Profile photo of Lorraine Pannetier outside by palm tree holding a cup of tea and wearing a grey jumper and smiling at the camera.

The Connection between Gratitude and Creativity

 

Living, writing and creating in Jersey is a breath of fresh air.

From the rugged north coast to the palm trees of the south, the waves of the wild west to the glowing eastern sunrise, there’s something unique and special about every angle of our tiny island.

Our landscape is an endless source of inspiration for local creative artists, many of whom have successfully created products that are sought after worldwide for customers wanting to take a little of Jersey’s essence into their homes. Even if you’ve never heard of the island of Jersey, chances are you’ve tasted a Jersey Royal or can spot a Jersey cow!

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Photo by George Hiles on Unsplash

When I first came to Jersey twenty years ago as a young personal trainer, nutrition consultant and massage therapist, I soon discovered a whole circle of incredible healers and practitioners whose magic hands were capable of transforming energy levels, health and well-being.

I intuitively felt safe, supported and inspired by their wealth of knowledge and experience and immersed myself in many kinds of treatments such as reflexology, chiropractic, cranio-sacral therapy and crystal healing.

Investing in our body’s health should really be a no-brainer.

Except we live in a world where obesity and chronic illness are prevalent in developed countries while malnutrition and preventable disease run rife in the third world. So, looking beyond diet, exercise and disease control, what else can we do to make our human bodies run more efficiently and enjoy happier lives?

Well, I believe that part of the secret lies here in Jersey.

Spending time being active outdoors in nature and breathing in our fresh, unpolluted air is one way to boost our health and spirit. However, there is one important thing that needs to be added here…

Gratitude.

Too many of us simply take our island and our beautiful surroundings (and many other amazing things in our lives) for granted.

When was the last time you found yourself stuck in traffic along The Avenue? Probably fairly frequently if you’re a rush-hour commuter. But did you take the time to notice the millpond-like sea in St Aubin’s bay, to watch the palm trees fluttering gently in the breeze or to look up and see a flock of birds or a ‘kiss’ of aeroplane trails in the sky?

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Simple pleasures – Noirmont point, overlooking Portelet Bay, Jersey

Being thankful for our island’s natural beauty is a prerequisite for a more joy-filled existence.

We will all experience problems, challenges and pain in our lives, but how we choose to react to those situations will be far more positive when we begin to live every day from a place of love, kindness and gratitude.

 

As a writer and creative entrepreneur based in Jersey, I’m grateful every day for the inspiration I find in our island and how that translates into beautiful words for my clients.

Whenever my creativity gets stuck or my energy feels stagnant, a short walk in nature, a trip to the sea or some time in the company of animals reawakens my passions and stimulates my creative juices.

Here are my top tips to living life from a place of gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude diary. Write down at least three things you’re grateful for every day and how they make you feel. Need some inspiration? Read on…

 

  • Take a few moments every morning to look out of your bedroom window. Notice the trees and flowers, the clouds, the sky, the sunrise and the birds. Watch how the seasons change the colours and textures.

 

  • Close your eyes in the shower and feel the warmth of the water trickling over your body. Whilst appreciating the availability of running water, heating, fluffy towels and clean clothes, think about your big dreams or life goals. What would you like to achieve? Where would you love to travel to? What legacy would you like to leave behind? Thinking about these things daily and taking small action steps towards achieving them is far easier when the rest of your day is rooted in gratitude.

 

  • Do kind things for others. It doesn’t have to be a grand or expensive gesture, but perhaps something as simple as cooking a meal for an elderly neighbour, bringing fresh fruit into work to support your colleague’s health goals, passing on a good book or donating unwanted clothes or household items to charity.

 

  • Spend more quality time with your children, family or friends without the distraction of smart phones. Listen to elderly relatives’ stories and pass on their wisdom and history to the younger generation.

     

Our island’s natural beauty and heritage is not a separate entity. It’s interwoven into every piece of creative artwork and lives on forever through each one of us.

Lorraine xx

A Love Note to Jersey – First published in The Jersey Life Magazine May 2018

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Fliquet beach, Jersey

 

Meal prep Sunday: plant-based and packaging-free

Today, I thought I’d share something a little different; an insight into my meal prep Sunday and food shopping over the past few days.

Now, I don’t meal prep EVERY Sunday,  in fact, I’ve been pretty rubbish about planning in general lately which has led to rather too many simple meals of pasta in tomato sauce, or noodles with vegetables or yet another lentil curry. (Nothing wrong with lentil curry but it can get a bit monotonous!)

Now Jersey has not one but TWO package free / zero waste shops to enhance our sustainable lifestyle goals, I decided now was the time to put my money where my mouth is and buy ONLY package free (or recyclable/compostable materials) ingredients and cook or prepare meals and snacks in advance.

On Friday, I went out armed with my mesh food bags and canvas shoppers to our great new cooperative initiative – SCOOP – based at Vermont Farm in St Peter. They stock a selection of seasonal, organic vegetables plus a whole host of dried ingredients to scoop straight out into your own jars or containers. We came away with some beautiful cooking apples, a giant bag of dark green kale, cashew nuts, almonds, broccoli, toasted coconut and dried mango (which won’t last long in our house!). I also treated myself to a new bamboo toothbrush (ahem – I may have had my last one for over a year) and some Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. All excellent value for money and you can walk away with that sweet smile of smugness plastered across your face!

