Month: November 2015

Attitude of Gratitude Day 4


I have felt weary all day today. Yesterday was draining even though I found reasons to be thankful in the middle of all the chaos of a noisy Sunday spent at home with my family. Work was challenging and I was glad to see 5 o’clock – home time!

On arriving home, the first thing I saw was my youngest son standing on a stool in the kitchen mixing eggs for an omelette, Dad at his side offering encouragement. It was a beautiful sight and so lovely to be asked what I would like in my omelette for tea. The veg had all been chopped and the look of pride on my little boy’s face made me feel so grateful to have a family to come home to, to feel cared for and to know that my boys are learning some important life skills.

Dinner cleared up, homework signed and a catch up chat led us to bedtime. I asked the boys to pick a story book and I would read to them, but they didn’t want me to read tonight. My feelings a little hurt, I said goodnight and left the room. I sat on the stairs thinking ‘that’s it, they’ve outgrown snuggly story time with mummy’. I guess that’s the way it goes. They’re all at school and have become independent readers. I am redundant!

As I sat and felt the sadness at the end of this chapter of my children’s lives, I heard my middle son begin to read out loud…..’ Listen to this….’ He read from his current novel ‘How to train your dragon’ by Cressida Cowell. His voice was clear and full of animation. He wasn’t just reading out loud, he was painting a picture with words, he was involved in the adventure. He paused to explain what a ‘Wodensfang’ is, playing teacher.

My feelings of rejection lifted as I realised that my sons had fallen in love with stories. That the years my husband and I have spent reading to them have laid a foundation for them to now delve into worlds of adventure all by themselves.

To share a story is special, words are magic, they transport us, lift us, nurture us and revitalize. When I’m tired, taking time to read a little energises me and helps put the world into perspective. So, sitting on the stairs listening to my sons sharing a wild tale of dragons and fire and excitement made my heart sing and I know it was their way of communicating ‘I love you’ because that’s what it meant when I read to them each night. I am sure I will get to read with them again, probably tomorrow! The rejection made me somewhat melodramatic in thinking it was the end of an era, but in the meantime I am going to enjoy listening to them reading aloud to one another.

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Attitude of Gratitude Day 1

As 2015 draws to a close it is apparent that the world is on edge. Recent events have made us uneasy. The troubles we see broadcast on the news on a local, national and global scale are a daily reminder that terrible things are happening in the world and that life is indeed fragile.

It is upsetting to see our beautiful planet earth damaged and the many wars going on all around the world are so confusing that it’s sometimes difficult to know what is right and what is wrong. I fear for my children when I lie awake at night, images from the news hard to shake off, and I wonder what the future is going to look like for them.

It is so easy to get weighed down by the things we hear about, to allow ourselves to feel powerless. However, I don’t believe that it is human nature to give up hope and when I look around me in my own daily life I can see so many things to feel grateful for. They might seem like small, insignificant things, but surely being grateful for the things we do have is only a good thing? A friend recently started on an endeavour to share on her own Facebook page things that she is grateful for over a period of 7 days.

So, in support, the next few posts to this blog will acknowledge the things that I personally am grateful for.


I can often be heard moaning that there just isn’t enough time to do everything. Sometimes I wish I could press pause on a remote control to make time stand still while I play catch-up with my jobs about the house, my studies and even my own thoughts. I’ve often found myself exhausted at the end of the day thinking ‘I’ve been run ragged all day, but what did I actually achieve, and was there any joy in today?’.

This past week I ‘made time’. When my eyes got heavy reading about morphology, etymology and synonymy, instead of continuing, I took a step back, made myself a cup of chai tea, sat in silence and just organised my thoughts. It was actually pretty lovely and energising too. I continued with my reading, my head clearer and my heart happier and got caught up.

I took some ‘time out’ also this week to prepare meals and snacks for my family. Eating healthily is really important to me and I feel so much better when I am getting the right foods into my body (and yes, I am thankful that we have enough money to buy food to feed our family, we so often take this for granted). We had got into a bit of a rut of eating the same things so it was nice to try some new recipes and I feel it was time well spent. So, I am grateful that there is time to spare for the things that matter to me if I just learn to take a step back, take a deep breath, use my moments wisely and enjoy this life I have been given.

If you want to join me in sharing what you are thankful for, feel free to leave a comment.

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Puffed rice bars I made as an after school snack

Tribal Fitness Belfast

So, here we are, mid-November and it’s cold, grey, wet and downright dreary. I love the bright Autumn days and the wonderful colours that the trees turn, but when winter knocks at the door I shiver and tend to lock myself indoors to endure the harsh Winter slog.

