Thursday, 30 June 2011

9 Lessons from a (Mostly) Raw Diet

You might remember that the other week I was trying out a raw diet. Well, I was going to give you a day-by-day account, but I thought it would be easier to digest (pun intended) if I simply gave you the top lessons I learnt. Cool? Cool.

Note: when I say ‘diet’ I don’t mean the losing weight kind of diet. I did lose a few pounds over the week, but that was not my intention. What I wanted was to see other physical benefits such as improved energy levels, better skin, and less bloating which is an issue for me.

Firstly, I’ll give you the lowdown of a typical day on the diet for me:

Brekkie: Fruit smoothie made with bananas and strawberries (if I embarked on the diet again I’d want to significantly bulk this up with a protein powder or some such powerful élément).
Lunch: Epic salad as pictured above, including avocado and mixed seeds for essential fats.
Dinner: A light veggie stir-fry avec tofu.
Snacks: Apples; carrots; raw chocolate (super-yummy and available in all good health food shops); homemade raw chocolate pie; oatcakes with hummus as a cheat (although you can make raw hummus).

So, class is in session and this is what I got from my raw programme:

1. Unless you are really saintly, you’re probably going to end up cheating. Don’t beat yourself up about this and simply look at each new day as a chance to begin again. Also, try and make sure you make them good cheats like tofu, cooked beans, oatcakes, toasted seeds or yummy grains.

2. You can do a raw diet without a hand blender or magimix, but it won’t be much fun. If you want to whip up a raw storm I suggest you either borrow or invest in at least one of these!

3. You’ll need to Prepare with a capital P. Loosely planning your meals and snacks for the whole week will make life a lot easier. We didn’t and I think that was where we really tripped up. You cannot prepare too much with this kind of diet, so make sure you have plenty of fresh produce ready to go.

4. You’ll need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so make sure you like doing that. Choose a week where you haven’t got a whole lot else going on so that your raw experiments can take precedence. 

5. You’ll probably have never eaten so much fruit and vegetables in your life, and you’ll need to use all of your imaginative power to avoid getting bored. Salads don’t always have to be of the garden variety, whop in everything you’ve got, splash it around in a zingy dressing and add seeds, sprouted seeds or nuts for extra oomph

6. Get a good raw recipe book, with pictures! Even if it’s just from the library. Alternatively, print a plethora of web recipes to whet your raw appetite.

7. If it ends up simply being a 90, 80, 70 or even less percentage raw diet, that’s still great, and can easily be built on over a few weeks if you want. The main lesson I took from my week is that, even when not on a raw diet, I could be eating much more fresh produce. As a loose rule I intend to make 70% of my shopping basket fruit and vegetables, as well as 70% of my plate, from now on. 

8. Fruit and vegetables can fill you up, but they aren’t always so great at sustaining you. Don’t expect to down a smoothie then hop off to the shops for three hours without a snack. I did this and nearly fainted. Not advisable. Take a couple of raw snacks with you wherever you go. My mum made a valid point that animals in nature that are totally herbivore graze all day long. That’s pretty much how you’ll roll on a raw diet, which didn’t suit me as I like to be getting on with other things, not munching continually. 

9. Don’t go wild on your first day off of the diet and eat an entire block of cheese. Take it from me: it hurts.

So, did I see the benefits I mentioned at the beginning? Hmm, not really. I found the diet very difficult, probably because I wasn’t nearly prepared enough. I think raw living takes a lot of training and isn’t necessarily something you can jump into cold tomato ('turkey' didn’t seem quite the right word...) I have to say that avoiding wheat and dairy for the week did seem to make me less bloated, and that the night we cracked and had a creamy vegetable curry my bloating returned in full force.

