Wednesday, 29 January 2014


These past couple of days I have been feeling in a 'yes' mood. The kind of mood that is very efficient and optimistic and more often than not, results in a realisation that we are capable of far more than we think we are. That there are twenty-four hours in the day and seven days a week. We can choose to make good use of that time in ways we did not see as possible. In other words, the mind is a very powerful tool. Now I could joke and write that 'with power comes great responsibility...' But without my spoken voice and the sarcasm I would speak with, the point would be somewhat lost!

However, there is a little truth there, in that the mind must be treated with care and respect. I learnt that lesson yesterday - that going to the cinema to see a particularly heavy film straight after a particularly draining day is not the way to treat the mind with love and respect. There is something about being a post grad student and trainee therapist that is very tiring. Perhaps there is just something about life that is tiring... I often reflect this to my students that I tutor - that the work is not designed to be an easy task. If it were easy, it would not be called work. But it is important to find what works and discover what is right for you. What is my motivation? How do I learn best? What really interests me? These are all questions that are really quite challenging to answer, but the tiring nature of life is made worthwhile if the work is for something that means something. If the work connects with something inside of us, somehow it becomes less of a demand and more of a choice; it is about give and take. I know myself, that I am more likely to give more of myself when I connect with what I am doing. Through connecting with it, I get something back. It somehow balances out the process.

I was teaching social psychology research methods this evening and at the end of the session, my student asked how you know when you've found the 'right' thing for you...? My response was, that perhaps there is no right or wrong - perhaps what feels right will change over time. It is a very subjective judgement, but we will always know what the 'right' thing is, because we will feel it inside.

This post is entitled '700' simply because this is my 700th blog post. It is to mark that milestone!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Toxic masses, work, and running

It is midnight - it is safe to say that I got through Monday. It really has not been a bad Monday at all. It has been quite the opposite - I am just ready to catch some sleep now, but it is always the case that at this time in the evening, the body is exhausted but the mind can function at triple the speed it ever has the capacity to during the waking hours of the day. Ironic if you knew how much caffeine I foolishly attempt to fuel my body and mind with during the day.

I have a few conclusions of today. The first being that when a student/client does not show, it is not always a negative thing. In fact, it is best not to over-think it at all. I got more work done this morning between the hours of 9-11am than I managed to summon up the focus to do over the entire weekend. This was purely due to one of my students not turning up. And perhaps I was feeling significantly more motivated because I spent the most part of yesterday re-charging my battery.

The second conclusion is that a good rant is sometimes what is needed. It is not surprising that it is refreshing and very validating to be able to speak freely about the things that really matter to you, without fear of judgement or disapproval. A lot of the time, it is assumed that it is 'not OK' to have an opinion or to act on integrity in an instance where the position of power would not cast their judgement favorably on your side. I see though, that some environments are too toxic and fast-paced to just slow down and focus on values such as the ones I mentioned. But on the other hand, despite some worlds being a very toxic world to inhabit, there are still some quite wonderful individuals in amongst the masses.

The final thought of today is that it is OK not to run. Going out running is wonderful but if there is an evening (or day) that it does not feel right then that's simply it - it does not feel right. It is not lazy or shameful. It just simply is. I did contemplate the run for a significant length of time, then I realised that in the grand scheme of life, it really does not matter at all. The world did not end, and I am still very much alive.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Work, wine, and the Monday morning effect

Sunday evening - freshly washed bedding, just showered, and feeling ready to tackle the week ahead. Well, some weeks I go to sleep on a Sunday evening absolutely ready for Monday morning, and there are other weeks when I am really quite unsure as to whether I will even make it to the end of the week. I remember this time last year when I did not understand this feeling. I did a few voluntary things here and there, and I was studying for my degree, but the only paid job I had was as a model, and as a model, weekends and Monday mornings really do not have the same effect. I would often work on a weekend, and perhaps have the Monday off or perhaps not. Who knew, really? I would never really know from day to day. Life was so very varied. It still is so full of colour and variation. But the difference lies in the knowing vs. the unknown. It is fine, but equally, along with the knowing, comes knowing exactly how little time there is for myself.

