Categories
Uncategorized

Thoughts Words Intentions

It’s that time of year, if you’re fortunate, you might find time to consider the glass… half-full, half-empty, tarnished, cracked… or sparkling with promise, bubbles, fizz and excitement…

As Em and I walked the dog this morning across the frozen field we commented on how Christmas changes as things change. Sometimes the glitter of youthful promise is exciting and wonderful. Getting older, the joy of the saged sparkle might be simply… delighting. 

“Anyone who wants to partake in mudita can… In the theatre of happiness, there is no limit.”

“It only takes a second, a flash of consideration…”

“Letting go is a direct route to space (literally) and stillness…” 

“You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather…”

“Don’t be the glass, become the lake…”

“Become more like water than a rock…”

The insights above come from an intriguing book I read recently, by Jay Shetty “Think Like a Monk”. 

The Rig Veda says “When there is harmony between the mind, heart, and resolution then nothing is impossible”

The thinking above, coupled with my fledgling attempts at the local yoga class have brought me closer to something new.

“The only thing that stays with you from the moment you’re born until the moment you die is your breath…” Jay Shetty

Yes, we still have to chop wood and carry water. After Christmas we’ll still need to chop wood, carry water. No matter how much we discover, we are never free of daily details and routines. But noticing some glitter or sparkle along the way might be a way of seeing past the weather.

“Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness… becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane.” Thich Nhat Hanh

As my yoga instructor shares at the end of a session…

Go, with…
The mind’s good thoughts, 
The mouth’s kind words,
And the heart’s honourable intentions…


There’s plenty of weather ahead… Don’t fear it. When buffeted by winds, we might respond to pressures and agitation by growing stronger, breathing deeper, and standing with renewed intentions.

From the grip of night, let the sun rise free.

Categories
Uncategorized

This being Human…

One of the many sayings we have at work is “leave your ego in the carpark”. I did so, and it got nicked.

That’s a light-hearted take on the fact that my new pride and joy, that I saved for years for, was stolen in broad daylight this week. Ripped from its highly secured refuge by someone with no conscience, morals or seemingly no sense of right and wrong. Yes, deep down I am still very angry.

I could go on about my bike and #cycletowork but to what end?…

Where I work we have a canon of poetry that we champion. One of the perhaps trickier poems to stomach is The Guest House’ by Rumi.

Before the week’s costly malevolence, I’d discussed this poem with various colleagues. It’s not an easy poem to take on board.

But after the offensive events this week, perhaps the shadows in this poem might be seen as shade from life’s glare. Perhaps we can allow the haze of the poem’s truth to melt the stony anger.

This being human is a guest house.
​Joy, depression, meanness… violent sorrow… dark thoughts, shame, malice…
Be grateful for whoever comes?

That is the reality of humanity, it’s not fair, it’s messy, and that’s the way it is…

Yes, there’s the guest in room 54 that’s spoiled things for the rest, but there’s numerous other rooms… Perhaps after the inevitable messy guests leave, we might delight and appreciate the other guests in our lives. Those that have resided with us for months or years, and those we see daily in passing. Every morning we might greet the familiar guests. We might delight in the frequent guests that pop in and out… There are so many regulars, that perhaps we don’t appreciate the richness of our guesthouse’s joyful community.

As Sara Cox muppetry sings ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ “We’ve got everything that we need, right in front of us…”

As the Greatest Showman sings “It’s everything you ever need… it’s here right in front of you” “From now on…”

Or as the poet wrote… ‘ be grateful for whoever comes ‘.

I’m still not sure about the last two lines… but who knows – Don’t try to understand it, feel it?

I admit, I could wish a perpetual sharp stone in the shoes of the unblessed miscreants, but perhaps the truer, harder wish is to wish them peace? Perhaps that’s what they, and we, struggle to realise, and I sense that’s what’s truly missing from their angry, turmoiled, desperate lives.

It’s not easy but, to misquote Julian of Norwich ‘all manner of things might be well’.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

​A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

And, here’s another poem we consider at work…

Categories
Bike

Pedal Assist…

**** 26-11-22 UPDATE to the post below ****
**** BIKE STOLEN this week ****

6 Nov. 2022 – I am not getting any younger. Birfday looming…

After 12 years of commuting by bike in and out of Leicester, I have decided a little assistance might be welcome.

You can read about my decision to ‘get my bike out’ ‘A Celebration of Cycling’ From ‘Good, Bad, & Ugly‘, to ‘I sold my car‘, to the BBC and ‘Melton Road‘…

After doing ~15 miles a day for many years, I have been researching the new ‘pedelec’ options for a considerable time.

A pedelec (pedal electric cycle) is a type of low-powered electric bicycle where your pedalling is assisted by a small electric motor. If you stop pedalling you don’t go faster, it will not assist at more than 15.5mph. You can boost the assistance levels if needed, on such as a hill or against wind (more assistance uses more battery).

