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You are enough, you are so enough.

As one of my favourite Instagram quotes goes, “You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.”

Every year we are bombarded with messages of “New Year New You.” That when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st you have to start transforming into the brightest, sparkliest, perfect version of yourself. Your old self must be binned off with all the mistakes and failings of the previous 12 months forgotten and left behind with your previous inferior self. This is the moment to set the whole tone for the year, to decide how it is going to go and commit fully to pushing forward. It’s completely exhausting.

BECAUSE WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW, IS FANTASTIC

The idea that if we don’t seize this opportunity to make the changes we want we might get stuck the way we are for another year, can go straight in the bin. Because who you are right now, is fantastic. Thus far, you’ve done really well. You got yourself to here, to this point, reading this. You have learnt incredible lessons, achieved wonderful things and kept yourself alive on this planet. You got through all of your very worst days, months and years to get to now. This wonderful shiny version of yourself. You don’t need fixing or changing, you just need to know right now you are the best you’ve ever been. Because there is no other time but now and now is where all the good stuff happens.

You are making little changes every single day. There are tiny wins that propel you forward all of the time. We just don’t notice them because we are too focused on the big fat goals we’ve set up for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve, but the danger is we get stuck on becoming that future self and forget who we are right now. If we’re fixating on becoming an improved version of ourselves, it’s easy to dismiss the current self as inferior or just not good enough.

You don’t have to wait to live your best life. You don’t have to put yourself on hold waiting for things to fall into place. You don’t have to wait any longer to appreciate who you are or waste any more time hating parts of yourself and wishing they would change. Eradicate that feeling of not being good enough by celebrating all of the things you achieve every single day. Self-celebration isn’t about waiting until big massive changes have happened. It’s about celebrating who you are right now and how well you are doing.

YOU WERE ENOUGH, YOU ARE ENOUGH AND YOU ALWAYS WILL BE ENOUGH

Rather than looking at all of things you want to change and better about yourself, let’s do a review of things that went well over the last 12 months. Really try and place yourself in the feeling of a certain time and remember something that was really good, no matter how tiny. If it helps to go back over the months and choose one thing from each month, try it that way. I find looking back over social posts or my diary really helpful to remind me what I did. Did you overcome a really difficult morning? Perfected a new recipe (even if it was only an omelette!!?) Got a friend’s birthday card to them on time? Wrapped even one single Christmas present? All of these things added up to your glorious year so let’s honour them. Let’s celebrate all of the things that you did and how brilliant you were in the last 12 months.

Right now you are doing your best. You are the best version of yourself to date. You were enough, you are enough and you always will be enough. So in 2019 don’t beat yourself up for all of the things you haven’t done, instead celebrate the incredible things you do all the time.

And now the reasons why you ought to make yoga part of your routine!

Unsurprisingly, I am asked so often about why I do yoga, why other people should do it, and what it can do for them. One of the first things I tell people is that the reasons that I started and continue to do yoga are very personal, just as it should be for them.

It’s not that I don’t share those reasons when I’m talking with people one on one, but the point I try to make is that yoga is different for everyone.

Yes, there are visible physical benefits to yoga, but for me it quickly became so much more than that. So much more in fact that I retrained to share it with you all! So, as we enter the month of resolutions, how about making one which I predict you may just carry on beyond February.

Here are five of the greatest reasons to practice yoga.

1. Yoga has tremendous physical benefits.

Practicing intensive yoga formats such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and other forms of Power yoga will absolutely make changes in your body. You could lose weight, and you will most definitely strengthen and tone.

What you won’t see coming is that as your body grows stronger, so will your mind. You will develop increased focus, patience, and self-awareness. You will probably also find yourself wanting to know more about yoga, which means you will research it, and as a result become objectively smarter, too.

2. Yoga relieves stress.

You will learn to BREATHE differently in yoga and you will learn to use that breath in everyday situations. The saying “take a deep breath” is much more than a saying as you come to understand how breath gives you the power to control your emotions in many situations, including moments of stress.

