Birthday Weekend

On Jan 23rd 2021 I turned 43. I still feel like a teenager wondering what I’ll be when I grow up?! I wonder if that’ll ever change?

It was a marvellous, magical weekend and I truly adored it in every way.

We are in tier 4 lockdown, so none of the usual socialising, but I found an easy rhythm in reading, getting my sewing machine out, laughing at the cats antics with Ady and eating amazing home cooked food.

I’ve had my sewing machine for years but barely touched it, so on my birthday out she came. I made a bookmark out of wrapping from my gifts and followed the lines of veins on a beautiful ivy leaf. I have no idea what I’m doing so I learn as I go along.

I intend to make prayer flags. Tiny squares of inspiration that I can string together. The leaf will remind me to simply open and let the light through. I have so many ideas and can’t wait to be a creator again. My gift to myself x

The burger pic above is the cookbook image of the vegan burger Ady made me with cheezey nacho spicy tomato additions. Omg food heaven and all gluten free and clean eating. AMAZING!!!!! Its from a book called Beautiful Real by Sam Murphy. Vegan healthy comfort food and my heaven.

We walked and talked by our old lake. A walk we’ve done a thousand times before but its so cherished.

The light was amazing. Glorious, twinkling, dancing across surfaces, moonlight, sunlight. Light brings lightness and I need it like air.

Meditation was a part of the weekend. I made sure I made space for space. A meditative walk on Saturday at twilight was a real highlight. A whole hour just to move, listen, feel and breathe. I put on a playlist I’d never heard before that was both mysterious and beckoning. There’s a site called Bandcamp that do things called soundscapes. A playlist that weaves meditation thoughts, chanting and sound. So beautiful. You can just let go and be guided, like floating on an ocean of gentle inspiration. As I crossed a bridge I noticed the light at the end looked like a star guiding me on.

Partway across the bridge were peeling signs that called out ‘change change change and faith!’

I’d felt deep shifts inside of me that week, causing feelings of sadness and grief. Things from my past that I just couldn’t process, causing me a type of soulful indigestion. At times immobilising. Change was definitely a theme in my life.

Not long later the playlist rang out with “how can we continue to live if we are changeless? To live we must die every instant. We must perish, again and again, in the storms that make life possible”. Those words mixed with the words on the bridge and my feelings of grief all clicked together, like someone had realigned my bones. I felt a huge wave of relief. All these mini deaths, aren’t bad. They hurt but its the stuff of life and life is change.

The moon was so bright that night. It was captivating. The playlist highlighted self love. That if we love ourselves we are loving all of our ancestors within us. Wow! Anytime you have been hurt by family, it’s just a lack of love. Pour more love in and it’ll ripple to them all. I was so glad it was dark. Tears were flowing. So much pain in my ancestry. So much pain, so many wounds. Love yourself even more was the call. Love love love.

It was almost as if the music was timed with my thoughts. Interwoven, shifting me from the roots. Seismic.

I remembered a couple of moments of grace when houses appeared as I needed to move house. In that moment the playlist spoke of moments of grace, where you get what you need, as if by magic and it creates such a silence within that nothing more is needed. If you could die so complete that would be perfect. In reality we find that completeness in waves and bursts. Moments where we trust and doubt nothing. Utterly content and connected. Whole.

The Sunday was a different story. We accidentally went sledging. We’d only planned on a walk but were blessed enough to happen upon a shop that only had two sledges left. What’s the chances?! Enroute to the woods I’d suddenly felt ‘go here first!’ The result was sledge-joy. Two hours of screaming joy! It was so good to share this with others. After nearly a year of no positive contact with strangers, it was a real tonic to connect again. Watching adults and children explode with laughter. Such a gift x

The scenery where we sledged was beautiful. Thatched cottages and a tiny row of shops selling hot chocolate and pastries. Adorable.

We walked further afield, by a ruined castle and across wide open fields. People we met smiled and greeted. So different to the head down ignore you don’t breathe covid attitude recently.

The cats were so funny, they really made us laugh. Sammy loved the snow! He was running, sliding, chasing snow balls, eating it. He was in hunting heaven as he was finally camouflaged. Our mini snow leopard.. Can you spot him?

Poppy wasn’t a fan. Although she did give him his moneys worth in fights when he came home just wanting a kip πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

The peace of our weekend was tangible. I couldn’t have asked for more. Utterly perfect. Thank you to Ady for sharing the sledge screams, cooking me my dream burger meal and binge watching Netflix series. You are an absolute star. Poppy and Sammy, you are my joy, just for being your utterly unique, unapologetic selves. You are my teachers aswell as my furbabies.

