Relocation for Wellness

 They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. I have moved A LOT, apartments, cities, countries. Shedding belongings, saying goodbye, starting over again in a new place has become part of the fabric of my life. I'm used to it, relocating is a low almost inaudible hum in the background of my existence. Like everything, there are positives and negatives to moving frequently.  An opportunity - a chance to build a life from nothing is a blank slate almost addictive in it's potential, a new place doesn't lament that you've changed instead you can be anyone you want. I also find shedding possessions very therapeutic, the first time I moved country alone I lived with the limited contents of my backpack for several months, it was freeing, eye-opening and refreshing. Moving can be fun, glamorous, exciting - a store of stories to tell.  It can also be tiring and lonely. Building a new life is a wonderful opportunity but it also takes an incredible amount of energy. By the third time I moved country I was struggling to maintain multiple friendships across timezones, feeling guilty about not keeping up with everyone that I should. Also while it is exciting and fun, those things can be a tough trade to being just an hour from a childhood friend, missing out on thing important to them and things important to you because you cannot unfortunately do everything and as your life spreads thinner across the globe it strains at the edges.   It's good, it's bad, it is what it is. I've been incredibly lucky to have had so many experiences, moving first for adventure, twice for the bureaucracy of visa issues, then work opportunities. One thing I have realised, and that I tell others when they exclaim 'Oh, what an exciting place to live'  is that life is life. Commuting, working, eating lunch, buying food, making dinner, washing your socks... day-to-day life is close to the same, where ever you live. When you are in Tesco choosing yoghurt, you could be anywhere, doing exactly the same thing.   Yet here I am, or I should say here we are, moving yet again. This time from city to country. Leaving a life of five years in London city for the northern countryside. Beginning again, yet also a little tired of new starts. It was an idea which when my husband suggested to me I was so weary of relocating that it took me almost a year to warm to the idea. Did he not remember how hard it had been? last time? and the time before? and the time before that? I knew where everything was now, I had perfected my morning tube stare, I had routine, running routes. It was comfortable, safe. It was home. But we had changed, and the city didn't really fit us anymore. London is a wonderful place to live but as we tried to cram two fledgling businesses into a tiny apartment we tripped over possessions and quarrelled, anxious, busy and tired. We craved space and the countryside and a kitchen table that was more than a makeshift desk. I insisted that 'It wouldn't solve all our problems. Moving doesn't solve problems it just takes them to different places', 'it might help' he replied or 'make them worse I said.'  Almost six months on, here we are. Yes, it was hard and scary but we've done it. Living in the countryside, with plenty of desk space and walks, a commute of ten minutes and a kitchen table and a desk. Building a life again... And it is all the things that moving is, it is fun and exciting and refreshing, it's also exhausting and sometimes lonely - but not as much as I thought. The friendliness and the northern charm of everyone we've meet has been like a welcoming hug. It feels like a good fit and that has made it worth it.  Life is completely different now, Lazy weekend mornings in bed have being replaced with standing in a freezing field practicing recall with our puppy. Up to my knees in horse poop. Commuting, working, eating lunch, buying food, making dinner, washing your socks... day-to-day life is close to the same, where ever you live. But if you can make the day-to-day better for you, for what you need, that's relocation for wellness.      

They say moving is one of the most stressful things you can do. I have moved A LOT, apartments, cities, countries. Shedding belongings, saying goodbye, starting over again in a new place has become part of the fabric of my life. I'm used to it, relocating is a low almost inaudible hum in the background of my existence. Like everything, there are positives and negatives to moving frequently.  An opportunity - a chance to build a life from nothing is a blank slate almost addictive in it's potential, a new place doesn't lament that you've changed instead you can be anyone you want. I also find shedding possessions very therapeutic, the first time I moved country alone I lived with the limited contents of my backpack for several months, it was freeing, eye-opening and refreshing. Moving can be fun, glamorous, exciting - a store of stories to tell.

It can also be tiring and lonely. Building a new life is a wonderful opportunity but it also takes an incredible amount of energy. By the third time I moved country I was struggling to maintain multiple friendships across timezones, feeling guilty about not keeping up with everyone that I should. Also while it is exciting and fun, those things can be a tough trade to being just an hour from a childhood friend, missing out on thing important to them and things important to you because you cannot unfortunately do everything and as your life spreads thinner across the globe it strains at the edges. 

