Posted in achievement, Art, Change, Commitment, Debate, Development, Environment, goals, Health, Health Promotion. Diet, Ideas, Liberation, Modern society, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Thoughts, Writing

Mindfulness: the Way to Declutter your Head.

I was in a newsagents last week when I spotted a new magazine called Breathe:it was the first issue.

  This magazine is written for a growing sector of readership, just like myself,whose desire is to enhance their physical,social and mental well-being. Designed to include four aspects of living: wellbeing, mindfulness, creativeness and escapism, the magazine is beautifully presented and covers a wide range of related topics, all of which are highly interesting and fresh in presentation. I am already eager to see the next issue on sale, September 22nd and have it marked on my calender. 

But what does it say about the reading habits, especially of women, and of a movement ( gathering an ever greater momentum ) where there are now courses and qualifications for a different type of practitioner? I am talking about the subject of mindfulness, and the interest clearly is growing enough for a publisher to create a new magazine, to include this subject, to live calmer, less stressed and more meaningful lives- lived in the present moment.

For someone who has experienced anxiety and stress, sufficient to have produced depression in the past, mindfulness is helping me now in a number of ways; the main benefit being in the unclutering of the mind. This mental dejunking has had several spin offs and I would like to share those here:

It keeps my anxiety into perspective and I will only focus on a concern in the present moment. A worry about a potential, confrontational meeting, regarding a thorny issue next week, can wait until then.

It has empowered me in my relationships. I am finally shaking off the need to be liked. Believe me, this has taken me years! I can be proud of who I am and have no need to seek others approval. I recognise my own power and this power has yielded results, so that gives me more courage to be assertive. This spiral is on a trajectory of only one way which is up. This excites me.

It has helped me to think more creatively. As a result, I am now starting to doodle mindfulness scribbles and pictures. I intend to share some.

It has helped me develop new hobbies. I have taken up drawing and really enjoy it. It does not matter about the level of skill. When I draw I forget everything. The concentration of the drawing keeps me totally in the present.

As a result of drawing, I have taken up postcard colouring. This is a nice spin off. This has brought joy to my family – so much so that one has been framed. This has brought me happiness, knowing that such a simple thing can bring other people joy.

I listen more, but realise I still don’t really listen at all well. There are gaps in people’s conversations that I don’t always pick up. This has been a shock. I am tuining in more to people and can respond better to them. Challenge yourself on this next time you listen to someone. Is your mind mentally on to the next task of what to cook for dinner?

I have started meditations and have returned to a much simpler form of Christian faith which includes prayer. I am beyond astonished that how these prayers have been recently answered. I search out quiet space, churches, under skies, on my walks for these types of moments. I am grateful so much for this.

I have found time to take up blogging again and to really think about what I want to write. Words jump out of my head randomly for future blog post. In the space of my mind, a book idea and even its title is already taking shape. I just need the belief to write it now and to say I am good enough to do it.

I have uncluttered the house. This has been going on for two years now since moving and embraces the minimalist movement. I like simplicity and space. Even my clothes tastes have changed. I like minimalism and follow Joshua Becker and his minimalist blog site.

Over thinking for me has been a real problem. I think too much most of the time. This is a hard habit to break. Recycling your thoughts have a shelf-life. Sometimes, you just have to bin the trash once and for all.

So these are the main changes and observations to date and these won’t be by far the end, of that I am certain . In the meantime, I am looking forward to reading Breathe and wish the magazine every success. My close friend tells me that when you are in tune with your heartfelt desires, things like books find you. I wish I had found mindfulness years ago but am glad to have discovered it now.

Go out and find out for yourself. You might be in for a few surprises! I would like to hear what you find.

 

Posted in Art, Relationships, Thoughts

The Memory By The Sea.

Lowestoft sea front

On bicycle they raced towards the sea,
Such a rare day, a blue fair day.
His hair was as swept as the waves was hers.
The ocean stirred her whole World,
And whipped up her thoughts in the air.
For he was her World and she loved him.
 
Road was narrow and bikes so close
On this rare day, a blue fair day.
That metal nearly crashed against metal,
Like waves against rock.
But they laughed, sped away and rode on.
Such a lovely World and she so loved Him.
 
They arrived on the shore line,
For this rare day, a blue Fair day.
She could hear the music in the sea,
He clutched the bottle, like the voice of the breeze,
Such treasure lay within,
From this lovely World. Oh how she loved him.
 
They tossed the bottle into together.
On this rare day, such a blue Fair day. 
The four treasures was theirs to hold,
Remember and then let go for the sea to unfold.
Such a memory to have, to cherish and to own.
From this day, oh how she loved him.
 
