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
grateful gratitude

How to be grateful when life isn’t being fair

Photo looking across a wooden fence through trees that are just starting to turn autumnal towards a waterfall. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Swallow Falls, Conwy, taken by myself on Sunday 10th October

I’ve been having a quiet rant to God on behalf of a friend. I’m not sure if she’s ranting too but I am. Last week her youngest daughter gave birth to her first child in her early 40’s after years of trying; miscarriages, IVF, etc. But then at the start of this week my friend’s dad died suddenly. It isn’t fair, I am shouting into the heavens. Why can’t her and her family enjoy the awesomeness of this miracle baby just for a few months without having to deal with grief? Why???

The season in GodspaceLight is gratitude, and I know I’ve also written about gratitude on here in various guises, but my thought for today is “how can I/we be genuinely grateful when life is being unfair?

But then as I walked the dog in the park this morning I experience the second awesome sunrise of this week and also had a heron fly from the pond almost directly in front of me. It got me thinking – I only get to see the sunrises on my dog walks now because the days are getting shorter, daylight hours are getting less. And I can marvel at how there are amazing colours in the sky for a good 20-30 mins before the sun rises officially. Even if I get up in the summer really early the sun doesn’t do that same thing of filling the sky with colour and light earlier than it pops its head up. If it wasn’t for that shortening of daylight hours I wouldn’t get to see this. So a place to be grateful when the dark is getting more?

Also what I felt when all this was going on around me is that yes life isn’t fair but there are good things going on in the unfairness. It reminds me of the fact that the trip to Paris to launch my daughter into university was marred because my father-in-law died that same weekend, so when I look at the picture of her grinning over a very very frothy cappuccino I think of his death too. Life throwing one of its unfair curve balls.

So all I can say about how to be grateful when life is being unfair is to accept and grieve in the unfair bits, the death bits, the darkness, but also be grateful in the sunrises, the births, the trips to Paris.

Both are allowed. Both are ok. It is not ‘either or’ but ‘both and’.

A few years ago I supported another friend though the first year after her husband’s suicide and we cried lots but we also laughed lots. We were able to be ‘both and’. Even now when we meet we do both – laughing and crying – more often than not in a public place

So I will hug my friend as she grieves and laugh with her as she delights in her new granddaughter. Together we can accept that life isn’t fair and that there are sunrises and there are sunsets. Somethings are beautiful and some things are tragic. That we do not live in a world where only good happens and somethings we have to deal with both things at once. But we can do it!

And for that whole humanness of who we are I will be grateful

Categories
certainty death peace prepared Prince Phillip

Prince Phillip

Prince Phillip with all his medals smiling at the camera
Cheshire councillors and MPs pay tribute to Prince Phillip www.thenantwichnews.co.uk 9th April 2021

I woke this morning thinking I should write a blog piece about Prince Phillip but what do you write about someone that you don’t really know that so much has been written about – also by people who don’t really know him.

Well it turns out the news of his death was announce on the anniversary of my stepdad’s death, which was sixteen years earlier. My stepdad born two years after Prince Phillip so the Queen and her family have been lucky/blessed to have him about for sixteen years longer than we got my stepdad. I’m sure that doesn’t make the loss any less for them though.

So this got me thinking about loss and death and when is a good time to die and how should one die. All those who’ve followed my blogs and my old site Diane’s Daily Thoughts, you’ll know that I’ve walked through a few untimely deaths. More than some and not as many as others!

We were talking with friends on Monday – our first friends this year who’ve been able to visit and sit in our backyard to eat lunch – and we were saying about dying well. As Christians we believe that we’ll go to be with God when we die and maybe even catch up with those who’ve already gone. [My hope there is too that God will have everyone who’s died with him whether they professed a faith or not. But that is for another blog!!] So if we believe that we’ll be in heaven then surely we should be preparing for it now. How? I believe by living to our fullest,which does not mean being busy all the time but being present all the time. Being here in the moment. Being content in the moment. Being at peace with ourselves and the world around us. And as I said in my last blog living in kindness and grace.

Death is one of the few things we can be certain of; that we are going to die, that those we love will die – and we hope and pray that it will not be too soon. But then maybe even 99 is too soon.

So for me as a ponder Prince Phillip’s death which is a form of public mourning, because, whether we like it or not, like him or not, he was a public figure who has been part of the UK’s psyche for over 70 years, I hope he died well. I hope he had time to say his goodbyes I hope he was reconciled with his regrets. I hope he was at peace at the end.