Be a nice human

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I’m asking The Universe/God for a miracle tonight.

The Scottish people have cast their votes, and those votes are now being counted.

By tomorrow morning we will know if we are still part of the United Kingdom or if we are an independent country.

Whatever the decision, we will need to come together and get on with it.

There are divisions in this country, deep ones, and there are strong feelings on both sides. Most people are sensible, balanced and respectful of the opposition. However, some people have been caught up in the emotion of the whole event and have been spouting vitriol and hatred.

These divisions run deep, I have friends and family on both sides of the debate, and all I want is that we all live in peace and harmony going forward, whatever the decision.

That we all make the best of whatever outcome we have, and that the political engagement, sense of community and capacity to get things done continues and is applied to many worthy causes.

Please pray tonight that that happens. That as a country the wounds that have been exposed during this long campaign can heal and we move forward as one.

x

Love Yourself Now

I haven’t posted on here in ages. I’ve been meaning to, have thought about things I’d like to write about, but never seemed to get around to it. Life just got in the way.

Yesterday I read a fantastic blog post, by Neghar Fonooni who is an awesome trainer and writes an amazing blog called Eat, Lift and Be Happy (definitely check it out). It’s a guest piece she has written on Molly Galbraith’s blog (who is another fantastic trainer and inspiring writer).

So anyway, I read this post and I so related.

How many of us women hate our bodies on a daily basis? Look at ourselves in the mirror and find fault? Ignore all the positive things, all the amazing things about ourselves.

The mountains you’ve climbed (physical and metaphorical), the babies you’ve grown, the feats you’ve accomplished. All of that gets forgotten the moment you’re in the changing rooms somewhere with shitty lighting and trying on something that’s cut for a teenager (Lulu Lemon changing rooms anyone?!).

We forget how beautiful we all are. We forget how strong we are. We forget how amazing we are.

We need to learn how to love ourselves AS WE ARE RIGHT NOW. How to love every part of ourselves. And that is hard, and difficult and complicated. Because we’re not raised to. We’re not encouraged to. It’s always about losing that last 5 lbs, or getting that bikini body or reaching some ever moving standard.

But that’s all bullshit! We are all beautiful. As we are. Right now.

Give yourself permission to love yourself now. Then read this. It’s awesome  http://mollygalbraith.com/2014/07/ripped-and-miserable-how-neghar-fonooni-gained-body-fat-and-got-her-life-back/

After the rain

I haven’t posted on here in a while.  Not because I haven’t had anything to say, but because I haven’t known how to say it.

The last while I haven’t been myself. Or more to the point, I haven’t been how I see myself. And that in itself upset me.

For the last while I’ve been suffering from anxiety. Horrific anxiety.

The anxiety has woven it’s way into my life. It’s icy tentacles have snuck up on me. All of a sudden they have appeared, and snaked into my daily being. Stealthily, sneakily. Knowing that if they had been bold and sauntered in confidently I would not have let them pass. But because they have slowly, insidiously made their way in, I have allowed them to travel into my very being, into my core.

And I hate that. I hate the very fact I let them in. That I allowed them into my soul.

Because once they are in, they are a bugger to get out.

So for a few weeks, it was horrid. It was as if someone else was inside me, taking over my outlook. Changing it from sunshine to black. Making everything negative, and taking the very nucleus of who I am and turning it into someone I didn’t recognise. That every thought was a hostage, each and every thought was taken over by something out of my control. And twisted into something I didn’t recognise, something that wasn’t me.

Because I’m not like that. I see the positive in everything. I see the sunshine where others see rain. I see the rainbow before it even appears to anyone else. My entire ethos of being is one of positivity and light.

But that disappeared.  And I thought it was gone forever.

And I didn’t know what to do.

I’m the person others rely on to get them out of the hole. To turn them around when they’re feeling shit. So what should I do when I suddenly find myself down that hole too? In the blackness and feeling that icy grip of anxiety around my heart and the loss of confidence that goes alongside it?  All the while hiding the anxiety from everyone around me. Looking at me, talking to me, no one would have known.

