Categories
connecting mental health

Psychological Privatisation

Jubilee Beacon, Pensarn, Conwy

I came across this idea from a Writer’s HQ newsletter and cannot find where to find out much more. This phrase “psychological privatisation” comes from Mark Fisher, who wrote Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, which I have not read but it is the quote from Goodreads and the paraphrasing from Writers HQ then what happened with the majority of the Jubilee beacons that got me thinking.

Disclaimer – I am not being negative of the Jubilee beacons. I think they were amazing and I loved both the turn out in my town and the whole concept, and the video by George Frost which I have taken this still from. I just think with all these things combined they are saying something about the times we are living in.

So I’ll start with the quote from Mark Fisher that was on Goodreads

“Instead of accepting the vast privatization of stress that has taken place over the last thirty years, we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill? The ‘mental health plague’ in capitalist societies would suggest that, instead of being the only social system that works, capitalism is inherently dysfunctional, and that the cost of it appearing to work is very high.”


https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9807275-instead-of-accepting-the-vast-privatization-of-stress-that-has

Or as Jo put it – and I paraphrase the paraphrasing –

Work and life demand too much of us so we are exhausted so we don’t ask our fellow human beings for help, for a better way of doing things. Instead we “try to make ourselves more efficient, push ourselves harder, buy into mindfulness and productivity strategies”, journal more, “and think the problem lies with us and not all the bullshit going on out there.” So we try to be “better” humans, more organised, do more, go faster, earn more, use our leisure time more “wisely”, then all would be fine.

All this stops us being more creative with our solutions and also more connected. It affects our mental health, leaving us more depressed, more anxious, more insular. It also, because we are tired, causes us to accept this crazy status quo and not be able to look for something different. Or even see that this is not working

So then along comes the Jubilee beacons. Now beacons of old were to send messages between communities either to say the enemy was in sight, a monarch was on their way, or as was had a long the North Wales coastline – a series of beacons that said a certain ship had been sighted off the coast of Anglesey and was on its way to Liverpool docks; that it had made a successful crossing. Beacons were for connection and for “passing it onwards.” The ones that happened on 2nd June all did happen at the same time with the same tune played and the same words said. Brilliant. But our little beacon did not see any other beacons and could not be seen by any other beacons. Also once everyone started to go home it was turned off and the burner taken home. There is no residue of a bonfire on our beach, whereas in times past these beacons would be left to burn out so everyone had a chance to see them.

I have a vague memory of lighting Jubilee beacons for the Queen’s 25th Jubilee, but they involved climbing to the top of a hill where the beacons of old were light and then the beacons were light one after the other. It all does happen very quickly.

But I think these beacons this year were a sign of how we are less connected at a deeper level. We are tired after the long pandemic, Brexit, strange election results in this country and the US, a war in Ukraine, the instability of life. Even with regard to the monarchy there is an instability. the Queen is not going to live much longer and then what? We don’t know. And when we try to talk about it we talk without listening.

I think the beacons were a sign. They were wonderfully organised, were efficient, used people’s time “wisely” but actually did not connect one community to another. At least not in a deep, supportive, holistic, “we need to change what we’re doing” sort of way. No trusting each other to “pass it on”.

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
holidays Remembering

Remember All Things Can Change

Photographed by Diane Woodrow on her 61st birthday
Isle of Kerrera 2nd May 2022 taken by myself

We’ve just been away on a week’s holiday up in Scotland which is why I haven’t posted for a bit. It was lovely to hang out together, walk, talk, eat, drink and just be. One day my husband went off up a mountain and the dog and I stayed back at the cottage, did a couple of little walks and I wrote. The reason for going away this last week was that it was my birthday.

Birthdays are great times of remembering, of noticing the changes, of connecting. Last year on my birthday we were sat on a more touristy beach in mid-Wales watching jet skiers buzzing about and listening to children asking for ice creams. This year we were sat on top of a hill looking out to sea. It was peaceful but I’m sure when the castle was built there it saw its fair share of noise and mayhem. And then two years ago we were trapped in our house on lockdown enjoying the back garden and quiet of our town as next to nothing was driving about. How things have changed in these last couple of years. Now our town is back to its normal noisy self.

