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Mini Musings #3

Self care


How are you looking after yourself during this period of social isolation/distancing?
What practices do you have in place to make sure that you are in the best health to deal with the challenges life is throwing at us?
Me: holding space for myself, focussing on my spiritual practice, meditation and getting a walk through the woods. Basically listening to what it is I need and am feeling. Yep this is how I self care in normal circumstances, alongside journaling the fuck out of life itself.

What it looks like just now for this introvert has been 3 weeks of guilt free social bugger all. Granted the first week I was down with suspected C19, but for the past 2 weeks it has meant that I haven’t needed to be anywhere other than home and that is where I should be! Taking care of me, my family, the world!

In all seriousness, I have even enacted social distancing from social media. This has been necessary for me, my emotional health and my monkey brain. Friends have been checking in via text message or telephone call, which is lovely, we can have a good old blether followed by hanging up or setting phone down without the automatic IG or FB scroll. The constant social noise was simply too much so all socials, including email, were deleted off my phone on Sunday with the plan to be off line for a week, but in truth I may extend it past the weekend. The absolute lack of social interaction has been the biggest gift of self care I have given myself. Now, for someone who practically lives on the internet, you would think that that would/should be causing untold levels of anxiety but it has actually been the exact opposite.

What am I doing with all the internet free time? Mainly reading! Going through my bookshelves and kindle and finishing the half read books; planning out my garden and sowing seeds both in pots and in the fertile soil of my imagination of what the garden will look like once in full bloom and fruit; still meditating and journaling because those are my selfcare practice/ritual/non-negotionables. My timescales have changed, no longer am I setting my alarm to get up at stupid o’clock to get my “me-time”, I now get up when I wake up. Life is without routine currently; I am not running about all over the country taking my 10year old to his groups and meet ups, so I can take time to journal or meditate at any point in the day that it suits.

Holding the space for me and my family to find our way into a new normal, through this period of testing times is where my self care is at. Watching the news and discussing my 10yr old and 78yr old’s questions (multi-generational household), helping them to understand what’s going on and why, as well and keeping them both safe and healthy. Being able to breathe and not feel guilty that I’m not there for everyone else. My business probably won’t thank me for this social distancing measure, but at this moment in time, that’s not my priority.

When I come back online, and I will, I need to know that I can be there for those who need m to be, but until then, I need to focus on caring for this one and know that that is okay.

With love and blessings

Lissa xx

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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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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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Daily Journal Prompts

Daily Journal Prompts with Wild Sister Rising

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.

Journalling 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 (of which Pinterest, of course, has a gazillion of) to be helpful for jump starting my thoughts and getting me thinking and creating again.

I figure I cant be the only one (certainly judging by the volume of journal prompts available on line, to which I am now adding) that finds these prompts helpful. For the past moon cycle, I have posted a Daily Journal Prompt in my Facebook Group, Circle Of The Wild Sister Rising, where the women in the group have responded with their thoughts and have challenged themselves with the questions.

So her are those daily prompts that we have worked with last moon.  If you would like to try journalling or are in need of a wee push to get going again, maybe you will find something below that sparks that notion to pick up a pen and a notebook and reconnect with who you are, or maybe you would like to challenge yourself to take each prompt in turn for this full cycle (or start of the month – when ever feels right).

Enjoy

Lx

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Rest & Recharge: Self Care 101

wildsisterrising rest & recharge
**This post has affiliated and advertising links**

When it comes to self-care, the number 1 priority is learning how to making sure we sufficiently rest and recharge.

Restore. Revitalise. Relax. Recover. Replenish. Renew. Revive. Refresh.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, just make sure you refilleth thy cup!

In my last Self Care blog post I listed the barriers to self care and why it is essential that we make time for it. Today I want to look at the different ways we can ensure we make the effort, and if need be, create the time and space for that all important self care, starting with getting enough rest inorder to recharge our batteries, thus being able to live our desired life.

Do you ever have that gnawing feeling eating away at you with a never ending list of “shoulds” that need tending to before you are allowed to do something for yourself? You are hastily added to the bottom of said list, as an after thought, as another should, but the one that is perpetually just out of reach. If by some miracle you achieve the holy grail of “me time”, you are greeted by good ole’ guilt. How dare you be so lazy or self indulgent. Surely I can’t be only one to experience this?

But. I am getting better, much better, at saying Fuck It! I can’t be my best me if I am tired and running on empty. Trust me on that one…

Self Care 101

Making the shift to incorporating even the tiniest of changes to prioritising self care is vital. Baby steps are good, they are a start and moving in the right direction.

So , back to actively achieving the goal of getting our required rest : here are my top tips for shooshing those “shoulds” that plague our thoughts and giving guilt the old heave ho.

