The 21 delusion—a Poem

springschicken white

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The knees make creaky noises

As they take on flights of stairs;

And the eyes need arms that lengthen

To make glasses see in pairs.

 

Jogging is now  power walking

With a sometimes gentle stroll;

Heart-pumping runs to hill-tops passed,

Keep breathing more the goal!

 

Fit’s not for want of trying

But the gym’s just too much trouble;

Time excuses found, so not to blame, besides

They’ve lengthened miles to double!

 

House and garden are my fitness school

Weights?.. a heavy vacuum cleaner;

Mulch spreading, weeding, bend and stretch

If only I was keener.

 

Groans on rising from comfy chair

Bone crunching, body’s way to cope;

What do you mean  not 21 anymore?

Go wash mouth out with soap!

 

*Mindful that the brain and body don’t always agree about the number of years that have passed.

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‘Journey’ of a rant

If I hear one more person saying “its been  a journey” I wont be responsible for my actions! I get it, I really do understand that folks are trying to convey some form of experience that has taken them from go-to-woe but PLEASE can we think of some other ways of saying it?  The journey word is so overused it should come with a health warning as terminally boring.
Journeys Journeys everywhere and not a trip was taken

From TV cooks to school kids taking exams, its all you hear; cant folks just accept multiple events will happen?; that its life  (the rich tapestry and all that.),  just please please don’t give it the journey label. We breath in, we breath out, we do stuff, not every blooming thing has to be described with the ‘J’ word; to me ‘J’ has become the new ‘F’.

Cranky 
The assistant in the pharmacy yesterday was the straw’ that prompted this camels rant, I only went in for lozenges  and came out with a headache.

She was explaining at length to her colleague why she had a small bandage on her wrist, and I was quite happy to wait until they were all ‘up to date’ with the fascinating tale of a slight sprain…..right up until she said “yes, the healing has been quite a journey”.

Well; I didn’t know I could make quite such a loud scoffing noise, but it certainly got me served quick smart, and I was off home on my own journey (sojourn, hike, wander, travel, quest…yadda yadda…..), nope, really I just went home, plain and simple. I am probably on some cranky shopper black list now but I will cope , and do so without an adjustment that indicates  I took  some form of a trip!

Phew, rant over

Now that I have got that off my chest (and thanks for reading/listening) I will share the other objection I have to the ‘J’ thing.

You see it indicates people are always going somewhere. Well of course we sort of are, its just that the very  word perpetuates the striving to be somewhere else.  The main point is that if you are always focussed on getting somewhere, you tend to forget to appreciate where you ARE.

Each moment is precious and important (even the bad ones), and many even transform us, but how many moments do you miss as you focus on getting somewhere else?  You may already be AT your destination, and that destination is now….in this moment and this moment.

*Mindful to breathe in, breathe out, and be present;  and if you are going on an exploration or perchance an expedition, I hope you have a wonderful time. And if you are just living your life  moment to moment and savouring each one, I hope that is also splendid.

Uncommon Ailments of Menageriness

Irritable Owl Syndrome is  the ailment  our semi-resident frog-mouth owl must be having now that we have interrupted his food supply. In addition to the ever prowling cats, we have added some mouse traps in the garage as the wee rodents are attracted to the chook feed store. Poor frog-mouth doesn’t look happy of late and now has to go further than our back garden for his tea; not that he ever does look happy, but who would with a name like that!

Even the puppy isn’t immune to the odd illness and, (as a result of my experiments with Paleo inspired bread making) now seems to have developed Flaxtoast Intolerance’; defined as an intense dislike of my flax seed and coconut flour bread, the symptoms of which result in her giving the best sad-eye pathetic looks to ‘himself” until he caves in and makes her some vegemite toast from his own wheat flour laden loaf to make her feel better.

Influhenza only seems to be fowl based (Not THE bird flu) and manifests in intense flapping of wings and squawking when the pigeons get into the coop and try to pinch their seed; the noise certainly gives me a headache so I can only imagine how they feel.

The cats main complaint seems to be Hypurrtension, the stress  trigger point of which is the critical moment when you have to tip a contented moggy from your lap in order to get anything done. Strangely contagious, at its most active phase it can spread scratch marks to the human thigh.

However, uncommon ailments are not confined to the animals of the menagerie and I have succumbed (on occasion) to Osteopertoesis, which is the intense throbbing of toes following an accidental barefoot encounter with a discarded dog bone. I must take preventative measures by inoculating myself by  wearing shoes.

One of the saddest looking malady’s is currently endured by “himself” who appears to have Sighnisitis ,exhibited by repetitive tutting and shaking of the head closely followed by long exhalations of breath and a sort of hunching of the shoulders……..poor thing, he always seems just fine until he sits down to read my blog; must be a positional thing.

