FMF: Decide

Joining in with Five Minute friday. This week’s word: Decide

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Decide.

When it comes down to it, that’s all it takes, really: to decide you’re going to do something and then follow through. 

Your mind is your most powerful ally.

Train your mind – harness and direct your thoughts – and your decisions become your reality.

Decide then commit. 

It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Don’t let your mind become your worst enemy.

Decide to free yourself to believe and decide, every day, to muster the discipline it takes to follow through.

You’ll thank yourself in the end.

No-one wants to get to the end regretting not having made the extra little bit of effort/not doing things because they feared being shown up/not having pushed past shyness/[insert whatever excuse you’re using to stop yourself]

Decide to use all of you, to flourish, to spend every bit of all your glorious talents.

Decide then commit.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Excellence lies in the strength of your belief and the steadfastness, and ongoing repetition, of your commitment.

END

Thanks to everyone who emailed me (or contacted me) about the Contentment series. Am flattered and honoured. My little boy’s been ill – and off school – this week, sending everything a bit pear-shaped, but I’ll be emailing details out over the weekend….thank you!!! [It’s going to be a good one, I know it]

Helen xx

P.S. The little boy riding the tortoise, encouraging it with what looks like a sausage, makes me laugh every time I see it!

FMF: alive

After a very busy week (during which I didn’t even have time to reply to the comments on my last post – sorry sorry sorry to you all……I have now done so….thank you all for your kindness), I’m joining in with Five Minute Friday.

This week’s word: Alive

(My first thoughts went, immediately, to Andrew, such a valuable and valued member of the FMF community…)

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An evocative word this week – even more so than usual – coming, as it does, in the aftermath of yet more senseless deaths (I know all of our hearts go out to those affected by the events in Turkey and Brussels) and as we pass through Easter, a time of deep reflection on what being alive signifies, on what our responsibilities are in this life.

It’s become so watered down, it’s almost a bumper sticker, a sort of plaster for the self-help generation, but it’s a fact…

…life is precious.

We only get so many days to be alive. We never know when it’s our time. When our time will come to exit life.

Yet we often live our lives on mute, on standstill……moving through our days as if they’re endless, as if we get to press repeat on our journey here on Earth. Continuing with habits that don’t bring us joy, that don’t lead to us realising our best selves. Not doing all we can to make our time on Earth mean all it could.

But our days? They’re not endless and we don’t. There’s no repeat button.

Hopefully we’ll be gifted a long life.

But maybe we won’t.

I reflect on this often and remember Mary Oliver, who taunted, so powerfully, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

I smile when I think of this because I remember my old life, which used to be wild – full of adventure, full of travel and laughter and real, tangible, gems every single day. A life that brought me so much joy, made me feel so alive. Like I was grabbing life itself and shaking it and squeezing the juice out of all of it.

Those memories make me smile whilst shedding tears of nostalgia.

I feel – have felt for a long time now – an ache, a deep soul-level longing – for more. To not only know I’m alive but to feel like I’m truly living. To use my capabilities more often, for more.

But the baggage that weighs me down seems to get heavier each day (trauma is a many-headed beast, a veritable hydra of shocks and nasty surprises). Daily rainstorms turn the baggage to lead on my back. Concrete powder wetting and setting at my feet, slowing me down, rooting my feet to the spot whilst my body is ready, poised for action.

I look at my now….not wild, not exciting, not full of adventure…but, still, a life that makes me smile. My littles, a source of constant joy. My role of ‘Mama’ enveloping my time. Finding lifelines where I can, how I can. Slowly pulling myself up from my concrete bath and loosening weight from my baggage.

My smiles are now internal smiles, of the ‘resigned contentment’ type, that this is where I am. Knowing that this utterly boring has to be enough for now. Has to be. Or all is lost.

I lean on gratitude: it’s my miracle maker. I’m thankful every single day that I’ve woken up, that I’m alive. That I came through – am coming through – insidious abuse and that I manage to keep the hydra under control. And that she seems to be retreating, slowly but surely.

And I’m hopeful that things will change, that somehow I’ll be able to find the wild again, that I’ll hear it’s call and one day be able to run free after it. It’s a waiting game that’s teaching me patience and the wonder of grace.

It’s horrible, this stasis: is there anything worse than being alive (and healthy) and not really living?

