my brain changers: june

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers
come stay share your thoughts

'on unbecoming'

i first watched 'groundhog day' a few years ago. i loathed it. i found bill murray's character exasperating and andi macdowell's rita equally as irksome. her optimistic naivety felt uncomfortable. i didn't find it remotely funny. i was thoroughly disappointed it did not live up to my 'culturally and historically significant' expectations. 

we recently watched it again. life experiences and introspections aplenty since the last viewing. and it stayed with me. expectations free, i saw it anew. the way i couldn't have done before. the way that now made total sense. the unbecoming of bill murray's cynical weatherman felt acutely personal. aware of the mental effort and time it takes to start paying attention in a particular way, on purpose and non-judgementally. fascinated by how the mind interprets everyday experience and transforms emotions. falling down and muddling through counts way more than standing upright. contentment is a byproduct of intentionally celebrating natural highs. little reasons make up the big reason to live. create what you want right now and see what happens. make way for chances and trust yourself to deal with whatever comes your way.

have you seen it? does it speak to you? tell me

coffee in mirror

'on choosing curiosity over fear'

my recent interest in creative living was inspired entirely by elizabeth gilbert. her 'big magic: creative living beyond fear' changed my mindset and cured me out of an inner void. it urged me to find subtle but restorative meaning in creativity. the everyday kind. i talk about the effect it had on me in more detail when introducing 'creative companions' series. this conversation between elizabeth gilbert and krista tippett for 'on being' podcast was a timely reminder to keep on choosing curiosity


'on new song discovery'

billie marten's 'bird'

'on conscious parenting'

this insightful supersoul conversation between oprah and dr. shefali tsabary, a clinical psychologist, really struck a chord with me. it vocalises so much of how i feel and think as a parent. it confirms and explains my struggles. it uplifts and inspires me to keep on trying. the idea that a child shows the parent where the parent is yet to grow is something i subconsciously wrestled with and resisted. i have since embraced it. and while it doesn't take away the daily parenting trials, it helps not to be so afraid to look at my deeper self. it helps appreciate the connection with little humans through ordinary everyday moments. i hope it helps some of you also.  

'on new favourite book'

'birds art life death: the art of noticing the small and significant' by kyo maclear

a friend lent me a copy. i wouldn't have ordinarily picked it up. i am not a birder and a book about birds felt very out-of-character. yet i savoured it chapter by chapter. falling slowly in love with her writing and way of seeing. feeling like my coming across this 'sketch book' was somehow meant to be. timely. quietly addictive. insightful and hopeful. i have since bought my own copy. to return to and underline at will. 

'on words underlined'

  • 'when you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. in one world - the world of fixed traits - success is about proving you're smart or talented. validating yourself. in the other - the world of changing qualities - it's about stretching yourself to learn something new. developing yourself.' mindset: changing the way you think to fulfil your potential, by prof. carol deck
  • 'it’s harder to look at yourself with this same sense of compassionate detachment. practice helps. as with exercise, you may be sore the first few days, but then you will get a little bit better at it every day. i am learning slowly to bring my crazy pinball-machine mind back to this place of friendly detachment towards myself, so i can look out at the world and see all those other things with respect. try looking at your mind as s wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. you don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbour’s yard every time it puddles on the floor. you just keep bringing it back to the newspaper. so i keep trying gently to bring my mind back to what is really there to be seen, may be to be seen and noted with a kind of reverence. because if i don’t learn to do this, i think i’ll keep getting things wrong.' bird by bird: instructions on writing and life, by anne lamott

'on good things'

  • me watching him watching the stage. awe and wonder on his face
  • our first ever rose blooming. blush ruffled coy and tentative
  • her legs in shorts. scrapes, bumps, bruises and all. somehow still little, yet already grown up too soon
  • evening whisperings of the garden
  • kefir moustaches
  • scent of home grown mint. in tea. in smoothies. freshly picked and unwashed in little mouths
  • emphatic t's as he tells us the name of his favourite bird 'greatttttt titttttttt'
  • scolding coffee sips
  • theatre date night
  • sprinkler squeals
  • being fast asleep by 9pm. two nights in a row 