I love my old belt-drive Gazelle Ultimate bike and I would recommend the setup to anyone; see more here ‘My Gazelle Ultimate‘. but assistance beckons.

After much research the obvious choice was a Gazelle ebike, and specifically the upright Gazelle Grenoble belt-drive ebike. Alas, the supply chain of bikes from Europe is currently very poor – no GGs in my size in the UK til next spring. So I looked for similar. There’s not much similar – Dutch upright style posture, hub-gears, quality components, belt-drive… but…

Roll on the Raleigh Motus GT. It has all the elements I wanted except the much loved Gates’ belt-drive, (but a belt is an option for the future).

It’s a chain driven pedelec. It has Shimano Nexus hub gears, so no derailleur gears to mess with. The seating-handlebar configuration is upright rather than sport. It’s a step-through frame so no crossbar to hurdle. The motor etc is Bosch Active Line Plus. It has eight gears with four levels of assist. To get the most from a charge you would cycle in Eco mode, but for example if the wind’s against you, or on hills, you can boost up the modes.

So, and to came to pass (an early birfday/Christmas present), I am now riding a Raleigh Motus ebike. Using my old ‘Red’ panniers, my old Widek chrome bell, and my well-worn Brooks saddle. We’ll see how it goes…

For the reasons why I bike to work, see here; “Just a person, on a bike…”

And, for other bike related witterings, see here; ‘bike stuff’

Categories
Uncategorized

Shade from the noise…

As Autumn approaches, I’m reminded that in the glare of the summer we appreciated the shade from the noise.

When all the noise stops, the silence can become deafening. Apart from my annoying tinnitus, I’ve found the shades between distinction and disappointment can be refreshingly arresting.

For a while, again, I have been thinking about the trend of pausing and noticingI’ve tried this before, it’s not as easy as it might seem. Truly stopping and hearing the gaps between the breaths.

On a recent commute, I stopped, on an unremarkable morning, entertaining a wistful intuition, I took a photo from the bridge over the river… Unexpectedly, it had a majesty.

Abbey Park Bridge, over the River Soar, Leicester

I took another moment during a lunch break, and the photo captured some of the natural glory that surrounds us.

The River Soar, from the bridge over Evan’s Weir, Leicester.

To embrace a certain expectation of that not seen. If you can try to forget everything you think you know… a silence, or a different noise, might be something to be treasured.

Language secretly pushes and prods every one of us in hundreds of directions we don’t see, until the only way to be careful with our words is to not speak…

We live amongst noise… both the publicised significant stories that delight and direct our days, but also the chaotic enigmatic bridges over rivers…

Our diarised sounds can be deafening, as bright lights are blinding, making the treasures hidden in our noisy days indistinguishable.

We live by noise and stories… if we might pause, listen and find delight in moments of, iron, gold, thorns, flowers… the smallest enigmatic variabilities we experience, the twist of a glowing neuron…

A chance conversation, an unexpected incident, a meeting or coincidence – the shining particle of experience…

I’ve said it before; IAM… Images, create Assumptions… which in turn create Motives…

Revisit those images, reduce the noise and perhaps resing an old song… ?

Association, memory, echo, correspondence…
Categories
Uncategorized

Commonplace colours

This summer we’ve been lucky enough to get carried away.

An opportunity to leave the habits of daily life behind. Weekly routines can become spirals… and the familiar can tarnish and jade… I was hoping for some form of maintenance mode.

So thanks to the wife‘s tenacity (again) we got carried away to the pop and glare of the Mediterranean climate. (Only to hear the UK had a touch of ‘heat’ also!)

Boom! ‘Saturation’ is a good summary. The Mediterranean light and colour, hits you; preposterous energy everywhere, bright high-vibrations, vehement light. It was less maintenance-mode more an assault on the senses. Or, perhaps less of an assault, more of an enveloping that enwraps you. When you step out of the ordinary into the bright heat, colour, sights and sounds… Seemingly over-saturating energy!

Here’s a snapshot of commonplace Cypriot colours that surrounded us daily: 

I slumped, sizzled, listening to cicadas singing. A thirty foot palm tree towers over a jasmine bush, lemons fall to the ground, a silk tree’s delicate feathery leaves flutter… the heat is intense… the tone of the shade is an utter delight.

Surely at home, an equally vibrant energy can be tapped into?

Perhaps our familiar native energies are just less harsh, less fierce, covertly accustomed…

Perhaps the overdose of flare and vibrance might make us appreciate the temper of the shadows. Perhaps the shadows we fear might be less shadowy, but more shades…

I guess it’s all about energy and temperament.

At home – When your teenage daughter shouts up “Dad, I’ve made you a fried halloumi and bacon sandwich!…”, the shades become somewhat warmer. The tone of the shade glows and scintillates a hint of a hue of pure energy, to be grasped and cherished with gratitude and then released – energy is never lost, only transferred.

Boom! ‘Saturation’ hits you; preposterous energy everywhere… more of an enveloping that enwraps you…. When you step out of the ordinary into colour, sights and sound… 

Categories
Uncategorized

Sign Club.