It got me to reflecting on seasons. So for now this castle of the Isle of Kerrera is a peaceful walkers destination, but once it was the site of a major battle towards the end of the Jacobite wars. But even before then it would have been a home not just of a nuclear family but to the entourage that goes with castles.

We also visited Hadrian’s Wall which is now a peaceful deserted haven for walkers, but I do wonder what it was like 2000 years ago when it was filled with Roman soldiers defending the borders of the empire.

Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Part of Hadrian’s Wall at Millcastle photographed by myself 7th May 2022

So from looking back on 3 years of birthdays to 600 years of Scottish history to nearly 2000 years to the Roman Empire it got me to thinking how we hold so tightly to the now as being the full reality.

And I know in mindfulness we are encouraged to be in the present and not to worry about the past or the future, but sometimes I think it helps to know that this present we stand in is not how it always has been or how it will always be.

There was much talk about yesterday – 9th May – Europe Day – which marked not only the end of the Second World War but also Schumman’s speech which led to the founding of the European Union. The world has not stood still over the last 75+ years. And as we see war in Europe again with the Russian invasion I think it would help to see that, awful though this is, it is just a phase that history is going through and hold it lightly. Who knows what things will look like in a year, in two, in ten, in twenty, in a hundred?

I’m sure those standing guard on Hadrian’s Wall or in the castle on the Isle of Kerrera when it was being besieged would ever have imagined their land being a place of tranquility but it is. I’m sure at the time they prayed for peace and now it has come.

So let us pray for peace in our world and know that one day it will come.

Categories
Prompts writing

Everyday Words – prompt for 5th April

Photo of stakes and safety nets taken by Diane Woodrow whilst walking with her dog.
Abergwyngregan Nature reserve, 8th April 2022 taken by myself

I like this picture because it is a bit smudged. I took it on Friday when I was out on a long walk, which culminated in coffee and a bacon buttie, with my dog, getting away, getting some headspace and pondering the poem I had started whilst I was working in the pub the day before. The prompt came from Sarah’s Everyday Words prompt for Tuesday 5th. So as you can see I am a long way behind.

I have gone in a totally different direction to the prompt, which as I have said before is not a bad thing. A prompt is to prompt one to write something not to hold one in chains as to what to write. But it also got me thinking about God and the Bible and of how both those can be used not to prompt us to explore but to hold us in chains. How often do we get told that the Bible means X and if we don’t agree when we are wrong? How often do we hear someone’s interpretation and then worry what is wrong with us because we don’t agree?

I very much think that God allowed the Bible, and many other religious texts, to be written as springboards to get us thinking, so see what direction we would head off in. I do not believe there is a right and wrong in interpreting God’s word however it comes it us. I do believe that the base line for it is the commandment that Jesus told us – to love God with everything we have and to love others as ourselves – which is why I would disagree with any war, genocide, abuse, control, etc that is done allegedly “in the name of God”. But with that as our base line then we go onwards and outwards and explore from there.

So as well as creating this little poem that I’ll share with you from Sarah’s prompt I have also had chance to explore God. Again it is amazing what one little carefully thought out prompt can lead.

So the prompt was based on a poem by Mohja Kahf called The Aunty Poem (Mi Privilege Es Su Privilege)  For me it was Sarah’s final suggestion that sent me off on what support and safety nets can mean to me and here is what came to me, Safety Nets. It was good and therapeutic for me to write this, as it often is I find with writing poetry rather than journaling around things as I have said before. But also it excited me to what a prompt can do.

So remember – no right, no wrong – no write, no wrong 🙂

It is also why I’ve just put this prompt up alone because of the “more” I wanted to talk about. But also that the prompt for 6th April has even more meat in it and I’ve been chewing that over all weekend!!!

