Last week I had the most sublime Saturday morning learning the art of willow-weaving. It was so restful to simply sit quietly, working with my hands, creating something from a material I haven’t worked with before, while a blizzard blew around outside. It felt like the best kind of therapy for lots of reasons, not least because it was such a tactile thing to do. Because I’m not used to those textures it felt like I was feeling my hands differently to usual, and that, coupled with the smell of the willow being steamed and the muted colours within our surroundings was quite intoxicating.

The tutor (Julie Gurr) kindly allowed me to take some photos of her weaving and I knew before I even asked her if it would be ok, that what I most wanted to capture were some close-up images of her hands. Even without seeing her facial expression I think you can sense the focus through the hands.

willow weaving

Having spent the rest of weekend looking through my photos of Julie’s hands, it is no surprise that I picked up on a post called ‘Thanking Our Beautiful Hands’ written by a well-known (though up-until-this-point unknown to me) massage therapist, David Lauterstein. It was a beautiful piece of writing about the human hand – celebrating the changing ways that we have used our hands as we have evolved, and the stories which can be seen in a person’s hands.

He wrote:

“The human hand, in concert with the mind and the heart is the most sophisticated instrument in the known universe. In the art and science of massage, we have the privilege to use this greatest of all instruments. An evolved miracle is brought to bear every time we touch in a thoughtful, heartfelt manner.”

Reading it, I was reminded of a description of massage that I heard often during my training. It is said that massage is a combination of working with the hands, the head and the heart which I think is just a perfect description of this amazing work. Aside from massage, all shared touch has the potential to be powerful and profound and we all have the ability to reach out and connect with other people in this way.

In celebration of the potential we each hold within our hands and as a means of recording the way that our hands tell the stories of our lives, I have decided to do a little photography project capturing as many pairs of hands as possible!

I’m in the early stages of re-imagining my spare room & my massage room and as part of that process I plan on creating a series of hand portraits as a feature on the walls in my massage room (sadly it means that the Keane posters will be relegated to the spare room but I think I can live with that)

And this is where you come in…I need your hands!! I’ll be toting my proper camera around with me over the next few weeks, so if you are happy to be a hand model for my wall, let me know and I will happily create art with you. To give you an idea of what I have in mind, here are a few I took earlier:


While you are contemplating your potential hand modelling career, I hope you find time this week, and every week, to give your hands creative things to do, to give them a little bit of TLC and to stop a moment and appreciate all the connections they enable you to have with the people and the world around you.




If you want to know more about willow-weaving you can find Julie at www.willowweaver.com

If you want to read David Lauterstein’s article you can find it on my new ‘Jane Taylor ACMT’ facebook page (if you’re still on facebook?!)

personal space & time tactics

I have been working on being more patient with myself recently – giving myself some space & time to just ‘be’; taking away expectations and removing pressure. Obviously I know that I am fortunate in having this luxury – one of the great advantages of living alone – but even without having that amount of freedom, I think it’s good for all of us to regularly carve out some personal space and time.

Here are three things that have been most helpful to me in recent weeks.


One of my best recent diversions has been catching up on films that somehow passed me by when they were released. When there are no demands on my time I find that weekend afternoons are perfect for getting lost in a film. Last weekend I watched Invictus (which made me cry) and Once (which made me go straight onto Spotify to find the soundtrack).

‘Invictus’ was the perfect follow-up to watching the France vs England match, partly because it was good to actually see some inspiring rugby and partly because it is always great to be reminded how transformational and unifying sport can be.

‘Once’ is one of the gentlest and nicest films I’ve seen in a long time, with one of the best soundtracks ever. I’ve been listening to Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova (who act, composed and perform all the original songs in the film) all week since. It is the perfect escape for a Sunday afternoon in case you need one.

Another recent favourite was ‘Hampstead’ partly for the story but mostly for the location, which is on my list for a walk with my camera at some point soon.

If you are looking for an action film these ones won’t do it for you, but for a gentle Sunday afternoon they are perfect.


I have a growing pile of books by my bed. When I’m reading a novel I like to go for the immersive approach – start-to-finish in as short a time as possible, dispensing with all other forms of downtime until I’m done – but with lifestyle/personal development books I like to dip in and out, taking away small snippets that appeal to me in a given moment.

