Lentern Learnings

As we’re nearing Easter I wanted to take a moment to reflect on Lent and what I’ve learnt through the season. I only started going back to church regularly when my Dad became sick. In my younger years I was quite devout – I studied Religious Studies for A-level and was the President of my university’s Catholic Society for a year which saw me heavily involved in church activities and usually speaking at mass every week. As I got older I still held my beliefs but didn’t attend mass regularly usually due to logistics and laziness. Since I have started going back I have really enjoyed the services and the time they give me to stop and reflect. I have also enjoyed sharing the experience with others when I have attended services with family and friends.

For Lent I decided to give up coffee. I don’t drink it daily but it is a treat a couple of times of week to go into a coffee shop and get a latte. I managed really well with lentern promise the only coffee I have had was after church on my birthday at the coffee morning with my grandparents. When I have gone to a coffee shop when my husband has wanted something I have usually just had nothing at all and I haven’t felt like I was missing out.

I also decided to try and reduce my sugar during Lent. This worked well for the first few weeks. Even when I went out for meals I wasn’t tempted to have dessert. I did let myself off for my birthday but even then I didn’t go mad I just had some cake. The real issue I had was when I came down with a bad cold, I had a temperature and was feeling very sorry for myself! I had a stock in the cupboard as I had been saving up treats people had bought me for my birthday to have at Easter. and just went a bit mad! After that I found it hard to get back on the wagon, but I have learnt I can easily go without sugar and I don’t automatically need something sweet to end a meal. I was having a cup of tea after my dinner and I really looked forward to having it every evening!

My last lentern promise was to fast for a day, usually Thursday or Friday and go to mass rather than having lunch. I hadn’t done this since I was at university and was a bit apprehensive about how this would affect me at work. I would have an early dinner the night before and fast for 24 hours having a late dinner. Some weeks this was easier than others. I tried not to concentrate on food and sipped on hot water throughout the day. I also tried to not talk (or complain!) about it too much. I found going to church helped me focus on why I was doing it. I also enjoyed going to church at lunchtime and it was good on the weeks I was unable to attend mass on Sunday. There is only one Catholic church in the borough my office is in and luckily it is inn walking distance of my workplace. When my company has been in different offices I have wanted to attend lunchtime mass but it was just a bit too far to get to and from in my lunch hour. I will definitely continue to go to lunchtime mass when I am unable to attend on Sundays and I’m glad I have another option for services.

Looking forward to Easter I am looking forward to spending time with family. We are heading down to my in-laws today to spend the weekend with them, my Sister-in-law and Brother-in-law and our nieces and on Monday we are going to my Aunt’s to spend some time with my Dad’s side of the family.

I got a white chocolate egg and mint crisps from Sainsburys from my husband. I was searching out the Choices caramel egg but I must have been too late as I couldn’t find it in Sainsburys or two Holland and Barrett stores I looked in!

My Mum got me some bits from Bomb Cosmetics. I hadn’t heard of this company before but will definitely checking them out in future. She got my a pack of soap chunks and I’m looking forward to trying out all the different kinds. Think I’m gonna need a new soap dish! They clear state their credentials on the pack stating “At Bomb Cosmetics, we make sure we use recycled packaging wherever possible. None of our products are tested on animals and we operate a fixed cut off date in line with leading animal rights organisations guidelines.”

She also got me this gorgeous set of bath bombs. Which I am gonna start as soon as I finish writing this blog! They are chocolate themed and look (and smell!) so gorgeous and tempting I have to remind myself they are actually bath bombs!

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Hope you all have a great Easter!

Plumes x

Lentern Learnings

Positive Thinking

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I do tend to think of myself as positive person. This was reinforced recently when my team took part in a positive thinking workshop at work. We did a number of exercises including writing down lots of things that annoyed us and then crossing out the things we had no control over. This reminded me a little phrase I used to say to myself. “Nothing has the power to mess with your zen” (although I may have used a stronger word than “mess”! More on that in a bit!) In many situations you don’t have control as to what happens but you you can control how you respond to it. This was tested on me last night when there were issues with my trains. We were held outside the second stop due to a problem with the train in front which was taken out of service. Our train become very crowded and then we were informed it would be terminated the stop before mine. There was a lot of huffing and swearing from my fellow passengers but I was just glad I had a seat. Shortly after we were told our train would in fact terminate a few stops earlier. I got off with everyone else and sat down on the bench on the platform. Our trains are every few minutes so instead of pushing and shoving onto the next one I sat and finished reading my magazine, then got on the third train. I was then told that this train was going to terminate the stop before mine so off we all got again. I saw fellow commuters getting more and more stressed while I was calmly reading through my emails. I ended up getting home an hour later than usual and I didn’t get to go to a shop I was planning to on the way home. I still spent a lovely evening with my husband, had some pancakes to celebrate shrove Tuesday and got an early night.

Following on from our positive thinking workshop our team has installed a “swear jar” with a 10p charge per curse word. I am very surprised I have been the top contributor and had to put in a I.O.U. yesterday as I had run out of change!

Recently I have also been practicing the 4-7-8 breathing technique where you breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and breathe out through your mouth for 8 counts, for a cycle of 4 breaths. This really slows down your heart rate and makes you feel a lot calmer. I find this works especially well before bed and since I’ve been monitoring my sleep on my fitbit I have been falling asleep in under 10 minutes.

Today also marks the first day of Lent. I usually try to do something in Lent although I didn’t last year as it was my 30th birthday and we went on our honeymoon during that period. This year I have decided to give up coffee. I don’t drink it everyday, but it is a treat I have a couple of times a week. I also want to try and reduce the amount of sugar I eat (and not just replace it with sweeteners). I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid it completely and will still be eating fruit but I’m interested to see how much it affects the food I eat. I think I’ll be OK avoiding sweet treats but I know I’m going to miss baked beans and salad dressing! I am also going to try and fast once a week and go to lunchtime mass although I’ll see how this goes as I haven’t done this since I was at uni.

I am writing this on the train to work and have just been informed there’s going to a 15 minute delay, better start practicing that breathing technique!

Hope you have a positive week!

Plumes x

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Positive Thinking