Three things I’ve learned
- Spring is definitely on the way. Birdsong is returning, snowdrops and crocuses are blooming, and the daffodils are reaching for the sky. A great way of noticing nature is to do the Sounds and Thoughts meditation in the park and then pay attention as you walk home or continue on to work.
- My three-year-old son refuses to believe that people used to burn black pieces of rock to heat their homes (that’s coal, by the way). He’s madly in love with steam trains though.
- Film cameras are fun to use and produce wonderful ‘Netflix-style’ colours. I’ve always been a keen photographer and owned far too many cameras. I’ve just dusted off my old Nikon FA, popped in a new battery (it must have lasted for 15-20 years), bought some film and… it just worked! It’s so much less stressful than using a digital/iPhone camera. I find that with digital I fuss about too much, take too many pictures and then I have to decide which ones to keep. With film there’s none of that. It makes photography a conscious act again. It forces you to frame each shot correctly and to press the shutter at the right moment (so you begin to observe the scene in more detail). It mimics life in that you don’t know if it has worked until some time later. In fact, I don’t even know for certain if the shot is in focus until the film is processed days or weeks later.
Three things I’ve loved, read or watched
- I’m reading Love for Imperfect Thingsby Haemin Sunim. A great book that’s stirring my desire to write another one.
- Sex Education on Netflix is strangely wonderful. It’s an American-style high school/teen drama shot in the Wye Valley with a British cast and storyline. The bizarre collision of styles, brilliant acting and idyllic scenery make it quite compelling. And Gillian Anderson’s English accent is perfect in every way. I normally love sci-fi or gritty realism but sometimes you just need a bit of fluff, don’t you?
- Most of us work very badly and inefficiently (according to New Scientist). Becoming more efficient is mostly common sense. Here’s New Scientist’srecommendations (and the evidence is clear): Do your creative stuff in the morning just after you start for the day (night owls might like to shift this around a bit, so pay attention to your own natural rhythms; work flat out for 52 mins and then take 17 mins off; 20 minute naps are good; move around more (sitting still for more than an hour is bad and so is standing); creativity and productivity are enhanced when you escape from work (so take a genuine lunch hour, go for walks in the day/weekend, switch off email in the evening) etc; ditch hot-desking and make your desk your own whether it’s messy or minimalist; take more breaks in the afternoon; people who work less get paid more – so shirk better, work better; and finally, you’ll never get along with some of your co-workers so accept it and move on. The Befriending Meditation can help with this.
Three things I’ve bought, borrowed or recycled
- A seed sprouter (mine is an automatic one made by Tribest). Sprouting seeds are incredibly healthy and can actually taste good if sprinkled on salads that are drenched with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt. They are quite amazing if sprinkled with toasted seeds (sunflower, pumpkin etc) and thinly sliced sundried tomatoes. Best of all, the seeds sprout in a few days and the salad takes a couple of minutes to make.
- Shoes and boots can be easily recycled (especially leather ones). Around us, people leave unwanted items on the wall outside their house. Almost everything quickly finds a new home. If that fails, they can be recycled. Our seven-year-old daughter’s school boots were bought second hand on eBay, used mercilessly, and then popped on the wall outside our house ready for a new home. Re-use is always better than recycling.
- An OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad enclosure. I’m obsessive about computer backups… This enclosure when combined with a software RAID programme will write to four disks simultaneously and minimise the chances of me losing all of my data. I currently use the SoftRaid programme on my iMac and two Seagate IronWolf Pro disks and a couple of Toshiba N300 drives. I also use a Drobo 5N2 network drive (but I can’t recommend that) plus a couple of 2.5 inch disks that I swap around every week or so and leave one off-site.
The Art Of Breathing: The Secret To Living Mindfully, by Dr Danny Penman, is published in the US by Conari Press