Embracing Change # Mindfulness

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‘The only thing we can rely on in life is change.’

I like to think I’m spontaneous, open to new experiences, adventures, but at the same time, I like my routine. Structure. My little bit of normality.

My life has altered enormously over the past few years and more change is steamrollering towards me. My best friend is moving to Wales on Monday, my son leaving home, exciting things happening career wise. A real mixed bag.  Emotions are heightened. There’s a sense of waiting. Waiting until things settle. Longing for the stillness. The quietness that comes when you know where you are; feet planted on the floor. But that quietness only comes through acceptance of present circumstances. Things are what they are, not necessarily what we want them to be; and that’s not always a bad thing. How often has something happened and we’ve thought it the end of the world at the time, only to feel relief later as we look back?

I often tell the story of the Farmer and the Horse in my Mindfulness classes. A little reminder to hang-fire with judgements. Things aren’t always what they seem.

And so I wait.

And I choose to believe the fluttering I feel in my stomach is excitement, not anxiety. That my future will be bright, because ultimately we get to choose how we feel and today, I choose to be happy. How about you?

 

The Farmer and the Horse (origin unknown)

 A farmer had one old horse that he used for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer’s neighbours heard about it, they sympathised with the old man over his bad luck. “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone agreed that this was very bad luck. Not the farmer, who replied, “Bad Luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

 Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and forced every able-bodied young man to go fight in a bloody war. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they let him stay. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” said the farmer.

 And on it goes….

 

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50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

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When Dawn Landau invited me to take part in a gratitude blog party I didn’t need any encouragement to say yes. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years now and it really has transformed the way I think. It can be hard some days of course to find something to be grateful for – life has a habit of knocking us down – but once we start feeling grateful, it’s like rolling a giant snowball. That warm fuzzy feeling gets bigger and bigger until it becomes part of our automatic thinking. For tips to start your own gratitude journal read this. To join in with the blog party following the instructions at the bottom of the page.

 

  1. Water – I never cease to feel humbled when I turn the tap on and fresh water runs.
  2. My children – No matter how bad things seem, they always make me smile.
  3. My husband – A great support, I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s stepped up and fed everyone when I wanted to write ‘just one more page.’
  4. Bed – I have a bad back and it’s lovely to sleep in comfort; so many don’t.
  5. Healthcare – Say what you will about the NHS I feel fortunate to have received the healthcare I have.
  6. Clothes – Clothes for luxury, for fashion – how lucky am I?
  7. Food – I do love to eat. I can’t imagine feeling hungry everyday.
  8. Climate – The UK weather is unpredictable but it allows me to grow fruit and vegetables.
  9. Electricity – Making life easier in so many ways.
  10. Books – Whether for learning or pure escapism I always support my local bookstore and library.
  11. Mistakes I’ve made and leant from – there have been many.
  12. Inventors – It blows me away to think how hard life would be without so many of the things we take for granted.
  13. Scientists – Those who work tirelessly to cure diseases and make the world a better place.
  14. Volunteers – It warms me to hear stories of volunteers, whether close to home or abroad.
  15. Kindness – A simple act of kindness really changes my day – I pay it forward when I can.
  16. Sun – As well as sustaining life, doesn’t it make you feel good to see the sunshine?
  17. Friends – Always ready to listen.
  18. Emergency services – Where would we be without our emergency response.
  19. Mindfulness – Learning this really did change my life. So grateful to my mentor.
  20. A garden – I love to be outside.
  21. Light – Reading by candlelight wouldn’t be fun – I’d probably set light to my book!
  22. Authors – It takes a crazy amount of time to create a book and I’m grateful to those that do.
  23. Time – It’s a luxury and I carve out some for myself everyday. 10 minutes at least of doing something just for me.
  24. Car – I’d feel so isolated if I couldn’t drive.
  25. Music – Live gigs, cds, vinyl – I love it all.
  26. Piano – I love to play even though my neighbours probably have their fingers in their ears.
  27. Postal service – I’m just as likely to write a friend a letter rather than an email and receiving one back is warming.
  28. Photos – So lovely to look back on – how did my children grow so quick?
  29. Laughter – An essential part of my day.
  30. Movies – Pure escapism.
  31. Memories – Thinking of something that makes me smile.
  32. Nature – I adore the countryside. The space. The air. The stillness.
  33. My cat – He comes home every 30 minutes for a cuddle before going out again.
  34. Money – I don’t have a lot, but I’m fortunate to get by.
  35. A smile – As well as making others happy it gives a real good feeling to work those facial muscles.
  36. A home – A place to hang my hat.
  37. My dog – My spaniel is ridiculously happy – all the time.
  38. Seeds – I can grow flowers, vegetables, I’ve even planted a tree or two.
  39. Education – I’m so grateful for the opportunities we have in the UK, the qualifications my son has gained this year.
  40. Spiritual gurus – The teachings of others have really improved my life.
  41. Medicine – Diseases that would have killed us can now be treated – amazing.
  42. Complementary health – It’s great to have a choice.
  43. Wildlife – I’m animal crazy. Love to feed the birds.
  44. Colour – It just makes you feel, doesn’t it?
  45. A kitchen – A place to cook, to hang out and to nourish.
  46. A hug – Nothing seems quite so bad afterwards.
  47. Shoes – When I think of those trekking for miles barefoot for food and water…
  48. Hope – ‘It’ll be ok in the end, if it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.’
  49. The blogging community – You guys gave me the confidence to write a novel.
  50. Love – Where would we be without it?

