I have collected love stories for as long as I can remember. Everyone you meet has a fresh tale to tell.

Only one thing I have found to be certain, there is no such thing as the perfect relationship. Why? It’s simple, we are all fallible.

There are those who make it look easy, and sometimes it is. But, there are always moments of uncertainty. The perfect house, the perfect car, beautiful children, nothing is ever as perfect as it looks. And nor could it be.

There are those who are trapped, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again. Often out of fear, they spend precious moments fooling themselves.

I am not enough. This must be normal. We only argue because we’re so passionate. He does really love me, despite the way he treats me. I won’t ever find anyone else. I am scared to be alone.

Sound familiar? We all know such stories. Maybe we are one.

So, how do you know you are with the right person?

Passion surely can’t be sustainable without real substance behind it. With so much emphasis on “true love”, “soul mates” and “The One”, it is no wonder so many of us hold on to unrealistic expectations which blind us from what we actually have. Complicated, isn’t it.

I have made too many mistakes to tell. Always out of fear. Rejection and lack of self worth have dragged me down to the depths of doom. My graveyard of fuck ups is full to bursting.

I have been so desperate to avoid mistakes I have only gone on to make new ones. I have drooled over social media, idolising those with seemingly perfect lives. I have failed in so many ways that it made it almost impossible to see the truth.

Love is the person who believes in you no matter what. It’s in the blink of eyes that says more than any words could. It puts a bucket in front of you when you are sick, and a smile on your face with the worst jokes.

Love isn’t always obvious. Sometimes it creeps up on you in unexpected ways. It makes you realise how much more you have to learn. That you are selfish, and shallow at times, but it still holds you when you are at your worst.

Love is the glimmer in the darkest moments. The missing piece of you. It is not materialistic. It is compromise and communication. It is facing your fears together. It dwindles and it reignites. It is the connection you have been longing for. It is everyday life at its most mundane and the moments you will always treasure.

Love is different for us all.

What is it to you?


An Education

Expect the unexpected, isn’t that what they say?

Before I left to come travelling I was at breaking point. Work had worn me down more than ever before. I had kept myself so busy with the routine of life I had lost perspective on what was really important. I buried my head in the sand in order not to face certain truths.



Sometimes we outgrow our goals and misplace our priorities, it’s just not so easy to see it until you step back. Sometimes we realise only too late.

I wanted the cliché. To come away and find myself. I was mistaken. I didn’t need to find what was right in front of me, I just needed the mirrors that this time away has put before me.image

I have seen so many incredible things so far on this trip, too many to put into words. Everyday I have been reminded how fucking big and beautiful this world is. The one consistent thing is people. Everywhere we go they all have phones, even up in the highest mountains. From the biggest chauvinist pig (ever) to the kindest couple filled with excitement for the arrival of their first child, and everyone in betweeimagen. People are all the same wherever you go. Amazing.

It makes you appreciate those around you that much more. Past, present and future.

I thought I was really strong but now I realise I was just faking. No one is as strong as I have been perceived. The truth is we do our best, sometimes we get it wrong. The important thing is to accept the consequences of our actions, and as a wise and beautiful friend keeps reminding me, ask yourself this:

What have I learnt from this? What has it taught me?

The lessons I have learnt so far have been:

Life is an experience, and the experience is a lesson. What we take away from it is up to us.
I didn’t need to come half way around the world for an adventure, I am living it everyday.
I have made decisions for the wrong reasons.image
I really did break my own heart.
I needed time and space to reassess my goals and priorities.
Sometimes you’re so desperate for a wee you can go behind a bus, in the middle of the motorway, piss on yourself and not care. Degrading? Yes.
You can give the perception that all is well when the reality is the exact opposite.
Work should never consume you as much as it has me.
When you have had a really shit 24 hours the most basic of rooms is a palace.
The kindness of strangers will never cease to amaze me.
Real gratitude rocks you to the core.
Authenticity isn’t always easy. We often forget who we are, don’t accept who we are, and neglect to be true to who we are.

May tomorrow teach me more, yesterday always stay with me, and today… Today I will just take as it comes.


Come What May

This month Magpies and Ladders celebrates its first birthday. Had someone told me just a few years ago that I would have a successful blog, which thousands of you have visited in the first year, I would never have believed you. I am truly grateful for all the support I have received, it has taken my breath away.

When I started writing this time last year I had no idea what I was doing. Having successfully navigated through the technical challenges I held my breath and wrote about the first thing that came up. I had no idea where it would lead I just knew I had to go for it. Isn’t that what life is all about, letting go and taking a leap of faith. Surely doing something is better than doing nothing at all.

