Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Make a list

So many thoughts and feelings, and experiences have been swimming around in my head.  I recognise confusion en masse and I don't like it.  So how do we deal with our confusion?  There are times when we need to compartmentalise them (nice word)!  In a nut shell, in  a filing cabinet, in a suitcase, in a draw; these are the items that cause confusion that we ruminate over, and the rumination can lead to a headache.Image result for Question
Above my laptop on my desk back wall I have notices of information; a therapeutic task for clients, a Bible verse on card, two outcomes guide for teaching, a declaration of God's word on my life, from Jeremiah 29:11-13, and other relevant, legal and educational information.  From time to time I look at them, and rest a while, recognising that they are all relevant, and hold their place somewhere in my plethora of my busy days.  They are all securely kept there, with a variety of magnets collected from home and abroad, as a bold reminder of what I should do, when, and with whom, and why. The most important notice however is my "To do List" of all the other's that is the one, that is frequently visited and updated in the compartment in which I have placed it.  It lives at the top right hand corner of my desk, because being right handed, when I look up, I am automatically drawn to it.
I read what I have listed, I tick off what I have achieved, and I add what I need to do.  That helps with the confusion.  It's not just that what it does only, but also helps with clarity, and gives me a sense of fulfillment, that although my desk wall is busy, I do not have to feel that busyness, because I have ordered my plans.  This reduces stress and the need to keep going through my notices, and checking if I have addressed this or that;  I look at my list, and it tells me that I have done it, or that I need to do it.
Of course there are those of us whom I believe like confusion, and chaos.  I recall studying with a fellow student, who kept a very untidy folder.  In our small study group of four, she was asked by the teacher to locate a relevant piece of work. As she leafed through her folder, I watched in anxiety as loose leaves fell out and crumpled papers appeared between neat pockets, or torn pieces of work.  I felt embarrassed for her, but her candid comment when asked about her chaotic folder was, "I like the disorganised folder, it makes me feel as though I am studying something really important" She continued to search! How she was able to equate the two remains a mystery to me.  
Maintaining an organised existence helps us to chart our progress, reduces stress in our lives, can help reduce the feelings of depression, and gives us a sense of purpose.  We can see the results of our plans at a glance.  In my work as an Integrative Therapist, there are times when a client will need a little direction in what they should do, to reduce their confusion.  CBT is good for this, (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).  Once such client sat before me, a young woman in her early twenties who had recently become unemployed.  Her days were unfulfilled, and she had temporarily lost a sense of purpose.  When exploring her days activities, she saw little  to do, there was plenty she could do.(That's what I saw), my job was to enable her to see it.  For a while we sat and talked, her responses reflected both the confusion she felt, and the emptiness she was experiencing.  So we began to work on compartmentalising her day, organising and giving her a sense of purpose, making a pictorial list with achievable and realistic outcomes. By the end of the session her whole demeanour had changed and she shared the excitement of using her IT skills for creativity of her 'list'.
So let's not kid ourselves, confusion is not good, disorganisation and chaos is not healthy, and living without a sense of purpose does not build character.  I agree wholeheartedly with the verse in the Bible that speaks of Our Father God as not being the Author of confusion (1st Corinthians 14:33). He set a blue print for us to follow, can you imagine if He had given us the task of making the earth? Wow! or worse still, making Us? 
Think about it. Look in to your life, and ask yourself, what can I compartmentalise? what lists can I make? what plans for the week can I realistically put in place. Begin to do this and you will begin to see results that you may have felt you could not achieve. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

"They are new every morning"

