14 articles Tag Life

Why Planning Ahead Is Important In Life

No matter what part of life you are in, you are planning. You plan for school, for further education, for your job, for your home – there’s always something to plan for. Have you considered that you should plan for your death as much as you plan for your retirement? Everyone knows that it’s a part of life and it happens to every single one of us, but why don’t we talk about it more openly?

Well, death scares many of us. The idea of planning for the end is a morbid one, and yet it’s one of the most important plans you could make. It puts your mind at ease to know that you have paid for funeral directors and flowers, coffins and food for after the ceremony. Death is something to mourn, but planning your funeral is your chance to plan a celebration of your life. You have to consider how you want to be cared for in the later stages – if you need to be cared for, that is. You should think about planning the legal stuff, the financial stuff and all the practical things that need to be done before you go.

Image source: Pexels

There are five things that you should think about in particular when it comes to planning ahead for your eventual death, and you shouldn’t wait to plan any of it. No one can tell when death will come, so plan early to be ready.

  1. Legal & Financial. Try not to leave any mess behind for family to handle. If you have a Will written, then people will know what to do after you die. This way, there will be no arguments and disputes about who gets what from your estate.
  2. Personal Decisions. Organ donation is a necessity for those waiting for help. If you are dying or you have died, you no longer need those organs and you should opt to donate if you can. If you don’t want people to have your spare parts, then consider donating your body to science.
  3. Funeral Decisions. Everyone has an idea of what they would like to do for their funeral. Some people want to be cremated where others would prefer a burial. You need to know what you want here, as you deserve the send off that’s right for you. This isn’t just the saying goodbye, but the songs, the poetry or even the prayers.
  4. Hospital Choices. If you are in hospital and on life support, do you want the plug pulled or do you want the chance to live longer on machines? These choices are as personal as organ donation, and you should ensure that someone close to you knows what you want so that you can get the best outcome.

Planning ahead will get you the outcome that you want for your death, and you can ensure that it truly is everything that you could want. Take the time to plan properly and there will be no surprises when it comes to the event.

5 Life-Lengthening Health Tips for Your Dog

It’s estimated that 12 million of us in the UK have pets in our household. If you have a dog, it’s only natural that you will want them to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, a dog’s lifespan is far shorter than a human being’s, so to keep your beloved pooch in good shape, here are a few life-lengthening health tips that you can take on board.

Feed a High-Quality Diet

For your dog to have the best start in life, it’s important that you feed them a high-quality diet. Doing so will strengthen their coat, improve their skin, and boost your dog’s immune system. We’re all a sucker for puppy eyes, however, it’s best not to feed your pooch any human food. While you may think you’re giving a treat to your companion, there are lots of foods that can prove fatal to your dog. A high-quality diet will help keep your dog’s muscles and joints healthy, as well as increase their mental acuity. 

Keep Your Dog Lean

Just like with human beings, there are numerous health issues that your dog can develop should they be overweight. Obesity is regarded as the top nutritional disease seen in dogs, and with several studies showing that being obese or overweight can shorten a dog’s lifespan, it’s important that you do all that you can to keep them in good shape. Being overweight will put your dog at risk for heart disease, joint disease, and diabetes. 

Take Your Dog to the Vet

Whether your dog appears fit and healthy or you have any concerns, regular trips to your vet can bring you peace of mind. No matter what type of breed you have, regular veterinary care is essential. When at your appointment, the vet will perform routine examinations that can uncover health issues you may not be aware of. 

Understandably, you may be hesitant to take your pooch to the vets because of the cost, making it more important than ever to take out pet insurance. Fortunately there are websites like Quotezone that can help you compare pet insurance providers, making it more likely that you’ll find a good policy at a cheap price.

Keep Your Dog’s Mouth Clean

A common problem that your dog may face is dental disease or other oral health issues. If your dog is in pain or finds it difficult to eat, oral health issues that are left untreated can lead to kidney and heart disease. The most effective way of caring for your dog’s dental care at home is to brush their teeth. If your dog isn’t a huge fan of toothbrushes, there are lots of alternatives that you can try, such as dental diets and treats.

