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!

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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

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 ©

 

A Busy Mum’s Summer in Pictures

So, the Summer holidays can sometimes fill a busy mum with dread BUT in reality between all the sibling squabbles and billion demands for a snack, perfect memories are made!  You can read my rather humorous recap of ‘Day One’ of the holidays HERE!

This year we had one of our BEST summers ever thanks to my clever planning ahead!  Our weeks were filled with laughter, holidays, daytrips, friends, family, good food, smiling monkeys, saucy tortoises, detoxing (me, not the babies!), training for a mud run (also me!).  

Here is what this busy mummy and her wonderful babies got up to this summer!

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Well That’s One Off the Cancer Bucket List!

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Well today’s ‘office’ is me on the sofa under a blankie, exhausted, run down and in pain.  But it’s largely self inflicted and I’m so glad it is!

You see since cancer, I’ve been compiling a kinda bucket list in my mind given my second stab at living.  As a result lots has changed over the past two years; relocation to the beautiful Welsh mountains; I’ve completed a further nutrition diploma; I’ve taken up singing again; I’ve re-found laughter; and I’ve shocked myself into loving running!  Yes you heard right!  Yes, me running!  

Some of you will already know that I live with chronic illness in the form of a rare genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (and many wonderful associated aliments) and Secondary Lymphoedema due to the cancer treatment; both which can affect my ability to walk quite significantly at times.  Despite this, I added a rather challenging and bonkers item to my bucket list recently – to complete a MUD RUN!  Yes, totally bonkers!  You will read from my previous blogs how I’ve struggled with my fitness due to my health – you can read them here and here if you haven’t!

This is what I wrote on Facebook on 9th September:

“So, have kept this quietish in case I wasn’t able to take part for health reasons, BUT apart from just detoxing my body & mind, I’ve been training towards one of my bucket list goals since surviving cancer 2 years ago…..Today I’m VERY pleased to say I SMASHED my first ever mud run, completing a 5K course with muddy obstacles in the heavy rain in just 36 MINUTES!!! Not only did I stay in the lead of my race, I actually outran the majority in the race that set off 15 minutes before me!! I’m soooo emotional & what really made it extra special was having my two babies complete the last 100 yards across the finish line holding my hands – MY WORLD & reason I continue to fight living with chronic illness and beating cancer!! xxx.”

I still can’t believe what I achieved!  All by sensibly stepping up my walking over the past 6 months, sticking to a very strict detox and high-protein diet, and shutting out negativity.  Of course this combined with an EDS burst of adrenaline on the day; the celebration to still be alive and the love of my babies is what truly got me through that race and over those obstacles!

I still have to pinch myself; I could literally burst with pride.  I really could.  The haters couldn’t burst my bubble, and nor could the awful downward spiral in my health since as a result!

I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

 

When Life Gives You Lemons….

So this evening’s ‘office’ is an OKish hotel bar, about 40 miles from home.  Staff are friendly; people interesting (I do love a good people watch!).  But why am I here?

So, this isn’t what I was ‘meant’ to be doing this evening.  BUT as a single mum I would have been crazy to pass up an opportunity for my first child free night in a year when my plans got cancelled last minute.  So, me being the spontaneous fidget bum that I am, I hit the road and voila!  Here I am having a much needed night away; turning a disappointment into an opportunity 🙂

This week has been very mixed.  After being soooooo full of energy last week, I knew I was surviving on borrowed adrenaline and that a health crash was imminent (don’t you just LOVE living with a chronic illness!)  So from Wednesday onwards I’ve been feeling pretty crappy, which probably wasn’t helped by insomnia, worrying over another person, and the worsening difficulties of one of my babies bless.

So my week resembled something like this:

Excitement.  Happiness.  Pride.  Frustration.  Uncontrollable (and unappreciated) worry.  Loss.  Exhaustion.  Pain.  Fright.  Relief.  Anger.  Upset.  Pissed off.  Disappointment.  Regret.  The full spectrum in a few short days.  But have I let that stop me from facing the world and just cracking on?  No.  Because I am built to push through (and I’m pretty fantastic at it!).

