Saturday, 9 August 2014

Peace, calm and the passage of time

I was recently reminded of an event several years ago which resulted in my total immersion into sadness and confusion the like of which  I'd never before (or since) experienced.  The dawning of the truth that I had been duped -  tricked into believing something which had in fact been a complete lie.
My mind racing, my heart pounding I couldn't think straight.
The reality of what I'd perceived to be the truth, completely and utterly shattered.
My broken heart felt dark - weirdly heavy - strangely blackened and weighing heavily in my chest - I was unsure how it would ever repair itself, and kept asking myself in crazy whispers, " How did I feel before this revelation?"
Normality felt like a life time ago.
The trees looked different.
Were they sneering at me?
Everything looked weird.
Could nature be fake too?
As I walked I was sure the stony path was laughing at my naivety - silly girl!
As I lay my heavy head and body on the verge, the grass seemed to stroke my brow, perhaps in an attempt to comfort and slow my racing thoughts, my panicked head kept circling round and round, going over and over again and again the details of the event that had unfolded earlier in the day.
How could I speak again?
I needed to speak!
But who could I trust with this?  Who would believe what I so desperately needed to share?
"Breathe", I reminded myself.
"Just keep breathing"
I'm unsure now of the time frame, but I did - over time - start speaking again.  And, the beautiful thing was that all my wonderful  friends I spoke with held me close.
Cried with me.
Held me tight in their thoughts, prayers and physically held me too.
My lovely husband Andrew often feels sad (and a tad confused maybe) when he reads my blogs - asking, "Why do you share that type of story with the world? It's so personal and upsetting!"
And the reason is this:
If just one person out there is reading this and is dealing with devastating news then my hope is that my words help "hold" them and provide some comfort.  I'd hope too that this blog post provides them with some reassurance that the pain they feel right now really will pass.  I know too well that in the depths of it, that can seem like a trite and empty thing to say - but it is true!
"Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us." - David Richo



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Friday, 11 July 2014

Finding the quiet place within you.

In the space between the hustle and bustle of life something wonderful can happen.
Clarity.
Peace.
A sense that all that rushing, planning and fussing was in fact orchestrated by external forces. Society held beliefs that not being "busy" is a sign of failure.  That peaceful core of you - that authentic self, does not want a life led at ninety miles an hour.
Slow down.
Slow down before your body takes away your ability to choose.
Reflecting back on my own years spent as a hedonistic thrill seeker, I feel a wave of sadness as I now see clearly that my attempt to get as far away from myself; my own pain, as possible was completely futile. 
Now, as I watch others, young and old(er) splashing their exuberant, extrovert antics over social media sites I know there's no point in diving into their world in an attempt to save them from themselves. 
It's okay.  
Quietly, and in the space between the busy times, they will get a nudge to slow down, a sign - hopefully a gentle one -  to just be quiet. Only by removing the false chatter, the empty laughter, the noise of being busy, can they start to build a relationship with that quiet place that has been waiting for them.  It doesn't want to be a stranger any more. 
As I sit here now watching a shrub bejewelled with bright yellow flowers dancing effortlessly in the summer breeze, I wonder why we have to try so hard? Society has dictated so much to us, we're left believing we need to be more than our beautiful, perfect selves.
The yellow flowering bush takes nutrition from the soil, the sun and is quenched by the rain.
Providing all those fairly simple needs are met, the plant will grow and flourish into it's beautiful adult self - perfect.
No ego.
No need for it to try to be something else.
Oh nature!  How inspiring you are!
And we are natural too - you are a beautiful, perfect being.
By meeting your physical, emotional and spiritual needs you can, and will, flourish into exactly what you are meant to be.
"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in life has a purpose."  - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"The best cure for the body is a quiet mind." - Napoleon Bonaparte


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Your walk with your shoes on your feet.

Keep your head down, tow the line and whatever you do, don't raise your head above the parapet! If you live with those phrases rolling around your head, stop for a moment and ask yourself why you're allowing them any air play in your life?
Who is putting those thoughts there?  When did they arrive?  In childhood?  In a relationship?  In school?
You are here and you are entitled, by your very existence, to live your life authentically to fit with your very individual idiosyncrasies. You may not be approved of by some, and guess what?...That's okay!  I'm sure it's true for the majority of people that they'd rather be supported and loved by a few, than loved falsely by the masses.
If you constantly cow down to the needs of others you are doing yourself the very worst dis-service. When I buy second hand shoes I'm always disappointed because they've already assumed the shape of the previous owners feet!  They never truly feel like mine, it just feels like I'm making do with shoddy seconds.
Listen to yourself - listen to your own needs, and do your very best to walk your life; in your shoes; on your path.
"We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be." - May Sarton


Friday, 23 May 2014

An unfolding life.

