Category Archives: Health and Wellbeing

In a Vase on Monday: be present with yoga

“Calming the mind is yoga. Not just standing on the head.” Swami Satchidananda

This week, despite the heat in Manchester, I’ve done quite a bit of gardening in the evenings, when most of our North facing garden is in the shade.  I notice my mood is better if I’ve spent time outdoors, especially pottering around and watering the plants.  I’ve rationalised my plants into bigger pots, pushed together so that I can water everything I need to and bigger pots retain the moisture.  It’s also the first summer I’ve watered shrubs in the garden. It takes me about half an hour to water the pots (with a watering can and water from the water butts).  We have had so little rain here – and the temperatures have been in the high 20s for a couple of months.  Also, I’ve put succulents, sedums and drought tolerant plants in my hanging baskets.  Gardening helps me be mindful – as does yoga.

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7 August 2018 – posy of sweetpeas, lavender and dianthus – with The Book of You and a Be present yoga print

How yoga helps my mind, body and spirit

I’ve been practising yoga, on and off, for about 12 years, starting completely by accident.  A friend of mine had a pal who was learning to be an Iyengar yoga teacher so needed people to practise with.  It was right next to work, straight after work so it seemed a good thing to do. It changed my life.

When I was younger I had poor spacial awareness and was always tripping over, which lead to some hilarious incidents including my Steve (my former partner) pulling me out of a peat bog as I’d sunk up to my knees and was slowly falling face forward into the bog.  Another time I went flying, just as a busload of tourists came round the corner in very rural Ireland.  I was always collecting bruises from bumping into things.

It’s a long time ago, but the first things I noticed doing yoga was that it helped me stretch (especially my hamstrings), helped calm my brain as I was concentrating on breathing and the position of my limbs.  I learnt to do corpse pose (Shavasana) not ‘banana’ pose as my first Yoga teacher Jacky named it.  Yoga isn’t a quick fix – it took me about 6 weeks to see the real benefit. I carried on with Jacky’s classes and then John Aplin for years until my work pattern changed.

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My ‘Mindful’ Garden – I’m in the moment

To Dwell is to Garden – Martin Heidegger, (1889-1976) German philosopher

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Physicist and Nobel Prize winner for General Theory of Relativity

With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment – Nhat Hanh (1926 – he’s 91!), Buddhist Monk

For me, Gardening is mindful, being in the moment. It doesn’t have to be me ‘doing’ things, it’s about the scents, the rustle of leaves, the birds, the hum of lawn movers in the distance. For me, when I’m in the garden, I’m in the moment – I find watering, deadheading and weeding relaxing – and planting too. For me, it’s about peace and recharging.

About my garden – it’s small, it’s rubbly soil and north facing; the neighbour’s have huge conifers, which make it even more shady at the end of the garden.

I love it – our small, sanctuary from the hussle and bustle of the world

I’m content in the garden.

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Before I bought my house – Summer 2009

In high summer 2016… some of the conifers on the right have gone now – but those on the left are even bigger 😦

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My garden is a work in progress – like me. I’m 51 – I definitely feel I’m in a new chapter with My Chap (my new husband) holding my hand, metaphorically too. To be fair, he does all the digging and heavy work as I have osteoarthritis. It’s a team effort in the garden.

and there’s always time to eat and relax.

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Many pots planted (and watered), and always Yoda – any season… Yoda (and Star Wars have appeared many times on this blog).

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I love lavender too – it figured very heavily at our wedding in September 2017 (it was our ‘confetti’ too) I have about 20 different plants around the front garden which gets sun all day.

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Lavender and a cabbage white butterfly

Many crocuses and violas too. Always something for the birds too.

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It’s not all purple flowers though – there’s lots of colour around the garden. Orange and yellow life my mood in Spring. I love tulips too.

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Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. Luther Burbank, American Botanist

Meanwhile, you’ll find me in the garden, drinking Earl Grey or a Pimms… you’re welcome to join us if you’re in the area 😉

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What do you do that’s mindful?

Originally, I wrote about what my garden means for me for the April competition at Cottonopolis Women’s Institute. We were asked to suggest our mindful activities, there was a vast range including knitting/crochet, sewing, baking, art or drawing, listening to music, and a few people like me loved walking or being in the great outdoors.

Our speaker in April was Deb Connor – an all-round star who led some mindfulness exercises and stretches. She’s a trained mindfulness teacher, an acupuncturist and is a vegan too.

