Happy Birthday Cancer!

Sun Sign Birthday Special: Cancer

Cancer season lands from around June 21st to July 22nd, so what better time to wish a happy birthday to that special Cancerian in your life by getting to know them a little better?

Let’s take a closer look then at those born under the sign of the Crab to discover more about what it is that floats their boats.

Who They Are

Inextricably linked to the image of the Crab, Cancerians are well known for their tough outer shells and crabby exteriors. For those lucky enough to get to know the real Cancerian hiding within though, there’s often a soft and sensitive soul dwelling there.

Equally as famous for the sheer variety of their mood swings, which can range from sunshine and rainbows one minute, to thundery storm clouds the next, this first of the Water signs (Scorpio being the second and Pisces the third), can catch you off guard if you’ve yet to experience this side of their nature. The good news though is that any storms tend to pass over quickly and then it’s all sunshine and smiles again!

Home & Family

Considered to have exceptionally strong maternal and caring instincts whether directed at children, animals or loved ones generally, the Cancer born are the caretakers of the Zodiac. They thrive in stability and have a loving and nurturing disposition.

Career

If it comes down to a choice between an emotionally fulfilling career or a well-paid one, Cancerian’s usually choose or do better in the former.

Making the most of those famed natural Cancer caring attributes makes the care profession a perfect choice for these guys or even hospitality with their love of cooking being another well-known typical trait.

Health & Well Being

Robust health is the default position as a rule and as tough cookies they generally deal well with any health related hiccups along the way.

That said, being naturally anxious with a tendency to let their overactive imagination run away with them, can lead to problems manifesting in other less obvious ways such as acne breakouts and other skin problems as well as digestive issues and of course, anxiety in general. Taking steps to reduce the urge to enjoy a little worry should help so a digital detox or distracting themselves with creative exercise and hobbies including dancing can be a great way to combat such issues.

General

The Cancer born is renowned for their compassion for others and emotional depths, enjoying life best when mothering those nearest and dearest to them.

All signs have their negative traits though and for the Cancerian these can include:

  • A melancholic disposition
  • Can come across as aggressive and hostile initially
  • Overly sensitive
  • Moody and irritable at times without warning
  • Overly sentimental
  • Clingy by nature

Birthday Gift Ideas

Many Cancerians have a love of cooking and fine food so treating them to a cooking set or to a nice meal could well be a winner. Or, why not appeal to their natural homemaking tendencies with a fancy ornament or decorative knick-knack to add to their no doubt tasteful collection.

Playing on their links in astrology to the Moon as their ruling planet, silver jewellery can be an excellent choice as can a Moonstone crystal for those that are fans of the esoteric.

Overview

The Cancerian creature is an emotional and sensitive soul, with a big heart for those they love best. Sure they can have moody moments but holding a grudge is rare and soon they are back to their sweet and chatty selves in next to no time at all.

If you have a special someone enjoying their birthday this Cancer season, maybe share this post with them. If they’re looking for a more personalised birth chart reading then I highly recommend Cafe Astrology where, with just a few details, they can get their own Free Birth Chart from https://cafeastrology.com/

Bear in mind that the above article describes a person’s typical Sun Sign Cancer traits only and that an individual’s full birth chart details would be required to be more accurate to that individual.

Sustainable Skin Care

Guilt Free Skin Treats

Scrolling through my Instagram feed last month, I happened across an ad for The Pip Box. If ,like me, you’ve never heard of it either, basically, it’s a monthly subscription service where, for £25 per month, you get a box of cruelty free, vegan friendly beauty goodies delivered straight to your door.

For more information on The Pip Box itself, check out their website (The Pip Box | Cruelty-free & vegan friendly makeup subscription box)

Each month there’s a different theme of products for you to try – this month (June 2021) it was “sustainability” meaning the products selected are kind to our skin, bodies and our planet.

As well as this, the whole point of The Pip Box is to push animal friendly, good quality, cruelty free products over brands who aren’t so ethically minded.

