The Blogging 101 course couldn’t have come round at a better time. I’ve never been sure about the idea of the Universe (or whatever you want to call it) responding when you venture out of your shell, but that’s sort of what seems to be happening to me at the moment, in a number of small ways.
I’m new to blogging apart from one attempt last year whose theme and purpose was far too ambitious so it’s lying fallow and uncared for somewhere in Google Plus.
This blog, Mind Clouds, is about the start of a journey in a way, which a couple of years of late mid-life crisis rebellion and questioning have brought me to. I’m 54 and had a similar big life change at around age 34. Back then, my partner Keith and I had spent a few years kicking back, him quitting the police and me a number of years in account management for advertising and design agencies. Back then I had a similar feeling of my life not quite fitting, or me fitting into it. I had met Keith who felt the same and we spent a few winters working in ski resorts and also travelling, firstly to India and Nepal and then subsequently South America. It was a marvellously freeing and fun time but returning to London after Nepal, both of us rather sick with gastro infections that dragged on, I felt a strong need to explore more deeply what life is about. I read a number of books on philosophy and especially on Buddhism, by the banks of the Thames in my lunch-break from work. I “discovered” the Dharma and it felt like coming home. I practised as a Buddhist with increasing conviction (although with some ups and downs) for the following 18 years until a couple of years ago when I began to doubt the value of what I was doing, feeling that somehow I was getting it wrong. So my meditation practice, which had been a real mainstay of my life, began to disintegrate and other stuff filled up the void, mainly art as I found this really strong urge to express myself creatively welling up.
Not long after I “became” a Buddhist I decided it was time to do something more altruistic and people-focused as my line of work so I trained to be a mental health nurse. I spent a year on an acute psychiatric ward, then worked for a few years with heroin users at a methadone clinic, then with people with severe alcoholism and now for the last five years with young people with psychosis. Other big changes during that time include giving birth to my lovely, enormous ten and a half pound son, Jamie 13 years ago (now 6ft tall) and moving out of London to Guildford in Surrey 8 years ago.
Working as a mental health nurse has been in many, many ways really good for me. Alongside becoming a mum, it’s helped to break me out of the rather self-contained bubble I was looking out at the world from. It’s also made me more aware of what people struggle with in their lives and so to be less judgemental of their behaviours. However, in a lot of ways I’ve always had a nagging feeling that I don’t quite fit in this role either. There are aspects of it I find so rewarding, but I don’t enjoy working in the increasingly over-bureaucratised NHS (while at the same time I don’t want to knock it either because it’s a wonderful institution). So I’ve decided to leave, but at this point in time, I’m still in situ, plotting my next moves.
My main plan is to develop my own business as a mindfulness teacher. I trained in this some time ago and have been running mindfulness for psychosis groups within my current job, as well as one to one work. A big part of this is me turning back again to meditation after realising that letting go of my daily practice of it had resulted in me getting more and more stressed and losing the plot somewhat. So teaching mindfulness means I will have to practise it too – you can’t have one without the other. There’s lots more I could say about this but I’ll restrain myself as this post is growing too large as it is. Just to also say is that what really excites me is the thought of being my own boss – something I don’t think I would have dared to dream of even six months ago.
Oh, and the blog will be about this adventure, about mindfulness from lots of different aspects and in it I’ll aim to be honest and authentic, hopefully with some lightness of touch too and fun, because that’s ultimately what this life change will be for – leading a life that’s getting nearer to the truth of who I am, working in what I’m passionate about as well as what I can do well (a la Ken Robinson’s Finding Your Element).
Vis a vis the blog’s name, the clouds are for the passing thoughts, feelings, sensations and dreams that move through our minds like changing weather patterns, which though they are insubtantial and transient, affect our daily mental environment and how we see ourselves and others. You could describe mindfulness as like watching clouds, but rooted firmly in the body, like a mountain.