Categories
Faux Pas Lord's Prayer

Faux Pas

Desolation and lone footprints. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Footprints across a deserted beach taken by myself March 2022

Why is it that it is so much easier to remember one’s mistakes and faux pas than one’s triumphs?

Yesterday I was chatting with a fellow writer and something slipped out of my mouth that I did not mean to say. He was a bit irritated by it at the time but I apologised and the conversation resumed. All the way home in the car I was waiting for my friend to say something about the gaff I’d made, but she never did. All she wanted to do was talk about the serendipity of being in the building at the same time as this person she knew through other outlets. And we twittered on about how amazing life can be, etc, etc.

But still when I was out with my dog walking I could feel the embarrassment of it. As I pondered by reaction rather than what I’d said I realised that it was actually my autonomic nervous system [ANS] that had gone into fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode and I needed to calm down my “meerkat” panic.

So as I walked I pulled my ANS back into a calmer, relaxed place via things I’d been taught via QEC – telling my ANS to realign – which is just says “ANS come back into alignment“, repeating “I’m safe, you’re safe, we’re safe” thus convincing my subconscious that there was nothing to worry about, and also being grateful – for the encounter with the fellow writer, for the time with my friend in the car there and back, for the joy of walking my dog. By the time I got home I was calm.

Even as I write this I can feel myself laughing at what I said, because it was daft and out of order, but I do not feel that awful grumpy-dragging-me -down-ness that I have felt in similar situations before. I can see it as a mistake I made and that I have learned from but not an “end of the world” thing.

It has made me wonder how many times I may have not done something, or even done something, because I was in that heightened “meerkat” mode – fearful, hyper-alert, anxious – rather than acknowledging it, taking those breaths, realigning myself and being able to let it go. Because that is very much what I did – let it go.

It also made me think of the lines in the “Lord’s Prayer” – about forgiving and forgiveness. Too often we are ready to forgive others but how often do we forgive ourselves. Or even how often do we say “Lord, forgive me my trespasses” but we are not willing to do it ourselves – thus making us bigger than God???

So as I realigned myself, stepped out of my fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode, I also forgave myself for what I’d said and have been able to get on and do things – which today have involved sending a proposal for some work and entering a writing competition. I have moved on from my faux pas!

Categories
Castle Security trust

Castles!

A castle in Gwynedd, North Wales, photographed on my husband's birthday in June 2018. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Dolbadarn Castle. Taken by myself June 2018

Last night I had two dreams with castles in them. I have looked up what “dreaming about castles” means and there are many different interpretations. Then I journaled around and about castles for myself.

I’ve had a few things going on recently that have left me a bit insecure and I think that might have been the reason for the dream. I want something safe and secure – for myself and my loved ones. But being a medieval historian as well as a writer I know that castles aren’t as secure as one would like. It is a perceived security not a real one.

A castle could be besieged; wall dug beneath and weaken or surrounded and wait for the occupants to stare or throw in contaminated meat and poison the occupants. Castles weren’t as safe as one would have liked them to be.

So I wonder whether sometimes we try to build things like castles – boundaries, walls, barricades – in our hearts, lives, work, relationships – to try to keep out the things we perceive to be bad and keep in the order of things we perceive to be good. And it is our order we can contain within our castle walls – when not being besieged. But all we are doing is exerting our control because of our fear and lack of trust in ourselves, others, the Universe, God. But all of these things need lots of maintenance and effort. And all can be destroyed.

Even though I think in my heart I want to build strong castle walls to keep myself safe and to exert my control on the things I know, even though it looks strong that it is in fact fragile. Instead I need to be in the open, be free to the changes of the seasons, trust in those around me, trust in God/the Universe, let go of fear.

If I do this I can be free to run in open meadows not trapped within castle walls. It may seem more scary out there but in fact, if I can trust then I can be free

Down on the Abergwyngregan coastal path. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Categories
Resist Submit

Submission

Sea birds that were calmly feeding on a sandbank flying off as they submit to the incoming tide. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Seabirds submitting to the incoming tide. Taken March 2022

Submission is something that is often preached on, especially within the “Wives submit to your husbands” [Eph 5:22] generally meaning “wives do what your husbands tell you.

