Categories
change grief

Nation in Mourning?

Photo of tree in Pentre Mawr Park, Abergele photographed by Diane Woodrow
Berries on a tree in my local park photographed by myself

This photo shows Autumn is coming

I haven’t posted for a while, and it is interesting to realise that my last post was about People Pleasing. After I’d posted I then went on holiday to Cornwall for a week, then the week I came back I had signed up with the Professional Writing Academy to do a week of podcasts to do with the craft of writing, which made for a very full week around everything else I was doing. I still have to catch up with some of the podcasts I missed. And then the Queen died so the blog posts I had in my head haven’t yet been written.

It is hard to know what to write when according to all UK media the nation is in mourning. I am afraid I’m not. Well not in mourning for the Queen anyway. I do feel for her family and I think she did some awesome things. I am probably nervous that it is another change. The end of an era. I very much think it should be marked. But I am not sure if this is the right way when so many are fearful and wondering how they will keep their homes warm this winter.

I, personally, am sad that the Queen felt that she had to work right up until two days before she died. I am not sure if this is a good example to others. I think we are often pushed too hard into working a lot, into even when retired still doing many things. That this is where are identity comes from in what we do. There is even a group called. Rest Less which is about making sure you keep doing more as you age. I often wonder if it would be more beneficial for the country, for the world, if we learned to actually do less rather than do more, if we could accept ourselves as we are and not have to rushing about doing things.

Note I am not against doing things but I think too often many people are busy doing rather than being so that they don’t have to catch up with themselves.

The Queen has now been replaced by King Charles who is 73 years old. He should be settling into a nice retirement where his grandchildren come first, fun holidays come second and pleasing himself comes next. But he will be expected to work until he too dies. Is this really a good example?

There is much I could say about privilege, entitlement, the cost of the country, this economic time, but I won’t. As I have said on and off during my posts, I have had to deal with grief of various kinds and I am also grateful that I never had to do mine in public. There was not going to be a headline if I laughed when I was expected to be sad, or did things that others thought were not right during their own period of grief. So for that I will not say anything. And I also think the media should get on and do something else rather than following this grieving family.

I do think this country needs to mark the end of an era, needs to pray about what comes next, but also needs to let this family deal with losing their matriarch. But also remember she was 96. She was an old lady.

The loss of the Queen is a thing but it is not like losing a child or a friend who died do young. Or even of grieving the loss of a relationship, a dream, a home, a job, etc.

Perhaps we need to put the loss of a 96 year old head of state into its right place?

Categories
change expectations

Changing Attitudes

Last night we started watching Liar on Netflix and it made me realise how much women’s attitudes to sex on a date have changed – for the better.

Synopsis – A teacher goes on a date with a surgeon and accuses him of assault the next day.

When I was dating 35+ years ago I know me and my mates would half expect that we would have sex at the end of the night to “pay for the night out” so to speak. That didn’t mean we were compliant but just that we almost did not respect ourselves. I know that if many of my generation had woken up the following morning, like the Laura does, and believed we had not given consent but had been raped we would have just got on with our day. We would not have gone to the Police. Possibly even would not have told anyone. It was just what happened.

Even though the series looks as if it will unfold into something much deeper for me I am hooked by the way Laura stands up for herself. But also that her sister, Katy, at least in this first episode, is willing to support her. I know that even my most caring friends 35+ years ago would have just told me to get over it.

In fact I was assaulted by a boyfriend, and quite badly knocked about, and was encouraged by my boss, a Turkish hotel owner, to go to the Police about it. It did go to court but only because I had a lovely female Police officer who would not let me drop it. But the judge’s verdict was that it was my own fault for staying with this man. I’m not sure if things have changed that much there!

But for me it was seeing Laura, and I’ve seen too with my daughter and her friends, that many of them will now say ‘enough it enough and we expect to be treated with respect’.

So even if the many attitudes have not changed I was encouraged to see the protagonist in this series and also what I see from my daughter and her friends no longer being as me and most of my friends were.

Maybe it should not be the women who have to stand up for themselves but it is still a better way than my generation that just accepted having sex as part of a night out.

Categories
change everyday words

Neglected?

