As well as being an adoptee myself I am also the 51 year old late blooming mother of a beautiful, much wanted and hoped for adopted three year old son. Adopting my son was the conclusion of a long, deeply meaningful and epic journey and a new beginning. Finally becoming a mother has brought me complete untold joy.

Whilst I have blossomed into this new journey of motherhood, I have also faced another ending and a new beginning, that of passing through menopause, the end of fertility and entering into a new stage of my life. My blog therefore is really not just about being a late-blooming mama but what it means to be a woman blossoming into my ‘wise woman’ years. Learning for myself how to embrace it not as a time of fear and endings but of truly coming into the full ripeness of myself as a woman.

With my professional background in Aromatherapy, Natural Skin Care, Health and Holistic Therapies and with my own superficial fears of looking like ‘grandma’ at the school gates (!), I want to explore and ultimately celebrate a more positive vision of timeless, naturally glowing, radiant late- blooming beauty, which has less to do with the wrinkles on your face and more to do with a twinkle in your eye! Also to explore how I can achieve the boundless energy and shining health I will need to enjoy every moment of my son growing up, live as long and as I can as an older mother and achieve other dreams I have for myself moving forward.

Most important though my aim is to inspire myself and other wonderful late-blooming women (of which there are many) to look positively at this next stage of our lives and see it as a time of blossoming into our most vibrant, beautiful, creative, authentic, 'wise woman' selves.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Nine simple secrets for a long, happy and healthy life from the 'Village of Eternal Youth'

Simple Pleasures

' I came to Camodimele hoping 
I might learn how to live longer, 
but discovered something much 
more important- how to live well'

We all want to live long and healthy lives but, if you are like me, the wealth of information out there as to what actually constitutes a healthy optimum diet can feel overwhelming! In the last few years,whilst pursuing a diet to optimise fertility, I discovered that interest in a raw food way of eating had blossomed and was becoming an increasingly more popular choice amongst nutritionist and optimum health and longevity seekers.  

The arguments as to why this is the optimum diet are absolutely sound. In simple terms unlike all others animals, apart from domesticated pets, we eat our food cooked. It makes no sense on many levels to cook food as we destroy many of the enzymes, vitamins, minerals and macro and micro nutrients available to us. A live food bursting with nutritional goodness is transformed into a dead depleted version of its true self .The raw food diet/living food is about eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wild edible greens, sprouts, superfoods (which includes raw chocolate!) and herbs and oils in their raw unprocessed form. Raw food cuisine has burst onto the health scene all over the world with a wealth of information, delicious recipes, restaurants (check out London and Brighton!) and even raw food coaches are available to help you transition to a high raw way of eating.  I am completely sold that for optimum health, healing, glowing skin and eyes, vitality and boundless energy this diet is the ultimate. 

I would thoroughly recommend (if this subject interests you) that you begin with Karen Knowler on her website


Whilst agreeing that including lots of raw/ living foods into our diet is the best way forward, I also became aware that all of the long living cultures in the world do include cooked food in their diet as well. I want to eat healthily and well but I do want some flexibility to include and enjoy cooked foods and various cuisines. I don't want it to be about strict denial nor becoming obsessive.

 So what are the simple rules about diet which experts agree on and which all longer living communities throughout the world (who often eat different foods because of whats available in their particular environment) share in common.Let me introduce you to our very own long living cousins living on a hyper Mediterranean diet in a village in the mountains of Italy!

'La Montagna ti da tutto'  The mountain gives you everything

I am enchanted by Italy. It is a place that warms my heart and makes all my senses come alive. Its not just about the beauty of its landscapes, its extraordinarily rich cultural heritage, its architecture, its stunning works of art but its about the people and lifestyle. A zest and passion for life, a love of family, a value in friendship , a joy in simple pleasures and a cuisine for which they are famed.

  So with my love of good food, my interest in healthy living combined with my love of  Italy I was delighted to discover the book ' A Year in the Village of Eternity' by Tracy Lawson. Campodimele is  a village perched high in the Italian Mountains. Made famous in Europe for the long and vital life of its inhabitants the people remain extraordinarily active into their eighties and beyond with the average live expectancy being 95. Tracy lived amongst the villagers for a few years and was welcomed into the hearts and homes. She shared their lives, was taught their recipes (nutritious, simple and tasty, perfect!) and how they prepared and preserved their food. She learnt about their deep connection to the land, respect of the seasons ' Ogni cosa ha il suo momento' (everything has its time) and their approach to life.

