Category Archives: Mindfulness

around the corner…

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Following on from my holiday moments, I was away at the weekend on a study residential. It is located in a beautiful hotel and setting. The previous two times, my only wondering has been from the car park to the reception. As this was my last one, and following my missed moments in France, I thought I would see what I could find. IMG_2550.JPG

I stirred myself in to going out for a work… a comfy sofa and cross-stitch was far more appealing- but I decided that I really should not be so lazy all the time.

I have travelled to a variety of countries, but Im not really an explorer. I always travelled with intention- to visit someone, work in a project, do a certain thing… I’ve never travelled for the adventure. There aren’t really any things I want to see either. My usual goal in life is to do as little as possible, preferably with cup of tea in hand and being horizontal. A book or yarn in hand is the Brucie Bonus.

But I decided to ‘explore’. I turned left instead of right and walked. And I quite literally came across the most gorgeous lake. One moment it wasn’t there- the next moment it was. It was such a gift. A true gift. IMG_2552.JPG

So may be sometimes, its good not to accept the status quo and perhaps see if there is more out there?

Thanks for listening.

round the corner

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Unknown.pngThe shift described in my previous post had started. And it continued.

 

 

I really do find myself extremely frustrating and very difficult to manage most of the time.

One of my frustrations is that I feel like I can’t do ‘normal’ things like other people. I compare myself to other people a lot and always come up lacking (like we all do).

Other people can drill holes in walls. Other people don’t get lost as easily as I do. Other people can measure sizes better than I. Other people are nicer than I am… other people manage to have food in the cupboards and clean floors… you know the usual script we all tell ourselves.

But one thing that I was determined to conquer this holiday, was my frustration that I can’t just take myself off by myself and walk up a mountain. Ideally, I would have others to do that with, but what if I don’t have others to join me… am I just not going to do it? If I want to do something just get a grip and do it…

Unknown-1.pngSo this holiday, while my friends were skiing. I decided to go up a mountain. By myself. This was one of the most STUPID things I have done in a while. It’s all very well me doing my intrepid explorer rubbish- but going up a mountain by yourself is sometimes just STUPID.

I had a guide book. But not much else. Unsuitable footwear which meant I literally had to crawl along some icy patches. I couldn’t work out how to move the time on my fitbit back so my watch said one thing and my phone the other. But the problem was, I couldn’t seem to work out which one was correct! Unfortunately while on the mountain I was following my fitbit time when I should have been using the phone and I was an hour out which meant I had to RUUUUUUNN to catch the last cable car down the mountain. Just ridiculous!

I also discovered that I get very confused over left and right (sorry, I just do) and up and down. And when the book said walk this way for 100 metres, I have absolutely NO IDEA whatsoever, what that actually means. I just find distances very tricky to judge- so I literally couldn’t work out where I was, where I had to go and how on earth I was going to do it.

In reality, I wasn’t in any danger. I had a phone and signal. It was light. Nothing was going to go really wrong as long as I didn’t slip over the edge. But I was so determined to reach the end of this blooming trail. The problem being… the destination wasn’t signposted and I didn’t really know what I was looking for. images.jpeg

The book said Mount Clary. I presumed this was a mountain? but mountains don’t have labels usually- it could have been any of them! I was told there was a cafe at the destination. I subsequently found out that the signs I hoped would say Mount Clary, were actually saying the name of the restaurant (but I didn’t know that).

At times the guide book was really vague. When roads split off, I didn’t know which one to take. So of course I ended up taking the wrong one. My idealistic notions of climbing a mountain and enjoying the view at the end were crashing down by the minute. (It was also very cloudy so I couldn’t actually see Mount Blanc either!)

I remembered my mantra. I wasn’t going to keep on searching wondering if the destination was around the corner. I got to an end point (as I saw it) and stayed there.IMG_2380.JPG

That evening I discovered that I was literally about 2 mins away from the cafe!!!! If I had just kept on to the next bend I would have reached Mount Clary. Such a bummer. So near and yet so far. As it turns out, by this point I discovered the issue with my timings so I wouldn’t have been able to have a hot chocolate any way. But that wasn’t the point. I wanted to be able to say I had got myself from Les Gets to Mount Clary by myself.

“One more bend… a few more steps… if I had just…”  the voice I don’t want to live with… but two near misses in as many days… what’s happening?

shifting?

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My ex-fiance had an extremely annoying habit of always trying to find something better… we would drive for ages in a bid to find a better car parking space. We would walk the whole length of the beach to try and find the best spot. It used to drive me mad! Just park the damn car. Find a spot and sit down for goodness sake.

Along with never running for a tube train or bus ever again, I decided that once we split up I would never do that kind of thing. I didn’t want to always be looking for something better… never satisfied… always wondering if there was something better out there. images-1.jpeg

But recently, some 18 years later, I’ve had a number of quick succession of events that have made me question this approach.

