Monthly Archives: January 2013

Swimming (a small stone)

Recently, I went swimming on my own – i.e. without a high maintenance toddler in tow – for the first time in ages, and I really enjoyed the quality alone time this gave me. I had forgotten what a great exercise in mindfulness swimming can be. So, when I got home I decided to write a small stone* about it:

Swimming
Sitting at the edge of the pool, I look down on glass clear water, with dark blue lines drawn on the floor. The small of chlorine fills my lungs and I dip a tentative toe in. The water is ice cold and my toenails need cutting.

Slowly, I immerse myself and immediately lean forward and, the water lifting me up, reach my arms out in front of me, fingertips meeting in the middle. A school lesson is just finishing and there are two teenage girls at the deep end of the pool, chatting. They repeatedly use a rude word out of context and fall about laughing.The one with the blue swimsuit on appears to be teaching her giggly friend how to swim.

I glance at the clock, only five minutes have passed. As I change stroke, an older man, his chest  carpeted with grey and decorated with a small silver chain, arrives. He is prepared for the cold and dives straight in. Eventually we meet at one end and he nods for me to carry on. He breathes heavily and stretches out his arms.

After 30 minutes I stop to stretch and the girls are doing the same. They giggle over the handsome lifeguard. He seems to be oblivious. He has one shaved eyebrow and wears a gold watch.

The warm shower rinses out all traces of chlorine but the smell lingers in my nose. Outside, the cold wind bites my face.

Be  more

Be more

*What’s a small stone?

2013 – Give more. Do more. Be more.

Earlier this month, I posted a New Year blog, summing up the past two years. In it, I said that my future plans were pretty much more of the same. Well, they are and they’re not. I have some idea of what I would like to achieve this year and that is (kind of) more of the same… Lately though, I’ve been thinking more on how I want to be in 2013.

As you may have noticed, this blog carries the ‘strapline’ Writing. People. Poetry. This year, I’ve decided to try and live by three simple ‘rules,’ a kind of strapline for 2013, if you will. If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen it already:

Give more. Do more. Be more.

Give more. Do more. Be more.

Great, but what does that actually mean? Let me break it down:

Give more
In the past, my charitable giving has been sporadic. Sometimes I’ve given food to the homeless guy on the street, sometimes I haven’t. I’ve given a lot of text donations and supported friends’ fundraising efforts. I always put small change in collections boxes at till points. This year, I want to be more consistent. I plan to give a percentage of my earnings to two or three chosen charities, as well as do some kind of fundraising activity over the course of the year.

That said, giving doesn’t have to cost anything. I’m also a great believer in paying it forward. I used to do this all the time but lately I’ve been ‘busy.’ That was my excuse anyway. Now, I think that’s silly. Who’s too busy to smile at a stranger or help a neighbour carry her shopping? It doesn’t take much, really, to give more, which brings me on to…

Do more
I’m already ‘doing’ quite a lot of stuff. Over the past year I’ve taken on more since my son started nursery in March (you can read  more on my ‘About me‘ page and/or connect with me on LinkedIn) and as some of you know, I recently started writing a novel. If anything, I probably ought to think about doing a little less in order to do everything better. So, ‘do more’ in this case is more about…

Less Self, more Other. This is the theme of an art project, Acts of Kindness on the London Underground that struck a chord with me. I want to do more for others this year. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of generous hearted people around me throughout my life. These people have thankfully had a greater influence on me than the more negative relationships I’ve had and I feel blessed to know or have known these people. My life isn’t perfect but who’s is? I think relatively speaking, that I’ve got it pretty good and I want to reflect that back out into the world. I’ve started with some small random acts of kindness. This past week, for example, I’ve lent some yoga DVDs to a pregnant colleague and bought a small thank you gift for a friend who has done me a lot of favours recently. It’s not much, but that’s kind of the point. Besides, it’s really more about shifting my state of mind. As I am thinking more and more of others, I will automatically ‘do more.’ It’s part of who I am, when I’m not getting caught up in what I’m doing, which brings me to…

Be more
I used to look back to the past. A lot. This wasn’t helpful and it contributed to recurrent bouts of mild depression. I’ve moved on from this now and my focus of the past few years has been moving forward. I am now much more focused on the future and as a result, much happier in myself. But… What about the present?

