Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Monday, 1 January 2018

My Victories of 2017



Saturday 4th February

I woke up in Dublin on my Birthday. We spent the day exploring our favourite parts of Dublin. My boyfriend and I went to the beautiful Italian restaurant, ‘Il Posto’  for dinner. This is where we went for our first date, 3 years prior. We intended to ‘go out’ after dinner, but our mutual love for all things cosy and comfortable led us straight back to our hotel. I turned 28. 

My mind feels decades older. Mental Health illness will do that do you. 

Friday 3rd March

For the first time, I visited Edinburgh. We stayed in a quirky Airbnb. In those freezing days in March I saw the iconic architecture of a city that proudly cherishes both its past and future.

As an old soul, and that ancient mind of mine, you could see why I found the archaic ascending path to Edinburgh castle absolutely captivating. I walked through the dark passageways as if I was cautiously navigating the through the mind of Robert Lewis Stevenson himself, unaware if the shadows of the people who passed were like that of Dr Jekyll, or more a sinister Mr Hyde; reminding me of the duality of my own mind. I had tea in quaint tea rooms, bought authentic Tartan scarves, visited The Writers' Museum, and celebrated the 1st Birthday of my boyfriend’s Niece.  




Thursday 14th April

For Easter I went to Tegernsee in Germany, just an hour from where my boyfriend lives in Bavaria. We stayed in a Spa/Boutique hotel which was very quaint. We walked around the town which seemed to still be in hibernation, but we loved it nonetheless. I find a strange comfort in stillness, it brings calm to an otherwise un-still mind.

April 20th- 28th

Within these dates I did a makeup demonstration in Debenhams for Lancome, launched my mental health organisation ‘Replenish’ , did two mental health talks, did session 1 of 6 of the first Replenish ‘Tackling Anxiety’ workshops and had my little dog of 17 years euthanized. 


The Day he Left...
Whenever I would play piano or put on any classical music my dog, Rico would always sit in a trance. He loved music. The day he died he was on the sofa as the vet injected him with what would be his end. Pavarotti played on the radio. After he (Rico, not Pavarotti) had been wrapped up in his favourite blanket and given to the vet for cremation I closed the door, entered the living room again where he had just been alive, 10 mins earlier, and suddenly from the radio came a triumphant ‘Hallelujah’. It was as if Rico, my best friend since I was 11 until I was 28, was telling me that he was happy he was no longer in pain. Despite the devastation I was experiencing,I felt content. 
The following week I continued on with the rest of the Replenish workshops. 


For the following weeks I did numerous mental health talks, workshops and felt completely and utterly in awe of the response and demand of Replenish. I felt I was serving my purpose in this life. There’s nothing like that feeling of fulfillment. Nothing at all. 








Saturday 27th May

A dream came true this day. 
For years, since I can remember, I have been listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses. They soothed me as I would slide down my bedroom wall in the midst of a panic attack, and became the soundtrack to the best summers of my life. So, I hoped, for equal amount of years of listening to them, that they would reunite despite having broken up long before I was born. 

On that Saturday, I saw them reunited and play in Slane. I paid over €300 to stand right under the guitar riffs of Slash and the swaying hair of Axl Rose. I went on my own. Like, I didn’t know of anyone else who would pay that money. I didn’t know anyone on that same level as me. So, I stood, on my own, completely immersed in the dream that was now a reality. I was paying homage to my ultimate therapist. The therapist who was there long before anyone else was. 

 I’ll never forget that day for as long as I live. Some of the best moments are spent alone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 



Sunday 18th June

I was in Bombachsee, Germany in the lake and ‘Supping’ (Stand Up Paddling). Germany, in its reliable nature, gives the most beautiful summers. The Sun almost melts away my mental health 'errors', like a brand new anti-virus on a backed-up computer with corrupted files. 



Tuesday 27th June


By this time Replenish was on its third cycle of workshops in Derry and just started its first cycle of ‘Tackling Anxiety & Depression’ in Letterkenny, Donegal. From here I would gain the greatest of friends who would come to be integral to the success of Replenish. It was like realising that the isolated island that you'd be on all your life was actually full of people, just like you. Glorious!

Tuesday 13th July

For two weeks I went to the Portuguese sun. Had a dose of the anti-virus again, you could say.  I spent every second restoring my levels of Vitamin D and letting the Sun doctor my mental health. Eating well, swimming in the waves that inspired the birth of Replenish and lying on the sand, a lifestyle I hope to cultivate on a more permanent basis.  A paradise of sorts. 










Thursday 27th July

I held the first session of the Replenish workshops in Sligo. I travelled to Sligo every week, some days a little anxious than others simply for no reason at all; to be expected of course when living with an somewhat unstable mind.  In the Sligo workshops I gained what I can only describe as a sisterhood. A sisterhood I’m very, very grateful for and in constant awe of. 


