Categories
journaling writer

Looking Through The Garbage

Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on Pexels.com

About three weeks ago I had a QEC session and my counselor challenged me on journaling. She said it was like putting all your stuff in the rubbish bin and then going back to check what you’d put it. I have journaled on and off for most of my writing life. I would say that it is where I explore my thoughts and feelings and with my pen come up with a plan for what to do with what I feel. Her challenge was that a feeling is a feeling and a situation is a situation but that with QEC we’re putting new beliefs into my world about how I am.

I have been going off on walks, just me and my dog, to places where I won’t see people to chat to, and I write. Some of which I have written up and can be found on My Writing page under the heading Artist’s Date Inspirations. From these random writings I come up with interesting realisations.

Yesterday I had been upset by something and reached for my journal to unload but stopped myself. I decided instead to use a postcard and write a short story which I have called “Autumn Foretells”.

Here is the postcard I used which is totally disconnected from anything that was going on yesterday

. Through this I was able to vent how I felt, explore thoughts and ideas and come to a point of being calm and relaxed. It is an interesting story and can be found on My Writings if you wish to read it. Note it is not true

So I did not look back through past events, did not explore how I felt and why, but took myself off on a creative writing route that did not “look through the garbage” and I felt much fresher and freer afterwards.

I must say when my counselor mentioned I did only slightly agree with her and also did not want to break a habit of a life time. But of course that is what QEC is all about – breaking those life time habits that we have brought up so we can be free to truly be.

I wonder what I’ll use as a prompt next time??

Categories
Lord's Prayer Trust God

All About Titles

maize field in the foreground, a row of conifer trees then rolling hills and onward to Snowdonia national park. Sky is cloudy with patches of sunshine. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Looking into Snowdonia. Taken by myself on 16th August 2021

So I will end this run of four thoughts on The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name” I’d love to do a straw poll and find out how many of us cringe a bit when we feel we have to call God Father. I know my hand would go up. I’m not just thinking of my own father but of many other fathers I know who struggle along trying to do the best for their kids but carry so much of their own baggage that they don’t really know what “Father” actually means.

So I start my prayer by saying “To the all loving being who inhabits both the heavens and the earth, who made it all, and all that it is in it, whether the created acknowledge their maker or not. To the connected universe that holds all together and lets all move freely. To you I open my heart today because you are immense and amazing.”

Ok so it is a bit more long winded than the words we read in the Bible. But again I think that is because, for the gospel writers, it was obvious who they were connecting with, and obvious what they and others believed and expected.

In my journey with God I have come to see prayer more and more as not an asking thing but a connecting thing, and so I have to ask myself “what or who am I connecting with?” which is why I have the long opening. It is for me and not for God. God knows who God is. God doesn’t need telling, but I do need to realise the enormity and amazingness of God.

I think often our prayers are for ourselves. So we pray for those we love because it helps us cope with what they are going through. Yes I do know and believe that God answers prayer and intervenes. I also believe that God intervenes without our prayers too. I know prayer is important. But I think we often do it for our peace of mind too. And I believe that when we connect with God, the Maker of the Universe, through prayer or mediation or centering, or whatever we want to call it, then we connect with something higher, wider, deeper, more all knowing than we are.

To gain the real amazingness of prayer we need to also trust that we connect, that we are heard, that we are part of something, that we are co-creators of the outcome. Even if the prayers aren’t answered as we would like.

I like stories to confirm things so … I offered to pray for a lady in the park because her father had been taken ill. Her father died two weeks later. She told me that she knew I was praying because she felt such peace through it all. I didn’t give her peace. I didn’t stop her father dying. But what I did was connect her and her father and her family with The Amazing Power and Peace of God and let things flow as they were intended.

The outcome isn’t my call. My call is to prayer, connect with my Heavenly Savoir, and trust that things will go as the Universe believes to be the right way with peace.

I have to end by saying I think prayer is amazing and I need to remember to do it more often during the day as it changes me and my energy as much as it changes things I pray about.

Categories
God's Kingdom God's Will Lord's Prayer

Connected Wills

Picture of a wall and a shingly beach, looking across a stretch of water to Anglesey and the town of Beaumaris. Taken by Diane Woodrow
From Abergwyngregyn nature reserve looking towards Beaumaris. Photo taken this morning, 16th August, by myself

My third day of thoughts on my version of The Lord’s Prayer. Today is “your kingdom come, your will be done” to this I always add “in my life and my world.”

