Thursday, 24 May 2012

It is never too late to have a happy childhood

My Aunt gave me a challenge this week to write her a poem about childhood, and after writing my blog on love – which managed to depress me deeply for the whole weekend (!) – I very much enjoyed writing this poem.  It made me think how fleeting childhood is especially watching my son grow up who is now a very tall 14 years old with enormous feet!  Not sure what I am feeding him ……
So with a whimsical smile all the time I wrote my poem, feeling the happy memories of childhood come back where just climbing a tree brought such pleasure and those feeling of excitement that used well up and up in me till I thought I would explode!  Of course not all of childhood was great with those mixed up feelings as you the approach teenage years and the beginnings of pressure and responsibility but on the whole I think most of us would like to have a little time of being a child again.  It’s still there, some of those feelings of childhood – I still love playing card games, I love spending time with nature and dipping my toes in the sea and much much more.  I have loved being a mother living some of my childhood through my son as he was growing up.  In fact I very much miss those years now and wish I had had more children.

For many years now it has been hard to find the child inside me, and only had snatches of it.  Being blighted with fear, depression and illness has brought with it many burdens of adult responsibility and angst and also in many ways made my son grow up quicker in some areas than he should have done. 
I had a happy childhood and feel honoured to have had one like this because many people have not had happy childhoods and maybe only fleeting memories and glimpses, and the pressures of living in this world today means that the nature of childhood has also changed with what I feel has been a loss of innocence.  But then the nature of childhood is always evolving and changing across different cultures, through the ages and due to poverty, wealth and affluence.

In fact when I come to think of it many of my childhood traits have stayed with me – I find it easy to approach and meet people but hard to maintain meaningful friendships (although this has go easier as I have got older and funnily enough improved since I have had cancer!).  I know many people who still have some of their childhood traits and usually it is not the better ones - probably because the negative kind of childish behaviour is more noticeable!
More importantly to me now, again since having cancer, is to try and capture some of those childhood feelings of being carefree, taking the time out to experience some of the more simple pleasures, to be more spontaneous, to feel the excitement of life and express the feelings of pure joy and to freely laugh – doing more things that I enjoy and sharing more things that my son enjoys. With life being full of worry over the last few years my son has missed out on having a mother who enjoyed those years of his childhood and, although the things he enjoys now are different, I don’t want to pass this by much longer before it’s too late because soon he will grow more and I may have to wait until I have grandchildren to be able to see through a child’s eyes again – and that could be a long wait!

Having cancer can be liberating in many ways because you do re-evaluate your life priorities, and although I am not at full strength yet and have days when I still don’t feel well despite treatment now well over three months ago, I have now have the freedom both inside and out to feel that I can once again explore the pursuit of happiness and find more of that child within. 

So here is the poem

Have you ever ….

Have you ever cycled down a steep steep hill feet off the pedals wind in your hair, and danced in wild abandon in the pouring rain? Have you ever skipped through a sun beamed meadow without a care in the world, on lush green grass making daisy chains?

 Have you ever bounced and bounced as high as you can a springing jumping bean turning and spinning till dizzy?  Have you ever smelt the air of candy floss, and felt the trepidation of rides all whirly and whizzy? 

Have ever been frightened of monsters in your wardrobe dived under the covers quivering with torch in hand, escaping the menace of shadowy shadows startling at every creaky sound - barricaded by teddies taking  a stand?

Have you ever walked on your hands, stood on your head, did rolly pollies or cartwheels down the hill, bent like a crab, or leapt on your bed until the springs creaked or just tried to see how long you could stay still.

Have your ever sat in a box and whiled away your time -  it’s a house, it’s a car, it’s a boat a plane high in the sky?  Have you ever been a super hero saving the world, a gun totting cowboy an Indian, a princess a spy?

Have you ever had an invisible friend, a language all of your own, felt surrounded by others but left out of the a group in isolation, the delusion of inclusion, breaking and making friends without hesitation?

Have you ever been tallest, the smallest the strongest the weakest the fastest and ran a race just to take part?  Dribbled and kicked, hula hooped, skated, arm wrestled, knuckled, hopped skipped and jumped just for a lark.

