photo/woman-holding-sparklers

Lost Your Mojo?

Rediscover Your Inner Spark

It happens – one day you feel like you can take on the world whilst the next day you feel like hiding from it. You’re in a funk and it’s unnerving, uncomfortable and worse, you’ve no idea how long it’s going to last. We’ve all been there. But is there anything we can do to speed the process up, rediscover our inner spark and feel like we’ve got our “mojo” back?

Luckily, the answer to that is a resounding yes! So, if you’re feeling out of sorts, read on to find out more about what might help, as well as identifying what probably won’t.

Get Back to Basics

Quite often, when I find myself feeling like this, it’s because I’ve burnt myself out, taking too much on than I can comfortably handle.

Of course, sometimes we have no choice but to take those tasks on, say as a single parent having to be both mum and dad, or working full time whilst caring for our elderly parents, or even just during exceptionally busy times in our lives period. It’s during these times, however, that we need to really take some time to assess and evaluate what absolutely must be done and what needs to take a back seat.

For me, getting back to basics is crucial to either avoiding burnout altogether or to recovering more quickly from a bout of it. It’s about doing all the things we probably don’t feel like doing during these times: eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and taking adequate time for ourselves to rest and rejuvenate. The oft-quoted example of this that I see is that of the instructions when on an aeroplane to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others, such as any children.

The difficult part of this is being motivated enough to do it! Just recently, I went through this exact situation. I knew what I needed to do, I just couldn’t be bothered to do it because I was so burnt out. It’s a Catch-22. But do it you must if you want to speed up the healing and recovery process.

Tip: Start small. Identify one or two things that you could start to do now, today, that you know are good for you. What you’re looking for is to start building momentum so that things you want/need to do but don’t feel ready for just yet, feel a little easier once you’ve got some of the basics under your belt. Things I did:

  • increased water intake;
  • went to bed earlier;
  • listened to guided meditations;
  • made sure to have 3 meals per day;
  • started taking vitamins and probiotics again;
  • contacted the GP for help quitting smoking.

A week later, feeling buoyed up with having cared well for myself that week, I felt inspired to take on some other essential self-care that I’d let slip but that a week before seemed just too difficult to face:

  • made sure to have a healthy breakfast;
  • took up yoga again;
  • reconnected with hobbies (knitting, blogging, etc);
  • reconnecting with friends and family;
  • reading self-care books/articles;
  • journalling.

The plan for this coming week is to stay on track with all of the above now that I’m feeling much more like my old self. A couple of weeks ago, every single one of these would have felt impossible.

Set Healthy Boundaries

I’m sure that some of you are thinking “Great – and just when am I supposed to find the time to do all of this?” and I totally get that. The answer, however difficult you may find it (myself included!), is to stop doing all the things that you’re currently doing that you don’t need to do.

I can’t speak from a male-perspective, but as a wife and mother of two who works full-time, I’ve realised recently how much I was doing for other people that I didn’t really need to do or that could wait for a time more convenient to me. It still feels incredibly selfish to write that sentence because, somehow, I have this perception that I “should” be doing those things.

I realised that if I wanted to be a better wife, mother, employee, me, something had to give. I couldn’t give myself the things that I needed for my health and well-being if I was constantly doing things for others first (think oxygen mask analogy again). I also would inevitably burn out eventually and then couldn’t do all the things I needed to, whether for others or myself, and then I really would be in a pickle.

Maybe it comes from wanting to feel needed or liked on a subconscious level but these last 2 weeks I stopped. Told the family, friends and my students that actually I wouldn’t be doing anything that I felt that they could and should be doing for themselves. Yes, there were a few who complained but you know what? The world kept on turning, they did it themselves and I had time for self-care. No, maybe they didn’t do it the way I would have done it but, turns out, my way isn’t the only way! They also learned how to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have known how to do so actually everyone was happier.

Tip: What did this include? Ironing for the husband and 18 year old. No reason at all why they can’t do their own and saves me a good couple of hours each week. Helping the 18 year old get her first contract phone. Normally, I would have dropped everything and just done it for her and caught up with my work afterwards cutting into my evening time. Instead, I offered to help her to do it at the weekend which we did. With my 7-year old, instead of just doing little things like putting her shoes away and tidying up any toys she left out, asking her to do it which she did (sometimes begrudgingly mind!). With my law students, returning work full of written English errors that could easily be corrected by them with an effective proofread without marking and asking them to resubmit once they had finished their work to the standard they know is required.

