Elisabeth Grover
07794351958

Category: A peaceful life (page 1 of 2)

February Favourites

February is an interesting time of year. On one hand, we are in the middle of winter here in Hertfordshire with snow and sleet outside my window as I write this.

On the other, we are almost in March and the snowdrops are raising their little heads above the soil and this makes me very excited. I can’t wait for the beautiful bluebells to pop up in my local woods in the next coupe of months.

This time last year it was a very different story. My Facebook account brought up some images taken on my dog walk in February 2017, a couple of days before I was taken into hospital with sepsis. I hadn’t been unwell (these photos demonstrated that I was out and about with my dog) and I certainly hadn’t anticipated being critically ill so quickly and it was a shock for everyone around me. This episode has made me re-evaluate my life choices and has helped me to focus on the things that are important to me.

So what are my favourite things this month?

Books

Non-Fiction

Part of my role as a Doula is an educator and I found this book to be a lovely addition to my Pregnancy, Birth and Post-Partum library. It’s beautifully presented using stunning images and reflective prose and talks about how we can care for the new mum without pushing her to get back to normal as soon as possible.

The First Forty Days

Even if your post-partum days are behind you, maybe you have a friend who would like a copy? I would recommend this lovely book for its recipes and ideas for taking life at a slower pace regardless of where you are on your childrearing journey.

Fiction

Anatomy of a Scandal is a page-turner and I am loving it so far. It tells the story of a rape case told from different angles – the man who has been accused of rape, his wife and the prosecuting barrister. There are a few twists and turns along the way which really grip you and the writing makes this book unputdownable.

Anatomy of a Scandal

Thoughtful Living

I have been trying out new products in an attempt to ditch the plastic and here are my top four.

Bamboo Toothbrushes

Dental Aesthetics Bamboo Toothbrush

I have tried a few bamboo toothbrushes after ditching plastic ones last year but the ones I have used in the past are a little soft for my liking. These ones, from Dental Aesthetics on Amazon, have been my chosen toothbrushes for a few months now. They are nice and firm and have all the eco-credentials that I’m looking for in a bamboo toothbrush. Click on the title of the image to take you to the page.

My Bamboo Cup

Just take a look at this beauty! I was drawn to the William Morris styling and colours and the size is perfect for making sure that I take in plenty of water during the day. I carry this around with me in my bag and take it to the gym where I prefer drinking water from than the sports bottles that I have used previously.

William Morris Bamboo Cup

Sanitary Pads

I know that I may lose a few of you by talking about washable sanitary pads but bear with me if you can. As a society, we just can’t carry on throwing sanitary pads and nappies away in the rubbish without thinking about where they go after we dump them. The plastic alone is one reason to rethink our usage and, once you have seen images of the carnage that we are causing to our planet, I believe that we all have a responsibility to look at alternatives.

I buy mine from a company called Honour Your Flow who sell lots of different colours and materials to suit all women – including post-partum.  I have used reusable pads from them for a long time, I throw them in the wash and they come out clean and ready to reuse. They have saved me a fortune too.

White Vinegar

Lastly, my favourite friend. If you haven’t invested in white vinegar as a cleaner yet, please let me introduce you to this amazing product. Firstly, if you buy it in 5 litres bottles, it costs next to nothing.

Fabric Softener

I use white vinegar as a fabric softener in my wash. A cap full in the fabric conditioner section of my washing machine makes my clothes feel lovely and soft and doesn’t smell of vinegar at all. I often add a few drops of essential oils too. Check out my favourites here.

Cleaner

I use white vinegar to clean my sinks – put it in a bottle and spray onto any areas of limescale. Leave it for a few minutes and wipe it off. It cleans AMAZINGLY!

Descaling a kettle.

Descaling my kettle was the first time I found the many uses of white vinegar.  Chemical descalers were really expensive and white vinegar worked perfectly. Pour it in, bring the kettle almost to the boil and leave it for 15 minutes. It’s the only time that I find the smell a little off-putting but that’s fine if you’re saving pounds each time you descale.

Until next time….

I hope you have enjoyed my February Favourites. If you have any questions about moving towards a greener way of living, drop me a line and I’ll send you some resources that I have picked up along the way.

 

 

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January Minimalism

I have been investigating minimalism over the winter period as I become more and more conscious about the stuff that I own. I am aware that in the past  I have flippantly bought more things because I just ‘felt’ like it. I have been looking at my need to buy from a number of angles – the ethical, the minimalist and the psychological and it’s been an interesting journey for me.

Ethical

Ethically, I made the decision at Christmas that  I would buy from small businesses and that made life a lot more interesting. Previously, I  had always bought from larger businesses – pressing the ‘buy’ button on the Amazon app. made life easy but it didn’t feel right.

Buying gifts this year gave me a lot of pleasure, they were beautifully created and I knew that the person who had made them was a single trader or very small business. I think the gifts that I bought were well-received too. There is a real groundswell of support for the small business and it’s great to be involved in that from a consumer’s point of view.

