Sunday, 29 March 2015

M is for....March, Mindfulness, Minimalism and... Mountain

M is for Mountain: Moel Famau in North Wales

March is nearly over but just time for a brief post to summarise my current preoccupations, many of which begin with the letter M...

M is for Mummies.  This week I had a night out, a pub meal and rather too much red wine with the friends I made when we moved to our village.  My daughter was a 20 months and I'd left my job and all my social circle in Norfolk - I was afraid I'd be lonely.  But then I discovered Toddler group in the village hall: she found friends and so did I.  We spent the next few years going on outings as a group: Chester Zoo, the Ice Cream Factory, the little train in Grosvenor Park; it was a very happy time. The children don't see so much of each other now, but the mummies keep in touch and I enjoyed catching up.

M is for Marie Kondo. I've just bought this book which I've read about on other blogs.  My husband thinks it is hilarious that I'm buying a book about tidying up.  I'm hoping it will help me in my constant quest to create order at home and deal with clutter, something I find nearly impossible to do.
One of my mummy friends has a home which is perfectly clean and tidy at all times.  We make fun of her obsession with order, but there is a part of me that is envious

M is for Minimalism. I've been reading Clare's blog Just a Little Less for a few years now and like her pragmatic approach to living with less.  Her recent advice on how to involve partners is helpful though it's not going to be easy as my husband is a bit of a shopaholic, forever ordering online cycling clothing, accessories and all sorts of other stuff he doesn't really need.

M is for Mindfulness.  Along with minimalism goes mindfulness.  I need to tidy my mind of clutter too: stopping overthinking and worrying about past failings or future scenarios that may never actually occur.  And, again, I've acquired a book to help me, borrowing this one which offers an eight week course and a CD to help.  I'm starting this week. Let's hope no one else reserves the book before I complete it!

M is for Meditation. I've never had much success with meditation, a key part of  mindfulness. One evening, in a yoga class I attending. we were asked to sit as a group in the dark around a candle and meditate.  I just found it embarrassing and wanted to giggle.  But I'll give it a go if it helps.

M is for Mountain.  One psychological technique I am good at is visualising.  Except instead of visualising my future successes, I tend to vividly imagine bad things that might happen or things that did happen to others. I've blogged about this before here.  This week I was deeply shocked by the plane crash in the Alps, feeling particular empathy for the parents of those children who were returning from a school trip. I found myself creating a mental film reel of the horror inside the plane as it headed for the mountain.  Does anyone else do this?  It benefits no one and makes me sad, but I cannot stop myself.

M is for Moel Famau, a mountain in North Wales, not too far from here.  I'm planning to climb it this week with my neighbour and the dog.  I might even manage to drag the teenager along if the weather is good. Nothing like a bit of mountain climbing to get things into perspective and turn off my busy mind.

The last time we climbed Moel Famau was with some friends in 2009.  The Mr Grumpy T shirt is still being worn....

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Just another Manic Monday..

Routine day. That's what many of the entries in my one-line-a-day diary have said recently.  Our lives are dominated by routine and a secondary classroom teacher's routine is dominated by the timetable which establishes a very strict routine. The weeks pass by and all the Mondays begin with an A level class and end with a double lesson of year 9, which has been hard work recently as we are all weary and ready for a holiday.  And all the Tuesdays... So I feel recently that I have been a work-induced coma. (Thanks to Angel Jem's City Cottage for that phrase which describes exactly my present mood.)  I'm keeping going: turning up; teaching lessons; marking books. It's hard work at this time of the year - lots of dull examination paper practice, which isn't much fun for anyone.  And then there's the self-imposed tyranny of my routines at home: dog walking; washing machine filling; sock-pairing; healthy meal cooking.... There have been a few days recently when I've just wanted to crawl under the duvet and stay there.

Now I suppose routine is good: there is, at present, no major trauma in our lives to disrupt things; I should be thankful for what I've got etc.  But I don't seem to have the energy for anything else but routine obligations.  I've been wanting to see the latest 'Marigold Hotel' film but I reckon I'd fall asleep if I went out after work. I'm not even reading much.  Or writing this very often.  And I've had a range of minor ailments: sore infected eyes, a blocked ear and a nagging pain in my neck and shoulders which is aggravated by being on the laptop or reading.  So I'm feeling sorry for myself.

This morning the sun is shining and I'm determined to pull myself together.  I'm taking a break from the marking routine this weekend and am going to do some things to lift my mood.  First I am going to clean the house properly and tidy up - clutter is getting to me.  And I'm going to get out in the garden, do some digging and plant some seeds.  At least spring is well on its way now.  I might even get round to seeing that film.

And there's one routine thing I do for myself.  On Monday evenings, I go to choir practice.  This week we've learnt The Bangles 80's song 'Just another Manic Monday' which I've been singing in my head all week.  Very appropriate.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A Glimpse of Spring

I eventually got out in the garden this weekend to do a bit of much needed tidying up, pruning and lawn mowing.  Saturday was beautiful and I hoped more warmish days would follow. Today is damp and cold again though so I haven't got any further. I have enjoyed watching spring from my kitchen window though.  In the tall trees on the farmland behind our garden, lives a colony of crows. What is the collective noun for crows? A congregation? A caw? (Just googled and one of the alternatives is 'a murder of crows'.)  They have been nest-building and I have enjoyed watching them carrying twigs, twice the length of their body, which they are using to create huge structures high in the branches.  Not everyone likes the crows: they are noisy and the farmer occasionally shoots at them with an air rifle like my dad used to.  But they fascinate me and the noise is not that unpleasant.

I've also bought a new birdfeeder in the hope of attracting more small birds.  I filled it with niger seed which promises to attract a 'charm' of goldfinches.  Or 'a troubling', which is an alternative collective noun for them, though I prefer charm as I love theses colourful little birds.  Perhaps the crows are scaring the smaller birds away.  Is that where the name, 'a murder of crows', comes from, I wonder?