What if life is not a game of poker?

July 25, 2017

A friend once said to me, “Imagine who you could’ve been, what you could have done, if you hadn’t had such a tricky start in life.” 

I know she meant well, but this question evoked in me an instant wave of shame – that I wasn’t more, that I couldn’t have prevented those things happening, that I couldn’t overcome them, that whatever I did would never be as good as what I could’ve done if those things had not happened and handicapped me before my prime.

It fed in to all the wounds already taken on board and internalised that told me I was not good enough. That I should try harder, and even worse, declared that even if I did try, I was doomed to failure in comparison with that illusory ideal of what I might have been. It formed built-in regret, built-in resentment, built-in shame, a built-in sense of lesser than thou. In essence, I was, and always would be, a loser.
But what if she was wrong?

What if without these wounds I would not have become half the person I am now? What if it is the overcoming of or the blending with these scars that makes me? What if living well has nothing to do with the hand that we are dealt, because, contrary to what we are taught, this life is not all about competition, this life is not a game of poker where the winner takes all. 

What if we are meant to take these cards, look at them with tenderness and love and see the beauty of this unique hand we have before us. What if then we lay them out in the most beautiful pattern we can discover, trying this one next to that one, that one alongside this one, adjusting each day to our own internal sense of order and beauty and worth. 

And what if they become the most beautiful when we combine them next to the hands of others? What if each display their unique design and when we stand back, we realise that we are all connected in the most intricate exquisite pattern of a never ending deck of cards of endless variation. Connecting and flowing and merging and separating, the most glorious riot of colour and meaning and joy, fading in and out as new lives emerge and old ones pass away. And yet, the joy and meaning of connection is always there, supporting us each with each other and on, down through the generations.

I say to my friend… I say to myself, “Look how beautiful this life is! Even with all its pain and struggle and confusion. Here is where the beauty is made, is crafted, is tempered and salted with creativity and connection and love and laughter. It’s not the hand you’re dealt, it’s what you do with it and with each other that matters.”

Playing Big Day 1: What’s the rush?

July 25, 2017

“What is the one thing you really wish you did more regularly? How can you set it up to be more of a default in your routine?”

I didn’t know the answer to this straight away – I have been working on my routine* for the past 6 weeks or so and, though not down pat, I’m quite happy with how it’s progressing in terms of what’s in it and improving in fitting it in most of the time. What I did notice however, five minutes after reading the text suggestion was that, as I left the house to take my daughter to school this morning, I was quite relaxed and there seemed to be plenty of time to do what we needed to do. I actually stopped myself from locking the door as fast as I could – there was no need, I could relax, we had time.

So on reflection, I decided that what I really wish I did more regularly was to relax into and really enjoy whatever I am doing.

I became aware as I was driving back about how much tension I held in my shoulders as I drove and thought “What if I could find real joy in the actions I take, however mundane, then perhaps I would have less tension and perhaps more energy.” I realised that most of the time I seem to be rushing to get things done; get somewhere just on time; fit everything in: if there’s ten minutes to spare before I have to be somewhere, what else can I get done quickly? The last thing I need to do is to find something else to fit in.

So, how can I set up being relaxed or doing things in a relaxed and enjoyable way as a default in my routine?

Simple answer, allow more time.

I can hear you chorus now: “Whoop di do, we know that, but I haven’t got enough time as it is to get everything done!”

Well, I’m singing right along with you, but something has to give, and it’s not going to be my health again. So here’s my promise to myself: I’m going to fengshui my todo list –  I’m going to make time-space around what’s left and let less be more…enjoyable.

Looking back on this morning, although I was running through my my mind every now and then what I could be doing with this day, when I was interacting with my daughter or husband I was focusing on helping them; to get ready for their day; making packed lunches; ironing shirts; putting up hair; conversing about politics or praising my daughter’s attitude in showing me the respect of listening to my point of view; it was all with a relaxed ease, and, thinking back, there was enjoyment in the time and care and attention with which I performed those tasks and spoke my words.

