this is lemonade

A mindful, grateful, creative life: Life constantly hurls lemons at us. I’m on a mission to make lemonade as best I can, by God’s grace.


Extract of peace

What a wonderful experience. Working at the computer doing something tedious and listening to Jamie Crick on ClassicFM. Movement 9, Agnus Dei of Eternal Light: A Requiem, by Howard Goodall starts playing. As the beautiful peaceful music floats around me, rain starts falling from the heavens. Such a balm to the soul! Aaah tedium, you cannot steal my peace 🙂

Quoted from my Facebook page just now… just want to share it everywhere – have a blessed week!



Distraction and procrastination

Anyone else find that summer is a difficult season during which to concentrate? There is so much life happening around, that I often forget what I was in the middle of. (Not that I am complaining – don’t get me wrong. After half a year of languishing in winter, I would not dare complain! )

Yesterday evening, I was trying to concentrate and get some tasks sorted:

I must say it was more than difficult. The sun was shining, the sky was beautiful and blue. I just wanted to be outside. Besides, there was a cat prowling about the garden as intrigued as I was, by a bird that was making a racket. It was a blackbird that I caught sight of for a while as it perched on a low roof, but could now no longer see. It was relentlessly “becoming more excited” (scroll to the end of the linked page and you’ll see what I mean).

Such a drama unfolded before me, it was hilarious. The cat was prowling about the garden with great poise as though it was on an undercover mission. Suddenly, a thud against the back fence startled me from my thoughts. There had been a failed attempt to grab the offending creature – which incidentally did not stop calling. The cat swiftly flattened itself against the ground darting its head from side to side as though pretending that it never lost its dignity. It settled and flexed as though unsure as to whether or not pouncing again was a good idea.  Eventually, having held several different stances and come to no clear decision, it opted for the classic decoy tactic, darted at speed across the garden and leapt over the fence into next door’s.

Oh and it re-emerged not long after, prowling about again, lifting its paws stealthily with each stride in the parched grass. Hunter-like. As the bird continued to call unperturbed.

Until some children burst out of a neighbouring house into the garden screaming, pursued by a grinning grandfather wielding a water pistol.

I ask you, how is one possibly to get any work done in such an environment? And how can such a small creature as a blackbird, produce such a resonant sound?

Here’s something calming in case you need it. A great familiar soundtrack for summer… happy weekend! 


Monday blues and the British weather…

It is truly autumn here in London, although some would call it winter. Even though the sun really worked hard all day Friday and the skies were a beautiful gorgeous blue, it was cold.

Monday Blues

There was real drama in the colours and the clouds were truly amazing. But it was cold. In fact, it was chilly indoors. Not just out.

Monday Blues

I was thinking about my blog and some line about the weather was about to enter my head. I was wondering how often this happens to people who are not British. On our beautiful isles, the weather plays such an important role that we watch it with huge interest. We devote very artfully crafted pieces of journalism to describing the minute changes in temperature, movements of air pressure, currents of warm or cold air travelling over our little island from neighbouring land masses. Weather forecasters are household names. No one has forgotten the legendary Michael Fish have they?

From one day to the next, the weather can change drastically, affecting everyone’s mood and influencing simple decisions. My colleagues will watch the clouds as lunchtime approaches and decide whether or not to dive out early to buy food before a downpour is unleashed. While I, on the other hand, prefer to bring my lunch so I do not have to worry. The quality of the light coming through the windows changes dramatically with the weather. A peek of sunshine and the whole place feels brighter, lighter, happier… grey clouds make you feel more tired, more gloomy, lethargic. Rain makes you wish you never got out of bed in the morning at all.

Otis redding – sittin on the dock of the bay (link via Soundcloud) 

Well. It’s Monday again. After the wettest summer for a century or so apparently, in spite of the beautiful Olympic and Paralympic sunshine (lest we forget) it’s now crisp and cold. Some days we have had the beautiful sunny skies that we enjoyed this weekend, but mostly it’s been wet and miserable. I’m officially in denial and playing a different soundtrack to nature. Also, work’s been a bit weird lately. “Looks like nothing’s gonna change…” so I’m thinking of making some changes myself  – instead of stressing, I’m chillin’ today…

Does the weather have as great an influence on your part of the world? Does it affect your mood as much as it can mine I wonder?