My daughter and I then headed off to one of our friendliest farm shops on the island, Lucas Bros on La Haule hill, St Aubin. Here you can get the most delicious fresh flat leafed parsley (I literally eat it by the handful) as well as beautiful locally grown lettuce, fresh tomatoes of all varieties, giant mushrooms and so much more. We stocked up on lots of our favourite ingredients -like avocados, cucumber and ripe bananas – and my daughter is always astonished by how cheap it is compared to buying the same items in packaging in the supermarket.

First stop on Saturday afternoon – a local health food store (Barannes) for raw, organic apple cider vinegar and almond butter. Both in glass jars – check!

Then I headed off to Mini Mall, a fantastic new shop in the centre of St Helier, Jersey, where you can take your own jars and stock up on all your dried goods, plus olive oil, teas, spices and more. Oh, and they stock the most delicious raw vegan and gluten free treats from Wild Health. I couldn’t make up my mind so came away with a mint-matcha-chocolate slice and a chocolate-raspberry torte. I’ve sliced each one into three pieces and frozen the leftovers to share with my teenage daughters. (But only if I don’t eat it all before they find out!) *cue evil laugh*

In Mini Mall I bought chia seeds, cacao powder, cacao nibs, hazelnuts and organic ground cinnamon – yummy! It works out so much cheaper buying everything this way, plus, you’re helping to save the planet from unnecessary single use plastic and packaging. Win-win. They also have strong paper bags should you ever be passing by without your own jars.

Today (Sunday) I’ve been to Rondels’ farm shop in Trinity for more ripe bananas (did I mention they’re my favourite food?), frozen fruit, some other veggies – including a giant 2.5lb sweet potato – and more avocados. The only items that had to be in a plastic bag (because I’ve run out of containers – they seem to enter the void known as ‘school’ and never return…) were the frozen berries, but I reuse the bags as many times as possible for covering food in the fridge. (Note to self, buy more large Kilner jars.)

With all the shopping out of the way, I started my Sunday morning with 500ml water, a small glass of water with apple cider vinegar, then a freshly made apple and ginger shot which boosts immunity and warms you up on a cold day. This was followed by a giant blood-boosting juice of the organic kale and carrots from Scoop, fresh parsley, a little apple, fresh lemon juice and a giant raw beetroot. Dee-lish-uss!

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Our main breakfast was a chocolate-oat smoothie bowl topped with toasted coconut, almond butter  and cacao nibs – a nutrient rich start to the day.

Smoothie recipe: almonds, chia seeds, water, vanilla powder, ripe bananas, maca powder, ground flaxseed, cacao powder and medjool dates. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and whizz until smooth and creamy. I made a thick smoothie with less water than I would if I was going to drink it. Pour the smoothie over the oats (gluten free) and top with fruit and toppings of your choice.

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Lunch: A fresh bowl of raw salad ingredients with stuffed vine leaves (bought from Waitrose in a tin = recyclable) and a home made tahini dip.

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Then I started with all the food prep for the week ahead.

I haven’t made a specific meal plan, but I have made a selection of individual ingredients that my daughter can use for school lunches and I can eat at home for lunch to save precious writing time.

(Note: While I’m completely plant-based, my daughters do eat some meat, fish and eggs, though primarily it’s when they’re out with friends or with their dad. However, on this occasion I bought some skinless chicken breasts – straight into my own glass container – from the friendly couple who run The Country Butcher at Rondel’s Farm Shop so that my eldest daughter has a little more protein in her school lunches. I rarely cook meat for my kids at all so this is a rare occurrence!)

Here’s what I’ve been busy making, chopping and cooking all afternoon (is it bedtime yet?!):

  • Apple compote (stewed apple) – a great addition to breakfast dishes, as an ingredient in healthy muffins or to use as apple crumble… yum! Peel and chop cooking apples straight into a saucepan. Add a little water (about half a cup for 3-4 small cooking apples), and your choice of spices. I added cloves, star anise, ground mixed spice and cardamon seeds. However, a dash of cinnamon works perfectly well if that’s all you have. I don’t tend to sweeten my cooking apples but feel free to add a little maple syrup or agave if desired.
  • Cacao energy balls – a perfect mid morning snack for busy teenagers or an after dinner treat if you have a sweet tooth. They’re also great as a post-workout snack alongside a ripe banana. In a food processor add gluten free oats, chia seeds, cashew nuts (or any nut of your choice), cacao nibs, ground flaxseed and cacao powder. Blitz until it’s a coarse consistency but not a powder. Add soaked medjool dates and coconut oil and blitz until it starts coming away from the sides and can be easily rolled into balls. Roll the mixture into balls and store in the fridge or freezer in a container. I made about 15 balls which should keep us going for a few days!
  • Brown rice and bulgur wheat – staples for a plant-based diet, I made these in bulk and separated into portion sizes so that my 17 year old can easily put together her own lunches (dream on, mummy!). Cook until al dente, then rinse in cold water, drain and store in the fridge immediately. *Note, bulgur wheat is not gluten free. 
  • Sweet ’n’ spicy roasted sweet potato cubes – another family favourite, I roasted peeled, cubed sweet potato in a little olive oil, sea salt, smoked paprika, turmeric, chilli flakes and cinnamon. Once cooked, allow to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
  • Roasted pumpkin and courgette – the last of the Halloween pumpkin has now been cooked!! I peeled and cubed the pumpkin and chopped the courgette into chunks and popped them in a roasting dish together with sea salt, black pepper and a tiny bit of olive oil. Again, once cooked, allow to cool and store in the fridge in a sealed container.
  • Dehydrated pineapple slices – Am I the only one who buys pineapples with good intentions and then watches them slowly become overripe…?!! This one needed eating asap so I peeled, sliced finely and dehydrated in the oven on about 50 degrees celsius for a few hours. (While I was cooking the roasted vegetables I sat these in the top oven which gets slightly warm from the main oven anyway. Then I returned them to the lower heat once the oven had cooled down.) I never manage to make these as dry as the ones in the shops but they’re so yummy (and so small) that they generally last all of about 4 minutes anyway….
  • Chopped red bell peppers and organic carrots – washed, sliced and ready to use in salads or as a snack.
  • Soaked almonds – soaking in water ready for tomorrow morning’s almond milk (because I’m trying not to buy cartons of milk anymore as they’re not recyclable …)