Not this year though. I made a decision earlier in the year that I was going to get fit and stay fit. I often went out running, but that just wasn’t satisfying me anymore and it is especially hard to do alone on dark winter nights, so after following Tribal Fitness Bootcamps on Facebook for quite some time and finding their approach to a healthy lifestyle appealing I took the plunge and started attending Tribal Fitness Belfast outdoor, ladies only, bootcamp sessions.

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Hollie- Tribal Fitness Belfast Chief

I was immediately warmly welcomed by Belfast tribe instructor, Hollie, and I have to admit I haven’t looked back since. The sessions are different every week, completely challenging yet I can go at my own pace and I have made some amazing new friends in the process.

Hollie has been a real encouragement to me personally and I know both from watching how she interacts with the women who attend bootcamp and from things that others say that she is hugely inspirational. She is so physically and mentally strong and yet she never fails to show her warmth, kindness and understanding during the one-hour sessions at Ormeau Embankment every week (no matter what the weather!).

Hollie kindly agreed to a Q&A post for the Every Treasure blog. I hope that as you read her responses to the questions posed that you will find her advice, words of wisdom and expertise as inspirational as I find the bootcamp sessions. As we journey through the rest of 2015 it is my wish to stay active and not to get caught up in over-indulgence during the festive season and to enter into 2016 feeling happy and healthy.

So here goes…

Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started with Tribal Fitness Belfast?

I have been a fitness professional for about 5 1/2 years now (although have been involved in sports training my whole life). After my second child was born, at around 4 months I attended some of Tribal’s Pram classes. I had been aware of Tribal’s rising success and was really impressed with what Nikki Jarvis (Owner) had accomplished.

Nikki and I got chatting during one of the Pram sessions and it was slowly from there the suggestion was made that a Tribal Belfast Franchise might be a fit for me. It didn’t take me long to make the final decision because there were so many great opportunities for me to be self-employed but still at home with my kids, working at something that was my absolute passion. It’s been the best business decision I’ve ever made and I really LOVE everything about it!

What would you say makes Tribal so unique?

It’s so much more than a fitness class. When you attend a Tribal session you’re walking into a community of women there primarily of course to improve fitness, lose weight or gain muscle and to improve all round health, but there’s also something else, a buzz in the air, friendships being made, stories shared and so many giggles! We try so hard to create an all-inclusive environment. No matter your circumstances or background, you can fill a Tribal girl shaped space! Our sessions aren’t just generic group workout classes, the instructors get to know the ladies, what their physical strengths and weaknesses are and what motivates them. Many have challenges they’d like to accomplish and Tribal is a fitness community where you’ll get the support to succeed.

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Some of the amazing Tribe ladies!

People nowadays lead very busy lives. How important would you say it is to find time for regular exercise?

It’s not easy to find a balance when a person has so many responsibilities, and sometimes you can only juggle so much. There comes a time though when something’s got to give. We all know within ourselves what we really need to prioritize and what we could give up for a while to allow ourselves more space to focus on our health and wellness. If a person doesn’t find exercise enjoyable, but they know their health is being affected due to lack of activity, then it’s about finding a way to make it enjoyable. Going for forest walks, or meeting a friend for a walk and a chat, a bike ride, a swim with your kids, or finding a community of like-minded individuals who can all have some fun “hating” exercise together! Very quickly mind-sets can be changed and once the obvious benefits become apparent people’s outlooks on exercise can be transformed. A natural way to medicate yourself better!

I know how important eating healthily is to you. Would you say that being a good cook helps with eating well? Or can anyone rustle up healthy food? Any recommendations for busy people?

For many years I gave myself the title of a terrible cook. The idea of preparing meals for a whole family caused me great anxiety. I started taking an interest in recipes, various approaches to cooking and different ways of using ingredients. I realised that there was no great science or mystery, you did not have to be a “born” chef!

All that was needed was a little research, what food groups worked best with others, what were the best methods of cooking for certain ingredients. Because of my passion for nutrition and wellness I was drawn to natural, unprocessed, straight from the earth foods. Mostly plant-based. I loved the amount of flavour you could get from veg, seeds and grains. I now LOVE cooking, I get excited about new ideas, and I enjoy feeding the people around me!

So no, you don’t have to be a self-titled good cook, you just have to have a desire to understand what purpose these foods have within our bodies. Know their worth and goodness and you’ll be excited to get cooking!! For quick meals I’m big in to roasting veg, any sorts, throw it all on to a baking tray with coconut oil or rapeseed oil, season and bake! Or slow cook soups and stews, no time needs to be spent on the cooking time and there’s lovely warm meal waiting for you at the end of the day!

As a mum, like myself, how do you go about keeping your little people active? Any top tips for getting families up and out? And especially through the colder months when we are inclined to stay indoors more?

