Birth Health Life


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

8 Week blood sugar diet Week #1

Discoveries, revelations and a 2lb loss!

Yesterday I discovered that I am not 3 1/2 stone overweight but 2 1/2.  Silly moo  I weighed myself on the scales on the carpet...I didn't know!!!  Husband and son worked it out.  Anyway, that was and easy stone aye! A quick check on the scales this morning revealed a 2lb loss.  Good start.
Last night was a bit strange.  I felt some feelings that I thought had gone forever after my oophectomy two years ago...nice ones I mean.  I actually feel that not filling my body with sugary rubbish has allowed me to feel my emotions more...good ones.  I didn't sleep brilliantly, but my body ached from the walking and I like to feel full before I go to sleep.  I started the day with hot water and lemon and a 4,800 step brisk walk.  That's around two and a bit was gorgeous warm weather, a lovely late summer day so I just enjoyed being out nice and early.  I breakfasted on muesli and a bit of fruit.  Have to be careful with the berries as fruit is full of fructose.  This breakfast came in at 177 Calories, and I ate at 11.30 after a 16 hour fast.  Numerous cups of tea later I made this gorgeous lunch of Alaskan salmon, flash fried Cavallo Nero with fennel seeds, 1/4 of an avocado, lettuce, cucumber, celery and tomato, which totalled 385 calories.  I ate this around 3.30pm, and it set me up perfectly for my late afternoon 5,300 steps walk
Lunch 385 Calories

I know dinner looks a little insubstantial but it was hugely tasty with that plush full fat yogurt with raspberries and blue berries and some mixed spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and cocoa sprinkled over the top

dinner...129 calories
I start work at 10.30 on Wednesdays and finish around 6, so I made sure my last meal was at 5.30 tonight so I have the option to eat before I go if I want...however this would push my last meal of the day to the time I usually finish work and head to the supermarket, so I will have to see how the cookie crumbles.  If only I was allowed a cookie.  It's the evening now, my worst time for cravings so I'm being strong.. however I want to stress that I'm not at all hungry.  I just want chocolate, cake that kind of thing. I love the fact that I actually feel satisfied as far as fullness goes.  I'm wondering how I'm going to be feeling tomorrow at work though, especially as the canteen chocolate cake is out of this world.  Is it too soon to have a cheat moment?!


My Instagram week 20-27 August

Now the weather has broken with some rain this morning, I'm looking back at parts of this week with nostalgia already!  It was the second week of our summer holiday, with the first week being at the beginning of a bit disjointed, but very lucky with hot sunshine.

I'm not gonna lie, that day on our bikes cycling between Saltdean and Brighton Marina was the best of a fraught and stressful week.  I know lots of people who get sick during the Christmas break because they've finally stopped, relaxed and had time to themselves...I used to be one of these people.  In my marriage though, it is holiday times that bring out that sense of finally stopping, having a slice of time to not devote to work, and we don't always cope so well with that.

  For me there was a sense of desperately trying to make the most of our time to ourselves as a couple, with no money to enable us to actually get away, the house still busy with comings and goings of our children, and the total uproar of the front room being painted.  I sometimes feel that we had more privacy as a couple when our five children were little, than now when they are in their twenties.

 Carry on with the painting, or try and enjoy ourselves? We did manage to do both, as the picture bottom right shows my newly painted sideboard in the front room (I know, it looks like a dressing table) Next to that is Ernie, unimpressed that he is not allowed on my new rug, although I'm way too soft to keep up with that rule.

I nicknamed the living room 'the parlour' last year, as it was shut up all summer unused, except for when visitors came, or in the winter when the open fire brings it alive.  We all tend to congregate and eat in the kitchen, and now there's only my youngest at home, he goes out or to his room, and we to ours in the evenings.  I really disliked the heavy dark furniture that Dave favours, and all his old fashioned clutter, so its not a room I ever sat in much.  One end is a Welsh Dresser and dining table, and the other is sofas around the fireplace.

 When I had to do my case studies for my reflexology diploma at the beginning of this year, I decided to transform the room into a treatment room.  My clients absolutely loved the open fire, and made me see the possibilities of loving that room again, so my transformation of it started there. I wanted a space to work in, but also that would be a pleasure to relax and dine in.   We are on a shoestring so purchased only white paint and new, well, secondhand sofas, a rug from B&Q and some cushions.  The colour scheme has gone from dark reds and browns to  a white, seaside inspired look.  The colour accents are natural greys, sand and a hint of sea blue.  The old faithful sofas have been great for accommodating overnight guests and our large family, but honestly they were enormous, dominated the room and didn't allow for any flexibility. We've built a wall since buying them 22 years ago, and they are so massive that they don't fit through the doorway, so the only way to get them out of the room was to saw them up.  Bless Dave, he really liked them, and hated destroying them, but loves the result.

The key to the transformation of my front room has been to get shot of most of it and paint the rest white, letting it breathe.  Dear lord but I know how to have a holiday.

 We had a little celebration for my middle son's birthday, as he will be away for the actual day at Shambala festival, working in the Wide Awake Cafe.  His birthday at the end of August always marks the end of the summer for me; an evocative time of the turning of the year towards Autumn, that 'back to school' feeling, and bonfire.

 To my great pleasure and excitement, torch making starts next Sunday.  By then, I hope I will have had a week back on my 16-8 diet, and have taken delivery of my new combined planner and appointments diary.  I designed the planner online myself, and I'll review it for you when it arrives.  I am an avid journaler as you know but this is my first venture into properly planning and scheduling more than just the normal appointments and on call periods.  I am seeing the value in setting some clear goals, and using this planner to help me keep my theory!   September really is like a mini new year for me. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

8 week blood sugar diet day #2

I'm reporting from the front line on the second day of my brand new diet.  I did intend to post photographs of my intake today for your enjoyment but my camera wasn't playing you have this gorgeous sunset taken from my favourite pub destination in the country in Devon instead, and I promise food photos tomorrow.