At Easter I went ski-ing. I had to wait at Geneva airport for the rest of my friends to join me. I have done this before and I knew of a bar where I could sit and stitch to my hearts content. So at departures I turned right and went to the bar I had been to previously. I ended up having to wait about 5 hours and I was relatively settled. Except, the bar is dark. I wouldn’t go as far as dingy- but definitely dark. I really cannot stand being in ‘ambient’ lighting so it was bothering me- but not enough to make me find somewhere else. (I stuck to my above mantra).

As it happens when I joined my friends we turned left at the departures and my word I was surrounded with the bars/ cafes galore- all really light and airy with comfy seats! I was gutted. I genuinely felt disappointed. I had sat for over 5 hours in a dark den, when light was 200 metres away.

images.pngIt was then I began to question my previous aversion to exploring. But I don’t like the ‘what if’s’… what if I turned left instead of right… what if I’d checked out the whole airport… why did I assume this was all there was… and I could drive myself ad infinutum with that kind of thinking. But something was beginning to shift… images.jpeg

 

sometimes we just don’t see…

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I have been to Royal Festival Hall in London’s South Bank numerous times. I used to live near it and it was a regular haunt and now it is my venue of choice to meet up with friends. I have performed there in my own right and also sung with my school choir. I’ve watched concerts there, been to talks and attended teacher training events, enjoyed the market and just sat and watched life go by.

I think my first visit was in 1987 and I’ve been pretty regular ever since.

But to my shame I’ve never noticed THIS….

Unknown.jpeg the Nelson Mandela statue. It was installed in 1985 and for the past 29 years I’ve walked past it and NEVER seen it. Can you believe it!!!!

Last week, a friend said let’s meet at the Nelson Mandela statue and I had to google it as I didn’t know where it was. This is so hard to believe that I do wonder whether I’ve just forgotten that I knew it… but I had no recollection of ever seeing it.

So I arrived early and studied this wonderful sculpture. It is massive! It is so textured. It is amazing.

I’ve been really bothered by the ability to not actually ‘see’ something that I’ve walked past for nearly 30 years. The saying ‘none so blind as those that don’t want to see’ has been ringing in my ears. So once again I’ve been remembering to lift my eyes to look at the clouds. To be intentional in my actions. To consciously try not to ‘walk past’ life. It’s amazing how easy it is not to really live.

I’ve had an email from a  parent saying I returned a slip to her unsigned- but I remember opening the envelope- but I didn’t actually end up signing the form! It’s a timely and humbling reminder that I need to be more mindful. I’m on auto-pilot and I don’t like it- it makes life a very bland place. I literally do need to wake up and smell the roses!

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Thanks for listening

Books, glorious books! 

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As a child and teenager, books were my salvation. I was a constant reader, devouring pages like a hungry woman. Mainly novels- but not exclusively. I liked ‘reading round’ subjects… While studying Bach for my A level Music I remember reading a wonderful book on Baroque architecture. 

My family were not very book orientated. My dad was unable to read or write until the day he died. My mum and brother could read (albeit non fluently) but never did for enjoyment. My sister can read and will still read when on holiday. 

This holiday I’ve remembered again that reading is one of the few things that requires me to do it one-mindfully. I cannot read and do anything else at the same time (apart from drinking tea). When I crochet or knit I can still chat or be aware of the tele. When I bake I can listen to the archers! When I write I can still have a vague conversation with someone. But when I read it demands all of me. Which is possibly why I don’t do it as much as I should. I can’t read with music or tele on, it is far too distracting. It is one activity that demands me to be as DBT describes- one-mindful. 

What a gift. I need to move from reading being a treat (normally reserved for holidays) to reading being part of keeping sane regime. It’s one of the few medicines that really is quite pleasant! 

Thanks for listening. Enjoy doing something one-mindfully, it’s good for the soul! 

Being Alive

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The reason Rodney and Alice are prepared to rent their caravan to me is that they are sun-adorers and have never used the caravan in the Autumn/ Winter at all. They can’t think of anything worse… I on the other hand can’t think of anything better!

I love it when the sun is out, but I do not like being in the sun. (In Bulgaria, I am covered head to toe and sit in the shade all day long- I think I was paler when I left there as to when I arrived- I hadn’t topped up my fake tan!)

Wind and rain have a soothing effect on me. I have been known to go and sit in my car in the rain as I love the sound of rain on a car. I have also done that in my log cabin and as I write, the rain is pouring down on my caravan and I LOVE IT! The sound of the rain lashing down but me being safe inside has a cathartic effect on me. The doors and windows are open – outside is wet- I am dry. (unlike camping which I do not like when it is raining!)