I’ve been doing mindfulness for a couple of years now – which combined with over 10 years of yoga has really helped my mental wellbeing. I’ll write about this another to

Women’s Institute – Cottonopolis WI

We have such alot of fun at WI meetings, in June we made beauty products from lavender, peppermint and coffee skin scrubs.

Our next meeting on Tuesday 3rd July (730 at St Micheal’s George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester) is tea tasting. I can’t wait.

If you’re local come along…

Let me know in the comments what you do that’s mindful? Do you have a garden? What does it mean to you?

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

Wordless Wednesday – DAY 4 SNUGGLE #blurtselfcareathon

4 April 2018 DAY 4: SNUGGLE #blurtselfcareathon on Instagram

There’s nothing I like more than snuggling under a blanket, eating cake and doing some crafting. It’s been hectic recently, so I need to make more time for this. #SelfcareMatters

Follow @theblurtfoundation on Instagram

And my photos and ideas (@Montonbec56) for the prompt #BlurtSelfCareathon for April 2018.

April #BlurtSelfCareathon from Blurt Foundation – Join in?

Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.
– Deborah Day, Author Be Happy Now

I’m really looking forward to joining with The Blurt Foundation #blurtselfcareathon in April. I really enjoyed doing #blurtmerrycalmness it’s helped my #mindfulness practice, helped my #wellbeing and finding words and photos to represent each word.

It will mostly run on Instagram, but I thought I’d do some over view posts here too.

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I’ve got lots of ideas of what pictures to take and what I want to write about to fit with the daily theme. I find that having a concept to think about each day, makes me think more mindfully. I do know that taking photos, being outside and being in the moment helps me enormously with my anxiety and living with chronic pain from arthritis

Background

I’ve done a couple of these photo prompts before:

  • December 2017 – #blurtmerrycalmness
  • January 2018 – #savouringJanuary@gabrielletreanor – Gabrielle writes about wellbeing, slowing down and self care, being in the moment, mindfulness advice for overthinkers (like me). I really enjoyed this photo prompt too but I’ll write about this another time.

Want to get involved with #blurtselfcareathon?

I’ve been discussing the #blurtselfcareathon on a peer support group on Facebook and some people were a bit stuck about what photos to take and what to write about.
So I thought I’d write a post showing some of my photos for the December prompts. I hope you find it helpful.

My advice

  1. You don’t need to post every day – there’s no pressure with this.
  2. If you want to keep things more private there are closed facebook pages – or just email yourself
  3. It’s your selfcare – do it your way 🙂
  4. It’s can be a good idea to look back to see what you wrote – and see how far you’ve come.
  5. in some ways these photos prompts are a bit like a diary/journal
  6. For me taking photos are part of my self care but they don’t need to look ‘instagramable’ or ‘touched up’. It really doesn’t matter what photo you use to represent your ideas.
  7. have fun with it 🙂
  8. go at your pace – catch up or skip days if you want to.
  9. Have a look around the hashtag

Here’s the prompts for December 2017 – #blurtmerrycalmness

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In a Vase on Monday – Bee Kind this Spring

‘Be happy for this moment, This moment is your life’. Omar Khayyam (1048-1132) Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been concentrating even more on my mindfulness practise – and being more in the moment. But, it feels a bit like groundhog day at the moment, Winter (and snow) re-appearing and Spring receding into the distance again (much like it was at the beginning of March). Once again it was a very cold weekend, with snow forcast, so I thought about what I might find the garden; most of the plants are looking a bit sorry for themselves (especially the Camellias) but plenty of bulbs coming up.

27 March 2018 – Hellebore, tête-à-tête daffodils (with ice) photographed on 18 March 2018

On Sunday 18th March, there was about 3inches of snow in our garden, the sky was blue, but it was very cold. It certainly concentrates your mind when you have to bundle up in your thickest coat, scarf, hat and gloves (and walking boots), just to explore what flowers are out in the garden. So I dashed out, and I found more than I was expecting. It made up for the pain from my arthritis, which doesn’t like the cold at all. I’ve struggled with the cold, with pain, which makes me tired all the time. That’s probably why it took over a week to write this blog – oh well I’ll try to be quicker next time.

