Flowers in the grey

This is a hard week. Of a hard period.

I’m struggling with feeling flat, my sparkle is gone and my smile – MY smile – is lost; my usually instant, beaming, deep, radiant smile is sluggish & dimmed.

I feel I’m in a period of emotional, spiritual, relational & physical unpeeling. It feels like life is a sea where some days waves constantly splash salty water in my face. Some days I’m sitting on the shore with my ankles in the wet sand, stuck, while everyone else is swimming. And some days, the days I’m myself, I’m enjoying gently paddle boarding, floating in the sunshine, my heart JOYED by the beauty of the shimmer on the water.

Today was a salty wave day. It was hard.

BUT as with the days before this… I showed up! I felt great singing & leading praise music at work this morning (yep, Christian places do that-at work!) – then my emotions & brain capacity went up and down like a chapati-rising one moment then flat as a chapati (or a pancake!) the next. Flattened & lifted & flattened more & lifted & flattened (you get the picture!).

This period gives me the choice – of hiding behind pride or of pursuing the path of Radical Vulnerability. I choose the latter. So in today’s greyness I wore my face as a mirror of my inner self-flat, empty, dull. Not ‘my face’- no NLB smile or glow today folks. And that’s OK. I’m being authentic and congruent.

And I’m being open with my beloveds (& now with YOU too!). I reached out to my Husband, Caramel Sister & Work Wife, sharing my flatness & asking for prayer. And WOW-the opportunities to receive grace that being honest gave me!! The kindness of loaned headphones so I could be lifted by music-my heart language & salve-as I worked! The perfectly timed deep hug & tearful chat. The food & homemade fairy-cake set aside for me. The gentle, slow-paced meeting with my manager & help from a kind colleague. And the ping of email to tell me of a ‘delivery’ at reception, bringing my first ME smile of the day when I saw the surprise delivery of flowers from my husband to bring a ‘little spark & smile’ to my day.

I’m not out of the emotionally thick woods yet (to mix my sea & land analogies!).

But my heart is not dull. It is warmed. I am so loved and liked just as I am. I have enough energy & contentment for the evening. And my home smells like flowers.

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Plastic lightbulbs and birthday cake

When breath becomes air

and air becomes still

When chest is frozen in breath’s

last exhale

When heart and lungs take their final bow

And exhale your Life

Then…

Like Cinderella’s carriage at midnight

the magic of life runs out

Life becomes a grey-painted wall

Stars which mapped the secrets of the constellations become plastic lightbulbs

and the Sun which lit the roads which led us to

an opened door,

a deep smile and

hugs smelling of

brylcreem and palmolive,

four layer birthday cake

and menus written on scrap envelopes,

twinkling, patient blue eyes and powdery-soft strong hands.

That sun now a broken car boot sale lamp,

faulty switch and bulb too weak to shine any light.

Did you know you were the sun and stars?

Did you know you were our inspiration, …my very air?

Did you know know KNOW

how much I loved you?

Please say yes.

Please

say

something.

Please…

stop being gone.

Simon Von Booys

The regret trinity

I generally think regret gets a bad name.

I regret a lot in life: not persevering with learning a language or instrument; not trying harder in school; saying I Love You back when I didn’t mean it (!!); having cheese and crackers tonight after a day of healthy eating; repeatedly going to bed too late, and lots more!

I think the idea that is oh so popular on inspirational Pinterest posters (ugh), that regrets are bad and we should have none just misses the whole point and deep value of regrets! They can be the best motivator and prod us to grow into the people we aspire to be; to be better friends and lovers etc, to improve at work, to save money and take better care of our health etcccc.

Regret isn’t shame.

Shame labels us and makes us stuck.

Regret labels behaviour and moves us forward (well, for me it usually takes a few regrets to get the lesson but hey, it counts!).

Anyway, I was mulling on this recently and this short poem came to mind…

Regret:

The gap between

What you do

Who you are,

And what you want to do

And who you want to be.

