How to Make a Moss Shower Mat

Oh yes. Inspiration can take many forms. As can madness.

Imagine each time you stepped out of the bath or shower you felt like you were in a magical woodland. I liked the sound of that and having seen a photo on facebook of a moss shower mat, I thought I’d turn my hand to it. And share the results, as the instructions I could find online were rather limited. So here’s how to make a moss shower mat … A weird and wonderful cushion for your soggy feet.

What you’ll need: 

  • A father, or friend, who is a builder and who has lots of random scraps of useful Moss Shower Matthings lying around. Failing that, a skip to rummage around in. If neither of those are available, put a shout out on Streetbank or Freecycle.
  • A spare couple of hours.
  • Some random tools, such as a stanley knife and a ruler.
  • Some glue (or sealant).
  • A friend to take photos of you and tell you when you’re about to make a HUGE mistake. (Optional.)
  • MOSS.

Natalie-MossSTEP ONE. Moss from the Boss.

Dad’s house. He had a lot of moss to spare. If yours doesn’t, try foraging in a local woodland for some. Just take what you need – ideally from different spots so as not to leave a hole in the forest floor, and also to give your mat some variation!

 

Moss-shower-mat_1

STEP TWO. Measure Up.

This is where the ruler comes in handy. Measure the size of your dripping area. Mine is quite large. More of a dripping platform. Yours might just be a foot or two wide. Either way, get the measurements written down.

 

STEP THREE. Attack.

For the base I used some scraps of ceiling insulation, to make a kind of tray for the moss. So it had a ledge (about half and inch high) to keep the moss and water in. Once I’d made the tray, I lined it with an old yoga mat, to give the moss ten or so years of nice vibes and also something squidgey to hold some water.

STEP FOUR. Withdraw. 

making a moss shower mat 2

At this point it might be worth seeking some advice. Or just remember to do the tray bit first. The thing with using old bits of scraps is that they are limited, so you can’t waste your materials. My friend John spotted that I hadn’t made the ledge at this point, so it was time to get back in the kitchen, and get gluing.

 

IMG_4859Once I’d made the tray (out of ceiling insulation) and laid the yoga mat inside the tray, I needed to seal the edges and make it waterproof. I had some plastic sheeting to wrap around the outside of the tray. Then, to seal it, I used a bathroom sealant – again because it was leftover from a previous job. You could use waterproof glue.

This whole process took some effort, some open windows and a silly face.

STEP FIVE. Wait. 

The hard part. “JUST LET ME PUT THE MOSS IN ITS NEW BED!”
John made me wait. The sealant had to be dry.
So we went for a roast dinner instead.

Moss Shower Mat

STEP SIX. Make Your Bed. 

Take your moss in your hands, welcoming the spirit of the moss into your bathroom (along with the woodlouse, the bugs and the beetles) before laying in its new bed. Or just whack it in. Water … and voila! Enjoy! Shower up and smell the forest!

 

 

 

** EIGHT WEEKS LATER **

Before posting this I wanted to make sure it didn’t just die the next day. It didn’t. I love my moss shower mat. It feels nice under my feet. But it’s very thirsty. It likes to drink more often than we can drip on it – even if we bathed and showered twice a day. All this watering may negate the environmental benefits of having a recycled, natural moss shower mat. But if you use the water from the bath it’s worth it. Happy moss shower mat making.

Need more inspiration? Or proper, actual instructions? Have a look here.

moss-mat


** THREE MONTHS LATER **

I sent a little update to John.

nat-john-moss-shower-mat

living with a mystic : my cat

Phoenix is my kitty. But he doubles up as our family’s in-house spiritual master. Some people say he’s my familiar. He’s black, he’s elegant and he’s totally zen. Phoenix chose to live with us when his owner (our next-door neighbour) was due to move house. She asked me to consider looking after him for a few weeks while she got settled, and before I’d even made my mind up he’d moved himself in, coming in day and night in for two weeks before my neighbour left. He knew he wanted to be here. So here he stayed. (His owner was happy to let him go by the way, as she was moving into an apartment.)

His magical traits continue, however they’re not always ‘nice’. Once, whilst I was having an operation on my navel, he somehow ended up with a similar sized wound on his navel. Happily his didn’t need surgery. Another time when I had a sore throat, he got a nasty infection on his neck. He’s appeared in people’s dreams, he’s ‘spoken’ to a spiritual healer and he kills birds if I don’t feed him on time. He’s nobody’s fool. But he’s our magic cat. For now at least.

Last night he went that extra mile to remind me of his supercatrual abilities. I decided to get to bed early to snuggle under the duvet and watch an episode of House MD. (I love Hugh Laurie in this.) As is often the case, whilst shutting down my computer I got distracted by some last minute emails. I was tapping away at my desk when Phoenix jumped up. He’s never jumped onto the desk before. (At least not while I was looking.) As I tried to shoo him off he walked across my keyboard.. the screen went blank. Seconds later it came back, playing a previously watched episode of House called… ‘Here Kitty Kitty’. The mystic cat strikes again! He then looked at me before jumping off of my desk and going to curl up on the sofa.

