My Top Five – June

1) Green juices   I’ve started getting into green juices this month. Not everyday – sometimes I forget, and let’s face it, at 7am on a cold winter’s morning, a hot cup of tea is far more appealing. But they taste great, act as an instant nutritional boost and help to alkalise the body. My favourite combo is spinach, cucumber, celery and apple. Definitely keen to try out some smoothie recipes soon – maybe next month?

2) Black quinoa   I’ve been on the quinoa bandwagon for ages, but I’ve only ever eaten white quinoa. That was until my boyfriend brought home a bag of black quinoa from the Middle Eastern bakery down the road. It was a revelation – a little crunchy, with a wonderfully earthy flavour. It’s been on high rotation for lunch and dinner. And it looks pretty too.

3) Handmade skin care products  I’ll do a proper blog on this soon, but suffice to say that creating your very own products, whith complete knowledge and control of what goes into them is suprememly satisfying. Kind of like a quiet “up yours” to all those companies who insist on serving up cheap, toxic and downright nasty chemical cocktails disguised as moisturisers and soaps. And with ingredients like almond meal, poppy seeds and cocoa butter, they’re almost good enough to eat!

4) Workhealth Check    Because no matter how young you are or how well you think you’re doing healthwise, it’s always good to just get a little snapshot of what’s really going on. I was especially interested to see my results after increasing my fat intake – and turns out my cholesterol levels are excellent, blood glucose perfectly fine, blood pressure normal, waist measurement well below the recommended limit. Fat is not the enemy!

5) Rosehip oil   I recently switched to Trilogy skincare products, which use rosehip oil as their signature ingredient. This month, I started using their rosehip oil (with added antioxidants!). Rosehip oil has been shown to reduce wrinkles, scarring and stretch marks, and to improve the overall appearance of skin. My skin has never felt so soft! So nourished and healthy. Any pimples clear up quickly, my skin tone has improved (no more blotchy cheeks!) and I’m looking forward to seeing my acne scars fade.

On gratitude and abundance

I always used to think that gratitude journals were a bit of a wank. What was the point, I wondered? It’s just a bit of self-indulgent nonsense that helps fill in the time.

But more recently, I’ve changed my tune. I’m not quite sure why my stance has shifted. I can only assume I’m being carried along by all of the other positive changes occurring in my life. Maybe it’s this blog, and through documenting things I’m able to realise how important they are, even if they seem insignificant.

Whatever it is, I’m starting to recognise the beauty and wonder of expressing gratitude. And the magic! That whole “like attracts like” – the more you begin to express gratitude, the more the Universe provides us with things to be grateful for. Or perhaps it’s just that we’re more able to realise and be thankful for what we do have, rather than what we believe we lack.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to awareness, and questioning the messages that are constantly thrown at us. We in the West, particularly, are caught in an endless cycle of consumerism, of “when I have X, I will be able to do or feel Y”. Having things will make us happy, or so advertisers would like us to believe. But how many of us have bought that bag/pair of shoes/plasma TV/car, believing that once we had them in our hot little hands, we would be happy? Life, sorted. Until the next model – bigger and better – comes out. Until we’re told that our new iPad is already out of date, and we need to upgrade, or else be left behind. To quote (albeit out of context) Kurt Vonnegut, author of the brilliant Slaughterhouse-Five, amongst others: “And so on, and so it goes…”

True abundance doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with physical possessions or our financial situation. In fact, I would argue that, for the most part, they are mutually exclusive. And just to pre-empt any criticisms – yes, I completely acknowledge that I am writing from the perspective of a Gen Y, white, middle-class Western woman. I understand that the concept of abundance is subjective, and that for many people, there is less choice or access to much of what we take for granted. But when you consider how much we seemingly have, and yet appear to be increasingly miserable, it’s obvious that something’s not right with the equation. That maybe having “stuff” isn’t the key to happiness after all.

The Yoga Sutras introduce us to such concepts as Aparigraha (non-grasping) and Santosha (contentment). We already have everything we need. The Universe makes sure of that. It’s got your back (even when it doesn’t feel like it!). So let’s just enjoy, – nay, be grateful for – each moment, just as it is, no need for wanting or craving for more.

I still don’t keep a gratitude journal. I just don’t feel, personally, that it needs to be recorded. But I do like to end each day, just before I go to sleep, by listing five things that I’m grateful for – access to fresh, healthy foods, or quality time with my boyfriend and family, or that I even have a bed to sleep in. If nothing else, it puts things in perspective.

 And how about you? What are the things that you are grateful for?