The New Normal?

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I watched an old episode of QI last night and they were talking about average sizes and demographics. After surveying thousands of women in Australia, an ‘average’ person was deduced – hair colour, children’s ages, home owner etc; – the list was fairly long 🙂 and when they looked for this ‘average’ person, they couldn’t find her. Apparantly an average person doesn’t exist.

Well, if there’s no such thing as an average person, is there really any chance of discovering what is ‘normal’?

There’s been loads of talk about nature being more ‘present’ since people stopped getting in its way, and the ozone layer healing because there are less vehicles on the road. How much of this is 100% true is, of course, debatable. But we all lean on the hope that we are slowly healing our planet.

There’s been a huge divide between rich and poor for decades and those workers on the front lines have been continuously denied a decent wage, but the selflessness of those heroic folk on the front lines is now being recognized and applauded.

My hope is that humanity and humans as a species grow from this experience, spiritually, mentally and physically – although no growing sideways please!

When we hear folk moaning about being ‘stuck’ at home, it’s hard not to drop in a comment about homeless families, abuse victims and lonely folk who may be dealing with physical and/or mental issues. I resist because I do believe that what we give our attention to will grow so I only comment on positive stuff. It’s really quite tough sometimes though. I’ve had first hand experience with some of the issues mentioned and my ego often jumps in and wants to berate the moaners … BUT ….

That’s counter-productive because they really don’t know any different and showing what can be done is always more effective than telling.

So what is the new normal? Nobody knows for sure – we can speculate and opinionate but a pandemic on the scale we are currently experiencing is incomparable. Yes, a hundred years ago we had one, but life was different then – not saying better or worse – but certainly different.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a nugget of hope in all the confusion – the hope that helps us evolve as a species, the hope that respects nature and our fellow humans. My word for this is love. Loving and practising gratitude everyday sends out joyful and positive energy to the universe which swirls it all around and deposits those good feelings at random spots. (The butterfly’s wings causing a ripple around the earth.)

I try and incorporate these five practises as far as I can and as often as I can.

Stop to smell the roses
Feel the gratitude
Learn something new
Help someone
Love and care for all sentient beings.

Any of these practised during a day will bring a feeling of joy and abundance to ourselves and the Universe as a whole. I guess the challenge is getting billions of us feeling like that always…. 🙂

Stay Safe and may the force of love be with you.
Linda x

Uplifting Quotes

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We can all benefit from a few uplifting quotes now and then, especially now. I’ve been taking lots of photos of my garden which I am so grateful for. But then when I started looking on Pixabay for some good images, I realised there are a whole bunch of photographers out there who are soooo much more professional than me.

So, I’ve been putting some images with some relatable quotes and popped twelve of them in my latest printable at Etsy.

I’ve also duplicated the quotes for an alternative to heavy printer ink consumption! Those pages have a simple apple blossom design.
I have a whole list of printables to create and they’re all going to be on sale at the lowest price possible for the foreseeable future, so when you have a minute, pop over to Etsy and have a look around. Any requests gladly considered 🙂
Before I sign off, one of my favourite quotes of all time is:
“You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing” George Bernard Shaw
That suits me just fine! And ‘playing’ doesn’t have to be taken literally, especially if your chosen sport or hobby involves close contact with others. ‘Playing’ means having fun, enjoying yourself, having a little quality ‘me’ time so don’t forget to keep playing!

Stay Safe
Linda x
P.S. The downloadable printables are in my pennywise collection and come out at £1.20 (UK) but are, of course, downloadable from practically anywhere.

Time to Think

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This is for all of us who are forced into lockdown and can’t work from home.

We all have 24 hours in every day – that’s 1440 minutes – and although we could allow 8 of those hours to sleep, there’s still 960 minutes to play with. 960!

(If you need to deduct 8 hours of work time, that brings us down to 480 minutes per day – every day)

One thing about time is that once it’s gone, it’s gone. When you reflect on your past and life experiences, it’s incredible where the time really went.

So, what are you doing with your 960 minutes per day? Obviously there are chores to be done, but they can take up surprisingly little time, especially if you delegate here and there!

Don’t feel bad about treating yourself to some me time – why not? How often have you said ‘Oh if only I had time to meditate, begin a yoga practise or perhaps start your own business’?

