The Power of Positive Thoughts

 

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Have you realized how much your thoughts direct your behavior? Dwelling on positive happy thoughts create a positive happy mind. I’m not talking about wishful thinking, or telling yourself everything is fine and dandy if it’s clearly not. I’m talking about nudging yourself in a different direction when you’re about to go down the rabbit hole of negative thinking.

In the Yoga Sutras we are told to “still the fluctuations of the mind” which is perfect for meditation, but sometimes (at least for me) it’s impossible to stop the fluctuations but it’s not impossible to steer the direction of your thoughts. Good thoughts attract good thoughts. It actually works – I’ve been practicing. When you catch yourself ruminating on something that upsets, worries or irritates you – STOP for a moment, ask yourself what you want to feel  instead and why. Asking yourself these questions will more than likely nudge your thought process to a better place.

Doesn’t it seem like a really good idea to become the master of your thoughts, to be in control of your mind instead of being lead on a wild goose chase of negative thoughts. I think it’s possible to become so. I think it’s just a habit. I’m going to cultivate this one. What about you, are you the master of your thoughts already, or are you working on it?

 


Are you a worrier?

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A friend of mine posted this picture by Gemma Correll on facebook today and I thought it pretty much sums up life for a lot of us. SOOOO many worries, some minor, some major all swirling around in our heads fighting for our attention. What is it with women and worry? why are we SOOOO good at it? and how do we stop it? I actually envy people who don’t worry. I wish I could be like that. Is it a mother thing? Are people born worriers or do we become dedicated worriers over the years?

I’m told you can learn to turn your negative thoughts into positive ones. For example every time you mutter under your breath “I’m such an idiot” (and let’s face it how many times do you tell yourself that a day??) you can catch yourself in the act and turn it around to say “I’m actually a very intelligent person who has a lot going on.” I much prefer that and honestly, even if you don’t immediately believe it, it really does make you feel a little better.

Another tool in the anti worry arsenal is meditation. I know it’s not easy, but even 5 minutes a day makes a different. Just to still the mind for a few seconds. To acknowledge all these worries then allow them to pass through the mind and not dwell on them is actually empowering. Meditation is a work in progress for me. I wrote an article about it here. It’s a beautiful thing that is the antithesis of worry. For me at the end of a yoga class lying in savasana is about the closest I get to leaving my worries behind. That beautiful moment of peace when the body and mind are still. Are you a worrier? How do you deal with your worries? Do share:)


Don’t Forget to Smell the Roses.

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Life can feel like a pressure cooker of expectations. Many times these expectations have been placed on us by non other than ourselves. Take this blog for example. I’ve felt pressure and stress to post as much as possible and gain as many followers and likes as possible. I was failing if I didn’t. What was the point if I didn’t succeed in becoming a “successful” blogger with a book deal and a perfect website. I’d love those things of course, and to achieve them I naturally need to put in time and effort. But what about enjoying the journey? What about enjoying the creative process just for itself and letting go of the pressure and worry of not “succeeding”. Looking at it from another angle, aren’t I already succeeding by spending time doing something I enjoy, by creating posts and engaging my creative energy. Isn’t that enough? Should that be enough? then, why is it so often not enough?

Is being under pressure a 21st Century affliction? I don’t think so. There was always pressure in centuries past – simply to stay alive, to feed oneself, not to die of the plague or be killed by some invading army. The difference nowadays is that there is pressure everywhere you look. My blog has to be successful. My marriage has to be perfect. My house has to be decluttered, clean and beautiful. My children have to be successful in school. I have to compost. Someone’s sick. Someone else needs some TLC. My nails are a mess. What’s for dinner. There’s no loo roll. The dog pooped under the piano. There’s not enough money. The earth is getting too hot. I forgot to pay the electric bill. You see what I mean?

We – or at least I, have forgotten to slow down and smell the roses. I’ve forgotten to enjoy the sound of words coming together in my head to form a story and instead I fret that it will never be published. I’ve forgotten to stand still and watch the snow flakes dance in the wind and instead I focus on my fear of driving on icy roads. I’ve forgotten the delight of swirling a piece of luscious chocolate in my mouth, relishing the taste and feel of it and instead worry about the calories I’m consuming. So much pleasure – swept away by self imposed pressures that matter to no one but myself. Too much hurry, too much worry and not a pause to stop and smell the roses.

Pressure is the enemy of breath. Breath is the antidote to pressure. Try it. Inhale peace, exhale pressure. Feel the hustle and bustle of daily life and worries that run in a loop in our brains loosen their grip. Then prioritize. Then do. Then feel better.

 

Photo credit: Pinterest


Life with Yoga.

