Saturday, 21 December 2013

Where did the years go?

After a Twitter conversation with @DareToBeHappier I revisited this blog today and was shocked to see how long ago my experiment had been. Having scrolled through some of the ideas, many of which were given and suggested by dear friends, I realised how much had stuck and how much had changed. In January I am going to revisit them all and update where I am at as a kind of Life Audit! Look forward to seeing you then.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


So I need to come back to the blog and see if seriously changing my life seriously changed my life.....

  1. No alcohol - this went incredibly well. There have been some occasions when I have given it up again, well one actually. The point is I now drink only what I want and when I want. I can very much enjoy a glass of wine or a real ale. I don't drink cheap plonk unless it tastes good. I only drink the amount I choose to drink. I don't refill my glass when it is part empty. I wait until I have savoured a glass, or sometimes half a glass, and then I add more if I really want it. I have had some great beer and curry nights; I have had some lovely restaurant meals with and without alcohol; I have had celebrations with friends and family, again with and without alcohol; and I have quiet nights in with a good movie and a good glass of wine. Alcohol is a friend and a luxury, a part of my life I am glad of and can enjoy. It is no longer a defence, a weapon, a punishment, an excuse. It is  a simple pleasure that I am glad I can afford, and could easily refrain from if ever the need arose.
  2. Mindful eating - a revelation. Increasing my awareness of what I eat, when I eat, what compunctions I follow, and what I avoid has opened my eyes to my relationship with food. Old habits die hard, but they do die. I am a stone lighter, eat fabulous meals, have sweeties and cakes, vegetables galore, almost no pastry.... I have learned to love eating and to love stopping when I have had enough. I no longer eat out of a sense of obligation. I no longer eat to keep others company or to make them feel better. I generally eat the healthy food I crave and am very aware that my craving for sweet things is a good indication of my increased stress. I practice my mindfulness, use my relaxation and am compassionate towards myself. I can often let go of the need, simply by being kind to myself.
  3. Daily body scan- I have not kept this up. I have increased my body awareness, and I have moved towards thinking compassionate thoughts as another means of achieving what this achieves. However, I reloaded it onto the ipod just two days ago and have done it twice already. There may be room for it after all.... we'll see.

So the first three changes have been updated. I'll add more as we go. Good to be back :)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Reviewing the situation

Blue tit on a fat ball
Sitting in my study watching the birds fighting over the seeds and the new fatball, I am struck by the simple pleasures in life. So far this morning I have seen blue tits, coal tits, starlings, sparrows, blackbirds, robins and treecreepers. This has been a week of consolidation and wondering. There have been changes that I have made over the past month or so that are really working for me. There are also changes that do not need daily input, eg organ donation. However, the most interesting for me today are those that so obviously improve my life, yet I find hard to maintain. I think perhaps these should be the focus for now.
  1. No alcohol – this continues to be mindful rather than abstinent. I had a tough day yesterday, witnessed the aftermath of a horrible crash, which took me back to a very similar incident last year in which 3 people died and I was a material witness. I wanted nothing more than a brandy when I came home and received a flea in my ear. I had a coffee, supper and went to bed with a book to distract myself.
  2. Mindful eating – This has moved on since I watched an interesting programme about the world's best diet. Not a losing weight diet, but healthy diets from around the globe. The Italians and their Mediterranean diet came out as the most healthy, but it also pointed out that the British diet, with appropriate portion control, is pretty healthy too. I am now monitoring my portions as well as eating lovely healthy food mindfully. Will keep you posted.
  3. Daily body scan – this has slipped, will do it definitely today
  4. Charity shop shopping – been looking for a coat, but nothing so far. Took a big bag full of stuff into the Red Cross shop locally.
  5. Mindful breathing every hour – not hourly but pretty regularly throughout the days. Interestingly, forgot yesterday while I was having a rubbish day, and can't help thinking now, it would have been one of the best things for me!
  6. Quince
  7. Remembering my friends – how can I forget them now? They are keeping me going. Plus I had a fabulous surprise from Cassie today - a beautiful Quince of Crimson and Gold for my garden which came in an enormous box through the post! Magical.
  8. Smiling regularly – some days are harder than others and my penchant for silly youtube videos has lapsed, think I'll hunt something out today. The birds are making me smile though.
  9. Help if and when I can – feeling less and less guilty when I say no, but probably still saying yes too much.
  10. Italian conversation class – missed it last night, but have my cds for practising in the car and speaking my limited vocab like a true italian.
  11. Becoming a blogger – Encouragement to continue is much appreciated.
  12. Writing 10 mins daily – only work stuff this week really.
  13. Drinking a glass of water every hour – Not hourly, but more regular than I was. This is one of the things that really makes a difference so not sure why it is not a stronger compulsion to carry it out.
  14. Thinking about it, before I say yes or no – think I may be thinking too much?
  15. Having my eyes tested – glasses still confusing my eyes.
  16. Walking in the fresh air every day – what is it about this that I won't do?
  17. Pilates core exercise throughout day – this is marvellous and I'm not sure whether to add in some more pilates. I have just started my Tai Chi, so I think one thing at a time - well obviously 25 things at a time!
  18. Listening to my needs – I am, and it makes me aware how much they are not met in some areas... :(
  19. Mindful spending – I am loving this. I'm getting a little obssessive, but I have such a strong goal focus now.
  20. Neck exercises – my neck has been so painful after all the traveling last week, so am doing them very gently.
  21. Accepting compliments – and gifts this week which was so lovely, and support and love too. I have actually been very lucky in my shit week!
  22. Really saying thank you to people – Yes, and loving it
  23. Mindful speaking – this is growing in me, but I find I have said less this week in total. Could not help myself at a clinical governance meeting and may well have overstepped the mark. My challenge for the meeting next month, should I choose to accept it, say nothing!
  24. Applying for position of school governor – still waiting...
  25. Tai chi class – was great, and I took a neighbour. Have exercises on a sheet and am already practising. I think it suits me very much. It is in the Lee style and only needs an arm stretch of space. The class also incorporaed Qi Gong exercises as the two are linked and, from my understanding integrated.
  26. Organ donation - Have let all my nearest and dearest know I am on the register so that if anything happens they can inform the right people.
Qi Gong elements