Minimalism

On a minimalist front, I really think about the things I buy and I have been enjoying this way of life throughout January. I keep a simple budget and only buy things that give me pleasure or that I really need. I’ve been doing some research into minimalism and that brings me to some recommendations for you to read this month.

The Minimalists are Joshua and Ryan, a couple of young men who decided to turn their back on the corporate life and live by their values, getting rid of the junk in their lives along the way. I watched their film on Netflix over Christmas and it really resonated with me.  I have been reading the essays on their website and listening to their podcasts. I love listening to podcasts on my early-morning dog walk and The Minimalists episodes are all packed with thoughts and ideas to get your started. I would recommend them to you all.

I have also been reading essays by Joshua Becker who’s message inspires me and, coupled with The Minimalists, really helps me on my ‘less-is-more’ journey. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m making small changes along the way and these changes are helping me to feel more positive about my choices.

Remember that clearing the clutter isn’t just about making room in your house, it can mean clearing out the relationships which don’t serve you anymore.

  • Are their people in your life that you would like to see less of?
  • Do they drag you down and suck your energy?
  • What steps can you put in place to minimise your contact with them?

If you find it difficult to declutter your life space then this could be the most difficult step to take.

Psychological

Psychological, I have been questioning why I buy so much stuff. I read a book a few years ago called Stuffocation and it resonated with me. I tend to buy art equipment and books so you could argue that they aren’t going to break the bank but all these little things add up. I buy books and store them to read at a later date but I now have a bigger pile to ‘To Read’ and it’s starting to feel a little overwhelming.

I am starting another Open University module shortly and so my time for reading for relaxation will become shorter and shorter. I’ve also noticed that my attention span isn’t as good as it used to be and I’m very distracted by my phone. It makes me sad that I am so distracted and it’s something I really need to work on.

I need to go through my books and take some to the charity shops but I enjoy being surrounded by them in my living room. I see them as old friends who have been there with me throughout and it gives me pleasure to see how my tastes have changed over the years. So I’m not sure what to do about it. If you have any ideas to help me deal with this conflict, leave a message for me in the comments.

Next Steps

The message I have taken from my research is to start where you are.

  • What one step can you do today to clear your life of all the junk and mess?
  • If you don’t have time to physically do anything to take you one step nearer the goal, can you make a plan to clear a space over the weekend?
  • Can you look through your books and take some of those to the local charity shop? (that’s one for me!)

I’d love to know how you get on but in the meantime, have a great January. I’ll be back next month with some February Favourites.

 

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December in The Garden Sanctuary

I was thinking about a new direction for my blog posts and looking around at others blog posts I enjoy reading and reflecting on why I enjoy them so much. They tend to be centred around living a slower pace of life and savouring those special moments. The images are beautiful and the writing evokes happy memories.

I have looked back at some of the posts I have written in the past and I think that my favourite was the  ‘My Little Box of Comforting Things’. There is a theme running through and that is the enjoyment of all things peaceful and quiet.

I’d like to start a series of posts looking at some things that I will be enjoying this month.

My Non-Fiction Book of the Month – ‘Making Winter’ by Emma Mitchell

If you haven’t seen ‘Making Winter’  in your local bookshop, and you like a bit of art and craft in your life, I’d urge you to order it. Focusing on the slow life with plenty of prompts to make you wrap up warm and go outside, even in the coldest of days. There are some lovely ideas for crafts for you to browse through, even if you haven’t yet found the time for a bit of art in your life.

 

 

My Fiction Book of the Month – ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman.

‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ is an absolute joy to read, a wonderful mix of humour, sadness, intrigue and the vagaries of life all in one volume. A debut novel by a fresh new talent, it follows the life of Eleanor who lives a very simple life. Written in the first person, we get a real feel for her character with the immediacy of what she is feeling and how she deals with the people she interacts with on a daily basis.

The book is about change and her relationships with those around her. It’s unpredictable and beautifully written.

Scented Candles

I have found three wonderful independent candle makers on my travels recently and I can highly recommend all three for service, beautiful scented candles and lovely Instagram feeds. 

The Botanical Candle Co.

Bous UK

The Bearded Candlemakers 

My Favourite Journal

Those who follow me on Instagram will know that I have quite a collection of journals. I like to have a different book dependent on my mood at the time and the many different ways in which I use my journal.

I have been a big fan of bullet journaling since I discovered it this year and my Scribbles That Matter is perfect for my needs. The dotted paper gives me the flexibility to create my monthly and weekly spreads and the thickness of the paper allows me to be liberal with my watercolour paints.

My Favourite Gloves

I was absolutely thrilled to win this pair of beautiful fingerless gloves from Moonlight Wovens in collaboration with Jessica Rose Williams. I was involved in a Twitter conversation about the best accessories for the winter photographer and I had an idea about creating My Hygge Clothing List so these beautiful handmade gloves came at a perfect time to include in my list. I’ll continue with some favourites next month.

