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Football IS coming home

We still believe…

Once upon a time, on a tiny damp island called England, something magical happened.

The nation was divided, with people arguing over Brexit, clashes between governments, and arguments in household over whether Love Island is the best creation ever invented, or a pile of sexist, dated tripe which needs to be destroyed and thrown into the sea and never seen again (I’ll leave you to guess which team I’m on).

Then one day, many many miles away, a group of men whom most of us had never met won a football match. And the people of England gathered round their televisions, bedecked in red and white from head to toe. Some drank beer, some cider. Some were Man United fans, others would die for Chelsea. Some were Remainers, others staunch Brexiteers. But for those 90 minutes, none of that mattered. Everyone was rooting for the team from that damp little island to do well, and at least get out of the group stages and not make us an international laughing stock (can you tell we usually don’t do overly well?)

Tears, beers and lots of bad language. Eyes were covered, hands were waved, and flags flown proudly.

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Contrary to our expectations, we carried on doing rather well. The team were the youngest squad in the tournament, and played quietly and determinedly, with none of the usual scandal or drama which tend to follow the team around. In a shock twist, they were making headlines for their football, not their disappointments. And the people of the damp little island started to hold their breath slightly, hardly daring to hope.

It wouldn’t be England playing if they didn’t stress the hell out of all of us and make it almost painful to watch. They pushed us to the limits when playing Columbia, allowing an equaliser in extra time to create an additional 30 minute of play. Fans around the country begged the Lions to put one in the net, whether by fluke or talent, anything to prevent us from heading to the next stage: penalties, and the inevitable defeat which would follow.

We don’t have a very good track record when it comes to penalties you see (disclaimer: this is a SLIGHT understatement).

To our frustration, extra time finished on an equaliser, and as the commentator announced that we would be going to penalties, fans around the world started saying how good it was while it lasted, how at least we got this far, how there was always 2022.

Then something miraculous happened. England pulled it out of the bag, and they won. On penalties. For the first time EVER.

And the country went absolutely apeshit.

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And for the first time in a very long time, England had something we have been lacking for a long time: hope.

This country has been through the mill over the last few years. It seems the papers are hitting us daily with devastating news: tragic and senseless acts of terrorism. Brexit. An increasing murder rate in London. We haven’t had much to look forward to. All of these elements, coupled with the fact that we are regularly booted from international sporting tournaments pretty rapidly, meant that no-one had much faith in the team.

The match with Columbia changed all that.

Suddenly, people dared to hope. They started to believe. England had done the unthinkable, shaken off their preconceptions and stigma, and achieved a stunning victory.

Even Southgate cracked a smile.

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World Cup fever was everywhere, with people proud to fly the flag, to wear the shirt, to support the team. ‘Our lads’ were a hot topic of conversation, and it seemed it might truly be possible. Everton fans were civil to Liverpool fan, and Manchester city was united (excuse the pun) for a few brief weeks. We flew through the quarter finals, and for the first time in years, made it to a World Cup semi final.

We didn’t win. We didn’t quite bring it home. But you know what? I’m not sure the trophy matters.

One of my strongest memories from that match wasn’t Kieren Trippier’s stunning goal four minutes in (though I was sobbing just as loudly as anyone when that happened.) It wasn’t even the agony of realising that Croatia’s second goal had hit home. It is of three England players surrounding a fallen Croation, and Dele Alli standing over him, offering a hand up. Croatia were 2-0 up at this point. We had hope, but we weren’t born yesterday; we knew there was a chance it was all over. The players themselves must have been feeling the same, yet they acted like gentlemen on the world stage, and conducted themselves with incredible dignity. I’m not saying they were perfect; there were eyebrows raised and questionable tactics on both sides (I wont go into detail about the conduct of Croatia: all I’ll say is we all watched the match.) This, for me, was one of the stand out moments of the whole tournament: young lads, under the most immense pressure, acting like decent human beings.

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The whistle went, and Croatia flooded the pitch in ecstasy. All around me, grown men were sobbing. Then the camera panned to the devastated members of the England squad,and instead of the expected jeers, boos and insults, a lone voice in the crowded pub shouted “We’re proud of you lads!” This chant was taken up, and the atmosphere was one of gratitude, respect, and incredible appreciation for making it as far as we did. The comments today were full of praise for the squad, and a confidence that we can only get better, smash the Euros, and try again at Quatar. This is only the beginning of our journey.

