Elisabeth Grover
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Month: October 2016 (page 2 of 2)

Creating a Calm Day – part 1

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been giving some thought to today’s post, taking a little break from my journaling to look at how you can create a calm day today. Yes, you can do it even with small children and/or a busy job/demanding commitments. So grab a cup of tea and spend five minutes with me while we look at the tools that have helped me to create a peaceful life around the varied demands of a large family.

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It seemed like a good time to share my personal circumstances with you so that you know that I am writing with parenting experience. I have four children, now in their teens and twenties, but it wasn’t that long ago that I was lugging four little ones around a supermarket.

Feeling my stress levels rise as my baby cried and yet another old lady said “Oh dear” in a patronising tone. I wanted to create a sign to hang around my five-year-olds neck saying “Please just ignore me, I’m trying to get round this shop in a HURRY!”

It was hard work!

These were the days before online shopping was created and the food shop was a military operation for everyone involved. I remember the winter in particular. Four children to dress warmly before venturing out, “Have you been to the toilet?” to one child “Yes you have to clean your teeth EVERY day!” to another whilst making sure that their needs have been met so I could get in and out in record time.

It amazes me that they survived as I would get home and realise that, in my stress, I had only bought bananas, lettuce, Branston pickle and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. With the best will in the world, I’d challenge Heston Blumenthal to create a meal out of that strange mix of food.  I was hardly Deliciously Ella.

So that’s a snippet from my existence a few years ago. I dreamt of ‘help’ but it never came. My parents had both died when I was younger and I had no siblings to be ‘Fabulous Aunt’s’ so there was nobody around the corner to come in and save the day.

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The practices that I talk about are ones that I have used for many years. I have had my ups and downs so I won’t pretend that I have been diligent in my practice, but I always come back to it and I feel so much better when I’m doing it.

1. Breathing – being conscious of your breath and taking deeper breaths to really get that oxygen flowing. Really thinking about your breath is such a great tool as you realise how you hold your breath at times. I learnt this whilst giving birth. My body took over and I birthed my last two using my breath to provide comfort during labour. It’s a memory that I have been able to hold on to and I use my breath anytime I’m in pain or stressed.
2. Meditation – using the Calm app on my IPhone at the moment. It’s really helpful to use an app as the guided meditations are super for new meditators. There are a few out there so it’s worth finding one that suits (and is free!).
3. Morning Pages – mentioned in previous posts.
4. Affirmations – twice a week.
5. Essential oils (more about my choices of oils in the next post). I use them on my scarf so that the wonderful scents waft around and help me to feel calm. You can also put a few drops on a tissue and leave on the window ledge or radiator (depending on how tall your children are).
6. Clothes that feel nice on my skin. I like to wear linen and cashmere which feels great but I realise isn’t great if you have babies! The point is this, find something that works for you, is easy to wash but feels nice. If you feel comfortable in your own skin, your confidence will grow.
7. Becoming conscious of the sounds around me. It can be very noisy with small children at home so I played calming music to help counteract the stress. It helped both me and my children. My son has just graduated from university after studying music so it must have had an impact! My personal love is the contemplative sounds of classical piano music but anything peaceful can help create a calm environment. Spotify is fabulous for creating playlists of meditation music.
8. Keeping some areas of your home tidy!! Yes, I hear you. I know it’s a tough one. On one hand, I’m telling you to make time for yourself and now I’m asking you to tidy the house!! “Liz, make your mind up girl!” However, I speak from experience when I say that keeping a small tidy area in your home will create a calm space in your mind where you can retreat to when it’s busy and loud.
9. Reading. Watch what you read. It may feel good to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world but the effect of all that negativity can really bring your down. Try one of the lovely little books on mindfulness which are on the market at the moment. Small and easy to read, perfect for the busy woman.

10. Change your drinks! Try a lovely herbal/fruit tea instead of coffee/black tea. There are so many herbal teas on the market so take your pick. Refreshing and calming. A perfect accompaniment to your me-time with the scent of aromatherapy oils and the sounds of Chopin in the background.

I would love to hear how you are all getting on adopting some of these practices. Even if you just take on one this week, I feel that it will be a great start to a quieter, calmer life for you and your family.

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Creating a Calm Day part 2 – using Essential Oils

I hope you are having a lovely week and enjoying the feelings of peace and serenity in your life. After my last post on ‘Creating a Calm Day’, I felt it may be a good time to discuss one of my favourite tools for creating that  intention. The word “Aromatherapy”  evokes some strong emotions in me and thinking about the pleasure I get from my oils, and the  presence of my little bottles take me to a very happy place.

 

The scent of my favourite essential oil hanging in the air helps me to feel more positive coupled with the  whole range of health benefits they offer. There are some wonderful oils and in this blog post, I’m going to show you how you can use them to help you create that calm life you are looking for.

