Between darkness and light…a Good Deeds post

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darkness_to_light_image credit:

http://aimenabdullahabbasi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/darkness-to-light.html

“Between darkness and light

I will always walk

and every place that I go

I will open a window

a window of light

and plant a seed of love”

These are the words to a song I learned several years ago which I understand was created by a women’s group made up of both Israelis and Palestinians. I wish my computer camera was working as I’d sing it into a video for you so you could hear the melody too, as I can’t find a version online. It touched me so deeply the first time I heard it that I retreated to a corner in tears for several minutes before I could continue singing. For me it speaks of the naturalness of the changing currents of life from expansiveness, openness and light to contraction, fear and darkness. Planting the seed of love can happen regardless of which of these states we feel closest too, or where on the scale between joy and despair we find ourselves, and I believe love’s very value is it’s very ability to transcend polarities.

As nature begins to lay her rainbow coloured bedspread in early preparation for a long and well deserved winter sleep, I marvel at the variety of mushrooms popping up like spontaneous fairy settlements in clusters that make me giggle like a child in wonder at their otherworldliness. Everything has its season…

Good Deeds Received

Mum let me borrow the car which allowed me to take myself on a new, longer walk to instill the muscles in my legs with the same passionate yearning for walking as my heart and soul, in preparation for something longer some time soon. She also spontaneously provided me with a delicious picnic lunch from her cafe, which I ate as I strolled alone and free along the beach.

One of the participants on the English language course I’m currently teaching cooked a delicious Indian style meal for all of us last night, including a fabulous dessert of mangoes, cinnamon, yoghurt, honey and a few other magic ingredients.

A dear friend, with whom I love to sing and share all that is creative, beautiful and uplifting (as well as the challenges we lean on each other through…) introduced me to a beautiful song which I listened to about five times in a row immediately because -well, you’ll see. If you can avoid smiling, swaying and humming along then you must be one of those impressively self disciplined individuals who can eat a sugary doughnut without licking your lips…but I say it’s a shame to resist such sweetness:-)

People have continued to approach me to offer both promises and items for a fundraising auction I’ll be holding next Sunday for my Rwandan friend Beatha. A tarot reading, a massage and a knitting lesson have been added to the list not to mention a pair of stunning hand crafted ceramic mugs from our local pottery.

http://beathaandherboys.wordpress.com/

I was given directions by a kind couple who saw me looking a bit lost and unsuccessfully reading and re-reading my guidebook which didn’t tell me what to do if the tide was too high for me to follow the normal route on the walk I’d set out on…thank you!

A dear friend made time for a wonderful Skype chat and re-inspired me to take steps towards a dream, expressing such belief and enthusiasm that she helped me rekindle my own.

A friend I haven’t caught up with in a while invited me to spend some time with her and her gorgeous toddler son.

Good Deeds Done

I sent some more money to Beatha, in perfect timing because she’d literally just run out when I spoke to her to give her the collection details – may next week’s auction be as abundant and nourishing as the heavily laden apple trees I’m currently admiring.

I bought a copy of the Big Issue from a man I’ve seen several times locally, and occasionally chat too. I made time to listen to him sharing about his wife recently leaving him, and the challenges he faces providing for his 10 month old baby girl who is being looked after by his sister while he sells the magazine, as his wife left her behind. It was a moving and humbling conversation.

I spent my free afternoon offering twenty minute one on one sessions to my students, so they could ask about any grammar points and other learning issues they’ve had so far as we reach the half way mark in this four week course.

I bought some after dinner chocolates and some drinks to share during our group meal together.

I called my brother back early in the morning, when I saw I’d missed a couple of calls from him, and made time for a chat and catch up before going to class.

Took out the hoover to clean up the mess I’d made in our community centre when I dropped a box of biscuits – luckily the hoover liked double chocolate cookies.

I volunteered to help wash dishes when the brunch time clean up crew asked for help, as they were a very small team to clean up after more than a hundred diners!

OK folks, have a great week:-)

To be continued – part 2

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I started this a while back, and just felt to continue it tonight. There may be more to come I’m not sure, but this is where I got to for now – enjoy:-)

 

I packed a bag

and looked for a map

with a road marked to peace

for I wanted to go

where my pain could not find me

***

But my walking was slow

for my bag weighed me down

till I took out my tent

which I left by the road with a note

that read, ‘Friend, help yourself’

***

When weariness came

the earth made my bed

beneath trees

and the stars sang my sleep

silently

***

Too soon I awoke

to a touch on my hand

and my sleep tender eyes

met the face of my pain

smiling back in relief

‘Now I’ve found you’

***

So I left the soft space

of the light hidden stars

and bristled with anger

that roared at my pain

‘Leave me be!’