View of sky, sand and sea with awesome lines and colours photographed by Diane Woodrow
View on my dog walk this morning

The prompt for Day 9 of Everyday Words 30 days of prompts is from Alison Brackenbury’s Mr Hill and Me

Interesting things stood out for me. The first was the line about how the school ‘knew no one they might ring‘ back in 1959 when this poem was set and she has to walk home alone with measles. It made me think of how we take this constant communication for granted. We all, or at least most of us, have mobile phones constantly on us. And those who don’t are seen as odd. In fact you cannot get on to your bank or pay by Paypal or other such things without a text from your bank. We are constantly in communication – texting, phoning, social mediaing, Instagraming, Whatsapping, blogging our thoughts :). It is hard to imagine a time without being able to contact someone in an instant.

I remember when I was about 9 or 10 being in charge of my little sister. My mum worked part time and during school holidays we would go off with our friends for the morning, the older kids keeping an eye on the little ones. We were all primary school age so no one over 11. Not a mobile between us and even if we did have most would have had no one to phone anyway.

But my first thought when I read about her walking home alone and not knowing who was there was that she was neglected, that she had no one to care for her. Because I am putting my 21st century lens on this 1959 time of life.

The next bit that jumped out at me was about Mr Hill. The poem unfolds with her getting weaker and weaker as the illness of the measles takes over and then we have Mr Hill sweeping. Now for some reason I picked up something ominous about Mr Hill. But I think again this is because my 21st century lens has seen and read too much in which the single men, especially older single men, are to be watched out for, that they are going to grab the child – Pedophile? Child catcher? Murderer?

So I read this poem as one of child neglect and was waiting for child abuse but this is not what this poem is about. It is about how life was back in 1959. Men swept the road, parents could not be phone up to pick up their children from school if they were sick, kids were expected to be able to walk back and forth to school.

Was it safe then that it is now? Who knows. Were children back then more neglected than they are now? Who knows. But what I do know, and it is similar to yesterday’s post, is that not everything is as I see it. And also that in 60+ years things have moved on and changed. I need to read things from the perspective they were written. But also to be aware that everything I read, see, and even do is view through the lens of where I sit now and my experiences.

[I haven’t written a poem from this prompt. Only this blog post]

Categories
change Flexible

Flexibility

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow walking by the sea at Rhyl, of birds flying into the air together over the incoming tide
Rhyl Blue Bridge Feb 2022

Flexibility or the ability to go with the flow is so important in this journey towards being aligned.

Things to change. Nothing stays the same. As someone said “the only thing we can be certain of in this world is change”. But if we are flowing in alignment then we do not need to fear change because we are not being pulled by others, by media, by fears, by circumstances.

Take these birds. When I got my phone out to take a photo of them they were all calmly sitting on the sandbank, but at this point the incoming tide had sent a wave over the sandbank so they took off in flight. That is because they are flexible. Yes they have moved with the circumstances of the incoming tide. They have not got boundaries so fixed that they will remain on that sandbank no matter what, but are willing to go with the tides.

Interesting keeping on the subject of birds being flexible and staying aligned with what is going on. Very early into lockdown, when people were not getting takeaways or going to the office and eating the park, the seagulls here took to fishing back out at sea again. But now that people are out, that there is more food litter, they are back in the parks, on the sea front – and one even swiped the top off my husband’s ice cream on Sunday afternoon. They are not working on fixed boundaries but are aligned with what is going on in the wider world.

But to do this one does need to slow down a bit, to listen to one’s heart, to wait and see. When one is reacting rather than flowing with each change and event, and not listening to the bigger picture, there is a lot of tension, a lot of boundaries being put up but very little flow. And very little peace.

Also, I believe, that each of us needs to listen to what God/The Universe is telling us which could be different to what someone else is saying. Whether it is to do with personal situations or world situations we need to slow down, wait on the bigger picture, and then move.

Interestingly waiting doesn’t need to take long. Like with the lockdown seagulls they soon understood the change and knew how to stay alive.

We need to listen to what God/The Universe is saying to us rather than keep being drawn into what the media tells us.

Categories
change Storm

Storms!

Above are a selection of images of a local beach, local park and local roads on or before the storms passed through. Unfortunately I haven’t taken any of the storm damage in my park

I was lead in the bed this morning listening to the last of Storm Barra singing through the telephone wires. And it got me thinking about not just the recent storm but storms in general and our reaction to them.

