Thursday, 25 April 2013

A Bit of a Review

 As you know, I had made three goals for Dragon Month this year.  Dragon Month ended on Tuesday, 23rd April - St George's Day - which was two days ago, and I have been thinking about how I've been doing.

1. Cutting Down on Sugar

I was getting rather despondent about this because my chocolate addiction has been dogging every step.  Originally we decided to stop eating chocolate, but I just couldn't manage it.  Our regular habit has been to have some chocolate after our evening meal, and we have been enjoying Ritter Sport mint bars, which are dark chocolate squares filled with a white minty fondant.  But it occurred to me that there was probably far more sugar in the fondant than there would be in squares of standard 70% cocoa mass dark chocolate, so we have switched over to that.

Doing this has also made me think about the hidden sugars that I consume.  I do drink squash, Ocean Spray Cranberry and Raspberry cordial to be precise, but its very sweet, so I have been consciously trying to cut down that, only having a glass with my lunch and supper, instead of drinking it in between meals.

I am also shocked by the amount of sugar in the various sauces I use for cooking.  I try to make our main meals from scratch, so that I know what goes into them, but really I am amazed by the amount of sugar and sugar derivatives that go into the odd extras I put in, so I am trying to keep a careful eye on that.

As far as cakes and biscuits go, its a real success story for me!  I haven't bought any, and although we did have some lovely gluten free cake to take home from a dinner party the other night - huge thanks, Jasmin, it was delicious - I am definitely winning on this one.

2. Eating More Veggies

The other day, The Beast arrived.

My dear friend M offered to lend us her juicer.  She mentioned that it was rather complicated, but I didn't expect it to be, well, I can't think of a better word than industrial.

Its so impressive I may have to write it a special blog post to do it proper justice.

We have been eating more vegetables, I have to say.  I have been making soups for lunch, which is a great way to get fresh veg and nutrients inside you in easily digestible form.  I have also been meal planning to take account of eating less pasta and rice (we really don't eat potatoes at all), and it really has made a difference.

One evening, we 'fell off the waggon' and had a chinese takeaway.  Not good.  Up all night with tummy ache.  That was a pretty good incentive to strive for a healthier diet.

I've also been very strict about the gluten-free side of my diet, which I had allowed to slip.  I am not supposed to eat gluten becuase of my IBS, and yes, it does cause me problems.  Now I am off it, I am amazed at how much low grade but constant discomfort I was tolerating just for the sake of a few cakes and doughnuts every now and again.  It isn't worth it, and I intend to keep reminding myself of that in future.

3.  Getting More Exercise

You won't be surprised to hear that this has been my graveyard.  My ME intervened - first I had my period, which always exacerbates syptoms, and leaves me in bed for a couple of days.  Then I had some dental work done, and the injections always leave me feeling weak.  And then my hayfever came on, and like an idiot I took antihistamines, which I had forgotten make me feel like death.  These all sound like excuses, and they are, but ME is what it is, and you can't force yourself to move when there is just no energy in your muscles.  So not much bouncing or stretching has been achieved around here lately.  But I am working on it.  Even if I have to bounce up and down, spraying snot everywhere, for the next three months until my hayfever abates, I am NOT taking those tablets again!


I feel like I have made a big difference so far, even if I haven't done exactly what I set out to do.  My diigestive system is back in good working order again, and that alone has been worth the effort.  It is a sound foundation on which to build.  And I intend to stick with these goals because I think they are the way forward to a healthier future.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Quote for Today

 "Being positive does not mean being accepting of the negative, or ignorant of the issues, or the world situation, or anything else.  It means seeing the grace in as much as you can see."

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Dragon Energy Goals for April


 The period from the Spring Equinox (21st March) to St George's Day (23rd April) is a time of rising earth energy, and in some traditions, it is a time of Dragons.  They seem to be popping up all the time for me right now, from meeting new Welsh friends to discovering the marvellous film, 'How To Train Your Dragon'.  I am getting myriad nudges from the Universe to make the most of the Dragon energy that is flowing. 

(If you like your Elements, its a time when Earth and Air meet with Fire and Water in spectacular fashion - April showers are often blustery, and the sap is rising with firey enthusiasm, though here in Britain we are still awaiting the real arrival of anything that could be properly called Spring!  If you are interested, you can read lots more in this excellent book.)