Aaaah to sample the local olive oil that 'tastes like the scent of the mountains on a warm summer days - fruity, grassy, perhaps a hint of herbs, strong and distinctive' 

So what can we learn from the villagers about the 'Cibo Genuino' genuine food that they prize so highly and their tips for longevity and abundant health and happiness.

  • Eat locally grown produce that is organic and in season. The people of Campodimele grow much of their own produce on land that is free from chemicals, harvested at the peak of perfection and eaten in season. They do use preserving techniques to store their produce but living by their rules of Cibo Genuino  means that is preserved using natural techniques without chemicals, such as freezing or in olive oil, natural salt etc. They eat their fruits and vegetables raw and cooked but they eat lots of them. So to follow their example eat an abundance of colourful fruits and vegetables. Make these the heart of your diet. Learn to make smoothies and explore the world of juicing. Really enjoy natures abundance but always choose, local organic and in season when you can  and if not frozen berries out of season are great for smoothies! Better still learn to grow your own or source a good supplier locally.  
  • Eat Wild Edibles. The people of Campodimele have a philosophy that the mountain will provide and harvest fresh green edibles all year round. They also include a simple green salad in their diet everyday. Green and most particularly wild greens pack a power punch of nutrition and they are the best secret to great health. Again an easy way to get more of those into your diet is through green smoothies and juices. A wonderful start would be to access the work of Victoria Boutenco and her green smoothie revolution (!) and her son Sergei who is an expert on picking and living on wild green
  • Drink clean mountain water . Difficult to access I know! So when possible choose spring water as much as you can, preferably from organic land in glass bottles unless you can find a local supplier!! I know its expensive but good clean water is absolutely vital to our health.
  • Breathe clean air, free of air pollution.Try to get out into nature, into the woods, by the beach, climb some hills and breathe deeply as much as you can right from your belly!
  • Eat meat, eggs and dairy that is free range and from lean, healthy animals. The people of Campodimele eat chicken, wild boar and hare that live wild in the mountains and free range oily fish from coastal area nearby. Meat is also limited and lots of legumes are eaten by the locals which are high in protein and low in saturated fat. If you choose to eat meat or fish always choose free range/wild and organic and limit your consumption 

  • Simplify your life and reduce your stress. Really prioritise whats truly important
.....and relax
  • Take lots of physical activity. Walk, cycle, run, swim, skip, dance, play sport, do yoga, just do lots of it particularly outside and enjoy moving your body.
  • Find a sense of belonging and community. Cultivate friendships. Build family bonds. Live with passion and purpose. Become part of the community, local and global through others with shared interests.
  • Find a sense of spiritual connection. Cultivate inner peace and connectedness in whatever way sings to your soul.
  • Recognise your connection to nature Cutivate a respect for the earth, for animals, the seasons and living in harmony with natures rythmes.
There is no place for processed acidic chemical and additive laden foods and drinks. The food is produced in soil free from pesticides and nourished with clean pure water. They eat the food within hours of it being harvested or use natural methods to preserve their food. They prepare food that is a delight to the senses, is simple and highly nutritious.They do drink coffee, they do enjoy wine but not too much. They live low stress lives, connected to the land, the seasons, their family, community and their God. 

That is the simple secret to a  healthy happy and active life until very old age Campodimele style. 

I raise a glass to that :)


  1. Great blog - really well written. Who is the mysterious fellow at the end?? x

  2. Best one yet! Let's meet for some simple pleasures this week, that is walking with dog and children in woods and eating something organic afterwards, preferably from the cake family ;-) P xx

  3. wonderful, yes who is that mysterious and debonair male at the end?? :-)

  4. Really excellent. Well done Sam! xx

    1. Thank you SC much appreciated! Welcome if you are a new follower or thank you Susan or Steve :)

  5. I Like, Sam! I'm finding ways that sing to my soul...just a few too many ways. How to simplify, when your soul loves a symphony of ways??

    1. Symphony 'anything characterized by a harmonious combination of elements, especially an effective combination of colours.
      'Harmony of sounds'
      Thats what you are and thats what you bring to the world Leila. Embrace your complexity it makes for a richer experience for all of us XX

  6. Very nice entry and really interesting. Tell Batch that his paper was upside down!!