My 10 Commandments for Lent! | Simply Marcia


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My 10 Commandments for Lent!

So, the frying pan is back in its rack (ours literally gets used once a year for pancake day – I’m not a natural cook sadly – what can I say – and flipping pancakes is not a skill that comes naturally to me …). Anyway, as today marks the first day of spring and the first day of Lent*, when we traditionally give something up (typically food or bad habits) to improve our health or demonstrate self-restraint, it’s made me think about what I might give up (chocolate, gin, shouting at the kids?) or whether, rather than give stuff up (I have little in the way of self-restraint, instead favouring (too much sometimes) the ‘life’s too short’ mantra (aka permission to over-indulge in everything …), I could take something up?

I’m not talking about taking up anything too physical (obvs) and much as I love popping over to Instagram every once-in-a-while to watch yet another motivational Body Coach ‘live’ workout, it’s not really for me. I consider my once a week yoga and constantly running around after my masters (the kids) is enough for me – thanks all the same.

I’m thinking more about how I can take up a better attitude to life in general; taking up a priority for my wellbeing. When things are a bit tough it can be so hard to see the wood for the trees and all that and sometimes I really need to ‘have a word’ with myself – easier said than done – though I’m not about to get all deep and meaningful!

So, keeping with the (sort of) spiritual train of thought, I’ve come up with my ten commandments for taking up a bit more balance in my life, a greater sense of wellbeing, and a spring in my step 🙂

1. Smile – just more often really. I will embrace my inner ‘Elf’ mantra: ‘Smiling’s my favourite’.
2. Be grateful – every day I will remind myself of the things that day, that I can be grateful and thankful for.
3. Share the load – I must, I must, I must … get my kids doing more. They’re not babies any more (eldest is 14 and possibly cannot operate a tin opener yet) – things need to change. I need to stop doing everything then moaning that I can’t do everything (wtf ha!).
4. Hydrate – simple one this – drink more water. This is one Body Coach tip I can do – yay!
5. Do one thing at a time. Think like a man – do one task at a time. Sod the multi-tasking, it just gets my knickers in a twist. Every day I’m now writing a short and achievable to-do list in my diary and getting proper and real satisfaction from actually ticking stuff off!
6. Walk more. I love walking, getting fresh air, seeing nature and taking photos. More of this please.
7. No dieting. Healthy, simple foods only. Chocolate when needed. I’m thinking a more holistic approach in listening to my body and what it needs. Recognising that my fuel needs can change day-to-day (some days I’m literally ravenous regardless of how much I’ve scoffed and others I’m just not …).
8. Banish negative thoughts (at least try to). Embrace positive mantra’s and words: I can, I do, I will, I am … ok.
9. Breathe. Slooooowly. I’ve recently discovered yoga so every day, I spend 15 mins doing some simple but calming yoga stretch and balance moves. And even though my stress levels are quite high’ish right now, I swear my asthma is so much better – I’m sure it’s down to the yoga and considered breathing. Downward-facing dog anyone (this is a great stretch!)?
10. Sleep. I think I need more of this stuff. I love my bed but not necessarily going to bed early (there are too many box-sets to be viewed and indulged in, right?). However, life is super-busy right now and I’m super-yawny so even I’m starting to recognise that I need to take up regular early nights of shut-eye. I’m thinking weekend box-set binges instead?! Happy!

Umm, one sneaky extra commandment – more flowers. I love them. A simple, budget-friendly and super-cheery ‘must’ for me and very spring-like!

So, I now command you go forth and create your own ten commandments to help you take a step in the direction of balance and wellbeing 🙂

*A super-quick history/theological lesson: Lent is a 40-day fast and this year will run up until the Thursday before Easter Sunday (April 13). Christians believe the Lent period reflects when Jesus fasted and suffered in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights during which time he was tempted by Satan, but each time he managed to refuse his temptations.