It's good, it's bad, it is what it is. I've been incredibly lucky to have had so many experiences, moving first for adventure, twice for the bureaucracy of visa issues, then work opportunities. One thing I have realised, and that I tell others when they exclaim 'Oh, what an exciting place to live'  is that life is life. Commuting, working, eating lunch, buying food, making dinner, washing your socks... day-to-day life is close to the same, where ever you live. When you are in Tesco choosing yoghurt, you could be anywhere, doing exactly the same thing. 

Yet here I am, or I should say here we are, moving yet again. This time from city to country. Leaving a life of five years in London city for the northern countryside. Beginning again, yet also a little tired of new starts. It was an idea which when my husband suggested to me I was so weary of relocating that it took me almost a year to warm to the idea. Did he not remember how hard it had been? last time? and the time before? and the time before that? I knew where everything was now, I had perfected my morning tube stare, I had routine, running routes. It was comfortable, safe. It was home. But we had changed, and the city didn't really fit us anymore. London is a wonderful place to live but as we tried to cram two fledgling businesses into a tiny apartment we tripped over possessions and quarrelled, anxious, busy and tired. We craved space and the countryside and a kitchen table that was more than a makeshift desk. I insisted that 'It wouldn't solve all our problems. Moving doesn't solve problems it just takes them to different places', 'it might help' he replied or 'make them worse I said.'

Almost six months on, here we are. Yes, it was hard and scary but we've done it. Living in the countryside, with plenty of desk space and walks, a commute of ten minutes and a kitchen table and a desk. Building a life again... And it is all the things that moving is, it is fun and exciting and refreshing, it's also exhausting and sometimes lonely - but not as much as I thought. The friendliness and the northern charm of everyone we've meet has been like a welcoming hug. It feels like a good fit and that has made it worth it.

Life is completely different now, Lazy weekend mornings in bed have being replaced with standing in a freezing field practicing recall with our puppy. Up to my knees in horse poop. Commuting, working, eating lunch, buying food, making dinner, washing your socks... day-to-day life is close to the same, where ever you live. But if you can make the day-to-day better for you, for what you need, that's relocation for wellness.

 

 

Conversations on Mental Health

 I'm really happy that in recent times the conversation on mental health has opened-up in the media. I think as a society we still have a long way to go, but thankfully things are altering in a positive direction. More people are now willing to engage in these conversations instead of running away from them or uncomfortably clearing their throats and changing the subject (myself included).   I live (and have lived for a long time) with high-functioning generalised anxiety disorder.  That's alot of words that sound kind of serious and scary but it's really just a label for how my brain works. The more I understand about how my mind functions and how to manage it, the better I can live with my high-functioning GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). So in a way, while having a label sounds scary, it also helps me be more healthy than I ever was before I understood what was going on. You can learn more about GAD  here .   I manage my GAD with a combination of exercise, yoga, meditation, therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) exercises. It's not always fun, because living with an occasional sense of overwhelming fear and existential dread isn't fun, but mostly I channel it productively. I'm happy to talk about it openly, and I feel I have a responsibility to do so to end the sigma of mental illness. I live a full and productive life and I'm lucky that my GAD has never led to me missing work or important events. What it does mean is that I have a greater responsibility to manage my stress well for my own sake and the sake of those around me. The greatest weapon I have found to tackle my anxiety is to be kind, and not judge myself and to extend this to others. So go be kind ... and get therapy when you need it.    

I'm really happy that in recent times the conversation on mental health has opened-up in the media. I think as a society we still have a long way to go, but thankfully things are altering in a positive direction. More people are now willing to engage in these conversations instead of running away from them or uncomfortably clearing their throats and changing the subject (myself included). 

I live (and have lived for a long time) with high-functioning generalised anxiety disorder.  That's alot of words that sound kind of serious and scary but it's really just a label for how my brain works. The more I understand about how my mind functions and how to manage it, the better I can live with my high-functioning GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). So in a way, while having a label sounds scary, it also helps me be more healthy than I ever was before I understood what was going on. You can learn more about GAD here

I manage my GAD with a combination of exercise, yoga, meditation, therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) exercises. It's not always fun, because living with an occasional sense of overwhelming fear and existential dread isn't fun, but mostly I channel it productively. I'm happy to talk about it openly, and I feel I have a responsibility to do so to end the sigma of mental illness. I live a full and productive life and I'm lucky that my GAD has never led to me missing work or important events. What it does mean is that I have a greater responsibility to manage my stress well for my own sake and the sake of those around me. The greatest weapon I have found to tackle my anxiety is to be kind, and not judge myself and to extend this to others. So go be kind ... and get therapy when you need it. 

 

Winter is Here!

