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
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.
Last night I watched “Don’t Look Up“, the Netflix movie that is a satire of politics, social media and so much more. Also as I’d quoted from the film on my Epiphany blog I thought I should watch it. And I was not disappointed. It is a film of over 2 hours long and generally my concentration can wane after an hour and a half. Also I was watching it later than I would normally watch a film. But I was gripped throughout. There was much laughter but also a lot that made one think and needed to be chewed over. This could be a film I watch twice.
It is a reflection on our society and of how so much becomes “political”, causing people to think about it along their own political lines, even down to whether the comet exists or not. The news is full of sounds bites and is all about “keeping it cheerful” with the news of a pop singer being proposed to online bigger news that the announcement of impending doom. I wonder too with covid how much of what goes on is politicized rather than for the best of mankind, and also, like with the comet, how much could have been averted if any of the world governments had acted sooner or if money, or rather profiting from the event, was not an issue.
I am also reading “The Power of Meaning” by Emily Esfahani Smith which looks at the four pillars that give us all meaning; belonging, purpose, storytelling and a transcendent experience. Without being a spoiler alert the film finishes with the key characters gathered together as a group of people who belong together and with a purpose where they tell their stories and one of them prayers the amazing prayer
Dearest Father and Almighty Creator,
We ask for your grace tonight, despite our pride
Your forgiveness, despite our doubt
Most of all Lord, we ask for you love to sooth us through these dark times
May we face whatever is to come in your divine will.
with courage and open hearts of acceptance
All the pictures at the end of the movie show those most at peace with what is coming involved in something either of belonging or spirituality.
So as my inbox still keeps being filled with suggestions of how I can mark the commencement of 2022 I think I will continue to settle into my place of belonging, finding ways use my talents for a purpose outside of myself, tell my story and encourage others to tell theirs, and find space for God and experiencing the “divine will with courage and an open heart of acceptance” whatever comes my way.
“Don’t Look Back” has had a part in encouraging me along this journey.
It is that time of year again, when everyone feels obliged to make “New year resolutions” as if what they had been doing for the past 12 months wasn’t good enough. There is the talk of going on a diet – and the various diet aids are being pushed like made on adverts on various medias. [yet no one says that the winter is the worst time to start a diet because your body naturally wants to hold on to its body fat to keep warm. Start your diet at Easter when your metabolism is more in tune to it] to exercise more [again a similar one to the dieting. It is dark and dreary still at this time of year. To run before work means getting up in the dark. Again wait till the days start to get longer and then enjoy the whole thing], to write more, to be more ….. [add your own] And most of these resolutions are broken before the end of January. Most of this is to do with doing things that you think you ought to rather than the things you want to.
It is why I’ve put the pictures of the animals at the top of this post and Hobbe’s thoughts at the end. All three animals are all doing what they are best at – being themselves, and not caring who is looking. Why do we not all resolve to be more ourselves? More genuine to who we really are? Or even – radical thought – spend time trying to find out who we really are.
So much of how we behave, even down to this desire to do resolutions, around wanting to be what other people think we should do. So we work harder to be appreciated more; lose weight so others will look at us more kindly; get another book published to justify the time we spend writing [ok that’s a personal one!!!]
Instead of making plans and resolutions this year I have put some things I’d like to so in my diary, some projects I do have to get finished, and some ideas I’d like to pursue. But really what I am going to try my best to do for 2022 is “wing it and see what happens“. And after the last couple of years we’ve had as a nation I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea for many more to feel that way?
I love this time of year, that liminal space between family Christmas and the start of the new year. A time when meals are inventive because food needs to be eaten before it goes off but it is a challenge to work out what goes with what. The buzz of a house full of family is over, but it is too soon yet to take down decoration. My head wants to start tidying and organising for the new year but with the decorations still up there is only so much I can do, and also my head is enjoying this liminal time.
Though as I write this my lovely husband may is still off work, but he is working for me during this “down time”. I was offered a project which to do with making a historic walking map of a local village. He is much more skilled in route planning on a map than me so is doing an amazing job getting my project to a place where I can then add in the historic content.
With this project and another project from last year sitting and waiting to be completed, and then other writing projects in the air, I am trying to sort out some kind of schedule for the new year but trying to to hold it lightly because who knows what 2022 will bring.