Monday, 11 October 2010

Change # 25: Organ donor register

Well, I think this will be the last change I implement and 25 seems like a good number. It is the number of days approximately that it takes the sun to do a complete rotation on itself - which may just be a sign that I'm going round in circles! However, I will continue with the blog as I assess the impact of the changes and begin to work out which ones are really benefitting me and which ones I can let go of ( sorry about ending the sentence with a preposition). This was a suggestion from Krystian all those weeks ago, when I asked for suggestions from my fb buddies. I've always had a problem with organ donation. I'm not squeamish, but something about this makes me feel decidely creepy. I remember watching a tv programme when I was probably much too young, about dead people, suddenly not being dead - and you would be gutted if they'd nicked your useful bits wouldn't you? Anyway I have faced my fear, and my name is now on the register. I only hope my bits are more useful after I'm gone than they appear to be now! After all they don't want anymore of my blood, and I used to be a regular donor! It's the fm.

  1. No alcohol – so this has been mindful alcohol for a while now and I have discovered that 2 glasses of red wine causes me increased pain, headache and general deterioration in how good I feel.
  2. Mindful eating – less carbs and more colourful food makes Alic a happy girl
  3. Daily body scan – I don't think this is realsitic every day, need to work out what is a helpful level.
  4. Charity shop shopping – Might go this week as I have need of a new coat and the one I have seen is not environmentally or financially very positive!
  5. Mindful breathing every hour – aware that I am making this more deep breathing and that is not what I was aiming for. Need to take the time to simply breathe rather than rushing it.
  6. Remembering my friends – every time I think of them I smile. I have also just posted two postcards.
  7. Smiling regularly – there is a need to feel all the emotions too. Have been reading about the benefits of reading fiction, outweighing the benefits of reading self-help manuals and the like.
  8. Help if and when I can – am sorting out the second part of this more easily - and not feeling guilty when I cannot. Haven't done any work today on my day off which I have not managed for months.
  9. Italian conversation class – Anthony is picking up my cds for me. Have had a little practice from my class notes today.
  10. Becoming a blogger – Stuff is out there!
  11. Writing 10 mins daily – done some of this. Not giving myself a topic just writing, it's incredible what comes out of the pen.
  12. Drinking a glass of water every hour – improving again. Wait....that was my 4pm one
  13. Thinking about it, before I say yes or no – am doing a little analysis after the event too!
  14. Having my eyes tested –
  15. Walking in the fresh air every day – Walked a mile and a half yesterday, sore today. Walked just 10 mins today.
  16. Pilates core exercise throughout day – this makes my back click!
  17. Listening to my needs – vegetables, water, laughter... going well
  18. Mindful spending – have seriously started my Christmas collection, which begins tentatively about Easter time. Mindful of spreading the load
  19. Neck exercises – saw osteo today, worked me hard so am being careful.
  20. Accepting compliments – not so many I have to bat them off exactly, but accepting those that come.
  21. Really saying thank you to people – this has lapsed a bit this week. Will think more and bring it back in.
  22. Mindful speaking – choosing more silence, but people think I'm sulking or 'in a mood'. of course I'm in A mood, unless I'm mindful breathing!
  23. Applying for position of school governor – still waiting for voting slips to arrive.
  24. Tai chi class – starts tomorrow night, have persuaded my neighbour to come with me too. 

