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  • Author: Sara Benveniste

What positive, meaningful lessons have you learned in 2020?

Woah, this year has been a hell of a year right? Over the past 9 months since the pandemic started, such tremendous challenges have been brought upon us, to the world, turning our lives upside down, and ultimately impacting our mental health and well-being too in the process.

Sometimes, all we could do was look after ourselves and our families of course, young and old, in the best way we could and knew how. There was nothing else we could do – some things were completely out of our control and the best thing we could do was focus on all that was within our control to help us navigate our daily lives and live the best life we could.

Time to reflect now this year has come to an end…

Think about it, despite all the struggles, pain or hardships you’ve had to endure, how have YOU managed to shine the star within you this year? What was within your control? Did you surprise yourself in any way about ways you learned to cope, or discover anything new about yourself? I’d love to hear your stories…

For me personally, the past year has been such a rollercoaster ride in every possible way, so especially now, as it is New Year’s Eve, I thought I would take stock of this year, and focus on all the things I am grateful for and share the positive lessons I have learned as these will be the key things which will be travelling with me into the New Year!

  • I have learned to appreciate all the little things in life, my family, all that we have in the moment and are blessed to be.
  • Even though we haven’t been allowed to see much of friends and family, I’ve learned that connections never die or weaken. If anything, connections between friends, family, neighbours, different communities have gotten stronger and more united because of what we have been through. For this, I am so grateful. We are all in this mess together and we will come out the other side together too!!!
  • I have learned to connect more deeply with myself, to love myself more and to find my own joy and peace within.
  • I learned to get my anxiety, chronic fatigue and pain under better control through developing a great meditation routine every day. I am grateful for all the wonderful people I have met this year who have sparked my interest in meditation and who continue to inspire me, including Gabrielle Bernstein, Jay Shetty and Bob Baker.
  • I completed a mindfulness course with Mindfulness UK which really helped me to enhance my meditation routine, deepen my meditation practice, implement more mindful practices into my life, and encouraged me to breathe more and improve my focus on everyday tasks. Meditation has really helped me to get through lockdown and all the home schooling I had to endure!
  • I enrolled on a professional copyrighting course (which I am over halfway through) with the College of Media & Publishing to consolidate my passion and interest in writing.
  • I finally counted my blogs – I have now completed 53 blogs since I first started blogging two years ago!!!
  • I have almost finished editing my book and am determined to get it published in 2021 – watch out for this!

And finally, more importantly….

  • I have continued to develop my self-confidence and passion in music over the past year. Music has really helped fill me with love, joy and inspiration and more connection more than I’ve ever known in really difficult times!
  • I learned that I have been so blessed with the gift of playing a musical instrument (even with moderate hearing loss) which has given me the opportunity to feel inspired everyday, feel fuller in energy, and to share this joy with others in the communities that surround me.
  • Through enrolling on an inspiring, enlightening flute healing and improvisation course run by Christine Stevens at the Shift Network, I have built a beautiful new connection with my silver flute, invested in a Native American flute, have learned to improvise music, and developed a new daily habit of practicing.
  • I am really grateful for the new connections I have made this year who share my interest and passion in singing and playing music who continue to inspire me and propel me forward.

This flute course has been the cherry on the cake for me to finish the year, and together with the struggles of the pandemic in 2020, I have realised that music is my soul food, I crave this stuff everyday, whether it is playing my flute, listening to music or singing along karaoke-style. I just love it, this is where my heart lies, the core and essence of who I am. It’s how I express myself as authentically me.

Keep walking through the storm, the rainbow is waiting for you on the other side.

Here’s to a magical and transformational 2021 to us all 🙏❤️

Immerse yourself in music

For many of us, our lives have become so hectic that we forget about the little things that bring us joy.

A few weeks ago, I enrolled on a couple of flute improvisation courses with The Shift Network hosted by Christine Stevens, a renowned music therapist based in the US, called “The Flute as Sound Medicine” and “Deepen your Flute Journey”.

As soon as I saw this flute course advertised, I knew I wanted to do it more than anything. It grabbed my attention as I knew I wanted to develop my flute practice further and especially with the lack of social interaction, I needed a positive distraction to refuel my energy and keep me feeling more positive during this difficult period in our lives.

Lockdown is definitely not the same in the winter as it is in the warmer spring and summer months – I know I don’t venture outdoors as much I would normally do and take in enough sunlight. I often prefer to stay in the warm in the winter.

Music is my source of sunshine. I like to plug into this positive feeling every morning as often as I can. Since starting my flute course, I have developed a daily practice, even if just to play a couple of songs or improvise with the sounds of nature, drum beats or wind chimes. That’s all it takes sometimes to give me a mental boost and make me feel more productive and creative.

