Pay it Forward

As I mentioned in my last post, New Years Resolutions are difficult to stick to. One great way to motivate yourself is to pay it forward.

I first became aware of the Pay It Forward movement when I read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book of the same name. The basic idea of Pay It Forward is for one person to help 3 others. Instead of those people simply returning the favour, they pay it forward to 3 other people and so on.

Last year, for the first time, I made a conscious effort to pay forward my challenge to visit at least one new place and try at least one new activity every year. For Jubilee weekend, coincidentally also my birthday not that most of the nation noticed, I introduced two of my friends to Whitesands, one of my favourite places in the UK. I also took my friend Geri and my godson climbing for the first time.

Sunset at White Sands

Not quite as intentional, but something I am still proud of, is that I encouraged at least two people to make changes in their diet towards becoming more plant-based.

I hope to continue paying it forward in 2013. If you’re already struggling to stick to your resolutions, make the commitment to pay it forward to someone else by the end of the year. If you hold the responsibility to make a change in someone else’s life, you’re more likely to stick to it.

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Looking forward to 2013

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2013 brings adventure and happiness for all of you.

As you know, I don’t like to make New Year Resolutions. I think they put too much pressure on people to completely change their lives every January 1st, and they have little hope of becoming long-term lifestyle changes. Instead, I set myself a challenge a few years ago to visit at least one new place every year, and to try at least one new activity. Yesterday, I looked back at my highlights of 2012, so today I thought I’d look forward to 2013.

Although I’m not planning any big trips for 2013, I still intend to visit at least one new place. I’m planning lots of smaller trips, like long weekends around the UK. I’ve also been looking at the possiblilty of catching the Mega Bus from Cardiff to somewhere in Europe. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

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I’m also hoping to revisit some of my favourite places like Whitesands, West Wales (above). Maybe whilst I’m there I’ll be able to add surfing to my list of new activities at long last. I’ve wanted to try surfing for ages, but I was hoping to get more practice on my body board first. That, combined with the awful weather we had in the UK last summer and having to look after a seven year old meant that I couldn’t get in the water and give surfing a go.

I’m adding a new aspect to my challenge this year as well – I want to take part in more local, community activities. You know I love all things local, and I live in a fantastic community of people, a rare occurrence when you live so close to a city centre. I’ve dabbled in local events in the past, but I’m terrible for making up excuses as to why I can’t do more. If I make it part of my challenge then I’ll make myself get involved, and I know I’ll end up having lots of fun. I’ve already got a few ideas up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you.

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Just over a year ago I made the commitment to live a more plant-based lifestyle. This year I hope to continue that journey and move closer to living completely plant-based. Oil and sugar are my biggest vices at the moment. Although I’ve stopped cooking with oil at home, I still buy products that contain oil and I want that to change. It’s virtually impossible to cut out oil when I’m out and about, but I’m hoping that making the change at home will have a difference. Cutting out sugar is theoretically a lot easier, but I have a really sweet tooth so for me it’s going to be a bit tougher. I’ll do my best, though. While we’re on the subject of food, I also want to educate myself further about my allergies and do my bit to support producers that cater to both plant-based vegetarians and allergy sufferers.

As always, I’d love to hear about your adventures in 2013. I’m going to head out now because the sun has actually made an appearance in South Wales! I was starting to think the rain would never stop!

