Couples in Northern Ireland rejoice following the news that gay marriage has been approved after Westminster MPs used their prerogative to pass the law on behalf of the region.Continue reading
Let’s be honest- we all need some help to lift our spirits sometimes and more often than not, a feel-good film can do just the trick.Continue reading
I find that a major cause of anxiety and depression can be a result of feeling unfulfilled in our daily lives, which is often brought on by not living to our fullest potential because we are not fulfilling our true purpose. You may not not know what your purpose is or perhaps you do know, but are unable to put it into practice for a variety of reasons.
We all need purpose. Even someone who has had a long, successful career and is now retired needs a purpose, which is often why retired people take up hobbies, volunteer or even return to work! Without it, we can feel numb, frustrated and depressed, with many people simply ‘making it through’ the working week and living for the weekend. This saddens me, as life should be about so much more than this and I truly believe that everyone was put on this earth for a reason and that we all have special gifts to give.
The popular book ‘The Alchemist’ tells the story of Santiago who goes in search of his ‘personal legend’, which is our destiny in life- the act of discovering our purpose and pursuing it. Within the book, he learns to follow his heart, listen to his intuition and be mindful of the omens that life provides us with.
People often do not pursue their calling because of a variety of reasons that range from fear of failure, lack of financial stability, being unsure where to start or unable to identify what their calling is. The Alchemist teaches us to never stop believing that there is a greater plan out there and to believe in the power of pursuing our purpose. The book’s author, Paulo Coelho said that ‘people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of’ and I believe that is true.
Here are some tips for finding your purpose:
- Ask yourself what you love and what comes easily to you
We all have passions and gifts. How can you merge the two? What interests and excites you? Start there, then go deeper.
2. Listen to your instincts
We were all born with a strong inner compass that informs us of the things that bring us joy. Connect with that voice and honor what you love by allowing yourself to live it.
3. Work with a life coach.
Often it is hard to ‘see the wood for the trees’ and finding a place for our passion can be overwhelming. This is where a professional life coach can be really helpful in guiding us towards our purpose and helping us to set solid goals to bring them to life.
4. Do ‘The Passion Test’
The Passion Test was developed by Chris and Janet Atwood to help you find your passion in life. They are the authors of the book ‘The Passion Test – The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose’ and have helped people in more than 50 countries on their journey to fulfillment.
5. Find your Ikigai
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means ‘a reason for being’ and is usually used to indicate the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The term roughly means ‘the thing that you live for’ or ‘the reason for which you wake up in the morning.’ Read all about start-up founder Chris Myers’ journey to find his Ikigai here.
6. Take action!
Jack Canfield said ‘you have the power to achieve greatness and create anything you want in life – but you must take action!’ Taking action can be a scary thing, especially when you don’t necessarily know where to start, but nothing can change unless you do something about it. Surround yourself with like-minded people, give yourself deadlines, find ways that you can get inspired and set goals to hold yourself accountable. You’ll be amazed how things begin to happen once you just start. Remember that passion + action = a purposeful life.
You were born with a purpose and have your own unique gift(s) to share with the world. Whatever your calling, know that you are worthy of success and worthy of being happy on a daily basis, not just on the weekend or when you’re on vacation. Life is short, so go after your dreams and goals, and don’t stop until you get there.
Do you know what your purpose is? Are you living your purpose or do are you still trying to figure it out? Leave us a comment below.
With Love, Ione
An 18 year old student from West Cork, Ireland, has been awarded $50,000 at the Google Science Fair for his revolutionary project.
Fionn Ferreira, won the competition for his methodology to remove microplastics from water. Microplastics have proven to be extremely troublesome for the environment as they are very small, making them virtually impossible to remove through filtration. This leads to a much larger issue that impacts fish and human beings, as small fish are known to eat microplastics and those fish are eaten by the larger fish that humans then eat. Microplastics are known to be exfoliating for the skin, and are therefore often included in soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs. They can also come off our clothes during laundry.
