Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Your Comfort Zone


When I think of comfort zone, I don't know why but I always think of Charles Schulz Peanuts' book title "Happiness is a Warm Blanket".

Your comfort zone is what you currently have and makes you happy. It is cozy, warm and comfortable, like your favourite pair of shoes you've had for years, like a warm blanket.
But don't you find that, once you're all wrapped up in that warm and nice blanket on your sofa, with the perfect cup of tea or coffee in your hand, you just don't want to move? The phone or door bell rings and you literally have to drag yourself out of your heavenly environment to answer - if you decide to answer at all. After all, you're all comfortable and relaxed. Who dares to disturb you? If it's that important, they'll try again later, right?! It's like being fast asleep and cozy in your bed under the duvet and the alarm goes off to get ready for work. Know the feeling?! I'm sure you do.

Your comfort zone may bring you a feeling of safety but it will never challenge you, your comfort zone will never bring you anything new in your life, your comfort zone is where you are, right now - you are not evolving.
Jim Kwik has a saying that I absolutely love - "If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them". And it is so true.


Your comfort zone, however cozy it is, is your limitations. If you don't dare to take action to stretch them, go beyond them to either overcome your fears and obstacles or improve your inner and outer life, you are doomed to live a limited life.



Getting out of your comfort zone is necessary and an unavoidable step to progress. It is unpredictable and this nature will always make it scary. What if I lose what I already have? What if I can't do it? The truth is, no progress can come without change. And while you can most certainly plan, always keep in mind that things don't always go according to plans. The nature of change is to challenge the status quo and the progress you will make and the lessons you will learn from these experiences will depend on how you react to these experiences.

Many changes in our lives are often thrust upon us, we are not the initiator, we just have to suffer it, roll with it, but by no means are we powerless about these experiences. We get to choose how we react to these events and experiences in the best possible way that will benefit us, eventually.
In that respect, your mindset will play an essential part on how you are going to take on board any change, beneficial or detrimental, and a clear mind and objective outlook will be your best friends in this journey.


Any change will challenge your comfort zone but any change can also add to the value and quality of your life. Your comfort zone, to start with, should be what you want to have and experience, not what you settle for. You are worth so much more than that.
If your comfort zone happens to be what you settle for, you have ultimately 2 choices - tell yourself that it's enough for you and take unexpected changes in your stride the best you can, or make the changes you want in your life happen and step out of your comfort zone.

The first option is the safe option but there is not likely going to be much improvement in the quality of your life. The second option is the "scary shit" option - it's not safe, not guaranteed to work, not predictable, but it's the best chance you have to achieve your heart's desires. It is like with the lottery, you can't win it if you're not in it! At the end of the day, happiness and fulfillment are your ultimate goals and, sorry to break it out, life is not a spectator's sport, you have to be a participant and take conscious and deliberate action. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world". It all starts with you taking action and being that person. Because without change, there is no progress.

Stepping out of your comfort zone, however, does not have to be as drastic as quitting your day job at the drop of the hat to sell everything you own and go to Tibet to become a Buddhist monk (unless of course that is what you want to achieve). Baby steps are just as significant, especially if you are not a natural risk-taker or stepping out of your comfort zone is a new sport for you. You first start jogging, not running the marathon! You can get bigger and more daring as you go along and get used to it. It can be as small as trying one new food every week or get up 5 minutes early for a 5-minute workout, or start journaling about your hopes and dreams to discover what your true purpose is.

Growing as a soul and an individual in this world is all down to you - both on how you decide to react to change and how to make it happen. We often feel powerless and let things happen to us but, in reality, the vast majority of the time, we do have the power to choose, even if on small things. Just be patient and gentle with yourself. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day - it's not magic. It takes work, dedication and effort to create the life you desire.

