Daily Post ~ Dash

Daily Post ~ ‘Dash’

That one short phrase left me paralysed. I saw him emerge from the trees, at quite a distance, before (I hope) he had the chance to see me. I knew him. His stature, his gait, the way he was so absorbed in his music as he jogged through the park alongside the river, catching the breeze. It was freedom to him. His solitary pursuit, and he felt free. I could see it. I knew it. I knew him.

My face burned red as the gap between us gradually began to close. I worried that if or when he saw me he would think that I was a cliché, or a character of my own making, rather than me. My camera hung around my neck, and I fumbled with the pen and notebook in my hand. I had come here to slow down, to walk at the river’s gentle pace, to capture moments too inspiring to miss, that most of us sadly, in too much of a hurry through life, did miss. I was here to think, to ponder, but most of all, to write. This was my freedom. Did that ever really matter to him? Did he ever know me the way I knew him?

He was in his zone. I wanted to be invisible just to give me time enough to compose myself, to figure out what to do or what to say. I took a deep breath. Invisible or not, I would never be ready for this.

He spotted me. He raised his arm slightly in a friendly wave, and I could see him begin to slow his pace, turn his music down, and switch gears. He was always so much better at doing that than me. He could hide the way he felt so much more easily, and that frustrated me. Not that he could appear calm and composed, but that I could not, no matter how hard I tried. Surely he would be able to see right through me, my feigned calm, cool demeanour, to see that inside I was terribly flustered….and afraid. Part of me wanted to be an unfathomable mystery to him, composed, stoic, in complete control. Another part of me wanted him to see me just how I was, and in that to see how much he, how much all of this really meant to me, and in turn to care as much as I did. I wondered if he could.

The distance between us grew shorter and shorter, and then in a breath, he was there before me, hunched over, his hands resting on his knees, his dark hair flopping over his face, as he paused to regain his breath. As he straightened up, his smile disarmed me. He gestured that he would have hugged me but then pointed to himself and his shirt damp with sweat, as if to save me from the discomfort. I smiled, nervously. He was charming as ever, gentle, kind in the questions he asked. He did seem to focus on me, to show a genuine interest in what I was doing. The familiarity seemed to comfort us both. I could see what I couldn’t see in him before, or what I was too hurt to see, what perhaps he was trying to hide. He did care. He did see me.

For some precious moments it seemed as if time had stopped, and if nothing at all had changed between us. As we reconnected, I gently began to ask him about how he was, what was going on in his life, how he was doing. I had never seen him flustered before like this. He wiped his brow, laughed nervously, trying to hide his hurt, trying to protect himself in a way that I sensed he still wanted me to protect him from himself. Somehow, unwittingly, I had disarmed him.

He laughed again, that charming, genuine laugh, and shook it off. And then he said it. ‘It’s been so great to see you, but you know’, he paused gesturing to his sports watch, ‘I’ve really got to dash’.

I froze. I just couldn’t engage myself to speak or act. ‘Got to dash’. Was he in such a hurry to get away from me? Were we still journeying through our lives at such a different pace that even now he could not pause to take this in. Would he miss it yet again? Would I?

He paused just longer than he had intended to and I could see the hurt in his eyes. He really didn’t want to dash, but that was his way of coping, the way he thought he could be free.

And as he turned away, I let him go. Life was too important to me to live at that pace, and he knew that that held true for him too. Perhaps, in time, at a gentler pace our paths would cross once more. But in the meantime, we both had our own journeys to make.

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Retaking Control

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve worked twice as hard only to get half as far? That you’ve overcome so much pain and so many obstacles that you should be ‘ok’ by now, or ‘ok enough’, that just when you begin to think that you’re moving from survivor to thriver that you suddenly feel that things are beginning to get on top of you again?

I’ve been there many times. Life can be hard, but we keep getting up and keep on going as much as we can. Sometimes things get overwhelming though, and it takes time to get back on our feet again. I am back on my feet and going strong, or so I thought, but recently I have been struggling again.

This evening I find myself ‘sinking’ a little as depression and traumatic childhood memories, fears and feelings from being bullied and the years of distress and anxiety that followed begin to resurface. It can be difficult. It can feel sad.

