December 2019: "We're really looking for something that's not there!" I was recently at an evening for women, run by women with a fellow entrepreneur sharing her expertise, focused on how to use social media to increase engagement in our businesses. In recent months I have been stepping out of my comfort zone and attending networking events, making new business contacts and this event came from an invitation from one of those new contacts. I find that I always learn something by meeting other people on a similar journey. Although our businesses are very diverse, we all experience ups and downs and it's good to share! It was at this event that I heard the statement, "We're really looking for something that's not there!" It was in response to the fact that so many of us mindlessly scroll through our phones many, many times a day without real purpose.
It got me to thinking. My excuse to myself is that I use my phone for work, booking in appointments, updating social media (work of course ;) ) and reading and responding to emails but, if I am honest, I know that I am guilty of mindless scrolling. It IS like I am looking for something that's not there! It's something that I've discussed with various family members. I have begun to turn on airplane mode when I am out walking and have contemplated assigning myself specific windows of time time to engage with social media (yes, I think I am that bad!). The camera on my phone is so much better than my camera that I prefer to use, which is why I don't just leave the phone at home.
But it's not just social media that the statement applies to. I won't drag you down with me but I know there have been so many times in my life when I didn't truly appreciate what I had. I was often looking for more. One path I could never quite get to the end of was education and job satisfaction. I was always striving to do better, gain another qualification, climb up the ladder, take on more responsibility and so on. The irony came when I felt I had finally 'arrived', it was all whipped away by Sepsis!
Fast forward 4 1/2 years, I believe that Sepsis was given to me as a 'wake up call'. Sepsis made me stop. My body fought back but, most importantly, my mind dug deep, as it had done in half-ironman and half-marathon races when I thought I was running out of energy and the challenge was too great. Since then, I have learned so much about myself. First, as I tried my damndest to get back to where I had been pre-sepsis but then it dawned on me that the lesson was to find a new way of being and a new way of living. I am still on that journey. There have been lots of small steps alongside the massive shifts. Nowadays, I share what I have learned, hopefully encouraging others to make positive changes in their lives.
So, as we approach 2020, let's look up from our phones and appreciate life moment by moment, savouring ever second!
I have found that children of all ages respond very well to EFT/Tapping. I am a relatively new EFT Practitioner but my background is in education and I have a growing gaggle of grandchildren, so I have had quite a few opportunities to try it out! It's all about making it accessible and relevant. My very first experience of EFT was when a parent suggested that I might be interested in bringing it into school. At the time I was a teaching head teacher of a small, rural school and mental health and wellbeing was at the heart of every decision I made (both of pupils and staff). If you don't have happy children and/or adults, worthwhile, high quality learning is just not going to happen. I invited the parent into school to introduce EFT to everyone and she visited every class. At the time I was in the early stages class, so we learned the Tapping points singing along to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star! Very quickly, we began to include a Tapping session into our daily routine. We would talk about what was going on and how we were feeling. The more opportunities children have to recognise and talk about their emotions, the more chance they have of becoming emotionally literate adults. It was this experience that led me to attending a Level One EFT course, followed by Level Two and now, here I am, a fully qualified EFT Practitioner!
As AndBreathe, I visit schools delivering the Pawsb and .b Mindfulness programmes to year groups, as well as sharing mental health and wellbeing skills and strategies to small groups or individual pupils, who are finding life tricky. EFT is always part of these sessions and I usually introduce the year groups to EFT at the end of the Pawsb Mindfulness programmes. In the younger classes and for pre-school schildren, I share EFT/Tapping by singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, as I first experienced, but I now also include singing a song along to the tune of Frere Jacques:
(at the crown) I am Tapping, Tapping, Tapping,
(top of nose) Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap ,Tap,
(temple) Tapping little fingers, Tapping little fingers,
(under eye) Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap.
(Under nose) I am Tapping, I am Tapping,
(Under lip) Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap,
(collarbone) Tapping little fingers, Tapping little fingers,
(under arms like a gorilla) Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap, Tap.
