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20 Types of Journals to Keep

Do you journal or keep a diary or datebook or planner? Are you a stationery-a-holic?

Got a selection of beautifully covered or bound notebooks and journals lying empty in your drawers or on shelves waiting to be used but you’re scared to use them in case you spoil them?

It’s time to get them out and put them to use – they are of no use to you sitting in a drawer waiting for the never coming use. They are crying out to be filled out and used. What is more gorgeous that a beautifully covered or bound notebook or journal that is well thumbed, well loved and near to bursting with wee bits of your life over flowing from the pages?

I adore the Travellers Notebook system; 3 or 4 (or sometime 6) notebooks held inside one cover by elastic bands (dreadful description but very practical method of utilising and storing various notebooks in one). I have one TN for my daily planner, which is a very loosely formed bullet journal but not and where I plan my days, weeks, months ahead, keep my goals (long and short term) and also has a notebook for taking any notes or reminders or anything that pops into my head when I am out and about. My 2nd TN is for my journal, my gratitude journal, menstrual tracker and personal/spiritual journey. The 3rd and final TN has my gardening planner, recipe book, and other things. I also have many other notebooks and hardback journals to accommodate my many other needs. It is a very rare day that I am not to be found with a pencil in my hand and a journal in the other! As I mentioned in another post recently, writing and journaling is a huge part of my self care practice.

Ok, so you’ve got the notebook but now what? What are you going to put in it? Here are 20 ideas for you to get you on your merry way:

Dear Diary

A private outpouring of thoughts, emotions, situations experienced during the course of the day.

Morning Pages

The term Morning Pages was created by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. It involves writing down a constant stream of consciousness for 3 pages of A4. It may be nonsense that comes out, or lines of repeated “I can’t think of anything to write” or points of sheer brilliance, but it serves as a brain dump of all the thoughts occupying your head space when you first wake. The morning pages are not for anyone else to read, they require no editing or grammar correction and may be discarded or destroyed after writing.

Common Place Book

A permanent record of the every day to keep for future generations. Important dates such as family births, deaths, marriages, starting school/ graduations etc, funny memories, major events, whether local or global with dates and times, favourite family recipes or traditions for birthdays or holidays, even the price of bread and milk on this date! Sort of like a written log time capsule.

Recipes

A handy way to reduce all the recipe books cluttering your shelves; tear out, photocopy or write out your favourite recipes and keep them in a specific notebook or binder, thus creating a recipe journal specific to you and your tastes. Also record any recipes you have created yourself or have been past down the family line.

Work book notes

If you have any books you are working through, such as self help or spiritual books or any manual/guide books with exercises for you to complete. Keep all your exercise answers in this note book.

Menstrual Tracker

Tracking your menstrual cycle each month from the day you bleed (day 1) until the start of the next cycle. Tracking the full month either as a written record per day or using a mandala to note small points of information and coloured pens to identify the phases of each cycle. Note things such as mood, amount of sleep, heaviness of flow, ovulation, cervical fluid, hormonal fluctuations, eating patterns, amount of water drunk per day, needs, wants, emotions, energy levels, underlying health conditions – any patterns appearing at certain times during the cycle, where your cycle is in relation to the lunar cycle, quality of meditation during the cycle, which astrological sign do you tend to bleed or ovulate in. There is scope for so much to track and explore each and every month and discover more about how your body ebbs and flows in relation to life.

Quotes & Notes

Hearing or seeing quotes that resonate with you either from TV or in a book or magazine or overheard in the supermarket queue. Write them down for future inspiration.

Bullet Journal

Your daily, weekly, monthly calendar in one. Where you can plan and organise every area of your life in minute detail and track your progress. This can be a simple as you like or a complex a process, also as plain and straight forward or as decorative too, depending on your preference.

Gratitude

Can be as simple as writing down at the end of the day 1 thing you are grateful for or starting your day with 10 things you are grateful for. It is helpful when having a bad day to look back over previous entries and lift your own spirits. Gratitude journals are a powerful tool for manifestations, and they teach you to be thankful and live in gratitude.

Ideas

A notebook to stick any random thoughts that pop into your head through the course of the day – be it for a creative project, something you need to pick up form the shop for your tea tonight, a recipe you’d like to try, a movie that was recommended that you would like to watch or a book to read, a new coffee shop that is opening up, a song you just heard by a band you’ve never heard of. ANYTHING you are likely to forget if you don’t write it down.

Moon Workings

If you follow the lunar cycle and work with the energies then a Moon Journal is key for recording your practice; new moon intentions, full moon releasing, any tarot spreads or meditation messages, record everything then check back and review it at the next phase – again you will establish patterns and is a great tool for following your own progress and journey as well as keeping you accountable.

Grimoire

Home for all your magical notes of all your learnings, whether you keep lists of correspondances, dates for Sabbats, crystal information, incantations, how to cast circles, create sigils, the phases of the moon, different deities- who they are and what they represent and more. It becomes your own reference book for your path.

A Book of Shadows/Book of Mirrors is similar to Grimoire but is for recording your actual magical working and spiritual practice – writing up what you did, how it worked or didn’t as the case may be, can also use for moon work and tarot readings if prefer not to use a separate book.

Tarot

Keeping a record of all readings, from daily pull of one card, to spreads for moon phases, Sabbats, birthdays, life crossroads queries etc. Keeping a record of readings allows for check back on accuracy and improving skill as well as identifying patterns (particularly if pulling a card each day).

Meditation

Recording any messages or images you receive during meditation – can be extremely useful to look back on and to review or if needing to remember what came up. Especially useful if get any surprises during meditation.

