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Contentment

A poem

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

I know peace, joy, happiness. My life is full. Raising a beautiful daughter who shines. I watch the harbor, yachts tacking back and forth. The water shines as though the sun has cast glitter over it.

I wake to birdsong. How cheerful they are as they greet the new day. I feed them and enjoy how they feast. They bathe in dew, and my bird bath.

I have poor health but am delighted with my life. My work has always been my passion, so fulfilling. I speak three languages and English is not my mother tongue.

I am loved by many and love in return. I agape my friends and the man in my home. I smile and feel friendly to the world.

I have given and been given to. I am blessed to bestow kindness to others. My cup runneth over. I love my God. I am not rich, but I have great wealth.

Published in The Lark

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I Sat Next to My Ex

You could not make it up

Photo by Gavin Allanwood on Unsplash

A few months back, I got a WhatsApp message from my ex-husband. It simply said Do you want to watch Paul’s funeral?

This was not only a surprise, but a dilemma. Which Paul could he mean? I was considering this when another came. Give your details to Kevin and he will send you a link.

This narrowed it down. I responded by giving my condolences and saying I would prefer not to watch the funeral. I was then informed he was still in Ireland. Well, the Paul he meant had not been living on the Moon. I gave my condolences once more.

Then I contacted my daughter to remind her to give her condolences. They were, after all, her blood relatives if not mine.

A couple of weeks later I got a WhatsApp from my ex asking me to have coffee. I considered this. I then agreed. I guessed he would tell me that Paul died of alcoholism.

At the coffee house my ex offered to pay for my drink. Well, he did drag me out to drink coffee. Of course he should pay. That he would not collect loyalty points for me was typical of him.

He started to talk only after he pulled out an old envelope and started to write what he was saying. I asked what he was doing. He wrote that down. He told me he wanted to write what we said. I should have had prescience. Nothing with him is simple since ten or so years ago.

Now, the deceased brother, named Paul for Medium, was a difficult man. He drank to much and behaved very badly at the funeral of another relative. Thus, his siblings decided to have reunions without him.

At the funeral this year, of Paul, the sister-in-law was very cold. My ex said it was because Paul had been left out of the reunions. Like they didn’t see that coming? Really?

It turns out Paul died of a lung disease. So, it’s genetic. This caused my ex to be flustered. Well your Mam and uncle died of it. You don’t see a connection?

My ex was scribbling away.

I was glad to get home. A few days later, another WhatsApp came. Would I like to hear David Sedaris in July. Heck, yes. That would be great. Thank you.

My ex went on to say he had made his peace with his brother, and now with me. My ex thought he had made peace with me? For real? He had often thanked me for bringing up our daughter alone, but never apologized for his bad behavior, his bullying, his carelessness with the safety of my daughter, or anything else.

I said this aloud. My ex then told me I had obviously left the coffee shop with a different feeling that he had. Wait, feeling?

I was then uninvited from the David Sedaris evening and someone else would go with him. I promptly bought a ticket for the show.

On the evening, I somehow turned up slightly late. I then just took the first available empty seat. The man next to me needed a loop for a hearing aid. He didn’t seem to settle. I enjoyed the show. David Sedaris can me laugh anytime. After quite a while, the man next to me got up, and instead of leaving by passing only me, he chose to disturb the whole row. I glanced up as he went along the people. He looked back and I saw it was my ex.

What do you know? My ex carries an offence to the extent of disturbing 15 or so people rather than sit out the show. His loss. I enjoyed it and David Sedaris could make a great tale from this.

The irony. A theatre of 800 people and I sat next to my ex.

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Protest

We unfurl
Day by day
From our birth
Learn to touch
Want to smile
And we laugh
So we grow
World expands

See the sky
Why what how
Start to ask
And we trust
Won’t you shout out loud with me
Why is that, what’s it do
How do you know it’s true
We feel pain
Someone hurts
It’s unfair

We see life
Differently
No more trust

So won’t you scream out loud with me
Why is this world unfair
Why are there rich and poor
Why are some crushed when I am free
We want change
We want light
Equality
So just please shout out loud with me
Let’s revolutionise how it works
Let us all be free
No more poverty

So come and scream with me
Give us equality
We bring peace

Published in The Lark

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Daughter

A poem

Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash

Daughter, seek wisdom above all
Don’t repeat the mistakes of my youth
Yet you are more self-possessed
Than I ever was, will be
You’re cool, a bright young thing
Popular, a blessed child

Not awkward like I was
Shy with nothing to say
Although I could have shouted
From the roofs my manifesto
You are blessed with grace
Talented dancer, athlete
Beautiful to all, my little girl

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I feel so blessed…

I have found the someone described in this meme. Or rather, they found me. My life is so much easier now. Fewer concerns, less worry, more rest.

