gratitude, health, holistic health, kindness, ovarian cancer, positivity

Today I Rise Again

Today is a new day.

I rose today having felt what I was meant to feel, having seen what I was meant to see, having said what I was meant to say.

So many people ‘advised’ that I stop writing and that I focus on me. I know they meant this with the deepest kindness but writing ’is’ me focusing on me. It is my therapy, my release, my way of processing and feeling everything that is there to be felt.

I do not write for anyone else but myself – although, admittedly, it brings me so much joy to realise how my words have helped so many others.

I can’t help but wonder how different our world would be if someone had told Anne Frank to stop writing. I’m not suggesting I am anything like Anne Frank, a courageous young girl whom I have admired since first discovering her words when I myself too was only young, but I am suggesting that our stories are important, healing and essential. We must share our stories. We simply must.

I feel in a good place today, like I am emerging from something, like I am shedding an old version of myself and stepping forward into something new.

I sense change ahead, yes, but change isn’t necessarily bad and I find myself feeling a sense of excitement at this new adventure I find myself on.

I’ve been in worst places in the past four years since my diagnosis than I find myself in just now. There is, of course, one significant difference now. Now I don’t see chemotherapy as an option for me when the trial completely stops working (which it hasn’t, yet).

As I’ve written many times before, chemotherapy (and any treatment) is a very personal choice and I do not advocate for or against any options. But I do know that chemotherapy is not the right option for me. Not again. Not after 4 years ago. This is my inner guidance and I trust it profusely. Nothing and no one will ever change my mind.

So what are my options?

Just now, medically, it is to stay on the trial. It is to keep breathing in the gratitude that this wonderful cocktail of significantly less toxic drugs is doing something to slow down this disease (even if they can’t stop it completely).

But that is just the medical picture and, if I’ve learnt nothing else on this journey it is that the picture is bigger than what can and can’t be done in a hospital. There is so much more that can be done for my mind, body, spirit and soul.

So, yes, it is accurate when I say I am excited because I find myself wondering ‘what if there is another way?’

And that’s exactly what I intend to spend the next 16 weeks finding out.

Why 16 weeks? Because that is the length of time someone with ovarian cancer is on chemotherapy for…AND, more importantly, because 16 weeks today I plan to get my adventurous soul onto a plane to Bali where I plan to spend 4 weeks healing with my gorgeous husband…something that will only be possible if my lungs stay stable…so I’m excited…I have a focus, I have an aim and I have a shit load of passion.

It ain’t over and, as ever, I ain’t dead yet (motherf*ckers)

health, holistic health, ovarian cancer

The Necessary Grief of the Life Unlived

My cancer markers rose again.

Four months in a row.

Slowly rising, creeping upwards, no longer stable and far from dropping.

It’s not good news.

My treatment is no longer as effective. The trial I fought for is no longer holding things at bay. There is a crack in the dam. The dam is still there, yes, but it’s no longer as effective at holding the tide back from crushing me as it once was.

Was I naive to think that it would keep things at bay longer? Was I overly hopeful?

I thought I was realistic. I thought I had accepted and understood the odds, that I realised how lucky I was that it had worked for as long as it had. Yet my tears tonight tell a different story.

They show the hope that’s been lost, the fear, the anger, the sense of defeat in a battle I never even willingly engaged in.

And while it’s far from over (I am still on the trial treatment and it is still doing ‘something’ even if that isn’t as much as it once was) this rise marks a turn in events.

No longer do I feel like I have the upper hand. No longer do I feel in control. No longer do I feel like I have a grasp on what is coming next.

It’s the fear that hurts the most. The fear of more bad news, of more pain, of less options, of death.

It’s the fear of breaking other people’s hearts, of no longer being able to keep a brave face, of losing my sense of self to this insidious disease.

But most of all it’s the worry that I took the time I had for granted; so busy telling others to live like they are dying that I forgot to do it myself.

I’ve had many great adventures yes but did I love enough, did I laugh enough, did I open my heart to the deep vulnerability necessary for true connection?

I don’t know. But I plan to spend the rest of my days finding out and making sure.

Today marks a change, a shift. Tonight it feels painful. I feel deep sorrow and grief for the life I thought I was ‘supposed’ to have. Tomorrow I will welcome a new day, a new phase, a new beginning.

But, for now, I grieve.

health, holistic health, ovarian cancer, shamanism

Why I ‘Divorced’ My Cancer

On Friday night I held a shamanic ‘Cancer Divorce Ceremony’ on St Andrew’s West Sands Beach as I said farewell to my cancer. Not because my cancer has ‘gone’, far from it, but because I no longer want to be ‘married’ to the labels of my disease.
 
