|Even speaking the truth to myself. Eeeek.|
Sunday, 17 January 2021
Saturday, 19 December 2020
|This is normal. My granddumpling Lilz and me together.|
There is a bigger picture.
We must keep this in mind.
Do you remember what was normal for you a short while ago? Do you remember that we held each others hands, we kissed each other in greeting and when we saw people we loved we hugged them. It felt good and normal. When we needed a friend, if we had one, we could go and see that person. We made plans to go away on holidays to explore, to relax, to experience a different place for a week or so. Do you remember when it was normal to greet people and smile and do you remember when we could travel the streets on the way to somewhere or other and if there were loads of other people going about their business, we didn't mind?
Do you remember when the things that annoyed or disturbed you were not other people frightening the life out of you by coming too close to you? And that your home was a place you lived in from where you walked out into that big wide world out there without a second thought?
That is normal. That was normal. That is still normal. It is not abnormal.
A while ago, maybe you were too busy and longed to get off the merry go round. Perhaps the world was a little too crazy and you felt you were caught up in it without being able to get out. Perhaps, you didn't actually like what you were doing, who you were seeing, who you were. Maybe you were tired, resentful, stuck and feeling lost. Or, maybe you were inspired and excited about your future, about what was happening in your life and who you were with. It might be that things were going well for you after a period of preparation and hard work, it may be that you were excited about a new grandchild coming and planning to go and support and help your own child adjust to being a parent now. Or, finally, you had found a good and wholesome home for an aged person and you were able to breathe a sigh of relief. The business of caring and worry was taken care of and now you thought, you can visit your aged person and simply love them.
Those things are normal. Whatever your belief in what is happening around you, whatever you are doing or not doing, I want us to remember that what is happening now is not normal.
It is not good nor usual to live with fear and anger. We used to know people who lived in fear and anger and we did not want to spend much time with them. It is exhausting to be them and to be with them. It is not good to believe we are in danger at all times unless we are in isolation. Depression and loneliness and fear do not protect us from death. Nothing protects us from death. You have one life so live it. It is not good to allow our minds to be filled with dread and to agree, bit by bit, actually to embrace, pathological mistrust of each other simply existing in the same space as us as if this were going to make us live. Not even live longer, but actually to live at all. And it is not good for us to carry the burden of belief that we, against our will and all our beliefs in the sanctity of life, will kill anyone who comes near us. That is not normal and not good. We are in a double bind. We need to stay alive at all costs and we must keep each other alive at all costs. Once we are in this state of mind, it will take a miracle to get us out of it. The beliefs that put us there do not just evaporate, and though they are new beliefs, they feel real. Very real. So real that we do not see a time when we will ever think otherwise. The past is another country. The future is this, what we are doing now. And we do not know whether they are true or not, these beliefs, because they feel so real.
So I am saying do not narrow your focus down to this way you are living now. Remember what was real all your life up till now. Don't forget. Keep it in mind. If you feel there is nothing you can do about your fear and isolation, if you feel there is a need for you to diminish yourself and all those around you in order to stay alive and - very dangerous thinking - to keep them alive (that is a dreadful burden you should not be carrying. It makes you very vulnerable to bad thinking) then you have agreed to give away your power. There seems to be a greater fear of judgement from each other for not being a good and paranoid citizen than from any illness. It feels real but is it true?
Christmas is coming. Perhaps it is with a sigh of relief that we will police each other and not have to spend time with anyone. Perhaps it is what you wanted all along. Perhaps it is not and it is breaking your heart. But rules is rules and if you don't comply not only will you be judged fiercely and cruelly, but you run the risk of being perceived as a serial killer. It is possible too that your heart is breaking because all you have created has been crushed in the name of this safety and mistrust. Maybe you are facing a nothing because your business is perceived as dangerous. So in the name of safety it has to go. So does your future and so do your friends and family. The long and the short of it is that you, in order to comply, must cease to exist. For your own good and that of everyone else. And then what? Well, we are to stay at home alone, and all things we would leave our house for are removed. So we stay at home alone and are grateful we are alive. And then what?
Take back your power. You have one life. Decide if this is what you agree to and if you do agree to it, can you see that it is working - how many lives have you saved so far and how many near misses with death have you had and can you tell me just how many people you have lost because of this illness? I am a grandma and I am not afraid of death. Or of you. You can do nothing to me nor I to you by simply breathing. I am not afraid of the world, of being together of being with my friends and family and I am not afraid of being human. I am simply not afraid of you. Isolated and frightened people do not behave very well, and do not think clearly for themselves. Is this you? What are you afraid of?
