Thursday, 31 December 2015

Reflections - things I learned from 2015

For the second of my 'Goodbye 2015; Hello 2016' blog posts I am writing a list of some of the things I learned in 2015.
Again, I feel like it's a good way to reflect on the past year and maybe one or two of these things might chime a bell with you.

  • Sometimes I can't see what's right in front of me
  • Sometimes I don't want to see what's right in front of me
  • I can procrastinate like a boss
  • I can't use phrases like "like a boss"
  • First impressions can be very right
  • First impressions can be very wrong
  • How to use a semi-colon properly; life-changing
  • Being kind to yourself is hard
  • I always pack too much stuff
  • I'd rather regret something I did than regret something I didn't do
  • If it feels wrong it probably is 
  • Decent haircuts in London don't have to cost the earth 
  • Those little blue ticks on WhatsApp are the best thing
  • Those little blue ticks on WhatsApp are the worst thing
  • Trust your gut
  • Forgiving others is easier than forgiving yourself 
  • If you really want to spend time with someone you will - and if someone really wants to spend time with you they will
  • If you're unsure about something just wait 
  • Waterproof eyeliner/mascara ain't always so waterproof
  • Just because you feel negatively about yourself doesn't mean it's true - or that other people feel the same about you 
  • Wait until lasagne is cold before portioning it up for the freezer or things get very messy
  • Even when you feel like your whole world is imploding you can still keep going (and it's probably not your "whole" world)
  • Things do get better 
  • Pacing is not overrated 
  • I'm still recovering 
  • Work and studies can get you through tough times
  • Friends and family can get you through tough times
  • YOU can get yourself through tough times 
  • If you can't trust yourself you can't expect others to
  • Don't say one thing and do another 
  • Be consistent and congruent 
  • Honesty is the best policy - especially with yourself 
  • Listen to your body
  • It's okay to ask for help 
  • Don't see everything as a battle
  • It's okay to feel like you don't know what you're doing
  • However much you plan you will never be able to outwit fate/The Gods/time/death/accidents/illness/anything and everything else
  • Happiness feels amazing
  • I can surprise myself just as much as others can surprise me
  • Life is an incredible, surprising, wonderful thing 
What did 2015 teach you?

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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Reflections - Some of my favourites of 2015

I was wondering what might be a fitting way to mark the close of 2015 and the start of 2016 here on the blog...
I decided that the best and most positive way was to create two posts; one listing some of my (slightly random and more blog-friendly) favourite things/events of the year and another post talking about the things I've learned from this year. It's a nice way to reflect on the past year and take stock of what has been a mammoth of a year.
So, without further ado, and in the immortal words of Julie Andrews - these are a few of my favourite things (from 2015).

  • Family and friends - they have to go top of this list! 
  • Freckles
  • The plethora of Agatha Christie whodunnits on Radio Four Extra to mark 125 years since the great authoress was born
  • Sharing recipes with friends - always love to try new and exciting foods, although there's no pre-requisite for the food to be either new or exciting
  • Spelling
  • The countryside
  • Netflix - oh so many hours indulging my love of trash TV and rewatching classics like The Thick Of It
  • The word "Yes"
  • The word "No"
  • Talking all night
  • Sleeping all night
  • Getting a job that I love 
  • Walking
  • Holidays (especially if they come with a surprise room upgrade and are a decade overdue)
  • Writing essays and taking exams - not always my favourite thing to do, but worth an honourable mention as I spent so much of the first part of 2015 doing them!
  • Realising I have more than one shoulder to cry on
  • Discovering the band Chvrches: going to see them live and getting tickets for their special gig next year at the RAH
  • London
  • A Summer of watching cricket and drinking beer
  • Finding pilpel and their amazing falafel 
  • Robing rooms and court rooms
  • Dancing (with or without shoes)
  • Being surprised by my new love of watching the Tour de France
  • Puns
  • Theatre-going 
  • Tea - all day erryday
  • Celebrating whenever and wherever you can
...and so much more! 

What are some of your favourite things of 2015? 

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Sunday, 22 November 2015

UK Blog Awards 2016 - #UKBA16's that time of year again when the amazing UK Blog Awards open up and this year Life In Recovery has been entered into two of the categories; ODEON Cinema Headline Award: Best Storyteller and Health & Social Care!

