Archive for the ‘mind’ Category

Goosebumps. A spark.

I read this article:


I saw this quote:

I think there are too many people who try and present a smiling, sexy, happy, glamorous version of themselves online. Their lives appear perfect, without a glimpse into the shadows and the shit that keeps them up at night.

I feel draw to the phrase “The shadows and the shit”. It’s the dark side of all of us. “I’ve got fractures, cracks and damages”. We all have. It’s our humanity. It’s our beauty.

I feel a stirring in my soul. It looks like a poem, tastes like a song.

Inspiration hits. “Ding”.


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I wake up in the middle of the night, distracted by the thoughts rushing across my mind.

I catch each thought in turn, press it into a poem captured inside a flimsy bubble.

I sit in the centre of my mind, a dark cosy cave, back lit by glowing embers.

I watch the bubbles gently drift up and bounce against each other before popping into nothingness, leaving imprinted paintings on the cave wall…

Last night I woke and couldn’t sleep, it could have been the 5pm cup of coffee, or the biscuit-crunch buzz of the oil heater in our room. It could have been the wind whipping round our tarpaulin covered roof, or the silent scamper of imaginary rats on the floors below. It could have been my belly, swollen from dinner, or the reckless impressions left by the book under my pillow.

It was probably the book.

This is the book.

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I’ve just returned from a weekend in the Woods with 200 shiny people who were all buzzing at the edges with energy and ideas around escaping the Corporate world and embarking on what is known (in those circles) as a “21st Century Career”. But more on that later…

At the festival two things happened (well, again, much much more, but relevant to this post); 1. I turned my phone off for the weekend, and 2. I encountered an amazing group called the Rebel Book Club, with wonderfully book-obssessed people, who meet monthly to read and discuss a world-changing book. I have plans to join.

So today, back at my desk, fully hardwired back into interweb-networks, I found myself scanning their Twitter feed and a post to this article:

How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy (Havard Business Review)

And I spend my very short lunch hour (not an hour) at my desk, reading the article and drinking my soup. Not really getting away from my glowing screen.

I immediately wanted to jump on Facebook to announce to my world (my Facebook world) that I was leaving Facebook for a month and heading to the mountains of digital detox-dom. But then I realised we have a New Year’s Resolution Club meeting next week and I need to be on Facebook to promote and so forth. Not that easy.

So instead, I have decided to follow Hugh McGuire’s excellent 3 step approach to becomming less busy through reading more books:

1. I get home from work, I put away my laptop (and Phone).

2. After dinner during the week, I don’t watch Netflix or TV, or mess around on the Internet. 

3. No glowing screens in the bedroom (Kindle is OK, though).

You’ll need to read How making time for books made me less busy for the positively bouncey benefits, and I am completely sold. This kills two birds with one stone – how to feed and nuture my bookworm, whilst taking baby steps towards a full on digital detox (which I’m not sure is entirely possible given that I work, but a partial, out of office hours detox could be the way forward).

I’ve been trying to get TV out of my life for ages, this may help. Netflix went last week, replaced with NowTV (so much better). So that will be a tough cookie.

My phone and ipad have been taking up residence on the bedside table (on top of the Kindle). I will now banish them to another room.

We have the builders coming in in less than two weeks and right now there are a million other things we should be doing rather than messing around on the internet. So I’m hoping this will really make a difference. Let’s give it a whirl for a month and see what happens!!

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Wake up world

This week has been all about getting up at 6.30am. It’s been much easier for some reason (must be hitting the right point in my sleep cycle to wake up). The big test was my Saturday morning. My blissful lie in morning. Well, it’s Saturday, and I’m up. I got up at 6.35 (5 minute lie in), came downstairs, wrote in my journal, and then I just had to get outside. The sun was rising, the sky lightening, and I wanted to go for a walk.

It’s so magical walking early in the morning. I’ve written about this previously, usually when I’m on my way to some exotic location and I have to be up early to get the bus to the airport. But today there was no ulterior motive. It was simply to enjoy the sunrise. Or to enjoy those first moments of the waking world, when there is no one around. Just me and the birds.

So I took a walk, around my neighbourhood. It’s still relatively new to me. I am used to walking the familiar routes between my road and the high street, the bus stop, the supermarkets. But I’ve never really walked further than a few streets over, so today I just walked, basically where my feet took me, but largely towards the sunrise.

It was a crisp and misty morning, so the sunrise was more of a gradual lightening and pinking of the sky. The mist gave a surreal but mysterious quality to my walk. The bird song was incredible, all sorts of squeaking and sqwarking as territories were claimed on electricity wires and eves of houses. I followed the maze of streets and then took a footpath along a path, discovering recreational grounds and churches, and allotments and graveyards. A couple alleys lead me deeper into a maze of older stone buildings. A few upstairs lights on, steam chuffing from house pipes, the world is waking up.

I was fascinated by the different types of houses, it’s a chance to really look at the buildings and take your time observing your surroundings. Interesting things in people’s front gardens, strange creeping plants along the side of the road. Bright red berries littered on the path, dew drops hanging heavy on bushes and branches.

The beautiful gift of a new day.

Gradually, as I walked, I could see the light blues and pinks emerge from the misty morning sky. The once very occasional whoosh of a car, and brief flicker of headlights in the mist, then became more of a constant rumble. The sounds of humanity were starting to drown out the sounds of birdsong. The moment was over, it was time for me to turn back down those alleys and head for home…

sun rise sky
tree in park
berries on a path
misty park

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It’s been my first week of attempting to get up early. In order to make this work, I know I need it to be a gradual process. Building a habit takes time (allegedly 21 days), and the last 7 days have been a challenge.

