I need some Space!

My head is a mess!

That’s how I feel when I allow clutter to take control of me.

As I’ve been non-stop for almost two weeks, I’ve felt too tired to do anything when I finally get home each evening. Especially tidying up!

The effect is a messy desk, chair and shelves and an even messier mind.

I haven’t got the neat freak trait but at the same time I hate mess!

When tasks become too big I get overwhelmed and have to run for cover. Adding extra layers of clutter I have to tidy up and in turn extra layers of unnecessary stress.

So my August focus of space is needed more than ever.

My aim is:

  • to declutter and get rid of the things I’ve accumulated. I’m a magnet to paper, bags, broken jewellery and unfinished creative projects.
  • not to say ‘Yes’ to every invitation going.

Basically let go of the things that no longer serve me.

Every object or worry I get rid of will hopefully clear space in my bedroom, calendar and head.

I recently read ‘Stuffocation’ a book which explores the clutter crisis that has hit the world.

Through stories and research the author delves into the effect that owning lots of ‘stuff’ can have on people.

There are insights from people who have let go of owning so much ‘stuff’ to become minimalists.

Although I’m not going to go that extreme, I can definitely see the benefits. Plus, I’ve got to a time in my life where I feel less is more and I’d rather invest in worthwhile items.

The throwaway culture also makes me feel bad for the planet. This has definitely intensified since moving to London and seeing items discarded on the street more often.

I know the time is right to downsize as I’m constantly questioning:

  • Do I need these t-shirts, that I don’t even deem good enough to wear in bed, clogging up space in my wardrobe?
  • Will I read the books that I picked up from a charity shop just because I recognised the author and it was 10p?
  • Will I fix the hole in the dress I’m not sure I actually like or will even fit into again?

Straightforward answer = no!

I’m trying to hold on to the past and hold on to old dreams?

All this is doing holding me back.

I’m aiming to keep one evening a week and one weekend day a month free to relax. To do nothing. To give my mind the space it needs. Promising any more time than this and I know I’ll fail.

But the stuff. Yeah – that’s got to go! I have photos that provide me with memories and I have new dreams to conquer.

Writing this blog post has already made me start to feel good. I’ll have more of that please!

I’ve finished reading ‘Stuffocation’ so if anyone (from the UK) would like me to send them the book. Give us a shout. First come first served.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on clutter and any tips you have to see me through the month (which, if I’m honest is going to probably continue into September).

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

It’s time to FOCUS on August!

“Oh July August. What’s happened to you? You used to be so bright and have such a warmth about you. Now you’re miserable, keeping me in the dark, trying to dampen my spirits. I understand that change is good – but come on!”

This has been my conversation on most days when I leave my house burdened with a coat and umbrella. Hey, what can I say? I’m English, we love to moan about the weather.

Once I’m satisfied that I have given the weather we are currently having in England enough air time, my thoughts move onto what I’m going to focus on in August.

The words Generosity and Space rained down on me (excuse the pun), making me look at ways I could incorporate them into my goals for the month.

I would say that I’m a fairly generous person. I donate to three charities a month, always tips, give my spare change to buskers and the homeless, love to gift friends and spend a lot of my free time visiting family/friends. So I was quite surprised that generosity was a strong contender. Until I looked deeper. As all of these things are second nature to me, they don’t push me forward to be more vulnerable.

How could I make being generous bring me out of my comfort zone and in turn give me valuable life lessons?

An email provided one of the answers. I was going to spend a full week volunteering at the youth centre I usually volunteer for 3hrs a week at. I wanted vulnerable and I got more than I bargained for – so much more!!

My volunteering uniform for the week!

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that I am a ‘people pleaser’ and I ‘like to be liked‘. Well not this week……I became Miss Moany Pants. Constantly telling the young people off, asking them to respect the guys running the session and each other. Most of the time I opened my mouth it was to tell them to be quiet or to watch their words. I was a different me, it was tiring and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable.

Looking back. After I had a large drink. Or two! And some time away from them. Away from my constant nagging. I realised that it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. What the theatre company and the young people put together in a week was wonderful.

I stepped away from my normal self and by becoming vulnerable, I developed more in character. I discovered things about me that I didn’t know before. I threw aside my shyness battles to be able to support the young people with their insecurities. I got through the days without raising my voice, I didn’t let grudges grow or use passive aggressive means to protect myself. I used my skills to highlight their strengths – of which they had plenty. It really was a money can’t buy experience.

