Life’s simplicities…

Little moments where you can enjoy the calm and peacefulness of life.
This may be through enjoying and savouring a cup of tea. Not a hard earned end of day cuppa, but a lazy weekend morning of self love. Where all you do is take your time boiling the water, brewing the bag, and then quietly sipping and savouring each mouthful.

Maybe it’s sitting in your favourite part of the house. Soaking in the quiet. Whilst reading your favourite book, magazine, blogs etc. Or that perfect bath where you sit in quiet solotude, resting your mind and body from daily life.

It could be anything that brings you joy. This term is being bandied around a lot on social media at the moment. Maybe you’ve started taking an active interest in this concept of ‘hygge’. I know I have. I recently bought a book on the concept. I’m sucker for new ways of living. I’m a lifestyle advertisers dream. Ha!

I have yet to tuck into this small but intriguing little book, but from all that’s being said on social media it sounds like something I can get on board with. Little joys, and finding pleasure in what we have is not as hard as we make it out to be. We feel a constant need to seek joy outside of ourselves. When really we need to look internally and reassess what we have already.

My intention this weekend was to just enjoy small moments with my mum. Spend time just being in an environment that is familiar and comforting. As I head home today, I leave feeling more settled. It is easy to get swept up and stuck in the rut of day to day stuff.

So I leave you with a few quotes that I have found recently…

Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement; a sanded floor and whitewashed walls and the green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside.

William Morris

The key to finding a happy balance in modern life is simplicity

Sogyal Rinpoche

Having time off and spending time doing the things I enjoy, such as reading health mags or savouring that sweet cup of coffee (simple pleasures, I know) is all I need.  I think we forget about the small stuff and feel to be happy we have to make big sweeping gestures and make big choices in life.

I don’t think that’s always the case. Let’s find time to master those little moments in life. Let’s find time to invest in ourselves.

X

Personal gains…

How do we move forward in life without getting lost, or loosing sight or what’s important to us?

I have have been thinking a lot recently as I come to a full year in my new job, about where things are going. What do I want to be doing next? What’s new and interesting for me to get stuck into? I’ve always been the type of person who likes to move forward regardless of what it is I’m doing. I like to make progress no matter how small or big that progress is. I recently had a meeting about where my next steps are heading and it is all very exciting and promising. I spoke about where my interests and skills lie, and the areas I wanted to develop further. So, in a professional sense I am happily moving forward in a positive direction. I have felt that over the past year I have found a profession that gives me joy and  a sense of reward on a daily basis. And that is a rarity.

However, I was progress forward professionally where does this leave my personal journey? Where do I turn next? What do I want to improve, no correction, nourish and nurture in my life? Have I through focusing on making positives steps in my professional life lost sight of my personal development? I recently purchased a journal, which maybe familiar to some, called the Daily Greatness Journal (found on Amazon). Whilst flicking briefly through its pages, it looks like a delightful and creative tool to help me see areas in my life I want to focus on and dedicate my time to. To me ‘personal gains’ is all about creating a life of balance and meaning. Not for others but a life that has meaning and value to you. Ultimately it is ourselves that have the final say on whether we have succeeded in life. I am slowly becoming more secure in myself and my skills, my passions and interests, that needing approval from others is not as important to me anymore.

It seems to be round this time of the year I begin to question things and reflect on life decisions. Big concept there. However, I’ve always been starting something new this time of year. Autumn has always been a new beginning whether it’s a job or returning to school for further education. I recently attended a conference for qualified teachers, and attended a workshop on early career research. It struck me how much I enjoy discussing and taking apart key themes and ideas, not always with an end result, purely for the joy and interest I have in a subject. One piece of advice the professor gave us, was to go away and really think about something that excited us. Something that does not necessarily relate to our profession, but something that ignites a passion of interest. It may just be me but I’ve always had this niggling feeling I can always be doing more, not in an ambitious driven way but that I’m capable of developing myself further. Whether it’s through new skills, or undertaking a research project. It could be anything as long it benefits us personally. As long as it’s a decision that sparks joy and energy.

