Joie de Vivre
Meaning - the joy of life or living.
It means to acknowledge life’s ups and downs and take life in your stride. It means to appreciate all the small things which might normally go unnoticed. It means to be grateful for everything you DO have instead of wanting the next best thing. It means don’t stress over things you can’t control/change. It means make good choices which bring you joy and allow your soul to expand. It means choose to NOT struggle.
Replace fear with inner peace
Most people are not scared of negative events happening in their life...
What they're really scared of is how the negative event would make them feel.
Think about it...
If you think of something negative occurring in your life...
But you see yourself handle it with inner peace and resilience...
That event seems less scary, doesn't it?
Whereas if someone pictures something negative happening...
And they picture themselves not handling it well...
Then the event becomes far more scary..
So what's the insight here?
In most cases events themselves aren't scary.
Someone's thoughts and lack of inner peace make them scary.
Which means if you want to deal with uncertainty in the world...
Mastering feeling inner peace no matter what is going on in the outside world is the answer.
I Just Want a Simple Life
How many times have you heard someone say this? Or maybe you’ve said it yourself. I often speak to people who are fed up with the daily grind of their 9-5 job, feeling like all they do is work, eat, sleep, repeat. If anything good has come out of the recent pandemic, it is the fact that people have had to slow down, stop work (some of us) rethink, prioritise and possibly reevaluate our lives and what is important to us. It has taught us to be grateful for what we have, count our blessings so to speak. Many, many people have suffered over the past year, lost loved ones, lost their jobs, their homes and for some their whole way of life. The way they were living before has now had to change. They have been throw a curve ball. I myself was one of those people. Having lost both my forms of income, I suddenly found myself without the security of a regular monthly wage. My husband too went onto furlough. It was scary. It was a whole new situation that we, along with thousands of others had not had to really think about before. There were two ways of looking at it. We could sit down, cry, become complacent or, we could try and reinvent ourselves and look upon it as a new challenge, which is what we did.
The whole situation encouraged us to live a more simple life, rejoicing in the home, garden and our surroundings. We asked ourselves, what could we do to restart our livelihood,
bring in some cash. I started this blog and my online shop and the rest, as they say, is history. So what really is the definition of living simply?
Simple living and sustainable living go hand-in-hand but first we need to discover what we really want out of life. Our family, our work, our home and what we enjoy doing are all parts that should slowly evolve to work in harmony together. Easier said than done, but bit by bit, looking at each section of our lives one at a time can result in a more stress free existence.
Let’s start with one small thing today. Do you wake up thinking you have 100 things to do and can’t remember half of them? Do you wonder how you are going to fit it all in?
The first thing I have learnt to do is PRIORITISE. This has instantly calmed me down as I know that the most important jobs are at the top of my list. So this week we are talking LISTS. There is something quite calming and cathartic about taking pen and paper and writing down what you need to do.
Lists help to focus your mind on the tasks for the day, keep you organised and help to calm any anxiety.
Below is this DAILY CHECKLIST to help you prioritise normal daily tasks.
Please feel free to copy and print it off to use for yourself. I hope it brings you a sense of calm as you tick off each section and that you allow yourself some time and space each day helping you to feel less stressed and anxious.
Just right click on the image below and choose 'Save As' to download your very own!
It's All Material
“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden
It’s true, having more things doesn’t make people happier, but in a society driven by consumption, it can be hard to realise this truth.
Clever advertisers hammer away at our minds to indulge in new fads and fashions, each giving its same promise of lasting satifisfaction, or pleasure, or
simply insinuating that this is the ‘up to date’ thing that you simply can’t live without. And so this chase for pleasure goes on and on each new fad lasting only
long enough to make its full contribution to the pocket of the advertiser, then being immediately succeeded by the next ‘big thing’.
If we can learn to discriminate between what is necessary and justifiable, something that we actually need in order to make our lives more comfortable, and what is actually just a passing fad which will be shoved into a cupboard after three weeks then our lives might just be a lot happier, a our bank accounts fuller and our houses a lot less cluttered.
There are so many programmes, books and Youtube videos now that show us how to ‘Be more with less’ and how to ‘Declutter our lives’ that there really is no excuse to hold on
to so much stuff. Once we start to get disillusioned by stuff we don’t really need, we begin to realise that true peace and happiness is an internal thing that actually comes from within us. It has truly been there all the time, waiting to be discovered, but with all this external stimuli taking our attention, it has waited in vain, until these external things begin to fail to stimulate and create joy, the mind then begins to turn inward and finds its true satisfaction, its lasting peace. Owning things becomes important when you have an internal void. When your internal world is deprived it is only natural to want to fill it with external things. Unfortunately, this is like filling a sieve with sand. The sand may fit in the sieve temporarily, but it will soon sift through the holes, leaving you empty again.
The Yoga student is taught the art of detachment. Attachment to ‘things’ brings with it a binding to the object of our attachment. It shows just how easy it is to become the slave of an attachment instead of its master, and it is a fact that for everything we possess, or to which we become attached, we give up a ‘freedom’ of some kind. The saying ‘A slave to the job’ rings true for many people, especially these days. Working 40 or 50 hours a week in order to get the ‘best’ car in your neighbourhood, to afford the biggest house, to have the most up to date TV and other gadgets in your house is a type of Slavehood centred around the Ego. An ego seeking recognition and glory perhaps because they don’t get it from anywhere else. Now, please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with working hard, striving for a comfortable home and security for your family but the problem arises when it becomes all consuming. Possessions start to take over your life. Once it becomes more important to you to work longer hours in order to buy the next big thing, rather than spending time with your family, then we have a problem. Our houses are stuffed with things we don’t need, don’t use or no longer want, so over the next few weeks, why not sit down and evaluate what is important to you and your family and see how much ‘stuff’ you use or don’t use and maybe do some decluttering. There are so many ways to declutter now. You can give to charity, put ads on Freecycle or Freegle, Ebay, Marketplace, give to friends and or recycle.
This link is a great resource on how to declutter your home and find inner peace.
The Pain of Letting Go When Your Children Leave Home
Friday 19th March was a very significant day for my husband and I. Our youngest child left home. The baby of the family, our third baby, moved out and took a house with her boyfriend. Admittedly it is only twenty minutes up the road from us but,
she has left……gone.
It is one of those times that every parent dreads, the time when your children leave home. For the past 26 years our lives have been filled with so much joy, noise, laughing, shouting, dancing, nappies, potties, parties, sleepovers, toys everywhere, stepping on lego with your bare feet, dolls, action men, games, books, make up, Xbox, school, toddlers, teenagers, exams, dogs, cats and the most wonderful family life experience we could ever have imagined. And then change began to happen.
The first change was in 2013, our son left for university. Suddenly the dynamics of our safe, secure, amazing, comfortable family life changed.
Although I was so proud of him, I absolutely hated the fact he was leaving us. This was just me being completely selfish and feeling sorry for myself and he obviously came home during the normal holidays such as Easter, Summer and Christmas but it was never quite the same as before.
It can’t be the same can it? Then in 2016 our middle child left for university in London. Being a very independent young lady and seeing how upset
Tim and I were when our son left, she decided we were NOT going to take her, but she was to be ‘dropped off’ at the train station and make her own way herself.
I will always have that image in my mind of her struggling with cases and bags as she boarded the train. My heart was breaking, I wanted to run to her, hold her, help her. Being such a selfless, kind and caring child, she was, in fact, trying to save us from the pain of her leaving, but obviously, she could not.
We stood on the platform with our youngest daughter crying, waving goodbye to yet another chapter that was slowly closing in front of us.
But and this is the biggest but, we still had another child living with us at home. I put that thought in my pocket and held it tight. It somehow got me through the fact that our two eldest were growing more and more away from us, becoming adults in their own right, finding their path in life, not needing us quite so much but I missed them both terribly.
However, nothing prepares you for the last one leaving. It is such a bitter, sweet experience of one’s child finding, quite possibly, her future husband at such as young age and wanting to move in with him. Things have happened within one year of them meeting, falling in love and now her moving out. A whirlwind romance, domesticity. love.
Originally she was going to go to university but the pandemic struck and she decided not to go. How things can alter the course of our lives. Things beyond our control, things happening for a reason.
Their cottage is the most beautiful little dolls house I have ever seen. A tiny sanctuary for two. As she unpacked, I suddenly saw her in a different light. A grown up light. Before my eyes she emerged from my little girl, my beautiful daughter, my constant companion, my last baby, into a woman filled with pride at having her own home with the man she loves.
As the final box was unpacked, it was time for us to leave. I couldn’t stop the tears, my heart was breaking. The invisible bond between a mother and her child is like a silken rope.
She at one end and me at the other. The child, my darling child is slowly pulling away on it, tugging, tugging at my heart strings, and I am holding tight on the other end not wanting to let go but, I know I have to, to release her, let her go………….. and that is the hardest part of all. The saying “if you love someone, let them go” rang true that day.
I held her tight in my arms one last time as my baby girl, holding on to us as a family, there was still time, she was still mine but, it was time ………….. and that chapter in the book was closed shut tight forever.
The drive home was filled with tears, reflection and silence. A silence that only parents can hear, a silence of difference, a slight fear, a silence of the unknown with trepidation as we stepped tentatively back into our home, a home without our children. A home with three empty bedrooms that once were filled with life. And now, there are just the two of us, only two. Two people who began this journey of parent hood, who created these three beautiful children. We started with two and we end with two. We have done our job. Our job of preparation, sharing, caring, teaching, feeding, providing, giving, transporting, holding, nursing, listening, laughing, crying, building, cleaning, cooking, making, playing and most of all just down right…..loving them. Loving them with a love so unconditional it can never be explained it can only ever be felt. A love so strong that it can never be broken, wherever they are, wherever they go and whatever they do that love will never die.
As I write this, with the biggest ache in my heart and tears that will not stop falling, I want to thank God for blessing us with them and I want to thank our beloved children for the joy and happiness they have brought Tim and I over the years. Even though we may not all live together anymore, we will always, always be a family with a bond so strong that can never ever be broken and that is the most important thing of all.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
According to many health professionals, a large proportion of us are experiencing a public health epidemic because of the magnitude of sleep disorders diagnosed each year. These disorders include Insomnia, Apnea, Narcolepsy, Restless leg syndrome (RLS), REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder, Non-24-Hour Sleep Wake Disorder and Excessive Sleepiness.
A recent survey suggested a third of adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep which links to many chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression—that threaten our nation’s health.
Is this you? Are you one of these people who constantly wake at night for whatever reason, tossing and turning and then waking in the morning feeling like s…t?
The good news is there are many things we can do to help ourselves, such as taking a lavender bath in the evening, practising gentle relaxing yoga before bed, meditating, drinking a milky drink. All of these things help but what if they don’t? Is there anything else we can do?
First, let’s look at what sleep actually does for our brains and our bodies.
Sleep has many functions, which neuroscientists are finally able to see with advanced imaging technologies of the brain’s activities during sleep. The core activities of sleep are to give the brain an opportunity to wash itself. Yes, it literally self-cleans while you slumber! Also, it gives your mind the chance to consolidate memory and patterns, such as helping to commit to longer-term memory things that you experienced or learned today. Without certain sleep cycles during the night, your mind loses that information and it was as if you didn’t learn anything that day. And finally, your unconscious self can work through emotional and spiritual experiences while you sleep. Just as the old saying “ let’s sleep on it” refers, your sleeping mind can connect to deeper parts of the self and deal with issues that your conscious self perhaps doesn’t want to deal with. You can wake with new insights into these emotional and spiritual parts of your self.
Personally I have found that practising yoga and meditation have helped me drift off to sleep much more easily, especially if I have been worried or anxious about something.
Below are some ideas we can all do if we are struggling to sleep:
Exercise - Obviously there are physical benefits to exercise, but it can also do wonders for your mind. Getting out of your head and into your body is a helpful way to direct any scattered energy to a different place. When you exercise, you tend to concentrate on what you are doing rather than thinking about anything else. It also releases endorphins, (happy hormones) which instantly make you feel a lot more relaxed.
Meditate - I know everyone says that meditation helps and it does, but what if you can’t stop your mind from whirring around at 100 miles an hour? Well this complete body scan meditation may help. Included here is a link to it for you to try.
Write it down - If you find yourself waking in the night with thousands of thoughts in your head - why not write some of them down? Putting them onto paper is a therapy in itself. It’s a sort of throwing them overboard kind of analogy. By releasing each one to paper, you are tricking your mind into letting go.
Read - I recommend reading in bed. I always find that by reading a good fiction book last thing at night, I drift off to sleep really quickly. Because your mind is concentrating on the story, it lets go of other things that may be concerning you.
Drink - Lastly, drinking a milky drink is not as silly as it sounds. Why did or still do, your grandparents drink Horlicks or Hot chocolate or Coca before retiring for the night? Milk and other dairy products contain an amino acid (which help induce sleep) known as tryptophan. Milk also contains melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. If you're stressed and can't seem to get your zzz's, this might just be the trick to keeping that 8 hour sleep routine. They even make a vegan Horlicks now too, so no excuses.
I really hope you don’t suffer from any of the above sleep disorders but, if you do then I definitely would recommend some of the above and also below
I have added a link here to a podcast by Dr David Peters which you can download and listen to in bed. It will help you relax and hopefully induce sleep.
There is No Failure, Only Feedback
Is Fear Holding You Back?
Whoever you are, wherever you are, have you ever met anyone who has really inspired or influenced you in anyway? Maybe it’s a parent, a friend, a teacher, a boss, someone who organised a club you used to belong to (or still do)?. What impact did they have on your life? Did they give you praise instead of criticism? Were they always there for you when you needed a guiding hand? Were they always upbeat and able to make you feel more positive about life?
