has bean

I ‘has bean’ spending some time this week trying out recipes from Elly Pear’s ‘Let’s Eat’ (see last week’s newsletter for more details on this lovely new cook-book). I should stress that I’m not on commission (Elly won’t even know I’m writing this) but I am a huge fan of her style of writing and her way of organising flavours and foods into something fresh and inspiring.

I was really excited to make the ‘lentil, tomato & coconut dhal’ and I thought it would be my first dip into the book, but instead I started with ‘black beans – refried if you like’ swiftly followed by the ‘mushroom, lentil and walnut ragu’. Both recipes are great and I have these two stored in the freezer in individual portions ready for quick, easy, healthy, nutritious, home-cooked meals in a hurry.

I tried the black beans with tortilla tostadas and mashed avocado which was a really filling late lunch that kept me going through to breakfast the next day. I have never liked refried beans (I think I’ve only had them made from kidney beans before) but this version has a good texture and tastes delicious as well as being a versatile base for other dishes. I think this will be a regular in my kitchen from now on.

I ate a portion of the lentil ragu as a quick lunch on Monday, reheated in a pan and served with sliced avocado. When I made this recipe I mixed in some different varieties of mushroom and the flavour of these with the green lentils and tomatoes is amazing. The nuts give an interesting texture to the finished dish – I didn’t have enough walnuts so I subbed in some cashews instead and they worked fine. It’s great to find recipes which can be easily and successfully adapted to suit what you have available.

As I write I’m (finally) cooking the lentil dhal (which is taking longer than planned – maybe due to using Prince Charles’ organic red lentils instead of a cheaper brand??!). When it’s ready it will be a late lunch/evening meal served with home-grown (not by me!) mange tout peas but I have also been brave and bought tofu so I can try out one of Elly Pear’s suggestions (dhal served with ‘seared tofu, avocado. pickles and seeds’) at a later date. I’m not yet a fan of tofu but I’m hoping to be converted now I know more about how to cook it!

Five things I’ve noticed this week since I bought ‘Let’s Eat’:

  1. I’m feeling more interested in cooking than I have for a while – a good cook-book will do that in the same way that all good books have the power to inspire us
  2. I feel really well (compared to how I have felt lately) – more energy even though I’ve been working long days and we’ve had some hot weather (in case you hadn’t noticed?)
  3. I haven’t felt hungry between meals – no doubt because I’m actually eating meals instead of filling up on cheese/crackers/apples when I’m hungry
  4. I haven’t eaten (or wanted to eat) any rubbish this week – ok I did eat a magnum on Monday but only because it was hot and I did at least walk to the shop and back so I think I can get away with that one!
  5. Even when I haven’t had anything freshly cooked (ie on days when I haven’t had time to do it) I have made much better meal choices than I have ‘bean’ doing – eg. scrambled eggs and asparagus for breakfast one day; olives, feta cheese and artichoke hearts for supper one night; nuts to snack on when I’m not at home for a meal…

I’m sharing this not to boast at all, but simply to remind myself, and anyone else who needs a reminder, that how we eat has such power to transform how we feel. Even though we all know this stuff I am genuinely surprised at how different I feel and how quickly I started to feel different.

If eating well can make me feel great on a week when I’ve worked some really long days, slept not so well due to the heat and at a time when I haven’t ‘bean’ feeling 100% for a while, imagine how awesome we could all feel if we ate well on good weeks too!! And it’s not just our bodies & brains that benefit – if you are responsible for feeding young people, think how much nicer they will be to live with if they eat well?!

Maybe you already eat really well, maybe you do it sometimes and then fall off the wagon, or maybe you need a good cook-book to get you inspired too…?

tmf stuff:

Firstly, a big thank you to my lovely Friday FP people who accommodated my last minute change of plans last week so that I could get to Brighton for my graduation without melting in a pool of sweat as a result of a last-minute dash to get there on time. Thanks to you (and in spite of an unplanned drive home for a bra that I forgot to pack!) I arrived in good time, not too sweaty and not too dishevelled. I don’t have any photos but there will be one or two in due course, which I will share if I feel they are worthy of sharing…

And secondly well done to everyone for coping with training in the heat this week – although I love it I am a little bit happy that it has cooled down slightly since Wednesday.

So next week looks like this:

  • Monday 26th June – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday 27th – PT clients and seniors Fitness Pilates @ 10.40am in Sissinghurst
  • Wednesday 28th – PT and massage clients
  • Thursday 29th – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 30th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 10.20am & 11.30am in Iden Green

If anyone is interested in the book I have been using this week in Fitness Pilates it is called ‘the art of breathing’ by Dr Danny Penman. It has some lovely, easy-to-follow breathing meditations that you can try at home if you are interested in mindfulness.

Clinical massage:

If you have a massage booked in the coming weeks and you’re worried about the heat (just in case it lasts a while) I have bought some super-sized, super-soft, cotton Turkish towels so they are an option if you prefer not to be snuggled up inside two super-sized bath-sheets on a really hot day. I bought them with pregnant clients in mind but they have been a popular choice with all clients this week.

If you are interested in booking a massage next week I currently have availability on Tuesday 27th @ 3pm & 4.30pm and Wednesday 28th @ 8pm.

For details on availability in the coming weeks please drop me an email and I will let you know what I have.

First aid courses:

I have a bit of an update since last week –

  • the likely date for the courses is Sunday 9th July in Benenden village hall
  • the morning course will run 9am-1pm (approx) and will be an emergency first aid course for members of the public (ie. it is a public course rather than a work-related course) covering emergency first aid for adults
  • the afternoon course will run 1.30pm-5.30pm (approx) and will be a baby and child first aid course (also a public course suitable for anyone who has or cares for babies and children)

As soon as I have full details including costs and number of spaces I will put together a flyer to promote the courses via my facebook pages and via direct email to interested parties. If you haven’t already done so you can follow my facebook page here to ensure that you don’t miss the information.

