My Top 3 Oil Diffuser Picks On The Market.

My Top 3 Oil Diffuser Picks On The Market

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oil diffuser

We have all heard about the essential oil revolution of the 21st century. No doubt you have a friend who sells them as an Ambassador or Partner of doTERRA or Young Living. The big guns of the oil industry. 
You may have been to an in-house essential oils class and I wager, you have definitely been approached by someone telling you all about the benefits and miracles of this hugely popular industry, encased in small amber bottles of therapeutic, oily goodness.

“At the time, I really loved Sudocrem and Vaseline
as a general fix-everything, go-to ointment.
They were my trusty peeps”.

I may sound a bit skeptical here and initially I was.
A friend of mine was a doTERRA Ambassador and carried around tiny vials of oils in a zip-up case, literally attached to the outside of her handbag, like a visiting locum’s briefcase.
If her daughter fell over, brushed a stinging nettle, had a headache or sneezed, one of those potent little bottles would be silently whipped out of the doctor’s bag and applied to the offending area.

“The oils proved to be more than a fad
and firmly cemented their worth,
not only in our home but also our hearts”.

And here is the honest part.
It kind of annoyed me. It felt a bit over-the-top. A tad too much.
I’m not a fad person or someone who finds alternative health options that appealing and I mean, at the time, I really loved Sudocrem and Vaseline as a general fix-everything, go-to ointment.
They were my trusty peeps.
We had been through a lot together – six children and their various scrapes, bruises, red bottoms, cracked nipples. I wasn’t ready to change camp just yet.

However, as I have mentioned here before, the proof of their worth and viability eventually won me over.
I am a result’s girl and using oils produced results, like healthy children, minimal bugs and a whopping 90% reduction in doctor’s visits and no more antibiotics.
I couldn’t argue with the facts, as stubborn as I am.
The oils proved to be more than a fad and firmly cemented their worth not only in our home but also our hearts. Our very healthy hearts, lungs and chests.

And of course, I did my research and realised that essential oils have been used for thousands of years, from cultures as far-reaching as Ancient Egypt and India. And that there are a significant number of modern scientific studies that support the theory that essential oils can be beneficial in a number of very real and quantifiable ways, as we discovered on our personal oil journey.

We began incorporating oils into our home about three years ago and we are still going strong with our love of the powerful droplets of nature. And whilst I don’t think I will ever be the sort of ‘visiting-locum’s-briefcase-kind-of-mama’, I adore diffusing oils in my home as well as wearing oil blends on our bodies.

Every day my home is filled with the therapeutic goodness of natural disinfectants and antimicrobial type oils that clean our air and protect our bodies. I have learnt along the way that certain oils such as tea tree, have been used for centuries to create the ambiance of a calm and safe space. We diffuse lavender for relaxation, peppermint and eucalyptus for a decongestant and even pain relief can be found in rosemary (who knew it had such potential other than just the Sunday lamb roast?)
By diffusing these oils into the air, we reap the benefits for hours without needing to reapply them onto our skin.


However, that said, I haven’t had the best of luck with oil diffusers and after spending quite a bit of money on ones that just didn’t last the distance, through trial and error and finally a lot of research, I can confidently say, these are my top three, all-time, fail-proof, best diffusers for the home.
It’s one thing to look at a product page on Amazon and read the reviews (like I did), but something entirely different to actually hold and use a diffuser in the home.

So to start us off, what exactly is an essential oil diffuser?

Essential oil diffusers are devices that are used to disperse essential oils into the surrounding air, as well as to add fragrance to a room without synthetic chemicals. They are also used in aromatherapy for a variety of therapeutic purposes.

My choice of diffusers is the ultrasonic type as they not only offer a chemical-free way to scent your space, but they provide the spa like atmosphere that goes hand in hand with the aroma.
Often ultrasonic vaporisers are equipped with colourful lighting and a variety of timer options and they are generally very quiet.

With ultrasonic diffusers, the majority of the mist is a water vapour, which means the scent does have a limited healing capacity, however I personally find it an enjoyable process to refill my water and oil in the barrels once or twice a day, so it is not a chore for me, rather a self-care ritual.


Throughout my quest to find the top three, these were some of my considerations:

Firstly, I wanted to make sure that my diffuser was large enough to effectively cover the size of my open-plan kitchen/diner/lounge room. Most (high quality) diffusers include an estimated room size they are most effective in, so pay attention to this in the description.

Secondly, I realised that water capacity was important, along with the estimated operating time. I found with some of mine that I was constantly topping up the water level each hour or so, which was inconvenient. The operating time informs you of how long you can expect the oil scent to last in a room. Basically, bigger is better here.

Lastly, I wanted a diffuser that was super easy to setup (water, oil, done) as well as clean up. Plus I wasn’t keen on a noisy new house-member so that was another consideration for me when I researched. For me, quiet was a key factor.

There are a lot of essential oil diffusers available online. In fact, there are more than 32,000 essential oil diffusers available on Amazon alone! No wonder I purchased a lot of lemons before we struck oily success!

Here they are! The final three and my best pick of essential oil diffusers ever.
TOP PICK:

Coosa Glass Marble Diffuser 

SECOND PICK:

doTERRA_Petal Diffuser_web

dōTERRA Petal Diffuser

My second choice, as it has the backing of a multi-million company and the quality is undeniably excellent.

It is a simple two-piece design, a lavender bottom and pale top, that is made even easier by the fact that the top can be placed on the base piece in any direction, so it’s super easy to handle.
Whilst it is certainly not as aesthetically appealing as the Coosa Glass Marble diffuser, this little guy has strong merits to make it to my number two.
As ultrasonic diffusers release a cool mist into the air, this can help to add some humidity to the room. Brilliant if you have dry and painful sinuses, like me.

The Petal has a soft white light, which you can choose to have on or off whilst it is running. Once it has finished diffusing, the light will automatically turn off. I love this option and use it in the girl’s bedroom which doubles as a night light whilst they are falling asleep, however as they don’t require one all the way through the night, this works really well.

