Beautiful exchange . . .

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It must be two years ago that I bought this piece from an artist friend: check her out on fb and instagram: rachelhannaart. And yet it was only a month or so ago I finally had it framed. In asking where the inspiration for the piece came from (after I’d bought it), Rachel said Malachi 3:10 and the exchange of blessing between us and God.

And maybe that’s why it took so long for me to get the painting framed . . . because there was a time there in the midst of my struggle with depression, that despite all my effort, I felt I wasnt seeing any blessing coming down. So in that time . . . I had no desire to find the cash, to have it framed and on display. And so it remained flat in its box labelled: Beauitful exchange. And yet despite the conflict between what it represented and my personal experience, somehow I could never give it away. And then the time came, when all that changed . . .

In the process of overcoming depression, I had some things things that needed to be burnt (not literally but cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually) for my own benefit.

It was in letting go of those ‘things’: the (seemingly) good, the bad, and the ugly, that I started to see the beginning of that exchange taking place.

Then I went public with sharing my journey, through my writing (albeit somewhat reluctant at making myself so vulnerable and exposed) and the exchange escalated. Through conversations wih God and writing it down, as I gave up my pain piece by piece, healing came down with peace and then more peace.

And so it is, this piece of writing is the result of my peace through healing:

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It’s finally in a frame!
Painted by a friend,
Titled: ‘Beautiful exchange’

Ev’ry good & perfect ‘flame’
A gift heaven sent,
And that He’ll never change.

With Malachi as his name,
Bless up in Three:Ten
Blessing comes down in exchange.

Let it all go: pain, guilt, shame,
Releasing loose ends,
I find it is all quite strange.

By writing up of my pain,
This healing, the mend.
That only He could arrange!

The poetry of a single mark.

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A while back after attending a worshop to ‘explore’ my creative expression, I wrote this piece: https://helenpowellpens.com/2017/06/11/it-all-starts-with-a-single-mark/

Then soon after that, I wrote the piece below of . . . ahh . . . umm . . . poetry?  If you can call it that?  I dont really like poetry, just because sometimes I find it too abstract, too cryptic for me to understand.  In those times, I just want to say: “Say what you mean, rather than speaking in riddles.” And yet all too frequently I find myself with words, sentences, and rhymes in my head, nagging at my thoughts, like they’re longing to be expressed.  So hopefully, I’m not writing riddles myself.  Because while I dont always know how to articulate the words, sentences and rhymes in my thoughts, I have come to conclude that maybe that’s all part of the process.  So here it is:

The stroke of a brush.
The drag of a twig.

Go ahead just make a start.
The imitation of life is art!

Pick up a tool in your hand.
Do not conform to any one brand.

Free colour it as you choose.
With what is available to use.

Like dragging twigs and brush strokes.
Not all marks turn out like your hopes.

By accepting, then adding.
Ever expanding and creating.

Nothing perfect, but ’tis ink
It’s you, and it has your finger print.

What finger print are you leaving on the canvas that is your life?

Wordthy!

As a writer, I’ve learnt over the years to write down that random thought, to take that random photo, even when I don’t understand it, or see a reason for it. Because experience has taught me (with hindsight) the feeling of regret when the understanding or the reason comes later, but it’s incomplete because I didn’t listen to and act on the initial prompt.

And now as I sort out all the notes in my phone …. like pieces in a jig saw puzzle, I am connecting two separate pieces I’d forgotten about, written just over 12 months apart.

Written on 30/07/2017:
I never realised that in feeling that my verbal words weren’t valid or of value, that this also translated to my writing, and my perception that my written words were not valid or of any value. And as a result, slowly . . . but surely, I was being silenced, by my own misperceptions of self.

For all the years of regret I held on to.
For not speaking up to defend myself.
For not speaking up when I should have, or could have.
For realising after the fact that in that moment I should have said, could have said . . . but at the time the words weren’t there.
For not being able to articulate my thoughts into words, that I could then push them out past my teeth.
For at times not even having any actual thoughts in the first place, but instead left with an awkward blank canvas inside my head.
For being too fearful to challenge comments and judgements spoken to me, by those in authority, those who intimidate me, or that I’m intimidated by. (There’s a difference there.)
For my own internal struggle about the discrepancy between my speaking ability & my writing ability. Perception and reality.

We believe what we perceive,

because our perception is our reality,

but it’s not always the truth.

When I write, I get to tweak it as many times as I like before I post it.
But when I speak, the ‘post’ is immediate. The words are out! There is no ‘tweaking’ to then speak as though speaking for the first time.
So while you may perceive me as articulate,
It’s more likely I’m feeling ridiculous.
And whether you believe me or not,
I’m telling the truth, this is my lot.

