Forgiveness…

Hmmm I hear you say! Another blog? 2 in 2 days? Bear with me!

As I said in my blog yesterday I have been feeling out of sorts for a few weeks now. Not ill exactly but not well. Aches and pains, headaches, generally out of sorts. And miserable, I have been miserable. So yesterday I had this moment of realisation where I realised I was feeling lonely. Like I always do, I wrote it out, published it and sat back expecting to feel better, now that I had got it out there.

But for once, the magic of putting words on paper didn’t work. I still felt miserable, still had a headache. I was perplexed and a bit cross. I felt wrong. In a bit of a tantrum I threw my hands up in the air and abandoned the rest of my day. I gave in. I made tea, a hot water bottle and a blanket and settled on the sofa with the dogs to feel sorry for myself for a bit longer.

I decided to watch a film and on the first page of suggestions for me I saw The Shack.

I read this book last year and really enjoyed it but had not sought out the film as I was expecting it to be too “religious”. But I decided to give it a go.

About a third of the way in I was tearful. By two thirds of the way in I was sobbing and by the end of the film I had had such a powerful insight it felt as though the earth had shifted on its axis. Such a seismic event must have rocked the world I thought. But outside my window children were being collected from school, mothers stood gossiping in the road, my neighbour was walking his dogs. Everything was normal.

Except it wasn’t. I experienced such a shift in consciousness that I don’t think that I will ever be the same.

You see I have spent much of my life angry. Resentful. Much of this anger is centred around my father. I have written about my father before in these pages. He left home when I was 16 and my sister was 12. He left us and my mum feeling broken and bruised, and we have all, individually continued feeling that way all our lives. It has affected our relationships with each other and with other people. For me it left a core of sadness that I don’t feel I have ever addressed. That is not to say that I have not had happiness in my life, I have had lots. But deep inside I am never surprised when bad things happen, or I feel fed up. It’s become the norm. I loved my father deeply, but there were times when I hated him too.

Just a year ago I discovered the 3 principles. I am not going to go into detail here (if you do want to know more, let me know!) but it is the spiritual belief that I have searched for all my life and underpins my new working life as a coach. I touched on it briefly yesterday. It has changed my life already and I have had a series of “popcorn” moments, some noisier than others, where my perception and beliefs have been altered, always for the better. All the way through this momentous past year I have had moments of such peace, such beautiful feelings that I thought I had put past resentment well behind me.

Back to the film. I don’t want to share the whole plot, but it is about a man, a son and a father, who experiences such pain and grief that he is lost. He has no faith. In himself, in love, in anything. He cannot see a way out of his deep misery. But he is given a chance and he learns to forgive.

Forgiveness. That was my insight. The power of forgiveness. It took my breath away.

I had NEVER forgiven my father. Recent events brought him to mind and I considered it, but still I said “I’m not ready to forgive him”.

Yesterday afternoon in a moment I forgave him. Does not mean that I will forget, and yes, I am still a bit mad at him for what he threw away. But I do forgive him. I am not sure that the decisions he made truly made him happy, but that is not relevant. In the same moment I also forgave a lot of other people. My ex-husband who chose a bottle and violence over his wife and child. Other people who have “hurt” me over the years, every perceived insult and injury that I have experienced. I forgive.

Resentment is like armour. We build it around ourselves to shield us from harm. But the problem with armour is that it keeps EVERYTHING out. In the very act of protecting ourselves we harm ourselves. To be truly happy I believe that we need to remove our armour and open ourselves to what is out there. To do that I think the most important thing is to forgive ourselves too.

Alongside the resentment and anger I have carried with me is guilt. Could I have been a better daughter, mother, lover, wife, friend, sister? Possibly. But like everyone I did the best I could with the tools I had available at the time. I did my best. I tried. I forgive myself. There is the real power of forgiveness. And love.

When I woke up this morning I felt different. I feel well. No aches and pains. I slept really well. I have energy. The world has not changed, but I have. There is new confidence, I feel able to look forward and make plans. I have not been able to do that for a while. I am sure that there will be setbacks and doubts, but also more insights to come. I look forward to them.

Horrible things happen in the world. But as Syd Banks said:

Embrace every experience. It is all part of being human. But forgive. And love. Love life, love each other.

And here is a clip from the film.

“You are not stuck because you can’t, you are stuck because you won’t”

 

 

 

 

 

The loneliness of the long distance blogger…

I had a moment of realisation very early this morning, around 5:45 am.

For a couple of weeks now I have been a little down. Not depressed really, just demotivated, lacking focus, feeling a little under the weather. Aches and pains, without being really ill – I seem to have dodged all the nasty bugs that are doing the rounds. But I have just not felt good. With Nigel working full time again, the days have seemed long and strange.

