Day 60: Juicylicious

Being grateful for Jason Vale’s 5 day juice cleanse:

I’ve been juicing for five years and it’s honestly changed my life.

I’d been a pretty unhealthy eater up until that point. But when a dear friend introduced me to juicing, it was a revelation.

It opened my eyes to the goodness of fresh produce and the benefits of clean eating. I particularly love how much clearer my mind is and how much more energy I have when I cut out the crap food.

The effervescent Jason Vale, aka the ‘Juicemaster’, runs a free ‘Big Juice Challenge’ online four times a year. I have the ‘5lbs in 5 Days’ app which contains shopping lists, recipes and much needed coaching videos. But you also get these via email, once you’ve signed up.

Each day there’s a ‘behind the scenes’ video of Jason to cheer us on and he gives shout outs to some of the 30,000+ folk from 128 countries who’ve also signed up.

His enthusiasm is really contagious, he keeps me inspired and motivated, and he gets me through any wobbly moments. I’m also spurred on by my fellow juicers and hearing of their progress and success.

I try to take part in each ‘Big Juice Challenge’ throughout the year, as it works as a reset button.

And I really needed it this time.

There’s a lot of temptation around me, for foods that I crave but aren’t good for me. And sometimes I just don’t have the energy or the willpower to ignore them.

I do know that when I eat clean – which for me means, no sugar, wheat or cow dairy – I feel much lighter in my body and brighter in my mind.

But with the fluctuating nature of my CFS condition and symptoms, I find I frequently fall off the clean wagon and it can be hard to climb back on.

So I’ve decided to eat clean for twelve weeks, which will take me up to Christmas. I’m curious to see how much of a difference it makes to my CFS symptoms.

I started last week, and by Monday was itching to begin Jason Vale’s 5 day juice cleanse.

And it’s been brilliant.

I’m chuffed to bits with the results: I’ve reset my taste buds, I feel lighter and brighter, and I’ve shed 4lbs (1.8kgs).

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for Jason Vale’s 5 day juice cleanse.

Day 57: Sisterly spa

Being grateful, kind and mindful on Spa Monday:

How wonderful that today’s happy covers being kind, mindful and grateful:

Being grateful for my Spa Monday:

I love going to spas. I adore their blissful calm serenity.

For me, spending a day at a spa is a complete escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take a breath or two and soak up the therapeutic benefits they can offer.

I used to treat myself to a spa day every once in a while, especially when I lived in Germany… but that’s another story!

With my current health and financial challenges, it’s something I’ve not been able to do for quite some time. So this opportunity to go with my sister was very welcome indeed.

Being kind by treating my sister (and myself!) to a spa day:

As it was a special birthday for my sister recently, I thought it would be a real treat for her to enjoy a day of pampering. With two energetic little boys, a busy husband, and a job, she doesn’t get much time to herself, so I thought a few hours away from it all would be appreciated. And I’m happy to say it was.

As well as use of the pool, steam room and sauna – and gym but we ummmm “forgot” out kits, ahem –  the package included a spa treatment and a beauty treatment. YES! We both chose a back massage and a pedicure, my sis’ tootsies were painted a rich plum, while I opted for sparkly pink.

I also thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to spend some relaxing sisterly time together. It’s something we rarely have the chance to do. And with mum and dad kindly agreeing to pick up and look after the boys from nursery and school, we could make the most of our blissful day.

Being mindful by being present during the spa time and treatments:

I really wanted to concentrate on experiencing every precious moment of this special day, and tried to keep myself in the present moment as much as possible.

As I gently swam a few laps in the pool, I noticed how my body felt and moved in the water. And in the sauna and steam room, I focused on how my body responded to the sudden changes of temperature and environment.

Interesting, it was during the first treatment, a heavenly back massage, when my mind started to wander off on its little ownsome. But as soon as I became aware of this, I gently brought my mind back to the room and my deliciously soothing massage. Ah, such bliss.

I was also mindful with my sister as we were able both to give each other our full attention, without little munchkins tugging at her sleeve or distracting iPhones at the ready. And it was also lovely to laze on the hotel bar’s squishy, comfy sofa , enjoying a relaxing cuppa and chat before setting off back home.

A few hours on, and I’m still floating on cloud nine…

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful, kind and mindful on Spa Monday.

Day 55: Recuperate, recover and recharge

Being mindful of being gentle and kind with myself as I recuperate, recover and recharge:

The last few weeks have been pretty challenging for me, both physically and emotionally.

A few big social events, mixed with some emotional turbulence, and sprinkled with tensions at home, have triggered a flare up of my CFS symptoms.

It’s not surprisingly really.

I also lost my footing on my happy trail for a while. Thankfully I still looked for my happy, and have been writing in my gratitude journal and posting happy moments on Happier; but I just haven’t felt like writing my ‘100 days of happy’ blog.