Created on 15/08/2018:
A creative workshop run by my church, led by Rachel and Bronwyn. My inspiration diminishes under pressure, and so at this event all I got was a single word: ‘Wordthy!’ A mish mash of: Your words are worthy!

Then followed some other words:

perfectly imperfect: my words don’t have to be perfect before I write them down.

Silent voice heard on paper: for those words that I never speak out, but I write them, because that’s the only way to get them out.

Vulnerability: because it is about being vulnerable.

Expose:  It is totally! To be uncovered. To reveal the true.

Trust God: that the process of writing is first and foremost (but not only), for my benefit.

The healing pen: indeed it has been, still is, and continues to be!

Then in the middle of that night, unable to sleep, I wrote this:

Wordthy!
Your words are worthy

Worthy of being spoken.
Worthy of being read.
Worthy of being written.
in more than erasable lead.

Worthy of being heard.
Worthy of being spread.
For future generations.
To catch, even after ya’ dead.

My two favourite lines are:
‘in more than erasable lead’
because our words (both negative and positive) are powerful to pull down or to build up. It makes me think about all the negative words spoken over me that became like that of permanent ink. But why then is it that so many positive words spoken over me seem to have been quickly forgotten as though erased from the page that is my day? And so I’m working to ensure that my own words are ‘wordthy’ of being scribed ‘in more than erasable lead.’

To catch, even after ya’ dead’
I think of all the famous quotes and inspirational speeches, that were spoken by those now passed. I am one person of their future generations.
So I challenge myself, are my words ‘wordthy’ of being spread, to the future generations, even afta I’m dead?

The see-saw of friendship.

It was just another day at the local swimming pool for our weekly lesson as part of our physical education class in Secondary School.  I wasn’t a very good swimmer, and nor was my friend ‘Kaye’.  So while the rest of our class were in the deep end of the pool practising for their Life Saving Certificate, Kaye and I weren’t allowed to go any deeper than where we could stand on the bottom of the pool with our heads still above water.

On this day Kaye and I were practising our skills at treading water and dog paddling.  Then our swimming teacher had a ‘brilliant’ idea to get us more involved.  So we were called up to the deep end of the pool, and told to stay close to the side, so we had something to hold onto if we needed to.

Everyone was paired up with a buddy, including Kaye and I . . . with each other.  While the rest of the class were practising for their certificate, our teacher felt the life-saving skill was a good one to have, and so Kaye and I would also participate in the learning process.

Then one person from each pair was sent out away from the poolside to tread water, representing the ‘drowning’ swimmer in need of being rescued.  Then the second person in each pair the ‘rescuer’ would swim out, approach the ‘drowning’ from behind (which protects the rescuer from being attacked by the drowning), embracing them across the shoulders, under the jaw with one arm, pulling them onto their back for the ‘rescuer’ to then return them both to the pool side using a side paddle stroke with their other arm.  Or something like that . . .  this was 35 years ago . . . and a skill I never did successfully acquire.

I knew I didn’t have the ability to be the ‘rescuer’ as I could barely swim for myself, let alone swim for two of us.  But I thought I could at least tread water long enough for this task, and Kaye is surely the better swimmer.   So I volunteered to be the ‘drowning’ swimmer moving out only a little way from the poolside, and I started treading water.  Then my ‘rescuer’ and best friend swam out to rescue me . . . or at least that was her plan.  But as she reached me from in front,  already tired from treading water, I grabbed hold of her  . . . and so the disaster unfolded . . .  under the water, then above the water gasping for air, before going under the water again.  Unbeknown to me in my state of panic (until after the event), Kaye and I were like a see- saw in the water.  I had hold of her shoulders, and she had hold of mine.  When I was up she was down, and when she was up I was down.  In trying to save ourselves  . . . we were drowning each other!

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Eventually, our teacher realised our predicament and sent out the exemplary swimming student, who pulled us apart.  Kaye was then able to swim to the poolside, and I was rescued by the school ‘spunk’ with his newly acquired life-saving skills.  Needless to say, he was successful in achieving his certificate that day.

For many years I had a scar as a memoir.  A scar from when Kaye’s hand must have hit my chest wall, and one of her finger nails dug in and drew blood.  Thankfully this event did not drown or scar our friendship, and we went on to survive all of secondary school together . . . and for some years beyond.

