Friday, 15 May 2015

5 Reasons Why Camping Can Bring You Happiness

The Great Outdoors is not for everyone. It’s raw, dirty, and you're exposed to the elements. And there are bugs. Fortunately for us, we chose the right time of the year and did not encounter one mosquito. The flies at times were a tad annoying, especially in the desert.

No matter how rugged (or fancy) your outdoor adventure, there are qualities about camping we won't find elsewhere in one complete package. What could be better than that? If you’re a camping veteran, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re new to the scene, grab your backpack, you’re going to love this.

We are now 5 days back from our 6 day adventure up North. I have finally caught up on all the laundry and cleaning and packing away of camping gear. As I have gone about each of these tasks, fond memories and feelings of gratitude come to mind as I empty beach sand from the pockets of shorts and sleeping bags and...everywhere! Camping is connecting with nature and can bring you so much happiness!

Slowing Down
As soon as you hit your campsite, it’s like time has been reset. Setting up your “new living space” can be a meditative process. Yes, it is slightly challenging with small children. Our two big boys were able to manage Baby P whilst Mr Man and I set up camp. She probably ate a few too many honky nuts, but that's the fun of camping, the rules get relaxed a little. Cooking food outside forces you to slow down. I loved our early morning toast and french press coffee from our little gas burner stove. We would all sit around in camp chairs rugged up from the early winds blowing in cold off the desert, munching toast and watching the sun come up over the trees. And the birds, such sweet songs. The simple act of sleeping outside can bring about a symphony of sounds that even the best app can’t mimic.

Quality Time
This is by far the best thing about camping. It’s THE reason to go camping - even if you go alone. Quality time can come in many forms: hiking, building sand castles, fishing, throwing rocks in the water, etc. Whether you have small children or not, you can collect rocks, leaves and nuts and seeds, shells, or whatever else you find in your travels. It’s a sliver of time where you can truly connect with family, friends, and remember yourself. And the absence of electricity makes for great conversation as you reconnect over games of cards or colouring in by the halogen lamps.

At first glance, camping doesn’t seem creative. But nothing could be further from the truth. The second you start planning your trip the creativity begins. It forces you to think about how you’re going to accomplish normal everyday tasks, like cooking. Mr Man and I began collecting our camping gear and adding to it over a couple of months. We bought 3 large 60L storage containers and separated all the items. One was for food (dry goods), one for cooking equipment and plates etc and the other for camping gear - ropes, batteries, torches etc. And the creativity doesn’t end until the moment you leave (when you have to get creative about how you’re going to repack everything - including your newly found, nature-y loot). Journaling, painting, even singing and playing guitar around the campfire allows the creative sparks to fly.

Appreciation in the Little Things
It should go without saying that roughing it in the bush or sand dunes for a few days puts things in perspective. While sleeping under the stars is enjoyable, there is nothing like returning home to your comfy bed. Ditto for basic daily amenities - like showers and electricity. A camping trip is an opportunity to observe the small details of life and those around you.

Healthy Habits
It’s only natural to pick up extra activities when visiting the great outdoors. Walking, hiking, and fishing along with surfing, kayaking, and swimming, camping encourages all sorts of healthy activities. Often these activities have a way of following you home and leading into other forms of self care. You may find new healthy habits popping up, whether it’s finding a new local hiking trail or fishing more. In our beautiful South West town, we have several amazing coastal spots available for weekend camping trips. We have made a commitment (weather pending) to get out and camp in our area more regularly, and plan for a longer camping adventure further away in Spring.

Camping comes with a handful of challenges like getting the baby to sleep in a kinder tent in the family tent and how to perfectly toast a marshmallow, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy your family, and everything nature has to offer. And THAT can bring you happiness.

I'd love to know what you love about camping and when you last went and where.

