What were you doing 5 years ago?

What do you hope to be doing 5 years from now?

2 big questions right?

I spent a lot of January contemplating where I am, where I have been and where I would like to be and I realised a few things…

Firstly, I realised that I have come a lot further than I give myself credit for!

My life has changed dramatically over the last five years! The biggest change is that I became a mother of 2 when my daughter was born in May 2014, making my then toddler-son a big brother! What a whirlwind that has been!! Motherhood is the best and yet hardest thing I have ever experienced! I have extreme highs and extreme lows in my role as “mummy” – extremes that I had never really experienced before…

I have come through a complete change of career, spurred on by a redundancy from my office job of 10 years and all the emotional fallout that came with that (!!!)

I have qualified as a Pilates instructor and Meditation Teacher and am now teaching classes regularly in the community and have a regular base of individual clients as well.

And I have gone back to school to study Hypnotherapy & Counselling to add to my skillset and deepen my knowledge & expertise.

I mention these things simply to let you know what a period of transition the last 5 years have been for me. Every area of my life has changed – Family, career, studies…. Yet, before I really took the time to contemplate these things, I had an overriding feeling that I hadn’t really accomplished anything of any real significance.


Why are we so often reluctant to recognise what we have accomplished and instead focus on all the things that didn’t work out like we wanted them to?

I had so many plans that I thought about starting, but never managed to get off the starting block…. so many projects that I started but didn’t finish… And I seem to focus on these unfinished things!

I would NEVER remind my friends or children of all the things they DIDN’T accomplish!! I would never be so discouraging and negative when talking to others so why do I talk this way to myself??

This was certainly food for thought….

Another thing I realised is that I don’t actually have a clear vision of what I want to be doing 5 years from now and I’m ok with that! I know that I like what I am doing and what I am working towards right now and I have a rough idea of what I’d like to be doing in the future, but it certainly isn’t a crystal clear vision or goal…. not yet.

I have a greater understanding and acceptance of the fact that things will constantly change and I am actually really pleased to know this!

My family will change as my children grow older. In 5 years time I will have an 11 year old son and a 9 year old daughter and will be dealing with all the fun and challenges that 11yr olds and 9yr olds bring! I accept that I cannot control these changes, but that I can accept, welcome and ENJOY them!

I also recognise that while I may have clarity on the path I want to follow right now, I will probably need to change things along the way. I am quite relaxed about not knowing exactly where I will be in 5 years and I will welcome each progression and development as it comes. I recognise that change is necessary and inevitable and that without change we will never move forwards.

I also recognise that in the case of my career I do have control over these changes. I have experienced this first hand over the last 5 years!

While redundancy may not seem like something we can control, we can control how we deal with it and what we do with the situation we have been given.

I am carrying this belief with me as I progress through my self-employed life and as I develop and grow my business. And the beauty of self-employment is that I am 100% in control of what I do! If something is working well, I can develop it and do more of it! I can adapt what I am doing to fit in with my changing family.

Similarly, if something isn’t working so well or doesn’t quite fit, I can change it.

And whether you are self-employed, employed, on a career break or a stay-at-home-parent, you too have the control! Nobody else is living your life, only YOU! You are the Pilot and YOU alone have the control over what direction you take and what path you follow.

So yes, I have a rough idea of where I want to be 5 years from now. But I am willing to adapt and change this over the course of time if I believe it to be the right thing to do.

They say a goal without a plan is just a wish and this is so true! We need a plan in order to make things happen. However, we must be adaptable. Life will throw things our way that we didn’t expect….good things and bad things! We can choose to panic and feel angry that “life” is working against us and thwarting our plans, or we can choose to accept what we have and use it to our advantage. We can choose to change our plan, change our path…

For one thing is surely true – if you change nothing, nothing will change.

It was a real eye-opener for me taking the time to contemplate where I have come from and where I am going… I highly recommend you do the same and ask yourself these same questions. Who knows what new thoughts it might spark in your mind?!

As always, feel free to share if you experience any lightbulb moments! I love to hear from you ūüôā

I hear this ALL the time!

“I just don’t know how to meditate.”

“I find it really hard to think of nothing…”

“I don’t like sitting still…I get bored and distracted.”

“I haven’t got time to meditate!”


Stop overthinking it people!

Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult. And it definitely doesn’t always need to involve sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed.

There are so many different ways to meditate and not one of them is “right” or “wrong”. As long as you are feeling the benefits from it, then it has to be worthwhile right?

My first introduction to meditation was when I started going to Yoga classes when I was at University.

At the end of the class the teacher would have us lie down on our mats (what I now know to be Shavasana)…

…and she simply guided us through some lovely slow breaths before leaving us to simply listen to some gentle, relaxing music for a few minutes.

