The Alternative Bucket List

Standard

IMG_0632  IMG_0645

Don’t you just love those ‘bucket lists’ and ‘things to do before you’re insert age of choice here’ articles? No, me neither.  Who thought that was a good idea?  Did someone think ‘Oh I know, let’s make people feel more inadequate by telling them they should have snorkelled off some far-flung beach, sky-dived and got hideously drunk in a famous club, and all before they’re 20’?

How about putting this on your bucket list? Go for a walk among nature on a sunny day with your loved ones.  Sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet of your surroundings while eating a rather delicious scone, then go for a leisurely stroll, admire the view, take a few photographs and breathe in the fresh air; simple and achievable, with no need for specialist equipment other than a bottle of water and sun protection.

That’s on my list, and it’s a goal I’ve been able to achieve time and time again. I wonder if all these ‘must do’ lists only add to our anxiety about ageing and do little to make us feel we’ve actually lived well and to the full.  What consists of a fully-lived life is very personal to you and what you take pleasure from; that might be bungee-jumping in New Zealand, or spending the day walking round a stately home and gardens, or it might not.

In a bid to appear to be living our lives to the full (and putting it on social media) have we lost sight of (apologies for the cliché) the simple things; just being with those we love and admiring the world around us.

So what would be on your alternative bucket list? Think of the little things; a meal with your family in your favourite local restaurant, going to the cinema with your brother/sister, having coffee and a laugh with friends; life isn’t all about the big moments, it’s about the small ones too.  Don’t take them for granted, for they too will pass.

This post was inspired by a walk around the RSPB’s Arne Reserve in Dorset. It has a lovely café, where they serve delicious scones, and you can choose from several walks around the reserve.  The views over Poole Bay are wonderful and the walks take you through beautiful oak woodland, past purple heather and of course there’s plenty for bird watchers all year round.  Despite being a native of Dorset, this was my first visit to Arne, but I hope to make it a regular haunt in order to see the reserve in all seasons.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/seenature/reserves/guide/a/arne/

Photographs©VCUzzell2016

 

Advertisements

Life in the Safe Lane

Standard

img_20160325_131001.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last year I have become a keen swimmer, which is in stark contrast to my childhood self. I didn’t start learning how to swim until I was about seven-years-old, and I was terrified.  Looking back now I realise how lucky I was to have a pool at my school, but as I was struggling to stay afloat from one end to the other while my teacher shouted at me, my good fortune was quite far from my mind.

Everything about the experience was horrible; the cold changing rooms, the foot bath, the deep end in which I thought I would drown, and having to stay behind and swim extra lengths because I was rubbish. I love swimming on my back now, looking up at the water reflected on the ceiling and listening to the muffled sounds all around my little cocoon of hat and goggles; but as a child backstroke was accompanied by my teacher walking along the side of the pool holding a large pole, which she allowed me to hold onto, at first, and then she would pull it away and I’d suddenly panic and start to sink as she reminded me to kick, kick, kick!  The only positive of all this was the Kit-Kat I’d be given afterwards to restore my flagging energy.

As with all things at school, the children were divided up according to ability, and so I spent most of my time in the slow lane on the right-hand side of the pool for the less able swimmers. Occasionally, if I swam well I’d be moved to the next group, which should have pleased me as the further along I moved the better I was; but I hated this because it took me away from the comfort of the side of the pool.  I would even try to sneak back to the slow lane in order to maintain my sense of safety, only to be told off for doing so.

Reflecting on all this has made me realise that much like my frightened younger self who tried to cling to the side of the pool, I have continued to play it safe throughout life. This was also due to shyness, which held me back until my late twenties; in addition to a fear of the unknown and unpredictable.  Unlike most young people, I didn’t experiment with drugs, hardly drank alcohol, and never touched a cigarette, which I’m sure many would argue is not necessarily a bad thing (and I’d probably agree with them).  However, I don’t have all the ‘stories’ of fun, crazy times with friends, but then that’s also because I didn’t have that many as a teenager and young adult.  Fortunately, as I have got older, I have grown in confidence and my life has opened up too, but there is so much I missed out on as a young adult, which is a shame.

That reticence to leave my comfort zone was partly due to the safety of the side of the pool, and my reluctance to let go and bravely swim out into the world and experience it more fully and freely. Instead, I spent many years watching from the side as others lived life to the full.  I feel a certain sadness that I missed out on many rite-of-passage experiences in my younger years, but as I now swim happily, improving all the time, I hope that success and increasing confidence in the pool will once again translate into life and enable me to continue to expand and embrace all that life has to offer me without fear.

Better live now

Standard

I grew up in the eighties, so Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince were my world and their music was the background to every event, both happy and sad. I have now lost two of them.  I was sad when Michael Jackson passed, but not as much as I have been since the awful, truly shocking news appeared on a TV screen at the gym last Thursday, where I was when I heard that Prince had passed.  I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to; how could someone with so much vitality and passion for life be no more?

Even days later, as I struggle to write this through tears, listening to BBC 6Music paying tribute to Prince, I still cannot comprehend how we’ve arrived at this moment so soon. You know you’re idols will pass, you know it will be sad when they do; but you assume that will be when they are much older, and at the right time to do so, not aged 57 and still in their prime.

The thought which keeps running around in my head, along with so many of Prince’s songs, is ‘better live now’; Let’s Go Crazy is one of my favourites of his and the message of that song is poignant today. He lived life to the very max, ceaselessly working and producing at least one album a year, in addition to incredible live performances and after shows.  I was extremely lucky to have seen him at the 02 Arena in London during his 21 night residency there.  Needless to say he was amazing, and hearing the words ‘dearly beloved, we are gathered today’ as he rose up through the stage made me cry with joy.  Oh, and he was hot! I mean really sexy, but in a sensual way, which never degraded women but worshipped and often put them in positons of power within his tales of love and lust.