Three events happened recently  that challenged my continuing reflective thoughts, I want to share them with you.
Event 1:
I sat with my  friend J in the grounds of a little village cafĂ©.  The sun was beaming down on our table, and we waited patiently for our lunch order.  As we watched passers by, and listened to the noisy traffic (village life isn't so quiet these days); we talked and mused over the beautiful surroundings  punctuated by hanging baskets, and village aesthetics.  The waitress emerged with our food, which looked scrumptious.  She asked us if we would like any sauces; of course mayonnaise and chips go beautifully together, and so that was my request.  My gentle, quiet friend, began to tuck in.  I hesitated, picked up my cutlery, and paused.  The food looked lovely, it was hot, and I was hungry, but I was waiting; as she ate, I decided to begin, but really and truly I wanted my mayonnaise.  After what seemed like a decade, (grossly exaggerated) I said to my friend, 'I think she has forgotten our mayonnaise', she calmly replied, as she put a morsel of food in her mouth, 'No, she knows we're out here, she'll bring it in a bit', within seconds she arrived, with a pot of mayonnaise, with the usual enquiry of 'is everything okay with your meal'?
My friend was well away, enjoying her meal, I paused for a moment to thank the waitress, and continued with my meal.
Event 2:
We bumped into Tim, my self and hubby, as we walked in a local  shopping area, in the early afternoon sun.  Tim, according to my hubby, looked better than he had done for a long time. In short he was homeless, had no job, and no family, but today, he was in a better place, because he had, cleaned himself up, acquired his cash benefits, and expressed gratitude for the input my husband had given to acquire his birth certificate.  He repaid the debt. He was clean, sober, and shared an optimistic view of wanting to turn his life around.  He was with his  friend Jerry.  This friend was completely incoherent of our presence. Deeply intoxicated, and swaggering along the pavement edge in a precariously dangerous stroll.  He was heading for the common alcoholics bench. As we watched, Tim looked at him, the state this once wealthy, controlling person had become; he talked in brief of his days that others had suffered under the hand of this man.  As we looked at his friend, he faltered slightly at the pavement's edge, and near fell into the road. In anxious tones Tim said, 'I better get him some chips, to soak up the alcohol'.
Event 3:
CPD is very important to enhancing my counselling practice.  I'm always looking out and listening for new developments in the world of therapy.  I tuned into a you tube video, the title attracted me, and I listened keenly to the Introduction of a Psychotherapist who was unfamiliar to me.  She sounded great, knowledgeable, wise, and well learned.  I was keen to hear what she had to say. When her introduction had been completed, I turned up the volume slightly. Today I would learn something new, not heard before, and add it to my CPD. As she spoke, I recognised the familiar paths I had taken to building relationships with my clients.  She did not use any words, I could not understand, and she explained herself slowly, methodically, and with passion.  Her emphasis was the importance of a good relationship, how the empathic, congruent relationship would enable the client to tell their story.  She wisely said that application  of human interaction, exceeded all the knowledge of theory, as with them, and no application of human interaction, it would disable depth in the therapeutic alliance. (not exactly her words, but that's what I understood).
My learning, my reflection, my conclusion.
My friend J is a Quaker, she is a peaceful, gentle, person. When I speak with her, she listens intently, looking at me, and waiting until I finish to give her response. When we talk I know she hears me, as her responses are always relevant to my comments. We write each other often, and our letters are filled with depth and meaning. I felt rebuked when I whittled over the arrival of our sauce. She taught me something; the art of gentle, patient waiting, not to worry, not to fret, take your time, enjoy the moment, trust that what you ask for is coming, be at peace.  John 14:27
I was proud of Tim, but also very humbled by his concern for Jerry.  He, who had very little to give himself, yet in that moment gave a huge amount to his friend, I saw care, I saw compassion, and I saw human kindness. I saw the teachings of Jesus, Matthew 25:40. It didn't matter that Jerry was drunk, dirty, 'mashed' and possibly very smelly, Tim, cared, and he taught us something.  As we parted, and drove past him a little later, there he was gently handing and feeding Jerry his chips.
So what was I really looking for from this new Psychotherapist?, something great?, something never spoken before about relationships?.   Lamentations 3:22-23, tells me that "The steadfast Love of the Lord never ceases.....His mercies never come to an end...they are New every morning". It isn't about doing something new, with each client, it is about building a relationship, and that not just with clients but with others too, it is about talking and listening, practicing and demonstrating daily what I know to be good and right in the treatment of others.  It's about knowing that people are more important than things, and places, and also listening to God's voice, about being at peace, being humble, being caring.  None of the above events are amazingly spectacular, it is what I received from them, in my moment of reflection.
If we go through each day, and never stop to take stock, think and reflect on what we sometimes scoff at; waiting for the sauce, ignoring the Alcoholics, switching off and saying I've heard it before, if we never stop and think what can I learn from my experiences? then to us, they are not new every morning. We remain stagnant, unrefreshed and dead.
What will you notice this week, in the next few weeks.  What will you reflect on? 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Understand another's journey,