My Favourite Blog

Finding Jessica Rose at Christmas is a perfect tonic to the busyness of consumerism. Her blog talks about minimalism and how to cut down on all the stuff we have that clogs up our lives and contains beautifully curated photographs of her life and work. The piece entitled ‘Embracing a Simpler Christmas’ is perfect for the stressed woman looking for some sanity.

My Favourite Shop

I’ve really enjoyed making better choices at Christmas over the past couple of years and this means buying gifts from smaller and local companies. I bought some gifts from Aerende last year and was really impressed with the quality of the products and the story behind each product (each item has been handcrafted by people who have been unable to access conventional employment). Emily’s website is beautifully curated too so take a look.

I hope you have enjoyed my little list of goodies, I’d love to hear about your gems so drop me a line with your thoughts and ideas and I will check them out. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and New Year and I’ll see you ‘on the other side’! Here’s to 2018…

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Reflexologist and Doula

Whilst I’ve been recuperating, I have been flicking through lots of content on the internet, blogs and Instagram images and seeing how other people spend their days.

I am really interested in daily life and I enjoy reading blogs documenting the daily life of women. This gave me the inspiration to create my blog post “A Day in the Life of” to give you an idea of the daily practices that help me through.

5am – Yes, an Early Start!

Not sure why I wake up so early but I have never been able to lie in bed once I’m awake, and this time of year is perfect for an early start. I get up straight away, make myself a cup of herbal tea and sit down with my Morning Pages.

For those of you who haven’t read my blog from the beginning, here’s a link to more information about Morning Pages.

I love starting my day with a journal entry and, although most of the time it’s utter rubbish, it helps me to focus on the day ahead if I do a brain dump on my page. I use a large Moleskine blank journal as that gives me creative freedom to write as much or as little as I like. I always fill the page as I think it’s good practice to complete it even if it’s complete unintelligible!

6 am- My Therapy Walk with The Mrs

I have to drag my dog Coco out of bed –  she is really not a morning girl! Colloquially we call her ‘The Mrs’,  something my son named her after we picked her from a local rescue centre. It’s just stuck and seems to suit her.  We like to think it’s because she is The Boss in the family! No wonder she doesn’t come when we call her –  poor dog has so many identities, she can’t work out who she is.

The Mrs and I head out to our local fields at 6am, me with my podcast playing in my ears and Mrs checking out the local squirrel fraternity. One day she may catch one but that hasn’t happened yet. I have an eclectic mix of podcasts on my phone and I pick one according to how I’m feeling at the time.

Our walk is a wonderful time for me to clear my head ready for the day and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

8 am – Back for Breakfast

Our route takes 90 minutes and I feel great when I have completed it, rain or shine. I jump in the shower when I get home and get ready for my day.

My clinic space is a little round room in my garden called Bumble and I make sure that it’s warm and ready for my first client of the day. The underfloor heating is pretty efficient so I can put it on when I go out and Bumble will be lovely and toasty by the time I get back.

About 30 minutes before my client arrives, I light the scented candles so the smell is delicious when they arrive. I am currently using Heartwood Candles as I love to support local businesses and their range of essential oil candles is just what I need.

I bring in the warm fluffy towels and prepare the area for a spa reflexology session. My wooden pedicure bowl is filled with hot water and Arbonne Rescue and Renew Detox Soak sprinkled liberally allowing the scent to radiate around the room.

I lay out my scrub, the oils, and a spare towel to dry my client’s feet and I sit alone in silence, enjoying the feeling of the sun as it shines through the door and the little round skylight above me. My room is very special to me and I decorate it with meaningful items from around the world.

10am –  My Reflexology Client

My client arrives and I welcome her with a cup of herbal tea and a warm smile. I love to hear how my ladies are getting on in their day-to-day lives and to meet new women who have heard about me through social media or through the recommendations of friends.

It gives me great pleasure to treat them to a reflexology treatment as I know how much I enjoy having reflexology too. My ladies are often busy with the many demands placed on them and to give them a little space to themselves is a wonderful gift.

Whilst we are talking, and my client is soaking her feet in the warm water, I take each foot and gently massage it with the body scrub in the Rescue and Renew Range.  I can see her visibly relax as the treatment goes on.

After washing each foot and changing the towel, I lay her back on my reflexology chair and I offer her a soft blanket to keep her warm before I begin my foot massage with my Arbonne Massage Oil.

My clients tell me that they find a deep state of relaxation with my treatments and I love hearing that kind of feedback. It’s difficult to switch off when life is busy and to have the opportunity to leave the world outside my little wooden door is one that is too good to miss.

The ladies who come to me in the evening can often leave me and go straight to bed when they get home. What could be better?

Once I have gently woken her up and offered her a glass of fresh water we talk about how she feels and what I have discovered during her reflexology treatment . After she has gone, I tidy up the space, change the towels and prepare for the next lady to arrive.

