Morning & Bedtime rituals

I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding than having a good solid morning ritual, followed by a bedtime one too, so I just wanted to share some of my rituals, especially now I’m back at work and wanting to keep on with certain aspects of the new life I found during both lockdowns. I’ve pretty much not worked for a whole year, there’s been a few hours here and there at the salon over Christmas but I was mainly out of work. The meditation app I’ll mention throughout is Insight Timer, I’ve used Headspace and tried out Calm before, but this is the only app out of all of them that I find to work the best, there’s thousands of practices, hundreds of teachers and mentors and speakers, and a tonne of different types of meditations to choose from.

A lot of the habits I developed from all of this time off, I want to maintain for sure. I really love the slower pace of life that’s came with the pandemic, and I don’t want to just return to the old fast pace of life. It wasn’t good for me then, and I’m determined to keep it calm and cool. However, I also didn’t want to lose my head during all my time alone, so I had a routine, and I mostly stuck to it. Now and again it varied, some days I woke up and started to edit my novel right away, other times I headed out for a walk or did some chores, but it all sort of rotated around these few things:

Morning brew

Obviously it starts with coffee, but not just coffee. I actually start every morning religiously by having some apple cider vinegar in warm water, this is good for everything, health wise. I swear by it. The coffee Scott and I have is usually aeropress, with one teaspoon of honey stirred in, and Oatly oat milk. Morning meditations and mindfulness play a part too, and in fact I found this a few weeks ago:

I know it might seem a bit random, but this is seriously soothing and nice to sit and listen to. I’ve actually listened to this a few times while journalling.

Journalling wise, I just keep it to one page. I use Paipur journals, which are in my opinion, the best journals out there. I’m a bit of a journal/diary snob, and I’m very particular on what I write on and with! I usually jot down any dreams I have lingering in my head, thoughts for the day, my intensions, my aspirations for that day, or otherwise, I literally just write down anything that comes to mind. I should say as well, sometimes I have a Youtube video on in the background, and when I do it’s usually Lavendaire. If you haven’t seen any of her videos, I suggest you take a look. She gives off such a great light and positivity, and again she’s someone with a naturally calming voice, all of her videos are about positivity, mindset, finding your life’s purpose and so on. She’s great to have on while journalling.

I’ll go into this another time, but I also love to use my journals as little time machines to myself. I like to ask my future self questions, the questions that arise alone cause me to wonder how I came to think of them and what that could mean, subconsciously. I’ve done this a lot over the years and discovering old questions I wrote ten years ago and so on, is so interesting, but I’ll save that for another post.

My yoga choice

Morning Yoga – sometimes, actually most of the time, we don’t always have time for it, but there’s one or two out there that are easy enough to do. I love ‘Yoga with Adriene’ personally because she’s so upbeat and positive to listen to. There’s a morning practice that’s literally five minutes long, and I can feel the difference if I don’t do it. Obviously there’s a tonne of others with yoga practices that are great but for me, I always come back to Adriene.

Morning meditation

This is another great example of some of the morning meditations I do, especially if I’m short on time. This one is just a couple of minutes but time really does slow down during this practice, and she has a seriously soothing voice.

If you have more time on your hands, and a nice quiet area to sit and chill for a bit, I also highly recommend this meditation. I actually first came to do this one during a sunny afternoon in my flat, with my crystals in my lap, and it was pure therapy.

Breakfast wise, I have to admit, sometimes I skip, but usually I just keep it simple, nothing too fancy. I’ve always struggled to eat breakfast, I’m not sure why, I’m definitely someone who can power on through the morning just on a good coffee. When Scott’s off work he’s the one sorting something hearty, so on Sunday’s I get to sit and write for a bit while he’s scrambling some eggs.

And then the night closes in, time to rest.

I’m a bad sleeper, I always have been ever since I was a kid. I’m not sure why, sometimes I can be exhausted, and my mind still struggles to turn off. Since using Insight Timer, I’ve found one or two practices that definitely help. As well as this, I started to take magnesium, and I can’t recommend this enough. I must have been low on magnesium all my life because I’ve seriously felt the benefits of taking this supplement.

Bedtime story

This really helps put me to sleep, so for anyone struggling out there, give this a go. Bill Larson is seriously calming, and he reads so well. The story itself is obviously different from the Disney version we all know, it’s so beautifully written, and deep and imaginative. The book is split up into different chapters and sections, with each one stemming over an hour long, plenty of time to lie back and clear your head while listening to Bill.

