Monthly Archives: March 2011

Slowly does it

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Some days are just slow I suppose. Or more accurately, some days I am. I am getting into some new routines, spending half an hour every day in meditation, writing, focusing on health and well-being. I went back and edited myself saying ‘trying to meditate’, even though that’s what it feels like today. I know that saying I’m ‘trying’ to do something is not a great message for my brain. She likes to have clarity! So I’m pretty much sticking with I’m doing it. But today I was all over the place. I have this great CD for relaxation / meditation ( actually I have several, but this is my favourite right now). I find having a CD with a soothing voice and a guided meditation helps me travel to that still place more easily. When I’m in the zone it sort of happens straight away. I feel my breathing start to slow, a sense of deep calm and stillness descends, the light flows. Sometimes it feels like I’m almost not breathing at all the peace is so quiet and deep. And coming back from that place needs a gentle re-entry into the world. A stretch, a glass of water. But then the feeling of calm and being settled is tangible through the day.

Today, humph, none of that worked. My ‘thinking’ brain just kept wandering off down her own little pathways. Afterwards I jotted a few of them down, son 22 is he going to get a job soon, volunteer working, phone the electrician, the shower is dripping again, its windy outside, should I go swimming, back to work next week am I a bit anxious. Every time I noticed where I had gone I blessed those wandering thoughts and came back to the breathing and light. And whoa, there I was off again.

Bu I did it. And I’m thinking well some days that’s just how life is isn’t it? We have a plan or a focus and we set out firmly with the intention of dealing with that part of the day. Then stuff happens. The phone rings, mum has a fall, the double glazing salesman is at he door, you scrape the car reversing out the drive, lunch is late because the meeting over-ran and your next appointment arrives early,we get sick, our kids need a hug.

So what’s the answer? Here are a  few of my ( wandering) thoughts for today :

Life happens, get over it

Breathe, in, out. Repeat

Make a routine and stick to it. I take my vitamins after breakfast, that way I remember. Fix a time to meditate thats going to work for you. Make a sign for the door, tell the kids, turn the phone off. Im still working on this one, stick with me here.

Make lists – to do lists, gratitude lists, tick boxes in your journal – breakfast ( tick), vitamins ( tick), meditation ( tick), take dog for walk ( tick), pray, say thank you, you get the message. And buy yourself some stickers. Stickers are awesome! Award yourself a happy face, a funny cupcake, a fairy for each tick. Now you feel good 🙂

 

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Thank you

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Grace

Thank you for the world so sweet

Thank you for the food we eat

Thank you for the birds that sing

Thank you God for everything.

 

Remember when everything was that simple?

Yesterday I read something a friend had written in a newsletter and it made me sit up and think: Radiant Recovery newsletter – Jenny’s story ( Kathleen’s article)

Talking about the ‘joy dots’ is just another way of re-framing. Noticing the ‘sparkling moments’ in our everyday lives, those tha get crowded out in the busyness, grunge and irritations of domesticity, work, relationships. Forgetting to say thank you, to each other, to Spirit or God, to ourselves.

Here is one of my favourite blogs by Leah whose mother always made her write thank you notes: Thanks

So for today here is my list:

Sunshine

Doggie devotion

A friendly plumber to mend the shower and stop that dripping!

Roses on the fireplace, pale pink with subtle green paper petals

For the arguments we have over silly petty things, that teach us more every day about each other

For the long-haul of a relationship through good times and bad, for knowing someone so well and being known. For sometimes wondering if we know each other at all and realsing we have lots of opportunities to get to know each other better

For kindness and compassion

For great residential care, you keep mum safe and happy and make my life a helluva lot easier and with much better sleep

For our extended, blended, complicated, wonderful family

For 4 boys who are pretty much men, you taught me unconditional love, both ways

blackcurrant tea

Red post vans – always hopeful you’ll have something for me

Kindle- I love getting free books, and you are making me read ones Id never have thought of if they weren’t

The gym – I can’t use you right now, but I like it that you’re there just waiting for me to burst back through those doors and get fit

Facebook – for happy hours spent looking at other peoples photos, making me laugh out loud with my oh so witty fb friends and giving me the impression I am funny and popular in my virtual world

Meditation – every day you remind me of how much I need you, how often I forget you and how calming and centering you can be.

Affirmation – You sit by my bedside, lurk in my notebooks and journal, whisper in my head. Sometimes I remember to use you. Thank you for giving me a nudge.

