“Let me sleep and dream of sheep”

vladislav-muslakov-CwIU33KGToc-unsplash

 

 

 

 

On any given evening I don’t know what the night holds for me. Will I fall and stay asleep or will I be thumb twiddling at four a.m?

I have struggled with bouts of insomnia and poor sleep most of my adult life and having tried various things I now have a routine that seems to be helping and although my sleep isn’t perfect, it is much better than it has been. Whether you are a serial insomniac like me or just suffer occasionally here are a few of my tips for a restful night :

  1. Bookend your day with exercise: I start the day with a walk in my local area or spend some time on the cross trainer followed by an invigorating flow yoga practice. At the opposite end of the day I like to do a short Yin Yoga practice to help me wind down for the day. I, like most of the world subscribe to Yoga with Adriene on Youtube and have found it to be an amazing resource. I have linked my favourite sequences down below.
  2. I love coffee and historically was second only to the fictional Lorelei Gilmore in my consumption of it. These days however I limit myself to 2 cups per day, both of which are consumed before 11 am.
  3. Research has shown that magnesium is important for aiding with restful sleep. I prefer to boost mine by eating lots of lovely magnesium rich foods throughout like Kale, spinach, buckwheat, quinoa, avocados, almonds, cashews, chia and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate. Legumes (lentils, chickpeas and beans) are also a rich source but I have to be more careful with these as they are high FODMAP and really don’t agree with my tum. Bananas are also an excellent source and are my supper of choice.
  4. Post my evening yoga practice I don’t have any interaction with screens – phone, T.V or laptop. This is my official wind down that lets my brain know that I am preparing for sleep. In this time I take apply a lavender body oil. Sometimes this will be homemade blend of fractionated coconut oil, a few drops of lavender and either a drop of patchouli or frankincense or a ready made product like the bath and shower drops from The Scent to sleep range by Neom Organics. Once the oil is applied I jump into the shower where the heat and steam helps to release the essential oils that aid a restful night. I then do all the usual skincare ablutions and brush my teeth.
  5. I jump in to my Pjs (I find natural fibres are better for sleep) and make a warm. I know many people swear by a milky drink at bedtime but they just don’t do it for me and I prefer a herbal tea. I’m currently drinking one from Neals Yard Remedies that has the herbs chamomile, lavender and valerian in it. I do really like it but I also love the super affordable chamomile tea from Aldi and the Pukka Night Time Tea. Valerian, chamomile and lavender are know soporifics and through personal experience can vouch that I sleep better when I have had a tea with them in. I have also read some great research regarding the benefits of lemon balm for aiding sleep, however I haven’t tried it because it interferes with my thyroid medication.
  6. I pop some lavender essential oil into my diffuser and climb into bed between 9- 10 pm. I like to read for a short spell while I drink my tea. I tend to read fantasy fiction in the evenings because A. it is my favourite genre and B. I have found that it is more restful than other genres; for example If I read non-fiction books my brain tends to whirl all night.
  7. The last jobs of the night are to turn off my diffuser and  to spritz my pillow with a sleep spray. I’m currently using the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from This works; it was a thoughtful gift from my sister, Victoria and I love it. I do sleep noticeably better and I think that’s because it contains a blend of yummy essential oils rather than just lavender.

If you struggling with sleep – which given the current anxiety surrounding the Covid -19 pandemic isn’t surprising – then just implementing some of this routine might help you too.

I’m aware that I have mentioned a number of proprietary products in this blog and want to reassure you that I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. These are the products that I have found genuinely help me and I have supplied links to either good offers and reliable suppliers

Love and light

Stella

Image by Vladislav Muslakov

Yoga with Adriene:
https://youtu.be/RQyX48NtDrQ

Fractionated coconut oil https://mothernaturesgoodies.co.uk/fractionated-coconut-oil-pure-natural-authentic-base-carrier-aromatherapy/

Lavender Oil https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-oils-and-blends/essential-oils/2182.html

Patchouli Oil https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-oils-and-blends/essential-oils/2135.html

Frankincense Oil https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-oils-and-blends/essential-oils/2237.html

Neom Organics https://www.neomorganics.com/products/perfect-nights-sleep-bath-oil

Pukka Tea https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/pukka-night-time-tea-60097652?skuid=097652&brandId=344

Neals Yard Remedies Herbal Tea https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/wellbeing/herbal-remedies/herbal-teas/8360.html

Pillow Spray https://www.thisworks.com/sleep/sleep-category/pillow-sprays/deep-sleep-pillow-spray-1145.html

 

The Holistic Glow-Up Part 4: Manifest

Today as a part of our Holistic Glow-Up i’m going to invite you to create a vision board. This may be a familiar practise for those already conversant with “The Secret” and the Law of attraction. For those new to this idea I here cite the philosopher and author, Bob Proctor: “The Secret gives you anything you want: happiness, health and wealth.” The premise is that whatever you want should be asked for in the affirmative “I want abundant health” because when you ask in the negative “I don’t want to be ill” the universe doesn’t hear the ‘don’t’ and proliferates the poor health.

Even if you are a sceptic and don’t believe in the law of attraction there is scientific evidence demonstrating that those who create vision boards tend to be successful at fulfilling there dreams and ambitions by the virtue of being confronted by their board regularly; ergo receiving a daily reminder of what they are striving for. The reminder motivates.

The things you will need for this project are: a piece of paper – the size is up to you-, scissors, images and quotes that really resonate and inspire you, glue, paper (to write quotes and the purpose of your board on) and pens.

setup2

I like the idea that if I put something out there into the universe in a positive way, the thing I need will come to me. Personally I have no interest in using the law of attraction to gather material things to myself but many people do and seemingly with great success. The theme of your board therefore, is entirely up to you. The images you choose may relate to the home and lifestyle you would like, to finding the perfect partner or success at work……you get the drift.

Once you have all the materials for the board have a play about with the images and find an arrangement that is pleasing and inspiring and start cutting and gluing. Be sure to include something handwritten, whether that be a quote, an affirmation or a positive statement outlining the purpose of the board i.e I feel happy and have abundant health. I feel that something handwritten in addition to any printed quotes you may have is a direct statement of intent, it is an active act.

Below is a quick hyperlapse video of the process I used for my health and well being board. When you board is complete place it where you will see it daily and take time to look and reaffirm what you wish to receive.

I know there will be those who think “what is she on about, has she gone mad?” Perhaps I have, but I leave you with the wisdom of Kate Bush commenting in her song ‘Strange Phenomena’ on the occurrence of deja vu, synchronicity and by extension the law of attraction. A great many of us will have experienced the events she describes and who is to say how these events come about: coincidence? Manifestation? Well; that’s entirely up to you.

 
Strange Phenomena

Soon it will be the phase of the moon
When people tune in.
Every girl knows about the punctual blues
But who’s to know the power behind our moves?

A day of coincidence with the radio
And a word that won’t go away.
We know what they’re all going to say.
“G” arrives–“Funny, had a feeling he was on his way!”

We raise our hats to the strange phenomena.
Soul-birds of a feather flock together.
We raise our hats to the hand a-moulding us.
Sure ’nuff, he has the answer
He has the answer
He has the answer, be-duh-be-duh-be-duh-be-duh…
“Om mani padme
Om mani padme
Om mani padme hum.”

You pick up a paper. You read a name.
You go out. It turns up again and again.
You bump into a friend you haven’t seen for a long time
Then into another you only thought about last night.

You hear your sister calling for you
But you don’t know where from.
You know there’s something wrong
But you don’t want to believe in a premonition.

We raise our hats to the strange phenomena.
Soul-birds of a feather flock together.
We raise our hats to the hand a-moulding us.
Sure ’nuff, he has the answer
He has the answer
He has the answer, be-duh-be-duh-be-duh-be-duh…
“Om mani padme
Om mani padme
Om mani padme hum.”

The Blackbird by William Morris

 

f618264a3c9e71d76ce517dea5e9cb47

 The Blackbird

Listen to the blackbird singing
To the red flush in the west!
Of all that sing the spring in
The blackbird singeth best

O! how the music swelleth!
As he flutters there hard by,
For joy of the tales he telleth,
For the song that shall never die.

The young lime where he singeth
Will remember all his song,
When on his trunk time bringeth
The mosses clinging long.

To the bees by the blossoms humming
The leaves will tell the tale
In the summer that is coming
As they flutter in the gale[.]

 His singing riseth higher
To the small clouds overhead,
It goeth on to the fire
By the small clouds that is fed.

Sunsets will keep his singing;
When the lime is on the ground.
In the ivy about it clinging
Will thoughts of the song be found.

William Morris
unpublished Draft in B. L. Add. MS 45,298A, ff. 34-34v, in what may be Morris’ hand; see 3.

 

 

A new broom

When I started this blog over six years it had a very particular purpose: a means of documenting a specific research project. When the project was completed my interest in the blog waned, my posts became sporadic and inevitably ceased. The blog was abandoned and alone, left to languish in cyberspace with only the occasional bit of tumbleweed for company.

The trouble was my blog became a place where I only really talked about art, mainly Pre-Raphaelite art. Now don’t get me wrong, I love, live and breathe the Pre-Raphaelite movement, but therein lies the problem. My PhD research is on the Pre-Raphaelites, so I’m constantly thinking and writing about them and often ‘the other stuff ‘I enjoy doing, thinking and writing about gets pushed to one side because it doesn’t fit the parameters I imposed on the blog.

I thought about starting a new blog for ‘the other stuff’ but soon realised that it was a silly idea, not least because there is a perfectly good blog sitting there. All that’s needed is a rethink, revamp and reboot.

As of today I’m reclaiming this space, taking a brush to the tumbleweed and building myself a cabin. Much of the content will still be fuelled by the titular terms of art and aesthetics; but in their broadest sense. The below painting by Pieter Claesz pretty much sums up the direction I want to take, i.e the embracing of all the senses and not limit myself to just the visual.

This gives me the freedom to explore my many passions, which, I will no doubt manage to somehow link to the Pre-Raphaelites, because let’s face it, that’s how I roll.

Dear Mr Lee, Shakespeare is a national disaster

Its Shakespeare’s birthday hurrah!

I love Shakespeare, however I’m feeling a bit mischievous and here offer the irreverent musings of the poet UA Fanthorpe. Although I don’t share the adolescent protagonist’s assertion that ‘Shakespeare… is a national disaster’, I am amused by it.

UA Fanthorpe had a distinguished career as a teacher, but chose to turn her back on it to become a receptionist and pursue her interest in writing poetry. I’m so glad she did. Her poetry is linguistically simple, but extremely witty.

More about UA Fanthorpe can be found here: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=157#

Dear Mr Lee

Dear Mr Lee (Mr Smart says
it’s rude to call you Laurie, but that’s
how I think of you, having lived with you
really all year), Dear Mr Lee
(Laurie) I just want you to know
I used to hate English, and Mr Smart
is roughly my least favourite person,
and as for Shakespeare (we’re doing him too)
I think he’s a national disaster, with all those jokes
that Mr Smart has to explain why they’re jokes,
and even then no one thinks they’re funny,
And T. Hughes and P. Larkin and that lot
in our anthology, not exactly a laugh a minute,
pretty gloomy really, so that’s why
I wanted to say Dear Laurie (sorry) your book’s
the one that made up for the others, if you
could see my copy you’d know it’s lived
with me, stained with Coke and Kitkat
and when I had a cold, and I often
take you to bed with me to cheer me up
so Dear Laurie, I want to say sorry,
I didn’t want to write a character-sketch
of your mother under headings, it seemed
wrong somehow when you’d made her so lovely,
and I didn’t much like those questions
about social welfare in the rural community
and the seasons as perceived by an adolescent,
I didn’t think you’d want your book
read that way, but bits of it I know by heart,
and I wish I had your uncles and your half-sisters
and lived in Slad, though Mr Smart says your view
of the class struggle is naive, and the examiners
won’t be impressed by me knowing so much by heart,
they’ll be looking for terse and cogent answers
to their questions, but I’m not much good at terse and cogent,
I’d just like to be like you, not mind about being poor,
see everything bright and strange, the way you do,
and I’ve got the next one out of the Public Library,
about Spain, and I asked Mum about learning
to play the fiddle, but Mr Smart says Spain isn’t
like that any more, it’s all Timeshare villas
and Torremolinos, and how old were you
when you became a poet? (Mr Smart says for anyone
with my punctuation to consider poetry as a career
is enough to make the angels weep).

PS Dear Laurie, please don’t feel guilty for
me failing the exam, it wasn’t your fault,
it was mine, and Shakespeare’s
and maybe Mr Smart’s, I still love Cider
it hasn’t made any difference.

Possession at a decadent pace

The world moves at such an incredible pace that it is easy to forget how joyful taking your time over something can be, whether its eating, walking or simply just being.

About a month ago I started reading possession by A.S Byatt and rather than read it voraciously over a couple of days I decided to take my time and luxuriate in its beautiful prose. Just the act of reading it slowly and carefully has left me feeling refreshed, inspired and creative. I have only read about two hundred pages so far, so I’m not even half way through yet and am very excited to see what happens next…

So far Possession has inspired me to revisit the beautiful fairy-like poetry of Mary Coleridge and to read’ Christabel’ by her great great Uncle Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Both these poets have a lovely enchanted and uncanny quality to their writing but since ‘The Deserted House ‘ by Mary Coleridge is a current favourite here it is:

The Deserted House

There’s no smoke in the chimney,
And the rain beats on the floor;
There’s no glass in the window,
There’s no wood in the door;
The heather grows behind the house,
And the sand lies before.

No hand hath trained the ivy,
The walls are grey and bare;
The boats upon the sea sail by,
Nor ever tarry there.
No beast of the field comes nigh,
Nor any bird of the air