Faithful hands

Why,

when I fell asleep

turned away from you,

do I wake with

our legs entwined,

my hand in yours,

and a smile on my face

when I feel this?

God bless my wiser,

faithful, hands and heart

for remembering the truth:

I Love You

far far more

than I’m (trying

to be) annoyed.

Image: David Lester-Bush

Different Loves

It transpires that I am a big fan of love triangles & love choices: Mansfield Park, Persuasion and down the less sophisticated end of the Literary scale, The Hunger Games & Twilight.  I love critiquing the choices these women make (ugh, Bella, yay Katniss & Fanny Price!) because I believe ultimately Love is a choice. So here’s a short poem trying to articulate how these heroines, & real life people since time immemorial, can love two people, & love the very things that make them different-& then make a choice to love & live with one.
The love she has for him sparkles and fizzles with bright energy,
Like a crackling fire,
Bright, warming, comforting and hot…
But releasing the occasional spark that may burn her skin & heart.
Watching for these is wearying.
The love she has for him flows and melts like a current of water,
Refreshing, rhythmic and peaceful, yet strong, upholding and life giving
That love is like Nordic air, revitalising her soul and cleansing my mind.
The love she has with him tastes like Ghanaian stew,
So rich, flavourful, & nourishing.
But sometimes too spicy & powerful.
The love she has with him is like fresh, warm crunchy bread and Camembert,
Hearty, warming, gentle yet with texture;
Each mouthful moreish and delicious.
One love is rich red, burnt orange, bright amber…intense and warm and hot.
One love is turquoise, azure like the richest tropical ocean, strong and deep and refreshing.
Both loves are colourful, the colour one chooses is a matter of asking :
What colour do you want your life to be?
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Photo: Pinterest

You (Don’t) Complete Me…and That’s OK!

Any movie fan or anyone with ears recognises the line ‘You complete me’, those heart-warming words uttered at the end of the movie Jerry Maguire that prompted a collective ‘awwww’ from cinema audiences across the world.

They are, however, bollox.

Ok, I overstated that for attention (gotcha!). But it’s a sentiment with which I’m definitely in conflict.  See, in many ways, yes, my husband completes me-I feel ‘home’ when in his arms and all that jazz and if everyone else around me got sucked into an earthquake crater, I’d be ‘OK’ with having just him survive (sorry folks).  Obviously, I’d be miserable and distraught but he’s the one human I root for before all others and the one whom I love the most.

But he does not ‘complete’ me (whatever that phrase even means!)…  And nor should he.  I am a multi-faceted person who enjoys philosophical, intellectual discussions one minute and Bunny Suicide cartoons the next; I love sociological films and also The Avengers; I have enjoyed reading Shakespeare and also Fifty Shades (judge away but there are several similar themes-Juliet and Anastasia are both insipid characters!).  So no, my husband, one human being, does not complete me; that is what God made friends for. And music. And books. And TED talks. And work. And colleagues. And films. And travel. And sunshine. And gin. And prayer. And good food. (you get the gist).  No one person completes me and nor should they.

you-complete-me-is-that-your-job.png

And yet we see the myth of Romanticism take hold of so many relationships; the myth that our spouse/partner/other half is supposed to ‘complete us’ and be that one person to whom we turn before all others.

WHY the hell should he be that I ask? Why should the person with whom I share my bed & my life also have to be the one with whom I share my thoughts and feelings if they aren’t the best person for that particular job? Personally, I am blessed with some close friends who share my social joys, intellectual passions and mirror my own emotional intelligence and interests. Some who love watching Grey’s Anatomy and discussing the ‘characters’ as if they’re our friends; others who love discussing sociological, political or relationship ideas, and who allow me to hone and critique my thoughts by listening to their views on issues that are my equivalent of mental/emotional oxygen… and the equivalent of disposable scented razors to David (yes, they are ACTUALLY a thing, ugh).

So no, my beloved, wonderful partner does not ‘complete me’. And for me, THIS is the splendidly ingenious recipe of being ‘completed’… My husband gives me the support and confidence to think (& use him as a sounding board when like-minded & interested friends are unavailable) and the loving space to actively seek & invest in relationships with people who will nurture & stimulate me in the interests & areas where we diverge (and I do the same for him).

And in THIS gracious, creative way we go some way to completing each other far more than we ever could in and of ourselves.  By supporting me in finding my people, reading the books, listening to the talks, dancing to the music, preaching the sermons, travelling to the places (without him), laughing at different comedy & socialising with friends he doesn’t wanna spend an evening with (& those he does!) my husband does help to complete me.

So let’s please discard the deceitful myth of a partner’s role being to complete us. And breathe life into the truth that a partner’s role is instead to nurture us to seek out & find the beautiful variation of people, ideas, and ways of life which, along with our partner’s deep love & faithful support, pour life into us-not to ever be ‘complete’… but to be grown.

 

 

With You

One night last week I just couldn’t sleep, because words to a poem were swirling in my head and I was forced out of bed to capture them and write them down… and so for my birthday party a few days later, instead of making an impromptu speech (to avoid last year’s unplanned but hilarious reference to blow jobs!) I recited this poem for my dear ones:

WITH YOU, I stand warmly blanketed by the rich, thick tapestry of you all,
coloured brightly with different characters and ideas,
different views and learnings…

With You, I laugh at different pitches;
the full musical range of NLB dirty laugh to Natalia giggles,
In your company finding both home and release,
each of your unique lights illuminating a different side of my multi-faceted natalianess.

