Bathing

Forest Bathing

Like everything that I seem to be deeply interested in, forest bathing is a very old practice, found in many different cultures and religions all over the world, most of us have practiced this throughout our lives without even fully realising it. It is known as the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, and it is now one of the cornerstones of Japanese healthcare. This form of bathing draws on the therapeutic powers of nature and connects us to the earth around us. Not only is it good for you physically to walk about with this practice, but mentally it is so vital. Such bathing is also said to boost our immune systems, improve creativity and helps with our problem solving abilities as well as improving our moods.

The important thing is to really disconnect from the daily rush and constant stream of information and communication via our phones. Some would say to leave your phone at home but I like to keep mine on me in case of emergencies, and because I like to take pictures as I walk along, to keep with me so that I can go back to it later and remember how serene I felt during that moment. One thing you could do is use areoplane mode or do not disturb, but otherwise just have all your notifications off, so that when you take your phone out to take a picture of the sky etc, you won’t see that little symbol that someones trying to reach you, and you won’t feel implored to answer them. Half the time even if we don’t answer someone, we walk around thinking of what we want to reply anyway, which is frustrating.

There’s also a grounding exercise we can do when we feel exhausted, disconnected and even jet-lagged, it’s called ‘earthing’ although I must admit I didn’t know there was a name for it until recently. It’s something I love to do when I’m sat in a field on a summers day, usually most people will get the urge to take their shoes and socks off, when we do connect our feet to the ground, it does more for us than we know. This tiny little method is very much overlooked, there are real health benefits to it, such as improved sleep and improved blood flow. Darin Olien demonstrates this on Netflix’s ‘Down to earth’ when he and Zac Efron are jet-lagged coming across the border to Paris. He stops the car, takes his shoes off and encourages everyone to take a stroll barefoot, to help his body clock to adjust to the new time zone and to ground himself, giving him immune system a little boost.

I’m currently living in a flat with no outdoor space, no courtyard, no garden, no balcony etc so heading out to be around green spaces has really made me realise how much I depend on them and what they mean to me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breath or think properly until I’ve gone and connected via my walk through the park early morning.

Rosemary smudge

Another kind of bathing is through smoke, incense smoke or smudge smoke. There’s also steam, as in Yoni steaming etc but I’ll get to that on another post.

Rosemary is allegedly particularly good for the third eye, it gives it energy and helps to cleanse it too. I swear, when I use a smudge and lift it above my head, bathing my face in its smoke, I get goosebumps and a little shiver up my spine, but in a good way. There’s definitely something magic about using a smudge, and letting its smoke fall about your body, cleaning your aura, and quite literally ‘raising your vibe.’ Again, this is one of many ancient practices that’s still widely used today but sometimes we do these things on automatic without fully realising how important they are.

I don’t have a bath in this flat, only a shower, so that’s another factor that has me bathing in other ways, but obviously I have to mention the standard form of bathing. Recently my mum came into possession of some CBD Epsom salts, and I have to say, these are a real game changer. I love my salt baths, I’m definitely not a bath bomb or bubble bath girl, partly because I’m allergic and also because these heavily scented glittery bath bombs throw off our PH down below, and you definitely don’t want to be dealing with the aftermath of getting it back to where it was meant to be. I really wouldn’t put anything in my bath unless it was salts or herbs from the garden, flowers too. As long as you’re not allergic to the odd herb, having a bath like this is so much better for you then adding in something sickly sweet. Not to mention it’ll save you a bit of money and probably a trip to the chemist for when you get an itch from it all.

The next smudge I’m going to go for is blue sage, and like last year, I think I’ll make a lavender one too. I hope this was somewhat inspiring to get out there on a walk, remember to focus on your breathing too, pause on a bench for a moment and take in what you can see and hear, don’t reach for your phone, try not to daydream about something else. Keep your head in the forest with you, or in the smoke, or in the salt bath, and allow yourself some peace.

Reading up on Chakras

My rosemary smudge stick

This is something I’ve always been really interested in, and wanted to share. All I have right now is my beginners knowledge on Charkas, but I’ll do my best to explain what I know as well as I can. Each one works in its own way, and can be cleansed as such, charged and blocked in its own way too. The first time I ever came to see anything mentioned on this was in a book I bought way back, I think even in the time of ‘Borders’ book store, called Chi Nei Tsang. I sort of picked it up as a late teen (I think) and flicked through and I remember seeing pictures, maps of each chakra placement, the way vibrations work, auras, the lot. It blew my mind, I still have this book on my bookshelf.

Some say, each person has around 114 different Chakras in the body, but the main focus rests on the famous seven. In fact, the word Chakra means ‘each of the seven centres of spiritual power in the human body.’ It comes from the hindu/yoga tradition and is a Sanskrit term meaning wheel or mystical circle. Even though I picked up that book a long time ago, I’m still a beginner on all this, there’s a lot to unpack like anything, but here’s what I’ve got, if you’re interested, and if you think it’s something you want to learn for yourself.