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company


my brain changers: may

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers
come stay share your thoughts

'on falling in love'

it happened at every yoga class i ever took. it went on for years. a surge of familiar yearning would start to simmer as i unrolled the mat. eager and hopeful. as my body strained and stretched into poses, i felt it boil up. craving and longing. by the time i lay down and tried to let my body sink into the mat, it was at near boiling point. this time it will be different. this time i really will fall in love with it. it really will change the shape and the size of my flesh. i really will become more at peace and loving towards myself. this is the one. i can feel it. i would pack up and head home. still bubbling up with potential. but it would soon turn into vapour. like it always did. i would be disappointed. i'd feel cheated even. everyone else is in love with yoga, what’s wrong with me. 

it has been months since i last went to sona’s class. then i was with a bump and mostly looking to get comfortable. falling in love was not on my agenda. but i remembered her soft spoken ways as nurturing and nourishing. now i was with a toddler instead of a bump. and with a year’s worth of therapy behind me exploring and carefully unpicking my subconsciousness. now i was trusting my gut more. now i started to see value in process over results. i was more curious and inquisitive. i arrived as a beginner eager to just give it a go again. 

i waited as i unrolled the mat. for the familiar yearning. but it didn’t come. or rather its echos were there, but depleted of force. of intensity. it has retreated from the forefront allowing me to stretch and strain mindfully. it watched from the sidelines. a bench player hoping for a substitution. by the time my eyes are closed atop a yoga mat i feel palpably slower and lighter. i continue to show up to classes. to explore what feels good and what doesn’t. i have my own back regardless of how far i can take a pose. i walk out feeling more open to possibilities. uplifted and inspired, instead of yearning. i accept my own limitations and am grateful for small steps of progress. i carry it inside till the next class. and the one after that. and then it hits me. i am falling in love after all. 


on sona's recommendation, i have since started a 30 day (free online) yoga journey with adriene. i realise i did not play it cool and take it slow. but it seems to suit me for now. adriene is goofy and mindful at once. she makes me ponder and chuckle on the mat, often in the space of the same sentence. she fills me up without weighing me down. she nurtures and energises my beginner's mind. she is the ultimate aspirational girl next door yoga master. 

if you are looking for a disciplined way to show up on the mat, do give adriene a try. and let me know how you get on!

golden hour

'on modern love'

i got into the car to go to a pharmacy. the air sticky and sweltering. i listened to two episodes of the 'modern love' podcast to keep me company. a podcast of real human stories about love, loss and redemption read by known actors and based on the weekly new york times column. stories that make me feel things. lingering kind of feelings. the familiar instrumental is comforting. meghna chakrabarti's voice is soothing. sometimes i laugh with recognition. occasionally i nod with sadness. most of the time i am glad to have made time for an episode. boy, what a fabulous baker made me want to drive to the nearest bakery fast, buy a freshly baked warm sourdough and bite into it while no one is looking. a cup from the fountain of youth left me feeling strangely vulnerable. 

'on mothers and promises'

'i will continue to fill your spirit with immense love and light, so you don't have to go outside yourself to look for it' to my daughter. and son

'on true hard work of love and relationships'

i could listen to alain de botton and krista tippet chatting for always. so much human wisdom in this episode of 'on being' podcast, one of my favourites. they discuss alain's views on love and relationships he expressed in an essay her wrote for the new york times entitled 'why you will marry the wrong person'. alain believes that 'compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.' what about you? 

