Ageing Shamelessly: Part Two!

Thank you for the lovely messages after I posted Ageing Shamelessly. It’s great to know so many of you feel similarly, that we are not resigned to growing older the way society tells us we must!

I wanted to share a lesson I’ve learnt this week and it’s a bit of an abstract one so bear with me…

We recently adopted a cat, called Shaylou but we call her Lou Lou. She’s a very special girl. We adopted her when was abandoned by her owners to live outside after they moved. The reason little Lou is extra special is because she is 20 years old! In cat years this makes her 96 which is amazing!

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Our little old girl, Lou Lou! 

Since she’s been living with us, I’ve learnt so many things about ageing which I just instinctively know can translate to humans. We’ve been conditioned to accept so many things in our later years that just do not need to happen.

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Guarding my fancy chocs!

So I’ll details the things our little 96 year old girl does on a daily basis…

  • Eats heartily
  • Exercises: stretches, runs around (cardio) and bone strengthening jumps!
  • Plays with the joy of a kitten
  • Naps when she needs to
  • Cuddles
  • Speaks up when she has something to say! (Food please!)
  • Socialises with her friends
  • Keep herself groomed and neat
  • Has maintained a healthy constant weight

I have no doubt that this list could apply to 96 year old humans if we believed it more possible. The key difference is that no one has ever told Lou Lou to “act her age” or “she’s just too old to be doing that”. She is doing everything that feels natural to her and on the timescale that she chooses. Humans on the other hand (or paw?!), are so tied up with our belief systems that we follow what we think we should be. Old age to us, is not seen as increased energy and vitality but a loss, and often a huge loss at that.

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Let’s be amazing at 100 like Beatrice here!

Having no societal rules on ageing thrown at her, means that Lou has continued the natural behaviours that served her well as a young cat- stretching regularly, resting when tired and lots of activity in between. We can learn so much from this! Keep the joyful behaviour from childhood. Continue to play, laugh, sing, dance, eat well and rest when needed. Listen to your own fluctuations of energy flow, don’t try and fit in a box of an existence thought out by someone else!

I’m not saying she still has the full spark of a kitten. We have two other cats aged 7 and 6 and they are faster and a little brighter than Lou, but only marginally when you consider in human years they are only in their 40s!

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Our other two rescue girlies, Hazel and Saffrom! 

Again, I will say that we need to rethink our ideas about ageing. Looking to nature is a great way of seeing how we CAN age well, keep the activities we love and have a beautiful old age experience!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

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Ageing Shamelessly!

As you know, I work a lot with our elders and so of course I listen to them and what they have to say. I have met thousands of elders now through my projects and all of them have been inspirational in their own way.  Much of what they tell me is positive and a lot of people have great attitudes, even if they are facing huge challenges to them such as mobility issues or even dementia.

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Wonderful Betty, 96 and makes a croissant for breakfast every morning- she is still a true french lady!

I also meet a lot of people who are not so positive. This piece is not to tell those who are feeling low that they must change and “cheer up”, far from it. What I’m trying to explore is how potentially our attitudes towards ageing are contributing to the negative experiences of many of our older society.

“I hate old age”

“Pain? It’s just ageing isn’t it”

“Don’t get old”

“I’m too old for that now”

“I’m too old to try”

These are just a handful of comments I’ve had from some really lovely older people who aren’t wholly negative about their lives but it’s clear they hold an entire belief system around their age that is telling them what they can and can’t be.

And I’m certain this didn’t suddenly enter their minds when they turned 65. It’s drummed into us so early. Our whole society is set up to value youth above all and discount the wisdom of our elders.

We are shown representations of elders in television and film that make fun of old age. They use lazy writing tropes such as deafness or memory loss and so these become a template for what we think we will encounter.

We treat older people as though they are stupid. We speak louder and more slowly to them whether or not they have hearing problems. We laugh behind their backs, roll eyes, give knowing glances and generally dismiss their presence.

So is it any wonder that people become ill and depressed as they reach their older years?

Surely it makes sense that if we expect to have illness and reduced mobility as we get older, then this will come to pass? Just as if we tell ourselves we are less attractive as we age, then it will be so as we’ll see ourselves as such and then project that to the world.

If we expect people to not want to listen to us, we will stop speaking. Stop going out because we are not wanted anyway, which in turn leads younger people to believe that older people become dull and lifeless. And so you can see how the attitudes are self perpetuating.

I think this will be individual to each person as to how much they hold these views and how it impacts on their health but I would love us to change our views surrounding old age and death also.