I felt myself spiralling down and letting old negative thought patterns resurface.

And that’s ok because life is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and squiggly bits. But it’s how we respond to them that’s important.

As Oprah Winfrey asks: “Do you react to an obstacle as a negative, or do you embrace it as an opportunity to respond with the open-hearted knowledge that all will be well?”

So I’m giving myself permission to take as much time as I need to gently navigate my way through this and get myself back on track.

I’m focusing on being kind and gentle with myself. I’m calling on my healing tools to help get me through. And I know that this too shall pass and that all will be well.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful of being gentle and kind with myself as I recuperate, recover and recharge.

Day 50: Family dinner

Being grateful for family meal times and mum’s fish pie:

I love my mum’s fish pie.

Since giving up most meat (ok, ok, I’m still a sucker for a bacon sandwich!) fish pie has replaced lasagna as my favourite meal made by my mum.

Featuring cod, smoked haddock, salmon and prawns smothered in a white sauce, the mix is topped with mashed potatoes and a generous sprinkling of cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and is served with some steamed veggies.

Thursday night is our big family dinner tonight, with my sister, brother-in-law and two little nephews joining mum, dad, and me. Since I’m not a meat eater, it’s the only meal we can all enjoy together. Most weeks, when mum makes a roast dinner – which she does even in the middle of summer! –  I replace the meat part with a homemade vegetable burger. Or I have something entirely different.

But when it’s fish pie, we all eat the same. And that feels nice.

I really appreciate our family time together, even if it does get a little bit hectic at times. But it’s a happy hectic and I don’t mind that I feel so wiped out afterwards.

It’s moments like these I will always treasure, and will miss once I’m well enough to move on.

It’s sad how family sitting around the dinner table eating together is a dying tradition. It’s not surprising with how busy life can be, but I think it’s a lovely way to catch up on everyone’s day and enjoy some quality time together.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for family meal times and my mum’s fish pie.

Day 49: Autumn days

Being mindful on an early morning autumn soul stroll:

autumn soul stroll
Autumn Days

Morning shadows speckled on the ground,
Rays of sunshine warming all around.
Autumn leaves falling from the trees,
White-feathered angels blowing in the breeze.

Blades of grass glistening with the dew,
Cows all grazing, what a lovely view.
Juicy plump blackberries waiting to be eaten,
All of Mother Nature embracing this new season.

 

Day 47: Free parking

Being kind by paying for a strangers car parking by leaving money in the ticket machine:

This morning I took a soul stroll in the rain into my local town centre. As I was cutting through the town’s biggest car park, I decided to put some money in the ticket machines to pay for someone’s parking.

The idea is that the next person coming to the machine to pay would find they had two free hours of parking to enjoy on me! And to help explain this Act of Kindness, they would see my Kindness Cards with the message:

“Enjoy some free parking time on me! Have a lovely day Xxx”

Free parking kindness card

I did this for all three of the ticket machines in the car park, in the hope of making three locals smile on this dreary wet Monday morning.

I also wrote this blog address on the card, just in case they are curious. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they visited this blog and left a comment…

But if not, that’s absolutely fine too – my intention is to spread kindness in my community without expecting anything in return.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being kind by paying for a strangers car parking by leaving money in the ticket machine.

Day 46: Life’s magnificence

Being mindful on my soul stroll in between rain showers:

One of my new favourite things is going for a walking meditation in nature just after a rain shower.

There’s something really magical about the vividness of the colours and the intensity of the smells, which even has its own name: petrichor.

The air is fresher, the grass greener, the sky bluer and the vividness and fragrance of the flowers more intoxicating.

It’s pure bliss.

I loved today’s soul stroll in between the showers, my senses came alive and my spirits lifted. I immediately felt lighter and brighter.

I’m so grateful to have taken myself for this wander through such beauty: the fast-flowing brook, the red rose reaching for the sky, and my mum’s double begonia sparkling with rain drops.

fast-flowing brook

red rose reaching for the sky

double begonia

And as I gazed at the magnificent trees set against the blue sky, I took a moment to take a breath and appreciate the magnificence of life.

magnificent trees

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful on my soul stroll in between rain showers.

Day 45: Turbo Thomas Time

Being grateful for turbo Thomas time:

I. Am. Exhausted.

But, very happy.

Due to the recent family holidays, today was the first time we’ve looked after my three-year-old nephew in four weeks.

And I’d forgotten what a tornado Thomas can be.

He’s just started going to nursery in the mornings, so we now only have him from noon, with his older brother Callum arriving after school at 3:30pm.

After an hour or so inside with his Granddad, Thomas came out to join me in the garden, and it was time for some serious fun.

