Someone recently apologised for calling me Karen and not Kate on an email. The auto-suggest inserted it without her noticing.
And it got me thinking. Like all the labels we take on, what's really in a name?
I didn't choose my name. My parents named me Kathryn after Loch Katrine in Scotland (photo above). And I never liked the "ryn" part so, when I was younger, my friends called me Ka (pronounced Kay) and then, at some point in my late teens, I grew into a Kate.
I like Kate. It's straight and to the point, like me. It's cool (how I'd like to be). It's strong (yes, I'm usually that - at least outwardly). The heroine of a movie is often a Kate.
And my parents rarely called me "Kathryn" directly, unless I'd been VERY bad. No, I'd be "Katie", "Gloops" or "Katie Gloops" or "K.G.". Gloops was from a comic strip in the Star newspaper from Sheffield (UK) of a cat with big dimples, like me!
Here's Gloops and me for comparison - you decide !
I miss being a Katie now my parents are gone. But Ron calls me Katie sometimes. Or Kato ... I often think I'll be a Katie if/when I publish that book ...
So I answer to many names these days and that's OK by me. Because they're not me. And I wasn't even born a Kathryn - I'm adopted and my birth mother called me Amanda. So that would have been a whole different ballgame - Mandy, Mandi, Mand, Manda ..?
When Ron and I married, we were told we could choose any name we liked. Completely change all our names if we wanted. I wish I'd had time to reflect and I might have picked something that fitted me better. Something just for me. By me. But in the moment I went for Kate, dropped my middle name and kept my surname. Simple, easy and no fuss.
So what's in a name? I guess it's different for us all.
What does your name say about you? Do you like your name? What would you change it to, if you could?
And, now my mind is wandering to why, when we talk ABOUT a person or an animal we care about, do we use their given name, but NEVER when we're talking TO them? Unless we're angry with them and then, oh yes, we do, always!
I'll explain what I mean by way of some examples:
My husband is "Ron" unless I'm talking to him and then it's "Ronner" (it's our joke about cricket commentators on BBC Radio 4 LW).
And when I'm talking about my cat Sid (see photo) I always call him "Sid", nothing else.
So much for keeping names short and simple! Is this just me? Do you do this too?
And maybe this doesn't just apply to living things.
Some people are very close to their cars .....
Main Photo: https://pixabay.com/fr/users/PicturesofScotland-8052601
My mum used to collect four-leafed clovers. Whenever she found one, she'd press it in a book between sheets of tissue paper. She suffered with chronic illness and depression so, as a kid, I'd spend hours looking in the grass around our home, just so I could take one to her and bring a smile to her face for a moment. And I remember wondering why those leaves never seemed to work their lucky magic for her.
Some of my clients use the "luck" word. Whenever something "good" happens they say they were "lucky" and it can take some deep mindset change to realise they actually deserve the rewards for all the hard work they've put into their lives. But, of course, if something "bad" happens, then it's always their fault. Luck has done a great PR job on itself, taking all the glory and none of the blame!
I don't believe in luck. There! I said it again and nothing "bad" happened. Nor will it. Because I know I make my own luck.
Luck, like confidence, is not something I have, it's something I do.
The really meaningful stuff in my life only comes from putting in the effort and making things happen. If stuff comes too easily, it tends to leave easily too. If I get a windfall of unexpected money, then there's always an unforeseen bill to take that money away again soon after. I have to work for the stuff that stays around. The worthwhile things.
I do believe when I'm making an effort and I'm on the right road for me, then I become "lucky." Things just seem to go my way. Like all the traffic lights turning green as I approach. I'm in this amazing "flow" state where life is beside me, cheering me, helping me.
I use the feeling of everything going well as a compass ... a litmus test for whether I'm doing the "right" thing in my life.
Because whenever I stray from that road, making well-meaning effort in the wrong direction, I become "unlucky" and misfortune seems to follow me around. It's painful. And it lasts.
Of course, even when I'm on the right road, I'll go through hard times. But there's always something important I really needed to learn, when I look back. And those hard times are life's way of testing me - it's like I have to pass regular tests to stay on that road. To get what I want.
So when those testing times come, I trust they'll not last long. If they do, I listen to my intuitive inner self, because I've made a wrong turn somewhere. And I make a change to get back on track.
