Set the tone, love you first

Quote by me. Yes seriously I couldn’t find a quote that I liked and then BOOM I thought, why don’t I just write my own…ta-da!

Okay, today I’m rambling about self care because it’s so important. I schedule ‘me’ in to everyday. I work full time, I do pretty much all the house work, I’m a mum and I’m exhausted BUT everyday I plan time for me.

Why? Am I selfish, arrogant or living in lala land – probably. However, I’m of the opinion that if I don’t take care of my body, soul and mind then who’s going to do all the things I do everyday? Also, I do them better when I’m not stressed and ready to kill. ‘Me time’ gives me time to reflect, love, listen and realign.

How do I do it? Well I have a mini diary that lives in my clutch bag it has any little dude appointments (seriously seven year olds have the best social lives), family events, late night commitments from work anything that we as a family are doing. On a Sunday evening I look at the week ahead and schedule something in that’s time appropriate around the day we have planned. For example tonight I got home early so I committed to a 45min yoga session, writing this post and lighting an incense stick. Yesterday was crazy busy so I planned to paint my nails. The day before I had a cup of tea alone with a new book for company.

I plan ‘me time’ because otherwise I get caught up in the world of everybody else’s needs, plus if I’m having a horrendous day I know I can look forward to something that I enjoy.

On a Sunday evening before I launch in to the week ahead I usually take a long bath with some sort of luxury products, a face mask or hair treatment. I light candles, lock the door…take a glass of something with me for company and breath.

I first did this planned approach after I became a Mum. I’d lost my body, my soul was too tired to care and felt like me was disappearing. Only I like me, I’ve been with me for well…all my life, I wanted to be a Mum, evolve and seize new adventures but not at the cost of becoming someone I didn’t recognise or like very much. I also wanted my son to have the best I could offer. How can anyone fill other peoples cups of needs if their pouring jug is empty? So I fill my cup and keep it topped up daily. I plan events to look forward to that I enjoy, usually theatre trips or travelling and most of them happen either with friends or once little dude is in bed. Working full time I don’t like missing further time from him. But every now and then, he needs a break from me and it makes me a better Mummy for him when I return.

So, if you haven’t used nail polish since 2012, if you use to have a hobby that got lost along the route to that new job…seize it back, be a positive and balanced role model for your little people and those watching. Set the tone and always love you first, you’re worth it and so are those around you.

A happy soul is the best shield for a cruel world

Quote Atticus

When I’m feeling under the weather or fragile I reach for my Aran cardigan, hand made by a much loved member of my family. It’s huge, she told me I’d grow into it. Instead it’s a giant shield against the cold and soothes me when I’m feeling like I might break.

However, even living in the UK the climate isn’t always cardigan weather. As a result I often reach for my smile. It’s a great shield from the darker days, it melts the heart of strangers and eases potential stress points of my day.

Often a smile isn’t enough. On the blog I’ve often referred to my morning routine, it lights my soul before I leave the comfort and security of my bed. Its not a total barrier to the cruelty of the world but it helps me to stay centred and not fall through the cracks life often has.

To keep my shield at full power, I also need to top it up with moments of self care through out the day. It might be as simple as making something good to eat, making time for yoga, lighting a candle or speaking kindly to myself. These moments allow my shield to wrap others around me with warmth and care.

Self care is a little more complex than a face mask and making time to pamper yourself (although I highly recommend doing both, it gives you great skin, is fun and you feel fab inside and out). Self care is also about checking the people around you serve you and help you to grow, it’s about walking away from the negative, acting with integrity and coming from a place of love, joy and happiness. It’s about looking inside and having critical conversations with yourself. Note I used the word critical and not cruel.

