Tag Archives: small stones

The plant (a small stone)

This plant sits silently in a shiny white pot. It’s taller than most of the people that pass it and the pot reaches head height. I wonder if the soil goes all the way down. The plant itself has long leaves in varying shades of green. Dark in the middle, with a lighter hue around the edges. Most of the leaves are shiny but some have cracks in them. The cracks have brown edges. The plant lifts this whole area between meeting rooms and changes it from a cold and clinical space to one that supports life.

*What’s a small stone?

Be  more

Be more

Be more

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my recent Give more and Do more posts! Thanks to all of you who took part in the Do more challenge I shared on Valentine’s day, there were some great examples of paying it forward among those who got involved….

There were a lot of people doing lovely things for friends – champagne bought to celebrate a new job, fresh bread rolls baked for dinner and a mood enhancing walk for a friend who was down. There was also some charity/volunteer work and a simple cheerful ‘hello’ to a stranger walking a dog, which got a big smile in return. It doesn’t take much sometimes. I was also on the receiving end of some love myself this past month – a surprise gift from a friend and a lovely compliment from a stranger lifted my mood on an otherwise stressful day.

To all of those who shared their love spreading with me, thank you! Whether you shared or not, if you spent any time spreading the love over the past month, that’s great! Feels good, right..? I’m sure there’s still plenty of love to go around, too.

This past week I have been thinking a bit more about what I’m doing under the Be more heading and, at the moment, it’s not much. I’ve had pockets of time when I have written some small stones as an exercise in mindfulness but it’s not been often and, if I’m honest, I really haven’t done anything else in this category. I certainly haven’t made time for those deep, lung expanding, life fulfilling breaths I talked about last month.

So, although I will continue to Give more and Do more throughout the year, this month my focus is all about Being more. In order to do this I’ll need to take some time out. It’s my birthday next week, and my gift to myself is time. Time to meditate, think, reflect and breathe. I might even do a bit of yoga. This means that I won’t be writing any blog posts here for a couple of weeks. I’ll still be around, I’ll just be a lot quieter than I have been this past month. I have mixed feelings about this as I often feel that I need to be busy, and that other people ‘should’ come first. I expect this leaks through in my tone, if not my actions, with friends and family sometimes, judging by some tough conversations I’ve had recently. So perhaps putting myself first will benefit them just as much as me.

How about you? How do you feel about taking time for yourself? What do you do when everything gets a bit much and you need to take a step back?

When’s the last time you let yourself… Be?

Be  more

Be more

Ginger beer (a small stone)

The ginger beer is too sweet, sticky. Not fiery enough. Not fiery at all. I drink it anyway, then look at the bottle.

The sink is reflected, shiny in the heavy bottomed glass. The sides are dull, sticky. I wash it to bring back its shine, the light shining through it once more.

*What’s a small stone?

Be  more

Be more

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!

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?

This leaf

This small stone was inspired by a challenge from Kaspalita at Writing Our Way Home, about the art of selection. It began as a poem about the park in the spring, then I remembered Kaspalita’s challenge and decided to forget the poem and just focus on one small part, writing whatever came to mind. Here’s the result:

This leaf

This leaf shines a brilliant green, reflecting the mid morning sun. It has a scar down its left side that leads to a dry patch – brown/grey and flaky. It looks like it would turn to dust if the wind picks up. Its so vibrant, so alive at its root but the life seems to drain away at the tip.