Every year World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October. One day to highlight a massive problem. There are often no obvious signs that someone is suffering until their body complains, they are overcome with emotions like fear and then it can feel like it is too late.
For some, it has become too late.
Anxiety and depression can affect anyone.
When I was in the corporate world mental health was not discussed, but as a manager, I was very aware when people around me were not coping. Many a private conversation, a cuppa and a walk in the fresh air have provided someone with the space to be heard and to be empowered to take some other action towards better choices.
This is not always the case when you work alone or you are living with others whose needs come first.
Quite a few years ago, I found myself in front of the doctor complaining that despite the many miles I trudged every day with my dog, I couldn’t breathe. He asked me some questions and suddenly there was my space to be heard.
We talked about who I was living with, what the relationship was like, work and general health. I explained that for the previous two years I’d struggled with sleep and had tried everything I could think of. I remember him laughing at the comprehensive list I handed over. He glanced over it and said quietly ‘you have anxiety and it is no wonder.’
Walking away with a prescription for Prozac felt like the end of the world. Having been a party animal I was used to abusing my body for fun, this felt very different. I felt a failure.
Before long I was sleeping and a calm descended. Deep inside I was ashamed of giving in and although I didn’t want anyone to know, I found myself sharing with two friends.
At the start of taking them I had an exit strategy. Changing my diet and writing in my journal became an essential part of my healing.
I was a bit silly with my diet and cut out practically everything that could possibly be an allergen to anyone, ever. Losing vast quantities of weight did nothing for my skin and my skinny legs looked more matches like every day. I didn’t love me so I couldn’t and didn’t look in the mirror.
By the Christmas of that same year, I stopped taking them. Then the then husbands mother had come to live. She had dementia and he was a bully, I felt trapped and alone so I went back on the pills. It was the only way I could cope.
I poured my heart into my journal and I recall one night when lying awake staring at the ceiling I knew it was time for me to die. While everyone slept I Googled ways of dying. They all looked painful. What the fuck can I do I screamed silently into the slumbering beams?
Held by the most fragile gossamer, I realised I wasn’t meant to die but I was dead inside.
Shortly after his mother’s death, I weaned myself off Prozac (again) and tried to get back to some normality.
Time moves on and in January 2018 several years after I left the bully, my spine fractured and so it seems did my life.
I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. It didn’t surprise me to learn that there is a link between this and depression.
I was scared. But also determined, somewhere under my jumper was a brave soul who was not going backwards into a slump.
The specialist doctor simply handed me a prescription and told me to go to the gym. I was in pain. The fear escalated like nothing before.
I found solace with my pen and knew in a short while that I couldn’t let this new path just lead me astray, I needed to focus. It was then that I decided to pour my energy into a book so that others would be able to understand my reasoning for natural healing, have a basis to work from and create their healing path.
The fear took it’s time to abate. Feel the fear always reminds me of a book called Feel the fear and do it anyway. However, the last thing I wanted was to feel the fear, or do it, whatever ‘it’ was, I wanted answers. I wanted information and knowledge so that I could work through the fear in my way.
How could I take action, if I didn’t know what I was up against? Sure I knew that the medical system that I had just encountered would not support me, but I had to know what this thing was and how you reverse it. Knowledge is power, and without it you are helpless.
In my journal, I asked what was going to come at me next? In some way, I needed to know that I could press a cancel button and this would all go away. It didn’t. At least not straight away.
They say that peak performance equals potential minus interference and that the body’s prime objective is to keep you safe. What then in each of us is causing interference that contributes to this feeling of being unsafe?
If you search on the Internet for fear, you will see a list of names for fear of things. Just as if you search for it internally, you will find it. For me putting a label on to something gives your body permission to embed it.
If you own it, in my opinion, things can only get worse. Yes, you have something to deal with, but do not own the fear beyond your initial reaction to your news. Ok, easier said than done and I understand that.
Some people tell us that the opposite of living in or with fear is to live fearlessly, but these words don’t resonate with me either. I don’t like it because the fear word is part of it. Although I like the idea of being fear-less so that there is less fear. It’s more how you deal with it. This is where lots of other things like faith, trust and courage come into play. These are the friends of fear.
I kept wondering why if the bodies prime objective is to keep you safe, did I hurt so much? This was both physical and emotional pain. I certainly did not feel safe.
Fear is another emotion, like anger, sadness, joy, and love. In this case, the fear was triggered by a perceived threat. I felt threatened by osteoporosis and the system. I knew enough about osteoporosis as my mum has lived with it for years and that scared me too.
Triggers can come at you from anywhere, and this was certainly happening. Think for a moment outside of fear, what might trigger you to become angry or to have a gorgeous belly laugh.
I know that to deal with my anger, I used to have an anchor. So that when I felt it arising I would put four words on my fingers – rage – anger – annoyance – miffed. This was how I, in my head counted down my emotion. If not, I guess there would have been a chance that I could have become aggressive. These days I notice and breathe. And so I tried to breathe love into these feelings.
Please don’t think for a moment I have this off to a fine art, can click my fingers and fear or any other emotion is sorted just like that. What I have developed is a way to relax into what is happening and notice how it feels in my body. I usually write to make sense of it, until whatever it abates.
The trouble was that I am visual and I could see all kinds of devastation coming at me from different angles. Which was crazy. Right at the point of hearing my bad news, I knew that my mind would go into temporary insanity. And that’s ok, I figured that’s normal, and I can deal with it. I kept saying over and over again I can deal with this, I can do it, I can…
I used to teach assertiveness skills, so I knew intellectually that in relation to fear, there were several ways that we typically respond. One is to fight and another is to run away. This is known as the fight or flight response.
When we sense danger, our bodies release hormones to an area of the brain called the amygdala. Depending on your response to the danger you may experience a number of things. For example, you may get a racing heart or a bad tummy. What’s important is that you recognise your typical response.
This response is due to cortisol and adrenaline being released into the body. They, in turn, signal the adrenals (on top of your kidneys) to release hormones. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, blood pressure and the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream.
