Have A Nice Day!

Hi there!

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We’re not actually saying that. (YET!)

Now, I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘Southern Hospitality’ recently. And I never thought I was the shy type with people, but it turns out I am…..to begin with anyway!

The mini As have always been sooooo embarrassed whenever I stop to chat with complete strangers.  It doesn’t matter to me who it is: a cashier, the Big Issue seller, the lady in the queue with me or a little kid having a tantrum! When the mood strikes, I’ll speak to anyone really!  But my two just think I’m a weirdo! (Yay….one point to me!)

Yet when Angus and I first came to Houston in January to do our recce….we walked into the hotel lift after breakfast and before we’d even had a chance to turn around, we heard someone say, “How y’all doin’?” (Are they speaking to us? Please God, don’t let them be speaking to us! But there’s no-one else in the lift. They ARE speaking to us!) “Oh! Fine thank you,” I mumbled incoherently whilst turning slowly, looking at the floor, managing a quick (very quick) glance up and, to make it so much worse, blushing! We felt uncomfortable……and British! What were we supposed to do now? Strike up a conversation with this person we’d never met before? NOOOOO! So we looked awkwardly around at suddenly very interesting things like the gap between the mirrors! (But actually, thinking back, it was really nice that we were acknowledged!) It was our first experience of the infamous ‘Southern hospitality’.

I just looked it up on Wikipedia and officially

Southern hospitality is a phrase used in American English to describe the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as particularly warm, sweet and welcoming to visitors to their homes, or to the South in general.

And welcoming they certainly are!

I thought about what we’re like in the UK. In Cornwall, for example, when we’re out dog walking along the cliffs, every time we passed another person we’d all say “Good Morning” or “Good afternoon” to each other. (Cornwall’s in the South!) Then I remember an ‘experiment’ a friend and I did walking in London a while ago.  We decided to pretend we were in Cornwall and say “Good morning” to everyone we passed on the street to see what would happen. Well, most people completely ignored us! Some gave us a ‘you’re odd and definitely not to be trusted’ look. But one older gentleman tipped his hat and replied “Good morning to you too!” Just ONE!

Coming back to Texas, we’ve definitely found this hospitality evident all over the place:

On the road around our neighbourhood people who are walking wave at us as we drive past them, or as they drive past us if we’re walking. So we all dutifully smile and wave back (sideways glancing at each other and asking “Who’s that?” “Don’t know!”) People around here just seem to wave at people passing by!

Even the traffic system portrays some of this hospitality. When we come to a crossroad everyone has to stop. The person who reached the crossroad first, goes first. Everyone takes it in turns. It’s almost as if people are motioning with their hand and saying, “Please, you go first.”

Then in shops, whenever you ask a question, all answers have a ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ at the end. And if a person walks in front of you in a supermarket whilst you’re decision making at a shelf, they always say “Oh, excuse me” like they’re really putting you out!

This politeness happens on the school run too…..with teenage boys! When I first met one of Archie’s new friends, whatever I asked him was replied with a ‘Yes Ma’am’ or ‘No, Ma’am’ at the end. After a few days Archie told his friend he didn’t have to say ‘Ma’am’ any more, to which the boy seemed quite lost, as if to say, “But it’s what one does”.

Back to our neighborhood; there’s a sweet seven year old girl living opposite who’s taken to calling me ‘Miss Yasemin’. It’s apparently a respectful and familiar address to someone older, regardless of age or marital status. I have to say, I like this the most! It’s just sooooo charming!

Finally, there is, of course, the infamous ‘Have a nice day’ comment. Yup, people do say it a lot here. And it does seem that they’re mostly on auto pilot. But what a great auto pilot to have! It’s not something one does here. It’s just the way one is.

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I think there’s every chance we may just become nicer people here! On the outside anyway! I’m certainly going to give it a go! (Watch this space!)

In the meantime, I really do hope you have a nice rest of your day!

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Yx

PS: I haven’t actually heard this word yet but I like it…..and may just have to adopt it!

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Greenery, Gratitude and Friends!

Hi there!

I hope this finds you and yours all well.

