New Orleans

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After checking into our hostel, dumping our bags, making up our beds and taking a shower we headed out to Bourbon Street. Our hostel was conveniently close to a streetcar stop and it didn't take us long to get to the central area. 

Bourbon Street was exactly how I imagined New Orleans and I loved the fact that you could buy drinks and walk around the street with your drink in hand. My favourite was definitely the hand grenade which got me drunk pretty easily because it tasted so good. The atmosphere is amazing and we even made friends with some Australians and fellow Brits. It was certainly an eye-opening and fun experience, however jet lag was starting to take a toll on me so we decided to head back to our hostel.

Day two in NOLA  consisted of wandering down the French market in downtown New Orleans, listening to a traditional street music being performed in the French quarter, taking in the beautiful scenery of the Mississippi river and stuffing our faces with beignets from the famous Cafe Du Monde (which I'm actually craving now). I've wanted to try these ever since I watched my favourite Disney film, The Princess and The Frog and they certainly did not disappoint. Beignets are delicious doughnut-like treats covered in powdered/icing sugar, basically it's like eating a piece of heaven but be prepared with some water to drink as it can get sickly.

We ended the night dining in IHOP and the waitresses were going crazy over Megan's UP tattoo (Yep! We both love Disney). We spent our last night back in Bourbon Street but if you ever visit New Orleans and fancy a change of scenery go to Frenchmen Street which was recommended by some friends, apparently it's the place to be for live music and amazing nightlife, less touristy and more local.

The next day we we're both ready to move on from New Orleans and go onto our next destination LAS VEGAS!
We headed to the Greyhound Station and got totally lost on the way by heading in the wrong direction on the streetcar, luckily we had the best driver and she helped us get there.

I really enjoyed New Orleans but I think 3 days was just enough time to spend there. My only regrets were not visiting Frenchmen Street to have a more authentic night out and not trying out the Creole cuisine.

Look out for the next post where I tell you all about my adventures in Vegas!
x x x


I flew out to America alone

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I've taken a three month break from this blog without even realising it. Time has gone way too fast and life has just been non-stop.
In the past few months I took my second driving test...and failed! Spent a week in Ireland with my Mum, went to Matlock for the day with my Dad, dip-dyed my hair blue, celebrated my Mum's birthday, went interrailing through Berlin, Prague and Budapest and went to V festival.

I tried a lot of new things this year, but one thing I didn't think I'd ever manage was getting on a plane and flying out to America alone.
On the 25th August I flew out from Manchester airport towards New Orleans to be reunited with my best friend, Megan after 3 months of being apart. After having an emotional goodbye with my mum it was time to start my adventure. I don't know why, but the only part that majorly stresses me out in airports is going through security but everything went fine. 
After lots of phone calls and stressing out for about 2 hours I got on my plane towards my first destination Atlanta, where I had to make my connection.

My flight was great! I flew with Virgin Atlantic equipped with my travel pillow and there was no one in the seat next to me! I watched about 4 films, well I say watched more like fell asleep through all of them but that made the 9 hours go by so much quicker (must have been the wine I had).

When I got off to make my connection flight, I could just feel the anxiety returning again because I'd never made a connection before. Turns out I was only overreacting again and it was a really simple process of going through passport control, go through security again, reclaim your bag and give it to the person who puts it on another carousel to be transferred. Easy as that! If you're really worried, don't because there should be signs everywhere and plenty of people to ask.
Next flight was with Delta airlines and I had to wait less than 2 hours before boarding, so I decided to listen to some music. It was a short but sweet flight and no body was sat on my row again, I even got another nap in and woke up to a bag of pretzels they had given out. That 1 hour and 40 minutes flew by and after 13 hours I had finally made it into New Orleans. Yaaaaaay!
I couldn't wait to get off the plane and finally see Megan's face and have a lie down.

After getting off the plane, I went downstairs to reclaim my baggage and I could see Megan holding a sign with my name on it. We ran so fast to finally hug each other and we even had a little cry :') I missed her so much and we sat and chatted at the airport for so long that we ended up missing our bus to get us to our hostel (Oops!)
I'll be writing separate posts about my 2 weeks of travelling in America, so look out for my New Orleans post next!

x x x

I survived Second Year

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The title of this post says it all really. I got through my second year of!?
Well I finished quite a few months ago but only just found out what I got, a lovely 2:1! Although my exams did bring it down, I worked my socks off in second semester and achieved the grade I wanted.

