Developing the mind – what to think about

Spring, a time of renewal and birth. The earth is coming out of its winter slumber. There is an awakening. SevenStones stands with me as I watch the light ever-changing. The morning is here and it is still chilly.

“I think it is time to start again” I don’t look at him. He stands next to me and we look out into the garden. My Guide soundlessly nods in agreement. “My ankle is fixed, painful – yes. But fixed. I hmind1ave been sober now for many months, almost two years. I need to start again. My rehabilitation is almost finished. It’s never too late, is it? I know I’m in my mid-sixties, but that’s still young, I mean relatively. If I do start again, where do I begin?” The Old Man looks at me. “I’m jabbering on – aren’t I?”

“Yes” came the answer, “… and begin with your mind, it is a good place to start.”

And so on that crisp spring morning, SevenStones took his leave and I spent the next few weeks reading – a lot. When finished, I summarised each mind-developing book. Now it is time to make sense of the mountain I climbed and to take stock of how this exercise has transformed me.

Broadly speaking I found the reading conveniently fell under one of four headings:

  1. What to think about
  2. How to go about thinking
  3. The compass and sextant of my thoughts
  4. Going deeper into my thoughts

What to think about

My life got to this point largely because of the habits I formed, this much is true. For better or for worse. My thoughts, attitudes, prejudices and the way I go about my daily round is habitual. Unconsciously habitual. The first step in this 1000 mile journey, I decided, should therefore start with an examination of my behaviours. And what better place to start than Stephen Covey’s tome on the subject? The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Without doubt, if I got real clarity about my principals, my values and developed a vision for my life I would surely become effective.  I do recognise this kind of positive change can only be sustained in the long term if I cultivate productive habits.

Self-knowledge is a cornerstone to building a strong and developed mind and I have to become realistic about myself. I must become aware and knowledgeable about the world around me and also understand what makes people tick. This path I can only walk alone, for no one can do this for me. Doctor Phil guided me to this revelation in his book Life Strategies.

To be sure the development of the mind is a daunting subject, and it can’t be finalised here. Not in one blog post, but this is a start. I feel the weight of SevenStone’s hand on my shoulder and I softly smile inwardly, “good place to start,” he murmurs, “keep reading”

More to follow…

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A last look back… for now

Ten months ago I went into the operating theatre for the first time. With almost a year’s hindsight, it is a lot easier to put an ankle replacement into a proper perspective. Now that it is done and dusted I can, without the emotions of the moment, give a reasonably balanced view, and hopefully a little advice for anyone thinking of following in my (ha!) footsteps.Ankle replacement (22

Without doubt the whole procedure has stretched my patience. Given all the research and reading beforehand, it still took a lot longer and hurt a little more than I expected. With this as a background, if you are in anyway unsure of having the operation it would be wise to delay your decision. It took me several years and a number of consultations before I finally came to the point of conclusion. As my life became smaller and more uncomfortable I had to face the truth. It became necessary.

Your second consideration is what you hope to gain from a replacement. In the early consultations I told the surgeon I wanted to run marathons again. Oftentimes I was dismissed with an indulgent and patient smile. My expectations were getting way ahead of themselves. It was only much later, when all I wanted was pain relief that we nodded in agreement, and I knew I was ready. I took aim at the new ankle’s horizon and calculated I would be about 80 when the warranty ran out. At least I could look forward to 15 years of reasonably vigorous activity while I was still relatively young. However minor, your age therefore does play a role in the decision, I think.

Not every candidate has to undergo two operations, a replacement and an osteotomy. I was one of the unfortunate ones. The recuperation time is long and drawn out. Over the last 10 months, at least four were spent in a plaster cast with no weight bearing activity. Another four months were spent on crutches and in-between operations I spent a month in a moonboot. The implications of this reach far into your work life and your family circumstances. My wife and I had to find lashings of patience and goodwill to get through the ordeal in one piece. If I may offer a personal word of advice here: just let the people who love you help you, and don’t try to be too independent. Don’t be an asshole.

I have been taking short walks without a moonboot for about a week and I want to get back to the gym. I have put on weight and have become really unfit. But that is, I believe, only temporary. I plan to see my family doctor next week and will take it from there. I still want to do so much. Not least walk the Camino de Santiago iAnkle replacement (21n Spain. I also miss road races and as soon as I can, I will walk a five kilometre fun run.

This then will be my last posting on my ankle replacement for a while. I am glad that I have been able to help a few who are still agonising over a similar decision. Anytime you need some further insight, you know how to contact me. My heart is full of hope and my mind clear, and although I have steered away from naming him – I would be remiss if I did not thank Professor Nick Saragas for his knowledge, skill and in my case – his patience. You were brilliant.

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