Thursday, 28 February 2013

Mindfulness 101

As life plays out around us, we get on with it, even if we don't realise we are doing so.

We do the things we have to, the things we need to and of course the stuff we just do as part of life, some days we can't even remember what we did.

Over the years, as part of my pursuit of happiness (or happyness for those who love that movie) I have undertaken much counselling, most therapists at some point, come around to a therapy or practise called Mindfulness.

It has taken me many attempts to really grasp this concept of "living in the moment", because I suppose, I have had many moments that I did not want to have to experience. I have had much sadness, much struggle and with those moments, there has been no joy, there has been no need or want to embrace those moments, and in some cases an urge to forget.

Life is not designed to be one big party, but a succession of moments; many we may not want to acknowledge. By denying ourselves those moments and not learning to live in each moment, acknowledging and experiencing our feelings we will also miss out on the moments that are great, joyful, good, happy, mediocre, boring, intriguing, pleasant, learning, fun and at times overwhelming, we will not have learnt to feel, to truly appreciate, and we will have had no moments, we will have had no life.

So be aware, pay attention, cherish each moment each day and be grateful for the chance to feel, no matter the feelings those moments evoke, but most of all feel them and share them and experience life by living in the moment.

So now I have the theory down pat, I must learn the application ... wish me luck.

I think the Happy Ending writes itself with this one :-)

People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul. Carl Gustav Jung

While this post is a thought that has been with me for some time, the final inspiration came today as I read from here

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Social Anxiety or Pariah?

Every other day I say to my self "I need to get out more". I need to practice my social skills. I don't have many friends where we now live, I have not had the opportunity to really network yet. Should be easy right?

I have managed to get a few phone numbers from people, but in the past, I have made some bad choices when it came to befriending people, so I am a bit wary. I am taking my time this time to exercise caution ... that's OK isn't it? We have only been here a year ...

I find it difficult at times to go out to places with my youngest LJ, where there are lots of people, as he still tends to run off a bit and is still learning to play appropriately with other kids due to lack of exposure to these situations I suppose, a bit like his Mum really?

And there it is ... The realisation, that I do feel inept, unable, uncomfortable and a bit of a fraud.

I can talk with a mouth full of marbles underwater, and at times, this can be a very valuable strength, but when I am a bit anxious, a little intimidated or just feeling like a fish out of water, this is what I revert to ... ultimately, what I know! Talking, or, in my case, offloading information and lots of it!

I do know how to have conversations, I have them all the time with my long time friends, I do know how to actively listen and not just wait for my turn to talk, I do consciously know many good social manners for interacting with others, but when I am making new friends and I feel a little stressed, it all goes out the window!

I long for a few local friends but feel when I do get a chance to meet and make that initial impression, I blow it EVERY TIME! I get so excited at the sniff of an invitation, for my kids or me, and then I get anxious.

I prepare for the occasion, I pack extra "props" for LJ in case he might need distracting, I ponder what to wear and make sure we are all clean and shining, I put on my best smile and off we go.

It is always nice to meet the children my son goes to school with and have the time to chat with them, and put a face and a name to their parents, and then, it happens ... I become, "that woman that won't shut up".

I see other parents observing and coming in to "rescue" each other with a change of subject or a request to attend to "a little issue", (my observations panic me more), they are all aware of each others discomfort and manage it within the community that already exists for these people, protecting themselves/each other from the outsider who will Just. Not. Shut. Up!

And then, I go home, feeling stupid, knowing I can do better ... and I will, next time.

Next time does not come, LJ gets no more Birthday Party invitations, parents run past me at school, always in a hurry, stating before I even get a chance to speak "I can't stop, we are in a hurry". And I know what I have done, I know how annoying that person who is me is, I can't stand her either, she bores me to tears too, but I cannot make her go away in those situations!

Thank God I have my old and dear friends, thank God I have a Counsellor who cannot run away or avoid me and has no choice but to listen to me and thank God my children still have friends at school where I cannot muddy the waters.

One day she will find another place to live that woman who will not shut up, but for now, me and her, we are friends, and I will just have to be the one who tolerates her.

Happy Ending: If I am to rely on having conversations with myself, at least they will be intelligent!

Do you get a little anxious in a social situation?  How does it impact you? How do you deal with it? How do you make new friends?

