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presumption Viewpoint

Not Everyone Views The World As I Do

Photograph taken whilst on a walk with husband and mother-in-law taken by myself, Diane Woodrow
Lambs, Lady’s Walk, Montacute April 2022. Taken by myself

I was really surprised yesterday at the writing group I was running that the two ladies who were there had never picked wild garlic and so never cooked with it. I then told a dog walking friend this and she had also never picked and eaten wild garlic. Her and I are now off to do that later this week. But it got me thinking of how many things I take for granted and think everyone can do them.

But it also clouds ones view of things. I know I would not be great at helping people who struggle with money because I have always been great at budgeting and of making money stretch. I am not 100% sure how I do it but I just do. So for someone to say they just cannot budget would leave me confused. But also I cannot map read. No matter how many times my husband shows me how to do it, and he is patient, I just can’t seem to get my head round it. I still am amazed that the sea is at the top of the map here. We live of the North Wales coast so for many of you that will be obvious but to me – Nope!

Too often when we talk about things, whether it is how we budget, what we eat, or try to share our faith, we come from the place of what we know. So for instance faith-wise we know what we know about God – and that can be different for each person – but we talk about it from what we have experienced, how it manifests to us, and then get frustrated with others from that point. This with the ladies at my writing group has helped me to see this. They are both over 60 and to me everyone has picked garlic.

With the Christian youth group I’m privileged to co-run I have started to ask the young people questions based on the liturgies and phrases they use about God, about their faith, about the out-workings of it all. When you say “I believe in God the Father” what do you mean by that? Because I am a writer I get them to write it down. Also I think there is space to say things in writing that you might not say out loud.

So for me from these ladies and that they had made it past 60 having never picked or cooked with wild garlic I am hopefully learning that my experiences of the world are mine and have shaped how I do and see things but not everyone has experienced, done or see what I have or in the same way I have. So instead of presuming I will start asking and wondering and learning and finding out.

Perhaps if we all started listening, learning and asking questions rather than presuming and going our way then there would be less fear, less anxiety and less fighting and wars?

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
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
2020 accepting Covid-19 different Jesus Listening lockdown mental health issues privilege

Privileged?

Photo by myself – Reykjavik Iceland early morning Oct 2016

One of the big things that is taught about how to look after your mental health is not to compare yourself to others because your trauma, your issues, your situation, is yours and it is hard for you. It may appear easier than someone else’s but that doesn’t matter. As lockdown has eased there have been more articles appearing about how those born from about 1990’s are struggling with lockdown and those born before 1965 are wondering what all the fuss is about.

I have been trying to write a blog post about rights and privileges but it hasn’t been coming. I did do one just after the Brexit vote which flowed but this one was not coming. Lots of drafts but nothing that made sense to what I wanted to write. Then, after receiving a forwarded article from a friend from her local vicar, and going for a long walk on the beach with the dog, it all fell into place.

In this article, from my friend’s vicar, he talks of all the major historic events that happened for those born in 1900 compared to those born in 2000. And yes those born this century have not had to deal with 2 world wars, plus 2 minor wars that the West was involved in, major economic crashes, and the Spanish flu, amongst other things. And yes those things are horrendous and are not comparable to not being able to go to school, not being able to hang out with friends, not knowing if you can go abroad on holiday, of having to wear masks, of being confined at home, miss out on growing and developing as an adult at university. No they do not compare but they are the issues that young people are having to walk through and it does not make them any less traumatic.

As another retired friend of mine said that even though she misses her friends and her clubs, etc, she has had a life that she can look back on when she’s at home on her own. There is the phone to call people and she’s getting the hang of video calling too. But as she says, she’s had her life. Even for myself, I missed seeing people for those first couple of months but now I can go visiting and am even off to England to see family. I’m even restarting horse riding today. I have reached a stage in my life where I don’t want much but that is because I have done things, travelled, partied, had freedom to come and go as I like, in my teens, 20s and 30s.

