anxiety, mindfulness, organisation

Thursday’s Question

Thursday’s Question

Thursday is Question Day, so here is today’s question.

What is your favourite essential oil?

 

My Answer:

I have two faves.  Lavender and Wild Orange. I use DoTerra oils. I do not sell them but I appreciate the quality of their oils.

Lavender was my Nanna’s perfume. She wore Yardley Lavender every day. Even today, a half century she she passed away, the scent brings her back to me.

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Lavender has been used for centuries to relieve tension and insomnia. It is a most versatile oil and is a must in my house. Uses include:-

  • soothing skin – acne, razor burn, skin nourishment (masks, moisturiser)
  • cuticle care
  • deodorising the home – a few drops of oil in a spray bottle of water – blissful.
  • sleep promotion – add to the bath or diffuser
  • cooking – lavender cake -yum
  • easing stress and anxiety – apply topically (dilute with fractionated coconut oil) or diffuse

 

Wild Orange

Wild Orange is strongly scented oil. It has an immediate uplifting property that I really like, almost like it is energising the air. I love diffusing it in my office. It gives me the energy and focus to work on accomplishing my goals.

 

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So:

What is your favourite?  Please comment below, and don’t forget to say how you use your favourite oils to enhance your wellbeing and lifestyle.

 

 

 

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mindfulness, organisation

Christmas Memories

Christmas is an interesting time of year.

It seems to bring out the best and worst in people.  You see random acts of kindness and you see the most incomprehensible pieces of idiocy.  It puts a dent in one’s wallet but fills the heart with happiness as families come together to celebrate.

When one is very young, the time from one Christmas to the next seems so very long.  I can remember waiting and waiting for the November page to be torn from the calendar  – the signal that Christmas was just around the corner.

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Here in Australia Christmas is hot and often steamy, not the Christmas weather one sees depicted on Christmas cards.  These days Christmas lunch at my house consists of a variety of meats, some hot, some not, seafood and array of interesting salads. But my memory reminds me annually of the holiday seasons of my childhood.

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When my Nanna was alive, the whole family would arrive at her place for what she called a proper Christmas. On the way from our place to Nanna’s, Dad would call in at the ice works to buy some bags of ice. These would be used to fill the laundry tub into which the beer bottles (and some bottles of lemonade too) would be placed to chill.

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Nanna and my mother and aunties would spend the morning in the kitchen preparing baked ham, roast chickens (and once even a goose!), roast potatoes and other assorted vegetables and the most delicious gravy ever.  Nanna would have already made the mince pies, Christmas cake and the plum pudding complete with sixpences hidden in its yummy centre.  The men would arrange themselves on the verandah in squatter’s chairs with glasses of beer close to hand. My cousins and I would be left to climb the mango trees in the backyard in search of the treasured fruit or to add tinsel and handmade decorations to our treehouse.  The oldest of the boys would be set to work mowing a strip of grass in preparation for the post-lunch cricket match.

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At one o’clock, Nanna would tell my Uncle Herbie that dinner was ready. He would announce the good news to the rest of us by way of a piercing whistle.  Never have so many children moved so quickly!  The race to get a drumstick was a very serious event.  We were greeted by a table (two tables end to end actually) groaning with bounty….yummo….it was a sight to behold.  Nanna would stand at the head of the table, her face flushed from the heat of the day and the effort of cooking for the multitude, and say “We give thanks for all that we are able to enjoy this day. May God bless us this Christmas and in the new year with health and happiness, friends and family and love and laughter.  All these in abundance.”  To which we would chorus a hearty “AMEN”.

Christmas-Dinner

There wasn’t room for us kids at the table so we sat on the floor or on the stairs with our plates of goodies.  My brother would have Vegemite sandwiches. He was not an adventurous eater. Nanna tried every year to tempt him with some delicacy from the feast but he would never relent. “Vegemite sandwich please, Nan.”

When we had cleaned our plates we were allowed to distribute the gifts from under the Christmas tree.  I usually received some clothes, a book or a jigsaw puzzle and one of the items from the long list I had sent off to Santa.  There was usually a stocking with boiled lollies, noise makers and paper hats etc. as well.

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While we played with our new toys, the men of the family would clear the table and begin the washing up, while the ladies sorted the leftovers into bundles to be taken home.  Nanna would be told to put her feet up and relax.

Then the cricket match would begin. The usual backyard rules – over the fence is six and out etc.- applied and there were certain allowances made for the little kids.  One by one, the men would claim injury and retire to the verandah for a medicinal beer or spirit, and soon it was just us kids playing.  We played until the light did not allow us to see the ball. We kept ourselves hydrated by sucking on lumps of ice pinched from the laundry tub.

Finally we would all sit on the verandah and enjoy the mince pies and plum pudding served with custard.  My Uncle Harry always seemed to find the sixpence in his pudding. We were sure he slipped one out of his pocket and onto his plate.

