6 things we can learn from Maya Angelou

Many people had never heard of Maya Angelou until her passing earlier last year. Yet she was a woman who spoke her mind and turned the adversity she faced throughout her life into a catalogue of insightful, inspirational commentaries to encourage and bring positivity to others.

There are simply too many of her quotes that I take inspiration from to list here, but I’ve managed to shortlist just 6 to share with you today.

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‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’

We are under so much pressure to conform in this life. If we stand out or are different, we are ostracised and singled out, we are ‘wrong’ somehow. But what is ‘normal’? We are all different. Plus, conventions are different no matter where you go – and everyone can ‘fit in’ – you just have to find like-minded people. What is ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ in one country or one era differs from one to the next – doesn’t that show that none of us are ‘wrong’? Trying to be someone else wastes everything that’s good about you; and prevents you from reaching your full potential.

‘You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.’

It’s easy to see one more negative thing at the end of a string of unfortunate events as the ‘last straw’. But think back now to something which at the time was equally as challenging – chances are you feel fine about it now, and possibly can even laugh about it. Part of life, and individual aspects of life, is dealing with the downs as well as the ups. Without the downs, there wouldn’t be any ups! And allowing yourself to go through them and deal with them means you can enjoy the ups even more.

‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’

I often say that perspective is everything. This quote is very black and white – most of the time if we are stressed over something, chances are we can’t change it – that’s why we’re stressed. Especially if we have control issues.  

Often the worst things that happen to us are blessings (wearing a very good disguise!) and with a bit of reflection we can find something good in them. As human beings we are fighters, we rarely accept defeat. It’s this dogged determination that keeps us ploughing on. And how do we do that? We adopt a different attitude, see the positives and continue.

‘If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.’

It’s easy to reserve the best side of ourselves for strangers, taking out our anger and frustration on our loved ones because they are there for us unconditionally. These people are there for you no matter what – they won’t judge you for how you treat them, but think about the effect it has on them. They deserve your kindness – and whilst of course it’s important (and sometimes imperative) to spend energy on people we dislike or who don’t deserve it, make sure you reserve at least a little bit for the best people in your life.

‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely acknowledge the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’

Success doesn’t come overnight. Our society with its vacuous celebrity culture perpetuates the mistaken view that quite simply and with little talent or experience each one of us can be destined for great things. But it’s simply not true.

Each one of us has experienced our own struggle – even the ones who appear to have ‘made it’ have bad days and good days. We need to praise people for their achievements but also ask them: ‘What have you gone through to achieve this?’ Recognise that nobody is perfect, and behind every success there have often been hardships, failure and missed opportunities along the way.

In addition the more good you have and in being successful, the more you lose sight of how lucky you are and become greedy for more – that’s why gratitude is so important.

‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.’

Everything ‘negative’ that happens takes a little piece of us, sets us back a little bit. But often in time we replace that little piece which allows us to grow and move on. I think this is just a little reminder that we can and should learn and grow from bad experiences, rather than be reduced little by little to eventually be broken down by life.

It’s very much easier said than done – however I genuinely believe that it can be achieved with a shift in perspective.

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What’s your favourite Maya Angelou quote? (If you can pick just one!)

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review – Primal Kitchen

primalkitchenbarsThere was a time when the only wholesome, natural, not-filled-with-crap snack on the market was a Nakd bar (and even then you’d be lucky to find them in a supermarket of any insignificant size!) – but now there is a huge range of raw, natural snack bars on offer to keep you full and happy and satisfy afternoon sweet cravings or serve as an impromptu breakfast. They’re all free from refined sugars, chemicals, preservatives or artificial sweeteners; best thing for me is, most of them are gluten free (yay!) and for the lactose-intolerant some are also dairy free.

I found Primal Kitchen bars difficult to resist when I came across on particular flavour, cherry and brazil nut. Two of my favourite foods!  A substantial-sized bar too, not at all skimpy on content and packed with good energy. They’re a fab snack but I also think they’d be good for breakfast on the go. I normally have a mix of hazelnuts, coconut, chopped dates and berries for breakfast so in fairness, it’s basically a more portable version of what I usually have!