 
So the memory lives on by the sea,
On such a rare day, a blue fair day,
Thoughts linger down the years,
Like foot prints upon the cliff, like tyre marks on the sand.
As they rode off together but not hand in hand.
For he was her World and she loved him.
But unbeknown then, sadly he did not love her in return.

@onethoughtfulwoman February 2013

Posted in Art, Atheism, Christianinty, Debate, God, History, Ideas, Men, Philosophy, Psychology, Relationships, Religion, sex, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized, Writing

The Angel’s Game: Part 2

I wasn’t sure how I would find The Angel’s Game after the excellent, if not involved and sometimes confusing plot, of  The Shadow of the Winds. However, after reading the first two pages I knew this book was going to surpass and excel beyond “Shadows” and it did not disappoint, I could barely put it down.

What I love most about this book is the rich, poetic, elegant flow of words that help to create this magnificent tale of a writer who sells his soul, perhaps for fame, for money or both by being given a commission to write a book. This work is like no other, from a mysterious publisher for a vast sum of money. From the start Carlos Ruiz Zafon makes it clear what he is trying to say. For a man’s ego, sometimes he is prepared to do anything, even with his own near destruction at stake.

The depth of how the author created the characters and how each one was woven and intertwined with the story is something that Zafon does superbly. You could feel the desperate obsessive love that David Martin, the central character, feels for Cristina and how this relationship unfolds. You are not sure at first how the added relationship of Isabella is going to go, this held me the most, and I wanted to cry when reading her last letter to him. This was truly moving and haunting words so tragic and so authentic feeling real to me.

David Martin was intellectually a sharp and essentially good man, yet numbed by years of being let down and abused, he was turned into a character of coldness and unfeeling at times, seen especially in his interactions with his doting young assistant Isabella.  Yet, his drive to survive and to find the truth concerning the darkness of where he lived, that was linked with his own work, gave this novel a sometimes creepy, supernatural air about it. Turing into a detective tale set in a Gothic theme, this enriched the whole fabric of the novel and gave the plot a nail-biting feel. Just when you thought there was nothing new to add, a twist emerged and you were once again thrown head long into the pages of a tale intense and demanding to its audience. You had to concentrate, otherwise you would lose the thread of the plot.

Then the end: how strange. I read it twice and could not take it in. Had I missed something? For me, it left unanswered questions and a feeling that suddenly where it had been convincing it became a non-reality. Why has Zafon done this other reviewers have asked? It was a clever turn and the author’s notes for discussion could say why. Who was the publisher? I have my thoughts which would make the end plausible. Never-the-less I am hooked. I can forgive him for the ending though as I want to read much more from this man. It is hinted in reviews that with the completion of the four novels Zafon prepares to write, the end of The Angel’s Game slots into place. Is this up Zafon’s sleeve? Knowing his writing a little then nothing would surprise me.

If you want a book where you can enjoy some history, feel the city of Barcelona on your finger tips, with skilled and crafted writing around a great plot then read Zafon. It’s poetry from a pen and characters that come alive.  It is the only novel on finishing that I felt I want to read again and along with it The Shadow of the Winds. I  was not aware that The Angel’s Game was joined to “Shadows” until the final twists at the end. It was an Ahh moment. They can be read alone or as a complete story, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books being the cement that link and binds them together. A great find for me in fiction, like no other for a long time. For a thinking mind it is a great read.

(The images are photographs taken at the Monastry of Pedralbes visited at the time of reading and one area featured in the author’s work. The angels are a perfect choice of picture for this blog I felt.)

Posted in Art, Ideas, Learning, Men, Personal Growth, Relationships, Religion, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

The Angel’s Game. Part 1.

Introduction prior to a personal book review.

There is a saying that dogs choose their owners, not the other way around. Once I had started reading The Angel’s Game, I wondered if this book had found me, had sought me out and had choosen me to read it. There are some strange coincidences to this novel in terms of its content. How the main characters names are the same as two very central and important men in my life. How one of the key characters had staged their own death on a date mentioned by the author, that being  the same date also as the birth of my daughter.Things die in the same place as where new life arrives perhaps? That was the message that came across to me when reading this same reference of date. Also, to read a page in a hotel room in Barcelona where the main character recalls walking along the hill road of Pedralbes where I had stumbled across the very same place that afternoon; being many miles away from home and having never set foot in Spain until that week. Well, it feels nostalgic if nothing else.

