The Leather Day

This writer of Having “Me” Time has been having some “me” time after a crazy few weeks in a crazy year.  After having just lost my beautiful leather name card holder that I’ve had for over 10 years and being fascinated by Midori notebooks, I thought to myself, why not just make it myself?

The leather name card holder would burn a hole in my wallet if I wanted to replace it with the exact same one. Walking around malls and searching online, I have not yet found one to my liking.  I am picky when it comes to functionality and colour combinations.

The Midori notebooks I love, but hey, it’s made in Thailand!  I’m in Thailand.  It looks like a square piece of leather with a hole in it for the elastic. What could be so hard right?

My journey to leather crafting began.

I searched online, watched youtube, and ordered tools online.  Having the right tools is essential.  I rediscovered the “leather neighbourhood” in Bangkok and made a plan to go. (I’ll review that in another post) It had me excited the entire few weeks. In between meetings or during rests, I would find my mind pondering the many leather projects.  I felt like a kid waiting for candy.

I looked forward to the day I would get to go buy leather.  I was as excited as if I was a kid being told I’d get to go to the zoo.  I’d talk about leather to poor old Alex who so grumpily put up with my ranting. His only wish was for me to make him leather golf club covers.  Of course.

I can’t quite put a name to it, but there’s something about working on leather, using your hands and just sitting quietly designing that relaxes and recharges the soul.  For hours, I didn’t miss the iPad, the iPhone or the wifi.  I didn’t care what was going on in the social media world.  I just focused on on my leather.  I wanted so badly to see the finished product.  Seeing your design come to life.  And when it does, I’m the kid with the ice cream with a big smile at the zoo. Ahhh, the little happiness of pursuing a hobby.

Amazing how little breaks are good for the soul. 🙂 Now I’m ready for Monday. What about you?What’s your hobby?

As Free as the Wind Blows

I love dogs and if you’ve ever talked to me about dogs you’ll probably think I’m a little crazy. Now with James, a labrador, and Zoey, a Thai dog, I could spend hours talking about them. I have pictures and video clips of them on my phone and my eyes start to smile just thinking about them. Yes, dogs are really good for your heart and soul. For me anyways.

Watching James run around the garden and playing ball or frisbee with him, I finally understand why Labradors are so popular. Having previously had a miniature daschund, whom I loved dearly, I have to say that labradors are so different in character and temper. They are happy go lucky dogs that see the world as a wonderful playground.  Nothing is bad and everyone is your friend.

James’s favorite game in this world is “Fetch.”  He could play it all day all night and couldn’t be happier.  Everyday I try to fit in a little game of fetch, but in the case that I should forget, James will gently remind me by bringing his favorite bouncy rubber ball to my feet where it gently drops to the ground with a little squeak.  He doesn’t bark nor make a big deal about it.  He just puts it down, sits up straight and looks at me with his big doe eyes and ears a little back.  My heart melts and become his ball thrower.

If he’s not playing fetch, he’s running around the garden with Zoey.  Yes its good to have two dogs so they can keep themselves busy when you are off doing other things.   Together they’ll run round and round the garden, through hedges, round trees and underneath tables.  Don’t think about growing beautiful flowers or potted plants.  Everything in the path of powerful James running with his ears flapping and his paws pounding are taken down.  James and Zoey run as if it were the best game on Earth.

Watching them somehow reminds me of kids running around.  The happiness and joy that comes with running evokes freedom.  Running in tune with nature, wind in your hair and grass beneath your feet.  I wonder why is it that adults no longer run.  As we grow up, we forget the childish delight that comes with running the garden and getting dirt on our hands.

This summer, why not take a little breather, feel some grass beneath your feet and the wind in your hair.  It’ll make wonders.  Find that inner child and be as free as the wind blows.

Running once more

This past week I have just gotten back into my running schedule after a month or so off running. Moving house and a sore ankle were my excuses. They really shouldn’t be. Exercise is of course better done regularly. I was reminded this week after running why it is so good. The more stressed one is the more one should exercise. Its a great stress reliever.

