Posted in Debate, families, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet

So Where Does H.E.L.E.N Go From Here?


Yesterday, I posted a new blog post launching H.E.L.E.N ( which stands for Health, Eating, Learning, Education and Nutrition) and so far, the comments have been great and really encouraging. I had 103 visitors to my site and I guess the reason for that is, hopefully, most people can relate to what I have said so far with their own bodies, habits and minds.

So, I have taken a look at my site and updated a few things, along with the new picture, to make a more effective statement as to what I am up to. Please feel free to make any comments and suggestions. This is not just my site now but yours. I want you to own it and share it, if you want to. By visiting here, my hope is that you are taking a vested interest in you and your families health, happiness and well-being.

One of my facebook friends started a discussion with me and I thought it contained some really important points that I wish to share. So many people that I have spoken to, when we are talking about long-term conditions, have what I call an overlapping jigsaw affect, of multiple symptoms and problems impacting on each other. Often, you go the GP with the biggest and most pressing one in mind, that is affecting you the most, and the doctor will do their best to sort it out. But I truly believe that only joined up thinking ( Yes, the holistic approach that a 10 min GP consultant can’t cover) is the only way to reduce the NHS bill and most importantly save the patient more distress and illness in the end.

One scenario goes something like this:

A person puts on weight due to comfort eating because of long-term stress, or trying to quit smoking. We all know the addictiveness of smoking, so we kick one habit for another which is often eating. Stress raises cortisol levels and the body goes into the ‘flight or fight mode’ and this creates hormonal signals which says to the body, please store fat. The person feels fed up because more weight piles on. They start to diet, only this causes other chemical reactions which also tells the body to store fat: this body is in starvation mode now! Weight loss is hard work and they give up. Weight gain over time then causes old joint problems to flare up, or make their already existing hypertension (raised blood pressure) worse. They go the doctors, are prescribed more pills which in turn can cause side-effects, and that then exacerbate another condition previously under control.You get the picture.

Four people I know springs to mind here when giving the above example. I cite it because this is another reason why I wanted to do this blog. How can we find the answers to such a common scenario but very tricky to solve problem? This is what I am going to be digging over and over, until I, and I hope others on here will share their answers with their replies. I don’t have straightforward explanations, but when I was a district staff nurse, I passionately believed in the the concept of what was then known as ‘The Expert Patient.’ People finding out what works for them, or not and SHARING IT.

Today, I will leave you with this. This morning my husband and I started a new drink. It looked weak and white washed sitting in the cup. Until I learned to drink water, on its own, recently I wouldn’t have given it house-room. It is hot water with lemon and honey; one of the best digestion remedies there is apparently. It was OK. Tell you more about it next time and why lemon and honey are so good for you. I am hoping it will help with my Rosacea, as this has been shown to be linked with a digestive problem. To establish the root causes of disease, rather than just treating the surface, remains one of the greatest challenges facing C21st century medicine today!

( Disclaimer: These are personal views and are not intended to replace trained medical consultations. Therefore, always obtain the necessary medical advise, and do not stop taking any medication, unless advised to do so by a your medical practitioner.)

Posted in Change, goals, Government, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Research

Launching H.E.L.E.N on a budget.

For many years now I have wanted to write. So I set up this blog, published some posts, then life took over and certain events took over and it has sat idle. Then, I started working in education- helping EAL ( English as an additional language) children and learning new things and now that old feeling of wanting to write something of use, of value just keeps coming back.

But what do I write about? I know people who have published their work and they have told me that you need a market, a target audience and lots of practice. Like any skill, you have to practice- like my drawing, and you have to want to do it and know something about what you are writing about.

Now, I have found the answer. For me, it has never been about publishing as an ego boast. It can be trendy to write novels, articles and get your name in W.H.Smiths. That would be nice of course but why do I want to write? I asked myself that question at the beginning of the year. It is simple: to write something that people need, that they want to hear. To help people- yes, that’s it.

