Trouble Sleeping?

Try a “Head Orgasm”!

Or to give it its technical term, ASMR, short for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Fans of the relaxation method have also referred to it feeling like a brain massage, similar to how background or white noise is used by some people to lull them to sleep.

What is it?

Basically, it’s a tingly sensation in your head and/or body caused by hearing certain sounds, usually tactile, soft and repetitive, such as whispering, tapping, scratching, using scissors, striking a match or ripping of paper, for example. In fact, on You Tube there are literally hundreds of videos of folk doing just that which until I tried it, frankly, I was certain would be more annoying than relaxing to listen to. I was wrong.

Is it for You?

There’s probably an ASMR video for pretty much every scenario you can think of. Some take more of a healing “reiki” based approach. Others are role plays where questions are asked of you in various settings whether at a doctors, a make up artist or a hairdressers, all whilst various other noises are made in the background. Then there are the more imaginative role plays: a vampire’s snack, alien abductee, zombie apocalypse!

Does it Work?

I can only speak from personal experience and I find it intensely relaxing, but of course some videos are more relaxing than others. If you’re trying it for sleep-inducing purposes, I’d suggest a reiki/healing-based ASMR video, at least initially. I rarely make it to the end of one of these videos without drifting off into a deep, relaxing sleep.

Is it Safe?

The general consensus on the internet at least seems to be that where ASMR is used for relaxation purposes in adults, then it is thought to be relatively risk-free. As with any new practice, I’d always recommend doing your own research, speaking to your own health care provider and factoring in your own specific health needs before giving it a try yourself.

If you’ve factored all that in however and are ASMR-curious, why not give it a try and see how much better you sleep? Or feel free to share this article with someone who you know needs a good night’s sleep.

Energy Reading: 2020 Rune Reading

What Does 2020 Have in Store for You?

Check out your 2020 12-card spread below – I’ve purposely left it vague in terms of timelines. You may wish to link one card to each month of the year starting January through December or take all the cards as a whole for a general year overview. A further option would be to start with your Sun Sign (often known as star sign) and follow it in order from there. For example, my Sun Sign is Aquarius, so my 2020 rune reading could start there, followed by Pisces and then back to the start, Aries, Taurus, etc.

Have fun with it and remember, the future is never written in stone – even with the runes! We all have the power to change our destiny.

LAGU in the position of Aries:

Lagu is symbolic of flowing water, our emotions and unconsciousness. Aries, a Fire sign, whilst creative and energetic, can be impetuous, impatient and overly dramatic with this pairing. Both the rune and its position suggest a strong intuition.

Work with the watery influence of Lagu to quench overly fiery emotions. Maybe listen to your intuition and pour your creative energies into a hobby or interest you’ve been meaning to start or return to for some time.

KEN in the position of Taurus:

Think of Ken as like fire; warming, illuminating, lively and exciting but also as an element that must be controlled to avoid its destructive tendencies. Taurus, an Earth sign, forebodes stability and solidity, reliability and standing strong.

An unusual mix – stability twinned with excitement. A good time to start/add to your family or start branching out in your life/career.

WYRD in the position of Gemini:

The blank rune of Wyrd denotes that you have reached a crossroads – think carefully before determining your future path. Fate is foretold. Gemini, an Air sign, being the Twins suggests a choice, communication, fun and thoughtfulness.

The start of a new year and decade is indeed a crossroads. Whilst it’s important to think through your options carefully and to communicate your plans to those closest to you, be sure to factor in time for fun and lightheartedness on your future path.

WYN (reversed) in the position of Cancer:

Being reversed, Wyn foretells that 2020 does hold a challenge that you may be unable to overcome. The maternal and nurturing Water sign of Cancer, whilst sensitive and moody at times, is also gentle and all about home and family.

At first glance, this prediction might seem frightening but look back on previous years – was there something that one year you just could not do but then another year overcame it? The prediction is not that you will never overcome a particular challenge, just maybe not in 2020. Call on the support of your nearest and dearest to see you through any challenging times. Take this message as a warning especially if you have an important test or exam coming up, not to be complacent.

SIGEL (reversed) in the position of Leo:

Similar to The Sun card in tarot reading, Sigel denotes spirituality, good health, energy and vitality and even reversed remains a positive influence. Be wary of taking on too much, showing off and/or a tendency towards the dramatic. Fire sign Leo’s ruling planet is also the Sun and Leo often loves to take centre stage and show off but is also loyal, generous, creative and expressive.