The wall by my desk, beside a window

Another ritual I have is to express gratitude. I know some people say a prayer, some read, some just go to sleep. There’s a lot to be said on the practice of simply saying thank you, and letting go of the day with a grateful heart. It helps to instil an inner peace right before sleep, but it also helps to open your mind. You might start to say thank you to the universe or god or whoever for your health and comfy bed, but the night after that you’ll come to think of all kinds of things. Discovering that you’re grateful for the food in your belly, the moon, your friends, your luck, courage, talent, opportunity’s and so on. There’s so much to be thankful for once you start this off, and it really is a great mindset to have right before you drift off into a deep slumber.

Thank you for your time, have a great rest.

The Big White Buddha & Temples

On what felt like the hottest day ever, me and Scott booked a little drop off tour via the hotel desk. The heat was stifling, too hot to sit in, or stand in. I remember being wet through with sweat on this day, my T-shirt was stuck to me! I know that’s gross, but it’s true. The taxi there was beautifully air-conned though, thank god. The climb up isn’t too bad, but if you walk up right from the bottom, which would be about an hours walk or more I imagine, then it’s a killer, as it’s all up hill, steep winding roads, in that melting heat. As it happened, our taxi took us right to the drop off, skipping the long trek. A huge mercy. Massive respect to those who walk/jog up from the base of the hill. Along the way up you pass the edge of a jungle, there were quite a few monkeys about, there was some scaffolding left around so they were using this to their advantage, though they didn’t get too close and no one lost their sunglasses, to my knowledge.

View from the top.

There’s a lot of space up there so there’s great photo opportunities, though again if anyone is kneeling down to pray, or sat to meditate it’s important to steer clear and to not intrude, that might seem obvious, but while I was up there, there were a few tourists standing in the way of a persons time and place of worship, douche move. There’s also a lot of areas to purchase your own charm to fix to the many hangings surrounding the buddha, for luck and good fortune. There’s a massive pot for incense, and plenty of room to just sit and catch your breath, a welcome cool breeze greeting everyone at the top.

The big White Buddha is made of concrete and covered with Burmese white marble, and is sat facing Ao Chalong Bay, and is known as the ‘Buddhist treasure of Phuket.’ Online it states the statue cost 30 million Baht, sourced primarily from donations. It’s actually still fairly young too, the project to build this only started in 2002, with everything overall completed in 2014.

View from underneath.

It doesn’t take long to walk around, but there’s a tonne of different statues to look at while you’re there, including a few golden ones at the back. The walk back down is dotted with all kinds of different offerings, there’s inscriptions on all the trees, trinkets tied to branches and ribbons tied along them too. It was really amazing studying all the different forms of handwriting, in so many different languages, hanging from all of the trees, all of them sharing a heartfelt prayer.

Gold Buddha to the back of the statue.

If you end up in Phuket in the near future, I’d definitely recommend a visit, what’s not to love about a giant Buddha statue? And if you’re thirsty, there’s a coconut stall at the entrance and a couple of other stalls along the way for water.

Beautiful white temple, Wat Chalong.

Just around the corner from the White Buddha, there were a couple of temples dotted about. When I say around the corner, I can’t remember how long the drive was, but it definitely didn’t seem long. Again, I’d fully recommend an air-conned ride. We burnt the soles of our feet taking off our sandals to head in, there were a few mats here and there so the tiles didn’t singe the skin on your feet too badly, but there weren’t enough, so we ended up running inside, eager for the cool floor of the temples.

Little fact – Wat Chalong is said to contain a splinter of one of Lord Buddhas bones.

There were so many surrounding temples in this area, such as this one, it’s well worth the visit. You can simply walk from one to another, taking a tour of each one inside, heading to the tops of them too. Each one is fragrant with incense, cool, quiet and calm. Leave your sandals as near to the gate or entrance as you can so your feet aren’t red raw while you’re trying to find them amongst others, also perhaps turn them over to shield them from the sun if you’re going to be wandering around for a while!

Like all temples, there’s a dress code. Shoulders and legs need to be covered, so don’t forget to take a shawl with you or simply dress as cool as you can while covering up. I was told by a tour guide a long time ago to not turn your back on the buddha, and to always bow when greeting him, so I want to pass this on too. Mind the step on the way into these temples as they’re always raised quite high, apparently to keep out evil spirits that slither about the ground. A big threshold puts a stop to any of that, but I definitely saw one or two people lose their step because of them, so watch out.