 Winter is here! Or rather winter is slowly limping out now, since it took me a while to put this post up after I drew this cartoon. I think it's pretty safe to say we're all feeling done with winter, it's cold, it's dark and neither of those things are super-fun in prolonged quantities.  It's funny, because when winter first arrives I think we're all a little glad. It's good to have an excuse to pull out the flannel PJs and snuggle up with a blanket and a box set. Then January comes, then February ... soon we've watched all our box sets, our PJs have lost their snuggliness (yes, that is a made-up word) we can't kick whatever cold or viral infection we've managed to pick up during the cold months and we're feeling totally fed up. Unfortunately we can't control the weather (unless you count the long term effects of global warming as our control of the weather) so we just have to PMA all over winter until it's finally spring. Yep that's right, pull out that positive attitude (cue eye-roll) and make the most of the lovely winter weather. It's time for new PJs, vitamins, more naps and as much puddle-jumping in the fresh air as you can.  My main tip for winter, take it easy! Of course you feel exhausted and rubbish, the animals are all sleeping because it's too icky to go outside but us humans are still getting up early and heading off to work because it has to be done. So be as kind to yourself as you can, be patient with yourself, give yourself a pass on doing ALL THE THINGS. Spring is coming and it'll soon be here! Before you know it, it'll be Autumn again (best season) and you'll say 'oooh, I'm quiet looking forward to wearing my woolly jumpers in a few weeks' and the whole cycle will begin again.

Winter is here! Or rather winter is slowly limping out now, since it took me a while to put this post up after I drew this cartoon. I think it's pretty safe to say we're all feeling done with winter, it's cold, it's dark and neither of those things are super-fun in prolonged quantities.

It's funny, because when winter first arrives I think we're all a little glad. It's good to have an excuse to pull out the flannel PJs and snuggle up with a blanket and a box set. Then January comes, then February ... soon we've watched all our box sets, our PJs have lost their snuggliness (yes, that is a made-up word) we can't kick whatever cold or viral infection we've managed to pick up during the cold months and we're feeling totally fed up. Unfortunately we can't control the weather (unless you count the long term effects of global warming as our control of the weather) so we just have to PMA all over winter until it's finally spring. Yep that's right, pull out that positive attitude (cue eye-roll) and make the most of the lovely winter weather. It's time for new PJs, vitamins, more naps and as much puddle-jumping in the fresh air as you can.

My main tip for winter, take it easy! Of course you feel exhausted and rubbish, the animals are all sleeping because it's too icky to go outside but us humans are still getting up early and heading off to work because it has to be done. So be as kind to yourself as you can, be patient with yourself, give yourself a pass on doing ALL THE THINGS. Spring is coming and it'll soon be here! Before you know it, it'll be Autumn again (best season) and you'll say 'oooh, I'm quiet looking forward to wearing my woolly jumpers in a few weeks' and the whole cycle will begin again.

Be More Dog

 Dogs are awesome, aren't they? Absolute total flooffy legends. Always happy, always enthusiastic, they sleep when they need to, very rarely moody, very rarely angry. Full of love and always happy to quietly chill-out with you (after a big long walk and some food of course.) Of course, this is mostly only true for dogs that have been raised with kindness and consistent training. While in comparison human lives are much more complicated, I still think we can all learn a lot from the forgiving loving nature of dogs.  I would love a dog, but unfortunately it's not the right time right now, small living space and little free time would definitely not make a good environment for a canine companion. So right now I satisfy myself with creepy levels of dog stalking. Is your dog hanging outside the supermarket? Well, he's getting lots of ear rubs and attention from me while you do your weekly shop. Is your dog sitting on your knee napping on your commute home from work? I'm pretending to read on my phone but really I'm taking a photo of your adorable fluffy friend to send to my husband. Are you sitting near me in a public place with your dog? Yes, yes I am staring at you, or rather I'm staring at your dog! Sorry if I'm making you uncomfortable, until I get my own and am distracted my own dogs poop retrieval needs I have high levels of dog creeping.   I also enjoy drawing dogs, it's a good excused to look at adorable dog pictures for hours. Lets all be more dog, take more walks, have more naps and greet all snacks with immense levels of enthusiasm, even when it's carrot sticks.

Dogs are awesome, aren't they? Absolute total flooffy legends. Always happy, always enthusiastic, they sleep when they need to, very rarely moody, very rarely angry. Full of love and always happy to quietly chill-out with you (after a big long walk and some food of course.) Of course, this is mostly only true for dogs that have been raised with kindness and consistent training. While in comparison human lives are much more complicated, I still think we can all learn a lot from the forgiving loving nature of dogs.

