My first posts were about my Pretzel walks. I remember writing about what I had seen and experienced as I walked. So a return to this today.
I have been forgetting to be mindful – present as much as I can in all I do. So for the past few days I have been making an extra special effort. Whether it be eating my dinner, washing up, talking to a friend, watching “Eat, Pray Love” (Julia Roberts – Always a winner), I have tried to be more present in them. Not letting my mind wander off on to other things, not checking Facebook, not looking at my “To Do” List.
So this morning I tried extra hard to be “in” my morning walk with Pretzel. It is amazing how much I noticed. There are a few brightly coloured flowers out in some plots which are just lovely to look at. The trees with the sky as a backdrop were so crisp and present this morning. Some of the plots on my morning route are so beautiful to look at – their owners obviously spend a lot of time tending them. Being present makes even the mundane more interesting. I do the same Pretzel walk every day – and usually I am cold and half asleep, The walk was so much more enjoyable this morning. I had snuck in 20 minutes Meditation before Pretzel woke up (yes she is a dog not a baby) and was very chilled and present as a result. I had actually felt good after that meditation – meditation does not come naturally to me so I take that as a win.
So this morning I stopped to say “Hello” to a couple of people with their dogs – a lovely lab and a small bichon frise in a brightly coloured knitted jumper. I gave my usual greeting to the gold coloured Buddha in a plot not far from here. I took a detour to smile at the skeletons on the battered decking owned by an older, rather eccentric man (a very kind and friendly person),
I didn’t take my phone with me as I walk around the site so no pictures of this walk…. But maybe tomorrow. So instead – a photo of Pretzel my Pug / Chinese Crested Cross (Pugese).
Last week I was checking in at a Buddhist Group and I found myself wondering aloud, “Just how did I get through everything before Buddhism?”.Before the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha came into my life?Before I knew to go to refuge in these Three Jewels? How did I manage to survive this life before I was introduced to Buddhism?How did I get through the constant struggles that life always presents us with?How did I enjoy the good times which I knew would end?How did I manage to be any way near happy and content through the struggles which seem to have hit over the past couple of years?
I can say how I attempted to do all of that. Some of the ways were good or, at least not dreadful!.I am fortunate that I have some incredibly good friends and we support each other.My girls always helped just by being there just as my lovely Pretzel, JD and Smirnoff did.A walk with Pretzel is always a great mood enhancer.Having a cat or two on my lap is always lovely.I would book holidays and have things to look forward to …this was a good strategy as long as there was always something to look forward to.It did mean that a lot of life wasn’t appreciated as I was always awaiting Friday evening or the holiday in the sun.This strategy involved a lot of living in the future or recalling pleasant memories of the past but helped to get me through. There were other strategies too – alcohol was definitely a big help!Not in large quantities but a few glasses of wine to numb the senses and dim the worry for a while.I got involved in things – running, Power lifting….exercise is always a good thing to do (unless done to excess which may have been a problem at times).Boxsets were a feature – a way of forgetting about life for a while.
These ways of living life weren’t bad in themselves – unless taken to excess.Friendship, pets and family were always a positive feature in my life.But now, looking back, a lot of my ways of coping seem to be very short-term strategies. They were strategies which took me away from my life, emotions and thoughts.They took me away from me.Life was passing me by because I wasn’t living in it properly!I was always trying to numb it or to be somewhere else!
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I now try to live my life differently.I don’t always succeed in living in the present but I am at least trying to do so.Buddhism has given meaning to my life, a sense of purpose.It also gives me ways of thinking about my life and thoughts on how to live it.Buddhism doesn’t provide me with a step by step plan – I have to work all of that out for myself!But it does provide pointers and methods!All that I have done to change my life in the last year has been down to my new world-view – simplifying my life, putting myself and those I love ahead of convention and the supposedly safer way to live.I still have a fair way to go but I have made a start.
Because I see life differently now, it feels more full of meaning.Life is so precious!It is so short and can end at any moment.So I need to build a life which I love living rather than trying to escape it.I need to live life fully and gratefully rather than craving something else.And everything changes – those things which make us suffer will end at some point, or at least change.And when something happens (the first arrow strikes), I don’t need to make it worse by firing that second arrow of worry and “why me?” at myself.I now try to face it all head on and work my way through it.(I try – doesn’t mean I always succeed!!).
