35 Things to do before Turning 35

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I love lists.  I love setting myself challenges as I go, and so I have decided to combine the two and compile my to do list before I turn 35.  I’ve already done a lot of things to be content with – traveled, lived abroad, bought a house, got married, worked in television and I want to continue achieving goals.  The main thing in life I need to keep doing is moving forward and taking care of myself and others as I go but this list is little bits and pieces that can help me on that journey. Now obviously, some of these are more aspirations and wishes, some may even be out of my control, yet most I can at least be the driving force behind.  These are in no order of importance.  Merely, my thought process.

1.  Keep a gratitude jar.   Now this may seem like a pretty basic, and to some, futile thing to add to the list, but for me I think it’s something I need.  So often I get wrapped up in the emotional stuff, and the problems and challenges in life that I don’t fully see the good that is happening around me.  Now that’s not to say I overlook the little things, but maybe I should learn to appreciate them a little bit more than I already do.

2. Have a fully decorated house/or a new home.  A year ago we moved into our new 3 bedroom house just outside of the city, and whilst it’s structurally sound, there are many bits and pieces cosmetically that needs work.  The rooms need painted and the garden needs fixed.  Time and money seem to be tricky to come by at times to do all the odd jobs around the place – so I aim to have it all completed by then.  Or become rich enough to buy my dream house.

3. Become a mother.  I love children and looking after children, and I look forward to hopefully having the privilege of being a mum. Growing up in a large family, I helped looking after my younger sisters and helped take care of them.  I think I’d make a good mum – I have so much love and care to give.

4. Learn how to drive and have a car.  This one makes me cringe slightly – that at my age I still don’t drive.  Over here in Scotland there is no drivers program at school – it’s something you have to do for yourself, by yourself.  At the age most people would drive I couldn’t afford hundreds on lessons, not to mention that I couldn’t face being alone with someone I didn’t know.  So hopefully I will over come this and manage to learn how to drive.

5. Start a business with a profit.  I’m a creative person and I have a million ideas of things to do.  I need to narrow it down and make a select few choices and test the water.  I’d love to have my own little business.  Something that I enjoy and something that can provide a little stability in people’s lives.

6. Donate and raise money for charity.  This one, I already do, but I want to up my contributions.  Currently, I give what I can and do what I can for charities around me.  Whether it be me doing something for sponsoring, sponsoring friends, physically donating cash or putting food in food banks so that families don’t go hungry.  I know that I am just one person, but I have the need to do more, the want to do more.  I look around and at times I see change, but not enough change is happening to help those who need it.  Time to do more.

7. Run one 5k a year.  Now this one may be a little ambitious and I am not much of a good runner.  However, it ties in with the above point. Plus, it is something I would like to do, and say that I have done.

8.  Find a weight I am happy with, stick with it and be happy.  Eating and not eating leads to being up & down in weight, shape and size. My perception I have of myself is skewed.  I know that.  However, it doesn’t help me overcome my need to be happy with what I see in the mirror.  So in co-ordination with the above point and other targets and goals, I aim to achieve the me I can be content with. This time around, doing it the healthy way.

9. Do a 365 photograph challenge.  The world we live in is a wonderful, magical place and it’s time I dig out my camera and capture it for myself.

10. Do 1 painting per day for a month challenge.  I used to draw. I used to paint.  I used to be good at it. Over the years I have lost patience with myself and achieving great things.  In particular when it comes to my artwork and aspects of creativity. I’d like to get back into my arty ways.

11. Write something for each day of a month. I love writing, whether it be stories, blogs, poetry or thought.  Like my artwork, I don’t spend nearly as much time on it as I would like to. Time to revisit and re-write some of my works as well as come up with some new.

12.  Make my family tree.  Over the past few years I decided to trace my family back. On my mother’s mothers side I can trace it back to Estonia in the 1750’s, on my dad’s side I can trace it back to the Scotland 1800’s and the exact house that the family lived in.  Now I’d like to be able to physically display all the details I have found. All the family members and their tales.

13. Make a personalized quilt.  I’ve wanted to do this for years but for some reason keep putting it off.  I’d love to make one and give it to my mum as a gift.  Time to get the materials and start drawing out a quilt.

14. Learn to knit and crotchet.  I know this is deemed as a relatively old fashioned thing, but I’ve heard it can be quite relaxing.  Something I could do with.  Also, it’d help with the personalized quilt.  Not to mention, wool and the tools needed are relatively inexpensive, and I could knit blankets, scarves and warmers for the homeless in this country and in others. Thus, helping with my charitable goals.

15. Learn a new language.  I love learning new languages currently I speak English (obviously), French (studied it for 7 years) Italian (studied it for 3 years) Spanish and German (both studied for 1 year).  I’d love to learn Estonian and Gaelic in amongst other languages.