When I was sorting out mum's things after she died, I found that book stuffed full of beautifully preserved, four-leafed clovers. I didn't keep them - partly because I felt saddened by them and mainly because I didn't need them.
My compass is set and I'm taking a baby step forward each day ...
(Image by meineresterampe-26089, Pixabay)
I was just listening to "A Walk in the park" by The Nick Straker band on the radio.
Yeah, I know it's not the height of musical sophistication but, WOW! In a microsecond I was transported right back to the bedroom that I grew up in. I was 14, lying on my bed and taping my favourite songs on a cassette recorder from the top 40 on Radio One, as I did every Sunday night.
Just push "play" and "record". And once I had it recorded, I would write out the words so I could sing along :)
It was wonderful - I surprised myself, because I still knew the words. My mind just presented them to me, once sentence at a time, as I sang along. I didn't need to think or force it. I just sang and the words were there.
It always amazes me how our subconscious mind stores every tiny little detail of our lives. Even long before we thought our memory began. And unlocking these hidden memories are often the key to releasing our stress. To listen, learn and let them go.
A key to my stress release was to let go of some deep emotions surrounding my birth. Who knew that was in there? Consciously my first memory is at about 5 years old. Unconsciously I go way back.
Our whole life is all filed away deep in our mind. Just in case it becomes useful again.
And in there today, I discovered the words to an old favourite.
Singing along was such a simple pleasure. It's one of my most joyful ways to release stress. Singing (like humming or even gargling) activates the vagus nerve in the neck and lets our "rest and digest" hormones take over for a while.
I wonder how many other songs I've forgotten and would love to hear again? If only I knew what they were ...
I suppose I just need to keep listening, put myself out there and they will come :)
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."
Sometimes I like to think that, one day, I'm going to change the world.
Make a great contribution somehow.
But stress loves ambition. So maybe the only thing I need to do is grow a little each day.
To become more of who I need to be, in order to serve who I need to serve.
To change the world of each client, one by one ..
And that will be enough ..
A story from my stressful years:
I started these two lists;
"Things I can control" and "Things I can't control"
And as I listed all the things I could control, such as; how I spend my time, how I spend my money, my behaviour, my physical actions, who I spend my time with, where I spend my time, the things I surround myself with, my words, my mind (sometimes), my diet and exercise, etc.,
I realised that these things are all just "WHAT I DO".
And the list of things I couldn't control like; the weather, what all other people and animals do, deterioration of possessions, disease, economicsm politics etc.
They all seem to boil down to: "EVERYTHING ELSE" that isn't "WHAT I DO".
And then I realised that I spent pretty much all of my time trying to make my life "now" and "in the future" as perfect as possible, but that meant trying to control EVERYTHING. And that's just stupid. Because I can't control EVERYTHING.
I can only hope to control "WHAT I DO"!
So it sounds simple and it's such a simple idea that I wonder why I'd never thought of it before. Maybe everyone else in the world knew this already. It only took me 40 odd years to get to the stage to ask the question and only a couple minutes of scribbling to come up with the answer.
But there you go.
So it was easy from then on. I only needed to focus on controlling "what I do" and let everything else do whatever it wanted. I couldn't do anything about those other things, so there was no point giving them any real concern. I maybe could try to influence things that I felt strongly about, but that's all I hoped to do.
It gave me loads more time to give that focus where it was going to be useful. And there was a new peace that's came with this new knowledge. A burden that lifted.
I felt like I'd been given a fresh start.
And so back to now, I'm hoping for some sunshine this week-end, but I'm not making my enjoyment of the days contingent on it........we'll go for a cycle anyway and if we get wet, we'll get wet.
And have fun anyway.
Just a thought.....
Following on from my previous post about the wonderful song of the nightingales, I was sitting outside last night and suddenly became acutely aware of the amazing volume of sound coming from the wildlife; the crickets, frogs and birds. I was in awe at how incredibly loud it all was.
Isn't it funny that we love and accept the sounds of nature outside, day and night, loud as you like, but, if our next-door neighbour was making just a small fraction of that noise, our first response would be indignancy (is that a word?), if not anger at their thoughtlessness?
It's all a question of perspective, maybe.
And the fact that the natural world just sounds sweeter to our ears for some reason ......
All I know is I find it soothing, no matter the volume.
Play on, crickets!