Through 2020, be gracious and magnanimous in the good times and in the bad and be sure to share the stage of your life with those who positively add to it to avoid coming off arrogant.

HAGAL in the position of Virgo:

Hagal is a hailstorm whose meaning is similar to the Tower card in tarot – sudden, disruptive and often unexpected change, usually over as quickly as it begins but with the damage caused often lasting longer than the storm itself. This can often relate to health and the Earth sign of Virgo has strong associations to health and well-being as well as strong analytic tendencies.

There may be a sudden and unexpected health change indicated for 2020 – remember prevention is better than cure. Heed the warning now and start taking care of yourself to better prepare for any coming health “storm”. Take time now to analyse where you most need to improve your health and act now and it may well be a blessing in disguise.

IS in the position of Libra:

Is – the rune of ice, cold, lonely, independent but frozen. Combined with the Air sign of Libra whose ruling planet is Venus, you may find relationships and emotions frozen in time. Use the infamous Libran fairness and equality to balance both sides of any argument.

Relationships may reach an impasse in 2020 leading to feelings of loneliness but also independence. Give it time and wait for the warmth of the Sun rune, Sigel, to come and melt the ice.

GYFU in the position of Scorpio:

“Offering to the Gods” is the meaning of Gyfu, symbolic of gifts of love, spirituality and friendship and linked to Venus, you may give or receive an actual gift or provide some other sacrifice, e.g. time, money, advice. Whilst a positive rune, it is important that all gifts are given freely if our relationships are to run smoothly or resentment and bitterness creep in. Scorpio is a Water sign ruled by Pluto, God of the Underworld, brooding and intense, possessive and controlling, powerful, passionate and exciting.

Be sure the price of the gift is worth it.

PEORTH (reversed) in the position of Sagittarius:

Peorth represents a mystery or secret in your life that, being reversed, will be revealed. Sagittarius, a Fire sign, is linked to travel, honesty, education and intellect.

Are you being honest with those around you or yourself even? Is it time to face some honest truths or to reveal a secret that you have been holding back?

FEOH (reversed) in the position of Capricorn

Abundance is generally foretold by Feoh however as it is reversed, the opposite can be true. Conservative and resourceful Capricorn, an Earth sign, disciplined and wise, could be just what is needed to avoid or make the best of financial difficulties.

The ever-practical Capricorn influence dilutes the potential financial calamity foretold by this rune – provided you work with it. 2020 is a time to grow up financially. In debt? Make a plan to get out of it. Want to get on the housing ladder? What are your options? Just like with health, when it comes to wealth, prevention is better than cure.

ANSUR (reversed) in the position of Aquarius

Ansur is strongly linked to the wise, ancient God, Odin and being reversed, suggests a need to listen to those older and wiser than ourselves and to watch for a tendency towards problems with those in authority. Positioned in the Air sign of Aquarius whose watch words include “I know”, intellectualism, individuality, and rebelliousness, this could indicate a need to watch our attitude to others.

Make 2020 a year where you really try to listen to others as otherwise Ansur placed in Aquarius, with its rebellious and eccentric nature, could stir up a world of trouble for you across all areas of your life. Instead treat 2020 as a year for you to become the student not the master and benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of everyone around you who is willing to share their expertise with you.

GER in the position of Pisces

Ger is the rune of cycles, linked to the Wheel of Fortune card of the tarot, seasons, harvests and karma. Pisces, the final Water sign, is dreamy and emotional, sympathetic, sensitive and artistic.

2020 will be the year where you will reap what you sow. Dream big and be creative and artistic to uncover a new direction for yourself. Be there for others but be sure to take time to recuperate and try to link your daily life more closely to the seasons.

Your 2020 Rune Reading

If you enjoyed your reading, please share across social media as it really helps the site grow meaning I can start spending more time on the site!

All the best for 2020!

Why We Really Celebrate Christmas

The Winter Solstice

And it’s nothing to do with Jesus! Not originally anyway. No, Christmas (aka “yule” here in the UK), was a time when the Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year.