***

I snatched up my bag

set my feet on the road

and walked on

though my pain’s saddened eyes

bore into my back with their loss

***

I traveled for days

with my pain playing shadow

and walking behind me

though well at a distance

for fear of my fury

***

In silence we walked

‘my anger now softer

for alone on the path

I began to see value

in some company. even of pain

***

But the miles took their toll

on my legs, growing weary

our pace had now slowed

to a shuffle and stop,

so I turned

***

‘Will I never be free?’

my pain looked at me

offering his hand

as my shy eyes fell earthwards

my palm joined with his

***

and where our palms met

I heard my hand howl

a noise filled with triumph

as much as with grief

as it raced up my arm to my lips

***

and I began to shake wildly

in every cell

with no will to resist

pain’s arms

as he wrapped tight around me

***

but I was not scared

for the arms held a hug

that spoke of knowing me intimately

so I breathed pain in

until I was all that remained

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Itchy feet…a Good Deeds post

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“We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walking

There’s a writing prompt I use where I ask people where they go when; they want to be alone, they want to celebrate, they want to give thanks etc etc. I think there’s a list of six situations. I need to add a new one…where do you go when you want to listen?

My dear friends, I have very itchy feet, because I believe right now the place I need to go to listen…is the open road. I shared this the other evening with the group I am teaching at the moment – I want to listen to the wisdom of the land through my feet. I need to be free and get quiet and grounded so that I can find the strength, wisdom and openness to truly let life tell me what it wants me to do next. ‘Just ask your angel for advice,’ someone said to me last night. I said, ‘there are too many angels round here, it’s too loud and noisy.’ He laughed.

As I gathered a few inspirational links (including this great post by a dear wordpress friend of mine…http://upwoods.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/follow-your-feet/) to offer you, I realised this seed has been growing in me for a while. It’s something that’s always drawn me…and I think the time is almost here. Walking is the ultimate simple, but also very powerful tool used for centuries as a catalyst for change, both on a personal level and more widely at the level of society; Ghandi and the salt walk; Vinoba Bhave and the land gift movement in India; Peace Pilgrim who walked the States in the name of peace for 28 years, Satish Kumar’s round the world walk in protest against Nuclear arms and I’m sure you can all tell me about many more.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Destination-Autobiography-Pilgrim-An/dp/1870098897

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Pilgrim

Walking has given me some of life’s greatest gifts, magic memories of walks with my father, poems and songs that have danced into my consciousness while I’ve been walking, walks have given me insight and solace at times of pain and suffering…

So today I did myself a great Good Deed…I bought myself a pair of walking boots:-) Watch this space…

Good Deeds Received

The man I’m working with at the moment shared that he found me very easy to work with, which made me sooooo happy, because we haven’t worked together before and it took me a couple of days to get used to his style (he’s very spontaneous and ‘make it up as you go along’, where I’m quite organised and tick boxy) but I’ve relaxed a lot more, so it’s been good for me. And he’s noticed:-)

Several friends have offered some fantastic promises for an auction I will have in a couple of weeks time to raise money for my Rwandan friend, Beatha, including four nights B&B in Prague!

A kind gentleman saw me walking in the rain and offered me a lift, and even apologised for smoking while he drove, at the same time as I was apologising for making his car wet:-)

I dropped in on Mum as I needed to pick some stuff up from her house, and it turned out to be perfect timing because she immediately presented me with a small freshly baked loaf of bread, made to a new recipe she was trying out, which she had intended to drop round to me later.

One of our old neighbours came to see Mum while i was there, and someone we got onto the subject of my friend Beatha, and she just opened her purse and gave me a donation there and then:-)

A customer of my Mum’s shared that he had read out one of my poems to a group he was meeting with recently, and it had had a profound effect, stimulating a deep discussion about forgiveness.

http://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/how-forgiving-is-your-sieve/

My Dad, who’s on holiday with my brother at the moment, sent me photos of the sea side village they’re staying in and said he was missing me:-)

Good Deeds Done

I wrote a text message to my niece, who mentioned that she wanted to come up to Scotland for a visit (which I’m soooooo excited about!) saying I would help her with the cost of the plane ticket.

I shared some of the delicious bread my Mum had made with one of my current housemates.

Agreed to help take care of a dear friend’s small new flock of young Guinea Fowl while she’s away for a week.

Danced with one of my favourite toddlers:-)

Put some money in the donation box of the Cathedral I went to sit in for a while when I went to visit Inverness recently.

