Sunday 26 February 2012

Silly Billy

I have been catching up on reading some of the blogs I follow, and Susannah Conway has been blogging and posting pictures about her photo retreat to Marrakesh. Which brought back memories of my trip to Marrakesh a couple of years ago with the girls.  Part of our itinerary included a day trip to Essaouira on the coast, and, it was on the road to Essaouira that we came across some very clever goats, enjoying a spot of lunch in a tree.
These Moroccan goats climb the Argan trees in order to get to the delicious fruits that the locals use to make oil!

Morocco isn't Morocco without tree climbing goats!

Wednesday 22 February 2012

A Year of Mornings Wednesday 22nd February 2012


"It is more blessed to give than to receive.” - Acts 20:35

Ash Wednesday - first day of Lent.  I am doing something slightly different, as well as giving something up (alcohol) I am also giving something out. (for each bottle of wine I don't buy from the Supermarket, I will save the money and put it into my giving jar. At the end of Lent, I will donate my money to a charity of my choice) as I have been inspired by and signed up to  40 acts/do Lent generously 


Saturday 11 February 2012

Knitted Hand Warmers

Ta Da - my knitted hand warmers
Thanks to Jules Dolly and Henny Designs I now have my own hand warmers finally knitted up.  Using some wool I picked up in the sale at Hobby Craft last year (I knew it would come in handy for something) this was a relatively quick knit - cast on 39 stitches and knit a row, pearl a row until your heart is content.  My hand warmers have turned out to be quite a snug fit and I think I prefer them this style than the slouchy look. 

Feeling inspired, I visited the Sheep Shop in St Annes this afternoon and bought some really nice wool to make a simple cowl/snood.  I'll be starting on that as soon as I have had my tea - I really know how to live it up on a Saturday night :)

A Year of Mornings Saturday 11th February 2012

My Lemon Bowl

I replaced my first cup of tea of the day with hot water and lemon in November last year.  I'm not sure how many days you need to do something for it to become a habit, but a habit it now is, and, I am now drinking more herbal tea throughout the day because my usual cup of tea (English breakfast and Earl Grey) just doesn't taste the same anymore.

I found 10 tips as to why drinking hot lemon water is beneficial for you:

1. Boosts your immune system: Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds.  They’re high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function. Potassium also helps control blood pressure.

2. Balances pH: Drink lemon water everyday and you’ll reduce your body’s overall acidity. Lemon is one of the most alkaline foods around. Yes, lemon has citric acid but it does not create acidity in the body once metabolized.

3. Helps with weight loss:   Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. It also has been shown that people who maintain a more alkaline diet lose weight faster.

4. Aids digestion:  Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials. It encourages the liver to produce bile which is an acid that required for digestion. Efficient digestion reduces heartburn and constipation.

5. Is a diuretic: Lemons increase the rate of urination in the body, which helps purify it. Toxins are, therefore, released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy.

6. Clears skin:  The vitamin C component helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes. Lemon water purges toxins from the blood which helps keep skin clear as well. It can actually be applied directly to scars to help reduce their appearance.

7. Freshens breath: Not only this, but it can help relieve tooth pain and gingivitis.

8. Relieves respiratory problems: Warm lemon water helps get rid of chest infections and halt those pesky coughs. It’s thought to be helpful to people with asthma and allergies too.

9. Keeps you zen: Vitamin C is one of the first things depleted when you subject your mind and body to stress. As mentioned previously, lemons are chock full of vitamin C.

10. Helps kick the tea/coffee habit:  After I have a glass of hot lemon water, I actually don’t crave tea  in the morning.

Tip:  Drink your warm lemon water in coffee cups that has coffee or tea stains.  The lemon water will help remove them.

Friday 10 February 2012

Image for today

I made my back room very cozy this evening by lighting the coal fire, lighting my candles and creating a peaceful space to sit, contemplate and to finish reading my book "hand wash cold, care instructions for an ordinary life" by Karen Maeezden Miller.

She writes, "attention is the most concrete expression of love.  What we pay attention to thrives, what we do not pay attention to withers and dies.  What will you pay attention to today?"

