Monday, 26 September 2016

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I happened upon this by accident wandering through the TC;  Waterstones had a display stand by the door, I picked it up thinking 'Gosh that looks like a miserable read'. Somebody saw me eyeing it up and told me it was a must read, that it was a uplifting read about this chap coming through depression told with honest humour. 

I always take a personal in person recommendation; I haven't got the heart to trample on their enthusiasm.  Every decent book I've ever read I've pushed hard on all my friends!  One of the reasons I started my book club, was so I could lord it over my friends and loved ones with my reading list!  

From the off, reading this book, you completely 100% engage with the depression and panic of Matt Haig.  It weighs heavy on him, it's horrible and (worryingly) it came out of nowhere.  He was young, in a decent relationship, living it up in Ibiza, seemingly having the time of his life.  He doesn't report a troubled childhood, abuse, bullying.  Nothing of note, that you could link to this breakdown of his mental health. The other compelling thing about Matt's story, is his desire and will to get well.  He pushes hard, challenges his comfort zones.  Brilliantly he does get well (phew!).  

I've touched on it here on my blog, not massively, for a blogger, I'm private about some things.  In recent years, I have had problems with anxiety, mostly health anxiety.  It's much more than being a bit worried about my health, I have episodes of real panic where I truly believe I have some dreadful disease and that I might not make it to my holidays/Christmas/the weekend!  This panic is real and it's debilitating, having real inner turmoil 'Who will bath the kids if I'm not around' (Mr C has reassured me in the case of my demise he will shower/bathe the kids, but wouldn't commit to more than once fortnightly!). 

Read this book, if you've ever suffered depression, read this book if you know somebody suffering depression or panic/anxiety disorders.  Read this book simply for info.  Any person who reads this will take something away with them.  I've read this twice through, here are a few things that jumped out for me: 

  • If you are scared when there is nothing to be scared of your brain makes things up (p. 91). This would explain all my aches and pains that I internalise as symptoms of ill health. 
  • For anxiety, there aren't any sure fire cures to help calm or settle you. However, the simple practice of 'slowing down' will stop it in it's tracks (p. 193).  It's hard for your brain to run away with itself if you're sitting calmly breathing in (counting to five, making your tum inflate) and out (counting slowly to five).   This is not easy and it's a real skill but once mastered you can stop an episode in it's track before your brain is flooded into panic mode. 
  • Matt gives a list of hints to live well (p. 238), number 15 fits in well with my own personal Christian outlook.  BE KIND  Guessing he means to yourself as well as others.
  • Matt is a right book worm, his reading list is impressive, he is guilty of slipping in the odd book recommendation, he sold me Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips (a collection of short stories) (p, 138). 

This book is not preachy or judging, it's an account of what works for one person.  It helped me understand my own mental health and made me realise that mostly it does get better, there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. 

xx Emma-Lou 

Monday, 12 September 2016

doTERRA - Wellness Advocates - Serenity Storm - A review

Lovely Steph Ledigo (@LedigoPR) asked me along to a launch event last week for Serenity Storm Essentials (@Serenity_Storm_).  It was more like a mini workshop looking into essential oils and doTERRA.  Now as it goes I know a bit about essential oils.  My MIL swears by them, and has over the years made me up potions.  These were for driving test angst (actually that isn't a good advert for them, as it took me five goes to pass!) and other emotional type of worries.  In pregnancy, she cooked me up a remedy for hey fever and that worked as well as any antihistamine I ever took. In fact, I've never had hey fever since!  I wonder if the medicated stuff sort of suppressed my natural repellent to pollen and having a break taking alternative medicines helped build natural defences.  Anyhow, I don't claim any know how, or preach on. 