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Rhythms In My Life

Each of us is unique in how we live our lives. At the beginning, we fit with the family we are born into. As we reach our late teens some of us begin to individuate and find our nuclear family less comfortable, a very flawed parent, being treated differently to an older sibling. We can still remain close to a family member, or wait until the season is right to renew that latent bond.

However, to have a healthy relationship with a life partner we must individuate- we cannot make a relationship in the image of the family we are born into.

Discovering that I did not fit well in my nuclear family was the same exploration of my own values. Many remained the same as my Dad’s with some fine tuning. Every useless thing of my mother was extinguished. Having many loving friends, I flourished.

I sought education that my mother had denied me and the change in me through self awareness and, therefore, growth birthed many healthy habits and living outwardly; for the benefit of others and easing their burden.

I move at different speeds, adapting to each new phase of life. Being single, being married, being a mother, becoming a lone parent, and now an empty nest. My life has always been full as I always volunteered my skills as well as my paid job. I was fortunate to be a stay at home mom, it’s still full time work, but once my daughters were at school I began the volunteering once more. Now I work, and I write here.

My inspiration comes from observation. This was learnt through photography and poetry. Both depict scenes, both are gifted to others.

My work demands that I observe. Especially that which is not seen or heard. Inspiration comes from this too. Adding anonymity makes it a creation, a lesson, a tale.

My speeds vary at this time in my life. I cook simple, nutritious food, I tend my garden, I wander in nature near my home, I am a hostess, and friend. Now I also am a patient needing a prescription.

I am like the Moon. Seen in various forms and pulling the tides.

Published in Know Thyself, Heal Thyself

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Our Only Victory Is Defeat

Before we can change anything about ourselves we must first accept who we are. This was postulated by Carl Rogers,who founded the Person Centred Association, and developed a humanistic approach to psychology named Unconditional Positive Regard. Many people see this and think they know what it means, but they don’t.

If we want to accept who we are we need, first, to realize how we sabotage our self acceptance.

  1. Resistance to how our life is. The cards we are dealt, so to speak.
  2. Having unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others
  3. Confusing our random thinking with values.

Resistance;

We all come with attributes and skills. Also we have negative characteristics. Think of any quality and the possibility of it growing in us is there. Life is like that.

Life also has a way of dropping difficulties in our paths. A bad parent, an abusive partner, illness etc.

The thing about resistance is that the more we do it, the more that thing gets ground up and refined into our lives. More resistance means that that thing overwhelms us. We cannot avoid it. It looms large.

Robyn Norman says; Many of us spend much of our life trying to be somebody we can like, which is terrific. But when we ignore the parts that we don’t like or pretend we don’t have them, they tend to grow and sometimes take over, or show up in weird ways.

Take the person who believes they’re always kind. When they behave in unkind ways, they will fall on the sword to prove that they’re only doing what they’re doing because they love you, or because it makes sense (to them).

Resistance can be rationalization. Like telling ourselves our relationship is not so bad, or work is ok really.

Until we accept that there is a problem, we cannot change it.

Unrealistic expectations;

We cannot place our happiness on winning the lottery, or hoping that our abusive partner will change. Doing such things means we will never be happy.

Confusing our random thoughts with values;

Our values start with what our early caregivers teach us or set as an example. We alter or build on them as we travel through life. Our values indicate who we are and how we behave. However we come by our values or principles, we must be guided by them and not by our thoughts.

Our thoughts can lead us into mistakes. A thought acted on can be rudeness, or an insult. Acting on thoughts can cause us regret.

Robyn Norman says;

When we confuse our random thoughts with values, we can convince ourselves of almost anything. We (need) work to recognize the difference so we can let our values lead the way. And that is the beginning of change.

In order to change we must

  1. Accept the reality we are in.
  2. Keep expectations in within reality.
  3. Make clear what is your value and what is random thinking.

Maturing into the person we want to be means seeing and accepting where we are. Acceptance is key. Only then can we change and grow. Acceptance is the victory of defeat.

Published by The Good Men Project

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An Astronaut Said

an astronaut once said

that if politicians could see

the earth from outer space

they would gasp in wonder

and see themselves futile

dumping of nuclear waste

wars, interventions, non-intervention

the earth was made for people

and filled with good things;

oceans, mountains, trees, flowers

forests, animals large and small

rare and common, fishes

birds and butterflies and bees

lakes and rivers and seas

why do we hate, make war

divide, sanction, abuse, kill

steal, rape, imprison

when we were made to love

and live in peace together

where did all that go

when did it disappear?

