Sunday, 29 September 2013

The bigger picture

In the early stages of new groups of people there's always an element of guarded souls and mystery. Nobody knows each other, at least not to the extent they will grow to know each other. I'm referring to my new course particularly. These are people I'm training to become a therapist with. These are people I will grow with and people I'll learn a lot about. But right now at the beginning there are people with untold stories and lives we know nothing about, including myself. I am part of the mix... I have mentioned in a couple of conversations this week that it's enlightening and refreshing to be a blank canvas, if only for a few weeks. Not to be self-involved or to think only of myself, but it's a change to be part of a group where most people only know my name and what they see infront of them. Not that I'm ashamed of any aspect of my life, and not that I'm a particularly private person, but when we open ourselves up to relative strangers, we are open to judgement.

Now whether we are actually being judged or whether we just fear the judgement is another question which is often open for debate in my own thoughts... But the mystery and the stories yet to be told - that's what I like.

Yesterday I played model role again and walked another Max Mara show - which was of course a lovely pleasure. Working for a great client with good friends and drinking champagne shall always be a pleasure. But what keeps me reserved for now, is that I can walk into my second job tomorrow and work with my student and nobody knows the other parts of my life or the other roles I play. And I can walk into the room of my new course mates on Tuesday and nobody (apart from the three good friends I already have) will have the slightest clue about the role I play as a model. Again, it's not that I even wish to hide it. If they asked, I'd share. But it's a story that's part of a bigger story which is untold for now.

Having written this, I do think that life has a more settled feeling when our different roles are shared. When people know and see the whole picture. But for now, I shall bask in the glory of living just as I am, doing what I do. This is the whole picture. The whole picture shall find its way.

A conversation

Overhearing conversations and people watching - the most endearing and intriguing way of breaking the boundaries of personal privacy in a public space. I won't go into the ins and outs of how much privacy we actually have in public spaces, or my thoughts about people watching in the first place. But I shall share a conversation I passed by yesterday whilst in the supermarket. It's not the act of people watching, but it's usually about the impact it has on us as human beings.

As I roamed the aisles of my local Sainsbury's having absolutely forgotten what I went there for in the first place, I witnessed a conversation between a young employee and his boss. He politely asked her for the time, to which his boss sharply replied 'it's not twelve yet. You finish at twelve. You can leave when 'X' comes onto the shop floor. Go on the tills until then.' It was 11.54am. The boy had six minutes left of his shift, and I suspect he was asking for the time because he was tired and hungry and simply didn't know if he had two hours left or two minutes. A rather reasonable question, which didn't require such a response, and alternatively his boss could have just chosen to give the answer to his question.

I just felt for him. I held back from what I really wanted to do, which was to give him the time and smile. Instead I just stood there, picked up my fabric conditioner, and made my way to the tillpoint to pay. But on my walk back home I firstly felt thankful that I work in a career where I don't have to accept such treatment, and secondly I thought that it really shouldn't even have to be that way. I shouldn't have to feel grateful because I'm not disrespected. Respect is a basic attitude of humanity. It's the way we think and feel and communicate with others. My life and my outlook is based on a fundamental principle of respect for others (and myself)... I guess it comes down to our own expectations and the way in which they differ to the expectations and values of others. It seems so simple, yet time after time I'm proven that it's not so simple at all. The way we treat others isn't necessarily the way they treat us. In its most simple form, that's because we are all different - which usually means that we live in a curiously wonderful and absorbing world. But in instances like this, it means that alongside the good and the beautiful, we suffer too.

Friday, 27 September 2013

intuitive improvisation

Another week has flown by. It's quite literally flown past me and I've not really caught up with it yet. But I'm definitely sure that it's currently Friday evening. There has been too much happen this week to possibly compile into one legible blog post, so instead, I shall just be thankful that it's Friday. Not that I've reached the point where the weekend is actually time off yet; I am working a show tomorrow. Thankfully I have Sunday to look forward to.

I started my new job as a disability support worker this week, it was the second week of my course, I found a supervisor to supervise my client practice, and I played host for a visit from my darling friend Anna. And the week is not over yet! The weeks still rarely stray from their only predictable pattern of merging together into one long stream of absurd, inconsistent, and yet wonderful events. A lot of my energy is dedicated to trying to make some changes, but the formation of my life seems very resistant to change these days. Perhaps I need to take note... Maybe this isn't the right time. But alternatively, maybe I need to fight a little more... As usual, I don't know and I'm not sure there is a right or wrong;  I only have my gut instinct. When you know, you just know... That may be the universe's way of communicating. It's the most trustworthy way to seek 'answers' - which seems suggestably ironic as it stems from precisely the place we are afraid of exploring - it stems from within ourselves. 