Think about that person for a minute and how good they made you feel. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to lift someone out of either depression, anxiety or basically, a negative feeling that consumes their whole world at that time.
That is why, today, I encourage you to reach out to someone who is maybe struggling a little. It could be anyone you know or even someone you don’t know. Let them know you are there for them, pay them a compliment, send them some flowers or a small gift. Even little gestures like, smiling at a stranger in the street, offering to pay for someone’s shopping (if it’s not too expensive), baking them a cake, writing them a letter, telling them the outfit they are wearing really suits them, anything to lift their spirits. Trust me it works, when you plant a seed, you create a ripple effect, spreading kindness, happiness and positivity to others, and goodness knows we all could do with some positive news right now.
Reaching out to others is a sort of payback showing our gratitude for what we already have in our lives, a thank you to God, the universe, the spirit world, or whatever your beliefs are. By practicing gratitude you will be amazed by what you get back in return. Remember, like attracts like.
25 years from now, someone might just be thanking you for what you did today. Something to think about.
There is no failure, only feedback
Goals are illusions made up by us.
A goal is a made up thought.
If you create a level of stress by thinking ‘if I don’t achieve the goal I am a failure’ then it’s going to get in the way of you achieving it . Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, instead plant a seed, an intention in your mind, rather than a goal.
Quieten your mind and allow your inner intelligence, your gut feeling to work and guide you.
Once you realise your happiness does not depend on you achieving something, then you will be happier, more content, relaxed.
Be in the now. You will be in a better place to achieve things.
Think of it as tuning your mind as you would tune into a radio, tuning into the intelligence in order to receive.
There is no failure, only feedback.
Sometimes we need to fall over and get back up again in order to learn. Have faith in the nature of yourself and don’t compare yourself with others.
Is fear holding you back?
Definition of the word FEAR
‘False Expectation Appearing Real’
All future thoughts are a culmination of bad memories
We expect a false outcome, and we imagine it so vividly that it appears real in our mind – so real that even our body reacts as though it is happening right now.
There’s no true threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually nothing there at all. It's an illusion. It's something we fabricate in our own minds and pretend it's real.
It’s a fairy tale we tell ourselves that keeps us from doing what we really want.
Are past failures real evidence that justifies fear of future failure? No, because unless you keep doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different results (one definition of insanity), you have no real evidence that your next approach will fail.
Past failures give false evidence that appear real. It’s likely you learned things from your past failures that instead provide evidence that your odds are now better than ever.
If you've never failed at anything it might be because you've never tried or are scared to try due to FEAR OF FAILURE.
Healthy, well-adjusted people take reasonable risks, without all this deep dread over specific outcomes.
The journey is what you’ll relish, and it just might take you somewhere better than you initially hoped. Each journey teaches you what you need to know to take the next one.
So conquering F.E.A.R. is simple:
Try + Learn + Adapt + Try = Success
Try = Success
Remember - If you don't try, you'll never know.
The Tree of Life Exercise and Finding Your Happy Place
The tree of life exercise - by David Denborough.
Credited and with thanks to Nathan B. Weller
This incredible exercise is a visual metaphor in which a tree represents your life i.e. past, present, and future. By slowly and mindfully drawing, filling in and labelling the many different pars of the tree, you will find it will reflect the kind of person you want to be from this day forward. You will learn how to discover and highlight alternate paths through our past–which in turn create new horizons in our future.
Here are the instructions:
First we need to draw a tree, don’t worry, a rough sketch is fine (help here!)
Next, follow the labelling instructions below. If you can only think of one or two things per section at a time, don’t worry about it. The nature of this exercise is that as you complete each step, it unlocks more memories and ideas for other parts. You can skip around and fill things in at any time. The most helpful thing in the beginning is to just write stuff down and see where it takes you. You might be surprised!
The Compost Heap (Optional–But Highly Recommended!)
Write down anything in your compost heap that would normally go in the other sections described below but which are now things you no longer want to be defined by.
These are often sources of trauma, abuse, cultural standards of normality/beauty/etc. or anything else that shapes negative thoughts about yourself in your mind. You can write down places, people, problems, experiences. Whatever you need to.
Generally they all have to do with past trauma and damaging relationships we are trying to let go of. I’ve found that the idea of a compost heap is an extremely helpful way to think about these things. Especially since many of them are not neatly categorised as “all bad”.
There are in fact quite a few life defining lessons we can learn through the things that end up in our compost heap. And like a compost heap is supposed to do, we can eventually break those things down and re-sow the rich parts back into our lives.
Write down where you come from on the roots. This can be your home town, country, etc. You could also write down the culture you grew up in, a club or organisation that shaped your youth, or a parent/guardian.
Write down the things you choose to do on a weekly basis on the ground. These should not be things you are forced to do, but rather things you have chosen to do for yourself.
Write your skills and values on the trunk. I chose to write my values starting at the base of the trunk going up. I then transitioned into listing my skills. For me this felt like a natural progression from roots to values to skills.
Write down your hopes, dreams, and wishes on the branches. These can be personal, communal, or general to all of mankind. Think both long and short term. Spread them around the various branches.
Write down the names of those who are significant to you in a positive way. Your friends, family, pets, heroes, etc.
Write down the legacies that have been passed on to you. You can begin by looking at the names you just wrote on leaves and thinking about the impact they’ve had on you and what they’ve given to you over the years. This can be material, such as an inheritance, but most often this will be attributes such as courage, generosity, kindness, etc.
(Tip: if your tree is pretty crowded by this point, perhaps try drawing some baskets of fruit at the base of your tree and label them accordingly there.)
The Flowers & Seeds
Write down the legacies you wish to leave to others on the flowers and seeds.
(Tip: again, you may wish to de-clutter your drawing by visualising saplings, baskets of flowers, etc. on which to write these items down.)
After completing this exercise you are no doubt swimming with ideas and possibilities. My best advice is that if an idea has occurred to you that will help you process the things you have uncovered in a positive way, do it!
Here are three things that I have chosen to do as a follow up to my initial experience.
I’ve decided to journal about the various elements on my tree. I want to explore the connections between my roots, values, skills, people, etc. in a safe way before sharing it with others in any organised manner.
Some of the connections are pretty easy for me to determine. I know that I wrote certain values or lessons on my tree and immediately followed them up with the name of a person or group of people. These are the people who have instilled something special in me and I intend to tell them how much that means to me by writing some letters.
Meditation Through Art
I found that the drawing part of this exercise was particularly satisfying and therapeutic in and of itself. I’ve found that other creative mediums have also helped me to practice mindfulness and to encourage a state of calm. One of these things is called SLOW STITCHING. It is one of those creative art forms which is a mindful needlework process focusing on intention and the joy brought from creating and not so much the final result of the piece itself. You can buy Slow Stitching kits in our Etsy store. Each box is stuffed with various bits of fabric, cotton, buttons, lace, ribbon and more and comes with its on box. See store for details: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/927790056/slow-stitching-kitvintagefabric-notions?ref=shop_home_active_16
This exercise can be great but I also know how scary it can feel to take the first steps in claiming the storytelling rights over your life. It usually means confronting aspects of our past that we might feel are better left unchallenged. And that’s a valid concern.
If you are worried that an exercise like this might stir up a lot of raw emotion or trigger traumatic flashbacks, I would encourage you to complete this exercise with a therapist. Or, at the very least, with a friend or family member who will be there to talk to you and support you through the process.
I would love to hear how you got on and if you found this exercise useful. Please send your comments:
Don't Resist the Negative
Whatever the negative feeling is, know that every person has the ability to dissolve any and all negative feelings. Here’s how to do it. Stop right now and welcome whatever feeling you are feeling in this moment. It seems contradictory to welcome a negative feeling, doesn’t it? The problem is that we resist negative feelings which makes them even worse, which then makes our life worse. But when you welcome a negative feeling, you automatically stop resisting it and the feeling will dissolve! No negative feeling can remain if you’re not resisting it. To effectively welcome a feeling, open your chest area by putting your arms out to the sides of your body as though you’re about to embrace a good friend, and then just allow whatever you’re feeling to be present. Notice how the feeling dissolves after a very short time, in less than a minute. This welcoming practice is the most powerful practice in the new book, The Greatest Secret.
If you just did this one practice consistently, you would have a life free of negativity, now wouldn’t that be good.
Find your Happy Place
Fearne Cotton is one of the best known and most popular broadcasters in the UK and is most recently known as the Founder of the wellbeing brand, Happy Place.
To date, the podcast has nearly 40 million downloads and continues to top the charts.
Fearne's HAPPY PLACE podcast series builds on the success of the top 10 bestseller HAPPY where Fearne draws on her own experiences and shares advice from experts on how to work through feeling blue to finding joy each and every day.
Fearne Cotton's Happy Place is great for chats about mental health and wellbeing.
Read Yourself Happy
Can you Ever Forgive?
The Nicest Place on the Internet
Read Yourself Happy
The Happy Newspaper was started in 2015 by designer Emily Coxhead. A bright sunny platform where people can share only good news. Released every quarter it is packed with positive stories from around the world and a section for everyday heroes. There are many different sections and also a shop selling cards, pins, bags, sweets and obviously the newspapers. One of the sections is designed for schools and a free resource pack can downloaded for children. With its bright yellow top, you can’t help but smile. So if you are fed up with the media reporting nothing but doom and gloom, why not check this little piece of happiness out.
Can you ever forgive?
Welcome to another week of The Violet Cottage blog. It is now, more than ever that we need to focus on working together, sticking together with strength, compassion for others and a positive approach to our lives just now. Every fortnight we come together in this space and share new ways of thinking, new products and ideas to help us all get through this weird time we are all experiencing.
Making the world a better place in these dark times is the way we will all get through this. One of the ways we can do this is learning the art of forgiveness. Many of us find it hard to forgive something or someone that has wronged us in the past and that is completely understandable. We may have been hurt, physically as well as mentally, we may have been abused or let down by someone we thought of as a friend. These experiences may have resulted in trauma causing us to feel all sorts of emotions. Freud, one of the giants of psychology, always took his patients back to their childhood experiences in order to help them overcome their present problems and I am not, for one moment, dishonouring the man but, what if there was a different way of dealing and thinking about ones past troubles?
By revisiting these past experiences again and again surely is giving them energy. Yes they happened but they are not real now. They are merely memories and holding onto such harmful memories and feelings, constantly retrieving them from the achives of our minds so that you can revisit them holds us prisoner in our now departed past. If we can realise that our memories are only phantoms kept alive by our own thoughts. The more energy you give to them by constantly going over and over them, the more they seem real and alive again, like you are reliving them.
Now I’m not saying we should therefore go into denial, but what I am suggesting is forgiveness. Negative memories and feelings are like scratches on our glasses. They obscure our vision. If they are full of scratches it is very difficult for us to see through them. Our vision becomes impaired, preventing us from seeing life with any clarity.
It sounds like it’s easier said than done, but perhaps but if we can realise that happiness and contentment comes when the human mind, our human minds, break the chains of yesterdays bondage. I suppose the main message is that our past events don’t necessarily have to determine our present. We cannot change what has gone before but we can improve the way we relate to life if we can stop the negative and historical thoughts and memories from controlling us and how we comprehend life now. A professor once said: “All of the research I have done on mental health, indicated that it was the patients’ thoughts that dictated their actions.” I believe he had a strong suspicion that thoughts are somehow connected to an inevitable outcome. Interesting isn’t it. I hope this has helped some people to see things a little different and remember, don’t let the past dictate your future.
Let the past be dead and let the dead rest in peace and tread not into yesterday’s sorrows for they are the pathways of despair.
The Nicest Place on the Internet
Give someone a virtual hug. The nicest place on the internet.
Three Things to Make You Smile
This week is all about bringing you some good tidings and joy. I know, Christmas is over, but if I like me, I am sick to death of hearing nothing but bad news, doom and gloom brought into our living rooms from the BBC every night. So below are some ‘nice’ things I have discovered over the past few weeks since my last blog.
Pick of the Litter: This will melt your heart
If you like animals, dogs especially, then this will make you smile. It is a documentary about training guide dogs for the blind and it is so wholesome and heartwarming, it can’t fail to cheer us up. Synopsis - Pick of the Litter follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. Cameras follow these pups through an intense two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm.
Get a Penpal
A lot of people are also reaching out to others across the world and becoming Penpals. This is something you may of done when you were younger but it is a great way to make new friends, learn about different cultures and perhaps, one day, even get to visit each other. There are plenty of websites but www.globalpenfriends.com seems to be one of the best. If you are stuck at home, bored and fed up, why not try it out.
The vaccine is working!
Within weeks, the prospects of an end to the pandemic have changed utterly, with three vaccines against Covid-19 reporting good results in final clinical trials. The 90% finding puts the Oxford vaccine on a par with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s versions – if it is maintained in the full trial results. And Oxford has several major advantages over the others. First, it is stable at fridge temperatures of 2-8C, so no worries about freezer boxes containing more than 900 doses having to be used in a hurry or wasted. And for the developing world, it is doubly good news – no freezers needed and fewer doses required due to the initial half-dose.
Second, the Oxford vaccine is cheap, at £3 a dose, while the other two are more than £20 a dose. Oxford has from the start stressed its ambition to enable the entire world to be vaccinated. It has made arrangements to produce the vaccine around the globe.
It is great news for the UK government, which has invested heavily in the Oxford vaccine as well as ordering 100m doses. That is enough to immunise the country’s entire adult population. Ease of use – no freezer lorries or storage facilities at -70C – means GP practices can have a fridge-full and take it out to care homes without worrying it will go off. It also makes it possible to visit the frail and elderly in their own homes, so they do not have to be transported to vaccination centres.
