Yet each time there’s a protest by Extinction Rebellion, thousands of people take to social media to leave negative comments, criticise each protestor’s lifestyle and, in many cases, deliberately write nasty, abusive words that make the rest of us scream on the inside with utter despair.
If you’re one of those commenters, you’re missing the point.
The whole idea of any protest is to raise awareness and create change.
And in order to do that, protests must disrupt either governments, businesses or the public.
David Attenborough wouldn’t have created mass awareness about global warming and environmental issues without the help of the BBC and a huge team of scientists and digital crew.
Greenpeace wouldn’t have created mass awareness of the atrocities of whaling without their demonstrations back in the 1980s.
Animal rights groups wouldn’t have created mass awareness of testing on animals and barbaric fur farms without breaking in and releasing thousands of beagles, mink and rabbits.
While not every one of us desires to be (or even needs to be) a front line activist, these protests, events and online campaigns do motivate us – as both individuals and large corporations – to make changes.
As a vegetarian teenager back in the 80s, I was deeply saddened to find out about animal testing and instantly made the switch to The Body Shop’s products – a company at the forefront of the cruelty-free movement thirty years ago.
Extinction Rebellion are no different. They’re simply trying to make us aware of a global issue that will, in a very short period of time, affect every single one of us alive.
Of course, being stuck in traffic or late for work is an inconvenience, but it’s a tiny drop in the ocean to how life might be if we run out of food and water.
Fancy living in a war zone or an overpopulated town with mass looting?
Or how about a country with mass inflation where a loaf of bread costs £100?
Or losing your home to rising sea levels and having to flee inland as a refugee?
No. Me neither.
And remember… if you’re able to read this on a smartphone from the luxury of your own home on a comfy sofa with a glass of wine, you’re one of the privileged few.
For now anyway.
Each person who takes part in a protest has their own reasons for doing so. We can’t all take part, just as we aren’t all willing to give up our cars or stop eating meat.
So herein lies the issue.
We’ve become an incredibly intolerant society jumping on the bandwagon and leaving vitriolic comments on social media posts that are simply highlighting events designed to help humanity as a whole.
I’ve read so many comments today where people feel they have the right to suggest that each protestor probably still uses a gas-guzzling 4×4 vehicle or takes a plane on holiday each year.
This kind of attitude implies that only the ‘purest’ of citizens have a right to protest for change.
How ridiculously twisted is that?
None of us are perfect.
And that’s ok.
Because in terms of climate change, that would mean we’d all have to live off grid, grow our own food, walk everywhere and eschew computers and wifi.
Hey, we’d even have to all live off lentil soup (because yes, someone did actually throw that one into a Facebook comments thread today!).
Assuming we could even harvest that many lentils from our small piece of land that is.
The point is, the bullying and trolling on social media is disgusting and disgraceful.
And it has to stop.
If you have time to make negative comments about climate change issues when other people are actually trying to help you to live a better life in the future, then you really need to find a new hobby to keep you busy.
Devil, idle hands. Just sayin’.
Currently, we all have a choice.
We can choose to eat less meat, take part in beach cleans, use a bike instead of a car or refuse to buy items in plastic.
We can choose to write blogs, make videos, start eco-friendly companies or speak in schools about the issues currently facing planet Earth.
Many choose to actively take part in protests, even if it means risking arrest or the abuse of those who disagree.
In the western world we’re lucky to live in a democracy where free speech is allowed. Not everyone has that choice to speak up for what they believe in.
So before you leave another ill-informed, abusive or even sarcastic comment, ask yourself this:
Am I contributing to this discussion in a way that is positive, polite and constructive?
Remember that it’s easy to pick on minority groups and those whose beliefs differ from ours.
It’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and fire off loaded words.
But that doesn’t make it right.
Will you do the right thing today?
Fancy reading more about environmental issues? You might like this blog ‘The True Cost of Fast Fashion’.
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!
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…
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?
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.
A Love Note to Jersey – First published in The Jersey Life Magazine May 2018
I am soooo happy to see that yesterday’s blog about meal prepping without plastic packaging was such a big hit with my audience! It hit the same level as The True Cost of Fast Fashion and Busyness v. Stillness which tells me one AMAZING thing about you….
