My think different t shirt
I watched the whole series of ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’ on ‘London Live’ last night, and learnt even more about homelessness than I knew already.
The programme was based around five rich volunteers (ranging from 21 – 39 years old) who gave up their money and possessions to put themselves in the position of being homeless. They endured 3 nights on the streets of London by themselves, apart from a visit from one of the organisers at some point and the camera crew were with them some of the time.
The next 3 nights were spent with a ‘buddy’. The buddy was either homeless themselves or they had been homeless in the past. Each one of them very different in their circumstances and both male and female.
The last 3 nights, for four of the volunteers, was spent in a London hostel.
The whole experiment unveiled the realities of homelessness, the types of people who were homeless (a pregnant woman, an academic, alcoholics, drug addicts…) and how they felt and survived on the streets or in hostels etc.
On the other hand, it highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the volunteers. We saw some very positive changes in some people, like Ravi, who has been money driven since his dad left the family home leaving Ravi to become the breadwinner for his mother. He was so money driven in the beginning he couldn’t understand how anyone could be on the streets and homeless. He thought they should all be like him and be able to pick themselves up and get a job. But, the point is that we are all individuals, with individual issues and traits, and most people do not choose to be on the streets, or if they find themselves on the streets, they can accidently get themselves into bad things like drink or drugs. Not just this, but there’s a serious lack of jobs in the UK and a person needs a fixed address to get a job, and many more things. Placed in a ‘wet’ hostel (a hostel where alcohol is allowed) called Arlington House, he was shocked by the realities of alcoholism and befriended one of the Irish men there. Ravi’s dad was a drinker.
Clementine Stewart was the biggest let down! At 21 she is a spoilt brat (daughter of Alastair Stewart) who even at the end talking about helping out homeless, she said she was too busy with her social life and eight ponies… Need I say more. However, I shall as she was so annoying and such a cheat! She asked for help from presenter Fern Britton, who let her into her apartment to clean up and gave her £20 when they were supposed to be making their own way without money and she even left the hostel because she was ‘bored’ and got her boyfriend to take her out for lunch and a glass of wine!
However, it was an interesting programme. I was touched by young Thomas (also twenty one) as he learnt so much, really got into his challenge and he was humbled by his experience. He also keeps in touch with some of the people he met in Aldgate hostel.
Charles was another contestant who we didn’t see a lot of. He was trying to decide whether to leave his dads farm. His dad was totally ignorant and suggested that homeless people are criminals and squatters who he would never want in his house. Personally, I could see why Charles wanted to leave his father’s home!
We simply must help stop the stigma of homelessness and educate people like Charles’ dad in the programme to understand that homeless does not equal lazy people or criminals. If I think of myself without support of any kind or mum and dad, or Chris, when I was in the darkest places a few years ago, I could well have ended up homeless too. I was impulsive and unable to look after money, I was totally depressed and suicidal at times and didn’t have any sense of who I was and my purpose in life. A breakdown, a break up, a redundancy, mental illness… there are so many reasons people end up on the streets homeless.
Females are more vulnerable on the streets, with sexual abuse and introduction to drugs being two of the worst things they face, so they do have priority over men when it comes to getting help and it is very sad that men get little help. Things need to change. I think things are getting a little better but it’s about time more people realised that poverty and homelessness does exist in the UK – in big numbers.
I wrote my book ‘Behind Those Eyes’ to try to help break the stigma surrounding homelessness – take a look on Amazon and I have set it as a FREE download from 27th August 2014 for a few days – I hope it helps break the stigma with a few more people …….Continue reading We need to reduce the stigma surrounding the homeless. Many of us are surrounded by homelessness yet choose to be ignorant. ‘Filthy Rich and Homeless’ on London Live…
So, we have come to the last day of my ‘Six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day six is all about using all our five senses consciously (if you are blessed with all five senses and if not, use all those that you do have )
I want you to think about everything that you smell, taste, feel/touch, see and hear today. This is a hard one in some ways as we often do not have time to take in absolutely everything, but our senses are there all the time if we wish to ‘plug in’ to them.
