… Meditation – misconceptions

Meditation is sitting still with your eyes closed right? Uhm… maybe. It all depends on the person. If sitting still with your eyes closed means that you think about external situations then it’s not meditation. Meditation is a state of inwardness to reach Self and I know that sounds vague but fact is that meditation is very hard to define besides I don’t teach meditation (can anyone?) but I teach methods to induce the state of meditation.

Does this mean you have to sit still with your eyes closed and shut up your mind? Not at all, shutting up your mind is not meditation and good luck with that ;). For some people this would be their worst nightmare which wouldn’t be helpful at all. You can practise several methods of meditation when you’re walking, when you’re on a bus, cleaning, eating, in the gym, gardening, sitting, you name it. Meditation allows your mind (all the layers of it) to bring up stuff and give it space to be processed and the trick for you is to try to not dwell on the stuff that your mind brings to the surface but to just let it. You are observing your mind and acknowledging whatever comes up but also letting it go and moving on the next thing that your mind brings up. You’re making yourself aware of what is happening and allowing yourself to be ‘cleaning’ your mind. Most people will dwell on things that come up, I sure did and sometimes do, and if that happends that’s ok as long as when you are aware that you are following that thread that you go back to trying to let it go and let other things come up.

There are a lot of different meditation methods and the more methods you know doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s a good thing. One of my swamis once said: Dig a few shallow holes and then dig a deep one, don’t only dig shallow ones what is the point of that? That stuck with me. Yes definitely try different methods but when you find one or two you enjoy stick with them, practise those often. The more you practise the ‘easier’ turning inward will become which means you will reach the benefits of meditation (dealing with conflicts, letting go, improves focus and awareness, reduces blood pressure, joy, calm, inner peace to name a few) and when you don’t like those methods anymore or find it hard then find another one. Work with you and your mind, remember this is your journey and no one else’s.

I’ll end this writing with something Swami Satyananda Saraswati wrote:
Consider a calm, still lake in which is reflected a big full moon. The image of the moon looks real and if the real moon was not in the sky to remind us otherwise, many would mistake the reflection for the moon itself. The reflection cannot exist by itself, yet the moon can exist without reflection. It is the same with our personality. We see only the reflected personality and mistake it for our real nature without realizing that the personality manifesting at present is dependent on something deeper. To find our real Self is higher meditation.

Each type of journey that we make requires a vehicle. If we walk in the park then our legs assume this role. If we travel to the local town then we go by bus, train, or car. If we go to a country across the sea, we travel by ship or aeroplane. The journey into inner space also requires a vehicle, that vehicle is meditation.

 

Blessed Be Xx

Advertisements

… Dear men,

Thank you for not whistling at me when I walk past the building site where you work because you understand it is sexist, disrespectful, objectification, and it might make someone feel very very uncomfortable or even scared, instead you keep your thoughts to yourself or you approach me like a real man and try to have a converstation with me. Thank you for not trying to rub your hand (or whatever bodypart) against me when I stand at the bar waiting to be served because you understand it is assault and not OK to touch people without their consent besides you wouldn’t appreciate it if some random stranger would do that to you, instead you try to have an actual conversation with me. Thank you for not asking me if I have a husband followed up with the comment ‘you are a woman you know what I want’ because you realize it doesn’t matter if I have a husband or not since that comment confirmed that you are an absolute brainless asshat and I don’t want to have anything to do with you ever and you understand it’s not the way to approach someone even if you’d want to only have a fun night. Thank you for leaving me alone the first time when I ask you too because you know it’s harassment if you don’t and because you respect people’s limits and boundaries and you are aware you made someone uncomfortable and regret having done that. Thank you for giving me the credit I deserve for the hard work I did because you know how much hard work it took, how much appreciation means to people, because it’s only fair, and you’re a strong man being comfortable and proud that someone else is doing a good job.

 

Now the serious thank you since I am sure you realize I was being sarcastic.

 

Dear real men,

Thank you for keeping an eye on me when someone is being pushy because you know I can stand up for myself and I need to be able to stand my ground so that I am able to trust myself and stay within my power and rights but you also know if for any reason I am not able to do so you are there to support me. Thank you for the compliments and non-sexist/non-racist/non-discriminative comments because you understand that the world we live in isn’t an easy one for a lot of people wether they’re women, disabled, gay, transgender, poor, rich, immigrants, men, or have another skin colour than you and you want to make this world a better place by being the best and kind person you can be to anyone.

