Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Welcome. I won't keep you long. It's true I love to chat - as those who have read previous posts or follow me on Twitter can attest. My prose and poetry seem to have grown exponentially longer as my confidence in sharing them has grown too. Oops!

Verbosity is probably my middle name

And it's just so easy to go on and on..and on..But, fear not, I am going to be brief today.

Sighs of relief all round, do I hear?

I'm simply offering you a pause for thought to catch your breath and appreciate the glory of the natural world around you with its own cycle of continuation and change.

I have provided a Poetic Aperitif below to whet your appetite. More to follow soon!

Your own thoughts and reflections are, as always, very welcome.


Drifting, burnt wood-smoke
A filigree tenderly 
kissing the boldness of sky -
Dropping into the lap
of a thousand hills
that rise
noble and strong
as the earthiness
that supports them.
Languor of years
stretching timelessly,
as the theme
repeats itself
to our own
pulsating melodies.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Another world

Hi there,
I don't know about you, but I can easily lose myself in a book. When I'm reading I enter another world created for me by the author. And I tend to lose track of my surroundings in the process - sorry, did you speak? My main regret is that there are so many books I want to read but, sadly, lack enough concentration, energy or time to do so.

Reading books can be a way of escaping reality and enhancing it too

A recent birthday gift was a beautiful book -  'Norfolk Loving it!' by John Duckett - which is the third in a series of fine art photographic records that capture the essential atmospheric, surprisingly colourful beauty of that landscape. It has a selection of panoramic images of Norfolk that perfectly depicts its wide open vistas, superb coastline, seascapes and breathtaking glory through the changing seasons.
"Worthy books are not companions..they are solitudes: We lose ourselves in them and all our cares'  ~ Philip James Barclay
In my earlier adult years, before M.E. and other limiting illnesses took such a hold on my life, I used to enjoy walking on those same beaches, having a paddle and brief swim in the waters, marvelling at the wildlife and wild flowers en-route, eating fish and chips out of the paper - with their flavour enhanced by the salty air - playing games with the children, sunbathing and generally relaxing, letting go of life's care.

Nowadays, the walk to reach the beach from the car park alone is beyond me and activity is very limited. I miss not being able to do what I used to do freely before - and largely took for granted

But I can experience it all afresh through the eyes of imagination and memory

"Some books leave us free and some books make us free" ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Being free means different things to different people.

One person's freedom can be another person's prison
In a sense we are all in need of being freed and released, as Jesus came 'To proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners' ~ Isaiah 61:1

We may feel free yet still be chained by our circumstances, prisoners of toxic relationships or bad decisions, and thus remain captive to issues such as bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness.

I am finding freedom in the midst of limiting circumstances as I learn to surrender myself and my wants and desires to the greater purpose of knowing God and His ways and plans for my life.

I am finding freedom primarily in reading God's word and applying its truths to my life, enjoying books in general, expressing myself with poetry and prose, as well as finding release in a host of other things which give my life meaning and purpose.

How about you? What helps or hinders your ability to experience freedom?

The poem that follows was inspired by the book mentioned above (especially its cover photo) and also the bag it came in that proclaimed 'Big Blue Sky' - most likely the name of the shop it was purchased from, I guess, or an attempt to pique my interest anyway!


I'm blue-sky
A vast horizon
hones into view -
inviting, enticing,
warmly beckoning
to me and to you.

Feel the sand yield
beneath your feet;
salt-tangled breeze,
melting mists that
waft and greet.
Wet pavements glistening
in the sun,
as we shuffle,
amble, or break
into a run.

Noisy clamour of
a city-busy throng.
Elbowing, thrusting
through crowds,
to where we belong.
Stinging,crystalline snowflakes
bite our faces;
reshaping the familiar
into landscapes
of inaccessible places.

Even when confined
to bed or chair,
my unfettered mind
is free
to roam anywhere.
All it takes
is a pause, glimpse, a look,
with time to reflect - 
on the words and images
contained in a book.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Run out of steam?

Perhaps you are somebody who is firing on all cylinders? I hope so. Or you may have periods in the day when you are 'up and at 'em' and others where you slump wearily and are desperate for the next caffeine fix or - even just to take a break..Please!!

Feeling tired is common to us all. Life can be hectic and it can seem as if we have so much to try to fit into so little time. 

Short-term health problems can temporarily frustrate and derail us. What if being unwell, sick and tired was your permanent state of being?

Welcome to the world of the Chronically Sick

  • It's largely a Secret Club
  • Members don't wear badges -  though they may use Blue ones
  • It costs nothing to join -  but may take everything you have from you
  • There are no meetings to attend -  although plenty of doctor's surgeries and hospitals to visit
  • It isn't always obvious that you belong -   the criteria for joining can be largely hidden from others
  • It can be a temporary membership lasting months/years -  or you may be in it for decades
  • The perks can be Care and Attention, Free Equipment and Medication -  or not 
  • You join by default -  but opting out can be impossible
  • Your experience of membership may differ widely -   from others or your own expectations
  • Once you belong -  others may never see you in the same light again
I am writing this because it is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and my own life has suffered a serious derailment with M.E., Fibromyalgia and Arthritis

In the early days the effects of my illness were often hidden. In my worst times I was housebound and bed-bound and thus away from public scrutiny. 