I have been sorting out my shizzle regarding this new diet today, and I have to explain some changes to my plans.  Firstly, I will still be intermittently fasting, following the 16 hour fasting, 8 hour eating window plan, but in addition to this, I'm going for a rapid weight-loss, reprogramming diet to address my sugar addiction.  It is the 8 week blood sugar diet by Dr Michael Mosley, and is based on the Mediterranean diet rich in fish, eggs, olive oil, nuts, green leafy leaves, low on carbs and sugar.  It is an 800 calorie a day diet, so may not be for everyone. His book explains everything, and is really comprehensive with 4 weeks of meal plans and 50 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.  There are ideas for low calorie soups and drinks too.

I have re-started the My Fitness Pal app to record my calorie intake, and downloaded the RunMaster Pedometer App as well.  Michael Mosley's diet is about lifestyle change and all round fitness and he encourages you to work up to 10,000 steps per day.  Well I had no idea whatsoever how many steps I take in a day, probably a lot less than I used to as a busy bar manager!  Ernie and I did our usual walk which lasts around an hour, and I found that it was around 4,500 steps.  So I will be upping my steppage gradually, aiming at the 10,000 mark.

So a quick run down of today's intake:

  • Hot water and lemon on waking
  • Various cups of tea with skimmed milk (15 calories) and cups fruit teas
  • 11.30am Breakfast 50g Tesco muesli with some linseeds, chia seeds
  • Lunch 3.30pm One fried egg, half an avocado and about 50g of smoked salmon seasoned with salt and paprika
  • Dinner 6.30pm full fat yogurt with raspberries
Written down like that it is frankly shocking, in comparison to my usual intake. I cannot believe that I feel so, so good.  There was a little bit of light headedness before breakfast, but absolutely NO hunger!!!  I had a slight headache this morning, which I put down to my body getting used to the new regime.  Other than that I am weeing a lot more because I am drinking a lot more tea and water.  I'm sure it won't always be this easy, it will be great if it is!  Over and out! 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

16-8 weight loss diary...and so it begins!

I'm not in the picture here, but it's a big fry up.

This is all part of the journey, and not something I ever imagined I would write about. Eating is so personal, but if sharing this helps someone, or helps me by connecting with other people on the journey, I'm happy with that.

I am beginning my weight loss journey today. My BMI is 29.5, so borderline obese, and I am about two and a half to three stone too heavy. I'm craving sugar all the time and my food cravings and late night binges on fatty sugary snacks are showing me that something has to be done.

Over all, I have a vegetarian diet, with lots of raw vegetables, fruit, juices, nuts and seeds.  I'm just getting into fermented foods.  I do eat fish, and eggs.  Which all sounds really great... If only I didn't supplement this nice healthy stuff with a shed load of whatever chocolatey, biscuity, cakey goodies I can get my hands on at 10.30 at night.  Cheese, crackers sandwiches and crisps will do if there isn't any sweet stuff around.  Oh and downing a bottle of wine at the weekend probably doesn't help either.  I enjoy my dog walks with Ernie, and have been known to break into a run occasionally. I like swimming weight training with Dave in the gym, but I haven't gotten myself into a regular pattern of going, which is something else I need to change.

Research shows that late night fatty, sugary snacking is the worse thing for blood sugars, as the body takes much longer to deal with all that food both mechanically in the stomach, and physiologically with blood sugar and insulin levels at night.  I am worried that my sugar cravings and the fact that I give in to them a lot, is setting me up for an unhealthy future.

breaking my fast with this salad
Last year I began intermittent fasting. I tried the 5:2 diet, where you fast for 2 days, and eat normally the other 5 days. I couldn't fast on set days, and struggled with erratic work pattern fitting this fast in.  Trying to weight train around fast days was tricky for me too. Then I heard about the 16:8 and suspected, correctly, that this would suit me much better.  There is research here showing that intermittent fasting is beneficial not only for weight loss.  A fast for 16 hours sets of the body's mechanisms for self-repair, and for counteracting disease processes.  The idea is to eat the same amount of food, but in a shorter window of time over 24 hours.  I favoured putting off breakfast until around 1 or 2 pm, then not eating beyond 8pm, which I did find really tough at times.  I had great results with this method of weight loss, but I lost focus this time last year when I had some emotional and health set-backs.  Nothing big or serious, just life stuff, but it seemed to knock me back into unhealthy patterns, which I have not properly shaken off since.

I sat down to write about my experiences with the 16:8, but when it came to the personal parts about what I'm hoping to achieve this time, I made some unpleasant discoveries.  I've never been very weight-focused, I usually go by whether my clothes fit.  When I eat well and weight train I usually get heavier anyway, as muscle weighs more than fat.  Writing this post, I realised that my woolly ideas about roughly how much I weigh and how much I need to weigh might be fine up in my head, but wouldn't look good in writing, so I decided to get specific.  That's when I found out that I weigh a stone more than I thought I did, and that I need to lose two stones more than I thought I did.  Just to pop a cherry on the top,  my BMI calculations put me at obese.  Already this blog is helping me to focus!

toasted nuts with fennel seeds 
So the idea this time is to eat within my 8 hour window, and to cut out sugar.  I did the worst thing possible last night and had a curry and couple of glasses of red wine, finishing around 9pm, so my blood sugar levels have plummeted this morning.  Its nearly 2pm, I haven't eaten for 17 hours and  I'm feeling daunted, light-headed, but not actually hungry. 

 I'm going to make a big, leafy green salad now with toasted nuts and a tin of oily fish.  I'm using Tesco Mackerel in tomato sauce which my app ' My Fitness Pal' informs me is 278 calories. I know this contains sugar in the tomato with it!!  I thoroughly recommend the My Fitness Pal app if you're looking for something to support your weight loss. It has lots of common foods stored,and a scanner for bar codes.  You can enter your daily exercise as well, and from your initial profile set up which includes daily calorie intake aim, it shows you a running total of calories for that day, and a projection forward calculating how long your desired weight loss will take at your present rate.

  I'll keep you posted, and please leave me your comments and meal ideas and let me know how you're getting on on your weight loss journey.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Common Breastfeeding challenges: We Love snacking...and so does your baby!