Founded by Google in 2011, the Google Science Fair encourages students ages 13 through 18 to submit their experiments in front of a panel of judges. The competition is sponsored by giants such as National Geographic, Lego, Virgin Galactic and Scientific American.
After being put through 1,000 tests, the method was proven to 87% effective in removing microplastics from water. Fionn’s goal is to have this method implemented at all wastewater treatment facilities, which would prevent the microplastics from reaching waterways and the ocean, thus decreasing the risk of humans consuming them through fish.
However, the ideal case scenario is that we all make a conscious effort to reduce the microplastics we use, so are plastic pollution is our ocean is a major worldwide threat. Here’s are three things you can do to reduce your microplastic consumption:
- Reduce your use of single-use plastics
- Recycle properly
- Avoid products containing microbeads
It sounds small, but if everyone globally took these steps, it would make a huge difference to our beautiful Earth and help to preserve it for future generations. I’d love to hear more about what you do to reduce plastic pollution and if any of you have any suggestions! Together we can protect our planet.
How to get the most out of your time, be your most productive self and live your life to the fullest.
Do you feel as though you constantly have no time, as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done? Alternatively, do you have plenty of spare time but feel demotivated and unproductive? In today’s society, we are all balancing a million things, from busy work schedules, countless messages, calls and emails to respond to, commitments with family, daily chores and errands- and that’s before you’ve even exercised, had a social life, watched that new show everyone is talking about and done whatever you need to do to be the best version of you.
This leads to us feeling stressed, anxious, demotivated, frustrated with ourselves and others, constantly falling behind at work, feeling disorganized and so much more. A lack of proper time management is the culprit of these issues and something many people all struggle with, yet it really is an easy fix. Once you get in to a rhythm of what works for you, you’ll be mastering the juggling act of life and thriving in every aspect too.
Here are 8 top tips for time management:
1) Be accountable for your time
People often say ‘there’s just not enough hours in the day’, but the truth is everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, and though people may have more help than others, we are the product of what we give our energy to. The first step in successfully managing our time is to be aware of what you are doing with your time. Screen Time on iPhone is an interesting way to see how much time we may be wasting on social media and certain applications, and it’s a good idea to put a limit on this as we could be using those 15 minutes we spend scrolling through Instagram for something much more productive. Apps like Toggl and RescueTime are also great for helping people be intentional about their productivity, and will even go as far as blocking websites that may be distracting for you.
2) Make lists and break each task down
We all know about the benefits of a list, but this really is an incredible way to gain clarity on everything we need to do. Plus, it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment when you tick something off a list, especially when you get to the end of the day knowing you achieved everything you set out to do. Break each task down into mini-tasks that feel attainable, which feels less overwhelming and you will gain a sense of progression as it all comes together. I love my Passion Planner, which breaks each week down into weekly personal and work to-do lists, a weekly focus and a daily focus to help you to be really specific while also focusing on the overall bigger picture of what you want to achieve. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
3) Set a time limit for each task, then focus and commit fully
Someone once told me to set a timer for each task I had to do, which is incredibly useful. When you feel as though you have a million things to do, give yourself a time limit to work with. I like to start my day by reviewing everything I want and need to do, then work backwards from the end of the day. The best way to get things done on time is to focus and commit fully to one thing at a time, free from distraction. This same mentality applies to good time-keeping and ensuring you arrive everywhere on time. I guarantee once you set limits on the time you give to each task and fully commit to it, you’ll see how much you can actually achieve. Plus, if you finish a task early, you can use the remaining time to take a little break, to stretch or read for a few moments.
4) Set a schedule, not a deadline
James Clear, author of ‘Atomic Habits’ advises that we should ‘set a schedule, not a deadline’, as the best way to ‘achieve your goals is to set a schedule to operate by rather than a deadline to perform by’. He says that ‘instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal by (and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it), you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently.’ I think this is really important as then we have daily tasks to work on that are all part of a bigger picture, allowing us to feel a constant sense of progression and achievement.