But how how how?

[This is the question I need answering, You. Please].

END

P.S. I am hoping to get I Will Bloom up and running properly again and am going to be running a series on contentment – like the How to Fall in Love With Your World series – and would love to have some volunteers for guest posts…..hopefully my request won’t fall flat on it’s face and that you’ll come forward…..email me for details at iwillbloomblog – at – gmail dot com.

I promise I don’t bite.

Helen xxxx

FMF: surprise

Joining in with Five Minute Friday and this week’s word: Surprise…..

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A knock at the door. The police. Two of them. Huge, both of them. Telling me I’d been accused of having kidnapped my children (a false accusation). My children’s eyes wide, wondering what on Earth their Mum had done wrong, that the police were visiting at that hour of the night. The sound of fear-filled, but calm, steps across the entrance of that beautiful floor of the High Court, the Christmas tree lights twinkling ‘Merry Christmas’ (I now know how those people sentenced to death in the States must feel as they walk their last walk and, now, even Christmas tree lights, if I’m caught off guard, cause my trauma responses to flare). All these things…things I thought I’d never have to experience. Bad surprises. Very bad.

The failure of my marriage. The turning of my husband in to a beast before my very eyes. His illness set forth, Hulk-like, pouncing on me every chance it couldn’t be controlled any longer. The violence. The bruising. The taunts and thefts. The despair. Disbelief. Self-doubt. The loneliness. The vast loneliness. A whole other round of most definitely not welcome and certainly unwanted bad surprises.

But, with the bad, always comes good. Yin yang. Karma. Entropy. Call it what you will but I’ve found that if life takes something out of one hand, it’ll pop something back in your other hand. Maybe not right away but it’ll come. There’s a certain art to be appreciated, I’ve found, in this patience game.

I found my yellow brick road. My calm. In the very eye of the storm. I found I have a talent for seeing the beauty in an ordinary, difficult, life. For finding hope where none seems to exist, where the earth seems so bare nothing would be likely to grow. I have an eye for pleasant surprises.

And finding a whole host of small pleasant surprises – in the least likely times – leads one to think that maybe there’s something to this God lark. Maybe God is the raindrop shining diamond-like on the fresh born leaf, maybe he is the hope that filled my soul and guided me through it all. Guides me through it all.

And the biggest surprise of all? I’ve let go and I’ve never felt calmer in all my life. I couldn’t fight any more, couldn’t do it. Not physically (my body told me I should give up a while ago, all it’s systems so out of whack; cortisol turns in to a poison when it’s seeing so many ‘fight or flight’ episodes so frequently). Not emotionally. Not in any way (I’m not a fighter at the best of times, my way is the Ghandi way). And to fight against such evil on one’s own: that was too big a fight. So I let go. And when I’d let go of that, I realised how little control I have over anything. And, my, what freedom there is in that letting go. What joyous, joy-filled, freedom.

I see God. Every day. I feel him. I hear him, even, when I meditate. I see the vastness of everything and my surprise at it’s beauty, that surprise I feel every single time, at the perfection and simplicity of it, it stuns me to tears. Silences me before it so that I now understand those people who kneel and believe and submit and let go. I understand the Dalai Lama’s smile that was always so puzzling – so enticing – to me as a child.

You see something so beautiful, it’s all you can do to keep standing, all you can do to not want to smile all the time. But the beauty of it is that it’ll give you wings, give you strength, hold you up when you literally can’t stand up because the weight of it all is just too much. You see such beauty, you don’t have room for the evil that tries to visit you, you don’t have room for ‘petty’ or threats or violence. You’re above it. “You’re better than this, Mama” (as my son says to me).

Thank you, you, whatever, however, you are. Thank you. I see you, I feel you, and I want to thank you. For giving me back my life. For showing me how to stand up not just straight but tall again, head held high. Ready for what’s at the end of this yellow brick road.

Thank you.

END

[Thought you might like to read this beautiful piece from the BBC: What writing about death taught one woman about life]

FMF: Share

Joining in with Five Minute Friday – after too long a break – with this week’s word Share…..

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To share with others is one of the most life-giving things you can do: a shared meal, a shared laugh, a shared hug, a shared ‘Me too’….moments like these bond, provide glue not only for the friendship but for ourselves, for our ‘me’.