Monday 6 February 2012

A Year of Mornings Monday 6th February 2012

Life is a kitchen
"Life is a kitchen.  I don't mean my life is like a kitchen, although it is.  I take the ingredients I have on hand, mix and mash them into the semblance of a meal, and try to nourish myself and others the best I can.  I may not always like the taste of my own cooking, but I've learned that I can toss the leftovers out and start over.  So yes, life is like a kitchen, but that's not what I mean, either.
I mean life is a kitchen, and when you do not yet see that your life is a kitchen, you may not see your life clearly at all.  You are here for one purpose: to serve. Serving others will fulfill you as nothing else will."........extract from hand wash cold, care instructions for an ordinary life by Karen Maezen Miller.

Hand Wash Cold came as a book recommendation by Hannah Marcotti as part of the New Year Cleanse.  I have read to Chapter 9 so far and can't put it down, it makes such simple sense, and I found it slightly magical how this book arrived on my doormat just at the time it needed too.

I love how Chapter 8, entitled full sink is drawn to a close, she writes "in all this mess, I found the ingredients for the next stage in the spiritual journey: the opportunity to move beyond myself and into compassionate care of everything and everyone that appeared before me morning, noon and night.  I found myself in the very heart of life, an ordinary life, the best spot to give and receive pure love.  You won't see it on a plan or a map, but I can tell you how to get there.  It begins when you have the courage to leave home, and it leads no farther than your very own kitchen."

Should you take the time to visit the link to Hand Wash Cold which takes you to Karen Miller's website, I would recommend you watch the short video, simple but breathtakingly beautiful.

Sunday 5 February 2012

A Year of Mornings Sunday 5th February 2012

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment. 
“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” ......Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday 2 February 2012

January Round-Up

January.....can be 31 days of focus, sticking with the New Year Resolutions, etc, etc or "January, sick and tired you've been hanging on me" - remember those lyrics?...January by Pilot.

On the whole, I feel I've been focused and I am working with my Resolutions, although I think I called them intentions.  I have also been sick and tired, because I came out with a horrible cold at the start of this week which really scuppered me.

My focus has been on decluttering/making space and loving up my home - a work in progress

I feel like this - digging deep and working hard!

I read these words the other day on the Roots of She  "when you let go of something big, something that has held a place of power over you, it creates space. It opens up space to let other needs and feelings see light. That light, it doesn’t have to be a harsh spotlight: something shining and garish. It can be the warm, intimate light from a lit candle or a fire in the fireplace. It can be the fading light of sunset or the soft light of sunrise"

I had let go of something pretty big on the Winter Solstice, that, combined with letting go of  general clutter and stuff that has held power over me left me with a bit of an empty space inside. In typical Swirly Girl fashion, I decided to shine a very harsh light on that space, and began to excavate my perceived past mistakes.  By Wednesday afternoon this week I had managed to give examples of where I wasn't good enough and why I would never be good enough - well, that was my past and future taken care of! By Thursday (today) I had a bit of an "Ah ha" moment - don't you just love those?  And, for the first time I saw quite clearly that when things aren't going quite to plan, or I feel I've failed in some way, I pick up a very familiar stick and beat myself up with it!

I also read In the Roots of She, "if your best friend was hurting, you wouldn’t poke and prod at her. You wouldn’t get angry when she couldn’t articulate exactly why she was upset. You wouldn’t think she was stupid because her heart was aching.
You would sit with her, hold space, listen.
Why shouldn’t you treat yourself with the same care?

Alternatively, practise on myself what I give others,  one of the core conditions for therapeutic change "unconditional positive regard" .  And I am reminded of a self portrait I took last year when I took Vivienne McMaster's  e-course Wading In.

October 2011 - Friend
This is quite an iconic picture for me, it represents how I should be with myself, a friend. I am making friends with alot of things just recently which I considered anything but.

Here are a few pictures of my decluttering/making space activities in the month of January:

"Stuff" packed up ready for the Charity Shop

Loving up my Love and Abundance Corners

Creating Space in drawers
Tidying up and adding some colour into my bedroom.
I've been focused on taking pictures, starting up on my own A Year of Mornings has kept the focus going and remembering to take my camera out with me more on dog walks! I've also been creating white space/negative space in some of my photos which I learnt through taking Susannah Conway's Photo Meditations e-course.

Birds, mainly seagulls are featuring alot in my photos (well, I do live by the sea!)

As for joy, I am learning that is in us, and around us.  I share alot of joy with my family, friends and dogs.
I took this picture of my daugher on a bike ride last summer, it always make me smile

Jasper resting his chin on my shoulder, this makes me smile

"Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realise that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge"......Spiritual Awakenings

A Year of Mornings 1st February 2012

This is the only picture I took today - from my sick bed *cough, splutter, sniffle*