You may wonder, when is the right time? How can I make change happen for me? Often, it will take something - an event, a person, a feeling - to tell yourself "Enough with this" and commit to make the change you need for your best life and your best self happen. Any goal you have, for you to truly commit to it and not give up halfway, you will always need a strong "why", an emotional state and attachment that will motivate you to get there, because the change is better than the "enough with this". You know the famous quote, "And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom".
Writing down what you expect to achieve, what needs to change and what your plan is for making it happen will support you to, first, not forget - you think about doing something, you're determined and the next minute, before you know it, it's totally gone. In my world, if it's not written down, it's gone up to the fairies! - Then, it will support you to take action. Whether the plan works or not, you will always take something from it. Firstly, there is always Plans B, C, D, E... and your problem solving skills will evolve and expand, increasing your creativity and helping you see other ways and possibilities. Also, the fact of deciding to create change shifts your mindset entirely from a victim, can't do anything, negative thinking attitude, into a winner, adventurer, positive mindset. You can never defeat a positive mindset; it will always kick back and search for other ways to work. Having the gift of a positive mindset will also help you notice and value the things you already have in your life. Reaching for the stars is one thing but gratitude is everything. You might want reach for something you already have and waste your efforts you could use for reaching a different star to brighten your sky. By missing the gratitude, you will never be satisfied.

I love this illustration below that uncovers the different stages of stepping out of your comfort zone. It is like a map to success, you just have to build the bridge between your comfort zone and the learning zone to get to Happyland:


Positive mindset, gratitude and a clear mind and vision are your superpowers in this quest. Your comfort zone will be shed away for brighter adventures. But keep in mind that what you achieve will soon become your comfort zone, so, really, the process never stops in order for us to grow and flourish. It is an essential part of the human experience.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Sunday Journaling Prompt #13

Hello my fellow journalers

Please find below our new quote for this wintery Sunday -


As always, you are totally free to interpret this any way you prefer. Whatever inspires you.
It can be a sentence, a quote, a saying or several inspirational words.

Explore as deep as you can and enjoy the process.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Where Have Our Manners Gone?


Do you remember the good old days when men were holding doors and chairs for ladies, people were queuing and driving like civilised people, and Please and Thank You were automatic?

I do - my parents were pretty strict about politeness and manners, and I'm glad they were because, to me, they are a natural thing. They are a mark of respect to others, fairness and, well simple logic. Who would want to be treated disrespectfully and unfairly? No one that I know of.

However, these days, manners seem to be mainly a thing of the past, a rare thing. Kids push you to get on the bus before you, even if you've been waiting for over half an hour and they just turned up 20 seconds ago, people eating your lunch you left in the fridge at work for later... Only a couple of examples of bad manners that I have experienced numerous times. And when I say "kids", really, I mean every one from kids, to adults and pensioners.
People can be so rude nowadays and it seems from people's reactions that it's normal.

Lack of manners is one of my pet peeves. I absolutely HATE it (yes, "hate" and it is not too strong). My blood pressure goes up the roof straight away. I cannot control the impulse, but I do manage, after a few seconds, to gradually let it go - it takes a good while though! Another episode of unnecessary stress caused by others into our lives.
People shouting across the bus to have a chat - what the f**k?! Can't one of them move so they can sit together? Don't they notice that people don't need, neither do they want, to hear their conversation? I have my sound blocking headphones on listening to my music or audiobook full blast, yet I can still hear EVERY single thing they say!! Are they doing it on purpose? I mean, is it just me it bothers or what?
This is a flagrant demonstration of a total lack of respect for other people's private space, comfort and peace.

The world we live in is all about fast pace. Whatever you do, you got to be quick to move on to the next thing. Mobile devices are isolating people in their own little world, totally oblivious and even disregarding other people's world, values and boundaries. Social media connect people in such an impersonal way that you will find many "befriending" people they barely know, sharing every private detail of their lives. The rage of selfies, posting and sharing about your life seems to bring people's focus on themselves - blatantly ignoring whatever and whoever is not part of their world, alienating themselves from the outside world. How many Likes did my post or photo get? Surely, there should be more essential things to life than this.
No wonder people are losing their manners to others. We have lost the direct connection to others, whether we know them or not, and with that the basic understanding and respect that we should have for all human beings.

