by Rebecca O'Dwyer
I was talking to a gentleman at a party on the weekend who has just retired from a 35 year stint in a government agency. He worked his way up the ranks and, when I asked him if he enjoyed his job, he replied ‘I did to begin with but, by the time I left, it had become stressful, and totally unsatisfying.’ When probed, he explained that he had become bored with the repetitive nature of the role and that new projects just didn’t hold any interest for him as they once used to. My Father was party to the conversation, a retired farmer who left school at 15 to join the family business and officially retires this week – aged 72.
by Rebecca O'Dwyer
Some say that marriage is being bound by vows. There is an old cowboy saying that goes “A wedding ring cuts off the wearer’s circulation”. But, what is marriage really?
I remember someone close to me saying one day “I don’t want anyone to be with
me because of a piece of paper. I want them to be with me because they love me.”
By John O'Dwyer
So you’ve heard that yoga is good for you and is meant to have lots of wonderful benefits, and you would like to find out for yourself? Popping along to a class is a great way to start.
Here’s what to expect ...
By Rebecca O'Dwyer
If not, I suggest you get on to it, because it is great fun and is likely to change your life. For the last twenty years, I have wanted to own this car – an MG – but my circumstances were such that I didn’t think it would ever be possible. It is now parked on my drive and is just an example of the way my life has changed over the last few years. How did this happen?
by Rebecca O'Dwyer
My husband and I celebrate 10 years of our marriage at the beginning of September and have just booked a trip to Cyprus for some quality time in the sun together. Looking at the stunning images of the sea, the sun, white-washed walls and vibrant pink flowers, I am feeling very excited to be there feeling that sun, dipping my toes in the sea and smelling those alluring blossoms. My artistic eye has also been awakened, thrilled by the blue hues, shocked by the pink and purple tones of the native flora, drawn by that special island light, and fascinated by the shadows that loom in the alleyways of old Cypriot villages. Are they paynes grey, or is that a lilac shade I see there? I feel the familiar excitement in my belly that starts to rise and I'm beaming as an image becomes clear in my mindseye, it's a watercolour, and I just can't wait to get my paints out!
And then a question comes . . . why can't I get this excited about the stunning view from my bedroom window every morning? It's a sight many people would give their hind teeth for - rolling green hills, lines of majestic oaks, thick hedges crammed with technicolour birds singing their song, blue skies with cotton wool clouds (some days anyway!), and striking coloured sheep grazing peacefully in the distance.
It's that old adage of familiarity breeding contempt. Travelling to different landscapes with unique architectural styles and exciting new colours wakes us up from the monotonous slumber of our daily lives. New experience opens our minds and expands our reality. 'Variety is the spice of life' - we all know that saying well - but what does it really mean? For me, variety creates contrast, and contrast breeds gratitude. Variety keeps us stimulated and interested in our lives, ALL parts of our lives.
I doubt you will see the vibrant and fresh greens of wet and wild Wales in Cyprus at any time of the year, let alone in August when the ground becomes dry and dusty, burnt by the sun. I know I will be blown away by the rainbow of colour in the Mediterranean Mezze's, a taste sensation which will be sure to delight us during our stay. But is there anything more comforting on a cold British Winters night than a warming stew, or your Mother's roast dinner when you're feeling tired from the daily grind?
What have you been wanting in your life? Bite the bullet and take that salsa lesson, join the creative writing class, learn Italian, take the trip to Marakkesh, spend the day with your children dressing up in carnival clothes and painting your face. These things you will never regret on your death bed. These things will enrich your day to day life.
You may find you can look at your life through new eyes and with a greater sense of appreciation. Really SEE the houses and gardens you pass on your morning commute - what style are they? How many colours can you see in the carefully tended flower beds? Allow yourself to be struck again by the beauty of those closest to you. When is the last time you looked deeply in your loved-one's eyes and truly saw them?
by Rebecca O'Dwyer
As a keen Equestrian, I enjoy nothing better than a day out at a show watching the hunter classes, wondering at the beauty of our equine friends and celebrating the best in ring. My artistic eye gets such delight from the peachy bottoms and the particular curve that you only really see on the neck of a quality Welsh Cob stallion. Watching the arabs trotting up gives me more pleasure than any catwalk show ever could.
This can sometimes feel like a guilty pleasure, as I am more than aware of the big business that is the horse showing world. The fact is, many show horses are produced on large professional yards where they are seen as a commodity rather than a person, and spend their lives on lorries being carted around the country from show to show. It isn't uncommon for show horses to be stabled for the entire season in case they should get 'dirty' if they were turned out to grass.
Thankfully, we still have a great presence in the showing world from people who love their horses as a member of the family, and showing producers who take the greatest care of their charges mental and emotional health for the time they are with them. Next time you are enjoying your county show, take a good look at the horses in the ring, and notice
which animals have that special glint in their eye, the one's that really look alive and happy. Congratulate the judges who give the red rosette to the animal whose spirit remains intact.
Lets all celebrate the owners and producers that turn their horses out so that they can have a good roll in the grass and behave as horses should, with the freedom to kick up their heels if they feel like it. That's what grooming kits are for, after all!
by John O'Dwyer
We know one of the many and varied purposes of Yoga in the modern Western world is its ability to bring us back to a quiet place inside us, a more meditative place where we get back in touch with our bodies and the calm that we want within our lives. This is a beautiful place to get to but all too often the question is asked 'How can I transfer this into my daily life?' or it's said 'When I go back out into the world no one else is in the same energy and I lose my calmness!'. It's well known people can go on retreats where they connect with all the participants and have a great time, and yet on the way home another driver cuts them up and BAM its angry time!
Could it be that, in terms of modern Yoga's purpose, the end game is not the internal calm itself but more the understanding that once we get there we are in fact more connected with the outside world? A deeper shift as the more internal we go the more we come to recognise our place in the world, the connected parts, the synchronicity and that we are not solitary beings walking around on a massive lump of earth? Only from our internal veiwpoint can we look out and see the harmony and beauty around us but also the disharmony. We tune in to both on a deeper level and once away from the safe environment of class or retreat we run into daily life as it is for most people. Maybe then we can recognise that we have come to a place of 'overview' of 'seeing' and this is not something outside that we must hide from but a Ying to the Yang. We have more awareness, and merely by noticing our perspective we have the power to change it.
So just noticing a tension creeping back in or that someone else is in anger shows a heightened awareness to your current state. We know going to one yoga class won't fix your physical challenges, it takes time, and the same is true with our daily state of being in the world. Coming back regularly to a quiet space will help us engage more fully with the people around us and our planet.