Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Kindness matters

We have moved into the second half of the year and here in the UK almost half of the year has been taken up with the management of the Covid crisis. Management that has been focused on restriction.
Restriction of movement is having an effect on everyone's life. Whether it is being unable to visit loved ones or being unable to escape from someone who is very far from loving. Our society's view of loving kindness is being shown up as flawed.

I recently watched a film entitled The Kindness of Strangers. I can thoroughly recommend it for many reasons. One reason is that it has the excellent Bill Nighy in the cast. Another is because it gives an insightful perspective in relation to our recent circumstances.

 Kindness matters. That statement is true. We all accept that, however what is also true is that cruelty and apathy are still in abundance.

This can be seen in some of our accepted beliefs/confused statements that still get bandied about ...
    "You've got to be cruel to be kind" 
    " It's a sign of the times" 
    "there's nothing anyone can do"
 and my least favourite  "They only hurt the one they love" 

I would argue that all of the above statements are untrue.

Taking them in order, "You've got to be cruel to be kind" in itself is a nonsense but it is also an excuse to be hurtful. In past times, as a physio, it was a phrase that people thought described my profession. I choose to believe, that being a physio is more about encouragement. Getting people to do what they don't want to do, is definitely a skill, as any parent will attest to ...

Then "the sign of the times" excuse is just that ... an excuse! What happens in life is a sign of people's attitude to others and that as we have seen recently can be changed. Because if ever there is a statement that has been shown to be false, it is "there is nothing anyone can do!"

Just watching how vocal, impassioned teenagers have recently altered government decisions, should show that people can alter what is an unacceptable action. And there is hope that change too will happen as we recognise the inherent racism in our societies and see the widespread damage that this inhumane thinking can do.

I thoroughly disagree with "they only hurt the one they love" . I would alter the statement to "they only hurt those they can" ...  and has nothing at all to do with love!

 Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in the world" a perfect mantra for our times. Part of being that change is to acknowledge and act on the fact that "kindness matters". Start with being kind to yourself today and notice how it naturally wants to flow outwards ... it is a force to be reckoned with.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

A beginning ...

It is so easy to make a drama out of a crisis. Sometimes we forget that gifts come to us, wrapped as obstacles.

I am not referring to the overwhelming losses that many have experienced in recent months or the many challenges people have been forced to face, as one crisis after another appeared on their horizon. These can be daunting at any time but are especially stressful when it seems that there is no end in sight.

What I am referring to here, is my taking personal stock of the many moments when it seemed that disaster had struck, only for me to realise that it was only a hiccup in life's order of things. Obviously not my order of things ... which my family say is working to an instant timetable of events. Except for coffee of course!

This involved looking in the (metaphorical) mirror and noticing how many times my mind went to a hasty judgement rather than a considered point of view. Another biggy, as in a "Eureka" moment, was realising that frustration can be a favourite "go to" emotion and how destructive that particular emotion is to myself and on others!

Disappointment too, loomed large, as one delay after another had to be dealt with  ... and I am not just talking about the attic conversion!
What once was!
Now  - a stairway to heaven!

I broke a tooth during the first week of lockdown and as initially there was no dentistry available (apart from extraction)  I  have had to deal with some ongoing "issues" such as toothache and problems with eating!

These circumstances are easy to dramatise. However when there is no Oscar nomination forthcoming, it is best to recognise the gift and reflect on what it is offering ... such as:

Time for reflection, which is always a gift when a hectic schedule drains our energies and finding what is important in life sometimes needs that time-out period of inactivity.

Also Andy and I found that our wardrobe choices became limited due to clothes being in storage but it was our favourites that we wore over and over again ... after washing of course.

We also became more selective in other areas of choice.
  • Choosing what to watch on the TV or even whether we wanted to watch the box, as we preferred to spend time enjoying what we were viewing! 
  • Picking books that made us smile or recipes that inspired us to cook differently. 
  • Scheduling daily activities of walking, yoga class, rebounding and gym ball have expanded for Andy into a regular three times a week golfing and an occasional cycle, weather permitting.

 ... and let's not forget, choosing to keep the communication channels open for family and friends. We are all inclined to assume, that people we love, know we care. However just setting a little time aside to share a chat, text or zoom will always be an important choice in our various relationships ...