We quote inspiring statements, secretly dreaming of the things we wish we could do and the lives we want to live. We so often make excuses. There’s no time. No money. It’s too scary. But, what are we really waiting for? Circumstances will always conspire against us in one way or another. Maybe there is never enough time or money. However, if we really believe that then do we not become victims of our own making?

Life really is what we make it. I see it everyday. Incredible people are not just chasing their dreams but living them. Why can’t you too? Things don’t necessarily turn out how we expect and life frequently changes its path for us all. Imagine for a second that you were living everyday doing what makes you happy. Nice, huh? What can you do today to start to make that happen? Imagine all the barriers melting away along with your fears. You can do anything you want.

Seven years ago I planned a trip to South East Asia. I had everything mapped out. It never happened. Life changed direction. I was still ill. It was not my time. Today I am flying out to Vietnam to spend a month travelling with a best friend throughout the country and Cambodia. It really is a dream come true. I never let go. I knew that seven years ago was not the right time but that I would get there one day. Now is my time.

Through the extreme highs and devastating lows of my life I have never given up on my dreams. From a First Class Honours degree to a job I love, and from seeing the world to a happy home. And, here I am today writing this and preparing for a new adventure. I am adamant that it is my belief in life being what we make it that has got me here today. I believe that all of us can live the lives we dream of.

Come what may, your life is the life you choose. Enjoy it!



Let’s talk… Stop Fighting Food with Isabel Foxen Duke

I have always had an unhealthy relationship with food. Binge eating and bulimia plagued me throughout my teens and later in life. Slimming pills. Fasting. Weight Watchers. Lighter Life. You name it, I have tried it. I received treatment for an eating disorder in my early twenties. Whenever my mental state spiralled bad habits would creep back.

While I have been okay for a while now, I still struggle at times. Emotional Eating is not my friend. Feeling down, hello ice-cream! Feeling good, a reward of pizza. I am shit at planning my meals. Logically I know what I should be eating, when I should be eating and how I should be eating. Reality tells a different story.

Last week I was introduced to Stop Fighting Food with the gorgeous and inspiring Isabel Foxen Duke. I watched her first video immediately. Everything she said resonated with me. I for one can not take being held hostage by the food crazies any more! Let me ask you this…


Meet Isabel Foxen Duke.

How has your own personal journey influenced your work?

My work has been almost entirely influenced by my personal journey, in addition to the personal journeys of my clients. I struggled with food — both “undereating,” “overeating,” and all the mental tyranny that goes with those things for many years, before finding my way out. While I’ve learned from many, many teachers over the years, I do not share information that has not made a personal difference in my life and my relationship with food — I feel it would be dishonest to do so.

How does your work help others?

I give women a way out of the crazy. The degree to which women are ruled by food (again, both undereating and overeating, and constantly trying to “manage” food) is totally epidemic. Most people don’t realize how debilitating it really is for the average woman. The “food noise” in the US and increasingly around the world is completely overwhelming, and overwhelm doesn’t help anyone make healthful choices around food. In fact it does the opposite – it keeps most women in a constant swing back and forth between under and over-eating.verticalskinny_2

‘Stop Fighting Food’, what’s it all about?

Stop Fighting Food is a free video training series that I developed to give women concrete skills and ideas that can help them break out of this “diet-binge cycle” or simply the “feeling-crazy-around-food cycle,” which can exist in a lot of forms and encompasses much more than simply eating too much or too little. Stop Fighting Food offers a new way of thinking about food, which ultimately increases a woman’s chances of actually making healthy choices (rather than simply “knowing what they are” but feeling incapable of “sticking to them”), and gives women very concrete steps to end all the mental clutter around food that really can drive us totally mad. Stop Fighting Food is about women finally making peace with food, rather than trying to fight it constantly…and ultimately lose every battle.

Tell us about your Master Class?

My Master Class is a more advanced level group coaching program for those who are committed to mastering the principles of Stop Fighting Food. You’ll have to sign up for the free video training series here if you want more information about that :)

What are your thoughts on conventional diets?

My thoughts are that they’re unsustainable at best, they generally teach us to ignore our body’s hunger signals which can cause a lot of mental and physical health problems for women in the long and short-term, and they almost always lead to binge-eating eventually.

And, the food fear of social situations?