I'm incredibly excited and pleased that the blog is taking part again this year. Last year was a great experience; connecting with lots of fabulous bloggers/vloggers/creatives who fill the internet with some incredible, powerful and inspiring content.

Voting won't open until January 4th 2016 and I'll be sure to keep you all informed - so stay tuned! You can follow all the chat and discover other blogs entered into the UK Blog Awards 2016 by checking out the #UKBA16 feed on Twitter.

As ever, I massively appreciate all of you reading, watching and reacting to the (far too infrequent) bits and bobs I create on this blog.

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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Remembrance Day 2015: We Will Remember Them

Tomorrow - 11th November at 11:00 - marks the anniversary of the end of World War 1. At 11am the country will go silent for two minutes, in respect and in memory of all who lost their lives.

I had the enormous privilege of singing at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday for the Festival of Remembrance.
As part of the events that mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War a concert is held at the Royal Albert Hall. The choir I sing with were asked to act as a chorus and backing vocals for the incredible and moving selection of music being performed. I have added some behind-the-scenes videos and pictures from the dress rehearsal, which I think show how amazing the event was.

It was an incredibly moving and emotional day; hearing the stories of survivors and the heartbreaking impact of injury, illness and bereavement.
It was also a day of celebration and thanksgiving; a chance to show the strength and resilience our forces have and say thank you to those who put their lives at risk.

On a personal note, it was an emotional day - tissues were needed at times! It also brought home to me the physical progress I have made in the last year. I performed last year in the same concerts, however, it is a very long day - starting at 06:30 and finishing at 22:00. It had been a real struggle to find the energy throughout the day last time around. However, this year, despite working a full week, my stamina held up and I thoroughly enjoyed each moment. It is moments and days like these that bring home and crystallise how far my recovery has come. Often, like on Saturday, I need to be reminded of how far I've come. So I must thank those who are closest to me for helping me digest and celebrate the progress of the last year. It never hurts to look back a little, take stock and appreciate how things can move onwards and upwards!

The efforts and dedication of our armed forces are often taken for granted. Sometimes their human stories are lost. To have the chance to not only see the talent, majesty and truth of these amazing people while being told some of their stories made for a day I will never forget.

In the words of John Maxwell Edmunds - "When you go Home, tell them of us and say, For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”

We will remember them.

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Education: How to apply to University with Extenuating Circumstances

This video contains some guidance about how to let universities know about extenuating circumstances and the steps you can take to make things easier.

UCAS website -

The Student Room threads on extenuating circumstances -

Common problems (including extenuating circumstances) -

I really hope you enjoy watching the videos and that they can help you or someone you know. I would love to hear from you if you have anything you would like to say - please do comment below!

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

How to manage Perfectionism and the Pursuit of Perfection

A video about perfectionism and how, in the extreme, it could be detrimental to health and well-being. This video contains some guidance on how to gain a more balanced outlook.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself” - Anna Quindlen.

I really hope you enjoy watching the videos and that they can help you or someone you know. I would love to hear from you if you have anything you would like to say.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Anniversary - two years on from hospital...

This time last year I uploaded a post that I had written on my personal Facebook page to mark the one year anniversary of leaving hospital. I wrote a pre-cursor to this saying:
"I have just written a 'status update' on my personal Facebook page to my friends and it occurred to me that I also want to say thank you to all of YOU. So I'm going to paste in what I wrote word-for-word on here. 
This isn't something I thought I would ever feel comfortable doing. I try to keep Life In Recovery and my personal life reasonably separate. Not because I am ashamed of the blog but because I think it works better if I don't use this as a platform to air my private life and that I use my past and present experiences in a constructive way to help others who may be struggling. That won't be changing.
Keeping this blog, creating videos and posting little (or a lotta) bits on Twitter has been an absolutely wonderful experience. I hope to continue the work I have only just started and love interacting and discovering all of you 'out there.' This is why I felt it was relevant to post the message I sent to my friends and family to you all as well."

You can read last years full post here in all it's gushy glory!