For a long time, I thought I was choosing cruelty free products – all my beauty products proudly proclaimed that they were “not tested on animals” so I wrongly assumed that this meant they were cruelty free. Not so. Unfortunately, the beauty industry has a dirty little secret. A lot of well-known brands say that they do not test on animals and, technically-speaking, that is quite correct. What they don’t tell us though, is that these well-known, household name brands often have sister-companies that do test on animals so that they can quite legitimately say their company does not test on animals yet all the while they know full well that another company that they are affiliated with is doing precisely this. And personally, I think pretending not to test on animals based on a technicality and branding your company on being cruelty free when you know it isn’t, is twice as bad as testing beauty products on defenceless animals in the first place.

My eldest daughter first woke me up to this sad fact of the beauty industry and now we tend to look for the “Leaping Bunny” logo when buying products. My understanding of Leaping Bunny is that to acquire this certification, not only must the final product be cruelty free, but so must all of the ingredients used that go into making the final product About Leaping Bunny | Leaping Bunny

So I was pretty excited when this month’s Sustainable Beauty edition was sat patiently waiting for me earlier this week when I arrived home from work. There’s an eye cream which seems already to be working better than my usual eye cream after only two applications and some lovely soft reusable make up remover and exfoliating face cloths. There’s also a “superfood” skin cream and a hydrating multi-purpose balm that I’ve tried on myself and the whole family.

My absolute favourite though is the Organic Foot Balm which I’ve already looked at buying more of from Sknfed Organic Foot Balm – Peppermint | Sknfed. My feet feel amazing!

The box itself is said to contain £58+ of products. At the recommended retail price, I’m sure that’s true but I also know that I would not have paid £58 for it! Five items for a fiver each though seems fairly reasonable. Having said that, I’ve noticed that the price has recently gone up from £20 per month which has upset a few existing customers from the comments I’ve seen online. The gripe seems to be that other subscription beauty boxes are available for cheaper. Honestly, I haven’t looked into it so I don’t know but I’ve been impressed with the quality of the products I received in this first box.

I also know that organic products tend to cost more, as do true cruelty free beauty products so it’s something I’m happy to pay for. It also helps me get familiar with these brands whose values chime with my own much more than some familiar brands who can seem at face value to be ethical but who in reality are just paying lip service to this growing movement. Guilt free beauty is definitely something I think is worth paying for if you can afford it.

Another benefit is that whilst it is a subscription service, you can choose to discontinue at any time if you decide that it’s no longer for you. Not me though! I’m already looking forward to July 2021’s delivery based on the theme of “Summer Prep” – just in time for my holiday!

Weight Loss – Are We Overthinking This?

Could Less be More When it Comes to Weight Loss?

Having decided recently to address a couple of extra pounds I’d started piling on, two weeks ago I came across the NHS Weight Loss Plan that is a 12-week weight loss programme that now comes as a handy and completely free app (find it here: Start the NHS weight loss plan – NHS (www.nhs.uk). I’ve just started Week 2 of the programme and I’m already seeing some positive progress.

Fortunately, I’ve always been within what’s described as a “healthy” BMI range. That being said – I’d also like to keep it that way! So as I began to notice that I was creeping up towards the top end of the healthy range, I wondered what I could do to reverse the trend. I noticed that there were no limits to the fad diets and fasting cleanses/detoxes out there but none of them seemed particularly healthy which was my only real stipulation aside from losing those extra pounds and inches. Looking into the NHS Weight Loss Plan, I discovered that it’s really created with those above or below the healthy BMI range in mind, however, I still found it packed with helpful information and features that really resonated with me so decided to embark on it anyhow.

What It Is

In essence, it’s a basic calorie counting feature along with weighing yourself at the start and end of the week and measuring your waist. After inputting your personal information, it will give you your daily calorie maximum.

For me, it just said stay eating at 2000 calories because I was within the BMI range. However, that was what I had been doing and it clearly wasn’t working or I was miscalculating somewhere. I had to adjust my daily diet to around 1400 calories to see positive changes.

So although it is helpful, it is also somewhat limited. I took the view that everyone’s body is different and, at the end of the day, a computer programme can only do so much. I was also going to have to listen to my body as well and take my cue from how I was feeling to see if this would be enough for me or if I would have to up my daily intake.

How it Has Been Going

Currently at the third day of Week 2, I’m still very much in the early stages. Week 1, however, did see me lose around 4 pounds and a centimetre of my waist which I took to be an auspicious start. What did I do to achieve this? Well, firstly I told my husband that I would make my own evening meal through the week as I used to do most nights before lockdown hit and he started working from home. When it was just me and the kids eating, I’d often have more of a supper for tea, a lighter bite, and certainly not the big meals I’ve gotten used to over the last 12 months.

