It’s both embarrassing and frustrating when you discover your well-meaning attempts at heroic leadership have kept you and your team stuck in a cycle of mediocrity. You’re exhausted, they’re frustrated, and everyone’s underperforming. Dave McKeown draws on wisdom and experience to give you the insights to break the cycle, and a plan to actually change the way you lead.” – Michael Bungay Stanier, Bestselling author of The Coaching Habit.

We are in challenging and changing times. The world around us, the systems, global economy, our inner world, the planet emergency and technological advancements are all shifting and changing at great speeds. The old way is falling away and we are being called to examine how we operate in this changing world and to find new ways of being.

My interest in exploring new ways of being covers several aspects of my life, from personal growth and development, spiritual development, creativity, teaching, running an online business through to working in a larger organisation that is experiencing the early stages of change and future evolution.

We know that businesses and entrepreneurs are experiencing a range of challenges in the contemporary world such as economic pressures, downsizing, increasing productivity, keeping up with technological advancements. Alongside this leaders’ need to increase productivity possibly with fewer people and resources, operate within tighter deadlines and retain staff.

The Self-Evolved Leader by Dave McKeown is an easy to follow book with a 15 week guided plan to implement the theories and ideas contained in the book.  The book is aimed at primarily at individuals and it does not matter what your leadership position, industry or geography may be. This book is about changing the individual to lead to change in leadership. Dave quotes Robert Anderson and William Adams “The organization will never perform at a higher level than the consciousness of its leadership”. With this in mind The Self-Evolved Leader provides a model to follow in order to grow and set you apart as a self-evolved leader.

The ideas can be shared with leadership teams and this model can act as a catalyst for change in organisations. Change in large organisations can be difficult particularly if old methods and ways of thinking are embedded. The Self-Evolved Leader explains how new ways of thinking can be adopted and integrated into large organisations. This book signposts more effective ways of operating and how to make a bigger impact. This is an opportunity to get ahead of competitors and be a leader in the fullest sense.

The book is clearly structured to lead you on a journey of development. Firstly to shift the mindset away from heroic leadership towards leading with the intent to develop your team. The second part focuses on how to create a compelling vision to inspire your team, devise implementation strategy and develop key disciplines to sharpen your focus and elevate the team. The next stage is to build an implementation rhythm to get closer to your vision and finally develop key disciplines to keep you and your team on track.

The Self-Evolved Leader is designed as an instruction manual and a guide to getting the best out of yourself, your team and your organisation. You can work at whatever pace suits you but Dave is clear in his recommendation that you follow the book chronologically as he has designed the book to build your skills and knowledge on the journey, each step building on the next.

McKeown outlines five key disciplines within the book:

  • Reclaiming your attention: Protecting your headspace to give you more time to focus on the important things you need to work on rather than getting sucked into the urgent.
  • Facilitating team flow: Managing the inputs to, around, and out from your team in a way that keeps you focused on achieving your current goals and at the same time develops each team member.
  • Supporting high performance: Helping your team discover the root cause of their issues, so they can assess the options in front of them by themselves. Then, encouraging them to devise a plan of action and backing their decision.
  • Having symbiotic conversations: Having conversations that allow all parties the freedom to express their reality without fear of judgment. The focus should be to find the best outcome for the team as a whole and for the individuals within it, and the conversation will conclude with a clear next action that empowers people to opt-in and supports those who choose to opt-out.
  • Building shared accountability: Building the environment that allows your team to set, achieve, and celebrate their collective goals.

The Self-Evolved Leader is a practical book providing guidance and tools to help you get more done in less time, stop managing from crisis to crisis, get better results as a team and increase the value and impact your organisation can bring to your community. The 15 week plan provides a clear structure for developing and implementing the five key disciplines. There are free resources that accompany book such as videos and activities which support your learning and development. We can review and fine tune our actions so that we can move forward towards our goals and to improve as leaders.

We are in exciting and challenging times which can test us. This is a time to develop our creativity and innovation. We can develop and expand who we are individually and as an organisation. I would recommend using this book as part of your journey and development.