What did I learn from this? To set boundaries. This doesn’t mean that you gather your nearest and dearest and inform them that you’ll never lift a finger for them again, but rather that these things do not become something “expected” that you will do, especially where they are the responsibility of someone else. If you want to do something for somebody or if somebody needs your help, of course you will still want to do that but only if your self-care isn’t being compromised in the process.

Result: more time and energy for me to practice self-nurturing habits and build up to the big one – cutting out the things I knew were bad for me!

Banish the Bad Habits

I’m sure most of us have at least one habit that we desperately want to conquer but for some reason we keep on doing it. Mine – apart from not setting healthy boundaries – was smoking. I’ve been ping-ponging for years between quitting and smoking/smoking and quitting. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it by myself, made the call to the GP and went to see the nurse who prescribed Champix. I have to say it’s not for everyone but has made quitting incredibly easy over the last two weeks, more so than any other method I’ve tried. There are uncomfortable side-effects of course but I’m guessing heart disease and cancer, the almost guaranteed side-effect of smoking, are far more uncomfortable and deadly!

I’ve mentioned before on this site that at the end of 2018, I drastically reduced my alcohol intake to no more than around once per month for special occasions e.g. a holiday or celebration and, frankly, my life has been a million times better as a result and I don’t miss it at all now it’s become the norm.

What your bad habit is will be individual to you and, like me, you may well have more than one. That’s fine. I have no issue if anyone wants to smoke or drink or anything else for that matter. This is really for anyone who feels that their bad habit is making them feel bad about themselves. It could be as simple as stopping biting your nails or swearing (next on my list!). If you feel there’s a bad habit that you’d like to change, again, start small. Do a bit of research on the internet on how others overcame the same habit. Start putting a plan together, including a date for when you plan to stop or reduce your habit and maybe start building a “toolkit” to help you in your challenge.

If it’s a habit that takes up a lot of your time, and I can honestly say until I stopped I didn’t realise quite how much time smoking, going to the shop for supplies, drinking, recovering from a hangover and the like took up of my time, then you’re in for a treat when you do get past the first difficult weeks of stopping. You’ll have a ton more time on your hands for more self-care and you time. The only thing to watch with this is that you don’t substitute one bad habit for another!

Another example of how I did this was when I tried to quit smoking previously I replaced cigarette breaks with coffee/tea breaks. Whilst I’m sure nicotine and all the other chemicals are far worse for us than caffeine, being over-caffeinated to the point I was I’m sure contributed to the feeling of burn out. And then I had to wean myself off the caffeine too! Not helpful.

Also, don’t give up if you don’t manage to break your bad habits the first time. I’ve quit smoking so many times now that I doubt anyone believes me anymore, not even myself. I can’t wait to surprise everyone! Remember, we call them habits for a reason and, regardless of our reasons for having these habits, at some point we’ve clearly come to rely on them to help us get through the stresses of the day. Go easy on yourself and take it one day and one challenge at a time. If you do relapse, take a break from quitting your habit of choice, dust yourself off, regroup, re-plan and try again.

Finally, don’t expect overnight results with any of these tips. It took time for you to lose your “mojo”, it’ll take time to get it back again. Just start taking steps in the right direction, at the right pace for you and you’ll regain that inner spark in no time.

How about you? Have you any tips that could help others feeling under-par to get them back to their best selves? Why not share your tips in the comments below.

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Wheel_of_the_Year

Merry Mabon!

How Do You Celebrate the Autumn Equinox

This year, the Autumn Equinox (Spring Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere) begins today on Saturday 21 September and ends tomorrow Sunday 22 September. In Pagan and Wiccan traditions, this is known as “Mabon“.

What is Mabon?

Essentially, Mabon is a celebration of gratitude after the hardwork and toil of the last few months especially, for those following the agricultural calendar. In the Christian church, it is celebrated as the Harvest Festival whilst in the US, although held later in the year, it is akin to Thanksgiving. Throughout history and across religions and cultures, there have been similar celebrations where the central theme is one of thanks, regardless of different beliefs and when the particular celebration falls.

Also, much like the Spring Equinox, the Autumn Equinox is a time of balance as the days and nights now are equally long. It is a time to recognise that the warmth of Summer is behind us and the long, cold nights of Winter lie ahead. A time then to look back and reflect on the spoils of the Summer but to plan and prepare for the Winter.

