The unfed mind devours itself

Quote by Gore Vidal

A new week and time to remind ourselves that our brains need stimulation.

Feed your brain the nutrition of a Watsit, stay in your comfort zone and stop learning new things = brain mush.

Our brain is not only crucial for daily functioning but it’s what we use to make decisions and steer the course of our lives with, with each new turn of the steering wheel we create new neurone pathways and that gives us more options and allows us to flourish. When it comes to the brain, variety is not only the spice of life but the whole plate.

It’s very easy to sit in our comfort zones and as we get older, I suggest much like an old and loved couch, it’s becomes harder to get out of. This post is a moment to reflect on whether you need to do something new, go somewhere different, to take up that course you’ve always wanted to do. Perhaps you are well read and enjoy regular trips to the library, you may have not realised that you always read the same genre, or same couple of authors. This means you are likely to stay roughly in the same word count and in turn you haven’t learnt any new words or expressions for a while. Much like a child learning to speak, the more eloquent we are the further we can use language to express our emotions and to an extent, feel deeper. The same can be said if you tend to watch the same TV programmes, genre of films or visit the same websites regularly.

Part of my job as a behaviour adviser, is going into schools and observing children in classrooms. Boredom isn’t as rare as parents may hope. Whilst the bored mind can also stimulate imagination and innovation – in the majority of classrooms I’ve observed in, this isn’t always the case, it’s more likely that biros will be tapped, twirled, dropped and span. After a while, the bored mind becomes frustrated and antisocial behaviour kicks in, the mind devours itself in chaos.

The other thing a bored mind does is it has too much time, when this happens it fills itself up with fear and ‘what ifs’ – again, great for the imagination but not so much for in being / becoming a mentally well balanced individual.

A diet of fear, leads to a vulnerable existence and anxiety, so every now and then we need to take stock and reassess what our brains are digesting, food wise there are many awesome ‘brain foods’ from blueberries to nuts they can help increase performance. Exercise wise, the brain craves new environments, challenges and goals. However, one element that often gets forgotten is sleep. A good nights sleep allows the brain to process, reassess and much like a computer it turns on more effectively after it’s been reset. We may not grizzle like toddlers when we are tired (I think I do actually?) but it lowers our mood and our performance, which can effect how enjoyable we are finding the task at hand. Don’t devour your own brain, use it and manifest the life you always dreams of.

It’s ok for me to have everything I want

Anon

The internet seems to have made the world a smaller place. Access to trains, planes and automobiles means it’s likely you’ve traveled more than the generation before you. I was blessed with a better level of education than my parents (thank you) and my son has a larger variety of food accessible to him…more doesn’t always mean better. However, with expanding technologies and science it’s likely this choice to seize more opportunities will continue (…unless we blow ourselves up, which I always think is likely given some of our leaders brain cell capacities), what im not so sure of is that our mindsets have kept up with our progress.

Many of us stay in our lanes, only ask for things that we know are achievable within our level of status, financial remit, age, only going where those around us have been before…to an extent there is a common sense to this, it would be foolish to financially live above our means and find bailiffs knocking at our door, or perhaps to travel to places that we haven’t researched and find we have returned home with a tropical disease that we were ignorant to.

It’s ok for you to have everything you want (as long as it doesn’t harm others), balance allows us to prioritise and then reprioritise. With ebbs and flows we can have it all, just not all at once or all right now.

If we had it all, life would be dull…and often people who chase ‘the next best thing’ often find the gap of darkness still lurk within them long after they’ve bought the item home.

Perhaps we should be careful what we wish for, however this blog post is a reminder to actually dream, that you can manifest your desires, that you are worthy and that you don’t need to limit yourself to the ideals of others…one life, one century of fun…make it count, see the things you wish to see, spend time with those you hold dear, do that thing, go to that place, laugh, cry and stay up for the sunrise – it’s worth it and so are you.

Life is what you make it

Anon

Imagine if I told you that you’ve been selected to write and direct your own film. You may react by saying that you have no experience? I then go on to tell you that you’ll only get one shot at the film, we won’t have time to edit or reframe any scenes and I’d really like you to act in it, to be the star of the show.

By now you may be overwhelmed, with no experience in the industry that’s a lot to take on. I’ll then tell you it’s called ‘your life’ and hopefully you’ll smile and see the metaphor.

Each day, a scenario unfolds. Some days the drama is larger than others, be cautious – it’s the mundane moments that will pass you by the quickest.

There doesn’t always need to be a climax, action or plot twist…if there is always horror you may be doing things wrong? What you do have a duty to do in each moment is act truthfully, you don’t want to look back on a season where you lied to yourself or said things that weren’t true. It’s also worth speaking to the costume department too, sometimes we can get stuck in an era and it ages poorly on us.