The Seven:

  1. The Crown Chakra – this is assigned to the colour purple, and regulates the higher self, spirituality, higher purpose, the connection to god and consciousness, bliss and oneness. If you’re well balanced with this Chakra you will feel a deep faith, and that vibrational connection to the universe.
  2. The Third Eye Chakra – this one is indigo, located between our eyes, and is said to regulate intuition and the ability to manifest and visualise. The third eye gives us clarity, imagination and creativity.
  3. The Throat Chakra – this one is blue, and is said to be all about expression, communication and confidence, the throat chakra isn’t all about speaking though it is also said to be connected to listening, so someone off balance in this, will talk over others and won’t listen to what is being said.
  4. The Heart Chakra – green, located in our chests, the colour of Mother Earth. This Chakra is all about emotion, love, peace compassion, gratitude and forgiveness. Often it’s the colour I see when my eyes are closed, when I’m feeling particularly serene.
  5. The Solar Plexus Charka – this one is yellow, and is located under the chest. This chakra is all about our sense of self, self esteem, our will power and our drive.
  6. The Sacral Chakra – this one is orange, and is located above the naval. This Chakra regulates creativity, joy, passion, deep emotions and sexuality. This Chakra is also said to be nurturing.
  7. The Root Chakra – this one is red. Our root Chakra is about our survival, our safety and feeling grounded, centered and happy in our every day normal lives.
sunlight & citrine

There’s more to say on each one, but that’s a general rough guide, I brushed up on all of this watching Earth Mama Medicine on Youtube, while doing some morning journalling. Once again, can’t recommend her enough!

There are some yoga practices and stretches you can perform to connect to each Chakra, as well as burning the Chakra colour incense, or candle, and you can use certain crystals too.

The go-to crystals are usually:

Amethyst

Lapis Lazuli

Blue Aquamarine

Green Aventurine

Tigers Eye

Orange Stone

Red Agate

but if you feel drawn to certain other stones and crystals, then go with that, so long as they’re connected to that Chakra by colour or usage. Such as, a red Jasper stone can be used as a Root Chakra crystal. Our personal feel and emotional pull towards certain stones and crystals should never be ignored, it’ll call back to you, when you go looking, so don’t overthink this too much.

There are some other practices you could do to feel connected, body and soul, such as meditation etc, however, I recently did Gong meditation, and I personally, would not recommend this. It really knocked me off kilter, or so it seemed, and I felt exhausted for days after, I had to really focus and smudge myself to pull it back. Not to mention the sounds weren’t that soothing to me, more just distracting than anything else.

Don’t just take my word for it though, if this is something you want to try while exploring the realm of Chakras then go for it! One positive that I did get from it, was a peaceful nights sleep.

Of course, last but not least, another brilliant way to align your Chakras and ‘unblock’ the ones you suspect are blocked, is to go and see a Reiki master. Do your research, please make sure the practitioner is legit, the environment has to feel safe and secure to you, as well as their energy when you meet them. It’s very unwise to dabble in any of this half-heartedly, without making sure you’re taking the right steps. These portals of energy are sensitive, as much as they are powerful. One great thing is to sort of ‘practice what you preach’ when it comes to each one, to keep you in alignment. Embody each trait, have compassion, listen, act from a place of love, connect with your higher self, and allow yourself lots of self love.

That’s it from me for now, it’s way past my bedtime but I wanted to get something about this down, before I went and forgot anything. Goodnight, all the best.

Good Vibrations

“Keep your vibrations high always and see how you start attracting abundance magically into your life everyday.” – Pruvi Raniga.

I don’t want to sound like another hipster jumping on the bandwagon of ‘vibrations’ and ‘vibes’ and ‘energy’ but I have to say, I’m fully into all this, and I have total faith in it too. If you’re here reading this then perhaps that’s because you are a firm believer in this too. Good for you.

In the company of giants

There are ways to elevate your vibration, everything is existing on a certain frequency, when you’re feeling down and drained, depressed and low, you’re vibrating on a low frequency. This then affects your immune system, your sleep, your mental health and you adrenal glands. If we’re low in mood and tired, sipping coffee or energy drinks, we’re exhausting our very soul, and our hearts as well as our overall vibrational frequency, trying to claw our way up from where we are at the low point. You can’t just have caffeine and expect to feel better, just like when you were little, you might have scraped your knee and had a bandage over it, but it was your mothers kiss that made you feel better. It was her energy, it’s the good energy, the magic inside of it. The hug from that someone, the good talk with that friend putting the world to rights, the walk in nature, the ocean, all of it will help. All of these things alter our frequency and give us that boost, you cannot bottle that boost and have a spoonful every morning to exist happily, you need to go out and find those things that ignite you, and live it. Big or small.

Mantra drawing I did for my mum, existence, consciousness, bliss.

The general feel is that God, or the ‘source’ or ‘life force’ surrounds us, whatever you wish to call it, dwells within us. That is a heavy sentence to throw out there, you might not agree with it, but this is purely a belief system I share with others. I know God is a loaded word, when I say ‘God’ I don’t mean a man sat on top of a cloud, I mean a higher spirit. The practice is to tune into this higher frequency and align with it. Become the energy you wish to attract, remember that god is a source of abundance. You can use this for practice in manifestation, proclaim what you wish to see around the corner, and reflect this higher spiritual vibration, radiate it through you. Regular meditation is key when it comes to this, though I must admit I fall off the tracks when it comes to this. I try to get back to it every other day or at least twice a week if I haven’t done much at all, at least something is better than nothing. With any visualisation practice or manifestations, it’s important not to let the subconscious come in the way, don’t let it disconnect you.