12 pm – Lunch and Journal Time

I have been enjoying substituting my regular meals with Huel a vegan protein shake. I make up a Huel shake for breakfast and lunch and I have a vegan dinner in the evening.  I became vegan for a number of reasons, animal welfare, health, sustainability and weight loss and I am thrilled to have lost 3 stones whilst following this plan.

I became vegan for a number of reasons, animal welfare, health, sustainability to name as few and weight loss too.  I am thrilled to have lost 3 stones whilst following this plan.

On a summer day, I will take my shake outside and sit in my hammock, catching up on emails and social media posts. I have my bullet journal by my side and I will reflect on the day ahead whilst jotting down some thoughts.

13 pm – My Doula Work

My next client is a pregnant lady who I am supporting during an exciting time in her life. My doula work gives me a huge amount of pleasure as it brings together different passions in my life in a neat little bundle.

I offer couples two or three antenatal sessions and in these sessions, we look at their feelings towards their pregnancy and birth, ideas about positions for giving birth, alternative comfort measures, positive thinking during pregnancy, and my recommendations for books and websites.

I am passionate about women’s bodies and the power that they have within. I have utmost faith that they can birth their baby and I love to remind themselves of how amazing they truly are.

If I am taking her through my hypnobirthing course, I will arrange to see her with her birth partner as it’s important that her partner is supportive of the relaxation methods she will be using during the birth of her baby. It’s a great thing for them to do together during the latter few weeks of their pregnancy too.

We reflect on her feelings about her birth and what measures we can put in place to help her find her inner strength and deep feminine guidance. I love to help my women find this strength so that she can feel good about her birth experience.

I firmly believe that a couple can have a good experience regardless of how their baby is born. A woman can have an assisted birth with forceps or ventouse and feel that every decision was hers and she felt strong throughout. It’s important to remind couples of this and I really like to be part of this positive process.

15 pm – Painting and Relaxation

My client leaves and I have some time to rest with my journal at hand. I will get my watercolours out and create a small painting, or I’ll do some writing. My bullet journal gives me ultimate flexibility to create the kind of content I like at the time and I recommend it to everyone to give it a go.

I say to people who ask me about my art that it’s the process that matters and not what it looks like at the end. It can be really quite intimidating to look at the lovely images online and it can put you off creating if you aren’t particularly ‘arty’.

What it looks like is really not important as there is something very calming about choosing your colours and putting them onto paper in either swathes of colour, or circles, squares or other shapes. I love it.

 

17 pm – Walking and Talking

Another walk with The Mrs, this time with my daughter who uses the time to tell me about her day. Walking provides a perfect opportunity to talk about things that matter to her and we enjoy our afternoon strolls whilst The Mrs frollicks in the long grass looking out for a doggy friend or that  ‘Squirrel that Got Away’.

19 pm – Home for Tea and finally……Bed

Home for tea, a lovely easy vegan feast of puy lentils with a tomato and chilli sauce, black olives, tofu and fluffy rice, accompanied by some ciabatta bread dipped in Spanish olive oil. The candles and incense are burning in the background and my salt lamp provides a calming light to accompany my evening meal.

A quick catch up on my favourite boxed set episode or a chapter in my latest book and it’s time for bed at 9.30, ready for that early start.

The Mrs has snuggled up on the sofa after her busy day and is catching up on some rest before I wake her up ready for our next morning walk.

Conclusion

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, and you’d like to come and see me in The Garden Sanctuary, please book an appointment by clicking here. I’d love to welcome you to my little sanctuary of calm and relaxation (and a nice cup of tea!).

 

 

A Doula’s Life

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my life as a birth doula and answering some interesting questions from friends and colleagues about my role.

The conversations I have had have made me think about the crossover between my doula life and my personal one and how I can use the knowledge from one and implement it in my daily life.

Research has shown that hiring a doula can have a positive effect on a woman’s experience of birth and in today’s article, I thought it would be good to write down the top five things that I have been reflecting on from my doula world.

  1. Relax and take your time

We rush from one thing to another in our busy lives, not focusing on one thing at a time but spreading ourselves thinly. We fail to stop and really take notice of the world around us.

I have found that if a labouring woman is left to herself, without intervention and well-meaning cheerleading from her observers, it can be an amazing process to watch. She trusts that the process will take some time and her body will perform and it’s all ok. It’s nature, and she goes with it.

Dim the lights and let it be.

Being present at a birth has helped me to rethink my ways of being in the world and slowing down a little to focus on one thing at a time. I take long walks with my dog first thing in the morning and I embrace the light and the rising sun and listen to the sounds of the birds. I allow time to flow like my labouring mother. No agenda. No rush.

2. Listen to your body

The labouring woman listens and trusts that her body will find it’s own rhythm and space. In an active birth, she will often finds a place to stand or squat  for each surge and she breaths her way through the sensations. She trusts that her body will do the work and she focuses inward

The benefits of an active birth

If we are busy rushing around, we don’t have time to listen to our body. There are so many sights and sounds, conflicting demands on our time and the whispers are being drowned out by the assault on our senses.