Sleep

wildsisterrising full moon

1.  No shit Sherlock! But seriously – how many of us get the recommended 8 hours per night? Nope, I thought not. Squeezing some “me time” in after the kids go to bed, and/or getting up super early before the rest of the household to grab an hour before the to-do list kicks in. Sound familiar? When I read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life by Arianna Huffington earlier this year, she recommended scheduling bed time. Actually putting bedtime in your planner or on your calendar alongside dental appointments, work commitments, kids sports activities etc. It makes perfect sense. We wouldn’t be late for any of our other appointments, and our sleep is definitely one which we don’t want to miss. As practical an idea as it is, it is still a work of discipline to ensure the time is met.

2.  Take a nap. Toddlers are proof that a nap is necessary to refresh and revive oneself.  While we are obviously not toddlers, a quick 10-20 minute power nap has been proven, by science, to be incredibly beneficial to our well being, creativity and productivity.

3. Ditch the alarm clock, even just once a week (if you have kids and a partner, let your significant other get on with the breakfast routine and morning shenanigans) and rise with the sun. This sounds more appealing in the darker winter months, but what I am driving at, is to say, let your body wake naturally when it is ready, and therefore had enough rest.

4. If using your alarm, don’t snooze it. This may seem counter intuitive, as the more snoozes means the more rest, right? Nope, it’s a fallacy. The more you snooze, the more unrested you become, cue that groggy discombobulated feeling we get. The constant re-waking of the brain confuses it and makes us feel worse.  *confession – I am a serial snoozer, sometimes every 5 minutes for up to an hour at a time!!!!!*

Ritual

wildsisterrising ritual

Oh yes, I love rituals. Some are sacred and others are probably more “routine” but ritual is far more pleasing a word.

1.  First things first; making that first cuppa of the day. Morning routine – light a candle and make the act of preparing your cuppa, or preferred beverage, a daily ritual. Deliberate and conscious rather than just going through the motions – the candle helps here rather than the big light, especially in the dark mornings. Take time to enjoy the hot drink, savour the flavour (and the aroma if its coffee). Some folk may think this sounds a bit pretentious, but try it, it’s not and creates a really  gentle start to your day.

2. Creating and having a meditation ritual takes practice but it soooo worth it.

3. Not all self care practices are solo efforts. One of the most powerful forms of  replenishing my cup with restorative energy I have experienced was in circle. A women’s gathering/circle where the purpose it to bring us together, to support and encourage and share. Incredibly uplifting.

4. Personal rituals spread throughout the year and during each of the months in turn can make this element of self care so much easier. Living in sync with your own personal rhythm of your menstrual cycle. Charting it to learn and become familiar with where you are on your cycle and how you are likely to feel on certain days etc. My post here explains this process more fully.

Rituals for the New and Full Moon each month and/or the changing seasons help us to align with what is happening in nature and within ourselves.

5.  Journalling – who didn’t keep a diary as a teenager? As an adult, journalling is a prominent feature in my life. I keep all sorts of journals : morning pages, daily planner, tarot card readings, dream journal, one specifically for when I am on my period, blog ideas and one even for notes on every life occurences as I observe them, to name a few. Having dedicated journal time allows me to plan and review, to brain dump everything, get thoughts paper before I forget or to track certain things at certain times. Journalling is a process which allows for calm and rest, it’s thoughtful and  allows for reflection.

6. Affirmations. A great many people love affirmations and find them useful and inspired. Often affirmations are used each morning, looking in the mirror and reciting your affirmation to your self, selecting new affirmations at the New or Full moon, or on a particular day or at a particular time. Personally, I have not found them to work for me, I don’t feel comfortable or authentic reciting them, but that is purely my own take on them.  The late Louise Hay has a phenomenal collection of affirmations, and in her book You Can Heal Your Life she shares many more within each of the chapters.

Time-out

hygge4

1.  This may be a step too far for some people, but the thought of a pyjama day certainly has its appeal. One of the benefits of being a home educating parent, is the joy of a day of having nothing planned apart from a pj day. Total bliss. When I was working though, I threw the odd sickie for this very purpose. In hindsight I was really just looking after myself to recharge before going back to work the very next day. Not convinced my employers would have agreed though.

2. My preferred timeout has to be a long soak in the bath with a good book, wine and candles (lots of candles required if reading). Depending on my mood or when in the day I’m bathing, will determine if I am having a luxurious bath with gorgeously scented oil, such as my favourite NYR Organic Rose & Pomegranate Bath Oil or a fun bath bomb in a sweet nostalgic fragrance. The time in the tub can range from 15 mins to over an hour; that time is sacred and uninterrupted.