Someone said to me that “it’s only a game.” But this World Cup was more than that for England. Gareth Southgate and his boys brought a love of football home. They brought belief and strength to a jaded, tired nation, and united the entire country with their tireless effort. They showed that it is possible to overcome even the biggest hurdles with the right mindset: England can even win a penalty shootout with the right team, belief and support. They showed that you can take on the challengers and doubters who oppose you: and win. They proved that even in times of heartbreak, you can reach out a hand to an enemy, and show compassion. They brought home all the best aspects of football, and united the country unlike anything I have ever seen.

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So boys, you may have lost the match, but I would argue that you definitely brought it home. The lessons learned this summer are more important than the trophy, and I want to thank you for creating something magical. Can’t wait for the Euros, and out next shot at the glory.

Now lets smash it on Saturday, let those lions roar, and take home the bronze.

We still believe

J x

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Take a Breath

Hey lovely people!

It’s been a while, and I feel as though my feet haven’t stopped moving for the last few weeks – lots of exciting things happening!

This week I took some important time out, just to chill. Instead of looking to exotic destinations, I decided to make the most of the town I live in, and it proved that sometimes there can be hidden treasures just around the corner, if we take the time to look. Take a moment to take a moment.

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It’s a pretty good metaphor for life really. So often we spend our time waiting for the next thing. “When I’ve paid this debt. When I’m 2 stone lighter. When I’ve got a house. When I get that job…” but once we have those things, we still aren’t satisfied. Instead of looking at what is in front of us, we continue searching for the next thing which makes us happy, then the next, then the next. It sounds like a cliche, but we are so focused on the destination, we refuse to look at the journey,.

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I’m just as bad in this; I’ve spent the last few months playing the “but when” game. “But when I get into graduate school, things will improve…but when I get this client, things will be easier.. but when I earn x amount a month, I can do this…”

Sometimes its easy to get so carried away with what isn’t, what might be, and what might never happen, that we risk losing all sense of what is.

By taking time to re-walk the paths right on my doorstep, I noticed new tracks, spots of breathtaking beauty, and scenes I have never before noticed.  I saw the familiar around me in a whole new way, and exploring that which I know gave a brand new sense of perspective.

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I guess the message here is that life is busy, hectic, and constantly moving. We don’t have time to take a moment, to catch a breath, to admire the view. Which is exactly why is is so important we do that.  Stop searching for what else is out there, and take the time to admire and appreciate that which is right in front of you. There is beauty t o be found int the most unexpected places.

Take a moment to take a moment. Breathe. And live in it.

More to come!

Speak soon,

J x

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New Moon in Taurus

Hello my lovelies, it’s that wonderful time again: New Moon!

The New Moon this month is in Taurus, and is a time for change and new starts. Although the New Moon is always a time for fresh beginnings, the inclusion of Taurus means that this is the ideal time to set goals and start new challenges.

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Taurus is all about stability and security, especially around finances, family and the home, and so you can be confident that any changes are happening for your greater good, and will have a positive end result. Uranus moves into Taurus on the 15th May, bringing with it a powerful energetic shift which you can harness and use to your advantage!

Many of us look externally for security;  a nice home, good wages and a nice car. All of these things are nice and important (I’ve been hankering for a new Audi for longer than I care to admit,) but it is important to remember that true security comes from within. When you start to accept yourself internally, warts and all, your sense of security shifts, and this has a recognisable impact on your surroundings. How to gain this inner stability?

Accept that everything changes.

Sounds counterproductive right? Finding stability by accepting change? I’ve finally lost the plot.

Except I haven’t.

Once you accept that everything changes and that nothin is permanent, once you stop taking change personally, you regain control over your mojo.

The world changes. People are born and die, in every town and city and country and era of history. the only thing constant is change.

Benjamin Franklin told us that the only certainty in life is death and taxes. Whilst he was correct in his wonderful cynicism, he forgot one other certainty: change.

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When a surfer approaches a hairy looking wave, they don’t suddenly turn away and try to avoid it: doing so would be stupid at best, dangerous at worst. They ride it out.

A tree in the middle of a field which becomes a housing estate which becomes a city doesn’t cease to shed its leaves, stand bare, grow new life and turn golden year after year. It carries on the cycle, going with the changes which surround it.