Further Reading:

♥ Steve Pavlina rocked a 30 Day Raw Diet
Raw LouLou has a host of tasty and, more importantly, easy raw recipes
♥ Karen Knowler is a raw food coach (yes they exist!) who worked with Gala Darling, you can see how they got on here

Let me know if you’ve had any/ plan to have any raw food adventures! It’s definitely something I would dabble in again, though I’m not sure if it could work for me at the 100% level.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Words to Live By #147

Image thanks to christopher

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."
Helen Keller

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Saturday Salute 25.06.11

Image thanks to whitney

Hello, diamonds! It's midsummer. I just got an unexpected windfall. I'm about to get a lovely new place to live. I have wonderful friends. Charade just hit 500 Google followers. Life is looking pretty fine. I think it's important to think & say & sing your blessings often, especially if the road has been a little rocky of late. So - you're turn! Whisper them to yourself as you wash the dishes. Shout them out the window. Sing them in the shower.

// Live and let live: how detaching can improve relationships on Positively Present is good stuff.

// Danielle's article on the possible meaning of fleeting feelings might just give you one of those "lightbulb" moments.

// Your Happiness Plan. Yes please!

// 5 Reasons Why You Should Keep Blogging on Miseducated. Amen to that.

To ALL my lovely followers (yes, you! and you!), on the first Saturday of the rest of our lives, you're making me happy, & happier by the day. Jus'sayin'.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

How to Feel Better: 25 Ways to Heal

Image thanks to yvette

Lots of things can make us feel bad. For me, recently, it’s been poor health, family dramas, the break down of a long term relationship, and the vague vibrations of a quarter-life crisis. For you, it might be any manner of disappointment, disillusionment, depression...

However great or drenched in blessings your life is (because mine is, in a thousand ways) you will never avoid these sorts of upsets altogether. It's unrealistic to expect so. And, if you aren’t prepared for them, well, they can bust you up pretty bad.

But the magic is in pulling it back; feeling the pain, healing the pain, and using the pain as progress. If life were a computer game, these periods would be the level changes; the points where you have to fight the big bosses, to ultimately move to a higher point in the journey.

In the midst of it all, like the child creeping to her parents bedroom after a nightmare; like the tearful girl turning up at her best friend’s door in the rain; like the woman dissolving her pain in the steamy water of a hot bath – sometimes we all need a way to just feel better. This is a list of some of mine.

1. Cry. This is numero uno for a reason. Admit it, it feels good. Do it, and do it often. If the tears aren’t coming, coax them with a sad movie or by writing out some of what you’re feeling. Indulge in your tears, make them work for you, remembering that each tear is a splish-splash towards your recovery.
2. Go for a walk.
4. Talk. To yourself. To your grandma. To your lover. To your cat. To the universe.
5. Tell the people you love and appreciate that you love and appreciate them, in the best way you can.
6. Listen to music. Lyrics are their own special kind of therapy, and when you’re going through some tough s**t you’ll probably start understanding them a lot more. Jukesy is good for this. Grab a warm drink. Pick a genre. Melt.
7. Write a list of things to do when you do feel better. Then do some of them right now.
8. Know that you are not alone; whatever you are feeling has been felt by the human race before and will be felt again, probably a million times over. They will deal with it and so will you.
9. Give yourself a hug. You’re damn right I do this, and often. Test it before you trash it.
10. Trust.
11. Paint your toenails a bright colour. The little things are worth loving, and a glimmer of neon pink poking out of the bedcovers will always warm your heart.
12. Layer up. Warm layers of clothing such as long-sleeved jersey tops, wool cardigans, pashminas etc. always make me feel infinitely better. Plod around the house like you’ve rolled in a jumble sale bin and you’ll either feel comforted and cosy, or make yourself hoot with laughter when you catch your reflection – either of which are good ways to heal!
13. Sleep on your friend’s sofa. They love you, and somehow the act of crashing at their place solidifies this.
14. Order pizza. Once in a while ain't no thang.
15. Revisit a time where you felt more inspired. Your M.Y.L.A. journal; a favourite old film; a piece of art you made. Recapture how you felt at that time.
17. Wash your hair, or have someone wash it for you.
18. Do the thing you think isn’t allowed: buy yourself an enormous bunch of flowers; wear the dress you think is too fancy; throw a party when no one expects you to; phone the friend you fell out with two years ago, and say sorry.
19. Lie on the floor. It’s a good place to get a new perspective on things.
20. Breathe deep. Deeper.
21. Stretch. Yoga moves like the cobra (which I regularly do in the bath, by the way...); the cat, and child’s pose all serve to smooth and soothe.
22. Say thanks to yourself. Out loud. Example: ‘thanks, Megan, for not cracking up.’ ‘Thanks, Megan, for always being on my side.’ ‘Thanks in advance, Megan, for the amazing person you’re going to turn me into.’
23. Ride the wave. This is one my good friend Ellen and I use to death. Just go through what you’re going through, because you have to. Just look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Just ride the wave.
24. Have a bath. The be all. The end all. The classic. The fail-safe healing-fest that is a hot, bubbly, buoyancy-aid bit of bath time.