Love is all. Self love is also all. Love and fear are part of our human condition. If fear wins then what you will do, agree to, and accept in the name of dealing with your fear, will not be Love. Love is a bigger, wider, brighter, courageous and truth seeking thing. I choose love.
|This too is normal. My Christmas party last year with my friends.|
Does this make you feel anxious?
|This is not normal. Does it make you feel relief? Why?|
Monday, 7 December 2020
|I never doubted my fairy-ness|
When I was a very little girl, I was convinced I was a fairy. Looking back, it was really just about me, I did not see fairies, did not talk to them nor think anyone else was a fairy. I was lost in my own world where I was the fairy, and that was that.
|My mother and my aunts made me|
|Ready to fly away.|
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Sunday, 22 November 2020
God has popped out of his school room for a ten minutes, and we get a peek inside. What would God learn if he had to go to school like human kids? Well, lucky for us, we did get a look at his classroom.
|This is God's classroom. Here are some of the things he's working on. Those are not |
Hula Hoops crisps there, they are Holy Hoops. God prefers them.
This is another painting in the series "God's Life". I have imagined that God lives as we mortals do, and has all the same rites of passage that we do. In this painting, where we see inside God's classroom, I have given God all the projects, essays, reading material that an up and coming deity would need. His paintings are even displayed on the wall, where he is quite rightly very proud of them. We get to see and admire what he is working on right now.
The God in this series is from the traditional Christian story. This is what I grew up with, and know and love. The Bible, the Christian holy book, is full of wonderful stories, accounts, poetry, miracles and proverbs. It is written in two parts, the Old Testament which deals with the creation of the world, with all Godly stuff before the birth of Jesus, and the New Testament which deals with the birth of Jesus, and of his life, times and death.
I had so much fun creating these witty, silly, happy paintings. I love the idea that God is not an unapproachable entity, existing far away from us, waiting impatiently for us to annoy him so he can smite us and feel he's done a good job. The God of my dreams is in every part of my life, and lives it with me. My God loves a laugh, eats too much and has to sit down a lot. Just like me. So the God in this painting, in all of the God's Life paintings, is quite simply, one of us. Let us begin, let us see what is going on in the divine schoolroom.
Here on the right is what is on God's desk. First, an apple for breaktime. But it is from Eden. The garden of Eden was where the first people God created lived, called Adam and Eve. They were forbidden to eat apples from the tree of knowledge - which was fine until an evil serpent came and tempted Eve to eat the apple. She did so, gave some to Adam and because God knows everything, he knew, got cross and banished them both from the beautiful garden for ever. But God, who already knows everything despite being here in a schoolroom, can eat the apples. Theoretically, he made them in the first place. Also on God's desk is a book he is reading, and seems to have written too. "It's Nice Up Here", an autobiography by God. Chapter one is "A Head For Heights". As many imagine, God lives way above the world, probably, a long way up in space amongst the stars, so he is beginning his story with how he has to have a head for heights. Next to this are some subjects for an essay. Onmi means all, or every. The pun is on God being already all things and everywhere. So omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotency are huge subjects. He is being asked to think about how to fit it all in, and discuss.
1. Thou shalt love me to pieces 2. No photos 3. Be rude about me and I'll hear you 4. One day a week is all about me 5. Thy parents are always right 6. Thou shalt not do any smiting, ever 7. Keep your hands to yourself 8. Thou shalt not nick anything 9. No telling fibs about people 10. Leave your neighbour's stuff alone
and in time would become these, that Moses could take seriously -
1. Thou shalt worship no other god 2. Thou shalt not make any graven images 3. Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain 4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy 5. Honour thy father and thy mother 6. Thou shalt not kill 7. Thou shalt not commit adultery 8. Thou shalt not steal 9. Thou shalt not tell false witness against thy neighbour 10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, wife or possessions.
But there were a few goes to even get the first ten up and running.
So we have in the schoolroom, a first attempt to describe creating the world. It's up on the wall as the "creating the world project" and like the ten commandments, will need some refining and tweaking to make it sound more serious. God's day 1 is about creating light. He has a light bulb and a lightening bolt. For day 2, he made some blue stuff, and added some clouds. This would be the sky.
Great. Going well. Day 3 God experiments and puts hydrogen and oxygen together and
Day 6 is even more exciting, God says he went mad and created people. As an after thought, he gave them some animals to play with, and draws on his project plan an elephant and a cat. Finally, on day 7 God is pooped. He slept late and took the day off. He had created the world, and this was a good time to take a break. This would end up as Sunday, church day, the day Christians dedicate to their spiritual life.