You see, I think many of us, unknowingly, become married to our cancer following a diagnosis. Very quickly we find ourselves in a co-dependent relationship with our disease, avoiding looking at aspects of our lives because we are using our cancer as an excuse to hold us back. I’ve been there too. I’ve done this and I speak from experience.
 
I believe, it is only once we ‘divorce’ and detach that we are able to say ‘who am I without this’ and ‘how has this relationship with cancer changed me, my values and my beliefs.’
 
I no longer want to ever use cancer as an excuse not to do my inner work, not to look at who I am and what needs to heal, not to show up in the world as my authentic self. So, I chose to divorce from it.
 
The ceremony itself was an energetic releasing of the ties to cancer. It was an acknowledging of all that it has brought me (good and bad) and all that it took away (also good and bad).
 
But it wasn’t just about me releasing the ties. It was about my loved ones doing the same too.
 
Each of us wrote a private letter to my cancer in which we expressed our farewell wishes. Some people expressed anger, some expressed gratitude, but ultimately, we were all saying goodbye.
 
None of the letters were read by anyone else, which meant that everyone was able to expre4ss their feelings in unfiltered, raw and open honesty. How often are we able to do that in life?
 
On the night I used shamanic rituals to open a space, calling in the four directions as well as inviting in guardians of the space in the form of the energy of loved ones other members of the circle had previously lost to cancer. I asked many of my shamanic friends to attend the ceremony and together we held a circle of energy for the ritual. I felt truly blessed to be joined by such incredible people.
 
There was music, drumming and chanting as the energy of the ritual built before we each took our turn to burn our letters on the fire and say our final goodbyes to cancer. Many of the group members had experienced cancer in their family lives too and their goodbyes went beyond my own cancer.
 
We also burnt the letters of my loved ones who were not at the ceremony too. In fact, over 30 letters were burnt on Friday night.
 
Everyone who wrote a letter mentioned how healing it was to acknowledge how my cancer has made them feel, to say the things they’ve longed to say, not to me, but to my disease.
 
This ceremony was an acknowledgment that it hasn’t just affected me, it has affected all of us.
 
I wanted to share with you all the letter that I wrote to my cancer. It’s not the whole letter. The whole one was nearly 4000 words. I’ve pasted it below. May it bring you peace and insight into the magic that can unfold when we open a conversation with our disease and with our limitations.
 
With love, Fi xx
 
—————-
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“Dear Cancer
 
I want to say that I’m just really angry with you but that would be a lie. In truth, anger is not all that I feel towards you. I am also unbelievably grateful to you too.
 
You see, you enabled me to leave the life that wasn’t serving me. Yes, I could have done it on my own but you and I both know that I wouldn’t have. I needed to get sick. I needed an excuse.
 
You gave me that and, in doing so, you enabled me to not feel guilty when I left that life behind and started to forge a new path in the world. You also enabled me to say no to doing things that I didn’t want to do. I didn’t have to say ‘no’ as such, instead I was able to say ‘no, because of cancer’. It meant that people weren’t angry with me when I said no to things. Instead they were angry with you. I hid behind you in so many ways. You gave me an excuse. I told people that you made me more authentic but, I realise now, that, in so many ways the opposite was true. You actually enabled me to be less authentic. You gave me a mask to hide behind.
 
So, saying goodbye to you is actually really hard because now I will have to do all these things for myself. I won’t have you to hide behind anymore and that’s really scary because, in reality, I’m often really fearful of what other people think and I am often terrible at setting boundaries. With you there I was able to act like I wasn’t but that’s only because people don’t care what you say or do when you have cancer. Well, it’s not that they don’t care but I certainly got away with a lot more while I was able to blame you. I realise now that I’ve been using you as my scape goat. That is so hard to admit but it’s the truth. I’m sorry about that.
 
But, because of you I have grown so much. I have looked at so many aspects of myself that I never would have looked at previously. I have learnt to deal with a lot of things, and I am also healing a lot of aspects of myself that I hadn’t previously known needed healing. Thank you. I am so grateful.
 
Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to go through life being ignorant. But actually, it wouldn’t be easier at all. It would be simpler yes but not easier. So, although it’s hard I am ready for the healing that it will bring me to say goodbye to you and to the excuses you gave me. I am ready to go even deeper with my healing work. I am ready to discover who I really am behind the mask of you that I wore for so long.
 
I am also so grateful for the relationships you brought me. There are so many people in my life now, some of them my best friends, who I only met because of you. Thank you. I genuinely can’t imagine what life would be like without all these people that came into my life because of you and the path you placed me on.
 
