Life has been hard lately. People I love are going through really difficult times. It is sometimes a challenge to keep remembering that things will change and that life won’t always be that way for them, or for me. When life’s inevitable suffering seems stronger than usual, it can seem impossible to relax and enjoy anything; especially when there is a lot to do.
Today I am reminded that life is beautiful and precious. A change of scenery has challenged my slightly jaded outlook. I am staying temporarily (not for long) in a flat on Eastbourne seafront. It’s such a beautiful flat. And it has a bath! I do miss having baths. The view from the window is amazing and I walk out of the door straight onto the seafront.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my caravan. It is home. It has enabled me to change my life – at least for a little while. And I am missing my daughters, my dog and my cats. It is quite strange to be completely on my own. But it is lovely to just be. It is so pleasant to be able to leave the car and just walk to places (even though finding a place to park it in the first place was a bit fraught!). Sitting here I can hear the sea and the church bells.
I know that I am particularly jittery and unsettled at the moment. I find it difficult just to sit and reflect; meditation is nigh on impossible. But I am hoping that this couple of weeks (with a few days of visiting family in the middle) will help to calm me.
Last night on the way to and from Dharma Study I walked along the seafront listening to music. It was lovely. I must do more of that.
Too many of us sit in front of the TV on a Sunday evening filled with a slight sense of dread for the Monday morning to come. You only have to look at the memes on Facebook – “SMONDAY – When Sunday stops feeling like Sunday and the anxiety of Monday washes over you“; “Goodbye weekend, I am going to miss you“; pictures of sad kittens mourning the presence of Sunday evening. It gets to the point where we ruin what could be a lovely evening worrying about what may or may not happen the next day. Or we are regretting the fact that we have got up late and have “wasted” a lot of the day. We don’t live in the present moment. We regret the past and are anxious about the future. Added to that is the sad reality that far too many of us are doing jobs that we do not enjoy; jobs that make us yearn for the weekend; jobs that see us struggling to Wednesday’s hump day then wind down to the next weekend. At what point do we actually enjoy our lives?
It might be too big a dream to think that we can all do work that we love that earns us enough money to live. And many of us who dislike the thought of Monday mornings are perfectly okay once the week starts; the job isn’t actually that bad.
I have only three of these Sundays left including this one. Even so, I don’t want to waste the time feeling anxious about tomorrow. I want to be happy, to enjoy my life. I am having a calm, peaceful weekend catching up on sleep, doing some chores, seeing friends, reading and spending time with one of my daughters. The weekend isn’t over yet.
Of course, there is a lot more that could be written about changing our jobs, living lives that do not demand the well-paying jobs that we think we need to live. But even if we change nothing else – we could, at the very least, try to concentrate our heart and mind on what is happening now.
I must admit that it is tempting just to keep counting down the few weeks until I leave work. But I am trying not to. I am striving to live in the present moment, see the beauty in my life, count my blessings and to stay calm when my natural inclination is to be irritated or annoyed.
Apart from the aches and pain (which I think about, speak about and worry about far too often) my life is so good at the moment. I spend a lot of time with my daughter, with friends, with my dog and cats… This evening was lovely – I spent it with a lovely woman who is so kind, relaxed and inspirational. Tomorrow I will be at Brighton Buddhist Centre celebrating Wesak with some very good friends. And today I reconnected with someone so precious who I thought was lost. Friendship is so very important to me.
So I will ignore the aches and pains. I will ignore the fact that my outdoor lights don’t seem to be working (sob) and I will even stay calm as my two fat ginger cats meow and pester me for food.
I love my caravan. I love my daughters, my friends, my pets. In six weeks my life will be different; I am so looking forward to the challenge of new routines, home schooling and getting some part time work. I look forward to the freedom, the opportunities to travel, the time to read, the time to “just be”.
All is good. I need to stay calm and present. I need to rejoice in my life. I need to continue on my Buddhist path; continue to become “more Tee”.
I am sitting outside on my decking thinking “how lucky am I?” I’m wrapped in a blanket because it’s still not warm and summer like yet. I am sitting in a comfortable chair with my feet propped up on a table. I am surrounded by trees and clear sky. My newly purchased statue of the Buddha is sitting in the corner looking beautiful and serene.
And today has been lovely. Took my two gorgeous girls shopping and for lunch at Bills. They are such lovely, caring girls. Great fun to be with too. A good day.
And I get to live in this lovely place. I am lucky enough to have been able to change things so I can give up the job that no longer feels as important as it did. I get to be able to afford to work part time and homeschool one of my daughters. In just a few weeks time my life will be changing.
