3 Easy Ways to Make a Big Difference to a Refugee, Today

Along with so many of us, I’ve been extremely heartbroken by the migrant and refugee crisis here in Europe over the last 18 months. Whilst I haven’t been able to volunteer my time in a hands-on way like my little sister has, I’ve been trying to do my bit in other ways. Every time Caz comes back from Calais (where she sorts out donations and makes food on the weekend), she has more stories that give me goosebumps.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 12.33.04 PM.pngMost of the refugees she meets there are educated, middle-class and intelligent, and she has interesting conversation and jokey interactions with them – amazing when you consider all they have been through. Most have lost friends and family, their homes, their jobs and are now sleeping rough in freezing cold Europe whilst trying to keep the faith that their future involves a life that can be rebuilt. They still give each other weekly haircuts at the refugee camp and shave their facial hair daily in order to maintain a sense of dignity.

If you have the time and inclination, here are three easy ways you can do your bit to support these vulnerable and displaced men and women and give them just a little bit of hope that the future could be a bright one.

  1. Buy one of these ace jumpers or t-shirts for you or a loved one:
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    All proceeds go to the charity Help Refugees.

2. Go to your local charity shop and collect mens’ trainers (Size 42 / UK Size 8 if possible). This is what is asked for by the refugees over and over again – lace up trainers that they can run in – and if they’re waterproof, that’s a bonus. They can then be donated to your nearest refugee charity to take to Europe – find yours here.

3. Donate £7.90 to buy a Uniqlo HeatTech t-shirt.

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-12-15-02-pmI started a JustGiving fundraiser a couple of weeks’ ago; we’re already fully funded but the more money the merrier! Each t-shirt is hand delivered to a vulnerable man (and they are usually men) who is sleeping rough in Calais or Paris. Rumours are that the French police are confiscating tents and sleeping bags, but these t-shirts which keep the body super warm can’t be taken away. Buy your t-shirt (by the end of February) here.

And that’s it – 3 super easy ways to do your bit today. Because…

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What does “setting an intention for your yoga practice?” really mean?

yoga intention 3.pngSetting an intention… huh?!

For years I thought (or pretended) to understand what my yoga teacher meant when he or she invited us to “set an intention for your practice”. I’d usually choose a “goal” for something I wanted in my life; ‘calm’ or ‘less stress’ or ‘relaxed’ and then usually not think about it again for the rest of the class.

Recently, I’ve begun to think about and explore what this instruction / guidance really means. And it’s been an enlightening discovery! Continue reading

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15 Things to Do When You’re Feeling Stuck / Lethargic / Unmotivated / Just MEH.

Whether it’s the short, dark days, a break up, a stressful time at work – or sometimes it’s just because – we all get stuck in a lethargic rut from time to time. Here are some of my tried and tested happiness boosters for this inevitable time.

doggy.jpg(Unfortunately you won’t find eating a tub of ice cream or getting wasted at the pub on this list. While I do think there is a time and a place for these things – especially if you’re doing it with your BFFs! – generally you won’t wake up the next morning feeling ready to take on the world again – which is the goal here.) Onwards and upwards… Continue reading

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14 Gift Ideas for Yogis / Yoga Lovers

gift ideas for yogis and yoga loversDecember 14th already? Shoot, I’m more behind with my Christmas shopping than I thought! Luckily, so are my BFF and husband who have both asked me what I want for Christmas and my January birthday this past week. It got me thinking – what is a good gift for a yoga lover?

Here’s a compilation of my favourite online finds.

(Pssst… send this list to your other half when she/he asks what you want!)

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Taiwan Eats – Vegetarian Food in Taipei

image3-1Hello from Taipei!

As is the case on a visit to Taiwan, I’ve been eating all the food.

After the first week here I thought I was going to balloon into Augustus Gloop such was the frequency and gluttony of our indulgence, but it turns out that after a month here I’ve learnt the secret to staying trim on a Taiwanese diet… window shopping! As is the case in most of Asia, consumerism is rife and we seem to hop from one department store to the next on a daily basis. My iPhone tells me I’ve been easily clocking up 10,000 steps a day without even trying. Surely that calls for calories…

Here’s what’s been on the menu and in my mouth.

Western Vegetarian Food at Mia Cucina

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Though Taiwan does vegetarian food well, its traditional style is fried, salty and same-y. I was craving fresh and raw and Mia Cucina did not disappoint. We ordered two salads, corn soup, portobello mushrooms, a cheese toastie and a flatbread to share between four of us. The perfect meal on a rainy Taipei day. I suggest you order more and take home the leftovers.

Location: No.48 Dexing West Road, Shilin District, Taipei 111. 111士林區德行西路48號

Coconut Chia Pudding at Cafe by Juicy Diary

 

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Regrettably I had already eaten breakfast when we hit up Cafe by Juicy Diary but that didn’t stop me from ordering this chia pudding with seasonal fruit for elevenses. The owners hail from San Francisco and they bring fresh cold pressed juices and Instagram-worthy healthy eats to the Da’an district. My fellow diners had avocado and egg on toast and a brunch bagel. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu here.

