Stuck.

Do you ever feel like you’re not really living life? That you’re more letting things happen and tick along without making any progress – or relishing in experiences that will be the memories you’ll look back at when you’re older? That’s where I am right now. I feel stuck.

Here’s the tricky thing. I know I’m not. I’ve done a lot in the past year: become a freelancer (yay!) working on a long-term contract (boom!), gained the weight I so foolishly starved off (boo), become better at shutting down the negative self-talk when it creeps in (oh yeah!), allowed myself to have experiences my younger, more frightened self wouldn’t dream of (YASSS), and managing to stay in a neutral mood more often (is this what most people feel like?). And yet, I feel stuck.

How you ask? Despite knowing that I’m doing pretty well all things considered, there’s this feeling – like a dull pain that’s not really noticeable yet strong enough to annoy you – that I’m not living the best life I can live. I’m not being the best person I can be.

But what can be done?

Have you ever felt like stuck like this?

Change your story. Change your life.

Do you ever stop and consider which story you’re telling? Take a moment right now. We have time. Ready? Now think about this: is your story holding you back or helping you thrive in your life?

Listening to an episode of the Tony Robbins podcast on my way to work today – it’s become a habit of mine this whole podcast thing – he spoke about three steps to a breakthrough in life – and how we can change things in our life, be it relationships, finance, health, career, and take them to the next level. One of these were the story you tell yourself. Your beliefs about your life.

“Give up the story that limits you.” – Tony Robbins

We all have a story, created by the multitude of experiences we have and choices we make every single day.

I’ve met a few people during my 35-years on this planet that have been telling tragic tales of woe me’s. Now, I have my moments of “life’s pretty shit right now”, but oh-em-gee some of these people: always something negative, or “I’m tired”, or “my family didn’t have much”, “I can’t deal” and so on. Truth be told, there’s no wonder nothing good seem to happen as long as you keep focusing on the wrong thing. If you’re focusing on what you’re missing at all times, instead of what you have, then you’re in for a rough ride.

You might be telling a story that’s not beneficial for you. It keeps you stuck in the state you’re in. It keeps you from growing. It halts your potential to be brilliant. It crushes your ability to live the most glorious life you can live. Or it simply keeps you at the ‘average, kind-of-ok’ state you’re in at the moment. And that’s ok if that’s where you want to be, but…wouldn’t it be amazing to live your life in the best way possible?

I’m not trying to make this a BE POSITIVE ALWAYS-kind of post. Life’s not that. It can’t be that. We have our ups and downs, successes and failures. But what differentiates what happens next in your story is how you choose to look at things and the decisions you make.

“Decisions, not conditions determine your destiny.” – Tony Robbins

Which story do you choose to tell?

From life thinking to life doing.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been planner. I have ideas of what I want to do, what I want to make and where I want to go. I like planning it. But, more often than not, I end up not doing the fantastic things I’ve planned.

Terrarium making. Painting with watercolour. Life drawing class. Language lessons. Going to a meet up. Cooking more. Making pottery. An Instagram feed dedicated to one thing. Archery. Eat more vegetables. Take up photography. Go hiking somewhere exciting.

It’s as if I have an invisible rope tied around my angles, holding me back – not allowing me to move forward and actually do the things I think of doing.

This invisible rope I know is all in the mind. It’s a blockage somewhere which is not letting my life doing emerge. Truth be told I don’t know how I can unblock it. I don’t know how to reach down to untie the rope. But I’m going to find out.

First, I need to do some more life thinking. Oh the irony. Yet I feel this is an important step. To get to the life doing part, I have to do some life mapping – and that requires some thinking! I’ve never been one to have a 5-year plan, not in work, not in life. As my mid-thirties are looming, I’m starting to think (there’s that bloody word again) that a roadmap of what I want to achieve and do over then next 5 years isn’t such a terrible idea.

When I’ve completed my life mapping session, and set out some near and far goals, it will be time to get on to life doing. The key will be to not try to do all at once. This is one of my problems. I end up with analysis paralysis because I have so many things I want to do, that I can’t decide which to do first, and end up doing nothing…

OK, I have my sharpies and paper. Wish me luck!

Are dating apps making it impossible to find real love?

Are dating apps that gamify dating and looking for a partner, actually fucking it all up for us?

Dating in your 20s is hard. Dating in you 30s even harder. As a 30-something woman who with a good job, great interests, who can cook delicious meals from scratch, is caring towards other people and animals, and is capable of doing things on her own, I’d like to think of myself as a catch.

Having spent the past six months exploring dating though the means of Tinder and Bumble – I joined OKCupid recently but only lasted four days before the “how’s u?” and “nice rack” messages became too much – I haven’t got much to show for it. A handful new experiences yes, but I am nowhere near finding someone to date, let alone someone to love. After months of swiping I find myself questioning everything. Is it me? Am I not the lovely person I think I am? Yes I know I have my flaws – I’m only human after all – but I can’t be that bad?! Or is it just the type of people these apps attract that’s the problem? Are they all avoidants, is that why they’re still in the dating pool? Are they after quick hook-ups, no commitment or desire for a long-term relationship? I’m starting to think all of the above are true…

Being part of the dating game is exhausting. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Only the haystack is the size of London, and the needle…Well, who the fuck knows where it is.

