Face Hugger

Face Hugger

I thought I’d share a funny memory with you today. For no other reason than it makes me laugh whenever I remember it.

It was 1991. I was doing my A levels (Music, Literature and Art in case you were wondering) and I had not yet seen Aliens. In case that tidbit gets you wondering too – that’s Aliens with a big A. To clarify, I hadn’t knowingly seen aliens with a little a either. Still haven’t. But I digress.

I was persuaded to watch the film Aliens at a friends house. I did not enjoy it. Not. One. Bit.

Afterwards, lights were turned on and jokes were made and I was driven home to my parents house – my parents and siblings were away at the time. My fear levels were still through the roof. My friend kindly walked me through my garden and waited for me to lock the door behind me.

Were there any aliens in the house? Unlikely, but I turned every single light on and checked anyway.

Nothing.

I got ready for bed and read art history notes for an hour. If nothing else was going to calm me down, surely this would do the trick?

Nope.

With my heart still flipping around like a fortune teller fish I checked the house again. Still nothing so I turned off most, but not all of the lights. Trying hard to think of something else, indeed anything else, I eventually fell asleep in the early hours.

If you’ve ever had a cat then you’ll know how they can often have a sick sense of humour. Kit, our vicious and smelly tabby was maybe more developed in this area than most. He would have been better named Git.

Reader. On this night. Of all nights. While I was finally fast asleep. The cat jumped on my face.

Yes I sat up screaming and yes I threw him across the room. I think I was justified.

Advertisements
Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness

#AutismAwarenessMonth – a.k.a April – is a tricky one for many autistic people as commercial autism charities bombard social media with publicity stunts to raise awareness of autism prevention-and-cure research fundraising opportunities. Sadly this publicity is very rarely generated by autistic people themselves, but by parents who fear autism itself, and by profit led autism charities with interests that lie in research and autism training that rarely benefits and in fact often harms autistic people.

Somehow I missed all of this hype until two years ago.

And then my life took an unexpected turn.

During Autism Awareness Month 2016 a Standard Issue article by the fantastic Sarah Hendrickx ended up in my twitter feed. And it was about being an autistic woman.

I read it through several times. What Sarah had written resonated strongly with me. Which was odd because I wasn’t autistic. Her experiences were normal weren’t they? Same for everyone? No?

I did a bit of googling. Did a few online tests. Googled some more. Hmmm….

My parents kindly offered to pay for me to get a private assessment and within three weeks I had a diagnosis. I was autistic too!

And then everything got a little bit crazy. A diagnosis at 43 means replacing the filter through which you have interpreted your entire life thus far. It means going deep. It means sifting through every memory you have of situations or conversations that didn’t make sense, of relationships that didn’t work, of having to behave in a way that was entirely confusing to you, of breakdowns, meltdowns and shutdowns; of the accusations of being stupid, lazy, uncaring or being over-dramatic; of trying to fit in and failing; of being tired all the damn time, of having your meltdowns used against you, of being laughed at and talked about for saying or doing things that you didn’t know were “wrong,” of not understanding people, having your natural stims laughed at, of being blamed for not-reaching-your-potential and of wondering why *everyone* seemed to be able to navigate bright lights, loud noises, extremes in temperature and crowds of people except you. It means re-writing your entire life story from the perspective of the person hidden so deeply under a facade of who-other-people-wanted-you-to-be that you didn’t even know who you were yourself – to the perspective of the person you were actually born to be.

That’s quite a lot to process.

But the last two years have been incredible. My relatively newfound Autism Awareness has meant that I have now made friends that truly get me, that I don’t have to mask with, and that communication with is startlingly and naturally easy. It has meant that I gained the confidence to jack in the job that made me ill and return to my passion: health and nutrition. It meant that I have been able to work with autistic clients to elevate their own emotional and physical wellbeing – to be thriving autists rather than surviving autists. And that I am now able to give workshops in alleviating stress levels for autistic people. Autism Awareness has meant that I have learned to forgive myself for all the things that I thought were signs of being massively inadequate and to begin to appreciate my own unique skills and attributes.

How do *you* become autism aware? You learn from autistic people! You read books and blogs by autistic people. You attend conferences and workshops or watch videos presented by autistic people. You take the time to listen to your autistic friend, child, student or co-worker without judgement, embarrassment, interruption or preconceptions.

And, if you are autistic yourself? Let’s flood the hashtag with our own Autism Awareness! Elevate the autistic voices with recognition, with love and with joy.

Happy Autism Awareness Month my friends! xx

If you are interested in the workshops that I offer please click here.

If you are interested in health and nutrition coaching with me please click here.

Free eBook!

Free eBook!

Hello lovelies!

