Go For It: Crafting

I’ve associated crafting with taking a step backwards for a long time. Think about it, when you read the word, did you automatically think of being back at school, or something you did with your mum or nana? Going deeper, I actually just associated it with an antiquated way of thinking. Pfft women crafting, go back to the fifties! The truth is though, quite a lot of my friends are wonderfully creative knitters, sewers, origamists (no, that cannot be a word) and one is particularly talented at making fantastic creations out of Tunnocks tea cake wrappers! All educated, intelligent hard working women who love to craft. So over the past few months I’ve gotten down off of my high horse and given it a go.

What I’ve found is that taking an old jar and making a new use for it, or going for a long walk with your friends to collect some Autumn leaves to press is relaxing and fun but also feels kind of productive. It’s just a pleasure to see something you actually made around the house and know that it’s completely unique to you!

For me, my favourite thing about crafting is the social aspect. Two of my friends and I meet for craft and wine nights and solve the problems of the world over some good food and felt. Only recently my friend Emer invited me to a Laura Ashley crafting event to launch their range of crafting kits in Glasgow. Sitting with a group of lovely women, drinking tea, having a giggle and eating mouthwatering cakes at the Butterfly and Pig all while violently stabbing our felt creations into shapes (some with more success than others) was a brilliant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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I liked using the crafting kits from Laura Ashley because even though I’m not particularly good at crafting, having everything that I needed gave me a bit of confidence. I’m quite pleased with how my little creations turned out!
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Before even going to the event I had bought someone (I’ll not name names in case they read this) one of the Laura Ashley apron making kits for Christmas. I thought it would be something fun and a bit different for the Christmas stocking. I’ll include a link to the website here if you want to take a look at their stuff for a gift (or maybe a little self gift…).

For me the key to crafting is that it does take you a step backwards. But not in the way I’d thought. When you’re with your friends, laughing at your concoctions or by yourself with your masterpiece, crafting gives you bit of time to step back from yourself, your schedule and all of the noise to immerse yourself in what’s in front of you.

So my recommendation is to give crafting a go. Have you ever tried it? Leave a comment below and tell me all!

 

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Blogger Recognition Award

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I’m really thrilled to have been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by Clare. He blog is a wonderful mix of food, fitness and honesty and I’d recommend that you read it.

Why did I start a blog?

Well, firstly I haven’t been blogging for very long. 11 months to be exact. But like most of the things I do, before I actually did it I had a really good think about it (serial planner right here!) I live in Scotland but I’m from Ireland. I’ve been here since 2013 and in that time I’ve met wonderful people, they’ve moved away and I’ve met more wonderful people. Saying goodbye is never easy. I love to be around people who are a positive influences and I knew that I’d have a very small circle come January (I’m not very good at making new friends) and that I’d be losing some of the fun and joy and encouragement of those around me. Now one thing I could do nothing about. You can’t conjure up new friends or make people stay where they are when they are clearly moving on to bigger and better things. But I could do something to keep me positive and creative. And although it wasn’t the same as having actual people around me, I thought a blog all about my goals and being healthy and positive would be the perfect way to bridge that. So I decided that I would start writing. And I would start writing in the New Year, as a New Years resolution, and that I would write about things that make me feel good, like running and being healthy and trying new things.

So that’s what I did.

11 months on I’ve been kept the resolution.

And kept in touch with the people who moved away.

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Bringing Beth on her first trip to Ireland
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Meeting Audrey in New York this year

And I made some wonderful new friends too.

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The crafting coven shopping for our Halloween costumes

If I were to give a piece of advice to new bloggers it would simply be to blog because you enjoy it. It’s okay to take a break when you’re not enjoying it and remember that this is your space so write about what’s important to you.

So, now I’ve told you a bit about me, what about you?

I’d like to nominate the following blogs:

Born to Plod

Tina Kivela

The Long Run to Boston 2016

Tangerine Wallpaper

Sneakerdrive

Just Like A Woman

Green Wolf Pack

Jotterizing

Twenty Something on Coffee

Happy to Be Me

The Happy Healthy Kiwi

A Whole New Resolution

Kirsten Walsh

Gessica Albu

Living By Vogue

If you blog appears in the above list, here are the rules of the Blogger Recognition Award:

  1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
  2. Give a brief story of how your blog got started
  3. Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
  4. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
  5. List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

Thanks for reading.

