a new beginning, 2015


January 1

I Choose to Begin

I love all beginnings, despite their anxiousness and their uncertainty, which belong to every commencement.  If I have earned a pleasure or a reward, or if I wish that something had not happened; if I doubt the worth of an experience and remain in my past – then I choose to begin at this very second.

Begin what? I begin.  I have already thus begun a thousand lives.

Rilke
Early Journals, A Year with Rilke
Daily readings from this book

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Rilke-Daily-Readings-Rainer

Rilke has always been a favourite of mine ever since I read his book, Letters to a Young Poet, many years ago.  It’s funny how some things change over time and some just remain the same.  I got a Kindle recently and Rilke’s book, A Year with Rilke, was the main inspiration for my purchase.  I wanted something I could look at daily, a few words that could perhaps accompany me throughout the day and offer me some food for thought.

Like many book lovers I resisted going all electronic so a Kindle was out of the question for a long time because of all the aesthetic pleasures that books afford — the sweet scent of a new book; the feel of the crisp pages between my fingers; the impressive colours of a book cover and its pride of place on the book shelf.  But then something happened……

I bought a smaller bag! And books were beginning to not be as convenient to lug round on the tube and back.  I guess for the last couple of years this really did not matter as I wasn’t in the frame of mind to read.  I couldn’t concentrate on a magazine let alone a novel.  But Murakami rekindled my old love, my former joy for books.  Colorless Tsukuru was an easy read and an enjoyable one.  It reminded me of what I had been missing — the sheer joy of positive escapism!   And I knew I had to continue reading.  And now with my new shiny Kindle, reading is so much easier and more accessible.  I can even read in bed, snug under the duvet, with all the lights off!

My writing workshop facilitator would be very pleased as I’m now taking her advice and “reading, reading and reading“. There was also something else I learned from that workshop.  Someone in the group mentioned as we were reading through some poems, that an author sometimes “shows but not tells”. And that stayed with me for some reason. How often we do it too in our lives, to ourselves, to each other, I wonder?  We say things, in blogs, in letters, in conversations but there is so much that goes unsaid and the things we do not say (and maybe subtly show instead) are equally important as what is said.  Maybe they are even more important as they may imply and suggest the secrets and messages within us that we rather keep in the dark? What have you not said and why?

Then again not every dark place needs the light and therefore not every single thing needs to be said, or revealed. Some things are best left residing in the darkness, where they safely belong. Just with you. And only you.

Be kind to yourselves.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
http://www.amazon.co.uk

this thing called Christmas…


Today is my final day at work for the year before I return in January 2015.  In the recent weeks I have been reminded of the nightmare and madness of the so-called ‘festive’ period, this thing called Christmas. I work in the heart of London so am surrounded on a daily basis by the lovely delights of shoppers, tourists and those who insist on walking and kept mesmerised by their mobile/tablet/kindle at the same time paying no heed whatsoever to the traffic behind them.  At the best of times, these folk test my somewhat limited patience but over the last few weeks they’ve drained every last every bit of it away from me.  I cannot wait for the madness of Christmas to be over with and for normality to resume. At the moment it’s impossible to just nip into your local M&S to get a sandwich for lunch if you want to do so in the usual 15 minutes or so.  No. Be prepared to be standing behind hoards of people in a queue with trolleys and baskets piled high with food.  For lest we forget, the shops will be closed for all of ONE day.  We will starve if we do NOT stock up. People.  You will not starve.  Have you heard of the thousands living in poverty and facing poverty during Christmas?  Young adults?  Children??

Perspective, please.

You do not need even half the stuff you have in your trolleys.  You know most of it will be sitting in bin bags come new year’s day. Next to your no-longer required Christmas trees.   And you’ll be back in M&S or Waitrose or wherever you shop, this time stocking up on the alcohol for seeing in 2015. I will be volunteering at a homeless overnight shelter over Christmas in the heart of London.  I am not doing this because it is seen as a ‘good’ thing to do. No act is ever truly altruistic anyway.  I am aware of my own selfish motives but they are healthy ones I tell myself as they benefit both me, the volunteer, and the ones I volunteer with.  I am reaching out because I feel that there is a lot of pain, loneliness and isolation 365 days a year. And this is felt even more acutely over the festive period.  So Christmas is exactly the time of year when a little bit of kindness towards those who have little or nothing, may save someone another year of heartbreak; of feeling alone while others seem to have  a place to go, family to be with, friends to share warmth and joy and companionship, or a Home (a concept that people who have never been homeless are so quick to dismiss).