Starting your day on the right track can really help your day go more smoothly. I find short bursts of activities to refuel my energy work well, whether it’s playing or listening to music, exercise, meditation, reading a book or watching an inspiring talk, or anything you love to “get your teeth into” or know makes you feel good afterwards.

I am a traditional musician. I have always learnt music by just playing a tune from “old school” paper sheet music that has been created essentially by someone else. I didn’t learn any other way, so I haven’t really had much experience with improvisation.

So I dived into the unknown… What could I lose? I had no idea what I was in for and how this will all turn out but all I knew at the time of booking myself on the course was that I loved playing this beautiful instrument and wanted to explore.

As long as you don’t overthink it or overwhelm yourself worrying about what other people think, improvisation can be a really fun, relaxing experience – even though you may have no idea what you are going to play, and whether it actually makes any sense or sounds right. In reality, it has become quite an adventure as I learn new techniques, increase my confidence in playing on the spot using my own intuition without any sheet music in front of me and becoming inspired more and more each day by new instruments I can play along to to help increase my creativity, create a better rhythm and bring out the best of me – altogether an enlightening experience.

What’s your bugbear?

The pandemic has raised so many different mental health issues for people all over the world, but one in particular has stood out for me is the issue of communication.

For me, as a deaf person, it is hard enough as it is to engage in communication with people anyway, with all the issues that come along with talking to people especially where there is lots of background noise, indoors or outdoors, and especially where there are large groups of people in places like the school playground or shopping centres for example. And even when there isn’t that much noise, I find myself nowadays putting my ear as close as I can get to the person and look the other way so I can hear them better, which isn’t really a great way to communicate…..!

The new “normal” which is ever evolving and uncertain has become a “normal” part of our lives and hard to ignore which is why I feel the need to speak about it and highlight the importance of good communication and the innate human need and desire for all of us to connect with each other as best as we can in these difficult times….

I do actually have an exemption and don’t have to strictly wear a mask but I do tend to wear it anyway – I really don’t want to draw attention to the fact that I’m not wearing a mask and I also want to be doing my bit and help to prevent the spread of the virus.

Since most people cover their faces these days, I can’t really make the eye contact that I used to be able to make so easily and take in the energy of the conversation as I was used to, using facial expression and lip reading to guide me through the realms of communication.

It’s just how it is, but I do find it hard to accept the way things are and so I have been looking to make things better in any way I can, even if I can somehow help to promote this basic human need for good communication, whoever you are, and whatever learning disability or imperfection you may have that might be impairing your communication in some way, young or old… and help raise much needed awareness for those people who have to communicate with anyone with any level of deafness or a learning disability, to wear a transparent mask so that people can engage with you “properly” as best as they can.

The JDA (Jewish Deaf Association) have been a great support to me and my daughter with our deafness supporting us at home and school, and are now producing a variety of masks which help people access communication in a way they aren’t able to when our faces are covered. It helps reduce the difficulty and the struggle which counts for a lot these days…

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have this worry, but the reality is that we do have to somehow adapt to this new “normal”, and ideally everyone would wear these masks but more so those who are customer or people facing, so that we can all be more inclusive of everyone we need to communicate with.

Also, what I have found overall is that this difficulty in communication isn’t just restricted to deaf people anymore. It is affecting us all (to differing degrees of course) which is why I feel more able and the need to speak out and raise awareness of the issues from my own perspective. We don’t have to deal with this alone.

Of course your struggle with communication depends on a multitude of factors eg. age, level of hearing loss, perhaps you have some kind of vision impairment and it affects your vision too especially if you wear glasses. Personally, I find it harder to see properly wearing a mask and also, I am finding I get lightheaded underneath the mask and it affects my concentration too especially when I am rushing around and in busy, noisy environments. This probably has something to do with the fact that I am very aware of the feeling of having the mask on, with the difficulty breathing especially when moving around and talking to people and also using some of my energy on being able to concentrate on hearing what people are saying to me if I need to engage in conversation….

There are a lot of things for my mind to think about and process with the mask on. I also have to keep checking my hearing aids are still in place with my mask behind my ear – one of my biggest fears is that I will lose my hearing aid somewhere so I do have to be extra cautious these days and make sure I take off the mask really slowly. The hearing aids I have are amazing and I’m very grateful but they are so small, still a good thing, but can come out quite easily if I take off the mask too quickly!

With all of these issues at hand, the masks do put me off having long conversations with people so I do tend to keep conversations short where possible and prefer to message people or video call them later on.

Nowadays, when I manage to grab the opportunity to go out with my family or socialise with my friends or anyone outside my “household”, it really does feel like a luxury. I really appreciate being able to go out so much more these days, even just to go out for a coffee (or tea), and actually holding conversations with people face to face in a more relaxed environment.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring… What’s important though is that we make sure we enjoy our freedom in life as long as we can and appreciate all those people close to you in your life and things you may be taking for granted unknowingly….