That’s a pretty bold opening statement! I should say before going on that I have nothing against celebrating Jesus’ birth at this time of year. My sole purpose in writing this post was to explore the origins of this celebration, see what traditions we still stick to today and their believed original purpose. If anything, it is written as a way to bring us together, regardless of personal beliefs and reasons for celebrating so apologies for any offence caused.

So far this year I’ve already posted about other celebrations such as Midsummer/Litha, Harvest/Mabon and Halloween/Samhain. Each time, I’ve been delighted to discover more about our ancestral origins and just how many of these are still celebrated, whether under a different name and/or for different reasons, today. Our past history and heritage it seems is very much alive and present now – as long as you know where to look.

Of all the celebrations of modern times, in the UK, Christmas seems to be the most popular, despite the fact that many of those celebrating don’t attend church, read the bible or indeed consider themselves of the Christian faith. Could it be that remnants of the old faith and beliefs of the Celts are inadvertently celebrated without many of us realising?

Before becoming known as “Christmas” or Christ-mass, a day to remember Jesus and specifically that he was born to die for us all, the Romans celebrated this time as “Saturnalia”, held in honour of the God of Agriculture, Saturn. Even before that, the Celtic people celebrated this time as “Yule”, a term which is still synonymous in modern parlance with Christmas today. The term Yule is believed to have come from the Celtic word for wheel “houl” as it linked back to the Wheel of the Year, the solstices, equinoxes and the changing of the seasons.

Wheel of the Year

Yule was a time when it was believed that the Sun stood still for twelve days, with the Druids (Celtic priests) lighting a yule log to overcome the darkness, expel evil spirits and bring good luck for the coming year. Mistletoe would be cut from the sacred Oak trees, symbolic of life continuing even in the darkest of days. Essentially, it was a time to celebrate the return of the days getting longer and the nights getting shorter – the rebirth of the Sun.

It’s almost impossible not to see the parallel with the later Christian faith and tradition of Christmas of the “birth of the Son” with the “rebirth of the Sun” as well as the Twelve Days of Christmas, with the Twelve Days of Yule, mistletoe and burning of the yule log still celebrated in modern times, often without ever realising their true origins. We celebrate Christmas as the day of the Son of God’s birth; the Celts celebrated Yule, in essence, as the Sun’s birthday. Are we not all celebrating the same thing just under a different name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Juliet Capulet, Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Some other traditions of Yule the Celts celebrated:

  • Hanging of evergreens such as mistletoe and holly around windows and doors. Mistletoe’s white berries were said to represent the white semen of the life-giving male hence kissing under the mistletoe today. Holly, with its red berries, is representative of feminine blood;
  • Evergreen wreaths were made symbolic of the Wheel of the Year decorated with evergreens such as mistletoe and holly but also ivy, yew and pine and hung on doors;
  • Living tree brought indoors to keep wood spirits warm throughout the winter and decorated with treats and food for them to eat;
  • Exchanging of gifts in celebration of the festival of light out of darkness and the birth of the Sun.
  • Drinking of spiced cider (apples representing the Sun) and eating of fruits, nuts, turkey with sage, cinnamon, nutmeg and the like being used for flavour;
  • Offerings of spiked oranges to also represent the Sun;
  • Lighting of bonfires;
  • Wearing of colours red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow and orange;
  • Singing of carols generally and wassailing of trees.

I love that regardless of faith or background, so many of these are still celebrated at this time of the year today, whether originating with the Celts or other ancestors, as of course we’re unlikely to ever know the true original source of many of these traditions.

This year, the Winter Solstice falls on 22 December 2019 and I for one am really looking forward to celebrating Christmas with this new knowledge of how my Celtic ancestors were celebrating themselves at this time. Which of these traditions will you be keeping alive?

Wishing you all a very happy Winter Solstice celebration!

Feeling Graceful?

Finding the Ease

Some days I find it easier to feel more graceful than others! When I think of “grace”, the obvious image that pops into my mind is that of a ballet dancer – smooth, relaxed movements, with a look of calm serenity ever present on their face, no matter the complexity of the shape performed.

Now, I’m not much of a dancer but it would seem that I’ve not been much better at being graceful in my life either! Sure, when life is going reasonably well I can be graceful but when those rain clouds appear, as they surely do from time to time for us all, I have all the grace and elegance of Bambi, his first time on ice.

