Thursday, 14 December 2017

Unique and powerful - that's you I'm describing!

The snow is falling, gently, silently and without any fanfare or fuss.

Unassuming and unaware of the effect each delicate beauty has as they land on the icy ground;
I could go out and start shoveling and gritting, but the forecast is for the temperature to rise a bit later today so I'm opting out and just letting it be without interfering.

Each delicate, unique flake is completely unaware of its individual and collective power.

In a blizzard we can feel lost and irrelevant, but as Voltaire wrote,

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

If you disagree with those in power you must stand up, stand apart and speak your truth.  You are not governed by the weather, you are not a snowflake, you can decide to stand aside and not be pushed or bullied into following the crowd.

Like millions of others I was left aghast, saddened and bemused when Trump was elected.  I was delighted to read that this week Doug Jones, a Democrat won against the Republican Roy Moore in Alabama.. the first time in two decades a Democrat has won there!

Bit by bit the quiet few found their lost voices and remembered their power. One by one they went out to vote and were heard.  Never underestimate your individual and collective strength.

Your feelings are here for you to notice.  This is your time, what do you love?  What is important to you?  Are you able to share that?  Why keep quiet when you have a voice?  Be your wonderful self in glorious technicolour and notice how it feels to share your passion by lifting a lid on your silence.

With love,
Kathleen x

Sunday, 3 December 2017

When the music moves you, you have a choice.

There are times when a piece of music on the radio or television catapults me back to a time that has long since past.

Sometimes I sit and listen to the tune indulging myself in the sadness or joy it conjures up.
Other times I find myself sprinting for the off switch so I don't have to re-live those memories.

Yesterday, on BBC Radio 2,  Paul Gambaccini was doing his show, "Tracks of my years" with 1992 being one of the years on his play list.

What a mixture of mercies that brought up!

My girls and me living in a little farm cottage in Moray, alone but together, freezing but cosy, happy but sad, putting a brave face on it while playing a game I called,  "Let's be like the Victorians!"
We'd play this game whenever I ran out of credit for the electricity meter and I'd stick on the coal fire, light the candles and play board games or make jigsaws in candle light.

Not so long ago my eldest daughter (she's 29 years old now) told me she had no idea, she really thought it was us having fun...that's a relief to know!  She was only 4 years old and all sleeping in one bed, "like the Victorians" made sense to her.
I had no idea how my life would pan out, or what twists and turns it would take...none of us do.

Despite what an onlooker may have seen at that time, I knew life would get better and all would (eventually) be well.  I believe that all three of my kids have inherited the attitude of, "I might be down on my luck, but I'm not out yet" as they have all shown incredibly resilience and resourcefulness when the chips are down; I really admire that in them.

Sharing this is not meant to provoke a pity party - quite the opposite in fact.

I want to encourage you to realise the power of music, and use it for your benefit.  It can uplift you if you're in a chapter of your life that is challenging, and it can hold you down in the doldrums.

So choose your music carefully. Move and dance to the tunes you love, and avoid the music that leaves you feeling heavy and stuck.  The energy we feel when the music moves us can aid our recovery or our hold us in the belief that this is as good as it gets!

Now where's that track," Courage (For Hugh Maclennan)" by The Tragically Hip? I love that one!

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." - Plato

Sunday, 19 November 2017

My story about that hashtag.

I use writing as my way to release the pressure in my head. It's also my hope that on even the tiniest level my words may help, inspire or motivate others.

The recent #MeToo has brought up a whole load of feelings and memories which have been churning inside me for years.  For those who may not know about it, the hashtag followed by MeToo was being used all over social media to mean that person had been harrassed or sexually abused.  The idea was to show the magnitude of the problem across the world.

I feel sadness, a real deep sadness for those millions of men who are respectful, warm, caring and loving - I can't imagine how horrible they must feel at the unraveling and exposure of  men who have behaved abominably and in a way that leaves those decent men baffled, uncomfortable and angry.  I am lucky enough to be married to one of those good men today, and I never take my meeting him nearly 12 years ago for granted.

I haven't used #MeToo on any of my social media platforms... this is not because I've not been harassed or indeed sexually assaulted - sadly the latter on more than one occasion.

For me the first half of the 1980's was turbulent, confusing, sad and filled with excruciating inexplicable emotional and physical pain.

Some, though not all of this was as a result of a few opportunistic predatory men who made me feel worthless at a time when I was incredibly vulnerable, fragile and an emotional mess.  The sudden accidental death of my big brother had catapulted me into a life where my decisions were based around my thoughts which were, "What's the point?"  "I'll be dead soon!" "Who cares? I don't!"

Despite those thoughts the desire to survive and my ability to see there was the potential for a happier life beyond abuse became bigger than all the awfulness. By 1984 I was on a mission to stop allowing conscious-less men to stop assisting me on my path of self destruction and I applied to Nursing Colleges all over Scotland and chose to go to Foresterhill College (West). 

My interview happened, I was offered a place and as soon as I was old enough I left my home town and moved 103 miles north to Moray.