I've been rather remiss in posting recently, because I've been hurriedly watching video lectures on one of the MOOC Coursera courses I signed up for.
It's called "Know Thyself" and I needed to watch all the lectures before the course went off air. Ron's been very patiently watching TV with headphones on, so I could concentrate on being a swot every night for the past couple of weeks.
This was a course given by Professor Mitch Green of the University of Virginia, I absolutely loved it. He was so interesting, calm, kind, passionate and unassuming and, well, humble.
It's helped me greatly with my study of what makes us tick and to answer a little more of the questions "who is my "self"?" and "what/how do I want my "self" to be?"
Much more fun than TV for me, but then "Love of Learning" is one of my top 5 strengths and also a top value.......
I find it a great way to finish my day - stimulating my brain cells with positive energy and learning more about life and myself.......
It brings to mind a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:
"Learn as if you were to live forever."
Wanting to be happy is pretty universal. But, maybe, what we really need to do is to work at just being content.......
To me, happiness needs some sort of outside stimulus to exist - being with other people, watching TV or the cats' antics and even reading a book will make me smile or laugh out loud sometimes. I need such stimuli to be truly, what I'd call, "happy". And such happiness doesn't last very long once the stimulus is gone, if I'm not content "inside".
Happiness is like sadness, good times are like bad times. None of these will last very long. Everything has to change. All the time. Even depression is cyclical and burns itself out eventually. You can't stay happy or sad forever. It's just not possible,
Contentment, on the other hand, comes from within. And it lasts. I don't need anything to be content. I can be content with whatever I have right now - and from contentment comes something really peaceful and much deeper and calming than the transient thing we call "happiness"
From that contented place it's also possible to accept yourself for exactly who you are. Warts 'n' all. And you can do the same for others. It can be incredibly freeing. But you have to work at it, usually against the strong tide of your ego and others' expectations.
Kids seem to achieve this with ease. They are just as happy playing with a cardboard box, than with the expensive contents. They don't discriminate against others until they're taught to do so. As long as they're healthy and have food and shelter, they laugh and they cry and they get angry and they forgive easily. And none of this lasts long, because kids live in the moment and are generally content with what's happening right now.
We were all that child, once. But somewhere we lost our way and starting wanting more. More of what, though? And why?
Here's a wonderful article by Mark Sisson about 16 things we used to do as kids that we should still be doing as adults. Things we might've forgotten we loved doing. Playful things to help us stay in the moment, lose our inhibitions and just be content with being here. The comments afterwards are a great read too.
And here's a great post by Leo Babauta that I found on the subject of how to be more content with life as it is right now.
I met someone recently who'd been on a week's retreat at a Buddhist village in the Dordogne, here in France. It was the first time she'd done anything like it and she loved it. Apart from learning to meditate, the one thing she was taking away from the experience was the first thing she'd been taught to do when she woke up every morning - smile.
To put a really big cheesy grin on her face, lying there in bed for a few minutes as her brain got into gear. She said it made a huge difference to how well her whole day went.
I reckon it's a pretty good place to start.....
I was rather impressed the other day when I went to an an apartment of a young lady who, although she has little money, had decorated it beautifully.
It was like a show home.
Because she does not have many things yet, the space looked wonderfully neat and free.
Now this is in stark contrast to our house where years and years of hoarding and keeping stuff "just in case" has led to us using a 3 bedroom house to serve just us two people. One bedroom for us, one for an office and one for a guest room.
The thing is, the guest room is used mainly for clothes storage. And I tend to do paperwork in the lounge where it's warmer and more social, so the "office" is just a dump for paperwork and other stuff we never use.
We had a good tidy up the other day, because we had a business meeting at our house. We removed quite a few pieces of furniture from the lounge so we could get the table away from the wall and the room looked great!
All this stuff had just sneaked in, under the radar, until we barely had room to live and breathe anymore.
This all reminds me of a TED talk I saw some time ago by Graham Hill about the box we all have somewhere at home. We've no idea what's in it. So it could be thrown away and we'd never miss it. But still we keep it!
He tells of how he designed his apartment to do everything he needed it to be in a minimal space and how he got rid of the stuff he'd accumulated. Less space, less stuff, less cost. Very entertaining and less than 6 minutes long........ Watch it here.
