If you were to look at your life through two words, yes and no, which one do you think is more dominant? When you hear the words, can you sense the different energies they convey?

 

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Yes. No.

Yes, to me, implies more. I equate it with abundance.

 

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No says stop. I don’t want it.

A person in the dizzy heights of orgasm is unlikely to yell ‘no no no’; and a woman who is birthing her baby has an altogether different experience of it when she says ‘yes’ to her body opening wide, and ‘yes’ to bringing her baby down through her vagina. YES.

Yes and no. Such powerful words. Indeed, they are life changing. Shall we do this? Do you want to try this? Can we go here? These are the direction signs on the road of life. How often do you think life changes are made on major decisions? The truth is, it’s actually the daily ‘yes and no’ choices which tilt our lives in certain ways.

 

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Have you ever had times where someone has asked you to do something, or you’ve felt obligated to follow a course of action that didn’t make your heart sing?

For me, one of the most important lessons I learned in life was that when I say ‘no’ to someone else, I am saying ‘yes’ to me. Of course, this doesn’t mean never helping anyone, but it does mean paying close attention to your heart and recognising your own worth.

I was thinking a lot about yes and no this morning, and how I’ll often say to my husband with glee: this is one of my favourite times of day! The truth is that I have many times in the course of my day that I consider ‘favourites’ for the simple reason that they are an expression of me saying YES.

 

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Yes is about opening up to life. Yes is a positive affirmation. Yes says ‘sure, no problem’. Yes is about certainty. Yes is the ultimate optimistic word.

My yeses in the day look like this:

That moment, when before I’ve even opened my eyes, the sweet sound of birdsong fills my heart and I am awakened to a gorgeous new day. Life awaits me.

The blessed moment when the Sun begins his rise over the Pennines.

When daylight arrives in my garden.

 

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And, on days like today when I awoke to the sound of rain, I said ‘yes’. Rain is beautiful. I associate it with nourishing the land, cleansing the air, and fertility.

Standing in the steaming hot shower, the characters from my novel chatting away in my head, the exquisite scent of lemon myrtle soap invigorates my senses. The shower is my sacred space, a psychic chamber where I am nourished by my deep love of hot water, privacy, and writing time (very little writing actually happens at the laptop!).

Sipping the green smoothie that my husband has made me while I’ve been in the shower is another ‘yes’.

Driving my daughter to school en route to the gym, and us singing out loud together (sure am going to miss that when she leaves for university in three months and three weeks).

Now, here’s the honest truth: the gym is not my natural habitat. I’m no gym babe. Me and my ricotta belly, which does an excellent job of disguising my ab muscles, don’t go anywhere near skin-tight lycra. I can’t stand the smell of the men in the gym, as their sweat reeks of protein shakes and garlic and whatever else…[gag] (a lot of NOs in there, right?), but here’s what motivates me: my big fat YES. When I get on the treadmill, which in itself is boring, I either put on my ‘gym music’ playlist and exist in a world of ‘yes’ music, or I watch the morning breakfast news/magazine style chat show and enjoy various interviews. My feet know what to do, and they just get on with it. I nearly always find myself laughing or learning something new when I’m here. I spend between 10 and 30 minutes on the treadmill (walking quickly, not running) before going on the bike and then doing various weight-resistance exercises. The thing about exercise is that it gives you endorphins. Your body’s cells start to sing. My body says YES!

 

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When I arrive back home, there’s a huge YES waiting for me in the shape of my wonderful husband. Can’t wait to see him! He makes the most gorgeous coffee with decaff, rice milk, coconut oil (to help my metabolism) and a hint of maple syrup. I could just take this coffee to my writing room and get on with work, but I don’t. Paul and I sit down together, either in the lounge room or out in the sunshine, and we drink our cuppa in a leisurely fashion. It is, indeed, one of my favourite times of the day.

 

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By now, a good chunk of the morning has gone, and it’s time for me to work on a book, or write a ceremony or prepare a client’s astrology chart.

 

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I adore my work, and I never come to it thinking: I hate Mondays, or I hate my job, or any other such NOs. My three careers (writer/celebrant/astrologer) are all founded on a beautiful, love-filled, soul-infused YES, and such a deep gratitude to have found my callings in life.