I still use strategies for dealing with life when things aren’t going as well.I still take Pretzel for a walk.I still talk to friends (and my friendship circle has increased so much in the last year).I still look forward to things.I do all of that.I still have the occasional glass of wine or watch a Boxset (NCIS is the current favourite) but I don’t do these to escape my life any more.I do them because I want to do them for a little while.But I have other ways now – meditation!I never thought that I would be that person who has meditated at least once a day for over 130 days.Meditation is so powerful – it calms my mind and provides a sense of peace and stillness.Not always!Sometimes meditation throws up important truths which bring temporary discomfort but lead to me being a better person eventually.Mindfulness – trying to live in the present…living with intention… trying to make each moment count.This has led me back to doing some of the things I used to love to do but haven’t been able to concentrate on or have the energy for (reading, sewing, embroidery….).
Yes – I am grateful to the Three Jewels and to the man who introduced me to them.I definitely have a way to go but I am living my life a little better than I used to do. I feel more. I am living in my life more. I am not just “getting by”.
I have been thinking more about mindfulness. Mindfulness in the Buddhist context – what it means for me, for my life. The part that mindfulness plays in my Dharma Life, in my journey. I wrote about it a few days ago ( https://teejordan.co.uk/index.php/2019/07/16/mindfulness-a-poem) but last night’s Sangha Evening led by the newly ordained Akāśhanandi on the Four Reminders (see below) inspired me to explore further.
The Four Reminders This human birth is precious, An opportunity to awaken, But this body is impermanent, Ready or not, one day I shall die.
So this life I must know As the tiny splash of a raindrop, A thing of beauty that disappears Even as it comes into being.
The karma I create Shapes the course of my life, But however I act Life always has difficulties; No-one can control it all. Only the Dharma Can free me and others From suffering forever.
Therefore I recall My hearts’s longing for freedom, And I resolve to make use Of every night and day To realise it.
The first noble truth is that to be human is to suffer. Suffering (Dukkha) is inevitable. We all know that – Buddhist or not. Every human being experiences pain, suffering and loss. A lot of our time and energy is spent trying to relieve, cover or forget this suffering. Sometimes we choose good ways of relieving suffering – talking with friends, meditation, going for a walk etc. But some of the time we choose less skilful methods. Addiction is often seen as a way of coping with suffering – Russell Brand has written and spoken a lot about this. We can become addicted to anything – food, Box sets, exercise, online shopping. Addictions are unhealthy habits and attachments. Many activities which we do for long periods of time may not be addictions as such, but we do them to fill time, because we are bored, because we feel tired and lethargic – Eating a packet of biscuits, watching endless box sets, flicking through FaceBook …
So there is suffering which we all try to deal with or avoid in many ways. But human life is precious as is shown by the first line of the Four Reminders. It is an opportunity which should not be missed. Life does have difficulties, there is always suffering but it is also a thing of beauty. We must make the most of it as this life is fleeting like the tiny splash of a raindrop. We never know when it might end. So – in comes mindfulness! Am I being mindful about how I am living my life or am I just drifting along with no purpose? Am I wasting precious moments? Am I engaged in looking for true freedom from suffering for myself and others or am I just covering it up with mindless, possibly harmful activity?
The way to freedom is the Dharma – “only the Dharma can free me and others from suffering forever”. The Dharma is the teaching of the Buddha – but it is not a set of laws and commandments which are written down and must be followed to the letter. It is a teaching which has to be internalised and lived by each individual Buddhist. The Buddha just said, “I am a human being, and I’ve had a certain experience. Listen to what I have to say, by all means, but listen to it critically, test it in your own experience” (Sangharakshita – the founder of Triratna Buddhism) – There is a story of the Buddha’s aunt / foster mother coming to him very hurt and upset because the Buddha’s disciples were giving out different versions of the Dharma. The Buddha was unperturbed – and said (in a much longer and more poetic way), whatever you find conducive in practice to finding the goal of Enlightenment – do that. The Dharma is a raft, a means to the other side of the river, it is a finger pointing to the moon. The Dharma is not an end in itself. As one of the Order members said to me – I have to discover what the Dharma means to me and live it.
