Monday, December 30, 2013

Nature and Mindfulness - being in the moment

As I wandered around Waterstones; the only book store in my local shopping Mall, a title jumped off a table and grabbed my attention: Mindfulness & the Natural World by Claire Thompson. 

The concept of mindfulness has intrigued me, I have dipped into a couple of published papers I came across as my fingers did a keyboard tap dance but have yet to do a full on, research of the subject. So when Mr H found me wandering in book heaven, not only was I clutching a little gem My Cloud Collectors Handbook I also had the Mindfulness book tucked under my arm as I hissed my precious... I settle into my seat at the start of a nine hour flight to the Caribbean the sheer genius of the author unfolds as she effortlessly weaves the natural world and the concept of Mindfulness into one beautiful map of a happy healthy life! She has completed my research and more! 

I am surprised to discover that I have already been making the essential link between Mindfulness and nature in my life and some of my blogs...stopping on the way to the paper shop to drink in the beauty of a leaf...taking notice of the pattern on the bowl I use for my cereal every morning...spending more time studying the beauty of clouds as they perform their daily ballet in the sky...focusing on the intricacy of flowers in my photography...

...the jeweller on the ship thought I was joking when I said I would rather have earrings and necklaces made from shells and coconut found on the islands than any diamonds he may try to sell me...but when I returned the next day grinning he knew he was beaten...

I am able to just be nowadays with such ease. At the Symphony Hall in Birmingham last Saturday during a candlelit Christmas classical concert the pureness of the sound was like drinking cold water from a fresh spring. I focused on the sound of a bow moving across a single string, the frenetic arm movements needed as the musicians built up to a crescendo in the Spring storm of Vivaldi's Four Seasons...and when my relaxed mind wandered I calmly brought it back to the beauty of the music I was surrounded by...That's Mindfulness!

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nostalgia - new photographs from old slides

The last time I stayed with my Mum we pulled out dusty tin containers of old photography slides and clicked them one by one into the slide projector...oh that's you Dawn, you must have been about...oh let me think...two...look at the television it's still have that tea service Mum...yes a wedding present...

We had hours of reminiscent fun! But some of the slides were cracking and fading; so with not a moment to waste for fear of losing more memories we bought a digital slide converter and with hours and hours of oohing and aahing my brother transferred the pictures into jpeg files. Now all on a laptop, the name game has begun; who is that Mum, how old were you when you first met Dad....we didn't know you went to Venice...oh yes....!

Once they are labelled my job will begin...enhancing the colours, cropping, straightening, adding photograph edges, and more oohing and aahing needless to say...

People say I look like my Mum!

Take Care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.
- Bob Dylan

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Note to Self in the Christmas Tree Box

The note sleeps amongst plastic pine needles and tinsel until Mr H lifts the box out a year later. Today my nieces have arrived to help, well do it, put the tree up I mean. 

I started scribbling a note to pack away with the tree three or four years ago when I realised that it is better to measure changes on a long term basis because day by day, week by week or even month by month things always seem the same...still tripping; seizures still come and go; fatigue is a plague from which I have yet to find the cure!

As the girls empty the box and the tree goes up I spot the last note and whisk it away to read later. A snapshot of the year before... an allotment in Nov...loving it...developed a technique to dig some soft soil by hanging onto a fork wedged in the ground as a rail...lost two dear friends Joan and Jon...seizures restarted in March (2012)& had to stop driving... the nagging nausea is the worst bit...last seizure was this week on New Years Eve...

Last year was a toughie dotted with highlights!  

In my note this year I will mention that I started writing a Blog in March...stood on my tip toes for two seconds...still having seizures but through Epilepsy Action contacts on twitter I am beginning to accept...started swimming lessons...swam to the deep end & learnt how to roll in the water...

But for now I shall play Christmas Carols...

Try writing your own note...

Those random memories make me smile no matter what is going on in my life when, a year later I read the note again

Friday, December 6, 2013

New kitchen and downstairs loo but what about my briefcase?

I want one I tell Mr H

Want what?

a loo downstairs..and a new kitchen...

It has taken a long time to save enough shekels to pay for them, but now in the planning stage every morning is like Christmas when I imagine stepping into my loo downstairs instead of delaying the moment till I have to haul myself up my two railed, thirteen stairs...again! Sometimes my delay is too long, too tired to climb the mountain... then...oops!  Mr H has even found me in the utility having a virtual wee I am that excited!

The kitchen has become my excuse, apart from fatigue, not to cook. Well I do prepare meals but I regularly play the Ping tune. Too many red patches on my hands when I try to bend to pull food out of the low hot oven; too many pools of milk on the floor by the low fridge. I have so much blueberry rolling practice up my sleeve I think I will start an Olympic sport.

I will have to do the kitchen and utility sort out in dribs and drabs so it will be a longish term project. I even conned Mr H into clearing out the garage by telling him the kitchen fitter said we couldn't have one if it wasn't empty. Ha! One skip later and the job is done!

I found a plastic carrier bag with over three hundred cards and letters I received when I was first poorly. I re read the cards and letters with a chimney of tears running down my cheeks then decided they had to go, time to move on.

But when I pulled my briefcase out of the back of a cupboard it started a tug of war.  Keep it? Give it away? It was a treasured gift from work colleagues. I think I was given this prize possession when I moved to my job in Wales, but I am not totally, no doubt kinda sure.  My brain does that nowadays; creates black holes in my memory. The briefcase has worked hard. It held onto my university student card and carried my papers when I studied for my MSc, cared for work papers as I travelled to and from meetings and still wears it's leather shiny coat.

Trouble is I don't think I could carry it any longer. When I walk I need my stick and a free hand because my left foot smugly decides at a moments notice to glue himself to the floor (notice it's an awkward male!). Last week I launched forward and grabbed the arm of a lady in front who turned with a scathing stare to see me gathering my balance. I thanked her for unknowingly stopping my fall and she went on her way.

So the briefcase. You've got to let me know, should it stay or should it go (The Clash!)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Now that's what I call progress

..last Wednesday, like a poolside conductor Bill waves his hands...swim to the middle on your back, OK now try and stand...chin down, knees up, bum back...let the water do the work...oops keep your chin on your chest.  I lie back and with a wet smile try again...

Each week I add a new trick to my swimming bag, last time like a floating log I learnt to roll from my front to my back while still moving. Bill has rehearsed the minutiae of today's trick; rolling from my back onto my front. I stand hip high in the water to follow his instructions...

...bring your left arm straight up above your head, turn your head to the left....then bring your right arm over your chest.. we look like we are at a waterside rave... then submerged I try. And try. And the twentieth try I have it in the bag!

OK are you ready to swim down to the deep end and back up?

Yes (aha my plan....)

Slowly. Breathe. Don't rush Bill says as the darkening water reminds me I am now out of my depth. At the end I clasp the rail. I tell Bill. I want to swim back up on my front but I'm not sure how to let go without the Tiger of fear pushing my head under water.

 I am desperate to tame this tiger. Today! (Rule 1 - Act Boldly Today)

OK deep breath, get your shoulders below the water, then you'll stay like that, head too high and it will go under, 

I stare ahead and nod

Bill adds; now push forward from the wall with your right leg...

On the way home, a bus ride in the rain cannot straighten my grin. I am now sure that in the early days of my recovery; hydrotherapy would have sped up my progress. But it was never mentioned and I never thought to ask...