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Today, feeling somewhat reflective, I decided to revisit my blog and discovered an unpublished draft that shared the link to a guest blog post I wrote last summer.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

Drawn by the Sea 2020: Scottish Coastal Communities

Tobermory. Copyright Stewart Morrison 2020

I am excited to report that the second art book I have created with Scottish artist Stewart Morrison has just been self-published using my Waves and Pebbles Publishing imprint. If you are lucky enough to come across Stewart in the historic Artists’ Town of Kirkcudbright you will have a chance to buy one of the first copies. You may also come across Stewart as he starts to revisit some of his favourite places nearby.

Artist Stewart Morrison

It has been quite a journey and the book is very special. The idea originally came from Stewart in January as an idea for a follow up to our first book that was about a collaborative art project involving Stewart creating art inspired by the beautiful Thanet coast where I live. By March we were well into the third draft of the book on Scotland with friends offering to provide written contributions. Then lockdown struck and there was uncertainty.

The Book!

I was much relieved when Stewart agreed to continue and it has provided a welcome focus. The book covers an artist’s journey in mind, starting in Kirkcudbright, travelling up the west coast and down the east coast before returning across country to Kirkcudbright. I decided to work out how long the journey was and surprised to discover it was around 2,500 miles and 100 hours of car travel – so it is my dream journey when I can take off for a few months and have a very extended holiday. Perhaps a working one doing life story writing workshops along the way! It was lovely to discover such a variety of places, each with their own character. The book includes Stewart’s art over the past five years and written memories of his own going back over 50 years to his childhood. Friends have shared special poems and memories of the places that the journey takes us to, roughly 20 East and 20 West coastal communities.

I hope you may get a chance to see a copy soon. I have a small supply myself for when I am getting out and about more near Broadstairs in Kent, England and we have plans to publish an online version. In the meantime, I am including a few photos here. If you have any questions either for myself or Stewart, please let me know in the comments or email me kay@wavesandpebbles.com.

Scalpay. Copyright Stewart Morrison 2020

Paradice

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I just came across this poem I wrote some years ago when I was in my bedroom looking down onto the snowy urban landscape around me, stuck at home and unable to travel as the roads were so treacherous.

PARADICE

There’s nowhere I can go
you spread your blanket high
I’m trapped within this box
and I don’t have any socks

How can it really be
you flutter from the sky
it makes this life so hard
and we’ve taken down our guard

We never are prepared
you make us really sigh
it brings us to a halt
and we’ve used up all the salt

Then suddenly it comes
to those that do not cry
it takes away the stress
and don’t even have to dress

We’re stranded here at home
with no-one coming by
it brings such wondrous calm
and don’t come to any harm

There’s some that have a go
don’t stop to think of why
it may be hard to see
and they may just hit a tree

We ventured for a walk
you felt so very dry
the world it did stand still
and with magic we did chill

Laughter rippled through us
a warm tear filled the eye
with luck did surely dice
and we fell for paradice

Life of our own – Poem

Copyright 2015 Sarah Joy, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

Copyright 2015 Sarah Joy, Flickr, CC-BY-SA, via Wylio

I watched as my daughter walked slowly across the grass
smoothing her hands through her long ruffled hair

A lone figure walking into school
into her own life, a life where I am not there

Everyone has their life, leave judgement aside
no-one truly knows what each other experiences

Family lives, time spent together as a unique whole
Distinct family pairings, each time differences

Working lives, daily grind to fulfilling achievement
client, manager, managed and peer

Friends made along the way, supporting and teaching us
passing connections and lifelong here

Love and conflict run close together
spiking through life’s tumultuous time

Communication is key to understanding and passion
Listening to words where nothing needs to rhyme

Stress, control, choice and time perception – including Mary Oliver Poem ‘The Summer Day’

Copyright 2015, Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015, Kay/wavesandpebbles

Here is the last section of my draft writing that I came across recently on self-development and life coaching.  For the remainder of sections, I have headings only so maybe I will do some more work on it.

Stressless < — > Calmness

I have had times in my life when I have suffered from stress, even having to take time off work. Those times were when there were numerous things going on in my life which added together resulted in my not being able to cope. I have since learnt to recognise my own signs for when I am getting stressed and take action to deal with this before it is too late. Too much stress can lead to anxiety and depression. By recognising the signs and taking action, a calmer and happier life can be yours.

Life coaching and increased self-awareness through reading self-development books has helped me deal with stress, anxiety and depression. The key to this is one word – CONTROL. Being in control or feeling in control. Once you feel out of control of situations, that is the danger zone. Another word that is important here is CHOICE. We all have choices, even if we don’t think we have. We can choose to do things differently any second, any minute, any hour of the day. We can choose to make small, almost insignificant, changes at any time.

