Thursday, 26 June 2014

Niagara Falls

Seeing Niagara Falls was just the icing on the cake! It was a great way to end a busy week of travelling and I captured some of the best memories. I remember adding the falls to my visit list and it was one of few that I thought 'not sure I'll see that' because it isn't near to anything else I want to see. I am so glad that I get to tick it off and savour what I saw.

One of my best memories from visiting the falls was on our first night we actually stayed next to the falls before our onward travels. We could see glimpses of "Niagara Falls" from our hotel and Lotte and I made a concerted effort not to look at it. We knew we would be seeing it a week later and wanted to have the whoa factor then! It wasn't until we arrived back at the end of our week away that we realised we were averting our eyes away from the America Falls!!! - which by the way isn't a patch on what Niagara Falls has to offer!

I wish I could describe Niagara Falls but it is so difficult. It's just so powerful and very breath taking. There is a long promenade you walk along to get right near the mouth of it. You capture totally different views as you walk towards the start of it. I swear all Lotte and I said was 'how amazing' or 'it's crazy.' The best bit was the boat ride on the Hornblower! From wearing our sexy red plastic ponchos to seeing it in front of you was just the best. Once you get right up close you realise how powerful mother nature is! It was wet, windy and so loud. it was like being in the best storm! I have shown a few photos to friends and colleagues and I kept getting told 'it looks like a stormy day.' And it wasn't, in fact it was a lovely sunny day but due to the force of the water there is almost like a permanent rain cloud.

As for Niagara itself it is a little tacky! It's full of slot machines, arcades and nick knack shops which I'm not really in to but the falls itself I totally recommend!

Monday, 23 June 2014

New York - The Empire State

Our time in NYC was the most full on day. I had been to NYC in November 2011, it was great but it was cold and got dark early. The main thing I wanted to see this time was The Empire State building because it was closed due to high winds when I was last there. We arrived late afternoon and we were able to spend the evening in Times Square. It was, as expected, very busy! But we were able to wander around, go shopping, take photos and get something to eat (with cocktails). The best part of that evening was seeing the NYC skyline at night. It looks so different and definitely worth the photo opportunity. The following day was jam packed - it was the best! And the best bit? It was beautiful and sunny! Below is a video.

The highlights:

Empire State
As I said before I never got the chance to see this in my previous visit so I never felt like I could tick the city off my visit list. Now I definitely can! It was a long wait but the views were worth it. I think I prefer the view from the top of the Rockerfella centre because there's more space to move around.

Statue of Liberty
This was a must see and even though I visited before, Lotte had not. It was good to go back and the island has the best view of the NYC skyline!

9/11 memorial
This was a very touching highlight to our day. I think they have honoured the fallen very beautifully and I think it is so sad that this is the grave for many of the victims. There are two water features to represent the north and south tower, with everyones name inscribed. The memorial was under construction on my last trip so I am so pleased I could go see it this time. This is definitely worth the visit.

Central Park
On my last visit we took a horse and carriage ride around the park so I never actually got to walk in it. So I made a point of walking in it this time. I am so pleased we visited in summer because the park really comes to life in the warm weather!!! There were people running, having picnics, water fights and some just resting. It is SO beautiful and well kept. I can see why people say its their favourite part, because in the hustle and bustle of the city it's good to have a place to get away from it all.

So now I can safely say I have completed everything I have wanted to do in NYC. But I wouldn't hesitate to go visit again. It has so much to offer!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Washington DC & Philadelphia

I returned from my travels overseas nearly a month ago. I have had good intentions to blogging about my adventures but moving house, a bereavement and returning to work has kind of zapped my energy.

So last month I visited Canada and the US of A (again!) I had a great time and I loved everywhere we visited!!! Today I will talk about my trip to Washington DC and Philadelphia.

I have always been a bit of a history buff. I fell in love with the idea of visiting Washington when I learnt about MLK's march to Washington and his infamous 'I have a dream speech.' It was just THE BEST feeling the be stood where he stood at the Lincoln memorial.