I duly switched off the internet and thanked him for reminding me of my intention to have an early night and go and watch House in bed. He truly is a most mystic kitty. Which is perhaps why I love this ‘Kitty is a very bad mystic’ youtube clip so much. Even if you don’t have a mystic cat to stroke I hope you enjoy it too. x

two books I loved this summer

It’s September! If you’re reading this in the UK then it’s a pleasure to be sharing these ‘gosh-it’s-fresh-out-there mornings’, turning leaves and rainbow-filled skies with you! If you’re further afield, warm greetings to you from here to there! I spent most of the summer being a french-speaking tour guide and re-writing and editing my forthcoming book (which I’m still doing now – hence my absence over on facebook!). Happily, I managed to make time to enjoy a few great books too. Here are my two favourites from Summer 2011.

Mark BoyleMy bathroom companion for the past two months has been ‘The Moneyless Man‘ – a book (not a person) all about, you guessed it, living without money. It’s written by Mark Boyle and I must admit, for a shopaholic, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. As is often the way when we need to hear or learn something, it came to me at a time when I’d been going through some changes surrounding how freely I give – of my love, my time, my energy and my services. I’d had an amazing day presenting for a charity in Devon, and was learning valuable lessons about the energy of service – namely that it makes me feel really good, as well as being really good for the people and planet. A few weeks later I was asked to interview Mark, the founder of the freeconomy movement (check that out if you haven’t already – it’s amazing!) who knows all about the energy generated through giving, at a festival for an online TV show. So that’s how I, a self-confessed shopoholic, ended up at his very inspiring talk, and went on to read his book. (I would never had read a book on living without money had I not seen first-hand what a loving, well-meaning, open-hearted and often self-deprecating guy he was.) Whatever your relationship to money, love it, hate it, see it as energy – whatever – I recommend reading the book. It’ll make you think differently about money. It’ll restore your faith in human kindness. And even if it doesn’t make you buy less, you’ll have learnt loads about living off grid and had lots of laughs along the way. Read more reviews of this book and buy it here

 

My bedroom companion last month was been Isabel Losada’s ‘Battersea Park Road to Paradise‘. (Don’t ask me why Mark got relegated to the bathroom and Isabel got the bedroom.) Despite loving her books ‘Men’ and ‘For Tibet, With Love’ in the interim, I’d been eagerly awaiting Isabel’s follow-up to ‘The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment’ for some years. And, so, ten years on, we catch up with Isabel’s journey towards being a more enlightened human being. She’s even more funny, wise, open-minded and thought-provoking than before and in this book takes us on journey through the pitfalls of feng shui, the high-energy of Anthony Robbins, the silence of vipassana, the peace of advaita and the mind-spangling, reality shifting world of ayahuasca. It’s a whirlwind of insight and practical tips – have a notepad to hand and save yourself a fortune on self-help workshops as Isabel’s brought you the best of them. On a professional level, Isabel’s one of the few author’s I’ve met who works tirelessly to ‘be a good author’ – she’s true to her fans, a gem to her publishers and, in my opinion, a shining star of inspiration. Read more and buy it here.    

 

If you like the sound of these books, you can see all my book recommendations (some with reviews) here.

being the change, from the inside out

A few years ago I became aware that the biggest form of pollution in my life was me. My reactions, my furrowed brow, my stressing. I saw how these things often caused a negative chain of events around me; something annoys me, I blame someone for it, they feel bad, they blame me or someone else, and more bad feelings go rippling out. So I started working with Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I was frustrated about the environment, but could see that if I wanted a greener planet, I’d have to start going green on the inside first – and taking responsibility for my stress. I wanted my child to grow up in a harmonious home, and take that experience out into the world, and to do that, I needed to be actively creating harmony within me. Except that for the most part, I didn’t feel harmonious on the inside. I felt stressed out.

I used to think of stress in terms of work pressure or external circumstances, like divorce or moving house. But through my training I began to see it more in terms of energy, and realised there was more to it than ‘fixing’ what was happening out there. I learnt to perceive the effect that stress has on our energy body – the foundation of our mental and physical well-being – and was fascinated (and less stressed) by the results.

Basically, anytime we feel out of balance, for example feeling frightened, angry, hurt or confused, we’re experiencing some kind of stress – a contraction of our energy. And when you feel stressed about something, it can be read as a sign that part of your energy field is in need of strengthening. Our life brings us what we need in order to grow. For example, if you’re overly fearful about your child falling over and hurting themselves, you need more energy at your navel – the seat of your courage and trust. If you can’t stop questioning your partner over where they’ve been and who they’ve been with, you’d benefit from more energy at your forehead – the home of clear thinking and bright moods.

Every form of stress we experience corresponds to a lack of energy within ourselves. It’s a pretty radical way of seeing things, as suddenly no-one else is responsible for how we feel. Sure, someone can be acting in a negative way towards you, but does that mean you have to get angry or feel hurt? No. Because if your energy is strong you won’t feel stressed by their actions. If you feel stressed then they’ve done you a favour by showing you a part of you that needs to become stronger. And the stronger your energy, the more appropriate your response to any given situation will be.

