Plastic Brain, No Preservative

Having a plastic brain is something we humans all have in common. Yes, I hear you…we all know some Numpty  you would swear just had sawdust in there, but nope, tis all plastic…… or we all have Neuroplasticity if you want the posh …ehmm….brainy version. It is only over the past few years that scientists have been able to conclusively overturn  the long-held theory that our brains were fixed and that was that. A point that is illustrated brilliantly in Norman Doidge’s book ‘ The Brain that changed itself’, in which he shows many life changing examples of brains (and real life people) that have transformed themselves following strokes and brain injuries to compensate for damaged areas; regenerating and altering to compensate.

So you see, the old saying ‘use-it-or -loose-it’ was onto something; well, it was if it was referring to the cranial department and not to where some people refer to others keeping their brains!……..lets drag our heads back from THAT department.

This all came to the forefront of mind (sorry for pun) this week as I undertook a course of study and initially my head felt like a blob of plasticine that had been left abandoned , and not played with for a while. So it was read, read, read… ouch!…..(squeeze, prod the blob, soften it up)…read, read, read, (flatten, stretch, pull, shape). All trying to wake it up and have it malleable enough to form new shapes or ideas.

When I started to apply mindfulness principles to what I was doing, it really felt as if some strands in my brain were, like cobwebs blowing in the breeze and struggling to find an anchor point of comprehension, to tell the rest of my head that it understood what I was reading! But after a while, like well worked Blu Tack, it became usable again, started to make connections and reason with new thoughts. Phew! I was relieved, as was starting to think my head may have turned into that nondescript brown blob of play dough seen in childcare centres at the end of the day, when the kids have mashed all the pretty colours together.

So, as I am just your average overachiever, I have set myself the ambitious task of moving the content of my head from Blu Tack to Memory Foam that fills my head! (I know, 2 puns in quick succession is probably too much, but sometimes unavoidable).

The trouble with our plastic brains is that it doesn’t really matter what end result  or brain format we are aiming for; because the brain changes its structure with each different activity we perform! It seemingly adapts itself like a super smart shape changer, perfecting itself to the arrangement best suited to the task.

Gosh….that makes you wonder what folks we refer to as Richard Head do with their time?!

So look after you brain and feed it wisely; with wholesome, new and varied  positive thoughts and actions. But remember to give it exercise as well, as you don’t want a nondescript , inflexible brown plasticine blob between your ears. Make it a beautiful , shape shifting sculpture. * was mindful of why meditation works, and learned there is a reason we say “my brain hurts” when concentrating on the hard or abstract… has a whole transformation to make!





Junkie snails do it in letterbox!

With more than the average  share of snails in the garden, I guess the laws of averages meant that some of them would have severe problems, although the appeal of the letterbox was an initial mystery to me. I may never have been alerted to the issue, had it not been for starting on the garden tidy-up, which seems to have stirred up the snail population; so you see I blame autumn.

Collecting my mail from the box the other day I noticed envelopes looked a little “moth-eaten”, sort of nibbled along the sealed edge of the letters. Well, apart from a fleeting image of the postie chewing on the edges of envelopes (which was swiftly dismissed, as anytime I have seen the postie he seemed a perfectly normal bloke, not at all the sort to suck envelopes)….but I digress……

The same happened over the next few days, until on Wed. the culprit was caught in the act…..or rather two of them were. There; intently (and slowly) were two snails, munching their way along the gum edge of envelopes like it was irresistable!!…..must be something in the glue me thinks, as I practice my throwing arm with the wee offenders. Not that they went very far, as I ‘throw like a girl’ (no offence Ladies, tis just a saying).

The glue on envelopes must contain the equivalent of mollusc crack, because the little blighter’s were back the next day (or 2 that looked very similar…….but not being an aficionado on invertebrates I couldn’t swear to their identity in a lin-up); only this time the letters were frayed and they seem to have finished with the glue fix and moved onto making more offenders!, or maybe they weren’t humping, just hugging. Now I was going to take drastic action, bring out the big guns and use the Salt; have you ever seen what happens to live slugs and snails when you add salt?…..well it kind of dissolves them  in a bubbly frenzy and its all rather disgusting so not for folk with a weak stomach. I resisted the urge , as convinced myself that dissolved snail and any consumed glue may fix them to the spot for all time, and didn’t want copulating snails as a permanent  feature on the letter box.

