A Charmed Life


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an open letter

Dear friends-who-have-children

I am not a mother.
I always assumed I would be.
But the universe didn’t see it that way.
And now, I have found peace with my reality.

I am not a mother.
But my life is not any less significant than yours just because you procreated.
And I write to you today, for the sake of our relationship, to ask for some consideration.

The same consideration I give you every time you call and then proceed to hang up two minutes into our conversation to attend to your crying child. The same consideration I give when you cancel our rare night out at the last night minute when your kid is poorly. The same consideration I give when we Face Time and you stick your little one on ‘to amuse’ me while you run around doing laundry.

Look, I get it. Your time is tight, you are sleep deprived and your priority, rightly so is your family; I understand this and I do not begrudge you your life. I don’t mind our short punctuated conversations that are mostly centered on the chaos (your word) that is your life, and I am fine having to be the one who schleps across town (or the world) to see you and it’s no problem picking up milk on my way. I don’t mind your offspring joining us as we catch up. I am happy to be the fun aunty. I will even babysit for you. I am not even bothered when your tot spills juice on my Gucci tote (well not that bothered).

But hello remember me? Please do not dismiss my life as less than. You are right I don’t know all that goes into raising a child, but please don’t say my life is easier or less complicated than yours. Understand when you had your child not only did your life change, so too did mine. I understand our relationship cannot function as it did but I need for you to spend an incey bit of that tight time considering me – we’re thinking of getting a dog, our search for a bigger house continues, I’m taking barre classes, I’m considering a career change, I heard the funniest story, I’m finally doing the business mentoring I’ve talked about for years, Orange may be in right now but it is still the most hideous colour, got tickets to see Hedda Gabler at the National remember when we had to act it out at school? I had to have a hs-CRP test to check my protein levels, what about Corrie seriously how clueless can Eileen be about yet another guy and what about that xenophobe campaigning for President in the US scary stuff  – this is my life, it all means something to me, it used to mean something to you. I need you to hear me every now and then or at least just tell me its gonna be alright. The last thing I want to do is put more pressure on you but just a little consideration please!

Love your friend-who-does-not-have-children

And Talking about scary stuff, less than two months! The most insane show on this planet comes to its climax in less than two months, then depending on the outcome we may have to endure a second show, I’ve given it a working title – The End of Everything Good. Seriously though, when you consider the candidacy for an elected official you are never going to like everything about the person. As long as we are able to think for ourselves we will always have own unique views, so voting is a process of who represents you best based on information you have. We know more about Hillary Rodham Clinton than any other candidate in any election in any country ever – FACT. I’m a fan, something I have never made a secret of but even I have been disappointed in her at times, like with her flip flopping over the years on the issue of same sex marriage (she got there in the end) so yes absolutely she is as flawed as you and I, but speaking of flaws consider the alternative. I’m not saying anything new here, however it is my duty as a concerned citizen of the world to speak up and keep speaking up for all that is pure, honest and good. Think about how Hitler rose to power and all the evil he unleashed and then consider all the similarities the GOP nominee has so far with him…  Americans, this election comes down to one question: What kind of human being are you? #I’mWithHer #YouShouldBeToo #ObamaOutHillaryIn  To know me is to know I covet Gwyneth Paltrow’s legs oops I mean wardrobe, so how excited am I she has released a clothing line and made it so accessible. Now if I can only grow longer legs! #VeryExcited #GOOPGeek  2016 the year of loss continues. Gene Wilder, oh what memories – the characters you gave us, the comedy you created especially with that other cool kid Richard Pryor pure magic. Charmian Carr – I still parade around in an imaginary gazebo, beloved Liesel forever sixteen going on seventeen. So long farewell Gene and Charmian thank you for the gems you leave us.

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this kiwi girl muses about… decision making

I suffer from anxiety.
Its newish.
The residual from some shit that went down a few years ago.
I have gotten used to it.
Maybe too much.

For the most part its manageable. Except when it’s not. I find there is a very fine line between me controlling it and it controlling me. Like when it comes to making decisions. I used to be someone who would just DO, jump right in and think later. It might not sound like the smartest way to be but for the most part it was. Now life has become this myriad of thought processes. I fret about the what ifs. I wrestle with the whys. I ponder the hows. And I hate it. Its crippling and it gets in the way of the DO-ing.