Sweet and satisfying and full of lovely chunks of brazil nuts – totally in love. As I say, I love brazil nuts, they’re one of my favourites. I’ll eat them raw on their own but sometimes it is nice to have a variation (other than having them with raw chocolate) and this was a really pleasant departure from what I’m used to. I’ll definitely be purchasing the coconut and macadamia version (I LOVE coconut and macadamias) but there’s hazelnut and cocoa and almond and cashew, too.

I think wholesome, natural convenience food is getting better and better as the months go on and I’m really excited to try more. Seen anything you think I should try? Give me a shout!

Rose xx

The Generation Gap  – how and why do expectations differ?

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‘Life begins just outside your comfort zone’

For a twenty- or thirty- something in today’s society, there are a heck of a lot of pressures and stresses which seem only to have transpired in the last 10 years. Is it technology? Feminism? The economy?

As I have spoken about in ‘You can’t do it all’, women are expected to be and do lots of different things, all to a high standard. Yet we can’t do all of these things – at least not all of them very well. None of us are superhuman.

When I look at my parents and speak to them about their own experiences, I see stark differences worlds apart from even the chasm between their generation and that of their own parents.

In the 1980’s (which wasn’t THAT long ago), women still trailed behind men considerably in the workplace and in education. In schools, there was still a tendency to encourage girls to do subjects such as home economics and boys to do woodwork. Whilst many shunned the norm and set us on a path to where we are today, many women did just as their own mothers had done; met someone at school, had children, bought a house and became a housewife.

Nowadays, women (and men) of our generation are told they can ‘be whoever they want to be’. We are all talented, we can all do whatever we wish to do – we just have to believe and work hard and we will succeed. An increasingly materialistic society has only been encouraged by social media, upon which we are assaulted by an onslaught of photographs depicting luxury resorts, fast cars and millionaire beach houses.

What’s the problem with this? Well, it’s unrealistic. We can’t all be successful. There are always people at the top of the pile, people at the bottom, and people in between. Telling people they can all be successful and have potential if they work hard is really an untruth – hard work doesn’t always equate to financial abundance. There are other factors such as luck, economy and skill, and of course what you choose to go into.

If a woman is seen to be dependent on a man, or looking for a man to ‘settle down with’, she is looked upon with a certain level of disdain by today’s society. Where’s the ambition? How dare she expect a man to share his fortunes with her? Why can’t she or doesn’t she have her own?

I myself am fiercely self-sufficient, and I often find myself harbouring the same views on other girls who tell me it is their ambition to ‘find someone rich to marry’. Yet I also find myself struggling to afford the lifestyle society tells me I should have (and am entitled to) as single woman. If I focus solely on my career, I can’t have an amazing body because I have no time or energy for the gym. I can’t go out every week because I am knackered. Yet if I don’t focus on my career, I could keep up an unsustainable party lifestyle on a low wage for an inordinate amount of time but then where would that leave me? I’d have all sorts of memories, but I’d also be 30 and still living with my parents. Something I very much wish to avoid.

‘Life is for living’, yes, but how? And isn’t that often motivated by what we want but dictated by what we need? A difficult balance to achieve, if you ask me.

I think the important thing to remember is that whilst a lot is expected of us from many different parties (parents, friends, partners, work, society), all that really matters is our own personal happiness. Your instincts and personal preferences dictate what you really want in life – and even though it’s scary to take a leap of faith (especially when everyone is categorically telling you it’s a bad idea) regretting not taking a chance is much worse than ‘failing’ (as I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as failure!) The best things are apparently ‘outside our comfort zone’ – yet our comfort zone is exactly that – a protective bubble which we place around ourselves for a reason.

This is something I am convincing myself of at the moment. I think we all are! I know it is true – but risk-taking really is scary and I understand that.  Watch this space as I travel out of my comfort zone to see what’s really out there and prove it’s not as scary as we all think!

Rose xx

Wholesome Food Review: Pukka Vanilla Chai

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I’m a little divided when it comes to herbal teas. Some I taste and I am absolutely in love – others I feel I’m ingesting an unpleasant hot potion similar to the kind Harry Potter drinks to turn into another person!

So, I can certainly recognise that herbal tea is not for everyone, or at least that there may be likes and dislikes when it comes to tea.