All we can do is to recognise our own needs to be nurtured and loved through it all, have faith, and hold onto hope dearly in our hearts, like a rock, a non-negotiable in our lives, and never let it go ❤️

Riding the waves of stress, anxiety and fatigue

Great quote by John Kabat-Zinn – “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”.

It feels like ages since I’ve put “pen to paper”, which isn’t really paper anymore is it… Everything is on screen now, but I still like that old fashioned expression used to mean writing and expressing our creativity within.

With the whole of the pandemic, even though I did develop some new healthy habits for myself (meditation mainly), along with the older, more established eating and exercise habits, I did manage to get myself feeling in a bit of a rut, mainly due to all the stress and exhaustion having the kids most of the time, combined with the sheer lack of mental space and limited energy I now have, which is less than before lockdown. Stress puts a big strain on our body.

When I am low in energy, I get more stressed, more anxious, more exhausted, my body feels more pain and gets more run down. There has been so much change in the last 6 months, and now all of my kids are at school, we are all settling into a good routine, and at long last, I have been given an opportunity to start afresh, to create some mental space for myself, to recreate my life in essence, to find some kind of balance, and day by day, using the tools I know really help uplift me and help me navigate my way through life, I am finding new ways of adding more peace and calm into my daily routine. Also, as well as that, I look to bring some more joy and fun into my daily routine too as this helps lift our energy too – this has been lacking somewhat with all the extra stresses that everyday life now brings us with the situation as it is. Little by little. Step by step. Trying to manage with what is the “new normal” which is always evolving as the situation changes for the worse or better… We are all just in the process of finding workaround solutions that enable us to live our lives and not put others at risk in the best possible way, so life can get stressful with more to worry about than we used to.

I am however ready for change, and have been on a new mission since school started again to really focus on increasing calm and energy especially now I finally have some thinking time and time to take some action to improve things. Just making that time to prioritise what matters to me which is what helps to contribute to living a happier, less stressful and more fulfilling life. And the same goes to you too. Do what is important to you, make it a part of your being in the way you go about your life, your everyday routine

Since now I have very little time in the mornings with the rush to school, my original morning exercise routine did fizzle out a bit… I had to cut a lot out as I became very conscious of the lack of time, and suddenly I had little to no time again with the school runs – my exercise routine didn’t really work well anymore. Whilst at home, my morning exercise routine could go on for 30-45 mins with interruptions from the kids, or more some days.

Now, I only have a finite amount of time, I had to find a way to jazz it up somewhat but didn’t know how. I had to make it feel more exciting, meaningful and worthwhile. I felt it needed to change to make it feel more inspiring and achievable every day. I initially bought a book focusing on a more mindful yoga practice called Yin Yoga by Kassandra Reinhardt which I became curious about though I have practiced yoga before, and then I came across a huge range of yoga videos that she has produced on Youtube which are fab that run for the perfect amount of time I can fit into my morning routine. She runs a free 30 day yoga challenge which involves just 10 minutes each day which I have now put into my schedule and I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier so I can make this happen. I am on Day 8 now and really enjoying it. It does give me a great calm, energising start to the day, which is just what I need. And because it makes me feel good, this is what gets me to keep this new exercise habit up. Little habits are great, especially when they only take 10 minutes out of each day.

What habits can you start to introduce into your life? How can you liven your routine and make the most of each and every day?

Don’t wait until it’s too late, enjoy your life whilst you can. Live each day as if it were your last and savour every moment!

Being alive is such a gift

How much the world has changed over the past few months, how online we have become – we have all had to adapt to this new way of living. Even though lockdown has eased, it’s not the same as it was and although a lot of businesses have opened up again, the world is still very much online whilst we figure out our next move to feel more freedom and get back to our “old” lives in a way that keeps us safe, the new “normal”.

There are many positives in all of this as the stigma of “flexible working”, especially for parents, will soon become a thing of the past. Saying that, nothing can replace the close contact we once had with friends and extended family. No online or face time call can replace the hugs and kisses we all used to take for granted – the value of touch and any kind of close contact is real.

We can however still find a way to connect with real people online which does help to fill the gap, but it is a strange world we are living in at the moment. A couple of weekends ago, I took part in an online mindfulness retreat as part of an 8 week course I am doing with Mindfulness UK, and I didn’t even have to leave my bedroom. The experience was wonderful though I was distracted and a bit unsettled at the start of it as I was trying to create a quiet space for myself fairly early on a Saturday morning, which isn’t an easy task. Eventually however, I did relax into it all and it was exactly what I needed. Plus it coincided by pure chance with a last minute overnight break that same afternoon only booked a couple of days beforehand, which really allowed me to process all my thoughts as it had been a difficult week. This also allowed me to really pay attention to how my body was feeling in starting to come out of the other side in all of this, and show some compassion towards myself. It has been such a challenging few months to say the least, and it’s taken a toll on everyone around me too.