I shall really welcome with open arms yhe day this life of mine feels a little more controllable; when the madness changes from this sense of powerlessness to one of stability and safety. I adore living with an element of the unexpected, so I won't push the boundaries further than I can manage. I enjoy the variety and the amazing thing that no two days are ever the same - at least not the minor details anyway. But I am yet to discover whether stability and safety can go hand in hand with the unexpected agendas and a life intuitive improvisation. It's certainly taught me about the power of the mind, the strength of resilience, and the accepting nature of trust. But as I go through the process of applying for a third job, I begin to wonder if there is a limit as to how far a positive attitude and a trusting heart can carry us? Perhaps I have to make some changes to the balance I seem to have carefully and meticulously crafted out for myself. I do know the right thing to do... When you know, you know.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The biggest influences...

It has to be said that sometimes my severe lack of sleep can be due to a not-so-guilty Grey's Anatomy watching session. It's well known for me to watch two or three episodes on a Sunday morning, and that's exactly how I spent this morning. I'm not even a television watching type person (I'm really not!). But due to my ongoing appreciation of Grey's Anatomy related happenings, I'm going to share something that the chief said in an episode I recently watched...

'The biggest influences in your life are sitting around you right now.'

Just something to keep in mind - not to overlook the people we spend our days with. The people we choose to surround ourselves with are the biggest influences we have available. They are who we learn from.. They are the most real influences we know, and the greatest source of knowledge both about others and about ourselves. These are the lessons we don't find in library books or internet pages. These are the influences and lessons that only people can help with. People help people.

Celebrating age

This is the year a lot of my friends (including myself) are turning twenty five. This is also the year a lot of my friends wish that they were twenty one again and not approaching the 'wrong' side of twenty. I personally can't wait for my birthday. I have another seven months to wait, so it's not an imminent occasion by any means, but for the past few years, (in fact, ever since I was eighteen) I've resented growing another year older. It hasn't clouded the enjoyment of my actual celebrations, but I have been acutely aware that growing old isn't desirable. Especially as a model. I'm not a fresh faced sixteen year old, and I don't have the body of a sixteen year old either. I have almost been conditioned to think that my career as a model is limited because I'm older. I spent a summer in Asia when I was twenty two, under strict instructions from the agency to tell all clients that I was nineteen. And still, if I'm on a job where the people I'm working with are strangers, I still sometimes knock a few years off my age.

I even have friends younger than me who class themselves as retired models. It's an odd and fickle industry to say the very least, and I won't even go into the kind of message this drills into ones own mind, never mind the minds of others. Even as I write about it I have an odd feeling that I shouldn't be writing this way. But it does for sure open the eyes to a thing or two about age and beauty. Or at least what some consider to be ideal.

Growing older isn't about age. For me it's about experiences and maturity and responsibility. It's the bigger picture. It's a picture filled with decisions and consequences. With paths and mistakes and celebrations. With multiple choices and more unknown areas than we even thought could possibly exist. The picture is one of complicated and messy lines and pathways. It's not easy to understand, and it's full to the brim of people bumping into each other in the dark, stumbling around simply trying to find their way. It isn't simple. So why did I sit with my friends last night and declare my joy about growing older? They all turned around to look at me like I'd lost my mind. Maybe I have! I think sometimes being an optimist is the only attitude that can carry us through. I watched a documentary this week which followed some older women between the ages of 75 and 90 (ish) and it was a life affirming programme to watch. It was about growth and life and being absolutely passionately in love with life.

So although we are young, we are also old. It's an odd concept to carry - being simultaneously young and old. Two opposing ways of being coexisting in one body. Often it's best not to over think these things though - life is happening before our very eyes. Whilst I've been typing this, life has been happening. Life happens.. We have birthdays and we celebrate the growing older that none of us really feel like celebrating at all. But we do it anyway, and I for one, enjoy this. I celebrate not because drowning in wine makes it easier, but because it should be celebrated well. Last night was no exception :)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The cherry on top

This week was indeed the beginning of many more to come. I'm more than glad it's Saturday. I plan on watching Grey's Anatomy, going to the gym and doing a little yoga, baking, doing some jobs in town, and then celebrating two of my friends birthdays this evening. I am glad there is time to rest today because it feels like I'm coming down with a cold and there's no time to get colds.

Alongside sorting out some things in the house, trying to find a third job, and over-thinking life's most uncontrollable things, I somehow found my mind searching for acceptance of the fact that things will work out, I just don't know exactly how just yet.. I went back into model mode and did a show too. I always find that each day as a model can be vastly different to the one before and the one afterwards but there comes a point where you realise that that's never going to change; either embrace it or be forever fighting it. You don't know what you're waking up to, and you certainly can't predict who you will be with, what's going to be required, and when your boyfriend asks what time you'll be finished, you don't even have an answer because you simply don't know. You turn up, you don't know what you look like, you don't know who your dresser is, you don't know what time the show(s) are, and you don't even remember what your looks are because you tried on so many. A lot of unknowns! And yet it does work out eventually. Things fall into place and somehow it just works. It has to work... and even if it doesn't, the world won't just stop turning round.