5) Plan ahead and be prepared
Preparation is key and helps things to keep moving smoothly. The worst thing we can do for productivity is not have a plan as this leads to procrastination and wasting time. If you have an early start, think about what you can do the night before to ensure your morning runs to time. Pack your bag, have your outfit planned and your breakfast prepared so you can grab and go. ‘Meal prep’ is also incredibly useful if you have a busy week ahead and help you to stay healthy and energized when you may not have a lot of time to cook. These things may sound small, but they make a big difference and really help to keep stress levels low, giving you have the mental clarity to focus on the important things!
An effective time-management tip is to start with the most important tasks as we have the most energy at the beginning of the day, plus that feeling of accomplishment will carry through the rest of the day. Mark Twain alluded to this when he said, ‘if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’ Be mindful of what you give you time to and make sure you are putting the important things first. Ask yourself what do you really need to do to feel accomplished today, then do that.
7) Have Keystone Habits
In the book ‘The Power of Habit’, Charles Duhigg discusses the power of having keystone habits, which are habits in your daily life that lead to the development of many other positive habits. An example of this for a lot of people is exercise. After exercise, they want to eat cleaner and healthier which makes them feel good, they notice they have more energy which leads to productivity, they feel happier which leads to a more positive outlook, which may lead to their relationships starting to thrive, and so on. Having a healthy nighttime routine is a good keystone habit as this leads to a good night’s sleep, which means you can wake up early feeling rested and clear-headed, ready to seize the day! Discover the keystone habits that you can implement on a daily basis to make a difference for you.
8) Take time for YOU and get inspired!
This seems to be something we all struggle with, and yet it may be the most important thing of all. Taking time for ourselves so we can recharge helps us to regain focus and inspiration, meaning we have a renewed sense of motivation when we return to our tasks. It’s okay to say no, to cancel or turn down plans in favor of allowing ourselves to recuperate or do something that feels good. Life is about having a balance and it is vital that we include ourselves in that mix by having all-important ‘you’ time. Remember the saying ‘you can’t drink from an empty cup’. Ask yourself what you need to do each week to keep you cup full! In life, there can be so much to do that it all feels overwhelming and often we don’t know where to start because we are giving so much of ourselves to other things. Make sure you incorporate something each day to give you your daily and weekly source of inspiration to reignite your fire. It can be something as small as listening to an podcast about something that fascinates you on your daily commute, or waking up 30 minutes before your family so you can meditate. Whatever it is, know that carving out quality time for you is crucial. Self-love isn’t selfish!
Apply these tips over the next month and see how it impacts your daily life. It takes 21 days to turn something into a habit, so set an intention to be your best, most productive self and take note of how your life expands exponentially. You can do it!
Hundreds of schools in the UK introduce mindfulness as a new subject.
370 schools in Great Britain will be teaching Mindfulness to their students, as a part of a study that aims to combat mental health issues among youth today. This study brings the UK on board one of the largest trials in the world that explores what works to improve mental health and well-being in our society.
The government issued a statement via their website gov.uk stating that ‘hundreds of children and young people will learn how to use a range of innovative techniques to promote good mental health through one of the largest studies in the world of its kind.’ The statement also mentions that ‘children will benefit from mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help them regulate their emotions, alongside pupil sessions with mental health experts. The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new, robust evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.’
Education Secretary, Damian Hinds said that ‘as a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children, while potentially making others worse.’ Mental health issues among children and young adults today are unfortunately on the rise, with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) claiming that 7.1% of children in the US aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety and 1.9 million children in the US have diagnosed depression.
Mindfulness is a brilliant tool for managing mental health issues by encouraging awareness of our emotions so that we are able to manage them in a more insightful, rational way, as well as encouraging us to return to the present moment which is often difficult to do when we are plagued with anxiety. Mindfulness has been proven to promote increased activity in the pre-frontal cortex (the area of the brain associated with positive emotion) and there is evidence showing that mindfulness reduces anxiety and depression as well as boosts overall wellbeing.
