Dealing with the unexpected

Mountain goats in Llandudno North Wales

On a day trip last week-end, I ended up at a wonderful place by the coast in North Wales. I had set off for the seaside and a much needed drive along the coast. I was not disappointed and captured photos of some beautiful places, some of which I will share in other posts.

Shortly before making our way home, we came across a small group of goats heading somewhat purposefully along the broad pavement. They were all headed in the same direction and it was difficult to see their faces. When they came to the corner they all stopped and just stood there, as if waiting to cross the road but not making a decision to do so. Cars slowed to give them space but they remained static as we passed by.

It was strange seeing them there, I didn’t expect to see mountain goats wandering about town. Except they didn’t seem to be wandering and I was intrigued by what they had in mind.

My initial feeling of surprise was mixed with wonder, it was a good feeling and I really wanted to savour the moment. Yet it was touched with wariness and caution – I didn’t want to get out and take a photo and I didn’t wish to disturb their perhaps perplexed focus on the road, an open but risky barrier to whatever their goal may have been.

As I relax on a Saturday morning I enjoy reflecting back on my photos and seeing where they lead me. The images of the goats have led me to reflect on dealing with the unexpected.

Sometimes things happen in a moment of communication, it may be a letter, email, knock on the door, telephone call or a random connection with a stranger while out and about. Something that stops us in our tracks, that interrupts our expected and comfortable path, even if that is an unknown path, such as my spontaneous road trips when I may get lost … as had happened when I discovered the goats! Oftentimes I have a vague aim in mind but I am willing to be drawn off-track especially if it may offer opportunities for intriguing discovery.

The things that can really knock us off track can be those that are totally unexpected or those that we didn’t see coming in quite the way that they did. It is at these times it is so important for our own self-care to just stop and pause, allow ourselves to take things in, like the mountain goats at the road junction. To stop and allow ourselves to just breathe and do what we need to do in that moment before we make a choice.

When faced with a junction in your life, take the time that you need to either make a choice or wait until the time is right for you to make that choice. It is your own life to live and even when we feel that we have no choice, or there is nothing that we can do, if we give ourselves the moments we need to just take things in, ponder the options we know about and allow time for those options we may not be aware of to reveal themselves, we will be better placed to make the decision that is right for us.

Sometimes we don’t have to make a decision even if others are pressurising us to do things we don’t want to do. We may eventually have to make a choice but the timing of that is our choice, it’s our life and our path. No-one knows another person’s world. No-one. They may think they do but we are unique with our own roots that lead to such a beautiful array of essences within the world.

This past week has been such a mix of emotions and I have been so privileged to spend time doing something that is so important to me. My younger self would never have imagined that I would still be finding new and valuable learning paths that have the potential to make so much difference to people’s lives.

So it’s the start of another week-end, a journey of opportunity.

As we passed the mountain goats we wondered if they would be OK, would they be stuck where they were. We went off our own route and stopped to ask the way, being rewarded by a beautiful late afternoon seascape and connecting with local people who helpfully pointed us in the right direction.

We continued on our way and joyfully came across the goats once more, this time having made their way to a new spot where they felt comfortable to spread out and wander into the much quieter road. They looked content, they had found their way even if that was just for now. And that’s OK.

Lost but still time to capture a photo of this beautiful spot and connect with local dog walkers who helped us find our route home

One Picture So Many Stories

Today, feeling somewhat reflective, I decided to revisit my blog and discovered an unpublished draft that shared the link to a guest blog post I wrote last summer. I was really pleased to be invited by Suzanne of Raising Midlife Vibrations to do this and the post ended up being my journey through writing. Whilst I am rather late in sharing this, I do believe that sometimes this happens for a reason – yet to be revealed! If you find this post helpful at this time I would love to hear from you. The link to my post is below and I thoroughly recommend you take time to explore Suzanne’s wonderful blog.

https://raisingmidlifevibrations.com/one-picture-so-many-stories/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=one-picture-so-many-stories

Embracing 60 – surprise party and the value of blogging

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I had no doubt I wanted to share this photo but I pondered the title.  Yes it was my sixtieth birthday recently.  I’d been very specific about my age when I was in hospital over the past year and they had me down at one stage as 60 – NO! I said, I’m not 60, I’m 59 – a big difference in my eyes, fiftties sounds younger, sixties sounds, well, old.