Again, the Petal is very quiet (perfect for sleeping times!!) when in use and the oil scents linger for around 30 minutes after it has been turned off.  It’s super easy to use with just two buttons on the front – one for the light and the other on/off.

The run time is four hours as opposed to the Coosa’s three.
The price is substantially more than the others and the warranty is only 90 days as opposed to other more extensive guarantees, however I would still recommend this as a solid starter diffuser, given its ease of use and good track record of operation.

FINAL CHOICE:

 

 InnoGear.

My final product and also Amazon Choice’s, highly recommended, well-priced product. At only £13.99, it sure is a very solid, budget buy.

I purchased three of these in August 2017 and can honestly say they have not missed a beat. Given they are very well used and pump out the oils and lovely soft mist for approximately 6-8 hours a day, I am super impressed with this product.
It is an excellent buy, especially for the customer who wants to dip their toes in essential oil use but not outlay too much money, because let’s be honest, those tiny brown vials are expensive!

The InnoGear has a working time of 4-5 hours under continuous mode and 11-12 hours under intermittent. Very impressive run time.
The mist will run continuously until the water barrel is empty.

It has seven different coloured lights, not my most favourite feature but I keep mine mainly on white, so it suits everyone.
I do love the fact though, that it doubles as a night light once again for the kid’s rooms.

This one is a really, really solid purchase and whilst I would also invest in the more flashy and pretty diffusers, for practical workability and affordability, the InnoGear is an absolute winner.

So friends, these are my top three and all winners in my book.

I would confidently recommend them to a first-time oily buyer or those who feel they want a change from their usual diffusers.
Happy shopping!



 

 

 

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How Not To Fail As A Parent.

How Not To Fail As A Parent.

How not to fail as a parent




How not to fail?

Now I have your attention – let me assure you that failure is not an option in parenting.
How could it be?
The sheer miracle of growing a tiny human being in your own body, is in itself a phenomenon that to this day, I can’t believe actually occurs.

From the time that a baby is only one-sixth of an inch long, the backbone, spinal column and nervous system are already forming and the kidneys, liver and intestines are beginning to take shape.  At just 20 days old your baby’s heart begins to beat and will continue to do so until the end of their life.
Also by the 20th day, your little one has developed the foundations of the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.  Taste buds are beginning to form and milk-teeth buds are present by just over six weeks.

“Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and
constant learning from your mistakes”.

All that happens within a woman’s body without her actively doing anything at all.
This human incubation is quite simply a miracle.

I saw a quote recently on a mummy Facebook page I follow and initially I was eager to read it, believing it would be an encouraging and uplifting start to my day.
It read like this:
How to be a mum in 2018…
Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional and social needs are met, whilst being careful not to overstimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, plastic-free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free, two-story, multilingual home, preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard.
Also – don’t forget the coconut oil.




You may need to lie down for a bit after reading that. I surely did.

After reflecting on these words, it made me think about the pressures that parents face in the 21st century. Even though we have more gadgets, faster technology and superior knowledge at our fingertips, it hasn’t slowed life down any.

We are to be constantly present and available
, owing to smart-phones and international connectivity.
Communication has never been faster. Or more draining.
The seemingly unrelenting pace, the choices we face and the pressures to keep up, are keeping us all on our toes. And rest can appear impossible.

How not to fail as a parent 1
And motherhood? It’s a maze of choices and indeed information, that can feel overwhelming and more than a little bit frightening.

Let’s be honest, motherhood is hard.
Don’t let anyone infer that it is a breeze. Precious adults are a result of years of time spent shaping and moulding humans from a base note of love and patience.
And also making mistakes. Often.

I have yet to meet a mother who has never once in her entire lifetime made a single mistake.
I am positive, absolutely 200% sure she does not exist.
However, similarly, I am 300% confident that a tonne of mother’s like to pretend they have all their ducks perfectly placed in a row, alphabetised, on-time, on-trend, politically correct, genius-brained, colour-coded, on-point, flawless bringing up of humans.

These are not my people.

I mean, I made my first parental mistake, oh, within approximately 120 seconds of birthing my first child.
She was duly placed on my chest, beetroot red, which one can understand, given that she had been squeezed like a watermelon for the past two hours, waiting in the small confines of my birth canal.
Given her puce colour, I immediately enquired whether she had a giant birthmark on her entire face.
“No”, said the midwife, “she is just taking her first few breaths of life!”
Number one of millions of mistakes I would make as a parent, had begun.

But, we all know that parents grow in their skills, just like babies grow and develop. When we are handed our little one, they don’t come with a manual, dvd, matching mummy tee-shirt and baby onesie.
Parents become parents but not instantly.
It is a lifetime of learning, together.



In this space of encouragement, here are some things I have learnt along the way of my own parenting journey:

As mothers, we are all doing our very best but we all do it differently and different isn’t wrong.

How not to fail as a parent 2

In other words, be proud of your journey. You may skip, whilst others run. Or hop when your friend prefers to amble. We all want happy, healthy and successful children.
There are many paths to choose from to reach the destination. Enjoy your ride without worrying if your neighbour is doing it better.

In the realm of motherhood and perfection, I’ve also realised over the years that my house is a home, filled with little moments that become rich memories. Don’t believe the lie that other mothers keep tidy and clean homes. LIVE in your house. I think it is almost impossible to maintain a perfect home with little people (or big people) to run after.

“Mothers are masters at faking it!”

And whilst I do love myself a bit of social media, I have to remind myself that Facebook and Instagram generally only paint a rosy picture and not always the gritty in-the-trenches moments of reality.
Whilst they are brilliant ways to connect with others and glimpse the lives of people whom I admire and/or aspire to be more like, I have realised if the perfect photos and well-laid out grids are pulling my heart down, causing me to feel like a failure, I put the phone down.

Similarly, regarding what we feed our families, whilst some live on take-outs a few nights a week, others may never grace the sliding doors of the golden arches. Many children need to be on special diets due to illness, allergies or culture and every mother has differing views of nutrition which is right for their family.
If you choose to feed your children green, protein, kale smoothies every morning, whilst your friend’s kids eat only pop tarts, it’s not a sign of failure to be different.

