Guest Post - Emma Fowle


I was inspired by a good friends blog last week, and she was generous enough to let me share it with you, so this weeks guest blog comes from the brilliant Emma Fowle. Enjoy, and be inspired to look up!

As she pressed the book into my hands, I knew it was going to be a good one; let’s face it: this girl has worked in publishing, reads like a rocket, and is singularly one of the most clever and articulate people I know. Let me put it this way: if I were heading to my certain death and I had to choose a book instead of a meal, I’d let her choose for me. That’s how much I trust her.

divine sparks

So as I pondered on its title and flicked through its pages, I was, of course, unsurprised to find there all sorts of beautiful truths, ringing out their clarion call like drops of golden sunlight. And it was there too as I wandered the fields and lanes near my house later that day, soaking in the sun’s unexpected rays and looking out and up and in again.

Autumn Sunshine through the trees.

Divine Sparks.

Those little, tiny, light-life interjections into the mundane and the every day and the ordinary.

Those small, unremarkable moments that remind us we are alive.

This is good.

I can breathe.

So many days and I am positively scurrying through life; head down, toe to the floor – a flat-out sprint of task, next task, next task. And then I flop onto my sofa at the end of the day exhausted, worn out, and worse – uninspired.

I have stopped seeing the beauty. I am no longer taking the time to stop, and pause, and see. And I wonder in these tired-out moments just why it all feels so…. pedestrian?

I am tempted at these junctures to blame my lack of creativity, my loss of joie du vivre on something or someone else. Maybe I need a mini-break. Perhaps if I was living somewhere else, did a different job, was surrounded every day by a commune of like-minded and inspiring writers, immersed together in our art, I would be OK. Writing would flow out of me like a fountain and I would be Inspired. Creative. Brilliant.

But this is just a crutch, I know. Creativity isn’t imparted to us by the Universe, some benign and celestial gift that falls one day from the heavens and anoints us as we stand to one side passively and await its benediction. And contentment does not work that way either. So how do we find those twin blessings that so easily allude us and seemingly conspire in their hidden-ness to conceal themselves from our uncovering?

How do we find inspiration – in our lives, or in our art – in the midst of the everyday? How do we uncover those divine sparks that are already all around us and above us and underneath our feet, lighting up the path that we so readily tread and so thoroughly trample on most every, single day?

Take a break

Breaks are not for wimps. They are carefully constructed moments of pause, reflection, breath that punctuate and slow down and reset. Having the wisdom to learn that sometimes, stepping away from your desk is much better for your brain than sitting there, staring dully at that screen is a lesson well learned. So go change your scenery, take five minutes to sit in the sun – it will do you more good than you know.

Look up

Take a walk, sit outside – and look up as well as down. At the trees, the stars, the clouds passing by. Exhale. Lifting my head never fails to lift my mood, and makes me lift my eyes from my own naval. When I am feeling overwhelmed by expectations or to-do lists, getting out and looking up always helps me re-focus.

Take note

In your head, in a book, however, it works for you. Sometimes we are so plain busy and under pressure that we stop taking note of anything good at all. Take a moment and make a note – of anything that you are thankful for right now. Anything that makes you smile. A family that loves you, friends that make you laugh. The warm smell of coffee, a favourite book, the sun’s warming rays, a sofa to sit on….

Say thank you

And then say thank you. Giving thanks, even for the every day and the seemingly insignificant, cultivates beautiful grace in us, and who couldn’t do with a little more of that? As Ann Voskamp, the doyenne on thanksgiving tells us, eucharisteo comes from the root word charis, or grace. Giving thanks is everyday grace.

If you have any other thoughts or tips on how you capture those little, divine sparks, or want more information about Ann Voskamp or Donna Lazenby, see this article on Emma's Website


Thank you!


Photo Credit:Aaron Burden

This week we are coming to the end of our Intentional Health webinar series, finishing on a high by celebrating with positive thoughts and joy! 

We originally set out to create and deliver 20 webinars, sharing some of the content from our ten session Intentional Health programme. 

Whilst this has been loads of fun, and we've learned an awful lot, we've also learned that it isn't quite as easy as other professionals make it look! 

I am hugely grateful for the team of people who have made it possible and also the people who have taken the time to attend live or given us feedback! 

If that is you... Thank you!! :) 

We hope that this may inspire you to find out more about Intentional Health, and join in with a community programme near you, or share the content with others if you find it helpful. 

This week in our final three sessions before we break for summer, Tom, Gareth and I explore how our thoughts and feelings, being grateful and celebrating our successes all contribute to a healthy, happy life. 