Life is not something to be forced. Let go of the need to direct and control every aspect of your life. Letting go can enable an exquisite unfolding to occur.  Just as the beautiful butterfly emerges from it's chrysalis, gently, softly let your life reveal itself in its own time - as it needs to.
To rip open the chrysalis, demanding the butterfly unveil it's intricate, divine elegance to you right now could damage the fragile filaments that weave, web - like, so exactly through this intriguing creature.
Slow down.
Rest between life's struggles.  Tread carefully and mindfully through your days and trust that, by demanding less, more in fact will fall neatly into place uncovering all that is, and all that will be, your perfect life.
"You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway." - Steve Maraboli


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Dark skies, hidden sun

Yesterday was confusing.
The sun shone and smiled down from a beautifully blue sky, the leaves gently rustled - how perfect!
A few short hours later, as I sat outside, I became aware of a change in the atmosphere. Tilting my head skywards the dark clouds cast a sinister backdrop to the lush green leaves of my silver birch. Rain drops tapped gently on my face, each globule a short, sharp slap in the face,
"Were you getting complacent, Kathleen?!"
Gentle, cold, refreshing, restorative raindrops, reminding me the smiling sun was a transient phase now long gone.
I'd been lulled into believing the whole day would be a dreamy, sunny Tuesday.
An event earlier in the day had left me with intense confusion.
If someone wants to speak with you, sharing what they perceive to be meaningful and important, do the honourable and kind thing - listen.
Don't just listen to the words falling from their mouth, but listen to the heartfelt meaning behind them.
For some people, the opportunity to feel safe enough to speak up can be but a fleeting moment.  Sadly, if the listener misses the point, who knows how long the, "speaker" will fall silent for? When all the conditions are right the speaker speaks and the listener hears.
Just as moisture heavy clouds rise up, climbing over hillsides only then, when they can no longer hold their heavy burdensome load, down and down the rain pours on the valley below, in perfect conditions the speaker shares and the listener, truly hears. How wrong, and damaging would it be for us to shout at the cloud, "STOP! Not now...I'm in the middle of cutting my lawn!"  Rain will come, and rain will go, sun will warm us and the combination enables our crops to grow.
Don't be the thunderous black sky casting a shadow on the transient, but beautiful moment someone feels able to speak up.
None of us can tell when their sun will shine again.
"Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable." - David Ausburger

Monday, 5 May 2014

The blackbird, the bench and me.

After lunch today I lay down outside on my garden bench, bundled up in my puffy jacket, hood up, cosy and cocooned. I watched the wispy clouds obscure the sun, high up in the sky; so high even the larks aren't familiar with the view from that giddy height.
I fell asleep.
The blackbird chirped and tweeted with a bit too much enthusiasm.  Excitable, happy, bouncing feathery mass invading my slumbering space,
"Simmer down there Mr Blackbird!" I whispered.
I fell asleep.
My own song falls mute. Silenced by the volume of the thoughts in my head.  At times nothing seems able to drown the chatter.  Enthusiasm waning, breathing slowing, sleep creeps over me again. The dreamy thoughts come and go, as ever out with my reach; I can't truly grasp any meaning behind the words and images surfacing. And that's okay.
Then I begin to rouse again.
In my half awake state a quote leaps into my mind that I remembered hearing as a little girl,
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." as a child back then I immediately thought,
 "That's not true!  They do know!"
Sitting back up, I wondered where all of that had come from! Mr Blackbird was unperturbed by my restless rest.  As ever his relentless chirping served as a  reminder that there is work to be done. Not even a dreamy Piscean perched on a bench in melancholy contemplation, was going to stop him.
These waves come and go.  They are all part of being human.  It only becomes problematic if we try to grab onto one of those waves and render it static. So, I've learnt to go with the flow, remaining unattached, attached only to the knowledge that all of this is forever changing.
"The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low." - Richard Carlson

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A new prescription

I'm writing this sitting outside in the glorious spring sunshine.  A lady from the cafe has just come outside and sprinkled some cake crumbs on a large flat rock in front of me.  It's as if the crumbs landing on the rock simultaneously struck a dinner gong as a blackbird, a robin and a sparrow magically arrived to clear up the treat gifted by the kind hearted soul from the cafe.
Within seconds the flat rock is clear again - no evidence left, no sign of the delivery lady, the crumbs, or the collectors.
The cafe lady can wash her tub more easily now she's disposed of the crumbs. The birds enjoyed a feeding frenzy from an effortless find. A classic (and probably daily for this particular group) win-win scenario. Maybe we could all learn from this exchange.
From the moment the crumbs appeared, those three birds weren't searching blindly for their next scrap of food.
They came; they fed; they left.
The cafe lady gave what she had, and walked back into her day job.
Mutually beneficial.  Mutually effortless.
Too often one person falls prey to the, "Yes, it's okay, I'll do it!" virus.  While others seem to have a natural born immunity to it.  As time passes for the sufferers of the virus it's strength leaves them weakened and exhausted, plaguing them throughout their lives - with only short remissions occurring sporadically, lasting only a few days or weeks before the, "Yes, it's okay, I'll do it!" resistant virus leaps to the fore once more.
The cafe lady does what she can to support the birds in her patch.  The birds are obviously appreciative and didn't seem to mind sharing the meal between themselves either.
Do your bit, give back when you can, and make sure if you've been dogged by the, "Yes it's okay, I'll do it!" virus, prescribe yourself at least one, "No, sorry I can't right now." every day.
"Learning to say no can earn you respect from yourself as well as those around you." - Auliq Ice




