The art of living in abundance and joy!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

#Gratitude for sunshine and tax returns

Those rays of sunshine!

Yesterday was so called 'Blue Monday', that second Monday in January where everyone is supposed to be at their lowest ebb.  I want to say what a load of codswallop, but I have to admit that yesterday was challenging for me and not just because of the cold and wet weather which caused everything to look grey rather than blue.  I had that dragging feeling that everything I did that day wasn't good enough, was never going to be enough, that I was running out of time to get it right, that I had wasted so much time already, not achieving the things that everyone else around me seems to get right easily.  Yep, I know, we all get this at some time and it did seem via social media and people in my personal life, as though yesterday did have some kind of magical power to depress and dishearten everyone!

Instead of trying to fight this inner feeling, I just went with it, observing it in a mindful way, also remaining mindful that I am not my feelings.  It came, it went.  And I woke up this morning to the sunshine.  Today is a fast day, so cups of tea in abundance, and also the day that I have set aside to complete my self-assessment tax return.  Given my usual attitude of fear towards any paperwork, the fact that setting up a small business can be more about loss than profit at first, and also that I do actually owe the taxman some money,this day should be as unpleasant as yesterday, but I have a new affirmation that 'I love money, and money loves me' and being scared of delving into my profit and loss accounts doesn't resonate with loving my money.  I'm sucking it up and getting over that one, and enjoying the sunshine that's coming through the window and shining on my accounts!
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Thursday, 12 January 2017

A page from my memoirs



Forgive the poor quality photograph, I took it this Christmas Eve just gone, when I was blessed to be surrounded for one day by all my children, their partners and children.  These two scallywags are my older sons, born 16 months apart in the late 80's. 

They say that every baby brings in his or her own energies with them, and that is so true for all my children.  My oldest bought the energy of change, as my life was to be almost unrecognisable from the one I was living when he was conceived.  I left my job, my home, the town I was living in, all my friends, and moved to this house that we are still in.  My dear dad died just before my boy was born.  This loss was sudden and completely unexpected.  Although, or maybe because they never met in this physical life, there is such a connection apparent between my son and his grandfather, in my eyes.  My dad loved mountains, meadows and clear alpine air, and his dream holidays were always spent walking among alpine flowers and marvelling at beautiful Swiss, German and Austrian landscapes.  My oldest son has travelled, toured alone on his motorbike to these regions, and lived and worked in the mountains.  He sent pictures of himself mountaineering with friends that he'd made on the trip.  It took my breath away to see these pictures, because the morning after my dad's death, I woke up in bed and just thought, well where is my dad?  I know he's dead, but what does that mean?   Where is he and what is he doing right now?  Well instantly I got my answer.  I saw him laying on a couch, on the balcony of a huge Swiss chalet, overlooking the mountains and lakes.  He was recouperating in the hereafter following his fatal heart attack, in the fresh mountain air that he loved.

My second son came only 16 months after my first, before he had been properly cooked in my belly, so he was rather ill and in hospital for the first weeks of life.  He recovered well, and the pair of them and the brother and two sisters who followed made my life rich and blessed with fun and love, although my life was rarely quiet!  That's why it was so good when they came home to fill my place with music and singing and laughter and fun again!
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Volunteering...is it crazy to volunteer when you're borassic?



Borassic Lint = skint...showing my London roots today!  Anyway, yes, am I mad for volunteering an afternoon a week and sometimes more in my local hospital when I need to earn money?  Sort of.  I do feel that charity begins at home, and it's my job to provide as best as I can for my family, putting food on the table at the end of the month when things get tight. 

I've always been lucky in that respect, because even when things have been pretty dire, I've always been able to rustle a meal up from somewhere, and there's always been a roof over my head, for which I have much gratitude, and also is a tangible display of the rightness of my faith that the universe is supporting and looking after us.