After some discussion on feelings, we then replace the 'I am Tapping' phrase with 'I am Angry/Sad/Yucky' or any other emotions/words that suit.
I am gradually finding more EFT texts for reading to children and for the adults who are supporting them. One of those books is 'Happy Tapping with Mia and Charlie', by Paula Kennedy. I have also used 'I Love Me' and 'I Still Love Me' by Hilary Ahluwalia. I used Hilary's books when I visited Kenya earlier this year and was introducing EFT to Kenyan schoolchildren. Many Kenyan children have experienced significant trauma and Tapping has been very effective. In Kenya I also used a video that can be found on YouTube, which was very useful for overcoming language challenges. The message was powerful, as well as the video being fun and accessible: Two Finger Tapping - (TTT) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl0AkZfRGNE
In the outdoor work I am now doing, I also use EFT in 'Outdoor Wellbeing for Teens' sessions. These are very relaxed sessions when we Tap on all sorts of challenges that the teenagers might be facing, either at school or at home. The teenagers bring back many examples of when they have gone on to use Tapping by themselves, often for situations linked to anxiety in school. Teenagers experience very strong feelings/sensations within their bodies when they are anxious or upset and it is very empowering when they experience the body sensations dissolving in a Tapping round.
In Family Wellbeing sessions, I also share EFT with good success, especially with children who are anxious about going to school or being in social situations. It is heartwarming to witness the change when they realise that they now have a tool they can use all on their own.
I'm going to close with an example of how effective EFT can be with children after just a quick introduction. I had visited all the classes of a small school just before the summer holidays. It was break and someone brought in a very young pupil who was beside herself because she thought a wasp was in her ear. There was definitely something in there and we all knew there were a lot of wasps around, so she assumed it was a wasp. School staff contacted mum and began to wait for mum to arrive (staff are not allowed to do any more than that in this sort of situation). It came to me that I could encourage her to Tap. I spoke to her and reminded her of what we had just talked about and said it might help her breathing (she was breathing very rapidly through the sobs) if we tried it. She was too upset to do any Tapping herself so I asked if she minded if I tapped on her face like we had done. This was all very spontaneous on my part, but I went with my gut instinct, which is usually pretty reliable. She nodded and I began to Tap, talking about the situation. In a very short space of time her breathing began to settle, and by the time her mum arrived, she was calm, so much so in fact, that her mum was not overly concerned! Staff were amazed at the transformation of the young girl, resulting from the Tapping and TBH so was I!
November 2019: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional!”
The current focus for the AndBreathe membership is ‘Self-Care in Winter’ and I found myself in mid-October drained and exhausted. The irony was glaring!!! I love what I am doing now but I had to recognise that I have NOT been looking after ME very well. Although I have the tools and do use them most of the time, I do slip up. Self-care really is an ongoing, lifelong process and I share this to remind myself, as well as all of you! In past blogs, I have shared that the lack of daylight in winter can be an issue and I thought I had been keeping up with that, using my special light and getting outside as much as possible. I have a ‘clean’ diet and by that, I mean I cook from scratch, avoiding packaged food. I felt that I had been doing that too. I did recognise that exercise has not been a priority recently, so I signed up for a challenge with ‘Choclates at Home’ (check Choc’s FB page out: Pilates, Choc’s way!) and went to my first Insch Trail Runners sessions (hill reps at the Back O Bennachie). I definitely did NOT run the whole time, but it felt good to be there. However, I knew I needed more than that. I needed to take a step back from EVERYTHING, so I checked into the Samye Ling Monastery & Tibetan Centre for a couple of days. My first ever visit!