16. Become more cultured.  I’d love to go to a ballet and an opera.  The older I get the more I appreciate the effort and beauty people put into their work.  I’d love to go see and experience these shows.

17. Go to a basketball game.  I’m a bit of a sports fan, and I go to various rugby and football/soccer games.  Over the years, I have been getting into other sports and I really enjoy basketball.  Possibly because it’s something we played at school, albeit briefly.

18. Go to an ice hockey game.  There is a Glasgow ice hockey team that I’d like to go and see play.  I think this stems back to being a child and playing hockey.  I didn’t particularly like playing hockey, but I loved ice skating.  Combine the two, with my sports enthusiasm and it surely is something I would enjoy.

19. Go to more gigs.  As a young adult the gig scene was my scene.  I knew many bands, famous and not. I’d go to the gigs, have a few drinks with the band and invariably go to the after parties. I miss going to gigs, I miss the conversations inspired by like minded ideas.

20. Visit Paris.  It may come as a shock that despite Paris being a mere few hours flight away, I have never set foot in the French capital.  I’d love to go see the sights and enjoy the culture.  Take in the art galleries and the museums.  Pour asseoir dans un cafe avec un cafe au lait et une patisserie.

21. Visit more of Estonia.  My grandmother was from Estonia, but sadly she passed away when my mother was a child.  Luckily, we managed to reunite with our Estonian family.  My family and I have managed to go on two holidays over there. I would love to go and explore more of this beautiful country.

22. Visit America.  I’ve only ever been to North Carolina and would love to see more of this country.  Places along the way are Florida, New York, Los Angeles and Nashville… hopefully I get to see these places.

23. Learn guitar.  I play a little, but not nearly as well as I would like to.

24. Volunteer/mentor.  I want to give people my time and effort.  Whilst obviously work does the same, and we all need work to survive in a financial sense, I always think it would be nice to just be appreciated for helping others.

25. Read at least one book every month.  I’m someone who enjoys losing themselves in a good book, but I go through spells of not reading as life gets in the way.

26. Finish my screenplay/Write the book.  I have a screenplay that is currently in the works, as well as a book.  Both of which I love writing, but my train of thought changes as I change and I constantly have to update and change the way they are both being written.  Nothing wrong with this, but it does feel like a never ending process.

27. Keep in touch with friends/Make new ones. This one is important to me.  I already keep in touch with my friends around the world, I’m the kind of person that will initiate conversation even when there is nothing necessarily to say – just to touch base and let them know that they are being thought of.  I, would also like to think that whilst being a shy person that people think of me as approachable and kind, and that new friendships will come from it.

28. To Say Thanks.  Over the years, so many people have come into my life and given me reason to be thankful.  I’d like to be able to say thank you and show my gratitude in some way.

29. Overcome my fear of water and swimming.  I’m terrible for letting phobias get in the way of doing things that I would love to do.  Over the past few years I have overcome the fear of water – as long as I can touch base.  Really need to stop being afraid of things that are not worthy of fear.

30.  Climb the hills of Scotland and see the sights of my beautiful country.  There is so much beauty in my little homeland.  As a child I explored a lot with my family. I’d love to go see it with adult eyes now.

31.  Take a class in something unexpected.  I’d love to learn something new, something that I probably would normally overlook.  Not entirely sure what I will try but I’d like to do something

32.  Get a pet or foster an animal. Growing up our house was a bit of a mad house in that I have many siblings and we had lots of pets – dogs, birds, fish.  A lot of our dogs were from people who could no longer care for them – and so we gave them a well loved and happy home for their final years.  It would be good to do that for other animals in the future.

33. Grow a vegetable patch and fruit garden.  Strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, peppers, tomatoes, herbs…the list is endless.

34. Learn to dance.  I’ve always been in awe and slightly jealous of those who have co-ordination and can dance without looking silly. I’d love to learn a dance of some form.

35.Take a trip somewhere random.  I’d love to go to the train station, pick a place and just randomly go and explore.

it’s 1.35am…

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It’s 1.35am here and I’m lying in bed trying to jot down my thoughts…if I empty them from my head maybe I can fall asleep. Well that’s the theory.  Each night I go to bed between 11.30 and midnight, so that if my body takes to falling asleep it can. Plus, it’s kind of a routine. Let’s not be fooling anyone though, for we all know sleep doesn’t always like to be my friend. It hasn’t for many years now, and I know it’ll always be  lifelong struggle for me…but c’est la vie…

As I lie here in the dark, I feel a little lost tonight. More so than most nights and I’m trying to make sense of it all. Maybe it’s one of those times when it won’t ever make sense. Maybe I’m just being silly and over reacting to every little thing.

