In big trouble …

I think I’m pretty good at multitasking.

I can spin many plates and find ways of keeping nearly all of them up.

I love the challenge of just keeping things moving.

I do lists.

I tick off list items.

I add to the list.

I tick more off.

I make calls, I text, I write letters.

Lots of them.

But give me a book and I’m in big trouble.

I can only read in silence.

Without distraction.

The TV and radio must be off.

The cats must be asleep.

And not snoring.

The guy slamming his car doors outside my house needs to behave.

The boy racer trying to hit 50 mph down my residential road needs to grow up.

The postman needs to leave the large package he cannot get through my letterbox, despite a number of noisy attempts, on my doorstep and gently post a note telling me.

I just lose myself in the book.

Almost any book.

It’s a form of mindfulness.

It’s certainly spiritual.

A complete transportation into another world.

Lost in space.

Literally.

I’m not giving up on books.

Oh no, that’s not going to happen.

I’d just like the world to become just a little bit quieter…😎

Filling Time? No ….

It was time for my 6 monthly dental check up.

I used to have a morbid fear of dentists until my 6 year old son asked me, way back (he’s 38 now) why his teeth were checked but mine weren’t.

Then my son called me a wimp.

Not sure who taught him that word.

But it worked.

I got straight on the phone and booked that appointment but that’s another story.

Watch this space for that post.

I’ve been going for my 6 monthly dental check ups ever since and I’m calm.

I speak to my dentist about golf, about yoga, about anything.

He’s a really smooth guy.

Charismatic, great sense of humour, you know what I mean.

My wife loves him.

I’m sure she eats sweets so she has more visits.

He shakes my hand when I enter his consulting room.

He smiles.

He is genuinely interested in how I am doing.

The examination is comprehensive but quick.

“You’ve taken my advice about using that electric toothbrush” he smiles.

I try to smile back with a mouth full of dental mirror and half of his hand.

After the consultation I gave him some advice about his nagging backache (I asked him how he was doing, of course!) and told him to try yoga.

In 6 months time I’ll check whether he has acted on my advice too 😎

I’d never thought, all those years back, that I’d look forward to an update with a dentist.

He’s that good…

How did I miss them? …

I’m not sure I really noticed them in the past.

In fact I know I didn’t.

It was only when I started my walks that I was completely overwhelmed and totally fascinated by them.

They were everywhere.

In all colours and shapes.

Changing with the days, the weeks, the seasons.

I’m talking about trees.

I love them.

What a history they tell.

How beautiful they are.

When I see the sun reflecting through the leaves, changing by the minute, I could watch them for ages.

My friends even post tree pictures on social media and specifically tag them to me in a lovely “saw this and thought of you” way.

After I got past my “how did I miss this?” phase I realised I was just rushing too fast in life and missing the journey.

Almost everything on my walks became amazingly fascinating.

The photo in this post is of a local tree I’ve been trying to capture for ages but my timing has always been wrong.

One afternoon last week, driving home, I saw it but couldn’t park anywhere near it.

So I went home and did the long walk back to it and thanked it for not shedding its leaves while I parked up!

In a previous life I suspect I was probably a tree…. well that would be my choice if I had any say in who or what I was 😎 …

I can do scatty …

My friend Terry asked me, a few weeks back, to help him clear out his garage and today was the day.

His wife Sue offered to keep me topped up with cups of tea.

No contest, I’m there.

Haven’t seen Sue for a while so it was nice to catch up with her and her new, 8 month old, mixed brown and white dog called Cookie.

As I entered their house Cookie barked and growled.

I kept calm and sat on the settee but she still barked and growled at me.

I’ve had dogs in my life before so I just chose to ignore her.

No eye contact, no sudden movements.

“She doesn’t like people that much” said Sue, making me feel a little better.

I still kept ignoring her as she bristled and barked and growled.

I’ll just blend in, I thought, and see where it leads.

I got up from the settee and intended to make my way , via their garden, to the garage to help Terry.

Cookie gave me a look, I gave her the cold shoulder.

I thought I really ought to talk to her.

I told her she was a beautiful dog and then she looked at me as if I was completely mad.

I slowly stepped a little closer to her and she made a fleeting attempt to smell my shoes.

She detected the smell of my own cats that I have at home.

She then followed me outside into the garden.

I looked at her and told her she was a very scatty dog.

Her head moved to one side, trying to understand.

I then thought …. I am scatty too.

I’m going to chase her.

She ran off at great speed and then headed back to me, in a blur, just narrowly missing me on the return trip each time.

I chased and she chased.

I was laughing.

Her tail was wagging.

She thought I was mad.

After 10 mins we gave up chasing.

And then I resumed helping Terry in the garage.

After half an hour Terry and I were called in by Sue for a cup of tea.

I decided to sit on the settee and make myself comfortable and I could see Cookie looking at me from just around the kitchen door.

I ignored her.

She then slowly made her way to the settee, jumped alongside me, laid down and put her head on my lap.

We stayed together for 10 minutes in perfect harmony while I was chatting to Terry and Sue.

