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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Family, Food, Inspiration, mental health, real life, social media, Spirt and soul, Whatever

Do we truly relax?

I’ve had a really stressful few months. Both at home and at work. We are having a new bathroom fitted that hasn’t gone to plan. At all!

And in work, lack of staff, overloaded with work and ever changing priorities means longer hours and constant battles with management.

But now I’m on holiday with my better half. He is more stressed than I am as he is at home with the builders.

We are chilled in a luxury hotel. Amazing view, incredible food, attentive staff…And not a spec of dust or builders bucket of cement in sight.

Are we truly relaxed? Without a doubt!

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Families, Family, Inspiration, real life, social media, Uncategorized, Whatever, women, Writing

Exile from social media….what have I missed?

Its been 11 days since I decided that I would take myself away from social media. I’d read this blog and it has inspired me.

Unplugging and Reinventing

So I signed off from Facebook, my Instagram and Twitter account went cold.  I realised that these things were taking over my life. As soon as I woke up, before I had even put my feet out of bed, I was on my phone scrolling through ‘social media life’ and what had happened while I had been asleep. Every spare minute I was catching up with the life of others, where they had been, what they had eaten, what they were wearing, and who was celebrating a birthday or a friendship!  All the time neglecting my own life. Neglecting my blog and the other more important things – like talking to my long suffering husband. Cuddling my grand children.

At first it felt weird. I kept thinking ‘what is so and so doing?’ and then gradually as the time has gone on that feeling of missing out has diminished. Of course I still get the notifications when I log onto my computer, but I don’t follow the link back into the twisted world of Facebook. It was todays notification that prompted me to write this blog.  Apparently I have 90 notification and I had been tagged in 5 pictures. I know it doesn’t sound very much to some people, who get hundreds and hundreds a day, but its quite a lot for me.

Do you know what I miss the most? Seeing the pictures of my grandchildren that are posted by my daughter in law! I also missed two events that friends had arranged I had forgotten to put on my calendar. There is an awful lot I don’t miss. The sometimes boring lives of others who endlessly post about their pets, the weather, who has parked over their drive, cakes, and what their favourite celebrity is doing. And I’m sure there is a lot that others miss about me…or not!

I have about 4 weeks left of my exile. I know it will teach me something. Remove things that don’t enrich my life. Don’t bother to follow pages that are a fad, or if I do as soon as I fall out of love with those pages – un-follow them. Simple.

Social media in one form or another has a place in anyone’s life, but not as a replacement for real life and communication.

See you on the other side.

 

 

 

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Families, Family, Inspiration, loss, love, mental health, New life, real life, social media, Spirt and soul, Uncategorized, Whatever, women

My life

Looking back on the story of my life, I see a time punctuated with love and laughter, with sadness and joy.

From the poor childhood filled with green and grey memories, the grass and the slate, the rain and the rain!
A life filled with loneliness and rituals.
Sickness and long corridors. Crying and sadness.

Lifelong friendships made on bus journeys, new experiences, and places.
Others lifestyles, and others laughter.
Finding love and loosing love, finding it again – only for it to drift away as young lust does.

A change of life, a change of culture, change of pace and language.
A change of love, a father figure who was anything but an ideal role model,
and thankfully never a father.

Memories left behind, together with the bruises and what little hope there was of happiness.
Anger and rage, rules and rebukes.

A knight in shining armour, a prince who had shared my memories before.
He who gave me back my hope and love, unconditional and everlasting love!
And in return I gave bricks and mortar and sunny times.

A time of sadness, a time of loss again and again.
The ones who loved me in a sea of others, stolen away without saying goodbye.
Without being able to share my hopes and telling that better life story I’d planned with my prince.

Stolen love and kisses at 1am gave milky smiles, not once but twice.
Tiny hands clutching at hair and sleepy eyes, and the smell only new born have.
Blue and blue double trouble!

Lasting memories of A&E and adventurous toddlers.
Nuts and bolts, falling off logs and stitches, diving for alligators, snails, M&M’s and runny noses.
Each word conjuring up a memory of boys and daily life in the household! Words when said, run like a film clip in my mind of those events.

Chaos and bike chains, swimming lesson, dirty football boots.
Discovering difficulties and challenges, jam and pizza.
Mundane and regular.

Summer holidays with kites, camping and caravans.
Rain and sun cream all rolled into one. Lasting friendships made – for 10 days.
Dancing and slush puppies.
Family holidays under the dome, ducks and deer, silently watching the apples and the bread through the glass of a cosy warm chalet.

 

A time of horror.
Of long train and bus journeys, of sadness and pain.
Innocence gone in the blink of an eye. Scars carried like armour, making him strong, but still so very innocent.

Driving and cars. One, two, eight or is it nine?
Young love, innocent and gentle. Shared beliefs and dreams.
Counting the years, counting the homes and now counting the babies.

A time of joy. Of long train and car journeys, of happiness and new experiences.
Hard work, and new technology.
Missing the long and lean boy sleeping on the sofa, mixing with the rich and elite, a new life experiences, built on hard work.

And now in the autumn of my life, I look back on this colourful patchwork of events. Some with sadness, most with joy.
Each nugget of memory lodged in my heart to bring out in conversation with family and friends.
Not too dissimilar from other’s lives, but my memories never the less.
Each day, each year, each smile, each tear punctuating hours and years.

It’s not over yet, more memories to have I plan and hope.
More holidays, more sun, less of something.
Lets see!

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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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