and, most importantly...

25. Don’t feel bad for feeling bad! It’s not being under the dark cloud that defines you, it’s how open you are to letting it lift.

I hope some of these will help you as much as they have helped me. Add your own!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Words to Live By #147

Image thanks to hillary

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Theodore Roosevelt

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Saturday Salute 18.06.11

Image thanks to lauren

Nothing smart to say, so it's straight to the links today! (Well that was a rhyme... so kind of smart? Mm, maybe not.)

// Love Rachel Hills and love this on finding the right mentor.

// I want to make nut mylk.

// Top ten makeover movie scenes from Agent Lover made my day.

// I'm pretty much going to base my life on this from now on, just so you know:

Until next time...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

How to Get Over a Break-Up

 Image thanks to shandi-lee

Well I guess it’s time I spilled the beans on one of the major bumps in the metaphorical road of my life lately: I broke up with my boyfriend of nearly four years. Or, rather, he broke up with me.

Gut punch.

The amazing thing is: I’m okay. Actually, I’m more than okay, I’m pretty darn fantastic. But I wasn’t to start with. I don’t deal with rejection at all well (who does?) and thus there were points where I felt totally broken by my break-up.

The fact that I got from there to here inspired me to write this article, because when I was distraught, juggling pain and upset and disorientation in a way I never had before, I wanted a route out, and, with a lot of help, I found one.

And I want you to find one too. So let’s go.

Just feel it.

Emotions are rich, raw, rocking rides, sometimes good, but in this case, bad. But there’s no use fighting the fact that you hurt, that you despair even. Tears cleanse. They dump out the gooey gluey heartache, but you have to let them. At first, I told myself and the world that I wasn’t knocked by any little old silly insignificant break-up, PAH! I’m a queen, a goddess, his loss, right? Wrong. My loss. My heart-searing, gut-twisting, tragic, resonating loss. And when I admitted that, the healing started. Culturally speaking, as believed embodiments of Destiny’s Child’s ‘independent women’ – we’re not meant to grieve the men we lose, but instead dust ourselves off and get right back to business. But that, I feel, is unrealistic, and we cannot heal until we acknowledge the wound. So acknowledge it.

Say what you need to say... but not all of it.

Survival at the end of a relationship demands that you identify and express the powerful feelings sweeping through you, but express them in a way that won’t cause you or others further damage.” - Lesley Garner

Closure is important. If you’re going to miss someone, tell them so. If you in any way understand what they’ve done, say it. If you feel they’ve acted wrongly, state it in a rational way. Avoid, on the other hand, desperate pleadings – you’ll regret them later, because you won’t change their mind, and you certainly don’t want to add regret to the cocktail of heartache you’ve already got going on. That said, these thoughts need to get out, so here is my number one top tip: in ANY correspondence you plan to have with your new ex, particularly via the all-too-easy-to-abuse medium of Facebook, write it down somewhere else first. This is therapeutic as it allows you to write without censoring yourself, knowing you’ll edit it later, and in the editing process you can eliminate all of the non-beneficial bits (which will likely be about 90% of it!)

Don’t let a hurt ego hurt YOU.

Here’s a truth that will lighten the load of your pain: a lot of what you’re feeling is a hurt ego. Rejection, it’s tough, but if you get it into perspective, what can often be hurting more than the actual loss is the tarnish on your built up sense of identity – the projected self, not the true, core being. What can be most painful is the idea that ‘he/she doesn’t want me’. But what does that really mean? Nothing.