At its depth, mixed with tiredness & exhaustion overdoing things, the fatigue that hovers constantly in the background can drag me down both physically and mentally. The other week, I heard of someone who is currently in HDU with Sepsis and my first thought was “Would it have been easier if I hadn’t made it?” I appreciate that is a shocking thing to say but that is the thought I had. On my journey down to Samye Ling (it took a very long time, so I had plenty time to think!!), I explored that thought and by the time I arrived at Samye Ling, I knew what I have felt all along, which is that I was spared for a purpose. Yes, my life is very different to what I anticipated it would be at this point in my life, but I AM ALIVE! I have so much to be grateful for and there are so many people who have overcome far greater challenges. I was nearly back on track. And yes, I had used tools as my storytelling mind went into overdrive! I came back to the breath several times and at one point tapped on the deeper emotions.
In tricky times (all the time actually, but in tricky times I pick one specifically for whatever challenge I am facing) I pick a 16Guidelines card to help me see things differently, so when I arrived at Samye Ling I did just that! The card drawn was ‘Loyalty’. The chapter on Loyalty, begins with: “To live a full life, one must have the courage to bear responsibility for the needs of others.” I had been looking for sympathy or some reassuring words, so I was not overly happy to read this!! What about ME?! It was tempting to put the book down but I persevered and continued to read. Later in the text I came to this passage: “If we know a friend or colleague will be loyal to us no matter what happens, then we will explore how to live with greater reassurance and can take more risks. When our back is covered, it becomes far easier to face outwards with confidence and a sense of freedom.” It was a timely reminder that I do have quite a few people who ‘have my back’ and that helped.
The next day’s 16Guidelines card at Samye Ling was ‘Gratitude’. Again, it was another reminder to acknowledge the positives and not wallow in self-pity! Towards the end of the explanation of gratitude, as understood by 16 Guidelines, there is the following paragraph: “Gratitude is grounded in the wisdom which accepts that we are neither independent nor self-sufficient, but part of an extraordinary continuum of events and beings on this planet. It encourages us to welcome reality, rather than fight it – both what seems good and what seems bad. Learning to appreciate every single thing that happens as a potential source of insight and growth is one of the key ingredients for a happy life.”
Experiencing Samye Ling for the first time was special. I attended hour long silent meditations morning and afternoon, as well as other ceremonies. I have huge respect for many faiths, and it was humbling to be part of Samye Ling for a few days. I look forward to returning there.
On my return from Samye Ling I launched into a very hectic week (had I learned ANYTHING?!) and my body reminded me once more that it was needing a break, I was needing to build a stronger foundation! I felt the beginnings of a virus, so cancelled as much as I could and battened down the hatches. I had recently watched the Netflix documentary, HEAL (watch it!), which focused on the power of the mind in the healing process. It popped into my head to say out loud “I am healing!”, “I am getting better.” As soon as I said it, I felt a significant change in my body. Not sure about you, but when people ask how I am and if my answer is “I’m ill, I’m not well”, I feel a heavy weight across my shoulders and chest. It doesn’t really help! By saying that I was healing, it meant I didn’t have that heavy feeling, instead there was a lightness, a sense of optimism. I am working with someone just now, who is overcoming several challenges and I would say that he has this optimistic attitude and I see the benefits in all sorts of ways. Try it and let me know how you get on!
Post-Sepsis life is often like a tightrope walk but, yet again, I’ve survived the wobble and am grateful for all the tools at my disposal. So remember, ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.’
What a whirl September has been! I am very fortunate to have been blessed by an ever-growing gaggle of grandkids over the past seven and a half years, and in September I spent twelve days in Las Vegas, getting to know my newest grandson. Twelve days of being a mum to my daughter and granny to my grandson, which involved morning walks with the buggy, allowing my daughter to catch up on a little sleep and giving me the gift of one to one time with my adorable new bundle! A colleague messaged me when I was there and made a comment about margaritas by the pool, but I replied saying it was more like nappy/diaper changes and burping a baby!! It was such a lovely visit. My son has also been home over the past few weeks and, as he works all over the world, it has been so good spending time with him. To complete the family update, one daughter is expecting her second baby in January and my third daughter has just returned to university to become a paediatric nurse. It is a joy watching them all, as they make their own paths in life. I am so grateful to be part of it all.