It took me a while to realise, it took a good while. I admit, at first, I thought the blackness had won. That I had to lie down and take it. But then I asked myself what I would tell someone else to do in this situation?  What would I say to a friend in this position? I would tell them to take stock, to look around and see all that they are grateful for, to understand that this feeling is not them. That this feeling is temporary. That this shall pass.

And it did.

I admit, I called upon every skill and trick I have learned over the years. I meditated. I breathed. I did self hypnosis. I took walks. I went to the water. I stood barefoot in the grass. I ate clean. I trained hard. I did yoga!

I made a conscious effort to take one step at a time, to get through the hour, two hours, the afternoon, the day. Bit by bit, minute by minute, putting one foot in front of the other.

And I did. 

I got through it. Some days were hard, horrible. I would have a couple of hours feeling great, then all of a sudden, the anxiety would strike without warning. I would be going about my day, feeling fine and then all of a sudden that icy feeling would begin to snake around my belly, climbing to my heart, clutching it in it’s icy embrace and finally making it’s way into my head – filling it with unhelpful thoughts and feelings. It was the incessant negative chatter in my head that was the worst.

For a few days it got worse and worse, building, until finally it reached a crescendo. The noise inside my head became deafening and almost without respite.

Then suddenly, almost as soon as it had begun, it began to dissipate.

The yoga helped. The breathing helped. The getting close to nature helped. The standing ankle deep in the cold water of the loch helped.

I can’t say which out of all the things I tried helped the most. Or if it was all of the things I did. But eventually, the anxiety began to leave.

Slowly, gradually. Not fast enough for me (I’m not the most patient!). But much to my delight, the anxiety began to disappear.

And I became me again.

So why am I telling you this?

Because sometimes being a warrior isn’t about how hard you fight. Or how bloody the battle. It’s about making it out the other side. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other and being bloody minded and fighting through until you find your own way out. And it may take a while, it might take you longer than others, and you may go all around the houses to find the way out. But you will make it out, to taste the sweetness on the other side.

And after the rain, the flowers always smell so sweet.

 

 

Watching the movie unfold

Photograph by Karen Brown

Photograph by Karen Brown

Do you ever feel like you’re watching the movie of your life?  That you’re outside, watching it unfold: seeing the panoramic shots, the shot of you looking out a window while atmospheric music plays, and watching the plot twists and turns?

Do you look on and see the events that seem random but later on in the story you notice how the plot lines come together and that coincidence or twist of fate wasn’t so random after all – it took you to where you were meant to be or put someone in your life that you were meant to meet?

The hardships and obstacles that seemed insurmountable at the time but watching the movie you can see the benefits they brought and the lessons learned.

The people who come into the story, those who disappear, some who turn up again much further into the plot, seemingly out of the blue.

Songs that play in the background that have a special meaning.

Images that are fuzzy and black and white, others that are clear and bright and colourful.

And the feeling you get when you know the movie is about to get exciting, that something is building, the story is going to change into something entirely wonderful and new.

That’s how I feel right now.

 

Healthy Egg Mayonnaise (without the mayo!)

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This is my new favourite food.  I need to give a shout out to Brittany Mullins of www.eatingbirdfood.com for putting me on to this combo.  I’ve not stopped eating it since I read her post about it recently!  Check out her site, it has loads of delicious recipes on it.

Egg mayo without the mayo.  Perfect for those of you who are eating clean, or who can’t eat mayonnaise.  It’s even better than regular egg mayo.  I’ve adapted the original recipe slightly, below is my version of it.

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled then cooled and shelled
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1-2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • cider vinegar (a splash or so)
  • salt and pepper
  • curry powder
  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  1. Mash the eggs in a bowl
  2. Add the avocado, mashing it and stirring it into the eggs
  3. Add the mustard and spring onions and cider vinegar
  4. Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste
  5. Leave to sit for a few minutes to allow the flavours to combine

Yummy!

A fish out of water

My name is Catherine and I’m a recovering vegetarian.

I stopped eating meat when I was 12 years old. That wasn’t yesterday so it’s been a good while since any meat passed my lips. Mind you, by the time I stopped eating it and officially assumed vegetarian status; I had restricted my diet to only a few meat items and absolutely no chicken or fish – so it wasn’t a hardship to give up entirely.  Ethical reasons were never the main factor in the decision.