Cortisol also releases increased amounts of glucose into the bloodstream, which your brain needs to deal with the perceived threat. Glucose is food for the brain. The brain with an increased supply of food can do its work. When the fear response diminishes everything goes back to normal.
Problems arise when we constantly live in fear. You may have heard people who are newly diagnosed with something saying that they are constantly tired. That’s possibly because unconsciously they are fearful and the adrenals are taking a pounding. Not only was I in pain, but I was also immensely tired. My body was certainly responding to all of the triggers.
The other thing you may do is panic. What the ‘beep’ am I going to do? Panic is normal, and it’s usually our first response. Think for a moment when as you are driving away from home to go on holiday and you ask, did I turn the iron off? What happens? Yes, panic. Then you calm down as you go through those final steps of closing up the house and you can see yourself doing what you always do, and the iron is off. Of course, you can ring a friend and ask them to pop in to check so that you feel reassured.
Fear will attach itself to the memory of the event, and you will code and remember this memory as a time of potential unpleasantness. Then what we often do is future pace our fear, and this becomes anxiety. You start to worry about things that may never happen.
Sometimes this endless worrying does bring about the event, something which is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have through constant mithering have given your body permission to bring you the thing that you fear the most.
Then there is the interference we mentioned earlier. Once you feel fear, it starts to interfere with your rational and conscious thought. The knock-on effect if you let fear take control it can have a longer-term negative impact on your health.
So if you have something like osteoporosis you are sending more signals to your body which will impact your healing. All of these chemicals while having a place in keeping us safe are now contributing and feeding the condition we want to reverse.
So here we are on the playground of chaos. Before order will always be chaos. Some call osteoporosis a dis-order which to me is a system out of order. When you view your emotions and understand that you have a system that is not in order or is in chaos, it’s easier (sort of) to know that order will follow.
All will be revealed. True you cannot be certain of what is going to happen next, but the truth is old perceptions need to die. Chaos must be allowed to roam free to stir things up, so that you can start to make sense of it all
It can seem like time has ground to a halt as you process the news that will change your life. When I was at the chiropractor the day after I had my x-rays done, a few minutes after he delivered his verdict, I was in the bathroom.
My body reacted through the digestive system. It usually does. Years of preparing to go on stage to deliver a talk and needing the bathroom right up to the point of speaking is now a distant memory. I learned to breathe through this and now I actually I love presenting. So over time, I unlearned my response. Because there was nothing to fear, in fact speaking on stage is exciting.
But is it exciting to learn that you have been labelled with a potentially life-changing dis-ease? No, it’s not, but what is exciting is understanding that you can use your knowledge of this response to turning things around for the better.
Before I reached the exciting part I had to deal with the fear, but something else was eating away at me more, and that was trust and betrayal. I started to not trust my mind and was constantly thinking about how my body was betraying me. I was asking crazy questions about whether I could trust it to heal. I knew that it could, but this acid from my past was eating at my intuition and my intellect.
Before I could deal with the osteoporosis, I needed to quell the ghosts from the past. So that’s what I did. I went back and looked at every time I felt betrayed and where I had misplaced my trust, and I wrote letters to each person, burnt them and let them go. When I felt cleansed, I turned to my body and considered what is the opposite. In the case of fear, it might be courage. This helped me to put what was going on in context.
You do not need to push it away, feel into it or embrace it and you certainly do not need to feed it. Noticing fear is creating a deeper connection to the bones of who we are. We create a relationship with it as we might another human, and you learn things such as trust, and faith. You trust the trigger, and you have faith and courage to deal with it. This is not a time to apply intellectual thinking, this is a time for as I have said, faith, trust and courage.
It is also a time to surrender. This is not giving up this is not about waiting for miracles or asking some higher force to step in and take over. This is asking for what is needed for your highest good to be met. I was busy trying to set outcomes such as I want to reverse osteoporosis within six months and I want my fractures to heal by April 2018. We do this don’t we, set outcomes based on business rules or others expectations and based on our fear?
SMART goals are another way that we decide what we want. But in life this approach while sound doesn’t take into account the highest good of all – our highest good. Highest good doesn’t have a deadline because time doesn’t really exist. Highest good focuses on achieving what is right for everyone when conscious choices are made for the good of all – your highest good.
When you surrender remember that the key foundational thing that we need here is self-love. Once I allowed the bile to bite into my fear and faith, I asked myself did I love myself enough to deal with this? So once again I found faith and courage through self-love and went to work on betrayal and trust.
I could see a cycle where I was prejudging myself and others because I didn’t trust that they were doing the best for me and I would not get the outcome that I desired. This leads to fear. And around we go.
When you get into this vicious cycle, a natural reaction is to isolate yourself. This is another aspect of staying safe, but isolation does not create safety. Instead, it sends a message to your cells, and they in their wisdom follow your orders and start to not communicate with the other cells in its community. Without this vital connection, healing cannot take place.
Sense prevailed as I journaled and the more I acknowledged my hurts and opened my eyes to another lesson the grip of terror reduced. I started to view my predicament with grace and love.
But this wasn’t before I had contemplated not being here. I wanted off this planet. Knowing that my dogs would be ok, I had a will and a funeral plan, made it somehow easier for others when this useless life and body were gone.
At night I wrote furiously and in the morning when I was licked (by one of said doggies) I was pleased that the only savagery I committed was with a pen.
How about I asked if I embrace what I have learned and choose what I want instead? What if this detour was actually the route to my salvation? I understood that I was being taught about faith and trust. I considered that rather than feel fear what if I felt excitement at the prospect of turning this around and doing some more letting go of my fractured past?
Fear and excitement trigger similar responses. One can have not so great effects, and one doesn’t. They are both drivers to change. It is up to us to make conscious choices.
One thing that always works for me is this journaling exercise. I use the word fear and find another meaning. As an example
Have a go while you focus on your situation. It’s quite fascinating what comes out when you look at fear this way. It makes it easier to surrender and surrendering, faith and trust are like muscles, like writing, it gets better and easier the more that you practice.
