What’s in Your Garden?

Who’s Your Garden Visitor?

We’re very lucky that where we live in our East Manchester town, our garden is frequently visited by numerous different creatures. Whether it’s birds, bees, bats or butterflies, there always seems to be something wandering around out there!

Earlier this year, we noticed a beautiful family of foxes visiting the garden. They still visit from time to time but tend to be alone now that they have grown bigger and are far more wary. Below is a video that I’ve posted before but it’s a lovely throwback to their very young days:

Baby foxes playing together earlier this year in our back garden

We even had a few visits off a local mouse:

Little mouse running about the patio

And these are just the ones, I’m quick enough to get a photo or video of – we also have a nightly visit off a small bat, a heron flying overhead as well as frogs jumping out at me whilst doing the gardening!

Personally, I’d love to have a visit off a hedgehog as I haven’t seen a wild one in years, or even a wild rabbit so hopefully one day (or night!) soon, I may get an extra special visitor.

Some animals do make me a bit nervous such as your general creepy-crawlies but I’m trying hard to warm to them these days – now that I’m getting into gardening more and more, it’s something I’m learning to live with if not quite love yet. Also, I have to admit I did jump a fair bit myself when that frog popped out at me whilst weeding. Then, later that day when I looked up and saw that heron flying over head and managed to get an appreciation of the sheer size of the thing, I may have let out quite a yelp too!

And just this weekend whilst round at my uncle’s home, my dad spotted what we think was a hawk feasting on something in the garden – take a look – what do you think it is?

Are you lucky enough to have a particular wild animal come to visit your garden? Or have you any tips on how to attract and care for our wildlife visitors?

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Quit Smoking: Week 3

Day 21 – 3 weeks off the cigarettes cold turkey with only one slip up 7 days ago. For those of you who were sensible enough to never smoke that probably doesn’t sound like much of an achievement. For anyone who has, and has ever tried to stop smoking, especially cold turkey, I’m sure you’ll appreciate why I consider that a success!

The Slip-Up

Yes, Day 13, just as I thought I was getting the hang of this quitting thing I had a row with my husband (who does smoke) – our first since I quit and I fell back on the old coping mechanism of lighting up a fag to deal with the stress. As a matter of fact, I had several that night but when I woke the next day, I decided to knock it on the head straightaway and ran what cigs I had left under the tap before chucking them in the bin so that I couldn’t easily change my mind!

It also helped that my throat was absolutely killing me from not only smoking after 2 weeks off but also having picked up a cough and sore throat off my youngest that then kept me up all week, reinforcing why I should stick it out and stay off the fags if I didn’t want that cough to become a permanent fixture in my life.

The Recovery

I stuck the Paul McKenna hypnosis on that I’ve been listening to successfully up until this point and, when I woke up out of the trance/dreamlike state, I just didn’t have another smoke (if you want to have a go to see if this can work for you, there’s a link to it from my previous post here https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/05/quit-smoking-day-5/ or down the sidebar). I only listened to it that once to reinforce the messages and that did the trick for me.

I also find it helpful to keep building on progress by introducing new challenges such as the 7-Day Digital Detox I started last week:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/18/has-your-smart-phone-taken-over-your-life/

This kept me pretty busy in that I actively started hunting out things to do instead of lounging about on my smartphone of an evening.

I’ve still kept up with the interdentals/toothpicks as well – I find it helpful especially in the car or when I’m walking somewhere to just have one in my mouth/hand to chew or fiddle with. If you fancy trying them, just click the image below – I recommend them for non-smokers too as I was told by my dentist that they’re much better than flossing.

These are the interdentals I use which last me about 10 days but a lot cheaper than a pack of fags and far healthier for my teeth and gums!

The Benefits

I find it really helpful to challenge myself to reach the next Benefit Milestone and to read up on how others have managed to kick the habit. One site that has really helped me is https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/why-quit/what-happens-when-you-quit

Notwithstanding my little slip, the benefits I’ve seen by being clean these last 3 weeks include:

  • Pulse rate now at normal levels
  • No carbon monoxide in my body
  • Oxygen levels returned to normal
  • No nicotine in my body
  • Lungs have started to clear out all the smoking induced rubbish out of my body
  • Taste-buds improved as has sense of smell
  • Bronchial tubes begin relaxing so breathing becomes easier
  • Energy levels begin to rise
  • Improving circulation in the body

Most of us who have tried quitting previously will have heard of the notorious “3’s” – 3 days/3 weeks/3 months as being times when it can be a particularly challenging part of the quit smoking journey. For me, it was the 2-week stage so be alert to the fact that your body and your journey may well be different.