Have you ever had scraped bloody knees, fell out of a tree, been muddy from head to toe?  Have you ever skimmed stones on a shimmering pond, splashed in puddles, swung high in the air and slipped down a slippery slope going with the flow?

Have you ever had a loving squashy bear hug, a sloppy wet kiss, played hide and seek, pleasure from just holding hands? Have you ever had wide toothless grin, wriggly giggles from tickly tickles been patted on the head, and pinched on the cheek?

Have you ever been in your own fairy tale, in magic just trusted and believed?  Scared of Snow White’s wicked evil witch, had eyes as big as saucers in awe and wonder and that sinking feeling when you have been deceived? 

Have you ever been an angel, shepherd or donkey, acted, sang out tune and wobbled on a stage, shouted “oh no it isn’t “ or “ look behind you”, cheered and booed and clapped till it hurt, or couldn’t wait to turn a page?

Have you ever been trekking blackberry picking, stealthily stole apples from a tree, built a secret camp out of twigs and branches, or dug a hole in the sand?  Have your ever warmed your hands by a crackling fire, sat on the beach starring out to sea trying to understand?

Have you ever felt the thrill of a dark night under canvas, staring into the heavens, looking up at a starry night sky and the man in the moon?  Stayed up to late planning midnight feasts, thrill of not going to bed being up with the freshness of dawn.

Have you ever had a petulant frown, tantrums before bedtime and felt that life just isn’t fair; been selfish for your own gratification, just wanting attention, stamped your feet in pure frustration and sulked in a corner with a glare?

Have you ever been so excited just by anticipation of a special occasion, questioning and questing till the answer you get?  Have you ever longed and yearned for time off from study then bored in the hot summer days ahead and adventures never met?

Have you been boastful of achieving and hid about failing being wrong and said you were right? Cried on stair listening to murmured conversation, been sent to your room in quiet isolation, moaning and wailing about your plight.

 Have you ever sucked ice-cream from the bottom of the cone, enchanted by penny mixed sweets? Have ever ate chocolate until you felt sick, stuffed with a roast, sponge and custard and then wanted more treats.

Have you ever just snuggled snug and warm in bed with those you most love, a moment of safety all secure, dreaming of all the things that you want -  whispering secrets and muffled laughter  all so innocent and pure.

Have you ever challenged the status quo came up with your own style or just wanted to create?  Glue on your hand a second skin, a picture of superlative paint, ribbons and stickers, all things that glitter a kaleidoscope colours and things to make.

Have you ever been elated by a shiny new coin under your pillow and shouted with joy at the top of your voice, everything all fresh and new?  Have you ever experienced such seasons so simple yet complicated safe in the things that you knew?

It has to be said if you never had these things, a childhood you have never led.  This is just a sample list and to my mind much has been missed, the memories of innocence, joy and pain lost in the mist of time.  

 But It’s not too late to feel the child within and snatch back some of these carefree days, for child in you never go away despite the of burden of adult ways.

“That great Cathedral space which was childhood.” - Virginia Woolf
“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colours are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” -  Elizabeth Lawrence

“It is never too late to have a happy childhood” - Tom Robbins
 “Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains...” - Diane Ackerman

“Childhood is the world of miracle or of magic: it is as if creation rose luminously out of the night, all new and fresh and astonishing” – Eugene Ionesco
 “If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”  Tom Stoppard

 “Jesus said, "Let little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  - Matthew19:14

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Gift of Love

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (NIV).

 While going through my cancer treatment I often reflected on the nature of love, the different kinds of love, and the different ways each of us have at showing it – this was part of my personal introspective spiritual journey which often involved reflecting on the gift of love which is a wondrous thing.

“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, and the amazement of the Gods. “ Plato

I know this is a huge and complicated subject one that has been explored for centuries and I probably can’t do it justice here and satisfy everyone’s views and opinions of love – I can only put my own spin on it and tell where my journey has led me.  Warning its quite a long blog!

“I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it. I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence. “ - Theodore Dreiser

The main thing I have learned is that love is not necessarily about people spending time with you, or needing you, but about being there for you no matter what and vice versa.   It’s about acceptance and letting go.  Accepting that people won’t always be the people you want them to be, act the way you want them to act, or do what you want them to do and finally by letting go of your expectations and loving them for whom they are.

