My Very Dear Friend

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A very dear friend passed a few weeks ago, nine months after she was diagnosed with an inoperable terminal illness.

She firmly believed in an afterlife. She believed our soul was on a journey of learning, that we choose our life path before we come, and she also believed she would find her miracle moment and survive.

But she didn’t. She tried, but she never found it. She wasn’t afraid of death, but she didn’t want to go either. She fought it to the end. And that’s how it is for all of us. Our love of life and will to live is strong. Giving in to death is not easy, but it’s what we all must face. And if we are lucky, we get the peaceful passing that we all hope and wish for.

I knew when she was diagnosed that this was her chosen exit strategy, and deep down, so did she. I also knew the day after she passed that she was gone. I was standing in the kitchen peeling vegetables when I had the strongest feeling that she had left, and I thought, ‘so you are there and now you know’.

You see, she was fascinated by what happens after we leave this earthly plane. She had researched the subject for many years. It was, in fact, her favourite topic of conversation. She read and reread the same books. She immersed herself in every little detail of it. It was almost as if she willed herself to go there – she wanted to find out so badly.

So, my very dear friend, the friend who is part of my soul family is gone. The friend I will always love, think about and hold dear.

She was strong, bossy, very direct, and always said what she thought. Not a shrinking violet. But she was also a worrier. She worried because she cared. And she was bossy because she cared. And she was forthright because she cared. She reached out to others with a compassionate heart. She was a loyal, loving person.

A friend for over 42 years and I am going to miss her.

But it was her choice. We never pass unless it’s with the understanding and agreement on the highest level of our soul. This was her soul choice, and I understand.

We are all, every single one of us, part of All That Is – the Source Energy from which we come, and part of my soul is there with her now for we are never parted from it.

So, till we meet again on this earthly plane, I hold you in my heart, my very dear friend.

© Inara Hawley 2016

Losing Weight, the Quick and Easy Way

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In my quest for living well, in early March I decided to divest myself of the 15 odd kilos I’d been carrying around for the past 20 or so years. Up until then I’d not really thought it was an urgent issue, and while I knew the extra load was harder on my body and overall health, I’ve never presented with any blood pressure or cholesterol problems. And after all, my Rubenesque curves were sexy, and I have never felt anything but gorgeous or loved so it was not something I worried about. However, my recent and very surprising blood pressure blip gave me a big push. So I gave myself to the end of May to do it. While most of us don’t find it that easy with temptation around every corner, especially if you’re also cooking for others, when things get serious, that’s when the weight drops off. And I had never been more serious in my life!

There are four important things about losing weight ~ eating ‘real’ unprocessed food, eating what’s right for your body which of course is different for each one of us, staying as active as you can, and the most important ~ doing all of those things at the same time.

Generally speaking, my weight doesn’t fluctuate, but it is influenced by my lifestyle. I lead a fairly sedentary life due to injuries so what I eat has a bearing on my weight. Lots of exercise would be great of course ~ it keeps you healthy and strong, but here’s the thing. Exercise is not what losing weight is about. Exercise is about getting fit and toned. Losing weight is about what you eat. But the big win is, when the weight comes off, it’s so much easier to get moving.

Now, having said all of that, I am not a believer in denying myself foods that I really enjoy, however, the old adage, ‘moderation in all things’, goes a long way when it comes to what you put in your mouth. Most times when we eat that piece of chocolate cake or that bag of hot chips, a taste is all we really want. I know I never feel great after stuffing down a sweet dessert or a whole lot of fried potatoes. And as I would rather feel good I rarely do it. You have to listen to your body. And when you do, I can tell you, you will be choosing food your body loves, not food that you’ve been conditioned to eat from childhood. When you eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s right for your body, I guarantee you will rarely crave sugar, salt, or processed food.

So, my weight-loss journey is nearly over, and my goal is nearly reached. Just under 2 kilos to go and I’m done, and here’s how I did it.

