Slam dunk your funk – elevate your mood & mind

Ever been in a funk that you just couldn’t get out of? You’re not out and out miserable just about ‘meh!’ about everything. Un-enthused, uninspired and indifferent. Funk symptoms include lethargy, grumpiness and over-somethings – over-eating, over-drinking, over-sleeping for instance.

Everyone goes through these periods. Often they just last a few hours but sometimes can stretch into days or weeks. That had happened to me while being in a place that most people would dream about being – a tropical Caribbean island. I won’t go into how being a budget traveller isn’t always the dream it may seem, that’s a whole other issue, but despite being somewhere I didn’t really want to be, that didn’t suite me at all, I was there for a few months still so I couldn’t change my environment, but I could change my attitude. I needed to shake things up a bit if I was going use my time well and not live to regret this stretch of island living.

Sometimes it is as simple as giving yourself a kick up the backside and sometimes a little more is needed to kick the despondency to the curb. Read more…

mybookcase

Inspiration out in the ether

One of the things I was finding about my very long stay on the little island of diving is that it feels like there’s no where to turn for inspiration.
It’s a tiny place. Everybody dives or drinks and that is all that is talked about. Any business there is, is here is rustic and usually selling food.

So, I’m looking around me for something mentally stimulating and getting frustrated as there’s nothing there. So, I turn to the internet, the outside world, where I can find any article or image out there. But the internet goes down or is unreliable. So continued frustration. So I’m even more frustrated. I have no where for the visual stimulation that I crave.

But then one afternoon, having given up trying to do any work, with the internet completely out, I picked up my Kindle and started re-reading one of my many half read books. Now I love to read and my kindle has been invaluable but generally I read it when I’m either on the move, on a plane or a boat or when I’m sat around waiting somewhere for hours, as is so common in travel. Whenever I am settled in a guesthouse or apartment and have free time, I always feel I should put it to productive use – working or planning or researching. Even if that, sometimes trails off into me being sidetracked by pinterest. Somehow being online, feels like I’m at least ready to slip into action and I feel it’s a tunnel to world out there, where I can get ideas, interested and inspired.

But throwing in the towel and falling completely into my book was the most amazing thing. Admittedly I am a bit obsessive with books and if I don’t have to put it down, I don’t like to, so on that first day I was up till 5am to get to the end. I had to get to the end. I was swept up with it, completely and wholly.
Then the next book and the next – allowing myself to get sucked in. Yes it is making me anti-social. But so be it. It gives me what I have needed and what I had not forgotten, but not felt for so long, an escape.

But what about the inspiration? Well, how else can I enter a whole multitude of other worlds and be part of so many other people’s lives? If I’m looking for something online, then I’m not being surprised and taken in turns I don’t expect. My island escape and my search for new things, ideas and concepts was with me all along. Luckily I had spent a good year adding books to my kindle so I do have quite a good library still to plough through. It was also something I really wanted to do as part of travel, something I never did much when caught up in the daily grind. My travel time is running out so I’d be crazy not to get on with it and this island is the perfect time.
All hail the e-reader and the places it’s going to take me, when I have nowhere to go!

angels

Quit the excuses lady! … giving myself a good talking to.

Well, I have landed in the Honduran Island of Utila, in the Caribbean sea. Mark is going to be qualifying as a dive instructor over the next couple of months, so for me, on this tiny island with virtually nothing to do but dive and lounge around, I want to take the opportunity to do a bit of online work but also get some projects going and do myself some learnin’.

My idea of how it was going to be has, as usual turned out to be way off. But that’s fine. That’s normal. I was looking forward to tucking myself away and getting on with things but have been scuppered by firstly the fact that this is one heck of  a noisy place and having had some really noisy neighbours, slamming doors and shouting day and night, alongside another neighbour who blares out his bad organ music, a little youth club across the road where the kids spend all their time shouting and screaming and the parrots downstairs singing Old MacDonald or chattering inanely. The sound in our wooden building basically bounces around and it’s like everyone is in the room with you. So, I’ve been surrounded by such chaos and noise that I’ve found it very difficult to get my head down and concentrate. Add to that the internet, which was pretty darned good for the first couple of weeks while we settled in, suddenly became almost non-existent and that, alongside power cuts, has made it tricky to do much of the things I need/want to do, as they are online based. As well as that, Mark hasn’t been out all day everyday – his hours are pretty erratic and he is often mooching about the place or studying or wanting to go to do something, so I’m not getting as much time and space as I would like.

