2019 (a year in a poem)

2019. the year of

anxiety & sunshine

& beauty & depression

of drinking good coffee

& soul-nourishing gallery visits

of leaning into therapy & pain

of hours & days lost as buried tears were found sitting on the kitchen floor while Saturn played

2019. the year of

feelings felt & found & held & felt

of grief faced & waves crashing

food uneaten, weight losing

chasms opening

heart cracking & life shaking

of questions asked

& answers found wanting

as festered rage & long-accepted values

were both…released

2019. the year of

pain & striving

for peace

of lost memories found & faced

of emotional breaking & life & self shaking of inner light dimming

& slow sparking match-light reviving

of healing through

the mind-soul-body medicines

of meditation & journalling

of 29minute whatsapp voicenote musings

of beauty & art

& poetry & space

of lush bath-bombs & masturbating

of beautiful smells & netflix binges

& m&s champagne sipped

by fairy light

of radically

abundant

self grace

& the gift of

space

taking

& making

& giving

space to me

to breathe & be

& feel & see

& wonder & wander

Nayyirah Waheed

2019. the year of

taking-up

space

to cry & laugh & rage

the year of breaking

boundaries & beliefs

of (nearly) breaking apart

& being held in the breaking

2019. the year of

losing

& finding

& freeing

of shuddering beauty

& (beautifully) ugly crying

of breath quickening & catching

& deep exhaling

2019. the year of

frustrated containment in white spaces

of colour seeking & power claiming

of being unseen & seen

of being unanchored & held

in grace & love

2019. the year of feeling

& being

more

more

more….

of me

Sunflower counselling

Yesterday evening, for a WILD Friday night, I had my first counselling session. It’s been a long time coming. And I found a therapist I related to, who gets my comments about gender and race and keeps up with my flicking between received pronunciation and street language. A therapist who is REAL, in her gold reeboks, natural black-girl hair & statement t-shirt!

So 50minutes of ranting/ mature sharing later and I’m feeling ‘yep, I could work with you’…. and then the price was shared. Pow! The tears which had been building as I’d so freely shared my anger & pain spilled out. Cos it felt like a door that was opening had suddenly slammed shut!

Fast forward five minutes, as I came to the bottom of the stairs of her office I saw that the cosy waiting room was empty (cos y’know, it was FRIDAY NIGHT!)… so I walked to it to sit, cry, pray, & process.

AND THEN I SAW THIS: a Sunflower painting.

And I knew. This is my place. This is my counsellor. This is my God / the wall (delete according to your theistic belief!) confirming it to me. Saying ‘I see you, I’ve led you here, trust and proceed’. To add a little context, my nickname is Sunflower. But it’s more than a nickname. My being is Sunflower. I am Sunflower. So I sat, cried, listened to soothing music & prayed: I will go forward & TRUST the money & timings will work out. As sunflowers move to follow the sun, I’ll keep moving into this space that’s been offered, following the sun & helping to put the shadows behind me.

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

Brave Love

I’ve been thinking of late about love & forgiveness & voila, this poem came to me. It’s only after I’d finished it that I called to mind the wiser, more beautiful words of Kahlil Gibran ‘On Love’ in The Prophet so after you’re read my words, do read The Master’s!

Image: GKids

What is it to choose love

when that love may bring harm and hurt?

What is it to take risks with one’s heart, trusting that after hurt,

it will be repaired, as always,

by the eternal love of God,

and the deep resilience within?

What is it to say ‘this is worth it’,

and step forward in search of beauty,

knowing one may instead find

devouring ugliness?

What is it when the tie that binds

may also be that which chokes;

when the love which shatters

is from they who are meant to heal?

It Is

to recognise that,

your breath doesn’t come from another,

So they can’t choke it.

It Is

to understand that,

your worth is rooted in the foundations

of the universe,

So they can’t shake it.

And It Is

to recognise that,

that beautiful love

which made you giggle

on sunny days and in the rain,

which made you

know

Know

KNOW

You. Are. Truly. Loved.

(yet disposable),

comes from a broken human.

So,

in courage,

extend your own hand to love,

both hopeful and wary,

of deep laughter,

and sharp edges,

Trusting that,

whatever comes,

love’s brokenness

will not break you.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet: On Love

I retreated

I arrived emotionally flat,

internal turmoil whirling;

I sat by the garden window,

I wrote poetry about the rain & flowers

& I prayed,

I drank coffee,

I prayed,

I cried,

I raged,

I listened to Switchfoot on loop (The Shadow Proves the Sunshine),

I listened to more poetry,

I prayed,

I drank coffee,

I cried,

I sang,

I read Narnia,

I sat,

I prayed,

I drank coffee,

I psychoanalysed,

I vented,

I cried,

I mourned,

I forgave,

I prayed,

I listened to more Switchfoot (The Blues!),

I danced by myself in the autumn sun,

I cried,

I wrote more poetry & prayers,

I ate & chatted & laughed with my friend some more…

I left feeling tired & awakened alike.

Switchfoot: The Shadow Proves the Sunshine

Life’s knocks, resilience & therapy

I was chatting with someone recently about a friend of his who needs therapy.  What was interesting about the conversation is that The Myth came up. You know The Myth. The ‘it’s not that serious, others have been through far worse and they don’t need therapy so why should I?’. I HATE this myth; I believe we ALL need, or at the very least would benefit from, counselling.

I know people who’ve endured sexual & other assaults, abusive childhoods & not had any therapy & who are reasonably fully functioning, healthy(ish) people.  And I know others who had secure, middle-classed lives in comfortable homes with loving but stressed parents who worked a lot, who have recognised areas in which they need help unpicking emotional issues so have gone to therapy.  And I celebrate and applause that choice because we can never be too emotionally healthy.

Some people can endure grief, illness & getting fired with supportive mates, hot baths or long runs, while others would be pushed to the edge by just one of these events. But it’s not a question of one person being tougher or another weaker. Some people have more emotional resilience and often it’s the people who, ironically, had the uncomfortable childhoods because they know it can be harder but that it gets better. And maybe they’re the people who have developed (hopefully healthy) coping mechanisms cos they’ve had longer practice.

The chat with my mate made me think of how you can drop your phone a dozen times on a hard floor and it’s fine. And then it falls 2 inches onto a carpeted surface one time and dies a thousand deaths! That’s what I thought about re resilience and life’s knocks. We can’t see the inner workings or structure of the phone; we can’t see how those minor knocks may have loosened wires and weakened the screen preparing the way for the fateful smash onto a soft, seemingly safe surface. Life can be like that. We can’t see how people’s emotions & thoughts are scratched & made brittle by words & events, but hopefully, we can listen to our own hearts & minds, & actively listen to others’ so that we are all more resilient.

Well, how??  Personally, I love using a simple ‘check-in’ technique to help identify what’s going on inside my head, sometimes just by taking a deep breath for 10 seconds to think of 5 words describing how I feel and then praying or journalling about it. And honest, open chats with emotionally intelligent friends. And reading the kind of books, & watching the kind of short vids, that make me go ‘ahhh, so that’s the word for what I’m feeling’. (Thank you so much School of Life & Alain de Botton!).  But when an objective, professional thought & emotion-sifter could be of more help, chatting with a counsellor is a fab idea.

stillirise.jpg
Photo: contrariwise literary tattoos