Well being

Sugar sugar

So sweetly my heart aches for you
Infused in tea from birth
The processed legacy of the modern era

Daily you inflame my body
Destroying all the good I eat
Following Ella with good intentions
My will power is torn to shreds
Addictive like heroin
Slowly slowly I kill myself by many names
Cancer, diabetes, obesity,

WHO advises less than 25 grams a day?
With APPs tracking every gram
A new day with focused new resolve
So wanting to abandon this sweet toothed poison
All undone by a creme egg well before 12
My body burns in the freezing night
A riot of inflammation and immunity

Sugar tax petition signed
Yet my saccharide hypocrisy remains
Killing myself sweetly with mono and di(e)

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Making it real

Sometimes we come across something totally at random and have no idea from where it came. This happened for me with this YouTube clip, about creativity, reality and habits. It is fascinating seeing someone articulate what I know to be true through experience, but that I didn’t understand how beneficial it could be. While Chris is initially talking in relation to creativity within business, there is so much to be applied that will enrich all aspects of our lives.

Take a look, it’s fascinating.

Happy feet

Feet First – I have to laugh at myself, but for some reason my feet have been gaining more of my attention over the last 12 months. I think it started when I was stressed and anxious and totally stuck in my head so, in an attempt to ground myself I tried visualising breathing through my feet, yes I do know how bizarre that sounds, but it worked.

Other people may focus on their breathe in their chest or stomach, or wiggle their toes to feel grounded and more connected with the world. But for some reason this didn’t work for me, so I combined breathing with my feet and found a new method of stress relief!

Then after surgery in March, I spent months walking round in flat shoes basically it was just easier and more comfortable. As a result my posture gradually improved and I actually had a real sense of my feet being flat on the ground.

Once I discover Tai Chi in August, I was in heaven not only was I able to begin to exercise again but I did so with bare feet and absolute joy.  There is something delightful about standing in bare feet, feeling the texture of the floor or the coolness of grass whilst being totally balanced throughout the body.

Even if I have no time to do anything else, I will stand softly, upright and still, looking out of the window for a few minutes every morning, just to connect with my body, my breath and feel balanced.

Shoes Second – Once Winter came along so did more restrictive shoes, Summer is fabulous for bare feet, flat sandals, pumps/sneakers but Winter meant the return to more structured shoes, so I went though my wardrobe taking out all the shoes and putting back only the flat ones, with the exception of one pair of gorgeous high heeled black shoes that I have had for years and totally adore but only ever get worn occassionally. The rest I put on eBay, which to my surprise did very well.

I had heard about barefoot shoes, mainly for running, the shoes with 5 toes – but really that isn’t me and certainly not for work. Fortunately the purge of my shoes had left me short of just one pair of shoes, or so l told myself!

All I was looking for was one pair of black flat shoes, how difficult could it be? Well, very – is the answer!  I found some ‘bare foot’ black pumps but not only were they expensive they didn’t actually fit that well, so no sooner had they arrived they were returned.

Then completely by accident I found a pair of flexible, in this case foldable, black pumps a bit like ballet shoes that were completely flat and also in the sale – happy days. Afterwards I realised that I could also wear them for Tai Chi too, an added bonus.

Here’s to happy feet 🙂 how do you love yours?

 

 

2016 – Contentment & Creativity

I begin each year not with a resolution but a theme or two to focus on throughout the year.  But where do I want focus my attention in 2016?  There are just so many positive themes to choose from.

As 2015, and my year of gratitude comes to an end I have been continually surprised by what an amazing theme gratitude has been, as whatever happened I could always find something for which I was grateful and appreciative, which has helped me to focus on the positive during a difficult year.

One thing that I found, which arose from being grateful, was contentment. Contentment which I so easily overlook in my search for whatever is happening next. The one thing that illness gave me was the opportunity to be more reflective about my life and the wonderful people in it.

