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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Monday, 31 March 2014

THE greatest gift EVER

I received the greatest gift ever yesterday for Mother's Day from my children. It surpassed anything that could be found on my amazon wish list. 
If you are ever stuck for a gift idea I highly recommend you give this to your loved ones. 
The gift is time.
I don't know whether it's getting older or having a well established mindfulness practice but I appreciate every second of life in a way that I never used to. It is cliched to say "life is short, make the most of it", but developing a chronic health condition in my 30's really bought this home to me. Things that I used to take for granted I now look upon with awe and wonder.
Human beings are amazingly resilient as we navigate our way though our wonderfully unpredictable lives. It is phenomenal what we can achieve with positive thinking and gratitude.
I hope I have instilled in my children to cherish life and to never put off the things they want to do for a later date. Seeing their mum become a wheelchair user bought it home to them there is not always a later.
Happiness is a choice, and one I consciously choose every day. We had much laughter yesterday and created some special memories. Now you can't gift wrap that.
I share the poem below from J.R.R. Tolkien. Time, make the most of it, when it's gone you can never get it back.
“I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair
I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring 
That I shall ever see
For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green
I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know
But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet 
And voices at the door.” 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Philosophy on the farm


"Beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost".
The teachers at my youngest son's school were on strike today so we made the most of our unexpected day together with a trip to the farm.
There was a maze which my son dashed into joyfully without any hesitation. By the time I had reached the entrance I could see his hands triumphantly waving at me above the hedges from the middle.
When he made his way back to me I asked him if he had been scared on his own not knowing the way. "Of course not" he explained, "I knew that even if I took the wrong path I would still end up where I was meant to be".
In life we can sometimes get too caught up in where we think we should be heading and how we think we should get there. Then, if we don't get to where we wanted to be we can feel regretful and look back wondering what we could have done differently. This can be a great source of sadness.
There are no wrong paths. Opportunities are always present, even if they are not the ones we are looking for, and we can sometimes be so focused on what we think we want we don't see them.
The next time I feel I have gone astray I will remember today and the trust of a young child that he would end up where he needed to be, after all beautiful paths cannot be discovered without getting lost. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Brussels sprouts chips

Granted, brussel sprout chips may be a tad more fiddly to make than kale chips but I much prefer the taste so to me these are worth the extra effort. My children love them too.
To prepare chop the bottom of the sprout and gently peel off the leaves (chopping more off the bottom when you need to). I always save the centres for my next meal.
Wash the leaves well and place in a bowl and add your preferred choice of topping. Traditionally most people use olive oil and sea salt which is delicious, but I don't like to overheat olive oil so I use coconut oil and cumin. Give the leaves a good mix with your hands making sure they all are well coated and place in a thin layer on a tray.
Bake in a moderate oven for 7-10 minutes until they start to go brown (don't worry if some leave go brown, they won't have the bitterness of overcooked kale). Remove from heat and in a few minutes they turn crispy. Best eaten straight away.
Play around with different flavours and let me know what works for you.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pick yourself up, dust off and start all over again


"Pick yourself up, dust off and start all over again". Frank Sinatra 
I heard an interesting conversation on the radio this morning about lent when the presenter stated he believed the purpose of lent was to fail and learn some humility. 
I don't have the religious knowledge to pass comment on this but it did get me thinking about failure.
Failure can be construed as a negative word but it always brings with it a chance to reflect and refocus and try again. Having the patience  and self-belief to never give up on your dreams is what drives many people to success. 
Walt Disney was once sacked by a newspaper editor as "he had no imagination and lacked good ideas".  Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was 'too stupid to learn anything', but that didn't put him off, he tried 1000 times to invent the lightbulb before he got it right. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her reporting job as she was deemed "unfit for tv". Fred Astaire was told he 'couldn't act, couldn't sing and could only dance a little".
Next time you are feeling demoralised play this song and start all over again.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Will Smith, Another Earth - A Mindful Movie


“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future". Will Smith

I watched Another Earth last night with my husband. Not a huge fan of sci-fi films I wasn't expecting to enjoy it but with a big batch of homemade salsa and some tortillas I was prepared to give it a go.
What I wasn't expecting was the touching and sensitively covered development of the father and son relationship between Cypher (Will Smith) and his son Katai (Jaden Smith). Cypher blames Katai for a past event and battles with acceptance, forgiveness and moving forward. There is a lot of underlying anger, resentment and guilt under the surface but I won't spoil the movie and tell you how that works out. 
Cypher has to coach Katai in ways to face his fears using the same techniques I teach in mindfulness. Katai is encouraged to step into the moment using all five senses to notice his external and internal surroundings. Noticing what you can feel, hear, see, touch, to focusing on breath really does help you step out of fight or flight anxiety and ground you in the here and now.
Will Smith makes a great speech in the movie  “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present, and may not ever, exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.We are all telling ourselves a story."
If fellow movie goers take just one thing away from this movie I hope it's that fear is a choice. What do you choose?