What made the difference in my attitude? A good night’s sleep definitely helped, but also clearly deciding where my attention was to be placed and letting go of perfecting the minutiae. Perhaps, paradoxically, it was the decision to enjoy what I was doing that meant things flowed and got done in time; perhaps enjoying what I was doing actually expanded my experience of that time and allowed me to be better at what I was doing at the same time.

I didn’t seem to mind that the kitchen was in a mess – it would get done later – what mattered was that we all felt good about ourselves and that all the little twists and turns and obstacles of daily life were given due attention as part and parcel of life rather than irritations that shouldn’t be happening. Just that shift – to acceptance and enjoyment of the ordinary – allowed me to be at ease.

We got out of the house without an argument – that’s the first time in over a week!

* using Hal Elrod’s “The Miracle Morning” SAVERS approach – a very adaptable template http://halelrod.com/books/

A sacred woman saw me

May 28, 2017

A sacred woman saw me.

Her eyes twinkled as she smiled at me and she nodded her head, as if in recognition, as if she had known me for the longest time.

She paused on her way to touch the petals of a rose and to smell its sweet scent and she took a long slow breath in, then began to walk toward me, holding my gaze like a long lost friend, and we walked a while together side by side.

She asked me how my mother was and how the weather went my way and we spoke of how the hawthorn had been bursting with joy this May.

As we stepped down into the sunken path where the hay carts come no more, she turned her head and smiled again and said I looked so light and queried where it was that I had left my burdens bright.

I took the bag from off my back and out it’s contents lay. One by one I looked at them, once challenges, every one, but now each shone like a blessed jewel and twinkled in the sun.

Loss, Sunsets & Hope for the future

June 12, 2010

One of my best friends has moved to Oz.

Last week we walked and talked and philosophised, ate lots of biccies and drank lots of cuppas.

I miss her for so many reasons, not least because, in her company I am moved to be the best I can be.

Here is a sunset from one of the walks.

liquid gold

A walk since then has been inspirational too – I’m discovering, now I don’t have the option of immediate external validation that there is a deep well of internal approval, creativity and inspiration to draw upon from within myself and my relationship to the universe.

Blessings in all situations.

Pattern deep

February 21, 2010

Butterfly wing

A few days ago, Jack Frost patterned the surface of my car and I was tilted back in time to mornings, early in my teens, in a house without double glazing, without GSH, wrapped warm in my duvet.

My arm would venture out, part the curtain and reach to touch the delicate patterns, then shoot back under the covers as the the cold nibbled at my fingers.

Two days later a hoar frost covers everything in a sparkling, fuzzy, furry coat.

Here’s a quote I found at the beginning of the year that has been turning in my mind ever since:

‘Why does ice make such complex patterns? Water is not just two atoms of hydrogen to one of oxygen. It is more like a room full of dancers, whirling and twirling. As water freezes into ice, the dancers stop – but their frenzied exertions determine where they come to rest.’

From “What Shape is a Snowflake? Magical Numbers in Nature” by Ian Stewart

Settling in

February 17, 2010

“Are we on the peninsula?”

“The whole of the Wirral is a peninsula. ”

“But where are we – we’re near Liverpool right?”

“We’re in Wallasey”

Me: “If the shape of the Wirral looks like this” [I draw in the air] “then we’re at the top, on the flat end, right in the middle. Liverpool’s to your right, the Welsh hills are over there, see?”

“Ah yeah, I see.”

Moreton shore, Liverpool in the distance 16/2/2010

This photo was taken yesterday, late afternoon, a mile from my house. It’s the closest part of the seashore to me and where the above snippet of conversation took place. I walked away thinking – ‘I’m beginning to belong’…

Locating. Settling. Connecting. Pointers, landmarks, names, dates, people, places, things. Different layers emerging, different patterns revealed each tide.