I never missed it, never looked at anyone’s plate and thought I was missing out on anything.  Never thought a steak looked appetising or that chicken smelled enticing.  Never ate fake meat products that were designed to look and taste like meat items.  Didn’t see the point.  In fact, chicken to me actually smelled off, like there was something wrong with it.  For a long while I couldn’t sit beside someone eating it, or be in the same room as a raw chicken.

Becoming vegetarian all those years ago, then finding out I was allergic to pretty much the whole world, did have some benefits. I had to learn to cook, I had to learn to experiment. It wasn’t easy, eating out was never fun. Scotland was never at the forefront of vegetarian cooking and going on holiday and finding places I could get something to eat was a task.  I could end up eating one or two meals for the duration of the holiday and restaurant menus that include the items ‘mushroom risotto’ and ‘vegetarian stroganoff’ are still likely to enrage me. (Oh and macaroni or lasagne with chips. Rage, honestly!)

But still I persisted, and didn’t have any inclination to change my diet and include animal flesh.  (Even typing that phrase still freaks me out.)

Then a few years ago, I started to notice a change.  I started to notice when people around me ate fish that it looked appetising. I remember a good few years ago being out for dinner with a boyfriend and he ordered salmon. It arrived and I remember thinking ‘that looks really good’. But still I didn’t ask to try it, or attempt to cook it.

The desire to eat fish crept up on me, I started to notice it more and more, it was like it was suddenly everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by it. But still I couldn’t actually go ahead with it.  Even though I really wanted to do it, there was a mental block, something just stopped me.  It was almost as if I was being given signs from the universe everywhere I went to expand my diet, but I couldn’t figure out how.  I had the desire, I knew what the benefits to doing it would be, but I just couldn’t figure out the how….

Eventually I found someone to help me.  I was training in clinical hypnosis and NLP and all of the students had to practise on one another.  One of my fellow students used an NLP tool and after that I had my first taste of fish in all those years. Out for lunch with my mum and aunt, my aunt ordered the fish of the day and I felt myself drawn irresistably towards it, much to the surprise of my lunch companions.

Since then it hasn’t been plain sailing, I’ve continued to eat white fish but nothing more. It has given me more choice when I eat out, which has been a bonus.  Then last week I was out for dinner and decided to try salmon.  And halibut.  Might as well go for 2 new experiences in one shot!  I didn’t stress over it, didn’t give myself the chance to think about what I would do if I didn’t like it. I just made the decision and went for it.  Now, to most people that wouldn’t seem like such a big deal.  But to me it was huge.  It was like I’d crossed an imaginary line and now that I had done that, other things seemed much more possible, other food items like prawns or lamb or whatever seemed like they may happen one day.  Not promising it will happen straight away but they weren’t ruled out forever.  And that gave me more choice, which is always a good thing.

When I speak to people about changing their diet and ask them to give up certain foods a lot of the time they dismiss it and say ‘that’s too hard’, or ‘what will I eat’.  Or ‘it’s ok for you, you eat that weird stuff anyway, you don’t know how hard it is’.  Well I do.  I know how difficult it is to change your diet, to start eating things that you have no idea how to cook, or what to do with.  To try things you’re not sure if you’ll like.  It’s not easy, it requires a leap of faith.  But I do it anyway because I want to increase my choice.  To increase my health.  And I can see and feel the benefits.  I know I’m not going to like everything, and after so many years of not eating any meat, fish etc it’s going to take a bit of getting used to and it’s going to require a mental adjustment that’s not as easy as just deciding to eat meat.  Not only that, I need to figure out who I am again. After self identifying as a vegetarian for so many years – what am I now?  A recovering vegetarian? A pescatarian? Or just someone who is choosy about what she decides to put in her body and values health over anything else?

So next time you’re thinking about making changes, whether changing your diet or something else entirely.  Don’t think about huge big goals, about making sweeping changes. Take it one step at a time.  Maybe increase your water intake or cut down your soda consumption.  Or start moving for 15 minutes a day.  Whatever you feel you can start with, then do it.  After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

 

Walking off the lead…

Change, it’s a recurring theme for me recently.