It was heavenly!

That was a few (a lot!) of years ago now, but it really sparked something within me. I instantly fell in love with the calmness that those few moments on the mat brought me.

So there is one myth already debunked – you don’t have to sit cross-legged to meditate!

It can be very difficult to find a comfortable seated position, especially in your early stages of mediation practice. Your legs might get sore or uncomfortable, or your back might feel awkward… All these little niggles will distract you from your mediation and distraction prevents you from getting the full relaxation and de-stressing benefits.

So, if you find it really difficult to sit down, try lying down. Just don’t get too cosy as you will probably fall asleep!

The next myth is that meditating is all about thinking of NOTHING. No wonder so many people are put off meditating if this is what they believe it to be!

It is exactly at the moment that you are told to think of “nothing” that suddenly “EVERYTHING” comes into your head! Am I right? If I was to say to you now “Think of anything in the world, except for a tree”, I bet that all you can see in your mind is a tree!

It is very very difficult to tell your mind NOT to think of something!

So, instead of trying so hard to clear the mind, an easier way to meditate can be to focus all your attention on just one thing. Even this can be challenging, but it is definitely more accessible than thinking of nothing!

My favourite thing to think of and focus on is my breath. I use this a lot when leading groups in meditation and in my Serenity program and workshops.

The breath is perfect because we always have it with us. This means we can literally meditate anywhere and at any time!

When you are just starting out, I suggest that you simply close your eyes and concentrate on your breath for as long as you can manage.

You can try to elongate the inhale for the count of 4, hold it for 2 and then exhale for the count of 4. Or whatever number you like! By keeping the inhale and the exhale the same length, you are actually helping to bring the nervous systems of your body into sync and equilibrium. In doing this, you will enjoy a lovely feeling of calm start to sweep over you. This is a great technique to use during particularly stressful moments in your day and it is the first step we focus on in the Serenity program: http://emilyclifford.com/portfolio-item/serenity/

As you get more into meditation, there is so much more that you can do with your breath, but I will save that for another post.

I read (or watched) a lovely blog from one of my own meditation teachers recently where he talks about the importance of celebrating small successes rather than dwelling on failures.

It really spoke to me so I thought I would share it with you too – https://www.skillfulmind.com.au/blog/returning-to-the-breath.html

The basic premise is that, when you are meditating on the breath, you should celebrate and congratulate yourself every time you recognise that you mind has wandered. It is in these moments that you are returning to your meditation and that you are actually mastering and developing your technique!

So don’t feel bad or annoyed with yourself for losing focus, instead celebrate that you are in-tune enough to realise that you have drifted away and gently bring your focus back to your breath.

Sometimes people tell me that they just can’t sit still long enough to mediate, or that they simply don’t have the time.

I challenge both these statements!

If you don’t enjoy sitting still, you can try walking meditation! This is when you simply concentrate intently on each step that you take. Notice how your foot lands on the ground and how your body moves as you walk… take a moment to notice everything around you using all your senses. I recorded a video on this for my Serenity program where I go into a lot more detail about how to do this. You can find it here: https://youtu.be/uW-bVxzvdO0

And for those who believe they don’t have time to meditate, I suggest that you start out with the goal of simply slowing down and breathing for just ONE minute. Don’t stress yourself trying to allocate time to do it, or scheduling it into your already packed diary. Just use your breath, and grab a minute whenever you can.

It really is that simple!

There is no need to overthink how to mediate. All you have to do is breathe!

I hope this encourages you to give mediation a go! Please feel free to get in touch if you have questions or comments… I love to hear from you!

This is a quick summary of what we have covered in the first 2 weeks of our Journaling January.

It’s never too late to get started!

You can take as much or as little time as you wish with each prompt, moving through them one day at a time or much quicker if you prefer.

The purpose of the first couple of weeks of questions is to get us really thinking about our lives. What we like, what we don’t like… What we are good at, what we need to work on…

The last couple of weeks is when we get really focussed in on our hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

I understand that not everyone is into writing goals… not everyone needs or wants a goal to work towards! However what I often hear is that people really do like to have a focus, but they find it difficult to define their goals. People struggle to get clear on what they really want to achieve, or what they realistically can work towards in a specific time frame.

If you are one of these people, then this month of journaling could help you figure it all out a bit more.

Also, by writing every day for a month, you will be closer to developing a HABIT of journaling, or even just of thinking a little deeper about your life…your dreams and your goals ūüôā

So here is a summary of the first 13 days of prompts:

DAY 1 – What were the 5 BEST things that happened in 2018? 