Exercise – oh how I love you, let me count the ways. Erm I am working on my couch potato existence, thank you for making it possible for this curvy, unfit, 50+ gymophhobe to have a vision of a curvier, fitter,60+++

Holidays – thinking of them, dreaming of them, imagining them, planning them. Wishing we could have one, counting the pennies, hours spent on brochures, travel sections, websites and talking to friends about them. Looking at photos of them, remembering weekends from Wales to Barcelona, retreats in Salisbury and Albuquerque, summers camping in Norfolk to villa in Croatia, roughing it at Glastonbury and birthday weekends in posh hotels in Manchester.

 

 

 

What you focus on grows …..

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A good friend reminded me the other night of the work of Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun. Digging out one of her books today ” When things fall apart’, made me think about the thorny old problem of accepting what is, the experience of now as the only moment we have. In my pondering moment, usually when falling asleep or waking up, I had a little nudge from my subconscious to focus on what I want to grow. So talking, thinking , writing about health, life, abundance and energy is great but it can be all too easy to let it slip into focusing on feeling ill, worrying about the future, complaining that I’m not getting better quicker.

We use all kinds of ways to escape-all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain. Pema Chodron

So it seems to me that I need a bit of a plan 🙂

What works for me?

Daily affirmations: What do I know? I know they are best if they really resonate emotionally, so writing them for myself is the best way forward. I need to really look at my goals and then come up with an affirmation that fits the promise of that goal materialising. And its really important that the affirmation is in the present tense, my mind has to believe it is already taking place. And I know I can always fall back on the words and wisdom of teachers like Louise Hay whose ‘power ‘cards I have in my bedside drawer. Here are todays ‘random’ pickings:

An affirmation is a positive statement of (positive) belief, and if we can become one-tenth as good at positive self-talk as we are at negative self-talk, we will notice an enormous change. Julia Cameron

And here is my own for today : I am full of vibrant health and energy


Meditation Meditation is an invitation to notice when we reach our limit and to not get carried away by hope and fear.

In practicing meditation we’re not trying to live up to some sort of ideal-quite the opposite. We’re just being with our experience, whatever it is.

Pema Chodron

Writing –  I love this answer from Julia Cameron, author of the magical ‘The Artists Way’ on her Q and A

Q: One of the central themes of The Artist’s Way is the link between creativity and spirituality. How are they connected?

A: Creativity is a spiritual force. The force that drives the green fuse through the flower, as Dylan Thomas defined his idea of the life force, is the same urge that drives us toward creation. There is a central will to create that is part of our human heritage and potential. Because creation is always an act of faith, and faith is a spiritual issue, so is creativity. As we strive for our highest selves, our spiritual selves, we cannot help but be more aware, more proactive, and more creative.

Writing something every day is part of my path to wellness. I have always written since I was old enough to hold a pen, poems and stories, musings, posts and emails. But my creative writing had dried up along with my energy, health and general well being. No coincidence there then. So this period of the gift of being home and recuperating with spring in the air and the beginnings of new life all around has given me the opportunity to re-connect. My commitment is to write something every day. I may not always share, but the process of ‘putting something out there’ has a sort of symbolism of its own. I want to be accountable for my health, my creativity and for being connected. If I can write something tha connects with someone else then that is a joy and somehow part of my healing.

Today we heard of the death of a friend. A woman of life, laughter and fun, passion, committment and friendliness. This is for her. RIP Lynne wherever you are.

Protest

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Protest

The UK  has a history of protest and marching that can unite and divide but is never static. Sometimes it can feel as if no-one cares any more and then a protest like today happens that unites hundreds of thousands of people. Todays march in London, organised by the TUC and called ‘March for the Alternative’ was to challenge the current UK coalition Government on their plans to make swingeing cuts in public services. The swell of public feeling in the Capital City today seems to indicate the way in which the UK spirit of supporting the underdog might just be alive and well.

We all know when public services get cut it is the poor, the young, the unemployed and the most vulnerable who get hit the most.Today the UK stood up and was counted and I’m proud of us.I’ve been supporting from my sofa, wearing my badge, wristband and with my mini placards. I’ve tweeted and facebooked and texted Mrs T and a BF who were there in person and checking in all along the way. Its been like having a ringside seat and giving a commentary at the same time.   

Today in the local paper I saw that we had lost the fight to save two local swimming pools in the poorest areas of our city. One caters especially for disabled swimmers with a warmer pool, hoist and special sessions. Teachers for the deaf and visually impaired are being cut in local Education services. Those children will no longer be able to access the whole curriculum. Childrens Centres will have their staff and services cut so parents of children under 5 will have nowhere to meet, get support and a cup of tea and parenting help. The list is endless.