But also because this, for me, is a liminal in-between time, where I know the days are getting longer but it is raining hard and so this extra daylight is hard to notice, but also like I say I can’t quite get organised because of the decorations still being up and the fridge still needing to be emptied, I can only think, ponder and wait until Monday when things roll properly into 2022.
I remember when I used to work in bars before I had children this time between Christmas celebrations and New Year’s Eve was always a fraught time, where tensions were high and anticlimax loomed. I do think to hold this time wisely one needs to accept that, even if one is working, this is still an in-between place where routines are still out of sorts. And for most of us this is what the last nearly 2 years have been – a time when we are stilling in a liminal space waiting to get back to some sort of routine.
Will 2022 allow us to get back into some sort of routine? Who knows. But I know that I will do my best to carve out my own rough routine day by day, week by week, month by month, holding each and every part of that schedule lightly and trusting that someone/something greater than me knows best
[Writing] isn’t a tender flower that needs cossetting and protecting. It is a muscle that grows stronger with use
Christopher Booker “Seven Basic Plots”
In my writing groups I say that writing is like running a marathon. One has to train for ages and ages, have a plan and a schedule. Stick to that schedule. Know that we could get tired so need buddies to run with. But also know that there are hundreds and hundreds of other people who will be out there on marathon day who will have been training too which means we might not win!
This doesn’t mean we don’t try, that we don’t put in the work. But we need to be like the woman in the above picture – enjoying ourselves as we go. The goal is to finish and to better oneself but also to have a good time
Writing is a muscle one must use regularly. So we do need to put in the time every day if possible. WritersHQ suggest 20 mins per day. We can all find 20 mins per day if we want to. Then we work that muscle. We give ourselves goals of 500-1000 words per day and we work that muscle. From that maybe a novel will appear. Maybe something like The Little Yellow Boat materialise or like my poem. If you read my stories behind those they took a lot of time and effort and using that muscle.
Of all the creative activities writing is the one that fits differently. People go to pottery classes but don’t expect to become potters. People do bead making and most do not set up stalls to. People paint not expecting to set up a gallery. But many people come to writing groups expecting to be published. It is a great goal to have but I do believe that first and foremost one needs to be working that muscle and enjoying the process, producing lots of work that sits in files on the laptop or in notebooks in boxes under the bed.
Yes I do know that if you go to pottery or art or beading groups you can make Christmas presents for friends and family and with writing groups it isn’t quite the same. Though I often write one of stories or poems for friends and family and think I might start doing it more often.
But I do think writing first and foremost has to be for fun, for exploring ones own thoughts, feelings or as I did with a story about a terrorist, entering someone else’s thoughts and wondering the why of what they do. Winning a competition or getting published being a lovely outcome but will not come without working and working at that writing muscle – a muscle that includes editing and reworking as much as the process of writing. The Bell Jar is only 6 lines long and less than 80 words. It look me three weeks of editing and reworking to get to the point of sending it to the competition. This is why I had to enjoy what I’d writing and enjoy the process of editing it.
So when I say to groups make sure you write for fun and that most of what you do will sit on your laptop I want to introduce them to the reality of writing.
On another ponder – which I will not answer – I wonder why so many people will say to someone who write “what have you published?” when they wouldn’t say to someone do went to an art class “what have you sold?”
Of course I was very pleased and have been moving into sharing my achievements rather than keeping quiet about them and hoping others just happen to come across them, which is what I used to do. Then I would get upset that friends and family didn’t know what I’d done. But of course I hadn’t told them. So I shared far and wide, and my mum and others shared onwards too. A comment from one of my Mum’s friends was “What a clever lady, just to look at an object like that and then give it a voice” My response was to say that I “found it a natural thing to give the pot personality. I do it with all sorts of random objects.” But it got me thinking about how my Mum’s friend and others don’t do that sort of thing. And yes I do do it was all sorts of things.
It got me wondering about how many things we can just do we take for granted rather than celebrate. For instance my seeing inanimate objects with personalities, being able to cook up an amazing meal from random ingredients, people being comfortable sharing their stories with me. And I am sure there are things about me that others see which again I just think that’s “normal”.
My husband retains facts and is a whizz at University Challenge, complicated maths equations, learning new things on the IT/engineering front that I can’t tell you about because I don’t understand them. He takes it as obvious and will say something really sciencey and then say to me “isn’t it?” and I just have to look back dumbly. But also he can’t remember where he left his keys or his phone!!!