My next big benefit is between 3 and 9 months when breathing issues, wheezing and coughing will start to improve as the lungs function better by up to 10%! This is the one that I never get to usually – but this time feels different…

How So?

Last night, I almost slipped again. After another exchange of words with my husband, I found myself at the shop actually stood in the queue, lighter in hand before finding myself practically running to the fridge, buying milk and a packet of sugar-free chewing-gum instead!

The pride I felt in myself walking out of that shop and again on waking-up this morning inspired me to write this post to help others who may be struggling on their own quit smoking journey. Yes, you can just go and buy some fags and light up but the relief is infinitely more short-lived than the pride and sense of achievement that you feel at overcoming your craving. Surprisingly, what helped here is that I’d sat with other family members earlier that day who smoked and managed to abstain so I felt like I’d put myself through that for nothing if I did smoke that night.

What I discovered yesterday is that I can ride out the craving. By the time I got to the shop, unlike on other occasions when I’ve tried to quit, the craving had already passed.

When I got back, I had a cup of tea, went to bed and again popped on the old Paul McKenna hypnosis! I think that I will plan to listen to this once a week now for the next month or so, just to keep those messages fully reinforced.

At 3 weeks, I can hardly say I’m out of the woods with this quit smoking journey, however, by following the steps above and in my other two posts on the topic, I’m definitely on my way.

Wishing any others on their own QS journey the very best of luck – stay strong!! x

What’s Your Recurring Dream?

And Why Do We Have Them?

Dreams alone are a fascinating topic aren’t they? But throw recurring dreams into the mix and the subject becomes even stranger. If dreams are a collection of images and ideas that your subconscious weaves together into a tale or story whilst you sleep, why are some of those dreams dreamt more than once, sometimes several times throughout our lives, like a film stuck on repeat?

There are of course numerous competing theories as to what dreams themselves are, from the mundane (just your brain trying to make sense of activities and events that occur during waking life) to the more meaningful, such as messages from your spirit guides, angels and higher-self. In reality though, no one theory is accepted for certain across the board.

β€œSometimes we get through adversity only by imagining what the world might be like if our dreams should ever come true.”

Arthur Golden – Memoirs of a Geisha

When it comes to the realm of recurring dreams, i.e. those dreams that you have more than once, the mystery is murkier still. Some believe that it’s just a glitch in the system, the mind getting stuck on certain topics so that they reoccur again and again, with others believing that such dreams can be evidence of our past lives.

β€œHe felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”

Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Past-Life Dreams

For those believing in the concept of reincarnation (like me!), the following are said to be a few of the ways to tell “normal” dreams from past life dreams:

  1. There’s a historical element to it – either the clothing, setting or people in the dream for example;
  2. There’s a link to something about yourself that cannot be explained in this life – do you have a recurring dream where you were burned at the stake and have an over-the-top fear of fire in this life, or dream of drowning at sea as well as having a life-long fear of water? For me, I have a love of languages and find German particularly easy to learn and enjoy teaching myself with no apparent explanation for this.
  3. Your dream is recurring, little details may change of course, but generally the theme is eerily similar. I have lost count of the amount of dreams I’ve had involving the Tower of London which I’ve only ever visited once when I was 10 years old. In the dream, I’m always racing across London (a place I’ve only ever visited twice), to get to the Tower but I’m always too late for whatever it is I’m trying to get there for;
  4. Not looking or acting like yourself now in the dream but knowing that a person is meant to be yourself nonetheless;
  5. An inner knowing that the dream was just “different” somehow.
  6. Being a non-famous/ordinary person in the dream. The likelihood of you being a king of queen is relatively small in comparison to being a “normal” person from the past so I find dreams where that’s my station far more believable than where I’m Anne Boleyn for example!

Of course, these are just a few examples and you don’t have to have experienced all of them to be said to have had a past-life dream. The key ones for me personally are 1, 3 and 5, but yours could be a different combination or totally different reasons entirely.

