Dare to

Yesterday’s blustery winds and showers blew us rainbows. I dashed to the cafe to get DH a coffee and pastry making it back to the station platform with minutes to spare. My gesture was framed with a rainbow. A perfect arch. A celestial smile (inverted) to start our day. The silo mentality of commuters broken by the spectacle as we “shared” the moment with others waiting for the train.

I wasn’t travelling myself but acting on Malcolm Levene’s advice about random acts of kindness. He said being kind builds our self-esteem. Under his tutelage I wrote a card with a poem for a friend. In a text I sent to my sister – it’s her birthday – I encouraged her to spoil herself for the day and eat cake. She thanked me for reminding her to make a fuss.

My actions weren’t altruistic but they were sincere (coming from a place of authenticity).

Later in the afternoon we get another rainbow. I’ve never seen one with such vivid colours and definition especially from the violet (Marcia, what does this mean?). I tried to capture it with my phone camera so I quickly pulled over and hopped out of the car. When I looked up it faded before my eyes. Puff. A fleeting moment. But long enough for me to marvel at the wonder of it all.

“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”(Lyman Frank Baum).

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I hear you, I hear you (the universe is calling)

As a teenager in the throes of OCD I found signs everywhere. The world was speaking to me and with no filter I found it overwhelming and deafening. Crippling. So I conditioned myself to ignore most of the “noise” and I shut my intuition down. These last few years, very gradually, I’ve been tuning in to it again.

I’ll trust my gut and listen to the niggling voice in my head. I’m making myself open to signs and nudges from the universe too as I acknowledge incidences of synchronicity. Jung explained Synchronicity as ‘an acausal connecting principle’ that links seemingly unrelated and unconnected events. I love when it happens and find it affirming. So a week like the one I am having is reassuring.

On Saturday I attended a workshop on journaling. A full day, it flies by. I hadn’t expected to encounter so much new material. New books to read, new sources of wisdom to mine. Most people there were starting their journey with expressive writing. I recognised that I’ve already travelled quite a distance and this was good. I got what I needed and was further convinced of the benefits for all of journaling and committed to my own personal practice as well as my place in the expressive writing field.

In our last half hour our generous tutor casually referenced the Great Diary Project at the Museum of Childhood. She didn’t know if it was still running. I instinctively knew this was something for me to pursue. On the journey home I googled events at the MoC. The exhibit was finishing the following day. As luck (or the universe) would have it, I didn’t have plans for Sunday so with little fuss I was able to make a trip back in to town. I took my 10-year-old daughter with me. She loves that museum. Visits there serve as a reminder that today we are living the history lessons of tomorrow. Some of the exhibits are old friends. The red Raleigh chopper bike in a display case is a replica of my own first ride. How I came to get my chopper is a story for another blog post. But whenever I see it (on every visit I make there) it connects me with my ten-year old self and I remember the joy I got in acquiring a brand new bike and not a hand-me -down from older sisters.

chopper

The Great Diary Project is the brainchild of Irvin Finkel who is on a mission to “rescue diaries”. He sees their value as a record of social history. I concur. A selection of diaries from his collection were on display.

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I loved this proviso from Godfrey William (age 8 in 1881)  ” Take note:  All persons who look at this diary without my leave are Beastly sneaks”. My sisters knew better than to peek in to any of my diaries – I had secured them with a curse. Bad luck would befall any trespassers. It seemed to do the trick.

diary

As well as the Great Diary Project, there’s an exhibition on children’s author, Jacqueline Wilson,”The dreams and diaries of Jacqueline Wilson”. Her childhood bedroom is recreated in the upstairs hall. Essays and diary entries are framed and on the wall. So are school reports. There’s original correspondence between her and her editors as well as first drafts of manuscripts to view. She was a young teen when she questioned, in a diary entry, why Enid Blyton didn’t write about real life. Jacqueline had the urge to write about real people with real issues. And years later she did just that. Her self-belief was astounding.

Another reaffirming day. I was reminded of the self-reflection that can come from reading back on old diary entries. What subliminal messages was I writing at age 10 for my older self…. I’ll look out for those next time I dip in to my old diaries.