Agreed to give English lessons to a friend’s husband at a reduced price, as he isn’t earning much in his current factory job.

Put a lot of love and care into preparing enjoyable lessons for a delightful group of people from all over the world who have come to spend four weeks in our community.

OK folks, have a great week:-)

First class

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She heard it fall
on the mat
and followed its call
to the unlit corridor
where the familiar handwriting
shone through the bleakness
like a lighthouse

She left it there
to put on the kettle
for a cup of tea,
taking the sugar from the shelf
to sweeten
the anticipation
of love delivered first class

She poured the boiling water
into the mug
and left it to brew
before returning to the envelope,
lifting it to her cheek as closed eyes
spilled to smudge the ink of her address

Just a Good Deeds Post:-)

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A busy week so no themed intro I’m afraid. Sorry this is late – enjoy:-)

Good Deeds Received

My niece sent me a very beautiful and touching text message, thanking me for the letter I wrote her recently, saying she was going to frame it and that it had really cheered her up just when she needed it…her words really touched me.

My friend called me back to check that I understood the bus she’d just given me the time for was taking a different route, to make sure I wasn’t left waiting in the wrong place. And this was after I’d called her much too early on a Saturday morning for bus times I should have had – bless you!

My mother held me the other morning when I got overwhelmed with nerves about teaching on this one month English course that’s just started. I don’t get nervous very often, and I’ve taught it about 14 times before, so I’m not sure what was going on. I was a mess and very jumpy, but being held helped…and it all turned out well, so there was no reason to be worried.

A friend noticed I was nervous when I missed the joke in our usual banter, and made a point of checking in with me later in the day to see if everything was going ok.

Mr colleague gave me half the afternoon off today, which gave me time to walk in the sun and spontaneously bump into and chat to a couple of dear friends, so thank you!

Someone I don’t think I’ve ever met, but who’d read about my fundraising plan for Beatha in Rwanda, called to offer support.

A generous friend saw me as I walked past the cafe she was sitting in and stopped me so that she could give me some money for Beatha.

Good Deeds Done

Overcame my nerves and helped hold a successful welcome session for our new English students.

I later managed to get hold of a couple of electrical adapters for two participants who hadn’t brought one with them, and whose phones were running out of battery. They only said thank you about, what, 20 times!!!

Showed a woman who was looking for a lift a good place to hitch hike from.

Sent more money to Beatha earlier on this week.

Called the airport to chase some luggage which one of my students was missing, as it had been mislaid or delayed by the airline. She was so relieved when I told her it had been found and would be delivered tomorrow. I think she hugged me four times, shrieking with delight and thanking me over and over. All I did was make a phone call:-)

A good deed to myself ended up as a good deed for Mum too. I realised on Tuesday that I needed what I call ‘an away day’ when I go to Inverness (the nearest city, about an hour by bus) alone with my phone off and my computer at home and just walk and wander around and drink coffee and write poems if they come. It’s the nearest place that sells my Mum’s favourite moisturiser, so I bought her some, as well as some travel info on the Orkney islands because she mentioned she’d love to go there.

When I found, when I was cleaning it the night before, that the fridge in the building we are using for the course was badly (like four inches or rock hard ice!) in need of defrosting, I could’ve spent a lot of time and energy tracking down who should be responsible and asked them to do it, and, without saying it expressly, made it clear that I was disappointed. I didn’t. Instead I just gathered some old towels and newspapers and switched it off, coming in early the next day to clean it up.

 

 

To be continued…

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image credit: http://www.plantteacher.com/the-road-to-santiago/

 

I packed a bag

and looked for a map

with a road marked to peace

for I wanted to go

where my pain could not find me

***

But my walking was slow

for my bag weighed me down

till I took out my tent

which I left by the road with a note

that read, ‘Friend, help yourself’

***

When weariness came

the earth made my bed

beneath trees

and the stars sang my sleep

silently

***

Too soon I awoke

to a touch on my hand

and my sleep tender eyes

met the face of my pain

smiling back in relief

‘Now I’ve found you’

***

So I left the soft space

of now light hidden stars

and bristled with anger

that roared at my pain

‘Leave me be!’