And it is not just the homeless.

There is hidden homelessness too. And not just those who are sofa-surfing.

Think about the ones locked up, in prisons, in immigration detention centres, behind four walls that close down on a person every day. I invite you, if you can, to suspend judgment for a moment and just reflect on those separated by force and not by choice from those they love. Think about how being locked-up changes a person, how they may choose to disconnect because it may be easier for them to do so (but not necessarily for the ones affected down the line) and the ripple effects of this choice, cascading down over and over again in waterfalls of pain, to all those connected and involved.

Think about how we all are vulnerable and become products of our environment, like it or not. And the damage this does. Feel all this. Let it sink it. Don’t brush it away. It matters. So there is a lot to think about! And maybe the next time you load a trolley and your basket for things you do not need, pause and reflect?   Think about your friends who may be on their own pretending to be all OK and strong. Perhaps you could ring them? Or ask if you could come over, for a chat or a chocolate digestive? Or both?

You never know, your kindness may just save someone.

Take care.

Be kind to yourselves.

Quaker Homeless Action
http://www.qha.org.uk

Detention Action
http://www.detentionaction.org.uk

Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service
http://www.pffs.org.uk

a life once lived


Once upon a time, a long, long, while ago, there lived a woman, who appeared (to herself at least), to know what she wanted to do and be.

She was sure to an extent and secure in the knowledge of the road she was on; the course she was pursuing and the many clinical placements she found herself juggling along-side a full time job. It was all worth it, she thought.  It was all going to be so good, so worth the sacrifices. And besides, it was good to be kept busy, to BE busy.  To be occupied all the time.

It made her feel like she was living a ‘useful’ life and that perhaps life did have some meaning after all.

And so this pursuit of clinical work, clients, psychotherapy in hospitals and prisons went on for five years.  FIVE years.  Even on Saturdays.  What was this woman thinking?? What she doing to herself?  Oh yes, finding meaning. Doing her bit for others.  ‘Helping’ others help themselves.  So this woman listened to stories, to so many stories.

Stories that were never simple nor straight-forward. Stories that others chose to share with her; the funny and the sad; the simple and the intricate; stories that have been filled with light and stories that have been blacker than the darkest night. And in the listening she had her beliefs, prejudices and clichés stretched and challenged. She struggled to let them go; to dissolve, to melt, to reshape. It is easier to stay with what one knows after all.

This woman is me.  She is still me.  And she lives on, today.

But the person I am today is some one who does not know where the road is leading.  The person I am today is very different from the woman who thought she knew.

And I think I have come to accept (through much fighting and struggling) that it is OK not to know.

That life is very rarely level-headed or clear.

And plans never seem to work anyway.

So it’s OK not to have one, I think?

Sometimes nothing is clear.

I have had to let go of this need that things ‘should’ make sense for they don’t, not always at least.

Sometimes never.

Sometimes there is no meaning to why things happen the way they do.

So here I am today, at this precise point in my life in place of unknown, of uncertainty.  I know this place very well now.  The fog has become familiar.

Yet, I long for the day when the fog lifts, if only a little, to show me what’s on the other side, so that I see clearly again and am able to do what it is I need to do with my life.

I wish you all much Light, amidst the fog and darkness.

candle light

Be kind to yourselves.

the beginning of something to tell


tree

I have wanted to start writing, be it a blog, or a journal, or scribbles on a notebook but just starting to write (or continuing to write) has seemed so difficult.  I’ve started and then I’ve fallen off the band-wagon many a time! There’s a block, a resistance perhaps a psychoanalyst may interpret! Unsure what exactly a Jungian therapist might say but I do know what an existential counsellor would!  Having said all that I am aware that writing does something for me.  I don’t know what exactly, but it does help to release, shift and stir what is within.  And in doing so, I am able to breathe better.  I don’t know exactly what this blog will contain for there are no specific themes it must or should follow.  It will be what it will be.  It will be what it is meant to be. Thank you for your company.