Categories
2022 Don't look up Power of meaning

Don’t Look Up

View of clouds and a wing tip taken on 2nd January over the skies of Europe. Taken by Ben Cromie Diane Woodrow's son
view from airplane on my son’s 1st trip abroad with the army. Taken by Ben Cromie January 2019

Last night I watched “Don’t Look Up“, the Netflix movie that is a satire of politics, social media and so much more. Also as I’d quoted from the film on my Epiphany blog I thought I should watch it. And I was not disappointed. It is a film of over 2 hours long and generally my concentration can wane after an hour and a half. Also I was watching it later than I would normally watch a film. But I was gripped throughout. There was much laughter but also a lot that made one think and needed to be chewed over. This could be a film I watch twice.

It is a reflection on our society and of how so much becomes “political”, causing people to think about it along their own political lines, even down to whether the comet exists or not. The news is full of sounds bites and is all about “keeping it cheerful” with the news of a pop singer being proposed to online bigger news that the announcement of impending doom. I wonder too with covid how much of what goes on is politicized rather than for the best of mankind, and also, like with the comet, how much could have been averted if any of the world governments had acted sooner or if money, or rather profiting from the event, was not an issue.

I am also reading “The Power of Meaning” by Emily Esfahani Smith which looks at the four pillars that give us all meaning; belonging, purpose, storytelling and a transcendent experience. Without being a spoiler alert the film finishes with the key characters gathered together as a group of people who belong together and with a purpose where they tell their stories and one of them prayers the amazing prayer

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

All the pictures at the end of the movie show those most at peace with what is coming involved in something either of belonging or spirituality.

So as my inbox still keeps being filled with suggestions of how I can mark the commencement of 2022 I think I will continue to settle into my place of belonging, finding ways use my talents for a purpose outside of myself, tell my story and encourage others to tell theirs, and find space for God and experiencing the “divine will with courage and an open heart of acceptance” whatever comes my way.

Don’t Look Back” has had a part in encouraging me along this journey.

Categories
2022 new year

Tis The Season Of The Resolution

It is that time of year again, when everyone feels obliged to make “New year resolutions” as if what they had been doing for the past 12 months wasn’t good enough. There is the talk of going on a diet – and the various diet aids are being pushed like made on adverts on various medias. [yet no one says that the winter is the worst time to start a diet because your body naturally wants to hold on to its body fat to keep warm. Start your diet at Easter when your metabolism is more in tune to it] to exercise more [again a similar one to the dieting. It is dark and dreary still at this time of year. To run before work means getting up in the dark. Again wait till the days start to get longer and then enjoy the whole thing], to write more, to be more ….. [add your own] And most of these resolutions are broken before the end of January. Most of this is to do with doing things that you think you ought to rather than the things you want to.

It is why I’ve put the pictures of the animals at the top of this post and Hobbe’s thoughts at the end. All three animals are all doing what they are best at – being themselves, and not caring who is looking. Why do we not all resolve to be more ourselves? More genuine to who we really are? Or even – radical thought – spend time trying to find out who we really are.

So much of how we behave, even down to this desire to do resolutions, around wanting to be what other people think we should do. So we work harder to be appreciated more; lose weight so others will look at us more kindly; get another book published to justify the time we spend writing [ok that’s a personal one!!!]

Instead of making plans and resolutions this year I have put some things I’d like to so in my diary, some projects I do have to get finished, and some ideas I’d like to pursue. But really what I am going to try my best to do for 2022 is “wing it and see what happens“. And after the last couple of years we’ve had as a nation I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea for many more to feel that way?

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
Lord's Prayer Trust God

All About Titles

maize field in the foreground, a row of conifer trees then rolling hills and onward to Snowdonia national park. Sky is cloudy with patches of sunshine. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Looking into Snowdonia. Taken by myself on 16th August 2021

So I will end this run of four thoughts on The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name” I’d love to do a straw poll and find out how many of us cringe a bit when we feel we have to call God Father. I know my hand would go up. I’m not just thinking of my own father but of many other fathers I know who struggle along trying to do the best for their kids but carry so much of their own baggage that they don’t really know what “Father” actually means.

