Why is it that it is so much easier to remember one’s mistakes and faux pas than one’s triumphs?
Yesterday I was chatting with a fellow writer and something slipped out of my mouth that I did not mean to say. He was a bit irritated by it at the time but I apologised and the conversation resumed. All the way home in the car I was waiting for my friend to say something about the gaff I’d made, but she never did. All she wanted to do was talk about the serendipity of being in the building at the same time as this person she knew through other outlets. And we twittered on about how amazing life can be, etc, etc.
But still when I was out with my dog walking I could feel the embarrassment of it. As I pondered by reaction rather than what I’d said I realised that it was actually my autonomic nervous system [ANS] that had gone into fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode and I needed to calm down my “meerkat” panic.
So as I walked I pulled my ANS back into a calmer, relaxed place via things I’d been taught via QEC – telling my ANS to realign – which is just says “ANS come back into alignment“, repeating “I’m safe, you’re safe, we’re safe” thus convincing my subconscious that there was nothing to worry about, and also being grateful – for the encounter with the fellow writer, for the time with my friend in the car there and back, for the joy of walking my dog. By the time I got home I was calm.
Even as I write this I can feel myself laughing at what I said, because it was daft and out of order, but I do not feel that awful grumpy-dragging-me -down-ness that I have felt in similar situations before. I can see it as a mistake I made and that I have learned from but not an “end of the world” thing.
It has made me wonder how many times I may have not done something, or even done something, because I was in that heightened “meerkat” mode – fearful, hyper-alert, anxious – rather than acknowledging it, taking those breaths, realigning myself and being able to let it go. Because that is very much what I did – let it go.
It also made me think of the lines in the “Lord’s Prayer” – about forgiving and forgiveness. Too often we are ready to forgive others but how often do we forgive ourselves. Or even how often do we say “Lord, forgive me my trespasses” but we are not willing to do it ourselves – thus making us bigger than God???
So as I realigned myself, stepped out of my fight/flight/fawn/freeze mode, I also forgave myself for what I’d said and have been able to get on and do things – which today have involved sending a proposal for some work and entering a writing competition. I have moved on from my faux pas!
How often do we trust our hearts? How often do we hear our hearts? Like really hear them?
This is a picture of my dog listening to his heart. He has such joy every time we finish up on a sandy beach and will just throw himself to the round and roll. The first time he did it we thought he was having a fit but now it just makes us laugh. We laugh because he is so joyful when he does it. But my reason for putting up this picture is that, I believe, if we all listened to our hearts more we would be more joyful and so would those around us.
So how do we know what our hearts are wanting for us? If you search “heart” on my blog you will find 68 blogs that mention heart. Hearing your heart is something I do keep coming back to. I suppose because it is something I have been learning more and more to do and getting such joy from it.
It is one of the reasons I didn’t post yesterday even though I had said I would attempt to blog through the whole of March. Something didn’t feel right about what I was thinking of doing and so I just left it. I am learning that I don’t need to know why my heart feels that way but just to trust it.
It does means slowing down a bit. It does mean trusting that I’m feeling and hearing. It does mean being willing to go with it too. No point hearing and trusting and not doing. Though the other day my heart was really telling me not to do something but it was something that I felt I could not get out of so I went. Once there I knew it wasn’t where I should have been. Things were out of place and chaotic. Yes I was able to support someone who was struggling with the situation, but actually my time would have been more wisely spent in not going. Of being brave enough to just say “I’m not going to make it this time”. Also at the beginning of the week my heart said to text a certain person I hadn’t seen in ages so I did and it resulted in a lovely walk in the woods and a good natter. Shame I hadn’t been brave enough to trust my heart and the not going.
I will try to keep up my month challenge of blogging but if I don’t I won’t beat myself up about it but will trust my heart that I am writing what I am meant to be writing when I am meant to be writing it.
Be brave and try and join me – not in blogging every day but in trusting your heart for each thing you do. To me that is true adventuring.