What you won’t see coming is that you will soon unconsciously be breathing in situations before you react…and that can mean the difference between having an argument and using mental and emotional clarity to reach a solution.

3. Yoga relieves pain.

I want to be very careful with this point, and not to be self-serving as a yoga teacher looking for pay. Yoga practiced under the guidance of a knowledgeable, trained teacher can be used as an alternative form of pain management.

Numerous studies have proven the effects of yoga on patients with back pain, arthritis, difficult pregnancies, headaches, heart disease, and so much more. Even athletes who practice Yin or Restorative yoga will find that their injuries and post-workout soreness will greatly diminish.

What you won’t see coming is that yoga will also benefit “pains” in your body you may not even be aware of. Your digestive system may be energized and cleansed, your circulation could improve, and your joints will become more limber and lubricated.

Plus, yoga can have a positive effect on helping to boost your immunity, which also means less days of pain from colds, the flu, and other illnesses.

4. Yoga can connect you to the Divine of your choosing.

So much of yoga practice is more than just the asanas (postures). The calmness, the calls to relaxation, reflection, and meditation and will soon have you thinking and feeling more “spiritual.” If that is a scary word to you, please just take a minute to keep reading.

Spiritual can mean many things: it can mean being more centered, it can mean being religious, it can mean being connected to the Universe, or it can just mean being more reverent in whatever way you want to be—with nature, with your religion, with your time, with things that have meaning to you.

What you won’t see coming is that you will begin seeing the world around you differently. You will become introspective, yes, but at the same time, you will want to begin bringing more happiness and positivity into your world.

It won’t stop there. Your happiness and positivity will extend out to those around you—and we all know the world can use more happiness and positivity.

5. Yoga will give you 60 minutes of time for just you.

While that may sound selfish, when you really think about it, how much time do you ever give yourself to disconnect and just be? Unless you march to the beat of a different drum and already do yoga, you are probably listening, talking, planning, watching, reading, or typing most of your day.

For 60 minutes, you can step on a mat to breathe deeply into your body to either sort everything out or to let it all go. It’s 60 minutes that will help make you a better person, mentally and physically.

What you won’t see coming is that at first, 60 minutes a few days a week may seem like a long time, but before you know it, 60 minutes six days a week won’t be enough. You will want to realign your life so that you will always have space for yoga.

Time to stop reading and hit the mat!

This year, I resolve to stick to my resolutions! Here’s how!

Are you trying to create a new healthy habit? Piggyback it on something you do anyway. Want to run more? Put on your running shoes instead of your regular shoes, says Dr Sean Young, a world expert in making new habits stick.

This is a strategy he’s created called “magnetic behaviour”. “If we already do something regularly, we can then pair up that behaviour with a new behaviour we want to start doing,” he says. It’s about building a habit, making it easier and ingraining it into your life.

Founder of the UCLA Center for Digital Behaviour, Young has made a life study of successful behaviour change. People who follow his strategies are “nearly three times as likely to change their behaviour as people who did not”, he tells me. His new book, Stick With It: The Science Of Lasting Behaviour, was a Wall Street Journal bestseller when it came out in the US last year.

New Year’s resolutions are a bit like bad relationships

OK, I’m sold. But, for many, New Year’s resolutions are a bit like bad relationships. At first, they’re alive with possibility and potential, and we have a huge fantasy of this being The One that works out. By mid February, they’ve either ended abruptly or fizzled out, and we’re back on the wine or sugar, off the yoga mat or treadmill.

Young tells me how he cured a gym-going relapse. “I used to go to the gym on campus pretty regularly. Then, at a certain point, I stopped going as frequently. If someone would have seen my behaviour, they probably would have said he’s gotten lazy or tired or he’s older now – he doesn’t have time or isn’t as motivated to go.”

If we already do something regularly, we can then pair up that behaviour with a new behaviour we want to start doing. It’s about building a habit.

