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”.

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media prayer

There is so much more going on in the world than the media tell us

https://wildfiretoday.com/2022/05/08/updates-on-wildfires-in-northern-new-mexico/

I receive a weekly email from a woman who runs a ranch in New Mexico which she uses for healing retreats. Today’s one is full of her grief about the fact that her ranch is being destroyed by the wildfire that is sweeping across New Mexico killing people, destroying lives, making people homeless and jobless, killing animals, destroying nature, and changing the landscape of a huge expanse of the US. President Biden has declared it a state of emergency. And this is in a country with very little social support which – even though we criticise it deeply here in the UK – we do take for granted.

I also receive a newsletter weekly that ask me to pray for persecuted Christians around the world. Some of things these believers endure is horrendous. Again here in the UK we get very little persecution or even abuse.

But it got me thinking of how much the media controls what we know about the world. Yes the war in Ukraine is awful but it is not the only bad thing going on. Yes there will be a huge knock on effect with food but it is not the only place where our food comes from that might be struggling.

But these things I have mentioned – New Mexico wildfires, Ukraine, persecuted Christians – I only mention because they are things I can connect with. I did also get an email from UNESCO asking me to give money to children starving on the Horn of Africa. I did have to look up where it was. And I am sure the wars and climate change that have caused these children to be starving will effect more than just them. There will be a knock on. But it is in the news? No.

Too often we get caught in the trivial. And yes our politicians should held accountable but it should not fill our news screens. Yes we should know about wars not just that affect those with a similar skin colour to us but also those whose skin colour is different. But again it should not fill our news screens.

I wonder often how we can get a fuller picture of what goes on in our world?

I was talking to my husband, who is an avid news watcher, who says he watches the news so he knows what to pray. A very valid reason too. But I did wonder if maybe we/I should be asking God to show me where prayer is needed though listening to that Still Small Voice. I wonder if then maybe, just maybe, my prayers would be directed where they are really needed.

But as I write this I realise too that it is hard to find that time to sit, to be still, to hear the small voice, and to know what is needed prayer wise. Maybe I’ll start to try and get back to you – or maybe, like too often, I’ll just get busy and forget! Or maybe even turn a blind eye and hope it all goes away?

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
poem Prompts writing

Everyday words April prompts – 6th and 7th

Amazing colours and frosts looking over a local park in Abergele, Conwy taken by Diane Woodrow
Picture of my local park April 2022

So I am steadily getting further and further behind with these prompts and loving them more and more. These two clash, contradict and I think compliment each other. One is based on the horrors unfolding in Ukraine and other other was written Easter Saturday morning whilst we were staying in our friend’s house.

So this one from Day 6 was inspired by Laurie Wagner’s poem Things I Didn’t Know I Loved For me this has an even more poignant feel after I’ve read the Joel News report from Ukraine. Joel News’ remit is to show the good news that is happening in the world, to show where God is moving. And yet this week’s one talks of the awfulness of the war in Ukraine and of the coming global famine. It makes one ask “Where is God in all this?” But also one of the things I’ve learned with QEC is that to keep aligned and not get into high stress I need to be grateful. So really this poem is about what I realised I was grateful for and often take for granted. I’ve also called it Things I Didn’t Know I Loved.

This next one from Day 7 comes from a poem by Catherine Smith called Hero, about a bus driver really. But one of the prompts was ‘Where would you go to if a bus driver would take you absolutely anywhere?’. I did the prompt whilst we were staying down south visiting mothers and friends. It was a busy weekend and I was up early with the dog sitting in our friend’s conservatory enjoying some time out – something that I realise I do need to add to my “Things I didn’t know I loved” poem. So here is “Where would I go if I could go anywhere?” This one also comes with photos of the view I had.

As Brits we can have a perchance for moaning about what we do not have. Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves what we do have, but also then to remember to pray for those who do not have. We must never get smug and complacent, but I think that by being grateful one can learn to not be complacent and also to pray others can have what we too often take for granted.

