Anxiety is such a bummer!

Hello, my lovely readers and Happy Monday!

We are into week 2 of the ‘Social Distancing’ phase of Covid19 here in Ireland and what an experience it has been so far! I have promised new content to you all for a while, and I apologise for the delay on getting to it. I’ve had a bit of a period in life where everything has happened all at once and yet nothing seemed to be progressing, if that makes sense. I’ve been busy and yet I’ve had plenty of spare time, but what happened to that time I can’t make sense of it at all. Let’s just say, it was filled with plenty of anxiety, a good dose of stress and a lot of me trying not to sit still for fear of where my mind would take me. And by not sitting still, most of it was most likely filled with Netflix. Be under no illusion that I exercised because the time I had set aside for that, well… poof! It just disappeared!

Is this an anxiety related post?! A little bit odd you would think for someone who is a Christian and believes in Jesus and His promises of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), who puts out such a positive front on social media, and who is generally a very happy positive individual. Well, before we continue let’s take a moment to accept that this is going to be a very blunt, very raw post. So, approach with caution and please let me know your thoughts afterwards!

This past season has taught me if nothing else, that I am only human and sometimes life is difficult! It might sound worse than it is, and I can definitely say my situation has not gotten to any stage it’s been like before in worse times. I am far better off than a lot of people but if you have ever experienced anxiety in any form, you will know that no matter how good you have it, all you can see are problems. Anxiety has a way of ramping up situations to look more terrifying than they actually are and to be quite frank, it’s a bit of a pain in the backside.

I want to encourage you all, those who are currently suffering with anxiety, those who have never suffered with anxiety and those who have overcome anxiety, it is just for a season! We go through life and have many experiences; sometimes bad ones and I’d like to think most times good ones. Often, we build up stigmas around scenarios and life choices because of past experiences. With these stigmas in place we avoid and sabotage our own growth, our own happiness, our own love. When we are in a place of feeling anxious, we are really in a place of fear – fear of the unknown and to our own demise, fear of the known. But sure, why would we fear what we already know you ask? Ha well let me tell you! Anxiety has a funny way of making you feel inadequate, insecure, inept. Lies for definite, but for those brief and sometimes long spells of unease we succumb to them. A truth I must remind myself of in these times is: Where fear lives, Love unfortunately cannot! And in this realisation is where I begin to fight my battle…

Love gives us peace, it gives us happiness, it sparks encouragement and laughter. What I have found in times of feeling anxious, is that I can get copious amount of encouragement and love from all around me and yet still feel caught in a snare of my own self sabotage. And that’s exactly what anxiety is, self-sabotage! From experience, the only way to battle this stage of anxiety is to call yourself out on your own shit! Excuse the blunt language!

Why are you feeling anxious?

Why are you holding yourself back?

Do you have a legit reason to feel that way, or is it just overthinking?

What can you do about the situation to have a better mindset towards it?

How do you expect someone to understand what’s going on inside your mind, if you’re not willing to talk about it?

Are you uncomfortable? If so, make the change to get to where you need to be to feel comfortable!

These are questions I ask myself to cut down the long grass in my mind so I can finally see the meadow. Sometimes I can get through it quickly and no one would even notice I’ve had an anxious thought, yet other times it’s a lot more difficult!

I am a firm believer in God and Jesus Christ His son and sometimes even that is not enough. Before you judge me, and yes, I’m referring to fellow Christians in that too, let me explain. I am only human; I am not perfect. In fact, I am far from it, and when my mind decides to have a little meltdown sometimes nothing can stop it from doing so. Does that falter my faith?! Certainly not! Does it make me any less of a Christian?! I don’t think so. What it does make me is a human being living in a fallen world doing her best to get through life and with the aid of God in my life, I find it easier. If I didn’t have God, this whole anxiety thing would a be a heck of a lot harder than what it already is. To all my believing and non-believing readers, my point is YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN!

We can’t do life alone, no matter what your beliefs are I’m sure you would agree that life is much better with family, friends, lovers, pets… We were not made to be alone; we were made to connect!

Give yourself a break. Practise self-compassion, self-grace, self-forgiveness! Yes, give your anxieties over to God, or whatever your faith beliefs are, but without love for yourself your actions will be null and void. God says we are made in His image, He says to treat our bodies like temples, living vessels for His Kingdom (apply this to your own beliefs), so then why do we not have compassion, grace and even forgiveness for ourselves? It’s such a hard hurdle to jump over I know, but there are so many ways to get to this point of self-love, and trust me it is a process, it does not happen overnight.

Journaling: write how you are feeling, compare it to how you want to feel and prepare a plan of action to get to that place of wellbeing!

Bucket Lists: what do you want to achieve in the coming weeks/months/years? Come up with techniques to make working towards your dreams a reality.

Affirmations: look up daily affirmations, write down the ones you believe in, that you are comfortable with and place them somewhere you will see each and every day!

Prayer and meditation: take time to connect with God, the Universe, your surroundings and allow yourself the time to breathe!

Connect: surround yourself with people who love you, people who want the best for you. Get rid of toxic relationships, situations, workplaces. Give your time and energy to those who help you to feel more like you, the beautiful, positive, creative being you were made to be!

If you are in a place of anxiety right now, please let me encourage you to act now!

You won’t regret it!

Perseverance

Hello, my gorgeous readers and thank you as always, for the wonderful support you give me. Today I am writing on something we have all experienced, and if not, then will experience at some point in our lives…

P E R S E V E R A N C E !

