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
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
2020 accepting Covid-19 different Jesus Listening lockdown mental health issues privilege

Privileged?

Photo by myself – Reykjavik Iceland early morning Oct 2016

One of the big things that is taught about how to look after your mental health is not to compare yourself to others because your trauma, your issues, your situation, is yours and it is hard for you. It may appear easier than someone else’s but that doesn’t matter. As lockdown has eased there have been more articles appearing about how those born from about 1990’s are struggling with lockdown and those born before 1965 are wondering what all the fuss is about.

I have been trying to write a blog post about rights and privileges but it hasn’t been coming. I did do one just after the Brexit vote which flowed but this one was not coming. Lots of drafts but nothing that made sense to what I wanted to write. Then, after receiving a forwarded article from a friend from her local vicar, and going for a long walk on the beach with the dog, it all fell into place.

In this article, from my friend’s vicar, he talks of all the major historic events that happened for those born in 1900 compared to those born in 2000. And yes those born this century have not had to deal with 2 world wars, plus 2 minor wars that the West was involved in, major economic crashes, and the Spanish flu, amongst other things. And yes those things are horrendous and are not comparable to not being able to go to school, not being able to hang out with friends, not knowing if you can go abroad on holiday, of having to wear masks, of being confined at home, miss out on growing and developing as an adult at university. No they do not compare but they are the issues that young people are having to walk through and it does not make them any less traumatic.

As another retired friend of mine said that even though she misses her friends and her clubs, etc, she has had a life that she can look back on when she’s at home on her own. There is the phone to call people and she’s getting the hang of video calling too. But as she says, she’s had her life. Even for myself, I missed seeing people for those first couple of months but now I can go visiting and am even off to England to see family. I’m even restarting horse riding today. I have reached a stage in my life where I don’t want much but that is because I have done things, travelled, partied, had freedom to come and go as I like, in my teens, 20s and 30s.

Also I believe our media has spent that this century pumping anxiety into us from climate change to Brexit to terrorism. We live in fear and are constantly in flight or fight mode but can do nothing to change it. So our young people have been born into this high anxiety media storm with social media and image over riding so much. So no it isn’t a World War pr any of the things listed above, but this lockdown is riding on the back of traumas, anxieties and much more. As well as the media portraying the pandemic as possibly never ending.

So let us be kind to those who look at some of things that we might see as privileges as their right. Let us try and understand why they feel this way and not just tell them that “it was harder in my day“. That really isn’t helpful. That piles on the guilt which makes anxieties even stronger. It becomes not just “what is wrong with the world” but “what is wrong with me“.

I’m sure Jesus would have listened to both the young and the old and all those in between without judgement or condemnation. Shall we give it a go?