Inspiration, mental health, Motivation, real life, social media, Uncategorized, women, Writing

And….she’s back in the room.

I was signed off sick for a few weeks at the end of last year. Work related stress. The NHS Trust I work for is a Mental Health Trust, and they run courses and classes through their Recovery College. I took advantage of signing up to a Mindfulness course of 6 weeks. We meet in a beautiful building opposite a park – that’s sets the scene for the 2 ½ hours, calm and serenity.

I have to say that on my first session, I felt a little bit of a fraud. The rest of the group had their own story to tell, but I knew they had been on medication, had troubled histories and issues that were still current and plaguing them. I had had a crisis which had taken me away from work for a short period of time – I didn’t feel my problems warranted such support. How wrong could I have been?

Each week we were given the opportunity to try different mindfulness techniques. From simple 3 minute breathing exercises to more intense 30 minute full body scans. Each time for me it became easier to appreciate the opportunity to relax and go to a different place in my head!

And just because I’ve done this 6 weeks of Mindfulness I’m not professing to be an expert. But this is what I’ve taken away from this very useful course.

Be kind to yourself

It is ok not to be ok, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not.  You wouldn’t be mean to a friend who needed help – why be mean to yourself! We put so much energy into helping others – often we forget that we need to invest time in ourselves in the first place to be able to offer that help to others.

Habits can be quickly formed, but with training can be un-learned. We were told that the technical term is ‘Neural pathways’. Something goes wrong, you get into the spiral of self-doubt and anxiety and ruminating over it. By using this knowledge and skills – we could lean to accept this may happen again and avoid this spiralling pathway by taking back control. For me I think this is task I need to get better at. It should probably start by not saying ‘sorry’ each time something isn’t quite right!

We all have an ‘inner critic’.

It’s how we respond to it that sets the scene going forward. We don’t have to listen to them, you wouldn’t listen to a bad TV programme would you? You would use your skills to turn it off and watch something else. Perhaps over time, you realise this inner critical voice may in fact be someone who has criticises you in the past. Allow yourself the knowledge that everyone makes mistakes and can be wrong. But give yourself the opportunity to accept this and learn from it. I know who my inner critic is – someone in my past – who made me afraid and criticised me for lots of little things. He is still there, and is probably the one who I’m always saying sorry to.

 

Be in the moment – it’s not a bad place to be.

They said children are great at this, they don’t think of yesterday or last week or last year, or tomorrow or next week. They don’t worry over what’s gone before and if they could have done things differently. We are never going to change what happened in our past, but we all have the opportunity to learn from those events, and either do them differently next time, or try and avoid them. The meditation techniques they teach you give you the skills to bring yourself back to the present time. They encourage you to think about your breathing, your body, different sounds and sensation. It’s difficult to think of too many other things while you’re doing this – but my mind has a tendency to wander – and believe me it did – but I brought it back and tried again. My mind is normally all over the place, I’m thinking of lots of things – and you are given the permission to do this – but these are the skills and techniques to stop you from engaging in those thoughts and taking you off down that spiralling path.

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Breathing is really important!

Deep regular breathing from your belly allows you to get into a natural rhythm. It helps you to concentrate and centre yourself. If you’re concentrating on this way of breathing it is calming and fills you with oxygen. Combine this with the rhythmic voice of the tutor, or a mindfulness CD it gives you the opportunity to relax, and find some peace from the constant chatter going on!

We have all forgotten how to live in the moment. Well – we like to think we do. We engage with people over social media, on the phone, in the shops and in the work place. But do we ever give ourselves the opportunity to look at our surroundings, the beautiful scenery and nature? Not often, we are too busy rushing from one place to another. We buy ourselves sweet smelling shower gels and toiletries, but are often too busy with our own thoughts to appreciate them. We were encouraged to take some time to carry out daily tasks mindfully. Showering, cleaning out teeth, cleaning, cooking and baking. Concentrating on the task, using all our senses. Every little helps, doesn’t it?

I need to change those bad habits I have and using this process it will be so much easier and 2nd nature.

