Categories
creativity freedom

Freelancing

Cherry tree with autumnal leaves with moody grey sky in background. 
Photographed by Diane Woodrow
View from my study before Storm Arwen passed by. Photographed by myself

I am very privileged to be able to be a freelance writer and facilitator of writing groups. And as you will see at the bottom of this post being FREE means “enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery:” and LANCE means a weapon for charging in and then piercing.

As you know I’ve been doing lots of inner healing with QEC and other methods. I have also been reading various blog posts. A lot of what I read talks about how when one has been set free from those things that hold us back we will have more energy, be able to be busier, to take on more work and make more money. Well …. I am not sure that’s what the word should mean.

It is a bit like Radio 4 program I listened to last week in which the person was saying how the world “entrepreneur” is being used wrongly – and of how it is used to talk about the “entrepreneur” being a person who is busy, busy and make lots of money. As though having lots of money is the be all and end all of life.

Ok I am lucky that I am comfortably off, have a nice house, a husband who earns a living, etc ,etc. But I have also known a life as a single mum when I have been on benefits and I think it is from there that I have learned that having money isn’t what it is all about.

As I have dealt with more and more things that have held me back from “being me” so I have stopped worrying about my business. And once I stopped worrying, and also only accepting work that fitted in with me and who I am – which has meant having to let go of a couple of things that didn’t fit who I am – I have had work coming my way. But also have had time to be creative.

When I was worrying about my business and pursing work I was not free. I was not directional. Now I am free to be who I am meant to be within my work, my home, my family. I am not in slavery to money, to other people’s expectations, to the have tos of life. I also have a direction – which has meant I can create stories, websites, blogs, writing groups, a booklet for a project – freely and when it works for me to do.

I am feel that since the latest round of QEC that I have stepped out of the slavery of wanting to “be someone” and am free to be who I am which is a warrior pointed in a set direction to encourage others to love creative writing for the sake of writing.

I feel very safe and free with the way my life is and how I walk out what I am doing with being me

adjective – enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/free

noun – a long wooden shaft used by knights and cavalry soliders. Verb – to pierce with a lance.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/lancing
Categories
blessing inconvenience

Inconvenience?

Both the above pictures are taken about half a mile from my house. My town is “on the map” now due to I’m A Celebrity being shot at Gwrych Castle. Both images have had an effect on my town. But it has got me thinking – “what is an inconvenience and what is a blessing?” Or does it depend where you are standing?

The publicity has been awesome. No longer is the town just a sign off of the A55 but is known. We can now say we live in the town where I’m a Celeb is filmed. House prices have gone up, shops have opened, and according to the local council trade has been brought into the town. With people deciding that a holiday in the UK is better than facing the rigmarole of covid testing going abroad it is great to know that Abergele now figures in their choices.

But also, as can be seen from the first picture things are not all flames, fireworks and income. There are footpath closures, pavements blocked, a favorite walk of mine has had to be curtailed until the end of December, and a speed limit of 20mph has been imposed by the castle and 30 along a 60mph road. All to keep people safe. But also inconvenient.

This has got me thinking of how people deal with things they disagree on – not just the minor disagreements in my town but across the world; in governments, with climate change, in businesses, in relationships. How often when two sides to come together to reconcile they actually spend more time putting over their point of view and listening to the other. Or if they do listen it is for just long enough to be able come up with a counter argument. Not really listening to others. Each side would be wanting to brow beat the other into agreeing with them wants to be proved right and the other sides to be wrong. There is no time for understanding.

I think it is why the story in Genesis talks of man eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, because mankind wants to put things in good and bad boxes, whereas if we chose the Tree of Life then, I believe we would hear what the other side was feeling, not just saying, and would try to care more.

As for my town – I love it being a place people now know where it is, I love that things are being done to improve the town, and I hope they continue after covid has stopped being such a big threat and I’m a Celeb goes back to Australia, but also I do find the blocked footpaths and the speed limit frustrating. Is it it good or bad? I don’t think so at all. I am learning that sometimes things just are and I need to accept that.

So my hope is for those on different sides of a fence that they would look and see that on each side there is a human being working through things with their own issues, needs, fears, and desires. Not right, not wrong, but just as it is.

Categories
Godspace World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day 19th November 2021

This post was first published on Godspace.com on 19th November 2021

Being grateful for having a toilet must be one of my passions because I wrote an article for Godspace last year on this–although for some reason I did not post it on my own blog! 

