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  • HOW I GOT OUT OF THAT DARK FUNKY PLACE?! TIPS HOW YOU CAN TOO

    So, on the 4th of October THIS year will mark 1 year when I set off to South East Asia on my lonesome and 18 April this year marked 1 year since my dad past away to Cancer.

    It is weird but lately several people have reached out to me and asked me HOW did I go from feeling totally lost in the world to where I am now. I find it amazing how there is people who have followed me via social media since day one… reading my posts about crying in hostels, feeling lost and heartbroken. You guys have seen how much I have grown and honestly even I am surprised by how much I have achieved over the last year! Just to clarify when I say achieve I am not talking about material things IE classes, workshops and all that stuff. I am talking about achieving inner peace, mental clarity, sense of purpose in my life and happiness when I thought I would never be happy again. May sound dramatic but I honestly thought I wouldn’t ever recover from a pain like losing my dad and I truly give myself credit as HONESTLY it has only been LESS than 1.5 years AND is hasnt been easy. Shit!

    I see more and more similar stories of people feeling lost in life, living a life without purpose and asking me for words of wisdom to help them find their way because I was in EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE!
    I WISH there was this one fits all formula that I could give you which would save you from having to feel this way but I can only tell you my experience and what helped me.
    My journey over the last years has been crazy intense and before I decided to climb out into the light I purposely crept into the darkness and felt every inch of pain that filled my very being.
    Thinking of that time it seriously make my eyes fill because I can feel those emotions like it was yesterday.
    I went out into Asia with the intention of DOING THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY! BAM! At the time it was focusing on my travel photography and blogging. It is that simple!!!
    The thought of what I want to do in life after being made redundant, being dumped by my BF and losing my dad just seemed like a question that was just too big for me in that moment.
    A dear friend who I met whilst on my travels even did an Angel Card reading and told me ‘YOU WILL FIND YOUR LIFE PURPOSE DURING THIS TRIP’. I REMEMBER SOBBING and saying back to her ‘really?, I just don’t see that happening right now’. So my tip number one:

    1: LIVE FOR TODAY AND FILL YOUR TIME WITH THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY:
    This is HUGE!! WHY? Because by doing something that creates happiness in your life you break this cycle of having to know, which creates mental stress, anxiety. You then overthink that YOU NEED TO know, then you stress some more and then having to know the answer you then think about it some more!! EXHAUSTING RIGHT?!
    Simply, just don’t think about that question because that viscous cycle is counterproductive!! It is getting you no closer to the answer that you seek. By doing things that make you happy like a pottery class, yoga class, rock climbing or what ever it is! It means you are getting out there, increasing your vibration, creating opportunities and meeting people. The universe is then opening doors and bringing the right people into your life!! 
     
    2: LET GO OF THE EXPECTATION OF HAVING TO KNOW! GO WITH THE FLOW:
    I had absolutely NO idea that I would be doing what I am doing now!! Be open to suggestions and ideas and not have an expectation of a final outcome. Take things for how they are in that moment. A friend mentioned to be about Vipassana and recommended I do it. I had never heard of Vipasana for example which is a 10 day silent retreat but hey I was open to the suggestion and did it while I was in Indonesia! Meditation changed my life!
     
    3: MEDITATE:
    Learning where you choose to place your focus of concentration is crucial! I cant you tell you how much meditation changed the game for me.
    Our brains are well over stimulated and we are losing the battle with stress, anxiety, depression and all sorts of mental health issues on the rise. Meditation allows us to re gain control over our minds and of course it takes practise just like any other form of exercise. BUT just MAKE the time to be with yourself even if it is for 5 mins.
     
    4: KNOW THAT YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR REALITY. THEY ARE ONLY THOUGHTS:
    Just as the title says. Just because we may have thoughts of:
    You don’t know enough – you are weak – you are not good enough – you could never do that – your ugly…
    Those thoughts are not actually our reality. Just because we THINK IT doesn’t make it true!
     
    5: YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR OWN SAVIOUR:
    This one was a hard one for me to stomach. When I felt like the world had swallowed me whole I wanted someone… a knight in shining armour to come and rescue me. To save me and make me feel better… to make it all ok.
    NO…. This may sound a bit harsh but I come from a place of love. YOU and YOU alone have to put the work in IF you want to come out the other end stronger. Of course we must go and ask for help when we feel like we need support but you need to figure it out yourself. You need to seek what it is that your soul needs. You need to sit with yourself and be your best friend, provide comfort and love and dig deep to find that courage that you need to push through. There is no short cut I’m afraid but there will be a time or moment when you will say ‘enough is enough!’ or when you’re simply sick and tired of feeling lost or low or unhappy! I remember that when that moment was for me!
     