I am not going to re-word that pre-cursor for this year, as I think it sums up exactly how I feel now. Again, this is not something I would usually do (or feel comfortable with) but it does seem very appropriate and something I want to share on this platform. 

So, for a second year running, here goes...

"Some of you may know that today marks a significant anniversary for me. Today - August 5th - marks two years since I was discharged from hospital. (And no, don't worry...I'm not going to be doing this every year..!)
Last year I wrote about how thankful, amazed and appreciative I was to have a chance to live a happy and full life. Nothing about that has changed. Except maybe that I am more sure, more certain and more definite that that 'chance' is now more of a certainty - I am living, and will continue to live, that happy and full life thanks to so many people.
If I thought that first year out of hospital was an eventful and momentous one then I was unprepared for this year! I have no words left to describe how this second year has been. It has been indescribably *more* than I ever expected.
I don't want to bleat on about each individual milestone or were probably witness to a lot of those anyway! What I do want to say is that the last year was one of the best years of my life. That's not to say that it was perfect and it has had it's rocky patches, but that only makes the year all the more real and true. Those difficult times have taught me a lot, both about myself and others, and they have made the countless wonderful and overwhelmingly positive times so much more authentic. At times I have been unable to contain my excitement and happiness about everything that has happened this year. I have often had to pinch myself and I continue to be amazed and humbled by all the loveliness!
Just as I did last time, I want to thank you all for your friendship, support and for the shared experiences we have had together. I have met lots of amazing people this year who, along with the lovely people who read my post last year, have added so much to this year.
To the friends and family who have seen up close the changes these past couple of years have brought and who've been there with a solid shoulder, a helping hand, a beaming smile or a thumbs up - thank you.
I think the phrase 'wonderful and overwhelmingly positive' pretty much sums up the year. I'm so excited and curious to see what this next year will bring us all."

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Friday, 22 May 2015

'Doing your bit': London Legal Walk 2015

A little bit of a more general/personal post today! But, as with the voting post I did here, it's ultimately all about helping the community and improving lives and well-being.

On Monday 18th May 2015, I, along with over 9000 other people, took part in the London Legal Walk.
The 10 kilometre walk around London is held each year to raise funds for free legal advice charities in London and the South East. Individuals, universities and law firms took part. I even saw babies and dogs tagging along! To find out more visit the London Legal Support Trust website here,
So far, with just this walk, over £600,000 has been raised!

Personally, it was an incredible experience. The weather turned out beautiful, after a very dull and wet morning! I had been a little concerned about making it round the whole 10km course, but I'm thrilled to say I managed it in just over two hours. This is a bit of a milestone for me, as two years ago I was struggling to walk 10 metres, let alone 10 kilometres!
So, overall, it was not only a brilliant opportunity to raise money for an awesome cause and meet some inspirational people, but also a personal triumph.

As you can see from the photos, we saw lots of different parts of London. It was a great opportunity to explore London, even though I've been here a while now it's still so much fun to play at being a tourist! We started and finished the walk behind the Royal Courts of Justice, just round the corner from the Law Society, in the heart of the legal district of Chancery apt setting and one which I find both inspirational and aspirational. There was a street-party afterwards and we danced to Samba music, drank beer while the stilt-walkers weaved in between the crowds and dressed up for silly photos in the (rather cool) photo booth.

I highly recommend the event to anyone who is interested in law, justice, equality or social care. It's superbly run and organised. It's also a fantastic opportunity to network whilst getting some good exercise and raising money for a deserving cause. You'll definitely see me there next year!

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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Why voting matters and how to have a voice

A video about the importance of voting in the United Kingdom's General Election 2015.

“To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers.” Louis L'Amour.

Useful links for making your mind up:

Useful links for registering to vote:

I really hope you enjoy watching the videos and that they can help you or someone you know. I would love to hear from you if you have anything you would like to say.

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Sunday, 8 February 2015

My contribution to the Self-Love Series

A little while ago, I wrote a quick blog post signposting you all to the simply splendid Suzy's website so that you could read the wonderful series she is curating on self love. If you didn't read the post I wrote explaining all about the series and why it's inspiring and positive then now is your chance! (

I mentioned that I was also contributing a piece to the series and I'm pleased to say that it's now 'live' on her website here. I'd love for you all to hop on over there to read it.

