Desiderata-living

My eye caught this beautiful scene of the sunlight through my front window this afternoon & I paused to take it in… the roses & green grass behind and, in the middle, this framed calligraphy of the beautiful, guiding poem Desiderata.

As I take time off following the end of a beautiful, hard job that stretched, broke (in bad & good ways), grew, shaped, blessed, fulfilled & thrived me…

As I take time off to think & feel & plan & be, before starting a new challenge & path ahead…

As I take time to enjoy art & reading & space & friendship,

this poem speaks to me anew & I am enjoying living it’s advice to (poem summary ahead):

Go placidly amidst the noise & haste & remember what peace there may be in silence.

Be on good terms with all persons.

Listen.

Don’t compare.

Enjoy plans & achievements alike.

Be at peace with God. See the beauty amidst the ugly drudgery it the world.

Be yourself.

Yes, be yourself.

Be yourself.

Through this hard year I have learnt the value of being more myself.

Of self-awareness, understanding & acceptance.

Acceptance which leads to better growth – of self & others.

And to the beautiful power & freedom of working, living, relating from a place of ever-more Me-ness as I continue to push on and let go.

As I continue to grow into the stunning living poem I am & write & draw my own story as I go.

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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.

Face towards the sun

A car-park poem. (Got your attention!)

I sketched this after three minutes just standing in the car park outside my work building last Thursday. Such was my need for sun on my face and soul.

A deep, visceral need.

By myself, eyes closed, just standing.

Image: Pinterest

NLB

face towards the sun,

feet planted firmly.

Wind blowing,

whole body shaking,

feet planted firmly;

shaking not falling.

Face towards the sun,

eclipsed by the passing cloud,

Sun re-revealed,

smile spreading,

sun blessing.

Feet planted firmly,

face towards the sun,

as clouds and wind blow.

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.

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

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?

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!