26 reasons to get a National Trust membership before you turn 26.

Ok I am going to take a small break from my seven habits series to let you know about something I have come to love and respect over the last two years. My National Trust membership. You may think that these are just for the retired or for family holiday activities but as a young adult I think they are seriously underrated and heres why:

1. It’s cheap

At the time of writing this post its £32.40 a year for a National Trust membership if you are under 26. Thats roughly the same price as a decent pair of jeans. If you can afford to go to the cinema and go clubing more than twice a year – you can more that afford a NT membership.

2. It’s good for your physical health

I have walked, sailed, ran, cycled all using my national trust membership. From walking from one site to another, to doing mapped out walks, attending sailing classes, or taking part in organised runs around beautiful sites and landmarks there is some form of excercise for everyone.

3.  It’s wayyyy cheaper than a gym membership.

Combining points 1+2=3.
And if you use it fully you can get the same health benefits and so much more.

4. It’s a charity

Its never too early to start giving to charity. Whever your 18 or 98 it’s always a good idea to set something aside for a charity. Giving is a good habit to get into. And lets face it there are not many chairties that give you 25 other reasons to give!

5. It makes you explore places you’d never think too

If you look on the map there are over 500 places in the UK to visit. Whether its in your local area or somewhere on you are visiting on holiday, there will be some place hidden and enchanting waiting for you to discover.

6. You learn a lot about history

Learning about where we have come from is the best (and in some opinions the only) way to know where we are going. When you look at the past you can see; the mistakes, the victories, the harships people have had to overcome. There are place cards dotted around in most of the NT places and/or volenteers eager to chat to you and fill in the blanks.

7. It’s a good place for first dates/any dates

In a time where cinema and food makes up most of couples date nights, why not shake things up a bit? Get some culture and some peace and quiet to get to know your date/other half, you can even take your own picnic if you are feeling particularly romantic.

8. It’s encourages you to get outdoors

Two words – Viatmin D.

9. You appreciate your luxuries a lot more

Stepping back into the past realising that 500 years ago people only had books and instuments (if they were rich enough) to entertain themselves makes me feel much more apriciative of my laptop and TV when I get back home.

10. It’s good for your mental health

Going out on the weekends or evenings rather than sitting in front of the telly has been really good for my mental health. Seeing beautiful places, being outside, its a no brainer really.

11. Excercise for your imagination

If you are a Jane Austin fan or have read any book set in Old England, then you can imagine what it would be like to live in their shoes. I like to imagine myself as Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice “taking a turn” around the rooms. Dig deep and find your inner child, you will have so much more fun I promise.

12.  There’s something for everyone

Whether it’s a treasure hunt for your nephews and nieces, a romantic picnic, a solo stroll, or tea shop for your nan there truely is something for everyone of every age range.

13. It’s inspirational

Even if you know nothing about gardening, seeing all the beautiful flowers and home grown vegetables never fails to inspire me growing my own one day.

14. You become apart of history

The money from your membership goes straight into the maintanaice of history. You are making sure that these places will still be around in hundereds of years so that your great grandchildren can visit the same places you have.

15. You meet extraordinary people

Like most volunteers, NT volunteers are incredible people. They all have a story to tell and love sharing their infinate knowledge of their special places with you.

16.  You can get lost in the history and get a feel for what it was like back in the day

Its a nice way to forget all the worries and stresses of the day/week and just emerse yourself in the history and culture these special places provide.

17. Food, heart warming comfort good prepared freshly on the day

As a foodie, this was the icing on the cake for me. Literally. I have throughly enjoyed every meal/indulgence I have had at every National Trust place. You need to get there early to get the best pick of sandwhiches though!

18. You always feel welcome

Whether you are on your own, or with a large group. There is always a happy volenteer (or two) to welcome you and make you feel at home.

19. Even if you go to the same place twice there’s always something new to learn

They are always adding new exhibitions or renivating new sections of the houses/parks so that you can keep visiting the same place and never get bored!

20. New experiences.

Fancy a go at Sailing, bowl making or rock climbing? There are so many new things to try. Just keep an eye on the website and book!

21. Most places are open all year round

Even if you have no spare time in the day, they do evening outdoor films during summer

22. You become apart of a community

23. Shopping

NT gift shops offers everything from NT monopoly (yes I have it…) to hand made goods. Grab a gift for a friend or yourself on your way out or just browse through the beautifully selected NT merchendise.