Kids are full of energy when it suits them, they take small intervals of hyperactivity, when they’re playing and having fun, but they also love to vegetate just like us. I find it a struggle to get my 7- year old to be active on my request, they’re very spontaneous little individuals, so at times I find I have to go with the flow. Obviously getting raincoats and wellies on and getting out for a play is wonderful, or park time and biking. But when they’re not in the mood, they can’t be forced. So house games like building forts and bridges with pillows, or ships with the sofa, all of these fun creative games keep them active and using up energy without them even realising.

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I find that making time for exercise helps me stay more focused in my work and my mental health is much better when I’m active. In your own experience do you see a link between physical exercise and mental wellbeing?

Absolutely, for me it’s about having space to think, to have some control over my body and stretch its capabilities. I enjoy pushing myself hard, feeling tired and well worked, but that’s not always necessary, activity can also be slow and controlled, invigorating but not intense. It’s so nice to get a mixture of that in your life. It’s be proven that endorphins are released into our blood stream during and after exercise, so when the body or mind are feeling low and depressed, these natural chemicals in the body, lift and energise us into a more positive physical and mental state. So many of my Tribal girls train because of how much better they feel emotionally, not because of wanting to look better, that is of course a bonus, but taking care of our mental health is so important.

The word ‘bootcamp’ might fill some people with fear. I know tribal isn’t scary, but if someone was feeling a little unsure about attending a session, maybe because they think they’re too unfit, how would you encourage them?

I’d say Tribal is a place where you will be looked after. It’s so important to me that my clients feel welcomed and encouraged. I don’t believe in tough encouragement, having been an athlete since very young, I know how hard it is to just motivate yourself to be there and to train. So having someone there who will focus on your strengths and not your weaknesses is so important. A client once said I help women find their inner athlete, and I really loved that. Fitness is for EVERYONE. It’s certainly not just for people who are already fit. It’s particularly for the people at the start of their fitness journey.

There’s nothing more amazing than watching and supporting people through the various barriers they have faced til that point when they decide, enough is enough, time to take back some control and invest in this body they were given.

Exercise, and eating well are one thing, but how important would you say it is to find time to relax and unwind… how do you personally ‘unwind’?

Time to relax is SO IMPORTANT. Life is to be enjoyed and with the amount of responsibilities in people’s lives, relaxation comes way down the list. That’s so unfortunate and really just paves the way for burnout.

One thing I do notice is the methods in which people use to “relax”, that sadly become detrimental to a negative cycle they find themselves in, we are all guilty of these at times e.g. buy in loads of chocolate and crisps with a movie, and relax. Have a full bottle of red wine to yourself, and relax. Go out to the cinema but buy warm cheesy nachos, diet coke and Minstrals, and relax.

See how there’s a common theme of rubbish foods and drinks being the tool which people associate with relaxation?! Thus continuing a cycle of over eating, ill-health, negative self-confidence and increased anxiety, making it virtually impossible for people to really switch off and RELAX.

I, as well as being guilty to the above, also love to go for drives with a coffee and nice music and watch the world go by. Or write in my journal, again with good tunes. I really love to take a nap (hardly ever happens now, but I really love to find a little time to recharge).tribal 5

Cooking up a yummy meal from scratch and switching off the T.V to enjoy the flavours and a good natter with my other half.

Anything else you would like to add?

If you’ve been feeling for a while now that it’s time to get your priorities straight, time to focus on your health, your body, your nutrition and this blog has struck a chord, please don’t set your laptop to the side. Continue with that notion, take that first step. Either get in touch with us at Tribal and we will help you get started on this new amazing journey, or get in touch with any other fitness professional that’s right for you. You will know when you find a community where you fit, and where you can belong until you find your flow….

If you like the sound of Tribal Fitness you can contact Hollie at:

Navigating the road of self-doubt


As I child I wasn’t confident. I never put my hand up in school, even if I knew the answer. I cried when I had to recite my times tables in front of the class. I didn’t participate in any teams. I didn’t compete. I was just a quiet girl, happy writing my stories about horses on my typewriter, but secretly wishing I would put myself ‘out there’ a little bit more to achieve my dreams. I would have loved to have taken part in school plays and been part of the debating team (yep, geek alert!) and always wondered where people got their self-confidence from.

People who know me now may find it hard to believe that I was once a shy, self-doubting girl. Anyone who knows me now knows I like to talk (a lot! I’m just enthusiastic!). I am competitive and I love to try new things whenever I can! How did this change come about? On looking back I think there was a turning point but also a journey of gradual change.

When I gave birth to my first son I recall saying to a visitor who came to the hospital to see us that I felt as if I  could climb mount Everest. The birth had been gruelling and my body was definitely not in a fit state to climb a flight of stairs, never mind the world’s tallest mountain. However, what I meant was I felt empowered. I felt like I could do anything after that experience. I knew then and there that I had contributed something of value to the world in creating a new life and accompanying that was a sense of self-worth and self-belief.

