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Just Me…

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1. Victoria Beckham
The Beckham’s are bonded over their mutual love of excessive ink. Victoria’s delicate and dainty frame suits this intricate Hebrew neck lettering. Supposedly her tattoo is an excerpt from ‘The Song of Solomon’, a beautiful love poem.

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2. Lea Michele’s Gold Star
In homage to her GLEE character Rachel Berry, Lea tattooed herself with this subtle gold star. The colour really pops in this bubble-gum pink dress.

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3. Eve’s kitty cat paws
Often duplicated, this provocative tattoo really appeared to fire up the flare of numerous copy cats! Hard to miss and hard to conceal, this fiery, feisty seductive design is suitable for the mischievous, wild rapper.

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4. Dianna Agron’s nursery rhyme
Dianna is the embodiment of girlishness, elegance and class and her tattoo does not detract from that. An excerpt from ‘Mary had a little lamb’, Dianna’s mother was named Mary and the tattoo is representative of there close relationship.

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5. Paris Hilton’s red butterfly
Butterflies might be a little overdone but Paris Hilton’s scarlet butterfly embossed upon her neck suits the human Barbie, adding a little fire to the airy, mercurial socialite.

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6. Cara Delevingne’s Lion
Embossing her finger with a bold, striking lion, Cara Delevigne was unknown to me until I saw her tattoo. The playmate of Rihanna and Rita affronted Prince Charles with this unusual, unforgettable design.

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7. Angelina Jolie’s Tiger
Angelina Jolie was the poster child for raunchy rebellion before it became a mainstream fad. Her dynamic back tattoo of a tiger is a powerful representation of the wild woman herself and not for the fainthearted!

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8. Lea Michele’s Musical Notes
Delicate, dainty and wonderfully girly, Lea’s shoulder tattoo indicates how important and instrumental (excuse the pun) music has been in her life.

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9. Rihanna’s Isis
To celebrate her birthday, Rihanna added to her body art with this interesting placement of the Egyptian Goddess Isis. It most definitely draws even more attention to the singer!

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10. Kat Von Dee’s Eye Stars
Heavily tatted Kat Von Dee is a little overly tattooed for my liking, and though stars are by no means unique she really rocks this painful placement. What can I say? It suits her!

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1. Lock and Key
An unusual, somewhat romantic and mysterious choice, this is an interesting selection of placements for the lock and key design. As standalone pieces they are a little evasive, but together they create an interesting story.

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2. Crescent moon
The moon is representative of feminine power, changeability and cyclical behaviour. Choosing to adorn yourself with the moon is a way of claiming your femininity.

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3. Musical Note
Lea Michele’s musical note is by no means a unique design, but the shoulder placement is very sweet and subtle and perfectly appropriate for a Glee star!

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4. Gun
Rihanna’s gun might be particularly unfeminine and representative of some darker changes to her former sweet girl persona, but it definitely suits her and sums up her attitude!

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5. C.A.T
Mad cat ladies will be fawning over this one.

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6. The red heart
This small, red heart is beautifully emphasised by the darkened, bold border and red necklace. A romantic, feminine placement.

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7. WFF Panda
This might not be to everyone tastes, but animal lovers will appreciate the sentiment.

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8. Love heart 2
Another love heart…but what a unique and adorable placement!

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9. Cat
This slinky cat tattoo might not be too tiny, but it is tempting!

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10. Small seahorse
The thick bold lines compensate for the subtlety of this adorable seahorse!

I’ve recently decided that I am going to create a bucket list. I might keep it personal, or I might put it on my blog (it might be more exciting to make it interactive!). To motivate myself, I’ve decided to write a list of certain things that I can cross off the bucket list before officially ever starting it…because they’ve already happened. I don’t know what more incentive you can have to continue than to see where you’ve been. Some are small and some are more meaningful. It would be great to see what personal dreams, wishes or aspirations you have crossed off of your own bucket list 🙂