- So, really take time to taste anything you eat or drink or chew
- Take in all the smells around you
- Really look around at your surroundings – not to the point of danger if you are driving, but you know what I mean
- Listen out for any sounds, as they are always there
- And finally, be aware of the feeling of everything you come into contact with
Go back to my earlier posts to get the inspiration for some ways to use your senses and have a wonderful day! VIEW THEM ALL BY CLICKING HERE
How do you feel emotionally?
Really connecting with our five senses helps us to enjoy our time and surroundings and allows us to connect with our world more fully.
I would also like you to be aware of your breathing today, connecting with your own rhythm and your own being
Seals and wildlife
The more you practise these mindful techniques, the easier it will become for you to reach out to each ‘sense’.
We can change the way we are feeling because our senses are linked with emotions, so if we wish to feel more relaxed, we can use lavender oils or something that is relaxing for us, like eating a certain food or going somewhere beautiful in the fresh air. If we want to feel uplifted, we can watch a great film, listen to our favourite music or take a bicycle ride in the sunshine.
Everyone will have their own ‘comfort’ space or taste or smells and so on, and if we are aware of them, then we can use them to our benefit in everyday life.
So, I hope you have enjoyed the six day journey of my simple ‘sense’ mindfulness techniques, and that you feel better for practising …….Continue reading Day six (the last day) of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – today is all about using all the senses throughout the day…
My plants outdoor August 2014
So, we have come to day five of my six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day five is all about what we smell (if you are blessed with the sense of smell)
I want you to think about everything that you smell today. This is one that we do tend to notice more than other senses, as we come across many pungent smells, but we still do not notice everything automatically, so you still have some work to do!
Some obvious ones:
- Toast burning
- Coffee brewing
- Passing wind (sorry but it’s true)
- Grass after it’s been cut
- Fresh smell after it’s rained
- Everything you eat
So, some are nice smells, others not so nice, but taking notice of all of them is what is key here.
So concentrate, wherever you go. I want you to really smell everything. Things like…
- The smell inside your car
- The smell of your freshly laundered top as you put it on
- Reach out to smell flowers
- Really inhale the smell of your food
Other half of my outdoor plants August 2014
Anything at all that you smell – and you will smell many things during a whole day!
How do these smells make you feel?
We can change the way we are feeling because our senses are linked with emotions, so if we wish to feel more relaxed, we can use lavender oils or something that is relaxing for us. If we want to feel uplifted, we can make coffee or wash with fruity shower gels. We may have our own ‘comfort’ smells and if we are aware of them, then we can use them to our benefit. …….Continue reading Day five of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – today is all about the sense of smell…
The sound of flowing water and ducks quacking
So, here goes with day four of my six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day four is all about what we hear (if you are blessed with the sense of hearing)
I want you to think about everything that you hear today – and this is a huge one!
It might be:
- Alarm clock
- Phone ringing
- People talking in the background
- Conversation with someone
- Cat meowing
- Dog barking
- Children playing
These are fine, but I want you to concentrate on much more than this. I want you to really listen out for ALL noises. If you try hard enough, you will hear things that you would not normally even notice. Things like…
- Birds singing
- Faint train sounds
- Humming of the computer
- A plane going by overhead (wonder where they’re going?)
- The ‘pitter patter’ of rain on the windows
- Even the lack of sound when it comes to silence
Anything at all that you hear – and you will hear many things during a whole day!
A computer humming or a cat purring
How do these sounds make you feel?
Our senses are linked with emotions so if we eat something we really like, we may feel comforted, if we hear a slow song we really like, we may feel soothed. If we hear fast, loud music, we may feel energised. If we see a beautiful scene or flower, we may feel uplifted. And so on…
Really connecting with our five senses helps us to enjoy our time and surroundings and allows us to connect with our world more fully.