Please let me know if you &/or friends are interested.

& finally:

Have you always fancied having a go at SUP (stand-up paddle-boarding)?? I have and I know a man (or rather I know his wife) who will run a small group session just for us if there is enough interest!!

A half-day session for beginners to learn SUP at Bewl Water will cost £30 each with tuition and equipment provided. The session can be 9.30am-12.30pm or 1.30-4.30pm any weekday. We ideally need 8 interested parties so if this is something you have always wanted to try please let me know NOW so that we can get the ball rolling. If there is enough interest I will firm up a date and time with Richard and confirm it with you all.

Just think how cool it will be to learn a new skill and have some time just for you, away from all that life demands of you…

& finally, finally:

I’ve been thinking about adding cat-pilates to the timetable – what do you think??!

Jx

 

batch-cooking

I’m a little bit embarrassed to be writing about batch-cooking while my ready-made (by Waitrose) crust less green vegetable and feta quiche is heating up in the oven…BUT it is at least accompanied by some home-cooked roasted vegetables that I batch-cooked at the weekend.

In a previous lifetime when I was a chef, and another lifetime when, for a couple of years, I didn’t work full-time, I spent many happy hours batch-cooking and sometimes I still get inspired to do it. The problem when you’re batch-cooking for one is that you tend to eat the same thing every day for a few days until it is gone, and then you never want to eat it again!

One solution is to make several different batches at once, freeze them all in single-sized portions and ring the changes by defrosting a different meal each day. Which works on one level, but still results in mealtime déjà vu.

The other solution is to buy Elly Pear’s beautiful new cook book ‘Let’s Eat’ which was published on Thursday. I had my copy on pre-order so was really excited to find it on the doorstep when I got home. The book includes:

  • batch-cooking recipes which work brilliantly as they are but which can also be transformed by using the original recipe as the basis for other meals (with the recipes for all the dishes)
  • building blocks which are simple foods to have in the fridge or larder on which a wide range of meals can be based
  • a whole section on menus & recipes for different situations (eg. ‘baby shower brunch for a crowd with breast-feeding mums who could eat a horse’ or ‘dinner for four when you want to show off a bit but not stress’)

All the recipes are meat-free, mostly vegetarian and some with fish. All the recipes are easy to follow, quick to make and cost-efficient too. There’s really nothing not to love here!

I went to Spain about 10 years ago and Elly (real name Curshen not Pear!) was in the group of us that set off to L’Alberca for a week of English conversation with Spanish-speaking business people. It was a great week (life-changing for me as it turned out) – very busy & very boozy – and if I’m honest I don’t really remember too much about Elly, except that she smiled A LOT & she made us all go out and drink sherry when we got back to Madrid!

Since then she has set up The Pear Café in Bristol and published her first cook book ‘Fast Days & Feast Days’ (which is well worth a look if you haven’t already done so). I love her style of writing and her passion for food and flavours. It really speaks to me and my preferred style of eating (even though it is not what I practice often enough). I love the way that she makes it easy to eat interesting meals and I can’t wait to dive into this book. First up for me will be the lentil, tomato & coconut dhal which looks and sounds amazing…I’ll let you know next week!

& in the meantime if you want to buy a copy it’s available at half price at the moment…

tmf stuff:

It was strange that not everyone came back to Kettlercise this week?! In the heat on Thursday it was an even sweatier workout than last week but ‘inferno’ still felt awesome! Please come back next week – let’s make it a full house…you know you want to!!

As for the rest of next week, it looks like this:

  • Monday 19th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates (8.10pm in Benenden)
  • Tuesday 20th – PT clients, massage clients and seniors Fitness Pilates (10.40am in Sissinghurst)
  • Wednesday 21st – PT clients and massage clients (and a trip to the dog groomer for Archie)
  • Thursday 22nd – PT clients and ‘inferno’ @ Kettlercise (9.10am in Benenden)
  • Friday 23rd – PT clients and Fitness Pilates (10.20am & 11.30am in Iden Green)

I look forward to seeing you all at some point next week.

& finally:

I realise I have been very quiet about a few planned projects recently, but please rest assured that I am committed to doing my absolute best to make the following things happen:

  • a couple of first aid courses for members of the public who would like to learn some basic skills – I am hoping to set this up on a weekend day (half day for an emergency first aid course & half day for a baby & child first aid course) but need an indication of which day would be most popular. If you think you might be interested could you let me know whether Saturday or Sunday is best so that I can try to book a hall space and my lovely first aid trainer. There will be a cost for the courses but I will keep it as low as possible, just to cover hall hire and the trainer’s costs.
  • a second raw chocolate workshop – again, if you think you might be interested please let me know whether a Friday evening or a Saturday morning is best for you
  • my wellness retreat aimed at women over 50 who would like to hang up their life for a few days and nights and enjoy some serious ‘me-time’ – this is loosely scheduled for October/November with final details to be arranged in the next 3 weeks. If you think you might be interested in this event please drop me an email and I will make sure you are the first to know about it once I have all the details finalised.

I think that’s enough planning for the time-being, but if I missed anything, give me a nudge because sometimes I forget to keep all the plates spinning!

If you’re at Elbow on Saturday I’ll see you down the front by the stage (or in the queue for the ladies?!) and if you’re not at Elbow on Saturday night, I hope you have something equally lovely to look forward to.

Jx

 

learned in kindergarten

A few weeks ago I tracked down a poem which I used to have on my office wall many years ago. I was walking the dog when I thought about it and could only remember one line, but Google being Google helped me to go straight to it. The following Monday while teaching Fitness Pilates I decided I would read it at the end of the class and I found myself getting really emotional as I did so because I really belief the truth of these words.

I don’t think I like the world very much these days. My coping mechanism is to go inward and create distractions which help my own little world feel safe. I dig the soil in my garden, I look at pretty things, I switch off from social media, I light candles, I listen to the rain, I drink green tea, I eat chocolate, I dream of seeing humpback whales…

In these messy times, I think this poem sums up for me all the things which matter most (apart from the milk, because milk NEVER features in my life!). If I was going to be a political party I would borrow Robert Fulghum’s words as the basis for my manifesto.

