April 2023

April Book Reviews

April Book Reviews

At the beginning of every month, I set myself a target of around five books to be read. April has been an incredibly busy month, and whilst I’m not complaining, I still wish I had had time to read all five. Anyway, let’s get to it, my April book reviews! I’m Sorry You Feel That Way – Rebecca Wait “I’m sorry you feel that way” is a domestic comedy about complex family dynamics, mental health and complicated sibling relationships. Twins Alice and Hanna grew up labelled as the saint and the sinner, making their childhood somewhat of a trial. Their mother takes a divide-and-conquer approach, their father is the ever-absent parent whilst their older brother Michael, disapproves of everything and anything.  As adults, the sisters must deal with disappointments in love, work, and friendships. And as if that wasn’t enough they also have to deal with the complicated family dynamics. Not only do they need to figure out their own way forward in life, but they also have to deal with their ever-dominant mother and her toxic approach to her children.  My Review: It’s not very often that I finish a book left with a feeling of indecisiveness. Not quite sure how I feel about what I have just read.  And yet that’s exactly how I felt about ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’. Whilst it’s affluent in current and significant matters such as mental health and dysfunctional family dynamics, it still dragged on.  Whilst Hanna was quite entertaining as a character, Alice’s nativity and lack of being able to make rational decisions totally got on my nerves. The trope was quite clear from the start,  the rebel, the nice one and the narcissist! Even though this book delves into complex family relationships, it still lacks emotion and depth. I know I wasn’t supposed to like their mother. I mean even Hanna isn’t supposed to be that likeable. However, Alice who by all accounts is the nice one, is the one I disliked the most! Figure that! It’s a hard book to review. Whilst I don’t want to take away the importance of awareness of such issues, I still found the story boring and lacking originality. As I finish writing this review, I still for the life of me don’t know how I feel about it :( The Invisible Life Of Addie Larue – VE Schwab In this Sunday Bestseller, we meet Addie LaRue, a desperate young woman who makes a desperate bargain with the devil to live forever but be remembered by none. Addie’s invisible life begins. She becomes a shadow muse to artists throughout history, a forgotten friend, confidante and lover. But come the morning light she slips away.  After 300 years of living an invisible life, Addie longs to leave behind a remnant of herself. She lives in the hope that someone will remember her one day. And then she meets Henry in a small bookshop in Manhattan. Henry remembers her.  With new hope in her heart, Addie discovers that the devil never plays fair. So when her and Henry’s life start to intertwine, they must face the consequences of the decisions they have made. And like always there will be a price to be paid. My Review: ‘What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?’. This book tore my heart out, chewed it, spit it out and then stared at the gaping hole in my heartless chest. Yes, it was an experience, to say the least.  The Invisible Life Of Addie Larue left me with the worst book hangover I’ve had in years. I felt the weight of this story. The heartbreak, the desperation, and the loneliness, but I also deeply felt the pure joy of living. Of those moments that take your breath away, of living in the now. I felt the love story like it was literally happening to me. I loved loved loved Addie. Really, I cannot emphasise enough how much this character means to me. Her fierceness, her strength, her courage!  VE Schwab has written a beautiful woven tapestry of loss, heartbreak and love. Her writing flows like poetry, almost lyrical. It captures you and pulls you deep into her masterful storytelling until you don’t know where the story starts and you end.   This isn’t by any means a fast-paced book. It’s not meant to be read in one sitting, in fact, it’s the kind of story that deserves to be read over a span of weeks. I knew from the first chapter, this wasn’t a book I wanted to rush through. No, this book makes you want to slow down and digest the literary masterpiece that it is. Definitely without a doubt my favourite read of 2023, and one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Love On The Brain- Ali Hazelwood Bee finds herself in an impossible situation. She has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to work on a neuro-engineering project, a dream come true. Downside? She has to work along with her nemesis Levi, a NASA engineer with whom she doesn’t exactly share a good history. Not wanting to give up on her dream job, Bee accepts the offer. But when her equipment starts to go missing, the staff ignore her and her emails are never answered, she swears she can feel Levi softening into an ally.  It doesn’t take long for their relationship to evolve into more than just work colleagues. Bee will question everything she has ever believed about the handsome Levi Ward. My Review: After reading and loving Ali’s first novel – The Love Hypothesis, I had high expectations for Love On The Brain. Even though I enjoyed it, it still fell a tad short. Don’t get me wrong, it was 100% a fun read but I felt as though the characters were a refurbished version of Olive and Adam. The story revolves once again around science (expect a lot of scientific words thrown around, my little brain