Nothing – nothing – beats an ‘I understand’ or ‘I hear you’ to make you feel whole again.

Empathy is, after all, the most life-affirming glue we humans have. [What a shame it is that so many of us have lost our capacity for empathy].

Let’s not forget the other side of ‘share’, however….the one that leaves you feeling vulnerable – because you suddenly feel you’ve shared too much (something you’ve created, a thought you’ve had…)……you know those moments, the ones where you’ve definitely ‘put yourself out there’ and you’re hanging, waiting for a reaction, waiting to see what people will make of it….[not that you define yourself by other’s opinions; does creativity even require an audience?]…

Those moments, those ‘ooooh my goodness, what have I done?’ moments, they’re definitely not glue-like; they’re the moments that make you come undone at your seams. They loosen your stuffing a bit and you feel all ruffled, not quite ‘you’.

And afterwards, you’re never quite ‘you’ again because you’ll have had to re-accommodate but – somehow – through sharing this glimpse of pure you, you’ll get stronger and more confident, that little bit more ready to share more, to offer more of you.

Eventually, after much toe-dipping in to this theatre of ‘testing your limits of comfort’, you’ll learn to shine your own light and, through this, others might be encouraged by your bravery [Encouragement: showing people how to find their own courage to shine?]….you’ll light the path for others….and your act(s) of bravery, who knows, it might start a chain reaction….

As Marie Forleo, one of my entrepreneurial heroes, says, “The world needs that special gift that only you have”…..and when you think of it like this….

….it’s actually kind of selfish not to share your talents just because you’re slightly afraid….

Perhaps the ‘afraid’ feelings – the goosebumps and the other signs we’re bumping against our vulnerability boundaries – are actually beacons to light our way to where we should be going?

[As Seuss says, there’s no-one that’s you-er than you; how strange, then, that we so often get to a position where we try to hide our light, to dampen our capacities for encouragement…]

Imagine a world where everyone felt free to share their talents, to share their passions, their joys, their sadnesses…..where solutions, help, encouragement were offered as the norm….imagine the sheer joy it would cause, to yourself and others, being you, totally you…..

[I like the idea of that kind of freedom]

END

[For some reason, I still can’t leave comments on blogger blogs….sorry! I am going to dedicate some time this weekend to try and find out what’s happening…]

Missing you…

MissingYou

I have a confession to make….

It’s been three months since I even looked at my blog

(I’d forgotten the password to log in – yikes!)

It’s also been three months since I got hooked on Instagram.

(Yes, there is a direct correlation; Instagram, you’re a sneaky little minx! So sneaky, in fact, that you’ve even managed to cure my Pinterest addiction, Heaven forbid!)

And you know what?

I miss you….all of you…my readers….

And I miss my blog….

(and doing the rounds of everyone’s blogs)

But the words just aren’t coming…..

(Well, they are, but book-related words not bloggy-words)

So I just wanted to say….

I miss you all….

and I’ll be back as and when the bloggy muse hits and I feel I’ve something ‘worthwhile’ to say….

(If I don’t fall fast asleep with the littles on Thursday, I really want to do an FMF post….I’m missing FMF sooooooo much….)

Love,

Helen xxx

December Reflections: Hot Drink (an ode to tea)

The prompt for today’s December Reflections from Susannah Conway is Hot Drink. 

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It was a very easy prompt for me today because, well, tea…..(!)

The world, and it’s madness, stops for me around 3 every afternoon as I put the kettle on and prepare my favourite mug to receive my afternoon cup of tea.

[It has to be my favourite mug otherwise it just doesn’t taste quite right somehow]

Preferably Earl Grey but when the Earl has done a runner (!), I make do with any black tea.

Steeped for two to three minutes so it’s strong but not stewed.

A generous swish of milk so it’s nice and milky.

I take it to my favourite spot on the settee and there I sit, biscuits and tea by my side, the world stopped, momentarily, as I just savour my cup of tea, sip by lovely sip.

[The littles know not to disturb me when it’s my tea time]

I feel myself getting calmer with every sip, the stresses of the day disappearing as I dunk my biscuits.

Time stills and slows as I feel the stresses release.

A cup of tea.

Not a momentous or particularly grand event, but one that deserves it’s own small celebration.