To be honest I do have a bit of a toilet obsession, having suffered with IBS for a time, until firstly I stopped gluten and dairy. I did that for a while and then got into QEC Counselling – which I do know I bang on about but it has changed my life. I do still worry about knowing where toilets are and if there are too many people in the house for the amount of toilets. Yes, it is a thought that passes through my mind. And I am sure I am not the only older person who feels that way!

I met up with some older ladies in the park dog walking the other day, and they were doing the thing old people can be guilty of – saying the younger generation don’t know they’re born lucky- and one of the things was about outside toilets. Both ladies remembered having to go out into their backyards to use the toilet and worrying about spiders and other creepy crawlies. Though both did admit they wouldn’t go back to those days; it is alright to reminisce and look through rose-tinted glasses, but we do all like our inside flushing toilets and do very much take them for granted. 

But imagine not having a toilet at all, or when you did go out to a shared outside toilet there was a chance of being bitten by poisonous spiders or snakes, or for the girls, the fear of being raped. And the cleanliness of these holes in the ground is not good at all. 

The statistics on the United Nations World Toilet Day 19th November website are sobering. 

  • Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
  • Every day, over 700 children under five years old die from diarrhea linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and poor hygiene.
  • 3.6 billion people live without access to safely managed sanitation [There are about 7.9 billion people in the world so that means nearly half of them do not have safe, clean water to drink or hygienic places to go to the toilet – I wonder how they feel about the whole “wash your hands for 20 seconds in hot water” mantra?]

But did you also know that for every dollar spent on hygienic sanitation and clean water $5 dollars gets saved in medical costs? Wow, so little can save so much. 

But it doesn’t only save on medical costs, it helps with productivity in the workplace. Imagine being a woman without proper sanitation during your period or when pregnant! But when money is spent on toilets in the home, in schools, in the workplace, these women are not only safer and healthier but also able to reach their full potential and truly fulfill their role in their society. They would no longer be marginalised, fearful and “unclean”. 

Sanitation is one of the basic human rights recognised by the UN which are not being met in far too many places. Perhaps as we move towards Advent and Christmas we should see how we can help promote human rights in countries that too often get ignored. One way is to sponsor a toilet via Toilet Twinning, and check out the UN website for ways to learn more. Be alert and aware as to how blessed we are in the West and how much we take for granted, and be willing to see what more you can do. 

You might feel like just a drop in the ocean but if all the drops in the ocean stopped being drops then the seas would vanish. If each of us is our little drop then we can change the world. 

Categories
anxiety] Covid-19

Covid Anxiety

Painting of Mona Lisa adapted to have her wearing a mask and holding hand sanitizer and toilet rolls
Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

On Monday I had my first ever PCR covid test. I’d had a hacking cough all weekend and because I run writing workshops where many of my participants are over 70 felt it was my duty of care to get checked. out. By Tuesday afternoon I had a text and email to say that I was negative, which I had expected as the hacking cough/sore throat is a yearly event for me as winter approaches. What I did not expect was the level of anxiety I experienced. This is not that any of the procedure is anxiety driven but there is something in that whole thing of “testing for covid” that caused issues in me.

From the moment I went on to the NHS site to book my test I felt myself start to shake and my chest get tighter. Driving to the test site I felt more anxious than I should have. And then from 1.30pm Monday to 2pm Tuesday I was gentle nervous and felt like my life was on hold. Of course some of that was that I had to cancel a workshop because of waiting for the result and keep the other group poised to wait for my results. I couldn’t go to the shops, though I did walk my dog. My husband started to worry that he would not be able to go away for the weekend. There was a lot of tension in our house that only dissipated when I got my negative result in.

Where did this fear come from when deep inside I knew this was just my yearly bug? I think it came from the high levels of anxiety that have been pumped at us from the media about Covid-19. Yes some of the things are wise advice, like washing hands properly which really we should have been doing anyway, but there has been this fear of “what ifs”. And we do hear of the number of deaths from Covid-19, though interestingly in my piece on The Day of The Dead not one of the people I mentioned had died of covid. Suicide seemed to be one of the big ones but I’m not sure how one tests for that.

So yes I am accepting covid is serious or why would the whole world be in lockdown? I am accepting that we need to do the social distancing and the hygiene things. But where does this level of high anxiety come from? I believe it is because we have been told for the last 20+ months to be in fear, not just of covid but of climate change, of terrorists, of Brexit, of economic crash, of poor government choices and more that when we have to face a PCR test it sets of all sorts of fight/flight triggers. I know it did with me.

