What is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness?

In a bid to balance how busy life has been, I have felt the need to incorporate some mindfulness into proceedings. As usual the internet has come up trumps and I have found some brilliant resources, so I thought I’d share them with you. Please forgive me if this is a bit out-there for you, but if you are on my wavelength with this I would love to hear your thoughts.

So, what is mindfulness? Awareness of the present. It encourages us to  simply take time to recognise the world around us as well as our thoughts and feelings. It is savouring life in the now but also acts as a way of  helping us to achieve our goals.

We often live for the future, where we want to be and or how “things would be so much better if . . .’. Mindfulness seeks to redress this and fits so perfectly into my mantra of ‘enjoying the journey’.

Here are my top picks of the internet to bring some mindfulness into your life…

1) TINY BUDDHA

A collation of articles from various contributors quotes, ‘reflecting on simple wisdom we can apply to our complex lives’.

2) ZEN HABITS

Zen Habits is about ‘finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives’ and is thoughtfully written by Leo Babuta.

3) TuT UNIVERSE

My favourite!!! Sign up to receive these beautifully motivating and inspiring notes of daily goodness delivered straight to your inbox.

4) ELEPHANT JOURNAL

Achieving the good life through mindfulness, yoga, mediation, wellness, family and food. Fun articles from a variety of contributors.

If you decide to check these out, if you already visit these sites or practice mindfulness, share your experiences in the comments below.

‘Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Catching up with Don’t Buy Her Flowers

Belles in Business 3

I hope you are enjoying reading the Belles in Business series as much as I am enjoying writing about it.

I am super excited to have the lovely Steph from Don’t Buy Her Flowers gracing these pages. Having met at one of the awesome Mothers Meetings, a mere week after she launched her business, her friendly nature and wonderful energy made me feel like I’d known her forever. Her business is the most genius idea. Read on to find out all about it.

 

HI STEPH. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?

Me B&WI’m 34, married to Doug and we have two children – Buster (4) and Mabel (2). I’ve been described as having ‘infectious enthusiasm’ which I think is a good thing…I wish I had the brazen confidence I had as a kid. My mum used to say ‘open a fridge door and she’ll start performing’ (due to the light, not the lure of food). That said, I met up with some friends recently and a photo of me dancing on a table emerged after, so perhaps I’m not so different. I blame the Prosecco.
I’m a massive believer in Sisterhood and I write a blog called Sisterhood (and all that). The more we’re honest about how we feel – about relationships and careers and motherhood – the better chance we have of being able to laugh at some of the ridiculous situations and emotions we go through and feel a lot less lonely. I am very lucky to have some amazing, supportive and hilarious women in my life. I have five siblings and always thought I’d have at least four children, but turns out having babies can be quite hard – on your body, your relationships and your mental state, so we’ll see!

WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START DON’T BUY HER FLOWERS? TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

I started the business in November 2014, selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums that offer some TLC because frankly they deserve it. The aim of the packages is to encourage Mum to take 10 minutes to herself or with her partner. The most popular package is the Care Package, which contains tea, flapjack, truffles, a magazine and a scarf. We teamed up with COOK food so their vouchers can be added to any of our packages, so you can give new parents good food they don’t have to prepare delivered to their door.

When I had my babies I was given lots of flowers – kind friends and family wanted to send congratulations and flowers are the go-to gift. They were lovely, but I had more than I knew what to do with (or than I had vases for) and in hindsight, giving someone another thing to care for when they’re putting more love and energy in to something than they’ve ever done before is a bit crackers. I since did some research and 96% of new mums are given flowers, most more than 3 bunches. The idea of Don’t Buy Her Flowers felt really strong and it also came at a time when I was finding the return to work and commute in to London a juggle. I wanted to find a way of doing something I am really passionate about that would also give me flexibility to work around the kids and it all started to fit together.

DBHF family

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DON’T BUY HER FLOWERS?