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Change #24: Tai chi class

Way back when I decided I needed to seriously change my life, I asked for suggestions from friends for stuff i might do. My good friend Weije suggested a Tai chi class. I had thought about this before, and had it recommended by osteopaths. I had never found one near enough to make it accessible and regular for me. I told Weije this and asked for a DVD recommendation. He gave me a youtube link, but still felt a class with an instructor would be most useful. I took the hint and fished around, yet again for someone local. Another friend, Georges, suggested to me that when we are ready, the universe provides. And lo! There is a new class starting in Horncastle next Tuesday! Easy to get to, not too late, cheap as chips, go when you can. How good is that? I'm off....
  1. No alcohol – changed now to mindful alcohol. Also I'm interested to see what I do when I am out socially, and how much I 'choose' to drink and eat.
  2. Mindful eating – Good food counts, it makes us what we are.
  3. Daily body scan – Also aware more of how I am in time and space, if that makes sense.
  4. Charity shop shopping – all shopping needs to consider creativity, waste, need, quality and the environment.
  5. Mindful breathing every hour – I need to be more aware of this at work.
  6. Remembering my friends – and thinking of them often, as well as knowing they are thinking of me.
  7. Smiling regularly – doint it now!
  8. Help if and when I can – When am I helping, and when am I interfering? Good question Alic.
  9. Italian conversation class – Hoping to collect my cds at the library tonight, they have emailed to say they are there.
  10. Becoming a blogger – how much interesting stuff is out there? I continue to learn how much I don't know!
  11. Writing 10 mins daily – Looking at this today. Might shift it to 20mins alternate days.
  12. Drinking a glass of water every hour – this is so good for me. It even affects my pain levels.
  13. Thinking about it, before I say yes or no – and trying not to pre-empt the yes and no of others!
  14. Having my eyes tested – done, not sure it's helping.
  15. Walking in the fresh air every day – going in a minute!
  16. Pilates core exercise throughout day – Proably succeeding at this, at least 5-6 times a day, and my clothes are fitting much better. This is the best it has been since my 2 abdominal surgeries and I thought the muscle tone was lost forever.
  17. Listening to my needs –  I need to switch the computer off and go for a walk!
  18. Mindful spending – using the village store helps to keep you focused on essentials. Also it means I spend less on petrol, as the next nearest shop is 4 miles away.
  19. Neck exercises – good, and seeing osteo again on Monday.
  20. Accepting compliments – bring em on
  21. Really saying thank you to people – when I can
  22. Mindful speaking – more silence please!
  23. Applying for position of school governor – voting papers are on the way.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Change #23: Applied for a postion as parent governor at my daughter's school

This idea came again from my good friend Ruby, and I have also heeded advice from my good friend Selwyn should I make it past the nominated and seconded position. He has warned me to only accept places on committees I feel passionate about, or I'll be snowed under. Bearing in mind changes # 8 & 13, I will do my best. So my little girl, although she is as tall as me, changed school this year, and I have offered to be a part of QEGS for the next 4 years. I have already started one of their evening classes, so I'm sneaking in! Also my lovely friend Naomi siad that schools needed good governors like me, which was rather great to hear, and made me smile. So what do school governors do? My understanding is they help in all sorts of areas including standards, staffing, property, finances and curriculum balance. I've thought about it before, but never offered. The nominations all have to be in by the end of the week. I'll keep you posted.
I'm a bit out of sync with the dates of these blogs and I have actually reached the end of my month, without posting every day. The changes have still happened so I'll carry on until you have had all of them. Some things I have begun to edit out, some things are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Remember, the only constant is change.
  1. No alcohol – I've had a whole month with no alcohol, apart from my lovely anniversary bottle. Since I have reintroduced alcohol I have had a couple of glasses of wine, and one delicious Metaxa 7 star brandy. The difference was the way I savoured and drank them, but interestingly, I still went through a bowl of mindless crisps with the wine! So when I enjoyed my brandy last night, I drank it mindfully and had no mindless eating with it.
  2. Mindful eating – See above for my lapse. I think I maybe becoming a little evangelical about this, so will try not to here. I feel so much more connected to my food and am enjoying both the preparing and eating of it. I am still half a stone lighter too.
  3. Daily body scan – I have gone back to the full body scan, but am not doing it every day. This needs more work
  4. Charity shop shopping – even this needs to be mindful. Want less, suffer less is one of my new mottoes.
  5. Mindful breathing every hour – This is more powerful than I believed. I knew it in my head, but not in my being. Now I know, I need to maintain.
  6. Remembering my friends – Feel much more connected and therefore recognise how supported I am in my place in the world. It is very compassionate for me.
  7. Smiling regularly – have been sharing smile making clips from youtube with Willow. laughing is a very sociable experience.
  8. Help if and when I can – I have been helping and acknowledging to myself how much I enjoy it, rather than resenting it. This is also helping me not to feel guilty when I cannot.
  9. Italian conversation class – Had two classes now and am absolutely loving it. Was really tired after work last night and was tempted not to go. Went anyway. The website link is recommended by my tutor.
  10. Becoming a blogger – lapsed a bit this week with long distance work commitments, but still going.
  11. Writing 10 mins daily – All my writing this week has been either this or work related. Needs attention.
  12. Drinking a glass of water every hour – Difficult with long journeys, but took a 2 litre bottle with me and had consistent drinks along the way. Needed loo stops tho'!
  13. Thinking about it, before I say yes or no – Am doing this mostly. Sometimes I need to think VERY quickly!
  14. Having my eyes tested – still have not really got used to my new reading specs. May have to have them checked. 
  15. Walking in the fresh air every day – There is a serious resistance to this that I need to work out. It just isn't happening.
  16. Pilates core exercise throughout day – This is good.
  17. Listening to my needs – My wishing to be compassionate to others is blocking my hearing at times. Found a lovely quote (or maybe it found me) from Lao Tzu: The quieter you become, the more you hear.
  18. Mindful spending – Have found some wonderful things I would like to buy and give as gifts, but I have saved my basket and am going to revisit it before I press send!
  19. Neck exercises – Doing these but 4-5 hours in the car for three days this week are not helping.
  20. Accepting compliments – have had several this week and have mostly said 'Thank you'. Find it easier to accept compliments about my nature/doing stuff, than about my physical self.
  21. Really saying thank you to people – have discovered there are people I really don't want to thank, no matter what they do. Might force myself next week.
  22. Mindful speaking – am trying. Also see my Lao Tzu quote above.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Change #22: Mindful speaking