Remember different is normal, not the other way round. No matter what society tells us.

Some days my children eat cake for breakfast (generally when I am Face-timing my best friend in Australia and they know I am a pushover!).
Other mornings we eat whole-wheat oatmeal with dates and thick greek yoghurt.
Both is ok.

How not to fail as a parent 3

“We are the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts”.

And remember mama’s, just as your children have their own personalities, so do you, as a person and a mum.
Don’t berate yourself for not being able to handle it all. Nobody can, despite what you think you see in others.

Mothers are masters at faking it
because we don’t want to appear as though we aren’t equipped for the job.
Nobody on this earth is 100% brilliant at everything and neither do you need to be as a mum.

Motherhood is an apprenticeship, with very poor pay, long hours and learning from your mistakes
. This is what makes a great mother!

So do I agree with the complexities of the quote? Yes I do. I really do.
I think mother’s of 2018 have very, very full plates.
But from those weighty plates we give, nurture, love, sacrifice, compromise, juggle (how we juggle!), cheer, devote, support and encourage.
Every single day.

We are quite simply the gate-keeper of our children’s hearts.

And you know what? We are enough.
The perfect balance of imperfect and the only person in the whole wide world that our children can call Mummy.

You only get approximately 18 summers with your offspring at home with you.
Enjoy your unique ride and take your hands off the steering wheels and free-ride some days and embrace different.

How not to fail as a parent 4

 

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Are Your Kid’s Weird?



Are Your Kid’s Weird?

Are your kid’s weird? 

Nobody has ever asked me that question to my face but that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought it. It’s certainly a phrase I have heard thrown around the internet and home-school groups.

We home-school four of our six children and have done so for a few years now. Not only do I hear these words but also, the inevitable, “Is your child socialised?” query.

Ok, so let’s talk about home-schooling, socialisation and weird kids.

For sure, socialisation is the ONE question that home-schoolers will be asked time and time again. And whilst I do inwardly sigh when I hear these imminent words, having been asked it at least 3457 times over the past few years, I do understand the genuine reasons behind the concern, from someone who chooses mainstream education.
Because to be honest, I was one of those people who asked that very question before I home-schooled my children.
Nothing to hide here.

Interestingly, in the UK, the number of children being homeschooled has risen by about 40% over three yearsAcross the UK 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17, which was up from about 34,000 in 2014-15. The main reasons cited were mental health issues and avoiding exclusion.
These figures are staggering and more than a little sad for the mainstream education system in England but a win for home-schooling groups.

But firstly, are home-schoolers weird?
Maybe, I don’t know.
There are weird kids and adults in the world right?
I guess it depends how you define weird. I think weird is quirky, individual, sassy, unique, stand-apart, butt-kicking, non-conforming awesomeness.
All of the former, or just one. Weird is cool.




Are my kids weird? They might be. Because I am their mother.
But as weird is cool, who really cares?

I remember when I was in high school in Australia, there was a ‘weird girl’, who wore only black, including black lipstick and blue-black hair – all matted and wild, with (gasp!) a tongue pierce, very edgy in those days.
I thought she was soooooooo weird and for years I solely judged her on her outward appearance – simply because she was different.
But the truth was, I was afraid of her, because she wasn’t like any of my friends or myself.
I didn’t realise at the time, that different was ok.
And she turned out to be a gorgeous-hearted, beautiful soul. A dear friend to me in the latter years of my schooling.
And I felt so ashamed for my judgemental heart towards her all those years prior, even before I had bothered to open my mouth and make any effort towards getting to know her.

However, the biggie, the glaringly obvious, huge elephant-in-the-room constant question for home-schoolers is, of course, “whether daily interaction with peers is necessary for a child’s positive social and emotional development”?

Some, many, would argue, yes. Absolutely, categorically a huge, big, fat, yes.
With the absence of a large group of peers, many believe it would be a challenge for their children to develop essential social skills. Some of these may include working together as a team, listening to other people’s opinions, learning to compromise, fostering compassion, problem-solving when faced with a difficult situation such as a fall-out of a friendship group, disagreeing respectfully and understanding appropriate ways to communicate with others – to name a few.

And all of this does happen in a school environment.
It has to really because when you place 20-30 children together in the one class, this different mix of personalities, emotions and characters will teach your children these skills, whether it is a positive or negative environment.
They will learn in a group-based situation. Which is totally ok.

Let’s face it, a large percentage of society choose to educate their children in main-stream schools and many, many children leave school very well-adjusted and educated individuals.
But also, many don’t.

Whilst for us, teaching at home, we obviously don’t have that constant mass environment for the children to learn these skills, they do however, learn in other unique ways.
And different isn’t wrong, as I have said above, it’s just different.

Take my 17 year old son for example, who is in Sixth Form. He makes decisions every day in a social setting, some which he would rather not face.
No, he doesn’t want to walk near the oval where some of his peers are smoking weed. And thanks for the offer to attend a rave and sneak in a six pack of beer but that’s just not his scene.
However, yes, he would love to go to the movies and a pizza with his crew of homies.
So many choices, every single day.


We find our rhythm in other ways, which may slide against the social-grain. But guess what? We still have happy, healthy and well-adjusted, social children.
At home the kids won’t have to make a call as to whether they will join their peers on the oval for a few drags of hash, but they face other situations that many schooled children won’t.

Such as they are on first-name basis with at least five homeless people in Norwich. They have worked alongside them in the community.
They have witnessed first-hand how dangerous drink and drugs can be, how damaging to the body and soul. They know how to keep safe and personal boundaries. To not reveal where they live, play, work. And they sure know how to show love, compassion and acceptance.
They sit with the guy who lives under the same bridge in the city and has a heart of gold but nowhere else to call home.

They have learnt to share what they have, with each other. We are a large family and sharing is as necessary as breathing and they do so without missing a beat.
Daily, our lifestyle is a learning curve of developing hearts. Maybe it is ingrained within them because they have not known any different, but they haven’t learnt this in a classroom.
They live it each day and don’t view it as a sacrifice, rather a lifestyle.


