Categories
healing Remembering scars

Scars to Remember

St Asaph taken by me May 2022.

This tree has been here for about a year now. It was swept down by the floods but it is there as a reminder. At a similar time I had a bit of a mishap on two different youth events. In one I opened a heavy firedoor across my foot and then at a different youth event the following day I feel over going uphill. Both very painful at the time. I still have a scar on my left shin from the fall and a deep line up my right big toe nail. Neither hurts now but both are very clearly still there.

It got me thinking about scars and healings. As you know I have been through quite a bit of QEC healing sessions and have swept out a lot of stuff, but sometimes things trigger a reaction from me and I realise that although I am healed the scars are still there. They are fading and don’t stop me doing things as they used to but it is like there is a reminder. And sometimes it is a good thing. It also helps me to know why I am reacting in a certain way.

For instance because I do walk round in bare feet a lot – hence the name of business BareFoot At The Kitchen Table – I do see my funny toe nail. It has made me more cautious when I open doors. I see the scar on my leg and it reminds me of how clumsy I can be at times too.

When I react to something and acknowledge my headed scar on my heart I can understand what has gone on. I can also remind myself that I have been though healing for that.

I was talking with a friend around this yesterday. We have both been involved with young people and we are both Christians. We were saying that too often we expect people to forget their scars, that to be fully healed means to not have scars. If that were true why then did Jesus show his scars to his disciples? Jesus came back with a scared body even though he was fully healed. I don’t fully understand all the theology around the cross but I do know that Jesus was scared, Jesus died, Jesus rose again, Jesus still had the scars to prove awful things happened to him. Why do we expect to be any different?

So if you or I still have scars that is because we have been through stuff and have been hurt. That does not mean we have not been healed. But I do also know, with the insect bits around my ankles at this time of year, that if I keep picking at those scars they will not heal. So we need to let God through whatever means they know best – whether direct intervention, whether Christian healing, whether things like QEC, whatever – heal us, and help us to leave our scars alone so that even though they may still be visible they are no longer causing us pain.

Categories
creativity kindness

Feeling Uncreative

Taken in my own garden in North Wales of my little old cat Damson. Taken by myself Diane Woodrow
My cat in my backyard – June 2022

What do you do when you’re feeling uncreative?

I’ve got loads of books on my shelves on the subject. I’ve got loads of emails filed away. I’ve even got my own prompts I could work with. But when I’m feeling uncreative I “can’t be bothered”.

I’m wondering now if this post should be called “Can’t be bothered” because I was pondering writing this when I bumped into a dog walking acquaintance who started the conversation off saying about wanting to be motivated but ended it with “I know but I can’t be bothered.”

It seems to be a thing with lots of us at the moment – “can’t be bothered”. Is it covid, lockdowns, change, anxieties of this shifting world, getting older, or something else?

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what it is it is just an “is”. I don’t know why I’m feeling uncreative but I just am. It could be that I am feed up for not having any freelancing work to do, but lots in the pipeline – which really isn’t much help. It could be that the novel I’ve been plodding on with 1000 words a day has suddenly become a chore. And actually when I read back through it this isn’t just me being negative but I have lost all the depth of intrigue that I had in those beginning 10-20,000 words. It has gone stale and is starting to look like I’m just rushing to the end.

But actually I do do something when I am feeling uncreative and “can’t be bothered.”

I am kind to myself. I let myself be – not in that negative way but in a way that says “this is how I feel at the moment. It won’t last forever.” So the other morning I sat in the backyard with my book and enjoyed the cat looking at the flowers. Today I took myself for a long walk and coffee not for the benefit of finding something creative to write about but just to let the wind blow through my hair. I accepted that this is where I am at this moment in time. And as a friend used to say “These things will pass”.

By being kind to myself hopefully these feelings will pass, hopefully in a couple of days I’ll be able to look at my story again, in a bit I’ll be able to do more than read and play solitaire.

So my advise to anyone whether it is just a feeling of “mmuuuggghhh” or something deeper than this – be kind to yourself, accept this is how you are at this moment in time and know that “these things will pass”. Also don’t be afraid to tell others whether it is by talking or writing. As the old saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved” and I think that doesn’t mean the person you tell has to help you sort it out but it is just about being open and honest about how you are at this moment in time.

Be bold, be brave and be honest.

