Tag Archives: mindfulness

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

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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 -A Cold, Snowy, Salford Spring?

‘No Winter lasts forever, no Spring skips its turn’ Hal Borland (1900-1978) American author and naturalist

No one in Britain can have missed the weather the last few weeks, #thebeastfromtheEast, #StormEmma and more snow due this weekend. I hope you don’t mind, but some of this post was written a couple of weeks ago, and the rest today, as another wintery weekend looms. Also I’ve been a bit stuck, very tired and osteo-arthritis aching but I’ve been plodding along. I feel a bit like Spring, stuck around the corner, nearly in reach but not quite. I saw something on twitter today, which made me laugh:

Winter this year, is like a person who leaves the room in a huff, only to come back in ‘and another thing…’ only to leave again… and return…

#theBeastfromthe East brought about 4 inches of snow to Monton, it’s very unusual to have this much, usually it’s about two inches, as it’s very flat around here with many canals. It was THAT cold and icy our local Parkrun (Worsley woods) was cancelled… this never happens as its under trees and very protected compared to most Parkruns. Fortunately my Chap was OK about this, as the air was far too cold for running – you wouldn’t think to look at him that he has asthma 🙂

The wind chill dipped to minus 12 during the night, and minus 8 during the day. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in the middle of the city. I’m very used to cold, when I’m up a mountain and layered up. It reminded me of the very cold day in January 2015, when we went to Neuschwanstein, in Bavaria with my Brother and his family, who were visiting from Australia – happy memories 🙂

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A very cold, snowy day in Monton on 4th March 2018
It wasn’t lost on me that 1st March was the start of the meteorological Spring – so I layered up with my thickest, longest waterproof, gloves, hat, scarf and boots and ventured into the garden to see what flowers I could find. I was surprised to find some tête-à-têtes, and some purple perennial wallflower so I quickly picked the flowers, and put them in a vase with some lavender. The vase has appeared in ‘In a Vase on Monday’ many times, I wrapped ‘bee happy’ washi tape around it. The print is part of a series – the Winter print with descriptions of moons has appeared too (Worm Moon, Pink Moon and Flower Moon) at the start of metreological Winter. Butterflies and bees seem a long way off at the moment, but like most things, they’ll be back.

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In a Vase on Monday -(journaling) old favourites and new memories

Everything is going to work out just fine. Probably – Anonymous 

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d notice I like quotes nearly as much as I like taking photos, especially of flowers. One of the reasons, I take photos is to keep a records of things, what’s flowered when, whether it’s early or late, beautiful gardens and views, as well as nature in its widest sense. It helps me remember good times, and also reminds me where things are – literally like the bulbs, but also so I don’t have to remember things in my overloaded brain!

This week’s In A Vase on Monday, has alot of old favourites which have a good memories, including the vase and something new – the sign 🙂

  • A standard size Cerise pink dianthus and some pink and white dwarf dianthus.
  • lilac violas – these were part of our wedding centre pieces.
  • Fuchsia – this is a hardy one which grows outside our kitchen window – it was in a Vase last week.
  • The vase is recycled purple glass bought at the Eden Centre in Cornwall. It has appeared before, usually, with sweetpeas.  Most recently was  July 2016 (blissful), when I wrote about our engagement 🙂
  • The sign was given to me by a great friend. It also appeared in our wedding centre pieces.  You ALL know how much I like being in the garden 🙂

Cathy, who hosts the meme over at Rambling in the Garden, has some stunning orange and white amaryllis this week. I’ve never grown Amaryllis.   The idea of IAVOM is to pick, and display, flowers and plants from your garden or locality each Monday.  The diversity of vases from across the world is staggering. It’s wonderful to see the Spring across the world in Australia and New Zealand. Just what I need on a freezing cold but sunny day in Manchester.

Small purple glass bud vase with lilac violas, pink and white dianthus and pink fuchsia

29 November 2017 – In a Vase on Monday purple vase with dwarf lilac violas, pink dianthus and hardy fuchsia

I take photographs of all sorts of other things too, receipts, recipes, books to read, useful websites, notes I’ve made, etc.  I find it easier to have visual records, and use journals and lists. I use Trello for  electronic lists (I’ll write about that another time) and I’ve got a simple electronic diary shared with My Chap.