*Mindful of the importance of good health and laughter is not only the best medicine, but also the best prevention

 

 

 

 

 

Invigilated by Stranger

 

A complete stranger Invigilated me last night and didn’t even buy me dinner first! I had taken some preventative Panadol as I suspected it would be painful, still, I expected a little more humanity during the process. It had been many years since such an event had happened, so the memory was a little hazy about what to expect, and as most of the learning to date had been at a distance; this was my first trip to the University.

City Uni

As the Uni is up in the City (and I don’t get out much) I had prepared for the event by rubbing the sock marks off my legs and dressing appropriately…….after all, they say appearances count, so  the look I went for was  from country Ho-Bo to Bo-Ho; at least that is what I was aiming for, but may just have made it on one of those syllables……tis a long time since I was a student, but as it happens, I blended in just fine. A right motley crew of would-be brainy types.

he who must be obeyed

The head Invigilator, ( I forgot to mention he had brought his mates to watch) was obviously well versed in not smiling, or indeed  showing any emotion at all;  he had all the animation of a turnip with the colouring to match. Still, there was a quiet authority about him as he blew a few non-existent cobwebs from the PA mic and started  our relationship with the fore-amble…blah blah…safety, blah blah ‘one bell take note but don’t move’….blah blah ‘two bells Il see you in the car park’…..blah blah toilet…Wait, I should have listened to that more intently as this session was going to be for three and half hours….and then, with both arms pointing at the giant clock (in case we had somehow missed it) we were given the signal to do something with the neat pile of paper in front of us.

the watchers

This is when the head invigilators’ mates sprung into action; like silent snoops they drifted amongst us, checking our personals nick knacks (ID’s that we had been told to put on display….note to self..should have had a new pic taken for driver’s licence….) and checking pencil cases for illicit information that may have slipped in there in cryptic note form between the pens.

archaic

On the subject of pens, in this day-and-age why would we even be needing such a thing?…….why , since my last exam ( many moons ago) has there been no progress into the use of a simple (cheat proof) word processor for use in exams?……..what kind of  thinking has made exams the last bastion of writing by hand ?. Why not go the whole hog and give extra points for using other instruments with ascending degree of difficulty?…….extra points if you use a leaky Biro that has been through the wash; more if you adopt the blunt pencil and left the sharpener at home and top marks if you can struggle through the writing of ten pages using a quill and ink.

relief

And then, as if we had been transported by academic Tardis , it was over, and the neatest thing on the page was my name in the top corners. I was going to add a wee comment on the last page about my internal spell checker being broken, but the exam,Mr turnip head and his mates had fair sucked the joy out of me and it was 10pm; way past my funny bones sleep time. The turnip’s calls for ‘silence as papers were  collected’ fell on the deaf ears of  me and the rest of the rabble rushing to leave the scene of the cramped-hand crime. Cast out into the night and dreaming of a hot peppermint tea, there was just one final test in the day; where did I leave the car?

 *mindful  that we can all be doing the same thing, yet feeling it differently…and that there is life beyond the gumboot sloth so I should get out more 🙂

 

Catitude and Chore Meditation

Meditation and yoga got the housework done; no, I haven’t invented a new variety of either, it’s just that its TRUE…..meditation and yoga help you see things differently.

Of course Precious ‘s (cat) own brand of ‘Catitude’ helped spur things along as she wont be ignored; indeed if you try, she gives you a look that would curdle milk. But I am getting ahead of myself. For this mornings meditation I though I would try the added hurdle of meditating with my eyes open; its more challenging (seemingly) because you have to concentrate on avoiding what you see as well as what you hear / feel etc.

Meditate

Great thought I, will gaze absent-minded  out the window and drift into the rhythm of the breath….breath in and be grateful, breath out with easy and feel the surroundings….breath in…wonder what to have for dinner?…..ohh breath out with thanks….. breath in deeply…..am I getting a cold? and look at the weeds out there! exhale….bring mind gently back to breath and quiet the commentary in head…. breath in …..Look at the dirt on the windows! how can you relax?….breath out in irritation……. Ten more minutes of a banal mental newsreel and I was thankful when Precious appeared at the window demanding to be let in. Honestly, if you ignore her she gives you the paw!

Switch to Yoga

By this stage I was a little tense so attempted a quick half hour of Yoga, I mean the mat was out so why not? and it may just achieve what the meditation didn’t. Precious abandoned me as I wasn’t going to sit still and be her pillow for her average nineteen hour nap, Fickle she is!. Yoga Tree pose’ into… I am a Crane’, breath….was that a twinge?…breath out and move gently to next.. feeling empowered in warrior pose’, head up…is that a cobweb in the top corner?….. down on mat for Cobra pose’…Damn, Precious is back  and rubbing herself on my head as I am now closer to where she wants to be as the sun is coming in the window now. Pause to put cat back out and then straight into a challenging Eagle pose’, now, for those of you not familiar with Yoga, this stance involves wrapping one leg around the other while standing and at the same time entangling your arms with each other and then pretending squatting , as if to sit on a chair that isn’t there, and then (allegedly) holding the stance. I say allegedly as my imaginary chair vanished and I arrived at the relaxed baby pose’ flat on back. And this is when I found a bit of Christmas.

