False Economies: things which don’t save time.

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A list of time-saving measures which don’t work, learned from experience:

  • Loading the washing machine while brushing your teeth.
  • Unloading the washing machine while brushing your teeth.
  • Going to the loo while still wearing your rucksack.
  • Taking off your leggings and socks in one go.
  • Picking bits of fluff off the floor instead of hoovering.
  • Walking on the road instead of the pavement pulling luggage.
  • Crossing busy roads one lane at a time.
  • Drinking, texting or putting on your coat while walking.
  • Stuffing receipts into your purse willy nilly – only to block your purse, and break your zip.
  • Moving too quickly on the self-scan checkout machines.
  • Being pushy in queues. The karma will haunt you.

End conclusions?

  • Multi-tasking is a #fail.
  • There are no-shortcuts in life. We can only do less. 🙂

The Small Suitcase

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I often think of luggage – and wonder how far it’s been?

This inaninmate object is something I’ve been passed on by my in-laws. Apart from my husband – it’s one of the most useful items I’ve ever possessed; and certainly one I’ve spent the most time with.

Carrying my identify from Heathrow to Who Knows Where, I feel reassured every time I clap eyes on it at baggage reclaim.

Inanimate but calling me, I frequently push past small children to grab this from the moving belt.
Quickly before it goes, taking my toothbrush and make up, vest and necklace with it.

It carries my stuff, to make me whole and at home in another world.

Yet, it’s travelled journeys I will never know!

It lived a life before I wrote my name on “return to this address” label.
It’s been in planes and luggage carts, transfer trains and luggage holds that I will never see.
And it will live past me.

Even after its last plane ride, trusty, grubby synthetic fibres will outlast me in the darkness, buried in a landfill.

Funny, that.

Lessons on “travelling for work”

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Over the past two years, I’ve been one of those people who’s “travelled for work”. Here’s what I’ve learned, through my own experience and from others’:

When flying:

  • Choose vegan meal options.
  • If time zones mean that you’re offered an extra meal than you’d normally eat in a day – skip it.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Don’t eat too much before getting on the plane.

When staying at hotels:

  • Never pay for “breakfast included” – it’s too expensive and too crowded – go to a local café instead.
  • Use the hotel gym rather than the mini bar.
  • Make friends with the room service people.
  • Always take your own shampoo/conditioner.

When staying in foreign cities:

  • Try to become well acquainted with the public transport system instead of using taxis (conquering this makes you much more flexible).
  • Learn hello, please and thank you in the local language.
  • Don’t expect to be able to always go for city walks. There are often no pavements.

What I haven’t learned.:

  • What to do when you see a homeless man sitting in the middle of a pedestrianisedshopping street, crying.
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Skyscape from the Indian Ocean

Skyscape from the Indian Ocean

Skyscape, Indian Ocean

A view of the sky at sunset, from a pole and line fishing vessel, anchored in the middle of a Maldivian atoll.

August 2013.

A blank cheque = Government failure on climate change

The conservatives “blank cheque” for dealing with the floods does not represent benevolent leadership.

It represents the unnecessary cost to tax payers, arising from bad planning and a fundamental failure from both the current and previous governments, to acknowledge the consequences of climate change.

What future costs will the Conservatives’ determined avoidance of the realities of climate change incur?

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Buildings, Mountains, Man.

Buildings, Mountains, Man.

I recently visited Kuala Lumpur for work purposes. On a brief sightseeing jaunt, I leaned from the viewing platform of KL’s largest tower (KL Menara), and snapped this image; a gleaming, glittering cityscape, paying testament to man’s ability to work together for the purpose of shaping a home.

But behind the towers was what I’d really been interested in: the forested mountains of western Malaysia surrounding the capital. While not as immediately obvious as a source of shelter and protection as the buildings, they regulated the climate, provided a watershed, recycled our polluted air.

We need both. If humankind can work together to build these monumental edifices of steel and glass, surely we can work together to protect our forested defenders.

Panic at the Disco: a Sense of Self

Dover-SoleAnyone who knows me (well or otherwise), knows that dealing with anxiety is not my forte. When panic attacks, my eyes glaze and my ears fill with cotton. Time accelerates and I scrabble for space.

So – in the never-ending quest for self-improvement, four months ago, I decided to try “Mindfulness” meditation.

And I have learned so much more than how to better deal with anxiety. Dare I say it… I think I’m learning about that age-old concept, the “soul”.

Descriptions of “Mindfulness” abound on the internet, but from my experience, it is the practice of being self-aware. I am following a programme called Get Some Headspace – which I can heartily recommend. In short, I listen to a directed meditation pod-cast for 20 minutes a day.

While the effects may not be outwardly obvious, my consideration of myself and others has increased significantly. I practice trying to be aware of not just my thoughts, but also my emotions, and my physical sensations. Through being more aware of my own reactions, the hope is that I’ll be able to be more empathetic and compassionate towards others.

But perhaps the most revelatory realisation for me, has been the discovery of my sense of self. Earlier this year, I read an article on consciousness in New Scientists that left me awe-struck. It confirmed all my fears as a biology student, that we are simply a reactionary bundle of cells. Some string of intermittent memory may (or may not!) link a hereditary line of our somatic cells from school girl to woman – but all in all, it seemed there was certainly no real self, no soul, no core of being.

But mindfulness has suggested to me that perhaps this is not true. By being truly aware of what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, and moreover, how I respond – means that I have more self-direction.

If a worrying situation arises, I am still likely to meet it with a rise of anxiety. But hopefully, now I will be aware that I am doing so. By being aware of such anxiety – I put distance between myself and that feeling.

Whereas before, I succumbed to being carried away by panic, I now strive to put distance between myself and that single emotion. I recognise worry as a passing phase; a passing phase leaving my core self seated, steady and ready to take on whatever’s next.

Of course, that’s the theory, and as someone I know often says “It’s all in the doing”. Moreover, just because I can muster some sort of self-determination certainly does not lead to the conclusion that souls exist! But for me, it opens my mind beyond the certainties of our bleak biological billings.

To help, Get some Headspace have produced a super duper video here. If you’re interested in finding out more, take a few minutes to watch it.

Enjoy.