So I start my prayer by saying “To the all loving being who inhabits both the heavens and the earth, who made it all, and all that it is in it, whether the created acknowledge their maker or not. To the connected universe that holds all together and lets all move freely. To you I open my heart today because you are immense and amazing.”

Ok so it is a bit more long winded than the words we read in the Bible. But again I think that is because, for the gospel writers, it was obvious who they were connecting with, and obvious what they and others believed and expected.

In my journey with God I have come to see prayer more and more as not an asking thing but a connecting thing, and so I have to ask myself “what or who am I connecting with?” which is why I have the long opening. It is for me and not for God. God knows who God is. God doesn’t need telling, but I do need to realise the enormity and amazingness of God.

I think often our prayers are for ourselves. So we pray for those we love because it helps us cope with what they are going through. Yes I do know and believe that God answers prayer and intervenes. I also believe that God intervenes without our prayers too. I know prayer is important. But I think we often do it for our peace of mind too. And I believe that when we connect with God, the Maker of the Universe, through prayer or mediation or centering, or whatever we want to call it, then we connect with something higher, wider, deeper, more all knowing than we are.

To gain the real amazingness of prayer we need to also trust that we connect, that we are heard, that we are part of something, that we are co-creators of the outcome. Even if the prayers aren’t answered as we would like.

I like stories to confirm things so … I offered to pray for a lady in the park because her father had been taken ill. Her father died two weeks later. She told me that she knew I was praying because she felt such peace through it all. I didn’t give her peace. I didn’t stop her father dying. But what I did was connect her and her father and her family with The Amazing Power and Peace of God and let things flow as they were intended.

The outcome isn’t my call. My call is to prayer, connect with my Heavenly Savoir, and trust that things will go as the Universe believes to be the right way with peace.

I have to end by saying I think prayer is amazing and I need to remember to do it more often during the day as it changes me and my energy as much as it changes things I pray about.

Categories
God's Kingdom God's Will Lord's Prayer

Connected Wills

Picture of a wall and a shingly beach, looking across a stretch of water to Anglesey and the town of Beaumaris. Taken by Diane Woodrow
From Abergwyngregyn nature reserve looking towards Beaumaris. Photo taken this morning, 16th August, by myself

My third day of thoughts on my version of The Lord’s Prayer. Today is “your kingdom come, your will be done” to this I always add “in my life and my world.”

Is this a selfish, egocentric attitude? I think it depends on how you view yourself and your connections. For me I see myself as connected to others who in turn are connected to others. For instance, lady in the park told me that the random conversation we had the other day, which brought back memories of her going to Paris with her late husband, made her day and that she was able to cope with a shop assistant who was a bit stressed. I didn’t even meet the stressed shop assistant but my connection with a fellow dog walker supported that shop assistant. And who knows what the kind words from the from the dog walker brought to the shop assistant and so on and so on

Also I am coming to believe more and more that the energy I give out – whether negative or positive, fearful or safe, joyful or angry – affects those around me and again then affects those they come into contact with. It is a bit like my understanding of chaos theory – of how a butterfly flapping its wings in a forest can lead to a hurricane somewhere else in the world! OK for all the scientists who follow me this is a my simplified version!!! 🙂

Maybe me being kind to people and doing my best to walk with an energy of trust, peace and joy, can lead, one person at a time, to peace in the Middle East, which if boiled down to its basic level is people being afraid of people and what they can lose.

I suppose this comes full circle back to believing I have enough, which can even lead to knowing I have lived long “enough” as have those I love. [Of course I don’t want those I love to die in pain but I have to be ready to let them go when the universe says “enough” on their time here – but that’s for another blog!!!] But if I believe I am living in “enough” and that I am walking out God’s Kingdom and Will in my life/my world, then I do not need to fear lose or fear getting it wrong, which brings me back to “Forgiveness” of myself and others.

