A floral cure for the lurgy

Flowers

What do you do to feel joyful when you’re suffering from suspected tonsillitis and talking gibberish in the throws of a fever? You look at your favourite pictures of flowers, like this one from Once Wed, of course.

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Why horoscopes really are rather important

Hello May

The first of May makes me think of girls plaiting pastel ribbons around a May pole and Morris dancers. Lots of Morris dancers. But more generally, the first of the month makes me think of horoscopes.

I’m not an astrological addict, but I do think there’s something in the characteristics of the different signs although, as a Virgo, I always feel we get a pretty boring write up. And whilst I’m not checking every day, I still get excited to see what might be in store for the month ahead here, here and here.

Talking to friends, we all said that we look for the good things heading our way from the stars and then ignore the rest. We focus on the ‘this month is a great month to get pregnant’ when we’ve been trying for ages or the ‘this month you’ll get an exciting career opportunity’ when we’ve been sending application upon application to no avail and the ‘this month you’ll meet someone tall, dark and handsome when, well, whenever.

We look only for the positive.

Which is a pretty fantastic way to look at life too.

It’s not cultivating a positive attitude at all costs; it’s important to feel and accept every emotion, no matter how dark.  But it’s about putting more emphasis and thought on the things we want to achieve. So the job opportunity or the handsome stranger become our self-fulfilling prophesy, precisely because we’re focused on the belief that they’re coming to us.

In this way we’re the writer of our own life horoscopes; we can choose what we focus our energy on.  And so if you were perusing your charts (headscarf optional) what would you plot for May? Choose, focus, act and see it happen.

Let me know how you get on.

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Don’t scrimp on the Vaseline and 3 other lessons from the Marathon

Last Sunday I ran for just under 4hrs 50minutes and finished the London Marathon. Aside for a few stops to hug friends and a frustratingly long queue for the portaloo at mile two, I tackled the streets of London and survived. In fact, I enjoyed it.

Mile 18 boost from my BFF

Getting a mile 18 boost from a favourite friend

I know that I’m supposed to share horror stories of bleeding nipples, lost toe-nails and hitting the infamous wall, but luckily all nipples and toes remain unscathed and, much to the disappointment of Alec who was looking forward to a good ‘wall story’, I managed to avoid any debilitating psychological lows. A surprise for us all

So, aside from being generous with the Vaseline, what else did I learn from doing the marathon? 

1. We choose how we feel

In the week before the marathon I spent a lot of time eating sweet potatoes and a lot of time thinking about how easy I’d find the race. I imagined myself running effortlessly, feeling strong and crossing the the finish line with a smile. And I did. Positive visualisation is commonplace in sports training and although we know it can work in general life too, we still dwell more on the ‘what-ifs’ than the ‘what we’d likes’. Let’s break those habits and start pre-paving how we want to feel.

2.We create our own experiences

As I prepared for the marathon, I heard a lot about the ‘wall’ and how I was bound to hit it. Everyone did. Around mile 19 I’d reach a point where I could no longer continue and I’d have to grapple with my demons and push through. It didn’t happen. I’m pretty sure this was down to my positive thinking and the fistfuls of free sweets I’d eaten along the route, but whatever. The important thing to remember is that other people’s “certainties” don’t have to be ours. Finding a job you love isn’t unrealistic, starting a business doesn’t have to be impossibly hard, finding true love at any age isn’t a pipe dream. We don’t have to be constrained by other people’s opinions.

3. We get the most support when we feel it

There’s no way I would have had such a positive marathon experience without the support of friends, family and the thousands of cheering strangers lining the streets of London. This is what got me round. Eschewing the power ballads on my Ipod and listening to the shouts, whoops and cheers instead, I took every last drop of energy and I sent it to where I needed it the most: my legs. The positivity powered me when my own reserves were low. It seems odd, but consciously choosing to absorb the compliments and messages of support we receive rather than just hearing them makes a difference. Next time you’re struggling, focus on where you need the support most and then visualise past or present words of encouragement going to that point.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone of you who entered the joyful raffle and sponsored me or sent me a god luck message. Every single message spurred me on when I needed it; I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m pleased to announce that the winner of the extra special joyful care package is Cara. Thank you.

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