Love, passion and all that…

I love…

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red roses

heart shaped chocolate

slushy cards

halloumi

cups of tea

my duvet

yes, yes, ok. It’s that day again.  Stay with me, this is a bit of a stream of consciousness post!

I always try to put a different spin on this day, because I am romantic, but not in a commercial retail way (though who doesn’t like flowers and chocolate?), but also because for many years I’d be finding something to distract me on February 14th.

And because really, love is all around us, and it’s not what the media and retail outlets want us to think about. And it’s not just for February 14th.

So I want to talk about what I love, what I’m passionate about.*

My family and friends. In some ways this needs no explanation and it’s what everyone says. But, for someone who’s been through the rollercoaster I have, they are especially important and have been wonderful. Especially as I know I’m not always easy to be with, although I need social contact, I’m not a social butterfly and anxiety can sometimes mar things. If it hadn’t been for certain friends and family, I really don’t know where I’d be at the moment. There is absolutely nothing like a hug from one of my cousins or best friends. Knowing this is why one of my 2017 intentions is to connect with friends and family. My Dad showed his love for me today by coming to do lots of DIY with me , I made him proper porridge and synced his phone in his car. I try to show love for my OH in little ways; making proper hot chocolate, cooking nice meals, fixing his technology, reminding him to stretch after exercise. I try to do things every day, not just when an ancient Saint died.

I love the outdoors; mountains, lakes, rivers, moorland, beaches and woodland.

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Growing up in London, thankfully we spent every school holiday somewhere else and even within London I spent most of my time outside on sports fields. And so my love of the outdoors began. Whether I’m active or still, being outside feeds the soul and nurtures the body. It’s why I worked for a number of years as an outdoor education instructor and why I want to introduce more outdoor activities at school. It costs nothing but you gain everything. And if we don’t look after it, the world is going to quickly be in big trouble. Take a moment to look outside and notice the small things and look at the big skies.

Look careful and you never know what you will find in a tree!

Which leads me on to being passionate about getting others outdoors, and championing female participation. When I started working in outdoor education the ratio was 1 : 7. And the number of females that actually obtained the higher qualifications and lasted longer than a summer was even less. I won’t go into the reasons / my opinion here but that, and my experience of sport in general, was what led me to want to, in some way, get women to realise that they can be sporty, that they can do ‘dangerous’ outdoor sports. I’m so glad that now there are people like Sarah Williams running the Tough Girl Challenge Podcast, the Women’s Adventure Expo, The BMC Women in Adventure film festival, and two new ones I just found; The Sparta Chicks Radio podcast and loveherwild.com. People championing females in the outdoors. That female adventurers like Felicity Aston are starting to be noticed by mainstream media (though there’s a huge way to go here). That I know of many females that are making their way in the outdoor world with less barriers than I had in the 90’s. In my little bubble, my fb and blog feed are full of amazing women, travelling, skiing, walking, kayaking, running, swimming and cycling.

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I know amazing women that have changed careers and  are now living that passion to get others outdoors. However I know outside of my bubble there are many that think they can’t possibly do what we do, that it’s dangerous, hard, too expensive, too ….. [ insert reason here]. So I hope we (all my outdoor loving friends – male as well as female) can do as much as we can to show others, especially young girls, that the outside world is wonderful, even if it’s just a walk in the local woods, or a swim in the sea in the summer. I’m trying to do my bit, helping out with the Tough Girl Challenges project, being on the committee of my outdoor club, ranting   talking about it on fb and to friends, sharing photos and stories of what I do. I’m sure I could do more and hopefully I will. What can you do to help someone else discover our wonderful world?

And then, what I’ve become more and more passionate about, through personal experience and watching those around me and the wider world. Taking care of ourselves, self care, ‘me’ time, being gentle on yourself. Whatever you want to call it, we need it. For body and mind. We make sure we eat well, exercise, go to the Doctor if we get sick, but what about your mental well being? What about taking time in the outdoors when it all gets too much, when we’ve got a stress headache? Seeking out an appropriate therapist, whether a life coach or a clinical psychologist (see this  –  an NHS website and this – the MIND charity website for help in finding professional help). Learning about yourself and how to keep your mind well is just as important as keeping your body well. I’ve spent years in therapy, read tonnes of self help books and articles. And it’s all taught me what I need to do to help myself (even if I often need reminding). Sometimes medication is needed too and I don’t dismiss the need for medication for mental health at all. You wouldn’t not take medication for diabetes if it would help and it’s the same for your mind. But there is so much else you can do. A diabetic doesn’t just take the pills, but (hopefully) changes their diet, thinks about exercise and sees if there are any supplements that might help. They learn to understand their body and recognise what it is telling them. This is what self care is about. It’s why I curl up in bed with  iplayer in the middle of the day. It’s why I love my duvet.It’s why I love sitting on the beach.

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It’s why I avoid sugar at certain points and don’t drink coffee. It’s one of the reasons I do all the arty things I do. Why I love seeing photos of my friend’s children to help me smile. Why I do yoga and meditate.  Why I often have essential oils such as lavender and lemongrass around. Why I really need my friends even if I can’t be a great one at certain points. It’s why I have a big bag of bath salts next to the bath and really want nice lighting in there. It’s why I need hugs. And chocolate, and cups of tea. It doesn’t stop the dark times, but it can shine a light and sometimes head it off at the pass. So what is on your self care list? It was reading this blog post on reflectionsfromaredhead.com, that recently reminded me that self care was important. Love yourself and you can love others more.

Finally, on a different note; books. Books are treasure, they take you to another world and show you the one you live in. They contain wonderful pictures and if not, paint pictures in your mind. They teach and entertain you. They bring us together with others and enable us to have a bit of time alone. They are one of foundations of education. As a teacher, the most important time of the day is storytime, whether I’m teaching 4 yr olds, or 10 yr olds. My boxes of children’s books, some of which were my Mum’s and Grandmothers are non-negotiable in the regular book cull.  I love books. If you want to show someone you love them, find them a book, share a book, recommend a book. This Thursday is World Read Aloud day, go on, do it, even if to yourself. or find a you tube film such as Julia Donaldson reading The Stick Man, or listen to Bill Bryson on Audible.  Honestly, it’s great.

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So, thank you for reading this far. It’s a bit disorganised, a bit random, a hurried post written between wiring lighting circuits and handing my Dad screws and nails. But a few things on my fb feed this morning started thoughts pinging around my head and they had to come out. It could be a lot longer, because there are lots more things I’m passionate about, but I’ll stop now, I have a Valentines pottery class to get to! And I really should get back to the blog posts I should be writing for Tough Girl Challenges!

Happy Valentines Day, today, tomorrow, and every day.

*In no particular order, just in case 😉

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