Resolution 2

Supposedly needed for meditation but I find candles distracting.
Supposedly needed for meditation but I find candles distracting.

My second New Year’s resolution was to meditate. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for years. Yes – years, which says a lot about my determination to change myself, my will-power and my organisational skills.

It started when I watched a programme/documentary about Beatle – George Harrison. Now, George was well into Hinduism and, apparently, could meditate for hours at a time. Imagine that! To be so focused, to have so much self-control to clear your mind and just be.’Right,’ I thought. ‘I’m having a bit of that.’ Except I didn’t. Then, about six months or so ago, a friend of mine was telling me all about the positives of meditation. How it made her feel calm and allowed her to think more clearly. ‘You should try it,’ she said. ‘I will,’ I said. But, of course, I haven’t.

I may not have been meditating but I have been reading. I’m a reading junkie. I’ll read just about anything and one of the things I have been reading is glossy women’s magazines (I love a glossy!). This month’s edition (which is actually February’s edition. Why do magazines do that? It’s like the all live on a different timeline to the rest of us) is, unsurprisingly given the time of year, all about New Year, New You (in a February edition. I missed the January edition. It was probably about Christmas) and one of the articles is about meditating. Now, I don’t believe in destiny or fate, just in coincidences and I guess January (or February in magazine land) is a time when we all are feeling a bit strung-out, bloated and tired after the festive excesses so it makes perfect sense to have an article on meditation. It was not, in any way, the gods’ or heaven’s or any other spiritual beings’ way of telling me to get my finger out and give it a try. Not in any shape or form.

So I have. And, it was difficult to try to not think and just let thoughts wash over you. But it did make me feel a little calmer, a little more relaxed and have a little more energy. And, difficult though it may be, like most things practise makes perfect. So that’s my second New Year’s resolution – to keep on practising and make time for my mental health. I’m not sure if I have three hours to spare in a day though…

 

Resolution 1

Steamed veggies again.
Steamed veggies again.

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I can’t actually remember the last time I did. They’re too easily broken and I think the reason for this is that people aim too high. They want to make monumental changes that require a ridiculous amount of time and energy to become a person that they think they should be –  some mythical, perfect creature that just doesn’t exist. There’s no wonder people can’t keep this up.

However, this year, I have decided to make a couple of resolutions. Not ones that see me transforming magically into the perfect mother, wife, friend and daughter. That would be one hell of a long list of resolutions to make. Instead I’ve decided to keep things simple by choosing resolutions that don’t require that I put too much effort in and, more importantly, that I’m going to enjoy. Resolution number 1 is to be more adventurous in the kitchen. And by this I mean cook more (shame on you!).

Now, I do cook. We’re not a family that lives on fast food or processed foods. But what we do tend to eat the same meals on the same day of the week ‘Hooray, it’s Wednesday – that means it’s spaghetti!” shout my daughters. And there’s the problem, right there. Two very fussy children whose diet, whilst being quite healthy, is very limited due to the faddy nature of their taste-buds. They never used to be like this. They used to eat anything I gave them until they hit the terrible age of 2, then it all changed.

Previously loved foods (cheese, grapes, tuna pasta bake etc. The list goes on and on) were suddenly rejected at an alarming rate. I tried all the things you’re supposed to do in this situation; cook together, eat with other children, don’t give them anything else until you starve them into submission, but none of it worked. Battles of wills and tears (on both sides) over food is upsetting for everyone concerned so I did the only think I could think of – cook them the foods they liked in the hope that some point in the future they’d get over it. They haven’t yet.

This state of affairs has meant that the four of us has been eating  roast dinners, Spaghetti Bolognese, salads and fish in an alarming circle of regularity for years. But not this year. I’m going to try cooking new and exciting things and if the girls don’t like it tough! I’m going to make a stand in the kitchen and drag them kicking and screaming into a world of unexplored tastes and smells. Well, I’ll probably have some fish fingers on stand-by.

 

January Blues?

20150105_105129This is, if I’m not mistaken (which I could well be), my 100th blog post! A big milestone for me as I’ve never been known to stick at anything for long. In fact, I’ve not really stuck at this blog as much as I would have liked – hence the year or so with no posts. But that’s all in the past, like 2014. As I’m still recovering from the Christmas and New Year excesses, I’ve decided that tomorrow will be the best day to officially start 2015 with a spring in my step so have dusted off an old post on my take on January – that traditional month of doom, gloom and the blues. Enjoy x

(Taken from my post ‘A polar bear with red eyes…’, written January 2013)

I try not to over indulge over Christmas and New Year, but I still manage to eat and drink more than I usually would. Added to the mix is inactivity. Festive TV specials and dramas, playing with the girls’ new toys (with the girls of course), visiting relatives always leaves me feeling sluggish, inert and brain dead. That’s why, when the girls returned to school this week, I decided to go out for a long, brisk walk to blow the cobwebs from my poor bruised, leaden body.

I’m lucky enough not to have to go too far to reach a bit of a quiet spot, a haven. The weather was surprisingly mild for January and I didn’t have to get decked out in my scarf and hat. As I walked past the skeletal trees and gothic piles, I thought how good it was to breathe the fresh air into my lungs and feel my heart pumping. I liked the feeling so much that I picked up the pace; walking faster and faster until I developed a stitch. In a perverse way even this felt good. The pain reminded me that I needed to take care of my body as much as my spirit.

And my spirit was working overtime. Thoughts and ideas were darting in and out of my head like swifts in the summer. I tried to quieten them down, banish them even, because I just wanted to enjoy being outside. I didn’t want to focus on anything at all. I once read a book by Roald Dahl (I can’t remember which one) that said “Don’t think of a red-eyed polar bear.” Of course, all you can think of then is a red-eyed polar bear. And the more I tried to clear my mind of every little idea, random thought and niggle the more I found myself thinking of them. In the end I just succumb to it all in the hope that eventually they would leave me alone. They did and I was free to enjoy the rest of my walk in peace.

When I reached home I felt content and happy, and that got me thinking to how we always see January as the ‘blues month’. The month where we’re skint, run down, and fed up after the excesses of Christmas and by the winter weather. But actually it’s not like that at all. It’s the month where we take a long, hard look at our lives and mentally set ourselves the goals and challenges to change. And even if we never achieve these aspirations, in January we feel that we can. That it will be different this time, and we will see those projects through to fruition. It feels pretty damn good when we do this, and for a fleeting moment we feel contentment. So I propose we rethink our attitude towards dear old January. It should no longer be known as the ‘January Blues’ but as ‘January Optimisim.’