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.

Listen to your body, it’s smarter than you

Today I offer you a pause. An opportunity to reflect on your physical health.

Often we look in the mirror and we reflect on what we immediately don’t like; multiple chins, sagging cheeks (either or both), hair condition, spots, blemishes, too fat or too thin… and we tell ourselves we aren’t worthy.

Except today’s health pause it’s a little bit deeper. I’d like you to think upon your body as your home. The list of common body issues above (blemishes and hair condition) it the decoration. It’s the wallpaper and the alcove, it’s the initial impact that we see. Beyond that we add clothing, accessories and hair cuts – these are the home decor, where we may show a little of our personality, back to our home analogy and this is the cushions, the fixture and fittings and the paintings on the wall.

If you’ve ever purchased a house you’ll know that surveyors are more interested in foundations, in wall structure and wood rot…they ignore the appearance of the home and look deeper to see if the building is structurally sound. This is the level I’d like you to pause on. I’ve loved yoga since forever but in 2021 my practise has been redundant – at one point the mat that’s often in action daily got dusty. I tried several gimmicks and surprise surprise they didn’t work. My mat reduced to a corner of our home while I made every excuse not to roll it out. We (yoga and I) fell out of love.

That was until a few days a go. I’m not sure why or how, so we’ll go with the obvious ‘magic’ answer. I rolled my mat out, went back to an old favourite routine and I loved it again. It was like reuniting with a friend, the magic sparkled over the mat and it wasn’t a chore. I was back.

Once my magical yoga experience had ended, I tried again the next day and sure enough more magic shone over my mat and I. That said, I learnt a few lessons…I didn’t flow as well, I was rusty and it showed. My muscles ached after, easy poses were harder than usual and I realised I’d lost some ‘foundation’ strength…neglecting my yoga practise meant my house was a little crumbly in places. My surveyor wouldn’t be too worried but there would definitely be a warning clause on my home.

There is a direct comparison between leg strength and death. Ageing is inevitable (except if you’re Madonna) and the weaker your legs, the more likely you are to tumble…the more likely you tumble, the more likely you are to experience other issues…the human body really is like a Jenga tower and the better your tower, the better your future is. Looking after your bones, joints and organs is integral to how ‘well’ we can move and good movements means a better quality of life.

Nobody is perfect and we can all do a little more here and a little less there…as I said at the beginning, this post is a pause. What does your house need? Your intuition usually knows. Mine requires a little more water (a little less tea), yoga to be integral to my routine and a few more early nights. The great thing about bricks and mortar is they’re usually things we know we should / could do…if we could be bothered. If your actual home falls apart, you can rebuild…your body doesn’t always allow you a second chance and you can’t move house, otherwise we’d all live in Madonna’s body. Enjoy the pause and know you are worth the home improvements, everyone should live in their dream home.

Karma isn’t a bitch, it’s a mirror

Wow! You know when you are a collector of something and you have to have it…that’s how I felt about this quote.

I’ve always believed in karma. At times in my life I’ve relied on it being served to others, I’ve also had my fare share of stubbed toes in return for minor errors on my part.

However, I’m also of the belief that what you give out you get back and that the universe has your back. I also believe that good vibes create more good vibes, so the idea that each of us had our own hand held mirror of karma makes total sense. Perhaps next time you use the phrase ‘karma is a bitch’ be mindful that you are just calling that person a female dog.

Reflections can sometimes be hard to look at.We don’t always like what we see, or sometimes our own reflection doesn’t relate to how we thought we looked, the main reason I take so many dresses back to the store…4ft11 me can’t always rock a dress the way it looked in the brochure, on a taller friend, or even how I thought it might look from the hanger.

As humans we are quick to judge others, but often not as fast at owning our personal issues, the mistakes we make, the things we might do differently…it’s much easier to insult others than recognise issues within ourselves and set to work to fix them. If karma is a mirror I recommend you speak kindly to her, treat the mirror well and make her sparkle, after all who doesn’t want a life full of clarity and kindness?

Going with the idea that nothing can stop me

Quote Anon

It’s my birthday eve. Another year around the sun and so much has altered. My opinions have evolved, a year of memories to cherish and a few to discard. I began celebrations this weekend with those I love deeply, received gifts and cards with words of love scribed inside. I am blessed.

Birthdays are a wonderful way to reflect on your achievements, thankful in all you have and wondering what the next year may have in store? Will new people step into my life? Will dreams be realised, or will they evolve to new dreams?

As a summer baby my birthday gives me a half way mark prior to the end of the year, a time to check in, prioritise and reaffirm. As I dance in the final years of my thirties I know I care a lot more about those I do love and a whole lot less about everything else.

A few days a go I had some landscape gardeners come to price up some work for us, I couldn’t fake caring about pavement slabs? It’s a patio. I’ve never seen a patio and had the desire to have one just like it…so I let the landscape gardener pick. Im a huge fan of allowing the ‘experts’ to make decisions. We all have varied passions and strengths, we should allow each other to play to those strengths.

