Z is for…

20160502_172133Zentangle.

This is NOT to be confused with the countless array of ‘adult’ colouring books that the magazine shelves of every supermarket have been flooded with. The ‘Mindful Market’ is booming and throughout this great nation, homes and offices (and, yes! Even restaurants!) are equipped with colouring pencils and pages of intricate, monochromatic, woodlands; underwater worlds with paisley patterned fish and mysterious mandalas. I’m not saying that this “in the moment” stuff doesn’t have therapeutic value… On the contrary, I think it’s an invaluable tool for relaxation and improved mental health… What I will say, is that I’m really, REALLY over the colouring thing! (I know… I’m sort of getting close to ranting now… )  But whilst we’re on the topic… those red signs, bearing a crown and the words “Keep Calm and Colour In”… Please ‘mindful market’! Give us a break!

Zentangle feels different. I like to be the one doing the designing… and it really does focus my mind on something other than the madness. (The word Zen puts me off and I normally refer to this sort of creative activity as ‘tangling’. I make cards and gift tags, incorporating words and pieces of map).

If you’ve never had a go, I really recommend just doing a Google search. It’s ever so slightly  addictive and it really does give you a complete break from the world around you, as well as the stuff within.

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Sanity over the demands on my time!

 

 

 

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N is for…

Nothing.

nihilism-theres-really-nothing-to-it-quote-1
Absolutely NOTHING will pop up in my head when I try to think of an ‘N’ to write a short, imaginative and captivating post about. Why it is that I am so wholly devoid of inspiration I don’t know. It’s possible that a pervasive tiredness bears some responsibility, that and the illness I have tends to hijack the parts of my brain that might be otherwise creatively engaged.

So N is for Nihilism. For the philosophically uninitiated, this is the belief that the world and everything in it, life, values, morals, laws… are meaningless. There is no POINT to anything, nothing has any meaning.

Macbeth sums it up beautifully when he says:

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more; it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

It’s a painful thought; one which challenges the my Christian faith on a daily basis at the moment. It would be so much easier to believe that life really is just a brief candle which is eventually snuffed out to burn no more.  Perhaps owing to the extremist tendencies of Anorexia, nihilism stalks me daily, lightly running cold fingers through my hair. Death-coated whispers trickle through the aural canals, trembling tiny bones and dizzying my stance.

Turns out I have something to write about after all.

N is for Nietzsche. For Nihilism. For Nothing.

A2Z-BADGE-2016

 

M is for…

…Mentoring.A2Z-BADGE-2016

It’s what I’m good at, and you honestly won’t hear me use that phrase very often.

As the official leader of The Society of Burnt Out Teachers, I nowadays realise that although my passion for teaching English and English Literature will never waver, the transference of my enthusiasm doesn’t have to be within a classroom. No. In some ways, it’s easier to deliver it within a mentoring relationship. Because, as most good teachers will agree, at a certain age, its RELATIONSHIP which is the single most important factor in the delivery of successful teaching.

Mentoring allows a relationship to flourish (hopefully) and then, once established, it’s an open landscape on which, as a trusted mentor, you can help to build whatever scene and whichever structure, will most benefit and satisfy the mentee.

I’ve mentored a lot of your people, before and during my teaching career. Nothing sparks me like being able to nurture an ambition in someone. I love to help breathe hope into other people’s hearts. Nothing gives me a renewed sense of purpose like showing someone else their purpose.

Anybody else get this?

L is for…

… Love

Here are some things I love that begin with L

Lighting. – I did a little post mentioning my love of the softer season’s evening lighting but I’m also mad about LAMPS! I have a growing collection of the weird, the wonderful and the beautiful!

Longfellow – The beauty of his words very often nearly drives me over the edge!

Lakes – Particularly the deep blue pools in the Pyrenees

Licorice-I’m quite mad for the stuff!  It has to be hard – tear – with- your- teeth licorice. The sort that you can buy in little bags… cuttings…

Learning- I’m fascinated by the world and it’s people!  Sometimes I wonder why we/I bother to research something,my tendency towards nihilism creeps in. Then I realise that I have a genuine love of knowledge and of learning.  And sometimes it’s okay to do something for its own sake.

Lemon – Generally love lemons!

Literature- I couldn’t live without it. Oh… and Languages… I love to learn new words in any language. I’d like to be fluent in all the European languages,ancient Greek, Arabic and Latin!

Hmmm… Overall, L is looking kinda like a lame excuse for a post.

Apologies to any who visit!

 

 

This Short Life

wpid-imag1676_1.jpgA poet like Dickinson has the enviable ability to load a verse with meaning so deep and so heavy you wonder how such simple words can bear the weight.. Her gatherings of commonplace words so often made to shine by their careful ordering, carry a grief so weighty you wonder the words don’t crumble beneath the despair.

This simple little verse almost sags in the middle with the enormity of her existential reflection!

I wanted to put it out there because I think it’s something that every one of needs to have asked and explored. Not in a naval gazing way, more in a back-of-the-mind type of way.

Because I think it’s sometimes good to widen my frame of reference. To briefly place my life on the time / space continuum. It’s sometimes good to feel humbled by the stars. To put my pain and suffering in the context of world history.

And sometimes, it’s good to rethink the areas of my life I can control; and the areas that I can’t. Personally I find it useful to remember that life is short, and wanting control over something doesn’t grant me the right to it. More than that, I know that there are things WITHIN my power, that I need to take control of, rather than deny or disown.

THAT is the hard thing. That’s where Dickinson’s innocent thought is a smack in the face!

Shhhhhhhhhhhh..!

ListenCame across this today and thought it was worth sharing. I honestly think that people don’t get properly listened to.

So many problems go unheard, so many issues misunderstood.Two ears, one mouth, yet our listening rarely reflects that ratio. The antithesis of this little saying is of course, the better known concept of giving somebody “a good talking to”. And really, how often is THAT effective in solving a problem?

Perhaps we can make more of a conscious effort to listen a little more carefully to those around us today. Maybe just being in less of a rush to respond with an opinion, or trying to quietly understand more.

Go on! It might make a real difference to somebody.

Rebel

If your default state of mind involves a relentless drive towards perfection.Rebel

If the eye flinching, wincing, mincing voice of piercing criticism carries through veins and synapses

If your head is bent and darkened by the brightness of those around you

If you cannot bear the bird that longs to nestle in your palm, for fear that it will turn and peck your sockets hollow

If your thoughts are spurs and feelings, whips that lash your saddened soul

and your mind set is a thirst that’s only quenched by a glass half full

then hear the call and heed it

Rebel against your own state of mind.