Category Archives: spiritual

‘… and never regret anything that makes you smile.’

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‘The Kiss’ (full size) by Burke Heffner

 

‘… and never regret anything that makes you smile.’

I emailed that to a lovely guy who spoke of the back pain he experiences from degenerative discs and the time he’s had away from work to manage that pain. DB’s cute description of ‘anything from picking up a pair of socks to coughing will see it chuck a wobbly’ made me smile and I hoped he’d had an opportunity to smile that day given his suffering.

That was in the morning.

In the evening, I discovered an old friend’s sister who I’d grown up with, had made another attempt to take her life. This time she’d succeeded, whether she meant to or not, and her children had to make the decision to turn off their mother’s life support. Gut wrenching. It made me think of the rest of Mark Twain’s quote –

‘Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Laugh truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.’

I wondered about my old friend’s sister and whether she had a life that was full and meaningful to her. I believed she did. While I was sad that she was gone and for the family and their loss, my sadness was for the anguish my old friend’s sister must have endured through her life. Or had she? Her life was what she knew and who was I to judge it as one of enduring.

Mental ill health is growing by the minute. I see it in people around me and what I consider ‘extreme’ actions they can take. But to them, those actions aren’t extreme. It’s a way of coping with the daily torment they live with. It’s their reality. Their life. It may not be one of torment that I understand torment to be.

Some take ‘extreme’ actions that make perfect sense to them. I’ve seen what I consider  most irrational actions being taken where the person taking the action believes it to be perfectly rational – the shaving of eyebrows because it looks good and the dodging of cameras in every corner of their own home and in the streets, following their every move. The spying that occurs from being followed, to the point where holding up a 711 store at knife-point to distract those spies from following the family, to protect them, is the only answer. And the swallowing of pills, because that’s the only way.

Years have taught me to not inflict my biases onto those actions and the reasons behind them, to accept them as actions relevant to the person. I don’t have their experiences so how can I know. Truly know. It’s not easy or straight forward for anyone experiencing mental ill health to understand the effects of their thoughts and actions on others. The illness is all consuming, and a reality onto its own.

Someone said to me yesterday that if the friend’s sister could see the hurt she’s caused, she wouldn’t have taken her life. While that may be a ‘Christian’ view, it’s not one I hold.

There is almost always commentary about the selfish act that suicide is. But what of the person experiencing the pain to the point of having no alternative but to take that action? I’m not sure they could see past their torment to understand the impact of their action. To me, there’s a selfishness in those that hold such beliefs that those experiencing such torment should act in ways that are appropriate, as appropriate in their eyes. I’m trying to be kind here!

Every day is a reminder to live life in a way that matters to me – Mark Twain ensures that, with his quote sitting on my desk for me to read each morning. He’s done that all year.

‘Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Laugh truly. Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.’

While I work hard and may not take on each of those elements every second of every day of my life, I do aspire to them and make a solid attempt at achieving them. I can’t have everything all of the time and can’t always fit everything into a day that I might want. Life’s too short too for regrets and each mistake is a learning from a new fork taken in my road.

I found myself commenting to one of my boys last night on something similar: don’t do things because you feel you should. Do them because you want to. Go out with that friend because you will enjoy it and not because you feel it would make them happy. There’s a level of deceit in that to them and you. It’s a balance of self-respect versus being selfless. Be happy to do that something for someone else.

Standing beside DB the day after we emailed, wearing what my mother calls my grandmother’s bright pink floral, flowing dress, his grimace was all pain. He commented that his back probably threw its current wobbly because he’d been busy balancing work and finishing off his study for the year. I replied to his asking of how I was with being good and sometimes not knowing what day it was. What I wanted to say was sometimes I leave the house and am driving to work or University and I look down at my legs to make sure I’m not still wearing my pyjamas as I rush around trying to do so much in the morning that I don’t remember changing! (But I didn’t want to embarrass myself saying that in public so I’ll say it here instead!) He acknowledged the need for slowing down and taking it easy. Perhaps I should have sent him the whole quote.