There are other things you can do if you feel like your smile might crack, you can avoid negative energy – mainstream media, people who only want to gossip and moan. Imagine you’re a magnet – what do you want attract? Stay close to people who treat you well, in turn treat them well. Be creative, dance, pop on some lipstick / take off the lipstick and rock a messy bun, serve yourself and you will surround yourself with the highest good and that may mean saying ‘no thank you’ to invitations, or perhaps facing fears and feeling a sense of achievement. We are all individual, we have different needs and different desires but we all know deep down what makes us happy, make time in this busy world to do more of that and watch the rays of negativity dissipate, you may find the cruel world backs off and your shield defences aren’t needed. Focus your attention on the positive, attract the positive and buckle up for a happier world around you.

I’m not ageing, I just need repotting.

Quote Anon.

Many of us over the last few months have spent more time at home than ever before. Its given me more time to reflect, be present and show my house plants more love.

Each plant has its own needs, much like humans. Some explode in colour, take up all the room and fight for the light. Others, slowly grow, creep and stay snug in their pots. To nourish the plants I often give them a little feed, again some prefer regular watering, but most like their roots to dry out. I’ve also now got a window sill full of babies ready to be rehomed, as I pot each offspring in their own pot, much like my son I do love watching them flourish.

It made me think about my own ‘pot’ and I’ve taken to a daily yoga practise to make room. Ive also meditated more (something I find hard to make part of my daily practise, even though I know its super good for me on many levels). On reassessment of my pot, I guess I am ready to move pots – I need new challenges and the view has become a little stale.

Bravely, I’ve taken action and am planning new pot adventures, giving nourishment to my roots, making space and prioritising what its important to my core, it’s time to top up the soil and move on to bigger things.

Today I was blessed to receive an email from an ex-pupil who updated me on her adventures, at eighteen she’s realised that adult life isn’t mapped out (no shizzle) and that a sense of purpose isn’t as accessible as an amazon prime delivery. I was extremely proud that she has been using this time to reflect, to make plans to leave her ‘pot’ in hope for more enriched and a deeper sense of joy. We don’t have to all live BIG. We don’t all need to be loud. In fact, as I age – I realise that my house plants who are brave enough to grow a new leaf, to reach out into the light…they are some of my favourites.

Make time to restore your pot, nourish the soil, eat well, stay hydrated – we are all just plants with complex emotions.

Do whatever you need to do to flourish – but don’t allow yourself to become pot bound, to wonder the ‘what ifs’ and rot over watered and stagnant just because your pot is comfortable.

You must be shapeless, formless, like water.

Quote / poem / thoughts by Bruce Lee.

Todays post is inspired by Bruce Lee, before I ramble – id like to share the piece in its entirety.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Simply beautiful.

I became aware of these words as I listen to the GABA podcast (and urge you to do the same), during a live on instagram Adam the creative and talented creator of GABA usally shares a reading, poem, lyric or thought before a meditation sound bath…one of them was the Bruce Lee reading above. It taught me two valuable things.

The first was to let go…truly let go. Today I had no idea what I would achieve, I let go of constructs such as time – we ate when we were hungry (so much simpler), at the back of my mind I repeated to myself a new mini mantra ‘be like water’….the time we have now, albeit unknown and at times concerning, is also a blessing for me personally. Grounded to home, time with my boys – a blessing that I’m also aware could be snatch back to school runs, work schedules, traffic jams and to do lists at any moment. However, through my days water experiment I found far more joy in the now, zero stress and bizarrely I was more productive. Perhaps opening ‘to do’ tabs of the mind, answering emails in under six minutes (the average response time to an email in 2020) and being productive, is ironically time consuming and unproductive?

We took ourselves off for walks amongst the bluebells (thank you Mother nature), connected with loved ones through various technologies and my sons home schooling happened much more like a running river than a mother (me) juggling and trying to overachieve whilst walking on hot coals and simultaneously smiling. It gave me a deeper sense of connection and gratitude for the simple delights of life and I’m addicted.

The second thing Bruce’s words taught me were about collaboration. Adam obviously had scribbled them down because they resonated with his creative flare, in turn he shared them with his audience and gave me inspiration for a blessed day and as many more ‘be like water’ moments and days as I can flow into my life, this is turn inspired me to write this piece….and once again, creativity seems to bring a sense of calm, restorative joy and flow to life.