I’m often so busy thinking about what’s coming next that sometimes I miss what’s happening right now. I can be playing with my son and thinking about a blog post I want to write when he naps… Or I’m writing that blog post and thinking about an upcoming work project… Or I’m walking to the shops and thinking about the next chapter of my novel. I’m sure many of you can relate. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about what I’m missing. I’m too absorbed in my thoughts to notice how stunning the twilight sky looks as I walk back from the shops. Too ‘busy’ to notice the old man  struggling to reach something from the top shelf in the supermarket but too proud to ask for help… Too busy to breathe – I don’t mean the kind of breathing that keeps us alive, I mean really, to stop. Drop my shoulders, inhale, hold it, and… Exhale – Really breathe. Too busy to just… Be.

I mentioned in a recent post that writing small stones helps me to practice being mindful so you will be seeing more of these this year. If you’re interested in small stones, you can find lots of great ones on twitter by searching the hashtag #smallstones. As well as this, I also plan to do more yoga, spend more time offline and just breathe. More. Better. Deeper.

So, that’s me. Expect to see more posts this year under these headings. What about you…? How do you want to be this year..? Do share your thoughts, aims and dreams below and let’s help each other to keep on keeping on!

100WCGU #73 – The piano’s notes

I’m back! It’s been too long  since I did a 100WCGU entry but this week I was inspired by the 100WC entries and decided to give the same prompt a go myself.

The prompt this week was The notes from the piano. Here’s my effort (below):

The piano’s notes
The notes from the piano had become more aggressive. They started off sympathetic; ‘ Sadie, I know you miss Steve, I do too… Perhaps we can support each other?’ But lately they were downright threatening. After a particularly nasty note, I decided to confront it.

It looked the same, innocent and inanimate. I lifted the lid and started to play. Nothing. When I stood up, the piece Steve had been working on fell into my lap. The piano played and the music overwhelmed me. Each note made me start to believe I could one day be whole again. It was the first time I cried.

100wcgu

Dead leaves (a small stone)

This month Fiona Robyn has once again invited her readers to join in with the annual Mindful Writing Challenge, by writing a small stone* every day for the month of January. While I haven’t joined the challenge for this month, I have instead set myself the challenge of being more mindful over the course of the year. The reason for this is that for me, being mindful for a month is great but then I’m likely to get out of the habit. However, if I resolve to be more mindful generally, it will hopefully become more of a way of being.

In order to try and ensure I stick to this, I promise to post at least one small stone a month on my blog. I may share more on twitter, and I may keep some to myself, as reminders to be mindful. Why not join me?

Here’s January’s offering:

Dead leaves
We stop to look at these leaves. They are brown, most of them. We reach out to touch, gently. I apply a little pressure and they crumble in my hand. He looks surprised and backs away. We return here, later and I notice that some of the leaves have retained a greenish tinge. He touches one of these and it crunches but does not crumble. He smiles.

*What’s a small stone?

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all the best for 2013. If you’ve made any resolutions, good luck with them! I hope you achieve all you dream of.

I’ve just been looking back over the archives and found that I didn’t write a blog post this time last year. I do tend to hibernate in the winter months sometimes. However, looking back to 2010, I wrote this post, in which I summed up the year in 24 words. If you’re wondering why 24 words, pop back to my 2010 post to find out about Meg Pickard’s Mayfly project.

So, as I haven’t done this for two years, I’ve decided to give myself 50 words (yes, I gave myself an extra two) to sum up the past two years, and here it is:

Birth. Baby. Joy. Post-natal pre-eclampsia. Loss of identity. Becoming ‘Mummy.’ Love. So much love.  Sleepless nights. Breast, Bottles, nappies…. Returning to work. Returning to ‘me.’ Starting a ‘Mummy’ blog. Watching baby grow into a walking, talking little boy.  Wondering where the time went. Starting a novel. Writing. People. Poetry. Family. 

Wondering about the past two years but can’t  be bothered to trawl through the archives? Here you go…

2010:
Wedding. Malaysia. Marriage. Completing a poetry collection. Career shift towards writing and coaching. Morning sickness. Baby bump. Learning to drive (finally). Believing. Doing. Being.

2009:
Poetry. Family. Love. Overcoming challenges. Tying up loose ends. Reconnecting with old friends. Getting engaged. Blogging. Starting to believe anything’s possible. Moving towards ‘anything.’

As well as summing up the past two years, I have also been thinking about my future plans. As it’s pretty much more of the same I won’t list them here but I will be emailing myself today via Future me, so that this time next year I can look back at where I am now and see how much I achieved (if anything!). I forgot to do this last year I’ve missed having that comparison.

How about you? How would you sum up your year in 24* words? If you prefer not to look back, then what are your plans for the coming year (if you’re happy to share them)? Please leave a comment below as I’d love to hear from you!

Have a New Year cupcake with me!

*Oh go on then, have 50 if you need ’em 🙂 If you write a whole blog post be sure to post the link back here so that I can have a read!