Tag Archives: Calm

Have you ever watched the clouds move?

When was the last time you lifted your eyes and watched the clouds drift lazily across the sky? Shadows, darkness and wisps of wonder traverse the skyline, slowly, heavily, lightly, fleeting mists.

When was the last time you looked up, and allowed the gentle pace of the clouds to calm your breathing, and softly nudge your mind to rest?

Have you ever watched the clouds move? Have you ever let them invite you in to a lazy, carefree space within yourself?

I watch the clouds move, and my heart grows calm. The noise of the world seems to dissipate, and all there is is what is in front of me, the moment that I am resting within, swaddled by these wispy, whimsical, gently floating dreams. I don’t see where they go when they move past the corner of my window….where do dreams go as they drift along?

In this vast universe there is a little window of time, of opportunity, of life, your life, and mine….will you slow your heart and mind for a moment to hear it, to experience and to live it, to allow it to deepen the wonder within you?

Have you ever watched the clouds move?

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The world can be a noisy place…try to find your quiet spot…

We live in a time when no matter how calm one’s own circumstances may be (and this in itself can be hard to come by), we are on an almost daily basis plugged into a stream of information via technology that tells us how chaotic the world in which we live is.

It’s almost unavoidable if you connect with society on any level. From small community groups with their own internal ‘politics’ to large scale international conflict there will always be ‘noise’ in the world. You might be sitting down on your own to have a quiet lunch break and yet the moment you log in to your online device you will see some news article or another with information that is difficult to know how to handle. Today we have news of Australian bush fires, missiles and conflict between the US and Iran and news of strife within the UK’s Royal family and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s decision to take a step back.

We risk ‘compassion fatigue’ and getting stressed out not only by our own, but also by other people’s problems.

The world, my friends, is a noisy place.

Do you find this yourself today? Are you aware of the fine balance between your own well being and being informed, concerned and taking action to help other people? There’s only so much that we can do, and it’s important to make a difference for the better in the world where and when we can. Our innate human compassion compels us. When we feel helpless we can pray, donate, get educated, advocate, share information. Many people like to get involved in discussions or take action and raise awareness where they can.

But don’t forget the balance in this noisy world. Some of you may be right in the midst of some of these troubles right now, and that is heart-breaking.  But wherever you are in this noisy world, it is important to find places of peace where you can. Seek Peace and pursue it. And sometimes the first and most profound step towards that is to be still.

seashore under white and blue sky during sunset
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A Mental Health Winter Survival Guide – Quick Tips for those tough days (5).

Grounding technique: keep a small, safe object handy for when you need to feel grounded. This could be something like a pebble or stone, something that won’t break easily, or perhaps some children’s ‘putty’ / play-dough that you can squeeze, or anything you think will help to ground you. Make sure that you can’t hurt yourself on it, that it doesn’t have sharp edges, won’t break if you hold or squeeze it, and that makes you feel calm when you hold it as a grounding object.

If you feel like you are experiencing anxiety, panic, dissociation, dizziness, confusion, intrusive thoughts or mental and emotional distress, use this object to help you ground yourself. Focus on how it feels to touch, what it looks like, observe it, the way the light touches it, its texture and so forth and focus intently on this safe object while calming your breathing. Keep it in your pocket or take it with you so that you can use this to help you when you need it. The good thing about a small object like this is that other people most likely will not even notice it in case you are worried about that.

Also, you can try the ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1’ method as a grounding technique where you focus on being aware of your five senses. Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.

Stay safe and well. x

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Winter Survival Guide (5) ~ Take a Break and Drink Some Festive Tea!

I’m a chai tea latte kind of a girl. Just saying 🙂

These seasons quite often not only get a lot colder, but become much busier as well. For a lot of us busier can equate to things being more stressful. However, all is not lost, as with the approaching winter season, coffee shops, cafes, tea rooms and the like all start introducing those wonderfully named and flavoured festive drinks to keep us warm, cosy and happy.

So don’t be afraid to take care of yourself and take a break. Self care is important all throughout the year, but during the winter seasons we can sometimes put ourselves last while trying to tick a lot of the boxes on our ‘to do lists’ while also trying to be charitable, helpful, get things done and keep everyone else happy.

A cosy break and a hot cuppa every now and then can do wonders. Especially with so many new varieties of flavours to try, it is the season to be cosy! Or even to sit in your own home on your own, with your family or a friend or two and sip a hot drink while eating some sweet treats and catching up or watching a film….or even, writing your amazing blog posts!

It’s also nice to remember others at this time of year, and extend a ‘cup of kindness’ yet as Auld Lang Syne. Maybe that cup of kindness could be in the offering of a hot drink to a homeless person out in the cold on a winter’s day. As we care more for ourselves, we also are able to care and give more for others.