I am passionate about health, well-being and nutrition, and as a nurse I have found that I am good with health-promotion and in general people do have confidence in me when they talk to me. I have been touched over and over again when people ask me things, at work and in a personal setting. I love research and I am good at that too. I have loved discussing academic papers with Kathryn – my daughter who is at UNI, and I have a Post Grad Cert in Women’s Health Studies which I should use.

So this is what I am up to. H.E.L.E.N now stands for Health. Eating, Learning. Education. Nutrition. Perhaps, my name has always meant to be this.:)) Recently, I have been watching a lot of weight loss and health videos (and the same message is beginning to  re-occur) but there is always a catch. For you to find out about this or that, it involves payment for that plan, that book, that slim fast club. You watch many, many minutes of information but … it keeps you hanging right to the end and then someone wants your money.

So, I am cutting through all of that by looking at the ideas and then doing my own research and I am going to share it for FREE to you. Because, that’s the next thing. Since becoming a teaching assistant I have truly looked in my purse and with the money I have say:

“Is this for food or petrol, prescriptions or can I buy X?”

I am thrifty and love a bargain and also know that for many on a minimum wage, feeding yourself and your family for health (note I did not say just for weight loss,) just feels impossible and can be time consuming. People start off with good intentions and then drift away.

Also, since, I have been on Facebook, I see all sorts of peoples’ experiences. Of suffering, of need, of joy and pain. Everyone is striving for one thing:happiness. Some see it in a holiday, a new possession, getting something fixed, going out, sharing, being kind, getting things of their chest or simply letting it all hang out….

So with my firm belief that empowering others, sharing, and creating the kind of life you want for yourself, my writing is going to focus, within this blog site, my own journey as I learn about what works for me. To be well, energised, happy and free. I am going to share with you everything I learn about H.E.LE.N.

Everyone knows the Mantra of ‘five a day,’ calories in versus calories out but we have a nation of sickness both physical and emotional on an endemic scale. I have known depression, have a skin condition, have joints that ache sometimes and have a sugar addiction, so I am with you. I am no different to anyone else struggling to get fit, feel well and be happy.

Therefore, alongside learning better English ( that in turn will help my job for the longer-term) this is my plan. Of course, you would say there is a lot of information out there already and, yes, you are right. However, I want to search through all the chaff and the wheat, the gimmicks and the good ideas and to hit it straight at you here for you to decide. This is personal, with a disclaimer, that I am not giving a medical opinion or anything other than general information, for you to go off and get any of the proper professional opinions you need.

It’s one good way to get writing and it’s one great way to feel that you might just be helping someone. If you want to keep reading… welcome aboard. I hope you enjoy the path as much as I am wanting to see where the path leads and takes us all. I am very excited about this!

Posted in achievement, Change, Children, families, goals, Health, Home, Learning, Modern society, Personal Growth, Skills, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized

Balancing Lifes’ Scales

A mini-post for today.

Life generally feels so much better these days and I thought a few observations about this feeling would be worth posting this morning. Stress is something that has plagued me a lot in my life, that learning to handle it better did seem essential only a few weeks back. There is one thing important which has leapt out and graped me in particular since then.

Stress can be tolerated if you feel empowered and in control. You can be busy and hectic, yet if you feel well, engrossed, on top of the situation and feeling confident, it appears -well for me anyway, that you have the energy and drive to deal with it. Negative stress is where you feel events are taking over, that drowning feeling under a ton of responsibility, jobs and the shere weight, burden and heaviness of the whole experience. That is what leads to burn out for me.

My work/life balance has always had tight boundaries. Yes, I will stay late when there is a real need, like this week especially. I don’t mind and will try to take the time back at some point. I am never a rigid clock watcher:

“Right down tools” kind of attitude. My work can not be dictated by diary slots and appointments. Working for the sick and vulnerable is never routine. People don’t plan to be ill on schedule. However, I do place strict limits as to what work I take home. I liked to be paid for what I do and my voluntary work is not usually connected with any paid employment. Home/Life balance still needs more work to maintain this better. That’s because it is all around you, and the boundaries are right up, across and into your face in the home environment.