We love snacking!  So does your baby!!
I am so excited to be going back to the post natal ward this week after my summer hols, and honing my skills at delivering the 11 0 clock Stop information to new parents before they go home with their new baby.  Honestly I have no formal experience of talking to a group of people in this way, and it's a bit daunting sometimes.  I know that it's just like working in the clinic, where at first I used to panic a bit and feel out of my depth and worried about how I could be of useful support to mums, but I just kept going along and practising and learning and eventually I relaxed into the role a bit.  On the post natal ward, the emphasis is on giving the parents information that will get them through the next few days of breastfeeding their baby at home.  If they haven't had much breastfeeding education before having their baby, there can be a lot to take on...sometimes turning a 180 on their assumptions and what they've managed to glean from our bottle feeding culture and the ideas we have about normal baby behaviour.  The trick is to give out useful information without overwhelming them. 

One of the things I always speak about is parents worrying about their baby's milk intake, enough to consider giving an artificial feed. There are three main reasons for this worry, and one of them is frequent feeding. I include in this so-called 'snacking' and non-nutritive suckling. 

Our bottle-feeding culture leads to expectations that the normal pattern for their baby will be a substantial 'feed' every three or four hours, between which times their baby will display the kind of behaviour which will indicate that he or she is full and satisfied. This tends to be 'going down' for a sleep, and be 'settled'.  These are the kind of words parents use when talking with me, to indicate that they feel that their baby is communicating that all is well, and that the mum's milk is satisfying her baby.  The truth of the matter is that babies don't always fall asleep after a feed, aren't always happy with being put in their crib, and don't always take a massive four course meal type feed, but actually they do often want to suckle frequently, without 'settling' or sleeping in between. They may want to feed for shorter periods sometimes. 

 This totally normal behaviour can be perceived by anxious new parents as their baby being 'unsettled' or unsatisfied by the mum's beautiful milk. But this is how breastfeeding works! Babies are just like us and expect to be able to have snacks and drinks frequently...especially in this hot weather! Not every feed is a four course dinner, and sometimes it is about comfort and not food at all...which is totally normal, natural and actually necessary for your baby's physical and psychological health. The proper name for comfort suckling is non-nutritive suckling, and it supports healthy brain development as well as bonding. It is also a really important part of establishing your long-term lactation, which is one of the reasons that you will be advised to not use a pacifier at least in the first six weeks of breastfeeding when everything is being calibrated.  Your breasts need that valuable stimulation that the dummy would be getting instead.

Babies are still programmed to behave pretty much as they were in Stone Age times, expecting to be carried everywhere not ever really 'put down' and able to feed as and when they want, very frequently, for varying lengths of time.  Its our cultural expectations of babies that have changed, mainly due to the introduction of artificial milk.  I do always reassure parents that they can't overfeed their fully breastfed baby, and it's never wrong to feed your baby...he or she will definitely agree!  You always have the reliable indicator of wet and dirty nappies to let you know that sufficient milk is getting into your baby.

Urine output: Wet nappies increase each day. 1 on day 1, 2 on day 2, 3 on day 3, 4 on day 4. From day 5, at least 6 wet, heavy, soaked nappies in 24 hours

Stool output: Day 1 meconium. Day 2 meconium , Day 3 green, Day 4 brown, Day 5 onwards, at least 2 bright yellow stools in 24 hours. (think dijon mustard, korma yellow...sorry!)

What goes in, must come out, and this is how to be reassured that your baby is getting enough milk.

 If you're ever concerned about your baby's frequent feeding, and especially if this concern is accompanied by unsatisfactory weight gain and or reduced urine and stool output, or sore nipples, or mastitis/engorgement/blocked ducts, you need to seek out proper breastfeeding help. If you're in Great Britain, click here to find your local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.  If you can't afford to pay out to see a Lactation consultant, there's always your midwife in the first 10 days, and local breastfeeding drop in clinics where you will find breastfeeding peer support volunteers like me, Infant Feeding Advisers, Health Visitors, and if your're not in Mid Sussex you may be lucky enough to find a Breastfeeding Counsellor at the drop in, and/or a Lactation Consultant, also called an IBCLC. 

 There are also four national, free helplines where trained, experienced Breastfeeding Counsellors will listen, advise and signpost if necessary. These, and the Breastfeeding Network, are the organisations that train Breastfeeding Counsellors. They are:

La Leche League (you will be put through to someone local to you) 0845 120 2918
National Breastfeeding Helpline 0300 100 0212
NCT 0300 3300 771
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers 0300 330 5453

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Wheat Grass Juice, history and evidence for health in a shot glass.

