It’s funny where life takes you.

I mentioned last month that I got sick. Really sick. I wrote during my weekend in Malvern how difficult I was finding things but the worst part of it all, the absolute worst part of me being sick… was that there was absolutely no real reason behind it.

I went for a number of blood tests, doctor visits, even the emergency dentist since I went through a week of not being able to eat and (thank God) all came back fine?

For real? Nothing?

The more they couldn’t say what was wrong, the worse I felt. And then they eventually told me that the only reasoning could be that I was in fact stressed.

Stressed?!?

I had just come back from holiday, we had just had an amazing time at the Eid festival, there was lots of great things happening but for some reason my body had chosen that moment to shut down. And then to top it all off, the weaker my body got, the more stressed I got. I ended up spending ten solid days on the sofa. Just me, the sofa, a blanket and every DVD under the sun.

I did nothing but watch hours and hours and hours of movies… wasting the days away. And as my body started building back it’s strength, my mind had started to freeze over. I had lost the will to do anything. No matter how much I wanted to get up and get back to my life, my mind had other plans.

I complained and complained and complained, poor Mo had weeks of me whingeing in his ear about how I had lost the urge to do anything but sit and stare into blank space. Even when I went back to work, it was like going through the motions but there wasn’t anything else that interested me. I could sit on the sofa and even feel too lazy to reach for the remote. That’s how lazy I had become.

All I wanted to do was sleep.

The last thing I wanted to do was go on a press trip to Sheffield.

It was going to be a weekend that required attention, required me to work, to socialise… was I going to be able to do it?

Turns out it was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was a weekend where we met some amazing people. We stayed at a fantastic hotel. And I felt all the great vibes and love that I have for my blog float back into my heart.

YES.

We only stayed the one night but we had an absolute blast, I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow, but the best outcome from this situation was that I felt like my old self again.

 

 

Once we got back I slowly started to get back to normal, it wasn’t full force like I thought it would be, I still had doctors appointments to attend and as it happens I did in fact have a simmering infection that was causing me to feel lethargic.

But as the days went on, I started to realise it doesn’t matter whether you’re lucky or unlucky, whether you’re well or sick… feeling happy is something you can choose to be. And you don’t have to be happy all the time. It’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to feel down, it’s ok to struggle.

Over the last few weeks I’ve sat with family, friends, loved ones and I’ve heard tales of struggle, of loss, of heartbreak and the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that this is life!

It’s not perfect. In fact it can be a real b*&%@ from time to time.

But there are some really amazing people in the world ready to share stories, brighten our day and make us laugh.

And sometimes when you least expect it, things can start to fall into place.

 

 

I watched the movie Collateral Beauty recently, loved it despite the bad reviews. To me, it highlighted the burdens we can carry round and that only by acknowledging them or facing them can we move on.

I think that’s what I needed to do. Maybe thats what the stress came down to, the stress of all the drama we’ve had to deal within a year. Let’s face it, there’s been a lot going on. When you’re in a job watching the news all day, every day, it’s very hard to not let it affect you. We’ve had major elections, two here, one in the US, France, wars both new and old and everything else that happened in between.

I had always said to Mo, and to others, that you should always do what you want to do. And I think I’d reached a point where I didn’t know what I wanted and I had to figure that out. Luckily just addressing that I had hit that point was enough, for things to change.

I started a new job this week! I made a difficult decision to say bye to a group of colleagues I had grown to love in the hope of setting myself a new challenge. I wasn’t sure whether I’d made the right decision at first, but one week in and I know that all of this fell into place for a reason.

I’ve been working in Cheshire for six years, it’s a beautiful part of the country and I’ve met some wonderful people over that time, some who are very special to me, but my attitudes and opinions conflicted massively with the area and I craved the conversation and opportunities of being in a busy hub. Moving to a new job wasn’t just about a new role in the office, it was very much about a new environment.

I am finally –

FINALLY

based in the big, bad city of

MANCHESTER

Let the new chapter commence…

 

 

Thank you to my support network. To my husband. To my family. To my new friends. To my old friends. Couldn’t do any of this without you. 