So there are lots of things that have scuppered me getting down and working, doing research and just generally beginning my quest for whatever it is that I might want to do with the rest of my life.

Or have they? Indeed, these things have all been a pain in the backside and frustrating but is that really what has stopped me even starting doing anything productive? Or is it just me finding excuses not to start something because it scares me that I’m never going to find something I’d like to do and that I’m any good at. Is it because actually when you’re travelling around you don’t have time to think about the future other than ponderings with a drink in hand in some foreign bar. The future can be scary. It’s quite nice to avoid it sometimes but it’ll always catch up with you. As the first stage of our trip nears an end and our money depletes at a rapid pace, while there’s a sharp increase in bills at home for our anchor round the neck property (which I swear is trying to drown us) – an unease is settling upon us. The 3 + months to be spent on this island frivolously trying to find my destiny, has turned more to ‘bugger, I’d better try and get some paid work to pay for the higher than we realised costs of being on this island’. And the first month of those 3 is nearing an end and I’ve really accomplished very little. Too many excuses. Too little action.

And do I really believe that I’m going to stumble on my new direction in a couple of months on a teensy island – even with 24/7 of the fasted internet speed? It doesn’t really work like that. I didn’t find what I wanted to do in the 18 months I’ve been travelling up to now and I sure as hell didn’t find it in the years leading up to our trip. I’ve got to stop chasing this mystical thing which I’m going to ‘discover’ somewhere. Maybe I’ll pick up a rock on the beach and there’ll be a little note from the destiny fairies, but I think that’s not all that likely.

Instead I need to get on, get myself out there, continue with the online work that I was doing, because it’s good to have money coming in and I did enjoy it. Get back to writing blogs for feelgoodyouknowthatyoushould.com and our travel blog ktandmark.travellerspoint.com and on here, because actually that is the thing that makes me most happy, just losing myself to rambling on to no-one in particular.
I remember when I finished a photography course, which I had loved doing, in my final presentation I said that I had learned most of all that I don’t care a jot if other people like my photographs. It’s obviously nice if they do, but I like them, they make me happy, I’m not trying to do it as a career and that’s that. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to my own confident assertion here. That is exactly what I should be doing when it comes to writing. I’ll probably not make it into a career as such but I enjoy it, I find it almost meditative so rather than being reticent and thinking too much about it, I should just bloody well get on and do it.

So that is my kick-up the backside to myself for today. I’ve been here often. One really can be terribly naughty when left up to one’s own devices. You really got to get your bad self to step in and sort yourself out!! So, Katie, stop making excuses, stop pussy footing around, stop searching for something that doesn’t exist and just get on with it. Fill your world with inspiration, ideas, creativity and action and a lot less ‘if only’s.

Don’t blame it on the weather, man

When we first left on our long trip (now 18 months and counting), one of the things in the forefront of our mind was the weather. In the UK, where it is more often than not, wet and cold, including during summer. When blue sky days are few and far between, getting away to the sun is a lot of people’s obsessions. I think a yearly trip abroad to sunnier climes literally keeps some folk sane. I know I was one. I have shunned more interesting locations simply to try to ensure some bright days and the sun’s rays.