Categories
Flexible trust

Flexibility

Photograph taken by Diane Woodrow
View from a walk taken by myself

I had a plan on Friday. Sarah from Everyday Words had just started her series of prompts for Write a Poem a Day in April because April is National Poetry month. My plan was to write from her prompts each day and post them through out April on both this website and my website, Barefoot At The Kitchen Table, which I use to promote my writing workshops to get a bit of footfall through there. Well as you can see that did not happen.

Instead I got a job!!!

A friend of mine works in a local pub and is going to be off work for 4-6 weeks for a much needed operation. I’d been pondering about asking if I could do some shifts whilst she was off as things are quiet with regard to writing workshops, and was hoping maybe if my time was more focused I might just write more. Anyway I never got around to asking. But on Friday morning her and I were off out for coffee. She was having a quick chat with the landlord of the pub about something else when I turned up at her house and said “need to go as Diane and I are off for a coffee”. She was on speaker phone and he shouted “Diane, do you want a job?” So instead of going for coffee we went to the pub where I had a quick interview and started work that self same evening.

It meant that my head was in a bit of a different place and also I had to get done those things I wouldn’t have time to do. But mainly it was because I was really nervous about starting.

Funny isn’t it how I’ve been doing all this trusting in God/The Universe to sort things out for me and yet when they do it all of a sudden I go into a bit of panic – adrenaline. But also I did not go into sorting out my autonomic nervous system [ANS] but just allowed myself to be in freeze mode for a bit.

What this has showed me is that one’s ANS goes into fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode over change as much as over good/bad things. It is always there to protect us from the perceived dangers out there – which is great because I don’t want to be eaten by a lion – but also don’t want to be in high alter mode just about starting a new job.

Some of the panic was also because I had already planned what I was going to do Friday night and had to change that. No matter how much I talk about having flexible boundaries, of being aligned rather than set in hard stone, of trusting and going with the flow, I still like my safe routines, my knowing what is going on.

So once I had worked that out I was then kind to myself about how I felt, let expectations go and was able to really enjoy Friday night – even though some very drunk man decided to kick off and I got a pint of larger poured all over me.

I so love that life isn’t settled, that it is a learning curve and as Beth commented on another post “we are only human after all”.

So I shall enjoy learning, enjoying being human, enjoy making mistakes, enjoy knowing that I don’t have to stay in a state of anxiety and can more on.

Also with this job I am going to have to learn to go with the flow because it is Sunday morning and the landlord still hasn’t sorted the rota out for next week so I will just have to trust that it will all be fine 🙂

[Post for the Everyday Words prompts will start coming as from tomorrow 🙂 ]

Categories
Castle Security trust

Castles!

A castle in Gwynedd, North Wales, photographed on my husband's birthday in June 2018. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Dolbadarn Castle. Taken by myself June 2018

Last night I had two dreams with castles in them. I have looked up what “dreaming about castles” means and there are many different interpretations. Then I journaled around and about castles for myself.

I’ve had a few things going on recently that have left me a bit insecure and I think that might have been the reason for the dream. I want something safe and secure – for myself and my loved ones. But being a medieval historian as well as a writer I know that castles aren’t as secure as one would like. It is a perceived security not a real one.

A castle could be besieged; wall dug beneath and weaken or surrounded and wait for the occupants to stare or throw in contaminated meat and poison the occupants. Castles weren’t as safe as one would have liked them to be.

So I wonder whether sometimes we try to build things like castles – boundaries, walls, barricades – in our hearts, lives, work, relationships – to try to keep out the things we perceive to be bad and keep in the order of things we perceive to be good. And it is our order we can contain within our castle walls – when not being besieged. But all we are doing is exerting our control because of our fear and lack of trust in ourselves, others, the Universe, God. But all of these things need lots of maintenance and effort. And all can be destroyed.