Saturday, 29 March 2014

Darkness, wisdom and daylight.

I wonder why it is that the thought I had complete clarity about in the wee small hours eludes me as soon as I fully waken?
It's as if daylight acts as a memory eraser.
Just as I'm heavily resting in that pre-wakened state it all makes sense - everything.  Life and death, the conscious and unconscious have unfolded in the most beautiful way, and I get it!
I keep my eyes closed in the hope that I can retain all I've understood and share all this comfort filled knowing with as many family and friends as will listen.
But, bit by bit as I rise up and up from my sleepy state, like a child clambering ever higher to reach the biscuit tin - it's always just a finger tips length away from my grasp. Then daylight snaps into my awareness and the "biscuit tin" has been snatched from me and locked back into the cupboard.
I wonder who puts those thoughts and images so clearly in my mind?  Is it the same person who so cruelly snatches them back?
Maybe, simply glimpsing and feeling that all is well should be enough. The frustrated child in me wants others to know why I feel this way - but without a clear explanation I risk sounding like a mad woman!
So, I'll keep my notebook and pen by my bedside in the hope that one of those days I will be able to clearly explain exactly what is contained within those night time wisdoms, before they magically dissolve into the mists of day break.
"Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity." - Khalil Gibran

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

An inspirational film



The other night I watched a documentary film which touched me deeply.  The description of, 'Cutie and the boxer' read:
'Cutie and the Boxer is a candid New York love story about life and art that explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife and artist Noriko.'
I found the film to be intriguing, beautiful and at times a little disturbing.
The most endearing aspect of Ushio's personality was his determination and complete conviction towards following his passion - creating his, very unique form of art.
Ushio had tunnel vision, completely blinkered to the talents of his wife Noriko. It was sad playing witness to his own, often desperate attempts to have his art recognised and valued by the art world.
What I admired was the relentless, incomparable energy he threw into producing and promoting his work. 
Art fed him - he was his art. 
Despite being quite poor and living a hand to mouth existence, there seemed never to be a time where he thought he ought to get a, 'real' job to pay the bills and put food on the table. By the end of the film I had utter respect and admiration for Ushio and his equally artistic wife Noriko, who was completely devoted to art and her 40 year marriage to Ushio.
Following your passion and never deviating from that path, takes tremendous courage. The reward is health and contentment, with the occasional splattering of frustration and perhaps some condemnation from more conventional on-lookers. Being authentic and doing what you genuinely want to do is ultimately the only way to be....how many more signs and nudges do you need before you grab the opportunity to be yourself - whatever unique and wonderful form that takes? 
"It is your passion that empowers you to be able to do that thing you were created to do." - T. D. Jakes

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Lighthouses, faith, you and me.

In my role as a therapist I have the privilege to meet and work with people from a broad spectrum of beliefs and spiritual backgrounds.
One thing I have learnt when speaking with my clients is that it matters to them that they get the chance to tell me a bit about their faith - often their faith makes up a huge part of their life, so their wish to share that with me is completely acceptable and understandable. I'm interested to hear about faith, so for me it's an educational part of our session and helps me gain a clearer understanding of the person I'm working with.
There's a thread that seems to connect each person who speaks to me about their faith - and when they speak about it I can often experience a wave of peaceful contentment as I listen to them describe what their faith brings to their life.
Just as a lighthouse shines out in the dark depths of night, no matter how treacherous the seas, no matter how isolated the sailor feels; the constant beckoning from the lighthouse provides comfort and security. For my clients with faith, however bad their symptoms, they often have a sense of peaceful knowing that all will be well.
Their "lighthouse" an unfaltering guide and companion on their journey through life.  Within each of them, it's unique; yet the same. A different name; yet the same.  A different place to worship; yet the same. A different way to pray; yet the same.  A different food to eat; yet the same.
Lighthouses are often shaped differently, standing solidly but in very different locations - yet they have the same job.  All different; but the same.
As lighthouses; as faith; as people.
Different - yet the same.
"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree." - Albert Einstein
"The essence of all religions is one.  Only their approaches are different."- Mahatma Gandhi