And so once again . . .  I see how that experience reflects real life experiences of my own.  And maybe you can relate?  Back to friendship(s) where you were in effect unintentionally ‘drowning’ the other while trying to save yourself, or vice versa in that they were ‘drowning’ you.  Or maybe it’s a case of you ‘drowning’ yourself in order to save/promote/lift up a friend?   All of which are unhealthy foundations for a good, solid, healthy friendship.  Behaviours that are the result of brokenness and wrong self-beliefs that lead to toxic behaviours, as you search the outside world, looking to find something to fill whatever it is you feel lacking inside of you.  When you’re in over your head, not seeing the situation for what it is, and the only way out is when someone else sees the situation, and acts to separate, so as to rescue both parties from each other.

Friendships need to be balanced. Like kids of similar weight on a see-saw . . . alternating up and down.  An unbalanced see-saw is no fun . . . where the struggle to ‘see-saw’ easily is difficult due to the ‘weight’ of the person on the other end.  And so it is with friends.  While we need to support and encourage one another, making allowances for the varying seasons we all go through . . . we still need to choose our friends carefully: as they can determine the course of our life.  Sometimes without us even being aware of their influence.

The Innocent curse!
Despise not your innocence
For you know not what you have
Til it’s lost to experience
And you cant get back what you gave.

I remember as a teenager my mum at times accusing me of ‘changing’ and she’d say . . . “It’s that girl you hang out with . . . she’s a bad influence on you!”  I couldn’t see it then.  But as an adult, with hind sight on life experience, I can see some ‘stuff’ all too clearly now.  Not that it was all their fault, or all my fault . . . but that their issues meshed with my issues, bringing about behavioural changes in us both, that were like that of an unbalanced see-saw.  Not moving fluidly between the ‘ups and downs’ . . . it was dysfunctional, it was non-functional.   Choices and compromises made that once would never have been considered.  While some such friendships just naturally fizzle out, others seem to feed on the dysfunction as it serves to meet a deeper need.  And so the downward spiral begins . . .

Issues can act like a repellent,
driving each other in the opposite direction.
Or attract like a magnet,
establishing a setup for enmeshment.

I think sometimes it’s due to a deep longing for: Acceptance, Assurance, and Adequacy in who we are.  It’s the AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm) of our emotional core.   An ever increasing and weakening part of the vessel that can rupture at any moment . . . a ticking time bomb . . . that if not dealt with in time, could well be fatal.

We too can find ourselves rupturing emotionally when we seek to find Acceptance, Assurance, and Adequacy from others, instead of seeking to find it within ourselves.  So it is, we all need to deal with our own issues before the ‘time bomb’ ruptures.  Cause it will rupture, if it’s not dealt with.  It’s just a matter of time.

It’s not an ‘outside job’ for others to bear.
But an ’inside job’ in need of repair.

In my own experience, at various times and in different situations, I’ve been both: the friend with toxic behaviours, and the friend of those with toxic behaviours.  Oblivious (or in denial) to my own influence and impact.  Not ever having fully dealt with my own AAA issues.   Resulting in an outcome that was never what was intended.  Dealing with guilt, shame, regret and consequential judgements.  That which cannot be explained with any amount of words, but to know in entirety, the meaning behind: “cause it hurts when you hurt somebody”   (Hurt Somebody by Noah Kahan and Julia Michaels.)

As I learnt on that day in the swimming pool, participating in the ‘learning process’ can be costly, especially when you’re in deep water over your head, unable to stand up, and unskilled to be able to manage the situation in water too deep.  It was almost a fatal learning process!

And so in the hope that by sharing this, I may prevent someone from having to go through the ‘learning process’ for themselves . . .  here’s some thoughts:

  • Don’t let your choice of friends be a fatal (or even near fatal) learning process.
  • Don’t go in over your head, where you know it’s too deep, despite what anyone says.
  • There may not always be a ‘skilled rescuer’ on site to separate you from your choices.
  • Don’t look to people as your ‘rescue’ source: they may not be as equipped as you think they are.
  • Don’t seek to be the ‘rescuer’ unless you’re in a ‘healthy, skilled’ position to do so safely.

My black leather mantra

img_20181026_214759~26372090587369504482..jpgSeveral weeks ago, while scrolling through facebook I found a leather band I really liked on an online jewellery site.  I like things with a message or a meaning attached to them, and so this black leather band with the words ‘strong and courageous’ engraved on a silver metal plate, seemed to be for me.  And yes you can ask: “Why?”

Because some time back a friend likened these words in the book of Joshua to me.  At a time when I certainly didnt ‘feel’ it, as I struggled to hold it together while everything in my world crumbled around me.  Then at another time, while listening to a message by my Pastor about stepping it out (right at the time I was contemplating a business venture) and again this was the scripture!  It struck me like a slap to the back of my head.  So while I don’t see myself as having either of these qualities . . . apparently I do.  And so I figure I should remind myself of this . . . and build on them, within myself.