Positive affirmations are one great way to keep on track with all of this, you can write some of these daily into your journal, you can stick them on a vision board, or you can simply have a couple of lines printed out and stuck somewhere you’ll always see them. Speak them into existence, especially when you’re feeling a little less inspired or stuck in a rut. Consistently making a habit out of stating your affirmations out loud followed by lifting yourself up to a good level of vibration, will massively impact the world you experience around you as well as your physical self and spiritual self. As always I’m going to say again, this might all sound too bizarre to some, or perhaps there’s parts that are too vague to grasp, but without going into it too deeply, this is simply something I believe in and wish to share. There are a tonne of guru types, teachers, mentors, guides, leaders of all kinds speaking on this who will no doubt word this better than I have, who have written about this over and over, so I urge you to take a look if you’re curious. Look out for such talks via Ted Talks and so on, once you start looking there’s a lot to unpack, read and discover.

It’s all incredibly inspiring, and once you start to live it, even just a little bit whenever you can, the small stuff you might not have appreciated before turns up in volume. Bird song, the sky, your partner, your body, all of your imperfections, your family, all of it will fill you with this kind of light, you start to look at your life through the eyes of a higher energy, and everything starts to shine gold with goodness.

Ask yourself, what is your current vibration? I hope that wasn’t too random, or rambly. Goodnight from me in the UK, take care.

Blood and Power

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time, it feels like there’s never enough information out there readily available to any of us women unless we go digging for it. What happens when you get your first period as a teenager? Most of us, one way or another end up on the pill or on another form of contraception. We’re never told about the alternatives, the kinder route, the herbal route, we’re shown the door from the doctors office after they tell us which one we’ll be on for years and years, and then some time after that, the side effects kick in. Even if you go back to your doctor, complaining of these side effects, they’ll discredit you and tell you you’re wrong, the pill surely can’t be making you feel bad, there must be something else wrong with you.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan of the pill at all. I think I’ve been on about five or so different ones throughout my life, each time I felt depression appear on the horizon, because my hormones were all over the place, I switched to another. I often had breaks in-between, in hopes my mind might calm down, but then at some point I had to return to the pill because my periods are so bad, and I couldn’t cope without help. The first time I was put on the pill was purely because I had a boyfriend, and before he even came to consider his options, I was swiftly placed on the pill. I was told that this was the norm, girls go on the pill, they’re at risk of blood clots, hormonal depression, all kinds, but it’s the norm. We protect ourselves from pregnancy, ease our acne (sometimes) and that’s our part, that’s what we all do.

I really hate the fact I was on the first one for so long, from sixteen until I was about twenty-one. It might have been longer. I remember feeling crazy, like I didn’t have control of my own mind and emotions, I remember thinking that I never used to be this way, I was never like this before. The truth is there are other options, other aspects that are often overlooked, need looking into. Diet and lifestyle, like anything, play a huge part when it comes to our periods and hormones. Stress and anxiety, they all amplify the pain, we have to solve our own equations on this, listen to our bodies and minds, just because it’s the usual route, doesn’t mean it’s the route for you, as it certainly wasn’t for me.

I’ve been off any contraception now for about five years and I have no plans to ever return to any prescribed form for as long as I can. I was off the pill in between that time for two to three years or so but my periods were always so fowl I had to do something. I should add I was given an internal scan to see what was causing the chronic pain, but nothing could be found. I’d been to the doctors previous to this about eight times, to no avail. Nothing was ever suggested and nothing ever came from such visits, because I was looking in the wrong place.

The main factors that have helped me, sound trivial, but I swear by them.

  1. Breathing exercises, breathing deeply, properly, and remaining calm during the first wave of cramps. Practicing mediation, going into a meditation, and controlling your breathing, does so much. I underestimated this for too long.
  2. Magnesium, this changed my life for sure. It would seem that I was low on Magnesium my whole life, because as soon as I started taking this as a constant supplement, everything changed, I felt a difference.
  3. Cod Liver Oil, another supplement proven to help ease PMS symptoms, something that I take consistently and when I don’t, I can feel the difference.
  4. Raspberry leaf tea, and if you can’t get hold of this then cranberry and raspberry tea might be easier to find. Raspberry leaf is proven to help ease the uterus during menstruation, pregnant women also drink this around the time of their due date to get things going.
  5. Heat, a good amount of it. This isn’t anything new, I’ve always done this, but it’s worth mentioning that if you can heat the area with a hot water bottle, as well as the lower back, it’ll ease up the pain.
  6. Ginger, ginger root in tea really helps the muscles to relax, if you get nauseous during menstruation like I do, then it helps with this too, bonus.
  7. Avoid coffee, I can’t remember where I saw this, but I read it once online, and it’s true, if I have a coffee the day I ‘come on’ then my periods feel so much worse, and the abrupt bowel outburst from the coffee really irritates the early cramping, triggering them to be worse.
  8. Hydrate, it might seem obvious, but hydration is key, your body is under stress and it’s about to lose a lot of fluids, help those muscles out and drink plenty of water.
  9. Don’t resist, this might sound insane, but sometimes we subconsciously resist pain, tensing our bodies even more, making it all the worse, so as well as the deep breathing, tell yourself that you accept the cycle, you accept the pain, the flow, in all it’s blood, beauty and power. Let it in, let it pass through you.
  10. Salt water baths, I don’t have a bath where I live currently, but I was told having a hot soak in magnesium salts or Epsom salts a few days before you ‘come on’ will make all the difference. It’s great for de-stressing the body as we know, but there’s a lot more the salts can do, that bubble bath can’t do. There’s some bath salts out there with CBD infused in them, I highly recommend.
This is the magnesium I’m currently taking, £6.95

