Faulty Vision

I was convinced I saw a mongoose lying on the side of the neighbour’s garden but when I approached it turned out to be a shriveled coconut shell.  There are many other ways that eyesight plays tricks.  I’m not scientific so I won’t go into boring details of how the messages to the brain become slower as aging occurs.  What I will say is that there are many times when this writer does not see at all, or sees when there is nothing to see.

Let me try to explain through a brain that is full of fog, or should I say Sahara dust (as we don’t get fog where I live in the Tropics).

I tend to be an inward judge often.  I go over in my mind the why’s, what’s and how come’s, and then come up with superior ‘should be’s’ or ‘shouldn’t be’s’, almost giving a verdict before all the facts are known.  If I could just get a little closer, see what is really there, instead of what seems to be there, and don’t assume.   Things are not what they seem.  Be more understanding and reach out … It costs nothing.

What I explained above is how I can be inwardly towards other people.  Please don’t take it personally – my brain often does not work the way I want it to.  Yet my heart … that, I seem to have more control over.  Has my heart hardened over the years or am I just being true to myself?  Is that cliche?

I get angry with me, but even that I squash.   When I was little I would pound my chest when I had hiccups that would not go away, knowing it would just make them worse but frustratingly needing to do something.  Is it time to start that again, or maybe just scream at the top of my lungs when no one is around?

I had set myself a goal to write a blog post every week but after three I have already skipped a week.  I should not feel disappointed in myself, yet I do.  That niggle of a voice inside shrieks ‘failure’, ‘to be expected’, ‘just give up now’, ‘you’re not proving anything’, but the writer’s heart says ‘Press On’, and I do.

Faulty vision?  You be the judge.

 

 

 

 

Not seeing the wood for the trees?

The elderly man that sleeps in a clearing among the trees a couple of stones throw away from our home must have an interesting life.  His name is Keith, he is tall and slim, balding, walks barefoot most of the time, yet walks with a strong upright stride, never feeling the sharp stones or prickles that may be trodden on along the way.

He has chosen to live away from relatives. out in the open instead, away from the crowds, and embrace freedom his way.  It is not a life the world would understand.  He wears ragged clothes, selects from the spoils of garbage, may not talk for days, he is his own best friend.  He gets barked at by neigbourhood dogs, talked about for leaving garbage around and ridiculed by those who do not understand his way of life.  He does a lot of walking.

He has been in the same spot for over 25 years.  Sometimes he disappears for weeks, then reappears, maybe shaven, fed and with fresh clothes.  Usually in the rainy season, but I can’t be sure.  He may hibernate then.  Or he may be sick and nobody knows.

Keith has benefited from gifts from the passing food van lady, or from residents bringing him food, and he gets water from one of the ridge top garden taps during the night.  I should not begrudge him that.  He is seen wearing many varying shirts of different colours and sizes, some newish, but many old.  Trousers in the cooler 20 degree C “winters” and shorts in the summer.

I am often convicted when I walk my dogs past his humble abode, and glance through the trees towards the clearing.  I wonder, should I be doing more?  He has only ever asked for Vicks and cokes.  Vicks is for the right eye that he does not have, but I never give him that, instead I may clean the area gently with a cotton ball and water, and put a patch over it.  I have not done that for a long time though.

Is my own vision faulty?  Do I myself act like I have just a single eye? Explaining away to myself why the Vicks would not be good for his eye and yet not inviting him in for a shower and a warm drink of Milo, or better yet, an ice cold coke?

This morning while I walked and the dogs made noise up ahead, I knew it was the ‘Keith bark’;  I found him sitting on the grass outside the entrance to his home putting on a new pair of sneakers.  They were a perfect fit, and as I studied him, I may have detected a quiet understanding between us, a whispering that he is okay, don’t worry.  Did I imagine it?  Praying not.

Walk on, with or without your shoes.

Not seeing the wood for the trees

Swimming away from fear

After viewing my spiked blog traffic last week I felt empowered, encouraged (THANK YOU ALL!), excited, edified, eccentric … Excellent! Until a few days later when the doubts began to creep in – will I be able to keep this up or will I give up, yet again?  Now that ‘all eyes’ are on TheTearstealer, will she be able to perform?  Will she get to the end of the week and freeze up, or wait till the last minute and do a botched job?