If I’m honest, I think that you likely saved my marriage. It’s not that it was failing or in trouble before you arrived by any means, but I was certainly on the trajectory of working harder and harder and pushing myself more and more in a bid to not look at the past traumas and buried emotions I was feeling. I was pushing Ewan (and many other people) away because it was easier but, because of you, I have slowed down and I now value him so much. He is such an incredible and precious man. I took that for granted before. Thank you.
 
I am thankful for all of the amazing experiences I have had because of you too. There have been so many things, too many to mention, all because you came into my life. Thank you.
 
But I am also angry. I am angry at how you sadden my Ewan and my loved ones. I am angry that by being in my life you make them sad and scared. But as I write this, I realise that it is not sadness that they show; it is love. I can’t help then but also be thankful for this too. You have shown me how very loved I am. I didn’t see that before. I couldn’t. I didn’t feel worthy of love and now I do. Now I know that I am worthy and that I have a purpose. You put me on the path to discovering who I am and what my life’s work is, and I am so grateful.
 
It feels really hard to say goodbye to you. I realise that I have interwoven my life with you. We are entangled. The life I have forged over the past four years is so engrained in you. I am scared of what it will be like for me to be authentic without you. I am scared about how I will show up in the world and how I will be received without you as my safety net.
 
I know that I want to change the world, or at least a small part of it, but not because of you. I don’t want that to be my legacy. I want to inspire people because of me. I don’t want people to think of me and then think of cancer. I want my cancer to be a distant memory, but I want my words to inspire, motivate and stay with people, long after my passing.
 
More than anything I want to live a long and healthy life. I don’t want to feel the pain anymore. I don’t want to feel the fear. I remember, before you, thinking that I would live forever. I want that feeling again. I don’t want to be worried constantly that I don’t have time to do all the things that I want to do. But then I guess this is what I tell people all the time, that we may die at any point and so we have to keep doing what we can with joy and passion in our hearts for as long as we are able. So, I guess I am making a commitment now to keep pushing towards my dreams and accept that I could live for many, many years but that I could also die tomorrow. The same could be said for any of us.
 
I really want that you know. I really want to live for many years. I want to be healthy. I want to become an old lady. I want to be free from you. I want you to leave my body. I want you to let me live my life now. It is my greatest wish. My long sought after dream.
 
But, regardless, I promise to commit my life to self-healing and growth and to the healing and growth of others. I promise I will keep striving forward to make the world a better place in the words I teach and the lessons that I share. This is what I want for me. This is what I want for the world. Whether I live until I’m 90 or die in my 30s, my dreams and focus will remain the same.
 
But I know that in order to do this, that I need to energetically say goodbye to you. It’s really hard. You’ve been a part of my life for so long. I am more scared of life without you than of life with you. In fact, it terrifies me. I am terrified of who I will be without you. I am terrified of what my life will be like. I am terrified of how people will treat me. I am terrified of what I will have to face inside of myself. I am terrified of the emotional and spiritual healing work I will have to do on myself and the authenticity I will have to express when I no longer have you to use as an excuse to express it. I am so scared of receiving rejection when I don’t have you to validate my words.
 
I am scared.
 
But I am more scared now of who I will be and how I will be remembered if I don’t release you. I am more scared now that if I don’t do this that I will become overwhelmed by you, and so will the memory of me. I am more scared now of losing sight of all I have the potential to become if I keep hiding behind you.
 
So, as hard as it is, I know that I need to say goodbye to you. I need to find out who I am without you. I need to find out how I can show up in the world without you as my safety net. I believe, only then will I be able to become the best version of myself and the person I was destined to be.
 
So, while I will be forever thankful for so much that you have given me and so grateful for the path you have put me on, it is time for me to say goodbye to you.
 
With gratitude and love for you always. Goodbye.
 
Fi Munro, PhD”
health

Dear Cancer (a postscript)

Dear Cancer (a postscript)

I know I’ve said farewell already but I realised I still had a few more things left to say.

I’ve planned a ‘divorce ceremony’ to say farewell to you properly: to honour what you gave me as well as what you took. A proper goodbye.

Until then I’ll keep writing letters to you. I want to be sure there is nothing left unsaid when I say my final goodbyes to you.

Today I find myself reflecting on the fear that comes with saying farewell to you.

Yes fear.

I mean I don’t know who I am without you.

Yes that’s exciting, but it’s also terrifying.

I held on to you for so long because of this fear; because I was too scared to step into the unknown.

Not only do I not know who I am without you, but so many people in my life don’t know either. I mean, many of them met me after you came on the scene.

What if I don’t like the me that’s left? What if they don’t like me either?