It is about balance again. I do not complain, I just think a lot about the direction of my life and how each and every decision I make (however significant) plays a part in forming that direction. It is ironic because sometimes I really don't know where it is going at all, yet I make these decisions every day.

I have tried to use this weekend to do some work. I tutored on Saturday morning and then truly embraced the wind and rain by running (almost 10k) and returning home to relax before going out for wine with wonderful company (thank you Moor). I then used today to re-write some work I already had and prepare some social psychology tutoring sessions. But really I have taken most of the day to treat myself to a new shirt and some Body Shop goodies, and to watch Grey's Anatomy and drink tea. I realise that I have done the things that restore my balance. So much of what we do comes from within, in that we get what we give out. And we can only give out what we have inside. What use are we in this world, if we have nothing left to give?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Tuesdays - fuelled with coffee and wine

Following my post on Monday evening when I declared a wish that I had stopped to take a quick photograph of the foggy and frosty sunrise, I attempted to do just that on my drive yesterday morning. It was not possible to catch the sunrise, but I did manage to catch the view at about 8.30am as I was approaching York.

Yesterday was Tuesday (AKA University day). A long day of lectures on existential psychotherapy and philosophy, (which I truly do enjoy...) and groups fuelled with Perky Peacock coffee at various appropriate points throughout the day. Yesterday evening we decided that the only reasonable way to end our day would be by heading into town for a glass (or two) of wine and laughing the day/night away.

Today is a day for working, organising emails, running (hopefully another 10k) and tutoring this evening... Oh, and drinking suitable amounts of coffee. I should also make a point of sitting down to eat some good food at some point. It seems that lately most of my eating is done on the move - usually whilst driving my car or walking from one place of work to another.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Frost and ice and disagreements

There are some days that are so very rich in learning. Today, it seems, was one of those days.

It started with a rather comic scenario. Imagine waking up to nothing but ice and fog and coldness... That was what I was greeted with this morning. Which is absolutely great - it is winter and we live in the UK; this is what winter should be. However, after showering and getting ready and drinking my coffee, I assumed that by 9am the sun might have assisted the ice in melting from my car a little. No such luck - my car was well and truly frosted over. This would have been fine if I'd have had a drop of de-icer left. It also would have been manageable if the car wasn't so frozen that even the doors would not open. It must have looked brilliant  because the only reasonable response was to take action. I chose to climb in through the boot to open the doors from the inside, and then wait patiently whilst the car de-iced itself enough for me to drive. Yes, this morning I entered my car via the boot. If you have seen my old 1999 blue corsa, and my big dark coat with a fur lined collar, this makes for a rather humorous moment.

No two days feel or look the same to me, but this one was particularly out of the ordinary. I had supervision, followed by a meeting, followed by another supervision session. My learning has been in all of those situations - all of them rich in equal measure. Somebody gave me a very useful reminder, in that disagreeing with somebody from an informed perspective is never a bad thing. In fact, often it is the opposite; it provides a platform from which we can build on. What is life, and what makes us who we are if we simply exist in agreement to everything we absorb? We are human beings; we have much much more substance than we often realise.

I do wonder though, at what point does one accept their inexperience and take knowledge from one with a greater understanding than them, regardless of whether that sits well with the spirit of who they are?

On another note, I do hope that tomorrow mornings drive is not as rushed as the drive this morning.. The fog was so spectacularly beautiful across the landscape but I was in such a rush that it would not have been sensible for me to stop and photograph the views. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

A weekend of firsts

Is it a bad sign that I have just reminded myself of the week just gone by consulting the past few pages of my diary...? My memory has never been terribly remarkable, but I suspect this lack of ability to recall is simply down to my brain already preparing for the looming Monday morning. It seems that the latter half of last week was spent working with students during their exam week, seeing clients on placement, or contemplating much of current life with my own tutor.

Another Sunday evening has reached us and I have spent my weekend doing a few 'firsts'. Well, amongst the work and cleaning and organising folders. I met a new tutoring student on Saturday afternoon, and spend the most part of Saturday evening simply sat in front of the TV. This is such a rare occurrence that since moving house I have not even spent one hour doing this. It felt good (if not a little 'bad') to sit and watch 'crap TV'. But it is there for a reason I guess. And I allowed myself that evening for a very good reason; the reason last night was to take a break and restore my energy, and of course, to indulge in as much tea drinking as I could possibly manage.