In comparison to first year, I have enjoyed second year A LOT more. I got out my comfort zone and met some great people through taking part in activities and events, I took on a work placement, I quit my job because it was making me feel miserable and stressed, having an affect my uni work. And the best thing is that it has helped me to decide on my next path after graduating, which is a relief because I feel like I can enjoy my course a bit more now.

At the beginning of this year I wasn't too hopeful about the future, but my views have definitely changed. I have some amazing plans for this year and next year, money is certainly going to be needed which is why I've taken on bank shifts at a residential care home & a nursery to help me gain experience and earn money for all the adventures I have planned.

So that means I only have one year left!!! Yes! I'm absolutely dreading third year but hopefully things will work out if I work just as hard. But for now I'm going to enjoy my Summer!
x x x

Counselling and comfort zones

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Not too long ago I had my last counselling session and I realised how much it has helped me over the year.
Going to my university health and wellbeing services was the best decision I've ever made, I was at a point in my life where I was really lost,  scared of everything and just consumed by anxiety. I'm so glad my GP encouraged me to go for it as I was really reluctant and thought propranolol alone would help me.

Counselling was new to me as it allowed me just to talk which I don't usually do, I'm pretty good at bottling up my thoughts and putting a mask over my feelings which can be tiresome and can cause you to snap at any moment. 
It was nice to get things off my chest and work on different areas of my life. Since starting my session I have dealt with so many issues and taken on things I never thought I could.
I've started visiting my Dad, taken on new opportunities, left opportunities that were stressing me out, took a driving test (even though I failed), decided what I want to do in the future and I'm taking a solo flight to america this year to travel with my friend. 

It made me realise that:
1. Life is to be enjoyed 
2. If you really want something only you can go out and make it happen
3. Stepping outside your comfort zone can actually reduce your anxiety a bit at a time
4. Your mental illness does not control you, it's up to you to control it to take back your life
5. Having a panic attack or just a bad day is not the end of the world! Be proud you got through it and start again tomorrow
6. Your illness doesn't define you

I've been going through a lack of self-belief and doubt lately, but I've got so much to look forward to that I shouldn't be feeling low. Anyway I will continue to tackle whatever life throws at me and I aim to try lots of new things this summer!

x x x

A few updates!

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So a lot has gone on in the past few weeks and I'm so glad everything is out of the way now...well most things.

Booked my driving test
I finally bit the bullet and booked my driving test because if I don't do it now then I never will. I am absolutely terrified but since I am an anxious person I am constantly worrying that I am not ready yet. I can only help this by doing extra practice and hoping for the best. I haven't told anyone when it's booked for but it is next month.

Visited my Dad
This was another thing that was on my bucket list for this year and it was also recommended by my counsellor and my mum, so I went to see my Dad. This is a long story but basically my mum and dad separated when I was young and I just never formed that bond with him as I grew up. Now that I am 21 years old, it's time to build that bond.
I spent a few hours on a Friday night with him and it was actually alright, it wasn't awkward because he had so much to tell me and he was happy to see me. I found out a lot about the past which was interesting and I plan to see him again soon.

Quit both of my jobs
I sound like I had a nervous breakdown but don't worry I thought about this choice very carefully and for a long time. I left my job at Waitrose and my STA travel ambassador job (both on good terms) last week for many reasons. Even though I'm probably going to be broke as I am relying on my student loan for financial aid but it's not all bad news.
I'm young and I've been working since I was 16, I needed a break! I live with my parents so I don't use money towards bills, just my phone bill so I'm grateful for that. I get my weekends back and can enjoy my life again and also I can start to focus more on my uni work as my final year is creeping up.
Right now I am searching for support worker and carer jobs with bank shifts to help me develop my career in mental health nursing.

Got through uni work and a presentation
After my work placement I had a lot of writing up to do and I've just about finished it after forcing myself to complete them. Just need to spend the next week tweaking a few things and then I can finally submit them and get rid of it all haha! I also had to do a compulsory presentation in front of 10 people which I hated as I was a nervous wreck but it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now that it's done with.

Chose my dissertation projects
Choosing my final year projects at 12am when I was exhausted was probably not the best choice but the deadline was coming up so kind of had to hurry up and choose. I had to select 5 that I wanted (although I probably want 2 out of 5 of them) and then I will be assigned with one by next year. Scary stuff!

