Archive | April, 2013

Moments of compassion

22 Apr

Work was hideous today. I felt like I was banging my head up against a brick wall, trying to get heard about ‘risk issues’ I am professionally responsible for communicating but powerless to act on. Lots of phone calls, dead ends and defensiveness. My heart raced and I exploded in a mess of tears in the office stairwell.

On returning home I wanted to skip karate, order a 14″ pizza, drink 2 cans of cider and pass out on the couch.

I found my self ruminating over all the crap that I had encountered during the day.

I stopped and noticed what I was doing.

As an experiment I tried, instead to notice all the compassion I had encountered through out the day:

The positive, inspirational blogs I read on the loo this morning.

Bronwyn returning her ball to me during our walk.

My colleague listening to me and supporting me.

The team secretary who decided not to bother putting through non-urgent calls.

The colleague who filled up my coffee cup without asking.

The colleague who contained me in the stair well.

The lady from social services who took me seriously.

My husband who took a panicked phone call from me at work. And listened.

My puppies who delighted in my return from work and licked my weary face.

All the people who liked and followed my blog 😉

Me, who despite tendencies towards the unhelpful took herself off to karate.

My karate sensei, who caused me so much pain I forgot about all the mental stresses of the day.

It worked, I feel better, I feel supported and emotionally regulated.

Thank you 🙂

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Going ‘Off Plan’

20 Apr

It’s been a stressy week. I have not managed to take time back.

I have worked overtime, over time that I won’t be paid for and probably won’t manage to claim back.

I figure that I need to start giving clients a set number of hours per week and sticking to it! I have been pulled into various meetings about clients and have still felt it was important to go and see them, write their notes and analyse data about them. This just isn’t feasible! (unless I can get my caseload down to two!).

Anyway, yesterday (Friday) I was driving around Thanet between a session with a client and a case conference about a different client. I realised I had a hour to spare; not enough time to get back to the office; too much time to go straight there.

I realised I was driving through broadstairs and it occured to me that I could take a lunch-break yes a friging lunch break. I had heard that Broadstairs is nice, and I suddenly felt like I might have the opportunity to do something totally unpredictable to even myself.

I felt as I were being somewhat reckless as I parked my car on the high street and walked down the hill towards where I imagined the sea might be. To think that no one in the world knew where I was or what I was doing, nor could they guess felt alien and exciting to me.

I felt as if I might have managed to go off plan; to have demonstrated my own free will and independence of thought.

I walked down the road and identified that Broadstairs was indeed, middle class, with an old-fashioned bakery, haberdashery and butcher on the high street. A funeral parlour with the tag line “today is a good day to plan your funeral” gave me an idea of the demographics of the town, yet strangely, the only young people I could see were teenagers. Not British teenagers, but French, in fact, the only language I could hear being spoken was French. I wondered if I might have accidentally entered into a rift in the space-time continuum, or maybe just, absent mindedly driven through the eurotunnel into France.

As it began to rain I realised I was indeed in Britain, and like a true Brit, carried in regardless down to the beach.

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I walked along the pavement by the beach huts and identified a picnic bench to venture across the sand for. Wearing a full length woollen coat and my red-leather work shoes I suspected that should anyone have noticed me they might have thought me rather odd. Indeed, in my psychologist outfit, I felt more removed that usual from nature and less able to be connected with the outdoors. I fantasised about taking my shoes off and running across the beach to paddle in the icy sea. I noticed this urge and reflected that, had I have not been in psychologist mode I probably would have gone with it. I comforted my self with my flask of coffee and a cigarette.

I was aware of this chap sitting in the bench next to mine:

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I’m not a fan of seagulls but he stayed put, looking at me and talking to the other seagulls. He reminded me of a dog, or rather dogs when they whine at each other. On making this association, I paid him some more attention. He seemed wise and grounded. I wondered if he had an understanding of the universe and realised that, on a level, he did. Not a cognitive level, but on a practical, behavioural level, and perhaps, an emotional level. Looking at him made me feel as if he had a sense of mastery over his world, a complete understanding of all he perceives, or at least the feeling of understanding of all he perceives.

I reasoned that I had a fairly good, practical understanding of the universe and my place in it, but there is no way I will ever have an understanding of it all on a cognitive level. Even if i had infinite mental capacity to understand all the knowledge in the world, the facts are still unknown. I wondered if I could ever understand it all on an emotional level and fairly quickly dismissed that as too time and energy consuming.

I wondered, however, whether I am missing a level or two?

I started to get cold and wet and retreated to my car, dissatisfied with my attempt to be reckless but satisfied that I had achieved some thinking space of my own.

I felt a sense of achievement as I arrived at my next meeting with wet hair and sand in my shoes.

Also, at the meeting I apologetically informed my colleagues that I would not be present the week after next for two consecutive weeks. They surprised me by seeming genuinely pleased for
me to be getting a holiday. I walked away realising that I had fallen into a trap of thinking my presence is more important than it actually is.