I’m fighting for strength and courage.

What are you fighting for?

So when I saw this website promotion, I investigated further.  I scoured through their range and came back to this piece.  But I don’t usually wear black, I’m more of a brown colour person myself.  But in this case, the black didnt deter me, as I felt that this was more about the message it carries, than the material it is made of.  So I went ahead with the order only to discover that that black leather band was $48.  Eek!  That’s more than I would usually spend!  But sometimes it’s more about the engraved words, than it is about it’s perceived worth.  Then $16.95 for postage!  Again, sometimes it’s more about the piece, than it is about the price.  But the price is creeping up . . . and up!  Then onto the last page of the order process: the ‘Thankyou your order has been confirmed’ page.  And there it is, the disclaimer:  ‘Please note that sometimes international orders incur additional customs/import fees for which we are not responsible for.’  Ohhhh beware the ‘prickles’ that did arise that this piece of information would only appear on their page after the order has been placed, and not before.  While I understand they’re not responsible for the additional charges, I find it somewhat ‘sneaky’ to only inform the buyer of this after they make their purchase.

So then it was to wait for the deduction from my card to see what this amount would be . . . $91.92.  So that’s $26.97 in additional fees for being non American. Grrr!!!  I felt manipulated.  I felt misled.  I felt ripped off.  And now I felt trapped having placed the order, paying the price above and beyond what I thought, wondering if it was all going to be worth it or not?  I contemplated cancelling my order, but instead I went to their FB site to see what feedback was there in the comments.  Was I the most recent in a long line of ‘suckers’ to incur such ‘additional’ costs?  But then . . . not one single negative comment (and maybe the comments are configured that way) but ultimately the theme through all the comments that were there, from both ‘first time’ and ‘multiple times’ buyers was that each piece is totally worth every dollar of the expense.  EVERY dollar of the expense? I questioned.  Mannn! ! !  They must be good!  Better than I imagine maybe???  Really?  But have they paid what I paid?  Are there any Aussies amongst those comments?  So I revised my perspective: those who have paid the price and then received the piece, are extremely thankful.  I on the other hand have paid the price, and am now waiting (somewhat anxiously) to see if the piece proves to be worth the price. And so now I wait . . .

Sometimes experiences on the journey of life seem to cost more than we expected . . . we may feel manipulated, misled, ripped off, by people or even God, only to then feel trapped in the middle of the process.  And so we wish we could cancel choices, like I wanted to cancel my purchase.

Through such experiences, sometimes our message, our meaning gets lost in the material of life.  Sometimes the words that we thought were so significant, seem to no longer carry weight in their worth as we once thought.  Sometimes we perceive the price we paid in totality is not ultimately worth what it was for . . . and so we cancel the order, cut any losses, walk away, and give up, without ever seeing the process through.  Never knowing that if we had just stuck with the ‘order’ and gone through the process, to actually receive the piece, we might have come to see that it was actually all worth it in the end.

Don’t let your colour, or who you are,

your perceived worth, or the cost (expected or not),

stop you from delivering the message you carry,

that message that is engraved into your very being . . .

(said the black leather band)

So in both this jewellery order, and in life itself:

  • I hold onto the hope of those before me.   Those who have paid the price, who stuck with the ordering process to receive their piece, who now proclaim:  “It’s worth every bit of the price I paid!”
  • As for how much they paid to warrant their resulting comments, the price is different for everyone.  We each have to weigh that up for ourselves.  But we’ll never know, if we don’t see the process through to the end.

So be strong and courageous!  Your answer to: “Is it worth it?” is in receiving the outcome . . . if you’ll just stick with the process all the way through to its completion.

 It’s now some weeks later . . . and I’ve received my order.

There was great anticipation as I opened the box, to find a velvet bag, out of which I removed my purchased piece . . . and to be totally honest . . . I was disappointed, as it wasnt any better than I imagined.  Yes!  It’s nice and of good quality.   Was it worth what I paid for it?  No!  Would I buy it again?  Actually, I would!  Why?  Because after wearing it for the first time, and then moreso after the second time, I realised just how much it really is more about: the message than the material, the words than the worth, the piece than the price.  “How?” I hear you ask . . . and here it is . . .  Because in the putting on of that leather band around my wrist, it’s not like any other jewellery I wear.  I cant explain it any other way, other than to say:

I feel myself literally putting on strength and courage,img_20181026_214551~26624486621674465355..jpg

that I would be ‘strong and courageous’.

I’m choosing to ‘put on’ a statement of declaration about

who I want to be, and who God encourages me to be.

