Be still.

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I came across an old poem 

 

“I know an old house on a hill,

A mountain road, a grove, a rill,

And billowed hilltops stretching far

To sunset and evening star.

I take a path through glade and wood,

Deep drinking of its solitude,

And find a spot o’er reached and still

Where peace and poise the spirit fill.

The Master’s presence there is near,

The Master’s plan again is clear,

And far removed from work or strife

I re-appraise the worth of life.

Yet hill and outlook, glade and wood,

The time, the place, the solitude

Hold not the secret of the prayer

The secret place of anywhere.

It impressed on me the verse “Be still and know that I am God”. In this busy world folks often seem chasing a dream they can’t catch, or running from some intangible fear, how wonderful to be still, and in that stillness find the pervading strength and peace of God.

 

 

Life is like swimming.

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One of the keys to swimming is to learn to float, then, instead of using your energy to keep your head above water you can channel it into getting somewhere.
I’ve always felt it strange that after someone drowns their body floats to the surface (face down not being the optimum position for survival, but none the less it floats.) I picked up on my mum’s fear of water as a child and this realisation helped me in my determination to learn to swim – I realised we are made to float not sink.
Life is much the same. Sometimes our frantic fight to stay afloat can be the very thing hindering us. Even worse, sometimes in our panic that we are drowning we can pull under those beloved “lifeguards” who are trying to rescue us.

So how can we learn to float?
I’d suggest,recognise it’s our natural condition to float. Sometimes huge “waves” come at us and we find ourselves submerged. Try not to panic, like the cork we have a tendency to bob back up to the surface after a minute or two. It may not be pleasant but the more we struggle the worse it tends to get. I look back to my childhood in the 50s surrounded by all those post war London folks, if anyone was an example of the “cork” those people were!
The second thing is to understand that the water/life can support you. Though sometimes it can get a bit rough, it is not “the enemy!”
Having faith in something other than yourself can be a great help. It’s easy to lay back in the arms of someone you love and trust. The poem “Footsteps in the Sand” is a good illustration. Looking over the footprints of his life a man berates Christ that at the hardest times he was left alone. Christ answers softly, “You were not alone, those footprints are mine. I was carrying you.” Guess that explains my personal “floating technique”. Do you have one too?

Coma. (blog bite of short fantasy story)

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Alex awoke to morning sunlight dazzling his eyes. He moved to sit up. Then he remembered…The dreams were becoming more real than his “reality”. He waited passively in his unresponsive body for the all-important shot that would reunite him with his fantasy utopia.

It came, the beaming smile, eye contact, and the prick of the needle. His eyes closed in expectancy, opening to focus on a white stone fountain, fresh sparkling water, a small town square reminding him of southern Italian piazzas…

A cool breeze ruffled his shirt. Villagers sat around white, ironwork tables drinking wine, chatting, feet outstretched in the evening sunshine.  A weathered old man, foot resting on a rattan chair, coaxed music from an ancient fiddle for a group of young dancers. More people were coming together having finished work for the day.

There was a feeling of balance, no one tired or exhausted, the intense need prevalent in Alex past life to “party” as an antidote to work or stress (as if enjoyment must be crammed in) seemed entirely missing.

Alex looked around for his guide. Doc was close by, answering the unspoken questions as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“Most do this every night, or most nights,” He informed Alex. “Someone is always here and they enjoy this time together.”

It seemed quite family orientated, with quite a few old folks, mostly sitting at the tables or playing instruments. Children dashed between the groups playing games, some intent on an occupation similar to jacks, squatting on the ground, there were even a few dogs milling in the crowd. Younger folks were mostly dancing and talking.

“Not everyone is here,” Doc explained. “Some young couples for example prefer to walk alone, or enjoy the moonlight and stars.” He chuckled.

There was an overall feeling of peace and tranquility, song and laughter; no one seemed to be intense. Alex noted the old man that played had the fiddle dancing with a young woman and a strapping looking youngster with a little girl standing on his feet to dance. No one putting on a show, everyone included.

There were lampposts set about the square lighting the tables and illuminating the fountain, making the water sparkle. Some folks sat on its edge, a young girl splashing her companion, he laughed as it ended in a kiss. They all suddenly turned to acknowledge and wave to Alex, a wave of farewell. Was it time to go?

“No Doc, no! Not yet! I don’t want to go!” Alex pleaded, but the wave of darkness invaded none the less.

Am I Time Obsessed?

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from September 2004

Song Bird Songs

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Me? I wouldn’t have thought so, but today my grandson and I took a longer ride to school going along the cycle path between the lakes rather than our usual back road route. It added a quarter mile and five minutes to our ride, but what a difference!
I took in the blue of the sky (I was free to look instead of anxiously watching traffic for two). On one side an immensity of green enclosed the wood land on the other the lake lay cool and calm as if drawing my heart out of dusty confinement.
My grandson’s usual grumbles that he was “too tired, hadn’t slept well, etc.” transformed into calls of “Gran look at that duck all curled in a ball” or “oooh what a cutie!” as a myriad of dogs sauntered by happily enjoying an early morning stroll. People smiled and said hello instead of frowning.