With all the talk of the war in Ukraine and it being hard to forget it I thought I would show you some pictures my walks over the weekend just for a change of focus.
My husband was away for the weekend so the dog and I were home alone and the sun was shining. I wanted to go to Newborough Forest and beach. My daughter and I had been there two years ago just before words like pandemic and lockdown became common place. The weather was similar this weekend to the one two years ago and I really wanted to go, yet I realised I was nervous. Nervous of driving 40 miles to Newborough. Guilty that there are lovely places closer to me. But my heart was really craving to go.
So on Saturday I tried to make my heart change its mind by going for a walk by the sea. It was only 10 miles from my house and I combined it with a trip to get some colour charts to repaint rooms in my house. So fear and guilt were dealt with there, and also dog and I got to walk by the sea and enjoy.
Interestingly on that Saturday walk due to the battering the shore has received in recent months we could not go on our usual walk but had to take the newly constructed coastal path which took us higher up and so the view was different. Noticeably different.
But it wasn’t what my heart wanted and so on Sunday morning I gave in and decided to go. I was amazed at how nervous I felt. I can easily drive 40 miles without thinking about it yet something was nagging at me. I really had time to pray about some of my older friends who have been doing nothing since March 2020. Once their stimulation of going to groups, clubs, shopping, driving places, interacting with others was taken away their brains and bodies have reacted. For one it has moved her dementia forward quicker than if she’d still had that stimulation. For another it has caused her body to stop wanting to eat and she is exhibiting signs of anorexia. Fears and anxieties have grown in others where before they could have talked them through with someone else. So even though I could feel my stomach churning I decided to keep driving. Newborough was where I wanted to go.
Of course dog and I had a lovely time but even there due to the rain and winds we did not find the same paths and had to go a different way, which again led us to a higher path. Once again we were looking down on something we had walked along before. We walked for 2 1/2 hours, probably about 7 miles. And the sun shone all the time. I am glad I pushed through and did not let my fears and guilts and anxieties win the day.
As as you see on each walk I found a higher path. I feel there is something significant in that. I had to push down fears that would have made me pick somewhere else, and in fact even in my trying to pick somewhere else still I walked along a higher path. So maybe it isn’t whether I deal with my fears or stick to the easier way that will lead me to a higher path? But whatever it is I know I need to overcome my fears and push through.
With the way the last three years have gone – with Brexit, Covid and now Ukraine, plus climate change, rising prices, etc, etc, etc – there are a lot of things to be fearful of. Yet I think after my weekend walks that we need to push through our fears and walk that higher path – however that looks to each one of us.
I am not sure why anyone would need a “National Love Your Pet Day”. For me loving my pets is what I do 24/7. They bring me such joy and laughter and such love. I am not sure who else I would go out the house for at 7.30am on a wet and blustery day apart from my dog who needs a walk, and is always keen to go round the park where he can beg treats from other dog owners.
My cat does yoga with me in the mornings but also loves to come under the covers at night and sleep with her cold nose on my leg. Sometimes with claws extended.
We tease my son that he only married the person he did because she had a dog who took to him. She does have many other lovely qualities but I’m sure the dog drew him in first of all. I have adopted her dog as one of my own when they come to visit.
I was brought up with an eclectic collection of pets and, after leaving home whenever I could I would get some animal or other. Once my children came along we had various pets and we also would dog sit for other people when we lived in rented accommodation that said “No dogs”. We worked on the principle that the dogs were only visiting not staying permanently. I’m hoping that my old landlords are not reading this now 🙂
In fact when I married my husband the children and I worked on how to get him to have pets. Believe it or not he had never ever owned a pet. Then he got us and soon we got him to allow us to carry on with the dog sitting job we used to do. Then my son started work experience at the local pet rescue centre and we got the cat. That was 12 years ago. Then came chickens, a rabbit and then 10 years ago the dog. We are down to just the cat and dog now.