The tide doesn’t change just because the world does, or the coastline erodes, or the beach becomes polluted. For millions of years, the tide has continued to ebb and flow in its natural rhythm, and it will continue for millions of years after humans are a distant memory of the Universe.

Once we learn to accept this change, to ride the wave, to adapt seamlessly to the constant world around us, we can harness the power, and that is a bonus of this New Moon.

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Taurus is about finding stability and security, and a New Moon promises change. Reconciling these two aspects is tricky, but doing so can have a profound impact on your life. Start small. Notice your thoughts. How are you responding to a situation? Are you resisting it? Will resisting change anything? Is there anything you can do? By simply observing what you are thinking, feeling and responding, you are gaining power, and learning to let go just a little more.

We have no control over the things which happen to us; we can only control the way in which we react to them.

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So this New Moon, and thereafter, catch a wave. Go with the flow. And see what happens.

Stay wild moon child,

J x

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New project!

Hello lovely people!

I know I have somewhat neglected my wonderful followers lately, but I have been working hard on a new side project…

Ta da! (Wish I could have big dramatic music or at least a drumroll…)

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My new site, JHM Media is now officially live!

Whether you are a regular blogger, just starting out, or need copy for your business, I offer a full, comprehensive service to meet all of your writing needs. Blog management, social media connections, CV management…drop me a line with your requirements and I will do my best to help.

 

This doesn’t mean I am abandoning my blog, just branching out a bit. Because growth is good apparently.

Much love to you all, I’ll update properly very soon!

In the meantime (blatant plug here), please do check out the site and let me know what you think! http://www.jhmmedia.com

Adios and love,

J x

Lifestyle

More than Mind

My dear readers, I have been absent from blogging and writing for far longer than I am comfortable with. Life got a bit crazy (read abso-bloody-lutely awful) and I lost faith and interest in everything, reduced to simply going through the motions day by day, waiting for something to happen. Yesterday I reached rock bottom, had an avalanche of rejections and bad news, and dealt with it like an adult by hiding in my bed and having a cry about how crap my life was.

Then something hit me.

Lying in bed crying about how the Universe hated me made me feel better for about ten seconds. Then I just felt sorry for myself, had a blocked nose, and looked like crap, which made me feel worse (like Helen from Bridesmaids, I am definitely an ugly crier). It didn’t actually change my situation. It didn’t magic a job opportunity into my lap. Or a one way plane ticket. Or even the winning lottery numbers. It didn’t get rid of my hideous bosses or screechy customers, it didn’t make my workplace treat me like a human being, and it didn’t make anyone appreciate me more. I wasn’t suddenly chilling on a beach in Thailand, riding through a sunlit forest or having the freedom to run my own life.

It achieved absolutely nothing.

And that’s when I had a second wave of realisation.

(This all sounds very profound but in reality I was hiding under the duvet with birds nest hair and snotting all over the place: transformation is not as glamorous as it seems)

I had zero control over the things which were happening to me. I couldn’t make people respond to my emails with Yes’s. I couldn’t magic up my dream job just because I want it. I couldn’t help the way customers and colleagues treated me. I had (and still have) absolutely no power over any of these things.

I do, however, have absolute power over my reactions.

I can choose whether to stay in bed and cry and wreck my very nice overpriced (but oh so with it) Egyptian cotton pillowcases with mascara.

Or I can put on my big girl pants and deal.

We are more than our minds.

The only thing we have total control over is our mindset, and our response to situations. Once we know this, we get our power back.

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Now trust me, I know this is easier said than done. I can hear you right now, arguing, “Oh it’s easy for you to say! I’ve got x,y and z going on!” I’ve been there, I am anxiety’s bitch more than I’d care to admit. And I’m not saying its easy. Nothing worth doing is easy, according to dear old Teddy Roosevelt. And that sucks, I agree. But it is what it is. And that’s exactly the crux of what I’m saying.

On occasion, life sucks beyond the telling of it (thanks Buffy, you do good quotes.)

You have power, even when you feel powerless. You can help yourself even when you are helpless. The way you respond can make or break everything.