I’ve been called many things over the years – queen of clash, being to gung-ho or aloof, asking too many questions or never doing things ‘normal’. It’s probably all true but I’m pleased that I have a true appreciation and understanding that life is short.

 

Time is lost in all ideals of time, where the cocoon has toughened as tungsten steel.

Diamond tips tap to tunes of break free, seeking to escape to a place of new. They sometimes grow as clashing bangs that smash through a weakened fissure into sun shining onto fields of sunflowers waking in the heat of summer. The scent of new life intoxicates to an exhilarating trepidation.

Sometimes those taps are barely auditable whispering feathers and no amount of push can break free. Eventually, the trap secures. The trap becomes all that’s known: the norm.

 

 

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Emerging

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Can you hear the faint fraying of the old, of the ground trembling to the rumbling below and the sun’s warmth permeating the musty as the magnetic pull of growth?

The little ones are still and are now listening and waiting as bulging, succulent buds longing to burst into a forever of new. Having learnt some patience and to move with the nudges and spasmodic auto responses, their breath is shallow and sometimes paused in anticipation of their time.

The faraway call of the dove, the prismed reflection of iridescent yellow and red and the cleanest of green speckle as freckles through soil now pliable and loose. The colours shimmy as a rainbow in the sunshine where magpies and their babies warble to the doves’ calls.

Tingles in toes, fingering quivers, breaths of thousands … and then the sigh that spreads as a virus across the land at the birth of the first emergence …

In a breeze of mingling mix, poppies of ruby red nudge hills of waving lush. The light is new. Crisp, yet stark, as though a new filter has been created and added to illuminate pixels never seen before.

But there’s more that I can’t yet see, more my heart knows and craves. More pheromones of free and lingering in a shouldering strength waiting on the other side of those hills. The barest of touch is there and yet it’s not quite a touch. Perhaps it’s more soul fibres connecting in touch.

The key is to be aware of it brewing in this dawn of light, to feel the enigmatic anticipation of tantalising desire running through one’s roots, a desire bordering addiction. Be ready for it.

The aesthetic grows, the patter of rain on a tin roof … more of the stanza to come.

 

Ode to an angel

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My ‘Ode to an angel’ rounds off a new book called, ‘These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology’. The book is a collection of stories written after the death of a parent. The focus isn’t on grief or sadness, but rather the simpler things. It’s about the intricate and universal workings of family – regrets, learning, problem solving, daily life, and most definitely, love.

My story, ‘The Teacher’ is one of more than 20 short stories that form the collection. You can find the book at https://www.createspace.com/6021628

 

Ode to an angel ~

Two baubles of hazel rimmed in brown, glimmer and follow my walk across the expanse.

They know.

They care.

They watch high and low, near and far, protecting as a long-time guardian.

Their ripples of warmth flow on wings of abundant love that nurture its young.

Tears well at the framed image of you above our table.

We know you’re here today, where we have gathered to celebrate.

The woman dressed in red knows too, within her own pale eyes of grey, sad and lonely and that pine for you.

They say more than anyone dares see.

You breathe into our home of joy, among the fluttering fuchsias and vacillating vines that once you tended, within the wine you brewed.

We know you’re here, where you watch over as a sentinel on lookout duty. Our keeper and custodian of this family.

We see you in the face of those sitting today, in their smiles and laughter and eyes too, in their weariness after this being together, grand day, dressed in an apron of yesterday.

You’re always with us, in the hues of our dreams and thoughts, in your knick-knacks within our homes and seedlings of our garden, in our every way.

We know an angel is here today.

The vying

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A blaze of cyclonic fire, a blow torch of extreme has rampaged the Earth and scorched it bare. Nothing remains. No fragment of life exists on the blackened face scattered in trillions of smattering flecks of grey.