Nic Nurtures

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Lavender the great leveler - 5 ways with lavender

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love affair with lavender. The essential oil of English Lavender, lavandula angustifolia is a regular of mine and I use it daily. The aroma brings about a sense of comfort, well being and calm. My Nanna used to have some growing in her garden in the Perth Hills and I have fond memories of playing outside amongst the rosemary and lavender on those weekends when I would stay the night at her house. The sweet aromatic scent always put me at ease and me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I still feel that way today.

Lavender has been used for thousands of years and it has a wide list of applications. It is especially valuable for skin care and skin conditions as it promotes skin cell regeneration and kills bacteria, is antibiotic, antiviral, may prevent scarring and ease pain. As a cut flower, lavender is dried to be used for clothes and linen fresheners, as a tea with slices of lemon, in muffins and cakes, as a herbal pillow, in a therapeutic heat pack for tired achey muscles or loving displayed in vases around the home. 

One of the great properties of Lavender is it's ability to increase energy within the body, enhancing the function of the glands, whilst strengthening the body's systems. Lavender helps the body to achieve balance by relieving cramps and spasms and reducing inflammation. It eases problems of the digestive, respiratory and urinary systems and is an extremely effective pain reliever, making it's use perfect for the massage setting. It's anti-inflammatory properties provide relief from problems like, arthritis, sciatica, headaches, muscle tension, cramping and menstrual pain.

As an essential oil, lavender has many applications. Using an oil burner, you can create a calming and relaxing aroma that permeates through the air. Drops can be added to your bath or even on a handkerchief to place under your pillow for restful sleeps. Lavender can be added to a base oil for massage to ease and relax tired and aching muscles. Blend lavender with eucalyptus oil and you have a powerful concoction that will assist in healing colds and flu, infections, and ease depression. I frequently massage my children with just a few drops of lavender in some coconut oil before their bedtime or after a big day of sport. Diffusing lavender in an aromatherapy diffuser makes for a calming, peaceful and sleep inducing environment in Baby P's bedroom.

When it comes to Stress, there is nothing better than lavender. Lavender is the great leveller. It can create a sense of calm and clears mental chaos. It has the ability to harmonise and balance every aspect of our bodies and minds. Lavender reduces stress and calms the nervous system, lifting feelings of depression and easing headaches and insomnia.This is why lavender was the chosen flower for my wedding. The flowers have beautiful blue and purple hues and a lovely vintage feel. For our wedding, I used lavender everywhere, creating lavender button pins for the gents, lavender bouquet for myself and bridesmaids and a white chocolate and lavender wedding cake. The bouquets and decorations were the perfect sensory experience for the wedding. The mood was calm and relaxed and the atmosphere romantic and spiritual, the lavender so lovely to look at and smell. 

Five Ways with Lavender:

  1. Feel it. Have a lavender massage. Be it deep relaxation or deep tissue, a massage that uses lavender oil is bound to make you feel energised.
  2. Soak it. Have a lavender bath. You can use lavender essential oils directly in the bath, or perhaps lavender bath salts or lavender bath bubbles are more your thing. This bath will have a calming and soothing affect on your whole body and mind, promoting good sleep.
  3. Smell it. With an essential oil burner, place 15 drops in a diffuser will keep your home or office smelling amazing and will create a comforting environment.
  4. Grow it. Plant lavender bushes in your garden and along your paths. This bush is very hardy and smells great. The essence of the flowers will be released each time you brush past.
  5. Drink it. Take a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers, a few slices of lemon and your favourite teapot and you've got yourself a nurturing herbal tea that will soothe your insides.
Nic Nurtures

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Eating to heal - My top 5 inspiring Food Sites

This year, I have been on a journey to heal my body. Part of this process has been about rethinking what I eat and the way I eat. Whilst I have happily enjoyed trying new style of food and cooking, the family has not embraced it all. We've had some hits (homemade pot noodles) and some misses (beetroot brownies). Junior Hoges still begs me to buy white bread for his lunch box. But I have found that if I plan and organise my meals and shopping lists, I can cook up some really delicious lunch box alternatives. 