Everything always seems better when it’s sunny. While I don’t deny that some things are improved, I also think we have a slightly rose tinted view of hot weather because we can generally relate it to positive things – being on holiday where you’re not working and so are relaxed, with people you love and generally treating yourself. On those rare sunny days at home that fall on a weekend, generally the world is a happy place – everyone gets outside if they can – to the beach, to the park or in the backgarden for a barbecue. You get together with friends, you relax and have a jolly old time. Ergo, sun = fun.
Read more…

Feel Good With Traditional World Music Festivals (from guest blogger Jenny O’ Conner)

In order to get the most out of your travel experiences it is important to really embrace the true culture of a destination. There are plenty of ways to do this from learning the language to sampling the local cuisine. However, one of the most feel-good ways of truly getting to know the deep-rooted history of a culture is through its music. Music conveys emotions and tells a story in a unique way that can really express the hidden nuances of a culture. However, it is not always that easy to come across (let alone identify) true traditional music. A great way around this is to be savvy on your traditional world music festival knowledge and plan your travels so that you get to hit a music festival along the way. To help you out, here is a list of five of the world’s greatest roots, folk and traditional music festivals from all four corners of the globe. Read more…

Life – as if through a lens

A few years ago I did a creative photography course. Despite forgetting half the technical stuff, I still enjoy taking photographs but the most valuable thing I took away from that course was a new way of seeing my world.
Of course taking photographs when you’re somewhere amazing is satisfying and likely to provide good results, but it’s the photographs in the places you see everyday that can make a small but significant adjustment to your mindset.

You can walk down a scruffy street on an overcast day and it can easily add to your over-cast mood. Walk down that same street with your camera, trying to find things to take photographs of, makes you see the street in a whole new way. You are searching for interest and beauty. I guarantee you will find it – no matter where you are. A colourful sweet wrapper in a pile of rotting leaves, a disintegrating metal gate, gnarled and chipped in interesting ways, a lone wildflower in a derelict wasteland. It may be rubbish or decay but it can still be beautiful. Read more…

Sad movies make me…. happy?

I was interested but not surprised to read, about a study which suggests watching sad movies make people happy. The study at Ohio State University found that, having subjects watch the movie Atonement (definitely not a cheery tale), encouraged viewers to think about the positive aspects of their own close relationships and to count their blessings, which boosted their happiness levels.

It was not, as you might have thought, people thinking “Oh, their life sucks, that makes me feel much better about mine”, but it actually made them reflect on the good things about the relationships in their life. Those who, after the movie, were just thinking about themselves, rather than about their close bonds, didn’t experience any increase in life happiness. Read more…

There’s No Limits

Anyone remember the repetitive, yet slightly addictive, song “No Limits” from the 90s? If not, please allow me to introduce you (you probably won’t be thanking me)…
No Limits on You Tube.
With it’s repetitive use of the word ‘no’, was the song trying to contradict it’s own message of potential freedom of spirit and will? Was it trying to brainwash our susceptible minds with that short but powerful negative word (72 nos apparently), to undermine the idea that we are possible of achieving anything we set our minds to????
Nope! It really was just catchy euro pop nonsense! But back to the words – the idea of there being no limits to life is something I became familiar with years ago when I started reading books on self improvement. The term ‘Self Improvement’ does always sounds like something you should to at a French finishing school, but ‘Self-Help’ as a description tends to have an even bigger stigma… ‘Personal Development’ maybe? Or does that sound like a class at school to tell you about how your body is maturing? ANYWAY, forgetting the labelling, one of the key notions of any good book or lecture on being the best you and being successful is that you have to believe that you have no limits.
Read more…

You gotta treat yourself right

I think it’s always important, no matter what is going on in your life and especially if there is a lot going on, that you make sure you treat yourself. Make a habit of it. Make sure you do this at least once a month. Put it in the calendar, put it on your To Do list. It’s worth it. You not only have something to look forward to, you have something to look back on. Don’t underestimate the importance of that in this crazy paced life.

So, how can you treat yourself? Well of course this could be lavish – taking yourself off for a weekend to a spa or a day at a racetrack driving fast cars, but really I think that the big splashes can miss the point of what is really treating yourself and can just become another hassle/thing you have to squeeze into your busy life. Not to mention the fact that it’s not feasible for many of our budgets or schedules.
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Swap skills

Swap skills with friends, family or acquaintances. You can arrange flowers, Mary can knit. Get together over tea, coffee or cocktails and spend time passing on what you know and learning something new.

Swapping skills can scoop out a bunch of sweets from the feel good pick and mix. The following things have come up time and again on happiness studies:
– Doing something that positively impacts others (has a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself).
– Learning something new.
– Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive
– Spending time with people you like
Read more…