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

“Most of what I really need to know about how to live,

And what to do and how to be,

I learned in kindergarten.

Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain,

But there in the sand-pile at Sunday school.

 

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

 

Live a balanced life –

Learn some and think some

And draw and paint and sing and dance

And play and work every day some.

 

Take a nap every afternoon.

 

When you go out into the world,

Watch out for traffic,

Hold hands and stick together.”

 

In fact, reading it again just now, I like it so much I have ordered the book so I can read more of his simple truths until the madness stops. I might be sharing his words with you for a while yet…

tmf stuff:

I have to start by saluting the awesome women who joined me for the new half term of Kettlercise yesterday -I think we totally rocked the new release!! ‘Inferno’ definitely got us all a bit hot and sweaty on Thursday morning. I’m already looking forward to doing it all again next week…don’t you dare find excuses not to come back!

Secondly someone said to me this week how much they loved the Monday evening Fitness Pilates classes and it made me feel really proud of having created a space where you can all come and set aside your life for an hour and feel better when you walk back out of the door. It also made me reflect on just how lucky I am to have all of you in my life. As I’m writing this I feel exhausted but so very appreciative of the fact that I get to spend every day doing stuff that I love. Thank you xx

The week ahead looks like this:

  • Monday 12th June – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday 13th – PT & massage clients plus seniors FP in Sissinghurst @ 10.40am
  • Wednesday 14th – PT & massage clients (I have one massage space available at 2pm in case you’d like it?)
  • Thursday 15th PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden (& my Dad’s 82nd birthday!)
  • Friday 16th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates in Iden Green @ 10.20am & 11.30am*

* as soon as I finish teaching at 12.30pm on Friday 16th I have to literally run out of the door so that I can get to Brighton on time for my Jing graduation so please note we will be starting and finishing super-promptly and no loitering or chatting will be tolerated at the end of the class. You have been warned!!

& finally:

I have recently switched over to wearing Vivobarefoot shoes and I wanted to let you know that as part of Minimalist Month they currently have an amazing sale on, in case you are interested in giving them a try. Of course we are all different, but I have long-believed that we can all benefit from creating a stronger connection between our feet and the ground we walk on. I did have a brief dabble into barefoot shoes a few years ago and it was not entirely successful then, mostly because I was impatient and didn’t give my body time to adapt. This time around I have had no problems at all and I am loving my Vivo-feet!

If you want to know more about Minimalist Month, including some great lifestyle challenges, you can visit Vivobarefoot here – your feet will thank you for it.

 

Wishing you a weekend full of simple things and bare feet Jx

take time to…

This line cropped up many times during my first few courses at Jing and I thought it was so relevant for me as a therapist and for the clients visiting my massage room that I had it made up as a wall sign and I read it every time before a treatment starts. This week I heard a couple of different variations whilst I was at Jing and it got me thinking that maybe I need to add some extra lines to my wall…

The more I’ve considered it, the more I’ve started to elaborate & I decided that it would make a good topic for the newsletter because in our increasingly busy lives maybe we all need to stop and take time sometimes or just open ourselves up to a shift in focus. I don’t think of it as yet another thing to do, I think of it as a better/kinder/more healthy way to live.

So here are a few of my favourites so far – you can interpret them in any way that resonates with you, but I’ve added some of my thoughts for each one:

  • take time to let go (of your day/week/life; of physical or mental burdens; of limiting ideas; of anxieties; of all the things which are not yours to carry…)
  • take time to breathe (how does it feel on your exhale? what happens to your body on your inhale? where do you feel the breath in your body? are there areas of your body which seems restricted when you breathe? how do you feel after a few moments focusing on your breath?)
  • take time to be present (I think this quote sums it up nicely – “wherever you are, be all there” – Jim Eliot)
  • take time to reconnect (with yourself, your family, your friends; with nature; with your local community; with the changing seasons…)
  • take time to create space (literally creating physical space or creating more room for your thoughts; creating space for the things you would like more of in your life; creating space for health and wellness; creating space to nurture your soul…)
  • take time to notice joy (this is my favourite one – I think that more than anything this is what gets us through tough times – actively noticing the joy in all the little moments in our day adds up to a whole lot of positive energy to off-set all the things which are not so joyful; if I learned anything last week it was to never stop looking for joy…)
  • take time to listen (hear what is being said; hear the sounds of nature (wind in the tress, birdsong, waves crashing on the beach, the summery sound of a lawn-mower); the sound of laughter; music that reaches into your heart; poetry; the sound of a classic car/aeroplane/motorbike…)

What would you add to the list?

What else do you think we need to take time…for?

pregnancy & post-natal massage:

After the sadness of last Thursday, it was very healing for me to spend 3 days at Jing in Brighton last weekend and the course was probably my favourite yet.

I have now completed two pregnancy & post-natal massage courses (one with Burrell Education & this one with Jing) and I truly believe that between them I have received the very best education available in the UK for working with this population.

I am really looking forward to putting in into practice so please bear me in mind if you know of anyone who is pregnant (or post-natal) and experiencing symptoms such as low back & pelvis pain, neck & shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, sleep issues, cramping in the legs or muscle soreness from postural changes.

Massage is wonderful at all stages of pregnancy, promoting reduced musculo-skeletal strain & pain, better sleep, reduced anxiety, improved relaxation (which in turn links to steadier blood pressure, pulse & breathing rates; regular blood flow to the uterus, placenta and foetus; healthier immune system function; improved emotional state and an improved response to stressful stimuli – Nichols & Humenick 2000)

If you know someone who might benefit from pregnancy or post-natal massage please pass my details on to them and ask them to drop me an email to find out more about how it can help.

tmf stuff:

Next week I am taking time to have a week off…

  • from right now until Sunday 4th June I am on leave so there are no classes, no PT sessions and no massage appointments available! Instead there will be a little bit of curtain-making, wall-building, tiling, painting, gardening & cake-baking along with possibly some reading, walking, tax-returning, retreat-planning, sleeping, meditating and general battery-recharging! Seems like a lot to fit into a week but I’ll give it a good try.