"Infallibility for the Cautious" is probably a self help book. To be infallible means that one is never wrong. Absolute trustworthiness, immune from error and fallacy. God is infallible, and for many centuries the leader of the Catholic Church on earth, the Pope, was considered infallible. It needs a great deal of confidence, and this book for the cautious God is meant to help him to be brilliantly infallible. "Baddies, How to Spot One" is a reference book for the interesting work of spotting good and evil. God has to be on the alert, Baddies can be very clever and convincing, he has to know how to stay one step ahead.
The final book, "3 Into 1 Does Go" reminds God of a central article of faith for Christians. It is an article of faith, because it cannot be explained logically but it is of huge importance. There is only one God, and there is his son Jesus, and what is called the Holy Spirit. It is considered that all three are both three and also all one. All one in God. It is important that God has a book on this because maybe, Jesus and other heavenly bodies will need reminding that it is all perfectly doable.that energy and mass (matter) are interchangeable; they are different forms of the same thing. So here, God says he is the equation. He is the mc2 part, as he is all energy and mass and he thought this was a fun thing to think about. So he doodled it on the school blackboard.
I hope you enjoyed this painting. It is meant to be fun and to cheer us up. I loved painting this, and I painted it at the request of my father who was a very academic, eccentric and creative man. He asked me to do the whole series, coming up with a different room in God's house for each painting. The next one I will write about will be God's kitchen. Of course, there will be apples from the garden of Eden there, but you will have guessed that as God has one here, on his desk, for his breaktime.
God bless, see you again in two weeks.
Saturday, 7 November 2020
Do you feel you should be “over it” by now?
Marie and Gill and I run Loss Conversations, a holistic listening support service, here in Bognor Regis. We run it for anyone who feels that loss, any loss, is affecting their lives, and we welcome everyone who comes. We feel it takes courage to come and speak. We listen and care and support.
Loss comes in so many forms but grief after the death of a loved one is the first that comes to mind. Grief can be overwhelming; it can knock us for six and leave us feeling confused, lonely and isolated. They say that grief is the price we pay for love which is not much help when we are suffering, but it is true that the price of great love can be great pain. Grief after the loss of a pet can be just as painful. We know that losing a beloved pet can be devastating and people deeply miss the companionship and comfort of a special animal in their life.
But what about the loss of a relationship? A job? Our home? Our health? If these losses – relationship, job, home, health, identity, country, loss of purpose or belief – if all these other losses cause us to suffer, then that too is grief. When we lose something physical, we can point to it, to the thing we have lost, and there is no doubt that something or someone has gone. With losses of such as purpose, connection, joy, confidence, the losses come from our emotional, mental and spiritual self. They may manifest physically, such as anxiety causing our stomach to knot, headaches, tiredness and tears. Or anger, being vulnerable to illnesses, and physical bodily pain that is hard to diagnose and strangely resistant to treatment. This gives us a physical expression of our grief, but the physical manifestation is not the real trouble. It is a symptom of our deeper grief at what we have lost.
These more existential losses can cut us as deeply as the loss of a person, pet, job, or home. But because they cannot be seen, we cannot point to an empty space and say, Look, that is where my loss was. We tend to suffer on in silence, hoping no one will notice and that we will be left alone, because it is hard to find the right words to describe what is happening for us. In our Loss Conversation sessions at the moment we are hearing about the sadness of loss of connection, of purpose, of work and of health. These losses make us feel vulnerable and exposed. We fear we have lost our way, and do not know how we can find our way back. We fear other people will judge us and this makes it hard for us to acknowledge out loud how bad we feel.
I have suffered many losses in my life. I have lost a partner, a husband, both parents, and a brother. I have also, as have most of us, faced losses in health, work, confidence and of purpose. The power of these experiences changed my life, making me realise that no one is immune from loss. I needed help, I needed gentleness, patience, time and support. We all need support and understanding when we are suffering. We all need each other.
I came through. Not on my own, but with help and support from those who knew the story of loss themselves. During those dark days, I found it hard to describe the emptiness I felt. I couldn’t make an effort to be cheerful and I didn’t want to go out into the world where everyone seemed to have the things I didn’t have any more. But despite feeling that I would never recover, never be normal again, life did get better, and the light began to shine in my world once more. It is because of these times that I support and work with people at and around the end of life because I know there is always hope. And love. I know how bad the bad can feel, and I know how important it is to have someone sit with you and stay with you.
When we are deep in a reaction to loss, we can feel unseen and unheard. Being heard is extremely important. To have someone listen to us without judgement, to take the time to let us speak about what it true for us, whatever that is, and to really listen, can make all the difference to us in our sadness.