Writing things down, taking photos and also help with my planning, wellbeing and making memories, as well as self-care. Ive tried out bullet journals but it doesn’t work for me; I think it’s the pressure to complete things everyday.

So I thought I write about my daily planning and what journals/books I use. They definitely helps me with #365daysofselfare

My daily planning tools – journals, diaries and lists 

  • CalmCalm the Mind, Change the world by Michael Acton Smith

This is a lovely book – it explains mindfulness and meditation in a very straightforward, simple way and gives you ideas for activities in Nature, with Children, Food, Friends, etc.  It has quotes and poems too. It’s a pretty book which is why I’m reluctant to write in it 😉

I’ve had it a couple of years, and I dip in and out, using it to inspire activities or self-care depending on what I’m doing. Often, I use the gratitude, highlights and what’s made me feel calm today? How and note these down in my It’s going to be OK journal. 

I don’t use the app associated with Calm; mainly because I’ve never got around to downloading it 😦 I’m using the Headspace app at the moment, guided meditations on YouTube, and in particular, guided body scans. These connect well with my yoga practise too.

29 November 2017 – Calm Journal, Weekly Planner and It’s Gonna be Okay journal 

  • Stigu Journal – a rest and zest handbook I’ve written about Stigu before (including last week) and I’m just starting to fill in my 2018 Stigu.  It’s a mixture of a diary and a journal/note book. Each month has a theme – Reflect is November’s theme. The left page is for notes and suggestions for activities.  This week’s suggestion resonated with me – a puddle reflecting only what’s above it, for example clouds,  and keeping no ‘memory’ of what’s passed. Stigu asks us to imagine what our minds would be like if we could practise this?
  • Weekly Planner – from Sainsburys!   It has days of the week, notes and to do list. This is where all the detailed, mind dump, boring lists like the shopping!, reminders for bills, clothes for yoga, etc are recorded.
  • It’s Gonna be Okay – An inner truth journal. As the photos show, this has a quote on one side, date, What Im hanging hope on todayprevailing outlook for the day.   I use this as reminder of how my days gone, a narrative, notes – what’s gone well what hasn’t. The odd rant too.  It’s very much my secret, private thoughts. It has a quote for every day and sometimes I just flick through it looking at the quotes.

29 November 2017 – It’s Gonna be OK journal inside layout 

My Stigu journal and Its going to be OK journal also helps me record my symptoms too.  I don’t really use paper symptom or habit trackers – pressure to fill in boxes (or not fill them in!).  They’re a prompt to monitor my arthritis symptoms in a health app. I was part of a citizen scientist project, in 2017, called Cloudy with a Chance of Pain, which monitored the impact of the weather on arthritis and pain symptoms. The full results should be out next year. 

So for my #365daysofselfcare today, I went for a walk around Monton. It was freezing, but sunny skies and I wandered around taking photos.  Im very grateful to live where I do, close to woods and a canal, yet only six miles to the centre of Manchester.

My #selfcare plans this week include walking more and more gardening – #OneHourOutside and #bekind too

Do you use journals or diaries? Do you use them for selfcare or recording gratitude / positive events? Let me know in the comments or any suggestions you have

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx xx xx 


My 2016 – carry on (happiness and hope)

Hope smiles from the threshold of  year to come, whispering ‘It will be happier…’ Alfred Tennyson

Worsley Woods Parkrun Marker - 1 January 2015

Worsley Woods Parkrun Marker – 1 January 2015

I don’t make resolutions in the conventional sense of ‘New Year, New Me’ as I think the pressure of expectation often makes people fail. I just believe if you want to change something whether it’s big or small, just do it.  Pick a day, start and try your best… it doesn’t have to be on 1st January either.   It’s also important to remember that small changes count just as much big ones;  everyone has to start somewhere… and this year in 2016, it’s about carrying on, finding more happiness and new adventures.

