Friday, 11 April 2014

Friday Love-In

1. Mornings

The other night Andrew and I were walking George in the park after work and the dusky light was so beautiful - the sun was golden and was bathing the trees and ground, turning everything into a green and lush postcard.  I was telling Andrew how much I love that time of day - magic hour - but then I also added that mornings are also my favourite time of the day. There is a certain stillness in the mornings which is reserved only to the select few who get up early to seize the day. 

I love getting up early and going downstairs by myself to enjoy some time to myself before the rest of the household wakes up.  I also love taking George out to the park early in the morning, and sharing that moment with other dog walkers, or people crossing the park on their way to work.  It just feels like such a special and treasured time.

2. My dog

As I'm learning to find more presence in my life, instead of spending most of my time caught up in my thoughts and ignoring the here and now, I am taking a lot of lessons on being in the moment from my dog.  Observing her behaviour both at home and out is really insightful. For example, whist on a walk she'll spot a squirrel and become completely obsessed with it...until I drag her away on her lead, and after a few pulls she carries on walking with me and does not look back.  That's it, that moment is gone and she's moved on.  Same goes for when she gets upset at the cats outside in the garden it's a struggle to get her back indoor, and when she comes in she'll be restless for a while wanting to go back outside, but once that moment has passed she has moved on to something else. Some might could see that behaviour as primitive and blame it on short term memory,  but in my opinion we could learn a thing or two from them about truly being present. Dogs (and most animals) are very much living in the moment: there is no wallowing in their own pity, no resentment for events that have taken place, no worrying about the future or bringing up the past. And as I observe my dog running around the park, care free and enjoying every second of her walk, I am reminded that we too should unplug from our thoughts and worries and just enjoy the moment we are living in.

3. Susun Weed

What an incredible discovery I have made this week!  Whilst listening to an online webinar, I came across an interview with Susun Weed about nourishing herb infusions for fertility.  Her spirit shone so bright and her talk was so compelling and I had to look into her teachings. Susun Weed is a renowned American herbalist and the author of the Wise Woman guides. She believes in simplicity when it comes to health, and looks to nature to provide herbs which can help women heal.  She believes that one of the keys to health, in addition to moving your body and eating nourishing foods, is the simple daily ritual of drinking nourishing herbal infusions.  I have started to make a herbal infusion of red clover a day, and will be experimenting with nettles and red raspberry leaf. Whilst listening to her archive of weekly podcasts, I have empowerment and hope about my health journey, and have resolved to stop looking at supplements for healing but focusing on what can be found in nature and what women have been using for centuries to heal. And what is more empowering than taking your health into your own hands instead of believing that you need a pill to get better! 

4. Yoga

Yoga and I have had a relationship since I was 18 years old and was dragged to a yoga class by my mother's friend who I was living with in my last year of high school.  Over the decades, we have been together on and off, and whenever I rediscover it I wonder why the hell we lost touch for so long.  I will admit that I do not have the discipline to practice yoga at home and therefore rely on classes to get my practice in.  Sometimes money and time constraints will force me to give up this activity for months on end. I have recently started attending yoga classes again and I hope this is the beginning of a long lasting relationship again.  Whenever I finish a class I feel so grounded, so peaceful, so light, and feel like I can face anything that comes my way.  

I plan to complete this 30 day yoga 'challenge' - a series of 30 x 20 minute daily practices which you can access online for free.  Last year I started it but did not get through the whole 30 days.  I love the beautiful instructor Erin Motz, a self defined 'bad yogi' because of her love for red wine, cheese and red meat...a girl after my own heart!

Have a blissful weekend!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen.  "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Alice in Wonderland

Friday, 4 April 2014

Friday Love-In

1. London Parks

Fridays, when I'm home from work, I am lucky enough to be able to take George on a nice big walk in the morning. Dulwich Park and Brockwell Park are currently my favourite haunts. Normally I'd walk around with earphones in, listening to podcasts and thinking about stuff, but the last couple of weeks I've decided to 'unplug' when I walk George. I realised that I wasn't taking any of the beauty of the park in one day when I looked up from my phone and saw George running around the grass as happy as could be.  Dogs can really teach you a thing or two about being in the moment! So I decided to put the phone away and just walk and enjoy the surroundings. Really observe what was around me and take it all in.  This simple exercise in mindfulness has made all the difference to my mood and outlook for the day.  This morning, for example, I stopped to look at a big beautiful tree near the Dulwich boating lake and what I thought was some green moss on the trunk turned out to be a green parakeet squeezing out of a hole in the tree trunk!  I was so taken aback from this sight. The little bird joined another parakeet on a nearby branch and the seemed to share a couple of kisses (though they were probably just eating breakfast!) whilst I stood underneath them with my jaw on the floor. Walking away I thought how lucky I am to be able to enjoy such beautiful natural settings.  London parks, you rule!

2. Pu Ehr Tea

Ever the faithful mint green tea afficionado, I rarely go a day without a cup of the fresh greeny goodness. And then came Pu-Ehr tea, and now my loyalties are in question.  I was attracted to this tea due to the fact that it's fermented and therefore great for digestion, but the taste is so sublime I can sense an obsession forming. It is touted to have lots of health benefits, from aiding digestion to slimming, blood sugar regulation, improving circulation and even lowering cholesterol!  I haven't looked into the research behind any of these claims but I did notice an improvement in my digestion.  You can purchase the tea in tea bags (Dragonfly stock these), loose leaf (Solaris brand is lovely) or as little 'cakes' which you pop into a tea pot and can re-infuse up to 3 times. Just make sure you don't brew it for too long: 3-4 minutes is ideal. I've experienced slight nausea when I've made it too strong but maybe I'm just a wuss.

