And…stop. Now what?

Welcoming Chapel Light
Welcoming Chapel Light

Today I write from snowy Wales. I’m on retreat, visiting a mysterious place called Ffald y Brenin, a Christian healing community, on the recommendation of my good friend, Rupal.

Me and my husband Mike drove down from Harrow yesterday and the peace and quiet still takes some getting used to. As we reached Dinas Cross, we drove down a road so narrow that there was about a centimetre of space on either side and we switched off the engine and listened to the bubbling brook. It’s snowed today and I enjoyed immensely the sound your boots make (kind of squeaky) when you tread in freshly fallen snow.

These observations…I might have missed them before my study of mindfulness. I used to come on retreat with an agenda, a plan, etc, but here…well, I’m just here. Don’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s okay. I can just be, one moment at a time.

I found myself drawn to this verse from Proverbs 31 again, this is the Message version:

A good woman is hard to find,
    and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
    and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
    all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
    and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
    and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
    for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
    then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
    rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
    is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
    diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
    reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
    their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
    and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
    when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
    brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
    and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
    her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
    but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
    The woman to be admired and praised
    is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
    Festoon her life with praises!

I’ve come to this place to just give up on *my* plans for my life, for a family etc and *gulp*…this feels a bit like ‘coming out’ ;),  give them to Jesus. On paper, our dream of having our own children, combined with my hormone problems, looks unlikely, but I know that with God, ‘All things are possible’. So, here I am, for three days, to wait. And see.

The above verse outlines a ‘Good wife’ and I can see some of myself in this verse (and Mike agrees 🙂 ), as well as some things to work towards.

Here’s some pictures of this beautiful place, covered in freshly fallen snow.

Snowy peaks in Wales
Snowy peaks in Wales
Welcoming Chapel Light at Ffald y Brenin
Welcoming Chapel Light at Ffald y Brenin
Ffald y Brenin Reception
Ffald y Brenin Reception
Arriving at Ffayl y Brenin
Arriving at Ffayl y Brenin

 

 

 

 

 

I like to code it, code it…

Joy Factory Button

 

 

Been having fun today learning how to make buttons. I must confess this post is part of my learning as I need it online at the right size so I can have an html. for a button on Paypal…let’s see if it works!

– Katie.

Update: 29th Jan…

Been playing around with vector as my hubby said it looked nothing like a hand, having problems getting button to upload to Paypal, going to call them…

 

Why a Merlin Annual Pass is a better buy than shoes…

My name is Katie Moritz….and I am a rollercoaster addict. I would far rather buy a Merlin Annual Pass (to get into Alton Towers, Blackpool Tower, Thorpe Park, Chessington, Sealife  Centres, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, Windsor Castle, the London Eye…and the dungeons but I’m too scared to go in there) than buy, say, two pairs of boots from Clarks (well, more like four when bought in sale, like I do!)

Why may you ask? Well.

For some people, a new pair of shoes or a dress will cheer them up on a bad day. I know I’ve been there. But, that’s not the most effective combatter of stress for me.

For me, it’s a drop from a height! As some readers know, I am on a journey (sorry to use an X-Factor cliché) with the hormone imbalance I’ve been dealing with, and part of this is doing all I can to ‘top myself up’ in the times when I’m not clinically depressed and anxious. I need as many doses of Endorphins and Serotonin (happy hormones) to help fight the hormones that create the low moods. So my thinking went thus.

What about when I have a stressful day, I can just take off and go on Stealth at Thorpe Park a few times? I used to do this in a previous job with toil time on the way home. So, now with my Merlin Pass, I can do just that.

I’ve learnt that stress physically seizes up our body thanks to adrenilin (ancient reflex of fight or flight when we feel in danger) and we need to do something relaxing to drain our muscles from the blood they receive to run away from that tiger (or that car that just cut you up, that email or that call from a family member)

So…going on roller coasters relaxes me. I’ve loved going fast as long as I can remember – running down hills, skiing (lucky me), go-carting down our drive, flumes and I remember the fateful day I went to Thorpe Park and went on ‘Loggers Leap’ that very first time.

The rest, as they say, was history. Ever since then, I’ve been to theme parks whenever I have the chance – at every birthday with Sall, Ellie, Sadie and Jane, Blackpool ‘The Big One’ on TV with Sall, Thorpe Park and Alton Towers with Jo and Rach and now…Alton Towers with Margaret and James.

I met Margaret, quite by chance, on the Chiltern Railway into London. Her husband, John, was sitting next to her, wearing a ‘Smiler’ hat (the new roller coaster at Alton Towers) and I asked if he’d been on the ride. Now, John and Margaret are, *mature*, shall we say.

I was surprised when Margaret chirped in, saying, ‘No, it’s me, I bought it for John!’ For the rest of the journey me and Margaret chatted about how much we loved roller coasters, and John and my husband Mike, how much they didn’t really love them!

Margaret and I exchanged numbers, a few months later we emailed to arrange a trip, and off we went to Alton Towers! I felt excited and slightly scared about going away with a lady I’d just met, but now I live one day at a time, or ‘Manna Living’ as I call it (it’s in the Bible, ask me if you want to know) I went with it.

We had the most amazing time together! I have never met a 60 year old like Margaret who is so full of life, willing to give anything a try and so doesn’t care what people think about her having fun! I can learn a lot from her.

We met up with Margaret’s friend, James (who she also met on a train) and we had *such fun* bombing around the park, being silly, sleeping on rides (see below) and raising our eyebrows at the unintentional (or was it?) double entendres in ‘Ceebeebies Land’.

And most of all, taking our hands off the restraints and going with the drops, bumps, whirls, shoots and turns of our favourite rides., right there and then (the ultimate mindfulness awareness exercise – you can’t think of anything, you just feel!)

We were really enjoying Thirteen.
We were really enjoying Thirteen.
Smiler
The reason why I made the trip…to ride the Smiler!
September 22, 2014 at 1024AM
Do you like the Post Modern portrait?
Alton Towers Selfie
The strangest group-selfie Alton Towers has ever seen?!

Before I came back to London, I spent an afternoon in the spa there, which I’ve never done on my own and I can say that was a really cathartic experience just to be still. When I got back the next day, all my friends said they’d not seen me so full of energy for quite a while.

So, my conclusions are…that it’s so wonderful to do something you really love with people who really love it, it’s fun to take a risk and get to know someone new, it really does relax and recharge me to do something new…And finally…I am going to join the European Coaster Club (yes, it exists)!

The worst day of my life

Robin Williams in my favourite movie of his, 'The world according to T.S. Garp'.
Robin Williams in my favourite movie of his, ‘The world according to T.S. Garp’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but the tragic news of Robin William’s death has spurred me into action. I confess, I had no idea that this great hero of mine battled with depression. Maybe to some readers, you might be surprised to know that I suffer from depression? I’m putting myself on the line here, but if it raises awareness of the silent torture of depression and anxiety then it is worth it.

You may or may not know that over the last three years I have had a strange hormonal imbalance that can turn on and off the switch of severe depression (and all its symptoms) over just two hours. It completely changes my personality.

Well, I’d like to tell you about the worst day of my life. The day before I had been completely fine, normal, after two weeks of panic attacks, crying, not being able to eat and struggling to get dressed. But on that day, my mum’s 70th birthday, I was delighted to feel normal.

The next day, having had the gut-churning warning signs that a change was coming, I came around to a sickening realisation that I was depressed again. My mum had been staying to look after me as for the first time, I had been really scared of being on my own. It was not that I was planning to kill myself, I would never, ever do that. It was more that it felt like a voice had popped up in my head, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, saying, ‘What if you throw yourself down the stairs? What if you hurt yourself with that knife?” I got so scared, because when you are depressed and anxious, a thought comes into your head and it’s like, ‘Don’t think of an elephant’. I’d had similar thoughts like, ‘What if you are sick when you eat this food’, and I’d been sick and therefore was very, very scared of this whisper.

So, this thought came into my head as I was getting up the strength to have a shower. ‘What if you lock the door and you slit your wrists? What if you smash that glass bottle and hurt yourself?’ I went through my CBT exercises of rejecting the thought, I prayed, I spoke positive statements, but it took me two hours to have that shower and my mum was outside the door, with it unlocked. But, at least I did, and didn’t give in to the fear and just smell. 😉

You may be thinking, what? How can this Katie that I know, in whatever capacity, had thoughts like this? Well, this is my point. How could we know Robin Williams was nursing a deep darkness in his heart, which was the shadow to his apparent constant happiness? Even I question how I could have had such a thought.

It’s because it’s depression. It has a list of symptoms. One of which is suicidal thoughts. The biggest problem with depression and anxiety is where you start piling guilt on top of guilt, like, ‘I’m so guilty that I felt guilty about having that anxious thought about whether CBT will work,’ and so on.

I am receiving treatment for my hormone imbalance and as far as the depression and anxiety it suddenly dumps on me, I’m working on that too. I’m depression-proofing my work: telling people the truth, not chasing people, only planning a days work at a time, being upfront with all my clients, taking a lunch break and not working after 5.30 or on the weekend. Because I can. Because it’s my business and my health comes first.

Some people might feel uncomfortable about this way of working and living or reading this level of honesty. It might even stop them from engaging with me. But I hope you can see a little bit where I’m coming from and are still here, reader! 🙂

Through depression I have become so much stronger, more assured, braver, and more willing to stand up for the marginalised. I know many other amazing, strong people who would agree. And I’ve learnt the true meaning of ‘Joy’, not happiness all the time and a smile plastered on my face but a deep contentment in my life despite my circumstances, whether I feel normal or low.

Addition: I just want to be clear that I am sharing my experiences to hopefully show you that someone you know may be suffering but you have no idea. I am in no way, wanting it to be about me. You can draw your own conclusions, I’m not telling you what to do; it’s just to show you how depression effected me and maybe how to spot signs of those you love. Katie 🙂

Happy 2014 from the Joy Factory!

Happy 2014 from the Joy Factory

Happy New Year, everyone. A bit late, but I have been ill, forgive me.

I hope 2013 ended with a bang for you, it certainly did for me. Here are my highlights from my first quarter:

  • Created a Twibbon campaign for Greenpeace: ‘Save Santa’
  • Put on my first “Kickass Women Mingle”; a dozen kickass ladies mingled their butts off
  • Ran my first LinkedIn training morning at Harrow In Business
  • Ran two in-house social media marketing strategy consultation workshops

I’m looking forward to working closely with Hannah David on an exciting campaign for Harrow, working on the new library space and visual merchandising in the Found charity shop and running more consultation workshops with PennInk Productions.

So, pardon the pun, 2014 has certainly started with a bang!

Katie.

Come on in to the Joy Factory.

I have had an exciting few months since opening the doors to the Joy Factory. My mission is to help people to be understood, through social media marketing, branding and illustration. I’m committed to helping Harrow businesses succeed and also to champion homelessness and mental health charities.

My first two campaigns were working on new branding and communications for Found, a charity shop in Harrow. Here is some of the branding and communications I created.

found marketing and communications
Found flyers and PR coverage

My first illustration client was PETA International. I created illustrations for the donations page. Would these little mink make you donate?

PETA donations website page illustration
PETA donations website page illustration

My first consultation client is Fastalk Languages. I will be working with them on a weekly basis to identify the customer profile, the key offering and the online marketing strategy. I will be focusing on the customer journey on the website, networking through LinkedIn and Twitter and advertising on Facebook.

As Autumn moves in, I will be working on the following campaigns and projects –

  • New branding and communications for a Harrow youth programme
  • Working with Harrow Councillor, Hannah David, on campaigning online
  • Branding and communications for new Found library and charity token scheme

If you are interested in my services, please drop me an email at katie@joyfactory.co.uk.

Katie.