Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Later Life

On my most recent post I mentioned the walk I did in Almondbury.

What I didn't mention was the elderly gentleman I came across on entering Molly Carr Wood. With walking stick in hand and wearing a flat cap, green waterproof jacket, green rucksack, walking boots, waistcoat and a tie, he smiled at me and said good morning.

After the small talk about the weather, I asked him about his travels.

'I try and do this walk every Sunday,' he said, looking at me through his thick framed glasses.

Snot was slowly running down to meet his top lip.

'Whereabouts do you go?' I asked.

'I live in Almondbury,' he said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand (I instantly tried to remember not to shake his hand when saying our farewell), 'so from here I walk to Holmfirth.'

I was impressed. That's a bit of a hike for anyone and this guy was easily in his seventies.

'Once I'm in Holmfirth,' he continued, 'I call at the pub for a sandwich and a drink, and play dominoes with the lads.'

I smiled thinking about the bond him and his buddies must have formed over the years. There's something very pleasurable about seeing a group of old men having a good time together; all sat around the table playing dominoes or cards; packet of crisps split open on the table for anyone to help themselves. Some of them have pints, others have halfs. They don't talk about their past nor future, they just enjoy the privilege of being in the stages of later life.

I'm suddenly getting flashbacks of Last of the Summer Wine.

Then he said, 'Well, technically there's no dominoes team any more. They've all popped their clogs, one by one.'

'Oh really?' I said.

(What else could I say?!)

He nodded. 'Two of them were only in their sixties. They retired and then a few months later, they died.'

'Some people live to work,' I said. 'Working becomes their sole purpose in life and when that gets taken away, so does the meaning of their life.'

'Ay, lad,' he said, looking over the landscape of Huddersfield that lay before us.

'We're not here for long,' I said.

He laughed. 'We've got to make the most of what we have,' he said. 'Who knows what's round the corner.'

On that note we thanked one another for our mini conversation and said our goodbyes.

I didn't shake his hand.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Walking and The Reason I Don't Eat Lamb

Going for a walk in the countryside is undoubtedly good for you. It's known to alleviate depression and stress, calming both body and mind, and it's a good source of exercise too. 

Being a creature of habit, I'm known to walk around the same area on a regular basis. Some take the micky, saying it's (or I'm) boring, but I beg to differ. It all boils down to perception.

There's something very comforting about seeing the same scenery, touching the same trees, walking along the same paths, and stepping over the same stiles. It forces me to play a game of spot the difference. Every time I walk the same route I notice alterations. It's never the same. Every day is a blank canvas allowing nature to play with her colours and sounds.

What makes a good walk is not necessarily where you walk, but how you walk where you walk.

If your head is full of concerns and worries then even during a beautiful spring morning, with a pool of blue sky up above and a blanket of blue bells below, you're going to walk as if these amazing spectacles don't even exist.

If you're mood is lighter and your mind calmer, if you walk with a spring in your step with no concern for keeping time, then your senses are going to be more alert, allowing you to absorb more of what's on offer.

And there's a lot on offer.

Making an effort to open your senses makes you more receptive. Sounds become sharper. Colours scintillate like crystals, all because you opened the doors to your senses, which naturally then turns down the volume of your mental chit-chatter. This then leads to a sense of tranquillity and well-being, alleviating stress, anxiety and depression - it's great!

By investing your time in nature, nature will invest her time in you, resulting in experiences that will leave you smiling and speechless. You will be rewarded with bountiful gifts that you're thinking mind can't even begin to comprehend.

This morning, at 7:30am, I set off walking on my favourite circuit in Almondbury, Huddersfield. I reached the summit of one of the many fields and sat on a bench to breathe deep and be present. I got out my flask and poured myself some warm ginger tea and began to nibble on some mixed nuts and raisins I had brought. I dug out my book and began to read as the sun made the pages glow.

Then I heard something stumble behind me.

An unexpected visitor, but one I was surely grateful for.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Baby Steps

When was the last time you went to the library?

Although I have my own library of books to read through (I blame Amazon), I've started to visit my town's main library more and more.

And check this out - the books are free!

And you get them for two weeks!

I've spent so much money on books in the past . . . and the books in my town's library are free!