So I am enjoying this very moment. Savouring every second. Life can entail suffering and it can throw the most horrific curve balls. But life can also be good.
Live in the present. Take what is good about life and savour it. Enjoy it. Appreciate it.
Sitting on a bench on Hastings seafront. I have just parked in Priory Meadow – multi storeys are always fun / interesting / fraught with the dangerous possibilities of scraped paintwork. Much better with my new small cute car though. Walked through the modern centre then through the Old Town with its fascinating shops, bars and cafes
Sitting here – there are children playing in the playground, families playing mini golf. Walkers, dogs. Joggers.
It’s a bit chilly – it’s not the sunshine and heat of last weekend. My whole body hurts (inflamed joints – the doctor is on the case trying to find out the cause) and I am having to walk very slowly. My bag feels very heavy. But it’s lovely just to have the time and the space to explore my new town a little.
I have just passed a Vegan Cafe with a very friendly, welcoming sign…. I will have to go there sometime soon.
I am becoming better at living in the moment: appreciating what I am doing. Moments like this make me realise how lucky I am. I never really enjoyed living in the South East – I was always planning my escape. Always too busy feeling sorry for myself and looking at the negative. The last 18 months have been very stressful and unhappy. But now, my life is stabilising. Not everything is perfect – some things are far from perfect – but I can see and feel the joy again. I can truly and sincerely say that I love being here, in Hastings and St Leonard’s. It’s where I should be at this moment, for this time.
I had such a lovely day yesterday. Going into Brighton with my girls – was so wonderful to see them laugh and smile. I saw their pictures of their afternoon later – they had much needed fun. They went off to do their own thing whilst I met up with a friend.
My friend – a new friend. I hope that I will continue to get to know her and that she will be in my life for a long long while. A warm, beautiful, courageous, intelligent woman. She makes me think. She makes me laugh. I can’t imagine ever being bored in her company.
Then just a simple evening – Chinese and a film with two people with whom I feel so comfortable. Two women who I have known for ages – both with their own problems but still they care. Still they laugh. Still they continue to move forward.
Bohemian Rhapsody brought back so many memories of my teens and twenties. I remembered the deep depressing so frightening emergence of aids. The homophobia. But I also remembered the joy that Queen brought to so many people’s lives. Live Aid – never to be forgotten.
And last but definitely not least. My Dad had a consultant’s appointment yesterday. My brother went with him. After the scare he gave us ( a few days to live) all looks just a bit more hopeful. We never know what will happen but it looks like he has got more time. More time just to relax and just be with my Mum without the responsibility of being her 24 hour carer.
Sometimes I feel a big urge to write but have no subject!! Nothing comes to mind but I feel like writing. Most of the time I resist this strange compulsion but have decided to go with it this time.
I must admit to feeling a little sad this morning. I think I am losing someone I love and care for. I can feel the connection slipping away. But today, I’m not going to write about what is going wrong. It gets boring to write about and must be tedious to read. I haven’t many of you reading this blog – I can’t afford to bore you!
So what is going right? Some people – clever, sensible, mindful people – make lists of 3 / 5 things that they are grateful for every day. Or, they list what went well. Doing this every day helps to rewire the brain – what you think you become.
So today – 5 positives in no particular order.
Beautiful skies on this morning’s walk
Pretzel has a friend – Harley- who we see every morning. His owner and I are making plans for them to play together – play date !!!
Lovely Buddhist meeting last night. Met a young woman from Switzerland who is just visiting Eastbourne for a couple of days. She had such terrific energy and kindness. She found out about the meeting and decided to come along despite the fact that it would only be the once. Really inspiring.
Looking forward to my first retreat at the weekend
My parents are together, safe and cared for.
As I was writing the 5, I realised that I have more… There are so many positives. And that friendship I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Relationships / friendships ebb and flow. Who knows what will happen? I just have to be open to the possibilities.
So I had a down patch over the weekend. It didn’t last long. See previous post for details of my self inflicted angst. And yesterday I felt good and today I feel the same. Part of that is the realisation that my future is not preordained; my future does not have to be boring and pedantic. I can do things – have adventures. And now is not awful. Now is tough in many ways but it is not awful. Lots of now is good and positive.