I am still in the midst of exploration and discovery – but I do know that mindfulness is and will continue to be central to my practice, to my life. One of the five precepts which I follow as a Mitra concerns mindfulness – not being clouded by intoxicants (which, to me, can be anything which stops me from being fully present), “With mindfulness pure and radiant I purify my mind”.
Human life is precious and fleeting – so we must appreciate every precious moment. There has been much written about living in the present moment. One of the first books I read on it was Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”. The present moment is all that we have – it is not a stepping stone to another moment. The Now is the most precious thing there is. To be present in the Now is to be extremely mindful of what I am doing and not to be distracted by regrets from the past or dreams of the future. I also need to take advantage of every given moment – is what I am doing at this very moment serviceable / beneficial to myself and / or to others. I need to take heed of the last lines of the Four Reminders – recall my heart’s longing for freedom and resolve to make use of every day and night to realise it. Now that does not mean that I have to be busy every moment of the day and night! It does not mean that I can never sit down and watch television. Rest and relaxation are important physically, mentally and emotionally. For me, being mindful and being in the present means that I need to know why I am doing what I am doing in a given moment and to be fully committed to that activity. Am I watching NCIS Season 3 because I am actively interested in the story and the characters or just because I cannot be bothered to get up and do anything else? Am I actually watching it or am I flicking through my phone looking at Instagram, responding to messages etc at the same time? Have I sat here watching it all day (not very likely at the moment to be honest as my mobile WIFI is a bit unreliable)? Am I taking time in the day to develop myself? Am I reading, learning about the Dharma? I want to hone my writing skills which were a little rusty but are coming back slowly – have I done anything to achieve that today? I lost the creative side of me for a while so what am I doing to get that back (another blog post coming in a couple of weeks). Have I been in contact with my friends and family? Have I done my daily meditation? And what have I done today to be of service to others – and how can I do more? I am intensely aware that, as I am not working at the moment, I could easily waste my days doing nothing in particular – which would be a great shame as I am so fortunate to have this time.
Before I end this post – I do need to make it clear that I am a work in progress! I am trying my hardest to practise mindfulness in the way that I have described. It’s hard! Even writing this, I have found myself distracted by the bleep of a text message which I answered… and, having picked up my phone I saw that I had a FaceBook notification… well you can probably see where I am going with this! I would say, however, that being more mindful does make me feel happier, more fulfilled and calmer.
This poem was the the result of a project I did for my Dharma Study Group. I looked at the fifth precept:
“With mindfulness pure and radiant, I purify my mind”
It began with a mind map which is the main picture at the top of this post. I love mind maps. I first came across them when I was teaching in Milton Keynes. Tony Buzan has written several books on the subject of mind mapping – well worth a look. Mind mapping is a great technique for brain storming any subject and organising your resultant thoughts. It also lets you use all of those colourful pens!! Then there was a stage when I tried to organise my thoughts in a more linear way. I was bored by that though and it didn’t seem like a good ending for the project.
In my mind map and more organised writing, I looked at mindfulness as being multi faceted:
being present, in the now, in the moment. Not worrying about the future or being anxious about the past. No regret, no fear. Be in the moment, enjoying whatever it is I am doing without distraction
knowing the purpose of the activity to my life, my goal, my direction. Is this activity beneficial to me? Am I benefiting myself or others by doing this? In the words of the Olympic Medallist, Ben Hunt Davis, “Will it make the boat go faster”?
being vigilant. Guarding against unskilful actions of body, speech and mind. Am I acting with metta? Am I being generous? Am I being truthful?
And whatever I am doing, even if it does not seem to be a “good” thing to do; it might be a frivolous thing, just fun or something to do at that moment. But whatever it is – am I actually noticing what I am doing? Am I actually watching Netflix? Am I actually tasting the bar of (vegan) chocolate? Am I actually listening to my friend? We all seem to spend so much of our lives multi-tasking!
Somehow – I am not sure how exactly – this turned into a poem. I haven’t written a poem in years – probably since school. And at school, there were always rules to follow – make sure it rhymes or “write it in the style of….”