I think there comes a point in time where if we do something because we feel we have too, then the sole purpose of moving forward is for someone else. Moving forward should be for ourselves, for our own personal growth. This post has been thought about a lot over the past month. With trying to figure out the idea of personal gains and how it can measured. For me, I suppose, it’s about doing something that will better my life. Will enrich my life and give it more meaning. And it could be as simple as taking up a more advance yoga class, or finding the time once a week to read a piece of research in a field of interest (as the lead professor of the workshop I attended suggested).

So here’s my list of commitments:

  • read one article a week on a subject of interest – whether its early years education, philosophical ideals, or eastern practices
  • continue to develop my physical asana practice

Two very simple commitments that I hope will bring a bit of clarity. That will hopefully open up some deep rooted passions. Following different accounts that spark inspiration I find is big help. One account, such as the Elephant Journal on instagram is where I find most of my inspiration. The stuff they post and link are little moments of joy. If I need a little nudge in the right direction then this is the place I go to spark ideas. Go take a look and see what you find. For me I find that immersing myself in creative environments encourages me to question things that are important to me and opens up different avenues of interest.

That’s what it comes down to. Finding something that interests you and using that interest to enrich and deepen your life. Personal gains is about finding a way of life that is whole and rich and full of joy. Now let’s go out there and commit ourselves to discovering the things that matter to us most with an open mind and a nurturing heart.

 

True to ourselves

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Well hello there old friend! Hasn’t it been a while? Indeed it has. I feel like this little space of mine has lost its way, or maybe it’s going in the direction it’s meant to. A space to reflect when reflection is needed.

I suppose that’s why I’m here now. Reflecting again on things that are important to me and things I want to cultivate further.

The question I’ve been asking myself lately is knowing your being true to yourself without inflicting pain on someone else. Not physical pain but emotionally letting someone else be hurt by your decisions and actions. How do we stop that from arising without putting ourselves to the sideline, and jeopardising our own happiness.

I hate letting people down. I have a huge problem with saying no. And then I result in backtracking and ultimately making a situation worse for all parties involved. It’s an issue I am always working on to rectify. But lately I’ve made the decision to stop worrying so much about how people will think of my saying yes or no to things. But am beginning to concern myself more with how that decision will make me feel. Is this decision or action beneficial to my life and will it cause me pain and hurt? I firmly believe in selfless acts and being there for people when they need it most. Putting others first when they need support and assistance. I have no problem saying yes to those situations even it means missing out on something else, or having to cancel a last minute event. However, I do feel we all have a problem with putting ourselves last and sometimes this can cause bigger problems not just for us, but for others too. A little self love and respect can go a long way.

However, what causes me anxiety is saying yes to things or agreeing to do something when in my heart and, probably more importantly, my gut is saying no. These are situations where I need to build courage and strength in saying no. I find it hard and feel that if I do, somehow that person’s opinion of me lowers. I need to stop thinking like this and feel confident in that what I choose to do will benefit me. Making sure I’m saying ‘Yes’ to things that will further my career, relationships and general life ‘well’ness’, and saying ‘No’ when it is the right time to. Whether it is making sure your to do list is not overloaded at work or at home. Or if it’s something you know you won’t like and there’s no reason to do it. And finally knowing when you cannot actually do something. When you say yes so you don’t feel left out, or because you’ve got carried away with an idea and haven’t thought the whole thing through (i.e. financial aspects, time frames or double booking). The latter is my most common failing. Okay, not failing but definitely something that needs constant monitoring. This is where for me yoga and mindfulness is helpful. Practising yoga and meditation allows me the space and time to reflect.