This week it got worse, and on Tuesday was so bad that I could not really drag myself out of bed. Really thought I was getting ill. I gave into it and rested all day, dealing with the physical symptoms and it worked a little.

Yesterday the sun shone, and I took the dogs to the bay. We sat for 10 minutes on the prom, exchanging pleasantries with other dog walkers and passers-by. Having 2 such handsome Labradors together always invites comment, and the dogs love the fuss they receive. I felt better.

But at the moment I feel sad. And it struck me this morning that I am feeling this way because I am feeling lonely.

Now let me just reiterate. I have no regrets. I love living here, Morecambe is amazing. I don’t miss Bishops Stortford. I certainly do not miss my mortgage! I know we have done the right thing. But…

I do miss Zoe- she is going through some major life changes and I miss not being able to hug her and see her smile. We talk all the time, but I miss her physical presence. I miss my mum, being able to just drop in for a coffee. Phone calls are great, but not quite the same.

Of course I miss my friends and colleagues. Thank heaven for Facebook huh? But again – not quite the same.

I have made friends here, and I have my friends and family in Windermere. And funnily enough my last visit to Windermere might just be what has led to me feeling this way. Let me explain.

Last time I visited south in January, Mum and I popped into town. While she was in the bank I stood in the main street and was surprised to discover how disconnected I felt. It was so familiar and yet so not “home”. A weird sensation, given that I lived in the town for 51 years of my life. But I no longer feel rooted in Bishops Stortford.

Just under 2 weeks ago I went to Windermere for some training and networking. I have roots there. From childhood, from the last few years, and something deeper. It’s a sense of “coming home”. I have never been able to explain it, but it is always there. I will never get over the pleasure of being able to get there in 35-40 minutes. But I don’t live there.

I live here, and as much as I love it, I have not yet put my roots down, they are resting on the shifting sands of the bay, leaving me unsettled and a little bit adrift.

This week, as you will know if you follow my Facebook feed, I have been discovering a little more about my beloved Corner House. I now know that it was a very happy home in the 60s and 70s, and was delighted to learn more about the original layout of the house. I know we feel a reflection of the love and laughter from that time.

Yesterday I visited the local library to talk to a local historian, a sandgrownun, born and bred in Morecambe. It was a fascinating conversation with him and a couple of others and meandered all around the town and across the bay. Also some good advice about continuing my research. So a really good meeting, but I was so jealous. I want history with my adopted town.

So expanding on my morning realisation. I want to belong. At the moment, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere.

Since my redundancy, 4 years ago now, I have found other places to belong. Pampered Chef, the fabulous Pop Connect networking groups, my new friends that I did my NLP training with. All of these groups gave me substance, they knew Penny, knew where she slotted in, let me dig my roots into their earth. I am still in touch with people from all those groups. But my roots have been uplifted and my connections are more distant.

Anyway, this morning I lay and thought about why I feel this way and how I can deal with it. There were tears. At first, I thought they were tears of self-pity. But I realised that was not true. This experience was just that. An experience. My feeling that I am lacking something that I can find in the companionship of others is me looking for solutions from the outside-in.

My new spiritual understanding, the 3 principals, shows me that my reality is created from my thoughts. Thoughts are transient, they flash through our minds all day, thousands of them. We have free will, so we can choose which thoughts we pay attention to. I have learned to quiet my mind to make space, to live in the moment. I think this is why I do not see myself as “depressed”.  I have just allowed some sad thoughts to take precedence for a while. The insight about feeling lonely this morning has given me a nudge. Nudged me back towards the grounding that I get from understanding the principles. Reminded me that my sense of belonging is inside myself, its not something that comes from elsewhere, from my location.

The tears came from me reminding myself that I have everything I need inside myself. I just need to look there.

I find it very easy to be compassionate towards others, but not always to myself. I need to show myself the same love and understanding that I would give someone else. I need to find that beautiful feeling inside myself and radiate it out to others.

Then I will find my tribe. My roots will grow down into a solid foundation and I will not be lonely anymore. The foundation for those roots is inside me and not where I happen to live at the moment. Or anywhere else in the world. My roots travel with me wherever I go.

While I have been writing this blog, this song has been playing in my head. Bless Joni, a song for every occasion. I think its about searching outside for what is inside…”Will you take me as I am…?”

Choose your words…

Last night we had a Valentines treat. We went to the local cinema to watch the live transmission of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Twelfth Night. Ade Edmondson played Malvolio and Kara Tointon (ex EastEnders) was a stunningly beautiful Olivia.

It had everything. Comedy, cruelty, pathos, love, drunkenness, yellow stockings…but best of all…it had WORDS!

I love words, I love language. Last night I was reminded just how much I love Shakespeare’s words. OK I know there is some dispute about whether they are actually his words, but let’s set that aside for now!