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I’m bound to need a pee break. I head downstairs, and find myself lured out into the sunshine. Now, being skilled at listening to my YES, where possible I take my work outside. Any sort of editing, for example, can be done in the garden. I spend a few minutes pottering about outside, absorbing the sunshine, admiring fruit blossoms, marvelling at bumble bees. These stolen yeses nourish me.

There may be washing to hang on the line. This is my favourite household chore.

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Work calls to me, and I say YES.

At some point, Paul and I realise it’s time for lunch. One or other of us prepares something nourishing, and on days like today, we’ll eat out in the sunshine. YES YES YES. Indeed, hot sunshine is one of my ultimate YES times.

Lunch isn’t rushed, but savoured and enjoyed. Afterwards, I’ll check on messages from friends and my children, and address any important emails, before continuing with writing for the afternoon.

Another big yes for me is when my daughter comes home from school, and we sit and chat about her day. I love this time, the three of us sharing what’s happened, and laughing. YES.

By now, I’m having to put my chef hat on and think about dinner. Generally, I love cooking (if I’m not rushed, and just coming in the door). Eating a plant-based diet, and cooking meals from scratch, puts me in touch with the food I eat in a meaningful way. YES. And then, together with my family, we sit together and eat. YES.

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By late evening, I am still hearing YES. I listen to my weary body, and get ready for sleep. At the moment, there are scented stocks in a vase by my side of the bed. YES! And here, lying in bed, cuddling with my darling, breathing in the scent of his skin, listening to his breath, and chatting about things, is one of my other favourite times of the day. I always look forward to it, and hold it as sacred.

 

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I am greedy for this glorious thing we call life. Following my ‘yes’ satiates that yearning.

And then, as I begin drifting off to sleep, I give thanks. It is a profound and heart-felt thanks for all the yeses in my day. I am raised, and I am lifted to great heights, because I have allowed my heart to follow the road pointing to YES. The sacred yes.

#creatingabeautifullife
www.veronikarobinson.com

Anyone who knows me well is aware that the first song Paul ever sang to me was If Tomorrow Never Comes (the Garth Brooks version). To this day I can’t hear the song (especially if it’s Paul singing) without tears in my eyes.

If Tomorrow Never Comes…will she know how much I loved her?

 

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This song is a beautiful reminder, if one is needed, that all we have is today. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m the Queen of having projects on the go, and writing to-do lists, but that’s because my Capricorn nature is founded on having a goal. The goat wants to climb to the mountain top. We Cappies need little things to work towards. But I also know without doubt that whether I actually achieve these is irrelevant. What’s important is this moment. This is always where the point of power rests, and is where our greatest joys are to be found.

 

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If tomorrow never comes, my lists and plans won’t matter. If tomorrow never comes, you can be sure: Yes, I did know how much he loved me. I also know that the incredible magic that exists in today is so positive and meaningful, but if we live our lives without seeing the abundance at our feet we end up missing out on the whole point of our existence.

 

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So, today, think about this: If tomorrow never comes, does your partner/best friend/child/mother/co-worker know what they mean to you? How about your mechanic or accountant, or what about the friendly person at the petrol station who is always singing a song when you come by?

 

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If tomorrow never comes, can you say that you’ve lived according to your heart?

If tomorrow never comes, did you leave this world a better place, whether by a smile or a kind deed?

And most importantly, if tomorrow never comes, what might you do differently today?

 

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I was beyond delighted yesterday to be sent this link: http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/5-cookbooks-that-have-inspired-peace-and-parsnips-author-lee-watson

 

 

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Author Lee Watson (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Peace-Parsnips-Vegan-Cooking-Everyone/dp/071817951X?ie=UTF8&tag=prh10143-21) has chosen my recipe book, The Mystic Cookfire, amongst the five books which have inspired his own cookbook called Peace and Parsnips.

This is what he wrote:

The Mystic Cookfire – Veronika Sophia Robinson

This is one of my partner Jane’s favourite cookbooks. It was a tough choice as there are so many amazing vegan chefs out there writing brilliant books; Aine Carlin, Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Angela Liddon to name but a few, but my cooking influences come from all sorts of angles.

