2014: A year of lessons and gratitude.


What I learnt in 2014:

  • Every person is a process, which means that every relationship is a process. We are changing all the time, our dynamics are changing all the time. Every cell in our body is changing in every second, and in every few years, we are literally, physically a different human being.
  • Change is natural. It is the most natural, most certain truth on earth, and of the deal of being alive on earth.
  • If you resist change or hanker after the past, it will only turn you bitter, frustrated, resentful, cynical and angry. You will surrender any power to change; you won’t stop growing, but you’ll be dragged into growth in whatever haphazard, reactive way.
  • The only thing that belongs in the present… is the present. The past and the future don’t belong in the present; they must be dragged, like wraiths out of time, ghosts out of their dimension. That’s why they grate against the present, against us, and cause depression or anxiety or bitterness– because they do not belong here.
  • Very few situations are ever all good or all bad. In fact, situations just are; they’re neutral. We give them meaning and value. And that meaning and value changes over time, our perceptions of those situations change over time, because we change over time. But what we will remember the most, what will never leave us is how we felt at the time. I am suddenly reminded of those lyrics, “In the end we will only just remember how it feels.” Which brings me to…
  • We decide in each moment how to feel and what to think of something. That is an ideal situation, of course, but with patience, mindfulness and time, we learn that skill– the skill of being present and claiming any agency we might have in a situation.
  • Mental illness, like depression (or bipolar, or chronic anxiety, etc.) strips us of this agency, of balanced perception, of choice in how we view the world; it takes over like a huge black cloud and blackened windows, pours tar into your chest and squeezes your ribs and heart and mind and soul shut with blackened twine. It is the biggest waster of human energy and talent on earth; it steals from both rich and poor the ability to feel positive emotions, to act, to care, to feel anything at all.
  • Every story has more than one side. Woe be the person who only listens to one. And bad journalism.
  • A sense of wonder, an ability to be excited, amused and amazed, are conscious choices, and they must sometimes be consciously fought for; sometimes one must even decide if one is willing to face the consequences of choosing to retain these things. In the same way, it is a choice to take the responsibility and consequences of remaining authentic, vulnerable, and loving.
  • Those of us who have the space, access and luxury of knowing or discovering what it is we love best to do, to do it, to live well, and not to be persecuted for it, are the luckiest of all. I hope we all discover for what we are put here, the courage to do it and keep at it, and the luck to be appreciated for it.

Congratulations on what you have all built and survived in 2014, happy new year, and may 2015 be all you hope it will be.


Many more chances.

Wow, I’ve really let this one lapse, haven’t I? *sheepish look* Thank goodness I didn’t start the 100 Days of Gratitude (#100daysofgratitude) when I was tempted to. So, life got a little hectic, as life does. Nothing major, just lots of little bits and medium-sized things.

So I shall strive for one post a week, to be realistic. Here’s to a chance to pick that up again.

I was thinking about chances, about second, third chances. About this line from (of all things in the whole world!) Neighbours or Home and Away– one of those shows no one ever publicly admits to watching at some point in their lives: “That’s the thing about life. The more you screw up, the more chances it gives you to get it right.”

Or something like that. It’s been more than a decade now. I can’t even Google it to verify it, and I can find pretty much anything online if you give me a day, a large pot of tea and a piece of cake. I’m like a tea-fuelled gopher.

I’m grateful for chances to get it right, and every single person who has played some part in giving me those chances.

I’m grateful for questions…

… for the search for the right questions is the first important task, or we’d never get to the best answers for ourselves. I owe two entries! But I don’t want to miss out on the grand finale fun so, I’ll have to write two then. NaPoWriMo to the rescue again (I know these are a little dated, but I’m having fun with them):

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is a little something I’m calling “Twenty Questions.” The idea is to write a poem in which every sentence, except for the last one, is in the form of a question. That’s it! It can be as long or short as you like. The questions can be deep and philosophical (‘what is the meaning of life?’) or routine and practical (‘are you going to eat that?’). Or both!

