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Reflections…Week Thirteen

IMG_0167Positivity section bellow the intro.

This week has seen a bit of a flurry on the blogging side; even as I write this it somehow still feels surreal.

I have just seen my blog on another website, not on the WordPress site I had the invite from but a different website. I am not disappointed my work ended up there, more surprised it had over 30 likes in two days, so for me it is great exposure, it’s one of those sites Facebook sends me to on clickbait.

If you had asked me at the very tentative beginning of my blogging if I thought I would be asked to guest write on another site, I would have thought you strange at best. I honestly thought it would end up like all journalling to that point… Short lived. Especially as there was no enthusiastic charge unto the breach.

Now my ego has had a massage, a shoulder rub of sorts, the kind that says – “it’s worth it.”

I still don’t know in which direction writing is going to take me, but I do know I can connect, even a few at a time, through it. And if that message is one of positivity, a positivity that can have a change effect, even by accident, is it not then worth pursuing?

Here is such an attempt.

Try this out when you walk, it will surprise you how  effective it is, well it surprised me.

From now on, no matter how sh***y you feel, no matter what the weather,  no matter how tired you are or how alone you want to be, headphones on or off, big dog, little dog, Black dog. I know the feelings of wanting to be alone and the effort it will take to do this, I started at two, I also know that the excuses will come easily, if you let them.

Pick a time or place to do this that has the least negative emotional impact on you, doubly hard if just getting outside the door is a monumental task, such as a dog walk route you regularly take or the little diversion on your walk home from work, your weekly walk around the park even. You may have noticed I walk, Spot, my ever faithful Jack Russel, has kept me going outside, out of the door, for most days; but I need the open space to do this technique. Adapt it to suit your way.

For those of us that wear a mask, this will sound all too familiar and will almost be ‘second’ nature, but will have a different outcome than the usual dance.

Practice your smile because a good looking smile is key, even if it FAKE!

As I stated earlier I started with two for the first week, after this I challenged myself to Three. I am now on seven, yes I know it’s anal to keep count at this point but it’s what I do.

Smile to the chosen number of people each day, on a dog walk this should be relatively easy. Look them around the eyes and Smile, the best smile you can do, and say a greeting, whichever you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to stop and talk, heck you don’t even have to slow down. They don’t need to hear you, so headphones are not a barrier and they don’t have to make eye contact back, so no staring!

You will get some odd looks to start, this takes time to take effect, but eventually you will get a repeat pattern of people who see you smile. If you live in an over crowded area, pick out stall people, you don’t even have to shop, just make it easier on yourself to do this.

Here’s the science:-

When you smile within a certain group of people, other dog walkers for instance, you will get noticed because of it, especially when a pattern  starts to take place. The greeting is an added bonus. As people start to recognise you as the person who gives them a smile, they don’t know if it is real or not but its natural to believe it is, they will start to smile back. This way on your journey you have strangers that smile when they see you, take it on face value it is genuine, it will have a tendency for both of you to genuinely smile in time anyway, so why not start with that belief.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Your smile has a great probability of having the person smiled at, smiling to at least the next person they walk past. So if you have chosen three as the number to smile at, and each of them has the chance to smile at a minimum of one other, on your chosen route, that means six have been smiled at because of you!  If they smile at one it’s nine. You may even cheer someone up who needs a ‘friendly face’, even a strangers on a street.

Smiling is infectious apparently and we subconsciously like places that are ‘friendly’. The chain effect of people smiling at one another makes for that  friendly place, this in turn draws the same people back and they in turn catch the smiling bug. Without conscious thought those smiles turn to genuine ones.

Try something that seems to have been forgotten, something free, something that can improve your mental health as a by-product.

SMILE 🙂

Be radical!

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

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Hartshill Park (Mare’s Field)

As a child, teenager, and even as a young adult, this park had many an hour spent within its boundaries, less so as I have gotten older.

In my memory banks my Nan told me the name – ‘Mare’s field’ – came about due to a stables and horse field being on the boundary, and therefore that is where the children were found, especially when foals were born. Whatever the reason it came to be known by this name, the official name – Hartshill park – seems to be the name replacing it, even locally.

When I was a child, the bottom pond was the biggest attraction, the upper pond was always too densely covered with duck weed , rendering it useless for pond dipping, it grew so thick that one might think it a grassy area and walk straight into it at dusk. Thankfully it has a fence surrounding it now.

The lower pond now has a little wooden ‘bridge’ over the overflow, which makes getting to the area that was best for dipping easier. Frogs, Newts, Sticklebacks,Water boatmen, Pond skaters, Dragonflies , Damselflies as well as Butterflies and grasshoppers were the catch to be had, there may even have been minnows and toads as well.

To get to the pond back then was a dirty trek, even on a good day. The tracks, as I remember, were made with red ash, dusty in the summer and messy in the wet. I am glad to say most of the track is now tarmac or stones only a couple of places remain in the muddy state as I remember. There has been much work done on this park since my childhood and all for the better.

The park itself is situated atop of and on the side of, what is affectionally called, Stoke bank. This makes for an undulating pathway going around the park, with plenty of steps that could be incorporated into a walk to get the heart rate up even higher. There are several benches around the park to take a break and watch the world go by, to let the heart rate come back down again.

A couple of carparks are available, and refreshments can be had from the local shops/petrol station. There are no toilets however. The park is not wheelchair friendly, even though the path is, unless you want a coronary trying to push someone around it.

If you’re in the area and fancy a park that will get the heart pumping in a short amount of distance, give Hartshill Park a try.

It makes a nice change from all the flat ones.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/stoke-on-trent

Lyme Valley Park

This park has become part of regular walk for me and Spot now, whether it be the main destination or just an inclusion into a larger walk.

The walk around the park is tarmac, thus making it an all weather walkway. Add to this the fact that it is relatively sheltered from the wind, or at least that is my reflection of our walks, it makes it a great destination for winter.

There is a skateboard park and a, what in my  youth  was called, a BMX track, as well as a play park. Scattered along one section of the walk are pieces of exercise equipment, this was part of the parks regeneration project of 2009 I believe, in an attempt by the council to get more people exercising.

How they work is simple, you supply the power and through levers you supply the weight for the strength equipment, pivot points and bearings are the working components of the cardio. I will try them later in the year, I don’t particularly fancy starting when my butt can freeze on them.

Half of the walk is along the Lyme Brook, a tributary stream of the river Trent, a lot of work has been done to encourage the return in numbers of the Brown Trout, including the creation of areas where the trout can lay eggs. I have yet to spot any fish apart from the ones I have witnessed the resident Kingfisher catch. No photo has of yet been taken of said Kingfisher, as he appears to be very camera shy, each time I take the camera with me he is nowhere to be seen, but is willing to join me on a section of walk when it is absent. I never get tired of looking for the neon blue flash of colour as he darts from branch to branch looking for his next meal.

The rough figure of eight loop was is about 1.5 miles (2.6km) and if the A34 carpark is used there is a hill section to start your heart pumping straight over the little bridge. I believe it leads to Buckmaster ave.

Even though the park is along a busy stretch of road the traffic noise is not that great, usually the bird sounds will pleasantly sing over it. The carpark opposite the Hospital, A34, is usually quite busy but the one off Brook Lane is quieter.

Overall a pleasant little park that has paths relatively flat for the majority of the park, thus is suitable for wheelchairs.

A great little escape from the Hospital for lunch if you are able.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/parks