We are now gathered to mourn his loss and celebrate his life, as he gave so much to our own. Personally, it’s going to take me quite some time to get over his death and I cannot put into words how I feel, nor do justice to his genius.  Apart from the music, I hope everyone can take away that insatiable desire for life, and live it to the fullest ‘before grim reaper come knocking on your door.’

In loving memory of Prince, thank you.

primary_purple-rain-bike

 

 

Confront Your Own Mortality – Today! Now! – A shared post by The Sound of Summer

Standard

Source: Confront Your Own Mortality – Today! Now!

I had to share this straight talking piece written by The Sound of Summer, about the need to face up to our own mortality.  Not an easy thing to do.  I know I struggle with it.  However, I urge you to read it and go out there and live your life to the fullest!

Thank you for this day

Standard

Every morning I get up and go to my yoga mat, where I slowly wake up. At the end of my brief practice, I bow my head and say

‘Thank you for this day.  May all beings be blessed with love.  Namaste.’

Then I carry on with my usual work day routine, or if it’s the weekend, then I can take things as I please. Last Saturday, I went for a walk with my family; my brother drove my mother and I through beautiful sunlit country lanes to Lulworth Cove, a truly stunning area on the South Coast of England (mind you, as a Dorset native, I am biased), where we walked up the big hill which leads to the Cove, and spent a few hours ambling about the area.

It was an ordinary Saturday, just like any other, which I was grateful for; as I am every single day I walk this earth. The news is often depressing, with all the conflict and war in our world but Saturday afternoon, as the Bournemouth Air Show gave me an enjoyably noisy soundtrack to relax to at home after the walk, I was incredibly sad to hear that there had been an accident at the Shoreham Air Show, and many people had lost their lives as they went about their normal weekend routines.

It’s the random, sudden loss of life with no opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones that is so sad. It also brings home just how precious even our ordinary days are. We don’t think about it, do we? As we travel to work and go about our daily activities; we just don’t think, ‘I am so lucky to be doing this. The fact that I am here is a miracle within itself!’

At this point I must say I am not religious. If asked if there’s anything after this life, I’d say not likely, no. All the more reason to make sure you fully appreciate every moment you are blessed with, even the boring ones; the stuck in traffic, I’m exhausted, having a filing at the dentist ones. Ok, maybe not so much that last one, but I am just as guilty of not realising the blessing this life has given me.

I am grateful for this day. I went to work, then for a swim, and now I’m writing this. Not exciting, but still, thank you universe, or whatever I need to thank.

Thank you for this day

May all beings be blessed with love

Namaste

Wake up to your life

Standard

This was the heading of a recent article (attached below) from Elephant Journal which talked of the importance of trying to truly live every precious moment we are given on this earth.  It had been prompted by the sudden loss of a friend in an accident, which had made the author stop and think about their own life, as I did when I also learnt of the passing of someone I used to work with a few months ago.  Also, an accident when they were just going about their day.

Reading the article I was inspired, feeling that I too needed to make changes, to go for my dreams more, and so I wrote the phrase on my kitchen chalk board in bright colours, I bought more travel guides and resolved to go on some big adventure next year; but then a few days passed and I forgot about the plans, my head was filled with work and various every day anxieties and I fell back to sleep again.  I didn’t stay awake to my life.

This is a reoccurring pattern for me.  I get very excited about new ideas and projects and then lose interest, or just get scared by the magnitude of my grand plans.  In short, I give up, again and again.  I always have done.   I have tried everything to change it over the years; I’ve read personal development books, tried affirmations, vision boards and life coaching, but nothing seems to work.  Now, I find myself at a point where I am increasingly afraid that time is running out for me and I should therefore wake up to my life now, but also that there is no point, as nothing I try seems to work.  A seemingly fearful defeatist attitude I guess.

I’m very hard on myself, and offer no forgiveness when I know I’ve messed up by giving into fear and saying no to life time and again.  It’s partly based on shyness, which I struggled with well into my twenties, but even though I’m more confident now, I’m still held back by that part of myself that is just really afraid of the world.

I’m sure there are many people reading this that feel similarly about their own lives and don’t feel they’ve woken up yet.  I know I certainly haven’t.  I’m kind of drifting in and out of sleep, but certainly don’t feel awake and raring to go.  Yet I can hear time ticking away in the background and so I’ll keep preserving and hope that over the next year, I finally wake up to my life; and if you’re in the same position, I hope you do too.

This post was inspired by the following article:

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/dont-wait-until-the-end-to-wake-up-to-your-life/

Present, not late

Standard

The trouble is I want to do everything now.  I get ideas in my head, have all these plans, and get really excited.  Then I feel a bit deflated when I realise I can’t do them right away and I might have to wait.  And that’s the problem.  I don’t like waiting at all.  I’m actually quite impatient for a teacher.  I have patience in the classroom, but very little when it comes to my own life, and want I want to achieve.  I guess I’m just conscious of time ticking away and there’s so much still to do.  I feel a bit like the White Rabbit, running along, looking at my watch and exclaiming ‘I’m late!  I’m late!’  I can hear that tick, tick, tick and it drives me mad!

Like a little bad mantra in my head;

So much to do

So much to do

No time, no time

I’m late!

I’ve always been late.  I was born about ten days after my due date, went to college and university later, started travelling later, and started enjoying life later.   That’s why I have this urgent need to do, see and experience as much as I can, and I get frustrated when I can’t do things how and when I want to.  I want to live and feel alive.  I want to be present, not late.