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? ūüôą (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 ‚Äď 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? ūüėú

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! ūüėā 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. ūüė≥

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 ‚Äď 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‚Ķ 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. 

‚ÄėKnock em dead‚Äô 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‚Äôs 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. 

‚ÄėGood afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming along to today‚Äôs annual summer conference‚Ķ‚Äô

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! ‚̧ԳŹ

Ash x

*** MIC DROP ***

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

 

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Inspired blogging

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When I started blogging last year, it was for my own enjoyment. I love writing. I love that I can express how I feel, tell my side of the story, share my random experiences and do something that, well, makes me feel pretty damn proud.

Recently, the only writing I have been¬†actively participating in has been¬†long winded¬†work emails and¬†a monthly essential Boots shopping¬†list (that¬† tends to be arm length, comes at a hefty price and leaves me vigorously reading over the receipt the second I leave the shop, praying I’ve been mistakenly charged for a bar of gold!)¬†¬†I’ve really, really missed it. So, this is me, back in the game, going for gold, full steam ahead‚Ķ move over, pitiful shopping lists and say hello to 2016. Game. On. Blog.

Since I’ve fallen off the bandwagon on the¬†blog front this year, I thought it was about time I picked that dusty pen up, popped on my rusty thinking cap, search under my piles of Zara and Topshop ‚ÄėI don‚Äôt really need this but… oh my god, it should have been ¬£100 reduced to ¬£90, BARGIN!’ sale purchases, to find my trusty, red¬†laptop that hasn’t had even the slightest sniff at a Starbucks for about 6 months.¬†

My 2015 was¬†one of my best years I’ve ever had,¬†a complete whirlwind from start to finish and I¬†don’t think I stopped smiling the full time (well, when I watched my boyfriend fall in the fifth of forth in freezing temperatures on a stand up paddling lesson,¬†it made me cry… with laughter!) It’s been a year of celebrating 30ths, weddings, babies and¬†bumps…¬†I really just haven’t had the opportunity to blog much.¬†I mean, between all the gin¬†guzzling and general party schmoozing, being in your pj’s, drinking tea and watching SATC in bed almost every week night, it’s just SO tiring doing nothing!

Oh, how I’ve neglected you, dear blog. I promise it won’t happen again. I’ll buy you a venti, with an extra caramel shot and¬†big old fat¬†brownie to make up for my abominable behaviour. We got ourselves a deal?

As well-known author Charlotte Bronte once proclaimed ‘I’m just going to write, because I cannot help it.’ And I¬†agree, wholeheartedly.¬†High 5 Char! Word!¬†Amen to that, C-Brontz!

Or, perhaps, more apt dialect for the Bronte era would translate as ‘Fascinating. I completely and utterly agree, darling.’ Although, I still believe she would have thrown me a tremendous high five in there somewhere (Pow pow powww!)

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By no means do I think my writing is anywhere near impeccable, and by no means do I lose sleep over it at night. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s a work in progress. The more I do, like anything else, the more I learn and ultimately grow from my experiences.

Just like the first time I went for a full body massage. Apparently, you are meant to go UNDER the towel to cover your modesty, not lie on top, naked, looking¬†super eager¬†with nothing but Sesame Street pants on, getting told to ultimately… ‘put it away!’ Needless to say, my face was as red as my MAC lipstick that morning. Oh, shit. I believe the Balmoral got a little more than it bargained for that day.¬†

But, you live and learn as they say! Moral of the story: never wear cookie monster pants that have shrunk two sizes too small if there is a slight possibility anyone might see. Hungry bum = not a great look.

Throughout writing my blog, I have had phenomenal support from my family and friends, who, often ask me… ‘When’s the next¬†blog out?’ ‘When you pulling the finger out, it’s been ages?‚Äô¬†To which my reply usually¬†is ‘Well, I have ideas… I’m just not quite finished yet.’¬†They¬†generally fill me with reassurance and confidence about my passion for doing what I love. I’m sure if I wrote the biggest lot of gibbersh gobeldegok, they would still support me. I guess that’s one of the reasons¬† I love them so much.

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In life, they say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, and boy, do I have the pick of the bunch. I have a whole assortment of beautiful, caring, loving, can’t breath for laughing, and would do anything for you friendships. Some with the life span of 25 years, some as little as 2, but little does time matter when you meet the right people in life who make you laugh that little bit harder and smile that little bit more.

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They say the true meaning in life (no, no‚Ķ it’s not to drink all the gin, dance like an idiot to Britney while using a straw as a microphone ‚Äď sorry to break it!) is to love and be loved. It‚Äôs beautiful, right? I mean, when your friends still love you when you start throwing high 5’s to strangers¬†after a few tequilas, are eternally late for every event in life period and entertain your tree surgeon alter ego chat repeatedly on nights out, endure your cheese jokes and cooking skills, or, lack off… they deserve some sort of medal really!

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From the one‚Äôs¬†who live¬†round the corner to the one‚Äôs the other side of the world. The ones who I talk to everyday, and the one‚Äôs I don‚Äôt but even when I do feels like we’ve never had a day apart. For the times I‚Äôve danced with them, the times I‚Äôve been ridiculously drunk with them, the times I‚Äôve ate my body weight in halloumi¬†with them, the times we have laughed till we cried and cried till we laugh. I am eternally grateful for the strong, genuinely caring, loving¬†and inspirational friends I have around me on a daily basis.

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Sometimes, I guess¬†you need to stop and think about it for a second, to realize how truly lucky you are to have people you don’t know what you would do without. ¬†I have friends second to none who have inspired me to write this post today. Thanks for the encouragement/abuse/threats/inspirational words! I won’t fall off this time.

To a 2016 filled with more beautiful memories (and better pants, of course…)