Tripped up…

Mental health is a tricky bugger. One day you can be fine and on top of the world, the next, down in the dumps wondering how you will ever get through the day. 

I am fortunate to know that my depression and anxiety aren’t so bad that I cannot function at all, but my brain will sometimes get caught in a negative spiral, with logic and illogic chasing each other’s tails, making concentration and happiness elusive. On the whole, I am okay most of the time, but small worries can easily mutate interest ever larger ones, and depression and anxiety can take hold.

Take returning to college, for example. On the day my mum died earlier this year, I made a decision to get back to my counselling course, get qualified and become a really good counsellor, working preferably with children. There are certain things that need to be in place before returning to college, BACP membership, insurance, and most importantly, placements. I knew about these things, of course, but this year has been tough, and getting my act together has been hard. So, when my return interview didn’t happen last week, my brain spiralled down into panic overload, and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get things sorted and return to my studies. 

Stepping back, making a list, and taking some time has allowed me to overcome my anxiety, and I have now got a referee in place; drafted my letter asking for placements; and have applied for my insurance. I also have someone in mind for my sponsor, and feel more positive about my return to college in September. 

As I write this, I am calm, centred and focused. Onwards…

Zen and the art of till jockeying…

Today has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with the morning seeing me slightly out of sorts and snappy with my lovely supportive wife. I wandered off to catch the bus to counselling in a bit of a haze of unsettled feelings…

Clearly tired, I half read and half dozed through the journey, trying to stay focused on what was going on around me. Still, I made it to town and appointed session in good time with a clearer head. Sleep helps sometimes.

Counselling today gave me time and space to explore and examine the feelings I’ve had over the last few days, trying to work out why I’ve been feeling so unsettled and out of sorts. I like the time I have in counselling, as I feel as though I am thinking on a higher level, able to clear my mind and understand my thoughts and feelings.

So after a refreshing coffee and a late lunch, I caught the bus home in a much clearer frame of mind, able to focus on the days ahead and what needs to be done.

Yet, it was while I was putting in my hours at my part time supermarket job that a sense of real calm and awareness came over me. Suddenly, life made sense and I had a real understanding of my place in the world. The feeling has stuck with me now, and everything seems clear.

Om.

Back on board


Has it really been over a year? Gosh. Mental health really battered me last year, and its only now that I feel more myself than I have for a long time.

A lot has happened in the last year, which I’m sure I’ll talk about later, but for now, let’s talk about skateboarding…

I’ve skated on and off since my mid teens, with the last big blast around my 40th birthday. Now, at 47, I’m taking skating on again, having just bought a new board last  week.

I’m happy to say that my basic skills on a board haven’t deserted me, having rolled around my local park, pulling kickturns and rolls, and today have started conquering my fear of dropping in, which has always been the big one for me.

I found a really good video which went through the basics, and that really helped me today, as I can now drop in from the small fun box… still a way to go, but it’s a great start after not skating for years.

Cue happy face!

 

Back in nature…

Friday evening saw me, two other leaders, one junior leader and 14 Scouts park up at Ullesthorpe Scout Camp. As soon as I headed down through the trees with my gear, I knew I was in for a special weekend. Just being surrounded by nature, no phones, no watches, just tents, food and space.

I think it took about an hour to get our camp pitched, before we got the fires lit, kettles on, and burgers and hotdogs cooking. So nice eating outdoors with our troop, surrounded by trees, with the crackle of fires soundtracking our evening. I didn’t mind that I had a tiny tent, although it was kinda funny listening to the Scouts chatting away loudly until 2:00 in the morning!

I didn’t sleep much that night, so was up at 4:00am, getting water and making sure the kettles were on for a brew. It was nice having the camp to myself  for a while, the only sound being the stove boiling water. Strong coffee brought me big smiles, as I waited for the rest of our crew to stir…

A fry up of bacon and eggs, more coffee and some fruit got everyone up and running, and we set the Scouts off on Bivvy building exercises, and making sure their fires were brought back to life. Our younger Scouts did a great job of keeping their fire going all day, which was brilliant, as we were cooking on fires that evening. I was very proud of how our younger Scouts managed over the weekend, and carried out all tasks, even washing up with a smile and good grace.

At some point during the day, I wandered back up the hill, and sat in the small open air chapel for a few minutes. It was lovely just sitting in peace for a short while on my own, surrounded by trees.

So, the bivvies never got built, but the fires were stoked up, and a water fight ensured everyone (me included) got soaked. Hey, it was fun, and the sun was high in the sky, and we dried off quickly. Dinner that night was chicken stew and baked potatoes cooked on the camp fires, damn there were good. Dessert was baked bananas with dark chocolate, I should have left mine on for longer, but it was nice and unctuous…

We spilt the Scouts into two groups and set them challenges around the campsite, which was fun, and they won sweets, which they enjoyed. We all spent time chilling around the fires, and all was good until some of the older Scouts starting mucking around, and curfew was called. Just as well we were all tired anyway… I read for an hour (Pratchett) and crashed out, happy wrapped up in a sleeping bag.

I was first up again in the morning, so got the kettles on for brews. Once everyone else was up, we got sausages on, and tucked into a very hearty breakfast… those sausages were GOOD. Slowly, we took all the tents down, washed all the pots, cleared up the rubbish, and generally got ready to go home. We were all knackered form taking everything back up the hill, but it was worth it. We had all had a brilliant weekend. Bring on the big camp in July…

Cycling makes me happy!

Today was college day, almost the end of the first year of my Counselling Diploma (man that has gone quick…), and it was really cool to cycle in.