Categories
Alignment heart

Heart of Stone/Heart of Flesh

Stone pillar, Isle of Lewis. Taken by myself May 2018

My husband and I were discussing the whole thing of the heart of stone which God changes to a heart of flesh and I got to thinking. We have always either been taught, or picked up, in our churches that a heart of stone is something that is hard, feels negative emotions, etc, but that a heart of flesh is joyous, happy and only feels positive emotions – which sort of takes us back to the good box/bad box idea which I looked at a bit in Two Trees. But I don’t think that’s right. See I don’t think following God should be all happy clappy everything is wonderful. I think if we feel that way than we still have that heart of stone.

A heart of flesh is vulnerable, feels things, notices things, is flexible, is free to experience things not encased in boundaries. It is free to be flexible and go with the flow. A heart of flesh will feel hurt and pain, will feel sorrow and anger. It will of course also feel joy and love, carefreeness and happiness. It will feel all these things to a much deeper level that the heart of stone will. But it does not mean it will be pain free. In fact it is the heart of stone which will be more pain free because it is encased in something solid and safe.

I often wonder when we first get to know God and try to follow Jesus that we get confused when we get angry, get hurt, feel sadness, feel pain. I wonder if we try and fight our way of out it. There is a Bethel song that says “sing a little louder” and of singing in the middle of the storm, etc. But what if the pain is too deep? What is you don’t want to sing? What if you just want to curl up on God’s lap and lie there? What if God just wants us to curl up on their lap? What if God doesn’t want us to sing a little louder but to quietly walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

Your heart of flesh is going to let you know what to do and when to do it. I’m not saying it is wrong to sing loudly when things are tough but I think to only do that if your heart of flesh is wanting to. But if it is hardening of heart around what is really going on then that isn’t accepting the heart of flesh God wants you to have.

A dog walking friend was moaning about how at her young niece’s funeral the pastor said that God taken this young girl because he wanted her to live with him. My friend was so hurt that her heart has been hardened away from God. But I do wonder if the pastor was hardened too. If the pastor did not want to weep and bemoan the loss of someone so young. Sometimes it is ok to be angry with God, to shout at them for allowing something one doesn’t like to happen.

Life isn’t all great and plain sailing and with a heart of flesh it will actually be harder. Your heart of stone can protect you whereas your heart of flesh can let you feel. Your heart of flesh can let you full experience what is going on around you, let you be honest and open with yourself and with others, and with God. The heart of stone will keep you safe and closed and maybe not that much help to others.

The heart of flesh will feel the so called negative emotions as much as it feels the so called positive emotions, whereas the heart of stone will keep you safe. The question is – what would you prefer?

Categories
connecting mental health

Psychological Privatisation

Jubilee Beacon, Pensarn, Conwy

I came across this idea from a Writer’s HQ newsletter and cannot find where to find out much more. This phrase “psychological privatisation” comes from Mark Fisher, who wrote Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, which I have not read but it is the quote from Goodreads and the paraphrasing from Writers HQ then what happened with the majority of the Jubilee beacons that got me thinking.

Disclaimer – I am not being negative of the Jubilee beacons. I think they were amazing and I loved both the turn out in my town and the whole concept, and the video by George Frost which I have taken this still from. I just think with all these things combined they are saying something about the times we are living in.

So I’ll start with the quote from Mark Fisher that was on Goodreads

“Instead of accepting the vast privatization of stress that has taken place over the last thirty years, we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill? The ‘mental health plague’ in capitalist societies would suggest that, instead of being the only social system that works, capitalism is inherently dysfunctional, and that the cost of it appearing to work is very high.”


https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9807275-instead-of-accepting-the-vast-privatization-of-stress-that-has

Or as Jo put it – and I paraphrase the paraphrasing –

Work and life demand too much of us so we are exhausted so we don’t ask our fellow human beings for help, for a better way of doing things. Instead we “try to make ourselves more efficient, push ourselves harder, buy into mindfulness and productivity strategies”, journal more, “and think the problem lies with us and not all the bullshit going on out there.” So we try to be “better” humans, more organised, do more, go faster, earn more, use our leisure time more “wisely”, then all would be fine.