Take a walk once you have written. Take time to reflect. Physical activity can have a positive effect on your mental health.
If hindsight were a currency, I would be rich. If writing in a journal were a paid profession I’d be a mega-billionaire.
I have found that writing in a journal has saved my life many times. It may yours. Have a go, you just may find a safe place to find who you are and heal.
Please look around you, one of your friends could be where I was. You might be there now.
Buy them a journal and be prepared to hug and listen.
Go well today and every day. With love.
Conscious decision making is both easy and hard. Easy because some decisions can be made on the spot based on gut instinct. Hard because the decision is harder, it needs more time, more reflection, you may not be good at making decisions for new things, or you are just rubbish (or think you are) at consciously choosing, you may need external validation or there may be some other reason that makes this a hard decision.
There are some simple rules about becoming fully conscious in your decision making and that is to first understand how you do things. If you do not know how you do anything, how can you know how conscious decision making will work for you?
I have a tool I use for my writing clients, called what kind of planner are you. It’s a fairly quick read. You may find that you are a combination of a two types and I’d ask you under what circumstances are you one or the other? What has planning got to do with decision making? Simply that it asks you to reflect on how you make some of your choices.
In simple terms when we make a decision based on our guts it is usually fast, we just do it, however, we often do not listen to our guts and immediately override it with our heads, missing out that vital ingredient of the heart.
The head is usually best left for slow decisions that need some reflection time. If too much head is given (excuse the picture in your head) then you can risk never making a decision.
The heart is where your divine inner wisdom resides, where you have a knowing based on your values.
Each of these has a rightful place in conscious decision making. The question is how do you know when you make decisions, which of these is right for which situation.
I believe how we form our decisions is progressive. You can use this model to consider how you made decisions through the stages of your life and how you learn.
One way to understand how this works is this.
Stop and think about how you might make a cup of tea. Now write all of the steps down and then teach someone else what you do. Easy?
You might think it’s easy, but I bet you missed loads of things out like you had to pick up the kettle and carry it to the sink, before lifting the lid, placing it under the tap, etc.
What I mean by this is we forget how we make decisions, because we become competent at making them.
This model shows us the stages that we go through when acquiring new skills and knowledge. It is really useful to consider this when reviewing our decision making as it reminds us how we become unconsciously competent and serves as a useful reminder of the stages we go through when acquiring new knowledge and to be mindful of this when making choices.
This model is also known as the Learning Stages model was developed by former Gordon Training International employee, Noel Burch in the 1970’s.
Naturally, the more experiences and skills you acquire, the easier it becomes when making a decision.
But as you will know that isn’t always the case, things can come at you and throw you off track when you least expect it.
There are no rules only your rules and you need to be aware of them. How do you do things? What are your criteria for decision making?
Grab a sheet of paper and map out three of the recent decisions you made.
You may be surprised at what you learn. Choose decisions that are from the gut, from the heart and one from the head. What did you learn?
How awake are you to the effect your decisions have on you, others and your environment? Again go back to the last three decisions and consider this. Also, look at how connected each was to your values. What does this tell you? Consider the outcome and how awake you are to what this means to you.
How did each of these decisions make you feel? What was the core emotion and how does this or these emotions run your life? Good decision making should make you feel more alive. This is not in the sense that you are leaping around for joy because sometimes good decisions are gut-wrenching and difficult. This is alive in the sense that they are completely connected to who you are and you believe that they are right in the moment.
No, you cannot turn back the clock. What is done is done. Accept the decision you made and then decide what next, what did I learn and what, if anything will I do differently next time?
There are power and peacefulness in acceptance. This is not about giving up or not taking action, rather it is knowing that pushing against a closed door will always hurt. Whereas finding ways to open the door and walk through it without resistance will deliver far greater rewards.
Acceptance is a choice. You can see the positive or you can fight what is going on. Why would you want to wander around a littered battlefield?
Acceptance is living fully present in the moment. It’s not about the past, while that is a great source of reference for peeling the onion; it’s not where to live. Neither is it about the future because we cannot force it. We can create visions, make decisions and we can take action, but we already know stuff can happen to throw these visions off course. That is why it is important to understand yourself, just a bit more…
Whatever happens, you need to take action, even if the action is inaction. I know that there have been times when my decision has been to simply let go, to not be attached to the outcome and quite frankly let others get on with it.
I place a hand on my heart, connect via my breath, ask and wait. I will feel, see or sense something. I will then journal and if I need to check in with my gut and head.
It is always interesting to notice what comes up.
What happens for me I find that I am checking in with my values when connecting with my heart.
More and more I choose to take no action, expend no energy and stay protected from any drama.
I’ll look at how I can reframe something so that I get a better outcome. I like this opportunity for reflection.
One question I ask myself do I care enough? If the answer is no, then my decision is easy.
Another question is do I love myself enough to? If the answer is yes, the decision is also easy.
Another fundamental part of conscious decision making is to also stop and ask ‘what do I think?’ Out loud, not just in your head. That question is not for your conscious mind to analyse, more ask the question and go deep into yourself – trance-like to allow the answers to surface.
It is not sufficient for you to look at my journey, my healing or my transformation and to say ‘I’ll do the same.’ The same will not work. What works is self-enquiry. What works is considering what I or others have done, trying things on for size if you want.
Most importantly is to always ask your divine inner wisdom what she thinks. You must only take on board what you can. After asking ‘what do I think?’ take action based on your intuition (gut) and divine inner wisdom (heart) – not mine or Betty down the roads – yours.
We make reference to our guts for all kinds of actions and activities that are going on. This is because unbeknownst to us our gut is a powerhouse that serves and supports the rest of the body and as a result our lives.
It’s fascinating to think that science mainly focuses on other aspects of the human body and has mostly relegated the gut to the bottom of the pile. It’s tended to be thought of as a plumbing system that takes in nutrients and sends the waste out – which it does
In 1998 Michael D. Gershon, M.D wrote a book called “The Second Brain. The Scientific Basis of Gut Instinct and a Ground-breaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine.” I think he could have shortened it!