Am I not pretty enough?
Is my heart too broken?
Do I cry too much?
Am I too outspoken?
Don’t I make you laugh?
Should I try it harder?
Why do you see right through me?
Chorus: Am I Not Pretty Enough - Kasey Chambers

Friday, 22 February 2013

For my wonderful "Laggard" friends.

This post is dedicated to my friends.  No, not another one of these posts no tissues will be required ... unless you would like to laugh yourself silly at us until you cry?

For those of you who were not aware, (i.e., didn't read this post) I am 50 years old, and therefore, many of my friends also spring from that era.

These were some of my friends in the 1970s! Pic from here

However, I have many friends of many ages and so when we are talking "Generations" we might well site the whole alphabet, and Baby boomers too!

Which brings me to the matter at hand.  While I now have my Blog, (which I am always very excited about when I tell people), I have not always been "so Techno", and, by the simple use of that term, you can probably glean that I am still not "so Techno".

When I was growing up, there was no microwave, we barely had colour TV, the toilet was in the back yard and was emptied once a week by a very large smelly man who Dad gave a six pack to every Christmas, (which to my mind is a gross underpayment), the milk came in glass bottles and was left near the letter box in the "milk box" every morning, telephones were so heavy you could hardly pick them up and the "Cordless" had not yet even been invented! As for Mobile???? What the hell is that?
This was our home phone! Which is now referred to as being "Antique". Pic Source
So, it has been no surprise to me to find some of my friends, unlike me, who spends many hours on Facebook, Twitter and, if I have not previously mentioned, HAS MY OWN BLOG, are a little unfamiliar with the idea of a Blog and such "Techno" stuff!
To confuse the issue, me, who has my own Blog, tried to introduce them all to the world of blogging with a few tips on how they could help me "get my Blog off the ground". I had found some great tips on a tutorial that I stumbled upon via a link on Twitter that spells out how to make your Blog look more appealing so to encourage others (who are not your closest friends) to read it and ultimately comment! One method to appeal to an audience, is to have comments on your Blog so it appears that people read it, hence it is interesting ... easy I say!

I sent an email to all my friends that described how they could "follow" my Blog, how they could "subscribe" to my Blog, and how they could "Comment" on my Blog, with all the rules they should follow in diligent commenting and told them why this was all so important! And then, I waited ...

I have now had some notification from a couple of friends that they tried to comment on my Blog but once they had finished some beautifully composed and well thought out literary pieces, they have hit enter, and the whole thing disappeared, hence the lack of comments on my Blog ... I know that feeling, it happens to me when I try to comment on other people's Blogs on my iPhone, ALL. THE. TIME. - SO ANNOYING!

And so, understandably, I have nothing but sympathy for them. My first thought "OMG, my Blog is broken" how the hell am I, "The Techno One", going to fix that? My second thought, "Maybe I could do a TEST COMMENT?" ... and so I did! The result?

So without further ado, here is a quick instructional piece on:

1st Read a post or skim over it depending on your level of interest. 2nd At end of post click on the orange link that is "No Comments" or "1 Comment" (may have a different number than 1). 3rd Type your comment in the white box that will appear. 4th Where it says "Comment as" select Anonymous from the drop down box (unless you have another option there that you recognise, depending on your level of "Techno"). 5th Hit "Publish". 6th fill in the little security box thingy with the images you see and again hit go (or whatever it says), then you wait, not there at the computer, you will probably want to log off and check it out next time you think to ... I will then be notified by email that I have a comment to "moderate" and will happily do so, your comment will then appear in all its glory on MY BLOG, in the comments section. The whole process outlined above will make the orange link that may have said "No comments" read as "1 Comment", it will be yours!

Keep in mind, these instructions may only work for my Blog, from my experience, all Blogs are different and I am still learning too have no idea what I am talking about!

So to my "Laggard" friends, I love you all and thank you for your support and I would assume I will find many Anonymous and abusive comments at the end of this post!

The Happy Ending - Today, we have all learnt something!

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.
Rabindranath Tagore

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

If a tree falls in the forest ...

If a woman steps from her car, takes one step, trips on the gutter, stumbles, nearly recovers, drops her bag, puts her hands out to catch herself, drops her keys, catches her toe on the same gutter and falls on her side hitting her head on the ground, injuring her knee scraping her arm whilst all the time making weird grunting, surprised, forlorn half scream type noises in the middle of a deserted car park, did it really happen?

And yet, if the same thing happened and there were two women standing talking to each other one car away and saw the whole thing, did it still happen?