The ceiling in one of the temples.

There’s probably one or two things that I’ve missed off, but hopefully nothing too important that I forgot to mention. Either way, that’s it for now. Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day! If you have any questions feel free to comment.

Phuket

January 2020 we landed in Phuket, right when the virus was apparently new to China and there was little known about it! This time it was a holiday, booked with Kuoni, we flew with Emirates (I love flying with Emirates) A380 from Manchester, Dubai and then direct to Phuket.

Our luxury hotel – the Cape Panwa hotel, right on the beach. The first thing I remember, getting out of the taxi was the delicate scent of the place, the flowers, the sea, it was soul lifting. They have two large stone pots of exotic red orchids right by the steps to head inside, the lobby in itself is a work of art. The staff were amazing, so accommodating and friendly. I remember feeling like I couldn’t drink it all in enough, I was being shown to my room with Scott beside me, my brother and my sister behind me, and we were all agog, taking in everything we passed, the views, the other holiday makers, the trees, the flowers, the sky, the heat.

At night me and Scott sat on the balcony and watched bats overhead fly into a tree, some of them I swear were as big as house cats. One day he was out there he saw Toucans too, sitting in the tree.

Phi Phi Islands

After catching up on some rest on the beach and drinking some chilled coconuts we booked on to an island hopping tour which included Phi Phi Islands, Bamboo Island along with Maya Beach. We saw the Monkeys, we snorkelled just off the ‘Beach’ from the film, and we had a little beach lunch included too which was mostly veggie that I loved. You can no longer step foot on the actual ‘Beach’ from the film because there’s been too much coral damage surrounding it, and damage to the beach itself, so they’re giving it a much needed break, allowing some of its natural beauty to come back. The snorkelling was amazing, the fish seemed pretty tame and un-phased by us humans.

Old Town

Scott and I went to the old town, which I truly loved, and I could have easily stayed in for the whole day. It was right up my street, a whole lot of history, old streets, antique stalls, food markets, Chinese medicine shops, boutiques, old houses, little cafes, it reminded me a little bit of old Hanoi and a little of Hoi An. Old town was Chinese for many years, the whole place seems to switch from Thailand to China with one turn of a road, and each frame was filled with so many things to stand and stare at.

We had a really great iced coffee here.

Our lunch in the Old Town.

The best food we had throughout the whole trip, was via a restaurant down at the port, by the sea front called Sabi Sabi, as well as excellent dishes from the street food markets, I usually went with Pad Thai, a long time favourite, along with Morning Glory and rice, sometimes we’d get a chicken and cashew too, Scott was open to try anything, we literally loved every dish we tried at the restaurant and down on the markets.

A little blurry picture of our street food one night.

We went to see the Giant White Buddha too, but I might post about that separately later on.

Patong

Of course, on one of our nights we headed to Patong to see what it was like, honestly it was basically another Khaosan Road, with a dash of Chaweng, it was crazy, lights flashing all over the place, ping pong shows, sex shows, brothels, strip clubs, lap dancing, gambling, the lot. Sin city, basically. I remember feeling uncomfortable the first time I went to Khaosan Road, I was taken aback by how seedy and dark a lot of it was, this time I sort of knew what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, some bars were a lot of fun, there was a buzz about the place, it made you feel drunk even before you’d had a drink. The music blasts out of each club and bar, there’a a background thud to the place, there were a few restaurants here and there and a couple of cafes but even sitting in those, for some peace, the noise of the street and the traffic was everywhere. Maybe we only noticed it more because we’d been in the tranquil space of Cape Panwa and that surrounding area! Places like this though, as wild and over the top as they might seem, they’re part of the culture like anything else, so it’s still worth a trip to cast an eye at.

Dawn, heading down to the beach.

Sunrise girl

I’ve probably said this before, but when I’m away I like to get up super early, and I sort of do automatically anyway! For the entirety of the holiday I was up at dawn, or just before, and I was lucky enough to watch it come up over the sea, over the palm trees. Sometimes I’d head down to the beach and sit in the quiet, other times I sat with Scott in the breakfast area overlooking it all, taking it in, sipping on some good morning coffee. If you’re travelling or just heading away on a holiday, I recommend highly getting up for sunrise, even just once, to sit in the quiet and watch that part of the world come to stir and wake up.

At night, on the beach we also discovered a trail of hermit crabs, making their way from one end of the beach to the other, some with big colourful shells, others with small decorative ones.