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Albert Einstein daydreaming

Albert Einstein

Picture taken from The Guardian online from March 2015

It was Albert Einstein’s birthday yesterday. If he was still alive he would be 143!! For me Albert Einstein was the archetypal mad professor with the wild white hair, the grumpy face and that he did some amazing scientific things.

This morning I was reading an article about him and this open paragraph struck me.

Albert Einstein was allergic to authoritarians. His dislike of dogma, playful nature, and ability to constructively concentrate let him visualize unorthodox ways the universe might operate. Some of these proved to be true. Daydreaming his way to deeper understandings was his superpower. It can be ours, too.

https://www.space.com/albert-einstein-social-justice-modern-world

Daydreaming his way to deeper understandings was his superpower. It can be ours too” I know that in this article it probably means in scientific discovery but to me we need that deeper understanding in so many things in our world today – with Russia and Ukraine, with global warming/climate change, world poverty, racism, sexism, wars, hate, etc. As we pray do we just pray peace or do we daydream to deeper understandings of what the solution could be.?

As a creative person it made me wonder how often I stick to the status quo not being will or able to daydream to a deeper understanding. Not being able to write to a deeper understanding.

Ok so I’m not going to do some of the amazing things that Einstein did but I can daydream to deeper understandings and from there I can pray in deeper understandings. When things settle between Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world do we want it to go back to the status quo or do we want a deeper understanding of peace, of the whys of the war, of the whole situation?

Actually this phrase “daydreaming of a deeper understanding” fits in with my prayers this morning which were for the “wounded Russia bear”. So now I will add to what came to me this morning and pray in deeper.

But also we can all take this into our personal lives. I’m sure few of us have perfect personal lives but to know that I could “daydream to a deeper understanding” of my life, of my next steps in my life, in the situations within my family, my friends, my town, etc is exciting and to me continues my thoughts on Praising when Life Is Not Fair and going onwards from there.

So let’s keep away from the herd mentality, keep away from dogma, be playful and remember that daydreaming isn’t just for children, but that it could change our understanding of our world.

Categories
honest Praise

Life Isn’t Fair

plants struggling to break through the shingle on a beach somewhere taken by Diane Woodrow
Scottish beach – Sept 2019 – taken by myself

I’ve just written an email to some people in my writing group about another member of our group telling them how ill she is and how fast she has deteriorated. It has been therapeutic to me to put all that in words to them but has left me going “life isn’t fair”. Here is a lady who was intelligent, articulate, neat, tidy, organised, independent, one of those women one wants to be when one gets to late 70s/early 80s. Yet over the last few months she has lost weight, lost confidence, lost her independence, now needs her daughter living with her, is refusing to wear clean clothes and even has lost power in her voice. The medical profession doesn’t know if it is physical or mental – my thoughts are probably both – but all they are doing is throwing pills at her because they really do not know what else to do.

What do we do when life isn’t fair? Where do we go? In Joel News they are sharing about Ukrainians praying for peace and praising God though all that is going on, of Yuriy Kulakevych, a national leader in the Pentecostal church in Ukraine sharing about amazing events and miracles There is so much in this email that I would love to share it all but I won’t.. These people are being amazing at focusing on praising God and not bemoaning their circumstances.

I shared the email with a friend and this is what she said –

I think the first thing is positioning ourselves before God with honesty and gratitude then change follows….I remember praising God very intensely a couple of years ago when I was depressed, and became closer to Him/Her than ever before.

Response from a friend that I shared the email with

So my thoughts are when I feel life isn’t fair I need to move into being open and honest with God and then being grateful for God, for the things within the situation, then just praising God for being God not for what is going on, then waiting on God/the Universe to wrap me up and hold me through it all.

Stories about these Ukrainians are not unique. In most places where there are really awful things going on – war, persecution, hunger, poverty, sickness – many, many Christians turn to praising and being honest with God and then they themselves change within that situation.