A great way to start building more grace into your life if, like me, you could do with a little more during life’s tougher times, is through some kind of physical activity, like dancing. For me, I’ve found yoga a perfect way to begin trying to integrate grace into the poses (asanas) first of all and, after some time, that’s really helped me begin applying this to my life off the mat too.

In yoga, the formation of the asanas include both “sthira” and “sukha”, once you have the basics down. Sthira is a Sanskrit word meaning solid, hard, firm, strong, lasting and permanent. Sukha, in Sanskrit, means gentle, ease, pleasantness and mildness. In the poses, we work to achieve both on the mat, grounding down through the spine and the back of the body whilst simultaneously easing our heart and chest space upwards and trying to avoid holding tension in the face and body – so no gritting our teeth and forcing our bodies into positions that it may not be ready for yet.

It’s a bit like the dualism concept of yin and yang in Chinese philosophy – the idea that two opposing concepts can complement and support each other rather than fight one another. To be whole, whether in dancing, sports, yoga or life, you need both to feel whole and well.

In Western yoga, this is often described as “finding the grace”, as grace is a concept more recognisable to us in the West. Holding a pose that you find difficult on the mat, whilst also relaxing your body and face and even smiling despite the strength being used to maintain the pose, is for me, what yoga is all about.

But it’s when you start to make the connection that you can “find the grace”, the strength to face whatever life throws at you with a relaxed, smooth and even calm manner, without adding in unnecessary stress and tension, to your life off the mat too that the tools and practices of yoga (or your physical activity of choice!) really advance to the next level.

Recently, I’ve been able to see this happening in my own life with a few tough weeks over the last month or so. Whether family issues, work, the odd health issue or finances, I’ve pretty much had all of them thrown at me at once and whilst I’m not going to say I found them easy to deal with, I definitely found them easier to deal with when I began trying to “find the grace” in the situation by treating them each like a yoga pose.

With finances, for example, where could I ground into the situation – well by taking a long, hard look at where my money was going. Spending £70.00 the month before on takeaways for 3 of us was completely unnecessary for one! Where could I release tension in the situation? By stopping spending so much on takeaways but not completely restricting myself by maybe cutting out the more expensive takeaways to maybe just a chippy tea twice a month instead of curries/pizzas at a third of the cost.

Another example was to consider if my youngest really needed to go to Breakfast Club anymore which she wasn’t really enjoying and, due to a change in the time she started school this year and the time I started work, grounding into the looking at the cost of this versus the benefit. An extra £60.00 a month for little to no benefit was a complete no-brainer and helped me ease the financial burden I found myself in, again helping to find the grace in the situation.

It wasn’t easy to do these things when I felt completely battered by other things life was throwing at me but I found it far easier to do when I repeated the mantra quietly to myself of “find the ease” and approached each problem like a yoga pose.

Of course, you’ll have to find your equivalent but yoga is a practice I highly recommend. It really can be any hobby. Is there something that you really enjoy doing that requires a certain amount of knowledge and application to perform but that goes more smoothly when you relax into it? Again, examples for me include knitting, cooking and playing guitar or even blogging. How could you apply that to your everyday life?

What’s Stealing Your Energy?

Discovering the Secret to Feeling More Energised

Over the last decade or so, this has become something of a personal quest for me – just why am I so darn tired all the time? To answer this question, I’ve seen doctors, had blood tests come back “all clear”, been prescribed anti-depressants and been referred to NHS talking therapy services. Whilst these all served their purpose and helped to some extent, I still found myself feeling more tired than I felt I should be and still wondering just how I could get more energy.

Asking the Right Questions

But maybe that’s not the best question to ask, as pointed out by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love in this linked article which I wished I’d come across years ago: https://www.glamour.com/story/elizabeth-gilbert-advice. Maybe a better question to ask is:

“Where is your energy going?”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe, as Elizabeth Gilbert suggests happened to her, it wasn’t that I needed more energy; I just needed to learn how to spend it more wisely. It sounded so simple, I had to ask myself why I hadn’t thought about it this way before!

Energy Saving vs Energy Spending

When it comes to finances, I consider that I have a fairly good balance between saving and spending. Thinking about it, I’m not so sure I’ve applied those skills to my personal energy bank account quite so well. Over the years, especially through my twenties, I know I invested my energies in things that didn’t serve me well but, at the time, it didn’t really matter because it seemed so much easier to bounce back then.