This mindful stuff is very effective and terribly up to the minute in my work too. I've noticed that what I say is affected by the people I am with. If I'm with critical people, I criticise; if I'm with funny people I joke and laugh; if I'm with articulate people, I'm more articulate. I'm not happy with this state of affairs. I want to be me whomsoever I am with. I want to be able to maintain my integrity and say what I think along with thinking about what I say. So change #22.
I know it's pretty normal to reflect the people we spend time with, but I'm not sure how many people are quite as changeable/malleable as me. Also I'm not sure why I do it. It could be that I'm just a wishy washy person who cannot stand her ground or it could be that I like to make other people feel comfortable, at my own cost. I'm hoping that a spot of mindful speaking will clarify things for me, and let me know more about myself, while revealing more of myself.

  1. No alcohol – Having enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine, I then had a stonking headache in the middle of the night. Interesting
  2. Mindful eating – This is so much healthier for me, and actually I have stopped fretting about what other people say to me
  3. Daily body scan – This needs to be done properly, skimping is not working. If I cannot give myself 45 mins a day to feel better physically, it is a sad state of affairs
  4. Charity shop shopping – I've just remembered I was thinking about having a sort out. I will do by the end of the week
  5. Mindful breathing every hour – this too has slipped a little. I do it as and when, but I want to be more conscious so am going to find a way to remember more consistently
  6. Remembering my friends – I have even started to think of friends who I might not have seen for a while and consciously bring them back
  7. Smiling regularly – 'As you like it' at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, gave me a week's worth of smiles and laughs, but I still have every intention of smiling all week too.
  8. Help if and when I can – have worked too long and hard this week, which means I have said 'yes' without really appreciating the consequences for myself. If life ends up all about making others feel better, without being kind to myself, it is far too unbalanced.
  9. Italian conversation class – I loved it. I have been practising and am waiting for my CDs. Anthony and I had a chat briefly when he arrived home from work one evening, and I spoke in Italian to Christopher when he called from Italy.
  10. Becoming a blogger – this is fun, but I feel a sense of obligation to keep it up. Not sure if it is to myself, or my audience
  11. Writing 10 mins daily – little bits here and there. I'm wondering about starting an entity that I just add 10 minutes' worth of writing to each day.
  12. Drinking a glass of water every hour – this has slipped with the breathing so I am on a mission to improve. I feel it has amazing benefits.
  13. Thinking about it, before I say yes or no – see above!
  14. Having my eyes tested – am slowly starting to adjust to my new specs
  15. Walking in the fresh air every day – this is proving to be an impossible challenge, but I'm not ready to admit defeat
  16. Pilates core exercise throughout day – still doing this
  17. Listening to my needs – this is very much about eating and drinking at the moment, but am also aware of other needs that are not being addressed like socialising and exercising. Watch this space
  18. Mindful spending – very aware of what I am spending at the moment. It has been a tight month and I have still managed to save a little for a rainy day
  19. Neck exercises – could do more
  20. Accepting compliments – not receiving many, but when I am, I try really hard to just say 'thank you'
  21. Really saying thank you to people – enjoying this. Am doing it a lot with people at work, who work for me. I like it