Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Of Geese and Girls

In my last job, we occasionally got cautionary emails about things like not using the Internet in working hours, or failing to adhere to the company dress code.

My new employer sent a company-wide email today with an even graver warning. It wasn't about  internet usage policy or wearing flip-flops in the office. It was about the perils of provoking the on-site geese:

The geese lay eggs mid-March to mid-May, during which time they’ll want to defend their nests from any perceived threat. If you’re walking between buildings, try to keep away from the geese, taking a longer route if necessary…if they do act aggressively, calmly and slowly back away, watching out for obstacles. Try not to run if possible.

I loved that.

(Also, I can guarantee that if I am confronted by a hissing goose at any point, I will be running for the hills in a most ungainly manner. None of this backing-away-slowly-and-calmly business).

Other than the potential terrors of Goose-gate, life continues to be fairly serene.

I’m not usually affected by the change in the weather – I was born in the Winter, and it has always been my favourite season, so I don’t resent the frost, the grey clouds and hard ground the way a lot of people do, and I don't usually feel the same relief and gladness at the first sightings of sunshine. But there’s been something about the lovely Spring weather this year that I’ve found wonderfully restoring.

I’ve been reading lots about mindfulness lately, so I’m sure that has something to do with my consistently good mood, too. I always used to skim-read things like ‘the present moment is the only one there is’, thinking it trite and overly-simple. I’ve always been a planner, so the thought of relinquishing control and just being was anathema to me. But I’m getting better at it the more I practice – and realising that living mindfully doesn’t mean trapping yourself in a little bubble of Now and not caring about the consequences of the past or the potential of the future, but rather acknowledging each moment, just being aware with each of your senses: what can you see? Taste? Physically feel? What can you smell? What can you hear?

I honestly didn't realise, until I was consciously trying to be aware, how tuned out I actually am most of the time. I'll bet the geese never have that problem. I took a photo earlier (from a safe distance, of course) as Mama and Papa Goose sailed contentedly across the pond with their babies. They dipped their sleek heads under the water, trailed a wake of Vs in the green pond and experlty corralled any bundle of fluff straying a bit too far from their protection. And I thought, I can taste coffee; I can see sunlight on water, and fluff and feather; I can feel the heat of the day on my skin, I can smell bread, and wind, and water; I can hear leaves moving, and birds cheeping and footstps on the little bridge. 

And all of that might sound completely dull, but it honestly wasn't. It was beautiful.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Blog number one...

It’s been a little over a week since I first set up this blog, so I thought it was high time I got around to actually posting on it. My problem has been deciding what to write. I’d start with an introduction, but I’ve put all that information-about-me stuff already. Maybe I should explain why I want to write a blog.

I write a lot. I’d write all day every day if I could (preferably from my Parisian garret, but for now, my dull industrial town in the North-West of England will have to do). I’ve kept journals for years, I write poetry, notes, letters and lists. Writing is how I think. It’s how I process things, and it’s how I best communicate.

I’ve recently been making a lot of changes in my personal life. I’ve had an eating disorder since I was fifteen or sixteen, cycling back and forth between anorexia and bulimia and back again. I finally found an amazing therapist who I’ve been working with for the last 18 months, and am well into recovery – am due to finish therapy in the next few weeks. I’ve been using the internet a lot to keep myself focused and motivated, and will probably be relying on those resources even more in the coming weeks, so I thought, why not create a designated space; maybe I can talk to other people in the same position, get advice, share my own experiences.

I also love to read other peoples’ blogs, but because I don’t have a blog of my own, it’s a bit one-sided – I don’t get to comment, so I never get that sense of connection that blogging is all about. So I thought writing my own blog would be a way of properly connecting - of engaging rather than just peeping in through other peoples' virtual windows.

Lastly, I wanted to give myself a sort of project. A sort of distraction – not as a means to end, but as a way of bringing together a lot of the things I love and hopefully gaining something from it. And maybe even giving something back, too. I had my eating disorder for so long that I had no real sense of my identity outside of it – who I was, what I wanted, what I liked about myself, what I wanted to change or what my opinions were. Blogging is my attempt, I suppose, to find out the answer to those questions. And an encouragement to keep asking myself questions - one of the things I'm most afraid of when it comes to finishing therapy is losing that sense of being challenged by an external party. Having new avenues of thought opened to me. Maybe speaking to some of you can help that continue.  

I’m the kind of person who usually plans things out in meticulous detail, so to begin something with no real idea of what shape it will take is a bit unnerving: what if I fail, what if no-one reads this, what if I run out of things to say, etc etc. But there is also an exhilaration in testing the waters outside my own comfort zone. And yes, it's only blog number one, so I'm only dipping the most tentative toe into these waters...but that's enough, for now.

They say every journey starts with a single step. Mine may be starting with something more like a hesitant dip of the toe instead....but the point is, at least I'm starting.