So, what festive flavours take your fancy? Hot chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin spice, mulled wine, toasted marshmallow, gingerbread latte, or something equally exciting that I haven’t heard of before? Drop me a comment and let me know what your cuppa of choice is. Personally I think you can’t beat a good old fashioned tea, or chai tea latte (with cinnamon), or of course a good old hot chocolate on a cold winters day!

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Retreat Reflections – Day 3 (Part 2) ~ Shifting Gears…

12.30pm

At the end of a personal retreat, it’s important to feel rested and refreshed and ready for what lies ahead. However, the reality of that isn’t always the case, so I’m hoping that it works out for me by the close of today, as it’s onwards to ‘normal life’ at work in the office, tomorrow. Thankfully just a two day ‘work week’ (although I have been working hard on my novel at home).

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The approach I’ve taken over the past couple of days has turned out to be very productive for me. By 11.30am I was able to put away my novel writing for another day, note down a few ideas to research, explore and take forwards in between now and my next focussed writing session, save my work, tally up a total word count over the two ‘and a bit’ days to 6,369 words, back up my files and give thanks for a productive time. 

Retreats and ‘Couch potato syndrome’:

It can be hard to shift gears back into the ‘real world’ after a personal retreat. It’s therefore important to smooth out that transition as best as we can rather than expecting to be bright eyed and busy tailed and ready to go the next morning. 

Ahead of me ‘looms’ piles of unwashed dishes, a messy bedroom and other ‘to do’ type things. It’s only mid afternoon, but I don’t want to end my retreat feeling rushed, busy or distracted. I don’t want to end the retreat tidying up, I’d much rather ease into the evening in a tidy environment, a soothing atmosphere and have the time, space, opportunity and mental focus to reflect upon what I’ve learned, what I want to take forward, and to do some calming activities (such as playing my violin, doing some adult colouring in, working on my photography, reading, decorating my ‘planner’, being calmly prepared for work, praying, and generally feeling accomplished, relaxed, refreshed and rested, rather than anxious).

The big however, is that for the past couple of days I’ve been all but a complete couch potato. I went out for a short walk on Saturday afternoon after I had accomplished my writing goals, but yesterday I didn’t even get ready, and stayed in all day, sitting on my couch and typing on my laptop, interspersed with eating food of various sorts, and drinking cups of tea!

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Today therefore, although feeling like I have made progress creatively, physically I am experiencing a bit of couch potato syndrome. To overcome that I set aside a bit of time for the next ‘segment’ of my personal retreat, to help me to shift gears and actually get up, move about, and do things so that I can hopefully relax and do some light creative activities in the evening. I started to do some light exercise, using one of my usual You Tube exercise video series. However, even doing what is generally quite easy for me, was a bit of a challenge for me – I suppose my legs feel a bit ‘floppy’ after couch sitting for two days, and my mind is ‘in between’ creative space and physical action at the moment. We don’t always consider this dynamic when thinking about retreats, that there is a shifting of gears and adjustment required on the concluding day. Definitely don’t expect to do hours upon hours of focused work on your last day of retreat, and to feel prepared and refreshed afterwards. Get your best work done earlier on when you can more fully dwell in that creative space, and consider less to be more for the last stretch of retreat time. 

Another thing to consider is if you are a deeply creative person, it can be difficult to suddenly expect to go from one mode of thinking and being to another. For example, after spending hours writing my novel, if I had to suddenly switch straight back into work mode, that would be difficult for me – I would miss the experience, discovery and engagement of writing too much – which is why it is helpful to have other avenues such as writing my blog that mean it isn’t such a sharp mental, emotional and creative contrast, as I will still be able to express the creative part of me on a regular basis, even when there is no focussed retreat time. 

So back to easing out of the world inside our heads and computers, to the world around us. Leave a bit of time and space for you to do this on your retreat. Have an afternoon of gentle exercise, stretching, if unlike me you are dressed and ready for the outside world you could go for a walk somewhere peaceful, and maybe do your tidying in short segments of time while focusing on being present, noticing things creatively, or listening to something inspiring while you work – don’t fully reconnect with the outside world yet, especially online, this is still your time, and headspace, enjoy it, savour it, even as you gently shift gears.

Retreat Reflections ~ Day 2 (Part 2) ~ An exercise in connection…

Even when slowing down within the creative process, it can be that we find that we feel rushed within certain areas of ourselves inwardly. Part of the process of creativity is deep connection, and therefore we need to be aware that there can sometimes be a disconnect even when we slow down to write. 

I have been experiencing the calm of engaging creatively with my writing. And yet, I sense an inward restlessness, and so I am going to pause and take a break away from writing my book to exercise my sense of connection. 

