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
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
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
holidays Remembering

Remember All Things Can Change

Photographed by Diane Woodrow on her 61st birthday
Isle of Kerrera 2nd May 2022 taken by myself

We’ve just been away on a week’s holiday up in Scotland which is why I haven’t posted for a bit. It was lovely to hang out together, walk, talk, eat, drink and just be. One day my husband went off up a mountain and the dog and I stayed back at the cottage, did a couple of little walks and I wrote. The reason for going away this last week was that it was my birthday.

Birthdays are great times of remembering, of noticing the changes, of connecting. Last year on my birthday we were sat on a more touristy beach in mid-Wales watching jet skiers buzzing about and listening to children asking for ice creams. This year we were sat on top of a hill looking out to sea. It was peaceful but I’m sure when the castle was built there it saw its fair share of noise and mayhem. And then two years ago we were trapped in our house on lockdown enjoying the back garden and quiet of our town as next to nothing was driving about. How things have changed in these last couple of years. Now our town is back to its normal noisy self.

It got me to reflecting on seasons. So for now this castle of the Isle of Kerrera is a peaceful walkers destination, but once it was the site of a major battle towards the end of the Jacobite wars. But even before then it would have been a home not just of a nuclear family but to the entourage that goes with castles.

We also visited Hadrian’s Wall which is now a peaceful deserted haven for walkers, but I do wonder what it was like 2000 years ago when it was filled with Roman soldiers defending the borders of the empire.

Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Part of Hadrian’s Wall at Millcastle photographed by myself 7th May 2022

So from looking back on 3 years of birthdays to 600 years of Scottish history to nearly 2000 years to the Roman Empire it got me to thinking how we hold so tightly to the now as being the full reality.

And I know in mindfulness we are encouraged to be in the present and not to worry about the past or the future, but sometimes I think it helps to know that this present we stand in is not how it always has been or how it will always be.

There was much talk about yesterday – 9th May – Europe Day – which marked not only the end of the Second World War but also Schumman’s speech which led to the founding of the European Union. The world has not stood still over the last 75+ years. And as we see war in Europe again with the Russian invasion I think it would help to see that, awful though this is, it is just a phase that history is going through and hold it lightly. Who knows what things will look like in a year, in two, in ten, in twenty, in a hundred?

I’m sure those standing guard on Hadrian’s Wall or in the castle on the Isle of Kerrera when it was being besieged would ever have imagined their land being a place of tranquility but it is. I’m sure at the time they prayed for peace and now it has come.

So let us pray for peace in our world and know that one day it will come.

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
heart Viewpoint

How We View Things

photograph by Diane Woodrow
Beauty or showing off?

With the way the media has been portraying things recently I have been pondering how we view things. For example take birds. We marvel at eagles, we use cuckoos as a herald for spring, and we are superstitious about magpies. Yet each of the birds kills the chicks of other birds but I have only ever heard magpies be condemned for doing it in a big way.

So now we look at one side of a conflict/war/atrocity as a hero and the other side as evil. It can even switch sides if something happens to do that viewpoint. For instance England fought against France for hundreds of years and yet in the First World War many British men died fighting with the French. And then for a brief period France, Germany and Britain were all in the EU together.

I wonder what makes us view things in a certain way?

Yesterday I got upset with someone I was having coffee with. When I took time out to examine the why of how I felt I realised she reminded me of something in my past and it was that wound I was reacting to. I’ve had similar things with projects that come to an end. It hurts more than just a freelancer being insecure about where the next job comes from. But again if I slow down and listen to my heart I realise where that hurt comes from.

So I wonder as we go into the good guy/bad guy, good thing/bad thing way of labeling things we need to slow down, check with our hearts and ask ourselves why we are doing this. Is it to do with the present situation we are in or is it to do with some greater hurt or fear?

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll do a blog on my thoughts on why the Bible tells of man eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather the tree of knowledge because I think this explains something.

So next time you think about labeling something or someone good or bad slow down, listen deeply to your heart – that bit of your heart that doesn’t get heard too often, and see if you can find the real reason. Then give your heart a hug and be kind to yourself for over reacting, as I did yesterday.

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
new road trust

Another New Road

A winding path through woods  taken by Diane Woodrow
A walk in the woods, April 2020, taken by myself

The wonder of being brought, by God, around a corner and to realize a new road is opening up, perhaps—which He alone knows. And that there is no way of traveling it but in Christ and with Him. This is joy and peace—whatever happens. The result does not matter. I have something to do for Him and, if I do that, everything else will follow. —

A Search for Solitude: Pursuing the Monk’s True Life, January 23 and 24, 1958

I go through phases of taking photos of the same thing. Paths have been an ongoing theme. I love the nature of paths. The way they lead you onward and how much one puts ones trust in a path. I think this is why this quote jumped out at me. And the whole thing of being at the start of another year, and my husband had said about someone he follows on Facebook had said about a bend in the road.

But it is Merton’s joy that comes through here about the wonder of a new road. With all the changes that have been going on since the start of the pandemic, which for us in the UK was March 2020, we are tired on new roads. We are tired of walking roads we have no map for. We really do not want to go round another corner and see something new opening up.

Yet Merton talks of wonder and trust, of joy, and of not worrying about the results. And whatever our religious beliefs most of us do fight worry, which the media encourages.