It’s time to do things differently.

3. A Divine Plan

I am often amazed by the woman’s body and how it works. I love watching nature take its course and it makes me feel that there is a wonderful divine plan at work. Watching this process unfold is incredible and I always feel privileged to be part of a woman’s birth story.

I think about this grand design when I am walking the dog and I look at the trees and the sky and enjoy my time in nature. Whether you believe that there is a great divine plan and who it is created by – God, The  Universe, Nature – you don’t have to have a name for it to enjoy it.

4.  Surround yourself with support

Women book doula’s for a number of reasons. They may have had a difficult first birth and feel that they would like more support this time around. They may be first-time mums and feel that they are bombarded with negativity from others and are looking for a more balanced and positive view of the birthing world.

 having a companion fully present in the moment, can be tremendously beneficial to her mental health and confidence. 

Since starting my business, I have found amazing support from others in the small business world. There’s a wonderful community of women who are there for each other and willing to listen to the business issue of the day or help with suggestions. Sometimes just knowing that they are there and that they have my best interests at heart can feel great.

This makes me think about how a doula can support a birthing woman by walking alongside her during her transition from woman to mother.

Listening, watching and being.

5. The use of alternative therapies

I have been interested in the use of alternative therapies for many years and got a lot of benefit from treatments in the past, but it’s only recently when treating my pregnancy ladies that I have seen first hand how helpful they can be.

The benefits of maternity reflexology are plentiful.

I help my clients relax and feel strong and empowered during their pregnancy with reflexology and positive birthing classes in my garden space. Towards the end of their pregnancy, I can encourage a natural labour with a treatment especially deigned for induction, if the baby is ready.

I love using aromatherapy oils during labour by placing a few drops on a tissue on the radiator to scent the room or added to a carrier oil for a massage or reflexology session.

There are some oils that are helpful during pregnancy and some that you should avoid. 

I use a reiki self-healing ritual in the morning to clear my energy before the day and sometimes at night after my bath. Alternative therapies can have a subtle effect and can really help you in day to day life.

Best job in the world!

I love my role in promoting a positive birth experience for a woman and her partner and I relish adapting when I learn from doula-ing for use in my life.

I now listen to myself a lot more and when I’m tired, I rest. When I’m hungry I eat healthy foods or a smoothie. I surround myself with happy, supportive women and I allow nature to take its course instead of trying to rush things.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top five take-aways and it’s made you think about ideas to implement in your daily routine. I would love to hear about five values or activities that you take from your work into your life so comment in the box below.

Contact me

If you would like to chat about how I can help to support you during your birth or pregnancy, please drop me a line elisabeth@thegardensanctuary.co.uk and we’ll arrange to chat.

If you’re interested in booking a reflexology or reiki session with me, please book an appointment by clicking this link.

 

The Power of Silence

I’m delighted to introduce you to our special guest and Mindfulness teacher Ruth Farenga who has written about a subject that is close to my heart, the power of silence. I have really enjoyed reading her reflective piece and I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.  

Ruth is Mindfulness teacher and Founder of Mindful Pathway – providing Mindfulness courses for the public in St Albans at the Albany Centre and onsite courses for businesses in the UK.

As I peer into my teacup, I contemplate what silence is. Is it rich or nothingness? Is it the absence of words or total sound around us? Thich Nhat Hahn describes real silence as the cessation of talking of both the mouth and the mind. It is an opportunity to truly stop without the clutter or noise of society.

As an only child, I disliked silence. I experienced the loneliness of long summers with few people to play with – the absence of company to entertain. It was dull and I was bored. Indeed, in my twenties, I always felt the need for company. If I had nothing to do for an evening, I would go through a list of 5-10 people to call or fill the time with a series of records, not enjoying the potential quiet time.

I needed to fill the void.

So how do we experience silence? In the 19th Century, Thoreau retreated from society for two years into the woods of New England – to discover the depths of solitude, inform deep states of consciousness and his subsequent writing.

But such extreme measures may not be possible, or even needed.

First steps

My first experience was a silent Mindfulness day in Oxford in 2012. I had taken the 8 week Mindfulness course and the silent day was an opportunity to ‘deepen our practice’, whatever that meant, but I was both curious and apprehensive. There were 30 of us in the room and we had signed up for jobs to assist with the flow of the day and sat down.

I was not fully prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions that day. The teaching was tender and gentle. We explored sitting meditations, mindful walking and movement. It was a day of paradoxical feelings – as it progressed, I felt more and more lonely but yet rested at the same time. I felt a relief to not having to talk to anyone, but at the same time, I felt shunned at not being acknowledged by my fellow participants. The lunchtime brought a new wave of isolation as mealtime conjured up expectations for me as a social experience. Meanwhile, I studied the variety on my plate with a new mindful affection.

At the end of the day, we were asked to reflect on our day. For many, including me, it was a rush of emotions and we spoke through tears to explain how we felt. Loneliness, peace, agitation, being sidelined, awareness, sadness, pain, happiness – the lot. I was relieved that the others felt the depth of emotion as I thought I was the only one.