Most of you will know that I am a Christian, I’m not perfect, but my faith in God is a huge part of who I am, if not the biggest part of who I am! It has brought me through so many difficulties, and it’s also brought me through a lot of happiness in the most recent years of my life. I am part of a church called Trinity which is based in Dublin city centre. I volunteer some of my time to the church to take part in different areas, the biggest one being the Young Adults Group. I spoke on perseverance last year with the Young Adults and that’s where the bones of this blog post have come from. I hope you enjoy; I hope you take something from it, and most of all I hope you are encouraged to keep on going and keep fighting, because you are a W A R R I O R !

For full disclosure, my faith based blog posts are not to push anything on anyone. I have so much respect for everyone no matter what your beliefs are or are not. So please don’t let my faith discourage you from reading on, instead apply your faith or your beliefs to this and see what happens… I promise you won’t regret it!

When I was first asked to speak at Young Adults, the topic was patience. I went away to think about it and was like, God I’m pretty sure I’m quite patient. I’ve done a lot of work on myself to not have a short fuse anymore (short fuse not meaning aggressive, but just being ticked off by things and fully shutting myself down from it! So basically, going silent and turning into myself instead of dealing with the pressing issue), so why am I being asked to speak on patience?!

In Young Adults, we have an event graphic that goes out each week to highlight what we will be speaking on or just to show the general information. The one below, is the one that was sent out for this week that I was speaking. Notice how the word is not patience?! It’s perseverance! When I seen this, everything became clear, or just about. I knew what I had to speak on, but funnily enough, in prepping my talk I realised that patience has A LOT to do with persevering! So, we might see those words overlapping in our lives, but let’s dive in…

Perseverance – What does it mean?

Perseverance is doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Relatable words: staying power, tenacity, determination, purposefulness, firmness of purpose

Perseverance has an element of both negative and positive vibes, most times though it unfortunately is negative! How we decide to see it though, is up to us. Your mindset in difficult times is key! If you are going through a period of your life that persevering through a rough patch is where you are at, try and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah, its cliché. Yeah, its hard to see the trees from the woods when you’re in it, BUT… if you can focus all your energy on positive feelings you will get through your situation a lot easier!

Staying power, I love this wording! It seems to be something we have lost understanding of as a generation who live in a world where everything is constantly being upgraded. And at rapid turnovers too! Some of us don’t know how to stick around and fix things or simply don’t want to try new approaches to solving our problems. We live in a microwavable society; by that I mean we want it now and by now we mean 5 minutes ago. If it breaks, sure throw it out, we’ll get a new one. Don’t try fix it because that’s wasting valuable scrolling time. Our society has turned into one where it’s all about self and what we as individuals want. And we want it right now!

Whereas staying power has a whole other meaning. Staying power means we face our difficulties, our challenges, our heartbreaks, we assess the damage that has been caused and we try new approaches to fixing it!

An amazing example I have of Staying Power are my parents! Mum is a woman not to be messed with, lol. She is sweet and kind, gentle and hilarious at times, but by God is she tenacious. Dad is a man to respect and look up to! He is a gentle giant but he’s got my back if I need him to! My parents prayed for years for me, everyday they would lift my name to the heavens and support me from a distance. I wasn’t at home and didn’t see my mum or my dad for the most part of 4 years, by choice. A choice I reflect on now and am thankful for the lessons I learned but am sad for the time lost. Our relationship had been damaged, and both of them fought and fought and fought, everyday they prayed, everyday they tried to reach out and to no avail! Their staying power in that time, to me was phenomenal. Never once did they give up on me, even on days they found it most difficult. In fact, those more difficult days were probably when they done most of their praying! And now, here we are. Years later and our relationship has never been better!

Had mum of given up, had dad of not caring and left me at the back of his mind, had they not prayed, not persevered, God knows where I would be today! I firmly believe that their perseverance through those most difficult times is what kept the light shining on my life and on theirs. That perseverance, they turned it into P O S I T I V E  P E R S E V E R A N C E and to this day, they have come out the other side better people, a more experienced couple, and warriors I look up to!

Another case of persevering would be fighting for your purpose. Firmness of purpose is something that takes A  L O T of perseverance. Some people know exactly what they are meant to do in this life, and despite everything that comes up against them they keep pushing through the barricades to get to where they want to be. Lady Gaga for example, she went through abusive relationships, she was bullied in school, she was told from so many different people that she would never succeed at what she wanted to do… look at her now. She’s sang songs that we can all sing along to, Just Dance, Paparazzi, Shallow to name just a few. She has gone against normal pop culture and completely changed the usual expectations to a whole new world of imagination and creativity. She has even starred in a phenomenal remake of the famous movie ‘A Star Is Born’ to which she won Academy Awards for best original song. She is moving mountains in her industry and I am here for it!

Lady Gaga was and still is firm in her purpose. She is unyielding in what she wants from her life. She fought many battles of her own and guess what?! She persevered!

While Lady Gaga brings us back to our world now, we also see so many examples of perseverance in the bible. Take the book of Job for example. Job had everything taken away from him for no good reason at all. Yet we see Job continuing to persevere through every circumstantial change, through every painful moment, through it all he pushes through and remains faithful to God. There is a beautifully illustrated video of this on YouTube that you should check out! Linked here.

In our own lives it’s easy to see how difficult it can be to stay persistent and not give into our own indulgence, our own desire for the easy way out! But guess what guys and gals?! I’ve got news for you! We can tackle our own self defeat and continue to persevere through whatever life throws at us with just 3 simple steps.

3 Simple Steps to Persevere through hardships

  • Recognise the mountains that you are facing

Take a step back and look at the challenge in front of you, recognise it early on so that your trajectory is just about a smooth incline, even though it feels and looks like a vertical battle!