But the real reason that he didn’t go is because he’d moved office and it now took 40 minutes in traffic to drive to the gym.

His first step was making going to the gym easier. “I joined a gym across the street from my work.” Now, this is the clever bit, the magnetic behaviour: “I carry around a gym bag with me. When I walk to my car every day at the end of work, I can’t go to my car without passing the gym and I’m wearing my gym bag while I’m doing it. What I’ve done is paired a behaviour I do every day – leaving work – with having my gym bag while walking past the gym.” Now, he’s back to being a regular gym-goer.

Can he suggest a magnetic behaviour if you want to drink more water? “If you bring your lunch to work with you – something you’re used to doing every day – then add a water bottle,” he says. Or pair it up with checking social media (I’d definitely have done my two litres by 11am some days).

So, what about a popular resolution to do yoga every damn day? The problem with this challenge, according to Young, is that it’s way too vague.

Resolutions that stick are broken down into small steps

Resolutions that stick are broken down into small steps, which he calls stepladders. “We plan to do all kinds of resolutions that are equivalent to the marathon without having trained for it.”

So, 10 minutes of yoga a day? That’s doable. Now, we need to work out how to make getting on the mat happen.

“Think: what is preventing you? What is getting in the way?” It may be just a question of making time; time we can easily waste on social media. He suggests a magnetic behaviour linked to clothes: when we get changed out of our work clothes, put your yoga clothes next to the clothes you normally change into. (I’m going to try this in reverse: before I get dressed in the morning, I’m going to do 10 minutes of yoga in my pyjamas!)

“The way actually to control our thoughts is to first control our behaviour, then our thoughts will follow.”

Even if you’re the most optimistic of positive thinkers, you can’t rely on that to get you doing whatever new behaviour you want to try, says Young. The only way to change is by doing it. “The way actually to control our thoughts is to first control our behaviour, then our thoughts will follow.”

Start with small, specific steps – ones you can fit into your day

Start with small, specific steps – ones you can fit into your day. Not crowbarring vague or giant or difficult changes into your life – because they just won’t last. Young makes change sound a lot more doable and, this year, it just might be.

10 reasons why you should NEVER do yoga!!

Thinking of taking up yoga for the New Year? Read this before you do as, yoga may seriously change your life……………..

You know, we yoga fanatics tout the benefits of yoga like it is going out of style. For most of us, it is because yoga has so profoundly changed our lives that we want to shout about it from the rooftops.

Some of us actually DO shout it from the rooftops.

But the truth is, yoga does have a dark side. There are some legitimate reasons why someone may want to consider avoiding starting or maintaining a practice. In order to save you from any pain or suffering, here is the list of reasons why you should skip practice.

1. It Will Ruin Chili Cheese Fries

When you have a regular  practice, you are going to notice the effects that the foods you eat have on your body on a whole new level. To the point that you may actually feel like giving up some of your oh-so-tasty but oh-so-stomachache-inducing foods. If you are a foodie, you may want to steer clear of the yoga mat.

2. It Will Put A Downer On Your Late Nights

Getting on your mat after a late night out, or a night filled with one or two too many Netflix episodes may become so unpleasant that you turn into an early bird – both in rising and in going to sleep. Your party days may be slightly numbered.

3. Love Drama? Skip Yoga

It is pretty difficult to maintain a life of drama when you have a dedicated yoga practice. In fact, you may become someone who so enjoys peace that other people stop wanting to talk to you, because you just don’t get sucked into their dramas anymore, let alone your own.

4. It Will Make You Have To Take Responsibility

The mat is generally a mirror for people, and this means you are going to notice all the places you are blaming other people for the things that are going on in your life – and you may discover that it is not really their fault at all.

You may even come to the conclusion that you have the power to stand up and make the changes in your life that will make you happier. If you really like blaming others, yoga may not be that great for you.

