Sunday, 9 April 2017

Caring for yourself and the world

I'm just back from the Lake District where I walked a few more miles for the homelessness charity SHELTER.
It's so beautiful there, much busier than I'm used to, yet despite the masses of visitors they've done a great job of preserving and protecting the areas of outstanding beauty by creating The Lakes National Park.
Made me think though (walking does that to me)!
We crave to save, to protect, to heal the damage done by the weather or willfully destructive humans, to instruct the visitors on the do's and don'ts of the countryside code all to ensure we take great care of the landscape we've been gifted and treat our natural environment with respect and love.
Now turn these instructions towards yourself.
How good are you at protecting yourself?
Do you recognise yourself as a gift to be handled with love and respect?
If you've been hurt do you, or have you sought out a way to help heal the damage done?
It's not okay to turn a blind eye to your own needs. Pretending to be okay when you're not would be like ignoring the broken timbers on the foot bridge; ignore it for too long and it will be damaged beyond repair.
"Go back and take care of yourself. Your body needs you. Your feelings need you. Your perceptions need you. Your suffering needs you to acknowledge it. Go home and be there with all these things." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Seeing beyond the mask.

If you really listen to what another person is saying, I mean really listen, you are able to cut through the words and feel the truth.  For all sorts of reason people can become magnificent maskers of the truth. 
The strongest relationships are with the people who are really able to listen and observe beyond the smile and words.
It matters not why we are not very good at being emotionally honest, the fact is, for most people it's painful and difficult to be really honest about what they're going through.  The irony is of course that no-one is immune to suffering and yet we all pretend to be fine!
The Belgian singer Jacques Brel is in my opinion one of the best.  His song, "Ni me quitte pas" is so beautiful I can often be found with tears rolling down my face as I feel the emotion in his delivery of the song.
Until I started writing this blog post I had no idea what it was about, I just knew it was sad. Unfortunately I don't understand French...but I do understand feelings!
I've just Googled the translation to "Ni me quitte pas" and it goes like this,

"Don't leave me
You have to forget
Everything can be forgotten
That is flying away already
Forget the time
The misunderstandings
And the time that was lost
Trying to understand how
Those hours can be forgotten
Those that are killing sometimes
With whys that hurt like punches
The heart of happiness

Don't leave me.."

There's more, but you get the gist. 

If you'd like to get better at noticing the truth behind words, why not listen to a song in a foreign language and notice what you feel?  Of course the beauty of songs are that the key and style the song is sung in can help deliver the "story" - but nevertheless it's a good way to improve your ability at reading what those you care about are really feeling.

"A person who truly loves you is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes in the smile on your face." - Author Unknown

Friday, 3 March 2017

The history that surrounds us.

An abandoned building covered in ivy intrigues and fascinates me.  The shape of the building still clear to see, but all the details so painstakingly and lovingly created by the builder and craftsmen now invisible behind the green shroud of overgrowth.
What happened?
When did the owner leave?  
Did he walk away with a heavy heart, leaving the place he'd hoped to create many more good memories dreaming one day he'd return?
The outline of the building remains and any passer by can easily recognise what it was; but their fleeting glance reinforces that they are broadly dis-interested in what it is now.
The four external walls wrapped in a green blanket of ivy with the bricks and pointing crumbling away, the interior damp and dark with an eerie silence and smell of rotting timbers and mold.

Not the beauty it once was.
And yet it's still here.
Strong, imposing, casting a silhouette of elderly grandeur against the orange dusk of the evening sky. 
We shouldn't disregard what is already here, nor should we ignore what has been here for longer than many of us.
The stories and history held in those buildings, the memories our elderly recall, the strength and beauty of the old trees - we know so little.

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." - Marcus Garvey

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

To walk and be free

I'm sitting in my kitchen with the sun beating shafts of light through the window with shadows dancing on my table, and splatterings of light and shade jumping and jostling for my attention on the wall.  It's cold out there and Storm Doris is about to land on our shores, and today I'm awash by a sense of peace and contentment.
This is also the way I feel when I walk.
And I love to walk, and walk and walk.
It's as basic a need as breathing in and out.
It's a time to appreciate the natural movement of my body doing what it was made to do.
Arms and legs, hips and knees, feet, head, neck, shoulders, tendons, ligamaments, bones, joints, cartilage, synovial fluid and membranes working collaboratively without any friction  "protests" or "walk outs" by any member of the "team".  If one aspect really started to complain the knock on effect on the rest of my body would be extremely detrimental!
So as I walk step by step across the ground feeling the wind on my face it serves as a stark reminder that today I am free.
I am so grateful for this freedom.
On a long walk of fifteen to twenty miles my body aches ..the pain isn't debilitating, it has an exquisite quality to it as I rely and trust that my legs will carry me for the duration of the journey.
I trust that my body is able to support me on this quest.
I quietly talk to myself, whispering encouraging words.
I can't afford to doubt myself.
I can't afford to let my body hear the whsipering doubts in my head.
Every step.
Every yard.
Every mile..achieved by my legs striding forward.
Step by step.
Even though today the wind is blowing I'll be heading out to walk a mile or two, maybe more, who knows?
It doesn't matter.
What matters is that with freedom comes choice.