Wheat grass is the early growth of the common wheat plant, sprouted, then grown on for a week before being juiced, or dried and powdered, and consumed. Many people believe the juice has various health-giving benefits, and indeed, some small studies confirm this. Either way, the juice is absolutely packed with good things, and is incredibly cheap, easy and satisfying to grow in your own kitchen in small trays.
The seeds are inexpensive and readily available online, and are no trouble to store until you’re ready to germinate and sprout them. I buy mine from Brow Farm
This is really easy and requires no special equipment, although there are some lovely sprouters, sprouting jars and growing trays on the market, and you can even buy everything you need in one hit with a wheat grass growing kit.
Perhaps the most satisfying part of growing your own wheat grass is that it takes only around a week for the seed to transform from dormant grains to a tray of lush emerald vitality.
If you’re not inclined to grow your own, then have a look online for companies that will deliver trays of growing grass, or packets of cut grass, straight to your door ready for juicing. If you don’t have a juicer then the powder is easy to come by on line or in your local health store.
A Boston lady named Ann Wigmore developed the wheatgrass diet after noticing that dogs and cats ate grass particularly when they were unwell. She made some bold, unsubstantiated claims for the curative properties of the grass which lead to her being sued not once but twice in the 1980s by the Massachusetts Attorney General. She has been dead for nearly two decades, but her wheat grass diet lives on!
Wheat grass juice is packed with chlorophyll, which is the ’blood’ of all green plants, and gives them their green colour. Like the haemoglobin in our blood, it is concerned with respiration, the delivery of oxygen to the cells. Like haemoglobin, it has a strong pigment, deep, rich green instead of ruby red.
Calcium, iron, magnesium phosphorus and potassium are all packed into this juice, as well as amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Antioxidants, and enzymes abound, as well as Vitamins A B C E and K.
As if that wasn’t fantastic enough, it might be wheat, but there’s NO GLUTEN!
An agricultural chemist called Charles Schnabel started the ball rolling in 1925 when he had the idea of feeding the freshly cut grass to his ailing hens. The hens not only recovered and thrived, but they began laying more prolifically than ever! In fact, found that hens whose diets were regularly boosted with the grass actually produced twice as many eggs as hens on a normal diet. Schnabel dried and powdered the grass, and fed it to his human friends as well as his feathered ones. He managed to gain investment for research and development and his powdered wheat grass, mixed with the powdered grass from other cereal grains, went on sale to the American public in 1940 under the name Cerophyl. CerophyI was prescribed by doctors to treat a wide variety of conditions, but was especially favoured for disorders and deficiencies of the blood.
 Why juice instead of eating the grass?
The simple answer is that, the same as any vegetable juice you drink, its much easier (and actually more efficient given our modern dentition) to leave the extraction of liquid nutrient from plant cellulose and fibre to a machine rather than munching your way through the vegetable or grass itself.
This isn’t to say that we don’t need to eat our raw vegetables and fruits in addition to drinking them, for the fibre they contain, but drinking the juice of vegetables, and of wheat grass ensures that all the nutrients contained therein are readily available in their freshest state for immediate and easy absorption by the body.
Either way, its good to consume wheat grass, but why?
A quick glance above at the by no means exhaustive list of nutrients contained in the grass should give you the clue. Not only is it really good for you but it makes you feel good too. Any food that contains all that goodness is going to boost energy levels and make you feel really good, especially when your body doesn’t have to work on digesting a huge meal to get the same nutrients from a 50ml glass of juice.
The body becomes less hungry when it's well nourished, so consumed over time as part of a healthy diet it can help you to lose weight, as well as strengthening the immune system and improving the body's chances of overcoming some serious illnesses.
But don’t rely on hearsay or empirical evidence, lets look at what scientific studies make of it.
Just like so many other easily available, holistic, cheap ‘home’ remedies, not a great deal of funding is available for research. Quite simply, pharmaceutical companies are the largest investors in medical and biological research, and there is not much incentive for them to prove that a very simple, home grown plant might be a very valuable support to the body’s own immunity and ability to fight the big threats to health today; cancer and heart disease.
Some small studies do exist, however, and they seem to support the actions of the physicians in the 1940s who favoured powdered wheat grass for a wide spectrum blood-related illnesses.
Specifically, a study in 2009 involving patients suffering myelodysplastic syndrome (a collection of symptoms and conditions arising from inefficient stem cells in the bone marrow resulting in poor and reduced manufacture of blood cells) found that they were able to go longer between blood transfusions when taking a small amount of wheat grass juice daily. There were similar findings for children with thalassemia (a type of anaemia which is inherited) A pilot study showed that half the children studied had a reduced need for transfusions after taking just 100ml of wheat grass juice per day.
Another pilot study found that breast cancer patients who drank wheat grass juice needed less blood and bone marrow-building medications during chemotherapy.
Another small study conducted in 2002 found that wheat grass helped ulcerative colitis patients to experience less pain, diarrhoea, and rectal bleeding.
An August 2005 study showed that increased chlorophyll in the diet reduces bowel cancer risk, and it has also been shown that wheat grass juice is toxic, in the test tube at least, to human acute promyelocystic leukaemia cells.
Any unwanted effects or cautions?
The side effects of consuming this juice seem to be limited to those who have an allergy to wheat, and they should avoid drinking wheat grass juice. This is NOT to be confused with an allergy to or intolerance of gluten, which is only present in the grain, or seed, from which the grass grows.
Some people might experience a mild allergic reaction to the mould which commonly affects home-grown trays of grass, but this is easily avoided by planting less seed in the tray, watering from a tray underneath, placing in a well-ventilated spot therefore allowing good air circulation around your crop, and washing the grass thoroughly before juicing.
There is a school of thought that as the grass is grown in soil (although it doesn’t have to be) and consumed raw, it is vulnerable to bacterial and other infections, so should not be consumed by pregnant or breast feeding mothers.
Enjoy your wheat grass
If you are taking wheat grass as part of a programme of detoxification, don’t forget that as the body rids itself of toxins you can experience all sorts of mild symptoms ranging from tiredness, to headaches and nausea. Be patient, and let your body adjust, you won’t look back!
Did I mention that it tastes…um…interesting? No? How remiss of me. Well the flavour is quite strong, and different, so you might like to consider taking it alongside or with a sweet juice drink to disguise its strong flavour until you get used to it!  I've written about juicing here, and there's and entire category devoted to juice recipes on this blog. You only need a shot glass size amount (50ml) every day, so that isn’t too onerous a way to intake all that lovely green goodness.

Monday, 22 August 2016

New Traveller's Notebook 'Minidori' set up

This one of the first Traveller's notebooks I made last year when I purchased a gorgeous South American hide from my leather merchants.  It was a bit of a one off special, very popular, and as yet, not repeated, as my hides are now all Italian.

The unusual and special thing about this hide was the branding, and I couldn't resist making myself my dream traveller's notebook/wallet/calendar all in one book.

 I've been using it for almost a year now, with two Moleskine pocket size squared notebooks, two little plain paper books that are very small and will be swapped out soon as the paper is falling out of them.  I also have a little diary/calendar insert which I bought from my local stationers, and covered with some pretty paper.