You get to decide who features alongside you, you get to influence them and in turn they will advise you. Make sure your cast is faithful, funny and trustworthy…it’ll get you through the dark times easier and sometimes end with a smile.

….lastly, my film has already been ‘live’ for 14211 days. You can be cut at anytime and often you don’t realise it’s the end, so make the next day count, then the day after that. Each day is what you make it and you really do get to control so much of it, there is no dress rehearsal. Action.

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.

Quote by Robert Frost

In a literal sense, I’m probably the person who is likely to think on one hand this is great advice, on the other ‘it’ll be fine if we take that wall down, what’s the worst that can happen?’ and then live to see the consequence.

On a metaphorical level, this quote reminds me about boundaries. Of who I share my time, energy and make memories with and who I say ‘thanks for the journey’ and swiftly ask them to exit at the next train station of life.

Personally, I believe that some people (friends or family) are only meant to be with us for a short amount of time, they deliver a lesson, being joy or we learn from contrast and then we should release them, very few are wonderful enough to walk the whole journey with us.

Human fault means that we often hold on for too long, trying to recreate a relationship from decades ago. The crazy thing about this is that I am aware that events in my life mean that I am, like you, forever changing…so why we expect others to give us what we had in the past is insane?

Upon reflection, it’s worth evaluating your fences regularly…do they still serve the purpose of why you put them up? Do they bring support or perhaps they just block out the light…it which case, it’s time to let go off that particular fence panel.

Fences can enhance a space, walls can be healthy, in gardens and in relationships, but build them with solid foundations, maintain them and know when to take them down and when to strengthen them.

This advice works well for fences and people alike.

Once a year, go someplace you have never been before

Quote Dalai Lama

Dear Mr Lama,

Whilst it’s clear you are knowledgable, wise and a guru of the spiritual world, if the opportunity arises I believe that you should go somewhere new monthly, weekly…whenever you can! In fact, I’d say you should go out of your way to plan, create and make these breaks for joy and freedom. Travel is certainly something that until lockdown life hit over a year ago, I’d taken for granted. That said ‘someplace new’ can often be on your doorstep, many people live in the same village, town or city, all their lives and never explore the joys that exist a few steps away from their front door.

In lockdown we, like many families went on more walks than ever before, did I mentioned that we walked A LOT? We are blessed to live in the Sussex countryside but we found many walks we never knew existed, discovering abandoned railways, tunnels and even a camel that lives in our village, no joke his name is Jeffery and he reminded me why I wasn’t a fan of them when I went to Egypt…that are stinky beasts, that said it was delightful to find him.

However, the reason for me writing Mr Lama is that as much as I think you’re right and exploration leads to many delights, from a better education, deeper sense of connection, an understanding of new cultures, new foods and new and often better ways of doing things…I feel we should also big up ‘the old’

Often the places we always go, the food we regularly eat…it has a comforting nostalgia that brings its only joy – if we stop to notice it. Let me give you some examples; the smell of Anais Anais and Chanel no.5 reminds me of my Mum (yes I grew up in the 1980s), the taste of so many food and drinks remind me of my childhood include lemon drizzle, homemade rice pudding, dumplings in a stew, Ribena, Sarsaparilla, pie ‘n mash with liquor…

This evening we had a classic food from my childhood, boiled bacon with veg and pease pudding. Now whilst I won’t be writing a review for Master chef anytime soon, I wanted my son to try it. To taste the past and for him to flip this around and try something new… there is a magic in that, just as there is in exploring a new place.

This week, give thanks for the old, look for the new and seek joy in the present. The balance of all three leads to a enriched life. What foods do you still want to try? Where do you want to go and what smells, tastes or textures remind you of the past?

Find your flow or drown.

Quote by Whatmyfridgesays.com

An original quote that came out of a chat with a dear friend. Some people plan every inch of their lives, others float through life like a piece of drift wood…I believe that the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.

As always, balance is the key to surfing the waves of life. I personally find that when I make plans God likes to turn up with a tsunami and my life becomes a wipe out. However, its good to have some idea of where you are going, what you would like to achieve and perhaps watch the waves as they come in and select which you’d like to ride.

Another friend of mine recently spoke to me about how’s she is making a conscious effort to listen to her intuition, that inner voice that the world often tries to drown out. It doesn’t always lead you to the best wave, but often I’ve found it takes you to much smaller rewarding moments that build up for a more meaningful existence. I found this when job hunting, whilst I thought i’d found the ideal job and completed the application, that led me to an advert for a dream job that I wouldn’t have found where I was previously looking, its a little like a coast line – sometimes you walk a little further than you thought, find a cave, its leads to another opening and bam! Life gives you a private lagoon that wasn’t on the map and you couldn’t of planned to have seen.

