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50 fabulous things at 50….xx

Waking up to being 50 was a bit of an experience but I am quite determined to embrace it.   Fabulous and fifty will be my guiding motto as I blast my way through the coming year.  My aim is to do 50 things I haven’t done before and my list is underway.  There are all sorts on the list from forcing myself to try blue cheese (haven’t been able to get beyond the smell to date) to designing and building my first piece of concept art.  I have never sponsored a child before so I want to sponsor a young girl to help her through her education.  I have never written a book although I have one underway.  I wonder if I will actually finish it this year?  I have chosen 50 friends that I want to write to during the course of the year to tell them how special they are to me.  I want to knit myself a pair of warm socks as I always have cold feet and I want to sort through my photos of my children and make a book for each of them.  And the list goes on and on but it is a fabulous list and I will have lots of fun experiencing all these things.

I am fortunate that I am never short of ideas of new things to try as I learnt many years ago that this is what makes me tick.  I love learning and I love challenging myself.  I also, fundamentally, love life.  That said I do not always love the world in which we live and the recent killings in Pakistan have been the hardest to bear.  It is an unimaginable act but yet it happened.  The fact that fellow human beings are capable of such a thing leaves me completely cold and somewhat defeated.  So while I celebrate my 50th birthday with my own dear children I am completely mindful of the families that have lost such precious lives.  I am already finding ways to honour them by networking with people who can make a difference in Pakistan and I will continue that work forever.  My very first teaching job was in East London among the Bengali community and I can still see their faces today.  Many of these children came from an impoverished life and school was their relief.  It was where they could just be themselves and I loved each and every one of them.

UNI28253I believe that education is a birth right and it is essential for a happy and contented life.  The fact that education is seen in some corners of the world as something to go to war over is almost beyond words.  Education should not be feared; it should be cherished as the gift it is.  I am working with an NGO at this time to locate a young Pakistani girl who is in need of sponsorship.  I have never gone down this route before choosing to work with large organisations such as UNICEF and Save the Children but I feel the events of late have made me realise how vital each and every child’s education is.  Imagine if all of us that could  sponsor a child did just that?  If you are interested in sponsoring a child in Pakistan there is a useful organisation HERE.

So there is much to do both in my own life and in others and that is what being fabulous and fifty is all about.

Thank you so much for all my birthday wishes.

Blessings to you all,

scottish island mum

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An alternative view of Christmas

Life sometimes gets in the way….

A very dear friend says that from time to time and I hesitate to agree.  The hesitation is simply that we are ‘our life’ so we need to make time for those things that are neglected.  Time is an interesting concept and I am never more aware of it than at this time of year.  The days are short and the light limited but I like that and I try and use the daylight wisely.  Once it begins to fade I light far too many candles and retreat into quiet occupations.  It is in these quiet occupations that I re-find what is important in life.

Over the years I have come to loathe with vengeance the Christmas that is presented to us through the media.  As I watch people rushing about seeking yet more bargains my blood literally runs cold for a while.  I have a physical aversion to the over-commercialisation of Christmas.  Although not a Christian I do love that Christmas is a time to bring people together.  I am fortunate this year to have all four children with me plus Molly’s adorable boyfriend, Scott.  This past week we spent a lovely evening together decorating the tree, eating mince pies and watching the Father Christmas animation.  Quite unbelievably, Scott had never seen it before!

christmas cardIt is in these times for me that Christmas is created and I cherish them always.  Today I was a willing pupil as George and I made the Christmas cake.  The smell of Christmas is lingering through the long bake.  This week coming I travel about the island spreading some gentle Christmas cheer to my island friends and pop my Christmas boxes in the post for all my lovely girlfriends and their families.

These are the things that make Christmas but somehow I fear many people have lost their way.  Spending too much, eating and drinking too much is not what Christmas should be about and I feel quite strongly about that.  I fear it gives the wrong messages to children as they try and make sense of this time of year.  I make a lot of my gifts myself and I love planning what I will make for different people – it makes it so much more personal.

This year I rather put my money where my mouth was by offering an Alternative Christmas E-course which has proved to be very popular indeed.  I am announcing here that I have paid all that income to UNICEF so that children in Syria can continue to receive winter warmer packs.  That seemed the right thing to do.

In the new year I am offering another brand new e-course called ‘The Balanced Year Ahead’ and this is deigned around concepts of time, planning, seasonality and life journeys.  I am so excited about this course as I am also publishing an e-book for those people who can’t manage the whole course.

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One of my little dreams is coming true as we speak as I have creative the Bobbin Collective which is a space in the world for people who love vintage and sewing.  The Bobbin Collective brings these two things together through a virtual presence and a wee online shop.  We will be starting to stock our little shop mid January.  Do share the links with anyone who would like to inhabit this space with us.  More details are coming through all the time via the facebook page.

002So life for Scottish island mum continues to tick along quite nicely and I feel truly blessed to have the life that I do.  I always maintain that living on a small island shifts your viewfinder in life.  By choosing to live in a remote area of the world you are already resisting notions of conforming and I like that.  Leaving the high energy corporate world behind over 12 years ago saved me from myself and I could not be more grateful.  Living on Arran is not always easy but the challenges are what makes it a unique experience.  Smallholding is a very challenging economy but one that we seem to be adapting to quite well.  My decision to record my life in a blog, of course, proved the best decision of the lot.  I never take my readers for granted and I never will.