 

Lots of people are abused every day, not only physically but mentally and abuse is often analyzed away by people saying things like oh well he didn’t mean that or she is having a bad day or you should just walk away and ignore that or that wasn’t meant for me, I just need to let it go etc etc. Sometimes people don’t even realize they are being abusive because things they do are fun for them but they don’t think about how it affect the other person. Abuse happends often (not always) because of lack of education. Please parents, uncles, aunties, nephews, nieces, cousins, sisters, brothers, friends, schools, communities, businesses, youth clubs, politicians, sport clubs, famous people, basically everyone, educate when you see people being abused, being bullied, being abusive, or bullying. Please everyone who is being abused/bullied even if it looks insignificant, do speak up!!! Change isn’t going to happen if you’re silent, your voice deserves to be heard because these actions are significant to you and you matter. Please know you are not alone and there are people out there who will help you but sometimes you do need to ask for help. We might be different from each other but that doesn’t mean someone else is better than you. We’re all human beings and we all have equal rights.

Everything at the top of this post has happened to people around me or to me and I am appalled by certain behaviour and how easily things are accepted in society. Luckily I am a strong person and can hold my ground but there are others who can’t and we need to look out for those people and educate people who are unaware of the impact their actions can have on others.

 

Change starts with you. Let’s make this world a better place shall we?

 

Blessed be Xx

 

 

 

 

Please note: I am writing dear men because this is from my perspective. You can change it to whatever is applicable to you.

… Vote!

I’ve not voted once in my life, I sometimes wasn’t able to due to travelling, not having an address, but when I was able to it was often a very conscious choice. I am very aware that writing that sentence will awake frustration in a lot of people. But let me inform you why first before you voice your frustration about non-voters, it’s often frustrating for non-voters too.

Politics baffles me. In these modern times it’s still a very old system in certain countries. You hear a lot of people on TV and media saying when you don’t vote you let others vote for you. I disagree, I don’t understand why it’s not recognized as a warning sign, well maybe it is recognized as a warning sign but what actions are taken to help people make informed choices. Governments know how many people should be voting and they know how many people have voted. If there is a big number not voting, shouldn’t that be taken into account in decisions? Shouldn’t people realize: Ok we have this many voters and this many non voters, why haven’t people voted (and here comes the big one….drum roll….) and what can we do about that?

One thing I don’t understand is why there isn’t a website or paper made by the government or neutral body with all the objective information you need to vote, all in one place. A website and/or paper where parties are properly outlined, easy to compare them, with politician profiles so you can actually see what people have done and are doing for people and country. Isn’t that something that should be provided? Easy to access proper information about what is happening with campaigns and back up plans? It will be a lot of information easily accessible so you don’t have to look in a hundred different places. Let’s take Brexit for an example and let’s face it, this weird spur of the moment thing is a fiasco. It still baffles me that it has gone through without people even knowing what they actually voted for (some people didn’t even know what Europe is and those people voted…), no one knows what it really is, they got a YES vote and are now figuring out the details, shouldn’t that have been done before? Shouldn’t people have been informed properly what would (and will, no lies please) happen in every way when people vote yes or no? This is an issue that is happening with every election or referendum. Lack of proper objective information or lack of knowing where to find information easily.

‘Vote’ is what you hear on commercials on Youtube and TV. Ok… for who? When I google who to vote for a quiz comes up, yay a quiz who doesn’t like a quiz? But my heart sinks when there are questions such as: Income tax on people earning over £80,000 a year should be increased to help pay for essential services. Hmmm. What kind of question is that? Where is the information so I can make an informed choice? How much would it be raised? Maybe I think yes it should but not too much, or maybe I think how much tax do those people pay anyway I don’t know I don’t earn that much and I don’t know how much tax I could pay without losing so much money it isn’t worth working that hard for and earning it because I need to hand most of it in. Hard working people who don’t harm others (!!!) deserve their money in my opinion (unfortunately there are jobs where people work their butts off and not earn as much as they should which is unfair). Yes, those fortunate people can miss a little bit more but they have worked for it so they should be able to keep and enjoy a little bit more too. Balance. (I’m not going to give my opinion about people who earn a ridiculous amount of money without doing much just because they know the ‘right’ people, maybe another time on another post 😉 Oh and you can argue if a person really needs millions or even a bonus of 100.000 pounds to live a nice life and if a decent minimum and maximum salary might be an idea for certain jobs so money get to go back into the country and to the people. Fucking bloody money, excuse my language, who invented that shit? ;)). Anyway, so those kind of questions put me off a ‘who to vote for’ quiz. It doesn’t inform me properly end of. It’s up to me to find that information then isn’t it but is it? Isn’t it a duty to the people from government to make it easy to find necessary information to make an informed choice? I’m someone who loses interest in politics easily because I don’t have a lot of faith anymore in the people you hear about, there is a lot of finger pointing, big egos, and all I can think is really? These are the people that think they earn my vote? These are the people who run a country? Really? I should vote because I don’t want those people to run the country but I have no clue who to vote for and there you have it. I’m lost somewhere in the middle not far right and not far left but in the middle… I think it’s a busy place over there.