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EV Foundation

Foundation Work: Transforming Lives

Today is superhero day and, whilst we may all have a favourite fantasy superhero such as Ironman, Batman, Thor, Wonderwoman etc, we would like to use today as an opportunity to highlight the work of a local superhero.  One without a cape or extraordinary superpowers other than a great passion to help others.  And, whilst superhero is a title that she does not like, (nor in fact any other title which would adequately describe the amazing work which she does for the local community), we are sure that all those hundreds of people who receive help from her and the EV Foundation would say otherwise. We have known Nicole Jones, founder of the EV Foundation since our days in primary school.  Now 44 and proud mum of two children (a boy aged 22 and a girl aged 15) Nicole recently gave up her job in finance after 23  years to pursue her dream to dedicate herself entirely to the work of the EV Foundation.  Having said this, Nicole has always given her all to charity work having worked in effect two full-time jobs for many years. Why Charity Work? Nicole has five siblings in what is a very close-knit family.  Through having such a large family she knows first hand the financial hardships which some families go through.  This financial hardship is especially noticeable through the teenage years. This is when you start to realise what other families may have that yours cannot afford.  It is precisely for this reason that Nicole left school at 15 in order to work and help support her family.   In 2003, Nicole started working as a youth worker. This experience really opened her eyes to the lack of basic resources in some members of the local community.  She would see children and young adults coming to the youth club lacking such basics as adequate clothing or shoes. This was in effect the start of her journey towards the setting up of the EV Foundation.  During this time she built up a close relationship with the youth club users and the community.  She would ask friends and family for donations of clothing, food and furniture in order to help these youngsters out wherever she could. Crossroads After working both in finance and as a part time youth worker for 10 years Nicole found she was at a crossroads.  Leaving youth work to concentrate on her full time job and family, she could either forget about the great need she had seen first hand or find a new way in which to help. Using Facebook one Christmas Nicole asked friends and family for help to be able to support four local families.  Receiving food donations at this time, each family received three or four bags of food.  This grew at a staggering rate.  The second appeal helped 12 families, then 25, 40 and last year 130 odd families receiving help. Nicole knows that when people receive a helping hand, the right tools and support they are able to succeed.  You do not need to come from a wealthy family.  Instead, you need someone to believe in you, to push you and to bring out the best in you.  This is one of the primary roles of the Foundation and has led to hundreds of success stories.  Helping those who sometimes receive no other help to feel good about themselves.  To grow in confidence and come out from negative mindsets or life habits and become the people they The Foundation’s Day To Day Work Nicole carries two phones with her.  One is her personal phone and one which is exclusively for Foundation work.   Waking up early every day, Nicole finds at least 20 odd work-related WhatsApp messages on each phone.  Another 20 messenger messages and emails. She works through the messages and emails early on and then moves on to meetings and interventions.   Nicole will meet with families, government officials, agencies, NGOs on a daily basis and there are always at least 2-3 meetings a day, sometimes of around 2.5-3 hours each!   Mentally, Emotionally and Physically Taxing These meetings are extremely draining because, whether she is meeting someone who has something to give her, or she is trying to establish what the person needs, Nicole gives each meeting her all.   Draining also because she experiences a lot of negativity in order to achieve the final beautiful result.  Sitting with those she helps, Nicole immerses herself fully in what that person is going through in order to understand exactly what they need.   By getting to know these families personally Nicole can decide whom to help, in what manner and for how long.  Nicole says “Whilst it may seem to those on the outside that a particular family is in need of help, and of course, whilst on paper it may be true that they don’t have money for food, what we on the outside may not be aware of is that they do not have food because that money which they do have is not spent wisely.  Money may be spent on drugs, socialising, holidays and the like”.  As such, it is a major part of Nicole’s job to make sure that donations are put to use with families who are genuinely in need. Every Situation Is Different Some families need clothes, food or furniture.  Others are experiencing domestic abuse at home from a partner or bullying at school.  Some are homeless.  Some are experiencing depression or are suicidal.  Multiply this by ten or fifteen families who she meets on a  daily basis and it is not surprising to learn that at the end of the day Nicole is emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted. Pushed to the Limit Attitudes can also be challenging and Nicole says that there are also those who will push you to the limit.  Getting through to those who feel like they are a victim, whose problems are a direct result of the actions of others and in no way through their own

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8 Things To Do At The End Of Every Month