Dave McKeown is the CEO of Outfield Leadership and author of The Self-Evolved Leader – Elevate Your Focus and Develop Your People in a World That Refuses to Slow Down.  He has a wealth of experience in connecting individual and team performance to improved business results with a particular focus on fast-growing, complex organisations.  He speaks, coaches and trains on moving from execution to excellence. His goal is to help organisations build a culture of real, authentic but ultimately results-driven leadership. Dave is the host of the podcast ‘Lead Like you Give a Damn’ and writes a weekly column for Inc.Com.

The Self-Evolved Leader is now available to purchase on Amazon and other book outlets.

Note: I received an advance reader’s copy of The Self-Evolved Leader for review.

Libraries Unlimited and The Reading Agency launch ‘Reading Well for children’ book list to support children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Reading Well for children booklist has been created in response to concerning data about children’s mental health in the UK. In 2018, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health reported that schools were on average making 183 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referrals every school day, with 56% of those referrals coming from primary schools.

Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs Devon and Torbay libraries works in partnership with the Reading Agency to bring the Reading Well for Children project to our local libraries.

The list covers areas such as anxiety, bereavement and bullying with books by Michael Rosen, Tom Percival, Zanib Mian and Joseph Coelho selected by leading mental health experts to support the mental health and wellbeing of children.

This new Reading Well for children booklist responds to concerning data about children’s mental health in the UK. One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental health condition when assessed in 2017.[1] In 2018, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health reported that schools were on average making 183 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) referrals every school day, with 56% of those referrals coming from primary schools.[2] In 2019, BookTrust reported that over a third of parents of children aged 4 to 11 worried about their child’s mental health at least once a week.[3]

The Reading Well for children booklist contains 33 books covering topics relevant to the children of today, including grief, anxiety, bullying and staying safe online. In recognition of the potential impact of living with diagnosed conditions and physical disabilities, the booklist explores living well with conditions including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dyslexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and physical disabilities. The booklist is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 and includes titles suitable for a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers, and to encourage children to read together with their siblings and carers. The expert endorsed reads are available free in Devon and Torbay as well as in other participating libraries across England.

Recognised by leading health bodies including the Royal Society for Public Health, the new Reading Well for children booklist has been developed by The Reading Agency, health professionals, and children with experience of the topics covered and their families and carers. The book selection panel included experts from public libraries, NHS England, Mind, the Royal College of GPs and the School Library Association. Created in partnership with Libraries Connected, the expert endorsed booklist is completely free to access from public libraries.

The books on the list, by authors including Michael Rosen, Tom Percival, Zanib Mian and Joseph Coelho, have been selected to help Key Stage 2 children (aged 7-11) understand and talk about their mental health and wellbeing. The books have been selected to encourage conversation about feelings between children and their parents or carers and to offer support outside of a clinical setting or whilst waiting for treatment.

Reading Well booklists have been created to add value to health services, and to support early intervention and prevention. The Reading Well for children booklist follows the success of the programme’s existing booklists: Reading Well for mental health, Reading Well for young people’s mental health, Reading Well for long term conditions and Reading Well for dementia. Since the launch of Reading Well in 2013, 1.2 million readers have borrowed over 2.3 million of the scheme’s expert endorsed books from libraries.

All 54 of Devon and Torbay libraries will be taking part in Reading Well for Children in order to support the wellbeing of children and their families.

Broken down thematically, the full Reading Well for children booklist includes:

Healthy minds

What’s Going on Inside my Head? by Molly Potter, illustrated by Sarah Jennings – through talking about positive self-image, emotional intelligence, relationships and mindfulness, this book develops healthy habits and good coping strategies

Healthy for Life: Self-esteem and Mental Health by Anna Claybourne, illustrated by Dan Bramall – stress reduction and mindful techniques to deal with topics such as mental illness, phobias, and eating disorders

How Not to Lose It: Mental Health Sorted by Anna Williamson, illustrated by Sophie Beer – healthy habits for staying in control of stress levels

Feelings

How Are You Feeling Today? by Molly Potter, illustrated by Sarah Jennings – a dip-in book which allows children to explore and deal with particular feelings, including notes and strategies for parents and carers

Mindful Me: Exploring Emotions by Paul Christelis, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli – mindful exercises to encourage exploring a range of emotions and relieve stress