Looking back at 2012

It’s so easy for people to get emotional and sentimental at this time of year, and I’m genuinely not usually one of them, but 2012 has honestly marked a big change in my life. I try not to put too much pressure on myself at this time of year, as I find that a lot of people expect themselves to completely change their habits and routines on January 1st. My approach to life is more like ‘one step at a time’, and I’ve learnt to not beat myself up if I don’t meet my own expectations. The important thing is that I keep trying, and I keep taking those steps forward. However, I do think it’s important to look back sometimes and evaluate what has gone well and what is best left to experience. So I’d like to share with you my ‘highlights’ of 2012. I used to work for a well-known English/German tour operator that was all about ‘highlights’. As a rep, I encouraged my guests to discover the highlight of their hoiliday, whether that be a great excursion they went on, the perfect sunset over the beach or the barman that served them in the hotel. The example I always used was when I was in the audience for the Ricki Lake Show in New York. I’d been travelling around North East America for a month after working in Brant Lake, NY for the summer, and my travelling partner, Kate, and I were spending a few days in New York City before heading down to Philadelphia and Washington DC before we flew home. We saw a flyer pinned to the noticeboard in our hostel looking for people to join the audience, and we thought it sounded like a laugh. We had the best day, and even ten years on I still love telling people that I was in an episode of Ricki Lake.

I’d like to share with you my highlights of 2012. Here’s what I got up to…

Learning to Lead Climb

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This photo was taken when I was a teenager. My brother, a keen climber himself, decided to teach me to climb. What a disaster! I was scared of heights, didn’t trust my brother and, to be honest, I just wasn’t that interested. Fast forward twenty(ish) years, and I decided to give it another go. I’d always been annoyed with myself for not giving climbing my full effort. So, at 29 years old, I decided to give it another go. Three years on, I’m happy to say the perseverance worked. This year I learnt to lead climb, something I’ve wanted to do since I first got back on the wall three years ago.

Completing Cwrs Mynediad

Since I first moved to Wales 14 years ago (oh my gosh, has it really been that long!), it has been my dream to learn Welsh. The oldest language in Europe and one of the oldest in the world, Welsh is difficult to learn, especially when you’re English with a monotone Lancashire accent that doesn’t allow you to roll your r’s. Two years ago last September, I took the plunge and enrolled on Cwrs Mynediad (entry level Welsh for adults). I completed the two-year course in May 2012, and I am so proud of myself. I still study Welsh at home, and obviously I use it everyday to some extent because I live in Wales. I hope to go back to college in the near future to enrol on Silfaen (foundation) and continue my studies. Learning Welsh has not only opened up my world here in Wales (when I first moved here I had to carry a map with me on the bus because I couldn’t even pronounce the names of local towns and villages), it had also introduced me to a whole new set of friends who are incredibly precious to me.

The birth of my niece

I never thought that I would be an aunty. The Church of England and the Church in Wales won’t allow me to be a godmother because I wasn’t baptised, and my brother was adamant that he was never going to have children. I’m happy to say that that has all changed. Although I’m not officially allowed to be a godmother, one of my best friends asked me to take on the responsibility for her two beautiful children. From the day that my godson was born, I made a commitment to him to love him, support him and guide him throughout his life, no matter what the church says about me. The same applied to his sister when she arrived five years later. My brother, the one who was never going to settle down, surprised me by getting married and having children. The third one, my second niece, was born in September 2012. She’s already trying her best to keep up with her older brother and sister, and they want to keep her with them wherever they go. All our family keep trying to decide who she looks like most, but I just tell her that she’s her own person. Just like with all the other children that I am ‘aunty’ to, I’m sure that we are going to have lots of great adventures together.

Having fun with my friends

It might seem quite boring to a lot of people that one of my highlights is spending time with my friends, but I’m always grateful for this time. For six years I worked seasons overseas. During that time I made many great friends, and had crazy and exciting adventures, but I always missed out on what was happening at home. When I moved back to the UK four years ago, one of my ambitions was to catch up with my friends and do the ‘normal’ things that I’d missed out on. Here’s some of the adventures we got up to this year…

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I had a great weekend with my friend Charlie (mother of my two beautiful godchildren) in Brighton – veggie heaven!

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We celebrated my friend Cath’s 30th birthday camping in Port Eynon, the Gower.

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My friends from my Welsh course, and my godson, came together to celebrate my brithday with a camping weekend in White Sands.