Jen

An Active Girl’s Guide to Being Sick

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Whether we like it or not it’s gotten to that point in the year when we’re starting to focus our energy on the festive season. Over the coming weeks there’ll be more parties, travelling to see loved ones and of course, love it or hate it, the inevitable pressure of gift buying! Which is all well and good, but coupled with the dark evenings and damp weather found in this part of the world burning the candle at both ends can take it’s toll on our health if we’re not careful! I’ve been thinking of doing a post about getting sick since it happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I’d been fighting a sore throat and sniffles on the Monday and Tuesday but woke up on Wednesday with swollen glands, light sensitivity and an aching body. I had to take a sick day from work. The timing was terrible. But I felt pretty awful. The thing about sick days is that, like a lot of people, I’m just not good at them. And by that I mean I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. Well duh Jen, just try to get better you say! But the guilt dear reader! The sick day guilt is real! I felt bad that I was taking a day to do nothing but when I thought about actually doing something like cleaning the flat or cooking a nice meal, it just made me curl up into a smaller ball in my bed!

So I thought about what I could do to feel better, but also would feel like I hadn’t totally wasted the day. Here’s my advice if you find yourself struck down with a Winter flu:

  1. Get Some Comfort Food: If you can manage a small trip to the shops or have someone at home who can pick up a few things for you, treat yourself to some nice teas, lots of fruit and a little sweet to help boost your mood. Weirdly I had a huge craving for Marmite the whole time I was sick! Having lots of little snacks will get you into the kitchen and keep you moving while also keeping your spirits and energy up to help you fight the flu.
  2. If you have to exercise, keep it light: A lot of us are of the mind that sweating out a flu is the best thing for it. At some stages I’d agree but if you’re bed ridden, trying to get a run or ab workout in really isn’t going to help you. If you’re feeling up to it, it can be nice to do something to keep the blood flowing. I recommend checking out Yoga with Adrienne, I did her Yoga for When You Are Sick video and it was so kind and comforting. It was just what I needed.
  3. Talk to Someone: One of the worst things about feeling sick is that it makes you feel really crap and down. I’m one for feeling sorry for myself when I’m not well and it was nice to give my big brother a call to catch up and take my mind off things when I wasn’t feeling so good. If there is someone you haven’t chatted with in a while, evening if it’s over a long overdue message rather than a phone call, why not do it when you’re on your sick day?
  4. Fresh Air: During this time of year air quality can be a bit rubbish with all the heating and clothes drying and candles burning. If you’re up to it, a very short walk while you’re well wrapped up can feel really good. When you’re not able for it, opening the window for a few minutes or moving from the bedroom to the living room can shift the stagnant air and help you to feel a bit fresher and hopefully better. I often have a big bowl of  boiled water in the room to purify the air. If you’re blocked up, a dollop of Vicks in the hot water can help to clear you up too!

For me the best advice when you’re feeling sick is just to do what feels good and take care of yourself. I hope this post has been useful to you, but mostly I hope that you stay healthy this Winter.

Let’s Talk: The Fitness Message

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So, I have noticed something.

This week Kourtney Kardashian posted a picture of herself in revealing sports gear and making the point that exercise helps her when she feels anxious.

This morning, I read a blog post about whether or not to wear underwear when running, you can read it here

We live in an environment of media saturation it often feels as if there are no limits to the things that we talk about on a global scale. The two items which I have referred to here are examples of how our ability to share how we feel in the moment can open up discussion on topics that are often swept under the carpet (or as in this case, just hidden under your clothes). However, only one of these items will actually make a difference to me and my fitness journey. And it wasn’t the sight of Kourtney Kardashian’s bared abs.

For me, the problem with the fitness discussion is that we are often too focused on the perfect model. I personally believe that the obsession with having a lean and muscular body has replaced that of being size 0. That is not a positive thing. I believe that the exact same hierarchies and body shaming that have been previously associated with being “skinny” have merely shifted to being “fit”.

It irritates me when I see slogans like “fit is the new thin”. This simply reinforces the idea that there is a particular way that you have to look, it’s just that you don’t have to look skinny anymore. Skinny is bad. Skinny is lazy and unadventurous. As is fat. And pale. And spotty. And having no bum. Or no breasts. Because even though you are expected to work out 6 days out of 7 and go hiking or surfing on your day off, yes, you will still be expected to retain your breasts.