We are here! It was ‘Labor Day’ on Monday so we had an extra day at the weekend together…….in honour (according to Wikipedia) of working people. Being the country bumpkins that we are, we were craving to celebrate the day by getting out to find some countryside……anything that wasn’t flat and man-made. So we were thrilled (THRILLED!) when our lovely neighbours invited us to their parents’ farm for the day!

Don’t get me wrong…..we’re loving where we live with its trees and greenery!

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And we love that the kids get to ride around safely on our street with scooters, bikes, skateboards etc. But once you get off our estate the main roads are wide, flat, SCARY and concrete, with an occasional spaghetti junction thrown in! Aaaaaagh!

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Not quite the A22……SIX Lanes!!

So you can understand why we longed to see something green…and natural! The drive out to the farm was only 90 minutes….and wonderful! The roads gradually narrowed down to single lanes, gentle undulations started appearing and it became greener and greener! Even the mini ‘A’s got off their electrical devices to observe! Meanwhile big A and I sounded like parents of two year olds “Look! A COW!”

We just soaked the day in and had a great time riding around the farm on buggies and quad bikes…..fishing, shooting, eating, drinking! (And all, thankfully, with no snakes!) We certainly drove back with our souls well and truly re-charged.

“The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.” John Muir

Going back a day further to Sunday, I saw that it was lovely and sunny in Sussex and just knew that our rugby friends were up at the club……so I FaceTimed them! Oh my goodness! How lovely it was to see those gorgeous faces again. It almost felt like I was on the deck there with them! But when I signed off a wave of emotion whooshed up from deep inside somewhere. I actually felt it in my chest. I knew it came from looking back, remembering and missing all the amazing times we’d had up there over the years. But I also knew that I was dwelling in the past and that I needed to take some of my own medicine to try to return to the present moment. But I have to admit, it was really hard!

So I decided to resort to a game I challenge myself to with the not-so-mini ‘A’s…..to do the opposite of what I want to do! So, for example, instead of raising my voice when they’ve pushing all my buttons, (which is what I want to do), I stay calm and smile at them instead! It works wonders…for both them and me! (I’ll go more into the power of that another time!) So I sat for a while wondering how I could use this tactic to turn my sadness around….then this Winnie the Pooh quote just popped into my head!

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Wow! It made me realize how lucky I was to even have those friends to miss. I grabbed my journal and wrote down all the things I was grateful for in my friendships. Once I started I couldn’t stop! It went on and on and on! Yes, things were geographically different now but, as the old saying goes,

“Good friends can be like stars. You may not always see them, but you know they’re always there”.

So by the end of that list my heart was full of love and bursting. The sadness had turned to gratefulness. I felt I needed to celebrate this somehow. So I created a Pinterest board (here) in honour of my friends! (Is there a Friendship Day?! I just googled it….apparently there is…..on July 30th! I’ve just read on……and I can’t quite believe this, but apparently Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s ‘Ambassador of Friendship’ at the United Nations in 1998! Haha….I’m obviously soooo on the ball……with a six week delay!)

Anyway…..I’ve made a note to self: to play that opposite game more…..and to get out to the country as often as I can! It’s like hitting my reset button!

Back to now, and until we meet again…..anyone fancy FaceTime and a cuppa?!

Take care!

Yx

New School, New Semester, New Habit.

Hi there!

I hope this finds you well!

I just firstly need to declare that I’m very proud of my two scallywags! They went off to their new schools ever so bravely last Monday. (Unlike me, the mess!) I wanted to get on that bus with them, see where they sat and who they spoke to, if anyone. I wanted be a fly on the wall in their classrooms, ring them throughout the day to ask if they were ok and watch how others treated them. I wished they’d make friends easily, hoped they’d like their teachers (and that their teachers would like them!), wondered how they’d cope with being back in a school environment (after having been out of one for so long) and just that everyone would be really nice! Despite having spent the last six months with the children and really, REALLY looking forward to having time to myself, I watched the clock all of that first day wondering what they’d be doing at that moment! I then waited at the window in the afternoon watching out for the school bus, just so eager for their return!! (Crazy woman!)

They came back really chilled, “Yeah, had a good day”. Right. Ok. That’s good. (Phew!)

