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Taking Stock : October

I have been meaning to do a “Taking Stock” list for ages.  Pip Lincolne posts them on her lovely blog Meet Me at Mike’s and they always inspire me to do the same.  But I have yet to do it.  So here goes…..

Cooking : Curries – I am trying to make a decent one.  I have a delightful library volunteer (she’s Indian) who brings me equally delightful meals and I am pretty sure she uses some kind of witchcraft on them because they are SO GOOD.

Drinking : Yorkshire Tea.  I always drink tea but am finding I need an extra strong brew these days, so Yorkshire Tea it is.  That, or I dunk two regular teabags in my cup. And then walk away, forget about it, and come back to a cup of tea that is so strong the spoon stands up in it.

Listening to: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John Seriously – two of my fave artists combined?  Hello!?  Awesomeness. Have you never been mellow, indeed.

Reading: The Little Paris Bookshop  It’s a lovely story about a floating bookshop in Paris and the owner who “possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers”.

Next read: Haven’t made my mid up yet, because I have SO MANY books to read at home.  But I think I will tackle The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

Making: Lots of collages.  Which, in turn, means I am making lots of mess.

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Wanting: An electric drill.  It is time I made the commitment to proper DIY projects and got myself some power tools.  It will probably end in disaster, let’s face it.

Looking: For old drawers.  Of the furniture / storage variety.  I don’t mean knickers.  I want to make some groovy storage / shelving thingies from them.  Have a look at some of the ideas HERE

Deciding: On what to do with my life.  This is a recurring theme for me.  But I feel very anxious about it all.  I am thinking about going to a career counsellor.  I can’t work out if they are a load of nonsense or actually quite a good idea.

Wishing: For world peace, obviously.  But also a Lotto win, a flatter stomach, reliable hair and comfortable (yet fabulous) shoes.  Mostly the Lotto win – I really need that.

Enjoying: Strawberries.  We’re in the midst of a bit of strawberry scare at the moment in Australia (some fool has been putting needles in them as some sort of disgruntled-ex-employee protest) but I have been bravely soldiering on and enjoying these luscious little bites of sweetness.  They are so tasty right now.  I could eat a whole punnet in one sitting.

Waiting: For Spring to really kick in.  We’ve had some lovely sunny days, but they’ve been interspersed with very rainy, cold, miserable, ugh kind of days that make me ache and want to hide under a blanket.

Loving: A new discovery, The Rustic Gallery  Full of lovely old and not-so-old STUFF.  Rusty yumminess – everything from furniture to homewares, garden pieces, hardware, tools etc.  Beautifully set out, really well organised and very reasonably priced.  There are treasures around every corner.  You must visit!

Considering: Joining a gym.  It’s a ridiculously scary idea for me.  My physio wants me to start strengthening up and is encouraging me to go to the gym to work on this.  It is freaking me out.  I am not a gym person.  If I could work out in the dark, with no one else around, I would be ok.

Buying: DIY stuff.  Spray paint and house paint and staple guns (!) and all manner of handyman-esque items.  Injury is imminent.

Watching: That should read “binge-watching”.  Because I am overdosing on episodes of Lee Mack’s hilarious sitcom Not Going Out.  I admit to loving him just a little bit.  I have several years of the show to catch up on so it’s nightly viewing for me at the moment.  I’m also watching Jamie Ray Vintage on Youtube.  Her videos make me want to paint and upcycle everything in sight.

Cringing: At my thighs.  Sigh.  I don’t know how they happened.  And also at Donald Trump.  I don’t know how he happened either.

Needing: A hug.  I am not a touchy-feely person and everyone who knows me knows I am not a hugger, so when I say I need a hug, things must be getting tricky.

Smelling: The last remnants of my favourite perfume from Somethin Special.  It’s called Butt Naked.  Which is a horrible name that I am embarrassed to tell people about, but it smells like heaven on a stick.  I must order some more directly.

Wearing: Trousers and jeans.  Ugh, I hate them.  But I have put on weight and none of my skirts fit right now so I have to wear pants.  Many of them with elastic waists.  Which make me cry and want to hide in a cave somewhere.

Worrying: About the future.  A LOT.  Everything seems so unstable and scary, both personally and around the world in general.  I don’t remember there being a time like this, where nothing makes sense and everything seems crazy and upsetting.  The wrong people are in power and it frightens me.  We seem to be evolving backwards.

Knowing: I need a haircut.  Every day I have the same conversation with myself about booking an appointment, but do I do anything about it?  No.  I do not.  I am starting to look like a bedraggled yeti.

Thinking: Way too much.  How do you switch your brain off?  I am attending a Mindfulness workshop next week to see if I can learn to be more “in the moment” and all that stuff.  Most of my health issues are connected to my inability to relax, both physically and mentally so I have to try and do something about it.  Fingers crossed! (and then uncrossed…and relaxed…) 🙂

Sorting: Lots of sorting!  I have just gone through three ENORMOUS boxes of paperwork and shredded/sorted/filed it.  It’s a job I had been meaning to do for YEARS.  Like, why did I have receipts from car repairs I had done 15 years ago?  Why???  I am culling books and clothes and STUFF as well.  Just trying to get in some sort of order.

Getting: Into meditation and mindfulness.  I am trying so hard to calm my mind and stop being so anxious, panicky and sad (usually all at the same time).  I have bought a new little CD player, so I can do some guided meditation at night before bed and I am trying really hard to stay mindful and BREATHE during the day.  It’s not easy.  But at least I am trying.

Coveting: Phil Collins tickets.  I tried to book tickets (the crappiest, cheapest seats I could get) and they had all sold out within minutes.  The next class of tickets was too rich for my blood so I had to bow out.  So sad. *cries*

Disliking: The way people behave on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.  Who are these people who like to troll and abuse folks they don’t even know?

Feeling: Tired.  Tired.  Tired.  And middle-aged.  That one crept up on me…

Admiring: My dear friend for packing up her unsatisfying life and moving on to bigger and better things in a faraway location where she will know no one and have to fend for herself in an isolated location.  She is so much braver than me.  But I will miss her 😦

Snacking: Way too much.  I recently made these three-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies and it wasn’t so much snacking as a cram-them-all-in-my-gob-at-once kinda scenario. They. Are. Delicious.

Giggling: At the antics of my temporary lodger, Ella the guinea pig.  She’s my niece’s little piggy and she’s adorable.  I am looking after her while her “people” are away.  She never stops eating.  I believe we are kindred spirits.

 

So, that’s my October.  What are your plans?  Are you looking forward to Spring cleaning, Halloween and the start of Christmas shopping?  Or is October just another month to you – one that flies by like the rest of them?  Whatever you are doing, I hope your month is creative and happy.

Thanks for dropping in x

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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Quietest and Most Constant (Collage)

Another day, another collage!  I actually made this one a few weeks ago but forgot to post it.  I really like the sentiment – books are constant friends and, for me, a house without books is just not a home.  Of course, being a librarian, I am surrounded by books all the time, so it is hard to imagine a life without them.  My house would probably be a lot less crowded though…but that’s another story!

The bird-lady in my collage has a lovely dress (from a Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone book of prayers) and her head is from a vintage book of bird illustrations.  She’s a Eurasian Hoopoe.  And she’s pretty fabulous with her freaky-deaky feathers.  You can read more about Hoopoes HERE.  They’re quite delightful.

The quote is from Charles William Eliot

Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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