  • Recognise that there are some things that are out of your control

This is where patience comes in. There are times while persevering that we need to patient. Not everything is fixed or solved in an instant, healing takes time! It’s a process.

  • Recognise that God/The grander scheme of things is bigger

Prayer is a very powerful tool in keeping us focused and ploughing through difficult situations with confidence and grace. Prayer, meditation, self-awareness, it all helps in making persevering a lot easier.  

And with that, I must come to a close because I could write and write and write, but I want to challenge you guys to improve in the areas of your life that require perseverance.

My challenge to you is:

Highlight your strengths and appreciate them, but also HIGHLIGHT YOUR WEAKNESSES and IMPROVE IN THOSE AREAS. Get real with GOD! Get real with YOURSELF! Get real with the UNIVERSE!

Truths

Life is tough, but so are You!

If Jesus walked out of the grave, then I’m walking too!

Have an amazing weekend guys, and as always please feel free to leave some feedback! Hearing from you guys is what makes this so much more special! If only one person ever read a single blog I wrote and was blessed by it, then that makes my heart so happy!

All of my love and blessings …

Illuminare x

Social Media Detox Part III

Good Day to you my lovely readers and welcome to all and any passers-by or new committed followers. May I just say that it is an absolute honour to be using my ability to write to reach out to people and speak truth into their lives. I am absolutely blown away by the support I have received to date since setting this up in September and am so excited to see where the future guides me.

If you haven’t already read the Social Media Detoxing series, you can check out part I and part II on my blog. This is part III. Eliminating and Restructuring your life’s surroundings to build a safer, more enjoyable environment to live in. So, without further babbling, let’s dive right in…

Eliminate and Restructure

After identifying the stress inducer and accepting that I cannot control the world around me, it was time to eliminate and restructure! This step can either be a fun experience or a painful one, depending on the decisions you want to make.

I decided that for me, coming back to social media had to mean that my time would not be wasted. It needed to have a cause and a purpose. I decided that I would not allow myself to be sucked into the judgemental, hypocritical society again but rather would come back and bring positivity to the newsfeeds of people who wished to see it. Illuminare was created and its purpose is to motivate, inspire and illuminate the dark places bringing positivity and light into people’s worlds. This was my restructure plan! Positivity!

When coming back to social media, I also considered the pages I had previously liked and the friends that I had before. Some were great friends, some were friends that drifted apart, and others were friends just because they knew someone, who knew someone, who knew me. But sure, what’s the point in that?! People getting involved in your personal business and they don’t even know you?! Being recognised by a stranger in the street and them knowing your life story but you haven’t a clue who they are?! It’s all a bit too much for me!

In reference to pages, some suck you in with the name and say that this is what they are about, but then you like the page and all of a sudden your newsfeed is swarmed with content that is so irrelevant and is not what you want to see. Now I know Facebook and Instagram have added options to stop following a page or to even hide content, but that to me is just putting a carpet over a dusty floor… why hide it when you can just be rid of it?!

Eliminate.

If you are one of my friends on social media now, you will see that my posts are very little nowadays, in fact I rarely post about my personal life at all. My personal profiles are all on private and I only add or follow who I want to allow see my things or vice versa. Our lives are private, we were not meant to live a life that was constantly under pressure to pose for a photo or show the world what pair of runners we just bought! In the background, we probably broke our backs working and saving to buy those runners, but social media only sees the label… and that’s where the danger lies. The likes go up and up and up, chemicals are released in our brains, and we get addicted to living a lifestyle that we don’t truly live! It’s a false reality and it causes so many people to be anxious and fall into depression.

Restructure.

You need to decide what it is you want from Social Media or what you want to bring to it. If you are happy enough posting 40 photos a day, then by all means please continue to do so. But if deep down you are doing it ‘just because’ or trying to ‘up the likes’, please take a detox and reap the benefits. If you’re not as extreme as I was, don’t delete your page but instead, clear out the crap. Unfollow people who cause you to tense up, unfollow pages that share things you have no interest in, and don’t just unfriend, block the abusers! Go totally AWOL and log out of all your accounts! Give yourself at least a week’s break and watch and see how that week turns into 2 weeks, which turns into 2 months and sure life could not be better!

Your life is a gift. It’s precious and beautiful. You were not given the gift of life to squander it by becoming a drone to society, or to be bullied for that matter! We all go through a time in our lives where bullying affects us, but when you have ways and means to stop it, STOP IT!

Instead of reading the stories of dread, while I know some of them are about people who need to be supported, find and read, or rather write a story about peace and happiness. Sometimes our own mental health needs to be supported before we can support another. As the saying goes; ‘You cannot pour from an empty cup.’ You need to fill yourself to a point of overflowing before you can help someone else. And when you feel revived and unrestricted by the chains of addiction, submission, and even just out of pure habit, then you can be a light in people’s lives!

When you eliminate and restructure you will notice your mood changing, you will notice your happiness coming back. And can I just point something out that maybe you’ve gotten from this or maybe you haven’t? When you go through these 3 steps and come full circle, guess what?! YOU ARE NOW IN CONTROL! You are not held against your will to constantly check your notifications or share every moment of your life; your detox has released you from that and this is where the real work begins. This is the part where you need to train yourself to stick to a set amount of usage or simply stay off and have no usage of social media at all. It’s all in the retraining of the brain. I’m sure there are studies somewhere to show that social media addiction is as intoxicating as any drug addiction. The effects might not be the same physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually social media, like heroin, can suck the life from you. So be wide to it!