Think of it hypothetically. You and a loved one are having a nice time. You’re chilled, having a laugh, all in a good place and it looks set to continue. Then they do or say something that gets right on your nerves, sets your teeth on edge, and you go to kick off. You snap, they snap back, one of you storms off, and that lovely day you were having is ruined until someone apologises and you move on. Or, you could look at the bigger picture. Does what they’re doing really matter? Will you remember it in 6 months? Or can you choose to let it go, accept it as one of their irritating quirks, and carry on having a nice day?

Your choice.

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Obviously I’m not trying to minimise other people’s crappy behaviour. If someone is way out of line, you need to tell them off. But this is also part of it: own your power. Be assertive. If someone is treating you like a doormat, you can choose how to respond to that.

In that moment, you have a choice.

This feels like it’s escalating into a power ballad, so I’m going to wrap it up there. This is something I will definitely be returning to, but I just wanted to dip your toes into it whilst I remember how to write again.

Mindset can be everything, and you are the only one with the power to use it.

Deep stuff. Go and eat some ice cream to digest (Ben & Jerry’s now do vegan ice cream, so the world is a good place.)

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(This is not Ben & Jerry’s, but it IS Northern Irish ice cream, which may be even better.)

Thanks and love and stuff

J x

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What is Anxiety?

According to the NHS website, Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Just a feeling of unease, like nerves or uncertainty. Just a niggling worry, an underlying fear. Something easy to deal with, to brush off. Take some deep breaths, pop a Xanax and get on with it. Keep calm and carry on.

If only it was that easy.

What about all the things that definition fails to tell you about anxiety?

Anxiety is walking into your favourite shop, only to immediately have to leave because you think you’re going to throw up.

It’s automatically looking for the exit whenever you enter a room, and positioning yourself at the edge of a crowd, to allow you to bet to safety when you need to.

It’s overreacting at the tiniest, most insignificant things (my personal favourite recently was a full on breakdown over a toothbrush), because you start panicking about absolutely nothing.

Anxiety is cancelling the plans you were desperate to attend, turning your phone on silent, and sitting in your room because you’re too scared to leave the house.

It’s being late to work, meetings and appointments, and putting up with disapproval or warnings because you’re too embarrassed to admit you couldn’t leave the house.

It’s switching from chill and relaxed to sweaty palms, pounding heart, and the overwhelming feeling that some has put your chest in a vice and is squeezing, to the point you’re convinced you’re dying.

It’s replaying conversations, scenarios, messages and looks over and over and over in your head, overthinking every glance, nuance and suggestion, seeing the bad in everything.

Anxiety is having people you thought understood telling you to simply take a pill, man up and get over it.

It’s isolating yourself from those you love, because even you don’t understand your feelings.

It’s a sense of inadequacy, overwhelming self doubt, negativity, and the assumption that things won’t ever be better.

It’s a ‘glamourous’ illness, appropriated by everyone who has ever had butterflies, and turns us into drama queens and overreactors.

Anxiety is a battle. But it’s not the war.

It’s overcoming adversity. It’s facing situations you thought you never could. It’s being in tune with your own thoughts, feelings, emotions and mind. It’s finding strength from deep inside yourself. It’s finding out who you really have on your side.

Anxiety is a battle. But it’s definitely not the war.

Stay strong,

Namaste.

J x

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“It’s Not Supposed to be Easy!”

My dear followers, I am writing here in order to make myself accountable. Lent has begun, and will end on March 29th. This is a period in the Christian church which involves giving up something you enjoy; traditionally, alcohol or meat. Now I’m already a vegetarian, and I don’t really tend t drink enough for it to be a sacrifice. The one thing I do love, however, is chocolate.

Guess what I’ve given up for Lent?

I don’t know if I’m particularly religious. I’m baptised, and I am defiantly a big believer in there being SOMETHING out there. I’m just still in the process of figuring out what it is and what to call it. But more on that later.

For me, Lent is not only a traditional fast for 40 days. It is a challenge, a commitment and a period of sacrifice to reflect and think. If I can do it, I will be so proud of myself because it shows I can set a goal and stick to it despite MASSIVE temptation (Lindt Easter chocolate in EVERY shop anyone???) I think it does us good as humans to take a break from indulgences and luxuries we enjoy every now and again, as a sort of personal challenge and goal. In a world where we can access pretty much what we want whenever we want, it is interesting to see how strong we actually are when put to the test.

I’m not a saint, so we shall see. Putting it on here makes me feel like I have more accountability for it; I have made a public statement, and promise to do my best to stick to it!

Namaste,

J x