And I am stressed. There just seems to be a million billion things waiting to get done. Europe is in a crisis and who knows what will happen. I wonder if it will be the end of the EU as we know it or not? My European me ( from being educated in a European school with a curriculum that boasted the European ideal of an integrated Europe) , makes me sceptical.
Europe has been working for six decades towards integration. It can’t and shouldn’t end just yet. But who is to say, all good things must come to an end.

And yes, domestically we are having political brawls. Boys in suits.

So I run. Run it all off. Run off all the stress, all that annoys you and all that makes you feel not so good.

It feels great. Although I felt like my legs were killing me, my stomach cramped, my heart pounding on my ribs, and my lazy me rebelling; I wanted to run.

The sweat, the beating heart makes everything feel so much better. Happy chemicals filled my grey cells and I felt like a stone weighing me down had been lifted.

Cheeks blushed I remembered: Yes I have to keep up my running routine. Exercise is good for the soul. It not only makes you feel good but it clears your brain. Ideas and thoughts, all come running out. Next week I will run again, and the week after next and after….

Are you exercising?

All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”

William Shakespeare


I think Shakespeare was really right to compare our world to being a stage and us merely players.  We are all born onto this earth as a child, we play our parts, grow up, and then we depart.  Sometimes it’s as if we are taking part in one giant movie.  Each life is a different movie.  Sometimes they interact, sometimes they each take their own path.   Upon each path, we encounter a series of characters, each one brings with it new experiences, new emotions.  Then paths diverge and evolve.  It’s a lifelong process that ends when we depart from this world and exit the stage.

I am suddenly reminded of the Truman Show.  A life we thought we had, was simply someone else’s show.

What happens when we exit the stage?  No one knows. It’s another story, another stage. Some believe in the afterlife, reincarnation.  Some believe there is a soul that remains and perhaps we go to heaven or to hell.  Some believe we are nothing more but dust and air once we perish.  It’s an answer no one alive can ever tell you.  To find out, we’d first have to exit this stage. Then, we wouldn’t be here discussing what happens.

What ever stage we are on. Whatever movie we are taking a part in, I think what matters most is what you learn from those experiences.  What you learn from your interactions with the other players and how your react.  That is life.  A series of experiences and interactions.  Fascinating.

What do you think? Please share.

As free as the wind blows

Today is my free Sunday and it is an especially special one for I have not an appointment in the world today.  There is no place I have to be, nothing I have to go out and get, no one I have to go meet, it’s a totally free free Sunday.  I have no plans, and I don’t want any. Not today anyways.  I think free days like this everyone should have every now and then.  It works wonders for the soul and mind.

Most days I wake up and already have a list of things I have to get done.  In fact, I know what I have to do tomorrow before I go to bed the night before so I can plan my wake up time and sleep time.  I think about things I have to get done for work, deadlines, things to follow up on and etc…  Then there are personal things you have to get done, like running, bills to be paid before a certain date or reservations to be made.  If I have to go somewhere, I have to work backwards and plan the departure time and get ready time so I can get to the appointment on time.  It’s tiring.  The brain must constantly keep track of these things.

My iPhone helps. I write things down, add alerts and put them in my calendar.  Still I have to check every morning for things you have to finish doing or appointments that have to be kept.  There is no free time to just decide that maybe I want to take a nap now and maybe I just want to sit and read a good book that’s gathering dust on my shelf.   Maybe I just don’t want to do anything and curl up on the couch with a good DVD.  Maybe I won’t do anything. Nothing. Nada.

