Alice in Wonderland, Blog, Lewis Carroll, Library, Love, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Poetry, Reading, Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare, Sonnet, W H Auden, Writing

The Power of Poetry

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Poems really can influence your world…

As January draws to a close I’ve been looking back at poems that have influenced me in some way.  After writing a few of my own poems, I’ve found a new appreciation for great poetry.
A poem can capture so much about the subject with a few words, through the mood or feeling. I want to share some of my thoughts about these with you and perhaps hear your comments.

If… by Rudyard Kipling

Probably one of the most famous of all poems, has to be a favourite; it’s strong, uplifting words are based on a masculine ideal.

Reading it at a time when you are feeling low and not certain of the way forward; can help you feel stronger and find purpose.

Jabberwocky (from Through the Looking-Glass) by Lewis Carroll

You have probably all guessed by now that one of my favourite authors is Lewis Carroll and the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

On first glance Jabberwocky appears to be written in strange words, but you can get the general sense of the words from their sounds. Although a number of the words have been adopted and are now in the dictionary. Jabberwocky has a enchanting quality about it that’s unusual.

Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley

As we approach Valentines Day, Love’s Philosophy expresses love in a magical and dream like way. It appears to be more about the fantasy of being in love than reality. Shelley originally wrote it for a young lady he admired. He was obviously smitten by her!

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

A poem by Shakespeare had to be part of my list in some form. In this sonnet, Shakespeare writes a more mature love sonnet describing marriage and includes words used in the marriage service. Sonnet 116 is a favourite poem for couples to choose to recite at a wedding or civil ceremony.

Twelve Songs by W H Auden (Stop all the Clocks)

I’ve always admired this poem it’s a favourite of mine. It’s a love song about two gay men. The dramatic tone and descriptive words are immensely striking. It’s popularity rose when it was recited in the film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’; in the funeral service.

What do you think of my selection? What are your favourite poems and why?

Blog, Books, Cheese, Cholesterol, Diet, Heart, Uncategorised

Trying to loose #weight?

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If you choose cheese, are you aware how high in cholesterol it is?

I am a cheese lover;

I particularly like goats cheese for its strong unusual flavour.  In the past, I would regularly tuck into cheese sandwiches every day; selecting different cheeses to eat every week. 

I’m not in a minority enjoying cheese with around a third of us eating cheese regularly in a meal. 

The top five most popular cheeses in Britain at the moment are:

English Cheddar

Red Leicester 

Brie 

Mozzarella 

Parmesan

This trend seems to be growing with the increase in popularity of vegetarian foods recently. More people are becoming aware of the health benefits of cutting down on red meat and are also aware of the environmental impact of production processes. An appealing alternative to this appears to be cheese.

The most surprising fact is that one in ten people habitually eat a chunk of cheese as a main meal.

I’ve been trying to cut back on saturated fat intake along with my carer. Until recently I’d eaten cheese and thought it was not particularly any more fattening than any other type of food; except fruit and veggies which you can eat in abundance.

I discovered reading food labels in detail, that it is very high in saturated fats. Much higher than most red meats in fact and therefore not much help if your trying to cut back on saturated fat.

Cheese can contribute to increased levels of saturated fat in the diet fast if it’s eaten regularly. An alarming fact if you have switched to cheese recently and thought it was a healthy option to meat products.

Why is saturated fat something to be aware of in a diet?

Saturated fat in a nutshell……

Eating too much saturated fat in your diet leads to your body producing excess cholesterol which causes blood arteries to become blocked or restricted. This in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular disease which includes heart attacks, angina and strokes.

The easiest way to reduce this risk is by lessening the intake of saturated fats. There are some quick and easy ways to start making a difference. Avoid or reduce full fat dairy products such as cream or cheese (skimmed or 1% fat milk is much better than full fat milk). Also cut back on pasties, pastries, pies, cakes, chocolate, coconut milk, coconut oil and palm oil. When eating meat choose low fat meats such as chicken, turkey, venison, veal or rabbit.

In addition you can have foods that reduce cholesterol in the blood.

Soluble fibre (e.g. fruit, vegetables, oats and nuts) absorbs and carries the cholesterol out of the body.

Plant stanols or sterols inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut. These are available in fortified foods such as Benecol.

For more information about diet and healthy eating have a look at the following website:

NHS Live well, eat well

Further details about heart disease and stroke:

British Heart Foundation information and support

Stroke Association

Look after your health and your heart….

Chronic illness, Diet, Exercise, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Meditation, Uncategorised

I have #fibromyalgia…

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Fibromyalgia affects around 1 in 20 people. Although most people have no idea what fibromyalgia is; let alone what it’s like to live with.