I should probably wrap this writing up with a bow, a witty line or perhaps a single sentence… or you could just listen to Bruce, be like water and perhaps you will leave the confinements of being squeezed into a plastic bottle and will indeed find your own flow.

Accountability breeds response-ability.

Quote by Stephen Covey.

Earlier in the week I listened to a podcast called Happy Place; it’s host is the dazzling Ferne Cotton and she was speaking to Russell Brand. They were discussing the current pandemic and how they as individuals are dealing with it (well worth a listen and available on all joyful podcast platforms from Spotify to Apple)…I enjoyed listening to what they had learnt through the process of having less routine, lockdown moments of joy as well as feelings of anxiety and the unknown. Ferne in particular made a point that resonated with me, she was talking about how her husband Jessie had been asking their elderly neighbour if they needed anything from the supermarket and had spoken together about why they had never done this previously. On my Instagram page I have been running a hashtag over the last few weeks called #kindnessiscontagious and I thought it was a lovely lesson to have learnt, that probably had a huge impact on their neighbour.

However half way through I felt myself become overwhelmed and frustrated, both of them were saying things like ‘I hope society doesn’t forget the things we have learnt during this time’ ‘we will probably return back to how things were’ and I found myself shouting at my iPhone. Two hugely influential celebrities weren’t committing themselves to making a change. Imagine the impact they could have made it rather than hoping they stated what they intending to continue to do.

Everyday we learn lessons (and often I relearn lessons I should of learnt the day before) its part of the human condition and I like to think we are all trying to be better people, living better lives. However, improvement whether it be spiritual, physical or action based can’t occur unless we take responsibility.

I have a very dear friend and we often make each other accountable with what we plan to achieve in the coming weeks, we then check in on how those projects are going. By sharing my ideas it makes me more likely to achieve them – its one of the reasons weigh-ins in corporate companies like Weight watchers have huge success.

I know that if I want to accomplish something, I need to take action (however small) to move forward, it’s the recipe for perpetual motional success and more importantly, making a change.

Therefore, in the coming weeks I’m going to start a new hashtag (because hashtags solve all issues) #lockdownlesson where I will share, and I warmly invite you to play along, what you plan to continue to do once the lockdown is over.

All you need to do, is use the hashtag above, note down (and therefore take responsibility) for what you plan to continue to do and add my instagram handle @fridgesays so that I can share your lesson on my stories to inspire others.

It doesn’t matter if your lesson is profound (meditating daily – this is the something that I hope to achieve and am committed to), simple (walking more), sparks joy (wearing pyjamas during the day – something my son has become accustom to), increasing your physical strength, keeping a stock pile of toilet rolls in, washing your hands more or like Ferne suggested – reaching out to neighbours and building a stronger sense of community. Each lesson is worthy and will become a drop in the ocean to a more awesome planet.

Thank you in advance for playing along, if each of us take and action just one small lesson – imagine how awesome our planet would becomes and how this pandemic can be a positive experience.

Write until you surprise yourself

Quote Anon

I do this all of the time, sometimes when I read back over all blog posts, I can’t remember thinking the paragraphs I’ve typed, let alone the structure, point or pressing publish…in fact, often I don’t even remember writing the content.

This is why today’s quote will hopefully encourage you to write a little more. Perhaps you have your own blog, a note book, a secret diary or a shopping list. From published authors to list gurus there is always a little more time to write in my opinion.

In school when my pupils are overwhelmed with emotion and they don’t even know why they are feeling the way they are, I usually present them with a pencil and some paper – sprinkle with half an hour of uninterrupted time and the answer is usually somewhere between the doodles and waffle. Letting your mind go free with the written word is one of the best gifts we can give to each other. As the pencil flows across the page somewhere between “I don’t know why I’m writing this” to the ‘love from xxx’ magic happens.