(As they are in all libraries, in case you didn't know . . . )

But it's common knowledge that the number of people who visit libraries is decreasing quite rapidly.

After doing a bit of simple research, I came across an article written in 2010: In 2005, 16.4% of adults people attended their local library once a month. New research indicates that the figure had dropped to 12.8% last year.


It boils down to this: reading books is perceived by many as uncool.

The vast majority of young people spend so much of their time glued to their ipads and iphones, playing games and downloading the latest app called, 'Please Put Me Down And Stop Ignoring The Person Who Is In Front Of You.'

I wish there was such an app . . .

Reading a book takes time and effort and therefore requires patience. It's just not stimulating enough for so many of us, which is why they now have interactive ebooks for children, for instance.

Patience isn't exactly one of modern society's strong characteristics. We want fast results. We want overnight success. We look at people who have 'made it' and we say, 'Lucky so and so. I'd love to be like them, to be doing what they're doing'. Then we flick over to the next channel and repeat the procedure. We don't see the ingredients which have gone into the end result.

Ingredients such as: effort, hope, sweat, self belief, conquering self doubt, conquering self limiting beliefs, setting goals and working to attain them, picking oneself up when one is down, making wish lists for a more desirous future and believing one deserves to meet the fulfilment of those wishes, seeing the bigger picture, not taking one self too seriously, trusting the inner voice and decreasing the volume of the inner critic, practising self discipline, practising self talk, motivating one self to keep on going when it seems like one is treading through mud, confidence in oneself - I could keep going but you get the gist.

And check this out; all these pointers are self-related! There's a whole other list for how one deals with others. Because there will always be those who don't want to see us progress, to succeed and to better ourselves. It's the nature of the game.

I have more patience to listen to someone who is complaining about the state of their life when they're making the effort to change it. Even if they're 'just' doing some constructive thinking. But when it comes to those who moan and moan from their sofas, 'I want this. I want that. I want this to happen. I want that to happen. Life isn't fair. I've been dealt a crap hand. Poor me'. I find myself wanting to shake them from their shoulders and say, 'GET A GRIP!

I understand that life can be difficult sometimes, but I also understand that what happens happens to us all. It's how we deal with what happens that separates us from those who use the undesirable circumstance and add it to their drama (satisfying a false sense of self) from those who use the difficult situation as a learning tool, to expand and to grow, to gain strength and determination.

We always have that choice.

Those who are living their dreams (those who breed envy in the couch sitters) and those who suffer from a nasty case of inertia, have so much in common. But of all those common factors, there is one specific point which stands out for me, and it is this:

They all have 24 hours in a day.


How you manage your time is up to you.

And it all starts with baby steps.

Will Smith said, 'If you want to build the best wall you've ever built, don't concentrate on the wall. Concentrate, instead, on the brick you are laying. Make it the best brick you've ever laid - then you will have created your wall.'

Well said, Mr Smith.

I'm constantly trying to better myself. I'm a postman. It's a good job. I get to meet and work with some great people. I get plenty of exercise and fresh air in my lungs every day. And it gives me loads of spare time, of which I'm massively grateful for. (This is why I chose the job!)

BUT . . .

Although I'm grateful for the job, there will come a day when it no longer meets my requirements. It will become unsuitable. Think of it as if your grandma had knitted you a jumper but it was way to small. You would be grateful for the gift and would take into consideration the amount of time, thought and effort, she would've put into it, but it would be unsuitable for you.

What am I working towards? I'm not entirely sure yet. It's hard to pin down. But baby steps are being made and I'm confident I'm the right track.

One of those baby steps took me to the library. I looked around. The people who were lost in the books, studying and making notes were middle-aged. Those who were sat at the computers were youths (some were my age - late twenties) and what were they looking at? . . . Bookface or Youpube.

We're not here for long. A blink of an eye, really. As I heard Jim Rohn once say, 'We're only here once, at least what we know of. Let us play at discovering how much we can achieve.'

What books did I get from the library?

Get the Life You Really Want by James Caan (A Quick Read)
Confidence in a Minute by Tony Wrighton
Follow Your Heart by Andrew Matthews

So many books out there to help us!! And they're free!

Instead of posting a piece of music I thought I would post a meditation instead. So take 30mins out of your day to relax your body and mind . . .