This time my drop stomp sent them off with a satisfying crunch (they were still attached to each other, so am sure they went off happy). A good can of bug spray and an exclusion/ protective  circle of salt around the base of said box seems to have done the trick, as mail since has been intact. Now that I know how attractive the  glue is to snails , I am going to write them a we b*gg*r -off’ note on the back of an envelope and stuff it in the bug trap by the veggie patch, convinced it will attract more than the beer that’s in there now!  * I was mindful that all creatures can have a fatal attraction and am chuffed to have a new meaning for ‘snail mail’.

Pup school, the sequel

Teachers pet typing here, yes, dear Aggi decided to spare me permanent puppy school outcast status and made me look like a dog training savant! , at least initially. She performed every instruction with accuracy, all be it with the bored expression of a Pro that’s done the task a million times.

Ms High Vis *(see puppy school paranoia post) unfortunately took this as a signal to use us as an example of what to do…….oww the pressure of the public performance. Just when I was finding Ms High Vis’s attention slightly creepy, I ‘blew it’ by inadvertently praising my little one by saying “well done darling”; Darling!, Darling? exclaimed Ms High Vis……”there is no darling here, only dogs with names!”….seemingly using terms of endearment is verboten!…., ah well, back to ‘must try harder’, and was that a  smirk from Aggi at me being told off?, surely not.

Joining me on the dunce’s stool was *Pearl (*name changed to protect the fact that I don’t know her name. I know the names of all the puppies in the group but somehow the people’s names are irrelevant) and her miniature poodle pup Fluffy. During the session, where we had to stand immediately in front of the puppy and “keep eye contact while looming over them, so they know who is boss” boomed Ms Vis, was the point that Pearl committed a sin larger than my “Darling” debacle.

You see, God or a surgeon had endowed Pearl with a huge bosom ; the type of impressive shelf  that you could rest a cup of tea on without fear of spilling a drop. The combination of Pearl with Fluffy at her feet clearly put them at a disadvantage as they had  line-of-sight issues; so Pearl took a step back, presumably so she could check the pup was still there……….well, from the way Ms Vis reacted you would have thought poor Pearl had kicked her pup or performed some other heinous crime. “You moved!!, how are you going to teach Fluffy by moving?” bellowed Ms Vis. Pearl and I swapped knowing, commiserating glances that cemented us as pals; even if Aggi treats Fluffy as a chew toy.

We were treated to a ‘meet and greet’ with the Advanced puppy class at the end of the session, (designed, I guess to encourage us to improve and move up a level) and I got goosed by a gusset nuzzling German Shepherd; more forward than advanced if you ask me.            * that day I was mindful and aware that friendships can blossom anywhere.

Puppy school paranoia

This afternoon was a last-ditch, backyard bribery fest with dried liver for young Aggi (black lab, now 16 weeks old), in preparation for tomorrows euphemistically called “obedience classes”. There is no point in deluding ourselves into calling it a dog obedience session, as it is clearly all about “training” the people.

Aggi and I have spent two weekend sessions under the watchful eye of a dominating woman with a bad perm, High Vis Vest and huge heart (where the canine beings are concerned);…….the people ?…she could patently take or leave, as long as they know how to avoid harming any little 4 legged friends.

So today was all about me avoiding a repeat of the past 2 saturday afternoon public humiliation sessions at the paws of my wee loved one. You see, she knows how to do the basic commands , all be it with an accompanied bribe/inducement; at least her recall in the back garden practices makes me very proud and am convinced she is a puppy genious……..then off we trot to the group session.

She will perform the perfunctory bits (as if saving face with the other puppies at the start) and then when it comes to our turn in the centre for a SIT /STAY/COME…….(after I have walked away) part, she does the puppy equivalent of “being left hanging” during a high five!!!……in a silence rivaling an old cowboy movie/sun-up standoff she just sits and looks at me when called………..Ms high Vis insists I get more animated and encouraging, and Aggi’s reaction?…..a slight cock of the head to the side (to increase the cuteness and emphasise the point of no comprende’) and leaves me hanging out to dry, yelling encouragement and trying baby noises and flailing my arms about like a windmill in front of strangers…..silently she sits, like a wee indignant rock……………enter the tumble weeds.* today I was mindful and learned to appreciate the abilities of others, even when they keep them hidden.

Watch this space for the outcomes of tomorrows obedience ordeal……..> wish me luck

Toe Breathing for beginners…..

