A New Name

I recently changed my name and I’ve updated the website to reflect my new name.

The previous address for this blog, kthdsn.com, came from my usual internet username, and was my old name, Kate Hudson, without the vowels. This is the surname I acquired from my ex husband, who has not been a part of my life for many years now, so it was high time for a change.

I considered going back to my maiden name, but that was the name I had when I made the mistakes that resulted in my married name, so it carried the same baggage. I’ve moved on with my life and I wanted a name that looked forwards rather than backwards, so I decided to adopt a new name, and spent a long time considering what I wanted. I settled on Harris. I keep the same initials, and it appears in my family history so it’s linked to where I came from, and it’s loosely related to some of my hobbies and interests. Read more

Moving House

We’ve lived in our current house for over three years, and it’s really too small for our family. The girls are growing up fast and it’s past time they had more space. Until recently, our budget just wouldn’t stretch to a bigger house, especially while we got our company off the ground. Things have improved a lot lately and we’re ready to make the leap.

I’ve been looking at houses online for a few months while we made sure our finances were in shape and thought about what we wanted from our new home, so I could get an idea of what was available at what price. I saw a couple houses that would have been great for us, but there weren’t many. I decided we were ready to stop browsing and start seriously considering houses around the middle of January.

Actually, it was January 21st, four weeks before we were expecting house guests. I didn’t expect anything to turn up in time to move before our guests arrived, but I was excited to start looking at potential new homes. The following morning, a house appeared in my inbox that looked perfect. It was a little further from the girls’ schools than I wanted, but I couldn’t find any other negatives. A few emails later, we had an appointment to view it.

We spent the weekend checking out the area, both online and in person. We really couldn’t find anything to dislike about the house, and hoped that the viewing would live up to our expectations. It did, and we decided to go for it straight away. We paid the fees and waited for the application process to go through. A few nerve-wracking days later, we were approved and our moving date was confirmed.

We spent the next weekend sorting through our belongings, donating and throwing away an astonishing amount of junk that we didn’t want to take with us. We collected boxes from grocery stores and started packing. We’re organised, focussed and motivated. We have six days left before moving day, then exactly two weeks until our visitors arrive.

Moving house forces you to change your perspective about what’s important to you. You have to take a critical look at your possessions, which is something I don’t often feel the need to do. I was genuinely surprised by the volume of stuff we decided not to keep, and how much of that stuff wasn’t even worth donating. I have no idea why we were keeping some of it, other than because nothing had prompted us to think about why we still had it until now.

Moving also makes you rethink how you’re spending your time, especially when you decide to move on such short notice. There were just ten days between us confirming the move and our moving day. The idea of sorting through my stuff usually fills me with dread. I imagine it taking up lots of space, making a huge mess, being a lot of work and taking a long time. I had no idea that I would be able to sort the entire house in just three days, taking frequent tea breaks and actually enjoying the process.

I was also surprised by the number of things that I had collected for projects I planned to start that seemed like a great idea at the time but I never made time for. And not just that I had the stuff, but that I wasn’t at all bothered about getting rid of it. I guess those projects weren’t as important to me as I thought they were.

Moving gives you a fresh start in more ways than one. You get a new house and new neighbours, but you also get a new perspective on who you are as a person, what your priorities are, and what you want to do with your time.

Defining Magic

Recently, I attended a fascinating discussion about the definition of magic and how it fits in with scientific investigation. I found it really interesting and I’d like to share some of the points here.

When we talk about magic, most people have some idea what we mean by this word. Images of wizards, witches or stage magicians come to mind, and we understand magic to be some form of manipulation of the physical world by means that cannot be explained by the usual laws of physics. Whether we’re talking about magic tricks or magic spells, we’re generally looking causing some effect that seems to be physically impossible. We also tend to expect that if we perform the same trick or spell, we’ll see the same physical result.

If we define magic in this way, we come up against an issue when we also try to define science. Science is the study of the world around us, and scientific investigation involves observing the outcomes of an action or force to try to form a better understanding of what is happening.

If magic is defined as performing a trick or spell, an action, that results in a particular outcome, this can be studied and investigated until we can understand how and why it works. Therefore, this idea that magic is outside the realm of scientific explanaition simply doesn’t make sense. Either the trick or spell isn’t magic, or this definition of magic is incorrect.

