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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

26 June, 2011

Golden activities

It’s Wimbledon time again and I’m an addict, so for two weeks in the year, I juggle my time between the studio and the TV.  Not a confession I really like to make, but it’s something that began in my youth, and seems to me to be a connection between my mum and me, especially now that she’s no longer with us.

Also, the tennis has been really good this year.  For the first time in ages, it seems like the women’s game is a bit more open as the Williams sisters have been affected by injury and ill health in the last year, and the men’s game is really exciting and more international than ever.

My particular problem this year is that I am also weaving for two exhibitions with deadlines next week and the week after, and I’m a little behind schedule!  So I’ve been getting up earlier and starting weaving early and then popping in and out of the house to see what’s going on in the tennis whenever my body needs me to take a break.  It works quite well usually, with weaving for an hour, then a tea break to catch up on the tennis and then back to weaving….  It takes the players around 30 mins per set, so I can usually catch up with what’s going on, get a flavour of the atmosphere and how the players are responding, and then leave them to it for a while!

Whenever I stop to watch Andy Murray, I find myself having to go back to the weaving because I seem to affect his performance!  He always seems to struggle with his matches when I am viewing, and gets himself sorted when I’m not!!  Really, I don’t intend to jinx the poor man!!

Anyway, I was starting to feel a little guilty about this ‘leisure activity’ of passively watching the tennis, when I read an article talking about the quality of how we spend our down-time.  This writer was talking about golden, vacuous and vicious pastimes.

The golden pastimes are the times we spend in improving ourselves, whether through meditation, physical exercise, reading quality books, learning about something that interests us, consciously savouring experiences, and sharing quality time together. In other words, positive actions.

Vacuous pastimes are those where we are in our comfort zone and ‘chilled out’, such as watching TV programmes which are not instructional but are not total rubbish, reading books that don’t demand anything from us but which have an interesting storyline, watching films, sharing conversation over a meal together.  In other words, neutral actions.

Vicious pastimes are those which have the potential to do us harm, whether physical or mental, whether through active or passive means.  These kinds of pastimes are watching rubbish or violent TV, going for a blow-out meal or heavy drinking session, gossiping or reading gossipy magazines.  These are the easiest to choose to do, but also the most harmful to our psychological and physical well-being.

I read the article and thought about the content for a while.  It is interesting to realise that the first one is the hardest for us to select, and yet will give us the best physical and mental results, while the second is probably the one that most of us opt for for an easy life.  The third one most of us generally resist, but give in to occasionally, and usually feel really guilty about if we ‘indulge’.

The one thing it really made me do is stop to think what my leisure activities are contributing to my physical and mental health, and although I feel a bit guilty about my Wimbledon fortnight, I know that in general, I tend towards the golden activities.  I like my brain and body to be stimulated, pushed and extended, but I also fall into the second group because that’s often the only way I can spend time with my DH, especially at the end of the day.

Getting back to Wimbledon, just thinking about how dedicated these athletes are and what they put in to getting to the top of their game, and especially how important it is for them to do well at Wimbledon is also inspiring.  If they can do it for their sport, I can do it for my weaving.  So for me, Wimbledon is a spur as well as a pleasure.

Next week – week two!!  Bring it on!!

19 June, 2011

New Life at 81

Filed under: Life,Philosophy,Psychology,Travel — Tags: , , , — admin @ 2:16 pm

I don’t often write about my family life because I believe my family are due their privacy, but today is an exception.  You see, we have just come back from the most amazing wedding which was in Scotland yesterday.

The two people tying the knot were my Dad and his fiance. The reason I am so elated is that Dad is 81 and has just married a wonderful lady 30 years his junior.  We were friends in childhood as her gran and great aunt lived next door to us, and we spent quite a lot of time together when she came to see her relatives.

She has not had an easy life, and lost her husband about 18 months ago.  Dad went to help her sort things out and it grew from there.  My mum died four years ago, and Dad has a huge heart full of love, so it is so wonderful for him to find someone again to share it with.

The wedding itself was a really happy and relaxed occasion.  I had the honour to play the oboe for them during the signing of the register (accompanied by my cellist/pianist husband), and also the honour of doing the best man’s speech, which was a surprise to Dad!  The evening dance was a mix of disco and Scottish country dancing which was just brilliant and exhausting!  Everyone mixed in really well – both families really happy for them both, and all the Scottish friends very welcoming to us Sassenachs!!

They are now going to have a celebration down south with the English friends, where Dad is still sorting through things before moving up to Scotland.

At 81, he is starting a new life in new surroundings with a new partner!  As far as he is concerned, age is just a number (and as a man involved in numbers throughout his professional life, he knows how to manipulate numbers!!).  If he follows his mum’s example (who is still going at 101), they have a good number of years to look forward to together.