The more you practise these mindful techniques, the easier it will become for you to reach out to each ‘sense’. …….Continue reading Day four of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – all about sound and hearing…
I must say I am struggling this week with the news of Robin Williams suicide. I am so sorry that he felt unable to deal with the recent progression of Parkinson’s disease due to his depression and anxiety. What a lot to deal with! I cannot imagine what I would do in those circumstances and I cherish what I have, but when I hear of suicide it is with me every day and despite my planning of my 6 day mindfulness plan, I am struggling. I am now missing my group therapy which is the whole month of August! I know it is more than this news for me, as I have more issues than that, but it is definitely a trigger. It is so easy to give up yet so hard to keep going, even though I often feel ‘recovered’. But lives lost have to be a message to those of us who suffer with depression to carry on and not go down that slippery slope. I so wish that Robin and so many others could have won their battles with depression too. I hope that many more will seek help and support as a result of this sad passing. xxx
The sense of touch
Welcome to day three of my six days to mindfulness and better relaxation – day three is all about touch, which we should all be able to participate in.
I want you to think about everything that you touch today.
It might be:
- Stroking the cat
- Stroking the dog
- Your hair
- Soft dressing gown
- Slippers on your feet
- A cool duvet as you go to sleep
- A tin of food
- A glass
- A mug of hot tea
- An apple
- Computer keyboard
- Toilet cleaner bottle
- Washing the dishes
- Having a bath
Anything at all that you touch – and you will touch many things during a whole day!
A rough wall and the tread of concrete underfoot
Titus my cat and his soft fur
However, I want you to go further than what you touch by hand. I want you to think about how your whole body ‘feels’ whilst
- Sat in a chair (comfortable, back ache, posture, hard chair…)
- Sat on the sofa (soft, cosy…)
- Sat in the car
- Lying in bed
- At work
- Laying on grass in a park
- The wind blows through your hair
- The sun shines warm on your face
- Walking on hard concrete or spongy grass
Whilst you are doing anything during the day, are you
Lastly, I would like you to sit comfortably, or lay down preferably, and for a few minutes, just concentrate on how you feel from your toes up to your head, one limb or area at a time. Slowly. Let your back or bum sink into the chair, bed or whatever you are on. Let your arms relax as you take notice of them. Let your head go heavy. Once you have found a relaxed position, just stay there for a few minutes and try to keep focussed on how you feel.
DONE! So if you did all of that, well done! I hope you feel more relaxed!
The more you practise these mindful techniques, the easier it will become for you to reach out to each ‘sense’ …….Continue reading Day three of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – today is all about touch and feeling…
fruit smoothie and acidophilus
So, here’s day two of my six days to mindfulness and better contentment – day two is all about taste, so let’s go…
I want you to think about everything that you taste today (obviously if you are blessed with the sense of taste)
Everything you eat or drink, whether it’s:
- Fizzy water
- Ice cream
A nice cup of tea
vegan chocolate cake
The idea is that you take in ‘everything’ that you taste, in detail. (hopefully healthy stuff, despite my mixed list there!)
Really ‘taste’ everything and enjoy the flavour. Eat or drink ‘mindfully’
This can even be good for eating issues and can be a great comfort for us generally.
If it’s a drink, is it warm, cold or hot? Is it strongly flavoured or mild?
If it’s food, what texture is it? How does it taste? Is it delicious? If not, why not? Try something else.
Hopefully this is easy for you.
Really tasting our food, chewing it properly, enjoying it – it is all good for our digestion, our feeling of fullness, our comfort within, and it can be soothing and uplifting. So, just try to concentrate on what you taste today and I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I will, as I will do this too. …….Continue reading Day two of my ‘Six days to simple mindfulness and relaxation’ – all about taste…
Titus, my cat, and some of my plants
I want to try to share with you some of my tips in coping day to day, which I use.
So, this is the start of my six days to mindfulness and better contentment – day one is all about sight, so let’s go…
I want you to think about everything that you ‘see’ today (obviously if you are blessed with the sense of sight) Our minds take in so much on a day to day basis, it’s incredible, but I am talking about what you ‘really’ see, not just what your sub conscious sees.
I, like everyone, spend much time in thought; busy working out what I’m doing next, or what has happened, or what might happen, that it takes me away from the present moment. And to really ‘live our lives’ not just exist in them, we need to be ‘in the now’ not the past or the future. (although obviously we cannot do it all the time and we do need to plant, that is a different matter)
So, everywhere you go today, have a good look around, whether it’s at:
- Blue skies
- Your home
- Your garden
- New areas
- The colours and enticement of your food
My purple Hydrangeas
My pizza with a view
The idea is that you take in ‘everything’ that you see, in detail.
