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Change of scene, change of pace

The cases are down from the attic, the cats are prowling as they sense that something is afoot and I have a plethora of lists scattered around my kitchen. Tomorrow we head off to Yorkshire for a week long stay with my son and his family ; after enjoying some together time at the weekend my son and daughter will return to work on Monday morning leaving us in charge of seven year old Poppy as she starts her Easter break from school.

Poppy is a bright, bubbly little girl whose recent school report extols her prowess in art, reading and creative writing so we are going to write a book together on this visit using a ‘Story Bag’ as a stimulus. This is something I used with the children in my classes over the years and contains a random selection of small items from around the house and garden. Having first created a main character from scratch, you then dip your hand in to the bag and choose any 3 items, all of which must be included in the story. It will be lovely to share this activity with her and light the touch paper of her imagination and see it flare.

Much patience will be required throughout our stay as the other request has been to teach her to knit, so I am armed with child sized needles and a selection of wool….so watch this space. If we manage a scarf for a teddy bear I will deem that a success.

We have visits planned to some nearby places of historical interest, parks and play areas so are hoping that the weather will be kind to us and make this visit another special time where we build on good memories and reinforce that very special bond between grandchild and grandparents. When we leave we are heading to the Yorkshire coast to stay in a small cottage for a few days and recover from the increased pace of life which we will have experienced with a young child. These times spent with our grandchildren are so precious and valuable and worth any amount of tiredness;  stepping out of our normal routine is  a positive thing, it enlivens us, recharges our enthusiasm for life to see the world through the eyes of a child and all the laughter and cuddles really boost the spirits.

So no posts from me for the next 10 days as my focus changes from reflection to action, from thinking to being, from trying to stay in the moment to having no option other than to be in the moment. Can’t wait!dscf1216mod-copy This was taken last year during Poppy’s summer visit to us in Cornwall.

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Reflections on Mothering Sunday

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This photo was taken a couple of years ago when we all gathered to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday and I have just realised that it is the most recent one I have showing my daughter (second from the right) and my son (second from the left) together.It was the happiest of days but sadly we are all separated geographically by many miles and getting together is not as straightforward as it could be.

Yesterday was Mothering Sunday in UK and far from the simple  day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members, the religious tradition has evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.When I was a child a bunch of daffodils and a hand made card sufficed but today consumerism has taken over completely filling the shops with expensive cards and useless gifts, increasing the price of all flowers for the preceding days so putting them out of the range of many. Some years ago I asked my son and daughter to turn their back on this ridiculous charade, to just send me a card and maybe buy me a small gift at some other time of year just because they felt like it. It has resulted in some lovely and unusual surprise gifts and visits which mean so much because of their spontaneity.

I spoke with both my children and grand children yesterday and received two cards and it was these that made me reflect on the differences between my two and the ways in which we all find to express our feelings. My daughter, Amy, is an open book, her feelings both good and bad spill out and her love is expressed regularly with texts and e mails, calls and visits, gifts and hugs. Her card, predictably, described me as ‘the best Mum ever’, was showered with hearts and flowers, butterflies and birds, her written words were full of gratitude and love along with promises of treats to come on my next visit. Who could fail to be moved? Not me.

In contrast Ben’s card was one sent via the internet so not even hand written but the message printed. The front of the card showed two jammy dodger biscuits, one larger than the other and the smaller of the two was saying, ‘I feel jammy to have you for a Mum!’Inside was printed Happy Mother’s Day, looking forward to seeing you next week, lots of love, Ben.’

There were no frills, no kisses and at first glance it would be easy to think that his feelings for me were less than those of his sister but this is the point where our understanding of our children comes in to play no matter how old they are ( and Ben is now 40). He has always found it difficult to express his feelings and shows his love in more practical ways. When we visit next week and stay to look after Poppy, our grandaughter, for a few days of her school holiday he will find many ways of showing his love and caring. He will take us for one of his favourite countryside walks, he has brewed a special beer for his step father, John, he will relax in his own home and each day we will hear a little of his life since we were last together, his new promotion, the work he has been doing on the house.

It would be so easy to compare my son and daughter and look only at the surface but no matter that I brought them up in the same way, they have become their own people and see the world from a different perspective and so I try to remember that when I am with them, to enjoy their differences and to value them for what and who they are and to accept that our relationships are good and supportive, meaningful and loving – just different!