Feeling Angry! by Katie Douglass, illustrated by Mike Gordon – using everyday situations, this book explores different reasons why children might become angry and offers advice for remaining calm, including notes for parents and teachers

Sometimes I Feel Sad by Tom Alexander – this book helps to show children that feeling sad is part of everyone’s life, and they are not alone in feeling this way

Worries

Ruby’s Worry written and illustrated by Tom Percival – an exploration of anxiety which aims to open up discussions about feelings and show that a problem shared is a problem halved

Questions and Feelings About: Worries by Paul Christelis, illustrated by Ximena Jeria – a book to help children to recognise signs of worry, featuring mindful coping tips

Grobblechops by Elizabeth Laird, illustrated by Jenny Lucander – embodying fears to help turn them from frightening to friendly

Me and My Fear by Francesca Sanna – using the examples of moving to a new country and school, this picture book shows the importance of talking about feelings of fear and worry

All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann – using colourful images, explanations and gentle humour to explore living with anxiety day-to-day and how to deal with it

Worry Angels by Sita Brahmachari, illustrated by Jane Ray – this fiction book looks at dealing with your own and other people’s worries, and is particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers

Outsmarting Worry by Dawn Huebner, illustrated by Kara McHale – practical advice to help shift from thinking about worries and fears to dealing with them

The world around you

At school

Dealing With Bullying by Jane Lacey, illustrated by Venitia Dean – an interactive book offering examples of verbal and physical bullying and methods to deal with bullies and peer pressure to bully others

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik – a fiction book about being different, growing friendships and dealing with bullying behaviour

Ella on the Outside by Cath Howe – in addition to dealing with change (new school, physical changes) this book explores the pressures of trying to please people and struggling to fit in

Online

#Goldilocks by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross – a humorous cautionary tale for a new generation of internet users

In the news

Something Bad Happened: A Kid’s Guide to Coping with Events in the News by Dawn Huebner, illustrated by Kara McHale – offers advice for having tough conversations with children about world events such as natural disasters, terrorism and war. It addresses common questions and provides tools to calm fears

Dealing with tough times

When someone dies

Mum’s Jumper by Jayde Perkin – this picture book tackles coping with the loss of a parent. Developed in collaboration with Cruse Bereavement Care

Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Quentin Blake – acknowledging that sadness is not always avoidable, this book deals with death and loss

If All the World Were by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Allison Colpoys – a poetic picture book about coping with the death of a loved one, specifically a grandparent

Clownfish by Alan Durant – this book follows a boy who believes that his father has been reincarnated seven years after his death as a fish and is now in his local, soon to be shut down, aquarium

Tough times at home

The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself by Ali Redford, illustrated by Kara Simpson – using a simple metaphor to explain how some children cope with painful and traumatic experiences, this book encourages exploration and communication around feelings

Up and Down Mum by Child’s Play, illustrated by Summer Macon – this book helps to understand the causes of mental illness and how to live with someone experiencing it. Developed in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust

The Colour Thief: A Family’s Story of Depression by Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters, illustrated by Karin Littlewood – for children living with parents with depression, this book helps them to understand the causes and effects of depression, and offers reassurance that it can pass and that their parents are not lost to them

When you have a condition

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Can I Tell You About ADHD? by Susan Yarney, illustrated by Chris Martin – written from the perspective of someone with ADHD, this book encourages readers to learn about ADHD, how it feels and how others can help someone experiencing it

Check Mates by Stewart Foster – this fiction book explores dealing with ADHD and concentrating in school

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Questions and Feelings About: Autism by Louise Spilsbury, illustrated by Ximena Jeria –practical help, tips and advice as well as exploring everyday situations living with autism

M is for Autism by The Students of Limpsfield Grange School and Vicky Martin – drawing on real life experiences, this book explores the highs and lows of being different in a world of ‘normal’

Dyslexia

The Illustrated Guide to Dyslexia and Its Amazing People by Kate Power and Kathy Iwanczak Forsyth – by showing what dyslexia is and asking the reader how it applies to them, this book offers an engaging means of working out how dyslexia affects the individual specifically, and includes tools and tips to deal with it

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Double Felix by Sally Harris, illustrated by Maria Serrano – this fiction book explores what it is like living with OCD through the eyes of young protagonist Felix

Having a disability

Questions and Feelings About: Having a Disability by Louise Spilsbury, illustrated by Ximena Jeria – this hands-on picture book is designed to help children with their questions and feelings about having a disability

Cressida Cowell, UK Children’s Laureate says: “I’m delighted that The Reading Agency have put together their Reading Well list. The mental health of our children is vitally important, and books are a way into discussing lots of different issues kids and parents face every day. More widely, we know that reading anything for the joy of it gives huge mental health benefits: that’s why it’s so crucial children have access to new books in public and school libraries.”