I already respected teachers, youth and social workers but WOW – I commend any one who spends so much of their time working with young people.

Another way I looked at being generous was with dating. To be generous with my choices and to not be ruled by physical attraction.

Last week I had a long overdue catch up with one of my best-friends from childhood. Of course the conversation turned to dating. And my lack of it.

She told me how she used to go for what she perceived to be her ‘type’ and how it would lead to nothing but heartache. Until one day her friend told her to cast her net wider, give other guys a chance. Taking those words on board she met someone who wasn’t her ‘type’ on paper. Almost three years later she is happier than she’s ever been.

I love and respect this friend so when she suggested I try OKCupid, as a few of her good friends had met their long time partners on there. It wasn’t long until I downloaded the app. Taking the time to thoroughly complete the profile and answer as many of the questions that didn’t make me cringe or shudder! Yes, I do have a blog that’s about being open and vulnerable. No I don’t want to answer questions about sexual positions and fantasies.

6 days in and I’ve had 635 likes and 52 messages! So my ego has been dancing around, feeling flattered that so many guys have liked me. I in return have responded to two messages. TWO! Online dating is so time consuming and in my defence I’ve been silly busy the past week, hence not blogging for sometime. I also don’t like to lead people on, in the past I’ve responded saying ‘thank you, but you’re not my type’ which then led to more messages, stealing more time. Still – I can’t help feeling bad and maybe I will respond to them all.

In all honesty I’m also still struggling with giving someone a chance online that I’m not attracted to. I don’t view myself as a shallow person – maybe I am? BUT meeting someone in person is different. You get to know them, see their quirks. Just like my friend did.

I’m not giving up just yet. I deserve to be generous to myself and to others. So baby steps. I’m going to take time to read some profiles and respond to the ones that make me smile regardless of the profile picture that occupies it. Wish me luck.

So I don’t take up too much space in this post (oh yeah the puns keep on coming). I’m going to post about my other focus in another blog post, later this week.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

My Kryptonite!My Power! My Hair 💇🏾

I am at my most vulnerable wearing a black cape, stood in front of a mirror with my hairdresser one step behind me, waiting for a worded response which will hopefully convey the opposite of what my face is saying.

I have that type of face that doesn't need to say anything. My face is like an etch-a-sketch! Emotions drawn right on there!

It's okay. My long suffering hairdresser knows me well enough not to feel offended. She is a hair magician and has the patience of a saint. She knows this is all about me.

And the vulnerable hair journey I go through every time I have a lapse of boldness and decide on a new hairstyle.

Every…….Single……..Time!

Growing up pre-internet in a white household in a predominantly white neighbourhood is the root of my issues. I didn't get my hair done properly until I was about nine years old which not only affected the growth of my hair but my pain threshold! Long before the days of YouTube where you can teach yourself anything, my mum used to stick a pink bow in my hair and send me on my way!

I didn't give my hairstyle a second thought until it was time to go to Middle School. I'd gone from being a frog in a pond to a tadpole in the ocean! Rather than feeling comfortable that I was no longer the only black person in my year, I felt more exposed. Misplaced!

In Primary School, no-one commented on my colour, my skin, my hair – I was just 'Emma'.

Not only did I get taunted for having dry skin and a 'picky' head but I placed myself on a comparison scale. The school playground became my YouTube and I saw what hair could look like. It wasn't something that was just a minor addition, it became the biggest part of me!

Hair relaxers, curly perms, hair pieces, extensions, braids, bleaching – I did the lot! I frequently changed my hair. Wearing each style with confidence! I was no longer a tadpole. For years I felt comfortable with my surroundings.

Then, work happened. Putting me in the spotlight. Making me once again feel exposed.

Unlike primary school, where I was just 'Emma', work life and adults strengthened the roots of my issues and added to my insecurities.

  • Each time I had to talk through my hairstyle – often explaining that it wasn't all my hair – to be greeted with confused stares or a scroll of further questions.
  • Each time someone grabbed my hair to have a feel without even asking, pulling at the roots in the process, which FYI fucking hurts!
  • Each time I was asked why don't you have an 'afro' or 'dreads' or hair like *insert black female celebrity*?