Being thrown out of your routine can be challenging, but there’s no reason why you can’t create your own.

If you decide you’re going to de-clutter or spring clean your home, or get the garden ready for planting, don’t try to fit it all in one day.

When you only have evenings and weekends to do these chores, they tend to be just that, chores. But at this particular time in history, you can spread your wings and your workload and enjoy the moments rather than stressing about getting it all done before Monday morning rolls around again.

So, grab a pen, a notepad and a cuppa and indulge in some thinking time!

Before you start jotting down ideas, remember to incorporate all major areas of your life; well-being and nutrition, children and family, home and garden and of course some quality ‘me’ time. Here are a few Well-Being and Nutrition ideas….

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(Photo from Lucy Lou Yoga)

1. Start an online yoga practise. There are lots of them. Check out a few youtube videos before you start and choose a routine that suits you right now – not one that you aspire to that could take you months to achieve. That can be counter-productive as it’s easier to give up.

Choose a routine that will challenge you a little but doesn’t feel like a chore. After all, your well-being is top priority right now. If you’ve never done it before, always start with a beginner class. Get the kids involved. Many schools started yoga and meditation sessions and children adapt really well to yoga.
I’ve started learning how to breathe with yoga practices – it’s amazing just how much well-being is related to breathing properly.

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2. Or an exercise routine to keep you moving. Same rules apply as choosing a yoga practice. Just because you are under forty, or whatever, doesn’t necessarily mean you can do 100 sit-ups and a high-impact aerobics workout. Be aware of your limitations, push them a little but always treat yourself nicely.

And if you don’t have much space at home, allow for that as well. Don’t start leaping about if you are close to table corners for example. Safety must come first.

What about dance? Learn how to jive with your partner if you’re both at home – again though, give yourselves lots of safe space.

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3. Well-being should also include plenty of mental and spiritual time. Get into meditating! There’s an ancient zen saying that rings very true: “If you don’t have 20 minutes a day to meditate, you should be meditating for an hour” – not word for word but you get the idea. 😊. Again, youtube to the rescue here. There are probably thousands of different guided meditations you can use to get you started.

Or if you prefer, sit quietly and comfortably in a peaceful place and allow thoughts to come and go as they will. But to keep on track I would suggest a mantra. There’s a reason that yogis chant ‘ohm’- choose your own mantra that suits you. Make it a peaceful one though. Don’t sit quietly and start chanting ‘I need some money, I need some money, over and over again. Totally counter-productive.

Choose from mantras online – Google ‘yoga mantras’ and see what comes up. If you don’t feel you have the space or inclination to do a full 20minute meditation, be aware of moments during the day. Meditation moments are just as helpful.

When you’re washing up, or washing your hands, be present in the now and enjoy the feel of warm water and clean hands or dishes. Just a few seconds or a minute or two of returning to the moment rather than reflecting on past woes or future worries will help you feel connected and at peace.

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4. Your mental health may be taking a knock at the moment and the above well-being tactics will help you settle your worries. Also a little learning can go a long way. How about learning a language or taking any online course? There are courses in just about everything and many of them you can grab for free or for a small outlay. Check reviews and previews before you buy to make sure it will suit you.

And it doesn’t have to be ‘academic’ – maybe you’d like to learn how to knit or how to draw cartoons? Or play the guitar? Give yourself a little time here and think about all those moments you’ve said ‘I wish I had time to…..’ – well, now you do!

Obviously, learning to drive or taking flying lessons may not be possible right now but there are hundreds of hobbies and pastimes you could indulge in. And, as a side note, many small businesses have been started because someone’s hobby suddenly took off!

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5. Nutrition counts. Educating yourself about food is eye-opening. Do a little experiment for yourself: Jot down everything you ate or drank in a day then take a look at the actual ingredients and, I’m tempted to say components, when it comes to some of the fast-foods we often have in the freezer. Are you really taking in enough nutrients to keep your body healthy?

Check out immune system boosting foods and put them on your shopping list. Avoid fast-foods as far as possible and research some easy recipes – there are thousands upon thousands online. Choose gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free or sugar-free recipes. Whatever suits you and your family.

Allow yourself some of those 960 minutes to brainstorm some ideas. Do it as a family or couple if you’re sharing your space with others. Either way, the goal is to stay sane, and hopefully grow through this unprecedented time.