I am sad because I do care and I want to vote but I am too lost and I am not sure how to find my way again. It takes time to read up on the parties and frankly (this is a very sad thing to say) my time is too precious which I know sounds ridiculous but it is how I feel. I know but it is what happends when I see a vote quiz, think yay, start the quiz, my heart sinks when I see questions that are not complete, my interest is lost. But I have a life as do most people. I don’t have time or want to to spend hours and hours trying to find objective information about who to vote for. After a little while I try again, finding a few websites written by papers… hang on… papers aren’t often objective are they (is media in general these days ever objective)? They should be but aren’t. Can I trust it? Can I trust the websites the parties wrote? Can I trust the parties, will they do what they say they’ll do even though the past has shown that people lie to get where they want to be? Trust is not there anymore…

I’m aware that this all might sound as excuses to not vote, maybe it sounds as if I am a lazy git. But I genuinely don’t want to vote for parties I don’t trust. There are a few people I like but when I look at the whole party I’m not sure if I like what I see, I am not sure if I vote for that person the whole party will support that person and do what they told me they would do, I am not sure if parties have the interest of people and country really at heart. Egos are so big, where is kindness and where is maturity? You can’t run a country only with your mind you do need a heart too and vice versa. Where is the balance? It’s a big issue and it’s a big reason why I don’t vote (yet).

People tell me others fought hard for the right to vote and I should vote. Yes those amazing people did and I am very grateful for them but you forget… those fabulous people fought for the right to vote. It is still my right to make the choice to not vote. Am I happy about it? Of course not.

I live my life in a way I hope inspire others, I try to be the change I want to see in the world which is never easy but often necessary. At least that is something I  and you can do for people and planet. Easy isn’t always the right way. I hope parties are going to do the same so one day I am able to vote and be happy about it, supporting my choice 90 to 100%. At the moment I am between 40 and 60% (which means 40 to 60% question marks) which to me isn’t enough to vote.

You might not agree and that’s absolutely fine, that’s your opinion and this is mine. I only want to give some insight why people might not vote, these are some of my reasons.

 

Blessed be Xx

 

Note: I only learned recently how to voice this after a conversation with a dear friend who I can talk to about anything without being judged (thank you). People are getting scared to voice their opinions about a lot of things which is a very sad thing. I can only hope people are becoming more aware of the reasons why people do the things they do instead of finger pointing. I hope people return to be human beings wanting to listen to others in a respectful way without judgement and wanting to help each other to make this beautiful place also a beautiful place to live for everyone.

Review: Herbology diploma course at RBGE

Think of the scenes in Harry Potter where they’re in the greenhouse repotting mandrakes or when they are making potions. That’s the feeling the Herbology room gave me the first time I walked in… and the second… and third. Now when I walk into the room that feeling is even stronger but it’s also mixed with gratitude and love. A lot of beautiful memories are created there which I will cherish forever.

Finally I am ready to write the Herbology diploma course review. I guess I didn’t want to say goodbye to this part of my life which is why I’ve not picked up my course work until a few weeks ago. This course has given me so much but as with everything there is always room for improvement. I divided this review into the subjects and give you my experience of them and what could be improved. Hopefully it’s helpful! The duration of the course has changed, when I followed it students had 1 year to finish the course as in started in September and graduating in September. Most of the work had to be done by June. It changed from 1 year to 18 months which is a good thing considering the amount of work. If you don’t have that time but do want to learn more about herbs RBGE runs an Herbology certificate course as well.

Herbal Journal + Herbal Journal assignments
During the course you have to keep a herbal journal of your herbal experiences/research/findings, it’s a diary of your herbal journey. Everyone has their own way of doing it, I used a small notebook and lots of pictures, others prefer to write a lot, others like a big notebook. You are given the freedom to create your journal. With the herbal journal come 12 herbal journal assignments. These are great to dive into a subject (for example digestive herbs) and research the topic. You will learn a lot from them but what I found difficult was that RBGE didn’t give a word count. The problem is because it’s so interesting you could keep writing about the topics so that’s one thing that could be improved. Also 12 assignments was a lot to do in a year, I’m not sure how it’s divided now but if you have 18 months for them you should be able to keep up.