Last month I finally ordered a wallet insert from Keely Reichman on Etsy - check her shop out here .  The inserts are made out of a Trader Joe's reusable bag, and are so affordable at around £13.  I didn't have to pay any import duty as it is the size of a letter. The material is kind of crinkly canvassy shopping bag stuff...I'm not familiar with a Trader Joe bag, so I didn't know what to expect.  Keely's shipping times are around 2 weeks, so I was surprised when the item arrived much faster than expected, and I'm happy to say that it is a really great addition to my notebook.  The most important feature for me was the zipper pouch for my coins, and this works great and looks sturdy enough to last.  The little pouches on the side of the zipper pouch, which you can see in the picture with my stamps in, are handy for receipts and small items.  I had hoped they would be suitable for credit cards, but although they fit in, they stick out quite a way and slip out easily.  I keep my notes on the other side in the kraft-style insert. To get around the credit card thing I've used my Midori TN sized credit card insert with the bottom section folded up.  I just can't justify buying anything else this month!  I will buy the correct size as this one is a bit too wide, and hangs over the edge of my Minidori, which is actually extra wide. Mind you, credit cards are a set size, so even the correct size will be the same width?  I need to do some research!

I get my Moleskine notebook inserts from Amazon, around £7.00 for 3.  They are little notebooks with a card-type soft cover, which has a little pocket in the back.  The last few pages are tear-out, which is useful.  The paper is sturdy and copes well with my habit of decorating it with watercolours and Distress Stains, washi tape and sticking stuff in.  There is the choice of plain, lined, or squared paper with Moleskine... they dont do a dot paper yet.  I prefer squared paper myself as my writing is atrocious and the little squares help to keep it tidyish, and are great for drawing.  They have no margins like lined paper, which always reminds me of school, and feels restrictive and not conducive to creativity...but that's just me.

I use one of my notebooks in the Mini for notes on my work as a breastfeeding peer supporter.  I work with an IBCLC and am constantly learning so I like to jot interesting things down to help me remember them.  Also things that I use a lot, like volumes of milk in the early days and colour of nappy contents and that kind of stuff!  the other notebook is for blogging and You Tube ideas.  I have another one for day-to-day journaling on the go.  My usual daily journal is something I keep and use only at home, so I have this for emergencies like being stuck in the car waiting for someone and finding I really need to write.  The smaller books contain notes about journals I'm making, dimensions and such like.

Jils Wild LIfe on Etsy opens again after the summer break on the first of September, with some sumptuous new Italian leather Travellers Notebooks in four sizes...lots of work going on at the moment to be ready.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Long Lost Doula