Plus, for those of you not yet on a plant-based or vegan diet, you probably need time to transition. So here’s what I did with the chicken and eggs… (and I’m not even going to crack a joke… *groan*)

I roasted the chicken breasts in turmeric, sea salt and black pepper, then sliced into lunchbox chunks and popped half in the freezer and half in the fridge in a large Kilner jar. I hard-boiled two of the eggs and saved the others for omelette or cakes. (Just for the kids…) If you want more meal-prep inspiration for meat and fish based dishes, just search on YouTube as there are soooo many vloggers and fitness experts who share their tasty, healthy recipes. 

Hopefully you’re exhausted (but inspired) just by reading this… and I’m now off for a long soak in the bath with candles! 

I’ll leave you with a couple of questions to get you on track with meal prep and planning.

  • How could you be more organised this week and plan ahead to give yourself more time?
  • What meals or snacks could you prepare in advance? Even making a slow cooker casserole is a great way to free up the early evening when everyone is tired and hungry after a busy day.
  • Have you got any local sustainable shops near you? If you’re not sure, your challenge this week is to do some research.

If you live in Jersey, do pop in to the shops I’ve named above and tell them they were featured in a local blog. They’ll be really happy! Or share your photos on Instagram and tag me @lorrainepannetiercreative or @bowlsofsoul. I’d love to see your take on meal prep. 

Have a wonderful, slow, relaxing Sunday evening,

Lorraine xx

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Cacao energy balls sprinkled with toasted coconut… just because 😉

5 Steps To Simplify Your Life

It’s a true fact that we’ve all got too much stuff!

  • We have too much stuff in our homes that we’re constantly moving around from room to room, from small box to big box, from one pile to another.
  • We have too much stuff in our minds that leaves us feeling overwhelmed, drained and unable to think clearly or truly relax.
  • We have too many tabs open on our laptops, too many unopened emails and constant digital overload.

It’s time we stopped collecting, consuming and drowning in possessions.

It’s time to make our lives more simple, more rewarding and more healthy – for our own well-being and for the health of our planet.

Here are 5 easy steps to bringing more ease and flow to your life …

Step 1 – Decide what you want your life to look like.

I realised many years ago that I didn’t want to spend every evening sat watching television. I needed to find activities that stimulated my mind and my creativity. I slowly replaced my previous TV favourites with a combination of learning new skills (tech stuff, graphic design, an Open University degree, courses in sales, money mindset and more…) and eventually sold the television set! (You don’t have to be that extreme, but it worked for me!) Looking back, all I did was to swap the things I didn’t want in my life for the things that made me happy. Now I get to spend all my time doing the things I love and in turn, I’ve been able to create a business that helps other people and together, we’re part of a ripple effect that’s slowly changing the world. What could your life look like if you made simple changes every day?

Step 2 – Declutter your home

Whenever we think of decluttering, we tend to visualise a garage or wardrobe filled with junk and objects we’d long forgotten about and we feel a sudden sense of dread about the enormity of the job. Which is probably why we put it off for so many months (or even years) and why DIY shops sell so many storage boxes! But there’s so much more to the decluttering process than simply reorganising possessions into neatly labelled boxes. There’s a lovely little book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo which shows us how to sort our belongings by type instead of by area. (E.g. clothes, books, stationery and paper items). Kondo believes we should hold each item and ask ourselves whether it brings us joy. Of course, there are some essential exceptions to this, but on the whole, we should be surrounded by possessions that we love or that make us happy or our lives easier in some way. When we reduce the amount of clutter around us we feel a sense of lightness and renewed energy. This is particularly true of the things we notice every day, like the clothes piled up on the exercise bike in the spare room, the kitchen cupboard that is so fill something falls out and smashes or makes a mess every time we open it, the boxes in the corner of the bedroom that were meant to be sorted when you moved in … a year ago.

Step 3 – Digital declutter and detox

If you run your own business you’ll know what I mean about having multiple tabs and documents open all the time, endless pings of notifications and an inbox with unread emails in their thousands. Even if you’re not a business owner, chances are a lot of your world now revolves around technology – everything from controlling your heating to planning your holiday, reading a book or keeping in touch with friends. It’s healthy to schedule plenty of time away from your devices as it will bring you better sleep, a calmer mind and better posture. Check your emails just once or twice a day instead of responding to every notification; ditto for Facebook and other social media. Have a strict no-phones rule at the dinner table and try to charge your devices away from the bedroom. Once you remove the temptation you’ll soon realise how much you don’t need to grab your phone the minute you wake up!