We can choose to make life-changing decisions now, next week, next month or next year. It is our choice. Of course there are repercussions, so you have to weigh up whether you actually want to make that decision. But by taking control of situations, and making choices, you retain control and are able to feel calmer and less stressed, knowing that you have made a decision and that you are in control of your own life. Once you allow others or situations to take control, you can feel out of control and overwhelmed.

A valuable tool that I have gained through my life coach training is the Life Wheel, which can be adapted to use in any situation, and is a paper exercise that you can do for yourself taking in the whole picture of what is important or impacts on you and your life, then creates focus, exploration and action through small, achievable goals that are within your own gift of achieving – leading to a sense of regaining control over your life and the particular aspect you are focussing on. (if you are interested in this, a future post can address how to do the Life Wheel exercise and the different ways in which it can be applied)

Another BIG word that impacts immensely on stress – in competition with control, and perhaps in many cases, overtakes it – is TIME. ‘I don’t have enough time …’ ‘I am running out of time …’ ‘I have to get this done by …’ ‘Look at the time …’ ‘There is never enough time in the day …’ ‘I am always under pressure …’ ‘I never have time to relax and enjoy myself.’ ‘I never have enough time to do what I need to do.’

The first thing I did a long long time ago, that changed my relationship with time, was to stop wearing a watch. I noticed that one of my colleagues who was more laid back about things didn’t wear one and wondered how she managed. I decided to try for myself and have never looked back. … time is still there – not forgotten – but not drawing my attention every minute of every day.

How else did I change my relationship with time? By taking a more relaxed approach to my working day.  I start at varying times. Sometimes early, sometimes late. I appreciate that not everyone can do this, but many employers have become a lot more flexible, particularly with a need to cater for those with family commitments, and flexibility helps take the pressure off.

If time is really a big issue for you, and you never have enough time to do what you want, then maybe it would help to do a time analysis over a period of a week. Nothing too complicated, but something that would get you thinking about how you really spend your time. Take a few moments to write down what you spend your time on, both at home and at work. Is everything you do necessary? Do you do things because you want to do them, need to do them or feel you should do them? If the latter, what would happen if you didn’t do it? Would you feel guilty? Is it your responsibility? Does it really have to be done?

Remember it’s your life and you have choices over what you spend your lifetime doing. Think about it. Is there anything that you could either stop doing completely, spend less time on or get someone to help you with so that you could achieve it quicker, or even get someone to take over the job? When I was struggling working mum with a young child, we had a cleaner. Just 3 hours a week made so much difference. Having to downsize meant that I lost this wonderful luxury but if you can afford such help I thoroughly recommend it. (for some reason whilst typing this it has reminded me of a poem by Mary Oliver which I am now going to look up)

Gettting back to time, often I used to put pressure on myself for no reason. I was especially guilty in thinking I had to make the most of every waking moment, and that to stay in bed too long or sit around doing nothing was a waste of time. I can still sometimes go that way, but because I am aware of this, I remind myself and allow myself to enjoy having time just to chill out and relax, potter around and moodle. I thought this was a wonderful word when I came across it – moodling. Just doing things slowly, enjoying the process, thinking about anything but in a relaxed way. The practice of mindfulness (to be covered in a future post) is very beneficial if you are under pressure and find it difficult to switch off and do nothing. In my opinion, mindfulness is a form of meditation, as is going for a long walk on my own with no aim in mind and no distractions and letting thoughts drift in and out of my mind.

My relationship with time is so different now. In the initial stages of becoming more relaxed about time, even my choice of diary made a difference. If I could see the whole week at a glance, which I do find useful, I also used to see that there was not much time left before the week had even begun as there seemed to be so much already organised. I changed to one page a day, and time seemed immediately to extend itself. Now I am back to a week at a glance as I am able to be more relaxed and my diary no longer panics me.

There are a range of time management books out there but I think that the key to dealing with time issues is not how to manage time but how to change your relationship with time. It is the rest of life and creating balance that is the issue, not the amount of time itself. It is how you feel about time, as opposed to what it actually is. You can have the same amount of time to do the same thing, but one day you might feel that you don’t have enough time, you may feel rushed, stressed, tired. Another day you may feel relaxed and confident with no issues about getting the task completed in the time available. It is very much more about your perception of time than the amount of time actually available.

Sometimes I lump an amount of time all together, and become fearful when getting near the end of it. For example, over the weekend I think of it as a whole, and when it gets to Sunday late afternoon/early evening that that is the end of it. Yet in the week when returning home from work at teatime/early evening, I still think I have a whole evening ahead of me. Why cannot I think the same of Sunday evenings? I seem to have so much on my mind about the next day that it leads to time being wiped away.