I also love a ferocious wind. Walking along by the sea with the wind blowing and the sea choppy is a treat. Because I feel alive. Many, many times- thankfully decreasing all the time, I have just existed and sometimes I just feel ‘dead’. Nothing can seem to break through. But the wind and rain have always been able to penetrate that feeling, and I am grateful for that.

So Autumn/ Winter on an Easterly Island is absolutely fine by me. I need to make sure I have a set of suitable clothing at the caravan… but I will be ok. It will be lovely to be here when the sun is out, but it will be equally lovely to be hear when it is not. I am ok.

Thanks for listening.

DREAMS can come true…

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 I returned from a trip to Mozambique in June 2010. My ‘dreams’ as I believed them were shattered. Ripped into zillions of little pieces that seemed impossible to rebuild. My life as I had imagined it would be- ended. (possibly only temporarily, but nevertheless the overwhelming feeling of ‘lostness’ and ‘grief’ was tangible.

I went to spend some time with a friend in the South of England who has a real passion for helping people get in touch with their dreams and passions. It was a painful weekend but an important one. I was drowning in the ‘impossibilities’. Everything I thought I wanted seemed beyond my grasp. I was surrounded and allowed myself to believe that life had nothing left me and I certainly had nothing left for life.

Regular readers will know that this event helped precipitate a period of depression that finally led me to starting DBT. There is nothing magic about DBT. But for me, it finally gave me the tools to manage myself, my pain and to begin to dream and believe that life might actually be worth living.

DBT, coupled with training to be a life-coach and my work with my friend Agnes has enabled me to turn my life around. I’ve blogged before about the beautiful gift my friend Emily gave me: a print with the words

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams. Live the life you imagined. 

So I’ve been trying to get in touch with that imagined life. This morning, I am blogging from one of those dreams.

I’ve always wanted a safe space that I can escape to. A place where I can write, dream, re-charge, rest, just be. Somewhere for weekends, somewhere to invite friends to and somewhere that I can offer to people as a retreat place. I’ve been fairly unattached to the mode of this place… cottage, boat, lodge however when I searched my heart I realised I have ALWAYS had a bit of a hankering for a static caravan or camper van. I’m not entirely sure why. We did not have family holidays as children but I do have one memory of visiting a caravan site… and I remember going on a caravan holiday with Ricky and us just walking for hours along the sea coast. I looked at buying one a few years ago when I was actually earning money but I never grasped the moment and since then my salary took a bit of a dip…

I have a beautiful home that I thank God for every day. I love it and I’m very happy there- but I still find a hankering in me to be able to withdraw)

This Summer I was in Bulgaria with my sister and friends. I spent a lot of time thinking, dreaming, planning (I love it!). I wrote this in my private journal (I journal as well as blog, I write everything in my journal that is definitely not fit for public consumption! – I use my journal far more than blogging!)

WEDNESDAY 13th August 2014.

+ to have a weekend/ holiday retreat:
caravan?
lodge?
cottage?
1.5 hours MAX drive away
by water (not necessarily sea)
available for friends to visit me or use if they want

Sometimes life takes on crazy exciting and circumstances and today, Sunday 7th September 2014 I am blogging from a caravan, on an Island, 1 and 1/4 hours drive from my house! I am not in a position to buy it, but I was introduced to a couple who were amazingly willing to rent it to me for the next 4 months. This enables me to see how much use I make of it and whether it is something I really want. Renting means I cannot make it my own obviously, but I can use it.

I’ve been here since Friday tea-time. It is on a holiday site with an indoor pool and entertainment so hopefully my friends with children might be able to visit. It sleeps 6. It has central heating. It is placed on a most delightful Island which has so much to explore. It is a quiet site, mainly older people. And for the next 4 months it is mine. It has absolutely no internet- I am writing this in word and may or may not publish when I get home. I do have weak phone signal. I have not been able to get the TV to work. I do not want to waste time watching TV however the thought of watching X Factor and Strictly while cozied up on my couch is very appealing so I hope I can get that sorted.

I have read lots, blogged some, walked much and a friend came to visit yesterday which was lovely.

This next school term is a busy and important one for me. I know completely that the harder I work, the harder I will need to rest. I am so utterly humbled and grateful that for the first time in my entire life I want to give myself that gift.

This morning I was reading a chapter from Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s 8 week Mindfulness Course. They write, “… it’s difficult to be curious and unhappy at the same time.” p. 61 I have an island to explore, I think that will keep me curious!

In July I visited a friend who had just purchased these pictures… I absolutely loved them. I wondered whether I had internalised them and that IMG_0908is why my journal entry in August came out.IMG_0909 Last week I visited her and she had gifted me a set of them. Today, they are on the mantelpiece of my caravan.

Dare to dream, they can come true.

Thanks for listening.