Discover more from Things That Make My Heart Sing by Melissa Hemsley
Wise words from a wise woman
In conversation with Donna Lancaster
As well as a perky Spring recipe (scroll down), today I’m kickstarting a new section of the newsletter where I’m chatting with some of my favourite people. Once a month I’ll be asking an interviewee 10 questions which explore their life, food and feel good tips to give you an insight into them and their work. Tell me who you’d like to hear from in the comments below!
I hope you enjoy this conversation with my coach and therapist Donna Lancaster. Stay tuned for more conversations like this to come!
In a nutshell, what do you do and how did you get there?
I work with people who are interested in healing and awakening. People committed to ‘be the change’. I work both 1:1 and in groups. My work has evolved over the years as I have, but I have always worked with, and for people in some capacity. From women’s refuges and prisons to week long residential retreats. I found my way here through my own healing journey which included a lot of pain. I always say that pain has been my greatest spiritual teacher. I am who I am because of the wounds I have healed and transformed into wisdom.
When do you feel your best? / What makes you feel your best?
I am a morning person so early mornings are when I’m at my best. I love to rise before the world does and to sit quietly with my coffee watching the sunrise and doing my writing, reading, and journaling. This always sets me up for the day.
My non religious prayers help me feel at my best. Through gratitude and sending love to others, I become the best version of myself. I also love my morning gym sessions.
Please share some of your feel good tips (for morning, day time and evening)?
Time alone and without distractions. Dancing daily, just because…
I recommend having morning ‘Dates with Wonder’ whereby you go out in nature and look at everyone and everything as if you are seeing it for the first time. Prepare to fall in Love….
I LOVE a mid day bath in the winter. There’s something so nurturing and blissful about a bath when I ‘should’ be working. (I don’t believe in ‘shoulds’ btw). For evenings, I enjoy reading. Nothing on Netflix beats a juicy novel for me.
What’s your favourite season?
Spring (or any season but winter!)
I know you love cooking - what’s the ingredient you couldn’t live without or best sums you up?
Ha ha. I love others cooking! Ingredients wise I am a black pepper girl. Without even tasting a savoury dish, I’ll add pepper to it regardless. Salt I can leave but not pepper. I have also developed a liking for feta. I blame you Melissa.
What is your fave comfort meal?
Soup. I could eat soup all day. Chunky though, never pureed. Yuk! Also a jacket potato. This immediately comforts me. Just the words ‘jacket potato’ make me feel better.
What’s your afternoon pick me up?
A nap or a quick wiggle followed by a giggle in the kitchen to some music.
A ‘chore’ you find satisfying and relaxing?
I don’t find any household chores relaxing! But I do get great satisfaction from clearing my inbox. I feel relaxed and free for a brief moment, and then……
A book you’d recommend we read immediately
Taste in books, like music, is so subjective but I absolutely loved the novel ‘The Mermaid of Black Conch’ by Monique Roffey. I am still mourning it’s end and haven’t found something as good since.
For personal development, I recommend ‘It Didn’t Start With You’ by Mark Wolynn, an illuminating book exploring the impact of unhealed generational trauma (and yes I know I need to get out more).
Tell us about a small business you love
Afrori books in Brighton. A wonderful black owned independent book shop that celebrates authors of black origin. It’s so much more than a book shop though, offering support and creative fun for the local community. They are currently trying to raise funds to relocate, and they also offer an online book service too.
In honour of Donna’s love of chunky soups, this week I’m sharing a recipe for spring minestrone. It’s very flexible, swap the greens for whatever you have and use whatever white beans you like. For topping, either keep it simple with a nice glue of extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan or whizz up a quick pesto or salsa verde.
Feeds 4, takes 25 mins
2 celery sticks, diced
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh
1 litre veg stock or broth
300g tender stem broccoli or asparagus when in season, diced
1x 400g tin white beans, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls of frozen peas
2 handfuls of frozen broad beans
Sea salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Pesto (I’m loving this kale pesto recipe at the moment)
In a medium saucepan, gently fry the leek, celery and fennel in the butter on a low heat for 8 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for a few minutes.
Add the stock, broccoli and beans and bring up to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the peas and broad beans for just 1 minute until the veg has turned bright green. Take the pan off the heat and season to taste. Serve up straight away with whatever toppings you like.