I would love a dog, but unfortunately it's not the right time right now, small living space and little free time would definitely not make a good environment for a canine companion. So right now I satisfy myself with creepy levels of dog stalking. Is your dog hanging outside the supermarket? Well, he's getting lots of ear rubs and attention from me while you do your weekly shop. Is your dog sitting on your knee napping on your commute home from work? I'm pretending to read on my phone but really I'm taking a photo of your adorable fluffy friend to send to my husband. Are you sitting near me in a public place with your dog? Yes, yes I am staring at you, or rather I'm staring at your dog! Sorry if I'm making you uncomfortable, until I get my own and am distracted my own dogs poop retrieval needs I have high levels of dog creeping. 

I also enjoy drawing dogs, it's a good excused to look at adorable dog pictures for hours. Lets all be more dog, take more walks, have more naps and greet all snacks with immense levels of enthusiasm, even when it's carrot sticks.

Making Time to be Creative

 I think making time to be creative is something most creatives struggle with. Or not just creatives but everyone ALL of the time, there's alot to do, we want to eat healthy, exercise, spend time with our family and friends, help humanity, maintain our lives with things like bill paying and laundry, have some fun... I could go on, and on, and on.   So if you have a side hustle that fills your heart with joy and gives your life meaning (which is how I feel about creating) it's something that takes alot of consideration and commitment trying to fit it in with everything else. It can be hard and tiring and sometimes there is more falling asleep than sketching drafts happening. I manage my illustration 'job' (side hustle small business) alongside my design job-job (reliable, regular, wage paying) I enjoy both but it's a balancing act between making self-directed work and making the work I need to for others.   It is interesting how my design and illustration work inform each other and how structure, inspiration and motivation bleed back and forth between them. I've found that the structure of working full-time can sometimes help me be more productive, having to fit things in and carve out time means I use the time I have well. An open day can mean more absentmindedly looking at my phone and scrolling through other illustrators work (which quite often leads to a creative confidence crisis.) Sometimes finishing a personal illustration project feels like more of a trudge than working on a new editorial design, the creative joy of one feeding fuel for the other.  Making time to be creative has also helped me draw boundaries, as someone who has struggled in the past with saying 'no' I have learnt I need to make time to create to be the best (and kindest) version of myself. I now will happily say, 'no, this is my creative hour', 'yes, it is important', 'no it's not a waste of time' and 'yes, it does matter'.  Ultimately making time to be creative is a priority for me, and though I don't always have the amount of time I want to do the things I want, who does? Having any time at your disposal to make things is a privilege, which I will remind myself of next time I throw a tantrum about not being able to stay up another 3 hours to finish drawing pictures of sausage dogs.            

I think making time to be creative is something most creatives struggle with. Or not just creatives but everyone ALL of the time, there's alot to do, we want to eat healthy, exercise, spend time with our family and friends, help humanity, maintain our lives with things like bill paying and laundry, have some fun... I could go on, and on, and on. 

So if you have a side hustle that fills your heart with joy and gives your life meaning (which is how I feel about creating) it's something that takes alot of consideration and commitment trying to fit it in with everything else. It can be hard and tiring and sometimes there is more falling asleep than sketching drafts happening. I manage my illustration 'job' (side hustle small business) alongside my design job-job (reliable, regular, wage paying) I enjoy both but it's a balancing act between making self-directed work and making the work I need to for others. 

It is interesting how my design and illustration work inform each other and how structure, inspiration and motivation bleed back and forth between them. I've found that the structure of working full-time can sometimes help me be more productive, having to fit things in and carve out time means I use the time I have well. An open day can mean more absentmindedly looking at my phone and scrolling through other illustrators work (which quite often leads to a creative confidence crisis.) Sometimes finishing a personal illustration project feels like more of a trudge than working on a new editorial design, the creative joy of one feeding fuel for the other.  Making time to be creative has also helped me draw boundaries, as someone who has struggled in the past with saying 'no' I have learnt I need to make time to create to be the best (and kindest) version of myself. I now will happily say, 'no, this is my creative hour', 'yes, it is important', 'no it's not a waste of time' and 'yes, it does matter'.

Ultimately making time to be creative is a priority for me, and though I don't always have the amount of time I want to do the things I want, who does? Having any time at your disposal to make things is a privilege, which I will remind myself of next time I throw a tantrum about not being able to stay up another 3 hours to finish drawing pictures of sausage dogs.