Art/sketch

If you prefer to doodle than scribble, keeping an art journal or sketch book to hand is a great way to get creative. Create a smash journal which is full of bits and pieces you have written, drawn, painted, bus tickets or cinema tickets collected when going about your day – everything and anything can go in a smash book – the only limitation is your imagination.

Reading

If you are anything like me and rarely read a book without a pencil in your hand to highlight or scribble notes in the side, then use a notebook to jot down anything that strikes a cord within you from that in which you are reading – this is applicable to fiction and non-fiction alike.

Keep a list of the books you want to read and the books you have read. Record whether you liked or disliked particular books and why.

Bucket lists

Personal bucket lists for the year, for the summer for a milestone birthday deadline. Keep a list of things you want to do and try, places you want to go and start ticking them off and adding more. Create for yourself or a family bucket list or both!

Trackers

Ooh, you can track anything!!! and everything!!! Go monthly, weekly, daily, annually – it’s entirely up to you. Ideas for trackers could be for fitness, health, wealth, reading, diet, social media use, menstruation, household chores, working towards a goal target, monitoring a health condition, a trial and error experiment, anything!!!

Dreams

Keep by your bed and wrote as soon as you wake up – especially if a dream wakes you up in the middle of the night. Often reams don’t make sense at the time and are largely forgotten within the first few minutes of waking, so jot down as much detail as you can . Again look for patterns to see if you can identify any messages from your subconscious.

Gardening

Plans for how you would like your garden to look, what you would like to grow, what kind of soil you have, what grows well, what doesn’t. Timescales for planting and harvesting if growing food, tasks to do by month /season for the garden. Inventory list at the end of autumn of what is needing for winter or for spring. Record the weather by week and how the plants respond – this is great once been using this form of journaling for a year or two or more so can check back over previous years and avoid costly mistakes. Keep seed packets and tape into journal thereby keeping all necessary info together.

Menu Planning

Keeping a menu planner (as well as the recipe book) ensures you are able to plan meals and food shopping ahead of time based on what you and your household enjoys, what is in the cupboards fridge/freezer currently and keeps on track with when last had certain foods so not having the same thing every week or just having pizza again because can’t think what to make for the tea.

Home Education Journey

A lot of people have suddenly found themselves home educating or home schooling (yes, they are different!) their kids due to Covid19 social distancing measures. Keeping a scrap book or a note book of what the children have been doing during their time out of school – not just the work the teachers have sent home or are doing over the internet but the life skills – fill with notes, photos and drawings of the fun things – lego builds, stories and books read or written, cakes baked, meals created, milestones achieved (learned how to work the washing machine and do own laundry for instance), games created, videos recorded and edited, watching and discussing current affairs from the news, and so much more, including notes and observations; when does your child seem more focussed and willing to learn, is it morning or afternoon? Are they hands on learners, visual learners, learn by rote, more willing after a walk around the block? Do you have more than one child and are their learning styles different? Can the older children help their younger siblings – playing at schools is a great way to facilitate learning alongside building forts, playing at shops, using real coins and building lego without the instruction manual, chilling out, relaxing, playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo with your child teaching YOU how to play (yes I have lived that last one in the past few days), record what learning you have done with or from you child – education is very much a 2-way street and lifelong.

I’m sure there are many more uses for notebooks and journals that are lying in wait for your pen. What are you going to use yours for?

With blessings

P.s. Turns out I can’t count… there are actually 22 different journals listed above…

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Journal Prompts

Do you keep a journal?

I have for years, since I was about 12 and received my first leather 5 year diary with a little clasp at the front. Some years I have been very detailed in my entries and others, well, to describe my written entries as “sparse” would be generous. Certainly in the past 5 years, daily journaling has been not only my ritual in self care but also my medicine.

Journaling is a very therapeutic exercise for me personally, where I find it easier to offload onto paper than out loud to another person. Once my thoughts are out, I can let them go. Once they are on the page I can begin to work through them like a puzzle to solve or an idea to develop and grow. It is an incredibly freeing and private way to collect myself.

But sometimes a block can come up and the ideas dry up or something happens that causes a phase of second guessing myself or challenges a previous view. In these times I have found journal prompts to be helpful for jump starting my thoughts and getting me thinking and creating again.

So, I am sharing some journal prompts that I have used recently and some that may help or assist you as we navigate these uncertain times, to ease any anxiety or think about the future.

Journal Prompts

  • How am I feeling, right now?
  • Where in my body am I feeling and holding my emotions?
  • What is one thing I can do today to ease any anxiety or tension?
  • What am I grateful for right now?
  • What 10 things am I grateful for today?
  • Where is the silver lining in my situation?
  • If I could live my ideal day tomorrow, what would that look like?
  • What are my non negotiable values?
  • Why are my values, my values – where did I learn and accept them as such?
  • How have I changed in the past 2 weeks?
  • What have I learned in the past month?
  • If I could change one thing in my life what would it be?
  • What single task could I tackle today that would effect that change (from above prompt)?
  • What habit would I most like to start and why?
  • Who or what am I most inspired by?
  • One thing I will never regret is … because …
  • What do I to forgive myself for?
  • What am I excited about?
  • What am I looking forward to most once this period of Social Distancing is over?
  • What am I learning about myself in this period of Social Distancing?
  • If I could imagine a different world, what would it look like?
  • What one thing could I do it make or be the change I would like to see in the new world?

Let me know if you have found these useful or if you want to share your own prompts in the comments below.

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Social Connection from Afar

Social Distancing – the catchphrase of the past week, especially over the past weekend! A seemingly straight forward construct but incredibly difficult to enforce and adhere to. Staying away from family members and friends, missing out on social gatherings such as birthday parties and Mother’s Day, schools and colleges closed indefinitely with looked-forwards-to graduations no longer taking place, holidays been cancelled and pubs, cinemas, restaurants also closing their doors. Small businesses closing down, sporting events cancelled and any gatherings where we can’t be more than 2m away from the next person are no a no-go situation.