Herbarium
I didn’t expect it but I absolutely loved creating my own herbarium. You’ll visit the herbarium at RBGE and get a demonstration what tools to use and how to mount dried herbs. You’ll learn how to press plants and how to dry them. RBGE has a video about mounting herbs on Youtube you can view which could be useful. Our group had to dry and mount 12 specimens in the year and choose one herb to preserve in Copenhagen solution (alcohol and water mixture). For all specimens you have to write a monograph to accompany the herb. It’s a lot of work and you do have to start fairly early if you don’t want to have to do 10 specimens all in spring. Plan ahead! When I went for a walk I almost always had paper and trowel with me in case I came across plants I could press, you can always press more plants than you need. That way you can choose your best specimens at the end of the year.

Pharmacopoeia
If you like healing and recipes this is the subject for you! Basically… every student in my year enjoyed the green remedy classes, what’s not to love about classes that teach you how to use herbs preserving as much medicinal properties as possible. During the year you’ll have to create your pharmacopoeia aka recipe book of the remedies you made. This can include the remedies you learn about in class (balms/soaps/syrups/tinctures/creams) or only remedies you create yourself. Include the steps you took (pictures are great) and describe what went well and what you would do different next time you’ll make the remedy. At the end of the year you will be assessed on remedy making. You will be making a remedy from one or a few of the herbs you grew in your plot. I loved that assessment! We were split into two groups and you’re just doing what you love doing with the herbs you grew, explaining what you’re creating to Catherine (course director and tutor!), and when you’re done you’ll share the knowledge with the whole group, all like minded people who have walked along with you on your journey.

Some classes could be improved for example the chocolate class. During the chocolate class we melted pre-made chocolate and used that to make ganache and create chocolate bonbons with herbs. I enjoyed it but it would have been great to learn how to make chocolate from scratch working with the beans and to spend more time learning about the healing properties of chocolate. Perhaps it would have been fine if it was a morning class, but to spend a whole day on making chocolate when you’re not learning from scratch seemed like a waste of an afternoon.

Ecology
For ecology we had to visit a place in nature and write a profile for 3 plants you came across and you had the option to choose to write about an existing conservation project in that area or write about phenology regarding that area. Good news… it had a word count! I enjoyed picking an area and exploring, great to explore a new place and practise identification skills! I would have liked to pick phenology but I felt I didn’t know enough about it to include it in my project and finish on time.

Ethnomedica
An interesting project which also had a word count. We had to find someone who could tell us about a herb used for healing, interview them, and write down our findings and include a plant profile of the plant you learned about. I was lucky that my dad used tobacco to create a remedy for farm animals so he was my ‘victim’. If you don’t know anyone it might be tricky to find someone however people all over the world know a few stories. Use your local knowledge (who knows what interesting characters you find in an elderly home) or email that person you read about, never try never know right?

Garden Design
A choice between designing a garden for Lauriston Castle or designing a garden for the Botanic Cottage in RBGE. I choose to design a garden for Lauriston Castle after having visited it with Herbology. A project I thought I wouldn’t like but the opposite happened and the end result will hang on a wall in my home at some point (when I have wall ha!). You have to write plant profiles, design the garden, and write about how you can use the garden for educational purposes.

Physic garden
This is the part where you have the freedom to grow the herbs you like/want to know more about at RBGE. You receive a plot and are free (there are some rules but not many) to pick a theme, choose herbs, design your bed, and put knowledge into practise and learn. You’ll need to have a proposal (theme/herbs) that has to be approved around December (this might have changed), you have to keep a garden journal, and write plant profiles about the herbs you’re growing (this is included in one of the herbal assignments).

I absolutely loved it! But… there was a point in time where I was incredibly frustrated with how RBGE managed the process. At the end of October we all received our plots and put a lot of effort into making it winter ready. Some of us (including me) wanted to try green manure and we planted that so we would see how it would impact the plot. We also took measures to protect the plants we inherited from the previous year. Unfortunately we got news that some of our plots would be levelled in January because of the newly built Botanic cottage which meant some of the plants we inherited had to be taken out of the plots and we would lose the green manure experiment. My plot was one of the most affected plots. RBGE assured our plots would look exactly the same as they did before they started the work, they took pictures of the plots which was reassuring. When we received our plots back they didn’t look like anything they did before, they were in an awful state (I have pictures of the before and after). After putting a lot of thought, love, and work into the plots to see them in such a state understandably made my heart sink. We were the ones who had to put hard work in again to make it in an ok state, a big thanks to Catherine who picked up a fork and helped me with my plot, I think that says a lot about her. Also when we received our plants back from RBGE, the plants weren’t the same specimens RBGE took out and some plants were even lost. RBGE did provide other plants for the lost ones but how is it possible to lose plants? What also surprised me was that the people who run Herbology didn’t seem to have a lot of say in the overall process and it gave me the impression that RBGE doesn’t regard Herbology as highly as Herbology deserves.

