Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Nutcracker - Part 2

If you read my blog yesterday, you'll recall that I shared with you my experience of going to see The Nutcracker ballet on Saturday.  It obviously had an impact on me as I find myself writing about it again today.  While I was thinking about it I remembered that I'd not been to any ballet performances  until last year and now I find myself hooked and looking out for what I can see next.  And the reason I'm sharing this with you, is because it jogged my memory about some coaching I had once where someone told me that life is like one big experiment.  You choose different experiences in your life, different jobs, different relationships and of course different behaviours and ways of being you.  We can choose to experiment in these areas to find out what works for us and what doesn't.

We can get it into our heads that we can't change - that things are set in stone and that how we are is well just how we are.  Yet if we treat life as an experiment, we can always add new things to life and new ways of being.  The experiment is to find out what we like and what works well for us.  Hence I have experimented with adding watching ballet to my life and and I love it.  A friend of mine went to see an opera for the first time last year and found that it didn't float her boat, so she won't be going again.  These are small examples of ways of experimenting but we can also apply these same principles to who we want to be and how we choose to behave. When working with organisational leaders I often ask them to experiment and try out a new behaviour.  It might be that they will experiment with a different way of communicating or that they try a different way of working with their teams.  These leaders often give it a try and if it works well for them or they see a positive impact from the new behaviour - they decide to continue with it. 

I think it's a good way to look at life and a way which doesn't pressurise you or get you to make a massive commitment to something.  After all if you experiment and you don't like the result, then you can just revert back and if you experiment and you love the result, then you can just keep at it.  Just like me and the ballet.   

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Nutcracker

On Saturday I had the delight of going to see The Nutcracker at the Liverpool Empire with a very good friend of mine.  I'd never seen any ballet at all until last year so it's been a long time coming in my life and I have to say that I think I've fallen in love with it.  I find myself completely captivated for the couple of hours performance and love the beauty of it.  Saturday's performance was vibrant, very theatrical and lots of fun.  It was a Matthew Bourne production after all.

The costumes were fabulous - particularly the interpretation of Sweetieland and Tchaikovsky's music carried us along through the performance lulling us gently into a trance-like state and then picking us up and onwards through the journey.  It is for me a way to totally escape and to shut off my mind which is usually trying to analyse a hundred things at a hundred miles an hour.  During the performance, my mind was busy watching the dancers portray the story and so it had to keep up with what was happening and being soothed by the music.  It had nowhere else to go and so it settled down and enjoyed itself.  Do you find that you have activities that help your mind slow down a bit?  If so, why not share them here so we can give them a try.

Friday, 27 January 2012

January Blues

Today is day five of week four of January.  Boy does January seem to last a long time each year.  It can be a depressing time of year - a  bit dark, a bit gloomy, pay day seems forever away and Christmas - well let's face it - that's just something from last year now isn't it.

So today I suggest that you do something nice for yourself.  Indulge in something that you enjoy.  I'll leave the choice of what that may be to you - a longer than usual bubble bath, putting time aside for yourself to read your book or a magazine, doing some meditation, chatting with a friend on the telephone or even better meeting up with them in person, having a slice of cake, inviting your partner to join you for an unexpected meal out or cooking something wonderful and enjoying it in the comfort of your home, riding your bicycle, cuddling the cat or even booking a break away or your summer holiday - oh it seems I've listed all the nice things that I'd like to do. 

Go on be kind to yourself today and give yourself a treat - you deserve it.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


I have started attending a new yoga class on a Tuesday night.  It is run by a nice man called Russell and I hope to get there most weeks if possible as one of my aims this year is to have more yoga in my life.  I particularly liked the fact that when we arrived last week, Russell announced that the theme for the evening was contentment.  He reminded us throughout the class of the theme particularly when we were struggling to get into a position or pushing ourselves too hard.  If our hands didn't touch the floor in the forward bend, he reminded us to be content to let our bodies get to where they wanted to this particular evening - to be content with things just as they are right now at this point in time.  It was good to be reminded about contentment, especially in these times of striving for the next thing and the next.  By reminding us of the contentment theme, I personally felt that the class was gentler somehow - I was given permission to just be content with everything as it was at that particular time.  There was no pressure to push my body further than it wanted to go and I was content to let my mind rest and be peaceful during the session. 

It also reminded me how easy it is to forget about times that we are content in our lives.  We rush around and try to fit everything in and often we push ourselves harder and harder.  Advertisers are always trying to sell us the next best thing rather than letting us be content with what we have - I guess that's just the way of the world.  But thank you Russell for raising this theme.  I have been thinking about it this week and considering just how content I am.  In particular one evening last week I sat in front of a fire - the burning embers warming me through.  In one hand was a hot cup of tea to sip and in the other my copy of the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes.  I managed to finish the first part - A study in scarlet and it was fabulous.  Yes I was content and even more so knowing that I could light the fire again another night, make another cup of tea and the rest of the book was still ahead of me.