Even so, I have with reasonable success, created a more efficient home life and extra fun and creative time. This still needs more work though. I haven’t the correct weight on the scales yet for this aspect to be evenly balanced. Children can erode on time and I have had to be stricter on this. No more just clearing up the mess and being like a Cinderella.

I love my time on the Internet, yet blogging has been patchy and flickr has been virtually nil. This needs adjustment. Too much time on Twitter and yet so much still to learn from  the whole computer experience. Photo editing, PowerPoint presentations, Skype and  word-processing are skills which all takes time. So much to learn. This being fitted around academic study soon to be completed.

In conclusion: Being happy in your work and in control, having enough sleep and eating the right foods are all vital if we are to live productive, healthy lives. Having things to look foreword to and having some protected times of rest and mini pampering is also good for the spirit. It means that if you have a tough time ahead with work etc, then you feel more prepared and you don’t resent it so much. I have the next five days ahead which are going to be toughies, yet I am already looking ahead at the six days after that, which will be time off . Learning to clear sections of the dairy ahead and say:

“No more, this is all for me now. I have worked hard and earned this.”

And not to feel guilty about it, or to let someone/or something hijack the space.

Learn to say NO!

Have a great Day.

Posted in Change, goals, Ideas, Personal Growth, Relationships, Skills

New Year, New Start, New Beginnings

Hello blogging world. How I have missed being here.

Just wanted to say a few words. I am now back to blogging after a period of absence caused by severe stressful events. However, I have learnt a lot from these, about myself and about what I need to do to become a more effective person, rather than just being an efficient person. Times have been hard, pain has been extreme and there may be still more stress and pain to come. But, I have crossed an important threshold and turning point in my life of which there is no return.

While essentially my basic personality and character will stay the same, key changes do have to be made in the way I act and think in the future. My priorities have to be appraised and my goals fine honed and made much more specific. That does not mean to say my acting and thinking has been totally flawed- not at all, just re-adjusted so I am not open to exploitation, being taken advantage off, and not  in a way which could compromise me and my deeply kind and caring character. This has been my experience in recent times and it has been very painful. Open, honest and vulnerable, yes: trusting to a point yes. But, to be more guarded and wise when it comes to other people, their motives and their actions. I also need to think more about myself and less of what others do and think, though I remain committed to caring for people and fostering love and friendships.

My own personal and professional boundaries have had to be examined closely and mistakes realised with courage and not perceived as failure. This will hopefully protect me and my family more in the future.

So enough said for now. I still have been, from time to time, looking at other blogs. Now time to get back in on the written scene, if that make sense.

Happy New Year to you all. I placed a new callendar up today and this action seemed very smybolic. New start and new beginnings. What could be a better time than in the month of January 2009.

Posted in achievement, Art, Learning, Music, Religion, Skills, Thoughts, Time, Writing

British Library Museum

From its outside appearance, from the road, the British Library could almost be mistaken for a red brick supermarket, small un-assuming and rather plain building, sitting next to St Pancras railway station. You entre the main entrance and you not sure what to expect next. And then, much to your surprise, you realise you have only just touched the surface of this incredible building, as you pass through the main entrance. The library gracefully beckons you from a short distance away. Very peaceful, set in quiet surroundings, the busy London street just melts away into the background and you find yourself, with much anticipation, just thinking about what’s next and around the corner.

I knew this visit, as part of my annual London trip with my Aunt, was going to be special. What I did not expect was, how much excitement it would generate. How I want to go back now, explore it further and just stay there all day. It wasn’t just the atmosphere of the place that enthralled me; the interior, a lofty, cream and red structure with fabulously designed ceilings, or the fantastic, visually clean lighting and plush modern layout which captured my imagination the most; it was what this building represented and signified: this was the world of learning.

Now, I was with someone who loves culture and art but who I have never seen read a novel, so I knew that paying for a reading pass to read in this place was not going to happen that day. Another day out then, that would have to wait. Still, I was going to get a through good look round. My Aunt loves walking and I wanted to explore every crevice while there was time.

