Well, well, well

Today I feel well. Mentally well. And it is blissful! I’ve got a smile on my face, a grin in my mind and I’m ready. Ready for life.

Ready to get up out of bed and up out of rest and up out of lethargy into physical activity, mental activity and social activity.

Because that’s how it works. I’ve finally come to understand this and work with it.
When I’m mentally well, everything else falls into place.
Physical wellness, social wellness, energy, stamina and motivation.

When I’m struggling mentally, everything else is just a big big struggle too.

This feeling of being well creates such a large freedom in my mind and comfortable relaxation in my body and calmness in my spirit. It really is a beautiful way to be.

And that’s all I need to do. Just be.

This is an important principle which I’ve been recently learning from my eight week course in mindfulness. Before everything, and after everything, you have yourself. Just you. In the moment, being, breathing, existing.

Does that sound a bit hippy dippy? I was worried that the course would be a bit, or a lot, too alternative for my taste when I started. This is exactly what I was worried about: having weirdo themes or confronting sayings and odd doings put before me. Or more concerning to me prior to the course was to have me put in the middle of the these beliefs or doings, helpless and defenseless at the disposal of strange beliefs and mores and subject to being humiliated or brainwashed!

I’ve had enough of educational kinesiology, homeopathy, standing up to your bullies and orange and blue thinking hats as a pre-teen to want any more, thank you very much.

Just a tad drastic and over-thinking and overly concerned! But that that was me then, this is me now.

What I found in the course were extremely practical theories, sensible physical exercises, useful mental practices and most of all down to earth, honest, real advice and help from a teacher who had suffered it all and found this way of getting up out of the abyss and back into an enjoyable, productive life.

So. Breathing. Noticing. Feeling. Really seeing. Hearing. Smelling. Tasting.

Not weird at all. Just things that you do anyway, but now you notice doing them. It was comfortable, and not at all difficult really; it just took concentration and attention and persistence and patience. And still does of course, if it is to be an ongoing practice. But no complicated routines, tricky disciplines or rote learning; nothing along those lines.

The class was a lovely group of ladies, all willing to give it all in terms of emotional contributions and sharing personal experiences usually held close to the chest. That was and is so important to me, having a collection of people all equally committed to the cause so that I don’t feel that I’ve been left high and dry sharing my own experience. We traveled side by side for 8 weeks to bring us out here to the other side.

And I’m sure every one of the ladies has also come out the other side with different thoughts, new approaches and in a different frame of mind, like I have. Actually I’ve been amazed at the vast change in how I mentally enter into new things now as compared to before.

Starting back at work for example. Ever since I went for a “routine” check up with my GP during my lunch break on the 3rd of March and didn’t make it back across the road to work, one of the major, over-ruling goals in my life has been to get back to work. Work had been one of my most defining feature for 8 years and losing it was hard to handle. I didn’t know how to think of myself when I wasn’t a practicing pharmacist. I was just…Danika. Just Danika. Weird. Of course there were other labels: wife, daughter, etc but I wasn’t used to thinking of these as useful careers.

In the first few days that I was having supervised bed rest at home all my thoughts were predominantly on what day, what time, how soon, can’t be off for long and hurry up hurry up and get back to work! It actually took several months effort on behalf of my husband, my psychologist, my GP and family and friends before I could FINALLY accept that work was NOT the most important marker of my health and not the biggest fish to fry! It took me about 4 months to let go and just accept being me, being at home, being in a recovery hold pattern and that work was not only not important but that rushing back too much too soon could actually be detrimental to my health.

So I had to do one of those romantic butterfly releases that some people have at their weddings. Metaphorically, not actually. And the release wasn’t pretty little butterflies but the idea of what I should be against what I am against what I might be. To let it all go.To Just Be. Just be me. Right now. Not what I was, not what I’m going to be. Just me, right now, being me. It really took most of the weeks of practicing mindfulness before I could let into my mind the ideas that others had been suggesting; to just enjoy the now and not worry so much about getting back to, starting again and catching up.

So, just me. Who am I?

What am I? How am I? Where am I? What do I do? What are my responsibilities? How do I measure my success now? What does my day look like? What do I like? What do I do?

Arghhh!

But getting back on the mindfulness train, the idea is to notice thoughts as they come across your mind but not to grab onto them, just to let them be as long as they’ll be then let them continue on. It’s actually much easier in theory to operate this way, thoughts coming and going. Rather than fiercely trying to cling onto to the thoughts that should be going on, or waiting poised to grab onto the next great thought that might be the one.

But it’s well worthwhile. Letting all those worry type thoughts just go on their way instead of gripping on while they poison the present. If you can; it’s not an easy peezy task. It’s one of those practice makes perfect kind of tasks.

But I have to say, when I walked back in through the front doors of work this time to restart work, as opposed to when I walked in for my first day of work, I noticed the difference.