 

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If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! 

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click here3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise.

Getting naked and vulnerable

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I was determined that I would be Enid Blyton when I grew up. My earliest memories involve me straining my eyes by torchlight under my covers, too captivated by the world I was transported to and the characters I met there, to contemplate going to sleep.

I had a nurturing primary school teacher who encouraged me to read as many different genres as I could and to write, write and then write some more. (Thank you Mr Townsend).

As I grew older, while I never lost my love of reading, writing fell by the wayside. Much to my disappointment I just grew bigger and never turned into my favourite author and It seemed ludicrous to ever conceive I would be in print one day. Anyway, I had a job, a family and many hobbies to keep me occupied.

In my 30s I had a car accident which caused some spinal damage and exacerbated a pre-existing medical condition and I was left with very limited mobility. The advice of my spinal consultant to take up knitting was quickly disregarded but what could I do? Never one normally to sit still, my new enforced lifestyle left me with little choice, I needed something to occupy my mind, a purpose, some joy.

I toyed with the idea of writing but who, I thought, would want to read my stories? I don’t know the answer to that one yet but it turned out that many people wanted to read my personal story. Being a (former) kinesiologist and nutritional therapist and a (current) mindfulness coach I found I had a lot of knowledge and experience on how to live happily, healthily and peacefully internally, regardless of external circumstances. I was soon writing for many disability and health magazines and sites.

I started a professional blog celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living and share much of myself with my readers. However I always have a valid (in my mind) reason why I haven’t started writing fiction yet. I am too busy, too tired, too uninspired, too, well, you get the picture.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading many of your blogs and WOW. I have been blown away by the talent and pure energy that shines through the posts. I have been in tears one minute and laughing the next as your carefully constructed sentences convey so much raw emotion. The subject matters have been nothing short of genius and I am more than a little bit in awe of you all.

Today I was asked to write a piece for a magazine I contribute to on living fearlessly because, said the editor, I know all about that with my health challenges. Hearing these words the inner me hung her head in shame. I may have overcome many difficulties but the thought of writing and putting any fiction out there makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. If I don’t though how can I possibly be an advocate for fearless living?

So I have set up this blog with no plan, no posts written and no idea where to proceed from here. I feel naked and vulnerable but determined to at least try and post something (if my nervously sweaty fingers don’t slip off the publish button).

Here goes.