You will get a budget to order seeds but all the students on my course bought plants to put into the plots as well (after having them in quarentaine), and we were told we would be able to take them home at the end of the year. Unfortunately that didn’t happen as there was a biosecurity issue throughout Scotland at that time. Lovely Senga offered to provide cuttings from the plants which was a nice offer but I asked RBGE for a refund; cuttings aren’t the same as a proper plant you put in and spent money on. I’ll receive a refund but it would have been great if RBGE took responsibility and would have contacted us individually about how much money we spent and organized refunds instead of students asking. Anyway for the next year(s) you won’t be able to bring plants in due to the the on-going biosecuitry issue, you can only use the plants that are in the botanics already and/or you grow herbs from seed.

The points I mentioned above were annoying but they were easily put into the back of my mind and often totally forgotten when I arrived at my plot and got to be creative, think about the herbs, see them grow, really get to know them, see what works and what doesn’t, and have amazing people share their knowledge and help you out when you get stuck. This has been a very big learning curve and it has been very magical. To me it doesn’t get much better than being outside working with the earth and getting to know plants. I learned so much and I loved it.

Dissertation
Yes you do have to write a dissertation which has a word count of 5000 words, so it’s more like a big assignment (although I have to admit some of my assignments contained more words than my dissertation… that’s what happens when you love a subject). You can pick any topic you want to write about (Herbology advises you to ask a question which you explore in the content) but you do need to get it approved before you start, just to make sure you’re not wasting your time. Pick something that’s not too difficult
to research and make it interesting!

Improvement points/tips
The schedule could be adjusted in a more efficient way. For example it would have been great if we had the tincture class with Beth and Ali earlier in the year so we could have experimented making more interesting and effective tinctures.
Personally I was disappointed with how deadlines are treated, deadlines exist to keep people on track and I got the feeling deadlines weren’t treated as they should (to be fair a lot of us had a rough year with lots going on and I am not sure Herbology could have done more to help them out). I felt management was too loose with them which made the course harder because assignments kept bulking up for some students. At the beginning of the year we got a table that broke-down how the course would be marked including how deadlines would be treated. I didn’t see that table represented at the end of the year which was a bit dissappointing. Why give it out if it’s not being taken that seriously and deadlines are extended a lot of the time without affecting marks? I don’t think that’s fair to the people who do keep track of the work because those people simply didn’t get the same amount of time to put into assignments as others and I do believe marks should be affected (exceptions obviously exist). I don’t mean to sound too aggressive on this point, however we are talking about a diploma course which management would like to get to academic level.

The course is a lot of work and my advice to you is keep up with it and don’t wait too long with starting Pharmacopoeia, Garden Design, and Herbarium. Basically when you receive assignments and projects start them, you will need the time. When you need to pick something for the course, pick something that’s healing (obviously). I picked a Witch’s theme for my plot and although it was different and I loved it, if I could do it again I would pick something else which is more easily linked to healing herbs such as ayurvedic garden, vulnerary garden, healing herbs of the mint family, healing herbs for arthritis, herbs that benefit the liver. Don’t make it hard for yourself because you have enough work to do 😉 You will have 1-2-1s during the year and be honest if you are struggling with something, there is always someone who is able to help you out or point you in the right direction. 1-2-1s are there to get feedback and give feedback, use that time and ask questions.

Some things have changed now and there is an online version of the course (look on the RBGE website for course information) but again it will be a lot of work,  don’t underestimate it. I was lucky to have enough time to focus on it, not everyone on my course was. Most of us finished on time but some lovelies weren’t able to because of the amount of work, Herbology gave them an extension which is great. Again, the timeframe has changed which should enable you to finish it on time.

All the tutors on the course are aboslutely amazing and I loved all the classes, I really did. From the less nice things that happened during the year I described all the tutors have done their best to assist and make the best out of those situations. In some ways I am disappointed in RBGE but having said that the tutors were always there if you wanted to have a chat (although it could be a challenge to get a time that would suit both due to busy schedules).

 

All in all if you’d ask me would you do it again I would say: Definitely as long as the plots aren’t medled with 😉 It’s an amazing course to do and you’ll get a lot out of it wether you choose to continue studying Herbalism or wether you will use the knowledge for yourself and your loved ones.