Write lots of details about the 5 best thing from 2018. How did you feel? Why have you picked these things? Relive them and ENJOY them all over again!

DAY 2 – What did you start but not finish in 2018?  Why?

Reflect back on what you started but didn’t finish and try to figure out why you didn’t make it to the end. Was it a lack of time or motivation that got in your way? Do you want to try again this year or is it better to just let it go?

DAY 3 – How is your physical health and fitness right now?

Are you happy with where you are at right now? If so, is there anything you could improve on? If you aren’t happy, how can you start making some changes? What can you start doing NOW to get closer to where you want to be? Are you willing to make some sacrifices?

DAY 4 – Write down everything you have to be grateful for.

Gratitude helps us to see the positive in our lives and not dwell on the negative. Did you know that adopting a positive outlook on life actually attracts more positivity your way? All you have to do is open your eyes and be aware of all you have around you.

DAY 5 – What do you enjoy doing for fun & relaxation?

It’s vital to know how to relax. It’s not something that is just “nice to do”. As human beings, we NEED to relax and unwind. What do YOU like to do for fun and relaxation?

DAY 6 – How are you feeling today?

It is so important to stop and pay attention to how we are feeling. Tracking your mood is a great way to notice if there are any patterns in your life that may need adjusting. Similarly, if you are feeling great, take a moment to relish in that and enjoy it!

DAY 7 – What BAD habits would you like to quit this year? Why?

A Bad habit is something you do without thinking that negatively impacts your life in some way. What do you need to STOP doing?

DAY 8 – What GOOD habits would you like to start this year?  Why?

Think about the bad habits and see if you could replace any with some good ones? Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many – focus on a couple initially and then see what you can add in.

DAY 9 – Are you happy with your work/life balance?

Whether you love or loathe what you do to earn money, it is so important that it doesn’t take over your life and prevent you from doing the fun stuff!

DAY 10 – What did you find challenging in 2018?

Life will always throw challenges our way. But with every challenge there is a lesson to learn. What lessons can you learn from last year’s challenges? How can you be better equipped to deal with these things in the future?

DAY 11 – When do you feel best about yourself?

Think about when you really feel good! What are you good at? What do people compliment you on? When do you feel like you are really in control of things?

DAY 12 – What is your morning routine?  Are you happy with it?

All the self development books talk about the importance of a good morning routine. Take a few moments to think about yours and if you are happy with it. If not, what do you want to change?

DAY 13 – Do you get enough sleep?  If not, why not?

Think about how you feel when you wake each morning. If you wake feeling exhausted each day you probably aren’t getting enough sleep… Try changing your bedtime routine. Herbal teas, meditation, relaxing bath, go to bed EARLIER!

If you want to receive a new prompt each day for the rest of the month you can either sign up to the mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/gcHzcD 

Or join my Facebook closed group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/emilyclifford/

Happy Journaling!


A time of peace and love and joy, right?

Or, maybe you feel it is more a time of excess and busyness and stress, stress, STRESS!?!

I know so many of us end up getting swept up into a stressful whirlwind of shopping and wrapping and cooking…..

Our diaries get booked up with parties and meet-ups and we end up eating and drinking much more than we usually do. This coupled with less sleep & less time for exercise means we can start to feel sluggish and weary and not really so sparkly or merry or bright…

Well, I don’t think it needs to be just so stressful. I believe it really CAN be a time of peace, love and joy!

Here are my TOP TIPS to help you stay sane and keep your sparkle through the festive season!

S SLOW DOWN! Stop rushing around in a crazy frenzy! Take a moment. Stop. I know we all have a lot to do and we feel that time is running out… but rushing around does not actually help us get things done any quicker. All it does is raise our cortisol levels and add to the feelings of stress within our system! When we feel stressed it can be harder to think straight and more difficult to make decisions which ultimately makes us less efficient and means that things will take longer than they should or could! So let’s give ourselves a helping hand and simply slow down!

P PAUSE! I encourage you to take a break from it all! This could be stopping for a cup of tea or coffee while you are out shopping and just taking a moment to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Or it could be deciding to take a day (or maybe just an hour or so!) off from thinking about all the things you have to get or do! Distract yourself with a good movie or a catch up with a friend and call it a Christmas free zone! Or take some time out to meditate. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, your brain and your body will still feel the benefits and you will go back to your tasks and to-do lists with renewed energy and gusto.

A ALLOW YOURSELF TO SAY NO! This is so much harder than it sounds but so so important! Allow yourself to say “no” to what doesn’t serve you, especially at this time of year when you are already so stretched! Make sure that you will really enjoy any festive socials or gatherings you commit to. Don’t feel pressured into going to your work do if you really don’t enjoy them. Don’t feel that you have to visit Santa’s grotto if you really can’t face the queues or you simply can’t afford it. Don’t feel that you have to buy EVERYTHING your children ask for! Allow yourself to say “no” to the alcohol if you simply can’t face another hangover… Lose the guilt! It’s ok not to do it all at Christmas… it doesn’t make you scrooge, it just means you are looking after yourself.