I read this quote by Shams of Tabriz when I was reading “Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak a while back and it got me thinking

Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission a power that comes within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

Rule 34

This got me thinking. Submission is not about obeying and doing what you are told but able accepting the situation, of staying tranquil when all around you is falling apart. It is finding something deep within and living calmly.

Then this verse from James popped into my head. My son learned it by heart when he was about five and would shout “flee” at the top of his voice at the end.

Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee

James 4:7

James is actually talking about how people should stop arguing with each other, stop being proud, stop needing to be right. For him the “devil” was the thing in side which makes as do things that upset others and upset ourselves. So if we submitted to God, that calm space within us, and also if we believed we were loved unconditionally we would not need to be angry, not need to fight, not need to fear, not need to be prideful, have nothing to be anxious about. We could go to that place that Shams talks about the divine essence, the tranquility within.

So how do we do that? I am going to sound like a worn out record but I do think it comes from slowing down, from not rushing into doing or saying things, acting not reacting, which I think comes from not thinking we need to be busy busy busy all the time.

We accept. We breath. We allow peace to come from within. And once we let that out then we can submit in all situations because we are allowing something bigger than us to take control. Submission is like trust. We can submit if we trust that something bigger will support and take care of us. Only then can we “resist the devil”; the sum of all our fears and anxieties.

Categories
lent meditation Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero – 24th March 2022

From https://www.mccrimmons.com/shop/church/st2e-oscar-romero-cross/

Today I’ve been asked to share a meditation for our church’s Lenten Zoom sessions. The readings are from Galatians 3:26-4:7 about how we are true heirs within God’s family, all fully adopted and all equal. The vicar also put up a reminder that it was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero, a Catholic priest in El Salvador who was shot for preaching about corruption in the government and how the government and army were killing poor people to get rid of them.

As I read through the verses and thought about Oscar Romero I wondered how often we see God as the one who answers all our prayers if we are really part of his kingdom, if we pray enough and in the right way. But are we really willing to stand up for truth and justice even if it means we could be killed, our families harmed, what we hoped for never happen in our life time? Oscar Romero was willing to. Oscar Romero died for it. But then again Jesus did all that his Father asked of him and look what happened to him. How often are we willing to step out and do what is right even if if has dire consequences?

Here is the PDF of my meditation for Thursday 24th March

I hope you enjoy spending time reading it. I know it has challenged me and I hope it challenges those few who turn up on Zoom today

Categories
Bodies Listening

Our Amazing Bodies

Photograph of the highest point on the walk I went on testing my endurance. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Above Abergwyngregan taken by myself 22nd March 2022

I am always amazed at my body when I listen to it. At the point when this photo was taken my heart was pumping and my breath was ragged. But that is to be expected.

I had chosen this path on a whim, though had had a bit of a look at the map the day beforehand, and I had walked the opposite way with my husband many years ago. But as I was going down the path from this point I noticed the pylons and I was very high above them. I could see the popular path to the waterfalls way below me but things seemed all wrong. So I sat down, got out my phone and tried to work out where I was. I couldn’t get a good signal and started to panic. I was on the top of this mountain surrounded by sheep and thought the path I was on could be wrong. My heart started racing and my stomach cramped and then my legs started to ache. I was at a point where I could convince myself that I could not go on. So I remembered my QEC work, got my autonomic nervous system [ANS] away from fight/flight mode, listened to my heart, put my phone away and continued along the path. This was about 45 minutes into my walk. The path curved left in a while and I went under the pylons and along to the waterfalls and back to my car.. I had been on the right path all along.

But what surprised me most of all was that as soon as I got my ANS calmed and started walking again my legs stopped aching and I did the next 75 minutes of my walk with not an ache. The pain in my legs was due to my fears. Interestingly my sister-in-law says she knows when she is nearing the end of a walk, no matter how long, because her legs start to ache. I know it is often seen as a form of encouragement to say “nearly there” but maybe that makes our bodies start to ache thinking we are nearly there.