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Beautiful Elsie, who had such a smile despite challenges

I’d like to add that I do not hold these views at all. I can see how they manifest and also some of the reasons why, but I always challenge them, in the kindest ways I can, when I come across them being held. I offer suggestions, try and spark as much joy as I can with music and make sure I see smiles and hear laughter as much as I can.

A change needs to happen though if we are to tackle these issues.

I would like to call for a shift in how we view old age. I am only in my thirties so I cannot be a true ambassador for that (yet) by showing through how I live but I intend to be as I grow older. And I implore you to do the same, to defy the conventions set for us.

Do not “grow old gracefully” because that is synonymous with accepting all of the nonsensical narratives we hold about age- that you must retire even if it’s from what you love, that you need to slow down (I aim to live beautifully slowly anyway) that we have less of a voice, that old age brings suffering and pain.

This is NOT how it needs to be. I’m not saying a long life will not bring challenges. Of course it will, but we can decide how we face them and how we tell our stories.

Grow old shamelessly! Carry on doing what you love, know it’s ok to make changes, don’t accept ill health as being part of old age, we can still stay well and healthy and live a life of joy right up until our time here is at an end.

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Wonderful Beatrice, 100 years on this Earth and still dancing!

Change starts within ourselves but as we’re working on that, let’s change our communities too. Place value on conversations with our elders. Don’t see popping into an isolated older neighbour’s house as a charitable act but as a gift for you both in what you may learn from each other. Make elders feel included and loved, so that when your time to become their age arrives you will find yourself in a beautiful, loving community also.

I know that I’m going to work very hard on changing my own beliefs surrounding age right now so I’m as happy and healthy as I can be for the rest of my life and I wish for you all the same!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

 

 

Finding True Creativity

We’re a funny society aren’t we. The way we box people up, some are this way, others are like this. Some are creative, others aren’t. When the truth is we are all made up of so many different things but what unites us is that we are all supremely creative!

Of course, this may show itself in very different ways. We traditionally see creative people as the artists, musicians, poets of our world. Yes, this is beautifully creative. What we don’t see is all the other ways people are being creative every single day. Teachers creating new ways to pass information, parents creating new ways of reaching their children. Everything we do in life is creative from the obvious- making a meal- to the abstract- constructing a sentence to speak with one another. If we viewed ourselves differently we could open the flow to even more creativity. Who knows what we could access in our minds if we all saw ourselves as having the ability to make what we want out of the materials we have at hand whether that be words, wood or even our thoughts. It’s all the same when we reduce it down- it’s all a bare form that we can build with and transform into something else. True alchemy.

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Music is only one way, not the way of expressing creativity

If you say to yourself you’re not creative then that is a definite way to block any motivation you may have. Trust in your ability to make things happen.

Deep down we know we have this in us. Our language reflects it. It’s why we speak of “building relationships”, “making a home” or “forging a path in life”, all are ways to describe forms of invention. Think about it. What is creativity other than bringing something into being that was not there before. So if we think traditionally, this would mean to us a new song or a new artwork. How is a nurtured relationship any less than a song. It is also a new thing on this Earth that didn’t exist. It too takes work to bring it to life. It also needs work to thrive.

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Creating can be whatever that means to us

Begin your year with a new way of thinking. You ARE creative. You CAN make the life you want. We are all the architects of our time here. We are all the alchemists, transforming what we find into works of art. We are all the creators of our lives.

Just because you do not fit into categories we have so far reserved for creativity does not mean you are any less creative than the poets, artists and musicians. We all create every day and if we do so with love then we will add as much beauty to the world as every single song or painting in existence. I would also add that if you do follow a traditional path then that’s perfect too. I express my own creativity in many “accepted” ways as well as in many abstract forms too. I see them all as equally valid.

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Here I am bring creative…

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…Here I also am being creative, just in a different way!

That will be our contribution so let’s make it a beautiful one.

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

A New Way to do the New Year!

I will wish you all a Happy New Year now! I also want to share some thoughts on an alternative way of living the New Year. Let’s have a kinder New Year. No more broken resolutions, no more guilt, no more feelings of failure. We don’t have to treat ourselves like that, we are worth so much more!

This post is a revisit of one I made last year as I feel it’s a message that still needs discussion and I want you all to have a beautiful start to the year. I want people to know  that they can break the resolution tradition. I broke out of it only a few years ago as I hadn’t realised how it was affecting me and certainly wasn’t setting me up for creative and happy year ahead.