Today was a 'first' to be proud of. I have never exceeded 10k whilst running, so this afternoon I very much enjoyed an 11k run. One of the things I would like to do this year is take part in a race. Since the summer months, I have re-discovered running outdoors. I do not run for weight loss,  nor do I run because I have been subject to any kind of unhealthy motivation that might be externally (or internally) driven. That kind of motivation is an uncomfortably familiar feeling for me, and I know that this is not it. I have realised that often I run simply for the fresh air and the views. There are few things as refreshing as breathing in fresh clean air, listening to good music, and organizing what is often a very chaotic mind at the end of the day. Now I am not a professional runner, nor do I attempt to better my pace or perfect my technique; but I do hope that this is helping me gain strength of body and mind. The heart, body, and mind are all part of one being and I do truly believe that treating them kindly will only generate positive living and positive outcomes.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Back into full swing and a happy birthday

A timely blog update. Of course I have reverted for one solitary night only back to my not so favourable 1am blogging ways. A good friend of mine and I have been discussing how resuming busy days and late nights and a life full of simply living life is far more preferable than spending days (I am discussing 'time off' here) doing nothing more than waiting for the next one, in which we would spend waiting for the next. There is a lot of merit to be given to experiencing a fully appreciated day/weekend off, but for the most part, there is much more fulfillment (for me) in knowing that my day has been for something other than predominantly myself.

This weekend has been an exception in that it has been Frankie's 20th birthday, much to her horror in allowing herself to entertain the thought of waving goodbye to her life as a teenager. I did assure her that the 20's are nothing to be feared. In fact, mine so far have been quite wonderful. I have also revisited a lovely part of my past and went to see the Pantomime in Harrogate. It has been a while now, but it was a very very wonderful surprise to see some friendly faces and to spend some time catching up on the past few years. Not to mention that there is no better way to lighten up a day than watching a Pantomime!

Now life is back into full swing and I am picking up shifts, attending uni, getting stuck into client work and research, it seems that I am also back into my late nights awake cushioned on my floor (of all places..) with cups of tea and psychology lesson plans. Unfortunately this also includes revisiting things that are not of particular interest to me either. It seems that I have a brain that only retains information that truly interests me. The rest slips through my somewhat selective processing. This evening my mind has ended up on numerous occasions writing 'phenomenological' rather than 'phonologically'. In no other context would my brain confuse meaning with sound, but after the sheer amount that has been processed in Uni today I am surprised that I am still awake and writing.

Today has been one of those days where a lot of information has been processed and churned around inside.  Not just academic information, I mean personal and general too. The general kind of information that just strikes a chord and stays inside for a while longer whether it is invited or not. Questions of choice and entitlement. And questions that concern the very being of who we are. I am actually thankful today that I have some wonderful people around to learn from.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Scouting for the sun

It is no secret that I adore the sun. The sunset, sunrise, just the midday sun... Summer, winter, any season... any country in fact. I do tend to seek out the light. It is a source of humour for some of my good friends and my sister, but it is rather symbolic if I think about it. I like that regardless of whatever else might be happening in life, even in the face of storms and hurricanes, the sun will still rise and set. And even if the clouds are so thick that the sun cannot be seen, the colours will still change. Perhaps there is no need to justify the amount of pictures I take... Regardless of all meaning, there are some beautiful views in this world. It is important to see them and not pass them by.

