you’re the one.

Why I wax.

I feel like I have this conversation with all of my female friends and then my best friend Jess told me that I should just write about it on here. So here I go, here are the answers to the questions I get asked all the time and my general feelings about something that is sometimes awkward to talk about.

I love getting a wax.

I get my brows, underarms, Brazilian and legs done every four to six weeks and it’s one of my favourite pampers. Even the Brazilian. I go to a great salon in the city centre where they make me feel completely at ease.

For a brief twenty minutes of pain, I get weeks and weeks of smoothy smooth dolphin vibes and I love it.

The underarms hurt the most, but they’re the biggest pay off at this time of year – i.e. when your legs aren’t out and you’re not in a bikini often. When I think back to how frequently I had to shave and how my wardrobe would need to work around whether or not I’d remembered to shave in the shower, I shudder. Although the wax hurts the most – it’s the place where you see the fastest payback in terms of reduction in regrowth – I definitely have far less hair there now than I used to, so now it hurts less and less when I get waxed. This is where you should all start – nothing else will hurt as much, but it’ll give you the most faith! Now I wear what I want when I want and feel completely confident that I’m smooth AF.

Legs… This is the one that’s barely worth it for me, but I do it anyway. I have really fair hair on my legs, but I hate having leg stubble from shaving. In the summer I know that having my legs smooth constantly will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier! My legs need doing less frequently than anything else because the regrowth is so fine and fair, it takes a week or so of reasonable growth to make it worth waxing! And yes, the girl who does my legs does the top of my feet and toes – NO I’M NOT A HOBBIT – but I am my father’s daughter and I do get slightly fluffy toes. But no more!

Brows are a given, I go for wax and then Raman threads them to tidy them up.

Finally, the wax I get asked about the most. The Brazilian. Yes, they wax your butt crack – but only if you want them to. No, it doesn’t hurt. Yes, I remember the song that was on the first time I had this done – it was Sorry by Justin Bieber. Yes, I made a joke.

When you have this done for the first time, you’ll feel super uncomfortable because someone’s so close to your favourite place but just lie back and don’t look! Just hold your legs in the way she tells you to and don’t feel awkward about it – she’s seen it all before. Make casual conversation – a good topic is what you’re watching on Netflix. The most painful part of the Brazilian is across the top, that’s what hurts, the rest is just awkward and uncomfortable but it’s worth it. Not having to think about shaving or whether you’re smooth when you’ve made that initial eye contact with a good looking boy on a night out… Also, It feels better. It really does.

Also, having tried to wax at home – honestly go to a salon. Read the reviews and pick a good one, it’s worth the extra money to get an expert to do it – she can see places you can’t and make it hurt as little as possible… Veet cannot do that.

I’m not saying that everyone should wax, like it’s your decision and your body – but if you like to be a smoothy smooth dolphin like me, wax instead of shaving and reap the benefits! And let me know how you get on. I’m always interested in a good waxing tale.

On retreating.

Retreat is a word with negative connotations.

retreat definition

I went on a yoga retreat last week and far from it being a negative experience, it was an almost wholly positive one. Although I undoubtably was, I didn’t feel as though I was retreating from my stressful life or the messy state in which I found myself. I saw it as taking some time for only myself. An opportunity to listen to my body, to exercise and eat well and, most importantly, to rest.

Over the last year, I’ve spent almost all of my time thinking about someone else above myself. Whether it’s the dog, a family member, someone I work with, my friends – they’ve always come before me and before what I need. I booked this retreat back in December/January time and in all honesty I didn’t know what to expect.

I went to Rustic Retreats in the Sierra Espuna mountains in Spain and we did minimum three hours of yoga a day, meditation, walking, eating – it was magical, and – so importantly – all optional.

It was all about going with what felt good for you on that day, and I really needed that.

My freckles have come out, I’ve lost weight, the bags under my eyes are reducing but crucially my heart feels lighter. I left the country weighed down with anxiety and feeling uncomfortable with who I was. This was due in no small part to my last day in the office and the evening out that followed. It was heavy, in all ways. But now I’m okay.

Giving myself time away from the people I love and who consume my thoughts allowed me to focus on myself. Time away from social media gave me time to read books, and time away from Netflix empowered me to reflect on my job, life and place in the world.