Professor Gershon’s work describes something called the enteric nervous system (ENS), which controls digestion. The ENS has a complex system of approximately 100 million nerves, all found in the lining of the gut.
He was shocked when the scientific world did not laud him as a genius. Instead, they ignored the fact that the first brain is connected to the second brain (the gut) via something called the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve goes straight from the stomach to the brain. This second brain sends signals to the first brain which advises it of our emotions which naturally affects our thoughts, beliefs and behaviour.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the gut is responsible for a lot of how we feel, our ability to live well and make decisions for our well-being. It’s a bit of a circle, what you eat affects your brain. What’s going on in your brain affects what you eat, how you eat and why you eat the way that you do and other activities.
What you eat (and drink) affects every cell in your body. In his book The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton talks about how our thoughts affect our cells. If you are living in a perpetually stressed place, imagine what kind of thoughts are being passed to your cells. Who will respond in the best way that they know-how, which might not be very conscious.
I certainly feel that the better my diet the better my ability to listen to my gut. Maybe that’s just me?
You may get something different, but I get a funny feeling in my gut and a knowing, which alerts me to be on the lookout. When something is ‘right’ for me, I get the funny feeling in my tummy and all the hairs stand up on my arms.
Check out what happens for you.
Energy has been described by many different cultures, as Chi, Ki, Prana, and a life-force. Scientists describe in a different way by measuring ions and atoms. Both are valid and have a place in our understanding of self and transformation.
Energy for me is everywhere and everything. Our food contains energy, the air that we breathe has energy, and every cell in your body has an energetic impulse.
As you sit quietly and consider you – you are using and harnessing energy. Breathing circulates and connects your energy. Without breath you are dead.
Healers harness energy to heal. People with passion bring energy into everything that they do, and this energy creates action. To transform and grow, you need energy.
Everything you do consumes large quantities of energy. If you cultivate good habits (conscious decisions) and look after your energy, it will stay healthy and provide a powerhouse for your life.
To become physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually healthy, one must have an energy system which is balanced and in harmony.
I believe gut decisions are also based on energy, which is connected to how well you are looking after yourself, your thoughts beliefs and behaviours and your connection to your consciousness.
There is always a moment when you just know, isn’t there?
Ok, massive subject – we’ll look more at intuition, energy and the gut more another time.
Have fun, I’d love to know what you discover…
When I think of a juicy life I think of vitality, fun and how to relish each moment. The practise of self-love is part of having a juicy life. I also think of simple things like singing, dancing, and having a bit of an adventure. Being with people who bring me joy is a big part of my juicy life plan. Most of all I ask myself how and where can I bring joy into my life?
First of all, you need to look at what experiences leave you feeling dry or dried up and give them a colour red for dry and green for juicy for example.
Look at your day to day experiences and make a list of activities and grade and colour code them. What do you have more of? What needs upgrading, letting go or grabbing more of?
Before you rush out and stop all of the drying or dehydrating experiences ask if there is something that you can do to make them juicy. For example, let’s imagine that you and your partner go out every Saturday evening to the same pub/bar and see the same people. What if, instead, you had a date night somewhere else, just the two of you?
What if like in our house when I was growing up, Friday night was always fish. What if, instead, you picked a random recipe and created a dining in experience?
What does a juicy life look like to you? It’s such a simple question, which when you start to write will unlock so many things. You’ll soon realise that there are so many simple things that you can do.
Write about your juicy life and then start to envision it. What one action can you take right now that will move you one step closer?
People really do enter and leave your life for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes you will feel sad when someone you consider to be a friend does something you don’t understand, and suddenly you are no longer as close as you once were.
Or you meet someone fleetingly who leaves footprints on your heart, never to be seen or heard of again. No matter who you meet, when and for how long they bring something to your life. They are all your reason, season, lifetime lesson people.
This speaks to me and explains this concept beautifully.
“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.
Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant”.
As the above says some are here to support us, and we, them, some test us, some will use us (our perception and choice to let them), while others are here to teach us. They are all important. But most important are the ones who bring out the best in us, they respect us and accept us for who we are. These are the ones worth keeping around!
Some people come into our lives and quickly go, while others become our friends and stay awhile, leaving beautiful footprints on our hearts, and we’re never quite the same because we have known them and grown with them. Who and where are these people?
Ask yourself who are your reason, season and lifetime lesson people. Why are they? Once you have determined who these are, if there are any that you feel that you would like to thank, pick up the phone, and send an email or a gift. For those that you don’t want to connect with, write a note in your journal or send them a silent prayer of peace. Acknowledging with gratitude is great for the soul.
Write in your journal about each and what you bought to each other’s lives.
This may be a time when many people are moving from your path. Know that this is meant to be. This space will be filled with more reason, season, lifetime people.
To work more on your juicy life grab a copy of the 28 Days To A New You Journal.
PS: I’ll talk about hydration another day…
I remember feeling rather detached when the ex decided he wanted a dog. My nan had dogs, and I’d always adored hers, so much so I would often beg to stay when mum and I went for a visit. This, however, was different. He kept showing me pictures of dogs that he had evaluated according to a set of rules in his head. I confess to not knowing what these were except it must not moult. Finally, it was settled it would be a Hungarian Vizsla.
Driving four hours to the rescue place, a one-hour turnaround and four hours back, I marvelled at how calm this dog was. He lay quietly on the back seat, I guess, not knowing his fate, merely another journey with some strange humans. He had some behavioural problems and after a psychological assessment, it was declared that he should be rehomed. Knowing nothing about dogs, that meant not a jot.
Back home, him indoors was uber excited and went out to buy some rather gorgeous things for the boy. Ferdy none too impressed with being left at the other end of the lounge decided to shred his expensive bed. That first night he was put into a basket by the front door of a three-storey house and proceeded to howl and yes damage the wall. I think I felt bemused and not sure what to do, other than observe, as a bystander might.
The next day, I was left alone with Ferdy dog. This was when I received the first of my lessons. He was discovered in the hall with the contents of the bin spread all over. Not thinking I put my hand down to grab the stuff and found a large set of teeth around my face. Quite unperturbed, I stopped, managed my energy and contemplated the event.
