Simple pleasures


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.



Wesak Day

Well I managed to get out of bed – as usual it wasn’t elegant and there was some under my breath swearing! But I did it and managed to take Pretzel a quick walk, have coffee, breakfast and leave. Now sitting on the Brighton train. Hoping that I will meet up with friends at Eastbourne. I haven’t been to the Brighton Buddhist Centre before and it is always easier to go for the first time with friends.

Now back home after a lovely day. I met up with my friends. And we talked all of the way to Brighton. The Brighton Centre is lovely. So calm. So serene. THREE shrine rooms! THREE! I still prefer our Eastbourne “pop up” centre though. The Eastbourne Sangha is small and intimate. We know and care for each other.

It was a fabulous day. Meditation, Puja, talks, story telling, two Mitra ceremonies, a shared lunch. Perfect. And back to a common theme. FRIENDSHIP. I had a long chat with a friend I hadn’t really talked to for a while. I chatted with friends. Reacquainted myself with people I have met before. Met new people. There is one friend who I love deeply. He was there. He is a true spiritual friend. It’s not a romantic or sexual relationship. It’s not a physical thing at all. But we hug. We connect. It is a truly beautiful friendship. I have a deep love for this man.

I love my Buddhist friends. I love my Buddhist life. I had some lovely deep conversations. I felt that I was part of something. I felt that I mattered.

Live in the present moment

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.

Bohemian Rhapsody, Brighton and more

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.

A good day.

“You have the direction… now to find the steps”


I have found myself in a state of confusion over the past few days.  Not able to reconcile the need to accept the suffering and even the death of a loved one with equanimity with the need not to become cold and unfeeling.  With the need to show others that I do care, I do love whilst still remaining calm and present.

Because of all of the stuff that has been going on, I have been reading and reflecting a lot on how to keep calm, live in the present moment and how to keep sailing a smooth path through loud, swirling winds.  As you can see from my last post, I have read Tolle’s “Power of Now”.  I have also had “Sailing the Worldly Winds” by Vajragupta recommended to me so I am reading that.  I have been bringing to mind the impermanence of everything including life; I have pondered on Dukkha – the general unsatisfactoriness of life.  Somehow I am standing in the middle of it all keeping calm (mostly) and letting things take their course.

But ….  But how do I do this and not turn back to the person I used to be?  How do I manage to keep in the present moment responding rather than reacting to my emotions without returning to the person who used to hide her emotions behind very strong walls?  How do I work my way through the seeming paradox of reacting skillfully, remembering that everything has an ending and caring deeply? How can I be present for those I love in their suffering and not appear to be disinterested and cold?  How do I continue to “become more Tee”?  How do I find this path?  What am I looking for?  A friend said that I “have the direction, now to find the steps”.

Yesterday evening, I went to my Buddhist Meeting as usual.  Every time I attend a Sangha meeting or meet up with friends from the Sangha I am struck by their calm, their sense of peace and the loving kindness / metta which flows from them.  As we meditated, talked over tea and listened to the talks, I realised that metta is the key to this seeming paradox.  I have not yet worked how but know that I am on the right path, taking the correct steps.   This may well be obvious to everyone else – I may just be very slow on the uptake!

I know that I need to reflect more on this.  I definitely need and intend to practise the Metta Bhavana Meditation.  In this practice we cultivate loving kindness beginning with ourselves and eventually spreading it out to all sentient beings.

“The teachings on love by the Buddha are clear, scientific and applicable… Love, compassion, joy and equanimity are the very nature of an enlightened person.  They are the four aspects of true love within ourselves and within everyone and everything”

Thich Nhat Hanh

I am not sure about this post…  I feel that I have not adequately explained what I feel and the dilemma I face.  I am not sure that I have described my small glimmer of light very well.  But I am going to post this anyway.  Things are not always straightforward.  Some things need to be pondered upon and thought through for a while so that they become less twisted and tangled.  In the writing and reflecting I will take a step or two forward.  I am sure that I will come to these reflections.

Looking forward to 2019

Goodbye 2018 / Welcome 2019

I tend to avoid New Year’s Eve parties.  I have never really enjoyed them.  But I see the point of them – saying goodbye to the year that is past and welcoming in the New Year.   Some people don’t like the divide between one year and the next; they see it as a false construct or as a sign that another year has gone and that they are nearer death.   Some see the making of New Year’s resolutions as pointless or as just being something else to worry about.

I have always looked back at the year that has passed and I do make resolutions for the year to come.  I think it is a useful construct especially this year.  It is the opportunity to look at where I am on my journey and consider what I can do better/ differently to travel in the right direction, enjoy the walk, take pleasure in the scenery.  At the same time I am looking at where I am now… there is a lot of happiness in my life and there is sadness.  I need to live in the present – to appreciate the now but in my “now” I can do things which will help my future and aid my happiness.

