Monday, 1 July 2013

Contemplation Monday

In many ways I am very lucky to be able to set aside a day just to be by myself, to contemplate where I am in life, how I want to move forward.  This is something I do every Monday.

I take time to meditate.  Do a bit of yoga.  Have a long hot bath and do all those little personal grooming jobs that are easily neglected (hairy legs, I'm looking at you!)

I write in my journal.  Do my Life Organizer.  Consider the issues that are coming up for me that the moment. This is often the time that I realise what is the underlying issue prompting my 'pain of the week' or other physical symptoms I may be having, or even whatever emotion I have been suppressing.

I also try to spend some time outside, because I find that helps to ground me in my body, which is primary trigger for personal growth in my world.

Having a whole day to myself to set my intention for the week, the month, the season, the year, my life, is, I recognise, an enormous privelige.  I wonder if a morning, or even an hour set aside once a week, could be a good habit to develop for you.  A little 'Me' time.  Time to remind yourself who you are and what you really want amidst all the busybusybusy of 21st century life.  I have to say, I find it incredibly helpful, and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A Bit of a Review

 As you know, I had made three goals for Dragon Month this year.  Dragon Month ended on Tuesday, 23rd April - St George's Day - which was two days ago, and I have been thinking about how I've been doing.

1. Cutting Down on Sugar

I was getting rather despondent about this because my chocolate addiction has been dogging every step.  Originally we decided to stop eating chocolate, but I just couldn't manage it.  Our regular habit has been to have some chocolate after our evening meal, and we have been enjoying Ritter Sport mint bars, which are dark chocolate squares filled with a white minty fondant.  But it occurred to me that there was probably far more sugar in the fondant than there would be in squares of standard 70% cocoa mass dark chocolate, so we have switched over to that.

Doing this has also made me think about the hidden sugars that I consume.  I do drink squash, Ocean Spray Cranberry and Raspberry cordial to be precise, but its very sweet, so I have been consciously trying to cut down that, only having a glass with my lunch and supper, instead of drinking it in between meals.

I am also shocked by the amount of sugar in the various sauces I use for cooking.  I try to make our main meals from scratch, so that I know what goes into them, but really I am amazed by the amount of sugar and sugar derivatives that go into the odd extras I put in, so I am trying to keep a careful eye on that.

As far as cakes and biscuits go, its a real success story for me!  I haven't bought any, and although we did have some lovely gluten free cake to take home from a dinner party the other night - huge thanks, Jasmin, it was delicious - I am definitely winning on this one.

2. Eating More Veggies

The other day, The Beast arrived.

My dear friend M offered to lend us her juicer.  She mentioned that it was rather complicated, but I didn't expect it to be, well, I can't think of a better word than industrial.

Its so impressive I may have to write it a special blog post to do it proper justice.

We have been eating more vegetables, I have to say.  I have been making soups for lunch, which is a great way to get fresh veg and nutrients inside you in easily digestible form.  I have also been meal planning to take account of eating less pasta and rice (we really don't eat potatoes at all), and it really has made a difference.

One evening, we 'fell off the waggon' and had a chinese takeaway.  Not good.  Up all night with tummy ache.  That was a pretty good incentive to strive for a healthier diet.

I've also been very strict about the gluten-free side of my diet, which I had allowed to slip.  I am not supposed to eat gluten becuase of my IBS, and yes, it does cause me problems.  Now I am off it, I am amazed at how much low grade but constant discomfort I was tolerating just for the sake of a few cakes and doughnuts every now and again.  It isn't worth it, and I intend to keep reminding myself of that in future.

3.  Getting More Exercise

You won't be surprised to hear that this has been my graveyard.  My ME intervened - first I had my period, which always exacerbates syptoms, and leaves me in bed for a couple of days.  Then I had some dental work done, and the injections always leave me feeling weak.  And then my hayfever came on, and like an idiot I took antihistamines, which I had forgotten make me feel like death.  These all sound like excuses, and they are, but ME is what it is, and you can't force yourself to move when there is just no energy in your muscles.  So not much bouncing or stretching has been achieved around here lately.  But I am working on it.  Even if I have to bounce up and down, spraying snot everywhere, for the next three months until my hayfever abates, I am NOT taking those tablets again!


I feel like I have made a big difference so far, even if I haven't done exactly what I set out to do.  My diigestive system is back in good working order again, and that alone has been worth the effort.  It is a sound foundation on which to build.  And I intend to stick with these goals because I think they are the way forward to a healthier future.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Quote for Today

 "Being positive does not mean being accepting of the negative, or ignorant of the issues, or the world situation, or anything else.  It means seeing the grace in as much as you can see."

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Dragon Energy Goals for April


 The period from the Spring Equinox (21st March) to St George's Day (23rd April) is a time of rising earth energy, and in some traditions, it is a time of Dragons.  They seem to be popping up all the time for me right now, from meeting new Welsh friends to discovering the marvellous film, 'How To Train Your Dragon'.  I am getting myriad nudges from the Universe to make the most of the Dragon energy that is flowing. 

(If you like your Elements, its a time when Earth and Air meet with Fire and Water in spectacular fashion - April showers are often blustery, and the sap is rising with firey enthusiasm, though here in Britain we are still awaiting the real arrival of anything that could be properly called Spring!  If you are interested, you can read lots more in this excellent book.)

