I did it! 31 posts in 31 days! It’s been a great experience. I’ve found some fantastic new blogs to follow, and met some lovely people. Posting daily has also been a way of making sure I am taking some time out just for me, using my brain and entering another head space for a little while, which is a very healthy thing for a stay at home mum to do!
During this past month there have been some tough times, and I have been experiencing some very conflicting emotions. Some of my Blogtoberfest posts have referred to these difficulties. I’ve found that working through my thoughts so that I can get them into something semi-coherent for the purpose of my daily post has also had the side-effect of helping me to figure out what is going on in my heart and in my head. The quote pictured (link to source here) conveys what I am trying to say, although having read the sonnet itself, that’s not the intended meaning. I’m not agonising over finding the words to express what I’m feeling or searching for a writer’s muse. But I have found this past month that looking into my heart and writing has been extremely cathartic on the more difficult days.
I’ve always been a very sporadic blogger, but I have gained so much from my Blogtoberfest experience that I am inspired me to keep it up this time, for the above reasons and more. Primarily I want to make sure that I continue on my Mindful journey and my blog helps me to do that. Blogtoberfest has taught me that just the act of writing itself can be a positive, cathartic and rewarding experience too.
Blogtoberfest 2012, 31/31
Toward the end of the week before last I challenged myself to manage just five minutes of meditation for seven consecutive days. Alas, it did not go well. Days 3 and 4 didn’t even actually happen and by Day 5 it was abundantly clear that independent meditation was not working for me. Or I was not working for it? It’s only five minutes, after all! Day 6 I managed but Day 7 was forgotten as Life got in the way once again. In my defence we have had a lot going on at home in addition to my being almost 36 weeks pregnant and in sole charge of a very energetic and willful toddler for the best part of most days. Perhaps this is not the best time to begin my meditative journey? And yet, I believe that the coming weeks and months are when I am most going to need it. Quandary!
We have a tendency to think that meditation is something we’ve got to achieve, another thing we‘ve got to do and get, but Ajahn Chah would put it in terms of a holiday. Try that, try seeing meditation in that way.
The author also suggests that meditation can be seen:
… as awakened-ness and awareness, mindfulness, so that it actually is something you develop throughout your daily life in whatever way you have to live it, in whatever conditions.
This seems to be a much more constructive and indeed manageable approach to take. I’ve decided that I do really, really want to try to start meditating with at least some regularity and that guided meditation is perhaps a better idea for me right now. Some soothing music and a calming voice telling me what to do and when my time is up sounds appealing. I don’t have time to conduct extensive research at present so I am just going to go with what Spotify gives me and see how I go. Anything that gives me a little oasis of calm and helps me to recharge at least every day or two would be most welcome!
However, as suggested in the article mentioned above, I’m not going to put pressure on myself and have meditation on my list of Things To Do. I’ll do the guided stuff as and when I can, and then rest of the time I’ll just focus on being Mindful and practicing exercises I have read about that suggest that even small daily tasks such as doing the dishes can be approached as a minor meditation by just carefully noticing and appreciating every tiny little aspect of the process – the smell, sounds, feel of the action being undertaken. Manageable goals that will hopefully be enjoyable and beneficial. No pressure!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 30/31
I have always loved to read, and since ditching the television I am of course finding the time to read more, which is wonderful. I’ve found that my tastes have changed a great deal in recent years, a natural progression I am sure, given that I am now in my late 30s, and at a different stage of life, as a relatively new mum. Gone are the days of being sucked into a Jane Green or a Marian Keyes for relaxation – for some reason the old style chick lit just doesn’t hold my attention the way it used to. I’ve always mixed the chick lit with the more highbrow stuff, both have their time and place. Nowadays, however, my “chick lit” seems to be a good Joanna Trollope, which is a bit worrying – can I really have reached that stage?!
Whilst backpacking in Southeast Asia a couple of years ago I discovered many new authors in the book exchange stores and guesthouse swap shelves over the seven months or so we spent wandering around over there. Choice can be quite limited so you’re forced to try books you might otherwise not consider or even come across, which is a great thing. For example, I read all Wally Lamb’s novels and loved them. I also read George Orwell’s Burmese Days, while in Burma. It was incredible to go up into the hill station outside Mandalay and actually see all the colonial houses, the clubhouse, places Orwell probably visited during his time as a police officer in Burma. During that trip I also read J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun, reread A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, and worked my way through several other novels set in colonial times in places such as Singapore and Malaysia.
