That Creeping Feeling of Self doubt


From a childhoods innocent perspective, adulthood appeared so much simpler and free from worries or fears. The reality is so much more complex, as we become entangled in a web of responsibilities, expectations and worries.

Forging your own path, stepping into the unknown is not only daunting, but sometimes full-on terrifying! Change is inevitable, but even when it’s a choice it can introduce a pile of doubts and fears.

I’m embarking on a new adventure, which is very exciting, but equally scary. I will be right out of my comfort zone, pulling on skills that haven’t been utilised for years, dusting off the old brain cells and creaking those neurons back into life. I am so, so lucky that I even get the opportunity to do this, in a country that supports progression and education, with a family that is more than happy to support my dreams and goals. So what’s the problem???

Out there, lurking in the dark corners of my grey matter, is the big fat fear of FAILURE…with all its associated demons of self doubt. What if I don’t know any of the answers? What if everyone finds out I have no idea what I’m doing? What if my brain just does not have the capacity to work at the required level to succeed? (The list goes on…!).

Serendipitously, I have come across some podcasts this week covering just that subject…self-doubt, and the great news is that everyone faces it, unless they are a psychopath (excellent! I can cross that one off the list!). I would definitely recommend a listen, there are some great gems of wisdom contained within.

We’re all so individual that listening to the same words will bring out different things for everyone. The things that stood out to me, offering both comfort and a call to action, were the following:

  • Everyone experiences self-doubt – so in that sense it’s very normal.
  • It’s worth finding the root cause of self doubt and targeting that area.
  • How we speak to ourselves is hugely important – instead of focusing on what we can’t do, we could turn this around and tell ourselves about what we have done well…in essence be kinder to ourselves.
  • Self doubt will always be around, but it needs to be kept in its proper place.
  • Self belief needs to be the driving force to achieve hopes and dreams and combat fear.
  • Self doubt can be a good thing, as it makes us evaluate choices and weigh up their value and worth.
  • Don’t give voice to the demons…or fear of what others may think, because 1. we never actually know what other people are thinking and 2. Those that care about you most usually have your back.

So my plan is to put this into practice, alongside lots of deep breaths (without inducing an attack of fainting) and the mantra FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning (thank you Radio 2 for that beauty!).

Podcasts: Hashtag Authentic with Sara Tasker & Sas Petherick

Courage & Spice with Sas Petherick

 

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Getting out into nature in the city!

I absolutely love nature, countryside, flowers, fresh air etc etc. On our visits out, I am always drawn to the flowers, gardens and greenhouses. Even though we live in the countryside, as we were already going into the city we made a little detour to visit the Bristol Botanical Gardens. For just a small entry fee, it was such a treat, there was even an activity for the children! Which I wasn’t expecting at all! A little trail finding Bee facts and stamping flowers (with ink onto a piece of paper…not into the ground!?)….this kept them really engaged as they had to search them out.

The weather was forecast for a rainy day, but we lucked out! The weather man was wrong…hooray! We had some beautiful sunshine between the clouds. There was a wealth of information about the varieties of bees in the United Kingdom, where they nested and their habitat.

It was a quiet day, so plenty of space to run around and explore without causing a nuisance, with a huge variety of different themes and displays to enjoy. The Chinese medicine garden was amazing, seeing all of the different plants that are used for healing illnesses.

I loved the ferns, grasses and trees, the aromas were lovely and earthy, which always remind me of my nan’s garden and the same smells I experienced on our visits there throughout childhood and beyond.

The children became quite attached to a black cat, which followed us around the gardens for quite a while!! Pretending it was a black panther in the wild.

There was something beautiful to see around every corner, inspiration for anyone’s garden.

One of my absolute favourites were the greenhouses, so many different greens and exotic plants to explore. The girls discovered a Venus fly trap and had fun tickling the leaves until they closed.

This is definitely a place I could come back to again and again, as I’m sure it changes with each visit.

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X Marks the Spot


I was a little worried when Ben came back from his pre-op tests that the incision might actually be where the X was! Thankfully his forehead is still in tact!

The last few weeks, and those to come, have been a bit challenging due to health challenges; but number 1, it has made me realise how much I have to be thankful for: a loving family and friends – who have offered support and help, an amazing NHS service, apart from some blips – good health, sick pay – so Ben and I can take time to recover and of course Tesco home delivery!

The children have had to become a lot more hands on with jobs around the house; yesterday E said, whilst helming to prepare dinner, ‘this is really good as we’re learning about what it’s like to be a mummy’, which then later developed when asked to help clear the table ‘what!? I helped make dinner! I’m not having kids if you have to do all of this work!’……maybe some gratitude there on a different level? Meanwhile D has taken great delight in teasing Ben whilst he can’t see, her favourite past time!

