Back On-Line Again

Surely there’s a song in that title – the closest my in-head song repertoire is coming up with is Willie Nelson et al being ‘Back on the Road Again’  – can you do any better?  Share a link in the comments if you can.

It’s been an interesting few months – regular readers and friends on Facebook have the gist of it, with a lot of falling over that began at the end of October (me) and continued on at the end of November (YD) dealing with the results of those, Deep Vein Thrombosis (me) and breaks and fractures (YD) –  interspersed with losses and Christmas and slow healing and excessive and unusual heat, plus thunderstorms and downpours more suited to the tropics than the Riviera of Antarctica…….  and let’s not forget a laptop that completely gave up the ghost on Christmas Day followed soon after by a mobile that went out in sympathy leaving me briefly but entirely devoid of any contact with the outside world.

When life goes south on you it is always a wonderful opportunity to become mindful of how many ways you are loved and supported.  We have had many opportunities to be mindful and grateful.  At the top of my list is my eldest daughter who dropped her life and flew in to care for her sister for the first week she was home from hospital.  And when my phone was declared deceased immediately funded a new one.  Second is the phenomenal rallying around and support offered to YD by her friends and work place as she recovers and after 50 days at home begins to take her first tentative steps back into the world in a moon-boot.

Next comes my phenomenally generous and kind ‘friend who blogs’ the amazing Alys over at Gardening Nirvana who sent a note that left me speechless along with the money for a new lap top.   I was left silent and humbled in the face of such powerful generosity of spirit!

I’m also grateful for an understanding of therapies and foods that feed the body and soul and hasten healing.  I’m grateful for the ability to look at incidents like this and see a bigger picture.  I’m happy that YD and I can laugh at ourselves and support each other even if it is like a couple of old crocks.

But my goodness after almost three months of on and off trauma I was tired out and so was poor Siddy – he has been so busy with visiting and caring and helping out, his little eyes just droop as soon as we get to a ‘sitting’ or ‘waiting’ part of the day.  We were both longing for a day at home in cooler temperatures.  And today we got our wish at last.  Good things ALWAYS arrive if you are patient enough!

So here we are – to say ‘Happy New Year’ even if it is three weeks late and to thank you all for those comments, emails and messages that have kept me buoyed up and forward looking even on days when I wasn’t.

The tiny courtyard garden has thrived this summer and in a few quiet moments we have enjoyed visiting it no matter the weather or time of day.  This was us taking a short break one evening just before getting the hose out ……..

Siddy Jan 18

garden 2 Jan 18

garden 3 Jan 18

Siddy’s new safety gate arrived and was quickly assembled so we can have the kitchen door open and enjoy any passing breeze (and passing people won’t get mobbed and harassed by an over enthusiastic puppy who is convinced they are there just to see him).  Orlando doesn’t think much of it however

O at door Jan 18

I also found time to gather, combine and make up a light catcher and sent it off on its journey to its new home – a delicious combinations of pinks and oranges and coppery hues; sea jasper beads, tiny coral beads, seashell pieces and masses of crystals

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And as days return slowly to a normal rhythm I have even begun to work once more in my art room, stay tuned for anything coming out of there.  And my mind turns also to the upcoming reunion of friends who first met up in Washington DC almost three years ago and who first met through reading each others blog posts here on WordPress.  Stay tuned for more on that…….

Thanks for coming by today and catching up with us here, I love that you do!

 

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Friends of the Heart

If you read this soon after publication, I am on my journey somewhere between the far South of New Zealand and the East Coast of the USA to spend ten days with four other WordPress Bloggers.  During this time there will be opportunities to meet up with other bloggers who will travel shorter distances to spend some time with us.

It’s very exciting, more than a little amazing and somewhat magical!

Before I go I just wanted to say thank you and to share a few thoughts – which for some reason, I feel are important to say at this time.

Thank you to all of you who have left messages and shared in the fun and enormity of this short, unexpected and totally spectacular adventure I am about to undertake.  None of us have said much about it – but this is a trip that has been gifted to me by the incredible generosity of a group of fellow bloggers.

The word ‘lucky’ is often offered up to me these days.  It is not a word I choose to use very often.  I prefer the word ‘fortunate’.  I have come to see that I live a most fortunate life!