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. “ Victor Hugo

Despite believing this though, my expectations of love have been high - particularly with regard to unconditional love over the last few years or so - and you can push love to its limits whether is regarding colleagues, friendship, family or lovers.

 “ Love is when you need someone to be a part of your life, even when they are boring and dumb and rude, because you know they will again have one of those moments where they shine and that light is what you need to survive.” – Unknown

Of course there are different degrees of love - love of animals, your children, lovers, husbands and wives, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews, friends, colleagues, of God and humanity itself.  Each has a part of my heart.  The love has always there but I also believe that for someone to grow deeper love, they also have to go through some pain.  Just as there is different degrees in loving there are also different degrees of pain and suffering and it is through this that we learn how to love.

“Love is giving someone the ability to destroy you but trusting them not to do it” – unknown

The Greeks had just four words for love: affection, friendship, Eros, and charity.  Loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and understanding; are just four qualities of heart that reside within everyone or at least has the potential to do so.  I believe that love can be strengthened through practice.  This is very much recognised in Buddhism.  It can be easy to say you love all things in the abstract, but it can be a great challenge to do so when we have to live with them. It is one thing to love and another to express that love in daily life.  I do try to cultivate the ability to bring love into all aspects of my life and to all people I encounter.  This is not as easy as it sounds!  Learning how to include love’s presence while we speak to others, live with others, and are in conflict with them can be very difficult.

A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge. “ Thomas Carlyle

I have a great affection for many different people.  This kind of love has been described as the most natural, emotive, and complicated of loves: natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity; and complicated because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed "valuable" or worthy of love.  Its strength is also what makes this kind of love vulnerable and as a result people come to expect, even to demand, its presence—irrespective of their behaviour and its natural consequences.  With my immediate family it’s all about unconditional love whereas with my some of extended family it has seemed more about keeping within rules and boundaries – some of which I seem to have broken.  Sometimes we expect too much of our families and expect them to be a friend instead.  I think my expectations of unconditional love were probably too high.

“Love is when the one person in the world that shouldn’t make you cry just happens to be the one person in the world that makes you cry the most”- Malinda

I came across a meditation recently to help you to forgive those who have hurt you and those you have hurt to forgive you, and by the very act of forgiveness attracting love and contentment in your life (rather than obsessing on the issues of the past) and moving forward.  So while relaxing in the sun, visualise the person walking on to a stage.  See a white loving light of the universe pouring through your heart surrounding them. Tell them how you feel.  Hear their replies.  Forgive them and hear them forgive you.  See a scythe of white light cutting the cords that bind you together releasing negativity.  Let the cord return to the person as they leave the stage.  The next time you think of them, the connection will be lighter, making way for more light, joy and love in your life.

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (NLT) Proverbs 17:9

Friendship is freely chosen and seems the happiest and most fully human of all loves. Sometimes we tend to ignore the importance of this kind of love.  Again there are different degrees of friendship and our ideas of what it means to be a good friend, a close friend, a really close friend or a best friend are all different.  We may describe someone as a friend,  to which we enjoy each other's company, are useful to one another, and share a common commitment to the good' .  Friends rely on each other both for support and a sense of personal identity, but also accept that each needs the space to develop relationships with others.

“It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality” - Aristotle

“Material things can't make the soul whole. Only the love, trust, and loyalty of friends can do that. – Unknown

My idea of a good friend is a person who will hold my hand when I’m scared, helps fight off those who try to take advantage of me, thinks of me at times when I am not there, reminds me of what I have forgotten, helps me to put the past behind me but also understands when I  need to hold on to it a little longer, stays with me so that I have confidence, goes out of their way to make time for me, helps me clear up my mistakes, and  helps me deal with pressure from others, smiles for me when they are sad, helps me to become a better person, and most importantly loves me!  I know very high expectation but one I would reciprocate in every way!