You are napping peacefully in a boat in the middle of a lake. Another craft breaks into yours and wakes you with a start. Thinking that a clumsy or prankish boater has crashed into you, you leap up furious, ready to curse him out, only to find the boat in question is empty. You laugh at your mistake and return peaceably to your nap. The only difference between the two reactions is that in the first case, you’d thought yourself the target of someone’s malice, while in the second you realised your “I” was not a target.” - Matthieu Ricard

Your ex once saw you one way, now they see you a different way – and the likelihood is that nothing fundamental in you has really changed. So walk on, head high, not cut down. Honour the loss, but free yourself of any ego-centric pain.

Make a break-up 'Plan of Action'.

This helped me so much. I opened a word doc., saved it to my desktop, and began listing thing after thing after thing that I could do to get past the break-up. This included positive affirmations like (and these are direct quotes!) “YOU NEED SOMEONE ORGANISED AND POSITIVE AND PLAN-MAKING AND ADVENTUROUS AND INSPIRING AND WORTHY OF YOUR RESPECT AND THAT PERSON EXISTS!” and, “You will go on to have one of those remarkable, life-long, spectacular, fulfilling relationships, because YOU were the one prepared to work for that, not him, and you need someone who meets you on that.”

It also included a checklist of plans for the immediate future to enjoy and help boost my confidence, such as positive changes in my diet, a haircut, a new perfume etc. All of which were very helpful! There was no censor, I wrote down all that I felt about him, good and bad; all that I felt about myself, good and bad; and all that I wanted for the future, with or without him. That’s my kind of therapy. When you stop needing to write things in there, you’ll know you’re getting over it.

Now is the time to focus on what you need from a relationship.

Rarely does a perfect relationship end this way. There were likely problems that you yourself noticed, and were obviously willing to overlook. Now is the time to look at them. Hard. What wasn’t fulfilling you? What did you ideally need more of? Or less of? Now is the time to ask yourself these questions, as, if there is any chance of your ex returning to you tail between legs, you want to be prepared to pull focus on how the relationship could actually work for you, or admit to yourself that it hadn’t been working.

Get perspective.

When the thing we want doesn’t want us, somehow we want it a whole lot more. Like that last bit of meal left on your plate that you aren’t eating but – when someone attempts to take it away – you wolf down. It’s likely that the same illusion of want is veiling your ex. What you need to remind yourself is that they weren’t perfect, although it might seem like they were, and that you, or anything you did or didn’t do, is not the sole cause of their retreat, although it might feel that way. To help solidify this, write a list of their bad points, or things that disappointed you about them. This formed part of my ‘Plan of Action’. You’ll be surprised how many you’ll come up with once you start – and this will serve as a real reality check for that part of you which is still pining.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” - His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Lastly, let me share one little of piece of light that became my mantra in the throes of it all: you are impeccable; an exquisite challenge that your ex was unable to meet. You’ve been given a gift, the gift of a new future, now make it special.

Lost love frees up lots of time... time to excavate those parts of yourself that have maybe lain unused in this particular relationship.” - Lesley Garner

And do you know what? They might just be the best parts of you.

If you found this article helpful you might also want to see How to 'Get Over It'. Please add your own tales of break-up survival in the comments! And thanks for your comments on yesterday's post, they really mean a lot to me.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Inspiration: Use it or lose it?

Image thanks to sherman

So, if you imagine a person’s level of inspiration as a metaphorical well, instead of pulling up buckets full to the brim with sloshing gusto, I’ve run dry: the bucket is coming up empty.

I don’t know exactly why this is, but I have some hunches.

Sometimes life overwhelms us.

Sometimes the world starts throwing you balls from all directions and, in order to catch certain ones, you have to let others drop. Other AMAZING things are going on in my life right now (after a recent phase of tiresome troubles) and, for that reason, the energy I’ve got to give to the blog has somewhat depleted.

Blogs, businesses, blues musicians... we can all get stuck in a rut.