'on the stork and the beanstalk'

a mother's journal. it has inspired me for several years now. ashley has a raw and human way with words and photographs. her thoughts on motherhood and other life happenings always leave me wishing for more. her documentary captures invariably tell a story. my heart skips a beat when i see a new post. i always walk away feeling things. and wanting to tell stories in scribbles and captures. i hope you enjoy her as much as i do.

air stream

'on words underlined'

  • 'advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. but in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs - and some advice can end up doing more harm than good...the human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. it simply wants to be witnessed - to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. when we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through' the gift of presence, the perils of avice
  • 'no one ever told me that i would remain, fundamentally, myself. sure, motherhood changes you, but it's not a magical metamorphosis. motherhood hasn't made me an expert at spinning plates or juggling, or...becoming a morning person. i think it would be so helpful if we talked more about the ways that mothers—and all parents—learn to adapt and less about ways that they miraculously transform' by erin boyle who writes reading my tea leaves - one of my favouritest blogs
  • 'i will not die an unlived life
    i will not live in fear
    of falling or catching fire. 
    i choose to inhabit my days, 
    to allow my living to open me, 
    to make me less afraid, 
    more accessible, 
    to loosen my heart
    until it becomes a wing, 
    a torch, a promise. 
    i choose to risk my significance; 
    to live so that which came to me as seed
    goes to the next as blossom
    and that which came to me as blossom, 
    goes on as fruit.'
    by dawna markova

'on good things'

  • their matching summer shoes
  • spontaneous pizza dinners on the green
  • stillness and calm that comes with watching birds fleet around a garden feeder 
  • all the shadows that come with more light
  • first scribbles inside a new notebook
  • appreciating yoga classes for what they bring you (slow and mindful), instead of being disappointed about what they do not (immediate results)
  • nights with open windows
  • coming home from a weekend away
  • a new to me old desk that makes me feel like a writer
  • one more new plant for the house. no, we surely don't already have enough plants. yes, i realise my love for them may be bordering on obsession and likely require an intervention at some point soon
  • goldilocks temperatures as of late - shhhhhh, too scared to say it out loud in case i jinx it
  • the smell of barbecued dinners

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company

sunset in kent

my brain changers: april

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers
come stay share your thoughts

'on how to craft a memorable story'

there’s a continual narrative at work in each of our lives that’s being shaped and honed by our choices. storytelling provides the lens through which we can see those choices more clearly. it gives us perspective and helps us make sense of our experiences. we write these stories down to expose the unexposed, to appreciate our choices, vent our frustrations, sort out our confusions, and untangle threads of our imagination
'how to craft a memorable story' by kacie mcgeary

in her post kacie talks about helpful techniques to craft an engaging story
ones that help to take hold of your audience

'on healing through photography'

lyubov slyusareva celebrates life in its most ordinary and vulnerable moments
imperfect and struggling
plain and beautiful

'on raising a human'

cool is an emotional straight jacket, by brene brown
i must remember these words when time comes for awkward teenage years
oprah's supersoul sundays really are 'emotional chasers' at any age

'on inspiration'


humans who make room
for their passion
whatever that may be
abundant in enthusiasm
they draw they pull me in
despite the usual mortal imperfections
there is a wholesomeness to them
they nourish by osmosis
even if i only know them
at virtual arm’s length

inspired by recently discovered thoughts and writings of quietly uplifting mel wiggins

'on words underlined' 

  • it’s often personal stories that help us see the bigger picture: landscape and history suddenly come alive and ordinary objects take on a new meaning. our personal connection to a place can provide missing links and a new way to look at the world 'a thread in time'
  • you would be surprised at how hard it is to be open to new and different good things. being open to new things that are bad - disasters, say - is pretty easy...but new, good things are a challenge, by amy fussleman
  • i understand getting stuck. i understand wanting to make a change while circling around the same neural cage. i understand that sometimes, when you are at the stage of life when you have given yourself over to mothering and daughtering and you get to keep very little of yourself, it can be hard to live with open doors. yet in an effort to hoard solitude and keep people out, there is a risk that you all you end up doing is fencing yourself in 'the art of noticing the small and significant' by kyo maclear
  • i write because i don’t know what i think until i read what i say, by flannery o'connor

'on good things'