We’ve been living here for nearly 6 years and Storm Arwen, ten days ago, was the most destructive storm we’ve witnessed. There have been a catalogue of trees we know of and areas that are well know where devastation has been wrecked. It even stopped filming at the I’m a Celebrity site over the road from us. It was fierce. As I walked the park with a friend who is born and bred her she was grieving the loss of trees that had been there since she was a child. She even remembered climbing in one of the three that had fallen. But I got to wondering how we see things as destruction when in fact they are there for change, for space for something new. Perhaps that is true with other things too; projects, ways of doing things, ways of church, of government and even of people.

There was much talk at some point during this pandemic of this being a time to change the way we did things, but from what I see the old has not been allowed to die even though it is swaying wildly in the wind. Those who feel safe with it, who have known it for so long, want to keep it there, are not ready to mourn its passing.

But then it is easy, almost, to be critical of wider things like church structure, governmental structures, capitalism, etc etc, but what about me? What in me and what I do am I keeping alive when I should let it die? I have a post which will be published on Godspace on 21st December which looks at the darkness and I think this might be the prequel or sequel, or just another part of, looking rethinking me.

Are we each willing to look at ourselves and see what we need to let fall to the ground, to let go of, even if for now it is beautiful, offers protection and shelter – as using the tree analogy? Or am I happier to sit back, talk about how “they” should change rather than look at me?

Categories
9/11 change let go of fear

9/11 Remembered

New York pre 9/11 with sun rising behind it
Photo by Thomas Svensson on Pexels.com

Post written by myself

Originally published on https://godspacelight.com/2021/09/11/9-11-remembered/ and https://spiritualgatheringusa.com/9-11-remembered-godspacelight/

The 11th September 2001 is a day that everyone over about 25 can say where they were and how those around them reacted. Yes, it was a day that changed the world. Iconic? That depends on how you use the word. From the destruction of the Twin Towers and the other plane attacks, terrorism came to America. From that one day, major government decisions were put in place which has led to the culmination of millions of Afghans now needing to be housed in safer parts of the world. 

Terrorism was not a new thing. Many countries had endured it for centuries. Here in the UK, we had learned to live with the uncertainties of bombings by the IRA in our city centres. But I think it was the cunningness, the planning, the audacity, determination, tenacity, single focus, and utter belief in their cause that shocked so many. These men learned to pilot those specific planes with that specific airline so that on their maiden flight they took not only their own lives but the lives of many, many others. 

For Christians, we talk of living for a higher purpose but, especially in the West, how often do we? We may get reprimanded for praying in our schools, hospitals, etc, which we moan about, put a post on social media, but are very rarely willing to, or even asked to, die for. Suddenly on 11th September 2001, we were confronted by a group of radical people who not only talked that talk but walked it too. Here were a people group who would literally stop at nothing, including the loss of their own lives, to achieve what they saw as a higher goal. 

Twenty years on, we are still reeling from it. Still feeling the effects of it. I believe it is because of the Western government’s decisions back in September 2001 which has led to the collective need in the West to help the refugees from Afghanistan. A need unlike anything that has been felt for those fleeing African countries, South American countries, Middle Eastern countries. Very much like when the Twin Towers were hit people were shocked at the numbers who died but more died in poverty across the world, from AIDS-related illnesses, from abuse, on that one day than in the Twin Towers attack, and yet the focus was on the terrorists rather than the things that we could help with. 

Over these last 18 months, we have had to face another unseen enemy – the coronavirus. We are not sure where it is or how it moves. We neither see it nor feel it until it is too late. Also, as with many issues in the rest of the world,  if it doesn’t affect us and those we are close to then we want to pretend it does not exist and to be able to carry on as normal and let “them” deal with it. We only react then when it touches one of those we love when it hits home. This was the same twenty years ago. Terror attacks across the world did get a mention in the media but not for a prolonged period and did not have the same gut reaction as the Twin Towers. They were acts that happened “over there” not on our doorstep. We would only really hear of events if there was a Western person, someone of our nationality, affected by it. So like we are now with Covid-19. 

To me with these two unseen things – terrorists who are willing to die for their cause and the coronavirus that keeps morphing so it can live – we have learned so little about ourselves. We are still only focused on what changes the lives of those we love and those we care for. 

I remember one of the things said by the media after 9/11 was that the planes were aimed at the Twin Towers because they represented Western economy. I think God was trying to tell us all something then about our greed and fears, and how we view our resources, what we in the West saw as “enough”. I think with this pandemic, God has once again highlighted our global economy and how much is lacking in our care for others – something the group involved with the 9/11 atrocity felt a dramatic need to highlight. It has been the less developed nations that have lost most during this pandemic and yet it has been in the West that people have bemoaned many things we have got used to seeing a right not a privilege

The questions arise again and again – are we willing to change? Are we willing to love all people whether they hurt us or not? Godspace’s focus at the moment is about the “new season.” Are we willing to move into a new season in how we view the world and realise how connected we are? My spending decisions affect someone in the Taliban as much as it affects someone in London, New York, the Philippines, etc. 