In the autumn of 2011, six months after completing the initial doula training course, and with insurance and website and doula bag at the ready, I had to put my birth doula work on hold. Everything was in place for me to start working with women, and the enquiries were coming in, but something wasn't right.  Something very deep, from a wordless place inside my heart was seeking expression and needed to be heard.  I was beginning work in the job that suited me down to the ground, and yet I couldn't have been more unsettled, anxious and depressed. Finally, I had to become ill with shingles and still.  I had to go through the sorrow, the feelings and the healing, before I could move on.
Part of doula training, ongoing professional input from doula mentors, and colleague support of each other, involves debriefing experiences and exploring our own reactions and feelings around birth. This debriefing begins in the initial doula training, with exploring our own experiences of and reactions to giving birth to our own children. This is a vitally important beginning to the doula’s career, especially as its not unusual for women to be drawn to doulaing out of a wish to help other women to have better experiences of birthing than they did. This is an area that needs close examination by the would-be doula, before she enters the birth room. 
.Accompanying women during labour and birth is a job for someone who can connect and support without bringing their own emotional baggage into the labour room, and that autumn I was not 100% sure that I was able to do that. I started to feel that I had some more debriefing to do. I was drawn to rebirthing. The work of people like Binnie Dansby shows us that the fear that surrounded many of us at our own births, (due to lack of understanding of the needs of mothers and babies, and other difficult circumstances), can still be affecting us as adults. We begin our lives with a certain pattern, literally with our first breath, inspiring every feeling in that room, and carrying them forward with us in our lives, as our truth about life, and how welcome we are in the world, how safe it is to be here.  
We doulas have to be clear about our feelings when it comes to situations that mirror unpleasant things that we have encountered personally. We have to be sure that we can be a strong support without letting these feelings influence us and the situation. A client's labour is a fresh story, and it belongs to her and her baby. Each incoming soul has his or her own destiny to fulfil, and what's right for one person may not be right for another. As doulas we are not there to try and achieve the birth outcome for another woman that we may have desired for ourselves and didn’t get. This would be an ultimately fruitless and actually selfish attempt to make yourself feel whole, not a valuable emotional support for a birthing mother. Some situations may even cause doulas to flash back to their own labours or births if these have been left unresolved. Doulas hold the birthing space, ensuring that adrenaline levels in everyone are at a minimum…she can’t do this if her own are escalating due to unresolved or buried memories.
Ill and at home alone that September, I dug around, following the scent of fear and unease pervading my psyche, praying for a revelation, for direction, and for some peace. I questioned the previously unacknowledged fear which had me turning down enquiries and referring potential clients away to my colleagues. I realised that I was afraid that I would contaminate the birthing room and the baby's first inspiration with the seemingly bottomless pit of fear and abandonment which I was associating with birth.
I debriefed a little during my training but it was a part of my beliefs about myself and my place in the world that I should take up as little space or time as possible. I made my descriptions to my trainer and the group as short and simple as I could. I'd always felt able to express only gratitude for having healthy babies, just like the obligation I had felt in childhood to be constantly grateful to my adoptive parents for rescuing the painful situation. I knew in my very bones that I was the cause of my birth mum's pain, and behind this lay the guilt I felt for daring to be born. Nobody ever mentioned the unresolved deep sorrow and terror I might have felt at our parting, so I didn't recognise it even though it wrapped around me like a second skin. No one mentioned the ghosts who followed me around. The sense of a woman so close to me, but invisible, without even a face or a voice. She was as close to me as my breath, but as absent as one who had died before my birth. And I never even knew her. But I grew inside her.  The ghosts of the children my dear parents might have had if they could have had their own.  The need to find my own people, which could never be expressed as it would underline my parents' inability to birth their own little people. Perhaps I was the ghost, the one who wasn't supposed to be here, and everyone else was real. These were the nameless feelings I didn't even know I was feeling, whilst I was so busy being happy and grateful, like the fish who doesn't know what water is.
So in my initial debrief during training, I told a happy tale of a mixture of home and hospital births, all with live and more or less healthy outcomes. I certainly glossed over the physical terror of my first son’s high forceps delivery and the aftermath for both him and myself, and how it was all mixed in with the utter shock at my father’s death, which had occurred suddenly a matter of weeks before. I mentioned my second son’s prematurity, but not the appalling way the ward sister treated me as he was rushed by ambulance to another hospital, nor the agony and fear of separation from him or the wordless storm of feelings which that re-awoke and stirred up, nor the guilt that a fall had been the cause.
There is more, but this is not the place.
In telling my birth stories, just like telling my adoption story, I was still looking after other people. Looking for ways to make the story entertaining, short, and above all, not uncomfortable for the listener. It was the same story about how everything was fine, that I'd been telling myself for years, I just didn't connect emotionally with it. The true story was fighting its way to the surface, needing to be told.
A book came into my hands. 'The secret life of the unborn child' by Thomas Verny.
I read it on a sultry September afternoon when I felt well enough to sit outside in my garden chair. The air was warm and still, and I read and dozed in the heat. Thomas Verny's book suggested that of course babies in the womb were sentient, and that as adults we would have a memory of this time somewhere in our bodies. Why wouldn't we? The same with might block it out, but somewhere in your body, your self, your cells, you carry the imprint of the feelings and circumstances of that time.
The book rested on my belly as I closed my eyes in the warmth under the trees. I didn't want to think too hard, but I knew that if I wished I could drift backwards...wombwards.  Could I remember being curled inside my mother's womb? What were my impressions? My feelings?
I knew that this was a delicate, self-induced state of light hypnosis, and I made the very most of it, like a pearl-diver getting what treasure he can before the breath runs out.  I went with it, I don't know how long I lay there. When I gently resurfaced, I did what I do with dreams so as not to lose them, and I replayed it all over in my mind without moving a muscle, to lay down a memory trace of it. Here are the pearls I gathered:
I'm in a slightly toxic environment, troubled and sick with the hormones of fear, and a feeling of worry and dread. Sounds are loud and unpleasant.
There is the knowledge that this is temporary. I am to be parted from my mum, for the good of us both. The uselessness of connecting with her because soon our life-lines will separate.
Birth is frightening and I feel alone and unacknowledged. I feel her fear and sorrow and pain. I crave her warmth and don't know how I will live without her.
She's gone.
This was a most remarkable experience and it bought me a sense of understanding, and peace. I also realised why I felt 'at home' with the sick anxiety of nicotine coursing through my veins even though it made me feel ghastly. I was finally able to let smoking go shortly after this.
It took 18 months or more to do the work of learning to connect with these feelings, express them and be held and to accept the love and compassion my loved ones feel for me. I came to realise that of course I'm meant to be here. Because here I am.  Deal with it!!  I saw that I had drawn caring souls around me, among them dear Lily, my birth mum who carried me and gave birth to me and gave me up for a better life to my mum Celia and dad Al who gave me the love I needed, even though it has taken me this long to learn to trust it. My daughter Lily Celia is named for them both.
My body had told me that it wasn't time to doula for other women, it was time to be my own doula, at my own rebirthing.
When I felt ready to doula again, I was sent the very scenarios that would have triggered me before, but I was able to connect deeply with the birthing mother and incoming soul, supporting their journey, in the birth room free of my story from the past. Its absolutely vital for doulas to be comfortable with and understanding of their own birth stories, before becoming involved in someone else's.
I want to thank the ladies of the Sussex doulas, who heard my birth story, and held me during the telling of it, enabling me to stop running from it and start living.
‘There is a dear Lily out there
With a Jil-shaped hole in her jigsaw
Like the hole that mine has, shaped like her.
I have her piece
And she has mine.
I keep it safe, and loved, until I can return it to her, with all my love, and my thanks, for my life.’~Jil W.M
Pray for us now, and at the hour of our birth’ ~T.S Eliot

Instagram days August 13-18

Early on the Saturday morning we set off for the 180 mile trip to see my son who lives in South Devon.  The middle picture shows his vegetable garden, where I lazed on the grass journaling and crocheting and just relaxing.  We travelled to North Devon and hiked through woods to little coves, and we swam in one.  It was cold, but the water was beautifully clear and the waves were quite strong, which was fun.

Latest crochet project is with some aran acrylic wool I bought in my local wool shop.  I'm not usually a big fan of synthetic yarn, but the colours were so amazing and I could just totally visualise what I could do with them, so I succumbed!  I like to have a project to take away with me, especially on a long journey where I'm not driving.

The sunset top right was taken in the beer garden of my favourite pub in North Devon, one I am a bit obsessed with as when I go in there I always feel like I had a past life there or something!  Middle left is a picture of my local doggy walking fields where the farmer is gathering in his crops by the light of a full moon, right before the wet weather came in.  I feel like time is marching on when I see this, reminding me that summer is going to give way soon to Autumn, and my time of not really cracking on with anything other than painting the walls will soon give way to starting up my reflexology business and working hard over the coming months at my businesses and at Sussex Bonfire, which is just around the corner.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Juicy juice-making

I came to the awareness of juicing gradually, as I became aware of peri-menopausal symptoms and the need to care for my health and nutrition more. I've never believed that nature intended the menopause to be a negative time in a woman's life, any more than that our menstrual cycle is something negative...quite the opposite in fact.

 Inspired by Leslie Kenton's book 'Passage to Power', I changed from eating meals that consisted of a lot of processed, cooked food to main meals of mainly raw vegetables and fruit, seeds and nuts, sprouting seeds and beans.  I added power foods like spirulina and chorella and wheat grass, which I grow myself. I still battle with enjoying beer and wine a bit too much and with my sugar addiction...but I'm making steps in the right direction.