In the last few months my life has been in a state of flux and I have found myself overwhelmed by the decisions that have to be made. I hear you saying ‘but sometimes decisions can be overwhelming for everyone…’ and I feel ya but I’ll raise ya, for my kind of overwhelming manifests into acute chest pain, shortness of breath and nausea and these are symptoms I am okay admitting to, there are others… I can’t be doing with it anymore. I want to get back to being a DOer with this mind here’s what is working for me right now:

Just Dance. When I was a teen my number one stress buster was to dance. I don’t mean ballet or any other professional dance although I did do that, I mean I would close my room door, crank up some tunes and dance my little butt off. As an adult, dancing has been limited to clubs or gigs but I have reintroduced dancing into my life and it just feels so damn good sometimes it’s hard to stop. So once dancing has got me all calm and happy…
I’m starting with the man girl in the mirror. Taking a long hard look at myself, with my objective hat on, I visualise the situation, my role and desired outcome. I hold this vision until I can feel it and then…
It’s the things we didn’t do that we regret later in life. I ask myself will this matter in one week, one month, one year? Will this take me closer or further away from the future I envision. This litmus test always gives me the dose of perspective I need to make the best call but ultimately…
Go with your gut. Before anxiety became my bag, I was very well acquainted with my gut. It’s why I was able to do all the DO-ing. And it is when I stopped listening to it I got myself into all kinds of trouble which resulted in my anxiety. Oh what a tangle web we weave!
Being in an anxious state makes it difficult to see the decision with clarity, so you procrastinate, deflect or ignore making a decision. The gut is the collection of all your subconscious experiences, and it always has your back so if I wanted to get back to being a DOer I had to get reacquainted with my gut. We are still getting to know each other again at this point but when I question why I have been questioning a situation at all… my gut ultimately makes the final decision for me.

Moral of my story – become besties with your gut, listen to it, trust it and follow it.

Sat Nam

Also… Prince. Marvel. Legend. Visionary. Funkmiester. Gone too soon. Another light switched off, I say another with such a heavy heart, this year has been an awful year of loss and its only May. Please stop… my heart can’t take much more. Seeing him perform at Madison Square Garden is one of my favourite gigs – the acoustics, the musicality, the vibe – he had it all going on which is why it royally pisses me off that it looks like he died a drugs related death. This was a man who was vegan, athletic, devout in his faith, principled – that a man who fought so vehemently for creative control over his work should succumb to something so friggin basic! No its not how it should have been, he wasn’t of the same pathetic ilk as Michael or Whitney. It’s all wrong. And yet it’s all true, he is gone, the man named Prince Rogers Nelson. Gone. Be still my heart. Long May He Reign. Nothing Compares.


8 Comments

the answer is always LOVE

Peace

All weekend I have been trying to make sense of the senseless and I have come up with nothing. Zilch. Nada for my woe so here I am stuck in this weltschmerz state of mind.

That human beings are capable of such awful atrocities towards their fellow brothers and sisters is not something I – a believer in all things peace and love – can even begin to comprehend AND yet here we are again AND we will be here again and again until… until what I don’t know. All I know is the world we have come to know, the times we are living cannot be changed by normal allopathic means. The time is upon us for that awakening. That energy shift. That big fat bloody miracle.

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’~Martin Luther King, Jr.

How many of us have been fortunate enough to fall in love with Paris, well now the time has come to fall in love again. Whatever you believe in; a god, the universe, an energy vibration, an ing (as I call it) or even if you have no belief system, believe this:  We – as the wonderseekers, global citizens, inhabitants of planet Earth, lovers of life – have a challenge before us, these attacks in Paris, Beirut, Baghdad seek to divide us. They aim to turn us into an us-versus-them society. We cannot allow this to happen nor can we rely only on the leaders of the world or ‘someone else’ to resolve this. The revolution of LOVE starts with you in every breath you take, every thought you think, every word you say, every prayer you pray, every action you make, every time you meditate – it’s on you. If I sound like I am repeating myself from other posts that is because the answer is always LOVE and I will keep going until I feel that seismic change which humanity needs in order to thrive.

So are you with me? If your answer is anything but yes – what is the alternative? Wait for that elusive someone or something else to heal our world and change your FaceBook profile picture every time something senseless happens. Solidarity matters but from where I’m standing it is not enough. I don’t think there is a choice. In the words of Michael Jackson and a legion of others ‘There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one… We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones to make a brighter day so let’s start giving. There’s a choice we’re making, we’re SAVING OUR OWN LIVES…’ #LetsDoThis

Sat Nam

Pour tous mes frères et sœurs à Paris and to all my brothers and sisters in Beirut, Baghdad and in all the world amour et la lumière tant d’amour et de lumière pour nous tous love and light so much love and light for us all xxx (thank you to my father who insisted I continue with French lessons instead of taking up typing or computer studies at school – it has come in very useful in the last few days, merci beaucoup père)