What’s the Story?

It’s serenity week and I spent a few quiet hours sorting through my mums old sewing threads and materials. Some of it was so old that I wondered what’s the story? Why is it here? Where did mum find it? Did she ever use it? Was any of it my grandma’s? Some items were so old they referred to housewives.

I imagined her still alive, telling me the stories in an off handed easy way, like we do when we’re alive and think things will be like this forever.

In a moment of stark clarity I realised that if she were alive, that moment of storytelling would be an utterly normal moment, lost in a sea of normal moments and soon forgotten. Uncherished.

I sat there utterly overwhelmed by the amount of moments we don’t cherish or truly see. The things we class as normal.

Mindfulness calls us to frame these tiny moments in life and drink them in. Let them settle into your heart. Tiny normal moments coming alive inside of you. Feeding you and nourishing your soul with life.

I love this calling and looked around my flat with wide open eyes, like my world had shifted and I could see.

I saw the trees outside my window and l drank them in. Framed and sealed them in my heart. Thing after thing after thing, taking it in, like I might never see it again. Nothing was ‘normal’, everything was a miracle. I had shifted.

That’s when I decided to take this out there. Look, really look at the world. Collect things to put into a mindfulness scrap book. The book of life.

So here goes.. I’ll take you with me. Get ready to breathe.

I noticed the abundance of spiders in the subway. I hardly ever see spiders in winter and wondered where they go. Well, here they all were, weaving their webs around the lights. I wonder what it is about light for them? Sometimes 5 or 6 per light. Webs layered like shimmering lace.

And then the call to fix me. I smiled, wondering what that story was. I hear these unsaid words so often as people start their yoga journey, until they realise its a never ending journey of breaking and fixing.

I had to laugh at the car owner who must hate jogging so much it went onto his reg plate πŸ˜‚

Moss on ancient stones, like tiny fairy forests. It’s a soft survivor. I can’t help but touch it.

The hope of spring peeks through. Hope. Such a powerful word.

Can you spot the mushrooms. I nearly missed them. I certainly would have if I wasn’t eyes wide open.

The yellow flowers are wintral bursts of incredible scent. Such a gift I drank in deep!

A micro cavern in a wall. To a mouse it would be huge. To me it was a doorway to a hundred different stories as yet unwritten. Who would live there..

Lichen and buds, glowing luminescent. A friend messaging me as I hung over a bridge to capture the shot. I smiled because he loves photography and would have understood. A moment of connection.

Strange little messages, kind of sweet, wondering what’s their story? What were they feeling when they made this and why?

Discarded items once of use. Who did they call? Was it a moment of love? Maybe it was the final goodbye. What did the bag contain? How far did it travel? Who made it? Is their energy still in its fibres? Is it happy to return to the elements? Will it now house an animal? Stories stories.. What if your superpower was to know the story of everything you touched. What if you could wonder again, weave your own stories and fill the world with life.

And the bricks πŸ˜‚ the bricks looked like the biggest ‘I can’t be arsed let’s go home/pub’ job I’ve ever seen. What’s the story?

And was the test a happy ending? What was the look on their partners face as they shared the news.

Curves and waves. Old nails coming out of brickwork. Why there? Why is it bent? What did it hold? Who made it. What are the myriad stories in its body? Everything is vibration. Do we leave our imprint everywhere we go? I sat on the bench seeing if I could feel the people before me. Would they have felt any less alone if they knew a girl would reach out to them? That they aren’t just a stranger on a bench. To her they are a miracle with eyes wide open.

And the bridge. I stared at this bridge for a long old time imagining it was the bridge of time. Pass under it and every moment becomes now. Awakened. Forever living fully in the moment, no past or future. The bridge of awakening.

What would the bridge be to you if it had a gift, a special power? Would you go back, go forward, go elsewhere. What’s the story for you?

See if you can drop into the cherishing of each moment as it arises. Look for the stories. Be an alchemist of time. Whatever surrounds you will one day be a memory, drink it in deep.

Serenity week x

Serenity

This weeks yoga theme is serenity. Each week, since the start of 2021, we’ve had a positive theme. First joy, then gratitude, now serenity.

I’m always amazed at how perfectly each theme fits my week. I awoke with a sore throat, feeling ill. I know it’s not covid as I’ve already been tested, I just knew I needed to slow down. Perfect theme.

What does serenity mean to you?

