Fake it ’til you make it.

Affirmations

 

  1. They help us to remind ourselves of the positives. After all that is what they are all about, they are intended to help us affirm our strengths.
  2. They help to restore the balance within our brains that can occur when our self-esteem has taken a bit of a battering. (self–esteem can be very fluid.)
  3. They feed and nourish our long-term self-efficacy.
  4. Fake it until we make it, a lot of research out there suggests that we can shape what we will become by the thoughts we perceive as important, and therefore having good thoughts about ourselves should ultimately lead us to have better outcomes in life.
  5. It can give us a better sense of gratitude and self-worth.

My acrostic was my attempt at writing myself an affirming acrostic, it isn’t about its depth and breadth as a piece of poetry but about the mental processes and the affirmations that occurred whilst penning it.

Amazing

Fun loving

Friendly

Industrious

Resilient

Maternal

Accepting

Tenacious

Intelligent

Open to new ideas

Nurturing.

 

 

Alison Jean Hankinson.

The healing power of nature.

Sense of Awe and wonder
Embrace the moment
negative ions create positive vibes

 

 

I have always been drawn to exploring the natural environment. As a young girl, I was forever roaming the hills and tracing rivers back to their source. I had no real idea of the real names of the flora and fauna but it didn’t stop me from getting pleasure from them. My earliest playground was a place called the “red river” that was a tributary of the Whitewell Brook and was named after the colour of the water that was supposedly tainted by copper-I suspect it was actually clay. In areas where the river had eroded steep channels, there was evidence of both clay and shale, and I invariably went home wet through and muddy as it was difficult to climb the steep sides and I invariably ended up waist deep in mud and water.

Thankfully Heysham has the healing beauty of the sea and I don’t have to wade through rivers. At my age that would probably be detrimental to my health especially if I slipped and fell. So why does that brief encounter with nature fill our cup up, what is it that heals us from our encounters with the natural world?

  1. The sense of awe and wonder…we are part of something greater and far more sophisticated than our trivial daily worries and concerns. Nature is great and big, we are small and insignificant in comparison.
  2. The concept of the embracing the moment is reinforced on our journey with nature. Every footstep reveals a new view and vantage point, and every second and every angle and every nuance of weather can change the landscape and the nature that we are witness to.
  3. Bio-feedback, we re-energise, we relax, we exercise, the chemicals released in our brains are chemicals associated with pleasure and lifting mood.
  4. Fresh air, oxygen to the brain and those negative ions-perhaps it is no accident I have always had a love of rivers lakes and the sea. The negative ions associated with these features ar supposed to create positive vibes.
  5. Vitamin D and natural light. Whilst we are out and about enjoying our relationship with nature we are experiencing natural light and also absorbing Vitamin D from the rays of the sun. Both of these are good for our general and our emotional well-being.

There are probably lots of others too, but for me, these are enough to stir me into getting up out of my chair and out into the natural world, even when I am under the weather.

Some of my nature-inspired poems- if you like poetry:

Seaside sandcastles

Summer sunset at Heysham

Sunset Silhouette

Storm clouds gather over Heysham Head.

Alison Jean Hankinson

 

5 things I learned from practising Mindfulness

Be present
Practise Meditation
Accept pain and suffering

I guess it probably does seem like the in thing. I started my journey in 2011, when a wonderful duo Elke Radewald and Dr Rutger de Ridder offered me the opportunity to participate in a pilot programme of MBSR at Whangarei Base Hospital. They were lovely people and it was a fabulous and at times slightly challenging opportunity.

What does MBSR stand for? It means Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and the practice was pioneered and promoted by Jon Kabat Zinn. In medical or clinical realms, the stress reduction is largely linked to dealing with and managing pain. For me, it was a golden opportunity that I will always be eternally grateful for being fortunate to participate in as it did indeed help me to accept and live with chronic pain.

There were about a dozen of us in the pilot and we all had different health problems that involved debilitating chronic pain that was interfering with normal life, at the time I was actually using morphine daily as well as high dose steroids to deal with an unusual presentation of inflammatory arthritis. The actual process involved active meditation and practising meditation on a regular basis and this proved to be very difficult for some of the clients to accept, they had significant pain stories and had often experienced discrimination and been challenged by health professionals about the “reality” of their conditions and they therefore were more keen to express their pain and frustration rather than practice mindfulness meditation. About 8 of us made it through to the end. By the end I was able to ditch the morphine. So for me the act of meditation and mindfulness successfully enabled me to accept and live with the pain I was experiencing.

How did it do that? Firstly I am not a clinician, so my answers here stem from my personal understanding and experiences and not scientific evidence based material. I think that the practice of meditation alters your biophysical responses. In a sense, it resets a balance and creates some form of internal homoeostasis. I think it might be the relaxation and controlled breathing that lowers blood pressure, heart rate and has a marked effect on chemicals released by the brain and their consequent uptake and for whatever reason this enables a resetting of the body’s pain sensory mechanisms. I had a flare of inflammatory arthritis that affected a significant number of joints and the simultaneous pain from this overwhelmed my pain sensory system, the pain was so great. Within the mindfulness training, it was made clear that the goal was to accept and embrace the pain, not an easy thing to learn how to do when all you want is for it to go away. However, it can be done.

By meditating and controlled breathing and accepting the pain I was able to experience one single pain-free breath and recognise it for what it was. One pain-free breath can be increased to two and so on. When one accepts that there are moments that are painful and moments that are pain-free one is able to let them go. Somehow by letting them go you reset the clock.

I still go back to active meditation when I experience periods of pain and still benefit from the training I received.