This has been going really well so far. No one is complaining that they are being force fed healthy foods as they get to eat just what they normally do. The only complaint I’ve heard so far is that mine looks nicer than theirs! I get to portion control, which I think has been the overwhelming factor in the increase in weight anyway for me and to get a bit more creative. The other night I had a salmon pasta (which I can’t normally have as my husband hates fish), there’s been quinoa and couscous salads, jacket potato with feta cheese, carrots and peppers and even scrambled egg, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes on toast. I’ve snacked on (and had to share with the dog!) apples and carrots and made us all a fruit cocktail after our evening meal to which my 9 year old declared, “We should do this more often”!

Week 2 is when you’re encouraged to get moving more. I’d already been trying to do more of this by walking more and using my phone’s pedometer to beat last month’s personal best which I’m proud to say I’ve already smashed. Week 2 also coincided, unintentionally, with a week off work before I start a new job. I’ve used this time off to up my structured activity time too by simply sticking on You Tube every day and completing a 5-minute warm up and then a 10-minute cardio before rounding it off with my usual daily Yoga with Adriene as my cool down.

You’re encouraged not to weigh yourself daily – I do anyway as it’s a habit I’ve practised for years. Somewhat discouraging is to notice that I’ve managed to put 2 pounds back on already this week but I’m not too concerned about this at the moment. I’m willing to keep the faith and see where I am at the end of the week to hopefully see results as part of the bigger picture. Our weight fluctuates daily to some degree so I’m hoping this hiccup will be rectified by then.

Week 3 & Beyond

With starting a new job where I’ll be sat down most of the day, I’m very aware that I simply won’t be able to keep up Week 2’s pace from next week. But I’ve already got a plan. Every work day, I already get up at 6.15 a.m. and practise yoga so I’ll keep this going. I generally then have kefir and fruit for breakfast and pack my lunch and snacks. At my new role, I get an hour and 15 minute lunch break – I plan to then take at least a 15 minute brisk walk every lunch time, 5 days a week. That would total 75 minutes of moderate intensity cardio a week. I can then use my weekends to try and get active either alone or with the family to get up to the recommended 150 minutes per week moderate intensity cardio or mix this with a shorter, more vigorous intensity cardio workout on these days.

As someone who has tried gyms and sports clubs and really does not like them, I have to find ways to get active at home. Hoping that this might be a good start – we’ll see!

Obviously, it’s far too soon to know whether this basic calorie based healthy eating plan works in the longer term but I do think it’s one of the more sensible plans out there. Focus on fuelling your body with good quality calories (not all calories are created equal), and not taking in more than you can reasonably burn off in a day. No restrictions on what you eat, I have eaten crisps if I’ve wanted to and even chocolate, but do it mindfully. Take your measurements at the start and end of the week and assess and tweak your progress as needed.

For me, there have been days when I’ve snacked on unhealthy foods like crisps or chocolate because I haven’t taken in enough healthy calories. No guilt, no judgement because rarely in life does that help! I try to just get up and try again tomorrow, spacing my meals out so that I’m less hungry the next day and upping my calories to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

I think the trick is going to be to pace myself – there’s a long way to go and this is going to be a marathon not a sprint if I’m going to not only lose those couple extra pounds but keep them off by implementing all of these healthy lifestyle choices in the longer term.

Maybe I’ll add an update in a few weeks when I should have a better idea as to how it’s all working. Until then!

Sigil Magick: How to Create & Activate

Sigil Magick: How to Create & Activate

One of the greatest misunderstandings of magick in the modern world has to be that it has to be some long, drawn out, complicated effort or that you need a ton of obscure ingredients, put together in a very particular way, whilst chanting out an ancient text. I mean, if you want to practise magick like that, then I guess you can but actually I find magick to be most effective when it is simple and powered by the personal touch. Creating a sigil then is the perfect way to inject some personality into your magick.

What is a Sigil?

In simple terms, a sigil is a magickal symbol that you create using nothing more than a pencil, paper, an intention and a little imagination. Once created, it just needs to be charged and activated to start to work.

