Archive | March, 2012

Alice’s Adventures in the Blogosphere

31 Mar

I am writing to say a big THANK YOU

To everyone who has taken the time to stop by and say hi.

I am all new to the blogging world but have received such a lovely welcome. I am impressed by SO many of the blogs I have seen and am astonished by this new global community. Already, I have made links with people all over the world and without even leaving my house! I didn’t expect this at all, neither did I expect to find common ground with people so far away. I am awe-struck by a realisation of the enormity of this planet and the universality of the human condition and its struggles.

Here are a few examples…

Today I met someone called Mouse, whose blog you can visit here  (yes I did learn how to “link” today). Well, I love Food- and it turns out Mouse does too.

I feel that cooking for someone is a way of showing them affection and I despair when food gets boring. I love new ideas… Well, I thought I had tried every thing…

It turns out that Mouse eats Chicken Feet Soup. And also Marrow bones? And blogs in such a way I WANT to eat chicken feet soup and Marrow bones too! I don’t know where mouse lives, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the UK as I haven’t seen marrow bones anywhere except the pet shop and I’m not convinced butchers even get chickens with their feet on anymore. Bronwyn and Odin love a good bone, and I have, in the past wondered if we could eat them (bones, that is) too. I turns out I could- I just need the right supplier!

Mr D has gone out without me for the evening, so no culinary adventures tonight.  Just a plain old Alice Favorite.  A fish finger baguette, with mayo, shredded lettuce, surprisingly good tomatoes and gherkins. It was plain, but yummy, and led me to wonder if other countries even have fish fingers?

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Yesterday I met a lovely lady called Jenny whose blog you can find here, Jenny lives in the Philippines, which is a long way away from where I am right now (and I bet a whole lot sunnier!). Any way, Jenny’s blog is truly inspirational. Today she published a post about Carrots, Eggs and Oolong Tea. You should check it out! It was about the way we cope with adversity; something very much on my mind at the moment, both through my own struggles and having recently worked with people trying to cope with cancer.

I repeated the Oolong tea story to my partner who reminded me of an ancient egyptian story about the goddess Isis. Isis had been employed to care for a baby who, every night, she burned in the fire and then healed before morning by feeding him. One night the mother of the child caught Isis burning the child and rescued him. Isis revealed herself to be this super-goddess and explained that through the suffering and healing process, she was making the boy immortal. I am not proposing that what any of us are striving for is immortality (or hurting babies) but the wisdom remains…. that it is through suffering, through managing adversity that we find enlightenment and new growth. The thing I find amazing, is that after 3000 years these stories retain their wisdom. Maybe us humans haven’t advanced as fast as we had thought eh?

Thank you both Mouse and Jenny for your stimulation, encouragement and friendliness in the face of my underdeveloped blog!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the people who inspired me to start a blog in the first place…

The lovely Lucy at attic24, whose beautiful blog regularly convinces me to go out and buy wool, ready for that next project (there will be a post on unfinished projects soon!) And whose writing and photography keep me entertained; warming my heart on many a dire morning.

Thank you also goes to my dear friend,  one inspirational and motivated lady. She runs around like a crazy thing, but still manages to pull together  a fabulous blog, mother two tiny children, work and be my friend.

I feel truly blessed

Keep on sharing that love!

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Our Puppy Journey- Part One

30 Mar

As these guys are going to feature heavily in my blog  I thought I should give them a proper introduction.  They are actually pushing on six months old so this will be a several-parter.

Back in September ’11 we had recently lost our dear doggy friend Annie.  Annie had been my soul mate and I missed her like a part of my heart had gone.  I didn’t want to replace her or have another dog that would be too much like her.  I wanted a dog, but I needed the relationship to be different,

Annie had been a wise,

Compassionate friend,

Standing firm by my side for 8 years.

Annie looking wise

So………

We agreed,

Not one dog,

Not a dog…..

A Puppy!

Two Puppies!

Can you believe I have a fiance, who let me have puppies? 

In the final year of my doctorate?

 and yes…

He nearly let me have three!

We agreed that I could have two if they were little-ish.

We agreed that we would like something long-nosed but not pedigree.  So I  started my search for whippet X PUPPIES.  Pretty soon I found an advert without a picture, I emailed the man and asked for a picture… well, this is what he sent me!

Our First Puppy Shot

That was it….. I wanted the-spotty-one-in-the-middle, and NOTHING was going to stop me.  D convinced me to wait untill we saw them and even suggested it was somewhat superficial to chose a dog soley based on how it looked. 

So.. The next weekend we drove from Northampton (UK) to somewhere in North Yorkshire to “check out” the puppies.  We (well- D) agreed that we would check out the family and the mum-dog and not commit. When we arrived the mum-dog came to the door to greet us, she was beutiful and calm, despite having nine three-week-old pups  to protect.

Mummy Dog

I love how it looks like she is smiling in this picture.

So it turns out I couldn’t choose,

I wanted the spotty one 

But also a stripey one

D had no difficulty and chose one straight away,  on the basis that she licked his hand.

So- how do you chose a puppy, from lots of puppies, when what you really want is a puppy?

Choosing Puppies

I didn’t think I could…

Until…

Remember the little spotty one? 

Well… He got up and stumbled right over to me.  It was like he saw me coming.  Anyway, in his stumbling over to me he had met D’s Criterion of having chosen US.  He had also met my criteria of being, well… spotty.  Also….a PUPPY. Here he is…

Baby Boy Dog

And again with his sister…

Our Puppy Choices

So, with our choice made, we just had to wait THREE WEEKS. 

It was the longest THREE WEEKS ever.  During which time all I could think, dream and talk about were:

PUPPIES

PUPPIES

PUPPIES

I worried that it was too good to be true, that something would go wrong, that we would never see them again.