There are additional Reading Well booklists for adults and young people on mental health, long term conditions and dementia. To find out more about this free resource please ask in your local library or visit

www.devonlibraries.org.uk/web/arena/health-readingwell

www.torbaylibraries.org.uk/web/arena/health-readingwell

[1] NHS Digital (2018). Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017 [PAS].
[2] Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (2018). School referrals for mental health treatment rise by a third.
[3] BookTrust, (2019). ‘New BookTrust research shows half of children in the UK don’t discuss their mental health and wellbeing with their parents.’

A wonderfully rich fish curry with coconut cream, butter and tomatoes.  Serve with basmati rice or naan bread and chutneys.

Serves 4

Prep 20 mins / Cooking 70 mins

Ingredients

1¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tbsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground coriander
8 cardamom pods, shells discarded and seeds removed and crushed in a mortar
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tbsp smoked paprika
⅛th tsp ground cinnamon
450g hake (or other firm white fish), skinned, boned and cut into 5cm pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
350g small new potatoes, halved if large, skin on
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2-3 banana shallots, finely chopped
2 small green chillies, finely chopped (deseeded, if you prefer less heat)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
300g cherry tomatoes
1½ tbsp tomato paste
220g coconut cream, plus 1 tbsp to serve
500ml fish stock

For the salsa
½ cucumber, cut into 1cm dice
1 small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 spring onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp lime juice
1½ tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

1.  Put the first seven ingredients in a large, high-sided pan on a medium-high heat, and toast for a minute, until fragrant. Put the fish in a bowl with one and a half teaspoons of the spice blend, the olive oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, gently toss to coat, then leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

2.  Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through but still holding their shape, then drain.

3. Return the saute pan to a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of butter and, once bubbling, fry the fish in two or three batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan, for two minutes a side, until golden brown. Return to the bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving the butter and any released liquid in the pan. Turn the heat to low, add another tablespoon of butter, the shallots and chillies, and fry gently for six to eight minutes, until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic, cook for two minutes, stirring often, then stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and the remaining butter and spice mix. Add the coconut cream, stock, potatoes and half a teaspoon of salt, mix again, and simmer for 25 minutes, until thick and reduced. Meanwhile, mix all the salsa ingredients with a good pinch of salt.

4. Return the fish to the curry pan, cover and cook for four minutes, until heated through. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of coconut cream over the top, then serve in the pan with the salsa spooned inside the pan or on the side.

Serve with basmati rice or naan bread and chutneys.

Recipe credit: Yotam Ottolenghi, Feast, The Guardian, 2018

Dhals (dal, daal, dahl) are perfect comfort food for the winter months.  Dahls, made with lentils and spice, make a healthy meal providing a source of  protein, while the vegetables, spice and herb ingredients supply valuable vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

To create a warming dahl, it is recommended that it is cooked long and slow for maximum creaminess.  Spicy, aromatic tarka can be added to make a tasty garnish.  You can experiment with this recipe, you can make it as thin as soup or as thick as porridge.  You can add spices and vegetables to this versatile dish.

Serves 4

Prep 15-2o mins / Cooking 1.5 hours

Ingredients

400g mung dal (skinned yellow split mung beans)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4cm piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into 4
1 tbsp turmeric
4 small green chillies, 2 finely chopped, 2 left whole
2 tbsp ghee or groundnut oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed chilli
Fresh coriander, chopped to serve

Method

1. Wash the dal until the water runs clear, then drain and put in a large pan and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and chopped chillies to the pan with a pinch of salt, turn down the heat, cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and simmer very gently for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the dal has broken down completely and become creamy.