I decided at Equinox that I wanted to make the most of Dragon Month this year.  I want to feel better, stronger, healthier. I talked my plans out with my friend M, who is a trained naturopath, and has the uncanny ability to pick out the places where I am self-sabotaging, and between us we managed to wittle my over-elaborate ideas down to three sensible and doable goals:

1. Cut Down Sugar
2. Eat More Vegetables
3. Get More Exercise

Sounds simple?  Not so.  These are BIG DEALS for someone with my health problems, but the thing is, I feel like it is time.

I've been going on for a while about how I am going through a transitional period in my life.  Changes are happening on a huge scale, from fading parents to financial adjustments and the desire for a new working direction. I'm going to need physical strength as well as mental, to deal with all this.

I'm on the downward slope towards 50 too, and there is no getting away from that fact.  If I don't take action soon, I am going to be facing some serious issues about how well I grow older.  Watching my husband's aunt become increasingly incapacitated through arthritis, to the point where she can barely feed herself, is a sobering look into a possible future for myself.  I don't want to end up like that, and the best way to avoid it is to do something about it now.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been planning and carrying out my goals.  I can't pretend its not hard, especially on the days when my energy is really low.  But I've made it simple so that even I can achieve this.

I'm going to write a few blog posts about how I'm doing this, and how I am getting on, because all the experts say it is helpful to 'go public' with your goals in order to have some accountability.  And maybe you have been thinking about the same issues and fancy pulling alongside.  In which case, let me know in the comments section, and we can cheer each other on!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Give Yourself a Break, Already!

Gorgeous roses at Overstrand Open Gardens, Summer 2012, Norfolk UK.  I think enjoying fabulous flowers should be included in everyone's Life Purpose.

There are lots of self-help books and websites out there that go on and on about Finding Your Life Purpose (and I use the capitals deliberately).  It seems to be the Holy Grail of self improvement these days.  I've spent a lot of time sweating over this one, until it has become one of my OUGHTS.

I know I am a writer.  One of the things I was put here to do is to write, to make the pictures in my head into stories that other people can enjoy.  And I do.

But I am also a butterfly, and Initiator, not a Completer/Finisher, which means I bounce from one project to the next, doing whatever  holds my interest for as long as it does, and then moving onto the next thing, or going back to something I was working on before.  Sometimes this means I don't finish stuff. More often, it means I take a long time.  This is a truth about myself that I am working on coming to terms with.  No amount of discipline has ever worked for me.  So I just have to work with what I've got, accept it, and find a way to use it to my advantage.

I think this is why the whole idea of a single Life Purpose is stressful for me.  After all, if my Life Purpose is to Get that Book Published, what happens when I've achieved it?

This is why this article from Kriss Carr lit up my brain. 

Because Life Purpose is just not that simple.  Life is complex and myriad.  I am still mulling over the jewels contained in this article, but I urge you to take the weight off yourself and read it.  Maybe goals are ok, but fixing everything on one idea for a whole lifetime?  Perhaps thats not for all of us.  Perhaps we are more interesting than that.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Positivity for Breakfast

BBC News 24 Newsreaders Matthew Amroliwala and Jane Hill

Once upon a time, I met a woman who was healing after breast cancer.  Amongst the many really revolutionary things she was doing, she was flooding her life with positivity.  Her method was simply not to listen to the news or read the papers any more.

I thought she was weird.  And naive.  

Seriously, I couldn't imagine how you could survive without BBC News.  CONFESSION:  I am a total news addict.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a bit before bed time, I guzzle it all, even if they do show the same reports in every bulletin.

This week has really brought home what this is doing to me.  The blanket coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death has driven me to depths of psychopathy that I don't think anything else could have.  Whatever you thought of her is not a matter for discussion here.  The point is, do I really need to see continual reruns of the miners' strike and that whole, patronising 'Where there is discord...etc' speech over again, when they both make me want to scream and throw things? I really don't need that kind of trigger all the time.  It's wrecking my blood pressure.  Why am I doing it, I asked myself.



Cue New Habit:

Positivity for Breakfast.

From now on, I am not going to watch the news or look at the BBC News website until the lunchtime showing at 1pm.  (And I'm not going to look at it again until the 10pm slot at bedtime, because how much is it going to change in that anyway?)

Instead, I am going to read a positive, self-nurturing book, write my morning pages, do some yoga, meditation, rebounding (more about that another day), and maybe read some uplifting blogs from the list below.  NO doom and gloom for me in the mornings from now on.  I'm changing my physical diet, after all, so why not change my mental diet?  If I really am serious about flooding my life with positivity, better to be thorough about it.

I'll let you know how I get on...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Renton's Refrain, or How to rant to yourself in a constructive manner

I wish my bathroom mirror was as glamorous as this.  It isn't.

I do a lot of anger in the bathroom.  You know, ranting.  All the snappy retorts I should have come up with, the clever put-downs I should have used on ex-boyfriends and snotty colleagues. The things I really want to say to the people who have hurt me, but never have said and never do.  I don't shout at the mirror, but I might as well.

Lately, my rants have changed in nature.  I've started to refuse.

'I refuse to be manipulated my your childish behaviour.'
'I refuse to allow you to guilt-trip me.'
'I refuse to faciliate your martyr complex.'

That kind of thing.

It struck me today that no matter how positive the desire for self-protection which motivates these refrains is, they are still pretty negative.

Maybe I should try changing my obsessive growls into something more positive, something more affirming.

How about:

I choose calm
I choose radiance
I choose to release outdated behaviours and people
I choose life

(And today I've had Renton's speech from the start of 'trainspotting' going around my head too, which is kinda ironic.)

I found this too, which I might try to incorporate into our home, as a bit more affirmation.  After all, you can never have enough, can you?