So my mantra at the present moment is knowing it’s okay to say, No! That people won’t think badly of me. Won’t judge me. And if they do then they aren’t true friends, or people who respect me. And finally that their reactions are their concern, not mine. I can’t control that, and if people do think differently then it’s them and not me. Unless, of course I act like a dick, which people then have a reason to think badly of me.

In the end we are all in control of our own lives and ultimately it’s up to us in how we want to live them.

 

Awareness and Accountability

This is has been in my draft box now for about two months. Way past it’s due date, let me tell you that. However, before I clicked publish, I wanted to make sure I had really studied my life and assessed areas where I can make change and move towards living more authentically. Making changes to being more aware of the foods I’m buying into. Thinking more about recycling and living in a more sustainable way. Over the past month, I have taken to watching various documentaries surrounding foods, our environment and the ways in which we can, through small changes, have an impact to towards positive change.

One such documentary I watched was a very eye opening and extremely moving documentary, called ‘The True Cost’. I urge all of you, those especially interested in sustainability, to go and watch it. The documentary can be found over on Netflix. Was not a long film, but was a touching and emotional film. Posing the question about whether we are truly aware of the true cost of our waste. The film focused mainly on the fashion industry, however, it was clear to see how well informed the filmmaker was. The film used fashion as a spring board for discussions relating to the economical and environmental issues that are currently affecting our own lives. Such as our ever-growing food consumption and food waste.

This struck a cord with me, and I began to question the way I choose to live my life. And whether my actions have had, not necessarily a direct impact but rather an indirect impact on our environment. I like to think I lead a honest and appreciative life. I try to take care of the things around me. I recycle (most of the time), I buy second hand and I try not to waste food unnecessarily. But is there more I can be doing. I’m not going to start throwing around statistics or numbers, you can go look up those yourself, and I suggest you to do so. They are very interesting. But what I will aim to do here is discuss the ways we could make small changes in our daily routines to help build a more sustainable way of living.

Over the past year, I recently acquired a new car, having a spent a year prior to that without one. I was amazed to find that life went by as usual without one. I was still able to get by without the need to drive everywhere. It struck me how much I did with my car, whether it was to just pop out to the shops, when I could have walked. Or driven into town when I could of used public transport, or better yet, walked again. Now having a job, literally a stones through away from my home, the need to drive everywhere has decreased. I want to make sure I use my car only when necessary. Like visiting friends and family, say further than London (where trains are so easily accessible). In turn I hope this lowers my own fuel emissions, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

Another way I am aiming to lower my own carbon foot print is through eating less meat. Now, I have spent many years flitting in and out of vegetarianism from about the age of 12. At the age of 12 I became vegetarian for moral reasons, after a while, the thought of eating was of no interest to me and lived that way for 8 years. Consequently after some iron tests, I realised the iron found in red meat was something my body needed. From then on I went through stages of eating meat to not eating meat for long periods of time. Mostly because my body finds it hard to digest heavy meat products. Also, having done some readings eating less meat a week actually has an impact on our environment. By eating less, we are using less resources to produce it. On another note as a species are bodies are not use to consuming so much meat as we do now. The ‘Food Matters’ doc on Netflix discusses this idea further. Being mindful of where food had come from and the journey it has taken to reach our plates, means some where along the line, natural resources have been used and depleted unnecessarily. Eating less of it means we are giving the Earth time to heal and repair itself.

Finally, I am trying to cut down on my wasteful habits, and finding new ways to save a little money in the process. Food waste is probably the number one culprit, and I think that’s the case for most people. Myself and James in a conscious effort to save food, are planning our meals on a weekly basis and try to use everything we have. I have taken to organising the fridge by the use by date, just to make sure nothing goes out of date. Also not over buying fresh fruit and vegetables, which when left to sit can rot away. It’s about knowing exactly how much you need to live happily without under or over consuming. And it’s not just food waste, I’ve stopped buying plastics bags, even to the point where I try not to even use those silly little ones for loose fruit and veg. So unnecessary in my eyes. And then finally using lunch boxes and travel cups to store food in and keeping my coffee addiction in tact. There is no need to buy paper cups anymore. Simply take your cup on the go and ask for it in there. Sometimes I get funny looks (I don’t even expect to be charged less!), but honestly why waste the paper by taking a paper one.