5. It Will Suck The Fun Out Of Judging People

Again, where pointing out the faults of others used to be kind of fun, now it just feels mean. You are most likely going to want to spend more of your time talking about all the amazing things the people in your life are doing – which may be a real downer for some of your friends out who still enjoy a gossip fest.

6. It Will Ruin Your Wardrobe

You used to have nice things. Now you just have 1,000 pairs of yoga pants. What happened to you?

7. It Will Make You Cry In Public

If you are not into public displays of emotion, then yoga is most likely not for you. You never know when the teacher is going to say just the right thing, or when you are going to go into just the right heart opener and the water works will be turned on.

8. It Will Make You Feel Your Feelings

Getting in touch with your body means you will get more in touch with your mind, which inevitably is going to lead to your emotions. If you are someone who wants to run from how you feel, you should most likely run from yoga.

9. It Will Open Your Hips, Your Shoulders And Your Heart

The softer your body becomes, the softer your heart is most likely to become. You will be opening the stiff parts of your body, along with the stiff parts of your deepest self. Yoga is steeped in tradition and spirituality – most hearts do not make it out still hardened.

10. It Will Ruin Your Relationship With Anything That Is Self-Destructive

And yes, this includes even the fun, self-destructive things. You are going to connect in with yourself, and start to notice how all your habits are affecting you. This may just ruin all your desires to drink, smoke, swear, stay up late, eat fast food and drive really fast. If you love your life the way it is now, then don’t take up yoga.

Hopefully, you can sense the jest of this post! Of course there are yoginis who still drink, smoke, swear and eat less than optimal food—they just tend to be a lot more mindful about it.

In all truth, yoga can and most likely will change your life. However, you are still in the driver’s seat and can take it at a pace that works for you. Happy Bending!

Why I feel for Cheryl Cole

Whilst admitting to never having watched an episode of The X Factor in my life, I did feel a degree of sympathy for Cheryl Cole who apparently has been watching her recent performance on repeat after dividing opinions on her singing.

MY INNER CRITIC HAS BEEN VERY BUSY

My own inner critic has been very busy as I’ve just co-hosted a big event and found myself, just like Cheryl, replaying my yoga class over and over and asking myself ‘Did they enjoy it?’  ‘Someone yawned….were they bored? (It was a restorative class, designed to release tension and aid relaxation!)’ ‘I’m sure I wasn’t as good as the others’.

If you start counting the times that you hear other women say, “Oh, but I don’t want other people to think that…” in my experience, you soon run out of numbers to count with. Or you can even count the number of times you think it to yourself without saying it out loud. “Oh, but I don’t want other people to think that… I’m stupid… I’m fat… I’m out of my depth… I’m a bad mother… I’m not experienced enough for this job… I don’t know what I’m talking about… I’m greedy… I’ve got no friends… I’m desperate… I’m getting above myself… I’ve got a big ego… I’m too self-promoting… I’m big-headed…” Basically, insert whatever insult for yourself you’ve dreamt up here. We all have our own different ways to end the sentence, “Oh, but I don’t want other people to think that…”

You get the message. There is no end to the things we don’t want other people to think about us. And not only do we not want them to even think these things, but, also, we want to control the likelihood of them thinking them at all. So, often, we censor ourselves completely from doing the things that might mean other people would think these things in the first place.

So, you don’t say what you wanted to say in a meeting, in case someone else might know more than you. You don’t book the weekend away, because your mother-in-law will raise her eyebrows. You don’t apply for the dream job, because you don’t fit every single last word of the job spec. You don’t ask for the raise, because you already had a small raise two years ago (even though you just found out a colleague is on a lot more than you). And you change out of trousers into a skirt, because the trousers made your thighs look extremely large, indeed.

