Purifying salt

Though the raging waves

spray salt in your face,

hurting the cuts which cover your lips

from biting your tongue to hold truths in.

As the winds whirl around you,

whipping hair into your eyes and

lashing your vulnerable skin,

drawing tears of blood to run down your cheeks.

While you shake and shiver as

coldness seeps deep into your being,

tensing your body and spirit.

Through stinging, lashing and shaking

remember:

The waves will still,

The wind will calm,

And the warmth will return to your

thoughts and bones.

And then you will realise this truth;

A truth born out in the molecules of the universe,

A truth which is true when feelings are not…

Salt purified you.

Tears released your pain.

And that cold,

that wearying, biting, cold,

That cold preserved you.

Image: Antonio Miucci

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.

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

A (chronically) fabulous weekend

I had *such* a good weekend-hosting another ace LB party, followed by a 36hr mates movie weekend of late nights & being up early enough for McDonalds breakfast (with 2hrs to spare-such is our dedication to fitting in an extra movie!).

The cost of this fabulous exertion for me, however, is increased aches, pain & more tiredness than my non chronic-pain-enduring friends. So instead of doing the few things on the To Do list I diligently wrote up before bed yesterday, to do when my mates had left, I crashed on the sofa & napped instead of going to church this eve (very disappointing as it’s a great talk topic at the mo!); dinner was brought to me on the sofa by my kind husband who knew enough to rouse me to eat tonight when I’d have rather slept but actually needed the energy & enjoyment of the eating more (he’s a keeper!). The weekend’s activities were absoluteeely worth it (!!!) but in hindsight, having the movie weekend off the back of the party was over zealous social planning (I can hear other chronic-pain endurers going ‘duh!’).

OK, I know that describing two days of mooching on the sofa watching (brilliant) films & eating guest-made treats as ‘exerting’ sounds ironic but it’s not. I also know I am FORTUNATE! Yes I wake in pain every day & sometimes cry in pain or, moreso, from the physical & emotional tiredness from it but, hello, I danced, chatted, served, laughed & ate & drank from Friday to Sunday, & had more fabulous fun & conversation than many healthier peeps this weekend! Amidst the hosting, I let my friends/guests wash up each morning while I got my pilates groove-on cos hey, I’ve learned how to receive love & help (well, am learning), & also because I believe that it’s kind to let others show love & appreciation through service if they want to.

The time with mates has been so wonderfully nourishing for me mentally & emotionally as we watched great stories, had fun & scintillating conversation, deepened new friendships & ate & drank heartily. But it’s also been two eves in a row of 5-6hrs sleep for a body that needs-& rarely gets-9+hrs to be rested, but which will still wake in aches & pain every single morning regardless of how many hours sleep it gets, cos, y’know, chronic pain life. Nonetheless, now I’m more & more aware, & ACCEPTING, of the need for chronic pain *self-care* planning, I’m learning to plan better in future. So I’ve written off the To Do list: I’ll just have to suck in choir practice tomorrow as I haven’t the energy to rehearse tonight, & I am cashing in on the on the best perk of my job (well second best after the free coffee!) & am going to work from home tomorrow-a luxury for which I am immeasurably grateful!! So this is me being open. As I write that my face is saying ‘ugh’ as I hate vulnerability & showing any weakness! But, I’ve realised that is colluding with internalised ignorant societal norms which dictate that physical & mental health = strength when, in fact, it takes *real strength* to recognise, accept & acknowledge one’s needs & limitations. So here are some of mine laid bare. And they don’t make me any less (chronically) fabulous!

Non Super Dads Aren’t so Bad

So yesterday was Fathers’ Day- a day when, it seems, every other dad on Facebook is declared to the ‘The Best’ ‘Number 1’ Dad Ever (I don’t know what the criteria is but someone may want to tell some of them that someone else has claimed the No 1 spot already; maybe the Dad of the first person to post on Facebook has the Title for that year and then the race begins again next year? Hmm, but what about cheeky Aussies who have a day’s headstart?!)

It has got me thinking about people like me-no, not other humorously-bitchy, sarcastic, can’t stand unoriginality and detest ‘cute’ crap on Facebook whatever day it is people-but rather people who have no yearning to wax lyrical about our fathers.  Now my dad was a good dad in some great areas, the best area being FUN: kite-flying on Parliament Hill Fields followed by ice-cream on a Sunday morning, and cricket games in the back garden made more exciting with the addition of a water balloon-my dad’s genius idea! And, as with every other human being living or deceased, he was a twot in others. And that’s not a terrible thing.

I haven’t had to wrestle over which ‘Greatest Dad’ card to choose from the multitude because that’s not a card I’ll ever buy (nor should anyone over the age of 10years for that matter!). Neither is my dad my best friend or the person on whom I lean in life’s storms, or from whom I gain a sense of solidity and self.  *But I am actually immeasurably grateful for that!*

Due in part to realising early on that my dad is a really flawed, unfinished person (i.e. a human being. And a bloody fun, generous, intelligent and sociable one at that.) I am a wonderfully well-rounded human being:

I am wonderfully independent;

I am wonderfully strong;

I have my dad’s wonderfully sarcastic, witty, scathingly piss-taking sense of humour;

I have a wonderfully honed bullshit detector;

I have a wonderful capacity to lavish love and support, and to receive it from others;

I have a wonderful capacity to forgive;

I have a wonderful sense of self-worth which isn’t based on how much my parents or friends love, accept or like me. (While every experience of rejection or being disliked [that scathing sense of humour isn’t for everyone!] scuffs my self-esteem, and wobbles my sense of self-worth, it bounces back into place like a roly-poly toy.)

roly poly toy

So I didn’t buy a ‘Best Dad Ever’ card this year (which is fitting because my own, funny, dad would probably roll his eyes and make a sarcastic quip at it anyway!). And I am happy to say that having a dad who couldn’t compete in that competition is not a bad thing. I had an incredible Grandfather (even allowing for the ‘he’s dead so suddenly everything he did was perfect’ rose-tinted glasses effect he was pretty fecking fantastic!).  And my Heavenly Father is beyond superb: He is perfect. But I am *immensely* grateful for my flawed human dad. He has helped me practise kindness and grace and self-love. He has taught me how to strive to love my neighbour while also loving myself.  And he has helped me to be strong. Which is great because, as we all know, parents won’t always be here.  But when he’s gone I won’t be bereft. My sense of self is exactly where it belongs: securely held inside me.