Thursday 26 January 2012

Holding Patterns

I saw an interesting link to a blog this week that is really worth reading. It's called The Silence of the Dying and it's an honest look at how the modern world hides from the topic of death and dying. It's true, people really do not like talking about death. It's as if they fear it might be contagious just through talking.

Last month I tried to find ecards for two friends who were grieving and it was eye-opening. there's pretty much nothing useful out there. You can find cute ecards, singing ecards, silly ecards and even rude ecards, but the only ecards I found for consoling someone on a death were for pets. I know how deep the bond with a furry family member can be, but what does it say about society when you can find ecards to grieve the loss of an animal, but none to help anyone grieving the loss of a human?

All the ecards I found were geared to be "uplifting" in one way or another. They were full of words to cheer you up rather than allowing you to grieve, because that's what everyone does. When faced with someone in tears and pain... we all try to cheer them up. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make things better, but sometimes the only way for someone to feel better is to first let those intense emotions free. You can't "cheer up" by shoving all the bad things into a box and ignoring them. It doesn't work; the box will fill up and explode one day. It happens every time.

We need to find ways to open the boxes. We need to learn that grieving is natural, anger is therapeutic, and fear can be a way of learning to fly.

This is all the more vital when it comes to dealing with those who suffer chronic or terminal illness. Then you're looking at a whole room full of people with boxes: the person who is ill and all their loved ones, and they all need safe places to let go. They need something so simple that you'd think we'd all get it right, but we don't. WE dash in with "cheer you ups" or we run in panic because we don't know what to say and we fear making things worse. So we either do too much or we do nothing at all.

What is the simple thing we over look? It's here in this story...
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'

That's all it takes - just being there... sitting quietly, really listening.

So simple, isn't it?

And you can 'listen' by email as well as in person or by phone. I know because I've experienced both. On the night I miscarried I was in a chat room with friends when the contractions started. I was waiting for the doctor to phone me back and I panicked a bit. I told what was happening and four women scattered across the world sat with me and were just "there" until the doctor called back. They helped more than I can ever explain in words, just as my husband helped me grieve when it was all over.

That was the strangest night... I was in a ridiculous amount of pain because I'd also managed to put my back out! I was just PAIN inside and out. I'd had two large whisky shots on top of pain killers (it seemed a good idea at the time) and they had made me drunk for the first time in my life. I'd never been drunk before. I was drunk and everything made me giggle. Everything was so funny until somewhere hysterical giggling became crying and I lay down on the bedroom floor and HOWLED. I went beyond words like "crying", not even "sobbing" fits ... I HOWLED and my husband held me until I was done. He held me safe.

Planes go into a 'holding pattern' - they fly in a safe wait-and-do-nothing circle until it is time to land. Maybe we need to start teaching holding patterns for people. We need to learn how to go into a 'holding space' - to wait-and-do-nothing so that there is a safe empty space for those who need it to grieve, grumble, rant or weep. It's only when you empty out those boxes full of heavy emotions that you can fly free.

Monday 23 January 2012


I got these instructions by email. LOL


1. Open a new file in your PC ......

2. Name it 'Housework'

3. Send it to the RECYCLE BIN.

4. Empty the RECYCLE BIN.

5. Your PC will ask you,
Are you sure you want to delete Housework permanently?'

6. Calmly answer, 'Yes'
and press mouse button firmly ....

7. Feel better?

I do!

Thursday 19 January 2012

Some Sunshine

Something bright and sunny for today... one of my favourite Cat Steven songs. :-)

Monday 16 January 2012

Just Go

"My father once said, 'If the whole world wants to go left and you feel like going right, go right. You don't have to follow. You don't have to make a big deal about which way you're going. Just go. It's very easy'."

Friday 13 January 2012

Strange Clouds

Yesterday morning I looked out the window and saw the strangest clouds I've ever seen. I called hubby and while he was looking I went and got my camera. (click on them to enlarge)

I took this one...