Big love to all the beautiful PT people in Mobberley, don’t be strangers 🙂 

 

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I’m sure you’re all thinking, ‘this is supposed to be a travel blog, why does this chick insist on constantly voicing her worldly opinions?’

Well, first of all, that’s exactly what I started this blog for; as a means to voice my opinions and thoughts and secondly, I believe that all world events should be of great importance to travellers. It influences where we go, how we perceive cultures and people and how we react to them.

So, what’s next on my long list of things that have gone wrong in 2016? Well, everything. Once again, in a moment of extreme emotion earlier this week, I cancelled everything scheduled to go up on my blog and silently sulked. Yet again, it all seemed too inappropriate.

Sitting in front of the news all day, every day, really does take a heavy toll on my mind sometimes. From the minute I woke up on Wednesday, after reading that the ceasefire agreement in Aleppo had fallen through, I was a bit of a mess. Ok, a lot of a mess actually. Everything was reducing me to tears?! The news, twitter, TV, everything.

I cried at work when I saw an image of two young children strewn amongst the rubble in Syria. I cried when I was stuck in traffic on the way home. I cried whilst watching ‘Emmerdale’ when I was thinking about Ashley living with dementia. I cried throughout the whole of ‘This Time Next Year’ although I’m sure that’s the whole point of the show. I cried thinking about happy times with my grandfather who’s no longer with us. I cried at… wait for this one… a Waitrose advert, because I thought the robin featured in it was going to die. I also got teary at a car advert. Yes a CAR advert. So, as you can see I really was a proper mess.

The funny thing is, it was only a few days ago when we had our friends around that I was lecturing them all on how no matter how hard it gets, there’s always something we can do, that we should never give up and here I was wallowing in my own negativity. Go figure.

I tried finding ways to cheer myself up – wrote some angry emails to MP’s, listened to TED talks, vented my frustration on my personal Facebook page. Then I looked for comfort on my favourite blog, Flora the Explorer, which I did find in the form of an article on ‘What makes you happy?’. This made me realise that I’m not the only one searching for that feel good factor.

FYI – Flora’s a beautiful, gifted writer and she too doesn’t hold back when it comes to her opinions, and I love her for that. (If you haven’t checked her out please do so asap, preferably after reading this though 😉 )

Today…

Well, TODAY is a better, brighter day!

Want to know why?

Because last night… I went to watch Rogue One.

Yup, I booked Mo and I to go and see the latest in the Star Wars series and it was BRILLIANT. And today, I am pumped, motivated and FULL of positivity.

I’m a huge Star Wars fan so I had been looking forward to this all year. The movie brings together so many elements; feeds us the background tales in the run up to Episode IV, and is all round bloody GENIUS… not to mention emotional. I’m not going to go into it in too much detail, as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched it (please feel free to comment, message, tweet me if you would like to discuss the in’s and out’s of this EPIC movie, I am more than happy to do so).

It didn’t just cheer me up because I’m a super fan and even just hearing Darth Vader sends actual chills down my spine. But, as I watched the scenes unfold I couldn’t help but think that this fantasy, intergalactic war is not so dissimilar to our own Earthly struggles. The dark side moving into power, doing everything they can to control the world empire, entire nations being wiped out just because they can be – it was uncanny.

So what am I worried about? Yes, there are many, many atrocities happening all over the world. Every minute of every day. If it’s not Aleppo it’s the suffering of the Rohingya, it’s Gaza, Sudan, Mexico, Ukraine – the list is pretty endless.

But Rogue One has taught me to face this fear, because amongst us all there is, you guessed it, the rebellion.

People like me and hopefully you who don’t believe in conflict, in evil and want to do everything in our power to try and help, in the words of Van Gogh, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

 

 

And it’s these small things, which will one day save the world from all this unnecessary drama. That’s what I’ve been telling myself for years and it was something I briefly lost sight of this week.

I started this month with a project inspired by “Knit Aid,” an event my sister told me about where people got together to knit snoods and warm accessories to distribute to refugees in need. I spoke to Shahnaz and Karen, the inspirational ladies behind the concept and asked permission to carry on their venture, but instead to create pieces for the homeless men and women sleeping rough this winter around Manchester.