All this stops us being more creative with our solutions and also more connected. It affects our mental health, leaving us more depressed, more anxious, more insular. It also, because we are tired, causes us to accept this crazy status quo and not be able to look for something different. Or even see that this is not working

So then along comes the Jubilee beacons. Now beacons of old were to send messages between communities either to say the enemy was in sight, a monarch was on their way, or as was had a long the North Wales coastline – a series of beacons that said a certain ship had been sighted off the coast of Anglesey and was on its way to Liverpool docks; that it had made a successful crossing. Beacons were for connection and for “passing it onwards.” The ones that happened on 2nd June all did happen at the same time with the same tune played and the same words said. Brilliant. But our little beacon did not see any other beacons and could not be seen by any other beacons. Also once everyone started to go home it was turned off and the burner taken home. There is no residue of a bonfire on our beach, whereas in times past these beacons would be left to burn out so everyone had a chance to see them.

I have a vague memory of lighting Jubilee beacons for the Queen’s 25th Jubilee, but they involved climbing to the top of a hill where the beacons of old were light and then the beacons were light one after the other. It all does happen very quickly.

But I think these beacons this year were a sign of how we are less connected at a deeper level. We are tired after the long pandemic, Brexit, strange election results in this country and the US, a war in Ukraine, the instability of life. Even with regard to the monarchy there is an instability. the Queen is not going to live much longer and then what? We don’t know. And when we try to talk about it we talk without listening.

I think the beacons were a sign. They were wonderfully organised, were efficient, used people’s time “wisely” but actually did not connect one community to another. At least not in a deep, supportive, holistic, “we need to change what we’re doing” sort of way. No trusting each other to “pass it on”.

Categories
freedom Inspiration writing

Aspirational Writing Group

Yesterday was my regular writing group that I run. I was a bit disappointed because only two ladies came – though this had led to me deciding to change venues and return to running the groups around my own table. My business name is Barefoot At The Kitchen Table so running it at home is probably where it is meant to be.

So I decided to make the most of the area around the centre I’ve been using and the lovely weather and sent my ladies outside to gather ideas for a poem along the lines of how I write poems. Note my PDF on this.

They went outside to get some notes and then I worried that they would get bored. Above are photos of my ladies engrossed in their writing and note taking. They came in reluctantly. They had enjoyed their 10-15 mins that they had had outside listening and looking. Mindfulness?? Maybe!

They both said how much they had needed this and then thank me. It gave me such joy to know that I had been instrumental in helping them have a lovely afternoon. It also reminded me why I run these groups. It isn’t to make loads of money but it is to encourage others to enjoy writing as I do and connect with each other and themselves.

Here is what I wrote from the afternoon too – dedicated to my two lovely writing ladies, Dot and Vivien. And also to those who usually come but didn’t make it.

Clinging, creeping ivy wraps round fence and post and thoughts

Trying to drag all down with the help of self-conscious chatter.

Yet the dappled leaves illuminate the lady writers

Unhindered they scratch and scribble away.

Lost in the moment as they soar

Creating freedom in their written words.

Categories
Holy Spirit Limpet

Blown By The Spirit

Photographed by myself, Diane Woodrow, whilst I was walking the dog this morning. It was from here that a poem emerged
Abergwyngregyn nature reserve June 2022

This morning I did my regular walk Abergwyngregyn nature reserve. I do this every couple of weeks. It is close enough to home but far enough away that I don’t see anyone I know. It also has a great dog friendly cafe in the village.

I walked and made notes and something about the limpet shells floated past me so I took some photos of them. Since publishing Inspirations From Walking in North Wales and getting such a positive response from those who bought it at the Abergele Arts Festival last weekend, I have been encouraged to work on a new collection.

So I had a few words and ideas about these limpets. I’ve recently done a QEC session around holding tightly to cliques/groups/tribes who are not good for me. So even though these thoughts were not foremost in my mind because when I do this walk I can just let my thoughts wander these things joined together.

But then what came next was James 3:8 where Jesus says to Nicodemus “The wind blows where it wants, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.“. This comes after Jesus has told Nicodemus he must be “born again”. It is interesting but I have heard many preaches about being born again but very few of being blown wherever the Holy Spirit wills.

But as I pondered the limpet, the letting go of being in toxic groups and of being blown by the spirit, I came up with this poem

No longer holding tightly just to survive

Letting go was not as painful as you thought.

You drifted for a while until you came to land.

Now you lie and let the elements do their work on you.

Day by day, week by week,

with scrunch of food and pound of wave

slowly you are changed.

Then one day you wake and find you are small grains of sand.