"Friendship that flows from the heart cannot be frozen by adversity, as the water that flows from the spring cannot congeal in winter." - James Fennimore Cooper

During my cancer journey I lost a few friends but also became closer to others. I tried to ponder why I lost some friends – and think some of it was because I suddenly found myself disconnected from dozens of people who were my "friends".   I was lax in returning calls mainly because I was going through a tough time and found myself not really up to talking to anyone and also became very inwardly focused.  Most of my friends understood this and gave me space when I needed it although I can understand why others may have felt snubbed (this is the same for family as well).  Some People just didn’t know what to say so avoided me not being able to handle the negativity of my illness. I am certainly a different person now than when I was first diagnosed with cancer and although it has hurt to lose friends I have made some new friendships whose relationships are now developing and flourishing.

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person. “ W. Somerset Maugham

Eros is the kind of love which I don’t have right now and not sure if I do want – although it’s not completely off the agenda!!! This is all about making a strong emotional connection with another person - a type of love that creates excitement at the beginning of a new relationship where some people experience love with a lot of passion, intimacy and intensity.   It’s not necessarily a healthy kind of love and can become dangerous if it becomes idealised.  Rolled into this is that some people experience love as a game to be played with other people’s emotions to gain control over a partner through manipulation.  For people who experience this kind of love, it is satisfying to outwit a partner and exploit his or her weaknesses.  I have lived through this kind of love in many various ways and say no thank you!

“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.” – Dr Joyce Brothers

“Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love. “ Leo Buscaglia

Love can be overwhelming experience; resulting in a complete loss of one’s identity.  Some people love tends to burnout before it gets the chance to mature. People who experience this kind of love are easily taken advantage of – I am not getting caught in this trap again either!

"Sometimes we must get hurt in order to grow, we must fail in order to know, and sometimes our vision clears only after our eyes are washed away with tears." – Unknown

Charity is the love that brings forth caring regardless of the circumstance and some sees this as the greatest of loves.  Charity came into English from Latin and Old French, meaning love and care for our neighbours.  Some people experience this kind of love as being the caregiver or nurturing -  attentive, caring, compassionate and  kind - a more altruistic or selfless type of love. If you like, defined as “humanism”.   This kind of love has many faces, such as a warm smile to strangers, a personal thank-you-letter, an encouraging hug, an unexpected phone call, a thoughtful word of appreciation, a bonding with a person in grief, a prayer for the healing of others, a heartfelt forgiving when you are wronged.  All this is done not out of duty or responsibility but out of the abundance of warmth and love you feel welling up inside you.  

 “ You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love. “ Henry Drummond

This is the love I am trying to encourage and grow within me not just the feeling, but by actions. It is the kind of love I have most appreciated on my cancer journey which has taught me most of all compassion.  You may not call it yourself love, but I think I would call it the most natural kind of love and one which is shared by all people because we are born with it.   I don’t want to be the kind of person who loves, but only in response to the love shown towards me.  I want to be able to love freely, not judge people and dismiss them because of their views, or feelings, their background or the way they look or talk.  

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." - Mother Teresa

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV) 1 John 3:18

I am not looking to become the perfect person far from it - every day frustrations interfere, and I have also had to learn another valuable lesson in that I need to love myself as well – that also means taking care of myself from a health perspective and despite what I have gone through I am not very good at that either! It’s something I do have to keep practicing like working the muscles in my ankle. Loving doesn’t mean not getting angry or disappointed it just means doing what is right from your heart.  You may disagree with me on several aspects in this blog – but a least you are having a debate with your heart and yourself (or others) on the nature of love!

“Love is the foundation from which your decisions about your life should be made. “ Darren L. Johnson

However, you never know the strength or what the capacity of loving can do if you don’t take a risk and dive in and what joy and happiness it can give you as well!

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." - David Viscottus

 “There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved: It is God's finger on man's shoulder. “ Charles Morgan

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Get Stuffed!

Now I just can't stop putting my thoughts into rhyme!

Don’t make mountains out of molehills
A trickling stream to roaring sea
A gentle breeze to a hurricane
A sapling into a tree

Don’t split hairs down the middle
Argue black is blue
Look for the missing comma
Make one plus zero two

Don’t judge without knowing
Acover is not a book
Expect the worst it might not be
Or jump before you look

Don’t speak without thinking
Listen but don’t hear
Think you’re always right
Give in to what you fear

 Don’t let people get you down
Tell you how to love
What to read or to believe
Just tell them to get stuffed!