So here I am, 60 and proud of it.  It’s a fact, it’s a number.  But does it really mean anything?  I opened a card just the other day from a fairly new friend who had never known my age.  She couldn’t help adding a comment to the card that we had chatted, shared things and experiences together, laughed and more and she couldn’t believe I was the age I was and said it proves age is just a number.  I don’t know her age.  Somewhere between 30’s and 40’s.  Does it matter?  What matters is that we clicked, we get on well together, she always makes me smile.  She said I was an inspiration but she inspires me.  We inspire each other, what can be better than that – peer inspiration, the best.

After the difficult year I have had, I felt blessed to reach my 60th and even more so when a surprise birthday celebration was arranged by my close family.  I had an inkling that we were going to do something, I thought a small family meal out together somewhere.  I was urged to be ready in time and was frantically trying to get my Christmas gift of earrings from a friend through my ears that I had not done for nearly a year, didn’t even know if the holes would still be there.  Success and then I made my way out the door to be greeted by a huge white limousine.

It was a wonderful surprise and I sat sipping a taster of Champagne as I floated in the car to our destination.  It seemed unreal.  In my mind I kept thinking I knew where we were going as we took different turnings and changed my guess as we went past.  We ended up arriving at one of my favourite haunts some years back where we spent many happy times, a fairly local hotel where I had partied, had family brunches with Santa and enjoyed the therapeutic benefits of the health spa.  After capturing our family group outside the limo, I ventured inside, not prepared for the surprises that moment by moment dawned on me.  Some of my closest friends who had supported me so much during the past year were already seated in the lounge area, scattered so it took me a few minutes to take it in and tears of emotion and joy escaped my eyes.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  How they had all managed to keep it from me at a time when we were wishing each other a Happy Christmas and not expecting to see each other until the New Year I do not know.  I never suspected such a surprise.  It brought a warm glow to my heart and I treasured every moment.

I have dwelt on this more than I intended and it is hard to express in words how I felt.  I had not felt able to make plans myself because I had not long had my last treatment of chemotherapy and was still recovering, and somehow it being the last of the cycle made it more difficult though I should have been pleased.  As I write this I have enjoyed a joyous Christmas at home and spent a couple of days away at a family party where most of my family were present and I met once again with the youngest member, just under a year old, my niece’s son.

I would never have imagined years ago that at age 60 (which always seemed so old when I recall my own parents reaching that age) that I would have a teenage daughter and be mid-way through a degree course at University.  I have a wonderful family, dear friends and a range of interests that keep me happy most of the time.  There are challenges ahead but there is so much to be thankful for.  I am returning to study in January and this will bring its own pressures which will again mean that my blogging will no doubt go on hold again, but it is not something that I want to let go of.  It is something that I want to return to again and again as there is something so special about it.  I have tinkered with different aspects of social media.  Each has its place, benefits and downfalls, but to me nothing gets near to what blogging can do.  It opens up a whole new world and the opportunities are endless.  Whenever I come on here I get lost in what I am doing and never feel that I have wasted my time.  There is always something that draws me in to read more and I know that it is always there for me if I need it.

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Unblocking creativity and releasing inspiration – 10 minute writing challenge (2 of 2)

Copyright 2013 Miguel Virkkuhen Carvalho, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2013 Miguel Virkkuhen Carvalho, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

This 10 minute writing exercise was written four days after the last one posted yesterday, back in January of this year when I was in hospital.  It was a very emotional time yet at the same time my emotions were somewhat on hold, still struggling somewhere with my new situation in life, having just been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia – a fast-acting life threatening form of cancer.  Fortunately the final report revealed that I had the type APL (Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia) which has the best prognosis.  