In a fraction of a second, the jaws left my face as quickly as they had arrived. In those moments, I realised that this was my fault. I had not thought about how to relate to him, what distress he might be in and that I had caught him off guard. Calmly I collected the rubbish while having a quick chat with him. Yes, I know he had no idea what I was saying, but I felt we had reached an understanding.
He taught me that despite all of my skills, I needed to consider the part I played when interacting with others. To notice how my behaviour affects others.
Two nights later, Ferdy dog was still giving his beautiful bed in the lounge a good tearing. As I looked at him, I knew that all he wanted was to be a part of our family. I dragged his bed over to us and declared that ‘he’ could do the discipline, and I would do the love. I fell in love. All dogs lovers know that huge heart swelling love connection, and now I did. I was smitten. He taught me to love unconditionally and that in giving and receiving pure love, everything changes and nothing else matters.
A nearby field where I took Ferdy for walks turned into a muddy bog when it rained. He loved nothing more that to charge through it, covering his chestnut pelt in the wet sludgy mud. I adored the way that he had no cares or worries, he just galloped. He was free and liberated.
This was great fun to watch, but the best fun came when he arrived home to the beige house (beige husband, beige house). Yes, I know its wrong to laugh, but what’s the point of being with a dog if he can’t lose himself in delightful moments? And frankly what’s the point of a beige house? I often tittered , even as I cleaned the mess up.
He taught me to enjoy the moment and to make time to play every day.
Several years down the line, Ferdy was joined by Marley Moo, a timid beauty sporting an unusual coat of black and grey. Ferdy dog was naffed off, to say the least, and I found myself picking Marley up on many occasions and cuddling her better after his attacks. She was frightened. In return for sanctuary in my safe arms, she gave me the most incredible love and licks – I fell head over heels in love with her again.
Fast forward to 2015, I’d left ‘him indoors’ after discovering his double life and was enjoying my new life with my two babies when I found an abandoned puppy. Thinking that a charity would take her, I fetched her home.
I tried to not get attached as I searched for a home. Ferdy dog did the same thing as he had done to Marley and attacked her, and I found myself with her in my arms many times. In those moments of cuddling her, I became fond of her. There wasn’t that instant love connection that I felt with the other two. Possibly because I was convinced she would be leaving soon.
Angel didn’t leave. Of course, she didn’t. Because each time I looked into her eyes, I knew she was here to stay. She has become the most adorable, sweet, funny and engaging dog you could wish for. Shame about the things she ate in the early days, but hey what’s a pair of jeans between friends?
I struggled with the dynamics. I resorted to getting in a dog trainer to help me to learn how to cope and live in harmony with three dogs.
They taught me that anything is possible if you are prepared to try.
There is only me and my pooches. I work hard and have been guilty of being a workaholic. All three dogs Ferdy Dog, Marley Moo and Angel have instilled in me the discipline of taking time out, even when I have a piece of writing, I just have to finish. They let me know in no uncertain terms that it is time for a walk.
Through them, I have learnt that time out for reflection during the day is an absolute must. We all need to recharge our batteries, don’t we?
In previous years, I have run myself into the ground working and trying to sort out my headspace, home and life following the end of a dreadful relationship.
When I discovered Angel, I had been slowing down. Clearly, the cosmos thought otherwise and with this tiny terror in my life, I was brought to my knees. I called her Angel because I knew that she was a messenger.
We’d arrived home one day and I’d wound their leads around my wrists. Don’t ask why. Then Angel – just a puppy, spotted a cat, all three dogs ran and I went flying through the air. Well and truly stopped. Ouch, those bruised ribs, knees and head hurt…
They all taught me that the world doesn’t stop because you take time out. What is important is to stop. In the stopping, you will find opportunities.
Every day, we walk a similar pathway. For them, it’s a whole new experience with new smells and things to investigate. Yesterday doesn’t appear to exist. It’s all fresh, new and exciting.
I have no way of knowing if Ferdy and Marley miss their old life. or if Marley remembers why she was so fearful. As for Angel, who knows who let her go, she has settled in and is a part of the family. It’s as if it has always been this way.
They have taught me that the past is not a place to dwell. That having the freedom to enjoy today and this moment is the best feeling ever.
I never had children, and now I find myself with three furry children by three different fathers. Each is different and each I feel is comfortable with who he or she is. I’ve yet to catch them in the mirror asking if their bum looks big in this?
They have taught me to love and accept myself.
There are many more love and life lessons, the truth is they have become my life and every day they remind me how wonderful life and to feel loved is.
Animals change your life and perspective. You do not own them; they are furry bundles of love here to guide and support without judgement your journey through life. The least we can do is to show our furry companions the same respect and big love back.
If you are thinking of a dog, please rescue. Take the time out to understand how to share your life with them. Make room in your heart and life for the biggest love bomb ever.
Your life will change forever.
This healthy, simple gluten-free banana bread is easy to make and can be amended to suit your diet. So if you are vegan, swap the eggs for soaked chia, linseeds or psyllium husks.
Today when I made this banana bread, I used rice and coconut flour and I added cinnamon and apple – yum!
1 egg = 1 tablespoon of flax meal or chia + 3 tablespoons water
1 egg = 3 tablespoons nut butter
1 egg = 1 teaspoon psyllium seed husk + 1/4 cup water (let it stand for 5 minutes; use = binding and moisture)
I will often add other yummy ingredients such as papaya, raw chocolate and raw grated beetroot, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
Basically, add in other stuff that you fancy and can tolerate.
Eat and enjoy – I know I will be.
Is it really that simple to change in just 28 days? Could you change ‘your’ habits in just 28 days?
Everyone knows it takes, mmm how many days to change a habit? It might take you 21 days, or it could take 365. The truth is we are all different, and the time taken to change a habit will vary, because each of us is unique and has had different life experiences.