The main inspiration probably came from how tough I found those first months after having a baby; it was totally unexpected. I’m reasonably bright, I had a good husband, I’d held some babies before…what could be so hard? I think most women find themselves in a fog for a while. No-one finds it easy but there’s often a perception that everyone else is finding it easier than you when you’re ‘in’ it. We re-emerge, but you don’t know that at the time and it can feel quite lonely. When friends had babies I sent them little packages of stuff for them and left food on their doorstep if they lived nearby and they all sent the loveliest thank you messages, overwhelmed that someone had thought of them. I suppose in someone sending something that is thoughtful and gives some TLC rather than just a nice gift it communicates that they know it’s tough, which is really powerful. The idea developed from there.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM HAVING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

DBHF Me 1st week holding boxes15novThe biggest learning that I wasn’t expecting is that the mental side of running a business is the most challenging. Forget late nights and the logistics of managing a business – if you’ve worked in pressured environments and you’ve managed people and projects, you’ve done all that. Staying cool, not worrying about the next piece of coverage or sale and never doubting what you’re doing takes a strong nerve and you need to have complete belief in what you’re doing because although you’re not supposed to take anything in business personally, it feels very personal.

 

I LOVE HEARING STORIES OF WOMEN BALANCING BUSINESS WITH MOTHERHOOD. HOW DO YOU DO IT AND WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR ASPIRING BUSINESS WOMEN?

Oh god – it’s still so new and I largely feel like I’m frantically leaping from one thing to another, compiling an endless to-do list. I definitely haven’t got it ‘cracked’! I think a top tip would be to be kind to yourself. Something’s got to give because starting a business is all-consuming. You won’t be able to do everything you did before and run a business, so maybe the house will look a bit less tidy, or you get a cleaner, or your partner steps in to do more, or all of the above! And THEN you need to not beat yourself up about any of that. Also, having superb family, friends and a partner that remind you of all this when you feel like you’re sinking is a huge help.

WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS?

I’ve got so many ideas about where it could go and one of the toughest things I’m finding at the moment is that I didn’t start Don’t Buy Her Flowers to be completely absent from family life and there’s only so much I can do. I have to remind myself that I only have childcare for three days so for this period – while they’re young – I’ve got to remember that I set the pace. My aim is to have flexibility, to be able to do the pick up when they go to school, to do something I’m passionate about and use my brain and all the things I’ve learned through my career prior to now. It’s a long-term plan. Sometimes when you hear success stories from other people you think ‘oh I need to work harder, do more’ but chances are, those people have worked for years before they’ve reached the success levels you’re seeing. And if I’m not enjoying it, I may as well be working for someone else and just taking a nice salary.

DBHF collage3

DESCRIBE WHAT A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE LOOKS LIKE?

On a work day, everyone is up anytime from 6am (sadly) and I tussle the kids to nursery, go to the gym (I had a prolapsed disc in the summer so this is something I can’t skip as I’m a bit screwed if I’m bed-ridden!) and then spend most of the day in the office, formerly known as our spare room. I pack up orders first, and the rest of the day is a juggle of checking and ordering stock, paying invoices, promoting the business and looking for marketing opportunities, and interviews like this! The day flies and there’s always a to-do list for the next day. I work most evenings to stay on top of orders and enquiries – it’s not something you can leave for a few days, especially as a new business, but I am working on how I stay focused on the non-work days to get the essentials done but not lose hours in front of the laptop. It’s a steep learning curve, but I already know I wouldn’t want it any other way.

DBHF package

I love this…Steph saw a gap in the market from her own experiences and has managed to turn it into a fully fledged business.

Anyone who knows me in real life and is expecting, sorry to spoil the surprise but you will be receiving one of these when bubba arrives! You can also keep up with Steph on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and of course her hilariously honest blog ‘Sisterhood and all that‘.

How homeopathy helped me to get pregnant

Journey to Motherhood graphic

I have mentioned that my journey to becoming a mother wasn’t an easy one and even wrote a post about it during Baby Loss Awareness Week.