Fast-forward a few years and those continual poor energy investments have led to some majorly depleted energy deposits that, like with any debt, take time to replenish – a time of “energy austerity”, if you will.

Now, despite a far healthier lifestyle and choices throughout 2019, it’s taken the best part of 12 months to start feeling like my old self and climb out of the red into the black.

Is it Not Just an Age Thing?

To a degree I’m sure it is – but it clearly isn’t just about age as some older people seem to have more energy than those younger than them. Of course we’re all different and will have different demands made of us, but just like with finances, it seems that how we spend what we do have, can make a world of difference to our daily energy levels.

So, Where is Your Energy Going?

Spending some of your hard-earned energy answering this question properly is likely to be an investment that pays dividends in the long-term.

Unhealthy Diets

We know we get our energy from food so the obvious place to start is to clean up our diets. That doesn’t mean we starve ourselves or dive head first into the latest diet craze, but it does mean we stop fuelling our bodies with unhealthy processed foods that take our body a considerable amount of energy to break down. Having said that, be sensible about it. If your body is used to a daily chocolate bar or packet of crisps, start reducing this slowly and gradually so you don’t hit your body with going from a certain daily amount of sugar to none at all. You’ll feel more tired than before that way. Maybe start with a couple of times a week, swap an unhealthy snack for a healthier version and build it up. You want to be aiming for treats to be a couple of times a week in the end but remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint if you want your new healthier food choices to last.

Unhealthy Habits

This one was the hardest for me – smoking, too much alcohol, lack of exercise, too much screen-time. These will be different for everyone and unlikely to be something you conquer overnight. What amazed me when I refrained from my unhealthy habits was realising just how much energy my bad habits were robbing from me. For me, it’s been taking one energy stealer at a time and taking them on one at a time, replacing them with healthier habits, swapping cigarettes for Champix, only drinking around once a month, daily yoga and dog-walks, putting my phone down and knitting, cooking or playing guitar. I found that until I quit smoking and massively reduced the alcohol intake, I just didn’t have the energy to engage in these healthier habits so if you have more than one bad habit like me, it might be worth asking yourself, which you think is robbing your energy most and start with that one.

Unhealthy Environments

It can be easy to underestimate this one – toxic workplace, toxic family, toxic friends – not the easiest thing to change. I spent years of my life trying to convince some people why they should like me and change themselves/their opinions before realising it was a complete waste of my time and energy. Now if I find myself around someone who is toxic, i.e. draining my energy repeatedly, I ask myself are they worth being around.

Of course, we can’t avoid and cut out everybody who is toxic to our energy – we may need that job or they may be a close family member/friend. But we can limit our contact with those people and set clear boundaries. This has been an absolute game-changer for me this year. I find that I have more time to spend with those friends, family and colleagues that I enjoy spending time with which means that when I do have to interact with someone I find draining, I have more energy, compassion and patience to do so. This isn’t about labelling people toxic/non-toxic or only being around those who always agree with you. It’s simply removing or reducing contact with people who you find draining to be around.

Obviously I’m no doctor nor medically trained in any way so obviously speak to your own healthcare provider before applying any of this to your own life or circumstances. If you’ve any tips you’d like to share to inspire others who may be feeling exhausted and run down feel free to add them to the comments below.

Seven Worlds, One Planet

Not for the Fainthearted

For anyone who’s watched any of Seven Worlds, One Planet, Sir David Attenborough’s latest collaboration with the BBC, I think it’s fair to say, it does not make easy viewing. Having said that, in my view, it’s not supposed to. It is meant to wake us up to the reality all around us. It is meant to jolt us into action.

And not before time.

As hard as it is to watch and to see the devastating effects of climate change on every continent on the planet, I strongly recommend that any adult who says that they care about animals, nature and/or the environment takes the time to do so. But I warn you, it is not for the faint of heart.

Just this morning, whilst I watched Episode 2 with growing horror at the destruction of habitats and how this is already affecting numerous animals living in Asia, my husband turned to me and asked how I could watch things like this. My response? It motivates me to try and do more about it. For me, that is reason enough.

