I have found solace in the hills my whole life. I was very fortunate to have a Dad who instilled his love of nature and the hills in me at a very young age. Whether it was accompanying him as he worked as a vet in Upper Deeside, attending 'Deer Society' meetings held at a number of estates across the Cairngorms, walking up Ben Macdhui in pea soup fog or celebrating my 10th birthday walking the Lairig Ghru (Lairig an Laoigh for my 11th birthday!) the love and respect of the outdoors was nurtured and developed. I went on to share this with my own children and now delight in watching my grandchildren being introduced to the outdoors and our Scottish hills (one grandson has been up several Munroes and he is only 18 months old!).
There are so many studies now sharing what many of us have known all along, that fresh air, beng closeto nature and exercising in the outdoors brings all sorts of health benefits. It's easy to get caught up in day to day deadlines, worries and routine but what about making getting outside part of that daily routine? Setting aside some 'me' time every day to nurture the most special person in the world. Yes, that's you! Treat yourself as you would treat your very best friend, or the most important person in your life. It isn't easy! In the past, I would find myself in a hole and not know how to get out of it, especially in the winter months. Over time I built up a range of tools for my toolbox (the constant reference to my toolbox in these blog posts is intentional in the hope that it will prompt you to create your own toolbox). So this week when I realised that I had been hijacked by my diary yet again, I made sure that I finished work on time and headed for Bennachie! I am sooooo fortunate to have this beautiful hill right on my doorstep. There are several summits and starting points, leading to an infinite number of routes for walking, running (I met mountain bikers hurtling down when I was there this week!) and exploring. I still find new neuks and crannies every time I go there. A perfect way to nurture and look after myself. You don't have to climb a hill to benefit from the outdoors, you just need to open the door, take that first step and breathe... Enjoy!
As AndBreathe... I am constantly reminding people to look after their wellbeing, to focus on creating a balance in their lives and to prioritise their mental health. So this week as I found myself feeling a bit anxious and stressed, I sat myself down for a bit of a talking to! Setting up a new business was never going to be easy. Also being someone who historically has always taken on too much, been a high achiever and been extremely self-critical, I took a few steps back to remember why I was here in the first place!
First of all, I returned to 16G (16 Guidelinesfor a Happy Life) and picked the card 'Contentment'. I was clearly not feeling this, so was interested to read on...
'Contentment is a state of mind that has nothing to do with money, objects, or other people. Nor does it concern itself with how much we have, or how little. Instead, it’s about finding a point of stillness within ourselves which allows us to be quietly happy whatever our situation might be, and to be at peace with who we are.
How do we experience contentment? It can be as easy – and yet as radical – as taking a breath in, and deciding to release everything that makes us feel anxious and dissatisfied as we breathe out. Try settling deeply and quietly in a traffic jam, in the middle of an argument, or when tears are close. Let the commotion of the world simply come to rest. Is it possible to taste the experience of surrender and release?
Unless we learn to live in the moment, and to accept it as it is, we may never function well or feel fully alive. Contentment releases us from the restless desires that drive us blindly forward, and which prevent us from being open to the needs and gifts of others. It frees us up to direct our energy in fresh and more conscious ways. Can we discover how to enjoy contentment despite the hurry and worry of our contemporary existence?'
That gave me food for thought! It was then time for my daily yoga with 'Yoga with Adriene' and I laughed out loud when I saw the title for that day's video, 'Yoga for Insecurity'! Following that I pulled out another tool from my toolbox which is going to the hills. I am so lucky to live close to beautiful hill walks and was quite quickly at one of the summits of Bennachie (see the picture at the top of this post). By now, the anxious feeling was settling but the very fact I had felt like this, still nagged at me, so I settled into a self-led EFT/Tapping session. Why didn't I start with EFT?! Yes, I tapped on that too!
So, where am I now? Yes, I still feel that setting up a new business is challenging but I am back able to look positively at the bigger picture again. New schools have signed up for Pawsb Mindfulness sessions this week, new clients have been in contact and musically (the other part of my life) there have been several positives as well. We're all human, it's how we deal with the ups and downs that matters. Having a variety of tools in my toolbox has helped once again and I know they are there any time I need them. What are your tools?