My current pile of books-under-my-bedside-chair includes:

  • ‘What To Say When You Talk To Yourself’ by Shad Helmstetter – I bought this because I talk to myself ALL of the time, but I haven’t fully embraced the book yet. The idea is that we change the negative talk we have in our heads and replace it with something more positive and life-affirming. I’ll report back when I’ve dived in deeper….
  • ‘Annam Cara – A Book Of Celtic Wisdom’ by John O’Donohue – this is my favourite, soulful book written by someone whose words just dance off the pages. I find that it’s perfect for helping me to make sense of life. My copy was bought second-hand and it has an inscription inside the cover, allegedly from the author, which makes it all the more special – I like the idea that my copy has passed through his hands.
  • ‘I Am Here Now’ by the Mindfulness Project – a cross-between creativity and mindfulness, perfect for whiling away a few minutes before bedtime
  • ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A Singer – this one is It’s a great guide to inner space, which makes it a bit scarily deep for me…but something I need to read. The chapter called ‘Who Are You?’ is the one I’m perhaps most scared of but I’ll get there one day.
  • ‘What I Know For Sure’ by Oprah Winfrey – I love this book for its simplicity and positivity. It’s a great one to reach into for a little uplift at any time of the day
  • ‘Footprints Through The Desert’ by Josh Kauffman – I’m halfway through this one & feeling a bit stuck with it, but I have a feeling it has not yet quite revealed its real message so I will keep going.
  • ‘The 52 Lists Project’ by Moorea Seal – I bought this late last year, thinking that I would start to follow it from January onwards. And then life took an unexpected turn so I’m only just starting to make use of it, but I really like the way it has me dipping deep into my headspace. I also really like a book which needs to be written in so it ticks that box as well.
  • ‘Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)’ by Richard Carlson – this is my newest addition to the pile. My favourite insight so far is #11: “imagine that everyone is enlightened except you” – ie. the people that we meet are all here to teach us something, and the ‘game’ is for us to work out what that teaching is… I like this idea a lot. So far I’m feeling that most people are here to teach me about being patient, which, of course, tells you reams about me!!

bedside chair

Raw chocolate nice-crispie cake:

This was my attempt at reducing my chocolate consumption and it has worked really well, although now I have none of it left, anything could happen!!

When the kids were little I used to sometimes make them rice-crispie cake, but with added ingredients like nuts and dried raisins which make it taste so much nicer. I decided that I would make a grown-up version using raw chocolate and everything I could find in my larder.

The finished version had random quantities of the following ingredients:

  • sunflower seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • dried cranberries
  • 7-seed mix (like bird seed but for humans!)
  • brazil nuts
  • almonds
  • jumbo porridge oats
  • walnuts

I mixed all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then poured in enough dark raw chocolate to coat the ingredients & bind everything together.

I turned the whole lot out of the bowl onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment & let it set in the fridge, where it has been waiting for me in my moments of need!

I didn’t add quite enough chocolate or pack mine down into the tray so it didn’t need to be cut up, it just fell apart in clusters, but you could cut it into chunks if yours is more of a solid layer.

You can make this with any chocolate and dry ingredients to suit your taste, but obviously the better the chocolate, the better the end result will be!

Super-simple, super-tasty and definitely so much better than eating 600g of milk chocolate in one week!!


So there you go – these have been my personal space & time tactics for this week. I would love to know what yours are – please share Jx

sleep walking

For various reasons 2018 has got off to a very slow start for me and I realised today that it feels like I’ve been sleep-walking. I have lost any and all sense of urgency in my daily routines and I find myself losing all my spare time to books or films or photography or dreaming of running away to far flung corners of the globe. It is as though my life force is well and truly hibernating!

For the most part I’m giving myself space and time to just go with the flow & humour myself like I’m a slightly indulged child…but at the same time I’m so totally bored with & frustrated by my lack of inertia!! I want to shake myself and snap out of it but I’m not sure how.

The past three weeks I have had so much time on my hands which could have been put to great use but instead I’ve just been snoozing. Not literally! I’ve been awake of course, but I may as well not have been…

With my logical brain I can see that these 3 weeks have actually been really well spent in that they have given me the luxury of getting over a throat/chest infection without feeling pressured into rushing back to work too soon; time to get back into my weekly photography project (which has included researching, deliberating and finally buying a new (to me) camera; & time to rest after a hugely emotional time in my life. All of this is good.

However, in the background there has also been a conversation constantly running inside my head asking really unhelpful questions such as ‘what’s the matter is with you?’ and ‘why don’t you just…(fill in the blank)?’ whilst also reminding me that I am every kind of negative I can think of…

This morning I was thinking about all of this as I drove to work and that’s when it came to me that it has been like sleep-walking – awake on the outside, moving and functioning, doing what I need to do, but all the same not always fully present in everything I’m doing. And with that realisation comes a sense of acceptance that this is perhaps how it will be for a little while longer, but also a sense that the more things I can do to anchor myself in the ‘now’ the easier it will be to wake up fully again.

