Switching Off…

switch off one

 

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with their smartphone??  I love that I can be contacted in an emergency regarding my kids; love the fact I can fill boring waiting times by checking emails; love capturing magical spontaneous moments with my babies; they are brilliant networking tools; and it’s amazing that you can now be connected with friends and family far and wide.  Plus, I love a good Insta selfie.  However.  I also hate the control these little screens have over our lives and the message we are sending our kids; really hate it!  But probably not as much as I hate computer consoles, but that’s a whole different blog!

When I was growing up, if the house phone rang and we were busy or eating we just ignored it.  We didn’t rush up to see who it was, we didn’t have an answering machine or caller ID; and we didn’t have ‘1471’ in the early days (shit I feel old!).  So if you missed a call, tough titties & nobody really cared.  The phone was also wired to the wall and located in the busy kitchen so there was no privacy as such.  So phone calls were to the point and purposeful.   We hated being on the phone; we had shit to do and people to see – you know, in actual person!

screen_addicted_parents_ignoring_child_v_dunckley_md

As a parent, especially a single one I think it’s really important to spend real quality time with my babies, and actually be ‘present’ rather than distracted by my smartphone.  They are growing up in a fast-paced technological world (which is great!) BUT there is simply never ever any substitute for being present and giving your time and attention to both your loved ones and people in general for that matter.   Since Cancer, my time with my babies is even more valuable and precious than ever and I began to distance myself from technology as a direct result a few years ago.

For example, I deactivate my personal Facebook account a few times a year to take a break; there are certain apps that I turn the notifications off for; all group message conversations are permanently muted; certain emails are filtered straight into specific folders so I only notice they are there by physically checking occasionally; no phones allowed at the table; I rarely scroll through the Facebook newsfeed and I’m not one to ‘overshare’ my shit on there either (show some damn dignity people).  I am a HUGE fan of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function and use it a LOT!  I’ve also always turned off all notification and phone calls from about 8pm at night (unless I am out and need to check in about my babies).   And when camping with my babies I have always turned my phone off to enjoy the peace and experience fully.  I always thought that this was enough.  It wasn’t. 

A few days ago I was trying to reply to a really important email; the kids nagging me for yet another snack; the youngest getting angry; I couldn’t concentrate on the email; it was turning into bloody chaos.  In that moment I had forgotten my priorties.  The email actually wasn’t that fucking urgent, yet my kids craving my presence was.  So the phone got ditched and I gave the kids their 10th billion snack of the day as we all sat and chatted about travels and holidays we were planning for next year.  How it should be. 

That evening I decided to stop ALL notifications on my smartphone and placed contact restrictions on many people in my caller list who are known to drain both my time and energy needlessly.  And it’s been liberating.   I only know if I have an email or message if I make an effort to physically check, and no more of those annoying Facebook notifications for everything single little bloody thing!

Now, we aren’t all Topsy and Tim (God those obnoxious little brats irritate the hell out of me and well that mother is clearly using something to get her through the day!).  But I do feel it’s important to set a good example as kids mimic behaviours they see.  I want my kids to gain confidence with the outside world and real bloody people – not waste their life away watching YouTube videos of some anti-social gamer playing a video game and commentating as they go (what the actual F is all that about?!?!)

So, if you don’t get an immediate response from me (or no response at all)…..it’s either because I have my priorities set differently to you; or I’m busy doing the other zillion things single parents have to do!  I’d definitely suggest giving it a go – you would be surprised at how addicted you actually are to those pesky little screens!

switch off 2

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

The No-Crap VEGAN Chocolate Banana Loaf!

no-crap

 

AFTER POPULAR DEMAND TO VEGANISE MY LAST RECIPE…..So, bye bye eggs!

 

So I posted some pics on Instagram last week of a new protein, low sugar, gluten free/dairy free/soya free chocolate banana loaf recipe that I had been working on, and promised the type up my scribbled notes into a legible format for you all.

