Categories
honest open

Say It As It Is

Beach at Rhosneiger, Angelsey.

It is that time of year when I slow down on my postings. I’ve got a job freelancing in a local high school and potential for another one. That means lots of prep and lots of waiting for funding to be approved. I find it quite tense and I have to honest with myself about that. There is no point saying I still feel creative when actually my head is elsewhere. Also with Christmas coming up I get a bit panicky about it. Silly things like feeling like I don’t have enough time to do what I need to do, see who I want to see, buy the gifts I’d like, etc. So again I have to be honest with myself.

I have just read “My Brother’s Name is Jessica“, which is about a younger brother dealing with his feelings about his older brother wanting to transgender. The parents are busy with the mother’s career in politics and they want to pretend nothing is going on. The part that, for me, opens up the whole story is when Sam shouts at the journalists who are asking probing questions about Jason, the older brother, “My brother’s name is Jessica“. I was on a train and I sobbed. For me it was then that everything comes out into the open. There is no more hiding. No more pretending everything is alright. Everything is in the open. It is at that point that things change. I won’t say any more because it will spoil the story and I would say this is a “must read”. It is one of the few books I have read this year in one sitting.

Too often we try to hide things, pretend everything is alright, hid the truth. I was working some 12-13 years old kids the other day and we were looking at the Stevie Smith poem “Not Waving but Drowning” and how too often not only are we drowning but smiling, but also we often pretend that other people are just waving so we don’t have to ask how they are, don’t have to be open with them. As with the novel it was not just that the rest of the family didn’t want to understand what Jason/Jessica was going through they also had things in themselves they didn’t want to look at.

I think sometimes we do worry that if we are open about how we feel that we have to live out that. So say I say that I feel sad/angry/jealous [those are feelings I often have to deal with especially this time of year] then maybe I worry that I can’t then be happy/content, etc. But, as I’m sure I’ve said in another post, it is possible to acknowledge our feelings, the feelings of others, but it doesn’t mean we have to “live on that island”. All of us live with nuances of a bit of this and a bit of that. It is also why I don’t like to call feelings positive or negative feelings. They are just feelings. Being angry is as true a feeling as being happy. They are both full on real feelings that come from a place of me and what I carry. But if I hide those and then wave away then I am pretending even to myself that I am not really drowning.

So like Sam with his feelings of what is going on with his brother/sister let us be open and say it as it is. Let us be willing to say “I love you because you are you but I need some help getting my head round why you are doing what you are doing“. Let us being willing to say “this is hard work and I need some help because I really want to get some understanding around this“.

Let us all learn to be honest, to say it as it is, but also to know we don’t have to live isolated on that island of confusion. We are all able to change, to learn, to move onward, and to love each other and the process.

As the sea will move over those rocks in the above picture and will change the way the beach looks as it moves the sand, stones and wares away the rocks, so we can move, change and be smoothed if we allow God/The Universe to roll over us. And also to reach out to each other. We are not alone in this, but it can feel like that if we keep quiet and pretend that we are waving when in fact we are drowning.

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
Alignment heart

Heart of Stone/Heart of Flesh

Stone pillar, Isle of Lewis. Taken by myself May 2018

My husband and I were discussing the whole thing of the heart of stone which God changes to a heart of flesh and I got to thinking. We have always either been taught, or picked up, in our churches that a heart of stone is something that is hard, feels negative emotions, etc, but that a heart of flesh is joyous, happy and only feels positive emotions – which sort of takes us back to the good box/bad box idea which I looked at a bit in Two Trees. But I don’t think that’s right. See I don’t think following God should be all happy clappy everything is wonderful. I think if we feel that way than we still have that heart of stone.

A heart of flesh is vulnerable, feels things, notices things, is flexible, is free to experience things not encased in boundaries. It is free to be flexible and go with the flow. A heart of flesh will feel hurt and pain, will feel sorrow and anger. It will of course also feel joy and love, carefreeness and happiness. It will feel all these things to a much deeper level that the heart of stone will. But it does not mean it will be pain free. In fact it is the heart of stone which will be more pain free because it is encased in something solid and safe.

I often wonder when we first get to know God and try to follow Jesus that we get confused when we get angry, get hurt, feel sadness, feel pain. I wonder if we try and fight our way of out it. There is a Bethel song that says “sing a little louder” and of singing in the middle of the storm, etc. But what if the pain is too deep? What is you don’t want to sing? What if you just want to curl up on God’s lap and lie there? What if God just wants us to curl up on their lap? What if God doesn’t want us to sing a little louder but to quietly walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

Your heart of flesh is going to let you know what to do and when to do it. I’m not saying it is wrong to sing loudly when things are tough but I think to only do that if your heart of flesh is wanting to. But if it is hardening of heart around what is really going on then that isn’t accepting the heart of flesh God wants you to have.

A dog walking friend was moaning about how at her young niece’s funeral the pastor said that God taken this young girl because he wanted her to live with him. My friend was so hurt that her heart has been hardened away from God. But I do wonder if the pastor was hardened too. If the pastor did not want to weep and bemoan the loss of someone so young. Sometimes it is ok to be angry with God, to shout at them for allowing something one doesn’t like to happen.