How to Create a Sigil

Start by choosing your intention. Intentions are powerful thoughts so it is important to pick carefully. The key thing is to frame your intention as if it is already yours so use the present tense rather than the future tense e.g. “I have the perfect job” instead of “I want the perfect job” or “I am with the perfect partner” instead of “I wish for the perfect partner”. Framing your intention in the future has the unfortunate effect of leaving you in a perpetual wanting phase so make sure your intention is phrased as if whatever you want is already yours.

I also strongly suggest avoiding intentions that focus on a particular person or object – by keeping it general we trust that the universe will manifest the best possible person/object for us, who will no doubt be a thousand times better than what we had in mind! We also avoid binding ourselves to someone or something that we later regret…

Now write out your phrase using your pencil and paper. Next, cross out all of the vowels. If we use the sentence:

“I HAVE THE PERFECT JOB”

Removing the vowels, this becomes:

“HVTHPRFCTJB”

Now take out any duplicate letters – in the example above, there are two “T’s” so we can take the second T out so we now have:

“HVTHPRFCJB”

Take these remaining letters and use them to doodle your sigil. You can use all or only some of the remaining letters from your intention phrase. Play around with writing them upside down, back to front, joined up, add in patterns if you wish, literally don’t think just move the pencil round the paper. If you don’t like the first sigil, try a different one until you find one that you feel symbolically represents your intention. It does not have to look like anything you’ve ever seen – that’s the beauty of it – it can be as random and crazy looking or as simple and basic as you please.

If you check out these sigil examples on Pinterest you’ll soon find that some have real artistic flair whilst others really are pure doodles. Personally I prefer the raw unique power of a doodle – there’s something of the primeval about those types of sigil.

Activation

Finally, it’s time to activate your sigil. Much of this will happen in the course of creating your sigil in the first place but to add some extra power and potency to your spell, you can also place it on your altar, surround it with crystals, leave it to charge under the moonlight, burn it or simply sit and meditate on the symbol you have created.

You have now created and activated your sigil.

Some like to leave their sigil in a prominent place where they can see it regularly whilst others prefer to dispose of theirs. I like to keep mine in the same box as I store my favourite tarot cards. This helps me forget it about it most of the time except for when I take out those cards when I always take a moment to look at my sigil and contemplate it briefly.

But Will it Work?

Like most things in life, if you really want it to work, you have to believe it will or there is little point in creating a sigil in the first place. Much of the power of this little symbol lies in the setting of the intention and trusting in your own ability to work with the universe to manifest your desires. You have to believe, not just wish, that you are powerful enough to create the life that you desire.

Creating the intention and then using your powerful imagination to turn it into its own unique symbol, is itself symbolic of your innate ability to turn your own goals and dreams into your own reality.

It’s also important to be realistic when it comes to timescales. You’re unlikely to wake up the next day, week or even month to the new reality you’ve decided to manifest. I created my last sigil when I was made redundant last year. Unsurprisingly I focused on finding the perfect job, hence the example above. I found a couple of temporary jobs that were far from what I had considered “perfect” when I created the sigil, but they were without a doubt, a step in the right direction. Fast forward 10 months and I’m now about to start a permanent role with a firm less than 3 miles from my home, on an increased salary that I had pictured at the time, doing the very job that I had envisioned at the level that I had hoped.

Sure, some might say that’s just coincidence and that all of this may have happened without the sigil being crafted but where’s the magick and the fun in that? I much prefer to live a life like Disney’s Peter Pan, one filled with “faith, trust and pixie dust”.

Happy crafting!

PMDD: When You Learn to Dread Your Period

PMDD: When You Learn to Dread Your Period

PMDD, otherwise known as Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder is often described as a much more severe form of PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome). Having recently received this diagnosis myself, and therefore talking from experience, personally, I think Perfectly Miserable Depressed Days is a far more helpful acronym to sum the condition up in a nutshell.

Not being medically qualified in any way, this article is written purely as a recount of my experiences which may help someone else understand what they may be going through.

What It Is

PMS can be rubbish as many of us will know. There’s the physical symptoms of cramps, sore boobs, backaches and headaches as well as the often joked about mental/emotional symptoms of mood swings, irritability and food cravings to name but a few.

PMDD though – that’s a cat of a different breed! Not only is it medically classified as an endocrine (hormonal) disorder but, because of the symptoms of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, it is also now classed as a mental health condition too. Generally, although not always, the symptoms are less physical and more mood based.