  • ·        Have a spontaneous kiss with a stranger
  • ·        Lie in a hammock and watch the stars with someone special
  • ·        Volunteer with elephants in Thailand
  • ·        Take a flight on my own
  • ·        Return to Thailand spontaneously
  • ·        Ride a banana boat
  • ·        Ride on the back of a motorbike
  • ·        Kiss a dolphin
  • ·        Swim with dolphins
  • ·        Swim with whale sharks
  • ·        Go camping
  • ·        Listen to people sing and play music around a campfire
  • ·        Sneak out
  • ·        Drive a speed boat
  • ·        Go paragliding
  • ·        Go jet skiing
  • ·        Swim in a lake with an elephant
  • ·        Groom a gibbon
  • ·        Visit Chichen Itza
  • ·        Climb Koba
  • ·        Ride a camel on the beach
  • ·        Jump into a hot tub fully clothed
  • ·        Visit Venice
  • ·        Ride a gondola
  • ·        Find the beach from ‘Death in Venice’
  • ·        Visit Paris
  • ·        Watch the fireworks from the Eiffel tower
  • ·        Visit my relatives in France
  • ·        See a KPOP concert
  • ·        Get my bully button pierced
  • ·        Get three piercings in each ear
  • ·        Get a pinna ear piercing in each ear (okay….so one of them closed)
  • ·        Start photographing the moon
  • ·        Visit Disneyworld
  • ·        Visit Harry Potter World
  • ·        Visit the medina in Marrakech
  • ·        Swim in a cenote
  • ·        Be involved in a protest
  • ·        Start a blog
  • ·        Have a professional massage
  • ·        Take a massage class
  • ·        Buy a round the world ticket
  • ·        Submit poetry to an official competition
  • ·        Have my first bynote
  • ·        Start a novel
  • ·        Start meditating
  • ·        Study English Comparative Literature at University
  • ·        Fall in love
  • ·        Fall in love…again

I hope to be able to cross off a few more in the coming year! Feel free to share your own bucket list successes and future wishes! We often forget how many amazing things we have already seen, experienced and achieved, whilst we whittle away the time trying to cultivate more!

1.      I realised that I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be

Emotionally, mentally and PHYSICALLY. For me the decision to volunteer for a month was a massive leap into the unknown. It was overwhelming, surreal, transformative and incredible. I learnt that I am capable of far greater independence, resilience, courage and hard work than I previously thought possible. Long days, oppressive heat, physical labour, sleepless nights and culture shock were hard hitting for my first couple of days, but your body and mind quickly adjust to the demands.

2.       I realised that I can do something on my own

People always make a ‘big thing’ out of the person who eats alone, or goes to see a film alone.  Although you quickly make friends and bond with the people sharing the same experience as you, one of the most important things I gained from my experience was realising I could fully trust myself to do something that I really wanted to do – ALONE.

 3.       I realised I have to give myself time…

Sometimes when you leave your comfort zone, you have an instinctive urge to run straight back to it. You put one foot out the door, nod satisfactorily and shut it closed again. On my first day of volunteering, I didn’t like it. Not. One. Bit. The phrase that was floating around in my head was ‘quit or commit’. I didn’t make a rash decision to leave. I stuck with it, and after the adjustment of the first few days, I fell in love with the experience. Looking back, I realise that if I had left when I felt awkward and uncomfortable, I wouldn’t have all the pictures, memories and experiences that I came away with.

4.       You don’t need as much as you think you do

Inexperienced at launching myself into the big wide world for long durations, I packed a suitcase that could have served as a life dingy for survivors of the Titanic. I tended to wear the same clothes on repeat, barely used a hairbrush, didn’t use a hairdryer once and probably wore the same socks more times than is recommended. Outside of my torch, sun tan lotion, my mosquito spray and a toothbrush, I didn’t really ‘need’ any of my things, and after full immersion in the dirt and grime, I didn’t really miss much of it either. Cold showers refresh you quickly and certainly prevent you from languishing on ‘vanity time’.

 5.       The beauty in people is not physical

I was surrounded by people who for the most part wore not a slick of make-up, wore dirty, unfashionable clothes, were covered in cuts, grazes and mosquito bites and had the odd tick jumping to and fro, yet the people I lived and worked with here were honesty beautiful to me in their courage, commitment and compassion to the project we worked on. Stripped of anything superficial, materialistic or glamorous you see people only for who they are and what they have to offer.

6.       Nature is an amazing alarm clock

It is better waking up to the calls of gibbons, the trumpeting of elephants and the howling of territorial dogs than it is to hit ‘snooze’ on a bleating alarm clock.

7.       Very different people can unite under the umbrella of a singular cause

The people I worked with were from various countries, cultures and some spoke different languages. What we were connected by was a desire to help. Everything else falls into place.

8.       Even in a ‘good’ place, there will be ‘bad’ people

You could be staying in a nunnery and still come across someone you can’t stand. People are people wherever you go.

9.       When you live with the sun all day every day, you learn to be smart with it

Vacation sun and everyday sun are very different. You learn to cover up, keep up with the sunscreen and no, no, NO sunbathing.

10.   White is…not your colour

White clothes will end up anything but white if you insist on wearing them to clean bear enclosures, go swimming and machete banana trees.