Like I wrote above - it's similar to over-thinking and worrying. Sometimes it does no good.. if you find the acceptance (or the trust) that it will be OK, chances are, it will be OK. And if the process can be enjoyed, then that's just the cherry on top.

Happy Saturday..

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Day One - introspective curiosity

Today was the first day of my counselling & psychotherapy training course. I am now officially a counsellor in training, and I am really quite looking forward to the coming year.

We talked about introspective curiosity, which I rather like. I've often gone with the phrase 'be passionately curious' - that's one of the many things that helped me through my dissertation, and has guided me through any decision making. To always stick with the things that feel right and the things that make me curious because that's who I am, not because someone else thinks that I must. But to do this introspectively is a much more personal approach. I like it.

A conclusion?

I had a choice. A very simple, meaningless choice - but it was a choice nonetheless. We always have choices. Anyway, this evening I decided to go for a run instead of go to my usual Monday evening Yoga class. I do enjoy this class, but yoga is a practice that requires you to let go of your thoughts and clear the mind. To let the mind be simple and free and focus on nothing more than just being in the present moment. It's quite a challenge at times. Particularly times such as this evening when it was perhaps needed most, but I guess sometimes time is best spent thinking and considering recent events and not trying to eradicate the thoughts that are refusing to leave the mind because they are still yet to be concluded.

So tonight I gave myself permission to think things through rather than neglect and disregard the things that I really wish I could. I went for a run just before the sun set and mulled things over. I shall always question my decisions. I shall always look into myself, and I shall always at least try to trust in the process. Trust that the real story IS the process, and for the most part, I spend my evenings running and thinking about THIS, rather than running with a mind too full of worry.

I haven't concluded anything yet. Although I don't think any of us ever really conclude. Life just sort of goes on... But I do know this one thing. Someone (an anonymous writer) said that we must be soft and not let the world make us hard... And I know that I do not want the world to make me any harder. I have thick skin because you don't survive life without it. But I don't want to become bitter and resentful, and I want to always value people. This is who I am, and I don't want that part of myself to be compromised.

So these are my reflections. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I start my life as a post graduate student as it's my first day on my Masters. I am ready for a day of coffee and new people and stepping up.

Monday, 16 September 2013

A baking adventure

I'm really enjoying exercising my creativity in the kitchen and developing some healthy and great tasting treats. Baking is a time and money consuming activity which I've never really fully embraced. Since discovering the art of cupcake decorating in my spare time for the past year or so, but reaching a hurdle in that I never really enjoyed my homemade treats for myself, I figured it was time to start creating some recipes that are both healthy and enjoyable. That way I don't feel so guilty if I bake for myself, and the health conscious or dietary-restricted amongst the recipients of my baking related gifts can enjoy them too.

I am now working on my own personal recipe book which I hope one day shall be full of many dairy free and sugar free wholesome goodies.

Here are a few pictures of my baking adventure so far.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

September views

It's mid September already and Autumn is in the air. It's not smoothly and gently changed with grace and ease. Rather it's like someone up there has just pressed the magical giant 'Autumn' button and the temperature has dropped and within a few days. Boots, knitwear, and long pyjama bottoms are welcomed back out of the wardrobe once more. And I no longer resent my lovely little car for its shockingly weak air conditioning system. I'm rather grateful for its somewhat stronger and more powerful heating.

Today has been really great. Apart from failing to locate some new notepads and stationary, I've spent the day with people who tend to share the kind of energy that you want to be around. We're human beings so of course life and stress wear us down. By our very nature, none of us can ever be perfect, and even if we were, my guess is that none of our problems would be solved. It would be a tragic shame to spend our lives striving to be this, only to wake up to the reality sooner or later that such a thing as a perfect human being or a perfect world doesn't exist in the world we live in. So yes - we are human beings; we fall and stumble and trip our way through life, learning where the potholes are and strategically avoiding them next trip we take, because we know now that they are sharp and deep and hidden and very painful. And sometimes there are lots in a row. But I'm finding that despite all of this, there are still people who are somehow radiant beings to be around. They still smile and they don't fight life.

Early this evening I embraced the autumnal air and went for a brief run. I am truly lucky to live next to this view... This evenings run was more like a glimpse of tropical paradise rather than just a quick run round the river next to my own home. I shall move away from Yorkshire one day probably not in the too distant future. I predict I'll be ready to leave once my Masters is complete and I've travelled the world a little more.. Travelled and stumbled across a good few potholes along the way. But for now, I am here and the views are simply magnificent. It's the sun..

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A lesson a day?

Why is it that most days seem to teach us a lesson whether we like it/recognise it or not...?