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We would go home tired, laughing about the day’s events and our tummies full. We would sit in the back seat of the car surrounded by bags and baskets loaded with gifts and leftovers.

Every year as I decorate my home for the season, these memories flood back and I hope that my family go home on Christmas day filled with similar feelings. I hope that when they look back on our family Christmas celebrations they too will remember them fondly.

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We give thanks for all that we are able to enjoy this day. May God bless us this Christmas and in the new year with health and happiness, friends and family and love and laughter.  All these in abundance.

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anxiety, mindfulness, organisation, planning, productivity, yoga

Planned Calm for 2018

Endings and Beginnings:

Each year at this time it is usual to ponder the experiences of the last few months. The television is overrun by programs of retrospectives and the women’ magazines are full of “Your Stars for the New Year”.

My mind runs along several paths. Have I made any progress? What worked for me? What didn’t work? How did I deal with challenges? How do I want to move forward?

Have I made any Progress?

The biggest step forward for my husband and myself has been the completion of our new home. we signed the contract with the builders at about this time last year and finally moved in on November 8 this year.DSCN3736

There were times when we thought it would never be done. There were so many delays and glitches. It was, at times, a completely delightful process and, at other times, hair-searingly frustrating. But, now, as I sit in my lovely little office in the new house, I feel truly blessed to have such a peaceful and comfortable place to live and work.

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Personally, my progress has been medically assisted. In March I had a long (teary) chat with my doctor. I told her I was not coping. I had no idea why I was so worried and anxious about everything. She, God bless her, listened, helped mop up the tears, and helped me to understand that this was actually not a new thing for me. I had been living with Anxiety Disorder for years without realising that what I dealing with was not normal, everyday stress. Tests, medication and lessons in self care have led to a stronger me.

What Has/Hasn’t Worked for Me?

Writing this blog, researching how to take steps towards a calmer mental and emotional existence, has been really beneficial. My mind has not been in the right space to work on writing my children’s mysteries but I still needed something to work on. My mind needs order and routine to relax.

Basic yoga has helped my body to stretch and make the most of my breathing. I know now that when I feel myself tensing up, when my muscles start to feel tight, that I can ease those sensations by focussing inwards and settling into a series of yoga poses.

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Meditation does help and I am finding it easier to let myself “release” as I count my breaths and listen to whatever piece of music I have chosen to accompany my quiet moments. For me, sitting quietly in nature or silence doesn’t work. Silence sends my mind racing. I actually become more alert. The fight or flight thing kicks in really strongly. Not what I am trying to achieve at all.

Another big clean out also helped me. When we left Queensland for the move South, we had a major cull of our “stuff”. Just before we were able to move from the rental house to our brand new home, we did the sell, donate, toss again. It was wonderful. I felt as though the new beginning was really happening this time. My eyesight did suffer again as it did when we went through the clear out the first time. Exactly the same symptoms popped up, but this time I knew what was happening.

How Did I Handle Challenges?

So this time, I knew I had to stop, reflect, and breathe. What was I feeling? Where was I tensing up? How could I ease the tension? I told myself that as I created space by clearing away things we didn’t use or need, that I making room for new and wonderful things to come into our lives.

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How Do I Want to Move Forward?

It may not surprise you to know that I have my 2018 planners set up and ready for the pen. They look so beautiful it is almost a shame to desecrate them with my scribbles.

I have two planners – one for my personal day to day planning and another one for my author self. I have added a section in each planner for budgeting as this is an area I mean to keep a closer eye on in 2018. I feel organised both in my home and my mind. Phew!

I don’t want to confine myself to a rigid schedule but I like to have a plan to guide my forward steps. That way, when I am lacking in motivation or direction, the plan is my safety valve. It resets my mind and brings me back on track, thus restoring the calm.

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In recent weeks, my books have been selling strongly (yay! Christmas holiday reading!) and other exciting opportunities have also been negotiated – more on that as things progress. I have a lot to look forward to and I am ready to get back into my writing.

I wish you all Joy, Hope, and Peace for the Season and send you my very best wishes for a wonderful 2018.

 

anxiety, mindfulness, yoga

Planned Calm with Yoga #4

Calming Pose #4

Reclined Bound Angle Pose or Reclining Cobbler’s Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) 

Images: www.yogajournal.com   www.yogaoutlet.com    www.crystaltreeyoga.com

This is a deeply relaxing pose for mind, body, and spirit. It can be modified for any level of hip or groin resistance.  Ladies, this pose will be familiar to you as you will doubtless have assumed it for your OB/GYN examinations. (Although if you are anything like me, you may not have found it to be relaxing at those moments.) 

The Reclining Bound Angle Pose stretches the groin and inner thigh muscles promoting better blood flow to the pelvic area. This pose opens the chest and allows deeper breathing and oxygen flow and assists digestion.

Note:  This pose is not recommended for those with lower back or groin injuries. Pregnant ladies, please check with your doctor before using this pose.

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Let’s Do It:

Start by sitting with legs extended.