Then hubby, who is way taller, took this one leaning out the window...

He also took a close up of the clouds...

And then I got even closer photos of each cloud. This is the one on the left...

And this is the smaller one on the right...

How strange and pretty!

Forgotten Magic

I was talking to a friend about dictionaries this morning. I love dictionaries. :-) Probably because, as a child, my first dictionary was a magical one. It was HUGE, I could barely pick it up. Every page was crammed full of strange unknown words and it had these intricate little black and white illustrations dotted through it, like tiny surprises. Most of the words were way beyond my understanding, which made them all the more mysterious. I always expected there were words in there that could create magic... and I was right - words can create magic!

My next favourite book was a child's encyclopedia that was my dad's when he was small. It was old and worn, but still exciting. Looking back as an adult I can see that it was surprisingly objective and comprehensive for a book aimed at children. This was the book that gave me the meaning to 'Pantheist' when my religious teacher scolded me for being one. This was the book that taught me about Hitler, Herne the hunter, clothing through the ages and the difference between lizards and salamanders. The magic and power of words...

Long ago there was a time when that power of words was feared. In the Middle Ages only a very select few could read and write. As a result "grammars" (books of Latin grammar) were seen as magical and even frightening. As a result the word grammar eventually split and became distorted into a new word - grimoire - the name for a book of spells and supernatural knowledge.

The magic of knowing and being able to describe... anything! Do I believe in magic words? No, but I do know that words hold magic. Ask anyone who has ever been changed by words in a book, said a prayer, laughed at a joke, or had someone tell them they loved them. Words can be incredibly powerful when used at the right time, in the right combination.

Words and grammar are the best magic in the world. ;-)

Sunday 8 January 2012


I was watching TV news, all the troubles in the world. The more I watched the more it seems to me that the world needs to refocus on a single word...

For me, respect is how I place value. If I do not respect a person I cannot accept them as a leader or authority figure; if I feel no respect for an ideology, political or other, I cannot bring myself to trust or follow it.

One of the first times I can remember feeling that way was when I was eight - a teacher treated our class badly, she showed us no respect. It was so unfair! Now, looking back, I can see that was when I stopped respecting her as a teacher. I still did what she told me to do, but only because I didn't want to get into trouble. She was no longer someone I looked up to.

Now, on TV, I see world leaders, governments and businesses, making the same basic mistake - they don't show respect to anyone, but they expect everyone to do what they say.

...and then they're shocked to discover that people feel no desire to follow them or listen to them! Perhaps they have come to rely on fear too much? At school we pretended to obey another teacher we feared, but when she couldn't see us... we broke all her rules. As long as people are afraid they will pretend to obey, but without respect they will always be ready to break the rules whenever they can.

I thought I'd go look up exactly what the word "respect"means. The dictionary says:
1. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person or ability.
2. deference to a right or someone considered to have certain rights: respect for the elderly.
3. the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
4. a formal expression or gesture of greeting, esteem, or friendship: "Give my respects to your parents."

'Esteem', 'honour', 'a sense of worth' often do governments or businesses treat people this way? No wonder people are reacting in ways that show their utter lack of respect for those that think they hold positions of power and authority!

They forget that no-one holds power without the permission of others. We make others powerful by allowing them to be so. We respect that they have authority... we give them authority. Oh yes, people can treat others as powerful through fear, but fear holds no respect. People feeling fear-without-respect will break the rules in secret, as we did in school with that teacher, but when fear-without-respect becomes unbearable... all hell breaks loose! It happens every time.

Self-respect is just as important. People without self-respect usually find it hard to respect others. It's like imbalance within causes imbalance without. The child who hates himself/herself finds it easier to hate others. The race, religion or culture that does not respect itself cannot respect another.