One of my biggest learning journeys has been to start eliminating foods that are acidic and contribute to inflammation within the body. To my dismay, coffee is highly acidic. I love coffee and have an extremely well established relationship with my caffeine habit, sometimes having up to 3, double shot coffees a day! I know this is not good for me. I have cut back to just one a day after deciding to pay close attention to how I feel after drinking coffee. What I discovered was that I actually felt a bit crap. Deflated. Irritable. That 2nd or 3rd cup lost it's meaning, it's specialness. I now choose to have a glass of water or peppermint tea when I begin to feel that old habit tickling me.

Practising mindfulness with what we eat takes time. You have to choose to slow down and think about what you eat and how you eat it. Breaking sugar and coffee habits are challenging, especially on those hard days when you may be feeling more tired, or more pain, or more grumpy than usual. Food or drink seems to be the best way to comfort. But putting crap into your body only gives you a quick fix, when really a nourishing bowl of soup and a big glass of lemon water will go a long way to healing you physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

I have found much guidance and inspiration through various websites, blogs, naturopaths, mums and authors. Whilst I do not subscribe to any one diet or way of eating, I rather choose to eat intuitively and by what works for me and my family. I try to grow my own and source local produce (easy when you live in a beautiful country town with so much locally grown and farmed produce on your doorstep) and make my own foods from scratch. Muffins, cakes, slices, breads, stocks, broths etc. Where I can't make my own, I try to buy organic and read the ingredients for nasty additive numbers and sugar levels. It may take a little longer, but this is a much more mindful way of eating and ultimately is more enjoyable and healing for the body.

Here is my top 5 Inspiring Food Sites:

Real Food Revival

Well Nourished

Wholefood Mama

Kris Carr

Whole Food Simply

Clear your mind. Make a cup of tea, sit down with a pen and paper and visit these sites. Read, explore and make a list of recipes and ingredients and ideas that appeal to you and your family and make a plan for a more mindful approach to eating. 

I must also make a mention that I visit Jamie Oliver often too. 

Nic Nurtures

Friday, 24 April 2015

5 Easy Ways to Nurture Yourself when Living with Pain

There is nothing like a bout of chronic pain to knock you to the ground and darken your days. My recent flare up of sciatic pain from a disc bulge in my lower back has been nothing but debilitating, physically and mentally. And anyone could forgive me for feeling a bit down or being a little more sensitive and easily irritated. 

Pain sucks. It literally robs you from your ability to enjoy life. It sits there, niggling, poking it's tongue at you, jaunting and jeering as it take over, making you feel heavy, weary, drained of energy and sad about all the things it prevents you from doing. But thats only if you let it. You see, pain is actually a mind game. It is a safety mechanism that our clever bodies developed as part of our 'fight or flight' reaction to stress. 

Internally, physically, I have a disc bulge with in my lumber and sacral area. This impinges on the nerve root of the sciatic nerve, which in turn creates muscle tension throughout all the muscles in my glutes. This then sends a message to my brain which creates the pain sensation, further increasing tightness in those muscles, which creates more pressure on the sciatic nerve and sends the message to the brain creating pain. Its a bit of a cycle. On days that it feels unbearable, it gets you down emotionally. And this in turn makes everything else that little bit harder. 

It amazes me to think that their are so many people in our world who live with chronic pain, far worse than mine. People put up with and tolerate to some extent varying levels of pain and discomfort, consuming high quantities of non steroidal antiinflamatories, and possibly developing habits of comfort - eating, drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. Medicine is a wonderful thing. It can help cure diseases and relieve the symptoms of pain, but often it is merely providing a bandaid solution.

After my last visit to the GP and then Chiropractor, I was feeling pretty low as it had been suggested that surgery may be the best option for me, considering my career as a Massage Therapist. After I got over myself and the initial shock of this news, I decided that that was not going to be the case for me. There has to be a better way. I felt nothing but gratitude for my body for giving me this opportunity to grow and learn. And so I started a journey of reading books on metaphysics and Angel Cards, and learning about Flower Essences and Essential Oils. I listened to podcasts about tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique. I've always believed in the power of the mind, we can choose what we want to be true for ourselves. 