I did look into the elephant sanctuary over in Phuket, but it wasn’t overly clear if the sanctuary was legit or not, some people said it was still a big tourist attraction where the elephants were forced to perform in some way or another. There’s the ‘Elephant Hills’ up in the hills further north, which has a good reputation, but by that time we were running out of money so we gave it a miss. Remember if you’re anywhere in Asia wanting to visit a sanctuary, always check the reviews and always research the place first as much as you can, so you don’t end up making the wrong decision.

Honestly I can’t get over how lucky we were to get away right before the pandemic hit, I was walking along the beach one afternoon, picking up plastic that had washed in, when I noticed another lady doing the same on the other end. We met in the middle, and it turned out she was from North Wales, not far from us! She was the one who first mentioned it to me, in a foreboding tone. We were originally talking about the Australian fires, and the state of the world with all the plastic, she mentioned a big virus coming from China and how it’ll spread throughout the world, and then she went on her way.

I managed to take some pictures during the flight home, so here’s a few of those:

Dubai
The big blue

The last sunrise

On our last day I woke before dawn and headed down to the beach alone, taking just my phone for its camera. The tide was out so I walked along the rocky parts, there was absolutely no one around, all I could hear were the birds overhead. It was a beautiful warm morning, with the faintest breeze coming off the ocean.

It’s the moments you have on your own, in silence, in peace, that you’ll always remember the most. I remember the top of Mt Batur, Mt Ella, Sihanoukville and so on – all for the sunrise, the peaceful mornings. The final sunrise in Phuket is now one of those memories for sure.

I have a lot more to say about Phuket, but this will do for now, thank you for reading! Have a wonderful day.

Poetry

As I’ve said previously, I really got back into the swing of things with my poetry over the last two years. Both lockdowns provided a thick slice of silence and peace for me to muse and dwell, edit and re-edit some new pieces as well as older ones. There’s a lot I haven’t posted yet, but I’m getting round to it.

Orchid, Salt and Sown are all fairly new, some parts were inspired via my journal, thoughts, dreams, visions and so on. I don’t attach myself to all of my poetry, all of the time, only some of the time. I like to run another theme along the way, about a couple, or about a woman or man, something they’re feeling that juxtaposes how I feel, or complimenting how I’m feeling. Sometimes the link is obvious, sometimes it’s not. I really enjoy forming a narrative, something elusive at your finger tips. The narrative can either be the backbone of the poem, or it can be something that’s hinted towards, mentioned in every other line, even. Each reader can of course take something different from each word or verse, that’s another factor I love about poetry. A poetry verse about the ocean can cause a storm in the heart of one reader, or create calm in the mind of another, it can prompt fear, anxiety, love, a sinking dread, hope, adventure, doubt, all kinds.

I would say as a rule of thumb, that every poem for me, has to hold my own personal truth, a true event, a real encounter, a real moment, that’s buffed up or blurred, watered down or simmered above flames. Journaling consistently throughout my life has really given birth to almost all of my poems, I cannot encourage journalling enough. And if a poem or some form of creative writing rises from the ashes of a break-up, depression, faith, lust, anything at all, if that writing goes on to help someone, to inspire someone, isn’t that the best feeling in the world? We may never know if we’ve helped, but if just one person scans our poetry and pulls something from it in the hearts or minds, then we did a good job.

I don’t know if this will help anyone, but this is a rough guideline for how I like to write:

  1. Start with a raw feeling, guilt or lust or fear.
  2. Tie it to a real life event, even in just one line, one blip of a memory.
  3. Create a visual metaphor to help the memory/feeling along, such as a swimming pool etc.
  4. What other images help to give birth to this memory? What colours? Which elements?
  5. Who’s there in the poem with you? And how else could you identify them? E.g the ocean – your mother.
  6. How do you want to others to read this? What is the pace?
  7. What stepping stones have you set out for the spine of the narrative?
  8. Type whatever comes naturally, all feelings, the more you have, the better you can edit.
  9. Read it out loud, then read it again. Record yourself reading it even, if it helps.
  10. If the overall theme works for you, then you can add some meat to the bones of it, or strip it back further, you can even close the page down, and come back to it later. Personally, I send my first drafts to my fellow creative writing friend David McGeachie, who’s the best editor for me in the world, because he’s so honest. Don’t forget to check where you place a full stop, a comma, and how long each verse is, keep them in a rhythm, so that when you read it out loud the flow is there.