Unfortunately, the time to bury our head in the sand and wait for others to save the planet has come and gone. Turning the other way and pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t mean it isn’t happening right now. If I have to sit through a programme showing me the stark reality of my actions and the actions of all those around me to guilt trip me into doing more, then frankly, it’s the least I can do.

I get it – for some the harsh reality is just too hard to face. For those people, ignorance really is bliss – for now. If those people can be motivated to do more for the planet without facing facts then great, don’t watch it. Get on with saving the planet today. But as harsh as it is to face watching a programme, climate change is encroaching on our lives one day at a time. Wait until we’re living it, as our current culture and behaviour is forcing these animals to do. Ignorance won’t be bliss then will it? Will you wish you had done more then?

Whilst I know that these days I do more than I used to in an effort to make a difference, at heart I know that there is more that I can do than what I am doing, and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it is this fact which makes watching this programme difficult to do. If every single one of us, whether having watched this programme or not, did one thing new towards helping in the fight against climate change today, then this would be a step in the right direction.

There will always be the sceptics out there who question the point of it given the pollution being produced by certain countries. Leave them to it – for some the responsibility is too great to bear that they are defeated without trying. Me, I intend to work harder at what I can do, starting with watching programmes like this and educating myself as to the true, terrible state of our planet and what I can do now, today, to help in the battle.

If you want to learn more and are ready to face up to the challenge, you can find out more here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07dzjwl

Another great source with tips on how you can begin fighting back can be found here: https://www.wwf.org.uk/thingsyoucando

What will you do?

Happy Celtic New Year!

Samhain Celebrations

As I’ve dived deeper into the ancient history and culture of Great Britain these last 12 months or so, purely out of personal interest, I’ve been delighted to discover just how many of our “modern-day” celebrations and traditions are far more ancient than I initially thought.

Modern or Ancient Traditions?

I’ve known since I was a pretty young child that Christmas, for example, was in fact a Pagan holiday allegedly hijacked by the early Christian church as a way to cement the new religion of Christianity on the people but allowing them to celebrate in a way and at a time they were used to, albeit under a different name. Originally known here as Yule by the Celts and later as Saturnalia following the Roman invasion, many of the traditions of Christmas such as decorating homes with holly, mistletoe and even decorating a tree clearly pre-date Christ’s birth. Why at this time of the year? It coincided with the Winter Equinox, a time that marks when the shortest day/longest night of the year, and was really a celebration of light and dark, like so many ancient celebrations.

I remember learning at school that Halloween was really All Hallows’ Eve, as 1 November was All Saints’ Day, being a day to remember Christian saints and martyrs. In fact, from what I’ve read since, Pope Boniface IV only created this celebration in the year 609 and purposely chose the date to coincide with the date Samhain was celebrated, again to replace the Pagan holiday.

More recently, as I started researching Samhain and how it used to be celebrated by the Celts, I was interested to note that bonfires would be lit. This raised the obvious question to me – is our modern day celebration of Bonfire Night here in the UK somehow linked to Samhain rather than Guy Fawkes? I can’t blame the Christian church for this (who I have nothing against by the way!) – whilst at the time there was a war waging between Protestants and Catholics and had been since the time of the Restoration, I think this was more a case of old habits of the people die hard, and celebrating Bonfire Night kept the old tradition alive, just for different reasons. It was a good way for those who still followed the old faith to practice the traditions of the ancient religion without arousing suspicion from those who would otherwise have called them witches and heretics. Confessing to being either Catholic or Pagan back then would likely lead to the same outcome – execution – frequently by burning!

Traditional Samhain Celebrations

Samhain was a 3-day festival honoured by the ancient Celtic pagans here in the UK during the time of the Iron Age, which means “summer’s end”, thus ushering in the Celtic new year. Some of the key themes believed to have been part of Samhain include:

  • Cycle of death and rebirth celebrated as the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter;
  • Final preparations for winter e.g. crops, animal sacrifices;
  • Bonfires/fire festivals to mark the autumn equinox and the start of the dark half of the year;
  • Visibility of the gods by humans, the occult and spirits from the Otherworld;
  • Offerings left for visiting spirits;
  • Playing of pranks and tricks;
  • Fortune-telling for the year to come;
  • Dressing up/costume wearing.

Do any of these look familiar?