With love to my amazing 3 kids, and my loving, supportive husband Andrew xx

"Every path, every street in the world is your walking meditation path." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, 29 January 2017

From Scotland to the U.S

Today has been a weird day - I feel quite sad and frightened.
My kids are fine, life is going well - but it's Donald.
We need to talk about Donald.
Yesterday he banned Muslims and citizens of countries that are predominantly Muslim from entering the U.S
I'm not a politician.
I'm not an academic.
I don't understand politics when they are relatively straight forward - so now with Donald at the helm I feel completely at a loss.
Today I have mostly been sad.
I have just signed a petition to stop Donald from making a State Visit to the UK - I want to show my solidarity to humans just like me, humans who don't want a human like Donald to think we (in the UK and in every single nation of the world) want anything to do with joining his, "club".
I love people.
Some have told me that I have trusted too easily in the past - and I will continue to do so because that's who I am.
That's who we were all born to be.
We are all the same.
I am here for the blink of an eye, as we all are.
Donald is currently in a staring competition with himself and forgetting how fleeting his time on earth, and as President of The United States actually is. I want him to blink - clear his vision and realise his hateful attitude will isolate him, and those who follow him.
My tears are for the people who are feeling scared, sad, angry and isolated by the actions of one man fuelling the insecurities and ignorance of his followers.
Most people care.
Most people love.
Most people want Donald to stop.
I'd love him to find peace in his own heart.
I'd love his followers to find that peace too.
I'm just going to keep my heart open, and hope that in time good will prevail.
And to all the amazing people who went to JFK Airport last night to rally - I was moved to tears and
I want you to know that in this little corner of Scotland I stand with you.
With love,
Kathleen x
"I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Taking down the wall

For those of you who prefer to live hidden behind a self built wall...I write this for you.
There's security, certainty a safeness about lying low, hidden from the world and its bombardment of confusing, messiness.
However,  if you're viewing the world with the belief that you mustn't be seen then you are also depriving yourself of the opportunity to witness real beauty and light intertwined with life's confusing messiness.
We cannot live (healthily) by hiding from the world, wearing blinkers and refusing to engage or walk alongside the trials, successes, joy and grief of our fellow man.
Start slowly.
It can be daunting.
Remove one brick at a time.
The view will change and as it does you can remind yourself of the thread of commonality that runs through all of us.
Celebrate that you are never really alone - unless it's self imposed - there is always a way of being with, and reaching out to others.
With love,
Kathleen x

"We are all cells in the same body of humanity."Peace Pilgrim

Monday, 26 September 2016

Working from the inside out.

To date I've moved 27 times in 48 years.  Now there's a ridiculous statistic.  In my defence 4 of the house moves were in childhood and out of my control, but that still leaves 23 down to me.
It was only recently that I realised that for years and years I've been missing the point.
Whenever a big life event happened it would feel unsafe for me to stay still, so I would sell up, or pack up when I rented...and then rather predictably to my friends and loved ones - I'd move.  I'd find the "perfect" place to unpack and I'd very quickly make that house a home.
The truth is that I never allowed myself the indulgence (as I saw it ) of feeling my sorrow and properly grieving.
Sorrow may seem a strong word - but I now realise that's what it was.
I could feel something; something indescribable and in response to the discomfort I'd start searching for somewhere new to run to.
If only I'd realised that running was not - and never was the answer.  The agitation and sadness kept following me - however fantastic the latest house was the ache in my heart was as intense as ever.
I have realised now (thank goodness) that I must be comfortable just sitting in this place right here.
How futile it is to change the lampshade when the bulb is blown.
No amount of elaborate, fancy, decorative lampshade will enable light to shine if the bulb is broken.
Recently "that" feeling started creeping back.
I had a knee jerk reaction, but I resisted!
I sat with the pain, and sat some more.
I meditated and I walked, and walked and walked some more.
And quietly I got home here is perfect...I need to stay and fix the bulb.
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." - C.S Lewis

Friday, 27 May 2016

Facts + Action = Results

Knowledge is power!

Burying your head in the sand is never really going to help - though I do understand why certain life events seem too daunting to face, so I'd allow you a short stay; a day pass for the "head in the sand" section.