We aren’t really cake eaters in this house, and avoid as much processed junk as possible but sometimes you just need something dense and chocolatey that won’t spike your insulin levels leaving you crashing in energy and piling on the pounds!

By removing traditional flour from recipes and substituting with oats and almonds, you cut the carbohydrates right down (and everyone knows thats carbs turn to sugar in the body, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes if consumed in excess and not burnt off!).  Using oats and almonds also make sure we are getting a good whack of protein which aids muscle growth and repair, along with helping us to stay feeling fuller for longer.  And finally, they also help to slow down the effects of the natural sugars in the recipe by binding with them, giving a constant and slow source of energy without the spikes and crashes!

We never use sugar in the traditional sense in this house either; always preferring to use naturally occurring and unrefined alternatives such as fruit, or either brown rice or maple syrup.  We also use these natural sugars in a FAR less quantity than you would use traditional sugars in a recipe and we NEVER use any nasty artificial sweeteners as replacements (you know they were invented as a pesticide right??  And cause a whole load of health issues, especially with the joints and muscles!  Plus can cause obesity by both tricking the brain and encouraging over-eating!).  

But we aren’t boring and restricted….Mummy likes a good Gin on a night out and the babies enjoy chips and a slush puppy at the beach!   We live our life by a 80/20 rule – 80% a wholesome, natural, colourful, varied, and purposeful diet mixed with about 20% crap for fun 😉

Anyway……..

Back to the recipe rather than the science behind the ingredients I chose!  As the cake loaf is so naturally dense, you really only need two small slices to curb a sweet craving and leaving you feeling satisfied…..ENJOY!

Ingredients:

75g oats (certified gluten-free)
75g ground almonds
10g cacao powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 medium ripe bananas*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (MUST be organic to avoid arsenic!)
50g chopped dates
4 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil (plus a little to grease the loaf tin)
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (depending on preference)

*Not a fan of bananas??  Then use 360g of unsweetened cooled stewed apple, seasoned with nutmeg & cinnamon to taste.

Method:

  1. Grease a small silicone loaf tin & preheat a fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 3 (adjust accordingly for a non-fan assisted oven!).
  2. Put the oats, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, and cacao into a food processor and blitz with the bladed attachment until they form more of a chunky flour consistency (you may need to alternate between a pulse and a blitz depending on how powerful your machine is!).
  3. Add in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT from the dark chocolate drops, and blitz/pulse until a thick cake mixture is formed.
  4. Remove blade from the food processor bowl and stir in the dark chocolate drops.
  5. Tip the mixture into the greased silicone loaf tray and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through (you may want to check the loaf in the middle with a skewer after 15 minutes).
  6. Remember this recipe makes a dense loaf-style cake, not a sponge so it won’t really rise but will be very moist and substantial! 
  7. Once cooked, remove the silicone loaf tin from the oven and place on a raised cooling rack for around 10 minutes.
  8. Gently tip the loaf out of the silicone tin and onto the cooling rack for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve either hot or cold – we loved our warm with a little drizzle of oat cream over the top…..PERFECT! 

 

cake-big-bowl.jpg

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

The No-Crap Chocolate Banana Loaf!

no-crap

 

So I posted some pics on Instagram last week of a new protein, low sugar, gluten free/dairy free/soya free chocolate banana loaf recipe that I had been working on, and promised the type up my scribbled notes into a legible format for you all.

We aren’t really cake eaters in this house, and avoid as much processed junk as possible but sometimes you just need something dense and chocolatey that won’t spike your insulin levels leaving you crashing in energy and piling on the pounds!

By removing traditional flour from recipes and substituting with oats and almonds, you cut the carbohydrates right down (and everyone knows thats carbs turn to sugar in the body, which in turn can cause obesity and diabetes if consumed in excess and not burnt off!).  Using oats and almonds also make sure we are getting a good whack of protein which aids muscle growth and repair, along with helping us to stay feeling fuller for longer.  And finally, they also help to slow down the effects of the natural sugars in the recipe by binding with them, giving a constant and slow source of energy without the spikes and crashes!

