Like the weekend before it last weekend moved at what I've come to consider a domestic pace: Bursts of activity punctuated by rest, waiting for bread to rise or laundry to finish. I baked gluten-free bread, made soap, picked blackberries for wine making, finished a pair of socks and Mr CB made butter. On Sunday night as I cleaned down the kitchen I thought what a tiny, hard working space it is. With a meagre floor space of about 1 x 3 meters it's the room we cook, brew, bake and clean in, experiment with things like making yoghurt and cheese, felting, dying and soap making. That got me thinking of our home overall. It costs around £600 to keep it running every month including rent and all bills. For that much money it's worth seeing it as a resource, something that should support how me and Mr CB choose to live as much as possible.
Home made butter by Mr Crafty Blueberry
Often homes are just places where we keep our things, eat, sleep and obsess over keeping them in a state of perfection. What a waste! Whether rented or owned I think we need to see our homes as real, practical spaces that are there to support how we live, not merely to bolster the image we want to convey to the world. Home is where we can both enjoy the now and explore new possibilities. Home can be a place for study, play, socialising, cooking nourishing food, taking care of ourselves, resting and much more all at the same time. Home is where quality of life begins.
My first batch of soap
When you begin exercising regularly you appreciate what your body is capable of and it becomes easier to shift your focus from what it can't do to what it can do. When you spend time working in your home and using it in a way that supports you you focus more on what it can do for you. Maybe it's small or run down, maybe it's far from what you want (I'm yearning for a house with a proper garden) or in an area you don't want to live in, but you always have the option to make the most of it and explore how you can make the best use of what you have. It doesn't have to look or be perfect, it doesn't have to be pristine and ready for a visit from the Queen or your mother in law. A home is most people's biggest monthly expense so we should make sure it's earning it's keep!
Rounding of the weekend with a crumble. Rock and roll!
I've dragged my feet over posting August Aims. We've hit some challenging circumstances lately and my heads been a little mashed with all that's going on.That said, there have been some things that have come to mind lately which I think deserve some focus this month: 1) Simplify my household routine: I feel like there are always a long list of things that need doing at home, so that after work, gym, food and showers the rest of the evening is taken up by chores or, if we're both knackered, things get left to slide until the weekend. I know housework's endless, I can live with that, but it just feels like no matter how much me and Mr CB do the house is still a mess, which makes it hard to relax. I'd love to simplify what I own, how I store it and how I clean it. I have no idea how to do this yet but have found some good blogs about this (Down To Earth is always a good place to start for this) so I'll read up and see what I can apply to my own routine. Cutting down on the chemicals I use to clean my home and myself will definitely be part of this. Aim one is a bit vague, hopefully I can pin it down when I figure out what I'm doing! 2) Learn to draw: I've had a longing to draw for years but always thought I'd be hopeless. I havn't really done any since I was a teenager, when I used to draw all the time, but a gruelling Art A Level killed that off effectively. I've started watching these Learn To Draw videos on YouTube and it's going well. I'm sketching every day and getting better at it. I'd like to be able to sketch and paint landscapes, and although I'm a way off I fell it's something I'll be able to reach. So for August I'm deliberately giving myself permission to play regardless of what else is going on. 3) Keep on with the hypnotherapy course: Going upstairs to study has become more of a habit but isn't ingrained, and I'd like it to me. I'm still enjoying the course but it still takes effort to get started, so I'm going to stick at it through August with no excuses, even if all I can do is spend 5 minutes reading. Chances are that 5 minutes would lead to longer anyway. That's it for the not quite beginning of August Aims. Better late than never and I do feel more focussed for having written them down.
Today has run at a gentle, at home pace. Between washing several loads of laundry and putting it to dry in the sun, batch cooking for the freezer and finishing repairs to a hole in the kitchen wall I've sat in the sun with the cats, crocheting a blanket, knitting a sock and listening to an audio book. I enjoy getting out at weekends but I also relish days like this one, where there's a balance of chores and enjoyable things, and when my thoughts have time to gently ramble about. Added to yesterday, spent walking in the woods, I feel like I've had time to mentally withdraw and re-group, to recover from three challenging weeks at work and ready myself for the next one, which is also set to have it's own fair share of issues to be faced and got through. Having the freedom to withdraw into peace and steadiness like this is one of the great blessings in my life. I know it's a luxury, but I can't imagine what I'd be like without it.
Today we finally went to Chevin Forest Park near Otley after meaning to go for, literally, years. Isn't it daft how you can pass something by for so long when it's so near? It turns out we've been missing out. The views were amazing.
After walking though the woods we stopped to admire the view and eat a picnic. It reminded me of being by the sea; all that openess.
We got a bit lost when we continued out walk but it didn't matter as we knew we'd end up figuring it out eventually. When I was growing up I went walking every weekend, more during the holidays. I'd forgotten how good it feels to get into the woods and just walk with no aim in mind. Exploring and taking any old path frees up my mind. Having to watch my step on the roots and knobbly ground focussed my attention on the moment to hand. I found it easy to let my thoughts wander about on their own, and felt properly relaxed for the first time in several (stressy work) weeks.
