Categories
peace Transition

Transition

Photograph of Pensarn beach taken one warm evening by Diane Woodrow
The shoreline is always a place of transition. Taken by myself May 2022

I’ve just read this great article from Godspace about Transition and creating healthy boundaries for it. Whilst reading it I got a bit grumpy about how easy it is to create these boundaries when you are in control of the transition – which is not what the article says but what my brain decided to put in to wind me up because there had just been a transition within our family that I had not been brought into the discussion about and which, though not out of the blue, had wobbled me a bit. Only a bit.

But then actually if one reads the article without that grumpy, poor me attitude then it is about having things in place for when transitions come so one doesn’t get wobbled by them. I won’t go through each one but to say that it was the last one Transitions cannot be rushed that really got to me. But once I had calmed down – which involved taking the dog for a walk in the rain. And I do think there is nothing quite like North Wales drizzle to sort one’s mood out. Or at least it always works for me.

I came back realizing that even though the family members appeared to be rushing the decision they had probably been talking about it for a while. Just because my counsel had not been sort for whatever reason – and that is another thing – don’t go second guessing other people’s reasoning for asking or not asking for you counsel. That is very much a “grow up and get over it” that we have to say to ourselves and our attitudes when it comes to our children, I think.

Another aside – why is that often we find it so hard to see that our children have grown up and don’t need us to ‘parent’ them any more? Thoughts for another post one day maybe!!!

Anyway just because someone else is transitioning doesn’t mean that I have to go so fast. I can sit and ponder their decisions, their transitions, and I can slowly allow their changes to seep into my consciousness. And also though their lives are changing mine is staying the same and slowly but surely as I adjust to their changes I can allow their transition to become my transition.

I found this all very exciting. Sometimes though I do wish I didn’t have to have a grump beforehand. Though, and I know I keep pushing it, since I’ve been doing the QEC work around my issues, hurts and past traumas so I have found the grumpy times are getting shorter, the wise voice is coming in sooner and the peace is deeper.

So now as I process this transition – among the many other transitions that have gone on in these last couple of years – I feel a profound sense of peace. It is not my decision to decide someone else’s lifestyle choice, whether they are family or friends, and that really does give me enormous peace.

Jesus said “my peace I give to you” and as Naked Pastor said about love so I think is true about peace. It is all around us and there for anyone but we do just have to open ourselves to it. And being grumpy does stop that peace.

So as I transition into my family transition so I lean into that love, take it slowly and all that “peace that transcends all understand “to guide my heart and mind [Philippians 4:7]

Categories
Everyday Wrods writing prompts

Speak Simply

Pensarn Beach strand. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Taken this morning [27th April 2022] on my early morning beach walk with the dog

There have been a few ups and downs clouding my outlook and stopping me looking forward to my holiday. One of them, which might sound trivial, is these prompts from Everyday words. As I have said before they are so full and there is so much to think about that I have been doing them slowly. But they are now filling up my inbox and my “get it done” nature is struggling with them all. So I decided to take a new tack and am doing the ones that are most recent. So today I have done today’s prompt even though I still haven’t done Day 10’s. Coming from this approach has stopped me feeling so overwhelmed. I am learning too that sometimes life in general overwhelms me and I have to find a way out.

Preparing for a holiday can overwhelm me. I feel like there are so many things to get done – packing, sorting and preparing things for the animals that are either staying [the cat] or coming with us [the dog]. I feel like I need the house clean and tidy and all the washing done. Some of that comes from wanting to be kind to my future-returning-from-holiday-self, but it does make me panic a bit. This morning I was really pleased when my husband hugged me and thanked me for doing the washing so that there would be clean clothes for the holiday. It is probably from those words that the inspiration for this poem comes from.

Even though the PDF says one thing I am renaming it “Simple Things“. So the prompt comes from my friend Victoria Field’s poem ‘Dandelions’ which can be found in her new book A Speech of Birds. and Sarah’s suggestion of taking the line “Dandelions speak dandelion…. write about what they might say to each other”

My dog walk this morning was filled very much with the simple things of a dog enjoying being on a walk, of the sea and these lovely plants that grow on edge of the shore, of chatting with fellow dog walkers and a friend giving some wise advise. In my preparations for my holiday I need to keep the simple things in focus and not get all ‘Marthaed” and do what doesn’t need to be done.

Categories
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
Knowledge life Trees

Two Trees

Taken by myself August 2021

When the Bible talks of the “fall of man” it mentions a paradise garden and then two significant trees. I’m sure in paradise there would have been a lot more than fruit bearing trees. But these two are significant. I do also think that the story is a mythological story and not a factual story. My thoughts are that it tells of the human condition.