My top takeaway tip from this week….put eye drops in eyes before the codeine kicks in, to avoid rolling around in fits of laughter (who knew eye drops could be so fun!).

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The Fine Art of Complaining 


The last few months have been very challenging at work. I took the job as it was a walk in, walk out type of job which incurred no childcare costs; a contrast to my previous teaching jobs which take up a lot of time and mind space outside of official working hours.

Although the work isn’t particularly challenging, the perks outweighed the negatives. But life can quickly spin around and suddenly the opposite was true.

I never really embraced change very well as a child and teenager, but through a variety of experiences it has become easier. Of course, I’m quite happy to grasp change when it brings all of the good things in life; I’m not so keen on the challenging, hard and unpleasant stuff. But here it all is in front of me, and honestly, it’s been really, really difficult.

My lovely friends and family have endured much venting and complaining and moaning, with A LOT of patience! Did it make it better? Possibly initially, but then I noticed it was just sending me spiralling downwards into the land of misery.

Serendipitously, I stumbled across an article in the beautiful Flow magazine entitled ‘The day I quit complaining ‘. Maybe this could shed some light into a way out of my negative funk?

It’s always good to discover that there’s other people all over the world who struggle with the same kinds of emotions. It was uplifting to read about different perspectives on how to deal with my current mindset. The top tips I took from the article were:

  • Be honest about your emotions and express them (this is not the same as complaining).
  • Rather than getting sucked into the emotion, try to focus on something else e.g. breathing/change perspective.
  • Think about what you need, what is at the root of the complaint?
  • You have a choice, you can DO something about your situation.
  • Focus on all that is good in your life.

I have felt a huge impact by talking through emotions, but not allowing that to lead to a mass of complaining. Changing my focus to other things that I enjoy in my life and shifting my perspective to the bigger picture. It’s baby steps, but if nothing else, I’ve learnt some more effective ways to deal with the bumps in the road and that can only be a positive thing right?

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A winter warming recipe

Roast Pumpkin Soup

Can you believe I still had a pumpkin left over from Halloween? We bought a pumpkin for each of our children to carve on the actual evening of Halloween, but then ran out of time to actually carry out the carving…and it never happened. For months they have been staring at me from the huge amount of space they have taken up on the kitchen worktop, so it was time to take a deep breath and dive into cutting, chopping and cooking them into something more than a kitchen ornament.

So here is an adapted roast pumpkin soup recipe, free from dairy and gluten.

Ingredients:

Splash of oil (I used coconut oil)

onion

pumpkin

1-1.5 litres vegetable stock

tin of coconut milk

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice the pumpkin into 8 segments, scooping out the seeds and pulp. Brush/spray with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 mins at 180 c, until soft.
  2. Dice the onion and cook on a low heat with a little oil for 10-15 mins.
  3. Scoop out the roasted pumpkin from its skin and add to the pan along with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Continue to cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins.
  5. Blend the soup to desired consistency, add more stock, salt & pepper if needed.

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How to make habits stick…

I thought this was a really interesting topic to investigate alongside the New Year, goal setting and the dreaded ‘resolutions’ that are made and often broken. What makes the difference between setting goals, or essentially trying to form new habits, and actually making them stick?

I used to be great at making and keeping goals and I really enjoy working towards something and feeling that real buzz of achievement. However, over recent years this has really tailed off and I have struggled to even find the motivation to really get my teeth into something and make any headway. I could blame the lack of sleep and general exhaustion associated with rearing a family of little ones, or moving house and locations every couple of years, but I possibly need to attend a few therapy sessions to discover the real reason behind it all. The long and the short of it is I’m stuck and need to embrace my theme for the year of being ‘brave’ and moving forward into pastures new and unknown.

I found this article intriguing, even though the title was quite horrifying ‘As soon as you wake up, put your feet on the floor’….what?! Are you serious? In the depths of winter, with the house in darkness, stick my feet out of bed and onto the floor, it almost feels like a step too far! Once I recovered from the fact that I might not be quite ready to take this one small step, I was already caught up in the gist of the article. Sometimes it only takes one small change to impact positively on other areas of our lives. This had potential! I could do this (with a little more information and guidance), which led me on to this book about forming and keeping habits (as mentioned in the article above). I’m still working my way through the book, but I have already picked up some great tips and knowledge to help me become more successful at building effective habits. The highlights so far:

  • understanding what ‘type’ of person I am (as this impacts on how to approach habit formation)
  • monitoring behaviour – providing a form of accountability
  • focusing on eating, sleeping, exercise & clutter, as these impact on everything else in our lives
  • making a clear timetable/plan/routine to work by each day

My first small step to work on is sleeping, this is one of my weak areas. After the children are in bed this is the time I get to choose what I would like to do (within reason) and often I put off going to bed so I can have more me-time. My goal for this week is to go to bed early and get up early and monitor the impact this has on other areas of my life. I have managed it 2 out of 2 nights so far so it’s going well! I’m looking forward to seeing some positive results.