But I need to not be upset that I don’t know all these techy, clevery sciencey things the same as he should not be upset that he can’t do somethings too. We all need to celebrate who we are and what we can do.
I did a post ages about about being humble, which I can’t find, and explored how when we are told in the Bible, or elsewhere, to “be humble” it isn’t about being self-effacing but it is about honouring our achievements. It is ok to boast and say “I’m good at putting character to intimated objects” or “I’m good at learning technical things”. The same as it is good to say “I don’t get technical things and often think it is working in the dark arts” or “I really don’t see how you can give a pot a personality”.
So my suggestion today is to look at what comes naturally to you, realise this is a talent that you have, then tell yourself how amazing you are to be able to that. Then if bold enough tell others that you can do X and realise however small it is a talent. Remember the story of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30. Everyone had a different number of talents and the only reason the person with one got in trouble was because they didn’t use that one talent.
So get out there boast about that talent, share that talent and who knows we could start a talent revolution, changing the world one confident step at a time.
As a writer, not a dancer or a singer. I am going to steal this quote and give it a tweak – “Write like no one will read it, Write like you’ve never been badly criticised/lost your confidence/felt like it’s a waste of time, Write like it’s heaven on earth”
I am a writer who runs writing groups and writing projects. I spend a lot of my time writing. Some of which you can read on the pages of “My Writing”, other bits you can find here on my blog page. I also do all the exercises I set my writing groups. But I got to thinking – how do I write when I know no one will read it? Not as in journaling but just writing a story for myself.
I know we all talk of the first draft not being perfect, or of those exercises we do in writing group being rough. And I don’t want to aim for perfection and be criticising my work as I go because that would make it static and lose the flow. It was more a question of how do I write when I’m just writing for fun.
I am part of a group of writers who used to meet regularly in Frome but then who met online over lockdown and now are a hybrid of in person and online, which is great for me because I’m now living in North Wales. I find meeting with this group very beneficial, so much so that I pay a bit extra to be able to be virtually in their writing room during the week as well as the monthly Sunday gatherings.
Well this Sunday I had booked into write for the morning and felt I “ought to” be ploughing through my collection of short stories of the backstories of some of the women in some of the Mabinogion tales. But I wasn’t wanting to go down the angsty route that I had allowed these women to do down. So I had a choice – either make their lives less angst or write something else. I didn’t want to change their lives as most days I like where they are, so in the end I used one the wild writing prompts we’d started the session with and wrote about how this guy had become a male stripper and exploring his relationships. I will not do anything with this tale but realised that I was “writing as if no one will read it”. I found it fun and very releasing. I can also see how it could help with me how I construct short stories. But that wasn’t the point. I was just writing.
When I allowed myself to move into that place of “writing as if no one will read it” and letting go of all the guilt, negativity, criticism, inner voice telling me I was wasting my morning, and allowed myself to feel like it was “heaven on earth” I took my character on a great journey. Him and I had fun together and enjoyed our Sunday morning. He is now filed away with other unfinished pieces in my “Cloud”.
I still write well, keeping an bit of an eye on spelling – thank you Mr Redline Spellchecker. And I try my best with punctuation – though I have to say that is not my strong point. I blame the fact that I went to school at that time when punctuation was not taught. I’m still never 100% sure what an adjective is!!! 🙂
Also I realised that heaven won’t be heaven for me if I can’t write. If/when I get to heaven I want to hang out by the river of life, under those healing trees, with my A5 hardback notebook and the best pen ever, and write what I can see, what I feel, make up stories about the people I can see around me. But then if I feel like that then why do I not write all the time now? Have heaven on earth now? Because of feelings of “having to” produce something, use my time “wisely”, be “productive”, etc etc. But actually writing is my love, my big passion. I think via my written words.
For instance yesterday I had a Youthshedz meeting and the person I was meeting was late so I got out my notebook and pen and the plan for the next couple of months of the project flowed out of my pen.
So I am going to write more, for no other reason than to write. I’m going to enjoy hanging out with my characters whether others get to meet them or not. Yes I will still take pieces to competition or publication level but all the time I will hold on to the joy that I am going to “write like no one is watching … write like it’s heaven on earth.”