Also in the news:  “No one puts children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.” Home by #WarsanShire. As we have been told, the diaspora of refugees has had a causal impact in the Paris attacks as, at least one of the people responsible used the refugee route to get into Europe. How many more reasons does there need to be to resolve this crisis! #RefugeeCrisis #TheTimeisNow #GivePrayLove ♥ Adele’s new song meh! Yes she has a phenomenal voice and yes her previous work was fab but that doesn’t mean everything she sings is worthy of number one. I did enjoy seeing Dixon from 90210 in the video though #TooMuchHype ♥ Election victory for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. About time! I love the countenance of this woman, I feel peaceful when I look at her face, obviously this has nothing to do with her leadership but any person who sacrifices precious time with their dying spouse for the love of their country and its people gets my vote. #ItsFinallyYourTime #WhoRunTheWorld

 


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one size fits all

Do you think you breathe properly? I’m here to tell you, chances are you probably don’t, most likely you are a ‘shallow’ breather (as in you only use your chest). Unless you specifically seek it out, learning to breathe properly is not a life skill we are taught, mores the pity for breathing properly creates a positive domino effect in every aspect of your life and who’s saying no to that right?

I say this from experience for, it wasn’t until I took up meditation that I discovered a) just how lousey a breather I was b) the benefits gained in getting this breathing gig right; and as someone who suffers from anxiety I can’t tell you enough how this – to be able to apply a breathing technique to counterbalance any threat of a panic attack – has changed my confidence and all round mental health. The reason for this, as Yogis have always known and the medical profession finally agrees with, is because breathing is intimately connected to the autonomic nervous system and the mind. Don’t worry I’m not going to go into the science of why you should be using your diaphragm when you breathe or why breathing through your nose is much better for your health, that would be too much for a science dunce like me to explain, I’ll leave that for you to GOOGLE, instead I am just going to share my go-to breathing practice for anxiety.

Here goes:
♠Close your mouth. Breathe in through your nose counting to four as you inhale.
♠Hold your breath again counting to four.
♠Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of four.
♠Pause for four.

This is one breath. Repeat the cycle as the practice gains in power with repetition. Continuing this breathing for one minute or for four full breaths is good start for a beginner. As you improve you can increase your counts to six then eight and your body will tell you when you are ready to stop.

This one size fits all tool has served me well. It’s easy once you get the hang of it AND it really works in alleviating stress and restoring calm AND it is so handy to have up your sleeve, ready to use whenever wherever you are aware of any internal tension.

Sat Nam

Also this week: My favourite instagram follow HUMANSOFNY is currently sharing stories from refugees in Europe/Middle East. I urge you to read/follow if you haven’t already, en masse the crisis feels daunting and impersonal but reading these individual stories provides context – feel your stomach clench in knots and the tears roll down your cheeks – its hard to digest but it’s real and if it projects you into doing something proactive to help PLEASE DO #HealtheWorld #MakeItABetterPlace • As a rule I am anti religion, spiritual yes but religion can go do one as far I’m concerned but this Pope Francis he seems a bit alright; progressive and remorseful in all the right places #ImaStMarysOldGirl • And at the very other end of the progressive spectrum – this Putin guy, I don’t get his motivation at all. If I ruled a country I would push my country to thrive in all areas. Putin has done the opposite over and over; LGBT rights, freedom of the Press, Ukraine, Syria and okay you hate America but learn to communicate in English effectively – seriously you’ve been around too long not to, surely that must be a prerequisite for world domination 101.  #WhatWouldTolstoyThink • RWC15 the All Blacks are through to the quarter finals, no surprises there. I won’t say anything about England except that I was gutted #ImaFauxBrit but #aRealProperKiwi #goABs


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debunking

Med

I meditate. Morning and night and anytime in between if desired. One of the questions I get asked a lot is how do you find time to do it? My response – do you have time to breathe? It really is that basic, well it is to me at least and as I believe meditation should be an essential part of every soul’s journey I’ve set about debunking (love that word) some commonly held myths about meditation – myths I myself held at one point in my life – and by doing so just maybe (if you haven’t already embraced it) convince you to give it a try.

Myth No. 1: I can’t because… I don’t have time. If you have time to check Facebook then you have time to meditate. If you have time to sit in front of the tele then you have time to meditate. If Oprah and Rupert Murdoch have time to meditate then you have time to meditate. There is an old Zen saying: ‘You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.’ Here’s the reality: Meditation actually makes you more efficient, present and productive with your day-to-day. Author Peter Bregman writes that “Meditation makes you more productive. How? By increasing your capacity to resist distracting urges.” He continues, “Our ability to resist an impulse determines our success in learning a new behavior or changing an old habit. It’s probably the single most important skill for our growth and development. As it turns out, that’s one of the things meditation teaches us. It’s also one of the hardest to learn.”