When I attended Tony Robbins coaching, many, many moons ago, one of the first things I learned was that it takes 30 days to change a habit ... and recently we have had 4 x 30 days at least. So what habits have you changed or maybe you're like me and have just began to really notice what your habits are.

Tony also recommended appropriate regular reflective questioning. Lockdown questions could be:

What have you changed during this time?
What have you realised ... your "Eureka" moment?
What do you treasure?
What has gone, never to resurface?

The result is being a "renewed being"! Someone with a fresh perspective on life, a personal insight into who and what matters ... and importantly, how not to make a drama out of a crisis!

This moment in time could be the chance to experience a different way of being, not necessarily a total transformation ... but certainly, a new you, a beginning ...

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Family fun times.

Looking forward to a return to fun family times ...

Family fun
As you can see the Canukes are managing to enjoy some outdoor family fun. They have been experiencing a little more freedom on the west coast of Canada as their restrictions are being lifted before ours.

Happiness is ...
Here on the west coast of Scotland, I attempted a walk in the gale force wind only to be blown off my feet! Scampered home quickly to indulge in a little rebounding ...

 Andy and I have been using our lounge as a gym with exercising on the rebounder and gymball!

as well as our usual daily walk and yoga class.

take me seriously!
Yep there are all sorts of ways to enjoy a little bit of family fun!

However even with all this regular exercise the pounds are still piling on as food has been exercising our minds!

We have been occupied by thinking about it, buying, it, cooking it and then eating it ...

Here are a few of our favourites:

seafood tagliatelle - cin cin
lasagne - just out the oven
fruit salad - always a favourite

 ... and family fun before lockdown, a Mexican evening at Natalie and Kenneth's!

Memories ...
I am sooooo looking forward to the releasing of lockdown restrictions. Nicola Sturgeon, our first minister has promised that next week will see a lifting of some of the "rules" and playing golf and tennis are going to be top of the list. Guess who is a happy chappie in our house?

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Unprecedented times ...

In these unprecedented times, today is Wednesday and it is my day for the weekly shop ... and as it turns out, it is also the day to write my monthly blog.

There are so many changes happening around our present circumstances, that it is hard, not to be sad or anxious when we are informed of the many people affected by this global pandemic.

However, it is also easy, to notice when we are surrounded by blessings. Whether it is the ability to take a walk, have a talk with friends and family on facebook, whatsapp, messenger and zoom or just the ability to breathe easily ...

Andy's and my personal routine while social distancing, is very similar to many others with the daily walk and weekly shop. Andy and I usually walk to the Largs "Pencil" landmark and over the past 3 weeks of lockdown, we have noticed that less and less people are walking the well trodden path to the local monument ... for whatever reason the town is getting quieter and quieter as we acclimatise to what is asked of us.

A normal morning always included a coffee with puzzles on the balcony when the sun shone.

Likewise, home made soups for lunch when there was a chill in the air was a regular feature in our weekly routine.

However experimenting with what's available in the fridge and freezer is totally new to us! As our cupboards empty, we are getting more and more inventive as the nearer to Wednesday's shopping day looms ...

Some of the other activities that are new to us, are the family zoom parties including Rosie's first birthday ... experienced as a virtual party!


It was good to see her enjoying her special day albeit virtually...

Virtual party

Birthday girl.

Our visit to Canada had been cancelled so connecting through the ether has been a godsend. Rosie is such a happy child and Murphy has been a very supportive big brother including helping her open her pressies.

Notice the suspicious hand in the photo!

Party frock.

Another difference in our daily routine is a return to teaching a yoga class.

 Andy and I have been exploring yoga postures and various relaxation methods in order to keep our bodies healthy and our minds relaxed.

Regularly at 4 pm, through an iphone video call to other members of the family, we stretch, bend and breathe in all sorts of ways.

I must say that it has been a unique moment of connection across the airwaves.

We all need to stay connected at this time. If someone comes into our thoughts, let's not let it be a transient moment in time but hold that person close and contact them anyway we can. Whatever we can do ... this is the time to do it.

Ready for the stairs?

However there are also times when there is nothing we can do!  As you can see from the photos, understandably, our plans, like everyone else's have gone on hold.

The attic conversion is waiting for the return of tradesmen ...
  the joiner even left his overalls!

Where is the en-suite bathroom?