Let us not forget, we are all, after all, part of the same family, the same species, the same planet, we all share the same air we breathe, we all feel the same emotions when we win and when we lose. Manners, and therefore respect, are the manifestation of the values we share and our common belonging. By disrespecting others, we disrespect ourselves. Not one human being is above the others, we all get to realise that and learn it the hard way in some way or another at some point in our lives.


I remember one of my dad's school books that I still have - dated from the 1930s - teaching morality and manners, how to behave and treat others with the respect they deserve - that we all deserve.
Surely this should come back into the schools' curriculum for a new generation to rediscover and re-instill into the world the art of politeness, manners and respect. At the end of the day, manners don't cost anything and don't make you look weak or less than.

Please, that would be nice. For my blood pressure's sake and the sake of humanity! Thank you...



Sunday, 8 December 2019

Sunday Journaling Prompt #12

Happy late Sunday everyone

Back with a new journaling prompt for you


Now that we are in the last month of 2019, this prompt has perfect timing to review your year and see what you‘ve got left to achieve - after all there is still time.

Obviously, like with any prompt, you can interpret it as a life-long review. As always, you are the boss of your journaling!

Enjoy...

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Time Is Always Now


Fast-paced lives, looking towards the future, making plans for a better tomorrow, or dwelling on the past, reliving your life's worst traumatic events or most uncomfortable and embarrassing experiences, wishing we could turn back time and do things differently. If only... that's often what we live by. If only I could get a bonus next month, if only I hadn't said that, if only I could win the lottery then I would.

While reliving our life or wishing it away, we totally miss what actually happens to us, right now, in the Present moment.
Have you ever noticed that when your mind is racing with past experiences and preferred alternative outcomes, or you are busy thinking about future plans filled with excitement or dread, you barely breathe? Enough to be alive, for sure, but not deeply, in a restorative manner and purposefully. It is also true when we are stressed, by the way. Breathe...

The Present moment is actually all we have, it is who we are. What we were in the past is gone and what we will be or do in the future hasn't happened yet, some part of it at least out of our control, and, for many various reasons, it might never happen.
It is not to discard the amazing value of the past, learning from our experiences and growing, and the future, making plans and working towards worthy goals to better yourself, your environment and/or your community, but to refocus our attention to the fact that, by forgetting the Present moment, a beautiful piece of the puzzle, we do not live our life fully, enjoying even the little things, consciously. We let it slide and give the power to external sources to lead our life for us.

Focusing on the present moment can be as simple as focusing on your breathing and body response, on your sensations when walking outside - the breeze on your skin, the ground below your feet, the energy in your body when in motion, or stillness, the sun shining in your eyes, the birds singing in the trees, or the dogs barking! Or observing people and surroundings on the bus. When you start focusing on the present moment, you will immediately notice that you automatically slow down. You are not judgmental, you are but an observer of yourself, your inner space, as well as everything around you. Everything and everyone is part of a whole. You feel more alive as you've ever been. It is a beautiful experience.

In a previous article, I presented the Wake Up Your Senses exercise. If you're not sure where to start and you feel that only focusing on your breath will be boring, this is a great exercise to start fully being in the Present moment. For the Present moment is where you truly exist. You know the famous saying, "There is no time like the Present", really, there truly isn't. All our fully lived experiences and sensations happened there - or should I say, here.

The present moment not only opens doors to your fully conscious living, experiencing every sensation possible, but also to opportunities in your relationships to others. The Perfect Time is always now to let a colleague or a loved one know how grateful you are to have them in your life and how much you appreciate them, or notice something amazing or brave they have done.
I fully understand that now that both my parents have died and, despite our complicated relationship, I never told them how much I loved them, even if I wanted to on many occasions while they were still alive, but felt too embarrassed to do so.
Taking the present moment as is and experiencing it as is helps you fight the inner struggle and the barriers you put on yourself that prevent you from moving forward, because we always move forward, in the end - into the next Present moment.

Keeping our gaze on the Present moment opens up your mind and intuition, makes you more open to possibilities and solutions, more compassionate towards yourself and others, and is the best remedy I know against regrets and missed opportunities.

Live your life fully and enjoy it NOW - Carpe Diem, seize the day - fully and consciously.