For details as to typical symptoms, take a look at What is PMDD? | Mind

Dark Days

For me though, prior to diagnosis and treatment, usually around 10 days before my period, there was a noticeable and steady drop in mood until I no longer recognised myself. I could be happy and laughing one minute and then feel on the edge of a nervous breakdown, completely overwhelmed, in tears and shouting or screaming at those around me in a way that was massively out of proportion to whatever was going on.

I was also completely shattered for those 10 days with my energy depleting more and more until I could just about drag myself to work and back but by then I was running on empty. I would crawl into bed as soon as I could, convinced that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Adrenal Fatigue, feeling incredibly guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with my family and knowing that even when I did, I wasn’t pleasant to be around.

There were still some physical symptoms to contend with though – I frequently had headaches that no amount of painkillers would shift and could not stand to be around bright lights or noise. The worst for me though was the insomnia. I would fall asleep as usual around 10:30 p.m. but, within 30 minutes or so, the slightest noise would disturb me and I would be up until the early hours of the morning.

Insomnia and fatigue do not a good mix make! However, it was the insomnia that finally forced me to acknowledge that this problem was not something I could continue to try to fix on my own with lifestyle improvements. I was already no longer smoking, drinking, eating less takeaways and processed foods, taking vitamins, exercising and practising yoga, meditating, drinking more water and less caffeine. There really was not much more I felt I could do on my own so I reluctantly booked a doctor’s appointment.

Getting Treatment

The first doctor was more concerned, quite rightly I think, with dealing with the immediate issue of the insomnia. He prescribed me sleeping tablets which I took for 2 weeks. The hope was that my mood would lift once I started sleeping. It did of course improve, but only very slightly. I was prescribed another 2 week course and told that this was the maximum recommended course as they tend to lose their effectiveness and people can become dependent on them. I was told by this male doctor that he thought I was bipolar and would need a mood stabiliser.

On my next visit, I had a female doctor who straightaway told me that she thought my symptoms sounded very much like PMDD rather than CFS, bipolar or anything else as, very shortly after my period arrived, my symptoms would improve and I’d feel back to normal – until the next time. She took me off the sleeping tablets and together we decided to try anti-depressants. The first course I tried for a month but I felt were not for me – I could not stop eating! She then suggested Sertraline, an anti-depressant I’ve used before and tolerated well after a week or so of unpleasant symptoms. Within a month or two, I slowly started to see an improvement.

I was no longer shouting and screaming at my friends and family. I started getting back into some of my old hobbies and interests. My energy levels began to increase so that I started walking more and sitting less. The unexplained aches and pains all but vanished.

Progress

Having said that, some symptoms remain – it has not been a cure all. I still cannot get through some days without a lie down and good sleep no matter how good my sleep the night before. But instead of it being 10 days like that, it’s now down to the first one or two days of my actual period, when I’d expect to be tired and fatigued, and not 10 days every month. Or put another way, a third of every year.

Other possible medications include birth control pills. I’ve decided that, at the moment, that’s not a road I want to do down. I’ve used them before and almost ended up having a stroke and know other young girls who actually did. Of course I know many others that have been fine but it’s just not something that I think is good for my body, based on past experience.

Apart from anti-depressants and birth control, along with lifestyle improvements, basic treatments available are pretty limited at the moment. The understanding of PMDD currently seems to be that it is the body’s abnormal reaction to a normal bodily function (e.g. fluctuations in hormones during the menstrual cycle), a bit like an allergic reaction I guess.

I am actually very happy that I now have a diagnosis, a treatment plan and can see improvement after about 12 months of trying to fix this by myself. I still don’t know why I did that! I suppose with Covid and everything else going on, I didn’t feel it was serious enough to bother my doctor with. If you think you might be suffering with PMDD, or any other condition for that matter, my best advice would be to go along and see your doctor. They’re the experts and although it may take some time to figure out exactly what is going on, it felt good to finally start doing something about it.

I’d also say that although anti-depressants aren’t for everybody and they often come with side effects, usually these side-effects do pass within a few weeks or you can try a different anti-depressant that you can tolerate better. The first week of being on Sertraline, I wasn’t sure I could do it but I am 100% glad I stuck it out because my body did adjust to the medication and it was well worth it to do so.