Yes it makes me mad.   

Ive been sitting here today tracing a line in my head of the ways in which the personal and political make sense to me. From the 70’s feminism latching onto my heart and mind, connecting back to the suffragette sisters, the women who have always been there alongside the men – wives and mothers of the north east, the miners, the pottery workers. Skip to the nuclear weapon protests of the 50;s, 60’s and 80’s Aldermaston and Greenham Common, Faslane, the silent every day protests that still go on. The anti-war movement, Vietnam, the Falklands, Iraq, always more. You could weep with th pain of it, rage at the waste of it, despair at the lessons that repeat and repeat. But the spark, the hope, the stubborn quiet little voice just doesn’t quite go away. Some how there is always that belief that we can make a difference, make things better and that together we are stronger.

Sometimes saying what is in our hearts means standing up to be counted.

 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 – 1978)

 

 

Only as old as you feel?

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Right now That’s about 75. Combine being fat and unfit with nearly 4 weeks of complete physical inactivity and this slightly reluctant couch potato has become mash. Top of my wish list for 12 months time is to be feeling my age, if not my shoe size rather than feeling like Im wearing someone else’s Granny slippers along with the compression stocking I have been promised as a short-term ( please God) solution to the ravages of recent cellulitis.

Today I ventured out again for a short walk with G the dog. Luckily he is very accommodating of my current snails pace as long as we can get to the field and he can run and pretend to be a puppy. He is the perfect example to me. He was pretty overweight and very unfit after a few years of too many treats and not enough exercise and gradually step by step we got him back into condition. So if I just stick to his dry food, joint supplements and running around the field I should be just fine soon.

Seriously I know this is a work in progress. I don’t drink, gave up smoking finally and for ever 3 years ago and overall my diet is pretty healthy again. I’m just paying my dues. And much as I really love the ladies of the red hat brigade and their robust, joyful attitude to being middle-aged plus, I know that my plans for the next 40 years or so don’t involve throwing caution to the winds but rather in being as young, fit and full of life as I can possibly be. And girls, this is going to take some WORK!!!!

 

 

WARNING!

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When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples’ gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

 

by Jenny Joseph

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Who rescued who?

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Who rescued who?

The dog is Geordie, currently in his ‘winter’ coat and looking cute but shaggy! He has been part of our family since 2004 when we found him at the RSPCA rescue centre. He was about 4 years old according to them, although the vet reckons he was probably a couple of years older. Still, we go for the younger age sticking with the belief that ‘you are how you feel’! He has been quite neglected, but we don’t think abused, most likely someone who had got too old or ill to care for him properly. But someone has loved him and looked after him as a puppy because he is well socialized, loyal, friendly to everyone and house trained 🙂

Originally Geordie went to live with my parents who had been wanting to have another dog for many years. As they were both elderly we were always the extended family, taking G for walks, visiting and with the promise that if ever it got to much he would come to live with us. After my Dad died in 2006, G was the perfect companion to Mum. She spent all her time with him and loved him just a little too much with treats and nibbles. Being the people dog he is G followed mum around everywhere she went, on her heels, her lap and sleeping by her in his basket every night. 

Last year G’s arthritis led to a problem with his knee-joint and he had to have an operation so that he would be able to walk again on 4 paws. The vet also advised that he needed to lose weight and his new special diet ( no treats!) caused a bit of a rocky road with mum in the early stages of dementia. Feeding became something she could do, over and over again. At one point she threatened to call the police because Id removed his treats! Oy     

As you can imagine the saga of mum and dog became complicated. Sadly mum ended up in hospital after several nasty falls and it became clear to all of us that she could no longer manage at home. So from last July both G and mum are in new homes. Mum has moved into a wonderful residential care facility nearby and G came to live with us. G visits at least weekly, in fact on difficult days he has been the comfort she needed and provided us with a talking point, there is always a doggie story to tell. 

G has settled into his ‘new’ family and we have adjusted to being full-time dog owners with joy. He has been one of the best parts of the last year. He knows how to be company, loves to cuddle and is never happier than when everyone is in the same place. His favourite thing in the world is sock. They have to be slightly smelly socks, good clean washed ones just wont do. And in a household of 3 boy/men there are always socks to be found . At Christmas he had to buy them all socks to make up for his behaviour. What he has given us is priceless. Time for his two mummies to take him for walks, always there for a cuddle and comfort, that excited happy bouncing greeting every time you come home or get up in the morning, responsibility for caring for another creature to son 22 who is eligible for dog sitting, laughter, companionship, adoration. An easy way to visit Nana with dog in tow for the boys. Who knew?