Back to business! October sees an exciting new chapter for AndBreathe, as I launch AndBreathe membership. I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!
As a patron of the AndBreathe Mental Wellbeing Toolkit you will receive:
1. Monthly email.
2. Mindfulness/16Guidelines/EFT Videos
3. Opportunity to win a 1:1 session,
4. 15-20minute 'live' weekly workshops
5. Access to me for support and questions.
6. Opportunity to request the topic for live session/additional sessions.
6. Access to the 'Online AndBreathe Mental Wellbeing Toolkit' FB page.
7. You will be part of a supportive community to share success stories, challenges, information and tips on all things health and wellness related e.g. recipes, wellbeing holidays.
8. All for £10/$15 per month
I am looking forward to sharing my skills and tools on this forum. It will go live in early October.
Another ‘first’ in October is the first ‘Level One, Finding Your Happy: 16 Guidelines for Life’ course being run by myself and Lorna, from ‘Finding-Qi-In-Me’. The 5 week block begins on Wednesday, 30th October at 7pm. For more info and booking, go to the ‘Workshops & Events’ page at www.andbreathe123.com .
I also now have a 4-6 session programme for businesses. These sessions are to support mental health and wellbeing and to guide staff towards a healthier life-work balance. There is also ongoing contact offered through Zoom Wellbeing sessions. Please spread the word about these programmes.
Outdoor Wellbeing sessions are winding down for now. In the future, I would love to think we will continue through the winter months. Will you join us?!
Hope you are well and using the strategies I shared in September’s blog! As they say in these parts, “The nichts are fair dra’in in” (trans: The nights are fairly drawing in)!
September is the month when I become acutely aware that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting darker. Living in the NE of Scotland this is increasingly significant, as we head towards December. It is time for me to be pro-active and prepare for the months ahead.
Over 25 years ago I went to my GP armed with a written list of symptoms indicating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Initially, he wasn't very interested but by the time I got to the end of the list, he was on board and shared with me that the medical centre had just invested in three SAD lights and I could be the first person to have a light on a three month 'prescription'. But I get ahead of myself.....
At that time I had four children aged 2yrs - 7yrs, was working part-time as a flute tutor and was co-owner of a music shop/music school. Every winter I struggled significantly with energy (lethargy) and emotions (low mood). I had lost my dad earlier that year so initially my GP used that as a reason for my struggle. Although I agreed this was still affecting me, I knew it was only part of the story.
A week after that GP appointment, I was setting up my first SAD light and the rest is history. Within just three or four days, I felt like a completely different person. The awful lethargy and lack of enthusiasm for life had gone. For me, it really was miraculous. After that first three month loan, I invested in a light and have had at least one SAD light in my life ever since. It is worth trying one to see if it works for you.
There are several other self-help strategies that I put into action every September:
2. SAD light - Regular use of the SAD light is essential.
3. Exercise - Exercise of any sort is helpful. If it takes place outside, then it is even better! I also practise Yoga, which is helpful physically and mentally.
4. Mental health - Mindfulness, meditation and reiki have all been helpful. I am also part of a women's circle which meets regularly. I have always found this a nurturing, supportive, safe space to share my experiences, which has helped me enormously.
5. Diet - There is a craving for carbohydrates with SAD, often leading to weight gain, so it is important to ensure that I plan a well balanced diet and avoid the temptation. There has been scientific evidence revealing that a vegetarian diet leads to being more susceptible to SAD. I eat a mainly vegetarian diet but do eat meat when my body asks for it.
6. Sleep - There is a desire to hibernate and I don't battle against this the way I used to. I allow myself a longer sleep in the winter time (I don't need nearly as much sleep in the summer). It is one of the kindnesses I give to myself. Our ancestors would have gone into some sort of hibernation, I am sure!