It was the start of a fruitful relationship with silence.

On Retreat

I’ve now experienced and taught many Mindfulness days and retreats but perhaps the most memorable so far was a 5 night silent retreat at the secular Buddhist retreat centre, Gaia House in Devon. It felt like a challenge I was ready for.

Again, waves of emotion came, not as extreme as in the past but still notable. The first 2 days were the most difficult. What hit me most was, despite all that I’ve learnt, I was playing a narrative – ‘by now I should be able to maintain a still mind’. Our teacher talked in depth about how expectation and striving for something can limit us. We can’t go on retreat to expect a still mind because ‘it knows’! The hidden agenda of the ego will trip us up and, therefore, we need to be without agenda, to allow and welcome whatever may come.

By the second half of the retreat, I had, to a large extent, allowed the experience to be what it is. The edges of ‘suffering’ had softened. Despite our lack of words, I developed warmth for my fellow ‘retreatants’ and respected how many don’t make eye contact. They no longer needed to fill my void. It is true that being in silence with other people can create an intimacy. There was often a dance of movement and communication in the corridors, we didn’t need to speak, we could show compassion without speaking or even looking at each other.

Taking silence into everyday life

Last Christmas (2016), the Pope advised us amid the rush of daily life to make time for silence. His example is to use a nativity scene but for the non-religious, other ways can be found to take a pause from the hustle and bustle. It could be a tree that you visit, a view or a simple meditation that allows you some silence.

Silence is very personal. It can cause us to stare inwardly, introspectively, and ‘suffer’ as if obsessed about how silence affects us personally. However, silence and stillness is something you can always access, yet you need to allow it in, to become its friend. To start listening to yourself and to appreciate its depth and richness by spending time in dedicated silence with others. This is a journey that is worth embarking on.

It turns out that this only child learned to appreciate (and need) silence, the space, the depth and the openness it brings.

Peace, Solitude and Silence – My Life Companions.

Hi Everyone,

I had an inspiring meeting with a group of wonderful like-minded women this week which helped me to think about the important things in my life.  I am going to be combining  the insights that I received from that meeting, with an exciting  vision-board workshop today in order to reflect upon my life’s values.

Creating space for the important things is a must but it can be difficult to commit to giving them the space that they require. I often find that I am reacting to things rather than taking a few steps back and looking at the bigger picture.

I’m sure that some of you feel the same as me.

Writing the series about living your values has really helped me to ‘practice what I preach’ and focus on what is important to me. I thought I would share three of my top values with you.

Peace

I couldn’t write a piece about my values without including peace but what does this actually mean to me?

“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.”

~ Unknown

Such a lovely quote and one that resonates a great deal. It can be difficult to implement but it’s really healing to your spirit when you get to a point when other people don’t affect you so much.

Another one I love is:

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart”

~ Unknown

This one clarifies the issue a little more. Life is messy and noisy and it’s great to feel that inner peace is achievable in the maelstrom.

I find this quote motivating as it means that inner peace is more achievable. Not everyone has a cave to hide in with blankets and candles!

Solitude

As an only child growing up in middle-of-nowhere Cumbria, I have always found value in solitude. The world can be such a busy, noisy place, much suited to the extrovert but it’s a long way from my comfort zone.

As I’ve grown older, I find that solitude has become more and more important to me.  The joy of being alone and in a quiet space is wonderful.

The quieter you become, the more you can hear”

~ Ram Dass

I can appreciate that it’s difficult to find alone-time when you have a baby or a young family, looking for your full attention.

My advice is that you set an intention at the beginning of the day and then plan your day around that intention. Sometimes, those times appear but you are so busy that you miss them.

By being more present in your life, you may find those wonderful gems of silence and solitude.

You may want retreat to the bathroom when your partner gets home at night. Perhaps you can burn some aromatherapy candles (I stock the beautiful Heartwood Candles in The Sanctuary) and put a few dops of oils in your bath. See my post on aromatherapy oils for some favourites.

Dim the lights and float in the warm, healing water while you let the thoughts run through your head. Don’t judge your thoughts, just label them and let them flow. Bliss…..

Silence

The three values go hand in hand and I love the feelings that these three words invoke.

I find so many answers in those wonderful silent moments. I get up at 5am so that I can find a space in my house where there is no noise except the ticking clock and the creaking sounds in the house.

Although I have described peace as something that can be found in the busyness of daily life, a great quote for those with young people in the house, I prefer the peace and calm that I find in silence and solitude.

“Time and silence are the most luxurious things today”

~Tom Ford

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has given you something to reflect upon this Sunday morning. I thought it may be valuable for me to offer you an insight into the books that I read, ones that I find really valuable in my life’s journey.

This week’s book is:

Quiet by Susan Cain

I love her website too so check out the other pages. Her TED talk is a must!