  • a rare sighting of the bottom of the laundry basket
  • daylight still after supper is cleared up
  • her 'can you believe it?' face every time she sees her bean stalk shoot up a little taller
  • a bag that fits my camera and lense
  • way such bag makes me feel a more 'legitimate' creative
  • finally finally finally manually adjusting iso on my nikon
  • daffodils, on kitchen table and all over the garden
  • her declaring our road a 'wedding street' for all the blossom
  • freshly printed smell of new issues, of not one but two, favourite magazines
  • making new memories just her and me
  • familiar pull of an unputdownable book

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company






my brain changers: march

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers?  
come stay share your thoughts

'on patience and waiting'

have you ever thought of the difference between the two?
no, me neither
till siobhan watts's ponderful post
it made me stop. and sift through my own waiting from patience moments

'on inspiration' 

hylas magazine
so much visual and wordmongering goodness to make you feel things
i especially enjoy the interviews by lulu withheld
her questions always so poignant and insightful

'on wish'

to fully inhabit oneself
to get better at
and to teach them
how to

'on science of mindlessness and mindfulness'

provocatie · fascinating · unconventional · uneasy

ellen langer is a social psychologist. she has studied mindfulness for 35 years. her take on how to live mindfully does not involve meditation, contemplation or yoga. she defines mindfulness as 'a process of actively noticing new things'. this noticing 'puts you in the present, makes you sensitive to context'. this leads to engagement, which her research shows to be literally 'enlivening' 

the traditional medical model views the introduction of a pathogen as the only thing that’s going to affect the body as far as disease is concerned. until recently it was thought that psychology mattered very little. based on her research, ellen believes that instead of looking for the way the mind influences the body, we should treat them as one 

for her to be a human is 'to feel unique but to recognise that everybody else is also unique' 

it was an intriguing episode of one of my favouritest podcasts. it really stirred me. it stayed with me. not necessarily just for good reasons. i agreed with so much. yet a lot didn't sit well. i am still thinking about it

'on being creative'

'what nobody tells people who are beginners - and i really wish someone had told this to that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. but there is this gap. for the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. it’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not

but your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. and your taste is why your work disappoints you. a lot of people never get past this phase. they quit. most people i know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. we know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. we all go through this. and if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story

it is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. and i took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone i’ve ever met. it’s gonna take awhile. it’s normal to take awhile. you’ve just gotta fight your way through'
ira glass 

'on words underlined'

· its in me alone that my parents forever mingle, sweetly, sourly, along separate sugar-phosphate backbones - the recipe for my essential self 'nutshell' by ian mcewan
· my dreams wait for me. its like a game of statues. when i look, they won't move. when i turn my back, they swarm all over me. i dream, and when i come back i can't remember anything 'ice cream' by helen dunmore

'on good things'

· after a march downpour smell
· blush pink against grey
· new memories with old friends
· morning without plans turning into pyjama day
· bringing outside inside
· comforting smell of a second-hand book shop
· breakfast of coffee and hot cross buns

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company


my brain changers: february (2 of 2)

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers
come stay share your thoughts

'on inspiring conversation'

the human quest to belong. 'when we’re our best selves with each other, i don’t think that’s what’s possible between people; i believe that’s what’s true between people.' brené brown, a wisdomous social researcher and human being, discusses the idea of belonging. belonging to ourselves. belonging to a community. belonging as part of our human dna

'on raising a human being'

· what do we owe to the people who loved us in childhood? an encyclopedic emotional education
· how children understand their own difficult emotions

'on winning'


i go in the morning early
before anyone else is up
my fear comes with
totally unplanned
by sneaking through the back
i acknowledge it
akin to an old familiar sight
but suddenly i am aware
it is no longer in the driver’s seat
i am
i graciously allow it to linger
but no more than that
small tiny victories
are truly big enough