The trouble is, we don’t listen to ourselves when we say either out loud or in our heads – “I don’t want other people to think that… (I’m greedy/I’m up myself/I’m too demanding/I’m selfish…)” If we were listening carefully, we would hear the first part of the sentence: “I don’t want other people to think.” Say that again to yourself: “I don’t want other people to think.” How strange is that? We actually harbour a secret wish that other people should have no thoughts whatsoever, that they should not be allowed to think anything. If we could control them, we would want them to think only good things about us. As we can’t control them, we just don’t want them to think at all.

NONE OF US CAN EVER STOP ANYONE FROM THINKING ANYTHING.

It’s fantastically useful to focus on what a crazy wish this is. None of us can ever stop anyone from thinking anything. They may think all kinds of wonderful and terrible things about us. They may think that finally someone has said what needs saying in those interminable pointless meetings. They may think that you’re brave and assertive to take a break from parenting and that you’re fostering independence in your kids by leaving them for a weekend.  Or they may think that you are the most terrible person they have ever had the misfortune of encountering. The point is: there is no point in trying to control or influence the thoughts of others, as they are entitled to think what they like. And, actually, their thoughts have very little bearing on us and we often won’t even find out what their thoughts were.

LET US STOP INWARDLY TROLLING OURSELVES

The moment we think, “Oh, but I don’t want other people to think that…” is a moment when we are actually trolling ourselves before anyone has even had a chance to say or think anything. Let us stop inwardly trolling ourselves. Let us stop imagining that we can anticipate, prevent or control the thoughts of others. Bring on the next workshop!!

Wabi-sabi; nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect

Embrace the perfectly imperfect

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy often described as appreciating the beauty in imperfection. Like so many words which are lost in translation, it’s hard to distil wabi-sabi into a single definition or translation which does justice to its nuances. But, broadly speaking wabi-sabi embraces the following 3 ideas;  ‘nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect’.

In Japanese, the meanings and connotations of wabi and sabi have evolved over time. Wabi was associated with a specific kind of loneliness and solitude. Imagine what it felt like to be a hermit, living in remote nature. Sabi was associated with withering, rusting, tarnishing—the natural progression of things. This thought has developed over time where loneliness and solitude were seen as wise and freeing, and the imperfections resulting from the natural progression of life and things were embraced as the beauty of change.

The lessons of wabi-sabi

Wabi-sabi is often associated with a sense of peace with the natural progression of life. Accepting that life and things are impermanent allows us to appreciate the beauty and melancholy of it. For example, a wooden table that has aged over the years may seem decrepit and ugly. Discovering wabi-sabi is to see the beauty of imperfection and change.

But it can also teach us much more about ourselves and how we view the world around us:

– Instead of focusing on what could be, wabi-sabi focuses on appreciating what is—the ordinary, old and incomplete.

– Suffering or pain, the ugliness of life, are just like the imperfections of an old table. They are a natural part of life that requires acceptance and appreciation.

Wabi-sabi in everyday life

Wabi-sabi in daily life doesn’t require us to be an expert in design or philosophy. It’s a shift in perspective from one that chases perfection to one that appreciates what is. It’s up to you to decide how wabi-sabi fits into your life. It could mean being more accepting of your flaws, practising gratitude, listening more or finding beauty in the ordinary. It could also be as simple as appreciating the autumn leaves or making peace with the stains on your carpet.

Love is….the absence of judgement – Dali Lama

October’s intention of non-judgement is subtle, after all, judging a comment, a person or action are things that happen within a split second. Before we know it we’ve created a belief or a habitual thinking pattern that can be hard to shift. Thankfully, the practices of yoga and meditation can help us figuratively slow things down, so we’re able to take a step back and observe our emotions, thoughts and reactions. When do we judge others, and why? How does judging affect us, and how can we overcome it? Read on for some inspiration on living your yoga in the world this month, and infusing your actions with the intention of non-judgement.

To Judge Another….

We’ve all been there; judging another person based upon how they look, what they say, or what they’ve done in the past. Judgement however, is only based upon our own perceptions and life experience, and entirely made up of our own personal thoughts and opinions. To judge another person only limits our life experience, closes us off from making a connection with them, and ultimately prevents us from experiencing reality.