So here it is – the completed poem.
This moment is a precious gift. Imagine a butterfly drifting in and perching gently on your hand. Use your eyes to photograph her beauty. Be gentle …. Don’t move your hand or make sudden movements. This is a special moment. This butterfly trusts you to do the best by her Don’t harm her Don’t scare her Treat her well. This butterfly will never come back to you again… Her life is short as it is. She will fly off – don’t try to stop her. Do not chase after her. Just let her go.
This moment is a precious gift. A present given to you by a special friend to use well. Open the present with attention and care. Read the hand written card. Notice the beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon. Fold the paper carefully so that it can be treasured and used again; Tie the ribbon in your hair. The present is fragile; it will not last. But is given with such love and devotion. Use the present wisely. Use the present with love. One day that gift may be broken – do not weep. Do not cry. Your friend loves you still.
This moment is a precious gift. Imagine a special bunch of flowers ready to be placed on the shrine. They have been picked with loving care. Look at their bright colours; notice their green leaves. Arrange them with care Show them to their best advantage. Treat them gently – they are delicate. When they begin to fade, remove them from the shrine Do not mourn their death They were never going to last more than that brief time. The shrine will be beautiful again.
This moment is a precious gift. Use it well. Use it wisely. Use it with intention. Use it without distraction. This moment is a precious gift. Use it, be deep within it then…
I have been watching “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things” on Netflix. A very timely viewing experience!
I have been decluttering. Getting rid of things so that I can move from a three bedroomed house into a caravan with ease and tranquility. It will be quite a large caravan admittedly. But it will contain all that I own. And there will be three of us living there plus a dog, two cats and a hamster. I found the first trawl through the house relatively easy. It is a joy to rid myself of things that have not seen the light of day for years or have just been sitting on a shelf unloved and unappreciated. I enjoy giving items to friends or donating them to charity shops because they will be used. I am looking forward to having a space which is clutter free and attractive to the eye. A calm space. A space which houses beautiful, joyful and useful things.
However – I am getting to the tough part now. The part where real decisions have to be made. To the part where I have to be a little bit ruthless. How many pairs of jeans do I NEED? I am making the decision to have 10 books (I have a kindle) – 5 are chosen; how do I make a decision about the rest? How many plates, glasses, saucepans? What do I do with my pictures which are precious to me but difficult to hang in a caravan which has less wall space anyway? What about that ornament that was a present from a friend?
Sometimes (but not very often and only for a few seconds), I wonder why I am doing it. The caravan will be quite big. The caravan will have storage space. There can be a few things out on the sides. However, I know that it is important to do this. I do not need all of those things to feel happy. A calm, tranquil place with space and clutter free will make me feel more at peace. I do not want to continue to be attached to things. I feel that minimalism fits well with Buddhism. It’s about living mindfully. Not having and buying lots of things just for the sake of it, just to feel (temporarily) happy. It’s about being free to live a more meaningful and ethical life. It doesn’t mean that I cannot live comfortably. It doesn’t mean that I cannot have lovely, beautiful things. I want my home to be comfortable to live in and to visit. I want to make my home beautiful and pleasing to the eye. It just means that I will try not to have more than I need to be and feel comfortable.
So I will continue making the difficult decisions knowing that, in the end, they will be relatively simple.
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.
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.
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
Last night was challenging. I had had a productive day – got things done. I had walked Pretzel and got in my steps. I’d been to Tesco, done some chores. I’d written a blog post. Someone had viewed my house. All seemed good. I was all set for an evening of Grace and Frankie, crochet, sparkling water and cuddles with Pretzel, JD and Smirnoff.
But then – out of nowhere – a huge wave of sadness and depression swept over me. I suddenly felt drained and tired. I remembered a particularly lovely night last week and mourned its passing. All of my optimism and positivity ran out of the door chased by dark terrible shadows. My evening of solitude switched from being a happy one to something sad. I don’t understand how that happened! No event occurred, there was no change in plans… the situation was the same but my thoughts and emotions changed in a ridiculous way.