I think without knowing it I’ve already been throwing out anchors along the way:

  • making a commitment to getting better nutrition into my body on a daily basis has been really good for my sense of self-esteem – I know it sounds really corny but on a basic level it is proving to be a very powerful way to acknowledge to myself that I’m worth it
  • taking up the 52 Frames weekly photography challenge again has been a great way to reconnect with something I am not (yet) very good at but love to get lost in and to reconnect with some people I have missed over the past year
  • booking an activity every month to take me outside my usual space is becoming a great way to stretch myself – literally and figuratively – and I’m also enjoying the process of finding something new to do

I cannot wait to be fully awake, but in the meantime I will try to ignore the negative noise and keep focusing instead on all the things I can do along this re-rooting pathway, until I fully find my feet again. I think this will prove to be a much better approach than trying to make myself snap out of it!

be kind to everyone

More evidence, if ever it was needed, that kindness wins every time Jx


I’m currently living on a (mostly) liquid diet and I’m pleasantly surprised by how it is going. I started following Jason Vale’s ‘super blend me’ plan three weeks ago with the intension of replacing meals with smoothies for seven days, but I haven’t really gone back to eating from a plate again yet!


The plan is promoted as a health/weight loss plan with various suggestions for how to incorporate it into your own lifestyle. For me, the primary reason for getting started was to give myself a break from cooking. Living alone and for the past three years, I’ve been solely responsible for feeding myself – there’s no taking turns when you live alone, no-one else to offer suggestions or discuss meal plans with, no-one to share the washing up & sadly no-one to share a meal with.

Just after Christmas, still grieving the loss of my Mum, I reached a point where I just didn’t want to be a grown-up anymore! I was so sick and tired of being responsible and started to feel particularly anxious about food. With Jason Vale’s latest book in my hand & my new blender shouting encouragement from the side-lines I decided I would give myself a one-week ‘holiday’ from food.

My plan was to then sign up to a food/recipe box delivery company so that I had someone else taking on some of the work-load but three weeks later I’m still blending every day, still enjoying the benefits and feeling so much less anxious about mealtimes.

In case you’re interested in giving it a try, here are some of my thoughts on blending. I’m not on commission and I’m sure there are other blending plans available but I genuinely think this approach might be a workable solution for so many people who are struggling around food, or trying to lose weight or facing digestive issues. By the way, I’m also not a doctor so please do not read this as medical guidance or advice and do your own research before embarking on any radical dietary changes.

Pros & cons:

I was worried I’d be hungry, but surprisingly I really haven’t been. My appetite has definitely decreased over the past three weeks and I’m grazing far less than previously. Now that I’ve started to add in some solid foods again I notice that my portions are much smaller with more focus on adding lots of green vegetables.

I made sure I planned ahead by bagging & freezing the ingredients for individual smoothies on a Sunday, ready to simply add the liquid and blend them as required. The first week I made up bags for all the smoothies suggested for the seven-day plan which was great because I didn’t have to think at all about what I was eating – I just opened the book and blended what I was told to blend! Thereafter I’ve made more decisions about which ones I liked best and bagged them up accordingly.

I’m not a fan of packaged milk alternatives, so I make my own almond milk (I’ve been freezing it in small bottles so there’s no waste) and I’ve been adding coconut ‘meat’ and water to my smoothies when coconut milk is in the recipe. If I don’t have nut milk available, I just use filtered water which works just fine.

I did find myself feeling very cold after the first couple of days (I think my body has been holding back a throat/chest infection for a couple of months so the coldness might have been more to do with this than the smoothies) but as soon as I started adding in a simple green soup (see below) in place of one of the smoothies, I felt much better.

I have had to substitute avocado in place of bananas as I had a pretty extreme reaction to bananas at the end of the first week. I’ll spare you the details but can happily report that avocado is a really good alternative.

One of the best things about the plan is that I can take my breakfast with me on a morning. I never really feel like eating before I head out to work but usually do it because I think I should – and because I can’t really eat a bowl of apples and yoghurt whilst training a client or driving!! With a smoothie, I can head out and drink it when & where I want to.

My stomach feels so calm and peaceful right now, no doubt as a result of having less digestion to do and a lighter load to process. I also feel that I’m getting a far higher ratio of nutrients than previously when my evening meal would often be a piece of cheese, followed by an apple, followed by another piece of cheese, followed by some nuts, followed by a packet of oat cakes…

I feel that my blood sugars are more even right now. I haven’t had any ‘hangry’ moments in recent weeks and I think it is down to the level of nutrients and the less sporadic eating patterns. Given that my Mum died as a result of a condition linked to her diabetes (type II) I am more than a little concerned about my own blood sugar levels and tend to use how I feel as a benchmark for whether I’m eating the right things.

I didn’t set out to lose weight but I suspect that it’s happening anyway (I don’t have scales so I have no ‘weigh’ to check but my clothes feel a bit easier as far as I can tell when I effectively wear pyjamas all day)

There has been a drastic decrease in spending on food over the past three weeks and no waste at all, which is great. Bagging and freezing the ingredients as soon as I buy them, means that there’s nothing left in the fridge being unused. The reduction in waste has also meant that the only things going in my household bin are the outer wrappers from fruit and vegetables (& if I had easy access to a fresh food market it would be reduced further).