The group discussed the idea that it’s not the act of performing the spell or trick that creates the magic, it’s the frame of mind of the practitioner. If you perform a spell whilst believing it’ll work, you are more likely to see results than if you don’t believe that what you’re doing actually affects anything. This idea brings us to a better definition of magic, in which the beliefs or will of the practitioner are able to influence the physical world.

Perhaps the best example of this kind of magic is the placebo effect, where a patient believes they are taking medicine, when they are actually taking a useless substance, yet their condition improves. We see this effect in all sorts of other situations too, if someone attends a job interview with confidence and self belief, they are more likely to perform well and win the job than someone who believes they won’t do well and won’t get the position.

This idea that a person’s frame of mind can affect the physical world exists in our lives in many ways; prayer, the law of attraction, cosmic ordering, positive thinking, affirmations, creative visualisation, superstition, making a wish and so on are all forms of using the power of being in the right state of mind to affect change in our lives.

Perhaps this definition of magic too could be studied, understood and quantified by psychologists, in which case we would no longer call it magic, it would become something that was understood in a scientific way. However, looking back at the history of magic and science we can see that many things that were once considered magic have been investigated by scientists and are now understood. Perhaps the best example of this is the magic of alchemy which became the science of chemistry.

My personal view is that the practice of magic is a tool to help the practitioner focus their will and create the right state of mind to bring them confidence, happiness or whatever else they seek. The act itself carries no magic, but the belief of the practitioner is powerful beyond our understanding.

Observations and New Perspectives

Since my life has been turned upside down I’ve started to look at a lot of things in a different light. It’s been enlightening, unsettling and really quite great.

I’ve spent most of my life thinking that good things happen to other people, and that I’ll always be stuck or trapped or held back in some way. I’m not sure why I felt this way, sometimes it seemed like I didn’t deserve any better, other times it seemed like I just didn’t have the resources to get any further. Either way, it wasn’t a very useful or fulfilling mindset to live with.

Since setting up in business for ourselves, I have helped create a thriving young company. We have built something from nothing. We have created a better situation for ourselves with nothing but our own skills and hard work. This brought several realisations and a whole new perspective on life.

I have always understood on an intellectual level that anyone can acheive anything if they put their mind to it, but I have never felt that it applied to me. I didn’t really believe it was that simple. Yet, I have begun to prove to myself that it is in fact the case. All you have to do is take the leap and give something a try. It will either go well, or teach you something about yourself that you can use to do better the next time.

Another thing that has always been lurking around at the back of my mind was the idea that people who are in it for the money are greedy, that it’s immoral and wrong to hope for personal gain and that rich people must be inherently bad in some way. I guess when you don’t have something, it’s comforting to imagine that you’re somehow better than those who do have it. Since starting the company I have learnt that I actually enjoy making money and that there’s nothing at all wrong with that. We need money to live, and having more of it makes life a whole lot easier.

A related belief that I carried with me was that getting other people to spend money was also greedy and wrong. Other people should be free to do what they like and not be coerced into spending money on things that they don’t need. Of course, this is completely silly. We’re not bullying people into giving up something that they don’t want to part with, we’re offering them a service in return for fair payment. If they don’t want to spend their money on our services, they’re free to walk away. In fact, most of the clients we’ve billed have been delighted with our services, and happy to pay us for them. That’s not greedy or evil, it’s just business.

The observation that affected me the most was that there is no reason at all why our company can’t be just as successful as any other company. We’re good at what we do, and our clients agree with us. I found this idea quite surprising. Whether or not you succeed has nothing to do with what you deserve, and everything to do with what you put in. When you use the skills, knowledge or resources available to you, you can acheive anything. And “you” means everyone, including me.

Find something you’re good at and find a way to share it with people. Charge a fair price for it. Don’t allow yourself to become trapped by a situation or a belief. You really can do anything you set your mind to.

Don’t Wait

With my thirtieth birthday creeping ever closer I’ve been taking stock of my life so far, looking back over the years from the little girl I used to be to the woman I am today. It’s been an eventful journey with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. I have been thinking about mistakes I’ve made, goals I’ve achieved, opportunities I’ve missed and adventures I’ve shared. I’ve created some amazing memories and learnt some valuable lessons, but the thing that stands out most, that I need to take with me into the next decade, is this: don’t wait.