The morning in question, I rose and began baking, a stress reliever, and managed to do a banana bread loaf and 114 chocolate chip cookies by 9.30.  The baker felt better, but she was receiving little messages that, like the sugary, floury dough, she was on a timer, soon to be scorched and hopefully not burnt.

I did know what I was going to write about this week but would it come together?  Would it be ‘liked’?  I had great intentions of writing fluidly during the day, even getting a head start on the following week’s blog …  yet my writing often gets relegated.  Life gets in the way – another classic excuse to add to last week’s

My first memory of swimming lessons was a scared little red-haired girl clinging to the edge of the pool and being ignored by the swimming teacher.  I was about 5, and I made the edge of the pool my friend, easing along hand over hand without attempting to venture even a few inches away into the unknown deep.

I watch swimming lessons  with a similar age group now before my adult class begins and it is a different scene from my own early memories.  There are two teachers and two parent volunteers, mostly all in the water with the kids and no child is clinging to the edge, rather they are confident and doing their thing.

My dad was a great swimmer.  He would take my sisters and I to the beach on a Sunday and soon after we got there he would venture into the sea and use his strong steady strokes to swim far away from the shore, my young eyes searching, blinking away the sun, trying not to lose sight of him.  I often did.  Then, just like that, he would be back.  The life-giving water streaming off his face and his smile telling it all.

It was not until my fifty third year that I decided that instead of admiring other people’s swimming finesse, I would do something about mine.  I had no idea what was involved in learning swimming technique.  A dear friend told me about her recent experience starting the said lessons, and I was quick to follow her lead with great anticipation.

So, my lessons started in August last year, twice a week, half hour or 45 minutes each session.  I wish my coach had videoed me the first time I set off to show her what I could do.  My proud display consisted of head up, arms flailing to the side, legs far apart and much more.  Those first months were tough, I could not master the body rotation for anything.  My naturally stiff shoulders, head, arms and bits in between were not conducive to the way a swimmer needed to swim effectively.  The pull buoy (that thing you put between your legs to stop you from kicking)  was a nightmare.  When Coach said, ‘Alright get the Pull buoy’, I would inwardly cringe but my face would tell the story of hatred for that thing.   My body rejected it in more ways than one, and fought the rotation over and over, with legs going every which way, trying their best to be part of the swimming journey even though they were only needed to do nothing.

When I learnt one new concept, then something previously perfected would go awry, and thus began a frustrating journey of normalcy in learning to swim with perfect technique.  Why couldn’t my brain just ‘get it’.  Swimming is not for the impatient.  The no-longer little, red-haired girl was gradually getting muscle memory which would serve her well in the future, but it occasionally felt like misery memory.  Giving up was not an option, and while I did my drills looking down at the brown line of the pool that I was supposed to be directly above, my mind would often be cast far back to the days when I was that little determined Debbie, learning to play tennis, learning to ride my bike, learning to sew, learning to do shorthand at 130 words per minute  …  This swim thing seemed harder than all of the above.

Then, one day I returned to the pool after a long break for eye surgery, and something was different.  A new resolve.  I had really missed my swimming, watching many freestyle videos during that break, and I was longing to see how I would be when I returned.  Would this be IT, at last?  It was.

My coach was very pleasantly shocked to see me doing the catch, the breathing, the rotation, the reach, the finish, etc, all coming together.  It was my technique breakthrough and  I have not looked back.  Yes, I still struggle with endurance and sometimes my technique goes off, but I know I have not lost it, and, like riding a bike, I will not forget.  This courageous muscle memory freestyle swimming journey has been a blast.  Butterfly next?  I can’t wait to swim on, flying high!

Deb with swimming attire

List the excuses

I’ve never really liked making lists, preferring to let the ideas or things to do just swirl around in my head, drifting like a petal in a slow flowing stream, occasionally taken where it needs to go but often floating away, not to be seen or thought of again.

Yet this time I am going to make one, because I am good at making lists of excuses for not doing or being or saying …

This blog of mine has almost died a natural death from lack of content and shame of sharing, but I want to give it a final attempt.