As a birthday eve present to myself I’m going to create some time this evening to bask in the year that’s just gone, light a candle, drink lots of tea, probably watch some Greys Anatomy (I’m addicted) and then I’m going to write a letter to myself. In the letter I plan to write down some dreams and desires I’d like to see come to reality in the next year and much like the quote this week suggests, I’ll then just make them happen, preventing limitations from stopping me and just do it anyway, or at the very least have a go! If I go with the idea that nothing can stop me and continue to careless about outside thoughts, perhaps I’ll succeed?

This blog will still be a part of my world, so buckle up and let’s get going, you can watch from the sidelines and if you’d like to join me, write your own letter and let’s go together with the idea that nothing can stop us.

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.

Better an oops than a what if

Quote Anon

I have a huge fear. It consumes my soul and often makes me take huge leaps, challenges and when other people step out of their comfort zone I like to run, jump and pliat.

The fear that eats me up, is I can’t live with a ‘what if’… when I was younger I dated a lad that worked for the BBC, at the weekend I’d often go to work with him and sit in a black box all day whilst he worked. Amongst all of the knobs, buttons, twiddly things and general sound equipment… was a giant red button in a protective casing, it called my name and said ‘push me’ at the time, the lad realised that this button was too juicy for my ‘what if’ fear and he let me push it…it stopped the broadcast for several seconds *sorry Radio Oxford. Once I’d pushed it I was never interested in it again…I’m that person that needs to push a button or two.

Last week a lovely lady on Instagram did a story that resonated with me, I private messaged her and asked her if she’d like to do a ‘live’ with me, simply because I wanted to talk to her, to engage, to inspire others. The plan was to chat for about 20mins at 7pm this Thursday. It sounds fun right? The great news is – it was, we hopefully will do it again soon BUT the truth was I didn’t have a clue what I was doing…I’m comfortable in the uncomfortable. I think it comes with age, with caring a little less about what others think and also by knowing that the ‘good stuff’ in life tends to not come when you are comfortable, it usually follows when you wonder ‘what’s if’ and act on it. It’s true that sometimes you get a ‘ops’ that follows. But it goes with the territory of thriving.

As I watched our live back there are a few things I’ll be altering next time, the biggest ops being that I didn’t speak for about 30 seconds whilst I pushed buttons, blagging to make the live work. That’s how we learn, I’m very much a kinaesthetic learning, I learn best my doing. Some people prefer to watch others and then replicate, to listen, to read…me, I like to jump in and try, even if it results in a few ‘oops’ along the way.

At primary school my parents were often told I talked too much and asked lots of questions, in that respect nothing much has changed. However, I wouldn’t change it, it forces me to analyse, to work things out and to improve. Isn’t that why we are all hear? I should probably add that personally my ‘leaps’ are usually calculated. I don’t take high risks with high ‘ops’ results…I don’t jump without a parachute.

This week I’m sure there will be a few more challenges as I avoid the inner voice that says ‘what if I had…’ and I’m sure an occasional ops will also follow. When was the last time you stepped, or leaped out of your comfort zone? If it hasn’t been for a while – this post is your sign to live a little braver, be a little boulder and smile a little more. *The smile is just for fun.

I’m too magical for your bullshit

Quote Anon

Where ever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you are wearing a smile.

Smiles go with all outfits, occasions and climates…they improve your wellbeing and overall health, it’s true! Smiling boosts your immune system, are contagious to those around you and according to studies women smile more than men, babies are born with the ability to smile and there are 19 different ‘types’ of smile. Who knew?

Today I’m encouraging you to dust off your ‘seeing the silver lining smile’, why? Today I’m looking at a rainy Saturday ahead, the grey clouds can make us feel low and bring productivity to a huge low. I know I have some ‘messy jobs’ ahead of me…bathrooms and 2 toilet cleans, fridge needs a wipe over, my sons homework needs ‘managing’ and we’ve run out of food, so a supermarket trip is required.

However, today I’m magical.

I’ve stayed in bed (where I’m currently writing this post) for two cups of tea and a long scroll through Pinterest *mainly looking at pretty things I don’t need nor will ever purchase. Next, I plan to tackle the bathrooms and toilets, I will then reward myself by painting my nails and pulling on an outfit that makes me feel beautiful (I rarely dress practically, comfy or appropriate to the weather) feeling good and accomplished I’m going to seize the day and get my sons homework done and dusted, this will need heavy bribery of cake and treats later as he is currently absorbed in Saturday morning cartoons.

I’ll come back and wipe the fridge shelves down (whilst listening to some vinyl for upbeat vibes), this task is never as horrendous as I think it will be and I’m already picturing in my head how pretty it looks when it’s clean…then to the supermarket, where I can’t tell you I won’t put items in my trolley that I don’t need, today I will embrace the middle isle and may come away with a hot tub, a frying pan and a face mask…the middle isle is a magical place of endless possibilities.

Today, I will seek out the magic in every task, I’ll look for the joy, I’ll reframe moments of bull shit with sequins, polish and glitter. Perhaps you’re thinking she’s fooling herself, the plan will unravel and the rain clouds will become thunder, alas this is how I live most days…of course I see and feel the shit moments, I can’t avoid the storms…but I get to choose how I feel in every moment and today is a magical, blessed Saturday of house chores, cake and smiles. Sign me up.

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?