The Mystic Cookfire is beautifully written with an open heart and lovely illustrations. It’s the rare kind of cookbook that you could quite happily read like a novel, tucked up in bed, with some hot chocolate. On the rare occasion that I have a day off playing with pots and pans, this is Jane’s go to cookbook, we eat from the ‘Mystic Cookfire’ (what a name!!).

I love eating food with soul, something so intangible, but you know the kind of food I’m talking about. Home cooked happiness! These recipes are simple, plant-based and nourishing; the kind of food that can make a house a home, dishes that will become family staples for years to come.

This book also focuses on the deeper relevance of food and cooking. How it is much more than just throwing some ingredients together. Cooking can be a daily routine that accentuates the lives of cooks, families and loved ones.

I’m a sucker for a good quote and this book is packed with amusing and informative references and quotes. Good cooking for me comes from a place deeper than just sound technique. There has to be some love in the mix!

 

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If you’ve not got a copy, and would like one, signed ones can be bought from my website www.veronikarobinson.com or from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mystic-Cookfire-Creating-Nurture-Friends/dp/0956034446?tag=prh11181-21

The timing of this really made me smile: It’s National Vegetarian Week, and I’m in the process of editing my second cookbook, Love From My Kitchen.

Have you taken part in NVW16? If so, what vegetarian meals have you been cooking?

Love, Veronika xxx

 

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My mother was the first person to teach my daughters, Beth and Eliza, about eating dandelion leaves.

To my eyes, dandelions are beautiful: first, with their bright yellow flowers, and then with their fluffy ball-like seed tops which beg me to blow them off with a wish.

 

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that beautiful happy face!

In the early years of mothering, I would take my daughters out for our daily walk around the block (about three miles around the farmers’ fields), and we’d sing a song called Dandelion, Yellow As Gold.

I would sing:
O dandelion, yellow as gold
What do you do all day?

And then Beth & Eliza would sing:
I just wait here in the tall green grass till the children come to play.

Me:
O dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?

Beth & Eliza:
I wait and wait till the cool dews fall and my hair grows long and white.

Me:
And what do you do when your hair is white, and the children come to play?

Beth and Eliza:
They take me up in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away.

 

They never tired of our vocal trio, and indeed, the dandelion song was the soundtrack to their early childhood. (It is from a book called Sing Through the Day. The song was written by Noreen Bath).

Dandelions are cursed by those who cultivate manicured lawns, and by farmers. They’re sprayed, pulled and trodden on. Millions of people, worldwide, use Monsanto’s toxic Roundup to kill something they consider a weed.
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/09/monsanto-roundup-herbicide.aspx

Why do I love dandelions? Apart from their obvious beauty, there is something about their tenacity that makes me smile. That persistence in growing through asphalt, and finding the light, is deeply inspiring. What a life force! And here’s what really makes me laugh: no matter how often people rip those plants up, or knock ‘em down with toxic products, they come back year after year. Do you think they’re trying to tell us something?

Maligned and unappreciated by many, dandelions have so much to offer us.

Imagine if Wordsworth had written about dandelions rather than daffodils? Perhaps we wouldn’t be poisoning our gardens!

 

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My garden is a reflection of me. A bit wild.

 

 

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Clearing the vegetable beds after Winter.

 

 

 

I see similarities between myself and a dandelion: I have been a source of food, medicine, nourishment, wisdom and strength. My hands-on mothering days are coming to an end, as my younger daughter leaves for university in three months and 26 days.

 

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Eliza Serena Robinson

 

 

Reflecting on this, I am reminded that dandelions have been my teacher: they’ve shown me that I have put down roots, and even when the culture around me had completely different values, I continued to grow. I mothered from an intuitive place, and learnt from watching my children play and live free from formal education. Dandelions have also taught me the importance of being adaptable to changing circumstances.

Like my garden, my wild mothering heart is a place that’s overgrown, and the paths have to be navigated through thick, so-called weeds. It was always in my blood to mother from this fertile ground. Dandelions have shown me that I can be a woman and live with beauty in this world, even when the culture tries to trample me down. I stand tall, and continue to do my work both as a mother and in my career.

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Enjoying sunrise in my garden

 

Dandelions always have a home here in my garden, and are amongst the first flowers in Spring that bees can rely on as a source of food.

