Saturday, 2 September 2017

Dissolving the fear, finding your own beauty by Ram Dass

A short film featuring Ram Dass on coming out of the darkness and overcoming our feelings of unworthiness in order to feel safe in the presence of love. However you arrive in this moment, if you can accept that you are lovable, the feelings of fear dissolve.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Raydori (Midori Traveler's style) notebook: part 1

Ay caramba, this post has been saved as a draft since 2014...

I've been using a Filofax since 2009 and therefore don't use as many notebooks as I used to. I am a pretty big Indiana Jones fan, and admit that the main reason for liking the Midori Traveler's Notebook is due to its resemblance to Dr. Henry Jones Senior's Holy Grail diary! The Midori is minimal in its styling, rugged and looks great with more wear and tear.

One of the things that put me off the TN is that the notebooks are not a standard size, so you would need to purchase or make them yourself (for both standard or passport size). On further investigation, this Raydori is actually slightly larger than the passport size made by Midori and conveniently fits a pocket Moleskine cahier instead. If you are the type of person that writes lots, then this would definitely work out cheaper as you can buy a pack of three Moleskine cahiers for only slightly more than one Midori passport refill.

I would like to thank the very kind Ray Blake from My Life All in One Place for sending this lovely notebook to me free of charge. I just happened to mention in Facebook one day that I was tempted by the TNs and he offered to send me one of his, thank you!
Here are the contents of the package that I received:

Along with the leather notebook cover, I received a kraft file insert made from cardboard, an envelope that could be used to archive used booklets, a lovely note from Ray and a squared Moleskine cahier notebook.

The cover is a piece of plain leather (which smells wonderful) with elastics to keep the cover closed and a notebook in place. I love the simplicity of the design.

The leather is a beautiful green-grey that reminds me of lichen on stones. Whilst I was initially a little disappointed that it wasn't brown, I think I now prefer this colour and the green elastic perfectly complements it.

Kraft insert in cover:

As I wanted to try using it as my main planner, I decided to buy a couple of extras from the Journal Shop - a passport size zipper pocket and some more Moleskine cahiers.

Size comparison - next to my personal Kensington Filofax. I took the notebook away on holiday and it easily fitted in the pocket of my raincoat, so very handy for travel.

Whilst it is obviously a smaller page size than I'm used to with my Filofax, it's still a very usable space due to there being no rings to get in the way.

This is just the first post to introduce my Raydori and I will be writing more about my set up and how well it works as my main planner. Whilst I can't imagine moving away from Filofax completely, this is an excellent alternative and one that I enjoy using when I feel I need a change.

Sadly I haven't met Ray in person, but I'd thoroughly recommend visiting his website as it's packed with lots of helpful ideas and free printable inserts for both Filofax and traveler's notebooks. You can also purchase his traveler's notebooks. Steve from Philofaxy and Ray are also working together in an on-going project to produce free Filofax printable diary inserts and you can find the full list here.

Friday, 5 May 2017

What's in my bag: holiday edition

I must admit that occasionally I enjoy it when people do a 'what's in my bag' photo or blog post. Maybe it's a weird thing to enjoy, but I guess it's being nosey and taking a peek into a slice of someone else's life. I have done one of these before as a guest post on Imysworld, back in 2011. I no longer own that bag or Filofax, but amusingly still do have the same umbrella, wallet, phone and iPod!

I've recently been on holiday for a week to Paphos, Cyprus and took a quick photo of my carry-on bag before I properly unpacked everything. My bag is a 12 litre Deuter Race X rucksack, which I initially purchased for cycling and running with. It was perfect for my travels as 1) it's very light and compact 2) holds lots for its size 3) lots of interior pockets to keep valuables safe and 4) good for visiting hot countries due to the back design, so you don't get too hot and sweaty when wearing it.

Click on photo for larger version

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Book of Sudoku
A5 Leuchtturm notebook
Spare glasses
iPod touch
SoundMAGIC E80 headphones
Kindle paperwhite
Winchester Filofax
Passport and boarding pass
All-inclusive wristband from hotel
Bottle of water - already in recycling.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Aikido in a coffee shop

Photo by Kari Shea
I gave myself a treat the other day, and took my Filofax and Zen Habits book to a coffee shop in town to have some chillout time. After sitting for a bit, I felt a bit warm so stood up to remove my hoodie. As I slipped it off my left arm, I felt the slim fitting sleeve catch hold of my wooden elasticated bracelet and had a moment of perfect clarity about what would happen next. Uh oh, I could see the trajectory was going to perfectly place it into the face or neck of the man sitting opposite me! I dropped my hip and rotated the arm slightly downwards, and it instead shot with surprising speed between his knees and onto the floor. He was a bit startled and I apologised when I went over to collect it. In that moment before the event happened, it almost felt like when time slows down in a car crash as I felt able to make a decision before my jewellery turned into a projectile... It was such a trivial thing, but it's helped me understand further that my aikido training means that I'm more aware of how I move than I realised.  