Instagram

If you want to read some more, if you have a thirst for this sort of poetry, there’s a good load to read over on my creative page on Instagram: zarachangdesigns.

Personal page: zchang23

Coffe stain art 🙂

I’m back…

It’s been a long time, I started to work more hours at my old job, me and my partner Scott moved from Caerwys into my parents home to save some money, and then moved back out to a flat of which we are still in now, happy and settled. The only major downside being, there’s no garden, obviously, and I am very much a garden kind of girl. I can’t even remember where I left off exactly, a lot happened with Covid sweeping the globe, I actually got away right before that all kicked off though, so I’ll post about that soon. I’ve really missed this, I convinced myself there was no real point in returning to the blog posts but I want to add and update some parts rather than just come away and quit.

Poleroid – Phuket

I’m still plodding along my own personal journey of calmness and meditation, I still have old notes in old journals about meditation techniques, visualisation, manifestation and all the rest. I use Insight Timer currently, I used to just sit with my crystals and focus but I would definitely say it’s far easier to use that app. I also use the ‘sleep’ section almost every night, for rain and thunder sounds or for bedtime stories, lately I’ve been listening to the Jungle Book, which has been great.

I became a plant mum, that’s for sure, especially during the lockdowns because they made me feel less lonely. Scott worked throughout it all, which was great, but sometimes during the days I’d find myself wishing he’d come home earlier. This way I had something else to do, because I was always looking after them, pruning, misting, watering and reading up about them if their leaves changed. I sowed some seeds last year too, I was allocated some outdoor space behind the restaurant I was working at so I grew:

Broad beans – these were fantastic and so easy to maintain

Tomatoes – just okay, they were potted so I think maybe a grow-bag for next time?

Lettuce – rubbish, they were destroyed by slugs early on

Sage and Basil – they did okay, didn’t go as big as I wanted

Lavender – for the bees

Rosemary – given to us already fairly full to be honest, via Scotts mum

Courgettes – fairy easy going but it only produced a small handful of courgettes in the end

I planted geraniums and Strawberries too, they did okay. I’m sowing this year too, currently on my windowsill I have Camomile, Sage and two different varieties of tomato! Here’s hoping.

So what else is new?

I had a year off, pretty much, thanks to covid, but I don’t say this spitefully, I really got a lot done! Not just the painting and decorating parts of our home, or the planting or organising the wardrobe, writing wise I got cracking.

I started to write a lot more poetry, then I started this draft novel, with a theme I’ve had in mind for a while. I got about halfway with it and became unsure, so it’s currently on pause, but I did start something else, and I’ve ran away with it, and currently, it’s almost finished. It’s another novel, but completely unlike the first one, it almost feels as if the first one was just practice and this is the real deal, but we’ll see. I started a creative page for my drawings, poetry and general photographs I felt were asthetically pleasing and tranquil, the instagram account is: zarachangdesigns – to follow on from the old tattoo apprenticeship days where that was my hashtag. I’m really glad I started it, because it prompts me to edit, re-edit and post, so I can’t doubt myself or second guess anything. There’s a feeling of vulnerability each time I post a poem, but I sort of love that too, because as Brene Brown says, you have to dare to be vulnerable.

Here’s some of the books I read last year:

Ocean Vuong – On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous – incredible

The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld – also incredible, cannot recommend enough

The Foundling – Stacey Halls – loved it (I also read The Familiars by her, which was great)

The Doll Factory – Elizabeth Macneal – didn’t love, it was just okay

Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid – fabulous, loved it

The Confession – Jessie Burton – brilliant, easy going (I read this in Phuket)

The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker – seriously good, seriously dark, one you’ll never forget – technically I read this in 2019 I think. If you like Greek Myths and history, go for it.

Some books I’ve picked up and put down, such as:

The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden – I’m definitely going back to read this, but I didn’t realise it was one of a trilogy so I need the first book first, and I haven’t gotten round to getting that one yet. I will for sure though.

City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert – I put this one down because I was writing and I haven’t picked it back up yet, but again, I shall.

The Inner Sky – Steven Forrest – this is a big one, I bought this to further learn and read into Astrology, and it’s been marvellous, but also complicated in parts, but very educational.