Around the time that I began to feel the benefits of the changes I was making, a doula colleague began a juice detox, and I happened to see her with a glass of broccoli, kale and wheat grass juice, and it looked amazing.  Before making my changes, I had never been a great one for eating fruit or raw vegetables in any quantity - it seems like a workout in itself to munch through some raw stuff - but I took one look at that glass of green goodness and realized that I was looking at one very fresh, healthy and tempting drink. I asked her about her juicer, and she explained that I needed a masticating rather than a centrifugal machine, and I went online straightaway to research juicing machines.
I'm not always bursting with spare cash, and juicers are a very costly investment, but you will need a strong, efficient machine in order to enjoy daily vegetable and fruit juices. I was so determined to get one that my family clubbed together for my birthday and I got a L'Equipe Omni juicer, from the same company that made my dehydrator. I bought mine at UK Juicers  At the time I bought my juicer, (2012 or 2013, I can't quite remember...but it's still going strong and gets used a lot ) L'Equipe were planting a tree for every juicer they sold. Almost a year after purchase, a small part of the metal and plastic seive inside the juicer began to bend, and the company replaced it straightaway with no quibbles. UK Juicers also gave me the choice of three different juicing books to choose from, free.  I opted for Norman Walker's 'Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices'. Jason Vale is a prolific author on the subject of health, and especially on juicing and juice detoxes.  His books give me loads of inspiration when I wondering what fruits and vegetables to buy for juicing.
Juicers are not to be confused with smoothie makers, which are really no more than a blender with a tap at the bottom. These are great for smashing up soft fruits like  pineapple, banana and mango into a pulp and mixing it with yoghurt and other tasty, healthy ingredients to make a lovely nourishing drink.Its great to have a blender or smoothie maker in your kitchen in addition to the juicer, and children love a smoothie when they get in from school. Some of Jason Vale's recipes call for a smoothie maker and juicer, to combine the juice with a soft fruit like a banana or avocado. Smoothies and juices are a great way to get raw goodness into children who might otherwise prefer something a lot less healthy to snack on. I make smoothies for my post natal mums to keep in the fridge for a quick pick-me-up...almond milk, ground almonds, honey bananas are a favourite.
The masticating juicer, however, does a really unique job, and it plays a vital role in extracting maximum goodness from your raw foods. Centrifugal juicers have the advantage of being around a quarter of the price, but they work differently and don't make as much juice as a masticating juicer.  The masticator turns slowly, so as not to overheat and spoil the liquid, and it is relentless and unforgiving, destroying every fibre in its path.  This is the important part, because contained in the vegetable fibres are lots of vitamins and nutrients that we rarely benefit from, simply because cellulose plant fibre is indigestible to humans. Vegetable fibres can pass through the digestive system without ever releasing their locked-up goodness. Way back in human history, our teeth, the original masticating juicers, may have been more efficient at tearing the fibre of the fruit and vegetables in our diet, and extracting the goodness therein.
Homegrown Wheat Grass
The masticating juicer allows you to experiment with any raw vegetables or fruit you want. I add my home-grown wheat grass.  Wheat grass has a very strong flavour which benefits by being a bit diluted in some tasty juice, in my opinion! Familiar foods are suddenly seen in a totally new and exciting light. I remember the first time I juiced a celery stick, along with an inch or so of cucumber, and an apple, skin and pips and all. The colour was enchanting, a beautiful, unique, delicate spring green. The taste, delicate, a little savoury from the celery, was light and alive.
I get immense pleasure from juicing beetroot and enjoying the mad, extroverted pinkest of hot pinks in a glass. Beetroot juice has a silky, substantive quality, it has a thick and earthy flavour, and with the addition of an apple, carrot or an inch of pineapple, and a slice of lime, it makes a juice that’s almost a dessert.
The masticating juicer takes the experience and potential of juicing way beyond what I ever imagined it might be. Whatever I’m left with in the fridge, be it an end of cucumber, a head of broccoli, some kale, a pepper, whatever, into the juicer with the addition of an apple and a chunk of lemon or lime with rind on, and you have a refreshing drink, which is as nourishing as a meal.
One complaint you do hear about juicers is that they need cleaning after every use. And this is very true. When I’m on a three-day detoxification, I will juice four times a day, and yes, I clean the juicer after each use. You just don’t want to leave the machine’s interior filters covered in pulp; it’s sweet, moist and full of the sort of goodness that bacteria love to munch on.
I love my juicing so much that I’ve even learned to love the washing up! Seriously, we have become so used to instant gratification in this day and age that we want the reward without being prepared to do even a few minutes of menial work. There is a goodness in caring for the things that serve us, and its possible to learn to actually relish the little rituals that surround the preparation of food.

My first move, when I’m about to prepare a juice, is to fill my sink with warm soapy water, and I dismantle and soak the mechanism before I take the first sip from my glass. It’s not complicated at all, there are only four parts and I give thanks to them as I clean them. My stomach juices are then getting ready to digest the juice, which is good, because you don’t have to actually chew it, which is one of the normal stimulants for gastric juice production.Its quite important to consciously remember to give a little chewing action and hold the juice in your mouth, for this very reason. Most cool liquids are swallowed really fast, so its good to be mindful with your juice, and use it as a chance for a little time out to be thankful, and revel in the feeling that this beautiful, live plant essence is bringing you the gift of nourishment and supporting weight-loss. 

Friday, 12 August 2016

My days on Instagram 7-12th August

Dave was off this week, and although it all looks very jolly and busy, this was not an easy week emotionally.  We both have workaholic tendencies, and different expectations of time off, and of each other in our downtime.

I can either be glued to my laptop/books/workbench for 18 hours a day, barely looking at Dave as he brings me a cuppa, or I can feel rejected and angry when he finds something to occupy himself that doesn't include me, and takes away from our time together.

Add into this mix a crushing debt, a front room that is being partially converted into my treatment room for reflexology clients, ( ancient sofas must go, but we've built a wall since buying them and they will need to be sawn up to remove them...Dave doesn't want them to go...we are at impasse..) and numerous other jobs that need doing.  Also in this brew is the fact that his holiday is broken into 3 separate weeks, and you can see how we are finding it hard to change gears and get relaxed...but we managed it!

