The things you see on a walk…

I’ve always believed that walking is equally beneficial to your mind, body and indeed your soul.

Physical benefits – heart, lung and muscle work- surely we all know about those. Blood flowing through your veins; fresh air and exercise. Marvellous stuff – helps keep the weight down, and more importantly helps keep you healthy too.

But here are three examples of the mind and soul benefits from my early morning walk around Poet’s Walk and the Marine Lakes in Clevedon.

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Soul-food. Not my finest photograph – I had an all-purpose lens on the camera – but maybe you can just see the sunlight catching the lower mandible of this wren, singing for all it’s worth. You can certainly see it’s distinctive tail sticking up. A fabulous sight and sound. I just stood and listened for a while – set me up for the day.

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A bit of brain fodder – certainly food for thought. When you walk, you have the chance to notice things that you’d never see if you were in a hurry. You wouldn’t notice this old gateway if you were jogging around Poet’s Walk, I bet. But if you wonder while you walk, you can easily work out that this is a left over from the days when there was a lower path on the hill: maybe even a path down to the water. They are gradually replacing the fences along Poets’ Walk, and one day this gateway will be gone. A hint, a clue, about the changes going on quietly around us will have vanished.

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A rarely seen spectacle. Well, water regularly fills the Marine Lake as the tide rises, but the sun doesn’t often turn the cascade into quite such a silvery curtain as this. Maybe the calm of the sea added to the sight, but it was worth a photo.

So there you have it: just three of the things I saw that made my walk special. And the truth is, there is always something worth seeing: you just have to get our there! Walking for pleasure, indeed.

The grit in the oyster …

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Beautiful evening yesterday, and a beautiful day today. As my good friend Sue has commented, I am very lucky to have the life I have. The world is my oyster, as I am living in a very lovely part of the world, with time to do the things I enjoy: writing, taking photographs, painting,  finding out about online selling, blogging, and writing ebooks. Yes, I am half way through a book, and will tell you more shortly. When we relocated from Hertfordshire, we were anything but certain that things would work out well …

I think the biggest piece of luck is to have a partner with whom I am very in tune. It is so much easier to do new things and take a risk when you have someone who is thinking along the same lines as you and who is willing to take the risks with you.

There is a little bit of grit in my oyster of course, as few people have a life that is silky smooth and through which they glide without any ripples. Nicely mixed metaphors there! My point is that it’s the grit that makes pearls, and it’s the fact we need to find ways to make money in a way that we enjoy and can share that is adding a potential pearl to our lives. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we are learning so much as we try different creative lines to see where our best chance of success lies. Not that we want major financial success. Far from it, as we are hoping just to make enough so that I can continue to work from home and spend time with Alec rather than being committed to a full time job. We want to be pursuing projects that we enjoy, rather than things that are money making schemes.

The pearl, if – when -we achieve it, will be a life that has variety, keeps us thinking and happy, and gives us enough income to be able to make choices, and to visit family and friends when we want to. I am more than happy to work until I am 80+ so long as I can work at something I enjoy!

Hang on –  Margaret means pearl … spooky!

Living well

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I must start by dedicating this post to my dad, Gerald Charles William Wistow, who died early this morning aged 88.  You might think I am a heartless beast to be writing a blog on a day such as this, but of course I have some thoughts in my mind that I am working through, so my reasons for writing are a little selfish.  And I really don’t mind if no-one reads any further!

I was with dad just a little more than 24 hours ago, and we were able to have a good chat, and to understand how much we mean to each other.  How fortunate we were that he had his mental facalties until the end. He was also clearly reconciled to his coming death, even happy about it.  So he died at home, in comfort and at peace.  And that is a very lucky way to go.

One of my heroes is George Harrison and watching Living in the Material World, the excellent film about his life, his wife Olivia explained that he had been determined to make a good death – to be as ready spiritually as he could be.  That really struck a chord with me.  It’s not necessarily about having strong formally religious faith, but I think an essential part of living well is thinking about your place in the bigger scheme of things, and how content you will be when the inevitable happens and you leave this life. What do you want your legacy on earth to be? What will you have left behind that you are proud of? And, whatever your religious and philosophical beliefs, will you be able to say with sincerity that you have worked out what your principles are, and have tried your best to live by them?  To my dad,  raising his family was the most important thing, and he took an interest and delight in news of his grandchildren until his very last breath.

I am happy for my dad.  A good, honest life, and in the end a good death.

Make the most of days like this …

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What a fabulous morning.  Blue skies, almost warm.  Wildlife and people out and about, enjoying the weather and feeling good about life.

Maybe you have to have winter and floods to really appreciate the beautiful days, or maybe we’re just hard-wired to respond to the light levels and the blue of a clear, sunny sky.  Whatever the reason, life is too short, so leave the housework, get out there and enjoy!

Balance in all things

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And I guess a picture of the view from an aeroplane window shows just that.  Ask a physicist for a proper explanation, but it’s to do with lift and thrust balancing mass and gravity, resulting in forward motion.  Or something very like that.

Recently I’ve been thinking about health and happiness, and it’s a lot easier to have both if you have balance in your life.  Some of those things people keep saying really are true: balanced diet, balanced budgets, work- life balance … any more? A good golf swing, or ski-jump, perhaps.  It’s the basis of the Tao yin /yang symbol, male/female, light/dark.

But how do you achieve it?  Well, surely you have to start with self awareness.   Most of us need to practise to take a realistic look at ourselves.  Sometimes of course there are massive catastrophes that we can personally do nothing about (I’ve just been watching the news with pictures of the floods in Somerset), but most of the time, for most of us in the UK life is far from catastrophic. In those normal situations it can be very easy to blame outside agencies – the boss, the trains, the government – for the things that are wrong in our lives… but in fact we can all make small adjustments to our lives to move towards balance.

A great place to start is with physical balance – literally focusing on balance. When you practise skills such as tai chi or yoga you have to focus on small internal issues – which muscles you’re using, how you are standing (hip pushed out? Leaning forward?) Emptying your mind, thinking about relaxing and breathing while achieving balance is more challenging than it sounds, and for me it was a big step along the way to understanding myself better.

If you are feeling that you aren’t in control of your own life, why not try something like tai chi or yoga, and see if it starts to help you get more balance.