On the journey back from East London I offered my daughter a detour. One of the South Kensington museums or Hamleys toy store. Later as we wandered through floors of toys at the giant emporium I wondered how many of them would end up in glass cabinets at the Museum of Childhood. Amber felt loom bands had earned their place and she agreed to offer her current project  – fingerless gloves made entirely out of loom bands – to the MoC. I like that she gets the notion of living history.

On Tuesday, my writing day, I hopped into my car to drive to my writing haven (which deserves a blog post all to itself) and turned on the radio as I normally do. I landed straight in to a discussion on diary keeping. A Zeitgeist moment. Fraser Harrison spoke about his diary keeping in the 1980s. His entries ended up in a book, “A father’s diary”, chronicling a year in the life of the author’s two young children. Later that day I was meeting a pal for lunch. When I arrived at the cafe I found her already at a table leafing through a glossy magazine. She pushed it aside to greet me. I glanced down at the two page spread and felt goose pimples as I took in the topic. Teen diaries!

That night, I went with a pal to an alumni event at her old university. Personal branding coach Malcolm Levene spoke about the benefits we can get from personally developing ourselves. He didn’t focus only on professional advancement but on achieving happiness and fulfilment in all areas of our life. He didn’t make it seem like a big commitment either. It can start with a small change. Even a breath. Take a deeper fuller breathe. Hold a door open for someone. Start your morning thinking of 5 things to be grateful for. Smile.

Then he asked us to think of someone we admire. The usual worthy names got a mention – Gandhi, Mandela, Obama etc.  I spotted a magazine on his desk with Jacqueline Wilson on the cover – I kid you not! So I offered her up. He asked us to think what it is about them that we admire. I was bowled over by her self-belief, her sense of purpose and her industry. Such output. He said we’d find that what we admire in them we need to work on in ourself. How true. My self-belief deficit is honking at me and I am starting to do something about it.

He spoke about working the fear-less muscle (mine is beyond flabby) by doing something that scares us every day. I’d already made a start. To get to the university I’d to drive through a one-way system I’ve spent the last 10 years avoiding.

Finally to cap it all that night I get the sweetest email for a very special friend and fellow purpose-searcher.  “I have a very strong feeling that you are uncovering great gifts and ideas that are going to make a massive difference to you and those you meet and connect with”.

This morning as I walked by my local dry cleaners I chose to take the deeper breath Malcolm talked about. The air was infused with the scent of freshly laundered linen. I enjoyed that moment, that breath and I knew I was ready to take on my life-laundry.

These “incidences” stacked up over the last few days have given me what I needed – a nod from the universe that I am on my path. Maybe nod’s not the word I’m looking for here. Blessing is a better fit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killing two birds with one stone – a winning combination?

The week Mark Warner Holidays announced their third blogger challenge I attended a maths information evening at my children’s school where we were encouraged to make maths come alive for our kids. I managed to find a way to combine both tasks.