New Moon Vibes

Make the Most of the New Moon Vibes

Every month, the moon transits through its different phases. One of its most powerful phases is that of the New Moon. So what is a New Moon and what sort of things are recommended to do to really make the most of the energy around us.

What is a New Moon

Simply put, it’s when you look up into the clear night sky and there’s no moon visible. As the nights pass, more and more of the moon becomes visible as the moon begins to “grow” again, until it becomes a Full Moon after which it slowly cycles through to a New Moon again. And repeat.

Why Does it Matter to You?

For millennia the moon and its phases, as well as the sun and whatever it was up to, hugely impacted the lives of the folk on this planet, not only for religious and spiritual reasons but also because until the Romans adopted the solar based Gregorian calendar and spread it throughout their empire, the main calendar in use was in fact, lunar.

In modern times many don’t believe that the moon and her phases can affect life on Earth, and to each their own but, increasingly, more and more of us are starting to notice how the different phases of the moon do seem to have an impact on our own moods and behaviour at different times in her cycle.

By respecting and honouring the different energies during the different phases, some believe that their lives noticeably improve. So, what to expect and do with the New Moon energy?

How to Work with New Moon Energy

  1. Cleanse – whether its your crystals or divination tools like tarot cards or runes that you’ve used since the last cycle, now is the perfect time to cleanse. Many choose to burn sage but certain essential oils work well too. Other options are to use singing bowls or other sounds like chanting or singing. And don’t forget to cleanse yourself and your environment whilst you’re at it – sage and incense is great for this but also just getting out into nature or taking a bath with Epsom salts is fantastic to clear your auric field. Additionally, give the house a good once over, organising that cupboard or drawers you’ve been meaning to get round to for ages. You’ll know it’s worked when you feel lighter and brighter.
  2. Charge – your crystals that is by leaving them out overnight, or for a few hours at least, to soak up that New Moon energy.
  3. Intention Setting – if you don’t journal daily or weekly then try to make the effort to do it at least every New Moon. Brainstorm all your inspirations, ambitions and new ideas out on a piece of paper. This is a powerful method of setting new intentions for yourself and, without knowing it, you’ll be downloading and channelling ideas and divine insight from the Universe! A good alternative to this if writing’s not your thing is to make a vision board. It doesn’t have to be nothing fancy, just a blank card that you fill up with images, phrases and words that inspire you. Put it somewhere that you’ll see every day on waking and you might be surprised on where you find yourself by the next New Moon cycle!
  4. Create – new ways to get healthier by picking areas to work on that excite you. Often this can be a new exercise regime or hobby or find innovative ways to build on what you started in the last cycle.
  5. Rest and Recharge – yourself! A perfect way to do this is by meditating and reflecting on all that has happened since the last New Moon. If meditating is not for you then prayer is often a more familiar alternative. It’s a time to take the pace down a notch or two and make space for a new phase in your own life. It’s probably a good idea to do this before you start intention setting.

Obviously, you can do anything you like but these are just a few common ways that those who do like to work with the energies of the moon frequently choose to do so. As you progress and this becomes a natural monthly feature in your life you might even choose spellwork or invocations.

The idea is simply to pick a ritual that doesn’t feel forced. I know that when I first came across New Moon Rituals none of them really felt like me. And that’s because these are just ideas. You have to find little bits here and there and adapt until you find a ritual that feels right for you. For example, I like to do a tarot reading and write this down in my journal to review at the next New Moon to help me reflect on where I was and where I am now as well as where I’m headed. Lighting candles and burning sage and incense, whilst cleansing and clearing space, are all just ways to help get me in the right headspace.

And remember that the New Moon energies tend to be with us for a day or two before the actual New Moon and a day or two after. So currently the New Moon in Gemini for May 2020 was last night, 22 May – I’ll be doing my ritual work this evening. I’ll then look to do another ritual at the Full Moon in June, which is another very powerful moon phase in which to start enacting your own rituals, but in a different way. More on that another time!

For now, why not pick one or two of your favourites from the above ideas and give them a go on the next New Moon to start seeing how you can benefit from the energies all around us?

Lessons From Lockdown

What Did the Lockdown Teach You?