March was a busy month… I don’t know if you are familiar with Chinese Five Elements theory, but Spring is governed by the element Wood, which is characterised by upward moving energy – rather like a sapling growing fast in pursuit of sunlight. Well, my creative and planning energy is quickly rising along with that metaphorical tree growth and I’m finding that my health and nutrition coaching practice is taking on a life of its own right now! There are a number of projects that I’ll be able to tell you about over the next few months, but for now – these are some of the things that I got up to during March:

But, maybe rather more excitingly, I wrote my first ever eBook, a freebie (a freebE-book?!) on how to get a good night’s sleep! In it I talk about the reasons you (or your partner or your kids etc.) aren’t sleeping and then provide some easy to follow solutions. And, bonus treat, there are some rather pretty pictures too! Do let me know how you get on! You can tweet me, catch me on instagram or you can email me.

SIGN UP FOR “HOW TO SLEEP” HERE!

Chocolate Nut Muffins

Chocolate Nut Muffins

Today is snow. Heavy snow. I’m kind of over snow to be honest. It’s very pretty but, you know, COLD. I learned a new word today (thanks Twitter!): the Icelandic term: GLUGGAVEÐUR  or “window weather.” Weather that looks lovely from inside your house but is horrible to be outside in. I think that sums it up quite nicely. Our household is the kind of household that is stocked with good coffee and organic food at all times, but lacks things like a working boiler or any kind of insulation. So I am sitting and shivering here at the laptop wearing an insane amount of clothes, but with a full and warm belly.

I wasn’t planning to blog anything today but I promised Sas from the awesome Courage & Spice podcast (have a listen – it’s just lovely) a recipe for these gluten and dairy free muffins so here we are! If you’ve got the ingredients in stock you could be warming your own belly with these in under forty minutes – are you ready? GO!

Preheat the oven to 180c while you combine 200g cashew butter (you can use peanut butter if that’s what you have in), two eggs, 75g soft dark sugar and 50g chopped dark chocolate. Then stir in 200ml of nut milk (yep – dairy milk works fine here too – I just had some almond milk to use up.)

Combine 280g self-raising gluten-free flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and then lightly stir it into the gloopy cashew nut butter mixture. Don’t over stir or you’ll end up with rubbery muffins. Eew!

Put generous dollops of mixture into 12 muffin cases or silicon moulds and bake for 25 minutes. By the time you’ve washed up, cleaned up and made a pot of coffee they’ll be all steamily warm and delicious. You might even get to remove just one of your jumpers. Maybe…

 

How Not to Prepare for a Meeting…

How Not to Prepare for a Meeting…

On Monday morning I had a meeting. A meeting for some potential freelance work that I really wanted. An informal chat with somebody I knew enough about via social media to already know that she was lovely. Two short bus rides to get there. The promise of coffee at the other end. Easy right?

Generally it’s good to be clear what your mission is before having a meeting. But because I wasn’t entirely sure what the meeting was going to be about (no scripting – yikes!) I decided that all I could focus on was how I presented myself. I wanted to appear calm and confident; and I wanted to exude a natural inner glow. So this is how I prepped, autistic style*…

Sunday morning

  1. Decide, half way through washing up the breakfast pots, that I urgently need to cut my hair. Hack off a good three inches over the bathroom sink. Realise I’ve been a bit overenthusiastic with the layering and that I will have to straighten the hell out of it for a few weeks while hair calms down. Good start Flo, good start!
  2. Feel the need to neaten up eyebrows. Pluck. Pluck some more. Finish washing up. Pluck even more…
  3. Now that I’m up close and personal with the mirror (which I usually avoid) I note a few inconspicuous blackheads. Do the only rational thing – pick the hell out of them and so leave conspicuous craters in my face.

Sunday night

  1. Wonder what kind of bus ticket I need to ask for. I don’t know. Try to script pithiest question I can for bus driver considering I don’t know what I’m asking for. Fall asleep still worrying about this.