Chores

From my floor vantage point, there, under the couch was some glistening strands of foil from the Christmas tinsel !,what can I say, I don’t lift the couch on a regular basis, and lets just pretend that static must have made it stick to the underside of webbing and so must have missed it during previous vacuums. Nice as it was to find a bit of Christmas as we approach Easter (a bit of a reverse to having Easter eggs in the shops at Christmas!), it spurred me into action and if you now looked through my nice sparkling windows you would see only boring  tidiness, no tinsel in sight. So you see, Meditation and Yoga got the work done.

Celebrate and Relax

Whether you are looking at celebrating the impending holiday from the perspective of religion, chocolate or a love of bunnies, I hope you have a fun and satisfying time. I am not going to be doing an Easter egg hunt for fear I might find a well hidden abandoned egg next Christmas! Instead, we will paint hard-boiled eggs and roll them down the nearest hill until they are smashed and inedible; which is a ritual from my childhood. The dogs will no doubt help in the clean up of any leftovers as they will eat just about anything, even it has rolled through a cow pat. I don’t know the exact origins of our egg rolling habit in Scotland (where I am from) but as a child I always imagined it must have something to do with the biblical ‘rolling away the stone’; only the youthful me imagined the large oval ‘stone’ being rolled away as a big oval Chocolate Easter egg and hence the need and desire to chase it down steep slopes. But then have always had an over active imagination and chocolate took precedence over any religion  in the tender, chubby years. Happy Easter x. * Mindful that practice makes perfect, but thankful that I am not.

 

Goldfish in disguise

The goldfish have faded and I don’t think it has anything to do with daylight saving. I have a sneaky suspicion that it has something to do with  how I feel about ph. You see it has never made sense  to me that a low ph is acid and high is alkaline; for some reason my brain thinks it should be the other way around and so balancing the  fish tank is a regular juggle between what my head thinks and the reality of the litmus.

Chemistry teacher to blame

The history of this ph black spot  can be traced back to a Chemistry teacher I once had; so ultimately HE is responsible for the fish turning white……. they could be a teeny bit bleached. If only he had embraced my creativity, when  during a lesson on acid and alkalinity, a bored me asked ‘which tube of powder do you add to make it the pretty  aqua marine colour?’ Like many time poor teachers he seemed to equate artistic with not smart, so following his suggestion that I should move to the art class I took up Physics instead and became head of class that year; not least because I got to do experiments that were far more fun, if a little dangerous!….but I digress…..the fish…..>

A whiter shade of shale (groan, I know)

Six of the nine little darlings are now goldfish in name only; with only Bruiser, Eric and No Name holding onto a wee bit of colour; although Eric is supposed to be black and is now a peely-wally grey around the gills. The liberal chucking in of bicarb or  acid  I will admit can be a little erratic if it’s a busy day, but before you call the RSPCF it should be said that its only the once (I think) that I have grabbed the cream of tartar from the baking cupboard instead of bicarbonate of soda, and frankly they didn’t seem to react to that by swimming any differently. I have no idea what it does to a fishes insides (cream-of-tartar), but know that it keeps meringues nice and soft in the middle; so maybe it has just made the shoal tender. However, I do know that said cream of tartar is an acid, so I probably added to an already acid bath for the poor wee things. As  most of the fish have been with us for more than three years, am thinking they are mostly tough little dudes.

No Name’ goes for gold

‘No Name’, so-called because of his sparkling personality, has now taken on a whole new level of interest, as am curious why he is still holding his colour where others have succumbed. His gold bits now have him looking rather distinguished, sort of like he is wearing a small gold waistcoat. He seems to be enjoying standing out from the (now pale) crowd and has expanded his horizons away from sucking algae off the same plastic plant day after day to digging in the gravel!  {tunnelling for freedom perhaps?}  In fact, he has become so interesting that he has graduated to a name & will now be known as Digby.

Not sardines on toast

In truth, I have never had much luck with fish, and seem to attract the suicidal variety. One tip I will give you though is to never keep your goldfish on the kitchen bench; mainly because the wee devils can jump! When my kids were little ,one of our fish jumped from its perfectly comfy bowl on the kitchen bench straight into the toaster; unfortunately I didn’t witness the leap as was busy getting the kids ready for school and it wasn’t till I had added bread and turned toaster on that we discovered his demise! Not a smell I will ever forget. It took all my best mummy fibbing skills to distract the children from the smell (and the crime scene) long enough to get them safely to school and find an identical one as a replacement before they returned, (a new toaster was also purchased as couldn’t use that murder weapon again).  Not sure the charade worked, but the kids played along me thinks, just to make me feel better.

* Mindful of the tranquillity watching the fish can bring. and conscious that they seem to survive despite my best efforts. Should keep my white powders for cooking, where the equation is just Cooking=Chemistry /Alchemy+ flavour.

 

 

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…..it has a whole transformation to make!

 

 

 

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…..you 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”……..by 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.