For the introvert in me, this is not a chore but a unique period of time where I can indulge my need for solitude without the guilt. BUT for many people this enforced isolation is not a happy place to be and can have a real detrimental affect on their mental health and general well being. And what about members of our communities who are already living at a distance from others, such as elderly or vulnerable people?

From the powers of the interwebs, I have noticed a number of people are already bored (!) having to find stuff to do at home. Being content in our own homes is not an easy ask for all. So, I have some ideas to help ease the boredom and help us to stay connected despite the distance.

Telephone

  • Who remembers being in school all day but still spending 2 hours on the phone in the evening chatting to friends? Not texting or face-timing but proper lengthy telephone conversations. Go old school and get on the phone, lying sprawled out on the floor, 1990’s stylee if you want, but this time the calls are free from our mobile rather and we won’t get shouted at from mum to get off the phone and running up the bill!
  • If just chatting is too “last century, darling” then get connected with WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime and stay intouch that way – the key thing is keeping in contact with those you don’t live with. Make technology work for you.
  • If your older family members can use their smart phone, ask the grandparents to read your kids their bed time story using facetime or even just reading it down the phone.

Letters/Writing

  • Go proper old old school and write letters – 2 fold, eases boredom and keep you connected! Plus, how lovely is it to receive a letter that isn’t a bill!? I used to have loads of penpals as a teenager and loved it. Encourage your kids to write to their grandparents, or make cards and send them. Even make your own envelopes and decorate them too. Explore your creativity and then share it with someone you love and make their day.
  • If your kids are bored, create secret code and leave messages for each other round the house on Post-its.

Old fashioned but fun

  • If your kid’s pals are in reach (ie in the same street) use walkie talkies to chat or Morse Code by torch light from their windows. (I might be getting all Famous Five on myself here!!)
  • If and when you are out – travelling to work or collecting essential food items/medicine, you don’t have to ignore people, a smile or a nod is far reaching, a small acknowledgement of the other person in a respectful non-virus spreading way

Internet

  • If Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp are your choice of communicaion, set up group chats / video and have a bookclub, a virtual come dine with me (you can work out the logistics yourself on that one), an at home pub quiz, pick a season on Netflix or Prime and discuss the episodes together each week ie Outlander (not diggin series 5, sorry folks…), if you play an instrument, set up a group with other musicians and create a jammin session or orchestra.

At home

  • In some homes, the people who live there are not always communicating and connecting, with different people having different routines and timescales; (re)introduce family dinning, and set the table, eat and chat together, get to know each other again.
  • Perhaps do a puzzle together – you never truly know someone until you try to do a jigsaw with them! If a puzzle is going to get you thrown in jail, maybe a board game or cards or dominoes is more family friendly.
  • Connect with your younger self and get out your old cds or LPs and listen to them start to finish and enjoy them. Look at, read and appreciate the artwork on the sleeves and remember what it was like before we could stream all the music all the time.

What I’m suggesting is only the start – there are endless ways of staying in touch and amused during the crises we face. And on the matter of boredom, if your kids are bored, GOOD!! Boredom is the best place to spark creativity – let the kids be bored because only they can get “unbored” by themselves; it’s a life skill lost to many adults and young people alike in this modern instant gratification world.

Stay well, stay healthy and stay in touch with each other.

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Morning Ritual

Do you have a morning routine? A ritual, a practice, a rhythm? A way to set yourself up for the day ahead?

Or are you more of a fly by the seat of your breeks kinda gal?

Morning routines are very trendy right now, YouTube has millions of videos demonstrating such (I would possibly record one too but that level of videoing, faffing and editing goes way beyond my capabilities!).

Perhaps you have a pattern you flow through daily but never thought to call it a “morning routine” because it’s just life and has no need for a label.

Personally, I do have a morning ritual, and it is sacred (and is so, because I said so). I need this time because it gives me time to think, to prepare myself mentally for the day ahead and just give me space before the chaos that is my life commences. I am very much a morning person but absolutely NOT a morning people person. We live in a multi generational household with a distinct lack of inner monologues and filters, that the need for my ritual is a very deliberate act of self care.

Why do I refer to my morning tasks as a ritual rather than routine? Because it is a conscious and deliberate practice. It is carried out with intention and focus. I sometimes mix it up depending on how I’m feeling or whether my husband is at home or still at work (he works nights shift). It is not done out of duty or on auto pilot or without careful consideration. I am not wish washy or half arsed. Having a shower then brushing my teeth and getting dressed is routine. Prepping the coffee machine and organising my vitamins is routine. Getting down to the actuals of what forms my daily practice is ritual. This time is personal, private and unapologetically mine.

So what does it look like?

My routine begins the evening before, prepping the coffee machine to come on 5 mins before my alarm is due to go off means that I won’t hit the snooze button – I can’t/won’t waste coffee plus it smells glorious. I also take a flask of warm water upstairs to my room with a glass and my vitamins for the morning. (This is routine, over ritual. I’m not the person who finds peace, calm and gratitude in doing the menial and mundane.)

Before bed I check my planner for tomorrow’s To-Do List, add to or make changes to it as necessary, and review my oracle pull from the morning.

When the alarm goes off (more often than not I’m awake before it rings), I light the candle beside my bed, fill my glass with the water from the flask and pop in the soluble vitamin. While its fizzing I’ll go and pour my coffee and head back to bed. From there I have my Travellers Notebook housing different journals, the first being my menstrual tracker (in here I note where I am in my cycle, my sleep, feelings, and any other pertinent information) next is my morning pages journal ( free flow stream of consciousness writing – a brain dump for everything in my head, from the drivel to the inspired and general day to day goings-ins in between; everything goes in here and nothing is censored.) From there I will draw my daily tarot card and note it, an oracle card and note it, meditate and more recently started incorporating EFT (tapping). Once all this is done, my coffee is done and so too the vitamins. All in, takes about and hour to an hour and a half.