When I was little, we were not allowed to go trick or treating as my mother classed it as “begging” and believed also that it was unsafe. We did go to family Halloween parties, bobbing for apples, dressing up usually in a black bin bag with witch face paint on and, with my mum’s birthday being on Bonfire Night, we usually celebrated that too by having a bonfire in the back garden and watching everyone else’s fireworks (being not very well off ourselves!).

Some people say that Halloween has become too “Americanised” but I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. For our honeymoon, my husband and our kids went to Florida in October/November and if there’s one thing Americans do fantastically well in my view, it’s got to be Halloween!! Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights are fantastic and Disney’s Not So Scary Halloween equally fun for little ones. In the UK, Alton Towers and a lot of farms put on some great events too with Halloween being more popular than ever these days. What a wonderful way to keep the old beliefs and traditions of our ancestors alive and kicking for future generations!

I personally feel like I’ve really connected with the Samhain celebration this year. I love that traditionally it was a way to remember those who have gone on to the spirit world and I’ve now discovered that Bonfire Night may be linked to the festival too. My mum died at only 53 a few years ago and with Bonfire Night being her birthday, it has given a special day even more meaning for me.

The kids, me and the dog all went trick or treating and I was blown away by some of the effort people went to this year – fantastic and all in the name of good fun.

Now I’m off to put the pumpkins to good use and make a warming pumpkin soup for supper – yum!

Tarot Cards Anne Stokes www.myholisticliving.co.uk

Energy Tarot Reading: November 2019

November 2019

With Halloween, also known as Samhain, just around the corner, what better time to put to use my new Anne Stokes’ Gothic Tarot Cards, gifted to me last month by my husband for our wedding anniversary.

As this is a general energy reading for November 2019, obviously take what resonates for you from your reading below. If it’s not something that seems relevant to you and your life then these messages won’t be for you this time. If you’re looking for more personalised messages then feel free to contact me for a personal reading, details and packages of which can be found over at our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/HolisticLivingWithCarla/

Your Reading

Tarot Cards Anne Stokes www.myholisticliving.co.uk
Picking your Cards…

Four of Swords Tarot Cards Anne Stokes www.myholisticliving.co.uk

Four of Swords (reversed):

The Swords denote intellect, thoughts, mental stimulation with the four being a time for deep reflection and meditation, musings and pondering. A time to be alone with one’s thoughts to gain a better understanding of a situation.

If you’ve never tried meditation before, this could be a perfect time to give it a try and, with being reversed, suggests to me that is something that you are sorely in need of.

The Empress Tarot Cards Anne Stokes www.myholisticliving.co.uk

The Empress:

A maternal, earthy energy, nurturing and creative. It can of course denote an actual pregnancy or be metaphorical such as birthing a new project or idea.

She is the power behind the Emperor’s throne; a source of inner strength and a wise and loving ruler.

Maybe a time to show your nurturing side – whether to yourself or others.

The Chariot

The Chariot:

A change of energies here, suggestive of a time of picking up the pace, maybe feeling pulled in all directions, forward movement, travel, victory and progress.

It feels as though the end of November could start to get extremely busy for you with you maybe feeling like you’ve taken on too much. Stick with it as the card in the upright position suggests you are moving in the right direction.

Ace of Swords

Ace of Swords:

Another card of the Swords suit. The Ace is the beginning and, being Swords, suggests the beginning of an idea or thought.

Your mind becomes consumed as the seeds of a new idea begin to take hold. Think it over carefully before deciding how to act. Your thinking is likely to be razor-sharp at this time.

Tarot Reading https://myholisticliving.co.uk/
Your Cards

The Takeaway

This felt a very clear message for those it is meant for; if you’re feeling burnt-out, stressed, over-stretched, indecisive, unsure or just out of sorts in any way, what have you got to lose by spending 5 minutes a day in silent reflection with yourself. You may be thinking that you can’t spare 5 minutes a day, but as someone who often feels the same, I know my day always feels much calmer and do-able when I take the time to meditate, especially in the morning.

This would coincide with the message of The Empress – nurturing yourself is a way of not only loving yourself but in doing so you are better able to nurture and love others. Meditation is an easy and effective way to do that. Carve out just 5 minutes a day for yourself to sit with yourself and your thoughts and listen to the sound of your breathing. Meditation is not about not thinking. Rather it is to simply observe your thoughts, which will come, and become aware of them. Then bring it back to the present by simply focusing on your breathing.

