I read thirteen books this year. I’m happy about re-establishing reading after years of total drought. Some say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. It’s taken me nearer twenty one months. At first my concentration was so poor I had to read every paragraph repeatedly, forcing myself to put down my phone for twenty minutes at a time. Then, slowly, I began relishing phone dumping; books morphing into pacifier and portal; a way to slow down time and accelerate perspectives.
How long does it take you to make a change?
More about the malarky that is #52and40 here.
I’ve found so much in the Pentlands since moving to Edinburgh. Beauty and calm, mostly. Birds. Space to walk and run out problems, too. Places to be with the kids, to eat and talk. The city’s wonderful but if I didn’t have something opposite to frame it, I’d appreciate it much less.
One 2016 day I found the remnants of a Nazi Training Camp in the Pentlands. My intuition had told me something wasn’t right, I didn’t realise exactly what till I saw this, two weeks later.
Take nothing for granted, I guess.
I’ve never seen a Scottish Autumn and Winter as beautiful, so far, as what 2016’s given.
The beauty in these seasons is going a long, gentle way to keeping breathing through the humanity shitstorm we’ve seen happen around the world this year. It’s easier to believe we’re not all doomed when nature’s on its best behaviour.
As my own shield and sword, I’ve added focus to health and work ethic. These things help my locus of control stay internal so fear doesn’t breed with downtime to create mischief.
Everything else is weather.
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I don’t rage against the dying of the light in a Scottish Autumn. I like putting on lamps in the afternoon and seeing into people’s windows from the bus; stealing details for stories. I relish the warmth of the house in contrast to the new chill outdoors.
I’m letting the idea that, ‘what’s in the way is the way‘ guide my creativity since hearing it on a podcast. It’s illuminated a lot for me about further tuning victim narratives into survivor stories; I’m enthralled with the empowerment born from simple cognitive adjustments.
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Triple-thinking is (to me);
- Thinking about something and failing to make a decision.
- Thinking about the something again then making a decision that’s carried out with rumbling uneasiness.
- Regretting the decision and thinking about how I should have done it differently.
It’s an inefficient cycle I started at a time when high stress collided with an enforced period of time on my hands and in my brain, resulting in diluted mental acuity.
I worried too much about being wrong rather than being. Now I get more head space for doing.
It strikes me that not knowing how to do something is not a good enough reason for not trying to do it. Lots of people don’t like that fact, if you state it as your reality.
We like to believe that there are things we can do and things we can’t do. Our minds like to trick us into thinking that if we just stick to the things that we can do then we’ll be safe and everything will be easy. Yet, when we stick to safe and easy we usually just end up a bit bored and predictable; pink turns to beige and joy turns down its volume to a lightly sighing contentment.
Our minds do us a disservice, quite a lot of the time. We live in a society that promotes ideas of fear as if they were oxygen. Our western stream of consciousness screams self-esteem and yet largely still belittles people with the audacity to value themselves. Our conditioned thoughts place limits on us and shut doors to rooms we can’t imagine ever entering, because we’ve told ourselves they’re not for us to see or enjoy and that they’re for someone more suitable.
Then you hear a story about someone who just stepped into a room that they’d previously cordoned off and how they started making their way, tiny step by step, across the carpet to the window. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear a person like that tell the story of enjoying an entirely new view and then looking back into the hallway with a reborn perspective on their life and how they frame ideas. These people then start to say things that are borne from possibilities rather than fear. Maybe one day they’ll run a 10k, or go to China and take photos of old men in old villages wearing old hats, or cook a full traditional Turkish meal, or swim in the sea.
Some people who hear the maybes will think the person they’re listening to has gone mad.
Other people will see or hear something that tells them the other person has never been more sane. The person who’s travelled from one way of thinking to another knows that they’ve poked a hole through the matrix and seen reality without the limiting filter on.
And that they can’t go back to where they were.
Sometimes, when we’d really like someone to change, we can be willing them on and unknowingly blocking them.
Anyone I’ve known who ever changed (including myself) did so because of a big shock; a lambasting, gargantuan shock of the hand grenade in the mind variety; the type that obliterates then rewrites whatever went before.
Willing someone to change isn’t enough. Stepping out of a space to allow change to happen is, perhaps, a gesture of acceptance and hope.
And gently freeing yourself from the barbed wire is an act of love.
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