It’s just how it is, and we have to just do what we can to work with it as it is without trying to change a single thing. Just accepting it, embracing it and loving yourself through it all. What other choice do we have? We can either take control and make the best of it, or we end up in a downward spiral and feeling bad in ourselves, and this makes it hard to cope and enjoy life in the best way possible.

Lockdown has been such a struggle for myself and for many families all over the world to get to grips with a/ working out how to look after myself amongst all the stress and chaos around me, and b/ how to manage looking after everyone and everything else. All I know is that I just cannot cope with having to look after anyone or anything else if I don’t make myself a priority every single day, and create that time to do things that help to recharge, relax and energise me. I’m not perfect by any means and some days are harder than others, but I have to make my physical and mental wellbeing a priority in everything I choose to do every day of my life, every minute of every day.

Sometimes we get things wrong, but the key thing is to get back on the right track, to realise that there is a better, more positive way of managing the situation should it arise again, and maybe next time, we can plan our day a bit differently to reduce any stress or anxiety. Maybe you are just doing too much? See what you can cut out of your schedule and create more space for yourself.

Creating space is key. There are so many things during the day that could trigger any form of anxiety or stress, and by becoming aware of what all these triggers are, it really does make it easier to learn how best to reduce it, manage your life, and live feeling more peace, happiness and calm within.

Some things of course are completely out of our control but we have more control over our lives than we think. Feel, do feel, acknowledge it all, then nourish yourself with self-love and get back to feeling good again, even if it is for a short period, then go back and look after yourself some more. It can sometimes only take a matter of minutes of self-care if we bring our awareness to these moments, take action and make the positive intention to feel good.

Emotions during the day can fluctuate so much, we can sometimes get so caught up in the negative energy of those around you, not just in your home but everywhere, which can really heighten your anxiety, your fatigue, and your ability to cope with the everyday tasks and responsibilities. It is so important to find that time to switch off our minds and tune into how our body is feeling, focusing on sometimes just small areas of the body at a time that need more attention, really experiencing a connection between what is going on in your mind with how your body is feeling in the moment. We get so caught up in the stress and hectic nature of our everyday lives that we forget to stop and think about our everyday habits and the way we behave towards ourselves, or maybe you don’t even know this connection doesn’t even exist…The only way to establish this connection is to stop and pay attention to each of your everyday activities bit by bit over time,  and removing any distractions around you as best as you can. As a mum, this is such a difficult thing, but where there is a will, there is definitely a way… There is always a workaround solution if we are willing to make that commitment to ourselves, to be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be!

Inspire others, be the change… Go and be your amazing self ❤️

Bring back your sunshine

My mind has felt a whole host of emotions during lockdown, including the feeling of being trapped and very overwhelmed. Even though lockdown restrictions have eased, I still feel like I am under lockdown, but of course now, it is a bit different to how it was before as we are all adjusting to the new “normal” whilst keeping people safe whilst we go about our everyday lives.

My mind has been trapped with all the worries that come along with being at home with the kids, which is quite restricting in itself and overwhelming at the same time, feeling the immense difficulty in being able to leave the house at a sensible time of day, and just generally feeling fed up with the exhausting life that it is right now. Which I have on the other hand accepted. But it does just feel hard day in day out, taking such a toll on my energy and muscular pain too, with all the extra stress to clutter up the mind, all that extra housework and worry about keeping the kids entertained without much of a break from it all, just to be adults, and just to be ourselves without having to worry about anyone else’s needs. The regular need to clear your head, especially if you are a parent, with some peace and quiet is immense whilst at home, so whenever I get a spare few minutes here and there, I just literally have to grab them!! Just being aware of your emotional needs throughout the day is important too… being able to time those calm moments with what you are needing in the moment is key to helping you get through the rest of the day in a more positive frame of mind…

The need to focus and for calm is such an important priority at the moment, which I have been working hard on to the best of my ability in lockdown. This mainly involved regular meditation practice, regular exercise, practicing my flute, listening to music, reading a book, listening to interesting talks, or being creative in some way. It really does help lift the burden on the mind and feels so good. Just being able to have some calm during the day is essential to helping us focus on our own needs for our own sanity if nothing else.