The primal act of judging does originally come from a useful place – once used for deciphering whether a plant was safe to eat or an animal safe to approach, our judgements are now reserved for comparing ourselves to other people, and how we might measure up to them. Judgement and comparison go hand-in-hand, and these reactions stem from a place of lack, fear, and essentially not feeling grounded and comfortable with who we are. The barometer for measuring ‘normality’ is entirely inaccurate – how do we know what ‘normal’ is, or how ‘normal’ we are compared to another? Should we even all desire to be ‘normal’ anyway?

Forgoing the act of judging altogether may take many years of mindfulness and practice, but there is something we can do when we catch ourselves judging another; we can choose whether to let that judgement blur our experience of reality, hinder our ability to be fully present and open to new experiences, or we can choose to observe our thoughts and emotions, and approach the situation with fresh awareness. Non-judgement is like taking off a pair of smeared glasses; we’re able to see a person or situation for what it really is, experience it as it really is, and be in the moment for what it really, really is.

Some questions to ask or journal when you’re feeling judgemental:

·     Do I know the full story behind this person / event / object?

·     Through judging this person / event / object, how do I decide to react?

·     What does this judgement reflect about myself?

·     Through judging this person / event / object, what do I miss out on?

Live Your Yoga This Month

October 10th marked World Mental Health Day, opening our eyes to the reality and suffering many people go through on a daily basis.  We all have mental health, it’s just a case of how healthy our mental state is, and just like the rest of our physical and emotional health, it can change constantly. The current statistics tell us that there are about 8.2 million cases of diagnosed anxiety in the UK, with depression being the most predominant mental health problem world-wide. Practice living your yoga in the world this month by casting judgements aside and putting compassion, acceptance and a friendly face in its place.  

Don’t know your asanas from your elbow? Read on!

I’m always being asked to describe my yoga style to prospective clients and, I must confess, it’s the hardest question to answer. Truth be told, I’m just not sure!

Even though I spend my working life in front of the class, I have always made time to reverse the role and become the student. The experience is totally different; in the former, I’m responsible for the wellbeing of others while, as a student, I’m solely responsible for myself.

LIKE A YOGA MAGPIE, I COLLECT SHINY IDEAS

And, the teaching of others informs my own practice and how I deliver my own classes. So, if I’ve been to a particularly fiery vinyasa flow, my planning may reflect that the following week. Similarly, after my weekly yin class, I may tune in to this sense of calmness and teach a chilled out practice, focussing on turning the spotlight inward using more meditation and pranayama. Like a yoga magpie, I collect shiny ideas to feather my mat with; ideas drawn not just from other teachers. The natural world, poetry, loved ones…the sources are many and varied. Life offers a rich seam to be mined.

YOGA OFFERS SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY….AND EVERY BODY!

Whatever style of yoga floats your boat, this helpful article describes just some of the options available. Yoga offers something for everybody….and every body!

https://www.theguardian.com/freedom-to-move/2018/oct/22/from-yin-to-iyengar-a-yoga-glossary?

 

 

Just let it go!

As we transition into Autumn, this junction point of the year which marks the start of a new season, it is the perfect opportunity to make time to consciously let go of something,  anything that no longer serves you. Here is a short meditation practice to support you in the process…

A meditation to let go

To start, find a comfortable seat – somewhere that you can sit for a few minutes. (Use props to support you and perhaps a blanket to cover you in case your body temperature drops.)

Close your eyes and soften the muscles in your face. Take a few deep breaths and feel the contact of your body with the ground. Allow your sit bones to drop into the ground and the crown of your head to reach towards the sky. Taking a few moments to arrive and settle into your body.

Bring to mind something that you’re struggling with, something that you’re finding difficult to let go of. As you do this, notice where you feel the struggle in your body. For example – your chest. Now, place a hand on your chest and notice the comforting warmth of your hand on this part of your body.

