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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sunshine & Nature

I have been reading about the health benefits of sunshine on the wonderful Wellness Mama blog .  Apparently vitamin D is the new Prozac! 

Secretly, I have always known this. In Winter I wish I could hibernate like the Blue Peter tortoise. I hate the dark days and permeating, invasive gloom. Come Spring I open up like a daisy in the dawn light and feel reborn. My other half says I am like a different person, he describes my personality as “grey” in Winter, and “yellow and orange” when the days become brighter!

Recently, in order to recharge myself, I’ve been volunteering to do duty outside at break and lunchtimes at school, and of course walking Poppy in the afternoons. We are lucky to have our own little garden at school, complete with miniature woodland and I’m getting outside as much as I can. So many days this Winter I have been cocooned inside my office or classroom, hermetically sealed off from the natural world, artificially heated and illuminated. Outside today I could feel my sunshine levels topping up like the battery bar on my phone. I'm wondering if it has such a strong restorative effect on other people, or is it just me?

We took Poppy to her first puppy training class this evening, and unwittingly took the scenic route home. It’s really surprising how wonderful taking a different and unexpected route home can feel – like a mini adventure! We meandered past golden fields of oilseed rape and lush hedgerows speckled with stray bluebells. The sun shone gloriously – I was perfectly content being lost and was rather disappointed when we turned out onto the dreary dual carriageway.

I love seeing and being in nature. It’s so restful. I sometimes divert en route to school via Port Solent so that I can stand by the sea and gaze out to Portchester castle and beyond. I smell the brine and seaweed and feel the breeze on my skin. It’s such a stunning view in the morning light; often hazy and slightly eerie when you cannot see the horizon. I drink it in to top up my battery before the madness of school commences. Just for 10 minutes, but it works...

If you like what you have read, please share this blog and subscribe with your email! Many thanks, ChamomileTea xxx 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sing for your supper

Today was one of those days when I wear my unofficial-parental-counselling hat. The parents of the families I support often take up just as much time as the children. It’s funny how I find it much easier to compartmentalise the children’s issues, than those of the adults. 

I spent 40 minutes on the phone to a distraught mother this afternoon. Externally I was soothing, supportive; inside I was thinking “I’m just a teacher!!”. And yet time and time again they come to me for the answers. Where do I go with this once they’ve offloaded onto me?

So today I am in need of some true distraction. Something cathartic; a powerful detoxification.

It’s time to face the music…

I love singing, it makes me feel totally free and fully expressive, like I am living just in the moment. It’s free flowing emotion, I can feel the sounds resonate within me, the vibrations purify and I am released. I don’t criticise myself for being in tune or having the best tone, I throw my head back and  feel joy!!

Here’s a classic swayalong song. Sing along to The Piano Man and let yourself go!

If you like what you have read, please share this blog and subscribe with your email! Many thanks, ChamomileTea xxx 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Helping out a friend in need

I’m not religious, but there is something in that saying from the Bible “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I helped out a friend with financial advice this evening, and it felt really good to do this. I love helping others, I get a real kick out of it. The irony is I am in far worse a situation financially than she is, and I only knew how to help her as it was exactly what I have NOT been doing!!

This isn’t stress-busting in the purest sense, however it has already prompted me to think about regaining control of my money and deal with that knot of anxiety that lurks when I have procrastinated for too long. My general stress levels will be soothed by dealing with these things. 

Helping others to sort things out and make progress makes me feel good about myself. Apparently it's one of the keys to happiness I suppose this is why I do the job that I do!

Today’s TOP TIPS

Here is my  7-step rescue plan for when money matters get out of hand and you have no idea where it has all gone:
  1. Embrace internet banking
  2. Download/export the last month’s expenditure onto a spreadsheet
  3. Remove all essential entries from the list
  4. Total up your non-essential outgoings (this figure may shock you)
  5. Sort the entries alphabetically to group places where you have been repeat spending
  6. Voila! You know exactly where you have been going wrong, and where you can cut back
  7. Budget, Budget, Budget!

Now to remove that log…

If you like what you have read, please share this blog and subscribe with your email! Many thanks, ChamomileTea xxx 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Trying to stop and smell the flowers

This blog is my attempt to live a little each day, rather than being all about my work. Who wants to be all about their day job? Actually, mine isn’t so much a day job as an all-consuming, think-about-all-day-night-weekends-and-holidays job - because I work with disadvantaged children and their families. 

“Oh how rewarding” is the response I usually get from people when they hear what I do. 

“Oh how overwhelming/exhausting/stressful” is what both they, and I, and probably you are really thinking. 

“I couldn’t do that..”, is what usually follows, and frankly I agree with them, because I really struggle to do it too. I accomplish the tasks that are required of me daily (well, most of them, usually), but my internal pressure gauge is always verging on the red zone.

I read about stress management all the time and I have yet to crack this one. I can’t switch my brain off from the challenges which dealing with vulnerable children presents. How can I stop thinking about them when I know they are going home each day to really difficult and often tragic circumstances? I feel guilty, a lot of the time, for not doing enough for them, or for my team, or for my manager. It builds up and becomes so overwhelming I don’t even want to go into work. Inside I am screaming... 

...Typically, and like so many of us in our working lives, there is no room left for me and I’m too tired in the evenings to even think about joining a club or exercising or learning a new hobby or going to a stupid evening class. Do you have the time/energy/inclination? 

I hate working really. I tolerate it because I have to, but I’m seriously trying to find a way out. And that question – “what do you DO?” really frustrates me. I don’t want to be defined by my job, any more than I want to be defined by a list of my likes and dislikes or where I have purchased my clothes (fyi usually alongside the weekly supermarket shop).

So, ranting aside (although it really feels good!), what have I done today to stop and smell the flowers? Today I went to the beach, with my lovely partner and our 6 month old puppy Poppy. We walked and played along the prom, which was surprisingly windy. It was wonderful. The sea always relaxes and soothes me. It feels like a connection to other places and other lives beyond my own. Seeing Poppy's excitement at her first encounters with the sights, sounds and smells of the sea is joyous to watch and definitely takes me right out of my work headspace.

Poppy almost has the hang of “fetch” now, she will chase the ball (I am always reminded of Dug from Up! ) but hasn’t quite cracked bringing it back yet. She is as fast as whippet when she runs – a lightning streak of orange! I can’t keep up with her when she runs flat out; time and time again she gets to the end of her extendable lead  before I can catch her and yanks her neck. I am already much fitter than when we got her, but the sooner she learns recall (and emergency stop) the better! 

She gets such a lot of attention for her foxy cute looks when we are out walking and she is loving the sea. I love showing her off. On the beach today Poppy’s tail was high and curled with delight as she tried to eat the foaming waves. I can’t wait to take her back. Pets are great therapy!

The sea was rough and grey today and the waves were pounding but it felt really good to be out experiencing the elements and I didn’t think about work once. It wasn’t too cold or windy to sit outside the seaside cafe for brunch, which was busy as usual. We sat next to lovely people who all asked about Poppy; making connections with other people (and pooches) is so good for the soul. The sun peeped out occasionally and even though the grey clouds overhead suggested drizzle throughout, the rain didn’t break until we got home. Some weather god was watching over us today. 

If you like what you have read, please share this blog and subscribe with your email! Many thanks, ChamomileTea xxx 

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