On many occasions during that trip and during a previous extended stay in Southeast Asia, and particularly when visiting Burma, I felt ashamed and embarrassed to be British. I am no great expert on all the historical details of the time, but it seems clear that the British took everything they wanted and more, and left broken countries in their wake when they departed. Not to mention the abhorent, inherent arrogance and racism of Empire. However, I have always had a fascination for Merchant Ivory type films and novels about the British Empire and there was something so special about reading about those times in their proper settings.
I haven’t read anything of this nature for a couple of years now – motherhood does tend to limit one’s concentration span and free time I have found! – but last week in the library I happened upon Bone China by Roma Tearne, which is set in Sri Lanka (where I have not yet been) in the early 1940s, as the British are preparing to depart. I find I can really disappear into this novel, which is wonderful, escapist relief, and much appreciated particularly at the moment when I am having some issues sleeping and relaxing. It is also a thousand times better than watching mindless nonsense on the telly to wind down! So, I am now compiling a list of similar titles to get from the library and I plan to escape into the days of Empire as much as possible in the few short weeks left until my daughter is born. If you have any suggestions, please share!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 29/31
I realised this morning that sometimes when I wake up and open the blinds, I only notice the hideous Colorbond fencing. Other mornings I see beyond the harsh, solid steel and take in the beautiful rainforest mountains in the distance, and the wide blue sky. It’s all a matter of perspective. This morning was a Colorbond morning. As I lay there feeling emotionally tired and overwhelmed before the day had even begun, I finally remembered that I have a choice. I can’t change our current circumstances but I can choose how I react to them. I can choose to try and see the rainforest and not the Colorbond.
I’m struggling a lot at the moment (I don’t mean to be mysterious, it’s just that our family business is not mine alone to share, it wouldn’t be right). There was a lot of conflict in our house last night and I realised this morning that the bigger picture is not going to change. We’re going to have to get through it as best we can. And I can choose how I do that. I can stop worrying and worrying about what is going to happen in the weeks and months to come (and consequently not sleeping, which is not good for either me or the baby, especially so close to birth); and instead I can just stay in the present moment. Be Mindful. Make the most of the good little things, take it one day, if necessary one hour, at a time.
So, we went out very early to the markets, the three of us. There were delicious cupcakes and bratwurst for brunch, gorgeous fresh fruit and veg to bring home. We walked on the harbour wall, and then down on the beach. I watched my husband and Miss M chasing about in the shallows, and I focussed on that moment, and only that moment. The two people I love most in the world, laughing and smiling. I am making today a rainforest day, and when the Colorbond comes back I am going to take it one step at a time.
Blogtoberfest 2012, 28/31
I came across this quote by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh in my newsfeed this morning (thank you, Writing Our Way Home). Wise words that gave me a very welcome focus when I woke up wondering how I was going to get through the day. I’m tired. But today is our family’s Friday, so come 5.30pm our weekend will begin when my husband gets home from work. He’ll share the load, we’ll chill, and come Tuesday (our Monday) I hope to be back on top.
I couldn’t help but smile when my daughter ran into the bedroom chattering away this morning after she had breakfast with her Papa. She is talking more every single day, it wonderful to see her grow. I’m finding it a little more difficult to breathe at present because Miss M’s little sister is also growing, and not leaving much space at 35 weeks for my internal organs! So yeah, I need to go slowly, and that’s ok.
We’ve been TV free for 3 weeks now and it’s going just fine. Yesterday my husband had to take Miss M to work for a few hours though so that I could rest, and that couldn’t happen again today, so I must confess that I succumbed to the wonders of ABC iView and allowed Miss M to watch Sesame Street on the computer so I could have a little much-needed down time. First screen time in 3 weeks, she was transfixed and thus…quiet! Given the last few very rough days, emotionally and physically, I’m not going to beat myself up about a lil bit of Elmo on a Saturday morning to keep me and this baby inside healthy and calm. Tomorrow is another day!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 27/31
Without going into detail, as a family we have some stuff going on right now that is making a grateful post pretty tough to write this week. When faced with impossible, heartbreaking choices that simply cannot conclude in that ever-sought-after “win-win” outcome, it can be very hard to see any light in things at all. However, it is true that we always have something to be grateful for no matter what, if we look hard enough; and if nothing else hard times like this force one to strip things back to the very basics of life – the most precious things.