Washing the blender three times a day is a bit dull (& obviously only a first world problem) but it’s a small price to pay. I tend to hand wash it the first two times and then place it in the dishwasher at the end of the day so it’s really not enough of a negative to get in the way of blending.

I’ve started to add in some ‘solids’ most days now but I’m still enjoying liquid meals most of the time. I usually have an apple or two or an apple and half and avocado over the day and most days I’ll eat a few almonds too. This week I’ve made myself a bowl of salad on two occasions just to add some different flavours (olives, hummus, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar). The big thing I’ve noticed now is that instead of hoovering up my food I’m really enjoying the process of chewing it. As an added bonus everything tastes great – I’m much more aware of my taste-buds now and it is helping me to connect with food again.

green smoothie

The longer term:

I think I’ve always had a pretty strange relationship to mealtimes.

As a child there were fairly old-school rules around eating (having to eat everything on my plate, not being allowed to get down until I had, being made to eat things I really didn’t like, being ‘tricked’ into eating things I said I didn’t like – and laughed at for doing so, etc, etc) but as a teenager I became more interested, once I could cook my own food. As an adult I have always tended to work at traditional mealtimes – first as a chef and then as a fitness class instructor – so I think I never really got into the habit of regular meals.

Now that I have no-one to cook for I realise that cooking has always been about cooking for someone else. Cooking for myself feels like a massive effort & frankly not worth the bother.

Blending, on the other hand feels like a quick and effective way to get nutrients into my body. It is really well suited to a vegetarian/plant-based diet and it gives me flexibility for my working hours. I think, for me, it is the way forward – probably not every meal forever but certainly one or two meals a day for the foreseeable future.

If you decide to try it, or you already do it, I’d love to know how you get on



Simple green soup:

This idea came from Jason Vale – I think it came up in one of his juice plans – and I have found it really helpful over the past three weeks. This is my version of a simple green soup, which is effectively a hot smoothie!

You will need some green vegetables (you knew that already!) – I use whatever is in the fridge/freezer: peas, fresh or frozen spinach, fresh or frozen broccoli, leeks (washed & sliced), fresh or frozen kale, a few stems of asparagus, cabbage, broad beans…really whatever you have.

You might want to add some fresh or frozen herbs at the blending stage – basil is great, mint would work too. I also add a little chopped garlic (I have the cheat version in a jar in the fridge but you could drop in a whole fresh clove). You could add spices if you like them.

You will need some stock – I use vegetable bouillon powder but you could use chicken/ham stock.

I add creamed coconut to give it a creamy flavour but this is optional.

Here’s what you do:

  • bring the stock to a boil in a pan (I have it coming about half way up the side of the pan and then fill the pan with vegetables)
  • add all the vegetables (frozen ones in the bottom, tougher ones next, leafier ones on the top where they will steam) & garlic/spices is you’re using them
  • bring back to the boil then simmer for 3-5 minutes – enough to heat through & cook the frozen vegetables and soften any leafy vegetables, but still keep the green colour
  • stir in a chunk of creamed coconut (I cut about 1” off a standard-sized block) & allow it a few moments to melt
  • ladle everything into your blender & blitz until smooth
  • pour back into the pan, check and adjust the seasoning, add more liquid if it’s too thick and gently reheat if needed
  • if you like a bit of texture in your soup you could add a topping (toasted sunflower seeds, crispy shallots, croutons) or add something to your soup after blending (peas, cooked rice, softened leeks, tinned cannellini beans or chick peas…)
  • enjoy!


I’ve been thinking a lot recently about #selfcare & what I can add to my life to fill up my bucket over the next few months. I think over the course of this year I’ve lost the balance of work & life a little bit and I don’t want to continue this way.

I’m very aware that if I’m not careful the things I add will start to feel like stuff-that-has-to-be-done which of course takes away the joy of doing them… The hours I work don’t leave much time for regular extra-curricular things so I’ve decided to focus on adding ‘ad hoc’ things I can do when I feel able to. My goal is definitely to add quality but not quantity. I already have enough quantity going on…!

In the context of my own life, I was already thinking about how important #selfcare is (I think last week was actually #selfcare week) when I had a conversation with a client one evening this week and was quite saddened by something she said.

She has recently experienced some leg pain and after some successful soft tissue work with her last week, I advised her on a couple of simple release exercises she could use during the week to keep her feeling more comfortable. She has been frustrated by her limited ability to exercise and is keen to get back to running.

We were catching up on her week, and talking about whether she had done any of the releases I had suggested and she said that she had literally not had the required two minutes on any day since I had seen her last!!