I remember years ago when some famous politician’s car was blown up in the tunnel under the Houses of Parliament. One thing he said after was that even though he could not feel his legs he believed that no major blood vessels had been damaged and that he would survive. He said he had seen many young men on the battle field die because they had believed the injuries were fatal when they weren’t. Ok so different to my aching legs from fear that I was on the wrong path but also similar.

Another interesting thing with my body is that from Thursday or Friday I felt short of breath and it stayed with me till Monday. I even did a covid test to check I was negative. As you know from the My Sister post it was 10 years ago that my sister died. Well also 10 years ago a really close friend committed suicide. Eight years ago this same time period my son broke his collar bone playing rugby. Six years ago the same weekend my daughter had a major break up with a boyfriend and I helped her move from London to Cardiff. And then of course 2 years ago this self same time we went into lockdown. It was only when I was catching my breath at the top of yesterday’s climb that I realised over that whole period of last weekend I was holding my breath waiting for something bad to happen. Nothing did so now I can breath again. Again fascinating how my body remembered those incidents and was preparing itself.

I do think too often we are too busy and don’t listen to our bodies. Or we have so many other things piled around us that our heads are making too much noise to be able to really listen. Listening to our bodies takes time. Listening to our bodies means slowing down. Listening to our bodies takes understanding. Listening to our bodies means not judging them. Listening to our bodies means having a sense of awareness. It also means not being afraid to look back and ask “what happened then?”

I know this is a question I keep asking but – are we willing to slow down and really listen? to ourselves and also to the world around us?

Categories
family Menopause

My Sister

Photograph of my sister doing what she loved best, being with horses, probably over 30 years ago!

Today is the 10th anniversary of my sister’s death. She was working as groom at an event, went to the bar that night, had a few drinks, took the wrong exit from the bar. It was pitch dark and she feel into a drainage ditch. Why she went out the wrong way and why no one stopped her going that way are questions I know I have often asked.

But my sister was no saint. She wasn’t one of those people who with all honesty we could say, as you see on too many headlines, was the “salt of the earth”, “made everyone happy” and those other sugary headlines. My sister was hard work. I have memories of her telling me off for rolling cigarettes in a pub on the edge of Virginia Water. I was in a grunge phase at that time. She would tell me I was bring my children up wrong.

When she died she was going through a very public and acrimonious divorce which she was conducting on Facebook accusing her husband of many things. True or not true we will never know. She would also phone me up and scream at me down the phone telling me what an awful wife I was being. She was hard work.

I think observing other women who hit menopause and go suddenly really strange that she was going through some major hormonal imbalance due to menopause which no one ever picked up. Or if they did she never told us. I have other friends, who are no longer friends, who just changed personality in their 40s, totally altered their belief systems and way of living, accused their partners and others close to them of the strangest of things. Something odd goes on.

Again I do believe that with a lot of “women’s issues” that they are dismissed, not looked into closely, or like many things that involved our minds and emotions, are feared and not looked at as they should be.

I do believe we need to start looking at the menopause and the change women go through at this time in more details. There needs to be real help available and we need to talk about it. Though as I know from my daughter it is only now that we really talk about periods and the changes that go on in adolescence.

So we need to get this conversation out in the open. We need stop hiding behind what appears to be some medieval superstition about menstrual blood. These are major changes that go on not just with a woman’s body but with her mind and emotions too. Let’s get this out in the open. And I’m afraid ladies that is going to be up to us to be more open, honest and real about the s**t we go through.

Categories
Albert Einstein daydreaming

Albert Einstein

Picture taken from The Guardian online from March 2015

It was Albert Einstein’s birthday yesterday. If he was still alive he would be 143!! For me Albert Einstein was the archetypal mad professor with the wild white hair, the grumpy face and that he did some amazing scientific things.

This morning I was reading an article about him and this open paragraph struck me.

