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Personal Growth

01/07/22

Embracing the simplicity of being human

So, this month sees the celebration of Simplicity Day. Theirs seems to be a day for everything these days but this is one that really struck a chord with me.

Since the lockdown when everything was much simpler, life has sped up. I don’t know about you but it almost feels like it is back to how it was pre pandemic. It’s hard to remember what it was like all those months ago when we had to go so slow and we actually had time to stop smell the roses as they say.

 

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31/05/22

Finding Celebration in the Every Day

As we look forward to the Jubilee celebrations this weekend, I began to think just how wonderful the Queen is for her age and wouldn’t it be wonderful to have her round for a cup of tea and a chat!

I believe listening to our elders is an opportunity to learn; all the wisdom, the skills and the stories that get passed on, that’s learning like it used to be, where knowledge was passed from generation to generation.

I really do enjoy the company of elders and one in particular. Let me introduce you to my 80 year old, widowed neighbour, Bryan.

bryan-and-lauraHe was married for 52 years and I only really started talking to Bryan when I became single a few years after his wife died.

We used to say “hello” and the usual pleasantries, then one day we chatted a bit longer over the wall between us. To be honest I was probably just putting off going into the house to face the squealing children, but it sparked a little connection between us.

Anyway, the little “hellos” continued and when December arrived I had some spare advent calendars which I gave to Bryan to give to the children.

 

Every day after school they would want to go and see Bryan, have a chat and most importantly have a chocolate. The children would muck about, interested in all or Bryan’s trinkets, and Bryan and I would have a bit of a natter about nothing and everything.

As the winter progressed we’d come back after school, cold from the park and I’d say to the children “go and see Bryan and get warm” (he always has his heating on full blast). I’d then fall into my house, laden with bags and buggy, light the fire, get the pasta on and I’d come back with a cup of tea and the timer. When the timer for supper went we said our goodbyes and went home.

By the time we had trotted back, the children had thawed out, Bryan had had has some cheerful company, our supper would be ready and our fire would be roaring.

Needless to say, we as a family now spend a lot of time with Bryan.

When I feel challenged by modern day life he brings me down a peg or two. I start complaining about the size of my house with the three children, he politely reminds me how he and his wife raised their four children (one of whom died in a car crash at 19) in a house the same size as mine with only a back yard in which they loved to play.

He talks of his family trips to the coast; taking his work van and putting their sofa in the back for his children to sit on! How they would meet other families and have marvellous feasts on the beach; Bryn always making the best fried onions of course! He recounts these tales time and time again. I don’t mind listening, as I know it brings him joy to reminisce about the past.

He doesn’t talk about the flash car he drove or the amount of money he earned. He talks of all the happy times; the mischievous experiences he had in his youth with friends, the the dinners he loved to cook for his family, the three jobs he worked to pay his way, the holidays he took with his wife later in life to countries like Greece and Turkey which were so exotic to him. I wonder as you enter the winter of your life, when your future looks short and unknown, do you begin to simply look back to the life that you have lived? One hopes that you are one of the lucky ones to look back and smile.

I take such comfort from Bryans company.

I think it is the fact that he is no longer proving, or performing, or perfecting his life like most of us our today. He has suffered great sadness in his life but he lives to tell the tale and even though his life appears very small now, he struggles to walk far and doesn’t leave the house often, he has contentment and peace in his life.

How I wish I could feel that.

I wonder does that contentment only come with age or can we learn it young? He has no idea how much he gives me by simply being there, day in day out, without judgement and always a smile. My grandparents are long gone, so to have Bryan is such a joy. The stability I feel of knowing that he’s looking out for me and my children is priceless. He gives the gift of time. I ask is there a greater gift?

Often it takes a celebration like this weekend to make time in our busy lives to get together with family and friends. High days can encourage us to take stock and think about what’s important, but should it really take the queen being on the thrown for 70 years to make us prioritise experiences with family, friends, or even neighbours?

I say let’s not wait till we are 80 to realise that these simple every day interactions and experiences are what make up our lives, it’s not the standing at the alter or holding your baby for the first time, they are just big events that get thrown in along the way, it’s the everyday “hello” to neighbours that makes the world go round. So let’s see if we can find a little jubilee celebration in every day and start saying “hello”.


 

Top 5 Spots for Wild Swimming in Wales

wild-swimming-north-wales

It wasn’t until I started cold water swimming in April 2014 that I began to realise how lucky I was to live in a part of the world that had so many amazing wild swimming locations.

Lakes, coast, and waterfalls, you name it – north Wales has it.

So, whether you love the freedom of the salty open seas or the clear waters of lakes with majestic mountain backdrops, you’ll find one you love amongst my favourite wild swimming locations.

 

Laura’s top five wild swimming spots in Wales

5. Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia

Llyn-Idwal-Snowdonia

In the oldest National Nature Reserve in Wales, you will find a bowl-shaped hollow filled with crystal clear waters.

The walk up and around is a three mile loop, but once you have climbed the stepped path up, you will not be disappointed.

The site is world famous for its rock formations and its rare and fragile plant life, so please do take care and leave nothing but your footprints and take nothing but photographs.

Top tip: All year round the water is freezing.

 

4. Porth Ceriad, Llyn Peninsula

porth-ceriad-llyn-peninsula
A stunning often deserted beach down a rocky cliff face.

As you come over the headland you see the expanse of beach before you, often waves rolling in when the wind is onshore.

Steep steps lead you down to the beach, enjoy a walk along then take a dip.

There are no facilities here.

Top tip: First thing in the morning it is often deserted.