Published in The Lark

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How Can I Resent That Which Matured Me?

When I look at a road map of my life, I see a pattern. It is not a pattern like on a rug, which is repeated. It is a pattern of seemingly random decisions. But the thread between is learning.

I was born into a bilingual family, of two countries. My Dad was in the SAS, an elite group of soldiers. I am the second child, and was fortunate that we moved in with my grandparents in Germany soon after my birth.

I was unaware for a long time that my sister had already been destroyed by my narcissistic mother. My Oma and Opa were my primary carers so I thrived, emotionally and physically.

When I was five we went to England with Dad’s posting. I pined for my Oma and Opa and struggled to adjust to my mother.

I did well at school. I was bright. I was athletic. I was pretty. Boys were sweet on me.

I realised after some time that an injury was not recovering. That I was limping. Nothing was found to be wrong. My limp persisted and I began to write with my right hand. I was referred to a psychiatrist.

Two years later I underwent four experimental brain surgeries.. Conscious. I was left with akinetic mutism.

Six years it took me to learn to speak clearly. My vocal chords have never recovered.

My mother refused to support me through college. She did for my sister, who became a nurse.

I took a well paid job and went to college one day a week. That is to say I completed a full college course by attending once a week.

Two years later, I attended a uni which had a very positive ethos. I gained confidence, a sense of identity, some goal in life that was not yet defined. On hearing a certain lecture, I knew my path lay there.

I knew my path lay there

So I moved to Southern California to do my Ph.D. What I learned there is priceless.

Do I resent my mother? Oh yes, I did. But no longer, because I had to detach from her at age 15.

I cannot allow resentment to steal my power. To poison my love. To contaminate my relationships.

I cannot be a good mother if I have resentment.

As for my illness, I resent that people have no idea of the trauma I have gone through. resent that no one knows that I cannot control the volume of my speech; an irritation can at times make my voice rise, depending on other factors. No doctor I meet has ever heard of the disease. I am, as far as I can tell, the only person in the world with this disease and the intervention of brain surgery.

I resent it because I am now suffocating to death. Slowly. But surely. My lungs are impaired. I resent leaving my daughter. I resent not having ensured I have someone to love me until I die.

Unless people read this, they won’t know this. I live outwardly, even though I prefer to introvert. I introvert while planting in and tending my garden. Or while preparing a meal. I read, I watch rugby passionately, I photograph birds, flowers, animals.

My home and garden are my sanctuary, tastefully decorated. I have my loved friends. My Dad died in my arms, my sister too, of sepsis.

Anger, resentments that reside within? No room here.

Published in Know Thyself, Heal Thyself

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Finding Myself

I live my life outward, a choice, as I prefer introversion. I enjoy being responsive to others and being a supportive friend. I am generous by nature, but cannot meet all I would like.

I give small gifts to children I know, and drop a card in to new neighbours to welcome them.

I work from home, for myself, and for the NHS. I love both, and feel appreciated by my colleagues at the ambulance service.

My way to myself, to self-care, to feed myself, is my early rise each morning to water my window box and my hanging baskets which get the most dry. My garden is my me time. I plant, weed, prune deadhead, and water. In dry days, I spend as much time here as I can, whether tending it or being in my swing bench. I designed my garden to be a haven for wildlife.The smell of earth, the fragrance of flowers. Bees drifting…

My garden brings me back to myself: I can forget how gravely sick I am and just be myself. It is free healing and therapy. It is my place for me, and my daughter, and my friends.

Published in Know Thyself, Heal Thyself

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Accepting the Faults of Others

In life we are surrounded by people who have faults. Heck, we are one of them.

I tend not to be affected by people’s faults as I realise they are just humans. A friend is persistently late, so I don’t hurry. Another scoffs at the foibles of low esteem, so I don’t share those things. I know my friends. I know what their weak spots are and recognize they are different to me in various ways.

Of course, I want to be accepted too, and I have many faults. So, we all need forbearance. Only good friends can do this. A flake will push you away, forgetting they are imperfect too.

Really close friends are able to say what bugs them. This is healthy, and we may well be working on that fault anyway.

With colleagues it is harder. I have one that cannot apologize. It is not in her vocabulary. The closest she gets is ‘’I’m sorry if you…’’ which is no apology at all. I don’t mind unless she has greatly inconvenienced me, or insulted me. This occurs a lot so I do feel frustrated — take myself out in the garden, pull a few weeds, water something, and then return to my laptop.