Count Calories

As I am not active, counting calories is something I had to do. People will say it’s not important if you focus on eating the right kind of food and keep active, but the bottom line is this ~ if you put more calories in than you expend, you will not lose weight. It’s as simple as that. However, if you have been eating a diet high in processed, fatty, or sugary food, changing that will certainly do the trick and you will probably never have to count a calorie. I, however, rarely eat any of those things, so my only option was to limit my calorie intake. I know I have to eat 800 calories or less per day to drop weight so that’s what I did. I looked at what I was eating and tailored my diet to the lower calorie foods. For example, prawns and strawberries are both low in calories, so I chose those instead of the high-calorie cashews, walnuts and quinoa I was eating at almost every meal. Easy choice, and when you substitute food that you really enjoy eating, you have to ask yourself ~ how does it get better than that?

Keep A Food Diary

I found this invaluable. It kept me accountable with my calorie count as well as my sodium count, which I’m watching as well. When one has a goal one has to be accountable, or there is no serious commitment. And if that meant keeping a food diary while I was getting there, I was more than happy do it!

Eat the Right Kind of Calories

Now this is, and always will be, important for my body and my health. For instance, eating dairy and wheat on a regular basis doesn’t agree with me so I don’t do it. I eat a little occasionally if I feel like it, but not every day. If we consume foods we are sensitive to on a regular basis, it causes internal inflammation the result of which is flatulence, stomach pain, and bloating. This negatively affects both digestion and nutrient absorption, which in turn has an impact on metabolism, energy, and weight.

And if my 800 calories would be mainly made up of processed foods full of fat and sugar, or high carbohydrate foods such as starchy vegetables, pasta, bread or pizza, even if I wasn’t sensitive to any of those foods, I would not lose weight either. So I kept it low carb, low fat, and no sugar. Spreading an 800 calorie pizza over a day just wouldn’t cut it and I’d probably still be hungry. Eating the right kind of calories, however, kept me very satisfied and it worked very quickly.

Below is my basic food list. I made vegetable soups, steamed vegetables, stir fried vegetables, and salads, and to those I added protein, and if I was particularly hungry, I threw in some konjac noodles. Every meal included vegetables and a protein, even breakfast. My in-between snacks were fruit, or half a dozen almonds, or rice thins with either hummus, cucumber and tomato or cheese and sauerkraut.

Sunday Musings - Losing Weight

*These were very ‘occasional’ foods when I felt like it. As I say below, I didn’t deny myself, but I did keep a tight control of what I ate.

**Konjac is a vegetable based noodle. The product is called ‘Slendier’ and is available in supermarkets. It has almost no calories and can be added to soups, stir fries etc.

Don’t Deny Yourself

I organised my diet around my favourite foods. Being almost vegetarian there wasn’t much to change, but there were a few high-calorie foods and starches I could easily take out for a few months. Then I looked around at what else I could include for variety. I found a brand of low-calorie frozen dumplings and battered Hoki fish which I really like, plus two brands of tinned tuna which I enjoy as well. This mixed it up a bit and made my meals more interesting. As for condiments, I didn’t deny myself there either. I included sauerkraut and balsamic vinegar plus my favourite dressing and seasoning but was less liberal with the good oils and fats using only olive oil spray, and a scrape of butter when I felt like it. For added flavour, I used more herbs in my cooking but cut out added salt altogether, which turned out to be a blessing because I began to taste the food I was eating rather than the salt I was putting on it. And as you can see it was all delicious.

Sunday Musings - Losing WeightSunday Musings - Losing WeightSunday Musings - Losing Weight

Size is Important

The size of my meals was really important. On the days I ate bigger meals, even if they were within my calorie limit, my weight loss was less. When I ate carbs was also important. For example, if I ate carbs I had them earlier in the day rather than for dinner as heavier meals in the evening tend to bog down my digestive system. Overall, I found it was best to keep my meals small and light, and if I felt hungry, I had a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack. The bottom line is the lighter I kept it, the better I felt and the lighter I got.