‘Let anything come to light. Light, sun, shade, depths. My favourite colours. Pink and turquoise. Where are they now? The luminescence of my favourite pink is in my hand leading this waltz of writing. Waltz – music is within me yet it has evaded me. The song of life, the thrill of it all. The lilting sound of creativity. Creativity is to be found all around – or is it? I need to search it out, to wallow in it and bring it back to life. Life, it keeps coming up. This new, unexpected venture. How does it feel to be here? But I am not ‘here’. I am soothing my soul to do something special with creativity. There is so much around, but where is it hiding. I am on a journey and that journey is just finding me. I must avoid the logic. That is not what this is for. Storytelling was my aim and that can stay with me. I will write a short story, one that wings in from the sky above. One that I don’t think hard about, it just comes to me. Will it be real? There will be more than one – but fantasy is what breathes through my veins. A new light. Get caught up in the colour that comes to me.  Take inspiration from all that has come to be in this vessel of a room. The cards and gifts. Where am I? I am with heart. I am loving life. All is not lost it is within me. To find the light and the story. To have music in my mind. To love and to laugh. To write music is a gift that I can bring to this time. I am soaring through the sky in Florida. Such a wonderful and special time. The cool air brushing through my hair as I swirl through the clouds like a swan sweeping across the ocean.’

Unblocking creativity and releasing inspiration – 10 minute writing challenge (1 of 2)

Copyright 2009 Trug Bui Viet, Flicks, via Wylio

Copyright 2009 Trug Bui Viet, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

I thought I would share with you this 10 minute writing exercise I carried out after a friend gave me a very special writing book while I was in hospital.  This is the very first bit of writing I did as a result of receiving this book.  (Try it yourself – set a timer for 10 minutes and just write whatever comes into your head.)  This was written in January this year.  I have in the past month started my story … I just need to return again.  This 10 minute extract conveys the kind of autobiographical fiction I would like to write.

‘Heart of my life. This moment. Where am I? I am in a new life. I am boarding a train at Platform Life. I have my ticket to an unknown destination. It is calling me. I have no idea where I am going but I have my inside filled with the fuel of inspiration. I am alone. Yet I do not feel alone. I feel that I have my spirits with me. The special light of those I have loved and lost. Yet there is the call of mystery. This is my story. I recall when I was given a signal to get on the train and know that I was on a special journey. I received texts telling me that I was not alone. It was scary yet somehow exciting. I love trains and I was on a journey to my mystery story, the one I am going to start.

I feel it is a fantasy story. It means I can go on any plane of life. The now, the future, the past, the unknown. The hidden depths within me. I may get lost but the fragments of me will collect themselves and save me from the hardness of life as I know it at this moment. I am on a soft journey to a fantasy world. I am going to soar into a story of such powerfulness that inspires me and connects me with the people who I love now and those I have yet to meet. I feel blessed to have this opportunity. And it is going to re-alight my creativity. Take me to a place that is beyond the bounds of special. A unique, timeless experience that is so touching, so enchanting, that I will create many special characters to join me on this journey. They will be colourful, fantastical, special, heartwarming …’

Time to Play – poem written 2010 (inspired by anxiety/depression following post concussion syndrome)

Copyright 2008 Hartwig HKD, Flickr, CC-BY-ND, via Wylio

Copyright 2008 Hartwig HKD, Flickr, CC-BY-ND, via Wylio

In 2009 I slipped on ice in my back garden.  My legs must have flipped up as I became horizontal and landed flat on my back.  At the time it was as if it was happening in slow motion, I recall suddenly looking up at the clouds – seemingly in a lying down position – and wondering what was happening.  Then there was a hard thud as the back of my head hit the ground.  The end result was post concussion syndrome which resulted in extreme anxiety followed by depression.  This poem was written at that time.

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TIME TO PLAY

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Sitting here the thoughts surround me

Memories I have for sure

Dragging me along the pathway

Thinking that there is no cure

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Draining troughs of useless power

Taking all I have to give

Wish that I could be away now

Heal the hurt that’s like a sieve

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Letting all the goodness leave me

Giving me a woolly head

Save me from this awful feeling

Keeping me still in my bed

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Let the waves of colour surface

Brighten up the newborn day

Fill me with a breath of gladness

So that I may find my way

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Life is like a roller coaster

Scared is what I have become

Spread my wings and take me forward

Lift this life so wearysome

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Help me see that there are rainbows

Spread with dreams along the way

There is love and laughter waiting

Sitting there amongst the hay