The following week looks like this:

  • Monday 5th June – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday 6th – PT & massage clients and seniors Fitness Pilates @ 10.40am in Sissinghurst
  • Wednesday 7th – PT & massage clients
  • Thursday 8th – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 9th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 10.20am & 11.30am in Iden Green

My next availability for massage appointments is week commencing 19th June so if you’re thinking about booking, it’s best to do it sooner rather than later so that by the time you’ve thought about it, it will nearly be time for your appointment. If you keep thinking about it without actually booking it, you might have a while to wait!

& finally:

On Wednesday (& Thursday!) this week I saw Tom Chaplin play at DLWP and one of my favourite moments was when he sang one of my favourite songs ‘Blowing in the Wind’. I think it is beautifully fitting and I have added a link below in case you want to have a listen.

I didn’t film this clip myself but I am so delighted I found it on You Tube because it includes at the start a subtle put-down by Tom of a drunken buffoon who was standing in front of us acting like a total arse! I’m so glad someone caught it on film so that I can relive the moment!!!! I hope you like the cover as much as I do:

Have a fabulous week – I hope you find time to take time for all the big/little important stuff. I won’t write a newsletter next week but I’ll see you all the following week. Jx

first aid

It’s National Vegetarian Week this week! (I’m wondering if every week is a ‘national something’ week??!) Anyhow, I was going to write about that but something happened on Thursday that totally changed my focus. So instead I’m writing about first aid:

I want to start by saying that this thing didn’t happen to me and I’m not looking for any applause or sympathy because none is required at all. This thing happened to a gentleman & his beautiful wife – a lady with so much dignity and composure and grace and kindness for everyone around her, at a time of unimaginable pain, that I cannot get her out of my mind. I’m sharing the story only because one of the paramedics said something to me which really hit home.

I have been a (very reluctant) trained first aider for over 20 years. In that time I have mostly been scared in case I ever need to use my training. I have many times stated (during training sessions) that I wouldn’t offer my help – not out of any desire to neglect someone in need, but because I didn’t think I would be able to do what was required. I have seen several severe incidents in my working life and for the main part have only been involved in a supporting role, but I still carry them all with me.

On Thursday morning I was caught up in traffic and noticed an injured party on the road. There were people around him and I nearly drove on thinking that he was in good hands. Something made me pause as I drove by to ask if they needed a first aider. They did & it turned out it was me. I wasn’t alone – there were already 3 or 4 people controlling traffic, speaking to the ambulance service on the phone and starting to administer first aid – and after I had arrived a nurse appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and we worked together. And my training clicked into place like I had always been assured it would.

I was later told by one of the paramedics that our prompt actions in working on the patient and getting a defibrillator onto his chest as soon as we did gave them the best chance to resuscitate him when they arrived. He told me that often they are too late to administer shocks to the heart because too much damage has been done in the intervening time.

Sadly, in spite of the prolonged and concerted efforts of an amazing team of paramedics, there is no happy ending to this story and my heart is with the man’s beautiful wife and family tonight.

It is a truly sad story but I hope that maybe it might inspire you to get yourself first aid trained if you are not already. No doubt about it, first aid is scary stuff but it’s huge, important, potentially life-saving stuff. First aid courses don’t cost much (about £50 for a basic course) and there are training venues all over the country. Check out St John Ambulance or Red Cross or browse online for other training providers. Maybe get a group of friends together and do a course as a group? You can train in adult or child first aid, or both.

If for whatever reason you don’t feel able to do a first aid course, the very least you can do is find out where the nearest defibrillator is in the places where you spend most time. It’s usually located on the outside of a village hall or a pub or other noticeable building in an area where there are people. Do you know where the nearest defibrillator is to your house or place of work? I know where they are in venues where I teach but after today I will also find out where they are in Cranbrook too. Of course, in an emergency, Community First Responders will bring a defibrillator with them but knowing where one is, in case you can get to it even sooner, might make all the difference. If you only do one thing this weekend please find out where yours is and tell everyone you meet to do the same.

We all hope we will never need to use our first aid training or have cause to use a defibrillator, and these things might not always save a life, but they will definitely give someone the best chance possible when they need it the most.

tmf stuff:

Next week we are back to normal for a week and then I have a week off over half term. Here’s how the days are stacking up:

  • Monday 22nd May – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday – PT clients & seniors FP In Sissinghurst @ 10.40am
  • Wednesday – PT & massage clients (and Tom Chaplin @ DLWP)
  • Thursday – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am (apologies again to everyone who was affected by events on Thursday this week – credits and extra niceness will come your way!)
  • Friday – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 10.20am & 11.30am (and a haircut for me)

Missed classes from Thursday this week will be credited next term. PT sessions will be rescheduled.

I have only one massage appointment available next week, at 12.30pm on Wednesday 24th. Please let me know if you can make use of it. I attended a master-class about working with scar tissue on Wednesday so feel free to bring your scars with you if you have any!

& finally:

On Wednesday I went to bed feeling irked and irritated by something and I woke up with it in the forefront of my mind on Thursday. I reminded myself that the thing did not need to be carried into my day and I successfully put it down as I went about my morning routine. Being witness to a traumatic incident a few hours later reminded me that time is short, life is precious and none of us knows when we’re getting out of here.

It was a timely reminder not to spend our days crying into tuna salad (#reallifesituation #notmine)

Take care Jx

 

blue sky & sunshine

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we probably all know someone who has mental health issues to some degree or another. Maybe ourselves; maybe friends or family; maybe work colleagues; maybe a friend of a friend…probably there is someone who comes to mind for you when the subject arises.