Even though I think in my heart I want to build strong castle walls to keep myself safe and to exert my control on the things I know, even though it looks strong that it is in fact fragile. Instead I need to be in the open, be free to the changes of the seasons, trust in those around me, trust in God/the Universe, let go of fear.

If I do this I can be free to run in open meadows not trapped within castle walls. It may seem more scary out there but in fact, if I can trust then I can be free

Down on the Abergwyngregan coastal path. Photographed by Diane Woodrow
Categories
Resist Submit

Submission

Sea birds that were calmly feeding on a sandbank flying off as they submit to the incoming tide. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Seabirds submitting to the incoming tide. Taken March 2022

Submission is something that is often preached on, especially within the “Wives submit to your husbands” [Eph 5:22] generally meaning “wives do what your husbands tell you.

I read this quote by Shams of Tabriz when I was reading “Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak a while back and it got me thinking

Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission a power that comes within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

Rule 34

This got me thinking. Submission is not about obeying and doing what you are told but able accepting the situation, of staying tranquil when all around you is falling apart. It is finding something deep within and living calmly.

Then this verse from James popped into my head. My son learned it by heart when he was about five and would shout “flee” at the top of his voice at the end.

Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee

James 4:7

James is actually talking about how people should stop arguing with each other, stop being proud, stop needing to be right. For him the “devil” was the thing in side which makes as do things that upset others and upset ourselves. So if we submitted to God, that calm space within us, and also if we believed we were loved unconditionally we would not need to be angry, not need to fight, not need to fear, not need to be prideful, have nothing to be anxious about. We could go to that place that Shams talks about the divine essence, the tranquility within.

So how do we do that? I am going to sound like a worn out record but I do think it comes from slowing down, from not rushing into doing or saying things, acting not reacting, which I think comes from not thinking we need to be busy busy busy all the time.

We accept. We breath. We allow peace to come from within. And once we let that out then we can submit in all situations because we are allowing something bigger than us to take control. Submission is like trust. We can submit if we trust that something bigger will support and take care of us. Only then can we “resist the devil”; the sum of all our fears and anxieties.

Categories
lent meditation Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero – 24th March 2022

From https://www.mccrimmons.com/shop/church/st2e-oscar-romero-cross/

Today I’ve been asked to share a meditation for our church’s Lenten Zoom sessions. The readings are from Galatians 3:26-4:7 about how we are true heirs within God’s family, all fully adopted and all equal. The vicar also put up a reminder that it was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero, a Catholic priest in El Salvador who was shot for preaching about corruption in the government and how the government and army were killing poor people to get rid of them.

As I read through the verses and thought about Oscar Romero I wondered how often we see God as the one who answers all our prayers if we are really part of his kingdom, if we pray enough and in the right way. But are we really willing to stand up for truth and justice even if it means we could be killed, our families harmed, what we hoped for never happen in our life time? Oscar Romero was willing to. Oscar Romero died for it. But then again Jesus did all that his Father asked of him and look what happened to him. How often are we willing to step out and do what is right even if if has dire consequences?

Here is the PDF of my meditation for Thursday 24th March

I hope you enjoy spending time reading it. I know it has challenged me and I hope it challenges those few who turn up on Zoom today

Categories
family Menopause

My Sister

Photograph of my sister doing what she loved best, being with horses, probably over 30 years ago!

Today is the 10th anniversary of my sister’s death. She was working as groom at an event, went to the bar that night, had a few drinks, took the wrong exit from the bar. It was pitch dark and she feel into a drainage ditch. Why she went out the wrong way and why no one stopped her going that way are questions I know I have often asked.

But my sister was no saint. She wasn’t one of those people who with all honesty we could say, as you see on too many headlines, was the “salt of the earth”, “made everyone happy” and those other sugary headlines. My sister was hard work. I have memories of her telling me off for rolling cigarettes in a pub on the edge of Virginia Water. I was in a grunge phase at that time. She would tell me I was bring my children up wrong.

