Monday 30th January - Solo at La La Land

How is the weather with you today?

Every single morning when I wake up I look out of the window to see what the weather is like. I think most of us do that don't we? We notice the weather and adjust accordingly - flip flops or wellies, t-shirt or jacket. In my ideal world I'd wake up to sunny skies every morning. But then maybe after a while I'd stop appreciating the sunshine. Maybe I'd just expect it and take it for granted.

There's nothing we can do about changing the weather and thank goodness for that - it's one of the few things that mankind just cannot control! Sometimes the weather is good, sometimes not so good. We just have to accept how it is and work around it.

At the start of the yoga classes I teach I often invite people to ask themselves a question as they settle down onto their mat: "How is the weather with me today?" It's the beginning of looking within. Of drawing the awareness inwards, away from all the distractions of the busy day. We start to notice how we feel physically - where the tight spots are that could do with a good stretch, where feels spacious and open already, where needs a little extra TLC. We start to notice how we feel mentally and emotionally - is there are particular thought or feeling going round and round in the mind? And we just notice whatever it is without any judgement or involvement. Just recognise it for whatever it is. It will pass. Just like the sunshine follows the rain.

This is a useful technique to learn. It allows you to acknowledge each thing separately and not let it affect the whole of you. For example, say you feel that you are in a bad mood and you are having a bad day - on quiet reflection you might notice that, in fact, you are feeling irritated by a particular incident with a colleague at work. You acknowledge it for what it is - an incident at work which does not need to affect everything else in the rest of your day.  So instead of saying 'I've had a bad day', can you change the dialogue so you recognise that it wasn't the whole day that was bad, just that incident?  And if you have indeed had a bad day, full of challenges and difficulties, it can help to remind yourself that it's just that particular day, not life itself. There's a new day tomorrow offering a fresh perspective and new opportunities.

There is a lovely poem by the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi which reminds us to look at the weather within and recognise the rainbow of thoughts and emotions that make up this life we are living...

The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

52@50 no. 21 - Solo to See La La Land

Nearly 50 years old and never been to the cinema on my own! I really wanted to see La La Land but most of my friends had already seen it so I decided to go alone. It was a lovely thing to do on a Saturday afternoon and I don't know why I haven't done it before. There's still a cultural reluctance to go out alone, especially to eat in a restaurant or to drink in a bar. I guess we worry, as we often do, about what people think of us. We don't want anyone to think that we don't have any friends to go out with. However, most people are thinking about themselves and their situations rather than us. And why does it matter if they did briefly think this about us anyway? In the cinema you don't really need company anyway and, sitting quietly in the dark for over 2 hours, completely absorbed in the film, it didn't matter at all that there was an empty seat beside me.

I really loved the film and I loved that it was set in L.A. having been there in the summer. I recognised lots of the settings including the view in my picture below of the City of Stars.  Sloping off on my own to the cinema on a Saturday afternoon is definitely an experience I will be repeating again soon.

City of Stars

This Week's Recipe...Fennel and Spinach Soup

Another green soup for you this week. They appeal to me because they look so bright and fresh and it makes me feel good to know I've had lots of nutritious vegetables.  I only discovered that I like fennel fairly recently and now I'm trying to find more recipes that use it. Let me know if you have any good ones. 

You will need:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 leek, sliced
1 fennel bulb, chopped into chunks (remove the hard core right in the centre)
1 medium sized potato
Small bag of spinach (the one I used was 125g)
500ml vegetable stock (use Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon for best flavour)
Salt and pepper to season

And here's how to make it:
Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the chopped onion, leek and garlic and fry very gently until soft.
Add the fennel and the potato and fry gently for another 5 minutes.
Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato and the fennel are soft.
Add the spinach and cook for just 1 minute until wilted.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough before putting in the blender and blending until smooth.
Serve with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and fresh chopped chives.

This Week's Advice from a... Tree

This Week's Musical Offering... Uno by Deuter

This relaxing track if perfect to add to your yoga playlist to accompany Savasana. Or 6 minutes quiet meditation - sit comfortably in your chair, close your eyes, rest your hands on your thighs, relax your face and shoulders, and focus on your breath...breathing in.... and breathing out.... That's it. You'll feel calmer and more relaxed.  Enjoy.

This Week's Video... Apparently, Ryan Gosling learned to play the piano in just 3 months for his role in La La Land.  That really is him playing! There are lots of videos on You Tube of street piano performances, where anyone passing can just sit down and play. I'd love to be able to do that....so cool... Here are a couple of ones I particularly liked...

And finally, one of the trailers from La La Land to bring it all back if you have seen it, and to whet your appetite if you haven't....

Have a great week... and thanks for reading.