 

Blessed be Xx

… Touch deprived

This post if about touch showing love, affection, and care. Non consensual touch is ALWAYS wrong.

 

Sex is a big difference between being just friends or being more. You can be more for one night or you can be more for a few days, weeks, months, years and go back to being friends (yes it is possible as long as you’re adults about it and don’t let others opinions get in the way) or you can be more for the rest of your life. Brilliant. So why is it that there is such a stigma about having sex with different people when you’re single? People in HEALTHY long term relationships can’t speak here no offense but you probably don’t know (anymore) what it is to not get intimately touched regularly. If you are a girl and enjoy sex with different partners you’re quickly called a slut if you’re a guy a lot of people say good for you or call you a player or womanizer. People judge straight away not even thinking why people seek intimacy even if it’s for one night. Do you know their story? Why be so judgemental? When people are unattached what is so wrong about seeking company and affection of someone who seeks company and affection and is single too? Even if you’re not single but are in a relationship where both parties are ok with each other having more partners and communicate to everyone involved clearly what they are looking for then why should others be judgemental? That it wouldn’t work for you or me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work for everyone. There are so many people walking this planet who grew up with different morals, different culture, and different views what is the harm when they are not harming others?

I’ve been single for 6 years now and I have had some intimate nights with different people. You can do two things when you read this: judge me straight away or put yourself in my shoes. For one it’s hard for me to meet people and even when I meet someone most guys want children which isn’t what I want so I am very selective for who I let my walls down even if it’s for one or two nights. Hey I am not just letting anyone close I do have some standards thanks very much 😉 Sure I’ve had a few intimate nights but not many especially not many when you compare it to someone who has been in a healthy relationship for 6 years or even 1. Imagine the hugs and kisses I and a lot of others are missing out on and that’s exactly what’s really hard at least for me. Of course I want someone in my life who sweeps me of my feet, who loves me and I him, sharing experiences, build memories together, and share life but that’s not the hardest part because I get a lot out of my relationships with my friends and family. Intimacy is missing and I’m not getting touched enough. Lucky me I have a few great friends who know the power of touch and don’t shy away from giving me a tight hug where I can feel their love seeping into me. It’s great but it is not enough though… not for me. I am intimately touch deprived and that’s not something a vibrator can fix so yes sometimes when I have the right mindset I do look for someone who’s looking for intimacy too. Sometimes it works out great, sometimes it doesn’t. Sex and one night stands often aren’t ‘easy’. Feelings are always there and they can really mess with people especially when both parties aren’t clear on what it is they want.

When babies don’t get touched enough they die. That says a lot about the human race doesn’t it? If babies die from not getting enough touch is it strange to think children and adults can get depressed from not getting enough touch? I don’t think that’s strange at all and it makes sense to me that people seek touch when they aren’t getting touched regularly. A lot of humans are touch deprived but have no idea they are and how could they? It’s not something that’s talked about is it? I wonder why touch is such a touchy subject to a lot of people. When you’re a child you’re touched by your mum and dad and family and friends by being stroked on the back or hugged or kissed and sometimes even a slap. It shows affection and care. Yes sometimes even a slap can show that (I’m not saying it’s right). For a lot of people the amount of touch declines when getting older. Why?

Conditioning and communication. Whoopdiewhoo here we go again. There is the culprit and the tool that could save a lot of heartbreak. We’re conditioned through years and years by religion, parents, family, and friends about what is right and what is wrong. Can you think about subjects without letting anything else interfere? When is something wrong? It’s hard to not let your views get in the way of answering that isn’t it? Try and make up your own mind but be aware what you think might not be what others think.

Communication isn’t taught properly at least not when I was in school and not in my childhood. Let me be very clear I am not blaming or pointing fingers because the people who don’t teach their pupils, students, or children probably don’t know either how to communicate when certain issues arise let alone explain to others how to tackle communication. Bloody hell some situations are bloody difficult! It’s not easy to communicate clearly but really we could all be clearer couldn’t we? If two (or more) single people get together it would be a huge help to know what it is the other wants right? Wether that’s ‘just’ sex for one night, a few nights, or a few dates to see where it could go, a relationship, children, or marriage it would be very helpful to not let your own mind roam free with lots of thoughts where things could go when it’s not at all what the other person wants. This doesn’t only apply to intimate relationships. How amazing would it be if everyone would be comfortable asking for a hug when they need it and aren’t looked down upon or are looking down upon themselves because they’ve been told asking for a hug is weak and they believe that? How amazing would it be if people know how to help others when they’re having a break down? How amazing would it be if people are comfortable to ask others for help or touch when they need it? Showing emotion and affection is something that’s been surpressed in the ‘modern’ world. People who express their feelings, show their emotion, and/or affection are sometimes even viewed as weak. That baffles me… hello we are human BEINGS not robots. It’s not like we’re at war fighting with swords staring our enemy in the eye and start crying before we stab. This is daily life I’m talking about. Emotion is what makes everyone unique, it’s what makes people strong, and it’s what makes us human.