Throughout the last two years the beauty of yoga has slowly become apparent in my life. I suspect the more I learn and practice the more beautiful it will become. To begin with it was just the physical aspect that attracted me but the more classes I took the more my attitude changed in other areas of my life. I became calmer, happier, less rushed. Slowly I started learning how to “breathe” and therefore how to “accept”.

Life can be hard and I’m human so sometimes I turn my back in anger and ignore the beauty, but when I stop for a minute, breathe and close my eyes the beauty comes back. It’s part of me now and I don’t want to live without it. That’s why I’m on this path, to live it, breathe it and sleep it. To encourage others as I have been encouraged, not to be consumed with the worries of the world but instead to spread the beauty.

Completing my 200 hour yoga teachers training has been a blessing and finding my niche teaching at nursery schools, seniors centers and assisted living homes has been another blessing! My little kids are energizing and SO fun and my seniors warm my heart.

Currently I’m in England visiting my family trying to teach them how to breathe! I didn’t bring my mat or my Tibetan bell or any incense and perhaps that’s just as well, they’re not used to such things. Yoga travels with you neatly packed up in your heart. It never leaves you and never lets you down.

Namaste.


The Treasures of Aging.

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Last August I turned 50. At the time I wasn’t the least little bit concerned.

I marked my half century on the planet by celebrating my graduation from a Yoga Teacher’s Training which just happened to fall on the Big Day. Naturally I took this as a benevolent sign from the Universe that I was on the right path. It was meant to be. I wasn’t worried at all. I didn’t “do” aging.

A month or two later I realized I’d been cruelly hoodwinked. Catching sight of myself in a mirror in the middle of a department store, I realized the reflection that gazed back at me looked familiar, but for an instant I wasn’t sure who this woman was. There was a faded look to her as if time and life had taken an eraser and rubbed away the vibrancy of youth. That’s when 50 hit me. Where did youth and beauty go? They left without telling me. They crept quietly out of the back door while I was looking the other way.

Youth has little patience with age. It barely rests its wings on one idea before flitting off to the next excitement or adventure. There’s no time to step off the merry-go-round of youth to simply dwell, reflect or absorb. There’s no time for youth to settle its eyes on an old face and look past the exterior into the person beneath. I know this to be the truth because that’s how I behaved before I aged. I didn’t “do” aging because I hadn’t yet aged. But when I did, as we all must, the merry-go-round came to a standstill and the music stopped. Left alone without the distractions of youth, I had time to look deeper.

And when I looked deeper, much deeper into the eyes and the soul, I found the buried treasure that age bestows. Understanding, acceptance, patience, wisdom, from the benefit of hindsight.  Solid and immovable gems that blossom deep within which will not be erased by time. On the contrary they can shine brighter with the passage of years. I don’t think these gifts are always found, if we waste too much time clinging to the outer beauty and neglect the inner I think these gifts stay buried. Age is an inside job. It is also a gift denied to many. One of my closest friends recently passed away from cancer. She never quite made it to 50 leaving behind a lovely husband and beautiful son. Age is treasure and a privilege, not something to be spurned, feared or despised. It’s something to celebrate and be proud of.

Who says we have to look 30 when we’re 50 anyway? Why can’t we just proudly look our own version of 50 and love it. I’m not saying “give up” not in the slightest. Care for and nurture your human temple. Eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water and all those good things but accept and maybe even welcome, that despite the new expensive face cream or the juice cleanse or the yoga, that with each passing year we are going to look a little older and not a little younger. I’ve rejected any thoughts of face lifts, fillers or Botox. I intend to embrace age and rejoice in wrinkles. I intend to love and be grateful for the faded and sometimes slightly creaky exterior. I intend to turn inward to polish the interior treasures and beauties that age is generous enough to bestow. The next time you look at a woman and think “she must have been beautiful in her day” look closer, look deeper because she’s actually more beautiful now than ever before. She’s polishing her inner beauty and thankful for the gift of age.


Vegetable and White Bean Soup

What is it about soup that’s so deeply soothing, nourishing and warming. The gorgeous spices in this recipe definitely help. It’s a substantial soup that will keep you fully satisfied. The root vegetables and beans deliver plenty of nourishment and strength to the body. I made a HUGE pot of this today and hope it will keep us going for a little while. It actually tastes better the next day. Feel free to substitute your favorite root vegetables and alter the spices to ramp it up or calm it down depending on your preference. If you like, serve with some Parmesan dusted over the top and a slice or two of wholewheat toast drizzled with olive oil and lightly sprinkled with some sea salt.

Vegetable Soup.