If you want to know more about Mental Health Awareness Week, for yourself or someone you know, you can click on the link below to visit the Mental Health Foundation website for information and resources:

I learned something about my own mental health this week…

I’ve been feeling pretty low for the past few weeks – most likely the after-effect of being a bit super-charged for a bit too long – and because this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it was the perfect time to make a concerted effort to take care of my own mental health. I’ve just being doing little things, everyday stuff, things I can add to my life without adding extra load to my days (and these things have made a difference) but on Wednesday I had a massive breakthrough, and it was totally outside my control…

THE SUN SHONE – AND IT FELT AMAZING

I sat in the garden for 20 minutes with a meditation app and a cup of tea and by the time I came back in to get on with work I literally felt like a totally different person. And then I had a really great rest of the day. And on Thursday morning I still felt different (see below).

And it got me thinking that all the most amazing, heart-swelling, glad-to-be-alive moments in my life have one thing in common…blue sky and sunshine. Obviously there are family moments of immense importance and joy which maybe didn’t involve blue sky and sunshine, but those aside, every other glad-to-be-alive moment has definitely coincided with blue sky and sunshine.

One Christmas I decided that the kids and I needed a break so instead of buying presents I bought us a holiday in Portugal. It was not without incident, not least the fact that my first time driving abroad brought about a little panic and lots of tears and a mini breakdown (me not the car!) before we even left the airport! But, once we got where we were going (and I got used to driving on the wrong side of the road) it felt pretty good. The sky was blue & the sun shone every day & it was just about warm enough for a barbecue on the beach and swimming in the sea on Christmas Day. I remember calling my parents from the beach to wish them a Happy Christmas and my mum said she wished she could afford to pay for me to go on holiday every winter because I sounded like a different person. Sadly she never has paid for a winter holiday for me but I vividly remember how I felt that day.

I felt the same way the first time I went skiing. Just thinking about the colour of the sky high in the mountains & the strength of the sun makes me feel giddy. It almost takes my breath away. I cried every day for 3 months after that first ski trip – I missed the sky so much! And I’ve loved it every time I’ve been back.

The sun and the red roads of Africa have the same effect and the sunshine in Iceland last summer was just as intoxicating.

I’m not sure it’s the sun so much as the size & colour of the sky that lifts my soul. Maybe it’s a combination of the bright light, the scale of it, the intense blue & the heat on my skin. Either way, it’s a powerful mixture and it helps me to connect with who I feel I really am.

I was not born to live under grey skies!

I’m not sure what I can do with this new-found realisation (other than moving to Africa maybe??!!) but it has helped me to understand a bit more about myself. So while I work out how to relocate my business and all of you to a new continent, I might have to invent some kind of blue-sky-and-sunshine head-gear or maybe a bright blue umbrella with lights inside it so that I can take it with me wherever I go…!?!

tmf stuff for w/c 15th May:

I’m back at Jing for 4 days next week so the tmf week is slightly disrupted…but I will come back with enhanced massage skills for working with scars (Wednesday) and working with pre- and post-natal clients (Friday-Sunday). I’m looking forward to being back there without the weight of exams and I look forward to sharing it all with you later.

Here’s how the rest of the tmf week looks:

  • Monday 15th May – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden (lots of standing exercises for you to enjoy!)
  • Tuesday 16th May – PT and massage clients; seniors Fitness Pilates in Sissinghurst @ 10.40am
  • Thursday 18th May – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 19th May – there are no Fitness Pilates classes today – normal service resumes next week

I don’t have any massage appointments available next week but I have a couple of spaces for w/c 22nd May – please email me if you are interested.

& finally:

I have limited time on Thursday mornings but this week I was still feeling energised from the day before and in the hour available I crammed in an extra 15 minutes sleep, drank a cup of tea, ate breakfast at home (instead of in the van), fed my animals, showered, dressed, made the bed, put some washing on to dry, packed a change of clothes for after my class, got the dog organised and still arrived at my first clients’ only 2-minutes late…

I was feeling pretty proud of myself until (too late to do anything about it!) I realised that I had forgotten to put the tortoise out in the garden…

You can perhaps imagine my deep joy and happiness on finding, when I arrived home eight hours later, that the (once beautiful wool) rug inside the front door was covered (and I do mean covered!) in tortoise poop, which had been walked over time after time, crushing it well & truly into the pile! And it wasn’t just the sight of it, but the smell too…

The rug has already been replaced once after my Dad inadvertently walked dog poop literally all over it… This time it has been scraped and shampooed to within an inch of its life. I can’t decide yet whether it just smells of wet wool or whether there is still a whiff of tortoise poop – but I’ll let you know in due course!!!!

My advice is:

  1. don’t get a tortoise
  2. if you get a tortoise, don’t forget to put it in the garden
  3. once you’ve put it in the garden, leave it there forever and never, never, never let it loose on your carpets again!!!

You have been warned…

Jx

is chicken ok for you?

This week I have been really struck by the feeling that nothing stays the same. There seems to be a state of flux in life at the moment. There’s so much ebbing and flowing going on all around us as we go about our day. I guess it’s always there but it feels very real at the moment. In the larger world around me I am noticing new life, illness, end of life, lives starting to slip away; doors closing, doors opening; laughter, sadness, love & isolation…

I was thinking about this and feeling a little lost on Wednesday and reached for a book which has been on my shelf, untouched, for a few years. It just seemed that it was the right book in that moment and I found lots there to calm my soul, in particular this:

“When you walk through a forest that has not been tamed and interfered with by man, you will see not only abundant life all around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees and decaying trunks, rotting leaves and decomposing matter at every step. Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life. Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves. Microorganisms are at work. Molecules are rearranging themselves. So death isn’t to be found anywhere. There is only the metamorphosis of life forms.”

The passage is taken from ‘Stillness Speaks’ by Eckhart Tolle.

