Sunday, 3 November 2019

Mind full or Mindful?

Last week I had to re-enter the corporate world, I'm not looking for sympathy or medals, just stating a fact.  For the past 7 years I've been a fulltime freelancer but, thanks to, ahem, uncertainties in the policital landscape, work in my particular field has dwindled somewhat of late, and we are a very long way from earning a living from our books just yet (although you could click on the link at the end and help us along a bit!).
View from Grange-over-Sands station

The upshot is that I've been lucky enough to find a job in my specialist field (learning & development, thanks for asking 😀), working for a lovely organisation.  The only downside is that they're in Salford.  I have nothing against Salford, it's just really tricky to get to from Grange-over-Sands.  And I mean really tricky.  It takes me just under 3 hours each way, and that's without factoring in the vagaries of Northern Rail!  To give you some idea, it also takes me just over 3 hours to get all the way to London.
Love this building next to Wigan station

The thing that has struck me most about my commute is how unhappy everyone is.  Very few people smile, no-one makes eye contact and kindness is scarce.  Those people that do talk are inevitably complaining about their boss/ co-workers/ workload, but most folks are plugged into laptops or phones, oblivious to the world around them. Some things in partcular caught my attention...

Walking to work

  • On day 1 I changed trains at Lancaster and had 20 minutes to kill (long story).  I sauntered into the waiting room to plug my phone in while I waited - I needed my map at the other end.  I then sat down with my knitting.  Five minutes later two women barelled in, frantically plugged in (between them) three mobile phones and two laptops, then sat, frantically typing what looked like emails, for 10 minutes before their train arrived, whereupon (fabulous word!) they equally frantically stuffed everything back into their bags and raced to the train.  It was 7:20am.  I wondered when their working day was supposed to start.  The day they were getting paid for.  How much have organisations taken advantage of the fact that we can work from anywhere now?  No wonder everyone is so unhappy.
  • On a crammed train a lady got on.  She didn't look well.  Every seat was taken and folks were stuffed into every nook and cranny along the aisles.  She asked very loudly and politely if there was anyone in a priority seat who didn't need it.  No-one moved.  Not one person.  No-one even made eye contact.  I'm aware that not not all disabilities are visible but I refuse to believe that every single person in that carriage had one.  I was right down the far end but still stood up and called her down.  I'm not special, I'm just doing what I was taught as a child; have some decency and respect for others, especially those in need.
  • On every single trip I made this week I'd say that well over 90% of folks were staring at their phone screens, mostly doing work, but a few were playing games.  A handful of people were reading and, on most occasions, I was the only one knitting and gazing out of the window.  When are our brains getting any downtime?  At the office I've already chatted to a couple of folks who say how stressed they are and how they can't switch off.  I'm not surprised - most organisations will take every single second we give them, so we need to set boundaries to save our sanity.  
  • Boarding etiquette is non-existant - it's every man for himself.  If I do pause to allow someone on in front of me, the person behind has tutted, huffed and practically climbed into my rucksack.  I've been pushed and barged an it's only week one.  

Gorgeous autumn colours

These days it's way too easy to have our minds full of things, work, home, family, finances; the list goes on and on, but when are we making time for ourselves?  Even if it's just giving our mind a break on our commute.  How often are we truly mindful - right there, in the moment, as opposed to having our minds full of a million different things?  Your computer doesn't perform as well with lots of tabs open, and neither do you.

So many people are racing through life from dawn to dusk and not really enjoying very much of it at all, then they take it out on others and so the cycle continues.  Misery, it seems, is contagious.
Discovering local landmarks

I refuse to believe it's complicated, we just need to be a bit nicer to ourselves, and each other. If misery is contagious, why not happiness?

My mission is this:  I resolve to smile at people, to be courteous, to stare out of the windows and not to bitch about my co-workers - we are all in this together and none of us are perfect.  There will be times when I fail, I am only human, but if we all tried just a little bit harder the maybe the world wouldn't be quite such a crappy place.

The lights of Morecambe

You know that bit above where I said you could buy our books?  Well you can buy them all right HERE.  You could even read them on your commute! We will be happy to sign them and they make the perfect gift for lovers of Cumbria.  Honest they do.  Also Christmas is coming.  Just saying...