I decided at Equinox that I wanted to make the most of Dragon Month this year.  I want to feel better, stronger, healthier. I talked my plans out with my friend M, who is a trained naturopath, and has the uncanny ability to pick out the places where I am self-sabotaging, and between us we managed to wittle my over-elaborate ideas down to three sensible and doable goals:

1. Cut Down Sugar
2. Eat More Vegetables
3. Get More Exercise

Sounds simple?  Not so.  These are BIG DEALS for someone with my health problems, but the thing is, I feel like it is time.

I've been going on for a while about how I am going through a transitional period in my life.  Changes are happening on a huge scale, from fading parents to financial adjustments and the desire for a new working direction. I'm going to need physical strength as well as mental, to deal with all this.

I'm on the downward slope towards 50 too, and there is no getting away from that fact.  If I don't take action soon, I am going to be facing some serious issues about how well I grow older.  Watching my husband's aunt become increasingly incapacitated through arthritis, to the point where she can barely feed herself, is a sobering look into a possible future for myself.  I don't want to end up like that, and the best way to avoid it is to do something about it now.

So for the last couple of weeks I have been planning and carrying out my goals.  I can't pretend its not hard, especially on the days when my energy is really low.  But I've made it simple so that even I can achieve this.

I'm going to write a few blog posts about how I'm doing this, and how I am getting on, because all the experts say it is helpful to 'go public' with your goals in order to have some accountability.  And maybe you have been thinking about the same issues and fancy pulling alongside.  In which case, let me know in the comments section, and we can cheer each other on!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Give Yourself a Break, Already!

Gorgeous roses at Overstrand Open Gardens, Summer 2012, Norfolk UK.  I think enjoying fabulous flowers should be included in everyone's Life Purpose.

There are lots of self-help books and websites out there that go on and on about Finding Your Life Purpose (and I use the capitals deliberately).  It seems to be the Holy Grail of self improvement these days.  I've spent a lot of time sweating over this one, until it has become one of my OUGHTS.

I know I am a writer.  One of the things I was put here to do is to write, to make the pictures in my head into stories that other people can enjoy.  And I do.

But I am also a butterfly, and Initiator, not a Completer/Finisher, which means I bounce from one project to the next, doing whatever  holds my interest for as long as it does, and then moving onto the next thing, or going back to something I was working on before.  Sometimes this means I don't finish stuff. More often, it means I take a long time.  This is a truth about myself that I am working on coming to terms with.  No amount of discipline has ever worked for me.  So I just have to work with what I've got, accept it, and find a way to use it to my advantage.

I think this is why the whole idea of a single Life Purpose is stressful for me.  After all, if my Life Purpose is to Get that Book Published, what happens when I've achieved it?

This is why this article from Kriss Carr lit up my brain. 

Because Life Purpose is just not that simple.  Life is complex and myriad.  I am still mulling over the jewels contained in this article, but I urge you to take the weight off yourself and read it.  Maybe goals are ok, but fixing everything on one idea for a whole lifetime?  Perhaps thats not for all of us.  Perhaps we are more interesting than that.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Positivity for Breakfast

BBC News 24 Newsreaders Matthew Amroliwala and Jane Hill

Once upon a time, I met a woman who was healing after breast cancer.  Amongst the many really revolutionary things she was doing, she was flooding her life with positivity.  Her method was simply not to listen to the news or read the papers any more.

I thought she was weird.  And naive.  

Seriously, I couldn't imagine how you could survive without BBC News.  CONFESSION:  I am a total news addict.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a bit before bed time, I guzzle it all, even if they do show the same reports in every bulletin.

This week has really brought home what this is doing to me.  The blanket coverage of Margaret Thatcher's death has driven me to depths of psychopathy that I don't think anything else could have.  Whatever you thought of her is not a matter for discussion here.  The point is, do I really need to see continual reruns of the miners' strike and that whole, patronising 'Where there is discord...etc' speech over again, when they both make me want to scream and throw things? I really don't need that kind of trigger all the time.  It's wrecking my blood pressure.  Why am I doing it, I asked myself.



Cue New Habit:

Positivity for Breakfast.