Detoxing from Social Media gives you the freedom to live. You will be surprised how much more time you have on your hands to get those things done that you’ve got on your many TO-DO lists. You will free up time to meet friends in the real world and not just facetime, something that has substituted meeting for coffees. Maybe you wanted to take up a class but you ‘haven’t had the time’… well now you do. And sure listen, you never really had time for an intimate relationship, either did you?!

*Ahem* now you do! Invest in your friendships, invest in your relationships, invest in your relationship with yourself, and please… invest in your spiritual relationships too!

Eliminate the negative and restructure to experience the positive. You do not owe anyone an explanation, but you owe it to yourself to look after and nourish your mental well-being! Now that we have made it through the 3 steps, identifying, accepting, eliminating and restructuring, it’s time to fill our time with positive vibes! At the bottom of this blog, I’ve attached some downloadable, screenshot-able pictures to encourage you to do something other than scroll…

The fact is, now that you are detoxing from monotonous scrolling, you have a heck of a lot more time on your hands whether you want to accept that or not! You have plenty of time to get your chores done, plenty of time to get in touch with your spirituality, and plenty of time to invest in good healthy relationships! So, get up off your butt and do wonderful things with your life. We only get the one, don’t waste it behind a screen!

Peace, Love and a Kick up the bum to get yourself motivated!

You Got This!

Illuminare xo

Things to do instead of wasting time scrolling

Social Media Detox part II

Good evening my lovely readers and Happy Monday! Let’s motivate ourselves this week by diving headfirst into the next step of Social Media detoxing; ‘Accepting that you cannot control everything’. That is one of the most hardest concepts to accept, accepting that we can’t control everything, and I use the word control in a manner not like controlling a person, but rather our environment. We cannot control the words or actions of another being, but we can learn how to deal with behaviours. Alas, fear not as we are all in this together and we are all continuously learning each and every day about our surroundings. I do apologise for the gap in releasing the next issue of the series. I’ve got quite a bit on at the moment, which I will talk about another time! For now, let’s get stuck in…

Accepting that you cannot control everything

After a couple of months being social media free, I noticed a lot of benefits physically, mentally and spiritually. My mind was a lot freer and less intoxicated by the negativity of the world and my mood in general was better than ever. I had a lot more motivation in going to and enjoying the gym, I was a lot more productive in work, I had a bit more peace about praying and my anxieties had gone from every little thing being a trigger, to rarely feeling so much as a twinge in my chest! Let me just say that I am not entirely blaming social media for all my stresses, but it was and sometimes still can be the highest offender when it comes to setting off my triggers.

Having a mind that was more relaxed and at ease gave me the opportunity to reflect on life and recognise the areas on which I needed to improve. The mental fog cleared quicker than I had imagined, and things became much clearer as to why something would affect my mood. Not wasting time scrolling through people’s unnecessary updates about their life drama allowed me to see what was important and what wasn’t even worth a second thought. I could identify the things that triggered my anxieties and quickly learned how to remove them from the equation. I had time to think. I had time to see. I had time to live. The world became 3D around me, technicolour and first-hand experience instead of the flatscreen universe I had previously been consumed by.

Being in this mindset of real life and not the fictitious timelines of your everyday Kim Kardashian wannabe, allowed me the space I needed to accept and realise that I simply cannot control everything. Realising and accepting that we cannot control everything is one of the best revelations we can have in our lives. If someone is going to judge you, criticise you, speak badly of you that is their business and their issue to deal with. It is out of your control. If your boss decides to shut up shop and close the business down, change their minds numerous times until unfortunately there is no other option, that is their decision. Guess what? It’s out of your control. If a close family member gets sick and is taken into hospital, if the weather man gives the wrong information, if a Mean Girl shows up on Wednesday wearing yellow instead of pink, if an earthquake shakes your world, no matter what that earthquake might be, hear me when I say: IT IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL.

If you’re like me, the initial realisation of this can kind of mess with your brain and freak you completely out! But please, take a few minutes, deep breaths and think logically. Of course, not everything is in your control! You are one person, one human, one life in a sea of billions of possibilities. Instead of fearing these possibilities, take delight in them and know that there is one thing you can control, your reaction. How are you going to deal with your situation? How are you going to approach moving forward from an abusive relationship? How are you going to survive financially? Are you going to lie down and let the world go by, or are you going to stand up face yourself in the mirror and a bit like Barney Stinson; be awesome instead?! That choice, that potential outcome is your choice.

Accepting that you cannot control everything frees up so much more mind space and allows you to consider your options. It gives you a chance to listen and hear what is being said rather than trail off into pandemonium in your mind. Accepting that you cannot control everything is one of the most liberating revelations you will ever experience.

While I am far from a control freak, having anxieties I find is partly because things are out of our control naturally and we exasperate ourselves with the idea of unlikely things happening just because we know, there is nothing we can do about it should it occur. Having this realisation become clear to me also made my life a heck of a lot easier. Thankfully, I am still growing and continuing to learn about myself, dealing with my anxieties head-on,  and I find that Social Media detoxing is something I do a lot more regularly to keep things at a level ground. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. When I eventually came back to Social Media, I came back with a purpose that was not only something I wanted to do, but something I could do to give and support others. I came back to support and help my church grow their platforms. I also came back with something I am passionate about and want to pursue more and more in the coming years. I was encouraged to share my positive mindset with the world through my writing and that is how Illuminare came about.