Albert Einstein was allergic to authoritarians. His dislike of dogma, playful nature, and ability to constructively concentrate let him visualize unorthodox ways the universe might operate. Some of these proved to be true. Daydreaming his way to deeper understandings was his superpower. It can be ours, too.

https://www.space.com/albert-einstein-social-justice-modern-world

Daydreaming his way to deeper understandings was his superpower. It can be ours too” I know that in this article it probably means in scientific discovery but to me we need that deeper understanding in so many things in our world today – with Russia and Ukraine, with global warming/climate change, world poverty, racism, sexism, wars, hate, etc. As we pray do we just pray peace or do we daydream to deeper understandings of what the solution could be.?

As a creative person it made me wonder how often I stick to the status quo not being will or able to daydream to a deeper understanding. Not being able to write to a deeper understanding.

Ok so I’m not going to do some of the amazing things that Einstein did but I can daydream to deeper understandings and from there I can pray in deeper understandings. When things settle between Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world do we want it to go back to the status quo or do we want a deeper understanding of peace, of the whys of the war, of the whole situation?

Actually this phrase “daydreaming of a deeper understanding” fits in with my prayers this morning which were for the “wounded Russia bear”. So now I will add to what came to me this morning and pray in deeper.

But also we can all take this into our personal lives. I’m sure few of us have perfect personal lives but to know that I could “daydream to a deeper understanding” of my life, of my next steps in my life, in the situations within my family, my friends, my town, etc is exciting and to me continues my thoughts on Praising when Life Is Not Fair and going onwards from there.

So let’s keep away from the herd mentality, keep away from dogma, be playful and remember that daydreaming isn’t just for children, but that it could change our understanding of our world.

Categories
Courage faith

Role Models

Picture of a path through the woods with the sunlight peeking through. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Picture from my morning walk – 14th March 2022 – taken by myself

I was reading Jon Kuhrt’s blog on Herd Immunity this morning – [and I know I use parts of his blogs often, but that is because what he writes resonates with me. I would suggest everyone sign up to follow him.] It was the part about Courage and Faith that I pondered as I was dog walking this morning, and of how to be able to live in Courage and Faith we need to have role models to help us walk it out.

The picture above is of a walk I used to do regular but then, for some reason, I got nervous climbing up the steep track to get to it. Everyone who climbs it says they get out of breath but for some reason I decided it was beyond me. Also there are loads of lovely walks around me that I could do so it wasn’t a great hardship. Then on Friday I met up with a friend for a dog walk. She lives at the bottom of this hill so suggested going up there. And we did. And I realised why I loved going so much – the trees, the light through the trees, the peace, being above the town – and so this morning my dog and I went up there. And we loved it. But we needed that supporter, that role model to encourage us back up.

But that was what got me thinking about living in courage and faith and not getting caught in herd immunity. If one has always been brought up with being fearful, of not stepping out, of not disagreeing with people, of believing what is taught or told from the media, of believing the world is dangerous, of deciding that God only answers prayers if they go a certain way, even that God isn’t quite to be trusted, to never say No because you need to be a “good girl”, to always need friends around you whether they enlighten you or drag you down. All those things encourage people to live in fear, anxiety, distrust, doubt, and feel safe agreeing with their herd, their tribe, their group.

But if one doesn’t have a role model to help your live in courage and faith one can swing in the opposite direction. So when one has been told not to disagree and wants to breakaway then one can swing to being angry and argumentative and always defending their point of view. If one wants to breakaway from being brought up not to trust God or others, and that the world is a dangerous place, one could swing so far the other way that it becomes a blase, “Pollyanna” way of life. If one has been brought up never to say No and wants to change from that, one could move into always saying No even to good things. If one been brought up not to be courageous then one can step out and take too many risks and get hurt or hurt others.

So we need to have role models to help us walk courageously along the path chosen for us. We need to have role models who model true trusting faith in a mighty creator who loves us unconditionally. To find them we need to be bold. To find them we need to test if they are what they say they are. To find them we need to not follow the herd to next big name, the next big issue, the next big thing.

We need to test the waters. We need to be bold enough to look within ourselves. We need to be healed from the need to follow the herd, to be safe with a crowd. That is not to say we need to be on our own but we need to be with people we can be ourselves in all our fallenness and that we can accept their fallibility.