Here is what is in my heart to say:

I live my life very simply and quietly these days.  I’ve been there, done that, in terms of making my mark on the world, from needing to prove I am worthy of the air I breathe to more latterly, wanting to make a difference just because I can.   Those of you who read the first installment of my memoir back in September 2013 know I’ve travelled a route from hardship, anger, frustration and blame to one of acceptance, responsibility, forgiveness and love.  I work hard at it!  I struggle, I fall down, I get it wrong again and again – then I get back up and stumble on….   I have been gifted a life that allows me to understand that life is what I make of it and that there is more depth and magic to all our lives than the modern western world would have us believe.

My life has taught me many things – these are some of them:  I believe that as we sow, so we reap.  I believe life is a circle and that life is also a classroom.  I believe all life is connected from the particles of the big bang, to the silent creative energy that preceded it that we collectively know as God or the Void or Nothingness or the Inversion  –  or whatever other shape, description or scientific term [or sci-fi term] you prefer; to the commonality of our basic needs and feelings and talents.  I believe we are here to learn the dynamics of being a soul living a physical existence and it is not easy.  A sense of humour is necessary!  I believe we need each other to know who we truly are and who we can truly become.

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I also believe it is imperative that we not try to make any body else think, feel or see the way we think, feel and see.  We all walk a different path.  We come from different cultures who raise us with different values, different spiritual beliefs, different religions.  We have different life influences gifted genetically, environmentally and socially.  It makes the world a wonderfully vibrant and exciting place.  None of it is wrong – it is just different.  We should cease judging people based on age, gender, preference, religion, culture, appearance, education and perceived ability.  We should walk a mile in another’s shoes – or bare feet!  We should travel and meet these other people in other cultures and experience their life styles.  We should stop thinking we are best, better or superior to any body else – or any animal for that matter.   It simply isn’t true.  We are just different.

[And I should stop saying ‘should’!]

As the French say say so eloquently “Vive la difference!”  [Please put on your best French accent for that quote to atone for my lack of written accentuation.]

I learn slowly. I learn by examining my feelings, reactions and behaviour at the end of every day.  I take responsibility for the good and the bad events of my daily life.  I sigh and forgive myself for the million blunders I made, the judgments that were too quickly and harshly made and the words that were unkind.  I know I will have better days practising these skills.  I know hard times will pass and I know easy times will also pass.  I look for the joy and try to be grateful for every day and if not everything in it, at least something!  I know life is not about pursuing or finding ‘happiness’.  I know happiness is already here if I remember where to look for it.  It is all about CHOICE ~ about choosing to be happy, right here right now, no matter what.  I know that the voices in my head, those things we refer to as ‘our thoughts’, often lie to me.  They have the power to make me unhappy, sad, angry, fearful or depressed if I do not challenge the message they put out.  I know that when I turned down the volume and challenged the messages sent by the ceaseless blither in my head I found peace and a quiet joy.  And the more peace and joy I felt, the more of it life has sent me.

It’s all about changing the firing patterns of your brain – nurturing those neurons – which ones are you building more of, the angry ones the fearful ones or the happy ones?  ‘Use it or lose it’ applies here!  

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This is the big secret that folk are seeking.  It’s not about garnering wealth, power and material goods.  You truly won’t be any happier at a deep, fundamental level when you have that new car, new husband, new job.  Studies have shown that within a short amount of time happiness levels return to where they were before the material event that granted your wish occurred.

Basically we have two feelings coursing through our systems – fear and love.  Anger, hatred, bigotry, control, nervousness, just to name a few, are all fear based.  Serenity, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, empathy, to name a few more, are all love based.  We have the choice where to base our attention, which to feel.

It’s really about choosing  to be happy with what is and who we are, right here, right now.  In any given moment our lives are just fine, if we do not feel okay, it is only our thoughts that make it less than perfect.  Being regretful or angry about the past or fearful of the future stops us experiencing how great Now is, or how great we are, coping with a less than delightful Now.  And then we miss the opportunities to know ourselves better, learning and growing through our experiences in life, walking our paths to become the best possible version of ourselves.

Sometimes we suffer really awful things – the loss of loved ones, attacks on our bodies or souls, things that make us question the purpose of life.  It is hard to see any joy in that right?  For myself I know that though it can take many years, and be a long and pain filled process, I will eventually find myself again, richer for having survived, endured and grown through the experience.  My empathy factor is deepened and I can, at the very least, be there for someone else.  And I am often grateful for that!

This is why I say that our experiences – the good and the bad –  are opportunities for growth. Sometimes bad stuff happens to release something for us so we can move to the next level – ‘there is always a silver lining’.  Sometimes it takes a while to find it.

When we understand that we move into trust.  And living in trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to work out just makes everything so darn easy!