We headed for the main and most popular section of the library first. The hot house of “bookish” treasure. The history collection, where all the famous authors we would perhaps like to aspire to were sitting; their pen and ink preserved in dim lighting and secure glass cases. It was a feast for the eye this. In the end, my Aunt did sit and wait patiently for me. She was happy to gaze and scan briefly, I took in as much detail as I could. It was wonderful. They were all there, yes all of them, as much as I could tell. Charlotte Bronte’s fine delicate notes of Jane Eyre, Hardy, Wordsworth and one of my favourite poets Rubert Brooke. My Aunt’s son had bought me a book of his poems once and I got to know him then. Shelley, Shakespeare and so on, the journey through the years of artistic and scholary thinking moved on through the many display cases.

 What surprised me most was, there were not only written drafts, books and notes but musical scores could be found as well. Mozart and Shubert to name a few. You couldn’t help but start to imagine these people and their music, and soon you were playing their sonnets and symphonies in your head. Visually, it was stunning to. Not just dusky, dusty old books but illustrations centuries old, of religious manuscripts laced in gold film and elaborate edging. The labour of love, these scribes and scholars must have spend their whole life dedicated to these sacred religious works and their faith of which this art was founded upon.

Phew! Eventually it was coffee time. Even that was an experience. There were several cafes, of course there would need to be, spacious and seriously studious. Many visitors would sit with coffee in one hand and laptop in front of them. Minds playing, tinkering with words, forming arguments and ideas, reading, writing, thinking, creating. What a fantastic place this is I thought.

Eventually, we briefly looked at a separate area designed to show you the skilled process of preserving the books and paper. Apparently, every copy of every book published finds its way to the British Library. Passing back through into the main area, I glanced at some of the reading sections one could visit if you purchased a pass. I saw humanities and social sciences and thought, yeap, I am heading straight for you first when I come back.

I am hoping to return to the British Library in January for my birthday. What a treat. A train to King’s Cross, then just five minutes walk to the library. I plan to sit all day, explore and read, take tea and come home. What could be absolutely better that that. Not everyone would want to spend their birthday this way but for me it is ten times better than any shopping trip in Oxford street.

For those of you who like books and enjoy reading then go on, take a visit to the British Library Museum; the main library is free, you only have to pay for reading passes. I am not sure how much these are but I can’t imagine they would be that expensive. Further information can be found on the Library’s website.

Finally, I share my birthday with the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. I am a Burn’s night babe, where the Scots party and eat Haggis. I won’t be eating Haggis that day but if you want to find me then you will know where I will be; taking tea and having my own ball.


Posted in achievement, Change, Children, Commitment, Debate, goals, Home, Ideas, Learning, Personal Growth, Psychology, Relationships, Skills, Thoughts


The word learning will have many different meanings to people and how their own views, believes, perceptions and thoughts, when pondering upon its definition, will differ and perhaps extend to another word linked to learning, that being education. Education and learning for me, and to many other thinkers, philosophers, teachers and writers will be words viewed as a process entwined both together as well as separately. To be educated does not mean that the individual has learnt anything at all. To learn something, a process or a skill, in a “parrot fashion” manner does not mean that that person will automatically enquire further into that activity. To enquire further in to the “nuts and bolts” of the process would be one example of where Higher Education has taught the learner to critically reflect upon the learning or task at hand, and to build up the critical thinking necessary to ask: why should that activity be executed in that way; or why that particular frame of thinking or working works or not, the way it does or does not, within the intended outcomes/results.

I was having a conversation with my own daughter today about school, talents, ambitions and the process of learning. My daughter initiated the conversation. She was struggling with the belief that because she went to school and did her home work, in other words, she was receiving an education, she could not understand why she still felt not up to scratch when comparing herself to the other pupils. She wanted to emulate a close friend she hung out with at school. Someone who was better at sport, did not try nearly as hard as she did with their studies and always seemed to shine and obtain better class marks. To my amazement and with a great sense of her own self-awareness, she announced that she knew her interests in clothes and fashion were hollow and meaningless compared to the learning and skills she could have.