A part of my hair confidence would wither!

I'd get my hair done when I 'needed' to. When it was literally hanging by a thread. Keeping to a 'safe' style and for the first few weeks after having a new style I would wear it up to try and disguise it.

I know people don't mean to make me feel bad and it's nice that they're showing an interest. But each time I get my hair done I feel like I'm stepping onto a talent show. With every person turning into an expert on hair and becoming a judge! "This is nice but I liked the other style better" or "This is the best style you've had". I almost expect Len Goodman to pop up with a 'SEVEN!'.

Maybe I'm being too sensitive but, if I'm struggling to sleep the first few night of my new hairstyle due to fear of the comments I'm going to get, then I can't just continue to ignore my feelings. As I said before, my hair became the biggest part of me. So when my hair is getting critiqued then so am I!

New hairstyles and vulnerability go hand in hand.

This is the first time I've actually sat down to take into account all the vulnerability buttons that are being pushed when it comes to my hair. So many factors come into play and thanks to my new hairstyle I've had a therapeutic journey up to Leeds thinking about it.

*Apologies to the guy sat opposite me from London to Peterborough as I was typing away, trying to hold my tears back, whilst eating an egg sarnie!!

Finally sharing my feelings about my hair vulnerability on my blog has definitely helped me get some kind of closure (hair pun to those in the know).

So here you have my new hair and the story behind how I feel about it.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

p.s. if you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

Some of my hairstyles

Reflection – July Challenges

Heads-up………this is a long, grab a cuppa, type of post! [6min read]

Everyone who knows me knows that I really like to challenge myself. What they may not know is that it’s not because I like pushing myself to the point of nausea or that I like acting to extreme measures.

I challenge myself because I want to change. There are parts of me that I want to bury and replace with something new.

I challenge myself as I believe it will bring exciting adventures, a happier me, a huge growth spurt and in the past a better me.

So last month I didn’t set myself just the one challenge. Oh no – that would be too easy, too simple. This ‘over estimator’ set 10 challenges! 10!

Continue reading “Reflection – July Challenges”

Celebrating 36 years on Earth 🌏

Today is my birthday!

Today I am 36 years old!

Today I am so bloody happy!

(Okay I'm cheating with this pic as it was taken 3 days ago but it was raining then and it's raining now)

But growing older hasn't always left me feeling this way.

Once I reached my 30s, the years quickly began to attach to me.

Each time my birthday came round I would take note of all the things that I didn't have, such as:

  • A husband/partner
  • A mortgage
  • A driving licence
  • Savings
  • Children
  • A degree

And I would be smothered with a sense of dread, longing and disappointment.

My goals of living in far flung places would be replaced with more 'accessible' and 'realistic' aims! And my biological clock would sing out:

"Happy Birthday……Tick Tock"

Leading up to my birthday this year, something changed. The list above, although still lifetime priorities, didn't hold as much weight!

What mattered more was that I have lived to see 36years.

So this morning I jumped out of bed and celebrated my birthday…… in my birthday suit (obvs). Being grateful for all that I do have. All the experiences I've been fortunate to lay claim to.

As I slathered body firming cream onto my cellulite and concealer on to my eye bags. I made a personal 'New Year' resolution to stop trying to fathom out how I should act at each age.

Not only is it a ball-ache but it doesn't achieve anything apart from make the Comparison Cashier work overtime.

I'm quitting this game of age Top Trumps as I'm tired of being woeful about my age. Playing it up when around older people and playing it down when I'm with younger people. Instead of just being.

My housemate said "Can't wait to celebrate YOU today".

So that's exactly what I'm gonna do! Celebrate ME!

(Birthday lunch with my Bow Bird ❤️)

Happy Birthday to Me xx

Emma x

The Adventure Island – Flash Fiction

She crouched over, allowing her lungs to take in as much air as possible. She was tired but couldn’t stop now. The cut she had sustained on her leg whilst running away added to the lethargy.

 

Smells from the shore gave her hope. She could hear the soft night time waves lapping against the rocks. The moon shone between the entangled trees, getting lighter as she neared the beach.

 

She cursed herself and her quench for an exciting life. Promises of love and laughter soon were lost beyond the sea.