I came to realise that I felt stressed. Yes there was the stress of living with pain, but there was also an underlying stress, one that I had been living with for sometime. The stress of my running massage business whilst on maternity leave, and the fact that ever since the baby was born nearly a year ago, I'd been feeling indecisive about whether I should keep it going or try to sell it. I knew that I needed to release this stress in order to be able to remain calm in my mind to heal the physical injury in my back. 

Fortunately, an exceptional Remedial Massage Therapist came my way and was hired immediately. Her positivity and passion for manual therapies matched mine and renewed my own passion. Suddenly I became a mentor, and my decision was made to continue to growing a sustainable business. And I am now back in practice one day a week which feels great! However, my body was still harbouring the effects of the mental stress of the past year and the physical stress of my injury.

With the boys back at school on Monday, I made an effort to mediate when the baby had her morning sleep. I packed away the Easter seasonal table display and in it's place I created an intention alter with crystals, buddha, family photos, symbols of health and prosperity, abundance. I lit a candle and cleared my mind. I focused my thoughts and energy on visualising my abundant healthy happy life.

5 Easy Ways to Nurture Yourself 

1. Juicing - drink a daily juice made with fruits and vegetables that have anti inflammatory, healing properties. I've been drinking beetroot, cucumber, celery, pineapple and ginger.

2. Keep up with exercise. Even if you are feeling pain and limited movement, it is so important to keep the body moving. I have been doing specific back strengthening exercises that were prescribed for me, but also engaging in Feldenkrais. I love the philosophy of this movement therapy and the gentle nature of moving. It has helped me immensely.

3. Meditate - this is so important. Just sit comfortably in a chair or lay on the ground and breathe, deliberate, full breaths. 5 minutes of being still can change your whole day. 

4. Try Tapping - I recently listed to a live Tapping stream on Hay House Radio. I decided to join in and found that it actually started to work! So amazed I was by this, I looked up the hosts web site and found The Tapping Solution. I've been practising this daily in the shower. 

5. Water - it is important to stay hydrated, as this will help to keep your body functioning well, especially your muscles and joints. It also makes sense to me to drink water to help put out the fire or cool down the inflammation. 

These are just 5 Easy and practically FREE ways to nurture yourself when living with pain. The important thing about these nurturing ways is that it is easy to incorporate all or just a couple of these into your daily life. You will begin to experience a greater sense of calm, which, can only decrease your pain and increase your quality of life.

Nic Nurtures

Sunday, 12 April 2015

ten on ten: april

April Days
Autumn afternoons at the beach
Cool mornings at the park, nature spotting, fun playing
The days are shorter, the rain is coming.
School holidays, cubby creating...pallet up cycling.

more ten on ten here

Nic Nurtures

Friday, 10 April 2015

A return to me

It's been another long pause between posts. So much has been happening. It is a busy life being a mother of three children. My baby is one in about 6 weeks. My big boy twelve in four months. Time sure has sped up, but some days it stands still. 

My head has been a whirl since school went back in February, and I haven't felt the energy to post or write. With March coming to an end, summer fading off into the distance and term one finishing, I've begun to feel a shift, a return to me. 

It's funny how the baby fog begins to lift around that nine to ten months of age. Baby P is so much more interactive and fun exploring the world around her. She eats more than she breastfeeds and attends day care one half day a week. I've managed to get back into my massage studio and work! It is such a lovely feeling to connect with my clients again on the table. It is refreshing to remember why I massage people and to experience a renewed energy in the direction of my life and career.

My phone has been playing up recently. The battery goes flat almost every time I use social media apps. This is not such a bad thing, and I am taking it as a sign that it was time to loosen my attachment to my phone. I leave my phone on charge on the bench during the day. This has minimised my time spent checking and looking and checking and photographing all day long. I am being mindful.