24. Free parking

This is especially useful when you are visiting areas like Devon/Cornwall or the Lake district where parking can cost up to £10 a day, you can have the freedom and luxery of being able to come and go as you please not having to worry about making it back in time to avoid a pesky fine.

25. The App

Although they are in the business of protecting hisotrical places, it doesn’t mean they are a business of the past. The app enables you to locate nearby places using GPS, so even if you don’t have a signal you can still find somwhere to go.

26. Take time to invest in youself

I like to have my “me” time, NT style. The amazing places never fail to inspire a blog post, a new photograph, a poem or a reflection on my current situation. If you are a creative of any kind, or want to develop your creativity there’s really no excuse not too get this membership. You need look no further for your muse.

Do you have a NT membership? Whats your favourite benefit? Let me know in the comments below!

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7 Habits (Part 2 continued)

In my last post, I set some serious goals for myself. That’s well and good but I know that if I don’t have a plan to reach these goals they will never become a reality. A goal without a plan is like a recipe without the ingredients, you can read and re-read that recipe but until you go out and get what you need, you are never going to be able to enjoy your meal. So here are my ingredients:

  • To be fluent in Spanish, having spent a year living in a Spanish speaking country

Ok, so the first step is to learn Spanish, having watched a few TED talks I gather you can learn any language within 6 months. I am going to be realistic and say that I am going to be learning a lot over the next three years, so I am going to give myself a five-year deadline to be fluent in Spanish.

To do this I am going to use an app called Duo Lingo (if you are learning a language and don’t use this I seriously suggest you download it now) on a daily basis. This takes 5 minutes, but will help me pick up on vocab.

I will also take a Spanish Class at university. This will help with my grammar.

In my third year, I have the option to study/work abroad – I will choose to do this either in Spain or Latin America. I realise that going to a country for a year doesn’t guarantee that I will learn the language. Just like throwing someone in a pool who can’t swim, will most likely drown. Before I go I will need basic-intermediate level of Spanish to be able to survive. Whilst I am there I will make as many friends as I can by becoming apart of the local church community. This should help with my pronunciation and listening skills.

Once I have graduated I plan to go back to a Spanish speaking country to do a year or two Teaching English as a foreign language. This way, I will build my confidence by living independently in a Spanish speaking country.

  • To be grade 6 piano

I got my grade 5 piano 8 years ago. It feels like forever ago but it is s a skill I don’t want to forget it completely.

This will involve paying for lessons initially. So I will need to build up a stable steady income in order for me to pay for these.

To start with I will continue to practice what I know, purchase some grade books and re-teach myself how to read music.

I am also going to join a musical society at university where I can practice and have fun at the same time.

  • To have made new friends

Having friends isn’t something I have control over. However, to have more potential friends I can be more friendly/sociable.

As I am starting university in exactly a months time (at the time of writing this) I intend to join as many societies as possible.

I am also planning to spend my weekends doing sociable things such as doing Park run on a Saturday morning with friends and going to church on Sundays.

I will go out for the occasional drink with class mates, but 9/10 I will get the last train home (11:30 pm) meaning that I can’t spend too much money on alcohol.

  • To be more confident

I guess that this is a fake it till you make it kinda thing!

  • To know myself and be proactive in my approach to life

My blog will be a big part of this. The more efficient I am at processing my thoughts and feelings, the quicker I will get to know myself.

  • To be able to control my own happiness

This will mean not letting my emotions rule my actions. Doing healthy things when I don’t feel like it and not doing destructive things when I feel like it. This will be a difficult road but one that I need to go down if I want to control my own happiness. I want to be able to wake up every morning and decide that it’s going to be a good day no matter what happens.

  • To have backpacked around parts of Europe

This is one of my desires involving travel. It will take money and planning, something that I will dedicate time to either during my summer holidays or once I’ve graduated.

  • To have spent a year volunteering abroad

Again a desire that involves travelling but also a desire to live selflessly for at least a year. I will apply for a place either during my summer breaks or once I’ve graduated. My aim is to give myself an attitude of gratitude. Having climbed the cooperate ladder for the last three years I understand how easy it is to get lost in wanting the next best thing. I have also learnt that having the latest iPhone or a 5* holiday doesn’t bring you happiness. In the long term, it has made me greedy and selfish. Sure I must deserve to treat myself, I’ve earnt it working those long hours, right? Wrong. Self-love should be unconditional, and you shouldn’t need to splash your cash to show that you love yourself or that you are worth something.