Obviously, those ten factors are all personal to me, and they’re the things that I find to work for me, but not everyone is the same. Also, of course it goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that the pill rant is purely my opinion and how I feel personally, you might disagree and you might think some points I’ve shared are ludicrous, and that’s fine, but I wanted to share this because a vast amount of helpful alternative information is seldom found.

I know I’ve said it before but I encourage anyone to download Insight Timer for the breathing exercises, there’s even meditations tailored especially to periods, some lengthy ones, some short. It really helps to stay focusses through that pain, keep your head.

There’s a YouTuber I’ve stumbled across lately that encompasses everything I’ve said and much, much more. She’s so brilliant, in so many ways, if you’re into alternative herbal medicine etc then give her a go, her name is: earth mama medicine.

There’s Yoni steaming, menstruation videos literally videos on all kinds of sexual health and wellbeing. Something that was completely missed out of the curriculum at school. Sex Ed really just told us how to make a baby, I don’t even remember them teaching us about consent or safe sex or anything, but maybe that’s a rant for another time.

Some of earth mama’s herbs for Yoni steaming can’t be shipped to the UK, as I recently found out, in which case there is another – Sabrina Elizabeth on Etsy. Check her out if this is something you’re interested in. Yoni steaming is a whole other subject, but there’s a tonne of information on this on YouTube, as I’ve said, personally I love the earth mama take. If you suffered at any point from constant issues from reoccurring thrush to cystitis to anything else, it can help to cleanse and heal properly from all of that. Again, to state, some who read this might find this to be total nonsense and offensive even, but I’m all for this kind of medicine, and it’s something I truly trust and believe in.

Handy moon cycle picture from my phone.

That’s my information dump for now, if I think of anything else I’ll edit this post. I hope this helps someone out there, western medicine can only do so much, there’s a whole other realm of things to consider and sample, before we’re fobbed off with the usual chemical pain killer. I was given mefenamic acid along with many other pain killers to help me cope, but often they were too strong for my stomach and I’d vomit it all up anyway, which then caused more distress to my body, which brought on the cramps even stronger. Currently if I have to take something I’ll take 400mg of Ibuprofen, the night before or the morning of, (just one pill) I used to take Feminax, but apparently they’ve halted production on this.

I should say as well, taking in iron suplement while you’re menstruating obviously helps with a heavy flow, but along with this, there’s a liquid formula out there called Floradix, liquid iron and vitamin formula. It’s normally around £12 and I can’t recommend this enough, it stops you from feeling drained and weak, it puts the fire back in you and it doesn’t even taste that bad, I promise,

And as a final say, I swapped last year from the usual pads to 100% cotton biodegradable ones, which are more expensive, but my god, they’re so comfy and breathable. I know I just stated that I’m really heavy, so I go through a lot when I’m on, but honestly I’d rather do that then use the plastic super absorbent ones, once you try the organic cotton kind, it’s really hard to go back. You can get TOTM from Tesco, they’re a brand that provide this lovely type of pad, and they do tampons too.

If you’ve got any questions at all about where I’m up to on my own little journey on this, please feel free to get in touch, on here or Insta. Thank you for reading, here’s to the next cycle!

23 habits of highly successful people

I was watching one of my usual personal development videos the other morning, and I ended up coming across this list. Each guru/mentor has their own set of rules and lists of what works but I just wanted to share this one, I jotted it down in my journal but there’s no point in keeping it to myself.

So, without further due, highly successful people:

  1. take full responsibility for their life
  2. know their priorities
  3. create their own morning routine
  4. practice meditation/mindfulness
  5. make exercise and health a priority
  6. read and learn continuously
  7. show discipline and self control
  8. remain consistent
  9. follow through with what they say
  10. persist and persevere
  11. aren’t afraid to fail
  12. hone their craft daily
  13. are very self aware
  14. practice gratitude
  15. have a solid support system
  16. surround themselves with like-minded achievers
  17. they’re goal oriented
  18. they practice and take initiative
  19. manage their emotions
  20. communicate clearly
  21. they’re great listeners
  22. value their alone time
  23. love the journey more than the result.

I’ll do a post soon about the best selling books when it comes to success and self development, there are so many, but a lot of the same ones get a constant mention, so it’s worth taking a look at those.

Podcast wise, you can always find great interviews on Super Soul Conversations (Oprah) and Happy Place (Fearne Cotton), there are a lot of other places to source such inspiring talks, but those are the two I go to most that I want to share.