Finishing my book and sending it to agents

Since I was a child, it has been one of my dreams to be a published writer. At the start of this year, I set myself the challenge to complete a writing project and send it off to prospective agents. The novel I chose isn’t exactly revolutionary, but I finsihed it and I’ve sent it. No bites yets, but I will keep trying in 2013. Wish me luck.

My new places for 2012

My blog is all about the new places I visit. This year my biggest adventure was to Pisa. Although alot of the people around me struggle to understand why I travel alone, I had a great time.

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New Activities for 2012

The other thing that my blog is all about is new activities. The one that has caught my enthusiasm most this year is Step Class. In all honesty, I thought this was an aerobics class that had died with the 80s, but I’m happy to say it is still here and still very much current. If you want to feel a positive difference in your body overnight, check out your local step class and give it all you’ve got.

Becoming Plant-based

I started my plant-based journey in November 2011, and I am genuinely shocked at where I am now. Before I watched the Planeat movie, I was happy in my beliefs as a vegetarian. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to give up dairy. After watching the movie, my beliefs completely changed. Although I still couldn’t imagine myself being completely plant-based, I committed myself to making steps in that direction. Twelves months on, I have completely given up animal protein and the decisions I make in my everyday life are a lot more ethical. My choice to live a plant-based lifestyle is still something that I have to debate on almost a daily basis. Ironically, two decades ago I went through the same battle when I told everyone that I was vegetarian, and that is considered ‘normal’ nowadays. Ironically, the people who argue with me about my choice to live plant-based are usually the ones that comment on how good I look now. I’m happy to listen to both sides of the argument, but all I can say is that since I started living plant-based and I had an allergy test I feel better than I have ever done in my life, I’m fitter than I have ever been, my focus and concentration are a lot better, my mood swings have all but disappeared (I’ve suffered from depression in the past and shown signs of being on the autism spectrum although have never been diagnosed), and everyone has commented on how much healthier I seem.

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Making a difference

There was a daily prompt from WordPress a while back that asked us what difference we hoped to make with our blog. I answered that if I could help one person to make just one small step to living a plant-based, more ethical lifestlye, then my blog would be worth it. The proof of my efforts came from a source much closer than I was expecting. I was born in 1980, and I know that I was born with allergies. No matter what my parents did, not matter what my mother did during pregnancy, I was always destined to have a poor immune system. With the knowledge I have now, I know I should have been given an allergy test when I was a baby. Unfortunately, I grew up in the 80s when everyone listened to their western GP with no question. My mum was always adamant that my allergic reactions were ‘psychological’, or I was just pretending to get attention. When my parents saw me this summer, they both admitted that I looked healthier. On Christmas Day, they phoned me to wish me happy Christmas. My mum commented on the fact that I am the only person she knows that hasn’t caught the sickness bug that went round the UK this winter, and that maybe that is due to my healthy eating. She also told me that, due to my influence, she has switched from cows’ milk to soya milk and she feels much better for it. I never thought that one of my first followers would me my mum, but if she has faith in my beliefs then I know I can convince others.

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Improving my blog

One of my biggest changes this year, and probably the most important to everyone reading this, is that I switched my blog to WordPress. It meant that I had to change my on-line identity, but that led to me opening up more about myself which I am glad of. I have come into contact with so many inspirational people since I joined WordPress, and I want to thank every single one of you for opening up my mind and sharing your lives and experiences with me.

It’s been an awesome year, and I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. I’ve already got some ideas up my sleeve that I can’t wait to share with you. I’m looking forward to hearing about all your adventures. Your blogs are what create my dreams. Happy New Year everyone! Sasie x

Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the flow

Bowling 301212This period between Christmas and New Year is always a bit wierd, ‘Chrimbo Limbo’ as Dev from BBC Radio One calls it. The excitement and build-up to Christmas is over, and everyone is waiting for the New Year to start. I’ve been back and forth to work between the Bank Holidays, so I’m not even sure what day of the week it is anymore!