Is this a selfish, egocentric attitude? I think it depends on how you view yourself and your connections. For me I see myself as connected to others who in turn are connected to others. For instance, lady in the park told me that the random conversation we had the other day, which brought back memories of her going to Paris with her late husband, made her day and that she was able to cope with a shop assistant who was a bit stressed. I didn’t even meet the stressed shop assistant but my connection with a fellow dog walker supported that shop assistant. And who knows what the kind words from the from the dog walker brought to the shop assistant and so on and so on

Also I am coming to believe more and more that the energy I give out – whether negative or positive, fearful or safe, joyful or angry – affects those around me and again then affects those they come into contact with. It is a bit like my understanding of chaos theory – of how a butterfly flapping its wings in a forest can lead to a hurricane somewhere else in the world! OK for all the scientists who follow me this is a my simplified version!!! 🙂

Maybe me being kind to people and doing my best to walk with an energy of trust, peace and joy, can lead, one person at a time, to peace in the Middle East, which if boiled down to its basic level is people being afraid of people and what they can lose.

I suppose this comes full circle back to believing I have enough, which can even lead to knowing I have lived long “enough” as have those I love. [Of course I don’t want those I love to die in pain but I have to be ready to let them go when the universe says “enough” on their time here – but that’s for another blog!!!] But if I believe I am living in “enough” and that I am walking out God’s Kingdom and Will in my life/my world, then I do not need to fear lose or fear getting it wrong, which brings me back to “Forgiveness” of myself and others.

Makes you wonder sometimes if the Lord’s Prayer was written upside down and should have started with “get ready to forgive yourself and others, trust there is enough to go round, and believe you are doing your best to work out God’s Will and Kingdom in your life and that this will affect others”.

Just a thought!!!

Categories
forgiveness Lord's Prayer

Letting Go

Reeds round the edge of local Abergele pond blown flat by a storm. Photo taken by Diane Woodrow
Reeds blown over in a storm at my local park. They were all standing up right the following day. Very much a bruised reed he will not break. Photo taken by me July 2021

So to carry on with my thoughts on how I am praying The Lord’s Prayer at the moment.

The reason I’ve picked this picture is that when we judge ourselves and so don’t forgive ourselves, we are like these reeds; knocked over, lying flat, struggling to function. But, if we tune into what I believe Jesus is trying to tell us in The Lord’s Prayer, we will recover, stand up again, and be all we are meant to be.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” we recite. I need to forgive me before I can forgive you. Jesus talks about judging others and being judge, which I think goes with this. And it isn’t God judging us or not forgiving us, but ourselves. I don’t believe I follow a judgemental God but I do believe that I can be a judgemental person.

Here is a trivial for instance of me being judgemental. I used to judge what people were wearing so if I had to go out with the dog when I was still in my pajamas [he won’t pee in the garden so sometimes if he’s bursting he has to be rushed to the small patch of grass at the end of our road] I would be convinced people were looking at me and judging me for being in my pjs. I’m not sure anyone noticed or cared. But it did mean when I went out I was often looking at what people were wearing, but now I’ve stopped looking at what people wear and judging whether it is the “right” thing to be out in, and so this morning when I had to rush the dog out I didn’t think what anyone would think of me.

But also the “forgive myself and forgive others” thing is also that if I can’t forgive myself for screwing up I am not able to forgive others for it. So in my morning post-yoga praying I adapt this line “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” to “help me to forgive myself through today as I screw up, which I know I will, and help me to be kind to others who will also screw up, upset me, hurt my feelings or generally do something I don’t like. Help me to keep short accounts and keep my heart open to knowing when I’ve not forgiven myself and also have allowed someone else to upset me” It is all a bit long winded and I can see what the gospel writers shortened it. But actually for me I see the lines in The Lord’s prayer as almost like journal prompts to lead me to something bigger and deeper.

Also starting the day like this means I do spend my day being able to forgive others quickly because it is already in my head.

Categories
enough Lord's Prayer

Enough

Trees fluttering and dancing in a light breeze last Sunday afternoon. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Dancing silver birch trees in my local park. Taken by me 8th August 2021

Enough! How often do we start our day believing we have had enough sleep and will have enough time to do all that we think we have to do during the day? Very rarely I would say.

