Rewards for the Listening Ear

Many moons ago, I had a boyfriend who was into electronics. His parents were renovating a house and we lived there rent-free in return for keeping it safe while his uncle worked on it. The uncle was a nice man but fond of the drink so living conditions were a bit unpredictable. There might be water or electricity, or not. The boyfriend had more oven timers than you could shake a stick at. These days he’d be arrested for terrorism but he was only interested in automating the music playing. He wired up the record player to an oven timer so that you could wake up to hear Louis Armstrong or Tom Waits. Another oven timer switched on the coffee maker. It was like living with Wallace and Grommit. I think he liked inventing electrical circuits to relieve the boredom of his job. Anyway, some of the gadgetry must have rubbed off because I have a vintage amplifier to which I had attached a dvd player to play cds. The dvd player coughed and died so off I went to Curry’s last week to get a new replacement dvd player. Two young male assistants were hovering around a man who wanted to buy headphones. I hovered myself, hoping to detach one of them to get me what I had chosen, but no joy. I approached a girl and asked “Do you work here?” She pointed to a badge and said “I’m on work experience. Why, what’s wrong with you?” I assured her it was okay and went on my way, musing that there is a big difference between “What’s wrong with you?” and “How can I help you?” I wondered what the likelihood was of her getting an actual paid job. Not that there are many of those for all those young people who have gone through years of college only to end up doing “internships.” Yeah, right. The last I heard, having to work for free was called slavery. Anyway, I eventually located the item, paid and then went to another shop to look for a roller blind. “What size do you need?” asked the assistant. A reasonable question. I had cunningly written down the measurements and forgotten to bring them with me thanks to the Brainopause. I decided to chance buying one anyway, and on my way to the till, I heard a girl saying to another assistant “….so I said to her, that’s my facecloth, why is there a guinea pig sitting on it?” At that point, I thought it was time to go home and rest my ears.

Making the Most of Your Time

There are so many demands on our time these days. All the technology means we are constantly available unless we call a halt. In my therapy work, many clients baulk at the idea of turning off their phone even if it allows them to sleep better. If we want to find time to be creative, we need to be creative to find that time. In order to write the novel/create the piece of art/write the poem, we need to be clear and prioritise it so that it gets done. If it’s not scheduled in, it gets scheduled out. One way to create more time is to stop watching television or watch less of it. Same with mindless surfing of the web. How many cat videos do we need to watch anyway?! Another option is to get up earlier or stay up later. Of course we need to balance our activities so that we get rest, interact with our loved ones, walk the dog, and do what needs to be done to keep things ticking over. Trying to write in the last couple of years has taught me the value of tenacity. Having a mindfulness practice has trained me to be able to focus my attention and bring myself back from whatever distraction the monkey mind is after now. Last night, for instance, I really, really wanted to go to the library to collect a book I had reserved which had become available. I was very tempted. I wanted to do anything except sit at the computer and re-edit two short eBooks I am working on. But I just made myself do it, whether I wanted to or not. I have discovered that there is no substitute for perseverance if I want to write, to improve my writing, to publish and to have others read my work. I hope you strengthen your perseverance muscles every day, and find a creative way to live your life creatively. By the way, my Goodreads competition is still open until 22/03/17 Win a copy of How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years

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Making the Most of Your Time

There are so many demands on our time these days. All the technology means we are constantly available unless we call a halt. In my therapy work, many clients baulk at the idea of turning off their phone even if it allows them to sleep better. If we want to find time to be creative, we need to be creative to find that time. In order to write the novel/create the piece of art/write the poem, we need to be clear and prioritise it so that it gets done. If it’s not scheduled in, it gets scheduled out. One way to create more time is to stop watching television or watch less of it. Same with mindless surfing of the web. How many cat videos do we need to watch anyway?! Another option is to get up earlier or stay up later. Of course we need to balance our activities so that we get rest, interact with our loved ones, walk the dog, and do what needs to be done to keep things ticking over. Trying to write in the last couple of years has taught me the value of tenacity. Having a mindfulness practice has trained me to be able to focus my attention and bring myself back from whatever distraction the monkey mind is after now. Last night, for instance, I really, really wanted to go to the library to collect a book I had reserved which had become available. I was very tempted. I wanted to do anything except sit at the computer and re-edit two short eBooks I am working on. But I just made myself do it, whether I wanted to or not. I have discovered that there is no substitute for perseverance if I want to write, to improve my writing, to publish and to have others read my work. I hope you strengthen your perseverance muscles every day, and find a creative way to live your life creatively. By the way, my Goodreads competition is still open until 22/03/17 Win a copy of How to Love Yourself in Less Than 50 Years

Sign up for occasional emails and receive the gift of a free audio download called Letting Go and Feeling Good. Sign up and receive Letting Go and Feeling Good Download

The Comfort of Old Friends

On Saturday I met my friend for lunch. We met at secondary school many, many years ago. We were in the same class. I distinctly remember being behind her on the stairs and noticing with awe and admiration her high heeled blue shoes which were anything but regulation school wear. She still has great shoe sense and I still admire her greatly. As we chat, we invariably say “I can’t believe that was twenty/thirty/forty years ago!” It does indeed seem unbelievable to both of us, because inside we feel eternally young. Personally, I feel like I am about thirty one inside: old enough to be gaining perspective on existential angst, young enough to do cartwheels, although I was never great at them. I notice that these days, my mind is better able to grasp complexities but there is the occasional click of neck or knee to remind me that time is moving on for my body. I also notice that it takes a lot more maintenance than previously to keep my body working as well as it can! I used to do yoga once a week. It was optional. Now I do it every day and it’s not optional – I seize up if I don’t do it! However, on the positive side, I recently started learning Tai chi and I absolutely love it. I had tried to learn it years ago but didn’t stick with it. This time around, I have found a class that is ongoing, with really committed teachers, and I am in it for the long haul. When I am doing Tai chi, time stops. I am completely focused on trying to do the movements correctly and in the correct sequence, and my mind is at rest. It is meditation in motion. There is a palpable sense of peace in the room. It was one of the things my friend and I chatted about at lunch. Another thing we giggled over was how Sister Camillus told us to go our separate ways when we ended up in different classes, and that she didn’t want to see us trying to keep in contact on our lunch breaks. Yeah, right. Great judge of people she was! Oh it’s great to be grown up and mature all right!

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Striking a Balance

Without a doubt, I love writing. I lose track of time and am happy to write, edit, rewrite until I am reasonably happy with the result. Someday I hope to have much more time to write, but for now, I have to write in the spaces between making a living. I have set a goal of writing one hour a day or 420 minutes a week, in any increment of time. I put that goal on the fridge where I am bound to see it because the fridge and I are close. We spend a lot of time together. Yesterday morning I wrote three pages in longhand before work and today I typed it in to the story I am writing, plus did some editing. I am constantly trying to find a way to write as well as do everything else I need to do. Last year I spent a lot of time trying to learn about marketing and so far this year, I have spent more time writing and done practically no marketing. I have to be honest and say that my heart is not really in the marketing but I do realise it has to be done. It’s an ongoing juggling act. I have been reading books about creativity and an interesting suggestion that came from two of them was to not ask your writing to earn you a living for quite a while – it’s too much pressure. Fortunately I enjoy the other parts of my work life, as a therapist and pet minder. Reid Tracy, CEO of Hay House, reckons it takes ten years to be an overnight success. Grand so – one down, and only nine more to go! So if you are in the same boat, just hang in there and keep writing for the sake of writing. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.