Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The last of 2013...

I type this fairly concise and unusually brief blog post as I am about to get ready to go to dinner and spend the last evening of this year with my beautiful sister. There is not much time to write a detailed account of the year just gone; nor do I want to. My memory holds the personal moments and my blog documents the times I wish to be shared with the great world wide web (or who ever chooses to read it).

It has most certainly been the year of change for me. This is not something I could have planned this time last year. I did not write a New Years resolution for the universe to create change, but somehow change has happened and I have played a significant part in making my current life the way it is. So I am a firm believer that 2014 will be one in which I create my own meaning and make my own choices, but the biggest learning will be in the things I cannot predict or plan. The learning will be in the hurricanes and waves that arrive unannounced, and from the people I spend each day of my life with. So with that in mind, I do not make resolutions, which in itself bring pressure and lack of freedom. But instead I remind myself of my values, I remind myself that it is only I who determines my choices and actions, and I embrace whatever is in store for me next.

Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Step out

It is only just dawning on me today how much I truly needed this time off over Christmas. I am not so tired right now. I can see my family for more than ten fleeting minutes per week. I can wake up when my body and mind are ready. And most importantly, I feel brighter and more alive. I've had a week off and I was beginning to forget how it felt to not feel so tired and preoccupied with to-do lists and the various roles of my life. The all important balance is being restored.

Today I have gone back to the things I do that bring a little happiness and peace. I tested out a successful new recipe and method of baking bread, went for a morning run, and spent the evening in Leeds drinking, talking, and watching a film about life and the world of opportunities that we live in (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - definitely worth a watch, even if just for the beautiful soundtrack). I also waved goodbye to my Mother and sister as they travel for a trip down to Kent, and I had the most wonderful surprise when I found one of my very best and oldest friends on the same train as I. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy Christmas

Christmas means something different to everybody.. Mine this year has been about keeping things simple; taking a break and spending time with people. I haven't over-indulged (with food!), nor have I colluded with the over-commercialised aspect of what the festive season always seems to present. Nevertheless, we have had a very homely family Christmas - the dinner, gifts, movies, etc... But most of all, if I disregard the part of me that loves to work and keep my diary as full as it can possibly be, it is on the other hand, quite lovely to have time available to spend with people rather than time that is spent working and/or travelling. Balance, as always.

Yesterday (Boxing day), my sister and I took a run whilst the sun was setting. That was quite possibly the best way to spend my post-Christmas day.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Picture of the week

It is Christmas Day... I've just arrived back home after our traditional Christmas Eve drinks, but before sleeping and awakening to the real Christmas Day, I wanted to share my view of the week. I won't be making this drive as much over the Christmas break and therefore I will miss the daily sunrise. Well, it might be more accurate to say that I shall greatly miss the view of the sunrise, but I shall absolutely embrace the opportunity to wake to my own body clock rather than the unpleasant sound of my alarm at unnatural times of the morning when the sky is lit by nothing but stars and moonlight and the sun is nowhere to be seen.

One morning this week the view was particularly striking; so much so that I stopped to park the car and step outside to truly witness (and snap a photograph).

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas break: Psych-talk & balance

It is currently the middle of the day on a Wednesday and I am sat in the house with a Moroccan oil hair mask on my head, surrounded by books on cognitive psychology re-capping my memory on theories of memory. Is there an element of irony there in remembering about memory? It seems I have encoded, stored, and successfully been able to locate and retrieve the information that's been retained in my long term memory. No, I do not study cognitive neuroscience and I am not training in any form of Cognitive approach, but I do, however, tutor A Level Psychology, which requires me to be a fountain of knowledge and resources.

My re-capping of knowledge is not without advantages; I do believe that the greater our knowledge base and understanding, the richer our practice and learning. Afterall, we are not one without the other; each psychological perspective doesn't exist alone. And aside from my phenomenological appreciation, I do rather enjoy some information which is grounded not only in theoretical understanding, but also in a more factual and typically scientific paradigm.

I should probably move away from my psych-talk (AKA psycho-babble) and onto a more familiar topic of my blog; the art of balancing work, rest, and play. I have been encouraged to use this Christmas break to embrace each third of that balancing act in equal measures. We are only three days in, but so far so good...

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Life and mulled wine

We've already had two weeks of December and I have been completely absent from this blog. Whenever I find myself abandoning the blog for a while, it's never because life has been dull, it's quite the opposite. Life has been completely consumed with either work, study, clients, friends, sleep, or drinking... mulled wine (or any wine for that matter). I've barely kept up with my advent calender.. (yes, a terrible sign of adulthood)

I am feeling festive and sufficiently socialised after having three truly enjoyable Christmas celebrations already, before prime Christmas time has even arrived. Festive feelings don't happen naturally, so this might say something! I took a lot of risks at the beginning of this academic year, with new jobs and a new course, a new car, a move of home... I haven't really taken the time to enjoy the company of all the new people that come alongside new courses and jobs. One thing to say about the run-up to Christmas is that it is certainly the most welcomed opportunity to take a break, to breathe, to have a drink, and to enjoy the company of some really quite wonderful people.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

By the way...

... It's December. Can we start feeling festive now?

Sunday mornings and inner mechanics

It's Sunday morning and this morning can only be described with lovely, warm metaphors... Ones that would do justice to how blissful it is. Electric blanket, a good book, coffee, porridge, no alarm clock... The world is good today. It shall continue to be good partly because it's Sunday and days off are a rarity these days; they are to be used wisely. And it shall continue to be a good day because the things that I have to do are things that are really quite enjoyable things to do - at least they are for me! I need to do some more Uni work - write up client notes, perhaps make a start on this assignment, and do some jobs for my research job. All of which unashamedly, I don't mind doing at all. I will then spent this evening with some top people, so all in all it will be a grand Sunday.

A couple of things this week has taught me - ALWAYS use your wing mirrors... I really do need my drivers side mirror fixed. And I fear that the people I've asked to do it won't actually come through, so it might be an appropriate time to embrace and rely on my inner mechanic. Although it'd be more the work of a body work mechanic/engineer(??) than a diagnostic or engine mechanic. Thankfully it's only aesthetic functions rather than engine troubles, but nonetheless wing mirrors serve a useful purpose and one of mine is currently only half-functional. The second teaching of the week is to wear sufficient fluorescent clothing or a light whilst out running in the dark. I have been opting to only run on the main roads due to personal safety, but I hadn't fully considered the equipment I might need.. I ran into somebody. I literally ran into a man because it was so dark that neither of us could see the other. It was quite a comedic moment but it did make me realise that perhaps a light reflecting item of clothing would be more useful than running in an all black running outfit and having head on collisions with unsuspecting members of the public.

My final lesson of the week is not something I was unaware of, it was more a reminder of the power of somebody asking 'how are you?', and the expected response isn't just 'oh, I'm fine'. It was only a conversation with somebody who reminded me that there's a lot of value in being asked how you are. It's not to be brushed over or underestimated. Afterall, isn't that what I'm training to do - to ask people how they are and to help them get in touch with their true being. Not through seeking a response of how they think they should be, or how society expects them to be in certain situations, but for how they really are, underneath however many layers of protection they choose to wear, underneath all receipts of projected norms and expectations, and with no carefully filtered responses. Just permission to be accepting of it all. I wonder how we'd be if we were asked regularly how we are, not in passing by acquaintances on the street, but in conversation where the content of the response is just as important as the intent of the question.

Here are a couple of winter views I've passed by this week on my travels... Both in different parts of the county.