What if, perhaps worse still, I discover I love myself more without you now and that I wasted time caught in the fear of letting you go?

But, while I’m scared I am also ready.

Feel the fear and do it anyway, they say.

I feel the fear of saying farewell to you, yes. But the fear of staying attached to you is far greater.

So I prepare to step into the unknown. I am taking a step of faith, trusting that the path I can’t yet see will appear before me before my foot hits the ground.

It’s time.

Love, Fi xx

—–

Read more in my books

Listen to my groundbreaking podcast on all podcast apps – search for ‘Live Like You Are Dying’

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Book a place at one of my retreats.

—–

Fi is Currently:

Working on a new book idea.

Watching a wood pigeon make a nest in one of our trees.

Excited for some self care this afternoon.

Waiting for the arrival of autumn, my favourite season!

health

The ‘Ugly Yoga’ Challenge

I’m launching an ‘Ugly Yoga’ Challenge on 1st September 2019 and I really hope you’ll join me!

In just 5 minutes a day you can change your life and it won’t cost you a penny!

Read on to find out how!

WHAT IS UGLY YOGA

‘Ugly Yoga’ stems from my passionate belief that yoga isn’t about having the ‘perfect’ mat, clothes, body, posture (insert any other ‘perfection’ that’s ever put you off going to a yoga class).

It also doesn’t require you to have ‘perfect’ health either!

Instead, I believe yoga is about connecting with your heart and soul and moving your body in a way that nourishes YOU and your individual needs!

It really doesn’t matter how your poses ‘look’. What matters most is how they make you ‘feel’!

When I say ‘ugly yoga ’ I want you to think about the story of the ‘ugly duckling’ who transformed into a swan…your ‘ugly yoga’ too will transform you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine!

MY STORY

I’ve been practicing ‘ugly yoga’ for nearly 4 years. Before that, I used to go to yoga classes trying to do ‘perfect yoga’, I was training for London Marathon, I was also weight training and seeing a personal trainer. Admittedly, I was one of those yogis that was trying to appear ‘perfect’.

What unachievable bullshit!

In January 2016, aged just 30, I was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.

Since then I’ve trained as a yoga teacher specialising in adult ashtanga yoga, children’s yoga, pregnancy yoga, pre and post natal yoga and baby yoga.

I have a colostomy bag, a pneumothorax (hole in my right lung) and lung tumours. I’ve have multiple organs removed during major surgery including a complete hysterectomy and splenectomy. Most importantly, I’m still alive!

To say I understand the human anatomy, holistic health and yoga would be a massive understatement! I can guarantee whatever you’re feeling…I’ve been there too!

BUT through it all I’ve done yoga every single day (yes, even when I was in hospital). I’ve taught classes and one to one and I’m now running yoga retreats in Scotland with Integrative Retreats.

I believe that yoga is for EVERYONE! And I get super frustrating with the western view that yoga has to look a certain way.

When I trained as a yoga teacher one of the fundamental aspects I was taught was about the philosophies of yoga and it’s role in nourishing us as a whole – our mind, body and spirit. We were never taught that yoga was about having washboard abs or ‘nailing’ a particular pose. That’s all ego led nonsense!

Understanding this important differentiation is something I reference as significant to my physical and emotional healing in my book ‘How Long Have I Got?’

When I stopped trying to do ‘perfect’ yoga and stopped comparing myself to others and what I couldn’t do, I discovered that my body was capable of so much more than I ever imagined!

I also discovered that 5 minutes each day doing yoga that nourished my body is far better than zero minutes!

Of course, some days I do more. Some days I do 90 minutes when I’m feeling good and in flow with my body! But I never set this as the goal. I always set the goal at a manageable and non threatening 5 minutes. Because we can do anything for 5 minutes…even when we feel rubbish and unmotivated!

THE ‘CHALLENGE’

So, I am starting a different kind of yoga challenge. One that doesn’t promise to get you doing a headstand in two weeks – although you might and that’s great if it feels nourishing for you.

Instead this challenge promises to help you connect with, love and learn from your unique and special body.

And, best of all, it’s suitable for everyone, regardless of your health situation or any other circumstances.

All you have to do is commit to 5 minutes of yoga every morning for 30 days.

Just 5 minutes.

You don’t need a yoga mat or fancy yoga clothes.

You don’t even need a yoga studio.

All you need is 5 minutes.

You can do ‘ugly yoga’ in your pjs or your gym clothes…hell you can even do it naked if you like (you badass you!)

You can do it in a chair, on your bed or even in your bathroom – I know that’s the secret place you busy parents hide from your kiddies when you need 5 minutes…yes you!