So, for me it’s about making those small, daily changes to my habits and routines, which in turn will hopefully create a more authentic way of living. Maybe, these ideas have arisen from practising yoga more regularly, or reading more about health and over all well-being. Or maybe I just want to ensure that the world I live in can the be most beautiful version of itself and provide us with so many wonders and treasures. I do believe if we continue to abuse mother nature, we will have nothing left!

 

 

Staying calm

…or finding peace in the those difficult, busy moments during the day! Peace in the stressful, demanding routines of the day.

This is something I was told a few weeks back on a course. Yes, it was to do with child development and finding calm in those stressful parts of the day. The ones we rush through just so it will be over and can move onto the next things. The times when you’re getting the children out into the garden or ready for lunch or even trying to get them ready for the end of the day. However, why should these moments become such a ‘to-do’. Why do they have to seem frantic? Rushed or stressed? They only appear to be so because we perceive it to be like that. Children are children, especially in the early years where they are transitioning through vast amounts of developmental milestones. Rather than trying to rush through these difficult times, we should be supporting them so it becomes less of a stress on us. We should take our time, just say to ourselves ‘it’s okay, no hurry, we can take our time’ and generally this attitude defuses the whole situation. I’ve been trying to find joy in those moments, using them as opportunities to talk with the children, have a genuine conversation, where I actively take interest in their opinions. These parts of the day are slowly becoming some of my favourite moments. It’s amazing what young children have to say and do when we just stop and and let them be, rather than hurriedly getting them out into the garden.

I then started to think of this in relation to aspects of our own day-to-day routines that we rush through. The ones we just want to get out of the way so we can find time to do something more ‘meaningful’. Those transitional parts of the day that seem to rub us the wrong and leave a sour taste in the mouth. Again it’s not the moment itself but how we perceive that moment to be. If we already have this notion it’s going to be stressful then mostly likely it will. A self fulfilling prophecy. We slowly become disconnected from own lives. We miss all those wonderful little moments because we were so focused on the parts that made us feel crappy. We push through things, and pile too much onto our plates so we are constantly buckling under the weight of all we have to do.

Consequently, my intentions at the moment are to try and find joy in those ‘horrible’ moments. The intention to try and figure out why they are such a problem. In doing so, my day becomes a little brighter. I find myself smiling because on reflection these situations are not always so bad. They’re are generally things we can control and sort out, without all the huffing and puffing that goes along with it. The stuff we can’t control, we just have to let go of, which is actually much harder to do. Having recently had some time off work, and having had a few days to relax and just ‘be’, I have come to realise that wasting time rushing through our daily lives is so…boring. When we rush through our day and come to those final moments in bed where we think, ‘whah where did that day go? Feel like I’ve achieved nothing!’ In reality we’ve probably achieved a great deal, we just didn’t take the time to stop and notice all those wonderful moments in between.

It’s about making the most of the small delights in our daily lives rather than always focusing on that bigger, greener picture. Noticing what’s around us and just taking a moment to breath in the air around us. If we truly observe what we have and what surrounds us, I think we will be surprised at what we find. Life, and daily routines need not be a struggle. It’s about perspective!

So, my intention is to continue to find joy in what I have. To write a list, whether it’s a mental or concrete one, of all that I’m grateful for. And I leave you with a few images of the things I am eternally grateful for…Friends, loved ones, the sweet moments of simplicity that life brings us and of course yoga!.

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Love to you all!

Namaste x

 

Staying healthy

…and sound of mind I suppose.

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(if in doubt have a power, energising, green juice!)