There you have it, that is one of many lists but a lot of them obviously share similar qualities. Perhaps you already cover most of this, but if not, it can’t hurt to try. The list came from Lavendaire, she’s one of the more soothing YouTubers to listen to, give her a go if you’re into self development and self awareness. I’ve got more to come, but that’s that for now! Have a great day.

Never forget to express gratitude at the end of the day.

Poems that tell a story

I wrote this poem about a taxi driver I would always spot sometime at night from my window. I live facing onto a main road, and his usual routine mirrored my own for a little while. We were both up late, and it felt like no one else on the street was around except for us, although obviously he couldn’t see me. I shaped this narrative around him because I knew I wanted to write about him, this was in the first lockdown, so everything felt extra quiet, it was like a ghost town. He was an urban fox, coming out now and again, walking up and down, getting some chips and then disappearing. He had a weight to his face, he always looked like he was at the end of his tether, overtired, trapped maybe. I haven’t seen him in a while, but I still look out for him now and again, I still wonder about where he ends up, where he calls home. There was some sort of solace for him in the black of night, I hope it still gives him that release wherever he is.

This one I wrote in my travel journal, I think probably on the plane home or in an airport. I was at the end of my Sri Lanka journey, I went upstairs to the lounge area which was this basic but beautiful room. All white, the floors, the tables and chairs, the drapes. Each wall had a big window looking out onto the surroundings, and outside I could see these massive prehistoric looking trees, jungle types, with colourful birds sat on the branches. Two women in sari’s shared a cup of tea together, and that’s when I realised I was so out of money that all I could afford was black tea, I had nothing left!

This is an old one! It’s about a guy I fell head over heels in love with traveling, this was our story, how we came to be, and how we came to separate. I still remember the heart break outside the Bangkok Central Hotel, I could have picked up each tiny broken shard of my heart up off the hot tarmac, I pretty much did. I felt completely undone when we parted ways. I headed off in the back of a pink Bangkok taxi, crying my eyes out on the backseat. I headed my way, he went his way, flying off to Australia. Things didn’t initially work out, when I got back to the UK we reconnected and met up, we dived into a long distance relationship, but it just didn’t work out. Mostly because of me, I didn’t know what I wanted anymore and I didn’t want to drag him along. No matter what though, I have no regrets. David was such a huge part of my East Asia adventure, I can’t thank him enough for all of the fond memories he gave me. He still is, one of the best people I’ve ever came to know in this life, anyone who gets to cross paths with him in this life is lucky.

If you head off anywhere, take your journal with you. There’s so much to be pulled from when you record little snippets, wherever you can. During both lockdowns I got a lot down, either from people watching or raking through my own mind. I know I say it a lot but I can’t express enough how much writing can easily become a real therapy. Thank you for reading, I hope this finds you well!

Morning & Bedtime rituals

I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding than having a good solid morning ritual, followed by a bedtime one too, so I just wanted to share some of my rituals, especially now I’m back at work and wanting to keep on with certain aspects of the new life I found during both lockdowns. I’ve pretty much not worked for a whole year, there’s been a few hours here and there at the salon over Christmas but I was mainly out of work. The meditation app I’ll mention throughout is Insight Timer, I’ve used Headspace and tried out Calm before, but this is the only app out of all of them that I find to work the best, there’s thousands of practices, hundreds of teachers and mentors and speakers, and a tonne of different types of meditations to choose from.

A lot of the habits I developed from all of this time off, I want to maintain for sure. I really love the slower pace of life that’s came with the pandemic, and I don’t want to just return to the old fast pace of life. It wasn’t good for me then, and I’m determined to keep it calm and cool. However, I also didn’t want to lose my head during all my time alone, so I had a routine, and I mostly stuck to it. Now and again it varied, some days I woke up and started to edit my novel right away, other times I headed out for a walk or did some chores, but it all sort of rotated around these few things:

Morning brew

Obviously it starts with coffee, but not just coffee. I actually start every morning religiously by having some apple cider vinegar in warm water, this is good for everything, health wise. I swear by it. The coffee Scott and I have is usually aeropress, with one teaspoon of honey stirred in, and Oatly oat milk. Morning meditations and mindfulness play a part too, and in fact I found this a few weeks ago:

I know it might seem a bit random, but this is seriously soothing and nice to sit and listen to. I’ve actually listened to this a few times while journalling.

Journalling wise, I just keep it to one page. I use Paipur journals, which are in my opinion, the best journals out there. I’m a bit of a journal/diary snob, and I’m very particular on what I write on and with! I usually jot down any dreams I have lingering in my head, thoughts for the day, my intensions, my aspirations for that day, or otherwise, I literally just write down anything that comes to mind. I should say as well, sometimes I have a Youtube video on in the background, and when I do it’s usually Lavendaire. If you haven’t seen any of her videos, I suggest you take a look. She gives off such a great light and positivity, and again she’s someone with a naturally calming voice, all of her videos are about positivity, mindset, finding your life’s purpose and so on. She’s great to have on while journalling.