This resulted in a lively and confident discussion between us. I explained that when comparing ourselves with others we will always fall short. We can perceive them to be better and cleverer than us-what ever clever means? But the most important point of all was to view all activities in life as a potential area for growth, learning and development. I explained she could go through the process of tasks – completing homework and projects, but deep down she needed to discover the passions and interests which would help her motivation to learn new tasks and develop new talents. You can write essays, copy notes and do homework but learn little in the process. The task is quickly done and then forgotten. This short-term memory is in-evitable in many subjects that the student is trying to cram into their minds. Long-term memory requires repetition but also the commitment and motivation to keep going when it is not always easy.

I also explained that if she knew what she really had interests in and love for, then the easier it would be to study or grasp that subject. We talked on about my own continued education, what I had learnt with the computer, the writing, blogging and photographs and how hard work and patience were also requirements if she wanted to shine at anything in particular. Her conversation did not alarm me. At 13 years, the age is an extremely vulnerable one, when the young person is developing into an adult and the flux of change and who am I and what am I going to do becomes a pressing concern.

What she probably did not realise within this conversation was that key elements of learning and reflection were taking place and there was not a pen or text book in sight. There was no blackboard or lecturer, no set homework or activity to produce. She was asking, enquiring, debating and discussing. All essential elements, both in the overall process of education and within any specific learning activity.

My daughter has now gone away and thought more about this conversation. In fact, afterwards she wanted to bake a cake and produced a very fine Mississippi Mud Pie which she was pleased with and which tasted very good. I think she was thinking that she was good at cooking so that seemed a good place to start.

Finally, I can see why learning improves self-esteem. When you learn something new then that makes you feel good. It’s like a dominoes effect. The more you learn and experience, the more able you become, confidence grows and then this strength encourages you to become more advanced in other areas. It is a like a roller coaster of education, learning and experiences all thrown together. Sometimes, we don’t know where the ride will finish but the thrill of the ride is certain. Well, it has been for me up to now and I hope my daughter can feel the same.

Posted in achievement, Change, goals, Learning, Modern society, Personal Growth, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Tech-ie Tig:the new adventure

My nick name from the guy at home is TIG-er. Always has been since we first met. Now I am becoming Tech-ie Tig as my skills in technology grows by the day. I am taking a pause from my serious women’s stuff and want to spend , hopefully, a creative time explaning why I am a tech convert. Being rather shy of gadgets I have never bothered too much with them –  until I became involved in photography and my studies; learning computer skills was a must for both and the need just to e-mail a few friends became a thing of the past.

The whole issue for me around technology has rested up to recently on two things. Firstly, I love nature and people, hence gadgets seemed cold, lifeless, some what stilted objects, where people fiddled and played with them because they wanted to partly dis-engage from the real world, at least for a short while. I know of one friend who did just that until he died last year. Sometimes, I still see technology, as a subtle but sinister way of removing people from the social scene. The do-it-yourself check out system is one such example. You don’t talk to anybody while you press the buttons to pay, and it may mean people are no longer required to be employed. I don’t want society to turn into robots.  My husband in particular refuses to use such check outs and doesn’t own a mobile. Funny that, because he does love the computer.

That last point says a lot for me. It is all to do with confidence and function. My husband loves the computer because he can relate to it, have confidence to use it and it serves him a useful purpose, especially when he look up his eco stuff and take part in environmental surveys. To play or communicate on the phone is another thing altogether: he hates the phone so hence, his head blocks out the enquiry and interest of using a mobile. He says he does not understand one very much, when in reality he is not that bothered about that piece of engineering.

Years ago, it was he and not me that used to play on the computer, checking share prices, as then he was a keen stock market investor. Now, it is the other way round and we smile about it. For me, I have discovered that I could not live without my computer, internet access, my blog, flickr. To be without this would be like the end of life itself for me now. The big shift for me is simply this.

 I can see how technology makes the world an exciting place, to listen to music from the ipod when watching clouds and taking the dog for a walk. The pleasure of writing to my friends on-line, instead of waiting for the letter from my Australian penfriend to drop through the post. To publish my thoughts on line, knowing there are people out there, (a whole forum of people), who might just might be interested in what I have to say, even if they don’t leave a comment. I don’t have to be at the mercy of some publisher giving me the nod to express my thoughts.