I drove home after the meeting feeling a little bit free…

Karate Grading

20 Apr

Last Sunday I attended my second karate grading. My club tends to wait until you are ready and have done at least so many classes. Once you have been registered for grading you have to go and run through all your karate basics (kicks, punches, blocks and stances) and your Kata (sequences of basics) with everyone else in the region.
I knew from previous experience that I was unlikely to fail (they rarely ‘fail’ anyone on the day). However I wasn’t expecting it to be as hard as it was. They made us work for those belts! By 30 minutes I could barely stand. Let alone do ‘good’ karate!
Still, I passed, and I felt as if I had earned it!

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Alice’s Adventures in Fame

10 Apr

I am both flattered and humbled to have been chosen by our artist friend Ann Stoker (click on name to visit blog) as a suitable subject for one of her beautiful paintings!

'Wedding Boots' finished

I think it was the boots that did it!  I love how she has managed to make this feel so light and playful yet graceful!

We were also lucky enough for her to choose Dan as a subject for her collection of faces.  I think she has made him look particularly wise and ‘seeing’

'Dan' finished

On a less professional note, I also recently ‘googled’  our dogs’ names: ‘Bronwyn and Odin’ (as you do) and realised that a you-tube video of them is the first result!  That’s pretty famous!

Taking time back

4 Apr

I recently wrote about the pressures of work. I have been working overtime with little opportunity to take that time back.

As you may have gathered, time feels very precious to me. I don’t want to get into the habit of working more than I am paid for. If there is genuinely too much work then I need to communicate that and be honest about not being able to do it all.

Last night (and tonight) was an exception, sometimes things are just to urgent or need to be done outside of working hours. In those situations I should be taking that time back ASAP. I have stopped fantasising that I might be able to save those hours up and take a day off later in the month. My employer will not allow Time Off In Lieu to be saved for more than one month. and my diary is pretty chocka up to one month in advance. Also, if I work 5 extra hours in a week I feel tired, grumpy and burnt out.

So what am I doing about it?
I’m taking it back now. I worked 3 extra hours last night so I’m taking back 3 hours this morning. I have also resolved to record how I use my TOIL, this will keep me on track eith using this time for myself and help me to notice that I have taken time back.

This morning I have:
• Laid in until 7am
• Walked the dogs (putting myself in credit for this evening)
• Made some muffins
• Written a blog post!

I feel better for taking it back, and more prepared for the day ahead.

What would you do with 3 hours TOIL?

A Four Day Weekend

1 Apr

I have been holding out for this weekend for a while now. It has helped to know I would get four whole days off. I think that we have been so busy that the usual Two day weekend hasn’t been long enough for me to really slow down and reflect on how I am and whether I need to change.

It wasn’t until the third day that I felt I had got everything that needed doing done. When this happened, yes, I wanted to sit and do nothing but it also gave me some space to realise how stressy I have got myself!

We have been for two very beautiful walks with the dogs, which we were able to do without time limits, or guilt or anxiety about losing time.

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And Dan and I have actually spent time together and talked. We have had space to share ideas and interests rather than day-to-day frustrations and to-do lists.

I’ve even (with much help from Amalia) decorated an Easter Tree!

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Having this time has helped me reflect and realise that I don’t want to find ways of earning more money,  I don’t want a bigger house or a better set of qualifications.  I want more of this:

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More time to stop and be.

 

 

Resolutions Revisited

1 Apr

I have clearly not managed to make a new resolution for every week! But here’s an update!

Karate
I have managed to continue going to Karate, not once, but twice a week!
I have even won the ‘Student of the Week’ award, not once, but twice!

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My sensei has complained that I am embarrassing his orange belts with my awesomeness in the Dojo, so he has put me in to grade on the 14th of April (for my orange belt) Eeek!

As you can see from my previous post, I have been needing some stress management, this really has been ticking that box for me. I can go to Karate class in a foul, grumpy-arsed, achy-necked condition and come away relaxed, focused and, quite frankly, exhausted!

Not Cooking
I’m not really sure if this was a resolution as such, but certainly finding some time in my week was. I have given up the idea that I need to cook a dinner-party quality meal every night. Dan and I do a DIY evening at least three times a week now (including both my Karate nights) and when I do cook, I am able to do a mixture of simple and more fancy foods.

Cleaning Night
Tuesday night has become cleaning night where I do the bare essentials. I will also do extra bits on other nights and at the weekends but I try to limit this.

‘Me’ Time
This still isn’t as easy as it should be, but I have managed to steal a few hours here and there to do exactly what I want to do. I have also managed to get some crotchet in the odd half hours we have before bed time in the week.

Do you remember this?

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Slowly making progress!

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Future Resolutions?

1) To write short blog posts about specific things (trips/projects etc)
2) To book in my ‘time off in lieu’ as soon as I accrue it
3) To pack my suitcase ready for my honeymoon!
4) To spend some time gardening

I will not set a time limit on these resolutions but will keep you updated!

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