In many ways, 2015 was a terrible time which had a massive impact on me – my friend Steve died very suddenly, which had an overwhelming impact on me mentally, physically and emotionally.  I’m still working thorough this and getting myself back to where I want to be.  Then my role changed at work very suddenly and there are huge rearrangements next year across the organisation, so there’s on going uncertainty.  I have no idea what I’ll be doing and where I’ll be at the end of 2016. But I know My Chap will be by my side holding my hand (metaphorically too) – he’s my rock. My family and my pals have been great too (mostly).  I’m a happy person generally, but my resilience, energy levels and health have taken a major hit in 2015.   But, this trauma has reminded me about what I believe…. Continue reading

From small things to big… acorns to oaks – being mindful helps

Much of this year has been very difficult for me mentally and physically, especially after my friend died in April 2015. A couple of weeks ago I saw the #100happydays challenge – http://100happydays.com/

I decided to have a go – it’s pretty simple really…It’s asking

  • Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?  
  • Every day submit a picture of what made you happy!
  • It can be about anything or anyone.  
  • It’s a way of getting in touch with the moment you’re in
  • People can submit photos privately too.

My flowers and garden have brought me so much solace this year during such difficult times; my garden has been my sanctuary.  The Great Gardens (like Tatton, Helligan, Bodnant and Dunham Massey) we’ve visited have helped too as well, as have all the beautiful flowers from all gardening bloggers across the world.   I’ve been getting back into yoga (it helps my back trouble) and have been doing some mindfulness practise too.   And of course, my friends and especially my Chap have supported and loved me.

I hope doing this will remind me of things, people and experiences that help make me happy.  I’m definitely getting back to where I want to be.

#100happy days dahlia, vinegar, acorns, mindfulness 1-4

dahlia (1/100), vinegar (2/100), acorns (3/100), mindfulness (4/100) #100happydays

1/100 – mini dahlia in a very mini milk bottle

I found this flower lurking among the slug-ravaged leaves. I wrote about it here

2/100 – blackberry vinegar

We had huge amount of blackberries from both my mum’s and my friend’s gardens so I froze some for crumbles and other puddings   I decided to have a go a blackberry vinegar; it was very easy to make and it’s hidden away in the cupboard infusing.

I’ve got to wait a couple of weeks before the next stage; it will need straining, simmering with some sugar and decanting into smaller bottles and apparently it will last for years.

3/100 – acorns in my friend J’s hands

I went to see my pal J, who’s on maternity leave waiting for her baby to arrive. We talked about growing an oak tree to mark her baby girl’s birth.  She and her husband have decided that they’ll take the sapling to be planted in the National Forest in Derbyshire. It needs to grow for a couple of years first (just like their baby) before they can plant it out. Isn’t this a wonderful idea?  Find out how to grow your own oak tree here:

4/100 Mindfulness and Wellbeing Rooms

I’ve been doing mindfulness at work (and at home) which is definitely helping.
Find out more about mindfulness which is an ancient meditation technique and also how it is used within Mindful cognitive behavioural therapy – http://mbct.co.uk/ and the Guardian wrote about it today (20 October 2015) by Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who brought mindfulness concepts to the West in the 1960s.

I’m very fortunately that there are many wellbeing classes I can attend at work, like mindfulness, as well as counselling (there are lots of stressed students).  Also, I’ve started tai chi and am doing yoga again which helps with my chronic back trouble. I do Iyengar yoga, which is very good for people with injuries, and the teachers have to study for about three years before they can teach it to others.  More information:

I started practising yoga nearly 10 years ago and it has made a big difference to my life.  I’ll write about more about yoga another time.

5/100 a visit to Dunham Massey with my pal C

Dunham Massey mansion - 5/100 #100happydays

Dunham Massey – 5/100 #100happydays

My friend C and I have birthdays close together so we usually go out for the day.  It was a glorious sunny day so we went to Dunham Massey – which is owned by the National Trust.  Dunham Massey  is a Georgian mansion, near Altrincham with a beautiful garden (including a walled rose garden) a deer park and a saw mill. It’s a wonderful place any time of year, lovely walks too and a lot to see.  As you’d expect from the National Trust, it’s got a couple of fine tea rooms and their cakes are great too.

Until 11 November 2015 Dunham Massey is Stamford Military Hospital where they have recreated the first world war hospital where over 300 soldiers recuperated from 1917-1919.  I’ve been twice – it’s a very powerful evocation of the soldiers’ situations, lives and illnesses recreated with actors.

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Come back again for the next instalment of my #100happydays challenge – it’s mostly about Lisbon

You can follow my photos for #100happydays challenge on twitter feed everyday (@becinmonton)

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Anyone around the world can get involved in #100happyday or just have a look for the hashtag or on facebook too.                                                                  

What has made you happy today?

Carpe Diem