We never use sugar in the traditional sense in this house either; always preferring to use naturally occurring and unrefined alternatives such as fruit, or either brown rice or maple syrup.  We also use these natural sugars in a FAR less quantity than you would use traditional sugars in a recipe and we NEVER use any nasty artificial sweeteners as replacements (you know they were invented as a pesticide right??  And cause a whole load of health issues, especially with the joints and muscles!  Plus can cause obesity by both tricking the brain and encouraging over-eating!).  

But we aren’t boring and restricted….Mummy likes a good Gin on a night out and the babies enjoy chips and a slush puppy at the beach!   We live our life by a 80/20 rule – 80% a wholesome, natural, colourful, varied, and purposeful diet mixed with about 20% crap for fun 😉

Anyway……..

Back to the recipe rather than the science behind the ingredients I chose!  As the cake loaf is so naturally dense, you really only need two small slices to curb a sweet craving and leaving you feeling satisfied…..ENJOY!

Ingredients:

75g oats (certified gluten-free)
75g ground almonds
10g cacao powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs
2 medium ripe bananas*
4 tablespoons organic brown rice syrup (MUST be organic to avoid arsenic!)
50g chopped dates
4 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil (plus a little to grease the loaf tin)
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (depending on preference)

*Not a fan of bananas??  Then use 230g of unsweetened cooled stewed apple, seasoned with nutmeg & cinnamon to taste.

Method:

  1. Grease a small silicone loaf tin & preheat a fan assisted oven to 160°C/320°F or gas mark 3 (adjust accordingly for a non-fan assisted oven!).
  2. Put the oats, almonds, bicarbonate of soda, and cacao into a food processor and blitz with the bladed attachment until they form more of a chunky flour consistency (you may need to alternate between a pulse and a blitz depending on how powerful your machine is!).
  3. Add in all the remaining ingredients EXCEPT from the dark chocolate drops, and blitz/pulse until a thick cake mixture is formed.
  4. Remove blade from the food processor bowl and stir in the dark chocolate drops.
  5. Tip the mixture into the greased silicone loaf tray and bake on the middle shelf in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until cooked through (you may want to check the loaf in the middle with a skewer after 15 minutes).
  6. Remember this recipe makes a dense loaf-style cake, not a sponge so it won’t really rise but will be very moist and substantial! 
  7. Once cooked, remove the silicone loaf tin from the oven and place on a raised cooling rack for around 10 minutes.
  8. Gently tip the loaf out of the silicone tin and onto the cooling rack for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve either hot or cold – we loved our warm with a little drizzle of oat cream over the top…..PERFECT! 

 

cake-big-bowl.jpg

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Happy 7th Anniversary!

7th anniversary

So, no, this isn’t my wedding anniversary (ha!).  No.  This Summer I am celebrating 7 glorious years of single-parenthood 😀  I know, I can’t quite believe my babies are growing up so quickly!  Seems like only yesterday I was patting my growing tummy and suffering from horrific sickness ha!   My babies make me incredibly proud, even with the meltdowns and pre-teen eye-rolling!

Being a single parent has certainly changed over the years.  I remember choosing to do it alone the first time around 11 years ago; I was in my early 20’s, career-driven and after struggling with fertility issues never in my wildest dreams thought it would be possible to ever carry a child of my own.  I look back now and realise how people generally pitied me for being a lone parent, like I somehow was suddenly in a sub-standard class, struggling and unwanted.

unplanned.jpg

Second time around three years later things were slightly better, although perhaps I had toughened up and learnt to take less shit 😉  These days however, times have changed dramatically.

Single mothers are no longer pitied.  We are feared, and so we should be!  We deal with more before 6am than you will ever know.  We fight battle after battle for our babies, and we do it with absolute grace.  We take no shit, and walk away from drama queens (you know who you are).  No longer does society view us as weak beings, struggling to cope.  But now rather as strong, powerful females who to do it all (and more!)  