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As an example to help you think about how you can incorporate them into your day, I will show you how I use oils in my day-to-day life.

 

6am. My day starts with my morning meditation and journal writing. I will add a few drops of calming Rose or Bergamot essential oils to my burner and add some water so that the oils permeate the air around me. I will also have put a couple of drops of Rosemary and Patchouli oils on a tissue and left it in my journal overnight so when I open it, the smell is wonderful.

 

7am. I will shower with a basic clear shower gel such as this one from Naturally Thinking, my favourite go-to for all aromatherapy products. I add a couple of drops of Litsea to my shower gel as Litsea has an amazing lemony fresh scent that I love. I also use Litsea in a spray bottle and add some water and polysorbate (which helps it to mix) and spray it around my home.

 

8.30am I add a couple of drops of Petitgrain to some kitchen towel and put in my handbag, my purse and in any notebooks that I am writing at the time. When I open my handbag, the smell of the Petitgrain fills the area and makes me feel motivated and happy to write. I will also wear oils on my scarf and I love using a mix from Neil’s Yard called Woman’s Balance.

 

Neil’s Yard blends are great for a quick remedy as they come ready mixed and are easy to add to a base shower gel/bath oil/grapeseed oil but they are expensive so I only use a little and not very often.

 

13.00 Lunchtime. if I’m working at home, I’ll have my electric diffuser filled with Frankincense and Sweet Orange or perhaps Geranium and Patchouli. A few drops of oils mixed with some water and the scene is set for a productive afternoon.

 

15.00 A reflexology client comes to see me with a specific need. We’ve met before so I am aware that her PMT is really affecting her life. I have mixed  a remedy to help with her symptoms which I have used for myself and taken from The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood. For example, a remedy for the kind of PMT that makes you feel really angry with those around you is Palmarosa (10 drops), Bergamot (10drops) and Geranium (10 drops) mixed in 30mls of sweet almond oil and massaged into the tummy, back and around the hips. This mixture can also be used in the bath. (Worwood, 1991). I use this oil when giving her a reflexology treatment.

 

20.00 It’s time to start winding down and I love to have a bath with essential oils. For this, I use a plain bubble bath from Naturally Thinking and add a few drops of Lavender oil and chamomile to help calm me down for bed.

 

After my bath, I will have massage myself, paying special attention to my feet, with the same essential oil mix as above but in a body butter or a sweet almond oil. If I’m feeling very indulgent, I would wrap my feet in bags over night to let the thick cream and beautiful oils really soak in.

 

I hold a diploma in aromatherapy and use massage oils with essential oils in my work as a reflexologist. I enjoy reflecting on the wisdom of others to further my studies in this interesting subject and my favourite books are from Valerie Ann Worwood. She has written many books (the PMT mix is one of her recommendations) and I dip into her wealth of knowledge for new ideas.

I hope you enjoy your week and find a little space in your day just for you. Looking forward to hearing your comments and your favourite blends too.

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My Top Ten Journaling Books (your journal part 3)

Hi everyone, how have you been feeling this week?  Have you managed to buy a journal to start a morning practice? I’d love to hear from you if you have. I’m looking forward to seeing images of your journals with you sitting serenely and peaceful beside them! Tweet me on @harpendendoula with your pictures and let’s start a journal revolution in the UK. How are those positive affirmations coming along?  It can be quite difficult to think about what you actually want especially if you are chasing your tail all of the time so maybe just jot down three. Think about what you would like in terms of your self-development, your family, friends, partner, health and wellbeing, spirituality and write one sentence about where you would like to be. Easy!journalsSo this week, I was looking through my journaling books for some blogging inspiration and I realised just how many I have. It’s lovely to see them all in a pile and think how exciting it will be to revisit them again.

Some of these I have acquired when we were holidaying in the States when the children were little. Morning Pages, Bullet Journaling,  Scrapbooking and Art Journaling are so popular over there and it’s a dream for a Brit to soak in the new ideas and inspiration.

The large Barnes and Noble bookshops are incredible to browse around for a few hours and I was in heaven when I visited. Luckily my family were aware of this when I visited as I would be there for some time…and I mean a LONG time!

They would settle themselves into the kids section followed by a Starbucks smoothie giving me some amazing alone time just browsing and looking at all the books I wanted to take home but my luggage allowance said ‘No’!
So here is a list of my top ten journaling books for you to try.

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1. Write for Life by Shebherd B. Kominars – A super book to delve into with chapters such as Now and Zen and American Indian Spirituality and great ideas too, such as writing to leave a legacy for your kids. A little bit different.

2. Journal to the Self by Kathleen Adams – One of my favourites as it’s simple and clear and gives you lots of prompts to start you off.

3. The New Diary by Tristain Rainer – One of the classics along with At a Journal Workshop, not one for the newbie journal writer but great if you are looking to delve deeper into the subject.