I currently meditate 43 minutes first thing in the morning and eleven minutes before bed and in between I add in mini meditations (one-three minutes) just to bring some awareness into my day. Now it comes easy but it took years for me to get into this routine, I chose to commit then made a conscientious effort to keep at it. If meditation becomes a priority in your life, you will find time for it. Start small, even just a few minutes at a time is better than no minutes.

Myth No. 2: I can’t because… I can’t be sitting crossed leg. The lotus position is the ideal position to sit but it is not the only acceptable position. The Lotus Pose or Padmasana is the über pose when meditating because, by aligning the spine and opening the channels that run through the centre of the body, upright sitting encourages an unimpeded circulation of prana (energy); which in turn contributes to wakefulness on all levels — physical, mental, and spiritual AND it is a very balanced and symmetrical posture, which means the body can be held motionless with the least distractions.

However lotus position does require open hips and a lot of practice seeing as most of us won’t have sat cross legged much since leaving school. Meditation is meant to be calming and relatively easy so if lotus causes discomfort in any way you can stand up, sit on a chair or even lie down (just watch you don’t fall asleep), just as long as your spine is reasonably straight.

Myth No. 3: I can’t because… I don’t think I can still my thoughts. There is this idea that meditation is about banishing or controlling thoughts but just like you cannot stop hearing you cannot stop thinking. Try it. The more you resist the more it persists. The practice of meditation is to observe what happens in the mind in a non-judgmental way, and by focusing your mind on something else (an image, mantra, your breathing) you consciously withdraw your attention away from these thoughts, this allows the mind to slowly calm down. Anytime you catch your monkey mind wandering then you bring it back to the present moment (to your meditation) again and again and again and again. As you continue to practice, in time you will notice that although thoughts are present you aren’t getting lost in their content.

Myth No. 4: I can’t because… It’s not for me. For years I held the preconceived idea that meditation only worked for the devoutly religious or tripped out hippies and whilst being a tripped out hippie has always appealed to me, even as meditation grew into a global widely known practice I stubbornly resolved ‘I wasn’t that type of person.’ However it is my belief that you can talk yourself in or out of anything, so if you think meditation isn’t for you than it probably isn’t but I think if you feel a calling for it like I did or just simply want to give it a go – then it is absolutely for you. There is no right type of person when it comes to meditation. All that is required of you is that you show up and commit to the practice.

Myth No. 5: I can’t because… I would feel silly chanting. Then don’t or do and feel silly anyway. There are so many types of meditation and ways to meditate, some involve chanting of mantras but there are plenty others that don’t. I have a friend who says running is her meditation and another who says he feels he is meditating when he is out hiking. At different stages of my study I have learnt mindfulness meditation (non chant), mantra meditation (chant), guided meditation (non chant), kundalini meditation (chant) and transcendental meditation (chant). That said don’t discount the merit (and fun) of chanting altogether, the silliness won’t last but the feel good sensation you have inside will. I’ve always found when I take myself out of my comfort zone that’s when l thrive.

Myth No. 6: I can’t because… I’m already a better person Maybe you are but isn’t there always room for improvement. Meditation came into my life when I was living an unhappy chaotic existence. I’ve mentioned previously that it was calling, I’ll explain why. Years ago I was walking down the high street near my home and I walked passed a monk, not an usual occurrence I didn’t live near temple or anything like that, so he was noticed by moi. Next day same again, this time he smiled at me. Then the next day I said to myself before leaving home ‘I wonder if I will see that monk again.’ I walked along the same street looking out for him but to no avail so I went about my business and forgot about him. Three hours later eight tube stops away I bumped into him outside Pizza Express in Baker Street. He caught me staring at him, we smiled at each other as if acknowledging a comrade. That night and for the following four nights I dreamt of that monk, each time he would be in meditation. After that fifth night I woke up feeling a call to meditate, I actually said out loud ‘that’s what I’m going to do.’ I never saw that monk again in real life or in my dreams.

To put this story into context at this point in my life I was looking for something – meaning, purpose anything… I’d read so many books The Art of Loving, The Celestial Prophecy, The Secret, a little Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hanh and on and on, learnt The Kabbalah(some), seen tarot card readers and psychics, dabbled in yoga but hadn’t found a practice I enjoyed yet, had my astrology chart done, you name it I was trying it or at least thinking about trying it – all the while I was ‘finding’ myself  I was also engaging in destructive behaviours – nothing was sticking. Then I had this experience and I just knew. Something had finally stuck. It was one of those moments I could feel the universe had my back. Does meditation make me a better person? It definitely helps. I found my way in meditation and my regular practice leaves me feeling energised and this incredible feeling filters through into all areas of my life. I see it as an addenda like eating greens and drinking water.