Stay safe everyone.
Hope, Faith and Love in 2021
Has a year really flown by that quickly? Indeed it obviously has and may I say, very quickly, considering we have been locked down for most of it. Who would have thought this dreadful virus would still be confining us to our homes almost one year on. I think, if you are like me, we presumed that by Christmas it would have been almost over but sadly, it is not to be. But hey, Happy new year everyone and let’s be positive about the whole situation. There is a vaccine, in fact there are two or even three vaccines. Have you had one yet? No, nor me. Will you in fact actually have one? Every year people talk and think about detoxification after the indulgences of the festive season but, at the moment and with the pandemic still rife, I believe there is no need to deprive ourselves of our core comforts. So, let’s make soup (see DIG this week for a tasty recipe) make an apple pie, serve it with custard. Walk miles and come home to a large cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows. Yay!
Our mission this January and beyond is to stick together, to help each other, to donate, to call on a neighbour who we may not have seen for weeks. To message or write to that friend we haven’t heard from in a long time. To make something, look after our planet, to be more patient., kinder to one another. To read or even write that book you have been wanting to read for ages. To take stock I suppose of what we have. To be grateful we are still here, still alive, when so many have lost their lives to this dreadful virus.
The world keeps turning and I hope and pray that as the weeks unfold we will all be in a better place soon.
There will be many thoughts that come in to our minds about this whole situation we are facing and these thoughts create an unpleasant feeling, but there is a way to way to deal with this. Remember, our thoughts are not real, they are transient. They come into our head but If we don’t engage with them, they will leave. If you do engage with those thoughts, you are giving them energy. If you step back from those thoughts and see each one as a cloud, the cloud enters your mind, see it drift in, allow it to drift out, away.
If you keep it there it will multiply. So, let it go, imagine it drifting away. it will leave, it is part of the healing process. Replace it by doing something you enjoy, thinking about something that makes you feel good. Put on some music, turn it up LOUD and dance. We can beat this, we will beat this. It may take time but it will go. So this new year I invite you to hold each others hands (virtually) as we continue to walk forward with faith, love and hope.
Happy New year to you all.
It's been a funny year!
It’s been a funny year as we all know and one we will never forget but here we are, Christmas 2020 and quite possibly, we may have been forgiven for thinking that by this time the virus would have been under control and things would be almost back to normal. But obviously not and so here we are. It is still here and amongst us, BUT at least there is the vaccine and that is a positive step to sorting this whole mess out.
We must be positive, we must have faith that things will improve because if we don’t then we will dive straight into 2021 with dread and despair and that will never do. Over the last 6 months since starting this blog I have written many items on positive thinking and how our thoughts create our own personal experience and the fact that negative thinking attracts negative things and positive thinking attracts positive things happening in our lives. There is a new book out that I would like to share with you called The Greatest Secret.
Rhonda Byrne’s new and most important book to date is available worldwide starting November 24, 2020.
Every question will be answered, every desire will be fulfilled. Never again do you need to be afraid, never again do you need to suffer.
We’ve missed the truth for thousands of years because we’ve not looked at what is right in front of us. We’ve become easily distracted by our problems, the drama in our lives, the comings and goings of the events in the world, and we’ve missed the greatest discovery we can make that is right here before us – a discovery that can take us out of suffering and into lasting bliss and happiness.
The Greatest Secret is a quantum leap that will take the reader beyond the material world to where all possibilities exist. The teachings in these pages will dissolve fears and uncertainty, anxiety and pain. Filled with revelatory words of spiritual teachers from around the world past and present, The Greatest Secret is a profound master work that offers readers everywhere a direct path to end suffering and to live a life of deep joy.
If you are feeling low, fed up, worried about the future, desperate for some good news, then I urge you to treat yourself this Christmas and buy yourself this new and powerful book. It might just be the best present you ever received.
I would like to thank you all for reading my blog and supporting me in my new venture. I really appreciate it and love having you all along for the ride. I have really enjoyed writing it and I Iook forward to starting 2021 with excitement, anticipation, hope and faith that things will improve for us all.
I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PEACEFUL NEW YEAR.
Love to you all.
THREE WEEKS TO GO
Don’t panic! I know, I know we only have about 3 weeks until the big day but please don’t panic.
If like me, you suddenly wake up and think, Oh my goodness, I’ve got so much to do, how the hell am I ever going to get it all done in time? Well, stop, take a breath and prioritise everything.
Every year is the same for me. I go casually along through November thinking, ‘Oh I’ve got ages to prepare for Christmas, no problem’ but then AHHHHHH!
So what to do? How to organise and make sure we are getting ready without getting stressed and bogged down by the preparations?
I know it’s a bit of a cliche but, Christmas really is my favourite time of the year and although I occasionally get a little worried I haven’t done everything, I love the build up to it.
This year will be slightly different for almost everybody due to Covid. Many of us have been apart from loved ones for what seems like forever. I myself, have not seen my darling son for almost a year and sadly he can’t come home for Christmas. (He’s a teacher in Hong Kong). When he told us, I couldn’t stop crying, my heart just broke as I miss him so much. And there are so many others in the same boat. It is heart wrenching, heart breaking for families who feel like their world has been torn apart by this wretched virus.
BUT, as always in this section, I try to write about how, by having a more positive attitude and realising that our thoughts create our human experience, we can get through this time and get through it together. Humans need other humans. People need people.
We are sociable creatures. For our own mental health and well-being, we need each other, we need to talk things out, we need human touch and contact and this year, we have been unable, for the most part, to have that. But, here’s the thing. Things are going to get better folks. Just yesterday the Covid vaccine was approved. A step in the right direction. A light in the darkness that has been, for some especially, a very dark year. Will you have the vaccine though?
Some say the whole thing has been a controlling process by the government in order to control us all. Conspiracy theories have been bounded about for months.
What do you think? It’s a good question to start a conversation with someone if you’re stuck for ideas. Just a thought, but that’s all it is, a thought. (See Blog 20 post)
So, now let’s get more positive. We have so much to be thankful for. If you are reading this in your home, which I presume you are, ask yourself these questions:
Are you warm?
Are you comfortable?
Have you eaten?
Have you bathed or showered?
Can you see/hear/feel/smell?
Are you well?
Are your family or friends with you?
If you answered all of these, or most of them, then yes, we are lucky, very lucky and we have nothing to worry about at this very moment. We are not talking about the past, the past has gone, it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist or we forget it, but it’s gone. We are not talking about the future either. We can’t know the future, we can’t control it. So, let’s think about the here and now. This very moment, as you ask yourself those few questions and tick off each one, just sit and be present in this moment, the here and now. Be still, be quiet and be grateful for what we have and what we have come through this year. There is hope, there are people who are worse off than us, bless them.
So if, like me, you wake up and think AHHHHH, don’t. Everything will fall into place, it always does and it doesn’t matter if you forget something, or your Christmas cake looks wonky, or you drop the sprouts, or you forget to buy for someone, all of these things can be sorted but hey, at the end of the day, the most important thing is we are still here, living, healthy and hopefully able to spend time with our loved ones this Christmas.
Huge love to you all.
If you need help for the coming weeks then today you can download this Christmas checklist I have put together for you.
Right click on the below photo and click 'Save As' to download for free!
What strange times we are STILL experiencing. This year seems to have gone on and on in a locked down drama of lows and not many highs. The highs, i think, have been the amazing ‘pulling together’ of people in extreme ways, some compare it to the war years. Neighbours who would never normally speak to the person next door, helping each other, talking to each other, shopping for them, giving them the time of day. The wonderful fund raising efforts that have gone on, with people like Sir Captain Tom Moore who walked 100 times around his garden and raised millions for the NHS and all at 100 years old! The kindness of strangers, the clapping every week in appreciation of the NHS workers. Bonding with each other. But there have been so many lows. Firstly the thousands of people who have lost their lives to this dreadful virus and the families they left behind. The greed of human beings as they raided the supermarket shelves for toilet rolls, flour and pasta, pushing and shoving others including the elderly. The doctors and nurses forced to wear PPE for hours on end whilst treating the sick and almost collapsing themselves through sheer exhaustion both mental and physical. The pain of not being able to see or visit loved ones especially those in care homes or those living far away.
So, what do we take from all of this? Where are we now? What will happen next? The truth is, I don’t know, none of us do and I think it is that uncertainty that is the worrying factor. But, let’s talk about worrying for a moment and how our thoughts actually effect our human experience. Obviously, we all have thoughts. In fact, we have between 6000 to 9000 thoughts every day. They flow in and out of our mind but we don’t know we have that many because our brain is designed as a filter. If we recognised that amount of thought, our brains would simply, well, explode so to speak.
What actually is thought then?
Thought is a divine tool, nothing more, nothing less, only a tool. A wise person, like a good tradesman, uses this tool to the best of his or hers ability.
Thought is a divine gift which serves you immediately after you are born. Thought on its own is a completely neutral gift.
Thought is not reality as you are only thinking. At the moment you are thinking, whatever you are thinking about, is not happening, you are only thinking about it happening.
Thought is not reality, yet it is through thought that our realities are created.
Therefore, it is what we as humans put into our thoughts, that dictate what we think of life.
The purer your thoughts are, the more love and understanding will be in your heart.
Positive thoughts create a healthy mind and a stable life.
Negative thoughts create negative feelings, which in turn create negative behaviours and are the seeds of human suffering.
Optimism, however, is a spiritual quality and a guiding light that will lead you to your happiness.
When our minds are in unity with that which is good, then our thoughts no longer hold us prisoner to that which is evil.
When we start to see the power of thought and its relationship to our way of observing life, we will better understand ourselves and the world in which we live.
I know that is easier said than done but I think, in order to try and get through this weird time in history let’s try and remain positive and hopeful. Just as I write this, a vaccine is being tried and tested and is giving hope to millions of us that life as we knew it, will hopefully get back to normal next year. All we can do is think positive, watch out for each other and remember the old but very wise saying ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’.
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON
Hello again from the cottage. I hope you are all keeping well?
A lot has happened in the two weeks since I last wrote, yes we are in LOCKDOWN again! And as I write this (last Thursday) it looks like America is about to get a new president. This year honestly, it really has been a strange one, but we will get through it folks, yes we will, after all, we are British! Stiff upper lip and all that. And talking of that, stoicism has long been a quality that the English as a people have consistently admired among themselves. Traditionally, it means a calm perseverance in the face of adversity. It is said to have come from the trembling of the upper lip when we are in great emotional distress.
This, supposedly, was perceived as a sign of one’s psychological weakness and a telling sign of a lack of stoicism in an individual.
But why was/is it so bad to show one’s emotion? The motto ‘Keep calm and carry on’ can in some instances be a good thing but in others it can mean exactly the opposite. I think it depends on the situation you are in. The Coronavirus has tested all of us to the limit this year and everyone’s experience is different. People cope differently and it depends on how deeply you have been affected by it. Some have lost loved ones, income, homes, jobs and their entire way of life. Some people will see this as a challenge, others will feel that their whole world has fallen apart. However and whatever has happened to each individual and how they react is different for each one of us and the way you were raised as a child in my opinion.
You may have been brought up by parents who showed no emotion in any circumstance and kept that Stiff upper lip going throughout their life. Or, perhaps your home environment was full of noise, shouting, arguing, crying, throwing things etc. No stiff upper lip there, they showed you exactly how they felt. Others may have known only loud laughter, kissing, hugging and luckily for them, joy.
If we were to take a trip around the world based on the latest report, Latin America holds the majority of the world's most emotional countries, with Iraq, Cambodia and the Philippines also in the top 10. We would find their people much more emotional and not afraid to tell you exactly how they are feeling, whether good or bad. People are much more open, welcoming and warm to others. Showing their emotions is the norm and something that they are not ashamed of. This in turn, means they are a much more relaxed nation of people. None of us should be ashamed of showing our emotions. It has been proven that if you keep your emotions inside, especially feelings of sadness, worry and anxiety, it will lead to chronic stress resulting in depletion of your immune systems (not what we need right now).
Other signs are:
Shaking, chills or hot flushes, sleeping poorly, eating badly, lack of concentration, constipation, high blood pressure, diarrhoea, muscle tension, dizziness and headaches.
Nowadays people are more aware of these signs and are more willing to do something about it but as a a nation, I still think there is a stigma attached to it. This is a shame and probably why so many of us struggle with some internal angst.
During this second lockdown, let’s do something positive, let’s make a plan. With Christmas looming ever nearer and more time on our hands we can plan for a safe but possibly different celebration.
Talk about a couple of different options depending on how things are closer to the holidays. Having these different plans will help us have something no matter what the situation is.
Make a list of the most important things you need to do first. Draw up two columns, one with the MOST IMPORTANT things to do and MUST do and the other with would like to do but NOT THAT IMPORTANT. Fill in the columns, stick it somewhere you can see it on a daily basis and check off as you go. It will help calm your mind knowing you are doing things gradually but things are getting done.
Shop local. Most people will be buying online I am sure, so why not check out the independents, they need our help more than ever. Etsy is full of amazing things to buy and The Violet Cottage has it’s own little store selling gorgeous things.
Slow down - self care is very important especially at this time of year. Take time out for you. Run a bath with some gorgeous smelling products. See Soak up the benefits! Transform your bath time into a healing ritual of calming essential oils, clays, botanicals & moisturising butters.
Talk to your family about what their expectations are this year. If you have lost your income, let them know you will be sticking to a budget.
Ask for help financially and physically. As more of us are either off work or working from home, others can help you do more in and around the house.