And I remember reading about Nancy Gowler who had no belongings apart from what she could carry on her back. Now she has a home and reflects on the stuff she's accumulating and how it makes her feel. She suggests that we tend to collect more stuff to somehow feel more secure, but that it is so much more freeing to have less.
I have a friend whose sister puts out just one ornament. Just one in the whole flat. Then, periodically, she puts it away and brings out another. That way she always notices and appreciates the one thing she has out in view. That's a little too minimalist for me, but I can appreciate the sentiment. The calm feeling that it must bring.
And then there's another friend whose daughter's house caught fire and they lost all their possessions. So horrendous at the time, but now they realise they prefer having so much less and they're keeping it simple.
In the past year I have sorted out and sold or dumped a lot of stuff I was holding on to. Like things people'd bought for me but I didn't really like (which I kept out of some sense of duty or something). Or stuff I'd bought myself and never used.
That was phase one and most of it's gone now. But there's still too much stuff here for me to properly relax. For that sense of calm I felt when I went into that young lady's flat the other day.
I'm not aiming for a stark, modern, minimalist look - I want comfort and natural materials like wood, stone and lots of plants. I want a place of beauty and serenity. A sanctuary. And I know, for me, less will most definitely be more.
So, a phase 2 sort is in order. This time it's going to be a "what do I have to keep, what do I really need?" sort. Quite ruthless. And yes, there may be some regrets later. But for the peace of mind it will give me all day, every day, it will be worth it.
Ron and I went for a walk yesterday and got caught in the rain. Drenched right through and in the middle of Winter! We ran to a farm and took shelter under a lean-to with a corrugated iron roof. It was nothing much, but it kept off the rain and the wind. And it was OK!
As we were waiting for the shower to ease off we talked about how this was really all we needed - shelter, some food and warm clothing. Even in the middle of winter we imagined we could have lived there. Very idealistic, of course, but you get the point. Why do we think we need all this stuff to survive nowadays?
One day, when we get out of rented and buy a place of our own, we will realise our dream of a beautiful, serene home filled with only the things we really need and have chosen ourselves, stored in optimised spaces.
That's the long term plan and I can't wait to get started.
In the meantime I've got a lot of sorting to do.....
Sometimes, for me, the best part of a film can be watching the credits at the end.
Some of those jobs just have to be made up, don't they?
Take "standby painter" for instance. What IS that? I have an image in my head of a guy in white overalls, with a paint brush in one hand and tin of paint in the other, standing there looking really eager, just waiting for someone to shout "Painter, Action!".
It must be pretty good to get a shout out for the job you've done, no matter how minor your role. Absolutely everybody seems to get a mention at the end of a film nowadays.
Imagine they did that for every product that we used.
What if my cup of coffee had a listing of everyone who contributed in bringing it to me?
Like - the designers of the cup, printers, material suppliers, manufacturers, the guy who drove the lorry to deliver the cups to the cafe, the coffee & sugar growers and manufacturers, coffee tasters, farmers and cows, right through to the person who made the coffee in the café, the makers of the car they drove to work in, the coffee equipment manufacturers, the bankers, accountants and insurance companies who support the business, the music that was playing in the café. And let's not forget the make up & clothing supplier and hairdresser of the server.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
How big would a cup of coffee have to be to print everyone's name and job title on there?
It's pretty incredible how many people go into making stuff we take for granted each day. Someone, somewhere has worked their butt off making sure the print on the coffee cup is exactly the right pantone reference colour. Probably had to work late to make sure they were on site for the print run start-up, maybe missing their kid's birthday party. Maybe they had a splitting headache, but stayed on to get the job done. Maybe they had to go and explain their decision to stop the line, to get the colour right, to the production manager who then complained to their boss. All in the name of the print on a coffee cup that no one much notices.
They're all out there. The likes of us, not in the film industry, doing this stuff every day and yet the customer doesn't know their name. Never will.
Once, for a laugh, I tried writing a credit list as if there'd been a film made of my life - it was pretty long and I never got close to finishing it.
There are just so many unsung heroes I could (and should) thank for helping me get to here.
But still, on that long, long list there was no standby painter. Not needed one so far, but then I'm young yet........
I had to do it.
I've just looked up Standby Painter and it IS someone just waiting around, on a film set, to do emergency painting. Amazing! Here's a job description - how cool a job is that?
"... outstanding in the field of self-help ..."
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