Tag Archives: mindfulness

Free (non)Thinking…

25 Aug

A very good friend of mine advocates ‘No Box Thinking’ . In fact , in a past chapter of her eclectic life, she wrote and delivered seminars about it.  I’ve not seen her seminar…perhaps I should watch it, I’m sure there’s a video or podcast out there somewhere.

Anyway, the premise is based around forgetting the sales/marketing propaganda of ‘thinking outside the box’ and instead just get rid of the damned box.  Sounds like perfect sense to me.  In fact I thought I lived by this very premise: not pigeon holing life; not following set paths.  I really believed that not only did I agree with the overarching idea, but that I was successfully both teaching that ideology to my son and leading by example.  I really thought I was living without a box.

Then I went away for a couple of nights and realised that whilst I live outside of the ‘norm’ and largely don’t conform by walking the marked paths of progress and expectation; my life, like most people’s, has become so full and busy that I only see outside the near peripheries of what I already do.

My boxes may be large and colourful, and not particularly cuboid, but they still exists.  I’m still constrained by them.

A few hours into a car journey towards a rare 2 days off for a little R&R and my busy little mind wandered off ; it meandered outside of its normal constraints and met up with some random ideas and options.

I thought I had life sussed, but I realise now that my life lacks one vital ingredient for ‘no box thinking’ … that ingredient is best described as ‘Nothing time’;  moments of time where the mind is not processing data; not reviewing existing projects and ‘to do’ lists; not worrying about outstanding commitments; pressing engagements; the shopping; the cleaning; the kids; work ; phone calls that should have been made; emails that need to be sent; letters that need to be composed.  I’m talking about those rare moments when your mind is silent.

freedom butterfly

Perhaps silent is the wrong word.  I mean moments when the butterfly cage of the mind is opened and the butterfly can flutter off and explore the wider landscape and take an aerial view of life.

Precious moments of free (non)thinking have broadened my horizons.  I’ve viewed my landscape from way above the ceiling I’m normally constrained by and as such I’ve spotted a few more paths worth exploring.

Like me, you may already have a life full of joy and activities; love and fun; as well as work and routine. Like me you may not crave anything else: BUT I challenge you to afford yourself some nothing time, a few moments of free (non)thinking, and see where your imagination might take you…….

Dinah Liversidge is now a small holder, country dweller, crafter, active community member, wedding celebrant, motivator and general super cool superstar of a woman living in rural wales and I am lucky enough to call her my friend.  In a past life chapter she was a life coach and mentor and ocasionally she slips back into it both officially and unofficially.  She once mentioned to me her program of no box thinking and it stuck in my head.  When i am lucky enough to have her to myself for a few hours, i find her inspirational.  i never leave from time with her without a spark alight in my mind and the ideas and energy just flows from there. we may not even have been talking about the project i become motivated to do.; but I am always more alive and more motivated after some time with her…  you can find her here... or here…

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com



Taking a breather…

10 May

You can’t beat a few moments of mindfulness at the end of a busy day

Life as a semi retired  (!) rural B&B owner, DIYer, gardener, decorator, car mechanic, and family diplomat can be pretty exhausting; but it’s all worthwhile when you can live somewhere like this and at the end of a long day, flop into a sunlounger with a pint of beer, a clear blue sky and the sounds of lambs and birds….

This hubby deserves his precious moments….

There’s nothing quite like this at the end of a long day


Sickness, Stress and Self-doubt… And Then There’s Me….

19 Apr

I was invited by Stigma Fighters to write my essay…..
…i though I couldn’t..
…but once I started I couldn’t not..

I hope it will not phase you if you know me; or upset you, if you love me.  I hope it will give you strength.  I hope if you struggle at times you will realise we all do to different degrees and the ‘curtains’ we open to the outside are not always representative of all the ‘rooms in our home’. Life is multi-faceted and challenging to all of us at times… even those who might give the impression that it is easy…

so here it is… from head to e-paper..
Sickness, Stress and Self-doubt… And Then There’s Me….