I’ve had this blog for nearly three years. THREE YEARS. Blow me down and call me Ned. It’s almost unfathomable, and it’s a long time to go writing articles week on week. I’ve done over 650 posts on Charade, so it’s pretty amazing that it’s taken me this long to get blogger’s block.

What I’ve noticed about inspiration is that it seems to snowball.

The more we have, the more we get. Inspiration breeds inspiration. Life right now, whilst great, is a bit samey – the days are long and quiet, lots of tea is being consumed – you probably know the drill. Therefore, I’m finding it hard to get jazzed, to get really buzzing, to spark off of NEW as I usually do. I need to splash around in my well a little if I can expect it to fill itself up.

How can I refill my well?

I can change things. I can work outside the box. I can mix up old customs. I can snuff out single flames and ignite raging fires. I can read. I can observe. I can listen. I can expand my horizon: read new blogs, new topics, new tales of success. I can avoid getting bogged down by the nitty-gritty: adverts, Google statistics, design blips, and just do what I love: write. I can let imperfection be my emancipation. I can stop posting for the sake of posting, and focus on quality not quantity. I can follow my own advice.

Yes, I think that’s just what I’ll do.

P.S. The raw diet is going well, although we have been cheating a bit... I’m taking photos and will share all soon!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Words to Live By #146

Image thanks to ky

"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."
Marilyn Monroe

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Saturday Salute 11.06.11


Hello world! How're things? I'm having a lovely weekend, today I had a tasty lunch out with my mum and a poke around the charity shops in the Welsh town of Cardigan (yes, that's apparently where cardigans come from!) I also bought the ring pictured at a craft fair that was on - I think it's so sweet! Tomorrow we are going to see a local Ballet performance of Beauty and the Beast, before starting a raw, yes RAW, diet next week... I will keep you posted on how it goes, and if you have any hints/websites etc. I would love to hear them!

Down t'bizness:

// How could anyone not love this wooden bunting necklace from All Things Original? I know I do!

// Whilst we're on wood-related things, I also wouldn't mind this cloud chopping board from Snug, never mind that it's so teensy it only seems to hold a piece of bread! (I'm planning to get my own place soon - cue continuous ramblings on home decor. I hope you're into it.)

// Last week I mentioned a blogger I love was in Amsterdam and it reminded me of my own trip, now Carrie is in Las Vegas and I'm recalling my 21st birthday (read Part One and Part Two of my budget guide if you're planning a trip too!). Ah, memories.

// This is sure to give you the travel bug.

And that's it for another week, stargazers.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Praise and love...

Image thanks to shandi-lee

Praise and love to those who seek,
to those who know and those who speak,
to those who smile with tender eyes,
whose wisdom penetrates the lies,
to those who sing and those who cry.
For those who fight for right and die.
To those who live to ripe old age,
to great grandmother, the family sage.
Praise and love to my daughters.
To those unborn and yet to come,
we lead you on with song and hum.
From other worlds and through birth-waters,
come forth Child, beloved daughter.
Praise and love to the Mothers of the World.
Praise and love to the Sisters of the World.
Praise and love to the Women of the World.
Praise and love to my daughters.

–– Words by Luisah Teish

Monday, 6 June 2011

Words to Live By #145

Image thanks to daniel zedda

"The great thing is, if one can, to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions in one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one's life."
C.S. Lewis

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Saturday Salute 04.06.11

Image thanks to olly moss

Roll up, roll up, for your usual share of Saturday web-sightings!

// One of my favourite bloggers, Elsa, is in Amsterdam, and reminds me of my trip last summer.

// That Was Not OK.

// If the world was a village of 100 people.

// 5 Reasons to be Authentic Rather than Generic on your blog, from Problogger.

// Pablo Neruda you get me every time.

And that's that for another week, stay super.

Friday, 3 June 2011

You Made a Difference!

I wanted to share a little thank you from the charity Look Good...Feel Better, whom you all supported by buying my podcasts last year and this. I counted up all the contributions (positively amazed at how many podcasts I sold!) and rounded up a nice donation which I made this morning.

