Footprints In The Sand

‘Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts and we our never ever the same.’

A beautiful quote and one that resonates with so many of us. Many people come into our lives and many people go but how many of those people have inspired you? Leaving lasting footprints.

Working in one of the oldest and most Iconic restaurants in London, The Ivy as a Maître’d first impressions are everything. In fact, lasting impressions for the guests is everything. Over 100 years old, the restaurant is steeped in history and famous for the many celebrities that have crossed it doors. When you come to The Ivy you already have an expectation and it is our job to ensure those expectations are not only met but exceeded. We want you to leave with a lasting impression.

However, regardless of your status, job title or salary from the moment you enter The Ivy you are treated the same. You are special.

This can be the same for anything in life that we do and the people that we meet on our journey. How many people have you met that has made a lasting impression on you? These are the people you remember, who have helped you, inspired you, supported you and encouraged you.

I have met many people on my journey who I can honestly say have inspired me in so many ways and I will be eternally grateful to not only have met them but to still have them in my life. My mother and father, family, friends, and colleagues. My lecturer Luane who still to this day I admire and respect for her ability to inspire so many young adults, myself included. My kickboxing coach Sean, who pushed me relentlessly to achieve my goals. The list is endless…. but they all have impacted my life positively.

How did they touch me? With kindness, empathy, love, and guidance. Little things, that have great significance.

Treat everyone you meet as you would be treated in The Ivy, that they are special. Life is a journey and true fulfilment comes from what we give in life and not what we receive. First impressions are wonderful but lasting impressions are forever. Be mindful of the people you meet, some will stay for a while and some will quickly go, the ones who touch our souls transform us and our hearts will never be the same.

‘Be somebody who makes everybody feels like somebody.’

Leave beautiful footprints wherever you go.

The First Cut Is The Deepest

How do we deal with pain, everybody hurts?

Humans are extremely complex and no one the same, but that is what makes us unique and beautiful. Everyone is different so; we all deal with things differently.

For some, dealing with pain is very raw.

I recently had a young lady approach me to confide in me, let me call her Lucy. A confident, smart, beautiful, and kind young lady who as I thought was incredibly happy. However, Lucy was in pain. Deep pain that she was finding hard to deal with and the only way she knew how to cope with this pain was to self-harm. This may seem very distressing and hard to read but Lucy wanted to share her story to help others. A very brave thing to do.

Why self-harm? In Lucy’s own words she said it took away the pain she was feeling inside her head. That by doing it she had physical pain that distracted her own mind, her own thoughts.

Her words were very real and very raw.

There are many reasons why people self-harm, but the main reason is they are suffering inside.
Lucy showed me her arms where she has self-harmed. Young skin with deep razor scars of her pain. I was deeply saddened that she felt this was the only way to cope. She was so young and with a bright future ahead of her. I want her and others to see that there are other ways to cope and to heal the pain you are feeling inside.

I listened to her and then explained that I too have suffered great pain in my life, deep pain like her. We all do at some stage but there is always hope and a way out of the darkness. I have just learned to deal with it in a different way. Lucy can too with the right support and help.

Talk to someone you trust and confide in. They love you and will not judge you. A relative, a friend or even a work colleague. Sharing how you are feeling will help stop the build-up of self-doubt and help you to deal with the negative emotions and feelings. Reaching out is the first step to helping yourself. Do not ever feel like you are alone. People do care about you and you do matter.

Listen to music, anything that calms your thoughts or changes your mood from sad to happy. My playlist consists of nothing but happy beats. Surround yourself with good people who care about you and will support you too. They will help you to get stronger.

Go for a walk or exercise. When you are consumed in your own thoughts sometimes you cannot think straight. Step outside. The fresh air or exercise will help your mind and body. So many people I know who feel low, feel better after doing so.

Delay your thoughts for a moment, text a friend. Ring a relative to distract you from what you are thinking. This small delay could be all it takes to stop you from self-harming. If you feel you need extra help to cope, then there are other people who will support you too. A therapist to talk through your emotions or groups online such as Lifesigns.

Rome was not built in a day, but these tiny steps can help you towards your healing. Lucy, I want you and others to know that you are different, we are all different but that is what makes you unique. That is what makes you beautiful. You just need to love yourself a little bit more.