R REST! Get to bed early when you can. Never underestimate how important sleep is. Research has shown that our bodies require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue and balance hormones. We can become forgetful and irritable and even become more susceptible to colds and viruses as our immune system can be impacted by insufficient sleep. So, if you find you have a few more late nights this month, try getting to bed earlier on the nights that you don’t have plans to make up for it. You will function more efficiently as a result!

K KEEP IT SIMPLE! Let’s not overcomplicate Christmas. Lots of us have this desire to make everything PERFECT! This yearning is of course magnified by the endless images we see around us of the perfect Christmas scene with tastefully decorated trees, amazing feasts and families smiling together in their beautiful, warm, Christmassy houses! How about we give ourselves a break?! It’s ok if we aren’t quite able to produce a spread like Nigella or Jamie! It’s ok if our tree looks like it was decorated by a five year old (even if it wasn’t!)! Let’s keep things simple. Focus on what is really important to you and don’t let yourself get caught up in the hype of elaborate cuisine and ridiculous gifts!

L LISTS! I love a good list! That feeling when you tick off the last item….there’s nothing quite like it! I am a firm believer in writing things down. Once you get it down onto paper, your poor, overloaded head no longer needs to remember it! You can relax knowing that you can simply check back to your list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. So don’t delay, get it all out of your head and write those lists!!

E EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY! My last top tip is to let loose and ENJOY this time! Maybe not the usual advice from a Pilates and Mindfulness advocate, but hey ho! I believe that there are times to be strict, controlled and focussed on your health and then there are times when you need to just let go and relax. Often I find that if people officially allow themselves to enjoy Christmas without worrying about counting calories or hitting their step count, they actually manage to keep a greater level of control over themselves than they expect! So ditch the diet for a bit, throw on your sparkliest outfit, put on some makeup and enjoy this magical time! It’s ok to party! It doesn’t mean you are “off the wagon” or “being bad”… you are simply embracing this time! Lose the guilt and savour every moment ūüôā

And so with that I wish you all a wonderfully MERRY CHRISTMAS!

May your mood be light and your sparkle be bright!

Peace, love and joy to all!

Emily xx

I feel like I’ve had a bit of an epiphany!  So I thought it would be unfair of me not to share…..

I was at a training session recently with one of my amazing clients and we were chatting about how difficult it can be to get assignments done.  We are both studying at the minute and have been thrown back into the world of deadlines and essays and homework… and we are both struggling to get things done without leaving it all to the very last minute and then feeling stressed and anxious and not producing our best work!

After we had consoled each other a bit and told ourselves that we were doing the best we can, (we are each other’s best cheerleaders!) my client said something that might just have changed my life!

Ok, so this might be a little overdramatic yes, but it has certainly made an impact on my life….

“Just commit to spending 10 minutes on it.”

So simple!

My mind was blown!

I could instantly see how this could benefit me!

Worst case scenario, I only spend 10 minutes on it, but I would have at least made a start!

Best case scenario, I would get to the end of the 10 minutes and be in the flow and keep going for a bit longer.

Either way, I would make progress.   I would move forwards.  I would stop worrying about finding the time to get started and just do it!

I loved it!

This isn’t only effective with assignments or essays…. it works with lots of other things too!

For example, I had a HUUUUUGE pile of ironing building up and I kept putting it off and thinking I needed a good hour or two to get through it.  But when do I have a free hour or two??!   Or, if I’m being totally honest, if I do have a free hour or two, I don’t want to spend it doing my ironing!!  This does not fill my heart with joy! (I am not a lover of housework…..)

So, last night I said to myself, “Spend 10 minutes ironing and see what you can get done”.

40 minutes later I had the bulk of it done!  Go me!!

This 10 minute thing spurs me into action!

It breaks big jobs down into smaller, more manageable chunks and it gets me out of planning mode and into ACTION!

Need to declutter your house?   Spend 10 minutes on it TODAY!  Don’t think about it as a whole big project…just get started!  Clear one drawer, one shelf, one toy box….  just do something for 10 minutes!

I talk about this as one of my actions in my SERENITY program – how we can feel so overwhelmed with the magnitude of BIG tasks.  So overwhelmed that we just go round and round in circles, never actually getting things done, never actually starting anything and never progressing forwards.  This horrible overwhelm prevents us from progressing forwards.  It clutters up our heads with “stuff” that we need to get around to.  It holds us back. It keeps us “stuck” in a horrible, unpleasant place.