These dreams are different from past-life regressions where you are actively trying to tap into previous lifetimes in that they are involuntary, on a conscious-level at least – those can be enlightening too in a completely different way – but that’s a post for a different day!

So what to do if you think that you have had a recurring past-life dream? Enjoy it, write it down in a dream journal and meditate on any lessons to be learnt. Importantly however, recognise that this is your life now and don’t become obsessed with the meaning behind the dream because, of course, there might not be one at all.

Have you ever had a recurring dream that you believed was related to a past-life of some sort? What made you think that? Let me know πŸ™‚

Has Your Smart Phone Taken Over Your Life?

Digital Detox Challenge

We live in a fast-paced world, no doubt about it. That fast pace has blessed us with many things – for one, I wouldn’t get to be a blogger without the recent advancements of affordable technology – but has it come at a terrible price? The cost of our peace of mind and mental health?

I love my smart phone and social media as much as the next person; I love that I can log into Netflix or You Tube whenever I want, selecting content from the huge range of topics out there any time, day or night. I can shop online whenever I want and have no excuse whatsoever to be bored ever again.

What I can find it hard to do though, is to switch off. I’m sure I’m not alone – try staying off the internet and doing a digital detox for the weekend or for two hours before bed each night. I’m sure I could do it – but I think I’d find it strange, at least at first.

Why We Need to Switch Off Sometimes

Our bodies just aren’t designed to be “on” all the time – that’s why we need to sleep around 8 hours or so a night. Our bodies and minds also need time to rest when awake (and scrolling through our favourite internet or social media sites really doesn’t count as “rest” unfortunately).

When we are off our electronic devices, we at least signal to ourselves that we’re “off” from the world for an hour or two and give ourselves space and permission to do something else for a bit.

I’m willing to bet I’m a lot lazier too with entertainment only an app away – no need to get up and get a book – there’s an app for that! Can I be bothered filing and painting my nails, why bother when I can play another round of Candy Crush?

Digital Detox

I actually use my phone far more than I’m comfortable with and not for making phone calls. I use it most often for reading but I don’t think it would do me any harm at all to cut it out for an hour or two before bedtime each night and find an actual book to read instead. From what I read on the internet, apparently I’ll sleep better for it too!

It’s not that I want to stop using my phone and devices altogether – I just want to try using them more mindfully. Half the time when I am on my phone, I’m on it out of habit rather than because I’m really enjoying it and finding value in whatever app I’m using.

Starting from 17 July 2019 then, I’m going to cut out using my phone for that last hour before bedtime for a week just to see if I see any benefit at all from being off it for a bit. I’m actually a bit intrigued as to what I might find to do with my time instead!

If you feel as if you might like to step back in time for an hour or two each night to live in the “real” world for the next week too, why not join me in my digital detox challenge? I intend to stay away from all electronics for that last hour before bed to give myself a real chance of winding-down before bedtime but you can limit it just to your phone or tablet or adapt to suit you.

Let me know in the comments how you find it or feel free to share this article with anyone else you think might find it useful πŸ™‚

A Perfect Night for a Spot of Moon-Bathing

With tomorrow’s Full Moon fast-approaching, as well as dry and fairly warm evenings even here in Manchester, what better time could there be for a spot of magical Moon-Bathing?

Moon-Bathing

So many of us are sun-worshippers despite the potential risks associated with subjecting our skin too often to its strong and harmful rays.

Being fair-skinned with a healthy smattering of freckles, as you can imagine, I burn pretty quick even slathered in factor 50. I don’t use sunbeds and can’t abide the current fashion to fake-tan to wholly unnatural looking shades of brown and orange, so when I heard about Moon-Bathing, the phrase most definitely piqued my interest.

It’s pretty much exactly as it sounds but instead of heading for the beach in a bikini, you wrap up in your jammies and a dressing gown or onesie, pop on your slippers and relax in the garden or even by a window where the moon can be glimpsed from. Take a glass of wine, or if you’re off the booze like me, a nice, warming herbal tea.

Even if it’s cloudy and you can’t see the Moon, there’s still benefits you’ll notice immediately.

For me, I noticed how cool yet relaxing and peaceful it is out here tonight, when most people have retired indoors.

I also have a fantastic view of the Manchester skyline all lit up, contrasting beautifully with the quiet of the garden and my surrounding neighbourhood.

It was very soothing just to sit and watch the changing colours of the night-sky – and our friendly, neighbourhood bat flitting across it!