I’m not going to lie and say it’s always easy.  It’s not.  Especially with my own health issues and raising two wonderfully quirky babies both with varying additional needs.  But I can tell you this……..choosing to raise my babies full time single-handedly will win each and every time, hands down 😉

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Haha Cancer, Do One!

So after a bloody agonising few weeks wait, I’ve FINALLY being given the all-clear after another sodding cancer scare!!! That’s TWO scares within 7 months; two lots of surgery; two lots of biopsies. I’ve beaten you once cancer, and there is no way you’re EVER going to beat me

💪

So cancer has taught me some valuable lessons………

  1. Live with passion.
  2. Push yourself further than you ever felt possible.
  3. Take chances. Life’s too short.
  4. Make memories. Not mistakes.
  5. Spend as much time at the beach as possible.
  6. Let music heal you.
  7. Never accept mediocre.
  8. Talk openly and honestly.
  9. Love hard and with sincerity. Always.
  10. Take no shit 😉
So with that in mind I have been busy re-writing my bucket list. My medical team are going to love me…….NOT ha!! But you only live once. Well, unless you are me. I appear to be a cat. And a fucking awesome one at that

😜

Now for the soppy bit….
Thank you to the Cocky Glaswegian for always being there for me (even when he’s not!) And my drinking partner in crime who keeps me amused falling asleep on my toilet lol! All my wonderful friends who have rallied around. The stranger at the swimming pool for a much needed hug. The stranger on the top of the mountain for his wise words of wisdom……And my beautiful babies who have shown unbelievable resilience over the years and make me incredibly proud each and every single day xxxxx

BOOM

One Down….

keep-calm-one-down-many-more-to-go-1

Well, that’s the first official day of the Summer holidays over!  How did you do mums??  Did your day resemble this below by any chance?!?!?

tired-mom2

Or was it more like this…….

funny-parenting-meme-04

For us our day went a little like this:

6:17am: Wake up
Tantrums.
Babies bickering.
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Breakfast.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Get us all dressed.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Watched a film at the cinema which was actually quite good (forgot the 3D glasses so now have an extra 3 pairs to add to the billion others in the drawer of crap!)
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Endured a grumpy person.
Babies collected for a few hours (yes, this is the FIRST time in TWO years that I have arranged having small breaks during the Summer holidays!)
Quick lunch & work emails.
Childfree trip to B&Q for screws.
Childfree trip to the gym where I snorted out a massive laugh watching this video whilst on the treadmill (WARNING, not for the easily offended ha!)
Childfree swim.  Bliss.
Had an allergic reaction to something.
Collected some parcels (new camping equipment, yay!)
Got harassed on Gumtree messages by somebody called ‘Jade.’
Home for DIY.  Realised I got wrong screws.  Bugger.
Childfree trip to B&Q for screws.
Collected babies; one happy; one sad. *sigh*
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Medical appointment for one of the said babies.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Back home for tea.
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Tantrums.
“Mummy I want a snack.”
Babies up to bed.
Told how much they love me and missed me today. *awwww* 
Lovely cuddles and kisses with my babies.
Housework.
“Mummy I want a poo poo.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
Housework.
“Mummy I want a drink.”
8:23pm: I start work for the evening when I should actually be preparing for a hospital trip to London in the morning. Bugger.

Sound familiar ladies???

One day down.  43 to go!

cheers

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

I Hate This Place…..

hate-dictionary

 

It’s been a while since I blogged ‘on location’.  Today my ‘office’ is the cramped, depressing Oncology waiting room.  I hate this place.  Not the wonderful staff; but how this awful clinic fills me with dread on each occasion, which gradually builds up for a few weeks before each check up.  I think most people who have fought cancer feel like they are a ticking time bomb, I know certainly that’s how a lot of my brave cervical cancer warrior friends feel.  I however, try to see it as living more for the moment, never committing to anything too far in the future. And that’s not me accepting some awful impending fate; it’s me learning to be more spontaneous and fulfilled in the moment instead (well as much as you can do as a single parent to two quirky babies!).