And while I still dont ‘feel’ it,  I’m wearing it anyway,

that I might learn it, to know it, to one day actually be,

strong and courageous! 

Worth is about perspective!

More than just sand . . .

Last week while sitting in a cafe . . . a friend had just shared the below pic on fb …. immediately I had a few thoughts of how this parallels with us … so I screen shot the post … then I thought to google it to see if it’s actually true … before I posted my thoughts.  A few minutes later I went back in to fb to refer to the post, but I couldn’t find it.  So I checked my friend’s home page and it’s not there?  Hmm . . . seemingly it popped up just for me in that moment.  So in the event that it might encourage someone ‘out there’, as it did me . . . here’s my thoughts . . .

If we are all grains of sand:
1) We all seem to be the same on the surface, but we are not.
2) It’s when we are magnified, that the fullness of who we are, and all our unique qualities are then seen.
3) Magnified or not. Nothing has changed. It’s the difference between knowing who you are versus your perception of who you are. Same same like tiny grains of sand versus unique and different as sand truly is under magnification.

Magnification exposes our differences to be seen, identified and recognised versus the unmagnified that leaves us unseen, unidentified and unrecognised as anyone different from anyone else.  We all seek to be: seen, identified and recognised for who we are.
But even when we are unseen, unidentified and unrecognised for who we are, we still are all that we are!  And it is from the truth of knowing who we are, that we have so much more to offer regardless of what is expected, perceived or believed to be so.
So regardless of what others see or don’t see … you must choose to see all that you are (as you magnified, in all your uniqueness), in order to be the best you that you can be.

You are more significant than you think you are!

Dancing with wolves

On Monday night in the midnight hours, I found myself checking in to an emergency department with severe pain in my right lower abdomen/groin area  . . . suspecting my appendix as the cause, a grumbling appendix.

After a range of tests, a CT scan, lots of praying, and a couple of doses of a restricted drug for some much needed pain relief, the pain resolved without any explanation or evidence of its cause . . . I was released from hospital late Tuesday morning.  I believe it was the answer to my prayer: “That whatever the issue may be, that it would resolve without needing surgical intervention.”

Later that day while contemplating “Since I don’t know the cause, what if it returns?” and strangely enough, ‘it’ started to grumble again . . . I spoke to it . . . and it stopped.

On Wednesday morning on waking up . . . there was a slight ache in that same area . . . and I thought “I will not consider the possibility of your return.” . . . I spoke to it . . . and again it went.

I wonder how much of our pain
is the result of that which we entertain.
Because we don’t understand it, or know the cause
And so we fear the returning grip of its claws!

And so I began to think about life itself, of thoughts and emotions I struggle with.  Some issues that stem from childhood, and others that result from bad decisions and wrong choices, causing memories of pain and regret in my past.  There have been times when the pain has been so bad, and then in a prayerful cry for help, there’s a shift I don’t understand, and the pain is gone, without any explanation as to how.  But then I anticipate the possibility of its return.  While I don’t want it to return, I’m checking at every corner for it, because I don’t quite believe (or trust) it has really gone, and then I’m surprised when I find it again.

I think of the story told by a Cherokee elder:
There are two wolves that are always fighting
One is darkness and despair.
The other is light and hope.
The question is . . .
Which wolf wins?
The one you feed.

And so I realise my feeding practice . . . it’s in my searching for that which has resolved.  And that searching is because of my lack of understanding, and my inability to let go of my need to know how it resolved.  I have an inability to just trust that it has resolved, and that it will not return, so long as I don’t feed or entertain thoughts of it.

On Wednesday I was driving about town when the song ‘Battle Scars’ by Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian came on the radio.  The words that struck me in that moment were:

These battle scars don’t look like they’re fading
Don’t look like they’re ever going away
They aint never gonna change
These battle (scars) . . .

And I’m thinking of my own battle scars in life.  Sometimes it feels like they are lifelong scars, too deeply imbedded in my memory to ever fade away.  Too much a part of me and my past to ever change, or to be truly free of.   Not just what I know and am learning about myself, but what others may know or have learnt about me also.  And so I find myself  discouraged, believing things about myself, and who I am, or who I might be, because of my feelings about things in my past, and things that aren’t changing, or maybe just aren’t changing fast enough as I would like them to.

But I do think this is what the wolf of ‘darkness and despair’ would have us believe.  It’s far easier to feed the wolf that has the loudest voice.  And because the pain is real, we have evidence that there is a problem, and so the fear about that problem is like an ever sounding alarm bell in our mind, stirring up fear because of the issue causing the pain.