And then, the day arrived.  The day we would TAKE OUR PUPPIES HOME.

And here they are the-little-squidgy-teeny-tiny-so-cute-I-wept-PUPPIES-in-my-car!

Puppies in the car

I couldn’t believe my luck, teeny-tiny-beings-only-just-got-onto-this-planet and COMING TO LIVE WITH US!

The next month was filled with lots of pooey-crazy-tired-joyful-woofy-goodness as the little dudes caried on learning about the world and settling into their new home. 

As for names… I couldn’t do that either. 

D chose for the little lady, straight away, he just thought she looked like a ‘Bronwyn’ (maybe she looked welsh?). 

As for the baby boy, we played with a few ideas…

Sparky (like the gay dog from southpark)

Spartacus (imagine shouting that in the park)

Flash (Ahhhhahhh)

Ruben (I just like it)

Thor (God of Thunder)

I decided that being as he looked SO wuusy, he should have a strong name, but no matter how hard I tried, I just thought he looked too pretty to be Thor.

 So Odin it was

Norse Father of the Gods…

And melter-of-my-doctorate-hardened-heart

How to Write a Thesis

22 Mar

My Thesis, or ‘Mr Thesis’ as he has become known, is currently dominating my life. I am on study leave until mid-April for the sole purpose of him. Writing is painful, or rather, not writing is painful! I seem to have moments of brilliance punctuated by eternities of mind-curdling-gut-wrenching-soul-destroying-life-is-pointless-no-you-can’t-leave-the-computer awfulness.

As such I thought I would share the things that are getting me through…

1. Coffee

I managed to persuade my long-suffering partner that a coffee machine was a Good Idea… Well… It was. Every morning at 7am it makes me 8 cups of the finest caffeinated loveliness. And that caffeinated loveliness sits there, staying warm until I get downstairs at approximately 7:10am. It is much easier to get out of bed when you know the coffee is made and waiting for you.
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2. Puppy Walks in the Park

It is much easier to walk two pups when you have a helper. D leaves for work at 8 so we go walkies at 7:30. This solves three problems: 1) it prevents later procrastination regarding when to walk the dogs; 2) it provides another reason to get out of bed and 3) it provides a non-thesis-related start to the day.

3. A Proper Breakfast

Both research and old wives tales suggest breakfast is a pretty important meal. I was swayed away from my usual non-existent-maybe-eat-a-biscuit-in-the-car first meal of the day by both the realisation that I had more time in the morning and discussion of breakfast fantasies with one of my fellow thesis writers. She described a sweet potato, cinnamon, bacon and egg hash which set my digestive mind on fire. I had to do it. I figured that I would probably consume fewer calories over the course of the day, boost my metabolism, start the day feeling satisfied and, most importantly still sit down to write at 9. I also thought that cooking my self a nice breakfast would be a good self compassionate thing to do (this is especially true if you have the core belief that food=love). Unfortunately, my metabolism isn’t what I had hoped and those pounds started piling on so I am now alternating cooked breakfasts with oat bran porridge to compensate!

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4. Specific but Flexible Aims

I am a slave to the Planning Fallacy I love lists, timetables, diaries and tick boxes, they make me happy… Only they don’t. I have ruined my day by not meeting my goal, and falling behind on my schedule for success too many times. Bollocks to it, I have resolved to only plan what I am doing next. I have replaced my to do with a have achieved list. Much Better. I still have a timetable-wait-several timetables but aside from other commitments and fun things I only fill it in for the day, if that. Goals for the day get bigger or smaller depending on my motivation levels and productivity.

5. A Little bit of CBT

On one particularly poor motivation/ productivity day a friend pointed out that I should step away from the computer and do something menial and easy, but that would give me a high sense of achievement. It worked, I went and threw out the old pants in my underwear drawer and made it all tidy and nice. It took all of 10 minutes and made me feel successful! I went back to the computer and had a much more productive day as a result.

6. A lot of CFT

I am someone who is motivated by achievement, I like tick boxes filled and items on To Do lists struck off. Unfortunately achievement has long been a condition of worth and a search for external validation rather than as the result of a self-actualising process. I have previously relied on self-criticism as a way of achieving. It turns out that this works! You can get quite a long way in this life without ever actually being nice to yourself. You just don’t enjoy getting there! So, somewhat unsurprisingly I was dreading getting down to thesis writing. I envisaged hours…wait…months of self-torture, feeling inadequate and denial of nice things. All of this, for the eventual minimisation of any real achievement and feeling that I had lost months of my life to misery. Why bother?

I have been learning about and even teaching self-compassion to staff and clients on my clinical placement. I had started practicing compassionate mind exercises in my day-to-day life with some positive results. However, I realised that to do away with self-criticism in favour of self-compassion in the context of writing a thesis was not an easy task. It’s a bit like practicing mindfulness when life is crap- not as easy as when the sun is shining. For one thing, being more compassionate towards myself made me think that maybe I didn’t need to write a thesis after all! On the other hand my self-criticism had also completely failed to motivate me. It is a special kind of self-compassion that is kind and understanding of yourself while still getting the job done. I am learning as I go and I suppose this post is mostly about how I have managed to be compassionate and write at the same time.

7. Good Old Fashioned Behaviourism

Rewards, Rewards, Rewards!

When I manage to achieve a reasonable goal, such as drafting a complete section I am making a point of doing something really nice. So far such things have included buying a bunch of flowers or going to the pub. Watch this space!

As for more frequent, well-done-for-getting-through-the-day rewards, they look more like this:

Yes… that IS a Pint of Pimms!

In writing this, I have realised there are many more things that are helping me get through this. However, this post is turning into a thesis in and of itself. So I will end here as I’m sure other posts will be equally thesis-centric!

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