That you’re looking for ways to help the environment, you’re compassionate and you’re craving ways to find inner peace in a crazy, messed-up world.
And if you’re taking the time to read blogs like this (thank you so much from the bottom of my heart) then chances are, you’re looking for ways to take action!
This makes me feel an incredible wave of excitement and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.
The more of us who are making small, daily changes really are the ones who will change the world; reversing climate change and environmental damage and balancing wealth between nations so no-one dies of starvation while others are throwing billions of tonnes of food away each year. (Because that’s the naked truth right now.)
I’ve been lucky enough to make changes slowly and gradually, which as we all know is generally the way to make new lifestyle habits stick.
But right now we don’t have that luxury.
Recent reports state we may have as little as twelve years to reverse some of the damage to our planet to allow nature to replenish and repopulate itself.
So, what can you do to be part of the change?
Read, listen, watch, learn. Research the facts, follow people across social media who are taking action, making a difference and sharing their knowledge and love with the world.
Learnt something new? Found a great article? Watched a good documentary? SHARE IT! It only takes a click or two on social media and instantly it falls into the laps of hundreds of people. Creating a ripple effect is easy.
Stop buying food produce wrapped in plastic. Sure, the avocados may not be as ripe, but once you get into the habit of doing it every few days, soon you’ll find a routine where you always have ripe avocados at home!
Ditto for pre-chopped vegetables and fruit in plastic. Yes, it’s a time saver but making time to prepare and cook your own meals from scratch will help you find that inner peace you’ve been craving. It teaches patience and allows us quiet time in the kitchen to reconnect to our food.
Think before you buy, anything! Clothes, shoes, technology, take-out food, toys, make-up and toiletries…. Stop and consider (a) if you really need this item, (b) if this item brings you joy and makes you feel really, truly happy on the inside (rather than simply keeping up with the Jones’s or following a trend), (c) how you might dispose of it (or its packaging) when you no longer have a use for it, and (d) by buying this item, are you taking away from another dream? I.e. by spending money here and now on this item, will it stop you achieving another goal (like buying a house, travelling, saving for retirement, fixing the house, seeing the dentist etc.).
Following on from the above point, is there a way you can buy or acquire a pre-loved version of this item? Clothes and household items are easily available second-hand and often will be more unique and save you money. (Win-win for achieving those financial dreams!)
Join in with a community project. We’re all passionate about different things and some will tug at your heart more than others. Follow your heart and make a difference in your community. Beach clean ups, cooking for a homeless charity, supporting a screening of a documentary about refugees, giving your time as a volunteer…. or even starting up your own local project or awareness campaign. The choices are endless. But stop sitting around talking about it and just do it!
When you take consistent action on these seven steps, then not only will you feel more contentment and peace in your life, but you’ll have helped others and you’ll know that, even when the results are not yet visible, you’ll have made more than a dent in planet Earth’s recovery.
If we all come together to make a difference, collectively we can make our grandchildren’s future a far more exciting prospect.
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!
Our main breakfast was a chocolate-oat smoothie bowl topped with toasted coconut, almond butterand 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.
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.
ThenI 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,
Cacao energy balls sprinkled with toasted coconut… just because 😉
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 how you want your life to look.
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.
Every day we see images of war torn countries, extreme weather conditions and the visible impact of human destruction: oceans filled with plastic, rainforests stripped bare and animals hunted to the point of extinction.
Just as the damage to our planet runs deep, so do the wounds that break our hearts.
If you’re a compassionate human being or an empath with heightened sensitivities, you’ve probably reached the point where you know that you have to do something to make a change; that you can no longer simply sit back and let someone else sort everything out.
It’s these small changes that help us to move forward and, collectively, will really make a difference.
So, at a time when you may well be choosing to buy less plastic packaging, opt for secondhand clothes and furniture or switch to natural toiletries and cleaning products, I want to ask you to stop for a moment and take a breath.
A deep, slow breath in…. and out.
Then ask yourself this question…
What makes me feel really good inside?