3. Add boiling water or reduce the dal further to achieve your preferred consistency if necessary, and season to taste.  You can add 1 tsp salt but season to your taste.  Add the whole chillies and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and add the shallots. Stir until golden and beginning to crisp, then add the dried spices and cook for a couple of minutes until the mustard seeds are beginning to pop. Tip over the dal, stir in, and top with chopped coriander.

5. You can add vegetables to this recipe if you wish to experiment, sweet potatoes, potatoes, spinach.  Or oven-roast a whole cauliflower, chopped into small pieces, for 15-2o minutes and stir the roasted cauliflower into the cooked dhal, top with the tarka and serve.

6. Serve with plain rice or flatbreads.

 

In our uncertain times and rapidly changing world, ‘You Are Awesome’ is a real tonic.  Luckily for me this book arrived several weeks ago and I’ve been devouring the book’s wisdom.

‘You Are Awesome’ is all about resilience and Neil uses his life experiences and research to highlight the secrets to developing resilience in an era of increasing anxiety, depression and loneliness.

The book is an easy to follow read featuring 9 concepts that explain how we can navigate failure, reframe our own perceptions and how to become our most powerful and awesome self.

Of course life brings us challenges, some much larger and more devastating than others.  It can be overwhelming when we are feeling stuck and caught up in these overwhelming situations.  Neil champions the idea that we need a quiet courage to keep going, keep moving forward, knowing that we can move past the situation, seeing beyond the current dilemma.

“There is power in moving slowly through the motions.  There is power in letting the story continue.”  ~ Neil Pasricha, ‘You Are Awesome’

This book acts as a useful life reviewer, making sense of past failures and challenges.  Showing how to survive certain situations, learn and grow as a result and explaining why a continuing supply of resilience can help with whatever life throws at you.

Neil draws on his mother’s experience as a young woman in Nairobi, Kenya and her life journey taking her to a new life in Canada as well as his personal experiences in childhood and as he navigated his adult life.  The stories show how he has made sense of life and explores his valuable lessons.

It was refreshing to reframe failure.  Understanding that everyone fails, from low achievers to high achievers.  But what makes high achievers different as a group?  They fail harder and take it more personally.  What can help to address issues of failure?  We can learn to share our experiences, talk about our failures, ask for help and learn to support one another.  We can understand that successful people have more failures.  They may look as though they have everything sorted and in order but it is likely that they have experienced many failures before they have reached their ‘successful’ position.  They had the resilience to keep getting up, to keep moving forward and to keep trying something new.

This book is part life story, part research and part self-help offering ideas to help reframe challenges and tips to help you move through any challenging times.  It is useful to talk about failures, shame, mistakes, struggle and loss.  This book helps us to explore what it is to be human and how we can support ourselves on the journey of life.

I have been through struggle. I have been through loss. And I have had to get stronger. Resilience is a muscle that hurts to build. What would have made it easier? Neil’s words. This book. A recipe for thickening our skin in thin-skinned times.” ~ James Frey, author of ‘Katerina’

No one knows ‘awesome’ like Neil Pasricha, and here he explores how we can make our very lives more awesome. With real-life stories and a conversational style, he shows how we can move forward in the face of challenge to make our days more intentional and joyful.”~ Gretchen Rubin, author of ‘The Happiness Project and Outer Order, Inner Calm’

With Neil’s signature style of humor, research, whimsy and insight, You Are Awesome touches a chord and shows us the power of combining optimism and resilience to create more meaning at work, school and home…” ~ Shawn Achor, New York Times best-selling author of ‘Big Potential’

Neil Pasricha thinks, writes, and speaks about intentional living. He is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including ‘The Book of Awesome’ and ‘The Happiness Equation’.  He hosts the award-winning podcast ‘3 Books’ where he’s on a fifteen-year-long quest to uncover the thousand most formative books in the world. You can visit him at GlobalHappiness.org, Neil.blog, 3books.co, and 1000awesomethings.com.

‘You Are Awesome – How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure and Live an Intentional Life’ by Neil Pasricha is published on 5th November 2019.

 

An intensely flavoured curry with the recipe to make your own Sri Lankan curry powder.  The curry has a twist with the addition of preserved lemons.  If you don’t have preserved lemons you can substitute with a whole lemon sliced thinly and salted with half a teaspoon of sea salt.