Because when I finally got myself to my feet, I realised that I HAD heard something (other than my own ridiculous noises) and that was the sound of their silence, as they obviously witnessed my fall AND DID NOTHING!!! Except to continue their conversation once they noticed I was moving.

I got myself up, collected my bits and pieces and limped the four steps back to my car where I sat and composed myself. Still no "bob of a head" in the car window or door just to see I wasn't silently bleeding out!


It's OK everyone, I am alright, thanks for asking. :-) I have a badly scraped knee and I think I have sprained my Patella Ligament which with some R.I.C.E. will be good again in a week.

When did people stop giving a shit? I cannot believe they were RIGHT THERE and did nothing, not even a cursory enquiry "You right love?" NOTHING!

It's no wonder people just die in the street these days, it's no wonder our society is so stuffed up ... call me naive, but until today, I had a much stronger belief in the human race.  I myself have performed many spontaneous acts of kindness or have found the reason to just ask R U OK? Hell, I've even studied First Aid!

Well, I know R U OK? Day is not until 12th September, but for me this is a timely reminder that we need to be looking out for others every day.  God help us if we don't.

So go check on that elderly neighbour, see if the single Mum next door needs anything at the shop while you are going, talk to the Mum in the corner of the playground that always seems to sit on her own, talk to the Dad at soccer that never seems to involve himself, or just offer someone a glass of water on a hot day ... whatever you think is a caring and thoughtful act that you can do for one other person, DO IT!

Happy Ending, we had Pizza for dinner because I felt so sorry for myself I just could not cook!

What will you do, or what have you done previously that was appreciated by someone else?

Oh, and bye the way, R U OK?

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. - Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Coming Home

I sometimes wonder how I have got through life at the hands of such a dysfunctional family.

It was only recently that I admitted to a Psychologist that I believed I did not know how to "feel", ANYTHING!

Not just love, nor hate, frustration, sadness, joy ... no not just one or two emotions or feelings ... ALL OF THEM! Some I do not know the names of because we have never been introduced.

However, after this weekend just gone, I may have to rethink that.

While I did grow up in a family that was less than supporting, caring or nurturing, I was lucky enough to have grown up in a time where the idea of a Community raising a child still existed.

I have a pseudo family, one I have known since I met my sister when we were 4 years old.  We were at Preschool, and we became friends.  It turned out we lived in the same street, so as we grew up, spending time with each other was not hard to do.

I became a part of her family, just because I never went home! I loved her Parents and her sister and even her Aunties; her cats and dogs, her parrot that "wolf whistled" every time we walked in the back yard, we played with guinea pigs and so many other family pets over the years.  We played as a community in the street with all the other kids that never went home; and we shared our childhood.

We climbed on garage roofs to eat mulberries straight off the tree, we caught tadpoles at the local creek (along with a few leaches) and watched them grow into frogs, we drew tennis courts on the road of our dead end street and held Wimbledon style competitions for all to compete in.

We recorded our own radio shows (on cassette recorders) and had imaginary friends who kept us occupied for many hours at a time. We took pet mice to school in our pencil cases, or our imaginary friends. We had gymnastics competitions in the back yard and swam in the pool in summer.

I got in trouble from her Mum and Dad when we did not do what was required of us, or if we pushed the boundaries from time to time. But I also felt part of the family as a result of that discipline, like someone cared enough to set me straight.

We went to Church (as everyone in our community did) even if you were not Religious, just because that was where all the community activities were held. We went to Girls Brigade, Physical Culture, Dancing, Sunday School, Youth Group. We played tennis at the local courts and bought ice cream on the way home at "George's Corner Shop", where we all learnt to play a pinball machine, not to mention Pacman and Space Invaders when they first became "the thing"!

And when I reminisce like this, I wonder how I could possible have been so sad as a child ... but I do know ... it was when I had to go home.

I had to relive that feeling this weekend, my best friend remarried and I was lucky enough to be there to help her celebrate, to revel in her joy and be a part once more of her family.  It was wonderful too to be able to spend so much time with our sister, and nieces and nephews and prospective son and daughter in laws, to be proud of all their achievements and to enjoy the adults they have become.
I felt like I had come home ... and then, once again, I had to go home ...

But I now understand, that I do feel, that I do love, that I am loved and that is because I was with people I can trust to respect my feelings,  to nurture them and to share them with me to allow myself to be vulnerable and know, I will not be hurt.

Thank you my sisters and my family.  I now know who you are.
I have come home xo

Another Happy Ending

Monday, 4 February 2013

Hot or what!

