Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Space Hoppers and Guinea Pigs - Wild!

If you've been reading this blog you know that from time to time I get encouraged to have fun by means of various piggies. These are photographed on cards and sent by my niece.

This time the card shows two guinea pigs cavorting around on space hoppers, (I kid you not), who are telling me that,


Being of a forgiving nature I will ignore the suggestion of this bon mot that I am really over the hill, because yet again Kate has set me thinking.
She knows me well enough to know that my "fun" is of the old fashioned sort.
Even if I can sing, dance, and make a fool of myself without the aid of drink or drugs I am most probably tame by the standards of today, so, fearful that I may have missed out on something, I looked up just what fun is actually meant to be.

(You can tell me if you feel I'm over-thinking this).

Unsurprisingly "fun" covers those activities that are enjoyable or amusing.
You could say I'm o.k. on that score as there is much that I find not only enjoyable, and amusing, but positively joyous. Still, as a line from a recent television play said," "I was born before pleasure became compulsory".

What I'm getting at I suppose is the question, do I need to tap into some repressed side of myself that should be given an airing before it's too late.
(Yes. I am definitely over-thinking this).

I have been giving the question some thought these last two days as I have been removing the little grey overcoats of dust that have accumulated on every surface whilst I've been poorly.

(Hubby is very good at keeping food on the table and applying a certain amount of TLC but dusting and hoovering come a long way down his priority list).


Perhaps my need to bring my surroundings back to the required standards of house keeping which have been with me from my youth testifies to my inherent dullness; i.e. lack of the desired "fun" quotient.

The result of my thinking so deeply about this is that I was in danger of coming up empty. Just couldn't think of anything attainable that I might still give a whirl to enhance, or even find, my "wild" side .

Hating heights as I do , I can still confess I'd quite like,- emphasise quite like-, to do a parachute drop, or go paragliding, but surely these are on everybody's fantasy wish list. Probably saying that I'd quite like to do these things isn't the quite the right word. Maybe saying I'd be scared s----less and adrenaline rushed, would be a better way of describing it.

Dull again!

Water-wise I find swimming a length in a fairly small pool is a stretch but yes, come to think of it I'd like the chance to go white water rafting. But wait, there's something I know is probably beyond my physical capacity, but seems to me to be a wonderfully exciting fun thing, - wild river swimming!
Saw it on the television and it looks tremendous.

It involves getting into a wet suit, then into a river and letting yourself go with the pull of the current...
Wow! That's my idea of "wild".
(Kate! stop laughing I can hear you from here).

Admittedly you need expert knowledge of currents, water conditions, wild life, permissions from the land owners, ( which in this country means they own the river too and you can't go in their patch of water without their say so), and the ability to survive by your swimming skills.
O.k. It was just a thought. But can you imagine what it feels like...

Oh well, I'll just have to go back to laughing myself silly trying on the fashion wear at Primark I suppose, but for just a moment there I could hear the wild water in my ears, and feel the cold grasp of the river through my wet suit. But no, I know when I'm beaten.

I give up again! I'm too tame by half.

God Bless

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Groove On

Here I am after three months, with a diagnosis under my belt, so I can begin to look forward to the grooves of my life opening out into wider circles again. Of course knowing what's wrong doesn't take away the fact of having to get "better", so there's a bit more r and r to go yet but things look good.

Glad to say that the pain and general feeling of illness is apparently down to a very common or garden diverticular disease, with some infection. I will have to learn to be circumspect about what I eat and may emerge a slimmer and more healthy self so that's good.

During all this the feeling of the family closing in for a "cwtch", (Welsh for a really good hug), that goes beyond the physical thing has been tremendous.
Knowing myself prayed for by the church family.
Having a laugh with friends when I needed it.
The unexpectedly warm and caring consultant surgeon, and radiographers.
So many truly lovely people.
As always so much to be grateful for.

I know I'm re-iterating what I say so often, and what I was saying in my last Blog too, but I've just come across the most beautifully written blog that has a "Gratitude Community" amongst it's pages and I recommend you take a look at /www.aholyexperience.com/ and check it out for yourself.
It could open up a whole new way of life for you.

The new "positive psychologies" are based on the simple old belief that counting your blessings actually does make for good mental health, and in a world which seems set on skewing every bit of news towards the negative, we probably need to practice it now more than ever.

One of the many lovely gratitude-making moments for me recently was to watch my great grand son painting in the studio.

Yes, I know that he's special to me because he's my great grand-son, but his innocent absorption seems to me to be is at the heart of what gratitude and blessing is about.

How often are we simply open to the moment: lost in it,
so that
we find a deeper place
within ourselves?

"Unless you become as a little child"... Matt.18:3

God Bless

Monday, 19 July 2010

Coping with the Narrow Confines of Life

The photo is to show you post-vinyl music fans what I mean when I say that I feel as if, yet again, the needle has settled into a tight inside groove in the record of my life. At present life has shrunk to a fairly small circle, where comings and goings are circumscribed by health issues, but with a lot of lovely ordinary things holding it all together.