There is also a big desire just to feel free. And that freedom as a mum comes normally by leaving the house on my own, hearing the sound of my own thoughts in peace and quiet (such a luxury these days), meeting with friends or family, and just having fun as a grown adult. A lot of this freedom was taken away from us whilst we all save lives in lockdown, which is of course of utmost importance, but as things are calming down somewhat and lockdown has eased off, some of us are now able to see friends and family face to face at a distance, which feels so much better than just seeing them on screen. It feels so much more real and connected, that connection we all want to feel and that we have missed whilst being stuck at home with limited freedom outdoors, keeping our distance to keep ourselves safe and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The freedom we used to have, for me, entailed going to my local Rock Choir, which I really miss, but also to karaoke bars or singalong sessions with friends to help continue to build my new local community of like-minded people who love music and singing. Which has paused for the time being… In the meantime though, singalongs take place mainly in the kitchen when I can whilst doing chores but now also (since yesterday) in the car on the journey to school and back home, and especially when I don’t have any children in the car. I really need to sing. To get that microphone out! To release any negativity, feel positive and start my day well, in addition to my morning exercise routine which I have stuck to everyday during lockdown.

We can beat this, we can come out of it all stronger if we make positive choices for ourselves throughout each and everyday, sometimes it can be a good dose of self-care, you don’t have to necessarily be feeling in the best mood, but just recognising in every moment our love for ourselves, and how we can somehow love ourselves more to make our lives that bit easier, much more bearable and possibly even enjoyable.

We have all been accustomed to using online conferencing software Zoom as the only way to communicate with friends that we would normally socialise with, and communities we are a part of. This has been amazing and I am extremely grateful for the World Wide Web for giving us that opportunity for connection when there was nothing else! However, the human connection and live face to face interaction feels so much better, even at a distance, which is a far cry from the world we have been living in during lockdown.

We need real. We need to live. We need to feel free. To feel like we are starting to piece our lives back bit by bit, and feel more “normal”, more connected to the life around us. To nature. To the music that is life. Love. Laughs. We need to lighten the mental load somehow, to release those things that are blocking and stopping us from enjoying life. It still feels very eery when I go out but is getting easier over time, but at least, I am still able to hear the birds, enjoy the sunshine… not forgetting the smiles from people around me, the support from locals, our neighbours, the school community – it has been amazing how everyone has come together to help each other in different ways and support each other through these difficult times. It’s the simple things in life we need to take pleasure from now to get the best from life.

It’s not all over yet, but somehow with the current restrictions and the new “normal”, we need to find a way to live and enjoy the outside world we live in and feel the beauty of it all whenever we can. For those who aren’t still in full lockdown, we need to experience the outdoors much more as much as we can especially whilst the weather is good, to try out new parks we haven’t been to before, to find those beautiful places close to our doorstep, to add some extra spark back into our life… To actually make plans to see friends you may not have seen in person for months, to dance and sing more, to feel ourselves come back to life in a fun way. Personally, it feels like I am trying to free myself from a cage, like a bird almost! The freedom to fly, to use my wing muscles I have been working to strengthen until now, to breathe fresh air into my lungs and really experience the beauty that life has to offer.  All that is just waiting for us on the other side…

Summer is approaching, which is my favourite season. I like the heat especially when I don’t need to rush around, and can do things at my own pace though I now have school runs to worry about for part of the week. I never thought I would say this, but although I was absolutely dreading the school runs, getting up early, being able to get out of the door early, and also, how my son would cope being back, in fact, what happened was that I am actually enjoying the experience! It has given me the opportunity:

  • to get my workout done early
  • to get dressed in the morning
  • to get out of the house early
  • to get some fresh air first thing
  • to listen to the radio and sing along to my favourite tunes
  • to connect with other people at school, even if it is through a smile and a very quick chit chat
  • to kickstart a new habit of getting up an hour and a half earlier than usual as I really enjoy the peace and quiet (without being disturbed!) whilst doing my morning exercise and meditation routine whilst my family are all asleep!

I guess one of the “perks” of being at home so much is that I have more “time” to get things done around the house. However, it does get extremely mundane and I do have to somehow make other things part of my “chores” too to make it all more bearable as housework really isn’t my thing, chores that help my physical and mental wellbeing…. It is a really long day, but I do have to somehow make the most of it and enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts too.

Sunshine feels so refreshing to me, I just want to get out that glass of Pimms with crushed ice and fruit cuttings inside, and drink at my own pace in style with my book beside me whilst the kids play peacefully out in the garden. This is the ideal scenario… especially when it gets really hot. Beaches are also one of my favourite places to be… in the meantime until I get to an actual beach, I sometimes listen to sounds of the waves via YouTube (there are lots of different varieties depending on what you like), which are great for helping me feel calm. It really feels like a soothing head massage, especially if you close your eyes, take some long deep breaths and really focus on the sounds.

Even though it may be difficult right now, we can still create those pictures in your mind of how you would love to see and improve your life and take action. Little action steps.