All you have to do is carve out 5 minutes each day where you put on some relaxing music (I have a free yoga playlist on Spotify under ‘Fi Munro Yoga’) and just stretch and move your body how it wants to move.

Some days you’ll do big stretches and lots of downward facing dogs, other days you might sit and gently twist your body from side to side. There might even be some days where you just lie on your back in shavasana for 5 minutes.

And do you know what? That’s all perfect!! As long as you are listening to what your body needs for at least 5 minutes then, I assure you, you are nailing ‘ugly yoga’ my lovely!

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Starting 1st September 2019 commit to just 5 minutes each day for one month where you stretch your body in ways that feel nourishing to you. That’s it!

Take pictures or videos or write about how ‘ugly yoga’ is making you feel and share it all with me using @fkmunro and #uglyyoga or #uglyyogachallenge

You’re going to be amazed at how different you feel! Seriously!

AND I’m going to join you too by posting live videos of my ‘ugly yoga’ each day across my social media channels.

Are you in?

Love, Fi xxx

—–

Read more in my books

Book into one of my workshops.

Listen to my groundbreaking podcast on all podcast apps – search for ‘Live Like You Are Dying’

Follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Book a place at one of my retreats.

—–

Fi is Currently:

Listening to my yoga playlist on Spotify.

Feeling grateful for a day in the sea.

Loving life and the gift of being alive.

Admiring the sunflowers on my kitchen table.

ovarian cancer

Is Social Media Making Us Less Social?

Recently I took the plunge of deactivating my person facebook page. I didn’t think much about it…I just knew I was using it too much and decided a break could be of benefit to my health.

Wow, was I surprised my the reactions I got.

  • “Are you ok?”
  • “How are you feeling emotionally?”
  • “What’s the matter with you?”
  • “Why don’t you want to talk to people any more?”

These are just some of the comments I received to my very personal decision and it got me thinking: when did social media start to define how social we are?; and when did our use of social media become an indication of our mental health?

In fact, if anything, it could be said that social media not only makes us less social but also negatively affects our mental health as we get sucked into the ‘comparison mentality’. There are increasing studies that show it negatively affects our stress levels, sleep patterns and anxiety (to name a few aspects).

After a week of no facebook I realised that I – the person who previously had used it like a drug – actually didn’t miss it at all. So I deleted my account completely (as much as facebook will allow anyway…those terms and conditions are ‘interesting’). Then, a week later I went on holiday with my hubby and didn’t take my phone, instead leaving it in our house.

I made the decision to be completely offline. For three weeks!

It.was.incredible!

While I appreciate the prospect of not having a phone for three weeks will have made many of you gasp in horror, I want to share with you some of the wonderful lessons I learned and some tips for you to take this learning Ito your own lives – don’t worry, at no point do I suggest you bin your phone.

What I Gained When I Went Offline For Three Week’s

  1. I Fell Back in Love With My Husband – Now of course I have always loved my husband – he is an angel! However, I had forgotten what it was like to truly connect with him like when we first started dating. Primarily I had forgotten how f*cking hilarious he is and how much I enjoy his company. It is so easy when you have been in a relationship for a number of years for your life together to become habit, for each day to be the same as the one before and to not really connect. Add in a life-threatening illness like mine and it is easy for what made you fall in love in the first place to move to the bottom of the pile. Talk of work, hospital tests and mindless chat about social media can very quickly and easily take over. When I stepped back from this I realised that perhaps we were not as connected as I might have thought. For instance, I spend most evenings with Ewan, however many are spent watching a film or both of us on our phones. Now, in many ways we have always recognised this and we consciously make time every week for adventures, walks and days out together yet still, in the day-to-day, screen time can take over from face-to-face communication. What I realised when we were away together was that we were interacting with one another; we were laughing; connecting and stimulating each other’s conversation constantly. It was like setting the reset button on our relationship. After all, can you imagine a first date with someone who just sat looking at their phone?…
  2. Mental Clarity and Improved Memory – My mind become much clearer and more focused. Each day I would journal ideas for my second book and rather than my thoughts being stunted or blocked, they flowed freely. A surprising addition to this was old memories started coming back to me. A traumatic relationship in my twenties has meant that I struggle with memories in my school and university years. This was worsened by six doses of chemotherapy in 2016. However, I found that as my mental clarity improved, so did my memory and, as a result, many happy memories that had stayed just out of my mental reach for years, started to return. It’s as if my mind began to completely let go and relax and my inner knowing/guide/intuition/soul (whatever you want to call it) was no longer being silenced by the constant stream of information on social media.
  3. Time and Productivity – It was so insightful to me how much time I would normally spend on my phone looking at various apps. As soon as my phone was no longer part of my life I suddenly gained a ridiculous amount of time to do things that really matter to me (ideas for you to try are listed later in this post).
  4. A Sense of Calm – I am an inherently anxious, a-type personality who always has to be ‘doing’. However, the longer I was without my phone the more calm I began to feel. I no longer felt like I had to ‘do’ all of the time and instead found myself day dreaming, wondering and reflecting in ways I don’t remember doing since I was a child. The result was a deep sense of peace and calm. I hadn’t realised how much the constraint stream of information had influenced my anxiety levels.
  5. Better Connections – it’s ironic really that not using your phone would make you feel more connected, but it’s true. When you don’t have a phone, you spend more quality time with the people you are actually with because you aren’t constantly being distracted by conversations with other people through your phones.