At the end of the course, I mentioned to one of the others on the group that I had felt a little bit out of place at the start. She said something that I will take with me, that everyone’s problems are their own, and should be equally valued as such. Everyone deserves to be offered as much help and support as anyone else.

I learned something equally as important over these 6 weeks too. Things I do, jumping from one thing to another, following those thoughts in my head can be so annoying to others! I often have 3 conversations going around and need to say them all. But for those who are not party to my minds way of working- it can be pretty confusing! So now I park the two seemingly lest important things, and just concentrate on the most important. And I have to say it helps.

 

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

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Families, Family, Inspiration, mental health, Motivation, real life, Spirt and soul, women

It’s harder when there is no plaster

I have just had the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a sweet ‘get well’ card from my work colleagues.

flowers

I can say with my hand on my heart that I’m never sick from work, I can tell you the number of occasions I’ve been off over the last 20 years! The odd bout of sickness, a back problem where I couldn’t get up of bed, and two occasions in the same month where I was bitten on the leg by a horse fly – I don’t think it was the same fly – it was very painful, and my poor leg swelled up to the size of an elephant!

So, when I say I have been signed off sick for 3 weeks – it will be as much a surprise to you as it was to me! ‘Work related stress’. Me? How can that be? I know how and why it happened, but I don’t understand how it has affected me this way. I’m normally the swan on the water graceful above, but paddling furiously beneath the water! I don’t get fazed by hard work, juggling lots of balls in the air all at one time. Managing multi layers of complexity in work, different personalities and their own health issues, angry aggressive and sad phone calls from customers. But of course there are times when it just catches up with you. And this is just one of those times!

At first I fought it furiously. I didn’t think I needed the time away to recharge – because really this is what it is. I thought I could manage all the additional pressures, then as the 1st day at home went on and it hit me why I was like this – I realised it would help.

I have resilience in cart loads, I grew up surrounded by parents and grand-parents who had mental health issues, and from a young age have seen the effects it has on families. I learned to manage the fall out, and how to avoid some of the issues that these health problems come with. I swore before I ever had children, they would never ever see me the way I saw my parents. My beloved mother suffering weeks and months of sadness, non-communicative and zombie like, never leaving her bed – drugged up and desolate. Crying for a ‘cure’. Then more months of shopping and more shopping. The roller coaster that is Bi-Polar. My 90 year old grandmother – repetitive counting and cleaning and hand washing, all the symptoms of OCD. Ambulances and police cars late at night, and the harrowing visits to the hospital – a place no 10 year old should ever have to visit even to see their lovely amazing father, a broken war hero with ‘shell shock’. Thankfully treatment for mental health has improved over the years, but the illness has never ‘gone away’. Many people have to suffer with OCD, Bi-Polar disorder, PTSD and psychiatric crisis. The places of treatment are far kinder than 50 years ago, the long walk between locked doors in psychiatric hospital are a thing of the past – for some. Medication and other treatments have improved. And thankfully there are now initiatives to help us to talk about our issues. My mother always said that if she had a broken arm – she would have had far more sympathy and understanding – from those who saw mental health as the unseen illness!

And for some who just need that duvet day or a long time to recharge batteries, and regroup their resilience’s – there are those who see the simple things that help get them back on that road to being themselves again.

I’m re-building my mental strength. Swimming, watching favourite TV programme. Walking in the fresh air, basically doing things for me and my loved ones.

And I’d like to think I will be back as strong as ever, to support those who need me going forward.

 

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Inspiration, Motivation, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever, women

Pink & Blue, Blue & Pink

The stereotypical style of a girl/woman especially in the media is often pink and girly, bubby, and dare I say long blond hair. A little shallow for today’s audience don’t you think?

On the other hand the idea of a boy/man is blue, muddy and dirty, muscle bound and good at men’s things – DIY, cars, building and business. Good grief – where do they think all the other men have gone!

But the picture drawn by a student at Astor College Dover UK, encourages the viewer to think differently and to question how the rules can be broken. It was part of the exhibition held at the Tate Modern in April 2017. The theme was politics. And this was a reflection of just what some of modern politics is all about – identity, gender, sexuality and equality.

