Sunday, 19 September 2010

Happiness Is A Beautiful View

In my line of business, the spiritual and new age industry, happiness and the pursuit of fulfillment is big business. I only have to glance through this month's copy of Kindred Spirit to see a myriad of ads offering healing, spells, readings, classes, retreats, coaching and regressions all dedicated to helping the recipient find themselves and their path in life. Reading the National Trust magazine I spotted an article entitled 'Simple Pleasures' which was an interesting read. They had asked a selection of fairly highbrow people, what their simple pleasure was. Quite an interesting variety: knitting, cooking, clever twists of grammar (whatever floats your boat!!), a scenic place, architecture, a new experience. The article quotes research by the New Economics Foundation which says that well being 'combines five factors: good relationships with friends and family; physical activity, particularly outside; alertness to the world around, especially its beauty; continued learning of anything from a skill to a subject; and last, altruism'. No surprise really then that illnesses like depression are now being diagnosed in children as young as 3, with family relationships more under stress than ever, with extended families often living quite a distance from each other; outside activities on the decline thanks to computers and television; connection with the world around seems to be unnecessary as kids (and many adults) immerse themselves in computer games and chat rooms hour after hour and as for altruism- forget it, although the schools seem to be trying to educate our children now how to be a good member of a community and the novel idea of considering others feelings as well as your own.

For me, one of the many things that makes me happy is a beautiful view. Before we had children we would regularly escape to a farm cottage tucked away up a rugged hillside in west wales, that had a beautiful panoramic view over the valley below. I used to love to see how the sky and fields changed with the light and the weather, it gave me such inner peace and I always cried when we had to leave. Now, with young children, rain and mud aren't so appealing, but I did pay extra this summer for a caravan with a sea view, so once again I could gaze at the ever changing view.

This need of mine for a view makes moving house very difficult too, we live opposite an open field with trees and whilst not the prettiest view in the world, it beats looking out at other houses. So whenever we consider moving and I look at what we would have to sacrifice, unless we win the lottery and can afford the sort of house with the sweeping vistas I crave, I prefer to stay put. And if I feel the need for more scenery I just pop up to Cliveden , our nearest National Trust property, which always has the power to uplift and soothe with its beauty and spectacular views.

West Wales


Saturday, 18 September 2010

September Resolutions

We're 2 weeks into the new school year and I'm beginning to settle into this new rhythm of life, although it's been hard getting up early and having to get out of the house by a certain time. No more leisurely breakfasts in our pyjamas. Plus I've felt the pressure to look half way decent at the school gates, which for me means washing my wild bed head hair every day and taming it with straighteners into the desired bob. It doesn't help that my son has the infuriating habit of putting his school bag, sweater, lunch bag whatever, down somewhere obscure, sparking a mad last minute search guaranteed to send my blood pressure soaring. Our recent burglary has added to the rush, as I am now locking our bedroom door, so that the last remaining computer won't be taken. Of course, no sooner do I lock it, than I realize I need a sweater, or my shoes, so I guess this habit isn't going to last long. Luckily a good friend lives opposite the school and I can park in her driveway, meaning I can sail up the road with 2 minutes to spare knowing I won't have to join in the bun fight for parking spaces!

It seems that September, perhaps more than January feels like the start of a new year. Seeing the children bright and shiny in their new uniforms, all pristine and fresh, seems to spark something in the mums. I've lost count of how many friends have said they're going to start a new fitness regime, diet, club etc. and I too feel the desire to change something or start something new. Thoughts of joining a choir, learning to swim more proficiently pass through my mind, but realistically I still don't have the time to take on too much at the moment with my website and daughter not at nursery until January, so I turn to more manageable goals. Getting more organized is one that leaps to the forefront. Before I had kids I was very organized, a bit messy maybe, but nothing like the paralysing panic that can hit me now when I realize I have no idea where I put that very important document, my car keys are missing again, meaning a search through all my pockets and the laundry basket, that safe place which I thought would be a good idea is now a mystery to me and I'm drowning in clutter and paperwork waiting to be sorted. This chaos was one of the reasons we were burgled, stuff on show, easy pickings, the lesson I've taken from this is to be more mindful in everything I do, hard when you've got children twittering in stereo. Have I locked the car, put the handbrake on (another thing I forgot to do!) do I need to make a note of where I've put things or a to do list? Plus now I have my son's school life to oversee, homework, letters home (actually emails now), things to take in, things to bring home, party invites to reply to, money to pay and this week items of uniform to chase up or give back to their rightful owner! So for his sake I need to get a grip, I can't have him being the only boy in the class who's forgotten his soft toy ( cue mad dash home through rush hour traffic!) or getting into trouble because I've lost his homework. This one change, will I'm sure make a big difference to my life and my blood pressure and I'm sure everyone is going to appreciate the new calmer, highly organized me.