Celebrate Your Food

Every meal I make I salivate over. I really do. Celebrating food is what my family has always done. It makes the most ordinary meal so much more special. I always make time to serve my food beautifully on a nice plate and I do the ‘doesn’t this look wonderful ~ aren’t I lucky’ thing before I tuck in. My appreciation and thankfulness are boundless when it comes to the abundance on my daily plate. I feel so fortunate. To enjoy our food with gratitude and all of our senses bursting with joy is the added bonus to a good meal don’t you think?

Cook Ahead

My last tip is to cook ahead. It makes life so much easier and you won’t be tempted to go to the freezer and get out something, which later, you may be sorry you ate. I fill my fridge with bowls of luscious salads, rosy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, perfectly cooked vegetables and my favourite proteins. And then when it’s time to eat, it’s like a smorgasbord ~ inviting, appealing, and most of all easy. Nothing like delicious anticipation is there?

So, that’s my weight-loss story and I’m stickin’ to it because it worked for me. If you want to drop a few kilos quickly, give it a try. My way turned out to be very easy. But remember, whether you do or you don’t, love yourself and love that bod of yours. It’s the only one you have.

Happy eating!
Inara Hawley © 2016

Living Well

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Hubby and I live very well. By that I mean we live a happy, contented, and easy going life, however recently we both got a big shock. He had a TIA. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a transient ischaemic attack, or in lay terms, a mini-stroke. He’d had his usual busy morning working outdoors, then rushed into town, and while at the hardware store had a temporary loss of vision and felt confused. He managed to get himself home, but it only took a few minutes to realise what was happening and I had him back in the car and at the local hospital within 15 minutes.

Four days later, all of which were spent in intensive care with every test imaginable, plus 18 ECG’s, he was released. Fortunately, there is no residual damage. He now has a handful of preventative medications, a big change in diet, and a quieter life. And thankfully, after a few medication adjustments, he is now doing well.

Now the purpose of this story is about living well, and what that really means. All too often, if everything is going along fine, we chug along happily without giving too much thought about the choices we make for our health. We even ignore small warnings like indigestion, a bad back, a sore neck, tiredness or grumpiness, until something goes wrong. Then everything changes.

And it’s certainly changed for Hubby. He needs to take his blood pressure every day now, and of course, I decided to check mine too. Well ~ what a shocker! It was sky high. Now that could be because I’d had a stressful few weeks, but even so, it was far too high … three days in a row! On the third night, I had what felt like a panic attack about my health. To say I am generally very healthy would be true, however, I’ve had a crook two years with ongoing trigeminal nerve neuralgia. While I am always in a place of appreciation and gratitude, it makes me feel generally unwell so I haven’t been bouncing off the walls with energy and exuberance for quite some time. It’s hard to be bright and perky when you don’t feel well. And of course, that has had me in a place where I haven’t really been looking after myself. What I needed was a wake-up call, and I got it.

The first thing I thought was: lose weight woman and do it quickly! I don’t eat a lot, and being almost vegetarian, nor do I eat rubbish, all of which keeps my weight stable, but I am a bit of a snacker. Even so, I didn’t think there was much room to make many changes. And since a car accident 23 years ago getting my nicely rounded frame into the Lycra and exercising is not an option. However, when I sat down and started working it out, there was actually a lot I could change and still be eating the food that I loved, but with a much lower calorie count. For a short few months, it was not going to be hard to follow a food plan which would do the job. And it was not hard to start walking around the house more either.

But … I was in for a big surprise. As Hubby now virtually has a salt-free diet, I decided to do the same. Salted savoury food, not sugar, is my guilty pleasure, so much so that I wasn’t even prepared to start counting up the sodium content of my diet. Having done the research for Hubby, we only need 2300mgs of sodium per day, which equates to 1 teaspoon of salt. Not much is it? And when you start adding up the sodium in pre-packaged foods, it starts to get a bit scary! But you know what? Within a few days of keeping it within 2300mgs, my blood pressure was normal again. What a relief, and so easy. And apart from the 3 stress-related kilos that dropped off while Hubby was in intensive care, the weight is coming off too ~ 2 kilograms (4½ pounds) in the first 5 days. What a triumph and that wasn’t hard either. It only took 3 days to stop craving my snack foods and now I am coasting along with ease.

