The Art of Mindfulness…Music To My Ears

During the week, I was flicking through Wednesday’s free-issue Stylist magazine when I came across a piece on The Art Of Mindfulness which postulates that, with technology at our fingertips and able to deliver (almost) every whim and passing fancy, we have lost the ability to live in the now. 

“The internet felt like an amazing opportunity but it’s made us slaves.  And unable to live in the now.”

Both Susan Maushart (In The Winter Of Our Discontent) and David E Mayer (director of University of Michigan‘s Brain Cognition and Action Laboratory) suggest that multi-tasking is a myth and that what we are actually experiencing is the brain focusing and re-focusing so quickly on consecutive tasks that we are left feeling forgetful and unfulfilled. 

I was quite inspired by this notion of being in the ‘now’ so I spent the back half of last week resisting the temptation to flit between facebook, emails, sms-ing and reading during my commute – ‘trying the idea on’ so to speak.  I heard the classical strains of Vivaldi as I passed through Vauxhall Station in the morning, saw the gorgeous pink sunset from the train window on Thursday night (no photo to share because I was just looking at and enjoying it) and laughed until my eyes watered at my Turkish friend’s rendition of an 80s-song-to-remain-unnamed (because I can’t remember it!) on Friday night’s commute.

So this morning I was catching up on some of my fellow bloggers musings from the week and in the spirit of mindfulness, read with single-minded determination (that means all the way through – that’s right, from beginning to end – in one sitting) the latest post from Seen The Elephant about expat Russian accordionist Alexander Sheykin.  Click here, be still, and be moved by some of the most beautiful and haunting music I’ve ever experienced.

And all through the wonders of the internet.

A Game Of Tag…You’re It!

I got this game from a fellow blogger Ladaisi, via Seeded Buzz. Seemed like a fun thing to try and she wrote out the rules so beautifully that I couldn’t help but leap in and ‘have a crack’ at it.  So, these are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.  Yep
2. Paste these rules on your blog post.  Yep
3. Respond to the following prompts (in bold).  Yep
4. Add a prompt of your own and answer it.  Yep no. 8
5. Tag a few other bloggers at the bottom of the post. Yep
6. Leave “Tagged You” notices on their blog/Facebook. Soon
7. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve written the post. Before Soon
1) The best investment you ever made:
Travelling and books…both expand minds, possibilities and stomachs.

2) If you could’ve written any book, directed any movie, and composed any song, which three would you pick:
I would have written The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (such a gloriously unexpected surprise), directed The Devil Wears Prada (all those fab clothes…sigh), and written Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez (showing my age a little here!)

3) Weirdest quirk:
My adoration of Alfie Bear…oh and a serious addiction to peanut butter…and cheese (although not together!)

4) One wish immediately granted:

5) Most expensive hobby:
Eating out…I just love great food (and wine) in great company! And it doesn’t always come cheap…

6) An inexhaustible gift-card at which store:
Waitrose…there’s that food thing again!

7) In another lifetime, you’d be:
A writer…although this life’s not over yet…

8) The most famous/interesting member of your family tree:
Famous: Bernadette Devlin
Interesting: Bishop Ferdinand Hamer

So I’m tagging:
Seen the Elephant, Marmite and Fluff, The Vegemite Wife, Clever Girl Goes Blog, Memoirs of a TSUNAMI Girl, Postcards From Across The Pond, Ham Life

So the game is afoot! And you are IT…

ps…If I haven’t tagged you and you’d like to participate, don’t be shy…jump on in! And if you are one of these annoyingly organised, OCD types and have done all your Christmas shopping, I could not think of a better way to while away the 43 days until the fat man in the red suit pops in…

14 Sleeps To Go…Is Home Really Where The Heart Is?

My sister has been travelling for work in the last week and she’s been posting some amazing pics of her drive through North Queensland (Australia) on Facebook.  The winding roads along the coast from Cairns and inland through the range, hugging the mountain sides and meandering past quiet beaches, brought back memories for both of us not only of the time we lived there as kids but also of the many visits back post our parents’ separation.  And it made me ask myself, how many places can have a hold over one’s heart? 

This week, I’ve been interviewed for a blog called Seen The Elephant.  The author is an American woman I met through J, who has lived in both the UK and Japan before returning to the States where she now lives in New York.  Her fascination is with people like herself, who move away from their ‘home’ country and choose an expat life…away from family and all of those indelibly established traditions, friendships, habits and opinions that we combine to create our ‘life’.

For those who’ve never felt that longing to emigrate, it probably appears that we ‘throw it away’ to embark on some new adventure with little obvious reason to do so…and becoming an expat definitely creates both physical and emotional (at least for a time) distance as both sides deal with the rising crescendo of unanswered questions like ‘Why did you leave?’ ‘Why don’t you want to stay close to your family and friends?’ and ‘(When) Are you coming home?’

How do you explain that you have found ‘home’, a place to belong somewhere else?  The place that fulfills you like no other, in spite of all the pieces of your heart held captive by other times and places?  Where, for some unknown reason, you ‘fit’?

When I left Melbourne six and a half years ago, I could never have imagined the journey ahead. Maybe what drove me was that yearning to belong, to find my true self unencumbered by the expectations and pressures of the life I’d established for myself.  

And from things I read and people I speak to, the permutations and combinations of reasons are as endless and varied and ever-changing for all of us. For some, the search is a lifelong one.  And when we do find ‘it’, it seems less to do with one particular thing but rather a melting pot of environment, circumstance and new choices that, if taken on their own, would never be enough.

But truth be told, there probably is no ‘answer’ for me or anyone else…just that eternal rollercoaster of peace and restlessness and peace again as we alternately push against our boundaries and bask in moments of rare contentment.