My profile suggests that I get to know myself a little more, by observing the behaviour of others.  It's quite an interesting statement because it almost implies that I spend time watching others, and picking out what's good, bad,  what I like, don't like, emulating others and rejecting others.  Not so, that's not what I mean, I guess I mean, I can be sympathetic to their journey.
Let me explain.  I have an enemy or two, maybe they are not my enemies, but they are definitely not my allies. Our interaction is poor, infact it's tooth wrenching painful, and I often leave their presence a little disturbed.  This is where the Forgiveness blog comes in... "Set Free".  I am not their enemy, in fact truth be known, I would like to be their allie, but right now, right at this point in our lives, their lives and mine, it is not happening.  Why? because as I have been on a journey, so are they!, and so I can 'see with them' as my mother used to say, 'si wid mi'.  Meaning I can understand their difficulty, I can understand the rocks and boulders they will climb, I can understand the valleys, and the rebellion, I can understand the pretense and the effort, I can understand the resistance and the denial.
I have arrived at my acceptance...or have I? so you see I can understand where they are at.  It enables me to be more sympathetic.
We are all on a journey, I began a specific journey in October 2016.  How the journey was going to take shape, and where exactly I was going to travel to, I wasn't sure, so I had to consult a lot with my Travel Advisor, sometimes I wasn't sure how I would feel, on a particular road, or the reaction of the passers by, but I had to trust God, my Travel Advisor that He would be with me. 
When I observe others where they are on their journey, I can say, 'Ahh, I recognise that road....hmmm that's a long one, a rough one, I hope they keep going, I hope that they listen to their Travel Advisor, because only He can take them through that particular road'.
However, some may not even have started that specific journey, but I can still be sympathetic, compassionate, and coupled with the lessons, I have picked up along the way, I can be patient, can I add painfully patient? because that is how it is at times. Painful to watch them, painful to experience them, but then I need also need to pray, for them, and for myself. 

I can also rebuke those, who criticise the travellers, or pre-contemplative travellers ( those who are not yet at the start of their journey), 'Remember what God did, for you, where He brought you from?', That is my response to the critics, ' allow them that time, be patient, painfully patient even', and pray.
Image result for A roadWhat's so great about the journey is that when you come through the other side, you'll know you've been on a journey, but even more importantly is anticipating the next leg.  Sometimes the journey can be lonely.  It was for me, and at points still is, that's when I have to go back to my Travel Advisor, sometimes He doesn't tell me where to go. He just reminds me that He is with me, keep going straight.  You see really and truly He is also like my Sat Nav.  Have I talked about this in a previous blog?, yes I'm sure I did. If I don't hear from Him for a moment, I just need to keep going.  He'll give me the next direction....as I'm sure He will others.
Allow them their journey... Whose to say we will end up in the same direction? Of course there is no guarantee of this, and doesn't matter.  What is more important is that they are on their journey, and I need to see that.

