Stillness

I thought it was about time I wrote about something other than babies. I’m not sure it’s possible, but I’ll try.

Last Saturday we had a day out at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. It’s a beautiful old building. There’s a large atrium with a glass dome in the ceiling, lots of marble and polished stone. And the exhibition rooms are ornate. Silk and velvet wall coverings, parquet floors and so very quiet, so very still.

I went for a walk along the beach yesterday. I love to walk at the beach; the space, the expanse of the horizon, the sounds of the wind and the sea. Another place where my mind finds solace and stillness.

I think I’ve mentioned previously, on #100factsaboutme, that I like sitting in empty churches. Large rooms, high ceilings, polished stone, lots of art to observe, space and stillness to contemplate, or just be.

I find that all of these places have a similar vibe, for me anyway. I’ve been visiting these places, and finding comfort in them, for many years now, even more so, during my time of depression.

I was born, baptised and raised Roman Catholic. At the age of 17, like many of my peers, I stopped going to church. Out of respect for my Father (whose faith is very strong), I consulted him about my decision and made a promise to him that my cessation of attendance was not out of laziness but out of a genuine confusion about my religious and spiritual beliefs. I could make that promise, because it was true. It still is.

I am interested in all religious, spiritual and faith systems. I genuinely am. And I have taken some time, over the years, to read about some other religions and faith systems, talk to people who subscribe to them and try to understand them more. And I intend to continue to do so, if and when I can find (or make) the time.

The way of life that I am continually drawn back to, is Buddhism. I’m not sure I want to “become” a Buddhist (if that is even an action), but the teachings of the Buddha (in comparison to the teachings of others) are the ones that seem to make the most sense to me. With a few exceptions, for example, karma. Conceptually, I agree that, in this life, what goes around comes around. But, I’m not sure I can believe in actual physical rebirth.

Buddha teaches compassion, respect and kindness, and I think (I hope) that we all get that.

He teaches not to become attached to material things, I get that too. He teaches not to become attached to others, which I am still trying to fully understand. Others can not make you happy or sad, only you can do that. I love my Beloved deeply, it is not his job to provide my happiness and conversely, I can not blame him (or anyone else) for feeling angry or unhappy. I can choose to be happy or angry or sad. But, this is a difficult thing to master!

And then there is the love I have for my kids. It is unconditional. When they are sick or unhappy, I find it difficult not to be affected by that. So, in this way, my attachment to my children is one that I could never break. (I knew I couldn’t get through a post without including them! :-))

A large element of Buddhism, one that everyone recognises as being associated with that way of life, is meditation. Just being. And I think my long time draw towards empty churches, the expanse of the beach and quiet corners of old buildings like Art Galleries, (and my perennial mission to practice yoga) all illustrate that I’ve actually been practicing this teaching, in a fashion, for years.

Another thing that the Buddha teaches us, which I can really relate to, is that one should question everything. Even the Buddha himself and his teachings. Well, I feel like I’ve been doing that since I was born, too!

Maybe I’ve been a Buddhist all along 🙂

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And the Liebster Blog Award goes to…

Leibster Blog Award

OK, so this award doesn’t quite work like that. But still, I am tremendously honoured to be nominated.

About a week ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award. I’d seen a few blogs with this award in the past, but hadn’t really taken the time to find out what the award was for. Having been nominated, I decided to do a bit of research. I found a blog post on Sopphey Says, in which the writer thinks she may have found the origins. The post she refers to is in German. My German is not so good, so, out of sheer laziness (another of my personality traits) I’m going to blindly accept the explanation she is offering.

Originally – or as far back as I or Sopphey can tell – the rules were:

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate 3 to 5 blogs with less than 3,000 followers.
3. Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
4. Add the award image to your site.

More recently, I’ve seen rules nominating 5 bloggers with less than 200 readers and my own nomination came with a rule to nominate 11 bloggers and pose them 11 questions to answer. As Sopphey points out in her post, it’s kind of like a chain letter. [I hate chain letters and never pass them on – please don’t be offended Anna! read on :-)].

In this case, though, I will make an exception. Because, actually, this award is about being recognised by your peers. Kind of like a “Man of the Match”. And that, to me, is the highest form of recognition one could hope to receive. And I really like the fact that the name of the award translates to “Love Blog” (I’m a Marketeers dream – another trait, I am slowly coming to accept).

The fact that someone actually reads my blog amazes me. The fact that someone likes what I write makes me ecstatic. And the fact that someone likes my blog enough to nominate me for an award, telling others to check it out … well, I’m just on top of the world right now.

I have answered the 11 questions Anna has set me, in a separate post – you can read them here – it would be rude of me not to do so, when she has asked in such magnificent fashion 🙂 But I won’t set any questions for my nominees. And I’m going to change Anna’s rules slightly… well, I’m going to revert to the rules above (as original and I can ascertain).