Once you've released your head back into the glaring light of day and shaken the sand from your eyes and ears it would then be time to get on with finding out what your options are, and whether or not you're up for those options.  One can never assume that just because knowledge is gained appropriate action will follow.

Fear steps in....

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of acceptance.
Fear of failure.


There can be a sense of safety while you remain stuck in the loop of denial.  Safety with regards to your headmind at least, but not the all knowing, all loving bodymind, it wants to be lovingly cared for.  It wants you to take positive steps in a direction that both acknowledges there's been a problem and pro-actively witnesses you taking educated, well informed steps to remedy the problem.

If I know I've overdrawn my bank account and carry on merrily spending when I literally have no money left, I'm not going to get away with that for too long.

I might receive a polite text from the bank asking me to put funds in today as I've overdrawn my account.
I can delete the text and pretend I never saw it.
I might start getting letters from the council as I've missed a council tax payment.
I can choose not to open the letter as I have a feeling I know what that's about.
The companies I have direct debits or standing orders with start calling.
I choose not to pick up.

When it comes to issues of your health.  You can choose to ignore the early warning signs, or you can look up, start investigating your options and be as pro-active as possible.  Looking after yourself is no more than you deserve - if you're finding it difficult to show yourself the same kindness you would show a loved one, or a dear friend, confide in them.  Tell them how you're feeling and ask them to help you take the first step towards helping yourself be well again.

"Facts do not cease to exist just because they are ignored." - Aldous Huxley.

Monday, 14 March 2016

The benefit of obstacles

Sometimes it can feel like an incredibly laborious process to get to where you want to be!

Sometimes it just feels like too much effort.

There can be hurdles in the way, long periods of feeling stuck with neither forward nor backward movement. Very, very frustrating....however....

Today, while out on a walk I just happened to look up as a pine cone was falling from a tall branch en route to the forest floor, but instead of reaching its planned destination it settled onto a wide feathery branch about 8 feet from the ground.

I smiled as the line from the poem, "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns, sprung into my head,

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." 

Roughly translated it means, that our plans don't always go the way we'd hoped.

But maybe the stalling, the delays, the apparent obstructions are all necessary on the journey to our destination.

Maybe the hurdles give us more time to plan more clearly what we need and question if we're heading the right way.

Maybe having more time helps us think more creatively and stretches us in ways we didn't think were possible.

If you feel stuck try to see that the slowing down of your progress is not necessarily negative - instead take the opportunity to review where you're at, and feel what you could do differently at this point to help your forward momentum.

Maybe there's a much better route for you to take.

Maybe the conditions on the ground weren't quite right for the pine cone.

Maybe when the next big wind blows and the cone falls unobstructed to the forest floor the conditions will be perfect for the seeds to sow.

"Obstacles don't have to stop you.  If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.  Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." - Michael Jordan

Monday, 25 January 2016

Our Addiction To Patterns

We think of addiction as being associated with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling and the other usual culprits...however, there is something just as damaging; if not more so in some cases and that's an addiction to patterns.

Of course I don't mean that you can't get enough William Morris, or that your nights are spent trawling through the history of Mary White's designs.  The pattern addiction I'm referring to is circling relentlessly in your head and it can be just as tough to break as any other dependency.

Whenever I hear phrases like,

"But the last time I felt like this it went on and on and on...."
"If you knew what happened to me 35 years ago you'd know why I can't possibly be free from this depression..."
"Whenever the day starts like this, I know exactly how the rest of my day is going to be!"
"It's always the same..."
"I've never been any other way .."
"I'm clumsy/stupid/lack confidence/shy"  etc etc..delete or add appropriate word!

Any of those types of phrases when re-visited again and again can become quite appealing.  They appeal because they enable the person to give themselves a label, and hang on to that label (belief) forever. Doing this keeps them in the addictive loop of being a slave to their thoughts.

This enslavement means they have to live a restricted life - because, well, "It's always been this way!"

Providing there is a commitment and desire to change, there is always an alternative to being stuck in an addictive pattern.

Imagine a life free from the need to listen to, and live your life by your old beliefs!

Really, can you imagine that?

Well it is possible.

It starts (ironically), with STOP!

The moment you hear yourself saying something that is derogatory or that restricts your ability to live your life the way you want to, simply think the word STOP!

Engage all your senses in this moment right now and look around you.

This moment right now is the only thing that's real - don't trawl through the past - it's gone.  What could you do today that would help you feel re-connected to that you that's been waiting for your arrival?

Enjoy becoming your own wonderfully dynamic and unique self!

With love,
Kathleen x

"The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward." - Steve Maraboli