The afternoon saw me plummet into a tailspin of tiredness and depression, and even though I had a good chat with an old friend that helped, cycling home really lifted my spirits and brought me back from the pits of despair.

I bloody love cycling!

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Elsa – my trusty road bike

 

Daybreaker

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Squelching through fields and along tow-paths in wellington boots before the sun has even risen may seem like insanity to some, but it seemed perfectly sane to me yesterday morning.

I had prepped and packed my rucksack and breakfast the night before, meaning that I could venture forth quickly once my alarm awoke me. It felt good to have planned ahead and to be prepared.

IMG_0037Seeing signs of piscine activity upon my arrival at the locks made me smile. I was happy to be out of doors in the early hours, and the fact that I kept catching myself smile made me realise how much nature means to me.

I fired up my stove and got the kettle on for coffee and tucked into leftover Christmas dinner to break my fast. I also scattered some breakfast for the fish, of which they were only to happy to partake of.

IMG_0043Whilst the coffee was brewing, I set up my rods, preparing them for casting out into the murky water afore me. Buying a rig guide from Carpology has already made such a difference to my fishing, having given me greater confidence with knots, baits, leads and lines. After all, I cannot have my best friend with me all the time to show me the best set up for any angling occurrence. His family would miss him…

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The fish were very keen on the bait that I had put out, showing plenty of activity through the murk on the canal. I cast out both rods to where they seemed to be feeding, one midway across the canals span, the other in front of deep weed on the opposite bank.

They were keen to chow down on my bait, but not my hooks, no matter where I cast, my alarms staying silent. I was not unhappy however, as it was glorious to be at one with the elements. I know that there will be more occasions bankside, as the fish now have a taste for my bait. It is only a matter of time before one is in my net.

Happy days…

BMX!

IMG_0019I blummin love BMX. Riding, bikes, culture, style, the whole shebang… I’ve been riding BMX on and off since I was 12 (There is that age again…), and cannot imagine not riding it in some form until I drop!

I started riding Flatland BMX (standing on your bike spinning around in circles and not falling off…) back in 2008, and you think I would be good at it by now, but the fun of mucking around on little bikes rather than worrying about new tricks and fads makes me happy and puts a smile on my face.

I had an ace time riding with my eldest grandson (he is a natural!) at the weekend, and getting a new sprocket (I snapped my old one in competition) for Christmas means I will back out there before you know it…

Grow old gracefully? On your bike! (Ha!)

Into the trees…

RollingI’ve been trying to cycle more over the last few months, partly to get fitter, but mostly because I love bikes and cycling of all forms. It’s also a great way to explore…

I have a regular route to a local town that I use for meetings which takes in country lanes with spectacular views of beautiful English countryside. One side of the road, rolling hills and fields, the other woodland. I love woodland, its my happy place, where I can escape from everything for a while and regroup.

BicycleThere’s one stretch of road I’ve been on lately, which has woodland stretching down a hillside that I’ve wanted to explore. So I stopped, turned my bike round, broke through the hedgerow and stepped into another world.

I put my bike down and looked around me. There were trees all around me, with the hillside rolling down from me, covered in a blanket of leaves, broken with clumps of bracken and brambles. My first thought was “Woah. It would be cool to ride down that…”, as there was a clear(ish) trail weaving down the hill. Another time, definitely…

EntranceThe hill is quite steep, so I stepped carefully, stopping to photograph the ancient trees as I descended. I also stopped to look back up the incline, admiring the view of the midwinter sun pouring back through the trees. At the base of the hill, there is a gate leading into farmers fields, so I can only assume that the woodland belongs to them…

UphillI wove my way back up the hill, aware of the time again, knowing I had an appointment to keep. But for a short while, I knew my mind had escaped the stresses and strains of everyday life. Picking my bike up at the summit, I knew I would return, hopefully to go blasting down a clearer hillside on my trusty steed.
Slope

 

That’s better…

I’ve had a rough day today… not feeling too good about myself and my attitude, I spent the morning at college on my Counselling Diploma. This morning, we were working in groups presenting controversial issues to each other and letting the debates ensue. I dug myself further and further into my cave, withdrawing from the room and the ensuing debates.

I presented our groups issue (enforced euthanasia) with sheer bloody mindedness, stayed for the following group, made my excuses and left, knowing that my mood and mental state would not be conducive to learning that afternoon.

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The Pond in late Autumn

After a long lunch and a cuddle with my wife on my return home, I packed up my fishing rods and backpack and headed back to my favourite fishing spot of the summer, “my pond”. Just walking down the towpath in the late autumn sun made me feel better. The canal was high after heavy rain last week, and the trees were mostly bare, allowing more to be seen in the fields around the canal.

 

 

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Rods are out…

Arriving at the pond, the feelings of the morning faded, and a warm smile spread across my face. It is good to be back at one of my favourite places to relax. The pond seemed a little different, as it is not covered by so much foliage now, but it has lost none of its magic calming effect. Being in nature is such a tonic to me in times of distress and upset.

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The Pond in late Autumn

 

After fishing with my good friend Rolf at the end of last week down in Hampshire (I was after Pike, Rolf was after Carp), I was certain that there is a dirty great big Pike in the pond… I had seen it briefly over the Summer, and the lack of water birds on the pond confirmed it to me and my friends. Rolf has kindly set me up with Pike rigs and a bigger landing net, so Im determined to go after the Pike in the pond, alongside fishing for the larger Roach that are definitely in there too.

Here’s to an exciting Winter at a lovely spot, and catching some big fish. It makes me happy.