AndBreathe... actively supports two charities, UK Sepsis Trust and Gathimba Edwards Foundation. At the end of March I am going to Kenya to visit GEF projects and meet the families supported by the funds we are raising at the moment. I will also have the opportunity to meet Rael, a young woman I have been supporting for several years. I am very excited at the thought of us finally meeting! For £35 per month it is possible to support children who are unable to attend school due to lack of funds. Enabling them to attend school means they are so much more likely to lead a better life and give back to their communities. I am funding my own visit in March/April, so the funds I raise will go directly to the families who need it most. Money raised from our fundraising will go towards two very important causes.
The first project is the building of a home and support for a family of 9 in the Iten area. The mother and father had 8 children but unfortunately in 2017 they lost a baby due to malnutrition. Two of their young children, Evans, aged three and Koech aged five, suffer from malnutrition. Lack of clothing and school fees are also a huge challenge.
The family currently live in very poor conditions with no beds or toilet (they use a nearby bush) and when it rains the roof leaks water onto them. Both parents work as casual laborers - this means some days there may be no work available at all in which case the family cannot afford to eat. On days when work is available they are paid £2 each for a full day's work.
Their 10 year old daughter, Chepkemoi, attends class 2 at St. James Primary School. She currently lives with a well wisher in the neighborhood as she ran away from home due to frustration and embarrassment of the living conditions. Before a well wisher took her in she would sleep in a nearby forest at night alone.
Ali Mathers, who has been to Kenya with GEF twice before and will be returning again in April has already been fundraising with her friends and family towards the house for a very special reason. It will be built in memory of her late father and hero, John MacGregor who passed away last year. Ali, her family and friends hosted a fundraising party in 2018 and has already raised £1,640 towards the £4,600 cost of the house.
The second aspect of the fundraising will help us support one of 32 families to start up a business which will enable them to become self sufficient. Daniel is a single father of 6 children following the passing of his wife during the birth of their twins Mary and Anastasia. £280 will enable us to help Daniel transform part of his home into a retail shop and start generating income of is own to support his family. We predict this will give him an annual income of around £1,350.
If you are unable to attend the Health & Wellbeing Fayre in March but want to donate, you can visit my Totalgiving fundraising page at https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/gillianwatt . Thank you for your support. I look forward to sharing photos and thoughts from the visit when I return.
Today was always going to be a busy day! It is the first day at Urban Wellness Hub, Bridge of Don where I have one to one EFT and Reiki appointments, as well as a lunchtime Group Tapping session (I will be at UWH on the first and third Mondays of each month). It is also the day before I travel to the USA for a very important family celebration so I am staying at my sister's this evening to make it easier to get to the airport, going straight there from work. This was never going to be a quiet, straightforward day?! I was upbeat on the drive into Aberdeen, looking forward to the day ahead and beyond.
Fast forward to the approach into Bridge of Don, listening to a popular classical music radio station..... As I approached the UWH, the radio presenter reminded us all it was 'Blue Monday', the most depressing day of the year..... Immediately, I felt this weight across my shoulders and a sad cloud darken the sky above me.... Luckily I turned it around quickly, recognising that I was far from depressed and had so much to look forward to!
Upon my arrival at Urban Wellness Hub, I was greeted with a hug and a reminder that today was 'National Hugging Day'! What a turnaround! I immediately smiled, felt welcome, happy to be there and ready to share in that more optimistic outlook on life!
Since then, I have been reflecting on how just a couple of words can make or break someone's day. I had a choice whether to go with 'Blue Monday' or 'National Hugging Day'. For me, there was no choice to be made but for some people today it might be a more difficult decision. If today feels more like a 'Blue Monday' rather than 'National Hugging Day', please remember that today will pass and tomorrow can be different. I also hope that you meet someone celebrating 'National Hugging Day' to help your day become a little brighter!
p.s. Remember to hug for 20 seconds to get the full benefit!
p.p.s. Not a problem if the hug lasts longer than 20 seconds!!
Happy New Year! Here's to 2019 and all that it brings. May we continue to add 'tools' to our 'toolboxes' so we can meet the challenges ahead. May we always remember to look after ourselves, as we would the person we love most in our lives, because we are worth it!
I have mentioned before that I use '16 Guidelines for a Happy Life' and today as always, I reached for the 16G cards in order to pre-frame the day ahead. Before that, I had spent time considering what I was about to do, which was to write the first AndBreathe... blog post of 2019. This is a milestone blog for AndBreathe..., as 2019 will be the first full year of its existence! It has been a big step of faith to begin this journey and I will admit there have been moments (ok, sometimes pretty big moments!!) when I doubted myself. So, it was with all of that in mind that I drew the random card for today. As always, 16G came up trumps - COURAGE!