 

People have such a distorted view of touch, affection, and sex. Let’s try to not be so judgemental, let’s try to communicate clearly, and most of all let’s be human.

 

Blessed be Xx

… Sugar Yay or Nay?

There are so many myths and ridiculous things going round about sugar it can be tricky to know what’s right and what’s wrong so I will give you some of the basics which will hopefully help you to make up your mind.

The question is sugar bad for you is not easily answered with a yes or no. It depends on certain factors for example what kind of sugar and how much do you take?

The body converts certain carbohydrates into glucose which is a sugar. I hear people say carbs are bad for you which isn’t necessarily true. Again it depends on what kind of carbs and how much you consume. Fact is that your body needs carbs. Carbs are converted into glucose (or is converted into glucogen and stored in the muscles and liver) and are the main source of energy and you need energy to function right? Without energy you can’t do anything so your body needs carbs (mainly in the morning makes sense when you’re starting your day and need energy to fuel you through the day). Keep in mind your body needs vitamins and minerals to be able to release energy. There is no set value for carb intake it depends per person although the rule of thumb is your diet should exist of 50% to 60% of carbs. This means 50% to 60% of the intake for someone your size, your health, and activity level. This can be calculated but I’m not going into that now, if you want to know more use Google or find a registered dietician or nutritionist to help you out. Are you active then you probably need more and if you’re not then you need less. There are three basic types of carbs: simple carbs (for example fruit, biscuits, cakes, soft drinks), complex carbs or starch (for example whole grain rice, sweet potatoes, pulses, fresh and frozen vegetables, quinoa, whole grains, white bread, white pasta, cake, pastries, white rice), and non-starch polysaccharides or fibre which isn’t converted into energy but assists the body in transportation of foods through the digestive system. Simple and complex carbs can be divided into unrefined (which means natural these are your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses etc) and refined (man-made or processed such as pasta, breads, pastries, cakes, biscuits etc). Unrefined carbs contain fructose and glucose (sugars), vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals (plant compounds which benefit the body by preventing disease), fibre, and trace amino acids (protein). Refined carbs contain nothing of these instead contain often excessive sugar amounts, low quality fats, and can affect insulin levels in a negative way. Refined carbs are sometimes called anti-nutrient. Which of those do you think is better for your body? I let you decide which carbs are good for you and which ones aren’t.

So we concluded your body needs sugars because it converts into energy. This doesn’t mean all types of sugar is good for you. Sugars made out of glucose molecules can be used by the body straight away or stored in the liver as glycogen (great) or when there is excess it is converted into fat, galactose molucles are converted into glucose (or glycogen) by the liver, and fructose is converted into glucose or stored as fat. There are other types of sugars containing two sugar molecules such as sucrose (glucose and fructose), lactose (glucose and galactose), and maltose (glucose and glucose). When sugar is stored as fat it isn’t converted back into glucose it will stay stored as fat. Fat also provides energy but it is a much slower process and your body will always use glucose first and only moves to fat (and later proteins) when there is almost to none glucose left. How quickly are certain carbs processed by your body providing glucose you need? You can use the Glycemic Index (GI) to look that up. The quicker it’s broken down the higher the rating (up to 100) the slower it’s released the lower the rating (0). Which one do you want? Low, medium, or high? It depends on your health and activity you can use the knowledge to play with it (as long as you’re healthy). High glycemic foods release energy quicker so that could be ideal just before you go for a quick run or if you need energy quickly during a run. Medium to low glycemic foods release slowly which is beneficial if you want a steady energy supply throughout the day. Low GI foods help to control your appetite and causes a smaller rise in blood sugar which means the drop is much less than when you consume high GI foods. If you eat lots of high GI foods your blood sugar levels peak and drop a lot which can make you very tired which can lead to other things such as not able to concentrate.

Let’s have a look at a few sugars. White granulated sugar (refined sugar, the molasses are processed out of the sugar which is why it’s not brown anymore) consists of almost pure sucrose and has nothing else that’s healthy in it and is even inflammatory (all refined sugars are inflammatory, it stimulates production of cytokines which causes inflammation). Don’t make the mistake of thinking brown sugar is unrefined… it’s refined because it’s white sugar with the molasses processed back into it. I know right? I have no words for that…. Anyway moving on. Raw or organic cane sugar contains minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and sucrose. Which one would you choose?