Sometimes I stop and think. We are all living our own separate lives. We all start and end at different points. Yet we treat time as if we are all experiencing the same amount of time with the use of the 24 hour clock, 7-day week and 12 months in a year. We are all experiencing different moments of time in each of our individual lives. Why should we allow ourselves to be taken over by a universal approach to time? If we listen to the radio, we can’t get away from the fact that every hour we know when it is up when the news/weather/traffic info comes on. We get reminded to the minute of the exact time.’

Doing away with a universal approach would undoubtedly lead to chaos in the extreme but there needs to be a balance between living our own (time-limited) lives in the best way possible and fitting in with the demands cast upon us by a world dominated by time.

Note

I have checked out the poem by American poet Mary Oliver.  It is ‘The Summer Day’ also referred to as ‘The Grasshopper’.  The last lines are:

‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

You might like to listen to Mary Oliver reading it.

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

The Trapped Butterfly – Poem

Copyright 2009 Donald Duss, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2009 Donald Duss, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

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The following poem was written in 2010.  A woman I had met in Brighton had talked about being a trapped butterfly and other things she spoke about encouraged me to get on and write my book.  Yes, even back then I had the intention to write a book – maybe 2015 will be the year!  I have recently made a start on two books – one is a fiction story based in Brighton which I started writing a couple of weeks ago.  The second is a book on Memories and Creativity which I started writing today.  I have made many ‘starts’ over the years – I just have to keep the momentum up and see it through …  Anyway, here is my poem.

The Trapped Butterfly

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Thoughts of freedom fill her mind

not knowing what to do

She cannot leave it all behind

to find that something new

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Life has done it once again

entrapped her in its web

Amongst it all it is the men

that cause a constant ebb

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The journey has been happy

it has not been all bad

Such gifts there’ve been for all to see

yet now she feels so sad

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The spiders web surrounds her

it’s not a pretty sight

And nothing feels the way things were

so taking all the might

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Yet through her fragile being

comes wonder and such light

That lifts and is so healing

she’s not giving up the fight

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To break through all the limits

and fly to reach the sky

To take a look to where he sits

with not a tearful eye

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So from this day now forward

she knows what she must do

To lift her high as like a bird

and give a happy coo

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A butterfly is special

it flutters here and there

But her wish is now to settle

with one that wants to share

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And the choices that she makes

are hers and hers alone

And it will be for all their sakes

though some of them may moan

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Time is slipping through her wings

the moment is now here

To feel the joys of all life brings

there’s nothing now to fear

Tonight is the night all my dreams come true – Love Poem

Copyright 2008 Sabrina Campagna, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2008 Sabrina Campagna, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

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Tonight is the night all my dreams come true

As you eagerly search for the four leafed clover
Amongst the softness of the lush emerald grass
The suns rays sprinkle the angels’ dust of love

When the magical starlight haze glimmers in the night sea sky
The warm bond of hugs nestles in the midnight breeze
And memories of a distant fountain spread everlasting joy

Special feelings are shared silently as the soft moon
Glows through the majestic bridge
And a time recalled when two languages declared their love

Standing forever caught in a tangled maze
Never reaching the point when two hearts join forever
Lost happiness as the twist of fate rips all hope aside

Yet tonight is an open book
The story unwritten
Our world is there to find

Perfection is an illusion
Yet the mystical journey to the dream can be shared
And all the special tender moments make all the days apart worthwhile

All there is to do is smile and believe it can be
Allow the chance to be free
To share a blessed and loving journey of life in its entirety

Tonight is the night all my dreams come true

Oblivion – poem

Copyright 2008 David Ohmer, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

Copyright 2008 David Ohmer, Flickr, CC-BY, via Wylio

I wrote this poem when I was attending a creative writing course in 2013.  It was at this time that I learnt about different types of poems and editing.  It was my first (and only!) attempt at a Villanelle style of poem.  Most of my poems have been written spontaneously and rarely edited.  I’d love to know what you think.

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OBLIVION

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Across the trapway looming dwellings queue

I struggle with thoughts of others’ feeling

Shimmering isle inspired by blue depth hue

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Eery emptiness fakes tempting trespass

I’m drawn to chance the shake of such stepping

Across the trapway looming dwellings queue

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Furtive steps melt along the curving path

I feel the heat of the orange glowing

Shimmering isle inspired by blue depth hue

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Hidden echoes of the privileged few

I hear aching voices softly calling

Across the tramway looming dwellings queue

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Tippling boats and boys seared by rich sun rays

I bless them from the heart for such dreaming

Shimmering isle inspired by blue depth hue

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Shedding golden light on secret ways

I feel lured in by those that went sailing

Across the tramway looming dwellings queue

Shimmering isle inspired by blue depth hue