I’ll go into this another time, but I also love to use my journals as little time machines to myself. I like to ask my future self questions, the questions that arise alone cause me to wonder how I came to think of them and what that could mean, subconsciously. I’ve done this a lot over the years and discovering old questions I wrote ten years ago and so on, is so interesting, but I’ll save that for another post.

My yoga choice

Morning Yoga – sometimes, actually most of the time, we don’t always have time for it, but there’s one or two out there that are easy enough to do. I love ‘Yoga with Adriene’ personally because she’s so upbeat and positive to listen to. There’s a morning practice that’s literally five minutes long, and I can feel the difference if I don’t do it. Obviously there’s a tonne of others with yoga practices that are great but for me, I always come back to Adriene.

Morning meditation

This is another great example of some of the morning meditations I do, especially if I’m short on time. This one is just a couple of minutes but time really does slow down during this practice, and she has a seriously soothing voice.

If you have more time on your hands, and a nice quiet area to sit and chill for a bit, I also highly recommend this meditation. I actually first came to do this one during a sunny afternoon in my flat, with my crystals in my lap, and it was pure therapy.

Breakfast wise, I have to admit, sometimes I skip, but usually I just keep it simple, nothing too fancy. I’ve always struggled to eat breakfast, I’m not sure why, I’m definitely someone who can power on through the morning just on a good coffee. When Scott’s off work he’s the one sorting something hearty, so on Sunday’s I get to sit and write for a bit while he’s scrambling some eggs.

And then the night closes in, time to rest.

I’m a bad sleeper, I always have been ever since I was a kid. I’m not sure why, sometimes I can be exhausted, and my mind still struggles to turn off. Since using Insight Timer, I’ve found one or two practices that definitely help. As well as this, I started to take magnesium, and I can’t recommend this enough. I must have been low on magnesium all my life because I’ve seriously felt the benefits of taking this supplement.

Bedtime story

This really helps put me to sleep, so for anyone struggling out there, give this a go. Bill Larson is seriously calming, and he reads so well. The story itself is obviously different from the Disney version we all know, it’s so beautifully written, and deep and imaginative. The book is split up into different chapters and sections, with each one stemming over an hour long, plenty of time to lie back and clear your head while listening to Bill.

The wall by my desk, beside a window

Another ritual I have is to express gratitude. I know some people say a prayer, some read, some just go to sleep. There’s a lot to be said on the practice of simply saying thank you, and letting go of the day with a grateful heart. It helps to instil an inner peace right before sleep, but it also helps to open your mind. You might start to say thank you to the universe or god or whoever for your health and comfy bed, but the night after that you’ll come to think of all kinds of things. Discovering that you’re grateful for the food in your belly, the moon, your friends, your luck, courage, talent, opportunity’s and so on. There’s so much to be thankful for once you start this off, and it really is a great mindset to have right before you drift off into a deep slumber.

Thank you for your time, have a great rest.

The Big White Buddha & Temples

On what felt like the hottest day ever, me and Scott booked a little drop off tour via the hotel desk. The heat was stifling, too hot to sit in, or stand in. I remember being wet through with sweat on this day, my T-shirt was stuck to me! I know that’s gross, but it’s true. The taxi there was beautifully air-conned though, thank god. The climb up isn’t too bad, but if you walk up right from the bottom, which would be about an hours walk or more I imagine, then it’s a killer, as it’s all up hill, steep winding roads, in that melting heat. As it happened, our taxi took us right to the drop off, skipping the long trek. A huge mercy. Massive respect to those who walk/jog up from the base of the hill. Along the way up you pass the edge of a jungle, there were quite a few monkeys about, there was some scaffolding left around so they were using this to their advantage, though they didn’t get too close and no one lost their sunglasses, to my knowledge.

View from the top.

There’s a lot of space up there so there’s great photo opportunities, though again if anyone is kneeling down to pray, or sat to meditate it’s important to steer clear and to not intrude, that might seem obvious, but while I was up there, there were a few tourists standing in the way of a persons time and place of worship, douche move. There’s also a lot of areas to purchase your own charm to fix to the many hangings surrounding the buddha, for luck and good fortune. There’s a massive pot for incense, and plenty of room to just sit and catch your breath, a welcome cool breeze greeting everyone at the top.

The big White Buddha is made of concrete and covered with Burmese white marble, and is sat facing Ao Chalong Bay, and is known as the ‘Buddhist treasure of Phuket.’ Online it states the statue cost 30 million Baht, sourced primarily from donations. It’s actually still fairly young too, the project to build this only started in 2002, with everything overall completed in 2014.

View from underneath.

It doesn’t take long to walk around, but there’s a tonne of different statues to look at while you’re there, including a few golden ones at the back. The walk back down is dotted with all kinds of different offerings, there’s inscriptions on all the trees, trinkets tied to branches and ribbons tied along them too. It was really amazing studying all the different forms of handwriting, in so many different languages, hanging from all of the trees, all of them sharing a heartfelt prayer.

Gold Buddha to the back of the statue.

If you end up in Phuket in the near future, I’d definitely recommend a visit, what’s not to love about a giant Buddha statue? And if you’re thirsty, there’s a coconut stall at the entrance and a couple of other stalls along the way for water.

Beautiful white temple, Wat Chalong.