I rejoice at this time of the year to see fields, verges and, indeed, my lawn, bustling with these happy yellow faces. I don’t see dandelions as evil and pesky weeds. Quite the opposite. They’re welcome in my garden for their beauty alone. But did you know that their leaves are highly nutritious, their flowers are also edible, and their roots make a wonderful caffeine-free coffee?

Dandelion greens have found their way into my fresh juices, salads, and even steamed with other vegetables. Medicinally, they’re brilliant for treating gall-bladder and liver complaints. The bitter leaves are an excellent tonic. Ideal for treating skin issues, such as acne or eczema, dandelion is excellent for purifying the blood. The dandelion is rich in nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, Vitamins A & C.

Daffodils, gorgeous as they are Mr Wordsworth, have inedible bulbs and let’s face it, no one ever told the time using them. But dandelions, oh beautiful dandelions, can be used from root to flower.

NOTE: Do not pick dandelion greens from a roadside, near railway lines or telegraph poles (due to toxic car fumes and weedkiller).

 

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oh how I love to rest amongst the daisies and dandelions

 

In my book, The Mystic Cookfire, you can find a recipe for dandelion fritters.  You can buy a signed copy here: https://www.veronikarobinson.com/author/non-fiction.shtml

 

My upcoming book, Love From My Kitchen, has more dandelion recipes: gluten-free bread; pesto, jam, coffee and a tart.

Now, sing along with me:
O dandelion, yellow as gold
What do you do all day?

 

Love, Veronika xx  #creatingabeautifullife

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When I’m asked what I mean by ‘creating a beautiful life’, the answer is simple: infuse each day with beautiful experiences. Let yourself be nourished at every level: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

 

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. Oh how I love sunshine! After seventeen years living in the north of England, my being still hankers for a good dose of strong Aussie sunshine. Regardless, I make sure I get sunlight where I can. We need the light for our happiness and our health. It’s not enough to have it streaming in through a window. Even on cool or cloudy days, do try and get yourself outside.

 

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. Flowers bring instant beauty into the environment. Whether they’re wildflowers you’ve gathered from the roadside, some blossom from your garden, or a bouquet made by your local florist, allow their scents and colours to adorn your home. This level of beauty speaks to us every time we pass by, even if we’re not consciously taking them in. If you’d rather not cut flowers, enjoy them in situ and take the time to really absorb their beauty.

 

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. Food isn’t just about sustenance; it’s designed to be pleasurable. Two of my favourite places to eat in my local town of Penrith (Greenwheat Florist and Café, and The Yard Kitchen) always leave me feeling sated.

At lunchtime today, I was eating some leftover chickpea and cranberry curry from last night’s dinner. Why does curry always taste even better the next day? I was aware that I was making food noises. Ever heard the term foodgasm? Yep, that’s me. If I enjoy a meal, I find it hard to suppress my experience of it. It’s not just the taste, though. Aroma, texture and memory play a huge part. Cinnamon always has me right back in my mother’s kitchen.

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. Love is a basic human need. With it, we flourish. We’re nourished at our deepest level. Without it, we wither.

LOVE YOURSELF. This is the most important relationship you can ever have. With great self love, loneliness isn’t possible. With tender loving care of our self, our inner world becomes a rich and vibrant landscape that is a constant source of nourishment. We become self contained in the most beautiful way.

You can develop the art of love, tenderness and kindness by taking care of a pet or plant.

 

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. It is said that we become like the five people we hang out with the most. Take a look at the people with whom you spend a lot of time. What does that say about you? Are they loving, compassionate, kind, joyful, humorous, grateful, loving, focussed, passionate, mindful? Maybe they’re gossips, cruel, spiteful, self-centred, fearful, angry, inconsiderate. Consider why they are in your orbit.

. If you spend time on Facebook, how does your newsfeed make you feel? Are you nourished or irritated? Does it feed you in ways which are inspiring, or does it bring you down? Every thought we think shapes our future.

. Music is a unique language, which crosses all cultures. It has the ability to soothe, nourish, engender fear (think tribal drumbeats, and the countdown to the news), haunt the soul, and make us happy. Choose your music like you choose your friends: carefully. Allow music to be part of your daily life.

. Reading provides food for the mind. Find a writer whose work you enjoy, and allow yourself the pleasure of unwinding or being inspired by their books, blogs or articles.