If you can manage to say to yourself, “I will spend 10 minutes on this task” you are breaking this big, overwhelming job into smaller, DOABLE pieces.  You are getting yourself out of this horrible place of overwhelm and giving yourself a chance to actually get started!

(link to SERENITY is here http://emilyclifford.com/portfolio-item/serenity/)


So, the next time you have something to do and you keep putting it off or keeping it for when you think you might have enough time to devote to it,  why not try following the 10 minute rule?

Set your timer and GO!

Get started.

Move forwards.

Stop planning and thinking and start DOING!




So what exactly is Girasole Retreats all about??

Well, it is my absolute pleasure to be working alongside 2 beautiful ladies that I am so blessed to call my friends ?


Francesca, Shauna and I met at work.  We had an instant common denominator in that we all have a connection to Italy!

Francesca was born in Tuscany and spent the first 25 or so years of her life there!  Shauna and I both studied Italian at University and spent some time living there. I personally spent 3 years of my life living in the beautiful city of Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region.

But I digress… it may have been our love for Italy that first drew us to eachother, but I truly believe that ultimately the universe transpired to make our paths cross.

We have each followed our own individual career paths but our connection has always stayed strong.  So while we may no longer share an office space, we are so delighted to work together towards a common goal.

We all share a desire to help bring peace and wellness to our families and those around us. A desire to find light and love in our own lives and help guide others to do the same.

And so Girasole Retreats was born!

The name we have chosen – Girasole – is the Italian word for Sunflower. The flower that follows the sun! An ideal symbol for what we hope to achieve ?

This is truly mind and body wellness at its finest!

We specialise in 3 different areas –

I am the Pilates provider (read more about this here)

Francesca is our Reflexology specialist (read more about this here)

Shauna is our EFT Practitioner (post coming shortly with more information from Shauna ūüôā )

Together these 3 practices can help you arrive at a deeper state of mind and body wellness – our ultimate goal!

Our WEEKEND retreats are held at Lorne House in Holywood, Co. Down, and we hope to have some DAY RETREATS in other locations around the province in the near future.

At our retreats you will enjoy:

– Exploring posture and core strength with me on the mat through beginner-friendly Pilates sessions

– A Choice of either Reflexology or Indian Head massage from Francesca.

– An introduction to EFT with Shauna where you will learn more about this amazing mind and body technique and discover how it can dramatically help you with issues such as anxiety or stress. You will also have a time allocated to you for an individual session with Shauna where you can delve a little deeper into any specific issues you may have.

We may also bring other practitioners along to offer you the chance to receive further treatments such as Reiki, NLP, Aromatherapy massage and others…

So I, along with many many others, am¬†on¬†a ‘Wellness Journey’ right now..

I know it’s a bit of a buzzword at the minute and you could almost say that wellness has become trendy or fashionable.¬† I actually think this is wonderful!¬† The fact that more and more of us are investing our time and money on ways to improve our wellness can only be a good thing!

So, as I work on my own overall wellness I am learning A LOT and I want to share it with you all ūüôā

When I first started out,  I rather naively thought wellness was just really about eating right, being active and learning how to meditate.  I now understand that there is SO much more depth to it than that!

Did you know that there are 6 dimensions to overall wellness?

No, neither did I!  But when I started to read a bit about them it just makes total sense and is in perfect keeping with the holistic mind body wellness that I am striving to achieve.

Below is a very brief outline of each of the 6 dimensions:

(Photo and information adapted from ‘Clark College’ and ‘National Wellness Institute’)

1. OCCUPATIONAL – feeling satisfied in your work. doing something that is in keeping with your personal beliefs, values and interests and having the opportunity to use your unique gifts and talents.

2. PHYSICAL – understanding the importance and impact of regular physical exercise. Realising how much better it is to fuel your body with food that makes you feel great in the long term rather than short term gratification which ultimately impairs your physical wellbeing. Looking and feeling better also leads to greater self image and boosts self esteem.

3. SOCIAL – being aware of your impact on environments and other people. Being respectful of others and of your environments and working with them rather than fighting against them.

4. INTELLECTUAL – seeking new knowledge and stretching your creativity and mental capacity. Seeing the importance of not becoming self satisfied and unproductive and instead spending time on intellectual and creative pursuits. This will ultimately improve your problem solving skills and better equip you to deal with whatever life throws your way.

5. SPIRITUAL – recognising the search for meaning and purpose in human existence. Living your life in harmony with your beliefs and values and living this way with such ease that it becomes difficult to live or behave in any other way,

6. EMOTIONAL – awareness and acceptance of your own feelings. Having the capacity to manage your feelings and the behaviours related to them and being understanding and accepting of your own limitations. Having the ability to cope effectively with stress and express your feelings with ease.

