Deuteronomy 30!

As I ponder my life today there is a long list of things that I am happy and grateful for – from sunshine and a washing machine to friends and family. Each of these can be countermanded by a negative – too much washing, friends sick and struggling, uncertainty about seeing family. It was then that these verses struck me. God goes on a life-and-deathlot, it seems, in the Old Testament about whether to choose death or life, blessing or curse and I must admit I never quite got it. I was a bit like “why would you choose death or curse? Surely everyone chooses life and blessing!” But I know a lot of people who will look to the negative – the family visit and list all that could go wrong, the day out in the sunshine waiting for the rain, etc. I never realised until today when I was doing my “mindfulness” stuff of looking at the good things in my life – my blessings – that it is about attitude as much as what we do. So today I’m not going to steal anything, murder anyone, covert anything, hopefully not use God’s name in vain, etc, but I could very easily slip into the negative thinking.

Example – I’m off to the circus tonight. All very exciting. It’s an interactive one with pancakes. But I have to catch the train to meet up with my husband so we can go now or never circus.jpgtogether. I could very easily be dreading catching the train, worrying that he’ll be late, being nervous as to what they are going to be doing with pancakes, anxious about going and doing something I’ve not done before. I have a choice. Do I want life and so be looking forward to it and seeing it all as a blessing, or do I choose negativity and death and spend my whole day under a curse?

Relationships – now we all struggle with relationships whether family, spouse, friends, workmates, people we see in passing (though these seem to be easier to deal with 🙂 ) . Each of us can choose who we view those relationships. If we are always putting someone down then that relationship becomes a curse and in the end we often have to kill it off, but if we are always saying and thinking good of someone, even if they can be a bit of a pain, then that relationship is a blessing and we want it to live.

So today I list all the things I have to look forward to – all the blessings in my life. I will not do that in a Pollyanna sort of way and believe they don’t all come with difficulties. I pollyannawill be real and honest about them – like the catching the train tonight. If I don’t catch it I won’t get there. I will have to eat and walk the dog beforehand and I do find having set times to do things in my life isn’t what my personality enjoys. So I know it will be hard but I can choose to look at the things I don’t like or I can choose to focus on the good.

We’re off to my son’s new regiment’s family day on Saturday. Again this is a mix of good and bad and I can choose how I focus on it. It is a long way to go; he will be stressed; it will be busy; we don’t know what’s happening. But I will get to see my son and his fiancée and I haven’t seen either of them since Easter; because it where he is stationed is an hour from where we used to live we can catch up with friends; and we get to bring my daughter home with us for her birthday. Which will I focus on? Which will give me life and which death?

So those verses in Deuteronomy 30 and other places are not about physical death but life.jpgabout that thing inside of you, that part of you that is alive. Your soul? Your spirit? I’m not sure what it is called but it is that part of each of us that either draws or repels others. Today I chose life.

Advertisements

“everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics”

I read this quote this morning in Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. It’s from Charles quote-everything-begins-in-mysticism-and-ends-in-politics-charles-peguy-70-49-53Péguy (1873–1914), who was a French poet and essayist. Also this morning in the Guardian online I read this from Julia Gillard, who was the first woman Prime Minster of Australia, “the rapid media cycle combined with social media had disrupted the rhythm of politics and the perception of politicians.”

What’s wrong with the world today?” we often hear cry. In fact I was at a meeting talking about doing things with young people and that it is getting harder and harder because their attention spans are becoming shorter – and of course social media took the blame. Is it to blame? Or is it more along the lines of the fact that we have come to accept it and not challenge it. I’m not saying switch it off but I am saying that we need to fit in the mysticism, the praying, the meditation, the thinking about things. We see top level tweet-research-lengthcouncil and government meetings tweeted about as soon as we happen. Donald Trump has bought into the whole social media/tweeting in such a way that he appears to just tweet away so he can keep “in touch” but so much of what he says is rubbish and not even spell checked. As yet our politicians over here have not bought in to it but will that only be a matter of time?

But each of us needs to change this too. We need to slow down and to think. We need to change our worlds but being more meditative before we act. There is a rise in meditation and mindfulness but that seems to me to be in a recreation box not in a “let’s ponder before we act” box. As the general public we need to stop wanting a quick answer to things. And yes public enquiries can take too long – as with Hillsborough – but also answers can be wanted too quickly.