We had a pretty light-hearted chat about where she might have found those two minutes each day, but I really hope the message was loud & clear:

if we never put ourselves top of our own to-do list, we’ll never be at the top of our to-do list!

My lovely (& undeniably very busy) client had put everything else on her list of things she needed to do when she gets home from work– stroke the dogs, sort through the post, organise the children to practise their music, make the dinner, a large G&T…and I’m not in any way saying that those things are not important BUT I am definitely saying that those things are not more important than her leg.

I hope she heard me – I’ll be checking with her next week for sure!

Self-care comes in all shapes and sizes.

If we ignore our body when it is in pain, the pain is not going to go away, and it will probably get worse and require more time in the long run.

In the same way, if we ignore a lack of balance in our work & life, it probably isn’t going to become any more balanced…

What shape does your #selfcare look like?

stress is a sneaky thing

Stress is a sneaky thing huh?

For the last few weeks I’ve been feeling like I was falling apart inside my head – badly enough that I even thought about going to the doctor, which is always the very last resort for me – partly because I don’t think I should need to (being invincible and all that!) and partly because I am not good at asking for help (ditto!!).

It’s no secret that I’ve had previous struggles with my mental health, and even though it was a long time ago now, it is something that raises its ugly head again every once in a while. Recently it’s been worse than I’ve felt for a very long time, reaching a real crescendo over the past two weeks. I became lost in self-doubt and extremely negative self-talk, questioning everything I do on a professional and personal level, convinced that everyone thought the same about me as I was thinking about myself. I have felt like running away – an old feeling that hasn’t surfaced for more than 7 years. I have been exhausted but not sleeping, hungry but not eating, overwhelmed by work and not able to get on top of anything.

I’m not writing this down because I need or want sympathy, but merely to illustrate how bad I’ve been feeling and how different I feel now.

And the reason I feel so different is this:

My daughter had her baby. And they are both well and none of the bad things I had been imagining happened. One day a few weeks ago I literally stood in the shower in floods of tears worrying that something bad was going to happen and it felt so real that it played out in my head as if it had actually happened. Once I knew they were ok, I started to relax – not fully until I’d seen them with my own eyes – but I started to breathe again.

I think I’d been literally holding my breath for the past three weeks.

Now that I know my girl is safe and well and that her girl is safe I am sleeping, and breathing, and holding lucid thoughts again. I can recognise the mad thoughts for what they are and treat them with the distain that they deserve. My head feels calm and peaceful once more.

So the purpose of sharing all of this is to say:

never under-estimate the destructive power of stress.

While I was worrying about my girl I spiralled into a torrent of self-loathing & self-doubt that I haven’t really experienced before. I guess the noise in our head is just more audible when our defences are lowered by stress, in the same way that we’re more susceptible to bugs when our immune defences are down.

I had been focussing on my nutrition and sleep because I thought they were the problems. I thought I might need to consider medication to cope with my depression. Now I realise they were the symptoms of something else. And ironically I was adding to my stress further by thinking that I was failing to make the changes I needed, which made me feel that I needed to try even harder, which in turn made me feel like a hamster going round and around and around and around!

If you think you’re feeling stressed, now or any time, please recognise that it will be affecting you in so many ways without you knowing it. The negative feelings you may be having might be completely unrelated to but still directly caused by whatever stress you are living with. Obviously I’m not in a position to give clinical advice or tell you that everything you feel in your body is related to stress, but I am in a position to share my experience and encourage you to consider what is going on for you.

Last week I didn’t really want to be alive (although please rest assured I never came close to doing anything about that feeling).

This week I feel like me again.

I don’t love everything about myself or my life but I know that I’m ok and that I’m good enough and that I’m not the crappiest, crap person to ever walk on this earth!!

Stress huh?

Who knew it was so sneaky that it could dress itself up as other stuff!

I’ll be ready for it next time…

same old…

This week I’m wondering why it is that I keep doing the same old things over and over again? I drive myself a bit nuts because the things that I repeatedly do are the things that are repeatedly getting in my own way…

Last week, Thursday was the first night I got into bed before midnight. Work kept me up into the early hours Sun-Weds & as a result of getting gradually more and more tired, everything else went out of the window too:

• going to bed late meant I pushed back my alarm each morning
• pushing back my alarm meant I had no time for breakfast
• no time for breakfast caused a drastic dip in total nutritional content for the day
• poor nutrition made me more tired
• being more tired resulted in not going food shopping
• not going food shopping resulted in a diet of apples & green tea

Needless to say that by Friday lunchtime I was an over-tired emotional wreck, crying to a song on the radio as I drove home. Oh dear!

It’s not big and it’s not clever to let myself get into this state, and I could see all the warning signs a mile off so there’s really no excuse, but sometimes I just find it so hard to get out of my own way.

But fear not, there is a more positive ending to this tale of woe!