This is where Kourtney Kardashian loses me. Like a lot of us, she clearly finds a workout to be a good way of relieving stress, many of us can relate to this. But the choice of displaying this on social media is not, for me, a positive reinforcement of how keeping your mind and body occupied can help you through a difficult time. Whether intentional or not, I think that posts like these are part of the problem. Kourtney’s life and looks are unrealistic to the vast majority of people. She is a beautiful woman who has the resources not only to have the best fitness equipment and training that money can buy, she can and has surgically altered her body to achieve the appearance that she desires. I’m absolutely not going to bash a woman for what she has been naturally blessed with, what she has worked hard for and what she has chosen. But I am going to suggest that if you are looking for inspiration, this isn’t it.

Celebrating our bodies is important and shouldn’t be competitive. How can we compete with others about the way we look when we are all completely unique? Seeing someone look incredible while staring back at me through a mirror when their world is falling apart doesn’t inspire me. It makes me feel bad for them and, I’d imagine if I was younger or less comfortable with myself, I would probably think to myself  “god, if she looks like that during a really difficult time and after having children, what have I been doing wrong?” This, for me, is the negative side of the fitness discussion.

The post I read about wearing underwear during a run was a breath of fresh air. This is why I love blogging. The dialogue is opened out so that things that would be seen as taboo and private are laid out and discussed. And do you know what? I’ve been wearing underwear with my shorts like a fool! Today I went out without any and it was great! Discussing and sharing information like this is the antidote to body shaming because it acknowledges the body in a positive way.

All of us here are working toward a fitness goal for a reason and I’d imagine that a big proportion of that is to do with being happy. Running makes me happy (running with no undies makes me even happier), trying to have a better body than other people would just make me feel weird and mean. So let’s talk about fitness the way we should be, in an open and supportive way.

Because fit does not need to be the new thin.

Fit is simply about feeling good, whatever you look like.

Sunday Post: Bloggers and Braggers

Sometimes I take part in blogger chats on Twitter and earlier this week I stumbled upon the #socialbloggers chat. One of the first questions asked was when you started blogging and I realised: I have been blogging for 6 months! It feels nice to have kept this little hobby up and I have to say that I’m proud of my little piece of the internet.

One thing that I love about blogging is that it provides a network of support and interest in your chosen subject. It actually is meaningful when someone you have never met compliments your writing, or an achievement you posted about or nominates you for an award. That really makes blogging for me. Acknowledging achievements and supporting people in their endeavors shows your quality as a human being. When you are a person who has an interest, you are open to praise and encouragement, but you are also open to judgement and of course the dreaded “humble bragger”.

One thing that I have noticed over the years is that like anything else, people who care about their fitness can be bloody competitive about it. There is nothing more irritating than being in the presence of someone who asks you about an achievement only to belittle it. You can always tell when people ask about your running times whether they are genuinely interested or whether they are looking for a chance to put you down. People jump on fitness or healthy eating bandwagons all of the time and work toward whatever goal they want to achieve. Some people do it for themselves, and some people do it for their status among others. It is generally in the latter that we find the braggers and the put downs. I’ll be honest with you, I am a confident girl. I like the way I look, I like the things that I have done and I have a good idea of what I want out of life. At 25 I have less and less time for anyone who has a problem with that. Simple as.

Listening to a boaster go on about how strong or fit they are or how much organic unpronounceable superfoods they consume on a daily basis doesn’t make me lose hope or feel like I am rubbish. Because I am too comfortable in myself to stop running just because someone looks at me funny when I tell them the time of my last race. But some people are put off by that. Some people do think that because they aren’t hitting a particular mark that they should just stop. Or that because they can’t afford to buy this expensive grain or juicer that there isn’t much point in continuing with their healthy lifestyle because so and so says that any other approach is rubbish. Who would want to be a person that puts others off bettering themselves? You won’t get anything from it, other than the isolation of being the only person who wants to be the best. You won’t be happy with what you have achieved because whatever satisfaction you get from putting one person down will be short lived because there is always, always going to be someone who is better than you.

If you are good at something don’t sour your achievement by using it to make other people feel small. It only makes you look insecure. If you find yourself talking to someone who is putting you down, just remember that your goals are personal. You’re not working for anyone else but yourself and we all feel bad about where we are sometimes. Please keep going! I probably should give some tactic here for how to steer a conversation away from bragging and into more positive territory, but honestly? If someone is being like that just finish the conversation and move on to someone with better chat.

As far as I’m concerned, the braggers can get in the bin.