Tag Archives: gratitude

One Word

I’ve been thinking a lot about Love recently.

And I started to feel hard done by that we only have one word for it. Compared to the Greeks’ eight or nine this seems paltry.

I started thinking that we mustn’t take Love seriously in our culture and language to only have one word. The Inuits have dozens of words for snow. Surely if we cared more about Love we’d have a wider range of vocabulary?

Our English word Love is ancient. It pre-dates the Norman Conquest of England and finds its roots in the Old Germanic, then middle English, ‘lufu’.

So it survived Latin and French, and was unperturbed by amore or cherir. Far from not taking it seriously, it feels to me like we defended its unique meaning to the hilt.

But what is that meaning? Doubtless in medieval times people knew exactly what they meant when they spoke the word. These days I’m not so sure. It has so many meanings and so many contexts. Predominantly these days in common parlance it refers to romantic and erotic love rather than love for friends, family, off-spring, nation, self or God.

But it’s still just One Word. There are dozens of other words signifying states of mind  which might lead us to Love: like joy, or appreciation, or creativity, or truth or gratitude, or freedom, or even anger, but still that single, ancient, honourable word endures.

And now I’ve come to think of this as utter linguistic, cultural, spiritual and epistemological  genius. Because of its multi-layered, multi-faceted nature it is the ultimate “all things to all men” notion.

We can each choose individually how broad its scope is for us. We can confine our best love for our beloved, our family and at a pinch our closest friends; or we can surrender our egos to universal loving compassion in the style of Buddhist monks.

We can recognise the emotions of Love and we can also consider the values of it too. We can be human about it, or we can touch the Divine through it. It is basically the quickest and most effective vehicle to get us wherever we want to go.

So whatever definition of Love rings true for you, get curious. Are you defending it with all your might? Are you dismissing it? Taking it for granted? Are you living it fully and intentionally, to whatever level you choose? Or are you cheating yourself?

It’s One Word. But we make of it what we will.

 

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October 21, 2018 · 5:37 pm

What outcomes are you attracting?

Today was the day my Mum was scheduled to have complex spinal surgery. My plan was to drive the 159 miles to be with her. So at 9am I began packing the car and getting ready to leave. I then received a phone call from my brother asking me where I was.
“I’m still at home” I replied.
“Good,” he said. “Stay there. They’ve just cancelled the op.”
Over the course of the ensuing ten minutes I came to understand that the surgeon called a halt to the proceedings because the operating theatre had the wrong table in it.
I began to feel angry and sad, and confused. I heard the tears in Mum’s voice. She’d been terrified of this procedure, and to have it denied her in the eleventh hour was piling on the agony. She was even gowned up and had a line drawn on the skin of her back to mark the incision point.
Yet the surgeon refused to proceed with the wrong table in theatre. He explained that he was not prepared to risk it as he has to work within a tenth of a millimetere from a nerve that if damaged would result in paralysis.
In a quiet moment of reflection after I put down the phone I realised that everything is working out perfectly.
Through this aborted process Mum got to see how much care and attention was being paid to her.
For example, there were 6 people on the team for her op – plus the lead surgeon – and including one guy who’d driven 189 miles to be there. Mum was the only one on today’s roster. All these people had gathered just for her.
 And the fact that the surgeon was prepared to send everyone home and cancel the op rather than run the risk ought to offer Mum a good deal of reassurance about his conscientiousness and duty of care.
I then realised something quite bizarre:  that between us Mum and I managed to attract the cancellation. Through her fear and my resistance to her fear together we have conspired to co-create the eventuality of this operation not going ahead.
In other words, while she was harbouring mortal fears about the procedure, I was pressing for optimism, healing and mobility. We were pulling in opposite directions, and in the process managed to cancel out the op.
I am blown away. I am so grateful for this lesson. And I am also appreciating that Mum and I have another chance to prepare for this operation with less fear and resistance, and more trust and confidence.
Everything is working out perfectly.
In the light of this my reflections are that journaling can be a very powerful magnet for our lived experience. However we express ourselves in writing can play a part in how we shape our lives.
So if we frequently use our journals to rant words of anger and bitterness, then we reinforce angry and bitter experiences in our reality.
If we use our journals to write our appreciations and love letters, then we enhance our reality with loving and appreciative experiences.
In fact, whether we write it or not, our lived experience will be affected by how we feel.
And it’s important to know that there isn’t always a counterweight (my resistance to Mum’s fear) to neutralise our fear, anger or bitterness. Sometimes we create our own momentum, and whether it’s good or bad, positive or negative, the more we feel it, the more we attract it.
Pay attention to the outcomes you are attracting. And use your journal as a tool to reinforce the feelings that will create the outcomes you desire, rather than perpetuate those you don’t.

