Wellbeing

Flow Magazine

Have you met Flow Magazine before? If not, then it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you. Flow is a beautiful quarterly magazine all about living simply and mindfully, about slowing down and connecting to others and the world around you, and nourishing yourself creatively. As well as the magazine, Flow produce special issues, such as the ones above on Mindfulness, a colouring in book and the book for paper lovers (more on all those later).

Flow was born seven years ago as a Dutch magazine for paper lovers, celebrating creativity, imperfection and life’s little pleasures. Since then, we have expanded into an international brand, with magazines in English, Dutch, German and French, as well as a book in Japanese, special paper editions, digital apps, diaries, journals and other stationery products.

 

So what do I love about Flow? It's genuine. It's about life. It's beautiful. It's inspiring. Pages packed full of interesting, thoughtful articles and questions, interspersed with beautiful images and creative things to do. It encourages you to dive in, and tear and cut and stick and draw and write and ponder.... It's the only magazine that I read cover to cover, and then go back for more. Let me give you a little tour of some of the editions I have....


Flow Colouring IN Book

I recently treated myself to the Flow Colouring in book. How could I not? It's full of illustrations by two of my favourite artists, Helen Dardik and Carolyn Gavin. As well as colouring inbetween the lines, you are encouraged to add drawings and thoughts of your own. 

I had so much fun getting stuck in - and even added a few flowers of my own to the mix above :) I learnt that I much prefer pens to pencils, and that I "need" lots more colours! I also wore out my poor hand, which is not used to holding a pen these days! 

The illustrations are all so beautiful - it's hard to choose where to begin!


Mindfulness Special Issue

This is an absolute treasure. The regular magazines talk a lot about mindfulness, so I had a feeling it would deliver. It's a fantastic introduction to the subject, with lots of interesting thought-provoking articles, interviews and questions. All interspersed with plenty of space and beautiful images. And of course, lots of things to tear out, write in and on and display. There are lots of helpful reviews of further reading, courses and workshops too. It was an absolute joy to read and very hard to put down. I'm about to go back for round two....

I loved the tear out postcards with some beautifully illustrated quotes (trimmed and corners rounded by me) - some of these are going on the wall and some will be bookmarks. 

There are lots of ideas about how to use creativity to lose yourself in the moment and practice being present, without over-thinking. 

There is space to write and reflect...

And lots of interesting, helpful interviews. Highly recommended.


Flow Book for Paper Lovers

Flow have produced two of these gems now. 300 pages full of things to make and create with, put on your wall, send to your friends, and well, just admire....

To start with, I was really hesitant to "ruin" it. But the whole point of it is to tear, cut, stick, make a lovely mess...so now I rip away and make sure to use it. I don't believe in saving things for a special occasion - every day is special!

There is wrapping paper, gift tags, stickers, envelopes to make, postcards, craft paper, garlands, posters, paper dolls, and lots more. It's really thick - the spine is 3cm!

I especially love the writing paper, envelopes and note cards. Snail mail revival!

Lovely illustrations to colour in...

And lots of things to make, like this mini-bunting.

And this banner came with it - now brightening up my kitchen :)


FLOW MAGAZINE (INTERNATIONAL EDITION)

And last, but most definitely not least, we have the regular quarterly magazine. I subscribe to the international edition in English. Each issue focusses on something (the importance of playfulness this time, and all about slowing down in the previous issue), but the key themes of connecting, mindfulness, nourishing yourself and simplifying your life run throughout. There are lots of interesting articles and interviews with creatives, space to write and reflect, things to pull out, cut out and do. It's a substantial magazine with lots of food for thought. It's my favourite magazine - can you guess?!!

NB. This isn't a sponsored post. I just wanted to share something I love!

If you are interested in subscribing or trying out a single issue, you can do so online at flowmagazine.com. Flow is also stocked by some independent stores such as Magazine Brighton and the lovely Much Ado Books in Alfriston.

Have a lovely weekend everyone - the sun is shining brightly as I type this so I'm looking forward to getting out and about :)

Rules to live by - Part 2

This is the second part of a post I wrote back in March (Rules to Live by - Part 1) about the rules or words I live by and the things I have learned (or am learning) along the way. My chronic fatigue syndrome has been a great teacher and my desire to understand this and come to terms with it has led me down some interesting paths. Although, that said, these "rules" or "life wisdom" as I like to call them have been a part of my life for many years - I still keep unearthing earlier, colourful laminated versions with many common themes.