How does one stay healthy, when there are many conflicting views on how to go about achieving a healthy lifestyle. What does this term ‘healthy’ actually mean? Do we take the medical, scientific notion that being healthy consists of promoting a diet full of nutritious foods and exercising regularly. Or do we take the more philosophical notion, that being healthy can be a state of mind. Being in a place where our mind is free from stress, and can focus on things that make us happy. Is being healthy living a life full of perspective and openness? When I typed staying healthy into google, the main response I got was this:

Staying healthy physically can help you stay healthy emotionally too. If you’re eating the right food and keeping fit, your body will be strong and help you to cope with stress and also fight illness. Eating well and taking regular exercise when you are a teenager will also help you stay in good health later in life.”

(From the childline website)

This emphasises the foundations of staying healthy. From a physiological perspective you need to eat well and be physically active. It is fundamental for us as humans to be active, to be doing things and supporting these activities through nutritious foods. Maybe the concept of healthy is subjective to each individual and the needs they have. I’m not qualified to make judgements or bandy round advice on how to stay fit and healthy. All I can comment on is what works for me and my life.

Of course if you have underlying health issues that have been identified, then of course keeping up with a regular fitness programme, eating a wider range of whole foods and seeking advice and support where possible, is mostly likely going to keep you healthy and live a fuller, longer life.

However, for the rest of us, the ones that plod along, succumb to regular colds and flus, and have a general feeling of being run down, how do we stay healthy? The ones that eat okay but not all the time, and workout when the feeling arises, how do we begin to connect to this concept of ‘staying healthy’? Personally, I start with thinking about what I want out of life. The things I want to succeed in. And that’s being able to perform at a high level in my job, and be able to do the things I enjoy when not working. Like practising yoga, seeing friends, and visiting new places. If I constantly don’t feel well then I can’t do those things that make me happy. Over the past few months I have been so unwell that I’ve missed out on that stuff and it makes me sad. Even now, if I do too much my body begins to feel fatigued and stressed out, and I can feel those old feelings of lack lustre arise again. My skin and mental well-being begins to take its toll also.

I deem myself to be a pretty healthy person (workout regularly and eat a nutritious diet roughly 80% of the time). Clearly my body was telling another story. So, I took it upon myself to treat it to some self love. I spoke about this in a previous post. And my body was totally grateful for that ‘me’ time. I began taking regular doses of Vit C (1000mg) and Zinc. I began changing my food habits back to how they used to be – lots of veg and fruit, limiting the amount of sugars I was intaking. It’s crazy to think how much refined sugar can have an impact on our lives. And I started practising gentle yin, restorative yoga poses, to help ease out tension and toxins that had built up over time. Basically I tuned into my body and let it do what it needed to do. Otherwise, you persist in this vicious cycle of nastiness.

For me, this is how I go about promoting a healthy lifestyle. Knowing when I need to recharge, take stock and modify my behaviours. I enjoy feeling good about myself. I try not to limit anything but focus on surrounding myself with goodness, whether that’s foods, people or thoughts. And with this I gain a sound piece of mind. I find a clarity and clearness. My mind is able to be still and quiet. And I can focus on the things that are important. Sometimes, struggles come my way, which effect my sleeping habits, which in turn can affect my food choices and exercising patterns, but I don’t let it get me down anymore. I try to see it as having a balance, and try to connect with what’s causing those problems. Usually it’s feeling overworked and tired. It’s about noticing signs and symptoms, and then working out how to solve those issues.

I follow Food Matters and find that they’re idea of being healthy and how we can achieve that ideal, extremely motivating and inspiring. They break it down so it becomes such a simple process. Making those small changes, which will help change our attitudes towards the kind of life we should, or even want to be living. Maybe, that’s what ‘healthy’ means. Having an attitude towards life, an energy that omits positivity and encourages you to be the best version of yourself.