Give Them Regular Exercise

Whether you have a puppy running riot around the home or a senior dog who likes to take things easy, regular exercise for your pooch can provide tons of health benefits. Reducing digestive problems, controlling behavioural problems, as well as helping hip joints are just a few health benefits your dog can gain from regular physical activity. Getting out and about with your pooch can help you be more active too.

It doesn’t matter what kind of breed of dog you have, we all want our four-legged friends to live forever. There are lots of handy tips that you can use to lengthen your dog’s lifespan, meaning you can hold onto your companion for that little bit longer

Work and Home – Five Ways to Keep Them Separate

How to Separate Home and Work LifePhoto by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

As someone who works from home, I’d be the first to say that there are a lot of pros to the arrangement. I get to work in a familiar environment, Maureen the Pup doesn’t have to be left by herself and I get to dictate my own hours (and eat lunch whenever I want!). However, there are also downsides, and it can be difficult to create separation between home and work life – I say this as I sit here typing on a Sunday afternoon, between cooking dinner and doing loads of laundry!

There are, however, ways to ensure that work and home don’t bleed together – here are a few of them:

Invest in Office Space

This might seem counterproductive if you want the freedom of self-employment, but there are lots of small office spaces where you can work, distraction free, which don’t cost a fortune. Click Offices London guide can help you to find serviced office space in the City, which will fit your budget and help you to look more professional to your clients.

Set Work Hours

I’m very guilty of taking work at a moments notice, which means working at times when I should be with family. Set yourself hours in which you’ll accept work and don’t do anything outside of this. You could even set yourself an out of hours notification for your emails so that clients won’t expect to hear back from you until the next day. It can be daunting, thinking about losing work, but setting parameters like this is good for everyone.

Ditch the Work Phone

For those of us with work phones, consider implementing a ‘no phone’ policy at home. There’s nothing worse than a fun time with the family being spoilt by a call from work about something that could wait till Monday. Of course, there are some exceptions to this but in most cases, the job can wait till you’re on the clock.

Delegate as Much Work as Possible.

If you have others that work with or for you, make sure to assign a reasonable amount of tasks to them, instead of trying to do everything yourself. Give your assistant or team members tasks that are lower on your priority list, but that you can trust them to accomplish. You may also think about assigning tasks or activities that will build and enhance their skills.

Keep Your Social Media Separate

If you’d like to separate your work relationships from your personal ones, it’s a good idea to keep them separate online as well. The easiest way to avoid overlap is to use different social networking sites for different purposes. For example, Twitter and LinkedIn are excellent tools for developing your professional network, whereas Facebook is often better suited to sharing photos and news with your family and close friends. If your business page is linked to your profile, there’s temptation to answer questions doing downtime, but you should try to keep notifications off at weekends, at the very least.

5 Habits To Change For A Healthier Summer

With summer almost here, it’s all about spending time with family and friends, enjoying the sunshine, going out for trips to the seaside and having as much fun as you can. However, 2019 should be the year you aim to be at your very healtiest, so here are a few tips to help you have a healthy Summer.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi from Pexels

Touch everything once

This means that instead of doing the cooking and leaving the washing up in the sink until later, do it right then, right there, and it’s done, meaning you have more time to do other things, things you really want to do. Use the frying pan – clean the frying pan – touch everything once! By putting things off, you’re cluttering up your mind with things ‘to do’ raising your stress levels and worrying about things that don’t need to be thought about at all. Or perhaps you’ve got clothes to put away, you’ve taken the clean clothes upstairs and left it on the bed to do later….STOP!! Do it now, and then it’s done so you can go and play with the kids, make yourself a lovely home cooked meal or go on a trip out somewhere.

Quit smoking

Something most smokers aim to do at some point but keep putting off to another time. By stopping smoking you will not only be saving yourself money, but you’ll also feel better within yourself, you’ll smell better and reduces the chance of you getting smokers likes – https://www.siobeauty.com/blogs/news/smokers-lines has a few tips to help get rid of any that may already be in place.