My challenge for you all this week is to make a list of things that give you anxiety or you have worries about. Then, I want you to consider the options you have around them and come to a realisation that some of the outcomes are out of your control. For example, going for a job interview might give you a hint of anxiety, not knowing how it will go or if you will be liked enough to get the job. The options around that are to either allow your anxiety to completely overrule you OR… you can go into that interview and just be yourself. Act as though they need you rather than you need them. Once the interview is over, reflect on it, think about it, consider if you would even like to role yourself and then let it go… You cannot control what happens next, you cannot control the decisions made by the panel of interviewers, all you can do, is accept that it happened, appreciate the experience, and move on…

So with that in mind, consider your week ahead and make it your business to identify things that you cannot control and allow the peace and serenity of that feeling of release to soothe you through the motions! Let me know how you get on, I would love to hear from you guys.

Peace and all the love, Illuminare x

Social Media Detox Part I

Good day to all you lovely people out there and welcome to Illuminare. I hope you are managing this week to kick anxiety in the butt! Today I am continuing on from a series I introduced this Tuesday called ‘Social Media Detox’! If you missed my last blog, you can catch up by clicking this link or simply scroll to my previous post. Like all of my writing, I am brutally honest in this series so if my content stirs something up inside of you, maybe you need to look at yourself and ask why and what it is that makes you feel that way. I am not a perfect human or in fact a perfect example of Social Media Detoxing. However, I wanted to address the topic to not only help you guys, but also help myself! As I write, I learn and therefore I grow. I hope you all enjoy this series and take something away from it. I have learned a lot about myself and am very excited to see what it does in your lives too. So let’s get down to it…

Identify where your stress comes from

Identifying where our stress comes from can be tricky. It can take us some time to experience a revelation but trust me, if you can’t point it out, it will eventually point its ugly self out to you! One day I realised I was a lot crankier than usual. I was irritable and very easily set off by the littlest of things. While feeling like this, I didn’t see myself and it wasn’t until I started crying that I noticed there was simply too much going on and my head-space was very foggy.

That evening I opened Facebook, as you do these days to ‘wind down’, and I came across numerous content that just made me feel very unsettled. There were quotes about how we can’t trust each other, people cheating, friends back biting, and all other sorts of carrying on. Quotes of being independent and not needing other people. Photos of guys and girls completely altered by filters or posing with their designer gear acting as though life is peachy, while in the next breath or in this case, next post, they were body shaming celebrities! Photos of couples being on cloud 9 (which is wonderful) yet they pursue other love interests with their comments, tags, DM’s and simply by cheating with their eyes; ogling another’s photos. There were photos of animals that were abused horrifically by ‘humans’, stories of women and children (sometimes men too!) being abused in their homes and photos of their bruised and bloodied faces/bodies. What shook me the most was that this was just the mild stuff…

*SIGN OUT AND SWITCH OFF* – that was it I had had enough. Stress inducer identified!

The matter of the fact is, that all of these images whether we stop to look at them or continue scrolling past them, the mere glimpse we get creates a chemical reaction within our brains that we may not recognise straight away, but feel the effects of as time passes by. Our brain releases chemicals for both good and bad things, depending on your perception of what you are witnessing or experiencing. Using the example of social media content, the same chemical is released again and again when you see the image/video/status etc creating a grander reaction each time. Bigger chemical reaction equals deeper emotional affect!

While I am not a scientist nor a psychologist, learning about the brain, its reactions and chemicals it releases has become of great interest to me over the last six months. As humans we are likely to have some stress in our lives which is completely natural, however, becoming sensitised to it is something I want to reverse, avoid and eliminate!

Continuing from that faithful evening, I received a message a couple of weeks after signing out from a friend who was pretty peeved that I had not responded to a request they sent me on Facebook. Now besides the fact that you can see when the last time someone was online, I had informed close friends and family that I was taking a little break and was only contactable via WhatsApp or an actual phone call. After explaining the situation, apologising and still being treated how I was afterwards, this was the moment I realised that Social Media was affecting my mental health in a very detrimental way. It was then that I decided, you know what, not only am I signing out, I’m deleting it all. This crap just isn’t worth it.

I identified a chronic stress inducer and realised that the many natural stresses going on in the background were being piled onto a dormant volcano, and the stress from Social Media was the tipping point to make it all go KABOOM! I needed to make a change, I needed a break and so I deleted everything. Just like that. Gone. And in an instant, my mood had already begun to improve…

My challenge to you all today is to reduce your usage of social media over the next few days. Try to meet friends over the weekend in physical form instead of just catching up over messenger. Go for a walk by the beach, or take time to read instead of staring into the endless dramas of our generation. Have a wonderful weekend instead of just a usual one, do something different, do something out of your comfort zone, do something challenging and exciting!

Illuminare x

Social Media Detox – The Intro

Hello my lovely readers and welcome to anyone who’s new to Illuminare! This post starts the series about ‘Social Media Detoxing’ and as it turns out, I have quite a lot to say about it! So, to make things easier I am going to split it into a series of posts to reduce the amount of reading per post. I really hope that you enjoy, but also take something from this series and apply it to your life – and maybe do a cheeky dance like the gals starting their own detox in the GIF above! 😉

As many of you know, I took what I like to call a ‘Social Media Detox’ for the entire summer of 2019. From the beginning of June to the end of August, I had logged out from both Instagram and Facebook on my phone and refrained from using them whenever I was on a computer. Something I was very surprised and rather frustrated about, was that my phone would not allow me to uninstall the apps. (As a side note, re-investigating this, I realise that I was doing it incorrectly and you can in fact, uninstall the apps! Silly me!) My point is, what if I simply did not want to return to Social Media? Ignore the apps? But sure, that’s almost impossible in this day and age, I’ll definitely cave and login at some stage… or so I thought!