The things that make us feel good stem from the choices we make that are aligned to, or in tune with, our core values. The things that make us feel bad, icky or angry are usually the things that are the polar opposites to our values (or trigger a reaction to make us take a moment of self-reflection).
In the same way as our planet has come so far from the natural, unspoilt world it was just a few hundred years ago, we too veer off course and find ourselves living a life that sometimes feels a bit wrong.
It may look like a perfectly happy, normal life to others, but on the inside we aren’t feeling fulfilled.
And frequently we feel guilty for not feeling fulfilled when clearly we have so much more than others – like a roof over our heads, a healthy bank balance, happy children and a regular, well paid job.
The same can be true in business. We may have left the security of a corporate role to set up our own small business from home and yet it isn’t paying off with the freedom and joy we expected.
Or perhaps our business is thriving but we feel like it isn’t making us truly happy; like it’s gone off track and become something we had never expected.
In both life and business, we can easily end up living a life that pleases other people (or our customers) and forget about what really lights us up. What makes us feel good inside?
The secret to living your truth in both life and business, is to always come back to your inner truth and core values.
Think about what really lights you up – the things that give you a giant warm, fuzzy heart or butterflies in your stomach – and then do more of that!
Every time things start to feel difficult, perhaps with money problems, arguments with loved ones or frequent illness, take an honest look at what’s been going on in your life and how you may have strayed from your true path and values.
It’s not a bad thing to veer off course, if anything it can actually be helpful in giving us clarity around the things that really matter. It’s the same with following a healthy eating plan – you don’t realise how much your previous unhealthy diet was making you sick until you slip off track and resume your old habits. Each time you revert to the fresh, whole food, healthy diet you feel great again.
Time and time again we repeat this pattern and each time our commitment grows stronger.
If you feel like your business, personal life, relationships or health have gone off track, take some time today to consider what really matters to you and how you will take action to get back on course to living a life aligned to your inner truth.
When was the last time you noticed the breeze on your skin? Or the last time you stood by the sea on a stormy day and felt the droplets of salty water shower your body? Or the last time you were in a forest as the wind whistled through the trees?
It’s a strange phenomenon that despite living on a planet controlled by the forces of nature, so many people are totally disconnected from the world around them.
Instead of tuning into the cycles of the moon, the seasons or the rising sun, we tune into the blue screens of smart phones, the artificial stimulation of caffeine or sugar and jump straight from home to car to office without a passing nod to nature.
Of course, many of you reading this blog will not feel this way. Like me, you probably notice the colours of the sunrise, the formation of clouds in the sky, the fresh pink petals of spring blossom and the light of the full moon shining on the sea.
But there are times for all of us when life simply gets too chaotic, overwhelming or stressful and we revert to the pattern of the modern day human. We stop eating mindfully and choose less healthy foods, we get snappy and irritable with friends and family or we retreat inwards to our televisions or phone apps and lose connection to the natural world.
However you’re feeling today, whether it’s connected to nature or stuck in your own deep, dark hole, or maybe somewhere in between, take a few moments to stand outside and feel the wind or the breeze on your face.
What does the wind look like? Are the clouds rushing past or are the trees or flowers completely still? Are birds floating effortlessly in the sky or struggling to take off? Are the waves of the sea lapping up against the sea wall or is the ocean flat and shiny?
Now close your eyes and allow your other senses to take over.
How does the wind feel? Does it lightly tickle your skin or is it howling past your ears?
How does the wind sound? Is there a roaring, crashing ocean nearby or is there a serene stillness?
Stick out your tongue… how does the wind taste?
Take a few deep breaths and try to smell the wind. Is there a fresh salty sea air smell? Or an earthy smell from the forest?
Now open your eyes and have a walk around. What message is the wind bringing you today?
Perhaps ask the wind directly: ‘What message do you have for me?’
Take a mental (or written) note of the words or feelings that come up for you and come back to them throughout the day.
The messages, words, thoughts or feelings you received from the wind are simply a way to tune into your inner voice. They’re messages from your soul that you can use to shape your direction, your choices and your lifestyle.
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?
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 Costdocumentary 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.