Booked a flight to America
I've got an exciting summer to look forward to this year but this one is a little different to the rest. As my bestie is doing Camp America this year, I'm flying out to America to travel with her. We still have to sort out a lot of other stuff like accommodation and transportation but we went ahead and booked our first destination to get the ball rolling.
Oh yeah did I mention this will be my first flight alone AND I have to get a connecting flight!! Naturally I'm nervous but so many of my friends have been through this experience and I can't let it hold me back.

Life has been a bit crazy but sort of calm at the same time and I've already planned my next few weekends starting with the Otley Run this weekend :)

Have you got any exciting or nerve-wracking plans coming up soon?
Leave me a comment below!
x x x


Muse in Brighton

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So last week me and Megan headed off onto another adventure in Brighton to see our favourite band, MUSE!

Brighton has been on my list of places to visit for a long time because of the quirky and beautiful scenery and obviously the seaside.
We hopped on an early megabus to London and then a train to beautiful Brighton.

We took a small tour of Brighton on the way to our hotel, we explore some of the shops in the North Laine which we loved and strolled past the Brighton Dome where people were already queuing for the show and walked past the beautiful Royal Pavilion.
Not long afterwards we found our hotel, we were lucky to have an amazing view of the seaside and the pier from our room.

After settling in we got ready for the show and got through a bottle of rosé very quickly, we were absolutely starving and went on the search for food.  Our obvious choice was Yo Sushi 1.We love Japanese food 2. It was close to the Brighton Dome and 3. We really wanted a Big Hero 6 Bento since we are collecting the wristbands (definitely not two 21 years olds). My chicken katsu bento was delicious and the excitement for Muse was rising.

Yes! The gig was amazing and my love for Muse just got bigger and they even played my favourite song :') I didn't want it to end and I felt that feeling of euphoria I had the last time I saw them in 2013.
The atmosphere in such as small building was just electric and their new songs sounded even better live.

Okay I'll stop gushing over the show. After having mixed feelings of joy and sadness that it had ended we got to see the band after waiting for them to come out. I can't believe this actually happened but I met Dom Howard (the drummer), I was actually lost for words when I met him but I managed to ask for a photo!!

After gushing over having our photos taken we had a few drinks in the Mash Tun and then went to the Market Diner for late night noms!

The next day we had the best English breakfast with a nice view of the seaside, I really wasn't ready to return home just yet but unfortunately we had too :( after the quick train to London and then a train back to Sheffield we were home.
It's been over a week and post gig depression is still there. Wah!

Anyway back to reality, this week is a little more calmer as my work placement has ended, my second job has finished for the term and my Japanese and aerial hoop classes have finished.
So I can actually start working on uni work now. (I'll probably do a post on over-commitment soon!)

x x x

The difference between introvert, shyness and social anxiety

A lot of people would probably label me as a shy person. 
Definition of shy: 'nervous or timid in the company of others.'

The same people often associate 'shyness' as a negative thing, by saying 'you're pretty shy, but that's just you' like it's a problem and  I'm going to take offence. I wouldn't view shyness as a negative at all. In fact I find it easier to talk to people who are 'shy'. I tend to find the people who don't talk too much, have the most to say when you listen. 

Which brings me to introversion. 
Definition: 'A person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.' 
Now I would probably describe myself as more of an introvert. Shyness and introversion are not the same thing although a lot of people unintentionally mix the two. 
A shy person doesn't usually want to be alone, but finds it pretty scary to interact with others, whereas an introvert enjoys time to themselves and can feel drained when spending too much time with others.

I'd say I was shy child, I didn't know what to say in social situations or how to join in but I've managed to overcome it slowly. Now I would much prefer to observe and listen to conversations and talk when necessary. I hate small talk, I would much rather have deep meaningful conversations. When I talk about something I'm interested in it's hard to shut me up! I don't mind silences in conversations, to me they are not awkward but more comfortable and gives you time to process thoughts. 

This brings me to another anxiety! This is much more intense than shyness as this involves a fear of being judged by others and being watched, it can lead to panic attacks and avoiding social situations. Basically it can get in the way of life. 

I wouldn't say I have total social anxiety, more anxiety over having panic attacks which can often stop me from joining social events as I never know when it'll happen and I don't want to embarrass myself in front of people. But I am learning to overcome this and not let it beat me.