It used to mean cups of coffee in a coffee shop with Ady, somewhere lovely like Leamington Spa or Warwick. No need to talk if you felt quiet. Just sit, be fed and watered. No washing up lol. Watch the world go by or read. I loved these simple little moments followed by a slow meandering walk. No pressures or reason for being there other than relaxation and pleasure.

Recently it’s meant a flask, wellies and a canal walk during tier 4 of lockdown.

At home it could be a simple moment of beauty. A sunbeam. A cat purring on your knee. Reading a favourite story book or pulling out knitting needles and cosy wool, drifting away to the click click click of wooden needles. Pen and paper to dance the flow of creativity. Whatever I was doing, I totally let go of everything else.

My favourite times of serenity tend to be spiritual. Those moments where you suddenly realise you’re not alone, you’re loved, guided. What you need appears as if by magic or you feel enveloped on the deepest level. These moments make me feel existentially safe and that creates the biggest, deepest exhale on so many levels. Serenity follows.

I loved something I read this morning. ‘Don’t pursue serenity. Wait quietly enough and it might just perch on your shoulder like a shy little bird’.

How will this translate to our yoga asana this week? How would you weave it in? How would serenity feel in your body? Is there a pose or a style you’d creep towards? I really am looking forward to living this theme this week.

Namaste and hopefully see you on the mat x

Gratitude Week

This has been one very special week. I feel like I’ve learnt so much! The theme was gratitude. It sounded great until I hit day one of this theme and got totally triggered. I had a meeting on the Monday and by the end I felt utterly worthless, useless and rubbish. A rare feeling for me and I was drowning in it. Wave after hideous wave..

Swept away utterly by this rough tide of emotion I didn’t sleep a wink. Not one wink! On the Tuesday I was supposed to start teaching about gratitude. I could hardly keep my eyes open and I just kept bursting into tears over the coffee I was supposed to have given up for New Years. Welcome to gratitude week guys lol.

I’m participating in a year long yoga training with The Contemporary School of Yoga. I put one of the webinars on, just to try and lift myself. It spoke of radical vulnerability. A talk was posted by Brene Brown. Omg it was so beautiful. I sobbed, but this time because it was breaking my heart open. I’ll put the link to this talk at the end of this post. Shes incredible!

She was saying that one of the keys to life is connection to others. We often close down because we are scared of being vulnerable. However, we when we close to keep ourselves safe, we close on every level. We also close to joy and gratitude (my current themes). By allowing myself to be vulnerable I could open up. Gratitude didn’t have to be an Annie musical where I’d be elated and dancing down the street. I could open to it with puffy eyes, in bed, crying over my coffee. All I had to do was open up.

I suddenly knew that if I could do this with the group where I’d felt triggered, I could reestablish connection and allow myself to reopen also to joy. I took a deep breath and typed. I typed how I’d felt and why. There was no blame. It was nobodies fault. I told them my vulnerabilities in that moment and shared how I truly felt.

Amazingly most of the group replied that they also felt the same. Others had also lost sleep. We had all appeared so strong and sure of ourselves, but deep down we wondered if we were good enough, capable enough, strong enough. I think we hide these feelings a lot in groups and in life. A huge bonding and lots of humour happened as we shared how we truly felt. Connection and joy emerged, also a huge wave of gratitude.

I went on to have a beautiful week of connection and cooking, art and cats, reading and sharing. The biggest gift, however, was being brave enough to open with my vulnerabilities. To know and be known. Just open up x

Choc Chip Ice Cream

One of the things that makes me happy is healthy versions of comfort food. I’ve always had a strong intolerance to dairy and sugar sends me a bit loopy so until the appearance of this superfood era I was a bit stuck for desserts. I used to be the wierd kid who had orange juice on my cereal and dry toast.

The above recipe is too good to be true, but it’s true woohoo!!!

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 peeled, chopped and frozen banana’s
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 2 medjool dates (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • half a teaspoon xanthum gum
  • peppermint essence ( 10-12 drops should be enough, otherwise add until minty enough for you)
  • sprinkle cacao nibs or dark choc pieces
  • natural green food colouring if you like the green minty colour (some people use spinach for this, but spinach in y ice cream was a bridge too far for me lol)

Literally all you do is pop all of the ingredients except the choc or cacao nibs in the blender and blend until smooth. If using nibs I tend to sprinkle the desired amount into the blender at the end and give it a quick whizz so the nibs are smaller but not too fine.

Pop it in the freezer and voile!

If you ever want a really easy ice cream recipe, just blend frozen banana’s. That’s it. It’s yummy! You can always blend in nut butter or cacao powder or chicory/coffee for a swirl of interest.