So, ¬†I know what areas I personally need to work on the most…. what about you?¬† Do you feel like any one of these dimensions is in a good place right now?¬† What steps can you put in place to get closer to overall WELLNESS?¬† What do you need help with?

And please feel free to Get in touch with any questions or ideas!

So, just over five years ago, my life changed and I became a mum.¬† I’m not going to go into all the crazy changes that motherhood has¬†brought about in my life…¬†that isn’t the purpose of this post.¬† What I want to focus on here is the change that I have experienced in my MIND since I became a mother.

I have found that in the last 5 years my mind has become busier and busier.  So busy that I have had to seek out and implement ways to quiet it down and save my sanity!

Now I’m not saying that motherhood¬†has driven¬†me insane!¬† However I will admit that I struggle sometimes with the¬†noise¬†that¬†fills my head since the children arrived.

Motherhood made me reassess EVERYTHING!  So much so that I have completely changed my career!

After my son was born I was fortunate enough to be able to reduce my working hours in my office job to part-time.  This was partly for financial reasons and to save on the extortionate childcare costs, but also to give me the luxury of spending some more time with my son in these early years.  I was very lucky to have this opportunity and I am so grateful for how that all worked out.

However, switching from full-time to part-time left me feeling rather unfulfilled in my work and that is when the “noise”¬†started to increase.¬† Mixed in¬†amongst the new and terrifying emotions¬†that come with being a new mum, was a distinct feeling of lack of direction.¬† What was I doing?¬† Where was I going?¬† Who was I??

That is when I took the plunge and decided to get qualified in fitness & Pilates.  Something I had secretly always wanted to do, but never believed that I could or should!

After some time, my little daughter¬†came¬†¬†along ūüôā¬† Suddenly I was a mother of 2 small people!¬†¬†A mother of 2 with a part time job and a¬†business¬†to run¬†in my ‘spare time’.¬† ¬†Eeek!!¬† The noise levels started to increase….in every way imaginable!

Before I continue, I really want to stress how grateful I am!¬† I have 2 beautiful children,¬† I had a job that paid me and let me rearrange my hours to fit in with the kids… and I had the support at home to be able to go out and follow my dream teaching classes in the evenings and weekends!¬† I fully appreciate how fortunate I am for all these things.

However…. the busyness that all these things brought about has been a struggle and there have been times when I have questioned everything and wanted to run away somewhere quiet and possibly never return!

Fortunately, the universe intervened and at the end of 2015 I was thrown a life line!¬† This might seem like a strange life line to some as it came in the form of REDUNDANCY!¬† That awful word that so many of us have unfortunately¬†heard in recent times…¬† Business wasn’t good and the company I worked for needed to lose some people from their workforce.¬†¬† Thankfully for me, this was actually exactly what I needed to happen.

My husband’s cousin had spoken to me previously about a company called Forever Living, a health and wellbeing company.¬† I had heard of this company before and was already using their signature Aloe Vera Drinking gel, but I wasn’t interested in taking on anything else from a business point of view.¬† That was before the redundancy word came along!¬† Now the timing was right, so I met up with her again and got myself set up as a Forever Living business owner.¬† I knew instantly that this was the perfect business for me to work¬†alongside my fitness and Pilates work.

So my office job came to an end in the summer of 2016 and since then I have been fully responsible for my income and fully responsible for the childcare of my 2 children!  (Terrifying but empowering in equal measure!!)

So, what has all this got to do with a mindset challenge??

Well,¬† this noise in my head wasn’t going away.¬† In fact, spending more time with the children increased the noise both in my house and in my head!¬†(they both love to chat!!)¬†The new¬†uncertainty and anxiety about work was filling my head with worries and stress.¬† The new possibilities of what I could actually do were filling my head with ideas and I was finding it increasingly hard to focus.¬† I was in a state of overwhelm!¬† Too many ideas and not enough time to quietly focus on them and figure out which ones to go with and which ones to leave alone or postpone until later….¬† I felt that sense of lack of direction creeping back in.¬† This was horrible because I had been so sure that my new status of ‘self-employed’ was going to be nothing other than fulfilling!

Thankfully, I was not alone!   Thankfully I had found Forever Living!   I am so thankful for all the people I have met through this business as they have had a MASSIVE impact on my mindset, which is the whole focus of this blogpost!

The team that I am part of is just fantastic.  They put on regular trainings for us and these are not only to learn about the products, but also to help us work on ourselves.  This was so unexpected for me and  I had no idea of the impact that this whole experience was going to have on me!