It is then and only then

that the wind can pick you up

and blow you where it will

Too often, I think, we wonder why we are not freely flowing within the Holy Spirit. But I do wonder if that is because we are holding on to tightly to the rocks and things like limpets when in fact we should be letting the Creator of the Universe do their stuff and change us into something small enough that can be blown by with gentle wind of the Spirit.

Categories
poems Self-Publish

Inspirations From Walking in North Wales

Front cover of my book of poems Inspirations from Walking in North Wales. Photograph from above Aber Falls taken by myself, Diane Woodrow
This is the front cover of my book of poems!

I decided to have a go at self-publishing last week. Man, it is hard work. It took about 20 hours to get the poems all collated, into a PDF, and uploaded on to Amazon’s print of demand page. It is now available on Inspirations From Walking in North Wales for £5 per copy. Though the book is longer than I expect but that is because I’m not good at checking sizes. I would be the person who bought a cheap chest of drawers on ebay only to discover that it was for a doll’s house!

I’m not a great fan of Amazon but, after doing a wee bit of research I decided this was the easiest way to get it out there. I do still need to sort out the e-book but even the support blogs I’ve been looking at say it is difficult.

So why did I decide to go for self-publishing? Those who know me will know I am a bit snobbishly anti-self-publishing. But this weekend coming I am part of the Jubilee Arts Festival Abergele/Gŵyl Gelfyddydol y Jiwbilî Abergele. When the organisers first told me about it they asked if I’d be willing to read some poetry and it was whilst planning that the idea came to me to sort out a book that I could then sell. I am now running a writing workshop instead of reading poetry, which is great but the book is done.

I must say I am very proud of it and I would recommend anyone to do it. It is free to put together – just taking up my time – and I can purchase ones at author’s rates. But because I left it so close to the festival to sort I have had to buy a full price copy so I can have something to show for it. But others are on the way. And I’ve also put together a flyer to share.

I have gone from being anti-self-publishing to now being a bit more pro it. I have a great sense of satisfaction for now seeing my poems with the photographs I took with them [some of which can also be found on My Writing page] in a proper book.

I love The Little Yellow Boat as I would my first born but that was a collaboration and a bit scary because I wanted to get it right for the illustrator too. But then also I think I’ve had a bit more healing of issues to do with success and things like that which probably helps. With Inspirations From Walking in North Wales I feel a bit more confident, a bit more assured, and also dead proud that I have done this on my own.

So from being a “don’t do it” I would say “give it a go” and see what your work looks like in print.

Categories
peace Transition

Transition

Photograph of Pensarn beach taken one warm evening by Diane Woodrow
The shoreline is always a place of transition. Taken by myself May 2022

I’ve just read this great article from Godspace about Transition and creating healthy boundaries for it. Whilst reading it I got a bit grumpy about how easy it is to create these boundaries when you are in control of the transition – which is not what the article says but what my brain decided to put in to wind me up because there had just been a transition within our family that I had not been brought into the discussion about and which, though not out of the blue, had wobbled me a bit. Only a bit.

But then actually if one reads the article without that grumpy, poor me attitude then it is about having things in place for when transitions come so one doesn’t get wobbled by them. I won’t go through each one but to say that it was the last one Transitions cannot be rushed that really got to me. But once I had calmed down – which involved taking the dog for a walk in the rain. And I do think there is nothing quite like North Wales drizzle to sort one’s mood out. Or at least it always works for me.

I came back realizing that even though the family members appeared to be rushing the decision they had probably been talking about it for a while. Just because my counsel had not been sort for whatever reason – and that is another thing – don’t go second guessing other people’s reasoning for asking or not asking for you counsel. That is very much a “grow up and get over it” that we have to say to ourselves and our attitudes when it comes to our children, I think.

Another aside – why is that often we find it so hard to see that our children have grown up and don’t need us to ‘parent’ them any more? Thoughts for another post one day maybe!!!

Anyway just because someone else is transitioning doesn’t mean that I have to go so fast. I can sit and ponder their decisions, their transitions, and I can slowly allow their changes to seep into my consciousness. And also though their lives are changing mine is staying the same and slowly but surely as I adjust to their changes I can allow their transition to become my transition.

I found this all very exciting. Sometimes though I do wish I didn’t have to have a grump beforehand. Though, and I know I keep pushing it, since I’ve been doing the QEC work around my issues, hurts and past traumas so I have found the grumpy times are getting shorter, the wise voice is coming in sooner and the peace is deeper.