My reasons for doing the detox were personal and I firmly believe that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. A lot was going on in the background regarding my job, some family members’ health issues, growing up into adulthood and realising that not every friend we make is for life. To put it into simple terms, the world was changing around me in many aspects and the pressures of it all coming at once was just too much. I needed a break, I needed to go off the radar, and I needed an escape. (I would highly recommend everyone to at least try the detox and see what benefits you experience on your own journey).

My first thought was not to get rid of social media, no way! My first thought was to run and jump on a plane and get out of here! But fortunately, I had good people around me to be the voice of reason and a very supportive other half keeping me sane. So instead of some VACAY island off the Bahamas (which I know would have been marvellous), I started small. I looked at my life and decided on where the stress was coming from and how I could minimise it in order to deal with it. When I realised that Social Media was having a major impact on my stress levels and my mental health, I decided that I need to come off it for awhile and give my mind a bit of breathing space. Once I began the detox, I noticed that the other stresses in life were a lot easier to deal with and comprehend.

In this generation, we tend to live off likes, comments, shares and friend requests. We long for a new follow to only accept it and refuse to follow back because, well… ‘Why would we?’.  Social Media has given all of us a self-inflicted desire for self-gratification and self-entitlement. Whilst it can be a very useful tool for keeping in touch with distant friends/family, exploring new avenues for promoting small businesses and even for resourcing content for positive motivation and inspiration, Social Media has latched onto our humanity and ensnared us. We are so entangled with insecurities and social comparison which tend to casually lead us into our own self indulged bubble of loneliness, anxiety and depression… aka FOMO. For those of you like me, who had to google FOMO, it means ‘’Fear Of Missing Out’’ an anxiety that something exciting or an interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, most often aroused by posts seen on social media. We are so caught up with watching people’s stories instead of making our own – and I don’t mean posting to your story, I mean experiencing and writing your story!

FOMO, YOLO, JOMO – How did we even come up with this language?! It’s amazing, yet terrifying that our lives hang on these hashtags and acronyms that describe how we are feeling rather than living our lives out of fear and enjoying what’s happening before us instead of wondering what’s going on elsewhere!

*Sigh of exasperation*

Life is for living. If you’re going to a concert, go and enjoy it, take a couple of photos, but don’t let your experience be through your recording! Put the phone away and live in the moment. Sing to your hearts content, link arms with the other fans and raise your hands in the air – like you just don’t care!

If you’re going to a friend’s wedding, go to celebrate the lovely couple. Of course, we all love to take a few photos, but leave it at that and don’t video record you and your pals dancing to every single song the DJ plays! Make memories, don’t try and record them. The best memories are the ones you have imprinted on your mind, the ones you can’t stop laughing about yet don’t have videos of you staring into Instagram’s camera…

Enough of the negative! Enough of the criticism! Let’s get down to how we can turn these platforms into positive resources instead of negative vortexes.

Below are my three steps to minimising stress in your life which I will share in detail over the next few weeks. I’ve applied these steps for the sake of this series to Social Media, but they can be applied to any area of your life. As part of the detox, I have also come up with several things you can do instead of scrolling through news feeds. I’ll give you a heads up on what to screenshot, but I’ll also make sure its downloadable so that you don’t need to sign on to find out what’s next. 😉

All of my love and best wishes to everyone for 2020! I look forward to seeing what happens with Illuminare, but for now… let’s kick anxiety in the butt!

Illuminare x

My steps to minimising stress and living a freer life:

  1. Identify where your stress comes from
  2. Accept that you cannot control everything
  3. Eliminate and restructure

A Daughter’s Thank You to her Daddy…

Today is my wonderful Daddy’s birthday and I wanted to wish him the happiest of days and dedicate a short piece to him, so here it goes. In celebration of Noel Gerard Fagan, I Love You! ❤

Dad, thank you for being exactly that, My Dad! You have encouraged me to be unapologetically myself from the moment I came into this wonderful world. Being your daughter, I have always wanted to make you proud, to impress you with my achievements and to earn your approval in almost everything I do, yet never once have you made me feel like any of my efforts were not already Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Every drawing or crafted ‘thing’ I made, every dance I showcased in our sitting room, every song I sang from the top of my lungs with all I had inside of me, each and every jigsaw puzzle I completed; you were there by my side cheering me on and congratulating my every success. ‘Bualadh bos!,’ you would chant as you clapped your hands and smiled from ear to ear in delight!

Thank you for all of that. Thank you for always supporting me even when I felt I couldn’t do it. Thank you for making me laugh and for taking me out on Daddy Daughter Dates! Thank you for showing me what it is to be treated like a Lady and for showing me how to act like one too. Thank you for your strict curfews and the rules under your roof, we may have complained about them then, but looking back I see the benefit in our lives that they truly had! Thank you for showing me how to respect others without losing respect for myself. Thank you for encouraging me to chase after my dreams but to have a good solid job I can always fall back on. Thank you for being sensible yet supportive of my crazy imagination. Thank you for your prayers and for always having wide open arms for me to run into and get big bear hugs when I need them, you are so wonderful and I am so blessed to have a Father like you.

You used to be tall and slim with the darkest hair and a moustache, now; you’re still tall, a little less slim with slightly brighter hair and a beard… Appearances may change, personalities may change, circumstances and relationships may change, but you have always remained the man I look to as my Hero. Change is something you have helped me to accept, change is something you have helped me to grow through and change is something you have helped me to embrace. Although change is not always easy, it is another chapter in the book of our lives awaiting to be written, waiting for the mystery to be discovered. So, thank you for walking with me through many changes and holding my hand enduring and celebrating it all.