Superlife – Darin Olien (Down to earth, Netflix) – a general great health book

And currently I am reading:

Girl A – Abigail Dean – and it’s gripping, to say the least, I’ve steamed through it in about four days and I’m almost done. Like ‘The Girl On The Train’ or ‘Gone Girl’ it’s one of those books where you have so many questions, and there are so many little horrors to discover that your brain pushes for more and more. It’s brilliantly clever, so well put together and easy to read.

There are a few books I’ve left off that I read in 2019, if they come back to me, I’ll mention them for sure. Although it felt like 2019 was a blur of work and a few days off hiking in Wales or strolling around Liverpool on our days off.

I’ve got a lot to say about the amount of journaling I’ve done, a crazy amount, and what I’ve gotten from that, but that’s for another post. If you’re reading this, then thank you very much for indulging me again, thank you for sparing me some time and I hope you have a wonderful day!

This time last year…

 

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I was sat outside the front of my house with a broken foot sealed into an orthopaedic boot, crutches by my side and sat propped up in a deck chair attempting to get some end of march sun. I was signed off for nine weeks and so all I did was read, eat and draw. I was fed up to say the least. Everything took me so long to do, getting out of bed, getting showered (balancing on one leg) drying my hair, getting dressed etc the list goes on.

The books I read in this time were as followed:

Eat Prey Love – Elizabeth Gilbert

Three sisters, three queens – Phillipa Gregory

Girl on a train – Paula Hawkins

Carve the Mark – Veronica Roth

Wild – Cheryl Staryed

 

Phillipa Gregory’s wasn’t as great as her others, but as for the others, I can’t reccomend any of them enough. In particular the first one and the last.

Wild is a fantastic read, it makes you really appreciate the foods that are so available to us through the day, morning coffee, comforts, feeling safe, all of it.

It’s a walk of penance, based on a true story, I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give too much away. If you read this book you’ll feel changed by the end of it, that I’m sure. And if you watch the film, which is also good, then you’ll know there’s a vast amount of suffering that she endures, she’s so full of grief and pain that it’s hard to imagine how she got through some of it.

You might not have a broken bone with a 9 week sign off, wheelchair bound on any outings, but if you do have any time on your hands that you want to put into a book rather than scrolling through a newsfeed, then give this a go.

 

 

Another little drawing video….

She’s literally going to take me forever but she’ll be worth it. Let me know what you think, I’ve got more videos to share, they’re strangely therapeutic to look back on and obviously therapeutic to do even if it’s at 2am and I’m over tired.

I wanted to give her a lot of character to her face, with strong features, so hopefully this comes across. I’m self taught in all of this, I do it because I love it, if anyone has a similar hobby please share and share alike I love reading and watching types of art forms evolve into something.

‘You should know suffering’

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Life is suffering, says Buddha. And so says a lot of the the brilliant minds of the world. We cannot grow, we can’t adapt to our higher versions of ourselves without suffering.

It’s also the same for any great story isn’t it? If you took Frodo, from Lord of the Rings and paved the way to Mordor for him with ease, took away the threat, the dangers and the character suffering he endures, we wouldn’t have the story. We wouldn’t have him change. In creative writing they say you should put your protagonist (main character) up in a tree, throw rocks at them, then bring them back down. They need to suffer, for them to come alive. No character in this world, fictional or non fictional escapes the storm without any wounds.

Not only would we never invest in them, read on, relate to them and come to admire them as examples of strength, but we would go on to think things were meant to be easy. Have you ever been in love or infatuated with someone and called it easy? No, heartbreak and heart ache comes with it. You can’t have the rose without the thorns.

The reason why I wanted to blog about this is because I find this quote fascinating when you actually sit and think about it. Another quote to go with this is from Scott Peck, a psychiatrist who wrote a book called ‘The Road Less Travelled.’ I heard about this book watching a video about personal growth and got onto Amazon and bought it after hearing this quote about how we will always, as humans attempt to avoid problems, but in doing so, this is detrimental to our lives and our own growth;

‘This tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness’

We cannot exist without suffering, we cannot live without it. Suffering is life, which almost makes you think of that old quote ‘life’s a bitch’. But this isn’t intended to get us down, and upset us. This is our armour.

If life is suffering we need to become better equipped, we need our higher selves to help us see through the storm, and further more we need to really know our own strength of mind and heart to get through it all.

