Poems on this day – 17th June 2021

Twelve

Take me to the twelve
The leaders of the show
From up on your mountain
Looking down on all below
In awe of your majesty
All the fighting has been done
Time to make some toys
Now the battle has been won
Something still was missing
All the goals had been achieved
The minions needed order
And something to be believed
Here we are many eons later
Mistakes still being made
Fighting amongst each other
Our peace has been delayed
On our way underground
Discovering truth much too late
Wishing for eternal youth
For which we’d always wait
Wisdom came and found us
It was always oh, so near
Take it to the after life
Because you can’t have it here
Sailing down the winding river
Darkness is descending
Say goodbye to all you know
This is your life ending

Currently reading Stephen Fry’s ‘Mythos’ – it’s intriguing that the tales of Gods captivate us in some way despite knowing that it isn’t real. Are we even looking at them and laughing at these old stories to describe our existence? I laugh at many religious beliefs because they are nonsensical and I wouldn’t even really bother to read them and whilst I’m enjoying reading this book and these stories – what to make of it?

Gift

You got a gift, virus infection
Breathe it out, in every direction
No one knows until inspection
No one safe until injection

Students came back to school on Monday, by Friday the school was closed again as there was a case of Covid (more on this at some point in the future) and they are still making the teachers come to school to teach online! Something that we can easily do from home. Thailand – I despair, sometimes.

The Art of Noticing Chairs – 14th April 2021

Inspired by the email newsletter from Rob Walker I’ve been trying to take notice of simple and mundane things. A nice practice to remind oneself that everything is now.

This first post is chairs. This was pretty easy – it’s actually the second thing I chose to start noticing but completed (finding 10 items) first. I’ll post more of these as they are completed, which may be a while as we are back in a lockdown situation again due to the rising number of cases of Covid 19 across Thailand.

I like to relax on my bed of nails, that’s one thing that almost never fails – 29th July 2020

Nothing stays the same, though we always try and force it. Is this the start of the pandemic era as some people are predicting? What is the ‘new normal’ and is it really any different to before?

I feel very lucky. After leaving the UK in 1994 my life, on reflection, has been a lucky and happy rollercoaster ride. Even the bottoms of the ride felt survivable, perhaps because at least there wasn’t a cold grey rain spitting in my face. Perhaps there were occasions where it didn’t feel survivable at that moment, but luckily I did, and so I have the possibility to reflect.

My journey is my own and my pronouncements can only be based on that experience, my judgements for myself, so take them with a pinch of salt. I did bad things, good things, stupid things, smart things. I see others doing the same. Who am I to judge?

I have definitely changed over the last 6 months and I’m not sure why. Or I should say, I’m not sure specifically why. I have implemented lots of minor habit changes and behaviour modifications and perhaps it is an accumulation of minor positive changes that have made the difference. So I can’t put it down to meditating, exercising or journalling specifically.

I decided to get up 45 minutes earlier than I need to in order to get to work. In that time I follow a flexible routine. I keep it flexible because I shouldn’t punish myself for not following it consistently.

First I use my exercise bands to help open up my shoulders and stretch my calves. Probably only a couple of minutes total. Next, I spend 5 to 10 minutes doing tests on my language apps (Drops and Mondly) – the aim is to break my current daily streak, learn some new words, possibly remember those words and reinforce this habit. The idea behind this is to create a sense of achievement as soon as possible in the morning and this sets you up for the rest of the day.

Next, I lay on the floor and stretch out my back, neck and hamstrings. A warm-up stretch more than anything, no more than a couple of minutes again. Just brushing off the tightness left over from sleep.

Then I use an app called Home Workout and all I do is the 5-minute morning warm-up exercise, 10 exercises to get your body moving and your heart rate raised just slightly. I may move onto harder exercise routines later but I’m not in any hurry. I follow this with 30 squats and 20 tip-toe stretches (I have real problems with my feet).

If there is time, I write some ‘morning pages’ – whatever thoughts are piling through my head, though I’ve found that usually I don’t write much because I am sitting ‘trying’ to think of things to write. I often try to recall my dreams at this point. Whatever, it’s not a journal, it’s barely legible, it’s spat out quickly and forgotten – not really meant to be read again in the future. This habit is 2-5 minutes max.

Finally, I’ll meditate (this is when my brain suddenly starts coming up with the random thoughts!). I use the Smiling Mind app which has plenty of free meditations and I don’t know if I often get into a real meditative state but I want to do it just for practice. Doing it over and over again puts smaller chunks of information into my brain that I can utilise during the day, when not meditating as such. In this way, it is a success. Perhaps it has taught me to just pause sometimes before opening my mouth. Taking a deep breath before heading into a difficult class.

I usually meditate between 5 and 10 minutes and mostly they are guided meditations. Once there gets to be longer periods of silence I still struggle with keeping focus on breath or letting go of thoughts, but that’s the reason to practice, right? I also have been laying on a spiky massage mat whilst doing this and that has been great. Much like a bed of nails. It makes me wonder why I like it? Do I like discomfort, do I find comfort in pain? Do I feel some sense of achievement to be able to survive it? I don’t know if there is any scientific study around physiological benefits of this type of thing but I just know that I like it!

Finally, a shower and breakfast and it’s off to work. Following this routine 5 days a week seems to be having a positive effect on my happiness and calm. I wouldn’t put it down to any one of the habits specifically or even them all together. Sometimes it can just be the action, the doing, that provides the benefit. For years I’ve implored friends to just ‘Do Something’ usually for a larger cause. Now I’m starting to understand that whilst I was doing something for a larger cause it also had the side effect of benefitting myself.

I was going to write about how the Covid-19 virus has affected my life teaching at school and what the ‘new normal’ of that looks like. Fortunately for me, it has meant lots of free time, drinking coffee in the morning, sitting by the river. This situation won’t last forever. I won’t last forever. I enjoy it whilst I can.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my energy and enthusiasm. When Dylan called in sick today I was ready to go teach for him.

We got that attitude! – 4th December 2019

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to Amy again as she has soldiered on and cooked for me when I’m feeling under the weather but she is also not well. Today suddenly I have an urge to visit England again.

21st Apr 2021 – Just pre-Covid, this bug knocked me down for about 10 to 14 days and was by far the worst I’ve felt with the flu in the last few years. It’s unlikely that it was Covid and I think I eventually got rid of it and passed it onto others. I seem to remember a lot people getting sick around this time.

Catch my eye a new slogan – 18th November 2019

I had a nice though busy weekend and managed to cross a few things off my to-do list.

Time does seem to go too fast though and I often try to recall that feeling of being bored and struggling to think of things to do – but then using my creative mind to start something. I still have some remnants of this and now never struggle to find new ideas and activities to pursue.

We have so many more options now – not just for entertainment and relaxation but for everything. Everything is at your fingertips – when life has no struggle it can be difficult to give it meaning.

Gratitude Journal

I’m so happy and grateful to have the chance to travel around South East Asia whilst helping other people with their music. If all goes to plan I’ll be able to again in April and finally make it to Kota Kinabalu and Yogyakarta. I’m really excited and looking forward to new adventures.

14th Apr 2021 – Covid 19 pandemic spoiled these plans.