You see I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to my work and whatnot, I live to aim high… And I don’t tend to see anything wrong with that, but of late I’ve turned that perfection ideology onto myself, and that, I fear, is not  a good thing.

I’d love for an eraser to rub away the imperfections. To blend away the scars for good. To change my body. To allow myself to see  beauty(both inner and outer), and love, and worth each time I look in the mirror. Yet, at the moment all I see are flaws and reasons to change.

Another thing to know about me is I hate when I feel kind of ‘woe is me’. I’ve had it bad, I know that, but it’s selfish to think that I should delve into my own worries when there are countless people out there with more important problems, hurt and chaos in their lives. Now that’s not to say, I don’t care about myself, but I rarely put me first.  So my current disposition of “I’m okay” to those in my life is a stark contrast to Read the rest of this entry »

Time and Other Thoughts

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We will never see all the wonders that the world holds, we will never be able to have the chance to say all the hello’s and hold the conversations with people in our life and beyond. We will never be able to listen to every song sung, to every musical piece played.  We will never be able to read all the books, prose, poetry, plays written.  We will never be able to see all the artwork that has been created, styled and painted. Not through lack of trying, or lack of want, but because every day adds more, new, fresh wonders and beauty to this spinning globe.  More people come into your life, more people you want to converse with. There is just not enough time to experience and live it all.

And for a moment, as this thought raced through my mind, I felt incredibly melancholy and disheartened, that here we are…living, breathing, and tempted to engage in it all, yet our time is short and fragile.  Momentarily, it felt like someone, something was teasing me with potentials and possibilities but simultaneously, slowly tipping the grains of sand from the timer.

As a child, in my eagerness for good things to happen, I would clock watch.  Check the time frequently, count down the minutes until my sisters came home from school and friends came to play.  One day my mum, jokingly told me, that clock-watching would only make the time go slower.  Obviously, as an adult, I can see that she meant to fill the waiting time by doing something, but as a young child of 5/6 I was in awe that I could potentially have the power to slow time, just by looking at the hands of the watch, the numbers on the clock.

As an adult, over the past few years in particular, I have come to appreciate time and it’s worth. I dislike sitting doing nothing.  I don’t like the feeling that I have wasted my day.  Very rarely do I take any down time for myself.  I’m always on the go, even when I should be falling asleep.  In the evenings, when I finally take a seat, I sit pen in hand, writing.  I can lie awake in bed in the small hours of the morning and have so many thoughts run through my head.   Maybe it’s because for a while I didn’t appreciate the minutes and the hours in the way that I should have.

Now that’s not to say I don’t have anything to show for myself.  I furthered my education, I worked in my, at the time, dream job, I traveled, I lived abroad, I helped others and I got married.  I get to sit here, typing this on a rainy Thursday afternoon, in my own bought house, to have a sense of pride that I have accomplished a lot.  Most of which I never thought I would ever do.

There are times when I feel overwhelmed for the time I have to make up for. Life is an endless wave of possibilities, a mountain of potential happenings, and every day, I try to make the most of every breath of air that enters my lungs.  I am constantly listening to the sounds of the world, the man made noise of song, the essence of nature.  I am constantly reading the words people jot down in ink, post on computer screens.  I constantly see the beauty of my surroundings; the squirrels and birds that cheekily sit in my garden awaiting me to bring out food, the children laughing as they play with their parents in the gardens, the colours of the sky and the greenery of the world, the roses that bloom, some perfectly formed, some perfectly imperfect.  I am constantly in touch with friends in person, overseas, on social networks – if I can make people feel less alone in their day to day life, if I can make people smile, if I can make people know that I have their back no matter what – then I am doing something right.  I cherish the moments I spend with my family: that I can genuinely count on my parents for anything, can talk to them freely, that we drop in on each other weekly just for a coffee and to say hello. That I have the most remarkable sisters and brother in law, that I get to share my life with, that we know exactly what to say or do to put a smile on each others faces.  That even though as a family we have had a lot to deal with, we are still standing tall, and still growing, will forever be the spark in my day.  That my husband knows what I am thinking without me even having to open my mouth to utter the words, that he always believes in me and my ideas, plans, wants and needs for my life, for our life.

Time may have passed me by quicker than I thought it could, sometimes staring me directly in the face and sometimes just slipping out of the door, but I know, that every day I open my eyes, it’s to a day filled with beauty and life. And that is all I can ask for.

Thoughts on “If You Feel Too Much” by Jamie Tworkowski

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Take yourself to a coffee shop. Buy your favourite coffee and indulge yourself in a piece of something good to eat. Pick a chair in the corner, facing the world that is passing you by, remove your jacket, settle yourself into a comfortable position. Prepare yourself to be lost in someone else’s world.  A world of, at times, wonder, sadness and grief, but ultimately, a world of love, family, friendship, community and hope.