As such, this week I am grateful that my little family has a safe home and food on the table, both luxuries for so many. And I am grateful with all my heart for each day that I wake up to a healthy toddler, a healthy unborn daughter, a healthy husband; and that I am, today, in good health myself.
Blogtoberfest 2012, 26/31
”Close your eyes, mummy! Close your eyes!” – what so you can poke me in the eye again?! “I going in here and I close the door, mummy” – no, you’re not going to play with the toilet brush again, what do you take me for? “Poo poo, mummy! Poo poo!!” …where??!! Ohhhh but I am exhausted! 35 weeks today, B-day three or four weeks tomorrow, which means husband on hols from two or three weeks on Saturday. BRING IT ON!!!
Exhausted laughter had turned to tears by this afternoon for both me and Miss M, however. Fortunately her Papa was able to get home a little early and he sent me to bed with a book, to which I added a large mug of Twinings Prince of Wales tea and two Mr Kiplings mince pies while he took Miss M outside to water the garden. First mince pies of the season! Still feels all out of whack despite that it will be our third christmas in the sun, I just don’t get that chrissy vibe out here – but yeah, for medicinal purposes they were most effective today!
Meditation update: started the day with my five minutes as I was awake looooong before anyone else (*sigh*). Husband came in to find me crossed-legged, palms upturned on my knees, eyes closed. “Oh. My. God”, says he, “What are you doing??”. He’ll get used to it – and be very glad of the benefits in time, I am sure!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 25/31
I am not very good at this meditation lark! Day 1 I really struggled to focus. “When your mind is like a crazy elephant trampling everywhere, what hope have you got of peace and contentment?”, said Sogyal Rinpoche on the first day of this year’s Happiness Conference in Sydney. I have an elephant or two in there I reckon! Day 2 was a little better, and I actually felt quite energised afterward. Days 3 and 4 did not happen. Monday is our Sunday due to my husband’s work. I usually have a very precious morning “off” and do some bits and bobs in town or meet a friend, and then in the afternoon we have more family time. Meditation was forgotten. Not very Mindful of me!! Yesterday was not a great day for a variety of reasons and between Miss M being sick in the morning, not napping in the afternoon and then some family issues to deal with into the evening, meditating was either not possible or last on the list.
Today I vowed to prioritse things better. After taking care of Miss M’s needs, meditation needs to come first if it is to work, I understand that. I was pleased that after 4 days with no nap, Miss M finally gave in and fell asleep on the way home from playgroup this morning. Instead of putting her to bed and then immediately rushing around hanging out laundry, tidying, and consulting to do lists or having a quick look at my Facebook, I laid her down and did my five minutes of meditation immediately. I am still struggling with my elephants! Somewhere I read that you’re supposed to let the clouds (thoughts) just pass on by, one by one, accepting them and letting them leave without pondering…I found myself wondering if the naan bread in the fridge is past its date, should it go in the freezer?, amongst other meaningful and most crucuial thoughts. Oh dear.
I do find that physically it feels good to let the tension leave my body and just breathe deeply, even for just those five minutes, so I guess that’s a start. However, I think I need a more structured approach than just sitting on my own with one eye on the book for the affirmations and one on the clock (can I seriously be only one minute 36 seconds in??!). So, I will complete these seven days and then start looking for some audio stuff – I think guided meditation would be better for me. But at least I’m on the path 🙂
Blogtoberfest 2012, 24/31
Sun has gone down on a long day. Miss M has dropped her day nap it seems (day 3) and has also been unwell today; and we have important family stuff to discuss this evening. Blogging last on a loooong list, so for #23, in a spirit of optimism that I don’t quite (yet) feel:
Blogtoberfest 2012, 23/31
Short but sweet for #22 as we had a power outage most of the day. Thanks to Writing our Way Home for introducing me to Sharon Salzberg – a timely find for me in the WOWH Facebook newsfeed this morning:
Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it ~ Sharon Salzberg
Blogtoberfest 2012, 22/31