Really ‘look’ at everything and find more details in those things.
If it’s a flower, take in the colour, the shape, the status.
If it’s a person, look at the colour of their eyes, their skin; their stance.
If it’s the sky, take in the colours, the shapes of the clouds; the whole hugeness of it.
Get the gist?
Looking at details surrounding us is soothing and uplifting, so try just doing that today, and I hope you will benefit from it. …….Continue reading Six days to simple mindfulness and better contentment – day one is all about sight…
R.I.P. Robin Williams. Alcohol and drugs can create depression or vice versa and take too many victims via the physical harm caused by the substances or suicide by the depression. I feel blessed that I have managed to keep alcohol and drugs just about in control, no matter how many times I have been or am on the brink, but am also always aware that the path to both is full of quick sand pot holes, as it were. I am so sorry that Robin couldn’t stay on the road of recovery. A great actor.
Far too many people with mental illness turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of feeling something – drunk can feel better than the negative symptoms, and it is a way of blotting out the pain of those symptoms. Vice versa, drug or alcohol abuse can cause issues for us mentally, so we can actually bring on mental health issues via substance abuse. It can become a vicious circle of one leading the other, and is very difficult to break. People in these situations need to have a will to get out of their situation, they need support from loved ones and they need medical and professional intervention. Often group therapy can help too.
But once we have addiction of any kind, we are always an ex not a non. ie a person who was addicted to smoking cigarettes will always be an ex-smoker, not a non-smoker, as it is a life long journey and effort to never smoke again. I have seen so many people give up something and then one little thing happens and they think they can just have ‘one’ of whatever it is and be OK. Next thing, they are addicted again and cannot stop. But, they can stop and we have to think positively and seek the help that they need to do so.
When it comes to mental illness and substance abuse/addiction, it is very important that people who have not experienced such things learn about the dangers and warning signs. Stigma often gets in the way of people’s ideas and understanding as it is easy to say ‘Get a grip’ or just bury their heads in the sand, but with a little compassion, a little time and a little empathy, people can be a positive influence on those suffering, rather than a negative one.
Stigma can kill just as substances can or mental turmoil can. Let’s try to help eh
To read more of my posts about stigma and how to help CLICK HERE (opens in a new window)
I strongly believe that Robins death will be a huge lesson to many and that this tragedy will help the cause for preventing suicide and for helping those with mental health issues and addictions. I hope people feeling suicidal or depressed will reach out for help. x
How many people do you know suffering from a mental illness?
I know many and some of those people are so good at covering up the truth via a happy face and bubbly personality (including myself) that it’s very hard to know how people really feel sometimes.
And it’s not always about money, as is clear when these adversities happen to the rich and famous. Mental illness and addiction and substance abuse can happen to a wide range of people. CLICK HERE to see my list of 300 famous people who have suffered with a mental health issue.
Sharing some of my experience of alcohol addiction and abuse CLICK HERE
…….Continue reading R.I.P. Robin Williams. Alcohol and drugs can create depression or vice versa and take too many victims…
Me aged 8 months
I have never shared any photos of me (well not my face anyway) and Amanda Green is my pen name, but I thought it was about time to put picture to story and share one of me when I was a baby. In this photo I was just eight months old. If you have read my memoirs then you will know an awful lot about my life and those close to me, but it’s something to add to the text.
Here’s an excerpt from ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’ from that time…
‘I was born ten days early. It’s probably the first and last time I have been early for anything.
I was, apparently, beautiful but don’t the nurses always say that? Aren’t they supposed to say that?
My baby photos show such an innocent child, with big blue eyes set in my soft, round face. It’s hard to see that this tiny child would end up promiscuous, attention seeking and out of control.
I guess life moulds us all.
I remember the family home, growing up. We moved there when I was one, from a two-bed bungalow. We needed the space. You always needed space when there were six of you. Of course then I was just a bundle – what space did I need? So there were six of us: Mum, Dad and three brothers, Ian, David and Peter … seven, ten and twelve years older than me. I might have been one of six, but being the only girl, and so much …….Continue reading A picture paints a… Photo of me as a baby of eight months and excerpt from my first memoir ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’ of about that time…