No birds of waking tunes or trains of clicks and clacks ferrying their freight into town. No roosters calling or dogs singing with clucking chooks as they lay their eggs.

In their place is the darkness that suffocates as a silent tightening, tourniquet.

And yet if you sit in utmost concentration in the stillness of this aftermath, the cleansing of the burn is obvious. Concentrate, even when fidgeting itches can disturb, and tune in to the unmistakeable pitch of the fresh and new and the faint whispers of a dawn about to break.

Glints of pink stained orange wrestle billowing, liquid cloud in the distance. That glimmer of sun’s warmth stirs our seeds, willing them to unearth.

Root tips begin to tingle … the emergence IS coming. Those seeds know of the birthing about to occur, of the potential waiting to applaud them.

They nudge and jostle to edge upwards, stealing past fractures in rocks opening and widening under the pressure of their shoving. The charm of those minuscule glimpses of light flickering through the friable soil is irresistible, their appetite for it is insatiable.

They tussle for prime position, vying to reach higher to break through the surface.

The darkness warms around them, the nurture of the sun’s warmth has hit. Ravenous eagerness ricochets and disrupts the birthing balance. Restlessness underground … a rumbling core.

 

Breathe, be patient little ones, the dance of birth into a bosom of fertile and Mother Earth nourishment will soon begin. The time is near for a creation yet unknown.

 

 

Braless and sipping champagne

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Whip off that bra … ahhh, free and fabulous! Kick off the heels and shed the stockings …

Slip into the softest, stretch-with-your-every-move pyjamas for complete comfort after a long day. Pop the cork of the best, cooled champagne and pour it into the glamour of a 1950’s coupe that fills the stem before erupting in bubbles into the bowl. And sip. They say the champagne coupe was model-led on the breast of Helen of Troy or Marie Antoinette, some even say Madame de Pompadour.

It could be a scene from Absolutely Fabulous where Edina and Patsy drink champagne at the kitchen bench. For a moment, you can appreciate the end of the day or the week that’s been, or even a completed job, before the next hours of dinner and washing, the next day of work and whatever else life throws at you.

Escaping any shackles imbues a sense of energy and freedom, a true liberation. Joan of Arc as the fearless warrior and the 1960s feminist movement where going braless was a revolutionary act, of being comfortable above meeting social expectations, instils a similar release.

Try it. Toss the bag onto the chair and unknot the tie, replace the shoes and socks for thongs or flip flops or no shoes at all. Free those toes onto the warmth of wooden floors or into the grass outside as you inspect the garden, the tomatoes turning green-yellow, the chillies of flaming red. Grab the shovel and hoe into the dirt, the sun warming your back and the Daphne against the paling fence that exudes its sweetness.

Slide off the tweed trousers and draw up the board shorts or boxers after a 40-degree day, free style if that’s your thing.

Pull on those boots to snowboard down a thick powdery layer of virgin snow, to sprays of cool over bare cheeks and you as the only movement among the white. Appreciate the isolation and serenity.

Lounge to a movie or birds chortling their business with a book in hand, laughter in another room. Go for a run or swim, slump into the bean bag or arm chair with The Supremes, Sting or Strauss or any music that transports you to a time of fancy-free and invincible, with your kind of champagne by your side.

And breathe.

Free of all constraints, freedom to be where you are and feel what you feel, in the conviction of you are where you are meant to be, even without clarity of what that is, a sovereignty to a knowing when the lift door opens to the next floor.

They’re moments of pure immersion, when sipping the effervescence that lights the head in a contrast of weightlessness, energy and vitality to fuel a revolution within, bubbles up the stem.

Madame de Pompadour once said, “Champagne is the only drink that leaves a woman still beautiful after drinking it.”

‘Do you want something, Eddy, to go with your champagne?’

‘No, darling, nothing for me but your friendship, Patsy. And to have this damn bra off.’