These sorts of things can be learnt in other ways, outside of school and peers. Sometimes it is stepping into the grimy, hidden places in society and being church to the un-churched.
It can be uncomfortable but it sure teaches the children how to relate, communicate and be kind, which they own – in spades.



The children have friends their ages whom they catch up with in the school holidays, meet at the movies or for a meal. They chat over Skype or Facetime and some of them still keep in touch with pals from early school days in Australia. They share their hearts with friends of all ages, all places and all over the world.
And whilst the internet can be a scary forum, it’s also a brilliant way to connect and we do so, often, forging new connections and embracing friendships of old.

We love because we are loved and that’s all that matters in this crazy hectic world of normal, which isn’t at all normal really, but what you can mould and shape into normal.
And remember, my normal isn’t yours.
Embrace your path of normal, with great confidence.

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Why Women Are So Complex.

looking after yourself

If a woman says “Do what you want!” 
Do not do what you want.
Stand still.
Do not blink.
Don’t even breathe.
Just play dead.

Looking after yourself

Never a truer word spoken really. Especially when said woman has raging and unstable hormones, feels fat, ugly and wants to eat a truck-load of chocolate in a dark room, whilst partaking in impulse internet buying.

I really don’t quite understand how this happens but sometimes, when I am in a certain womanly phase of the month, I will wake in the night, prepare myself a plate of scrambled eggs with fresh parsley, brush my teeth and trawl Amazon for hessian pineapple bunting, soft, squishy anti-stress peaches and fluffy white pillows.
From China.

Somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks later, I receive random boxes in the mail. Of which I have zero recollection of being actively involved in purchasing.
I mean, Amazon and Ebay finds can be so damn cheap!
This 
stuff, that someone buys at 3.24am about 48hours prior to ahem – that time of the month.

“Women are beautifully and uniquely created, not to serve men or our children or be a slave to our jobs or homes, but to make our mark on this world and shake it gently.”

Which lends itself to the point that women are deeply awe-inspiring creatures.
We can shop in our sleep, prepare food, uphold excellent hygiene practices, and support the Chinese internet market, very finely thank you.
Not-to-mention maintain our homes with the latest of decorative trends. Purely and utterly incredible.

Which is just as well really, because on some days we are golden goddesses, oozing sexuality, poise and glamor. And others pyjama-clad, scratchy, irritable, balls of confusion, with a slight whiff of halitosis breath.

Women are beautifully and uniquely created, not to serve men or our children or be a slave to our jobs or homes, but to make our mark on this world and shake it gently, as Gandhi so eloquently quoted.
Even though our minds can be like an internet browser, with at least 19 open at one time, 10 shopping carts full of wish-lists, three frozen and a distant rendition of ‘The Sound of Music’ coming from some random corner of our minds, we can keep those balls in the air for a very very long time.
All at once.

“Don’t be afraid when storms come your way.
Learn to sail your ship over the waves”.

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In the spirit of celebrating the awesomeness and complexity of women, I have created a quick, go-to, glance-at, pin-on-your-wall, manifesto/self-care reminder to nurture our hearts:

Why women are so complex 1

 

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When Nature is Good for the Soul.

When Nature is Good for the Soul.

good for the soul 1

“And into the forrest I go to lose my mind
and find my soul”
-Anon-

On Sunday, I went for a country run, with my 8 year old daughter accompanying me on her bike. A quiet presence.
I love to have her with me as she is such a wonderful and silent companion. There is immense beauty in having someone you love close by – right beside you, without words.
I find it extremely comforting and assuring.
To be at rest with a dearly loved one, feels like a gift.
After my run we decided to cool down in the woods.
Our favourite walk, which loops right back to our barn and meanders through thick and lush woodlands, is called The Bluebell Trail. It is utterly stunning in the spring/summer seasons, with the most gorgeous meadows full of wildflowers, spilling over rocks and winding their way around tree trunks.
Green and verdant tree canopies arch their bulk and frame over rocky paths, creating an almost magical and still environment.

“And it’s in these moments of quiet and slow that I find my own pace again. I am reminded that busy doesn’t mean better.
I am assured that my steps need to be a little slower and less urgent”. 

Baby birds chirp loudly from their high nests, their parents busy at work, flitting to and fro their tree-top homes, with fat grubs and long worms hanging from their beaks.
Petite deer, with sweet little white dots on their backs, quietly and sure-footed peek from behind bushy shrubs. Ever so gentle and timid.

The ground is cool and soft underfoot. And the smell! A mixture of wild garlic shoots, cow parsley, delicate bluebells and sweet primroses.
This space feels like heaven to me. I catch my breath here and the buzzing world all around me is placed temporarily on mute.

good for the soul 3

“Just 15-20 minutes two or three times a week, can reap enormous benefits”. 

And it’s in these moments of quiet and slow that I find my own pace again. I am reminded that busy doesn’t mean better.
I am assured that my steps need to be a little slower and less urgent. I remember that I cannot control everything and everyone.
And I become more aware of how small a cog I really am, amongst a much bigger and faster wheel.
It is my responsibility to slow my life, as well as my soul down. Because nobody else will do that for me.
They are too busy focussing on keeping all of their own balls up in the air.

“It feels as though nature is giving me a gift.
Completely free, no-strings attached.
A buffer to the outside world and momentary pause in my frequently tired brain.”

good for the soul 4
In that instant – I feel calm wash over me like a soothing, aqua-blue wave, in perfect sync with it’s environment before it crashes onto the sand floor, sending up frothy white spray.
It feels as though nature is giving me a gift. Completely free, no-strings attached. A buffer to the outside world and a momentary pause in my frequently tired brain.