This year has seen old ways of living being replaced with new ones. This magnificent novel left me feeling three things that are new. The first being an desire to write a creative story, something that I have never felt an urge to do. Until now, all my writing and blogging have been concerned about the giving of facts, discussion or dissemination of information. I am not saying that I will do this but a touch- paper of wanting to do so was certainly lit.  Secondly, that life can not be placed neatly into packages of right and wrong. How good people, who behave out of character or even very badly, can still be inherently good inside. It is the only the outside world and their experiences from it that can drive them to almost anything if the circumstances are set in a certain way.  Thirdly, a re-enforcement of wanting to stay within my new world of work in education. To help and inspire other minds to want to know, and to have a desire to read all the magical stuff, thoughts, charaters and facts that can be found within the wonderful world of books.

Read on, I hope to the next blog, a book review as to why I thought this book was something quite special to read. It certainly should have a place in The Cementry of Forgotten Books in the author’s tale!

Posted in Art, Change, Men, Music, Skills, Thoughts

Swans

I was lucky enough to see Mathew Bourne’s production of Swan Lake at the Saddler’s Wells theatre this last Sunday.  A very different Ballet from the one I normally would see. This was a contemporary version of the old master piece set to Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music. I searched for the revised plot in the programme to find no explanation, but then I didn’t really need one. The story soon became self- explanatory.

This video is a short but good example of the reason I wanted to blog about it. I am not going to go into detail about the scenes, how powerful the Queen’s part was, how funny the girlfriend looked, or how beautiful and fresh the sets were, including the lively and colourful bar scene. Yes, a bar scene in Swan Lake- quite unheard of!

Instead, I am going to briefly describe how moved I was by the focus of the show: the swans, not women in soft white tulle but men, virile, strong, athletic and fit in white trouser-tunics covered in white feathers. Their dancing was utterly incredible and the choreography was stunning.

How they moved and swayed like birds, their grace equalled if not surpassed any female interpretation. I could not find a clip to illustrate the duet in Act 2, by the prince and the lead male swan, how it took me completely by surprise. The rhythm and style and how different it was to the usual male and female duets. No high jumps and gymnastics but I found I enjoyed it more than anything else I had ever seen. How in unison they were and how well they complimented each other; their movements and timing impeccable and precise, flowing yet exact in its technique. To me, it appeared flawless and perfect. I watched spellbound.

The dancing of men as swans in Swan Lake was new ground when this ballet first appeared back in 1995, for what was intended as a two-week season at Saddler’s wells and afterwards a UK tour. Since then the production has been revised and gone from strength to strength.

 Ballet is like an institution or a tradition that needs to re-invent itself to ensure it continued appeal and success to new audiences. The old masterpieces will remain timeless and popular in their own way to the purists of ballet lovers. But new styles and ideas of expression is needed to ensure future generations can appreciate this art form.  This production certainly did that. This ballet broke all the rules for me and entered into new waters. It was fresh and wonderful. I loved it. But the swans I loved the best.

Posted in achievement, Art, Change, families, goals, Home, Personal Growth, Skills, Thoughts, Time, Uncategorized

Goals six months on.

Six months ago, I wrote a blog about what I hoped would be my goals for the next six months and whether I had achieved or stuck to them. I wanted to simply look back and recap on what they were and the results.

  • I grew some lettuce and planted some onions and carrots. The lettuce was an outstanding success and the carrots and onions are still in the ground but have grown poorly. I have not received any harvest from them. From this, I intend to lauch into tomatoes in pots next year.
  • The swimming was stopped for while and my aim is to return soon. I can still swim on my back but haven’t made any further progress. However, I have had little opportunity to go into the pool over the past few weeks.
  • Transition town activities kept going right on into the summer and we attended a big launch garden day and were fully active. However, since then we have stopped going for personal reasons but kept in touch with some people who still attend.
  • Working on family relationships has been ongoing and only last week, since my Father had a stroke and one of my best friends diagnosed with cancer has it really sunk home how important those ties are. This is a renewed goal and one which will have even more focus in the next coming few months.
  • The history of the arts pursuit had a lazy start but has probably been one of the most significant goals achieved. Having seen the series Desperate Romantics, concerning the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, I then went on to visit the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in August where Isabella and the Pot of Basil by William Holman Hunt was exhibited and then to the Tate British to see more of the whole brotherhood’s work. I read the book accompanying the TV series by Franny Moyle, and then visited the Fitzwilliam museum to see a Darwin exhibition of art. This was excellent.
  • I have made some progress on the gardening and am trying desperately to still decorate the house. This is due to start any day but illness from the summer and other busy events has meant it just hasn’t happened.
  • My relationship with money is still fraught more times than not, but I have continued to save and are financially “better off” than I  was six months ago. I try not to worry about money so much but still feel that my finances are on a constant elastic band. Just stretched out to maximum all the time with no slack. Still, have negotiated a better mortgage and hoping to cut some work hours soon.
  •  I have continued to develop my English skills and had one English lesson from a friend. On the whole though, writing and blogging has had to be put to one side over the summer and I haven’t written as much as I hoped too. I want to work on that still
  • I nearly got to visit FORWARD and had the AGM on the calendar and booked. But sadly my Dad had a stroke and he was the priority. I still haven’t made it there yet and this was the third year running something had come along to stop me going. This is disappointing. I plod one with my efforts in my causes. But I am now running and hope to raise money next year for charity by taking part in the GEAR race in King’ Lynn.
  • The photography is coming along, all be it a bit slow. However, the arrival of Photoshop and a mate to help me out with it has been invaluable. The photos are starting to progress and I did have a wonderful photo shoot with my Sister-in-Law  in the summer.