***

I snatched up my bag

set my feet on the road

and walked on

though my pain’s saddend eyes

bore into my back with their loss

 

 

 

I started this poem not knowing where it was going to take me and I’m still not sure, but I will continue it soon when I have time to listen…

Synchronicity…a Good Deeds post

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DSCF0646Me, Beatha and Mugisha – Rwanda, January 2013

I was in the library recently, focused and intent on writing an important email and planning a fundraising campaign to help my friend in Rwanda. A woman I’ve seen there several times sat at the computer next to me. After a while she began sighing a lot and I looked over. At first she apologised for disturbing me, and I could have left it that, but I decided to ask if everything was OK. It turns out she was in the process of trying to help a family she knows get out of Gaza. Apparently they are currently stuck in Jordan and the visa process is taking a very long time, not to mention costing a huge amount of money. I listened for a while and thanked her genuinely for what she was doing to help this traumatized family. As I was about to leave I wished her well in her quest to help them and shared that, while sitting next to her, I had been writing about my own wish to help a friend in Rwanda. She responded by giving me the name of a local woman who has been involved in charity work in Uganda, close to the border with Rwanda, and urged me to connect with her. We exchanged contact details.

I will follow up on this ‘chance’ meeting, and who knows where it may lead. It was such a great reminder that the world, the universe and all it’s wonderful expressions of life and creativity are surrounding us, wanting to interact and co-create in a magical myriad of ways…if we only take the cue:-)

Good Deeds Received

My Dad sent me a link to a wonderful article about cycling in Rwanda – so positive and inspiring. My heart still shares every other beat with that land, and to see something as simple as a bike empowering girls to not only continue their education, but to take it even further and compete in competitive cycling at international level…phenomenal! Check it out:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/28826059

Mum bought me a wonderful magazine on her way back from Amsterdam, so beautifully presented and full of inspiring, wise and creative articles. One tracked a woman who had made a commitment to give something away every day for 29 days, and the magic that invoked. She herself was inspired by a book she read about a woman with MS who had been instructed to do just that to support her own healing, and was utterly transformed. Here are links to the book and the magazine:

http://www.29giftsbook.com/

http://www.flowmagazine.com/

A dear friend replied so lovingly to a brief text I sent saying she was in my thoughts and apologising for my lack of contact, I was very touched and humbled…I’m so blessed! Oh, incidentally (or not!) she is the very friend who brought my attention to the magazine Mum gave me in the first place, only now it’s in English. My friend had originally found it in dutch.

I was sooooo excited to receive a huge smile and a tug on the leg from the gorgeous son of a friend, who is now 1 year and a couple of months(ish). I hadn’t seen him for about three months, but it seems he recognised me and wanted me to pick him up:-)

Received a very sweet thank you card, along with the gift of a little notebook, from a new colleague who I’ve been supporting this week as she prepares to teach here on the one month English Language course.

I had a very rich conversation with a former student of mine, 2.5 hours disappeared just like that while we drank tea, ate meringues, discussed philosophy and shared deeply in a mixture of English and French, finishing our time with her insisting I really must visit her in Paris as there is so much she would like to show me.

I received several very warm and generous responses to my email inviting support for my Rwandan friend. If you haven’t ‘met’ her yet you can read about her on my other blog.

http://beathaandherboys.wordpress.com/

Good Deeds Done

I sent a carefully written card to my niece, who was disappointed with her ‘A’ Level results. I included with this a lottery scratch card I just happened to have bought that day, something I do very occasionally and never win. This time I won 2 pounds! So I sent her the card and told her that, though the amount of money was minimal, there was a lot of good luck in that card because I never win!

Picked my Mum up from the airport, and had bought a few nice things to drink and eat for her to have in the car, as I knew she probably hadn’t had much on the plane.

Sent some more money to my friend in Rwanda, as she had run out, and is still needing regular hospital treatment for fluid on one of her lungs. I then spent a couple of hours carefully planning, and then writing, an email to friends inviting their continued support and letting them know of some fundraising activities I have planned.

Saw a woman I know waiting in the rain and gave her a lift into town.

There was only one seat left on the community bus and the other woman’s timing was more urgent, so I let her take my place and walked the hour and a half, picking up litter along the way and really enjoying the slow pace as I was in no rush and had the time, so I took it:-)

I’ve been working in my Mum’s take away place over the last two nights, and will soon be on my way for a full day there today, as her business partner is away for the weekend.

Made and gave two good luck/blessing cards to the two women who will be teaching on the English course this month, wishing them much joy and grace over the next four weeks. I added a few little gifts, including a small poetry book each. I myself will start teaching a separate group next Saturday, as the course has become so popular.