 

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. I am not a gym babe. Not by any stretch. However, you can find me there most days of the week doing weight-resistance exercises and some cardio. I also love to swim and do aquafit. My favourite exercise of all is a solitary walk through woodland.

 

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Exercise boosts our endorphins, and endorphins make us happy. Go for a walk. Take a run. Ride a bike. Go dancing. Move your butt. Exercise isn’t just for the body, it’s brain food too. It creates space from the rest of our life.

. Create space for quiet and stillness. To me, this is the heartbeat of a beautiful life. Whole worlds exist in these places.

 

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. Beauty may come through flowers, food, friendships, and what we read. It may be a starry sky, or woodland walk. Beauty may be that dandelion pushing its way through concrete, or sunlight peaking around dreary clouds. Maybe it’s making love at sunrise on a lazy Sunday morning. Perhaps it’s the first smile of an infant, or a snowdrop coming into blossom. Beauty is all around us, if only we look. It is with us every step of the way. For many people, it’s easy to be blinded because we’re so busy racing to something less nourishing. Slow down.

 

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. When we live with integrity (meaning what we say, and saying what we mean), everything in our life changes: relationships, jobs, income, home, health. In short, it’s about acting authentically even (and especially) when no one is looking.

. There is beauty in simplicity. How easy is it to fill our lives up with things, people and activities? When we strive to simplify our lives, everything takes on more meaning. The world does, indeed, look beautiful.

. For me, the most vital aspect to creating a beautiful life lies in the art of gratitude.

Saying thank you

throughout the day

is enlivening, humbling, and life changing.

 

There is no higher vibration. Some people spend their days looking over the fence and being envious of other people’s apparently perfect lives. Resist the temptation. The grass is always greener where we water it. Focus on what is important to you. Create love, beauty and joy by noticing those colourful wildflowers growing at your feet.

#creatingabeautifullife

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When my younger daughter was three, she asked me “What’s at the end of forever?” It’s the sort of question that makes you realise mothering is not going to be a piece of cake! Most of her questions were of that ilk.

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My teenage years were spent with my nose inside Mills & Boon romance novels living vicariously through women courted by Mr Right. Sure beat biology classes, anyway. I have long believed in happily ever after. It’s not a myth. But, like “what’s at the end of forever?”, it may not be easy to answer.

My marriage to a good man certainly feels like ‘happily ever after’ but the reality is that at some point one or other of us will be saying farewell when our beloved leaves this Earth. The love, however, will continue throughout eternity. Of that, I’m certain.

Whatever it is that we’re seeking when we search out a soulmate isn’t just about how good a person is between the sheets or how good they will look in a wedding dress, but it is absolutely about how they feel in our heart. The best way to choose if someone is right for you is with your eyes closed. There’s nothing wrong with physical attraction and chemistry, but it’s the icing NOT the cake. True love that lasts through the years is about something deeper; something which transcends the physical.

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When I write love stories they may well have a happily ever after, but what I’m really writing is ‘I’ll leave you happy for now’. That’s not to say that happiness can’t be ongoing, but the only thing we ever have is now. I wish for my characters a Happily Now. And I wish that for myself. I wish that for you.

 

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How do we create happiness in our daily lives? Isn’t it just a by-product of some external activity or experience? Something that ebbs and flows like the tides?

For me, happiness isn’t necessarily walking about with a smile on my face (though that is lovely), but about an inner contentment. It’s about savouring the small pleasures of life, and ensuring I meet my sensorial needs each day. It is about awakening my senses and experiencing pleasure. These are never about the future, but the present moment. As I type, birds sing beautifully in the trees outside. Why would I wish that for ten or fifty years from now? HERE, today, right now, is where I am experiencing their joy. Birdsong becomes my joy.

 

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Tulips on my windowsill make my heart sing. Now, not in the future.

I sip spring water from my glass. Now, not in twenty years.

Chatting with friends isn’t something I dream about years down the road. I engage and cherish the experience now.

I smile when I open an email from a grateful reader. Now, not in some distant future.

Confession: over the years I’ve spent a small fortune on psychics and fortune tellers. What’s interesting is that I have come to a solid and secure place in my life where I recognise that I CREATE my future by what I think and feel today. And this goes for all of us. No one’s future is set in stone. We are the masters of our own Fate.