The sadder side of the quote is drowning. In this instance I’m not talking about death, that’s at least has a conclusion. It’s seeing people walk around drowning it bad decisions, scared to move so the waves keep rolling in. Perhaps they ‘make do’ with a relationship they are in, stay in the same job because ‘its easy’ …. easy is arm bands.

Arm bands are cool, in the 80’s I had the standard luminous orange duo with a slight pink tinge due to the sun. They kept me afloat and were a lot of fun for splashing. My Dad even taught me to swim down to the deep end with them. I attempted a few dives but the arm bands got in the way, the edges scratched me and when I jumped in they did a fine job of repelling me across the swimming pool above the water, which isn’t the desired affect of a dive.

Dad made the bold decision to remove the arm bands…I was ever sceptical and had a logical fear of drowning. He then taught me to swim under the water. I loved it.

Don’t drown in life. I also highly recommend arm bands, but at some point you also need to move beyond them. If my Dad hadn’t of made that decision I would never have swam with Turtles in the Caribbean Ocean. I’d never of snorkelled in the Maldives or body surfed, Id never of felt the thrill of a jet ski and perhaps never tried parasailing. In the future I’d like to try paddle boarding, beyond my arm bands is a ‘sea’ of opportunity.

Where am I going with all these aqua metaphors? Well, to sum up we all need to take life or in this case the sea seriously. Its hazardous and the phrase ‘worse things happen at sea’ is true. BUT to thrive we need need to take risks, try new things and find our flow. Sure, every now and then we will need someone to throw us an inflatable ring, a life jacket or even alert the coast guard, but if we find our flow and take things as they come…we may just find joy in seeing how beautiful the ocean really is. If you are drowning, ask a friend or loved one to help you. Fish swim in shoals for a reason.

Roll with it

Quote from my Instagram page @fridgesays

It’s 1:20am and I can’t sleep, the unknown has taken over. I’m not panicked, I’m not particularly fearful but I’ve no idea what being a Teacher means. Just after 5pm today I like most of the nation expected Mr Johnson to shut the shop up on schools and was ready to bed down with my family and wait for the storm to pass, which if you read the headlines you may perceive as truth… to me he said much more.

He said “exams in May and June won’t be happening” that’s two years of mine and my students life that were made practically obsolete in seconds… of course they’ve learnt things that will stay with them, but I somehow feel robbed for them so close to the finish line. I truly adore my yr 11 classes and I’m not even sure if I’ll see them again? I doubt they will have a prom, perhaps in these times that seems superfluous but to those that have bought ‘the dress’ and dreamed of that evening they were robbed by a virus.

He said “schools will stay open for those that are vulnerable “ and my heart bled for every head teacher and headship team across the country…what does that even look like? How will that be staffed? What will we teach? How will we know who to prepare for…rolling with it seems vague and uneasy.

He said “we will baby sit the nations key workers children” and my profession and career goals became a blur. On one hand proud to serve my country in some kind of capacity (many thanks to the NHS and emergency services teams for all you do and will continue to do)… on the other hand that’s not why I teach secondary? Selfishly questioning why I should leave my child to help out another’s, worrying that by sending my son to school that I might expose him…where did the plan to wrap him up go?

I also know that this can alter again in the next few days, the dynamics of what was asked are so complex and a national lock down is coming our way but I wanted to write in this moment and capture these thoughts that have separated me from my pillow because I think it will be a huge shift in how we move forward, in my sense of purpose, in what Education is and looks like after this moment.

And then I laugh at the image that I honest created prior to the demand in toilet rolls and as I smile. I know it will all work out. It will be okay. I know it will be an honour to look after each and every child that comes through our school gates and I’m glad that the government is thinking about free school meals and the impacts on financially vulnerable families. I know that our priority across the world is our health. We will thrive and in my classroom we will learn what really matters and perhaps until now that was never on the curriculum.

#kindnessiscontagious

And like the moon, we must go through phases of emptiness to be full again.

Anon

Ive always like the solar system, science never really appealed to me at school but how can you ignore the beauty of the nights sky? The constellations, the history of how various stages of humanity used the stars and planets as guides, the heat of the sun, the planets lined up like Russian dolls hanging off of my sons ceiling…and the moon. By far my personal favourite, that smiling face of glow and delight that’s force pulls and pushes of tides and if i’m honest my heart strings.