So now as I process this transition – among the many other transitions that have gone on in these last couple of years – I feel a profound sense of peace. It is not my decision to decide someone else’s lifestyle choice, whether they are family or friends, and that really does give me enormous peace.

Jesus said “my peace I give to you” and as Naked Pastor said about love so I think is true about peace. It is all around us and there for anyone but we do just have to open ourselves to it. And being grumpy does stop that peace.

So as I transition into my family transition so I lean into that love, take it slowly and all that “peace that transcends all understand “to guide my heart and mind [Philippians 4:7]

Categories
Book Review Remembering

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

I read a lot but don’t often do book reviews. My local library tries to encourage me but I don’t. Some of the reason for that is that I got into a “doing mentality” with reading. I did the “Read 100 books in a year” and was posting them on Instagram. But it became a task. It also meant I did not want to review them as I didn’t have time as I needed to be reading the next book to get to my 100. Or with me to read more than my 100. Always have to pass the goal!!!

But now I’m just reading to enjoy. Some books too I don’t even try to finish. If they aren’t holding me then they can go. It is releasing.

This book The Sentence by Louise Erdrich though really affected me so I wrote a review for my local library which is here

But it is the last page I am holding with me where Tookie says

Together we straggled through a year that sometimes seemed like the beginning of the end. A slow tornado. I want to forget this year, but I’m also afraid I won’t remember this year. I want this now to be the now where we save our place, your place, on earth. Ghost bring elegies and epitaphs but also signs and wonders. What comes next? ….

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich page 374

To me in the reading of this book this is what I felt – that I have tried to forget 2020 and fears and anxieties. I had forgotten the #blacklivesmatters. Things move on. I have forgotten. Do I want to remember? Yes because if I forget the bad, sad and mad then I also forget the good, the miracles, the wonders. And to remember one I do have to remember the other.

And I would love all that has happened and is happening – the pandemic, the wild fires, increasing climate changes, the Ukrainian war, the impending economic crisis, the backward steps in Western governments, the continuing racism, etc – for this to be the “the now where we save our place on the earth.”

Categories
Endangered species day Godspace

National Endangered Species Day 2022

First published on https://godspacelight.com/2022/05/19/national-endangered-species-day-2022

Taken by myself at our local park

The 20th of May is Endangered Species Day, another of those days put on to calendars to help one focus on something else. But I wonder how often we see ourselves as an “endangered species,” especially when one sees the cries coming from certain Christian elements in the US around the potential lifting of the laws to allow abortion. 

That is extreme but I wonder how often when we see polls saying numbers of church attendance is decreasing, an increase in various ethnic groups, and a rise in the voice of LGBTQ groups, that some think that we are endangered. When we feel endangered we act in fear, panic and anxiety. It does not make us nicer to be around but makes us harsher. 

The focus is meant to be about endangered animals, insects, flora and fauna, with the hope that we will care about our earth, our environment more. But if we are feeling endangered then we won’t want to do that. We will want to build our walls higher, make our voices louder, our weapons stronger. 

Yet Jesus tells us that when we feel threatened we should “turn the other cheek”[Matthew 5:39], that we should “love our enemies”[Matthew 5:43-48]. He tells us not to be afraid and to trust God in all things. As Francis Spufford says in ‘Unapologetic‘ [and I paraphrase], one of the hardest things about Christianity is that it isn’t about following rules but about our heart attitude. And our hearts need to be trusting God, need to not be filled with fear or anxiety, need to be open to God and listening fully. 

When the natural world is endangered it cannot get itself out of the mess humankind has got it into. It needs that self-same group, humankind, to make the change. But also sometimes with other people, they need to shout to be heard and need to get other people to help with the changes. So when we hear people of different “tribes” to our “tribe” shouting loudly because they need to be heard instead of shutting our ears, building our walls higher, etc we need to stop and listen. We need to really tune into what they are saying, listen to their fears, but also listen to our fears about why we have reacted as we have; of why we want to not listen, feel fearful, want to push the oppressed group down further. 

Unlike the natural world we are the ones with the power to change and to make a better world. We do not need to react. We have the God-given power to act and act in a way that is beneficial for all. But only if we stop hardening our hearts, unblock our ears and really listen to the world – human and natural – and follow God’s true leading in how to act. 

Taken by myself on a beach walk early one morning