So I have been following Instagram accounts showing camper van conversions and travel. I have stalked hikers/photographers who post pictures of mountains and beaches – beauty. I have read Ben Fogle’s book on climbing Everest (- few posts ago – and no I won’t be climbing Everest in this lifetime, maybe the next lol). And I am currently reading a book by an amazing woman Anna McNuff running her way across New Zealand… No I will not be doing that either! I am thinking camper van, New Zealand. I am thinking wild camping and hiking. I am thinking of travelling to the places where I have always wanted to go. For the first time in many years I can see that life can be fun again.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my life with my daughters. They are lovely human beings and my relationship with them is slowly changing as they grow into these amazing young women. I love my dog, my cats. My house is comfortable and warm . I still have vivid memories of the joy of walking into it on the day I moved in. I have amazing friends who I love seeing for game evenings and cups of tea. i have my Buddhist group and the people there who have very quickly become very important to me. But I couldn’t see past this life. I couldn’t see past the day when my girls left to start their adventures. I thought that this is it! Me alone sitting in this house, working with data for the rest of my life. A very sad and pathetic picture! I just couldn’t see a way out. I felt trapped. I escaped from the cage for a little while last year when I had a period of time in which I had a plan, a journey. It was going to be glorious – but that wasn’t to be. (Note to self – don’t put my key to happiness in someone else’s pocket.)
Now I am allowing myself to enjoy my life as it is currently. Buddhist meetings and Dharma study. Pretzel walks. My girls. JD and Smirnoff cuddles. Seeing friends. And on selling my house my immediate future will be fun and challenging – I am imagining walking, photography and camping. And into the future more adventure and maybe do that PhD that I always wanted to do (did a year but had to stop cos of an extremely bad back – another story ). I am imagining time to read, study, learn more about and practice Buddhism skillfully.
It might seem as if I have huge mood swings constantly flying from sadness and depression up to happiness and excitement for the future. I guess that, in some ways, this has been true of me in the past. I don’t mean the extreme mood swings that some people get because of mental illness etc but there has often been noticeable shifts. I felt like I was on a roller coaster which I allowed to take me on great highs and then the lows. Now I try to keep my mood more stable, more positive. I appreciate the good times but try not to be too sad when they are over. I have recognised that my mood is more affected by my thoughts and reactions to my emotions than to outside influences / events. I now see that nothing is permanent so I try to enjoy and relish the good times and, when bad things happen, remember that all is impermanent. “This too shall pass“.
Last night I went to my Dharma Training Study Group where we were discussing the mythology around the life of Buddha. We looked at the story of Mara and his demons throwing stones, arrows and flames at the Buddha. But as they reached his aura of light they all turned into flowers and fell. The Buddha remained unmoved by the attack. One of the women at the group – a truly wise and spiritual woman – likened these stones, arrows and flames to our negative thoughts, people’s opinions and words of discouragement, less than positive outside influences. We have to learn to let them turn to flowers and fall before they have a chance to invade our peace.
Obviously I have not perfected this way of living, of being yet. Silly things still get me down and make me miserable or angry (or both). But I keep trying and, as a I try, I succeed more often.
I do recommend that you read the book by Anna McNuff. It’s one of the prime reading books on Amazon Prime
I feel as if my life is on hold. I am in a curious state of limbo. So much hinges on the sale of my house. It seems as if every plan, every dream, every solution to immediate problems rest on this sale. My natural lack of patience is not helping this situation at all. I am trying to be patient. I am striving to make the most of this time – to live in the present moment; not to hanker too much for the future. But I do find this very difficult.
It has been a strange sort of a week. It has been a mixture of highs and lows. I have found myself thinking a lot of the future and trying to bring myself back to this moment. I have been reminding myself that the sale of this house will not fix all of my problems – in the end I will still be me. On my walks I have been listening to podcasts rather than music in a effort to prevent any day dreaming – Fearne Cotton, Bryony Gordon, Russell Brand and one from the Buddhist Centre. I have been very busy at work with lots of meetings, emails to respond to and data to crunch, reports to write. So daydreaming could be kept at bay.
This week has been a week for friendship as well. At my Buddhist meeting this week there was a lot of emphasis and discussion on the importance of friendship. I know this to be true. Over the last few weeks, months many of my friendships have been tested as I have changed. Some friendships have become stronger and closer; others I can feel are drifting away. There are a couple of people who I haven’t seen for a while but I know that the friendship is not in doubt. And something lovely this week – spending time with a very special friend who I see far too little. But I have also had to question what I will accept in a friendship… point out to someone that I deserve respect and care; not to be taken for granted. Friendship is a two way process – and far too often I have found myself doing all of the work, making all of the effort all of the time.
So I continue to walk along my path. My route has felt a little dangerous lately. I have had to keep close to the rock face so as not to feel faint and fall over the edge – it felt as if there was a long way to fall. There have been obstacles to navigate, to walk round or scramble over. At one point I had to jump over a deep hole in the road.
Overall though life is good. I am happier, content. I have a journey, a plan which excites me even as it scares me. I just have to stay patient and focused.