Part of aiming for overall fitness of mind / body/ spirit I have been working on improving my meditation technique……they say it takes 10,000 hours to perfect so this old girl hasnt a moment to lose!

As I have also been fitting in a 5km  daily walk with Henry (Choc Lab) it occurred to me that if I could combine both it would be super efficient……….so was time to give Walking Meditation a go…..>>>>>>

So off my choc buddy and I went, complete with me plugged into iPhone voiceover  app of “mindfulness walking meditation”, well we started off  at a cracking, enthusiastic pace until the soothing voice urged me to “concentrate on where you ARE rather than where you are GOING”…..what the?, OK, slow down and concentrate…..ooops , don’t walk into the lampost… can’t shut your eyes to concentrate, focus girl focus….nope…he is definitely reinforcing “just be where you are and be curios about THAT and don’t worry about the destination”…… this time poor Henry was getting bored with such slow walking and was leading me off in the direction of a pre piddled tree. Having just reached the part where I was to imagine my thoughts like “clouds drifting in the sky” was when Henry became my assistance dog ( he is such a brilliant chum) and stopped me walking out in front of a car by running in a circle and wrapping his lead round my legs…….what a pal {Note to self……dont have both ears plugged in while out and about….even if  what I was doing was  meant to improve “awareness”! what an oxymoron}.

Ok, now with one ear being safety conscious and H having decided it was safer to walk in front we got to the part where ; having scanned the whole self, i was to “breathe in deeply down to my left little toe and then feel same toe breath out all the way up to my lungs”………..concentrate girl, concentrate….nope, cant even feel my wee left toe; maybe my socks are too thick….ooops he has moved onto the right foot and i havent even exhaled from the left!!!!!, wondering if my foot may blow up gave me the giggles and I had to abandon the voiceover.  Clearly this toe breathing is going to take some practice so maybe will start with my feet up on a stool to help with the visualisation…..Maybe one of the occasions when wine helps.

A regular dog walking (nodding acquaintance) very sweet old gent did stop for a chat on our way back and commented on how happy i seemed that day, so maybe part of the meditation worked :). *I learned to be mindful and you can only consciously listen when you make your ears available.

chicken violation……

I have a confession to make……yesterday I had my fingers up a chicken that was still alive!…the day started fairly normally, apart from Wilma (Hen 2) looking a wee bit under

Betty & Wilma chickens

Betty & Wilma chickens

the weather. No usual perky flapping of wings, more a feeble scratch at the ground and hung head; I wasnt overly worried until she seemed to be ehmm…..straining to no avail and her back-end was pasty and less than pristine.A quick search of some learned fowl sites on Dr Google told me I should “check the vent for blockage, and clear any obstacles found”…..well the only obstacles I could think of (other than a blocked egg) was the objection I had to sticking my fingers up the back-end of poor Wilma.

The helpful site also suggested that a bath in warm water may help her relax, and that the addition of Epsom salts would further soothe her to relaxation  point . Well , fond of Wilma as I am, i wasnt about to be sharing my bath with her, so an al fresco basin for her and some rubber gloves for me would have to suffice.

I have to say she didn’t seem to mind the warm water and she appeared more calm than me, or maybe that was a  ‘frozen” look on her face; so I boldly went where no woman had gone before (with Wilma) and adopted a gynecological approach to the chicken exploration, clearing whatever I found that didn’t seem to belong there. Himself” watched on, giving me moral support from a safe distance, with a mixture of disgust and admiration on his face……not sure there is enough disinfectant in the world to get that image out of his head [Note to self: don’t offer to make him pastry by hand any time soon].

Wilma is on the mend, and getting special treatment and scraps, after all, we are now on more intimate terms and I will treasure (and enjoy)  her eggs, knowing the effort she goes to produce the miracle that turns grain and food scraps into a protein packed orb. * I learned, and was mindful that you only get back what you put in!     

March!, how did that happen?



Tis 6 weeks since I left work and honestly couldnt condense what I have been up to in a sentence; except to say it has included more menagerie than “mindfulness”. The addition of little Aggi mid January has swallowed up time in a delightful, if puddlesome way and I am delighted to say she is now past the 4am accompanied loo trip to the back lawn.

Not before time I might add, as it was only a matter of time before my night-time torchlight nighty and ugg boot ensemble/ activity attracted the attention of a well-meaning neighbour who thought we may have a prowler……..during those trips * I was mindful.…to shine the torch where I was walking, and not on the excited black puppy chasing imaginary leaves, thus avoiding the squelch.