dear diary ~ no time to stand and stare…

It was a long day yesterday. I certainly had no time to stand and stare as the poem goes by William Henry Davies.

Master Freddie arrived at 8.15am and even he was not as lively as usual. It would normally be his day to be at home rather than going to nursery so that might explain it as I think he would usually have a bit of a lie in.

I felt like a lie in myself after waking at 5am and then not getting back to sleep….I eventually gave in and got up at 6.30am and pottered around until Freddie arrived, but then found myself yawning through the day with little concentration. Before lunch we played together at Lego (making monster trucks), a few board games and a little artistic painting (as the first photo shows) and in between I was able to sneak off upstairs to do more ironing whilst DH entertained him.

I discovered that I had no eggs in the fridge and there were none at the Co-op in the village either – every shelf bare, so the baking will have to be done today after we shop in Sainsbury’s.

It was bitterly cold again yesterday – our walk to the village and back with Freddie was brisk and we called in at the library to get warmed up a bit while Freddie chose no end of unsuitable books – either too young or too old. Eventually, we agreed on a smaller pile suitable for his age. He really likes the bit at the end when we place all the books in the checking out machine and he can do all the touch screen operations to scan and borrow the books…… and then wait for a receipt to pop out. I had to persuade him that the elderly lady behind us probably wanted to check out her own books without his help!!

Whilst in the village library I picked up a programme for the ‘Woven 2023’ event to take place in Kirklees between 3rd June and 9th July.

There is a brilliant list of events and workshops all based on textiles – knitting, sewing, macrame, mending and dyeing and if any readers live nearby it may be well worth a visit to any one of them.

The draw back for me is that most of them require pre booking and I am never sure with our comings and goings and childcare if a future day and time is going to be suitable.

Even the greenhouse felt cold yesterday and the seeds didn’t need any more water. The thick blanket of cloud made it a very dull day and the odd shower meant that the towels are still drying on the clothes horse inside. Just what you need when you are expecting visitors! Thankfully, we have two spare -ish rooms so I don’t feel like we are living in a Chinese laundry but I do like to get my washing outside to dry when I can. Maybe today will be better, but so far it is disappointingly overcast.

When we visited mum last Thursday we had a quick look in Boyes in Yarm when we called to pick up some shopping for her. I love a good wander round any one of their stores and their prices are very reasonable.

They always have some nice wool and fabrics at reduced prices and I bought half a metre of this upholstery weight mustard printed cloth and the same of the red poppy cotton poplin. The mustard fabric is to make a bag(s) with…maybe for gifts, if I can team it up with something either co-ordinating or a plain colour. The red is to make some little bags with to hold tiny bars of scented soaps I got for presents.

Of course all I need now is the time to make them!

But first I need to attend to making and baking food for tomorrow – there are unexpected dietary needs that have come to light after talking to my SIL yesterday and so the menu I had planned may need to be modified or changed a little. I am sure I will cope but it just adds to the complexity of the hectic week we have had this week and we find ourselves shopping on a Saturday (the worst of all days in Sainsbury’s).


The well-being challenge

Wow – I could see from my stats page that so many of you linked through to the Andrew Weil page I mentioned for the breathing exercise that I expect he must think he is being stalked suddenly!

My breathing continues and I will now introduce you to my next step of the challenge to well-being.

One good thing yesterday was that I slept like a log from 10pm until 8.30 this morning. I certainly needed that sleep and renewal. Sleep will be my next topic of well-being to address. According to the English neuroscientist and sleep expert Matthew Walker, sleep is the foundation that supports diet and exercise. It should be our number one priority.

He says “Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain,”

I must say I have never thought of sleep in this way but it is true – how often do I watch a film that goes on after 10pm just to catch the end (when I could easily watch it at a better time on catch up). Or worse…continued to watch some rubbish program rather than go to bed and sleep.

Or even worse – writing a blog post when I had planned an early night.

Sleep has sometimes felt, like making a meal, an interuption to what I am doing.

Of course this is not helping my state of well-being and if my body and brain are not settling down to a good night’s sleep then presumably the parts that need to reboot and renew are left incomplete – a bit like putting on a wash cycle and not quite finishing it and being left with soggy, half rinsed and unspun washing to deal with.