Quietly say, “My peace is worth more to me than this. I choose to let this go”.

Repeat this process as many times as you need until the struggle or tension in your body begins to ease.

When you’re ready to bring your practice to a close, simply take a few deep breaths and slowly open your eyes. 

Make it ‘Easy, always, always, easy’

This is a practice you can come back to any time. And remember to make it “easy, always, always, easy”.

I want to leave you with this very special poem written by Safire Rose that has recently inspired my own process of letting go. For me, her words beautifully capture the quiet, simple process of surrender and I hope they can inspire you too…

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

SEPTEMBER IS THE REAL NEW YEAR!

After a long hot summer, September has finally swept in with its cool air, crisp leaves and back-to-school excitement – it’s the perfect month to get going again

Finally, I’ve been anticipating it for ages. Don’t get me wrong, I adored the heady heat of August – I’m as partial to seaside swims and sandy sandwiches as the next person. But there’s something innately hopeful about September. Spring may be the season of hopping lambs and blooming buds but, for me, after the hen-dos, holidays and hedonism of high summer, autumn seems like a wonderful time for renewal.

Perhaps this is paradoxical given nature is in fact shutting down for the year – but with the change in temperature, comes a change in temperament. One crisp morning has the clarifying effect of an ice bath – and I’m suddenly prepared to tackle to the projects I’d been putting off for months.

Summer isn’t the season for studiousness – it’s all sun and sand and sea – and good god it’s great. But now I’m tanned and I’m tired and I’m ready for change. It’s a symptom of living in a perpetually precipitous nation – feeling we must soak up the sunshine whenever it strikes – because we never know when it might be back.

BUT NOW I’M TANNED AND I’M TIRED AND I’M READY FOR CHANGE

So, the recent heatwave, while phenomenal, did put something of a dampener on any plans to be productive. “I must make the most of it:” words I said daily for the duration of July and August: “If I don’t enjoy the sunshine now, I won’t get another chance until next year.” But on and on the summer went, glorious sunshine after glorious sunshine.

Unremitting loveliness which made productivity non-existent. But I’ve eaten one too many magnums and now feel the overwhelming need for soup, a new pencil case and a fresh notepad: a clean slate.

Oh, the joyful symbolism of a new notepad: a new school term: a chance to reinvent yourself, or at the very least, your handwriting. I think we got New Year wrong. January is a terrible time to suddenly uphaul your entire life – when you have half a fridgeful of leftovers and 10 hours of The Crown to get through. It should be now, after the buzz of beach life – when we’re all brimming with ideas stored up over summer and still have residual tans from our week in the sun.

The ensuing months will be darker and colder, but September is all ephemeral light and rust coloured leaves and jacket potatoes and Bake Off being back on the telly. It’s still warm enough for skirts but a woolly jumper wouldn’t be completely out of the question and the hedgerows are jewelled with ripe fruit, so crumble is always on the cards. Crucially, it’s time to go back to school. And as the kids reluctantly return to the classroom, now is the time for us to get back to work too.

It’s time to start tapping away at those goals we set nine months ago, without Christmas specials to distract us. It’s time to opt for fresh vegetables and hearty stews, instead of bread rolls and barbeque food. It’s time to start afresh.

So, while friends lament the declining hours of sunshine, I welcome cloudy days and drawn-out nights with open arms. To me, the cold and dark are comforting. Perhaps now I’ll finally get something done.

BE FILLED WITH A SENSE OF JUBILANT OPTIMISM THAT THIS YEAR JUST MIGHT BE YOUR YEAR.

After a long summer, September, is the time to reset: to feel the crunch underfoot as you walk through the park, welcoming the crisp breeze as it intermingles with the warm air and the auburn leaves as they float down towards the baked earth.

It’s time to give that thing you wanted to do another go, to turn to page one of your new notebook, write your name in your neatest handwriting and be filled with a sense of jubilant optimism that this year just might be your year.