16G's definition of Courage:
Courage is about stretch. It’s about seeing, feeling or realising that something more or different can be done, developing the determination to do it, and then carrying through despite all obstacles. We know in our bodies when we’ve been courageous. There is a glow of satisfaction and relief. Something has shifted, and we have grown in size.
Courage is not defined by what we do, but what we overcome within ourselves. It comes in many forms. It is found in a steady approach to everyday difficulties as well as in the single spontaneous gesture. It is happening quietly all around us as well as in the news.
Courage involves acknowledging our fears, but not being deterred from offering something that goes beyond our own immediate needs and comfort. Most courageous people have decided that the well-being of others is more important than their own, and have allowed this decision to drive their actions and the way they live. Invariably, they seem to find their own happiness in the process.
In many ways, I feel I could just end today's post right there! EVERY time I pick a 16G card, it is the 'right' one. There is much more to 16G than picking a card (or it picking me?!) but the card is a practical, easy to use, starting point. I have benefitted from 16G courses and 16G influences much of what I do, personally and professionally.
The 16G role model for 'Courage' is Wangari Maathai:
“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk” said the Kenyan activist WangariMaathai. The Greenbelt Movement that she founded in 1977 is an outstanding example of her own perseverance and commitment to serving others. It has now planted over 51 million trees across Kenya and works at the grassroots, national, and international levels to promote environmental conservation, build climate resilience and empower communities, particularly women.
WangariMaathai started life as a barefoot schoolgirl in a traditional Kikuyu homestead in the Kenyan highlands, and her achievements would have been impossible without an extraordinary degree of courage. She was frequently the target of media attacks and government raids; she suffered imprisonment; even her husband divorced her, saying she was too strong-minded. Maathai’s response was simply to dig deeper into herself. “None of us can control every situation we find ourselves in. What we can control is how we react when things turn against us. I have always seen failure as a challenge to pull myself up and keep going.”
So, as I write the first AndBreathe... blog of 2019 and look to the year ahead, I will do so with COURAGE! Please continue to spread the word about AndBreathe... Whether it is EFT/Tapping, Reiki, Mindfulness (7-18 year olds in schools/sports clubs/badge organisations), 'Life Balance' workshops or 'Wellbeing in the Outdoors', please keep me in mind. I am working in Insch @ Insch Podiatry & Bennachie Leisure Centre, Whitecairns @ The Sanctuary, Bridge of Don @ Urban Wellness Hub, as well as online EFT appointments, which allows me to work in all time zones and every corner of the globe. All information will be shared on the AndBreathe... website (www.andbreathe123.com), FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin, as well as locally.
Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey!
I'm sitting here with a goblet of gluhwein, reflecting on the festivities so far this month and looking forward to the next week or two. We celebrated our family Christmas a couple of weeks ago, as my son was home for a short visit. It was such a lovely family day with all four generations present, ending with us singing around the piano, which is my idea of a perfect day! Grandkids and their parents joined me to have breakfast with Santa at the beginning of the month and I have just had a visit from New Zealand cousins. I feel very fortunate to have had such a lovely time over the past few weeks, but in the past I have had less happy times, and am well aware of the challenges some of us have, as we cope with the memories, expectations and stresses (quite often self-imposed) linked to the various festivities at this time of the year. We often want things to be 'perfect', whether it's cooking the 'perfect' meal, buying the 'perfect' gift, having the 'perfect' relationship, having a 'perfect' visit with our friends and/or families and all of that can take away the joy from the special moments we do experience.
Mindfulness has helped me through many tricky times over the years. It has helped me to appreciate life 'moment by moment'. Instead of looking at that half-empty glass, be grateful it is half full, feel gratitude for the electric light bulb that brightens up the dark winter days, the thick socks that keep your feet warm when you're outside, the smile that is returned when you smile and acknowledge someone walking towards you..... The list of possible moments to be grateful for is endless!
This Christmas (or whichever festive event you celebrate) might not be the 'perfect' Christmas but it can be appreciated more by noticing those moments (it's catching!) and then observe how much easier it becomes to notice more moments. People who look for the positives in life tend to be healthier, happier, heal quicker and generally enjoy life more!
Wishing you the very best for the festive season and 2019!
