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What does mindfulness look like to me?

We live in a very strange time where the concept of being busy is, socially speaking, highly regarded. In the age of the digitally organised if you don’t have a calendar detailing your appointments for the next 6 months available in less than 3 taps on your smartphone then do you really have your life together at all?

Being mindful and taking time for yourself is important. It helps you recharge. We all know it, but it’s difficult to give it the significance it deserves in our busy schedules.

Earlier this year I was forced into a six month social hiatus. I tried a bunch of commonly recommended relaxation techniques but none of them seemed to stick. Knitting seemed endless. Baths stressed me out. Adult colouring books reminded me of my geography teacher who told me I was bad at colouring in back in secondary school.

So what does my particular brand of mindfulness look like?

It took a lot of experimenting for me to find just a handful of things that really, truly help me to…

Fixer-upper

I’m leading a valiant fight against my house in the self-titled War On Stuff that I began when I moved in with my partner two and a half years ago. If left to my own devices I’m not sure whether I would go full minimalist or disappear to occasionally emerge as a full time hoarder of “things I like and I’m sure will come in handy one day”, although if my 3 years at university are anything to go by I think it would probably be the latter. Tom is somewhere in between; while he also loves a bargain and hates throwing stuff away, he has moved around a lot in the last 10 years so can be pretty ruthless when it comes to the keep or save question when we’re due a clear out.

These ongoing battles sometimes temporarily subside as I shift my focus to storage. I keep arts and crafts materials in a variety of places around the house (telling myself and Tom that it’s for a project that hasn’t been born yet) and have stern conversations with myself along the lines of well if you’re …

Different directions

A friend asked me recently if I still had any childhood dreams for my future that are unrealistic. My immediate response was becoming an author; she was quick to my defense, saying that if anything my continued dedication to writing was surely a sign that one day I might actually be able to get there. Her question made me think about how I define success, but also about how I define myself, a writer. The definition is not all that important, but I think there’s an important discussion in the thinking behind it.

I’ve been blogging for about 9 years. The blogs I’ve had in the past have usually come to an end because I’ve tried to keep to a theme – everyone has a blog nowadays and the advice for running a successful one is always the same, “find your niche.” But I don’t have one. Sticking to one thing just isn’t working for me. So I’m redefining my little web space and hopefully creating more of a portfolio instead.

Writing and vulnerability

I’ve always written, in one…

On consuming, and consuming, and consuming…

Certain aspects of my lifestyle are a constant source of amusement to some of my colleagues. I learnt pretty quickly as a child that a lot of people thought my buying clothes from charity shops meant something negative about me – my family didn’t have enough money, I didn’t care about my appearance or I didn’t wash properly. I reacted by begging my mum for new clothes every week and not telling anyone about the clothes that weren’t new.

Like most youngsters, all I wanted was to be accepted by my peers and if that meant sulking until I got a new glittery top, then so be it. 90s fashion turned out to be particularly cruel to my pre-puberty body, but I genuinely thought the flared pink cords and the two-sizes-too-small Jane Norman top were my ticket to “popular.” Of course, once I had the clothes I quickly realised that the popular kids were no fun, and proceeded to spend my mid-teenage years experimenting with goth and hippy culture, which was far more accepting of my e…

Searching for relatives

I’m in Nottingham visiting a friend and searching for a relative. I’m crossing paths of modern day me with my family roots, as my mum grew up here and her parents were both from Nottingham.

My nan passed away in February this year after a long battle with dementia. She can’t have seen her sister, my Great Aunt for over a decade. I haven’t seen her since before my teenage years, so despite being a little apprehensive about what we would talk about I decided that I’ve had enough of waiting for the right moment. Sometimes I think we never feel truly ready for anything.

I remember her from when I was little, soft perfume and short curly hair, warm knit cardigans and calling me and my brother “ducky”. She would come down for Christmas and we’d sit around the dining table eating lunch together. She probably smiled her way through a lot of my made up stories, the latest adventures of Pecan and her twin sister Almond (grizzly bear Beanie Babys, if you’re wondering. I had so m…

Conversations in coffee shops with strangers #1

I try to meet up with my parents on a Saturday morning and go for coffee with them. When I was younger I had a very complicated relationship with them (don’t most teenagers?) but as I’ve matured I’m beginning to understand how important it is to get to know them as people following their own paths.

My parents separated when I was 13, but didn’t divorce until I was 21. That’s a story for another time.

This morning I met up with my dad to go for coffee. I’m pretty much always late, as I have to get two buses to get to him (here’s to you, Southampton buses, for providing no easy route between Shirley and Portswood. Thanks for that) and he always arrives 10 minutes early. We usually go looking around charity shops together, but I hadn’t seen him in almost a month so instead we just sat and talked over coffee.

We chatted about work, mainly, and then he asked how my therapy sessions were going. He also asked how I was coping with my nan’s death and I spoke honestly about how…

Exploring new places

I’m writing a book!

Well, not just yet. I’m taking part in National Novel Writing Month. Find out more about it here.

I’ve been taking part in NaNo for a little while. Here’s a not-so-delicious secret – I’ve never won. 50,000 words is quite a lot.

So why do I keep doing it? If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s starting something afresh as many times as possible and not losing enthusiasm. Fingers crossed this year I’ve finally got the whole discipline thing down and maybe I’ll emerge triumphant. Or, maybe not, but that’s totally fine too. Progress is progress.

I read this article called “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life’s Purpose” by Mark Manson a while back and I finally figured out my answer to #3.
3. WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT AND POOP? For me, it’s taking and editing photographs.

So weekend before last Tom and I made pasties, jumped in the car with our cameras and headed to Lepe Beach and Country Park, where neither of us have ever been b…