Monday morning

  1. Get family all sorted and off to school for the day.
  2. Sit on bed trying to figure out what order to get ready in and what bus ticket to ask for.
  3. Get dressed.
  4. Try to cover up the craters I made in my face the day before – without much success.
  5. Spend ages straightening my hair as the layers have sprung up overnight so much that I look like I have stuck my fingers in a live socket.
  6. Make several attempts at drawing back eyebrows until they vaguely resemble actual eyebrows again.
  7. Note that it is raining very heavily outside, meaning that points 4-6 will have been a waste of time before I even arrive at meeting.
  8. Change outfit for the day. First one wasn’t warm enough.
  9. Clean bathroom thoroughly in case I don’t survive bus journey and strangers see grubby sink. You never know…
  10. Realise that I am running out of time if I am to get the bus before the one I actually need to get in order that I am not, under any circumstance, late.
  11. Change outfit again for the day. Second one looked weird.
  12. Make a note of earlier points in order that I will remember and be able to write this post later in week.
  13. Text my friend Rhi because I can’t figure out what to eat for breakfast and I still don’t know what bus ticket I need to ask for. These are tricky questions for her to answer as she a) does not know what food I have in my house and b) has never bought a bus ticket in the Bristol area before because she lives and drives in Wales.
  14. Dump contents of bag all over table in order to run through checklist: charged phone, headphones (last time I forgot these on the bus I nearly cried for the whole journey), essential oil roller (because bus smells make me nauseous), sunglasses (it is dark and rainy but I sometimes need them to dull visual distractions), house key, blue biro (because black biros are weird), wallet, money. Put it all back in. Pour it all back out again to check. Repack.
  15. Put on boots.
  16. Change outfit again. Third one didn’t work with boots.
  17. Breathe. Ground myself. Berate myself for not doing this earlier.
  18. Run for bus, checking bag constantly to make sure I still have phone, headphones and money. Worry about what ticket to ask for while I wait ten minutes for the bus.
  19. Forget scripted question and babble incoherently at bus driver who kindly figures out ticket for me and helps me with card payment because I can’t work out machine.
  20. Panic for entire journey and arrive with a full fifteen minutes to spare.
  21. Take deep breath, knock on door, smile and do my best impression of a calm and composed person.

Anyway. My meeting with the very lovely Lizzie went well and as a result I have, this week, been recipe developing for State of Liberty’s wonderful online wellbeing retreats – Huzzah!

I think it will be a while before I go to another meeting though…

*I do know that many people who are not autistic prepare for events in a similar way. That’s ok. You are in good company!

The Epic Fantasy Quester’s Guide to Extreme Health!

The Epic Fantasy Quester’s Guide to Extreme Health!

My favourite works of fiction, the pieces I return to again and again to escape from the stresses and the anxieties of mortgage payments, social media bombardment and noisy police sirens, are invariably the long and multi-volume tales of Epic Fantasy novels (usually lent or given to me by my father @calmgrove.) You know the general plotline – young protagonist gets plucked from obscurity to fulfil their destiny on a long quest of hardship across many and varied lands while meeting wise folk who support them in discovering their unique powers and challenging the entire balance of the (fictional) world they live in. (Apologies for that ridiculously long sentence there!)

I have realised recently that my love of these books have actually helped shape many of my health philosophies! This may seem odd – I am qualified in nutritional therapy after all – but, when you finish laughing (it’s ok, I don’t mind) please hear me out…

Our heroes (both female and male; and generally at least part human) do not acquire their powers without a significant amount of multi-terrain and multi-climate walking, climbing and riding; while carrying heavy packs, learning to wield swords or crossbows; bathing in icy lakes, sleeping on the ground, and spending many hours in direct sunlight without sunblock. Find me better ways to build muscle, stamina and immunity and I’ll eat my (wizards) hat! Air conditioned gyms have nothing on the training conditions on mountains, and in broiling deserts, swamps, forests and underground caves!

If you want to develop a strong, athletic physique with superhuman stamina worthy of taking any voyage of hardship across the varied landscapes of Tolkien‘s infamous Middle Earth, Croggon‘s utterly brilliant Pellinor or any other fantabulous worlds dreamed up by the likes of Le Guin, McKillip or Eddings then Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement, Erwan Le Corre of MovNat, Wim Hof of the Wim Hof Method and Mark Sisson of marksdailyapple have all written eloquently and extensively on the benefits of all things outdoorsy-and-becoming-superhuman. I am a huge fan of all these health pioneers, albeit largely from the comfort of my sofa. And if I had to go on a legendary quest I would totally seek each of these wise teachers out for my training!

But my area of expertise is that of nutrition. What do our heroes eat on their extreme expeditions when they aren’t on an HGF (human-growth-factor) stimulating fast and missing out on both first and second breakfasts? They stop at good inns for herb-infused rich stews of meat and vegetables or bad inns for stews of collagen-rich gristly meat and vegetables – Paleo enthusiasts eat your (organic and pasture raised) hearts out! Kindly allies, from kings to farmers treat our weary travellers to (sourdough) bread with fresh salted butter and fragrant raw honey served with creamy raw goats milk. Artisanal produced beer and wine flows aplenty All the phytonutrient, probiotic and enzyme rich simple rustic fare you could wish for.

Every time our protagonists reach ports or fishing villages they get to top up their omega 3s with fresh grilled and salted fish stuffed with leafy herbs and citrus fruit slices; and at most other towns they fill their travelling packs with protein-rich dried meat, handfuls of (non GMO) grain and beans (for making soup on hastily assembled campfires obvs) and black bread (probably rye sourdough.) En route through woods they supplement with foraged nuts and berries or bring down small game to appease their hunger and requirements for essential A, D and K2 vitamins.

