Ice Cream and Spearmint. The happiest Spring colours going.
The Magic - Joan as Policewoman (from album The Deep Field.)
Played almost daily as I drive to collect the children from nursery.
Morning walking. Somewhere between 6-6.30am (as soon as I wake up) I swivel my legs out of bed, pull on some joggers, head downstairs and straight out of the door with the dog. Sometimes with my 4 year old in tow, sometimes just me and the dog.
Sometimes we walk round the town whilst most people are still sleeping, waving at the occasional person dashing through their front garden in their dressing gown.
Sometimes we walk up the hill into more open countryside and count up how many pheasants we hear, how many hares we see bounding across the fields, how many robins we see hopping in the hedgerows, or crows squawking on the ridges of the roofs. We look to see if we can see the moon, take note of what stage of her cycle she's at.
Shifting my walk from evening to morning (and especially with it being the very first thing I do each day) has given me a gentle mood boost. I get my bones moving, my muscles loosening and I chat with my eldest son and the dog. It's so sweetly pleasant, and sets my mind up for the day.
Connection to self.
One theme that keeps cropping up over and over again for me (in therapy and other forms of introspection) is the idea of connection. Deep connection.
I crave intense connection on many levels. Connection to self, to my partner, to something much, much bigger than me, my friendships also are often intense and deep. When I feel this connection waver in areas, that's when I feel out of balance and start questioning- am I lacking the connection in said area because something's shifted and it's a sign I need to move on or let something go? Or am I lacking the connection because I need to CREATE a shift that will instead move me forward in some way, towards a better understanding.
It's been my intention just recently, to slowly tweak my day to day in order to fulfil my need for connection.
I started with the connection to self. Because it's potentially the trickiest to prioritise, and habits formed with the intention of connecting to, understanding more fully and "going-easy" on oneself can only have happy consequences, amiright?
Here's what it's looking like for me so far, it's small but it's been powerful for my peace of mind-
Wake up early. I naturally wake up early (6am) and am usually ready and raring to go. Sometimes I'm slower and need time, but not often.
The first thing I do is walk the dog. Before my coffee. Before my breakfast. Before I look on my phone. Before anything else (providing my children don't need something.) I get outside in the daylight and walk. Slow and steady. I notice the temperature, the weather. I notice if my hips are stiff, if my back feels tight, and I visualise the walk loosening everything off. Usually I see only one other person on my circuit, another woman who also walks early.
When I get back into the house I boil the kettle and drink a glass of water with the back door open. Even if it's raining I like the door open. Often I'll wave and smile to my neighbour as he heads off early to work. Fresh air in the kitchen. I have some cards by the coffee jar. If I'm feeling like it, I'll pull myself a card (affirmations, daily thoughts, meditation prompts etc.) Whilst I wait for the kettle, I ponder it's message.
I make myself aware of how I'm feeling. Anything niggling? Any angst or stresses? Or am I feeling chilled and level? Where has my brain been lingering over the last 24 hours?
I make a coffee for myself and my partner and I take his up to him in bed.
My children are usually at least stirring by this point, the eldest usually wide awake and in our bed, my youngest grumpily coaxing himself out of his own nest.
I begin the rest of the day.
Once my children are asleep, my evening time begins. If you read these Love lists regularly, you'll know I have a complicated relationship with sleep, especially since having my children. I now give myself hours to begin the wind down process that leads to a (hopefully) sound night's sleep.
My evening begins with a practice- introspection and gentle movement.
I light a candle, I make a cup of herbal tea. I often turn on some soothing music. I have a particular room in my house which I use- the sun comes through the windows around this time of day for most of the year. I have a dim light on for when the sun goes down. I roll out my exercise mat, I sit comfortably and I connect. I connect to how I'm feeling again, now I've come out the other side of my day. I notice how my physical body feels and how my head feels. I notice any tension in both areas.