"The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people's lives than you will from the time that you outdid and defeated them." Gary Coleman

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My cancer Journey

My cancer journey
a poem of discovery
Huddled on the sofa, sad and oh so frail waiting for that knock on the door freedom from her jail
It wasn’t much she asked for just a chat a friendly smile, too weak and so low a phone to dial
Pretending to be happy, pretending to be strong worn out by the struggle to keep up with the on-going song
Finding solace in her words, comfort in her heart others didn’t appreciate the truthfulness setting her apart
Alone in a tangle of messy emotional thoughts, out of sight out of mind fearful of her faults
Quietly slowly strength returned, a break for normality pulled back down to earth again dragged into senility
Body poisoned, toxic, hairless, not knowing who she is, tense and stressed confused that something has been missed.

These were the bad days …..

Huddled on the sofa sheltering from the storm, coming through the darkness to God’s bright welcoming dawn
Kindness and friendship melting bitter cold becoming her own person her soul she hasn’t sold
Holding on to love petty concerns let go, calming passing days not living for tomorrow
No hiding in the shadows, defence against the dusk, no longer looking at herself with fear and disgust
No more waiting for family friends who did not seem to care or stuck within just four walls left to stare
Thankful and grateful despite what she had lost, rich in compassion, patience laughing at the cost
Marvelling at world at each bit of happiness not looking back in anger feeling weak but fearless

These were the better days ….

Huddled on the sofa on her way to recovery raring to go, what to do today going with the flow
Treatment now all over, coming through the worst walking in the sunshine putting herself first
Friendships lost, stronger ones forged, a life no longer on hold, the button come off pause,
Life ups and downs can firmly be faced; peaceful in the world she now knows her place
Life new normality a future she can see, no apologies expectations she is who you see, she is me
Walking tall; achievements of which she’s proud, life small accomplishments shouting in joy out loud
She will not bow my head, be humble and said she did it wrong, because I have come through cancer and the person I am now is strong!

These are the good days

When I ended my traumatic marriage and succumbed to depression, I kept a journal on my computer of poetry, events and short stories but kept these personal for myself.  In the past in I did the same – especially after my mother died of ovarian cancer - as a way of getting through my grief, my anger and mixed up feelings.  May be one day I will blog some of those thoughts and poems but more importantly doing this has helped me get through some of my darkest times. 
When I was diagnosed with cancer and had so much time on my hands my blog also came a way to help me get through a tough and deliberating time but this time I opened up my the hopes, grief, anger and mixed up feelings in my life to my friends, family and others in the hopes that by sharing I wouldn’t just be helping myself come to terms with having cancer, but also may be help others on their own personal cancer journeys and that we all sometimes share common feelings, troubles and thoughts.  I wanted my blog to be truthful, light-hearted in some ways, as positive as possible and informative where necessary and full of quotes that had meaning to me at the time of blogging and hopefully they would also resonate with those reading my blog.  I am proud of what I have achieved through my blog and where it has taken me on my journey and I will never allow others to tell me differently.

Although now just over two months through my recovery and life is looking up, there are still reminders of my treatment – my big toe nail fell off the other day(!) and I still sometimes feel exhausted for no real reason and my emotions are still a bit up and down.  But the plusses outweigh the negatives and I am keeping busy with equipping my new flat, going back to work and trying to get a social life again now I can almost walk properly again after breaking my ankle – it’s time to dance again!

The one thing I haven’t done within my blog is my own poetry – it just wouldn’t come to me -  but the above poem at the beginning of my blog is my first attempt, a work-in-progress if you like, of a poem of my cancer journey – critics please feel free to comment!!!
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”   santiz Dr. Seuss quotes

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”-  Maya Angelou quotes

To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.” Anon

Confidence is feeling satisfied with who and what we are” - unknown “
"I certainly don’t regret my experiences because without them, I couldn’t imagine who or where I would be today. Life is an amazing gift to those who have overcome great obstacles, and attitude is everything!” Sasha Azeved

 'Have you ever realized that when .. people say you’ve changed it’s just because you’ve stopped living your life ... their way” - Unknown