To me contentment is more subtle than gratitude. Gratitude is something that I can think about and then write into a diary or journal. But contentment is more elusive as it is a way of being. So I feel that my year of contentment will require the application of a bit more awareness, than normal 🙂

So, some of the things I am looking at doing are:

  1. Continuing with my daily gratitude diary.
  2. Creating space by not over committing myself – which is a habit of mine, then I wonder why I am stressed and tired.
  3. Thinking before I buy – do I really need it?  I can always leave it in the online basket for a week or two and see if I still want it!
  4. Taking time to be present, through meditation, Tai Chi and walking.
  5. Reminding myself when the going gets tough to Breath and Smile 🙂

As for the theme of Creativity, well that has spontaneously arisen from a combination of things that I enjoy and want to engage in more wholeheartedly, like:

  1. Spending more time sewing, I want to see if I can design and make one new item every month – cushion, skirt, bag or dress.
  2. Cooking, I am going to try one new recipe each week – I am fully aware that I may end up eating a lot of soup!! but seeing that I was kindly given 3 cookery books for Christmas there is no excuse really.
  3. My hurricane lamp project, each month creating a new theme.
  4. Writing this blog in an attempt to articulate my thoughts a little better and to create some pages with information about the pancreas, it’s function and the diseases that effect it.

So 2016, I am fired up and ready to roll, bring it on.

Cushions
A few of my previous projects 🙂

 

 

 

Who are you when no one else is looking?

Who are you when no one else is looking?

This was a question a friend recently asked me, which has created a thought provoking week. It was something she had contemplated for about a week too coming to the conclusion the she was JOY.

Interestingly the first thing that came to my mind was ouch, am I a different person when no one is looking. So I watched myself for a few days mainly when I was alone to see what my underlying state of being was. And it was “quietly happy” something similar to contentment as opposed to ‘party happy’.

All of which is fabulous but also disturbing at the same time, as most of the time I don’t feel happy. It’s not that I am unhappy but more that other emotions are more prominent like stress or anxiety – both of which usually relate to what is happening next.

So to find that I am happy in my own company, is great but how can I bring that more into the rest of my life? Well that is something for me to think about over the next week or two. I have, and still do, love “Happy” by Will Pharrell so I have included one of my favourite versions by Walk off the Earth, below.  (more…)

2015 gratitude and compliments

At the end of 2014 I decided that instead if having a New Years resolution I would have a theme to focus on, and for 2015 that theme would be gratitude. It was a theme that has proved to be somewhat challenging especially as on the 2nd January I was dignosed with a rare tumour (IPMN) in my pancreas. So literally 40 hours into 2015 I was thinking why me, and gratitude was the furthest thing from my mind.

Whilst my tumour didn’t seem something to be grateful for, I soon realised without having an astute consultant and the latest diagnostic technology it wouldn’t have been diagnosed at all! And that was definately something to be grateful for as without an early diagnosis the outcome could have been very different.

So as the year unfolded, it was by trying to find ways of being grateful despite pain, uncertainty, surgery and depression that helped to keep me positively focused and began to give me a wider perspective on life.

The initial biopsy proved inconclusive so I wouldn’t know if the tumour was malignant or benign until after surgery. Surgery wasn’t optional as IPMN tend to progress from benign to malignant, so it was all about timing. During this period of uncertainty I spent a lot of time thinking about life, illness and death, not the most cheery of times it does have to be said!  But it gave me time to realised how easy it is for me to live lost in the activity of day to day life without appreciation and gratitude for life itself and all the opportunities it offers.

My next major hurdle was the surgery itself, which had to be done in a specialist hospital as the pancreas is a difficult organ to operate on, and I was incredibly fortunate to be living 40 minutes from just such a hospital. Which was so new, that the futuristic ICU resembled the inside of a space ship, bearing in mind that I was on morphine when I saw it!!! I soon appreciated how lucky I was to be living in a country with an amazing health care system, well qualified medical personnel and access to pain relief!