Next up I would love to say is yoga or stretching, but no, it is breakfast. My breakfast doesn’t differ, it’s always porridge, topped with fruit, seeds, nuts and berries, a fully loaded bowl, practically a meal! The yoga is one of those things I would love to incorporate into my morning, but in all honesty, it’s not going to happen, despite having saved (more than I care to admit) videos on YouTube of Yoga with Adriene. I’ve watched the videos just not physically followed along… During breakfast, I light a candle and sit and enjoy the peace and stillness of each nourishing spoonful. I turn on my laptop and usually watch Youtube. Today, I took to the couch, porridge bowl in hand and devoured the first episode of Series 5 of Outlander. Droughtlander be gone!!! This is still ritual rather than routine as I don’t watch any random videos, but choose specific ones and relevant to my ongoing learning and growth.

Then the morning routine kicks in: breakfast dishes cleared, first load (or only load) of washing in the machine and the airer striped of yesterdays clean clothes and put away, shower and I’m ready to face the family.

As you can see, my pattern is part ritual part routine and together they form the rhythm of my morning. This is how the vast majority of my mornings go, but sometimes I have to adapt and sometimes I miss out everything altogether, but when I do, I feel a bit discombobulated and on a back foot for the whole day. I miss the clarity and the breathing space on my own. As an introvert (yes an introvert, I’m a gobby introvert!) I need this to recharge, to be able to give the best of me to me, my family, to their needs and to live this life the best I can.

Maybe a morning routine/ritual doesn’t work with your current situation and the evening is more appropriate (especially if got young children), or perhaps life is generally busy with balancing 2 jobs, or work and college or caring for elderly relations, or in poor health yourself, physically or mentally. We all have different circumstance and responsibilities that dictate what time we have to take to give to ourselves. But I will say, please try to carve out a space in your schedule that is just for you to do what you need to do to get some head space and clarity for what you want and how you can achieve it. I know you have goals and dreams, and you deserve to make them your reality, no matter how small or grand they may be.

All life is a cycle of phases, moving from one to next to the next. Mornings suit me perfectly just now, and I cant see that changing in the near future, but if and when the time comes that mornings don’t work, my ritual will evolve to accommodate the new circumstance. Also the content of my ritual time has changed and evolved over time, adjusting to what it is I need and and want from it. I have been making my ritual practice such a priority in my life for so long now that to let it go would be detrimental to my mental health and well being.

The solitude and me-time is compulsory and non-negotiable. It is self care, practice and sacred. . . and very much a ritual.

Do you have daily ritual(s)?

Lx

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Dear Winter

Every year I look forward to your dark embrace.

Your stark, barren chill brings a wild clarity where the shadow is invited into the light, hearth side.

As I await the Cailleach’s freshly laundered cloak of white to spread out across these lands, I quietly settle into slowing down and coorying in, into your season.

While I eagerly anticipate you annual arrival, I am well aware of the sense of dread your appearance brings to others. Those without shelter, food, comfort, their health or the love of kith or kin. You make their very existence a challenge for survival.

In contrast to the poverty lived by many, the polar opposite also bears witness to showcase wealth, abundance and for some, greed; much of which will lead to the aforementioned poverty in the spirit of keeping up appearances.

There is no hiding in your season, where everything is raw and exposed; branches bare and wind unforgiving. You are relentless in your pursuit of truth, forcing the pause of hibernation to turn inwards to seek our heart’s desire or assess our current situaion, for good or othewise; mentally and physically clearing the path of the old to make way for the new growth.

I crave the simplicity of life that you so beautifully demonstrate in the earth around me. Peaceful, resting, hibernating, going deep to renew once again in Spring. To appreciate what has gone before and to prepare for what is to come with a healthy dose of self care and preservation, feeding my body simple but nourishing foods and loving those around me hard.

Thank you for this time of quiet and slow reflection.

With love, blessings and gratitude

Lissa

xx

(Inspired to write this by Carrie-Anne Moss, of Annapurnaliving.com and her book Fierce Grace)

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Old Ways in the New Age

I was born in the new age. But I have definitely been born with an old soul and a knowing of the old ways. As result I am a bit of a mash up of both the old and new, both spiritually and now come to think about it, literally too (like every one my age, we enjoyed the bliss of the analogue childhood and adolescence with the convenience and connectivity of the digital adulthood).

But what were the old ways? What does “New Age” mean?

When I think of the Old Ways, I think of the pre-christian times, in the matriarchal goddess worshiping times. Nature ruled. A simple time in terms of what was required to be done, how people went about their lives, meeting their needs individually and collectively for the family/community. A small yet hard life, living off the land and at the mercy of the elements and their understanding/observations of the natural world for which they were a part of. Honouring the changing seasons by observing the seasons rather than by a fixed calendar. Honouring revered deities or the Mother Goddess with love rather than fear. The village mentality and way of life, living in sync with the cycles of nature speaks to me of the old ways. The people were of their land. This is merely my interpretation, yours may be completely different.