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Filed under Journal Writing, Law of Attraction

Weather – or not?

Here in the UK the country’s population is breathing a collective sigh of relief at the sight, for the second day running, of the sunshine. We might even be daring to imagine that spring is finally here.

It’s been a long, cold winter, on the back of last year’s long wet spring, summer and autumn. We Brits are struggling.

Personally I’ve noticed a much lower mood, and a craving for all sorts of food I really ought to avoid. Comfort eating, someone called it when I mentioned it to some friends yesterday, and we all nodded in earnest agreement. Seasonal Affective Disorder has been long recognised as a medically diagnosed ailment. Rarely before has it been possible to perceive some of the symptoms in the entire population. I’ve even been wondering whether the travel companies have inflated their prices to cash in on Brits desperate to get to the sunshine whatever the cost.

Don’t get me wrong. We Brits love talking about our awful weather. As much as we say it’s awful, we really love it because of the opportunities it affords us to complain. And complaining is one of the primary ways that We Brits engage with one another. In fact a few years ago I read a book by a social anthropologist named Kate someone who asserted that in order to be socially acceptable We Brits are obliged to agree with one another’s weather-based exchanges and observations. Even if the sun is shining gloriously, if someone says to a Brit “there’s a chilly wind though isn’t there?” We are honour-bound to agree. Woe betide anyone to dispute at this juncture the chilly wind in favour of the glorious sunshine. You couldn’t possibly say “Actually I hadn’t noticed the wind – I was too busy enjoying the sunshine.” You’d be ostracised.

But despite all this I think our relationship with the weather has gone a step too far this past 12 months. We’ve moved on from despising the weather just for the sake of social engagement, and have been stuck with weather so despicable that we’ve partially abandoned interaction altogether.

And now the sun’s out and, as one of my recent journaling workshop participants pointed out, we can finally see shadows. It’s wonderful to rediscover light and shade instead of just constantly being surrounded by gloom.

So today I’ve made a special commitment to make the most of the sun, and to be grateful for every opportunity to soak it up. For there’s another thing We Brits are fond of saying when the sun shines: “There’s nowhere like this country when the weather’s nice.” Just don’t mention the chilly wind.

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Filed under Mood Management, Uncategorized

Journaling in the face of tragedy

Six days since Sandy Hook.

Throughout the week my mind has periodically reached across to Connecticut to be with the grieving families – the Mums, Dads, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends. Periodically I have felt my own tears fall at the horror of what has happened – the desolation and the unimaginable grief and pain being suffered.

But I’m daring to imagine it. To put myself in the shoes of those who have been so dreadfully affected. To reach out with my thoughts and to say “I hear you, I feel you, I am so sorry, and I promise to tread on with love and conscious awareness in memory of all those that lost their lives, especially the children , so vibrant, innocent and full of promise.”

And I’m doing this in my journal, in order to bear witness, to acknowledge the precariousness of life, its preciousness. Our journals are where we can extend our thoughts to those who are hurting; where we can name and own our own vulnerability, and pledge our intentions and commitments in the name of the victims.

Don’t talk about the end of the world this Winter Solstice. Remember that for 27 families in Newtown this has already happened. And it’s happening all over the world too. In Syria, in Palestine, in Pakistan. Every day the world ends for someone as they lose their most precious loved one to violence, war, disease or poverty. Three out of four of these killers are man-made, and are the result of people not bearing witness, not reaching out with compassion nor admitting and sharing our vulnerability and our precariousness.

This Winter Solstice let’s use our journals to apply ourselves to the particular reality of the last days, months and years of suffering that we have escaped while others haven’t.  Let’s remind ourselves what it is to be grateful, and how we must treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves. Let’s individually and collectively reflect on what we each might do. And let our shared appalled reaction spur us into making a new resolution for ourselves – to live well in our place, and to turn the horror into compassionate action for those people on our doorsteps.

The world will not come to an end this Winter Solstice. But let’s hope something does. Let’s hope it’s our tendency to sleep-walk through life without paying attention to what’s really needed, nor to the part we each can play.

RIP Sandy Hook victims.

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Filed under Current Affairs, Journal Writing