Afterwards we picked up supplies and Mr CB baked a gluten free mince and onion pie. The pastry was pre-made but at some point we'll make a joint attempt to make the pastry from scratch. I've made regular wheat flour pastry from scratch before but gluten free is a bit intimidating, being temperamental, crumbly stuff.
And then there's Mrs. Doyle, in a box - 'nuff said.
At the beginning of July I set myself three aims for the month ahead. To help keep me on track (and, ok, to give myself a little pat on the back) here's my progress so far:
1) Get back into my online hypnotherapy course: This has gone well. For the first week of July I deliberately set it aside to spend time preparing for a Reiki One attunement I was doing at the weekend but after that I picked it up again, studying in small 15 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks to keep me motivated. 2) Step up my blog design: I've been putting off doing an about page so I jumped straight into it after writing my July Aims post. After all that procrastination it was actually fine. I think writing it when I was focused on my blog and why I do it helped a lot. I then made a new banner and tidied up the blog layout a bit. I'd still like to get everything fitting together a bit better, but it's a learning process so I'll tweak it as I go. I'm classing this aim as COMPLETE.
3) Keep tracking my spending in detail: I've been doing this for over 6 weeks now and it's become a daily habit. It's certainly giving me an insight into what's going on with my money day to day, and I think it's helped me spend less because I know that whatever I spend money on will be on the tracker in all it's glory.
I'm pleased with the progress I've made on these aims so far in July, and feel that writing them on this blog has helped by keeping me accountable. I'm even looking forward to setting new aims for August.
At the weekend I was honoured to perform a Reiki Level One attunement. It's a simple, spiritual experience where the Master passes on the ability to channel Reiki to the Student. You get 'tuned in' to the energy, allowing it to flow through you.
Passing on an attunement faces the Reiki Master with a challenge: To trust that if we follow the process with the highest intentions Reiki will do the rest and that the Student will receive the attunement. I knew that if I faltered, doubted, worried, the attunement wouldn't work, just as worrying about the results of a treatment during a Reiki healing session can (in my experience) block some of the flow. Rising to the challenge of letting go and trusting has opened my mind to what's possible when I put my trust in Reiki to work to the highest good.
The experience has been profound yet so simple. I've learnt so much from teaching Reiki to another person because it's given me the precious opportunity to put aside my own expectations and see it all through beginners eyes. What a gift! What we give out comes back to us; in this case I gave with enthusiasm (I get very enthusiastic about Reiki) and was met with interest, joy and wonder. And of course it doesn't just apply to Reiki: Next time you teach something you enjoy to someone else, savour how new and exciting it is to them and see how it fires your own enthusiasm further, giving you and exciting new perspective.
I mentioned here that in Spring I became a Reiki Master and it's been such a turning point for me that it's well worth writing about.
About eight years ago I sat down heavily at my desk in the busy office I worked in looking and feeling awful, just totally run down. I got talking to a new colleague who asked if I was feeling OK, and when I told her that I felt tired and unwell all the time she asked me if I’d ever tried Reiki. “Reiki? Is that a martial art?” I replied, with no idea what she could be talking about. She was a Reiki practitioner, she told me all about it and later that week I had a treatment with her.
I’d never experienced anything like it. I was walking around smiling and telling everyone I knew about it. After a few more treatments I wanted to get attuned so I could self-heal and share it with others. My colleague introduced me to her own Reiki Master, Helen Lawson, and I went for my attunement.
After that attunement I felt like I was waking up, and it was wonderful to be able to introduce my friends and family to that beautiful healing energy. A year later I took my second attunement and I felt amazing afterwards but didn’t know if I’d ever take the Master attunement.
Years passed and Reiki remained part of the background of my life until a good friend who’d I’d introduced to Reiki years before told me he was going to receive his Master attunement and that our Reiki Master would love it if we took the attunement together. This planted the idea inside me, but I didn’t want to rush into it. I asked for guidance from my Reiki guides and started using Reiki more in my everyday life. I gave more treatments, gave myself more self treatments, and used it for space clearing and charging crystals. One night I lay in bed with my hands on my stomach, giving myself Reiki when I asked my guides to give me a sign that I was ready for the attunement. The heat in my hands took off, and I felt energy spread up and down my body. I took that to mean “YES!”
I booked the attunement and committed the next couple of months to studying Reiki in more depth and getting to know it and my relationship with it better. Finally I received the Master attunement and felt like a door that had previously been ajar had been fully opened. I felt not that I’d completed my Reiki training but that I’d finally begun, and that it would be an exciting life-long journey. My issues with anxiety and self-doubt shrank back to be replaced by confidence and a passion to give Reiki my best and be a loving warrior of light. That’s how my passion for Reiki was woken up, how I came to feel more like me than I ever had before.