Contrast this with the New Age and my inner feeling changes from slow, steady and at peace, to a buzz of energy and a feeling of “whoosh”, psychedelic madness and woowoo. What comes immediately to my mind upon hearing New Age is a plethora of images and labels : new-age-hippie-dippy-claptrap, crystals, The West, burning sage bundles, cultural appropriation, ancestry – e.g. 1% Viking/Native American/Irish Celt! The universe, energy, chakras, Cacoa Ceremony, Bali, retreats, coconut oil, essential oil, meditation, yoga, homeopathy, love’n’light, spiritual bypass, the moon, light workers, peace man, tarot cards, a goddess for everything from all parts of the globe, free spirit, earthing, grounding, vegetarian/vegan, the list goes on, feel free to insert your own interpretations . Some of it makes me uncomfortable, some of it is given a cursory eye-roll and other bits I really connect with and practice.

So why do I think I have an old soul and a knowing of the old ways? And how do I marry that remembering with the new fangled New Age?

I feel a very real connection to history, domestic history of the island inwhich I live. For instance, I have an unexplained physical reaction to the city of Edinburgh when I am there. I have never lived there but when I used to work in Wales, my train home would have me arrive at Haymarket Station, Edinburgh, to then get my connection for the last 30 miles home. Standing in Haymarket, breathing in the smell of hops on a cold Autumnal evening, I always felt “I’m home” plus, any night out in Edinburgh over the years always felt like home – I feel safe in this city yet never have the same feelings or notions in Glasgow or any other city I’ve visited. I have always been fascinated with herbs and herbal healing (not really done anything with this fascination but its always been there), my curiosity around the moon, the changing seasons, and witchcraft. Once I started tracing my family tree ( went back to my 4th Great Grandmother in my Mother’s line) much of what I discovered about my family makes so much sense to the person I am and the interests I have long held. Much of the reading, research and practice I have been actively seeking and learning from over the years felt more like “YES” moments and an awakening of things I already knew, deep down, coupled with an insatiable thirst for more knowledge. And yes, I know how crazy and loopy that sounds. That’ll be why I have never shared that before!

Combining these base feelings and knowings/rememberings with the modern world has been for the most part fairly straight forward with a few stumbles along the way. I have real issues around cultural appropriation and people claiming indigenous ritual or ceremony for their own when they have no connection to that culture, save for an ancestry test that identified 1% popular ethnicity – I truly believe that our own cultures where we live/ have grown etc are rich in their own history, traditions, folklore and language that cherry picking the cool bits from another’s is not OK. Here’s the sore point, I have been using Native American tarot cards (which are beautiful in their design) for the past 23 years, yet I have no connection to that culture at all other than studying it in my 6th yer of high school and finding their history appalling and their culture fascinating. In using these cards, is that appropriation or appreciation? I don’t know! ( I have however, bought a new deck, the Green Witch cards which are also beautiful but are more connected to my Pagan path and personal journey).

I’m nosy and am curious as to how other people merge the two ways, if indeed they do – it certainly isn’t necessary or a requirement. People who follow their version of a New Age spiritual practice or path may only be familiar with modern day practices or not feel the need to look back to go forward. Similarly some people may shudder at all things New Age and prefer to keep the fires of the Old Ways burning. Tell me – I’d love to know!

I have found that getting outside as often as possible to walk the local woods or to sit in my garden, letting my bare feet touch the earth or grass has been the most simple and effective way to connect. My calendar follows the lunar cycle, I follow the seasons of the environment and my own cycle. I am of this land, of this place, in the modern “new age” whilst reconnecting to, remembering and honouring the old ways. The best of both? I think so, but as with all things learning , growing and evolving, nothing is certain, including my opinion.

L xx

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I’m Back!

Francesca M. Healy

Stick the kettle on, I’m back!

From where? The internet, or rather specifically, Social Media ~ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (yes I know Pinterest is technically a search engine rather than a social media platform, but shhh).

Why? I needed a break.

We all know that taking a Social Media holiday is good for us, especially if we use numerous platforms on a regular basis. But do we need to take a break from the screens or the content of our screens? Are we addicted to Facebook or just our phones?

I pondered this question as I was feeling frustrated and anxious and numb and bored and happy and joyful and tired all at the same time, every time I picked up my phone and began the habitual scrolling. My notifications have all been turned off since January, my phone is always on silent, it doesn’t even vibrate, yet still I had the compulsion to “check” it. I didn’t even have the apps installed, instead had to go through my browser to partake in the aforementioned “checking”. It had become mentally exhausting and somewhat toxic when dealing with some people and their rudeness. The time lost to that scrolling is just that; lost. For ever! What a complete waste of time and energy. And for what, really, at the end of the day?

It was time for an intervention. I would have said experiment, but in lieu of a hypothesis I’m going with intervention, a self imposed one. One month, no Social Media. Could I resist the temptation of a sneak peak? Would I last a whole month? What benefits were there to this? Was I completely shooting myself in the foot and be about to lose all my followers and customers? Would I feel completely out of the loop with friends and was I about to miss out on important stuff? What was I trying to prove and to whom? (nothing to no-one) How much time was I actually wasting and what could I do with it instead? What would I do at the end of the month? ( spoiler : no idea, hadn’t really thought that far ).

Starting at the New Moon in March, I went cold turkey. One full lunar cycle was my time frame, returning yesterday, at the following New Moon.

I did it! So, what did I learn? How do I feel? Was it worth it??? So many questions competing for answers inside my head.

I knew from having Social Media breaks in the past that I would be more productive in the use of my time, but what else would it teach me?

The 9 things I learned during my Social Media fast.