    6: BE OUT IN NATURE:
    The joy and peace you gain from reconnecting to Mother Nature is blissful. Walk barefoot, walk in the rain, go sit in the park, sit under the sun and close your eyes. Being outside does us the world of good and it recharges us is so many ways!
     
    7: ENJOY THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE, BE KIND TO YOURSELF:
    Every day I would take a few hours and go and treat myself for a tea or coffee at my favourite cafes. I’d watch a movie, go for a walk, listen to music, journal or simply sit on a bench and do nothing. EVERY DAY I did something that made me happy and I focused and appreciated on those moments of happiness no matter how small or short lived it was.
     
    8: TURN OFF YOUR PHONE:
    If you feel like you have an unhealthy relationship with your mobile IE checking your phone consistently then I suggest have a few days where you are offline. Another tip is to also turn it off when you go to sleep to prevent yourself checking it throughout the night! THAT shit wont help your insomnia! TRUST ME I KNOW!
     
    9: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO BRING HAPPINESS INTO YOUR LIFE:
    I can’t tell you how vital this is! Sometimes in life you need to be cut throat and looking at your friendships, relationships and the energy you choose to surround yourself with is a vital part of your growth and development. Choose to be around people who lift, support and encourage you! Cut the cord on those relationships that are negative and pull you back.
    Sometimes we get to a point where we simply outgrow our relationships and friendships. It doesn’t have to be this dramatic ending it just means you are both heading down different paths and every person comes into our lives to fulfil a purpose. That person may have needed to teach us something and now that purpose has been fulfilled and that’s ok.


    I hope these tips help you in some shape or form. The journey is never easy but never let the hardship of life ever harden you. Live with an open heart, never lose hope and know that this WILL pass.

    Fran xx

  • THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

    So, I am going to start off by saying that I am not here by any means to tell you what you should do. I believe we are all on our own path and journeys and it is up to us to make our own choices. I can only share and tell MY truth and MY truth may or may not resonate with you and for me that’s ok.

    BUT, I started to practise gratitude and I cannot begin to tell you how powerful it has been. I believe sometimes we can get stuck in a rut especially when things start to go wrong or fall apart and we get into this habit of focusing on all the negatives which can create this viscous cycle. Did you ever notice sometimes when something goes wrong then EVERYTHING seems to go wrong in the same day and we think ‘WHAT THE HECK?! WHY is everything going wrong for me today’.

    Well, LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE. So when something goes wrong, normally it messes with our vibration/ frequency. So because we have allowed that mess up to affect us it has changed our vibration let’s say and we begin to put out this lower frequency out into the world and begin attracting similar lower frequencies toward us.

    Practising gratitude shifts our perspective and our focus on being more positive thinking instead of focusing on what we feel that we don’t have or feeding the emotional feeling of not having enough/ being enough. But by being grateful for what we do have makes what we have enough. Especially in today society of consumerism that surrounds us. How we are bombarded with messages of how we need more. This will make you happy, look how happy this women looks spraying all that perfume. That could be you too or you get the latest upgrade but then when you do that feeling of satisfaction and happiness is short lived because then we always want something better.

    I can only speak from experience. But I can say that when my father past away it really did make me think about life in a completely different light. At first I am not gonna lie I thought the world was quite frankly ….shit. Life was shit and I am so unhappy because my dad isn’t here anymore. But after a while I began to think…. My dad didn’t want to die and he fought until the very end to stay. Then here I am… living, breathing. I wake up with the opportunity to have another chance. I wake up and it is enough to know I have air which fill my lungs and I have a choice every single day. I have a choice to do whatever I want in my life while my dad didn’t. We can’t make that mistake of thinking we have an endless supply of time. It would be absolutely criminal to not be grateful because at the end we all have so much to be grateful for and yes I understand we all do have moments where we feel crap, and that’s ok. BUT if we focus on all those negative things, people and situations what do we exactly gain from that? What positive outcome can come from investing so much energy into a negative way of thinking when in the end it won’t change a single thing.