With You I am both punished and forgiven,
I am made weak and thereby made strong. Because with you I am exposed,
not possibly just by one, but by an all,
I am seen, I am heard,
I am endured, I am adored.

With You, my smile is stretched,
My intellect is fed; my soul is nourished,
my ideas are chiselled, and my being is flourished.

Your friendship tapestry is rich, & reflective,
you hold a mirror to my face and point out my character lines, so they can be refined,
and my beauty, so I can be admired.
With You, I am both humbled, and edified.

Above all.
With you, I am given the gift of…S.P.A.C.E.
For, though small, I am big.
With You I am given space- to flounder, and flap,
and spread my big Natalia wings…
and with you pushing me … I (fucking) fly.

NLB bday 2017

On the floor for Love

Except for in a Hipster office, working on the floor is widely seen as unseemly, lowly, or even dirty-in our culture it’s servant work. And yet as I think back to this day seven years ago what comes to mind is how many of my beloveds *literally* got on their hands & knees to serve & help me. This time seven years ago I was to be married in 24hours and still had 101 small but important things to do. And so my friends and beloveds held us up and got us to the Finish (well the Start!) Line; there was Katie on the floor with her paintbrushes making unique paintings of Ghanaian symbols in our ‘wedding colours’ for decoration; there was Sweet P not only driving me around for my final errands but who had been on the floor while I was laid up unable to walk, helping me wrap gift-bags of hand-decorated Thank You cups to thank our helpful friends; there were Payal & Dilanie on the floor laboriously tacking not one but two layers of cream cloth to make the beautiful aisle for our entrance a few hours away. And all of this floor-work after the dayssss of shopping & faffing & rehearsing! (& I expect lots of private swearing!!😉)

These girls physically *got on the floor* in devoted love & service and so many others did so figuratively-Rachel who designed invitations, became my PA, checked my emails to protect me from unnecessary stress when I had so much of my own, and who listened & comforted as I prayerfully sweared upon receipt of some sad family news; my big brother who flew across the world & then graciously hoovered my house the morning of my wedding, humbly transforming from Brother of the Bride to Janitor (i.e. life saver!) in seconds! There were Nick & Jonny, Rob & Mike, Phil & Alice & James variously catching planes, driving cars & rehearsing songs…and everrrryone carrying tables & chairs, laying tablecloths & petals all before The Day itself! And yet others joined the servant-hearted throng on our Marriage Day, decorating, getting me ready and to church, directing cars, ushering guests, serving Pimms, lighting candles, cutting cake, filming & photoing, doing speeches, doing flips, setting off fireworks, tidying up etc etc etccccccc all in the name of *Love* love LOVE for us.

      

So today I reflect on our seven year medley of joyous experiences; of daily-grind made easier by companionship & support; of challenges faced & survived by carrying the burden on two sets of shoulders; of triumphs achieved growth with mutual support & sacrifice; of personal growth continued & of so much fun had! And yet…today I thank not my unparalleled, *exceptional* husband but our range of generous, considerate friends & family who whether then or now, have served us without (much😉) complaint & who have shown us in various ways what it is to ‘love patiently, kindly & without self-seeking‘.

(Too?) High Fidelity

While this may sound bizarre to admit even though it’s a common sense fact: I know my husband may cheat on me (as may I on him). I’ve seen adultery a plenty in my life and have a great cheating & bullshit detector…I’m sure we all know the classic lines from the Cheaters Handbook, the oh so popular ‘s/he doesn’t understand me but you do’ & the tried & tested ‘I’m only staying for the children’ lines!


Hence I recognise this obvious truth: my darling, devoted, absolutely incredible husband may cheat on me (& I on him!).  Nearly every couple meant their wedding vows on the day, but things can change… distance & resentment can creep in and so, seeds for cheating can germinate, as shown so well by my beloved fictional friends Steve & Miranda in Sex & the City: if devoted, dependable Steve can, anyone can!! Adultery doesn’t have to destroy a marriage –  breaks can be beautifully repaired. But I’d rather avoid the pain & damage if I can… so I take precautions against it for us both. For myself, I don’t hang out too closely or frequently with anyone I’m sexually attracted to (a girl is only human after all). And re hub, as well as the private detective and secret tracker in his boxers (kidding!), I utilise the best defences I have: observation & communication. I pay diligent attention to our relationship and, just like checking one’s breasts or scrotum for monthly changes, I check in on the quality of our relationship frequently and both of us try to share & listen to any concerns or unhappinesses creeping in.

Importantly though, I think understanding why people cheat is a valuable protection against adultery & the damage it can cause, so here’s a short, humorous but erudite animated talk by the oh so wise Alain de Botton: https://youtu.be/d079McwlBRE

Lovers’ Garden

Wandering, chasing the blue dot through a maze of verdant beauty in Madrid,
I chose to cut through a grassy area, unlabelled and unnoticed, had the dot not compelled me to veer off the paved path-ironically simply to seek the grey dashed path the screen dictated.

Suddenly: a rich scene with sunlight dappling through the trees, lush grass and giant trees twinned like lovers greeted me.
And then, as if to reflect the trees, I spotted the lovers entwined in the grass, hidden, immersed in love’s joy & desire.

I realised love and desire had claimed this paradise before me.
And so, a quick selfie and I forced myself on, to seek the dot and leave these lovers in their hidden Eden.

Madrid park image