Get outdoors. Make sure you exercise. Meet a friend and go for a walk.
Breathe. Make a point of breathing more deeply. This will help to steady you, calm your nerves, get more oxygen to your whole body which will help keep your stress levels down.
Express yourself. If you feel happy yell at the top of your voice, dance to some loud music in your living room, if you feel sad, have a good cry, punch a pillow, stamp your feet. IT’S OK FOLKS. By letting go, letting out that emotion will do us all the world of good.
So, however you get by over the next month, allow yourself to just be YOU. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (but without that stiff upper lip).
WHAT A MESS
& HOW EXACTLY DO YOU GET JOIE DE VIVRE?
What a mess!
My house is a mess and I want to change the decor! Do you ever feel like that? Ahh, just recently we have had a bit of a change around, things added, things given or taken away but that sometimes leaves you with no where to put the things that were in the things that were given away. Ahhh again. This then leads on to other problems like, now the stuff is out I need somewhere else to store it. As you know I have written a lot in the past about decluttering and I have really tried my best to downsize on certain things but the problem with our house is, we just don’t have enough storage. So what to do? The thing is, do you find that you start one job and that then creates many others, this can then lead you to have stress, anxiety and you just keep going round and round until absolutely nothing gets done and you sit on the floor and play with the dog.
The whole ethos of not having as much stuff is to help clear and calm our minds and it’s definitely true. If you walk into a room where everything has its place and there is order, then it is obvious that your mind will be peaceful and you will feel relaxed.
So what am I going to do? I bought a caravan in the summer and it sits nicely in our back garden. It’s called Little Violet (obviously) it is going to be my office/workroom/entertaining space/ extra bedroom/ meditation space and anything else it will lend its hand too. So, I am going to move my work stuff in there, this will then free up the office at home and hopefully I can then get that space in order. You see it makes sense, if we can clear one room at time instead of trying to do it all at once then PEACE WILL REIGN IN OUR HEADS (hopefully). Stress and anxiety comes when our minds are racing at more than 150 miles per hour. When our minds are like this, we can’t think straight, we can’t make good decisions, we run about doing one thing and then another and in the end nothing actually gets done. So, make a plan, decide where to put things, decide what we don’t need or use anymore and give them to charity or recycle if they are not working anymore. Perhaps I will even draw a diagram of how I want the space to look, where I want things to go and then just GET ON WITH IT.
What actually is Joie de Vivre?
People have asked me why is one of your blog sections called Joie de Vivre? Well it is the fact that I love life, I love people, I love the message it gives and that message is this:
It means to allow yourself permission to explore, discover and experience new things and people. It means embrace all of life and know that the universe (ok, we’re going to get spiritual here) truly coincides with your innermost desires. So, desire and thrive on goodness, good intentions for all, creating a better world for all people.
Some may say well, that’s great and I really want joie de vivre, but reality says I have a 10 hours a day job five days a week, a mortgage to pay, plus three (3) kids and a spouse to support, your day job isn’t wonderfully fulfilling and your free time is rarely free. Joie de what?
But you’re missing the message here: Even the financially richest, most successful people continue to desire and seek out joie de vivre...true enjoyment of life and all that it has to offer. It’s not dependent on your income or status in life, its actually about your attitude and your perception of life events. It’s about understanding your purpose, getting comfy with it and practicing it. Great, you may say, but once I’ve figured it out, how to I maintain that mindset? How do I stay immersed in it, in everything I do?
It’s about being more settled, grounded, purposeful, intent on living ‘in the now’ (see last weeks post) and not worrying about the past or the future, because no amount of worrying will change them.
This may mean letting go of old conditioning and being a bit vulnerable. It may also mean to continually view your life as a small, but very meaningful part of a much bigger picture. It will mean understanding and accepting your “being” as an integral part of an interconnected, carefully patterned yet ever changing bowl of cosmic soup. You are indeed a unique and special soul in collective consciousness!
FIND YOUR PURPOSE
I heard someone the other day saying how they had a phobia that robots would one day take over from humans. She was scared because robots were becoming much more sophisticated, with cameras for eyes, rust proof bodies made from various metals, allowing them to operate in any sort of environment and weather. A controller for a brain, various mechanical parts and sensors allowing the robot to access anything and identify the amount of pressure necessary to apply to grab an item without crushing it.
Artificial intelligence is also known as machine intelligence or AI for short. Some computers and robots have been given the opportunity to act with human-like behaviour. Some have been given the ability to learn and to use information from previous activities to make future decisions. But as yet, we are in the relatively early stages of their development (thank goodness).
Although her phobia is real, I feel that she should not worry too much as there is one thing that will always differentiate between ‘them and us’ and that is that WE ARE ALIVE. We have been created with a beating heart in our chests, remarkable physical systems that defy the finest robotic innovators and, we don’t rust.
Furthermore, we aren’t mass produced, each of us being uniquely created with our own personalities, gifts, talents, backgrounds, faces and fingerprints. There is NO ONE LIKE YOU, there never has been and there never will be again.
When we get clear about what makes us a unique individual, we can understand much better what it is we have been called to do and what we can give to others. You can find your place and your purpose in the world. The combination of a successful career, a loving family, and a strong social network may seem like the recipe for a perfect life, but even those who can tick all of those boxes might feel like something is missing, and that “something” is their purpose in life.
A recent study found that individuals with high levels of eudemonic well-being—which involves having a sense of purpose along with a sense of control and a feeling like what you do is worthwhile—tend to live longer. But purpose and meaning is not something that can be determined quickly. The process requires plenty of self-reflection, listening to others, and finding where your passions lie. These seven strategies can help you reveal or find your purpose so you can begin living a more meaningful life.
By giving your time, money and or talent to others helps you feel wanted, like you are making a difference to others.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK
By asking others what reminds them of you or what they think of when you enter their mind will help you understand and reinforce some of the passions you’ve already been engaging in. Or you might take note when someone pays you a compliment or makes an observation about you. Write those observations down and look for patterns.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
If you’re surrounded by people who are making positive changes, you might draw from their inspiration. If you keeping the company of negative people, they may drag you down as it’s hard to feel passionate and purposeful when you’re surrounded by people who aren’t interested in making positive contributions.
TALK TO NEW PEOPLE
Talking to people outside of your immediate social circle can open your eyes to activities, causes or career opportunities that you never even knew existed. Go on, be brave, put down your phone and talk to someone new instead.
EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS
The things you like to talk about and the things you enjoy sharing on social media may reveal the things that give you purpose in life. Engage with others either physically or on social media and learn more about the things that excite you.
MUSE OVER ANY INJUSTICES THAT BOTHER YOU
Is there something that really ‘get’s your goat ?’ Some injustice such as animal welfare, civil rights, rehabilitation for various people, pensioners who are lonely, maybe the recent Black Lives Matter, or others that you feel you could make a difference too. If you feel so passionate about an injustice then get involved, give your time or money if you don’t have time and help the cause that affects you the most.
ASK YOURSELF - WHAT DO I REALLY LOVE TO DO?
By simply thinking about what you really love to do can help you find your true purpose and it may even lead you on a different career path. Consider what type of skills, talents, and passions you bring to the table. Then, brainstorm how you might turn your passion into something meaningful to you.
Finding your purpose is not something that can be done quickly or over a few days, it can take years and over those years, it may change. You can have more than one purpose too, don’t think you have to be limited to just one. Most of the time though, they are linked in some way. Maybe, when you were younger you liked working with animals but later on your journey took you to helping fight animal testing or human trafficking. If you are a beautician at the moment, your passion is helping others feel confident and attractive but in the future you may go on to want to help people who have suffered facial injury or similar. If you work in education perhaps your purpose is encouraging others to step out and learn as much as they can about the world and you may go on to help offenders learn to read or write and take a different path in their lives.
Who knows what you can do but by asking yourselves and exploring the 7 sections above may give you a better idea. Whatever you do, if you feel that the path you are on is not taking you in the direction you want to go, then you will know, it is time to CHANGE DIRECTION and find a new way.
Relearn - Restart - Retrain
This week is our sixteenth week at the cottage. For the last 4 months I have been writing about life’s up’s and downs, how to simplify your life, declutter, make use of your garden, cooking, spend more time practising gratitude, learning new skills, taking up new hobbies and more. I can’t quite believe I have found so much to write about, every week but I have. This blog has taught me so much about lots of new things and ideas. It all changed in March, like so many other people’s situations, when both of my incomes were taken from me. Jobs I really enjoyed, especially visiting care homes as a music therapist. Giving joy to the elderly residents gave me joy. Seeing their faces light up as a song we were singing or listening to brought memories immediately flooding back and tears pricking their eyes as they recalled happier times with, perhaps their husband or wife who was no longer with them. Dementia sufferers who maybe had not spoken for weeks, suddenly singing a song, word for word, remembering every single line. I found that incredible, a little miracle right in front of my eyes. And then, suddenly no more. No more could I give that joy, see their smiling faces and I felt sad. And it looks like I can’t take up my role in the near future due to the homes being locked down. I miss my elderly friends and I have been told, they miss me. I am worried they will forget me as their memories deteriorate further but I hope and pray that I will be able to take up my post again next year.
Another thing this blog has taught me is how complex we humans actually are. How we are all so very different yet exactly the same. We all have a beating heart, a brain, a mind, a body in which our inner most being, our soul if you like, lives, yet because of our experiences with the outside world, how different our lives are and can be. Some of us are lucky to born into love, comfort, warmth and kindness but others are born into poverty, perhaps violence, insecurity and cruelty. But the one thing we all have, no matter where we start from, is the fact that we can change our future. Admittedly, if you have been brought up with sufficient finances then you will have had more opportunities given to you but it’s up to you what you do with those opportunities. Some take it for granted, others make use of them. Others who have had a harder upbringing may not have those chances but will find a way of succeeding in life no matter what. It is just a question of us. Of how we use the cards we are dealt and how we make the most of our situations. At the end of the day, it’s up to us, no one else. We can stay where we are or we can take a chance and move on, move forward and change.
Blimey, I’m getting a little bit heavy here, sorry folks, I’ve been reading too many physiology books recently ha ha.
Well, I believe what I’m trying to say is even in these uncertain and very weird times, there is always something else we can do, to help others, to better ourselves, to serve others, to learn more to reach out to others and to just BE with others.
I recently trained and have now qualified after months of studying as a meditation Practitioner, hooray ‘yey me’ no I’m not boasting, I am just trying to say that out of the face of adversity came this realisation that I want to and must do/train for another career. As I sat thinking about it back in March and April when I became unemployed due to the lockdown, I realised my passion in life has always been helping people. Making people happy was the one thing I loved. Whether it began all those years ago when I was a dancer in many different shows and people came to be entertained and taken away for a few hours to places of glitter and fun, music and dancing, my pleasure came not only in performing but in seeing faces smiling and happy.
Later as a dance and drama teacher, seeing little children who came to my theatre school with a lack of confidence and concern that they were ‘no good ‘and couldn’t possibly be able to stand up on stage in front of hundreds of people, but they did. With gentle coaxing, encouraging and believing in them I was able to start them on the road to self belief and the enjoyment they can actually have working with others as part of a cast and at the end, standing in line and taking their bow and letting that applause wash over them as their new found confidence showed on their faces. It was amazing and again, I got so much joy from this but alas, this too has had to come to an end.
So what now,? What do I do? Well, after applying for many jobs, sitting a few interviews and not being successful, I have decided to invest in myself and yes, I am once again studying. For the next 6 months I am training with an excellent teacher to be a life coach. It is very involved but also very simple. I know that is a paradox but that’s the type of training it is.
So, by the time March 2021 comes along, my work life will have changed again but gone full circle in a year.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is, when life throws you a curve ball, lean into it, you never know where or what you’ll end up doing.
Good luck in whatever you do.
MONSTERS UNDER THE BED
For the last week I have been re-watching STRANGER THINGS on Netflix. The first time I watched it, I was, like thousands of fans, hooked. I binge watched it and I couldn’t wait to see the next episode and the next episode and then it STOPPED! The whole series came to an end but with the promise of another being made next year. We are still waiting but once again the Coronavirus has delayed filming. And so we have to wait.
If you have not seen it, I implore you to watch it. It comes from the imagination of the amazing Duffer Brothers and is set in a small town in America where ‘nothing ever happens’ but oh my goodness, it certainly does. Without giving anything away, let’s just say it plays on the story of “THE MONSTER UNDER THE BED syndrome.
When you were a child, did you have a monster under your bed? Were you scared of the dark? Did you worry yourself to sleep that something was lurking in the nether regions beneath your bed? As adults we can be rational about this as we know that there is absolutely no reason to be scared once the lights are off, however, for some people, that fear remains because they are afraid of what is actually in the dark rather than the dark itself. We feel more at risk in the dark as our vision is impaired, we can’t see what might be out there. This feeling is embedded in all of us and it comes from our cavemen ancestors who were most at risk by being attacked by predators. So you see, the fear does have legitimate origins. It has a name and it’s called Nyctophobia - fear of the dark.
This ‘fear’ though has many different reasons for its existence and it can be linked to so many things. Things that may of happened to you in the past or things that are happening now or even in the future. Here are a few examples:
THE FEAR OF BEING ALONE
There are a few variations on the fear of being alone and each may have different underlying psychological causes. One is fearing being alone in public. Self-Judgment. Many people who have this fear feel that they are being intensely scrutinised by those around them. You may become hyper-aware of the way you walk, talk, and perform other everyday actions. Becoming very critical of yourself is also common. If may be linked to feelings of inadequacy should an emergency situation arise, a common concern for many people who fear being alone even when in their own homes. It may be insecure attachment. You may worry about not having a safe haven to return to where the attachment figure, be it a parents or spouse has always been there for comfort and safety in the face of a fear or threat. The attachment figure acts as a base of security, once that figure has gone or perhaps passed away anxiety occurs in their absence.
