The Pink Button Tree

The Pink Button Tree: August 2014

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Taking a summer break and refreshing my goals

It's that time of year when a summer break away is on the cards. Taking a well deserved break has brought me a new focus, a fresh outlook, a new enthusiasm and revitalised my energy banks. A few weeks ago Mr C and I took a week-long trip away with friends to escape and recharge. I used the time to relax and came back with refreshed goals and a new focus on my plans.

On a Friday afternoon, I set my out of office message on my work email, added a few final things to my suitcase, and Mr C and I excitedly drove to the airport. We parked up and within about an hour my body relaxed for the first time in months. We decided to have a different summer holiday this year, one that meant escaping. We headed away with some of our great friends to a stunning villa in the mountains of southern Spain. We stayed in a remote location with fabulous views, it was perfect and just what we needed after a particularly challenging year.

We quickly adjusted our routines and felt the benefit of being somewhere so remote. Quality time was spent with our friends, we read our books, slept lots, relaxed in the sunshine, swam frequently each day in the pool and ate incredible home made food. Mr C particularly enjoyed reading a few cook books and whipping up lots of yummy tapas and cocktails throughout the week, and we all loved it too! What I loved was the feeling of switching off from work, from the internet, and from things going on at home.

I spent lots of time during the week admiring the incredible view (the one in the photo above) and finally felt I had the head space to really process the past few challenging months. I can't tell you how much I loved changing my routine, stopping and not rushing around. I made a real promise to myself to ensure I took time out for me on the holiday and I certainly achieved that. I embraced the simplicity of the day and let my mind wander. I managed to tap into some of my passions while we were away, I took photos, read a few magazines, learnt new things from books and wrote in my journal.

During the latter part of the week my brain went into planning mode, I let it as it was creative planning and not work related! Whilst sitting on a sun bed and looking at the view, listening to great music and inspiring podcasts, my mind wandered. I started thinking about the year so far, processing and thinking through what has been, and also thinking about how I wanted to shape and fill the rest of 2014. I took a piece of paper and started to note down thoughts as they came into my head.

I'm a list maker, a goal setter and enjoy making time to reflect. I've written before about my new year reflections and my word for the year...but this time it was different. Great plans and ideas were flowing and they had a real clarity to them. Many of the ideas I had already kick started but I was able to think through the ideas and refine them to help me push closer to what I'm hoping to achieve this year. The list that I made fell into two areas, my blog (goals and ambitions) and my life (personal development and lifestyle).

Looking at these lists today, a few weeks on from the holiday, I can see how really valuable taking the time to stop has actually been. I don't think that I would have made such progress with my ideas and they would have had such clarity to them if I didn't have time to really stop, switch off and allow my brain to wander. Stepping away from the hustle and bustle of morning routines, an exceedingly busy and challenging job, my commute, and day to day distractions, has made a huge difference.

I felt compelled to share my experience with you and I thought it may be good to write down a few takeaways from my week away...

Firstly, taking a holiday and going somewhere with no distractions can be a huge benefit. Mr C and I tend to take city breaks and are keen to find a place to stay with free wifi and pack the time away with lots of sightseeing, but actually not having these things on the agenda really allowed us to stop and disconnect. I think Mr C and I will now try and build in more relaxing holidays to ensure we get the benefit of just stopping.

Secondly, I came away from having a week away feeling refreshed and ready to add a new gusto to my goals. Making a promise to myself to relax and make time for my thoughts allowed me to process thoughts in a more productive manner and with much more clarity than I could've done. I was able to see how much I've embraced the year and how I'm planning to embrace the next few months ahead.

Finally, on returning from the holiday I made sure that I wrote up my ideas in a notebook. The notebook lives on my desk in my craft studio, I've found that I am regularly turning to these plans to give me an push of enthusiasm if I'm not feeling it after a busy day.

I hope that this summer you are able to take a trip away or take some time out for yourself to feel the benefit of switching off, escaping from the normal routine and gaining a new and enthused focus on your own goals.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

My simple pleasure...watching hot air balloons

Watching hot air balloons float through the sky is one of my favourite simple pleasures. When I was young we would regularly see hot air balloons flying overhead and watch them land in our local school playing field. The excitement and pleasure of watching hot air balloons glide across the sky has stayed with me for life. Living in Bristol and being close to Ashton Court, a local launch site for hot air balloons, means that I regularly get to enjoy the sight of colourful balloons floating by, sometimes drifting along unknown until you hear the roar of the burner above you.

This weekend is the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta where over 100 balloons take to the sky in a mass ascent each morning and evening (weather permitting!), filling the sky above Bristol with hot air balloons of all shapes, colours and sizes. Five years ago at the Balloon Fiesta Mr C and I took a balloon flight. It was a birthday present and an amazing experience that I had always dreamed of doing. Ever since then the sight of a hot air balloon still takes me back to my childhood love of balloons and the day I went in one.

Taking a moment to stop what I'm doing and watch a hot air balloon drift by is a lifelong love and one of my simple pleasures.