A brilliant book called ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed is just that, and that’s why it went on to become such a marvelled novel, a true story. And Oprah loved it too. Cheryl nose dives into addictions and all kinds of bad following the loss of a loved one. Her journey is to ‘walk herself back to the woman she once was’. And in doing so, treks the PCT trail Mexico to Canada alone. She knows she’ll suffer along the way, she knows she’ll be in danger as there’s no one to help her, but that’s life. And regardless of all that, she knows she needs to do it.

I’m not much of a problem solver myself, and I’ve tired to avoid my own. In doing so I’ve made myself more miserable and I realised by doing this I end up back on square one anyway. The problem dosen’t move or go away, it’s the bolder in our path. This could be depression, anxiety, jealousy, addictions, greed, grief or even a psychical problem like a broken bone or a character trait like being a pathological liar, and know we’re deluded deep down. Whatever the bolder, we can’t stay on square one. We can’t give up and say ‘my path is blocked’ and likewise no matter how tricky or hard we need to get past it somehow, and we need to figure our out selves at the same time. Is your jealousy stopping you having a great relationship? You’re suffering, work out your problem. Is your anxiety bringing your life to a halt? You’re suffering, this is life, work around the problem, recognise what it is.

‘We cannot solve life’s problems except by solving them.’ – another one by Scott Peck.

I guarantee no one would have even watched or heard of Lord of the Rings if you removed all suffering from the film. Or Gladiator, or even every Disney film. There is a peak of sadness or an element of suffering in every story, big or small.

‘Life is suffering’ – ‘You should know suffering’

Something to contemplate deeper, and a relief too don’t you think, that none of us are ever alone in this. We’re all here, with our own sufferings big or small, some to come some that have passed. We’re all in it, and I’ll finish this off with another favourite quote of mine;

‘Stop worrying, nobody gets out of this world alive.’ – Clive James.

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Tattoo design, time lapse video

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I’ve got a few of these I might start uploading, there’s something therapeutic about watching the picture coming together this fast. Most are my own designs, these are all free hand too, however I do use Broken Puppet for tutorials on drawing for guidance. Hands are especially hard to draw so his video helped me with this. Go check him out on YouTube if you enjoy someone drawing tattoo designs.

My drawings aren’t really within a theme, but a lot of them are inspired by things related to Asian iconography, such as the Buddha hand holding a lotus (common image) made me think of this hand design and so on.

– As a side note, all my images belong to me only, so no stealing, I know that’s hard to ask for in the social media world, but please don’t be a dick, respect the work people do and don’t pinch it. Thanks!

A few words from Rabka the monk…

 

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I’m going to pause the travel bits for a moment and just talk about the other interest I have, which is the human mind and psychology.

There’s a few Buddhists teachings I’ve written down in a journal and promised to myself I’d actively work on. I’ve been in meditation classes and heard life advice first hand from a monk called Rabka, and yet as I am today, I’m not using any of these teachings in my day to day life. I’ve forgotten about them mostly, and I’ve fallen back into old habits with the mind, old toxic ways of thinking and observing.

When I say this I mean being egotistical, without realising it. Judging where I shouldn’t and the worst one of all, over thinking and allowing the monkey chatter to take over. I have a busy mind anyway, I have traits of ADHD with my learning disability, so not only can I not physically sit still, but I struggle to keep focus too.

This has plagued me all my life, I was bad at school because my mind was everywhere except in the class room. I don’t like being still unless I’m sat down occupied with something that interests me. All I remember about school was covering any books I had in doodles and drawing on the tables, carving words into the wooden desk and looking out the window. Daydreamer to the core.

I wrote down briefly some of the things Rabka said to us as a class. We used to all meet every Tuesday night at seven and take part in a guided meditiation. Why guided? Because its almost impossible to tell your mind to stop moving when you’re doing it alone. The ego loves to distract, and that’s exactly what happens.

Love gives rise to happiness , grow love in your mind.

A loving mind cannot have negative minds enter, such as hate or jealousy.

See and understand other peoples suffering when they behave badly.

Find the niggle in your own mind, the part you latch onto, and let it go.

Create a warmth of heart during meditation, starting with becoming thankful.

Turn your meditation gaze inward, see what’s happening in your mind, and help sort through the thoughts and delusions.

 

Those are some of the quotes I wrote down from him during class, if you take a minuet and focus on each one, you’ll realise like me a lot of positivity simply just comes from gratitude. And yet it’s something that doesn’t arise in my mind unless I tell it to. It’ll be a bad day, or a bad morning, until I tell myself to stop spiralling and look at what I’ve got. Gratitude and awareness of the mind are two powerful tools to have.

 

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