‘Which side would you choose?’ was the question asked of the viewer. It gave you the opportunity to stop and think how can we challenge what we are told is the norm? Look around you, feminine women with short hair, an air of grace and carrying themselves like they own the place, and they probably do. Women firefighters, and pilots, working alongside the male cabin crew. Roles that were once seen as part of a woman’s ‘domain’ including midwives and house husbands. It’s harder to see where the edges are these days.

We can all hide behind our clothes, the language of description we use for others and what is perceived by the masses as the norm – but do any of us dare to step out of the shadows into the light and show our true colours? To be brave and fight for our rights and the rights of others. Far removed from the suffragettes who chained themselves to the railing to fight for women’s right back in the 1920 we do it our own way today. As women we move up in politics and sit at the head of the table in business. We make ourselves independent, we don’t need someone to validate us in a relationship, we need someone to equal us, and move forward with us in our own right.

Some work places are more accepting of diversity than others and shamefully some religions are scarily narrow minded and bigoted. But of course people too fall into the same category, they carry these ideals with them because this is how they were educated by family and life. It’s time to break out though isn’t it?

I wonder which category you fall into – the good, the bad or the indifferent!

 

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Inspiration, Laughter, Motivation, real life, social media, Uncategorized

Ideas of un-like minded people.

Is there such a word un-like? I mean those who have different backgrounds and upbringing, different cultures perhaps or education.

It works though, this collaboration of ideas. And turns into a fairground of games and thoughts, fun things leaning towards the educational and political.

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/tate-exchange/fairground
Teaching others that politics is not just stuffy men and women making decisions for us. But how we work together to have a shared value and understanding.

A privilege to work for two days at the Tate modern. With a Welsh art group so far removed from the Political Theorists it’s  unbelievable. But 800+ visitors on day 2 couldn’t all be wrong! 

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A lucky London dog, sleeping and living on a balcony. She looks well looked after, of sorts.

 

If she were mine, I’d want her to be with me in case someone decided she would much rather live with them and not with me. And her lovely home gets a regular update. Blanket. Water bowls. Updated home. So lucky!

Thank you Andrew Gadd for the regular doggy updated pictures.

 

 

 

Laughter, Motivation, social media, Uncategorized, Whatever

A lucky pooch

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Families, Inspiration, Laughter, Motivation, real life, social media, Uncategorized, Whatever, women

People watching

My favourite pastime, people watching. Although I’m sure the people I’m watching, are watching me, watching them!

I could be anywhere, sitting on public transport, watching the non- communication of travellers, head phones on, phone in hand. I’m wondering that they are listening to. Listening to the newest songs on Spotify. Perhaps they are listening to the same as I am? Now that would be a coincidence! Or reading – a furtive message from a loved one, someone they didn’t want to leave in bed this morning, that little knowing smile turning up the corner of their mouth, forgetting they are on a crowded train, still imagining the duvet snuggled around their shoulders. Or the usual message about being on the bus/train, and a countdown of minutes till they get to their destination, looking up at the station sign, following the same journey day-in day-out. 16 ½ min to their station. Positioned themselves in the 3rd carriage along, in the optimum place to alight by the station exit doors, 25 pounding steps down to the entrance, one swipe of the train ticket and out into the fresh air! Or an angry message to someone who has annoyed them. You’d read that in their faces, angry eyes, scrunched up at the corner, tapping furiously on the imaginary keys on the screen. Using both thumbs to get the message across quicker. Angry, angry, angrier.