The Wheel of the Year

“The Wheel of the Year” is effectively a calendar used by Wiccans and Pagans alike, amongst others, with 8 annual celebrations/festivals called Sabbats. Four of these relate to the Sun’s position (the solstices/equinoxes) with the remaining festivals and ceremonies relating to farming/the seasons.

Mabon itself is a relatively new name for the celebration, first surfacing, it is believed, as recently as the 1970s. So who or what was Mabon? Mabon is said to be a Welsh God about whom not that much appears to be known. Often referred to as the “Great Son” of the Earth Mother, there’s an interesting and knowledgeable article on who Mabon was said to be here: https://heartofthewitchspath.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/abcs-of-celtic-mythology-mabon-and-modron/

In Greek mythology, this time of the year was linked to the tales of Demeter, Goddess of the Grain and Harvest, and her beautiful daughter, Persephone whom Hades, God of the Underworld, took a serious liking to and abducted. As the tale goes, Persephone would spend half the year in the Underworld with Hades (Autumn and Winter) and the rest of the year with her mother, Demeter (Spring, Summer).

These are just two of the numerous myths and legends out there used all over the world to explain the key themes of this time of the year, of harvest and gratitude, a time of balancing both the light and the dark. I find it fascinating to see how similar yet different these stories all are.

Traditional Importance of Mabon

In today’s western world, it can be difficult to imagine just what an important time of year this would have been to our ancestors. We live in a world where every conceivable convenience is at hand just by the touch of a button. Not so for our ancestors of course, when one’s very survival through the cold Winter months depended on the harvest of the previous Summer. If it had been a bountiful harvest then all was as well as could be. Had the crops been damaged or failed to grow as anticipated then this would mean a long and difficult time ahead until the following Spring. Not to put to fine a point on it, the toil and hard work of the Summer, as well as the weather and elements, could be the very difference between life and death of a family over the following six months.

Whether Mabon was celebrated by our ancestors is unclear – I guess it depended on how well the harvest did! It would also no doubt depend on how ready they were for the coming Winter. If they were still out in the fields collecting what they could, whilst they would most likely have observed it as being the Autumn Equinox, whether they would have always had time to celebrate the time of year formally doesn’t seem to be well evidenced. More likely it seems they waited for the Sabbat of Samhain, or, as we tend to know it nowadays, Halloween at the end of the harvesting season.

Current Importance of Mabon

My introduction to celebrating this time of year was at primary school when, every year, a Harvest Festival celebration was held in the hall for students, teachers, parents and the residents of a local nursing home. Whilst I never attended a church school, we did celebrate it as a Christian celebration, all pupils sat cross-legged on the hall floor, belting out “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed of the land…” at the top of our lungs, awaiting our turn to go the front and put down our harvest gift, a tin of rice pudding maybe or a tin of beans. The harvest gifts would then be distributed amongst our visitors from the local nursing home before they returned home.

Looking back, I have really fond memories of these times. I doubt I appreciated the real purpose of the event at the time but this definitely felt a genuine time of giving to others who might find Winter more difficult than me and of being grateful, much more so than Christmas even, with no expectation of receiving anything in return.

Ways to Celebrate

Schools don’t really seem to make much of the Harvest Festival or similar celebrations these days, which seems a real shame as these nature-based celebrations help to keep us aligned and tuned into the natural world all around us.

So, if you’re interested in moving in harmony through the Wheel of the Year, whether you wish to label yourself as Pagan, Wiccan or indeed anything else, here’s a couple of ideas as to how you can celebrate the Autumn Equinox this weekend:

  • Create a Mabon Altar: take an autumnal walk or have a forage in the back garden for leaves, twigs, berries, using colours and symbols of the autumnal season. You can then add these to any existing altar or display you have in your home as a way of honouring the season.
  • Do an Autumn Clear Out: Like a Spring Clean only six months later! Go through wardrobes and cupboards and take what you don’t want or need to your local charity shop/church/food bank. You may wish to burn incense or try a ritual smudging.
  • Chakra Balancing Meditation: As the duration of the days and the nights are equally long this weekend, this is a perfect time to try a chakra balancing meditation (tons of these on YouTube) to adjust your energetic body to better work with the changing seasonal energies.
  • Have a Wine Tasting Evening: Grab a few friends, a few new bottles of wine and spend the evening enjoying each other’s company and exploring new flavours. Make a theme of it, researching the particular beverage you choose to bring to the gathering to share with your friends.
  • Make a Scarecrow: We visited a local farm a few years ago and had a go at making our own scarecrow, dressing it in one of the old Halloween costumes before bringing it home and popping in our own garden – great fun for all ages as well as a wonderful way to reconnect with the land.
  • Hold a Ritual Ceremony: This could be as simple as lighting two candles, one short and white, one longer and black both lit at the same time and allowed to burn out to honour the light of Summer now giving way to the darkness of Winter. Equally it could include autumnal offerings and/or offerings, prayers or meditations to the Dark Mother/the Crone, the shadow side of the Goddess.
  • Have a Special Dinner: How better to celebrate the time of year than with a home-made meal, celebrated with family, made with all the seasonal foods?
  • Write a Gratitude Journal: I’d recommend doing this frequently throughout the year but if you’re new to the idea, this would be a great time to start your own gratitude journal.