How My Relationship With Technology Changed

Of course, I did miss some aspects of having a phone. For instance, I greatly missed being able to speak to the people in my life that I love dearly. However, I have noticed that as a result of this personal experience, my relationship with technology has changed – in particular my tolerance and patience.

  1. Group Chats – I am in many group chats. Some are where my family connects and shares as a group. Some are with friends who are stimulating, funny and supportive. Other are, well, not. The constant buzz of conversation that is mindless and not adding anything to my life suddenly felt suffocating and toxic. Having gained insight into how draining social media can be, and having a life-threatening illness has made me realise how important it is that all of the social interactions we have, whether face-to-face or online, need add value. Fortunately some apps allow you to mute groups.
  2. Multiple Conversations – social media allows you to be engaged in multiple conversations simultaneously, across various platforms. How can you truly connect with what a person is saying if you are having a conversation with 10 other people at the same time? The answer is, you can’t. As a result, it is very hard to have a deep and meaningful conversation with people through text on a screen. I should know, after all, I am the person who sent the message “it’s f*cking cancer” to several people simultaneous the day after I was diagnosed. What ever happened to picking up the phone? (I ask myself as much as I ask you).
  3. Society pressure – It is really hard to step away from social media because nearly everyone is on it. This creates a ‘sheep mentality’ meaning that if you decide to be the one who doesn’t follow the flock you can feel like you are missing out. Fortunately I have some amazing friends who send me the photos of their children that they would ordinarily just post on social media – this makes me feel extra special as I know they want me to specifically see them, and not just their whole friends list (I don’t doubt they think I’m a pain in the arse).

Things to Do Instead of Mindlessly Checking Social Media

Now you may be wondering, if I’m not on social media how am I meant to relax/connect/veg-out/and so on? Well, don’t worry, I’ve got your back…

1. Dance – dancing to a song that makes you happy not only stretches out your body but it also helps to lower your stress hormones and allows you to move from a state of ‘fight or flight’ to a healthier state of ‘rest and digest’. The same can be said for yoga.

2. Go For a Walk – even if it is just for a short walk around your neighbourhood, going outside and breathing in fresh air reduces feelings of depression; burns calories and improves your cardiovascular health.

3. Create – when was the last time you did something creative? Creativity is a form of meditation and mindful living and allows your mind to wonder and your brain to rest. Take some time to draw, doodle, colour or write.

4. Take Some Me Time – busy has become a badge people are proud to wear. Instead of constantly stimulating your mind, allow it to rest and relax with a bath (with you phone left in the hall!), massage, reiki, sauna, meditation or anything else that takes your fancy…

5. Phone Someone – how many of us send mindless messages to people without picking up the phone and having an actual conversation? I just had a two hour phone call with a friend in London and it was so stimulating for my soul (and hopefully hers). Take some time to have an actual conversation with someone you care about, rather than sending the ‘how you doing?’ message.

6. Speak to the Person/People You Live With – you’ve had a busy day at work and the last thing you want to do is speak to another person. It is so much ‘easier’ to mindlessly look at your phone and start scrolling. How about instead, you pause, take yourself to a quiet place (I have a friend with three children who’s ‘quiet place’ is meditating on her bathroom floor – so no excuses!) and when you feel ready, start actually speaking to the people in your home, rather than reading the text on your phone.

7. Journal – I had heard of journaling and I didn’t really ‘get it’, thinking it was for ‘other people’. However, I spent a lot of my trip journaling and it was mind opening. Simply sitting down with a notebook and a pen and taking a few moments to yourself (or longer if you have the time – which you do if you aren’t on social media) to write down your thoughts is very illuminating. You can even search online for some ‘journal questions’ to give you some things to contemplate if you are struggling. I’ve learned more about myself, my values and my thoughts since I started journaling than I ever have in the past. Now I know why the people I know who have journaled for a while are so interesting, self-aware and enlightening to be around.