Here is my list of excuses for not writing on my blog since last October :

  • Not being read so what’s the point (in my feeling sorry for myself mode)
  • Laziness
  • Got out of my routine
  • Family commitments
  • Started swimming lessons
  • Started harp lessons
  • Got into too many Netflix series
  • Joined a writing group and got bogged down by their content and ignored mine
  • Comparison leading to giving up
  • Eating priorities,  including my nails
  • Lots of group meetings for prayer
  • Lingering over social media
  • Occasional godson school runs
  • Resting too much
  • Thinking, over-thinking, thinking again
  • There are others but the petals have floated away.

 

Please give it another go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wood Dove watching

I recently felt a little like the wood dove perched on the corner of the railing in the outdoor cafe, mere yards from where I was sitting.  He looked cold, wet and out of sorts.

It was a cold and very wet day and I had got the time wrong for meeting some dear friends – I had an hour to kill.  I had been getting a lot of things wrong lately, and I was not even sure if we were meeting to eat or just have coffee.  After sitting restlessly for a quarter of an hour I decide to order a quick bite that I could finish before they arrive. Lately I had been doing a lot of eating for the sake of it and not out of hunger.  Another bad decision as the sandwich was not too edible, but the wood dove benefited from my abundance of leftovers.  I consoled myself with a few squares of chocolate from my handbag which I was not about to share.

Yes, I was cold and rather empty of what I felt I should have and feel.  I was annoyed and out of sorts.  Yet I was not alone.  The dove was there by me, trying to stay warm, like me.  He did not move from the railing where he was perched, a few feet away.  He was not threatened by me when I shifted uncomfortably in my seat at least a dozen times while I waited for my friends.    In that time frame, he was my companion, indulging me, my indifference and out of sorts-‘ness’.  He understood what I could not even put into words.  A silent understanding.  And it was enough.

When my friends arrived they got me to laugh and I got them to pray for me.  And all was well.

When I looked for the dove as I was leaving the cafe, he was gone.

 

wood dove 2

 

 

Back Progress, Fair

I’m being asked regularly how I am, ‘How are you, really?’  And I answer truthfully, ‘It’s coming’, because it is.  My back is coming on well.  Movement is returning gradually, and the more I keep myself moving the better it gets.  It seems to object when I decide to lie down and rest during the day, but at night it recognises the need for rest, and lets me be.

My breathing technique is improving and when my body reacts with the odd spasm or pain when moving a certain way I remember to breathe, and respond positively, rather than clamping up and thinking, ‘Here it goes again!’ Each little step forward is a triumph, and even though it doesn’t look like much to observers, it is huge for me.

I have been thoroughly enjoying my swimming pool.  It is the most relaxing place to be, especially at sunset.  I wonder if I would really be using it this much if I did not have a muscular issue.  It does help that the weather has been so hot that the pool is warm and inviting.  I am hopeful I will still have this enthusiasm for swimming when it comes to the ‘winter’ months and the water temperature decreases dramatically!

I took my little godson to the school fair last Saturday.  I resolved before I went that I would let him do whatever he wanted and not control his afternoon.  He chose to go on no rides or jumping tents, but got lots of lucky dips, bought some old grubby toys, and played the few games over and over again – tic, tac, toe, throwing the ball through the holes, fishing for bottle caps … And he did well.

Bless all the volunteers and teachers who worked so hard in the intense heat to make it a huge success.   When nothing more could fit inside my 5 year old charge’s  backpack, and the weight was starting to tire him, he said, ‘Let’s go, Aunty Debbie, it is hot and my backpack is full’.  Perfect wisdom from a precious 5 year old!

Remember to Breathe

I have learned to breathe! Breathing that works for me and gets me through the pain. Yay!!

Yes!  There has been improvement in my back pain.  I was told by my beloved Pilates instructor to ‘practice breathing so that it becomes second nature’.   But why do I need to be so aware of my breathing when it is meant to be the most natural thing in the world?

When we are busy, stressed, in pain, concentrating on a particular important thing other than breathing, we tend to tense up and subconsciously choose many different ways of breathing that are not always good for us.  For me, when I am in pain, or trying to avoid pain, which has been the case this last month or so, the last thing I am thinking about is to breathe, and breathe ‘properly’.  It just happens, right? At least it’s something you don’t have to focus on, worry about, with everything else going on! Except it is …

For me, when I tense up I stop breathing, even hold my breath, and that is when things go haywire internally, when the work starts, to get by in the next moments, protecting that painful sensation and doing my utmost to make it stop.  What I was doing, before I was enlightened, was the opposite of what I should have been doing.  To breathe.  Every day activities can cause a tensing up, for no particular reason, like speaking on the phone, and breathing through them is helpful.