Feeling as if you are in a ravine is lonely and frightening. Having someone alongside you in that ravine makes all the difference.
Four common responses to loss
Why they may manifest, and what to do about them.
- I’m arguing with everyone. Anger is a very common expression of grief. We expect sorrow but are surprised by how angry we are. We lash out, we blame, and we drive people away. Often we don’t know we are doing this. Sometimes the pain of our loss is too hard to bear, we don’t want to go there and find that anger is a powerful release. Inside, we are unable to face the unfairness of our loss. How could this happen to me? How could they do this to me? I need someone to blame, there has to be a reason. I don’t understand. It’s too much. When someone is angry, they need help to go behind their anger to address the pain they are avoiding. It’s frightening to feel so vulnerable and anger keeps it at bay. It’s important to find help to articulate the confusing emotions, and to hold the space for them. Being angry takes a huge amount of energy. The relief when it’s no longer necessary is very healing.
- I should have got over it by now. There’s no timescale to recovering from loss and it can be hard to feel the difficult emotions associated with it. While it’s not good to become stuck in grief, it’s also not good to rush yourself through it. It does take time. If we push ourselves too fast, we may become ill. Our bodies hold grief reactions which force us to stop and rest, take time off, whether we like it or not. If you have not got over it by now, give yourself a break. Some say it takes at least two years, some say more, some say less. How long is a piece of string? Take the metaphorical phone off the hook. You simply need more time and understanding, and you will come through in time, there is more gentle and kind work needed to help you recover.
- My family needs me to be strong. To take on the responsibility for other people’s grief and recovery when you too are affected by this loss, can cause you serious problems with your own healing. You need support too. Why do you feel you need to strong? What happens if you too are vulnerable? Sometimes taking on a support role keeps painful feelings at bay and makes you think you can avoid the pain. You are too busy and you are needed. But it will become too much if you ignore your own recovery in order to carry everyone else. It will make you ill. Your need to support everyone else but yourself will create confusion and more distress for you. You all need support. Perhaps if you seek help, you will show that strong people need help too, and your family will follow and a very good example will be set.
- I feel useless. Deep in a reaction to loss, you may become exhausted. You may want to hide away and do nothing. You have no motivation, no purpose and no reason to do anything. Where you once took part in the world outside, you don’t want to now. You feel useless. Invisible. Lost. You are bereft. But you are not useless, and it will take time to come to terms with your loss. Your body and mind need time off to do this, you will feel empty and tired, and this is part of the process of acceptance. It will pass, it needs to be allowed to run its course, and it’s important to allow yourself time. Patience and small acts of kindness to yourself will help, and do not judge yourself. You have lost something or someone, you do not need to be on top form and full of beans. You are not useless, but time, love, kindness and patience will work wonders.
A story from a Loss Conversations session
That sessions are intentionally face to face and not online. This is a very good thing. More than ever, we need each other. Our Loss Conversations are a support group hosting up to fifteen people and are covered under the recent restrictions and so we can continue to support each other.
One young man came to a Loss Conversation session having lost a close friend about two years ago. He came with his girlfriend and seemed to be more concerned with his girlfriend’s grief than his own. She was sad but coping, but the young man was convinced that she was not coping. He sat on the edge of his chair, looking hostile and deflecting any questions that came his way. He was short with people and a little rude. Eventually, I asked him, “Are you angry?” For some reason, though it was patently obvious to everyone else, it wasn’t obvious to him. After a few minutes, he agreed that he was. And then, out came all the anger, the hurt and the pain of his friend having died and left him. It was as if this friend had done it on purpose, had died and had not consulted him, had not given him time to say goodbye, and had left him forever. The young man was very angry indeed. But after a while, he calmed down. It had been a revelation to him, just how angry he was. He left calmer, with insight and very tired. We never saw him again, but he wrote to me afterwards thanking me for allowing him to understand his anger and telling me that a burden had been lifted from him.
A lovely word from a recent attendee
"At last I have had the opportunity to talk in confidence about how recent losses of friends and family are affecting and have affected me and can also listen to and empathise with the experiences of those who have also endured loss.
Thank you for hosting this voluntary compassionate social service especially at this time when it is most needed."
Feedback from a recent Loss Conversations meeting.
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Receiving - why are we so afraid to receive? New video here
Monday, 26 October 2020
God's Study. A glimpse, through a painting, into where God does all his admin. No religions needed, just a sense of humour.
|God's Study, painted for my father. First reference to his own life is the clock hands |
at five to eleven. This refers to his television programme in the eighties called
Five To Eleven, where famous guests read wonderful poetry.