Sunday, 24 November 2019

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

The Moral of the Story Is...


Today, I would like to share with you a recent (even still current) experience.

We are all active, going 200 miles per hour and not stopping much or even slowing down in this day and age.
I am totally guilty of that. Being a full-time working single mum, needless to say that my time - with my health and my loved ones - is one of my most precious and valuable assets. Wasting time is definitely at the top of my Pet Hate list.

Recently, I got ill - nothing life-threatening, thankfully - full up with a massive head cold, suffering with permanent brain-breeze syndrome. I have been working so hard on improving my health that, as I was watching people around me fall like flies with the seasonal germs, I was convinced that my optimum diet had strengthened my immune system so well that I'd go through the net. And I did, for a while. Until Thursday 07/11.

Sore throat started in the evening and ended up with a congested head by the weekend. I spent most of that first weekend in bed, feeling really unwell, like my head was full of lead and I could barely open my eyes, no energy.
Then came Monday with our Area Manager's visit at work over 2 days, and a meeting I was chairing on the Tuesday to prepare for. No choice - I had to go to work and stop feeling sorry for myself. Put your big girl's pants on and get on with it, Christelle!! I work in a very busy office so we never stop there; there is always something to do or sort out. Like a good little trooper, I pushed myself every single minute of the day. Back home at 6:30 pm with dinner to prepare, cats to feed, dishes to do... Bedtime at 9:30 pm, completely drained and crashing into sleep within minutes, only to wake up at 3 am the next morning with totally blocked sinuses and brain ready to explode, unable to breathe comfortably. Back to work the next day at 9 am, with, beforehand, people coughing all over me on the bus for a good half hour, and repeating the same process as the day before.

I pride myself on taking good care of my health, listening to my body and limiting toxicity as much as possible, establishing a balance in my life that will help me maximise my health, contribution to others and happiness.
Here, however, on this occasion, I completely and utterly failed. I failed to recognise when to preserve my health and strength, to stop, slow down and take care of myself to recover.
The result - I was bedridden for 2 days, unable to do anything, let alone going to work, sleeping 90% of the time and unable to eat on the first day. From a simple cold, it blew out of proportion to having temperature on those 2 days, feeling light-headed and strength-depleted the next day. It is only now (Sunday afternoon) that I am starting to emerge and be active again - moderately, though, no rushing around.

I know that my story is nothing special, that I've done this in the past numerous times and that so have millions of people like you and me on this earth. But, to me, that is what makes it worse. We are so used to neglecting, abusing our body, ignoring its signals and cries for help, that we go on auto-pilot and end up crashing down with multiple system malfunctions. This has become our normality and I find it very sad that this is the world we now live in.
External responsibilities outweigh by far our own responsibility to ourselves, it is the shocking truth; but how can you function in the outside world and help others if you are unfit, unwell or, in a way, malfunctioning? When your strength is depleted, how can you fight some more? If you do, it should be for your recovery.

And the moral of the story is - listen to your body, it is NOT a weakness. What it is telling you is for the benefit of your health and well-being.
You have a responsibility towards yourself first and foremost. It is all linked to self-care and self-love, out of respect for yourself and your amazing body. Only then can you be of true service and support to others, leading the way and making this planet a much better place to live in.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Sunday Journaling Prompt #10

After a sickness break, I am back to you with a new journaling prompt, so grab your notebook and pen and journal on...


With social media and advertising telling us constantly to be someone else, this almost 2 centuries old Oscar Wilde's fantastic quote irreverently reminds us that it is impossible. How does it make you feel?

Happy Sunday journaling and self-exploring, my dear friendly souls...

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Sunday Journaling Prompt #9

Happy Sunday

We are back again with a new journaling prompt


Now that’s a tough question. Easy to answer, but in order to answer it truly, you really need to dig deep. What we’re missing the most, most often, is not something you can see or touch - and that’s where the question gets sensitive.

It’s all about sheer and brutal honesty towards yourself - no blinkers on, because that’s the very least you deserve.