 

3. Newborough Beach, Anglesey

newborough-beach-anglesey

Beautiful stretch of beach across the west coast of Anglesey, looking across to Snowdonia, and backed by dunes and woodland. Plenty of parking,

If you go when the tide is out, you can walk along the beach to Llanddwyn Island, walk as far as the lighthouse and discover the coves and hidden beaches.

Our guests love it here and are blown away by the panoramic views

Top tip: Walk out to the lighthouse to discover the coves and hidden beaches.

 

2. Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia

llyn-padarn-snowdonia

Nestled beneath Mount Snowdon, it is one of the most photographed lakes in Snowdonia.

There are many ways to enter the cool waters of Padarn, but take care as the slate rocks can be quite sharp.

The lagoons offer a sheltered stretch of water for beginners, and on the far side from the lagoons you can walk to large rocks that jut out into the lake, and jump in off them. The water is so clear you see all the rocks and slate beneath.

The length of the lake is 3.2km, a great challenge might be to swim the length or take the mini train to one end and swim back.

Top tip: Avoid bank holidays, it gets very busy.

 

1. Plas Cadnant, Anglesey

plas-cadnant-waterfall

Walk down through the hidden gardens of Plas Cadnant, listen for the water and follow the sound.

Amongst the ancient trees you will see a beautiful waterfall flowing into a plunge pool. It’s big enough to do laps should you wish or lie back and float with the afternoon sun beaming down through the trees on your face.

Top tip: Step across the red jasper rocks and plunge in!

30/05/22

Top 5 Spots for Wild Swimming in Wales

wild-swimming-north-wales

It wasn’t until I started cold water swimming in April 2014 that I began to realise how lucky I was to live in a part of the world that had so many amazing wild swimming locations.

Lakes, coast, and waterfalls, you name it – north Wales has it.

So, whether you love the freedom of the salty open seas or the clear waters of lakes with majestic mountain backdrops, you’ll find one you love amongst my favourite wild swimming locations.

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23/03/22

From the eyes of a mother: Yoga, exercise and wellness

Zestlife

All I ever wanted was to be a mother. I was 34 when I had my first child and now I have three beautiful children, Freddie, Beatrice and Florence. Raising them and staying sane is the hardest thing I have ever done and will probably ever do in my life.

To be honest, up until I had children all I ever really thought about was myself. I would spend hours a day practising yoga, gosh it was so indulgent! I would clean and hoover before my practice, as the right environment had to be created, incense, music etc. Oh, how times have changed, as I roll out my mat brushing aside the crisps and crumbs from beneath it! But during those years I remember going to an Ashtanga yoga workshop, learning about the discipline of a daily practice.

In Ashtanga yoga, you are meant to practise two hours a day six days a week! I questioned this with regards to when you have children and those 6 am yoga slots are just not available anymore. The teacher’s response was along the lines of “As long as the intention is there that’s all that matters. It’s when you stop rolling out the mat that you have a problem.” He said “You roll out the mat, wherever you are and your practice might be standing at the top of the mat taking five deep breaths, or you might just be getting into your flow and you are needed elsewhere to deal with demands of your children. But no matter how long or how deeply you practise the intention is there”. I have thought about this a lot over the last six years and take great comfort from this. (more…)

22/02/21

Why It’s Alright To Have Struggles

butterflyZestlifeWhy its ok to have struggles in life…..

I went to another inspiring talk with John Fleet up yesterday. The topic was detachment. I don’t know how we got onto it but he re told a story about  a beautiful butterfly and it went like this….

There was a man watching a delicate butterfly trying to emerge from its  chrysalis. It looked as if the butterfly was struggling so the man, being the kind person he was, tried to help the butterfly by cutting the chrysalis open. The butterfly did eventually emerge but with swollen wings filled with water. For the butterfly to emerge perfectly formed it needed the squeezing and the struggle as it left the tiny hole of the chrysalis to drain all the fluid from its wings. Without the squeezing the butterfly dies.

Sometimes in life when we are feeling the squeeze and the strain it’s a reminder for us that struggles and effort are needed for us to grow. It’s almost as if the struggling squeezes all the negativity out of us ready for new, brighter opportunities. So the next time you are feeling the strain, stick with it and know that beautiful more peaceful times will soon emerge.

21/02/14

Open Hearted through Yoganosis

zoeypicZestlifeYoganosis. Why bring yoga and hypnotherapy together?

Well, firstly they are the greatest tools that I have in my kit bag for life. They have seen me through the many trials and tribulations that life has thrown at me. They have been with me for over ten years now and I can safely say that I don’t think I would be here today with out them. I had my first hypnotherapy aged 21 at my peak of “shitness”. Post aneroxia and in the depths of bulimia and depression. Unable to get out of bed, let alone be social, hold down a job, or do any of the crazy things 21 year olds are supposed to do.

Putting yoga and hypnotherpay together,  I know what physical yoga postures we need to do to get to an openhearted, free place, but it got me thinking as to what it truly means to feel open hearted on an emotional level. (more…)

27/12/13

14 tips to help you skip into 2014

Laura’s Learnings

Things I have learnt this year navigating my way through the fields of life.

1479214_10151766794946436_238476893_nZestlife1.  Too much of a good thing is wonderful.  So much of the time we are thinking. We think too much, we judge, analyze, dither and ponder. Yoga teaches us to get out of our thinking heads and encourages us to get into our feeling hearts.  Often we don’t pursue life experiences and relationships, even though they are great, for fear of what might happen, pain and failure. It’s the negative chitta chatta that prevents us from really grabbing life and living fully. But my experience is, if we simply get out of our crazy thinking heads and get into our bodies, we stand a much better chance of flowing with the greatness of life. When things feel good, we are then able to run with them. Stop dithering and analyzing and simply go with all the good things that come your way.

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