I was especially drawn to the idea that life shifts and changes, rearranges & continues in a different form as this is very much what is happening in my family right now. I saw my parents last weekend and was very sad to leave them because sometimes I feel that life is tough for them right now and I’m not geographically close enough to make any practical difference. Reading this passage gave me some comfort that what they are living with is a time of rearrangement. Things will settle, and then they might be unsettled again, and then they will settle again…their life is changing shape but that is just how it’s going to be and knowing that helps me to feel a bit better about it.

On Saturday my Mum asked me several times if chicken was ok for me. It isn’t – I’m vegetarian!! – and it’s easy to get frustrated when she forgets the answer (and sometimes I confess that the odd swear word featured in my replies) but hidden in her question is the reminder that she cares enough to worry what I’m going to have for dinner, and I love that. Life might be changing and shifting but the basics are still right there, even if they sometimes get lost in the chaos.

Another quote from Eckhart Tolle just came to mind:

“Whatever your life situation is, how would you feel if you completely accepted it as it is – right now?”

Now there’s a thought, huh?!

letters after my name:

I’ve had letters after my name since I completed my degree in 1988 but they’ve never really meant very much to me. I didn’t even go to my graduation. It’s not that I didn’t work for my BA but I think I didn’t value it as having any relevance to who I was. I did it because a careers guidance teacher suggested it and I didn’t have any other ideas…

Last week I heard the news that I had successfully passed my theory & practical assessments for my massage course and I am very proud to be able to add the letters ACMT (Advanced Clinical Massage Therapist) after my name! I have worked hard for these letters. I did it because it feels like my purpose and something I want to be doing for the rest of my days. I feel deeply connected to this work and these letters. I’m even thinking I might be brave enough to go to my graduation this time…

I just realised that the week after next it will be exactly 1 year since I very first stepped (nervously) over the threshold at Jing and I’ll be going back there again, less nervously, to learn some more. And in October I take the next step when I start on the BTEC…I’m just looking for even more letters to add to my business card!!!

tmf stuff:

I’ve decided I don’t really like bank holiday weeks! Everything feels a little out of kilter all week and as a self-employed person I find myself squeezing 5 days’ work into 4 days!! I’m avoiding the next one by taking a whole week off at the very end of May and I think I don’t need to worry about the next one after that for a while, but I just wanted to share that with you!!

So next week we are back to a usual week, which will look like this:

  • Monday 8th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden (gold stars to those who were there on the bank holiday this week; extra homework for those who weren’t!)
  • Tuesday 9th – PT & massage clients and Seniors Fitness Pilates in Sissinghurst @ 10.40am
  • Wednesday 10th – PT & massage clients (and Archie gets a hair wash, which is great because he smells like a dog!)
  • Thursday 11th – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 12th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 10.20am & 11.30am in Iden Green

If anyone is looking for a massage appointment next week I have 2pm or 3.30pm on Wednesday available – drop me an email if you’d like to book or find out more about how advanced clinical massage therapy can help you.

& finally:

I have had a couple of weeks where people keep giving me things – flowers, fabrics, a gorgeous tea-light holder for my massage room and some truly beautiful words. I try to be kind in my life with genuinely no expectation of anything in return, and I feel humbled by the kindness that is given to me.

This little piece of wisdom came to me this week in the form of a card which was filled with kindness and I wanted to share it with you because none of us know how our lives will be rearranged, so while we’re finding out the answer, let’s all make sure we follow our rainbows

Jx

 

singing in the shower

Following on from last weeks’ newsletter, when my brain was feeling a bit fuzzy and my gut was not playing nicely, I’m happy to report that my brain has un-fuzzed itself, my gut has healed considerably and my energy has lifted. On Monday morning I woke up feeling like a different person and on Thursday morning I caught myself singing in the shower! I absolutely cannot remember the last time I did that.

So what made the difference from last week to this?

In truth it was probably lots of things but here are some of the game-changers for me:

  1. I took my foot off the gas pedal. Over the weekend I gave myself the space and time to get stuff done without any expectation on myself about when it ‘should’ be finished. I didn’t want to do the job I had planned to do on Saturday morning, so I did something else (which also needed doing) instead. By the end of the day I felt as though I hadn’t done too much but I had accomplished more than I thought I would and also given myself the mental space to formulate a plan for Sunday…
  2. I bought a weeks’ worth of ready-prepared food from M&S. By Saturday afternoon I could no longer tell if my stomach felt bad because it was bad or whether it felt bad because I hadn’t eaten much (in an attempt to let it calm down). I got myself in a real state about having to cook some food; cried about the fact that I only had myself to cook for (which always makes me feel sad); and realised the best way out of the situation was to go & choose some meals so that there was no stress around cooking or deciding what to eat. By Sunday afternoon, miraculously, the anxiety around eating was gone, my stomach felt better than it had felt all week and I just felt a bit more ‘normal’ again. I haven’t had to think about food all week – I’ve just gone to the fridge or freezer and chosen the next thing in the pile!! Isn’t it amazing how something so simple can make so much difference?
  3. I finished a project I had been working towards for a few weeks. It feels so good to get to the place you want to be, doesn’t it? Often I run out of energy or focus before I reach that point and I’m left with an unfinished thing that annoys me every time I see it. Last Sunday I dug deep – literally as it turns out! (so deep in fact that I unearthed the long-forgotten, buried, support post I put in for the washing line 15 years ago!) The finished bit of landscaping is fairly minor in the overall scheme of things, but it just completes my ‘new/old’ shed project and the satisfaction of doing that is a real motivational boost.
  4. I marked out some holiday time in my diary. I have been half-heartedly thinking that maybe the May half-term would be a good time to take a week off, but sitting on the fence about it a bit. Years ago I always wanted to run away from my life so holiday time was an important means of escape. These days I really like my life and there’s nothing I feel like running away from, which makes it easy to forget to take time out for myself, even though of course I still need to do that from time to time. On Wednesday I was looking through my diary to mark-up massage appointments for the next 3 months and I came across the half-term pages…I thought for about 2 seconds and then crossed them out in green ink. It felt great! I always find it liberating to take action rather than waiting and wondering what to do – even if it later turns out to be the wrong action!