Here is a recent example from my life:  I get in a blither when having to travel alone.  It doesn’t matter how short the journey, I am uncomfortable and the level of my discomfort rises according to the length of the journey.  I know where the fear comes from, but that doesn’t seem to help.  It seeps upwards slowly but surely and begins to tinge the adventure with a sour hue.  The fear is often voiceless, but when I dig a bit and uncover it, it is all about ‘what if’ and ‘back when’, ‘look out’ and ‘don’t trust’.  When I hear that last one ‘Don’t trust’ there is an enormous shift in me.  Fear evaporates and a sort of peace descends once more.  Because ‘don’t trust’ is anathema to me.  That is the path to insanity.  I acknowledge the past and it’s many hard adventures in trust and know I have moved on.  No need to go back.  Whatever happens will happen whether I go fearfully or confidently.  I have the power to call in the experience I will have and the manner in which I will deal with it.  I’d rather follow the advice Nanette gave me in the comments of the previous post and look up and out, prepare myself, ask for help as required and trust that this part of my journey will be just as wonderful as the parts where there are friends travelling with me.

I’ll let you know how I do on that!

But really, where I am going with all this is that I have been surprised by the extent to which blogging has corroborated my life choices and beliefs.

The world is full of wonderful people and many of them blog!  I have met so many amazing folk.  In many ways when we share  bits of our lives, our thoughts, our feelings and experiences it is like sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and doing what women are really good at – sharing!  It doesn’t matter all that much that it is done virtually.  Back in the ‘good old days’ we did it via letter writing with the responses taking weeks to make it across the miles, be read and the next missive written, mailed, received and read …..It was called having ‘pen pals’.

Here in our speedier modern world we ‘blog’.  For me it has widened my quiet world out again and brought in your amazing personalities to brighten my life, make me smile, frown, think, empathise, sympathise, reach out, condole, laugh, share my thoughts, opinions and feelings and begin to uncover you – the real you.  Getting to know you is a very real joy for me.  Friends of my heart.  You all have encouraged me in my journey as an artist, the encouraging words, the patronage, the enthusiasm have been wonderful gifts to me.  I have blossomed and bloomed beneath your kindness and eloquence.  You have encouraged me to return to old crafts and pick up new skills.  I have read books you recommend and listened to music you sent my way.  I follow your adventures and misadventures with interest and applaud when you arrive somewhere wonderful……..  I am so grateful to be getting to know every one of you!

And now I’m off to meet up with a small selection of my special friends and to have whole days when we can just be together and drink coffee and tea and maybe a wine or two and enjoy each others company, pick up on some of our on-going conversations and deepen our understanding of each other and share whatever is in our hearts.   Magic!

It is my first trip to the USA, my first time living amongst American accents – my travel agent warned me some would not be understand my broad, flat Kiwi twang.  I am practising trying to remember to speak higher in my throat and with a bit of a lilt and quite a lot slower than I normally do.  I’m rather afraid I sound a little like Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara  🙂

There are cultural differences and social differences and language differences.   I’m looking forward to exploring them all with these women who are so dear to my heart!

And again and again I ask myself, how does it get any better than this?

Here, to finish, are my beloved babies, my little fellas, my boys.  Wrapped in warmth and love and trustingly placed into the loving care of my equally beloved YD while I swan off on my latest adventure.

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Forgive me if you don’t receive an immediate response to your comment or if you don’t see me on your blog posts for a couple of weeks.  Normal service will resume soon.  🙂

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

Where Have I Gone?

Today I got a message on my last post made 19 days ago.  The message was from my blogging friend katyoparty over at ArtOutWithYourHeArtOut   The message said: “Where are you?  I’ve missed your posts!”  

What a good question – where am I?

As I pondered what to say in response I rejected all the reasons I might normally give – busy with clients, busy in the art room, busy reading, busy listening to self improvement CD’s, busy with family, busy with Orlando, busy playing slotomania on facebook …….

The truth is I’m not busy, I’m evading.

I’m evading the season, the weather, the emotional pulls that revisit at this time every year,.  I’m in survival mode.

And I’m barely making it.

My work as a life coach means I help others find a path through their troubles, I teach them how to change their thinking from glass half empty to glass half full.  I encourage, I make them exercise their emotional muscles, I give homework and never accept excuses when they try to fool themselves or feed me red herrings.  They tell me I am a good life coach.  I know I change lives, I am their mentor and none of them know when I am wobbly.  I don’t let them see it.