His words wash over you in a glorious wave of clever wit and pithy asides that delight and entertain an audience, even if they struggle to understand the language of tudor times. His stories, of course, are always relevant. Twelfth Night with all its gender issues could so easily be adapted to a story of our time. Last nights version was set in Victorian times – another era when our English vocabulary was expanded and developed.

If you have a spare moment try a Google search for Victorian slang – my particular favourite is:

Bags o’ Mystery – An 1850 term for sausages, “because no man but the maker knows what is in them. … The ‘bag’ refers to the gut which contained the chopped meat.”

But I digress!

Another of my favourite wordsmiths is the journalist Dominic Sandbrook. I will often read his articles out loud to Nigel just to roll the words he uses around my tongue. Delicious!

My father was a typesetter. He worked in Fleet Street when I was small and when I was older set up his own business called Expert Composition. This was before the days of computers when print was cast in metal. He worked on huge linotype presses and even now I can recall the hot smell of the molten metal and the sound of the characters falling into place in the machine as he typed. It had a magic about it, watching him roll ink over the metal letters to produce long galleys of printed paper that needed to be proof read. I read really, really quickly and I attribute that to reading those long lines of print, checking for spelling mistakes and incorrectly placed punctuation. There is a drawback – even now as I read newspapers and printed books I want to annotate every error I find in the margin. And Facebook? Don’t even go there!

Both my mum and my dad were avid readers. I first read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings at the tender age of 8 years old and I remember talking to my dad about it. I have read it many times since and still love it. Words are like oxygen to me.

We all know that words can affect us in many ways. They can wound, or they can heal. We throw them away without thought of where they may fall. At other times we agonise over every word we are going to use, picking them with great care. Maybe because we do not want to cause offence, or sometimes because we do.

I have always been aware of the power of words. My musical choices have often been influenced by a songwriter’s choice of lyrics. I have a song for every occasion! Usually by Joni Mitchell, who glues words together with emotion and passion, spinning them out on a thin melodic silver thread for us to cling to when drowning in our own heartfelt moments of sentiment.

Words link me to my past. Memories of my dad, of my angst-ridden-joni-listening moments in my teens. Times when I have not said the words that I was thinking out loud and then never got the chance. Whether they were to tell someone how much I loved them, or to stick up for myself when other people’s words cut me in half.

The power of words. Choose them wisely!

Anyway back to Shakespeare. Do you know how many phrases that we use today can be attributed to him? Every forsooth that you utter….I’m joking!

Here are just a few

Makes you think huh?

In a little humourous nod the the baird, this blog’s choice of song is from another play, or rather from a modern interpretation of one. Kiss me Kate, loosely based on The Taming of The Shrew. Enjoy!

This is dedicated….

Today is my husband’s 53rd birthday, our first in Morecambe.

On September 12th we will have been together for 15 years and married for 10 of them. We are planning to renew our vows and throw a party!

I have spent the day baking cakes for him to take to work at his new job tomorrow (a day late I know, but better late than never!), and preparing a special dinner for him, a throwback to the 80’s when the best place to eat was a Berni Inn – kind of an in joke with us.

Anyway, its been quite a year and I am feeling very sentimental – even more than usual! Haha!

For those of you who don’t know, we met on the internet in 2003 on a website called makefriendsonline.com. Although I had been using internet dating this was site where I went for reasonably intelligent conversation on message boards and at the time I was not really looking for anyone, having got used to being on my own with Zoe and quite liking it.

I got back from a holiday in Greece and there was a message in my in box. I looked and checked out his picture and thought he had a nice face so answered. Within a few days we were talking on the phone and within 2 weeks we met up for a meal in a pub. Six months later he moved in and 5 years to the day after we met we married in Bishops Stortford.

I gained a whole new ENORMOUS family who welcomed Zoe and I in with open arms. We actually met 18 members of his family at the same time! Now that was scary! But they are wonderful and I feel blessed.

Anyway, that’s our history.

I did think that maybe I should wait to write this blog until our anniversary, but it feels appropriate to write it now.

I was quite damaged when I met Nigel. Angry, bitter and frightened of my own shadow. Zoe and I between us really put him through the mill. He inadvertently paid for every actual and perceived hurt that either of us had suffered previously and he was required to prove himself many times over. But he is made of very strong stuff and here we are, together in our new home with a brand new life.

Its not all be rosy, like everyone, we have had our ups and downs, but we have always come through, usually with humour, always with love.

So on his birthday I just want to say a public thank you to Nigel, my husband and best friend.

Thank you for always being so strong, always being there for me to lean on. Thank you for all the love and laughter along the way and thank you for giving me the courage to start our new life in Morecambe. Thank you for your patience and the way you believe that I can do anything that I want! Thank you!

I can’t wait for the next 15 years! Its definitely getting better!