But instead we need to speak to that wolf to silence him, and then feed the other wolf. Because honestly, the only time I’ve had pain (since that initial pain that took me to the E.D.) is when I’ve contemplated it.  And then I’ve listened for the grumble, and pondered its return.

Don’t listen for the ‘grumble’ of your pain.  Don’t entertain its return.  The resolution was provided for you, just as you asked.  Accept that and receive it.  Believe in it and trust it whole heartedly.

When all the tests show no evidence of a cause, why do I allow that ‘grumble’ to trouble me.  “What if they missed something?”  But I don’t believe God heals us, to then tease us, but I do believe He allows us to be tested.  And so it’s up to me to pass the test, to stand strong in my faith and belief. That the wolf of ‘light and hope’ would conquer the wolf of ‘darkness and despair.’  Not just in regards to the ‘grumble’ in my abdomen/groin, but also the grumble in my thoughts and emotions.

Looking forward, not looking back.  I’ve heard it said so many times before:
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Why then do we still pick it up, that call from the past, when we already know who is calling, because of its caller ID?
Let it go to voicemail and eventually, that which you ignore will stop calling.
Don’t foster a relationship with that which is doing you no good.

How powerful will we be when we learn which wolf to feed?   I’m sure both wolves know this and that’s why the battle is so loud.  Because one wolf is about overcoming us, while the other wolf is about us as the overcomer.

Referring back to a line in the ‘Battle Scars’ song:

“they aint never gonna change”

Can you see it?  I didn’t either at first.  But for all the times I’ve sung it, I’ve never actually heard the truth in this one line.  That was until I wrote it down and saw it in its written form, instead of just hearing it in its verbal form.  The written form enabled me to see something that caused a change in my perspective.  It’s a double negative!  Which makes it a positive!  And suddenly that battle scar that ‘aint never gonna change’ is totally capable of change, and will change!  Because: “they are not never gonna change” . . . if we just feed the right wolf.

The song then goes on to sing:

“Never let a wound ruin me.
But I feel like ruin’s wooing me.”

We empower the wounds of our past to ruin us . . .
when we listen to feelings promoted by the wolf of ‘darkness and despair.’
When we follow our feelings to believe
that the scars of our battles will never fade.
BUT
When we can see the truth revealed in the words of our song.
Then we can see how we’ve interpreted it all so very wrong.

Choose to dance with the wolf of light and hope!

Revealings of a road trip . . .

Middle of Nowhere

When Google maps tells you: “You’ve arrived at your destination.” but you’re on a country road, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by paddocks.  Only to learn that you actually drove through the ‘town centre’ a few minutes earlier, it just wasn’t what you expected, so you didn’t recognise it.

Sometimes we arrive at a destination that isn’t what we expected.
But it’s not always about the place we find ourselves in.
Sometimes it’s about the space we create,
in that place we find ourselves in.

I found a rustic looking cafe, with an unusual name.
But it was loud and noisy, pizza’s and burgers, not a cosy, quiet cafe.
Not the atmosphere I was looking for, but I was hungry for food.
So I looked at the menu, not taking a seat, while asessing my mood.
Brekky looked good, but without a suitable drink it wasn’t for me.
This lil town had less than I thought, but where else could I eat?
Am I asking too much, should I just settle for this?

Sometimes we settle for less than we want.
Sometimes we settle cos we’re scared.
Scared of not finding that which we hope for.
Scared of not seeing the right door.

Making the choice not to settle, I left and walked to the end of the road.  I was standing at the crossroad, wondering which way I should go,  when I remembered the ‘Folk Alley Cafe’ up on the hill.  I had seen it on my way back from the ‘middle of nowhere’ after Google maps had over shot my location.

Sometimes we don’t ‘see’ any other options,
until first we say “No!”
to the ones that we already know are not quite right for us.
AND
Sometimes the best discoveries are on the way back from that place

where we found ourselves ‘in the middle of nowhere’ . . .

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So I walked up the hill . . . around the back of the general store . . . where an old woman was watering plants in an outdoor cafe area.  Unsure (by the style of the door) as to   if I was walking into a private residence . . . she instructed me to go on in.  It was quaint, with cushions on bench seats, and chairs around tables.  The music was contemporary and at a suitable level to hold a conversation, albeit I’m all by myself.  With a full menu, real chai, and almond milk, it was everything I wanted and needed, and had hoped to find for my day.  To think that if I had settled for the ‘pizza burger place’ I wouldn’t have gone on to find the ‘Folk Alley Cafe.’

When you don’t settle for less . . .
you’ll find the more that you hoped for,
as you venture on around the corner,
further along on the road,
up the hill.

The ABC’s of Frank and me . . .