When you practise martial arts, eventually someone will ask, "So, have you had to use it in real life?" or something along those lines. They're obviously asking if I've needed to use my training in a self defence situation, but it occurred to me that it's actually quite a fascinating question. Application of martial arts training in every day life is a topic that I'm quite interested in, so I will be posting more about the subject in future.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

A year of daily meditation

Photo by Chris Ensey
I first started dabbling with meditation after an overwhelming bout of anxiety over college exams. However, I admit that I gave up on it pretty soon as I found it just such hard work. Fast forward to 1998 and I decided to give it another proper try after reading a book from the library. For quite some time, my meditation practise consisted of the following:
  • Get myself settled down on the floor on cushions in our spare room
  • Be interrupted by our cat meowing outside the door to be let in
  • Try to ignore the scratching and licking noises now coming from cat
  • Try not to follow the many thoughts that are already chasing around my head, “Did I get anything out for dinner?” "Oh, I forgot to call my Dad"etc., etc.  
  • Be disturbed at the slightest noise from downstairs or cars going by outside
  • Feel grateful for the tiny amount of meditation I may have actually done, but come away feeling generally unsatisfied.  
Over time, it did get better but the turning point was when I managed to find a local introductory course some years later. We were introduced to different types of meditation, but for me the most useful aspect was having an experienced teacher leading a guided meditation each week. It was helpful having someone there that would say things like, "If you've got an itch, don't worry, just scratch it and settle back in" or "You don't need to follow that thought, just imagine it carrying on past you into the distance". She answered all our questions and reassured us that any difficulties were quite normal and basically to keep at it.

Whilst my practise has definitely improved over the years, I still find it difficult to make it one of my regular habits. I have done Oprah and Deepak Chopra's 21-day meditation experience multiple times, and each time I promise that this will be the one where I continue meditating once it's finished. And somehow it never sticks! Therefore, I've decided that I need to make a more serious commitment and as from 28th November, I will be meditating each day for a whole year. I've scribbled down some dates and tick boxes in my Filofax to help keep track, and I'm considering giving myself some kind of treat when I reach certain points as encouragement. The only rules are 1) I'm not allowed to miss a day and 2) I will meditate for 5 minutes at least.

Month 1
I've just checked and today is day 34, so I thought I'd include a quick update on how my first month has gone. I'm very glad that I haven't been too prescriptive with the rules as I'm finding that my practise can vary greatly day by day. For example, on one day I can mediate for 30 minutes, but on the next one, I feel quite agitated when I sit down and barely manage my minimum. On the tougher days, I set a timer on my iPod and those 5 minutes feel much longer... The good news is that I'm finding it easier to settle in and I'm delighted that I've managed to complete the month.

Wishing you a happy New Year :)  

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

Recovering from illness/injury with yoga

I've been struggling to write recently.
Numerous times I have sat down and the words just don't seem to come. I think the best analogy that I can come up with is that normally when I write a post, it's like I tip a bag full of scrabbles tiles out and start to arrange the words. There are too many to begin with, and I always reduce the amount written in an attempt to make it clearer and more succinct. However, recently there's been a hole in the bag and I end up searching around right into the corners , don't feel happy with the little that does come and just give up.

2016 hasn't been the best year for me due to some annoyingly persistent illness and injury (nothing serious, thankfully). Due to post viral fatigue, it's felt like someone's reached into me and stolen much of my normal stamina. I cannot imagine what it must be like for someone like my husband that has ME/CFS. I feel lucky that my fatigue is just like when you're recovering from the flu and end up doing a bit too much too soon. Whilst I still feel very grateful when comparing myself with many others, it has been challenging and it hasn't been good for my general well-being to not be exercising.

Therefore 2016 had been the year that yoga returned to my life in a big way! I am hugely grateful to Adriene for all her free videos by Yoga With Adriene and it's been such a life-saver in relation to my sanity whilst still recovering. I find that it can often become a vicious circle of not exercising due to feeling not 100%, but being too sedentary just isn't very good for my head. I started off completing Adriene's Yoga Camp back in January, and it's become a regular part of my weekly morning routine. I set my alarm half an hour earlier than normal,  and I love starting the day like that, especially as the mornings get darker and colder.

The words aren't still particularly coming along that easily, but it's a start...