A friend put out a request – can anyone make this look nice?

It’s what I do… make stuff look ‘nice’, I guess. Not just nice, but I as graphic artist – I design the graphics on a page to form a visual that effectively relays a specific message*.

It didn’t take a lot to make this, become this…

Signs – Significance – Signifiers…

They run a British Sign Language ‘meet up’ club at M&S Thurmaston.

A so to further promote the message, we created a few flyers and posters, and a social media image…

It’s what I do.

If you know anyone in and around Thurmaston or Syston that may benefit from meeting up at Sign Club, just send Ineke a message!


*I have previously created a little project about Sign Language here. But that’s another story.

Categories
Uncategorized

Stories…

What’s in a title… ?

I’ve been making a list of the stories I have read over recent years. I am not a big reader, but enjoy the random process of discovering new characters and encounters.

Why do we read fiction? I have written plenty about the benefits of reading for pleasure. But, I wonder, where does all that data go? How nutritious can reading fiction be?

Some stories I have read have had characters I remember fondly, some titles were vibrant at the time, but I cannot remember the story at all now. Sometimes the events in the stories are real and tangible, but as time passes this seems to fade.

It seems the library angel sometimes delivers the right book at the right time (which is nonsense, but is a nice thought). More realistically, our brain seems to link up past and current thoughts and feelings, join dots, and equate meaning and pattern from chaos and confusion.

The act of reading fiction helps emulate meaning behind the concepts and notions that life throws at us. But how much we invest, digest and reflect from the experience is up to us I guess.

Stories…

Anyway, above are some of titles that I have enjoyed over recent years… not sure what this says about me… but here’s a link to a list, if you’re that interested;

List of fiction titles and authors that I’ve enjoyed.

Categories
Uncategorized

Brighten and enlighten…

At the school I support, reinforcing our visions and values is an ongoing ambition…

Here we’ve brightened some empty stair wells with some simple graphic ‘expectations’…

As the windows are conduits to outside, these graphics are similar to the signage installed on the scholars’ outside exercise spaces. The idea is that this mirrors the outside environment, making these empty stairwells more dynamic.

A simple project with a positive impact.

Graphic Repro – it’s what I do.

Categories
Uncategorized

Flora

It’s taken 10 weeks… from Late Feb to early May. The anticipation has been exciting. The result is an umbel of simple white flowers.

Today it’s Flora Day in Helston, in my homeland county of Cornwall, and it seems perhaps fitting that our VF’s flowering has peaked.

Below is just a simple record of our Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) flowering.

Searching online, there are numerous places that say unless you are an experienced grower you should cut off the budding stalk and not let it flower. Flowering can be exhausting for plant.

The advice above seems contrary to the natural order. Yes, growing a plant in pot in a kitchen window may be contrary to the natural order, but that’s another discussion.

Our plant has shown signs of exhaustion over the last few weeks. It seems to have put all of it’s energy into the flowering.

I’m not wanting to overdoing the analogy but, in our daily lives, we put a lot of effort in to many things; both the everyday demands and the extraordinary achievements that we are part of can take a lot of our energies. We require fuel and support to do these things, and after a specific period of effort and toil we may need time, space and fuel to recover.

Give yourself time, and be proud of your achievements, no matter how familiar or simple they may seem. Perhaps.

Categories
Uncategorized

What do you see?

Amongst other things, I’ve read three charming books this Spring…

Four vibrant stories that took me to imaginary places, and at the same time altered my reality…

The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley

(I also enjoyed Jane Riley’s ‘The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock‘ last year.)

Coincidentally, a friend recently asked “When you close your eyes and imagine something – a picture, an object, a place etc…Can you see it? Can you see these things with your eyes shut?”

It seems that some people don’t see things the same.
Aphantasia is a phenomenon in which people are unable to visualize imagery. Whow?!

What is y-our reality?

‘The things that we think/see {ellipsis} ‘, that’s our reality. We all respond to what we are presented with very differently. From waking in the morning, our brain takes over… “Fancy a… coffee, tea, juice?” #choice #difference

This spring break, we’ve been down to the tip of our island… Back to a place of ellipsis, where people leave out unnecessary stuff. A place of relative contentment. A place of elemental rugged rustic black and white. Sparkling mica, rolling waves, flourishing campions. A place of roots and wrecks.

Th edge of the land, and the edge of the sea…

Wasson? There’s so much potential in the gaps between words…

As we return from the edge, the foliage of consumer culture thickens. The rhythms and vibrations, the colours and mechanics that make up our world incite noise. We build signs and significance over and above the elements that made us. Words and pictures that distort the truth, glare and blind, intoxicate and enchant…

When you see things, what do you see? What do you imagine?

In addition to the above we watched a ‘charming’ film last night, that used hardly any words… Davidson and Warbeck’s The Man In The Hat #delightful 

Images…  May your day become exponentially effervescent…