Happy 1st Birthday 1500 Saturdays !

Saturday 1448 – 27th October 2012.

 Yes 1500 Saturdays is a year old  which of course means I am a year older and nearer my end… Gosh that sounds a bit serious and dramatic doesn’t it?

Let me remind you what this blog was about by repeating what I said on my “About” page when this blog began.

I am getting to the age where I have been considering how much time I might have left on this planet ( I reserve judgement on whether there might be another life) and from that thinking came the idea for this blog.

I figured if I wrote about what I was doing, photographing, talking about or thinking on each of the last 1500 Saturdays of my life then it might concentrate my mind on what is good and bad about life in general and my life in particular.

I feel sure these last Saturdays will be filled with all kinds of physical and emotional journeys as I seek out interesting, useful, relaxing or just downright fun ways of spending these last days.

There will be opinions, ( sometimes contradicting myself I’m sure – well I am a woman after all !)  maybe poetry and always photographs..

I hope you will have fun reading my blog ( or occasionally be challenged, enraged, or have your thoughts positively provoked! ) and please feel free to join in by commenting “

I think I gave you all I had anticipated and much that I did not.  What a year it has been so I thought a review would be a good idea !

( If you click on any of the purple words below they will take you to a relevant post. They will often not be what you might expect so do dive into one or 2 of them and the comments are often more interesting than the posts!)

You have travelled with me to Venice, Sorrento, Ireland, Cumbria and Scotland. ( Gosh that many places ! )

I have visited a beautiful woodland burial site, a 40’s re-enactment, a craft fair, theatres, listened and watched Gamelan (what’s that I can hear you ask!)  and taken you with me on a falconry trip.

I’ve talked about Charities I support – Wateraid, Tree Aid, the Samaritans, Mind and sponsoring a child through Plan.

There have been many times of great joy such as the 2 wonderful days in summer sunshine that I spent with my friend at the One Love Festival; days of music and laughter. 

I’ve had Birthday celebrationshen do’s and weddings. I’ve loved and been loved ( I’m not sharing this bit !! )

I have shared my deep love of the environment, poetry , books,  sculptureart  ( warning on that one) and most of all photography; there have been well over 400 photographs since I began this blog.

I have openly shared that I haven’t always got things right in the past,  when I have been ill, first with work-related stress and depression, then my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis ( which unbeknownst to me at the time contributed in a big way to my earlier stress) and my recovery aided by my new-found love of meditation.

What I have noticed most is how much my compassion and passion for injustice has surfaced again and again during the course of this year.  I have written about the world moving too fast for me, a lot about War and Peace ( no not the book ! ) guns and Wikileaks; discovering anew the activist in me, for which I am grateful.  I’m a great believer that just moaning doesn’t make changes and if you do nothing, nothing changes so I prefer to add my voice to the growing clamour for no more war and more equality in this beautiful world.

“Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore”  ~Hindu Proverb

Well I’m another year older but  I’m fitter, happier and more at peace with myself than I was when the year started which is all good.  When I look at the topics above I realise that I have revealed a great deal about myself  but then I always was an open book; wearing my heart on my sleeve…

Is there more to come… probably!  though I did think about stopping when the year was up, as the blog is pretty time-consuming, but I think I’ll carry on..

Thank you so much to everyone who has joined me on my journey this year and commented.. there wouldn’t be much point doing this if no-one was joining in.

I’m sure you will all have noticed my quirkiness and will have your own opinions about how this year has been and what you might have learned about me and as always I’d love to know what you’re thinking, about any of the subjects I’ve covered this year, so fire away!

Onwards to the next year, whatever it might bring.  I hope you’ll stick with me 😉

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.

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An oasis of calm in all the madness.

Saturday 1449 – 20th October 2012.

Last week I wrote about the 11th anniversary of the beginning of the futile war in Afghanistan and the Naming of the Dead demonstration I attended in London. I was very surprised to find that there were so few comments on the post even though I know from my stats that plenty of people visited it.

I am still wondering why that was.. maybe someone will tell me ??

Anyway back to this Saturday and what a blissful Saturday it has been. As some of you may know ( I’m sure I mentioned it sometime) I have started to meditate, well that’s not strictly true as  I have read much about meditation and Eastern philosophies over the years and have started to meditate several times in my lifetime but not with a great deal of success . I never attended classes though and I think that’s why I didn’t succeed.

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now

David Whyte

I met an extraordinary man this summer and it was his example that put me back on the road. Why? Well because his life has been pretty chaotic this summer and he had plenty of cause to be utterly miserable but he has not been and professes to be happy.

I believe him as I have witnessed his calmness, sense of fun and acceptance of his situation; not in a passive defeatist way but in a positive, move forward sort of way.  He seems to live much more in the now.

 Most days this man meditates twice a day on peace and love and it shows.. I thought “I want need some of that” so I signed up for an Introduction to Meditation course at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre; 6 Monday evenings and a Saturday 10-4 practice day which was today.  It was brilliant. 

The centre itself is very inviting as you can see by the photos above and if you’d like to you can find out more by clicking on the name.  There is an air of peace and friendliness when you enter..

Our teacher on the course is a Buddhist called Ruchiraketu or Ruchi ( for those of us who can’t get our tongues round the full name and have poor memories ! )

He is an excellent teacher as well as a wise and gentle man with a mischievous sense of humour..  so a photo of him smiling is appropriate because he does that a lot.

I am not becoming a Buddhist but I am becoming calmer, gentler and more forgiving of myself and others.

Over the weeks we have been learning Mindfulness of Breathing and Loving Kindness meditations; 2 basic meditation techniques.

By focusing on my natural breath as an object of concentration in the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation, I have become aware of my mind’s tendency to flit from one thing to another; planning, questioning, wandering, projecting etc.. The gentle discipline of being mindful of my breath helps me relax, be more in the moment and less restless. I think this mindfulness has made me more alert to everything around me.

I won’t go into more detail here because if you want to find out more you can google the terms.

It’s a bit like learning any new skill by repetition for example like learning a new language.. the more you practice the more natural it becomes to speak in that language. 

Think of it like this – if you practice dislike and hatred, these will sadly become natural to you.  If you practice loving kindness, this will happily become natural to you and this is my intention – to practice loving kindness as part of my everyday life.  Isn’t that better than disliking and hating ?

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the
moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind
isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

Wu Men (Hui-k’ai) (1183 – 1260)

(English version by Stephen Mitchell )

 The poems I have included here, along with others, were read by Ruchiraketu during the day; a day when I shared a veggie lunch with lovely people, had brilliant, insightful conversation as well as silence and peacefulness. I so enjoyed the communal feeling of practicing the different meditations with others which included lying down  to meditate ( didn’t work for me as I got too comfortable and had to concentrate on keeping awake! ) and the walking meditation which I enjoyed very much.

If you have ever wondered whether meditation might work for you give it a try. It has certainly helped to transform my life in a very positive way and it is my intention to make space in my life to meditate most days but more than that – to carry the effects of the practice with me in my daily life.

As ever I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment below.

That’s all until next Saturday. Have a kind and loving week 🙂

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already.

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