And it’s for that reason why it’s bloody brilliant that the new Doctor is a WOMAN!!!  She possesses all the required qualities, and more.  I can’t understand why there has been so much backlash?!?!  Well, judging by social media the majority of the negativity has come from men!  Do they feel threatened and inferior??  Well they should do ha!  Now, I’m not really sexist and I do have some truly wonderful male friends (thanks Benjamin for cheering me up today with hidden Micky Flanagan references in your messages!)  But seriously chaps, GET OVER IT!!!  She can’t help being born AMAZING 😉

Anyway….I am going to get back to my people watching and chatting to random tipsy strangers 😉  Have a fantastic weekend folks, whether you are doing ‘proper F**k all’ or going ‘Out Out.’

Amy x

 

Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©

Still Kicking Cancer’s Butt – Yay Go Me!

Warrior

This afternoon’s ‘office’ (Friday 14th) is sat on the step of the harbour lock at Cardiff Bay, overlooking the water.  Those close to me will know the significance of this place.  I can feel him sat with me, silently…..and then eventually telling me to get off my phone lol!  We miss you xxx.

Anyway…….

What a week!  The lead up to my Oncology check ups are always very difficult.  I tend to shut myself off from people, chuck myself into exercise (when well enough), work, studying, DIY and dance like a buffoon around the kitchen to try to dull the wait.  Sometimes it works better than others. I’m glad today is over for another six months.

Anyway, yes thats me TWO years and 7 months clear of cancer now!!!  I can’t quite believe it!  Wow, a lot has happened in those two years.  That doesn’t mean I’m ‘free’ from the aftermath of cancer mind; people forget that cancer treatment is only the very first step (but that’s another blog post!).  For me I have a love/hate relationship with my cancer.

I hate my cancer because:

  1. Of the unbearable fear it caused incase I had to leave my young kids without their mummy (anyone who knows me, knows I am a complete tigress when it comes to my babies!)
  2. Of the pain my children suffered.  I will never forget the day I had to tell them.
  3. Of the time it stole from our lives.
  4. My decision to have more kids was ripped away.
  5. I’m left with permanent daily complications.
  6. Of the chance of recurrence.
  7. I had to go through major and risky surgery – and suffered a big bleed on the operating table (I thank my wonderful surgeon each day for saving me!)
  8. I’m sometimes angry about the medical neglect and delayed diagnosis.

BUT, I also LOVE my cancer too (odd ‘ey?!) because:

  1. It’s allowed me a freedom I’ve never experienced; like proper life changing freedom!  Hard to explain, but I’m finally free.
  2. I’ve learnt to love hard and proper – never mediocre & no apologies.
  3. I’ve learnt to commit hard and proper to people, work, life – never mediocre.
  4. I can now walk away from things that don’t benefit us.
  5. I’ve learnt to appreciate the simple, thoughtful things & gestures in life.
  6. I’ve mastered the art of saying ‘no’ to people.
  7. I’m stronger, more confident and happier than ever.
  8. It’s also made me more spontaneous, ambitious and adventurous than ever.
  9. I now have a zero tolerance of bullshit. No exceptions.
  10. It’s made me more honest, open and blunt like never before (and I wont apologise for it, sorry!)
  11. It’s taught me that ‘failure’ and ‘adapt’ are two very different things.  I never fail.  Ever.
  12. I will never take a ‘passive’ role in our medical care ever again.
  13. It’s taught me that you are responsible for making your own happiness in life.
  14. It made me both limit and value those people I now welcome into our lives – feel privileged if you are still part of our ‘team.’  We Love you!  For those of you no longer in our lives, it’s probably due to number 9 on this list! *scrolls back up lol!*
  15. Finally, and most importantly; I’m a better mummy to my beautiful babies. (Ok, I was already pretty amazing before, but you know!)

So you see I have FAR more reasons to LOVE my cancer, than to hate it. I know that will seem odd to many people.  Wow, it feels odd to even say it; really wasn’t where this blog was originally heading!  Yes, there are days where I struggle to see the positives it’s given me.  But today isn’t one of those.

Cancer; you may have taken loved ones, but I can guarantee you will never take me…….I’m just too damn awesome for you baby!



Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©