According to a 2015 article on The Huffington Post, mindfulness is revolutionizing mental health care and we are only just beginning to understand its benefits. It works on a neurological level by facilitating neuroplasticity – the creation of new connections and neural pathways in the brain, which has a long-term impact on our brains. This reaffirms the importance of teaching such an important subject to children and young adults in an attempt to implement the practice at a young age. The curriculum in schools has been long overdue an update and this seems like a wonderful step forwards. If you are a parent, I’d love to hear from you about whether you teach mindfulness to your children and if so, how do you go about it? Are you a teacher who teaches the technique in a school and if so, how do your students respond?
www.mindfulschools.org has some fascinating information and tips for introducing mindfulness within your school and also credits mindfulness with ‘the development of heartfulness’, which is ‘the intentional nurturing of positive mind states such as kindness and compassion’. I think this is something all the world could benefit from and it’s fantastic to instill this within the next generation during such formative years of their lives. I strongly believe that the world can only benefit from everyone having a mindfulness practice and I hope other countries follow suit!
Do you meditate? Do you want to but don’t know how or don’t have the time? Meditation is widely-regarded as being an essential daily practice for maintaining a state of presence, calming the mind, controlling anxiety and having awareness of what we are feeling and what is going on around us. Presence allows us to fully be in the moment and meditation is a great way to achieve presence and remain in that place throughout the day. Those who meditate on a regular basis cannot speak highly enough about the incredible benefits and notice a huge difference when they fall out of the practice. I have dipped in and out of meditation for years and although I don’t have a consistent practice, I always come back to it when I feel depression and anxiety arising, and it really does help.
According to meditation app Headspace, ‘meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.’
This practice is also known as ‘mindfulness’, which is essentially a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment. We can practice mindfulness at any moment in life by simply being aware of what is going on around us. This is something that is becoming increasingly harder to do these days, especially with the rising addiction we all have to our smartphones which provide endless entertainment and distraction, removing us from the present moment. Watch a small child or an animal and regard how hyper-present they are. They hear every sound, watch every thing and are curious about what is going around them. As a result, their senses are sharp and they are living fully in each moment. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? More than that, it is our birthright. However, daily stresses and worries can remove us from the present moment and mean that we aren’t fully experiencing life. How often are you fully present? Check in with yourself now by taking a moment to breathe. Feel your breath. Listen to the noises around you. What can you hear? What can you see? Taking a second to reconnect can be incredibly grounding.
So, how we can make mindfulness a practice?
It is fair to say that not all of us have time to sit and meditate each morning but remember that meditation can happen at any moment. All you need to do is put your attention on your breath and that will automatically return you to the present moment.
A great app for helping with this is the Breathe app which focuses on resonant breathing, something that ‘induces a state of restful alertness and mental clarity.’ You notice a benefit simply by inhaling as the ball on your screen goes from small to large, and exhaling as it does the reverse. Something so simple really does help. Headspace teaches you how to meditate and holds you accountable each day, while also gently reminding you that it’s okay for your mind to wander and to struggle at first. You can even start by simply doing one minute meditations and tailor the experience to you. The app can also send daily mindfulness reminders to your phone, one of which is to simply ‘remember that blue sky’. Calm is another popular app, which offers meditation for sleep and stress reduction. The benefits of meditation really are endless and there are so many ways to incorporate it into your daily routine.
To get started, here is a basic meditation from www.mindful.org
The first thing to clarify: what we’re doing here is aiming for mindfulness, not some process that magically wipes your mind clear of the countless and endless thoughts that erupt and ping constantly in our brains. We’re just practicing bringing our attention to our breath, and then back to the breath when we notice our attention has wandered.
- Get comfortable and prepare to sit still for a few minutes. After you stop reading this, you’re going to simply focus on your own natural inhaling and exhaling of breath.
- Focus on your breath. Where do you feel your breath most? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your attention on your inhale and exhale.
- Follow your breath for two minutes. You can imagine the breath ball—inhaling as the ball expands, exhaling when the ball contracts.