Just around the corner from the White Buddha, there were a couple of temples dotted about. When I say around the corner, I can’t remember how long the drive was, but it definitely didn’t seem long. Again, I’d fully recommend an air-conned ride. We burnt the soles of our feet taking off our sandals to head in, there were a few mats here and there so the tiles didn’t singe the skin on your feet too badly, but there weren’t enough, so we ended up running inside, eager for the cool floor of the temples.

Little fact – Wat Chalong is said to contain a splinter of one of Lord Buddhas bones.

There were so many surrounding temples in this area, such as this one, it’s well worth the visit. You can simply walk from one to another, taking a tour of each one inside, heading to the tops of them too. Each one is fragrant with incense, cool, quiet and calm. Leave your sandals as near to the gate or entrance as you can so your feet aren’t red raw while you’re trying to find them amongst others, also perhaps turn them over to shield them from the sun if you’re going to be wandering around for a while!

Like all temples, there’s a dress code. Shoulders and legs need to be covered, so don’t forget to take a shawl with you or simply dress as cool as you can while covering up. I was told by a tour guide a long time ago to not turn your back on the buddha, and to always bow when greeting him, so I want to pass this on too. Mind the step on the way into these temples as they’re always raised quite high, apparently to keep out evil spirits that slither about the ground. A big threshold puts a stop to any of that, but I definitely saw one or two people lose their step because of them, so watch out.

The ceiling in one of the temples.

There’s probably one or two things that I’ve missed off, but hopefully nothing too important that I forgot to mention. Either way, that’s it for now. Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day! If you have any questions feel free to comment.

Phuket

January 2020 we landed in Phuket, right when the virus was apparently new to China and there was little known about it! This time it was a holiday, booked with Kuoni, we flew with Emirates (I love flying with Emirates) A380 from Manchester, Dubai and then direct to Phuket.

Our luxury hotel – the Cape Panwa hotel, right on the beach. The first thing I remember, getting out of the taxi was the delicate scent of the place, the flowers, the sea, it was soul lifting. They have two large stone pots of exotic red orchids right by the steps to head inside, the lobby in itself is a work of art. The staff were amazing, so accommodating and friendly. I remember feeling like I couldn’t drink it all in enough, I was being shown to my room with Scott beside me, my brother and my sister behind me, and we were all agog, taking in everything we passed, the views, the other holiday makers, the trees, the flowers, the sky, the heat.

At night me and Scott sat on the balcony and watched bats overhead fly into a tree, some of them I swear were as big as house cats. One day he was out there he saw Toucans too, sitting in the tree.

Phi Phi Islands

After catching up on some rest on the beach and drinking some chilled coconuts we booked on to an island hopping tour which included Phi Phi Islands, Bamboo Island along with Maya Beach. We saw the Monkeys, we snorkelled just off the ‘Beach’ from the film, and we had a little beach lunch included too which was mostly veggie that I loved. You can no longer step foot on the actual ‘Beach’ from the film because there’s been too much coral damage surrounding it, and damage to the beach itself, so they’re giving it a much needed break, allowing some of its natural beauty to come back. The snorkelling was amazing, the fish seemed pretty tame and un-phased by us humans.

Old Town

Scott and I went to the old town, which I truly loved, and I could have easily stayed in for the whole day. It was right up my street, a whole lot of history, old streets, antique stalls, food markets, Chinese medicine shops, boutiques, old houses, little cafes, it reminded me a little bit of old Hanoi and a little of Hoi An. Old town was Chinese for many years, the whole place seems to switch from Thailand to China with one turn of a road, and each frame was filled with so many things to stand and stare at.

We had a really great iced coffee here.

Our lunch in the Old Town.

The best food we had throughout the whole trip, was via a restaurant down at the port, by the sea front called Sabi Sabi, as well as excellent dishes from the street food markets, I usually went with Pad Thai, a long time favourite, along with Morning Glory and rice, sometimes we’d get a chicken and cashew too, Scott was open to try anything, we literally loved every dish we tried at the restaurant and down on the markets.

A little blurry picture of our street food one night.

We went to see the Giant White Buddha too, but I might post about that separately later on.

Patong

Of course, on one of our nights we headed to Patong to see what it was like, honestly it was basically another Khaosan Road, with a dash of Chaweng, it was crazy, lights flashing all over the place, ping pong shows, sex shows, brothels, strip clubs, lap dancing, gambling, the lot. Sin city, basically. I remember feeling uncomfortable the first time I went to Khaosan Road, I was taken aback by how seedy and dark a lot of it was, this time I sort of knew what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, some bars were a lot of fun, there was a buzz about the place, it made you feel drunk even before you’d had a drink. The music blasts out of each club and bar, there’a a background thud to the place, there were a few restaurants here and there and a couple of cafes but even sitting in those, for some peace, the noise of the street and the traffic was everywhere. Maybe we only noticed it more because we’d been in the tranquil space of Cape Panwa and that surrounding area! Places like this though, as wild and over the top as they might seem, they’re part of the culture like anything else, so it’s still worth a trip to cast an eye at.

Dawn, heading down to the beach.