Shame:

The gulf between

What you do,

Who you are,

And what other people want you to do

And who others want you to be.

Freedom

Neither wallowing in regret,

Nor ignoring its painful lessons,

Rather striving to do and be

What and who you want to be.

And not letting others’ (imagined?) views hinder your quest.

NLB 3.1.19

Homecoming

Photo: NLB 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How seamlessly my breathing slows.

How naturally I eat with my hands,

my fingers enjoying the texture & warmth-

a few weeks freedom from the hard metal cutlery

we use to take the place of our hands,

of ourselves.

 

How easily I boil water to cool & drink,

and pour steaming water from the kettle

into my bucket to bath.

 

How easily I tilt my speech to bend to your accent,

my effort to shorten the distance between us,

As we now sit and smile

face to face,

Where just hours before the gap was an ocean.

How easily this feels home.

 

Photo: NLB 2018

 

Jerking away from oneself?

 

Photo: NLB 2018

As I lay in the Ghana sun –

book in hand,

warmth in bones and heart –

I freeze as I feel something

crawling down my leg.

I jerk firmly

to reclaim my body from this crawling invader

who may mean me harm.

Only to realise in that moment:

it was just a bead of sweat.

How often,

I wonder,

does what comes out of us

make us jerk away

-in fear?

-in surprise?

-in disgust?

Double Speak?

I was having a conversation recently. In said conversation the topic turned to equality and diversity (as is standard for so many of my convos). We were discussing workplaces and hiring people who are ‘different’ to us – whatever that difference is to you, your team, your work, your personalities, your culture, your norms.

A guy. A lovely guy. A lovely guy who’s open, and aware, and actively committed to diversity & equality. A lovely guy from whom I’ve learnt about how to practically make space for and include others in my daily life; a lovely guy I’ve worked with.

He said something. Something NOT even offensive. Something normal and understandable and relatable.

As he explained why, when hiring for a role, they’d chosen the candidate with more ‘experience’ (in the limited boxes listed on the JD); the candidate who was ready to hit the ground running. He explained why they hadn’t chosen the other candidate.

The one they wanted. Like really really wanted. The one who had rich and varied experience and character and who would had stretched and added to their team and work in different ways. The one who would have needed some mentoring. Some input. Maybe some training and definitely some time, to learn and adjust. And who would have, in turn, taught and grown them. He explained how, with capacity constraints and output demands they just weren’t able to do that now.

I silently ask myself silently:

What is ‘ability’ but willingness met with effort?

On foreplay and virginity

Do you ever experience someone saying or doing something really small or simple, but it opens up a WHOLE NEW way of thinking for you? Well thank you Hollie McNish for doing that for me this week!

I read a short poem/sketch she shared and *hey presto*, I’m deconstructing the ‘bases’ of sex and doing some serious musing on virginity. Firstly, she’s absolutely right. The Male Tongue created the language of sex (and I don’t mean in the good way !*).

Why is the pleasure from a hand or tongue, which, when used with consent & consideration, is powerful and rich enough to bring women and men and others to climax deemed ‘fore‘ play? Why not just ‘play’?

Why is virginity ‘lost’ (lost?) when a person’s penis enters another’s vagina? Why not when a person first experiences the releasing pleasure of consensual orgasm with another? Why instead is female virginity bound to men reaching that ‘final’ base where they orgasm inside another? Wait-are lesbians virgins forever?!

Why are those few films which show women receiving one of life’s great pleasures (well, when done right!) rated 18, while scenes of women pleasuring men are just soooo commonplace that’ll just be a 15? (Yep, true fact: Blue Valentine; Ryan Gosling fighting for that scene to be classed R – UK 15- frankly made that film and him even hotter!)

You know why?

Why?

….

Patriarchy.

Patriarchy decided language.

Patriarchy decided rules of sex.

That’s why.

To remake the rules, we have to reclaim and remake language.

So here’s to more playtime for all.

Who’s coming with me? 😉