Step 4 – Think about food waste

So while we’re busy over-consuming on a daily basis, we often fail to consider the amount of food that gets wasted every year in our homes. From food scraps leftover when we’re full up (because we cooked too much) to bendy carrots and mouldy lemons or packets of unused dried food or spices that’s sat at the back of the cupboard for years! There’s a healthy balance somewhere in between being overstocked and understocked. No-one wants bare cupboards, but equally, having a fridge and freezer so overstuffed is often a recipe for stress and the quickest way to get a family ordering a take-away because the cooking choices are overwhelming. Plan your meals ahead of time and take a shopping list to the supermarket to ensure you’re not buying stuff you don’t need. Also, run a quick audit of your fridge before you go out so you don’t double up on items that perish quickly. Use up slightly-past-their-best produce in dishes such as curry, casserole or pasta sauces.

Step 5 – Gratitude

In fact, this really should be step one because we’re all guilty of forgetting how much we value the simple things in life. Starting now, write a short gratitude note every day to allow yourself time to reflect on what’s really important in your life and the things that light you up. You may choose to start a gratitude journal, write little notes and fold them in a jar or perhaps you want to share them with the world on an Instagram page. It doesn’t matter how or where you write them, what matters is the intention behind every word. The more you approach life from a place of gratitude, the more you’ll realise that you don’t need things to make you happy.

How will you begin simplifying your life today?

Lorraine xx

 

It’s Time to STOP Playing Small

It’s taken me a really long time to realise that the answers were inside of me all along.

But I played small.

I didn’t shout about all the gifts I could offer the world.

I wrapped up my self-worth in qualifications, relationships and (if I’m honest) my kids.

I always knew that I had knowledge that would benefit others but it would frustrate me when they wouldn’t buy my stuff.

Of course, many people did work with me, how else would I have remained in business for so many years….

But they didn’t flock to me in their hundreds.

They didn’t throw their credit cards at me.

They didn’t flow to me with ease.

Why?

Because I made it easy for them not to!

I discounted my offers before they’d even asked the price.

I posted adverts in FB just once or twice, not consistently.

I threw money at FB post boosting without any clue what I was doing (actually FB ads is still on my to-do list to learn properly!)

And….I was living a life of struggle.

Not enough money to pay bills in full and on time.

Not enough money for holidays, meals out, new clothes and shoes.

Not enough money to eat an abundance of healthy food, nor supplements to help my health issues.

In fact, my nutrition business became about helping people to eat on a very small budget.

I was doing the very opposite of EXPANDING.

I was shrinking.

And it had to stop.

Ironically, I’d been doing all the ‘right’ things for years.

Positive mindset, learning about money blocks, staying away from energy vampires…

But it wasn’t enough.

I had to look INSIDE ME.

Angel cards and moon rituals helped me to RECONNECT to me. To the spirit deep inside me that had been crying to get out for so long.

I talked to her. I cried. I journalled. I had lightbulb moments.

And then I had a dream…

A dream that confirmed what the angel cards had been telling me repeatedly:

‘Your life purpose involves reading, editing, writing or selling spiritual books.’

Boom!

There it was.

I’d spent 21 years writing all my own content for my nutrition and fitness business. 21 years of being published in magazines, speaking on the radio, running a local magazine, writing nutrition programmes, creating recipe e-books and, of course, typing thousands of words every week across social media platforms.

I knew how to write! I even had qualifications in English language, literature and creative writing.

I loved to write…. even engaging with other people’s posts I’d always write the longest responses (sometimes more is more, honest!).

So why was I holding back? Why wasn’t I using these skills to help others? What could I offer the world? How could I best serve my purpose?

Suddenly everything became clear. The kind of clarity that makes you wonder how you could ever have NOT seen this before!

And of course, once you SEE, you cannot un-see.

The Soulful Word was born.

No more procrastinating and playing small.

No more keeping my talents hidden from the world.

No more struggle and scarcity.

It was time to help other women shine brilliantly by helping them get their passion, mission and dreams into words so they could share their gifts with the world and create the impact they longed for. 

In helping others, I shine brighter myself.

So, if you’re struggling, ask yourself ‘how can I best serve?’

Then listen carefully to what your inner feminine wisdom tells you.

Don’t shut her out.

Don’t block her voice any longer.

She wants to be heard.

Then take those words, combine them with your natural, intuitive gifts (and all those qualifications and courses you’ve taken over the years) and share your amazing energy with the world.

Stand up proud.

Look everyone in the eye.

And shout from the rooftops with love and integrity.

Girl, you’ve got this!

Lorraine xx

 

If you like this blog you might also enjoy: Living your Truth in Life and Business

What does Freedom mean to you?

The theme of FREEDOM has come up so many times for me recently that I’m taking it as a nudge from the Universe to write about it today!

In the online business space we hear (or read) the word freedom a lot…

  • Freedom from financial stress.
  • Freedom from insecurities and fears.
  • Freedom from feeling stuck with no clients.
  • Freedom from tech gremlins.
  • Freedom from the corporate lifestyle.

And, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling a desire to break free from the consumerism culture that dominates our modern world.

Perhaps you’re thinking about how you can celebrate Christmas without the endless amounts of plastic packaging and buying presents just because you feel you should.