There have been times in my life when I’ve grabbed chances by the horns and made seemingly rash decisions that often lead to great things. There have been other times when I’ve hoped and longed for something to be just right before I go for it. There have been yet more times when I’ve laid out all the possibilities available to me, but I haven’t chosen one, because to walk down one path means to leave the others untrodden. Rather than let go of the possibilities, I didn’t take any of them. I waited.

Looking back, I am proud of the crazy choices I made. They led me places I wouldn’t have got to otherwise. I found my wonderful partner by making a string of what others would call crazy decisions. I lived abroad because of a spur of the moment decision. Obviously, not all of my choices have worked out well. I’ve been divorced twice, I bought a house that turned out to be a complete disaster, and I tried moving to France without a hope of it working out well. I’m still glad I tried these things though. They were learning experiences that taught me all sorts of unexpected lessons.

What I regret most are not the bad decisions I made, or the ones with disastrous outcomes. I regret the choices I didn’t make, the opportunities I didn’t grab and the chances I let pass by. I regret standing at the crossroads and not choosing one of the paths for fear of losing the other possibilities, or because I couldn’t see which one would lead me to the best destination. I didn’t go back to school because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my future. I could have taken any course that interested me and decided further down the line, but instead I waited. I didn’t throw myself a birthday party because I couldn’t think of the perfect way to celebrate, so I waited for next time. I didn’t start a diary because I missed the first few days, so I waited until next year.

My twenties was a roller coaster ride of fantastic highs and terrible lows interspersed with a lot of waiting. I hope my thirties will be more like a road trip, always moving, always going somewhere, seeing as many sights as possible, but having the option to turn around and go a different way at any time. No more waiting for the ride to start, I’m taking control. I’m sitting in the drivers seat and it’s going to be a grand adventure.

Truth as the Basis for Belief

I have always thought beliefs should be based upon truth. It seems to make sense. I believe that my house exists because it appears to be true. I see it all the time, I can touch it, other people can see it too. It is definitely true that my house exists, therefore my belief in it is rational and sound.

I have spent a lot of time trying to find a truth on which to base my beliefs about other things, such as my belief that thoughts create or alter reality or that our spirit survives beyond the death of our bodies. I have thrown myself into a search for some ultimate truth about the meaning of life, the point of existence, something on which to base my beliefs. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for us to know the truth about such things. Either, such a truth is beyond our comprehension, or it simply doesn’t exist.

Over the last few years I have struggled to find meaning in my life. If there is no way of knowing what we are doing here, how are we supposed to know what we are supposed to be doing with our lives? How do we decide what is a better way to spend our time when there seems to be no definable way of knowing what we should be aiming for? When you accept that you can’t possibly understand the reason you are here, or that there may not even be a reason at all, everything starts to seem a little pointless. How do you find meaning once you’ve accepted that there isn’t any meaning out there?

I decided that if I can’t base my beliefs about the meaning of life on a truth that is impossible to define, I must base them on something else. It became clear to me that the only thing one can use as the basis for their belief system is the effect that those beliefs have on the way they feel and the way they live their lives.

I once believed that the only things that existed were concrete things that could be proven by science, and that when people die, that is the end of them. These beliefs were based on what I could see to be true. I wasn’t satisfied with this way of viewing the world though. It seemed cold and ultimately pointless. If we’re just filling in time before we die, we must be pretty insignificant and worthless. This didn’t exactly thrill me.

More recently, I have come to believe that there is more to the universe that meets the eye. There is some kind of invisible energy running through things, linking everything together. Things seem to happen for reasons. The way I think about things seems to affect the things themselves. With these beliefs, the world fascinates me. My life feels like an adventure that I’m convinced will continue beyond the death of my body. These beliefs clearly serve me better than my old ones.

My new beliefs are certainly not based upon a foundation of truths. Instead, they are based on the way they make me feel about myself and my life. It no longer matters to me that my beliefs can be proven, that they are actually true. I have accepted that the truth cannot be known, and chosen beliefs that make me feel good about life.

Rather than selecting beliefs based on what can be proven by science or confirmed by the senses and other people’s agreement, I choose beliefs that make me feel excited, fascinated and motivated. Instead of attempting to find proofs for my beliefs, I try to see positive changes in my life that my beliefs help me to bring about. If something I believe helps me to achieve something, that is much more valuable to me than a belief that is based on truth but that brings me down. If a belief isn’t working for me, I look for something that I would feel better about and try to integrate that into my belief system.