I’d love to hear about your top three values so come and join me on Facebook to continue the conversation. I’ll put a post up there about the My Three Lovely Life Companions so check it out and I’ll see you next Sunday

Liz x

 

 

My Favourite 50 Happy Things

Hi Everyone,

I thought that I would write a list of my favourite things today. Sometimes it’s nice to drown yourself in a little warmth and  happiness, and I think Sunday is a great day for self-reflection. So here we go…
1. Candles – Scented from Espa or small tealights in Moroccan tealight holders
2. Blankets – soft and cosy to wrap up in during the winter sitting by the fire. Or while I sit in my hammock to read my book
3. Essential oils
4. Books – non-fiction preferably. There’s so much to learn!

img_42995. Tea -Camomile, Nettle or a good English Breakfast with soya milk

6. The sound of the crackling fire. The smell of the smoke and the heat it provides
7. A bath with essential oils and candles in the room. Drying myself off with fluffy white towels afterwards
8. The sound of the birds and the water trickling in the water feature outside Bumble, my therapy room in the garden
9. The warmth of the sun on my skin when I sit outside with my book
10. Light trickling through a gap in something. I love to capture that in my photographs as it’s so fleeting and beautiful
11. The sound of the boy treble – again, it’s fleeting and precious which is why I love it so much
12. The excitement of finding a vegan cheese that tastes like cheese (that’s an anticipatory item!).
13. My dog
14. Anyone’s dog!

img_429715. Smiley people who look happy to see me, even when I’ve never met them
16. Feeling heard by someone and getting my ideas reflected back to me
17. Getting a retweet, a like or a follow. My business is new so I’m very excited to reach out to new people and hear their thoughts
18. Singing in the car at the top of my voice
19. Smiling as I realise that everyone can hear me singing at the top of the voice
20. Helping at my lunch club for elderly people. The pleasure I get from seeing our guests really enjoy a wonderful hot meal is immeasurable
21. Listening to the stories that the older guests tell me. So much history that will one day disappear. We are back to my ever presence themes of impermanence and the preciousness of time.
22. On the other end of the spectrum, seeing young people enjoying the many pleasures and benefits of scouting activities
23. Enjoying a holiday with my children. I love it when we are all together in the same place and laughing with each other
24. Laughing out loud at something amusing – Youtube video’s of dogs doing funny things get me every time

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25. Music – I could do lots of posts on this one.
26. Chopin Nocturnes (especially Nocturne in C sharp minor)
27. Mozart Clarinet Concerto (2nd movement)
28. Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto (2nd movement)
29. Handel’s Messiah (For unto us a child is born)
30. Jessie by Joshua Kadison. The story behind the song moves me every time.
31. Candle in the Wind by Elton John. A song about impermanence and being misunderstood.
33. True Colours by Cyndi Lauper. Seeing the light in someone else
34. Fresh flowers in a lovely glass vase (Lilies are a favourite)
35. A clean living room (aspirational target!)
36. The gentle sound of a ticking clock is very hypnotic to me
37. Starting a new online course – I love learning
38. Finding a new aspirational website and Youtube channel/podcast.
39. Managing to spend time engrossed in the new aspirational website/podcast/youtube video AND getting my work done all in the SAME DAY!
40. My leather journals
41. Sitting by the sea, listening to the sound of the waves and the seagulls above. The smell of the seaweed. The feel of the sand as I walk
42. A large bookshop with a coffee shop inside. When Borders was still open, it was my favourite part of my US trips.
43. The smell of a new book and the crinkle of the spine as I open it. The first paragraph
44. Feeling proud of someone as they achieve something that means a lot to them
45. Listening to people as they tell me their stories. Seeing the emotion in their face as they talk. What they don’t say is as important as what they say
46. Writing my blog in the morning with a hot drink and the sound of radio 3 in the background
47. Looking through images to see which ones fit the blog theme, adding words to my images
48. Walking in the Lake District on a warm, sunny day
49. Sitting on Great Gable with my picnic, admiring the view
50. Writing lists of 50 lovely things that make me happy

I’d love to hear some of yours so drop me a note in the comments below. Some of my ideas may prompt you to think of others. Looking forward to hearing from you. Until next time….

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My Favourite Essential Oils – part 3

Hi everyone,

How are you feeling this morning?  Is the sun shining where you are or is it a little cold and damp perhaps? A day to enjoy being outside, or one to snuggle down with your  fluffy blanket and warm socks?

I hope you have managed to have a look around at your favourite comforting things and picked a couple of items to embrace this week. Sometimes we are so busy that we miss the little things that bring us pleasure and my last post was attempting to take you back to the present moment. img_4222

In today’s post I am going to complete my series of three short articles looking at my fifteen favourite essential oils.  I will finish my journey by looking at Patchouli, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Petitgrain and Rosemary.

Patchouli

Patchouli is a thick, heavy oil with a strong scent. It’s not a smell that I use on its own but as part of a mix that I tend to vaporise at home. It adds a certain depth to the scent, and I like the accents it provides. I sometimes use it in a bath with Rose and Ylang Ylang or Lavender depending on how I’m feeling.