Even the desserts served in desert tents are super healthy – I think you can take it as read that the (seasonal) fruit will not have been heavily sprayed with glycophosphate or the sweetmeats fried in hydrogenated vegetable fats and drowned in high fructose corn syrups… Everything sings of fresh, organic, pesticide-free and un-processed fare; and I have yet to read of a quester packing tubs of protein shakes, cartons of low fat margarines, shrink-wrapped iceberg lettuces, tetra-packs of soya milk or blister packs of budget multivitamins? That would be weird right?

And do our travellers stress about the lack of wifi connection or bemoan missing their latest legal-thriller series while they sing ballads and tell of thousand year old prophesies by a crackling fire? Do they wish for fire-retardant sprayed armchairs, plastic kettles, mass produced artwork and laminate floors when they stay in stone castles filled with rough-hewn oak, hand-blown glass and crafted precious metals; finely illustrated books of leather and parchment; tapestry lined walls, scented linen sheets and fur rugs. Do we pity them their few-and-far-between hot baths filled with herbs, salts and essential oils when we daily lather up with the sulphate ridden contents of plastic bottles behind our nylon shower curtains; or feel relief that we have access to acrylic jumpers and lycra leggings over the made-to-measure sumptuous silks, supple leathers and rich velvets that are laid out for the adventurer before a feast of exquisitely roasted meats and vegetables? I am inclined to think not.

And I know that however much we sympathise with the hardships of that monumental rite-of passage-traveller – the long periods of training, trudging, starvation, fighting, despair, frustration, loneliness and near-death experiences – there are many of us that suspect that this epic-fantasy boot-camp lifestyle might just be worthwhile if those trials shaped us into lean, invincible, sword and magic wielding warriors who are destined to have many-versed musical sagas sung about us for all eternity.

I think there is a health and lifestyle book to be written here. Hell, I’d buy it! But, in the meantime I reckon that many health questions can be simplified into “would (insert your favourite Epic Fantasy Hero here) eat, do or have it?” Ask yourself next time you are unsure about your next diet, fitness or lifestyle purchase or decision and see if you come up with a better option. Let me know…

If you would like to read my monthly health newsletter (which, as yet, is not based on fantasy fiction novels) then please sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/a223a64be201/newsletter-signup

My Brand New Newsletter and Some Spring Veggies!

My Brand New Newsletter and Some Spring Veggies!

Despite the “Beast from the East” plunging the UK back into sub-zero temperatures with its best attempts to fool us into thinking that Winter will be with us for a bit longer – there are signs that tell us otherwise! Can you feel that change? It’s more than the increased daylight hours and more than the daffodils raising their heads above ground. It’s that whisper in your ear to yawn and stretch; to rub the sleep from your eyes and to figure out what to do and where to go today. It’s your creativity starting to resurface after a sleepy hibernation; the desire to start new projects, flex those muscles and to reassert your place in the world.

And with that creative Spring energy in mind I have finally planned and created my first newsletter! It will be a monthly affair; if you sign up you should receive some combination of seasonal health and nutrition tips and a few of my musings and witterings on the first of each month. There will be occasional discounts for my coaching or detox course; easy recipes and answers to any questions that readers might like to send.

If you would like to sign up please  CLICK HERE!

But, in the meantime I thought that you might like some inspiration for how to prepare some of the Spring vegetables that are turning up in veggie boxes over the next few weeks. asparagus-2178164_640

This season’s early produce can sometimes feel a bit dull as you wonder how much more of the heavy winter roots and leaves you can handle. At this time of year home produce will have generally been carefully stored for a few months and veg-box schemes often have to pad out with imported produce. But all is not lost; a little inspiration goes a long way at this time of year!

You can make the most of spring greens stir fried with ginger, chilli and garlic and then dowsed with coconut aminos. Jerusalem artichokes are lovely sliced into coins and roasted with olive oil and plenty of sea salt until the skin caramelises. This is a great time to enjoy sprouted seeds and pulses if you are craving something a bit lighter or you can grate beetroot and carrot to serve with toasted walnuts and a lemony dressing.

Try mashing cauliflower with cream, salt, black pepper and freshly ground nutmeg as an alternative to mashed potato or roasting beetroot until it’s soft and sweet and then serving it with a garlicky yoghurt dressing. Don’t forget that you can make jacket potatoes from sweet potatoes; roast them until really soft and then serve with plenty of butter.

But then, as the daylight hours grow and thoughts turn to shedding a few layers, flavours kick off with all things fresh and exciting. The season’s new, spindly asparagus is lovely lightly steamed and dipped into raw salted butter or soft boiled eggs. Rhubarb makes so many amazing puddings or can even be finely sliced into raw salads. Wild garlic is great shredded and stirred in to a one-pan meat dish just before serving and purple spouting broccoli is delicious steamed and served with plenty of good butter.

If you make any of these do let me know. And if you sign up to my newsletter… see you on the first of the month!!