Not for the faint hearted

What makes your blood turn cold? Is there anything that makes you want to curl up in bed and never leave? Even if it means missing out on that drama filled episode of Love Island? 🙈 (I know, serious stuff, right?)

I get the fear when I look at my vastly declining bank account on the 20th of the month (I should have shares in Zara – like, for real!)

I get the fear when I am hungover AF and its 8pm on a Sunday night. I’m questioning the meaning of life over a dominoes and would rather stick needles in my eyes than go to work on Monday.

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I get the fear when I’m running around like a headless chicken, which is pretty much every day. I met my neighbour for the first time last week… he was laughing just a little too hard at me, breathing out my behind, red faced and slightly sweaty after just making the number 22. ‘Your the girl who’s always running for the bus.’ Seemingly infamous around these parts. 

We all have things we hate doing, feel like we would rather run a mile than face up too. Facing your fears – we hear that a lot right? Easier said than done, my friends, easier said than done.

I read something recently about the legend that is Will Smith, overcoming his fear of jumping out a plane at 14,000 ft to possible sudden death (also known as Skydiving!)

He spoke about how on the other side of fear, is the best life you can live. It’s a YouTube video if anyone is feeling inspired… the man would have you jumping out without a parachute he’s that convincing! 

For my 30th last year, my brother Ross who lives in Australia and his lovely other half Debbie bought me a skydive that expires in 4 weeks. I mean… a bag or pair of shoes would’ve sufficed. Who else would want to throw me out a plane for my birthday? 😜

Naturally, you google, don’t you? NEVER google kids. Got the cold? Your leg needs amputated. How many calories are in an Indian take away? Death! How safe is sky diving for females…? You get the picture. Skydiving granny loses teeth? Death from laughing! 😂 Good old Google.

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But seriously, when was the last time you felt exhilarated and stepped outside that warm, cosy little comfort zone? When was the last time you thought ‘I actually DID it!’

I honestly couldn’t remember mine. Maybe starting a blog? Doing 6am exercise class while shouting about unicorns and hugging strangers? Does getting a skinny latte with no syrup count?

Maybe it’s going on a first date? Recording a Facebook live? Speaking your mind?

I get the fear trying to tell my hairdresser she made me look more like a member of Hanson than that Taylor Swift number I was hoping for… mmm please stop! Da da daaaaaa. 😳

Funny, isn’t it? We spend so long worrying, obsessing, scared stupid about overcoming something, saying something, or worry what people might think of us. Wasting sleepless nights over the inevitable… when we know we HAVE to do it. 

When my boss asked me to say a few words at our work annual summer conference with over 100 people attending – I happily agreed. I was SUPER delighted. What a great opportunity! I was calling Chris, feeling super chuffed to even be asked. It was a huge deal for me. 

That night, on the 22 bus home, my self doubt crept in like a thief in the night, an old nemesis tapping me on the shoulder. Hello public speaking, it’s been a while.

What I would say, who would all be there. What. Have. I. FREAKIN. Done? I can’t. I can. What’s even happening? My mind was shutting down and telling me to run and never look back! 

Public speaking is something I am sure will resonate fear with many people and I guess that it’s definitely a huge human commonality… and nice to know I’m not the only one who has the fear of collapsing with nerves. 

One of my biggest limelight moments was circa 1990, where I managed to have a nativity play called off and then postponed while playing a donkey in Bethlehem.

Nerves got to me. I remember it like it was yesterday. I desperately needed the toilet and was too scared and nervous to ask anyone as I was on stage. I was hot under the heavy, long face mask and wired head of hay as hair. The sea of faces staring at me as my line was fast approaching. What will I do? 

I knelt down and pretended to tie my hooves (aka – my new Clarks magic steps buckle shoes… anyone else remember them?) Everyone was looking directly at me but my line failed to escape my mouth. 

Before I knew it, one of the wise men started pointing and shouting his mum over for help while telling me that I had been in an ‘accident.’ I don’t think he knew my name… so before I was whisked off stage, the last thing I heard was along the lines of ‘The donkey made a mess!’ 

I recall trying to pass my nerves as apple juice, praying my sharp 4 year old antics would buy me an out of the stables card… but I was busted. The play was cancelled and my pride was battered. Damn wise men! The incident stayed with me for long, long time… my Mum likes to remind me every so often, you know, for the banter. 