I arrived late (bloody M60) to Ashton's Village Hotel, so crept into a talk that had already started. About 8 seconds in, the only thing I could feel was the 100 mile an hour enthusiasm of Emma Pollitt!  She truly believes in her company, in essential oils, in alternative medicines, in doTERRA.  She is funny, personable and at times very moving in telling her doTERRA story.  I won't retell her story, she'd happily share it with you, without a doubt, it's changed her life and she wants to share it. It's of her own family experience of overcoming very physical health problems, using essential oils to tackle debilitating symptoms, and it is amazing.  But it's not my story and I'd feel uncomfortable talking about that side of alternative medicine.  What is very lovely about Emma, she does one million percent believe in this and she can back it all up with research paper after research paper (the ultimate PubMed Queen).  But her message is clear, she wants you yourself to research it, she doesn't want you to just take her word for it, she wants you to go away, have a think, get online and research alternatives to modern medicine.

From a therapeutic point, a lot can be said for the healing properties of essential oils. Anxiety, stress, depression, nervousness, problems with sleep, focus and concentration, hormonal tension, all these often debilitating stresses can make life pretty tough. essential oils CAN and DO help with these emotional problems, they bring about an inner calmness that allows natural healing to come into play.  I have a huge belief in essential oils for mood enhancement.

I know this from MIL, the oils you might buy on a market or Holland and Barrett, I'm not sure what they contain, but it's not a lot of essential oil, probably just enough to make them smell nice!  I always knew that you had to pay for decent products. doTERRA products aren't cheap (you can get them massively discounted if you sign up for wholesale membership).  But at the same time, they make massive claims that they will increase your wellness and improve your life, and honestly they can back up those claims.  

doTERRA can be a way of life, delving right into a toxic free existence, you could even give up using Fairly liquid, their range is full of alternatives. Or it could be the odd tweak to modern living, a little Oil every now and then to help with a headache, or a stressful life event.  

I'm a nervous driver, I drove this weekend to Nottingham, it's tricky on that Snake Pass! Before leaving, I used some doTERRA peppermint oil, the tiniest amount rubbed onto my wrists (a bottle would last forever), it defo calmed and focused me.  I used it again today at the start of my working day, again, I felt ready to make a good start. Plus it smells nice, and the act of putting it on creates a moment of mindfulness. 

I don't know how I'll continue with doTERRA,  but I look forward to researching and being more mindful of what's out there.  Lavender for sleep, and I wonder if they do anything for hangover.... the weekend in Notts is catching me up! 

xx Emma-Lou 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

#BadMa Back to School Guide

New academic year, new start, September it is, getting organised, making promises of never forgetting a permission slip, making a donation in time to the PTA, not having any late tickets.  Spending evenings packing school bags neatly by the door.... feeling smug as you pass the school office, they haven't got one on you, you're ahead with the milk money 

Not this year.... 

Thing is you can't keep it up, it's not real life, come October things begin to slip, the pleats aren't as sharp, the school bags left in the car overnight, ham sandwiches creep back in over couscous salad, half the lids missing from your Tupperware! 

Feelings of failure creeps in, #BadMa syndrome... screaming at your children "So help me God, if you haven't got your shoes on in 30 seconds....".

So yes, a new leaf being turned, but not as you think.  I'm starting September as I finished in July - badly organised!  The thing is, in my frantic late way, I keep it together (mostly), the children arrive everyday to school, they may have incorrect kit, with the application form for crafternoon a smidge after the deadline, but who cares, nobody is judging me.  Well I suspect the school secretary is, but I can sweet talk her, perhaps I should buy her a box of Roses at Christmas? 

I'm going to give myself a break, and drink wine. 

xx Emma-Lou 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

BFG the bestest Film EVER

I got a freebie nectarcard swap for Vue cinema tickets, two tickets for 1000 points. I didn't notice these points climbing up with my shopping, so it did feel like a freebie. The cost of going to the cinema is pricey I think.  A real dear do for a family of four, it rings up at nearly forty dabs.  Anyhow, I didn't hand over any cash this time, so I'll get off my soap box. 

Cinema Pals 

Pick a Mix... now to re-mortgage the house...

The BFG is brilliant, one of the best adaptations of a children's book to make it to the big screen.  Wow, is all I can say, when he reached into grab Sophie with his giant hand, the whole cinema gasped!  I'd say don't stream this film, to appreciate all the effects, it has to be seen at the cinema!  

With every wave of his massive ears, I loved BFG more, his character and personality 100% nailed.   Sophie with her bossy strut, but lonely demeanour also portrayed as I saw her in the book. 