Instead of freaking out about will people like me, will I be good enough, what if I’ve oversold myself and they catch me out and fire me and I’m humiliated and I’ll never get another job again, and what if I kill someone etc etc; just a little bit exhausting!!

I walked in calmly. And it wasn’t just the calm of knowing people, and having already proved myself and knowing the ropes, it was the calm of mindfulness. Knowing that whatever happens, I will be okay. All I need to do if everything goes to heck is breathe and regroup and nothing is ever really as bad as what our imagination can conjure up if allowed to roam free. If it goes badly, I’ll call it quits. If I can’t cope, I’ll say so and someone will help me. If I’m tired, I’ll let my supervisor know and I’ll go home. I have a contingency for everything, but now because I’ve thought out every possible scenario. Just because I know deeply that everything will be okay.

Such a different perspective! Instead of the what ifs, I have the answers. All of them. And it feels powerful! It’s very calming and quieting. I feel like I’m the one calling the shots, instead of running around of mouse wheel after someone else’s call.

I feel like this will be my strategy now, not the freaking out stressing trying to control every minute detail way. Just this calm, powerful way of rolling with the punches, taking like as it comes and not before, and letting it come and go as it will.

I’m hopeful, at the very least, and it gives me something active to do for myself every day, finding time to include mindfulness in hope of calmer, quieter, less stressful life.

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Corinella

Off I go to my third outing with Bird Life Australia!

Well not I, we 🙂 I’ve enrolled a good friend so that we can both enjoy the delights of what was forecast to be a fabulous day as well as some bird watching and some photography.

At 10am I was having my doubts about the day fining up. It took a while but as we were pulling into Tooradin for lunch around 12.30pm a single ray of sunshine finally burst through the fog and smog and misty cloudiness. And what a difference just a bit of  sun makes at any time; the colours pop, the heat warms, the birds come out to play and there is brightness and lightness everywhere! Lovely!

The drive down was through some very scenic roads and was lovely, but the fog was hemming us in and certainly restricted our view from several spots along the road. So it was nice to have sun start to break it up and have the day open up.

I forgot to take a photo of the Corinella Cemetery which was the site of last Friday’s bird watching. It is lovely and very old, so I’m sorry to missed that but here’s the first photo of the day.

Our first endeavour was to walk the perimeter of the cemetery which is part of a section of bushland held in trust for the cemetery. A path is cleared around the three sides meeting the bush, but we still had to watch out for bits of sticks, bracken and annoyingly, mosquitoes!

Okay, I finally got THE amazing shot I've been chasing with this beautiful female Superb Fairy-Wren! I'm bragging!, ferns, gum trees

Okay, I finally got THE amazing shot I’ve been chasing with this beautiful female Superb Fairy-Wren! I’m bragging!

Once I got the manual zoom going, I was unstoppable! And this darling robin hung around to give a novice enough time to fiddle with the settings!

Once I got the manual zoom going, I was unstoppable! And this darling Eastern Yellow Robin hung around to give a novice enough time to fiddle with the settings!

Aww isn't he/she just so cute? And I love love love the crisp sharp focus!

Aww isn’t he/she just so cute? And I love love love the crisp sharp focus!

Sick of him yet? How could you, he's so adorable - had to be the photo with the best detail!

Sick of him yet? How could you, he’s so adorable – this has to be the photo with the best detail!

Moving on once we had covered the perimeter of the cemetery, we moved along the road to find the start to the path cleared by Parks Victoria through the cemetery land so that we could walk through.

Then into the woods for another lovely adventure finding cute and varied birdies, and other bits and pieces.

Such fragile and vibrant wattles in bloom just now!

Such fragile and vibrant wattles in bloom just now!

A precious native orchid, the wild Nodding Orchid as pointed out to us by an experienced bush walker

A precious native orchid, the wild Nodding Orchid as pointed out to us by an experienced bush walker

The Victorian floral emblem, pink Heath - a poor photograph, I'd love to go back and experiment with lighting

The Victorian floral emblem, pink Heath – a poor photograph, I’d love to go back and experiment with lighting

Our guide tell us, anytime you see this fungus in the wild, gently turn it over and you'll see..., tree, ferns

Our guide tell us, anytime you see this fungus in the wild, gently turn it over and you’ll see…

THIS! The technical name includes vermillion, and that is the exact shade of the underbelly of this delightful fungus

THIS! The technical name includes vermillion, and that is the exact shade of the underbelly of this delightful fungus

And back along the first side of the cemetery.

A delightful mix of white and pink Heath in the Corinella Cemetery

A delightful mix of white and pink Heath in the Corinella Cemetery

And we’re done for another day. Lots of satisfaction getting good photos, and debating now the value of taking binoculars as well as a camera to get a good look at birds that aren’t photographable because of how far away they are.