It’s unfortunate that women feel so constrained by their relationship with food that they can’t fully enjoy their life and the blessings in it. Everyone should be able to enjoy holidays, birthdays, and going out with friends without constant stress and worry about what they can or can not eat there. Those are the moments that make life worth living! Let’s not spend one more day missing those joys, because we don’t trust ourselves not to inhale the buffet.

What is your key message?

I want women to realize that obsessing about food in order to achieve a big happy life isn’t getting them anywhere – it’s not moving them towards freedom, happiness, successful relationships, and ultimately, it’s not necessarily making them thin either. Diet mentality only creates volatility with food, not sustainable “control.” If we want to be able to make healthful choices sustainably, we’re going to have to start thinking about food differently — rather than continue to do the same things over and over again expecting different results.

What does Holistic living mean to you?

Holistic living is about living a life that is full, and rich and enjoyable whilst also honoring your body. Neither your mind nor your body should rule over the other with an iron fist. They are partners, and our choices should honor the needs of each, or both will be negatively affected.

What is your message to cynics, sceptics, and the intrigued?

Notice where your bias lies. Most people hold steadfastly to diets even though they know diets have never worked for more than 98% of the population for any sustainable period of time. It’s pretty-widely accepted in the medical community that diets lead to binge-eating, yet doctors and nutritionists will still prescribe diets as “treatment” for obesity. Why is this? We live in an aggressive diet-culture, largely influenced by commerce, that bombards us with opposite messages all day long. It’s incredibly difficult for all of us to extricate ourselves from cultural bias, even in the face of facts.

For more information about my philosophy and how I help women “end the crazy” around food, I highly recommend checking out my free video training series here.


A Path of White Feathers ~ Spirituality and Mental Health

For a month or so now I have been walking a path of white feathers. Okay, so, signs and synchronicities may not be your bag but sometimes, even for the most sceptical amongst us, what is right in front of us is hard to ignore.

Destiny. Twin Flames. Angels. Karma. Deja vu. Are you a believer, or is it all complete poppycock? Does it actually matter if it is all just nonsense derived from Greek theory, mysticism, spiritual musings and man’s desire for Something More.32 feather 3

Maybe, like Carl Jung, you believe that we are all responsible for our own synchronicities, that we manifest through our subconscious. I have no idea. What I do know is that everywhere I go at present, rural and urban, feathers fall at my feet. Subconscious or spiritual, it feels good.

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases. ~ Carl Jung

When you have suffered from a mental illness and have experienced psychosis you tend to become a little sceptical when it comes to certain things. Entering recovery it becomes an instant challenge to separate illness from who you are are and reality. Even over time I still question everything, more than once, especially during difficult periods when I am most vulnerable to relapsing.

As The Royal College of Psychiatrists acknowledges, we are becoming increasingly aware of ways in which aspects of spirituality can offer real benefits for mental health. Such as:

  • better self-control, self-esteem and confidence
  • faster and easier recovery (often through healthy grieving of losses and through recognising strengths)
  • better relationships – with self, others and with God/creation/nature
  • a new sense of meaning, hope and peace of mind. This has enabled people to accept and live with continuing problems or to make changes where possible.

32 feather 2Over recent years there has been increasing interest in treatments that include the spiritual dimension. In addition to established 12-step programmes for alcohol and substance misuse, new approaches such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression (MBCT), compassion-focussed therapy and forgiveness therapy are now being actively researched and supported.

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment. ~ Eckhart Tolle

Recently it has been tough. I am run down. I seem to have misplaced my clarity of thought. I had a particularly bad day not so long ago. As I walked though the rubbish ridden streets of town I suddenly started smiling to myself. Amongst the total shittiness of the day, in that moment, I felt safe, and totally and utterly convinced that everything would be okay. And, there it was, floating down and landing at my feet. The White Feather. It was the first of many to come, a gentle reminder that there is always protection, guidance, inspiration and healing there for us.

I believe. I believe I am protected and that the universe provides. In the darkest of times there is always light shining to reach you, you just need to be open to seeing it. Are you?32 feather 1

I am working on a lot right now. How to give without feeling completing drained. To stay present, no matter how chaotic and stressful life can be. To stop being so hard on myself. I make time for meditation and prayer. I have made an effort to go outside, to see the beauty of the world, especially at times when I have witnessed the worst of it. I have accepted I can’t do it all on my own so I have hired a coach. Everyday the feathers keep appearing. I think I have to agree with Gabrielle Bernstein:

The more I believe in divine guidance the more I experience miracles.

So, are you a believer, or is it all complete poppycock?

When all is said and done, don’t we all want to walk a path of white feathers.