The birds too were still fairly noisy until around 10pm. After that, it was nice just to sit and meditate in this peaceful, gentle atmosphere without the chaos and noise that so often surrounds it during daylight hours.

Of course, I still heard distant traffic, sirens and aeroplanes but it all felt so hushed that it wasn’t all that noticeable.

Why not give it a try? Become a Moon-Bather and let me know what you think! πŸŒ›πŸŒ πŸŒŸβ­πŸŒœ

Guinea Pig Sitting!

My Very Important Job This Week!

This week, whilst my eldest daughter is off on her holidays with her boyfriend and his family, I’ve been left in charge of her babies – technically guinea pigs not children – but they’re still her absolute pride and joy. No pressure then!

We always had dogs when I was growing up, never rodents, so I thought I’d better read up on caring for them in their “mummy’s” absence so that I could keep them both in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed! I had a good read of Blue Cross’ website to get a decent overview from a respected source on how to care for these little guys:

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/caring-your-guinea-pig

A few things worth noting about guinea pigs, also known as “cavies” I’ve discovered from Blue Cross are:

  • Boy guinea pigs are called “boars” and girls “sows” (just like real pigs to which they bear no relation nor are they from Guinea);
  • Need to be kept in groups of 2 or more as they get lonely on their own;
  • Can live for between 4 to 8 years;
  • Have sensitive hearing so avoid subjecting to loud environments;
  • Curious and friendly they are also shy and like to be under cover at times so ensure that this is provided for in their hutch which can be kept inside or outside preferably in a shed or weather protected area that is also predator-proof;
  • Allow them to graze outdoors frequently in a run as well as letting them wander in a suitable area indoors if they are house pets;
  • Important to clean them out daily to avoid them developing complications like “bumblefoot”;
  • Hay, dry-food mix and fruit and vegetables make up their daily diet and fresh water needs to be provided daily in a water bottle;
  • Long-haired guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly and all varieties should have their teeth and feet regularly checked for problems;
  • Avoid breeding them as this is something that very much should be done by experts only given some particular complications that can occur – so ensure males are neutered if keeping in mixed groups;
  • Don’t keep in the same area as rabbits as the piggies can be hurt or intimidated by these bigger animals;
  • Like playing in tubes, pipes and cardboard boxes – ours have little balls too that we pop food in for them to forage to keep them entertained;
  • When handling pick up with both hands, with one hand gently holding underneath and one on top, held close to the body so they feel safe;
  • Are friendly and sociable and enjoy being held or stroked if this attention provided regularly. One of ours loves his chin being stroked!
  • Great pets for children but, due to the level of daily care required, an adult/older child will need to be responsible in providing this as it would be too much for a young child to do alone;
  • Will communicate vocally, loudly squeaking at times! Whenever the fridge door opens or they hear their mummy coming, ours squeak like crazy thinking it means food-time! Different noises mean different things so it’s important to spend time with your piggies to get to know their cues.
  • When happy will “popcorn” and “zoom” about their cage i.e. run and jump in glee!

There’s so much more of course but just this list alone gives you an idea of how much more there is to guinea pigs than certainly I ever imagined before having them.

I knew my daughter would be missing them so I sent her a good night Facebook post from her baby boys every night so she knew that they were alright. I quite enjoyed it and she did too:

It was a really nice way to keep in touch whilst she was on her first grown-up holiday without us actually and I really enjoyed playing nanna to these two funny and cheeky boys πŸ™‚

The Gratitude Game #1

#1. What Are You Most Grateful for Today?

Even the most optimistic of us gets a bit down every now and again and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all in my opinion. I’m not someone who thinks that life has to always be sunshine and rainbows to be enjoyed to the max – indeed if life was always like this, I imagine it would be rather dull.

So when I felt my mood take a downward-dip today, whilst I can’t say I was delighted by the prospect, neither was it a complete surprise or entirely unwelcome. It was actually a good opportunity to practice what I preach and play a round of the “Gratitude Game“.

How to Play:

Very simple – grab yourself a pen and paper and jot down the following question:

What am I most grateful for today?

Then, just jot down a list of 3 things that you genuinely feel grateful for. I prefer to go for really specific things for that day rather than generals such as say clean water, fresh air, roof over my head, etc, because, whilst of course I am grateful for all of those things, it really helps me “feel” grateful when I link my gratitude list to specific events in that particular day.