And you’re going to need those 5 minutes a day to yourself to better handle the faster-paced energies of The Chariot in the latter half of November when you become even busier. Take the time now to establish the habit of meditation and it will pay dividends for you at this hectic time.

The end of November feels calmer again, if you’ve listened to the guidance and messages from your Higher Self and carved out just 5 minutes a day to nurture yourself through meditation, even through the busy times. In doing so, you’ll sharpen your mental strength and might just hit on a fantastic new idea – be sure to think it through from all angles whilst your wits are about you. This is not the time to act but to enjoy the birthing of a new idea.

Until next time…

Cane Corso Puppy

Our New Puppy!

The First 48 Hours…

Introducing our new family member – Roxie! She’s a 4 month old Cane Corso adopted from the Dogs Trust, https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/ and like most puppies, she’s a bit of a handful!

Until seeing Roxie for the first time, the breed of Cane Corso (say, can-eh cor-soh) was not one we’d come across before. Essentially, they are a type of Italian Mastiff, not particularly well-known in the UK with an impressive history and lineage.

Breed History

Both the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff share a common ancestor that was particularly popular in Roman times, when Roman soldiers brought them back from Greece and bred them with dogs already resident in Italy. Due to their strong and powerful build, as well as their intelligent, loyal and protective nature, they were frequently used as war dogs as well as being kept as guard and farm dogs more generally.

In the 1970s, the breed was almost at the point of extinction until two Italians, who were enthusiasts of Molossers in general, set up a centre to save the ancient breed. Thanks to their efforts, and many others who supported and assisted them, we’re now lucky to have our very own Cane Corso puppy today.

The information and guidance we’ve received on this type of dog is that fully grown she’s going to need walking at least a mile every morning and every evening, will need to be given a “job” such as hunting out treats and toys so as not to become overly protective of the house and family and to slowly begin socialising her from a very early age with other dogs and their owners.

We’ve also been told that these dogs aren’t ideal for everyone just because of their size and protective tendencies if not properly trained. This breed of dog takes a substantial amount of work to be a suitable family pet so be sure it’s the pet for you and that you’re prepared to put the time in before opting for a Cane Corso.

The First 48 Hours

Since bringing Roxie home on Thursday evening from the Dogs Trust local to us, it’s been exhausting! I feel like a new mum again especially since she’s only a young puppy and seems very unsure of stairs, refusing to go up them for the past 2 nights, so the husband and I have taken it in turns to sleep on the couch until she gains some confidence. She has today managed to have a wander around up there so maybe this evening we’ll all make it to the bedroom!

As she is going to be a very large dog, we’ve already been informed to be careful not to over-exercise her at this age so as to better protect her joints in later life. That being said, she has enjoyed chasing a Frisbee round the back garden today for 10 minutes to burn off some of that never-ending puppy energy, as well as some very short walks to the end of the street and back as she’s still quite nervous out of the house and garden.

As you’d expect with a puppy, especially one who’s been rescued, Roxie hasn’t yet been house-trained. She’s working on it and so far, despite a few inevitable accidents in the kitchen, she’s slowly learning what’s expected of her.

She’s also learning that she’s not allowed on the couch, just because she’ll soon be too big for it, so all in all we’ve been really impressed with her ability to pick up the house rules as quickly as she has.

The great thing about adopting a dog from the Dog’s Trust is that you get access to their Dog School for a 6-week training course for a very reasonable fee. For any puppies I think that this is important, but especially for one that will grow to be as strong and powerful as Roxie is expected to, it’s going to be absolutely vital. We get helpful guidance and support on the latest training and behavioural guidelines, very much based around positive reinforcement rather than other methods, so lots of treats and cuddles which Roxie just absolutely loves of course.

You also get post-adoption check ins at 2 days, 2 weeks and 4 months but can contact them at any time during the dog’s life for help and assistance with your doggy-friend. The obvious benefit is that you get to help a rescue dog who probably hasn’t had the best start in life giving them a new home and a fresh start.

Cane Corso Puppy
Look at those Puppy Dog Eyes!

If you’re thinking of adding a dog to your family, be sure to check out the Dogs Trust which has centres throughout the UK and can be found online at https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/.

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.