When I got this message at the checkout, I knew it had to be shared with all of you:

Thank you so much for supporting Look Good...Feel Better. Your donation will help us to provide workshops for over 10,500 women undergoing the rigours of cancer treatment this year. After the workshops, ladies leave feeling relaxed, full of renewed confidence and ready to face the world again. Thank you for your part in making that happen.

I've now taken the podcasts down, and will be compiling them together into one ebook to put back up for sale in the very near future. Of course, thanks as always from me for your ongoing support and enthusiasm, you are too fantastic for words!

Please consider bookmarking Look Good...Feel Better for future donations; they make an amazing and unique difference in women's lives and deserve your support.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Gravitational Goals and Anchor Allies: Get Ahead of Yourself

Image thanks to hillary

We are often told not to ‘get ahead of ourselves’. 

Today I ask: why not?

I don’t advocate rushing through life, blinkered to a goal, and missing out on the life that is happening around you all the time. However, I also think that setting your mind ahead is a powerful visual tool for bringing what you want for the future into the consciousness of your present.

When we commit to the possibility of the future, we equip ourselves to recognise the opportunities that may arise to make that future a reality. We make goals that will attract us with gravitational force.

Your Anchors

Each of us has anchors: in our belief systems, in the people close to us, in our professions – things that keep us, “grounded.” But what if we threw our anchors ahead, and let a focused future anchor us? Too often, present anchors slip from being positive points of groundedness, to be the very fences holding us back. With an anchor as an ally in the future, we put a weight of faith in ourselves, and allow our belief system to include a belief and a confidence in that self. This confidence then focuses us forward, even when current circumstances may not be fulfilling us. It is a kind of trust.

Of course, if we are going to do this, these anchored goals need to be realistic, authentic, truthful, and achievable. What’s more, we must be sure that our attitude is not that a change in external circumstances will fix emotional issues, i.e. if you’re not happy with your physical appearance, consider that it might not be losing weight/ having a make-over that will remedy that, rather, it might be a positive appreciation of who you are inside and out, coupled with a diet and physical lifestyle that rewards you.

Goals give us a particular type of freedom

If a sailor looses the tiller, let the sails flap in the wind and the boat drift wherever the currents take it, it is not called freedom – it is called drifting. Freedom, here, means taking the helm and sailing toward the chosen destination.” - Matthieu Ricard

Once we know where we are going – we know how to get there, and it is in knowing how to get there that we give ourselves the freedom to do so. Projecting your thoughts forward doesn’t devalue your present, on the contrary, it opens your mind to how best you can revel in and wring out every last positive drop from your current circumstances, content in the knowledge that your next steps will be, not necessarily better (because that kind of attitude would devalue the life you have now), but bigger and brighter and certainly different.

So what does ‘ahead’ look like to you? And how will you get there?

Nobody has a crystal ball, but we can all see into our own futures if we like, and the magic in that is that we can see it by creating exactly how we want it to look. 

Meditative visualisations, I feel, are the best way to bring future goals to life, though I realise this can be extremely difficult for some people to do. Don’t take it too seriously; just think of it as a more focused and conscious daydream. Grab a warm drink, wrap a cosy scarf round your shoulders, and sit in a quiet place. Put yourself “on pause” with a few deep breaths, perhaps wiggling your shoulders to loosen any tension.

Close your eyes, and let your mind explore all the potential and possibility you can envisage along a chosen path. Let your mind follow whatever arises that feels most exciting. Use all your senses: what are the sounds, tastes, smells and feelings of your future? Not just the sights. When you reach some solid points of aspiration, e.g. swinging in a hammock in the Mediterranean, translate those into goals and write them down.

Put it on paper.

I realized that this vision... was the missing ingredient in my previous attempts at goal setting. Having a personal, present tense paragraph about my life in 10 years at the top of my goal sheet was the extra spark of inspiration and motivation that got me hooked on goal setting.

If visualisation isn’t a strong point for you, and you prefer getting crafty, make a vision board like this one. Build on this with a goal sheet that incorporates a present-tense paragraph of your future anchor.

Goals ahoy!

Think of goal visualisation not only as a faithful anchor, but as a lasso thrown out into the starry plain of the universe to grab the future you deserve. Then: start pulling.