So there you have it. I don’t think it’s too bad at all. Some success at least. And a very worthwhile exercise to do this was. There has been one more significant thing to tell, and that is I have enrolled to study with the Open University next year.

I will now think about my next set of goals for the next six months. Know what some of them are already, like changing my job. Let’s see how they shape up.

Posted in achievement, Art, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women

For Tomorrow.

I thoroughtly enjoyed creating the pictured floral wreath for a funeral tomorrow. It felt pleasing to have not lost my touch since my floristy training over 10 yrs ago. There is not much time to do this kind of work very often.

I thought back to my days as a florist student in the shop as I snipped and created. I loved the smell of the flowers and foliage and the company and busyness as we were all working, say on Mother’s Day.

After yesterdays frustrations with technology, it was good to be back on familar and lovable ground tonight.

Another thought was why don’t I try to combine this interest with my other passion of women’s issues. To use this skill for the good for others. A flower work shop with a minimal charge-donated to charity, or simply a women’s awarness day. I could teach people to create and wear their own buttonhole or corsage for Women’s International Day as one example.

My hesitancy and lack of confidence in people being interested often get the better of me with this kind of thing. I should just be bolder. What do you think?

This piece is for a man I hardly knew as I attend his funeral tomorrow in Lincoln. But I know I have created many pieces which have both brought joy and comfort to people’s lives. My husband is thrilled to bits with this, for his late Uncle, and it has only cost £6.OO, plus having an already existing wreath base in my workshop. Much cheaper than inter-flora and with a personal touch.

I may be little use with computers and gagets sometimes, but perhaps, I don’t have to feel so inadequate when there are other skills one possesses. I was pleased that I had not lost my ‘nack’ with this anyway and wanted to share my thoughts and feelings with you.

Posted in Art, Thoughts, Time, Writing

Easter

Oh, daffodil and bells.

The garden blooms and swells,

With new buds, a new life,

The birds are flying,

as high as kites.

 

Oh Easter, rejoice now rejoice.

The birds sing in chorus

winds whisper a love song,

of new and old tales,

young lovers take hands

and walk along the Easter dawn.

 

Be fresh in our hearts,

on Easter tide,

of noon and sun,

and joy with pain.

 

Along the lane we face the day,

of come what may.

Kiss the flowers of dew,

like honey, it melts too soon,

Easter be gone again,

another year, another day.

 

The clouds drift by,

soon goodbye.

We should not mourn,

For the day dawns again,

and spring cascades on.

 

The march of time.

Like a fine wine,

we behold the Easter time,

and drink from her cup,

to be satisfied,

and be still to sleep.

Another day peeps,

from our pillow.

 

onethoughtfulwoman April 2009.

Posted in achievement, Art, Change, families, Home, Learning, Personal Growth, Relationships, Skills, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

Looking out to Today

Today, I go to a library return some books and find the last pieces of information to tweak an assignment. Three and  a half years of study is drawing to a close-well, in this chapter anyway. But of course my commitment to life long learning goes on but also to learn not just out of books.

I am giving myself nine short- term goals to now focus upon and this also embraces an opportunity to get out more and have some fun and social life with family and friends. Within these goals there is a more serious side: to do some good as well, or at least try to. They are as follows:

1) To continue my pursuit of my concerns, those being human rights and specifically women’s health. I will continue to develop my other blog site and to contact FOREWARD- Foundation of Women’s Health, Research  and Development. My aim is to initially visit this organisation in London.

2)  To create further an environment of care and peace at home and to cherish relationships. On a very practical level to get some basic home decorating done, encouraging the others here at home to do this with me.

3)  To improve my photography. This includes editing, shooting, days out and the theory of the camera and what makes a good shot.

4)  To take up the subject of the history of art. I figure that if I am to understand life, think and observe more and create better images I need to understand this subject further. To stand still and look at something long enough to form an impression. (I can be too busy, both in my head and in my actions to stand still and notice sometimes.)