OK folks, have a great week:-)

Peace…a Good Deeds post

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breathe tnhThis word peace has been troubling me lately. I’ve tried it out with lots of different verbs; I want peace (that wanting in itself doesn’t feel very peaceful) I’m searching for peace (ok, but do I have a map, and am I aware it doesn’t come wrapped with a label on so I know when I’ve found it?) I am peace (ok, that’s certainly not true right now, I don’t feel it leaking out of my every pore, I don’t notice people noticing how very peaceful I am ) or…peace is. OK, now we’re getting somewhere. Take out the ‘I’ and perhaps we’re getting somewhere closer to the truth.I went for a walk yesterday, in a small wood close to my mother’s home. It wasn’t long before I felt a huge feeling of presence and freedom, of breathing, of being very alive and in awe of the life around me. There was something very simple and nourishing about feeling like I needed nothing in that moment other than to be quiet, to observe, to breathe. It came on so quick I was surprised, not having been aware how long it’d been since I had had that chance to just take the time to rest my palm on the trunk of a tree and watch a tiny spider build a web in the cracks of the bark. My being was so hungry for this empty time it gulped at it voraciously and there were tears in my eyes as I sat on a tree stump to catch my breath. Surrounded by life and death and everything in between, I met wonder again. Wow, where’ve you been wonder –  I missed you:-)And then writer me showed how hungry she was too and images and phrases and thoughts ran at me full tilt making me laugh out loud and dive into my handbag where I had a pencil and a letter from a friend in my purse…yes!…she’d only written on one side. I began to write on the back in tiny writing, eventually turning over and writing in the spaces in between my friend’s loving lines…I used to have this idea that peace was something very quiet, gentle and still…and sure, that might still come into it, but now I’m beginning to get a sense of something else. Peace is something very momentary, and raw, and challenging, and courageous and…it’s a deliberate and conscious choice which has to be made again and again with every step and breath. It’s not a destination, and it’s not an aim, it’s not conditional on dispeace disappearing and it’s not guaranteed pain free…it’s about being so responsive and expansive that, and I can’t find the direct quote, but it’s something like, if life is throwing paint around it only makes a mess if you have walls for that paint to splatter against. If there are no walls, there is nothing for the paint to stick to…

Good Deeds Received

Received a lovely email from my ‘boss’ at the language school I’d been working at, updating me on some of the students and saying I was missed.

My dad cooked a wonderful meal, and my sister and her partner came over to join us. We played darts and backgammon and just generally, laughed, caught up and enjoyed each others company. It was a wonderful evening.

Dad and I went for a walk on the morning of the day I was to leave England. We found a beautiful abundance of blackberries and began to gather. Dad laughed and I asked him why. He replied that he was enjoying how happy I was. Thank you nature, and thank you Dad:-)

Mum picked me up from the station and brought me home to a house she’d filled with delicious things to eat and drink, leaving me to arrive and rest while she went to work.

A colleague and friend sent me an email, the day after I got back, inviting me to hold a creative writing session with a group she leads…what a welcome home:-)

A friend I haven’t heard from in a while sent me a lovely email catching me up on her life.

Was gifted one of those deep, nourishing conversations that affirm life and my place in it, which ended with lots of laugher as we went from profound philosophy to dancing stupidly to the salsa music that was playing in the background.

 

Good Deeds Done

I took three plastic bags full of stuff to recycle with me when I left where I’d been teaching, as I hadn’t found anywhere nearby to recycle them which I could get to without a car. I passed some of the students on my way out, who gave me some funny looks. It looked like I was traveling with all my rubbish. Truth is, it was merely symbolic I know, that amount wasn’t going to make a big difference, but I had to do it.

Sent a text massage to my niece, wishing her luck with, and later congratulating her on, her ‘A’ Level results.

Drove my mum to the airport and am covering her shifts at the cafe this weekend while she’s away visiting her brother for his 70th birthday.

Carefully chose and lovingly wrote a card for my Uncle, for Mum to take with her.

A man was paying for something and dropped a ten pound note on the floor, which I don’t think he’d noticed. I picked it up and gave it to him, and he smiled.

I held open the door for a mother with two young children, one of whom was crying. I caught his eye and started smiling and pulling silly faces and he immediately stopped crying. I kept this up for several minutes while we were all waiting there in the bank.

Helped two couples who were a little lost find there way to the campsite they were looking for.

OK folks, have a great week:-)

Plastic bag

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heart in treeimage credit: http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-2441279-stock-footage-a-heart-carved-on-a-tree-trunk.html

 

I took a walk
through a maternity ward
that incorporated
an open cemetery
strewn with the litter
of past lives
and unconsummated potential

where human hearts
were worn on sleeves
of bark
and my fingers read
the scars of love
to find a pulse
and failed

and a man walked by
with his floppy dog
who dug and sniffed
in the carpet of corpses
and assumed the position

an angry owner’s clap
fails to interrupt
a most natural
and necessary act
cue embarrassed hand
thrust into pocket
in search of a green plastic bag

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