If you are short on time you can use a shop-bought garam masala, adding an extra half-teaspoon of ground cloves, a tablespoon of mustard seeds and the zest of a lemon.  Serve this dish with warm bread and rice, top with crunchy cashews and a squeeze of lemon.

Sri Lankan Curry Powder

This recipe makes enough for a couple of curries and will keep for up to two months.  If you don’t think you will use the powder in this time, half the recipe.

As the spices are toasted, this powder works well sprinkled over warm, buttered chapatis or naans or on top of yoghurt or even on mashed avocado.

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 10 mins

Makes a small jar

Ingredients

2 tbsp. basmati rice
2 whole dried red chillies or 1/2 tsp dried red chilli
4 tbsp. coriander seeds
3 tbsp. cumin seeds
2 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. black mustard seeds
1 tbsp. whole cloves
1 heaped tsp cardamom seeds
2 heaped tsp fennel seeds
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

Method:

  1. Put the rice in a dry nonstick large pan and put over a medium heat until it starts to turn light brown.
  2. Add the spices and dried chilli and toast for three minutes, until they also start to brown, toast and become aromatic.
  3. Keep moving the pan to prevent the spices from burning.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest, then leave to cool.
  4. Once cooled, use a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar to grind them into a powder and keep in an airtight jar.

Sri Lankan Potato, Coconut and Chard Curry

Serves 4

Prep: 10 mins / Cooking: 55 mins

Ingredients

3 tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
3 onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 large thumb fresh ginger, peeled and grated
600g small potatoes
2 whole preserved lemons, roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp. Sri Lankan curry powder (see above)
400ml (1 tin) coconut milk
400ml (1 tin) tomatoes
1 lemon
Rotis or chapatis and rice, to serve

For the cashews

100g cashew nuts
1/2 tsp red chilli or a pinch of dried chilli
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Put a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat, add two tablespoons of the oil and the onions, and cook until soft, sticky and sweet (15-20 minutes).
  2. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for another couple of minutes over a high heat, then add the potatoes, preserved lemons and curry powder, and cook for another three to four minutes, stirring all the time.
  3. Add the coconut milk and the tinned tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and again.
  4. While the curry is simmering, toast the cashews in a frying pan over a medium heat until golden, toss in the spices and toast for 30 seconds more.  Turn off the heat, add the maple syrup and salt, and scoop onto a plate for serving.
  5. Pull the chard leaves off the stems, tear the leaves into large bite sized pieces and finely chop the stalks.  Once the curry has had 20 minutes, add the chard and the stalks, and cook for a final 10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Serve the curry with the bread and rice, and top with crunchy cashews and a good squeeze of lemon.

Recipe inspiration: Anna Jones, The Guardian Feast Magazine

Chickpeas and Halloumi Recipe

A tasty twist for cooking chickpeas.  Using ras el hanout, a north-African mix, to spice up the recipe.  An alternative way of cooking halloumi and vegans can substitute the halloumi for a block of firm tofu and skip the honey.  Serve the dish with a drizzle of honey and flatbreads.

Serves 4

Prep: 20 mins / Cooking: 20 mins

Ingredients

2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
1 heaped tsp ras el hanout
1 unwaxed orange
Olive oil
240g block halloumi
3 tbsp. tahini
250g purple sprouting or tenderstem broccoli
1 large handful pumpkin seeds
Seeds from one pomegranate
1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked
1 heaped tsp honey, to serve
4 flatbreads, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
  2. Spread the chickpeas on a large roasting tray, sprinkle with the ras el hanout, the zest and juice of half the orange (grate the remaining zest into a bowl), drizzle with olive oil and season.  Roast for 10 minutes.
  3. Score the top of the halloumi block with 5mm deep criss-crosses, then set aside.  In a bowl or jar, mix the tahini, remaining orange zest and juice, and a tablespoon of olive oil – if the tahini is thick you may need a really good stir.
  4. Once the chickpeas have had 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and turn on the grill.  Add the halloumi, broccoli, pumpkin seeds & the tahini & orange mix to the tray, toss everything together, so it is all coated in the orangey spiced oil, then put under the grill for 10 minutes, until the halloumi is golden, the broccoli spears are softened and the florets are crisp.
  5. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and parsley, then drizzle the halloumi with honey and serve with flatbreads.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones, The Modern Cook in The Guardian Feast.