[I understand why the Japanese developed a whole ceremonial ritual around tea!]

What makes your world stop? What do you savour? 

Helen xxx

December Reflections: Sparkle

Joining in with Susannah Conway’s December Reflections

Today’s (or, rather, yesterday’s) prompt: Sparkle….

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Everyone gets a bit more of a sparkle in their eye at Christmastime, don’t they?

The Christmastime world becomes – as if by magic  – coated in a sheen of kindness, a veneer of optimism, and everything seems not only possible but probable. 

An atmosphere of giddy expectation fills the air, and everything fills with hope. 

Kisses under the mistletoe for eager but shy teenagers.

Expectant faces writing Christmas lists.

Even more expectant faces, bodies hardly containing the excitement…running towards the tree on Christmas morning.

Cheer, laughter, joy around tables; family gathered, stories unfolding, delighted in once again.

It’s a magical time of year.

A time to shine, to sparkle.

To put on your best clothes, assume your best mood, to think the best of everyone and everything.

Christmastime life is a life lived more immediately, that much more fully immersed in the moment.

Is that what makes it even more special, I wonder?

December reflections

I’m missing my blog (more importantly my blog friends!) and remember, last December, how much I loved joining in with Blogmas from Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mum.

Sadly, she doesn’t seem to be hosting it again this year but fate stepped in and, via Instagram, I found Susannah Conway’s December Reflections

Susannah’s provided a list of prompts – with the idea of taking a photo in response to the prompt – but, looking at the list, I’ve realised that some of them are perfect for blog post/journalling ideas.

Here they are:

DecPrompts

I’ll be posting as often as I can during December (and printing them out to pop in to our December scrapbook album).

Hopefully some of you might join in too!

(I’ll be posting my first photo/post later tonight!)

Helen xxxx

Let it go…(you know you want to…)…

Let it Go

There’s several stages of recovery, I’ve learned (the hard way!)….much like grief, there’s certain stages you have to go through, after leaving an abusive relationship, so you can finally start to feel less ‘almost-dead’ and slightly more ‘once again thankful-to-be-alive’.

There’s anger, rage, sadness, melancholy, nostalgia, disbelief (the research must spell it all out in the correct stages and correct order). A veritable cornucopia of ill-gotten, often unwelcome, emotions that have a habit of popping up when you least expect them, hanging around for a while and interrupting your ‘normal’, then disappearing only to morph in to something else an indeterminate amount of time later.

I’m kind of in my second disbelief stage at moment: disbelief bordering on anger and outrage (I feel, some days, like the BFG, looking in to his dream jars, wondering what the swirly mixes inside will deliver). [The Dr tells me this is progress, as this means I’m being consciously mindful of the emotions, which helps to reduce their power]

It’s actually, sometimes, a quite entertaining mix of emotions – heady, you could say – that’s pushing me forwards, onwards, upwards, enraged, as I am, at the injustice of it all. Lone disbelief has been left behind – for the dark reality hit home some time ago – and now I’m raging. Albeit quietly. But still raging.

It should be noted that none of these stages are constructive; they’re all helpful in terms of getting you from a (rock bottom) to b (semblance of a normal life)  – whilst holding that elusive ‘z‘ in sight – but they’re not in the least bit constructive from a practical point of view.

They don’t help in any practical way other than journeying you along. “I’ll hold your hand”, they say, “…but the journey itself? That’s all yours”. Ground rules established, you need to implement techniques, tools, to pull yourself through it, however thick the mud, however glutinous the mess.

One thing I’ve been doing recently, after reading about it somewhere – Google help me, you know you really must know where it is! – is using a ‘Let go’ journal (feel free to unleash the Frozen song at any point from herein on…I’m singing it right now!)…

Alongside my gratitude journal, I spend a moment before I go to bed writing down all the things I’m pledging to let go. The idea being that once they’ve been given a voice (written down), they’ll go off on their merry way and leave me clear alone. 

[Sample entries include ”What if’ thinking’ – Self-blame – The ‘you can’t’ idea – Sadness about the marriage breaking down – and so on….(all with specific examples attached)]

Since I’ve been doing this – self-medicating my PTSD (as my Dr called it) – I’ve noticed that I’m feeling a whole lot less negative, a whole lot more present and – importantly – I’ve been having far fewer flashbacks and have been sleeping so much better.