I feel like I’ve poured my heart into some recent blog posts, and that these have perhaps been overlooked. I guess all of us are looking for connection and appreciation, and I realise that I have given a lot of good advice in terms of self care, well being, and mental health, that I need to take on board myself right now.

It’s time to retake control. I can’t let myself slip back into feelings of being overwhelmed or any other negative emotion. And I can’t look to people for confidence, courage or comfort, for ultimately that’s not where my strength comes from (Psalm 121).

I am sorry if this has been a muted post, but this is Life As It Happens To Be, and this is a real life, real time, struggling with real issues and real moods, anxiety, PTSD and depression.

Yet, I have come a long way. I’ll simply take a step back and regain my strength, and be on the road from survivor to thriver once again.

Much love. ❤ xx

 

Life as it happens to be…some reflections & plans….& future blog topics…

Life as it happens to be

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Passing the yearly mid-point

Hi friends. 2nd July 2017. Can you believe we’re now more than half way through this year? I don’t know how that makes you feel, but I have a good feeling about it, which is quite a change from the anxious feelings I’ve had in previous years. This year I have been more mindful of making the most of my moments and not feeling so ‘dictated to’ by the clock or the calendar or the idea of ‘milestones’ that ought to have been reached by now. I do sometimes like to consider time in ‘manageable portions’ (don’t we all?), to take time to reflect, especially around the new year, and to plan ahead for the year to come. Perhaps you are similar, or maybe you prefer to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens. I think to some extent we all like a bit of…

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Life as it happens to be…some reflections & plans….& future blog topics…

notebooks128.jpg

Passing the yearly mid-point

Hi friends. 2nd July 2017. Can you believe we’re now more than half way through this year? I don’t know how that makes you feel, but I have a good feeling about it, which is quite a change from the anxious feelings I’ve had in previous years. This year I have been more mindful of making the most of my moments and not feeling so ‘dictated to’ by the clock or the calendar or the idea of ‘milestones’ that ought to have been reached by now. I do sometimes like to consider time in ‘manageable portions’ (don’t we all?), to take time to reflect, especially around the new year, and to plan ahead for the year to come. Perhaps you are similar, or maybe you prefer to just ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens. I think to some extent we all like a bit of both, to varying degrees. We need both stability and spontaneity in our lives. There is something about a ‘half way point’ that is a natural demarcation that can call us to reflect, or ‘pause and ponder’ and think about our life’s direction, our achievements, goals and plans for the future.

Perspectives

Sometimes passing a ‘half way point’ can make people feel nervous, unsettled, fearful, anxious or as if they have failed if they haven’t been able to achieve or get to where they had hoped or planned. I understand that. However, if you are in that place, I would encourage you to take a step back from the lens that you have been looking through and enjoy that wide expansive horizon before you.

Life is made up of different seasons, and unlike the predictability of the movement of nature’s seasons year after year from Spring to Summer to Autumn/Fall onto Winter, our lives are not like that. At twenty we cannot look across to the lives of twenty five year olds and find a uniformity in their circumstances that we can look to as a guarantee for the shape of our future. Nor can we do so at any age or stage of life. Yes, there may be certain things that hold a degree of certainty such as infancy, school years, college / university, graduation, employment, and so on. However, even then, we all have different starting points and obstacles and opportunities whether they be in the form of our health, family background, upbringing, socio economic status, limitations, abilities, temperament or whatever else they may be. We may be encouraged or hindered by the families we are born into, or by the company we keep or are compelled into by life’s circumstances. We may suffer abuse, neglect, trauma, unfair treatment, disadvantage or we may find ourselves blessed with favourable circumstances and a mostly happy or even carefree life. Perhaps the seemingly ‘predictable’ patterns of earlier years become more tangled, complex and uncertain as the years go by. Which is a good reason to refrain from harsh judgement of ourselves or others, and to avoid the ‘comparison trap’. Everyone has a story, and a ‘cross to bear’ as it were, and most times we are not really aware of what others around us are really going through however their lives may seem on the surface.