Not only me, the people around me are feeling it too. Clients, family, friends, change is in the air. Not sure if it’s to the forefront at the moment because it’s Spring.  Or at least meant to be.
Anyway, change.  It’s a powerful decision.  To decide to make things different.  Sometimes you make the decision yourself, other times it’s made for you.
The other day I took my sister’s dog out a walk.
All ready for her walk, cute as a button in her coat

All ready for her walk, cute as a button in her coat

Molly is kind of insane.  She’s been to dog training and started chaos with all the other dogs there. She’s ben hyper since she was brought home.  She jumps — continuously, and leaps about on her back legs.  Not sure anyone has told her dogs walk on all four….  My sister got a dog trainer to come to her house and do one to one training.  The trainer said that Molly was hugely anxious and that was why she was behaving in that way. After that lesson, she was much better.  She calmed down a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s still got a way to go, she’s not going to be taking any prizes in Crufts anytime soon.  But she’s much more settled and she’s becoming better at walking on the lead.  Previously she would pull and run ahead, ending up choking herself on the collar.  Now she’s getting better at walking on the lead and taking her time.  So change can happen in a short period of time, even when it seems like it never will, and make a big difference.
When Molly’s anxiety cleared and she realised she didn’t need to be so anxious all the time, then her behaviour changed  How many things in our life make us anxious, how many of these ‘choke’ us daily and prevent us from walking forward in our lives?
Calm enough now to go for a paddle!
This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about change. I’ve had conversations with  few different people. Some people have change foisted upon them because of changes that happen in their lives.  Others feel they are ‘stuck’ and think that big changes are the way forward for them. Both of these situations are making people anxious.
So i invite you to learn a lesson from Molly’s experience…. What is making you anxious just now? What changes or proposed changes are causing you anxiety?  Is it a change you want to make but aren’t sure how?  Is it a change that you feel you need help with?  For a moment, let that anxiety clear, put it down for a bit.  You can pick it up again later if you choose to :).  But unload whatever worries you have about the change for now, the questions of how to go about it or what will happen next. And just think about how you will feel when you have made that change.
Picture it, in your mind, the outcome of the change.  Get the image clear and bright and perfect.  Notice how you look in the picture, what you’re wearing, how you are walking. Listen to what is happening around you.  Are people complimenting you on making that change?  What are you saying to yourself?  Feel what it feels like to have made that change. To have achieved that goal. And notice how much easier it is now to move forward in your life.
You may find you don’t want to pick those anxieties up again, but instead choose to be free of them, and walk forward into the new you with ease….
Getting better at walking to heel!

Getting better at walking to heel!

Clean curry

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Another recipe for you today.

I love a curry.  This isn’t a particularly hot one, but it is nice and warming on a cold day like today. The recipe below makes quite a large amount of curry.  It always tastes better the next day but there should still be some left over for the freezer for an easy meal during the week.  The version I’ve detailed below is a vegetarian one, but it’s good to make as a base that you can add chicken, fish, prawns etc to for protein.  I like to have a couple of boiled eggs cut up and added to it too.
The measurements aren’t precise, I’ve a habit of just chucking things in to see if it works. So there is room for a bit of playing around with ingredients and amounts.  I’ve listed what I put in the one pictured.
Ingredients:
3 tbsp coconut oil (if you haven’t tried coconut oil yet – get some! Will do a post on it soon, but it’s a wonder oil. I use it to cook with, on my skin and hair)
1 tsp ground ginger
3 heaped tsps curry powder (I used medium)
2-4 tbsp Thai red curry paste (get a clean one, I use Thai Taste – you can get it in most supermarkets)
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2 onions – I used one white, one red
Garlic – this is dependent on taste, I used 6 cloves (vampires won’t be bothering me!)
Fresh ginger – a decent sized chunk, maybe a couple of inches
Carrots – 2 or 3 decent sized ones, cut into thick slices
Parsnips – 2 or 3, cut into thick slices
1 cauliflower cut into florets
Half a red pepper, cut into chunks
Half a green pepper, cut into chunks
Half a bag of spinach
2 chillies – one red, one green
1 pint vegetable stock
1 or 2 cans of coconut milk (depends on how thick you like the curry)
lentils and split peas (about 3 good handfuls of both – soak these in water overnight or for at least a few hours then rinse before using)
fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop the onions into chunks. Finely chop or grate the ginger root and garlic.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan, add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the onion softens.
  3. Add the spices and curry paste, cook for five minutes to release the aromas. Stir in the chillies.
  4. Add the cauliflower and stir until coated with spices and onions.
  5. Add the parsnip, carrot and peppers.
  6. Stir in the lentils and split peas until well mixed in.
  7. Pour in the vegetable stock and a can of coconut milk. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes until the veg are cooked and the lentils and split peas have broken up.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste and an extra can of coconut milk if you think it’s too thick.
  9. Add the spinach, stir into the curry and leave to wilt.
  10. Simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
  11. To serve, finely chop the coriander and scatter on top.
Yummy!