Too often we wake thinking we haven’t had enough sleep – especially if we are menopausal women who have restless nights, or have babies that keep us awake half the night or more. We then look at our “to do” list and think we don’t have enough time.

For me this contentment with “enough” comes from Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” book, QEC coaching and also really praying the Lord’s Prayer after doing yoga most mornings.

The “give me today my daily bread”, for me, can only come from a place of “enough”. But that was not how I was taught this prayer. I was taught it from a place of “lack”. A place of begging God to “please give me my daily bread”. Believing that unless I really asked God properly I wouldn’t have enough to make his Kingdom purposes come!

I have now started praying “help me believe I have all that I need, my daily bread allowance, to do all that I am meant to do today” or “thank you that I have already got all that I need for all that I will be doing today” or “I start today grateful for the daily bread I have been given for my day.”

It is a knowing that I have already been supplied with “enough” for today; whether that is energy, time, patience with others, grace, food, etc. Even those I meet will be part of my “daily bread” for today; people who enrich me, that need me, that I need, that help me and I help. All are part of my daily bread. And I come from knowing that I have enough to give and to receive all through the day.

It also means that at the end of the day when I’m tired and don’t feel like doing the washing up and can’t read as many pages of my book as I would like that is ok. I’ve done my “enough” for today and it is ok to curl up and go to sleep. I can end my day feeling grateful for what I did and knowing it was all that I was meant to do for today.

Categories
Celebrating enjoy ageing

Rites of Passage

Photo of rows of Victorian grave stones taken by Diane Woodrow
Cathay’s Cemetery, Cardiff. The largest Victorian cemetery in Wales and third largest in the UK. Taken by me on 11th August 2021

I have been reading some books by Dr Martin Shaw on rites of passage and his ponderings on whether this is one of the problems with young people today.

I became 60 in May and, as I have mentioned before, feel like I have stepped into a new place, a new season. It feels like a very clear demarcation between my 50s and my 60s. I now own a bus pass which means I can travel anywhere in Wales for free on the bus. Ok so this does take longer but it is still a thing. And I have just bought a senior railcard which gives me 30% off journeys across the UK by train. I went to Brighton to see a friend and saved the cost of the railcard in that one journey. Very clear rites of passage.

When I was 18 I did not have any of those things. Yes I could legally drink alcohol, but I had been doing that for the previous three years so nothing much changed there. I did get to vote the day after my 18th birthday so that was a something. But very much else changed for me. Most of the things I could do after I was 18 I had been doing previously. So yes I can see why I didn’t feel any change at that age.

Then one just sort of potters on through birthdays with people either saying you are “x years old” or that new and, what I find infuriating thing, people saying you are “x years young”. To my mind that is stupid. I feel much more content in being 60 years old than in being 60 years young.

We went to see Ben Elton on stage before away before lockdown and he was talking about how one likes to say “I still feel like I’m 25” and he got his usual Ben Eltonesque irate about it, and I do agree with him. I don’t feel like I’m 25. At 25 I was insecure, scared, full of issues, doing many self-destructive things, trying to find out who I really was, and much more, but now at 60 I feel settled and secure. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I no longer beat myself up about being who I am. I like myself, which I didn’t when I was 25. I think I would be sad if I still felt 25, also because I’ve experienced another 35 years of life which has alter and changed me and my views.

I do think we need to bring back some rite of passage for younger people where we can release them into the big wide world. And I do think school which runs into university, with the much needed parental support, doesn’t help our young people be released into adulthood. But maybe we need more than a graduation ceremony. Maybe we do need a rite of passage.

But also let us acknowledge, rather than be ashamed, at the rites of passage that come with growing older – in my case the bus pass and railcard – and enjoy them.

No matter what age we are rites of passage as we age and grow are important.

Categories
change New Season

Preparing For This New Season

This post first appeared on GodspaceLight on 10th August 2021

Picture of  looking towards The Great Orme taken from Morfa Conwy by Diane Woodrow



Conwy Beach, July 2021. Taken by myself

Godspace there of Gearing Up For A New Season got me thinking about what that means to me.

At the moment none of us really knows what this New Season will look like. With global warming our seasons are all over the place. Over the last month here in North Wales we have gone from 17C to 32C and now it is 13C. The only type of weather we haven’t had over July is snow, but we’ve had blistering heat, pouring rain, hail, funnel winds, and gentle sunshine too.

