Think less, sleep more – my relationship with Insomnia

 

Insomniacsonly 2 sleeps to Christmas (2)I have had a relationship with insomnia for many years.  I think I have it under control and then wham another night with two ten minute naps and I am sitting at work struggling to focus.

It was so bad at one stage, that my sister kindly send me a version of the image attached, reminding me that as an insomniac I only had two sleeps to wait until Christmas (6 months ahead).

After a particularly bad bout of sleeplessness recently a friend said to me ‘Kerry, you need to think less’.  Simple but it was a bit like a lightbulb moment.

I have a lot going on at the moment, working notice is my current job, preparing for a new job, wondering where I am going to live, house hunting, some personal issues, packing, the list goes on.  When my friend mentioned the idea of thinking less, I thought I had to try it.  Combined with my other insomnia busting tricks listed below, I had a fantastic night’s sleep and was woken by the light shining through the gap in the curtains.  I had even slept through my alarm.

Here are some of my old and new tips to combat wide eyes at night.  Now all I have to do, is remember to follow my own tips.

  1. Work out how long you need to sleep – I need around 6 hours. At one stage I was so tired I was heading to bed around 10 exhausted and then of course I was awake and tossing and turning from about 4 am.  I tend to aim for 11.30, have a little read and then lights out.  My alarm goes off at 6 and then I have the choice of a little slumber before hitting the shower.
  2. Bath before bed. Nothing like it – it is a real treat to run a hot bath with some nice lavender oil and relax while soaking.  Straight into bed after that and out like a light.  Read about my bath time ritual here.
  3. No screens in the bedroom. My TV is downstairs, as is my laptop and iPad.  Work is not for the bedroom.  I am still guilty of this as I keep my phone by my bedside.  Apparently the light mimics daylight and tricks our brains.  I really must try to plug it in downstairs and leave it.  Not quite sure I am ready though.
  4. Crisp clean sheets. If I have been having a bad patch, that hot bath is followed up with a slide into crisp clean sheets.
  5. There is nothing worse than being cold.  I have an underactive thyroid and this sometimes means my body cannot get warm.  I love my electric blanket and even admit to using it on the chillier nights in the summer.
  6. Aroma moments. Aromatherapy is a hobby for me.  There are always little bottles around the house for one remedy or another.  While lavender is an all time favourite, for sleep I use german camomile.  The tip was given to me by a friend years ago.  It is bright blue!  Put a few drops on a hankerchief or cloth and tuck it under your pillow.  Sweet dreams ensured.
  7. Think less – finally added to my list. Empty your mind and remind yourself that your worries and thoughts will still be there tomorrow.  It is time for sleeping now not thinking.  I have even read about the idea of writing things down in a book – and leave them there for the night.

So now will wish you sweet dreams.

Kerry xx

Sexy girls wear glasses

sexy specs (2)

I wear glasses, most of the time anyway.  I have been wearing them since my early twenties, and even though I do have contacts, I tend to stick to my specs.  They are comfortable and most importantly I can see!

It’s funny though everytime there is a special occasion or I want to impress I tend to reach for my contacts, and then land up in a restaurant not being able to read the menu (big secret my glasses are varifocals).  I squint to read text messages and am ever grateful for the fact that by flicking the volume button in a text message I can enlarge the font to headline size.

I digress, bottom line is I feel most comfortable in glasses – so my quest is to feel sexy and fabulous wearing them.

A quick search on the internet found this fabulous article on Buzz Feed with a cool slider thingy.  Check out these celebrities with their glasses on and their glasses off.  So cool, and honestly in most of the pics I would choose glasses!

sexy eyesThe second great reason to wear glasses is you can go all out on the eyemake-up.  Think smouldering lashes and sexy liner.  At a recent make-up demonstration at Matt ‘o Flaherty’s in Galway with the fabulous Stephan Ulvund Øien from Isadora I learnt about tight lines.  It took me a while to get back in and buy my waterproof black liner, but I am so very glad I did.  It has taken a bit of practice, but I am delighted with the results.  And most importantly it lasts all day.

As my sexy glasses confidence has grown, I have also got bolder with colour.  I generally stick to neutrals, but the summer palette from Isadora has had me experimenting and having a bit of fun.  I am not suggesting catwalk crazy eyes, but a subtle blend of some fun summery colours makes me feel fresh.

Lashings of mascara are also an essential to make sure that your eyes are not overshadowed by your frames.