11.   Belly button piercings will not stay in

Carrying a basket of food around all day will eventually dislodge it…and the next one…and the other one…AND that one.

12.   The only things impressed by your shiny jewellery are the gibbons, and they will try to grab it!

You don’t really need to ‘dress to impress’ anyone.

13.   Prepare for the unexpected

Sometimes good people are the targets of the very bad. Sometimes places that serve as a sanctuary are invaded by those with hostile intentions. During my stay, we were raided by the DNP (Department of National Parks) who removed 100 animals from the centre using violence, cruelty and a complete lack of professionalism or compassion. I felt it was important for me to witness this to understand firsthand the threats facing wild animals and those that try to protect them.

 14.   God/fate/guardian angels…something guides you to where you are meant to be

My desire to volunteer came from out of the blue. I typed in ‘volunteer’ and ‘elephants’ not really knowing why and having no expectations. What came out of that Google search was one of the most enriching experiences of my life.

15.   Caring for animals is a 24-7 job

Volunteers and staff care tirelessly for the animals they work with. The vets in particular dedicated uncountable hours to the treatment, rescue and care of numerous animals. Little life’s need constant maintenance and lots of consistency and routine.

16.   Your heart will get broken

You will fall in love with the animals. You will learn their stories, grow mad at what happened, and then have to leave them.  You will communicate without words, you will admire the love and patience of such animals, who after so much abuse, torture, neglect and suffering can still play and are still happy to see a human.

17.   You will learn about local life

The good, the bad, the hidden, a few odd words here and there, throw in some misunderstandings and miscommunications, maybe a romance or two, hospitality, rudeness, ‘sniff kisses’ and swear words.

18.   You will realise that home is where you are now, not where you were raised

It’s amazing how strangers can become your tribe, animals your guardians, and strange, basic bedrooms can become your sanctuary.

19.   You will start to hate their food

I was so un-infatuated with the food that I lost a stone. That should speak for itself

20.   Your feet will hate you

The only other ‘vacation’ to batter my feet so much was a shopping marathon in New York.

21.   You won’t need language to be understood

People will take an interest in you, or they won’t and if they do, you will both find your own language.

22.   Time will fly

So enjoy every moment and be open to everything that this new and strange culture can show and teach you.

23. Life goes on if you keep moving

So keep moving!

 

 

I’m relatively new to meditation but it’s something that everyone seems to recommend consistently for every ailment in the same way that the benefits of apples, water and a good night’s sleep will never go out of fashion.

Meditation is a relatively simple process in theory. You sit or lie in a quiet position and simply let thoughts pass in and out of your mind without analysing or obsessing. In this way, you practice mindfulness. You attempt to quiet and steady the mind.

I’ve been practising a variation of a meditation/self-hypnosis supposedly used to banish fear, but I think it could equally be used to obtain focus, ease you to sleep or create a feel or mood of power, or even just a deeper connection with the elements and the soul. Fire can produce a powerful atmosphere that can totally transform and transcend regular surroundings. If you’ve ever entered a temple or place of worship, the use of candles really can elevate a basic setting to a spiritual and instinctual place. It can invoke passion, anger, lust or leadership, but when it flickers with a steady flame, it can be a source of great comfort and strength.

The original meditation is very simple.

You sit or lie somewhere quiet and light a candle (scented or unscented is a matter of preference).

Focus on the candle for anywhere between 20-30 minutes.

During this time, simply concentrate on the candle and allow your thoughts to come and go. The idea of concentrating sharpens focus and serves as a distraction. If you recall the feeling of sitting around a camp fire or by your fire place on a cold day, you’ll know there’s something soothing and calming about the pulse of a steady fire flaring nearby. This distraction enables fear to melt (or squirm) away, even if temporarily. It’s a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety and to put your trust back into all things elemental.

The exercise also encourages you, once you’ve practiced focusing for 20-30 minutes, to use this time to focus on the issue or problem causing you fear and think of ways to resolve/ease the feeling that arises. An answer, solution, relief or acceptance may come to you during these moments.

I find it difficult to sit in complete silence so I’ve created a playlist which is essentially a mixture of Native American and Middle Eastern music (with a few curve balls thrown in).

None of the songs include singing, and those that do are chanted/sung in a foreign language, meaning that I don’t focus on the words. Instead I focus on the beat and swell of the music, music that represents and solidifies what I want to feel.

I let the playlist run and stare at the flame.

I feel a strong sense of comfort, calm and the greatest paradox of all, peaceful and powerful.