So what can we do to change this without living in denial? Because denial is just another fight/flight/freeze/fawn response to trauma. And also how do we deal with this without turning to scapegoating some people group? Watch Ridley Road on BBC i-player, listening carefully to the right-wingers and their complaints. All are valid. All could be said today. We cannot let our anxieties come to this.

I do not have the answer at the moment apart from being aware of the feelings that the PCR test brought up in me and working to stay calm. But it has left me with more questions than answers. But maybe one of them is to Choose Joy?

Categories
choice hope joy

Choose Joy

View of autumnal leaves of the tree outside my house taken by Diane Woodrow
View from my study window today

It is the start of the Celtic Advent. Celtic Advent gives 40 days run up to Christmas and then on into Epiphany. I like it because it gives time to reflect and ponder without some of the same intensity as the Anglican Advent time of just that mad December rush to Christmas.

In today’s reading Christine Sine encourages one to “choose joy”. As I looked out of my study window to the gold and oranging leaves of the cherry tree, my constant companion through all the seasons I think it is easy to choose joy today. It is easy to choose joy when there is beauty just outside my window, when I can go and walk in the beautiful park ten minutes from my house and enjoy the changing colours of the glorious autumn season. But how does one choose joy when life isn’t so beautiful?

Yet even when there is beauty around one still has to choose whether to see the glorious colours or to see that they signify impending death. As this season turns around again it is easy sometimes to see what hasn’t been done – the minimal progress at COP26, the impending next covid wave, etc ,etc. Or the path that was blocked or the job that hasn’t happened or the relationship that has gone awry.

But what is joy anyway? The Bible says “The joy of the Lord is your strength” Note it is the Lord’s joy not you trying to be happy clappy that is your strength. And I think that’s the depth of and truth of it all whether you believe in God or not, that you don’t have to build up that joy yourself but just need to turn to it, to accept it.

I read this from a blog post this morning. It is from Alcoholic’s Anonymous, which I seem to be coming across more and more these days in things I’m reading and I am sharing it with the young Youthshedz people I am working with

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.

Call it what you wish – peace, joy, or as the Youthshedz girls were telling me the other day, hope – but you have to choose to walk in it. It is there all the time just waiting for you to reach for it, just waiting for you to accept it.

I’m learning a lot from these young people who have gone through so so much at such a young age and yet they have chosen hope. Ok so not all the time and they have down days and bad days, which is fine. If we are honest then we all have those days, though maybe not so openly, but they make an effort to choose hope/joy/peace.

So as the tree outside my window will soon cast its leaves to the ground and stand bare before me, even though the joy/hope looks like it has gone, I will, no matter what this next busy season throws at me, choose joy, choose peace, choose love, choose hope. It isn’t going to be easy but if these young people can do it then I certainly can.

Categories
For pleasure writing

Using That Writing Muscle

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

[Writing] isn’t a tender flower that needs cossetting and protecting. It is a muscle that grows stronger with use

Christopher Booker “Seven Basic Plots”

In my writing groups I say that writing is like running a marathon. One has to train for ages and ages, have a plan and a schedule. Stick to that schedule. Know that we could get tired so need buddies to run with. But also know that there are hundreds and hundreds of other people who will be out there on marathon day who will have been training too which means we might not win!

This doesn’t mean we don’t try, that we don’t put in the work. But we need to be like the woman in the above picture – enjoying ourselves as we go. The goal is to finish and to better oneself but also to have a good time

Writing is a muscle one must use regularly. So we do need to put in the time every day if possible. WritersHQ suggest 20 mins per day. We can all find 20 mins per day if we want to. Then we work that muscle. We give ourselves goals of 500-1000 words per day and we work that muscle. From that maybe a novel will appear. Maybe something like The Little Yellow Boat materialise or like my poem. If you read my stories behind those they took a lot of time and effort and using that muscle.

Of all the creative activities writing is the one that fits differently. People go to pottery classes but don’t expect to become potters. People do bead making and most do not set up stalls to. People paint not expecting to set up a gallery. But many people come to writing groups expecting to be published. It is a great goal to have but I do believe that first and foremost one needs to be working that muscle and enjoying the process, producing lots of work that sits in files on the laptop or in notebooks in boxes under the bed.

Yes I do know that if you go to pottery or art or beading groups you can make Christmas presents for friends and family and with writing groups it isn’t quite the same. Though I often write one of stories or poems for friends and family and think I might start doing it more often.