Tangerine Dreams…

27 Jul
Based on APOD images of Whirlpool Gallaxies - this stained glass window panel was produced for our bathroom as an alternative to obscured glass

Based on APOD images of Whirlpool galaxies – this stained glass window panel was produced for our bathroom as an alternative to obscured glass

Tangerine Dream - Acrylic on Canvas

Tangerine Dream – Acrylic on Canvas

when you stand in our bathroom at night with its curved black ceiling speckled with hundred of fibre optic pinpoints of light; and look down into the shiny black floor tiles, you get the wonderful sensation of floating in space and a weightlessness and clarity from the silence and the sense of infinity all around.

"As we look out from our World the Universe looks back" - acrylic on wood based on the Helix Nebula, a great 'Cosmic Eye' 700 light years away in Aquarius

“As we look out from our World the Universe looks back” – acrylic on wood based on the Helix Nebula, a great ‘Cosmic Eye’ 700 light years away in Aquarius

I imagine for a brief moment the ever-expanding universe with its countless galaxies and unfathomable numbers of stars and planets.

"THere is Beauty All Around; We Simply Have To Open Our Minds To See" - based on the grat nebular in Orion

“There is Beauty All Around; We Simply Have To Open Our Minds To See” – based on the grat nebular in Orion

Then take an introspective look at our small life on our speck  in the infinitely varied and technicoloured, ever-changing, ever evolving universe; and find peace.

This moment in time, the one in which man occupies a little blue and green ball of rock is but a breath in the universal expanse.

"We Shall Never Tame Nature; It Will Not Surrender To Us" - acrylic on wood - A hurricane over the Earth

“We Shall Never Tame Nature; It Will Not Surrender To Us” – acrylic on wood – A hurricane over the Earth

We should cram it full of friendship and joy, it is too short a moment to squander.  After we are gone – I wonder what magic will fill the tiny void our absence will create.

"When Considering the Universe, We ARE But a Speck of Dust" - acrylic on wood based on APOD image by Adam Black of a spiral gallaxy 300 Million light years away in Andromeda

“When Considering the Universe, We ARE But a Speck of Dust” – acrylic on wood based on APOD image by Adam Black of a spiral galaxy 300 Million light years away in Andromeda


feeling a tad anxious?….

7 Dec

It’s funny how anxiety creeps up on me. I never, ever notice it coming and never ever recognise the pattern and when it arrives I feel stupid.  The stupidity comes from not seeing the obvious, of confidently denying and misinterpreting the early signs.

I’ve been ‘off sorts’ for some months.  I put it down initially to being overweight and, as such, breathless.  Then I became plagued with an over itchy scalp, and increased wheeziness.  Alongside this I did actually discover I had an ear infection and needed something to cure some cold-like symptoms .  I think I was coughing for about 6 weeks before I went to the doctors – remember the ‘Is it Urgent’ blog?

When I finally went to see the doc I had gathered a fair portfolio of minor ailments and symptoms  and felt like a bit of a hypochondriac. John went with me  and I came away with the bumper party pack of drugs/creams/lotions/sprays etc.

It was John who made me aware of how heavily I breathe and since, I have become completely obsessed and self-conscious about it.  IT IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT – I’ve had all the blood tests, oxygen tests and chest x-rays.  It seems that over time – probably since a couple of years ago when I had that bout of panic attacks, I’ve forgotten how to breathe properly.  You’d think breathing would be more straightforward than riding the proverbial bike.  Apparently not. Anyway I am off to see a respiratory specialist very soon.

Alongside this set of minor ailments, I (thought) on the whole I was happy (which I am) and stress free (which I am).  However having no stress does not mean that one does not necessarily cease to be anxious. And because its crept up on me I hadn’t picked up on the signs.  Hence the feeling stupid.  I’ve been through this cycle before, many times.  I can only liken it to  like having a slow puncture, I’ve gradually deflated and didn’t notice the soft sponginess until I skidded off the path on a slight bendas I could no longer grip the track.

I can’t quite identify the bend that caused me to waiver off the road.  I think its been coming ever since last Christmas when I closed In the Pink.  The lack of self discipline to create a routine of home working.   The sense of loss, that I was barely aware of.  I can react just fine to the demands of B&B and thrive on the busy periods.  Given any task by anyone else I can meet or exceed the expectations.  My work ethic is not marred.  Getting into an ‘office mode’ regarding glass work, painting and the marketing thereof, however, has left me flailing and a pathetic and positively lazy, lack lustre and possibly (without even noticing), ever so slightly depressed, ever so slightly panicky and ever so slightly lost.