We were blessed with beautiful weather and we didn't realise it was memorial day weekend, so it was super busy! There were veterans and their families everywhere but it was very moving to see them too. One of the things that struck me about DC was that it isn't very big compared to other capitals of the world. London is a lot bigger! In saying that size isn't everything as Washington DC certainly had a lot to show for itself. Below is a small video of the highlights.

The best bits:

The White House: It was much smaller than I expected it to be. On the TV it has this presence of being quite grand and overpowering. It really wasn't but it is a beautiful house. We learnt about where the oval office is, the family quarters and even where Mrs Robinson stays too. Obama was in Afghanistan so we didn't get to see him haha.

Abraham Lincoln memorial: OH WOW! This is one stunning salute to a president who tried to do so much for his country. It is huge and the view across to Capitol Hill was amazing!

Arlington National Cemetery: I don't think I have been to a more beautiful cemetery. I have visited a few in Europe but this was so much grander. As it was memorial weekend each grave had a flag to commemorate them. It was a shame we didn't get to see as much of the cemetery as we wanted due to timings. However, we did visit the Kennedy gravesite and see the eternal flame they have. What struck me about Arlington is that it is situated in a really busy area but it was so quiet. It was so peaceful.

The memorials: Washington DC do memorials justice!! The architecture, the effort and passion into all of them is so clear to see. I didn't get to take a photo but the Vietnam memorial was extremely moving. They were having a service and salute at the time I walked along the wall so it felt wrong to get my camera out. I made a habit of touching names engraved into the memorials to let them know in a way that I was there.

Philadelphia: We only had an afternoon in Philadelphia. Lotte and I really wanted to go shopping since we saw a Macy's haha! However, we did visit Jefferson's grave, the Liberty Bell and Independence hall. For those who don't know, Philadelphia was once the capital of America and it was where the declaration of independence was first read out.

If I had more time I would have visited the declaration of independence in the National Archives but the queue was 2 hours long! it would also have been cool to visit the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian area too. Maybe one day?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

See you soon

I know today would never be easy. If I am honest I haven't really grieved or cried since my Gran passed. I think mainly because I still know she is on this earth. Well her body is.

But after today she won't be and thats what hurts the most.

Today we say goodbye to my lovely Gran. In just over an hour we'll commit her body to be turned to ashes and we'll scatter her among a bed of roses in a few months.

I miss her terribly and today will be the last day I will walk into her house. I'll say goodbye to her belongings, her stack of newspapers, her garden roses and her smell. I miss her.

We may not have had the same faith but I do believe I will see her again. I do believe I will get to tell her things I achieve that she won't physically be here for. I do believe she is in a happier place, pain free and with my Grandad.

I miss her.

And I'll miss her everyday.

Gran, thank you for being my Gran. Thank you for being the only grandparent I got to grow up with. Thank you for coming to my graduation and thank you for all your help over the years. I was thinking last night about what I have got from you...and I think we same the logic on things, the same silly present ideas and I think the same smile.

I miss you and it has been a pleasure being your granddaughter. I'll always be your granddaughter, forever.

Rebecca x

Monday, 9 June 2014

Is being happy a curse?

I have been out of counselling for over a month now. I wouldn't say I miss it as such but I do miss the anonymity of it. As having the chance to be totally frank with someone who has the skills to listen was very organic and quite liberating.

However, over the last month I have been thinking a lot about how difficult it is to actually be happy or to stay unhappy for that matter. I have always been a person who tries to stay upbeat, smile through the unfunny jokes or if I am with a group of people I try to be cheery and be really positive to other peoples stories. I'll never forget a time when I was a teenager, I was at a friends bbq, and he said how 'awesomely happy' he was at the party going so well. I remember thinking 'how an earth can you be awesomely happy?'

As much as I like trying to be a happy go lucky sort of person there is another part of me that always make me wonder. What happens on those days we aren't awesomely happy? or just don't want to smile and be upbeat? Why can't we just feel what we want to feel?