During this time, I simply sit and stare at the flame, I let myself think thoughts I want to purge myself of and mentally place them into the flame. I then admire the flame. In focusing on it, I see all of its details. I start to refine and focus my thoughts repeating affirmations, ideas, desires that I want to manifest in my life and in myself. Finally, I lose all thoughts altogether and instead I just feel….alive, real, okay…

As I said, this meditation/hypnosis combined with the right music really calms the soul.

It can ease fears…

Sooth you to sleep…

Placate anxiety…

Inspire creativity…

Wake you up…

Get you in touch with fire and all traits associated with it…

Help you feel powerful…

Help you focus…

Inspire ambition/inspiration/action…

Purge you of toxic thoughts/feelings

I urge you to try it out and see what feelings arise and melt away….

Happy meditating!

Original meditation/hypnosis taken from ‘The Answer’ by Glenn Harrold

I absolutely love reading what are essentially ‘shopping lists’ of peoples wisdom, advice and guidance. I turn to them when I need a quick pick me up and to remember that which is vital and that which is irrelevent in the grand scheme of things.

None of the advice I’m going to list below is anything new. It’s all tried and tested, well worn cliche, but the words spoken most often are the ones which carry the most meaning and relevance.

Here is my list for this year so far. I hope it picks someone up the way countless lists have picked me up before!

1. Personality and character are not one and the same.

Some people have truly magnetic, infectitious, amazingly contagious vivacious personalities, but their morals and intentions are questionable at best. It’s easy to be blinded and dazzled by a brilliant personality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a person will have a strong character. ‘The bad guy’ can be curiously charming, the school bitch strangely engaging but these are just shallow surface characteristics and not a representation of the real person.

2. Your dreams, wishes and desires are never all that far away.

When you’re sitting still and silent and wishing for something will all your heart, that thing never seems further away but the gap between simply dreaming, wishing or desiring, and achieving and fulfilling that dream, wish or desire is ridiculously narrow, so much so that once you have the thing that you’ve always wanted, you can still look back over the chasm between having and not having and you might still catch sight of your old self dreaming.

3. You are always capable of conquering the things that scare you most.

Sometimes we are left in awe of how brave and courageous other people are. We think that courage is something other people have, not something in ourselves, but truthfully no one is more competent or capable that you are, even if they appear to be. What you want is not simply ‘not for you’. Every person has the potential to achieve their dreams and face up to the things that scare them.

4. Let…it…go

Nothing in life belongs to us. We create meaning through semantics, through symbols, through titles. We create ownership, we create sense, we create logic, but nothing is ours. Not a single person or a single object or a single place ever really belongs to you, and we only realise that once we lose the thing we thought was ours. There is nothing to fear about this because everything is bound together here on earth and everything is connected in some way, but nothing belongs to us and we belong to nothing. There is great freedom in this. Don’t fear it. Clinging and digging in hurts, but letting go eases. We can all let go of any thought or any feeling at any time.

5. Life is not a check list.

Too many of us rush through life as if bound by a stop watch. We think if we can just bundle in x, y and z within a certain amount of time, we will attain contentment, fulfullment and success. We will have found a way to define our lives through a purpose. I can’t count the people I know who follow a preconceived formula of what equates to happiness, and worse, those who rush through that formula without enjoying the moments.

The formula goes something like this: school, uni, partner, marriage, kids.

Now so much of my blog chastises this way of life and I don’t mean to appear out of allignment with traditions and culture, but this simply does not equal happiness for all, and if all follow it, many will be deeply disconcerted and dissillusioned. Similarly, sometimes the steps follow at different times. It’s like jumping on stepping stones; you might have the baby before the wedding, or the marriage before the degree.

Eke out your own path to happiness. Mix up the steps. Don’t rush. Take time. Be still. Enjoy the moments. Think about what makes YOU happy and not what has made other people happy. Ignore the expectations and desires of others for you. Seek out happiness in the ways and places and people that you find it. Everything has a right time and a right place in every life. Don’t force things.

6. Fear is like fog. It dissipates once you enter into it.

Every person is stronger than they could ever imagine. You only realise how strong you truly are once you look back at the things you’ve achieved, the traumas you’ve been through and the situations you’ve survived.

7. You can be proud of the little things

Waking up on time, doing the dishes, smiling at a stranger – the little things are just as important as the larger, grander acts. The bigger picture wouldn’t exist without the smallest gestures.

8. It’s not love that’s scary, but loss

Nobody is afraid of love itself but of the losing of love, but if you can be a source of love despite your fear, you will truly feel alive. No one ever looks back and regrets that they’ve loved, even if they were hurt, wounded or mistreated. The giving of love requires fearlessness and bravery but also freedom from expectations and conditions. Never regret that you’ve loved. It’s rare and precious and most of us don’t experience it enough. Don’t let fear of future loss stop you loving now.