X

Food - You Become What You Eat (Conclusion)

For the last few weeks, we have been exploring what food does to your body - good and bad - how our body assimilates food and how reliant on the food industry we have been for so many decades, dictating our state of health.

I believe that the main reason why people increasingly have food allergies and intolerances is because of the bad unhealthy diets we have been on for most of our lives. Our bodies, at some point, is saying NO to the added sugar, the chemicals and other sensitising types of food being a constant aggression to our system.

Even if I’m not particularly grateful for over a full year of bad belly and far too many toilet trips, I am however extremely grateful that, at a certain point, my body pushed the WARNING! DANGER button and opened my eyes to what I thought was a healthy diet.

When what you eat is a constant attack to your body, it will become sick. If your body becomes sick, out of the window goes your vitality, making you more sedentary and less active. Your body stores toxins, fat and you then truly become what you eat as the unhealthy foods literally take over your body, your energy and even your thinking process and confidence.

Don’t let the foods you eat dictate who you are. By choosing to eat truly healthy, you can save your life and actually become who you’ve always wanted to be...


Sunday, 27 October 2019

Sunday Journaling Prompt #8

Happy Sunday to you all.

After a laptop-free home break, I am back to the blog this Sunday for our next journaling prompt:


This question is often easy to answer for people around you, but not so easy for you.

Take a good honest look inside yourself and at your experiences and achievements in life (big and small), and you will find your answers.

YOU MATTER and you are UNIQUE.

Until next week...

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Gluten Free Flatbread Recipe


Eating healthy is very important for me. But, as a true food lover, there is no way I will ever compromise on delicious and tasty food.

As I am gluten sensitive, I have to be extra careful to what I eat and, while there are many products that have gluten free options, they are often more expensive.

Also I have been avoiding ready-made foods with added preservatives and sugar so homemade options are often much better for me. I am therefore always on the lookout for easy and quick gluten free no sugar recipes - don't really want to spend most of the very little free time I have cooking and baking.

This recipe for yummy gluten free flatbread only takes a few minutes to make and cook, and you can even freeze the extra flatbread pieces for later.


INGREDIENTS FOR BASIC RECIPE:


  • 2 measuring cups of gluten free self-raising flour (I used white flour but you can use brown if available) + extra for dusting
  • 1 measuring cup of full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 sachet of yeast (7g)
  • 1/2 sachet of bicarbonate soda
  • vegetable oil
  • a griddle, pancake pan or large frying pan
For the flatbread pieces on the photo, I added 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 2 handfuls of grated mozzarella and an extra teaspoon of yogurt.

RECIPE (For about 10 flatbread pancakes/patties)

  • Mix the flour, yeast and bicarbonate of soda (and any other dry ingredients, if customising);
  • Add the yogurt and mix until you get a soft dough-like texture. You might get some crumbles (I did) and that's no big deal;
  • Very lightly oil your pan (I put some oil on a piece of kitchen towel and covered my pancake pan by rubbing on the oil) and put on medium heat;
  • In the meantime, grab a piece of the dough and create a patty by rolling the dough between your hands and creating a ball. Ensure you dust generously as the dough will be sticky otherwise. Dust a flat clean surface and flatten the ball gently and evenly with the palm of your hand to create a small pancake, ensuring it is dusted with flour on both sides - mine were about 3-5 mm thick;
  • When the pan/griddle is hot, place the flatbread pieces to cook. You only need to leave them for 1 minute or so each side, then flip each side again for a few seconds on a second round. Use a spatula to flip and remove the flatbread pieces to ensure you do not get burnt;
  • The flatbread patties can be left on a plate to cool down or eaten warm. 

If you are freezing some of the patties, let them cool down and separate each by placing a piece of baking/parchment paper in between to avoid them sticking together.
Once cold, the flatbread can be toasted in a regular toaster to eat warm at a later time.

They are easy to make and customisable. You can make them savoury (with cheese or any small savoury ingredients) or sweet (by adding honey/vanilla extract/dried fruits). If you do customise them, always ensure that whatever ingredients you add are leveled in the basic recipe. If you add dry ingredients (like I did with the cheese and turmeric), always add a little bit more yogurt. If you add any "wet" ingredients (eg. liquid vanilla extract, syrup or honey), make sure that you add more flour.