One of the things I have struggled with since realising I have depression is to not feel guilty of my less than happy days or angry at myself for feeling annoyed. Since people know me for being quite loud, chatty and positive I guess it can be a real downer for them when they see I am not. So I feel guilty for feeling a little lower or when I have snapped and didn't mean to (but I really did if that makes sense.) It's like you're hit with double emotions! I feel annoyed anyway but then I am an angry at being annoyed - argh! It's very confusing.

The one thing I do know is it takes a lot of energy. I find when I have low days it's because I have had a really social day of trying to feel positive around other people's energy. Don't get me wrong, I do not feel like this all of the time but there have been certain moments this has happened. It starts to become unmanageable and then that's when the negative thinking and anxiety plays up.

It's times like this I wish I still had counselling to talk through it and even though I could back I really want to get over this stumbling block on my own. One of the biggest things in counselling is learning to be aware of what our minds do and the tricks it plays. As once you are aware of something you work out why it is happening and try to piece the puzzle. So over the last month I have become aware of myself and the emotions I portray and I have learnt one thing.

Just go with your emotions.

Sometimes instead of masking how you're feeling, we just need to go with it. A few weeks ago I had a terribly low day. I just felt sad and very despondent. I remember my mum telling me to read a book to take my mind off my feeling of emptiness and I even considered going out to see friends to distract me. But in truth I could not be bothered. I just pottered around the house feeling miserable and finding it an effort to smile. I cried a few times and sighed at memories that popped into my head. But you know something? There was something quite comforting in just being able to walk through that emotion instead of trying to hide it. There was no extra energy involved and I had the freedom to just feel how I wanted to feel that day. I woke up the next day and felt a bit better. Yet I knew if I had tried to cover up my mood I would have probably woken up really tired and worn out.

I have found that by being able to connect with how I am feeling I am finding that my not so good emotions are more permissible. As lets face it - we can't all have an awesomely happy day everyday! But for years and years I swore on my life people really did compared to me.

So no being happy is only a curse if we fake it. This was an 'awesomely happy' day for me. I visited Niagara Falls and I didn't have to break out into song, impress anyone with a joke or have the funniest story in the group. I saw something out of this world and couldn't help but smile at the awesomeness of it.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Nothing but an angel

So much has been happening around here lately that my head really is in a spin. I went on holiday (pictures will come soon) and I moved house (I'll do a video on that!). However, this post also comes with a heavy heart amidst the excitement of sharing holiday memories and house buying.

My wonderful Gran - Dorothy - left this world on the 30th May at the age of 83. She had not been well for a few months since contracting pneumonia. She just struggled to get back to how she originally was and slowly deteriorated. Before I went away I said my 'goodbyes' as I really did not think she would make it. But she defied all odds and she did. I was able to tell her all about Canada/USA and that when she was home I would show her the photos. Sadly that evening she went into a coma and we got 'the call' we had all been dreading.

I'll never forget that night of the 29th May 2014. It would have been her and my Grandad's 60th wedding anniversary. As I held her hand to warm it up (she always felt the cold so easily) I just remember thinking 'it's okay to go. Go celebrate with him, please.' I hate to see people suffering and decided there and then this was my goodbye. I wanted to remember her comfortably and with the memory of holding her hands. At 0130 that morning I said goodbye and she slipped away exactly 12 hours later with my mum and aunties by her side.

I miss her.

I have no grandparents left and she is the only one I have only ever grown up with. So amongst all the paintbrushes and uploading of holiday pictures my heart feels very sad. I really detest grief. As much as it is good to cry and to talk, it just hits you at the most awkward times. Just the other day I saw her handwriting in a card and I couldn't help but think 'I'll never get a card from her again.' It's always the little things you miss.

I could write about her for days. But I will share with you that she was wonderful. I hate writing about her in past tense as without her existing I wouldn't even be here. She was a great person and the world doesn't feel right without her in it somehow. I am so unbelievably lucky to have had her apart of my life for 25 years. It's being without her that I'll never get used to.

14/09/1930 - 30/05/2014
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