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Burying my head in the sand …

As per all mums who are trying to work, raise children, work some more, exercise a la Body Coach style, keep on top of housey stuff, create amazing, home-baked healthy meals, be financially savvy and in fact save money (!), entertain little people with endless over-priced after-school activities and bestow romantic gestures on their partners (in other words – DO EVERYTHING (and more)), my to-do list is endless and even if I actually manage to tick something off it, it will immediately be replaced by at least three more things needing to be done 🙁 It’s that one-step-forward-two-steps-back thing …

Until recently, I’d been totally and ridiculously rubbish at all the things that help to keep some kind of order and instead my life resembled some kind of Chaos Theory:

I was not: keeping on top of things or being organised or saving money.

I was: forgetting to sign school permission slips, paying for school clubs, sorting financial stuff out (i.e. forgetting to pay the minimum balance on my credit card), spending too much money.

My mature and very grown up way of dealing with my spiralling-out-of-control chaos: think like an ostrich – yes, I became the ostrich-with-it’s-head-in-a-bucket-of-sand metaphor. Denial. La-la-la I can’t hear you … I basically shut my brain off and told myself that if I didn’t think about the ‘stuff’ I was worried and anxious about, that it would all just go away and that everything would be TOTALLY FINE. Nothing to worry about .

I guess feelings of being swamped, overwhelmed, disappearing under a stack of letters, forms, dates, demands from schools, work, home, kids, pets, financial stuff had left me unable to (using another over-used – but totally appropriate in my case – metaphor) see the wood for the trees. And I’m definitely one of those people who, if feeling like this, will choose to ‘opt out’ and exist in a horrible state of anxiety and denial and not face facts. Not good. Not healthy. Not helpful.

So, anywhooo, things came to a bit of a head very recently and I had to have a serious word with myself (as did other half). It’s a horrible feeling when you have to face facts and realise that maybe you’ve kind of cocked up a bit … Not due to any massively ridiculous reasons but simply because sometimes, there’s just too much going on.

Briefly (and metaphorically) hanging my head in shame – I did what I had to do: I got on the phone and sorted my financial nightmare: it wasn’t easy – I’m not very good at admitting I’ve flunked however, I did speak to some super-lovely people who helped me get my shit together and get things back to how they should be. Hooray!

I also got myself a diary (with one day per page) and am now an obsessive writer-down-of-everything that I want to achieve and get done that day (and if I don’t get something done then it gets jotted down on the next date when I think it could be sorted). I also treated myself to a lovely notebook for random scribbles and an App for keeping track of all my logins and passwords.

The moral of the story: ask for help. Just do it. Don’t fret and worry about what people might think. Just DO IT. Make that call. Put your hand up. The relief of sorting stuff out will be great 🙂

And or me – so far so good – I’ve even been able to empty that bucket of sand (no more burying my head in it for me)!

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Christmas-ready?

Whilst this time of year is mostly super lovely and sparkly and full of Christmas cheer (which I love – Christmas starts in our house on 1st Dec), it can also be pretty stressful at times – the list of things your kids need, must make, must wear, must attend for school related stuff goes on and on; finances can be a worry (£64 for just one PS4 game W.T.F!!!) and simply trying to keep on top of everything and being super-organised can be a trial in itself – arghhhh! It’s at this point that ideally, someone would hand me a massive bucket of sand for me to stick my head in, so I can opt out for a bit … Sadly, this has never happened so it’s a case of taking a deep breath in, grabbing a pen and paper and (in my case) writing a BIG to-do list.

With not long now until the BIG DAY, a slight feeling of panic is always lurking close by and a serious amount of ridiculous questions: have I got enough pressies for the kids? what about stocking fillers? have I bought pressies for everyone else? what shall I get for this year’s secret santa (who ever thought this was a great idea?)? what if I run out of wrapping paper? when do I buy the turkey? how do I best cook the turkey (Nigella’s recipe or Jamie?)? where’s the best deal on big tubs of chocolates? how much weight will I put on (do I care? how will I get rid of it in the New Year if (who am I kidding!) – when I do?)? What about prosecco (thank goodness for proseccowatch.com !) … it can be tooooooo much!