FrankWhen I think about the impact of essential oils in my life, this is just one instance of how they have helped me.
In 2016 having been diagnosed with severe depression, and my faith all but lost, I knew what I needed to do, but I didn’t know how to do it.  I didn’t know how to get from here to there. “Just believe!” they said.  But I didn’t have the capacity to believe . . . for anything!  And so I felt like I was missing the critical link, an essential component to get me from here to there.  And so this was a time in my life where I felt:
Abandoned, my Being was Consumed by Depression and Everything was Falling to the Ground!
Then one morning while reflecting on some of those situations in my world, I asked what is the purpose in each of these? And so I learnt this . . .
Aim: Building Capacity Drives Everything Forward for the Greater good.
Aim: find what is the purpose in my pain.
Build: I knew I had to build myself up. In fact I felt like I was a demolition site, and so I had to rebuild.  Rebuild who I am from scratch.  Let all the rubble of trouble go, and start again.
Capacity: but that was the link that I lacked.  The capacity to rebuild.  It was in that diminished (almost deleted) capacity of faith, that I discovered Essential Oils.  And “Hello Frank(incense)!”  It was that drop of Frank in my bottle of water every day, that one little drop that helped me get from the stage of knowing I needed to build capacity, to the stage of being able to do that, to then . . .  drive everything forward.
Drive Everything Forward: with Frank ‘on board’ I was able to ‘drive’ in the direction I needed to go.  Frank (the Guru of oils for better mental health) was my ‘missing link’, providing the bridge for me to cross from here to there.  Infusing me with a level of capacity to be able to rebuild, and giving me a sense of direction as to how to get there, I began to see my way out of feeling abandoned. This led me to start seeing … the greater good.
Greater good: was what I learnt in those areas of growth, and so my faith was slowly but surely being restored.  As my faith grew … I gained greater capacity to believe.  As my capacity to rebuild and my faith to believe both continued to grow, I saw less and less reliance on Frank … and more and more reliance on God.
Now some might question my ability to believe in Essential Oils over God and faith, but for me that’s not an issue.  Why?  Because I had a glitch in my relationship with God, but He knew where I was at.  We both knew that that relationship needed to be rebuilt from ground up, just as much as I needed to be rebuilt from ground up.  He knew the missing link was an ‘essential’ (pun not intended but it works) component to my recovery and so he reconnected me with a friend from many years ago, who introduced me to Essential Oils which has proven to be that missing link I was looking for.  That essential (hehe) component was in His plant creation, which I had enough faith for (albeit as small as a mustard seed), as a place to start from.

For so long I was stuck in:
the A (of Abandonment.)
the B (of Being me.)
the C (of my being Consumed by)
the DEFG altogether like a boulder coming down a hill, picking up speed
(Depression Everything Falling to the Ground.)

And so now here I am, having shifted from:
Abandoned to Aiming
Being to Building
Consumed to Capacity
Depressed Everything Falling to Driving Everything Forward.
Ground zero to the Greater good.
And maybe a little corny (but that’s me) this all makes for a:
Healthier Happier Helen.

So be encouraged …
The purpose of trials is in:
the Aim of Building you up,
by increasing Capacity in you,
that would then Drive Everything forward
for you to encounter better, that would then
serve the Greater good in growing you into a stronger version of yourself ..

The more I write about the diagnosis of depression, the more I see progress forward out of it.  I have read that ‘depression can be your friend’ and at the time I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.  Especially given it nearly took me out.  But now I’m learning just how much of a friend she is:

She is my warning for when something is not right.
She is my warning to check my head space, my heart space, my whole space around me.
She encourages me to stand up for myself, to stand strong, and to have my own back.
She pushes me to check my boundaries, and to not give in.
She is about me, prioritising my being, over that of everyone else.
She has my back!
She is my back bone!
So long as I listen to her, she keeps me safe.

Unusual and a little bit different.

Where do I start?  Do you ever feel like your head is full with a story, thoughts and words all coming through at once, like a traffic jam.  But as soon as you sit down to type and let it all out, it’s like all that traffic has reached a bottle neck, and now nothing can get through?  Maybe not?  Probably not!  But that’s how it is for me today . . .

So here we go . . .  today I received a belated birthday gift.  I’ve been waiting and anticipating it for 6 weeks or so, but I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when.  I knew my friend was anxious about whether I’d like it or not, perceiving one aspect of it as me, but then she wasn’t sure about it overall.  I had previously tried to reassure her, that given I’m on my own journey of self-discovery and working out who I am, whatever the gift is, the aspect she is not sure about . . . may well turn out to be something that I’m already contemplating, or maybe I need to explore.