Sleep

Although making sure you have 8 hours sleep a night is important, sleeping in until lunchtime at the weekend isn’t healthy and such a waste of life! By getting to sleep at a decent time, it means you get more out of the day – time to go out with friends, see family or have some ‘you’ time. Turn off your phone an hour before you go to bed and don’t watch tv, try reading a book instead to help your brain switch off.

Take-Aways

Ditch the takeaways and junk food. One ‘simple’ and quick way to make yourself so much healthier this Summer. Most of the time, takeaways don’t fill you up for long anyway and won’t taste as great as you think they will.

Hydration

Did you know the average female should be drinking at least 2 litres of water a day to maintain their bodies an in hotter weather, it should be even more than this. However, on average in the UK we aren’t drinking anywhere near what we should be. This will lead to headaches and sun-stroke early on, but more importantly, this could lead to further and more serious problems. So make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Also, one thing to note is NEVER to drink water that has been left out in the sunshine in a plastic bottle as the heat from the sun can mean some of the chemicals in the plastic disperse into your water.

 

Making Life Easier for the Elderly

I’ve written before about my Grandad John and what an amazing grandad he was, but he was a really remarkable person in a lot of other ways, too. He was intelligent and hard-working, and a great Dad to my Dad and his brothers, but I think his remarkableness really came into its own after my Nan died and his own health deteriorated. He was on his own for over ten years and had to learn to cope with life on his own, but he did it with amazing resilience – although, that’s not hugely surprising for someone who once told me a story about how he accidentally drove an ambulance into a camel in the middle of the Libyan desert! Here’s a few things he used to make his life easier:

Mobility Scooter

Once his eyesight got too bad to drive, Grandad was determined that he wasn’t going to be stuck indoors, so he invested in a Pro Rider Mobility road scooters. It meant that he could still get to the shops to to his grocery shopping, still visit his neighbours and still have a semblance of the independence that he prized so strongly.

Magnifying Glasses

When Grandad’s eyesight started so get bad and his glasses didn’t help as much, he invested in a whole load of magnifying glasses of different types and strengths and they were dotted around the house to help him. They ranged from small handheld ones to a massive one which I think was a surgical grade magnifying glass (like the one Joey stands behind in Friends after Mr. Heckles dies!). They allowed him to read his mail, read the paper and see finer details of things he needed to do.

Large-Number Phone

My Grandad’s house phone had the biggest numbers of any phone I’ve ever seen, which meant that he was able to see the numbers to dial the phone. He had an A4 sheet of phone numbers beside the phone too, and all of the numbers were written in 3-inch high letters!

Vibrating Doorbell

Grandad was hard of hearing even when I was little (I remember being about six and chuckling to myself because he’d turned his hearing aid right down so he couldn’t hear my Nan nagging him!) but as he got older it obviously got worse. He invested in a doorbell which had a little unit he could put in his pocket which vibrated when the bell was rung, so he didn’t even need to be able to hear the bell to know someone was at the door.

Grabbing Stick

This was one of my favourites, but mostly because I liked to grab people’s bottoms with it as they walked past me – Grandad had one of those things that convicts in America pick rubbish up with to help him pick things up off of the floor or grab things which were out of reach and it was really useful once his mobility became restricted.

Do your elderly relatives have any gadgets which make their lives easier? Leave me a comment below.

Surviving Winter in the Countryside

winter countrysideThis will be our second winter living in the countryside and I like to think that we’ve learned a few things since last year. Obviously, we’re not exactly living inside the Arctic Circle, but we are far enough away from civilisation to have to think about certain things in advance. Here, I look at our top five things that we need now that we live off the beaten track:

Cardboard and Paper

Last year, I wrote a post about The Art of Lighting a Fire, talking about how it’s far more difficult to light and maintain a fire than I ever realised, so this summer has been spent stockpiling newspapers, egg cartons, old boxes and other things which make excellent tinder. We’re dab-hands at getting the fire going now and our stash will only make it easier!