I'd say I was an outgoing introvert who just has anxiety, if you're going to label me. I realised this after reading a book called 'Quiet: The Power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking' by Susan Cain. I'm only a few chapters in so far but it's made discover a lot about myself, for instance there is nothing wrong with being a quiet person and if others find it troubling then that is their problem not yours. 

I'd thought I'd leave you with a few links:

I find I really related to this blog post:
Struggles of having an outgoing personality but actually being shy and introverted

7 Ways You Can Love an Introvert

Introversion and Extroversion: The brain behind our personalities


Aerial Hoop!

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Last night I tried something new...Aerial hoop!
You're probably wondering aerial what? 
Yep it's an actual thing where a hoop is suspended from the ceiling and you do lovely poses whilst inside the hoop. I really couldn't wait to try it because it was something new to get me out of my comfort zone, boost my confidence and another way of keeping fit. 

As soon as I walked in and saw the hoops I just wanted get straight into it. In the class there was me and one other girl who was really lovely and had no prior experience like me. 
Our teacher was great too! She started off with warm up and then afterwards she showed us ways to get into the hoop and dismount, we seemed to nail the hardest one called the straddle (my favourite). Next she showed us basic poses in the hoop where we learnt the stag pose, the birdie pose, the man in the moon pose and the side star pose. It was so fun but wow did my hands, arms and legs hurt!

At the end of the class she gave us a few exercises to do which were pretty difficult  for us first timers but we did it (yay!)
She praised us a lot for our strength and how graceful we looked, although I felt like an elephant on the hoop from the way it kept spinning haha! Also I cut my arm (apparently I'm the first to cut themselves in the first lesson). 

So I really enjoyed my first lesson and can't wait to do it again next week.
I woke up this morning and my whole body is aching, she warned us of the pain we would experience for the next few days and I'm definitely feeling it.

At the moment I'm completely overwhelmed by a few new experiences this month, but I'm learning to prioritise and taking part in activities to take my mind off things (yoga & meditation being another one). 

I'd love to know what activities you've recently taken up and activities you plan to take up.
x x x 


New year, new blog!

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Finally after debating with myself for so long my blog has been given a makeover! I've been attempting to change my theme for a while now and I now I feel much happier with how it looks all courtesy of Pipdig
I think little things like this will motivate me to post more! :)

New year, new start and all that.

Back again!

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My exams and assignments are finally over! Well I have a few assignments due in a few months...but still it's nice to have a little break.
I'm actually over the moon. 

I kind of enjoy doing assignments, it's the exams that make me stressed. Even my mum was happy when it was all over, she actually said "I've finally got my Leah back" apparently I was on auto pilot and I didn't even realise.

Anyway I don't think I would have got through it all if it wasn't for my uni buddy, plus one & bezzie, Lynette! It's great to have someone to study/panic with. 

Now those are out of the way I have 2 weeks before I start my placement (which is to do with eating disorders) so I'm really happy and excited about that. These next 2 weeks I'm planning to relax and just simply take care of myself and make a start on achieving things that I didn't think I would ever do. 

And get better at blogging...
(hehe yes I say this a lot)

Thanks for reading
Have a lovely weekend!
x x x


2015 Goals!

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Its's currently 7am right now and I'm wide awake so I thought why not be productive and write a blog post!
It's 2015 and like every one else I have decided on a few goals that I have set for myself which I want to accomplish by the end of this year. This year I'm not aiming for the generic 'New Year, New me' I simply want to enhance my life this year to experience a happier version of myself.

1. Travel (Ireland, Florida, Valencia, USA, Mediterranean cruise)

2. Take my driving test in February 

3. Rekindle a relationship with my Dad

4. Go on a date 

5. Focus on my work placement 

6. Work on my anxiety with counselling 

7. Save up my money

8. Travel with friends (Leeds fest, Download, Manchester)

9. Move out

10. DIY projects 

11. Relax more 

12. See more shows (Lion King, Charlie and the chocolate factory, Shrek)

13. Take up yoga

14. Start exercising again

15. Take up guitar lessons 

16. Learn French and Chinese (mandarin)

17. Go on long bike rides 

18. Change things that I am not happy with about myself

19. Take each day as it comes along

20. Have a lot more girly nights in

21. Celebrate New Year's Eve in London 

There were plenty more that needed adding to this list but I'll probably just keep those to myself and eventually work on them.
Wish me luck!
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