For the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time considering where I want to be – whether I want to move to the south or stay where I am, if I want to buy a house and commit to the north yet or hang out and see what happens and where I want to end up. On the retreat I met ten amazing women who wanted to retreat too, many of whom had big questions about their lives and what they wanted to do with them – who they wanted to be.

Being present in these conversations where these inspirational women were discussing where they’d lived, where they’d yet to go and who they wanted to be really gave me the perspective that I needed on my life.

I’ve never been one for wanderlust – I like travelling and experiencing new places but I’ve no real need to travel across Asia with a backpack or island hop in Europe – I have the puppy at home and ultimately – I’ve found what I love to do. I’m so lucky that I found what I wanted to do so early. Whilst all jobs come with challenges and frustrations – what I actually do, what I create, is amazing and I love it. The people I work with and for are inspiring. I want to keep doing what I’m doing.

I knew that I’d know how I feel about Manchester when I got back to it – all week I’d been missing it though – and as soon as I was back on Saturday morning I went into town early for my yoga class. I grabbed a skinny cappuccino, headed to Zara and when I did I got a text from my friend asking how it was to be back in Manchester. My face just broke into the biggest smile because it felt amazing. I was home. I went to a yoga class with Claudia at The Wonder Inn and the space and energy made my soul buzz. After ninety minutes of intense yoga I went to meet my friend at Bill’s for some avocado on toast and it was so good to see him, get back to reality and catch up on everything I’d missed.

open heart yoga heart chakra
“Open that heart, girl.”

I’d wholeheartedly recommend spending some time away from your real life to everyone I know, take some time purely on your own where you can reconnect with your whole self and look at your life with fresh eyes.

I’m back with a fresh attitude, a freckly face, smaller ass, tighter abs and a clear mind.

And an open heart. Which is really that’s what I went to find anyway.

I have new goals and intentions, I’m creating who I am – not rediscovering. This is a fresh start. Come at me Q2, I’m going to throw kindness around like confetti and get real bendy.

On solo weekends.

Today when I checked my Timehop (262 days in a row say whaaaat) I saw that it’d been a year since my parents and I found my little perfect flat and it got me thinking. It’s been almost a year since I started spending the majority of my free time alone – obviously aside from little B – and I’ve had some really good weekends on my own. I know sometimes people pity me, usually people in relationships, but I really do enjoy spending my weekends pleasing only myself.

It’s not to say I’ve not had my share of sad weekends, because being on your own can be sad sometimes, but this is how I have a really great one.

I always get an early night on a Friday – I know how boring that makes me sound, but my job almost always involves at least one night out a week, usually Thursday (#mediathursday is a thing) so on a Friday I’m always tired. I’d typically have a healthy tea, a portion of something I batch cooked at the weekend, yesterday it was bolognese with pasta and green veg – something filling but full of good stuff! I watch the Hollyoaks I inevitably missed during the week and snuggle with the dog on the sofa, then go to bed with Netflix.

I get up early on a Saturday morning to walk the puppy around the short block, then I head to yoga. Each Saturday morning I go to Lululemon in Manchester for their free 10am – 11am class, each one is taught by someone different and they’re always full. It’s a great way to practice different yoga styles and open your mind and body to a different way of moving and breathing. I always get the tram into town too, rather than drive, because it gets me walking in the cold and gives me the opportunity to people-watch and listen to some amazing music. The Beatles are my favourite for frosty mornings.

After yoga I head to somewhere for some sort of brunch. I love PKB for avocado and poached eggs on toast, or Bill’s if I’m craving watermelon and peach juice with my avocado. I always feel like there’s such a bad vibe around eating on your own, but there shouldn’t be. Take a book or a magazine and soak up the alone time. My favourite is usually Campaign magazine, one of our babin’ receptionists saves me one every Friday and I like to read it on a Saturday morning to get the creative juices flowing.

I head home and take the dog to the park. When he’s been at day care on a Friday, he’s always super tired on a Saturday morning, so he loves having the run of the bed whilst I’m at yoga – but he’s always beyond excited to go to the park. Before we go out I get some TV downloaded ready for me to come back, I watch The Affair on weekends, I don’t even know when it’s on in the week – I just know I love watching it on a Saturday! Theres always all sorts of things I missed during the week too, so I skim through all the catch up channels and get downloading.

Saturday is my real chill day, so I get comfy in my mermaid blanket on the sofa with Bax and get watching, drinking tea and pints of water. I have a shower early evening to freshen up and perhaps do a face mask, but always put on my best moisturiser and eye cream to treat my face nice.