8 Things To Do At The End Of Every Month

A new month feels like a new beginning and in a way it is. The beginning of the month brings about the opportunity to reset life and get organised for the month ahead. A chance to reset goals, set up habits, organise to-do lists, etc. We lead such busy lives that at times it is hard to know where one month ends and the next begins. Time just seems to catch up with us.  How many times do you catch yourself saying things like,  ‘I can’t believe it’s July already. It feels like I just took down the Christmas tree.’  It’s because of this that at the end of every month, I carry out a reset. Keep on reading if you want to find out what are the 8 things to do at the end of every month to set you up for a great month ahead. WHAT IS A RESET YOU ASK? Well simply put, a reset of the previous month allows us to reflect on what went right and what didn’t. Our priorities and goals can vary from month to month, and so can our finances.  I like to set up a day to reflect and organise my life.  All this helps me with the following: Let’s get to it then: 1. Reflect On The Previous Month In other words, be mindful of what your month typically looks like.  Check your planner and your to-do lists. What items on your list did not get crossed out? How was your diet? How did you cope with stressful situations?  What could you have done better?  Checking your habit tracker is a great way to analyse how the month went. We have a free printable habit tracker available for download. If you don’t already have one on the go why not give it a try?  Journal Prompts to Help Me Reflect As I have mentioned more than once, I love journaling. The last page of every month in my planner is left blank, so that I can use the journal prompts below to write about my month. It’s like a conclusion, so to speak. Below is a list of journal prompts I use: 2. Check In With Your Monthly Planner I’m a planner sort of gal. Yes, I love stationery, notebooks and pretty stickers. So of course it’s only natural that I own more than one planner. (Not even going to mention the number of notebooks I own, much to my husband’s dismay) At the moment I have two on the go, one for my personal life and one for my blogging business.  Every month I schedule everything from events to appointments to birthdays and nights out with friends. My planner is pretty and efficient and I honestly would feel lost without it.  I currently use a Filofax from Carpediem planners. The actual planner worksheets are sold separately, therefore allowing you to customise the planner to your own needs. These are some of the dates I schedule every month: The more planned out your month is, the less anxious you will feel about it. When plans and to-do lists are written down, it sets out a clear plan that our brains can understand. If I didn’t have my planner I would struggle trying to remember stuff and I can guarantee you half of it would be forgotten or I would get the dates wrong.  Some people use their phone calendars to plan out their month. There are plenty of digital planners and apps available, but I’m old school. I love writing stuff down. Use whatever works best for you. 3. Update your To-Do List I don’t know about you but I end up with a list of undone stuff at the end of every month. It’s completely normal so don’t be too hard on yourself. Life happens and we get derailed. For example, last week I had planned to deep clean my son’s bedroom, but it didn’t happen because I woke up with a sore throat and all I wanted to do was rest and watch tv. And that’s fine too. I changed my plans and I’ve scheduled it for the end of this week.  At the end of every month, I make it a point to check what got done and what didn’t, and then write up a new to-do list. It really does help me feel as though there is structure to my days ahead, even if further down the line I end up having to make changes.  You want to make sure you make realistic to-do lists though. It can be very tempting to get carried away and make an endless to-do list that will only stress you out in the long run. 4. Sort Out Your Finances There are so many things out of our control and money is one of them. Therefore it’s imperative for my mental health to review our finances on the 28th of every month. I pay whatever needs to be paid that hasn’t been set up with direct debit (my son’s after-school activities for example), I review last month’s expenses and where our money went (mostly on those impromptu lunches or weekends away) and lastly I budget for the month ahead, setting aside money for days out and saving some for those rainy days too.  Thankfully my husband and I are quite good when it comes to money. We don’t impulse buy stuff we don’t need. We don’t live beyond our means. Generally speaking, we are both quite sensible when it comes to our finances. My point is, knowing what the budget is for the month, and knowing I have saved up some, makes me feel somewhat in control. 5. Set Up New Goals Goals and habits are two different things. Goals carry an end result, whilst habits are daily actions that slowly improve our quality of life.  At the end of the month I like to ask myself the following questions: Try not to overwhelm yourself with a long list

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Spanish Language Day: Llanito