Sunrise girl

I’ve probably said this before, but when I’m away I like to get up super early, and I sort of do automatically anyway! For the entirety of the holiday I was up at dawn, or just before, and I was lucky enough to watch it come up over the sea, over the palm trees. Sometimes I’d head down to the beach and sit in the quiet, other times I sat with Scott in the breakfast area overlooking it all, taking it in, sipping on some good morning coffee. If you’re travelling or just heading away on a holiday, I recommend highly getting up for sunrise, even just once, to sit in the quiet and watch that part of the world come to stir and wake up.

At night, on the beach we also discovered a trail of hermit crabs, making their way from one end of the beach to the other, some with big colourful shells, others with small decorative ones.

I did look into the elephant sanctuary over in Phuket, but it wasn’t overly clear if the sanctuary was legit or not, some people said it was still a big tourist attraction where the elephants were forced to perform in some way or another. There’s the ‘Elephant Hills’ up in the hills further north, which has a good reputation, but by that time we were running out of money so we gave it a miss. Remember if you’re anywhere in Asia wanting to visit a sanctuary, always check the reviews and always research the place first as much as you can, so you don’t end up making the wrong decision.

Honestly I can’t get over how lucky we were to get away right before the pandemic hit, I was walking along the beach one afternoon, picking up plastic that had washed in, when I noticed another lady doing the same on the other end. We met in the middle, and it turned out she was from North Wales, not far from us! She was the one who first mentioned it to me, in a foreboding tone. We were originally talking about the Australian fires, and the state of the world with all the plastic, she mentioned a big virus coming from China and how it’ll spread throughout the world, and then she went on her way.

I managed to take some pictures during the flight home, so here’s a few of those:

Dubai
The big blue

The last sunrise

On our last day I woke before dawn and headed down to the beach alone, taking just my phone for its camera. The tide was out so I walked along the rocky parts, there was absolutely no one around, all I could hear were the birds overhead. It was a beautiful warm morning, with the faintest breeze coming off the ocean.

It’s the moments you have on your own, in silence, in peace, that you’ll always remember the most. I remember the top of Mt Batur, Mt Ella, Sihanoukville and so on – all for the sunrise, the peaceful mornings. The final sunrise in Phuket is now one of those memories for sure.

I have a lot more to say about Phuket, but this will do for now, thank you for reading! Have a wonderful day.

Poetry

As I’ve said previously, I really got back into the swing of things with my poetry over the last two years. Both lockdowns provided a thick slice of silence and peace for me to muse and dwell, edit and re-edit some new pieces as well as older ones. There’s a lot I haven’t posted yet, but I’m getting round to it.

Orchid, Salt and Sown are all fairly new, some parts were inspired via my journal, thoughts, dreams, visions and so on. I don’t attach myself to all of my poetry, all of the time, only some of the time. I like to run another theme along the way, about a couple, or about a woman or man, something they’re feeling that juxtaposes how I feel, or complimenting how I’m feeling. Sometimes the link is obvious, sometimes it’s not. I really enjoy forming a narrative, something elusive at your finger tips. The narrative can either be the backbone of the poem, or it can be something that’s hinted towards, mentioned in every other line, even. Each reader can of course take something different from each word or verse, that’s another factor I love about poetry. A poetry verse about the ocean can cause a storm in the heart of one reader, or create calm in the mind of another, it can prompt fear, anxiety, love, a sinking dread, hope, adventure, doubt, all kinds.

I would say as a rule of thumb, that every poem for me, has to hold my own personal truth, a true event, a real encounter, a real moment, that’s buffed up or blurred, watered down or simmered above flames. Journaling consistently throughout my life has really given birth to almost all of my poems, I cannot encourage journalling enough. And if a poem or some form of creative writing rises from the ashes of a break-up, depression, faith, lust, anything at all, if that writing goes on to help someone, to inspire someone, isn’t that the best feeling in the world? We may never know if we’ve helped, but if just one person scans our poetry and pulls something from it in the hearts or minds, then we did a good job.

I don’t know if this will help anyone, but this is a rough guideline for how I like to write:

  1. Start with a raw feeling, guilt or lust or fear.
  2. Tie it to a real life event, even in just one line, one blip of a memory.
  3. Create a visual metaphor to help the memory/feeling along, such as a swimming pool etc.
  4. What other images help to give birth to this memory? What colours? Which elements?
  5. Who’s there in the poem with you? And how else could you identify them? E.g the ocean – your mother.
  6. How do you want to others to read this? What is the pace?
  7. What stepping stones have you set out for the spine of the narrative?
  8. Type whatever comes naturally, all feelings, the more you have, the better you can edit.
  9. Read it out loud, then read it again. Record yourself reading it even, if it helps.
  10. If the overall theme works for you, then you can add some meat to the bones of it, or strip it back further, you can even close the page down, and come back to it later. Personally, I send my first drafts to my fellow creative writing friend David McGeachie, who’s the best editor for me in the world, because he’s so honest. Don’t forget to check where you place a full stop, a comma, and how long each verse is, keep them in a rhythm, so that when you read it out loud the flow is there.

Instagram

If you want to read some more, if you have a thirst for this sort of poetry, there’s a good load to read over on my creative page on Instagram: zarachangdesigns.

Personal page: zchang23

Coffe stain art 🙂