    I am not saying to avoid the bad stuff if not I encourage you to embrace it, to feel it. We can only truly appreciate happiness when we have experienced and felt the pain and sadness. Life is a constant flux of light and dark and one cannot really be without the other. The thing is we need to accept things for how they are but also not to lose focus on what we do have which keeps our mental wellbeing stable, positive and happy. By taking the time to practise gratitude and putting focus on where it comes from it also allows us to live more in the present moment within our daily lives because we are actually paying attention to all things and those around us. Practising gratitude has made me a happier, positive and more motivated human being. It’s not about having a blind eye to life’s troubles its simply accepting that yeah ok that’s not great BUT I have so much more worth focusing on which in effect makes us more of a stress free person. To be able to see the beauty or the lesson in any given situation we also surrender to the fact that we do not have control over anything in life. In the end bad things happen to good people and it has nothing to do with something I or you have done. When trauma happens I know from personal experience it is hard to practise gratitude. But for example yes it was shit I lost my dad but on the morning that he past I just had a sick feeling in my stomach that for whatever reason I wanted to stay home and see him. BECAUSE OF THAT moment of trusting my intuition I got to see my dad one last time. For that I am truly grateful. There has to be something out there that is working for us all, we just need to be able to see the signs and hear the whispers.

    So how can you practise Gratitude? Easy....

    1. Keep a gratitude journal. Make a few notes each day giving thanks for big or small things that made you happy. Seriously you can say even something like 'I am grateful for the amazing summer sunshine'.
    2. Express your gratitude. Send out a random message, letter or note to your special people, friends, family or partner. Tell them how your thankful to have them and love them for all that they do.
    3. Spend time with people you love and care for. Invite them out for a simple coffee just because.
    4. Meditate. During your meditation visualise all that you are grateful for.

    These are some simple ideas and as you can see it isnt difficult. So, tell me what are you grateful for today?????

  • BACK TO THE BEGINNING.... BUT MOVING FORWARD

    So, before my instagram was francesca_secolonovo_wellness it was known as Vivethavida. I was documenting my solo travels across asia while I was openly greiving the death of my father who past away from Cancer in April 2017. 

    I am on a new chapter in my life and want to start blogging and share things that are helping me along the way BUT before I do that I feel like this post needs to on here AND as my very first blog post because THIS is where it started. I dont even recognise the person I was but I love her and honour her. It gives me chills as I look back and remember typing out my feelings and petrified to press the 'post' button. I know how hard it is to know you need to deal with some painful shit but its totally nessesary. Dont let anything or anyone stop you in being the amazing human you were sent here to be. Know that with strength and courage you will look back with your head held high knowing you did it, maybe with help along the way but YOU did not let it break you. You came out the other side with light and love in your heart. THAT my friend takes balls.

    So here we go.... me just under 1 year ago. 

    *******************************************************************************************

    I want to start off by saying my father was absolutely the most adorable person to have been placed on this earth.

    Everyone saw and felt the pure kindness that he was, he had such kind eyes. The joy and passion he felt to share his stories and his experiences of all the things he went through from surviving the earthquake of his home town in Sicily, to how London was when he first got here to Italian history. He was so proud to be Italian and knew all the stories about his country's history and how he could remember dates so easily was insane. My papa just was the best story teller.

    I have left this so long to post because the night my dad died I most definitely lost apart of myself deep inside. The hurt you feel when you lose someone THAT dear is so deep it’s indescribable. No matter how prepared you think you are, your not. No words could ever explain how deep it runs and for me to only truly understand is to feel it… to experience it… and that is something I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel. To write this means I am announcing it out loud…. which means that it really did happen….. which means he really is gone and how do I learn to let him go? To accept that my life from this point on he will no longer be in it to advise me, guide me or to share big moments in the future. My dad was so modest he really understood what it meant to appreciate the smaller things in life and how those smaller things were actually the important things in life. He hated people fussing over him but I believe that everyone should know the amazing person that was known as Vincenzo Secolonovo. The most amazing person in my life and I am so lucky to say I had him as my father for 32 years to guide me and advise me to be the person I am today.

    My dad taught me so many lessons in life… or at least tried. He taught me to be kind. If you are going to do something, anything you do it with your heart and to expect nothing in return. He taught me to be self-sufficient where I should not rely on anyone but myself and to be independent. To be strong and to have courage and to work hard for what I want. To listen to others better, to have more patience and learn to control my emotions and my temper. My dad had so much patience with me he always found a way to stay calm especially when I was upset. He never got mad or shouted at me. He tried to teach me to try and see the difference between good people and people who do not have my best interests at heart and to be cautious. Sometimes I get this wrong and my dad would say I need to be more careful and not give so much. You know my dad just got me, he understood me without me having to say so many words…. He knew I didn’t always want to talk.