What can we do to help ourselves if we suffer from this? If you are unable to handle this on your own, look to a wider support system. Talking on the phone or online is often enough to assuage immediate distress. Relay what you are thinking and feeling, offload your concerns to your friends. If they are true friends, they will always listen. Long-term, some families or friends can create rituals, such as having the same thing for dinner or sending special emails at the same time each night, to honour their relationships while they're apart.
THE FEAR OF REJECTION
This is another fear that may be linked to Nyctophobia.
The fear of rejection is a powerful fear that often has a far reaching impact on our lives. Most people experience some nerves when placing themselves in situations that could lead to rejection, but for some people, the fear becomes crippling. This fear can have many underlying causes. An untreated fear of rejection may worsen over time, leading to greater and greater limitations in a sufferer’s life.
Although not every person experiences every impact, the fear of rejection tends to affect our ability to succeed in a wide range of personal and professional situations. This fear can play havoc with anyone who has attended a job interview and is suffering from this phobia. Sweaty palms, trouble speaking and increased heart rate may all be symptoms and those suffering from this fear often come across as weak and insecure. Confidence and an air of authority are critical to getting a job and If you have a fear of rejection, it will come across during the interview.
Meeting new people can also be difficult if you have a fear of rejection, you may feel unable to chat with strangers or even friends of friends. The tendency to keep to yourself could potentially prevent you from making lasting connections with others.
First dates are scary for anyone, but those with a fear of rejection may quickly become overwhelmed. Rather than focusing on getting to know the other person and deciding whether you would like a second date, you might spend all of your time worrying whether that person likes you. Trouble speaking, obsessive worrying about your appearance, an inability to eat, and a visibly nervous demeanour are common.
In a marriage we have to compromise. It is impossible for two people to agree on everything Those with a fear of rejection often have difficulty expressing their own needs and standing their ground.
You might also develop feelings of jealousy or distrust in your partner as your fear of rejection turns into a fear of being abandoned This is sometimes expressed in such unhealthy behaviours as checking your partner’s phone messages or social networking accounts. A fear of abandonment is one of the greatest fears in all of us. As human beings we are made to want to be with others, to be part of a group, a tribe, a family, to belong. When things change and life alters for us it is natural to be scared of what the future holds, it is the unknown and so, it can become a phobia to some people. By the time we are adults, most of us have been through some significant changes—a death of a loved one, a friend moving away, a relationship ending, a transition from high school to college to marriage and parenthood. Although most of us adapt to changing circumstances, but for some, it is not uncommon to get stuck somewhere in the process of you grieving what once was.
Below are some signs of this particular fear of abandonment phobia:
- Feel insecure and unworthy of love
- Find it hard to trust people
- Are often jealous of everyone you meet
- Experience intense feelings of separation anxiety
- Have feelings of general anxiety and depression
- Tend to overthink things and work hard to figure out hidden meanings
- Are hypersensitive to criticism
- Contain repressed anger and control issues
- Engage in self-blame frequently
- Attach quickly—even to unavailable partners or relationships
- Fail to fully commit and have had very few long-term relationships
- Move on quickly just to ensure that you don't get too attached
- Aim to please
- Engage in unwanted sex (this is common in women)
- Stay in relationships no matter how unhealthy they are
- Struggle with being hard to please
- Have difficulty experiencing emotional intimacy
There are so many reasons that we might be scared of one thing or another but there is help out there. Many professionals believe that the most important causes of phobias are environmental triggers and learned behaviours. They argue that a phobia is ultimately a learned response to a stimulus. By ‘unlearning’ the response, the phobia can be cured. One of the ways is:
Cognitive Behavourial Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often the first-line of treatment for phobia. It can help you overcome the negative automatic thoughts that lead to phobic reactions, teaching you to gradually change the way you think to help you overcome your fear.
Hypnotherapy is a form of adjunctive technique that utilises hypnosis to aid in the treatment of different specific symptoms or conditions. Hypnotherapy works by inducing a hypnotic state that is marked by a state of waking awareness in which people experience detached external attention and a focus on inner experiences.
Meditation can soothe your nerves, making you more relaxed overall. Meditating before facing the situation can make your symptoms less severe. Research shows that mindfulness meditation, helps people with social anxiety disorder regulate their emotions better.
Help is out there, don’t suffer alone, we can and we will beat those ‘Monsters’ and keep them safely locked up where they belong, in STRANGER THINGS!
THE ENCHANTED KETTLE
More than 100 years ago, an old country doctor drove to town, hitched his horse, quietly slipped into a drug store by the back door, and began “dickering” with the young drug clerk.
His mission was destined to yield great wealth to many people.
It was destined to bring to the South of America the most far-flung benefit since the Civil War.
For more than an hour, behind the prescription counter, the old doctor and the clerk talked in low tones. Then the doctor left. He went out to the buggy and brought back a large, old fashioned kettle, a big wooden paddle (used for stirring the contents of the kettle), and deposited them in the back of the store.
The clerk inspected the kettle, reached into his inside pocket, took out a roll of bills, and handed it over to the doctor. The roll contained exactly $500 — the clerk’s entire savings!
The doctor handed over a small slip of paper on which was written a secret formula. The words on that small slip of paper were worth a King’s ransom! But not to the doctor! Those magic words were needed to start the kettle to boiling, but neither the doctor nor the young clerk knew what fabulous fortunes were destined to flow from that kettle.
The old doctor was glad to sell the outfit for five hundred dollars. The money would pay off his debts, and give him freedom of mind. The clerk was taking a big chance by staking his entire life’s savings on a mere scrap of paper and an old kettle! He never dreamed his investment would start a kettle to overflowing with gold that would surpass the miraculous performance of Aladdin’s lamp.
What the clerk really purchased was an idea! The old kettle and the wooden paddle, and the secret message on a slip of paper were incidental. The strange performance of that kettle began to take place after the new owner mixed with the secret instructions an ingredient of which the doctor knew nothing.
Read this story carefully, give your imagination a test! See if you can discover what it was that the young man added to the secret message, which caused the kettle to overflow with gold. Remember, as you read, that this is not a story from Arabian Nights.
Here you have a story of FACTS stranger than fiction, FACTS which began in the form of an idea.
Let us take a look at the vast fortunes of gold this idea has produced. It has paid, and still pays huge fortunes to men and women all over the world, who distribute the contents of the kettle to millions of people.
The Old Kettle is now one of the world’s largest consumers of sugar, thus providing jobs of a permanent nature to thousands of men and women engaged in growing sugar cane, and in refining and marketing sugar.
The Old Kettle consumes, annually, millions of glass bottles, providing jobs to huge numbers of glass workers. The Old Kettle gives employment to an army of clerks, stenographers, copy writers, and advertising experts throughout the nation. It has brought fame and fortune to scores of artists who have created magnificent pictures describing the product.
The Old Kettle has converted a small Southern American city into the business capital of the South, where it now benefits, directly, or indirectly, every business and practically every resident of the city.
The influence of this idea now benefits every civilised country in the world, pouring out a continuous stream of gold to all who touch it. Gold from the kettle built and maintains one of the most prominent colleges of South America, where thousands of young people receive the training essential for success.
The Old Kettle has done other marvellous things. All through the world depression, when factories, banks and business houses were folding up and quitting by the thousands, the owner of this Enchanted Kettle went marching on, giving continuous employment to an army of men and women all over the world, and paying out extra portions of gold to those who, long ago, had faith in the idea.
If the product of that old brass kettle could talk, it would tell thrilling tales of romance in every language. Romances of love, romances of business, romances of professional men and women who are daily being stimulated by it.
The author is sure of at least one such romance, for he was a part of it, and it all began not far from the very spot on which the drug clerk purchased the old kettle. It was here that the author met his wife, and it was she who first told him of the Enchanted Kettle.
It was the product of that Kettle they were drinking when he asked her to accept him “for better or worse.”
A world-famous success
Now that you know the content of the Enchanted Kettle is a world-famous drink, it is fitting that the author confess that the home city of the drink supplied him with a wife, also that the drink itself provides him with stimulation of thought without intoxication, and thereby it serves to give the refreshment of mind which an author must have to do his best work.
Whoever you are, wherever you may live, whatever occupation you may be engaged in, just remember in the future, every time you see the words Coca Cola that its vast empire of wealth and influence grew out of a single idea, and that the mysterious ingredient the drug clerk — Asa Candler — mixed with the secret formula was… imagination!
Why have I told you this story this week? Because it is one of the most amazing tales of how just one thought, one idea can turn into something incredible.
What is your idea?
Comparison is the Thief of Joy
Since I started this blog I have come to realise that even though we are all made in the same image, we are all different. How we look at things can have a profound effect on us and the outcome of the way we live our lives.
There is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
It evokes a powerful sentiment that can be life-changing. If we compare ourselves to others, we may be left with feelings of inferiority or superiority—and neither creates an emotionally healthy human being!
Trying to be something or someone you are not is not a good way to live our lives. You might be depriving yourself of the great things you already have and cursing yourself over the things you don’t. I’m not saying don’t strive for a better way of living if that is what you want, but get there in your own way, in your own time and you will feel a real sense of achievement.
The third law of physics, Newton’s Law states - For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words - What ever energy you put out into the world, that energy comes back to you. Ask yourself ‘does what I do feel unnatural or natural?’ ‘Am I really enjoying what I do for a living?’ ‘Am I living the life I really want to live, or am I just existing?’
You may have heard the sayings ‘Life is short’ You’re only here once’ I think these sayings have been passed down through generation to generation from people who maybe, on their deathbed wished they had done more, given more, helped others more, travelled more (difficult at the moment) and been in the moment more.
So we can find our calling.
What is the seed in your soul? Align who you are with what you are meant to do and be honest with yourself, compare yourself to know one. Tap into that higher power. Meditate on what you really want out of life. Do this regularly until you find the answer, dig deep inside your being and when you know, and you will know, then you will be ready to ask for it. But be specific in what you ask for, this is really important. Don’t just say I would like to travel more for example, be specific in where you want to go, what counties, what you want to see and what you want to get out of these experiences.
You get what you believe.
That is a very powerful statement so let’s dwell on it for a moment. What exactly does it mean? It means that if you believe, and truly believe in the power of you, the power of the universe or God if you have a religion, then you will get it. You will achieve it. You CAN achieve it! But you have to believe it.
For all intents and purposes I am going to call the universe or God, THE POWER from now on as each of us have different beliefs, so whenever I refer to The Power that is what I mean.
The Power is called that for one reason and one reason only It is the most Powerful. Just think about that for a moment. In our minds, body and spirit we have The Power. We have the power to be whoever and whatever we want to be. We have the power to change things for the better. We have the power to help others, to show gratitude for who we are and what we already have. Remember the 3rd law of physics - what we put out so shall we receive.
There is a bigger dream. The Power can see beyond what you dream but you have to find it and then ask for it. Surrender to The Power’s dream for you. In our lives we can have problems, or we can have goals. That’s a really interesting statement. It’s the way we look at life, our attitude to it and how we handle it. We can make our goals so big, so compelling and so inspiring that it can make our problems then seem insignificant. Most of us have it the wrong way round. We make our problems seem so big that our goals seem insignificant so we don’t ever act on them. We don’t believe it’s possible so we give up and we are then right back where we started and stuck in that same old place.
There are opportunities all around us all of the time, we just have to seen them and look out for them. The mindset of millionaires is you can recreate money at any time. Wow. Did you know that money is as abundant as oxygen! If the amount of money in the world today was divided up and given to each person, everyone from adult to child would have a million pounds each! There would be no poverty, no starvation, no inequality. But that is not going to happen unfortunately as the world just isn’t like that. But if each one of us can strive for a better and different mind set then we would be able to achieve our dreams. Once you have that dream, whatever it may be, a better job, security for your family, we can then give back more and more.
A passage from the bible states: Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” There is such a joy in giving back, but we can only give back if we have something to give back.
Last week I wrote about how we have been taught that it is wrong to ask for more, it’s greedy, it’s not right, we should be grateful for what we have. And we are grateful but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream, we can’t ask.
This piece is not about money but it’s about becoming what you feel your calling really is and if that calling enables you to have more opportunities in your life then so be it, there is nothing wrong with that.
So what are you going to pay attention to? What are you going to delete? If we surround ourselves with negative people, those negative people will have a detrimental effect on our psyche, our soul and our spirit. Think back to when you were a child and perhaps you were climbing a tree or walking along a wall. You were quite happy climbing or balancing on that wall and suddenly your mum or dad shouts out “ mind you don’t fall off, be careful, we don’t want you to fall and break your neck” ever heard that before?
So straight away doubts and a fear creep into your mind that weren’t there before. ‘Oh blimey, what if I do fall, what if i break my neck or my leg, I’d better get down, just in case’
I’m sure we can all relate to that. Now, your parent was saying that obviously because they care and don’t want you to fall, but that type of statement stays with us for life. It builds fear in things that we do. Maybe you have turned something down previously that you really wanted but felt NOT GOOD ENOUGH (we talked about this last week, see week 12) and so you don’t take that chance, that amazing job or opportunity because you fear failure.
You came into this world as new human being. All sparking and new, perfect with no flaws, just you a perfect little baby. But, the world does not help us to stay like this. This world says things like, ‘don’t be too happy, don’t be too sad, learn to cover yourself, cover over your feelings, don’t want too much, be happy with your lot etc etc.