5)  To continue to improve my writing and English skills.

6)  To get back out onto the garden again and also grow some vegetables.

7)  To not give up on the swimming, given the progress I have made, and also continue, to walk, run and cycle.

8)  Continue my new involvement with King’s Lynn Transition Town.( I’ll blog more about what that is another time).

9)  To have a better relationship with money and continue to save some more disposable income.

 Just because something has been written first or last, it does not neccessarily mean it does not have an equal weight of importance.

These are goals drawn up for the next six months and I will record at the end what I have achieved. Interestingly, my aim was to have five and it has finished with nine. But these are all do-able. In fact, many are being done already.

Posted in achievement, Art, Learning, Music, Religion, Skills, Thoughts, Time, Writing

British Library Museum

From its outside appearance, from the road, the British Library could almost be mistaken for a red brick supermarket, small un-assuming and rather plain building, sitting next to St Pancras railway station. You entre the main entrance and you not sure what to expect next. And then, much to your surprise, you realise you have only just touched the surface of this incredible building, as you pass through the main entrance. The library gracefully beckons you from a short distance away. Very peaceful, set in quiet surroundings, the busy London street just melts away into the background and you find yourself, with much anticipation, just thinking about what’s next and around the corner.

I knew this visit, as part of my annual London trip with my Aunt, was going to be special. What I did not expect was, how much excitement it would generate. How I want to go back now, explore it further and just stay there all day. It wasn’t just the atmosphere of the place that enthralled me; the interior, a lofty, cream and red structure with fabulously designed ceilings, or the fantastic, visually clean lighting and plush modern layout which captured my imagination the most; it was what this building represented and signified: this was the world of learning.

Now, I was with someone who loves culture and art but who I have never seen read a novel, so I knew that paying for a reading pass to read in this place was not going to happen that day. Another day out then, that would have to wait. Still, I was going to get a through good look round. My Aunt loves walking and I wanted to explore every crevice while there was time.

We headed for the main and most popular section of the library first. The hot house of “bookish” treasure. The history collection, where all the famous authors we would perhaps like to aspire to were sitting; their pen and ink preserved in dim lighting and secure glass cases. It was a feast for the eye this. In the end, my Aunt did sit and wait patiently for me. She was happy to gaze and scan briefly, I took in as much detail as I could. It was wonderful. They were all there, yes all of them, as much as I could tell. Charlotte Bronte’s fine delicate notes of Jane Eyre, Hardy, Wordsworth and one of my favourite poets Rubert Brooke. My Aunt’s son had bought me a book of his poems once and I got to know him then. Shelley, Shakespeare and so on, the journey through the years of artistic and scholary thinking moved on through the many display cases.

 What surprised me most was, there were not only written drafts, books and notes but musical scores could be found as well. Mozart and Shubert to name a few. You couldn’t help but start to imagine these people and their music, and soon you were playing their sonnets and symphonies in your head. Visually, it was stunning to. Not just dusky, dusty old books but illustrations centuries old, of religious manuscripts laced in gold film and elaborate edging. The labour of love, these scribes and scholars must have spend their whole life dedicated to these sacred religious works and their faith of which this art was founded upon.

Phew! Eventually it was coffee time. Even that was an experience. There were several cafes, of course there would need to be, spacious and seriously studious. Many visitors would sit with coffee in one hand and laptop in front of them. Minds playing, tinkering with words, forming arguments and ideas, reading, writing, thinking, creating. What a fantastic place this is I thought.

Eventually, we briefly looked at a separate area designed to show you the skilled process of preserving the books and paper. Apparently, every copy of every book published finds its way to the British Library. Passing back through into the main area, I glanced at some of the reading sections one could visit if you purchased a pass. I saw humanities and social sciences and thought, yeap, I am heading straight for you first when I come back.

I am hoping to return to the British Library in January for my birthday. What a treat. A train to King’s Cross, then just five minutes walk to the library. I plan to sit all day, explore and read, take tea and come home. What could be absolutely better that that. Not everyone would want to spend their birthday this way but for me it is ten times better than any shopping trip in Oxford street.

For those of you who like books and enjoy reading then go on, take a visit to the British Library Museum; the main library is free, you only have to pay for reading passes. I am not sure how much these are but I can’t imagine they would be that expensive. Further information can be found on the Library’s website.

Finally, I share my birthday with the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. I am a Burn’s night babe, where the Scots party and eat Haggis. I won’t be eating Haggis that day but if you want to find me then you will know where I will be; taking tea and having my own ball.

Enjoy!