For dinner, to try and avoid the lure of Deliveroo, I’ll have some amazing pasta or something that I’ll pick up from M&S after brunch – tonight’s is Chicken & Pancetta Ravioli.

On a Sunday I’ll often get on with some work. I know that if I put the effort in during these years I’ll appreciate it later down the line. I’m currently doing the IPA Advanced Certificate so I spend a chunk of my Sunday working on this. I also catch up with emails and bits and pieces that I missed during the week and I read books that’ll help me expand my brain. Currently I’m reading The Glass Wall by MediaCom’s own Sue Unerman, but other weekend books are The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Chimp Paradox or Talk Like Ted.

I plan my meals and do a shop, only buying what I need, and I get something cooked up for the week, favourites are my souper soup, bolognese, turkey chilli or chicken and chorizo paella. I portion them out into at least five and pop them in the freezer for the week.

In the evening I wash and style my hair, pack my rucksack ready for work, I clean the flat and do all my chores; the washing, filling the dishwasher, and plan my outfit for the next day. Anything to make Monday morning a little easier! I call my parents and my grandparents, check in on everyone, and then I relax – an early night, but not too early, in clean PJs and on clean sheets.

So that’s me, and that’s how I spend a weekend alone – it works for me, what works for you?

On human contact.

My general disdain for human contact is fairly well known.

I’ve inadvertently hit someone in the face before because they surprise hugged me from behind, a boy I was dating had to wait until I was two drinks in before I’d let him hold my hand, I’m always the awkward person who doesn’t know how to greet a media owner… The one who forced a hug on me the first time we met, in front of my entire team, is still a running joke – even though I really like the guy.

With my parents I have no issue. I’m a hugger there – usually more at their home than mine. I think it’s a psychological thing of being in my childhood home more than anything else – I revert back to how I was before I got scared of people touching me. That’s weird that I wrote that.

Scared of people touching me.

But I think it’s true. When I throw back to when this began, it was when I was going through some tough times emotionally. Bereavement, break ups – emotional instability. I think I resisted human contact because it’s impossible not to feel your feelings when someone’s arms are around you.

At one point I felt so fragile and held together with hope and wishes for better days that I think I was scared that if someone touched me they could bring my house of cards down. I just wanted to be alone, to feel alone, to fix myself and to look after myself. At one point, not too long ago, I had such an emotional reaction to someone touching me that, whilst in floods of tears, I had to ask them to leave me completely alone – it was an overwhelming reaction to physical contact that I wasn’t ready for at all. It felt like my body was violently rejecting another person and it was pretty scary.

But on the whole I’m getting better at human contact. I have to give someone a kiss on the cheek at least once a day, perk of the job (?!), I have people at work who are huggers – they sometimes hug me – and I do yoga with various hands-on instructors. I also understand that sometimes other people need hugs, and that it’s my responsibility to look after the people I care about. When I spend time with a guy that I like too, I like to be really close physically to them. (“Pay attention to me!” I whine, whilst I’m literally curled around them.) I need to feel the closeness now, which is actually really nice.

And I think this is partly because the physiological benefits of hugging are something that’s really interested me. Did you know that a twenty second hug releases Oxytocin – the bonding hormone – and hugging also stimulates Serotonin and Dopamine flow into the body? Hugging is literally good for your body and soul.

I wrote recently about how I self-soothe and when discussing this piece of writing with a couple of my friends at work, I was flippant (as I am, defence mechanism) about how the most human contact I have some weeks is my yoga teacher. The reason we were discussing it was because I’d had some hugs on the weekend… let’s say no more… and I was feeling really good about it, and about how I’d found some soothe and some calm in another person. I thought back to the twenty second hug rule, a timeframe we’d definitely hit, and realised that the flood of warmth I’d felt towards that person (in part at least) was a chemical reaction to the pressure of his arms around me.

It kept me smiling all day, actually.

The good vibes from some top quality contact endure even the most stressful day. And so I find myself  promising to touch people more in 2017. If it’s a hand on the arm when I kiss someone on the cheek, or a hug for someone I’ve met more than once, a hand on the shoulder as I get the attention of someone on my team or even, gasp, a night of spooning with someone I like.

I guess we’ll see about that last one.

So to 2017, a year where I’ll strive to give more human contact to those who need it – and to ask for it when I do.