Keep learning, be brave and don’t fear failure

Keep learning - it keeps you vibrant, happy and moving forwards. Don’t get stuck doing the same old things. View failure as a useful learning experience - if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough. Don’t live a life of regret for things I wish I’d done or tried. If I don’t ask or don’t try, I don’t get!

The quote above is taken from a short poem by Erin Hanson (e.h), a 19 year old Australian.


I don’t have to be good at everything

It’s OK to ask for help. In fact it’s good to ask for help - it’s amazing what opens up…Remember: perfect is the enemy of done. And fun for that matter!

Perfect-is-the-enemy-of-done.jpg

Remember LIFE IS NOW

Don’t keep waiting for the perfect time. There is no perfect time. Do it now, make a start.

Be present and enjoy the now. There is only now. Don't be so caught up in the past or the future, that you miss out on life right now.


Tackle nagging tasks and worries head-on

Don’t brush difficult things under the carpet because I don’t know what to do about them. Don’t put things off. Talk about it. Break it down and take the next action.


Stop trying to control everything

Let go more. Relax. I can't (nor should I) control everything. Surrender and open myself up to new possibilities. Just because I can't see them yet doesn't mean they aren't there.

Read more: Let go of control: how to learn the art of surrender by Dr Amy Johnson


Have fun

Play (it's not just for kids). Do things JUST FOR FUN, because I love them, because they make me happy, not for an end game. Laugh more, be silly.


Be kind to myself, and to others, and love lots, unconditionally.

Stop judging myself so harshly. I'm doing my best, and that's good enough. Remember that we're all fighting some kind of battle, even if we don't shout about it.


Choose to see the positives in life

Don’t dwell on the negatives. Forgive and forget. Happiness is a choice. I can’t always control what happens to me in life, but I can control how I feel about it.


Act the way I want to feel

And treat others the way I want to be treated, without expectation.


How I do anything is how I do everything*

The small stuff matters. Be true to myself.

*This gem of wisdom came from the lovely, wise Sas Petherick. You must take a look at her blog if you haven't already - it's packed full of wisdom and soul searching questions. Make a cup of tea and get comfy first.


Let go and try not to worry

If I’m feeling overwhelmed by tasks and lists - stop! Very little is really essential. If I can’t focus, choose a simpler, lower energy task - and don’t feel bad curling up with a book.


Further reading

The following resources have been very helpful to me, and you will see their influence in the words above:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Sas Petherick

Tiny Buddha

Live Learn Evolve

My Pinterest Words board

What are your go-to sources for words of wisdom? I'd love to hear. Z xx


Rules to live by - Part 1

Over the years, I've developed a set of what I like to call "rules to live by". These are little insights that resurface over and over again and describe the things I need to do to stay a happy Zoë and maintain a happy and healthy life. They usually become apparent in times of stress and upset. I've probably learnt the most over the last few years as I've come to terms with living with chronic fatigue and am constantly learning how best to manage it.

Whilst they are very personal to me (and I'm certainly not suggesting that this is what everyone must do!), I thought they might be of help or interest to others, so I decided to share them here. There are rather a lot of them, so I'll spread them over a couple of posts. You can read Part 2 here.

Just be me

Accept (and be happy) that what I want to do / like / makes me happy etc. will be different to others. Just follow my path, and don’t waste time thinking that I should like or do something else, because that's what everyone else seems to want to do. Do what nourishes me and makes me happy.

Don’t compare myself to others

Their lives, experience, health etc. is different to mine. And remember that often we only get to see the highlight reel - not their struggles.

Just compare myself to myself.

Create more, consume less

Spend less time looking at what everyone else has done online and more time creating my own things: photos, blogging, sewing, knitting and other crafty stuff. Time box internet time. I don’t have to respond to everything immediately - or at all, in fact. Need to spend time in the real world.

Keep my diary free and leave room for Zoë time

Don’t plan too much and don’t fill my diary. Leave room for “Zoë time” doing things I love and being creative, and time to act spontaneously and do things I fancy in that moment =

don’t worry about saying no!