Sometimes I still feel like I was part of the problem.  Then I remind myself that they were adults.  I was a young teenager. They know who they are.  I know who they are.  I am back living in my home town.  That's not always easy as I see the faces of those same men, older, fatter, uglier. Have they managed to re-frame their memories of those events so well that they think saying "Hello!" to me in the street is okay?! 

If you see me.
Stay silent.
Look to the ground and walk on by.

Posting this blog is not going to be easy for me, as there will be people who wish I hadn't. 

Sometimes silence is too dark and hides more darkness. I hope that by sharing this it creates at least a crack wide enough to let in the smallest shaft of light to brighten those corners so abuse starts to be seen wherever it is and has literally nowhere to hide.

To end on a more positive note..
After 10 years of nursing I re-trained at Regent's College, London in Solution Focused Psychotherapy and Reverse Therapy.  Over 14 years on I remain as passionate as ever about helping people live their best possible life free from pain.  Today I understand clearer than ever that some of that passion is driven by my own experiences in early life.  I can't say I'm grateful for that, of course I'd rather none of that happened - but it showed me the strength of my resolve and for that I am glad.

I have a loving husband, 3 grown up kids, two daughters and a son.  They are truly inspirational.

Love yourself, love your family and friends, and keep speaking and sharing your stories. 

With love,
Kathleen x

"Don't judge yourself by what others did to you" - C. Kennedy

Thursday, 24 August 2017

In life and garden

I love watching my Petunias and Nasturtiums roam wild and free, spreading and intertwining themselves far and wide across flowerbeds and paths.  The sweet peas so apparently innocuous in their beginnings rise and twist upwards, stretching and twirling, seductive and tantalising as they grow- their bursts of colour rather dramatically leap out from the dancing green scenery surrounding them.  The perfect Petunias too, I celebrate their tender, delicate flower heads like a siren to the bees so vibrant and enticing.
My style and preferred way of gardening is to let the wild, roaming plants do their thing.
Leaving them alone I watch them flourish and it feels as if they appreciate the freedom. I'm sure I see their "nod" of approval as they grow! Too much pruning, staking and attempts to control them and they soon let me know how unhappy they are.  Unable to travel so far the blooming flower heads seem weaker, less vibrant.  In order to flourish some plants do require guidance and support and with the extra attention from the human hands that guide and love them they show their appreciation by their vibrancy and health. However with too much clipping and restraining plants can lose their zest for life, wither and die.
It's all about balance.
Don't do anything forcefully.
Be gentle.
Work with reason and be considerate to all the factors that affect the plant, and with that attitude your plants will thrive.
My husband Andrew has said to me more than once that he thinks I have, "green fingers."
I'm not so sure about that, but I do appreciate plants; their uniqueness and beauty and I do my best to nurture and care for them as unintrusively as possible.
We all have different ways of gardening and being in this world, be passionate and honest and your life and garden will be a reflection of your love, focus and dedication.
With love,
Kathleen x

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Gathering Storm

There are always signs that a storm is coming.  A graying of the skies, the leaves on the trees gently rustle and thin branches gently bend, birds flutter to shelter in the bushes and an oppressive doomsday feeling closes in as the temperature steadily drops.
Then, as the darkness continues to swallow up every last shard and pinhole of light, a sense of the inevitable settles on the observer and suddenly the realisation dawns:  there is no escape from this.
I am powerless.
The body sends subtle messages that all is not well.  We ignore them at our peril.  We busy ourselves pretending this storm will pass us by, and the body screams louder, and louder still.
We can survive the gravest of storms, but only if we face up to the fact that the storm is happening and we take the steps required to get us safely to the other side where peace and calm await.
We are powerful.  Take action and be the person your body knows you can be.
"If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather then storm." - Frank Lane

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Physical Exercise = Mental & Physical Health

Recently I decided to get fit...I mean seriously get on with getting properly fit!  This has involved, 2 yoga classes a week, an aqua fit class, a circuits class, running 3-4 times a week covering varying distances between 2-4 miles where I either do a straight run or use an app for interval training, and finally following another app that has me doing squats, sit ups and press ups with all three sets being done every alternate day increasing repetitions in each session.
To the onlooker the changes are minute, unnoticeable even; but inside my body (and mind) forces of an epic nature are at work.
Chemical and muscular changes are taking place - and I feel alive!
It feels like my muscles have re-joined the workforce after several unhappy years of forced redundancy - and as a result my body is now finally rejoicing!
Not fulfilling my body's potential has been like continuing to watch a blurry television, tolerating poor quality reception knowing that all I had to do was stand up, walk to the TV, lean over and plug in the aerial.
I'm only doing what my body was built to do.
I've plugged in my aerial! 
I know there will be days when I feel less motivated and reluctant to get out there and get on with it, but I hope by writing this I can remind myself, (and maybe even motivate you) that the feeling I have now, the energy and focus and sense of life is in fact attainable.
"Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity." - John F. Kennedy

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