There will come a day when we embark on a different kind of walk, a walk we will only ever take together once in our lives, a walk in front of our friends and loved ones, a walk towards the beginning of a new chapter for all of us, a walk that only you have the honour of being by my side for, a walk down the aisle to meet with the next Hero in my life, a walk to give me away. While I wait in anticipation for that magical day, I can’t help but tear up with emotion thinking of our conversation as we support one another down the aisle. I can’t help but think forward to the dance we will share together to the song you said was ours. I can’t help but imagine how wonderful it will be and how your little girl will finally look like a real princess. But as you always say ‘You always look like a Princess in my eyes… .’

In your eyes, I hope and pray that I have made you proud because you Dad, have made me the proudest daughter in the world. I am so honoured to call you my Father. I am so blessed to have such an incredible man to look up to. I am so happy to be home! You make the world a little less scary and a lot more fun to be in, thank you for being your true self! Thank you for being my Daddy!

Happy Birthday, with all my love on your day, Keka-Weeze x

You Are Possible…

Do you ever just sit back and think ‘Oh my goodness, I have come such a long way…’

We don’t give ourselves enough credit until we actually sit down and think about how much we have grown, how much we have lost along the way but how much we appreciate the release of that weight on our shoulders now that we are walking that little bit taller. We also don’t take enough time to think about what we have gained along the way; people, hobbies, opinions, jobs, etc. All of which can be healthy or unhealthy gain, and what we need to do is take a look at our inventory and see what it says about us. If it’s unhealthy get rid of it, if it’s healthy nurture it.

As today’s society has now labelled each day with a different hashtag, today is #TransformationTuesday, so instead of only looking at physical transformations let me encourage you to take a few moments today to think about your mental, emotional and spiritual transformations too! Think about where you are now, and where you once used to be. Think about the struggles you faced to get here and how you conquered each and every one. You may not have a dramatic story, and let me assure you:  that’s ok. Not everyone needs to have a long list of aches and pains to have a REAL story. Your story is exactly that and don’t let anyone tell you it’s insignificant just because theirs was a little bit tougher than yours. We are all facing our own mountains.

If you sit and wonder why you haven’t come as far as you would have liked to by now, take time to write a list of what you would like to achieve or change in the next few months and act on it. Don’t just do the exercise of writing the list, work it out! Move that body and challenge that mind to get to where you want to be. I have said it before and I will say it again, the only one stopping you from moving forward is yourself! Yes, people or situations may have an impact on you to keep you stuck in a certain place, but the power that you have given them was originally with you! So take it back, move forward and be confident in your choices. Wanting to live as a better you is achievable and right in the palm of your hands. All you have to do is grasp it!

No matter how small a distance you have come or how vast a dessert you have roamed, the fact of the matter is; you have grown! You have transformed. You were once a baby, then you were a child, a teenager and now a fully grown adult (most of you anyways lol!). Change is something we all experience and it is inevitable. So instead of doubting the change or discouraging people from making changes in their lives; embrace it. Encourage the best in every situation and circumstance to come forth. Now, with a perspective of change being good, look back at your life and appreciate the transformations that have taken place.

Think of the butterfly; it starts off as a caterpillar, then it changes into a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful winged fascinating creature! What stage are you at?! Are you cocooning to rebuild yourself, to reinvent yourself, to protect yourself? Are you waiting for your perfect moment to emerge as your new self? Or maybe you’re at a point where you feel you need to start all over again and go back to caterpillar phase after exasperating a life already as a butterfly?! Starting again can be a tough decision. It can also be a great decision depending on the why we want to and how we are going to do it. Sometimes it might even seem like we couldn’t possibly do it. Maybe we feel too old, too young, too settled, too unsettled – or maybe we just don’t know if it will work out or not. It can be scary starting again, but fear holds us back from our greatest accomplishments. Fear can sometimes be a healthy catalyst for us to push forward and reach our goals. Think of it this way; if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to gain. It can also be a paralyser so be mindful when identifying your fear. Is it healthy or unhealthy fear? Identify it and deal with it!

Let me finish by saying this, it’s not impossible, in fact there is very little in this world that is impossible. As Audrey Hepburn once said ‘The word itself says I’m Possible!’

So remember this dear, you and your goals ∙ dreams ∙ life changes, ARE POSSIBLE!

Illuminare x

Here’s to you, Mam…

My Mam is a wonderful woman and she has always loved and encouraged my writing, creativity and whatever else I have put my mind to throughout the years. There is so much about her that is so incredibly breath-taking that it’s hard to get it all down on paper, but because of who she is, I’m definitely going to give it a try! Have you seen my Mam? She’s gorgeous! Have you witnessed how amazing and wonderful she is? She would have you laughing and crying all at once with just a few simple words. Have you ever met my Mam? If not, let me introduce you…

My Mam brings colour and light into dark places, when she walks into a room the atmosphere gets brighter. My Mam is that one person in the middle of a crowded room that laughs out loud when everyone else is silent. My Mam is that person who talks for hours in the middle of a super market to someone she doesn’t even know! If you’ve ever talked to My Mam, you know that you’re going to come away with some good advice or simply just experience a good oul giggle! My Mam is a truth speaker – sometimes it’s hard to take, but she always knows how to help.  

My Mam shows love and care to everyone she meets, even the birds in the trees! She’s a modern day Snow White! My Mam loves her garden, the flowers and the aroma of the herbs she plants. My Mam does her best to include everyone in experiencing the best of the best. My Mam helped 25 year old me paint my footprints on her back garden wall! My Mam has a heart of pure love and she shares it with the world. My Mam is that one person I know I can turn to and pour my heart out and trust that she will be there, not to judge me, but to comfort me.