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I’m so happy today!

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Today I woke up beaming sunshine! Why? (apart from this beautiful sunny day).

One of my younger daughters told me she’s chosen to become a mechanic and has already been accepted for the college and practical training. You may find this odd but it makes so much sense.

Like her I chose a man type major (sculpture rather than painting). Not only that but she was our family handyman since her brother moved on (and very good at it too).

But there’s another reason why it’s such a wise move, you see they have an autistic child which (though the Danish system is extremely supportive) can be immensely stressful.

What could be more therapeutic than working with machines were every problem has a reason and a solution. I saw it straight away. She is one smart girl!

First two chill pills – Jigsaw puzzles and something bigger than yourself!

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I just love doing jigsaw puzzles, it’s quite an addition, once started it’s hard to stop! There’s an immense satisfaction when you find where a piece fits. They have so many applications to life, not worrying when the piece you need appears to not be there (it always turns up eventually), discovering when something is in the wrong place and thereby joining up whole problem areas, learning patience knowing it will all become clear in the end.  Especially when combined with soft, inspirational type music I find them hugely relaxing and they are even said to be great for stimulating brain cells.

Somehow puzzles and my life seem to have some correlation and tend to bleed into one another. I’ll often find comfort and answers to real life problems among the pieces.

Something bigger than yourself? This is the basis for alcoholics anonymous groups etc. that some things are beyond our means to conquer so we need a belief in something outside ourselves. (If you believe you can handle all life throws at you, you are headed to “crash and burn” ‘cos life can toss some pretty curved balls!)

Personally I’m a Christian with a pretty strong reliance on Christ. That doesn’t mean I belong to any particular church or denomination, I don’t, but I know when I come to the end of my resources I can reach for His. This, it has to be admitted, is the most active and always available resource in my anti stress armoury (not to mention the reason I’m still here! Lol!)

You don’t have to be a Christian, or member of some recognized religion, to utilise this one, it could be some vague belief in the power of nature or a universal element. The fact is we all reach a point sometimes when we realise a problem or situation is beyond our ability, if we can then willingly pass it on to another entity (understanding that we are not the centre of the universe) it relieves the stress levels 100%.

One of my favourite chill options is a combination of these two. Doing a jigsaw while listening to (and often singing along if no one’s around – my voice is awful! lol!) some Christian music. It requires very little mental concentration (if you choose the right puzzles with lots of well defined colours all over) and gives a comforting feeling that all is well and will turn out OK in the end, like the puzzle.

My “Chill Pills”

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It seems the words “depression” and “stress” flood social media nowadays, they even emerge to wave their ugly heads in conversations with close friends and family sometimes.

Odd that as a child and young adult (I’m thinking 50’s – 60’s here for all you “spring chickens”) I seldom heard these words and when I did not with the same connotation. It could be due to the increasing pressures of today’s increasingly fast paced world (though I do think surviving a world war either in active service or bombed out London would have produced high levels of stress for the adults around me – not to mention rationing and housing shortages!)

Part of it was doubtless they didn’t have the “labels” back then and had to pretty much deal with their own problems. When my dad returned from Burma (one of the only 3 in his battalion to survive) having seen his friends killed before his eyes in guerrilla style jungle warfare he was experiencing what would now be termed post-traumatic stress. My mum just had to love and support him out of it (God bless her she won that battle).

I am hugely thankful that such help exists now for those in need and wholeheartedly support their free access to it. My concern is that too often nowadays it’s easier to “pop a pill” than to find ways to deal with the stresses and set backs of life. That might seem the “easy way” but unless the real problems are tackled things are inclined to get worse. Sometimes it takes a change of job, ending a bad relationship, going on the attack to save a marriage or a change of location etc. It’s hard to make such tough decisions in the midst of emotional turmoil though.

I’ve lived what could be termed a “very adventurous life” with sometimes huge elements of responsibility (not to mention severe earthquakes and hurricanes). I’m not by nature that strong stable type one usually pictures for such a role. Old friends tend to describe me as “strong” but actually I’m more like the lion in the “Wizard of Oz” a scaredy cat who is brave only when it comes down to the line and  they have to be, because there’s no one else.

All this to say, over the years I’ve developed some ways of dealing with stress, discouragement (which leads to depression), anger and overwrought emotions which may help others too. They are all rather “old fashioned” but maybe that’s how folks dealt with these things before the days mental health became widely established. Perhaps they may help someone else unwind under stress and avoid having to end up with a severe problem. Rather than make one super long post I’ll dedicate my next few to this topic..