Back to the list. For me, this is the best way of getting some kind of control.

Actually, the list becomes a list of lists. For me it’s the only way. I divide my lists in to 3 🙂

1. A list for myself, my partner and all three kids with dates and times: where is everyone, any playdates, parties or meet-ups with friends and family, and what each needs to take, wear or bring. This list is all about the logistics!

2. Then it’s on to the still-outsanding-presents list – what’s still to be bought and for whom (and even which shop – bit too much?). Wrapping paper and similar stuff goes on the list – as does a date for the actual wrapping – if it’s on the list it will get done … eventually.

3. Finally, it’s the food and booze list – what do we still need for the big day? At this point I have to remind myself that basically Christmas Day food is simply the usual roast dinner but on a bigger scale and with prosecco, (too many) chocolates and a yummy pudding thrown in for good measure – it’s about persepctive and all that. Of course there are little treats and yummy extra’s but to be honest, as long as the usual suspects (turkey, crackers …) are on the list, the rest can be grabbed once on a trolley-dash around the supermarket? Winging-it style right?

Once the lists have been completed, I do feel better, for sure – it’s a case of getting on with stuff and getting through those lists and the satisfaction of crossing through those to-do’s! Hooray 🙂

Fianlly, a word of ‘warning’ – if you’re anything like me and have crazy port-induced ideas about home-baking EVERYTHING a la Jamie and Nigella in order to create the perfect Christmas, can I suggest that, yes, enjoy the indulgence of reading and watching all the Christmassy cook books and TV shows but rather than try to recreate new stuff, instead simply stick to only what you already know and can do best – maybe it’s fab roast potatoes or gravy, or amazing mince pies but don’t even think about creating brand new recipes or new cocktail creations on Christmas Eve – keep it simple I say!

By the way, my go-to no-bake but homemade recipe that I make all-of-the-time is Nigella’s rocky roads – everyone loves them and a simple dusting of icing sugar, edible glitter and some carefully placed mini-reindeer (totally kitsch) turns these easy-makes in to Christmas-ready scrummylicious sweet-treats!

Happy pre-Christmas!

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Handbag heroes

Back in the day (aka pre children) the contents of my handbag were a) few and far between, b) super glamourous and c) never sticky!! Generally all I needed back then were lipstick, my phone, lip balm and purse.

Roll on 14 years and it’s a very different story. The contents of my handbag are mostly now a) sensible (tissues (a mix of new and used), wet-wipes, plasters, empty bottles of calpol, cheap bifocals), b) food-related (crumbly breadsticks, rotting fruit, forgotten sweets stuck to the inside of my bag) and c) school letters and parental slips (that have been signed and then forgotten about, now lying crumpled up and past their ‘must-send-in-by-date’, waiting for the next handbag clear out …).

I’ve come to realise that I am in fact a walking-vending-machine-come-cash-dispenser-come-clearer-upper-of-messy-things … I don’t actually mind this – I like to be a provider of things for my hungry, messy, sticky, (sometimes) bloody and sore and ever-money-hungry children.

This hand-bag transformation starts the minute you have your first baby in your arms – a sense of mild panic runs through you if you don’t AWLAYS at ALL TIMES have EVERYTHING with you that your little darling might need (you also suddenly realise that no ordinary handbag will cut it – your new best friend needs to be able to handle all sorts of emergencies and scenarios and carry EVERYTHING) – personally I was a fan of ‘the bigger the better’ (translates as ‘can fit more in’). If you’re currently on the look out for one of these bigger and better bad boys, Mumsnet do some great baby bag reviews for here and now …

I think this feeling of being a provider of easy-access comforts for your children never quite leaves you (it’s a major habit of mine), so even now, eldest child (aged 13 and 3/4) along with younger two, is still greeted at the end of the school day with a plethora of food (some healthy, some (shamefully) not so), wet-wipes (the child is incapable of eating anything without leaving the remnants around and on him and his surroundings), and  … complete control of the in-car entertainment (Kiss FM anyone?).