We live in a world that wants answers and wants them now. Human beings have always wanted to know the whys and wherefores of everything but at one time that had to come verucaabout slowly, could not be broadcast the moment someone had had a pondering thought. A lot of what we hear and read is more of a thought than a decision. Decisions come with time, with thought, with tapping into something greater than. And yes I think whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist, or any of the other religions etc that I have missed out, all want to tap into something more than themselves, whether that is a God, gods, inner self, counsellors, friends, or anything else. But that takes time. It cannot be done in a moment, in 144 characters.

To be able to change this world we need to take time, need to as Kate Tempest said “look at the faces” and “see peace in the faces”. Peace and hope and knowing where to stand. The catchphrase/gateway to silence/meditation point with Richard Rohr this week is “Give me a lever and a place to stand” – based on how Archimedes believed that a lever put in the correct place on the correct fulcrum in space could move the world. For me 13948111896_7fc79a239dthis has set me off on thinking about where is the lever I’m meant to be standing on, where is the correct place for me to stand and what in my world am I changing. Being the person I am it is hard for me to stop and think and wonder about that. I do want to be rushing about doing but I know that I will not know where it is unless I spend time praying, pondering, journaling, talking to friends, reading, watching, thinking and then …

So to change this world, to see the peace in people’s faces, to really know what is going on and what people think about it we need to slow down, to move into meditation not as a place so we can sleep more but as a place where we can become more effective. We need to also stop expecting our leaders to give us answers now.

16137685007_6dd7e27e5f_zGive me a lever and a place to stand

Predictions for 2017

happy2bnew2byear2b20172bposterOk so I’m a bit late. All the papers, etc had their predictions within the first year of the year. But I’ve been pondering and reading them and have been amazed at how, when they were so inaccurate for 2016 why they are now rolling them out again for 2017!

Most seem to be doom and gloom and that we need to be fearful and worry. Some of this might come to pass but some of it might not. Donald Trump may end the world as we know it but he might not. Brexit may be another end of the world as we know it but it might not. Things may get better or they may get worse. We could be overrun with refugees and as someone told me we could all die because “all the refugees are coming here to kill us.” I am thinking that one might be a bit over the top, but it is what this person believes.

I tell you what I do know will happen this year: there will be countries that in the West we unknown-futureeither do not know or do not take that much interest in that will be at war and atrocities will be committed in them but our newspapers will ignore them; the cost of some things will increase; people we know and love will die – whether friends and family or celebrities; people will marry; children will be born; some will move house and some will stay put; etc, etc. I could go on but won’t. I hope you get what I am saying. There are a lot of things that will happen but we don’t actually know what.

And in all this we have a choice – do we live in fear that things might happen? Do we ignore it all? Do we try and do our bit? Do we believe we can change something? Do we live in peace with the world? And again there are many things here that I have left out. It is our choice what we do and how we think. We can choose to live, as the person who fears all the refugees does make her act in a certain way. We can choose to ignore there are any people in need and that will cause us to act in a certain way.

How will I choose to live? How will you choose to live? As a friend and I were saying soulspark_year_in_the_making_ilo_inspired_edited-1yesterday we need to set little goals and then not beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve them. For me my goals revolve around writing and people. For others it will be other things. I know people who are fired up about politics and that is great and I want to encourage them. I have people due to circumstances who are fired up about disabled – both physically and mentally – people and are doing something about it, big and small.

I believe we need to get up each morning and see it as a blank page that we can enjoy whatever our circumstance. And actually I met with a friend yesterday who has cancer and does not know how long she might live and yet it was the most joyful lunch I have had in ages. Every thing was fun and enjoyable. Yes we did talk about tough things too so we didn’t ignore what was happening to her but she has chosen to be alive for however long she has left. Not Pollyanna-positive, but real, open and honest but living every moment. I have also spoken with other people who are fit and healthy and ok financially and who live with worry and fear.

It is a choice how we look at this year and how we live it out which is not based on circumstances.

Christmas is a good time to think about Words for Well-Being

Christmas is an odd time of the year. It seems to focus so many feelings, and seems to encourage the time to put on those tinted glasses. Not just the rose-coloured ones where montage-1024x812we may view our childhood Christmases or the darkened ones where we may remember things with despair.

For me I think of those people I haven’t received a card from – the sister of my step-father who was always the first card to arrive but she is now dead, the friend of my mum’s who was often the second card to arrive who has had a fall and has been on life support in hospital and at the moment cannot move or speak, the friends who have moved and we’ve lost touch, the family of ex-husbands who no longer keep in touch – and one often wonders if they have died, the always late and badly written card from my sister which of course will  not come now – and never one from her husband who is now remarried or her 25 year old son who is a typical 25 year old boy when it comes to keeping touch. It can bring me down and make me wish I had know when it was going to be those last Christmasses. Would I have done anything different in December 2011 when we’d gathered with my sister’s family? I’m not sure I would have. Would I have phoned my step-father’s sister more often if I’d know when she’d not be with us? Would Christmas 2012 have been any different knowing that by Christmas 2013 by father-in-law would not be with us? To be totally honest I don’t think it would have been.