I love a mission and so do my kids. The Mark Warner brief asks us to pull together a ski holiday wardrobe of 5-10 items, suggesting we take some inspiration from Polarn O.Pyret, the sponsor of the prize – a £200 shopping voucher. I knew they had an outlet in our local town so after school on Friday the kids and I headed to the shops. Here’s where the maths comes in. I told them there’d be modelling involved but I was willing to pay for their time. Tough negotiations followed and they walked away from the table with a fiver each. They agreed to my conditions  – cooperation, eager faces and no pestering for anything else. They’d get an opportunity to blow their earnings after we’d looked at the clothes.
I explained to them that we would be “window shopping”. My literal son thought it a daft term as there was no peering through glass and we weren’t out to buy window frames either. I could feel an English lesson coming on too.
Here’s what we went for:
Ear muffs from Zara (1). My daughter loved the cosy fluff balls and found they had the added benefit of blocking out her little brother’s taunts.
muffs
She also liked this fur-lined parka from Gap (2). Snug and waterproof. Note the ski pose.
ski
This hat/scarf/mitten set (3) is from Boden. It’s not cold enough to wear outside yet but it shouts “Bring on the snow”
boden
They both loved the Polarn O.Pyret range and we chose these items…
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The blue jacket, mittens and bobble hat (4,5,6). When the assistant mentioned that the jacket was waterproof my son was impressed and asked if you could wear it in the sea. I think he’s getting his holidays mixed up. The jacket is wind proof too. He and his sister had a virtual snow ball fight in the store.
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I loved the hat with the hound dog flaps (7) even more than he did. I may well have to buy it. In listing the benefits of this purchase he came up with camouflage and reckons he’d blend in with a pack of wolves. There’s a USP I’m guessing PO.P might have overlooked.
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He liked this look very much – zip hoodie (8) and over shoulder bag. So much so that he tried to buy the hoodie with his £5 note. He actually threw as near a tantrum as we’ve had since he was a toddler. More maths as he worked out how much he’d need to withdraw from his savings to get one. He wanted us to head to the bank straight away. It was 6pm on a Friday so that wasn’t going to happen. He thought he looked cool in the hoodie and struck a few gansta poses. He loves the pockets and did some contemplative posturing too. The top’s got a preppie vibe that I like. He wanted it so badly. The bemused assistant whispered to us that there would be 20% off all stock on Saturday. His sister helped him with that sum so he’d know how much to ask the bank teller for. I suggested we’d go home and sleep on it. He perked up considerably thinking I was going to buy him the top to “sleep upon”. I cleared that one up and lured him out of there with the promise of a mango sorbet from the ice-cream parlour next door. My shout, needless to say.
fingerless gloves
My daughter, the loom band wizard, feels her current project is a must-pack for a ski trip. Fingerless gloves (9)made entirely out of loom bands! She’s obviously thinking Apres-ski. They should be waterproof but who wants cold fingertips. Though I can see her wearing them while clutching a hot chocolate (no slippage) on a sunny terrace overlooking snowy slopes. The gloves secure a spot in our case.
jumper
No winter holiday is complete without hand knits (10) and we have quite a selection to choose from. As prolific as my daughter is with loom bands, her gran is with wool. This summer my son asked if, instead of matching him up with his sister, she’d knit jumpers for father and son. In August we collected the looky-likey jumpers. My boy was delighted, his dad horrified. Clones. It freaked DH out. They won’t make the pack but this pair of vintage woolies will. Perfect layering for under those waterproof jackets.
Suitcase bulging, we are packed and ready for off*.
P.S. We did return to the shops and the PO.P hoodie is his (#catthatgotthecream).
photo 5
Note:
This is my entry for the Mark Warner Challenge 3 in conjunction Polarn O.Pyret.  *I plan on completing the 4 challenges required to enter a draw for a family holiday with Mark Warner Holidays.
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Messages

I woke up this morning thinking about Scaffolding. I’d the word in my head yesterday too though I went to bed on a cliff hanger. My fingers dug into the earth,clay under my nails…clinging, dangling.

These are some of the messages I’m trying to unscramble.

Dictionary definition of scaffolding: a temporary (my italics) structure on the outside of a building, made of wooden planks and metal poles, used by workmen while building, repairing, or cleaning the building.

It’s time to take the scaffolding down.  Enough repairing and building for now (cleaning can continue).

A blog wander takes me to an affirmation – Today I am journeying through fear – which I will carry with me for the day at least.

A pal recommended a book : Playing Big:  Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message.  I’ll wait for the paperback but I’ve enjoyed the title and the Amazon taster. A book I’m elevating to the top of my “to-read” tower (It’s never been so high… reaches my hip): Thrive by Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post.  God, I love a good title. Both of those titles.

And this sound bite from Elizabeth Gilbert: Perfectionism is just fear in really good shoes.

Text on a greeting card I’d send to myself only then I’d know I’d truly lost the plot so instead of buying the card I took the photo :  Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

card

This morning I tuned my ear to the radio noise that plays in our kitchen. I must have heard the word diary.  So I listened to Alastair Campbell talk on the habit of diary keeping. Reaffirming.

A couple of Saturdays ago I attended a workshop  at the Poetry Cafe led by Ted Bowman on following the metaphor. Ted describes himself as an educator, author and consultant who specialises in change and transition, often around loss  He’s based in the US and was over for the month. The scaffolding and cliff would be right up his street.

I haven’t posted here for a few weeks but I have been receiving….messages.

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