Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s Erica here with another edition of WILW (can you believe it, number 31?!). Prepare yourself, as I get a little deep and very vulnerable in this one, but I hope you like it anyway. Sending lots of love to you all, wherever you are as you read this.
This week I am…
Reading: An Instruction Manual for Putting Yourself Back Together (Elephant Journal)
This article was shared by one of my friend’s on Facebook and the title caught my attention. After reading the poem/prose I was left with the lingering impression of its beauty, rawness and powerful applicability, so much so that I knew immediately that I would share it in this WILW. This piece is easy to read and simply written (by author Chloe Bell), yet contains some powerful images and reminders for everyone. I doubt there is a single person out there who would not find some kind of revelation or comfort in these words. So go read it – it will take at most five minutes and I promise it will be worthwhile. And even if you don’t ever, take a moment to let this final paragraph steep in your consciousness:
“You are whole.
You have always been whole.
You will always be whole.”
Listening to: James Blake
Last Wednesday I got the chance to see James Blake live in concert and it was quite a show! I’ve been a fan of Blake’s music for a few years now, although I’ve never really taken it beyond a few of his classic songs. Despite not knowing every single song, the music was moving, electrifying and utterly brilliant. Blake’s stage presence was one of humble genius, as he collaborated with his two accompanying musicians to create a completely live and enchanting plethora of sounds. If you have never been acquainted with his work, I would recommend listening to his absolute hit, Retrograde, as an introduction.
Thanks to the welcomed influence of my British housemates I have become an absolute die-hard Miranda fan in the last two weeks! The show is written and performed by comedian Miranda Hart and captures her awkward and bumbling escapades as she attempts to run her small joke shop business, avoid her mother’s many attempts to find her a suitable husband and make a move on her best friend Gary. I can safely say it is one show that never fails to leave me in fits of laughter, due to her purely inappropriate and outrageous dialogues and the somewhat embarrassing level to which I can relate to her life. The short and sweet episodes guarantee light-hearted relief minus the guilt of spending hours upon hours in front of the TV. And if you are a fan of British humour then this is an absolute must-watch. Enough from me, just watch it!
The quote above, to me, really speaks of the importance of gratitude and positivity. All too often in our world I hear people (and I am also guilty of this) complaining about their lives or things that have happened to them, and finding connection with other people through mutual ‘hardships’. Whilst a little rant here and there can be a good way to let go of things instead of bottling them up, I think a large proportion of us have allowed this negative focus on our ‘problems’ to become the primary topic of conversation. This goes hand-in-hand with gossip, too.
Occasionally when I am brave enough to interrupt a negative conversation stream and interject with a positive question (such as “What are you grateful for right now?”), I am often met with blank stares, smirks, rolled eyes or laughter! As an absolute believer in the power of gratitude and positivity, I would love to see this trend shift away from talking about our problems (which in turn only serves to propagate them) and towards talking about our joys, with an emphasis on gratitude even for our problems. I’ve written more about how this form of gratitude functions in my life here.
Eating: Thanksgiving Dinner
Monday 10th October marked Canadian Thanksgiving, which naturally is not complete without a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. My housemates and I rallied together and created the somewhat unconventional spread pictured above, which whilst lacking a turkey and stuffing, included loads of roasted veggies, a broccoli and cauliflower white sauce casserole, cold chicken and ham and a bizarre mix of sweet potato mash and marshmallows (apparently it is a tradition, but I stuck with plain old mash!). It was a mish-mash of people, cultures and food, but so much fun nonetheless and certainly a highlight of my time in Canada thus far.
Aiming to: drop self-enforced expectations
Okay, real talk time… Last night I had a very open conversation with a friend in which I admitted that I had been dealing with some pretty heavy and persistent negative self-talk mostly around my appearance and how my body looks. This is not easy to admit as someone who openly touts the benefits of positivity and promotes a healthy, balanced outlook on life, but since arriving in Canada my mental patterns have rapidly deteriorated and left me spending most of my day critically analysing every single part of my body. In telling this to my friend I explained how I placed this pressure on myself to achieve in every area of my life, and so I felt incomplete in that I am not happy with my appearance. Moreover, I feel like a fraud because on this blog and on social media I so openly support self-love and embracing your appearance unconditionally, and yet I have fallen victim to the very cyclical thoughts and behaviours to which I am so averse.
This has nothing to do with Canada itself and rather my self-enforced expectations that I must epitomise health and wellness in every single moment, such that when I slip up or if I deem myself to not look the way a health blogger “should” look, I end up berating myself. My friend very wisely pointed out that it is these expectations that are keeping me down and that if I wasn’t so hard on myself that maybe the negative thoughts would ease off. Since that conversation I have made a vow to let go of some of these self-enforced expectations about how I should look and in doing so am aiming to be kinder and more loving towards myself. It’s time for me to take some of my own advice. I share this story openly in the hope that if you too are suffering with negative thinking patterns and ridiculous self-enforced expectations you might be able to relate. It all comes back to a message that I (along with MANY other amazing souls) have been preaching for a long time: be kind to yourself, be gentle, cut yourself some slack. And most of all, love yourself and allow your true beauty to shine through each and every day.
Detoxifying: from sugar
Despite living a generally sugar-free lifestyle, the past few weeks of celebrations, free food, housemate bonding time and camping trips have allowed for sugar to sneak its way back into my diet in the form of chocolate, dried fruit and gluten-free baked goods. Whilst I am all for moderation and breaking your own rules now and again, after a few weeks of the sugary lifestyle I felt it was time to reign it in and detox from sugar (always a challenge). Having quit sugar a long time ago, I am pretty familiar with the detoxification process of eliminating sugar – thankfully it doesn’t usually last more than a few days for me.
The worst side-effect I get is simply sugar cravings, especially in the evenings. When coming off sugar it is important to eliminate all forms of sugar, as having even a little bit will keep the roller coaster of cravings going. I find the best way to aid sugar detoxification is to up your intake of good fats, non-starchy vegetables and protein to help keep yourself satiated and avoid pesky cravings. It also helps to drink plenty of water to aid the body in any detoxification that might result from cutting sugar. Then all you need to do is employ willpower for the first few days as the cravings come and go, but once you get through that staying off sugar is a breeze!
Grateful for: my love of study
Even though I spent most of our Thanksgiving holiday studying for my Canadian Studies test, I was not at all upset. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed reading up on all of the historical events that were listed and even found myself voluntarily researching in far more depth than was needed for my test. The thing is, I actually love studying. Of course there are times where I would rather do other things, but generally speaking learning is something that I thoroughly enjoy and having figured out how to study most effectively for me, study is not something that I dread. Even in my downtime I continue my “studies” by watching documentaries and reading non-fiction books on topics that interest me, because I believe the pursuit of knowledge to be one of the most admirable endeavours.
I am so grateful for my love of studying because it makes being a university student so much easier, and also because I acknowledge that not everyone else shares this passion. Having said that I also find that enjoyment is not necessarily inherent, but can be found by altering your perspective. Try finding the joy in study, however small that piece of joy may be, rather than dismissing it entirely as a chore. And if you too are a student, be grateful for the amazing learning opportunities and challenges that are presented to you each and every day.
I would love to hear what you are loving this week, or your comments or questions on this edition of WILW.
Love Erica x