I had an email from a older friend of mine who says she finds it hard visiting as she sees glass-be-gratefulthe deterioration in many of her friends and wonders if it will be their last Christmases together. So she does make a difference; she makes sure she turns out over the Christmas holidays to see them, puts it in her diary to visit more often, and most importantly is grateful that she is still fit and well and able to get about and prays that it will continue.

So how will writing help? Well instead of bottling up those feelings write. Write to those people who aren’t with you any more – whether dead or alive. Tell them what you think of them and how you are feeling with them not being around. Tell them how much you’ve done in the last year. Read it out to them as thought they are sitting with you. Who knows they might even be listening? Write down all the good things you remember and don’t worry if the rose-tinted glasses are on. Enjoy the good memories. Again read it out loud. Say thank you to whatever you believe maybe listen – God, the dog, the chair, Mother Earth, etc. Write down a list of things you are grateful for this year – even if it is that you can write things down. When you think of the impossible write it down too and again speak it out. There’s nothing journal-writing-2-300x225wrong in hoping for what might not happen but don’t let it make you overwhelmed by what will not be. Write what your perfect Christmas would be then even look at what things you can do to make that happen. Remember that you cannot make everyone cheerful but you can make sure you don’t let their grumps get you down. And if they do take yourself off and write about it.

Make this Christmas a time when you compose some cool poems that talk of the joy and sadness of your Christmas – past, present and future. Use that notebook that some well-meaning person got you years ago that you’ve never thrown away and just write and see how that will change things for you. 3ab6538e0c445f0b29935d3a718972c3

As we were reminded in our Advent reading this morning Jesus didn’t come down to change things but to walk with us in them.

Boundaries!!!

boundaries-2Oh I am so rubbish at setting boundaries. I find it so difficult. Maybe I wasn’t taught well as a child? Maybe very few of us get taught how to do it? Anyway it seems that this is the journey I am on at the moment – learning how to set boundaries calmly and firmly without losing it!

This weekend we’ve had those guests staying that really do need boundarying in. This has been a tough weekend. And today I have had to charge them for staining a mattress. And also when I did challenge them he actually, I felt, was quite passive aggressive toward me. Oh man I found it so hard not to be passive aggressive myself back again and not to say “it’s fine” when they offered to pay for the mattress. So yes I did manage to charge them for at least my cleaning time and didn’t lose my temper. But now I am shaking like a leaf and want to cry. I know its silly. Like this is my house, my business, my life, and I have got myself in a boundariespickle being firm to people in my house. But it was so hard.

Mind you I can think of loads of places where I give in and go with people and then try to put my boundaries in later and really screw up and do the whole passive aggressive bit, or even really shout. Actually it isn’t so much their fault, though I may have felt my boundaries have been violated, but sometimes it is because I have not been clear. Too busy people pleasing!!!

With my new venture of facilitating writing workshops I again have to set firm boundaries or I could easily get either carried away and do too much or not be willing to do something because of someone putting me down. I have to work out my life balance. I have things I have to do and things I can do and I have to learn what I can fit into my day and still be me. I need to also find time to write and plan and also just to hang out.

touch-and-emotions-the-role-of-human-contact-in-healing-33-728There are some amazing books out there about setting boundaries – which I have read – but actually it isn’t till you have to set them, and then have opposition to them that you realise how you are. Oh yes it is easy for me to set boundaries whether with the Airbnb rooms (yes we are up to 2 now) or with the writing workshops when people are playing ball with them, or even if they give them a bit of a push but when I say “No that’s it” they affirm me. The Airbnb guest being aggressive toward me upset me. Not because he had done it but because I realise how fragile I am about holding on to my boundaries.

So this weekend was hard work. I made some mistakes with the guests, with my husband, with myself, but I have learned a lot through it. And for me learning is always the greatest thing. I am not perfect but I am always learning. This weekend was good – even if there is now a horrid mess that needs cleaning!!! And loads of washing that need doing!! And guests that are arriving soon. – So why am I posting this? Because I told myself I need to 44bfb75e506e24127aa42088bd617f89publish something on my blog and so I that is also my boundary for me and my writing today.