Right, I must go and put that on my to do list for the summer months, to treat myself to a glass of Pimms and do some more reading in the months to come…

What’s your plan, how are you going to bring more sunshine, joy and calm into your life right now?

Feel the fear and do it anyway

I bought more of of a pinky violet hair dye (made by Garnier Olia) a few weeks ago (rather than a dark purply colour which I was ideally looking for).

Anyway, today, I finally decided I was going to use it….I was petrified of changing my hair colour to a different one that I was used to!

I have been procrastinating about using the hair dye as I was worried what I would look like as I’ve never dyed my hair this pinky colour before! Anyway, thankfully, it is darker than I anticipated and not quite so bright! ??

This might seem really trivial but it does apply to practically anything you want to do in life, you just need to make the decision to change your life, stick to it, take action and grab that opportunity to shine your light whenever you can during the day – who knows what tomorrow will bring ❤️

Are you igniting your light?

The past week has been such an emotional rollercoaster for me, I’m sure it has been for you too with all the new daily changes that have taken place to protect us, to help reduce the spread of this coronavirus, to keep us human beings alive as much as possible…

I have noticed over the past week that all over the world, people are giving so much of themselves and their services for free, and offering so much kindness which is incredible – we all need this too to help us process it all. The act of giving can help to lift the heavy burden of all that darkness weighing down on us all, it gives our minds something positive to focus on, making us feel like we have a sense of purpose and helps us to feel more in control, so more than ever, there is a bigger sense of community and feeling of connectedness out there now in the online and real world despite the social distancing.

So many new Facebook groups and online classes have been set up to help bring us together in fighting this pandemic with positivity and using everyone’s different skills to help people get through it all and come out the other side feeling in a more positive state.

It’s only when you are stripped bare of everything you have built your life upon and see yourself to be, that you might somehow find yourself immersing yourself in dark thoughts for longer than you might like, into a shadow of your former self. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all this information and the prospect of having to communicate and connect with people in the outside world mainly via the internet, and if you have primary aged children, the sheer lack of alone time. Which is why whenever you can during the day, in your own time (or do it with your children if possible), you have to prioritise what is most important to you and your family and make a routine of it – make the routine work for you too. This is still in working progress at my end, but at least there is progress to be grateful for despite the struggle…

During the events of the past few weeks but especially this past week, I lost connection to the joy within myself that I was accustomed to giving myself, that I was in a routine of giving myself every day, to then find I had to give virtually all of it up due to social distancing and being bound to our homes with the kids with very little breathing space to be able to navigate my way positively through my next best steps and plan of action during this difficult period to maintain my health and wellbeing.

I love my alone time. I really need my alone time for optimum wellbeing and happiness. Without time to process what was happening in my mind, I launched into home schooling my three kids, feeling completely overwhelmed with all the technology and online services that suddenly became available within a short space of time. Due to social distancing, people had to suddenly make the change to work from home or close their businesses down, and the only way to retain their sanity was to develop an online version of whatever they were offering before, to maintain that connection with their clients, to retain their life’s purpose, and to keep their passion and drive intact for after all this coronavirus is all over and we can get back to a new “normal”…

However, I lost communication with the signals my body was trying to communicate in all of the chaos trying to fumble my way through preschooling my kids, and keeping them fed and entertained all day long which seems like an eternity when I don’t have to drive them anywhere, making the day seem so long. I also haven’t been feeling well on and off over the past week as all the stress and anxiety has taken over my body and made me feel very low in energy. I have also experienced more aches and pains in my body too, which is how my body responds to stressful situations. It is getting a little bit easier and more manageable over time, but still, it’s all very exhausting.

With all the overwhelm and crowding of my personal space, I have been feeling really out of balance, I managed to lose my own sense of purpose and direction in the world as we are now… My body just hasn’t been able to easily cope with this level of stress in my life, in the outside world, with the kids, and all the zillion things I have to do now around the home.

I’m not adapting well to this new change, this new chaotic environment, this new way of living that I have to get used to for the next few months… But somehow, I am learning to find my way again from scratch to work out how I can feel less isolated, less anxiety, less stress, and get back my sense of purpose in this new environment called home I find myself having to use as a base. At the same time, I am looking into ways of increasing the peace, calm and joy in my life wherever possible. This is our new reality for the time being and we have to somehow accept and embrace it.

Who are you? What do you choose to see yourself as? How can you show up as that person?

Think of all the things you love about yourself, and make little actions for yourself to show up as that person you love, and make it part of your daily routine, even around the chaos and noise of everyday life. Make that space for yourself. Make moments of calm, peace and joy in your day – take charge of your wellbeing.