Did you know that a simple walk in nature can benefit your health in a huge way?
You don’t have to organise a gruelling hike or be outside for hours.
Just 15-20 minutes two or three times a week, can reap enormous benefits.
Here are a few health benefits to keep in mind next time you are feeling a bit blah. Hopefully it will encourage you to put your trainers on and hit the road for a boost of nature-goodness:

1. My absolute favourite! It boosts creativity.

By simply stepping outside, walking the dog or to the school gate to collect the children, you can improve your cognitive function and creative thinking skills. Plus the fresh air, I am sure, has a little bit of magic in it, as it makes me instantly breathe deeper, slower and calmer.

2. You can improve your overall health.

Being immersed in nature is crazy good for the immune system, helping to prevent sickness and other illnesses. Our bodies turn from “fight or flight” mode, which we often feel whilst cooped up inside doing chores or working. Being outside allows our system’s to relax.

Taking time in nature is tremendously important during cold & flu season, even though it often feels like a bit of a chore when it is cold outside! However it is SO worth it.
Has anybody ever come inside from a brisk winter walk and not had rosy cheeks, sparkling eyes and a huge smile on their face?


3. Lower cortisol levels.

When you are physically outside, walking on the earth, you can’t but help feel a connection to nature. Experts have named this ‘Grounding’ as it provides relieved tension with muscle soreness or headaches, which can promote a sense of calmness and yes as some studies show – even lessen cortisol levels (which cause stress).

4. Reduced inflammation.

Nature can even help your body to fight inflammation. Our bodies naturally become inflamed following certain aspects of life such as stress, poor diet, not enough sleep, etc. And extreme inflammation can lead to autoimmune disorders or even depression.
Being surrounded by nature instantly quietens the mind, allowing your body’s inflammation to organically settle a bit. Basically, there is no easier and cheaper way to increase your health than by opening your front door.

5. Enhanced sense of wellbeing.

In other words, a better mood!

When I was a child and being a bit grumpy or fighting with my older brother, my parents would often say “go outside and chase the monkeys from your back”.
I never understood why they thought I had monkeys on my back, but in effect they meant, go and run off your irritability and come back a bit happier!
And guess what? It actually worked. Often they would find my brother and I immersed in a pretend game of something outside and all of the previous grievances forgotten.
It’s truly hard to be grumpy when you’re surrounded by flowers, trickling water, or green trees.

Studies have shown that people living closer to or more in touch with nature have lower anxiety levels in general, which makes sense. Less traffic, more trees. Less waiting, more living.
And don’t despair if you live in a big city, as regular mini breaks amongst nature is still extremely beneficial. It just takes a little more organising ahead.

As Mary Davis is quoted as saying –

“A walk in nature, walks the soul back home”

And for me, that feeling of being walked back home towards a peaceful place, is therapy wrapped in green with a side of fresh air.

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Go Easy On Yourself and Breathe, My Friend.

Go Easy On Yourself and Breathe, My Friend

“Breathe, my friend.
You are not old, you are young.
You are not a mess, you are normal.
Extraordinary, perhaps.
In the blink of an eye your life will change.
And it will continue to change for decades to come.
Enjoy it. Embrace it…Be grateful for the ride.
You are not old, you are young.
And faith will get you everywhere.
Just you wait”.

Hmmmmm these words. So very soothing. 

Like a gentle balm on sunburnt shoulders after a long day in the sun.
That first cup of coffee in the morning when you are woolly-headed and can’t quite wrap your brain around what lies ahead for the day.
Jumping into a cool shower and wetting your hair, immersing yourself in the rush of the water, blocking out the world – just for a moment.

This is how I feel when I read this lovely quote. As though I have been given permission to breathe in the busyness and frantic spaces that is our world.
I am as young as I feel, not middle-aged, as my son politely informed me the other day.
There will be some days that I barely feel as though I have left my teenage years and yet others – I will feel every bit the 44 years I have lived on this earth.
My bones will ache and my movements labour.
And that is ok.

I am not a mess. I am a beautiful creation. One worthy of kindness and love and mercy.
Some days I will feel like I have smashed the day like a boss and excelled every single time, with every single thing. Other times I will fail.
My house will be a mess, my clothes crumpled and I will feel incapable of caring for myself, let alone others.
And that is ok.

There will be times that I feel utterly, extraordinary and precious. I will see my gifting’s and thank the Father for making me a perfect creation in His eyes.
I will create and nurture and show gentleness, compassion and tenderness.
Yet again, I can be scratchy and overtly sensitive and critical. I can be so quick to condemn. Yelling at a slow driver, clicking my tongue when someone is being difficult, quick to judge and even quicker to be unkind.
And I swear a lot in my head. Some days.
And that is ok.


I know that in the blink of an eye – mere seconds even – my life can change direction.
I may move house, move countries, lose friends, make mistakes, regret my actions. Deeply.
My husband may lose his job. I may lose mine.
My beloved family may suffer. Cancer may become our norm. Life will spin on its axis and I will feel like a stranger in my skin.
I will find a new normal again.
And that is ok.

There will be moments of pure joy. When my heart feels so full of happiness that I could burst.
I will look at my life and genuinely feel frightened at the perfectness of it. Afraid it will shatter into a thousand pieces.
I will want to hold on to happiness like a small child holds onto their parent’s hand. But as much as I tighten my grip, that feeling will disappear and I will feel sad at its departure.
But then I will embrace happy and smile at those golden moments.
I will be thankful for the wild ride that is life. And when the cloudy days threaten to spill over and stay awhile, I will know that this too will pass.
And it does. Just as I always knew it would.
And that is ok

I am as young as I choose.
And faith will always be my friend. My constant, my solid ground and measuring stick. I will return again and again and again to the truthful words of the Father.
And I will know that I am loved. Despite everything.
And that makes everything ok.

And I will wait. Because most of life feels like a wait sometimes.
Waiting for something to happen, waiting for something to change, waiting to be loved, waiting for the sunshine, for my children to be grown-ups, independent, happy and settled with a life of their own.
Waiting for my life to be a little easier.
And that, also, is ok.

Because, I am a work in progress. And guess what?
So are you.

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What Happened to Simple Birthday Parties?

What Happened to Simple Birthday Parties?


“The kids were dropped at the door, because it was a child’s party,
not an expectation for the parents to stay, lurking and scowling in the corner,
whilst inwardly seething about their weekend being lost on another kids party”.