 

mental health, Uncategorized

Tai Chi

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Just recently life has been out of sorts, there have been too many things getting in the way of the routines that make life so much better for me and today I was able to return to my Tai Chi class after a three week break and how much better I feel. When I took up this ancient exercise form a little over two years ago I never imagined what an impact it would have on my well being and peace of mind. For a whole hour I get to focus entirely on  the gentle flow of movements my body is making, the way I am breathing, the energy that I now recognise as it flows throughout my physical being. Added to that I am more supple, my balance has improved out of all recognition  and I have met some wonderful people.

So, my advice to anyone who has been thinking about joining a Tai Chi class wherever you live, is to go along and give it a try. For me it has been life changing; I have always been a person who dwells in the mind, finding it hard to switch off busy thoughts and so yoga was a complete no go as while my feet were in the air my mind was still whirring away. In Tai Chi, I am so busy thinking of the pattern of movements in The Form, concentrating on slowing my speed right down that my mind is taken away from its usual manic course. All the benefits are compounded by the peace and tranquility of the room, regardless of the number of the people attending and the combined energy released by  the simultaneous and identical actions of many is a powerful phenomena. If the atmosphere could be bottled it would be a potent stress cure.

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Monologue writing

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This very famous photograph by David Hockney of his mother sitting in the rain amidst the ruins of Bolton Abbey was used by my creative writing tutor as a prompt for a written monologue. Here’s my attempt at the exercise :

I’m here again, and it’s raining again. Strange how all my walks seem to end up here. You always liked it here George. Didn’t we have some good times? Do you remember the day we walked all the way here over the moor and were so tired that we had to catch the bus to go home? I can see you now stretched full length on top of one of those graves over there, lying in the sun with the map over your eyes while you had forty winks. You didn’t care who saw you but I was on pins, waiting for one of those guides to come along and tell you off. You were always braver than me.

Since you’ve been gone though, I’ve had to become braver. No choice really. If I don’t do things on my own I’d be stuck at home all day by myself. So that’s what I do; I get my things on, go to the shops, to the library for my books. I still enjoy a good murder. You can lose yourself for hours in a good who dunnit, and I’ve got plenty of hours to lose. And walks, I go for a walk most days even though I don’t have a dog anymore. Poor old Spot, he went last year. I’m too old to get another one now, wouldn’t be fair on the dog because it’ll be me next. So I walk on my own; I do all our old favourite walks and it gives me a chance to talk to you. Funny really, I used to get upset when you told me to stop nattering, but now that I can rabbit as much as I like, I do miss a reply, even one telling me to be quiet would be good.

Anyway time to go now George. The rain is clearing and the bus will be here soon. I’ll be back again tomorrow.

We had only 10 minutes in which to complete this; timed pieces always concentrate the mind!

 

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Spring is here

Most day we take a walk around the lanes surrounding the small hamlet where we live and this afternoon there was no escaping the fact that spring is definitely here in UK. The grassy banks are full of daffodils and primroses, the birds are singing as if their lives depended on it and everywhere one looks there are new green shoots to be seen, catkins hanging heavy on the trees and for the first time in what seems like forever, there is no need of woolly hats or gloves.

It is a very rural spot, an agricultural area where sheep take precedence in the fields and as we stood and watched the playful antics of week old lambs I could feel my cares and worries slip from my shoulders. It caused me to wonder just how so many people survive and even thrive in the rush and noise of city life. I enjoy a visit to the city like most people, a visit to an art exhibition, a touch of shopping, a fine meal and maybe a new play or concert but after 48 hours my whole being cries out to be back in the peace of the countryside. I love the fact that we have no street lights and our dark skies are full of stars, we have very little through traffic and a chat with the neighbours often takes place in the middle of the road. When we sit in or garden we hear little but bird song and the occasional rumble of a tractor. I’m certain it wouldn’t suit everybody as we are finding out whilst the house is for sale, some of our viewers have actually expressed a fear of being so removed from the bustle of 21st century life. We, however, are busy trying to find a similar location so that we can recreate the quiet life , just be a little closer to the rest of the family.

I suppose it’s a good thing that we don’t all like or want the same thing, but for me the countryside wins every time. If there’s anyone out there who can explain the attraction of city life I’d love to hear from you.

We created a website to tell people a little more about our home as we felt the estate agent’s description left out the more intimate details of life in a small Cornish hamlet so do take a look if you’d like to peep into where we live: www.think-life.org.uk