Makes you wonder sometimes if the Lord’s Prayer was written upside down and should have started with “get ready to forgive yourself and others, trust there is enough to go round, and believe you are doing your best to work out God’s Will and Kingdom in your life and that this will affect others”.

Just a thought!!!

Categories
bitter/sweet grief hope joy life loss

Beware the Ides of March

Sunset on the M56 on a journey back from our holiday in Northumbria Sept 2020

Misquote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar but seemed appropriate for this post.

March is a weird month for me because over the years lots of stuff has happened in it. To name but a few – it is the anniversary of not just physical deaths of friends and family but also of the loss of dreams, of anniversaries of heartbreak and relationship ends for both my children, which if you’re a parent you will know this hurts your heart too. But it is also the anniversary of when I got my cute little dog, when I met with God in an amazing, never to be dismissed encounter, when my son was born. So the month of March is a bitter sweet month. But then isn’t that life.

Life isn’t all good or all bad. Even in this pandemic I would say each person would be hard pressed to not be able to find a good time, even if it is just something small, but our newspaper headlines would like us not to see things that way. And I’m not saying things haven’t been tough. For me just entering March each year is tough and it was also why I went into panic mode last March rushed to “rescue” my daughter and bring her back to live in my house, was scared that we would run out of food. It wasn’t just the pandemic but the memories heaped upon it. This year I am calmer because I’ve recognised this is what my body does so I do almost remind it to “beware the ides of March”. Then I can work with my panics and my negative feelings and keep my body, mind and emotions not so much in check, because hiding one’s feelings is dangerous to both your physical and mental health. But I make sure I don’t get caught up in flight, fight or freeze and acknowledge the past in all its hues.

I’m not saying it is wrong to remember these events. It is good to have some time set aside to remember those people and dreams that have gone, but I do believe one should also remember the good in them too. I know sometimes that can be hard when the death has been from a long drawn out illness or mental health issue, or if the relationship or dream ended painfully. That does make it hard. But there is a gap for light in everything no matter how horrendous.

I read a few books last year and this about refugees and people in war torn countries. These books aren’t gloomy. They are honest about the hardness of the situation but they also see the light and joy in things. These are not books I come away depressed from but come away having learned something of another culture, another way of life, that I would not encounter in my daily life. The things I read are much harder than what I’ve been through. No matter what are papers say we are blessed to live in the UK. And yes there are things here that need to change, justices that need to be sorted, I’m not saying that. Same as I’m not saying that one shouldn’t grieve for those we’ve lost. What I am saying is that we need to see the blessings in the sadness, see the joy in the sorrow, see the light in the darkness.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde Lady Windermere’s Fan

Which way do you want to look?

Categories
Bible choice choose life circus deuteronomy God life mindfulness

Deuteronomy 30!

As I ponder my life today there is a long list of things that I am happy and grateful for – from sunshine and a washing machine to friends and family. Each of these can be countermanded by a negative – too much washing, friends sick and struggling, uncertainty about seeing family. It was then that these verses struck me. God goes on a life-and-deathlot, it seems, in the Old Testament about whether to choose death or life, blessing or curse and I must admit I never quite got it. I was a bit like “why would you choose death or curse? Surely everyone chooses life and blessing!” But I know a lot of people who will look to the negative – the family visit and list all that could go wrong, the day out in the sunshine waiting for the rain, etc. I never realised until today when I was doing my “mindfulness” stuff of looking at the good things in my life – my blessings – that it is about attitude as much as what we do. So today I’m not going to steal anything, murder anyone, covert anything, hopefully not use God’s name in vain, etc, but I could very easily slip into the negative thinking.

Example – I’m off to the circus tonight. All very exciting. It’s an interactive one with pancakes. But I have to catch the train to meet up with my husband so we can go now or never circus.jpgtogether. I could very easily be dreading catching the train, worrying that he’ll be late, being nervous as to what they are going to be doing with pancakes, anxious about going and doing something I’ve not done before. I have a choice. Do I want life and so be looking forward to it and seeing it all as a blessing, or do I choose negativity and death and spend my whole day under a curse?