I have been introduced and exposed to so many inspiring people and books and tools to use to help work on my mindset since meeting all my Forever Living friends and colleagues.¬† We encourage eachother to focus on the positives in our days¬†and to spend a little time every day working on ourselves, to find ways to better manage our time, to improve our focus and productivity, to continually aspire to better ourselves…

This sort of encouragement was exactly what I needed and came to me at exactly the right time!¬† Isn’t it funny how often things come to you just when you need them the most?

So, having experienced first hand how wonderful it is to have the support of others when it comes to working on your mindset and also how powerful your mind is and what an impact your thoughts can have on your life, I decided to instigate a challenge!

I created a group on Facebook and ran a challenge about creating and maintaining a positive mindset.

After just a few days I could already feel the positive vibes being shared in the group!

There was only one rule for the challenge – commit to dedicate at least FIVE MINUTES EVERY DAY towards working on your mindset.¬† This could be done first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or at any random time throughout the day when you feel inspired to do it.¬† You¬†could use the time to write in your journal, meditate, sit in silence,¬†go for a contemplative walk, write¬†down some things¬†you feel grateful for, visualise where you would like to be, speak out some positive affirmations…. really anything at all!¬†¬† It just had to be focussed around positivity and you had to commit to do something every day for 21 days.

Why 21 days?  Well, research shows that this is how long it takes to form a habit.  It then takes a lot longer (90 days or more!) to sustain it and keep it going, but there is now a lot of research to prove that 21 days is a good length to aim for when trying to create a new habit.

I really cannot recommend these minsdet practices enough.  Do them regularly and you will definitely start to notice a difference.  Make mindset work a daily habit and it will honestly change your life!

I still have a lot of noise in my life.¬† Of course I do!¬†I have 2¬†small children! ¬†I also live in this crazy social media world!¬† A world where we are never truly alone and never fully quiet… We are contactable 24 hours a day and by people from all corners of the world!¬† It is a wonderful world and social media is a wonderful tool to use, especially for us small business owners!¬† But it is also dangerously addictive and can become a massive time thief!

So I urge you to take some time out EVERY DAY to work on YOU.¬†¬†Away from your phone, away from the notifications and updates…¬† Just you and your mind.¬† ¬†Make a commitment to yourself, stick to it and then wait for the magic to happen ūüôā

Maybe you are already a fan of Reflexology and need no convincing on the matter at all!¬† Or maybe you have heard of it before but you don’t really understand what benefits you can expect from it or why you should try it?¬† Is there really any more to it than a nice relaxing foot rub??

Well, allow me to enlighten you a little by borrowing some words from my wonderful friend and colleague Francesca ūüôā

Francesca has been a practitioner for 4 years now.  She has a kindness and generosity of spirit that is truly remarkable and she puts her heart and soul into every single session that she delivers.  I personally found regular sessions with Francesca during  my    second pregnancy enormously beneficial and therapeutic and I still try to get a session with her as often as our schedules will allow.

Here is¬†a little information from¬†Francesca about the history and benefits of this wonderful holistic therapy –

Modern reflexology is based on an ancient form of therapy. There is evidence of some form of foot and hand therapy being practiced in China as long ago as 4,000 B.C. and also at the same time in Egypt, as depicted in the tomb of Ankmahor. The North American tribes of Indians are also known to have practiced a form of foot therapy for hundreds of years.
The re-discovery of some form of systemized foot treatment is accredited to Dr William Fitzgerald who called it Zone Therapy and drew it to the attention of the medical world between 1915 and 1917. It was in 1915 that an article entitled ‚ÄúTo stop that toothache, squeeze your toe‚ÄĚ was published in ‚ÄúEverybody‚Äôs Magazine‚ÄĚ, written by Edwin Bowers, which first brought Dr Fitzgerald‚Äôs work on Zone Therapy before the public and eventually reintroduced as the widely used complementary treatment that it is today.
Alongside conventional medical care, reflexology can help to improve quality of life and bring comfort to those living with certain conditions. Some of which are listed below:
  • Migraine
  • Sinus problems
  • Digestive disorders including IBS and Constipation
  • Hormone imbalances, including PMS and the menopause
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Chronic conditions e.g. MS, ME/CFS, Lupus
So what better way to literally put up your feet, take a break from the business of everyday life and treat your body and soul to a well-deserved health boost!
If you get the opportunity to come along to one of our Girasole Retreats you will get the pleasure of experiencing¬†Francesca’s Reflexology¬†for yourself.¬† I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
Please feel free to get in touch to arrange an individual appointment with her – verzellifrancesca@yahoo.co.uk
Francesca offers home visits and offers shorter sessions for children as well.  Why not get the whole family booked in for a family visit?!