Also I believe our media has spent that this century pumping anxiety into us from climate change to Brexit to terrorism. We live in fear and are constantly in flight or fight mode but can do nothing to change it. So our young people have been born into this high anxiety media storm with social media and image over riding so much. So no it isn’t a World War pr any of the things listed above, but this lockdown is riding on the back of traumas, anxieties and much more. As well as the media portraying the pandemic as possibly never ending.

So let us be kind to those who look at some of things that we might see as privileges as their right. Let us try and understand why they feel this way and not just tell them that “it was harder in my day“. That really isn’t helpful. That piles on the guilt which makes anxieties even stronger. It becomes not just “what is wrong with the world” but “what is wrong with me“.

I’m sure Jesus would have listened to both the young and the old and all those in between without judgement or condemnation. Shall we give it a go?

Categories
accepting creativity God life Love mindfulness poem politics prayer relationships

Listening

Whilst away on a recent Interweave week one theme that kept reoccurring was “listening” and the whole theme of really listening properly. Or maybe it was just the word I caught hold of. It then jumped at me again when a friend told me about “listening prayer”, as in instead of praying for others after a quick intro from the person asking for prayer the people offering prayer spend time really listening to what the person wants. This can take up to an hour before the group will then pray and lots of questions are asked.

So do we listen? I mean really listen – to each other, to God, to ourselves, to what is going on. I have been interested to note during this moving process how often people latch on the the idea that we are moving to run a Bed and Breakfast establishment, when in fact we are talking about a hospitality house – which yes will have paying guests but it will be more than that. But it is like people just half listen and latch on to the words they understand.

Also what struck me was someone who said to me, after we’d listened to someone talking who didn’t ask about us, “but I used up head space planning what I was going to say.” How often when we are listening to others are we in fact planning what we are going to say next? Either about ourselves or sorting out something that hasn’t been said/doesn’t need sorting? Again I noticed talking to a friend who she had picked up certain things I’d said that she could then talk about but missed others – that in fact I would have liked to have talked about.

When we pray do we really  listen to God or do we just want to talk? To give our list of things we want Him to do? Or even just so we can say our piece? Surely prayer should be a time to listen because how can we do the will of God if we aren’t listening to what He has to say to us? Maybe this is why some prayers don’t get answered because actually God never said He we were to ask for that.

How many places do we get taught to listen? Really listen? And how often does it get modelled? As children we are expected to listen to parents, teachers, etc but these people then talk all over the children, so real listening isn’t modelled. When I did an Introduction to Counselling course one of the first things we were taught was to listen to what our clients were saying and then reflect back again. It slowed the whole process down, made both sides think a bit. The client had to think through what they were really saying. It stopped being just words.

Being listened to brings healing. One of the things with the Using Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes was to read back what you had written so that others could hear it. So healing comes through being listened to and that means listening to ourselves as well. So often we rush through our days not listening to ourselves. I am doing a course at the moment with The Gift of Writing and that involves slowing things down and listening to oneself.

Healing comes through speaking, writing, songs, poems, stories – the writing and reading of, the identifying with and journeying with. It is so great to real hear or read a piece of writing, a song, poem, someone speaking that resonates with where you are personally, that says “you are not alone in this”, to connect with someone else’s journey.

But also not being clearly heard brings a sense of alienation. Being told that someone “understands” when the person speaking wants to shout “no you don’t understand” cause that person, or nation, to close into itself to become prideful and alienated, to think that if someone doesn’t understand and is telling them what to do that they don’t really want to help, want to mould them into their own image.

I am not innocent of this. I catch snatches of what is said and decided that I know best in what they want, especially if I am tired or busy. My husband and I had to have a row to clear the air and really hear each other but that was because we were too busy and too much had been going on. As with the counselling where the conversation becomes slowed down so we must in our regular lives slow things down.

And maybe a radical thought – with nations that are warring, even ISIS we need to slow things down, stop jumping to conclusions and listen to what is being said. This is not to condone the atrocities but to try to understand, try to heal. I know this is different but I work with dysfunctional kids and they often get into fights, violent fights, but often it isn’t the person they are fighting with that they are angry with but a parent, a situation, themselves. We don’t have time or space in the day to listen to them so have to make judgements and so the hurt perpetuates, they withdraw and pride steps in.

Let’s slow things down please!