So what did I do? Go with my first impulse and pop across to the shop for a bottle of wine? No – no I didn’t. I sat thinking about doing so for quite a while – I could almost taste the wine. But I resisted. Why didn’t I go for this option? Well my stubbornness helped – I had said that I was doing Dry January as a precursor to trying to stop drinking for good. Also I had already updated the App to say that I hadn’t had alcohol yesterday. And – I thought about this blog and how I wouldn’t want to say I had given in. I could have rang / messaged a friend who would have understood I think – but he has his own struggles and things to deal with. It would have been selfish and weak. Don’t get me wrong – often phoning a friend is the right thing to do. But this time – no. I knew that I could get myself out of it. Worrying a friend was not the kind thing to do.
So stubbornness and pride pulled me through to some extent. As did the knowledge that I have to stay strong for those people in my life who depend on me – my girls, my friends. But I was on my own so could have gone back to old unskillful ways of dealing with life just for last night without directly affecting others. Stubbornness, pride…
But there was something else. Something stronger and more positive. My journey, my path. Buddhism: “This too shall pass”; the fifth precept about not letting intoxicants cloud my mind; the idea that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Clear, skilful thinking got me through. I meditated for a while – just to clear my mind and reset. I had a shower. I refilled my glass of sparkling water and I pressed play on “Grace and Frankie”. Pretzel came and snuggled at my side. I retrieved my crochet.
I can’t say that I felt 100% better – but I felt ok. And sometimes “ok” is enough.
I could have come off my path, jumped over the edge and crawled into the dark cave. The cave would have sheltered me from my thoughts and feelings. But they would still have been there waiting for me to emerge. Instead I paused, thought about my options and made the decision to continue on my path.
Since last night a couple of things have happened. Not good things – events which serve as a reminder of how important it is for me to stay strong and present. Today is another difficult day in some ways but “This too shall pass”.
Someone asked me why I am writing this blog – more particularly why I am truthful about my struggles; why I don’t just talk about the good days. I write this blog because writing helps me. It helps me to give my thoughts and feelings some perspective. I put my blog online for many reasons. I like to write. I haven’t written much for years and this encourages me to keep writing and to improve. Another reason is to produce some sort of accountability – I have said I would do something so will try hard. It may be that my blog may help someone who is struggling – I might not have the answers for them but at least I may have things they can try or they can see that they are not alone. So I have to be truthful. Of course there are things I don’t write about because it involves others. I don’t write about my friends or my family in specific terms. But I want this blog to be authentic and to be truthful – so that means the good and the bad; the pretty and the ugly.
So last night I nearly crashed . But somehow held it together using my new, more skillful ways. Believe me that isn’t always the case. Next time I may not be successful – but this time I was. A reminder of my blog image – “what you think you become”.
It was Sunday morning. I wasn’t feeling that great. I thought that I was coming down with the cold that seems to be attacking everyone at the moment. But I had 15,000 steps to do that day. I am stubborn – I will get those steps in if I possibly can. I couldn’t face doing my normal Pretzel walk. I knew that if I did, I would plug in my headphones, switch to Spotify and listen to my favourite playlist which brings up emotions and memories. I decided to get in the car and do the short drive to the Downs. I used to take my dogs Lara and Dana up there a lot in years gone by. The Downs are beautiful and hold great memories of a Jack Russell and a Rough Collie ( a “Lassie dog”) running off lead having fun.
So I went to the Downs. What a beautiful walk. It was a cold and grey morning but, at first, there were not many people around so Pretzel was happy to be off the lead. Later she was spooked by the biggest German Shepherd I had ever seen who jumped up at me (I didn’t mind) and then chased my poor, tiny pugese. After that she was clearly nervous so I kept her close to me. For the first half of the walk though, Pretzel as free to run around and sniff and play.
I worked hard to stay in the moment that morning. I knew that there was a good chance of me getting low as I was feeling unwell and fragile. So I took in the views, took pictures and smiled at the people who went by. There were lots of runners up there that morning – all going strong.
It was a lovely walk. I was so pleased that I went. And I am pleased that I chose not to wear headphones. I am pleased that I chose not to think, to dwell. Every time sad thoughts came into my wandering mind, I managed to push them away. I just walked and enjoyed watching my little dog have fun.