Today is Spanish language day.  Habíamos pensado de escribir algo en español but we thought we’d mix it up!  Welcome to our first blog en llanito.  Yep, today we honour lo nuestro.  The way we change de un lenguaje a otro mid sentence, como no terminano la palabra (see what I did?) and how we have our own unique words and even dictionary. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. What Is Llanito? Whilst the official language in Gibraltar is English, unofficially y entre amigos or socially, we speak what is known as Llanito. Llanito is a mix of Spanish, English and vocabulary which hails from our Genoese, Hebrew, Maltese and Portuguese heritage.  The Llanito language tambien tiene palabras from Haketia, a dialect once used by Sephardic Jews in Morocco as well as the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Meilla. The interesting thing about Llanito is the code switching, la manera que hablamo andalu one moment but then just as easily switch to English.  Also, the speed in which we speak which causes those trying to learn Spanish in Gibraltar no end of problems.  Not only do we speak at a hundred miles per hour pero the fact que usually none of our sentences are fully Spanish or includes words which will not be used in Spain is not the perfect conduit for learning. History Del Llanito Language Back in the 19th Century the British were starting to build the dockyards.  To do this they needed a larger work pool than the local population could provide.  Spanish, Genoese and Portuguese labourers made up the majority of the workforce y de aqui, according to local historian, Tito Vallejo is where mucha de la palabra llanita came from.  The issue was que como nadie se entendia, words were pronounced how they sounded to the various workers and from there a unique language was born. Another contributing factor to the birth of the Llanito language was the fact that up until the Second World War there was no legal obligation to attend school so many children did not learn English.  At the time, the predominant language in Gibraltar was very much Spanish.  So much so, that, according to Mr Vallejo, English was on the verge of disappearing. The introduction of the Irish Christian Brothers and Loreto Nuns into the local schools and the evacuation of local families away from Gibraltar during the War was the start of the increased use of the English language in Gibraltar. Post WWII Returning to Gibraltar after an extended period in places like England and Ireland during the War, local children had been exposed to the English language to an extent that they had not previously.  Upon their eventual return there was also a change to the laws which meant que education was now compulsory and English therefore became much more prevalent given that it is the language in which lessons are taught in all local schools. That said, for decades after the War lo que se escuchaba en lo patio when kids were playing or whenever there was un pati (party) or social gathering was Llanito.  That could be because at the time, whilst our exposure to Spain was limited due to the closure of the border from 1969 to 1982 our TV and radio offerings were  mainly in Spanish. Why Is Llanito Dying? Years back when I started working I remember a work colleague telling me that her kids did not speak Spanish.  I was shocked y no comprendia como eso podia pasa!.  I mean, as adults we continuously switch from one language to the other.  Como no aprendian lo niño lo mismo?  I actually told this work colleague que I thought it was a shame that she was not ensuring that her kids learn both languages.  Bueno, el que escupe pa riba le cae pa bajo!  Ma llanito que eso no se que hay!  This literally means “he who spits up will end up with spit on their face” or perhaps a better simile would be what goes around comes around. Effect of TV Cuando my generation were small lo unico muñequito (cartoons) que podiamo mira en English were between 7pm and 8.30pm cuando echaban algo en GBC.  I remember always running up from el patio to watch things like Thundercuts, He-Man, Fraggle Rock (yep, I’m an 80s child after all!) pero por la tarde and during holidays when we could watch TV all day then the only offerings were in Spanish.  This meant que lo niño teniamos the best of both worlds and we learnt English and Spanish simultaneously. Unfortunately this is no longer the case y  el problema es que ahora, our unique language is slowly dying. Nowadays our children literally have hundreds of TV channels to choose from. Not that they watch anything like cartoons or films porque parece que lo unico que ven en el televishon e YouTube. Mindless crap posted by YouTubers que se creen que e fact! My kids are continuously swiping on their tablets whenever there is something which is not of interest to them, giving a clip seconds to capture their attention. Everything they watch is in English. Indeed it is mostly American English.  This means that not only are they not exposed to the Spanish language aparte de lo once a week lessons en la ecuela  or cuando they listen to my husband and I speak, but, their English words include things such as candy, trash and wahter!!! How Can We Save Our Language? Saving the llanito language will be a difficult process porque our schooling, given that we follow the British system, needs to be in English.  In addition, the closure of the Instituto Cervantes in Gibraltar will also have had a negative

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Chocolate Caramel Cake

I don’t know about you but for me, chocolate cake is the ultimate cake.  It is the perfect choice whether you are celebrating a birthday, or a special event or just want to indulge in a perfectly delicious slice of heaven. There is something about the smell of chocolate that can instantly lift my mood.  If I’m having a bad day or need a pick-me-up a slice of chocolate cake will surely brighten up my day.  I can definitely not turn down a slice of good chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is also a certain crowd-pleaser and it is one of the most popular flavours when choosing a celebration cake. There are hundreds of chocolate cake recipes out there but I have found that adding caramel to the cake mix really adds an extra dimension to my cakes.  This recipe makes for a moist, gooey cake and it is extremely easy to make.  It’s so good, I’m just going to go straight to the point and let you have the recipe! Ingredients Equipment I hope you love this cake as much as I do.  Be sure to check out some of our other recipes such as Arroz Con Leche or Honey and Walnut Loaf. Happy baking! Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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Spring Cleaning: Your Ultimate Guide