 

When I was a kid I have fond memories of my 5th birthday.
I remember the anticipation of waiting for my pals to ring the door bell. I also recall using my new cardigan as a skipping rope (as you do when you are a fresh and cool 5 year old).
The inevitable happened and I tripped, my face landing heavily onto the corner of our wooden kitchen stools, delivering an impressive gash right across my eyebrow, with copious amounts of blood.
I also recall quite vividly, screaming at the top of my lungs at the sight of the gushing scarlet blood.  A quick trip to our local country hospital and 8 stitches later, I was slightly more subdued but still in fine spirits and ready for the partying to begin.

Said party was in fact a simple affair, consisting of the time-honoured, pass the parcel, a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, musical chairs and lots of running around the garden playing tag.

Party food was always fairy bread (an Aussie favourite, of soft white bread, spread with butter and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, crusts off and cut into little triangles). If you haven’t tasted fairy bread, I’m calling it, you haven’t lived.
Every Aussie parent appreciates the child-like joy of sneaking a few fairy bread pieces when nobody is looking, savouring the crunchy sweetness of the sprinkles amongst the soft carbs of the bread.
Its not just for the adults I can tell you.

There was also always home-made sausage rolls with good old tomato sauce as a side, a bowl or two of Cheezels or Twisties (another Aussie favourite – basically crunchy cheesy moorish bites of loveliness), a plate of ham sandwiches and a platter of cupcakes, decorated with a messy swirl of buttercream icing and a glace’ cherry on the top (you know to be fancy…)
Oh, and my mum always had a small bowl of Smarties on the table, just to make sure there was a high enough percentage of sugar running through our veins.
Everything was served on cheap, bendy paper plates and the only other decoration that could be seen, was a few token balloons floating under the kitchen table.


The ultimate finale of the day was the retro Aussie ice-cream cake 
(only retro now – not in my day!)
As my birthday is the end of December and one of the hottest months of the Australian year, the cake was always saved until the end and whipped out for a quick happy birthday chorus and blow of the candles.  I still have fond memories of my birthday ice-cream cake.
Neapolitan flavour with lots of lovely, swirly, pastel pinks and chocolate browns amongst the obligatory vanilla.  With little piped violet-coloured flowers all around the edge, made out of cream and you guessed it, sprinkles in the middle.
It was simply heaven to a 5 year old.

Birthday parties nowadays look somewhat different.
And even though I have to smile when I read about the ‘vintage games’ being played, I can’t help but feel the heart of a child’s party has been lost somewhat.
When I was little, the kids were dropped at the door, because it was a child’s party, not an expectation for the parents to stay, lurking and scowling in the corner, whilst inwardly seething about their weekend being lost on another kids party.
Those parents couldn’t leg it fast enough. A kid’s party meant freedom for a few hours for parents. It was a win-win situation.
Everybody knew where they stood. I drop my kid off at yours and you do the same to me! Cheers and see-ya later.


Now entire hall’s are rented out for parties. Not to mention the entertainment, with the likes of a DJ, or placed in the hands of a slick party planner.
Professionally organised parties have become quite the niche for clever entrepreneurs, willing to lighten busy and overwhelmed parent’s wallets, in the name of a stress-free party.
If you have multiple kids, it’s music to their ears. If you do it for one, you need to follow the same course for the rest of your little loves.

We have been to many of these over the years and it makes me a little sad that the innocence of a child’s birthday, seems to be lost amongst the grand affair that often parents feel pressured to be a part of.
I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into another weekend party and found the poor mother looking exhausted and anxious, despite the professional’s running the show. Maybe it’s the fact that she is ultimately responsible and at the beck-and-call of 30 plus children, their offsprings and parents.

On a day that is so sacred and precious.

“This day, this birth day of your child, is the most precious date of the year.
Because it is the day that you met your baby.
It is the day that you laboured and held your forever love for the first time.
And whilst it is a celebration, it doesn’t have to be the grand affair that society seems to dictate we follow today”.


Our fourth child, Milly, recently turned 12.
Her request was for me to bake her chocolate chip muffins for breakfast and have a wander through Norwich in the sunshine and stop for an ice-cream gelato.
In our effort to live a slow and more simple and happy life, I couldn’t be more delighted at Milly’s request.
We have the privilege of celebrating her day together as a family without the pressure of time and commitment to other people.

I didn’t have to rent a village hall or take all day to set-up a venue outside the home. I didn’t have to worry about the cost of feeding lots of children and their parents. I was able to be with the child that made me a mummy for the fourth time.

Don’t misunderstand my heart though, I am not against parties! I just wish that these parties could be a simple affair, a gathering of precious and important people, rather than the huge event that I see time and time again.

We will, however, always and in large amounts, bring out the fairy bread because no birthday can be without it.
Australian or not, once you try it – you will be smitten for life.

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When Five Is The New Three.

When Five Is The New Three

Five is the new three 2

“Sadly for her, little Callum decided to push the boat out
and go head-to-head with
a public showdown”.

My husband and I recently placed our lives into the hands of barely out-of-nappies pilots and crew, when we flew from London to the South-West of France on a let’s say, a very budget airline.
We were seated over the wing and I somehow managed to cram my long, 6ft frame into their tiny, lego-sized seats. Just.

What I didn’t quite manage, was to successfully peel my eyes away from the seemingly flimsy wing-flaps, from my window seat vantage.
I mean those wings, to my untrained engineering eyes, seemed very thin and bendy. Surely they weren’t equipped to actually propel us above the clouds and manage to stay there?
I nervously asked my husband how often did he think the engineers checked the plane?
His answer, which didn’t help my anxious state in the slightest was “well as often as is needed – but of course there are things that just happen without them knowing. You know like when we are up in the air”.

Seriously? That was my point exactly.
How was this tiny, yellow tin-can actually going to make it all the way across the pond to France (and back hopefully)?

Fortunately, alcoholic beverages were available, at a wallet crushing £7 for a thimble sized sip. But nonetheless, it passed the time and eased the vice-like grip on my chest.
A  little.