1.  I have to say I did not miss Facebook. I would go as far as to say that I could quite easily lose it and never log back in again, and this is without taking the Cambridge Analytica horror into account.  However, much of the organising and arranging of my 8 yo’s home ed meets, support and community takes place on Facebook, so coming away altogether is not practical. I certainly did not miss the “debates” and generally arsery of some of the people I am “friends” with. On the flip side, I missed a couple of pregnancy announcements were lovely to read (once I saw them after scrolling through a whole lot of tosh that littered my feed) and a few updates that I definitely want to know about. So, decision made. I have now unliked the vast majority of the pages I follow and left numerous groups that I constantly ignore in my scroll and never interact with and have unfollowed most of the people I am friends with (no offence). The latter one may seem a little harsh but I am making a conscious effort to use time better and not get lost in the virtual vortex that doesn’t really serve any purpose.  Which then leads to me tho think, as I am typing this, why unfollow and not unfriend? Because I don’t want to be mean. There you go!

I have a Facebook page for Wild Sister Rising as well as 2 groups (one private circle group and one public shop group) which took up a lot of my time. Moving back into these spaces I have decided that I will use the page to post only my own stuff and for the groups, I am as yet uncertain.

2. Nor Twitter, I had 2 accounts. One that I had since 2012 and one I started when I started this blog. I deleted the old account and kept the WSR account. Having read through my feed and clicked into specific accounts of some people I follow, I found out a cyber friend had had a bereavement and I felt awful, but the rest of Twitter was still the ranty, anxiety inducing echo chamber it always was. I’ll keep it until after the Eurovision Song Contest and then reassess its need to me (and probably delete). I have to stay until 12th May as 4 of us watch Eurovison in our respective homes across the country, and discuss it on twitter over drinks, cheesecake and other various nibbles – it’s hilarious and in the the style of the late Terry Wogan, our commentary usually gets more caustic and witty as the booze cabinet is worked through.

3. I did initially miss instagram as I enjoy the app. But, since I stopped using it, I haven’t taken a single insta-worthy photo. In fact I don’t think I have taken any photos other than one of (A) on his birthday! Everywhere we have been, everything we have done has been completely enjoyed and experienced as it was, in the moment and was fully present rather than thinking about taking a picture to share.  And I am totally ok with that. I clicked into a couple of friends’ accounts and went through their pictures, to get back up to date (Hi Eilidh! She has the best hashtags in the instaverse) but have yet to post anything myself yet as have not had any inclination to take a picture or video. I think there will be a distinct reduction in the number of posts I share here from now on.

4. Pinterest failed me – or rather I failed in staying away… I nipped back on to send my tattoo board to the artist who is preparing/drawing up my new tattoo (a wee birthday present to myself). I only went on to send her my board, but then started looking for more ideas and inspiration and fell down the rabbit hole. It was a productive use of my time, even if I did stray off course and start searching for other things too… To be honest Pinterest is my favourite of the 4 so I don’t feel in the least bit bad about falling off the wagon.

5. I was free to use my time for things that actually served me and made my life richer. A couple of the activities that replaced my phone addiction were reading and yoga. I finished several books, including one which I heartily recommend, Burning Woman by Lucy H Pearce. In the absence of a kundalini yoga class in my area, found a great teacher on YouTube and have begun a daily practice. I’m now working through a 40 day Sadhana and loving it, even though I am ridiculously stecky!

6. The source of my headaches has been found! I have been suffering awful and regular headaches. My shoulders were stiff, my neck was stiff and my jaw was becoming increasingly tight. I knew myself when I was mindlessly scrolling through my phone and read something that angered me or pissed me off, or low and behold, if someone should interrupt me during this very important task, I could feel the instant tension and the audible inhale alerted me that I was in pretty bad shape. Off to get it sorted. I didn’t need a relaxing aromatherapy back massage I need deep tissue manipulation and so made an appointment with a sports therapy centre. After 2 sessions,  a lot of discomfort, and a thorough workout on my poor muscles (including having my jaw muscles worked on from inside my mouth – unusual but with phenomenal results) my headaches are gone and I have movement in my neck and shoulders where the tension previously held them captive. The woman who worked on me was shocked at how “solid” my back muscles were – oops! A month of not having my head tilted at a downward angle and not filling my head with the angst and rants of the interwebs has helped enormously. Plus I am not as easy to piss off or annoy, there is a notable reduction in my anxiety and irritability.

7. Proper conversations.  Having not being involved in or aware of news and conversations happening online, when I met with friends I was finding out information for the first time and face to face. I was back to having conversations. And not ones that start with “Did you see … on Facebook?” This pleases me immensely.

8. Opportunity to review Values, Desires and Needs.  I crave simplicity, connection and solitude/space. Writing is important to me as is continually learning about and exploring my passions, deep connections with friends – in person, trying new things, such as ecstatic dance and kundalini yoga, spending time alone to recharge and get clarity has been vital.

9. FOMO isn’t real. The world still spins, politics continue, events happen, we show up or we don’t. If I want to know something I can deliberately go and find out about it, ask someone about it. If I see a headline on the front page of the newspaper I am perfectly able to go and research the truth of it myself rather than take the paper at face value – I don’t need to know everything that is happening at every second of the day.

If you are someone who can take or leave your phone or Social Media, then this post probably doesn’t resonate, but I am not one of those people.  I am now making deliberate choices, becoming far more discerning about how, when and why I am opening one of these apps to engage in whatever is presented from the blue glare.  Social Media is not going anywhere and we live in a digital world where technology is king, but that doesn’t mean that it has to take over our lives, or dictate what we see, read, are exposed to, based on algorythms.

In answer to my question “Was it worth it?”, I have to conclude that YES, my month long abstention was absolutely worth it.

I’d love to know how other people live with and manage their phone addictions and constant Social Media bombardment – do you ever feel the need to take a break but scared to? Or are you one of those folk who doesn’t have any issues and can pop onto facebook purely in the interest of friendship? Please feel free to leave a comment to share your experience.

Lx

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The Betwixt After Christmas

Wild Sister Rising (21)

And all through the house,

No-one was working

Except for my spouse.