Technology has enriched my life, given me new skills and confidence. It has brought pleasure to other people’s lives. I have just had a holiday and the owner of the B/B where we stayed is now merrily uploading her images to flickr and keeping in touch. She said something which made me realise how important skill sharing is,

If you had not been here to show me how to get my flickr account and upload, I would have tried on my own, stumbled upon an internet hick-up, got in a muddle and given up.

My skill enabled her to achieve something she could not, and now she can pass this to another. And so the world goes round. I am enormously grateful for those who have taken the time (and who still are willing) to teach me about the world of gagdets. Why struggle when a piece of equipment can help you? The new iphone is the next possible step in my tech adventure. Yes, I see it just as that. To be able to find a place by a touch of a button, giving me a map. To draft my writing when away from home. The former, I could have done with that last year when we were all trying to find a place in Portsmouth, that no map could help find. It would have saved time, stress and petrol as phone directions were required to find our place of stay last year on our holidays.

Considering all of the above,I believe I can be good with technology because:

  1. I have the patience to learn. Have nearly banged my brains out on here learning wordpress, and its great to have cracked it all but.
  2. I can see the advantages of technology in so many subject areas.
  3. It increases my confidence in other areas of study and the skills are transferable to other activities I have found very useful.
  4. People see you as a clever sod. Well, it helps at work and at home. People are impressed with my blog and my computer skills. They look me up and want to read. They see I have interests, perhaps I have not mentioned. They read and learn something.
  5. I have taught my aunt to text and now she doesn’t have to write letters anymore. She is 74 and loves it. My Uncle is now enrolled on a computer course.
  6. My photos have gained public exposure and one is now on the new iphone as part of a travel guide. This would have been unthinkable to me a year ago.

Do I want to stop learning now? Not a chance. I am a new convert, and the enthusiam of a evangelical convert to the cause of tech. Tech-ie Tig has seen nothing yet. I will continue to surprise myself and while I will always value people over objects, flowers and nature over steel; I love the thought of all those buttons.

Finally, the iphone. I can’t wait to feel the smooth sleekness in my hands ( I hear the feel is wonderful) and for the lights to illuminate the screen, as it is pushing the buttons simultaneously in my brain . Bring it on!!!!!

Posted in Debate, Ideas, Liberation, Personal Growth, Thoughts, Time, Writing

Why Blog?

Well, my blogging as you will see from my last post, soon grounded to a halt.

It has been hard not necessarily to find the time to write but because other factors and influences which puts pressure to bear not to blog. These come in the form of opinions from those who are often closest to you.

These are some of those opinions.

It is a waste of hours. What is being achieved and what is this doing to actually promote change of thought, attitude? Is this saving or helping the planet or the people within it?

These are some of the questions raised by my family as to the point of blogging. Certainly my time is precious. Working nearly full -time hrs, part-time studies, plus running and raising a family is all demanding stuff. I also  service a photographic website as well as learning computer skills, photography and I want to learn to type so I can write faster.

In essence, I have come back as I want to do this. I think it is important to engage in discussion, and for me most of all wanting to improve my writing and thinking skills for important work yet to come. That is a good enough reason for me. Also, I have been able to engage in some pretty lively debate with other bloggers and have learnt a lot about my own values and how they might be challenged.

So, my aim now is not to write everyday, it has to be manageable but to achieve at least one blog per week. Most of all, what is felt right now by me is, it is not important if I don’t say or write lots, but to write small meaningful pieces.

Of course, we all write simple day to day stuff but it is hoped most of what I say has some kind of message, or at least to create a thought,an impression. The problems up to now is that I have taken too long to get across what I want to say- 2hrs at least, whereas this has taken me no more than 15 mins.

I may have been absent but I am here to stay. The persuasion to change my nearest and dearest attitudes may take a little while.

Writing is such a powerful tool of growth and learning.

I want to do both in spade fulls.