8. Read a Book – In those first two weeks I didn’t have facebook (before I went completely without my phone) I read two books without making any extra time for reading. I simply always carried a book with me and whenever I had a moment where I would have previously reached for my phone, I instead reached for my book. I even bought a new handbag that fits a book in it (any excuse for a shopping trip). Stop making the excuse ‘I never have time to read’.

9. Have a Nap – who doesn’t like a 10 minute nap…enough said.

But We Live In A ‘Digital Age’…I hear you cry

Of course, since I came home there has been a need for me to use social media and technology. For instance, I run a business that relies, in part, on social media and me being contactable by phone. The difference now, however, is that I engage with social media in a mindful manner:

  • My business facebook is run by a facebook account which I don’t have any friends on and I still don’t have a personal facebook (it’s been over 2 months now).
  • I check twitter once a week – my blogs are set to automatically post there.
  • I check instagram once a month.
  • I only check my business facebook during working hours.
  • I only check emails during working hours.
  • I don’t have any social media apps on my phone…no business facebook, no twitter, no instagram, no emails. This means that I have to go on a computer to check these. This takes away the mindless habit…it is a lot more effort to go into my office just to scroll through social media.

By taking some simple steps to mindfully reduce your use of technology you will begin to notice dramatic changes in your life. Maybe you will even take a compete break as I did – if you do, I’d love to hear your reflections (once you are back online of course).

I believe it’s time for us to unplug from mindless online activity and instead plug into our souls, our hearts and our intuition.

Love and light, Fi xxx

ovarian cancer

What Would You Wish For?

“What Would You Wish For?”

This morning I woke from a very vivid dream with tears in my eyes.

In my dream, someone had stood before me and said ‘I can take it all away, I can make it so you never had stage four cancer.’ I remained silent as they went on ‘You would never have had the chemotherapy; your hair would still be intact and you never would have suffered the distress it had caused you. Your surgery wouldn’t have happened; your scar would vanish, your colostomy wouldn’t exist and the trauma you experienced would disappear from your mind.’
In my dream I silently stared at them as they spoke and finally muttered ‘would I remember the lessons?’

‘Only if you wanted to’ they replied.

‘Would I be teaching yoga?’ I asked, slightly bewildered.

‘No, you would still be in your previous job.’

Then, somewhere between the dream and awakening I began to think about what this would mean….

I would never have taught a single child yoga and, as a result, I would never have witnessed the magic that happens when a child is gifted the ability to self sooth, or the wonder in their eyes when they learn about chakras, or the softening of their spirit as I teach them the mantra of ‘I am kind, I am loved, I am safe, I am enough….’

I would have never made the friends I have through cancer and, as a result, so many people I cherish deeply would still be strangers.

I, of course, also never would have lost the dear friends that I parted ways with during my journey (some through death and some through anger), but perhaps our story together was over and that, as painful as it was, is OK. The memories we shared will always be carried in my heart.

I never would have written my book or personally had the honour of connecting with hundreds of people as they go through their own cancer journey or who are supporting a loved one with cancer. I never would have shared the tears and felt the connection when people wrote to me about a loved one passing away from cancer, or the joy when someone survived against all the odds.

I wouldn’t have known what it’s like to have everything I thought was ‘me’ stripped away to leave the raw reality upon which I could rebuild the person I have become….no, the warrior I have become!

I never would have met, nor witnessed, the incredible medical staff who I have had the absolute privilgde of receiving care from. My oncologist, my surgeons, the nurses (oh the wonderful nurses), the porter, the cleaning staff, the volunteers and the doctors would all remain strangers and I would never know what it is like to witness, nor recieve, the passionate, person-centred care that they offer.

I wouldn’t place the value I do on time away with my hubby, on days with my family or on adventures with friends. Instead, perhaps I would have kept working long days and commuting long hours, unaware that my precious life was slipping past me in a blur.

I wouldn’t have handed out a single random act of kindness and, sadly, I wouldn’t have connected with the lives and stories of so many beautiful strangers, some of whom have become dear friends and, all of whom, have taught me some of the most valuable lessons in life.

And I realised something; I wouldn’t trade a single second of my diagnosis, of my treatment, of my surgery or of my recovery if it meant that I would miss out on any of the wonderful gifts it had brought me.

In that moment I knew that, while my cancer may never be cured, I can say now, without a shadow of doubt in my mind, that I am completely ‘healed’ in every sense of the word and that is the greatest gift of all.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, neither do any of us, but I do know that because of (not in spite of) my cancer, that I will be living my life with kindness, with gratitude and, above all, with love.