 

And we are done!!! Christmas had been and gone. All the effort and planning and preparation and baking and making and shopping; sayonara. Adios. Cheerio. Mission accomplished. Only 307 days until I start planning the next one.

I am belly full and steeped in Baileys. The floors are covered in glitter from that bloody wrapping paper from Tesco that will probably still be there in 3 Christmases time. Call The Midwife Christmas episode has been watched and bawled over (this year’s was a particular doozy and had me in floods of tears) and today was the day I spent in my pj’s eating a random assortment of left overs, reading my new books and magazines, drinking tea and dreaming about taking all the decorations down.

Sadly my Husband missed this luxuriously slothful day as he works in retail and is back at work. His employers don’t do family time, just bottom line.

I don’t feel guilty for my day where I barely removed my arse from the couch (other than to replenish an empty tea cup) as this past month and a half have been a tad busy. According to the slew of memes and essays/articles, the prep for Christmas is essentially “women’s work”. The men folk wouldn’t have a clue how to put together a perfect and magical festive, apparently. Really? Nah, not buying it. For years, Hubby and I did Christmas pretty equally, apart from pressies and cards, he excels in the thoughtful gift department. It’s only in the past couple of years that it has fallen to me to “arrange” Christmas. All of it. But I’m not complaining, I LOVE it. It is easier for us to work it like this as Hubby’s shifts are anti-social and completely impractical for making good on much of the prep. However, once Boxing Day is here, I’m done. Over it until next year.

I wasn’t as organised this year as I usually am, but you know what? It all came together anyway. No stress, no pressure to make it “magical” or “perfect”. I tried one year to make it all magical and memorable for (A) when he was little, and it wasn’t magical, I was stressed to fuck as was he! And he hardly remembers it!!! Now we just do a couple of things we enjoy, keep it pretty low key, and focus on good food and spending time with those we want to. It becomes memorable when you do what you enjoy and if there’s no stress then its fun and therefore magical in itself without the manufactured fake nonsense and social media pressure. What more do we need?

Truth be told, I’d happily forgo Christmas and all its fuss and mania and just have Yule; the calm, relaxed, simple celebration a few days previous.  We celebrate both in our home – Yule for me and Christmas for the traditions of our families, which we have each grown up with and have brought to our wee family too.  I can just see the horror upon the face of my folks if I said we weren’t doing Crimbo. And on my husband’s and (A)’s too, come to think of it! Although neither of us or our families are religious, Christmas is a big deal!

But now, that’s all in the past. Having been glued to Christmas24 movie channel on Virgin Media since November, I can’t watch anymore of the Hallmark, made-for- TV Christmas movies. We are now in the betwixt. That limbo of not knowing what day it is, the lull between the indulgence of Christmas and the excitement of New Year.

Most people will return to work for the few days inbetween. These people probably don’t get to experience the full extent of the betwixt as I am guessing they will at least have a handle on what day it is. But if you are lucky enough not to be punching your card, enjoy this down time. Perfect, almost medicinal, for the introverted to have this time; to recharge, to chill out, to contemplate the year ending and plan the coming one, or if you’re like me – take down your decorations and tree! I like to bring the New Year in, into a clean house. I cherish the almost solitude that these few days provide. They are necessary.

We won’t be venturing far (other than to my sister’s a day), we will get outside though, to brace the cold cleansing winds, to clear the mind and banish the cabin fever that is starting to build. My 7yo will run and play and explore and have fun.  I just take in the stark beauty of winter and the delight of the kettle when we return home. The gentle pace of the week is welcome as I start to prepare both the house and myself  for 2018 (and ensure we get our steak pie in for New Year’s dinner).

Cordelia
The Goddess Oracle card I pulled this evening. Truth if ever there was.

I hope you have had a great festive period, however or if,  you celebrate, and enjoy the coming days before we bid farewell to 2017.

Lx

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Peace & Love To Ourselves

Self-care. There’s that word that keeps popping up everywhere, like 2017’s “hygge“.  But like hygge, it’s more than just a buzz word.  Self-care is not self-ish or self-indulgent, it is self respect, self preservation and a huge part of self love.

This particular post has been in progress for a wee while now in various guises and themes, but each version consistently pointed to the same key message :

self1

It is vital for our own health & well-being as well as for that of those who depend upon us too. Remember the inflight instructions to ensure you put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else? This nugget of advice applies to many areas of our lives, not just when we are heading off on holiday.

While I am perfectly sure that we are all aware of how important it is to look after ourselves, I wonder how many of us actually take heed.  There are numerous obstacles to taking the necessary care of ourselves other than the basics.  Obstacles such as

  • guilt – I suffer from this – and it’s guilt placed on our shoulder from ourselves not from our children/partners/ careers (well, maybe your career, depending upon your boss…),
  • other people’s opinions, our own opinions and inner critics,
  • lack of time,
  • lack of finances,
  • prioritising other “things” over self-care in deliberate self sabotage for any of the aforementioned obstacles,
  • prioritising the care of others over ourselves, particularly children/partners/ other dependents/ employers,
  • the feeling of “I can do it all”/”I’m managing fine” as proof of no need to pander to indulgences,
  • not believing we are worthy of what we perceive self-care to be,
  • exhaustion
  • the social media vortex

We need to address these barriers and obstacles, because if we don’t how can we properly look after ourselves and meet all of our needs?. If we are meeting everyone else’s needs while sacrificing our own, what good is that to anyone? None, that’s what!

Over the past few months that I have been concentrating on and researching self-care for me, I noticed reoccurring patterns and themes, which I have categorised into 4 areas, which are separate yet all overlap with one another :

self3

and will blog on each on individually (or else you will be here all day reading!) looking at what they mean and how we can incorporate them into our everyday lives and over come those pesky barriers that stop us from living our best life in optimum condition.