I have found that anchoring my beliefs on a foundation of positivity rather than truth has been very liberating and has led me in a completely new direction in life. I no longer feel the need to understand something incomprehensible in order to find a sense of meaning and fulfilment. I just go for what feels right to me, and the motivation, creativity and fulfilment I get is all the justification I need.

The Point of Life

Over the summer I have been pondering the meaning of life, the reason for existence, and what we are here for.  I have considered a whole range of possibilities varying from there being no meaning or point at all, through to life being so amazing in itself that that is the point. Obviously I can’t possibly come up with all the answers, but I can share my thoughts and views.

The main reason I have been thinking about the point of it all is that I have reached a stage in my life where I can begin to plan out a path for myself. My children are growing up and I will no longer be needed at home as much, so I can start to make my way in the world and create a life that will continue to be fulfilling and interesting long after my children have grown up and moved on with their own lives. But now that I’m faced with the infinite options, how on earth do I begin to choose?

I feel that it’s important to do something meaningful, but what exactly does that mean? I think it’s necessary to do something that improves the lives of other people, but even that seems vague. There is a big difference between improving someone’s health or ensuring their freedom and providing them with shallow entertainment or pretty clothes for instance. Yet entertainment and nice clothing contribute to a happy existence, so are they a less valid thing to offer the world?

Another point of view I considered is that we are all here for a period of time which constitutes our lifespan, and during that time we have to do something or other. In the big picture of human existence, how we each individually choose to spend our days makes little difference. From this perspective, it makes sense to fill our time with whatever we enjoy the most, no matter how frivolous it may seem. I didn’t feel satisfied with this idea either.

Another idea is that we are here to fulfil some kind of spiritual goal, and the possibilities here are many and varied as well. Some believe we have to live virtuous lives to enter a higher realm after we die. For some it’s a learning process and we’ll be sent back to the physical world again and again until we have completed our learning. For others it’s about renouncing the world to rediscover basic truths. The trouble with these ideas are that it’s impossible for us to know if there is such a goal, let alone what that goal requires us to achieve.

I have considered several variations of these ideas and rephrased the problem in many ways to try and find a perspective that feels right for me. I feel certain that each one of us must come to our own conclusion about why we are here and what we should spend our lives doing, based on our own unique point of view and set of beliefs about the nature of existence.

As for me, I still don’t have a definitive answer. I am not sure that it is possible to ever find one. I think it’s a process that needs improving and refining as we increase our experience of life, getting closer and closer to our true purpose, or at least to something that we feel is meaningful and find fulfilling.  At this point, I want my life path to include some form of helping other people, appreciating everything that I have in my life and in my world, and enjoying myself. I also think it’s important to keep learning as much as possible about anything that interests me, so I can expand my knowledge which may in turn help me to refine my ideas about my purpose.

I don’t believe that there is one path or destiny for each of us, more that there are infinite options, some of which may be better suited to our personal identities. It is a scary prospect to realise that once you have committed to one of these possible paths you are effectively turning your back on all of the other paths that could lead you to many wonderful places, but it is even scarier to think that you could spend a large portion of your life deliberating over which path is the best one for you, and never venture far enough down any of them to reach any of the wonderful places that await you. I do think it’s important to chose wisely, but it’s better to chose something that is part way to what you want than not to choose anything at all.

It is also important to realise that if you begin to tread a path and it doesn’t feel right, you can always branch out in another direction that is better suited to you. You can always change your mind, tweak things slightly, or take a leap in an entirely different direction if you discover something that feels like it will work out better for you.

Sunshine :D

It’s been a lovely few days of sunshine so far here in the UK. Cloudless blue skies, a light breeze, and nice and warm.

Everything is better when the sun is shining. I have more energy and motivation for getting on with things, I’m in a better mood than usual and I’m enjoying life more.

My seedlings have become mini plants and are almost ready to move outside into the sunshine. Some of my outdoor plants are flowering, a clematis that was here when we moved in, my apple tree and my blueberry bush. I’m especially excited about the blueberry bush as I planted it last spring but it didn’t really do anything until a few weeks ago. Hopefully we’ll have some yummy fruit this year.

I had a bit of spring clean over the weekend. We cleaned carpets, rearranged furniture and sorted some clutter. The downstairs is done, and we will be tackling the upstairs this weekend. I hope the sunshine stays around for the long weekends. It makes such a nice change.