Looking around this airless room, it’s full of every aged and type of woman you can think of; cancer does not discriminate.  You can also tell which ladies are here for their check ups, and who are awaiting initial results….God I remember that day so vividly.  The day my world changed forever.  In lots of ways for the worse.  In other ways for the better.  I have a love hate relationship with my cancer journey – I wrote a very personal account on why this time last year which I would encourage you to read HERE.

Anyway, back to the stuffy waiting room…..I’m being subjected to an episode of Jeremy Kyle on the tele; “Did my fiancée have sex with another man on the bathroom floor?” Well according to the lie detector yes she did…..but of course she protests her innocent.  God, I’m bored and feel sick waiting here.  Whoever designed this place needs a hard slap. Sticking cancer females who are now largely infertile due to no real choice of their own, right within a maternity unit.  Yep, you read right.  Talk about adding insult to injury each and every time you come for a check up.  Clearly emotional well being still means very little to some hospitals; no matter how caring and wonderful your treating team are (and mine are amazing!).

So I’m home now, after over an hour’s wait, contemplating in that horrid room waiting to see my Oncologist.  Upshot is, I’ve made a fully informed decision to decline a drug and major surgery which was hoped would help ease some of my ongoing pain that was caused by my cancer treatment 3.5 years ago.  Even my Oncologist sighed a breath of relief that I had made such an empowering decision based upon weighing up the pros and cons of such a risky and big operation (even more so than my initial cancer surgery!), especially given my status as the sole-carer to my quirky babies.  I actually feel a calmness about ‘just’ living a life of a pain instead of having the treatment.

In other areas, I’m back in two months time to check on something new that has developed (FFS), another MRI, another referral to a different specialist.  This all comes at the exact same time as having heart scans, colonoscopies, and a different surgery next week.  But for now at least I can tick Oncology off for a few months before the panic sets in again…..

Is it gin time yet??? 

gin

 

 

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

When the music just isn’t doing it….

busy-brain

Does your brain ever feel so busy that you are sure it’s about to explode?  Usually a good dance to loud music or exercise (on my good health days) really helps to clear the noise and get clarity on my thoughts.  Music is a wonderful tool for the brain, I live for music!  I wrote a previous blog about it’s therapeutic qualities which you can read here.  But lately neither exercise or music have worked.

It’s been a very difficult few months; health flare ups, massive issues with my youngest baby’s education (or lack of, but that’s whole other rant!); studying; exams; life.  I’ve been running on an empty-autopilot state for the past few months, under huge demands, not really processing much, just fire-fighting situations and trying to get through my exams.

If you follow me on social media, then you will know that despite everything going on (and being a single mummy to two wonderful quirky kids!) that my hard work paid off – I am now a fully qualified Fitness Instructor, YAY!  This means I can better meet the needs of my clients, rather than simply focussing on good nutrition.  But I will write more about that another time, sooooo exciting!

Anyway, back to my busy brain……side tracked again!  So when music and exercise fail to clear my mind sufficiently, I jump in the car and head to one of my special places to reflect and sort the crap.  I have four main special places which help me to reflect:

  1. Cardiff Bay – this is not so much the ‘place’ but who I feel close to when I am there; miss you always xxx.
  2. Caerphilly Mountain – this is a few minutes from where I live so I head there quite often if I need a quick ‘fix’ and can’t get to Cardiff Bay.
  3. My Aunty’s grave in Gloucestershire – although since moving away I haven’t had much opportunity to visit.  I need to make more time, I’m sorry.
  4. Torquay – before the babies came along, any sign of trouble or overwhelm and I was straight in that car!  Sometimes I didn’t even pre-book accomodation, just knocked on hotel doors until I found space.  These days I have to be less spontaneous due to said babies.  But we still enjoy heading to the ‘English Riviera’ once a year, although not much peace these days to reflect!