If Only Our Eyes Saw Souls

We do not meet people by chance, they come into our life for a reason. I honestly believe this to be the case when I met one of my best friends ‘Simon’.

Anyone who has started a new job will know how it feels the day before. Little nerves of anticipation but excitement at the same time. My new colleagues were lovely, so my nerves were unjustified and despite the restaurant being extremely busy they made time to interact and include me. They made me feel part of the team. This is how I met Simon and I will always be grateful of this day.

Simon and I hit it off instantly and is without a doubt one of the kindest souls I have ever met. He took me under his wing and looked out for me, he helped make my days a little brighter with his kindness. He took time to listen, help and guide me on things that were not familiar both in work and out. As our friendship blossomed, we discovered more things we had in common. His laugh is infectious and like me he laughs at his own jokes, having a good sense of humour helps when you work in hospitality and got us through some terribly busy shifts. I could just look at Simon and he would know what I was thinking.

We share similar tastes in music and talk frequently about what we like to listen to on our days off but what connected us mainly was our love for photography. We could talk about photography for ages. Simon is extremely modest, but I am going to say he is truly gifted. His art tells a story and one that captures the imagination. I feel not only blessed to have met him but to call him my friend, my best friend.

Now what if I told you that Simon was black? Would that make a difference?

Did you assume that he was white? Simon is Simon regardless of his skin colour, the same kind soul. The same person who looked out for me when I needed a friend. So why then should he be treated any different to me? Why can he not have the same opportunities that I do? To be treated equally like I do. Black lives do matter. Simon matters and he deserves to live a life of love, not hate.

“If only our eyes saw souls instead of our bodies how very different our ideals of beauty would be.”

What can I do to help? What can we do to help? These were the questions I asked myself when I witnessed so much hurt and pain to other human beings. To understand, to encourage, to support. Educate ourselves to do better, educate our children. Racism is wrong and no one should have to go through it. You would never treat your best friend or any friend in this way.

 

The New Norm

The “new norm” it is an expression that I have heard and used myself regarding our future but what does the new norm look like and feel like?

After 3 months of quarantine in Northern Ireland it was time for me to travel back to my home in London and return to my work in hospitality. I was excited to see my colleagues and go back to the hustle and bustle of city life.

My journey back to London was very surreal and it felt like I was in a movie. I arrived at the airport expecting long ques for check in and even longer ques at security, but this was not the case. There was hardly anyone there. In fact, it felt like the airport was not open. No ques at check in, no ques at security and nothing open inside. Just people waiting around wearing masks and looking nervous. Like many others who were travelling this was probably their first flight since lockdown and worried about the implications of doing so.

The flight was comfortable, and EasyJet adhered to social distancing, any concerns I had about flying were put at ease. I had a whole row to myself which instantly put my mind at rest. Everyone continued to wear their masks as instructed in the airport and out of respect for each other. It is a short flight of only an hour so wearing the mask was not an inconvenience for that time. My concern was how could EasyJet operate with half capacity on a plane of this size? Would this be reflected in the price that we the consumer would pay? Would travelling now become a luxury?

After arriving in London, I then had to take a train and tube journey to reach my home. Like many people I was a little nervous about using the underground. At this stage I had been wearing my mask now for almost 3 hours. The temperature in London was much hotter than Ireland and the underground even warmer. It did not feel like the City that I had left. No crowds, no squeezing to get in. Just myself and 3 others on the carriage. The temperature as usual was hot and if you have ever been to London you will know how hot the underground gets. Wearing a mask is uncomfortable and at times its difficult to breath. I do not have the luxury of getting an uber or a taxi so public transport is how I and many others will be travelling. What I did realise though was an elderly man sitting opposite me and he was wearing his mask also. How hard must that have been in that heat? But he chooses to wear it because it was the right thing to do. He was showing kindness towards others. A small gesture but a beautiful moment for humanity.

I returned to my work the following day and seeing my colleagues for the first time was heart-warming, when you work in hospitality your colleagues are not just your colleagues but your family. My instinct was to hug them, I had not seen them in 3 months, and it was the first thing I wanted to do. I am a hugger and have always been a hugger. I just find it a nice way to say hello. For me this was extremely hard, and I am sure so many others can relate and is something I find extremely difficult about the new norm. Physical contact for all over us is so precious.