What I do know is this. Given the right ingredients, which include your desire to change, taking action, asking for support, understanding how you do things, calling on your inner resources and sticking at this thing you want to change – you can change.
Some habits are harder than others to implement. As I write this, I am giving up sugar for life. I have a personal reason that affects my health and well-being, and I will do it. How long will it take me? I hear you ask. I ate the last shop bought gluten-free brownie and that is me.
You may wonder how I can be certain. Let me tell you; it’s as simple as, I will do it because this is the kind of person I am. When I make a decision about my health, well-being, self-care and self-love, I take action.
It doesn’t mean that it’s easy; it means that it is important to me. And that’s the thing, if it is important, you will do it, and if it isn’t, you will procrastinate. When you set your goals and put them in order of importance (I rate mine each month), you will find that you are more focused.
And anyway why would you write a goal and not want it? Ok, that’s one for the journal.
When Mel Wakeman and I designed 28 Days To A New You, we recognised that this could only ever be a kick-start. We knew that without a crystal ball we could not predict who and that includes us, would make any lasting changes.
We designed so that each of us could take a good hard look at ourselves and make some conscious decisions about what we want.
When you know what you want, you can move towards it.
The key I think is to create better habits a step at a time rather than go at it like a bull in a china shop and say it’s all or nothing. I like the idea of being gentle with myself. If you start with habit-changing actions now and fall off the wagon, you don’t have so far to go next time around – do you? Unless you are duty-bound and headed for complete self-destruction and I hope that you are not.
After I’d made the no more delicious brownies, I started to crave sugar, but there was nothing in my house save organic peanut butter and fruit. It didn’t work, I wanted cake.
I knew that I could go and ask friends to give me sweets, I could drive 30 minutes to the nearest shop, or I could get off my backside and make a healthy cake.
By 8 pm I was making a cake. It was a bit of a faff as I didn’t have enough rice flour, but I mixed in all kinds of other stuff and went for it. 45 minutes later, one healthy cake and a very happy me.
I love the saying done is better than perfect and the Salvadore Dali quote which says ‘have no fear of perfection, because you will never reach it.’ I think he means that perfection is an ever-moving target. So do your best, learn, let go of what doesn’t work, review and carry on.
I also believe that we are already perfect so why strive to be something you already are?
Of course, the habit you desire to change can also morph into something else along the way. If you are journaling and reflecting, which I also hope that you are, you will get some great aha’s.
I look at my sugar thing as more of an ‘I’m creating a healthy body’ rather than I am giving something up. I am very much a towards person. What about you?
Knowing what kind of a person you are could be one of your aha’s.
When you get aha’s, what you will know is that next month when you come to review your goals, desires and intentions, you can amend them in line what you have learned.
Changing habits is a process and not a destination. Yes, I want to never eat sugar again, and I might slip in a cheeky dessert when out one night, but that doesn’t mean that I have failed, more that on my journey, I have accepted that I may indulge. As soon as I have and I will enjoy it, I shall be back to my ‘normal’ way of life.
What I have done is to set an intention, which includes enjoying the journey. Along the way, I’ll do things like look at cake recipes that I can change to suit my way of eating, I’ll enjoy experimenting and I’ll find other ways of satisfying my needs. I want this to be fun and not something to beat myself up with. You can adopt this attitude too.
The key to moving forward is to decide that this is day one, choose what has to be done and do it until you feel satisfied that you have achieved your goal.
What you will find it that as you dive into your 28-day kick-start, you’ll probably feel more motivated than say in 35 days. That’s why I recommend that every 28 days to do a reset and look at where you are and what you want to create. Plus if you ask yourself how important is this, you can gauge if this is still the same thing or there are things you want to change.
The keys are to be kind you, remain open-hearted and minded, be flexible and use your feedback to make more informed conscious decisions next time.
Come and join Mel and me on our next 28 Days To A New You Adventure and be supported through the first of what could be a series of 28-day transformational blocks.
We will take you through our four pillars:-
There will be loads of support, plenty of journaling to help you see life through a different lens and of course nutritional advice.
I wonder what simplicity means to you? To me it’s about getting rid of stuff, saying no to things, not buying stuff that I don’t need and enjoying the simple things in life. Having a simple life is not boring, but sometimes it may seem that way. That is until you start living and enjoying a simplified version of how you are currently living.
Ask yourself – what would happen if I did lead a life of simplicity?
I believe that when you simplify, you’re left with a life filled with meaning, and a life that is lived on your terms. You have the time to pursue your interests and to create the life you truly desire. How does that feel?
What if when you lived a simple life you were able to find true happiness?
To create a simple life, it pays to consider your needs. You can start this by thinking about what is important to you. Ask what do you really need?
I know when I thought about how I was living, I, for example, found that I didn’t need so many shoes, handbags and clothes. I also discovered by planning my meals properly I no longer bought food that used to end up in the bin.
To live a simpler life, examine what’s important to you, and acknowledge your choices and their impact on your life’s needs.
Do you keep saying yes to doing things that do not feed your soul? What about attending social events that require you to extend your wardrobe beyond your financial capability? What about holidays with friends, doing things you don’t want to do, just because you think you are missing out?
When you start saying no to things you don’t really want or enjoy, you can start saying yes to quality. When there is less, you will have more of what fills your heart. Think about it.
I adore books and it’s been one of the hardest things to say no to them. In another life, I owned six pairs of black boots and the last time I looked, I only had one pair of feet. In my closet, I had rows of shoes and handbags that I rarely wore or used. When I moved home and was forced to downsize, I realised that I did not need all of these.
These days I ask myself if I will make use of and get value out of it before I buy.
Take food, for example, I no longer say yum yum and fill my trolley with things that I don’t need or will eat. When I found myself throwing food away, it made me realise not only what a waste it was, but also how disgraceful it is when some parts of the world can’t get food to throw away.
If you look at how much you have to spend each month, you may find that you have an overspending habit and tend to put things on a credit card. The best thing to do is keep your life simple, build a budget and stick to it faithfully.
You could sell the stuff you don’t need or give it to charity. Then make sure you only buy what you love, will use or need. Consider that this is investing in your future.