Stay safe,

Linda x

 

 

 

Connecting

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Thanks to mobile phones and social media channels, we can all keep connected pretty much all the time if we choose to. Of course, we know there are downsides, but treating your own well-being as priority, should help you drag yourself away from the latest horror stories after a period of time. Try to check in to the news just two or three times a day, but only for 10-15 minute bursts.

We don’t need to know everything. We can google all sorts of theories and conspiracies until the cows come home (?) but that’s your choice. And, where are you going with it? If you’re creating a future book or a personal journal of pandemic events, then fine, but don’t get lost in cyber space too often!

Other forms of connection are showing up all the time. One of my daughters and her partner created several funny short and distorted videos a couple of weeks ago which brought many smiles and belly laughs! Another of my daughters (a yoga teacher) has just made a short video of how she has found more confidence in herself simply by creating a video and some online yoga training. These connections mean so much and reach many people.

Acts of kindness are springing up all over the place and it’s heart-warming to know that not the entire human species are a bunch of idiots. 🙂

Recently, in a need-to-sort-everything-out moment, I found some poetry I’d written and on the same day discovered it’s poetry month and saw a post by Elizabeth Gilbert encouraging people to post poems. Thank you Universe!

So that’s what I did! I would never have dreamed of doing this before but I had a lovely comment on instagram so I thought I’d share it with you here. But before I sign off, this is the time to be thinking outside the box, even if you’re physically inside one….

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(This was my excuse for not learning to swim!)

Keep safe and well,
Linda x

P.S. If you’re connecting with your garden, there are pots of gardening tips posted here

Washing Up

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When there are more people in the house all day, inevitably more washing up accumulates. Rather than running the dishwasher more times, try doing the washing up the old-fashioned way – you know – sink, water etc;!

Dishwasher detergents can be costly and the electricity consumption fairly high with these long cycle machines. Washing machines are priceless when you have a family. I’ve washed by hand for a few years for six of us and a washing machine was like a dream come true. But washing up the dishes?

It’s quite therapeutic to stand at the sink washing up. Time for a meditative pause in the day or a few minutes of focused thought. Make it make a family affair and if anyone moans about it, try explaining that if they didn’t use a clean cup from the cupboard every single time, but rinsed out their used cup and re-filled it, then there would be less washing up.

Teaching some life lessons, meditation moments, working out problems and some quality family time – all from ignoring the dishwasher and getting your hands wet 🙂

Keep well and as sane as possible!

Linda x

Go Wild

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….with a wild flower bath tonic

Collect some or all of these regular garden wild flowers, in any combination, for a super tonic to relax in the bath with.

NB: Don’t do this if you have plant allergies.

· lawn daisies ( flowers )
· dandelions ( flowers and leaves )
· nettles ( young leaves )
· blackberry / bramble ( leaves )

Crush your flowers and leaves together and place in a 20cm. square of muslin. Bring up the edges to form a bag and tie securely. Add a loop of string to hang over the hot water tap/fawcett. Let the hot water run through the herb bag. Lie back and enjoy.

Relax!

Linda x

P.S. Many herbs can be used in the bath. Check out the herb downloads here – step by step guides to getting it right!

Goals and Dreams

dreamsandgoals-pinWow, another decade!

I have loads of plans for the coming year – probably too many but I decided to incorporate personal stuff in my goals and schedules this time round. I tend to have vague goals and intentions about my own well-being but this year I’m going for it!

One thing to remember about resolutions and goal setting is that we all tend to over-estimate what we can do in a year but under estimate what we can do in two or more years.

Whether you’re planning on……

losing weight, getting fit, eating well, starting a yoga practise, launching your own business or growing your own food… or a happy mix of all of the above 🙂

..…..take a little time now to draw up a schedule – work out what has to be done daily, weekly, monthly and fill in your calendar or journal – I’ve created a folder specifically for my goals this year.

I started by listing all the things I want to achieve and then breaking them down into doable steps and fitting them in around the stuff that has to be done. Remember to be realistic if you take this approach. If you give yourself too much to do and don’t consider the time it takes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose heart in your dreams and aspirations – there are only 24 hours in a day and you have to eat and sleep!