For more meditation tips, check out https://www.headspace.com/meditation/tips
If you are interested in learning more about a meditation practice, research meditation studios or classes that may be located near you as this is also a great way to incorporate meditation into your weekly routine and meet new people. Classes are a wonderful way to discover the type of meditation that works for you and they are lead by an instructor who will guide you through the session. I attend meditation classes in LA at The Den Meditation and Unplug Meditation as then I commit to meditating for the 45 minutes that I’m there, and I always leave having taken something positive from the experience. Alternatively, YouTube is a great resource and there are many online courses which are often free and provide you with a guided meditation. Deepak Chopra offers a 21-day meditation experience with Oprah, which is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in a meditation experience, hold yourself accountable and maintain a meditation practice.
Whatever your lifestyle, know that there is a way you can incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your daily life, as it really does only take a few seconds to feel your breath and reconnect to the present moment, yet the benefits are truly endless. I always remind myself that simply being aware of everything going on around me, having my senses engaged, breathing deeply and living fully in that moment is a form of mindfulness. It also helps us to feel more grounded and gain mental clarity, which is crucial for handling situations with rationality and being able to truly appreciate all of the little things around us. I am making a pledge to be more mindful in my every day life and I’d love you to join me!
Black actress Lashana Lynch is taking over the iconic role…
There’s a new spy in town! British actress Lashana Lynch has just been announced as the new 007 in the Bond franchise. Although Daniel Craig will still have the titular role of James Bond, the codename of 007 has been reassigned to a new character, played by Lynch. This new plotline comes as Bond leaves MI6 and is “called back to action to fight a new villain”, as quoted from an anonymous “movie insider” who also says that “there is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says “come in 007”, and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman.”
Daniel Craig with Naomie Harris, centre, and Lashana Lynch in Jamaica. Photograph: Gilbert Bellamy/Reuters
Originally from West London, Lynch made her film debut in 2011’s ‘Fast Girls’ though her breakthrough role came earlier this year in Captain Marvel as fighter pilot Maria Rambeau. Now, she will step into the role of Nomi, who is initially seduced by Bond but refuses his advances.
This isn’t the only display of girl power shaking up the 25th Bond movie. British writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge (‘Fleabag’, ‘Killing Eve’) came on board to polish up the existing script, making her the second female writer in the history of the franchise.
Waller-Bridge, who’s shows are known for digging deep into the female psyche, is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not Bond is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women. I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now. “[The franchise] has just got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to his character.”
Speaking to Deadline in May, she also mentioned how she was excited to make the female characters “feel like real people”, explaining that it “brings me much pleasure, knowing that I’m giving that to an actress.”
From hiring a female 007 to recruiting a female screenwriter, both of these moves have been widely praised as they steer the famed franchise into a new era, allowing it to remain current and become more inclusive.
Holland takes steps to preserve the planet and improve air quality by covering hundreds of bus stops with plants to attract bees!
Utrecht, a city in the Netherlands, has covered the roofs of 316 bus stops in sedum plants. Not only does this look beautiful, but it helps to support the city’s biodiversity by attracting honeybees and bumble bees. These plants also store rainwater and capture dust, which counts as one of many measures that Utrecht has put in place in a mission to improve air quality. This forward-thinking city plans to introduce 55 new electric buses by the end of this year and have “completely clean public transport” by 2028, a scheme that is already being implemented. Utrecht also runs a scheme which allows residents to apply for funding to transform their own roofs into green roofs.
This wonderful idea also helps to employ people, too! The roofs are cared for by workers who drive to and from each place in electric vehicles, and the bus stops have all been fitted with energy-efficient LED lights and bamboo benches to make the entire operation eco-friendly. To top all of that off, the electricity used to power the buses will be sourced from Dutch windmills.
This story reinforces how accessible an environmentally-friendly lifestyle can be for all and challenges us to find more ways that we can go green. People are now being encouraged to refuse plastic straws when they are not needed, as well as carry a reusable water bottle and coffee cup (like these from mybyta.com) to eliminate as many single-use plastics as possible.