So my prayers today, 11th September 2021, are that as we remember the loss of life at Ground Zero, and in the other attacks, we remember the immense bravery of the emergency services that day and the days following, the lives and livelihoods lost by so many connected with 9/11. I will also pray that we remember the loss of life – and livelihoods – of those from Covid-19, and also the immense bravery of the health services and other emergency services and support workers around the world over this time. I also pray that all of us, including myself, realise how much is “enough” and let go of our fears of sharing our “more than enough” with others – whether that be time, money, resources, but most especially our love and understanding. As one of my Youthshedz young people said, we cannot meet shame with shame. We cannot meet fear with fear and as Jesus said we cannot meet violence with violence. 

So I pray we will let go of our fear of others and our fears of not having enough and share and share and share. And that with our sharing we can bring peace to a hurting world. 

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
change Intentional trust

Intentionality Written In Pencil

Picture of stoney beach looking out to still clean sea taken by Diane Woodrow author of The Little Yellow Boat book
Llanddulas beach walk which I did when a writing group I run had been cancelled due to only one person showing up. Intentionality written in pencil!

I was reading Lisa’s blog on Musing From a Sacred Summer, of how she is being intentional with the things she does before leaving Seattle, but that so often we don’t know what is round the corner. If these past 18 months have taught us one thing it should be that we don’t know what’s coming. Every January we sit and plan, roughly, our year so that we’ve at least got some idea of what is going on. Even as February 2020 came into being and rumours were starting about this new virus we still went ahead and book a trip to see my son’s flat and a couple of other events later in the year. For us here in the UK March 23rd was “end of the world as we know it” day. Lockdown day!! The signs were there. It had been coming. But I don’t think anyone really believed it would be as it was.

So things will change but does that mean we don’t plan any more? I don’t think so. But it is how we plan that will help to keep us sane.

I am trying to make my whole day intentional. I am a writer and, as most writers know, unless you carve out time then you don’t get to write. In fact I think that is probably true for most self-employed creative people without deadlines. I don’t have a publisher waiting round the corner for me to produce my next book, next collection, but I do love to write. I have published a book. I would like to publish again. But there won’t be anything if I don’t intentionally set aside time to write. So I am putting aside time in my diary. I also live in a big house that needs cleaning regularly. It is easy to keep clean if I intentionally set aside time to do it. I have paid projects that I need to be doing too.

Some people write their plans in stone. Some people don’t write them at all and wonder why things don’t get done. But I am planning on writing my plans in pencil. Not because I don’t take them seriously but because things can change. Take for instance my cleaning routine. I had it all planned out and then heard from a friend that someone she knew was going to be homeless for a couple of days, so a quick change, replan and they’ve got rooms ready for them. Or this morning, I had a list of what I was going to write. One of which was to finish off a blog post to share on Godspace but as I was writing it I put in a reference to this blog, that I hadn’t written at the time so thought I’d best get it done!!!

As I’ve mentioned before I intentionally put an Artist’s Date in my diary, where I go for a walk and write. I was planning to do that today but in the end went yesterday because there was a space. I am so glad I did because today there is sideways rain crashing down. Even the dog only got a 15 min walk. Intentionality written in pencil.

Hopefully this will make me more flexible, more trusting in God and the Universe, more able to do what I have to do. So I put things in my diary, make my to-do list, and hold everything lightly, and trusting that what I get done for that day, be it writing, cleaning, working on a project, emailing, seeing friends, or all the other myriad of things I love to do, will be what I am meant to do for that day

Intentionality written in pencil!!!

Categories
2020 vision change Change the world Listening racism sexism

Do You REALLY Want To Know Someone Else’s Truth?

looking out to see from Ynys Llanddwyn listening to what the island is saying
Ynys Llanddwyn taken by myself June 2017

“When we don’t know someone’s truth, we project our own assumptions, prejudices and insecurities onto them.”