4. Writing down your Soul by Janet Connor – Some great prompts in here.

5. The Untethered Soul – Michael A Singer – not strictly a journal workbook but a beautiful name and some thought-provoking questions to help you on your way.

6. Creative Journal Writing by Stephanie Dowrick – another of my favourites. I love her book Intimacy and Solitude so it follows that I really enjoyed this one. I like the way she writes and the format is very easy to follow.

7. Writing to Save your Life by Michele Weldon – A great book but more ‘wordy’ than some of the others so not so helpful if you are a busy Mum looking for some quick tips.

8. At a Journal Workshop by Ira Progroff. A classic for the seasoned journaler but not one for anyone new to the world  as it’s very in depth and quite wordy. Lots of ideas if you have the time to devote to it so don’t completely write it off.

9. Life is a Verb by Patti Digh – again, not strictly a journaling book but a lovely visual feast to inspire you.

10. Let it Out by Kate Dalebout – I am cheating by adding this as one of my favourites as I haven’t read it yet but I have it on good authority that it’s got some great exercises in it.

So that’s my top ten but no means exhaustive list of books on journaling. I would love to hear from you if you have any other books that you recommend .I am aware that there may be more out there for me to try and I love a new journaling book.

In the meantime, remember

1. Make time for yourself to clear your head and set your intention for the day (preferably first thing in the morning).

2. Write something in your journal daily even if it’s stream of consciousness and makes no sense!

3. Create your affirmations and feel how great it will be when you have achieved those things. You can do one affirmation per ‘Life Heading’ if that makes it easier to think of them.

Family

Partner

Friends

Finance

Spirituality

Self Development

Health and Fitness

Your Environment – work and home.

Let me know how you get on, but in the meantime, enjoy your day and I’ll catch up with you next time.

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But Liz, I have NO time! (your journal part 2)

I’m conscious that some of  you may have read my blog last week and felt that my ideas were a little unrealistic in your circumstances.

The children are taking up all of your mental space and there just isn’t enough time in the day for you.

Maybe you feel that writing a journal is never going to happen and you would just be setting yourself up to fail?

You don’t have time to buy the food let alone go shopping for a journal.

This post is especially for you!

Today we are going to take a speedy look at

Five reasons why you need a journal in your life

and

Ten different types of speed journal for those with very little time

So let’s delve in! 

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Five reasons to keep a journal

  1. It’s hard to make time to meditate and sometimes your ‘monkey mind’ can be very distracting. Writing in a journal can be a meditative, calming experience and forces you to sit down in a quiet place and reflect.
  2. The pleasures that arise from choosing a beautiful notebook and pen to write down your thoughts are simple but feel great!
  3. Journaling can help you to feel calmer. When you create time to write your daily pages you clear out your mind in preparation for the rest of the day. I have mentioned that I use an extra large Moleskine journal for this purpose but you don’t have to. A smaller notebook will suffice, it’s more important that it fits in with your life and you commit to it.
  4. Writing down your goals helps you to clarify what it is that you are looking for in your life. We will look at goals in a later blog but for the moment, just think about one emotion you would like to feel today. For example, mine would be a sense of inner peace. What can I do to create a sense of serenity in my life today?
  5. Improve your  creativity with an art journal. I will be writing about art journaling later in later posts but in the meantime, check out some of the Pinterest boards on art journals/creative journals for inspiration.
Peace and calm at The Garden Sanctuary

Peace and calm at The Garden Sanctuary

So, what journal would suit me?

The Daily Pages – daily stream of consciousness jottings adapted to fit your circumstances.

Bullet/list journal – using lists of items with bullet points is a great way of putting things down on paper. It’s quick but still offers you an opportunity to reflect on your thoughts. You can create a beautifully decorated bullet journal if you enjoy arts and crafts, or a functional list of lists on each page. It’s up to you. You could dedicate a page for lists such as all the things below.

Health Journal – food diary and exercise. So why can’t I lose that weight? What am I eating daily? How much water am I drinking? Exercise?

Gratitude Journal – 10 things I’m grateful for today. Head up the notebook with the date and bullet point all the wonderful things that make you happy.

Focus – what is my focus today. What will I do to achieve that one thing?

Book List – How about a page for non-fiction and one for fiction, creating bullet points for each book. Title, author, publisher and your thoughts. It’s great to look back on all the books you’ve read that year.

Goals – split over different pages according to the part of your life that you’re setting goals for. I will talk more about this in subsequent blogs but to get you thinking in terms of headings, here are some ideas:

Family, Friends, Business, Physical environment, Health, Finances, Spirituality, Self Development

Personal Development –  What do I need to do today that will move me closer to the person I want to be? List 5 things.