Regular readers know that January is my incubation month where I re-write and upgrade the site.  In keeping with a small embryonic tradition I am asking readers to tell me what they would like to read more about.  That way I can continue to be a responsive and a responsible writer.  These things are important to me.  Please feel free to complete the form below and I will cherish your contribution as I go into incubation.

Meantime, hoping all our preparations for the festive period are full of loving kindness.

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Blessings to you all,

scottish island mum

 

Guest blog from a village teapot…..

I love WordPress.  I love the connections it helps me to make while stumbling around focused on key words as a guide.  One lovely sunny day I stumbled upon The Village Teapot blog written by a relatively new blogger – Michelle.  Michelle and I share something as we are both home schooling mums but when I explored her blog I could see many more connections.  Describing herself as ‘young at heart, ancient in thinking’ is a wonderful way to look and interact with the world.  I see wisdom in her words and I check back often to see what she has added since my last visit.  Readers of Scottish island mum are incredibly loyal and it is not often I invite another blogger to post here……so you will know I am very impressed.  Please support Michelle.  xx

scottish island mum

Remembering Solitude

 “We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart… and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together…. I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.” ~Helen Hayes

Post written by Michelle L Morgan

On a typical daily basis, we spend more time faffing around with social media, than taking some quality time to reconnect with ourselves. It’s not rocket science really, it doesn’t take much effort to organise some quiet time to unwind, revitalise, check in with our mental well being, and clear away unwanted inner debris.

Whilst it is wonderful that we have a wide variety of ways to connect to the outside world, it’s also sometimes a hindrance when you want to switch off. If you really try to disconnect for a while, you find yourself running from room to room, finding more and more technology buzzing away. Just how many mobile phones, laptops, computers do we need, in order to stay tuned in…and for how long?

“The question is, are we routinely using the computer and television to find alone time without really realizing our unfulfilled alone need? Or are we becoming incapable of living in the moment except in technological time-outs like the computer”~ Ester Buchholz

I’m sure social media can live without your ‘like’ clicks for 20 minutes of bliss in a warm bubble bath.

I find that I can disconnect quite easily, be it with a favourite book or magazine, whilst sipping tea. Writing an all important chapter of a novel, or an article, just scribbling away, completely unaware of my surroundings for a while. Gardening is a passion of mine and although I’m a novice, I can lose myself in a session of weeding away quite happily. Or taking a long stroll over the hills, feeling the wind on my face, for me there’s nothing like taking yourself off into nature, finding a quiet secluded spot with shade, sitting and just being.

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The way in which we devote so much time to being connected, is the way in we should treat ourselves to solitude too. Scheduling ‘me time’ is a huge necessity and a beneficial one.

 

Switch Off

“Solitude is a form of meditation.” ~Terri Guillemets

The art of solitude is a tough one to master at first. We find the time, we find the space and we settle down, expecting to instantly switch off and relax. But no, it’s not that easy.

There’s that inner voice in your head to quieten down, asking all the questions about the here and the now. “Why didn’t I do that?” “When will this happen?” “How will I find the time for this?” We can’t help thinking we may be missing something happening right now, do we check in? The urge lingers for a while.

Once all the mental trash has been bagged and binned, we realise that it’s so pointless to worry about things that won’t change within the next hour. Life really is all that simple, if we just let it go for a while. It’s a scary thought, but a truly profound moment. You realise that the beauty surrounding you, is somehow over looked and not entirely appreciated.

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It must be like this for the Buddha’s. Seeing life through rose tinted glasses, appreciating life’s small pleasures. The more we soak up this blissful feeling, the more we can improve our lives; we can see the things that clutter it up and tone them down a bit.

“We visit others as a matter of social obligation. How long has it been since we have visited with ourselves?” ~Morris Adler

We realise just how much of our ‘free time’ is spent watching or reading other people’s lives on social media, whilst our own time flies by in the chair.

I’m no social media phobic, not by far. Technology is brilliant for many reasons. It has helped improved lives and saved lives. Many a celebrated writer has been made using technology. But there really is a time and a place for it. I’m sure it’s certainly not every 10/15 minutes a day.

Just imagine how de-stressed you could be if you took the time to attend to your own rest, your relaxation, your quality time.

Imagine the tasks you could complete if you switch off from technology for 20 minutes a day.

A few examples:

Read a few more chapters of a good book,

Learn a new language,

Take up tap dancing, Yoga or Pilates,

Take a long soak in a bubble bath,

Bake a cake; prepare a meal ahead of time, to freeze,

Pot some window plants,

Make something crafty or arty,

Watch a favourite old movie,

Carry out some tasks in the garden,

Paint a picture, or even a wall,

Write a letter (support the Royal Mail).

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The possibilities are endless. You really could re-invent yourself in that short time each day, or re-kindle a love affair with an old hobby. Life could be enriched with small pleasures that you once sacrificed for social media, mobile phones and constant unnecessary interruptions.

After your time of precious solitude, you may appreciate your surroundings more than you previously did. Whether you want to log back in after your golden time, is up to you. Did they really miss you that much? Is social media crying out to know what you’re cooking for tea?

No, didn’t think so. Now…back to finish that chapter. But first, I must stick the kettle on.

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Page Attributes – http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199802/the-call-solitude

http://www.quotegarden.com/solitude.html