Stirrings of Spring

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Woke early this morning to birdsong and light filtering through the blinds. It is Spring Equinox today and everything seems to be stirring and budding and getting ready to shoot and grow and blossom. I can feel it too, those stirrings of energy and urges to  move, change, live. I overdid it a bit yesterday in my enthusiasm for the great outdoors. I suppose after 3 weeks of inactivity  a 10 minute walk would have been better than pottering about for an hour, enthusing over each flower. Sometimes I can be a bit too all or nothing, I like to think this is part of my charm but I also know its part of my recovery to ‘take it easy’!

So today I have a sort of spring cleaning plan, but one that involves having my leg propped up on the sofa with the requisite number of cushions to take it above hip height! The dog and I have had several discussions about this over the last few weeks, especially as he is sure that all cushions are his personal property, as also is my leg. So we have had to come to a compromise of him lying next to me on the sofa, with occasional shoving in both directions for space! Having said that there is nothing like a shaggy dog companion to cuddle up to when you are feeling a bit down.

Anyway back to the spring cleaning story! Last night I was looking for a letter than son 3 needs for his trial visit to Durham Uni this week. I just ‘know’ it was in one of the piles of paper on the kitchen table. Unfortunately the piles of paper get moved depending on the number of diners at this establishment ( literally a moveable feast!) and I ended up searching through several piles which had been moved to table 2 in the back room. Ahem.  Now I know I’m not the only one who has this paper moving issue but in a short space of time I found several things I had forgotten about, the Census ( UK), an online prescription service from our Dr ( didn’t know that!), son 3’s driving license, a hospital appointment etc. So my task for today is to take said piles of paper, shredder, box files and spend a happy time organising, filing and deleting as required. And all with my leg up!

Over 12 months of depression has contributed to the paper mountain of course, inactivity, isolation and forgetfulness all being part of the cycle. It will be fun to turn some of this budding energy into reclaiming little bits of my life.

Signs of Spring

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After recent weeks of the personal claustrophobia and roller coaster of health worries and the global tragedies of earthquake and tusnami in Japan, civil war in Libya and ongoing lives threatened and lost world wide, today it ws a joy to be outside and see signs of spring. Such huge events affect us all somehow on a cellular level, I don’t think any of us can remain unaffected, or that we should. Watching ‘Comic Relief’ on Friday night one of the comments made was that to give is not a choice ‘but a human obligation’. Those words resonated and reinforce to me the ways in which we are all connected. Quakers often use the phrase, ‘it spoke to my condition’, I think recent events must show us how a wave, a shifting of the earths plates, another child forced to fight, a brother bringing up his brothers and sisters all these become part of ‘our condition’, our lives.

Somehow in the complexity of it all silence, time to be still and send light, love, prayers, a moments thought matters. And so do moments of joy, the glorious yellow of the forsyhthia blooming brashly in suburban gardens. Daffodils and narcissi bobbing cheerfully and abundantly round the roots of a tree, pussy willow and rhodedendrons, tulips and snowdrops. Like a feast of clour and life coming up from bare earth after a winter of ice and snow.

It was amazing to be able to walk, stopping every minute to take another photo and exclaim at the colur and life of it all.I walked too far for my first day out, and will spend the rest of the day with my foot up in penance, but it was worth it.

charms

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I haven’t really been outside for 2 weeks apart from hospital visits which honestly don’t count as ‘out’. Now Im beginning to get a little stircrazy whihc I think is a pretty good sign as Im itching to get out in the sun. The problem is at the moment I can only stand for a few minutes before my leg really begins to get sore and I need to put it up again, but I think this weekend we should try a little walk before I go nuts. Looking out the window I see blue sky and sunshine, spring is definitely making an appearance here and I can feel my mood lighten too in response. What a difference the light makes! I couldn’t bear to live in a country where it is dark all day through the winter. My SAD starts to shift the moment it starts to become light in the mornings and I feel my body and mind moving out of that hibernation phase.

I ordered a new swimsuit this week online and it arrived today ( can you rmember the days pre-internet shopping?!!), along with the groceries and a new charm for my bracelet which is a birthday present. The charm is a silver chinese symbol for health and is more beautiful than it looked in the picture. Umfortunately it doesnt fir on my bracelet and the returns website is all in German so Im a little stymied for now. I spent hours searching for the right charm. The symbol of health felt so meaningful as it is my major focus for this year. I was looking forward to seeing it dangle from my wrist just reminding me and making me remember that sense of hope. Maybe I will put it on a necklace instead!