But I do think writing first and foremost has to be for fun, for exploring ones own thoughts, feelings or as I did with a story about a terrorist, entering someone else’s thoughts and wondering the why of what they do. Winning a competition or getting published being a lovely outcome but will not come without working and working at that writing muscle – a muscle that includes editing and reworking as much as the process of writing. The Bell Jar is only 6 lines long and less than 80 words. It look me three weeks of editing and reworking to get to the point of sending it to the competition. This is why I had to enjoy what I’d writing and enjoy the process of editing it.

So when I say to groups make sure you write for fun and that most of what you do will sit on your laptop I want to introduce them to the reality of writing.

On another ponder – which I will not answer – I wonder why so many people will say to someone who write “what have you published?” when they wouldn’t say to someone do went to an art class “what have you sold?

Categories
Day of the Dead grief loss

Day of the dead

Conwy Beach in October 2021 with the sun trying to break through the clouds and rise. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Conwy Beach – October 2021 – 7.35am – taken by myself

I had been planning this blog post in my head for a few days as I am learning how I need a special day when I can honour and remember those who have gone before me. Then Sunday on Facebook was a post from a friend that appeared to be saying that a mutual friend, someone who had supported myself and my husband through a time of grief, had died. Then Monday there was an email from another friend to confirm that this lovely man had had two or three heart attacks on Saturday and had not recovered. It is a reminder that death comes suddenly to anyone and seems poignant that Nigel is the first person I will mention in this post and the most recent to leave this world. He was an amazingly pastoral person. I can still picture him keeping a straight, kind face even as our puppy drank his cup of tea whilst he was praying for us, or crawled on the back of the couch behind him and rolled downwards into his neck. Those are my big memories of Nigel. And even as I pray for his family – wife, children and grandchildren – I can still smile at that memory from nine and a half years ago.

My first death that really affected me was also my first suicide. He was my boss and we went to the funeral as an office group. No one knew why he had taken his own life so we sat with pints on the table and talked of the good things about him, of which there were many. Pat taught me that people are more complicated than the novels I was reading.

My youngest death was a lad whose parents had asked my boyfriend and I, both of us in our 20s, to be the “responsible adults” at Simon’s 18th birthday party. We were very honoured. The next time we saw his parents was 10 days later at Simon’s funeral. At 18 and one day Simon had gone off on his brand new motorbike with a friend and been impaled on a lamp post. He left me with a memory of seizing every moment because of never knowing what is round the corner.

Around this similar time my grandmother died. But I had lost her around twenty years ago when she had endured a major stroke and never really spoken again. With her I learned that grief is complicated and can arise many years after the loss.

My sister’s death was more complicated but that was the relationship her and I had; complicated. But for fifty years of my life she stopped me from being an only child. I miss having a sister though I am not sure I miss her per se. Again a lesson in how complicated relationships are.

I miss my friend, Felicity. Tthe more I delve into my own writing around Welsh Medieval history the more I wish she was still here to read what I was writing. It was with her that I explore historical novels and authors that we both adored.

Our friend, Jon, took his own life just after my sister died. Even though I still have time being cross with him for his decisions I can still laugh at silly dinner party conversations we would share which would drive the rest of those at the table into frustration. One that comes to mind today is of us in fits of giggle talking of how those who built Stonehenge managed to get the stones from Wales by strapping sheep together into fluffy rafts and placing the stones on them to drift across the Bristol Channel.

I cannot end this list of names without mentioning my father-in-law. Another one who chose to take his own life but even still I will remember him as the man who welcomed me into his family, when I started dating his son, knowing that because of my age and that I already had two teenagers I would not be blessing his son with children that would carry on the family name, and of how he publicly called my two teens his grandchildren.

I am not going to list all those that I have lost because there are many and I do not want to forget any. Friends, family, colleagues, and more besides who left this world in many different ways – suicides, heart attack, cancer, accident, old age, and other ways. These today are just a snapshot of my life as well as theirs.

Each person that I have know, those mentioned by name and those not, have affected my life in many different ways, and still do even today. I’ve learned so much from those I’ve known, about life, about myself and more. Even though I grieve for the fact that they have died before me I am grateful that they were in my life for however long or short the relationship, however deep or trivial.

So I will continue to allow people close to me even if it means there could be pain in ending because life and people are too rich to not walk with for however long. This is my post to honour them