Let’s face it- we could all benefit from counseling. Sure, there may be times when we feel as though we ‘need’ it more than others, but therapy is something that we have probably all thought of taking up at some point in our lives. Not only is it a wonderful, healthy way to process our experiences, but it helps us to heal and understand them too. Many people credit therapy as the very thing that gave them the confidence and clarity to make a huge life change, with countless people continuing counseling throughout their lives to maintain a healthy frame of mind. As many of you know, I have battled with depression throughout my life and I haven’t always sought help in those darker times, so we wanted to share this post for anyone who is struggling to remind you there are many options of help out there.
We all know the immense benefits of speaking to a professional on a regular basis, yet so many of those seeking or needing counseling never actually start for a variety of reasons. I am fascinated and in awe of the amount of great resources out there for people needing support, so I wanted to share some of those with you by looking at the reasons people often avoid counseling and what you can do to overcome those issues.
1. Financial Hardship
Counseling services are known to be costly- however, you can still receive wonderful care at a low price or often even for free. There are many donation-based counseling centers around the world who can calculate a low per-session fee based on your income and pair you with the therapist they feel will be the best fit for you. Many of these centers also offer weekly support groups and drop-in sessions, so research your local counseling center for more information. In America, you can also dial 211 from any phone for a full directory of your local mental health and counseling services, as well as giving Mental Health America a call at 1-800-273-TALK. There is also an incredible global platform called IAMAlive, which is an online crisis network where all of its volunteers are professionally supervised, trained to help you in almost any situation and can help you find additional in-person resources as well. Volunteers come from and operate around the globe, and their online chat is just one click away, and there whenever you need it.
Alternatively, if you have health insurance, give your provider a call to find out whether mental health treatment is covered within your plan. If you live in a country that offers free healthcare, speak to your doctor about the mental healthcare options which may be available to you.
There is a great online counseling platform called 7Cups, which provides affordable online therapy from $33 a week at www.7Cups.com.
2. Lack of time
If you struggle to make it to a weekly or even monthly session, there are amazing online counseling services where you can speak to a trained therapist at your convenience, whenever and wherever suits you, simply by calling on your phone or from your laptop.
Some great websites are:
Better Help’s mission is to make counseling more affordable and accessible by providing licensed, trained and experienced therapists on the world’s largest e-counseling platform.
Blah Therapy gives you the option to chat to people all around the world who may be going through something similar. Think of it as an anonymous, global support group at your fingertips.
Talkspace matches you with a therapist who you can speak to anytime, anywhere using their Smartphone app or from your web browser.
Regain is an online relationship counseling platform which provides convenient, discreet and affordable access to a licensed therapist.
3. Shame or fear
Although counseling is now much more common within our society, so many people often feel a sense of shame or embarrassment around the subject. If you can relate to this, know that all sessions are completely confidential unless the therapist feels you are in danger of hurting yourself or others. Counseling is a safe space for you and therefore only you need to know that you’re going. However, remind yourself that it is a courageous thing to start and you should feel a sense of pride for being brave enough to do it. You WILL reap the benefits.
If you need the reminder that it’s okay to get help, ReachOut (www.reachout.life) is a free social network that you can access on your smartphone, which provides a support network full of people who are struggling with similar issues. ReachOut offers communal options to talk to others about your problems or thoughts, as well as more urgent options to talk to someone. This is a great way to heal through community and realize you are not alone.
You may not find the right therapist right away, but definitely stick with it and know it’s okay to find someone else. I don’t have therapy all the time but I know that when I feel depression coming on, I ensure I get the help I need. If you or a loved one needs immediate professional help, there are countless helplines where you can speak to a professional at any time. This is a link to a great article with information on helplines you can call wherever you are in the world, so please know that support is always available and you are absolutely not alone.
Here are the numbers for some helplines in the US:
Text CONNECT to 741741
Social Media: TrevorSpace
You are not alone. You are loved. There is help and support out there for you when you need it.