After a couple of restless and exciting  nights with lots of practise, the day had arrived, it was summer conference o’clock.

*Must use toilet before*

I wore my best professional ‘I’m an adult’ dress, woke up extra early to have a coffee and even brushed my hair for the occasion. I was first up on stage, introducing our chairman and kicking off the day.

I had read over my notes 1000 times, it was hardly a novel . It was like I had the memory of a gold fish. My brain was frozen over. Need wine. Large wine. Straw. Help.

The room started to swell with people arriving, so did my fat fingers! It was like that panic you get when you can’t get a ring off in Topshop and you think you might have to surgically saw it off or send for fairy liquid… the panic is real, right? As I tried to lift my glass of water my hands trembled ever so slightly. 

‘Knock em dead’ my boss whispered to me. It was time.

I quickly shoved a piece of rather large shortbread in my mouth (great delaying tactic) and had my last gulp of water. Why did EVERYONE have to come today? They all came to see me pass out and die on the spot, obviously. 

I made my way up to the stage, the voices from the tables were quieting and all eyes were turning towards me. The microphone taunting me… 

Negative thoughts started to swarm my head and I could feel that self-doubt creeping in. Why am I doing this to myself? It’s self-sabotage! My leg started to tremble ever so slightly, but I drew a deep breath and tried to think of everyone naked. Then had to quickly revert. Cancel that! Abort mission! I work with these people! Ok, focus. You can do this. 

‘Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming along to today’s annual summer conference…’

And just like that – I was done! Pow pow pow! I survived! No one died, I got a few laughs and the more I spoke, the more I wanted to stay up there! I was so proud of myself I wanted to pat myself on the back. If I didn’t look a little weird then I possibly would have.

I had a few smiles and nods as I returned to my seat. I shoved my remaining short bread in my mouth and text Mum quickly.

‘Mum, made it out alive! No fainting or projectile vomiting, now eating shortbread and mentally conjuring up ways to become a world famous speaker. See you soon.’

I spent so much time fearing something I actually ended up loving. The fact that I pushed myself outside my normal comfort zone made me feel well…. pretty amazing!


I guess that by pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, you have that ‘I actually did it!’ attitude and it feels amazing, like you are on a high. As Will Smith said, the best life we can live is on the other side of fear. 

What scares you the most?

So jump out that plane at 14,000 ft, go on a random blind date with a stranger, run a marathon for the first time, book a holiday all on your own… quit your 9 – 5 day job and travel the world! Start everything over if you’re not happy. 

I guess it really comes down to this. Find your own worth from within and not from what others think of you. Worrying about tomorrow is wasting your today. Always believe you can, even when your fear is irrational, because you will. And no matter how big the fear is, you, my friend are bigger than it. Anyway… wouldn’t you regret the things you didn’t do in life the most? 

Half the fun is in trying and making hilarious, forever stories along the way… and if all goes wrong? 

There’s always Love Island, a bottle of wine and another day to slay! ❤️

Ash x

*** MIC DROP ***

Beyonce "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" - Los Angeles

 

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Move over, January blues

Munro completed  from bucket list 2014. Cairngorms.

Munro completed from bucket list 2014.

January. Here again, are we? Where did you come from? And what did you do to the jolly old me I knew just a few weeks ago?

I know I’m not the only one out there who has inevitably drained the Prosecco pool dry, consumed every last chocolate crumb and shovelled every last existing morsel of cheese and crackers down my face until I needed to nap just to recover from the daily strains of eating my body weight. But boy, how GOOD was it at the time? And now, it’s officially back to reality. What do you mean I need to go a day without a Baileys on ice?

The last day of the calendar year arrives at my door step rapidly, much like an unwanted Topshop bill that I peer at, scared as hell, through the small gaps in my fingers, as if I were about to watch a horror film unfold in front of me (let’s be honest, it is pretty terrifying when you see the price of your beautiful new dress has been dramatically slashed in sale… now THAT will haunt you at night people!) Truth is, I’ve never been a big NY fan. In fact, if I had my way, I would ensure that under ‘Anti-Climax’ in the old Cambridge Dictionary, it would read ‘New Year’s Eve.’ I could count on one hand the times I actually remembered my night, additionally the times I didn’t hysterically cry during/before/after for no apparent reason at all. I always associate it with goodbyes, never easy and emotionally draining. It’s like a short lived friendship, one that will ultimately define you and test you through thick and thin. Memories, holidays, laughs, tears, new experiences, special occasions, birthday’s, increased dosages of anti-wrinkle cream, then it just all suddenly evaporates, leaving nothing but distant memory behind. Poof – it’s gone. All down to three little words. Wait, come back, wasn’t there things we were supposed to do before you left 2014?! I’m sure you promised you would teach me how to knit… wait, come back!