As we here in England begin to, tentatively, emerge from lockdown with restrictions still in place but to a slightly lesser degree, it seems as good a time as any to pause and ask ourselves what life lessons from lockdown did we learn.

Whenever any great trauma or challenge is thrown at us, it’s the perfect opportunity for self-growth. As the popular song by Green Day goes:

It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time…”

Good Riddance/Time of Your Life (Green Day)

Career Life Lessons

I’m sure many of us are emerging from lockdown as very different people with very different circumstances to how we went into it. Take jobs, for example. So many of us have been furloughed and/or have been made or will be made redundant. Sure, we could sit there (as I at times have myself), and demand to know “Why me?” and feel sorry for ourselves, or we could use the time to apply for other jobs, try our hand at something new and see whether that could bring in some unexpected cash.

I use this as an example as it’s a life lesson from Coronavirus that has applied to me personally. As someone who identified strongly with my career finding out that my role was one of those up for potential redundancy of course came as a bitter blow. Having the threat of this hanging over me for a month or so also isn’t good for someone who tends to get quite anxious if I don’t know the outcome of something “now”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have the occasional “wobble” about it but, 3 weeks later, Covid-19 has brought me multiple new life lessons in this area. Firstly, I’m learning the lifeskill of going through the redundancy process which is something new for me. Secondly, I’m learning to be okay with not knowing the outcome of everything “right now” – I’ll find out when I need to know and I’ll deal with the issue then. Thirdly, it’s opened up the prospect of a new life for me applying for new roles and fourthly I’ve started getting paid for my writing by being accepted as a writer for other people’s blogs! I am insanely excited by that. No the rates aren’t as good as they were when I coached or was a lawyer, but I do love to write!

I never would have even thought to apply as a freelance writer for hire had the pandemic not come along and threatened my livelihood but here I am getting paid for a hobby. Blessing in disguise maybe?

Personal Life Lessons

Before Covid-19, I did not know that I could be stuck in the same building with my husband, 2 children and dog for 2 months straight without actually going insane. Yet here I am!

Not that we haven’t had our moments as I’m sure many of us have especially with homeschooling my 8-year old 5 days a week for 6 hours a day. Then there’s the challenges faced by those of us living alone who have found ourselves isolated from loved ones other than by some limited contact via technology.

As someone who adores staying home when I’m not working, I’ve discovered that once lockdown is lifted, I want to make more of an effort to go to at least one or two places extra, more often. You really can have too much of a good thing!

I’ve also tried, as much as possible to go through this experience without alcohol so it’s now been almost 7 weeks without a drink with some interesting results. I definitely think I am dealing with the threat of redundancy better without alcohol and, overall, whilst there are still good days and bad in this whole experience, the swing from good to bad has been less pronounced, with less mood swings and a better awareness of myself and others.

Spiritual Life Lessons

This one has been a biggie and I’m very grateful that even before the pandemic struck, I already had a good set of tools and practices such as yoga, meditation, journalling, tarot reading and access to spiritual reading/viewing material on YouTube and Kindle (see link below).

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/hz/subscribe/ku?*entries*=0&_encoding=UTF8&*Version*=1&shoppingPortalEnabled=true

The biggest lesson here for me has been to live in the moment and the well-known spiritual teacher, Eckart Tolle (https://eckharttolle.com/), who also has a free YouTube channel, has really helped explain this concept in an amusing yet profound way.

We’ve become accustomed in the West to looking for things “out there” to fill the emptiness we all feel sometimes. Lessons from lockdown here then have been that if we go inwards to face that emptiness, to sit with it, to listen to it, we can find an inner peace that cannot be reached or obtained by anything “out there”. Without the distractions of the outer world, we can connect with our inner wisdom to help us through the inevitable and necessary challenges and lessons life will always throw our way. Big spotlight shined here for me these last few weeks!

The Coronavirus has swept into all of our lives in 2020 in a way that few of us could have imagined at the start of the year. It has of course brought with it some very sad situations for many people and families. But, as with all of life’s difficulties, one of the benefits is that there are blessings to be found alongside those difficulties. It can be extremely rewarding, and give us renewed strength for the next phase of lockdown, to take a moment to reflect back on the lessons we’ve learned in lockdown.

Feel free to share this article with others, especially if you think it would help them through this challenging time.

How Sober is Your Quarantine?

Cheers!