Swipe. Swipe. Swipe.

I’m starting to think that for most Tinder et al is only another Pokemon Go where you “gotta catch em all”, only that these come with the possibility of sex from time to time.

Swipe. Swipe. Swipe.

Left for the pictures of drugged tigers.

Left for those that don’t have any photos showing their eyes.

Left for those taking selfies of their ‘gym bodies’ in the mirror.

I’m remaining hopeful that there is someone out there for me still, but I’m thinking I won’t find him through an app…

My 30-day Reflection challenge

Over the past few weeks I’ve been struggling to focus my mind, feel good about life and process things as they’ve come along. It feels I’ve shifted into autopilot – a feeling I know too well from my darkest days. Wake up. Go to work. Check Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Work more. Check Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Oh and what about Tinder? There might be a new match that I’ll never talk to and who will never talk to me… Get home. Feel tired. Go to bed and listen to podcasts meant to inspire. Only to not action on them whatsoever. The only difference is that this time, it hasn’t been accompanied by that deep dark feeling I know from the past The abyss within that’s waiting to swallow me. Not yet at least…

To mix things up, and in doing so, switch off the autopilot of my life and take back control of the steering wheel, I’m intending to write down daily reflections every evening before bed. To consider what I’ve done, said, and felt that particular day. I want to reawaken my thoughts, make them find themselves down onto paper – YES, pen on actual paper. Not tapping things onto a screen.

What will I learn? Time will tell. All I hope is that it’ll break me free from the dreary path I’m on. I’m standing at the cross roads. Ready to narrate my own life. And not simply be a story told.

 

How reading Attached is changing how I look at relationships

Attached. As the title suggest this is all about attachment. More specifically it helps you identify your attachment style – and hopefully finding the perfect match. My flatmate and I are both reading it, she suggested it to me a couple of weeks ago, and seriously it’s one of the better ‘self-help’ books I’ve read in a good while!

Being in a relationship – and becoming attached to our partner – is a perfectly natural thing, and having the desire to become attached shouldn’t be seen as something negative. Yet often we hear about the ‘clingy’ or the ‘commitment-phobes’. So is there more to it?

Well, reading Attached has expanded my mind, and is making me look at past relationships and myself in a whole new way. It draws out the three different, and very distinct ways, people act in relationships: anxious, avoidant or secure. Recognise yourself in any of these?

ANXIOUS people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back.

AVOIDANT people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimise closeness.

SECURE people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

The funny thing – not in the ha ha way – is that Anxious tend to attract Avoidant, and vice versa. This causes a messed up dance of pushing and pulling, which usually ends in disaster – and most likely heartbreak. I’m a classic case of Anxious, sprinkled with a dash of Secure every now and then, only to dive head first into a pool of Anxious again once my gut feeling tells me something is up. And, to make things worse, my two significant relationships in life have been with text-book Avoidants.

Reading this book (devouring it more like) is opening up my eyes to how I behave in dating and relationships, and is allowing me to see how I can react differently, how I should really be with a Secure person, and how fucked up my past relationships have been (at times, not all of the time, but at times). It’s also confirmed that I need to listen to my gut instinct of ‘if something feels wrong’ then it’s probably exactly that. The super Anxious me however will have been too scared in the past to say anything, in fear of rocking the boat.

Now however, when meeting guys, I’m taking a much more open approach. Telling them what I need and how I like things, without dancing around them, too scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, from day one. And it feels great!

I’ve also learnt that I shouldn’t feel bad for wanting what I want. We are all different, we simply need to meet the person who has a compatible attachment style.

 

Food and travels

Ever since I can remember, any time I’ve gone travelling food has been a big part of it; what are the best cafes, which restaurants should I book, what local delicatessen should I be trying? I love exploring places through its dishes. You can learn a lot from people, cultures and cities from their food.

In Italy it was all about the pasta, the pizza and the gelato. In Greece, the kleftiko and feta in filo pastry drizzled with honey (if you haven’t tried this yet, then definitely put this on your list!). Japan focused around sushi and more sushi.

When I travel on my own, or stay in B&Bs it’s easy. You’re expecting to eat out most of the time, giving in to the littles whim of what to have throughout the day. Cue foodie Beth in her right element.

On the flip side, this strong link between travelling and food also makes it almost unbearably to stay at people’s houses… Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE staying with people and being part of their ways, but I get slightly angsty knowing I can’t eat what I want, when I want. This is especially the case when you’re with people that don’t have the same eating pattern as you. So how to you get around this?

I think it was Nigella who once said it that she brings food with her to people’s places if she’s staying over. Not because their food is awful; just to have something as a back up. I haven’t done this myself yet, but she’s on to something there. Then again, eating in secrecy doesn’t sound great now does it?

This weekend was one of these trips. I was staying with a friend’s family, and before we got there we had planned eating at some of the restaurants local to them – or even getting a cheeky takeaway. As things had it, we didn’t go out to eat at all, instead having salads and chicken and other bits at home. It was lovely.

I did have to have a quiet word with myself and my mind every now and then, but I’ve also realised that I don’t NEED the food.

I want it.

But don’t NEED it.

And that feels good.