Pets give such pleasure and such joy. I can “hide” behind my dog when I go somewhere new. A lot of the times when I start on a new project or have to network with someone new I will bring the dog with me. He is cute and a real icebreaker. He’s small enough to fit anywhere, well behaved and very responsive to other people.
Just last week I took him on a 4 hour train journey to visit my daughter. He was amazing. You couldn’t do that with a cat or with a hamster. Though when we moved up here we did have cat on our laps in the car because she screams when put in a cat basket. So she was bought a velvet harness, the lead of which was looped round the passenger seat belt and she rode the whole of the six hour journey on the lap of whoever was not driving. At times she would look backward to the dog on the back seat squashed around boxes and give him one of those looks to say “just look at me”. Cats believe they are superior to any other creature.
I told the tale in Day of the Dead, of how Renly helped us laugh through our grief. In fact I’ve got a few pieces I’ve written about my dog. He does crop up quite often.
I am writing a short story in which I have just had to edit out the fact that she had a dog because it didn’t quite work, but it was very hard to then write about someone walking without a dog. My dog very much features in the centre of my life.
I believe God lets us have pets to encourage us to love one and other and to experience unconditional love in such an unexpected way. Dogs very much unconditional, cats maybe not so much! But also gives us something to love, to care for, and to experience loss with. The worst thing about pets is that we will out live them. I think pets help us learn the transient nature of life and also of how to seize the moment, enjoy the moment, live in the moment. For pets they do live in the NOW. It is good for us to learn that too.
So maybe for National Love Your Pet day I will learn more to live in the moment and accept that life is short, relationships transient, and to enjoy it as it comes.
So to carry on with my thoughts on how I am praying The Lord’s Prayer at the moment.
The reason I’ve picked this picture is that when we judge ourselves and so don’t forgive ourselves, we are like these reeds; knocked over, lying flat, struggling to function. But, if we tune into what I believe Jesus is trying to tell us in The Lord’s Prayer, we will recover, stand up again, and be all we are meant to be.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” we recite. I need to forgive me before I can forgive you. Jesus talks about judging others and being judge, which I think goes with this. And it isn’t God judging us or not forgiving us, but ourselves. I don’t believe I follow a judgemental God but I do believe that I can be a judgemental person.
Here is a trivial for instance of me being judgemental. I used to judge what people were wearing so if I had to go out with the dog when I was still in my pajamas [he won’t pee in the garden so sometimes if he’s bursting he has to be rushed to the small patch of grass at the end of our road] I would be convinced people were looking at me and judging me for being in my pjs. I’m not sure anyone noticed or cared. But it did mean when I went out I was often looking at what people were wearing, but now I’ve stopped looking at what people wear and judging whether it is the “right” thing to be out in, and so this morning when I had to rush the dog out I didn’t think what anyone would think of me.
But also the “forgive myself and forgive others” thing is also that if I can’t forgive myself for screwing up I am not able to forgive others for it. So in my morning post-yoga praying I adapt this line “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” to “help me to forgive myself through today as I screw up, which I know I will, and help me to be kind to others who will also screw up, upset me, hurt my feelings or generally do something I don’t like. Help me to keep short accounts and keep my heart open to knowing when I’ve not forgiven myself and also have allowed someone else to upset me” It is all a bit long winded and I can see what the gospel writers shortened it. But actually for me I see the lines in The Lord’s prayer as almost like journal prompts to lead me to something bigger and deeper.
Also starting the day like this means I do spend my day being able to forgive others quickly because it is already in my head.
Normally I would do my end of year review to coincide with Christmas cards I was sending, whether physical or electronic, but this year I have decided to wait until 31st December to post, and am even tempted to wait until midnight just in case. It is not that I am fearful but this has been an “unprecedented” year.
At the time I would normally have done this post I was still laid up with bruised ribs from falling off that horse though was starting to plan what I would write, and I suppose even Different Christmas was a lead up to that. But then just as I was in the planning stages for that my husband got shingles and has been very sore with that. Then on Saturday 19th Dec Wales announced that all was change for Christmas and we were going into lockdown again – though from the volume of traffic I would say that only means that pubs and cafes have now closed. Not sure if I can see much other difference on the roads. It is definitely not back to April’s sparse traffic volume. But then on Sunday my daughter announced that she had tested positive to covid and so, even though she wasn’t coming up here for the holidays it did mean she was going to have to spend it home alone! All this in just a week!