I feel like writing allows me to ‘speak’ from my inner core, a place that’s always in harmony. Over the last few weeks I’ve increased my writing, due in part to having more time but mainly because the need has increased. With more uncertainty comes the need to further anchor the soul, the body tends to follow. If you ‘can’t write’ or if you have previous described yourself as someone who ‘doesn’t do writing’ (like my son – he has an extreme allergy to holding a pencil and sitting still) or perhaps you are looking for a sign…here it is! Pick up a pencil, create the writing area you are most comfortable in (mine includes a cup of Green Jasmin tea), find a platform you are most comfortable in…paper, typing / online or in private and see where the nib of the pen takes you, or the journey of the mouse on your device.

Most of all, don’t overthink it, enjoy the process and thank me later.

You approached it like it was heavy, so it was

Have you ever worked your socks off on a project and it’s gone nowhere, done something by accident and it’s been a huge success?

Perhaps you’ve put huge effort into a meal for your family and nobody said a thing, threw some random things in a pan (that not even you know what’s in there) and the family couldn’t compliment it enough.

Or the worst of all…you saw a challenge, thought it looked too big and walked away without even trying, as a result you’ll never know if it would of worked out or not?

Yesterday morning my son called me downstairs to ‘see his new trick’ I put my best ‘Mummy cares’ face on and humoured him. He then blew my mind and lifted the sofa. Apparently he has been secretly practising for sometime and yesterday was the day of success. I called his Daddy down (who adores lifting anything of any weight) and once again my son lifted the sofa… I then tried, knowing it was blooming heavy as I usually ask the Mr to lift it for me when I’m hoovering. I failed. My son beamed and my mind was blown that my seven year old is now stronger than me…I mean it’s not a huge surprise but still it took a moment to adjust. Later that day when sat snug on the sofa I asked him how long he had been practising ‘just a few days really, I’d seen Daddy do it and thought I’d give it a go’….then I realised that he’d approached it with a can do attitude. I had not. I realise for the benefit of this story I should now write that I then adjusted my attitude and voila we are like Disney’s incredible, but seriously how many people need to lift a sofa in one house (plus I’m aware of the dust that this new craze is creating)

However, I learnt a new phrase this week that is ‘reframe’ and it’s an alternative to perspective. My son reframed his view of the sofa and what I do think is valuable is reframing goals that are important to you. When you are feeling low, gradually reframe your view with drops of joy. When a task seems to large like lifting an elephant (or in our house a sofa) perhaps break down the task to bite size actions.

Give it a go this week, when you feel a negative itch or feel a sense of being overwhelmed… reframe and perhaps those giant goals will seem as light as a feather.

You must find happiness right where you are.

Quote from Disneys Moana.

We’ve begun the Easter holidays in the UK. For the last few days I’ve grown in happiness because that is what I’m choosing to see, feel and look for. Let me tell you more.

The sun is shining and this is both rare and delightful. I usually always post on Sundays, I know that consistent content is key to the growth of my blog, but my blog won’t grow without me writing it…yesterday was the hottest day in England so far this year, so I grabbed my share of vitamin D and headed into the garden for the day. Pottering, sipping drinks in the garden and soaking up rays of joy were on my agenda. As a result, I feel better for it, so much better that I have more energy to give, more time to share and my blog didn’t suffer from a 24hr lack of content and doesn’t feel like a chore to write.

This morning my son and I walked down to our local cafe (they are doing take away / deliveries) we grabbed a piece of cake each and to increase the happiness for others, grabbed two extra slices for my sons grandparents. We left the box of delight on the doorstep, waved through the windows and saw them smile. Happiness isn’t always in the receiving.

Happiness is many small particles, much like dust that if you blink you miss BUT if you choose to see, multiply and can be seen even in the darkest of moments. Sometimes its not about what you desire in the future but what you have now that counts. We all have different blessings if we choose to see them. For example, my sons knee has a scab on it from where he fell over a few days a go. He asked what a scab was and I explained it was a sign the body was healing, a protective barrier so that underneath the body could knit itself back together whilst keeping out the germs from the outside and the good stuff inside…he renamed it his armour and now wears it with pride. In every moment in every day we have millions of moments to see joy or to see a scab.