At one time when schools restarted the pupils would have had time at the end of the last term to go check out their new classes or new schools and have met their teachers and even started making friends, and be prepared for their new season. But due to covid many were isolated before the end of term, or discouraged to be anywhere other than in their regular classrooms.

For me personally I can feel a new season starting. Since published The Little Yellow Boat I’m being called a professional writer, which has led to me being paid to become part of a long term youth project. I am also setting aside regular times to write, both in my beautiful study or out on walks. Yesterday I went to the place in the picture and wrote.

But still the question is – how do I prepare for this new season? How do I gear myself up for it? What will it look like? Or even should I be planning? Check out my blog “Intentionality written in pencil

So whereas once we would almost know what this new season would look like with Covid, with the extremes of weather, with new projects, with different working conditions, we cannot predict how things will be. Tom Sine does a good attempt to explore the themes of these changing time on his blog – NewChangemakers

As the saying goes “change is always with us” but it feels like as things start to open up, even with cases of Covid continuing to increase, there is nothing solid to hang on to. I am grateful for my faith but even with that, although the Bible says the Lord is the same today, tomorrow and yesterday, my relationship with God and how I see my faith have changed.

So what are the concrete things I can hold on to as I gear up for a new season? And what can I share with others?

For me the big one would be that God is God and is always there no matter what goes on, no matter how much I change, no matter what goes on in the world. And that God wants the best for me and so, if we work together I can grow more flexible, more trusting in God, more deeper in my beliefs of knowing God is watching my back. You know I was going to write stronger but I felt like flexible was the word. We talk a lot about growing stronger as though that is a good thing but I actually think that if I can get more and more flexible then I will be able to roll with the seasons, be blown by the winds of change but not fall. I think to be more flexible I need to have roots that go deep and I think for me as I gear up to this new season, whatever it is going to look like, I want to send my roots deep into my Saviour, Maker of the Universe, and just trust that what will come my way, however it comes, I will remain with my Saviour.

Categories
qualifications skills

Qualifications

Bath Spa graduation bear belonging to Diane Woodrow on her graduation in May 2014
Bath spa graduation bear on my graduation with a 2.1 in History and Creative Writing – May 2014

What is it with qualifications these days? Everyone seems to need them for whatever they do and I think from that we give too much importance to those who are able to gain the qualifications and those who have the skills but either not the academic ability or just haven’t had the time.

The reason I am pondering this at the moment is to do with my work with Youthshedz. Two of the people I work with have both said to me on separate occasions “but I’m not a youth worker”, meaning they don’t have the qualifications. I’ve done a lot of youth work in my time [and still don’t have the degree for it] and have worked with some who have degrees, Masters and even PhDs in youth work, and yet these two people that I’m having the privilege to work with now have such skills with the young people, such empathy, life skills and life experience. Both have got stories to tell of their past and remember what it is like to be young. They aren’t doing youth work to these young people but are down with them, learning along with them, getting their hands dirty, seeing their own issues and changing as they go. The young people love them, respect them and want to be with them. To my mind if that isn’t qualification then I don’t know what is.

But I do think since Tony Blair’s “50% of the school leavers will get to University” bid back in Sept 1999 did so much harm to learning. It put qualifications on a pedestal. No longer a place for those who are very academic and want to study a subject to a higher level, but an expected place for all young people and a failure if they don’t reach it. But also it said to everyone else who, like the people I am working with, that if you don’t have the piece of paper then be careful what you say you are.

As you can see from the above picture I graduated in 2014 after my son had left home and my daughter was in her first year at university. I didn’t intend to go to university, but I loved it and gained much from it. I have since gained a PGDip in Using creative writing for therapeutic purposes, which I use the concepts often in my writing workshops, and have completed two years of a Celtic studies MA, looking at Medieval history and literature in Wales and Ireland, which I incorporate into my writing. What I noticed when I was doing my BA was that so many of the mature students were totally paranoid and fixated about getting a first, yet when I talked to people who had graduated before me they were saying that employers looked highly on mature students even if they had only gained a third because of their life experiences.

It is not the piece of paper that makes you good at your job but your experiences. Yet unfortunately it could be that piece of paper that gets you the extra money. Please can we go back to valuing the skills not the ability to pass qualifications?