The whole idea of naming things in order to face them head on is working for me. It gives them shape, a shape I can see, and, importantly, a shape that can be tackled. Without this name, without this identification, they were just – like the BFG’s floaty amorphous dream clouds – intangible…but with disproportionate power to cause trouble, angst, negative. 

I’m a convert to the idea of (what I’m calling) my ‘Let it go’ journal. It’s helped. A great deal.

[And it can’t hurt, can it, that I go to bed, now, humming ‘Let it go’?]

Thought this might be useful for some of my lovely readers (because everyone has ‘things’ they need to let go, things that weigh us down..)? Here’s to letting go and setting free and flying and attaining and generally being fab not drab…

Helen xxx

*Hah! As I was looking for suitable images for the post, I stumbled across this journal from (company?) on sale at Barnes & Noble….it’s altogether too perfect!! [Don’t worry, I’ve still not managed to have arranged the whole idea of affiliate links on I Will Bloom – although every little would help! – I just thought some of you might like it so decided to use the image and add in the link (for your shopping pleasure)!]

FMF: Weary

Joining in with Five Minute Friday again. This week’s word: weary.

Here goes…

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Weary:

“…having one’s patience, tolerance or pleasure exhausted”

“…feeling or showing tiredness”

“…physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exhaustion, strain”

From the definitions, there doesn’t seem to be much that’s very positive about weary, and having lived through weary-making times myself, I can vouch for that fact. There is indeed very little that’s positive about weary. 

But the little positive there is is enough. Enough to teach someone who’s been to Hell and back, several times, that weary is a worthy ride, perhaps an even more worthy destination.

When you’ve ridden the Weary Train and arrived at Chronic Weary, you’ll see life at it’s worst. You’ll experience people at their worst. The entire human race will seem ugly, brutal. You’ll feel beyond hope, the shocking nature of it all will leave you reeling, looking for a North (any point, really, to cling on to).

You’ll drag your weary body around, your weary mind not even hoping to make much of anything and then you’ll catch a drift of something. A sign, a ray, a chirp, spark. (What is that? God? Life force? The energy that Buddhists tap in to?)…

Whatever it is, it’ll grab you and shake your weary ass until you awaken just enough to be able to see again. It’ll help you pop on your rosy glasses and you’ll slowly find small things that’ll pull you out of your weary state.

A flower. Raindrops. A smile. A small kindness.

You’ll use them, feed on them, your weary body growing strong, again, from them as your weary mind tries to process it all.

And slowly – very very slowly – you’ll see the value in weary, feel ashamed you even doubted, find nourishment in the strength of the human spirit that lives inside you…and you’ll start to believe there is a way out, that there is light at the end of the tunnel…

That life is worth it, that someone has your back, that there is beauty to be found everywhere, even in the darkest most desolate times.

Your journey hand in hand with weary – to weary and back – will tell you all you need to know about life and purpose and what it means to be good.

In the end, you’ll be thankful for the path you had to follow, and for the timing of it, because it taught you things you needed to know (reminded you that you have to be humble to be able to learn and that life is a learning game, if nothing else).

I’m tired most of the time. Strained (I guess the word would be). Unsure. Confused. Lost. Isolated. Alone.

But, you know, weary has taught me that those aren’t bad states to be in, or bad emotions to have: they’re simply temporary states that I have to move through. If I’m wise, I’ll learn from them and move on, stronger, more fully equipped.

Weary: a sage old companion ready to teach us more than a lesson or two about humility, patience and the value of reflection…

I’d rather not have come to know you, weary, would rather not have travelled with you, but I’m glad I did.

You taught me more than my joy-filled times ever did and for that, I’m thankful.

END

[Thanks so much for all your good wishes…everything’s been signed and I’m able to sleep that much easier at nights now. Phew!…..I’ll be back to ‘normal service’ here on I Will Bloom shortly and will also be back commenting on everyone’s blogs shortly too! (I’m not able to comment on Blogger blogs at the moment, for some reason…will try to sort the problem at the weekend…..)]

[Thought it quite an uncanny coincidence that I stumbled upon Lee Jeffries feed on IG earlier tonight….and wanted to share the link to his work…he dignifies weary in a quite miraculous way]