This has been the strangest of years. Even to the point that our cat went from eating biscuits to demanding that we feed her cat meat from a tin. She now has meat twice a day and ignores the biscuits that sit waiting for her to be hungry enough. If it hadn’t been for the local cat rescue places being closed all the tins that had been in the cupboard for the last few years would have gone to them but now she’s eaten them all.
Talking of pets – our crazy rabbit died in the summer, happily of a possible heart attack whilst he was sunbathing before begining yet another digging project. He was buried inside his own warren of tunnels that he had constructed over the four years he had been living here. He is still very missed and the amount of veg peelings in our food recycling bin has increased.
As with everyone 2020 started normally enough, though it was odd for us because my husband chose to stay home for New Year’s instead of going to a youth hostel with old university friends. So actually even the start of the year was different for us with us being together when we woke on 2020. We went away as always for our wedding anniversary at the end of January, which was followed by my husband going off for a week of intensive Welsh learning on the Llyn Peninsular. He managed to get away climbing with friends in Scotland at the start of March, but by the time he went away then things were starting to change and covid was being muttered about. We had two Airbnb guests, both in the medical profession, who went from saying it was nothing to worry about to slowly getting more and more concerned about it, to our guest from Burma having to cut short his stay so he got home before all airports were closed.
I was supposed to go on my regular March writing retreat but felt uneasy about going which was just as well because suddenly things got serious. So instead of being in Gwynedd I went Cardiff to bring my daughter to stay with us when the pubs closed. We bought her some walking boots the day before the country went into full lockdown. We thought we were going to be walking all over North Wales, but then the 5 mile rule was introduced and we finished up doing lots of walks around where we live. We have seen my daughter more this year, probably a good 4 months of the year, than we have since she went off to university about 7 years ago. I picked her up yesterday, now that she is over her coovid isolation time and will spend New Year with us and stay until this lockdown lifts. So even though we have seen so much more of her this year when it comes to everyone else – my son and our mothers and our friends – we’ve seen them less than normal.
My husband changed jobs at the start of lockdown and has now been working for his new company for 8 months and never seen the inside of his office or met any of his colleagues face to face. We are so grateful for our lovely big house and him being able to work upstairs in his own office. But his is the only work going on in the house because, with all the guidelines and restrictions, it is not safe to run our house as an Airbnb rental home for the time being. Read more about that on Humility. And since not having guests coming and going it has changed how I see the house and what it is for. For now I’m not making any decisions how things will look regarding Airbnb and room rentals in 2021, but I do know I see this place much more as a family home now than a business.
We did manage to get away for a flying visit to Somerset to see our mums and a couple of friends at the beginning of August and my son and his fiancee came up to us for a long weekend in mid August. Both times we were blessed with great weather. And we managed 6 days in Northumberland in late September, though because Northumbeland went into tier 3 we were not able to see one friend who had moved there a couple of years ago, and also a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party was cancelled. But we did manage 6 days of walking, reading, and resting together.
As well as Airbnb all my work has stopped – no more writing groups, no more schools work, no more workshops in the library. All very strange. But I have been doing a lot of my own writing and a few of my blogs from here are being published on Godspacelight.com which is quite exciting. I have also been working with a young illustrator and we have a book called TheLittle Yellow Boat which is with BumbleBee Publishing in the process of being put together and published later in 2021. I will tell more about that once it is out in the big wide world. My plans for 2021 are to work on more short stories and other ideas and of course to blog more. I do not want The Little Yellow Boat to be my only publications. I have also been working towards an MA in Celtic Studies and have loved the modules about the Mabinogion, especailly the Four Branches. I am thinking of doing some stores around the women from the Four Branches.