It is quite simple, and is helpful for managing anxiety as well. Slow down, turn off distractions, and concentrate on your five senses, one at a time. 

Observe, notice, experience, feel, the following, if you are able:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can hear
  • 3 things you can touch
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Don’t rush through it. Don’t think of what you want to or ‘should be’ creating. If you like, play some gentle instrumental music quietly in the background to help you compose your breathing and concentration. Focus on your experience and enjoying being present in it. We can’t create the similitude of an experience well, if we haven’t first learned to live it….in and for itself.

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Calm amid Clutter: How to keep calm when decluttering and clearing out the messiest areas of your home!

 

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With spring just around the corner, many of us will be turning our thoughts towards spring cleaning, re-evaluating our homes, and seeking ways to get rid of the old as we welcome in the new, and how to make the most of our living spaces. 

I hope you’ve already joined me in my new Home & Lifestyle series based upon my theme and goals for February to declutter and ‘clean up my act’ at home 🙂 If not, you might find some inspiration from my last few posts, and may have some of your own inspiration to share with me. 

As yet, apart from the before and after pictures of one room that I have worked on, I haven’t got into the ‘nitty gritty’ of my process so far. However, I have spent a lot of today sorting, recycling, discarding and making a dent in the seemingly grand task before me. 

And I doubt that I’m the only one who has ever been in the midst of the process of decluttering and reorganising, who has felt those moments of ‘despair’ at the task taken on, especially when tackling the “stuff” that has built up over the years, stuff that we don’t even really know how it got or stayed in our homes, and yet stuff that seems to be clogging up our lives and living spaces in some way.

So for those of you who are in the same boat as me who also feel that they are close to drowning in that sea of “stuff”, and beginning to lose sight of how we’ll ever get out of this mess, here are a few words of encouragement from someone who is in that boat right now! 🙂

1. Firstly, have a vision of what you want and desire your home to be like. I have created a ‘wish list’ on Amazon that I add to with ideas of what I want my dream room (as I am working on a specific room that has become the ‘junk room’ just now, having already tackled and more or less succeeded with my main bedroom) to look like and contain. I don’t really have any real intention of purchasing any of these beautiful items at the moment, especially considering they wouldn’t be able to go anywhere until I have cleared out the space, but it is inspiring nonetheless to dream a little amid the reality of semi-chaos.  You might store inspiring pictures on your phone, or have a scrapbook or sketch book of ideas, or even blog about your home / living space dreams and goals here on Word Press for a sense of community and accountability. Or maybe you like a good old ‘vision board’ to kick start your imagination. Whatever it is, have something to aspire to in making the changes to save you from doing what I too often do by way of simply tidying up a bit, moving the mess about, or covering it up somehow!

2. Be sure to take ‘progress’ pictures, including before and after shots. I have already found this to be an encouragement as I mentioned in an earlier post when tackling a new area that seems ‘impossible’ and deflating to deal with to look back upon areas in which I have already made some progress. It really helps to think ‘well, I’ve done it before, so I can (and will) do it again’ – even if the how of getting there isn’t all too clear to you in the moment. 

3. Strategize.  Everyone has different ways of organising, and you’ll find what works best for you. However, I have found that starting with a particular room or area, getting everything out in the open so that I can’t escape it, and then categorising things into ‘like for like’ (for example bags with bags, shoes with shoes, books with books, etc) and create one particular named space to store and / or display the items of like kind that you have decided to keep (letting go is also part of the process if you have accumulated more stuff that you need or can handle, and letting someone else benefit from those items). You might like to create labels for those areas, and a storage solution or system so that they don’t just get heaped up and piled chaotically, but so that there is a place for everything and everything in its place. This really helps mentally if you are tidying a new area and see an item of a particular category and then can think ‘ Hey, I know where that goes, there’s a place for that!’, and then immediately put the item where it now belongs. I have sorted out my bedroom and created a system for it, and having done so, I have written in the back of my planner what each area of my bedroom contains so that having identified and named a system and locations of items by type, I can hopefully maintain things by knowing where there are and where they should go. 

4. This point is the one that I have been leading to, as it is so important to your sense of calm and motivation throughout the whole process. Have, create and maintain an area of your home where you are happy in your surroundings. Perhaps this could be your bedroom or living room, or if not an entire room, a ‘cosy corner’ or small space where things are ‘just so’ and where you feel calm, happy and inspired. Strive to keep this area just as you like it and clutter free, even if in all other areas of your home there is chaos. This is so important, as I am learning, due to the fact that if you are tackling large volumes of ‘stuff’, mess or items accumulated over the years, and especially if you have ‘hoarding tendencies’ (in which case, you might like to ask someone for additional support, guidance and accountability), this can be quite a daunting task and you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and / or self-critical. 

