Saturday, April 04, 2015

What makes you walk on a rainy day?

View from Wytham Woods on rainy day April 3rd 2015
Yesterday was a day full of potential and no plans, and honestly, a day I really wanted to be sunny so that we would be inspired to go for a rambly, up close with the fresh air and nature walk. By lunchtime it was clear that it was not going to be a clear sky day, the grey was set. Low, mizzly when it wasn't actively throwing down the rain. There were other ways to enjoy our time but the woods were calling me and more unusually my body was asking to go.

I'm starting to feel the love for stretching and moving my body, sparks of energy that are building in to flames in glorious danger of setting fires. Desires to move that come from deep within rather than thinking that I should do some exercise. It is a huge sign of increasing health and all but alien to me.

I used to hear friends talk about going for a run/to an exercise class/playing a match because they wanted to and could only translate that in to them having more willpower, more drive to exercise than me. I could often enjoy whatever activity I cajoled myself in to but I never got there without a mental stick and carrot approach.

There is a learning within me to loathe organised exercise which came from having ME/CFS as an adolescent; there is probably nothing more likely to incur the wrath of a PE teacher than the chubby, seemingly well child that has a note from her mummy to get her out of the cross country run. Then of course when you haven't got a note you still don't have any stamina or understand the rules of hockey.... anyway I can definitely remember the joy of realising that when I did A-levels PE was no longer on my timetable! In the last year or so I've found two local classes (T'ai Chi and Pilates) which are rewriting that story and building up my body and it's wonderful to see that contributing to other activities.

A walk of any length at all was something that used to require more than a call of the woods, as my body so often had nothing to contribute to the conversation. It would have to be a sunny day or a group activity or some sort of extra impetus to get my tired, sore body up and going yet again. I see now that if you want to do something physical purely because you feel you should it is always going to be a battle of wills. I'm really enjoying finding that working with my body sometimes brings me the things I thought I should be doing, not because I tell myself I have to but because I find them delightful. Even on a rainy day.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Acceptance

Acceptance images
The more there is, the more there is. The more I accept where I am right now the more that I can see is wonderful and awesome right now. Making progress in so many ways.

Acceptance and I found a new peace when I read the following in my Mindfulness course text: "Acceptance doesn't mean merely putting up with, or resignation, or even stoic endurance. It's more positive than any of these. It's also more active. Acceptance comes from the Latin capere, which means to touch... a willingness to have the experience, to feel it."

I've always been afraid to accept, I understood it as passive, as settling. That fear still creeps in at the edges of trusting and surrendering but I see it now for what it is just as I understand better the immense power in acceptance.

In reality it's not about saying oh well, that's the way it is, nothing that can be done. It's about making space and time to feel it, to inhabit it fully and let it move on. Accepting and releasing are more interwoven than I ever saw.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vinegar and a new motto

Vinegar Hair Rinse and letting go of do your best
At the weekend I poured dilute vinegar over my head and I really rather liked it.

For the last year or two I've been gradually trying to detox our house and beauty products in a consistent way.  Replacing potentially environmentally, or human, harsh products with commercially available or home-made friendlier alternatives. Home-made is definitely where I'm happiest in principle - because of the economics, the reduction in packaging impact and the control. It is also where I find it hardest to get to in practice. Gathering ingredients and then taking the time to make something in sync with when a product needs replacing has been more than I've had energy for so often. Particularly because I often get stuck in the research phase: reading the books, the articles, pinning all the pins. I want to take advantage of the shared experience to try and get things 'right' and yet the more I read, often the more complicated I make something essentially simple.

Like my weekend shampoo and rinse - just dilute castille soap to shampoo with and dilute vinegar to rinse. There are approximately seventy two billion blog articles about this and a whole raft of variations on this theme and I think I have read most of them trying somehow to think out if it would be for me. Given I have had the ingredients on hand for months it really was getting slightly idiotic to not just try it. My hair was not going to fall out, the worst that might happen was that I might look and smell like I'd just finished a shift at the chip shop.