Good sleep is vital for our body to recharge and repair and eight hours is recommended for this – six hours or fewer defines a lack of sleep. Sleep good or bad has a huge impact on our health and how long we live – so what could be more important.

Since being a child I have always needed a lot of sleep – on a good night I can easily sleep for 9 or 10 hours but more often I find it hard to drift off and it can be interupted and disturbed by needing to go to the bathroom and on a bad night those nine hours are reduced to only three or four.

What I aim to find out is – If I do sleep is it good quality sleep I am having?

And what is actually happening whilst I sleep?

Once I establish how I can improve my sleep I can form a plan to change and then review the changes.

If you want to hear about more of Matthew Walker’s work you can listen to this podcast on You Tube with Zoe Science and Nutrition who Matthew is currently working together with

Or Google Matthew Walker Sleep Expert

Have a good weekend everyone x

dear diary ~ well-being gets underway

No photos today as yesterday we had a trip up to see my mum – she lives in North Yorkshire 90 miles away and a day visit is rather exhausting and a bit hard on my back. She looks increasingly frail everytime we see her now but she seems more content in herself and has finally accepted she can do very little though she still talks about ‘when she gets better’ she will take us to x, y and z.

Its sad isn’t it as in reality she will never get any better. Which again leads me to think deeply about our own health and how to live the longest life and avoid chronic illness and mobility issues.

When I had thyroid cancer in 2008 I did a lot of research at that time to find anything helpful to recover my health. I say had cancer but the truth is I live everyday not knowing if I have any remaining rougue thyroid cells in my body – after two lots of radio active iodine treatment (not to be recommended as you become radioactive yourself!) there should be none but if there are there is no way for the doctors to know if they are cancerous unless they begin to grow and it can be picked up on the blood tests. With thyroid cancer patients the dose of medication (Levothyroxine) is always kept slightly higher than need be so that any lurking cancer is supressed.

At the time I came across a list termed The Heirarchy of Healing – a list of actions you can take that will improve any health condition starting at the top with the one that will have the most effect – although I saved the list I no longer have the link of where I found it.

Surprisingly, it is not food or exercise that is at the top of the heirarchy list but Meditation, Visualisation, Relaxation, Releasing emotions and of course Sleep that preceed these. I remember my own oncologist was a big supporter of this and would refer us on to a lady that did a meditation class every month for cancer patients.

Breathing correctly and deeply is part of this process.

One of the suggestions by many of the experts involved in healthcare that I have been listening to is practising some simple breathwork and one in particular I began whilst at the cottage (with all the new neighbour problems up there I needed a few relaxation techniques to control my blood pressure!).

The 4,7,8 breathing was developed by Dr Andrew Weil. For anyone interested in this technique just Google it or this is the link to his video

It is a simple technique, that only takes a few minutes, to be done twice a day (more if you are feeling quite stressed). I do it first thing in the morning and last thing at night and again mid afternoon. It does as it says on the tin – it calms the mind especially at night before sleep.

This is the logic behind it – ‘The sympathetic nervous system controls your body’s stress response. The parasympathetic nervous system controls your body’s rest and relaxation response. When you activate one of these, you suppress the other. This is why deep breathing is so effective at causing the relaxation response’.  Also ‘when you breathe through the nose a molecule called nitric oxide, is produced. Nitric oxide is a very important participant in the body’s defence against oxidative stress (free radicals). In addition it helps opens the airways so you get a higher concentration of oxygen into the tissues and the brain.

I have been practising this technique now for over three weeks and I can’t recommend it enough and is well worth having a go – it can be done anywhere even whilst making a cup of tea.

But has it made a difference to me?

Recently with all the anxiety I feel over our new ‘cottage’ neighbour, my mum’s declining health and the impending birth of our 4th grandchild (it has not been an easy pregnancy) I have gone to bed and been aware of a pounding heartbeat in my ears when I lay my head on the pillow. Those unwanted thoughts come crashing in to my mind as I am trying to go to sleep – doing the breathing technique for a few cycles eventually calms everything down again and surprisingly, I have gone on to sleep quite well.