Finally, and I am not great at this, but don’t forget your lips.   A nice strong lip colour will help to balance your face.

My very own sexy glasses come from Eye World here in Westport.  A big thank you to them for allowing me to take pictures in their fab shop.

Thanks for reading, and please if you get a chance leave me a comment letting me know if what you think.  Can glasses be sexy?

 

Kerry x

 

Time to tidy up – decluttering is a must

creative minds are rarely tidy (2)

 

I love this quote, and quite often use it as an excuse for my clutter problem.

Everyone who knows me personally is having a good giggle at this stage.  I really am very untidy.  I really do try, but somehow piles of papers and ‘stuff’ just happen.

As I am facing packing up and moving again, I really have to start decluttering.  This has had me thinking of why I am untidy, and why clutter happens.

I am a creative person with a very active mind.  I start something and then get excited about something else and move onto that.  I am also, of course trying to pack so much into my day so it is quite common for me to have a painting project on the kitchen table, while cooking dinner, doing the laundry and tweeting.  When the dinner is done – I move to the sitting room to eat and watch a bit of tv.  I might have a writing or photography project I am working on while sofa sitting.  Ah just remembered I have a card order to complete.  Up the stairs I go to my craft room.  Yes, you have guessed it – I have left a pile of untidy projects in my wake.

Well, as I get ready to move house, I am making a determined effort to deal with the my clutter in an organised manner.  Perhaps I am not too old to change?

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share any tips for an untidy person in the comments below.  (And everyone who has seen my untidy desks you can stop giggling now)

Kerry x

How to find the balance between Yes and No – is YOLO the answer?

Yes (2)

 

As a card holding people pleaser I have had to learn how to say no.

After yet another week and weekend of non-stop activities a friend kindly pointed out that I may have over commitment issues.  I was a bit taken aback, but when I thought about it I realised that he had a point.

If I had plans for 8 in the evening, it was really easy to sneak another arrangement in after work.  A Saturday was fabulous and could be divided up into all sorts of slices.  Breakfast, housework, a craft class, and hour to work on my blog, drinks and dinner.  I found myself scheduling my life away.

Why did I do this?  After stopping and actually staying home for a couple of evenings and thinking about it I realised that it was a combination of being a people pleaser and a serious case of YOLO – you only live once.  I simply want to do everything.

I really do love life and love celebrating life.  If I have to choose between doing something exciting, meeting up with my friends or my sofa – I don’t choose the sofa, no matter how much I know I need it.  Now, there is nothing wrong with living life in the moment– in principle, but we have to have some downtime too.  Our bodies need to rest.

Rest and relaxation is as important as eating.  It is also as important as socialising.  So ultimately it comes down to balance.

I have had to learn to listen to cues from my body and know when a no is better than a yes.

What I have learnt is that saying no is not offensive and it is acceptable.  People do understand when you say no, and you can always reschedule  and plan for another day.

I live with a blood disorder called Pernicious Anaemia.  It is complicated to explain, but the bottom line is that I do suffer from severe fatigue from time to time.  Those are quite often the days when I have to simply say no thank you.

At my friend’s farewell, instead of saying goodbye, he reminded me about my over commitment problem.  Yes, I said and walked swiftly down the road to my second engagement of the evening.  His words stayed with me and when I finally got home at 10.30 that evening and received a text message to say that the party was in full swing and that I was missing out, I said no.

I think that this might be my balancing act that I will live with.  Good thing I enjoyed the see-saw as a child.

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

Why I am no longer scared of change

Making a big life change is scary, but (2)Change is something I have learnt to embrace.  It isn’t easy, and I still find it a huge challenge, but I have learnt that change offers opportunity.

This post is a very special Wednesday quotation as the quote in question aptly describes my life over the last few weeks.  The lesson for me has been that ‘making big life changes is scary, but what is even scarier is regret.

Let me back-track a little ….

Three years ago I chose ‘change’ as my word of the year, and experienced some extreme changes.  Over that year, I learnt to adapt and accept that things cannot stay the same if you want to grow.  2013 was the year I moved to Westport to take up a new job back in the corporate world.  It has been a fabulous experience, and I have really loved the challenges that working in corporate finance gave me.  I am proud of how much I have learnt, and extremely grateful to the Westport for welcoming me.

Now it appears that I need another change in my life to continue my journey.  I am delighted to share that I have a new job, with an exciting Irish company.  I will be based back in Galway and am excited about the new marketing challenges ahead.

It is scary, as I will be leaving the comfort of a job I know, great colleagues, and of course the wonderful friends I have made here.  Westport is a town I have grown to love.

I am not moving yet, as I like to take my change slowly.  First the job, and then the move I, tell myself.

On the plus side, I am delighted to be returning to beautiful Galway.  My son, my sister, lots of friends old and new and of course the fabulous attractions all await just a county away.

If you are facing change, be brave.  I know it isn’t easy, and a little part of me is dreading it, but there is another part of me that is very excited.

Thanks for reading.

Kerry xx

Learned helplessness – reaching beyond my limitations

beach1

Today I went for a walk on the beautiful beach at Carrownisky near Westport.  This has got to my one of my favourite Sunday activities, and this time it was even better because I had the company of my very wise son, David.

We walked as far as we could in once direction and then turned and walked as far as we could in the other.  It was quite rocky and I was walking barefoot.  I walked along, looking down to make sure I didn’t turn my ankle.  I was taking care, but I was also chatting, taking photos and simply  but also enjoying the day.  It was windy and a little wet but that didn’t stop us.

I remarked to David that years ago I wouldn’t have even tried to walk on the beach.  Since I was a young child I have always been told that I wasn’t sporty, fit or thin.  I was basically programmed to think that I couldn’t.  If I had visited that beach years ago I would have either sat in the car or found a bench.  I didn’t think I could manage a long walk and would have been conscious of getting back, every step I took away from the car.  I would have also been told, be careful, mind your weak ankle, don’t fall.  None of these things happened today (and any other day I have walked on the beach).

beach2David told me about a concept called learned helplessness.  You can read about it here, but basically it is a story that starts with an experiment with dogs.  (Not very humane, but huge lessons to be learnt)

The concept of learned helplessness was discovered by accident by psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven F. Maier.  Dogs that had been conditioned to expect an electrical shock when hearing a tone, became helpless even when there was an option to escape the shock.

I think many of us are the same.  We believe we can’t so we don’t.  Perhaps it is a case of failing a few times.  Or in my case twisting my ankle a few times.

Learned helplessness in humans can been seen in so many instances.  As soon as David explained the concept to me I could think of so many circumstances.  Imagine a child who does badly on a maths exam.  After repeatedly receiving low scores for maths, he will begin to believe that he will never master maths.

I am so glad that I have overcome the feeling of helplessness that was once a huge part of my life.  These days I act first, and think of my limitations later.  Perhaps, of course some sort of balance would be better.

I may not be ready to climb Croke Patrick, but I am not going to feel limited about taking a nice long beach walk.

Thank you so much for reading.

Kerry xx

 

Like Water off a Duck’s Back

Like water off a Duck's back  quote

 

Years ago, after coming home from work a little stressed and worn down from office politics, I was presented with a ceramic duck.  ‘Put this on your desk, and look at it every time you need to’.  Wise words indeed.

In the hustle and bustle of life, there are always going to be moments where you may be criticised, or when something happens that is nobodies fault, but you feel bad about it.

I drop things – and after a long day at work, looking at a plate crashed on the floor, can really get me down.  No matter what it is at work or home, big or small just remember, it is like water off a duck’s back.  Let it slide right off.

I love this photo of one of the Westport ducks along the river walk.  I no longer have a ceramic duck on my desk – I gifted it to my colleagues, but I have the image in my head.

Thanks for reading this Wednesday quote post.

Kerry xx

The ICA and Me – Great way to make friends

ica imageThe Irish Country Woman’s Association (ICA) has been going for 105 years.  I heard about it soon after I arrived in Ireland, but never got around to joining, mostly due the fact that I was living far out in the country.  I can honestly I wish I had joined years ago.

A week after moving to Westport I saw a little piece in the local paper about ICA.  I picked up the phone and got straight through to our chairwoman Ann – and a few days later, I joined the ICA family.

Just recently my son had two work related social occasions.  I excitedly asked him what he had learnt.  I was expecting to hear about the power of twitter, or the something new to do with gaming.  His answer surprised me.  ‘More than anything, I  learnt that I can walk into a room full of strangers and act like I can fit it’.

I think that when I moved to Westport this is exactly what I had to do.  I am a very bubbly outgoing person, but it is still hard to start over and make new friends.

Joining the Westport ICA Guild was one of the best things I ever did.  I walked into a room full of  fabulous ladies who have now become friends.  I was welcomed warmly and I have never for a minute felt like I was a stranger.