I am still mid-way back to life post-Christmas break and today was a day off. There is an extensively domineering part of me that has a very ambivalent relationship with the concept of 'time off'. But I think that we do need to listen to the messages our bodies give. I am victoriously fighting my cold away and I had no modelling jobs, no other jobs, no lectures to attend or students or clients to see. In the interest of self-care, it seems that today was needed just to revive my energy from what has been a rather taxing couple of days. Needless to say I do have a lot of work (always). But some things can wait. Of course I have been scouting the sun today. I really did drive a little out of town just to see it set. And I tried a new running route too partly to give my eyes a different view and to feel different ground underneath my feet. Lesson learnt here - it can be somewhat useful to forget where you parked your car. I ended up running 7.5k instead of 5k this morning simply because I was running around searching for my dearest blue corsa that I seemed to be experiencing short term memory loss with regards to the location I chose to park it!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

'Normality', if such a thing exists

Today my life snapped back to 'normality'. Not that I am under the illusion that such a thing exists; it is a rather useless term really. We might easily be able to access the Oxford English Dictionary and provide a useful definition as to what the term 'normal' suggests linguistically. However in terms of defining a global and prescriptive example of 'normal' or 'normality' - that is a very different request. Human beings are not simple creatures. We might find that actually (and ironically) not one person fits the description at all. It makes me question the entire use of the arguably over-used and under-explored word.

So back to what I call my normality. My 'magical' world (as Anna says!) of sunrises and beautiful views. There's the beauty of the world wide web - the selective process of only ever writing the things we wish to share. I suppose it is the parts of life that receive no (or very little) self-judgement. The rest can be either deciphered by reading through the lines or it is skilfully filtered in the day to day conversations we regularly engage in. Or not so regularly... whichever the case may be.

Whatever my 'normality' is, it is slightly unusual today in that I have the dreaded cold which seems to have plagued me with sniffles and a tendency to overdose on Lemsip cold and flu tablets, paracetamol, and vitamin C tablets (which I chewed, instead of swallowed.. apparently that's not what to do!). I did, however, return back to University and I am very grateful to have resumed my sense of purpose, regardless of my impending cold.

Monday, 6 January 2014

January baking

I have realised I am quite a cliche; I bake and I feed others and it is most likely a wonderfully effective distraction technique. Either that or my inner foodie is given a platform every holiday. Let's face it.. my family and friends and occasionally my boyfriend get to eat my goodies but I rarely bake them entirely for my own consumption. I have made a lot of banana and date loaves this week, along with Christmas cookies, and my newly created concoction of cashew cookies today. I did, however, decide to bake some home made granola. This is a food I enjoy and don't feel guilty about eating. I won't attempt to go into any sociological or psychological context when I mention 'guilt' and 'eating' in the same sentence, but I shall post a picture of the delicious batch of raisin and cranberry granola I created this afternoon.

The first of 2014

The first week of 2014 seems to have disappeared somewhere. That, or I have disappeared somewhere. Either way, something mysterious has happened and time or myself has once more done what it does best and disappeared into the void of the great unknown. I have just had a phone conversation with my good friend Anna, which was lovely to say the very least. Just the time to be able to spend sitting and catching up with a good friend on the phone is not something to be taken for granted. I have a suspicious (and very justifiable) feeling that time is about to speed up a hell of a lot more. I go back to University tomorrow and I start back at work fairly soon too. This means that the luxury of waking up in daylight is soon to be a distant memory, and my dear old car will be put to the test once more with his daily trip to and from York. I do not complain; I am so incredibly fortunate to be filling my life with the things that I love and the things that are meaningful and purposeful. I am even more fortunate that I know this is just the beginning. But with that I am also acutely aware that I do not wish to close doors on the aspects of my life that are of equal value to me too. I hope this year brings with it a sense of balance and adventure. I hope that my life doesn't stop changing... I am not made to settle. I shall try to find my balance of carpe-ing the diem and planning my life. The two don't instantaneously seem compatible, but I am certain that there is a balance to be found,

The year started by welcoming it in with Bryony and Moor - a wonderful combination of people. We laughed and watched movies and consumed a little wine. It was really quite lovely to do not very much at all. We also wrote our annual list of our plans regarding how to tackle the year ahead with great energy. I am not one for new years resolutions, but I am a fan of re-evaluating my outlook on life and giving myself space and time to connect with what's important.

Much of this week has been spent focusing on my health and family and friends. I have appreciated to great lengths the time during the day to go running and explore new running routes near to my home. I have also embraced the time to bake and read and watch some good TV, whilst also staying mindful that I have a substantial pile of Uni work and 'work' work on my shelf and next to my bed, and still hidden away in my bag. Out of sight out of mind?