Check out this video for some more simple ideas to successfully keeping up those New Year’s Resolutions, from life coach Holly Smith.

 

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Baking up a dream

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Sun streams through the window, marshmallow clouds gently flow through a faultless, blue sky as little hands gently and seamlessly press out symbols of love from the cushion soft dough. The sweet, warming aroma of ginger floats from the oven, with the promise of something both delicious and satisfying soon to be enjoyed by all.

The anticipation becomes too much and little morsels of dough sneak into little mouths. Only moments after the scorching heat leaves the tender treats, warm pockets of delight fall into eager mouths and tiny tummies are content….for now!?

Ok….maybe this isn’t exactly how it happened…but we can pretend can’t we?

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Have you tried a vegetable box scheme?

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I love my weekly delivery of organic fruit & veg (plus a lot of other grocery items to choose from, if I so desire). One of the changes I have made to our family’s diet this year is to try and eat as much organic food as possible – which fits into our budget!

I chose to try out the veg box delivery scheme offered by Riverford thought the recommendation of a friend who has used them for years. The quality of the food is great, with the bonus of sometimes receiving fruit or veg that I have never heard of, which always arrive with handy recipe cards!

In a recent veg box I received some tomatillos, which look like a green tomato in a husk. They originate from Mexico and are a key ingredient in many Mexican dishes, one of the most popular dishes they appear in is a salsa verde. This is the dish that I made with the tomatillos, using the recipe card that came with my veg box….I substituted the red onion with spring onions as that is what I already had to hand.

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How to:

  1. First I mixed the sliced onion with the juice and zest of 2 limes and a sprinkle of sugar and left it for 30 mins.
  2. In a food processor I whizzed the tomatillos with a red chilli.
  3. Then I mixed it in with the onion mixture, some minced garlic and chopped coriander.

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Simple, easy and delicious!

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To substitute or not to substitute?

There has been a transformation in my kitchen cupboards and the ingredients which they now hold. Once cutting out gluten and dairy in my diet, I ventured into a whole new world of ingredients, recipes and meals. I have read many articles and books which explore food intolerances and the possible causes and reactions in the body, which has opened my eyes to how the food I eat is processed by my body.

Some of the big changes to staple kitchen cupboard ingredients include:

coconut oil – replacing animal fats

Nut, coconut & rice milk  – instead of cow’s milk

Honey & maple syrup – rather than processed sugar

Organic fruit & vegetables via a vegetable box scheme

I have tried some gluten free products that can be found in the supermarkets, some of which are delicious, however there is a lot out there that I’d happily never eat again. Rather than trying to replace ingredients for gluten free items to try to recreate the same dishes I have always eaten (which can often be disappointing), I decided to find new recipes and meals which produce yummy results using ingredients and food items I can eat with any problem.

Some of my favourites…….

Dark chocolate & almond cookies, huevos rancheros, stir fry with rice noodles, spiralised vegetables, banana & oat cake, chocolate beetroot cake, roast squash & quinoa salad, frozen banana bites, courgetti & pesto.

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Having the stomach for it…..

 

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Did you know that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut?

I didn’t know this until recently, but it was something that made a lot of sense to me when I found out. I had been suffering from problems with my digestive system for a long time and it seriously affected my ability to fight off infections, resulting in both minor and more serious illnesses.

Unsurprisingly, I reached breaking point. It was completely miserable feeling ill all of the time, with the added responsibilities of family and work commitments. I didn’t have much luck with my visits to the GP for a diagnosis, so I began to investigate how to resolve these issues myself (I am not recommending this as a course of action for those suffering with severe digestive issues, this is just my own personal journey).

Due to some food intolerances already being prevalent within my family, I decided to restrict these from my diet. Positive results were apparent within a few weeks and continue to be so. I also take some excellent supplements, which have really boosted my immune system and energy levels.

I have learnt so much about food and nutrition throughout this experience…and I’m still learning! I am enjoying exploring this new way of eating and the positive impact, over time, this has had for my health and also my outlook on our family lifestyle.

Much more to come on this subject in future posts!

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