I remember a time when my partner told me that, for reasons out of his control, the romantic weekend away without the kids wasn’t happening. I felt uncontrollably emotional. But I knew in that moment that I had a choice. Either I could wallow in self-pity and make him feel bad for not taking me away, or I could do something to change my energy. I sat down to meditate and calm my breathing, bringing my attention to my breath, but I was too disturbed to concentrate, so I went for a power walk (a walking meditation taught by the School of Energy Awareness to eliminate stress from the energy body). After power walking for about 25 minutes I was much calmer. My energy had changed. I still felt some stress over the situation, but I was able to see what I needed to do. The power walk had given me the clarity to accept the situation, instead of feeling bad about it. I wasn’t angry anymore.

Another time I was rushing out of the door with my son to an appointment. Just as we shut the front door he said, “Mum, I need the loo!” So back in we went, and I stood outside the bathroom door, telling him to hurry up, while feeling annoyed at him for ‘making me late’. Then I noticed my energy. I felt stressed. Why? It wasn’t my son’s fault (when you gotta go you gotta go) and these things can’t be hurried. So I said “It’s ok, take your time” and went to meditate in the lounge. In that moment I decided to stop the stress and use the time in a positive way. Both my son and I gained from me having made that choice.

It’s these kind of choices that can successfully transform the stress being experienced into positive energy. And if you want to live a peaceful existence and not let yourself be knocked about emotionally by other people’s actions or stressed by the amount of things you have to do, then you can practise making this choice in times of stress. Do I carry on losing energy and feeling bad? Or can I do something to increase my energy and feel better again?

When you live your life in this way, things change. It’s not something that happens overnight, it’s a process, full of ups and downs. There’ll be times when you scream and shout ‘It’s not fair! It’s not my fault!’ but those times get fewer and fewer as your energy becomes stronger. Slowly, you notice that even though you’re still affected by things, it doesn’t last as long as it did before. And then, over time, you realise that you’re less affected by what’s happening around you. Eventually, you stop being at the mercy of your circumstances. It’s a bit like going to the gym. You expect to have good days and bad days, but you know each time you go you’re getting fitter. And that’s what’s happening when you start trying to change your energy. It may feel like you’re getting nowhere, but every time you choose to not react in the usual way, and instead choose to act in a way that helps your energy, you’re making a big difference to your future. You really are creating (or revealing!) a happier, peaceful and more balanced you, which of course goes a long way to creating a happier, more peaceful and balanced world. Which to me is what ‘being the change’ is all about.

how a mouse transformed my fear

I didn’t realise I was scared of mice until last night, when I found myself stood on my office chair, screaming, in full ‘Tom & Jerry’ style. I think my reaction shocked me just as much as did the little ball of fur scurrying around the kitchen floor. I mean, I was stood on a chair! I didn’t even notice myself do it – the reaction completely took control of my body and voice, which by that point was shouting out for my friend to come and save me. (We don’t have a cat for me to shout “THOMASSS!” at.) Needless to say, the mouse skedaddled as my scream pierced its eardrums, and I was left wondering where, why, when and.. how many?

I was woken the next morning by the sound of my son shouting “MUM!!!” in a louder than usual voice. Given that we’d not caught the mouse the night before (my housemate told me kindly that he was unable to ‘just catch it’ and that we’d have to get a trap the next day), I knew as I lay in my bed what that shout was for. “There’s a mouse in the lounge!!”

I’ll cut a long and rather sweet story short here, which involved borrowing a humane trap, catching the mouse, then giving my son an impromptu and deeply valuable lesson on letting go of the things you love. Quickly. As ‘Squeaky’ ran free (two miles away from home) Elliot looked at me and said, “Actually I feel quite happy seeing it run free Mum. I thought I’d be really sad, but even though I am sad, I’m happy ‘cos it looked so happy.” To which I replied, “That’s good practice. You might have to do that with a girlfriend one day”.

But I digress. As this is a blog about transforming stresses into higher awareness – I’ll get back to telling you how the mouse was in fact, my guide. It showed me part of my energy field that was in need of strengthening – in this case, my third chakra. This is the energy centre at the navel that, when spinning healthily, gives us the qualities of courage, determination and will power. So you can see how this lil’ mouse – whose very presence made me jump two feet in the air – was kindly showing me that my third chakra was in need of some repair work.

Squeaky the Mouse Guru

Fortunately I have a toolkit of energy awareness exercises and practices that can help me begin that process. And that’s what I do. And sometimes help other do too. The reason that I do all this stuff is simple. The more I strengthen my energy, the better life gets. I don’t mean better in terms of material things, although that may well be a nice side-effect, but better in terms of a deepening awareness of Spirit. Which is, after all, why I am here.

Amazing how a tiny mouse can trigger all that. Thank-you Squeakyji. Next time, I’ll try not to scream.