Any year, no matter how utter crap or brilliant it turned out to be, will hold some sort of place in your heart, because we remember our experiences by year, don’t we? All the best and worst memories are highlighted with a neon pink marker, so they can be vividly recalled as often, or little as necessary. A year is made up of 365 days, but the moments you remember will stand the test of time. ‘Remember 2013?’ I would say to my friends. The year we were single, lived in Edinburgh, drinking cocktails for breakfast, finally going to Ibiza and grabbing every opportunity to go out and dance our much smaller butts off? Oh, those were the days girls…’ Now, I’m lucky if I last till 1am without having my Pj’s on and cup of tea in hand. What have you done to me, time?

Whether you like to admit it or not, everyone starts a ‘New Year, New Me’ idealistic plan for the month ahead and for a short while, have the best intentions imaginable. You begin to ponder on the year yet to come and the year passed. You can’t help but wonder what this new, shiny, untouched 12 months could potentially have in store and that absolutely anything is possible.

The turning of a new page can be pretty unnerving. I guess I have just started to appreciate going into the unknown and seeing it as an opportunity to make it your own, rather than wish it was summer already and that every Monday was a Friday (especially as the big 3-0 is getting ready to take me hostage me next year) It’s like an imaginary slate that you get once a year to (almost) erase every bad day at work you had, every piece of Dominoes pizza you ever consumed, those drunk texts that left you banging your head against the wall while engulfed in unadulterated embarrassment.

I like looking back and seeing how I’ve grown and what I’ve achieved during the year. As the saying goes, you really do live and learn, more often than not, the hard way. Often, I tend to find myself in situations that I want the ground to swallow me up; over thinking the situation for weeks on end, cringing in bed at the very thought of what happened wishing the recipient of my blunder has now forgotten and erased it from their memory. Then, as time passes, you slowly start to laugh as it wasn’t really that big of a deal, was it? You realise that what happened, well, it’s really just a small ripple on the perpetual surface of the sea, because you grow from it… and to be frank, there’s usually a lot bigger fish to fry.

I try to recall my ‘resolutions’ from last year. Nope, whatever they were I didn’t stick to them. As if. Who really wants to drink less and eat more lettuce anyway? I did, however make a bucket list. Making a list of things I wanted to do instead of the things I shouldn’t seemed much more plausible. Blogging was one of them. Tick. Bag a few Munro’s. Done. Participate in a 5k race. POW! Learn the ukulele. Em, does one song count? Duet with Beyonce. Not so much.

It’s that time again to appreciate what you have done and what you can do this year. It’s quite exciting not knowing exactly what lies ahead, who knows what’s round the corner. I guess you are the only person who can choose to make it happen. 2015, I’m fully embracing you. I’ve decided to take an 8 weeks creative writing course to meet new people and to expand my experiences. I’ve booked a trip to Dubai, somewhere I’ve never been before. I would love to see the Northern lights in Iceland, InterRail through Europe, sky dive, learn how to surf and actually be able to stand up, become a backgammon champion, knit myself a scarf… to name a few. I’ve decided to see and do as much as I can because years can come and years can go, but it’s what you do with them that really counts in the end. I think January should be a time where you decide what’s yours for the taking, who and what you want to be. Maybe you had a bad year and this is your time, maybe you had the best year ever and the best is yet to come.

As morbid as this may sound, my lovely Uncle Scott, who is a current funeral director, tells me all the time that life is short (and believe me, he should know) and that people often say what they wished they had done as opposed to regretting anything they did. I guess it’s something I keep at the back of my mind every day. Instead of feeling blue this January and thinking about the things you shouldn’t be doing, think about the things that you should. Put down the finished book of 2014 and open that brand new chapter of 2015. The pen is in your hand, ready to start on this new, untouched, unwritten page. It’s just up to you how you want it to end. It’s YOUR story, make it the best, most interesting read you possibly can.

So… what’s on your bucket list?