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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Friday, 12 February 2016

Embracing Change


‘The only thing we can rely on in life is change.’

I like to think I’m spontaneous, open to new experiences, adventures, but at the same time, I like my routine. Structure. My little bit of normality.

My life has altered enormously over the past few years and more change is steamrollering towards me. My best friend is moving to Wales on Monday, my son leaving home, exciting things happening career wise. A real mixed bag.  Emotions are heightened. There’s a sense of waiting. Waiting until things settle. Longing for the stillness. The quietness that comes when you know where you are; feet planted on the floor. But that quietness only comes through acceptance of present circumstances. Things are what they are, not necessarily what we want them to be; and that’s not always a bad thing. How often has something happened and we’ve thought it the end of the world at the time, only to feel relief later as we look back?

I often tell the story of the Farmer and the Horse in my Mindfulness classes. A little reminder to hang-fire with judgements. Things aren’t always what they seem.

And so I wait. 

And I choose to believe the fluttering I feel in my stomach is excitement, not anxiety. That my future will be bright, because ultimately we get to choose how we feel and today, I choose to be happy. How about you?

The Farmer and the Horse (origin unknown)

 A farmer had one old horse that he used for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer’s neighbours heard about it, they sympathised with the old man over his bad luck. “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.
 A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone agreed that this was very bad luck. Not the farmer, who replied, “Bad Luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

 Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and forced every able-bodied young man to go fight in a bloody war. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they let him stay. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 And on it goes….

Monday, 19 October 2015

Mindfulness - Responding not Reacting


It’s been a strange few weeks for me. I’ve been betrayed by someone I once considered a friend which has cost me both financially and personally. I’ve been left feeling hurt and bewildered, unable to quite understand what has happened or why.
Pre-Mindfulness I would have reacted to this situation instantaneously, from the heart, without taking time or space to consider my options. As it is, I have been able to wait, think things through rationally and calmly. Reacting automatically is an understandable human response but it can make situations worse. I’m sure everyone has responded, from a place of heightened emotion, to an email, text, or comment and then had that stomach churning ‘why did I do that?’ feeling later on.
In today’s instant world it’s so easy, with 24/7 access to text, social networking and email, to mindlessly fire off a message within seconds and then wish there was a retract button.
Being kind is a choice. 
Mindfulness has taught me patience, compassion and self-respect.  It’s been an invaluable tool. I don’t know where I’d be without it.
Find out more about Mindfulness, here.

Zen tale - The Scorpion

The Scorpion (author unknown)
A zen master was bathing in the river when he noticed a scorpion almost drowning.
He lifted out the scorpion and placed it on a nearby rock to dry. Just was he was withdrawing his hand the scorpion bit him.
The people sitting by the river observed this and they said to him ‘What have you achieved? You have saved him, only to get yourself bitten.’
The zen master replied ‘I did what I had to do according to my nature. The scorpion did what he had to do according to his. I can not change him just as he cannot change me.’

Morris the Mindful Monkey

Mindfulness is more than sitting in formal meditation, it’s being fully absorbed in the task in hand, not engaging with distracting thoughts. Yesterday I didn’t want to do a long meditation, I wanted to spend some quality time with my son so I got my creative on and we transformed a pair of his socks into Morris the Mindful Monkey. It’s hard not to be present when doing something expressive.
In today’s super-busy society hobbies can fall by the wayside, but hobbies are often where our minds quieten and our feelings of stress can dissipate. Finding the time to factor something you love into your day is not always easy. It can feel self-indulgent and encourage feelings of guilt, but by looking after our own emotional needs we are then better placed to help take care of family and friends.
When was the last time you did something just for fun?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Vegan Pasta Sauce

I made this for dinner last night and it was so yummy I had to share.
I cubed half a butternut squash and two sweet potatoes. Drizzled with oil, sprinkled with herbs and roast in the oven for twenty minutes until they were soft. I then blitzed them in a food processor with a can of coconut milk and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. I heated the sauce, adding vegetable stock until it reached the consistency I wanted (I used about 1/3 pint) and seasoned.
In a separate pan I melted some coconut oil and tossed in chilli flakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and toasted over a low heat.
I served the sauce over pasta with a sprinkling of crunchy seeds. Delicious.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Mental Health Awareness Week

Count your blessings
Count? My mind is hazy. I cannot concentrate on the simplest of tasks.

Snap out of it
Snap? I have slept for twelve hours but still don’t have the energy to move.

A good meal will cheer you up
I told you I cannot eat. My throat is constricted, my stomach a mass of swirling emotions.

Turn that frown upside down 
I try. I really do, but my face feels like a grotesque mask.

If you can’t be bothered to help yourself
I am screaming for help, can’t you hear me? But the room is silent and you turn away.
It is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Depression is not something you choose.
We have experience in teaching Mindfulness within the Mental Health field to sufferers and carers. 
Please contact us for more information.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The simple life


The simple life is the best. To live an uncomplicated, stress free life is something people often talk about, but if the simple life really is the best why aren’t we living it?

Realistically, there are not many of us who could go and live up a mountain, or deep within nature. We have friends, family, people we care about. We have careers that are necessary to pay for the homes we live in. We work hard, we want nice things, holidays, evenings out.

We get tired. We want entertaining. The days of standing around the piano singing are long gone, we stream movies, shop online, check social networking sites an inordinate amount of time.

We often eat in front of the tv, plates balanced on our laps, smartphone in hand, the tv on in the background.

The harder we work, the more we want to rewards ourselves with material possessions and holidays. The pleasure holidays and new purchases give us is often fleeting, leaving us dissatisfied, wanting more, so we work harder. We worry more. We overthink. We miss the present moment.

We put huge amounts of pressure on ourselves to have the ‘perfect life.’

Mindfulness enabled me to strip back my life, to step away from the drama, to break the endless loop of unhelpful thinking, to get back to basics and really appreciate what I have, right here, right now.

‘Life is simple but we insist on making it complicated.’

I don’t entirely agree with this quote. Life isn’t always, can’t by its very nature always simple, it can be wild, unpredictable and challenging, but the more fully present we are, the simpler life feels and the more contentment we have.

How complicated is your life?