A gifted new journal and set of pens has been getting a work out instead. Each day I find a moment to stop and write. It might be a list, or musing, a sketch or day dream. It doesn't matter what, just as long as I journal. I've been journalling on and off since I was about 17 and I have always found it to be so therapeutic and helpful in releasing blocks in my life. 

It has been my wish, since that first journal entry 20 years ago, to write - articles, books, websites, coaching, holistic thinking. Writing for me is intuitive and creative and something that is not necessarily planned. I find that once I put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, it just flows. 

Autumn is my favourite season, the cooler mornings, warm sunny afternoons at the beach, the changing of the leaves and the trees. I love it, it feels like a return to me. 

Nic Nurtures x

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Importance of Self Care

Self care means different things to different people. I'm pretty good with my own Self Care. I nourish my body with good foods. I get regular massage treatments. I try to go to bed early and I've become really good at saying "No." 

But a recent acute injury has left me questioning the depth of my Self Care, and the strength of my will and stubbornness.

As mothers, we tend to power on and put ourselves at the very end of the line, allowing our offspring and partners to step forward and get nurtured first.

About 10 weeks ago, I noticed a tightness in my left hip, right on my sitting bones. I would feel it as I went out walking with the pram (part of my Self Care). As a Massage Therapist of 15 years, I know about tight muscles, and went about stretching and using my foam roller and spiky ball to massage out the knots. 

Being a Massage Therapist of 15 years, I know too much, and spent too much time self treating the muscles in my hip. Which made it worse. So I got some Chiropractic care, which helped somewhat and continued on pushing through the pain. The pain and weakness in my hip, was steadily getting worse. But my stubborn self said, It was ok. Just keep up with remedial massage, walking and stretching. Go, go, go. In time it will get better. 
Well, in time, it got worse, WAY worse. Especially if I had moderate periods of standing. I couldn't stand upright by the end of the day. My lower back would go into spasm and I began to experience sciatic type pain, shooting down my buttocks, hip, thighs and calves. But alas, I powered on. 

After an intense remedial massage and chiro treatment, I went home and decided everything needed a really good stretch, followed by a brisk walk. WRONG! Oh so wrong. what I need to do was rest. The following day I was in excrutiating pain. A couple of ibuprofen and a goodnights sleep would do the trick I thought. But no, this did not help, and then I drove for 3 hours in the car to the city with the 3 kids in the back, as Junior Hoges had a cricket camp. That week, my pain was intense. I had three natural drug free labours and deliveries and this was a thousand times worse. But I still refused to take myself off to the GP. My stubborn self decided I knew best and could rest it off.

Every time I walked I was in pain. Pick up the baby, pain. drive the car, pain. I now have a new founded appreciation for chronic pain sufferers, for whilst I was experiencing an acute flare up of sciatic pain, my condition was chronic. It had been ongoing for 10 weeks or more and slowly getting worse. I made the decision to meditate, begin very gentle Feldenkrais exercises and get myself to Dr as soon as we got back from the city. 

The meditation and Feldkrais helped. The pain began to ease, and with the help of regularly icing the area in my hip, the inflammation went down. I was able to reflect and see that my stubbornness had prevented me from being truly Self Caring. I went to the Dr, got a scan and some strong pain killers and anti inflammatory medication. The sciatic pain has almost somewhat subsided and I have a physio appointment next week to treat the muscle imbalance in my pelvis and start working on strengthening my pelvic floor and core. Twice a day I lay on my yoga mat and go through my Feldenkrais sequence. I rest when I can and ask for help with lifting the baby where I can. Junior has been a big help. He is old enough to wear Baby P in the Ergo and helps with getting her in and out of the car. I've stopped my self treatments and packed away the foam roller and spiky ball. I might try a gentle walk on the weekend, if my hip feels ok. 

Self care is SO important for your health and wellbeing. Listening to your body is part of self care. I am grateful for the pain and restriction I have recently experienced, as it has given me a timely reminder that I need to look after myself more so that I can look after others. 

Here is the link to the Feldenkrais exercises that I now use everyday as part of my Self Care. 

Nic Nurtures