From now on, I am not going to watch the news or look at the BBC News website until the lunchtime showing at 1pm.  (And I'm not going to look at it again until the 10pm slot at bedtime, because how much is it going to change in that anyway?)

Instead, I am going to read a positive, self-nurturing book, write my morning pages, do some yoga, meditation, rebounding (more about that another day), and maybe read some uplifting blogs from the list below.  NO doom and gloom for me in the mornings from now on.  I'm changing my physical diet, after all, so why not change my mental diet?  If I really am serious about flooding my life with positivity, better to be thorough about it.

I'll let you know how I get on...

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Renton's Refrain, or How to rant to yourself in a constructive manner

I wish my bathroom mirror was as glamorous as this.  It isn't.

I do a lot of anger in the bathroom.  You know, ranting.  All the snappy retorts I should have come up with, the clever put-downs I should have used on ex-boyfriends and snotty colleagues. The things I really want to say to the people who have hurt me, but never have said and never do.  I don't shout at the mirror, but I might as well.

Lately, my rants have changed in nature.  I've started to refuse.

'I refuse to be manipulated my your childish behaviour.'
'I refuse to allow you to guilt-trip me.'
'I refuse to faciliate your martyr complex.'

That kind of thing.

It struck me today that no matter how positive the desire for self-protection which motivates these refrains is, they are still pretty negative.

Maybe I should try changing my obsessive growls into something more positive, something more affirming.

How about:

I choose calm
I choose radiance
I choose to release outdated behaviours and people
I choose life

(And today I've had Renton's speech from the start of 'trainspotting' going around my head too, which is kinda ironic.)

I found this too, which I might try to incorporate into our home, as a bit more affirmation.  After all, you can never have enough, can you?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


My husband's colleague says that people fall into two categories:  Radiators and Drains.

Drains suck the life out of you.  They are emotional vampires.  They rarely have anything positive to say, always have someone to blame, and think that the world is 'being done to' them.  They wallow in their martyr complexes and expect you to rescue them from whatever pickle they have got themselves into - which is of course someone else's fault because they are always the victim.  Drains are black holes in human form.  They suck the light from the world, and from everybody who comes into contact with them.

Radiators make you feel better about everything, especially yourself.  They are positive, uplifting company.  They make even your wildest dreams seem possible.  They feed and nurture you, whilst feeding and nurturing themselves.  They fill the world with light and hope.  They always look for the bright side, have a glass half full, sort out their own issues, make an effort, move forward.   They are Possibilitarians.

I was brought up to be a Drain, but thats not my instinctive state.  Its taken some tough training and a lot of long, hard looks at myself when I am being victim-y, but I'm getting better at being a Radiator.

A few weeks ago, I emerged from a period of depression, the worst I've had for some years.  I made the decision to flood  my life with POSITIVITY.


These are the words I want to fill my life with from now on, the change I want to feel.  So I am looking only to hang out with Radiators from now on.  I have little enough energy as it is without letting a Drain leech it out of me.

I feel a bit bad about it.  A bit guilty.  There's a big OUGHT in there for me, that I OUGHT to be helping.  But that's what Drains do, that is how they entrap you into their mesh of victimhood.  So while I am acknowledging the OUGHT, I am not allowing myself to act on it.  I need to do something for me right now, and that means letting go of being with people who sap me of my joy.

I am looking forward to possibility.  I am reaching out for hope.  And I am filling my life solely with people and things that are Radiators.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Jumping Off Point

Setting out on a new road in life

Life feels pretty intense right now.

Maybe its the change in energy that Spring entails.  Maybe its the ongoing transition time I am passing through.

I feel excited.

I feel scared.

I feel old.

I feel inexperienced.

I feel clarity.

I feel muddled.

I have a lot of big plans on the boil at the moment, but they are scary big and I need to gain a bit of confidence in order to get over the fear and start moving, rather than stepping off the precipice into the chasm below.  Micromovements are in order.  Baby steps.  I think this is where it starts. 

I'm trying to get myself back into blogging, into writing once more.  This blog has been through something of a hiatus, and I feel its going to be changing radically in the next few months, moving in a new direction, my companion and my handbook if you like.  I hope that you will join me along the way, and share my journey.