A tasty recipe for Spring using seasonal asparagus, radishes, spring onions and peas.  The mustard and orange dressing gives the dish some zing!  Serve with wild rice, fresh bread or new potatoes.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 mins / Cooking: 20 mins

Ingredients

4 eggs
250g asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1 bunch of spring onions
150g radishes, halved with tops left on
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
200g fresh or frozen peas
1 small bunch of dill, leaves picked

For the dressing

Juice and zest of 1 unwaxed orange
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas 7.
  2. Boil the eggs in a pan of salted water for 5 mins, then drain and run under the cold tap to cool.  Peel when cool enough to handle.
  3. Arrange the asparagus, spring onions, radishes and garlic on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Season, then roast for 10-15 mins until the asparagus is just tender and the radishes still have a little bite.  Add the peas while everything is still hot and toss (pre-cook the peas if you are using frozen).
  4. Meanwhile, make the dressing.  Add all the dressing ingredients to a jar or small bowl.  Season, then shake or whisk to mix.  Toss the warm salad in a little of the dressing.
  5. Divide between four plates with the soft boiled eggs sliced in half, and top with the dill and a drizzle of the dressing.
  6. Serve with wild rice, fresh bread or new potatoes.

Recipe inspired by Anna Jones, The Modern Cook in The Guardian Feast.

Awakening The Spine‘ is one of my favourite yoga books and I revisit the book frequently.  Each time I dip into the book I am reminded of useful information and at the same time I see new information.  The beauty of this book is that it goes well beyond the physical body and can open you up to the true gifts of yoga.

This is not a step-by-step instruction book for asana, Vanda is sharing her wisdom.  Vanda explains “This is not really a yoga book nor a book on yoga, for yoga has been written about so much in recent years.  What we will try to do in this book is to create a much more serious approach to our bodies, which have bee neglected for so many years,  You have to listen to your body, going with it and not against it, avoiding all effort or strain and centring your attention on that very delicate point, the back of the waist (where the spine moves in two opposite directions).”  Vanda uses art, nature, music, myth, philosophy to explore yoga practice.

Vanda Scaravelli was born in Florence in 1908.  She came from an intellectual and artistic background.  Her father had a degree of piano from the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence and went on to create his own orchestra in Florence.  Her mother graduated in pedagogy and was one of the first Italian women to attend university.  Vanda was raised in a musical and intellectual atmosphere surrounded by artists and scientists visiting her parents.

Vanda herself studied music and was a concert level pianist.  Music and musicality informed her work throughout her life.

Movement is the song of the body” ~ Vanda Scaravelli

Vanda learned yoga from B.K.S. Iyengar who was invited to Switzerland by the well known violinist Yehudi Menuhin.  She met J. Krishnamurti and later met Desicachar who taught her the importance of breathing.

For more than twenty-five years, until her death at the age of 91, Vanda Scaravelli was transforming bodies and lives with her innovative approach to yoga through the proper alignment of the spine. She listened to the body and worked with instead of against it. She used gravity, grounding, and breath to achieve dramatic improvements in health and wellbeing.

The way we live is destructive to the body; there is no respect towards its needs and demands.  We destroy, little by little, that precious, complex, vital, vessel of life we received at birth, why?  Do not fight your body.  Do not carry the world on your shoulders.  Drop that heavy load of unnecessary baggage and you will feel better.  Do not kill the instinct of the body for the glory of the pose.  Do not look at your body like a stranger but adopt a friendly approach towards it.  Watch it, listen to it, observe its needs, its requests, and even have fun.” ~ Awakening The Spine, Vanda Scaravelli

This classic inspiring yoga book features three parts – Part One “The Story of Stories” the philosophy of yoga; Part Two “The Asanas” short exploration of yoga asana and Part Three “Breathing”. 

Vanda skilfully uses nature and the wider world to illustrate her teachings and to show the internal & external connections.  We are skilfully guided to ‘see’ and experience the links of our inner and outer experiences.  The spine is central to her practice and teachings.  The nature images are carefully placed to mirror the asanas and to prompt a deeper examination of practice.