Cleaning is a CHORE AND A BORE, right?   It is one of my most despised things and thinking about cleaning will surely get me in a bad mood.  That being said, nothing beats finally sitting down to watch a movie or read a book in a clean and tidy living room. Spring Cleaning Now, there is cleaning and then there is spring cleaning, an annual or six-monthly deep cleaning and decluttering session.  Basically, the mother of all cleaning sessions!  When Should I Spring Clean? In our house, this usually happens with the change of seasons.  Once from winter to spring and then again from summer to autumn.  For me, this is the best time as it is also when I look through all of our wardrobes to see what still fits, what clothes will be needed for the season ahead etc.  Once I start on this exercise, decluttering as I go, I feel the need to do the same in all other rooms.  I’m always surprised by how quickly we accumulate junk and clutter!!! Why Should I Spring Clean? I find the spring session especially important.  Evan suffers from bronchial asthma and this is usually at its worst during the spring months.  As such, I want to ensure that I remove as many allergens as possible from the house. As it does with Evan, spring cleaning can improve your physical health.  Dust, dirt and other allergens accumulate in your home over the winter months and these can aggravate allergies and cause respiratory problems.  What Needs To Be Done? Cleaning can feel daunting.  Like there is a mountain of things to get done.  Changing the bedding.  Washing, ironing and then putting it all away. Cleaning all the rooms.  Not to mention the other home activities which need to get done at the same time – cooking, homework… Then we want some time for self-care – meditations, exercise, walks.  Are there even enough hours in the day for all this?!? Make A Plan The key to not getting overwhelmed is to make a plan and break things down.  Take one room at a time and don’t try to do everything on the same day.  Start Small You want to enjoy the health benefits of a clean and decluttered house but you are not going to get this if you are raging like a lunatic (been there done that!) because you have stormed into every room like hurricane Katrina attempting to tackle all areas at once.  All this will do is leave a great big mess in every single room which will make you feel like you will never get things done! Declutter First Before you even attempt cleaning you need to declutter.  This can be a difficult exercise especially if you do not plan ahead.  Isn’t it annoying to come to the end of your decluttering only to then find something else which needs to go in your carefully organised drawer which now doesn’t fit?  Don’t panic, we’ve already got this section of your spring cleaning covered.  Check out our top tips for decluttering. By planning ahead you will avoid finding yourself with art supplies in about four different cabinets and drawers at home.  You’d honestly think that we have budding Picassos at home.  The truth however is that these art supplies are getting used less and less as the kids grow up. I just can’t bring myself to throw them out though but perhaps this should be an area where I should look at invoking the The KonMari Method. What is The KonMari Method you say? Developed by Marie Kondo The KonMari Method is an alternative method to the traditional organising by room.  Instead, this method encourages you to tackle decluttering by sections rather than by room and to give away any item which no longer gives you joy. Starting off with clothing and then moving on to books and papers.  Once all of this is organised, you can move on to miscellaneous items and finally sentimental items.  The miscellaneous and sentimental items are my most hated sections.  I mean, where has all this stuff come from and what am I going to do with it?!?!  But, at the same time with the sentimental stuff, my baby made this picture in nursery, how can I get rid of that?!?! Decisions, decisions, and hard ones at that! The good thing is that by breaking things down in this manner and seeing exactly what you have in all rooms for each category.  This will enable you to develop a better organisation system which may in turn free some extra space so that you don’t need to be ruthless with those sentimental items. Moving on to Cleaning Whichever method you choose to start with, once you have decluttered, you will be able to tackle the deep cleaning.  Again, the key here is to have a plan and work in small, manageable sections. Kitchen Once you have decluttered the worktops, start from top to bottom so that you are not knocking dust and dirt down to already cleaned surfaces.  That being said, even before tackling the first job, now is the time to spray your oven with any oven cleaner.  Be sure to also remove oven racks and trays and soak them with a product such as Oven Pride (again, no commissions paid!).  This ensures that the products start working whilst you tackle the rest of the kitchen.  If you have a self-cleaning oven (life saver!!) now’s the time you should switch this on.  Tops of The Cabinets Once you have got started prepping the oven, you want to tackle the tops of your cabinets which are likely to have accumulated grease as this is not an area which is generally cleaned on a regular basis.   Firstly, dust or vacuum the top.  Spray with degreaser spray and leave to work for a few minutes whilst you tackle the next job.  We will come back to this task shortly Light Fittings Next clean