So, I’d like to thank Anna at pinkjumpers , with all my heart, for nominating me. She’s a far better writer and blogger than I, at half my age! Had someone else nominated me, she would definitely be on the list below. Check out her website – you will not be disappointed, I promise.

And here are 5 more blogs that I would like to nominate for the Liebster Blog Award (in no particular order), and why:

1. Thoughts of a Lunatic – Having suffered from depression myself in the past, mental illness (and challenging the stigma of mental illness) is something that is close to my heart. The honesty with which Erica writes is inspiring. I can relate to almost every post on her blog. She is a brave, she is smart and she is funny.

2. Momamorphosis – I love Jill’s posts. They make me laugh, out loud! I’ve found myself in so many similar situations with my babies and Jill writes without pretension, with humour and with love. She reminds me that when parenting feels insane, that’s actually quite normal, and inspires me to see the humour in the madness.

3. Hot Pink Underwear – Meagan writes about her life. She doesn’t always have the answer, but writing it down puts things in perspective for her. I totally get that. Her writing is from the heart, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s angry, sometimes it’s sad. It’s always true. Or at least it reads that way to me.

4. Yoga + Writing +Life – Ellyn is a yoga instructor. But not the perfectly serene variety that you see in movies. Like everyone else, she sometimes struggles with the ‘path to enlightenment’. But when she finds herself challenged, she takes a deep breath and keeps trying. Her posts comfort me, help me to accept my imperfections and remind me of the path I seek to travel. And when it all gets too much, Ellyn has given me a mantra I use regularly; “I breathe in, I breathe out”. Try it for yourself – it works wonders 🙂

5. I also want to nominate Raising My Rainbow – although technically with more than 4,500 followers, the rules don’t allow it. However, reading stories about the life of C.J. (a gorgeous, gender non conforming child) and his Mom, reminds me that we are all equal in this world. Our colour, religion, gender and sexuality don’t define us. Our compassion, kindness and respect for others does.

So, there you have it. My contribution to spreading the love. My expression of gratitude to those who unknowingly contribute to my life on a daily basis. A salute to my blogging Heroes. Or Heroine’s, I should say, as they are all women. I’m sure that tells us something about me. Maybe that’s a subject for my next post.

*Post publish note – I will not be offended in the slightest, if any of my nominees do not want to pass the award on (see my usual stance on chain letters above) 🙂

 

11 Questions, 11 Answers

I was recently nominated for the Liebster Blog Award, you can read about that in full here.

As part of the nomination, the lovely Anna at pinkjumpers, set me the following 11 questions to answer. 11 is a big number – so, I thought I would give it the respect that it deserves and give them a post all to themselves.

There are some really good questions here. And by good, I mean I really had to think hard to answer them.

Are you sitting comfortably? OK, let’s get started…

1. What advice would you give to any aspiring blogger?

Write from your heart.

2. What happened on the best day of your life?

I have two… the days my babies were born.

3. (Inspired by my very own hug-list!) If you could hug anyone, who would you choose?

My babies, all the time. Boring Mummy answer – I know – but, they are THE BEST hugs in the world.

4. Are you a morning or a night person?

I used to be a night person. But with 2 kids under 3, I’m pretty much neither at the moment.

5. If you became the ruler of the world, what would you do first?

Start practising yoga! And get the world to practise with me 🙂

6. What is the most impulsive/spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

I’m not sure I’ve ever been truly spontaneous. Maybe I should add it to my bucket list?

7. If you had to chance to meet a single character in history, who would you choose and why?

I’d want to meet Mitochondrial Eve, the woman in Africa whom we can pretty much all be genetically traced back to. The original Mum. And then I’d bring her back to the here and now, to tell us that we are all brothers and sisters and to ground the ones who won’t stop fighting with each other.

8. What is your favourite flavour of ice cream?

Chocolate. (Chocolate is pretty much my favourite flavour of anything)

9. What is your most prized possession?

The last 12 months have taught me that possessions are not important, people are. Saying that, I am permanently attached to my iPhone 😉

10. If you could only listen to a single song for the rest of your life, which song would you choose?

Oh my goodness! I can’t choose. I just can’t. Music is integral to life. It cheers us up when we are down, it empowers us when we need motivation and it provides us with solace when we are sad. And it’s bloody great for dancing!! It is a universal common ground. I couldn’t possibly pick one single song. It would be like saying I was going to be happy or I was going to be sad, forever.

11. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
Learning. I have learned so much about myself, and grown so much as a person, through writing my blog and reading other blogs. It’s pretty high up on my list of achievements to date 🙂