Monday, 10 March 2014

When opportunity knocks, do you have to answer?


“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” Josh Billings
Recently I have had an amazing opportunity pretty much fall into my lap and when the door of opportunity opens, you should jump through before it swings shut again right? Well, no. In my case it was more tentatively shuffling through with my hands over my eyes, not convinced it was the right thing at all.
I gained some clarity today whilst talking it through with my teacher and mentor Shamash Alidina. "Saying no to something", he wisely told me, "is saying yes to something else. If you don't take this one, other opportunities will come".
Of course it can be scary turning down a surefire thing (especially financially) but I had momentarily lost sight of one of the Dalai Lama's 18 rules for living, the 3 R's.
Respect of self. Respect for others. Responsibility for all your actions.
As grateful as I am for this opportunity, and no matter how many people tell me I am lucky and should go for it, I know in my heart it is not the right thing for me.
So, I am honouring myself, and all involved in saying no and I trust that there will be other, exciting things ahead if I remain open and true to myself.
If find yourself in a similar situation trust your instincts, they won't guide you wrong.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Quit quitting


“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Thomas Edison
The conversation around our dinner table last night was centred around Lent, something my youngest son had learnt about at school that day. "I don't know what to give up", he pondered. "I'm going to quit quitting", chipped in my teenage son in jest. My youngest son however thought this was a great idea. He went on to tell us about a project they were working on at school about inventors, specifically covering James Dyson, created of the Dyson vacuum. So I learnt last night that James made 5127 prototypes and had 14 years worth of debt before he created his vision.
Wow, I was blown away. I thought about some of the half started projects I have that I have deemed not to work and vowed to have another go. So in the words of my son I am going to have a little more faith and quit quitting before I have given things a really fair shot.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Make your own almond butter

Making your own almond butter is super easy, if a little time consuming, and best of all you know exactly what's in it. Almonds are a great source of  vitamin E, fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, manganese, calcium and potassium as well has essential fats. 
I use almond butter for many recipes but my kids enjoy spread onto toast and for dipping celery and apple into. Deliciously creamy, add it to your oatmeal or put into yoghurts or smoothies. 
I begin by lightly toasting almonds - I prefer the end flavour but this is not a necessary step.

Next place into a blender (use the metal blade) and switch on. Now depending on the blender you use this could take around 20 minutes so if you feel your blender may overheat switch off and give it a rest. I generally give mine a five minute break halfway through.
The mixture will being to look like breadcrumbs - you are on your way!
As the almonds release their oil the mixture begins to get creamy - using a plastic spatula gently push the mixture back to the bottom (you may need to do this several times).

When the mixture begins to clump together like a dough you are almost there - keep going!
It should end up beautifully creamy. Place in a jar in the fridge to set and enjoy.

Raw vegan brownies (only 4 ingredients)

These brownies are my go-to snack when I have my sweet tooth head on. With only 4 ingredients they are super quick to make and ready to eat in only 60 minutes. Oh and did I mention they are crazy good too?
I use medjool dates as they are extra sweet with a yummy caramel like taste.  A fantastic source of fibre they also contain potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese. Packed full of nutrients a regular addition of pecan nuts in the diet help decrease LDL "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL "good cholesterol" levels in the blood. The raw cacao powder is rich in antioxidants, EFAs along with other essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B and E, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium and manganese.
The liquid sweetener can be of your choosing. I did use Agave for this batch (I don't always) but you need to weigh up the high fructose content against the fact it is low glycemic sweetener; it's personal choice and I tend to regularly vary my ingredients. Maple syrup or honey would work just as well.
To make a big batch (you can half if you wish) take: 
8 oz pecans
10 oz medjool dates
3 tablespoons of cacao powder
2 tablespoons liquid sweetener 
Place nuts in a food processor and blend until they become crumbly. throw in the other ingredients and blend until it is well mixed and sticky. Place on a baking tray or silicon loaf tin and freeze until set (usually around 60 minutes). Store in the fridge.