Tag Archives: relaxation

Going at your own speed…

So, I had a pretty lazy weekend and spent most of it catching up on reading and watching TV.  That’s not the norm for me, but I felt my energy levels needed a recharge.

Something I did notice while watching lifestyle shows, was that they all seem to be time-sensitive. I saw programmes on how to renovate a house in a weekend, plant a garden from scratch in a day, and cook up a feast for twelve in under two hours (okay, I might be exaggerating, but you get the gist). Participants are put under enormous pressure to stick to the time limit.

It seems that everywhere we look there’s a pressure to do things fast. Even the writers among us aren’t immune. There’s write a book in a weekend, plan a seven-part series in one evening, or release a book every month (or a week in some cases) if you want to be really successful.  Okay, most of us see this for what it is and do our own thing (thank goodness), but the inherrent pressure (which is often subconscious) can sometimes be debilitating.

We all bloom at different speedsThis pressure to do everything fast can lead to a kind of comparison-itis. That feeling that if we’re not doing things as fast as our peers we’re slacking off. If we can’t renovate our garden in record time, or write 12,000 words a day, we’re somehow less-than those who are doing these things.

I’m a plodder, always have been. It takes me a while to plan, to think around things – whether it’s what colours to use in that new garden bed I’m planning, or the names of the characters in the new book I’m outlining. For me, that thinking process and having the time to sift around ideas and possibilities is a huge part of the fun. As a writer I like to spend days getting to know the characters, researching the setting, and any one of the other myriad things that go into developing a story. My characters become real to me, and I think a big part of that is spending so much time with them. I’m not sure I’d get the same satisfaction if I was banging out books at record speed.

I realise not everyone is like me and some people can write really fast and publish very regularly. I’m certainly not saying that quality is affected by speed either, and I could name several writers I love who write super fast and their books are great. Part of me envies them, but at the same time I’m not about to beat myself up for doing it differently.

What about you? Do you like doing projects fast? Or do you prefer taking your time?

An unexpected bonus…

20190209_125341Just returned from a great few days at my mother’s on the south coast of the UK. We had the most glorious weather and it was amazing to be by the beach. Vivvy adored it and spent every opportunity to get in the water. She’s a real water baby, except when she spies the garden hosepipe to clean her off, then she runs a mile in the opposite direction.

My mum has just had a new satellite system installed for her TV, phone and internet and loves her new big TV. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to connect the internet on my laptop and spent a good hour speaking to the supply company who tried to work out why. My mum streams Netflix on her TV and that was working fine, so the engineer was stumped. They are sending a new box which should hopefully fix things, but it meant I was without the internet for four days! Can you believe it? Four days! At first I wondered how I’d survive not checking emails and looking at social media, but I have to be honest and say that I didn’t miss it at all. In fact, it was really relaxing (although it did mean I was late posting my blog this time around).

20190628_133914After lovely long days spent shopping, lunching (that’s my mum and sister-in-law in the photo), having numerous breaks for coffee and tea, visiting with family, and playing with Vivvy, it was great to come home in the evenings and relax with a game of cards with my mum (who always beats me, hands down), chat over a late night drink in the garden as the sun went down, or watch TV. In fact, I might even start having ‘internet breaks’ more often. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, now I think I’ll put it into effect.

How about you? Do you have regular ‘internet breaks’? If so, how long can you manage without checking in?

Experiences Old and New

I hope my American bloggers enjoyed a Happy Thanksgiving Celebration yesterday with family and friends.  Thanks to everyone for your supportive messages last month.  Peter is visiting the hospital for various tests and this week we are meeting with the Consultant to discuss results.  We hope for a diagnosis, treatment plan and information as although Peter is brave and stoic it will help to know what we are dealing with – fingers crossed.

This month has been reflective in many ways but I have had some old experiences which are helping me deal with my stress levels and new experiences which have been very thought provoking,  I will tell you one old experience which we have repeated over many years.  A regular walk of ours is along part of a canal near to our house, we have various routes to and from it but the canal part of the walk remains consistent.  Different seasons add to the experience but this time of year is our favourite as less people are using the canal and fewer cyclists.  The light is different therefore the views of surrounding countryside seem enhanced.  Lots of wildlife thrives alongside the canal and various ducks, moorhens and occasional fish inhabit the area so it is interesting.  Occasional hazards occur when a local fishing club hold competitions and block the path but on the whole each group of people (and animals) co-exist. Strange specimen featured!

The highlight this weekend was a heron.  I wonder if it is the same one that we have seen over the years but is probably an offspring.  I keep meaning to find out more about herons as I am fascinated by their inscrutability and patience. This one waited for Peter to approach him, seemed to pose for the photo, glanced around then took flight looking majestic.  These birds look so elegant even when flying despite their long legs.  Our next encounter was with a pair of swans who swam right up to the bank, pecked at some reeds, then seemed to pose for the camera before gliding gracefully off.  I wondered at first if they thought we had some titbits but they didn’t seem bothered.  The two incidents enhanced our walk.  I reflect on magical moments like these during the dark grey days.