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In A Vase on Monday – old rose, new year plans…CompassYear

‘Nevertheless, She persisted’ American Feminist expression (2017– )

I’ve been thinking this week about this tenacious rose flowering outside our front door – watching its progress – it’s been this soft peachy/yellow from bud.  This is the fourth set of flowers the rose has produced; it flowered in November too. The colour of the rose has changed though, the buds are  usually a bright orange that fades to red and yellow.  I know more expert gardeners than me will know why the colour is so different,  for a start it was only pruned in the Spring last year. Life over took us in 2018, so our garden was rather neglected. With the rose are some rosehips and a purple recycled glass bud vase, which I bought in the Eden Project. The vase appeared a few times for ‘In a Vase on Monday’ but the rose has only appeared once before:

I’ve made a note to cut more flowers from the rose this year 🙂

8 January 2018 – Rose with rosehips in a Purple glass bud glass – and CompassYear 2017-2018

This rose was one of the few plants in my front garden when I moved in eight years ago, it was in a right state. My Chap does the pruning and has certainly revived the rose. I hope flowering in a cold snap, won’t have too much impact on the rose flowering in 2018.

Do check out Cathy’s blog at Rambling in the Garden for more ‘In a Vase on Monday’ arrangements from around the world – some using vases and some not. There’s always something beautiful to lift your spirits.

8 January 2018 – Rose (January 2018) and Bud and Rose (June 2016)

YearCompass – www.yearcompass.com

It’s the time of year for resolutions; I’ve mention before I don’t really do resolutions, I prefer to think of intentions rather that ‘give something up’ or ‘start something’, it just leads to failure and disappointment usually by the second week of January.  I try to avoid all the ‘new year, new me’ in the media. However I try daily changes, being mindful, trying and trying to avoid self sabotage – keep going…

But given what a momentous year 2017 was in both good and bad ways, I decided I needed to find something to help me close off 2017, and help me think though my dreams and aspirations for 2018.  I found an excellent short document made by the volunteers of YearCompass and Invisible University International in Hungary.    The project began in 2012, is based on psychological theories, has a booklet helping people close their year and plan their next year.  The booklet has been downloaded over 400,000 and translated into 22 languages.

The booklet is 20 pages and you need a couple of hours to complete for 2017 and about 4 hours for 2018.

2017the past year

  • Looking through the year focusing on family life, work, home, friends, community, Fitness, etc.
  • Looking at decisions, support, gratitude, resilience, challenges and accomplishments.

2018 – next year 

  • What I want to achieve focusing on family life, work, home, friends, community, fitness, etc.
  • Questions like:  Visit three places, three things to do every morning, three things to discover… And many other questions.
  • Pick a word for the year ahead.
  • And you sign ‘I believe anything is possible this year’.

It was very illuminating – and thought provoking, and threw up a few topics I’d not really considered.

Find out more about CompassYear (and download the booklet) at www.yearcompass.com 

I discussed what I’d written, with My Chap and old friends, who reminded me of my determination and resilience.  I’ll be coming back to what I’ve written and the plans I’ve made for 2018.

Onwards… #365daysofselfcare

I’ve been doing more of the things that lift me . I’ve been continuing with daily #mindfulness, yoga and #Onehouroutside.  

#Onehouroutside  was started by one of the Outdoor Bloggers Zoe from www.splodzblogz.co.uk.  I’m on a roll with one hour outside – I’ve managed at least an hour outside since mid December. I’m making a note in my journal as sometimes walking for an hour isn’t feasible (work or bad weather).

It’s been near zero again this week in Manchester, some crisp sunny days with blue skies, alternating with gales and rain.  My back garden is a quagmire,  but we are fortunate there are Canals and footpaths on our doorstep.

I wrote about a local walk last week – Monton to Worsley Green circular walk (about 3 miles). I’ll be writing more about local walks, inspired by Sarah from Urban Wanderer who has many good walks around Greater Manchester and Lancashire.  Have a look:

My plan for this week is to listen to some mindful walking podcast while I’m out walking. Usually I’m just mindfully breathing, counting breaths and steps, looking around me at the surroundings.

  • If  you have any suggestions for mindful walking podcasts please let me know in the comments 

Instagram #savouringJanuary2018

As I mentioned last week, I enjoyed the @blurtfoundation Instagram Challenge #blurtmerrycalmness so I’ve looked around for another photo challenge.  I found Gaynor Treanor on Instagram who writes about selfcare and mindfulness.  So I’ve been following #savouringJanuary2018.

Today 8 January 2018 it was DAY 8: NOURISH #savouringJanuary2018

This definition spoke to me ‘necessary for growth, health and good condition’. It’s about taking care of yourself, doing the best you can for yourself, self-care and mindfulness. Good food matters too 🙂

  • What #selfcare have you done today?
  • Have you been kind to yourself today?