I now am aware, so much more, about my breathing, and I have discovered that I do have to practice at it.  Breathing in deeply for a few seconds and out for a few seconds, so that the air reaches more parts of my body that count, and I am not just breathing to survive.

I remember an exercise in relaxation when I was about 10, lying down in the school hall, and the teacher coming round and lifting our arms  and we were supposed to let them drop naturally.  I was one of the ones who rigidly dropped my arm, concentrating, over-thinking, rather than just abandoning it to gravity.  And I remember watching as many of the others let their arms go and how their joints did their own thing, folding easily one way or the other as they fell without any fear with a flop to the floor.  And I thought, maybe I can be like that one day.  One day is now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God read my blog

He must have read yesterday’s blog and wants me to know that he is listening.

After a bad night’s sleep I went to Pilates in the morning and did a lot of stretching and practiced my breathing technique.  Something as simple as proper breathing can make a huge difference.  The tense way I have been moving around as self protection from pain can have the opposite intended effect.  I am now trying to be more ‘daring’ with my every day movements, and using the breathing .

Thank you, dear Father, for giving me the encouragement I need to keep going more positively, and for the ease I am feeling in my joints.  And thank you for reading my blog!

 

 

 

Two Contrasting Pains – One Prayer Answered

pain-and-joy-1

I am in pain.  I have had lower left back pain for the last 4 weeks or so, and it has been gradually getting worse.  I cannot explain how it started. It was not a fall or an accident of any kind.  It could have been triggered by pulling a suitcase down from a high cupboard, but who knows?  It does not hurt when I am walking around.  It hurts when I get out of bed, getting in and out of the car, and is worse when I have been inactive.  Easy motions like bending down to tie shoe laces or drying the bottom half of my body after a shower is a long, drawn out task. Spasms come and go.  What have I done about it?  Physiotherapy, heat therapy, exercises in and out of the pool, Pilates, massage and most recent Osteopathy.  So far no ongoing relief.  Next step is acupuncture. My best friend describes it as ‘Dry Rot’.  I continue to pray for everything to get back to normal, for the pain to go.

I am in pain. My waters have not broken but the pain is intense. I am in hospital being induced at 9 months 2 weeks, and although I was told that second labours are supposed to be easier, it is NOT looking that way. The pain comes often, and the breathing is my only source of comfort. A minute seems like much longer. My husband is standing by anxiously, helplessly, with each contraction getting stronger.  When the doctor comes to break my waters, even worse pain, if that is possible. Stomach and back pain at its best. Yet there is a light at the end of a tunnel. I will have my baby soon. It will all be worth it, and I will forget this pain.  And yes, my prayer for a beautiful, healthy baby was answered.

 

#Write 31 days series

 

 

 

Introduction

I am a Barbadian national, without an accent, married 26 years to a fantastic funny British guy, and I have an amazing son and daughter, 2 cats and 2 dogs.  I have been a secretary when shorthand and typewriting were the norm, a hotelier when telexes, faxes and phone calls were the main form of communication, a house manager, and I’m  a homemaker and a writer.  I write many notes (and hardly ever go back and read them!), letters, poems and I like to journal.  I love chocolate, family and swimming.  I came to know Jesus personally in a dramatic encounter when I was suffering from Post Natal Depression, and I have a deep compassion for people who struggle with any form of depression.

I have talked about this for so long, to write about testimonies of answered prayers, and put it into book form.  As a mom of grown children, I have been involved in many school prayer groups over the years, as well as my own church prayer group, and a beautiful ‘dolphin pod’ of women.  So many prayers have gone up, and I’d like to share the outcome of some of mine.  I pray that you will find what you read to be encouraging and helpful in your own journey, as I do when I hear testimonies about what God has done in situations, many seemingly hopeless, and how he comes through far above what is expected or hoped.

This is the introduction for my #write 31 days series where I will be writing for 31 days in October on the topic Testimonies Answered Prayers

http://write31days.com/