I’m going to stop here, as I could waffle on for ages without making much sense. But I hope you get the sense that what we deem to be healthy can have many different meanings. And it is up to us to make those changes. We have a responsibility to take care of our bodies and our minds so we can live a full and exciting life.

 

Just be yourself!?

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How do we know who we truly are? How can we decipher all those little details of ourselves to figure out for certain the kind of person we want to be? When trying to find an image to help convey this idea of ‘who are we?’ or the all encompassing ‘self’, this picture I took a while back seemed to fit perfectly. Just a shadow with no other details; an outline, a shape filled with endless possibilities. I suppose that’s what it comes down to – do we ever truly know ourselves? Can we concretely say “yes, this is who I am”. I believe we constantly change and move, fluctuating from different thoughts, ideas, likes and dislikes, depending on where we currently find ourselves to be. Whether that’s through the  social circles we move in and out of, our work environment, and most importantly our home environment. Also what we are subjected to through advertisements, music, fashion, foods etc etc. Everything we experience in life, plays a part in determining who we are. I’m still figuring out who I am and the kind of person I want to become.

So when someone says “just be yourself”, what does this mean? It seems so simple yet fully loaded with past feelings, thoughts and behaviours. And, further more do people actually want to see the ‘real’ you, or are they just being nice? Are they subtly hinting that you should closet away certain parts of yourself so you then fit in with their idea of who you are? I always find myself feeling unsure what this statement means. When someone say this it’s usually when your encountering different people in an unfamiliar environment. It’s meant to be a reassuring and calming comment for when your feeling apprehensive about meeting new people. Quietening those questions running through your head – “will they like me? I hope I don’t embarrass myself by saying something silly or stupid” – etc etc. We are mostly comfortable being ourselves, or letting people see who we truly are, when we begin to feel secure and safe in that environment. Where we feel we’re not going to be judge or questioned by those people. Alternatively, if we really think about it, maybe we are just refining and photoshopping who we are to fit into the environment and situations we find ourselves in, based on the people we’re with. I know I certainly behave differently when I’m with my family, friends, work colleagues and my boyfriend. It’s like there are various versions of yourself and we compartmentalise who we are for different people.

But why should that be the case? Why cannot we not just be all of those personalities at once. All those characters are just bits and pieces of who we are. Instead of pulling them apart lets put them together and shine brightly for everyone to see. Surely, by hiding or compartmentalising ourselves for others, we’re only judging ourselves. It is only ourselves that we are holding back. By not fully committing to who we are, we are in some way suggesting we are ashamed or embarrassed by our character, likes/dislikes or actions. We currently live in an age where we can document our every move yet we still manage to photoshop and gloss over certain parts we don’t like.

No one else is going to miss out if we don’t show who we truly are, and that’s a horrible thought. To think I spent most of my life trying to cover up parts of myself because I’m worried about what others think. To think I’ve missed most of my life focusing on those thoughts and feelings is not a please thought. Slowly over the past few years, I have begun to truly accept who I am, where I am and the kind of person I strive to be. And for that I am in a much happier and content place emotionally and physically (although right now I am not in the greatest space health wise). I’ve tried to be a little prouder of the things I do and like, and as my drama teacher once said to me, “Emma, you are unashamedly weird”. Now, I’m taking that as a complement and why not? At school I tried to fit in with people and be something different and it didn’t work. It wasn’t me. It is only now, having been to university, worked in various roles and discovered more about myself that I can see how wrong I was to deny who I truly am. It’s not that those experiences were a waste of time, I try to use them as experiences to learn from and move forward from. Everything we experience in life, moulds and shapes who we. We can’t control what happens, only how we deal with the consequences of those actions.

I’m still trying to figure out my place in the world (maybe I’ll never figure it out), who I am, and the things that move me and bring me joy. Life is a process not an end product. The end product in my view is death. Everything up until that point is a journey and should be relished at every opportunity. Just remember we are all shadows and we can fill them how ever we like!

Be proud of everything!

Jai Namaste!