I’d be really interested to hear how you celebrate the changing of the seasons at this time of year – Merry Mabon!

Fantasy Fiction

What’s Your Favourite Fantasy Fiction?

Vote Now!

The fantasy genre – quite literally, a world, or even universe, where there are absolutely no limits, so anything can go: dragons, monsters, sorcerers, fairies, unicorns and magic. Fairy tales for adults really; great for getting in touch with your imagination and part of the reason why it’s one of my all-time favourite genres.

What’s Classed as “Fantasy” Fiction?

Typically, fantasy fiction features some or all of the following:

  • An imaginary world/universe;
  • Elements of the impossible; things that couldn’t happen in “real life”;
  • Mythical/magical creatures;
  • Supernatural abilities;
  • An epic battle of good verses evil.

Sometimes, you might see the fantasy genre being lumped in with science-fiction (“sci-fi”) and/or horror as a broader genre but, as I’m something of a purist, I’m going to keep them separate and save those genres for later posts!

Often, although not always, there’s an Arthurian-type setting and characters with all manner of unusual or exotic sounding names from all over their imaginary world/universe. Most of my favourites include a map somewhere within the book to refer to and get the “lay of the land”, so to speak.

Famous Favourites:

  • Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien;
  • Game of Thrones, George R R Martin;
  • Discworld, Terry Pratchett;
  • Age of the Five, Trudi Canavan;
  • Harry Potter, J K Rowling;
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, C S Lewis

And of course, many more!

Other Mediums

Of course, fantasy fiction spans across a number of mediums, not just books but TV shows, cinema and games. Many times the story will have originally started as a book and later be adapted for another medium. One of my favourite games, The Witcher, was based on the book of the same name by author, Andrzej Sapkowski, and is due to be released as a Netflix original later this year. I’m pretty excited! Trailer here:

https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80189685

The Good

The absolute best thing about the fantasy fiction genre is the fact that anything can happen at any time – even the impossible and improbable. A recent example of this is the Game of Thrones series of books/TV shows. George R R Martin went against the grain of many other authors in the genre at the time in his not being afraid to kill off big characters at any time, creating a fair, few shocks for us along the way. Looking back, it was in fact a stroke of genius really capturing his audience off-guard whether as readers or viewers, so much so that it really influenced a rapid change in trend in fantasy fiction style generally.

Fantasy fiction as a genre is really reminiscent to me of the fairy tales, stories and games of my childhood so some can be comfortingly nostalgic and familiar even if the author is new to me.

There’s also a lot of scope to expand the story in a wide range of directions in a world you make up yourself and that usually means an extended series and/or spin-off stories if done well.

The Bad

It seems slightly ironic that the worst thing for me about the genre is based on its best thing. For me, sometimes the range of stories, given that it literally can be about anything, are relatively limited with quite a few authors sticking too closely to the tried and true Arthurian style stories.

It can also be ages in between books getting released, Game of Thrones, for the obvious example!

That’s my basic take on fantasy fiction anyway. What about you – do you have a fantasy fiction favourite?

Got Writer's Block?

Got Writer’s Block?

Ways to Combat Writer’s Block

As bloggers, sooner or later, most of us, seem to be struck by the occasional bout of Writer’s Block – that dreadful phase when you sit down to post an update to your blog but can’t think of a single interesting thing to write or everything you do write looks rubbish to you! As the minutes tick by, you start wondering if the creative well of inspiration has truly run dry or to stick at it until you come up with something.

It can be quite unnerving the first time this happens after starting your blog; going from not being able to get your thoughts down quick enough to completely barren of ideas.

Having found myself staring down the barrel of a foreboding blank screen more than once, I thought it might be useful to jot down what’s worked for me in the past to get the creative juices flowing again.

