Meditation – It’s so hard, but I may have found the solution!

I’ve always thought of myself as being quite connected with the world, on some spiritual level, and I know to some of you that sounds silly, but I really do feel a sense that there is something out there, listening to my thoughts and dreams, who that is I don’t know…I often think that it my late father, or prior to him, my grandparents, but its nice to think these thoughts.Β I’m not at all religious, however I wouldn’t call myself an atheist, but more of an agnostic.

How can I be so naive to think that any belief of anyones is wrong, when I don’t have anything to prove it isnt? I’ve always felt like this, and at the end of the day whatever you believe in, as long as it makes you happy and gives you hope, then why should I doubt it?!

Anyway, I’ve gone off track a bit, but I suppose to some, spirituality, meditation and wellness in general, is put into this stereotypical religious, hippy people, and so the rest of us, can’t possibly want to incorporate that into our lives!

So I’m on my path to finding the best version of myself, and I have wanted to incorporate meditation into my life for quite some time now, and I have tried over the years, to sit in silence, clear my thoughts and whiten out my mind…but IT’S SO HARD!!

Have you ever tried to sit there are completely clear your mind, it’s just impossible! I’d have thoughts of food, what I’ve been doing that day, any stresses of work and then I find something in my head that I want to clear out, and then I can’t stop thinking about it…then the whole process of meditation seems to be more stressful than if I hadn’t tried meditating in the first place!

So this time around I thought I should do my research, speak to people through social media and find out more about what they do to meditate, and after following this amazing woman on Instagram called Hollie Azzopardi, I found the answer from her.

She’s an amazing health and wellness coach and is truly inspirational. She’s been on an incredible journey and has made her life into something that she loves, and earns a living from what she truly believes in…she’s amazing, and I want to be her!

She did a podcast interview this week and she talks about meditation a lot and how its become part of her day…I’ve been thinking for ages ‘How is she getting over the obstacles I’ve been facing?’ and then she said it….She uses an app called Insight Timer. It gives you thousands of free meditations, for every part of your day…This is pretty great, but the best part about this app, is that if you connect through Facebook, which I highly recommend, It shows you how many others are meditating with you at that exact moment. Also if there are any people close to you that are also meditating…YES! I no longer feel alone, and struggling to clear my head…In fact many of the meditations tell you that its absolutely normal, not to be able to clear your mind, and thats its fine to have these thoughts running through your brain whilst meditating! Hoorah!

Plus the great thing about the Insight Timer App, is that it gives you the opportunity to rate the mediations, and you can read what everyone else thought about them too, and they range from just a few minutes to half an hour, so you can always find a meditation to fit into your routine.

So, guided meditations are definitely the way forward, and I highly recommend this app, if like me, you want to build meditation into your daily routine.

Ashley x

The moment I realised my life is unbalanced

I’ve been on this journey of thought for a few weeks now, and I wanted to share with you one of the biggest turning points that made me realise just how un-balanced I am right now in my life.

It was a dear friend of mine that had the courage to reach out to me and tell me something that I really didn’t want to hear, but desperately needed to.

She sent me a long message, about how she had been reflecting on things and that it made her sad that we haven’t kept in touch as much as we used to. We always make the effort to see one another, and we always think of each other as being best friends, but lately out lives have drifted, and she doesn’t hear from me as much as some of our other friends and she wonders what has changed.

This hit my like a huge wave. Yes, of course I knew that we didn’t keep in touch as much as we once did, I had worked away for a long time, and she was also away living her life to the fullest, and of course I could feel how much I missed having her in my life, but I just thought that things are the way they are and they would go back to normal when we both have the time. It didn’t make me feel like she was any less of a friend to me, in fact, because we had both lived in other parts of the world, I thought that we were closer than anyone in our friendship group. However this was how my mind was imagining things were, and my reality was far from it.

This past year had changed dramatically for me, and my mind was in the middle of the ocean, with only myself to look after and think about…

That was what had changed.

I had left my life of 5 years working on cruise lines, to settle back down on land again. I had the most incredible time of my life, but as I got older I missed life on land so much. During my last contract I turned 30, and it really made me realise that I wanted to be back in the real world and get my life sorted.

It was such a huge jump for me. I was living what people would see as a life of luxury, travelling around the world, earning thousands of dollars a month, with no bills to pay, and a few months holiday a year, where I got to be a tourist and spend whatever I wanted, catch up with my friends and family, and immerse myself with them for a short period of time, before it was back to only thinking about myself for another 10 months.