All of us inside our heads/minds/hearts have two major choices – do we choose life or do we choose the knowledge of good and evil? I’m sure there are many people already going “well of course we have to know what is good and what is evil or how will we know what is the right thing to do” but I’m not so sure if life is as black and white as we would like it to be. Lots of what we do [even Putin’s invading Ukraine, or the other atrocities that happen across the globe] are driven by the hurts and traumas we have experienced and also our putting things into good and bad boxes.

We would rather choose to know what is good and bad/evil than to choose life. In that bold statement I’m sure many would say “No I’d rather choose life” but I think it would be life with a caveat of the knowledge of good and evil.

God goes on to say that humankind has to leave paradise because if they then choose life as well as the knowledge of good and evil they will be like gods. I wonder if that is because humankind would still put that knowledge before life rather than being able to combine the two as I hope God can.

In doing some of this QEC counseling I slowly learning, as I’ve mentioned before, to let go of past traumas and to teach my heart/mind new statements about those traumas. I’ve forgiven and let people and myself go, no longer placing them or me in the good/bad box. I am bit by bit learning to look at things through the lens of “that is how I feel about it” rather than “good/bad”. Even some of the traumas that have wounded me I no longer look at as good or bad but as what is.

In fact I was working with a young woman on a project with Youthshedz and she tells her story very succinctly but also adds that all the things she has gone through are what makes her her and has brought her to the place she is. She talks of holding on to hope rather than boxing what has happened to her into good/bad. She is willing to explore the tree that will give life.

I do believe even as Christians we are not exempt from deciding whether things, people, lifestyles, etc are good or bad, and yet I don’t think God does that. I think God wants us to have life but also I believe God just wants us to trust them and talk to them and via Holy Spirit through prayer to trust them.

I was going an online yoga with Abbey of The Arts yesterday and at the end the instructor said that prayer is us talking to God and meditation is us listening to God. I think we do more praying and less meditation. Maybe we need to turn it around, hear from God/The Universe/Higher Being and so gain life and not worry about putting things into the good/bad box.

So today, not just with the people I meet but with God, I am going to try to really listen rather than just wait for my space to be able to speak.

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
dog mindfulness National love your pet day

National Love Your Pet Day – February 20, 2022

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.

Categories
presumption Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day


Free download on https://pixabay.com/photos/flamingo-valentine-heart-600205/

First published on Godspace on 12th February 2022

I always hated Valentine’s day as a teenager. There would be so much hype going round school as to who was going to get the most cards. Yet for me I got none. For me it was another day in my school life that I dreaded and wondered what was wrong with me with my flat chest, thick glasses, dental braces on my teeth, home-knitted jumper and second-hand clothes. All the pretty, popular girls woulbe showing off their pile of cards and loudly saying how many they had and looking with contempt at those of us who had not received any. When I was part of Family Ministries in YWAM Scotland one of the mums would get all three of her children Valentine’s gifts. I think her mother used to do that for her. That did not happen in our house. I wonder if it made her kids feel better or not.

There are various legends around who Valentine was. Though the one who might have brought him to fame would be that he allegedly performed illegal marriages for Christians who for whatever reason were forbidden to marry. But again it looks like the Catholic Church made his saint’s day special for commercial reasons. But as I have researched more things about St Valentine many sites say it could have been Christians reclaiming, or coming on the back of, depending on your stance, of a pagan fertility celebration. As with all things, even our own Welsh Valentine, St Dwynwen, there are many legends, stories and different ideas that surround the origins of these things, as well as our own viewpoint, hurts and expectations. So, as with so much we need to start where we are today not yesterday.

There was a lot of talk last year about things becoming the “new normal”, phrase I’ve noticed isn’t used quite so much but we are still in a new normal as we deal with life living with Covid-19 and all its variants. So it is with Valentine. Some will have family traditions they are comfortable with, others not so. Some will ignore it either due to their theology or to do with issues of their past. But if I have been really healed of my past, really am a new creation, really am living in my own new normal, then I need to have a look at this festival, this day which, whether I like it or not, will be acknowledge in shops, on TV, even on Google’s banner.

I’ve been working with a group of young people recently and one of things we’ve been looking at, amongst other things, is presumption – presuming we know what other people want and need because we have judged them from the outside. So for me this year, as I put aside my own hurts and expectation, and walking out in my new normal instead of selfishly trying to avoid this day or of presuming what my husband will want to do, I will ask. And as one looks at the ideas of love languages, one of the greatest gifts is to find out what those around you really want and not just walking out in your own love language think that you know best.

New normal, new Valentine’s Day, new expression of love – asking what others would prefer.

Categories
learning Viewpoint

Viewed Through Your Lens?