I have been listening to Tony Robbins podcast with Russell Brand this morning.  They were discussing “Recovery” which I have written about before.  It has been good to refresh my memory and increase my understanding of the Russell’s interpretation of the 12 steps.  One of the most useful ideas is the view that addictions can be anything – any behaviour that I really want to stop, that I feel uncomfortable about doing but somehow keep on with.  This is alcohol but is also attachment to social media, TV, a particular person.  Working through the 12 steps can help with these and any addictions.

Russell and Tony ascribe to the idea that we are entitled to be happy.  We have to look at what we believe happiness to be though. True happiness is not short term pleasure – that is fleeting; impermanent.  According to Tibetan Buddhism, the two main things we need to be happy are mindful awareness and loving compassion.  Compassion / loving kindness / metta for ourselves and for other beings.  These can be built by meditation through which we can overcome negative thoughts and habitual emotional responses – we can start to live from a calmer, more peaceful place.

So, in 2019, I will continue the journey which I started this year.  I believe that I can change myself, change my thinking and that I am responsible for my own happiness.  How I think and how I respond to my emotions will dictate my degree of happiness.  I am walking the Buddhist path as best that I can.  I have practical steps which I have started to take.  I will practise the 5 precepts (see below), meditate and use Russell’s interpretation of the 12 steps to help me rid myself of addictions / negative behaviour and to develop more skillful thinking and behaviours.   Buddhism, the 12 steps see the goal as living a life that is compassionate, serving others.  In the podcast this morning, Russell and Tony both described how helping others takes you outside of yourself and brings happiness.

I cannot expect the journey to be linear – there will be meandering, backward steps. But I shall remember what the words of a friend – “We practise the 5 precepts the best that we can; we are all practising.  None of us is perfect”.  What matters is that we try.

So 2018 has not been a great year in many ways.  BUT it is the year in which I changed my path – started this journey.  It is the year in which I got up off the floor and started moving.  It is the year in which the walls which I had built up came tumbling down.  It is the year in which I started to take control.

In 2019 I will continue my journey to become more Tee…

Happy New Year!

The Five Precepts 

  1. I undertake to abstain from taking life
  2. I undertake to abstain from taking the not-given
  3. I undertake to abstain from sexual misconduct
  4. I undertake to abstain from false speech
  5. I undertake to abstain from taking intoxicants/drink and drugs which cloud the mind
  1. With deeds of loving-kindness, I purify my body
  2. With open-handed generosity, I purify my body
  3. With stillness, simplicity and contentment, I purify my body
  4. With truthful communication, I purify my speech
  5. With mindfulness clear and radiant, I purify my mind

New Year looming

So I have a plan. A dream that will progress me further on my journey. It will help my girls … it will help me progress on the Buddhist path. It’s a dream that is a plan. I am actually doing concrete things that will help it to come true.

In doing this I am trying to leave behind the sadness and heartache of 2018. 2018 brought moments of pure joy; pure happiness; fulfilment. There was a time when I had a future all there for me and for my girls … but it got taken away. I fought for that future with everything I had… but it was not to be. So now I am relying on myself. And this dream will happen. It will take place. I can see a future now.

Then out of the blue…

something lovely happens…

So something good happens… At last!  Sometimes life feels full of sadness,mediocrity, boredom and drama so, when something good comes along, it is important to embrace it, live it and enjoy it.  It is crucial to live in the present moment, feel and savour every second because this immediate event will not last and it would be all to easy to allow its impermanence to spoil the joy.

And now, it is over.  And, of course, because life is as it is I want more.  I always want these moments to last longer, to repeat themselves more often.  It is “dukkha” – the suffering that occurs because everything in the ordinary, unenlightened life is ultimately unsatisfactory and changes, passes away.  So in these hours, days, weeks after the something magical and lovely, I have to be aware.  I have to be on guard against suffering unduly.  I have to be aware of my emotions, my tendency to be sad and regretful.  I have to stay calm and focussed, grateful that life offers these gems of happiness.

The problem with wonderful events is that life can become a roller coaster!  I have experienced this so often – especially over the past year.  I could have  ran down the flower edged grassy bank with glee resulting in a messy fall, crashing   in a heap at the bottom.  So I ran down that bank more mindfully, with more awareness. Remembering the importance of valuing and rejoicing in those lovely, gleeful, special events because they light up my life, my heart, my soul.  They show me that I can be happy, content and at peace.

So now I am keeping those wonderful hours alive in memories.  Not to live in the past but to help me through sadder days – to help me climb those hills, clamber over the jagged rocks.  Those few hours helped heal deep cuts and grazes caused by my recent crashes and falls.   And those magical hours have not left me empty!  They have left me with a deep, beautiful, loving, spiritual friendship which means the world to me.

So I continue to walk along my path holding onto the joy, peace and happiness I found.  I have had to clamber over a couple of rocks today but I have used these new tools to help me negotiate a safe path and climb over in one piece.