9. Treasure the butterflies that land on you before they fly away

Never regret what you’ve lost or given away. We all lose things; people, things, money. Be happy you had them but don’t regret that you’ve lost them. Never hold on too tight to things that were never truly yours. Titles like boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wive indicate ownership, but we never own another person. Let go of that which doesn’t belong to you and treasure what is given to you for however long you have it.

10. Don’t let nostalgia forget future

It can be great to reflect on the past and recall fond memories. It is also essential to learn from past experiences, but do not spend so much time in the past that you lose sight of the future. The present moment and what we do with it indicates what becomes of our future. If you let the present moment disapear, you aren’t actively shaping or engaging your future potential and possibilities.

11. Life can be hard, but don’t let it make you hard

Life can be horrifically traumatic at times and in a multitude of ways; poverty, disease and illness, death, abandonment, infidelity, lose of love, boredom, abuse – the list is endless. Many people conquer the most adverse of situations and experiences with a smile on their face and compassion in their hearts. Others weather immense storms simply to become bitter, cold and cruel. None of us can predict or premeditate what hand life will deal with us, but do not let past experiences or the cruelty of people or the misfortunes of your life so far spoil and corrode your future, because there is always the chance and opportunity for peace, calm and healing. Some of the greatest, kindest and strongest healers have overcome the most harrowing and horrible of lifes experiences.

12. Do what you love

If you like drawing, draw. If you like swimming, swim. Even if you can’t make a career out of it, do it. So many people I speak to give up on a passion or interest because it didn’t end up becoming a career. It doesn’t need to make you money. If it makes you happy, make sure you find a place for it.

13. Listen to your inner child

Laugh at silly things, trust people, speak your mind, use your imagination, be creative. Some of our best attributes flourish in childhood and diminish as we grow. When you want to give up, remember you were once a child with dreams. NEVER give up on that child and never let them down.

14. A partner won’t complete you

If you feel like half a person, you’ll always feel like half a person. You’ll be a leech and parasite to any partner because they make you feel secure, wanted and alive, but like an addict you’ll always want more until you leech your source dry completely. It’s a massive cliche, but completeness can only be found inside of yourself, enhancement can be found externally. Your world won’t end if you lose a partner, nor will it magically transform if you find one – not if you can’t be happy with who you are.

15. Nobody really cares…

So what if someone gossips about you for 5 minutes? Truthfully, it amounts to boredom and insecurity. Nobody really cares all that much so don’t make their molehills your mountains.

16. Ignore the clock (when you can)

When you’re a kid an hour is forever, darkness indicates the end of playtime and sunshine indicates a new day. The clock doesn’t need to dictate what you do and when you do it.

17. Be proud of who you are and respect what you are not

Most people are obsessed with categorising; male, female, black, white, Christian, Muslim, etc etc. These categories do exist for a reason, but unfortunately most people tend to resent what they are and long for what they are not. One of the ways this manifests that I witnessed recently on my travels is the tendancy for darker skinned peoples to bleach their skin and lighter skinned folk to tan their skin. Appreciate and feel pride for what and who you are. Do not covet what someone else has or is, because you are beautiful exactly because you are different to them. It is the differences, not the similarities that set you apart and make you unique. If you’re fair skinned, you were made that way for a reason. Ditto to the dark skinned! This is applicable in all areas; women have great strengths and men have great strengths. Do not feel envy for what you aren’t. Feel pride and gratitude for what you are.

18. Find a role model and be a role model

People underestimate how important it is to have someone to look up and something to aspire to. Seek out the right role models, and when you have gained or succeeded in any way, be a role model to anyone lost or confused behind you.

19. See the world

You don’t need to travel for ten years but see places and know people. In this way, you can break lose from the shackles of culture, customs, religion and society and figure out who you are and what you believe in through your own preferences. Learn how others perceive love and dating (the Thai sniff kiss is to die for!), gender roles, perceptions of the world, cuisine and food, the concept of time and entertainment. Allow the world to enhance you.

20. DO IT, DO IT, DO IT

All you have is now. DO IT

21. Treat your body like a temple, not a dust bin

Bad food, bad drink, bad partners, bad habits, we all indulge in a little badness, but treat your body with the utmost respect whenever you can. Eat well, drink well, sleep well and exercise well. You have a lifetime in which to abuse or sustain your body, the only home you’ll ever truly have. Treat it with as much care as you can.

22. Feel pleasure

I don’t know why humanity loves demonizing pleasure. Pleasure energises, relaxes and enlivens. Do not be ashamed to feel pleasure.