A Buddhist breakdown

Hello again! How are you doing? I hope the world is treating you well on this glorious summer evening.

Life on our square patch is lively at the moment, in a hurry-up-and-wait sorta way. We’re still a bit up in the air with house sale/purchase shenanigans. We’ve had a bit of a plot twist when our seller pulled out…but it’ll all work out fine. Visualise, visualise, visualise. We’ll be in a better place before long, in every sense.

Today I’m going to share a story from a few weeks ago. I was privileged to attend a few days’ sessions by Gen Kelsang Dornying, a Buddhist monk living in Australia who travels and teaches. It was a really profound and humbling time for me and turned a lot of my preconceptions about my mind around. Turned my head on its head, you might say…

After the final teaching had finished, I drove home along a fast-moving busy dual carriageway. My car began to lose power intermittently. Odd, I thought, it hasn’t done that before. Then it lost power completely. A lay-by was in sight and I prayed I’d be able to coast that far. Please, please, just a little further. My little car just made it. Firstly, I was safely off the main carriageway. Secondly, it was much less obvious once I was parked that I was a lone woman with an engine issue. Grateful.

I don’t mind admitting that I would normally expect to have a bit of a wobble about now. I don’t know a lot about cars. My fiance’s car was in the garage so I couldn’t call him out. I could phone the breakdown people and sit for an indeterminate amount of time in the hot sun waiting, hoping nobody ill-intentioned approached me. What did I do? I breathed. I sat and I breathed and I summoned the same feeling I’d had in the meditations and teachings. I opened my eyes, I noticed that the temperature gauge was in the red. I looked in my coolant reservoir (empty). I read the manual, mixed some water and coolant, waited for the engine to cool, filled it up, and…I got home absolutely fine. Not only that, because I was taking my time to avoid overheating, I let three people onto the dual carriageway and told a guy in town that his petrol cap was undone, so my trip basically consisted of people thanking me. I walking into the house giggling.

So what they say is true. A difficulty doesn’t have a problem; just remember to breathe…slow down to avoid overheating. You might even make someone happy along the way.

(It turns out my car had a hole in the hose, by the way. We’re all good now.)

 

Sold

 

Well, hello on a rather damp English afternoon. I’ve been very quiet on the blog front, with all that has been going on…the largest part of which is our impending house move. Last year our long term plans were brought into view with alarming and miraculous speed, and as always, once you set upon a path the universe cannot help but help. So here we are, the house prepped and preened, car accident notwithstanding, and we’veto some lovely people. The right people; because instinct, and karma, right? House selling takes a lot of energy. But we’re getting there, it’s like a roller coaster. Slow, slow, slow, pause….wild rush of activity. Repeat.

Right now we’re waiting, waiting, waiting. You can’t push the river, so while we wait we practice tai chi (it’s World Tai Chi Day tomorrow, so if you’ve always wanted to have a go, look up your local event) and aikido, and swim and larp and read and work and listen to Ted Talks and spend time with our friends and of course…Make Stuff. I’m keen to complete as many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) as possible instead of boxing them. New house, new fabric, right 🙂

I finally completed the XL corset. Hoorah.

 

 

Next up…

The embroidered book bags.

The long-sleeved experiment.

The short-sleeved experiment.

The toy mouse.

There’s another half dozen UFOs on the horizon, but it’s cathartic ticking them off the list. Softly, slowly, we will get where we want to be.

And my favourite quote from Samuel Johnson right now, as I am being trained by time to be gentle and patient?

“All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”

Tranquility be yours.

Until next time!

 

Lessons I’ve Learned This Year

I can’t change what is in other people’s heads. I can, however, do quite a lot about what is in mine.

Do not place your expectations on others: to be trustworthy, or to trust you; to be gracious, understanding, tolerant, fair or open-minded. Sometimes, they’re just not.

When people are losing face or favour, they’ll throw anything they can at you. Let them. Grownups don’t make themselves look good by trying to make other people look bad.

Calmness is a superpower.

Hold your centre, keep your balance, listen to your inner voice. Don’t betray yourself. No exceptions.

Do not be a rescuer.

The wheel keeps turning. Sometimes you’re face down in the mud, sometimes you’re bathing in sunlight. Let it turn.

Breathe.

Love is stronger than fear, pain, anger, resentment and despair. Friendship will lift you to the surface when you’ve lost the will to kick. There is nothing more precious than a good heart that believes in you, and a warm hug.

Do not underestimate the power of visualisation.

Never. Lose. Hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Intuitive Way, and a whole lot of camping.

Well, hello! It’s been a while. I’ve taken a break from blogging – not intentionally, it’s been a strange, busy and wonderful summer, and I’ve been immersed in life. I’ve also been trying, amid the busyness, to do a little stock-taking, with the guiding hand of The Intuitive Way.

 

When I stayed at a friend’s house, I pulled it off the bookshelf for a read at bedtime. I’ve since bought three copies. I know several people who will like it…it’s thought provoking, life affirming, comforting, inspiring. Give it a try (also, dipping into your friends’ book collections).

 

So what’s been going on?

 

We camped in Shropshire. My it was a beautiful place…we had gales of laughter…we had buckets of rain…we had archery competitions and evenings around a fire pit and a blow up tent that didn’t blow up…we had a split pipe on the car…we toured Shrewsbury Prison (well worth a visit)…we admired stunning Ironbridge and learned how weak our grasp of Roman numerals is.