When you do find your motivation beginning to drain, and negative thoughts and emotions surfacing, go to your cosy and calm spot, whether that is a chair or a room, whatever you have been able to manage to carve out for yourself, and take some time out. Maybe you could make yourself a hot drink, watch your favourite programme, read a book, and feel just as you would desire to feel in that ‘dream home’ that you have in mind. Remind yourself of your vision, look at those inspiring visuals, encourage yourself with those before and after pictures if you have got that far and feel good about how far you have already come. Think about the strategies you have put in place and are learning about, and maybe note them down. Read articles or watch videos of other people’s ‘decluttering journeys’ and be inspired to know that there are so many tips and tools and hints to help you along the way. And take time just to breathe, relax, enjoy just being, pondering, praying and doing something entirely different that brings you enjoyment ~ for as the poem Desiderata wisely instructs us, we should enjoy our achievements as well as our plans. So amid all your hard work, remember to take a break, and find some real calm amid the chaos. You can do it!! 🙂 xx

Welcome to February’s Theme: ‘Home & Lifestyle’ :) ….From Clutter to Calm….Let’s Climb this Mountain Together!

Welcome back, friends. 

If you haven’t already read my earlier post on ‘January 2018 in Review’, you can find it here: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129815114/posts/2562 

So following on from that, welcome to February’s Home & Lifestyle Theme. 

I don’t know about you, but as much as I strive to keep things clean, tidy and under control in my home, things can sometimes get a bit out of hand, and that ‘temporary storing place’ becomes a semi-permanent dumping ground that establishes itself as the dreaded ‘junk room’! Seriously, how does that even happen? 😉 

I love beautiful aesthetics, I love colour, and things to be pretty and cosy. However, managing my first ever home of my own over the past five and a bit years has been a learning curve, for various reasons. If you are a regular reader, or if you have visited my blog previously, you may be aware that I have had some difficult years overcoming Post Traumatic Stress, Severe Clinical Depression and Generalised Anxiety Disorder…so at times it has been a massive accomplishment for me to manage to do even the simplest of things like washing a cup or feeding myself properly. Thankfully, by the Grace of my Loving God, I have persevered, sought professional medical help and treatment for the Post Traumatic Stress, etc, and been plodding on every day to improve the quality of my life from merely surviving to beginning to experience some stability and my own little pockets of happiness and self care. 

I don’t know where you are on your journey, your experience of life, or your current living situation. Perhaps you do not have a ‘permanent’ home, maybe you live within the confines of someone else’s space, possibly you even live in a mansion, a caravan or a ‘tiny house’ purposely built for a more minimalistic lifestyle. I’m not sure, but I certainly would be intrigued and interested to hear from you in the comments.

However, whatever our situations, we all have the common experience of having to manage and maintain our little patch on the earth. And this can be a struggle at times for those of us who are gradual learners in the fine art of organisation. And yet, I’m sure all of us, even those of you who claim to simply love your organised chaos and peculiar methods of madness in maintaining your systems that may be all but undecipherable to others 😉 …I’m sure we all find a greater calm emotionally and mentally when we are in a calming environment. Perhaps more so than we should do, for, as in another previous post, ‘Enjoy Your Mess, Enjoy Your Tidy’ it is important to seek to be calm whatever state or stage we are in, and to see things through realistic, yet positive filters. 

There is something about a place of order and peace where there is a place for everything and everything is in its proper place that allows our minds to contemplate and focus on the things we enjoy, be that listening to music, reading a book, spending time with friends or family and focusing on them rather than being distracted by the clutter of stuff we need to attend to, crafting or colouring or making models, writing your blog or reading someone else’s, or whatever that thing may be. 

And despite our best efforts to relax while we know that the dishes are piled up in the sink, or when there is clutter right beside us, it is a lot more challenging to quieten down that ‘little voice’ that nags us to sort things out – so that even in our ‘down time’ where we are supposed to be relaxing, our minds are still busy being affected to some extent by our cluttered or clutter free surroundings either boosting or diminishing our moods and the things we think about ourselves, whether rightly or wrongly. 

So knowing that we are really all in this together, with so much to learn from each other, and be encouraged in our shared learning and motivation, let’s embark upon this journey. I have already made a bit of a start, and will show you before and after pictures of the room that I worked on, but will also share with you the seemingly monumental challenge of tackling the ‘junk room’ that is still very much needing attended to.  I will talk you through the steps I took, and would love to hear your feedback and learn from some of you ‘pro organisers’ out there, for goodness knows, I need the encouragement to keep going with the task I have started!! 🙂 

So for the moment, here is a glimpse into what the next post may contain. Be calm, know that you are blessed, and all the best if you are embarking upon your own home and lifestyle projects too. xx

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