Sunday was my most awesome first visit to Brands Hatch to see the British Superbikes racing, and I was absolutely blown away by the sheer power and proximity of all the fabulous machines and demi-god riders.  I'm a biker myself and travel pillion, so I have an appreciation of speed, split second judgement, peripheral vision, all-round awareness as well as the incredible forces acting on the body on a bike.  What I hadn't thought about, is the group-awareness that this swarm of crazy bees has to have, acting as they do like fish in a shoal, individual but part of a pack.

On Monday my grandbabies spent the day.  Little brother was covered in chicken pox, so S and I took ourselves off with Ernie to the woods and fields to rejoice in some precious time together, sunshine and early blackberries.

On Tuesday my new read arrived, and I snuggled in the old sofa under the grape-vine to immerse myself in Suzanne Colson's 'An Introduction to Biological Nurturing'  I use BN all the time with mums in clinic.  It is a little known fact that this is our natural feeding position as mammals, and a conversation with my mentor during my recognition interview (recognised birth doula now!!!) made me realise that I have to dive into this more deeply.

On Wednesday I worked on the new leather, which is sublime in every way.  Senses overload.  I also took my monthly hair-growth selfie, and I'm just so pleased that it's put-uppable at last.  It's just a crazy, frizzy fright at the moment and it needs to get long enough to weigh itself down.  Which is taking forever.

On Thursday we packed a picnic and Ernie, and drove up to Beachy Head to watch the first day of Eastbourne Airbourne show.  We watched from the truck, although we did head up onto the hills overlooking the sea, but the wind was too much.  I finished my crochet, took a call from my mentor's client who wanted some breastfeeding support (haha still working!!) and we met up with T, my bro, had a drink at the pub then headed home via a Birling Gap sunset, and a quick wee for Ernie on the village green at Alfriston.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

O Rose, Thou Art Sick

The last time we had any money was in 1994, when my mum died. We treated ourselves and our kiddies to a holiday in an actual chalet rather than a tent in North Devon, and I bought, on a whim and because for once in my life I could, a duck-egg blue art deco side-board. We bought bikes for the kids, and a painting, and we wrapped the jolly lot in bin bags and drove 200 miles home with it all strapped and flapping madly on the roof of our Peugeot 505 full of kids and dogs.

22 years on, and 'the blue thing' as it is still affectionately known, is now cream, but still takes pride of place in my kitchen, where I could have had a row of useful cupboards and work space.  I rummaged in it the other night for mum's bone china teacup and saucer to cheer me up after hearing that our bonfire society had cancelled the annual festival we run to fund-raise,  (rain has waterlogged the site) and which has become Dave's and my annual holiday.

I know that's it now.  Dave will secretly be glad that he hasn't got to take the Friday off work and drag the caravan out and try to have fun.  I, on the other hand, am secretly devastated that I don't get to work behind the festival bar with my friends and forget our daily life for two days and two nights.  I had arranged my on-call for birth clients around this event and been looking forward to it since packing up and trundling off site last year.

Its so long since I went anywhere or did anything other than live this life, that I can't quite imagine that there is anywhere else, let alone dare to dream that I might go there.  To go there now, whilst I'm still young enough to want to feel cool cotton sheets on my hot skin and conceive of a day stretching out before me with nothing other than satisfying my body's desires for sensual experience to do.

I flick the kettle on and peer at a little layer of sand in the bottom of mum's china cup. I could murder a sandy beach right now. Hot bright sea, cool white wine, midnight mountain climb in moonlight, swimming in a hot moonlit sea.  A young body again, mine and his, a clean slate, to start with magic whilst we could rather than chase after it all my life. A future ahead as unblemished as the cloudless sky, what would I paint on that canvas this time, if I had my turn again?

The kettle boils and I toy with the teapot and Assam, but I just want a cuppa so I grab a teabag and...sand.  It's not sand in the cup.  It must have come from the back of the blue thing. It's wood.  Wood bored out of my cupboard by Anobium Punctatum.  Woodworm.

O Rose thou art sick

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Today's healthy snack

On busy days like today I need constant refuelling.  After breakfast (porridge) I had an early visit to a reflexology client who wanted a treatment after a night's work, in the hope that it will help her to sleep better during the day...I'm interested to see how this works out for her.  After treating her and having a cup of green tea with her, I drove to our local hospital where I'm delivering breastfeeding education on the post natal ward in the morning and working in the breastfeeding drop-in clinic in the afternoon.  Wednesday's is my shopping day, so I went straight from the hospital to the supermarket, then home to put it all away at the same time as putting the oven on and starting dinner.

Usually Wednesdays are my day for falling off the good diet wagon straight into the hospital League Of Friends tea shop where the cakes are many, varied and quite wonderful.  I'm also guilty of picking up some chocolatey snack bars or crisps to keep in my bag for when hunger strikes during the day.  I'm starting to realise that the way to prevent this is good planning, by having tasty, easy to eat snacks ready prepared to grab in the morning and sling into my bag.  

When I need to snack with a quick cuppa during the day, it's best if whatever I have is easy to eat, and these nuts are perfect because sometimes one or two mouthfuls are enough to keep me going.

To make these, I heat my little frying pan and put a teaspoon of coconut oil in, and a teaspoon of fennel seeds, along with the nuts and seeds, and toast until they just start to change colour.  I let them cool, and put them in an airtight container.  I have no idea how long they would keep like this, because they are usually gone in a day, as people can't resist a handful whilst waiting for the kettle to boil for tea.  I take a box of them out with me, I tip some into Dave's salad lunch box, and use any left over to sprinkle over what ever we're having to eat that night.

I use around a tablespoon each of nuts, varying each depending on what I've got in the cupboard and what I fancy at the time.  Usually this is:

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnut halves
  • Flaked Almonds (not in the picture)
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Linseeds
You really can use whatever nuts you like, and you could add chopped dates or sultanas as well.

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