Yummy!

Green goodness

I’ve been sick this week, caught some bug that was doing the rounds and was feeling rubbish.  I’m lucky to have avoided most of the colds and flu that has been circulating all winter, I put it down to eating clean most of the time.

Since I got sick I’ve been drinking LOADS of green juice.  I’ve been using a few different recipes, but this is my standard version I use all the time.

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1 green apple

1 pear

1 banana (the riper the better)

juice of a lemon

half a cucumber

a chunk of ginger (usually about 1 1/2 inches but I like it gingery)

3 stalks of celery

half a bag of spinach

parsley, basil or coriander (depends on what I have at the time)

water

sometimes I throw in some blueberries

It’s easy to make, you don’t need a juicer – I just throw it all in the blender and blend until it’s liquid.  You can add water until it becomes the desired consistency.

I drink this all year round, not just when I’m ill.  It’s great to have first thing in the morning as a shot of vitamins to start the day.  Really energises you and gives you a boost.

The juice will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, or you can freeze it and defrost it the night before to have it ready for the morning :).

Give it a go!

Who I choose to be…

I probably shouldn’t be writing this when I’ve been out for the evening. But these thoughts were precipitated by a conversation with a friend earlier tonight.

You are not your past.  You are not the sum total of what you have done in your life.

You are who you choose to be.

There will be some people who are determined to keep you in your past, for whom it is safer to pigeonhole you into the space they are comfortable with, to keep you as you were so that they can still relate, but you are not that person.

Everyone has a past.  Everyone has history.  That history has taken you on a journey and got you to where you are today.  It has woven the tapestry of your life, and coloured it.  It has given it depth, and meaning.  But it is not who you are.

You are who you choose to be.

I have a past.  As do you.  In my past, I was all sorts of people.

I was a geek – I won prizes for maths, I did extra study in school holidays.

I partied hard.  I had fun.  A lot of fun :).

I was an artist.  I created things.

I was a blonde, a brunette, a redhead.

I was all sorts of different people, I did all sorts of different things.  I found all sorts of people interesting and I made some wonderful friends.  Who I was, brought me people I still treasure today.  People who recognize me for what I am.

I am who I choose to be.

All the ‘mistakes’ I made, all the wrong turns I took, all the monumental f*ck ups I have had – all of them have got me to here.  To where I am now.  They have given me the strength and the wisdom to become who I want to be.

I am who I choose to be.

Thomas Edison was once asked (for now let’s ignore what he did to Tesla) how he dealt with the fact he had failed 10,000 times before he invented the light bulb.  His answer was “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

There Is NO failure, there is only feedback.

I’ve thought I failed – countless times.  I’ve failed, and f*cked up and done it over and over again.  But really, when it comes down to it – I haven’t.  I’ve learned how I DON’T want to live my life.  I’ve learned who I DON’T want to be.  I’ve learned what I love, what I value, what is important to me. Who is important to me.  I’ve had feedback – internal, and external.  I’ve had friends give me feedback that wasn’t always welcome.  But I’ve learned. And I’ve grown.  And I’ve moved on and changed.

I’ve become who I choose to be..