Thursday, 31 December 2015

Take a moment and ask yourself what is really important?

A brief Christmas post... it is a ridiculous time in the evening, but I suppose this is what happens when we reach what has become better known as 'no man's land' this year. Thanks to my Uni friends for naming this period 'no man's land'! We re-named it as we decided this would be a brilliant time to arrange our Christmas meet-up. This was, until York became a partial under-water city and nature once more demonstrated just how powerful it is and flooding has taken over much of the city. It has been very sad to see what has happened; York has become my home and a place that I love dearly so to see so many people here (and in many other places in the North) lose so much is hard to see. However, of course it is so heartening to see the spirit of the city rise above to do what it can to support those who have not been fortunate. 

So, no man's land became truly a no-man's land and our meet-up has been postponed. This really is an odd week because it is the week I lose track of the days, the time, sleeping patterns become not what they usually are, I eat all kinds of food that I don't usually eat. I drink wine every (yes....) every night... And for some ungodly reason I have even put my work down for a week and a half. I have still been doing a few emails, writing a few applications, etc, but my work... my research, the thing I needed to spend time on.... Well I haven't opened a single article page or a single document. I actually feel good about this, but it does need to change rather soon unless I want to play serious catch-up in the New Year.

I do indeed have a very good reason for taking this time off because I have been home to visit family and we also adventured down to the South-East in Kent to see my Grandparents for a brief visit. I don't spend too much time with my family lately; my brother is in Australia, my mother works as much, if not more than I do (I do come from a family of very strong females but we also don't know how to stop working!) and I am lucky if my sisters come to visit once a month. Over this break, I noticed that sometimes I started to do what my Nan sometimes does (this really off-putting thing where she just stares at you....). I started just looking at people and taking them in and think I semi-understood a bit of why my Nan might do this. This is really what Christmas is about for me. Not cryptically staring at dearly-loved family members around the dinner table, but just embracing spending time with them.

Of course whilst we were away we also took a trip to the coast to take stock and take in the moments. This trip was largely planned by myself... But I made a promise to myself that this coming year that I will make more of an effort to take myself to the coast whenever I can. I will actually just make more of an effort this year, for myself. This is not to say that I do not usually make efforts. I do in fact make great efforts each day to maintain my life, my friendships, my jobs, my house, etc... But I don't mean the efforts of maintaining, I mean the effort it takes to initiate real change; to not to become trapped or attached, to be bold and make change happen. To say yes to more things, to take more risks, to make this the year that I actively stop putting limits and boundaries around what I 'can' and 'cannot' do, and accept that once I let the limitations go, there will be more choice and although change means leaving things behind, the road less travelled is the one I need to try. Seriously, the beach and the sea-air makes for some powerful reflective time.

This may well be the last post of 2015. Although now I write this, I will most likely take to writing another tomorrow!

'At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important.
Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.'
- Lee Jampolsky

Friday, 18 December 2015

Half-written address

As always, I have been intending to write here all week but goodness knows, anything and everything  under the sun keeps getting in the way. In fact, these things are getting in the way of general straight-thinking in my mind. It is a good job it's Friday. I came home, had a couple of glasses of wine, wrapped another Christmas present, and now I am finally heading to bed I remembered the mistake I think (?) I made earlier today. Now my memory is bad at the best of times, but I do really believe I did this. Yesterday I was impressed with my organisational skills and purchased a pack of Christmas cards. Last night I am certain I wrote one for my Grandparents and put one of my framed graduation pictures in the package too and then taped up the package to send down to Kent. I know my Grandparents' address better than I could tell you any one of the addresses I lived in growing up. So did not have to check this, just had to write it. Although as my memory is bad, I wrote half the street name and stopped so I could check later, and then wrote half the post-code and could not remember the rest. I made a mental note to check this later. But of course, later never came and I do believe I posted it off today with the others, to a half-written address.... A great shame, as I do not have a spare picture and I wanted my Nan to receive my mail for Christmas. I might now have to write a second one and feel very sad that the picture most likely won't make it to the desired destination....