Before I get into the details of our inaugural retreat, please have a quick read here¬†for a little more about the history of how “Girasole Retreats” began.

When the 3 of us first started chatting about the idea of putting something like this together, I honestly don’t think that any of us really believed we would actually do it!¬† It was more of a “wouldn’t it be great to do this one day?” kind of chat initially.

IMG_3708But a little fire had been sparked up inside us and it was persistent!  Before we knew it we were looking at potential venues and mapping out a schedule.  We were (and still are!) convinced that our combination of Pilates, Reflexology/Indian Head Massage and EFT/Tapping was one that people needed to experience to attain a greater wellness of both mind and body.  We became determined to make it happen!

After contacting several places and having difficulty getting somewhere that we felt would really suit what we wanted to do, we finally came across Lorne House in County Down.¬† After chatting with the one of the coordinators on the phone we were so hopeful that this would be “the one”.¬† We made an arrangement to go for a viewing and kept our fingers crossed that we wouldn’t be disappointed.

Being mums of young children, getting out during the day on our own isn’t easy!¬† So in the end, we arrived at Lorne with SEVEN small children in tow to have a look around!!¬† The staff were so accommodating and politely smiled as our little darlings ran riot round the beautiful house, running up and down the staircase, climbing onto the windowsills and screaming in delight at this fun new ‘playhouse’!¬† It wasn’t exactly the perfect conditions for scouting out a peaceful venue for our first retreat!¬† However,¬†even amidst this chaos and stress, we knew that we had found our place.¬† It was perfect ūüôā


The old house commands respect as soon as you enter it.  The rooms have beautifully high ceilings and large bright windows with views of the gorgeous grounds from the ground floor and Belfast lough from the first floor.

The carpet feels soft and luxurious under foot and despite its size, there is a lovely cosiness that is just so welcoming and comforting to feel.  We just knew instantly  that our guests would enjoy staying here!

The space available was perfect for our requirements and we were satisfied that we would be able to achieve the ambience and setting that we wanted for our guests.  We got our date booked, paid our deposit and got to work!!

Our planning sessions were a few sporadic evening gatherings, with the kids in bed and a chance to chat uninterrupted (mostly!!) and a lot of WhatsApp chat and conference calls.¬†We planned the timetable, the food, the content of each of our individual sessions…everything was thought out and organised to the very last detail.¬† All we needed now was guests!¬† Would anyone want to come??¬† Are people even interested in what we have to offer??¬† Would anyone see our ad or hear our call??¬† This was the scary part – putting ourselves out there!

Thankfully we have Shauna, our EFT practitioner!  This amazing technique was something that we all used frequently in the weeks and months in the lead up to our event.  Regular practice helped us all to release that fear and move forwards with our excitement and enthusiasm.

We were so grateful to have all our spaces filled and to hear how excited everyone was about coming!

Then the day arrived!  The nerves and excitement were high!!

We were so delighted to be welcoming our guests to such a beautiful venue….¬† It felt great to guide everyone up the beautiful staircase and show them to their bright, spacious bedrooms.

Then, it all began.

After stretching out in an hour long Pilates session (read more about my Pilates here)¬†in a beautiful bright and sunny room, the guests enjoyed some healthy snacks and juices before hearing Shauna’s personal story.¬† Shauna explained how she discovered the world of EFT and what benefits she has personally experienced from it and demonstrated to our guests how they could use it themselves.

Individual treatments were then on the schedule with each guest receiving a chance to enjoy either Reflexology or Indian Head Massage with Francesca and an individual EFT session with Shauna.

We served a vegetarian meal and finished the evening with a relaxing, seated stretch and meditation session before leaving our guests to either head off to bed or stay up a while to chat and enjoy each others company.

The next morning began with some Sun Salutations in our beautiful sunny room followed by a healthy breakfast.   While Francesca and Shauna finished their individual sessions, I led 2 groups down to the shore line.  This was approximately a half hour walk and, being blessed with a dry morning thankfully, it was so pleasant to get out and enjoy the fresh sea air.

Here is a small collection of memories from the retreat.

It was just such a joy to share this experience with all these beautiful women!  Shauna, Francesca and I feel so blessed to have had such a warm, welcoming and receptive group of people at our first retreat.   The feedback we have received since has been overwhelmingly positive and so so encouraging!

The most common comment we received was to make the whole experience longer!  Well, we have listened and we already have plans to make this happen!

We are returning to Lorne House in February 2018 for another overnight retreat.

We are so looking forward to welcoming our 12 guests along! Would you like to be one of them?

Please just get in touch to get your space secured or for any more details.