How did I get on with my eight-week mindfulness course?

There's a book that's been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time, as I was waiting for a time when I was going to commit to doing the eight-week course inside it properly.

Recently, that time came, and having completed my eight weeks of mindfulness training, I'm going to share exactly what I thought.

Here's the book:
Mindfulness - a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world
Mark Williams and Danny Penman
- includes a CD of guided meditations

Mindfulness has been something I've experimented with on and off over a number of years, and it's really only been in the last year that it's started to click, for me.

I wanted to see what it would be like to follow a more structured formal practice, to take it that step further towards becoming a part of my daily life.

Throughout the eight weeks, I've kept detailed notes on my thoughts, so this may be a lengthy post but I hope some people find it helpful or interesting!

The techniques in the book are bas…

The Reading List #47

I've recently got a new phone so I've been scrolling back through all my old photos and actually organising all the photos and notes of books I still need to share.

That means there's plenty of mini reviews on the way over the next few weeks...

For today, here's the latest four:

The Betrayals, Fiona Neill

Rosie and Lisa have always been best friends, until Lisa has an affair with Rosie's husband. Years later, Lisa sends Rosie a letter asking for her help.

There are four sides to this story: Rosie, Nick and their kids Max and Daisy, and each take it in turns to narrate chapters. The voices were clearly defined and the thread of the story was strong, even when being viewed from multiple angles. The central storyline features a couple of moral dilemmas which were interesting to unpick, but what really set this book apart was the descriptions of Daisy's OCD. It wasn't the main point of the story, but played a very critical role in how a lot of the characters ide…

Getting a life

If you know me in real life or just through my online life, it's pretty evident that this has been a year of big change.

I've not exactly been quiet about it and I've charted my progress through living back at home, counselling, moving to Chester, learning to eat again, learning to work out and get fit, starting yoga... It's been a journey, as they say, and it's a journey that continues to evolve every day.

After years of being mentally unwell and treating my brain and body badly, or healing only so far as 'putting a plaster over things' and carrying on, this year has been a year of total and proper change.

There's been a lot of deep thinking, of digging through past thoughts and past behaviours, and replacing and renewing and relearning.

I've been rediscovering parts of me that I had lost, reuniting with the parts of me I and those around me missed, reintroducing pasttimes I used to love, and saying goodbye to unhealthy, unfulfilling habits.

As a p…

Hello, November 2017

Month 11 of 12 in 2017.

I could probably write a whole post wondering where the time went but I won't, because I think we all feel the same way.

Last month, everything stepped up a gear.

I was busier than I've been in YEARS (no exaggeration there). I was in month one of a new job and started two new courses (an Alpha course and a creative writing course).

It was extremely busy, but I feel so lucky when I reflect and realise that my time is packed with things I absolutely love. My new job role is doing something I love and would do even if it wasn't paid, I'm meeting great new people and I'm spending time adding in hobbies and events I enjoy.

I've also realised that I'm reintroducing many things I used to spend all my time doing, but for various reasons including my anxiety I had pushed to the back of my mind. I'm talking about singing, theatre, creative writing, meeting new people...

This must be the reason my happiness has been pretty high, too. I'…

Finally home.

Since moving to university, I've never been settled in one place for very long. For many reasons I've hopped around, but that's meant I've been living in a very temporary frame of mind for about five years.

I've moved from York to Darlington to Cheshire to Stockport to Macclesfield to London to Cheshire to Chester.
All since 2011.
Whilst some have been clustered closely together, they've still been moves. I've never felt like the place I've moved to will be home for the foreseeable future.
Moving is stressful; anyone who has ever moved house will tell you that.
But for me it's not so much the moving that's been an issue, even though that hasn't been easy. It's been that sense of unrest I've felt whilst living there.

For various reasons, each of the places before my current one was temporary. It might have been because of the time span of university, or because of an uncertain job situation, or because I was temporarily back with my p…

Goodbye Christopher Robin

I'm not a huge film person and go to the cinema fairly rarely, but it's something I'm working on changing as I'm learning to appreciate it much more.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon watching Goodbye Christopher Robin and I'm so glad we made the time to fit it in. I saw Margot Robbie talking about it on the Graham Norton Show and couldn't not go along and see what she was talking about.

Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the story behind Winnie the Pooh. In a post-WW1 world, happiness is hard to find and people begin to find it in the pages of children's stories written by A A Milne. Created based on his own son and toys, and on time the pair spent together, the stories blur the lines between truth and reality. It's a fascinating story, an interesting insight into England following the War and a beautifully told story of a little boy who wasn't allowed to ever grow up properly.

I knew very little of Milne's story, and I think this was the perfect w…

Blood Brothers - 30th Anniversary Production, Storyhouse Chester

Willy Russell's 'Blood Brothers' is an iconic show for so many reasons, and the current touring production is possibly the best I've seen yet (this is viewing number three in the last ten or so years).

The show is currently on its 30th anniversary tour and arrived at Storyhouse in Chester for a week, which is a stunning venue and a perfect home for the show.

Visually, the productions I've seen have all been very similar, with the staging very consistent, so it's the actors who make up the cast that make the difference to the show. It became very quickly apparent that they've selected the best of the best for this tour.

Blood Brothers has long been one of my favourite shows, and even when read on paper is fantastic. On Tuesday evening, those words were lifted off the page in the very best way I've seen yet. Act One was laugh-out-loud funny and packed with heart, and Act Two was raw, gritty and heartbreaking. There's a lot to pack into one evening in …