The way we treat ourselves this time of year is often very unkind. We push ourselves to the limit in December- a time that is full of magic and joy and yet it often passes us by in the hectic haze. We berate ourselves for not buying all we can for our loved ones when our time together is more than enough.

And then comes the New Year. We see it as a time for renewal and hope and indeed it can be a wonderful time for rest and rebirth. This is not how we act it out. Rather, it becomes a punishment for over indulgence or a desperate attempt to balance out the excess of Christmas.

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Let’s be kinder to ourselves this winter

Here is some of what I wrote last year which I hope will help…

If we look to nature, we see that this time of year is generally not the time of new beginnings. In January, Squirrels are still squirrelling their food away and focusing on warmth, hedgehogs are hibernating and other animals are slowing down. Most flowers are still in waiting for their bloom to come in a few months time and the trees have yet to re-grow their leaves. All of this points to a time of nurturing ourselves restfully, yet we are told to speed up, this seems a little confusing doesn’t it?!

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Be like a squirrel!

Here are my 5 tips to renew yourself more gently…

  1. Certainly start eating more healthily and naturally if you feel you don’t already, but unless you have a few stone to lose for medical reasons, don’t bow to pressure of New Year marketing saying you must lose 10 pounds in a few days, this is not healthy and not necessary! If you need to, you’ll lose weight and keep it off with a few smaller changes.
  2. Gym memberships up the advertising this time of year and whilst there are better deals to be had now than at other times, ask yourself if you really need the gym and that power pumping exercise style? As we saw earlier, nature likes to slow down this time of year and be more restful…perhaps pilates, yoga or dance would more helpful as well as winter walks outside on frosty sunny days?
  3. I applaud all who want to learn new skills and better themselves, but we don’t have to master two languages, go on a cookery course, write a novel, learn flower arranging and knit a jumper all this month though! Choose the new activity that truly calls out to you. It may be the thing you thought you’d end up working as when you were a child…dance or gardening for example and then focus on that with all your heart instead of rushing between several things half-heartedly.
  4. Know that it’s ok to be quiet and restful. Christmas is viewed as a very social time which can be overwhelming for introverted or sensitive souls. Take this time of the year to reflect and restore the balance. Learn to like being in your own company, treat yourself well- make yourself your favourite dinner, make time to read a book you’ve wanted to for a while, and have lots of early nights.
  5. Remember that change can happen all the time. That’s the magic that we have within us, we have the power to make changes all the year round, not just in the mythologised January 1st or on a Monday! Saturdays at 3pm can work very well for making changes too if you have the right mindset!

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Finally, keep in mind that the New Year is only our New Year because some people in Rome decided it should be a long time ago. Ask if that feels right to your body and soul? Or whether you would prefer to tune in to another time of year that is truly about renewal and revitalising? I know I’ll be resting for a while longer before emerging restored and rebalanced ready for a beautifully active Spring and Summer!

To me, January is still a time for being more restful and nourishing and that’s how I intend to start my year. Being loving and kind to myself, not in guilt or punishment as I have in the past but finding balance and a different kind of motivation to start a new year of possibilities

Lots of love for the year ahead!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Surround Yourself With All People!

I listened to a presentation this week where we were told that we are the average of the people we spend the most time with. This echoes the ever popular (and slightly cringey!) “Your vibe attracts your tribe”.

I understand this mentality, I really do. It’s great to surround ourselves with inspiring people and boost each other.

However, there’s a danger that this mentality is going too far. Imagine if a nurse told her patients they can’t be around sick people, “bad vibes, soz babez!”

Imagine if every husband that cares for their chronically ill wife decided to tell her he couldn’t be around her as “you’re bringing me down, love!” and vice versa.

Every parent with a difficult teenager told them they had no time for them as they’re not in a positive enough “zone”.

I have personal experience with this having had depression myself and living with my boyfriend Tim who has dealt with deep depression for years, and we’ve both only begun to heal the last few years of our near ten year relationship. He could have easily left me, saying I was bringing him further down, but neither of us thought like that. We know we love each other and wanted to grow together and get better.

I do actually believe that we attract the people in our lives. Sometimes though, we attract them so we can help or they can help us. So we can learn. So we can grow ourselves and help others grow in return.

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With my amazing Tim!

Apply this attitude of only surrounding yourself with positive people to the way we think of money. Money is energy too so it’s a good analogy. Only associating with rich people and helping those who are rich means the rich get richer and this is how people get pushed further and further downwards.