If you want to join us live (or want to be notified of the replay!), you can do so by registering using the links below.

Thoughts & Feelings - Monday 17th July 19:30  (BST)

Joy & gratitude - Tuesday 18th July 19:30  (BST)

Failing Forward - Thursday 20th July 19:30  (BST)

If you meant to watch some of the series, but have not got round to it yet, next week, we'll publish a list with links to all of the webinar replays, which will be available for you to watch at your leisure.

The week after we hope to feature a guest post while I'll be having a much needed holiday with family  - so watch this space!

The week after we'll be at the Creationfest - Do come and say hello if you are attending! 

Niky & team

5 ways it is better to give


Ever heard someone saying “it is better to give than receive”? When I was younger I used to think that was because whoever was saying it wanted something from me!!

Now I understand that giving actually has something for me, and there is actually a lot of truth in that very old statement that originally comes from the bible (Acts 20:35).

Research available today confirms this too, and shows us that giving is especially good for our mental health and wellbeing. In fact, giving is included as one of the top 5 beneficial ways that we can be intentional about our health and wellbeing according to the “NHS Five Ways to Wellbeing”.

Altruistically giving means giving selflessly, seeking or expecting nothing in return, and is correlated with better health, longer lives, and a greater sense of purpose.

This type of giving is also the opposite of the law of reciprocity, where we give in many social situations as a way of paying back what we have received from others.

Some cases of reciprocity may be fine, but if our motivation for giving is to get something in return, we can become frustrated, disappointed or feel inadequate.

Giving with a motivation of reciprocity, therefore, is not particularly healthy!

Giving altruistically can take many forms. Here are 5:

1. Giving Time

This can be also known as Serving or Volunteering.

Though beneficial for all ages, volunteering can be particularly beneficial for older adults or empty nesters, who may have more available time after their children have left home or their formal careers have come to an end.

Volunteering gives us an opportunity to see ourselves, and our happiness in relation to the wider community, and can be incredibly rewarding as we create connections with people around us. The activity gives a sense of purpose and value, prevents isolation and the sharing of years of experience can be life-giving for all.

We all have the same 24 hours available every day, it is the one thing that is common to each and every one of us. How we spend them (intentionally or not!) is up to us.

Giving our time enables us to also share our talents and experiences, and often be part of something greater than the sum of its parts - where one person can do a lot, but more people coming together can devote themselves to different tasks and collectively do something greater than all the individuals could achieve on their own.

2. Giving Grace.

When I say Grace, I mean giving favour to someone who may, or may not, deserve it, and putting others ahead of ourselves. It can come in many forms, and may simply be offering to help someone with their shopping bags, or instead of becoming frustrated by a long queue, chose instead to let someone else in front of you in the supermarket or traffic.

Grace can also be beneficial when we make mistakes or get things wrong.

This week I was hugely blessed by a friend generously helping me out when I committed the ultimate faux-par and forgot an important parents information evening.

Not only did this friend send me all the information I had missed, but she also reminded me that we all make mistakes and not to be hard on myself.

She didn’t have to do either of those things, but I was hugely grateful for both her practical support and encouragement and for helping me keep the situation in its proper perspective.

Giving financially.

In the western culture we live in, we are all rich.

We may not feel like it, but the fact that you are reading this blog tells me you have access to the internet and a computer, and probably live and eat indoors.

If you want to see just how rich you are you can check out your global position.

I rarely see people who have lots of money making them truly happy unless they give some away. But I have seen some of the poorest and most generous and joyful people in the world gladly and joyfully give their last cup of rice away to a TV film crew!

There are many ways to give, and many organisations who can all do great good with what we have to offer. We don’t even have to give actual £’s if we don’t want to. We can give unwanted clothes to the charity shop, or give homemade or purchased gifts, or even cut some flowers from our own garden if we prefer.

If we are in a position to give financially and are a UK tax-payer, every gift to a registered charity has the potential to be multiplied through gift aid. That means next time we're donating £10 to charity, that charity could claim an additional £2.50 from the government through gift aid.

Giving a smile.

Smiles cost us nothing but can make all the difference. We were designed to be in relationship, and smiles create meaningful connections between us, even if briefly, that can brighten both our own and another’s day!

This is especially valuable to people who don’t encounter many other people in their everyday lives for one reason or another, for example, elderly relatives or neighbours.

Give encouragement.

This is an extension of the above really but can make a person feel ten times taller. Have you ever given a child praise or encouragement and see their head lift and chest pop out with pride?