3. In my opinion, time out to escape can rarely be found anywhere else other than between the pages of a good book, but then I am a book worm. Magazines, brochures, comics, graphic novels, newspapers and blog posts, are perfect to pick up and dive into to have a little time out – be it on the commute to work if using public transport, in bed before going to sleep instead of reading scrolling Facebook or Instagram, with a cuppa on the couch or in the park while your children play – this is one of my favourite place to read. My son is now at an age where I don’t  have to be watching him every second, so can actually sit and enjoy my book while he burns off all that energy.

4. Music is another time out beauty that ticks all the boxes, whether you are listening to or playing an instrument. Getting lost in the music as it surrounds you. Music, is extremely evocative. Let go and dance or sing  and join in in which ever way the music calls to you.

5.  If TV is your jam, or you decide on having a pyjama day, if there are no distractions (such as kids requiring your attention) settle in  for a binge fest of your favourite Netflix series. No guilt. It has something of a splendid indulgence to it. Some will tell you it’s a waste of a day off, but if you feel rested and have enjoyed the day watching Gilmore Girls, the naysayers can bugger off. This is your time out to do as you please.

6. Pamper yourself. Go on, you deserve it. It needn’t cost a fortune, you can do it yourself at home with ingredients from the fridge  or with your best smellies. Give yourself a facial and a cleansing mask, a deep condition treatment for your hair, paint your nails, what ever you fancy **Note to self: remembering to take make up off at the end of the day and apply moisturiser is also considered self care!!** or treat your self at a salon for a professional massage or any other treatment that sounds like an hour of delicious down time. Get those essential oils burning and create a relaxing haven.

7. Hygge. Need I say more? Is there anything else quite complete for ensuring rest and relaxation than Hygge? If you are new to Hygge – check out my post from last year, I suggest you grab a cuppa before you start.

8. A time out can often mean saying NO and meaning it. When you say yes to all the stuff you are surrounded with day in day out and people are depending on you, it can be tough to say no. But saying NO, you must. The world will not collapse because you are finishing the chapter of your book or sitting in meditation

9. Edited to add : Remember when you were a kid and the simple joy that colouring in brought? Or the satisfaction from crafting “something”?  I love just zoning out and creating something colourful for no other reason than “I like it”.  If crafting is more your bag, I am going to suggest you take a look at Molly and Mouse for your crafting needs.

 

Switch off

cropped-wsr21.jpg

1. Quite literally, switch off and disconnect from all electronic media devices. Even if it is only for an hour or 2. This includes mobile phones, TV , laptop/tablet,  especially switch off from social media and (work) email.  I like to do a social media detox from time to time with a week long break. I once tried 30 days cold turkey, it did not end well – I ended up lurking without commenting, so it looked like I was on a break but I was only fooling myself.  A day or 2 is much more manageable and beneficial. I don’t feel as though the world has ended or that I am too out the loop, particularly because I use FB daily for Home Education meets and discussions.  A full week is truly refreshing but sadly no longer really practical for me. (Hmm, I must find a way round this).

2.  Ditch the drama – real life or TV. We don’t need the stress of other folk’s dramas or being brought into arguments or getting all fired up about what happened on Celebrity Big Brother. Switch it off.  Trashy TV does have its place if this is something you enjoy inorder to zone out and chill for a bit. Choose your drama wisely…its not restorative if you end up agitated or wired following an episode.

3. When we switch off the white noise and bustle to slow down, we reconnect with out senses. We notice more, feel more and appreciate more – put it to good use and go for a  walk in nature, dance in the rain (preferably barefoot), tend to your garden or house plants,  buy or pick flowers  for your home or try some wild foraging  and bake or cook with your bounty when you get home.

wildsisterrising rest & restore

If looking at the list and thinking ” ahh, that would be nice / chance would be a fine thing”, I’m here to tell you that it is not only nice and it is indeed a fine thing, when the opportunity to do so is created or diarised. I’m also here to tell you that if you don’t make your own rest important, no-one else will. You don’t need anyone’s permission to stop, sit down and do something, anything, for yourself. If you still feel like you need permission to SLOW DOWN and chill without the guilts or nagging reminders that this, this and this has still to be done, I am giving you that permission. There, done!

Please remember that as women, we are cyclic creatures, just like nature itself. We are not built to keep going like a Duracell Bunny, in a constant linear fashion, or just like the bunny, we will eventually run out of juice. Burnout is not something to aspire to. Having been there and done that, I can attest that it’s not a badge of honour. Neither too is the stress, frustration and resulting resentment riding shotgun on the journey. Instead, we respect the ebbs and flows of our cycle through the month, and we rest, recharge and replenish as we need, be it daily weekly or monthly, or when YOU decided.

Now, please excuse me whilst I take myself off for a bubble bath and an early night (with no phone…who am I kidding? But I will endeavour NOT to check Facebook just before I go to sleep. I promise.)

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 :

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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 :

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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.

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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