When she died she was going through a very public and acrimonious divorce which she was conducting on Facebook accusing her husband of many things. True or not true we will never know. She would also phone me up and scream at me down the phone telling me what an awful wife I was being. She was hard work.

I think observing other women who hit menopause and go suddenly really strange that she was going through some major hormonal imbalance due to menopause which no one ever picked up. Or if they did she never told us. I have other friends, who are no longer friends, who just changed personality in their 40s, totally altered their belief systems and way of living, accused their partners and others close to them of the strangest of things. Something odd goes on.

Again I do believe that with a lot of “women’s issues” that they are dismissed, not looked into closely, or like many things that involved our minds and emotions, are feared and not looked at as they should be.

I do believe we need to start looking at the menopause and the change women go through at this time in more details. There needs to be real help available and we need to talk about it. Though as I know from my daughter it is only now that we really talk about periods and the changes that go on in adolescence.

So we need to get this conversation out in the open. We need stop hiding behind what appears to be some medieval superstition about menstrual blood. These are major changes that go on not just with a woman’s body but with her mind and emotions too. Let’s get this out in the open. And I’m afraid ladies that is going to be up to us to be more open, honest and real about the s**t we go through.

Categories
Courage faith

Role Models

Picture of a path through the woods with the sunlight peeking through. Taken by Diane Woodrow
Picture from my morning walk – 14th March 2022 – taken by myself

I was reading Jon Kuhrt’s blog on Herd Immunity this morning – [and I know I use parts of his blogs often, but that is because what he writes resonates with me. I would suggest everyone sign up to follow him.] It was the part about Courage and Faith that I pondered as I was dog walking this morning, and of how to be able to live in Courage and Faith we need to have role models to help us walk it out.

The picture above is of a walk I used to do regular but then, for some reason, I got nervous climbing up the steep track to get to it. Everyone who climbs it says they get out of breath but for some reason I decided it was beyond me. Also there are loads of lovely walks around me that I could do so it wasn’t a great hardship. Then on Friday I met up with a friend for a dog walk. She lives at the bottom of this hill so suggested going up there. And we did. And I realised why I loved going so much – the trees, the light through the trees, the peace, being above the town – and so this morning my dog and I went up there. And we loved it. But we needed that supporter, that role model to encourage us back up.

But that was what got me thinking about living in courage and faith and not getting caught in herd immunity. If one has always been brought up with being fearful, of not stepping out, of not disagreeing with people, of believing what is taught or told from the media, of believing the world is dangerous, of deciding that God only answers prayers if they go a certain way, even that God isn’t quite to be trusted, to never say No because you need to be a “good girl”, to always need friends around you whether they enlighten you or drag you down. All those things encourage people to live in fear, anxiety, distrust, doubt, and feel safe agreeing with their herd, their tribe, their group.

But if one doesn’t have a role model to help your live in courage and faith one can swing in the opposite direction. So when one has been told not to disagree and wants to breakaway then one can swing to being angry and argumentative and always defending their point of view. If one wants to breakaway from being brought up not to trust God or others, and that the world is a dangerous place, one could swing so far the other way that it becomes a blase, “Pollyanna” way of life. If one has been brought up never to say No and wants to change from that, one could move into always saying No even to good things. If one been brought up not to be courageous then one can step out and take too many risks and get hurt or hurt others.

So we need to have role models to help us walk courageously along the path chosen for us. We need to have role models who model true trusting faith in a mighty creator who loves us unconditionally. To find them we need to be bold. To find them we need to test if they are what they say they are. To find them we need to not follow the herd to next big name, the next big issue, the next big thing.

We need to test the waters. We need to be bold enough to look within ourselves. We need to be healed from the need to follow the herd, to be safe with a crowd. That is not to say we need to be on our own but we need to be with people we can be ourselves in all our fallenness and that we can accept their fallibility.

We need to not be swayed by the waves of media which feed our fears but be bold enough to really listen to what God/the Universe is saying to us. Then we too can be role models to others.