I can accept any fault in anyone except; dishonesty, not keeping their word, and personal attacks. Those are my boundaries.

So when that happens, I must address it. I do this by talking about my feelings. So, I say ‘’I feel …. when you do…’’

I use Do because it separates the deed from the person. ‘’Do’’ may not always be the right verb, so I find another way to separate the action from the person.

Always, I try not to do this in anger. I wait until I’m relaxed and calm. Otherwise, it is simply destructive.

It is best, too, to correct a child without anger. How do we get angry at a child for being a child?

Whilst we must accept the faults of others, we must have boundaries in place.

Published inKnow Thyself, Heal Thyself

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Take Nothing For Granted

All my friendships are unique. Some I see a lot and it may be fairly superficial, but trusted. Some I may see less frequently but it is deep. I have several friendships that are decades old, and have survived several continents, life changes, children growing up and other things that come our way.

This morning, my heart grew heavier when I read the WhatsApp from a friend I had heard from the previous evening, replied to at length, and then decided to wait until morning before opening her reply.

Sometimes, it seems life just puts a brick wall in front of you as you are running along.

My friend’s husband, who is also my friend, has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. You just don’t see it coming. His prognosis is about two and a half years, and at some point he will become completely helpless.

I once knew a teacher in the last stages of MND. He travelled in a camper van on a type of gurney. I was too young to realise the indignities he suffered as a man. I do now.

I was once driven to Gatwick airport by a close friend who had been lent a vehicle. It was a van all kitted out with bed, TV, fridge, and a few other comforts. It belonged to a godson of Prince Philip, who had advanced MS. All he could move was a thumb. My friend was one of his private nurses. She had also nursed Jacqueline Dupres, the famous cellist who died of MS.

I know the heartbreak of losing a much loved family member slowly as disease progresses. It is a relentless grieving, the death of expectations. The deterioration is torture to observe.

We must live life on life’s terms.

That is to say that we learn to accept what we cannot change, and have gratitude for the joys that come our way. A daffodil opening gives me joy,watching a ladybug make it’s way along a stem. The sun catching on water, the bright spinnakers of yachts, birdsong. There are so many things to be grateful for.Today, another friend helped me sort through the family collection of coats that are no longer needed. We talk a lot, she more than me, and she replies to to every single text. This at times drives me nuts but my affection for her is enough to not want to be around her.

Live each day in the moment. Be present. Even when you need a nap, enjoy that nap. Time is not wasted if it is blessing you, helping another, making memories. Laugh when it’s good to laugh. Weep with others who are weeping.

There is a season for everything.

Don’t let yourself down. Stay true to your personal convictions. Tell the truth to your own hurt- that you were wrong, that you did a thing. I don’t mean confessing everything like some blurb, but owning up and taking responsibility when it matters.

Get out there and protest about racism, make changes in your lifestyle to preserve the planet. Ask your friends to do that too, and your family. Plant plants, plant trees, don’t use plastic.

Be ready to leave this earth knowing you are at peace. That although there’s stuff you haven’t done yet, you’ve done good.

We can take nothing for granted. Money can be defrauded from us, homes can be destroyed by fire or storm or earthquake. Health is a precious gift and must be maintained and nurtured.

Our health is mostly determined by our genes. We have a huge gene pool of ancestors. Some genes are faulty and it’s pure chance which ones you inherit. But having a faulty gene doesn’t mean you are bound to get a certain disease, it just means you are predisposed to developing it. There are diseases which are determined by genes and the children of two certain people will have a one in four chance of having it.

Don’t corrupt your body with drugs and smoking. Drink in moderation. Don’t overdo coffee, skip the soda. Drink lots of water.

Love and be kind at all times. You don’t know the struggles others are going through. Smile at strangers, it may be the only smile they get that day. Give a dime to the person ahead of you who is short of change. A young woman was raped and beaten because she didn’t have the right amount of change to buy a bus ticket. People heard her saying she had no other way to get home.

Be soft, not terse. When people tread on your grief and pain, mark it up to experience and be less vulnerable with them. Trust is hard to earn but easy to lose.

Live well. Have character. Principles. Morals. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Speak up for others. Be merciful, because you may need it one day. Treat everyone with respect. Keep short accounts on quarrels, forgive easily even when it costs a lot.

Keep sex special. Don’t treat it like a shoe. Never use anyone sexually. That’s so hurtful for the other one. Sex is not a transaction.

Take nothing for granted. One day it may have all changed.

Published in Grab A Slice