Giving encouragement lets people know that they, or what they are doing, matters.

It is most helpful when we take the extra time to let them know exactly what it is that blessed us!

I know I am always hugely blessed when people take the time to let me know how and that these blogs are encouraging you - It inspires me to write more! Thank you.

I’m sure there are plenty more ways to give and I’d love to hear about how you find ways to give altruistically… message me here….

Lastly, I'd love to share how the comedian Michael Jnr. gives laughter... Check out his story here…

If you aren't already signed up to receive our weekly blog then we'd love to give you an opportunity to sign up here and download resources for free!

We'd also love to offer you a place to attend our free webinars in a few weeks, please register your interest Here.

If you want to give or be part of the work of Intentional Health you can do so in 5 ways. Click on the links for more info…

Angels Advocate Partnership Prayer Volunteer

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Laughter and the little finger....


Today concludes the handful of ways to improve our health and wellbeing following our new year quiz... and today we are looking at laughter and the little finger. For clarification the little finger or pinky finger is the smallest finger...

This little piggy went to market, This little piggy stayed home, This little piggy had roast beef This little piggy had none, And this little piggy cried wee wee wee all the way home

Wigglying and tickling my children’s little fingers and toes to this nursery rhyme resulted in hours of laughter in our house when my kids were babies, as we ran through the nursery rhyme in huge anticipation of getting to the little finger or toe, and the tickles that followed.

Laughter brings the gift of cheerful heart…

Although we had fun times and times of laughter including these, I didn’t really appreciate quite how much laughter is REALLY beneficial for all aspects of our health and wellbeing!

Here’s how..

Laughter jiggles the organs in our body, which releases hormones that relieve physical tension and stress. Laughter also releases our natural feel good Endorphin hormones that promote pain relief and feelings of wellbeing.

Laughter boosts the immune system by decreasing the stress hormones and increasing the production of immune cells and infection fighting antibodies, which improves our natural resistance to infection and disease.

Laughter increases the blood flow to the heart, not enough to be a complete replacement for physical activity, but enough that if you laugh often and regularly enough, you could prevent some heart disease and burn a few extra calories. There are studies that report people who laugh more live longer!

Laughing helps relaxation, reduces stress and increases energy, meaning it is a great way to help recharge, focus and improve our mood.

The benefits and good feelings remain long after we stop laughing. It is difficult to remain angry, anxious or sad when you are laughing, so laughter can really help us navigate through sadness, challenges or losses.

Laughter helps us keep a more positive perspective. This helps us see our circumstances from a more realistic and manageable viewpoint, meaning we can think clearer, and can help us overcome and manage any negative or distressing emotions that overwhelm.

Laughter can help us navigate through difficult circumstances, helping us find courage and strength by enabling us to overcome being overwhelmed and rise above the fight or flight responses.

Laughter strengthens relationships and brings us closer together, which is great for all aspects of our health and wellbeing.

Laughter is contagious - Laughing on our own isn’t half as much fun as sharing what has made us laugh, and laughing can bring us closer to others by increasing emotional connections.

It is also a powerful tool for reducing tensions when emotions are running high, and can help us manage conflict or overcome disagreements It is probably worth remembering that what makes us laugh might not be the same as what makes someone else laugh! And that’s ok! We are all amazingly and uniquely different.

Quick wins for getting us all laughing more….

  1. Smile more and keep our palms up. Smiling towards others costs nothing but can really make a difference to someone's day - and our day too, it even pre-disposes us to looking for opportunities for laughter.
  2. Adopt a posture of gratitude and make a list of to be thankful for.
  3. Join with others in laughing, by sharing our funny moments with friends or finding others who laugh easily and hang out with them.
  4. Create, share and seek out opportunities and other people to enjoy a laugh with.
  5. Learn to laugh at ourselves and don’t go a day without at least one laugh.

The only little health warning here is that it's not good to laugh at someone else’s expense or in a private joke, whilst others spectate... this can cause the opposite effect for many.

Laughing is good for everyone, of every age, shape, size, gender, race, religion, colour or creed...

In laughing more, we can all improve so many aspects of our health and well being, adding both years to our life, and life to our years…

So … this little piggy…

If you want to start on your journey towards being more intentional about your health then why not download our FREE Intentional Health journey workbook by clicking the picture below, to help start your journey to living a healthier, happier life.

And as always, if you found this post helpful or inspiring, please share it so others can benefit too! and we'd love you to get in touch and share with us about how you love to laugh ..

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