Life isn’t all great and plain sailing and with a heart of flesh it will actually be harder. Your heart of stone can protect you whereas your heart of flesh can let you feel. Your heart of flesh can let you full experience what is going on around you, let you be honest and open with yourself and with others, and with God. The heart of stone will keep you safe and closed and maybe not that much help to others.

The heart of flesh will feel the so called negative emotions as much as it feels the so called positive emotions, whereas the heart of stone will keep you safe. The question is – what would you prefer?

Categories
accepting grief kindness resolutions uncertain

Change in Friendship

dscn0828I realised yesterday that I am grieving the loss of a friend. Not one who had died but one that was moving away. Since I moved to this town this person has been key in who I am and what I do here in my church life. She has spurred me on, stood by me when I’ve stepped out, filled in the gaps when they’ve needed filling. She isn’t the only but she has been one of the strong pillars that have given me the encouragement I have needed to step out. She is now doing, what I have done many times before, and is moving to another town.

I must be totally honest and say I am grieving. It isn’t the same as when someone has died, but it is a profound sadness. Things will not be the same. And if I am honest, I am not sure if I am brave enough to step out and do things without her. There is a team and it hasn’t just been me and her. Each of us has our role and our part but the part she filled will not be filled by anyone else. At least not in the team that is there. Things will shift. DSCN0826 (1)Things will change.

When I gave up a voluntary position recently I was sad and grouchy, similar to this. A wise friend told me to remember that, even though I chose to give up the role, I was grieving its loss. So even though I know that this friend is doing the right thing by moving I will still mourn her not being here any more.

One of my new year resolutions was to be kind to myself. I need to keep revisiting this. In fact I need to keep revisiting a lot of my resolutions – like the no meat, no dairy, no alcohol. All of which I have “failed” but I will keep going back to giving them another go but maybe not with that whole vigor of “a whole month of …” With each of the giving ups I have to keep revisiting and trying for just today. The same goes with the whole thing of being kind to myself. I need to remember that I am grieving and that I did struggle with the party for my friend last night because I didn’t want to be there.

sunset hands love woman
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

So I will be kind and admit I’m grieving for the loss and change. Don’t tell me she is only an email away. It still means she won’t be at the next prayer day/in the next discussion for the next play/etc. The friendship will have change. And I will have to go through my stages of grief. And if at times it means I’m grumpy and out of sorts then I must be kind to me and let it be

 

Categories
accepting Airbnb being me boundaries friendship honest mental health issues open

How to be honest

A friend of mine shared an email he had written to his place of work to explain how he is struggling with mental health problems. You can read it here  – A Personal Message to Friends and colleagues.

It is great, open and honest and something, I think we should all be doing – being open 800px_colourbox9264852about our mental health issues. I do have a few Facebook friends that are totally open about what they are going through too. But what I have noticed with my friend’s post and with my FB friends is that they have all been diagnosed with a something. I think this helps. With my friend in his post too he works in an office environment so can take time working from home, etc. But what about all of us who have not been diagnosed either because of not having gone to a doctor, not found a professional who sees the problems and who can’t take time out.

This isn’t a gripe and a “poor me” but I do think it is harder. I work from home and some of what I do I have to keep going with – like the Airbnb stuff to keep the house clean and have beds made up for guests. This does give me freedom from not having to work 9-5 too so it is swings and roundabouts. But I do find it harder, when I can hide away at home and then put on my brave face when I go out, to be able to be open and honest about how I feel. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. There are also people who work in core-value-open-and-honestenvironments that may not understand or be sympathetic. A friend of ours with borderline personality disorder who worked in sales was given sympathy but still expected to meet his targets in high-pressure selling.

So how can those of us without a diagnosis, who have stepped out of the normal working situations or who are not in a sympathetic work environment deal with this? At the moment I don’t know but I know that I am trying harder to be honest about my mental health even if it is to have lower expectations of myself in what I can and can’t do, to be honest about how I am struggling to cope with all the changes that have gone on in the last two to three years – us moving, changes in my children’s lifestyles, all the new people we have met and new things we are doing. So when I have a meltdown because my husband has taken longer than I wanted over doing some household job or other I can say calmly, once I’ve regained my thoughts, “it’s not you but just this on top of me still coping with the changes”.

I’ve a project I’m doing that I know I should not have taken on. I need to finish the project. I need to finish it because it is the right thing to do. Yes, I work on that “right thing” but I am now downscaling what I’m doing with it, realising that I can’t get the help I expected due to other people’s commitments, and that actually I don’t have the emotional energy to get it sorted. So I will finish it but I will be kind to myself and again realise that little things like the household jobs taking longer could cause me stress but it isn’t them it’s just life.

So what I have decided is even if I can’t be open and honest to others as my friend has been in his post I can be open and honest to myself, kind to myself and say that even though I don’t need pills and therapy I do need space and time. walk-away-in-love