Be easy on yourself and you’ll find you get more done. We know that 20 minutes of meditation daily results in an hour’s worth of productivity. If that works for you, factor it in to your schedule now. But if it becomes a chore, change your approach. Meditation moments throughout the day are just as beneficial.

Setting goals is important to help us grow and achieve our desires but those goals must be realistic. When we emphatically declare that we are going to lose 3 kilos by the end of the month, the underlying feeling of denying ourselves can rear its ugly head and before we know it, we ‘treat’ ourselves to a donut and a latte. Ouch.

Maybe scale it down. Be happy to lose 1 or 2 kilos.

Have you been longing to launch your own business, but can’t give up the day job yet? Difficult because, again, there are only so many hours in a day. If that’s you, baby steps are a must. Even if you just grab a couple of hours at the weekend or in the evenings, a strategic approach will move your plans forward. You may have to brush up on how to create a business plan first. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process.

Be specific. If you start the year with a vague resolution such as ‘I’m giving up the day job this year’, unless you work out the alternatives and create a loose or fixed plan, it won’t happen. However much we may or may not believe in the monetary system, it’s necessary to survive, so if you have a wage, you won’t want to give it up until you’ve secured an alternate surce of income.

One of my goals this year is to learn Portuguese. It’s a challenging language to learn and I may never live in Portugal to exercise my skills but I enjoy languages and I find the learning process helps me overcome feelings of unworthiness or lack of confidence. There is always an up-side to doing something you love!

Happy 2020 everyone. Wishing you peace, love and happiness now and always.

Linda x

Chocolate is Good for you!

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When you think of how many steps the cocoa bean has to go through before it reaches our eager taste-buds, it’s incredible it ever gets here!

The cocoa bean pod, growing as big or bigger than our hands, contains beans which are extracted, then fermented, dried, roasted and turned into a chocolate liquer which then goes through more processing before it gets wrapped in a package and shipped to our stores…..phew.

But that’s just in today’s world!

Chocolate has been consumed in various forms for literally thousands of years. Not the commercially produced milk chcocolate that we know, love and try to avoid these days but in a much more natural form.

Here are some quick chocolate facts that have been well documented…

1. The Mayan civilization believed cacao – later the word was changed to cocoa – was a food sent to them by the Gods.

2. The Aztecs also revered and chocolate and considered it to be a food from the Gods

3. Ancient civilizations used chocolate as a healing aid for many ailments, including burns and sores.

4. There are a couple of different theories of when chocolate came to Europe but what is sure is that by the late sixteenth century, chocolate was well established in Spain and other European countries.

5. For most of the 1800’s, chcocolate was enjoyed as a drink, mixed with milk or water. In the French culture, many people still enjoy a bowl of hot chocolate for breakfast – with maybe a pain au chocolat or a croissant.

6. Chocolate contains vitamins and minerals, many of which we can use efficiently in our bodies.

7. Dark chocolate – with cocoa solids of 85% – has been scientifically shown to have anti-oxidant properties and has become a ‘heart healthy’ food. We seem to have come full circle on this one!

I go into this a bit more on my new Simply Chocolate website – Simply Chocolate – there are a few recipes for you chocaholics as well!

Enjoy!
Linda x

P.S. I found most of the fascinating facts in a book called ‘Chocolate’ by Margaret Briggs. It’s on Amazon if you’d like to check it out….

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‘Chocolate’ by Margaret Briggs

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Well

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OOOhh, light my sparklers – it’s bonfire night in the UK. Of course firework displays seemed to have dwindled over the past few years; environment considered more now than ever before, but there are bound to be a few bright fireworks in the night sky tonight.

Usual stuff – keep your pets safe and of course, if you’re having a bonfire, make sure no creatures have been making it their home in recent days. Having said that, have a great evening!

After all the excitement of halloween, firework night and Christmas countdowns about to start, if they haven’t already, it’s not always easy to calm the children at night. Have you noticed they can get super active around bedtime? – or maybe that’s just my lot 🙂

But if you are having trouble getting the little darlings to sleep, here are a few tips I’ve used over the years to keep me sane (-ish) ….

* Keep an eye on the time. If you suddenly realize it’s five minutes before bedtime and go into ‘omg it’s bedtime’ mode then start rushing around getting pj’s ready and toothbrushes toothpasted, you won’t be able to create a sense of calm.

