Friday, 28 January 2011

A Winter Break

Next week we are off for a Monday to Friday break.
In England. In winter.

Still we will be in a warm comfy hotel with lovely indoor pool,
beauty parlour with treatments and massages
to sooth and pamper the frazzled guest,
and views over the water.

There is dancing, and music, and entertainment.
There are picturesque walks to explore when the weather is kind,
and all around the sounds and smells of the sea.
What more could I wish for?

Call me curmudgeonly if you like, but for me there is
one fly in the ointment.

My hubby is a flat green bowler,
and in the winter they retreat indoors, and they arrange
Bowling Breaks.

Yes dear readers, I who have a space in my head that says,
about anything remotely to do with sport of any kind,
am going on a
Bowls Break,
having been on them before and vowed,
"Never again!"

It isn't that bowlers aren't lovely people.
It isn't as if hubby will be playing.
(He wants and needs a rest as much as I do)
It's just that when on a Bowls Break my experence thus far has been
over meals, on walks, in the pool,
over drinks ,
(yes, even late night in the bar at the end of the day,
and the beginning of the next!)
the talk reverts to
In fact I have been tempted to say that the whole trip is a load of
_ _ _ _ _!
Fill in the blanks as you feel appropriate.

Well it's their hobby.
It's their break.
What can I expect?
It's I who am the odd one out.

So why am I going?

Hubby will enjoy it.
(Sounds noble but only part of the reason).
I actually just want to sink into my seat on the coach,
and get taken somewhere I can be waited on, rest,
and know that hubby will have all the entertainment,
and talk he enjoys, and while he does I can retreat quietly if I choose.
When hubby suggested it, the odd one or twenty times,
it seemed like it could be a good idea,
and in a moment of weakness I agreed.

Of course I will go with a good book, swimming costume,
and my sketch pad.
What I must try and leave behind is the glazed expression.

This is where my
Gratitude Attitude
must begin to fire on all cylinders.
You can see I'm already slipping by anticipating
a certain lack of enjoyment
on my part.

Perish the thought!
This will be the Winter Break of a life time.
(Why do visions of the January in Spain when we both went down
with winter vomiting virus rise to the surface of my mind as I say that)?!
You can see the battle I have to stay focused on the positive.

I will report back and be even more ashamed of how
inappropriate my anticipation of this mini holiday is than I am now.
Cos it will be fine. Fine I tell you.

God Bless!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Adopting a Gratitude Attitude

Life took a strange and painful twist over the New Year.

Nothing I can, or will, share here,
except to say that at times such as this
it becomes even more necessary to adopt what I have recently heard called a
"gratitude attitude".

St. Paul recommends that:-

Whatever is true, Whatever is honourable,
Whatever is right, Whatever is pure,
Whatever is lovely, Whatever is of good repute,
If there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise,
Let your mind dwell on these things.......
And the peace of God shall be with you.

I must confess that there have been many moments
in the last weeks when my mind was dwelling entirely somewhere other
than on the positives,
and that as a consequence peace has often eluded me.

It so easily happens when I'm exhausted.
Caring for the ones I love slips down a gear from merely caring,
to plain gnawing anxiety.

How much more necessary then to put the habit
of holding the sweet "normal" blessings of life constantly before me.
Then when the pressures mount, I'll have the scaffolding of my
"gratitude attitude"
so firmly in place that I won't fall apart.

A bit like a whale bone corset for the mind and spirit,
but hopefully with greater flexibility.

If all this sounds quaint and other-worldly,
a sort of
"what I don't acknowledge cannot hurt me,"
head in the sand stuff,
I'd like to point out that the newer
positive psychology and cognitive therapy movements
which help people cope with depression, stress and anxiety disorders
incorporate learning to
continually note the positives,
("counting your blessings", in old parlance)
as a corner stone of their methodology.

I love it when modern psychology apes the bible and the wisdom of the ages!

So there you have it. My New Year habit is
a gratitude diary
in which I list everything from the smallest to the greatest blessing of each day.

For example the sound of rain against the window
can be listed as a blessing.
O.k. it is from the comfort of my chair by the fire and I am Welsh,
which makes me positively amphibian,
but I do find it soothing.

Mostly, it has to be said that in the midst of all sorts of detritus which,
yes, is often caused by people,
it is people who are also the greatest blessing.

When I least expect it,
(shame on me!)
God blesses me through people.

One person who was a special blessing to me
for over thirty years was my dear friend Annie.
I went to the service of thanksgiving for her life
which followed her funeral yesterday.

There were no floral tributes.
Instead we were offered the opportunity to donate to Cancer Research.

Annie loved flowers though, so out of practice as I am,
when I got home I threw myself into making a small painting of flowers for Annie.
I don't know why, but I needed to do something.

So, rough as it is,
in gratitude for a Godly woman who radiated joy and gratitude to the end,
this is for you dearest Annie.