We need to surround the people you think of as “low vibe” people with love and support even more so, not decide they are bringing us down and abandon them! Yes of course, protect your health and only each of us truly knows our individual situation so there is no blame being thrown here on those who do choose to separate from others. Do what you feel is right and the best for yours and the other persons’ good.

I know this blog is a bit of ramble sorry, it all came pouring out quickly! I’ll probably edit it soon to make more sense haha!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi

xx

Winter Well-being!

Winter can be a challenging time to keep our well-being up and our health balanced, here are the best ways I find to stay healthy and happy during the darker months of the year! 

  1. Stay hydrated. Even though it’s not as warm as Summer, we still need to keep our water levels up. I aim for 2-3 litres a day, but mainly drink this in herbal teas which have the added benefit of keeping you cosy too. You can find water in lots of great foods too, so plenty of soups and warming gravy dishes are great if you’re struggling to drink as much as you need.
  2. Get outside! Obviously we have less sunshine hours and overall daylight in winter so it’s even more important to make time to spend time outdoors to top up our vitamin D levels and boost our happiness. Make it a double well-being boost by taking a walk in the woods or on the beach- any time immersed in nature will make you feel better. 
  3. Following on from that, a walk is good exercise too and it’s vital to keep up exercising in Winter too. It’s definitely more difficult as we often want to stay wrapped up indoors rather than heading to a gym class or a run in the rain, but if we want to stay fit all year round we should aim for at least 30 minutes a day!  
  4. Keeping in touch with people. It’s easy in Winter to fall into a cycle of staying in and not seeing anyone. Darker evenings make us feel it’s later than it is and the cold can discourage us from venturing out. Turn your mind against this thought pattern though and aim to stay connected with others and to keep attending any events, groups, meet ups that you would in summer.
  5. Saying that though, any extra time spent indoors is a great opportunity for re-organising your living space. Having a good clear out will translate to a good shake up mentally as when our surroundings become cluttered this can be a reflection of mind clutter. So getting rid of what we no longer need can be so helpful for our mental health. It seems like a chore at first but once you get going it feels great and you can donate lots of things to charity shops too!

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Hope these tips help keep you feeling good over the winter months! Come back soon for updates on my Mind on Music Travels!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Get Turned Off: How I learnt to switch off the TV!

One of the great things about the Mind on Music travelling is that it has left me with a lot less time for idly watching random TV. My mind is much clearer and happier for it!

As a nation, we watch too much television. There’s no arguing with the statistics that tell us the average person watches five to eight hours per day in front of the TV. That’s almost a third of our lives! Before the 1930s though, television wasn’t even available to the public and during the Second World War, broadcasts were suspended. Afterwards, the schedule only contained three hours of broadcasting per day and obviously no catch up TV! Even during the 1950s when television started to become more widely used by the general public, it was upheld as special occasion. We can look to these past ways of living in order to enhance our present!

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Break the TV Cycle!!

Here are some simple ways from the past to break the TV cycle;

  1. Visit friends and family! This has the added bonus of helping others watch less TV too. The evenings are still light and even in Winter instead of spending your Sunday on the sofa, go for a walk with the family in Nature.  Decades ago, visiting others was a more regular occurrence as there was no Facebook to keep in touch with people!
  2. Cook. If you cook a meal with several ingredients, by the time you’ve made and eaten it, a few hours may have passed. The key is to enjoy the process of cooking for itself, not to rush through it and then hurry through the meal.This has the added bonus that you’ll know exactly what’s in your food, just as our grandparents did.
  3. Craft. Learn a new craft skill or re-engage with an old pastime you used to enjoy such as crochet, or playing an instrument. Hours used to be spent darning and mending old clothes but this is something we don’t have to do as much now. However this is a useful skill which has largely been lost and helped keep waste down so re-learning it will save you some pennies!
  4. Read.  There are also whole realms of imagination and information ready for you to dive into. You don’t need to read classics, pick up whatever you’re drawn to and get lost in another world.
  5. Rest Finally, know that it’s ok to sit in silence with your own thoughts! We feel we must be constantly entertained but this isn’t true. Some of our best ideas come to us when we’re resting quietly. Keep a notebook handy for these times so you can quickly jot ideas down. Years ago, people often daydreamed for hours, just wistfully sitting at a river bank, but in our ‘notification generation’ we feel a constant need to check our emails, social media, what’s on TV later…always doing instead of just being! Stop and remind yourself of this once in a while.

 

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Get Outside!!

Sometimes we get stuck in cycles, especially in the darkest months of the year but Summer hasn’t left us yet so we can get outside and switch the TV off, just as we used to do in years gone by!

 

Best Wishes,

Bexi