My weekend has been spent mostly in the kitchen:

• I bought masses of vegetables on Friday (shortly after crying to the radio!)
• I now have a ready-supply of food prepped for the week:

o roast veggies with feta cheese
o ready cooked kale and Romanesco
o spinach pre-washed and ready to go
o oven-roasted tomatoes
o banana and walnut muffins
o banana & oat cookies
o granola (see recipe below)
• I have planned out all my meals for the week ahead – to make sure I actually eat the stuff I’ve prepped

Once the food was sorted, I have also:

• focused on sleep (not quite there but I’m on the right tracks at least)
• actually started reading a book – can’t remember the last time I read a novel
• watched a film (Lion – amazing, cried my eyes out!!)
• caught up on ‘This Farming Life’ – because it makes my heart very happy
• had my van cleaned so that it is gleaming and beautiful again
• dumped about 500 emails from my inbox

So here I am, digging myself slowly out of this hole I’ve been digging myself into; determined not to trip myself up so often this week and ready to find (and bring) a little bit more of ‘me’ to the world.

This is my manifesto for October!

Since I already don’t drink or smoke, my version of Stoptober will be to stop making life so effing difficult for myself…

#onwards&upwards Jx

granola recipe

making space

Making space in your life for the things that make your heart sing is one of the most freeing things you can do. I realise that’s not earth-shattering news, but over the past 7 days I’ve really noticed a shift in my thinking as a result of making space last weekend.

I set off for the New Forest on Sunday morning to join a yoga day (in the most amazing tree-house) with a beautiful soul I met through my massage training at Jing. It was very weird. I usually get anxious about going somewhere that is unfamiliar, and as a result I often make excuses & don’t go. I worry about meeting people (in case they realise that I’m an imposter). I don’t like driving very much. I’m a bit nervous about yoga (in case I’m no good at it). So normally, with all these things in my head, I would have convinced myself not to go…

But on Sunday, I got in the van & drove there feeling bizarrely proud of myself for actually making space to do something I wanted to do and not taking the easier option of running away. And I had the most wonderful, freeing, day where I didn’t have to be anything other than me, where there was space to be held (emotionally rather than physically!), and space to move & listen to my body, and the most amazing lunch, and lovely people who included me in their chat, and nothing was even slightly scary at all!

It struck me as very odd, at 51, to be patting myself on the back for driving down the M3, but that’s really how I felt. As I drove back home I felt like a different version of me – more open, more in-tune, more free, less anxious…as if I’d been on holiday.

Of course a great yoga practice will do that for you, but it was more than that. I felt that making space for myself had given me the nudge I needed to be open to the possibility of doing other things I want to do.

On Monday I received some news that I was half-expecting but didn’t want and I felt a mixture of anger and indignation, but because I needed to get on with work, I had to shelve it until the next day. And then something odd happened. I woke up on Tuesday and realised that maybe instead of giving myself the stress of finding another way to stick with the plan, I could just take it as a massive hint that this was not my time to do that ‘thing’. And guess what? My body just let go of it in that moment. I felt calmer and really relieved, and I still do, so I know I’ve made the right choice for me right now.

The ‘thing’ was a big thing to me – the next part of my massage training – but deferring for a year or two will mean that I can start it when I am in a position to give it my full attention, instead of maybe resenting it for taking up so much of my time when I’m feeling overloaded to begin with. It means I can do it when I can afford it, rather than affording it because I want to do it. It means that I will do it when the time feels right for me, instead of doing it now in case I miss out by not doing it now. It all feels positive.

And as a side-effect of that one decision, I have also realised that I now have more time to do some things I really would like to do, but didn’t have time to commit to – a photography workshop, a monthly gong-bath session, time with my new grand-daughter (when she arrives) and maybe some drawing – and all of these things give me space to be me and make me feel excited about the way life can open up in an instant when we make space for it.

I feel like I’ve thrown away the clutter and tidied up the ‘messy drawer’ in the kitchen of my life this week!

Is there anything in your life that you need to make space for? Any clutter in your messy drawer?



restoration (wo)man

I feel a bit like George Clarke this week! I have been focusing on some restoration for myself, starting with gut health & better sleep strategies.

I have a flipchart in my office (a new addition after my sorting session a few weeks ago) and every week I set out my list for the week ahead. I split the page into quarters and list tasks under taylor-made fitness, take time retreats, me and other… For the past 2 weeks the ‘me’ goals have been:

  • reading
  • kefir
  • nutrition

I’m not sure why I put them in that order because at the moment reading is less important than the other two but that’s obviously how they came to mind.

I started with the kefir. I decided to restart my lapsed kefir habit and upgrade it by ordering direct from the supplier, Chuckling Goat, who make their goats milk kefir by hand on their farm in Wales, using traditional methods. Kefir is a fermented milk product which supports and replenishes the gut microbiome. As someone who feels everything in my gut, it makes sense to start here when I feel a bit bleuughhhh.