Decent Coats

Our house is surrounded by farmland and is basically open to the elements from all angles which means that even when doing simple things we’re at the mercy of the wind. This has taught us that having a decent coat is an absolute must and also that kid’s coats are often more style than function. Opting for a proper outdoor brand like Regatta or Barbour means they get nice looking coats which actually keep out the cold and wet! I also highly recommend getting some good gloves as well.

Outdoor Walking Gear

If all else were to fail, Husband could make his way across the fields to the nearest shop if we were to get completely snowed in, he just might need some trekking poles for stability!

Candles and Torches

Seriously, since we’ve lived here I’ve expereinced more power cuts that at any other time in my adult life. Just last week, I posted a photo on Instagram of us all plunged into darkness, relying on my candle collection to give us a little bit of light. Since then, I’ve decided to invest in some good, rechargable lanterns so that we don’t have to scrabble around in the dark next time it happens!

Long-Life Milk

Here’s the scenario: it’s 10pm on your main work day and you’re still not finished writing, you’re desperate for a cup of coffee to keep you going but you remember that the last of the milk got used up earlier and the nearest shop is a 15 minute drive away. BUT IT’S OKAY! You have cartons of long-life milk stashed away at the back of the cupboard! Again, I’m aware that we aren’t living off the grid or anything and that, worst comes to worst the nearest supermarket is open 24 hours, but having long-life milk to hand can really be a life-saver…or at the very least a deadline-saver!

A Good Shovel

When you live in the sticks, the council doesn’t come and clear the roads. If you’re lucky, a very benevolent farmer will come along and scatter salt with his tractor, but having a good shovel can make all the difference between being stranded at home or being able to actually leave the house. Your neighbours will also love you forever if you help them too, especially if they’re elderly.

The Downsides of Living in the Country

Living in the CountrySince we moved to a more rural location, back in September, I’ve been effusive in my praise of living out in the country, and while I’m still absolutely in LOVE with where we live, I thought I’d let you know about some of the minor down-sides, for the sake of balance. I wouldn’t change our location for all the tea in China (unless someone wants to give us a Maldivian island to live on?!) but I thought it might be useful to anyone who’s dreaming of the simpler life to see the realities of rural living before they take the plunge.

Wind

This may seem like a really  odd one, but the wind out here in the country is BONKERS. I’m not taking a little gust every now and then, I’m talking full-on gale force on a regular basis. Because we’re totally exposed with flat, open farmland at the front AND back of the house, the wind is free to blow completely unhindered and we’ve woken up to missing roof tiles, flying wheelie bins and once last week, it was so strong it somehow managed to suck our loft hatch open from the inside! Investing in some Mountain Horse Boots is a good idea for all types of weather.

Roadkill

If you’ve read my previous post about roadkill, you’ll know that this is a particular hotspot for me, but seeing dead things on an almost daily basis (I saw a pheasant which had been run over today, it’s long tail feathers splayed in a darkly comical fashion) really brings you face to face with mortality, which can not only be a drain on your own mental health but can also be tricky to deal with if you’ve got kids.

Isolation

Isolation is both one of the reasons that I adore this house and one of the down sides, all at once. On the one hand, I could not be happier to never hear buses go past, or drunks stumbling past at 1am, or any of the other things that I hated about our last house. On the other, it can be tricky in terms of the fact that I need to use the car to go ANYWHERE practical. There are some gorgeous places to walk around here but they don’t really lead anywhere…shops and schools and civilisation are all a car journey away.

Lack of Services

It’s not just lack of local shops which hinder you out in the country. We’re not on a main gas supply, which means we have to order (and pay for!) our gas in bulk, to be delivered to a tank at the back of the house. Same with internet; the only services we can get offer up to a MAXIMUM of 4MBPS, which is desperately slow, especially for a family who rely so heavily on the internet for work, streaming and everything else. We knew it would be slow before we moved and decided that we were prepared to make the minor sacrifice, but it does get a little frustrating at times!