All I can say is that if they can in their situations then I can in mine – with my friend, with my fears, with everything – I am going to praise God

Categories
different remember

Nostalgia

Photo of Porth Padrig graveyard taken by Diane Woodrow of Barefoot At The Kitchen Table
churchyard at Porth Padrig, Anglesey taken by myself Jan 2022

Living in a county crammed with history it is easy to get nostalgic for a past era. In fact my daughter and I were messaging last night and were saying that we missed lockdowns, though at the time when I look at my diary entries no one enjoyed them at all. But we can look back and miss those quiet times with nothing to do – even though we were chomping at the bit to get and do things.

In 2018 I did some work with a local high school based around WWI and was amazed how we sanitised it and looked at it as a time when people banded together to help each, of heroism, of being united. We are distanced from the death and horror by 100 years.

I wonder with all that is going on, and has been going on over the last few years – Brexit, pandemic and now the Russia/Ukrainian war – how history will view it. One cannot even guess because we are living through it.

But even things that we lived through, like lockdowns, we look back on in a different light.

So I think this means we need to be careful as we apply comparisons from history to what is happening across the world – whether Ukraine, pandemics, Yemen, etc. It is said that people don’t learn from history but I think that is because each time something happens the world is different and so history can show something but not enough or too much to help stop wars, stop abuse, stop things from happening, or make things happen.

As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in 544 B.C., is alleged to have said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” which means that the conflicts, issues, problems, projects, that are going on at the moment are not the “same river” so we must not expect it to be. And also we are looking at things with through a nostalgic lens – whether rose-tinted or not.

So let us be careful as we make comparisons from history – yes history can lead to a conflict but there is much more going on in this present day. Perhaps we need to just focus on the here and now.

Just focus on the moment.

Categories
Higher Path walk

Choosing Pathways

With all the talk of the war in Ukraine and it being hard to forget it I thought I would show you some pictures my walks over the weekend just for a change of focus.

My husband was away for the weekend so the dog and I were home alone and the sun was shining. I wanted to go to Newborough Forest and beach. My daughter and I had been there two years ago just before words like pandemic and lockdown became common place. The weather was similar this weekend to the one two years ago and I really wanted to go, yet I realised I was nervous. Nervous of driving 40 miles to Newborough. Guilty that there are lovely places closer to me. But my heart was really craving to go.

So on Saturday I tried to make my heart change its mind by going for a walk by the sea. It was only 10 miles from my house and I combined it with a trip to get some colour charts to repaint rooms in my house. So fear and guilt were dealt with there, and also dog and I got to walk by the sea and enjoy.

Interestingly on that Saturday walk due to the battering the shore has received in recent months we could not go on our usual walk but had to take the newly constructed coastal path which took us higher up and so the view was different. Noticeably different.

But it wasn’t what my heart wanted and so on Sunday morning I gave in and decided to go. I was amazed at how nervous I felt. I can easily drive 40 miles without thinking about it yet something was nagging at me. I really had time to pray about some of my older friends who have been doing nothing since March 2020. Once their stimulation of going to groups, clubs, shopping, driving places, interacting with others was taken away their brains and bodies have reacted. For one it has moved her dementia forward quicker than if she’d still had that stimulation. For another it has caused her body to stop wanting to eat and she is exhibiting signs of anorexia. Fears and anxieties have grown in others where before they could have talked them through with someone else. So even though I could feel my stomach churning I decided to keep driving. Newborough was where I wanted to go.

Of course dog and I had a lovely time but even there due to the rain and winds we did not find the same paths and had to go a different way, which again led us to a higher path. Once again we were looking down on something we had walked along before. We walked for 2 1/2 hours, probably about 7 miles. And the sun shone all the time. I am glad I pushed through and did not let my fears and guilts and anxieties win the day.