Or maybe you’re trying to step away from negativity and toxicity to give you the space and freedom needed to connect with more people who hold the same values as you in terms of authenticity, integrity, honesty, love and compassion.

So what does freedom mean to you in your life?

On Instagram, the hashtag #freedomlifestyle has over 145,000 posts but is dwarfed by #laptoplifestyle with 1.2 million posts! A sure sign that more and more people are looking for an existence with meaning; a lifestyle that allows them more time to do the things they are passionate about and less time simply working to pay the bills.

Do you feel you have enough freedom in your life?

Time to grab a notepad and allow your thoughts to spill out onto paper…

Do you have time freedom to do all the activities, sports, hobbies and courses you’d love to do?

Do you have financial freedom to live the lifestyle you desire, or to travel on wild adventures?

Do you have health freedom to live every day to the full, free from pain or illness?

Do you have voice freedom to speak up and share your truth or stand up for what you believe in?

Do you have spiritual freedom to just be yourself; to be comfortable in your own skin and shine brilliantly as who you really are?

Are there any areas where you feel you don’t have the freedom you desire?

If so, what could you change?

How could you make today different?

Remember, you are the only one with the power to change your life. External events may test us or take us to deep, dark places, but ultimately, you are the only one who can shift your mindset and live the life that makes you truly contented and filled with joy.

I’d love to hear what freedom means to you.

Do hit reply and share your thoughts, I personally respond to every email I receive.

Lorraine xx

 

Like this blog? You might also love Busyness v. Stillness

Why Creativity is the Key to Saving Our Planet

When you were a child, did you used to enjoy making things just for the fun of it?

Did you find yourself lost in time building Lego houses, drawing pictures or creating collages with random scraps of material, buttons and ribbon? Perhaps you used to knit, crochet or sew, collect flowers for your flower press or make geometric patterns with a Spirograph?

Wasn’t it relaxing to just sit and make stuff?

And then…. we grew up. Our studies got serious, our jobs and social lives took hold and then we settled down with a mortgage, a puppy and a couple of children. Or at least some variation of that!

Suddenly we had no time or inclination to sit and create. The only time we read a whole book from front to back was on holiday by the pool. And then technology came along and swiped even more of our time away with videos and games we never even knew we needed.

Our whole lives became about consuming rather than creating.

We found ourselves on a treadmill of constant consumption. And it drained our energy, our life force, our innovation and our creativity.

In some strange way it’s as if we needed to get to this point today; a world in which Black Friday shopping madness, ocean plastic garbage patches and the highest rates of obesity and depression ever recorded are the norm.

It’s time for us to wake up and realise that we all carry the light within; the light that will save us and our planet from darkness.

“It’s only one straw. Said 8 billion people.”

Together, we are the catalyst for change.

United, we are the ripple effect.

Change begins inside you. It starts small. One less cheap t-shirt, one less plastic bottle, one less car on the road.

But just as most people fail in food diets because they focus on what’s being removed from their lives – the things they’re no longer ‘allowed’ – it’s important that we switch our mindsets away from scarcity and lack. Instead, we must focus on abundance, ease and flow.

And the easiest way to switch your mindset is by starting with gratitude.

Feeling grateful for all the small things naturally steers you away from over-consuming – in any form.

And once you stop consuming so much, you re-awaken your creativity.

You’re drawn to pottering in the garden, buying a set of paints or dusting off the old camera.

You feel an urge to declutter your wardrobe, take up hiking or start a vegan diet.

You’re inclined to spend time outdoors with your children or joining them in art and craft fun.

What have you felt drawn to?

I’ve noticed a big shift in our consciousness since 2012 – although I wasn’t aware of what was happening at the time. So many people I meet in person and through the online space have been on a journey of awakening. We’ve quit corporate jobs, taken our children out of mainstream schools, started our own businesses and begun a path of creativity and innovation. We’ve not been afraid to step out and show our unique gifts, talents and lifestyles to the world.

Perhaps you feel like you’ve been riding the same wave too?

It’s a wave of love, honesty, integrity and authenticity.

It’s a wave of connection, community, collaboration and compassion.

It’s a wave of self-awareness, reflection, personal growth and alignment.

I may not be a surfer chick, or even a water baby, but I’m riding this wave all the way!

I’m actively swapping my consumption for creation. I’ve got out the sewing machine, I’m digging out the knitting needles and I’m keen to try making a macrame wall hanging. (My godmother once taught me macrame knotting with the cords attached to her spiral staircase back in the late 1970s – how hard could it be now?!)

I feel a deep desire to create, from a place of love and meaning, every single day and I’d love to know if you feel the same?

Lorraine xx

If you’d like to read more about this subject you might like my recent blogs: The True Cost of Fast Fashion or Greed, Consumerism and the Era of Change

The True Cost of Fast Fashion

For Shima and Nadia,

Last night, armed with a bowl of homemade pumpkin and sweet potato curry, a warm blanket and my fluffy house bunny hopping around, I sat down to watch The True Cost documentary by Andrew Morgan about fast fashion and its effects on the environment and human suffering.

Having seen the trailer beforehand, I knew it was going to be difficult viewing in places, but I hadn’t anticipated being so touched by one particular story: the life of a young woman named Shima and her daughter Nadia.

If our world has got to the point where a 23 year old woman in Bangladesh has to give up her daughter just so we can have cheap clothing, then something has gone seriously wrong.

And I, for one, don’t want to be part of the problem.