The best part is that it is up to me.  The choice is up to me whether I want to do it now or maybe in another hour or so when I feel like it.   Maybe I might go out to starbucks if I feel like it.  Maybe I won’t.  This is the luxury of having a free day.  Being free and being able to just decide our own day is indeed refreshing.  If you are feeling tired, feeling abit overstretched as if you are trying to be a superwoman or a superman who can handle every task in this world, I say take a day off.   Allot a day when you don’t have any appointments, or things you have to do.   Take a day for yourself.  It wonders wonders for the soul and mind.  Happy Sunday!

Music for the Soul

When it rains, the soul gets soothed especially so if you are indoors listening to music.  It is even more soothing when you are indoors and playing an instrument.  It’s been awhile since I’ve played the piano or touched my flute, but something about the rain made me want to play the piano today and so I did.   My soul was soothed.

Upon playing I realized that it’s been a very very long time since I’ve really just sat down and had some serious personal music time.  I don’t know if its the same for you, but going to college somehow ended the musical phase of my life.  I didn’t pursue anything musical in college, and together with classes and coursework, practicing on the piano or playing the flute was pushed aside.  It simply lost priority even though in highschool I was in the band.  Oh well, I suppose that’s what happens.

Then you move, pack your musical instruments away and hardly see them again.  Then more than a decade after you start working you realize you miss that music, that part of life where you get to spend time stimulating the right side of your mind.  That little part of your brain which emphasizes creativity.  Creativity that we all need sometimes.  Afterall, with a little creativity one can solve many
problems.

Tonight I gave the right side of my brain a little exercise.  I felt like little sensations were running through my mind and it felt soothing, it gave a tingling sensation which is quite a wonderful feeling.  I imagine that’s a little of what Peter Pan must have felt like when Tinkerbell sprinkled flying powder over him.  Of course I might just be imagining all this, but it was fun nevertheless.

If you’ve played musical instruments in the past, are you still playing them?  Or is it gathering dust in a corner?  If so, take some time out and have a little personal music time.  You might rediscover how pleasurable it can be.  Remember, a balanced mind is a balanced soul.

Different Realities

 Reading about Obama’s young mother in the New York Times, I am reminded about a discussion Alex and I had the other day on how we live in a world of different realities.  What sparked the conversation was his conversation with a random stranger at a government office while waiting for some documents.  It’s not at all related to Obama or his Mom, but it is about how we all have different lives growing up.  One cannot just assume everyone’s childhood was just as pleasant as ours even though we’d like to believe it.  His reality is not my reality and vice versa.

What really hit us was how this stranger, this pleasant happy chit chatting man, was talking about his family.  How he had a hard life growing up and how education for him ended at fourth grade primary.   He talked about his daughter and how he was so proud of her to have finished 9th grade.  It was like a dream had come true for his children to accomplish such a high level of education.  A high school diploma would be out of this world.

Now when we hear things like this, it brings us down hard about how different his and our lives are.  I know not everyone is as fortunate to have the life I have, but it’s not the same as when you hear it said.   In my family and in my circle of aquaintances and friends, we somehow never even thought about the possibility of not finishing college at the graduate level, let alone highschool.   A masters was now the new minimum.  Bachelors was not enough.  It would be difficult to imagine finding a job without a masters degree in this day and age.   The new trend seems to be even going for a second masters degree.

It’s like we live in different worlds, yet here we are at the same government office waiting in line.  A momentary crisscrossing of paths before we diverge and go on with our lives.  An event that though lasting only a few minutes can make an impression  that will last for years.  It teaches us not to take things for granted. 

Amongst many other things, we take education for granted.  We expect our cousins, nephews, neices to at least achieve a masters, but living on the same earth, the same country are those who would be more than happy with a 9th grade education.  That is their reality.  Food on the table must be worked for each day, whereas I assume I have food in the fridge and if I’m hungry, I’ll just go buy something.  I eat more than I should while out there are mothers skipping meals so that their children can eat. 

 It’s a world of different realities, but lets dream one day it’d be less of a contrast. Look around you and be grateful for what you have.  Be happy with what you have, waste little, donate lots.  It’s food for the soul.