My new experience is Gong Bath or Sound Yoga (Suntatya Yoga).  Whilst yoga is one of my main exercise routines of the week this is totally different. Several of my friends have followed my example despite my not talking about my individual experience (unusual!!) as each person’s reaction is different. We assemble in a local hall, normally 8 or 10 of us, with yoga mats, blankets, cushions, comfortable clothing and lie on the floor for an hour with our eyes closed! BUT during this time Helen, a young qualified yoga teacher friend of mine, plays a variety of sounds using singing bowls, gongs, bells, pebbles, rain maker and other instruments but I am unsure of all the names.  Occasionally Helen reads a piece of poetry near the end of the session or plays a piece of music. One week around Harvest she played Eva Cassidy’s Fields of Gold which conjured up various images for me. I have given a brief resumé of the sessions as it is impossible to describe. We are in a totally safe environment, in soft light and the effect for me is total relaxation. Apparently the scientific theory is that toxins are released by the sound waves which help release stress, thus helping the body heal and restore itself.  I cannot say anything other than during the past year it has made an unbelievable difference to my stress levels.  I sleep well the night of the session and the feeling continues for a several days.  It is important to drink lots of water to rehydrate thoroughly as the toxins continue to be released.  I am unsure of why this works for me and for other people I know, I am pragmatic yet spiritual too so might be susceptible.  Two of my friends are deaf and wear hearing aids which they remove for the sessions but they experience similar feelings.

Old and New Experiences indeed but invaluable at this stage of my life. Relax is my word of the moment.  I hope you NaNo Challenge writers are able to do the same! Good luck for the last week amazing people.

Leisure

Today I’d like to introduce a new regular blogger here at Over the Backyard Fence. My dear friend Jane Smith will be posting on the fourth Wednesday of every month. I met Jane when we were both studying for our BA degree with The Open University here in the UK. That was, ahem, a very long time ago, and we’ve been friends ever since. Jane is well travelled, enjoys many interests, and has a great sense of humour. I know she’ll be treating us to some really interesting posts along the way, and she’s chosen to start with a subject we can all relate to in one way or another. So welcome, Jane, and over to you…

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Several of your blogs I’ve read relate to the topic of leisure in one way or another. Do we make time in our lives to spend time on leisure activities? What do we, each individually, consider leisure? One person’s idea of spending time differs greatly from another. I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, because I am doing too much. But not work as Jillian was talking about earlier this month, since I am retired! A poem I read at school constantly pops into my mind, is it a reminder from my inner self to slow down I wonder? “Leisure” by W H Davies opens with the lines:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare …

jane choirReading through the rest of the poem starts a chain of thoughts for me about my life. I am sustained by love of friends and family. I take two yoga classes a week which ground me and sing with a community choir which gives me a sense of well being, achievement and friendship (that’s me in the photo in a black dress with a purple scarf). I also attend a book group which stretches my mind as well as being another source of friendship and fun. Regular contact with my close friends offers all these things too: grounding, fun, conversations on a wide range of topics and relaxation. Good friendship is a mutual support system, one to the other – especially in difficult times. My grandchildren are another source of delight, a child’s view of life makes grown ups stop and stare in a different way. The continuity from my own children through their children, the family rituals which get passed down repeated at birthdays and Christmas. A pattern resembling a huge tapestry which shapes our lives.

I meant this first blog of mine to be light hearted but a piece of writing for me often takes on its own path. Most of you are published authors, I am an avid reader. I have read through your current blogs and the range of topics is fascinating. The humour and love in your lives shines through and the wide breadth of activities too. Your Country Shows resemble our summer fetes and county shows here in UK, but the family aspect and pride in one another’s achievements, whether showing animals or baking, is again a valuable layer of our lives.

Recently my choir did two concerts. One to help raise money for a 19 year old tragically killed. Max was in a car, as a passenger, racing against his friends on a county lane, unofficial of course. A van came unexpectedly around a corner and wham. The impact on many lives, including the van driver and his family, was devastating. We were invited to perform, nervously on our part as it was open air, to a mainly young audience (most of us are over 50!), and our main song was a request from the youngsters of Bob Marley’s 3 Little Birds. I forgot to mention we are an A Capella choir. We arrived to find a Reggae Band performing “our song” which threw us totally! But we rallied one another, got on the stage and sang our hearts out. Two other songs, one Hawaiian another African, led to the climax of the main song. Well, the reaction was amazing – the youngsters whistled, clapped and sang along with us. It was a wonderful feeling to cross generations in tribute to Max and a worthy cause to educate other youngsters in the risks of five minutes fun.

The second concert was this week in a local church. Family and friends of the choir bought tickets, so did other members of our local community. The pressure was huge to do a good performance. Again it was wonderful. The audience sang some songs with us, we raised money and we all felt great. Both these examples illustrate aspects of my leisure. Enriching, loving and fun. A sense of community. Our lives.