In the west, we have choices and a voice. Not everyone is so lucky.

Have you ever been to your boss to ask for a pay rise? If so, you were probably asked a few questions about why you thought you should be paid more and then went on to negotiate the exact sum. Worse case scenario, your boss would have said ‘no’ and that would have been the end of it.

In Bangladesh, by contrast, when Shima and her fellow union workers asked for a pay increase they were locked inside the garment factory and physically beaten. All for asking for just a few dollars more a month to be able to live with dignity.

Many of these workers (85% female) are working long shifts, day after day, in poor, crowded conditions for less than US$150 a month. Of course, you can argue that living costs are lower in other parts of the world, and that’s true, but when other human lives are paying such an enormous cost and living in suffering for our short-term pleasure (how much joy does that £5.99 t-shirt bring you anyway?), then the system is seriously broken.

While we as individuals may not be able to change the world, together we can make a difference.

  • The first step is education and awareness. Watch documentaries like The True Cost (and other environmental movies such as Cowspiracy, A Plastic Ocean and Before The Flood) to learn more about the bigger picture. It’s so easy to think that this one plastic bottle or this one cheap t-shirt won’t have a negative effect, or to believe that your positive contribution won’t make a difference because millions of others are still trashing the planet, but it’s not true. Every little step we can take makes us part of the bigger picture and part of the change.
  • Every time you learn something new, share it! Talk to your family, friends and colleagues. Share a photo on social media, write a blog, post a video or organise an event to bring your community together. Spreading awareness is vital and will make you part of the catalyst for change.
  • Vote with your money. The plastic problem has now been headline news for some time and we’re all becoming more aware and (slowly) changing our daily habits. However, the true cost of fast fashion isn’t such a widely acknowledged problem. In the western world we simply want more and more stuff at a cheaper cost. And somewhere in the supply chain, something has to give. For fast fashion, it’s the lives and suffering of garment factory workers. In order to drive down costs factory bosses have to skip vital health and safety precautions, putting lives in danger every single day. (The Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka in April 2013 killed 1,134 workers.)
  • Change your mindset. We’ve become a throwaway culture due to the marketing practices of the last fifty or so years that brought us both planned and perceived obsolescence. For the younger generations, that’s all we’ve ever known. Things break, we replace them. In the past we used to repair goods and clothing and pass furniture down through generations – now it’s a quick trip to the shops and we have something brand new. But what do we do with all our old stuff? The vast majority simply gets thrown into landfill and as it takes hundreds or even thousands of years to break down, it’s still sitting somewhere on the planet, even if you can’t see it. Perceived obsolescence makes consumers believe that they need an updated version of a product, even though theirs works perfectly well – e.g. cars, smartphones, computers and fast fashion. Before you buy anything new, consider how you may dispose of it after use and whether there’s an alternative that’s better for the planet (even if that means spending a little more money).
  • Support people and organisations who are striving to make a difference. Seek out local environmentalists and activists who are organising events and either share the details with others to reach a bigger audience, or go along in person and meet like-minded people. Buy from organisations who share the same ethics and values as you: companies that are reducing packaging, supporting fair trade and workers’ rights and lowering their carbon footprint.
  • Before you buy any more clothes or shoes, empty everything from your wardrobe (including coats, accessories and bags) and take an honest look at everything you have. Donate things you no longer wear, repair anything you love that needs fixing, and cut up old, stained shirts into squares to use as cleaning cloths. Reduce the amount of clothes you have and then only buy specific items chosen on purpose to be part of your new capsule wardrobe. Don’t forget to look in charity shops or buy second hand or organise swap parties with friends.

You can buy The True Cost on iTunes for just £5.99 or visit truecostmovie.com.

Lorraine xx

How do you consume social media?

In the last twenty years our lifestyle habits have changed beyond recognition. Gone are the days of large bulky television sets with metal aerials and manual buttons or chatting to your friends after school in a cold hallway with a bulky telephone and stretchy, coiled cable twirled around your fingers!

Instead, we stream music and movies via cloud services and communicate via video and photo messaging apps on tiny devices more powerful than we ever imagined possible.

While the enormous benefits of technology continue to enhance our modern lives and make communication instant and effortless, there is a darker side that can swallow our souls and drain our creativity, leaving us feeling empty and more alone than ever.

While I was in England recently, I did a little bit of research into people’s social media habits on public transport. (Ok, yes, I was a little bit nosey!) It happened purely by chance as I was sat behind a young girl on a bus. I noticed in just a few seconds that every picture that came up on her Instagram feed was of young, glamorous women, many in semi-naked, sexual poses and all wearing a lot of make up and sporting the essential pout. As the mother of teenage daughters, I instantly felt a sense of sadness that so many young women need to feel validated by portraying themselves in this way. Their self-esteem is boosted with Likes and Followers – but, just like an Instagram post, this feeling of elation is short lived.

It was this experience that led me to ask the question:

How do you consume social media?

If I’m totally honest, I think that if I was a young woman today, I’d probably consume social media in exactly the same way. In my late teens I was confident yet insecure, dressed for sex appeal but hated parts of my body. With the benefit of hindsight I can see how my behaviour, lifestyle, actions and beliefs all stemmed from that insecurity.

If you’re a woman over about 35, you’ll probably feel lucky that you grew up in an era pre-social media, where you weren’t bombarded with unrealistic images every few seconds; an era where you just simply hung out in pubs and clubs with your friends and chatted to people face to face.