Finding Peace

Perhaps a simple prayer to ponder when life feels uncertain is the ‘Serenity Prayer’, which is simple yet full of wisdom:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

I personally love this prayer. It draws me away from being overly concerned with what is going on around me or from comparing my life to anyone else’s. It reminds me that like you, I have a Creator Who has made me who I am for a reason, and that if I want certainty and hope in my life I need only to look to Him for He Is True and Unchanging, unlike much of our experience of life in this world. And it reminds me that I am not powerless. I am not a victim of life’s circumstances, and although there are certain things that are beyond my control, still there is much that I can change. And so can you.

Who you are, and where you are now

All that being said, I’d like to remind you, yes *you*, special you reading this now, are Unique, Irreplaceable, ‘Fearfully & Wonderfully Made’ (Psalm 139) and are Special and Important just for who you are. You are not an accident, it is not by chance that you are here, right now, even reading this for perhaps you need to hear a word of encouragement. You are you for a reason, and you are here right now for a reason too.

So be kind to yourself. Know that life is not all about status or achievement or relationships or milestones achieved. It is enough that you are you. Truly. I believe that there is only One Who can love you in the way you need to be loved for you to know and experience this, and I hope that you will find your way to Him, the Lord Jesus.

However, no matter what your thoughts or beliefs, still you are important, a unique individual who deserves respect and care, and that my friend, begins with you. With how you view yourself, how you ‘talk to’ yourself, and how you treat yourself and others.

Where you are now may be a place of contentment, and if so I am pleased for you and hope that you enjoy and are blessed in this time of your life. However, where you are right now in life, may not be so great. In which case, remember from the Serenity Prayer above, that you are not powerless. You can make a change today, even if a small one, and you can keep going. This is the season of life that you are in, and inevitably with all seasons, it is transient and will change. So make the changes that you can and should, and seek to be at peace with the things that you cannot change.

So, What’s Your Plan?

Ok, ok, I’m a bit of a self-confessed ‘geek’. I like stationery. I like making lists and plans. I like seeing things written down, and I like colour coding! It’s not a crime, is it? 🙂

Over the past few years, lists and plans have been small yet very helpful tools for me to aid me through some very difficult times. As mentioned previously I have complex trauma / PTSD, severe clinical depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The past few years have been very tough health wise, yet this year has been pretty good, productive and one in which I am getting on top of my health challenges, which I hope is an encouragement to any of you out there who are struggling in any way. We can build resilience in ourselves and we can make tangible changes for the better.

So do you have a list or a plan? If so, what’s in your plan? And how has it helped you? If you think that sharing these insights with us might help someone else, then you are more than welcome to leave a comment or a link to a relevant blog post.

Here’s What’s in My Plan…

At the start of the year, I took some time to be a geek and to make up some lists 🙂 It has helped me to ‘stay on track’ as it were, and to measure my progress in areas of my life that are important to me.

I’ve never shared anything like this publicly before, however, I would like to do so now in the hope that it might help, encourage, or be a useful starting point for some of you to consider what is important to you in your lives, and how to live more fully in the days and years to come.

So here goes, ‘it is what it is’, it’s not ‘perfect’, but it was my starting point for this year. I’ll be brave and share it with you lovely people.

I categorised my life into 14 priority ‘life areas’, which I will list below, unchanged from when I wrote them in a notebook in January of this year. Further to this I made further more specific ‘sub goals’ or actions to more practically guide me in maintaining and enhancing these 14 life areas. These have been organic and involve a lot of scribbling, doodling, brainstorming and note-making, therefore I won’t share these as that would just get a bit too ‘crazy’ and unwieldy for a blog post 🙂 Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks! I also made a simple ‘accountability tracker’ for each month of the year which worked well for the first few months but may continue to change as I change.

2017 Life Areas:

  1. Relationship with God / Faith
  2. Relationship with Family
  3. Friendships
  4. Work / Career
  5. Finances
  6. Health & Wellbeing / Mental Health / Nutrition
  7. Homekeeping / Hospitality
  8. Travel
  9. Hobbies & Recreation
  10. Self Development / Lifelong Learning
  11. Life Skills
  12. Future Unknowns / Hopes
  13. Helping Other People / Outreach / Volunteering / Charity, etc.
  14. Lifelong / Long-term Goal ~ Writing.

 

‘Life As It Happens To Be’ ~ The Birth of An Unexpected Blog & The Timing of Things

As you can see from the above list, a blog could quite reasonably fit into a couple of categories (such as 9 & 14). However, I never listed it specifically in the above list, nor in any of my ‘sub lists’ (ok, already, I told you I’m a self-confessed list making ‘geek’. The world needs us! 🙂 🙂 ).

