What a treat to see Dame Judi Dench in conversation with Gyles Brandreth this past Sunday. Again, I've waited a long time to see this one - 2 years and 2 months later...
It was well worth the wait. Listening to them reminisce about their old theatre days in the first half and then talking tv and films in the second. There is something really special about being in an intimate setting with like minded people watching one of our idols in the flesh! Time just whizzed by. It was also lovely to hear Dame Judi talk about her husband Mikey and how they met and what it was like to work together on A Fine Romance, and then of course when she talked about Geoffrey Palmer and As Time Goes By, one of my all time favourites. Brilliant writing and acting and beautiful gentle comedy. Really good for the soul when I've been feeling unwell.
It was such a joy to finally see Mrs Brown's Boy D'live Show The Musical. I bought the ticket in December 2020 for June 2021, then it got rescheduled that month for a year later - and here we are. Although I miss Rory and Deano, it was great to see the rest of the cast on stage. I would've hung around to try and get some autographs afterwards, but I had to get down to Eastbourne for a wedding the next day. We stayed in an air bnb in Pevensey Bay which was delightful and right opposite the beach. Such a great location! That was my first time in an air bnb aswell. I was very impressed.
It's been another busy week of my car going into a different garage to attend to a different repair, lunches with friends, extra shifts to pay for all this car debt, decorating the spare bedroom and spending time with family and finally going to see the latest Downton Abbey film, which I loved!
In between all of this, I am getting one side effect in particular from Aripiprazole. Honestly, you can't win with mental health meds - you find something that fixes your mood, only to have it cause this irritating restlessness instead. The CALM app is becoming my saviour. I'm using it most nights to meditate before bed and try and calm my mind and body.
This past week I've been doing a 7 day practice to soothe pain, narrated by Oren Jay Sofer who is one of the CALM app's meditation teachers and authors. It's been about finding balance with emotional, physical and mental pain. It is so easy to get tangled up in pain and discomfort to the point it takes up a disproportionate amount of our time and energy. This practice is learning how to soften the intensity by redirecting our attention. I think of people walking on hot coals here, although they choose to do that!
My takeaways are sensations, compassionate awareness, investigating and visualisation. I'll explain..
In one of the lessons, we had to focus on the sensation of our breathing and then explore physical sensations (like touching my lips together) to distract ourselves from the pain whilst meditating.
Another lesson was about compassionate awareness. Connecting with the warmth and kindness of a favourite person. Putting a hand on my heart to practice receiving self compassion. And imagining a younger version of myself that I could send compassion and empathy to.
A good reminder was investigating my pain. Notice the sensation. Where is it? How big is it? How does it feel? Then we would take a break and return to neutral reference whilst continuing the meditation.
I've always struggled with visualisation as a concept, but I liked the suggestions when using it for soothing pain. They made sense to me. Visualise the feeling of compassion like a weighted blanket - and I love my weighted blanket and rarely meditate without it. Another lesson - visualise a warm, golden light stream filled with soothing, healing energy flowing through your whole body, bringing ease and relaxation deep into your bones. Allow your body to rest in this light. When you're ready, allow the visual to fade. Let the light dissolve into your body. For some reason, this one worked well for that restlessness and for the constant fibro pain in my back.
The whole series just got me thinking about things in a different way and that's what I like about CALM.
Unfortunately I was working Friday through Sunday, otherwise I would've been in London for the whole 4 days soaking up the atmosphere on the Mall where history was being made. I am so proud to be British!
The weekend before, I was in Windsor with a friend, taking a tour of the Castle. This is part of our ongoing touring of all of the Royal residences. It was wonderful to be in the Queen's hometown enjoying the sunshine and the build up to the festivities. There was a definite buzz in the air!
My favourite part of the Castle was the Waterloo Chamber room where we learned that behind all of those pictures, there are paintings and drawings from the Queen and her sister, as they used to put on plays to the rest of the family in that room. I also loved listening to the choir in St George's chapel and lighting a candle and learning that 10 kings are buried there. So much history, it's truly amazing!
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.