I find myself going into a meditative state in the most unlikely places like when I’m dancing or more recently colouring, as in colouring in books (yes its a thing, adults do it now too) and that’s because there are no rules when it comes to meditation, no right or wrong way, all it takes is commitment but then so does anything worth having in life.

Sat Nam

Also this week: Gold for Jessica Ennis-Hill at World Championships in Beijing, whop whop! #WonderWomanlives • And while we are in China… how about that stock market! Aiya! #DominoDancing • ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in memory of my brother’s pet frogs Dre, Tupac, Snoop and Warren G I think I want to see this movie #BoyzntheHood #OldSkool • 1D to split, to you fans – I feel your pain, I went through it with Wham #ItDoesGetBetter #1DAnonymous

 


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embracing love

KeithHaringLike many of you, I feel heartsick thinking about the unconscionable loss of lives and the destruction caused by the earthquake(s) in Nepal. When tragedy like this happens I struggle with the ‘why,’ it churns over and over in my head until I feel like I’m going to burst. Of course what I think or feel doesn’t make the tragedy not exist so I know there is no point on dwelling, what is done is done, so I am trying to let go of the negativity and focus on embracing love.

Mother Theresa said ‘Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action’ and because I believe god is in the details I’ve compiled a quick list of ways to take responsibility for our own energy to embrace love (in addition to other goodies like meditation, prayer, being in gratitude…):

  1. Allow yourself a little extra sleep. I say this because sleep is something, as I wrote previously  I had to learn to appreciate. Now that I understand the value of sleep I actively try to get a little extra now and then whether it’s by going to bed a half hour earlier or sleeping in an extra fifteen minutes. I always feel better for it.
  2. Replace strenuous exercise with something less intense like yin yoga. I have an exercise regimen which I am very strict in following daily but I have learnt that is okay to have a day off but because it is not in my nature to do absolutely nothing, I find yin yoga to be a good substitute on these down days.
  3. Express yourself creatively. Dance and sing, get up and do your thing. When you are engaged in something fun and expressive you are less likely to stress and over-think.
  4. Tell someone you value “I want you to know you make a difference in my life. Thank you for being you.” It’s an instant feel good for the recipient and for you.
  5. Identify what you’re really seeking from technology. This is huge bugbear for me, for the growing reliance on technology does not sit well with me at all. I am pretty good at being disciplined about how long I spend online but I know there is still room to improve. There was time before Facebook and Twitter, it’s a bit hazy now but it did exist and it wasn’t so bad so whether it is acceptance, acknowledgment, or stimulation you are seeking from technology, switch off and look for ways to get that without logging on.
  6. Stop what you’re doing and look directly into their eyes when someone is talking to you. It is something I do naturally – maintain eye contact but increasingly in this age of smart technology it is getting rarer that I see people doing so with me. It’s not just good manners, it also makes you more appealing.
  7. Count successes. Coulda, woulda, shoulda… it’s human nature to think about what didn’t happen. Well I say Meh! to that and instead make a note of all the things you’ve done well, and give yourself permission to be proud instead of frustrated with what you haven’t done.

A special epoch in my life came many many moons ago when I shared a flat in London with one of my treasured friends and her partner (now husband). Looking back, we were very much like The Odd Couple for while we had a shared history (same school, same ballet class and a love of English literature), she loved to hoard and I so did not, and where I like routine she rocked a more boho vibe. Despite this, I am constantly reminded of the many lessons I learnt while we cohabited; for where I would reserve weekends for mundane tasks like house cleaning she would encourage me to:

  1. Be Together. She taught me to relax and enjoy each other’s company. One our favourite things to do on a Sunday was to veg on a sofa and watch the Eastenders omnibus or some obscure channel 5 show whilst drinking copious cups of tea.
  2. Go outside and immerse yourself in nature. With Hyde Park at our doorstep we used to frequent those grounds all the time. Before I was never one to like being near trees or grass but in this time I learnt how to make daisy hair bands and to love the feel of grass underneath my feet, dancing in the rain, laying like broccoli on the grass watching birds fly by and star gazing. What I didn’t realise at the time was I learning how to be mindful.
  3. Set aside some time to play. It probably speaks to our sensibilities but we did the most silliest of things; go out in our pyjamas, eat cake for breakfast, skip whilst holding hands and it was so much fun. As we get older and focus on the minutiae of life we tend forget what awful fun it is to stop thinking so much and be childlike. Okay you might look a bit naff on a swing but I bet you would have the time of your life swinging.