In the mean time, while we are all peace and love and (((hugs))) for our friends and family, how about we extend those feelings and words of wisdom to ourselves. We’re worth it.

Lx

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Meditation – How do you practice?

Meditation. Chanting “Ommm” whilst sitting legs crossed in lotus pose, thumbs and middle fingers touching, eyes closed. That’s meditation, right? Remaining in that position for half an hour or multiple hours, with an empty mind seeking inner peace.

Well, no, that’s not how my practice goes. Not at all infact.  I use several different methods when meditating, depending upon the circumstances and where I am. For instance, if I need to calm down, take a time out or collect myself in a stressful situation, I focus on my breathing. This can be done anywhere at any time! No need for candles or incense to do this, the car or a public loo if needed are perfectly suitable. All I do is take a deep breath in through my nose, counting slowly as I do so. Hold the breath for the same amount of time plus 1 second, then slowly exhale the breath for the same length of time as inhale plus 2 seconds. It doesn’t matter (to me) if I exhale through my nose or my mouth. This slows my heart rate and allows for clearer, calmer thinking and a better mood for continuing with my day or situation.  This always works when I practice it, I just need to remember to practice it more…

Another method I use, if I need a more specific focus or advice, is a much more recognisable as a form of “meditation” as it does involve sitting down in a comfortable position (I have yet to try the lotus pose, I prefer a comfy chair if I am honest) and sometime I do burn candles or incense, but I absolutely need time and peace and quiet on my own, which is rare giving that I am a home-educating Mama. In this practice I have a place, a home, I go to in my mind and can seek assistance or guidance from my circle of inspirational advisors, which is essentially a group of women (real and fictitious) who chip in with their tuppence worth during these sessions.  Over the years my circle has changed with various members of my imaginary tribe being replaced, or their numbers increased as I have evolved. I started out with 6 women on my team which has grown to 12, with me being the 13th.  The only constant has been that my advisory squad has been made solely of women.

So who has a place in my circle?  In alphabetical order I have Brene Brown, Caitlin Moran,  Dharma Montgomery, Eilidh (my friend), Fearne Cotton, Glennie Kindred, Gloria Steinem, Lisa Lister, Maggie Chapman, Maya AngelouMinerva McGonagall and Sharon (my friend). A nice blend of mothers, wise women and crones. Previously I had shared this space with other friends as well as the Aunts, Jet and Francis, from Practical Magic, Anita Roddick, Anais Nin, Nicola Sturgeon, Hillary Clinton, Dolly Parton, Susan Sarandon, Geri Halliwell, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna amongst others.

The other place I find it very easy to meditate, believe it or not, is in the shower! The motion of washing my hair is a no brainer requiring zero effort, which leaves plenty mind space to gather and process my thoughts and gain clarity. I often have my best ideas and moments of inspiration as I lather and rinse!

For anyone who has never meditated before, it can seem a bit woo-hoo or a little daunting, with the unsure feeling of where to start or even knowing what the point of meditation is, if not for finding inner peace.  There are lots of books on how to meditate and why, plus Youtube has a variety of videos to watch or listen to as a guided meditative practice. I would recommend even just starting with the breathing exercise I use.  If you want to sit in lotus, or create a dedicated sacred space at home for your practice, do it. If you want to light candles or incense, do it. Or don’t. There are no rules here, and the practice is entirely yours. It is worth noting though, that it is nigh on impossible to completely clear your mind, it will wander off in all directions, especially if you have a busy life with work or kids (or both), but as soon as you notice it going off on its own tangent, bring it back by refocussing on that breath.  It takes practice.

I keep referring to meditation as a practice because practice is what it takes.  Practice to get comfortable with what you are doing, with what you want to achieve and practice to make it a regular part of your routine.  I have been “practicing” for the past 15 years but have yet to establish a proper and regular habit. It’s very much ad hoc and fitting it in when I either remember or feel the need.

meditation2

Back in 2002 I attended a 2-day motivational event called Mindstore, by a bloke called Jack Black, and it was brilliant. My employer at the time was really into personal development and self empowerment and transferring that energy into the work place (recruitment consultancy) so sent myself and 2 colleague to the Mindstore programme.  During the event, Jack guided the packed auditorium, which must have held about 500 delegates, through a meditation.  This was the first time I had ever meditated, infact, I didn’t realise at the time that that was what we were doing.  It felt like 10 minutes had passed, no more than that, but it had actually been 30 minutes.  As it happens I still use that guided journey today (incorporating my advisory soul circle) . The general story is similar but I have changed details here and there over the years. It is as effective now as it was then.

Meditation has also helped (A) with calming down, expressing his anger in healthier ways or even to relax into sleep.. I find that guiding him with focussing on his breathing or visualising colours has been the most beneficial and effective way to meet his needs. It’s short and simple for little minds with big imaginations.

When I was coming to the end of my maternity leave around 6.5 years ago I started a distance learning course on meditation. I complete all but the last 2 modules as returning to work full time and having a toddler proved enough for me to take on at the time.  I wish I had finished the course as it was really interesting and I picked up plenty tips and ideas for both my own personal practice and for guiding others. It is on my ‘to-do’ list to complete it one day, but I figure after 6 years I will probably have to do the whole course over again…

Since 2002, I have never participated in a group session, but a woman local to me runs guided women’s meditation workshops in 6 weekly blocks. At this stage in my own journey and with my own practice being so sporadic and inconsistent, I am contemplating signing up for a space – 6 weeks of dedicated practice, who knows where that could lead or open up?

Do you medidate? I would love to hear how other people practice and fit it into busy lives.

Namaste

Lx

#wildsisterrising