Did it work for everyone? In short no. People who live with chronic extreme pain are rarely understood in a clinical setting. Clinicians talk about numbers for pain and anyone who has experienced chronic pain would realise that a scale of 1 to 10 does not hold enough dimensions to accurately appropriately describe pain. People experiencing long-term pain, sometimes appear anxious, grumpy, depressed because chronic long term pain is debilitating and frustrating and destructive and yet clinicians often mistake these attitudes and moods as the cause or contributor to the pain rather than the effect. Most people with long term pain want to be able to tell their story, have someone listen and understand their pain and ultimately make it go away. So asking them to mindfully chew a raisin and accept and embrace their pain isn’t usually what they want to do or hear. Plus they want it to work NOW, this moment and the truth is it takes practice. So some people are unable to participate and give it a chance to work and this is no different than with some drugs and medications, which in truth don’t work for everyone either.

Life is based on suffering. I had a great enthusiasm for Buddhism in my younger years, but couldn’t deal with the natural position being set at suffering. I didn’t want to think that life was about suffering. I thought life should be about something more positive and optimistic than that. However, through being sick and at times extremely unwell I learned that suffering often is the base point on the scale and that what enables us to survive the suffering is to find the beauty and joy and pleasure in the single moment that is. This one moment might be the only moment, or the final moment or the most important moment and therefore we need to savour it and recognise it and value it for what it is. I learned to look for these moments and to cherish them and find them in as many places as I could. I think this is active mindfulness, and I think I learned to recognise it from the meditation and practice and the words of Jon Kabat Zinn.

Be present in the moment. I think part of me already recognised this. I remember when the girls were small there were times when they were ill and I was up in the night loving them back to life and I always cherished the moment realising that there would be a day when they were far away and I wouldn’t be able to care for them when they were sick and in need. However, through the practice and teachings of mindfulness, I realised that being present in the moment needed to be the default setting, not something that only happened on occasions. I have practised this and continue to practise this daily. It is about being cognisant of the very moment that you are in and seeing the colours and experiencing it completely without interference from brain buzz, brain drift, worry, white noise of the mind. It is about an ability to focus and concentrate on the exact moment as it is now. It requires conscious practice and conscious awareness.

In 2012 we were involved in a car accident that could have been significantly worse than it was. We were travelling down a country road and a van overtook us at 100km whilst at the same time a car pulled out of a side road on the opposite side of the road, it was a recipe for carnage and I could see it was going to happen. I had an awareness of the vehicle and the children in the car but knew that I had to remain calm and focus on the next few critical seconds and knew that regardless of what appeared to be happening around me I had to slow the car and stay on the road it was our only chance of survival.

The Van hit us full on and carried on going right past the front windscreen and over the fence and into the field where it rolled and ended up on its roof. I managed to stay on the road and slow to a halt, and we remained upright. We were alive and shaken but not hurt, the Van driver was also alive and well but his van was a write-off. I totally believe that it was the ability to completely focus on the moment and remain present that enabled us to stay upright and on the road and ultimately saved our lives.

Namaste. Love to you on your journey.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson.

 

Is Urban Walking a Sport?

So this is my sport and I have had to invent it for me. For many reasons like lack of coordination and skill and other critical factors like health and well-being.  I have had to develop my own sport where I can compete against myself. I call it urban walking. I do it with dedicated regularity, attempt an element of speed and finesse and probably walk many kilometres over the course of the average week. The general aim is for about 45 minutes to an hour about 5 times a week and I try to find circular routes and make sure they have a measure of incline and a rewarding and bountiful view. I think it must be a common sport because when I am on the promenade I find many others doing the same thing but usually in sportier attire than I.

It is a rewarding sport, the view and vistas change with the weather and the seasons and pathway travelled. I have my favourite haunts and my own little challenges along the way, do we need windswept today or are we more content to smell the flowers. Often my husband joins me in my urban wanderings and then it is more competitive, he has a slightly longer stride than I and he is always on a mission to push and exert and add a little extra challenge, sometimes it is I that lead the challenge following a day of solo exploration and I will encourage us to take a new path to add to our familiar routes. Our favourites always take in the seashore where we feel exhilarated and catch our breath as the wind blows cold and howls around our ears, we ride through our daydreams on the wings of gliding seagulls.

 

Rocks awash with waves

On the shoreline seagulls soar

Sweeping summer storm,

 

Alison Jean Hankinson.

This is for d’Verse…haibun Monday… we were asked to share on Sport so it might be a long shot but can I count urban walking as a sport?

Serenade to E block…..

 

It was our second home

Inside we built lives and futures

We shared hopes and dreams

Aspired to greatness

Grew kindess and compassion

Sometimes said goodbye to lost souls and kindred spirits.

We tried to mend the ills of the world

And send forth young men and women

Capable of strength and resilience

Who could dance and sing to any tune

Knowing that they were capable of great things.

E block was more than a Nelson block of classrooms

It had a vibrant beating heart

And a soul of its very own.

It was our Taonga.

 

 

Ellen has a fever

 

It was the coldest night of winter,

snow on the footpaths and icicles

hanging from the window ledges.

Every window open to biting frost as Ellen had a fever

Cradled in the crook of my arm her chubby hot hand curled around my fingers.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

For Quadrille#23 Curl at d’Verse.

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Juanita the human barometer.

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Juanita could tell when there was a wild storm approach

Rheumatoid arthritis made her a human barometer

As the wind and rain would vent and hurl

her tiny hands would begin to curl

And she would feel intense pain from her neck to toes.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson.

 

for Qaudrille #23 at d’Verse

It wasn’t possible to outdo the prompt verse…. it is at is…I tried to keep this in the same lighthearted style….

Thought I had better say that I am not being mean….I have RA and this does happen.