Also somewhat isolated although I was under the impression (genuinely) that I was enjoying being out of the loop, away from the thick of it and the local politics.  Hiding away out of the fray here at C.V.  I wonder now if I have also become a little agoraphobic?  Certainly there are days when nothing will persuade me to leave the house  and sometimes I just feel SO TIRED.

Anyway, until about three days ago I was oblivious to all of these signs.  Then on Tuesday whilst out merrily doing the weekly shop, my heart started palpitating, my breath became more sharp and urgent, my chest tightened.  I sat in the car for a while concentrating on relaxing and breathing wondering if I was having a heart problem or a panic attack, wondering if I was being a hypochondriac.  When it subsided I did the shopping and came home.  Wednesday I was fine again.  Thursday I slept most of the day.  Friday, I spent the day convinced it was Thursday!!! Self employment – all the days are the same.

Despite thinking it was Thursday I had a lovely, productive day, painting a commission promised as a Christmas gift, and its going well.   John reminds me we were out for the evening.  It would be a great evening,  no pretenses, great friends, easy conversation, good food, free flowing home brew.  I’d been looking forward to it for weeks.  The first party of the holiday season with all my favourite people.

But then it hit, I could not possibly leave the house, I needed an excuse so I wouldn’t appear pathetic.   I was feeling very anxious.   I should go, it would be great if I could just get there.  I couldn’t get there.  I sent an email telling the truth, too embarrassed to phone. My lovely friend sent a lovely persuasive reply.”We should go” I said to john , “look how lovely and sympathetic and understanding our friends are”.  But I could not go.  Palpitations, anxiety, guilt, embarrassment.

Funny thing is life is pretty good.  I’m not particularly , or excessively, worried about anything.  Our son is coping despite school!  He is excelling in his exams, enjoying his music, has a great group of friends.  There have been a few moments of teenage angst moments but not many. The B&B has been healthy, all guests happy, regular business,repeat and new customers,excellent reviews.  I so enjoy having B&B guests in the house..

I’ve also been enjoying exhibiting and selling at a few Christmas Craft Fairs.  I should have made more and done more, I’ve had loads of time but much less energy and drive.  The few commission pieces I’ve done have been really successful.

I think I feel like this every December,  like time is racing ahead of me, that I am spinning a little out of control and Christmas Day will arrive and I won’t have remembered to shop for it or wrap things.  I would have run out of days to get a tree up.  Or not yet have decided whether to buy turkey, lamb or ham for Christmas lunch.  Or run out of postal days to send mum and dad their gifts, or John’s Aunties their cards.  Or that Dad’s birthday is on Christmas Eve.   Its madness, because I love choosing gifts, being amongst friends, decorating the tree, preparing a special meal.  So the annual anxiety about it creeping up on me makes no sense at all.

So what is it?  Is it a mild case of Anxiety Disorder? I think so.  And here is my action plan:-

1.Get a job to give my days purpose and structure

2 Make sure that job is local, interesting and not in middle management

3.learn to breathe from my diaphragm

4. get out in the fresh air

5.go to yoga or tai chi

6.practice regular mindfulness exercises

7.try not to feel a fool for missing the signs (again!)

I’ve written this for several reasons but definitely not to illicit sympathy (because that will be really embarrassing).  I also don’t want any of my family or friends to be concerned.  Its who I am and generally I manage it well these days.

I’ve written it firstly to try and clarify in my own head the journey of my slow puncture. Secondly, I’ve written it because I suspect a lot of people have moments like mine to lesser and greater extents and that I’m not totally weird and alone in feeling this way!   Thirdly, in the hope that those who do feel this way  on occasion to those lesser or greater degrees will find comfort in the knowledge that they too are not weird (or alone)!

I hope this helps someone feel a little more normal on an occasion where they might be slipping out of control.

I also hope that my wonderful and gorgeous friends whose company I missed out on the pleasure of this evening will not feel either affronted, nor concerned.  Its one of those things, part of who I am, and sometimes I just need to accept “me” and stop over analysing myself.

Love, peace, inner happiness and joy to you all from your ever-so- slightly-unique; ever-so-slightly-out-of-control; pink haired; chaotic; hippy-chick friend x

Too many hats?………..