Over the years I’ve also put myself forward in social situations when it hasn’t always been natural for me to do so. I have challenged myself with 10k runs and fundraising for charity. I’ve done a creative writing course and now I’m doing my Open University degree. These things haven’t come easily to me. I’ve had to push myself.

So, anyway, the past few weeks have been frantic. I’ve been working extra days, had an assignment deadline to work to combined with all the usual busyness of family life. I am not unusual, this is the face of modern life for lots of us. There’s little down time and it is in the chaos that self-doubt begins to creep back into my mind.

A week or two ago I was really struggling. I had the deadline (even that word fills me with dread, so negative!), a lot of material to work through and I was suffering with vertigo. I felt as if I was standing in the middle of a forest that was packed tightly with tall trees. When I tilted my head back I couldn’t see daylight. It was dark. It was cold. And it was lonely. I wanted to curl up and hibernate, to wake up when the sun was warm and the days bright again. I had to find a way through.

I didn’t think I would get my assignment handed in on time and as I endeavoured to keep working on it my relationships were beginning to fracture. I was snappy at work, I tried not to make eye-contact with people at school pick-ups as I couldn’t be bothered with conversation. My kids went to dad instead of me as they could sense I was on the edge. My husband kept quiet, did the homeworks, made the packed lunches, put on the washing and told me I could do it when he saw me with my head on the kitchen table (again).

So, I write this blog post as a reminder to myself that although the road might be full of boulders, and slippery mudslides, and obstacles to climb, there is actually a way along it.

I am not a doctor or a psychologist, but I know what works for me when the going gets tough.

  1. Surround yourself with the right people.

People who are a positive force are invaluable – appreciate them! I am so lucky to have people who believe in me and my dreams when I don’t. Their words and their hugs keep me focused.

2. Exercise.

Might seem silly, but for me, exercise keeps my mind in a good place. Especially if the exercise is outdoors, preferably near the sea, or a river. I don’t know why! A short run, a boot camp session, a bike ride, whatever you like really! Getting out for some regular exercise helps me to put things into perspective.

3. Eat well.

We all know how important it is to eat well but making the right choices when you’re feeling low can be tough. Your body naturally craves the comforting sugar-filled foods but these just leave you feeling sluggish. Reach for energy rich foods and you’ll see a real difference.

4. Drink plenty.

Save the wine for the weekends! When I get dehydrated I get tired and confused. I try to keep a jug of water beside me at all times, whether at work or at home. I definitely notice a difference in my energy levels and concentration when I am drinking plenty of water.

5. Music.

What would the world be without music? Take time out from studies, or whatever it is that makes your day busy to listen to some of your favourite music. I like to use headphones so I am totally caught up in the music. My kids could be running riot, busy on some adventure or other that they’ve made up and I can watch them playing, but instead of hearing the screaming I get to see their game with a lovely soundtrack!

6. The rest can wait.

Sometimes, the washing won’t all get done (has any parent ever seen the bottom of a laundry basket?). Sometimes the floor will have crumbs on it (for days!). Sometimes, there will be dishes piled up beside the sink. That’s ok.

It’s ok to choose your priorities. Your mother in law might not think that writing a story takes precedence over washing the dishes, but if you do, that’s ok! You are on your own journey and guilt is never going to help you move forward. Accept that some things can just wait while you focus on what really matters to you.  I get so stressed out about mess and toys lying all over the house, but you know what, these things are a sign that I have a rich life. I have people in my life, my home is busy and that’s amazing.

7. Rest.

Getting enough sleep makes all the difference to my world-view. Things become slightly skewed, like the world has turned sideways, when I’m tired. Even taking time to just sit, drink a coffee and breathe, goes a long way in restoring energy levels. I am not good at slowing down, it’s in my nature to work. My parents were excellent role models of hard workers and I’ve always kept busy. But, I’m learning that sometimes a little rest, taking time to catch up with my own thoughts, helps me to live in the here and now and not to slip into survival mode.

8. Encourage others.

Remember you are not the only one trying to navigate their way through life’s ups and downs. Notice when other people do something well and make a point of telling them. Listen to what other people are passionate about and tell them to pursue their dreams. Being kind goes a long way and actually is very personally rewarding.

9. Ask for help.

It’s ok to admit when you are struggling. I don’t think asking for help should be viewed as sign of weakness. It takes courage to ask for help and support.

10. Make a list.

Lists are great for organising your life and your mind. Write a list of the things that you value, things you want to prioritise and keep coming back to it – remember your goals and make changes when you go off track!

Happy living!