'on words underlined'

it’s important to recognise that self-love is an unfolding process that gains strength over time, not a goal with a fixed end point. when we start to pay attention, we see that we’re challenged daily to act lovingly on our own behalf. simple gestures of respect - care of the body, rest for the mind, and beauty for the soul in the form of music and art or nature - are all ways of showing ourselves love. really, all of our actions - from how we respond when we can’t fit into our favorite jeans to the choice of foods we eat - can signify self-love or self-sabotage. so can the way we react when a stranger cuts us off in line, a friend does something hurtful, or we get an unwelcome medical diagnosis. as maya angelou said in her book letter to my daughter, 'you may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.' i started meditation practice, as many do, with the need to turn around that tendency to feel reduced by life. 'self love is an adventure, not a destination' by sharon salzburg

'on mama letter'


i see you so full of zest for life
it seems to bloom as you do
my main wish for you
as you are turning two
is that your love for life
shall never weaken

'on good things'

  • spontaneous extra tight embraces on our return
  • privilege to share raw and human stories
  • afternoons getting lighter while mornings are still dark enough to breakfast with candles
  • daffodils tulips hyacinths crocuses
  • catching a whiff of birthday baking
  • his utter delight at celebrations 
  • his utter overwhelm at celebration song
  • bow tie and braces 
  • going back to old haunts and seeing her grown up in places where she was growing up
  • morning to spend just with her - wondering, gossiping, walking arm in arm

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company


my brain changers: february (1 of 2)

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers
come stay share your thoughts

'on reflecting'

i have been rewatching childhood home videos. there is a time when i am under ten years old, when i had no objection to being in front of a camera. it was just a thing that mama held up while we got on with our daily happenings. aware yet not vexed by it. everything was in full living technicolour. i then grew older and visibly tried to avoid it. it is startling to see yourself totally unencumbered by internal critics. sobering even. because growing self-doubt and lack of confidence rewrite the memories. it was a reminder also i took each moment as it comes, good or bad. it is startling to see yourself be so accepting of yourself and your body feeling like it's home. so sobering even. may our children be glad one day to also have such reminders.

'on stroke of insight'

a brain researcher suffers a stroke. she calls it a blessing and a revelation. it teaches her that by 'stepping to the right' of our left brains, we can uncover feelings of well-being that are often sidelined by 'brain chatter.' utmost fascinating insight


'on the living room'

human · raw · innermost · voyeuristic · inspirational · intimate · haunting · melancholic · caring · narcissistic · puzzling · lasting · emboldened · distressing · touching · disturbing · evocative · haunting · introspective · emotional · authentic · inauthentic

everything that i felt at the time and days after hearing this story about a one-sided relationship with new neighbors across the way that never shut their curtains 

let me know what you feel if you also listen to it

'on a september story' 

each woman has her own story 
suddenly, you’re something else, something grey and in-between 

'on sustenence'


it drizzles outside
the naked trees are swaying
a mesmerising rhythm
from left to right
and back again
you’re guzzling a milk bottle
am squeezing you tight
your hand is wondering
exploring gently up above
first my nose then eyebrows ear chin
the naked trees are swaying
a mesmerising rhythm
from left to right
and back again
commit to memory
a moment
you will grow up only to forget

'on words underlined'

· our societies have a huge collective regard for education; but they are also oddly picky in their sense of what we can be educated in. we accept that we will need training around numbers and words, around the natural sciences and history, around aspects of culture and business. but it remains markedly strange to imagine that it might be possible – or even necessary – to be educated in our own emotional functioning, for example, that we might need to learn (rather than just know) how to avoid sulking or how to interpret our griefs, how to choose a partner or make oneself understood by a colleague 'the book of life: emotional education'

· it's our ability to regulate our attention, reduce our reactive nature and cultivate positive emotions, that points the way of health and happiness. if we can calmly observe our own habits of thinking clearly, we can see it in others and have greater empathy. increasing the limited view of how we see our world and ourselves should be the next phase of human evolution; to extend the breadth of our consciousness and expand our range of choices. this will lead to appropriate alternatives and we'll be able to select each choice before we act on it. people who comprehend biological processes and make thoughtful choices shift from their self-centred world-view to a much larger interconnected one 'sane new world' by ruby wax