Here in the UK, the full lockdown started on 23 March 2020. That’s currently about one month ago and I think many of us have found it to be more of a roller-coaster of emotions than what we were expecting. Who knew that being forced to stay home would have such an effect on our state of mind?

Judging by my social media feed, and my own life experience, when us humans encounter unpleasant emotions, we tend to try to find a way to escape those emotions. Cue alcohol and lots of it!

The weather has also been exceptionally pleasant and that I find always tends to get the beer flowing, especially if we’re having BBQs and the like.

Anyone who’s followed this site for any length of time may have heard me speak before of how I let my own alcohol use get out of hand – not in that I was an alcoholic in my view but I was a problem drinker (if there’s even a difference!). I also allowed myself to end up in dangerous situations, with the last serious situation leading to me waking up in a local hospital with concussion, having knocked myself out, falling over whilst inebriated – classy.

As such, I am the last person to judge anyone on their alcohol consumption and that is absolutely not the intention of this post. Really, just to raise that awareness that sometimes we can drink more than we realise we are drinking or that we justify the amount we are drinking (as I used to do!) by believing, rightly or wrongly, that the amounts we are putting away are within social norms so it’s alright.

It’s been nearly 18 months since my concussion episode and although I still occasionally drink, I’ve found, thankfully, that I simply can’t drink like I used to. Otherwise, I know that I would have spent the last month in an alcohol-induced haze with all the awful effects such over-indulgence can have on our physical bodies and looks but especially our psychological state of mind.

A friend of mine messaged me last week at around 2:30 in the afternoon saying that she’d just woken up but since it was the afternoon she was going to pour herself a drink. Again, no judgement – if she enjoyed that drink then good for her. There was definitely concern though that this was her first thought upon waking. I remember saying to her that, at the time, I hadn’t had a drink in 2 weeks and was really pleased with my progress, to which she replied that she didn’t know how that was even possible in lockdown. It’s frightening but 18 months ago, I would absolutely have agreed with her.

My last alcoholic beverage was almost 3 weeks ago now, which on a personal level is great given that I was trying to reduce my alcohol intake for years and 18 months ago, even 3 weeks without a drink would have been unthinkable! Having said that, 3 weeks without an alcoholic beverage, or anything else, means that I am living through this pandemic (as are many others of course), in full on technicolour with no escape from reality. That can also do a number on one’s mental health – I absolutely appreciate that this can mean that I am stressed and snapping at those closest to me which is no better so currently my goal is to improve on that. Otherwise, I may as well have a drink!

Current guidelines for both men and women are not to drink more than 14 units per week, but to spread those units over the week (rather than binge-drinking them all in one go), but also having several alcohol-free days per week. This equates to, roughly, 6 normal-sized glasses of wine or pints of beer per week. Of course, we can drink more than the recommended amount but just know that there will be a trade-off at some point, in either looks, physical health and/or mental health.

I know that my main reason for drinking, even now, is because I am “bored”; as if drinking alcohol will somehow magically stop me from being bored. What I have noticed though when I do drink these days is that I’m still bored when I drink alcohol, it’s just less noticeable because I’ve dulled my senses. I spend my time scrolling social media and doing nothing else. Not at all how I want to spend my lockdown.

It is so easy for our habits to change for the worse during a crisis like this and so much harder, for me anyway, to get the status quo back. I guess what might be telling is if before lockdown you could easily only have a drink after 6pm or at a weekend or go for a week or longer without an alcoholic beverage but now the thought somehow freaks you out or you don’t think you could do it, that’s a little red flag right there. Nipping it in the bud sooner rather than later might be easiest in the long run.

If you do want any advice or help with managing your alcohol intake, I found this site had a lot of great ideas: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/

Otherwise, as long as you’re happy with your alcohol intake then – cheers! 🙂

April 2020: Readings Now Available!

Oracle & Goddess Card Messages for April 2020

Oracle and Goddess Card readings now available for all zodiac elements, Fire, Air, Earth and Water over at our YouTube channel.

And, we’ve thrown in a mystery musical link at the end of the reading for an added special message.

Let me know in the comments if the artist/band/album has a special meaning for you.

And if you enjoyed the reading, or know someone who might, please do like, share and subscribe as a way to support the channel.

Look forward to seeing you in the May 2020 readings…