My ‘blog baby’ therefore came as an unexpected surprise. A couple of years ago I created my own website on Wix, which I was an am very happy with. It is quite different in appearance from this blog, yet contains many similar themes. However, it never really did ‘go anywhere’. There wasn’t really the same scope to connect with other bloggers as there is here, and so it kind of drifted into the background of my life, and it no longer took much place in the day to day things of my life. In May of this year, I think, someone suggested that I try blogging on Word Press. And so on 28th May 2017, just over a month ago, I did just that, I began this blog, and now here I am, and here we are. I am so glad I did.

Perhaps my previous website was a preparation for this new adventure. Although this blog wasn’t on my list of pursuits this year, it has really taken a special place in my life, even though I have barely been blogging for long. I love this creative and somewhat philosophical outlet. I love connecting with you all, and gaining an insight into your lives and adventures and experiences and learning from what you have written, photographed and shared. I often find myself thinking about things to blog about, and find that it is becoming a beautiful experience that I definitely wish to continue.

I am grateful for those of you who have joined me on this shared journey. I hope you will continue with me, but even if our paths were only meant to cross for a short time before they diverge, I am glad for this time and this season with you. I really hope that some of the things I’ve shared have been an encouragement to you. I may not have met you face to face, but I do care, and as I am moving past some difficult years into something new, I hope that together we can discover more of what it means to be ‘Living Fully’, right here, right now.

The Future? Well, I don’t know too much about that, but I do have plans for some new Blog Posts! 🙂

I’m intrigued to know whether any of you are ‘regular’ readers. If so, then thank you, I appreciate you. I also would like to know what interests you, and what I can write more of to encourage you, for I do have the heart of an encourager, and you, unseen internet friend, matter to me ❤ 🙂

In the meantime, let me share some of the things that you can expect to see more of on my blog in the near future (hopefully!):

I intend to continue my regular posts such as daily photos, daily prompts, self-care series and posts about mental health. In addition to what I’m already posting, you can look out for:

  • A continuation of my ‘self-care’ series.
  • Future LUSH product reviews.
  • A July ‘Subscription Box’ review.
  • Travel: in less than a week, I am going for a short adventure / journey on an old steam train in northern Scotland which I hope to feature in a blog post shortly afterwards.
  • More on Books! Literature reviews and posts on the books I am currently reading.
  • Future travel plans.
  • As mentioned above, more on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Faith journeys.
  • Creative writing.
  • A colouring book review: a friend has recently gifted me with a new adult colouring book, ‘Images of Hope’, which I have started working on and will look forward to sharing with you.

So there you have it, some things to look forward to, and I hope you are enjoying journeying on this adventure with me.

Much love. ❤ xx

 

Notebook image, courtesy of Google Images. All other content (c) is my own.

 

 

 

 

Daily Prompt ~ ‘Passenger’

Daily Prompt – ‘Passenger’

Today’, I told myself. ‘Today will be the day’. I held this thought for a moment, then let it drift from the forefront of my mind. I wondered if I had everything that I needed. I was sure that I had checked and checked again, but still it was best to make sure, again. Papers, money, tickets, my bag. Yes, I was fine. ‘Just try to relax. Sit back. Enjoy the view. Just breathe, ok. You’ve got this’. I hoped that nobody around me could sense the pep talk I was giving myself, so I looked away, just in case.

For a while I was away from here. Perhaps it was just what I needed. The enforced rest that this journey seemed to bring. Only, it was more like an interrupted sleep. I was lost in the blur of trees and train tracks, of riverbeds and fields and animals grazing. Of city and country intermittently giving way to one another.

I tried to close my eyes for a while. Tried to sleep, or at least to rest. But I was a note in the middle of a symphony of crackling newspapers, wind whistling through the windows, conversations in unknown tongues, the sounds of coughing and the shuffling of feet, as well as metal upon metal and the rhythm of the tracks.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t rest for thinking about, imagining all the possibilities of this encounter, and it made me wonder were the people around me travelling to someone, or were they simply traveling to a new place, or perhaps an old and familiar one? Were they solitary in their pursuits, or like me, was this day, today possibly one that they had hoped for, prayed for, one in which their paths might converge or reconnect with someone else on their journey?