So with the kefir in place I then started work on my nutrition, which isn’t ever really bad, but is often not really good either! As I’ve been playing more in the kitchen over the past two weeks, I’ve been taking photos and creating photo layouts so I thought I’d share my top 3 here:

Overnight oats –

This is a super-easy, tasty, healthy breakfast which can be stored in the fridge for a few days so it saves time too.

Step 1: mix together your choice of dry ingredients (I used oats, gluten free oats, buckwheat, cashew nuts, flaked almonds, coconut chips, sunflower seeds, chia seeds – but you can vary the ingredients according to what you have & what you like);

Step 2: make nut milk (of course you can buy it but I prefer the taste of homemade – this was almonds soaked overnight, drained, rinsed, drained again, added to blender with water and a handful of coconut chips, blitzed for about 1 minute) For this recipe I don’t strain it because the ground nuts add to content & flavour of the overnight oats;

Step 3: pour the milk into the dry mixture & stir well to incorporate everything. Add more milk/water if it is too dry – it should be quite sloppy at this stage;

Step 4: put in a covered glass container & leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day you will wake up to the easiest breakfast ever! Serve with fruit compote, grated apple, a dollop of yoghurt, all three, or whatever else you fancy…

Thanks to Jenny Burrell for the original inspiration on this one – it is my go-to recipe if I want to have quick healthy breakfasts ready for the week ahead.

Roasted cauliflower & garlic soup –

This is another favourite recipe because it’s quick & tastes amazing. The recipe comes from Sharon Snowdon and is included in her e-book ’25 soup recipes’ which I bought a few years ago and still use now.

Here’s the recipe in case you want to have a go at this one:

If you like this and want to see more of Sharon’s recipes you can find them here – ’25 soup recipes’ – which is available for just £2.36. That’s less than 10p per recipe!!

Raw dark chocolate with dried cranberries, nuts, roasted buckwheat & cacao nibs –

I hadn’t made any raw chocolate for a little while and as a result I had been buying (& eating – obvs) way too many bars of Green & Black’s milk chocolate (I like the slim bars best – not sure why but it tastes better than the chunkier original version) so I decided that I definitely needed to break out of that habit PDQ!

Instead of making moulded chocolates I decided to make it super-simple by pouring the mixture into trays and cutting into chunks when set. I got a bit fancy by toasting some buckwheat and cashews for a few minutes, which added a lovely texture and flavour to the finished product. I also added dried cranberries & a handful of raw cacao nibs for even more crunch.

Here’s the recipe in case you need to address any chocolate habits of your own:

I’m happy to report that after nine days on kefir, some better breakfasts & lunches, less cheap chocolate and a little bit of effort getting to bed slightly earlier, I feel much more grounded and back in my body.

It’s always the same. If only I didn’t let these habits slip in the first place, oh how simple life would be???!

I hope you have some fun with or take a little piece of inspiration from the recipes here. It makes so much difference to plan ahead and have things ready so that when you look in the fridge you’re much more likely to reach for a healthy, restorative meal/snack – rather than two bars of G&B!

TW health & well-being live – VIP offer:

I have been following this event for the past couple of weeks, thinking that maybe I’ll go along and have a listen to some of the speakers and generally see what’s new. I was holding back on buying a ticket because I’m not good at making a commitment so I was just leaving it until nearer the time…and then yesterday they lured me in with a special offer!

I’m not always a sucker for a special offer, but as I was looking at it anyway, and thinking that I’d probably go, I actually bought my ticket last night. I made a commitment – go me!! And it turns out I was the very first VIP so I think that makes me a VVIP?!

The offer is open until 8pm on Saturday 16th September and it gives you a VIP ticket for the price of a non-VIP ticket (£15). As a VIP you get access to the event including all the speakers and workshops, plus a glass of fizz, plus a 15-minute spa session.

You can find all the event details here

To take advantage of the offer, choose the VIP ticket and add the discount code ‘BUBBLES’ & then you’ll be a VIP like me (although obviously you won’t be the first one!)

tmf stuff:

This has been a lovely week – classes are all back to normal & it’s great to see you all again; I did lots of ‘getting stuff done’ stuff at the weekend so I’m feeling caught up again; the retreat venue is all fully paid up; massage clients are noticing great results; and the sun is shining which is an added bonus.

I love all areas of my business (apart from the tax return bits) but I’m especially enjoying being back teaching after a few weeks off over the summer.

Kettlercise delivers every time! If I’m honest, I can’t say that I always look forward to it when I wake up on a Thursday morning – because by that stage in the week I’m usually pretty tired – but I absolutely always feel better once it’s done. I hope you feel the same way? (except obviously I hope that you do wake up full of excitement every Thursday!!)