Stress can be a killer. Stress can affect so many parts of your life and this is where you take your eye off the self-care ball. Start to focus on keeping things simple and notice how relaxed you start to feel.
If you say no to things that don’t serve you and focus on what’s important, your stress levels will start to lower and your overall health will benefit. When you eat in a simpler way that too has a positive impact on your life. Remember to breathe and slow it down will help you to be in the now.
I am sure you can think of many things that if you took a simpler route you too would notice your stress levels lowering.
I found that when I focused on the important people in my life and chose to cultivate our relationship, I enjoyed my life more. None of us needs 1000’s of friends, despite what the social media platforms say.
You can be more honest and sincere with your true friends. They know you, you do not need to spend time trying to impress them and they will accept you – warts and all.
To enjoy a simpler life, start to think about people who you do not need in your life or at least people that you do not want to spend so much time with.
Choose people who you love to be with. Perhaps you could rank people by love, like, ok and not ok. Get rid of the not ok’s, and then look at the others and ask are they in the right category, can I move ok to like and like to love or the other way around. When you have done that, work out how – in an honest way.
When you spend time with you without the many distractions in your life, you’ll find that there is more space to get to know the most important person in your life. In that space, you can reflect and say thank you for all the great things you have.
You can learn more about you with one of the simplest self-help tools in the world – a journal.
With fewer possessions and commitments you will have less clutter. You won’t need to be in your diary or clearing things away. I wonder what you can do with your free time? And the answer isn’t to fill it with more. More it’s to fill it with less. Does that make sense?
Learn the art of decluttering and constantly question do you need the thing you are about to purchase? Ask if you need to do that thing that you are being asked to do.
When you get used to having less or buying fewer things you will find you desire fewer things. This goes against all the marketing hype which is to torment you with the idea that more things mean happiness and a fulfilled life. Stuff will never make you happy.
When you have free time you will discover that living in the now is pleasurable. You may find at first, it’s hard to relax. Just think about how you felt when you were running around. I know when I do I feel exhausted. Free time is a gift that only a few truly appreciate.
According to Confucius, “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.”
How do you feel when you read that?
In my free time, I binge on Netflix, read or walk my dogs more. That may not be your idea of fun, but I enjoy these things because they are so simple.
Lots of people find it hard to buy just what they need and making meals from scratch. I used to pop to the supermarket and buy a ready meal because I believed that it saved me time and was good for me.
When I embarked on a natural healing plan, I started to buy fresh and natural food. Each evening I would ask my body what it wants and make my daily meals from what is in my fridge. My body really appreciates this simpler approach to eating.
Think about how you could reduce your health challenges by eating in a simpler way.
These prompts are designed to get you to think about how you could start to bring simplicity into your life.
What else could you do?
Join the journaling club and take this up a notch within a safe and supportive community.
When did you last stop and say I am celebrating who I am? I don’t mean you celebrated a birthday or anniversary, I mean you took a good look at yourself and high fived yourself for just being you.
We are all in the process of evolving and becoming a better version of who we were just a moment ago, even if it doesn’t feel like it – you are. Yet when we get to the end of the day we rarely say ‘Hey you. You did well.’
Maybe it feels strange celebrating the small stuff?
Is it perhaps that because the way that we evolve is barely noticeable that we simply sweep it under the carpet?
Take a moment to consider how you got to this point in your life. I think of it a process where we go through revolution, revelation and into evolution.
Revolution is about systems and structures, evolution is about people and genetics. Systems and structures can evolve and people can revolt, but what are they really and how can we use revolution and evolution to change the way in which we lead, love and laugh?
Humans are adaptable, creative and innovative and we have an amazing ability to change and to create change. That can be abrupt and rapid change when faced with something that may be unacceptable, scary, frustrating but equally creative and innovative. Or it can be slow and considered change.
Without revolution, you cannot evolve and without evolution, there is no space to revolt. One begets the other. One is slow, the other fast. One has well placed and considered passion, the other has often has explosive and fiery passion. They are the yin and yang of life.
In the midst of revolution comes revelation which allows the unfurling of evolutionary change.
Revolution originally comes from the way in which the planets revolve. Not that I am a scientist, but for me, that means something fairly predictable since we know that all of the planets move in typically fixed ways – they revolve around each other.
Though of course despite the planets moving in a pattern, there will always be other cosmic interruptions which do not form the norm and are therefore not predictable. And so you can imagine that as the disruptions from the skies erupted and disturbed man the word revolution changed (evolved) to mean something else.
Often when I think about revolution, what comes to mind are fights, wars, battles, disorder, governments being overthrown, blurred lines, no winners and certainly nothing remotely predictable.
But I also feel that revolutions can be born out a desire to create change quickly. People who subscribe to revolution want to crush old ways and make way for new order but not necessarily with that associated fear, frustration and anger.
Revolution can be about resolution without obliteration. Revolution can be about innovation, creativity and change for the good but with rapid growth pains.
Imagine receiving a divine message, one that asks you to wake up and to uncover what is already known to you? How annoying to discover that everything was already inside of you but you just didn’t realise it.
Does knowledge accumulate or is it something that is also already known to you, but it needs slowing uncovering through life’s lessons? Consider the knowledge you will have gained as your life progresses. It appears cumulative and in small chunks. Or is it and does it matter how it comes as long as you take an active role in doing something with that knowledge?
Nothing is going to change because of the knowledge you have about a situation. What changes is the insight you gain from reflection? It is the knitting together different strands of knowledge and interweaving them with reflections that give you an epiphany and true insight.
It is through the insight you gain from each revelation that helps you to become a different person. And with your suitcase full of revelations you can start a new journey and evolve into the person you are destined to become and have always been.
Evolution is about the gradual change of populations across generations. It is about transformation as people respond to their environment. It is a gradual development of anything. It is expansion into who you are meant to be.
Think for a moment of every revolution in your life. Times of abrupt change, followed by times of quiet consideration. Eruptions, solitude, eruptions, quietude and so your personal world revolves and evolves.