I wonder how different life would feel if instead of being fearful about the new road, instead of hoping the new road will be similar to something we knew, we could step out in joy and wonder, in trust of each other and something bigger than ourselves, not fearing what is to come, letting go of needing to control the situation.

I’m not talking of not doing anything about the injustices of the world, or ignoring climate change, or pretending everything in the garden is rosy. I’m talking about having eyes that are open about what is going on and of wanting to do something to change, but in a joyful, wonder-filled, trusting way

I think we would feel more peaceful, many of our nations mental health worries would ease, and I do wonder if actually we would then have more energy and confidence to really change things instead of living in fear?

Categories
Blown by the Spirit freelancing

Blown By The Spirit

a canal towpath, barges on the canal, trees picking up the early morning sunshine. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Bradford on Avon canal at sunrise August 2021 taken by myself

There was a phrase that I heard many times when I first committed to walking out the Christian faith which was about being “blown by the Holy Spirit”. The way it was taught was that God would send the Holy Spirit which would take us wherever God wanted. In my thinking that meant to other countries, off on mission, etc, etc. But now, as I progress in this journey, I wonder if it is much more an internal things – that I need to let God’s Holy Spirit guide me in my thinking, my ways of doing things, and just the general day to day.

Each moment of my day I should be “blown by the Spirit” [and I wish I could find the actual bible verses that this is from] not just in the big things of life. In fact I do now wonder if too often many of us have missed out on the ordinary because we have been waiting for the extraordinary.

This came to me the other morning as I was pondering about things for this new year. I wanted to be true to my Freelance calling. So, as I do each morning, after doing yoga with the cat [who is often more enthusiastic than I am about it], I sat calmly on my mat and held my work projects in my open hands, along with the rest of the year. I gave up these projects, and all future ones, to God/to the Universe to do with as they willed, and without thinking asked God to blow them as the Spirit willed.

Oh my word! It was the most releasing of experiences. Suddenly I was freed from any burden of them. Suddenly I was free of having to “get them right” and was able to just let them go, to sit lightly with them.

There have been one or two issues with them since that day and at times I have forgotten that I’ve given them to be “blown by the Spirit”. But each time I remember that these projects aren’t mine to hold tightly but are gifts to use my talents in executing I am able to let them be “blown by the Spirit”.

There is such a freedom in that and I am seeing as well as a peace coming from that, also doors opening.

Categories
epiphany

Ephiphany

First published 6th January on https://godspacelight.com/2022/01/06/epiphany/



Free download from https://pixabay.com/photos/star-moon-wise-men-three-kings-6880592/

What do you think of when you think of “The Three Wise Men”? Are they those guys who get slide into the nativity scene in church just before things get cleared away at the end of the Christmas season? Do you see them as three or more or what? Why did only the gospel of Matthew mention them? Why didn’t Luke with is boasts that he then makes in The Book of Acts about writing a true historic account in the both his gospel and part two?

I seem to be drawn to the Wise men/the three kings as I’ve written other posts about them, even one on this site last year. So I thought I’d check them out a bit more. Now I’d been told at some sermon somewhere that they were possibly Zoroastrians and I found some interesting stuff on this website, http://www.religioustolerance.org/zoroastr.htm, which might explain why Matthew, who was allegedly writing to help the Jewish people understand Jesus, includes them. The site says

With the exception of religious conservatives, most religious historians believe the the Jewish, Christian and Muslim beliefs concerning God and Satan, the soul, heaven and hell, the virgin birth of the savior, the slaughter of the innocents, resurrection, the final judgment, etc. were all derived from Zoroastrianism.

These men did not just use astrology to show that the birth of the Son of God had been predicted in the heavens but also were able to connect in the virgin birth and also resurrection, not to mention the way Herod chose to slaughter the innocents.

Matthew’s gospel starts with the genealogy of Jesus, which includes the women in his line, Joseph’s acceptance of who Jesus was, the visit by the Magi, the escape to Egypt and the slaughter of the innocents. When looked at in the light of the above quote about the Zoroastrians it looks very much as if Matthew is speaking to those who would have known this. I feel that he is saying to show how big this whole birth of Jesus is and how inclusive. It includes women; it includes accepting the miraculous; it includes deep grief too.

How often do we want to include grief in the wonder of Jesus being born? But it is a fact of life. I won’t expand on that because there have been some good posts in https://godspacelight.com/ that you can search for. But I think it is one of the amazing things that Matthew makes us aware of, if we look properly, that the miraculous and grief sit hand in hand. This is part of the inclusivity of things. It isn’t just to include men and women, people of various colours, nations, sexualities, and more but it is to include all the range of emotions from joy to grief. If we look properly we can see this as yet another miracle. God doesn’t get rid of certain emotions and life events but knows and understands and walks with us in them.

So as we enter 2022, for many after the last two years with trepidation and uncertainty, with anxiety and fear, let us remember that Jesus was born into this, that God understands this, that we are not walking in alone.

And I’ll end with a prayer one of the characters says towards the end of the Netflix film “Don’t Look Up” which I saw on Jon Kuhrt’s blog the other day, which I think is worth holding on to as we enter this unknown year which will be filled with miracles and grief and all points in between.

Dearest Father and Almighty Creator,

We ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride

Your forgiveness, despite our doubt

Most of all Lord, we ask for you love to sooth us through these dark times

May we face whatever is to come in your divine will.

with courage and open hearts of acceptance

Amen