I learnt loads of new skills including how to crochet, and I was given an opportunity to share my own crafting skills, but more than anything I have learnt about life.  About the town where I live, and about the lives of my ICA friends.

I think a lot of people don’t really know about the ICA.  Ask me out on a Tuesday night and my standard answer will be – sorry, I have ICA.  I get some strange looks and questions about what we actually do. It is a lot more than knitting I can tell you!

Yes, there are craft skills that are shared but there are also other activities such as quiz nights, sporty evenings, charity activities and visiting speakers.  Mostly though ICA is about people.  About making friends and connecting with the lives of others.  All ICA meetings end with a good natter over tea – a truly special time and not to be missed.

In some of my other blog posts I have talked about balance.  ICA balances my life.  It is a commitment to attend on a Tuesday night, and that is important in itself.  It gets you out and gets you motivated to say farewell to the TV and the sofa for a few hours.   Many evenings I have walked home still giggling away at something that has been shared.

Thank you Westport ICA – you are a great bunch of ladies and I am super proud to be a member.

Almost every country has a version of ICA – I would encourage anyone to join – it is the support of fabulous woman who quietly work away doing amazing work.  Think of the now famous ‘Calender Girls’.  The aim of the ICA is to provide a welcoming and fun organisation which offers support, friendship, personal development, education and live long learning.  It has certainly done exactly that for me.

The photos in this article are of the Federation meeting held here in Westport.  The craft display was an amazing display of work completed by members, and the cake display was a work of art and tasted even more delicious than it looked.

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to leave a comment if you have your own woman’s group stories you would like to share.

Kerry xx

 

Blog writing – some inspiration for when you hit a block

Inspiration for blogging (2)Writing is a funny thing – it is a bit like walking or in fact any other kind of exercise.  You need to do it.  And do it regularly.

I had to take a break from writing (blog, book, diary) for a week or so due to a combination of commitments and sore hands.

When I returned to the computer I had the ‘joy’ of the blank page.  What to write? How to start?

Even after consulting my little book of blogging ideas, and having a go at the next chapter of my book, I still couldn’t get started.

I need a cool drink.  It’s hot.  Oh – the dishwasher needs unpacking.  Ah while I am in the kitchen I will put a load of washing on.  Look at the time – I really should make some dinner.

One of my greatest procrastination techniques is to read blogs, or google ideas for writing.

The best piece of advice I have ever received is to simply write.  Take a sheet of paper, or open a document and write.  Even if you write about your day, or what you are thinking of making for dinner – Just write.

It may be that you produce a few hundred words that will never be seen by anyone, but you will be writing.  It really is like exercise, one you get going you can go a little further, and a little further after that.

And then, of course you have to do it again tomorrow and the day after that.

I have so many areas of my life where I need to discipline myself into doing things.  Making cards for the shop I supply.  Walking, tidying clutter and of course writing.

Here are my few points to get going with that next blog post

  1. Keep a bloggers notebook. Jot down ideas as they come to you.  You might never use them or they might simply be a kernel of an idea that grows into a great post.
  2. Give yourself a timetable – and try as much as you can to stick to it. I don’t always make it, but it is a gentle reminder.  I do a motivational post, a beauty post and a quotation most weeks.
  3. When you are in a good writing space – prepare a few posts
  4. Write every day, even it if it simply a line in your diary. I use Penzu as an online diary.
  5. Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration. I have a few boards, and one of my favourites in the inspiration board.  You can follow me here
  6. Read other blog posts. Not to copy but simply for inspiration.
  7. Finally make yourself a promise. Set time aside and simply do it.

I would love to hear any inspiration from other bloggers or writers.

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

 

Leave a little sparkle wherever you go

do more of what makes you sparkle

 

All my crafty friends will be giggling now, as crafters are well known for being covered in glitter, especially around Christmas.  Glitter gets everywhere and you find yourself, your pillow or even your dinner having a little sparkle.

That isn’t the sparkle I am talking about in my Wednesday quotation today.  Each and everyone of us has something that makes us sparkle.  It might be a new pair of shoes that makes us feel confident and pretty, or it might be the quiet knowledge that we have aced a problem at work.  It could also be just knowing that you have friends that love and value you, or a brand new lipstick.  Whatever it is – we sparkle in how we think and feel.

The trick is that we shouldn’t loose our sparkle.  And that we should share it, adding sparkle to others.

When I come across a random bit of glitter – and that could be anywhere from my cheek to my breakfast cereal, I remember to sparkle and to share it!

Thanks for reading

Kerry xx

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