I am going to give a year of my life to help those in need to help embed in my brain that I have it so good here. Also that no matter where I am on the corporate ladder, or what my bank says, I do not need those things to bring me joy.

  • To earn a passive income

I touched briefly on why I want to earn a passive income in my last post. How I am going to do this, will be an entirely new blog post.

  • To run a marathon in under 8 hours

Another one for a seperate blog post! But here on some thoughts on why I need to achieve this.

There are two reasons for this goal. The first is obvious, to get fit. I am carrying about 2 extra stone of weight that I don’t need and it doesn’t bring me joy. It needs to go and go for good. Running is something I have enjoyed in the past, and although I am not the quickest, its something that I can push myself to do. It’s also the cheapest way to get fit. Rather than spending money on sports equipment, or fitness classes all I need is a pair of trainers and off I go.

The second reason is to teach myself grit. To help learn some of the lessons I know I need to teach myself. How to get out of bed when I am physically and emotionally drained, how to keep pushing myself, how to set a plan and stick to it rain or shine. If I can run a marathon, me the girl who is sick, me the girl who is physically weak, me the girl who is mentally weak, maybe just maybe I don’t have to be that girl anymore.

 

7 Habits (Part 2)

Habit no.2 challenges us to “Start with the end in mind”. Through this section Covey asks the reader to picture themselves at their own funeral and asks what the speakers would say about your character. He also asks what you would want them to say.

He makes a great point that you can work really hard climbing up the ladder, to realise at the end its leant up against the wrong house.

Personally, I would want people to say that I was fun, creative, ambitious but down to earth. I then questioned if I can be all of those things? I have a long road ahead of me to become the person I want to be but if I don’t start now I’m only going to end up further and further away from my end goal. It’s about making small but consistant steps towards your goal. This first step is so important because untill you’ve set down on paper where you want to be, you can’t begin to start on your target.

In 10 years time i’ll be 32. By that time I’d like to be in a serious relationship and starting to “settle down” and to have kids. I’d like to be earning a passive income so that I have time flexibility and freedom. I would like to be fit and healthy with a stable diet and enough body strength to be able to do a pull-up (this might not seem like a massive target, but for someone who never even managed the monkey bars as a kid, this would be a massive achievement for me).

In 5 years time I’ll be 27, by this time I would have graduated and would be working towards having a passive income.

I’d also like…

  • To be fluent in Spanish, having spent a year living in a Spanish speaking country
  • To be grade 6 piano
  • To have made new friends that I can count on and love
  • To be more confident
  • To know myself and be proactive in my aproach to life
  • To be able to control my own happiness
  • To have backpacked around parts of Europe
  • To have spent a year volenteering abroad
  • To run a marathon in under 8 hours

Given my current physical and mental state, these are all pretty big goals. If I don’t meet them all then so be it, but I’m going to work on each and everyone as if I will.

Do you set yourself 5/10 year plans? What would you like people to say about you at your funeral? Are you already living out your plan? Let me know below!

7 Habits of Highly Effective People p1

As I have been unable to work during the last six months, I have had a lot of reading time. One of the more recent books i’ve indluged in is “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. If you havn’t read this book, stop reading this post right now and order it on amazon or wherever you get your books from, I promise it will change your world. I’m only 100pg in and it has already blown my mind.

The first “habit” is proactiveness. Taking responseabilty over our problems. Instead of blaming circumstances, other people or bad luck if we take ownership over our issues we have the power to see the obstacle in our way and still choose to be happy and live a fulfilled life. Who’da thought it!? My obstacle has been my illness. So the first step I need to do is acknowledge that it is out of my control, but then focus my energy on something that I can control. The new focus I have chosen will be my diet/lifestyle choices. This way I hope to influence my health in a positive way and instead of wasting energy on something I can’t change switch it to this that I can change.