Sarah, Jo & Team WHQ www.writershq.co.uk

I feel this quote is very appropriate after listening to Prince William’s response to Harry&Meghan’s interview – Meghan felt there were racist comments made to her and William says that the royal family aren’t racist. But also the mix of comments following the death of Sarah Everard in which women are saying they feel unsafe at night and men saying that they are overreacting. In each case it is people not wanting to hear someone else’s truth because they are projecting their own assumptions on to the situation. I know I’ve said this before but we need to be listening to each other not talking over each other. I do not believe we will ever deal with racism, sexism, gender issues, etc, etc unless we start wanting to hear someone else’s truth rather than projecting our assumptions on to them.

One of my daughter’s friends put a post on her family’s WhatApp group about feeling sad about a incident that had happened to her and a friend by a man and that it hurt her more because it was on International Women’s Day, but mum and her brother responded with their own thoughts rather than listening to how she had felt.

If I feel unsafe at night it is how I feel. It is not up to someone else to tell me I don’t feel safe. If someone feels that someone has made a racist slur against them that is how they feel and it is not up to someone else to tell them they don’t feel that way. But if we are too busy talking and not listening then we are not going to hear how someone really feels.

As a middle aged woman who was a teenager in the 70s lots of things my daughter now says are misogynistic I grew up with being told were just how it was. It would be easy for me to tell my daughter that this is just how men are but I instead I am starting to listen, and in listening I am learning.

As with all these issues that are still being brought into 2020 vision in 2021 it is listening to those who are hurt that is important, listening to those who feel disadvantage, but also listening to those who feel they are being blamed. Why did William have to say the Royal family weren’t racist? Why couldn’t he just say he was sorry that Meghan had felt hurt and ask how things could have been done differently? Why can’t men say they are sorry women don’t feel safe and then ask what they can do to change that?

Also let us start having the conversation about why some people have to jump in to defend their position rather than listening. They are having to deal with hurts and insecurities too. As Pádraig Ó Tuama of Poetry Unbound said over a situation a friend challenged him about – “Full of fear as I was, I was capable of being an agent of fear too”. Let us all admit to our fears, listen to each other and stop being an agent of fear. Start listening and then asking what we can do to help change things rather than behaving in a stance of fearfully defending our status quo.

Categories
accepting change

Willing To Accept Change?

The ogham stone at Gwytherin, Conwy, churchyard
The churchyard at Gwytherin, Conwy – taken by myself April 2019

I am hearing from quite a few friends with parents in their 80s who need more and more care, who are not telling the full truth as to what they need, and in some cases the parents have been cancelling the care their children have fought hard to obtain. . A couple of these friends have said their parents are saying they can do things when the only way they can do these things if when their children help them.

When I hear the same thing more than once I start to ask myself what is going on. What is God saying through this? And I believe it is something we all need to ponder on.

The words that jumped into my head were – “a lack of humility at accepting help”, “not being willing to accept the situation” and “wanting things to be as they used to be.”

All of which, I believe, for not just elderly but all of us, as very valid things to want.

Thinking through how much has changed during this global pandemic and yet so many are fighting hard to get things back to how they were. We are not accepting that things have changed, more than we will admit.

2020 was the year of perfect vision and, I believe that 2021 is the year when things cannot be swept under the carpet. We cannot go back to how things were. I believe it is why the Harry&Meghan interview and Piers Morgan walking off the set of GMB had to happen this year – to show that Black Lives Matters opened the door but now we need to make the change.

But are we humble enough yet to ask for and accept help – from those who know better and change things better? With this I would say, are we willing to ask God in to all situations? And not just try and get church back to as it was.

Are we willing to accept the situation – that we live in a world of injustice and racial prejudice where too often white middle class males can bully others? Are we willing to really look and really learn?

Are we willing to stop wanting things as they used to be and really, really change? Are we willing to sort out the social injustices of this world even if it makes our lives different or do we just want someone else to change?

This pandemic, like the ageing of many of my friends parents, has shown fault lines in what we used to take for granted.

When this pandemic passes, no matter what we would like to think, things are not going to go back to 2019 ways of life, and yet so many churches and other institutions are trying to get back to something similar to what was. Things will be different! Some places are accepting that things will be different and, like a pub near us are redesigning how thing will look.

We need to be looking for something different, something that will work in whatever our life situation is in the coming years. We need to stop talking about the “new normal” and start asking what the future will be. Like with these elderly parents who are understandably struggling with their new situations, so we need to look clearly at our new situation and see what support structures we need to put in place and make sure we are not in denial as to what the situations now look like.