(Lots of amazing boundary quotes pinched from various places 🙂  )

Enough Money

enoughmoneyWhat is enough? This fits in with my post on Success a while back.  What is enough money? I have always had enough money. I’ve never been really rich but have been really poor. I was on income support, the lowest level of benefit in the UK and yet I always had enough. It was in the days when one got a giro cheque and went to the Post Office to cash it. I would get it in small denominations and then have pots on shelf in my kitchen for various things; food, rent, electric, other household bills, clothes, books, trips and holidays. Holidays were always quite a priority. And I would put these little sums of money into these various pots and save up. We ate well and my kids were never hungry. I home schooled and they use to have swimming lessons and French lessons and we’d go off on trips and on holidays. In fact during this time we even went back packing around Greece. None of this was luxury. We had a railcard. We stayed in basic lodgings, ate basic food and had some fun. I had enough.

I have some friends who are in their late 40s/early 50s who have never had children, both piggy-bankworked in well paid jobs, have a house with land in Surrey/Hampshire, must have pensions – probably salary linked ones – and yet they worry about their retirement that they will not have enough. Yes they do go on holiday and have nice things but they worry. They don’t have enough. I also know people on benefits who don’t have enough, who get into debt, who’s children go hungry.

On both ends of the financial scale there are those who have enough and those who don’t. In this I am not condemning those with money or those without. Also I have not always been so content with money. There are times I lie in bed and night and worry about whether we will have enough if … And it is that “if”. In fact we were talking the other day and conversation moved round to “we should rent that other room if I’m not working any more.” But he is working and when/if he isn’t then we shall worry about it then. I suspect we will just change what we spend money on.

Well off is a state of mind not necessarily to do with how much money you have. As a follower of Jesus I think I should learn to be content with what I have, generous whether I 77d5537cfb83c3b1e0edb8a96cbe4c06have much or little. I’m not sure I am and sometimes when I have more then I worry about having enough more than when I have little.

What I would love to do is to know how to contain this feeling of satisfaction with what I have but also be able to pass it on to others.

Success …

ea-blog-712x394-success
This blog is about my key to success 🙂 

Success – an interesting word. What is success and how to we measure it? (Yes another deviation from the who am I/what do I do mini-series but this does rather cover it too)

This week I had ran my first ever creative writing workshops. And being me I didn’t start with just one but with 4. The reason this came about was because when I was discussing it I came up with 4 ideas and the woman who runs the community centre I’m putting them on in was enthusiastic for all of them and I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to do. Yes that is a bit of “who I am?” – multi-faceted and not single-focused. And then when I mentioned the workshops to a couple of people one could come Monday and the other Tuesday so … Again that is a bit of “who I am?” – wanting to please people/encourage others, which is very different to a people-pleaser. So there I go from not ever having really run a workshop on my own to running four in a place I’m not really known, starting something that had not been done in that venue before and was a bit different to Zumba, Kick Boxing and Weight Watchers.

So how did I do? Well for one class I got my friend who was staying with me and one other

2012-01-01 00.00.00-8.jpg
Workshop number 2

woman, in the second class I got my friend who was staying with me and two other women, in the third class I got no one but had one and half hours to sort out some room rental bookings, the fourth class had three people in, one of whom has said it is not for her and won’t be coming back – though she did say that what I had done was really good and she would recommend it. So I only took in fees half of what I needed for the room rental.

How do I feel it went? For me it was a success. Why? Because all that attended said they loved the content and would recommend it to friends. The one on the first workshop will come back but cannot commit regularly, the two on the second are committing regularly, and two of the three on the fourth are committing to come regularly. So no one is dropping out – apart from my friend but that is because she lives over 200 miles away – and the lady who is already being published in travel publications. All through I felt calm and confident, felt like I knew my material and was able to explain it clearly and confidently. I want to do it again.

vujxrd
A momentary indecision 

I did on Monday evening have a bit of a dither about whether I should continue in the community centre paying the rental or whether I should have it in my home. The attendees on the fourth workshop very much encouraged me to keep going. So I am going to. I feel at peace with it all and want to carry on.

Success, like Enough which I keep meaning to blog on, are both non-quantifiable. But I think it is something deep inside that helps. In fact the Airbnb guest we have at the moment says that I ooze contentment and appear happy where I am. Ok there are days when I’m not but on the whole I am happy and content where I am doing what I do. Hence the reason for doing the mini-series which isn’t happening much at the mo. But I think this one can be included because “who I am/what I do” is these writing workshops, facilitating others in their writing and CWTP (using creative writing for therapeutic purposes) and feeling successful and contented with who I am and where I am is very much a part of all that.