But back to the question… how do you consume social media?

For many millions of people, their smartphone is the first thing they look at in the morning and the last thing they look at before bed. Couples and families are messaging each other from different parts of the house (or even next to each other in bed!) and commuters are plugged into their devices while shoppers walk down the high street sending text messages. Even drivers risk their lives using mobile phones while they’re on the road (if that’s you, please stop!).

I think it’s the word CONSUME that’s important here. We live in a consumer-led world where almost everything is available 24/7. We’ve become impatient, greedy, needy and always searching for the next fix.

When we consume constantly, we aren’t giving ourselves the chance to think and form our own opinions; we simply regurgitate what we’ve heard, read or seen.

If you stop consuming, you give yourself the opportunity to create; to be innovative, adventurous and excited.

When I made the decision to stop watching the news, reading newspapers and mindlessly consuming junk TV, something amazing happened…

My creativity skyrocketed!

Suddenly I could hear my inner voice and felt more aligned to my core truth and values.

I rediscovered all the things that fuelled my creativity as a child. I realised I had a whole unique set of gifts and talents that I’d never used before or had kept locked away for years.

I actively sought out the things, places and people that made me happy and in doing so, I became happier and happier. The need for instant gratification on social media waned as did the desire to watch mainstream television.

As a teenager, if I’d missed out on watching the programme that everyone was talking about I’d have felt left out and different. But now, I revel in the fact that I create the life that I want to live. I don’t mind being different because what I’m doing lights me up.

If you dream of living a different life, start by looking at how you consume social media and mainstream television, radio and press.

  • Do you use social media for more than 2-3 hours a day?
  • If you use social media for business, do you have a specific boundary between creating content and consuming? (FYI: Action taking helps you grow your business, not simply consuming more and more content.)
  • Do you watch television simply because it’s there and because you always have done?
  • How do you feel about switching your phone apps and notifications off for a day?
  • Do you charge your phone or other devices in the bedroom and use them when you wake up and before you sleep?

Switching your lifestyle is not something most people can do overnight, however, it is possible to make one switch at a time until you get to a point where you feel that your creative mojo is back in the building!

  • If you’re a sensitive empath, cutting out news bulletins and papers with horrific headlines from your life will make a massive difference to your energy levels. (I never realised how much I was affected my whole life until I stopped for 6 weeks. Even now I can still remember major news events of the 1980s that have stuck with me for life.)
  • Cutting down on blue screen usage before bed improves your sleep pattern and relaxation – so stop using your laptop or phone an hour before bed (at least) and charge it outside the bedroom if possible.
  • Switch an hour of evening television for an hour of your favourite creative or sporty activity. Or go for a walk, meet friends, do some gardening or declutter a cupboard in the house.
  • Set yourself time limits for scrolling social media or answering emails. As soon as you realise that you’re deep inside a video loop of cute kittens, kitchen gadgets or random people doing silly pranks, it’s time to step away from the phone!
  • Call friends and family instead of using messaging apps. It gives you time to focus your love and energy on that one person instead of multi tasking between tabs. Wouldn’t you rather feel special too?
  • Have a ban on smart phones at the dinner table – kids AND parents! Talk to each other….

If you’ve been feeling like you need to boost your creativity, energy and happiness, then maybe today is the day to ask yourself the question:

How do I consume social media?

Lorraine xx

Busyness v. Stillness

Once upon a time I was a mother of two little children, rushing around from one activity to the next, surrounded by a sea of plastic toys and answering hundreds of random questions every day.

I was always busy, always thinking, always moving. I never stopped. A ‘mummy drink’ of Bacardi and coke and a generous portion of reality TV simply numbed the senses but didn’t really allow me to switch off.

I got irritated really easily, kicked toys, drove too fast and ate a lot of chocolate.

My body, mind and soul were constantly swept up in a tornado of ‘doing’ and ‘stuff’.

Fast forward a few years and in contrast to busyness, I now enjoy stillness.

The change did not happen overnight. It’s been a long process of aligning to my inner truths and core values; a journey of learning to understand and love the real me on the inside.

Because, the truth is this…

Sometimes we just get swept up with life. The boyfriend, the house, the wedding, the baby, the nursery, the toys, the school, the activities, the jobs, the money, the food, the shopping, the socialising. The endless accumulation of stuff to do and stuff to own. We find ourselves constantly irritated by minor things and filling the void with food, alcohol, caffeine, sugar or substances. (Because stuff does not equal contentment.)

I realised I had enough stuff in my life. In fact, I had too much. All this stuff was drowning my spirit and making me stressed and overwhelmed.

There wasn’t one point at which I suddenly said ‘that’s enough!’, it was a gradual process; a mirror of the process it took to get there. The layers piled on and now they needed peeling off again.

When I moved from a bungalow in 2013 I had ten years of stuff in the loft to clear out. Every painting and drawing the girls had ever made, every pair of shoes they’d ever worn, every outfit, every toy, every blanket, every photo … plus there were boxes of mine and my ex-husband’s that we’d not looked at since the late 90s! Emptying the loft took longer than emptying the actual main living space. (Although, carrying boxes down a ladder every day for three weeks is great for your legs and bum! #silverlinings)

In the last five years what’s changed the most is the realisation that I need stillness, calm, peace and time to reflect every day. Not just once a week for an hour between other activities, I need it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

When I’m out with friends, networking or at an event, I love being with people. I love listening to their stories and finding out what lights them up and fuels their creative passion. When I’m with my children I love to listen to their stories of school, work, social media and friendships and understand what makes them tick as they grow into amazing young adults. And when I’m by myself I love to just BE. To look up at the clouds and watch the trees swaying in the wind, to spend quiet time with a purring cat on my lap or watching my bunnies wash their faces or eat daisies – stem first (it’s the cutest thing!).