Tiny little spots

Karen smiled as she unfolded her crumpled  clean white sheet she was hanging on the line; as she pegged the last corner of the freshly smelling sheet, she stood back.  There was something satisfying, she thought, about watching white sheets blow in the wind, and what may seem a daily chore to others, was a pleasure to Karen.  She picked up the basket and was about to walk away; one last glance at her clean white sheet, stopped her in her tracks.                .                                                   .
As she went closer and pulled the sheet to her, she noticed a tiny little spot; it was small, and somewhat insignificant but it was there.  Karen began to finger it, and as she did so, whatever it was smudged, but it was still very small.  From a distance it wasn't easily noticeable. 
She decided to walk away, she would wash it again soon.  She paused part way down the path, she sighed, she screwed her face, others may not see it, but I know that it's there.  She turned, unpegged the sheet, and dropped it in her basket.  
Songs of Solomon 2:15, talks about the little foxes that spoil the vine, they are only little, but they can do a lot of damage, they are like little spots...  A vine, is a creeping plant that can scale a wall, weave it's branches in and out fence panels, hanging on for dear life with long fingered tendrils, or can run along the ground covering a good deal of space. A good vine that has been well taken care of, will produce a good healthy crop of grapes. In this chapter, it talks about the relationship between a man and a woman, and how to watch out for the little foxes that can interfere with that relationship.  The foxes are like little spots, imagine, that they are being allowed to nibble at the vine, or begin to dig around the roots, and these 'spots', if ignored can cause a lot of damage, or become smudges, and smudges look unpleasant no matter how small they are.                              .
We can pretend they don't exist, we can even try to cover them up, but they are present, under the surface, behind the scenes.
In my experience and work as a counsellor, I find that many spots have been ignored, many little foxes have been allowed to nibble away at the vine, and that vine, can be anything; our relationship with a significant other, our mental health and well being, our physical health and well being, even our relationship with God, if you sit back and don't attend to them, do not be surprised if your vine, begins to deteriorate, or fail to produce a healthy crop.                                                                 .
Someone said to me of a problem I shared with them, 'just ignore it, leave it alone, it will go away, infact better still, pretend,' Whilst I might be able to pretend, it remains a constant niggle in the background. What do I do with that, deal with it or ignore it?  King Solomon was wise when he said those words, inspired by an even wiser Being, Our heavenly Father. I can only reiterate what has already been said, watch out for those foxes, address the spots!                           .

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Set Free- Forgiveness

Dr Neil T Anderson in his book, 'Set Free' writes:- 'When people forgive from the heart, they take a giant step toward freedom' Wow! when I read that I had two conclusions;

No.1, that's how I'm feeling right now as I have made an audible declaration of forgiveness..and

No.2 I want to continue on and on doing what I have been led to do- forgive those, but not just do it, say it, but not just say it, say it aloud, not just say it aloud, but say the names of those aloud- so I say, 'I forgive Taylor for what he said to me' even if I never say it to Taylor, I said it to God and as a result He hears, so  the next time I see Taylor, I will show it; My Forgiveness- Taylor will hopefully notice my change in attitude towards him, and forgive me.

You see in order for others to know they need to forgive, to be set free themselves, they need to know that they are forgiven.  So I continue to speak forgiveness audibly so the devil, Satan, hears me saying it.  He will stamp his feet, screw up his face, get a little hotter under the collar, but as hard as it is I need to keep doing it.

I imagine that there are thoughts in your head; 'what if someone hurt  a member of your family? what if they kept hurting you, doing things to you wilfully, you, forgive them once, twice? what if they don't accept your forgiveness?  There is so much written and said about forgiveness. Each experience of forgiveness is unique to the individual who is doing the forgiveness, because they have to decide if, when and how they should forgive.  Yes of course we hear it daily, and recite it in the Prayer Jesus taught His Disciples in the book of Luke..  "Our Father....forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive..." oops!, let's put the breaks on here, we recite it, can we do it?  is it just a recitation, or a genuine desire.  True, it isn't easy to forgive, if it were it may indicate that we are so unaffected by hurts that we are almost inhuman.
Human we are, Devine we are not, but it is the Divinity of Jesus Christ that helps us to forgive.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, there is a spiritual element within us that challenges our mental and moral state. We have a choice to feed the hurt, so that it becomes tortuous and takes residence in our psyche, propelling us to a state of mental  disability, or we can make a conscious effort to tell ourselves that we want to be set free, and the way to do it is to forgive, though difficult, though challenging, though it may put us in a temporary state of vulnerability.
How will we know we can do it, and be set free? it is a matter of words, audible, words, hear yourself speak, connect with the emotions you feel when you say...'I forgive  Maria for ......' try it....and keep doing it, don't stop until, you see 'Maria', and note the change in your attitude.
Set yourself free.Image result for why forgive book

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Know when you are not wanted...Ouch!!