Do you have an obstacle that impacts your happiness? What could you do to react/respond differently to your obstacle? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

From the start

I told you from the start I was broken
I warned you of my state
I told you I wasn’t worth your time
Before we went on our first date

I told you that I would mess this up
That I would throw it all away
So that’s why I was so surprised
When you decided you wanted to stay

I let you love me back to life
Whilst I put my broken pieces together
And even though I didn’t understand why
I  knew you would love me forever

And then my life turned upside down
Leaving nothing left, but you
My health, my family and home had gone
But you remained my glue

So when you asked me if I agreed
If I also thought we should part
My answer was yes, I’m not good enough for you
And I’ve known it from the start

No longer here

Mirror mirror on the wall
Where has that girl gone?
The kind, healthy and beautiful girl
The brave, strong, powerful one

I used to see her looking back
Telling me that there’s nothing to fear
But these days all I see is black
And I know that girl is no longer here

Worth.

You think you can measure my worth,
By the number you see on the scale
You think you can measure my worth,
By the number that says “pass” or “fail”
You think you can measure my worth,
By a number of swipes left or swipes right
You think you can measure my worth,
By the number of guys that tell you I’m tight
You think you can measure my worth,
Well you should really think again
But if you really need to measure my worth,
Then you should try to measure my pain

You should measure the number of tears that fall,
Then add the heartbreak, illness and everything inbetween
And then multiply by the days I get up, despite it all,
Maybe then you’ll see, i’m the most worthy girl you’ve ever seen.

Processing a broken heart.

So many questions I want to ask.
Was it me?
Was it that argument we had?
Why did you give up so easily?
Why did I give up so easily?
When did it go so wrong?
Will we be friends in 20 years time?

I hope so.

You saved me from myself. You taught me that I was worth more than I believed when you met me. You healed me. With every kindness, with every kiss, I became the best version of myself. You were the catalyst to my recovery. And even though you’re no longer mine, I can honestly say you have left me in a much better shape than my last relationship. You have left me in a shape that now believes in true love, and self worth. A shape with only a tiny little hole to remind me of all you did for me.

Whatever you are doing in 20 years time, I hope that there is still a little bit of me with you, reminding you that even when it feels like the end, it’s only really the beginning.

Dear Heart,

Dear Heart,

It’s ok to feel adventurous, bold and strong.
It’s also ok to feel a little scared.

For it wouldn’t be an adventure if you were doing something safe, something familiar. Adventurers still feel fear, but they go anyway. For they fear the regret of not going will be greater than anything you may cross on your path.

Adventurers still fear death but the fear that haunts them the most is being dead before their pulse has stopped. Living pay day to pay day or weekend to weekend, simply surviving the days in between. That is the thought that terrifies them the most.

I know you are going to feel this pain that you carry wherever you are. Whether we’re sitting on my sofa at home together or whether we are exploring a new city or lake. The difference is that you are much more likely to heal when you are exposed to beautiful new places, than you will be staring at that phone waiting for a text that we both know isn’t coming.

I know you are broken and I am sorry I let this happen. I promise that one day you’ll look back at this time and realise it made you smarter, stronger and even more determined. You’ll look back at this with happiness for it is no ones fault, as much as you try to blame yourself. You both loved each other with all you had, and you grew and grew and grew together but at the end of the day it’s not just your decision. It’s mine too. As much as you’ve tried to ignore me,  you can’t make it work by yourself. You need me to see the things you are blind to.

You are a bird. One day you came across a tree, from your perspective the tree seems perfect so you built your nest their. Over the months, the tree has provided you with warmth, shelter, food and safety. You love this tree, and your nest you have built there but at the end of the day you are not a tree you are a bird and you need to go explore. For what is the point of being a bird if you do not use your wings to fly? Yes you may miss the warmth and all the comforts the tree bought you, but once you have the seen the wonders of this world you will be so happy of the sacrifice you made. And once you’ve been around the world and seen all you long to see, you will find another tree to build a new nest in or if you are lucky you will find your way back to your first tree. Because that’s the difference between birds and trees, you will always find your tree right where you left it.

Its time to fly the nest, go on your adventure, feel the fear and do it anyway. Then one day you will return home where you can rebuild your nest and provide yourself with everything you’ve ever needed. This isn the end of your story, its only just the start.

We’re going to get through this together.

Yours sincerely
Brain

Go.

Go to the lakes, let them cleanse your wounds.
Go in the rain, let it wash away your sorrow.
Go to the mountains, let them gift you with perspective.
Go in the sun, let it give you a smile to borrow.
Go any where and everywhere.
Go, remind yourself, despite your pain it will all still be here tomorrow.