So my list, for example, today included:

  1. Being able to work from home – after driving about 250 miles in the last 2 days, I was glad to just sit at my dining room table staying in one place all day!
  2. Restorative yoga practice – after a fairly intense 10 days of power yoga, it was nice to have a chilled, restorative practice on the calendar today – much needed.
  3. A present – my uncle had bought himself, me and the girls a colouring book each, designed by his favourite artist, Anne Stokes, (http://www.annestokes.com/) that we can all do together which arrived from Australia today, brightening my day considerably.

So, whilst I wasn’t quite at my usual base-line happiness level, taking a few minutes to sit and think about the good things that happened to me today definitely raised my spirits a bit without me trying to suppress the “meh” feeling either. It made “meh” more manageable!

There’s loads of different questions to ask yourself that can be more specific but this is a good one to get you started. Why not have a go and see for yourself and/or share this with a friend or family member to brighten up their day too πŸ™‚

Kids Say the Funniest Things

One of the best things about being a parent is getting to listen to some absolute classics that your kids come out with.

Like when this little thing landed on our window the other evening to the absolute delight of my youngest child, Mia, who exclaimed:

“Look, Mummy! A night-time butterfly!”πŸ¦‹πŸ¦‹πŸ¦‹

Or, when she was much younger and going on her first trip to Chester Zoo, I asked her what animal she was most looking forward to seeing – a mermaid apparently! πŸ§œβ€β™€οΈπŸ§œβ€β™€οΈπŸ§œβ€β™€οΈ

What are some of the funny things your kids have said/done?

The Magick of Herbs – The E’s & F’s

The E’s & F’s

It’s that time of the week again folks when we add another letter (or two!) to our Magickal Herbs Directory. This week, as I only had one ingredient to hand for the E’s, it’s a double-whammy as we examine the F’s too.

To check out the previous week’s edition, which links right the way back to the A’s if you follow it far enough, head here first:

https://myholisticliving.co.uk/2019/07/03/the-magick-of-herbs-the-ds/

Whether you seek love, confidence, wealth, health or happiness or to connect with your Higher Power, this week there’s something for everyone…

Elecampane

Related to the daisy, this herb has been used in love spells for centuries and, along with a couple of other herbs, was used to create the well-known “Medieval True Love Powder”. There’s also a link to the elf and fae folk in that if someone was said to be inexplicably fatigued they were thought to be “elf-shot”. Sprinkle in the garden to encourage elves and fae to visit or add to love spells for attracting your true love.

Fennel Seeds

So many uses for this wonder-herb. It can be chewed before giving a speech to encourage confidence and courage or used in a drink or as food seasoning to help combat cravings so perhaps helpful when dieting. In a tea or inhaled it provides clarity and focus so good when revising for tests or exams. Historically, hung over the door of a house to protect the occupants against witchcraft.

Fenugreek Seeds

Known for its ability to attract wealth, health and happiness and to protect against poverty, add some crushed seeds to water and use as a floor-wash or take an empty jar, adding a couple of seeds every day until it is full – once it is full you should receive the abundance you seek. As soon as you have received your bounty, it is said that the seeds should be returned to the ground so bury outside if you wish to remain abundant.

Flaxseed

Another herb known for its prosperity and abundance attracting qualities, flaxseed can also be used, maybe in conjunction with fenugreek seeds as described above, placed in a jar next to the place you sleep (obviously however out of the reach of children) to protect your dreams from nightmares or, as this herb was known as the guardian of children, used in spells, charms or amulets for fertility or to bless/protect a child.

Frankincense

Probably the most pungent of the herbs in today’s list and my favourite. It reminds me of attending church when I was younger and the Nativity Story of course, so unsurprising that it is strongly associated with spirituality, protection, exorcism, consecration and banishing negativity but its links to these uses go right back to ancient times. Frankincense is often crushed and burned with other herbs and resins to cleanse an often sacred area but another use is as an anointing oil when mixed with a carrier and/or other oils.

Short and sweet this week, which is just as well as after my drive across the moors from Manchester to Barnsley and back to see a student today, I’m feeling fairly “elf-shot” myself!

Next week, we’ll continue our journey with the G’s…

As with any remedy or medicine, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning to work with any herbs listed.