Know Your Key Topics

At the end of each month, I sit down and look back at the key or main topics my blog is about and list them.

So for example, when I did this for August 2019, my Key Topics i.e. my niche areas were:

  • Home & Garden
  • Yoga & Meditation
  • Astrology & Divination
  • Randoms (in case I’m feeling spontaneous!)

If you’re not sure what your Key Topics are, look at any “menu titles” on your blog or your “categories” for repeat topics. Believe it or not, writing a list of article ideas in one go is far easier than sitting down to write each time having to think of just one idea. Mine took me less than 10 minutes.

Identify Sub-Topics for Each Key Topic

This probably works best using the above example:

Key Topic Sub-Topic
Home & GardenHealth: What’s Your Greatest Asset?
Family: London Trip
Yoga & MeditationIntroduction to Yoga Nidra
Astrology & DivinationHappy Birthday Virgo (monthly series)
September 2019: Energy Update (monthly series)
Witchcraft: Which Witch Are You?
RandomsLife Hack: Organise Your Workspace
Light Bite: Feeling Uninspired?
Life Hack: Make a Motivational Playlist

Make an Editorial Calendar

Once you’ve had a think about Sub-Topic articles you might like to write about around your Key Topics for the coming month, draft a calendar for each day of the month either by hand or using the computer. I personally use Microsoft Word which has a handy template for a calendar. Just open up Word, click File and select New. Then just type “calendar” into the search box that appears and frankly you’ll be spoiled for choice!

editorial-calendar-example-august
Editorial Calendar Example

I only started this one halfway through the month in August but the time I spent creating this, an hour to do the brainstorming session right through to creating this calendar, was time well spent. Every time I sat down at the computer to write, I always had an idea in mind so didn’t have to waste time thinking of what to write first.

Don’t be afraid to change the article idea if you think of something better – think of your monthly editorial calendar as a basic back-up or work in progress rather than what you initially decide being set in stone. Leave yourself some freedom to be randomly inspired sometimes.

Don’t sweat it either if you don’t manage to write one day. I had planned to blog every other day in August but amended my calendar as I went if something else came up and I didn’t have time one day.

Try to mix your article type up a bit too. I introduced “Light Bites” and “Life Hack” articles as monthly repeat topics that were intended to be shorter entries. This meant that I could type 3 quick blog posts in one night, helping me get ahead of schedule and be a bit more choosy about what I was in the mood to write about each day. This also meant that the articles that were posted were of better quality as well as feeling less rushed.

Having an Editorial Calendar has really helped with forward planning – for September, as you can see, this led to me posting far more “seasonal” posts based around autumn-related topics which are more likely to resonate with when readers might be looking for such articles.

Planning For Next Month's Articles
Planning Next Month’s Articles

Again, twice already this month, I’ve missed posting on alternate days but I just rearranged my calendar and moved on. Sometimes life gets in the way!

I’ve also redacted in the photos here the ideas coming up as these are subject to change but having found using an Editorial Calendar like this so beneficial, it’s definitely something I’d recommend taking the time to do at the end of each month as a way to reflect back on the last month and to help formulate a plan to move forward into the next one.

Do you use an Editorial Calendar? How has it helped you?

Feel free to share with any writers in your life πŸ™‚

Red Jasper

Harness the Power of Red Jasper

Red Jasper

Red Jasper is a stone popular throughout history across a number of cultures: Greek, Arabic, Persian, Assyrian and Native Americans, regularly used and referenced their use of the stone. Hebrew and Latin texts make reference to it too, including the many benefits it can bring – when its power is harnessed correctly!

To find out more about working with crystals generally, take a look here: https://myholisticliving.co.uk/astrology-divination/crystals/

Associations

Being the colour red, it is hardly surprising perhaps that, Red Jasper is associated with passion, vibrancy and endurance, which is in perfect counter-balance to its other slow, steady, practical and reliable energies.

Often known as the “stone of endurance”, Red Jasper is also said to encourage:

  • Stamina;
  • Drive;
  • Courage;
  • Energy;
  • New ideas;
  • Creativity; and
  • Protection

And the good news is that its energies extend across all areas of your life – especially those things in life we don’t feel like doing. Having some Red Jasper on hand can give us the push we need to just get things done.

Health-wise, this stone is said to alleviate stress, prevent anxiety and worrying and improve a person’s sense of well-being generally by fostering a sense of responsibility in achieving this state. Physically, it is said to help detox the liver and large intestine as well as aid circulation.

