Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

Well, the pigeons got their revenge!

After my accidental obliteration of one of their brethren a bunch of them got together and decided it’d be a good idea to sh*t all over the hood of my car. Not a problem you might think, just get the car washed. But no! Pigeon poop is like acid. Take that, plus one of the hottest days of the year so far, and you get a lot of dropping shaped damage to your paintwork. I’m hoping T-Cut will be able to sort it out, but if not we’re looking at a re-spray.

Talk about instant karma (not that there should have been any. I didn’t kill the pigeon deliberately).

Had a few Olympic moments this past week, from seeing the torch come over Kew Bridge,

torchy torchy

to weird adverts in foreign languages appearing on the side of double decker buses,

got drink?

to seeing the opening ceremony on Friday night.

My quick capsule review: not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Yes a lot of silly English in jokes, but done well I reckon. Got a bit confusing in places, like when the Arctic Monkeys showed up after the parade of athletes, but all in all hats off to Danny Boyle for producing something pretty decent. It was a lot better than Slumdog Millionaire anyway.

Still no major changes to my plans yet. I keep striking out on finding places to go do some volunteer work. Looks like I’m going to have to cast a wider net. Still waiting to hear from the TTC in Austria, see if I can stay on there after the course, help out for a bit; and if not I might try France, see if they need anybody.

I can’t believe I’m having such a hard time giving my time away. I’m willing to work for free, full time. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that? Yes I’ve had one or two offers of places if I’m willing to pay, but that doesn’t work for me. If I’m paying (and it’s not a course) I want a holiday. If I’m working I’m worth the board and lodging, and I’m not paying for the privilege. Simple really.

It’ll all work out eventually. Whatever happens in life, you always end up doing something. And you know the bit I’m looking forward to the most? Putting all my stuff in storage. I can’t wait to divest myself of all this clutter and just travel light for a while. It’s gonna be a blast! 🙂

So… Where Was I?

Right! Regular readers out there will know I’m well past due an updated on my life changing plans and blah blah blah. Well, let’s see shall we?

the death of analogue

As I think I mentioned previously work have decided to turn down my sabbatical request. It seems that spiritual development, charity work, and visiting family overseas is insufficient reason to give someone time off. That, or they think I do a shit job and will be glad to see the back of me. Either way, see the back of me they will. If they don’t give enough of a damn to want to retain me services I’d be a damn fool to stay there, wouldn’t I.

So I’m gonna book the yoga teacher training course in Austria in September, which will cost about £2000. Quite a hunk of dough, but I can afford it. For one thing, I’ll be moving out of my flat at the end of August, and putting all my stuff into storage, so that’ll save me £5-600 quid.

morning reflections

It’s been a cosy place to live, cheap, warm, free from aggro, and it’s meant I could save a lot of money up to go do stuff with. But it’s also quite small, and a bit damp, and it needs decorating, and there’s crazy neighbours, and mice, and all that kind of things. So I may as well take the opportunity of being away for a month to make a move, and hopefully end up with something better (with more than one room, lol).

Basically, though a big part of me feels sad at having to say goodbye, this place has been good to me, it’s time to move on I reckon. Otherwise I’ll turn round one day to find myself a forty-something bachelor living in rented accommodation with no view and a kitchen where half your stuff ends up on the floor coz there’s nowhere to put it all.

sneaky shot 2

And that’s the other reason I’ve got to jack in the job and get out in the world again too, wimmin! Shift work is not conducive to finding, starting, or having a relationship. You’re off when everyone else is working, asleep when everyone else is awake, and even your friends don’t call as much as they used to because you’ve had to say no one too many times.

So for my own sanity, my own future, and for the warmth of my own bed, I need to make a change.

a guide to the girl guides' maze

Hmm… kind of feels like I’ve gone a bit off topic there, so let’s recap.

Jack in the job end of August. Go do TTC in Austria. October/November I want to spend in an ashram practicing yoga/meditation/etc. Then off to Oz for a month or so in December, to just travel and have a bit of a holiday. And then after that, who knows?

I have got this idea brewing that I’ll spend a year writing. I’m not sure where yet, but it’d be between my 39th and 40th birthdays (8th of February 2013/2014 respectively). I’d bookend it with riding an elephant and seeing the northern lights, the two things I want to do most in the world. I just think that, if I really want to write, I should have a good go at it, see if I’ve got what it takes. I mean, I know I can write! But can I get published?

if only...

So that’s where we are at the moment. Still a little vague I know, but there should be some clarification in the coming weeks. A friend of mine is a life coach, and we’re going to do a little exchange of services. In return for my teaching her some Tai Chi she’s going to do some exercises with me to help me understand what I do and don’t want to do. Hopefully once that’s happened I’ll have some more news for y’awl.