My Mam is so encouraging of all of her children, she pushes us past our negative times and encourages our positivity to grow and flourish. My Mam is that one person in the family that will irritate everyone with how right she is about something, but she is also that one person that everyone turns to for love and support when they realise they are in the wrong. My Mam is the glue to my family. My Mam is a warrior! I would say Princess, but My Mam is a Queen! She deserves a crown made from the richest of jewels – and My Dad would give it to her if He could.

My Mam fought many battles to fend for her family, like a Mother wolf protecting her den, there was nothing that could face her when it came to looking after us. Still to this day My Mam is there to back us up, she always supports us through tough times but is honest enough to tell us when we are wrong. My Mam has always been a mother, but she is so much more than that. She is creative and artsy. She is beautiful beyond description. My Mam is a painter, a writer, a joker, an absolute messer, a lover, a gardener, a prayer, a worshipper, a warrior, a reader, a hugger, a Christmas enthusiast and an absolute Wonder! My Mam even knows how to do the famous blogger pose and her selfies are always taken from an awkward height!

My Mam walked me to school every day. My Mam brought out the best in me, she sprinkled ‘Holy Spirit’ dust on my head when I’d be a grumpy little torment, and in an instant we would burst out in laughter together. My Mam made the best peanut butter sandwiches with a little note of encouragement to help me get through the bullying in school. My Mam made me feel like I was worth every moment I stormed up the stairs, every moment I would come to her with a scratched knee, every moment I would come to her to simply ask for a hug while she was busy cleaning or cooking. I sometimes even disturbed her while she was reading – and then she would read to me.

My Mam is so special to me that a poem, a song, a card or a present simply wouldn’t cover how much she means to me.  My Mam is beautiful. Her eyes sparkle the prettiest colour of blue, her smile is the most welcoming one I know, her hair flows golden from her head like a beautiful wave of sunshine. My Mam gives the best hugs! My Mam showed me what it’s like to be excited for life, to live a life that means something and not just exist. My Mam showed me how to love others but she also showed me how to love myself. My Mam took the best care of me growing up and even to this day she still looks out for me. My Mam is actually amazing and while I consider myself lucky to have her in my life, I know that I am blessed tremendously to be a part of Her life and to have become the woman she raised me to be!

So here’s to My Mam, Sandra, thank you for being who you are and for sharing your love and encouragement throughout my life. Have the most wonderful day knowing that you are loved beyond your wildest imaginations and even more than my words can begin to describe.

You are worth celebrating – Happy Birthday Mam!

Flip the Switch!

I don’t know about you lot, but when I look at this picture (see Instagram post), I see the real me; the vibrant, fun loving, happy girl that loves a good laugh. Some days I need a reminder of who this girl is (more than I’d even like to admit at times!) but I’m okay with that. Why? Because we need to be able to remind ourselves of whom we are! We need to recognise that we are spectacular and that we have so much positivity and creativity inside of us just dying to burst out! All we need to do is flip the switch!

What’s the switch all about Jessica?! Well I knew you’d ask. The switch is what happens to us when we get bogged down, for want of a better phrase. For some of us it can be the uncertainty of how a situation will play out, or maybe people using and abusing the foundations of relationships. It can even be the insecurities from our past creeping up to bite us right in the ass at a moment when we thought we were as confident as Tyra Banks on the catwalk. Then all of a sudden, our shoes go from underneath us and we’re struggling to hold our balance looking like a very distressed Bambi on ice! (Sorry for the girly analogy lads!)

The switch is when something happens out of our control or someone says something that’s damaging or simply disappointing. Sometimes the effect of the switch can be as flippant as on and off, or sometimes it can take a little longer for us to even realise that the switch was tempered with in the first place. For some of us, especially the people pleasers (I see you and I feel your pain!), our switches can be tempered with regularly and we can feel the effect of this for long periods of time at any one time.

People are exactly that, people. They are going to let us down, disappoint us, say things that are hurtful and even do things that are just not right. But there are also people who are going to build us up, encourage us, want to spend time with us and bring out the best in us. What I’m trying to get at is, surround yourself with the good people but be mindful that you will still have people in your life that will bring negativity your way. These people may not even realise the effect they have on us, but it is up to us to take control of how our switch operates.

The negativity is what flips the switch! So be mindful of it.

Dealing with negativity is something that I am still learning to do on a daily basis. Sometimes it gets to a point of having to cut the chord with certain people, situations and even job roles and that’s hurtful for both the person on the receiving end and the person doing the chopping, probably more so for the chopper if I’m fair.

Our minds are delicate places and the more we tend to them and take our thoughts under control, the more our minds flourish and grow. It is a hard one to do, but once we get into the swing of things it becomes second nature. My challenge to you and to myself is to take account of the negativity that surrounds us and deal with it, upfront. Instead of allowing it to flip our switches off, let’s face it head on, feel the emotions surrounding it and turn it around just as quick in order to keep that illuminating switch on! It’s not all sunshine and rainbows every day, trust me I know, but why should we accept negativity as a welcome companion when all it does is drag us down? 

Now I’m about to get real here with more sassy and no Nancy’ing around it, so I hope you’re ready!

Pick yourself up out of the slump you’re in, cop on to what truth is and stop allowing lies to infiltrate your mind, drag yourself out of that desperate state and tear off the suffocating labels that have clung to you like a bad case of the chickenpox. It’s time to move on and move up, it’s time to shake off the dust and let it dissolve into thin air, it’s time to cut off the blood sucking leeches and let them shrivel up in their own demise because you are worth more than a repeated cancelled coffee.

Illuminare x

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