· live a life you don't want to escape from. // know what excites you. and what doesn't. maintain dogged clarity on that. only keep good company. that goes for the words in your head. air your wishes to those who will give you more air. but be accountable to you first. make and revel in your own rituals. fulfillment is a spiritual undertaking. know your life is your vocation. value your dedication to its cause. let plenty go. like believing you only live one life before it ends. like the bad influences that profess to be good. like the parental voice. like the importance of a lifeplan. like your complicated feelings about money. take joy in how your face feels when it smiles. make that a familiar feeling. because oh, will there still be sadness and illness. nevertheless. do what you believe is good and kind. others matter. they really do. offer yourself to that. walk in as much as you walk out. breathe in and breathe out. breathe easier at night. let your last thought be gratitude for the coming rest from yourself. laugh at yourself. forgive yourself. bravely wake and say of your life, it's not much but it's mine @whitepeak_ruth


'on good things'

· having time and head space to balance yourself
· languid pleasure of a yoga stretch you can finally take that bit further
· comforting crackle of a pre-loved vynal spinning
· his spontaneous hugs
· writing as a way to release
· the first bite of a buttered marmited toasted crumpet for breakfast
· the addictive surge of dopamine after a spontaneous morning run with friends
· a sense of belonging that catches you unawares
· first few words scribbled with a freshly sharpened pencil
· the faint lisp she acquired following loss of the second wobbly tooth
· leafing through a new issue of a favourite magazine - always back to front - savouring
· daffodil shoots peeking through the soil all over the garden
· watching the two of them and her make memories and bond again and again
· stomach butterflies of excited anticipation

anticipation of norway adventures. so i am skipping brain changers next week in favour of cross-country pursuits. i will resume with more brain changers the week after next. i hope you don't mind

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company


my brain changers: january

'on changing the way i think'

what are my brain changers
come stay share your thoughts

'on neuroscience'

transformational power of our brains explained inspiringly simply in this video

'on unexpected'

one, a molecular biologist turned buddhist monk and dubbed 'the happiest man on earth' after his brain was imaged. the other, a neuroscientist. both fascinated by the workings of the human mind. contemplative vs. empirical. introspective vs. scientific observation. it was a real privilege to be in the audience as these two esteemed friends continued their conversation on stage. the dialogue so eloquent, engaging and stimulating. the science of the mind approached so differently, yet equally as compelling. they have put some of their conversation into a book. i am absorbing it a page at a time. i shall be back to share my ponderings when finished. 

you can hear matthieu ricard, the monk, talk about his view on happiness not as a pleasurable state, but as a human flourishing on one of my favourite  podcasts . he is an utmost charming and delectable guest.


'on evocative'

(while listening to carousel, by alexis ffrench)

in its evocative prowess
it came on
as we were driving home
it really got me
it took me places
made me smile
the melancholic and amibguous
mona lisa kind
the scenes of all my favourite
childhood soviet films
embraced me in a nostalgic hug
i sat there eyes shut sun beaming
i let it take me  

'on connecting through conversation'

one of my favouritest women reading an essay on one of my favouritests podcasts about how love is sustained 

'on collaboration'

we have never met in real life. i don't know what she looks like or how old she is. if she prefers tea or coffee. or dislikes hot drinks altogether. i know she lives in sidney. i know that i am asleep when she is awake and draws with a pencil. we were brought together by unvael journal. she illustrated a poem of mine for issue 2. this week she sent something that in her words 'matched my vibe'. i have put it together with a poem of mine i instantly thought of when seeing it. thank you, @sparksflyidraw for making my heart sing

i hope it also makes you feel things

day 311: wednesday
holding on to the stillness
embracing the blur
carrying on regardless
wading through the fog
looking out for the glimmers
calling on the reserves
training up resilience
even if hurts

'on conversation with a six year old'

me: 'how is it that all people are born sweet little humans, but some then grow up to do mean and horrible things?'
her: 'because they can't resist the dark side of the force'
may the force be with you, i think to myself, always 

'on words underlined'

as for what constitutes 'a meaningful life,' i think it’s a life in which we are fully participatory. it is a life in which we are most present, in which we explore and create and love as our most honest selves. the only way we get to know that self is by pressing up against our walls, learning what feels good, what opens us up and what makes us unique.