Preparing for perfection is somewhere I often get stuck in the non-essentials of life. In the must get done to get paid/fed/to bed essentials I've found a not very cordial entente that allows me to look like a functional being whilst generally feeling a bit dissatisfied with what I'm getting done. I've lived for too long with 'do your best' as a guiding rule. The insidious demands I create from those three little words that can never be lived up to have gradually become clearer over the years with a particularly enlightening CBT session last week finally making me face that it needed to go. I know these deep imbedded rules are buggers to rewire around as our minds are so attached to them, the pathways burned deep through the brain and there will be tricks to try and keep it in place as my mind fears the coming change.

In trying to release it I stumbled upon a realisation that as much as I might feel like I can never do enough preparation, never consider a situation from every angle and always reflect on what else I could have done - do your best is basically a limitation, a hastily drawn estimate of what I think I might be capable of, a line in the sand at which I can justify giving up on something or having a go whatever the consequences.

So I'm easing away from it - not by doing my best to ignore it, my best to collect evidence of why something is good enough or my best to be pleased with what I have achieved but by feeling my way. Just considering what each next step feels like  - be it some research, an experiment or a blog post about vinegar. It's not about measuring up to anything, it's about relieving my mind of the job of running my life because it's not the right job for it. As the awesome Lisa Esile says "Letting your mind rule your life is like asking your inner eight year old to organize the next presidential campaign; she doesn’t know how and spends most of her time trying to look good in front of her friends." 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words unleashed

Homemade word deck - positive, inspiration
In the company of three wise and wonderful friends I made a happy little deck of words this weekend. It surprised me by being an almost unbelievably satisfying and joy inducing project. I'd hardly given it a scrap of thought in advance which I'm convinced is where part of the magic lies. I am rarely spontaneous in my creating; hopefully this will encourage me to be a little more so. I knew I'd have some great tools on hand as Kelly shares her toys very nicely indeed and I had a beautiful pack of coloured card that clearly made me buy it knowing what it wanted to be one day.

When we settled in to play I'd got the idea refined as much as knowing I wanted to create something like flash cards - flash cards of inspiring, thought provoking words. I have strong memories of sitting happily in our dining room as a child with my deck of cards, learning words, getting tested on spelling. I love to spell. I wish we'd had spelling bees instead of sports days at school. I knew I just wanted cards with words on them; something within my skills to create well and something that let the words take the centre stage. Let the words shine out. Sometimes I am too stuck in words, in thoughts and intellectualising but sometimes the perfect word can jump me off in to the happiest of feelings. I guess I knew on some level that I wanted a deck that would make that a more deliberate happy accident. Something I could trip over on purpose.

Once I started I literally found it nearly impossible to stop - from settling on 32 cards at the start the number just kept going up and up and up. Being with other word loving ladies helped ramp up the inspiration and I thought I was done as I prised myself out of the basement den with about 60 cards in my bag. That wasn't enough. I'm making them double-sided now and loving the moments when another jumps in and demands a spot. I have two simple criteria for inclusion - that they are positive and that they feel important to me in some way. They're journalling jump off points at the moment but also pretty decorations and just so much fun to have around.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Softly in to the New Year

Honey pot homemade poured beeswax candle
The Christmas decoration are still up. Taking it slow this year. I'm glad to be easing back in to routines and stretching in to the New Year but still craving the sparkling cosiness that the holidays bring so much of. As ever I am so not ready for the kind of brisk spartan jumping to attention that gets pushed so hard in this month of resolving to be something other than who you find yourself to be.

I'm really rather liking where I find myself to be at the moment. Moving at a pace that feels right, changing it as the day demands. Finding ways to let expectations drift away. Making fresh starts in gentler, more regular adjustments. Taking small steps rather than just thinking about big leaps.

Warm and soft in the glow of fairy lights and beeswax candles. I made the one above a couple of months ago and made another batch last weekend. Mostly poured containers which are fast to do and so satisfying. I love knowing that they are a healthy addition to my environment as well as deeply pleasing to my eye. There's also that inner glow of satisfaction that I made them with my hands. I also rolled some candles from sheets of wax this time, even easier and a really wonderful, tactile experience. Quite literally keeping the creative flame burning.
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