The 21 delusion—a Poem

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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.

Mint Murder, the Pongy Evolution

As the  Mints fell from the packet, bouncing briefly on the table in a random pattern before heading south, there was no prospect of them hitting the floor.  Two lurking Labrador’s moved with the agility and speed of a starved cobra  and inhaled the full packet in a nano-second and were looking for more. On the bright side, maybe it will help their breath (and other gaseous emissions) as so far I have failed to improve Aggi’s aroma by adding mint leaves to her food.

Early minty moments

This was the Menagerie’s first (accidental due to my clumsiness) introduction to the sweet lollies, however I have had a long and evolving relationship with the Mint family in general.  From the early years, when I couldn’t  stand anything even faintly tainted with what I viewed as yucky poison, to today when I have a mild addiction to peppermint tea; it has been an interesting transition, probably borne of necessity.

Mint Imperials, the king of mints

The real power of mint came into its own in my ‘smoking years’ , sadly I don’t mean I was irresistible!! I am referring to the imbibing of the nasty nicotine (now thankfully a past habit). In my Community Midwife years I used to teach pregnant mums pre-natal relaxation classes and it was at this time that I adopted the Mint Imperial as a close ally. You see I was very good at the ‘getting them relaxed’ bit and  talking the would be mamma’s into sleepy submission.  I would get them into a snoozy position on their individual foam mats towards the end of the session, dim the lights, turn on the urn and nip out the back of the health centre for a ciggie. In fact I got it down to a fine art and could fit in 2 ciggies followed by 2 mint imperials  in the time it took the urn to boil.

Pong delusion

Like most smokers I was convinced I had covered up the smell with my minty buddy and nobody knew. I would pop back into the relaxed expectant ones; talk them round from their snooze with my voice intonations increasing in tune to the bubbling urn and we would all have the obligatory cuppa that marked the end of a session. Thus, over time I grew to like mints and gave up the ciggies.

Minty Irony

Now mints feature in every handbag and pocket. I even have different sized containers for the things, based on said handbags size so you see it is not just the tea I am addicted to! The real irony though comes from my lack of green thumbs when it comes to the mint genus. You will be familiar with what they say about mint plants “they grow like weeds”, “they pop up everywhere and spread”…etc etc…. and I consider myself a bit of a gardener; but not when it comes to mint.

Yes, its official: I can kill mint!….and I don’t even need to do anything to it, just my presence in its general vicinity seems to makes it shrivel up and vanish. To date we have 5 varieties in the garden, now all safely in an isolated exclusion zone (from which I am verboten ) and under the care of ‘Himself”…….. I will stick with growing the easy stuff, like Orchids and Bok Choy.

*Mindful of the power of habit persuasion and its effects on  taste buds….and learned how hyper dogs get when you feed them sugar!

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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 🙂

 

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.