Rejection, Ostracism, exclusion, are not nice, they are unpleasant in every way, and leaves a bad taste in one's mouth, and a negative mental scar.
What do we do, when we have experienced some form of the above? recognise the hurt it causes, accept the pain, forgive, move on.  Forgiving takes time, and can keep you on an emotional roller coaster, and then after that, the question is whether or not reconciliation is necessary.  However the fear of being rejected again, ostracised, or excluded is there, creeping behind the wings.  That is when we have to 'know when we are not wanted'.
This can be by anyone, family, community members, fellow parishioners.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that this rejection can take place amongst the former and the latter, however this is true.  Sometimes, there is no valid reason for rejection, it is simply a dislike of one person of another, other reasons could be feelings of threat.
Knowing when you are not wanted, is a painful acknowledgment, but it helps to put things into perspective, if you don't know you are not wanted, you will continually fight to be included, and become upset when you are not, you will wonder why another is liked or given more attention and focus than yourself, and you will relive and regurgitate the pain and hurt continually. By knowing you are not wanted, you will work towards your own self healing, acceptance and begin to move forward.
Earlier this year, I sat in a forum with family members, the meeting was unpleasant and  I found myself confused and disappointed, particularly as my good intentions were met with criticism, I could not be understood, and I did not understand the mindset of others.  A few hours later, I knelt before God, I struggled as to what to say, then He presented an image before me, of a woman in a black hooded cloak, miles too big for her, she began to walk and as she did so, she shed one, then two, then three cloaks, each time the cloak got brighter, and whiter, until it was glowing, and fit perfectly.  I got off my knees feeling a lot more reassured that there are times when we need to shed the rejection, and embrace what lies ahead.

Jesus illustrates this in the Bible, there are two occasions when he tells His disciples to "know when they are not wanted" He said in Matthew 10:14, that "If you are not welcomed in the city, or house you visit, shake the dust off your feet and move on", what was he saying here really, simply, move on, don't waste your time and energy, don't plead and beg, don't be a chaser, or beggar; don't try to make someone love you, like you, keep you, befriend you, "know when you are not wanted".
Keep going, even when you feel broken
On another occasion He went into a Village,  He, our King, our Healer, and our Friend, He wasn't wanted because He didn't quite meet the expectations of the Villagers in Samaria, (Luke 9:51). Jesus knew when He was not wanted and though his disciples wanted to exact revenge, and vent their anger, Jesus said, 'leave it, come on. Let's go forward'
And that's what we have to do it. Leave it alone and go forward, as hard as it is to cope with the emotional mental and physical pain, that is what we have to do. 
If you have ever been rejected, then you know what your rejection of another may feel like. 
If you have ever been excluded or ostracised, then know what your ostracism or exclusion of others may feel like.
Of course there could be an opportunity to make good what is bad, but don't seek this if you are still being treated the same way.  "Know when you are not wanted and move on".

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Every Flower is not a Fruit

So there they were, in abundance, laden with white and pink flowers. I was excited.  Plenty pears this year, and plenty plums, too.  Yes, jam, juice, and fruit.  But as I watched, they began to fall, each day, there seemed to be less and less on the trees, what was happening, who was knocking them off?
The slugs got a bashing and the so did the wind..

I stopped bragging with gardening ignorance, "NO, every flower is NOT a fruit".  I no longer felt proud to say the opposite, because it wasn't true.  Sometimes the same is for us humans.

We look good, show vibrant colours of beautiful character, we feed the" buzzing human bees" with what they want from us, but then, when we have given of ourselves we disintegrate, what do we really need to keep going? to become a fruit?
Good tender care
Good soil 
Strong roots 
Good covering
Supporting net..(work)
Shelter from the storms, great and small

What then am I left with? a small harvest, I need to nurture what I am left with, I need it surrounded and protected, I need to cherish and nourish, it.

So then what do I expect of my tree? an abundance the following year; I want to say, "Every Flower is a Fruit", I know I will lose some, I want to lose those that are weak and spindly, meaningless because they are not supposed to be there, so then "Every (remaining) Flower is a Fruit".  I don't want to hang on to them with the hope that they will become a fruit, for then they will interfere with the growth of the real fruit that needs to emerge.

Yes, I want "My flowers to be Fruit".  What about you?