Now the coffee shop is a place for serial people watchers, you can look out of the window at the people scuttling past on their daily journey never making eye contact. That would be too much to bare, if they did, they would have to stop and buy that creamy hot liquid gold latte. No time, too much to do, can’t carry a coffee, 3 shopping bags, 1 phone and concentrate on the list in their heads. You can see them looking around, getting their bearing, wondering what shop next to go into? The concentration etched on their faces, oh why did they leave it to the last minute to get the elusive gift for the friend who is so very demanding. Or those with more time, and less shopping. Contemplating the warm drink to sustain them as they flit from shop to shop, feeling the fabric of the shirts and coats, scarves and smelling the leather of the handbags. Or is that just me? Am I the fantasy of every people watcher, as I pick up warm cotton checked shirts eyeing up the colours. Feeling the material falling through my fingers, wondering if the hues of blue and green match the newly purchased bracelet of glass and silver beads. The look of curiosity on my face imagining if the cut is too tight and figure hugging, the thought of popping buttons makes me wince and quickly hang it back on the rail. I love looking at the fittings in a shop, rough wood, and cold metal bars, or glass and sleek white wood. All a great contrast against the fluffy clothes and shiny leather. Do others look at my face as I see my reflection in the mirror, and catch the thought going through my eyes ‘ I wonder if I need to put more lipstick on, I’m looking a tad pale’ or the look of shock when I’m realising my hair is messed up after trying the wide brimmed hat on? Or is that the look I see in the faces of other shoppers on the high street?

I never make eye contact when people watching, or ‘being people watched’ if that is a new job description. The eyes are the road to the soul, why would I want someone following me down into my place of sanctity!

My favourite place to do this – the hairdressers, when they sit you on one of those lovely comfortable ‘watching’ chairs looking out of the window. You can be anonymous. A faceless person on a chair, no one will ever know who you are with a towel half covering your head. You see the couples walking past arm in arm, purposeful and determined. Groups of young people milling and laughing and joking with one another, full of hope and enthusiasm, often with the glint of young sex in their eyes. Men in suits, white shirt cuffs and sparkly cufflinks peeping out from beneath double buttoned jacket sleeves. An impossible to recycle, take away coffee cup grasped in their sweaty little hands. Imagining they look cool and trendy, when in fact they actually do! Little men with little dogs on long leads, stepping briskly around to avoid street furniture and rubbish bins.

Hungry boys, hands holding paper napkins and blue and white bags – you know the kind- filled with warm pasties, or sausage rolls, eating with enthusiasm and greed. Girls equally as greedy, munching sandwiches of salad and chicken, on brown rye bread with green leafy salad peeping out between thick crusts. Always followed by those hungry pigeons, hippedy hopping after the food…never the people, we just happen to be carrying their lunch!

The blues rinsed, cardigan wearing older ladies and gentleman, holding their green carrier bags like shields and warriors going into battle. The battle of the youths crowding the pavements, the dog leads, and the discarded coffee cups. Who will win? Maybe them, but more likely to be the young families in mismatched colours, young who have dressed themselves in favourite wellies and summer coats, beany hats with bobbles, stripes and dragon tails swinging down their backs. They will win the pavement war. Buggies like tanks, pushing their way through the hordes of shoppers.

And cars parked on yellow lines, tucked away at the end of parking bays. Drivers furtively waiting to be pounced on by traffic wardens, enviously watching parking meters ready to swallow up shiny coins and click and clack so that they can park without fear nearer to the shops. Not everyone is successful in shopping and parking!

You see why people watching is a skill to be practiced whenever possible? You will never know how much fun it gives. Time and again.

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Food, Inspiration, Motivation, real life, Uncategorized, Weight loss

I did it. I went back.

I did it, I took the plunge and went back to the slimming club I had found success with a few years ago.

I was a little embarrassed to start with, walking into a huge room on my own having to  admit to myself that I had been defeated by life, by chocolate and cake. But there were familiar faces, I realised its a way of life for some people, they come back week after week after week.

I listened to the introduction talk, all about how I needed to eat this, and count that and exercise, and drink water. And fill in a food diary.

And I will, because today I had a scare! My glucose blood test results came back higher than I had ever seen them before. Possibly even too high to pull myself back from a re test and drop below the threshold. I’m reeling from the shock.

And once I have got over the shock, I’ll keep telling you about my journey. perhaps I don’t need the fat/thin pictures as motivation – I just needed this slap in the face from a test result.

 

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