Of course, not having to cook different food for Hubby anymore helps a great deal. He now eats my food with a bit extra on the side and all the cheesy toast, bacon buns, pasties, pies, sausages, biscuit and cake temptations are gone. Even though I rarely ate them, it’s a great support when there’s no rubbish food wafting past one’s nose. My goal is 15 kilograms by the end of May, and now that I’ve put it out there, I can only but succeed because I know the Universe has my back. I’m in the flow!

And to celebrate ~ one always needs to celebrate in times of triumph ~ I have started wearing dangly earrings again because they make me feel really cheerful. And I also bought a bangle as a symbol of my goal. It caught my eye while in town today because it summed up my philosophy of life. It was engraved with the words, ‘Live well, love much, laugh often’. When I put it on my wrist, Hubby quipped that it was the ‘bangle with an angle’, and so it is. Hubby and me … we love much, we laugh often, but to really live well we have to take good care of ourselves as well.     

♥ Inara Hawley © 2016

Look For The Good

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Today I came across a great story ~ an initiative by the New Hampshire Police Department in America that was just too good not to share. This past winter they issued gift cards for free pizza and fries to residents who did the right thing. Yep, they started focusing on all the good stuff people were doing!

The Farmington Police Chief came up with the idea one day as he was watching a man battle the heavy snow to get to the street crosswalk. He was so impressed he thought, ‘this man needs a reward!’, and so the initiative was born. The Police Chief was prepared to fund it himself, but a local business put up their hand with a donation and away they went! By mid-March this year they had issued 30 tickets for things like keeping dogs on a leash, using road crosswalks and turn signals ~ simple rewards for simple acts of mindfulness.

And what do you think happened? Well, firstly, the obvious … lots of surprised, happy people. But then, another thing happened ~ it changed the mindset of everyone involved, and that is the point of this story. By focusing on the good everyone was uplifted and everyone was changed. Awareness increased, attitudes improved, and community ties were not only strengthened, they were reinforced with a huge burst of positive energy. And that, of course, made everyone feel very good indeed.

This initiative has given the New Hampshire Police Department a different perspective. Now they look for good things. Dipping into the Great Good is a wonderful thing, living within it is even better, but celebrating it is the best because it expands and attracts a whole lot more …

“When you look for the good you will find it. When you encourage it, you will you see more of it. When you love it you will become it.”

In joyful celebration!

Inara Hawley © 2015

Story Source: NBC News

A Desk with a View

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A Desk with a View - Sunday MusingsI spent the weekend reorganising my office space. I moved the desks around, I sorted files, I threw out old stuff, and found forgotten bits and pieces ~ little golden nuggets I’d put aside for later. Now all that reorganising was wonderful, but the best thing about it was getting off my butt and making the change. What a difference! I feel completely revitalised and so much more productive!

I’ve known for quite a while the office space needed fixing. It was all wrong ~ my desk was facing a wall and totally non-conducive to inspiration, something I was really craving and missing. I really hated sitting there, but I didn’t do a thing about it for the longest time. Now that it’s done, I can’t believe I allowed myself to stay stuck in a place I disliked for that length of time.

Don't Stay Stuck The point here is not why I allowed it to happen, the point is that I changed it, and next time I won’t be waiting … not even a second! When you get that feeling that something isn’t right, don’t wait ~ do something about it. Change it! Don’t put up with something that’s unsatisfactory. You are worth more than that. You deserve better, and you can make it better.