Cost

Living away from the main drag often means that rents are lower, and that’s certainly the case here, but there are other costs to factor in, such as extra fuel. All in all, I think we’re still probably saving money by living here, but it does mean we’ve (and by “we”, I mean Husband because I am appalling with money) had to be more on-the-ball with money so that we always have fuel for the car, etc.

Three Life Altering Decisions To Make Next Year

Ever thought about how you can make your life better without uprooting everything? Well, I have, and I want to talk about some of my personal goals for the upcoming year,

Just to be clear, I want to separate this from the inevitable #NewYearsResolution articles that will manifest online in December, for this reason: the tradition of almost every New Year’s Resolution is that they are not taken even slightly seriously after the first week. The life goals I mention here are ones to stick to, and will ultimately benefit you in the long run.

First, cycling. A lot of you will be familiar with this scenario – after two days of riding your sleek, new bike you just bought from Halfords at 7:30 am to work, you feel like a superhero. Then, almost by accident, something disrupts your system. A day off work, a surprise illness, a punctured tyre. Suddenly lie-ins remind you what was so warm about them in the first place.

I understand that, we all do. However, I’m personally aiming to ride to work twice a week. If not to work, why not go somewhere nice at the weekend? A bike ride on a day off can be one of the most therapeutic stress relievers. If you can find a way to fit cycling into your life comfortably, there’s nothing holding you back!

Second is the transition to environmentally friendly heating. This is an odd one – why would you change a system that works? The truth is, electric heating is far more efficient for a much longer period than gas heating. For example, if I bought  this stand-alone electric radiator range from Verismart, its efficiency, lack of extra parts and long life means I’m far less likely to have to replace it within 2 years. You can also heat specific rooms and turn it on and off when you please, so it’s far more convenient. It’s just like any durable product – you’d much rather have a more powerful, long lasting laptop than waste money on several that can’t handle more than two programs at once. In the end it’s a no brainer.

Finally, and admittedly most dauntingly, I aim to go gluten free. The world is getting scarier each day and everything we love seems to now be cancerous. Just like every other big life change, however, switching to a gluten free diet appears to be a chore; the food doesn’t seem as nice, it’s more expensive, you have to be that one who asks for different food at parties. Overall, however, the end justifies the means. I can’t count how many people who have told me how much better they feel now they’ve gone gluten free. Sure, it will take a bit of effort, but again, don’t feel like you have to throw yourself in the deep end immediately. Moderation will tell you how well your body’s reacting to the change, then you can decide where to go.

The truth about all of these changes is that they are tough to do right away, so my advice is this: don’t run before you can walk. Those baby steps might just make a serious life decision that bit easier.

Living in the Country – Six Weeks On

Autumnal afternoon sunAs you’ll know, if you read this blog (or follow me on social media, or happen to have stood behind me at a checkout recently…), six weeks ago we made the move to a tiny rural hamlet about 8 miles from where we were previously living. Six weeks exactly, in fact, but it feels so much longer.

It’s definitely been a learning curve; we’ve had to learn about living with an LPG tank to supply our gas, how to start and maintain a fire efficiently in a log burner, how to live with a whole host of new flora and fauna (since living here I’ve had to stop the car on two separate occasions to flap wildly about at some baby pheasants to get them to clear the way and just yesterday I had to pick up an elderly rabbit so that he didn’t hop under the wheels of my car!) and just how different it is to live somewhere with no shops and just one street lamp!

In terms of the actual house, there’s not much I’d change. We’ve got an issue with damp in one of the bedrooms, which the landlady is dealing with for us, but it’s quite a rustic little house so it doesn’t need luxury flooring and furnishings, just a little bit of charm and imagination here and there. I also cannot wait to decorate our huge Inglenook fireplace for Christmas!