Fitness Pilates is always very close to my heart. I hope that it helps you to find some stillness in your busy day, time to stop and notice what is happening in your body, and time to reconnect with how your body moves. I think that stopping is so important when the rest of your time is spent on the go.

Whether you come to classes or I see you for PT or massage sessions, making a regular commitment to your health is amazing and I love being part of that. Thank you.

Here’s how the week ahead looks:

  • Monday 18th – 1 x PT client, lots of office time, Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday 19th – PT clients and seniors FP @ 10.40am in Sissinghurst
  • Wednesday 20th – PT and massage clients
  • Thursday 21st – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 22nd – PT clients and FP @ 10.20am in Iden Green (& a haircut in the afternoon)

I am fully booked for massage on Wednesday but have 2 spaces available on Tuesday @ 3pm & 4.30pm so let me know if you’d like an hour on my table and a body which feels more connected.

& finally:

A little thought from the late, great Roald Dahl in honour of his birthday this week.

Lukewarm is no good…be an enthusiast this weekend



changing seasons

changing seasons

I always seem to struggle most at this time of year and I think it has been worse than usual this time around. I don’t deal very well with the changing seasons and for me this is the worst seasonal shift, going from summer to autumn. Although actually I like autumn once it’s here, I find the shift a bit challenging as I start to dread the shorter, darker days. I think this year the changing seasons are also causing me to reflect on some shifting times within my family & thoughts about the years ahead.

There are also two dates on the calendar which bring up painful memories and they both fall in this time. No matter how much I rationalise the thoughts I have about them, they still mess with my head, and then I get annoyed with myself that I have let it happen again.

One of the dates is the anniversary of the date I got married. I’ve talked about it many times before so I won’t go there again but something was said last week which touched a nerve and it’s been on my mind since. A friend remarked that still having my wedding dress all these years later was just ‘cluttering up my loft’. I don’t generally ‘do’ clutter so I was slightly offended and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think she was wrong.

Keeping my wedding dress (and all my files of notes from uni!) is a reminder of who I was at 21. It’s a reminder of the optimism and hope and intention I had then; a sign of my youthful, naïve joy about the world; a symbol of some of my hopes and dreams & a snapshot of who I was before life became different. I think it’s great to have those reminders, not least because of how I coped when everything didn’t go as I hoped and dreamed.

There have been times this week when I have wondered if I will be able to carry all the shifting times within my family. Remembering that I have coped with shifts and changes before, helps me to believe that I can cope with changing seasons & shifting times now too.

So, to summarise, the lessons I’m taking away from this week are:

  1. one woman’s clutter is another woman’s hopes and dreams/life lesson
  2. Bob Dylan was right – the times they are a-changin’

What did you learn this week?? I’d love to know.

tmf stuff:

Next week is my first full, normal week back after the summer so I’m looking forward to seeing you then if I haven’t already. This week has been a bit of a trial run – but I think I’ve survived ok!

For those of you who started back this week, and especially my Kettlercise class, I hope you didn’t ache too much from your first session? Today I’m finding it a challenge to get up off the sofa but I think the answer is to not sit down in the first place! I’m reminding myself to keep moving…

If you’re new to my newsletter this is the section to check for weekly updates and reminders about classes, as well as details of availability for massage appointments in the coming week. That being the case, here are the details for next week:

  • Monday 11th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday 12th – PT & massage clients plus Seniors FP class @ 10.40am in Sissinghurst
  • Wednesday 13th – PT & massage clients
  • Thursday 14th – PT clients plus Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 15th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 10.20am in Iden Green

I have a few massage appointments available as follows – 3.30pm & 6pm on Tuesday 12th; 1.30pm & 4.30pm on Wednesday 13th. Let me know if you’d like further details

take time retreat:

There are just 8 weeks until the take time retreat takes place in Goudhurst so I’ve been busy working away behind the scenes for that.

I always knew it would take a lot of work to launch this new venture, and I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work, but I think I had maybe underestimated the amount of time it would take in these early stages. I am totally committed to this project so you might just need to bear with me talking about it endlessly for the next few weeks…and then afterwards I promise I’ll stop for a little while, until I plan the next one. (I’m thinking April 2018 in case you want to know in advance?!)

For the current retreat (7th-10th November) there are a few rooms available, so any help you have offered/can offer in sharing details or sharing social media posts has been & will continue to be much appreciated. I have some beautiful (if I say so myself!) postcards printed so please let me know if you can share any in your workplace or neighbourhood. The more you share, the less I’ll talk about it!!!

& finally:

To cheer myself up I have been creating Instagram photos with an autumnal feel this week. They are all black & white (because that is my 365 project this year) but I think the lack of colour adds a little atmosphere so I like them better this way. Here are my favourites:

Have a beautiful, hopefully-not-too-wet, autumnal weekend Jx