View across the Solway Firth looking from England to Scotland, photographed by Diane Woodrow whilst on holiday in this area in September 2021, and realising for the first time how much further Hadrian's wall went
The start/finish of Hadrian’s Wall taken by myself September 2021

Every thing we look at or interpret we interpret through our own lens, viewpoint, life experiences. I take a quote here from Michael Moore’s blog that I read this morning

Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing

by Thich Nhat Hahn taken from Learning by Michael Moore

I am reading and pondering on a lovely devotional book by my friend David Pott about the painting of Jacob and his sons that hang in Bishop Auckland Castle called Listening to The Boys. My interpretation of some of the paintings and thoughts are very different to David’s. Because I know him I know he is from a large, close family, who enjoy being together and has been married to the same person for over 50 years. Yes I do also know there have been challenges within the family but there has been a lot of support too. He is also a man – obviously.

When I read his thoughts and look at the paintings I am viewing them through the eyes of a woman who isn’t from a large close family and who has had very different life experiences to David. For instance when I read about Simeon and Levi killing the family of the man who raped their sister I, as a woman, side much more with them and their violent justice than I do with Jacob, their father, who is looking for reconciliation and expecting his daughter to marry the man who raped her! In fact, as a woman who would spent time wanting a father to stand in the gap for her I have often struggled with white, male preachers’ take on Jacob in this story.

I think this is where we have to be very careful when, especially in churches, we say “this is what this piece says”. Too often someone will stand at the front of church and speak for 10 minutes to over an hour, depending on the denomination, and say “this is what the Bible says” when in fact they should be saying “this is what I believe this is saying to me at this point in time“.

As a writer and author I know that what I write gets viewed differently by whoever reads it because the reader views it through their worldview/their lens and I have to learn that it does not mean I am wrong or they are wrong. It means I have to slow down and listen, really listen, and try to remove my world view, my experiences, etc.

I also this is this why it is so awesome to read books by writers of different countries, classes, ethnicities, sexualities, etc to myself. If I really listen, and don’t try to cover them with my known world I can learn so much – not just about the other writer but about myself.

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
being me blessing church community creativity driving friends friendship musicians relationships

Worth The Drive

So last night was our wedding anniversary and we drove for one hour fifty minutes one way and one hour thirty minutes the other to go to a small coffee shop in Manchester -going via Chester to pick up a friend to share this time with. Why did we do it? To see the img_20170127_205453428most amazing group of young musicians that we know – Orphan No More.

What makes them special and worth a trip like this on our anniversary? We met Josh and Kara, the founders of this gathering of musicians not so  many years ago when this was just starting and we believed in what they were doing so have been supporting them since. So we know them that’s one reason – Relationship. The key to so much.

Why  go via Chester adding half an hour at least each way to our trip? To pick up a friend that I went to university with who moved back to her home in Chester only weeks before we moved up here to North Wales. She came with us when we saw these musicians perform a couple of years ago when we all lived near Bath and I knew she’d enjoyed them as much as we had. Again – Relationship.

Talking of driving a long way for Relationship, my facebook memories tells me that this time two years ago we did a similar long journey to see my daughter in a play when she was at university. Relationship! And that was the reason we went all the way to Iceland for a wedding in September, and actually went to Oregon, USA nearly 10 years ago for another wedding. Relationship! I think there could be a whole blog just listing the miles we have driven or flown for Relationship!

Last night was not just about Relationship bur also about talent. The set was only about an hour and a half long but was so gifted. We saw Sophia do the hardest bit of being the opening act. She has the most amazing voice and sings about her life from her heart. She did really well to pull the crowd in and get people listening. Definitely a lady to watch. She was then followed by Tom Bishop, a spoken word poet and his alter ego Bish, a rap musician, who made us sit up and think as he rapped and spoke about Palestine, refugees and also our love for our homes. Amazing man and made us all think. (Unfortunately can’t find links for him so you can check him out. Will edit when I do) And of course headlining was the main man – Josh Luke Smith and his band. I must say I am always so amazed when I see talented singers like Kara Ann Marie and Rachel Jane will to be backing singers when they are amazing in their own right. As always his song “Carry Me” left me in bits. A song about a young person hurting their mother which hits me on many levels being both a mother and a daughter.

It was an evening that touched my heart in many ways. It was church in a different form. There was preaching as Tom told us to think about migrants, as Sophia got us thinking about relationships, as Josh reminded us who we were are and how we should be. For me I could feel God speaking and moving through it all. Yes we heard the words of God in a way that was fresh, real and deep. We didn’t get told how to behave but got challenged on how to think. There is so much more I want to write and probably will as I start to unpack what I heard and saw last night.

But for me this morning the thing I woke with was the importance of relationships and why I am who I am, why Ian and I are who we are, which actually has been echoed in the likes, comments and reactions to yesterday’s post. Relationships are hard but often worth driving to encourage.