I am not a nervous flyer, at all. Having worked for two major international airline companies for nearly ten years, my husband, kids and I have racked up many, many air miles over the years. But this no-frills aircraft – they are in a class of their own, on the scale of “are-we-going-to-die-today”?

One of the great blessings of being crammed into a tiny area, with reconstructed air-flow, the stale smell of urine and the noxious farts from the old men in the back of the plane, snoring with their mouths wide open, is the different styles of parenting that one can observe. Parenting being one of my most favourite subjects, this was in a fashion, a silver-lining.
And as I had nothing else to do besides try and find clean air pockets around the various foul intestinal smells, I learnt something new in the parenting world.

Five is the new three 1

Did you know that the popular and well-used parental strategy for discipline, of counting-to-three-until-your-children-make-the-wise-decision-that-you- are-actually-the-boss-and-anything-over-three-means-you-will-lose-your-shit, – is indeed out-dated?
It’s not three anymore. Get this.
Five is the new three.
Who knew?
I surely didn’t and not one, but two families on that dreaded flight, counted to five. I felt out-of-the-loop. Did I miss the memo? Why had nobody told me?

I mean, when snotty nosed Callum, (sorry if you have a Callum. I am sure he doesn’t have a snotty nose. This one did, unfortunately) kept standing on his seat and using it as a trampoline, his mum told him she would count to five, thus giving him much needed seconds to assess the naughty to nice scale.
At first I thought, “oh she means three, everyone says three”.
But no, she counted to five!
Sadly for her, little Callum decided to push the boat out and go head-to-head with a public showdown. Wiping his snot on his already green sleeve and occasionally on the back of the chair. Five didn’t cut the mustard with Callum. Possibly, mum should have stuck to three….

But then – and maybe these two families were related, now I come to think of it, as across the aisle, Maisy decided to have a lash at 101 ways to wind your parent up in a tin-can. She did remarkably well for a tiny human. Kudos for her manipulative negotiation skills, I was well impressed.
Maisy wanted Nutella dippers and Coke and any sane parent will know that this sugar-sugar combo on a good day, at a park with a tonne of space to go wild, is a gamble.
In a plane, it’s deadly.

But it’s not an easy call.
Either give the kid the sugar and be thankful for those few quiet, stolen moments of peace, before her little body goes into overdrive.
Or say no.
Mum, wisely (but in the short-term unwisely for us – the rest of the passengers) said no.

Maisy predictably sobbed her little heart out and mum started the count – to five.

Let’s be honest, five was never going to work for Maisy, or her mum, or us.
That mother could have counted to five hundred and Maisy would still be screaming. So she did the next best thing. She bought her the Nutella and Coke and for the rest of the flight we watched her whizz up and down the little plane, her insulin-fuelled legs working overtime, ducking and diving under and around the flight attendants, with frightening speed and accuracy.

However, in all honesty, I think it was Maisy’s constant distribution of weight in the middle of the plane, that balanced us perfectly and enabled us to land with our lives still intact.
And for that reason alone, I am so very grateful for the new three to five rule. Even if it didn’t work.

Five is the new three

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Depression and Why We Love Our Blurt Boxes.

Blurt Boxes 5

Depression and
Why We Love Our Blurt Boxes.


“An empty lantern provides no light, self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly”

-Unknown-

It’s not easy to talk about depression or mental illness. Even with all of the awareness through social media and prominent public figures, openly talking about mental health, it’s still that one subject we feel uncomfortable discussing, let alone admit we are struggling with.

It’s so very much easier to speak of our physical health than what is going on unseen within our minds. A broken bone will eventually heal, a virus may take a while to recover from, even cancer, quite possibly the most dreaded disease in the world, has brilliant survival rates, is much easier to discuss than mental illness.

The World Health Organisation estimates there are more than 300 million people in the world living with depression right now. In the UK, 1 in 5 people experience anxiety and depression – with an 18% increase between 2005 and 2015.
And sadly, we’re seeing a frightening increase in rates of mental ill health in young people.

So what is it about mental health that we find so very difficult to address?
Is it because we can’t actually see with our own eyes the cause of such distress?
Is it because we simply don’t know enough about it and it makes us fearful to talk about?
Why is it so much easier to say you have the flu and need a day off, rather than you have spent the entire night awake, highly anxious, unable to sit or stand or verbalise how deeply unwell you really are?

Whilst, I am still muddling through these answers on a personal note myself, I do draw great comfort from a new Social Enterprise, called
The Blurt Foundation.
Blurt exists to make a difference to those affected by depression. Their aim is to help people understand depression and what it means for the individual. They offer support, a listening ear and advice from others who have suffered from mental illness in the past.
Their aim is to break down barriers and help people to broach this difficult subject with their close family and friends, as well as support the sufferer in the valley of depression.

Blurt Boxes 2
Tuning into The Blurt Foundation’s website is a bit like snuggling under a warm and soft duvet on a cold and miserable winter’s day. Gentle words of encouragement, easy to read information, assurance in the form of positive and affirming words, shine through each page.
Additionally, key and relatable content is sent out once a week to Blurt’s email subscribers, which are praised by their audience for making dark days feel just that little bit brighter.
Progressing towards an even deeper understanding of depression, Blurt works closely with medical practitioners, employers, schools and companies to share the message of what depression means and how those who are affected by it can be supported.
And the best part, is that their profits are ploughed back into the community they have chosen to serve: those affected by depression.

Click on Blurt’s ‘Get Support’ page and you will find charities and services who specialise in the various types of mental illness. I am particularly impressed by these links and the level of help that is available for the individual.

In short, this small but punchy and caring community, are spear-heading a pioneering movement into the understanding of depression and mental illness, like no other team in the UK.

On a personal note, our daughter, was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder late last year and through the Blurt Foundation, has begun to understand the importance of self-care and the need to educate herself on this often confusing and frightening illness.