    Growing up you didn’t want to upset my dad. When we went out and the minute me and my brother misbehaved all it took was ‘that look’ and we knew to zip it. Or even better when my mum would say ‘I'm going to tell you dad’. That was what you said to get us scared!! LOL Or on a funnier note the true Italian that he was I remember him telling me. "France, don't call me dad or daddy. I want you to call me Papa!".

    My dad never complained, he would wake up at any hour of the day or night to pick me up or drop me off no questions asked. He was kind, compassionate, charismatic, honest and believed in family above all not to mention he had such a strong faith in GOD. I would remember one of my earliest memories when I was younger Id be afraid to sleep in the dark so he would sit by my bed and I would hold his index finger because his hands were enormous with my entire hand just for one finger! He would pray by my side and would stay there until I fell asleep.

    I still wake up every morning listening from the loft if I will hear him downstairs pottering about. Or if he will call me ‘France come downstairs’… unfortunately it is still silent… and I am starting to accept it always will be. I started rummaging and searching for every picture that I have of him and as a photographer I thought I wish I had taken more pictures of him… or more videos. The thought that with time will I forget the sound of his voice or the little features that make him, him. As terrible as it is sometimes I think there has to be something out there working for us. The Monday before he died I was due to work however I woke up with the feeling of absolute sadness in my heart and the feeling of being poorly that I called sick. I think was there something out there in the universe pushing and influencing to make me feel like that knowing that my dad was going to leave this world the following night. That Monday was the last day I got to spend with him. Stranger still at 2:25am I woke up suddenly. I laid in bed thinking mmm something doesn’t feel right and I wanted to call my dad but due to the time I didn’t want to wake him as I was sure he was asleep. Anyway, I fell and asleep and 15mins later I got the call being told my dad died. I know in my heart that it was my dad who woke me up a 2:25am as a way of saying goodbye because I KNOW that there is no way my dad would ever have left this world without saying goodbye to me. He wasn’t ready to leave me, my mum or my brother. He wanted to live. But this is the problem with us humans we think we have more time but we don't. We are all victims to this way of thinking.

    Just like that…. That one phone call changes your life, flips your world upside down.. Was like someone switched off the light switch and my world went dark instantly. Someone disconnected my inner wiring and my body went numb and all sounds just totally faded out until I heard…… nothing. I didn’t feel a thing nor did I shed a tear. I fell head first into the darkness numb and emotionless. How do you get over loosing someone who was such a big influence in your life. The person who has been there since the first moment you took a breath??.. I feel robbed and I never thought I would loose my dad so early in my life. Loosing someone so close to you changes you. You don’t come out the other end the same. Things that scared me don’t seem to scare me anymore. To be scared now seems so pointless. Anyone who has lost someone to cancer you know that it isn’t pretty and it’s a pretty lonely experience. Watching someone decline in health I learnt to be more patient, compassionate and needed to show more love than ever. Not to mention to dig REALLY deep and find strength from somewhere, anywhere. This is something I know I will need to continue to do and he made me a better person from a really dark and horrible experience I just hope that I did enough.

    Being so open about this on social media isn’t everyone cup of tea. However I believe that there is no shame in showing your vulnerability or your emotions. At the same time I am also great at putting a smile on my face and as I may seem like an open book only very few really know what’s behind that smile of mine. Emotions and vulnerability is what makes us human and the human race to me there is no me or you there is only us. We will all go through the same experiences and I believe its important to show to others you are not alone. To all other people loosing someone or has lost someone you are not alone and believe me many times I feel like I am but I know I am not. Take your time. Feel what you feel. Its fine to not have your shit together and the people who love you will know that and give you space, love and encouragement. The people that don’t wont and that is absolutely fine too and sometimes you need to decide to cut the cord. It’s a time to have positive people who love, appreciate and honour you. I find as time passes the harder is seems to get. I have waves of emotions and I cry at any moment with no warning. When this happens I imagine my dad every time saying to me ‘DON’T CRY, please daughter I don’t want to see you cry’. But, my dad truly deserves every tear shed and I miss him dearly. I’m a deep person and I don’t know how to have meaningless conversations or write blasay blog posts. I only know how to write what I feel no matter how deep that is and the people who connect with what I say and get it are my type of people.

    I am proud to say I am my father’s daughter and I can only hope that I can be half the person my papa was and everyday that I think of you I think how much I really miss you.