Every year we do not know what is going to happen, but I think 2021 is probably the one where we have the least idea. Will the vaccine prove effective enough to bring back “normal” life? Will we have enjoyed some of the changes and not want “normal”? For some their business will never be the same again. Many will be bankrupt. For others there plans will be delayed and will be able to move forward a year or two later. But also within that not knowing are things we do have control over. I plan to continue with the Quantum Energy Counselling healing work I’ve been doing. I will work on my own writing and develop a body of work and look at being published. I will meet up with people when I walk with my dog and have great conversations. I will email my friends. And I will carry on reading. All these I have control over. As to whether I’ll start Airbnb rental again or whether I’ll be able to restart writing workshops and schools work, that I have no control over, so will hold lightly. Also I do have control over how I behave towards what is going on around me and I hope I can hold Joy and Hope in the right place and walk as God wants me to through whatever is thrown my way.
Ok so the title was going to be about focus again but I thought I’ve used that before so would try something new. I’m feeling a bit down. I had a bit of a not reprimand but just a feeling of screwing up when I sent out an advertising for my writing workshops on a new email group I’m part of. It left me a bit low. Also we are having our first long time Airbnb guests after the hard work guests of a couple of weeks ago. I am feeling apprehensive.
I was giving myself a talking to whilst out walking the dog this morning. I was telling myself that we have had way too many lovely guests so why am I letting one 3 night stay discombobulate me so much? And also with this reprimand regarding advertising – why am I letting it get to me when I have so many people supporting me and this whole writing workshops stuff is growing so fast? Then I remembered something a friend had said to me ages ago about how much easier it is to get down about something than up. The analogy was of someone standing on a chair and someone else reaches up to them and of how it is much easier for someone to pull the other person down off the chair than it is for the one on the chair to pull someone up. Down is an easier place to go.
In our well-being group yesterday one of the things that came out of my facilitating for me was that we have to all be our own cheerleaders. It is great to have other people rooting for us and we do need that mightily but if we do not have that self-belief then no amount of others cheering us on will ever get us anywhere. Yes to get to where I am now with Barefoot At The Kitchen Table I have needed a host of people to encourage me from my lovely friend Penny, to Theresa at Canolfan Dewi Sant Centre for booking me in the first place, to Clara and her business coaching, to Mark walking me to do things at Gwrych Castle, to the lovely people who come every week to my workshops. I needed all of those to get me to here but if I had just said to Theresa “great idea and I’ll think about it” I could still be here thinking about it. If after talking with Clara I had not then done anything about it I would still be sitting here thinking. And so on and so forth. I have now got an opportunity to go on local radio, to work in a local arts and community centre, to discuss ideas for working in a local hotel, and more. Even from making a mistake with advertising on this new emailing group too soon has meant I have learned something – but also have 2 people who are interested in coming along. Nothing wasted.
Oh I’ve just given myself the pep talk I should have earlier on 🙂 I do need to remember that I am a writer and that is how I think. I love walking with the dog and talking to God as I go but actually when it comes to sorting out life, etc then I do need to write. Which brings me to the question of that self-belief but also self-knowledge. We all have to know how we can problem solve that works best for us as individuals. If I walk and talk and think I get somewhere but when I write I get answers. For other people it is the other way round. But again this comes from self-belief. In fact I walked out of a craft day put on by a lovely new friend of mine, Dee of Poke the Muse, because it was craft based rather than writing based and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing.
And now I feel confident in who I am. I’ll make mistakes because I often think too fast but then I would rather have made mistakes and learned than never to have tried at all.
So I continue with this piece on “who I am/what I do”. Probably what consumes most of my time after the Airbnb hosting is walking my dog. Even though he is only small we walk 4-5 miles a day which takes a couple of hours. In the morning is the big walk – through the castle grounds, across the main road, down to the beach and back up via the park. This one is about 3 miles and takes from an hour to an hour and a half. Why the difference in time?