Like many another my life has followed a pattern of moving back from time to time into the "narrow" times of illness, and can I say for the record that this is something I don't think anybody ever gets used to. I say this because even my mother who had been there through a lot of thick and thin with me, once stunned me by commenting when I'd rung her to say that I was going into hospital , " Well, you're used to it."

No I never am, never will be, 'cos it's not something I will ever settle for, and a large part of me always thinks somehow this is all a great big mistake, and any minute reality will kick in and it'll all be o.k.

All that said I don't want you to think that my life has been all illness. I've had a life far more wide and varied than you would expect if you saw my medical history written down. I still chuckle when I think of the time I took my daughter to see a consultant and the referring doctor had obviously put my medical history in the introductory letter because when he had read it this chap leaned over his desk and asked me sympathetically "Where is the mother now?"
The look on his face when I said "Well I'm the mother", was really satisfying.

So. yes, there have been wide lovely grooves to my life as well as tight ones.

Unexpected journeys of discovery, miracles of healing, (literally), and amazing richness, if not by the world's standards then by mine.

I can't say at times I haven't resented the comparative narrowness of my life, or envied others their wider horizons. For the longest time my biggest regret was that I didn't fulfill my academic ambitions or even finish school properly, but I've packed in as much as I could in later years, and will never lose the thirst to learn while the little grey cells keep firing, so that's o.k.

The gift, and the trial, of the times in life where one is pushed back into narrow confines is the forced leisure to reflect. In all honesty I have to confess that for me there have been times of what seemed like utter despair and loneliness, yet looking back I see that there always was just enough light in what seemed like deepest darkness.

For me as a Christian, that light has been the presence of a God who has touched every area of suffering, and is in this with me, but it hasn't always felt like that by any means. It's not uncommon to find that things are not what we feel they are though is it?

So I'd say the tight circles in life can become deep wells where we can learn a lot about ourselves; about the immense inner reserves of strength that are inherent in being human, and about the astounding fact that nothing viewed up close, is at all ordinary.

The tighter the circle the more beautiful and meaningful do the very small things in life become. Only last week I read about a young man who, when in good health, had extracted the promise from his father that should he ever be dependent on life support, his was to be allowed to die.

Somehow what he had feared came about, and he was on full life support, completely paralyzed and about to have his wishes fulfilled and his life support cut off, when he responded to being asked should he be allowed to live, with an infinitely small movement of his eyes. This perfectly ordinary automatic reflex which in the wider context of normal life goes unremarked became his means to signal, not once but repeatedly, that he did indeed want to live. In the face of what he most dreaded he had found there was still something worthwhile in inhabiting his severely restricted body.

You may be flying in a really wide and beautiful groove just now, or you may be chafing in the narrow confines of your mind or body, but whichever it is do take the time to home in on something, maybe something small and mundane, and open yourself to see it in a new way.

It is rare indeed that there is no small scrap of comfort or of beauty to lift our spirit. Perhaps there is something near at hand that you've been missing.

Be Blessed

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Secret Garden

This is a picture of the gateway to the walled garden in the park, taken from inside to share the glorious canopy of wisteria with you. Sorry the sweet fragrance of the moment is lost to you.

I guess everybody loves a walled garden. Not just for the micro climate it creates, nor solely for the wonderful opportunities for the gardener this presents, but for the delicious sense of a secret, sheltered, place. A sanctuary of sorts.

There was a walled garden on my uncle's farm. It had none of the red bricked splendour that curtains the gardens of the wealthy estates. Rather it was enclosed by a somewhat tumble down dry stone wall, (what else would you expect on a Welsh hill farm), perhaps reaching to the height of an average man's shoulder. Trees had planted themselves along the top so long ago, and grew so thickly, that in summer the height of the screen around us was increased by some ten or twelve feet.

In the centre of the garden was an old cherry tree which made a great castle, or tall ship, when climbed into, as well as a delicious source of sweet, chin-dribbling juiciness at the right time of year. It's leafy layered branches provided an extra veil of secrecy in as much as it hid us from all except the sharpest eyes if we could only keep quiet long enough.

In my memory there was also rich golden globes of soft-haired gooseberries too, hanging like miniature chinese lanterns on the undersides of the low bushes. I remember lying underneath them while we idled the time away absently feeding ourselves as we did so. Whether this treasure was in the walled garden, or the other larger, mainly neglected kitchen garden I'm not sure, but I do know that the rich, pulpily soft, Victoria plums belonged in that larger place.

I do remember that the grass grew long and full of seedheads around us in both places. There was always too much work and too few hands to be sure, and the television-perfect gardens, and the idea of the designers "outside rooms" of the future would have been met with total incomprehension. But oh the joy of rolling in that grass, with it's eyeball contact with the insects, and the deep scent of summer earth. To be sure the itch of the seed heads in ones clothes, and the bites of some of the insects was not so welcome, but a small enough price to pay for getting so close to the common clay from which we all spring.

And all the while there was the sense of being safely held in these secret places, for even as children, (and how much more we realise this now), there is the need for a safe place where adults cannot come, and our dreams can remain unbroken.

Perhaps you have a memory of some safe place that sustains you even now. Would that everybody had.

God Bless