What a story of inspiration, hope and love for us all!  Cheers, Dad!  And good luck, good health and great happiness to you both!!

12 June, 2011

Listening to your body!

Filed under: Education,Life,Psychology,Weaving — Tags: — admin @ 1:00 pm

You know some mornings (happily rare for me!) when you wake up and you know that it’s really not going to be a brilliant idea to get up?  Well today is one of those days for me!

My eyes are so tired they want to stay closed, my thoughts are like mush, my body really heavy.  I get the feeling I’m being told to do nothing today, which goes against my plans written in my day book!!  But one thing I have learnt is to listen to my body and to distinguish between procrastination tiredness and genuine, body-healing tiredness.

I have a friend who suffers from ME and she described to me how she feels most days.  It sounds a lot like I feel today, but for me it’s an occasional day off.  For her it is a daily event.  I know that if I listen to my body I will probably wake up tomorrow feeling brilliant and full of energy.  She suspects that tomorrow she will wake up feeling exactly the same as she does today.  Sometimes it is all she can do to lift her head from the pillow and drink some water!  As for getting out to go to the bathroom, forget it!  My little glimpse of a fraction of what she has to deal with is helping me to understand how debilitating illnesses such as ME are.

For me, I shall wash the samples I finished at 11 pm last night (probably why I’m so cream-crackered today!) and do some research reading, or read through some of the magazines that I haven’t looked at yet….  If I fall asleep, so be it.  It will be an enforced relaxation day which I shall use in as constructive a way as my brain will let me.

For her, it will be another long, long day of watching the clock ticking out the seconds of her life whilst she is unable to do the simplest thing, and having to rely on her family looking after her.  She cries lots because tears can roll down her face without energy, and she feels so guilty because she has people who need her to look after them, not the other way around.  She has lost her job, her self-respect, and her dignity, and there is technically nothing physically or mentally ‘wrong’ with her.  That, she says, is the hardest thing to deal with.  People can see nothing wrong, and yet she is unable to move her body or think straight.  Sooner or later her family will run out of patience, and she is dreading that day.

So when you have a day which allows you an insight into another person’s life, spare a thought about how it must be to find yourself in that situation.  It makes me appreciate the difficulties she and her family face on a daily basis, and at the same time reminds me to be thankful that usually I am so full of energy and direction and that a lazy day for me today will allow me to bounce back tomorrow.

5 June, 2011

Never say never!

Filed under: Education,Life,Philosophy,Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

Never say never.

That is something I’ve learnt as I’ve grown older.  Things are so black and white when you’re a youngster, and as you see more of the world and experience life and injustice and unfairness, you realise that very few things remain so clear.

As a teenager, I once said to friends and family that I would never marry a man with a bald head.  OK, so I didn’t marry him when he had a bald head, but now that it’s going bald, of course it doesn’t matter.  In fact, I now find bald heads interesting!  And short hair cuts on balding guys are just lovely to run your hands over (with permission first, of course!!) LOL!

So many things I declaimed as a teenager and twenty something are things I now find myself doing or appreciating and sometimes in discussions with younger folk, I find myself asking them to keep their minds open about things, and not shut things out because they don’t fit at the moment.

Were you the same as a teenager?  What did you say you’d never do that you now do?

At one time, I even said I would never teach weaving – probably when I was having a bad day with a class full of kids!!  I’m so glad I didn’t stick to that!  I have such fun with my students – they are amazing interesting people who have life experiences and knowledge that enriches my understanding of life.

Also, as is usual with teaching, you learn by teaching, so I find new ways of explaining techniques and drafting methods, new ways of doing things that helps a student understand, new ways of thinking that help to transfer information.  And by doing that, I get new ways of looking and thinking about things that translate into my own weaving – sudden insights that help me to develop another way of looking at a problem or devising a combination of techniques to get the result that I want.

Life continually throws us new challenges and by being prepared to change and adapt our ways of thinking, maybe even doing things we previously said we’d never do, then we thrive and grow!  My only caveat to that is that I hope I never find myself contemplating doing something that violates my most deeply held convictions!  But it’s something my son is going to have to come to terms with as he joins the forces and so it’s something that’s been on our minds recently.  At what point do you draw the line, or stand up and be counted?

‘Never say never’ can also help us overcome our own personal fears and phobias – like taking a job to teach music to classes of kids, which was a huge fear of mine – or facing a fear of flying or spiders.

As usual with most things, ‘never say never’ can have positive impacts, but also negative ones.  It’s what we are made of that counts, and for me ‘never say never’ is a positive approach to life.