It’s important not to remain in a negative state for too long though we must acknowledge how we are feeling in the moment and always do what we can to get our energy up and feeling in a happier state. It’s so important. Stress can really take a toll on your wellbeing as I have experienced first hand. Stress doesn’t make me feel good, and when I don’t feel good, I’m not my best version of myself. I radiate negativity and stress, and lose that balance, that calm, that joy within me that I was connected with before. Without peace, love and joy, I feel foggy headed, without motivation and direction, full of overwhelm, and my natural reaction is to zone out, but this doesn’t make me feel good either.

It’s a big thing for me (and the rest of the world) that we are socially distancing ourselves from the very people that we are used to connecting with and share common interests with, as this is a key way in which we can uplift ourselves, by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. It’s not the same without human contact and all this communicating online and via messaging.

It just all feels too much sometimes. But I do have to find a way to snap out of it. I have to make that choice again to show up as me, the positive, calm, inspiring, determined, fearless, musical, loving, joyful person that I am (well most of the time at least). I have a responsibility to spread light and love, and if I don’t connect with myself in this way, I can’t extend it out to the world around me. It just feels too hard, like doing the impossible. Change has to happen within me first to be able to inspire and positively impact the world around me.

Find your inner strength and calm, find a way to treat your feelings with love, treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve, honour you and your feelings. Love, joy and gratitude are three of the most powerful emotions, and it’s important to be make sure you are including as much of it as possible into your daily routine.

Joy has been missing big time for me recently.

Parents also need some joy during their day too, it’s very easy to neglect ourselves at this time as our days are completely consumed by our children. Which is why you must sneak time in for yourselves, and more importantly, make offline time in your diaries too every day to give yourselves a break from the screen, otherwise we are all going to feel frazzled by this way of communicating!!! Don’t forget the plain old fashioned telephone call you could always make to a friend or family, especially now you may have more time at home to make those calls.

We all need to stay healthy in our mind and body even though times are hard – don’t let this be your excuse to not look after yourself as it’ll keep you from the happiness you deserve and need to be feeling right now.

It’s all a worthwhile cause. The light feels so much better, I feel happier in the light. It’s important to hold onto that feeling and remember it always, and as something you look forward to having again. You don’t want to lose focus on the light, so it’s important to find your strength through positive thinking and regular actions to help you live in the happiest way you can and keep your mind healthy, active and feeling inspired.

We have to learn to live with certainty, with peace, love and joy too, as best as we can. Take control of the things you can control instead of worrying about what you can’t control. (I know I am guilty of this too). Even though it feels like everything is spiralling out of control, we mustn’t neglect ourselves at this time, we must keep our spirits alive. This is something we can all take control of and must nurture everyday. I must start taking my own advice again, and reconnect with my better self who knows what makes me feel good and nurture it everyday, and find a way around this social distancing to help me connect with what I love to do to lift my spirits. This is a habit we must adopt in difficult times like this to keep our strength up.

We don’t have control over everything, so forgive yourself for having these fearful feelings but make that choice to return to love. We have to find our light within as this will help you to feel good, to push the darkness out that bit further to allow you to live in the light, or at least to see the light shining to begin with, to help you become engaged in the world around you, even if it is just about appreciating the little pleasures at first.

What is your intention in this world to be? Where does your true purpose lie? How can you still live your purpose during challenging times? How can you take a step further into the light?

The light within each and everyone of us is so incredibly important, never neglect your light in favour of negativity. It doesn’t do anyone any good. Our inner light is what gives us the strength and the motivation to allow us to live our best life to fuel our energy, our joy, our desires, our kindness to ourselves and to others, to be able to feel and experience the blessings that exist all around us. Allow and accept the love within you, have faith, believe in it and it’ll become a part of you and will enable you to light up your world.

It is a lot for us all to take in. Take it step by step. Acknowledge your feelings, connect with your emotions and proactively take action to make yourselves feel better, little actions, baby steps even, helping you to make your way out of the darkness and into the light. The light feels so much better, I feel happier in the light. It’s important to hold onto that feeling and remember it always, and as something you look forward to having again. You don’t want to lose focus on the light, so it’s important to find your strength through positive thinking and regular actions to help you live in the happiest way you can and keep your mind healthy, active and feeling inspired.

Remember your light within, make a conscious effort to shine your light every single day even when you don’t feel like it – make your mental health a daily priority. Never has it been a more important time to shine our light, and to take action to empower ourselves within for all our sakes, for the sake of humanity.

You can’t control everything

At a time of great uncertainty around the world, we can get so overwhelmed with the negativity in the news that really has just taken over our lives…. But somehow, we have to take back control and find that happy and calm feeling within us in our everyday lives, otherwise we will go stir crazy!!!