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The Havening Technique

The Havening Technique

What is the Havening technique? Havening involves a distinctive self-soothing motion with crossed arms, gently but noticeable stroking from shoulders to elbows, so it appears as if the person is hugging themself. What are the benefits of Havening? Havening is known to reduce anxiety, stress and discomfort, whilst promoting well-being. The mind is like water.  When it’s turbulent, it’s difficult to see. When it’s calm, everything becomes clear !! 1.  Sit comfortably in a quiet, safe space where you will not be disturbed and place both your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands gently on your lap. 2.  Close your eyes. 3.  Take 10 deep breaths…..breathe in deeply, count to 7 as you breathe in….breathe out fully, and count to 11 as you breathe out.  Do this 10 times.  Don’t forget to count! Feel your body and mind relax. 4.  In your mind go to your ‘happy place’. A place where you feel totally safe and happy and joyous and blissful.  Maybe walking on the seashore whilst the sun sets or a field full of beautiful flowers or sitting in a comfortable rocking chair beside an open fireplace or even sitting on the shores of a lake watching the sun’s reflection on its shining calm waters…..keep your eyes closed. Feel the warmth on your face, smell the wonderful aromas around you, listen to the sounds…..be there! Feel yourself smile! 5.  Feel your body and mind totally relax. Havening Technique a.  Continue sitting comfortably and with your eyes closed, cross your arms and start stroking motions from your shoulders to your elbows.  10/15 times. Gently, softly….don’t forget to breathe! Continue by stroking your face, with both hands, from your forehead to your chin, around your hairline. 10/15 times. Gently, softly….breathe! Now continue by stroking the palm of your hands by gently rubbing your hands together.  Gently. 10/15 times. b.  Whilst you are following these self-soothing motions repeat the following affirmations quietly in your head or out loud if you prefer: -I love and approve of myself –  I am worth it –  I trust that everything is happening perfectly –  I am grateful for all the blessings in my life –  I am safe –  I deserve to have a fulfilling life with no regrets –  I live in the abundance of all good things –  I can do anything –  I am safe, healthy, whole and complete –  I am at peace –  I release all fears and doubts –  I turn every experience into a positive opportunity –  All is well in my world –  I am open and receptive to wonderful opportunities –  I choose to live in the present moment (add some of your own!) By now you will be feeling totally relaxed, body and mind, and ready to face any situation! Always remember, do not fear, do not stress, do not worry about: 1.  Things that you cannot control 2.  Things that have no solution and my favourite….. 3.  Things that haven’t happened yet !! YOU ARE NOW READY TO BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF! About the Author: Brenda Guilliano is a qualified EFT and Havening Practioner. She has also trained as a counsellor and has many years of counselling under her belt. Brenda runs self-help growth groups where she shares her philosophies in positivity, mindfulness and The Law Of Attraction, helping many to make a positive change in their lives. Having worked all her life in banking, she now offers corporate management services to private clients. A co-founder of Women’s Aid in Gibraltar in the early 90’s, Brenda continues to be passionate about helping people live their best lives as their best self. As if the above wasn’t impressive enough, Brenda is also a survivor. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. She advocates and truly believes that the power of the mind together with her positive thinking, her gratitude for all things and her love for life were the main contributory factors of her complete recovery. Need some ideas on a great self-care morning routine? We have you covered! Sharing Is Caring: Related Articles you might enjoy:

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My Morning Self-Care Routine