I up-cycled (I just love that word) an old notebook into a gratitude diary to ensure that I wrote at least one different thing each day that I was grateful for. Which ranged from; finding a delicious new ground coffee; expressing my gratitude by sending compliments instead of complaints to the various NHS hospitals who took care of me; to being grateful that my wonderful sister didn’t make me laugh when she took care of me (as sneezing, coughing and laughing really really hurt after abdominal surgery!)

I am grateful that I found forums which helped me to realise that I wasn’t alone, there were others going through the same uncertainty, the same surgery, the same pain, the same frustrations and we could share our experiences.

As we near the end of 2015, I find myself more appreciative of all that I have in my life including the most amazing family and friends. Also I am making a concertive effort not to overcommit myself and instead allowing myself more time to experience those individual moments and people that bring a smile to my face and warmth into my heart.

As for 2016, the themes that I have shortlisted so far are laughter, contentment and simplicity so if you have any other suggestions for my 2016 theme, I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

The simple life

My sister showed me this quotation by Carl Jung on the simple life, which he wrote in 1941, and it seems that not much has really changed….which makes it even more poignant.

The return to the simple life can be regarded as an unexpected stroke of luck, even if such a “return” requires no little sacrifice and is not even voluntary…All time-saving measures, which include easier communications and other conveniences, paradoxically do not save any time, but merely serve to fill up what time there is so that one really has no more time at all. This inevitably gives rise to breathless haste, superficiality, and nervous exhaustion, all with the attendant symptoms such as craving for stimulation, impatience, irritability, and vacillation. Such a condition leads to many things, but never to increased refinements of mind or heart.

Adapt and improvise – when cooking?!!

Adapt and improvise has become my new motto when following a recipe.

Not so long ago I had a selection of favourite cooks like Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater, Deliciously Ella and Jamie Oliver whose recipes I would follow substituting the occasional ingredient or missing it out completely if I didn’t like it, or more to the point it wasn’t in the cupboard. Then this year my diet had to change drastically and I ended up with recipe books titled: Low Fat Cooking, Vegetarian Cooking Without and The Wheat and Dairy Free Cookbook and it wasn’t that the recipes were bad, it was the titles – the sense of lack, of not being able to have. I was missing the juiciness.

So I decided to be bold and to go back to my favourite cooks and their recipes and to adapt them to my diet. Which, shall we say, has been interesting. Everything has been edible in the sense that it has been cooked, always a good start, but certainly not conventional or presentable!

However, I haven’t given up, my recipe books are now scribbled all over with notes/comments/substitutions and I actually think it is this improvisation that has enabled me to being to enjoy cooking more, it is becoming more playful and interesting especially as I never quite know what I will be eating for dinner!

What is your most successfully adapted recipe?

The man in my fridge

Let me introduce you to Pedro, he has been living in my fridge since April. Twice a week he comes out of the fridge to warm up for a couple of hours whilst he is fed flour and water, before being returned to his favourite cool environment to ferment.

Yes, Pedro is my sourdough culture. He already had a name when he was given to me by my sister and it took me a little while to understand the whole naming thing. But what I have realised is that it is so much easier to remember to feed something when you personalise it with a name!

Interestingly, when I am ready to make the fabulous Rye and Caraway Sourdough recipe that came with him, all of a sudden he becomes known as the ‘sourdough culture’, again.

So do you have a name for the colony of microorganism you have living in your fridge?!!!! 😀

A few interesting things about sourdough; it is the oldest form of leavened bread in the world; it is low in GI; it produces a lower glucose and insulin response than other bread; its more easy to digest than other breads due to the fermentation process which also enables the body to absorb vitamins and minerals more efficiently. Research is also beginning to show that sourdough may even be safe for coeliac patients.

Rye sourdough with sunflower and carraway seeds

Rye sourdough with sunflower and caraway seeds