Start thinking about bedtime half hour before the allotted time. Then slowly but surely encourage the pjs, the teeth cleaning and the choice of bedtime story. By the time they get into bed, children are calmer and ready to sleep.

*Avoid anything with sugar in: Don’t be tempted to give in to the cookie jar for a bit of peace. It will backfire! Sugar – as we know – is not a calming agent and you can suddenly find yourself with hyperactive kids and a headache. Avoid sugar at least an hour, preferably longer, before bedtime. Toast and honey can create calm while satisfying the sweet tooth cravings, but always consider what works best for your child.

*Warm drinks – no caffeine or sugar of course, but otherwise a warm drink can really calm the body and mind ready for sleep. Even a spoonful of honey in hot water can work wonders.

*Temperature: These days, many of us live in centrally heated homes and, although we don’t want to be cold at bedtime, too much heat can interfere with settling into a relaxing state. Turn down the thermostat a little if it’s too warm in the bedrooms.

*Bedtime Stories: Children tend to want the same stories read to them every night for weeks or even months, which doesn’t make it easy to put your whole attention into reading. Kids are savvy – they know when you’re just going through the motions. Treat each reading as if it’s a first and you’ll have happy kids all ready to sleep the night away!

Most of these quick tips work well for grown-ups too 🙂 If you’re having trouble sleeping, it’s often because your mind is not behaving itself. Too many thoughts, worries and replays going on in that remarkable brain of yours.

Treat yourself to a good night’s sleep by adopting some or all of the tips above and one extra note I feel should be added here…

Don’t watch the news before bed!

Normally, the national or international news is peppered with bad news and concerns about humanity, environment and natural disasters. They will still be there for you to deal with in the morning, so avoid cluttering up your mind with these stories in the evening.

Enjoy your evenings, watch something funny, indulge in your latest hobby or spend a wonderful time with friends and family – you could even consider getting out a board game and turning off the TV – how radical is that?!!!

Sweet Dreams!
Linda x

P.S. My most relaxing thing to do – apart from sleeping and meditating of course, is knitting. This pattern from The Ekokids collection is simple to make and will encourage bedtime as a natural and calming experience rather than the battleground it could be!

Bedtime!

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Dreaming Big!

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… or away with the fairies?

Over many centuries – well decades, I’ve been accused at various times in my life of being away with the fairies. I was punished for daydreaming at school which set a pattern or paradigm in my own mind that dreaming big wasn’t the way to success.

But now that I’ve discovered the wonderful teachings available to us in the 21st century I refuse to let my dreams be shattered by naysayers.

Eckhart Tolle, Dr. Wayne Dyer and the teachings of Abraham Hicks have all helped me to understand that we are entitled to our dreams and that without them, we would all be living in the dark ages. I mean, someone had to discover electricity, invent the mobile phone and even believe people could travel in a flying machine!

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But, although I’ve kind of sorted out the paradigm and am sticking to my dreams like glue, there are conflicting opinions about sharing dreams.

On the one hand, when you share dreams and ideas the naysayers can move in quickly and plant a seed of doubt. But on the other hand, sharing ideas can produce feedback, more good ideas and possibly even partnerships.

The answer, I believe, is to be really solid in your idea; make the business plan, write the outline of a book you want to write or an idea you want to implement BEFORE you share with anyone!

Write it down on paper or your laptop. Get into the details. Look for the bits that don’t work and delete, search for the parts that need adjusting or updating and edit like crazy. Then put it aside, if you can 🙂 for a couple of days then go back to it and fine tune again.

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There will be a moment when you just know you’ve covered all the angles you are aware of – then it’s time to share, to talk about it, to accept feedback – however critical it may seem at first. Go over the feedback and eliminate anything that’s obviously not relevant or just too picky to be important.

Then go for it. Dreaming big and setting up strategies for achieving goals and dreams is a fun thing to do if you don’t let the seeds of doubt creep in.

One caveat I’d add here is that we do have many ideas and dreams and some of them are temporary, some of them are rubbish and some of them are just gems waiting to be polished. Go for the gems and don’t worry about the other stuff.

And one final point is that life is about the journey, not the destination. Be flexible, enjoy the journey and those dreams could very well become your reality.

Keep dreaming big!

Linda x

P.S. The teachings I’ve mentioned above can all be found on youtube and their own websites of course!