But YOU ARE STILL THAT SPARKLING HUMAN BEING inside and out and each one of us has a gift that we need to share with others and to help us live the lives we want to live.
Our imagination is the best nation there is. I hope I have inspired you a bit more this week to believe in yourself and to know that it is alright to dream your dream, to ask for something you really want as long as we always give back and help others.
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH!
Do you ever look at people who seem to have everything? A fabulous car, a big house, gorgeous clothes, great job, amazing income, designer handbag etc etc.
Do you envy them? Are you jealous of what they have? Do you think, why them and not me?
Do you wonder how did they make their money and why can’t I do the same?
Well, if you do want all, or some of the above then that is a normal emotion. It’s natural to feel like that, it doesn’t make you a bad person to want those things but, what you must ask yourself is this - Why do you want those things? What is that yearning inside you that makes you feel you need those things. Do you want these things because they are driven by your ego to make you look good to other people? If you are seeking solace in these things, it won’t happen. Are you wanting them for the right reasons? Do you want to earn more money in order to help your family, support a charity, live a more comfortable life? That is fine to want that, that is normal, that is wanting them out of love. But do you feel their is a void in your life that by having these things will help you fill it?
The fact is they won’t.
We are indoctrinated by the media everywhere that tells us ‘if you buy this or that you will feel better, this car will change your life, this handbag will win you friends. Well my lovely friends, the truth is - CONSUMERISM MAKES YOU SPEND MONEY ON SHIT! Media manipulation makes us believe we are NOT good enough and if we buy this or that we will be good enough. BULLSHIT.
Here’s another question for you:
Do you feel that you should not ask for a more comfortable way of life out of fear of not being good enough?
Read that again and really think about that question for a minute.
If you do feel ‘not good enough’ this is known as IMPOSTER SYNDROME the definition being:
Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments or talents and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a "fraud”.
Umm, have you ever felt like that? I know I have.
I think, if we are being totally honest, we all feel a little like this sometimes, some maybe more than others. You see, these feelings are a product of a cycle that have been moving year after year through generations of people.
When we are born and up to the age of around 8 we take on board everything we hear from our parents, teachers, the television and the media etc but as a young child, we are not able to decide properly for ourselves or make certain decisions until we are older. So, we form a belief system based on what is around us. It keeps us enslaved to a way of limited thinking. Some adult’s whole lives are being run by their inner child belief’s of not being good enough. Not being clever enough, pretty enough, not smart enough. Society is not cultivated to helping us grow. Why do you think that most of the news on TV is bad? Negative news is sensational. It sells more. It is what the audience turns to most, it sparks the curiosity and ‘need to know’ of the viewer, and it increases the ratings of the show/channel for commercial reasons.
We are conditioned to think that our life has to be hard but, in order to make it better we need to buy certain things. Oh the power of advertising folks. Your brain has decided that in order to be good enough we MUST have these things
But lovely readers YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. We all just need a wake up call on this. We have the power to wake up our subconscious and tell ourselves we are worthy of this and that.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the power of the mind and the brain. Your thoughts come from your brain, they are the man made ego part of your soul so your brain has decided ‘you are not good enough. Your mind, how and what we think controls how your body behaves. AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. Think about it, if you are stressed, what happens, you might start hyperventilating, your skin might come out in a rash. If you are in love for the first time, you heart might ‘skip a beat’, your stomach might ‘turn over’. If you are embarrassed you might turn red. All of your emotions and feelings in your head act upon your body.
Therefore, if we feel ‘NOT GOOD ENOUGH’ and have experienced perhaps trauma in our lives possibly at a young age, at school or at home then those feelings will stay with us. Trauma as a child or a young person will stay with us forever unless we can retrain our brain. It could be that you did something at school, something really simple where you were laughed at by the whole class. You felt ashamed, embarrassed, not part of the group. It could be that you were taunted for being overweight, underweight, spotty, or not allowed to join the popular crowd. Mental health, especially amongst the young is growing at an alarming rate. One of the main reasons for this, I believe, is social media. Young people are bombarded with images of the perfect body, the perfect face, and the so called perfect life. Once again, have this, get that, buy this and you will have an amazing life but it’s just NOT TRUE. Once again it is the media. All of these things have an effect on our minds, WE CAN TURN THIS AROUND but it takes time and it takes practice.
We need to realise that not everything we were told as a child is true. Here are some of the statements you may have heard:
MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES
DON’T BE GREEDY
JUST BE COMFORTABLE
IF YOU HAVE TOO MUCH YOU WILL BE TAKING AWAY FROM THE NEEDY.
YOU CAN’T DO THAT, OUR SORT OF PEOPLE DON’T GO TO UNIVERSITY.
THE RICH GET RICHER AND THE POOR GET POORER.
Heard them before? I know I have and believe me, I don’t blame anyone, it’s just that they have been indoctrinated into believing it too.
Did you know that our brains have only developed or evolved 3% since we used to live in tribes thousands of years ago? Tribes still exist today, I suppose we call it the Class system in the UK. Working class, middle class and upper class. Where you come from does not have to define you but each tribe will have it’s own set of belief’s that we will have learnt as children. If you step outside your tribe, go against the grain of your parents, sometime will be met with resistance. Have you every heard “our type don’t do that, People like us can’t do that” Sounds familiar?
Heavy stuff this week folks but I am so passionate about helping you to realise that you are good enough, whether you want more money, a nice car etc or not, the main thing I want to help people with is to RESET OUR BRAINS TO BELIEVE IN OURSELVES, CLEAR ENERGETIC BLOCKAGES. We need to fall in love with ourselves, reset our factory settings. HOW?
There are lots of ways but as I said earlier it does take time and practice and I hope you help you over the coming weeks with this. There are different methods such as hypnosis, meditation affirmations, breath work, manifestation and obviously commitment.
I will write more next week but for now, I really hope I have begun to open your eyes to the possibilities ahead. Believe in YOU.
Download this worksheet to find out what your SWOT is. SWOT stands for STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITY AND THREATS.
LET IT GO
The other day, I helped a friend of mine clean and tidy a couple of holiday homes. Some were HUGE and some were tiny but the one thing they all had in common was the fact that they were all quite minimalist. Now I know holiday homes are not going to be stuffed full of belongings and trinkets (especially now with Covid 19) but obviously it made it so much easier to clean. This got me thinking about my own home. I pictured every room in my mind and suddenly became filled with horror at the amount of stuff that we housed in every possible nook and cranny. Yes there are five of us living there most of the time and I’m not saying we are hoarders but probably, like a lot of people, we do have an immense array of paraphernalia (love that word).
Since staring this blog, I have written quite a lot about decluttering and sorting out and yes, I have been true to my word and done some, but not every room, not yet, but seeing how easier it was to clean these houses inspired me to really go for it this weekend.
Experts at decluttering and sorting, work through each room methodically and calmly helping you to organise your home, making it more comfortable and easier on the eye. This in turn brings about a feeling of calm causing you less stress and anxiety every time you walk into a room. You are able to find things and to become more organised. They cost around £50 per hour so it can be quite costly but there are many decluttering tutorials on Youtube that can help and the articles and recommended sites I have written about before are really useful. So, my mission this weekend,
SORT OUT AND LET IT GO!
MIND FACTS AND LEGACIES
Did you know that the average human attention span is only 8 seconds. Pardon? what did you say? Sorry I lost concentration for a minute. Well yes, we are all a bit like that now and then aren’t we. Don’t you just hate it when you are trying to have a conversation with someone and they keep looking around, over your shoulder, at their watch, it really is infuriating. It can be difficult to hold someone’s attention for a long time. Their mind might be elsewhere, thinking of what to have for dinner, did I post that letter or did I pay that bill. We all suffer from lack of attention now and again. A friend of mine recently said ‘ it’s like my mind is elsewhere, I’m thinking of ten thousand things at once, or it seems like it.’
Our minds are powerful things you know.
Short term memory can only store 7 pieces of information for 20 seconds
Your mind as a computer, could hold 2.5 Gigabytes or 300 years of TV shows
Your mind cannot form memories when drunk - that’s why I couldn’t remember getting that tattoo! ha ha
It has an average of 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day - wow - what on earth are we thinking about?
95 percent of all decisions take place in the subconscious mind. This means that the vast majority of our actions and behaviours occur due to brain activity that lies beyond our conscious awareness.
The brain itself cannot feel pain.
WHAT WILL BE YOUR LEGACY?
I read somewhere the other day, an article on LEAVING A LEGACY. Now I know people don’t ever want to think about not being here anymore, dying, not being around but I’m sorry readers but one day it will happen, to all of us. Not to get morbid (I’m here to bring joy not misery) but don’t think of it like that, think of it like writing a list of things we want to do, accomplish. What are your biggest dreams? Do you want to challenge yourself at something? Do you want to beat something?
This week, have a think. Some people call it a bucket list but I prefer to call it a list of my life’s purposes.
Here are some ideas:
To visit a place you have never been before but always wanted to go.
To swim in each of the four major oceans.
Ride in a hot air balloon
Spend more time just sitting and talking to someone you love
Adopt an unwanted animal.
Bungee jump (not for me)
Take a road trip
Sleep under the stars in one of the those see-through yurts.
Take your mum or dad out for tea before it’s too late.
Further your education
These are just a few and I’m sure you can think of loads more. Ask yourself -
WHAT WOULD I LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?
AND WHAT WILL BE MY BEST ACHIEVEMENT?
ARE YOU SCARED OF BEING JUDGED?
Do you ever not do something because you have a fear of other people judging you and your work?
You don’t want to deal with negative comments or nasty emails. You can’t face criticism from others. Does it make you scared and uncomfortable? Does this fact stop you from
maybe doing something or doing your best work ever, be it creative, practical or academic?
Well, unfortunately as someone once said, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” and that dear readers, is very true.
People are going to judge other people, it is human nature but it doesn’t mean they are right, it’s just their opinion.
We all judge each other depending on our likes and dislikes, personal taste and ideas.
Sometimes people will say ‘Oh I love your latest work/picture/product’ etc but others will give a negative response. The trouble is, as human beings, we instantly take it personally.
As humans we have a basic need to be liked. We need to feel part of a group, a family, a team, a partnership. It gives us security, strength and a sense of belonging, it’s how we are made. So when we hear a derisive comment, we can often feel deflated and rejected.
Since writing this blog I have been lucky enough to receive some amazing and complimentary comments about how it is helping others, how they feel some of the information is helping them with their various issues etc. But I know that not everyone will always be so kind. I will be judged at some point but that’s ok. What feels inspiring to some people might feel like vanity to another. If one person finds comfort from reading a certain post, another might find it inappropriate.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and as long as it doesn’t involve name calling and abuse then, as someone who writes for the public, I have to accept that not everyone will be a fan. That is life. At some point in our lives we have been and we will be judged for things we do. We will also judge others.
If you are a person who doesn’t care what others say or think of you then you are very lucky, but most people prefer to have the blessings of others. We feel like we are doing a great job, we are helping others, it gives us self worth and we feel appreciated.
So remember this, if you are on the receiving end of a negative remark, email, letter or comment, keep in mind all of the lovely things people have said about you and what you do. Drag up how you felt when someone encircled you with appreciation, love and kindness. Hold those people and their words in your heart. You are stronger than the worst piece of criticism. You are stronger than any negative comment. YOU ARE STRONG, KIND, RESILIENT AND LOVING. Believe in yourself and do you BEST WORK and don’t let anyone else stop you.
Is this pandemic making us mean and irritable?
As you have been going about your daily lives, have you come across people who seem to have lost all respect for other people?
If you live in a holiday resort same as us here at the Violet Cottage, it has become very apparent with the more and more visitors we get, that people don’t seem to be quite as friendly as in normal years.
Now, I’m not saying it’s everyone, but there has been a definite change in the mood, shall we say.
Why has this happened? Why are people moaning about, what seems, to be almost everything? Well, I’m not actually sure but I believe this virus has caused so much stress (see Health section for Meditation)and anxiety for some that it has literally changed their attitude to some things.
The problem with that is the fact that all respect for other people seems to have gone out of the window, so to speak.
It has frayed emotions, making them become easily irritated and feel that they are entitled to certain services in restaurants, holiday homes and shops etc.
I have heard of people in clothes shops, refusing to use a hand sanitiser, resulting in the shop assistant having to steam all of the items that the said customer had touched!
People in holiday homes demanding cleaners to return to the apartment to ‘re clean’ it because the customer wanted the inside of all of the radiators hoovered and to pick off 3 dog hairs on the sofa that had already been hoovered within an inch of it’s sofa life!
So what is it?
Some say people are trying to get refunds on their bookings so that they don’t have to pay for their holiday’s and using the virus as an incentive to do that.
It is sad and it can, and has got nasty. You only have to look at the news to see various stories about people being treated badly or disrespectfully.
So COME ON EVERYONE let’s be nice. We are all going through a weird time, a weird year but if we all try, smile, engage with others in a nicer way and treat others as we would want to be treated, then we can and will get through this, together.
STOP STRESSING AND DO ONE THING AT A TIME
This week is more about doing one thing at a time rather than trying to do 10,000 things at once.
Do you ever wake up and thing “Oh my goodness, I have so many things to do today, how the hell am I going to fit them all in? What to do first? How will I ever get them finished?
Does this sound like you?
If it does, does it make you anxious? (see Health section this week)
Do you look at your laptop and see loads of tabs open?
This tendency to try to do a whole bunch of things seems to be a natural result of my wanting to get everything done as soon as I can. I switch between one thing and the next trying to get each and everything do.
Is this why I can’t always focus?
My mind is whirring round and round ahhhhh!