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4-6 sticks of celery, finely chopped
4-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Harissa paste (optional)
2, 14oz cans cannellini beans
1, 24 oz can tomatoes
32 oz vegetable stock
1 bunch kale, stems removed and finely chopped
Zest of a lemon and 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

1. In a large pot heat the olive oil, add the onions and saute on a low flame until caramelized. This unfortunately can’t be rushed, be patient, give them a stir every now and then and wait until they are a deep golden.
2. Add the garlic, saute for 2 minutes or so, add the celery, carrots, oregano, cumin, pepper flakes and harissa paste if using. Add the beans, stir well to combine.
3. Add the stock, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Cook at a simmer until the vegetables are almost tender.
4. Add the chopped kale and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Add the lemon zest and a couple of tablespoons of juice. Stir well.
If possible allow the soup to sit for a while to set up, it will taste even better the next day.


My Favorite Granola Recipe.

Make this and I promise you’ll never buy granola again, there’s no point. It’s not only a snap to make but it’s totally delicious. And good for you. Put a huge jar of it on the kitchen counter to encourage guiltless snacking. Bag it up and give it to your nearest and dearest. There are so many granola recipes out there but this is by far my current favorite, there’s something about the combination of cherries and almonds. All six members of my family love this and I can promise you – that’s practically unheard of, in fact it may be a first.

This recipe a blueprint rather than anything too specific. There are lots substitutions if you prefer.

As far as nuts go try: walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews (yum), pecans, pistachios (yum yum).

Any of the following seeds would be fantastic: sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, chia,

Alternative flavorings: vanilla extract, almond extract, rosewater, orangeflower water, cinnamon, nutmeg,

Added crunchy treats: dried flaked coconut, dried banana slices,

As far as dried fruit is concerned the list is endless, (just make sure it’s unsulfured) here are a few:
raisins, cranberries, cherries, goji berries, acai berries, golden berries, blueberries, apricots.

Cherry, Almond Granola.

Ingredients:

4 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 1/2 cups of raw, organic almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup of organic canola oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon of best quality vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

1 1/2 cups of dried cherries

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to  300 F.
  2. Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds on a large baking sheet.
  3. In a bowl mix the oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt together.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and mix together thoroughly.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 – 40 minutes, with the timer set every 10 minutes at which point remove the granola from the oven, stir the ingredients around to make sure everything is cooking and browning consistently, then return to the oven.
  6. When you return it to the oven for the last 10 minutes, mix in the dried cherries. The granola is done when it’s lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.

See – easy!!

 


Favorite Halloween Links.

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Just one day left to Halloween. If you’re not ready yet here are a few gorgeous links to get you in the mood. I love the whole thing, not the really gory teenage boy stuff but the fun “pretty” stuff, like these gorgeously decorated pumpkins, aren’t they amazing. You can actually make these yourself, click on Suzy’s Sit Com and learn how.

Cupcakes and Cashmere offer a beautiful post showcasing some wonderful Halloween cocktails. I plan to start taste testing shortly.

I’m just swooning looking at these from Glorious Eats – simply beautiful.

Darker flower arrangement with texture for a more masculine feel or great for Halloween:

This bouquet is transformed from very nice but slightly ordinary to a Halloween showpiece with the simple addition of a candle skull, Found on countryliving.com.

Halloween decoration ideas, Halloween Door Decorations, Halloween decor, (26)

This porch is just about perfect don’t you think? I would be more than happy to settle down here with a cup of warm cider handing out the candy on the big night. Find some more gorgeous ideas on Home Inspiration

Best Halloween Movies. Have a Harry Potter marathon, no one does Halloween better than Hogwarts.

Centsational Girl shows us how to style our front steps. Perfect.

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Happy Halloween!



Kale Salad.

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Kale is a wonderful winter leafy green. A king of superfoods. This is my current favorite kale salad, the addition of golden peppers, toasted cashews and dried cherries all tossed in a luscious “creamy” dressing will probably make it one of your favorites too. The surprising secret to making a successful kale salad is “massage”. It’s essential to massage the leaves so the tough fibers break down and it becomes tender and flavorful. It may look like a lot of “green” to begin with but it wilts during the massage. Kale is known as the world’s healthiest leafy green. Just take a look at what the Huffington Post had to say about it. Enjoy this salad and you’ll feel and look better than ever, inside and out.

Kale Salad.

1 bunch of great looking kale
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small yellow pepper, diced
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup toasted cashews
1 tablespoon VegenaiseMethod:
1. Cut the stem out of the middle of the kale leaves. Wash the leaves thoroughly and dry.

2. Take 2-3 leaves at a time,  roll up tightly like a cigar and slice very thinly, place in a large serving bowl.

3. Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the kale and massage for 2-3 minutes. The kale will become bright green and break down.

4. Add the dried cherries, yellow pepper, toasted cashews and the vegenaise. Toss well and serve. YUM.