So there you go! In case you need a bit of a nudge in the right direction, here, in a nut-shell, are my top four ‘get-out-of-jail’ free strategies:

  • STOP – create some space
  • OUT SOURCE – take a load-off and let someone else help
  • FOCUS – on one thing to completion
  • PLAN – your future time to avoid future burn-out

Please feel free to let me know anything else that works for you when life is feeling a bit overwhelming. I’d love to know how you dig yourself out again x

tmf stuff:

It was so lovely to teach Kettlercise on Thursday morning and see some ‘old’ faces who have been missing in action for a while. Everyone was greeting everyone like a long-lost friend. Such a lovely start to a class…and then I had to go and spoil it by making them throw their kettlebells around!! There might be some aching buttocks today?!

Fitness Pilates has been fabulous too. On Monday there were two newbies (one returning after a break and one brand new) and when I asked them after the class how they had found it they both said the same thing – ‘it was much better than I expected!!’ Now obviously I’m delighted that the class exceeded their expectations but it made me wonder why their expectations had been so low??!

I hope you all keep on enjoying the camaraderie and the content of your classes x

Next week looks and smells a little like this…

  • Monday 1st May – it’s a bank holiday so officially I’m off BUT the Fitness Pilates class is still running @ 8.10pm in Benenden – please tear yourself away from BH fun & frolics to join me!
  • Tuesday 2nd – PT & massage clients and Sissinghurst Fitness Pilates @ 10.40am (I have one massage appointment available at 5.30pm if anyone would like it?)
  • Wednesday 3rd – PT and massage clients
  • Thursday 4th – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 5th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates in Iden Green @ 10.20am & 11.30am

Hopefully I will see you on at least one of those days…

& finally:

I have a couple of local events to share with you which have been organised by one of the most beautiful souls that I know, as part of her fund-raising efforts ahead of her “little walk to Everest base camp in November (eeeekkk)”.

Leah keeps trying to persuade me to dance, but so far I’m holding out…maybe I’ll make a donation instead??! If you are more dance-minded than me, which frankly wouldn’t be difficult, I think you will love these events…

Leah says “I know it’s not exercise as some people perceive it, but it’s great fun, good for your inner core and a bit of stress-relieving medicine”. What more can you ask of a Sunday afternoon?

Please contact Leah on leahatholmurray@aol.com for further details about her events or to find out about how to make a donation to her Help for Heroes fund.

I’m off to visit my parents this weekend so I’ll see you all on the other side of the bank holiday – or the tail-end of the bank holiday if you’re coming to FP in Benenden.

Have a great one Jx

practising what I preach

This weekend I am going to try practising what I preach and putting myself near the top of my to-do list!

I have created for myself a seemingly endless list of things that need to be done NOW and as a result I feel like I’m going backwards at the moment. I have no idea why the four-day Easter weekend turned into ‘the weekend where all things must be achieved’ but it did and I am paying the price this week…

So, in the spirit of taking my own advice, here’s how the tail-end of my Friday is looking:

  • a short and very functional newsletter
  • maybe a little bit of pottering in the garden
  • a walk with a friend through the bluebells at Sissinghurst
  • Emmerdale
  • maybe Corrie
  • bath & bed

The weekend will have to involve some stuff that needs to be done, but mostly I will be trying to get my stomach back on track and I will be making a concerted effort to make myself some raw chocolate after sadly spending the Easter weekend without any.

I hope you had a rather more relaxing Easter weekend than I did but if not maybe you can take stock this weekend and get yourself back at the top of your ta-dah list too?

tmf stuff:

I feel like the Easter break from classes went by in a flash this year! The first week off was consumed by my massage exams and the second week off was consumed by my shed moving project…and then suddenly it was Tuesday morning and I found myself back to work as normal and feeling like I needed a week off!!

Having said that, it was really good to be back teaching this week and I enjoyed Kettlercise much more than I thought I would…although I might not be saying that tomorrow as I can feel my muscles starting to protest a little today. I hope you enjoyed being back at class too?

Here’s what you need to know for next week:

  • Monday 24th April – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 8.10pm in Benenden
  • Tuesday 25th – PT and massage clients
  • Wednesday 26th – PT and massage clients
  • Thursday 27th – PT clients and Kettlercise @ 9.10am in Benenden
  • Friday 28th – PT clients and Fitness Pilates @ 10.20am & 11.30am in Iden Green, followed by a trip to Grantham

Please don’t forget that the following Monday (1st May) is a bank holiday but we still have our Fitness Pilates class running as usual @ 8.10pm in Benenden. Maybe we could have a drink in the pub afterwards so that it still feels like a bank holiday??

There are a few spaces available in both Friday Fitness Pilates classes this term so please spread the word if you know of anyone who might like to join us. The booking pages are no longer live but they can drop me an email if they are interested. Thank you x

& finally:

There was a fabulous programme on BBC1 last night (Thursday) called ‘Mind Over Marathon’. It’s a two-parter (2nd part next week) focusing on running and mental health. Ten people with differing mental health issues have been training to run the London marathon this weekend and the programme follows their progress to see what difference running makes to their lives.

I found it very emotional to watch and hear their stories but it reinforces what I have found for myself – namely that exercise and movement are so important for mental wellbeing. I don’t run (I’ve never really liked it) but I definitely feel that walking has the same magical powers, along with any form of activity, to create a better balance in our brains. I first became involved in fitness (23 years ago) at a time when I was feeling very lost and worthless and it literally changed my life.

It’s taken a long time for mental health issues to be openly discussed, but it was so good to see it on prime-time TV last night.

If you’re interested in mental health, or you just want to see how these amazing people get on in the marathon, I highly recommend catching up on last nights’ episode and tuning in again next Thursday.