So I say to myself - STOP! This is ridiculous. Breathe, focus, prioritise.
And then I say to myself, it’s Ok, I will now do one thing at a time and tick off as I go. Start with the most important job, prioritise in order of importance. Write a list. As you complete each task, cross it though. The satisfaction of doing this will help you to feel like you have accomplished something satisfactory.
Respond to just one email. Wash one cup, one plate. Watch one short video. Write that letter. Iron one thing, make one bed. In doing all of this and without knowing, you are practising Mindfulness. You are letting go of the worry of trying to do everything at once and you are allowing yourself to calmly and steadily do one job at a time.
You are letting go and being fully there.
Joie de vivre really just means the Joy of Life and I all we ever want for our selves and our family and friends is to just be happy and healthy. But it’s not always easy is it? Recent events have put so many of us under pressure but I always try and bring you some joy every week with my blog and I do hope you are enjoying it.
A SENSE OF GOOSE
Autumn is coming and the next time you see the many geese heading south for the winter, flying along in a V formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way.
As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following.
By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
PEOPLE WHO SHARE A COMMON DIRECTION AND SENSE OF COMMUNITY CAN GET WHERE THEY ARE GOING MORE QUICKLY AND EASILY BECAUSE THEY ARE TRAVELLING ON THE THRUST OF ONE ANOTHER.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone. It quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.
IF WE HAVE AS MUCH SENSE AS A GOOSE, WE WILL STAY IN FORMATION WITH THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE HEADED IN THE SAME WAY AS WE ARE.
When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing, and another goose flies point.
IT IS SENSIBLE TO TAKE TURNS DOING DEMANDING JOBS, WHETHER WITH PEOPLE OR WITH GEESE FLYING SOUTH.
Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
WHAT MESSAGES DO WE GIVE TO OTHERS WHEN WE HONK FROM BEHIND?
Finally and this is important, when a goose gets sick or injured and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies. Then, and only then do they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their group .
IF WE HAVE THE SENSE OF A GOOSE, WE WILL STAND BY EACH OTHER LIKE THAT ALWAYS.
The Real Cost of the Fashion Industry
It's claimed that the garment industry is the second worst polluter in the world.
Nowadays we have 4 times the amount of clothes in our wardrobes than our parents did.
In the UK over one million tons of clothes go into landfill every year, that equates to around 70lbs of landfill waste per person.
Although we have more clothes we are not actually any happier.
Fast fashion has turned us into passive consumers who are constantly chasing a fantasy that having more will make us happier.
We are being constantly bombarded by marketing campaigns and hollow brands that promise empty lifestyles and poor quality products and tell us that what we have is NOT GOOD ENOUGH, that we NEED TO SHOP AND BUY MORE and then we will be happier. But it doesn’t work like that.
As we already know so many people who make our clothes are working day and night in far away countries, quite often in appalling conditions and probably paid a pittance.
Consumers blame the brands and the brands blame the consumers saying that everyone wants something for nothing and that consumers won’t pay a lot for a garment.
Activists blame the brands for prioritising profit over the health and welfare of people in the sweat shops.
So is it possible that fashion and sustainability can truly co exist? How can all of the different players in this industry collectively work to transform the situation?
It turns out that the fashion industry works like this - TAKE - MAKE - WASTE
We TAKE from our environment.
We MAKE the clothes with very little regard for the consequences.
Then the WASTE - because the clothes hold very little value, we may wear them once or twice and then throw them out in the rubbish. Did you know how long it takes for a T shirt to biodegrade? 200 years!
FACT: It takes around 2,700 litres of water to make just ONE T SHIRT so, if you own, on average, 15 T. shirts, that equates to 40,500 litres of water to make them. Cotton is grown using pesticides. They say that in one cotton T shirt, 500 grams of pesticides are used and globally we produce over one billion T. shirts.
Now, if the T. shirts are not organic cotton, this means that there is added water pollution caused by the runoff of the pesticides and by products from the factories making the garments.
So, what can we do?
The alternative is to buy organic cotton which is grown using no pesticides but it is normally 10% to 20% more expensive.
But do we really care? Do we say “Oh it’s not going to matter if I buy just one more thing, one more thing is not going to make any difference in this vast planet of ours”
But, if we all stopped and didn’t buy that one more thing, then surely things would start to alter.
So what can we do? How can we help?
Well for a start we can look to brands that have transparency in their supply chain, that tell us where and who make their clothes, who have limited production, who pay fair wages.
Take a look in your wardrobe? How many T shirts and tops do you have? How many pairs of trousers/jeans? How many dresses and skirts? We could go on? Next how many times have you worn each item? When did you last wear x, y or z?
We come to realise that the number of items we have no longer really have any value. Experiences we have yes, they have value and memories but clothes (unless it is something you wore for a special day) have no real value.
Sustainable fashion is about values. We have to decide what we value. We have to decide on how we spend our money and how we care for the clothes we already have. We have to take responsibility for our own choices.
One of the skills that has been lost by many is sewing, especially hand stitching a garment. The recent series of THE SEWING BEE has really ignited a passion for make do and mend and for making our own garments. The recent series was won by Clare Bradders. For 3 years she has hardly bought any clothes and instead has made her own. She does this for environmental and ethical reasons. She is a great role model for us all and I highly recommend her instagram page. Check her out this link. https://www.instagram.com/p/CDcAs5RgGzS/?igshid=19008i1887bh6
Sewing is a way to release your creativity and it is a great way to relax either with friends or on your own. It can be a social thing, instead of watching the TV or aimlessly scrolling the internet, we can create and talk to each other at the same time. What we really want is to feel more connected to others and to nature.
There are also apps now such as GOOD ON YOU and RANK A BRAND and FAIR FASHION that we can download that tell us the ratings of different clothing brands and their ethical practices, this helps us to become more knowledgeable and feel more empowered about how to spend our money.
Obviously buying second hand clothing is a great practice. Charity shops are full of amazing bargains, some have quite a lot of designer items too.
Swap with your friends. Get together, either in the garden or somewhere else and arrange a clothes swap day.
We all wear clothes and we are all connected.
Put Some FIZZ in Your Loo!
I was recently asked to try a home-made, eco friendly loo cleaning product made by Hannah Wells. They are called HHH Toilet Fizzies
They look like a bath bomb but come in different pretty shapes. They are made from natural ingredients and are not harmful to the planet at all. Hannah asked me to sample them and write about my experience using them.
I was very excited to try these little Fizzies and rushed home to find a pretty paper bag on our door stop. I carefully opened the bag and oh, the smell was just divine. Not a strong chemical smell that you sometimes get with cheaper products, but a wonderful aroma of essential oils and natural fragrances. Inside were 6 different sized Fizzies and I couldn’t wait to drop one in the loo. I choose a medium sized one and dropped it in. Immediately the fizz started and I loved the sound and then, the smell. It was so fresh with such a clean fragrance and seemed to last a long time. When we next visited the loo, the smell was still there. The great thing about these Fizzies is the fact that not one chemical has been used in making them but your loo gets a good clean and smells fabulous. And the best thing about them is they are environmentally friendly and no danger to the environment.
Here is how Hannah describes her Fizzies
“I decided to make these toilet Fizzies because to many of our toilet cleaning products contain bleach or a range of harmful chemicals that are not only hazardous to us but to our environment and waterways. So I decided to have a go at making a non toxic approach to cleaning toilets and ill try anything to make cleaning easy!!
With a few simple ingredients of citric acid, fresh lemons, (safe, environmental friendly) essential oils and the most important ingredient bicarbonate of soda which is a fantastic natural cleaning product in itself!
They come in a variety of scents currently, fresh lemon, lavender and sweet orange.
I will be selling these for £6 for 12 or £10 for 24. In plastic free packaging! “
Hannah’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/HannahHomeHelp/
If you would like to order any of these lovely fizzies and I recommend you do, you can also email Hannah email: firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order.
Like many of us, Hannah is a small business and it is great to be able to support people like her. If anyone knows of someone who would like me to test any of their products and provide a piece of editorial to promote them, then please contact me on email@example.com
Slowly, Slowly Catchy Monkey
This is an old English proverb meaning that if you do not rush or if you avoid being too hasty, then eventually you will achieve your goal - in other words, be patient and slow down.
Each and everyday our attention is always being pulled away from one thing or the next, such as the daily commitments, responsibilities, family life and work.
But we need to try and live and be in the present. To appreciate what is around us. To put our phones down, to stop, breath and notice. Notice people, places, surroundings, birds, flowers, colours, smells, faces and places. Do a little ritual for yourself. These little rituals don’t have to be very long, five minutes, 10, whatever suits you. Something so simple as a cup of tea (see Health). Relish the making of it, watching the colour emerge in the cup, if you add sugar, watch as it gradually dissolves, watch as the milk turns it another colour. Smell it, sit some where quiet without any distraction and savour it. It helps you to stop and slow the world for just a little bit. It begins to ground you and to introduce slower more simpler living one ritual at a time.
Living slower and simpler in this world of ours today totally goes against the grain but that’s ok. It’s ok, take your time. There will be times when it will be impossible, some days it will be easy. It won’t happen over night but it will happen. Choose slow, choose gratitude, choose a new way of life for you.
Ideas for things to do to make you take a deep breath and slow down.
Take a walk at dusk or in the moonlight.
During the summer evenings, lie down on a blanket with a loved one and gaze up the stars.
Walk barefoot on the beach or in your garden. Stop and feel the sensations on your feet.
Practice the habit of "Hygge. It is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary, as cosy charming or special.
Dim the lights and light candles instead
Decorate the inside with the outside. Think wooden floors, sheepskin rugs, log piles in the winter, garlands of flowers etc.
Read a book.
Bathe by candlelight.
Switch off your phone.
Soak your feet in warm water fragranced with an essential oil.
Stroke a cat or a dog.
Dance (see below for our favourite new playlist!)
Download Google Earth and see the wonders of our beautiful world.
A gift to you from us all at the cottage. Chill out and dance to this playlist. xx
As we get older and we go through the various stages of life, we sometimes realise that not everyone thinks and feels the same as us. We can become more cynical about people especially if we have had any bad experiences along the way. This said, the majority of people, I feel, still have good hearts but here is always a tendency to see and hear only bad news on the media in order to sell more stories.
What I’m trying to say is the more we are subjected to ‘the negative press’ and ‘bad news’ the bigger effect it can have on our state of mind. It can make you feel insecure. It can make you feel that we are not worthy, we are not good enough, what’s the point? We can get discouraged. If you are a creative sort of person, you can be made to feel that what you do is NOT A PROPER JOB! How I hate it when people say that. When I was a professional dancer back in the day, we used to have to meet all of the dignities of whatever town we were performing in after the first show. After shaking hands with the mainly men and their inflated egos, they would say in a patronising manner
“and what is your real job, what do you do in the day?”
Smiling behind gritted teeth, I would say this is my REAL JOB!
Anyway, what is this all about I hear you cry. The point I am trying to make here is that by allowing some people to infiltrate our lives and/or our minds in a negative way can have a real detrimental effect on us., It’s called THE POWER THEY HAVE OVER US. We can get discouraged from doing the things we really want to do causing us to believe we can’t do it, whatever IT may be.
When you start something new, a new project, a new hobby, a new belief, a new job (even, this blog, my Etsy shop!) it is very exciting. We put all of our energy into making it a success, making it work, creating, promoting, pitching, putting up flyers, talking to possible clients on and on. You can begin to feel like you are pleading with people, begging them to like what you do. This does not feel good. You want people to like you, to like what you do, to want to read your words, buy your stuff, buy your services because you believe in them so WHY DON’T THEY? And then you can hit a plateau, you start to doubt yourself, you start to think has it all been worth the time and the money? Shall I just quit now? So what have you done? You have given the power to other people. How can we stop it? We must break this cycle. BUT HOW?
Stop waiting for someone else to say yes and start to say yes to yourself.
You want to be an author, write and be your own publisher.
You want to speak about something you are passionate about -invite people, host your own event and speak at it.
You need to go to those cool parties but you don’t ever get invited - throw your own party.
You want to be a motivational speaker but no one is listening or inviting you - invite some people round to your house for food, drinks and a motivational talk.
Be generous to others and others will start to be generous to you. Turn your thoughts around see DIG section of blog - PRATISPAKSHA BHAVANA
We can wait and keep waiting for others to say yes to us but the secret really is to say yes to yourself. Don’t wait, instigate things yourself.
Open the door to yourself, give yourself back the power and when you do, the most beautiful thing happens, you open the door to others and help them.
IT'S TIME TO DISCOVER YOUR WHY
Everyone has a WHY. Do you know yours? There is a website https://simonsinek.com/find-your-why/ that helps you to find our what your WHY is. It states that:
The WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.
It shows us how to discover what it is we really want to do, to not be afraid of doing it, to keep going when being told “you can’t do that” or “that won’t work”. To find ways of not giving up hope and to believe in themselves, their work and their relationships. It shows the science of WHY meaning - The whole concept of WHY is grounded in the tenets of the biology of human decision making. How the Golden Circle works maps perfectly with how the brain works. To find out more and to help you to reveal your WHY go to the above website. Some of the information is free or pay what you can and some is paid in advance. Written and presented by Simon Sinek an unshakable optimist. He believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.
Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Simon has devoted his professional life to help advance a vision of the world that does not yet exist; a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work that they do. It’s a bit American but he seems like a nice enough guy. He first describes the Golden Circle. Three rings with the words WHO, HOW AND WHY written inside them. This is the start of your journey to finding out what is your WHY. There are many lessons on there but I found this podcast really interesting for starters. It’s worth a listen https://simonsinek.com/podcast
In the near future I will be inviting a few people to come and listen to me speak. If you would like to be one of those people and give me feedback afterwards, then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also be recording it for people who can’t make it. I feel that this is my future work, this is my way to go, I think I have found my calling and am looking forward to helping as many people as I can.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
The past few months have been a complete turnaround. My livelihood was taken away from me but we still had bills to pay like everyone else.
Now, I like to think of myself as a fairly optimistic person, my faith plays a huge part in that but I must admit I was concerned about not having a regular income. However, I decided I would write about the situation and to see if anyone else might be interested. And, here we are, the 4th week of my blog and small online shop and, I’m loving it. Nearly 50 subscribers and regular sales, not bad in just one month.
I suppose what I am trying to say is the old saying “out of something bad comes something good”.
This situation has forced career and lifestyle changes for millions of people and sometimes, when you don’t have a choice, you just have to go with it.
But what of this life now? How have things changed for you? How can we be happy with this monster we call Covid 19 still looming over us?
We can start by doing what makes us happy? We can try and fill our lives with as much joy as we can? It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It’s things that we may have let slide or not have had time for previously.
Everyone’s definition of joy is different and we certainly shouldn’t follow someone else’s version of happiness. So, how do we do it? Where do we start?
Think about your version of a joyful life. Imagine all the things that you need to be happy in life.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
C - Cardiovascular - lowers your risk heart disease
H - Health - Better physical health
E - Energy - Gives you more
E - Expectancy - Longer life expectancy
R - Relaxes you
F - Fitter - Keeps you fitter
U - Ups your motivation
L - Lead a calmer life
Right so now we know why we should be living a more joyful life it will help to know how.
It is very sad when you hear someone say, “ I should have,” “I wish I had,” “I might have had”. They are living with regrets and resentments about things they have or haven’t done in the past. Let's learn from this. Let’s start (cliche coming up) a BUCKET LIST. Tick it off one by one.
Find Your Passion
Draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper then draw 10 smaller circles around the first one. In each smaller circle write down 10 things you are really passionate about. Take a look at each one and see which ones compliment each other drawing a line from them to the large one in the middle. After a while you should see a pattern emerging of the main things you are really passionate about. This helped me and guided me to what I really wanted to do.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Take yourself off somewhere quiet, be among nature. There is a scientific explanation to this. It says that when we observe the beauty of nature, our bodies produce lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines that makes our mood better. Maybe take a picnic, lie down by a stream, gaze at the clouds, feel the sun on your face. Breathe in the fresh air, be amongst green things. Walk barefoot. look up.
Take Care of Your Bod.
Exercise, what ever form it takes. Run, jump, skip, dance (see JIGGLE) stretch, do yoga. If you don’t feel good about yourself then you won’t feel happy.
There is no such joy than knowing that you have added value in someone else’s life — however small or big that contribution may be.
When you give back to society, you feel a sense of purpose and generosity.
Invest In Yourself
Read inspirational books, watch videos that stimulate your own growth. Turn off the news, (most of it is depressing anyway) Watch a happy film.
Subscribe to Wellbeing Blogs (hello!)
“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or what you’ve accomplished… It’s all about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” - Denzel Washington.
We only get one life folks so let’s start by bringing joy into this one right now.
My joy comes from helping others to find themselves, giving them confidence and lifting people up to realise just how special they are.
Thank you for your support lovely readers.
How to Declutter
It all sounds very good I hear you cry but where on earth do I start? - Start by just doing 10 mins a day for the first week.
What can I do in 10 minutes?
1. Clean out the rubbish in your car.
2. Clean and tidy your bedside table.
3. Go through a pile of paper or junk mail.
4. Pick up any toys that are lying around in any of the rooms in your house and put them back where they belong.
5. Go through a shelf in the kitchen, sorting mugs or cups and keeping only the ones you really like.
6. Choose one shelf, take off anything you either don’t like or doesn’t belong there.
7. Go through your medicine cupboard in your bathroom, getting rid of any out of date items or things you no longer use.
8. Go through ‘that drawer’, the one we all have, full of things we don’t know where else to put them.
9. Grab one cardboard box, walk all the way through your house and fill it in 5-10 minutes with as much stuff as you can that you no longer want.
10. Go through your underwear drawer and throw out any old items you have not worn for months.
When should I start? - Whenever you get the feeling of being overwhelmed by possessions and the feeling of heavyness or being tied down.
How should I start - Firstly choose a room, next choose 10 items you want to throw away, recycle, 10 items you want to donate to charity and 10 items you want to keep
What about my clothes - Take everything you own and put it on your bed. Consciously go through each item. If you have not worn it in 6 months then it is time to either be sold, given away or if not suitable for wear anymore, give it to a clothes bank.
Will it make my home look empty - No, in fact, it will give you a feeling of inner peace. You can view your home as space of rest and comfort instead of a source of stress.
*EXTRA TIP: Take before and after photos of each room that you declutter. Once you see the difference it will give you a real sense of achievement and your JOY WILL BE WELL AND TRUELY SPARKED!*
What is this new movement COTTAGECORE?
Well, neither had I until my twenty three year old daughter introduced me to it.
Definition: COTTAGECORE is an online movement which mainly younger people have started following. It is an Internet aesthetic which celebrates a return to traditional forms of living such such as foraging, baking and pottery, growing your own veg and herbs etc and living a much more simple and uncomplicated life.
As this is the absolute ethos of our blog, I started to do some some research on it.
I talked to various people and the consensus of opinion is the fact that a lot of the younger generation are sick and tired of the pressure they are under to achieve this, to buy that, to look a certain way and to aspire to HAVING IT ALL. Broadly speaking, COTTAGECORE helps to calm their hyper stimulated nerves, it means turning away from capitalism to live on a farm or in a lovely country cottage. Increased interest in COTTAGECORE in the midst of the pandemic both makes sense but also feels a bit paradoxical.
Now we know that this type of life isn't realistic for everyone but it doesn’t stop us having a slice of it. Even if you live in a small flat you can make your own bread, grow herbs in a windows box or in flower pots or old mugs. You can surround yourself with plants that can thrive on little sunlight. Teach yourself a new skill such as crochet or knitting. Take a bike ride and go foraging for berries etc. Simple living.
Here is a recent quote from 16-year-old Redditor InfamousBees who lives in Minnesota.16 year old girl in America.
“Cottagecore for me, is sort of a dream way of living,”
“It's all about softness and being gentle,
and kind, and nurturing. All things I haven't been able to find in past friendships.”
The main reason for introducing you, our readers to this movement is to get excited. Why? Because at last, younger people are perhaps seeing that there is another more simpler way to live. They don’t have to strive to have everything. These past few months have been so difficult, especially for the youth. Their schools, have closed, some have missed their graduation ceremonies. They have not been able to see their friends, go out to festivals, parties etc (a good way for them to let off steam). Just recently, our younger daughter has had to defer her university place due to not being able to be taught by actual teachers in lecture halls but instead, told that she would have to learn via video. There is no work for many of them. They feel depressed, anxious and let down.
Hopefully, things are improving but I for one, welcome COTTAGECORE with open arms.
How wonderful that the youth are embracing kindness, nurturing each other, caring for the earth and all it gives to us.
So I say “well done and am donning my headscarf as I write!
If you fancy one you can get yours at
BIG IDEAS - BIG IMPACT!
Part of living more simply is to do things that make you happy and that have less impact on our beautiful planet. This week we look at various ways we can start to make a difference.
Big ideas, big impact
Not only in mind but in body too. Did you know that one long-haul flight can amount to half a UK person’s yearly carbon footprint - so opt for more local holidays and travel by train where you can.
BE A PLANT BASED TREND SETTER - cutting down on meat and dairy will slash your environmental impact – from carbon emissions to water consumption and deforestation.
CONSUME LESS AND BETTER : Research shows that buying more stuff doesn’t make us happy. The planet will thank you for buying less, and investing in better quality products.
REPAIR BROKEN THINGS - Have you become obsessed with the latest offering from the BBC THE REPAIR SHOP. If not, it is a programme about taking old things to this large barn where many amazing artisans are able to repair much loved items from times gone by. It has inspired so many people, young and old to, if not repair, then to upcycle items instead of throwing them into landfill.
RECYCLE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN – from food waste and packaging and old clothes and shoes to batteries. Zero waste
Avoid using things that can’t be recycled easily - invest in reusable items like a water bottle, lunch box, coffee cup, cutlery and produce bags for fruit and veg. I recommend this wonderfully colourful shop - LIFT - that sells the most amazing reusable items in vibrant colours and at very good prices. Check it out https://www.lift-store.co.uk/
BUY LESS STUFF – Charity shops are full of bargains to be had on clothes, books, shoes, furniture and many household items and it’s a great way to stop stuff going into landfill by recycling and reusing things. Oxfam also have an amazing vintage shop - https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/vintage?pscid=ps_ggl_Google+-+Trading+-+OOS+-+Brand_brand_vintage_exact&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwJKhxsKr6gIVxevtCh0d4
SHARE STUFF - like tools with your neighbours, maybe if you borrow someone’s lawnmower you could bake them a cake or let them use something or yours.
SWAP STUFF - swap books and films with your friends, family or neighbours, maybe start a little neighbourhood library in the street where you live.
BUY LOCAL - Instead of trolling around the massive supermarkets why not try out your local shops. It’s amazing what can be found in them, locally produced fruit and veg, free range meat, eggs, cheese, bread etc plus you are helping a small business and not stuffing the pockets of a large conglomerate. (Remember to take your own bags!). We have some gorgeous shopping bags on sale in our store this week. https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/827937561/reversible-100-cotton-bags-fish-turtle?ref=shop_home_active_7
REDUCE FOOD WASTE - One of the best things we have done lately is to get a compost bin. We got it free from a site called Freecycle where you can offer and request things for free (obviously) https://www.freecycle.org/.
You can chuck in all manner of food waste such as all veg peelings, old teabags, egg shells, grass cuttings, even shredded paper and so much more. When its all mulched down (takes a few months) you can then spread it around your home growing veg.!
Travel and transport
TAKE TO YOUR BIKE - One in four car trips in the UK are under a mile. I have been trying to use my bike a lot more and to be honest I really enjoy it. I got myself a lovely basket which is big enough to carry shopping and it really has made a difference. I feel better and fitter for it. There are lots of bikes available to buy second hand on places like Marketplace so you don’t need to pay loads for one and you’ll save money and feel better for it.
GET OUT YOU BUTT!
This is my next challenge - to find a water butt an old water butt to put in the garden so I can harvest rainwater for watering plants.
MAKE SOMEONE'S DAY - SEND A LETTER
Send a hand written letter to a friend or family member, or just someone you really appreciate.
People still love receiving letters via Snail mail. Take time, make tea, take a pen, sit someone beautiful and write from the heart.
You’ll make someone’s day.
Meaning - the joy of life or living.
It means to acknowledge life’s ups and downs and take life in stride. It means to appreciate all the small things which might normally go unnoticed. It means to be grateful for everything you DO have instead of wanting the next best thing. It means don’t stress over things you can’t control/change. It means make good choices which bring you joy and allow your soul to expand. It means choose to NOT struggle.
How do you practice simplicity?
It's functioning through your true self to live a simple life. It's getting good at being simple. Self simplicity becomes the clarity in which you find meaning. It's the removal of the unnecessary. ...
Self simplicity is the intersection of self-care and minimalism.
De clutter one room at a time sorting through items and things that have not been used for say 6 months to one year. Give those things away to either friends, neighbours or to charity. The joy that it brings to GIVE is wonderful and you will have more space in your home.
Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.
Build an emergency fund of at least £1000, or more if you can. I know it's not much in this day and age but just to know you have at least some money as a small back up will give you piece of mind.
Never be afraid to ask people for help. Most are only willing to oblige with many different things. People often get stressed because they try and do things on their own as they don't want others to think they are a failure. This causes more stress.
You don't have to change everything at once. If you try to it will cause you even more stress. One thing at a time is ideal. Prioritise what is the easiest thing to change first and the hardest thing last. It it is one change a week or even once a month you will feel you are beginning to get somewhere.
Document your practice. Keep a journal of what you are doing. Writing is cathartic and as you look back over it in the months or years to come you will really feel like you have achieved something amazing.
Learn to say no. We are so afraid to say no to others with a fear of offending them but surely it is better than taking on something that we cannot full fill and letting them down. Explaining in a kind and gentle way why you can't do it is much better than causing them disappointment. Saying no is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much.
Discover what you love. Living a more simple live means doing more of what you enjoy and learning about new things. If we are charging around from one place to another we will never have time to breath.
Why not think about bartering? Bartering is the exchange of goods or services for other goods or services without the use of money. Eg: You make some bread, your neighbour or friend makes some jam and you swap, simple and no money is exchanged.
Simplify your work and home tasks by focusing on the most important. Know what is the most essential. Delegate with family members instead of trying to everything yourself. If you have children give them each a different task. It not only makes them feel important but takes the pressure off you even more.
Dance in the rain
Dance in the sun
Dance for your health
Dance with others
Dance for YOU.
The benefit we get when we allow ourselves to just let go and move to whatever type of music you enjoy is incredible. We release endorphins, commonly know as 'happy hormones' which, in turn, help relieve stress and boost our immune systems.
Deep breathing can allow us to experience our true essence. The flow that the steady in and out action of breathing creates stimulates a transformation in the body and mind, purifying and cleansing them so that our true essence shines forth. Circulation is increased, hormonal balance is cultivated, the organs are regenerated and the nervous system is pacified.
Combined when practising Yoga this really is the most simple thing we can all do.