Challenge – how do you write when no one is looking? When maybe no one will ever read it? Or do you struggle with thoughts that there must be a reason why you are writing?
About three weeks ago I had a QEC session and my counselor challenged me on journaling. She said it was like putting all your stuff in the rubbish bin and then going back to check what you’d put it. I have journaled on and off for most of my writing life. I would say that it is where I explore my thoughts and feelings and with my pen come up with a plan for what to do with what I feel. Her challenge was that a feeling is a feeling and a situation is a situation but that with QEC we’re putting new beliefs into my world about how I am.
I have been going off on walks, just me and my dog, to places where I won’t see people to chat to, and I write. Some of which I have written up and can be found on My Writing page under the heading Artist’s Date Inspirations. From these random writings I come up with interesting realisations.
Yesterday I had been upset by something and reached for my journal to unload but stopped myself. I decided instead to use a postcard and write a short story which I have called “Autumn Foretells”.
. Through this I was able to vent how I felt, explore thoughts and ideas and come to a point of being calm and relaxed. It is an interesting story and can be found on My Writings if you wish to read it. Note it is not true
So I did not look back through past events, did not explore how I felt and why, but took myself off on a creative writing route that did not “look through the garbage” and I felt much fresher and freer afterwards.
I must say when my counselor mentioned I did only slightly agree with her and also did not want to break a habit of a life time. But of course that is what QEC is all about – breaking those life time habits that we have brought up so we can be free to truly be.
Normally I would do my end of year review to coincide with Christmas cards I was sending, whether physical or electronic, but this year I have decided to wait until 31st December to post, and am even tempted to wait until midnight just in case. It is not that I am fearful but this has been an “unprecedented” year.
At the time I would normally have done this post I was still laid up with bruised ribs from falling off that horse though was starting to plan what I would write, and I suppose even Different Christmas was a lead up to that. But then just as I was in the planning stages for that my husband got shingles and has been very sore with that. Then on Saturday 19th Dec Wales announced that all was change for Christmas and we were going into lockdown again – though from the volume of traffic I would say that only means that pubs and cafes have now closed. Not sure if I can see much other difference on the roads. It is definitely not back to April’s sparse traffic volume. But then on Sunday my daughter announced that she had tested positive to covid and so, even though she wasn’t coming up here for the holidays it did mean she was going to have to spend it home alone! All this in just a week!
This has been the strangest of years. Even to the point that our cat went from eating biscuits to demanding that we feed her cat meat from a tin. She now has meat twice a day and ignores the biscuits that sit waiting for her to be hungry enough. If it hadn’t been for the local cat rescue places being closed all the tins that had been in the cupboard for the last few years would have gone to them but now she’s eaten them all.
Talking of pets – our crazy rabbit died in the summer, happily of a possible heart attack whilst he was sunbathing before begining yet another digging project. He was buried inside his own warren of tunnels that he had constructed over the four years he had been living here. He is still very missed and the amount of veg peelings in our food recycling bin has increased.
As with everyone 2020 started normally enough, though it was odd for us because my husband chose to stay home for New Year’s instead of going to a youth hostel with old university friends. So actually even the start of the year was different for us with us being together when we woke on 2020. We went away as always for our wedding anniversary at the end of January, which was followed by my husband going off for a week of intensive Welsh learning on the Llyn Peninsular. He managed to get away climbing with friends in Scotland at the start of March, but by the time he went away then things were starting to change and covid was being muttered about. We had two Airbnb guests, both in the medical profession, who went from saying it was nothing to worry about to slowly getting more and more concerned about it, to our guest from Burma having to cut short his stay so he got home before all airports were closed.
I was supposed to go on my regular March writing retreat but felt uneasy about going which was just as well because suddenly things got serious. So instead of being in Gwynedd I went Cardiff to bring my daughter to stay with us when the pubs closed. We bought her some walking boots the day before the country went into full lockdown. We thought we were going to be walking all over North Wales, but then the 5 mile rule was introduced and we finished up doing lots of walks around where we live. We have seen my daughter more this year, probably a good 4 months of the year, than we have since she went off to university about 7 years ago. I picked her up yesterday, now that she is over her coovid isolation time and will spend New Year with us and stay until this lockdown lifts. So even though we have seen so much more of her this year when it comes to everyone else – my son and our mothers and our friends – we’ve seen them less than normal.