In the short space of around 45 minutes we covered: chalk art on the patio; hopscotch – going up to 28 under Thomas’ strict instructions, we’d have gone much further if the garage door hadn’t got in the way; blowing and catching bubbles; chasing his own shadow; and running fast around and around and around in circles with me chanting ‘Go Thomas!”.

Phew!

I was thankful for a short break while he devoured one of my healthy ice creams (made with banana, strawberry, milk and love).

I was left feeling completely wiped out, but I loved every single minute of it.

I know I need to pace myself better next week, as I was too wiped out to play with Callum but thankfully I did manage some quiet reading time with him.

I adore these precious moments with my nephews, and make sure I give myself over to them during play time. I’m always conscious about being completely present with them (see Day 22 for more on this). I wholeheartedly believe it’s the biggest gift I can give them and I know they appreciate it as much as I do.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for turbo playtime with Thomas.

 

 

Day 44: Book heaven

Being grateful for my local library:

Hello, my name is Helen and I am a bookworm 😊

Ever since falling in love with reading at a young age, settling down with a good book has been one of my favourite pastimes. In fact, English Literature classes were my favourite times at school, and was my chosen subject for ‘A’ Level and undergraduate degree.

I find being able to completely escape into a different world simply magical.

And I especially adore it when I connect with a character or two – Precious Romatswe of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, is one of my all time favourites. For me, one of the signs of a good book is missing the characters long after I’ve read the last page.

It was my current financial constraints which initially forced me to seek out my local library and I’m so happy it did! I’ve rediscovered what an amazing gift libraries are to the community, and have realised just how lucky we are to have such a wonderful free public service here in the UK.

My local library was built in 1886, and there’s something so soothing about this charming building. A world away from the hustle and bustle, it’s an oasis of calm. And there’s something so magical about stepping into this sacred space filled to the brim with stories and adventures.

I love slowly perusing the shelves in search of a new title. And as I grab a handful of potentials, I sit in one of the little chairs tucked away in the library’s nooks and crannys to read the first pages to see if I want to read on.

As well as loaning books, CDs and DVDs, libraries run book clubs, kids clubs, talks, and so many other community programmes giving us plenty of reasons to use them more.

And with our libraries under threat, I do so wish they were more appreciated and utilised more to help keep this wonderful service alive.

And of course, whenever I return books I can’t resist hiding a message on one of my Kindness Cards inside for the next borrower to find.

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being grateful for my local library.

Day 41: Healing hugs

Being mindful when giving and receiving hugs with my family:

There’s nothing like the warm comforting embrace of a long, deep hug with a loved one.

And after being home alone for the last two weeks and following an emotional few days, I really needed a big hug.

Thankfully my family were due back from their summer holidays in the sunshine. As well as looking forward to seeing them, I was also looking forward to sharing some lovely hugs with them.

This morning, I popped round for a cuppa and chat with my sis who’d returned home late last night. And of course I wanted to sneak a few hugs in: making sure I enjoyed a few snuggly ones with my three-year-old nephew Thomas, who is becoming as good as his older brother at giving the bestest hugs ever!

(I always make sure I get a nephew hug or two whenever I see them; there’s no escaping Auntie Helen’s Mega Hugs!)

Then, early this afternoon, my folks returned from their two-week holiday. As their taxi pulled up, I ran out to welcome them home, and of course, to give my mum a big welcome home hug.

I’ve really been missing my daily love-hug with my mum and followed her around the house the rest of the day, trying to grab as many hugs as I could.

It’s funny thinking back to how I used to feel a little uncomfortable and embarrassed at anything longer than a quick embrace.

And I have a dear Sydney-based friend to thank for that.

She’s a fantastic hugger. She stopped me from breaking free after a nano second and helped me overcome my hugging awkwardness! She showed me how there’s something really special about long, deep hugs. I still miss her hugs.

I totally see how there’s so much scientific evidence on their many health benefits. A meaningful hug does wonders for my wellbeing. As well as feeling loved and protected, they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And there’s also incredible benefits for giving as well as receiving. Knowing that the person I’m hugging is also receiving the bountiful benefits a hug can bring, adds to the magical experience.

As I continue to make the most of daily love-hugs with my mum, I urge you to get hugging too.

Here’s my top tips for enjoying a nourishing and heartwarming hug:

1. Pick the person you’d like to share a hug with
2. For a heart-to-heart hug, put your head to your right as you look at the other person, and place your left arm over their right arm and your right arm under their left arm
3. Hug like you mean it and be mindful not to rush it. Aim for at least 20 seconds in order to release the ‘love drug’ hormone Oxytocin, which calms the nervous system and boosts positive emotions
4. Enjoy bathing in the afterglow of your love-hug

So with this in mind, my happy for today is being mindful when giving and receiving hugs with my family.