‘When we function from a place of positive energy, the world around us becomes more positive.’~Gabrielle Bernstein

In the spirit of this post today – embracing love  –  please join me in sending a kiss to the sky for our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in Nepal (and in Tibet and India) AND spare a thought for a very courageous man… one Bruce Jenner. Never in this lifetime did I think I would ever say this but it seems that there is a redeemable member in THAT family. To Bruce, your bravery will save lives, sending so much love to you as you go about your journey to be who you authentically are.

Sat Nam


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this princess needs her sleep

sleepI’m not the greatest television watcher – no patience for the ads you see – so I tend to dip in and out of shows. Last week was one of those weeks in which I dipped right in, like many Eastenders fans I was sat watching each episode with bated breath during live week and I’m still reeling from the shock that Kathy is alive (only in soap land can a character not be truly dead, note to the Coro producers, bring back Haley – Roy’s not same without her, he’s beating up people). Anyway I digress Eastenders live week came with so much hype… the whodunit element, the live segments and the 30th anniversary of the show.. that every night I was left wonting, impatient for the next episode. It’s the kind of tele that renders one unable to sleep. Being unable to sleep is something I know all too well. That’s why I had to do something about it.

Now I know people who love to sleep, they say they function better on a good night’s sleep and I always mistook this for weakness, for I was the better person because I could exist on minimal sleep. A completely asinine thought I know that now, but only after a severe bout of insomnia. Sometimes it takes being deprived of something to understand the importance of it in your life, to then take action to get it back.

So take action I did, unable to help myself, I sought out a hypnotherapist who help me to see how I had been suffering serious sleep debt for most of my adult life. Through hypnosis I learnt to sleep again, to sleep longer and deeper but unless I wanted to listen to a recording every night I knew I had to figure out how to sleep better naturally. I did my research, spoke to a load of folk; my therapist, nutritionist, friends, even my manager at work, listened to subliminal messaging recordings and I read articles (I bypassed books, only now when I think about it, reading a book on ‘how to sleep better’ might have been just the ticket to put me to sleep), dipped into a little ASMR and I even emailed a professor of sleep but received no reply. Don’t you think it bizarre how we know we need sleep but we rarely spare a thought on why we do other than because we are tired.

“I have one piece of advice for you: sleep your way to the top.” ~ Arianna Huffington

Turns out I had always been pretty rubbish when it came to sleep. It wasn’t just that I was sleeping less, whatever sleep I was getting would be interrupted by a slight sound, the need to pee, checking my phone for texts/calls/emails/Facebook or angst of the previous day; and once I was up I found it difficult to get back to sleep. So on average I would sleep for four hours. Actually let me rephrase that for full impact – on average I was functioning on four hours sleep a night (except when I was on the sauce, of course then I would sleep like a baby).

Bona fide ways I improved my sleep
Change Mindset: This was a game changer for me as I held the belief that sleep was a waste of time and the idea of sleeping more actually made me feel more anxious which obviously defeated the purpose. In one conversation I had with my therapist he said ‘sleep is not a guilty pleasure.’ Now I have a mother who is always on the go and who survives on very little sleep and I guess I fancied myself to be just like her so remained delusional in equating sleep with reduced productivity so guilt hung like a noose around my neck. This was why I researched sleep in the first place I needed to understand the impact the sleep in order to think and act differently. I learnt to not feel guilty about having a lie-in, or going to bed early. Even extra hour of sleep a day can make all the difference, as your body switches off and calms down so the brain can reprocess the day in turn helping you get over a particularly stressful day. Some scientists believe a good night’s sleep can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease as it allows the brain to sift and store memories. There is an abundance of benefits.

Eat/Drink: Maintain a balanced diet as fluctuating blood sugar levels can trigger early waking. Don’t eat too late in the evening(leave at least two hours between eating and sleeping). Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol after 3pm as the sugar and caffeine will keep you awake and you’ll miss out on those precious extra hours. Also limit the amount of tea and coffee you consume to 2-3 max a day.

Exercise: Exercise in the late afternoon as you’ll tire yourself out, leading to a deeper sleep BUT avoid exercise within a couple of hours before bedtime as exercise will give you energy and you are less likely to get a good night’s rest.

Take those devices out of the bedroom: How did we survive before smart phones, tablets, laptops even tele? I still marvel at the way these gadgets have taken over our lives.  In any case not only do they disturb pillow talk, the blue light in them halts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin so get rid of them from the bedroom.