Have you considered contentment recently?  Rather than focussing on areas of discontent, can you be easy on yourself and find contentment in who you are, where you are and what you are doing right now?  If you are struggling to do so, just give yourself permission to be content.  After all tomorrow is another day.....

And if you are interested in attending Russell's yoga sessions, please check out his website here: www.yoga-bija.me.uk/

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Welsh Rarebit and Montgomery

I was fortunate enough at the weekend to take a trip to Montgomery in Powys which if you've never been is a joy in itself.  Some would say that there really is nothing much to see and yet it is a firm favourite for both me and my husband.  One of the reasons we like to go is so that we can have something delicious at the Castle Kitchen.  If you turn up around lunchtime you will find warming soups, fresh quiches and the usual selection of sandwiches - all of which look great.  However, Andy and I both agree that their welsh rarebit takes some beating.  If it's on the menu you can order one or two slices.  Always order two - not because they are small but because once you've eaten one you just want to keep going.  How can I describe it - it's melted cheese heaven.  If you turn up after lunch, make sure you have some room for cake as there is always a wonderful selection.  At the weekend, I chose a slice of victoria sandwich and Andy opted for carrot cake - although there were also cherry and almond and apple and cinammon plus coffee and walnut and of course scones and flapjacks.  Castle Kitchen also let you know that they source their products locally and if it's a bit chilly you'll find a welcoming fire going in the downstairs woodburner.  It's a charming place and well worth a visit.  You can find them on the web here:  www.castlekitchen.org

Once you are full of lovely food, head to Bunners the local hardware store.  I know the local hardware store - why oh why would I be sending you there.  I can't say that I am a big fan of hardware stores but this one you have to see.  It has been trading since 1892 and can sell you anything from a screw or nail to cupcake cases to ride on mowers.  It is set on different floors and their range of stock is amazing.  I imagine their annual stock take must take at least a month.  Again you can check them out here: www.rhbunner.co.uk  Although the shop was not open on Sunday, we were able to read with interest they a cat they had found was currently being looked after by them.  Or in their words, he was currently enjoying their hospitality. 

So if you are looking for a little old world charm and one of the best slices of welsh rarebit that I've ever tasted add Montgomery to your places to visit list.  Enjoy

Friday, 20 January 2012

January Resolutions

And so here we are again - another January in another year. 2012 is with us no matter how we feel about it and how are we all feeling about it?  Optimistic, enthusiastic, expectant, anxious, depressed or unhappy? 

I'm not one for roaring into the whole new year's resolution thing.  I think after Christmas you need time.  January can seem long and dark and is for many animals a time to hibernate, rest up and take it easy and yet us folk decide to go all gung ho and set ourselves new year's resolutions.  We decide that from the 1st January we shall be fitter, thinner, get a new job, train for a new career, start a new relationship or end a relationship.  Perhaps it's the year that we'll run that marathon, take a long road trip, volunteer, learn to play the piano or perhaps we are looking to embark on a journey of being different rather than doing different things.  Maybe it's a year for doing less, a time to find ways of relaxing and being still.  Perhaps we want to make a difference or be a better friend or act with more consideration to others.  Wow what a lot of choices we have.  Is it any wonder that it all seems hard to achieve and often new year's resolutions have fallen by the wayside by mid January or early February.

I'm not saying that having goals and things to aim for in life is wrong.  In fact I am a believer in it.  After all if you're not sure where your focus is, how will you get there?  But I do think that one of the key parts in setting your resolutions or goals or whatever you prefer to call them is to think about what you really want rather than what you should be doing or how you should be behaving.

A friend and I were discussing this matter earlier in January and she was telling me the things that she wanted to do this year.  Just hearing this change in semantics made it more interesting to me. I could do things I wanted to do this year, rather than feeling guilty about making decisions or choices around shoulds and coulds and maybes and if onlys. So instead of I should try and get a magazine article or story published this year, my list becomes: I want to get a magazine article or story published. Instead of if only I could be a stone and a half lighter this year, my goal becomes I want to be a stone and a half lighter this year. Somehow, this all feels more positive and less constrictive.  I feel there is less pressure and I don't have to feel guilty. 

Of course you will make your own decisions around how you set your own goals or resolutions but remember too that the clock chiming at midnight on new year's eve and a glass of celebratory bubbly is not the only time you can resolve to do or be something different.  Each and every morning brings a new beginning and the same choices to make changes are available to you.

Wishing you all the best for 2012 whatever choices you decide to make for yourself.