Don’t worry about what ‘they’ have or where ‘they’ are going. Look around you and at this very moment, no matter how bleak life can seem there is always something to be thankful, kind, grateful or happy about. Moana is one of my favourite Disney characters and this uplifting quote serves as a reminder that if you want to live a positive life, you simply MUST make happiness a priority.

The time goes by faster than you can imagine.

Quote from John Cooper

Ive just been pondering the concept of time. I thought you couldn’t grab it, smell it or taste it but I think perhaps you can…when I see sepia photographs of the past or historical books – I can see time has unfolded (not to mention facebook photos of myself from a decade or two ago), when I smell fresh cut cucumber I’m taken on a journey back to my childhood on my Grandads allotment. He always use to grow me a ‘L’ for Lucy and I always left feeling super important, never fully appreciating that the straight cucumbers with little fragrance in the supermarket weren’t really the real deal.

Mainly, I think we all ‘feel’ time…the pressure or perhaps the weight of it. Routines seem to consume time, turning days into brief moments and daunting minutes still to come are granted a loss of several nights sleep. Its often something we never have enough of, a little like its sister Money. We desire it and then often, when we have it in abundance we aren’t sure what to do with it? Wasteful sunday afternoons spent in and out of sleep on the sofa watching films we’ve seen before, or long walks that have no particular start, end or anything in between.

We remember the good times and of course the bad, we celebrate specific times – birthdays, holidays and traditional moments throughout the year. We bank some memories for rainy days and look back with fondness or regret. But mainly, the times keeps ticking and we take it for granted. Never fully grasping its precious gift of now.

Perhaps you’re like me and try and live in the now, but that in itself seems to create a bigger void between you and it? I’m afraid I don’t have any wisdom for this…i’m still working it out, I do know a few things; meditation is more powerful than we’d like to think and easier than everyone else makes out, but ultimately the best way to make the most of the fragile time we do have is grasp it with both hands, travel, listen to music, cook, practise yoga, run…do whatever it is that makes you smile. Seek the sun, drink the tea, surround yourself with wonderful people that make you happy and go to bed each night knowing you lived the best day you could with everything you had available to you. After all, that’s all any of us have – right now.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf

Quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Our front door was always a rotating flow of coming and goings; deliveries coming in, errands flowing out, school routines backwards and forwards, family and friends… it currently stands still, a barrier that keeps us safe as we cocoon inside.

Many (understandable) are fearful of the future and even of the now. However, when I saw this quote it summed up how I felt in this moment. We can’t stop the waves and perhaps we shouldn’t even try – perhaps everything is as its meant to be, however chaotic and alien it may feel. Perhaps this is the break that not only our planet needs, but our minds, bodies and souls need. I read an article that fish have returned to the canals of Italy, that air quality is improving and the ozone layer is fixing itself at a rapid pace.

The word ‘routine’ seems alien, that up until a few weeks a go was essential to our productivity…we pause…we adjust and perhaps if we learn or attempt to surf, to enjoy the tides, to ride high and fall with the flow of the waves…perhaps rather than feel anxious, we can instead feel blessed.

We can’t deny the waves that wash over our planet, we can’t control them and so it makes sense to allow them to wash over us. For me that means enjoying every moment with my family, using technology to face time loved ones further away, living in the now and making do with what we have got, rather than worrying about what we don’t have. I’ve only ever body surfed, but it was a lot of fun and perhaps in the future I’ll take some lessons and learn how to surf for real, until then I’ll watch Moana and take inspiration from lyrics such as…

We read the wind and the sky when the sun is high
We sail the length of the seas on the ocean breeze

At night, we name every star
We know where we are
We know who we are, who we are

Perhaps in this uncertain time, as we take time to pause we will also learn a little more about who we are and develop a deeper sense of purpose, that to me seems like a wave worth riding.