Tag Archives: Meditation

Birds in the sky ….

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Birds in the sky --- you know how I feel

Birds in the sky — you know how I feel

Sometimes ‘the road less travelled’ is the path that is the most interesting. Today I took that literally. One of my emotional survival mechanisms is to take a break from work and have a walk. I can’t do it every day but when I can I always feel better. I work in an industrial midlands town so I love finding parks and areas of green and water whenever I can. From canals to lakes the industrial landscape gives so many opportunities for beauty. This half hour walk took me past a lake created at the foot of reclaimed ‘slag heaps’, the bi-product of the mining industry now long gone. Since the 1980’s when the mines closed down much of the land has been revitalised and made into areas for play and recreation. The same is true of old railway lines, now cycle paths and walkers and wildlife paradise. Don’t get me started on the politics though.
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Today I changed my usual route which is to walk round the lake and followed the path that goes away from the water. It climbs to the top of the hill where a hidden secret football pitch lay green and empty. The views across the city are of high-rise flats and housing. The light was golden on the hill and the blue skies were a welcome change from days of rain. I felt grateful to be alive
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It made me sad that in leaving the bustle around the water’s edge there is a slight feeling of anxiety and wariness. Down below children are on scooters and bikes, teens crash around on skateboards and dog walkers and families watch the birds and throw bread for them to swirl high in the air. Away from the crowds I meet surreptitious couples with rangy lurchers, a man carrying a bottle and reeking of alcohol, broken glass and the unmistakable signs of drug use. I don’t mind walking alone and I know how to look confident when I walk but the thoughts still creep into my mind when the people I pass look shiftily at their feet and none of us make eye contact
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Coming back down the other side of the lake the sight of children watching a man fishing is comforting and looking up into the sky through the silver birch trees I breathe a little sigh of relief and head back to work.

Fish in the sea you know how I feel ...

Fish in the sea you know how I feel …

Only blue skies

Only blue skies

 

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Green

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I’ve been inside too much today. Trips to the dump don’t really count as ‘going out’ do they? Well today they did
So I would like some green in my life tonight. Sweet, soft breezes and summer scents on the air. Sun and light and shady walks through the woods.
And just for tonight Im sharing that thought through this picture. It’s the best I can do for now.
Green for spring and summer, rest and relaxation, soothing and refreshing. Trees and clear cool water.Meditation and peace, walks with friends. Good for the soul.

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Fat Girl Slim -the journey continues

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So the other day I was moaning about middle-aged spread and menopause as well as the hard time I’m having losing weight in middle age. I kept feeling that maybe there was a piece missing in my diet/exercise equation, something I wasn’t quite getting.

And a few people chimed in with some interesting suggestions. And I remembered some stuff that I had read and half forgotten but was there lurking somewhere! Recently I went to see a Specialist Dr. for a review following recent illness. I had loads of blood work done and repeated every few weeks and this was to be the final follow-up. She had been concerned about my glucose levels and I kep being asked if I was diabetic. As you might imagine this started to freak me out a bit. I know I’m a prime target. I’m 53, overweight and wasn’t very active. I’ve also had a history of sugar addiction and at this point this had been out of control again. So I knew my blood sugar would have been spiking and falling and the chances of me doing some damage to my insulin levels was there. Whilst I was ill my blood sugars / glucose levels were in the diabetic range. Now that I’m well again they have fallen back to the ‘normal’ range. That is a relief of course but the Dr told me that she thinks I am ‘glucose intolerant’ ( I could have said that!) and so my body can go into a sort of diabetic state when I’m ill. This isn’t a scientific explanation by me you understand, but a sort of nuts and bolts one! So the conclusion I can draw from that is that my glucose intolerance puts me into a pre-diabetic category possibly and heightens my risk. So what’s the solution. Hey! Lose weight, get fit and balance my blood sugar. Eureka!

As it happens I’ve been following a great programme for the last few years, mostly on although sometimes off ( eg when I was ill recently). It is a programme for recovering from sugar addiction and includes a book called ‘Your Last Diet by Dr Kathleen DesMaisons. I hadn’t read it for a while but I was pretty sure there was something in there about losing weight ( genius, me!) and also about possible road-blocks like insulin resistance.

http://www.radiantrecovery.com/                                     

So home I went to my books. Here is what Kathleen says:

Insulin resistance becomes even more of a problem if you are overweight.Your fat to muscle ratio has a huge impact on how much fuel you need. Muscle cells contain insulin receptors because muscles need glucose as fuel. People with more muscle and leaner muscle need more burning power and have more insulin receptor sites. Fat does not have insulin receptor sites. It just sort of sits there passively waiting to be called. People with a higher proportion of  fat to muscle have fewer insulin receptor sites than people with less fat and more muscle. People with more fat than muscle have way fewer places to burn. People with 44% body fat are going to burn a whole lot less than people with 27% body fat”  YLD page 212

  And bingo, I realised there is more than one thing going on here. Insulin resistance means that I may eat what my slim friends eat and exercise and still be fat. I need to make some other shifts. Kicking up the exercise is one of them. I need to do aerobic exercise ( tick) but I also need to work on weights. Building muscle is really important in terms of helping my body metabolism get that it can shift into fat burning mode. And I probably need to do More exercise. Like every day. For an hour. So I need to work on tis steadily ( I am). Two half hour slots are fine. A walk in the morning with the dog. A session on the cross trainer or in the pool or a class in the evening. And some weights at the gym.              