Monday 21st August

Replenish was in full throttle and I had given over 10 talks to schools, workplaces, events and this Monday marked the day Replenish had its first meeting with a company that it would later result in a fruition of collaboration. I could hardly recognise myself. I was exceeding my own expectations, surprising myself with strength I didn't even know I had and becoming more and more unapologetic about my authenticity. Replenish too, at this point, surpassed all my objectives, targets and expectations. 









Saturday 9th September


I was standing at a podium in Dublin speaking at the Endometriosis Association of Ireland. I didn’t consider this as another ‘talk’. It was so much more. It was a divine privilege to be invited to speak to women, dealing with a crippling condition, from a mental health standpoint.  
I was also preparing for the biggest event in the Mental Health Calendar, World Mental Health Day (October 10th).  Among having University Students, private clients, workshops running in Derry and Sligo, I went to Madrid. Naturally! 
You see, being in a long-distance relationships means committing to meeting up. For Stephen and I, we meet every three or four weeks either at home in Derry, Germany or somewhere we’ve never been. So I was making sure I was still making time for my relationship. Stephen was working in Madrid that weekend, so I met him there and sat under the Madrid sun and worked on Replenish’s first ‘World Mental Health Day’.  I enjoyed the sites of Madrid too of course when work got somewhat all-consuming. Regular breaks are needed to keep the stress levels at a minimum. Pre-existing mental health issues and stress are a poisonous mix.


When I arrived back to Ireland I began filming for our short film ‘Unfiltered Water’ that would be screened on the day of our World Mental Health Day event.










Tuesday 10th October

We had an event where many professionals came together to give talks, presentations and advice on how mental health can be managed. We had Yasmin our Occupational Therapist, Riadh our Nutritionist, Michelle our Pharmacist. We then had Counsellor Natasha, Financial expert Emma and Trainee Mental Health Nurse, Dee on a very interesting panel. We also enjoyed Yoga with Sophie, Exercise with George, Complementary Therapy with Megan and Massage with Foshie.


Tuesday 17th October 

I started the Replenish workshops in Limavady on Tuesday evening. The following day I was in Antrim giving a talk to a hall full of business owners in the construction industry on Mental Health in the Workplace. That evening I was back in Derry beginning the 5th cycle of Derry workshops. These workshops were different this time because they now involved ALL of the professionals who were involved in the Replenish 'World Mental Health Day'.

Wednesday 8th November 

By now I had just come back from my 4th trip of the year to Germany and was straight into giving another talk for the Donegal Youth Service on 'Body Image Initiative'. I used to work with youth in my previous jobs and so it's always a territory I feel natural in, and of course honoured. 

Friday 24th November

I was on my way to Dublin to meet my boyfriend who'd be flying in from Germany. This would be the last time I'd see him before he'd come home for three weeks on December 19th. During this weekend we explored Dublin in a different way, this time through the eyes of Jame Joyce. We then enjoyed a vintage cinematic experience in the beautiful Stella theatre in Rathmines. Of course, I met The Makeup Fairy, who'd become a good friend. Finding friendship in people who you'd think would never want a friendship with you soothes all the insecurities of the inner 12 year old who always thought she was incompatible with everyone because she was a little peculiar. 


December 

As you can imagine December lived up to its reputation of overindulging, dinners, sweets, open fires, presents and visits. I had a lovely December. Minimal stress.It marked the 8th month since I had become vegetarian. I had the most beautiful vegetarian Christmas dinner too, in case you were wondering. On the evening before New Year's Eve I felt that old familiar pang of fear, leeching anxiety and drowning mood. Why? Well, I don't know. Like I said, mental health illness will do that to you, simply remind you that it's there, watching. 

I allowed myself to feel like this. Not fighting it and not judging myself for feeling like that takes the emphasis and importance off it; less attention. When you consciously refuse to give something attention and focus on something else, it eventually pipes down. I got up, even though I wanted to lie in a heap, drove to my friend Natasha to have my brows done and came away yes, with beautiful brows, but also a lifted mood, invigorated feelings and concentrated gratefulness for having a my tribe; A tribe that I wouldn't know unless I had 'acted' on my mental health. 

****





January 1 2018

And now I sit, in present time. Nothing has changed much since we welcomed in 2018 with close friends.  I don't believe in a 'New Year, New Me'. I believe in a New Year a more mentally strong me, a more emotionally intelligent me, a stronger me. I wouldn't change who I am, I've worked too hard on becoming who I am. However, I do want to tell you that I will embark on 2018 with a little bit more appetite for victories. 

So, why do I consider my 2017 victorious when there will be people reading these dates and thinking "what is so 'victorious' about all of this?"

So here's why:

I did ALL of 2017 whilst living with a mental health disorder.
Those days started with me taking my usual three tablets along with a few vitamins for what the 'World Health Organisation' considers the "tenth most debilitating disorder in the world."

