[VIDEO] Jean Vanier speaks on the Big Questions

When someone is loved, they are transformed, reveal to them they are beautiful. This does not happen if you’ve been humiliated and devalued. A really interesting talk ranging across many topics including the Holocaust, and everyday life: discover what it means to be a full human coming from vulnerable/fragile relationships.

[VIDEO] Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

Part of today’s Lent reading with Brian Draper “First, whenever we achieve success, we change the goalposts. (You hit your sales target, so you increase your sales target…) So it seems always out of reach. And when happiness lies on the far side of success, your brain never gets there.

But the main issue (as neuroscience now suggests) is that our brain works best the other way around: when we experience positivity in the present, we perform significantly better than if we’re “negative, neutral or stressed”. Intelligence rises, creativity rises, energy levels rise, when we’re assured and content to start with.”

drawing from Shawn Anchor, as summarised in this TED talk:

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Completed ‘The Psychology of Weight Loss’ with @beyondchoc

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You’ll see from previous blog posts that I’ve been interested in Beyond Chocolate since around 2009. I can’t remember how I first came across the books, but after reading, ended up going on a day course where I remember Audrey’s face as she described a ‘fun-size Malteser’ packet, learnt to reconnect with our bodies as we drew around ourselves/described ourselves, and experimented with new recipes and the thought of having food as something to enjoy, rather than something to be limited/restrained or feared. Prior to the course, post-chest-infection, I’d been putting on roughly half-stone every 6 months – 6 months after this one day, I’d stabilised and food had regained some of it’s fun and adventure (scales have since gone, so judging by clothes)!

I ticked along with this, read Beyond Temptation, then in 2013, decided to go to another day in Leeds, where the outstanding exercises in my mind were eating foods veeeery slowly to reacquaint with the taste (rather than shovelling it down), and encouraging people to say out loud to the person next to them the things that they say to themselves (e.g. you fat, lazy cow) – demonstrating how you wouldn’t to others but you would to yourselves!

In 2014, I went on a whole weekend, which was a great opportunity to take time out from everyday life, and undertake a series of exercises – including eating food in silence, and comparing to the next meal with conversation, having meals with lots of choices/limited choices, having ‘unlimited’ quantities of food that one is not ‘relaxed’ about, looking at one’s journey with food, and lots of fun and conversation! By this point, I’d already started sharing a range of stories on the Beyond Chocolate Facebook page (over the last 8 months we’ve increased from around 900 page members to over 1500, with a regular flow of stories ‘of interest’ to the group), and started road-testing a new online course known as “The Psychology of Weight Loss” (and yes, lots of discussion about using weight loss as part of the title when it’s about having a good relationship with your body – whether you are small or large – but it’s something people are looking for, so then encourage people to say this is not where your emphasis should lie!).

Anyway, I have just FINISHED part-1 of the course, and it’s been really helpful (especially the 1-2-1 inputs from BC), as there’s been time to do the material, then think about it, before diving in to the next session: aside from anything else, I’ve realised how much my relationship with food and my body has changed over the past few years, even if, in the world’s eyes, I am “overweight”.

Doing this online course has encouraged me to try a few more things, in tune with my ‘give me new stuff’ way of thinking, and against that thinking of “I need to do this, and I need to do this for ever” mentality of many a diet. I give something a go, reflect on it, then decide if I want to do it again. It may become a habit, or I may decide it’s not for me…

The intention is to do it within 3 months, but there are extension packages available if you want longer-term e-mail support. See an overview of the course here, and you can try the first lesson for free! Only £67 if you just want to undertake the course, or £350 with 1-2-1 support! 

#Decluttering Near Completion

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This, 10 more of the paper archive files to scan in, 6 more photo albums to create on Bonusprint, and 2 ‘childhood/schooldays’ boxes in the attic are all that I have left to declutter! After I properly started about 15 years ago (that’s frightening in itself), and recently went at the digital spaces, this feels so close…

Over time, I have learnt to mend lots of things, the bins have taken a hammering, charity shops have (hopefully) enjoyed what has been donated, and Freecycle has been used – there’s an opportunity for you guys – there’s a few more items on Amazon and Ebay - please do have a look, and see if you know anyone who’d like them!

The Bank Cook by @HJulienne

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Thank you so much to Hortense, as this special parcel arrived in the post last week. I enjoyed watching Hortense’s experiments with food over Lent last year, and it’s wonderful to see the care and attention that she has poured into this book – as her ‘about’ page indicates “I hope that the quality of the work done within the pages will make the user feel valued and loved”. There are lots of great hints and tips as to how to make the budget stretch (on as little as £5 week), with lots of little tips regarding nutrition (although p17, I’m still not taking up celery!!). Thankfully, I am fed my main meal most days during term-time, but there’s some ideas here I want to try – particularly nice looking Vegan Chilli Con Carne on p26, though I’m not sure I need a Scotch Bonnet pepper! Well done Hortense, don’t stop inventing!

Download a PDF copy of the book, and consider giving food alongside your weekly shop, or if, like I do, you don’t do big shops often, consider donating to The Trussell Trust, and they can buy what they need!

Food Bank Related Stories #ClearAPlate

Today, I’ve seen a couple of stories related to food banks, etc. (as a supporter of Trussell Trust) – this video, featured in the Guardian is a very clever mini-play that very cleverly challenges the thinking that ‘there’s always something that can be made from odds and ends in the cupboard’ (well, you could from mine, but that’s another topic!)

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As one of my friends said, the trouble is that these policies are being made by people for whom £20 is a taxi fare, and not the choice between heating and eating.

The other story I’ve spotted is #ClearaPlate – which also seems to have the support of the Trussell Trust:

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This seems to be me to be well-meaning, but rather misguided. Surely the issue is about thinking about what we put on our plates in the first place – we certainly don’t want to reinforcing the notions that were common in many of our childhoods “think of the starving children in Africa, don’t waste any of it”. Yes, seek to reduce waste, but not by forcing yourself to eat food that you don’t want. I remember someone once saying, if it’s not waste, it will be waist … and it’s definitely one of the rules that Beyond Chocolate likes to challenge – as it encourages you to be more mindful about your eating .. but not by treating yourself as a dustbin!

Enjoyed Reading ‘Year of Biblical Womanhood’ by @RachelHeldEvans

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I have really enjoyed reading this book over the past week (thanks Bryony for lending it to me) – had me chuckling and thinking at alternate moments, and occasionally reaching for the iPad to take note of a particular paragraph, as outlined here:

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Early morning prayer? How can I expect to have a civil conversation with God?

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Be yourself. Take risks. Work Hard. Make mistakes. Keep Going. Surround with cheerleaders.

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Faith is believing in the midst of uncertainty. Don’t wait for certainty.

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Women should not have to pry equality…

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Thinking about what we buy… and how it affects others… (one of the most impactful Lent things I did was give up purchasing in supermarkets & seeking to ‘shop local’ more – changes eating habits a lot!)

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Remember the historical context in which the Bible was written.

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Church – an off-putting place for women?

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The Bible isn’t an answer book, set of rules of a self-help manual, but a sacred collection telling God’s story

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Do we find what we’re looking for?

Thanks Rachel – lots to chew on (as someone who came from a Brethren background!)!