So, here’s a brief guide for anyone who doesn’t know anything about fibromyalgia.

What is fibromyalgia?

Its a long term chronic health condition characterised by pain. The pain ranges in severity on a daily basis from mild symptoms to severe pain in changing areas of the body.

The main symptoms are:

Pain throughout the whole body 

Joints and muscles feel stiff

Quality of sleep can be poor

Feeling tired and fatigued 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Extreme Sensitivity 

Cognitive problems, feeling confused, or dazed, sometimes called Fibro fog

Headaches

Depression 

Anxiety 

Painful periods in women 

The symptoms can vary from person to person.

Symptoms can get better or worse from time to time.

Factors that influence this are:

  • the amount of stress you are experiencing 
  • how much daily exercise you have
  • and changes in climate and temperature 

Further information is available on the NHS website.              

If you think you may be suffering from fibromyalgia, consult your doctor or health professional. They will run a variety of tests to get an accurate diagnosis of your condition.

There’s no cure….Yes you did read that correctly; there’s no cure, but…

I’ve lived with fibromyalgia for 15 years and found some times are really tough.

The single most upsetting factor for me has been other people’s perception of ‘living with fibromyalgia’. They almost always get it wrong. So, if you meet someone who has fibromyalgia, tread carefully. Don’t jump to conclusions about how they feel. Listen to them. After all they are living with it on a daily basis.

The positives are my symptoms are still there, but have improved greatly since I was first diagnosed.

I have been able to boost my general health through diet, exercise  and meditation .

This is a short post about symptoms, living with fibromyalgia is another story…

If you would like to read more about what helped me, follow my blog and have a look at my Fibromyalgia Self Help Pages.

Blog, Meditation, Mindfulness

#Mindful Thought Practice

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At the beginning of a new year after the celebrations are over how do we feel?  Focusing back on our daily lives. My week ahead is busy with everything I’ve ‘put off to the new year’. Unfortunately I seem to have crammed it all into the first week!

I’ve kept one New Years resolution so far; to focus on being mindful in my day to day activities.

I bought a journal and have been using it to keep a record of how I’m doing. It’s also served as a tool for ideas to explore and practice. 

Why practice mindfulness?

Clinical researchers have carried out a number of tests which have shown that mindfulness can improve your overall health and wellbeing in these ways:

  • lower stress levels
  • lower depression
  • improve the quality of sleep
  • reduce anxiety
  • encourage positive thinking
  • alter the way the mind reacts to difficult situations
  • improve decision making

How can mindfulness be described?

In a nutshell, it’s focusing our attention purely on the present moment. Doing this without letting the mind drift back to past memories or thinking about future events. Mindfulness is embracing the present with acceptance, without judgment.

The monkey mind🐒

There are so many distractions for us to focus our mind on. To illustrate the monkey mind, try this exercise for a couple of minutes.

Focus your mind on your breathing.  Think about where you can feel movement in your chest from your breathing.  Concentrate on this area, for a few minutes. You will notice your thoughts stray, thinking about numerous things other than the breath.

These thoughts are from past or future experiences. The mind is rarely focused on the present. It jumps from one subject to another, like a monkey playing. This practice is called the monkey mind.

How do I start to practice mindfulness?

Start by focusing on your senses when you carry out your everyday routine. By thinking about the feel, touch, smell and the sound of everything you are experiencing.

If you carry out a task such as washing the dishes, think about the heat of the water, the texture and feel of the plates, the scent of washing up liquid and the sound of water filling up the bowl.

“If you have a regular daily routine build some time into it every day to practice mindfulness.”

You could try changing your daily activities. For example if you regularly go for a walk and always walk the same way; try changing the route to one your not as familiar with. Or try a completely new walk.

By changing your routine to something different or new it will get your mind to focus on a familiar task in a different or new way.

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Thought watching

If you find while you are concentrating on tasks thoughts interrupt you. Just observe them, try not to be side tracked by them.

Introduce a label for each thought that arises; ‘I’m nervous about a exam result’, label it ‘thought’, or a feeling ‘I feel worried’ label it ‘emotion’; and go back to the task you are carrying out.

This practice will help train the mind to not follow a thought and get sidetracked by it. Just observe thoughts without judgment, acknowledging them, and labelling them. Going back to the task.

Mindfulness meditation

Taking mindfulness a step further incorporating it into daily meditation practice can encourage the mind to work in a regular pattern.

Mindfulness meditation works by silently spending a few minutes every day thinking about one aspect of the body, such as breathing awareness and acknowledging thoughts, when they arise and bringing back attention to the breathing.

Have a look at my page on Meditation for more information about suggestions for meditation practice.