Pity our world leaders couldn't sit down and take a lesson from the children in this video. We might just have a better world if they did!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Happy Anniversaries

This post is actually for TWO anniversaries, because I promised Amel a story and because this year is a very special 10th anniversary. So.. here's a photo of me ten years ago. Yep, that's me, sitting in front of a true dinosaur of a computer monitor. ;-)

That computer is long gone, but I still have the purple and pink pen by my hand and the table that computer stands on. What was I doing when that photo was taken? I was chatting to a man on the other side of the world. :-D

I went out and got an internet connection in July 2001, because my new job (astrology advice piece in a weekly newspaper) called for me to have an email address. At first, for months, I was totally clueless on the internet. The only place I knew was Google, but I had no idea how to actually get anywhere using it.

After months of muddling along I finally managed to find my very first on line forum. Interesting thing that I know my blog friend, Shastri, will enjoy - I wandered onto my first forum via a poem about reincarnation. It was so nice, but no-one had replied to the poet so... I joined the site to post a reply on how much I liked it and ended up staying. I spent every evening on line talking, discussing and joking with all sorts of people all over the world. It was magical. I'd spent the last 20 years living in a seaside village where pretty much nothing happened year round. Now I could discuss current events and mutual interests with people from all over the world.

Now the funny thing is I made lots of friends there, friends I still have and some I've met in real life, but there was one member there I never spoke to - a man named Alexander. I saw him there, talking about pyramids, but the conversation was way beyond my knowledge of ancient history. I do remember thinking "that Alexander seems to be a history boffin," before I moved on. LOL

I was invited to join another site that was all about ancient history. I made friends there too, but never knew that this Alexander was friends with people there as well. So I hung about on two places where "Alexander" was and never met him. I was invited to join a third forum. It was a private one, not open to public viewing and meant to be about philosophy and science. I have zero knowledge on either, but was so flattered that the folk running the place had invited me that I said yes. (LOL)

It was a bit boring there so I didn't go there much. I only vaguely noticed when a new member joined, because he was amused at a joke I was sharing in. It was about ancient Egyptian art, of all things! It was the same Alexander I'd missed meeting on both other forums, welcomed on this third place by his nickname of "Sandy." We never actually spoke to each other and I stopped going to forums as it was near Christmas and I was too busy. Then, after all the holiday madness was over, I found myself sitting on New Year's Eve feeling restless and kind of yearning for... ? something I couldn't put into words.

New Year's Eve is a time when everything seems more intense - thoughts about the past, people you've lost along the way, where are you going in the new year, etc. I went on line and decided to write about my feelings and personal life experiences. I picked that third forum for no other reason than it was private, members only. At least there I'd only face being read by a handful of people. So I wrote out this 'confession' of sorts and posted it just before midnight. I shut down my computer, wished my family and friends happy new year and went to bed.

The next day I woke up thinking, "OMG, what have I done??!"

Writing all that personal stuff! I dashed online, hoping I could delete my crazy impulse post before anyone read it. I was so relieved to see no-one had answered it and I was going to delete it, when I noticed there was another new message no-one had replied to, a post by the new guy... "Sandy."

And there I made a decision that probably changed my life. Instead of deleting my message... I first went and read this other new year post... and I read a man on the other side of the world who had decided to fling caution out the window and expose his soul online. He'd posted his story just a few moments after mine, minutes after midnight in the new year. I read his post... and found a story there that matched mine. He'd ended by apologising for using the forum for something so personal as a life story "confession" and joked that no-one would answer.

I answered.

I told him that it might sound crazy, but his life stories were like mine. I told him to go read my post and I ended with these words (thankfully I saved them):

"as for the similarities between our stories. I have a friend who firmly believes THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES! We've argued this in the past,but now I bow in submission. When I read your story my first thought was,"I know you." So, looking forward to getting to know you again, Sandy. There are 364 days left in this year. Let's see where they take us."

364 days....

and 368 days later I married him. ;-)

Happy 10th Anniversary of finding my best friend,
and 9th anniversary of making him my husband.