So, today I was meant to be going for a swim during my two hours of childfree time as it helps my Lymphoedema and EDS.  But instead I got the pull to grab the dog (we are looking after the most gorgeous doggie this week for a friend!) and head to Cardiff Bay.  I’ve hardly slept in weeks, so this busy head needed to empty!

It may sound odd, but when I reflect I am able to visualise a spreadsheet where I can sort all my tasks, thoughts, feelings etc into tables and columns to give me more clarity on situations.  It doesn’t necessarily always stop my brain being as busy, but stops a lot of the rushing around and muddling that can happen when i’ve been running on autopilot too long.

I envy those who successfully manage to meditate each day.  I just don’t have the alone time or patience for it, so for me I have to ‘reflect’ on the go which probably isn’t the most productive way to sort a busy brain, but hey life and shit happens.  So a calming walk around the Bay was the ‘meditation’ I really needed – I won’t dwell on the part where I had to pick up the biggest dog shit from right outside Starbucks – thanks Douglas for your audience witnessed crap! 

Welcome to my random life 😉

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

International Women’s Day…Don’t insult us…

IWD

 

Now, I’m not against celebrating women, our struggles, successes and how far we have come (and still have to go); but I do take issue with this bizarre need to have one single day a year to acknowledge us.  I actually find it quite insulting on so many levels, rather than celebratory.  And don’t get me started on Mother’s Day either…that’s equally as insulting.

I don’t need a single day a year to recognise the women around me who inspire me each and every single day.

There’s the incredibly brave and young fellow cervical cancer survivor who will never be able to carry her own child, and yet still keeps going.

The enormously strong mother who continues to fundraise for sick kids and work on a busy maternity unit despite her own miracle baby sadly growing his wings at just 8 months old.

The determined single woman fighting tirelessly to get the law changed so that her and other single women can legally become parents using their own eggs via a surrogate and a sperm donor (I can’t even believe that this is even an issue in this day and age!)  She also happens to be a fellow cervical cancer survivor.

The courageous mother who grabbed her kids and fled her abusive ex partner, risking her own life.

And finally the resilient fellow warrior who takes a daily kicking from their own special needs child, and yet gets back up each and every time despite their own chronic health issues.

These are the true women who need celebrating and I feel truly honoured to have them in my life, each and every day.  Not once a year.

 

Inspire

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

To Love the NHS…???

decisions

 

So last week in South Wales, we saw the worst snowfall in a very long time, with a RED warning issued from the Met Office. This meant that schools, council offices, shops and businesses completely shut down & we were advised not to drive.

BUT hospitals didn’t have the luxury of being able to close their doors.  Patients still needed to be treated and fed, buildings still needed to be cleaned.  Patients out in the community still needed to be visited, and GP surgeries open regardless.

Now, I think it is fair to say that I haven’t had the perfect love affair with the NHS!  I’ve worked for the NHS; seen the best and very worst.   As a relative I’ve seen loved ones both saved and neglected.  As a patient I’ve had some of the most amazing care you could ever wish for.  I’ve also been mis-diagnosed and neglected, causing life changing and permanently damaging effects.

HOWEVER, over the past week I’ve been grateful to see the passion and dedication of many good NHS workers first hand. 

Family members and close friends are nurses & have put their patients above their own safety & family by travelling into work at all costs.

I’ve see my partner working long hours & giving up his own weekend to drive NHS staff to hospitals and around the community in a 4×4.  And then he has worked crazy 18 hour shifts to help manage the crisis that hit the area immediately after the snow began to descend.  From a selfish point of view I hated his ‘job’ during this time as it meant he wasn’t around to support with something quite significant at home.  But on the flip side seeing his passion for the cause made me love him even more.  The NHS need more people like him.

So whilst Facebook was full of selfish moans of shops being closed or running out of food, just spare a thought for all the dedicated NHS workers (domestics, caterers, porters, nurses, doctors, paramedics, managers to name just a few!) that put their own lives at risk travelling through awful conditions to ensure patients didn’t suffer!

Thank you

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©