Clary Sage

One that I use with women in labour as it is thought to be an excellent uterine toner. Not everyone likes the smell, but it has such useful properties that it’s worth using in some circumstances. Not to be used during pregnancy for the reasons above.

Frankincense

A great oil to use when meditating as it is thought to have spiritually uplifting properties. I use this in my oil burner in the morning when I’m meditating and writing my journal. I enjoy the smell, and it helps me to focus on my day ahead.

Petitgrain

One of my favourites, taken from the orange but doesn’t smell of orange at all. It’s quite a bitter scent, but I love using this to dot around the pages in my journals and on torn-up kitchen roll for my bag and purse.

Rosemary

I use Rosemary in the same way as I use Petitgrain, and the smell is great when combined with Petitgrain too. I have just been using these two oils on my travels when I placed both oils in my suitcase on some old facecloths. When I arrived at my destination and opened the case, the smell was exquisite.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my personal look at essential oils in these three articles. I find oils so versatile, and I like to share that with you so that you can use them in your daily life too.

Looking forward to catching up with you on Sunday when I will be talking about more comforting little friends I enjoy having around. Until then, have a great week!

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My Little Box of Comforting Things

Hi Everyone,

I’ve just read a book that encapsulates everything I am talking about today.  The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking describes a concept in Denmark, hard to translate into English, but the essence reflects a calming sense of cosiness and feeling good.

My post today looks at my top five comfort measures, my go-to box of tricks that get me through the day and night, things that mean something to me and bring me joy.

  1. Candles 

So where do I start? I picked up The Little Book of Hygge and found that the first chapter was written about candles. I thought to myself ‘I’m home!’. Candles represent a warming, comforting light that I can embrace in both summer and winter. I adore both my scented and unscented candles dotted around various areas throughout my home and ‘Bumble’ my clinic room.

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Little tealights in Moroccan tea light holders are my thing at the moment. I had an amazing time when we were in Spain as the theme is very North Africa so I could have spent a fortune (if I could carry them home). The way that the light diffuses through the tiny holes, providing little glimpses of colour around the room is aesthetically beautiful and wonderfully meditative.

My scented candles are a mix between St Eval  (I particularly love their Inspiritus range) and Espa (both energising and soothing are wonderfully calming) but I do pick up some candles when I’m in Hitchin in a little shop called Harvest Moon.

2. My blankets

Blankets on my sofa, my bed, on the walls of Bumble, you may have guessed how much I love them. I find that they create a wonderful feel to my environment. I have a pretty merino wool blanket for the reading chair in my living room which is from Bronte and in my favourite colour of duck egg blue. Those of you who have been to my home will know that it is a shrine to the colour duck egg blue and Bumble is a little shrine to purple. I could write reams on the meaning of colours but that’s another post for another day.

img_4190There are some wonderful blankets made with all kinds of materials so pick a blanket that resonates with you and cuddle up this autumn.

3. Essential Oils

Of course, I couldn’t write a post about comfort without including my old friends, my essential oils. For these purposes, I would use Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, Petitgrain, Lavender and Bergamot oils in various ways. I would add a couple of drops to my blanket (not the wool one though) or to my scarf. Maybe I would burn a combination of a couple of drops in a pretty burner beside my reading chair. Check out my previous posts on essential oils for some ideas.

i-love-essential-oils
4. Books

Books are my friend and provide me with a great deal of comfort. Although I have read most of the books on my various bookshelves scattered throughout the house, a few rogue copies are hanging around and I need to pick them up and start reading before I buy anymore!

I love my reading chair with standard lamp and candles for comfort on the coffee table beside me. It’s a perfect retreat where, in the winter, I spend my morning (before the children get up), write my journal and read a few chapters of my favourite book.  Bliss.

img_41915. Tea

I love tea! My kitchen worktop is covered with boxes of different types of tea – both loose and teabags. I start my day with a herbal tea of whatever takes my fancy at the time. I love Pukka and Heath and Heather  for the quality of the herbs and the variety. I  have a few boxes scattered around and  I love to choose according to how I’m feeling at the time.

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Writing this post made me realise that there are other things I love that bring me comfort so I will blog about this topic again in the future. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you with your favourite things. Maybe you could start with the senses and base your ideas around one of them

 

 

  • What do you enjoy looking at? Do you enjoy a lovely view? If so, where would you view be? Art? Photography? Tell me which paintings you enjoy?
  • What scents do you enjoy? The smell of coffee? freshly cut flowers? clean laundry off the washing line?
  • What feels comforting to the touch? A warm, cosy blanket? A silk scarf around your neck?
  • What foods do you enjoy? A hearty stew? A slice of coffee and walnut cake?
  • What’s on your playlist? Are you a classical fan? Or is jazz your thing? Let me know.

Until next time, have a peaceful day and I’ll catch up with you very soon.

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