Joy Week!

This weeks yoga theme is joy. I’m loving this theme already.

We have gone into our 3rd lock down due to Corona Virus and most of the world are miserable about it and miserable in general, understandably. People are really suffering. It’s hard. A good time to tap into reservoirs of happiness.

I’m reading a book about positive journaling. In the first topic she gets you to notice, remember and anticipate moments of happiness. These joy thoughts flood us with joy emotions. Writing about it enhances them yet further. We might be locked in physically but we can choose our thoughts and focus. You might even notice that certain things bring you joy that you’d forgotten about, things you could do more of or read about whilst you can’t. I didn’t realise that most of my happy thoughts were about peaceful moments or enlightening times. I could definitely invest in both of those things during lock down.

Today’s moment of joy lasted half of the day and was unexpected. I was cooking and out of the blue decided to put on a random 80’s playlist from I Tunes. I got hit by the boogie bug. I couldn’t keep my feet still, dancing like a loon around the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand. Poppy cat was seriously disturbed lol. I think my singing must have been the cherry on the cake for her. She decided sitting outside in the freezing cold was preferable, and shes a bed bug. She doesn’t really enjoy going outside in winter. I must have been bad.

I then received a message from a friend saying she’d done a meditation I’d sent her and felt my mum was in her meditation, telling her to party. It was unbelievable timing. I used to always dance and sing in the kitchen with my mum. It was our thing. I don’t think I’ve done it since she died years ago. On the first day I do, I get a message like that. Wow. Life is extraordinary and the magic never ceases to amaze me.

Next I hoped on my bike for the 1st time in months and cycled for hours, dance cycling with earphones in. If you drove past a woman miming songs and head bopping down the Kenilworth Road, that was probably me. I didn’t care what I looked like. The music, the freedom, wide open sky and sunshine made my heart feel like it wanted to burst. I was so happy. I can honestly say that practicing awareness of happiness will genuinely fill you up. You tend to feel what you think. See if you can go to good places in your head sometimes and see if you can do more of what you love. Ask yourself what you love. You might be surprised. If in doubt I have a meditation on joy in the library of past classes.

What does joy mean to you? What memories bubble up when you open to joy? What hopes do you have for more joy? What daily moments of happiness can you notice more? Write them if you feel to, or photograph them, share them with friends or spread a little sunshine on social media.

This isn’t an exercise in pasting over unhappiness. Cry your tears. Shake in your fears. Don’t pretend you’re ok when you’re not. This isn’t suppose to make you a fake it til you’re happy type. It’s just a gentle reminder that joy is a thing just as real as fear and sadness. You can go there when you feel to. Sometimes gently and subtly. Sometimes, like me today, full force both feet first!

Be Kind

This week’s yoga theme is mindfulness. Calming and clearing the mind. So what about those days or months when it just won’t calm. You worry. Over analyse. Catastrophise. Become obsessive. Anxious. What then?

My honest answer. Be kind.

I saw this quote today in one of my mindful workbooks and everything in me agreed. What if you could just be kind. What if that was your only aim. Be kind with your mind. It’s doing its best to protect you. It just gets a bit overzealous at times. Mine can be totally over the top throwing me into sleepless nights and exhausted days as it rubiks cubes everything it can’t control. I understand. I have so much compassion for people who are anxious. I had years of suffering chronic anxiety before I found the path I’m on, and even now I know anxiety is something we dance with all our lives.

I just don’t think mindfulness should be yet another way we harshly judge ourselves. See it as more of a ray of light to guide and soothe you. A warm sunbeam you can bathe in when it’s there, and on the days it’s hidden by clouds of thoughts, try not to panic. The sun is always shining. The clouds will part.

I love this mindful journal long book. It contains page after page of simple joy. Enjoy your home, the thrill of saying no (jono), the colours, textures, sounds, stories. If you have Netflix there’s a beautiful film called The Secret, Dare to Dream. It’s all about gentle hope. When was the last time you lay back just to listen to music? The joy of sound.

A friend recently bought me this blue angel. I love stained glass. It has pride of place in my indigo room. Angels mesmerise me. I love the thought of a being so pure its energy can cleanse the densest of places.

The little plant was bought as a baby. I adopt plants. My heart breaks as I see them dying on shop shelves. Dying of thirst. So I adopt them all. Crazy plant lady! This one utterly surprised me this morning by sprouting flowers as a thank you.

If you get the chance today, be kind to your mind. A form of mindfulness. Notice the things you love. Remember little moments that touched your heart. Allow your feelings to flow as you trust the inner river, whether it’s tears or joy. Let it flow. Watch the process with lovingkindness and you’re being mindful.