Meditate: Mindfulness is proven to reduce the time taken to fall to sleep and improve sleep quality, the way to do this is instead of dwelling on stressful thoughts, notice and let go of them by focusing on how cosy your duvet and pillow are, watch how the light reflects around the room, having an awareness on your body and the room around you. I’ve been meditating for a good few years now but even so I didn’t connect the idea of meditation to a good night’s sleep, introducing a nightly meditation into my life made an vast improvement to my state of mind thus making sleep easier

Stay in bed: Bringing in these improvements didn’t change my sleep pattern overnight, I still woke up in the night. I had to resist the urge to get out of bed in the middle of the night as getting up trains the body to wake up more frequently.

Regular routine: Much like the aforementionedno alcohol after 3 pm,’ keeping to a regular routine is not an easy feat but heading to bed at roughly the same time each night strengthens the link between the night-time and sleep consequently keeping your body clock on an even keel.

AND here are some other ways that are said to assist with better sleep: Ensure the bedroom is conducive to a good sleep (ideally it should be quiet, cool, dark, comfortable and about 17°), Invest in a good bed, and don’t hit the snooze button when you wake up (you are most refreshed after unbroken sleep), recharge with a power nap (no more than 30 minutes).

“A problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” ~ John Steinbeck

We’re all guilty of aiming to have an early night but being distracted by our phones or binge-watching a television show or in my case a movie I’ve already seen like a million times already… only to realise its past one and you have to be up early the next day. That sleep is vital to your good health and well being is like saying you need to brush your teeth twice daily for dental hygiene – a no-brainer right? But like brushing your teeth it is worth taking a few seconds to consider if your sleep routine is ensuring you reap the many benefits sleep provides.

As for my own sleep journey I am happy to report that I am much better friends with sleep, we meet on average for at least six uninterrupted hours most nights; and the difference in my cognitive function is evident every time I do The Guardian crossword, which I can now finish in under fifteen minutes something I couldn’t never do before (she says with smug grin).

Sat Nam


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its all about the detox

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So January is all about the detox according to the many headlines I’m seeing gracing the covers of magazines and in the lifestyle section of newspapers: Whether you buy into it or not, it is true that all that indulgent eating and drinking over the festive period can leave you feeling bloated, tired or just plain old unhealthy, so it’s important to take a moment to take stock and put some goodness back into the body. I actually started my new simple health kick a while back when one of my favourite Real Housewives Yolanda Foster tweeted about the merits of it. She made it sound so healthy, and best of all so easy – I had to try it and now because I love it and it being that time of year I feel the need to share it with you.

Every morning before I have breakfast, I now drink a glass of lemon water.

Not that big of a deal right? And that’s exactly the point. Read on.

So much goodness. The more I dig the more benefits I find:
1) I’m pretty confident that like me, you have known since you were a youngin’ that vitamin C is a good thing however what you may not know is that the level of vitamin C in your system is one of the first things to plummet when you’re stressed; this is why we are told to take extra vitamin C during stressful days or when we are starving off a cold – what better way to get a jump on this than by drinking lemon water regularly.
2) It helps flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function and acts as a liver cleanser by assisting in detoxification. It purifies and stimulates the liver by encouraging the production of bile, an acid required for digestion. Lemon water can also help control excess bile flow, decrease the amount of phlegm produced by the body and assist in dissolving gallstones
3) Speaking of digestion, the digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion like belching, bloating and heartburn AND If you’re having trouble pooping, drinking lemon water will help to get things going.
4) Your body needs to be slightly alkaline to be at its healthiest as disease states can only occur when the body pH is acidic. Drinking lemon water regularly can help to remove overall acidity in the body thus balance your pH level(acidic level). Yes lemons are acidic on their own but once they are inside our bodies like magic, they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized).
5) The vitamin C and other antioxidants in a lemon mean that drinking lemon water can help to keep skin blemish free and rejuvenated from within the body.
6) Lemons are an excellent source of potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as brain and nerve function meaning drinking lemon water provides your body with energy when it enters your digestive tract, and helps reduce anxiety and depression. I have even heard that the scent of lemons can have a calming effect on your nervous system.
7) Drinking lemon water combats the bacteria in your mouth thus lessens the potential for bad breath.
8) As well as vitamin C and potassium, it is also a great source of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, all of which we need in our bodies to function normally.