3. Five Minute Journal

Seriously, this little thing is the nuts.

You can flip through the journal and read the science behind the theory on their website, but basically it's a journaling exercise which asks you to dedicate 5 minutes when you wake up in the morning to focus on your intentions for the day and 5 minutes in the evening before going to bed to reflect on the day you've had.  

Morning Routine:
List 3 things you are grateful for.
List 3 things that would make today great.
Write an affirmation about yourself.

Bedtime Routine:
List 3 amazing things that happened to you today.
Write down one thing which would have made today better.

I first heard about the Five Minute Journal on a podcast and thought it sounded interesting but never really pursued the idea.  Last month, when I found myself in quite a funk, the Five Minute Journal idea popped up again on my internet and I decided to look into it and give it a try for one week.  You can purchase the journal online or just write it yourself in a notebook, which is what I did.  I'm not going to lie, the first week or so I struggled to think about things I was grateful for or what amazing things had happened that day - I was that much in a funk that my mind was just focusing on the negative. But I started with simple things and slowly was struggling to actually limit myself to 3 things to list! It's been a few weeks now and I am not joking when I say it has already made a huge impact on my life. By intentionally focusing on the positive aspects of your day, you start to actually shift into a positive mindset throughout the whole of the day. I have certainly noticed that since starting the journal I have felt less inclined to badmouth people or generally be a grumpyguts.  It's also made me more conscious and aware of what I would like to achieve. And the amazing consequence of starting this 5 minute journal is that it has reignited my desire to journal.  I have started writing again - after nearly a 10 year hiatus - and find that it really helps re-arrange my thoughts and get a clearer understanding as to what is going on in my head. It's been truly amazing and I plan on purchasing one of these babies for everyone I know!

They have recently launched an iphone app and hopefully will have an Android one soon.  Although in my opinion nothing beats putting pen to paper.

4. Spotify "Soundtrack to my Youth" playlist.

It all started a few weeks ago, when driving home from a friend's birthday dinner, we ended up blasting old Pearl Jam songs in the car and singing along at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down, cruising through London at night. 

The next day I just had to watch "Singles," one of my all-time favourite films, and one that I must have watched a million times when I lived in Mississippi at age 17. The grunge soundtrack brought back so many memories, that the next day I decided to put a playlist together of all my favourite songs of that time.  I ended up falling down a rabbit-hole of music and memories from my late teens and early twenties, re-discovering bands I'd completely forgotten about like Deus, Dub War, Bush, Screaming Trees, Veruca Salt, Incubus and Cake, amongst the grunge classics of Alice in Chains, Temple of the Dog, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Listening to this playlist has unlocked so many great feelings and memories: from my first summer holiday with my girlfriends after high school, to living in Vienna and my uni days living with my brother in Baker Street. I was so excited to rediscover 'My Favourite Things' by Incubus again yesterday whilst waiting for a train at Clapham Junction that I failed to notice my train arriving on the platform and then leaving (without me). DOH!  Who needs a time machine when you have music, ay?

I'll leave you with a lovely photo my friend Laura took of Andrew and I at her birthday dinner. Happy Friday, everyone! 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Warning: emo rant to follow!

I've become a firm believer that whatever happens to you if for a reason, and that the Universe has your best interests at heart. 
But sometimes I struggle to understand why it keeps denying me of the one thing I want most in life. The one thing I believe is my true calling and I know I would be so good at.
It gives me glimmers of hope that it's finally around the corner, then takes it away from me again. Every time a heartbreak and the feeling of being back to square one.
And sometimes I think I should just give up, but the calling is too strong and I just carry on trying, carry on hoping. But with each setback cannot help but feel my wish is getting further and further away, to the point that I almost can't imagine it every happening to me.
Throw me a frikkin bone here, Universe. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


I stopped making New Year's Resolutions a few years ago when I realised they were always the same - eat healthier, exercise more blah blah blah.

This year, however, I thought I'd write down a few intentions I have for the new year so that I can look back and see how the year goes.

- I'd like to spoil George less, in order for her to be less needy and stress out less when she doesn't get her way. This includes teaching her not to sleep in the bed with us (waaaaah, this is SO HARD, as I love cuddling up to her in bed) and stop giving her tidbits of food whilst cooking or after dinner, so she stops begging for food.

- I'd like to save up as much money as I can in 2013, so that Andrew and I can look at buying our own place near Brighton in a few year's time. I know I can do it, but I'm constantly tempted by nice clothes or stuff for the house, and I am quite the impulsive shopper (thank you, internet).

- I've been working towards being more minimalist in the past few months and have managed to purge my house of bags and bags of unwanted/ unused items. I'd like to carry on in this fashion and cut down even more in 2013. I really struggle to do this in the wardrobe department, as I am unable to part with certain items of clothing. Yet when we were away for 3 weeks last month I managed to live by wearing the same 3 outfits on rotation. I think maybe instead of getting rid of more clothes I can just try to stop buying any more? Hmmm, this is a tough one. 

- I'd like to blog more. I nearly bought one of these today but then I thought about my minimalist intention above and decided that I could do this on this blog or in a paper diary rather than buying it.

I really miss keeping a diary - I've attempted to start writing again plenty of times but I don't know if it's being an adult or what, but my thoughts just aren't as diverse as they used to be. I guess that's what happens when you get up, go to work, get home, eat and go to bed. But I think that writing one line to sum up the day is a good way of keeping the thoughts flowing and a fun way to look back at the year. Let's give it a go!

Happy New Year :)