Worth noting, Lizzy hasn't read this one by Roald Dahl, I think I bigged it up too much when she was a smidge young for it, and turned her off!  Her not having read it, didn't matter a jot though, she loved it too. 

Lizzy's best bit:  When the Queen's corgi dogs had green windy farts (#obvs, she's ten!)

Best kids film of the year 5 massive stars! 

xx Emma-Lou

Wednesday, 27 July 2016


Mr C. took the reigns a bit this week.... bus rides, barbers, happy meals and Stan. Fantastic picture taken at the Manchester Museum.  

On a previous visit with Willow; he was most disappointed. I'd talked Stan the dinosaur up a bit.  He was only expecting an alive dinosaur, he goes "This dinosaur is dead", err well yeah... 

xx Emma-Lou 

Guest Post: On Nana's Watch, Roll up to Dunham by Daughter-Child

My trip to Dunham Massey

Guest writer: Lizzy C (Lizzy Lou look at you!)

Mum asked me to write a blog post about my trip out with Nana. Willow and I went out to to Dunham Massey, where they had a circus activity day going on, (Roll up to Dunham!). There were loads of things going on, trapeze, juggling, poster making, ukulele lessons, hobby horse making and lots more. On some activities there were people showing you what to do and on others there wasn’t. The first thing we did was make a hobby horse, this was supposed to be an activity for Willow to do but I ended up doing it for him. You had to decorate your horse head and then staple it, grab two sticks, tie them together in a cross and place your head onto the sticks. I also did trapeze, you had to hang upside down, lean backwards with one hand, and then dismount. Overall, it was a really fun day out and we had a really delicious lunch, and next time we are promised ice cream!

Neigh neigh

Lizzy xx

Info for Dunham Massey

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Beach Life.... Crosby

First trip out over the holidays...  Crosby. 

We'd been recently to stay in our mates caravan near Blackpool; and went to Lytham for the afternoon, it wasn't really beach weather.  There was a high wind, nothing worse than sand in your ice cream.  So I'd promised on the next sunny day we'd head to the nearest beach from ours.  I don't know if there's a closer beach to our house in Chorlton?  But Crosby seemed near enough. 

We loaded up the car with a picnic, bucket and spade, towels and all the gear.  To be honest I wasn't expecting much, perhaps a quick hour, eat our butties, collect a few shells, ice cream then home.  But we were there hours, it was lovely.  

Off they go, I squeezed in a little read in peace 

I was only a bit pleased with myself, in the past, I've tried and failed to fly many kites, I just couldn't do it, haven't got the knack.  But in the quest of giving the kids idyllic childhood memories (must get a Westie puppy...), I was determined to get one up. There's a cute little toy shop these days in Chorlton, Cat Fish, they have a range of cheap toys, old fashioned style, you're not going to find The Legend of Zelda, but you can pick up lovely looking board games and little toys for around a tenner. My kite from there is lovely, a real sturdy proper kite.  Anyhow I got only got the kite to fly, it was brill (especially as mizzo Mr. C said it'd never fly, in your face!), honestly the best £4.99 I've spent in a while.  This is mean, and I'm ashamed to say, I saw a dad trying desperately to get his little girls butterfly kite up, it wasn't for going up, the little girl looked a bit crestfallen, and the dad was excusing his rubbish kite prowess "Not enough wind today princess"... Pah my kite sailed high in the sky.... I was only a bit smug... 

Look at my kite go, the kids in the distance, they gave up asking for a go!

Another amazing feat, Willow who does not like sand or taking his socks off, had a good old paddle, both kids walked right out to sea, over rock pools, we saw fish and a mean looking jelly fish.  



In my quest for saving pennies on days out, this rolled in on budget, we only spent the cost of a couple of ice creams.  Everything else we took with us. 

I always pack a good picnic, mini wine and small beer for mum and dad 

Ashamedly, the weather was warm and bright, both kids factor 50'd up.  Me, not so much... sunburnt, a lovely red chest area, "But it didn't feel that warm".  

On the right day, Crosby beach is perfect. 

Could be the Maldives.... 
xx Emma-Lou