Affirmations – 10 affirmations a day. Written in the present tense as if they are part of your life now. They should also be in the first person and positive. For example “I am happy and fulfilled in my personal life” rather than “I don’t want to fall out with my kids today”

Meditation Journal – How many times did I meditate this week? How did I  feel? Was I frustrated because I couldn’t focus? Was I happy because I fitted in 5 sessions during a busy week? Daily meditation journal could bullet point the thoughts that came up and went during the meditation. What are my recurrent thoughts?

So that’s given you so ideas to be getting on with. Time is short but you really deserve this mental space so build it in and commit to it. Until next time, keep in touch and let me know how you’re getting on.

 

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Where do I start? (your journal – part 1)

So,  grab a coffee, pull up a chair, create a little time and let’s have a chat. For many of you, the first week of the school holidays has come and gone so it seemed a good time to check in to see how you are feeling. Routines have changed and life can look a little different. Have you managed to create a little space in your day just for you? Was it in the morning or at night, perhaps a little quiet time during the day?

I know how busy it can be with the children during the holidays, and the lack of personal space during the day can pile on the stress. Your thoughts aren’t your own and time can be very short. I can speak from experience when I say that creating a little space in your life, around your children, will really help you in the long run mentally, physically and emotionally. It’s vital to be pro-active about ‘you’ and really take care of your emotional and physical health and well-being so that you can be there for others when they need you.

Plot Spoiler: If you wait for the time to appear, it won’t. You must make the time and that’s the tricky bit!

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In subsequent weeks, you will hear some hints and tips about how to create that peaceful and calm life that you see others living but don’t think you can achieve. Together, I believe, we can make that space and help you to feel a little more relaxed and ready to face the world.

In the future, I will be looking at:

  • journaling in various forms and why it will benefit you
  • mindfulness and how creating space will help you in the long term
  • values – what they are, which ones resonate with you and why you need to spend time reflecting on them
  • alternative health such as aromatherapy, reiki and reflexology and why you need holistic health measures in your life
  • combining career and motherhood and making it work
  • Your life as a stay-at-home mum and why YOU need to be the priority
  • relationships – top tips for a serene homelife
  • book recommendations from great non-fiction self-help books
  • links to other sites that will help you along the way

My blog will take the form of two blog posts a week combined with a short video, just to mix it up a little. So follow me and it will be like having a little coaching session during the week to keep on track.

So where to start?

I’ve mentioned a lot of subjects here, and there is a lot of choice about where to begin. Forgive me for being a little selfish (that is what this blog is about after all!) and allow me to start in my favourite place. So today we will be looking a the subject of journaling (day 1 – how to choose your journal).

How to choose your journal

You may be new to journaling or a seasoned notebook writer but choosing the place in which you write your thoughts in is important. I pick a notebook according to how I am feeling at that time and you could do the same. It’s important to pick one that resonates with you as it will spur you on to pick it up and jot some notes in it even when you don’t feel like it. I tend to buy from two companies and I mix and match between them. The brand I use for my daily journal and life notes is Moleskine, which you can get in any Waterstones bookshops or from moleskine online (I could spend hours browsing through their amazing website). They are very plain to look at but the covers bend back making them easy to scribble in (in the softback version) and the paper is of nice quality.

 

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My lovely leather Earthworks journals

If I’m feeling really decadent and want to treat myself, the leather journals you can see in the image on the left and below are from Earthworks (Earthworks Journals). There are two types that I buy, the luxuriously soft leather fold around type, which feels amazing when you open it out (great for jotting ideas down). They also stock the  harder leather journals, mine is engraved with Celtic images which I love.

 

 

I use my Moleskine for my Daily Pages and also my Creative Journaling (more about that in subsequent posts). Depending on the type of Earthworks journal, I will either use it for my Morning Pages or a Creative Journal.

My Creative Notebook with a pile of old Morning Pages journals.

My Creative Notebook with a pile of old Morning Pages journals.

I have talked briefly about Morning Pages in my previous blog post and also my Vlog but for those who haven’t read the posts, a recap. Daily Pages is an idea from the wonderful Julia Cameron who encourages writing 3 pages of morning thoughts and ideas to fill three sides of A4  every day. I have taken the sentiment and adapted it to fit in with my life (apologies Julia!). Julia’s book The Artist’s Way is a great read, not just for artists but for anyone who would like a little more creativity in their lives.

My Creative Journal is a different animal altogether and I will talk about that in future posts. You can see an image taken from one of my journals above or on an old WordPress site of mine called My Creative Life Project when I used to post images and thoughts from my journals.

In the next few days, I’d like you to have a think about the kind of journal you could buy, maybe research some on the web, buy one if you can and make a start with your Morning Pages. Combine it with a little personal space in the day and you are making a great start to a quieter, calmer life.

In my next post I will look at how to start your journal with Morning Pages and Journal Prompts. In the meantime, have a great day and remember DAILY me-time. No excuses!

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