Bend the knees and draw heels back towards the pelvis.

Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to the sides.

Lean back using elbows for support and lower all the way to the floor.

Adjust your position so that your spine lengthens. Let your arms lie, relaxed, palms up.

Breathe naturally. Focus inwards. Feel the body become heavier and sink towards the floor. Hold the pose for 1 – 10 minutes. Relax into yourself. feel the energy flow through entire body.

To release – Draw knees up to centre and roll onto your right side. Gently press up to a sitting position. Breathe slowly for a few moments as your body adjusts.

Modify the Pose:

Support the head, chest and/or knees with pillows, cushions or blocks.

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Benefits:

Assists in lowering of blood pressure

Decreases heart rate

Relieves insomnia

Eases fatigue

Relieves anxiety/ panic attacks

Increases energy levels.

My Experience:

I have eased myself into the Reclining Bound Angle very gently. Some years ago I had a fall and, in order to avoid hitting my head on rocks, landed in a sitting position. This has caused some compression in my lower back area. I experience some sciatic pain and yoga has been very beneficial in easing that soreness.

I started with the Bound Angle pose and found it released my lower back and hips really well, thereby easing the sciatica.

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I moved gradually into the Reclined Bound Angle with the aid of bolsters and pillows. Now, I really enjoy the opening of the chest area and the flow of energy as well as the hip stretch.

P.S.  When I am in this pose, my dogs come and lie beside me. Maybe they can feel the energy flow too.

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Legal Disclaimer:  Before embarking on any fitness regimen you should consult your doctor for advice as to its suitability for your particular health concerns.

 

 

 

anxiety, mindfulness

Planned Calm with Reading

The Magic of Reading

If you ask anyone if it is important to read, they will say ‘What a stupid question – of course it is important to read. Everybody should know how to read.’

But there’s more to it than knowing HOW to read.

The great novelist, Stephen King, said ‘Books are a uniquely portable form of magic.’

 And what is the key to that form of magic? Reading.   Let’s think about why that is. What is magical about reading?

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Reading is a wonderful way to relax.

The University of Sussex has found that just a few minutes of reading can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds. Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis revealed that reading lowers stress levels by an amazing 68%. Compare that to the 21% achieved by playing video games and it is easy to see why we should be ensuring that we would be doing ourselves and our children a giant favour by adding reading into the daily routine.

Why?

Reading exercises the brain.

Researchers have found that being engrossed in a book enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function. They scanned people’s brains before, during and after a reading session. They found that the areas of the brain associated with language and comprehension light up when we read. Interestingly, those same areas stay lit up for some time after we stop reading. Our brains are processing and storing information and building understanding for several hours, even days sometimes, after we finish reading. Children who read often and widely become better readers, more fluent and more expressive, because their brains make connections more easily.

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Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind.

When we read our brains have to concentrate on the words, on the process of reading and that distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart. Isn’t that magical?

This is an important point. These days we seem to have forgotten how to relax and      especially how to be silent. When we have time to ourselves, we have a tendency to veg out in front of some sort of screen. I have to admit that I am guilty of this. It is actually quite stressful for our brains and can interfere with our sleeping. Reading, in silence, black print on a white page is much less stressful for our eyes and brains. That is why a bedtime story has always been such a good idea.

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Reading is a great form of entertainment.

Whatever your interest, there is a book about it. There are millions and millions of books easily available in a variety of forms.

A book doesn’t take up much space so you can take it anywhere. These days you carry thousands of books around easily with one of those eReaders.

Personally, I prefer the feel (and smell) of an actual book. I did, however, buy an eReader to take on holiday a couple of years ago. My husband found it and that was the end of that. He has now commandeered it as his own and carries it with him everywhere.

My mother used to say that you are never lonely or bored if you have a book to read. And she was right! You can read anywhere, anytime.

Recreational magic!

 

Reading improves concentration and focus.

We live in the information age. A fast-paced world where we are surrounded by gadgets feeding us words, data, statuses, links, ads and all sorts of other information that we cannot possibly process and digest. It can be an overwhelming situation, especially for children. But there is a solution – pick up a book.

Reading requires active engagement and concentration – it completely absorbs your mind. The more you train your mind to concentrate, the easier it becomes. Better concentration leads to clearer thinking.

Think about that. Reading aids in the retention of brain function as we age. We need that sort of magic.

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Planning for Calm

So as part of your daily routine plan some down time – plan a reading break. It will help in the calming process. Whether you like to read while enjoying an afternoon cup of tea, or for a few minutes before you drop off to sleep, reading will relax your mind and body.

And, please, include your children in the process. Those few minutes spent snuggled up with a child reading a favourite story will be so valuable – not only to their academic and emotional growth, but also to the lifelong bonds that are forged in those moments.

Here are some books your young readers might enjoy.

Reading is an amazing form of magic that we must not forget about in this highly charged world. Enjoy it – reap its benefits every day.

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