My husband changed jobs at the start of lockdown and has now been working for his new company for 8 months and never seen the inside of his office or met any of his colleagues face to face. We are so grateful for our lovely big house and him being able to work upstairs in his own office. But his is the only work going on in the house because, with all the guidelines and restrictions, it is not safe to run our house as an Airbnb rental home for the time being. Read more about that on Humility. And since not having guests coming and going it has changed how I see the house and what it is for. For now I’m not making any decisions how things will look regarding Airbnb and room rentals in 2021, but I do know I see this place much more as a family home now than a business.
We did manage to get away for a flying visit to Somerset to see our mums and a couple of friends at the beginning of August and my son and his fiancee came up to us for a long weekend in mid August. Both times we were blessed with great weather. And we managed 6 days in Northumberland in late September, though because Northumbeland went into tier 3 we were not able to see one friend who had moved there a couple of years ago, and also a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party was cancelled. But we did manage 6 days of walking, reading, and resting together.
As well as Airbnb all my work has stopped – no more writing groups, no more schools work, no more workshops in the library. All very strange. But I have been doing a lot of my own writing and a few of my blogs from here are being published on Godspacelight.com which is quite exciting. I have also been working with a young illustrator and we have a book called TheLittle Yellow Boat which is with BumbleBee Publishing in the process of being put together and published later in 2021. I will tell more about that once it is out in the big wide world. My plans for 2021 are to work on more short stories and other ideas and of course to blog more. I do not want The Little Yellow Boat to be my only publications. I have also been working towards an MA in Celtic Studies and have loved the modules about the Mabinogion, especailly the Four Branches. I am thinking of doing some stores around the women from the Four Branches.
Every year we do not know what is going to happen, but I think 2021 is probably the one where we have the least idea. Will the vaccine prove effective enough to bring back “normal” life? Will we have enjoyed some of the changes and not want “normal”? For some their business will never be the same again. Many will be bankrupt. For others there plans will be delayed and will be able to move forward a year or two later. But also within that not knowing are things we do have control over. I plan to continue with the Quantum Energy Counselling healing work I’ve been doing. I will work on my own writing and develop a body of work and look at being published. I will meet up with people when I walk with my dog and have great conversations. I will email my friends. And I will carry on reading. All these I have control over. As to whether I’ll start Airbnb rental again or whether I’ll be able to restart writing workshops and schools work, that I have no control over, so will hold lightly. Also I do have control over how I behave towards what is going on around me and I hope I can hold Joy and Hope in the right place and walk as God wants me to through whatever is thrown my way.
Tis the season of the have, should, ought. Sometimes in all this we miss out on the real reason for the season, which in many traditions has a basis for looking at light and celebration.
I have lots of decisions that are coming my way for 2019 which means that, to give them due consideration I will have to, in fact even now, will have to change how I live my life. I will have to give up on have tos, should dos and ought tos. I don’t have enough hours in my day. Some of the things I will give up are things I like but I am learning if I do this then I can’t do that.
I spent the last 10 days visiting family and friends this has meant that I haven’t done the usual Christmas newsletter or the run of Christmas cards. I have also been gentle working through “Finding the still point of your story” which again is making me look at what is important. Not that the things I can’t do are not important or the people I didn’t see, won’t send cards to are not important but that I have a finite time to do things and need to invest wisely. This means giving up being a member of the spa and not getting in my thrice weekly swims and saunas. This isn’t because I don’t like to go but because I want to take my writing more seriously I want more time to read and this will give me 3+ hours a week more to read.
I have not done the Christmas newsletter because I have decided that I want to message
certain people individually because that is where I am at the moment. But I cannot message 100 people that could be on my mailing list so it will be just a few. That way they can get special messages. Not that there is anything wrong in newsletters. In fact I had one from some friends which talked of her storytelling and has led me to using her story to tell when I am an elf at Santa’s grotto on Saturday. For me well worth having 🙂
So in all this I need to look at how I lead my life, what I want to do in it and not get rushed around by should, ought, have to. I am learning well this week too because my son is home for 10 days, which is lovely, but if I want to still write I have to leave him on his own. I am also asking him to help with things like walking the dog so that I am not run ragged there.
So for me this time between now and the new year will be of deciding that I do and what I will have to put to one side. I want to take my writing seriously – which means I have to stop doing other things.