If anything, living here has made me a better mother and wife. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still FAR from perfect but the distance from shops and conveniences means that I’ve had to be far more organised in terms of sorting dinner out and ensuring we’re well stocked with supplies. Even on a more basic level, I think that I’ve been happier overall since we’ve lived here and therefore less stressed and snappy. Husband and I are even getting along better as we’re more chilled out, which can only be a good thing.

We’re spending more quality time together as a family, too. In the last house, Sausage never felt at home, Husband hated the living room which was noisy from being on a main road and we all tended to drift around doing our own thing. Here, our evenings are spent in a living room that we love, warming ourselves in front of the log burner, watching films, listening to music, drawing or chatting to one another and it’s just so lovely. Living here has certainly made me enjoy the simple things in life. Before, Sausage would get home from school and I’d invariably need to pop to the shops for something or do some other errand or another, but here it’s far more a case of “once we’re in, we’re in” and I love that.

Making a move to a rural community was a completely unknown quantity to me before we moved here and although I was in love with the house and surrounding area, I was still apprehensive. However, six weeks on I can say that I truly love it here and I’m so glad we made the leap (and, I’m not kidding, as I typed that about half a dozen ponies just trotted past my living room window!!) and I hope we’ll be happy here for a very long time.

Roadkill

Snow White AnimalsOne of my favourite things about our new house is the immediate surroundings and the wildlife that lives within. Yesterday, we had to drive into town at about 7.30am and it was a glorious day; as we turned the corner out of the end of our road we saw rabbits, squirrels and phaesants, all just happily milling around eating at the edges of the farmers field. When you’ve lived in a very built-up town for the best part of 31 years and the closest you get to nature is next doors’ cat shitting in your sandpit and ripping open your bins, seeing this kind of scene on an almost daily basis is like that scene in Snow White, minus the housework-doing bluebirds! However, there is a downside to all this nature.

Roadkill.

When I first started driving, back in 2002 (*boke* HOW can it be that long ago?!), I used to commute to work along an A-road every day, a drive of about 13 miles but it was then that I first started to notice roadkill. I may not show it, but I can be a sensitive soul and after a few weeks, seeing death and destruction on a daily basis really started to drag me down. I’d be at once repelled by the sight of squashed animals and obsessive about spotting them as I went. It was like a form of self-torture, my brain saying “I’m going to make you feel REALLY bad for the rest of the day” and I was really glad when I stopped doing that commute as it started to mess with my mental health, I think.

If we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen my recent post about having seen a mouse run out into the road while I was driving along, followed by a weasel which proceeded to eat said mouse. It was all very David Attenborough but it was on this day that I realised something. If that weasel-eating-a-mouse had stopped in my lane, I’d have had no choice but to run it over. I was driving along that road at about 40 miles an hour (it’s a national speed limit road with a 60mph max, but I never drive that fast, especially if the kids are in the car) and it’s a narrow country lane with barely room for two cars to pass. There’d be no leeway for me to swerve, and quite frankly, if it’s a choice between Burrito Baby, Sausage and I ending up nose-down in a ditch next to a farmers field and saving a weasel, I know what choice I’d make.

Sausage is even more of a gentle soul than I and I’ve had to try to break it to her gently that these things happen and that one day, we may have no choice but to forge on regardless of whether something goes under our wheels. If I’m honest, I’m absolutely dreading it, for both of our sakes. I know that it’s a very real possibility and when (probably not *if*) it happens it will weigh heavily on us both. Just yesterday we saw a freshly-squished squirrel and the best way I could reconcile it for us all was to say “well, it’s sad for the squirrel, but I bet a crow or a fox will be getting a good meal for its babies today”. It’s all very Elton John, innit? #circleoflife

via GIPHY

I know lots of people will think I’m barmy or a big baby for not wanting to hurt animals, but it’s just not in me to be so carefree about it. Regardless of what type of creature it is, it’s a life – and before you ask, no, I don’t kill spiders or insects either, so my regard isn’t only for those thing which are cute and fluffy!

Do you live in or commute through a rural area? Do you have any tips for avoiding wildlife on the roads, or any stories related? I’d love to hear about them, so please leave me a comment below.