It’s all very exciting, and a little nerve wracking too. But aren’t the best things always that way a little? Butterflies in your stomach as you approach the girl at the bar. Packing your things to move somewhere new, not knowing how things will be when you get there. It can be difficult stepping out of your comfort zone, giving up the apparent safety you’ve built up around yourself. But if you only do what you’ve always done, you’ll only have what you’ve already got; and I don’t know about the rest of you, but there’s only so many nights I can sit at home eating chips and watching DVDs before I start to wonder if I’m wasting my life? (top tip: the answer is… yes!) 😉

Sivananda Meditation Retreat

Well, I’m back from my exotic yoga holiday to sunny Putney. 🙂

Might seem a bit weird going to stay for a week somewhere half an hour away from your own front door, but then again why not? You go where the teaching is, and when the day starts at 5:45am – with the ringing of a bell and an enthusiastic “Om namah Shivaya!” – what else can you do but pack your bags and go residential.

sivananda yoga vedanta centre, putney

I’d been looking forward to this. I was in dire need of a break from ‘real life’ (details of which I ain’t going into right now). A week stretching, chanting, meditating and everything else was just what the doctor ordered, and the Sivananda Yoga Centre is just the place to do it. They themselves call it “an oasis of calm in the centre of London” and they’re not wrong.

an oasis of calm

I’d not done their kind of meditation before, so I figured this course with Swami Kailasanada was just what I needed to get me started. Turned out to be quite different to the Vipassana Meditation I’ve been practicing up to now. For one thing there was more chanting than I’d expected.

shrine room

Now you know me, I’m not big on the whole chanting thing (though it kind of grows on you) but I gave it a go anyway. And I was doing alright ’til this weird head cold thing started kicking it. I spend several days with a nasty scratchy throat, occasional headaches (I gave up caffeine two days early just so I wouldn’t have withdrawal headaches while I was there, so they were doubly annoying) and so my chanting was a bit sub-par a lot of the time. Thankfully there were plenty of others there to drown me out, though not the two times I had to lead the chant myself (eek!).

shiva mural

The evening workshops themselves were excellent, and so full of information. I took copious amounts of notes and heard a lot of new and interesting stuff to think about. Often after a class I was so invigorated I couldn’t sleep. That’s where washing dishes helped. A little something to burn off excess energy works wonders sometimes.

We learnt about mantras and their use in meditation, and I was even fortunate enough to go through a mantra initiation at the end of it. Check me out in my white initiation outfit.

waiting for mantra initiation

Lookin’ good huh? And, I got given a spiritual name too: Keshava, which means one who is full inside apparently (among other things). Thankfully, I like it. I mean it’s short, it sounds nice, it begins with a K, and it’s not utterly unpronounceable which is always a bonus (some of them can be a right mouthful). But I digress…

sun salutation

The course was well run, as you would expect. Everyone at the centre was lovely, as were all my fellow residents. The food was great, and I was very grateful to everyone for the allowances they made for my veganism. Care and consideration for their students is something of a trademark for the Sivananda organisation I find. Just look at all the smiling faces;

a yogi breakfast

And that was at 8am on day seven! After seven early morning calls, seven full days, and thirteen (you heard me, thirteen) yoga classes. Just goes to show, they must be doing something right eh?

om

Highlight for me though had to be the lunch time where Swami Krishnadevananda decided to nick everybody’s cake. It was masterful the way he pointed out the pictures on the wall behind people, only to swipe their banana bread when their backs were turned (not once, but twice!). And they didn’t even realise he’d done it, or why everyone else was laughing. Priceless. 🙂

So if you do decide to go on a course there get ready for a full day, some great food, good company, but most of all keep your eye on your pudding coz Swamiji’s about! You have been warned.

I’m From Barcelona

I saw the best gig last night! It had everything. Balloons, confetti, hand gestures, singalongs, conga lines, stage diving, bouncing up and down. What more could you want?

I'm From Barcelona

If you don’t know I’m From Barcelona how can I describe them? Tempted though I am to write “Just fucking brilliant!” a slightly more accurate definition would be a bunch of 29 wonderful people who play a myriad of instruments and have a hell of a lot of fun.

Now I know that’s not much of a description either, but I’m at a loss. Better to let a picture paint a thousand words. My apologies for the rubbish quality, but I left my new camera at home for some bizarre reason so I had to rely on my shitty little phone for recording.

They like to get you singing:

And they like to get you dancing:

And they really like their balloons and confetti!

Not just the music, the whole night was a bit of an adventure. Getting there was lightly shambolic. I’d been to the Tabernacle before, but I must have gone to a different tube station as I had no idea where I was when we came out. Thank God we asked someone for directions because we could have ended up miles away if I’d gone with my instincts.