 

“Adele.” Jessie panted “Hurry up, they’re not far behind us! ”

 

She picked up pace to join Jessie in the water, wincing as the salt stung her wound. Jessie took charge of the oars when they settled in the boat.

 

An adventurous, immersive and fun holiday Jessie had described this as. She was still waiting for the latter part.

 

Looking back towards the shore as the other teams began to emerge, she felt a sense of satisfaction.

 

Okay winning was quite fun!

(172 words)

*******************

As part of my year of vulnerability I am putting myself out there with my writing. Here I am participating in a Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. The challenge is to write a piece between 100 and 150 words (+- 25 words) inspired by the photo featured above.
Word Count: 172
Picture Credit: The Storyteller's abode by Louise
Emma x
Instagram: emmalouhalliday

 

 

An invitation to be Imperfectly Perfect

It’s only recently that I’ve realised that there was a perfectionist lurking inside of me. 

I still have doubts that it’s perfectionism. The irony of this is I have spent the past 30mins trying to write one sentence. Anchoring on to one word, not allowing myself to move on until it is………..perfect!

It’s debilitating.

Looking back, I can highlight many an opportunity I didn’t take which I could put down to being a perfectionist. I rarely put myself forward or start something new – for fear of not being good enough. 

I initially thought that this was a fear of criticism or rejection. As putting myself out there leaves me an easy target to be judged. Plus, I have a high expectation of the way things should be – especially me.

Perfect!

Perfectionism stalls creativity and as I’ve chosen to embark on a path where writing is my main focus, I can’t continue my relationship with this dangerous illusion. I’m ready to stop:

  • Berating myself at the end of each day due to not working to my full potential
  • Taking hours to write and rewrite my blog, editing commas and changing the structure
  • Storing ideas in my mind as ‘there’s no point starting them as they won’t be perfect’

It is tiresome.

I had recently come across the act of Wab-Sabi, which is a Japanese tradition of accepting imperfections. I loved the sound of this and promised to find out more about the lifestyle. Only I didn’t. I continued to fret, to stall, to compare and to live unrealistically.

That was until I received an invitation to be imperfectly perfect. Not once but twice this week!

The Youth Centre

I look down at the paper and ……..nothing! Looking to others for nature inspiration was a mistake. Seeing their pencils barely leave the page – leaves, trees, foliage! I felt so inadequate that I took to having a silent conversation with myself.

What do leaves look like? How do I draw a flower?’ 

My mind was as blank as the paper in front of me. *note to self. When struggling to meditate remember this moment. 

I  pushed myself and drew the most basic looking leaf I could think of, then a simple flower. As my confidence started to peep through I started to experiment, which left a mess on my paper and me looking for an eraser. Could I tell the art teacher that a child had sneaked in when she left the room and doodled on my paper?

That’s a really interesting shape – you should use that” proclaimed the teacher, throwing me out of my ridiculous plotting.

I was alarmed that she was pointing at the childlike scrawl I had tried to hide. I was further alarmed that my two simple ‘perfect’ pictures were cascaded aside, allowing space for the drawings I had been embarrassed by.

I loved the screen print that we’d created. I took the photo as a reminder that imperfections can be be a work of art, depending on who is looking at it.

img_3467

The Writer’s Workshop

“I want you all to write whatever comes into your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, don’t think about it just write. I’m going to put five minutes on the timer. Go!”

Aaah just writing words, not thinking about the structure, where a full stop should go. This was hard. I started writing, focusing on objects in my vicinity which made me realise I was playing small – safe. I finally let my pen take over, only stopping when the alarm rang out.

The next instruction was to highlight five of the words. I chose words I wouldn’t normally use, unaware of what we were going to be doing with them:

Primate, Moonshine, Chiselled, Harboured, Density

“Write a poem using your selected five words.”

The rules: Three words per line. One of your chosen words in each line. Five minutes.

I really enjoyed this process. It was the quickest poem I had ever written. It didn’t mean anything but it made perfect sense as I read it out to the rest of the group. I was proud with my imperfectly perfect poem.

 img_3464

After the lessons this week, I feel more confident to just get out there and do it. 

Picasso was estimated to have produced 50,000 pieces of artwork in his lifetime! 50,000! There must have been a massive percentage which he thought were below par but yet he still produced.

I’m going to be my own Picasso – who knows what may come of it?

Have you got examples of how you tackle perfectionism?

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

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