But anyway, lurking somewhere in this sticky and crumbly collector of random old receipts and shiny coins there are in fact some things that never change – my handbag heroes – lipstick, my phone, lip balm and (less) money. They’re just a bit more battered and bashed up than they used to be!

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In-car essentials …

You know how it is. It’s 7.52am and joy, of joys, you’re on the school run. We face and survive it every day, however, every single day, without fail, as we’re all piling in to the car (squabbling over who’s going to sit where, who’s turn it is to sit in the front passenger seat blah blah blah (I’m good at zoning out now!)), my heart slightly sinks a bit with dread …

It’s the same old story – we get going (everyone’s is seated where they need to be), and then Child A sneezes – needs a tissue … I find one stuffed in the side of the car door (not sure how long it’s been there but …it’ll do). Child B has forgotten a snack for break-time … I rummage around in my work bag and pull out a slightly-squished ‘seen-better-days’ banana (think more black than yellow) – Child B is NOT happy. Child A sneezes again – another tissue is needed – urgently! Arghhh – I frantically, and one-handed (I’m TRYING to drive!!!), rummage around in the car door (pretty much this car door contains everything) and my bag – the only option is tissue recycling. All is well. Until, in a queue of traffic, a casual glance at Child C’s school shoes proves disastrous (why did I look?) – they are vile and disgusting and need a quick wet-wipe clean NOW (naturally wet-wipes are nowhere to be found …). Best option at this point is to turn the radio up – loud.

So, now, I pledge that my car shall always contain the following at all times:

tissues
wetwipes (perfect for grubby shoes, faces, hands and car interiors)
anti-bac handwash
– snacks (think teeny in-car ‘vending machine’ containing non-easily-squished foods: boxes of raisins, school bars, breadsticks, apples …)
– chewing gum (for queasy kids and cross mummies)
– plastic bags for all the rubbish (because, yes, our car floor is absolutely not a dustbin as far as my kids are concerned and they absolutely, always pick their rubbish up and carefully place in said plastic bag – obvs)

Happy school running everyone 🙂 x


From ‘always rushing.com’ to trying to be ‘organised.com’

Arghhhh! Juggling lots and spinning too many plates generally equals mild chaos and stressy feelings rising up through my body … Which also means I’m less likely to be a bit healthy when it comes to foody choices if I’m out-and-about or on the go. At times like this (at some point most days actually) I’m very likely to be a bit naughty and ‘treat’ myself to some kind of sugary/fatty/chocolatey hit, and whilst super-satisfying at the time, when I step on the bathroom scales after a few days of these ‘I’m-stressed-therefore-I-deserve-something-naughty’ moments, I’m not sure how come I’m always a bit surprised at what the scales are telling me (it’s not good news).

In a rare moment of ‘inspiration’ (actually, it was more a case of the bathroom scales screaming at me to stop this ridiculous naughtiness!), I decided a few weeks ago that this cycle had to stop! Time to bring out the big guns (aka preparing a load of yummy but healthier snackettes for cow-like grazing). I’ve basically realised that for me, being prepared is pretty much the key to making a difference between success and failure – of the food variety at least – if I’m rushed I’ll grab whatever and my will-power will descend rapidly to nil-power … Having ready-prepared healthy bits to hand helps me massively 🙂 and helps set me up for a chance at healthy eating during the week (hooray!).

I love things like pots of cherry tomatoes, chopped pineapple and grapes (perfect for time-poor moments); boiled eggs (easy-peasy and super-filling); home-made falafels – try the Slimming World version (umm, massive YUM!); pots of Hartley’s 10 cal jelly pots and homemade sweet potato chips (just make a large quantity using Fry-light and bung in a container for on-the-go nibbling) … Happy grazing 🙂 x