After that, Cookie followed me about everywhere and invited me to chase her at every opportunity.

The garage clearing phase one was successful but the highlight of the day for me was playing with Cookie and being able to connect with her by being scatty.

I’m looking forward to going over to see Terry and Sue and Cookie in a couple of weeks to complete the garage project.

It will be interesting to see whether being scatty is still the right approach to take with this amazing dog.

I can easily do scatty ….

Who’s running this? …

Last week was manic.

Totally mad.

I was exhausted.

Too many meetings (nearly all self inflicted I admit), too many unexpected events, too much rescheduling needed to claw back some free time.

Non stop racing against the clock and running so fast just to stand still.

I rarely get stressed.

Last week I was stressed.

It was a very strange and unexpected sensation.

Didn’t even have time to talk to one or two dear friends who I could have relied on to talk sense and help me through the options.

My reaction?

Sit down, breathe (it helps) and calmly work out what needs to change.

I have just made next week’s activities more manageable.

Fewer meetings.

More invitations and opportunities declined.

More free time with nothing in the diary.

I will fill some of it of course with some personal stuff I have wanted to get done for ages but this time without any outside pressure on deadlines.

Lessons learnt?

I need to stay in control of my weeks ahead.

Every week.

Saying “No” to people who always expect me to say “Yes”

They will just have to cope.

They will.

Deferring meetings or projects that can easily wait a week or so.

Without the world ending.

It won’t.

It’s a nice feeling realising it’s really down to me.

I’m running this delightful life.

I just need to consistently manage people’s expectations …..

and perhaps, more importantly, my own. 🙂

Life Cycling …

We had decided to go.

Despite the scorching heat.

Once we commit to a cycling trip, we commit.

So off we both went heading towards the shaded tree parks and then onwards towards the duck pond complete with wooden seats where you really appreciate wearing padded cycle shorts.

After one minute of cycling we suddenly stopped.

This bench here looks nice.

We can look out over the field and watch a few people go by.

And there we absolutely capture what the cycle ride is about.

We are out in nature.

We meet and greet fellow explorers in the very hot sunshine.

We chat. We laugh.

Constantly.

We avoid dogs on extended leads and people who perhaps should be.

We see things we don’t see sitting indoors reading the papers.

This is really the upside of outdoors.

We did reach the pond…. eventually.

The ducks gave us a look which said “What kept you?”

We said “What’s the rush?”

They understood …😎

Noise. Life. Accept it …

 

I’ve never been a big fan of background noise.

Though I can, at times, shut it out quite easily.

 But it’s becoming hard work.

 

When I read or just want to sit and think I much prefer total silence.

 

So a trip into town with my book in my bag was an attempt to have a relaxing cup of tea in the local coffee bar

And read my book on one of those new comfortable settees they have just put in.

 

As I ordered my cup of tea the enthusiastic barista behind the bar continued to make the latte coffee for the lady in front of me. 

The milk heating machine then sprung into action with its screeching and bubbling.

Then, while this was going on, he threw (almost) the used coffee cups, saucers and plates into the dishwasher (or jet washer) and switched it on.

He could really multi task that guy.

 

As I sat down, a young lady brought her baby (already screaming at some high decibel level in the buggy) into the coffee bar. 

 A few older children, now apparently free of their parents in the queue, were running up and down chasing each other. 

And screaming.

 

The book stayed in my bag.

Stop being irritable I told myself.

See it differently.

This is real life with noise, activity, contact and communication.

 

As my friend Andrew tells me “You are a long time dead, you can have as much silence as you wish then”

He is a cheerful soul.

 

He is changing my thinking a little though by his spin on life and he doesn’t know it.

 

Noise is life.

Being enjoyed, 

Being endured,

Being experienced … by us all.

So I won’t wish for perfect peace.

Well, not on a permanent basis 

 

Noise on the line …

I survive on lists.

If something needs doing it has to go on my list .

If I forget to put it on my list I just forget the task.

So my mind is a constant stream of what I need to do and looking ahead for the next deadline.

Ask me what I did last week and I will have no chance of remembering.

So my regular, Saturday morning, 60 min yoga class (yes, it is on the list) has become a protected space in my diary.

The class yoga teacher, L, is just incredible.

She speaks to us all throughout the session backed by some low volume, spiritual, music track and asks us to forget everything.

Except her guidance throughout.

Her very pleasant, almost hypnotic stream of words gently guiding us through the session.

“Push away those outside thoughts and distractions ” she says.

I get lost in the delightful music.

But I can also easily get lost in yet another dreaded to do list item which can easily drift into my consciousness.

L’s commentary gently manages to help me push it away and my mind behaves.

The Saturday session always puts me back on track.

It’s essentially you, with 20 others, adrift on your mat, in the half light, with eyes closed, just doing what she asks with no pressure or judgment.

It provides a much needed break from lists, from rushing, from deadlines, from a busy life.

It’s just you, L, your yoga mat and a space to breathe.

Bless you L.

You are a much needed guide and inspiration.