I have recently shared the other part of the story of how I used homeopathy to help me get pregnant with the Daily Mail, I know, of all places! But the opportunity arose and it is a subject that I am passionate about. If one woman reads it and decides to at least try an alternative therapy before going down the route of more medicalised procedures, then it would have been worth it. I’m not sure when/if they will run the article but what the hell it’s about time I shared the story on MY blog!

MY STORY

After trying to conceive for a year, I was driving myself into a mild frenzy with many a day spent in tears (especially when Auntie Flo arrived) and feelings of sadness and anxiety rearing its head far too often. So as a believer in alternative therapies, it certainly was not a difficult decision to make when a friend suggested I try homeopathy.

On her recommendation I visited Cassie from Absolute Homeopathy. The initial consultation started with an in-depth 90 minute conversation where we discussed EVERYTHING.

With it being holistic you really need to be happy to discuss personal stuff, from how many times you have sex per week, to how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically, your menstrual cycle and the consistency of your CM (cervical mucus – for those of you who don’t know. It is the holy grail of fertility planning, seriously Google it).

Although I appreciate traditional medicine, I do love the holistic nature of alternative therapies vs the simple cause and effect approach. These sessions became a kind of therapy for me. Where I had to hold it together in every other part of my life, this was a sanctuary where I could completely let my guard down.

Cassie helped me to understand the rhythm of my cycle. I naively thought that you could get pregnant at anytime, so it was an education for me to learn that in fact there is a small fertility window each month, so maximising this time is super important. Also diet and stress play a part too. Believe me, from checking my basal temperature every morning right through to the ovulation sticks; when you are ‘actively’ trying for a baby, it can get all very scientific.

We would meet every 6 weeks or so to catch-up on how things were going and to discuss my last cycle. I would then be prescribed homeopathic remedies to help get the balance just right and my body in tip-top fertility shape.

I envied those ladies who decided they wanted a baby and were able to make it happen, just like that. And for those who say just sit back and relax and ‘don’t try’, well I tried that and it didn’t work.

WHAT HELPED ME:

Homeopathy

Mediation

Yoga (especially Bikram yoga, I nickname it fertility yoga)

Healthy living which included a GI diet

Cycle charting (incl ovulation sticks, basal temperature)

An app such as Fertility Friend to help with the cycle charting 

Homeopathy definitely helped to balance my system. Having been on the pill from the age of 17 desperately trying not to get pregnant, I suddenly found myself off the pill and desperately trying to fall pregnant. A weird irony that so many us experience.

I managed to fall pregnant 3 months after starting homeopathy and again 2 months later, both of which sadly ended in miscarriage. The 3rd pregnancy a few months later was thankfully ok and I truly believe that the remedies I took in the early stages is the reason we now have the most wonderfully, amazing little girl!

I’m not saying that homeopathy is a miracle cure but it worked for me and is at least worth a shot before trying more invasive forms of fertility treatment.

I know trying to conceive can be a f*****g difficult time. If you have any questions about my story or my experience with homeopathy please don’t hesitate to reach out via the comments below, email or otherwise.

Love & Light

Catching up with beeniebuds&co

Belles in Business

Welcome to the next Belles in Business. This time we are focussing on kid’s fashion; it’s a massive growth area economically so it is great to get an insider’s view of the market. Look out for some top tips on running an online shop too!

 

BeenieBuds&CoTELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?

I’m Dee, a young thirty something, mama, wife, business owner of beeniebuds&co and not forgetting a passionate Graphic Designer.
We have two little beeniebuds aged 5 years and 8 months. Everyone that knows me would say I’m a busy body! Yes, that pretty much describes me. I love photography and every opportunity I get is a photo moment of the kids or everyday life.

WHEN DID YOU START beeniebuds&co? TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

It all started with a blog 4 years ago. I was expecting my first child and researching all the fab stuff I could purchase. I loved perusing the shops so much that I felt the need to share it with someone (other than my husband). I noticed the gift and clothing market for kids seemed limited. Everything was covered with cartoon characters and colours were pink or blue. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to start something new and fresh.

 WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND beeniebuds&co?

The blog was going so well that it was nominated for a few awards so we decided to open an online kids store. The name comes from my late Grandmother who used to call my baby brother (at the time) little beeniebud because he was so small. My husband and I thought it would be the perfect branding to help us standout from the rest of the children’s clothing market. We stock up-and-coming independent unisex clothing and toy brands.

Tootsa MacGinty Smile top

Yellow Smile Sweat Top , £26.00, Tootsa MacGinty

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM HAVING YOUR OWN ONLINE SHOP?

I love the creative freedom to do what I want. Having worked in fashion retail for a good part of my career, it feels great to be a buyer, graphic designer and shopkeeper all in one! Just being your own boss is fantastic and I recommend it to all mamas out there. Customer service is a key part of our business and having one-to-one interaction is refreshing. You’ll definitely learn that very quickly when starting a brand or business.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH BRANDS TO STOCK?

What I can say, it is really hard! There are so many lovely brands out there. We attend seasonal children’s trade shows in different countries. It’s the best way to get a look and feel of the products available. As well being a great way to meet the designer and get an insight into how they go about creating their collections. We often find new labels when browsing Instagram, it is a fantastic place to discover small independent children’s labels.

Beau loves - grey pants

Grey Print Pants, £32.00, Beau loves

 

HOW DO YOU BALANCE BUSINESS WITH MOTHERHOOD? ANY TOP TIPS?

One word that works for me is ROUTINE. I’m lost without it. It’s good for me and the family.

DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE?

Busy!
During the week it’s the school run. Mornings are spent checking emails with a well needed cup of coffee. The world of social media is important for our business so checking and answering any Twitter, Facebook and Instagram comments.

The afternoon’s are all about cuddles and playtime with our 8 month old. As well as design updates for the site and planning for the coming seasons.

In the evening the kids are in bed by 7:30pm and there’s some one-on-one time with hubby!

WHAT DO YOU SEE FOR THE FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS?

We’ve come a long way since 2010, the response has been amazing. We plan to do more pop-up shops and collaborate with designers on making bespoke designs for beeniebuds&co. Most importantly we want to continue as we are, providing a great selection of quality clothes and toys and excellent customer service.

Tsumiki Building Block House , £83.99, gg*

Tsumiki Building Block House , £83.99, gg*

 

If you are looking for fun and fashionable kidswear and accessories, you need to check out BeenieBuds&Co. I love that it is such a stylish edit of the hippest independent brands and a perfect alternative to the humdrum of the high street. You can also keep up to date with new products, giveaways and more on Facebook, Twitter and my fave Pinterest!

 

An afternoon with Amba Hotels

 

Amba Hotel 2

I have grand ideas that I am Little Miss Crafty but when reality strikes I simply don’t have the time. Any ‘spare’ time I do have is swiftly allocated to either creating words and images for the blog, or working on building my empire ; ) Throw into the mix that I have the patience of a three year old child, I’m sure you are starting to get the picture that me and crafts do not traditionally mix. But that’s not to say I don’t have the desire, and that was why I was excited to attend the Amba Hotels Mothers Day Bath Bomb making workshop.

Accompanied by yummy food and drink and a group of lovely bloggers, we set about learning how to make a hard soap, a jelly soap and finally a bath bomb. We were taught by Naz of Midas Touch Crafts whose energy and enthusiasm helped to make the afternoon. As a lover of all things natural, it was interesting to learn how the products we use on a daily basis are formulated before getting to the task of making some for ourselves.

The surroundings weren’t too shabby either, the Amba Hotel is conveniently located next to Charing Cross Station. The hotel is housed in a beautiful building with a contemporary style and is a maze of rooms, restaurants, lounges and bars.

Amba Hotels 1

There are no photos of the bath bomb, it was an unmitigated disaster, what can I say, these hands aren’t made for creating bath bombs.

Big thanks to Amba Hotels for hosting the event and Joe Blogs for inviting me!