Whoever said that eating healthy had to be boring and bland?!

Bon appetit...

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Food - You Become What You Eat (Part 3)


Welcome back to this week's Part 3 of the Food - You Become What You Eat article.

Having perfect food would mean growing your own herbs, fruits, vegetables and grains, and breeding your own farm animals and fish for meat and milk.
This is the ideal situation where you create your own dairy products, butters, oils, sauces...

Unfortunately, for most of us, we have to rely on the food industry to provide us with the foods we eat.

For many decades, the food industry has dictated without any resistance (or at least very little) what foods we can choose for our families.
The introduction of free range and organic ranges have highlighted the fact that the foods we have been eating all these years might not have been that good for us - pesticides, hormones, steroids, antibiotics have been part of our food for so long, linked to that the increase in obesity, heart diseases and food allergies and intolerances - surely all this should have dumped a massive neon sign in front of our eyes and make us realise that the food industry has not had our best interest at heart and, more importantly, our health and well-being.

You are definitely proven right when you actually start looking at the ingredient list of items you usually purchase for yourself and your family.
It should give you the chills! Chemical additives, added salt, added sugar...

Added sugar and refined sugars (such as sweeteners, syrup, "flavouring"...) are one of the main culprits for the alarming number of obesity cases in the industrialised world today. To understand how unhealthy, and even dangerous, this is, let us have a look at what happens in our body when we ingest high amounts of sugar (at least a simplified version):

Insulin from the pancreas processes sugar and transforms it as energy to go into the bloodstream for the body to function. Unfortunately, the pancreas does not produce insulin on demand and in line with the amount of sugar consumed - let us not forget that all other foods are also turned into sugar to be processed as fuel for the body (carbs, protein, fats, fruits and vegetables) and, of course, healthy foods have nutrients that can benefit the body functions and so should be prioritised to fuel your body.

Therefore all excess sugar is turned into body fat, increasing body weight and pressure on the body's skeletal system as well as on our vital organs, arteries, respiratory airways and conduits.
Excess sugar in the bloodstream is also extra toxins that will create deposits, possibly clogging arteries.

Scientific studies conducted in the 20th century were pointing the finger repeatedly to foods high in fat, giving the general cultural acknowledgement that fat is bad for you and distracting you from the genuine dangers of sugar excess. What we couldn't have known as only members of the public until the very last few decades, is that these studies were commissioned by companies from the food industry. The food industry has been a lie, accepted by all for many generations, and ingrained deeply into our psyche. Why are sweets and cookies a treat given to children to reward them of their good behaviour or make them feel better after they fall and hurt themselves? That's something we'll discuss in another article - Now that commissioned scientific research studies have to reveal the company or organisation commissioning it, members of the public are realising how the past studies were highly biased, and companies have to be more forthcoming and honest about the research they are commissioning and revealing.

Sugar is an appetite booster. The more you eat, the more you will want to eat - and therefore the more you will buy. This, in time, will create a dependency and alter your taste buds so that anything without sugar - that could stop the vicious circle - will taste bland.

The truth about the "Fat is bad for you" myth is being uncovered while it is being progressively discovered that good fats are good for you (and even vital) and bad fats are bad for you. Natural fats from nuts, natural oils are essential in the good functioning of our body, as they are a back-up fuel when all carbs have been processed and used as fuel.

We now have the power to choose what we eat with the rise of organic foods and the no additives, no preservatives, no added sugar, not from concentrate... labels (I would always take a look at the ingredients list, just to make sure, however).
Members of the public need to be as aware as possible about the effects of processed foods, refined sugars, saturated fats as well as traces of pesticides treating fruits and vegetables we eat, and antibiotics used on farm animals to treat infections. Only then will people voluntarily choose better foods for themselves and their families, and help eradicate the food industry scam. After all, if we don't buy it, they can't carry on selling it.

And hopefully that will change mentalities of all food companies to protect their customers' health rather destroy it for profit.

Until next week for the final part of this article...