4 Sep

There have been (too many) times in my life when I have taken to wearing too many different hats at any one time.  The results have not been pretty.

Of course I refer to more than bad fashion sense – although there have been many such episodes in that category too.  I refer to those times where I’ve forgotten to respect my own body and mind, demanded too much from myself and been ungrateful at the reality of what my mind and body could realistically deliver.  During those times I have perceived myself as weak or failing but in my more lucid (!) moments, like now, I can clearly see that the demands I put on myself far out way those I would expect from anyone else.

Who made me Wonder Woman?  I have neither the figure nor costume to pull it off!

When I look back though I also realise that those periods where I have overstretched myself haven’t always or consciously been for fear of appearing weak or of letting people down.  They have often been because all the opportunities presented to me have simply been just too damned interesting to say ‘no’ to.

Take for example organising and running the annual Real Ale Wobble here in Llanwrtyd when it takes place over our busiest weekend of the year. Or giving up paid employment to set up constituted group to run a TIC and starting my own shop so I could be there to man the TIC.  Or agreeing to work part time for my old employer in Pontypridd whilst running the TIC, and the B&B.  Or standing for County Councillor; or campaigning for fair representation.  I could go on – there are so many opportunities, activities, initiatives and adventures to be had.

I’m sure the last time won’t end up being THE LAST TIME i overstretch myself and have my finger in too many tasty pies at the same time.  I’m greedy , what can i say!

I do however hope and believe that each time I put myself in that position I have become more adept at recognising my predicament and managing it – not by myself but as part of a team with my wonderful partner, John, my son Jason and a deliciously tasty selection bucket full of great friends

9th nov 1997 shortly after 5:13am!!!

9th Nov 1997 shortly after 5:13am!!!

When I had Jason I wanted to be a great mum and a great employee/career woman.  I feel sure now that I managed  a pretty reasonable job of both.  However there were many times where I felt I was failing at both – leaving and missing moments with my son so I could work, missing work cos my son was sick or i couldn’t get childcare. Part time work is a real misnomer – basically you get paid for less hours and do more work.  I had a 3 day a week contract but because my clients, colleagues and customers worked full time or different shift i would find myself working from home whilst on my off days – all the time.  Its a juggling exercise I’m sure many women and those single dads out there are very familiar with.  There is nowhere in any of the child raising manuals or in the preparation by midwives, antenatal specialists etc that warns you that born of childbirth is also a lifetime of guilt:  am I doing too much/not enough; being to relaxed/too strict,; will my own personality weaknesses and hangups negatively effect my child; if I work will he/she realise the value of self reliance or hate me for not being there?  Its a no win.

Until that is, assuming you are very lucky , you can come to the realisation that as long as you can say honestly ‘what I did I did with the best intention’.  You have to really believe it AND you have to be gracious enough to yourself to realise that that is the only and best expectation and result you can expect from yourself, or, for that matter, from anyone else.

Be good to yourself, be real, be free.

…and here’s some photos of me in hats (tenuous link I know!)

Black & White party - as Cruella De Ville - jhat made from a bamboo steamer, cereal packet and faux fur

Black & White party – as Cruella De Ville – jhat made from a bamboo steamer, cereal packet and faux fur

Julie and Neils Wedding -Rayleigh Methodist Church

Julie and Neils Wedding -Rayleigh Methodist Church

I must be 15 or 16 here - in my Boy george phase - luckily it was short lived

I must be 15 or 16 here – in my Boy George phase – luckily it was short lived

1995 At john's flat in St Vincent Road 60's - 80's party - note the Lichenstein on the wall

1995 At john’s flat in St Vincent Road 60’s – 80’s party – note the Lichenstein on the wall – all clothes were in the wardrobe – wig not real hair!

Sam's hen party - hippy chicks

Sam’s hen party – hippy chicks – outfit hired

me as Lady Lily Pink -Loony Party Music Fest Llanwrtyd Wells

me as Lady Lily Pink -Loony Party Music Fest Llanwrtyd Wells. Hat bought on line, dreadlocks from a vintage clothes shop in Southend

Steam punk - homemade hat from corrugated card and some odds and sods

Steam punk – homemade hat from corrugated card and some odds and sods