No one puts the thoughts into our heads but us. We choose them. We can filter them. Weed them out. Plant new thoughts. As gardeners of the mind, we have the power to transform our lives one thought at a time. This isn’t about being the archetypal Pollyanna so much as holding a state of grace and gratitude.

If you’re searching for a happily ever after, start here. What are your prevailing thoughts? What way does the wind blow your feelings? What are you most grateful for? Being mindful of how and when and why you are grateful is the best fortune teller of all. The more your heart expands with joy and gratitude, the bigger and brighter your life.

Start where you are: the roof over your head. The food on your plate. The company you keep. A grateful heart is a happy heart.

 

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Veronika Robinson is the author of about seventeen books (she’s lost count!). Her most recent publication is I Create My Day: simple ways to create a beautiful and nourishing life. Signed copies from https://www.veronikarobinson.com/author/non-fiction.shtml

Discover the path of spiritual grace. I Create My Day is a sacred journey into the heart of attitudinal healing, and invites you to create the life of your dreams one day at a time. Regardless of how you currently experience the world, this book promises to show how you can create a magnificent life that is nourishing, beautiful and authentic. At the heart of a handcrafted life is a spirit of reverence, gratitude and grace. By including the simple ideas in this book as part of your every day, you will witness your life unfold in ways that are miraculous, meaningful and, always, from the heart. Creating your day is one of the greatest spiritual decisions you can make.

Or available from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Create-My-Day-Beautiful-Nourishing/dp/0993158625/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459266654&sr=8-1&keywords=I+Create+My+Day

You can also ask your local library or bookshop to stock copies.

 

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In my last blog, The Cosmic Kitchen, I wrote about putting your order in to the Universe as if you were placing an order with a chef. This isn’t just about ‘things’ to acquire, but also state of mind, health, wellbeing and so on.

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Thoughts have wings…

If you’re sceptical about the idea of ‘change your thoughts, change your life’, then I urge you to start a manifestation journal. This is a notebook of any size where you write down (daily, but ideally twice a day) what you’d like to manifest in your life. Don’t go writing £20 000 000 on lotto. Go for something your mind can relate to (for now!).

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Always keep a notebook handy

It might be material things like a new TV or pair of shoes. It might be to heal an underlying health condition. It might be to improve your marriage. Maybe you want to manifest the time and energy to exercise five times a week? Write it down. Let yourself have dreams, goals, ambitions and plans. Don’t, for one second, think you’re not worthy of having pleasure, time, abundance and excellent health.

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Focus clearly on five to ten things, and write these down each day (in the present tense). I have…or I am…(healthy, happy, fit, toned etc.)

Date your list. From time to time, go back to the front of your journal and work your way through, crossing things off your list that you’ve manifested. And write the words THANK YOU next to each one.

I guarantee you that the more you focus on creating the life you want, the more rapidly and easily it will manifest into your life. The next time someone asks you “What would you like for Christmas/birthday?” answer: a spiral notepad and pen. YOU, and you alone, are the author of your life. Get writing.

The kitchen, that sacred space where we prepare food to share with and nurture friends and family, has long been part of domesticated human culture.

 

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It’s a grey, wet day here in Cumbria. In my oven is a delicious bread, free of flour and yeast, but based instead on seeds and nuts and psyllium husk powder.

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A glass bowl sits on the bench, with black beans soaking for dinner. I still haven’t decided what to do with them. They might become a Latin stew, or bean and sweet potato burgers. Maybe they’ll become a bean loaf or black-bean minestrone. I have no doubt the inspiration will come to me as the day unfolds gently before me.

 

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The kettle has boiled, and I steep peppermint tea. The aroma fills the room and my heart melts as I listen to the classical music station play Pachabel’s Canon.

As a writer, many inspirational ideas come to me as I potter about in the kitchen. For some reason, my intuition kicks in and my mind is more receptive.

My teenage daughter has just made the most scrumptious lunch: chickpeas in a mashed base of sweet potato and dill on brown rice noodles.

For me, the kitchen is a place of visible sacred ceremony. It is here I come to honour and give reverence to the Earth and Sun and Moon for growing the plants which I’ll eat. Lovingly, I prepare my fruits and vegetables to feed my family. The kitchen is, for me, a play space, a work room, and a devotional altar to all that is good in this life.