I made sure I arrived 15 minutes early, particularly so I would know where the Ladies room was as I was certain I would be racing there at some point in the next 90 minutes.

I was greeted by the same smiling happy face who had processed my enrolment only two days before. That smooth song like voice with the subtle accent asked how I was.
"Nervous" I replied, "I made sure I was early like you said so I would have time for my orientation". She smiled, and that, was when HE spoke.

I noted his thick accent and hurried information download with the hint of what seemed like impatience at my "newness" telling me to leave my shoes at the front here, he gestured with one hand while the other sifted through paper work, and the Ladies, (showers included) were at the back of the building down the hall he pointed. Yoga room there and you can put your mat at the back of the room thank you. It was during that monologue at some point that I panicked. OMG. Which one of these people is presenting the class? The, caring, kind lady or the "lets get on with it newbie" man?

My heart started to race as I asked very serious questions about what I should do if I needed to go to the toilet, vomit or die!

I became a little concerned as I was told "I will explain it all in class", with that same off handed Celt-like accent as before. I was very tempted to ask if that would be before or after I died!!!

HELLO!!! I am 50 years old, the only cardio work out I get is when I yell at my kids!!!

I decided to just do what I was told and hope I was still alive when the infomercial was given during class. So I went to the Ladies and found a locker, I then took my Yoga mat, towel, bottle of water, hand towel and locker key and headed for the "Hot Yoga Room". 

OMFG ... The heat hit me like a dry Tsunami! I stayed there only long enough to dump all my stuff and get the @&$# out of that room! SURE, I know what a sauna feels like, I've even had a few in my time, sitting, very still in a swimming costume, sipping water and I STILL managed to work up a sweat! It was that same hot air in your lungs kind of feeling that I had almost forgotten existed.

They want us to do YOGA IN THAT ROOM???  I couldn't breathe in that room!!  You will forgive me for thinking I had panicked before, because now, now I knew panic! I thought I might even die BEFORE I went back into the torture chamber.

Should I just go get my shit and leave? Maybe there is a back way out, nobody will notice, surely I wouldn't be the first person to have not even started a class? Maybe I could feign a headache, stomach bug, something contagious would be best ... they would want me out then!

I sheepishly went back to the front counter to try once more to get some answers. "So, seriously, if I feel like I can't complete the class?" "Try to just stay in the room."  was the calm friendly response I received from the happy smiling woman with the soft accent; I didn't see a problem with that!!! After all, you don't often hear of people leaving a room (hot or cold) WHEN. THEY. ARE. DEAD???

Before I knew it I was caught up in a surge of people entering "THE ROOM" and so, there I was. Marc was right, he did explain it all in class, including the accelerated heart rate (which I had interpreted as a heart attack) step by step, he made sure every one of us in the room learnt something that day, even the seasoned. Even at the point when I did really think I might die, he asked I face the front, if for no other reason but to see if I was dead or not.

If I couldn't hear his words or didn't understand the pose, all I had to do was look at what the others were doing around me, mind you, this is a case where seeing is not necessarily believing! Just because these other fit, slim, young people could assume the posture, was not a predetermining factor for me.

I persevered, I got through, I did things I never thought my body would ever again do, I did falter towards the end, but I stayed and breathed in the hot air, acclimatising; which was a good thing, because when I went back the next day, it was much easier! I did not panic, in fact, I was looking forward to it. The heat actually helps your muscles to work, tendons and ligaments to stretch ... which I am sure some of mine had not been doing for quite some time.

In the second class I was overjoyed with my flexibility. I cannot believe how fast I saw and felt the benefits of this weirdly satisfying form of torture.

I am looking forward to my next class as I can now nearly cross my legs in a seated position, something I cannot recall EVER having been able to do or nearly do!  My mind feels clearer and my body is seeking water. I am absolutely stunned at the immediate subtle changes I am already detecting. 

I won't know myself after a few weeks of this and neither will you! I will keep you posted ...

Happy Ending? Obvious really ... I am still alive!!!

The benefits of Yoga and Bikram Yoga are far greater than just physical flexibility. See here for further information of benefits of Bikram. 

Have you ever done Bikram Yoga? If not, WHY NOT? What do you do to challenge yourself?


"My Karma ran over your Dogma." -- Anonymous

This is NOT a sponsored post. The classes I am taking have been paid for in full by me.
I was not asked to write this post, I am sharing this story just because I feel it could be of benefit to many people.