Naturally and sadly your personal revolution could have been violent. Not all of the changes you go through are pleasant. Divorce, redundancy, death are just a few of life’s less fun events, but without them, there would not be an opportunity for change. These short-lived radical outbursts create pivot points for change and a time to breathe. They create opportunities for evolution. They present revelations.
If nothing had happened to me, if I hadn’t travelled this path, I wouldn’t have beautiful gifts to share. You too will receive gifts from your adventures.
All of your life has been revolution, revelation and evolution and what is often missing is recognising and celebrating who you are. Right now is the time for this to end.
Right now is the time for you to celebrate the small stuff, the everyday stuff, the stuff that goes to make you the person you are.
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey
I love to spell words out and use them for journaling ideas. Here’s a few for you.
Think about what you have created today? It could be the best peanut butter and jam sandwich, but equally, it could be something that you have done that has contributed to your goals or community.
How have you evolved today? What one small step have you taken towards your best self? Today I took the final step in celebration and took some time out to be in the now. I needed to recharge my batteries and it was certainly a gift.
What have you learned today? I have a journal that I write my lessons in life in. I ask what life lesson have I learned today? One of my lessons in life was ‘do not assume’. I had assumed something about my nutritionist and I was wrong. I am celebrating that I was open and I learned something important.
In what ways have you evolved today? These are the small things, the ones that you rarely notice.
Bravery can be about trying something new. Perhaps something that you might not have tackled before like risking being wrong. What about setting boundaries with someone for the first time? What have you done today that is a big step in being brave?
One of the best ways to get clarity when journaling is to go back and read what you have written and reflected on it. It is in reflecting that you will find loads of insight and aha’s.
So did you have an adventure today? I think every day is an adventure, even if it seems mundane. There is always something new to embrace. What happened on your adventure today?
Truth is what frees us.
“The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.” – Eckhart Tolle
Reflect on this quote and consider how you experience who you are, not as things or labels, but more – how you experience life as you.
When you don’t listen to your intuition you will miss the good stuff. That little voice in your head is guiding you. Listen. When you listen celebrate that you did. I was driving down the mountain when my voice said go slower. I moved from 5th to 3rd and crawled into the next outcrop of houses and what did I see? A mummy Podenco with her baby crossing the road. I celebrated their lives and that I listened.
We hear about being in the now all the time and yet we rarely simply sit and be with the now. Busy, busy seems to be the norm. A reward and celebration at the end of the day is time with you. I like to end my day with meditation. It’s time to switch off and celebrate another day well-lived.
Think of all the goodness in your life. Surely this is worth celebrating. Where did goodness show up today?
To be able to celebrate you I believe that you must do this from a place of self-love. When you love yourself you can achieve anything. I’ll leave you with this question – do I love myself enough to?
Grab your journal, pick one or two and explore.
If you love journaling and getting to the heart of who you are, you will love The Journaling Club. We’d love to welcome you in.
In this first lessons in life, I consider why it’s ok to be angry.
Recently I have felt a lot of anger arise quickly and dissipate just as quickly. Years ago, I would have suppressed my anger as something that was inappropriate and not to be shown. Then when I couldn’t bottle it any longer I would explode. It felt like an ugly emotion rather than an igniter.
The anger I have felt hasn’t been directed at anyone in the moment; it’s been more that I have been angry at situations that are quite beyond my control.
They have, I realise, been situations which have pulled at my heartstrings, crossed boundaries and my values. Like hearing that a puppy in our village had died of parvo, which could have been prevented had the owners vaccinated it. It hurt to think of that little life gone because of irresponsible behaviour.
But it is much deeper than that.
As a mum of 3 rescue dogs who are my life, what I felt was in reality, what if something happened to them? What if they were not here? I know that one day they won’t be here. They are so precious to me. They don’t live as long as us.
I do whatever I can to give them a good life. I am your typical doting furbaby mum; they have me very firmly wrapped around their paws.
It was the injustice that I was angry about. It was also about a life barely begun, snuffed out in such a terrible way. I felt the same way yesterday when I found a dead kitten in the rambla. I have no idea how it died. I moved it out of the path, made a grave, and said a prayer.
What I am noticing more and more is that, as soon as my anger arises, I reframe. In this recent example, I thought how do I support this family and help rehome the rest of the puppies? It felt good to witness and acknowledge the rapid rise and fall of my emotions rather than to suppress them and to consider what would be a better way to channel that feeling?
I remember, again in our village, a horrible man who thought that the reason I had come to live here was funny.
I’d left a man who was living a double life. One evening I made a horrible discovery, and six weeks later, with nowhere else to go, I came here. I travelled 1000’s of miles to a run-down old house in the hills.
This man taunted me whenever he could. One day one of my dogs had escaped the house and was near his. I came out of the house to see this man dragging my dog up the road. Ferdy was being strangled with his front paws in the air, with his back paws barely touching the road.
It really was too much for me, and a red mist descended. I went mental, much to this man’s surprise and to the surprise of the builder in my house who commented on my swearing and temper.
Was it ok to lose it? I guess it served a purpose. However, I ‘should’ have nipped this man’s nastiness in the bud from day one. I didn’t because I was raw with emotional pain. I didn’t know how to respond, and instead, I internalised it. He was in a bully, a plain, ugly, everyday bully, and I’d just left a bully, and it was just too hard to deal with.
It’s ok to be angry and to embrace what it is showing you as long as you acknowledge it, let it go and decide on another more productive course of action.
When you reframe anger, there is always something more productive you can do.
Anger is always, to my mind, about something much deeper, and that’s where the exploration needs to be focused.
I learned about anchors on an NLP course and decided I would use them productively in my everyday life.
I choose four words for my anger:
Each word was anchored to a finger. When my anger arose, I would press each finger with my thumb, while silently saying the words rage, anger, annoyed and miffed. In a few seconds, I was left barely with an emotion.
As time progressed, I was able to say the sequence in my head until eventually, all I had to say was miffed.
That’s today’s lesson in life, what do you think about anger and how you can use it to do something more productive.