My Self-Care Morning Routine

We live in a fast-paced world. One filled with jobs, deadlines, carpools, meals to cook, children to feed…..the list is never-ending. So with this in mind, it’s clear that self-care has become not only a necessity but a MUST.  How else are we supposed to recharge our batteries? If we want the opportunity to become the best version of ourselves, then taking a time-out is the only way to go. At the end of the day, you can’t pour from an empty cup!  This is the reason why I decided enough was enough, and I introduced a self-care morning routine into my daily life.  As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. IT BECAME A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP All of my life I have enjoyed a love-hate relationship with my alarm clock. The snooze button was my ally. I believed that waking up with enough time to make myself look human, get the kids ready and then rush out the door was me being efficient. I mean, I was rarely late, but I was always stressed out, and always tired.  Fast forward to the current version of ME. My bedtime is at 10 pm, and I wake up at 6 am. And guess what? I have never been happier or more productive in my life. My mornings have become my favourite part of the day. By the time the hand on the clock hits 8 am, I have already had two hours of just me time. Two precious hours just for myself. There is no worrying about anyone else’s schedule, there is no cooking or ironing. It’s me and the quiet.  A time to nourish my soul and ground myself. A time to practice gratitude for my blessed life. Simply put, it’s time for me and only me.  AN OPPORTUNITY TO SET MY INTENTION FOR THE DAY As I write this blog post I find myself in a privileged position and not one that every mother is fortunate to be in. I only work two hours a day, and I don’t have to be at work until 11:30 am. However, I still have a teenager at home who needs to be monitored so that he doesn’t end up going to school late every day. Realistically I could sleep in every day, but the beauty of it is that I choose not to.  My mornings are peaceful. It allows me to set my intention for the day ahead. Most of the time, when I start my mornings on the right foot, the day just keeps getting better.  Having said that, this hasn’t always been my reality. At one point I was a single mum of two with a full-time job, so I do know a little bit about feeling overwhelmed with the stressors of life.  GIVE SELF-CARE A TRY Practising self-care adds quality of life and you won’t know how you feel about it until you give it a try. Let me share with you my morning routine. Take into account that what works for me, might not work for you, but at the end of the day, you can customise your routine to adapt to your needs.  1. Wake Up at 6 am During the cold winter months, waking up at 6 am was not a walk in the park. However, I have also learned that doing things out of my comfort zone, helps me build self-confidence. I use Mel Robbins 5 second rule to get out of bed. She teaches this technique in her book The 5 Second Rule. Hitting the snooze button is no longer an option, as hard as it may seem.  2. Drink Water The moment I set my feet on the ground, I grab the bottle of water that sits on my bedside table and I drink. Almost half a litre before I even stand up. Not only will the intake of water help me to wake up, but it is also a great way to help boost the immune system. Drinking water first thing in the morning will help you flush out the stomach and balance the lymphatic system.    3. Meditate By 6:10 am I am sitting on my sofa, headphones on and about to start a guided meditation.  Meditating never came easy to me. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts, one doesn’t end before another one starts. Most of the time, these thoughts are negative. It can be about life, health, my kids, my marriage, you name it, my thoughts have it covered. Then again I am also as stubborn as a mule, which is why I can proudly say I have almost perfected the art of meditation. Don’t get me wrong, some days are hard. And yet, most days I am able to quiet my mind and feel my body go into a state of total relaxation.  I can guarantee you there is no better way to start your morning than with a calm mind and ready to face whatever the day throws my way.  Meditating has helped me build my self-awareness. Now when a bad thought starts nipping away at my mind, I stop it almost immediately before it can take root and cause mayhem. 4. Stretch My Body I meditate for around 20 minutes, which means that by 6:30 am I am ready to stretch my body.  We bought a yoga mat a few years back so when I finish my meditation, I lay it out on the living room floor, put on some relaxing music in the background and stretch. Nothing too strenuous, just light stretches. It feels great to release the tension accumulated in my body after 8 hours of lying down in bed.  I normally concentrate on stretching my calves, hamstrings and hip flexors along with

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12 Ways To Boost The Immune System