We have to take charge of what we can control, and work with what we have in our lives and can be grateful for, and be proactive in taking those little steps during our day to live our lives and do what makes us feel happy, calm, safe and supported…

Aside from all the practical everyday stuff you may need to be stocking up on in case of emergency, the constant handwashing, making improvements in your everyday hygiene and the general cleanliness around you, the worry is real. In acknowledging this, we really have to make the time for self-care (it is more important than ever now). Do what you need to do, be prepared, but also it’s also important to find that time to be silent and calm, and more than ever now, invest in some extra joy, sing, dance, draw, paint, listen to music or a comedy sketch, get inspired… Do whatever it is that lights you up, but make that choice to redirect your focus and some time away from all the fear and worry.

Here are some key ways that I would like to share that I hope can help you get through this worldly storm:

Focus on what is thriving in your lives. We must continue to stimulate our minds with love, laughter, inspiration and joy, otherwise what’s the point… Life will just get too depressing and our minds can get really foggy and stuck in negativity which makes it so hard to see the light and beauty that is still out there in this world to see. The beauty and importance of the simple things in your life already that you may have taken for granted. Family. Love. Food. Friends. Community. Transport. Heating. Water. Electricity. And so on. Make the most of every little bit of it whilst you have it day by day. Tomorrow is not a given. Make the most of each day whilst you are alive. Being alive is a miracle, a blessing – make it all count!

Take care of your mental health. Don’t forget to love yourselves, be kind to yourself, do what makes you feel good – as well as making you feel better in yourself, this will help you to be able to spread more light to others around you to help build a sense of community during these difficult times. Which helps us get through it all.

Be kind. Giving to others always makes me feel good, it’s a great distraction too, so why not do the same? As human beings, during these times, it all comes down to showing compassion towards each other – only through kindness and love can we help people get a better glimpse of the light. It also really helps you to get back on track towards a more positive path towards the happiness and calm you may want to be feeling right now.

Invest in like-minded communities, both online or offline, around you who can be a great support to you when times are hard and we feel alone in the struggle. There is some kind of comfort in knowing other people all around the world are feeling the same vulnerability, it’s a very surreal feeling. So more than ever, we are not alone as it is affecting the whole world around us, which is even more reason to unite together and create some extra love, light and miracles together, and know we are all supported at the same time.

Take care of your physical well-being. Get some fresh air and make the most of the dry moments and sunshine. Drink lots of water (or herbal teas if you like your drinks warm, especially in the winter months). Make sure you are eating lots of healthy fruit and vegetables, and include a regular amount of protein in your diet too to give you energy. Do some exercise everyday even if for 10 minutes. Move your body, dance, do some strengthening exercises, go for a walk… what does your body need? Increasing your energy levels will help you to feel better in yourself, get your adrenaline going and give your mind aswell as your body a boost of fresh air and help clear the fog that might be dragging you down.

If you have been procrastinating about doing something that could improve your health and happiness, now is the time to do it! Now is the time to take care of our bodies and immune systems as best as you can.

Find little moments during the day you can be grateful for, and savour those moments, give life to those little things. This is what matters most in life and can really uplift your mind and help you to go about your lives more positively and help you to feel happier, more fulfilled and keep you calm.

Happiness is our birthright

Happiness is a choice we make every day. Happiness is not only based on what we are feeling on the outside, it is deeper than that. It is a feeling of content, inner confidence and joy on the inside too knowing that you have made your own happiness a priority in your life.

In my eyes, happiness is all about feeling good and can be expressed in many forms. It can be different for each person of course – we are all unique and have our own ways of expressing our happiness.

For me, happiness can be expressed in the form of joy. This joy provides me with a more positive, calm and a more lively energy that I can spread to those I am in contact with, to my family, friends and the world around me. When I feel joy, I feel happy inside, and it helps me to feel less stressed, stay calm and be more productive with my time and energy.

Happiness helps me to connect with myself much better, to connect with the more loving part of myself, to feel more compassionate, and in that love, my mind and heart is more open, I can let my light shine, I nourish myself well, I can feel a deeper appreciation for myself, life and all that surrounds me.

When I feel happy, I feel worthy, I have faith, I am filled with gratitude, I feel excited, I feel a new respect for myself, I feel strong, I have courage, I have fun, I feel empowered and can make better decisions for myself that can also have a positive impact those around me too. I can make a difference to other people’s lives too.

Happiness brightens my perspective of life. It makes me feel sunshine flowing through my body in such a way that I don’t get affected by negativity quite as much as I used to – it makes me feel more beautiful inside and heightens my awareness of the beauty outside too. Happiness also helps me to guide me back towards and see the positive even amongst the chaos and challenges of everyday family life.

Happiness is definitely a choice worth making everyday even if you don’t feel like it. It can really make a positive difference in the way you view your life. ❤️