This tea however is like a big warm hug. It’s just the right amount of spicy cinnamon and warming vanilla. I actually think this tea is sweet enough on its own but I reckon it would be really nice with a little honey or agave. Even a touch of milk, although I’ve yet to try this! It infuses really well too – I left the tea bag in and it didn’t go too strong yet when I took my first sip it wasn’t weak or watery either.

I’m going to try some more Pukka teas – so let me know your thoughts or if there are any you’d like me to review!

Rose xx

How to eat well – frugally

fruit-and-veg2-534x356In my post on 13th January, I discuss the expense of living and eating well.

Here are my top tips on eating ‘clean’ and nutritiously on a tighter budget.

  1. Shop Local. I’m not talking about these fancy ‘farm shops’ where a raspberry meringue sets you back £3 (although I do LOVE wasting money in those places). Most people think that going to your local grocer, butcher or fishmonger is expensive in comparison to the supermarket but often they are surprisingly competitive – don’t forget they now have to compete with the price wars going on at top level to keep local custom. You also have the added advantage of the produce being locally sourced and often organic, even if it is not advertised as such. Delicatessens stocking local cold meats and cheeses are also fab – there’s a lot of fairly-priced artisan food out there nowadays which is sourced right here in the UK.
  2. Look Online. Brands stocked in Holland and Barrett, Tesco and Win Naturally are mostly available online for a reduced price or in wholesale packs (ebay is good for this). Often if you place a large order you also get free delivery, so it’s win-win. The internet is also fab for buying dried fruit and raw nuts, which are frankly extortionate at the supermarket and only ever come in tiny bags! Specialist foods such as gluten free flours, oils and natural sugar alternatives are also more readily available.
  3. Buy in Bulk. Whether that’s through a mail order meat site such as Muscle Food or through your local butcher, as I say in my post about prep if you are lucky enough to have the freezer space, it’s easier (and cheaper) to think ahead and stock up with a lot of food at once. It will keep fresh and you can get excellent quality meat and fish at much lower prices when you buy a lot of it.
  4. Don’t discount Aldi and Lidl. So many more people are latching on to the Aldi and Lidl frenzy now but there are still many who are slightly sceptical when it comes to buying produce. I buy loads of basics (such as oats, unsalted butter, whole milk) from Aldi; but it’s also great for genuine specialist continental foods such as big juicy olives, rich cheeses and spicy meats. The fruit and veg is cheap as chips and they’ve even started an organic range now which unsurprisingly is also perfectly priced. Both Lidl and Aldi also do a great range of raw nuts – Lidl even has a ‘pick n mix nut bar’ where you can choose your own.

All in all, eating naturally will always cost you a little more than if you relied on processed foods. However if you can afford it, the benefits are incredible. Your body is your most precious asset!! I hope that this post demonstrates that it can be done on a budget.

Any more ideas I have missed on living and eating well frugally? Share them here!

Rose  xx

Wholesome Food Review – Lick Frozen Yoghurt

It’s still pretty chilly, yet who doesn’t fancy a bowl of ice cream now and again?

Previously there was nothing on the market if you wanted a cool sweet treat without eating a load of sugar and/or preservatives. A truly nutritious, healthy sweet treat was non-existent.

Say hello to Lick – which I found to my delight in my nearest Sainsbury’s Local last summer. Whilst the rest of the office were tucking into ice-cream, I happily opened the lid on two little pots of frozen joy – one Blueberry and Raspberry, one Banana and Honey. Each was so sweet and yummy – and had the perfect taste and consistency. I was full from eating the 2 little pots as well, which is likely down to the protein in the natural yoghurt used as a base for these tasty little desserts.

So why are these better for you than conventional frozen yoghurt?

Well frozen yoghurt, contrary to popular belief, is generally not that good for you. Whilst it may be ‘0% fat’, as with most ‘health foods’ sporting this claim, the lack of fat is made up for with copious amounts of much more unhealthy sugar.

Lick frozen yoghurts however are different – they are 100% natural and are sweetened with beet sugar and honey, plus of course the sweetness you get from the fruit. This means guilt-free, tongue-happy and body-friendly snacking, which is you ask me is a winner whether it’s scorching hot or freezing cold outside!! They’re available in Plain, Banana and Honey, Blueberry and Raspberry and Strawberry and Elderflower flavours.

Have you tried Lick? Let me know your thoughts!

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Rose xx