And so today when my friend approached holding the gift, declaring it as “unusual, and a little bit different” I was feeling somewhat pressured (in myself) to ensure an appropriate response, so as not to disappoint her, but at the same time knowing I am terrible at pulling off a poker face.  It’s for this reason that I don’t particularly like receiving gifts.  But for all of the same reasons as my friend, while I like to give gifts, I hate being in the position as the gift giver, because like her, I want to give the perfect gift.  And so I know all about wanting the supportive evidence of this, in the recipient’s response.

So with friends standing by, watching me unwrap my gift, my anxieties were already amplified.  All the more so when the wrapping was off and the box was revealed and my mind was not able to comprehend what my eyes were seeing.  And there goes my moment of opportunity . . . to give the supportive evidence in the ultimate response to the perfect gift.  In pulling it out of the box, I first thought I was looking at some sort of artistic tool for drawing or painting or cutting or something . . . and my mind dashed back to my own words of “… it may well turn out to be something that I need to explore.“ and in that moment more fear gripped me, as I had no idea what it was, for me to explore, much more fearing “What would this lead me to explore?”  But then my friend graciously explained it’s a pen that is actually a multi-functional tool. So it was confirmed, it’s not just a ballpoint pen!  It’s so much more!!! It’s a ruler.  It’s a spirit level. It’s a stylet for my phone.  And as I unscrewed it at each end, to expose its inner most parts, there’s the ink cartridge (of course) and a screw driver (for both Phillips and Flat head).  Hellooo McGyver!  Now I just need some gum.  Or maybe more Maxwell Smart . . . lol!

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Then on my way home from church this afternoon, I remembered some thoughts I had had during the week, in some moments of feeling a little overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed, as I try to perfect the art of managing my full time job, writing for 2 blogs (this being one of them), working at my new business venture in essential oils, keeping up with the administration of life and the domestic duties of maintaining my home, maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes going to the gym, and then to still have a social life.  “Have I taken on too much?  How do I do it all?”

Then this afternoon I felt like this pen had something to say about that.  And if any pen can talk, then this would be the pen that could:

“A pen that is just a regular pen is built just for that purpose of being a pen.  But look at me!  I was not built as a regular pen, but as a multi functional tool, with capacity far greater than that of ‘just’ a pen.  My external capacity that you can see is not the sum total of my whole capacity.  The capacity you can’t see, the internal parts you did not know about until you opened up to see inside of me, holds more equipment.  Equipment put there by the one who made me, to be used for the purpose ‘he’ designed it for.  Relax in knowing that while all my functions are there ready to use at any time, I am not utilising all my functions at all times.  But each function is called on as needed, for its purpose in that moment of time.” 

At this point I had a little mental picture of my new multi functional tool trying to pull off all of its functions at once, which of course is impossible, as it cannot use the pen and the stylet at the same time as they are at opposite ends.  Likewise the pen and the screw driver (inside the stylet) are at opposite ends.  But I did have a humorous moment imagining what Pixar would and could do with this short comic.

Then I got to thinking . . . we are all just like that gift.  On the outside we may look like ‘a pen.’  But we are not ‘just’ a pen.  We may even already know that we are more than that ‘a pen, with a ruler, a spirit level, and a stylet.’ But do we stop it there?  What else is on the inside?  Because there is still more, if we will just open up to expose our inner most parts, to see what is revealed, that can be put to use for the purpose it was designed for.

Here’s a few thoughts:

  • We’re all a little unusual, a little bit different. But that’s what makes us unique.
  • We all have anxieties about opening up ‘gifts and abilities’ that we are unsure about. Is it really me?  Is it not me?  Well, sometimes we won’t know until we explore them.
  • We put pressure on ourselves because we don’t want to disappoint, or be disappointed. And we expect to ‘know’ from the start, but sometimes the ‘knowing’ doesn’t come until later as a result of exploring the ‘gift or ability’ further and learning how to use it.
  • The initial response is not always a reliable one, but how the ‘gift or ability’ functions in it outworking, is a much better reference point.

And one final hilariously stretching thought . . . while my multi functional tool currently holds 5 functions, the box actually reads: ‘one touch stylus 9 function tool pen’ which means it still has the potential for even more capacity than what it currently holds.  These additional four functions are in the purchasing of additional pieces to become an inkball pen, a fountain pen, or a pencil with an eraser.

So with all this in built capacity for growth and expansion . . .  in the midst of my humorous Pixar imagination, I did feel the subtle punchline blow of what does need to be dealt with:

“While it may be a juggling act as you move between functions, that’s all the more reason to maximise the effective use of your time, and let procrastination go.”   BOOM!