I begin to move through slow and very deliberate, gentle stretches. I focus on places in my body that hold onto stress. Neck, shoulders, hips, lower back are key areas for me. I stretch out my feet, give myself a gentle foot massage, weave my fingers in between my toes and move all the bones about. I follow a sequence for my feet that an exercise teacher I had many years ago (when I was about 15) taught me. Sometimes I practice some more "intense" movements (more akin to pilates). Only if I feel so inclined.
Meditation. Introspection. Connection. For me all very similar concepts, and one important way I establish this connection to self. What it looks like for me right now is sitting in my space, having checked in with my physical body, enjoying this moment I'm creating for myself. I notice and tune into what kind of energy I have fizzing around- how does it feel (am I anxious? Am I calm? Am I settled or unsettled?) I practice deep breathing, inhaling into any areas of my body that still feel tense or fizzy after gentle movement.
I allow myself to really know what I'm feeling in the moment, to breathe through anything uncomfortable, attempt to ease anything that doesn't serve me, and to know that ultimately, I am whole and deserving even if those emotions are still present at the end of my practice. I spend a little time recognising that I am part of a larger, interconnected web, and I imagine that web as it travels away from me, through everybody I know, everybody I don't know and everything else in existence (deep!) Acknowledging and connecting to, tapping into something much, much bigger than me (incomprehensibly so) and feeling that connection, more often than not lulls me into a calmer, more relaxed state of mind.
After this practice, I almost never want to pick up my phone and so I switch it onto "downtime."
I have a project I'm working on at the minute, and so I'll make myself another herbal tea (usually something specifically for night/sleep time) get settled and write for a while, until I've completed my task.
More often than not, at this point what I am craving is a comfy, warm space, a fresh cup of tea and some pure escapism in the form of a book. I love anything that gets me out of life. Out of the mundane. I rarely read books set in the modern day or which reference life as I know it. I like to curl up(in bed in the winter or if or if I'm aware of the feeling of burnout at the edges of my peripheral) on the sofa or outside in the last of the evening sun in the summer, and lean into my reading.
In my new house I hope to have a bath, and I just know that at this point of the day, I'll be really craving an indulgent bath. Candles, salts, soft music, book, cup of herbal tea, hot water to sink into. Perfection.
And then sleep is (usually) beckoning.
Our new window display. The prettiest of all pretty windows! Click here to see some behind the scenes shots.
A really nice notebook and pen.
Mine is navy blue with gold stars and moons. I have a new writing project on. Like buying a new pair of trainers when you start training for something new.
Exercise to suit your energy.
I recently had a couple of Human Design readings which really helped me to understand a few key pieces of my personality puzzle. One penny that has dropped for me as a result is the idea that pushing myself beyond my energy limit is not productive. At all. When I need rest, I need rest. I'm considering this thought process in terms of exercise in particular here.
I'm a person who LOVES routine. I thrive knowing exact details about my week, the predictability of things such as when I will exercise and what I will do, on repeat week after week, is what I really lean into. It allows other major parts if my life to freefall when they have to. But when I'm tired, have had bad nights' sleep, am feeling exhausted, or am on my period, I have to remove exercise from the strict-routine-box, and instead shift it more into freefall.
For example, whilst it's great to have specific times of each day/week set out to exercise, I have to remove all expectation and judgement from the equation. I know there's time in my day for a 30 minute walk first thing, and an hour at the other end to stretch and connect. Some days this will look like a slow walk and very gentle seated exercises to ease tension. Sometimes it will look like a 5k run with the dog and a pilates session. Pushing myself further than my energy wants me to go is not productive for me. I'm so very intense in many areas of my life- this is one that needs to soften.
I was practicing using an online Yoga class last week, and the teacher reminded me that in just sitting on the mat, I've already showed up. I've already made a commitment to myself in that moment, carved out time to nourish myself - as I digested that thought, I felt my cup slowly, slowly filling.
8. Self Care
As the above already hints, I'm really cutting myself some slack where it's needed right now. Gentle mindset. It's a process.
9. Lusting After
New Stalf dresses... launching May.
10. Grateful for
A holiday abroad. Stay tuned for snaps!