Spiritually, Red Jasper has an earthy, grounding energy to it which makes it perfect for meditations, divination, astral projections, chakra and kundalini work. Speaking of chakras, you may feel drawn to Red Jasper if you have a blocked root chakra or when you need to feel more connected to the planet.

Red Jasper is not traditionally linked to a specific sign of the zodiac and there are different types of beliefs around its use as a birthstone. With traditional birthstone beliefs, this stone is said to be linked to those born in March and April, whilst natural birthstone belief associates it more with mid-October to mid-November births. I personally find its earthy, red, autumnal tones more fitting to the latter.

How to Use Red Jasper

Much like other stones, Red Jasper can be worn as jewellery or simply carried in a pocket or bag to harness its power. Whenever you obtain any stone/crystal, however, you should take steps to “cleanse” it of any negative energies or vibes that it may have picked up along the way. You could choose to leave your stone in the light of the full moon, smudge the stone, visualise it cleansed or rinse it under running water to reset the stone to its “default settings”.

It is an all-round fantastic balancing stone with slow but steady energy that can give you that push to get a job done. It can make you see the world with fresh eyes again, bringing new ideas about whilst also giving you the drive to put them into action.

For divination, magickal and/or spiritual work, it’s grounding energy will help you stay protected and connected to the Earth plane whilst also allowing you to connect with other energies surrounding you. This is one reason I chose my runes to be made from Red Jasper and I felt its effects immediately. Much like the stone itself, the energies feel denser than with other stones – Amethyst, for example, or Clear Quartz are much lighter, airier energies by way of comparison.

Rune Reading
Rune Reading

If you’ve tried Red Jasper yourself let me know how you’ve found it. What do you find it most helpful for?

Clock Deadline

Life Hack #3

Beat the Clock!

We’ve all done it I’m sure – had some looming deadline creep closer and closer but somehow you just can’t muster the motivation to get the job boxed off.

Well head over to Life Hack #2:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/08/25/life-hack-2/

and get your motivational playlist built whilst you’re busy procrastinating. Then once you’ve done that, head back here to combine Life Hacks #2 and #3 and finally get that one job you’ve been putting off for ages off your to-do list for good!

Life Hack #3

Bring up the timer on your phone and set it for 10 minutes. Press start – see how much you can get through of your task in 10 minutes. Repeat until task complete – easy!

With your motivational playlist urging you on, you’ll get that task you love to hate finished in no time.

And more often than not, I frequently find, the task is never as bad as I imagined it to be πŸ™‚

Life Hack #4 – coming soon…

Vegetables

In the Garden: September 2019

September Gardening Tips

As very much a novice gardener, I often find myself trawling the web trying to find out what I should be doing in the garden each month in a language I understand! There’s a lot of terminology to learn with gardening I’m discovering, to be able to make the most of the vast amount of information out there.

One of my favourites is the RHS website (link below) which has a ton of articles for all abilities, including monthly tips for how to keep the garden looking grand all year round if you’re based here in the UK. If you’re a beginner too, this might be an excellent place to start:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/in-month/september

It’s definitely given me plenty of ideas to be getting on with – September seems an especially busy month! Here’s what I plan to get on with starting tomorrow and throughout the rest of the month:

Harvesting

Time to reap the rewards of the last few months by harvesting any ripened fruit or veg from the garden. In my case, having only moved into our home last year, I haven’t done that much with the garden this year other than to maintain it. We are still lucky enough to have already had strawberries yield fruit earlier in the year and now raspberries and blackberries to pick too so this is where I plan to start!

Give the Garden One Last Good Once Over

We had a crazy amount of wet weather throughout most of August here in Manchester so the lawn is well overdue a good trim. There’s also plenty of plants to be pruned/deadheaded or divided. If you have a pond then this would be a good time to have it netted to avoid it becoming clogged with leaves and other debris. Get the kids involved on an “autumnal treasure-hunt” to gather materials to use in an art and crafts session. My youngest did a great job of starting us off today:

Autumn leaves, plants, berries, feather
Our hoard from our Autumnal Treasure Hunt today

Rainy Day Jobs

Rainy days are the perfect days to get into greenhouses, sheds, garages and summerhouses to get them winter-ready too. Get all your gardening gear, cleaned, tidied and put away, including any used pots, to avoid unwanted pests and to keep equipment at its best. We don’t yet have a greenhouse (though it’s on the wish list!) but do have a garage and summerhouse that could do with a bit of TLC before winter arrives, so next rainy day they’ll be all tidy and sparkling clean.