perhaps that means saying yes when we want to say no, or vice versa; maybe it means courting humiliation not by doing what scares us, but by doing what excites us; maybe it’s the daunting work of figuring out what those things are by spending more time with ourselves and our thoughts. after all, turning inward can be risky — it makes it much more difficult to hide.
'can you lead a meaningful life without taking any risks?by megan nesmith


'on good things'

· a bunch of daffodils soaked in afternoon light
· meeting someone in real life that you have admired from afar and not being disappointed with their real life self
yes, sas petherick is truly as wisdomous, nourishing and inspiring as you think
· the sight of him in her old burnt orange pixie bonnet toddling at speed
· the just right firmness of a perfectly ripe avocado
· the just right gooeyness of a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egga brisk morning walk
· timer going off letting me know my cup of tea is ready for milk and sipping (i have become very british about the tea brewing timings lately)
· defrosting icicle hands around a said cup of tea
· her face glowing with excitement aplenty at the prospect of another wobbly tooth
· sneaking off unnoticed with a handful of chocolate covered raisins that grandpa brought round for the kids (sorry, kids)
· the occasional bird tweet catching you off guard. spring is coming
· the satisfying thud of a new issue of favourite magazine landing on the door mat

have a gentle week and thank you again for your company


introducing series: 'brain changers' or changing the way i think

when you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. in one world - the world of fixed traits - success is about proving you’re smart or talented. validating yourself. in the other - the world of changing qualities - it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. developing yourself.
— mindset: changing the way you think to fulfil your potential, prof. carol dweck, leading authority on the subject of mindset traits

i have always had a classic case of what psychologists term a 'fixed mindset'. relying on the idea of intelligence and talent as innate abilities. it's fixed. you either have it or you don't. school marks prove that. your degree proves that. oh, and that job of yours. well, that's just the icing surely. exerting effort shows you are not naturally smart, so don't let others in on the fact that actually you are having to paddle under the surface with all your might just to stay afloat. having self-image so tied up in external validation and reward means you lose confidence the moment you have difficulty solving a problem. it's brimming full with vulnerability. eventually, it wore me down. 

coming across growing research in neuroscience about neuroplasticity (the scientific discovery that brain cells can rewire and change patterns throughout human life as we experience, learn and adapt) and uncovering the idea of 'growth mindset' was eye-opening. it was liberating to find out that learning, curiosity, persistence, dedication and resilience matter more than inherent talent when faced with obstacles. that you can learn and continue to cultivate knowledge and skills with effort and perseverance throughout your life. and that the process of creating and doing is the part that builds up the kind of contentment that is much less vulnerable to stumbles and falls along the way. 

my 365 day mindfulness project on instagram was my first try to get me some of that 'growth mindset'. i did not consciously realise at the time the transformational effect it was having on how i think, see, feel and do. and unexpectedly becoming part of an inspiring and nurturing community, well that's just the icing, surely. 

i am now fascinated by all things human mind and neuroscience. i now think happiness is having freedom of mind to navigate through ups and downs of life by experiencing emotions, but not being enslaved by them. having the ability to change the way i respond to sensations by renaming and reframing my emotions.  i realise that transforming the emotions is a mind power, but is also a big challenge that requires purposeful effort to become more and more familiar with the workings of the brain and the mind. it also requires cultivating mindfulness of the present moment and habits to support it. 

this series is a modest monthly collection of postulates, experiences and objects that i come across in my day to day. empirical or contemplative. words read and underlined. books leafed through or recommended. podcasts or conversations. poetic musings or mindful ponderings. articles or lyrics. anything that helps me to be more open to new and different good things. anything that helps me to intentionally pay attention and reflect without judgement or expectation of payoff, as i try to rewire my brain to cultivate curiosity and learn to self-regulate. anything that helps me to better inhabit myself and take charge of my brain. to have a better than before enjoyment of life. i hope you can join me.