Welcome to the Blog page. This is where I turn the questions and wonderings of my mind into blobs/blogs of writing that I hope may be useful, interesting and sometimes insightful! Happy reading – and please feel free to share (but please don’t edit and respect the Copyright- thank you!)
We all love a story in some form or other. Maybe we love to catch up on the latest gossip over a coffee or a glass of wine, maybe we love to snuggle down with a good book or indulge ourselves in the roller coaster of a box set – it is all story telling. But have you considered that the whole of every moment is about stories? You wake up and switch the radio or TV on. You listen to the news – stories of our world and beyond, you listen to the weather – a futuristic story that is part of yours, you listen to other peoples’ thoughts and discussions – you peek in on their story. Each step of the day you are writing your own story and you play a character in other peoples’ stories. Sometimes you can determine the role you want to play, sometimes you are assigned a character whether you like it, accept it, or not. But the stories roll out as the worlds rolls on.
What about the kids – the ones we work with and our own? Who writes their stories? Well to begin with their stories are very much written for them by the adults in their lives. And not all of those stories are happy ones – many are tragedies. But there comes a point when they are able to pick up the pen of self determination and start to write for themselves. As parents we can often struggle with this – surely we could write it better than them? But we need to let go and move from author to a key character. We need to step back and watch as they design their own plots and tread their own paths – there will be comedy, there will be tragedy but it will be their story.
And the kids we seek to help? The ones who have been assigned a part in a tragedy from birth? We need to help them to start to write their own stories. To turn their tragedies to triumphs, to recognise that they can determine the part they play and the character they choose to be. Yes, they cannot unwrite the start of the tale, or the impact that has had on who they are, but they can choose how it unfolds, they can choose who plays the most significant roles and they may even be able to determine how it ends. Let us enable them to become the authors of their own destiny rather than the victims of their past.
(painting by Jan Fordyce)
Metaphors often help us understand the difficult to grasp concepts in life. Here is one of mine to help us to understand what often feel like the inexplicable behaviours we can see from the hurting children/people we work or live with:
The pebble or stone is the damaged child or person. When the stone hits the water it does not ripple, splash or change. It appears unaffected. But the water it lands into is disturbed – it rises into the air then falls with its own splashes, the waves cascade outwards unsettling the stillness and balance of anything in the way, the ripples reach far and wide until eventually they dissipate. A damaged human being can become hard like the stone. They have learnt to switch off their feelings, to close themselves up to protect themselves. But they still have those feelings, they still need to express them and experience them. So we feeling people – we are the water, and as the stone falls we are impacted – we rise into the air then falls with our own splashes, our waves cascade outwards unsettling the stillness and balance, our ripples reach far and wide until eventually they dissipate. So we feel for them, we express the emotions for them. And the stone? They hear the splash, they see the waves and ripples and they witness their feelings without having to be moved themselves. But as the stone witnesses its impact it knows it exists, even if it no longer feels, and the bigger the impact the stronger the evidence of existence.
So maybe that pain, that confusion, that anger, that anxiety are not yours? Maybe you are doing the feeling for someone else who is too afraid to feel. And maybe, just maybe, as they witness your ability to feel and not be destroyed, the stone may allow itself to feel again.
But take care and look after yourselves as being the water is challenging work.
A family Christmas gift – the entire set of Harry Potter DVDs – hours of first class story telling so prepare for what could be a few Potter inspired blogs!
I was engrossed in the film when out of the screen leapt one of Dumbledore’s (or should we attribute the real author and say J K Rowling’s?!) magical quotes filled with wisdom:
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
But, we cry, we must have dreams! Yes we must – and if you don’t have any this year is your year to dream! But those dreams can become mesmerising and all demanding. They can continually pull our thoughts and energies into a time that is yet to come…or may never come. Meanwhile the gifts that today, the present, bring are missed: moments of joy go unexperienced, creations of beauty go unseen, pleasurable sensations go untasted and priceless opportunities are missed.
This resonates for me as 2018 has been the year in which Mindfulness has become an almost (am still working on it!) integrated part of my functioning. With that has come a growing awareness of how much time I spend mentally tripping over my own feet in a race to catch up with my thoughts that are minutes, hours, days, weeks and sometimes years ahead of my actual body. I can only exist physically in the present moment but my mind engages in endless time travel. With that comes anxiety, stress and regret as I continually realise too late that I have missed some precious moment that I can never recapture.
It is a balance we need, as is so often the case. We need dreams – as to dream is to take the first step towards making life fulfilling. If you have no dreams then don’t be surprised if life disappoints you! But we must balance the dreaming with the living – experience the moments of joy, notice the beauty around, taste the pleasures that arouse all your senses and seize the priceless opportunities that are around every bend in the road. Let us be waking dreamers, fully engaged in experiencing every moment of the lives we already have, but daring to dream of futures that hold even greater wonder.
Have you heard the expression ‘a thin place’? Originally a Celtic concept it describes places where the division between the earthly and the divine, the physical and the spiritual is reduced…places where we suddenly feel connected to something more that the everyday, concrete world we inhabit…..places where we find ourselves experiencing a connection to something that our scientific brain cannot explain. “They are locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever” (Eric Weiner).
Ever felt like that? I have, and time seems to stand still – or maybe I stood outside of time for those infinite moments. But is it in a Place? There are definitely places that seem to inhabit the thin zone for many people, but there is no guarantee that for you it will hold a thin place experience. I think that it is much more personal than that – it is about an individual, it is about the juncture of a time in your life with a place of significance, a place that at that moment resonates and takes on something more than it had before.
Then what? For some the experience is one of spiritual revelation and a connection with God and the divine. For others it becomes about gaining a new sense of perspective of our place in this universe, of our purpose and of what matters.
As I thought about Thin Places my mind moved to Christmas and I realised that the Christmas story is one of Thin Place encounter after Thin Place. For each person the location of their Thin Place was part of their everyday life – Mary at home, shepherds in fields, astronomers at work….each had a Thin Place encounter where the division between them and God disappeared and they heard a message that came from beyond their everyday existence. Their response to that experience was to believe in the truth of it and to pursue it. Were there others who we don’t know about who chose to dismiss their experience and return to everyday life unaffected? But those who responded came face to face with the ultimate Thin Place – no longer a Place but a Person. Where the division between the Divine and the earthly was not even thin – it was nonexistent – as God became Man and dwelt among us. For those that met Jesus in his lifetime of earth, He became the Thin place where they encountered God.