During the dark days, the days where I didn't want to get out of bed, or when my hormones made my O.C.D spike and more unbearable than usual, I still made my dream a reality. 

I felt fulfilled in my work, my friends and my entire existence.
I disciplined myself. Exercised, ate well, took time to myself regularly, introverted, became more unapologetic in my authenticity. I grew in all aspects of mind.  I acted on my mental health, the tagline of 'Replenish'. 

I also took a lot of self-care. A LOT! If I didn't then I wouldn't be able to work in the way I wanted to. 


If you read all those diary extracts again, but this time imagined yourself doing all that I've done with a huge stone in your shoe whilst doing it, then you'll have a new found appreciation for the lives I, and others in similar situations, live despite the mental pain we endure. 


In my work in Replenish I endeavour to become an example of how mental health doesn’t define or acts as an obstacle.The people within Replenish are my tribe because they do walk their daily lives with that same stone in their shoe. Somedays it wears us down more than other days, but we keep going because it's  exactly those kind of harsh days that condition us to become more compassionate about the people we want to work with. It drives us to go into 2018 with a great force to break the mental health stigma. We don't come from a place of business, but from a place of passion and that has made all the difference.


Act on your Mental Health in 2018 with Replenish and join 'Steps to Self-Care' Workshops

Monday, 24 July 2017

Lagos, Portugal : Part 3 ft. Inish Pharmacy

Being Irish and fair-skinned is a clear indication that I've had ancestors not too acquainted with the Sun. As much as I love it for the surge of Vitamin D and the great benefits to my mental health, I still am cautious of its dangers.

Tan, courtesy of Bellamianta and maintained by Palmers 

Before I left I asked Paul of 'Inish Pharmacy' for information for you and I to keep in mind during our days of being in the sun, even when it comes and pays us a visit to Ireland. Albeit, not very often. 

People often ask me why I love the sun so much if I wear SPF 50.

Well, the reality is that whilst I would tan eventually after a long time in the sun, I just don't see the point in trying to get a tan just for it to fade. I don't want to risk getting skin cancer for vanity reasons. I just wear a moisturiser with a self-tanner in it. I apply it every night whilst I'm on holiday.
Before I go on holiday I apply Bellamianta's 'Self-Tanning Gradual Moisturiser' in the run up, and then two nights before I go I put on Bellamianta's 'Rapid Mousse'.

To continue the maintenance of tan throughout the holiday I wear Palmer's  'Natural Bronze Gradual Tanning Lotion'

Otherwise if I didn't, I'd just get paler as the holiday progressed!! 

So why does SPF really matter?

Pharmacist Paul of Inish Pharmacy told me 

 "When exposed to the sun, our skin needs to be protected from UV rays. The most high profile risk from sun damage to our skin, is skin cancer. With over 10,000 new cases in Ireland each year, it is the most common form of cancer in Ireland. When choosing a suncream, it's important to check that the product has enough protection for your skin type. There are two main things to look for, the strength of protection or SPF level but also whether or not the product protects against both UVB and UVA. Some products will only protect against UVB, which gives protection against harmful UVB rays that are the main causes of skin cancer, but offer no protection against UVA, which mainly causes skin ageing and winkling. La Roche Posay Anthelios Light Fluid and Bioderma Photoderm Max Cream are excellent choices in this regard with the Photoderm cream slightly more moisturising" 


If you're anything like me and the rest of the population, you really don't want premature ageing in exchange of a fading tan, right?

So fake tanning is the healthiest and safest way to be tan before, during and after your holiday.

Laughing at the sun trying to penetrate the Factor 50 on my skin

 I was also curious to ask Paul about 
Food Poisoning and Dehydration because my stomach hasn't really recovered from my younger days of Whisky and Raw Chilli's (WTF?!) and so I'm a little susceptible to getting sick.

Last Summer in Sicily I got Sun/Heat Stroke because I went for a run in the morning and then spent the day on the beach without being in the shade the entire day. I thought it was from food I had earlier because I was being uncontrollably sick when I got back to our place. I was so scared because I thought I would have to go to the hospital as I wasn't even keeping water down.
Eventually I had stopped being sick and I slept for 15hour straight whilst my boyfriend bought out half of the local pharmacy. 

From that point on I vowed I'd come more prepared if there would be a repeat occurence.

I explained to Paul that this was what happened and he was able to clarify that it was Heat/Sun Stroke.

Paul explains that Heat/ Sun Stroke is 

" a condition where the body overheats and cannot cool itself down like it normally would, leading to symptoms such as dizziness and headache, cramping, feeling sick, a fast pulse rate and heavy sweating and a dark coloured urine. This can happen if you are in a very hot climate but also if you are exercising vigorously you can suffer from heat exhaustion / heatstroke. 


What to do?