We need to not be swayed by the waves of media which feed our fears but be bold enough to really listen to what God/the Universe is saying to us. Then we too can be role models to others.

Categories
honest Praise

Life Isn’t Fair

plants struggling to break through the shingle on a beach somewhere taken by Diane Woodrow
Scottish beach – Sept 2019 – taken by myself

I’ve just written an email to some people in my writing group about another member of our group telling them how ill she is and how fast she has deteriorated. It has been therapeutic to me to put all that in words to them but has left me going “life isn’t fair”. Here is a lady who was intelligent, articulate, neat, tidy, organised, independent, one of those women one wants to be when one gets to late 70s/early 80s. Yet over the last few months she has lost weight, lost confidence, lost her independence, now needs her daughter living with her, is refusing to wear clean clothes and even has lost power in her voice. The medical profession doesn’t know if it is physical or mental – my thoughts are probably both – but all they are doing is throwing pills at her because they really do not know what else to do.

What do we do when life isn’t fair? Where do we go? In Joel News they are sharing about Ukrainians praying for peace and praising God though all that is going on, of Yuriy Kulakevych, a national leader in the Pentecostal church in Ukraine sharing about amazing events and miracles There is so much in this email that I would love to share it all but I won’t.. These people are being amazing at focusing on praising God and not bemoaning their circumstances.

I shared the email with a friend and this is what she said –

I think the first thing is positioning ourselves before God with honesty and gratitude then change follows….I remember praising God very intensely a couple of years ago when I was depressed, and became closer to Him/Her than ever before.

Response from a friend that I shared the email with

So my thoughts are when I feel life isn’t fair I need to move into being open and honest with God and then being grateful for God, for the things within the situation, then just praising God for being God not for what is going on, then waiting on God/the Universe to wrap me up and hold me through it all.

Stories about these Ukrainians are not unique. In most places where there are really awful things going on – war, persecution, hunger, poverty, sickness – many, many Christians turn to praising and being honest with God and then they themselves change within that situation.

All I can say is that if they can in their situations then I can in mine – with my friend, with my fears, with everything – I am going to praise God

Categories
adventure heart trust

Trust Your Heart

Picture of my favourtie beach - Conwy - with my dog, Renly, rolling in the sand, happy to be alive. Taken by Diane Woodrow
My dog rolling in the sand on Conwy beach Feb 2022

How often do we trust our hearts? How often do we hear our hearts? Like really hear them?

This is a picture of my dog listening to his heart. He has such joy every time we finish up on a sandy beach and will just throw himself to the round and roll. The first time he did it we thought he was having a fit but now it just makes us laugh. We laugh because he is so joyful when he does it. But my reason for putting up this picture is that, I believe, if we all listened to our hearts more we would be more joyful and so would those around us.

So how do we know what our hearts are wanting for us? If you search “heart” on my blog you will find 68 blogs that mention heart. Hearing your heart is something I do keep coming back to. I suppose because it is something I have been learning more and more to do and getting such joy from it.

It is one of the reasons I didn’t post yesterday even though I had said I would attempt to blog through the whole of March. Something didn’t feel right about what I was thinking of doing and so I just left it. I am learning that I don’t need to know why my heart feels that way but just to trust it.

It does means slowing down a bit. It does mean trusting that I’m feeling and hearing. It does mean being willing to go with it too. No point hearing and trusting and not doing. Though the other day my heart was really telling me not to do something but it was something that I felt I could not get out of so I went. Once there I knew it wasn’t where I should have been. Things were out of place and chaotic. Yes I was able to support someone who was struggling with the situation, but actually my time would have been more wisely spent in not going. Of being brave enough to just say “I’m not going to make it this time”. Also at the beginning of the week my heart said to text a certain person I hadn’t seen in ages so I did and it resulted in a lovely walk in the woods and a good natter. Shame I hadn’t been brave enough to trust my heart and the not going.

I will try to keep up my month challenge of blogging but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up about it but will trust my heart that I am writing what I am meant to be writing when I am meant to be writing it.

Be brave and try and join me – not in blogging every day but in trusting your heart for each thing you do. To me that is true adventuring.