The Turning 40 Series: the bit where I remember I’m afraid of dying

OK so it probably doesn’t come as any surprise to you that we’re not immortal right? We’ve all got to die sometime. However when you’re in your teens and 20s that fact feels far away: You’re too busy concentrating on living life, making career moves, doing crazy stuff. Even as you move into your 30s you’re likely to be focusing on relationships, the next power move at work, maybe nesting with a new partner, or creating a family to be too worried. Then suddenly 40 starts creeping up and so does the thought you could be over halfway through this life you’ve created and strived for? Anyone else get the cold sweats? OK warning here, I’m going to be talking about death.

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Six reasons why pets can make you more mindful

Pets are pretty amazing. They don’t tell on you if all you do on a Friday night is eat takeaway in your pants. If you want to wear your pyjama pants three days running they’ll still love you. They don’t post pictures to social media of you snoring. Their little personalities are all different and they are loving, and depend on you (OK not so much cats). I should know. We have six. Yes you heard right, six of the little darlings. Two dogs and four cats. Our hybrid family came together from a mix of locations; two single households, some joint ownership and two failed foster cats. (Failed in the sense that I couldn’t give them back.)

You’d be forgiven, particularly if you’re not a pet owner or animal lover for thinking we’re pretty bonkers for having so many pets. However we love our busy household full of furry friends. And since I’ve been practising mindfulness, I realised something about pets, which is pretty good for me. They make you more mindful.

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Betty the Pug practicing acceptance

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Why I haven’t posted for a while…

When I started this draft, according to WordPress it was exactly 25 days since I’d posted. Apart from my few months of hibernation last year, that’s the longest time I think I’ve gone without posting. I love writing my blog so what could possibly have got me silenced? Well the last few weeks since I started with my 25 day gap, it’s just been pressures of working two jobs, trying to keep up with  family and friends, and generally keeping the hamster wheel going whilst trying to give myself all the things I love. However before that time it was the black snow.

I call it the black snow because it slowly falls onto the landscape of my life until I notice it. Some of you might call it a dark cloud, a black dog, being in a tunnel without any light. The number of metaphors for depression is endless, because we all experience it differently. I’m lucky now, for me because I use a number of different methods, I have very low level depression which occurs on a slightly more regular basis that I’d like, maybe 3 or 4 times a year for a few weeks, but sometimes I can keep that black snow from falling too.

The problem with black snow is it falls slowly and stealthily, covering everything in its wake until there’s a layer over everything. The things I love to do such as reading, practicing mindfulness, getting out and about start to get covered up.  I find them hard going, it’s like winter in my brain and my soul on a daily basis. Just carrying on with daily living is a constant I wouldn’t say struggle because it’s low level stuff, but a constant task or chore, rather than the fact that normally there are many pleasures and laughter.

The black snow obliterates life as I usually know it. I’m thankful because now even if I don’t know the black snow is coming, I know what to do to bring the sun out and thaw it; meditate, get out and go for a walk, eat well, sleep, talk to my wife, stroke the dogs, or the cats, take some time out to do nice things. The problem I have is sometimes it takes 2 or 3 weeks to notice it’s arrived again and a further 2 or 3 weeks of getting myself into gear to do the nice things. Once it’s over, it’s like a spring day has come, the sun is shining and all that’s left is the drip drip sound of what once was.

I share this for all of you that have black snow in your life too. Whether it’s so deep you can’t open the door at the moment, or it’s a foot high which makes it hard to trudge through but you can see how you could move above and you’re working on that. Keep working on the big thaw, it’s always worth it.