Whether you’re running the marathon this weekend, or watching it on TV, or doing something else instead, I hope you have a good one which restores your mind and body for the week ahead Jx

Easter holidays

As we are now into the Easter holidays (for anyone school-aged at least) I thought I’d set you all some homework! You can thank me when I see you next!!

And in the spirit of it being the Easter holidays, although I will be working as usual (aside from classes, weekends and bank holidays), there will almost certainly not be a newsletter next week as I have:

  1. my Jing ACMT assessments on Wednesday & Thursday next week
  2. clients next Friday to make up for missing sessions on Wednesday & Thursday &
  3. somewhere a little bit exciting to go on Friday afternoon….

So this is a double-whammy-newsletter for the Easter holidays – I hope you like it…

Fitness Pilates homework:

You will get a 3 or 4 week break over Easter (depending whether you attend on Fridays or Mondays) so I thought I’d set you some homework to be practicing in the meantime. It can be split into two smaller workouts if time is limited, or combined into a longer one if you want to get an A* on your end-of-year report!

I have written a short standing sequence based around grounding & connecting with your breath, releasing any tension in the upper body and gently mobilising the spine with some roll-downs. If you do this every day I promise your body will love you for it – 10 minutes is all you need!

The second section is on the mat for some core-focused exercises. You can spend as much time as you like on these but equally 10 minutes would still be a useful amount of time. I have suggested that you practice each move on its own and then put them together as a sequence, but you could do either of those things rather than both if time is limited.

The descriptions are a bit wordy but if you regularly come to class you will be familiar with the moves so hopefully you will not need to read all the detail every time. Alternatively, if you have the kids to entertain at the same time, why not get them to be your trainer and read out the details for you? (I realise this won’t work for pre-readers but hopefully they’ll be happy to join you on the mat instead. I find that kids are generally happy to engage in exercise when their parents are doing it and you might be surprised at how good they are at some of the things you struggle with?!!)

Kettlercise homework:

KB people – you didn’t escape without homework! Obviously you might like to try the FP homework instead/as well, but here’s your very own circuit to do over the holidays. You only get 3 weeks off but you should still be able to fit it in 3 times before I see you next…

Just like the one I gave you a few weeks ago, I have deliberately taken out the swings in case you have limited space or young children/pets around, but of course you can improvise as much as you like. You could add in some swings as well as the existing exercises, or substitute swings for the leg moves – it’s really up to you. Swings might be 2-handed, alternate arm, single arm, 2-handed overhead, single-arm snatch, clean and press, high pull….there’s loads to choose from so you could pick one and do it several times, or do a different one each time.

This workout also alternates standing and floor work because it’s an awesome way to get your heart-rate up, but if you want to do all the standing exercises and then all the floor exercises that is totally fine with me.

To sum up, here’s a guide workout – you can change it anyway you like and make it work for you!

The easiest healthy raw chocolate recipe in the world:

I have shared this one a few times before but I’m going to share it again because:

  1. you can’t have Easter without chocolate (well you can, but it’s not the same)
  2. if you’re going to eat chocolate, you might as well eat raw, healthy, delicious chocolate rather than shop-bought, mass-produce, sugar-laden yucky chocolate
  3. it is the quickest, easiest recipe in the world & it works every single time
  4. they taste great, sit quietly in the corner of the fridge until you need them & totally melt in your mouth

New term re-enrolments:

Thank you to everyone who has already signed up for next term – you will receive confirmation emails nearer the time but your payment has secured your space.

All current participants should have received an email from me last week with all the re-enrolment information, but of course let me know if you haven’t found it in your inbox.

Priority re-enrolment runs until 9am on Friday 7th April after which courses will be open to the world at large so if you want to be sure of keeping your space you know what to do… I know that sometimes life gets in the way, so if that’s the case for you, and you are unable to commit to the next term please drop me a quick email just so I don’t keep chasing you with re-enrolment reminders!

You can re-enrol here but you’ll need to check the password in your email to sign up.

Any questions at all, please get in touch.

Clinical massage:

My next massage available massage appointments are on Wednesday 19th April – please let me know if you would like to book a treatment.

I currently have the following times available:

  • Wednesday 19th April – 12.30pm, 2pm, 5pm & 6.30pm
  • Tuesday 25th April – 5pm
  • Wednesday 26th April – 12.30pm & 2pm

I am tending to be booked up 2 weeks ahead of time at the moment so don’t hang about if you want one of these spots because once they’re gone, they’re gone!

tmf stuff:

Here’s a quick run-down for the next 2 weeks –

  • Monday 3rd April – PT clients and last minute revision
  • Tuesday 4th – PT clients and last minute revision
  • Wednesday 5th & Thursday 6th – Jing assessments to complete my Advanced Clinical Massage Therapy (ACMT) course
  • Friday 7th – PT clients and secret exciting thing in the afternoon
  • weekend of laying a base for a new shed…
  • Monday 10th – PT clients
  • Tuesday 11th – PT & massage clients
  • Wednesday 12th – PT and massage clients
  • Thursday 13th – PT clients
  • Friday 14th-Monday 17th – FOUR WHOLE DAYS OFF = shed building project

& finally:

Since it is the Easter holidays, here is a little Easter 101:

  • Easter eggs are given as a symbol of new life
  • eggs were a pre-Christian symbol of new life but the Easter egg was defined by early Christians as being symbolic of the tomb from which Jesus arose
  • the Easter bunny became common in the 19th century as a symbol of new life due to the large number of babies (kittens) they produce
  • the first modern-day chocolate Easter eggs were produced by Cadbury’s in 1873
  • milk chocolate eggs didn’t appear until 1905
  • Lent doesn’t end until Easter Sunday so if you’ve given up chocolate for lent, you’ll need to wait until 16th April before tucking into your stash of Easter eggs!

And to finish off, here’s a TED Ed talk on ‘The History of Chocolate’

So there you go – everything you need to know about Easter in a nutshell an eggshell!

 

Have a good one – see you soon, if not before Jx