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Veronika is the author of the popular recipe book: The Mystic Cookfire, the sacred art of creating food for friends and family (published by Starflower Press). She is currently writing Love From My Kitchen (more delicious plant-based recipes!), soon to be published by Starflower Press.

If you’re new to the idea of celebrating Samhain, in the sense of honouring our ancestresses in a gentle, holistic way, rather than buying into the ghoulish commercial hype of fear-based Halloween, why not incorporate these simple ideas.

My favourite way is simply to take a walk in Nature. Here, all around us, is the story of birth, life, death. Nature returns unto herself. The leaves will once again become part of the soil from which they first originated as a tiny seed sprouting.

Breathe in the crisp, cool air. Smell woodsmoke. Listen to the sounds as your feet walk upon the leaves. What can you hear? How do you feel?

A Samhain Altar is a beautiful way to adorn your home with gifts from Nature. There are the obvious things like pumpkins, apples and corn, but you can also add acorns, plump rosehips and other gifts from your walk.

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You could make a wreath for hanging over the hearth or at your front door.

Use plant-based or beeswax candles to bring light to the dark nights.

Collect photographs, memorabilia and heirlooms from your ancestors and ancestresses. You might like to include fresh rosemary stems to symbolise ‘remembrance’. I collect fresh rosemary from the garden, but also sprinkle the altar with essential oil of rosemary.

Light candles.

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Stand with reverence before your ancestors. Say their names out loud. Express gratitude for their part in your life. The veil is thin at this time of the year. Stop and listen to the messages of loved ones who have passed over, whether or not you know their names.

When creating your dinner, leave a place for them.

This is the end of the earth-based year. Give thanks for all that has gone before. When reflecting on the past 12 months, what can you take from it as you move forward?

Declutter and let go of what you no longer need from your home. Release. Learn from Mother Nature. Let go. Start afresh. This is the time of transformation. Embrace it.

Create a phoenix ceremony. If you have space outdoors, create a bonfire or small fire in a fire pit/cauldron. Write down anything negative that you wish to leave your life. Throw this in the fire and see it being released. Let go. Move forward.

 

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I love this time of the year for divination, and gather around me my many different divination cards as I seek guidance and affirmation for the months ahead.

The only way to counteract all the negativity brought into the world by false stereotypes around Halloween, is to be more visible in your expression of earth-based spirituality.

For as long as humans have walked this earth, I have no doubt they have created ceremonial spaces which included an altar. Many people in the modern world probably associate an altar as the front table in a Christian church. Others, still, consider an altar to be some sort of weird spooky tool used by bad-ass witches and others who wish to sacrifice something to a deity.

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As a white witch (you know, the good sort), and celebrant, I see and use an altar as a sacred space: a focal point for my daily life, or for a specific ceremony or ritual. If I was officiating a ceremony for someone, there would be an altar involved. This defined space features items which would have meaning to the person, or items symbolic of the event they are honouring.

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An altar may be used to honour your ancestors and ancestresses, or it may be as a way to focus on improving your health.

It may be because you’re pregnant and using it to visualise an ecstatic birth.

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Your altar may be a general one for a beautiful life.

For three years after my father was killed in a car accident, I had an altar with his photo and items that were significant to him. Each time I passed this altar, I would bow my head and say ‘hello’ to my dad. I do believe it was a vital part of navigating the murky world of grief, and deeply healing. It allowed me to hold him close while at the same time letting him go.

An altar may be created in your garden as a way of honouring Mother Earth.

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How about an altar in the kitchen? This can become a focus for divine energies to infuse your cooking with love, devotion and care.

My altars generally feature the four elements: earth, fire, water and air.

Earth can literally be dirt, or items gathered from nature such as crystals and gemstones. Or it may include items grown from the earth.
Fire is generally a candle, though it can be an incense stick or even a picture of fire.
Water can be contained in a vase with flowers, or perhaps a small bowl.
Air can be signified by a feather.

The beauty of an altar is that it is unique to the person who creates it, and is an expression of their inner vision. It can be as small as the tiniest shelf or nook, and as wide as the beach.

 

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