Untitled #5 (and long-awaited answers)


I haven’t done a photo for my Untitled series for a while. Then the other day I came home and pulled the above out of my bag…it looked so silly I had to take a picture and see if you could tell what it was…

And for those of you who haven’t lost interest and still wanted to know what the other ones were…(click on the images to take you to the original post).

Untitled #1

Untitled #1

Curved old radiator – well done VagueMemories!

Untitled #2

Untitled #2

An out of focus photo of a pile of booklets on my desk.
Although I liked Matt‘s suggestion that it was taffy!

Untitled #3

Untitled #3

The bottom of my tea cup, having lazily left it in my office overnight. I’d run out of milk that day, and had mixed up a nice paste with powdered milk. I came back to find the residue congealed and dried into something reminiscent of a beautiful oil painting at the bottom of my cup in the morning!
So there you go delightfullypeculiar, you were right!

Untitled #4

Untitled #4

The light pull switch thingy above my bed. Way back then, I think someone designed the room’s electrics with a lazy person in mind…
PhotoAddia you were very close! 🙂


All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost…

Some of the most effective members of staff in the organisation where I work quit within the past month. They had been recruited most recently, but before they had even left, we were mentally preparing ourselves for a quieter office, less banter, lower morale – all hands have always been on deck, but now there would be fewer capable and dedicated hands to carry the ever-increasing load. Adjusting to the resulting changes since got me thinking, not just of the strength of their impact on the organisation, but of my own direction. 

I began to reflect upon my own life goals, wondering whether I still brought value to the workplace, and whether I was having as much an impact on those around me as I would like. If I left, would I be missed and would my colleagues speak well of me even in my absence as we were doing of those who had just moved on?

In light of my recent thoughts, Diana Schwenk’s post a couple of weeks ago, Who are you? was particularly apt. Diana posed a question that her boss had asked her and she in turn asked her direct reports:

What do you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room?

I had been wondering what other people would say, but had not asked myself what I hoped that they would say. And so below are a few things I’d like my colleagues to say about me:

  • That I care and always make time to truly listen to what matters to them
  • That I help them to develop beyond what they know they are capable of
  • That I am reliable, trustworthy, proactive, passionate, creative and have a wicked sense of humour 🙂

One for sorrow, two for joy…a favourite sight. I like magpies a lot! That’s something my colleagues won’t say about me, because the only birds near work are pigeons…

Diana boldly displays her personal vision and mission statement on her blog. I guess I had an indirect mission statement on my About page all along, although I think as I grow through different stages in life, my focus shifts. As I have wandered about on this blogging journey, I’m grateful that I’ve found the space to explore ideas and be more creative than I have been in a while. It’s helped me to treasure my life a little more and challenged me to be more mindful of the effects of what I do or say. And reading or seeing what is going on in your mind as we each explore our worlds, makes this journey just that bit more interesting.

Do you tend to think of yourself in the context of what you do rather than who you are? How would you answer the above question?

[The title of this post is a quote from j.r. Tolkien]


You have all the time there is…

You have all the time there isTime. I don’t know anyone who does not struggle to find enough time. Time to work. Time to play. Time to sleep. Time to read. Time to eat. Time to dream. Time to finish something, anything, everything. Time to blog. I do not personally know anyone vaguely like any of those super-people out there, who have ever confidently listed their time-management tactics on their blogs for the benefit of us lesser mortals. All the people I know, wish they had more time…

Last month, I attended a training session. It was not specifically related to the concept of time. It was somewhat related to management though. As we neared the afternoon coffee break, one of the participants expressed her frustration at the overwhelming number of tasks she was expected to perform along with the actual job she was contracted to do. The rest of us nodded empathetically as one. Eyes met in full sympathy across the room. Heartfelt murmurs of commiseration and support were imparted. She was speaking of the experience of everyone present. In this atmosphere of deep mutual understanding. the trainer spoke the following words. Yes, she said them with a bit too much awareness of their significance. She intentionally paused and repeated to give them more weight. But she explained that when she first heard them, it was as though someone had switched a light on. And by them I was at once moved and inspired:

You have all the time there is… You have all the time there is…

And indeed that is the only equality that is perhaps given to all. Old and young, rich and poor, male and female of whatever colour or creed… we are each given the same 24 hours in a day. Although the number of days we have ahead may differ, I don’t have enough time is not really a valid complaint. I don’t have more or less time than you, I may just be trying to do more or less than you are trying to do with the time that we have. And Adriana of  seems to have been thinking along the same lines too recently. Her angle on the topic challenges me: “Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”

My question to myself now therefore is, I have all the time there is, am I making good investments with it? Are the ways in which I spend my time meaningful, rewarding, constructive, worthwhile, beneficial? Because these are the attitudes that I would like to have towards my life and how I use it.