It is inspiring to see the photos of Scaravelli in the Asana section, showing that yoga is for everyone.  She didn’t start yoga until her 40s and the photos in the book are taken in her 80s.  This book is an inspirational reminder as to why you are doing yoga.

 

Scaravelli reminds readers that: “if you are kind to your body, it will respond in an incredible way.” ‘Awakening the Spine‘ offers a gentle way to achieve and maintain overall health and a naturally supple spine at any age.

 

This is an updated version of Vanda’s original work, with a foreword by B.K.S. Iyengar and revised by Vanda’s daughter based on Vanda’s extensive notes.

I also recommend ‘Notes on Yoga: The Legacy of Vanda Scaravelli‘ by Diane Long and Sophy Hoare.

Diane was the first of Vanda’s regular students and remained so until Vanda’s death in 1999. Sophy began working with Vanda during the period when she was writing Awakening the Spine.

In ‘Notes on Yoga: The Legacy of Vanda Scaravelli’, they share their experiences and memories of being taught by Vanda and offer instructive advice for practising asana, challenging many preconceptions about yoga.

The Path of Practice

An extraordinary book . . . [that] illuminates the wonderful truth of who we are. . . . As a result, we heal our bodies and our lives on the deepest levels.” ~ Christiane Northrup, M.D., Author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

We are busy preparing for our 2019 Menopause, Wellness & Vitality Workshops.  The workshop day is a content rich experience with plenty of time for discussion.  We provide an extensive handout packed with information and includes a recommended reading list.

One book on the reading list is “The Path of Practice” by Bri Maya Tiwari.  This is one of my all-time favourite books and is a powerful book for women interested in self-healing, self-care and practical lifestyle changes.

I discovered this book several years ago when my roommate on a Yoga Teacher Training course at the Anand Prakash Ashram recommended it.  I headed off to one of the many bookstores on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh to purchase a copy.  It is probably the best 295 rupees I have ever spent!

The Path of Practice” is an honest sharing of Maya’s experience of healing from her diagnosis of ovarian cancer at the age of 23 to her journey using Vedic healing practices to heal herself.   She undertook self-healing through meditation, the healing of her ancestral heritage, sound healing, silence, creating sacred space, breathwork and food sadhana.  This was a deep process taking Maya from America to Rishikesh where she became a practising Vedic monk devoted to developing and sharing her knowledge of healing techniques.

May the universe never abuse food.
Breath is food. The body eats foods.
The body rests on breath.
Breath rests on the body.
Food is resting on food.
The one who knows this
becomes rich in food and great in fame.

– Taittiriya Upanishad (11.7)

The book is an easy to follow, step by step guide which is part auto-biography and part healing manual.  For me the book gave me many “aha” moments, enabling me to journey deeper into my yoga practice and understand some of the practices that I was intuitively being drawn to.  We were practicing many of the sadhanas at the Ashram so it was useful to be practicing as well as intellectually understanding the processes.  Our sadhanas included full moon ceremonies to bask in the essence of the moon to heal shakti prana (feminine energies), holding ancestor ceremonies on the banks of the river Ganges, attending fire puja (rituals) to burn away impurities, chanting for healing and eating a sattvic (pure) diet.

We are wellness. We are consciousness. That is our natural state. Disease is an impostor” – Bri Maya Tiwari

This book is designed for women by a woman but it does not preclude men.  Maya states that this book is a “course in healing and in living.”  She maintains that “all pain is a reminder that we have strayed from the natural rhythms of life,” and this book acts to guide us back.  An easy to follow programme containing a wealth of knowledge and the depth of experience.  It’s a profound read and calls us to get in tune with deeper universal rhythms.

This informative book is an enlightening read and a useful book to dip into for ongoing guidance.  The practices can be incorporated into our daily life in order to live a more harmonious and healthy life.  This book is a valuable tool at peri-menopause and menopause when we are being called to take stock, to review our habitats and to pay more attention to self-care.

This is one of the simplest introductions to a step-by-step practice of sadhana for the uninitiated…. Her methods incorporate the healing nature of sound, food and breath and are easy to understand and follow to be in tune with natural rhythms.” – Book Reviews