How to drink:
If you weigh less than 70kgs to a 350ml glass of water* add the juice of half a lemon. If you weigh more than 70kgs, the same as above x 2 (to drink at different times of the day).
The quantity of water (350mls/approx 12oz) is important because our bodies can only metabolize this quantity of water at a time.
Optimal time to drink it is first thing in the morning that way you get the benefits of it throughout your day.
*Filtered water that is warm or room temperature will provide the most health benefits as it  allows for the full enzymatic and energetic properties of the lemon to do it’s magic. If you like a hot drink in the morning, warm lemon water is the best choice. The argument against drinking boiling hot lemon water is that whilst it is soothing when you are sick or in cold weather – the heat will destroy some of the enzymatic properties of the fresh lemon juice and on the opposite side of the spectrum the reason to avoid drinking ice cold lemon water is because it may hinder the digestive benefits of the lemon. In addition, even though your body will heat up the ice cold lemon water, it requires more energy and more work for the body.

Eyes Wide Open:
It feels quite ironic that one must be cautious when drinking lemon water BUT there are a few disclaimers to regular drinking you should know about before you start. As good as it is, citric acid from the lemon can eat away at the enamel on your teeth but as long as you are not using it like mouthwash your teeth will be fine. An alternative is to drink through a straw and/or use a baking powder toothpaste (I use Arm & Hammer Advance White) or rinse your mouth with plain water after drinking the lemon water. Secondly, and  this is more for me because I’m tend to be lazy and forgo the use of a strainer/juicer, you shouldn’t ingest the seeds of the lemon. They taste disgusting for one but more importantly they contain small amounts of salicylic acid which is the main ingredient in aspirin. Lastly (and obviously) if you are allergic to lemons this is not for you.

Results so far:
I initially started this as a fifteen day detox (as with any habit to notice a difference you need to keep it up for at least two weeks) but now in my fourth week I have decided to continue with it as it is just so easy to do and I do feel generally healthier, as in everything seems to be working as it should.

This one simple yet substantial action can make make such a difference to your entire well being, if you aren’t doing it get to it I say. Its a win win situation.

Hope your New Year has started happy. Sending much love.

Sat Nam


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being thankful

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It is time for Thanksgiving yet again and even though it is not something I celebrate, a public holiday dedicated to giving thanks is my idea of the very best kind of public holiday. If I ruled the world I would make every country adopt the concept – ha!

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Jean Baptiste Massieu

Seriously though, being and feeling grateful has changed the way I live and look at my life. It gives me a total buzz and every time I say the words ‘I am grateful…’ my heart swells, what’s more I know that the times I have failed or forgotten to be grateful I have experienced the lowest ebbs in my life so now I make sure I cultivate being and feeling grateful in every aspect of my life. When I wake in the morning I go through a mental list of all things I am grateful for, as I walk to the bathroom I am being grateful. I continue being grateful as my day progresses for the different activities I am doing and the people I’m interacting with and at the end of the day before I close my eyes to sleep, I say thank you for the day I have had and for the day that is come.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” Maya Angelou  

The more I am grateful the more I find to be grateful for AND I have realised happiness and gratitude are mutually inclusive – you will never be truly happy if you are not grateful and if you are not truly grateful you are not happy.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Cicero

Thank you for reading, please feel free to share what you are grateful for in comments.

Sat Nam

 


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good morning beautiful people

morning

My favourite time of day is first thing in the morning. I love waking to the idea of a new day with no mistakes on it yet and in order to start the day off on a positive vibe this what I do before I get out of bed:

My guru once told me if you have forgotten the language of gratitude you will never be on speaking terms with happiness. accordingly I have made an attitude of gratitude a focal point in my life. I start expressing gratitude the second I am conscious, I go through a mental dump of all the things I am grateful for. It’s a fun exercise I’m always finding the most peculiar things to be grateful for.

Forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes. Through self forgiveness (and I’m all about forgiveness these days) I find I cleanse myself of any regret and/or baggage and hence forth set myself up to start the new day with just a focus on the present.

For no particular reason other than to flex the muscle I like to smile for about a minute.

To wake up my body up and for mental clarity I take five long deep saturating breaths in and out (the in through your nose, feel it in your lungs  and out through your mouth kind).

I like to give my eyes a bit of a workout so I do a little yoga for my eyes this involves blinking, near and far viewing, side to side viewing. I know this sounds a little woo woo but we live in the age of smart devices, and I already wear glasses for seeing long distances so I’m trying to limit further damage to my eyesight.

You know that saying start as you mean to go on that is why I like to set my intention for the day first thing in the morning, it helps to focus my mind.

And then it is time to meditate as the sun rises.

Tell me about your mornings: Are you a morning person? Do you have any kind of early morning routine?

Sat Nam