7. Natural Oils - Sandalwood, Tea tree, Lavender and Lemon oils are all helpful.
8. NEW!!! Floatation therapy - I have recently been introduced to the Float Room, which has also been shown to improve low mood/depression caused by SAD. I don't really need an excuse to use the Float Room but glad I have one!
9. Medication - In some cases, people might be prescribed medication for SAD but I have managed to avoid this.
For more information about SAD:
Personal update: It has been an exciting, exhilarating, exhausting and scary few months! The biggest lesson I am learning is that being a ‘Wellbeing Facilitator’ can be very challenging to one’s own wellbeing! I say that with a touch of humour but I have been taking a long look at how important (even more important?) it is now to look after myself. Starting up a new business can be terrifying, at times! I began with dreams, enthusiasm and a huge desire to share the tools that have helped me so much over the years. However, the reality of paying the mortgage and bills recently brought me to a cycle of work – life imbalance (definitely NOT life-work balance), not respecting my own wellbeing. I have taken time over the past few weeks to identify days and times when I DO NOT think about work. I know that my mind will not have read this blog, so I realise that work thoughts will undoubtedly pop up, but I have promised to pop all those thoughts into my ‘basket’ until the next workday! I do also see the irony of me writing this on a Sunday!
So, what am I going to do to get back some of that balance? Make sure that I am exercising in some way every day; a Yoga with Adriene session, one of Choc’s vidoes (see below for more info!), a cycle ride, a long walk or a swim. More music must also figure highly in my balanced life too. I love doing all those things but have not been creating the space, so that needs to change. I also recognise that I have not been seeing friends as much and intend to change that as well! Living on my own means I can become a bit of a hermit (which I quite like to be honest!) but I know it is so good for me when I get out and about. It goes without saying that spending time with my family is a massive part of looking after my wellbeing. I do love being a mum and granny (number 6 grandchild arrived just a few days ago)! BUT, all of that is ‘doing’ something! More than anything, I need to ‘be’. My sitting cushion has not been sat upon so much recently, so a special time will be set aside to sit, as well as quiet time in the outdoors.
Better time management has to come back into my life!
Venues: Number One, Scott Skinner Square, Banchory/Urban Wellness Hub, Balgownie Drive, Bridge of Don/Insch Podiatry, Rannes Street, Insch/Elemental Crystals, High Street, Inverurie
I am now in each of my four different venues, twice a month. One to One appointments are gradually picking up. The EFT appointments have been especially rewarding. As well as mental and physical health issues, I have worked with clients on the emotions associated with getting back to competition after injury, loneliness, grief, divorce and the challenges of overcoming life-changing health issues. The EFT for Animal appointments are also a highlight in the week for me. Even I find it hard to understand (yes, I keep telling clients not to try to understand EFT!!) how EFT for animals works, but it most certainly does! I am so grateful that my life has always included animals.
Online: AndBreathe Online Mental Wellbeing Toolkit Pilot: This is an exciting new venture for AndBreathe. I am very aware that many people following AndBreathe on Social Media live outwith Aberdeenshire with many much further away than that, so this pilot has been running through August testing the waters. I have been introducing the volunteers to the AndBreathe tools and offering more in-depth information than is on the general AndBreathe pages on Social Media.
My plan is to continue the AndBreathe toolkit and offer a variety of practices, activities and information through videos and articles, using the AndBreathe tools in a weekly post. I want it to be accessible for everyone, so the charge will be minimal at £10 per month. I am very aware that not all AndBreathe clients are on Social Media, so the pilot has also been running via email for a few volunteers and I would like to continue this when the toolkit is up and running. One email a week will be sent, which will include the week ahead and any additional posts from the preceding week on Social Media.
Online EFT – Clients can book online EFT sessions through the AndBreathe website, or by emailing me direct. I conduct the sessions through Zoom and email a link to the client before the day/time of the appointment. These sessions are very helpful for people who live too far away, or who have mobility issues.
Collaborations with Wellbeing with Agnes, Finding Qi in Me and Choclates – Pilates with Choc: I have always enjoyed collaborating with other people, so I feel very fortunate to be working with Agnes, Lorna and Choc in a variety of projects.