A positive change can turn everything around in a split second. It’s a bit like throwing up a bunch of balls that you weren’t holding very well and then catching them perfectly. I feel like I’m starting new even though it’s with all the same old stuff on my desk that I’ve been putting off, and I can tell you, it’s very liberating. If a little thing like changing my desk around to look at a view while I work has made such a big difference, can you imagine what a more significant change could make. It’s an exciting prospect isn’t it!

Don’t be afraid to do it if you think you may be trapped in inaction. Feeling stuck is just a feeling, not a fact. What it is … is a sign that it’s time to make a change. Whether that change is big or small, if you are feeling it, it’s time to do it. Don’t stay trapped in a place or a timeframe that doesn’t feel right. Free yourself, and do it now! And when you’ve done it, you’ll realise you were a lot less stuck than you thought you were. That inspiration, that lift or that exciting new challenge could be as simple as changing your view.

Cheers!

Inara Hawley © 2015

More Hugs for Me!

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Are you a hugger? Even if you’re not, you have to admit a hug feels really good, especially when you need one. And a hug can say so much don’t you think? Hugs are not just wordless gestures, they are actually very important, and here’s why.

Research shows that hugging has both physical and psychological benefits. Getting hugs helps loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. When you’re upset or sad a hug makes a difference. When you feel lost or unsafe a hug makes a difference. When you feel angry or frustrated a hug makes a difference. And when you’re sick a good hug makes a difference too ~ it helps you heal. It lowers your blood pressure and your stress hormones, relaxing you and strengthening your immune system. You could say that a hug a day keeps the doctor away!

A nice long hug also elevates our serotonin, which boosts our happiness level. Think about what you are doing when you are having a good long hug… you’re connecting with your hearts. And that, my friends, is the fastest way to get oxytocin, the love hormone, coursing through your body. Hugs nurture us. They let the love flow both ways. They make us feel more wanted, more loved, happier, and healthier.

Hugging - SundayMusings

So do you have enough hugs in your life? I love a good hug, but I’ve noticed I haven’t been hugging nearly enough lately. Somewhere along the line I forgot it was so important. But that is about to change! Hugging is on the agenda at least four times a day from now on. I know it’s going to be wonderful ~ I can already feel it, and Hubby is going to love it too!

So hug your family, hug your friends, hug your pets, hug a tree. Don’t be afraid to reach out ~ a hug is that little extension of yourself that shows you care, and you never know, you may just change a life because of it. You will certainly brighten someone’s day. Because a hug is not only good for you, it feels great!

Happy days! ❤

Inara Hawley © 2015

The Power of Giving

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‘Your work is to go forth into this physical environment looking for things that are a vibrational match to joy, connecting to Source Energy, and then following with the inspired action.’ ~ Abraham

Words to live by, and inspired action is certainly a wonderful thing ~ it’s filled with exhilarating energy, enthusiasm, excitement and passion. One rarely doubts oneself when in the throws of inspired action, but in reading the above quote my thoughts turned to what action feels like when it is not so inspired ~ when it’s full of doubt, anxiety or fear … when you find yourself asking: Can I do it? Should I do it? Is it the right thing to do? What if I fail? What if I can’t do it! You want to step forward, but feel conflicted and overwhelmed.

We all know when we take action amazing things happen, but it takes courage when we are filled with trepidation. There are many positive ways to overcome it, but one of the easiest and quickest ways is to approach that step forward with a spirit of generosity and giving. We can overcome so much when we go into giving mode ~ suddenly we stop thinking about how hard it is, and instead, realise how good it feels.

Being a giver is the easiest thing in the world, and it not only always succeeds, it makes most of us very happy. So if you ever find yourself feeling doubtful as to whether you can or can’t do something, open your generous heart and you will be just fine. Stepping up in the spirit of helping others is the best way to overcome your fears. And as well as making yourself and others feeling extraordinarily good, your self-worth will hugely expand ~ that is the power of giving.

As Winston Churchill said, ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’  In the end, it is in giving that we receive, for it is then that we receive the greatest joy.

 Inara Hawley © 2015