Anyway, I decided that if A&A were starting something new then I would start something new too! That and the fact a cold sore decided to appear (meaning low immunity and emotional stress!) It was definitely time to get back on top! So I returned to an old habit: LEMON WATER!

Why? There are soooooo many good reasons: it reduces inflammation, cuts through phlegm, aids digestion, boosts energy, helps the immune system work at its best (yay!), assists in reducing colds and viruses (!) and decreases “bad” cholesterol. Plus, and probably most importantly, it helps avoid the accumulation of acid waste in our bodies. (Acid waste?!) Yup! So how can acidic lemons help get rid of acid waste? Well, though lemon juice outside are body is acidic, once we’ve drunk it and it’s inside our body, it quite brilliantly becomes alkaline-forming.  So why is it so important for us to be less acidic? Because in the long-term a permanently acidic state can damage our normal cell structures and functions, which in turn can cause a whole heap of nasty health issues. And we don’t want that! So, as Hippocrates said:

Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food

But it’s not just our diets that affect our acidity levels. Lack of exercise, repressed emotions and ciggies can all make us waaaaay too acidic. Emotional stress plays its part too (like moving house…and country!) by releasing acid-forming hormones into our system. (By the way – some of the things I’ve brought up in previous posts are great little tools for any DIY ‘working through emotional stuff’ kit.)

So, from here on in, I’m definitely adopting a daily lemon water habit! If you fancy joining me……I just squeeze the juice of 1/4 lemon into lukewarm, filtered water and drink it every morning before breakfast. Then I take great pleasure in knowing that all those lovely cells of mine are being drenched in alkalinity!


One little habit…..one mighty detox!

That’s it for now! Take good care!

Until next time…..!

Yx

The Best Things in Life

HI THERE Y’ALL, FROM A VERY SUNNY (AND HOT) TEXAS!

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Outside Our New Home

We made it…at last! Thank you so very, very much for all the messages of support up until now…..we certainly felt them! As soon as we heard the good news the kids and I booked our flights and got out here as fast as we could. We needed to enrol them into their new schools before the new term (I mean ‘semester’) started on the 24th!  Angus followed shortly after, once the actual ‘ok we’ll have you’ visa arrived. Yes we’re here……but it feels more like we’re on holiday than in our new home! (How long ’til that reality bites?!)

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Our ‘Back Yard’

Anyway, whilst I was waiting for our container to arrive it dawned on me that there was very little in it that we’d actually missed in the last few months……VERY little! And now that it’s here and unpacked, it’s lovely to be with our things again, but we haven’t actually needed them! Living out of a suitcase for a few months gave us more freedom than I knew at the time. We didn’t have anything but ourselves and a few clothes to look after so it made more room for other, more essential things. Sounds cheesy but we spent more time together!

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With Cousins In Cornwall (Photo by Michael Tufnell)

Aaaaaah, Cornwall! We hung out in nature every day, whatever the weather! We surfed, explored, tried new things, visited new places and swam….a lot! I’m not trying to sound like an ‘everything’s perfect in my life’ kind of person, (OF COURSE it wasn’t!), but I can see now that living like that without our stuff was really liberating. Whilst in that space I also started drawing and painting again for the first time in thirty odd years!  Even that was freer (well, childish!). And I began this blog! Would I have done all that anyway? (I’m thinking not!) Who knows! No, I’m not going to go and live off grid (although part of me is tempted!). I’m just saying that this whole process has reminded me of something:

THAT THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE AREN’T THINGS!

Just over a year ago I read about a man who packed up all his belongings into boxes as if he were moving house. He only took things out if he needed them.  If they hadn’t been used for a certain amount of time he either sold them or gave them away. He found it liberating! I thought it was a great idea at the time and really, really wanted to do the same. I managed to empty out a few drawers but I didn’t get much further than that…….until I HAD to! (Be very careful what you wish for!!)

Now I see that the man was right…..it does feel freeing. Freeing in mind (feels clearer), in body (reduced stress) and in spirit (less housework, more fun!). So I’m announcing today that they’ll be no more hoarding or cluttering for me. (And I give you full permission to hold me to that!)

That’s it for now my lovelies.  I promise I’ll try to post more regularly from here on in!

Bye for now!

Yx

Let It All Out!