Please do take a look at the series' archives here. There are some wonderful articles: all about finding health and happiness. There'll also be more self-love posts popping up like little rays of sunshine this winter on Suzy's blog so make sure you check them out!

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Jargon Buster - Psychosomatic

A short film explaining the meaning of the word 'Psychosomatic'.

"Your body hears everything your mind says" - Naomi Judd

Links to online information:

I really hope you enjoy watching the videos and that they can help you or someone you know. I would love to hear from you if you have anything you would like to say.

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Drugs and Medication: It's re-think time!

I got an email from a lovely lady called Judy from The American Recall Center asking if I would like to contribute a blog post to help raise awareness about the importance of drug safety. The reason they wanted a post is because this week (January 26th - 31st) is National Drug Facts Week
As I believe strongly in being as informed as possible about medications and drug therapies I thought it seemed like a great opportunity to join the conversation and write a piece for National Drug Facts Week. Thank you to Judy for bringing this to my attention (and thinking of my blog!) and also for providing the informative pictures included below.

This is going to sound like a silly statement to make but I'm going to make it anyway...It's really important to understand what the medication you're taking is, why exactly you're on it and what it aims to do for you.
So many of us are now on some kind of prescriptive medication or taking over-the-counter drugs.
In western society we 'pop' pills like they're Tic Tacs, often with no thought to what the medications are really for, what prolonged use of them can mean or whether they're actually solving the problem.

I'm not trying to scare-monger, nor am I advocating ditching medications. Far from it. Many conditions require the use of drugs to control or lessen symptoms. There's no disputing that. I myself have, over the years, needed a cocktail of drugs to manage symptoms and try to 'cure' my ill health.
However, there's also no disputing the fact that a lot of the time we may not fully grasp the impact that taking prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications has on our psyches and our bodies.

All I'm aiming to do with this short post is to highlight the need for us all to be a little more selective and careful when adopting new drugs or medication regimes. 
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is anything you can do that will compliment or support your health, without the sole help of medication or even before you try taking medication.
Would a more holistic approach to well-being not reduce the amount of unnecessary antibiotics, antidepressants, sleeping pills etc. that are prescribed?

An holistic approach could involve looking at the underlying cause for repeated infections, insomnia, low mood etc. I believe that the stresses and strains of modern life can make us more susceptible to becoming run-down. 
Some doctors fail to grasp the need to ask questions of their patients, to be more sensitive to their needs and to have empathy with their ills and ailments. Those few extra minutes of concern and care may alleviate the patient's worries and address their concerns. This could help set about a positive chain of results, rather than ending up with the patient clutching a sheaf of prescriptions for unnecessary drugs, which may end up masking the main problem.

It's not necessarily a simple solution as it would involve a rather radical re-think in mainstream medicine. However, I believe it's an achievable and important solution to an endemic problem.
Let's start seeing, hearing and treating people as a whole.

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Useful Sites/Links - Self-Love Series

I'm very excited to talk to you briefly about a Self-Love Series set-up and hosted by (the really, very awesome and lovely) Suzy of Eeep! I'm a blogger.

You can hear what prompted Suzy to start this fabulous series here.

This is an idea that I have, myself, thought about doing but I've never actually had the gumption to do it! So, I was thrilled when Suzy asked if I would like to contribute a piece to the Self-Love Series. I feel the series dove-tails with and compliments very nicely the aims of Life In Recovery. I'm excited to be part of something so proactive, positive and filled with a sense of community.

As Suzy herself says: "The overall aim is for this series to create an ongoing community of people who can support each other towards feeling happier and positive in ourselves because everyone knows it’s hard to do things on your own. We’re not talking crazy diets, we’re not talking dramatic personality changes, we’re talking small steps towards a bigger goal. I want you to be part of what I hope is going to be an awesome self-love community. So, who’s in?!"

(Well me, definitely!)

There are going to be posts on Suzy's site popping up throughout January and February. Look out for mine on Friday 6th February...But until then, check out the archive page here on Suzy's site for all the incredible content from some amazingly talented bloggers that might help to boost your self-esteem, channel positivity and generally find a happier (and ultimately) healthier way of life.

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