 

We larped. We made coats and vambraces and leg wraps and bags and cloaks and we fought undead and performed magic rituals, and ate and drank and ran around the woods in the dark, and sang songs and laughed and cried and made new friends. We went on a treasure hunt. We got muddy. We got tired. We got memories.

 

We got engaged. Whooooooohoooooooo! I didn’t take down the many congratulations cards until they got dusty…it was just so nice having them around! We’ve been given enough bubbly to launch a fleet of ships. We received hundreds of messages of love and goodwill. It’s just been amazing and wonderful and we didn’t expect it…we are so, so grateful for our friends. (Added bonus: We made limoncello and nojito for our party, which gave us a bagful of frozen lime zest to make lime cake. Yum.)

We had a day out at Rushden Lakes for a family birthday, and lunch in the lovely garden of The Wind Hover in Chapel Brampton. While my tribe were inside, I had a few minutes of pure rest in the sunshine, watching the clouds, the happy dogs and the leaves dancing in the trees. It was then that I noticed one of these signs on the adjacent corner:

 

 

 

Yes. Just that. Remember To Do That…the roller coaster of life will do its thing regardless, whether you hang on for grim death or wave your hands in the air. Give Way. Let Go. It will be okay. (I’ve been listening to Thich Naht Hahn a lot lately.)

 
We were given a day out at Wicksteed Park as a thank you for our voluntary work, and we had The Best Time with thirteen adult sized children. It’s a long time since I rode a log flume and I’ve never ever played laser quest or driven a go kart before, it was brilliant. I loved the Paratrooper. There is a point where you are going neither up nor down, and you feel completely weightless. As for the Snakes and Ladders slide…well, we couldn’t tear the grownups away from it.
 
And in between? We’ve adulted. Car insurance, MOTs, gutting the bathroom, budgeting. Laundry, dishes, this stuff doesn’t go away, so you might as well Zen it, right?
I hope you’ve had a good summer, and are enjoying the arrival of autumn and the changing colours of the goddess’s cloak. I leave you with this thought:

“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”  Madame du Chatelet

ps. A wonderfully talented local artist is holding a fantastic exhibition of her work, if you like art and animals and find yourself in Northamptonshire I recommend you take a look. Just glorious.
 

Winter

Winter

Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day’s journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

 

Walter de la Mare

20 Beliefs That I Took To Aikido (and killed with aikido)

I am weaker because I am smaller.

I don’t have much patience or perseverance.

I will never be really good at a martial art.

People will think I’m stupid if I keep getting things wrong.

At some point I am bound to be laughed at and feel humiliated.

Training in a male-dominated environment is scary.

Making mistakes is not enjoyable.

I’ll never cope without some previous experience.

A negative experience in class will set me back.

My feelings of inadequacy are a part of me.

I’ll have to do weeks of research to understand what’s being taught.

Being in the spotlight is embarrassing and uncomfortable.

I’m likely to get hurt.

I will never be part of “the gang”.

I should understand instructions immediately.

I don’t have any special abilities.

I will never have the “breakthrough moment” that people talk about.

Martial arts won’t affect the rest of my life.

I will never learn this complicated, subtle art.

I cannot change my mind.

As it turns out, every single one of these thoughts that have crossed my mind at some stage is a LIE.

Does your head lie to you?

Are you a hummingbird, too?

Hello on a beautiful fresh spring morning! I hope you’ve had a lovely few days, whatever you’ve been up to. Or not! Sometimes you just have to stop, right?

Our garden is getting a makeover at the moment. It’s wonderful to see the vague ideas I’ve had rumbling around taking shape…but at the same time as I’m weeding, planting, repointing and head-scratching I feel the pull of the other things I could be doing…that colour block top needs redesigning, it’s sunny and I could be out taking pictures and having a picnic, but then the house is full of dust bunnies, and I want to learn how to make that peyote necklace, and there’s that notepad to experiment with for a friend, and we need new cushion covers and I want to carve my own stamps and …but wait, shouldn’t I just be enjoying my garden? Oh yes. So I’ll concentrate on wildflowers and trellis, right now.

I can’t do everything I want to do this instant. I haven’t even started half of the things I’d like to try, but you know what? This wonderful video makes me realise that it’s okay to be in the carnival funhouse. It’s absolutely fine. I’ll never be one of those people who has one passion and follows it in a straight line. It’s a relief to know that I’m not failing, because I’m a hummingbird, because I’m going to spend my life collecting nectar from a thousand flowers. The trick is to take it one flower at a time…so for now I’m just going to decide where the strawberries will go.

Have a wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

At the still point of the turning world…

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement.

And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

Burnt Norton – T. S. Eliot

Snowdrops, sunsets and bark

Morning! How are you doing?

Yesterday we took our cameras out for a muddy ramble around East Carlton country park. It was sooooo cold….but kinda beautiful in the clear winter air. It wasn’t stopping the snowdrops…

EC Country Park 2

…or the vigorous green buds from erupting.

EC Country Park 6

I grabbed a few pictures of different textures of bark – I like to have some handy as a sketching reference or to play around with digitally.

Bark 3

DSCN2042

Bark 1

Bark 2

The park is hilly and full of interesting curves and views.

EC Country Park 1

I half expected small woodland folk to appear from the nooks and crannies 🙂

EC Country Park 3

Moody sky and wonderful layers of cloud at sunset…

EC Country Park 4

Well worth the frozen fingers; yep, I forgot them again. Next time!