I do my very best to bring in money for us, doing the things I love to do, and some things I'm less keen on, like cleaning.  But there's one thing that I love to do, but don't get paid for in money, but receive riches beyond what I could describe.  Supporting women and their babies to breastfeed is one of the most rewarding parts of my life, which is funny when I think about how much I dreaded working in the clinics after my peer support training four years ago.  I did the 16 week course by the La Leche League with my local community NHS trust in order to improve my confidence in supporting my postnatal clients in my doula practice.  The course was free, but the obligation was to volunteer in the community clinics for six months afterwards, and I dreaded this part. 

The reason I dreaded it was that my experiences of breastfeeding as a mum were ones of pain, lack of support and frustration, so I associated supporting women to breastfeed with these negative feelings.  Actually what I found was women who were brave, persistent, determined to feed their babies in the way that they wanted to , even when it was challenging, painful and hard going.  These women inspired me, and so did some of the healthcare professionals I worked with.  I continued with volunteering way beyond my six months, and four years on, I'm working at my local hospital drop-in clinic.

It's sometimes challenging, but always rewarding.  things don't always go well for the women, but we get the opportunity to offer our support, whatever happens.  It is such a gift to have time to listen to someone, properly listen.  I couldn't buy that.
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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Brunch after my fasting day



This is my yummy brunch before heading out to work following my fast day on the 5:2 intermittent fasting.  I don't find that I'm absolutely starving like you might expect following a fast, and I do like to make sure that the first food I eat is clean and healthy, and isn't going to send me off into a sugar high to be followed by the insulin crash later on.  The nuts and halloumi in this will sustain me throughout the afternoon at work, and the sundried tomatoes, olives and splash of vinaigrette make this a super tasty meal which is still low in calories and really healthy.
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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Fast day 5:2



This is what dinner time looks like for me on a fasting day...a big pot of green tea.  I have been using Dr Michael Mosely's intermittent fasting for a few years now when I want to shed a few pounds and it really works and I find it easier than changing my every day diet or obsessively counting calories.  I eat a Mediterranean style diet usually, so pretty healthy with lots of green leafy veg, raw veg, leaves, fruit, nuts, seeds, pulses, fish, eggs and yoghurt.  However I do struggle with a sugar addiction that involves craving chocolate and cakes, especially late at night.

Intermittent fasting, whether it be fasting for 16 hours a day and having an 8 hour window where you eat freely, or fasting for two days out of every seven, taking a maximum of 600 calories on those two fast days and eating freely on the remaining five.  I like this way of eating as it has other benefits alongside weight-loss.  Being hungry for a period of time triggers some physiological changes in the body which include improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity.  It triggers the activity of cancer-busting cells too.  You can find out more about it Here

I find that fasting helps to clear my mind and speed up my thinking, almost as though an excess of food for the body to process clogs up the system which is reflected in how I feel, if this makes sense!

I like to eat with my family in the evenings as this is our time to catch up, and I have usually cooked the meal anyway, so its no hardship to sit there with my pot of tea with them, and for the person on a shoestring, well, fasting costs nothing!
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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Happy New Year!







Ernie and I go out twice a day usually, and we go up to the windmill near my house, Oldland Mill, which leads to some woods and fields. 
Through the trees the Sussex Downs can be seen to the south, and looking north, the Weald and Ashdown Forest.  Despite all this beauty on our doorstep, Ernie and I do like to get out now and then, and when these beauties asked us to accompany them on an afternoon walk through Nymans Gardens in Staplefield, Handcross in West Sussex, we jumped at the opportunity!

I was a Nymans virgin, having always assumed that it was a National Trust property and would charge entry fee.  I was mistaken, because parking and entry to these lovely woods was free, and they are absolutely stunning even at this time of year.  There was a steep path leading down to some impressive Scots pines, with other paths branching off left and right for further exploration another time!  I am really excited to return here and see this lovely forest wearing it's spring clothes, and my personal favourite flowers are the woodland flowers of early spring; primrose, wood anemone, and bluebells.  Summer should be cool, dark and mysterious in these woods, and autumn will be just breath-taking, judging by the c
arpet of russet leaves still evident on this January woodland floor.

Ernie loved it too...another favourite to add to our list of walks!  You can find out more about Nymans on their website here



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