"The main thing is to move to a cool place, out of sunlight. Lie down and remove as much clothing as possible so that the skin is exposed. This will help the body cool down. Have someone apply a cold wet towel to dampen the skin and gently fan the skin, this will help your body regulate temperature again. It is very important to drink plenty of fluids."


I find that when I'm sick even at home or abroad, Dioralyte are usually what I would use or recommend to others. Even Paul recommends...

"...everyone to pack some Dioralyte before travelling. These sachets are easily packed and contain vital salts and electrolytes which your body needs to replace in times of excess fluid loss. This doesn't necessarily need to be after having diarrhoea or vomiting, even when you sweat a lot more than usual it is easy to become dehydrated in hot weather if you are not replacing the fluids by drinking plenty of water."





I understand that we don't want to be bloated on holiday, especially when our mid-riffs are seeing the light of day for the first time in 6 months. I always wanted to know how to stop that bloating and irregular 'movements' if you know what I mean, but Paul answered my question without me even having to ask it because he suggested that taking...

 "...a good quality probiotic, such Bio-Kult or Proven, can help you avoid some stomach upset while travelling. When we are on holiday we are out of our regular routine, often eating different foods and at different times of the day. All these things can contribute to upset stomach, with diarrhoea, bloating or constipation all possible. Probiotics not only help your digestive health, they are also good for your immune system and skin, so if you are worried about getting sick on holidays, this is a good idea to start a probiotic a few days in advance of travelling."

No sucking in that tummy needed, just pop a probiotic 

Thanks to Paul with his generous advice to myself and you, I was able to enjoy my holiday with a little less bloating, and a lot more confidence in keeping myself safe from sickness and sun dangers.



Stephen and I

My Godmother/Aunt and I

My boy modelling for 'Daz' washing powder advert...

Probiotic Perks

Playsuit thanks to DV8

I've always loved the combination of Orange and Blue





                     I hope you've enjoyed my holiday posts as much as I've enjoyed my holiday.

Out of them all, which was your favourite outfit I wore out of  Part 1 and Part 2?  I'm curious to see if it's the same as my favourite.

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Friday, 21 July 2017

Lagos, Alvor, Portugal:Part 2



After we visited Villamour, the following day we drove to a bustling little fishing village called Alvor. Being a vegetarian meant there wasn't much choice on the menu for me considering Ariel's friends were being fried, grilled and flambĂ©ed left right and centre. 

I enjoyed my fishless meal considerably, nonetheless.

I've been LOVING, and I mean LOVING 'Delta' coffee here. I'm hoping they have it back home in Ireland.
What I call my 'Tina Turner' dress is from Primark and my shoes are from Zara

Oh I wasn't aware a photo was being taken... 

On Wednesday my boyfriend got here. I picked him up from the Airport and then brought him back to the apartment where my Mama and Aunt had made dinner. Red Wine, Olives, Breads, Etc. You get the idea. It was delicious.

On Thursday evening I decided to wear a lovely 1930s-esque dress from iClothing based in Ireland.
I love pieces that give a vintage echo, and this long wrap dress inspired me to take the vintage theme a little further by putting my hair up and wearing little droplet earrings. I felt I was seeing my boyfriend off to WWII. I have an imagination, I know.

Shop the dress here 








Off to the beach, as usual

Have a read of Part 1 here.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog post on how I prepare for holiday ft. Inish Pharmacy.
 


Monday, 17 July 2017

Lagos, Portugal : Part 1



Lagos is a rustic town in Portugal's Algarve. Its coast is chopped up with the strength of the Atlantic ocean, renowning it for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

I've been here for four full days and I've just (about to use a cliched word) wanderlusted about. The first day I lay by the pool and read. I'm reading J.D Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'. I don't even don't what to make of it, even though I'm half way through it. I'm enjoying it nonetheless.

Medieval Gate


I see a dog...
...approaching dog...


Dog was non-responsive to me...Burned!


The next day we rented a car. I've been the designated driver. I must say, it was quite the novelty driving on the RIGHT side of the road on the left side of the car on the motorway. I've picked it up quite easily...

We drove to a place called Villamour, about an hour away.




Sunday arrived.

And with it came the moral obligation to go to mass. Yes, MASS!

In 27 degree heat my Mother and aunt had me in a beautifully ornate chapel may I add, for 1 hour and 10 mins listening to a Portugese version of mass.

I was silently quoting Father Ted quotes to keep myself amused...

..."Sure didn't the Lord himself go on holiday for two weeks to get away from his Father..." I murmured to myself.

In a bid to divert their attention from actually going into mass: "Mammy g'on take a photo of me"






 Thankfully, an hour later I was on the beach...










My beach bag contents


 Keep an eye out for a few more posts...

Remember to have a look at my 'Packing Process' video on how I managed to fit 10 days of outfits into cabin luggage.



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