Relationships – now we all struggle with relationships whether family, spouse, friends, workmates, people we see in passing (though these seem to be easier to deal with 🙂 ) . Each of us can choose who we view those relationships. If we are always putting someone down then that relationship becomes a curse and in the end we often have to kill it off, but if we are always saying and thinking good of someone, even if they can be a bit of a pain, then that relationship is a blessing and we want it to live.

So today I list all the things I have to look forward to – all the blessings in my life. I will not do that in a Pollyanna sort of way and believe they don’t all come with difficulties. I pollyannawill be real and honest about them – like the catching the train tonight. If I don’t catch it I won’t get there. I will have to eat and walk the dog beforehand and I do find having set times to do things in my life isn’t what my personality enjoys. So I know it will be hard but I can choose to look at the things I don’t like or I can choose to focus on the good.

We’re off to my son’s new regiment’s family day on Saturday. Again this is a mix of good and bad and I can choose how I focus on it. It is a long way to go; he will be stressed; it will be busy; we don’t know what’s happening. But I will get to see my son and his fiancée and I haven’t seen either of them since Easter; because it where he is stationed is an hour from where we used to live we can catch up with friends; and we get to bring my daughter home with us for her birthday. Which will I focus on? Which will give me life and which death?

So those verses in Deuteronomy 30 and other places are not about physical death but life.jpgabout that thing inside of you, that part of you that is alive. Your soul? Your spirit? I’m not sure what it is called but it is that part of each of us that either draws or repels others. Today I chose life.

Categories
Barefoot At The Kitchen Table being me change choice christmas empty nest no newsletter

No Newsletter This Year

mail-chimp-no-newsletter-square-fiI’ve not done a newsletter this year. The reason being that there is so much to say, so much has changed, but also that life is not standing still. I could have written about my volunteering work at Gwrych Castle but just as I was about to write things changed. Not majorly but just a little slip and change. I could tell you about my writing workshop business and what is going on there but then something does a little change. With the Barefoot At The Kitchen Table things I would have said that I was giving up doing overly writing for well-being and only doing creative writing workshops at Gwrych and the Memoir ones. But then I got an email from someone in the health service asking if I’d do some well-being with her clients, which was swiftly followed  by a text from someone saying her friend would like me to do some well-being writing with some homeless people works with. I could tell you how I’ve worked out the pattern of Airbnb hosting in this area but then for the second half of the year we have had one room booked out by the same person for over 4 months, the other room for over two and now have someone staying longer term. There is no pattern!

I could tell you how my children will be here for Christmas and what they are doing. You282-million-of-good-turkey-meat-trashed know I even ordered a turkey just before the end of November. But then my daughter says she’s off to New York with her boyfriend to have Christmas with her boyfriend’s family, and my son, who’s halfway through his basic training for the army says that even though he’s got a fortnight’s leave that this year they’ll spend Christmas with his fiancee’s family in Cornwall. Oh yes son got engaged in the spring!

I could tell you of the places we’ve been which have been good but then I realise that we’ve only had one week’s holiday in the whole year together. We’ve both had time off separately and been away for prayer support, seeing family, etc. But even then just when I thought of writing I would have had to squeeze in another place because we went to a wedding at the beginning of December.

kte335e7dd26I could list so many things that really you don’t want to here and so this Christmas/New Year I’ve decided not to send out a newsletter. My hope is that those who want to know what we’ve been doing will have kept in touch and if not will now use this as a time to say Hi. I love knowing what others are doing but most of those I care about I message – email, letter, phone, text – often, or follow on Facebook or Instagram. So my Advent vow has been to keep things simple, keep things relevant, and keep in touch more regularly.