But it’s really hard to coach yourself!

Having chosen to leave my ultra busy and over extended previous existence to become more quiet and contemplative in my daily life, I live far away from my life long friends and I have no family except my two beautiful and loving daughters.

I’m struggling with a question that goes something like this:  how do I remain grateful for all I already have while wishing for something more?  The longing for my family to be closer geographically tips me out of my contentment with what is.  I become impatient and discontented with my situation.  I lose the art of living in the moment, which is my greatest treasure.

Katy’s caring comment went bang straight into my heart.  It came at a moment when I was feeling especially vulnerable having just read a couple of posts.  One on dealing with loss and the other a really good Johnny Cash quote which hit home quite strongly.  

I was on the verge of making the decision to pull myself up by the shoe laces, white knuckle it and get over myself.  At a time when I felt really alone and really tired of being alone and really fed up with yet another year when the shadows from my past start to gather about and attempt to drag me back to a place I left long ago.

And somehow that question made it all alright.  In this strange and still somewhat alien blogosphere someone notices your absence, someone cares enough to say hey, how you doin’?  And a shaft of sunlight blazes into the place where my heart huddles coldly and reignites it.

Thank you for caring enough to send that message Katy.  I am here, and I will be just fine now.

And I bet you never expected to get a response like that to your friendly enquiry!  🙂

You Old Bitch!

‘Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart’

~Rumi~

The other day I was in the supermarket and must have needed a reminder of how awful life is for some folk as I had – ta-da  ‘An Encounter’!  

A woman had left her cart parked in the middle of the aisle and as I was having difficulty  trying to manouvre around it I gave it a wee push to the side, which, it appears,  made said woman mad as all get out…… and I was the sudden recipient of a shot of venom that could have felled a lumberjack!  While I stood frozen in stunned silence she finished her tirade about my general incompetence as a human being with the words “……..you old bitch!”

Now I’m a woman with some understanding of the human condition and I know that when you scratch someone and reveal such raw hatred you have met a very unhappy being.  One should be filled with compassion at such misery – but this One wasn’t.  This One reared up and said indignantly “Excuse Me?”

She was tall and I am not, so there must have been some authority in those two words as she kind of backed off, not making eye contact and muttering under her breath.

I stood staring blindly at the assorted sweet potatoes I had been reaching for, trying to remove the venom that had been hurled at me and calm my indignation.  It took a few moments.

I pondered my role and took responsibility – lesson learned – never touch the shopping cart of an unhappy woman! But still I was rattled and indignant.  I couldn’t shake it off.

A couple of aisles further on and I bumped into YD also doing her shopping and the encounter was poured out to her.  She knew immediately who it was and reported that she had also had an encounter with the same woman moments previously – ‘murderous’ was her description.  “And she has a child with her” said YD “he’s pale and thin poor kid.”  So it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t personal – it was all about this poor unhappy person.  We just happened to be there.

I didn’t feel any better though and felt ashamed to admit that I had not noticed the child in my encounter – that’s how rattled I was.

The incident stayed with me, I put it down to the intensity of unhappiness in that woman and it was not until the following morning when I woke that the real reason made itself known.

She had called me ‘an old bitch’.  And it wasn’t the ‘bitch’ bit that mattered – it was the ‘old’.

I lay in bed giggling – she’d caught me out!  My inner picture of myself as eternally young was crushed – she had looked at me and seen ‘old’.  And that one word had sent me spiraling out of self-confidence into panicky ego-driven indignation.  Ah!

When I was a young woman in my 20’s, my favourite aunt had told me of her struggles with her aging appearance.  She was in her late 60’s at the time and yet felt herself inwardly to be a young and vibrant woman.  She was strolling down the street one day and saw the reflection in a shop window of an old lady bustling along, walking towards her.  She noted the woman was wearing a similar coat and was thinking how much nicer the coat looked on her than the old lady.  As she got closer to the mirrored shop window she realised it was herself and was horrified.  She said, “From that time on my self confidence was eroded – I had to work very hard to remember I am more than what my outer appearance says.”   She was thoughtful a moment then added, “And wise people see that.”

Now I know what she meant.

So I now have a sense of gratitude for the encounter with the unhappy lady in the supermarket [while hoping she gets some help for her anger issues!].  Yes I am getting older, and if you choose that is all you will see.  But my world is a rich place made of a life time of experiences, adventures, lessons learned and non-material wealth gathered.  It is a place full of love and contentment.

Come visit me here sometimes and share it!