It was easier to believe that this was an unwelcome, temporary blip in my life and recovery was just around the corner.

After 20 years +  there are signs that are more obvious to others even when I've made a huge effort -  in terms of energy expended -  to appear 'normal''.

Suffering the long-term effects of any illness, whether mental or physical, includes:

  • The awful side-effects of medication
  • The deep bone weariness with it all
  • The feeling that the pain may never end
  • The grief for the loss of the life we anticipated
Alongside the changes in looks and body shape/tone/fitness levels is a far more insidious change of identity crisis as we may no longer feel, look, act or function as we used to. 

Such changes can take years to overcome as we learn to adapt and adjust to the new person we are becoming.

That change of outlook can be as traumatic or feel even worse than the actual illness itself. Yet deep inside I am the same person I have always been.

I wrote a poem called 'Invasion' (you can find it here in the post 'How does your garden grow?') in an attempt to describe something of what it can feel like to have M.E. 

The poem below is another way to view having an Invisible Chronic Illness whereby confusion can set in as to who we are and how best to describe ourselves to others.

It is written less emotively and in a more light-hearted fashion than the one mentioned above. Hopefully, those of you who experience such problems  - either personally, as a carer, or within your immediate circle - will be able to relate to its sentiments.

I'm like....?

There are many tasks
I just have to shirk
My spirit is willing,
but my body won't work

I'm like a car
That's stuck in reverse,
stalling, low on fuel,
gear changes make it worse

I'm like a carriage
shunted to the siding;
Speedy trains pull away,
while I remain in hiding

I'm like an engine
that's missing a bolt;
Push me too hard
and I grind to a halt

I'm like a candle
stuttering in the breeze,
struggling to stay alight,
snuffed out with ease

What I'm trying to say
is difficult, you see;
I'm not quite myself - 
but I'm Still Me

The journey I am taking in life and faith is being written here. 
I would love you to join me on the journey and share your thoughts too.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Time to celebrate?

Welcome to the party. I'm in a celebratory mood. Don't worry - I've saved you a piece of cake.

What am I celebrating - do I hear you say?

The reasons are manifold.

This is definitely the season to celebrate human endeavour and achievement with the Olympics and Paralympics, both of which have been awe-inspiring.

On a more prosaic level we celebrate our own special occasions and achievements too, no matter how minor they may seem to others.

For instance, I have recently had a birthday. Perhaps some of you have too, maybe today? Congratulations!

Isn't having a birthday a cause to celebrate? Or possibly commiserate - depending on your viewpoint and your age perhaps. Either way, it is a milestone and a memory to enjoy in life's rich tapestry of the good, bad and indifferent. 

In fact, just being alive, and having family and friends to acknowledge our existence, is a great thing to appreciate and not take for granted.

If you feel lonely and isolated, however - and we can all have moments when we feel like that even in a crowd of friends and family, and wonder if anyone is really there for you, it may surprise you to know that:

'The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing' ~ Zephaniah 3:17
  • Even if nobody else seems to validate your existence, remember that God cares for you and loves you very much
  • We all need to feel valued
  • We all need support
  • Life is continually throwing up change and challenges
''There are no moments you have frozen in amber. It's moving. It's changing, so appreciate what's good about right now and be ready for what's next''~ Michael J Fox
Events like birthdays and the ever-changing seasons are a reminder of the constant slipping away of days.

I am still discovering that if we cling tenaciously to the old ways of doing and being, then we risk, not only stagnation, but spoiling the hope of better things to come.

Like some of you, no doubt, I have had painful issues to deal with from my past that threatened to completely overwhelm the present and rob it of its peace and joy. Not much of a recipe for celebrating there.

What has helped tremendously and made a lasting difference in my journey of emotional healing has been my faith in Jesus Christ  and taking the Bible seriously. 

One of the many verses that have spoken to me is Isaiah 44 :18 -19 as it reminds me that God is in control and continually working on our behalf.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland"

This promise is still being worked out in my life and gives me hope of seeing greater change in the future.

For those of us who may be parents, one of the 'new things' we experience is the final letting go of our children into the wider world of work, further education, marriage or just setting up home independently.

This poem about 'Letting go' (originally published in 'Individual Voices' and 'Celebrations - 15 Years Of  The People's Poetry') captures some of the emotion felt during that rather bitter-sweet event in the family when our youngest son left home to go to university.

'Letting go'

Love held him tight
as hand clasped hand;
I would not let him go.
I was the voice of reason, wisdom,
watching my seed grow.

Yet time marched on
and loosed the bond,
slowly gathering pace-
he strained for independence,
to run in his own race.

Now, still the rock
on which he leans;
crumbling, yet holding fast -
my son grows wise 
for future years,
while I cling to the past.