There are two types of dog walkers – those who go walk the dog to be alone and make sure they keep as far from people as possible and even if they do get caught they make the conversation as short as possible. They do not encourage conversation. Then there is the other type, which I come into, those who chat with people they meet. Why do I chat when I am an introvert? I chat because I like to see people smile and like to make them happy so I will have a quick word, try to remember what they said the last time we met so ask about that, and also because I seem to have the sort of face that people want to tell things to. I know a lot about some of the dog walkers I meet. They need someone to tell their tales to. For some it is that they have recently lost husband – either through death or into care homes – , for others they just are lonely and want to tell someone what they did yesterday. But also I learn things from people which enrich my life here in our new town but also enrich my writing life: to hear about why the lady got 3 greyhounds not just one and that he husband was one of the first high speed engine drivers; to hear the tales of how this man tamed a
Staffordshire bull terrier after it had been rescued after being mistreated and encourage him; to find out about the places that I see along my route; of the old lady who use to work in the castle that now lies in ruins on the first part of my walk. But also I love just hearing about the general things, not just how the town use to be but where to get the best meat and things like that. All this gives me insight into my area and some of the people in it meaning I can pray for it in general and for the people that I meet.
By stopping and talking I get to learn so much and also am able to bless people along the way. And Renly gets to make new doggy friends and find out who the people are who will give him treats along his way. And also he loves the beach and will rush to the sand and run round in circles when he finds it is still there. As someone responded to my last post about channelling their “inner Renly” – another part of that is just having that whole joy of living and taking delight in what is just there.
And the reason why it fills so much of my day is because it is the anchor in my day. I cannot start any form of work until I’ve walked the dog and I have to remember as the day comes to an end that the dog does need another walk. In fact I do my work, whether writing, cleaning, or preparing my writing workshop business, between the dog walks – so my working day starts with the coffee pot when I get back from my walk and ends around 5.30 when I get a text from my friend to say she’s calling round for us to walk the dogs together.
[looks like part 3 will be my new business venture so I’d best get the website up and running to share 🙂 ]
One good reason is that he gets me for an owner but the real reason I would love to be my dog is the fact that he seems able to forget the horrid things in his life. I know there are dogs that are traumatised when they are puppies that do appear to remember those things and behave sometimes badly because of it. But Renly was treated well in those early years and seems to be very chilled because of it.
Yesterday he had an incident with a very large, very hairy black Alsation. The dog went for him and at one point appeared to have his jaws around Renly’s middle. The dog then let him go. Renly ran to me and I was able to grab the dog by the collar and scruff of the neck. Renly and I then went briskly down to the beach where I tried all sorts to get him to come to me so I could feel him all over to check he was ok. He wouldn’t come to me and kept running away with his tail between his legs and almost glaring at me. He only let me touch him when we saw a lady we had met before. He then sat at her feet and let her stroke him then let me stroke him. He seemed back to his chirpy self then.
Today i was nervous of going to the beach because of this dog but also because I was
concerned that Renly would react badly and be scared. I made sure we were a bit later so we wouldn’t bump into them. But you would have thought the incident had never happened. Renly showed no signs of fear or even slight anxiety.
He has a great memory. In fact just before the incident yesterday he had run to a lady he gets treats from. Today she was later and so Renly set off to get his treat and to play with her dog. In fact he remembers all the people who give him treats and will run up to them, often leaving me a way behind. And the other day we had friends come to visit and he loves their dog but they hadn’t seen each other for 8 months , and in a totally different place, but Renly recognised her and greeted her with such enthusiasm. He remembers key people in his life even if he hasn’t seen them for ages. He seems able to tell with my children that they are family and the boyfriends/girlfriends they bring he isn’t so close to. Yes he is warm and friendly because he’s that sort of dog but his greetings are very different.
So yes I want to be my dog. To be able to remember the good things in life and forget the bad. To be able to not get phased by something that happened once but to be able to let it go and to continue to enjoy the good things in life – which for him are treats, hugs, beach, car and family. Simple life!