As a small business owner I’ve tried making schedules and timetables and plans but I’ve realised that they don’t work for me because they don’t allow for time to just be. This precious time (and precious moments with children, partners and pets or in nature) can’t be allocated within a spreadsheet. Sometimes you have to seize the moment or the opportunity when it presents itself. If you’re trying to stick to a schedule then you’ll always feel like you failed, even if you actually took time off to do something that made you feel great.

So, what really changed over the last five to ten years? How did I get from overwhelmed, rushing, stressed out mummy to calm, serene business owner?

  • I switched my mindset. I read The Gratitude Diaries, Eat Pray Love, Big Magic and countless other books that helped me to live life from a place of gratitude, not scarcity. I wrote daily gratitude lists and made more time to enjoy the simple things in life. 
  • I cut drama and negativity out of my life. I stopped watching the news, daytime TV, reading newspapers and reading the negative comments across social media. I actually sold my TV too! Now I watch just the documentaries, movies or programmes that I choose, online, at my preferred time.
  • I began decluttering. I realised that simply tidying the stuff from one room to another or rearranging it into yet more plastic storage boxes simply wasn’t working! The stagnant energy was still sitting there. Slowly, I’ve reduced our possessions to perhaps a tenth of what we had back in 2013. I’m working on creating a capsule wardrobe where I love everything in it and every item fits me well and makes me feel great. This stops that ‘I have nothing to wear’ scenario and reduces the stress of washing mountains or packing for holidays.
  • I stopped trying to make everything fit and just tuned in to ME. I realised that I was happiest when I wasn’t constantly trying to be something that I wasn’t. I shared more of the real me online which attracted more of my ‘tribe’. Now with an amazing, extended group of like-minded people all around me, I feel supported, respected and loved. And the best part is that I get to make others feel good too! #connectionsandcommunity
  • I switched back to a mainly vegetarian diet somewhere around 2012 … and then tried four months as a raw vegan before ending up at a 95% plant-based diet that suited me and my family really well. In the last year I’ve committed to a completely plant-based lifestyle and the last pieces all fell into place. Love, compassion, peace, kindness, stillness, nature, lunar cycles and Mother Earth – it all fits together like a beautiful hand made wooden puzzle.
  • Plus (and you may not like these!), I stopped drinking diet coke, rarely drink alcohol and never drink black tea or coffee. Before switching to a plant-based diet I’d also stopped eating over-processed milk chocolate bars (like the ones in purple wrappers) and switched to dairy-free dark chocolate instead. So, basically, cut the caffeine, sugar and alcohol and you’ll feel much less stressed! Eating a healthy, vegetable and fruit rich diet with primarily home cooked foods will support and nourish your body.

So that’s me, now it’s over to you…

  • What can you do today to bring more stillness, calm and joy into your life?
  • What can you do today to reduce the amount of stress and overwhelm you feel? Where do you need to be honest with yourself? What difficult conversations do you need to have? Where do you need support?
  • What can you do today to connect with people that will lift you up, support your goals and make you feel great? How can you make other people feel loved, respected and heard?

 

Lorraine xx

If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive the silence?

‘If the song of my heart ceases to play, can I survive the silence?’

– Shonda Rhimes

When you suddenly realise you’ve lost the joy in your life, the silence can be deafening.

You pause for a while, looking in on your life from above, like an out-of-body experience. You barely recognise who you’ve become.

 

Where did the vibrant young woman go? What happened to her dreams?

Where was the laughter, the music, the giggling, the song?

Where was the dancing in the rain and the wind-swept hair?

❤︎

When was the last time you felt excitement, like the fizzing magnetism of a first date kiss?

When was the last time you felt truly fulfilled – your heart overflowing like marshmallows and whipped cream piled high on a steaming mug of hot chocolate?

When was the last time you didn’t get through a whole week on autopilot? Numb to the simple pleasures of life and a slave to something you can’t even put into words.

❤︎

When you’re broken and burnt out, or just feeling totally empty, there IS a way to find the magic again.

You see, the magic is LOVE.

Always has been, always will be.

The secret to turning your life around isn’t really a secret at all.

It’s about living each moment with love – in its simplest form.

Play. Laugh. Write. Run. Paint. Stretch. Sleep. Create. Give. Cook. Share. Sing. Dance.

Indulge your soul for 15 minutes a day doing something that brings you pure joy.

Fifteen minutes.      900 seconds.       1% of your day.

Everyone can find 15 minutes…

  •   The more you do the things that light you up, the more creative and enthusiastic you’ll feel about other projects in life.
  •   The more you follow you heart, the more you’ll attract the right people and opportunities in to your life to help you reach your personal or business goals.
  •   The more you tune in and listen to the whispers of your soul, the more aligned you’ll feel and life will begin to flow effortlessly.

 

As Shonda Rhimes says, in her TED talk My year of saying yes to everything:

‘The more I play, the happier I am and the happier my kids are.

I said YES to less work and more play and somehow I still run my world.’