Each month Blurt send out their BuddyBoxes, which are literally bundles of joy, comfort and happiness in a box. These boxes always seem to arrive at the perfect time each month, a little gift to oneself, with a different theme and accompanying complementary products.

Blurt Boxes 3
The latest May box, entitled ‘self-care isn’t sel-fish‘ focussed on the healing and affirming practice of building into oneself. Consisting of lovingly selected and thoughtful mini treats, all in a sweet fish-themed bundle.
Gorgeously scented ‘Gone Crabbing Essence D’Estuary Soap‘; sweet and soft ‘DOIY Fish Socks‘; divinely tasting ‘Kernow Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Spoon‘ hot chocolate treat and beautiful ‘Janelle Silver A6 Temporary Tattoos‘ (that actually work on your skin and don’t fade after one wash) serve as a reminder of self-care along with encouraging postcard prints & affirming quotes.Always packaged with great care and attention to detail, these boxes are very much anticipated each month by our daughter and indeed our whole family.

BuddyBoxes can be a lovely monthly treat for oneself or a special gift for a loved one who may be having a hard time. With various buying options to select, these boxes start at an incredibly affordable £12.00.
Blurt’s online shop has lots of other lovely treats including prints, colouring books, cards and mindfulness crafts. It is a nourishing act in itself, for the heart to wander through the pages of this lovely website. One with such passion for the individual, as well as the community.

You can check out all that The Blurt Foundation has to offer here.
Please note: I do not receive any compensation from this article and all opinions and thoughts are my own.

Blurt Boxes 4

 

 

 

 

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When Friendship Is Hard Work.

friendship hard work history

When Friendship Is Hard Work.


Why everyone needs a history friend….

My mama has dear friends whom she is in regular contact with, from her pre-school days. That’s over 60 years of friendships. She and her pals have all shared the lives of their children, marriage, divorce, death, mid-life crises and everything in between.  And their connection is as strong as it’s ever been.
They don’t rely on social media to connect, they will pick up the phone and have an actual conversation, or hop on a train, bus or plane to see each other in person. I truly believe it is this face-to-face interaction that has enabled these friendships to grow, change with the seasons and still flourish.

In this day of transient lives and on-line socialising (of which I partake in as well), sometimes it’s easier to write a text message or shoot off a comment on Facebook, than actually looking at someone’s face and conversing.  I think we all want to show our best sides and this has never been more appealing than in the era of Instagram grid highlights and tweets of happy moments. Even if those moments are only a few minutes long in a day.

But here is the thing about history – it means something. It’s so very special when you have it, like a rare gem.
New pals are wonderful and exciting and they can expose you to a whole new world of knowledge and wonder.
Old friends hold treasures in jars of clay that have weight and depth, that you cannot measure all in one sitting.

Sharing stories of “do you remember when?” or reminiscing about events and people. Catching up on the present, dreaming of the future, it’s like gold.
Hold onto that gold and don’t just chase the most current and shiniest new kid on the block.

History friend 1
Because your history friend knows you in a way that your new pal doesn’t.

Your history friend will call you out when you are behaving badly and set your feet upon sturdy ground. They know when you are lying or being cagey – because they know you. They are well-acquainted with your heart.

And whilst your new friend will revel in the shape of your hands, your old friend will know the exact imprint by heart. The curve of your palm and the rough edges that are still being refined.

Your new pal and you will be in the first lovely flush of connection and no doubt stroke your ego and hang off every word you speak. They will agree with everything you say and nod at all the right places.
Your history friend will not. And sometimes that can seem like hard work. As though the connection is stale and not worth the effort – the nitty gritty of friendship. You may tire of their ways, as they will yours, and the grass seems so much more appealing and greener with the newer model.

My advice? Do not run to the one who tells you what you want to hear.
Stick with your history friend who builds into your heart, as well as your soul. Allow them space to breathe and permit them much grace to trip and fall. But be the hand that is always available to welcome them back, into the fold of your heart and continued friendship.

I read an article recently by The Pool, written by Viv Groskop.  She explains that since they launched the ‘Dear Viv’ podcast (aka old-fashioned agony aunt), at The Pool just three years ago, they have literally received hundreds of emails and letters each week.  And the one subject that comes up all the time, the topic that is constantly a subject to be addressed, is friendships.
Often the most asked questions are “what is wrong with me?” and “why has this suddenly gone wrong?”

History Friend 2
And whilst I don’t have any easy answers for those friendship questions myself, I do believe that many friendships formed quickly and intensely, aren’t always the ones that last the distance.
We have all had those friends who want to spend every minute of every day with us. And those who will message us numerous times in a 24 hour period to check-in. Sometimes these connections can be stifling, albeit lovely at first, they can stale very quickly. And when that friendship breaks down, over a misunderstanding or a cross word, that can leave a stain on one’s heart. A hurt soul.
Oftentimes it is then that we realise those history friends are the ones that we can rely on and always return to.

I have a dear best friend who lives in Australia. We often say to each other that we are so fortunate to have met and formed such a strong bond. We have adapted to the changes in our lives, parented small children, supported each other through numerous heartbreaking life events, built a business together, laughed until our sides ached, and survived a long-distance connection across the world. We have argued and disagreed and cried and forgiven. Again and again.
We are each other’s greatest cheerleaders, fiercest advocates and true sisters in Christ. I will forever be grateful for her input into my life and her commitment to our friendship, as I am to her. I miss her every single day and long to be able to pop over for a cup of tea in my jammies and devour a block of chocolate together. And I love her with all my heart.

That said however, this friendship is one built on doing the tough yards. Of having those uncomfortable conversations, sitting in moments of silence when we are both unsure and confused about the other’s feelings or emotions. It’s still work on both sides of the ocean for us and remains a deep commitment. However, the rewards, my word, the rewards, are rich, as we both give each other portion after portion of grace and love amidst our own brokenness.
Best friends come with the privileged title of walking, not just in the sunshine, but also the valley.

These connections, these deeply moving friendships, are the keepers. And in this day of transient people and transient friends – your keeper friends are all the more precious for sticking by you.

Because you aren’t so lovely all the time either.

History Friend 3

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