But we made it with time to spare, got some drinks, and plonked ourselves down til the show started. We weren’t sat for long though once the music began. Generally I’m not too bothered about being in the thick of it these days, too many tall people at gigs have put me off it, but once all the fun started I couldn’t stay away. Who can sit on the sidelines when there’s clouds of confetti on the go?

Honestly, I haven’t had that much fun at a gig, ever! They just put on such a brilliant show. The tunes are easy to pick up on, you can join in no bother at all, and the dance moves are dead easy (provided you can bounce and do hand gestures at the same time). I sang so much I was a little hoarse by the end of the night.

Speaking of which, here’s how it all ended.


 

How good is that! 🙂

So chuffed I went for it and got the tickets. I’d never seen the band before, and didn’t really know any of their songs (actually, it turns out I knew one of them, but only as it’s the bed for the Geoff Lloyd show on Absolute Radio), but I’d heard them perform once (on said radio show) and the video that came with the e-mail about tickets looked brilliant, so I just thought what the hell.

If you ever get the chance to see them live, do! As you can probably tell I’m a big fan now after just one show, and a guarantee you will be too if you give them a go.

This is the vid that sold me on the gig.

And here’s another, just for the hell of it.

Thank you so much guys. We love you too! 🙂

4th Annual International Kiki Day

September 14th : International Kiki Day. A day when all Kiki’s take a break from ‘real life’ and go out and do something less boring instead.

This turned out to be a bit of an odd one for me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and in the end what I chose to do conspired together to mess with my head a bit; but I’ll get to that later.

I started off with a trip to the cinema. Been wanting to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes for a while now. I’ve been following the announcements of how great the special effects were, so I was keen to check them out for myself.

All told I have to say very good. The effects were still very much effects, it’ll be a while before they are able to totally fool an audience 100% of the time, and the script was thin and underwritten as so much coming out of Hollywood is these days, but I enjoyed it and I’ll probably go see the sequel when it comes out.

What I found hard was the theme of animal abuse. The casual cruelty depicted that we find in real life too. And the use of animals to experiment on. I understand the arguments for it, I just don’t think we have the right.

These thoughts came to bear when I went on to my next activity, visiting the London Aquarium.

As you would expect they had all manner of undersea creatures for you to look at. Here’s just a selection of what I saw.

faraway turtle
 
spiny fish
 
jellies!
 
They were all beautiful to look at, and I was enjoying seeing them all – I even got to touch a starfish, which was weird – when I suddenly felt bad about being there.

I mean I know it’s different looking at fish in a aquarium, fish that are probably very well taken care of, but ultimately it still comes under the banner of human being messing with nature for our own purposes, and I’m sure given the choice they’d rather have stayed where they were, in the wild.

I’ve got to be honest, I tried not to think about it too much as I went round, but I certainly had mixed feelings about being there; especially when I got to the penguins.


 
I console myself with the high level of care the must receive, to survive in such an artificial environment, but I’m definitely going to think twice about doing something like that again. Kind of makes me wish I’d gone with the alternative, and gone to a play at The Globe Theatre instead.

I ended the day with a yoga class and a bit of chanting and meditation. I was in two minds about doing this, as it qualifies as something ‘productive’ (which goes against the ethos of International Kiki Day), but I placated myself with the idea that I would indeed visit The Globe very soon, and thereby make it up to the Universe.

A Flying Visit

So much has been going on lately, both in the world and in my life, I must apologise for my blog negligence (“blognigence”?).

First of all I am alive and well. My thanks to all my friends worldwide for their concern when the whole riot thing was going on. I dunno what that was all about but I can assure you, not only do I not live anywhere near where riots might occur, but momma Dickinson didn’t raise no fool; if I even thought a riot was heading my way I’d get the ‘f’ out of there sharpish. I mean I’m all for civil disobedience and that, but that ain’t the way to go about it man. You idiots achieved nothing.

Secondly my summer missions, which started with the Sivananda Yoga Retreat and ended with Go Ape last Wednesday have now come to a close. I’ve got a few little things lined up for September, but for the most part my major (planned) undertakings have come and gone. I’ll be blogging the Buddhafield/Green Man festival thing shortly, once I figure out how to get the pictures off of my phone, but for now I’m settling into a planning/creating phase that should lead me into the start of next year and hopefully yield some interesting results.

With that in mind, I’m starting to get an idea of what/where I want to do/be, instead of what I am doing at the moment. Decision time on the job/flat is still the end of September, which gives me a month to formulate a proper plan, but I think I know what I’m going to do next, I just need to figure out how I’m going to do it.

So it’s all change in the life of Kiki. I really feel like I’m finally moving towards something new, something interesting, something worth getting out of bed in the morning for. Om everyone. Stay tuned for further developments. 🙂