Follow on Instagram – @becmonton56 @Gabrielletreanor
#SavouringJanuary2018

8 January 2018 – lamb stew – Nourish day 8 #savouringJanuary2018

I’m feeling positive for 2018 – I think my intentions are feasible 😉 I’ll report back how I get on,

She persisted… 

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx

In a Vase on Monday – good enough when not ‘in the pink’ 

You are enough, just as you are, right nowAnonymous

It’s been minus four all day both today and yesterday in Manchester (Mon 11th/ Tue 12th December 2017), it’s been gloomy but a biting wind. For a change, we swerved the heavy snow, hitting the Midlands instead, there was some snow on the hills that ring the city on Friday Night and during Saturday. We rarely get much more than a smattering of snow, where we live in #Monton, as it’s very flat, near canals and rather built up (the ground is too warm for snow to settle). Not that I’ve seen much of any snow, as I’ve been wiped out by a cold and in bed – my arthritis pain was a bit full on too. As usual My Chap has been looking after me 🙂 Still it could be worse, Cathy who hosts In a Vase on Monday at Rambling in The Garden in the Garden has a Vase of snowdrops and rose hips among rather deep snow this week. There are Northern and Southern Hemisphere contrinbutions so there’s always something lovely.

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12 December 2017 – In a Vase on Monday – rosemary, pelargonium and lavender in the Salford gloom

Today (Tue) I felt a bit better, so I wrapped up well and dashed outside, as I could see pink flowers on a very well sheltered hanging basket, and snipped a few stems. It was the trailing pelargonium (pictured in my blog header), I’ve managed to ‘over winter’ for five years now, along with another pink standard (non trailing) pelargonium. Also I found some lavender and did a little pruning of the rosemary that grows in the front garden and my mini bouquet was ready. I picked one of my mini jugs, partly because it had lovely pink roses on it, but also because I bought it at Bodnant Garden in North Wales in summer 2016. We got engaged there in the Rose Garden 🙂 Reminding me of sunny summer days 🙂

The picture frame and quote ‘you are enough just as you are right now‘ were used as a photo prompt for an Instagram Challenge I’m following from the Blurt Foundation (www.blurtitout.org) for December #blurtmerrycalmness. As it was so cold I took the photo in the porch at the front door; it has been a popular spot for photos recently as it gets the best light and is dry 😉

The photoframe and card represents DAY 7: WORTHY. I think it’s difficult at times to believe you’re good enough, especially if you’re ill and have long term health conditions. I’ve been working on accepting I’m enough. Mindfulness and affirmations help with this too.

You can follow my Instagram @Becinmonton and contributions from other people to #blurtmerrycalmnessyou can get involved too 🙂

Today’s prompt is COMFORT (DAY 12); it’s a picture of our ramen soup we had for dinner but of course, comfort comes from many things, not just physical aspects of life. Ive spoken before about how much IAVOM helps me – how flowers, plants and the great outdoors lift me.

About the Blurt Foundation – INCREASING AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING OF DEPRESSION

Blurt produce a range of resources for people with #anxiety and #depression including these Card Decks – 12 cards in each with affirmations (£8.95 if you buy them seperately). They suggest pulling them out, steadying your breath and reading the cards. These two cards ‘spoke’ to me today…

12 December 2017 – Press pause, You are enough and Believe in yourself cards – produced by Blurt Foundation

I received these cards as part of my monthly Buddy Box from Blurt. they describe the boxes as a Hug in Box. These can be ordered as a one off, monthly, for a friend or send a Random Act of Kindness (Blurt pick someone to receive a box who really needs it).

My December box is due this week – and it will contain The Selfcare Project written by Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder and CEO. The book is published on 14th December and can be ordered on Amazon – Print, Audio and Kindle

The Self-Care Project: How to let go of frazzle and make time for you

I’m really looking forward to reading this book – the blog posts and resources from Blurt are excellent. I’ve written a few times about Blurt before – #blurtfoundation

I’ve got much ‘better’ at self-care over the last few years but there’s always new options and ideas. Selfcare, mindfulness, yoga, affirmations are part of my daily life now. I’m on a journey and I’m not at my destination yet.

Do you have favourite affirmations? What’s your #365daysofselfcare routine? Are you going to join in with #blurtmerrycalmness

By the way, I decided not to include any fuchsias in my vase to give you all a rest from them over the last few weeks, but there are a few flowers under the kitchen window sill. Have a look on #fuchsia to see more 🙂

I hope the weather is OK where you are 🙂

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

*Note: I paid full price for the Buddy Boxes and haven’t been asked to write about them. I wanted tell my readers about the great work Blurt do – and see if anyone want to get involved in #blurtmerrycalmness