Look for the beauty, embrace the gifts and I promise you cancer can heal us all.

Love and light, Fi xxx

‘Health Blogger of the Year 2017’

Author of ‘Love, Light and Mermaid Tails: One Woman’s Healing Journey Back to Wholeness Through Stage Four Cancer’

ovarian cancer

The Innate Ability to be Kind

Today I met my Uncle for a cuppa and he gave me this beautiful teal dream catcher.

When I got back to my car I noticed that the car in front had a parking fine on their windscreen. We’ve all been there – it’s the worse feeling coming back to your car to an unexpected bill to add to the list. I felt for the person and wondered about their reaction. Whilst doing so I noted that they had not ‘just’ missed the end of their paid time by a few moments. Their parking had been up for nearly three hours!

As I sat in my own car I began to wonder why someone would be so late for their car. I knew immediately what I had to do. I reached for something in my bag, leapt out of my car and slipped one of my blue envelopes under their windscreen wiper. Inside was a random act of kindness. At least now they now have some money to help with the bill 💖

Doing these random acts of kindness never fails to brighten my day. The simple gesture of touching a stranger’s life in a beautiful way with no expectation of their reaction is one of the most beautiful things we can all do. It doesn’t have to cost a penny. A smile costs nothing and yet it can make a huge difference to someone’s life.

How lucky we are to all have this innate gift to help others.

Love and light, Fi xxx

You can read more about my random acts of kindness and where the money comes from.

health, ovarian cancer, yoga

Sprouting For Joy – Raw Food Day 6

Sprouting For Joy – Raw Food Day 6Wow it’s already 6 days since I started eating 100% raw and I am feeling AMAZING!

Today’s video is all about sprouts! No not the kind you avoid at Christmas but sprouted nuts, seeds and lentils and why they are a must in a raw food diet. Actually why they are a must in everyone’s diet!

These are super tasty, super healthy and, best of all, super easy to prepare!

I hope you enjoy the video and feel inspired to ‘sprout for joy’ too!

Love and light, Fi xx

New to my page? In Jan 2016 , at the age of just 30, I was diagnosed with non-genetic, stage four ovarian cancer. There is no stage five. Since then I’ve quit my job as a researcher and retrained as a yoga instructor. I’ve launched my own yoga business and spend my time teaching and practicing yoga and ensuring I have optimal nutritional, physical and emotional health. I also recently wrote a book about my journey back to wholeness.

I’ve been shortlisted for ‘The Health Blogger of the Year’.

It would be super awesome if you could head here and vote to help me win.

You don’t need to provide any details (not even your name!), you just have to tick a box!

Namaste!

ovarian cancer

Support – Raw Food Day 5

Over the past 21 months I have received unwavering support from both friends and family, for which I am eternally grateful.

Despite my positive outlook and the fact that my cancer miraculously went into remission last year this does not mean I am ‘cured’.

In reality, statistically the chances of me dying from my cancer in the next three years are 83%* (these odds are increased further due to my lack of a spleen). This is not the odds of a recurrence, these are the odds of death.

Now, as a researcher, (and as a generally stubborn individual) the only reason I like statistics is so that I can disprove them. For this reason, many of you have witnessed me making radical (and perhaps sometimes crazy) lifestyle changes.

I am now embarking on a journey of eating 100% raw food. This is not because I think it will ‘cure’ my cancer, but rather because it is my strong, personal belief that this will give my body the best chance of surviving in spite of cancer.

So, why am I spending a Saturday morning telling you this? Simply because I need your support. I don’t expect anyone else to switch to a raw food diet (not even my lovely hubby), I love you all just as you are. However, I do need your encouragement. Whilst you can eat whatever you like in front of me (yes even steak!), please don’t offer it to me. Instead, please support my food choices. Please don’t pass judgement over what I eat either. There is nothing worse than when someone says “I feel bad that you can’t eat this.” When you make these comments what I actually hear is “I feel bad that you have stage four cancer and I don’t.”

In reality, I don’t mind not eating what you eat, ever! 

Most importantly don’t feel that we can’t go out for meals or eat together. I will always find a way of eating something raw when we are out and I LOVE food.

So, in short. Please encourage and support me as I make this change in my life. It will not always be easy for me and I really need your help. It is what I need to do for me** in order to give my body the best chance of survival. At the very least it will enable me to say “at least I tried.”

Love and light, Fi xx

*I prefer to look at it as 17% chance of surviving 💜 

**I wish to highlight that I don’t think everyone with cancer (or any disease for that matter) should switch to a similar diet, nor do I pass judgement on any one else’s diet choices. Rather, this is what I instinctively feel is right for me at this moment xxx