I decided to take it easy, not bursting straight into my ideal 6am, or “the” ideal 5am (shock, horror), and to just get up when the alarm goes off at 7am. You’d think it would be simple, but no, this was really hard.

I did OK for most of the week, it started slipping to 7.15 by the end. This is years and years of habit that I’m trying to unlearn.

Then came the weekend. I didn’t even think about the weekend. Saturday mornings, my most favourite time of the week. Lazily lying in bed with my husband, not feeling the need to do anything. It’s utter bliss. But no, in order to form a habit you need utter consistency, otherwise it’s almost impossible to trick your body/mind. This is where the link in the chain broke (apparently a new habit is a chain, and as soon as you break it, it’s like a broken link in the chain and you need to start again) – I got up both days at 8.30. And that was hard enough.

Still, once I was up it was easy. I come downstairs to my front room, probably the nicest room in our house (we’re renovating, look here for the blog on that!). The sunshine (when out) floods into this room in the early morning, which helps. Then I have my new morning ritual of 1. Making a cup of tea 2. Writing a page in my journal 3. Doing a ten minute meditation from the HeadSpace app. Well, number 3 didn’t happen during the week as usually after the tea and journal I’d hear the call from upstairs that the bathroom was free and to hurry up otherwise the bath would go cold (we only have a bath right now and only enough hot water for one go at it!). And so would follow the mad bath – clothes – breakfast dash before running out of the door for the bus. But this weekend has allowed me time to do point 3 and I feel amazing! It energized me, grounded me, and set me up for the day – and really shake off that morning-wakeup-lethargy spell that I’m always under in the morning.

So this is encouraging. I know that persevering with this is important. Perhaps the challenge this week has been that I’ve not woken early enough to do anything that I can receive instant reward from. I probably need at least 45 minutes on top of my normal wake up hours (and at least some time before other life forms start moving around the house) to reap the benefits.

So, despite the broken link, I am going to continue this week and attempt the 6.30 get up.

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I’ve got lots of plans for 2015, and due to a slightly obsessive planning streak I’ve undoubtedly been spending a disproportionate amount of time thinking about goals. I have three major ones for this year; the house (“Number 26”, which is such a big goal, I’ve decided to chronicle my adventure on it over here), nurturing my creative side by dancing more, learning to play my uke, and generally playing when I can, and running and evolving and running the New Year’s Resolution Club for 2015. But despite my big goals for the year, there is one elusive goal that has fluttered into my sights on more than one occasion and for some reason has always escaped me. The early rise.

I am most definitely not a morning person. But I would love to be one more than anything in the world. I’ve tried in the past to rise early but the call of the warm duvet suddenly turns up the dial on gravity and I am physically unable to swing my legs out of bed. It’s just never stuck. I am, instead, a night owl. Often staying up late into the night reading on my Kindle with my little light in the darkness, him on the pillow next to me groaning and rolling away “turn OFF that light”, as I retreat under the covers to keep reading…

I’ve planned all the things I’ll do in the morning. Time to meditate, time to stretch, time to dance or hoop, time to write, time to cook or prepare a breakfast (even just a boiled egg), time to enjoy getting ready in the morning, pack my bags, time to walk or cycle to work (rather than running to the bus). Time to get all those self-nurturing things done before I start my day. I do love the mornings when I am up, the serenity of it all. That beautiful stillness before the world properly wakes. And the sunrise.

So today I took a day off work, to get some of those things done that I don’t have time in the mornings to do, and I took one of my favourite strolls across the park to our local library. Here I piled books high into my arms before heading back to light the fire and settle down for a cosy afternoon. One of the books was Life Lessons from the Monk Who Sold his Ferrari, as as I was flicking through the lessons, the book fell open at this page…

Page on Early Rising

I’m taking it as a message. I can do this. I am going to beat the “Battle of the Bed” by putting my “Mind over Mattress” and, according to the “monk”, it will:

  • Reduce my stress levels
  • Give me more “me time” – doing the things I love (maybe NOT playing the uke or tap dancing!)
  • Allow me to use my mind when it’s at it’s best (apparently!)

So the advice is to be patient – it doesn’t happen quickly – I need to give myself time, so I’m going to try this in February and see how it works out. It’s a new habit I need to allow to settle in. And it will be difficult and perhaps a little stressful, so I’m ready for that. I also have to be careful to not go to bed late, not read in bed, not eat after 8pm and not watch TV an hour before bed.

Phew. OK, here we go, the night owl is about to try and catch the worm….

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fireplaceBaby, it’s cold outside. And inside. We moved into our new house just under 3 months ago, and there is a lot to do. It’s a project, a do-er upper, a one-day dream house. One of the reasons that we managed to secure a house with such potential on a fab street in our amazing city is because of all the work that needed doing. And that included a serious lack in central heating. So it’s been a fairly mild winter so far, we thought we’d got away with it, but the cold snap seems to be snap snapping at our heels at the moment, and the house is getting cold…

So, it was time to get the chimney sweep in, he came last week with his special sweep contraptions and cleared our two downstairs fireplaces, and then we hit the local junk shop to get ourselves kitted out with fire-building paraphernalia…

And since then we have been perfecting the roaring fire. With all the joy it brings. Chopping logs, drying logs, de-slugging logs. Building pyramids of kindling, stacking up the coals, getting the core temperature up, and then, watching it burn. It’s a beautiful, memorizing thing. We sit and watch it, literally for hours. The flames jumping and crackling up the chimney. That deep orange glow of the coals. And the beautiful heat that it brings with it, although not able to warm up the whole of the house, certainly makes our downstairs living room cosy. I can shut my eyes and feel the heat against my face, and transport myself to a sunny beach a million miles away, away from that cold snap and the long English winter.

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