In fact it has been a gradual realisation that over the last couple of weeks I have noticed I have slept better and have had many more nights where I have slept through the night uninterupted which is a big plus for me. Of course that might be from being thoroughly exhausted since arriving home and looking after Master Freddie, doing a lot more gardening than I should and the trip to see mum but I have frequently had exhausting situations before and gone to bed feeling really tired yet my sleep has been irratic and interupted and I have often laid awake for ages with unwanted thoughts whirling around.

So I would say this is one benefit I will be continuing with and I will see if my sleep patterns continue to improve.

So today is recovery day – there is washing to do, seeds to water and soup to make. It is now more than a week since we went shopping (we went on 3rd May) but I think with a bit of creativity I can stretch it further although I have a feeling come the weekend we might need some fresh food and there is no way I would want to shop on a Saturday or Sunday – if at all possible I will aim for next Monday and just pick up some milk and whatever fresh veg we need from the local village Co-op.

Have a good day everyone.

May contentment ~ the state of well-being

I chose the word CONTENTMENT at the beginning of this year to focus my mind and I now realise that I haven’t actually talked much about the progress I have made (or not!).

The dictionary states that contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction – a peaceful ease of mind or an absence of worry encompassing pleasure, comfort, gratification, gratitude, fulfilment and of course well-being.

Slowly I am learning to embrace contentment in many areas of my life. Due to the recent change in financial circumstances for all of us; price increases in food, energy and living costs, we like many people have had to drastically cut back to survive on our pension – so we are steadily getting used to buying less and doing without or making do for longer – in short being content with what we have and being more mindful of avoiding waste.

I quickly found last year when my chosen focus word was improvement that any small improvement I made in my life, whether that was completing a task that had lingered on the list for months or making some small change to the way I did something, the result was always one of satisfaction as you get when you tick of a job on your to do list – so taking this a step further this year I am purposely looking at what other improvements and changes I can make that will bring me a good deal of satisfaction and contentment.

DH will be 70 in a few days time and I will be close on his heels being the grand age of 69 come July. We are not planning a big event or celebration for either birthday – in fact I think we would prefer a long weekend away somewhere if funds will stretch to this. This sudden realisation that we will be entering a new decade in our lives has made me take stock.

This is the time of life when we can notice some of the more major and serious illnesses creeping up on us and also suffer with a loss of mobility, flexibility and vitality. I have seen it often looking after elderly relatives and friends so time is of the essence to try and halt or slow down the progression of age related problems. More than anything I want to feel that peaceful ease of mind that I am doing all I can to keep myself fit and healthy going forward.

As our well-being is a large part of the state of contentment I have been quite focused on this recently, reading books and listening to podcasts and videos from leading health and well-being experts. To begin the changes both DH and I need to develop better habits of course and any change can be difficult so I thought it a good idea to examine some of the suggestions and claims to better health for myself by making small but significant changes each week and then looking at what works.

The plan is to improve the three main areas that make up my well being – diet, exercise and sleep and relaxation and then review the results each week.

I am not sure at this point if everything I decide to try will work for me – somethings might be just too challenging but I will be recording my progress here on my blog for anyone that is interested and making a note of what really has the biggest effect for me (and hopefully for the smallest of changes) – and if I manage to completely rid myself of one or two health problems in the meantime….. all the better.

My first change starts tomorrow.

Have a good day everyone – the sun is shining here – I will be pottering in the garden no doubt after another exhausting day yesterday with Master Freddie. x

dear diary :: a melancholy message

I find myself in a rather ungainly, almost prostrate positon of late. Although, thankfully not face down. A rather painful episode of a strained, maybe even sprained, back has siezed me in its grip and I am best when lying quite motionless. It happened yesterday just as I was gearing up into a slightly brisker mode now the hibernating season is beginning to retreat.

DH might be relieved that he can attempt the housekeeping and cooking without any interference from me.

Until normal posture and wellbeing resume these few paltry words and images are all I can manage….meanwhile I shall entertain myself with a little light You Tube watching.

Back soon as my back is mended! x

%d bloggers like this: