The Mature Students Guide to Starting University

Goals, Journey Back to Health, Uncategorized, What's Happening?

It seems strange that this time last year I was tentatively finding out if I would finally be able to fulfil the dream of going to University to read Literature and Writing.  Here I am going into my second year (as I’m part time this is the second part of my first year).  I love uni; learning, reading, writing, heaven!  That’s not to say there aren’t points when it’s overwhelming, tiring and difficult to balance with small children, but here are a few things I have learnt….

images-8Prepare

In my experience, the one evening I need to get my head down, will be the evening one of my children get’s ill, won’t go to bed or launches a nuclear missile – all resulting in me needing to tend to my little darlings.  So, my tip…

Do as much preparation as possible.  Try and spend your time between now and starting uni working your way through your reading list.  If possible find out which areas you will be studying in order so you can read accordingly.  Once term starts you have so much additional work, squeezing it all in can become difficult so the more reading you can do before, the better.

Read All The Information

Expect a lot of information, try and read it all and pick out the relevant parts.  Most of it is online nowadays so keep an eye on your email and for links.  As with everything there is a lot of red-tape, Uni’s have to keep tabs on all students so there is lots of singing in, swiping ID cards so get up to speed on what you need to do and get into the habit of doing it from the very beginning.

Create ‘Uni Time’

How you work is unique to you and your situation but I found it easier to have dedicated university days.  If I’m in university for lectures, then I go straight to the library and work for as long as possible staying in that ‘uni headspace’.  Otherwise you know what it’s like, you get home think you will quickly put a wash on, make a coffee butUnknown-1 whilst getting a mug out the dishwasher you quickly unload it and before you know it you are totally out of your uni headspace and need to get the kids / go to work.  Plus you aren’t constantly trying to pickup where you left off as you are already there.

Give Yourself a Chance

There are skills that come with being at university and studying.  It takes time to become good at anything, including being a student.  If like me you have been out of formal education FOREVER, it is going to take time to get into the swing of it.  Thankfully that is what the first year is all about, finding your feet, learning skills and building your confidence.

Keep Going

Sometimes the hardest thing to do but keep going, allow yourself some flexibility, suddenly you will be at the end of the year and not believe how quickly it has gone.  You will be pleased of the summer break but then find you are even more excited to get back to it and into your 2nd year in September!

Happy Studying x

Kiddie Friendly Green Juice – AKA Dinosaur Juice

Delicious Healthy Recipes, Family Matters, Health & Beauty

I never thought in a month of Sunday’s I would be able to get my children to drink Green Juice, they seem to have built-in aversions to any vegetables so hiding them is key for me.

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I actually can’t take all the credit for this, as the starting block came from Peppa Pig (don’t all life affirming moments when you are under 5) and the episode when they made smoothies and juices including a Dinosaur Juice. Suddenly drinking some green wasn’t so unappealing but it still had to taste good. So I upped the fruit content et voila, the kids love it, phew!

This recipe is;

  • A splash of Filtered Water
  • 2 large handfuls of Kale
  • 2 sticks of Celery
  • 10 Strawberries
  • Half a medium Pineapple

I throw everything is my amazing Blendtec (new love of my life) and 40 secs later, have this wonderful juice.

Here is the Peppa Pig episode if you think your kids could benefit from learning about Dinosaur Juice!

Happy Juicing x

 

Beginners Guide to Blogging

What's Happening?, Writing & Blogging

I am so completely and beyond thrilled that my little blog has inspired others to start blogging.  My blog really is still a baby, recently having it’s typewritter blog 21st birthday.  There are a few things that I have learnt over the last year that I thought I would share with my newbie bloggers…

Tweet Tweet

If you haven’t used Twitter before it can seem a touch overwhelming but it is honestly easy once you get the hang of it and if I can do it, anyone can.  Most importantly it is amazing for bloggers as you can easily interact with people interested in what you are saying.

  • ALWAYS tweet a link to your latest post.
  • Make sure you use a #hashtag when tweeting about whatever your blog post is about so people can easily search for the content.
  • Follow others and reply to their tweets.  The more your name starting flashing up over twitter the more chance of people reading your blog.

Find Your Voice

There is so much information available on the internet that what people are looking for when reading blogs is a bit of personality, to really hear someone’s voice and understand their  experience.  A lot of my blog is about my experience with cancer and a colostomy, books I have read, places I have been, tips I can pass on through my knowledge or experience – not just a generic, this is what I researched and this is what I found.  I do incorporate those posts (although very much in my style) but it is the personal ones that people always relate and respond too.

vintage cameraPictures!

When faced with a long piece of writing, can look a bit drab, chuck in some pictures and it gives it some spark.  Using photo’s you have taken is always easiest, saves the whole copyright debacle but there are websites that supply free pictures should you so wish.

No Waffling

Attention spans are much shorter when reading online than in-print so keep blog posts much more specific and to the point.  I personally set an 1000 word limit on a bulky topic like cancer, 500 for a review type post.  Anything longer, people will switch off before they get to the end.

Keep Writing

Sounds obviously but with life / work / kids all getting in the way….  If you want to keep your stats up and readership high, then you need to keep posting.  When I have been quiet (like over the summer) the posts that I do post, don’t get anywhere near as much attention as the ones that I post when I am posting all the time – does that make sense?!  Having said that, don’t just be throwing out rubbish.  People will only keep reading, and you will only produce something you are truly proud of, if the posts are high quality contact.

photo copy 3Give Yourself a Chance

It takes time to build a blog, readership, followers, it wont happen over night, but that’s fine.  It takes time to experienced at anything, including blogging.  I would say it took a year before I felt my blog was really moving in the direction I wanted and getting recognition from it.  Use that time to keep posting, get together some great content and build your confidence anmd don’t worry about how quickly other blogs are growing.  I recently read on twitter,

Weeds grow faster than tree’s, it doesn’t make them better

Love this quote and seriously, how true?

Happy blogging and comment below with your blog links x

 

Are there any tips that you would share?  Please pop them in the comment box (right at the very very bottom of the post page… keep scrolling, it is down there I promise)

Clean Cocoa Coconut Bites

Delicious Healthy Recipes, Family Matters, Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

This is based on a recipe from Honestly Healthy a fabulous cookbook full of healthy clean recipes that I can’t recommend enough.  What I love most, especially during my 100 Healthy Days and since giving up processed sugar is the snacks and desserts section.  Yes they can be clean and here is one of my favourite at the moment….

I made mine slightly differently to the recipe to keep a cupcake type vibe which I knew would be more appealing to my little fussy easters.

  • 10 fresh pitted Dates
  • 50g Cacao powder
  • 25g raw Almonds
  • 200g Coconut Flakes
  • 30g Agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp Xylitol (I actually didn’t use this as I wasn’t able to get any in time)
  • 2 tbsp Water (I used filtered)
  • I also added tiny Coconut Flakes for dusting

This recipe couldn’t be easier – Pre-heat the over to 180

Chuck the dates, cacao powder and almonds into the blender and blend until it becomes a sticky paste (I don’t have a high powered blender so this did take a while and a bit of digging it out from under the blades and restarting but that was fine).

Chuck in everything else and blend till its a touch choppy consistency.

I popped my mixture into small cupcake cases, as I’ve said I knew my kids would prefer it and I thought it would make transporting them easier.

Pop in the oven for 10 minutes.

I then sprinkled very fine coconut flakes over the top.

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Allow the bites to cool completely before eating and there you have it.  Yummy goodness to pacify any sweet tooth and no nasties.  My husband actually didn’t believe I hadn’t included any sugar they tasted so good.

Happy eating! x

Day 36 – 100 Healthy Days – Keeping Momentum High

Health & Beauty, Journey Back to Health

There is no doubt that it was easier for me to stay healthy whilst in Spain.  The heat, swimming pool and delicious salads made it easier for me to eat healthy and move more everyday.  It’s when I’m home I seem to struggle, especially with sugar and caffeine.  I just get so tired with the kids etc… so it has to be done!

photoI know I said that I wasn’t going to ‘give up’ anything but as things are going quite well and want to keep moving in the right direction I decided to give up processed sugar.  As well as wanting to be healthier I have given up sugar due to the horrible fatigue I have been feeling ever since having cancer as a way to try and help combat that.  I am on day 6 now and it is going well.  Apart from on day 4 when I accidentally had sugar in a drink I didn’t realise it was in (we will come onto hidden sugars in due course) but basically….  I have been making some ‘clean’ desserts as fab alternatives, including these delicious Cocoa Coconut Bites that are also a hit with the children – win win!

Moving wise I have taken the plunge and hired a personal trainer to make sure I keep exercising regularly and get the most out of my workouts.  I will be starting with her on Thursday so in the mean time I keep moving and getting out and about and my Davina DVD’s whenever I can.  Even when it was raining at the weekend, hubby the kids and I all got our wellies on a headed into the woods for a long country walk, heaven!

So 36 days in I would say that one thing that has been interesting is the effect I believe it is having on my children.  They are getting out and about more and their diet has definitely improved as I find healthy or clean alternatives and – if I’m honest – I don’t want to be tempted by them eating something yummy I’m not allowed so I’m not giving them things I would have on occasion before.  All in all I believe it is having a positive impact on the whole family, which is only ever good news in my eyes.

Breathing Space Spa, Harpenden & ESPA Review

Beauty Treatment, Health & Beauty

Walking into Breathing Space, you walk into a busy cafe selling delicious healthy juices and meals, with a buzzy reception desk and people heading to Yoga or Pilates in their studio but as you walk upstairs you are transported into a wonderful calming haven.  Large sofas with luxurious throws.  Dark, beautifully carved wooden furniture that looks like it has just arrived from Bali.  Dimmed lighting and  the obligatory calming music means you could only be expected to do one thing, relax.

I hunted out Breathing Space because I am in love with ESPA treatments.  I don’t mean the products (which I also love) but the actual treatments.  ESPA have very specific training and way of doing treatments they expect all therapists who use ESPA to keep to.  Having trained in them myself when I worked The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, London, I really do know just how fantastic they are.  One of my favourite things is their philosophy that a treatments should be holistic and dedicated to you.  Their treatments are also very effective but non-invasive, a perfect combination.  I could go on and on about how fantastic ESPA is, but I think you get the point.

As with all things, an ESPA treatment is only as good as the person giving it.  I had a massage and facial and both were fantastic.  They upheld ESPA’s high standards perfectly and my skin felt and looked radiant afterwards.    The therapist took an interest in what I wanted to get from the treatment and could adapt the treatment to make sure that was what she focused on.  In the massage that was a lot of extra work around my shoulders.  In the facial, using regenerative and hydrating products and doing a lot of draining and massage on my face to help clear the layers underneath the skin and tension I hold in my jaw.

I do think Breathing Space is quite expensive, but I do think that you are paying for quality and in this case, it was worth every penny.

Life – but not as you knew it: Tired of being tired?

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health

Oh my gosh, this is exactly how I feel. In a way I am relieved it’s an actual thing & not me going mad. I have said so many times this is more than ‘being tired’ and it’s not to do with being a busy mum. It is all encompassing & mental as well as physical.

It is also true that rest doesn’t usually help but your not able to do anything either, even think clearly, so your left in a very strange & uncomfortable place.

Fantastic article….

Shine Cancer Support Blog

Fatigue is one of those issues that many people living with cancer experience, but that few discuss and even fewer understand.  At Shine, we know that fatigue often lasts far longer than the period when everyone expects you to be ill – if you’ve finished your treatment, friends and family often expect you to be back to normal relatively soon. And if you’re living with a chronic cancer, you might not look ill or tired, making it even more tricky to explain to people exactly why you feel so wiped out.

In this week’s blog, Sam shares her experiences of coping with fatigue, the impact is has, and how she is coping. Please share this if you can – the more people understand how tiring cancer is the better!


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Guest blogger: Sam Reynolds

The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.
–…

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