Hi there! Welcome back!

Thanks so much for the lovely comments I’ve received on here, Facebook and private messages. They’ve really inspired, encouraged and spurred me on to write some more! I was initially soooo tentative about putting my words ‘out there’ because I kept telling myself I wasn’t a proper writer! But bashing that thought around in my journal made me realise that, actually, I AM! It may not be well known but I’ve been writing for over thirty years (albeit to myself)!

I don’t write every day and I don’t list what I ate for breakfast (!) but I do use it to express, express, express! Express what? Well, all sorts of things…..my thoughts, feelings, mulling ideas over, problem solving, reflecting on inspiring stuff, getting to the bottom of why things push my buttons, dream analysis or just a frustrated…..

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Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that journaling helps me feel happier, calmer, clearer-headed and focused on the present. I recently read about Dr James Pennebaker, a professor of Psychology at The University of Texas (of all places!), whose research has shown that ‘writing about emotional experiences can have tangible health benefits’.  Better health too? Even more reason to write, write, write!

As you can imagine, this move to Houston has been coming up in my journal quite a lot over the past few months! The latest is we’re at the final stage of the immigration process (yay!).  Angus has an interview at the US embassy in London on 30th July when they’ll give him a defintie ‘yay’ or ‘nay’! (Why wouldn’t they give him the visa, right?!) I’ll report back on that soon after but if you have a spare, positive, thought for us on the day (1pm to be precise) then please do send it over!

In the meantime, we’re enjoying being here…….now!

Oh yes….nearly forgot! If you fancy getting notifications via email when I post something new…..then please just click the ‘Follow’ button to the right and below. I didn’t know to add that particular little ‘widget’ to my last post…..ooops! Learning as I go!

Bye for now

Yx

One last thing……someone asked it I’d mind if a friend of hers read this blog. I said of course I didn’t! If someone doesn’t know us and reads this it’s still a story…..and if it can inspire along the way, then all the better! So please feel free to pass on to a friend if you think they’d be interested!

Hi there!

An enormous WELCOME to my very first post!

I thought I’d be brave and dip my toe into the blogging world….so I have! Mainly to write about our transition from the UK to Houston but also to highlight some (hopefully) inspirational stuff on the way! I must warn you though – it won’t be a literary masterpiece. More like colloquial scribble! Anyway, here goes!

As you may know, it’s been a weird old time for us preparing for something that was meant to be happening and then wasn’t! We moved out of the house, sold the car, pulled the kids out of school, sent our belongings off to the States and then a day before we were meant to leave…BOOM! The US weren’t ready to have us yet! Not without the correct paperwork anyway! So for the last four months, whilst that’s being compiled, we’ve been living out of a suitcase, borrowing cars, staying mostly with my in-laws and attempting home schooling (more like ‘unschooling’!)

It’s certainly been tense at times, to say the least, but there’s been something that’s really helped through the ‘what ifs’ (worrying about what the future holds) and the ‘if onlys’ (dwelling on the past). When my mind goes wandering into the future, I can get anxious! Very anxious! Or when it goes back into the past, I can feel really very sad. Either way it does my head in!  The past is done…..there’s nothing I can do to change that. And I’ll just have to wait to cross future’s bridge before I worry about what the conditions may be like there.

So I bring myself back to the present moment. How? I’ll give you an example……I’m sitting in a car jam, which’ll make me late for my appointment, and I start getting stressed about it. But what can I do? That stress won’t make the jam disappear or get me to my appointment any earlier. So I send a message to say I’ll be late, then take a couple of very deep breaths in and deep breaths out! I start looking around…..seeing what’s there…..listening for sounds…..becoming aware of what I’m sitting on and how that feels. Why? Because it helps me realise that right in that moment I’m actually absolutely fine. And that rebalances me.  (And I notice the stress disappearing!) I may very well be arriving late for my appointment…..but at least I’ll be arriving happier!

My best teachers on this? The kids……and our dogs! They’re all naturals at it! Plus Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now has been hugely inspiring.  If you haven’t read it …..I highly recommend it! It’s certainly transformed my thinking!

For now, thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’ll be back in touch again soon.

Until then, may we….

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Bye…for now!