So this is a small example of the state of my brain this week. Of course I posted a card with a half-written address. Of course it won't reach Kent, and of course I have been silly and careless!

I have not been intending to tell this story but on another note, I have indeed been meaning to share some pictures from our trip to the coast last weekend. Kirsty and I drove up to Saltburn, picnic and boots and coats in the car, and it was rather liberating. As my writing might imply, it is a testing time right now and there is really nothing better than blowing the cobwebs away and finding some peace. Despite my carelessness and the particular parts of life and work that are unavoidable, the trip was a fabulous way to re-ground...

Monday, 7 December 2015

What more?

I'm writing from our loft - the coldest room in our house when the heating is off but the warmest (and best) room in our house when the heating is on. Fortunately our heating has been on all day and therefore I have been residing at my desk at the top of our house. This is a pretty good Sunday for me - yes my desk, yes my work, but believe it or not I enjoy doing this in my own space and at my own pace. A good Sunday! Although next Sunday I am hoping to get to the coast... I think that will be an even better Sunday and balance might truly be restored. But for now, for today, it was good - I expected this weekend to be somewhat of a car crash considering all that's happened this week but I have taken myself by surprise, faced the storm, and I am still going. The past week doesn't even have a suitable adjective to describe it - We welcomed in December and now our house has a Christmas tree and more candles and we're playing Christmas songs at any given opportunity. It is quite lovely actually, and we welcomed the month in with mulled wine and mince pies. Really lovely... There have been some really wonderful moments with some wonderful people. But given particular things, it has been 'one of those' weeks. I can't write much more, other than you know when the universe gives you messages that something needs to change... My writing is cryptic here but I think this message is rather pertinent, and therefore I have been working out what I need to do and how to respond. This means putting all the time and energy into other things - everything and anything else, apart from my own research. And actually that is a bit of a shame....

Last week I tried something new and went to a Tai Chi class. I learnt about Chinese Yoga, ribbons, lion's breath (although I think in Tai Chi they call it 'bear's breath!) and also learnt a lot about the teacher's personal life... It was a bizarre experience but actually one that I took some learning from. That learning included some more messages that I needed to hear. They have this philosophy that really fits - especially if facing battles or trying to initiate change. I was reminded quite wonderfully that our most forceful and powerful strength is in our softness (try it next time you are doing an arm wrestle or trying to open that jar that just won't open!). Stop trying, just relax and move, and you will find that your strength is astounding. It is so much more that we think it is... WE are stronger than we think we are. I have been carrying that with me for these past couple of weeks and not doing much different but just knowing. The lesson that stems from this one is that keeping anchored to the ground and staying centred will keep us from falling to the ground... If you push at something with all of your force, inevitably it will fall and if your whole body is pressed against it, your body will also fall to the ground. Try it... and try again just using the parts you need to use. Your strength is more powerful that way, and you keep centred at the same time. You remain balanced and upright.

This is the third weekend that I have told myself that I must get back into doing some yoga, and it has truly been good. Strong body, strong mind.. I think this is fundamentally important... The week truly has been bizarre - there is only so much yoga can fix. But it is balance - even though I have had a few emails and meetings and conversations this week that I would rather have not had (some not my choice...) and it has seemed that lots of these things all come at once, I still found good. I even managed to take some time out for the cinema this evening and spent Friday evening with an old friend, a very good friend, and an inspirational woman. It is quite wonderful how paths come together and move apart and then come together again. Anyway, despite the storm (literally, there has been a storm!) I have finally re-submitted my ethics proposal form to the board with clarifications, as well as firing off a good few other emails to various people about various missions and plans... It is truly time to make some changes, and change does not happen easily, particularly when time is precious and days roll into one and perhaps most importantly, change means taking risks and letting go of the familiar. Even if it isn't serving us well it is still not an easy task. It is about making it a priority - making my life and my choices a priority. Not many of us say that.... But I think many of us would feel a lot more complete if we did!