Finding Your Happy: 16 Guidelines for Life: Lorna (Finding Qi in Me) and I have now completed training to become 16G facilitators and look forward to introducing 16 Guidelines to people across the North East of Scotland and beyond! We have 4 taster sessions through September and October, followed by a Level One course throughout October and November.
Finding Your Happy: 16 Guidelines for Life gives people practical tools to help them live a life like that: a life where they better understand themselves and get happier as a result. But it’s more than that; happier people make a happier world.
These workshops are for anyone who knows their life could be better than it is; and not by getting the newest phone, or more money, or a bigger house. If you’re feeling like there’s something missing, if you know that there’s more to life, and if you want practical tools to discover all of this and more, you need just 16 Guidelines. We look forward to seeing you there!
Enrich Your Spirit: Time to look after you!
We aim to create a very special atmosphere during these events. Lorna is an experienced QiGong practitioner and opens the day with an hour-long QiGong session. QiGong is a form of gentle exercise, designed to enable strengthening and stretching of the body to enhance balance, reduce stress and support deep relaxation.
From there we move gently into a mindfulness session, influenced by 16 Guidelines. The 16 Guidelines programme provides a simple and flexible framework for developing empathy, compassion and resilience in daily life.
After lunch, participants settle on their mats and snuggle down in their blankets ready for the Soundbath meditation. We use a variety of instruments to support your personal healing journey. A very special day because you deserve it!
Outdoor Wellbeing for Teens & Adults: Agnes, Wellbeing with Agnes, and I team up for Outdoor Wellbeing events. We currently have sessions for teens running in Kemnay and Haddo,as well as sessions for adults.
Outdoor Wellbeing for Teens: Mindfulness and woodland skills in the wilderness to help build confidence and resilience in teenagers.
Being a teenager is hard, with so many expectations and social pressures but very little life experience or coping mechanisms to deal with myriad situations. These sessions are great for young people to just be who they are without worrying about school, friendship groups or lack thereof, looking a certain way, saying the right thing or judgement (from others or of self). A chance to be part of a social group with no expectations and the freedom to choose and be empowered.
For young people currently in S1-S6.
Cost per session: £10 - £5 (sliding scale based on ability to pay). Discounts available for sibling groups.
To book Haddo sessions email Suzanna on firstname.lastname@example.org
To book Kemnay sessions www.andbreathe123.com
Wellbeing in the Outdoors – Adults @Haddo
This is mindfulness for both the experienced practitioner and newbys alike. In this two hour adult only session you can move towards a more mindful life, and learn how to be fully present in any given moment. It is said this is the key to better mental health: the past is gone, the future not yet written. We can only live in this very moment, so we must learn how to appreciate it.There will be various mindfulness and meditative activities to participate in. A lovely way to ease the mind after a busy day.
The session costs £15, but a reduced fee may be possible for people who struggle to pay the full amount. We want to include as many people as possible, so please don't be embarrassed to ask if you can pay a little less if you feel £15 is beyond your budget. Email Suzanna on email@example.com to book.
Choc at Home: Choc’s online ‘at home’ programme was the inspiration for the AndBreathe Mental Wellbeing Toolkit. Choclates or Choc(‘s Pi)lates is based on the principals of Pilates and helps busy people get fitter and stronger safely, without spending hours in the gym.
I was delighted recently, when Choc asked me to make a series of 8 videos on mental wellbeing for ‘Choc at Home’, to work alongside her physical wellbeing programme.
Choc also runs Choclates beginners-intermediate and intermediate-advanced classes in Huntly, as well as Postnatal mum and baby classes in Huntly and Insch.
I have a huge favour to ask if you have attended any of the AndBreathe workshops, collaborations or had a one to one appointment.
If you feel able, please leave a review on Google
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.
Thank you for reading this far! AndBreathe... is a very exciting venture and I am glad you have joined me on the journey!