 The loft is empty, however the rest of the house now has everything else that was once stored here. Lockdown has given us a chance to clear out much of our unecessary accumulated "stuff", but like everything else at this time, it has nowhere to go!
Porto Azzurro
 One of my favourite places to go is Porto Azzurro, on the island of Elba. I was intending to enrol again this summer for a course at the ABC Italian school. This is just another one of our cancelled visits. Our thoughts are with all those Italian friends who have faced this pandemic a few weeks ahead of us, here in the UK.

To all those around the world who are dealing with adversity, illness and bereavement, let's include a daily moment of our time to focus our loving thoughts flowing out into the ether ...

               Unprecedented times require us all to connect in any which way we can.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Social distancing - a world apart

What strange times we are living through.

It has become my routine to write a monthly blog ... mainly to keep a memory of what my living circumstances are, as a rolling calendar or diary of events. There is no doubt in my mind that what has occurred over the past month in the UK and in previous months to other countries will not be easily forgotten!

But what does social distancing really mean and what will be the long term results of self-isolation? Not sure there is a definite answer but what I do know is that we need to keep connected in any which way we can.

Who knew that Facebook would be hero in times like these? Just avoid fake news!!
Facebook's close relative, "whatsapp",  is keeping us as a family in contact. Both here in Scotland and far away in Canada. Although isolation is a common issue with us all, whatsapp groups are bringing many of us together as humourous messages are flying back and forth across the airwaves.

Enforced leisure is challenging to us and "filling" our time can create stress as our choices become more and more limited.

 I am choosing to keep writing in any way I can. Texts and whatsapps, emails, blogs and newsletters and as recommended by my publisher to all her hopeful writers "just get on with finishing your book!"

Let's keep some virtual contact going all around the world. Social distancing doesn't have to mean a world apart.  It could be the catalyst/final straw we need to bring the world together ...

Monday, 24 February 2020

Down memory lane ...

Clearing out an attic brings up lots of memories.

Whether it is the photos that remind you of happy times, wonderful holidays or the photos that remind you of who you once were, decade by decade.

There are the books read just once ... or the others that are read over and over again until you are word perfect but you still have to hold on to, just in case you want to visit them again.

The dressing up box that needs to go! but what if someone needs that feather boa, devil ears, angel wings? Although perhaps not all at once ...
Then, there are the paintings that are just gathering dust,  the clothes - no longer the right size, the right colour or even yours! and the ornaments that you no longer wish to put on display not to mention the mega mountain of towels that may come in handy someday.
Or is that just my attic?

Clearing out can be cathartic.
It can be healing as you let go of unnecessary "stuff".
It can be beneficial as you recycle your treasures.
For me it has been all of the above.
Clearing out the attic has been a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Now, it's time to enjoy the present moment, knowing that it will eventually join all those other memories ...

The following is one of the treasures I found in the attic that I would like to share with you.

Om shanti,

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Whatever the weather - dress for the occasion.

Here I am all dressed up for two very different occasions.

First one is - the return
Just back from walking in the rain ... 
and the wind ... and the hail. 
However I am, as you will notice, still smiling! Just ...

I was dripping, but all the better for my walk. Honest...
As Billy Connelly has been oft quoted "There is no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothes!" My raincoat was an all weather coat, perfect for the ever changing Scottish weather conditions.

In the background is our new courtyard. Only a year after we started the process. Must remember that fact when thinking about any proposed 2020 plans.

... and of course I am still working with the plan  - to have no plan. That is probably why I kept putting off submitting two chapters of my book to a publishing contact.

Emailed them off today ...
and rewarded myself with a walk,
and then the gods rained on me ...

The second occasion is - the departure

Is it the same wummin? I hear you ask. Oh yes it is!
This time I am all dressed up, ready to set off for a family adventure to the Panto. Oh yes I am! 

and it was a perfect evening of Scottish humour wrapped up in the glow of Snow White's fairy tale.

Worth remembering that whatever the occasion and whether you are coming or going, it is good to dress the part. Whatever you consider your part to be.

So in keeping with the pantomime theme, 2019 is behind you...
and 2020 could well be the year of your very own fairy tale.
Which role have you been rehearsing for:
Sleeping Beauty? Fairy godmother or the "Godfather"? Or being part of an ideal couple like Fiona and Shrek?

Whatever part you have to play in 2020, I wish you happiness in your starring role with the best supporting cast you could ask for...