 

Another piece of the puzzle is that some fats are better than others at fat burning. So making sure I sick with those omega 3’s and 6’s. Lots of fish and chicken, not so much of the sausages and beefburgers and Bolognese with red meat. Turkey mince is great 🙂

And abdominal fat is also caused by stress. It is much, much harder to lose weight when you are stressed. Your body produces cortisol in response to stress as the fight or flight adrenaline mechanism kicks in. So your little body refuses to let go of that fat that it might need to face the starvation of winter or the sabre-toothed tiger it expects genetically. So stress reduction, meditation and exercise all help with that. Calm is best for weight loss as well as for inner peace!


Some people also like the low GL way of eating for managing blood sugar  nuts, seeds and fruit for great snacks to keep steady. And low GL to balance your carbs. Patrick Holford is pretty much the UK guru for this approach and I like a lot of what he has to say too. Optimum Nutrition is the watchword here and that is a pretty good message to live by too.

So for me I’m working on tweaking my existing plan a little while keeping with the basics which have brought me freedom from the sugar addiction and steadiness emotionally thanks to no more highs and lows from the sugar hit!

Steady complex carbohydrates – Im thinking of moving to the beans / legumes end of the spectrum more and much less of the wheat

Enough protein to provide fuel for fat burning but mainly of the white meat/ fish/ vegetarian variety

Good omega 3s and 6’s – olive oil, oily fish, supplements like flax oil in my protein shake

And exercise – I’m pretty pleased honestly with how I’m doing with that. I’ve gone from couch potato to using the gym / pool every other day. I’m thinking to try to build in a walk every day now as well. I enjoy it, the dog enjoys it and with my walking poles I’m much better at it. Win-Win.


Oh and lots of water!

Having just been away for a couple of days at a family wedding and eaten far too much cheese I’m now ready for action 🙂 It’s good to have a plan, have found some clues to help me get going again and to know what to do next.  Keep watching this space I will report back!

All going swimmingly

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I am a Pisces, a fish who doesn’t like to be out of water. I often swim in more than one direction pulled by my conflicting nature, water is my element, where I was before I was born, it seems the natural place to be to feel that sense of being myself.

I’m just getting back into being able to go swimming again after a few weeks off due to illness. What a great feeling.Ive always loved swimming. I remember back to those first swimming lessons. It would be 1962  and Mum used to take 4-year-old me to the public baths once a week after school. I remember a big shouty man whose best idea of getting children to swim was to throw them in, no water wings then you understand, and yell at them until they made it to the side. I remember that feeling of floundering madly, gulping air and water and yet somehow flailing madly I made it to the side. Of course this isn’t to be recommended either as a teaching strategy or a way to instill trust in your little darling, but being the ever proverbial water baby I loved it.

Neither of my parents learnt to swim. They both grew up in the urban northern English towns , cobbled streets and clogs for Mum and wide windy moorlands for dad. I don’t think either of them missed it as a child but in adulthood they both very much wanted me to swim safely. Unfortunately as I grew up I realised this was a prime opportunity to take outrageous advantage. Days out or holidays in English and Welsh seaside towns were a taste of freedom for the 7-year-old I became. Dad would pace up and down at the edge of the water, as I edged further and further out to sea. Every so often as his nerve failed him he would wave frantically to me to come further in. I learnt to judge to the nth degree the moment when patience would snap, so I was always just that bit out of reach but managed to string it out so I was in the water for hours and hours. Both my inner anarchist and my inner Garbo were satisfied by this breaking of the rules and the need to ‘be alone’.

I was a chubby child, and am a chubby ( or as I prefer to call it curvaceous) adult. swimming was and is a taste of the freedom of movement my thinner more agile sisters experienced on the netball pitch or running in cross-country races ( does anyone like that?!) Water as we all know supports our bodies. It is fantastic for sore joints, and that feeling of weightlessness is one I would only otherwise experience in outer space. In teenage silliness it was possible to be picked up in the water and thrown about, as a mum of small children to play games of sharks and minnows and chase them till they screamed with laughter as big mummy shark pretended to bite and eat up all the little minnows.

Now I swim in a pool at the gym. It is often quiet when I go in the early evenings ( avoiding the after work rush) or mid afternoon at the weekends. Sometimes I can be the only person in the pool. Then I get to live my fantasy that the pool is my very own and that I can swim any time I want. There is something so soothing and meditative about swimming. The focus is on the moment, this moment only. On breathing. On the stretch of my arms and the kick of my feet. I dream of having ‘swimmers arms’ those well-defined shoulders and perfect curves. No flapping under arm skin there, the perfect arms for the LBD.

Most of all though I long to swim in the sea. The taste of salt in my mouth, the unexpected buoyancy that carries you along. The range of surf from crashing Atlantic waves on a Brittany coastline or a Cornish surfing beach, or the soft golden sands and smooth turquoise gorgeousness of a Greek Island. I am fascinated by the idea of ‘wild swimming’. The exploration of wild water, lakes and rivers. Clear, cool, clean water rushing over brown stones and mossy rocks, the dark blackness of deep water, the rushing of waterfalls. And then there is the excitement of scuba diving. The David Attenborough world of the ocean bed, the colours of fish swimming silkily round my legs, oh the wish to swim with dolphins, to experience that connection. So many worlds to explore in water.

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 🙂

 

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.