One might quite justifiably assume that we'd be well adapted creatures of wisdom and knowledge by now.
However, reality suggests an entirely different scenario. Sometimes the only way to reassure ourselves when things go tits up and all arrows are pointing to ourselves, is to say that we live and we learn. But do we ever stop living and learning? Do we ever truly take in and absorb the lessons and act accordingly, or do we continue down the long path of life, continuously making the same familiar 'mistakes' over and over again because that's simply the way our own unique brains are programmed to live?

I like to hope that once we learn, we are rational and accepting beings with enough judgement and reason to warrant not making the same mistake again.

For  instance, last winter I learnt that I must never ever leave my house without first and foremost triple checking that I have my keys in my handbag. Now, every time I leave my house, I don't shut my front door until I'm certain my keys are in my bag. However, today I was reminded of simple trivial things such as two cups of coffee simply aren't enough cups of coffee to provide me with sufficient caffeine based energy. I also learnt that an apple, half a cereal bar, and a bag of popcorn will most certainly not suffice. These are both things I am well rehearsed in; they are not only based on first hand experience, but also they are based on science and reason. They are repetitive and familiar patterns, yet I make these mistakes time and time again.

I wonder whether human beings are made to be rational and accepting beings at all. Accepting? Yes. I think we can be gracious and accepting and humble when we wish to be. Perhaps even when we don't wish to be as well. But rational, logical, objective... I wonder whether we are creatures of those traits at all. When the heart almost always overrules the head, and when we are prone to such struggles and torment between the battles of the heart and the head. Why would we battle at all if logic and reason were our primary states?

So why is it that most days we are taught a lesson, but the lesson may have most likely been taught many times before? Maybe we're not searching for a lesson at all. However, when it comes to house keys or caffeinated beverages... those lessons are a different kind of mandatory lesson which must never be overlooked. Now for the lesson of sleep...

Monday, 9 September 2013

A lengthy introduction to September

Nine days. It's been nine whole days since I last posted, which I think might be one of the longest breaks from my blog I've ever taken. I'm not sure if that's an accomplishment or something to be a little worried about! I'll go with the accomplished feeling. When in doubt, always go for the positive. After all, you'd hope one might be able to live one's life quite happily fulfilled without rather frequently and incessantly updating a small corner of the world wide web. Sometimes too frequently, one might argue. However, nine whole days it's been and we are now well and truly in the flow of September. Not only is it September, but it feels like Autumn now. There's that autumnal quality in the air and in the surroundings.

I'm not quite ready to say good bye to summer yet, but I think that's the theme of my life. I'm not quite ready yet but I'll go with it anyway. I'll go with the progressively early darkness and the cold air in the morning. I'll go with the cups of tea and soy chai lattes with my home made apple and date loaf. I'll go with wearing my boots and the foreseeable future only getting darker and colder. And I'll go with it all being OK, because life is more enjoyable when things are OK. Even if that means it being almost midnight on a Monday evening and already my brain is dysfunctional and all I hear apart from the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard is the adamant rain outside my window.

All the recent change... You'd expect me to be well adjusted by now. Very rarely ready to say good bye, but life moves on regardless of whether we're ready or not. Time moves on, the clock ticks, day turns to night, Christmases and birthdays all flow smoothly and predictably one after the other. And no matter how unprepared and inexperienced we might feel, life really doesn't seem to be kind enough to wait. I guess one can turn it around and be thankful that if all else fails, at least time/life will be constant in its movement. At least when nothing seems like its progressing or moving forward and we feel that old, awful feeling of stuckness, at least we know that time is moving. Nothing shall last forever. Well, nothing apart from time... I don't think time will ever stop; even when everything else in the world is gone and forgotten, won't time still keep ticking away. Time is the only eternal thing we know and yet we somehow always feel like we're running out. It's both a blessing and the enemy.

So I digress once more. One of my favourite paths of thought; time and life and change. That line of thought shall always distract my brain, particularly at 11.50pm when I believe my brain is markedly prone to internal distractions. I've left this update too long for me to simply update. So instead, I shall just state that September is a busy month. I start my Masters in a week, I have completed training for my new job, and I have also started writing for a local magazine... Another new project, which I really adore.

Today alone, I met with my course tutor after spending the morning completing my induction for the new placement. So today has been very focused on this next leap of faith. I'm all ready to begin client work as soon as I meet with my supervisor and we confirm that we are happy to work together. I am both nervous and filled with enthusiasm in equal measures. Every therapist or counsellor I know says that you don't ever forget your first client - and from this placement, I will experience this. I will experience again the great unknown - the privilege of getting to know individuals and being part of a bigger journey. But also the challenges and demands that are all part and parcel of working alongside another human being. Human beings are not simple creatures. We are creatures of mystery. But I guess this is part of the pull - the pull that contributes to both my nerves and my enthusiasm.

Welcome to September...