If you’re feeling creative I’ll leave you with a little story prompt. This one made me laugh. I could just imagine my cats getting so fed up of me that they finally speak. What would they say? 🀣

Feel Here Now

It was the first frost yesterday. I dashed out with my camera to capture the diamonds dancing across every surface, sparkling in the sunlight. Perfect in their impermanence.

This week we are exploring how we can ease our mind through yoga. One way, for me, is dropping into beauty. Taking the time to drink in the beauty around me. Sights, smells, textures, tastes. It evokes a vibrant humming gratitude within my heart.

It doesn’t mean I don’t feel my feelings. When I’m sad I cry. When I’m scared I freeze. When I’m confused I huddle in the muddle. I allow my feelings to wash through me as I process them, normally with a cat in tow. Cats have a knack of knowing when you’re emotionally constipated.

No matter what you are feeling, you are still allowed to access the here and now. Sometimes we think we have to sort ourselves out before we can let go and enjoy living. How would it feel to let go and favour the senses of your body over your tangled thoughts and emotions. It’s not denial or escapism. It’s a way of creating space, of giving your nervous system a break, and it actually helps your brain to problem solve. It’s way of telling yourself that no matter what you face you are alive today and worthy of self love. Worthy of giving yourself the time and care to taste your tea and smell a rose.

Sometimes I dance with my emotions as I do this. I write about the dying rose I’m witnessing as I drop into the space within me that is also experiencing a death or a transition. I eat dark, bitter foods, like cacao, when I’m facing dark intruding experiences. Processing even through my taste. Being here now, but also mingling with my inner world. Mindfulness doesn’t just have to be ignoring your thoughts. It can be a gentle favouring of a physical sensation which then gives your mind enough space to process and feel in order to integrate (another word for yoga).

We don’t do this in order to integrate. We do this because we are here to live. We were given life so that we could enjoy living (I believe).

My mum always taught me that it’s OK to try and untangle yourself, but don’t forget to live. She urged me to enjoy every day, as much as I can. Let go of worry and be in the moment, in any way possible. She said this as she was terminally ill, having just lost her husband. She said this smiling. Fathomless.

At times these words were beyond my reach. With age, they’ve settled into my bones and being. I make sure, every day, I take the time to fully enjoy something beautiful and be here now. Cry my cry but drink my tea, or as mum once hilariously said “quit your whining and put your wine in”.. πŸ˜‚πŸ·

Self Care 2

One of the things that’s brought me simple nourishment has been a gentle practice of gratitude.

I found this little journal in WH Smiths a few weeks ago. It’s so beautiful and full of inspiration. It reminds me of the things already in my life that make me happy x

I found a way to cat proof my plants. I now have hanging gardens lol. I’m surrounded by little bits of beauty and wonder every day. I just need to drink them in. Flowers, cats, books, friendship, light, colours. It’s endless.

What will you soak into your heart today?

Self Care

Focusing upon self care this week is a real gift. Self care for the physical body, or Annamaya kosha in yoga.

Part of this week’s care is daily walks with a camera. Yesterday I hung out with the squirrels at Coventry Cathedral. They eat out of your hand and just melt my heart. I went to Wilkos to buy them peanuts and spent the next hour in simple joy. A man stood to my left doing the same. We smiled at each other in quiet recognition of the simple, slow things in life. He said he did this often. Maybe I should too.

I’ve been reading a book on slow living. Appreciating the beauty and bounty all around you. Savouring each day and daily journeys.

When you take pictures, it helps you to really see.

I love moss. It’s so soft but strong, ancient and silent. It has always given me a quiet awe, then I found out that it’s one of the oldest plants on earth. You’ll often find me stroking it as I walk by, wondering why others don’t.

Have you experienced the story The Secret Garden? All she wanted was a piece of earth. It healed her soul. It healed her friends body. The magic of nature.

This beautiful garden is in the city centre. I always gaze through the gate, wondering how it would feel to sit within its strong walls, feeling held. I’ve never seen a soul in there. I wonder why? You wouldn’t be able to prise me out.

Sometimes I write my dreams on a leaf and then set it free to the earth or float it on a body of water. The ancients believed trees were an axis to the heavens. A conduit for prayers. It makes sense to me.

As part of your self care for the body, why not slip outside quietly, take a camera and capture the soft magic. I’d love to see what you find. I love sharing my soul with you. Maybe you could share yours too x

With love and kindness for your journey, Amanda xx