And as we hesitantly snatched furtive glances, passengers curious about each others journeys, I wondered were our own stories converging in ways we didn’t yet realise? I knew we weren’t here by accident. And perhaps someday, we would have the blessing of hindsight that foresight could never afford us with to see the significance of today in each others stories.

Maybe someday that would be of more importance to me. But today there was only one person I cared to meet. I checked my papers again, my bag, my ticket. It was almost my stop. I held my breath knowing that I would never feel ready, but I had to take this step. If not today then maybe it would be never. ‘Today’ I told myself. ‘Be Brave. Today’. (c).

 

What colour is your mood? Daily Prompt – ‘Sunny’

Daily prompt – ‘sunny’

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Holly Golightly (‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’) called them ‘the mean reds’, a state progressively worse than what some jazz musicians and common parlance have termed ‘the blues’. Winston Churchill branded ‘it’, that terrible and impenetrable fog of depression, ‘The Black Dog’. And perhaps we ourselves find ourselves oscillating between colours on the spectrum of wellbeing.

Sunny’ is not a term commonly associated with depression. For me, it evokes inspiring images of wide open fields, blue skies, sunshine, meadows of brightly arrayed flowers, children running, laughing and playing, and key to it all….happiness.

Having a ‘sunny disposition’ connotes cheerfulness, wellbeing, and happiness. It is not the face of depression. Or is it?

Depression is not merely feeling sad. It is not something you can simply ‘pull yourself out of’. It is a real illness, as real as having a broken leg, only not as visible, and it can cause persistent distress over long periods of time.

Although a caricature of depression may involve dark clouds, lightning bolts, lashing rain, sad faces and general miserableness, which can in many cases describe the low moods and despair that some sufferers of depression may feel, it is not an accurate picture of the ‘face’ of depression.

What do I mean? I have a medical condition, among others, known as clinical depression. I was diagnosed only within the last two years, but I knew or suspected for decades that I suffered from something like this, particularly since and perhaps mainly triggered by being badly bullied at a formative time in my childhood, when I ceased to want to exist. At times the pain has been unbearable and I have not been able to hide it. However, as something that is a persistent condition, it somehow becomes ‘normal’, and since as adults we have to keep going and keep doing and keep living our lives and going about our business, we can sometimes ‘forget’ the seriousness of such conditions in ourselves and others. You do often seek to ‘just get on with it’, sometimes at your own risk. And getting on with it can mean putting on a smile, having a cheerful face and a ‘sunny disposition’ such that the invisible illness that you carry around with you is unseen and undetected.

The ‘face of depression’ therefore, at times, could in fact be a big smile, sunshine and blue skies, quite unlike the dismal ‘gloom and doom’ picture painted above. However, that makes it no less serious. Statistics show that in the UK, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness such as depression at some point in their lives, and in the US, depression is said to affect more than 15 million American adults. That means that more than likely, either you or someone you know, or know of, carries this ‘Black Dog’, and suffers from the ‘Mean Reds’, perhaps while showing you only a bright sunny smile on the surface.

So, knowing this, what can you do?

If you have been suffering and struggling for a long time, and trying to just put on a brave face, yet suspect you may have depression, please reach out for help. There are many mental health charities, and obviously talking to your doctor is a good first step. Depression is a very treatable illness. It isn’t easy. I know, I have it. Yet, you don’t have to suffer alone, in silence, or hiding behind your sunny mask all the time. A friend once told me, very helpfully, that I wouldn’t feel ashamed to reach out for help if I had a broken leg, nor try to ‘fix’ it myself (which is what I had been doing with my emotional and psychological issues, to no avail), so why should anyone feel ashamed to seek help for an equally legitimate medical condition, where the suffering is often profound and long lasting, perhaps caused by brain activity, trauma or genetics among many other factors.

If you are concerned about a friend, but are not sure because they always ‘seem happy’, carefully ask them how they are.

And if you can’t keep your sunny disposition and happy face in place today, don’t worry, it’s ok. And you’re not alone. It may seem bleak just now, but there is hope, and like me, I trust you will have brighter days ahead. x