Nurture relationships (the right kind)

Make time to maintain and develop relationships with lovely people. Arrange things I like doing with people I share common interests with. But don’t overdo it. Don’t be afraid to let those people go who upset me / I find difficult / I don’t relate to. Thing's change, we change, and we need different things and different people in our lives over time. Surround myself with like-minded, positive, respectful people. Be kind, be thoughtful and above all, treat others as I would like to be treated.

Eat well

Eat lots of veggies, unprocessed wholefoods and avoid sugar. Go easy on the alcohol, especially if I’m feeling foggy and achey - it makes my CFS much worse. Make time to cook healthy meals and to prepare stuff: it’s important.

Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep

Do yoga 5 x week - it keeps me grounded and my systems working properly. And walk as often as I can - slowly increase the amount I do. Go to bed in good time - put down the internet!

Go outdoors and enjoy nature

Get out regularly for fresh air and walks. And surround myself as often as I can by greenery, space, quiet and the sea. It nourishes me.

Do you have any rules to live by?

Gratitude

As I wandered down a track last week and my view opened out to reveal the stunning coastline below, I felt completely overwhelmed with gratitude and my heart was singing with joy. I had reached this point by walking from my house, by myself. As someone who struggles with chronic fatigue and doesn't get out that often, this was a big deal. It reminded me of my thankfulness practice and I thought I would share a little of that here.

It was a beautiful day, and I felt the strong urge to get some fresh air. We are still exploring our new part of the world and my husband had managed to get to Cuckmere Haven on his morning run, so I just thought I would see how far I could get.... I walked past lots of fields with spring lambs frolicking around and their mothers eyeing me suspiciously. Birds were singing and lots of folk were out walking their dogs.....

Cuckmere Haven is one of those super special places you don't encounter very often (it was one of the reasons we chose to pack our bags and move out here). As you wander down the track from South Hill Barn, you can see the rolling South Downs on your left and fields full of sheep and lambs. There is just so much S-P-A-C-E. Space to think and breathe. Space for ideas and new possibilities...

As you descend, the view seems to grow bigger and bigger and you can see the beautiful beach and majestic cliffs, and the coastguard cottages, just clinging on to the edge of the cliffs. You literally have a 360 degree view of the most beautiful countryside and coast. I was full of so much joy, just standing there and taking it all in.

I have my beautiful mother to thank for so many things, including a love for the simple things in life and practicing thankfulness. Every day, my mum would record several things she had to be thankful for in a journal - it could be a beautiful bird song, a glimmer of sunshine on a grey day, some kind words from a friend. It wasn't an easy task for her, as she suffered a great deal of pain and sickness in her last years, as she battled with cancer. But she chose to see the positives in life, despite being dealt such a cruel hand. It is amazing how much difference it can make to your life by focussing on the good things, rather than the bad. They say that what you pay attention to grows stronger. Let it be the good stuff.

It's a practice that has stayed with me, over the years. I started out writing down the things I was thankful for in a journal every day, but this fell by the wayside as life got busy and I got tireder. So instead, I just run through it all in my mind when I'm in bed, before I go to sleep. It's a lovely thing to focus on before you drift off. Of course, there are many benefits to writing it all down, not least the chance to review it and remind yourself of all the joy in your life when you are struggling, but I think it is better to do it, than not. So as with most things in life, I think it's important to find a way that works for you.

That beautiful day last week I had so much to be thankful for. I stared at the mesmerising waves for as long as I could stand, and then I sat and watched some more. And then I wandered along slowly, looking for shells, another favourite past time I share with my mum.

Today, I am thankful for

  • The most beautiful bird song and golden light as I did my morning yoga practice
  • Having the time and space to write this post and edit my photos
  • The lessons my chronic fatigue is teaching me. I totally overdid it last week. A faint whiff of energy and I'm off - I got so excited by being able to walk to Cuckmere Haven, that I went twice, as well as several other decent walks and even cycles and started enthusiastically logging it all with a fitbit, comparing myself to my husband. What I should have been doing, is pacing myself, and doing less than I think I can. Today, my body is complaining strongly and forcing me to slow down. The fitbit has been abandoned and I'm grateful to be able to take things slowly, and for the self-awareness that comes with managing a chronic illness. Comparing myself to others is not a good thing!
  • The beautiful golden daffodils bobbing around outside my window as I write this
  • Getting one more of our plumbing leaks fixed!

What are you thankful for today?