Categories
accepting Airbnb allthingsarenew being me deciding doors Doris grief memories mixed emotions nature new year spring Storm walking the dog

Spring has arrived

220px-spring_in_stockholm_2016_28229It’s not just the blossom on the trees or the bud of new leaves, the singing of the birds chatting each other up or the primroses appearing, the clocks changing or it feeling warmer. The caravans have started to arrive in the caravan park I walk the dog past and the small animal zoo has opened again. Life is springing up all around.

But also I still see the remains of Storm Doris and the destruction she caused. The fallen tree I still have to climb over, the branches scattered in the park, the red tape around the trees made dangerous by the storm. It reminds me of my life. There are so many new and exciting things going on here. The doors that are opening

15-fallen-tree-across-the-path
Not where I walk but similar

are amazing and I am using my degree to its limits with the projects I am becoming a part of – both paid and voluntary. But there is still in my life the remnants of the storms that I have endured; a missing person here that I’d like to tell, a reason why we’re living here not somewhere else, the pains, stresses, and sadnesses that I carry even though this glorious awakening.

It does feel like spring has come to my life with the workshops, the projects, the challenges of different cultures with the Airbnb. I can truly see our vision coming to life and it is amazing. But there are times when I wonder why I feel sad and low and then remind myself of the storms that have passed through. At times it feels like they block my path and slow me down and that the climb over them is too hard. But climb over I do because the openings and new growth that are happening in my life are too good to stay 2cdbed97a3252cdb5d2744be0d0f852f_xland dwell on the storm. But as I acknowledge the fallen tree and step over it and walk around the scattered branches so I must acknowledge what has gone on and not try to walk as though it is all as it was.

For the land this spring is different because of the destruction that passed through but it will rise into new growth and so will I.

Categories
accepting choice deciding Doris friends hope life perspective Storm tenacity weather

Why Do Some Trees Fall And Others Not?

Oh I’m sure there’s a rational scientific explanation. In fact a man in the park told me that

16832087_10212235902283178_442374629970635782_n
Dog and I walk down this road every day. We’d only been home a couple of hours when my friend sent me this!!!

the whole row of trees where one fell all have dead roots so all will fall at some point. Ok so that’s a reason but why that one during Storm Doris on Wednesday? Why not another one? Why not all of them? So as I was talking to him a woman walked past us and we both said Hello to her as we always do then he said “her husband passed away recently” which I knew because she’d told me and she’d told me this is the reason she gets up and walks briskly round the park each morning before she starts her day. Then he said, as she moved further away from us “and she’s had cancer.” She’s still standing, still walking, still able to smile and say good morning.

In fact I know of a few people who are dealing with cancer, bereavement, ill health, divorce, etc who still have time for other people, who still get up each day, who still work, care, smile. Then I know others who are going through similar who have fallen; some to staying home all the time, some to drink, drugs, fighting, bemoaning everything, some even to suicide. So what makes some people fall and others not?

The glib answer could be God, but that’s not true. I know as many Christians who have fallen into that pit of despair as I do those who do not have a faith. I know as many people who are still standing swaying in the wind of the awful things the world is throwing who don’t have a faith as I do ones who do.

There is something more than knowing/not knowing God that has to do with this whole falling/not falling. I think some of it is personality. Some people can just see the positive through things, some can’t. I would say, from experience for myself and those I know, that as a Christian in hard situations it is the knowing that God is there, it is turning to God and

16910636_10154200464326296_21188395_o
Tenacity that took this from this on Wednesday to ….

not expecting Him to be a fairy godmother who sorts it out but that He is a true friend who walks with you through it all. For those who say they don’t know God I think it is a tenacity that they won’t let life pull them down, that they will make the most of what they have whilst they on this earth for themselves, their families their friends. I think it is that which causes those with cancers to keep going with

16997751_1346991101990468_1789800817263585915_n
…. this on Thursday. Some people do this with their lives too

their craft workshops, run marathons, get up in the morning and smile.

So why do some trees fall and others don’t? I think like people they have a tenacity in their trunk that makes them want to stay standing and be willing to face another storm.