12 Ways To Boost The Immune System

With the world just about recovering from a Global Pandemic, staying healthy has never been as important as it is now. So with that in mind, we wanted to write an article on the best 12 ways to boost the immune system. Everyone wants to be healthy. And yet, health is something that most of us, or at least those of us who have never had to deal with illness, take for granted. However, our health isn’t a given and this is a hard truth I have had to face recently.  In the past few months, I have researched relentlessly how to boost the immune system and in the process, I have learned that it is imperative that I change my diet. I also learned the harmful effects of stress on the immune response. However, the biggest shock was to find out that sleep is my human healing super-power. The Immune System The best way to ensure we stay healthy is to find ways to boost our immune system.  The immune system is a complex network of white blood cells, tissues, organs, proteins and chemicals. This system works tirelessly to protect your body from harmful substances, germs and cell changes that could potentially make you ill.  Its three major functions are as follows: Below you will find a list of my findings. For the last four months, I have tried really hard to incorporate all of them into my daily life. So let’s get to it. 1. Eat A Balanced Diet  Have you ever heard the phrase, you are what you eat? Well, it’s true. Introducing a well-balanced diet will provide you with the energy you need to keep active throughout the day. It will provide you with the nutrients you need for growth and repair and aid you in staying strong and healthy, helping you prevent diet-related illness, and some cancers. When we eat whole plant foods like fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts, we supply our bodies with nutrients and antioxidants. The chances of developing diseases such as cancer and heart disease can be greatly reduced by consuming these antioxidants.  Super Foods To Boost The Immune System 2. Green Tea Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is considered to be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Some of its many health benefits include: 3.   Stay Hydrated – Drink Plenty Of Water One of the best gifts you can grant your body is drinking enough water during the day. So many of us underestimate the importance of staying hydrated.  The human adult body is 60 per cent water, and our blood is 90 per cent water. Some of the health benefits of drinking water are as follows: Did you know that drinking water first thing in the morning will help you flush out the stomach and balance the lymphatic system? To build a strong immune system, a stable lymphatic system is required, so drinking water as soon as you open your eyes is a no-brainer.  4.  Move Your Body – Sweat It Out The more you move, the more you sweat. The more you sweat the easier it is to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. Exercising will also get the immune cells moving throughout the body during activity. The increased blood flow raises the oxygen levels in your body helping you lower the risk of diseases.  Lately, my chosen form of activity is going on long walks. Not only do those hills get my blood pumping but they also provide me with a good dose of serotonin. 5.  Sleep, It’s Your Superpower I have gone through life saying ‘I will sleep when I’m dead’. Shame on me.  Just as eating well, staying hydrated and exercising are important, getting a good dose of high-quality sleep is imperative for overall health. Most adults should try to get from seven to nine hours of sleep each night. There are many benefits that come with good quality sleep. Some of them are as follows: 6.   Keep Stress Levels Down Stress is a major culprit in today’s health decline. Living in a state of ‘fight or flight’ is considered the norm by today’s standards. Busy life, constant worries, financial burdens, the list goes on and on.  When we experience chronic stress, our cortisol levels (cortisol is a stress hormone) increase, impacting our health negatively. Some of the symptoms of high cortisol levels are: Exercise, a healthy diet, breathing exercises, and reducing caffeine are some of the ways to reduce stress. However, I have found that the best method for me is meditation.  When I started meditating last year, I found it so hard to ground myself. Almost impossible I would say, but I persevered.  Some days I experience incredible meditations. My mind is calm, my body is relaxed and I find myself surrendering to the moment. Other days are not so good. These are the days when my mind is turbulent. Thoughts come and go so rapidly and I’m not able to hold on to them. When this happens I make it a point of meditating twice, sometimes three times during the day.  When I started my meditation journey, I used to listen to guided meditations on YouTube. I’ve linked my favourite below.  Lately, I find myself putting the timer on for 20 minutes and sitting upright in silence, breathing in through my nose and breathing out through my mouth. I try to clear my mind, ground myself and connect to my inner self.  I meditate every morning without fail. It’s a non-negotiable habit in my daily routine. But let me tell you about some of  the benefits of meditating: Check out The Mindful Movement’s channel on YouTube for great guided meditations. 7. Fasting At the beginning of the month, whilst listening to a podcast, I came across Dr Mindy Pelz. Dr Mindy is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and nutrition and functional health expert AND she introduced me to fasting. When I tell friends and family that

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The Best Ever Carrot Cake

Years ago, before my husband and I got married, he went to a stag do in Spain and, it being life before kids, and having enjoyed a relaxing weekend to myself I suddenly felt the urge to do something productive and decided to bake.  Now, whilst I had done some limited baking at school, this is not something which, as a 20-something-year-old, busy career woman I had had much time to engage in since leaving university.   Anyway, I knew that Daniel, my now husband, loved carrot cake and I thought well, I’m going to go all Nigella and surprise him with a nice carrot cake for tea – the perfect hangover cure right?  I gathered all the ingredients and got to baking and was pleasantly surprised at the finished product given that this was my first ever proper cake (I had probably only ever baked bread and butter pudding at school!)  Now, we live in a block of flats and our next-door neighbours used to own a very well-known bakery in Gibraltar and we often come home to delightful smells emanating from their flat onto the shared landing.  On returning home, Daniel comes up to me and whispers “Come, come outside” So, I followed him outside and I’m like “What?”  he says, “Smell, it smells amazing!”.   Proud as punch I tell him to come back inside and go to the kitchen.  He couldn’t believe that that delightful smell was not coming from our celebrated bakers but from OUR house! A Family Favourite Since…. The cake really went down a treat and was shared with our family who now often ask when it is going to be on the menu for tea. The recipe provides a really moist cake and the addition of the lemon cheese frosting certainly elevates this recipe to any other carrot cake I’ve tried before. Ingredients Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Method Let us know in the comments if you have enjoyed this recipe. Loved this recipe? Please share with your friends! Related Articles You Might Enjoy:

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