Door Keys


All psyched up to go home

Last week, on my way home, I actually took a seat on the train. I was ill equipped to occupy myself in a useful way as usual, so I just sat and stared at random patterns and adverts.

About two stops into my journey, a man in his thirties or so got on. He had in-ear buds plugged in and tinny beats emanating from his head to the rest of the passengers. I suddenly realised that all the men in my section of the carriage, bar one, had their ears stopped up with various portable speakers. There were two other sets of nondescript ear buds. One young crisply suited male had a spotless almost glowing Beats by Dr. Dre halo clamping down on his ears. Another two had black-coloured headphones in a similar but less trendy style (the kind that could double up as ear-muffs). Another man slouched against one of the high seats at the end of the carriage, his head drooping as he dipped in and out of a fitful snooze.

My mind quickly referenced an article I had read recently about athletes training and psyching themselves up to motivational music. I wondered what these guys were getting ready for. The music did not seem generally to be of the kind that helps you to relax judging by the sounds from some of the headphones and the bouncing chins of the other wearers whose music I could not hear. (Notable exception could be the guy who was semi-conscious.)

(I must say I wouldn’t mind having one of these Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones for every Tube journey. I stepped foot in a Bose shop for the first time a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity, and recommend that anyone that has not tried these does so for the pure amazement value. Once you have experienced them, the attached price tag will no longer surprise you. I can imagine if I had a pair, every Tube journey in future would be like an out-of-body experience!)

That day’s observation did bring to mind the fact that there is a different story behind each person with whom I rub shoulders, literally or metaphorically, on my daily commute. We may all wear a similar uniform. We may even enjoy similar tastes in music. Each of us probably sports a familiar blank look as we meander home by various means. But we each go back to a different place and life can be very very different behind each door that we severally close behind us at the end of that journey.

Door KeysFor some, on the other side of the door is a refuge from the world. For others, to open that door is to leave a refuge behind for the night. For still others, the door opens a gaping hole of emptiness which envelops that person until he emerges again the next day. Then there are those we do not realise have no doors to journey to and live a expertly fabricated deception that we so readily believe. We can live so closely alongside one another, and yet, we can be such solitary souls.

I have no deep insights to offer on this trailing thought. I’ll try to remember to make lemonade and share it around while I know how. I am just glad that behind my closed door, I can open up this world here from time to time, and see your smiling and encouraging faces.



I can’t remember where I stumbled across this old news, but I’ve listened to the three music tracks below a few times this week. They were ranked as the top three most relaxing pieces of music in the world last year, based on how the rhythm influences your heart rate among other things.

The first one is officially the most relaxing. According to Lyz Cooper, founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy, it “contains a sustaining rhythm that starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slows to around 50. While listening, your heart rate gradually comes to match that beat…And there is no repeating melody, which allows your brain to completely switch off because you are no longer trying to predict what is coming next.

I don’t work well to music in general because I get immensely distracted anticipating what is coming next. It’s worst with songs because I start singing along to them in my head (if not out loud). But I also get very distracted by people around me talking, walking around, making random irregular sounds by sighing, picking things up, putting things down, dialing a phone number…

We had some fun in the office yesterday afternoon after lunch. A few of us were feeling particularly tired and zoned out at the end of a long week, so we decided to put the music to the test. It just so happened that some sunshine started streaming through the window at the same time, after the lunch time downpour.

Some of us felt all too ready for a weekend lie-in as a result and one colleague found the first tune annoyingly boring!

I really enjoyed the resulting atmosphere however. It was so nice to be able to relax into the remaining tasks of the day. I think these three are going to be my go-to tunes when I find myself unable to focus whilst blogging too…let me know what you think. Do you work well to music or are you easily distracted by it?

  1. Marconi Union – Weightless
  2. Airstream – Electra
  3. DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (Chill Out Mix)

(Links via Soundcloud)