Over the last few months I’ve been tracking the moons phases and can see patterns in my life where the moon is waxing and waning. Whilst I refuse to discuss the chaotic and perpetual negative cycle of fear we are currently being fed by mainstream media, social media and the miserable lady at the bus stop, this quote fed my soul in a way that those outlets haven’t and so I had to use it.

Amongst the depths of the dark we can appreciate the light of day. If we chose to discard the negative surface of fear, underneath we can see glimmers of hope, love and happiness. Stories of human compassion, pure kindness and this is what I’ve decided to put into my bubble. Where people see confinement and lack, I can decide to see the opportunity to be at home, surrounded by my loved ones. I can be thankful for the health of my loved ones and can offer help to those who I’m able to. Like the lady who had a four month old baby screaming and couldn’t find Calpol in any of our local stores…I offered ours, we don’t need it. She does.

Perspective is a difficult thing to see in the dark, but look to the moon for guidance. It allows us to appreciate what we do have, what experiences we have had rather than what we are yet to do. Contrast is a bitter sweet gift, but perhaps we are more like the moon that we realise? The darker times often inform the lighter moments of life and much like the cycle of the moon, it will pass and we will be grateful and full again.

Look after loved ones and do all you can for those at risk, above all be kind even in the loo roll aisle.

It takes grace to remain kind in cruel situations

Anon

We named our first daughter Gracie. It came from my partners love of Jiujitsu, the Gracie family (a surname) are inspirational in the sport and I wanted her to know she is fierce and strong. Grace in the dictionary means ‘effortless beauty, charm of movement’ and this part of her name evokes a softer and nurturing side, a flow of calm. The balance within this name seemed perfect for our first born.

Words have power, they signal clear intentions. However you may want to act or be, other people’s intentions and actions aren’t always in alignment with ours. This often can build hostile and cruel environments, where everybody thinks their way is the best. I’ve noticed it’s a common theme in the school playground and also most work places. Perhaps management or career focused individuals are pushing an agenda that isn’t concurrent with how you view the world. Perhaps your child comes homes with stories from the playground that makes ‘little Alfie’ who seemed lovely when he came for tea that time portrayed as a monster of meanness.

These events are frequent, we are all travelling on our own paths, overlapped by many people on there very different paths. You have two options – roll up your sleeves and show up on the mat of life (much like the Gracie family do), defend your beliefs and take any action necessary. Or you can step back, breath and proceed with Grace.

Much like a Swan, elegant on top of the water, floating with ease but paddling like crazy under the water I think this might be the solution. The Swan knows it’s a Swan, it seems to know it large and often holds its head up high, but the bow in the head shows it’s also humble. When needed it expands its huge wingspan and shows it’s physical power, but mostly it glides with grace knowing it’s self worth. Most importantly, a Swan never tries to be anything other that itself.

If you find yourself in a cruel situation, perhaps led by other people’s agendas. Take a step back and be you. Know your truth, glide and speak with grace…but be prepared to flap your wings only when it truly matters.

Happy swimming

Take notice of what the light does – to everything

Quote by Tess Guinery

My Christian name is Lucy and it translates from Latin to mean ‘light’ , when I was a child I had a key ring that said something corny like “you light up the room with your spirit and bring joy to all those you meet” whilst I’m not sure everyone I’ve met would agree it’s certainly something I think about when I’m in the company of new people. I try to sparkle, but it’s human nature to sometimes stick the dimmer switch on.

For me light goes hand in hand with life. In my mind I see biology lessons on photosynthesis and and the joy of brighter evenings in spring. I think of hope. Light also reminds me of truth; shining a light on the darker mysteries life can bring.

However, we all need contrast. Even this ray of sunshine Lucy needs her moments of dark. Too much of anything isn’t great. Paintings fade and plants dry out. Skin burns, life withers… that’s why I love this quote, taking notice of what the light does can mean truth, hope and love but it can also fade and kill.

Perhaps this quote isn’t about light at all. Perhaps it’s about recognising balance; when too much of a good thing becomes toxic or when too less is just as traumatic.

Life is about walking the fine line of contrast and experiencing the emotions that the good and bad bring, the light and the dark , it’s about playing in the shadows and please don’t forget all the many pigments in between. Diversity is rich when it is accepted and not divided.

This week take notice of what makes you light up, what friends make you feel lighter and also when you need the sanctuary of the moonlight, perhaps by watching the various spectrum that life offers you may need to whack on some factor fifty around individuals that burn like the midday sun. Whatever you do notice, Tess is right – act on what it tells you and you may just see a rainbow.