As fun as it was …(and it really was!) it wasn’t reality…I was in a vacation bubble, where everyone on board was there for an experience. To see the world, to earn money and for the passengers, to rest, relax and enjoy. What an amazing world it would be if everyone was happy all the time, however this was not real life!

I needed to come home. I missed the free wifi, the latest music, cooking, and driving. So I came back, and relaxed in my own vacation bubble on land for a year.

During this time I was lucky enough to re-connect with an old friend from my job pre-cruise lines, and we got together. I moved in with him, about an hour and half south of where I’m from, and searched for a job. By that time my account was almost empty and I was desperate.

I took the first job I could, and absolutely hated it, luckily I was able to get another job, which I do enjoy and have been in for almost 5 months now.

What a big change in the space of what is now 18 months.

During this time, I was so focused on settling back into a normal life, and trying to find a place where I felt I belonged, that I lost what else is important in my life, and that is my friends and family.

My close friends have known me since I was a teenager, have been next to me through thick and thin, and have been the ones to drop everything for me when I was home from the ship, to spend that precious time together, and whilst I’ve been in my own little world, I’ve neglected those people who care so much about me.

It can’t have been easy for my friend to say those things, to give me that harsh reality of where my life really is…however I am forever grateful.

I didn’t realise just how un-balanced my life is, how I need these people in my life again, and how they help me become a more balanced and rounded person.

I’ll admit, this realisation has put me onto a bit of a rollercoaster. On the one hand I feel unbelievably grateful for all I have, and very lucky that a part of my life is settled and secure, but on the other hand, I feel so uncomfortable with the amount of time I have left in my working week to have for my own health and wellbeing, which my friends play a huge part in.

It’s been said that if you’re not happy with something, then change it, and whilst thats easier said than done, I’m putting steps in place, to make sure that one day…however far into the future that may be…that I get to live a balanced life the way that I want to, surrounded by the people I love, prioritising my health and wellbeing above all.

If anyone can relate to this, please get in touch, I’m always eager to here your journey, and share tips on finding your balance,

Thank you for reading,

Ashley x

Making time for myself

Lately I’ve been feeling like theres not enough hours in the day, and instead of taking responsibility for that, I’ve been blaming other commitments in my life.

I’ve come to realise that this is such a selfish way of looking at things…Of course I need to work for a living, of course I need to do a weekly shop, of course I need to sit down in front of the couch and catch up on Eastenders…I’ve come to realise that only some of this is true!

Yes, my job does take up most of my time in the week, but I enjoy it, and it earns my family and I a living. Do I wish I worked less? Yes of course, we’d all love to find that job where we can hang out all day, take leisurely walks, treat ourselves to coffee mornings and spa days (I still live in hope) but at the end of the day, I work hard and I live a good life.

The one thing I have learnt over the past few weeks is that I need to manage my free time more effectively, prioritise time for myself and my family, and plan what time I do have left to see my friends, clean the house, wander around town shopping for cute stuff, etc

So here’s my top tips to finding more time in your day for the more important things in life…

  • Give up that screen time. If you watch a lot of TV, make a strong decision and give up some of your programmes. Most programmes are at least 30 minutes long, over a week that’s already 2 and a half hours, just for one programme…if you work over 45 hours a week, thats some serious time for yourself.
  • Wake up an hour earlier (or more) each day . I know this may sound simple, and wouldn’t we all want an extra hour in bed?! But since I’ve started waking up almost 2 hours earlier each day, I’ve been able to take up some new hobbies and start the day right and un-rushed and centre myself ready to attack the day!
  • Shop Online.Β My fiance works nights, and so the only time we get to see each other is the weekend, and when I already have to work for part of the day on Saturday, I really hated the though of us having to spend our quality time at the supermarket! Most supermarkets offer a delivery service and some even let you use your points to spend on delivery, so it won’t cost you loads more, and will save you time and petrol money!
  • Plan, plan, plan.Β I’ve always loved stationary to organise with, however have never been great at using it! So theres now a His and Hers calendar on the back of the cereal cupboard door in the kitchen, so its the first thing I look at each day. I’ve written down as much as I can, including my working hours, our times when we’re each taking part in our hobbies, and also friends plans, so I can work my time to fit everything in.

I’m sure there are many more things that can help save you time, but these are a few things that I’ve done just in the past few weeks and I’m feeling better for it already!

Photo; By myself, a gorgeous diamond encrusted Piaget watch I came across at one of my favourite jewellery stores in Nassau, Bahamas…Only $90,000…bargain!Β