Gratitude....... This past week, I was reminded just how much we need to be grateful for every minute, and every second, of every day. As I wrote the last blog, I knew that Kirsty, my four-legged friend, was nearing the end of her long, much loved life. However, it was within hours of posting the blog post, that she had deteriorated to the point where I had to call the vet. I knew I was possibly going to have to make a very difficult decision and decided to go to my 16G cards (I will write more about 16 Guidelines for a Happy Life in more detail soon). The card that I chose/chose me was 'Principles'. This was very interesting, as I have very strong principles when it comes to the end of life care, of both myself and my animals. Any decision had to have Kirsty at the centre, with my feelings taking a firm second place. Later that morning she crossed 'The Rainbow Bridge' to reunite with her pals, Ben and Rannoch. It was a peaceful end, as she drifted off to sleep with Reiki sparkles (something she loved her whole life) easing her last breaths.
The next morning was the first morning in just under twenty years, that I woke up to no dog in the house. It was very empty and I wondered what sort of day lay ahead (the 16G card was 'Aspiration' that morning). It was time to benefit from the other tools in my tool box! I started to tap on that awful emptiness. I was soon tapping on the gaping chasm in my heart. However, as I tapped that round, it came to me that the chasm wasn't empty at all, it was full of the love that Kirsty and I had shared over the years. I began to feel that the level of emotion was easier to accept. I ended up tapping on the fact I had not been ready for Kirsty to go. Again, it came to me during that round, that I would have never 'been ready' for that moment and that I had so many years to look back on, with so much gratitude for her friendship. That got me to the elusive zero! However, even though I felt at a 0, I still felt sad. I ended the session tapping on that, realising that it was right to feel sad, it was ok to feel sad, and now it was a 'calm' sadness that seemed more bearable.
For those of you wondering how 'Aspiration' fitted so well into that day (as it does every day!), I will share the meaning, as recorded in the 16G book:
'Aspiration is the profound longing for purpose and fulfilment, joy and happiness, which lies deep - and sometimes buried - in our hearts, and in the heart of every living being. It is the voice inside that urges us to use our life well and to make the best of whatever gifts and passions we possess. The way we choose to respond to that voice will determine all the other choices we make in our lives.'
Yet again, 16G helped to frame that day and remind me why I do what I do.
Meet Kirsty! She has been my constant companion in the lead up to AndBreathe... becoming a reality. She is a very elderly (14 years in February) black labrador and was so happy to find out we had a beautiful new walk this week! On the second Monday of every month, we will be visiting 'The Sanctuary', Whitecairns and taking time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. In addition to our very important walk, I will also be hosting a monthly 'Group Tapping' session, as well as offering EFT/Tapping and Reiki appointments. Please check the Registration and Booking pages on the website to book a session! Any queries or questions, please use the Contacts page.
The 'Taster Sessions' held at the Bennachie Leisure Centre last week were well received, with lots of discussion, laughter and maybe a few tears (tissues supplied!). Both sessions focussed on choices around food. Group sessions are 'lighter' sessions, where we focus on more general issues, minor irritations, niggles and pains. I will be holding monthly 'Group Tapping sessions at the Bennachie Leisure, as well as other venues listed in this website. Group sessions are good for introducing people to EFT/Tapping.
The Pawsb schools for this term are approaching their last session. This week we were dealing with 'the storytelling mind'. I love to watch children begin to see how mindfulness can help them in their day to day lives. It's a good feeling, knowing that I am sharing a habit that will last them a lifetime. For more information about Pawsb, please go to the Pawsb and .b page on this website.
This Saturday I will be sharing an event with 'Qi-in-Me' at Fetternear Hall, near Kemnay. This is planned to be a treat for all who attend! A time to feel pampered in the lead up to the 'C' word! Participants will be led through a Qi Gong session, a Group Tap and a Loving Kindness meditation followed by a Soundbath. So looking forward to sharing this event!
To keep updated about events and all the goings on, feel free to register on the AndBreathe... website. AndBreathe... gift certificates can be applied to appointments, group sessions and events. You can find them for sale in the 'Shop' page on the website. A perfect gift for all ages!
Welcome to AndBreathe... I am looking forward to you being part of my journey! As part of the launch of my new business, I will be donating proceeds of December's appointments to my two chosen charities (UK Sepsis Trust and Gathimba Edwards Foundation). The UK Sepsis Trust has supported me over the past few years and Gathimba Edwards Foundation is a charity I believe is making a real difference to families in Kenya.