Pick-up sticks

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Toss those sticks way up in the air and stand back. Watch them propel and collide, splinter and fuse with neighbouring and crossing sticks, often with those tossed by others. They crack to glimmers of aquamarine tinged in teal and highlights of ochres in oranges, twisting and twirling into unknowns and gleaming silver beams of life into the Universe.

The higher they rise, the slower they climb, until their speed is curtailed and they linger within a hover. We watch in bated breath within our own pause.

Then their descent begins and time kick starts. Speed gathers in quick momentum in flashes of blurred bronze and blizzard blue and our sticks crash in scattered confusion onto any slippery, stable or stodgy surface. Wherever they land serves a purpose and our job is to pick them up to discover their intent.

That seems to be life for many at the moment. Whether because of the politics of the world, the passing of someone prominent in one’s life or from those birthdays that end in zeroes, those big, life changing ones. The fact is, life is about change. Life is filled with contrasts of busyness and stagnation, always changing depending on where our sticks land and the manner in which we pick them up or slide them out.

Life just is. The birds and bees are on constant rotation. Children grow and blossom into their own person. We grow. Life flows between enriched satiation and boring bland, of the sapless in an endless burnt umber or in the tranquil azure of turquoise.

Living without expectation is key. What’s underneath the purple stick as it slides out from the red could lead to enchanting discoveries of personal, professional and otherwise, of the most powerful, life affecting surprises. It’s vital to enact plans that are fuelled by passions but just as important to not hold preconceived ideas or expectations. Holding those can hide the most amazing finds and block growth, unmet expectations can lead to disappointment and emotional torment.

Picking up our sticks once they’ve landed is a matter of rolling up the sleeves and getting on with it, to uncover paths from beneath the intrigue of maroon or mined from the riches of gold. Some paths may be straightforward and clear, others may be covered in debris and full of winding roads and hills to climb.

My sticks were tossed some months ago and are slowing in upward propulsion in many more formations and shades than usual, glimmering in pinks and greens and with an abundance of red too. New sticks already shimmy in new trajectories.

Their decent is inevitable, and soon. And when they do come tumbling down, they’ll continue to spin and intermingle, some may disintegrate and even explode before they land.

I’ll be here, waiting and ready for any landing. The subliminal excitement in the not knowing and in the knowing that changes are afoot smoulders in sepia tones of magenta beneath the innocence of baby blue – such contrasts to look forward to!

A storming ride

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Speckling ideas, partial and fragmented, brewing in twinkle yet without spark. They’re more a hazy glint of thoughts that fade in and out faraway, sometimes flashing as a glimmer of something and then disappearing with the flutter of an eye lid.

Time ticks. There’s nothing more.

Until that hazy glint grows and feeds the head with a heavy might. It whips at limbs that become tired and limp.

Tingling tangles of thinking, eyes darting in flurry as people look and stare. And then comes the squeeze within a vice of lead and excruciating dread and a body rippling and tensing in terse.

Clashing confusion and rumbling ruin, ranting and raving. He is, she was. You’re it, you’re not …

Words overflow in an electrical storm of despair and are hammered by floods of entwining and interconnected molesting vines. They meld as a mash of mess spiked in diamonds tainted in venomous credibility. They shred through everything but understanding.

No sense of semblance, just mad irrationality shared with rationality, spewing fire and ice in bursts of hate and desperation, gasps in bated breath … roaring and ripping into everything and everyone in its cyclonic wake … It’s too much. End it now!

And with that comes a release, an excretion of toxic waste that gnaws at the soul of essence.

The crescendo tumbles, spiralling down, down to flat as grey, black of nothing.

The electric storm of fire and ice has dissipated. Within an isolated place of refuge yet with no railing or safety barrier, the free-fall-to-nowhere ride funnels through an opening into the core of the earth.

Quiet after the erupting, storming head. Ride complete. For now.

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