There are a lot of other options to sweeten foods or drinks without using table sugar for instance honey. It is natural (unrefined), contains vitamins, minrals, fructose, and glucose (how much of each depends on the honey and some might contain sucrose and maltose). Another one is stevia. The plant contains carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins A and C. It’s extremely sweet so you don’t need much of it. Unfortunately when it’s refined these nutrients are processed out of it. Then there are artificial sweeteners which are obviously refined. STAY AWAY FROM THEM! That’s my opinion. Why? They’re addictive by stimulating sensitive areas in the brain and are linked to different health issues for example high blood pressure, depression, reduction red blood cells, and headaches. Examples of these are aspartame (often hiding as E951), sucralose (E995), acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium (E950), and saccharin (E954).

 

Does that mean you should only eat unrefined foods? Everyone needs a treat once in a while and for someone that can be an apple for someone else it’s cake for someone else it’s pizza for someone else it depends on mood and so on. Moderation is key here. Your daily diet should consists mostly of unrefined foods if you want to live a healthy life. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a treat once in a while.

To me it makes total sense that a body recognizes natural substances and is able to use that substance efficiently. When something not natural but man-made is consumed the body needs more time to figure out what it is and what it is supposed to do with it. In doubt who knows where those substances go to. Some will become fats that are stored in or around the organs or veins causing disease others might become free radicals causing disease… not something I want to do to myself I like being healthy thanks very much.

 

Sugar yay or nay? I hope I gave you some knowledge to make up your own mind about that one.

 

Blessed Be  Xx

… Ode to Advent Running

2016… what a year! People wanted change and they got it now let’s hope it’s going to be a good change. It’s not been the best year for me but the good things that have happened… wow. I finished Herbology with a distinction (I will write about it I promise I’m just not ready to say goodbye to it just yet), became a personal trainer, gained a niece, really started to teach yoga, and I met a lot of sparkly souls which brings me to Advent Running.

My friend added me to the Facebook group after explaining Advent Running isn’t only for runners it’s for everyone who exercises (wether that’s running, yoga, swimming, cycling, weights, pilates, plodding – yes it is a thing, you name it) and want to join the challenge of exercising 30 minutes every day in December until the 25th of December. The idea is to spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day on yourself and your health. Especially in December people forget to take time for themselves and this challenge is perfect for the festive season. Is it easy? That depends totally on you but I don’t think anyone has found it easy it’s a challenge especially in December. I didn’t find it easy but it has been very inspiring and so much fun.

There I was in a group with mostly runners. I read some of the posts before introducing myself and found out there was something else going on: run for sprouts or run from sprouts! You could even order a red advent running t-shirt (run from sprouts) or a green one (run for sprouts). Brilliant! All the posts I read were about people running, swimming, pilates, yoga, but most of all it struck me how supportive people were no matter if you were running 5k, 10k, a marathon, an ultra, or were cycling, or spinning, or doing yoga, etc. Amazing.

I decided I was going to do yoga for the challenge and dedicated 30 to 50 minutes to Surya Namaskara (sun salutations) every day. I introduced myself and got lovely responses straight away. Every day I posted a picture of an asana or funny pictures of the cat or quotes. My days were mostly spent on doing yoga and reading through posts, commenting on some, responding to replies on my posts, laughing at pictures and peoples funny stories and sprout jokes, reading inspiring stories, looking at beautiful photos, being wow-ed by peoples strava maps that looked like christmas decorations, being supportive to people who got injured or were struggling to exercise, and even cry once in a while because when you’re in a group and you’re active in it you get a glimpse of their life and life isn’t always fun…

You don’t have to post at all and of course you can do the challenge by yourself without the group but being in the group can really help you (or kick your ass) when you’re not that motivated or are struggling or are injured and you can help others too and that’s what I loved. The people in the group really make it super special and who knows you might even meet amazing people who become friends. One thing though… if you think you still see friends posts on your Facebook newsfeed forget it, it’s filled with Advent Running fun!

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in Advent Running and a big thank you to the people organizing it. I absolutely loved being part of your group this year and I will be there again in 2017. To everyone who shared their stories and photos, has been supportive, and made me laugh and cry: Yous are awesome sparkly souls don’t ever change!

This has been a really nice way to start the ending of 2016. Who knows… maybe next year I’ll be running (most likely plodding ;)) for sprouts! Don’t count on it though 😉

 

Happy 2017 and blessed be Xx