As as you see on each walk I found a higher path. I feel there is something significant in that. I had to push down fears that would have made me pick somewhere else, and in fact even in my trying to pick somewhere else still I walked along a higher path. So maybe it isn’t whether I deal with my fears or stick to the easier way that will lead me to a higher path? But whatever it is I know I need to overcome my fears and push through.

With the way the last three years have gone – with Brexit, Covid and now Ukraine, plus climate change, rising prices, etc, etc, etc – there are a lot of things to be fearful of. Yet I think after my weekend walks that we need to push through our fears and walk that higher path – however that looks to each one of us.

Categories
peace Russia Ukraine

Thoughts For Sunday

Photograph by Diane Woodrow
Is it a path or isn’t it? Taken by myself March 2022

I read both these blogs yesterday and wanted to share them as I feel they are both saying similar things – as in God having good plans for us but at times it might not look like it, but we need to walk out in a calm trusting way.

“This is an urgent time and the task of the Christian is to learn how to maintain that urgency without getting panicked, to stay on our toes without caving into the culture. This is not a benign culture where everything is going to be fine. Everything is not going to be fine.”

by Eugene Peterson shared on Jon Kuhrt’s blog for Saturday March 5th 2022

Jon then goes on to share all of Habakkuk because, he says he has “heard echoes of Habakkuk’s conviction and faithfulness in the face of overwhelming challenge in many of the voices of ordinary Ukrainians in the past week.”

Then in Godspace’s post for March 4th by Kathie Hempel she shares thoughts from Jeremiah about not letting “the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:8-9 NIV)” and of how when Jeremiah says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These people then had another 70 years of hardships to endure. It was not a quick fix.

For me both of these blogs are reminding us to stay close to God, keep listening rather than talking [meditating rather than praying], and trusting. My husband read “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.” from the end of Habakkuk at his dad’s funeral. It isn’t an easy portion to read when something awful is going on.

My prayers are that those in Ukraine and Russia and all across the world where awful things are happening can hold on to God, stay aligned with God through the awfulness they are going through and somehow find peace, trust and to remain faithful to something greater than their situation.

Categories
Focus priorities

Who Guides Our Priorities?

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow at end of Feb 2022 Taken whilst she was walking on a Saturday morning with her dog
Morfa Conwy Feb 2022

How often have you wondered who guides what you priorities? What you focus on? What you worry most about?

Today there is much talk across the Christian community of Ash Wednesday being a day of prayer for Ukraine, which is great. It really is. But what about the other things? But if I dig a bit on various news-feeds I read about ethnic inequalities, massive inflation across the world, there is still a climate crisis, there are still people being persecuted in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and still people dying from Covid across the world. But it is hard to find out any other news.

I remember back in September 2011 when the twin towers were destroyed and all focus on was on them. A friend who worked with orphans in Africa said more children had died of starvation and AIDS in one day than had died in the twin towers. Or when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident the pastor of the church I was attending at that time asking us to pray for all the other people who had died in car accidents that night who would be lost under the media coverage of her death.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this situation in Ukraine is awful as was the Twin Towers disaster, but I do think too often we then forget other things. We forget had forgotten that there had been Russian oppression in parts of Ukraine for over 10 years because the media got bored and turned us to other things. We get bored of hearing the same thing day in day out.

We are fickle human beings and, I believe, more so now with 24 hour news, internet access, etc. I think too that if this conflict in Ukraine hits a point where there are no big headlines we will move on to something else.

Is it that we don’t care? I don’t believe that at all. But I do think it is because when we are bombarded with news and information day in day out our brains cannot cope so we shut off. And then the media needs to keep us watching the news, reading papers, scrolling through the internet, because they earn money that way. So they will find us the next thing to be drawn into, the next thing to worry about, the next thing that we give our money to.

This isn’t wrong but it is just the way it is. Can we change? Maybe this is about again looking at aligning with God, with the Universe and fixing on that and being willing to go for whatever we are called to for the long haul – which is hard.

Are you, am I, willing to take time out and find out what my true focus is or am I, are you, going to be swayed by the winds of the world?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:5-7