Location: No. 2, Lane 14, Siwei Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106. 台北市大安區四維路14巷2號一樓

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I Looked and I Found.

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What a precious day today was.

After feeling utter despondency after yesterday’s election result I decided to look for signs of hope, positivity, strength and kindness. Took G for a walk first thing and passed a nondescript building with a Buddhist sculpture inside. I asked my Mother in Law what it was and she said the local temple had collapsed in an earthquake so this was their temporary location.

A monk saw us looking in and invited us in for tea. What happened next blows my mind…

3 nuns who spoke great English and showed us around. We were then invited back for lunch with the head of the Monastery. The kindest, sweetest soul. She told me that she’d been praying for a foreigner to drop by and practice her English with and was happy the Gods had answered her prayers.

There are no foreigners in this town so though she was educated in America she cannot use her language skills. And there we were. And practice she did. And then we ate a delicious vegetarian feast. And I found hope, positivity, strength and kindness.

It exists all over the world, we just have to believe in it.

This post originally appeared on Instagram. You can find me on Insta here.

Because My Dog Was Once a Refugee, Too.

We made it to Taiwan for the extended holiday. Yesterday I attended my Mother in Law’s English class at the local town hall as the VIP guest (cringe!). The topic of the day was dogs. Naturally, I was in my element.

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3 days in to our trip and I’m already having withdrawal symptoms from my pup – I now know what his separation anxiety feels like.

The withdrawal manifests itself by staring longingly at other fluffy white dogs on the street, my brain tricking me that it might be Sunny, fantasising about taking one of the street dogs home with me, and launching into verbal diarrhea anytime someone asks about my pooch. So that’s what happened yesterday in class.

My darling Mother in Law also launched into a full blown soliloquy at one point about Sunny and explained how we came to adopt him. Cue the best English mistake ever:

“Sunny is from the shelter. Before, he was a refugee.”

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The UK has the Lowest Rate of Breastfeeding in the World. (This one thing could help.)

There was much to-do last year when world breastfeeding rates were published in the media and the UK ranked as the lowest in the world.

Here are some of the figures released:

  • As of 2010, 81% of babies in the UK were breastfed at birth
  • At three months, the number of mothers in the UK breastfeeding exclusively was 17% and at four months, it was 12%
  • Exclusive breastfeeding at six months remains at around 1%
  • After one year, 0.5% of UK women is still doing any degree of breastfeeding. This compares with 23% in Germany, 56% in Brazil and 99% in Senegal

As you can see, it seems that the issue is not that women don’t want or try to breastfeed – there is a huge percentage starting off with breast. But the continuation rate for breastfeeding is shockingly low.

I’m currently on an extended trip to Taiwan – I’m here for about three months here in total where my baby will be 4-7 months – and I was amazed to learn how good the breastfeeding rates are here.

Rates in Taiwan:

  • In 2016, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months was 45.5%
  • This is above the global average of 38% and just short of the WHO’s 2025 goal of 50%.

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What has driven this high breastfeeding rate?

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Inhale, Exhale

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glennon-doyle-meltonNew favourite obsession: The words of Glennon Doyle Melton. What a wise (and hilarious) egg this lady is. I’m late to the party but glad I made it anyway.

I’m currently reading Carry On, Warrior, listening to her story on the Beautiful Writers podcast, watching her on Marie Forleo and pre-ordering her latest book.

I’ve told all my closest go-to girls that they must devour the above content A.S.A.P so that we can jointly digest and discuss. Already three of them have THANKED me for the introduction. They’re as hooked on her words as I am.

Pure class and the sanest words about love + being a woman + grace + realness this side of Venus. Thanks Glennon!

Go read her site now!

 

Sisters & Happiness

Today I had lunch with two sisters. One is a (my) yoga teacher, one a doctor, they were born 22 months apart. What a special honour! It reminded me that there is an energy and spirit between sisters that can’t be matched.

I ADORE my relationship with my younger sister. I love our conversation; the details of our daily lives, thoughts, emotions and relationships – often seemingly pointless to an outsider but so incrediblsisters-cactusy important to us.

I love our dynamic; no judgement whatsoever, even when one of us is acting good-crazy or bad-crazy.

I love our memories; our childhood habits & idiosyncrasies, our family holidays, our first-everythings.

I love our honesty; we’d both no doubt look and act like a hot mess without the tough love we direct at one another to course-correct bad decisions and cheer on the good ones.

I love that we share the same parents. That sounds dumb in writing, but who else can understand the intricacies of the most important relationships of our lives?

There was a study released several years ago that says sisters make you happier, more optimistic and “better at coping with life’s problems”. The theory is that the open communication sisters have is good for our emotional health.

Side note: after living with my sister for 3 months this summer I had to be careful when socialising with other people – we’d spent so much time together speaking SO openly and intimately that I became used to that level of conversation. Most inappropriate in the majority of social situations 🙂

I love you sis! There’s no one I’d rather share my chocolate cake with…

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Pep ❤