I shared the idea with colleagues in work and within a few days already had a pile of snoods ready to go! Not just that, 20 balls of wool disappeared by the end of week one, with everyone pitching in to have a go, most of them had never even knitted before. I was quite overwhelmed by the eagerness of people to help. And it really confirmed my ‘little by little we can change things’ ethos. Since then, Mo and I hosted a ‘Knit and Knatter’ day at our house for friends and I’ve managed to get together a decent sized batch of goodies ready to give to the shelter.

 

 

A number of (good) newspapers have also published articles over the last few days, listing ways we can get involved to help and it’s nice to see people I know, spreading the word and sharing them, encouraging friends and family to help:

5 Things you can do to help Aleppo

11 Practical things you can do to help homeless people in Manchester

 

Personally, I’ve been shying away massively from the large corporate aid agencies as there has been a large rise in grass roots organisations, which I am proud enough to have friends who have either started or are heavily involved in – organisations where I know each and every penny, goes towards helping those in need and isn’t lost in bulk marketing or advertising. Instead, they rely on word of mouth and the generosity of time and effort from good people.

Personally, I’m determined not to stop. I have made an oath to myself to always ensure I am doing what little I can to contribute to the wider world, hopefully increase it more and more to make it to something big one day. Because without sounding like a soppy get, if we all start to think we can do it, we will do it!

Like my good friend Jyn Erso says:

“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.”

 

 

It worked for the galaxy and it can work for us!

Right friends, it’s time to go back to feeling positive, back to travelling and spreading happiness, breaking boundaries and stereotypes.

and more importantly…

time to GO ROGUE.

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It’s been a whole twenty five days since I last logged on to my blog and I am feeling some serious withdrawal. I’ve definitely not lost interest and I definitely have NOT run out of things to talk about.

They say that bad things happen in threes. I’m hoping thats true because I’ve definitely had my fair share of the three this year. This summer has not only been p***-poor weather wise, but after having planned my social calendar to include numerous events and blogging work, I’ve near enough had my whole schedule wiped out and replaced with numerous hospital visits and days, even weeks of worry and treading water. My dad, grandmother and then finally my own hospital experience has taught me an important lesson, which has been extremely hard to get to grips with –

I just cannot plan everything.

Working full time, writing a blog, investing time in other new business activities… there is no way I could function without being completely militant with my google calendar and constantly writing and rewriting lists. I’m sure every other blogger out there knows the importance of planning, scheduling and the like. So to have that control taken away from me has been testing.

Today’s my first day back in front of a computer screen and it feels great! Before I was confined to my hospital bed, I had reached the stage where no sooner had I half boshed out a review on somewhere, I had also started collecting new ideas for something else and immediately move onto a new post. I seem to have accumulated a mountain of unfinished drafts waiting for their final read throughs, photo accompaniments or even just simply waiting for the publish button to be pressed.

 

taken from lifehack.org

 

Now that I’m back on track, I’m determined to tackle that folder and be able to start putting out fresh content again. I’ve got a number of exciting trips and outings coming up over the next few weeks, personal and blogging-type ones:

 

Belated Anniversary Barcelona Trip

THIS trip excites me very much. I loved Barcelona last year, and thanks to #GoWithOh I’m finally going to be able to take Mo and show him why I think Barcelona is one of the best capital cities for art nuts, like us.

World Travel Market

WTM is one of the most important events in any travel professionals calendar. It’s an event that brings together industry professionals from all over the world to secure deals, network and share new content with the travel community – a community that involves bloggers! This will be my first time attending and I’m probably more nervous than excited, eek!

Friends Reunion Trip

Last year we enjoyed a wonderful weekend away in the Lake District at the Coppermines. Due to conflicting schedules we never managed to get away this summer but we have all set aside dates to do something this November. Location and activity are both TBC but I know it’ll be fun no matter where it is.

 

Of course, even though I’m preparing for and excited about all of the above… you just never know whats round the corner.

Lifeis what happens to youwhile you're busymaking other plans

 

Would love to hear any tips or recommendations people have on any of my upcoming trips above?? Especially any WTM tips! Please do share, any advice would be much appreciated 🙂

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