Up Your Eco-Warrior Game

As I’ve become more interested in gardening, one of the many positive effects of this has been a greater desire to be more eco-friendly. We already have a fair amount of animal garden visitors including birds and squirrels so my husband does a fantastic job of keeping our bird-feeder well stocked but this might be something you decide to invest in if you don’t have one already. Starting a compost now is also perfect with all the autumn leaves about to start falling. At the very least, if your local authority provides a “composting bin” for food and gardening waste, make sure you’re using it. Water butts are also an excellent investment now and something I’m adding to the wish-list!

Start Planning Next Year’s Garden

Start taking accurate measurements and notes now on how your garden currently is and think about how you would like to improve it. Maybe you’d like a herb garden next year or a vegetable patch. This is the time to start thinking about what it is you would like to see growing in your garden next year and planning for how you can achieve this. This is one of the rookie mistakes I made when I first got interested in gardening. At the start of Spring, I’d get terribly excited about the garden and then realise I probably should have started in the previous autumn. There are loads of great gardening apps and tools out there to help with this so if you’re interested, try a Google search on “garden plan” and you’ll be spoilt for choice!

What about you – what will you be doing in these last few warm days of September in the garden?

Toadstools and grass

Looking for Something A Bit Different?

Try This!

Depending on what you mean by “different”, this may or may not be it! Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through a 6-part guided meditation by White Cloud Mystic, who I follow over on You Tube, which I’ve really enjoyed listening to. I’ve included a link to the first one below for anyone who fancies giving it a try.

What is a Guided Meditation?

For those of you who’ve not yet tried a guided meditation, you might wonder what it involves. Generally speaking, guided meditation is where one person leads a person into a meditative state, usually by describing a story or scenario for them to imagine and/or follow the instructions given.

Why I’m Recommending It

Because I enjoyed it and wanted to give others a chance to enjoy it too! It has a really nice simple storytelling style, tone and pace which is so relaxing. I always had a great night’s sleep after listening to one of these.

Sharing here is also a good way for me to make others aware of the channel so that hopefully it grows and we get more great meditations from White Cloud Mystic πŸ™‚

The whole series has a child-like innocence and nostalgia to it where you get to follow your own fairy into a magical world whilst you relax and drift away. There is also, for those interested, the idea that this meditation can be used to develop your own “magic”, whatever that means to you.

Give it a go if you’re interested by clicking on the video above. If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to share with anyone who might benefit from a good night’s sleep tonight!

model with autumn leaves as a dress

How Do You Get Autumn Ready?

Ideas for Making the Most of the Autumn

Autumn” – it’s just such a cosy sounding word isn’t it conjuring up images of warm drinks, the last of the warmer days and the crunch of fallen leaves.

It’s also the time for a lot of fun celebrations, depending on your beliefs and location on the planet. Here in the UK, we have the Harvest Festival at the end of September, Halloween at the end of October, which is followed shortly after by Bonfire Night on 5 November. In the USA, there is of course Thanksgiving celebrated rather than Bonfire Night. After this, thoughts soon turn to the winter and Christmas Holidays in our house.

Before then, why not make the most of this Autumn to try a couple of the following autumn-inspired ideas:

  • Cook a warming soup, a stew or casserole
  • Visit a pumpkin patch/apple orchard
  • Try a pumpkin latte
  • Bread baking/cake making
  • Go to a professional bonfire and/or firework display
  • Watch scary movies
  • Organise your autumn/winter wardrobe
  • Go on a nature walk to take in the changes
  • Decorate the house seasonally/have a Halloween party
  • Trick or treat
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Knitting
  • Rake leaves
  • Stargaze
  • Toffee Apples
  • Warm apple cider
  • Bat-watching
  • Gratitude journal
  • Getting the garden ready for winter

So there’s a few things to do to welcome in the change of a new season should you wish to. Re-organising and updating the wardrobes has already started in our house with the kids heading back to school this week. Looking forward to a pumpkin latte too – that always feels soothingly autumnal.

Which one do you feel inspired to try?

Improve Ad Revenue home office working

How I Immediately Increased Ad Revenue

Want to Increase Your Ad Revenue?

