Watch your thoughts….

We are now in week six in the UK (and if you believe the news,  Scotland could be in this limbo state longer) – not sure where the fifth week went but have found I need to catch myself and watch my thoughts.

There is not much on anybody’s minds at the moment but this cursed virus.  Open any media platform and that is all that is being reported.  Reading and watching the news can become quite an obsession. Conspiracy theories abound, those for and those against either opening up or remaining in lock down.  Anger spilling over at the supposed unfairness of it all.  How dare the governments prescribe to its citizens how to live their lives.  People dying daily, that wouldn’t have, if it wasn’t for this hidden enemy. People living daily and making the most of what is being thrown at us.

I binged watch the series “The Sopranos” and one phrase has stuck with me when Tony, the boss, was in a coma asked the question “Who am I and where am I going?”  This hit home as the questions running through my mind recently are “Why?” “What is the purpose of all this?” and my belief in the Buddhist teachings of what is meant to be will be.  “Is this meant to be?”

Out on a solo walk through the beautiful, peaceful, meditative Scottish highlands with “Who am I and where am I going” playing on a loop though my mind, demanding answers.  The most obvious one, I am Cathy and I am hiking up a mountain. “Why?” – because I can and I want to.  I think that is a good enough reason. But to delve deeper, that is when you have to watch your thoughts.

I stray from the well worn path – physically – almost daring myself to get lost, find a hidden loch and stop to take a breath, my mind wandering on its own path less travelled. Who am I really?  I don’t think any of us see ourselves as others do.  And we never will as we cannot see inside the minds of others. I am a daughter, a mother, a grand-mother, a friend and possibly, though I don’t like to think so, an enemy.  But that doesn’t define a person. I consider myself a good person. Trying to give back to others more than I take. To what purpose? Where am I going? I have always believed that where we are is where we are meant to be at that particular time.  And this makes me stop once again in my tracks and watch my thoughts which have become almost tangible .  I am meant to be here, off the beaten track , alone in this expanse of beauty surrounding me, making me question our very existence. Knowing that it is quite okay to ask these questions.  Knowing that all it will take is to retrace my steps to find my way back again.

And I realise, I am me, I am unique in my own way as each one of us are, I am human and I am not concerning myself as to where I am going, I am living.IMG_7492

Just slow down and breathe Cath … just slow down and breathe – heading into week 4

The cold of the hard wooden bench is seeping through the thin fabric of my jeans, but it doesn’t matter. My feet are slightly damp from wearing not the most practical shoes when walking through the Scottish undergrowth after a rain shower, but it doesn’t matter. My eyes are closed and I am interacting with all five senses. This is the sense of touch. There is also a slight breeze, with still the frost of winter on its wings, which ruffles my hair and brings a chill to my exposed face, but it doesn’t matter. I am feeling.

I open my eyes to experience sight – the one sense I would hate to ever lose. The bright yellow daffodils at my feet sway in the icy breeze, their faces all turned away from me facing the still setting watery sun. The vast expanse of the loch before me shimmers and ripples almost welcoming the movement of the air.  Gulls head for home on the distance shores.  Directly below are a couple of gulls and oyster catchers with their vibrant red bills, pecking at the mussels that have been exposed by the low tide.  They are feasting and not heeding the night time homeward call.

I close my eyes once again to focus and to listen and soak in the approaching night. Far off geese cry their distinctive cry which disturbs the harmony of distant cascading waterfalls. Then it is quiet, silent – eerily so.  No voices, no cars, no machines humming – silence, which is then broken by the gulls squabbling over a tasty morsel found in the crystal clear waters gently lapping.  But it doesn’t matter – I am listening.

I breathe deeply in – the soft smell of wood smoke which is so pleasing and brings back fond childhood memories of holidays at farm hotels. The slight salty whiff of the tide gently pushing in on the rocks below and a lovely earthy smell of damp rich soil.

In my mouth I can still taste the remains of my dinner, a spanish omelette. The herbs and spices used as well as the long lasting onions.  It was a delicious meal served up by one of the hotel chefs.

It is this meal that got me to this spot on the hard wooden bench, the idea to go for a walk and settle my meal before heading off to my room for the night. Absorbing the world I find myself in.  I had been jotting down thoughts and ideas the whole week for my blog and they all revolved about why, depression, lack of motivation, the need for routine, stress, worry, loneliness, isolation, time, what is going to happen, what is normal  and guilt (we put ourselves under so much unnecessary pressure) …………?? I don’t have the answers and neither I think does anyone else unless they have a crystal ball.

So everyday I am going to remember this moment, when I slowed down and breathed. Because in the end, all the questions, worries and concerns don’t matter.  We are alive and we can breathe.


On my soap box – into week 3

I’m am using this platform to vent and what a perfect platform it is (and really my only one). Maybe it is because we are going to the third week of lockdown and my moods seem to be taking on a life of their own, roller coasting between irritation, acceptance, depression, anger, frustration and tolerance. As I am sure every other person in the world is also feeling – so I am not unique by any manner of means.

Vent 1

Twitter comment “I’m not allowed to walk my dog in a deserted street, but taxis are allowed to load their vehicles with 50% of their normal capacity – not fair” #lockdownSA

Ok  mister twitterer.  You are fortunate to live on a street that can be deserted.  You have a dog. You have a home.  And you more than likely have your own vehicle parked in your garage. Hundreds of thousands do not have this privilege in South Africa and those people who are using these taxis, are your check out staff where you can drive to buy your essential goods. Or maybe the nurse at the hospital.  Or the guys collecting your refuse weekly. They live in overpopulated townships, miles away from their workplace and no option but to catch that taxi, because if you got to your local Pick n Pay to find no one at work then imagine your irritation then.  I am sure they would also rather stay safely at home than risk their own health daily to serve you.

Get a hold of yourself and consider yourself fortunate.

Vent 2

Another common complaint in South Africa. No alcohol, cigarettes or non essential items can be sold at the shopping outlets.  I am sure the government did not sit down and think okay how can we make life as difficult as possible for our citizens.  Maybe just maybe they feel you should be saving your money for really essential items like food, for who knows when your next paycheck is going to be.  It has taken a while for this virus to filter down to the southern tip of Africa and by implementing these really stringent restrictions is the right way to ensure that it does not get a foothold with the resultant thousands of deaths.

Get a hold of yourself and consider yourself fortunate.

Vent 3

People complaining about their situations, when they have a roof over their heads and food on their plates and money in the bank. Wanting life to be normal.  Well life is not normal for any of us, and who knows how long it is going to be until it is.  Life is what we now make it.  It is up to each of us individuals to take responsibility for ourselves, for our own mental well being.  Stop blaming others.  Even though there are restrictive laws in place, you can make your own new normal.

Get a hold of yourself and consider yourself fortunate.

Create your own new normal!