The author Jamie Tworkowski has bared his heart and soul into the words that appear before your eyes as you read.  Even if you are unaware of To Write Love On Her Arms, and the story of how the movement came about. Or even if you do not know the importance that he has in this life altering global community, do not let that stop you from picking up this book.

His words are delicately written, as if it’s a late night chat between friends where they recall the past, and the friends made, journeys taken and loves lost. The words flow effortlessly and are thoughtfully placed. However, do not mistake delicate for fragile.   This book is full of passion, fight and promise.  It takes a skilled writer, to be able to tell a story that can move you to tears on one page, and fill your heart with hope on the next.

Maybe it’s the way Tworkowski doesn’t pretend to be something he is not.  There is no hint of pretentiousness in this entire book.  Just honest and humble recalling of the past and some of the people that he holds dear to his heart, and a look to a hopeful future.

When he talks of loves lost, there is a charm that flows through.  He speaks candidly of the girls he has met and shared a spark with, and it’s very moving to read someone being so honest about times of heartache and relationships.  He tells the stories of his friendships so openly that for a moment, you feel like you know the people in the tale. He recalls the people who have left this world too soon.  Yet does not fill those pages with grief but instead mixes the sadness and loss with the gratefulness of  friendship.

The chronological aspect of the book allows you to feel the appropriate feelings and in a way, grow as the book progresses.  It’s written in such a way that the emotions that he feels throughout are transferable to the person being told the story.  It gives thinking space, and allows you to understand and appreciate the feelings that he had and has, in his life, and ultimately, tells you the story of him. Yet, it also gives the reader the opportunity to delve into the archives of their own past and their own relationships. The essence I got from this book is about companionship in all forms, honesty, love and allowing yourself to be you, without repercussion, to not be alone. And I get the feeling that that is all that Tworkowski wants for himself and the ones he loves.

I was asked by someone when I had mentioned that I pre-ordered If You Feel Too Much, whether it was a self-help type book. My response is this : It’s a book of sadness and shade, of love and light, of loss and gain, and most importantly, truth and hope. It tells the story of a man who for years has encouraged people all around the world to open up, be honest and seek comfort and help in others.  It tells the story of a man, who many look to for words and actions.  It tells the story of a man who is just like the rest of us.  A good person. A person worthy of love and success. A human. A human who feels too much. And feeling too much is perfectly okay.

Finding the balance

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I know what it is like to be so overcome with emotion that you don’t know what to say or do.  It’s just that your heart beats uncontrollably and your mind goes into overdrive.  Sometimes it comes with a gut wrenching ache in the pit of your stomach or that you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.  It can leave you feeling that you cannot escape your own self. It can leave you questioning everything, everyone and struggling to find the answers you so desperately seek. Sometimes when these feelings have such a tight grip on you, the only solace you find is in the forms of covering up the pain. It can be as simple as not accepting the issues/troubles, throwing yourself into a project as a form of distraction or picking up the bottle, grasping the blistered packet or inflicting pain on yourself. If your emotions/pain takes too much of a hold to handle, sometimes it’s easier to throw all caution to the wind and lose any rational thoughts you may have.  Sometimes you’ll do anything to feel numb.

I know what it is like to blank out the pain and the emotion until you feel nothing. Nothing at all.  The numbness that you have submitted yourself to, seeps into your every cell.  The ache in your stomach disappears into an dark pit.  The tremors in your heart dull down until they stop.  With each passing moment you become more still, increasingly empty.  Numb.  A release from it all.  And for a while, it feels good. What they don’t tell you though, is when you numb yourself from everything painful in your life, you also block out all the good and potential happiness and resolution.  The longer you feel numb the harder it becomes to switch back to feeling.  Your heart, albeit, no longer breaking, begins to want to beat freely like it did before.  The emptiness and darkness becomes suffocating and you wonder if it will ever be possible to feel alive again.

There are times that both feeling and not feeling are, for lack of a better word, ‘resourceful’ and can be the difference between making it through a day or not. Yet, that is no way to live.  In my past, I would sometimes party and drink just to forget and inflict pain on myself to balance it out.  Sometimes just to feel or sometimes to stop the pain. It took me a long time to find the inner strength and the balance to stop using these ‘crutches’ to get through daily happenings. In hindsight, the numbness scares me more than being immersed in pain and emotions. Feeling nothing can be so dark and isolating.  I know now, that emotions for me, allow me to feel alive. Some days I feel so over whelmed by them, wishing that I had an off switch to give me temporary relief. Some days I think how easy it could be to slip into old habits to give me peace.

With time, I have come to realize that feeling too much can be dealt with, can be channeled, can be eased.  For me, numbness and emptiness left me cold and trapped, and prolonged my suffering. To feel is to be alive.