Being within my first 5 months or so of blogging on a fairly regular basis has meant getting up to speed with, quite literally, a whole new world. Delving into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), however, is almost a whole new world in and of itself, and in my view is far more technically advanced than even setting up a blog and starting to publish content. But, if you’re at all interested in making money, however large or small, from your blog/website, it’s something you do have to dip your toe into at some point to gain a deeper understanding of how you can better monetise your site from ad revenue.

To find out how I first got started with SEO and my initial, surprisingly pleasant, results with this see my previous linked article below uploaded a couple of days into the tweaks I made following some basic SEO tips:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/08/04/feeling-frustrated-with-ad-revenue/

One Month In

Whilst the early results were pleasing, what has been just as pleasing is seeing consistent improvements in ad revenue over the last 4 weeks or so. So just what have those changes been?

  • Prior to the “tweaks”, the maximum continuous weekly passive income prior was for 4 weeks in June.
  • Recently, a steady stream of weekly passive income for the last 6 weeks.
  • In August, following the adjustments there was 5 continuous days of earnings previously no more than 3.
  • The immediate effect of the tweaks saw an initial jump in income from very little at all to a 500% – 600% increase in ad revenue for a couple of days.
  • It then dropped to a lower but more consistent daily increase on revenue before the tweaks.
  • Looking at the ad revenue on a daily and weekly average increase, there has been a 200% increase in passive income since the adjustments.
  • Viewing the ad revenue on a monthly average increase, this is a whopping 900%!

Findings

It’s hard not to theorise that these more advanced techniques and tips on site indexing haven’t been the cause of these positive changes given the timings, especially when you consider that visitor numbers and views have been lower this month, leading to less ads being served and yet higher CPM and therefore increased revenue rates.

My basic understanding of it at this time is that the easier it is for search engines like Google and Bing to categorise your content, whether articles, images or videos, the more likely you are to climb the ranks into higher ad revenue territory.

As a result, I’d have to conclude this month’s experiments with SEO to be a resounding success.

Despite the huge increases seen in a relatively short time, however, I’ve still got a long way to go to start making any meaningful revenue.

Future Strategy Planning

It’s important to note that there can be a lot of fluctuation in ad revenue which can be affected by all sorts of things: location of visitors, website and/or article niche, number of visitors and followers, etc. As all of these can and do fluctuate to varying degrees and at different times, this likewise can cause variables in revenue received. The message here is to not place all your eggs in one basket i.e. don’t make ad revenue your sole source of income to better avoid financial worries.

The best thing to do is enjoy it when there’s revenue to be had whilst trying to better understand what helps you maintain a steady meaningful passive income as much as possible. If your aim is to at some point achieve a meaningful income from blogging/your website full time, then it’s worth looking at other ways to monetise your site too.

SEO can seem a bit tedious at first, but another unexpected pleasure of delving into this more technical side to blogging is that I’m actually quite enjoying learning something new. There’s clearly an art to using it effectively and whilst I’m a relative newbie in this regard, it’s been a promising start so far.

The Downsides

Depending on your reasons for blogging, there may be downsides to understanding and implementing SEO strategies to increase ad revenue. This isn’t made any easier because most sites are unique in their own way so it can be hard to make comparisons without a lot of broad yet detailed research. Personally, I enjoy learning about it the more I understand it so not a huge problem but some might find it tedious and slow-going.

What you will notice is that most stats reports using these webmaster tools aren’t in “real time”, usually a day or so behind actual time and it takes a while for some of them to get enough data from their crawls of your site to produce measurable results. Again not a major issue for me personally but something you might want to plan for.

I suppose the biggest warning I’ve followed from other bloggers is to have a reasonable understanding of what you’re tweaking, when and how you’ll measure improvements.

Firstly, you do want to have an idea of what you’re messing with in case you mess it up – you’ll want to know how to fix it. It reminds me a bit of learning to knit and how to recover a dropped stitch without losing all your work. The way I’ve dealt with this has been to read up on as many articles as possible before tweaking anything! Also, keep the tweaks minimal so that you can eliminate issues more easily and log what you’ve done, when so you can further adjust as necessary or hopefully enjoy greater increased ad revenue.

Outcome

My take on SEO one month in is that it’s well-worth investing the time into if you’re someone wanting to increase your ad revenue. When the time is right for you to do that really depends on how quickly you’re able to get to grips with SEO and start effectively implementing the techniques. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you could opt for hiring professionals to help with this, finances permitting.

It would be good to know if you’ve seen any positive results from improved SEO knowledge and implementation. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? I like to think that sharing information like this will help to make us all better bloggers πŸ™‚