In a bid to readdress the balance a bit, I decided to go with the flow this weekend. An old school friend of mine invited me to stay at her house in Bristol on Friday night. She’d been planning a girls’ night with all of her friends, but unfortunately everyone else came down with the horrible sickness bug that’s been going round so it ended up being just the two of us. It was great to catch up with her, though, and we are determined to plan another night in the New Year.

On Saturday night my godson came to stay with me. I love to plan different activities for us to do together, and I encourage him to try new things, but we always discuss what we’re going to do and compramise with each other. This weekend we decided we would eat dinner at home (joint decision), go bowling (his choice), and then this morning we baked brownies and went out for lunch (both my ideas). Although the baking led to me having a very messy kitchen (I’m sure I’m going to be discovering flour and cocoa powder for weeks to come), we had a lovely time together. I managed to win both games of bowling (just), but I think I’m going to have to watch out in the future. As soon as my godson grows a bit stronger and is able to bowl the ball a bit faster, I’m sure he’ll be wiping the floor with me 🙂

Daily Prompt: Be the Change

Sasieology is all about taking small steps and making small changes to enrich your life.

If my blog has inspired just one person to take a step towards a plant-based lifestyle…

…to try a new activity…

…or to visit one new place…

then it has all been worth it 🙂

Daily Prompt

I’d thought I’d have a go at the daily prompt.

Pick a random word and do Google image search on it. Check out the eleventh picture it brings up. Write about whatever that image brings to mind.

The most scientific way I could think of to pick a random word was to close my eyes, open my English dictionary at random and point to a word. The word I picked is quadrilatiral. Quadrilatiral means four-sided.

Click here to see the image I found.

This image reminds me of maths class at school, and an art project I did when I was about ten years old. We had to make a pattern out of tessellated shapes and paint it.

Italian Street Art

During my recent trip to Italy, one thing I noticed in abundance everywhere I went was the amount of really good street art. It was painted on the walls of subways, train stations, on the sides of the trains themselves, on temporary walls to hide building sites. Basically, anywhere that there was space that wasn’t already being used.

I know a lot of people just see street art as vandalism, but my personal opinion is that, when it’s done properly, it’s beautiful. Here are some photos I took whilst wandering around Italy.

I also really like the design of this building – I assume it’s supposed to echo the Leaning Tower of Pisa that is just a couple of miles away

Sasieology has a new look

Life for me is very busy at the moment. When I do get a spare minute, I’ve been trying to spend some time on WordPress working on my blog. Over the coming weeks you’ll see some changes to Sasieology, hopefully for the better. I apologise for any mistakes, I’m learning as I go. Let me know what you think of the changes.

Me, all in one place

I’ve decided to simplify my life. Well, my online life at least.

For the past year, I have been writing two blogs under the pseudonym ‘the travel bug’. http://thetravelbug.blog.co.uk/ has documented my mission to travel to new places and try new activities, and http://freerangecarrots.blogspot.co.uk/ followed my quest to lead a plant-based, more environmentally-aware lifestyle. Splitting my writing between two blogs has become confusing, and time consuming, especially with the painfully slow internet connection that I get on my tired, old laptop here in South Wales. Quite often, the topics I was writing about on one blog would blur with those on the other, so it seemed logical to bring the two together. Whilst planning my new blog, I realised that merging the two old ones created a profile of my life. Using the name ‘the travel bug’ seemed redundant when I could just be me.

Since I started blogging, I have enjoyed reading other writers’ blogs. They have educated me, entertained me and inspired me. Most of the blogs I have read have been right here on WordPress, so it was the obvious home for Sasieology.

Anyone who has read my other blogs will know that technology is not my strong point, and I am not great at navigating web pages. Therefore, I ask for your patience until I get Sasieology to where I want it to be. As we say here in Wales ‘Dyfal donc i dyr y garreg’ (It’s a steady tapping that breaks the stone). Or, in other words, I’ll get there in the end.