Despite what is happening around the world businesses are working hard to ensure your safety, public transport, aeroplanes, restaurants, pubs, hotels, shops are all adapting so that we can all get back to normal. Employees are learning new systems, training and eager to welcome you back. What I do know, regardless of what the new norm looks like and how hard it may be, if we are patient, kind and respectful of others needs then just maybe we can achieve a beautiful future together.

Be Yourself

There is an old saying that you should ‘Never Judge a book by its Cover’ and it is a saying that I am very found of. You truly never know what someone is going through in their life despite how they may act or seem. I have always been a confident lady, outgoing, bubbly and try to be positive. Working in hospitality you meet and interact with so many people daily that conversation and relationships become your way of life. No one would have ever thought that I had anxiety or even suspected unless I told them.

When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I remember I started to feel anxious. Naturally, I was worried for her and my family. Without me being aware this was the start of my anxiety and my body was reacting to her diagnoses. I found it hard to sleep at night and my thoughts would be filled with her next appointments, what I could do or how could I help her. My main priority at that time was my mother and family so I knew I had to do something regarding my sleeping patterns and emotions. This is how I got into kickboxing.

Exercise is a great way to release the energy in your body and helps make you feel good. Kickboxing helped me in so many ways and I am forever grateful to my trainer Sean who always pushed me hard but took the time to teach me about nutrition. There is no better feeling than hitting that punch bag. Any negative emotion I had was released during that session. Kickboxing teaches you not only about fitness but respect for your team members too. I have so much admiration for any athlete, the level of patience, commitment and dedication to achieve a black belt totally blew my mind. Not everyone is into Kickboxing and I understand that, but you do not need to be. On the days that I cannot go to the gym I simply go for a walk, even for 30 minutes. It helps relax my body and the fresh air is also good for your mind.

As I became more aware of my anxiety, I was able to recognise the triggers and what brought them on. Stress was the main factor which lead to worry and my body was reacting to this worry. I made changes to my lifestyle that would help combat the anxiety and change my thought process too. After my mother died, I cut certain things out of my life that made me feel sad or bad about myself. I stopped watching the news, horror movies and only watched comedies for nearly a year. Laughter really is good for the soul. When I listen to music, I play anything that is upbeat, that I can sing awfully too but makes me smile inwardly. I found that I could keep myself positive by changing these small details of my life.

“Changing your mind is a strength” Gary Vaynerchuk

I reduced my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee a day as I found If I exceeded this it would trigger my anxiety. I also stopped drinking as much alcohol as this also gave me horrendous anxiety the next day. Do not get me wrong I still like to enjoy myself, but everything is now in moderation. Every night before I go to bed, I read my gratitude book. It is a journal of 10 things that I am grateful for in my life and why I am grateful for them, my last thoughts at night are happy thoughts. Having good friends who are positive and you can talk to about how you are feeling helps and I feel very blessed I have amazing people in my life. Sometimes you must step away from negative people too for your own happiness. Taking time for yourself is essential and something I am learning I must do more of as I can confess, I have always been a workaholic but in order to heal you need to love yourself too.

Everyone has different symptoms when it comes to anxiety so I can only tell you how it affects me. When it is bad it is awful, it takes over my whole body. I cannot eat properly as my stomach is cramping, my heart races and I literally feel like it is coming out of my chest. I have so much energy racing through my body but at the same time everything is difficult to do. There is no motivation. It paralyses you. What I have learned over time though is that you can utilise that energy, positively.

During Covid 19 I have discovered other ways to help keep my mind positive, writing, drawing and even social media. Tik Tok is one platform I would have never used prior and now really enjoy watching and making videos. There are genuine users who simply make me laugh out loud when I watch them. I cry happy tears. Like with any social media platform there will always be a small majority who leave inappropriate comments. How do you handle them? With kindness, they must be hurting to want to do that in the first place. The most important thing I have learnt is that there will be days that my anxiety will be good and days that it will not, but It will not stop me from being me.
Be yourself – be unique, be funny and be kind.