Have you ever wondered if you were really capable of love?
Are we simply born with different sized hearts?
Why did we build a world where vulnerability = exploitability?
How did kindness become a weakness, and love a liability?
What happens to the tired and the broken?
How does love find the shy and soft-spoken?
Why is it that those who need love the most, starve most for it?
Why is it that those who have everything simply get more of it?
How do we know when we’re ready for anything?
But, “if you’re not ready for love, how can you be ready for life?”
For the un-twinned souls, what does tomorrow bring?
When did we split our bodies from our hearts?
When we change “too much”, at what point do we part?
Why is it so bad to want to die?
Who does the judging– the wretched left to cry?
Where is meaning found in a fleeting existence?
How did we manage to complicate this world this much?
Why do we rip fish out of the sea and stick them into walls of cans?
How do we make such elaborate things but starve of love in the dark?
It’s ironic that the thing we need most can kill us and leave no mark.

I’m grateful for different paths.

Right, now I owe three poems. So this Day Six NaPoWriMo prompt helped:

Today’s optional prompt is to write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem.

We went to the Rhine
And sat there with lunch, talking.
This was where I died.

My heart was brand-new
But my soul had been blended.
It was time to choose.

We are all dying-
What is a little haste, then,
To begin again?

I’m grateful I’m real.

I’m using the NaPoWriMo prompts either that I like or that don’t intimidate me, and this one I liked.

This is a bit silly, but it’s Saturday. I recently got a large illustrated guide to seashells. There are some pretty wild names for seashells. Today I challenge you to take a look at the list of actual seashell names below, and to use one or more of them to write a poem. You poem doesn’t have to be about seashells at all — just inspired by one or more of the names.

Peruvian Hat
Snout Otter Clam
Strawberry Top
Incised Moon
Sparse Dove
False Cup-and-Saucer
Leather Donax
Shuttlecock Volva
Striped Engina
Tricolor Niso
Triangular Nutmeg
Shoulderblade Sea Cat
Woody Canoebubble
Ghastly Miter
Heavy Bonnet
Tuberculate Emarginula
Lazarus Jewel Box
Unequal Bittersweet
Atlantic Turkey Wing

Unequal Bittersweet

All the things we have in common
Are precisely what make us real.

A heartbreak that shakes you to the bone;
Love so intense it shakes your world;
A mistake you can never fix or turn back;
A victory or three you run on and run with.
A chance you didn’t take;
A code you didn’t break;
A betrayal of yourself and your values;
Forgiveness that gives you strength.
A crisis, or two, that doesn’t break you;
A crisis or two that breaks your spirit
And all the things that no longer serve it.
Music that moves and stills your core;
Words that make you feel less alone;
Loneliness so deep it drains you dry;
People so loving they fill you up, too.
A bridge you burn so you never go back;
A friendship you end so you can move on.

Life’s an unequal bittersweet pill
Which, if we are lucky, makes us juicy and real.

I’m grateful for the dark.

Why do leaps of faith have to happen in the dark?
When the best-laid plans go up in smoke, it leaves a mark;
Yet life expects that from this wrenching mess,
We wrench ourselves and trust it all again
Ford the uncertainty, the doubt, the terror of the pain
Of repeated failure, of not knowing one’s way,
And the lost illusion of control, of some say
In the biggest parts and paths of our lives.
Yet, we can be so clueless about what we need
And lose ourselves fixating on the sun. We strive
In our wax wings, and we fall, we drown, we bleed.
It’s in darkness that our arrogance is blind,
Our egos groping, helpless, defeated, maligned;
It’s when we are sure that all is lost, destroyed and burnt
That we find we are the perfect sum of lessons learned.

I’m grateful for water.

Oops. I owe a poem; I seem to have a day missing. Hehe and I find the Day Twelve NaPoWriMo prompt amusing:

Today’s (optional) prompt is a “replacement” poem. Pick a common noun for a physical thing, for example, “desk” or “hat” or “bear,” and then pick one for something intangible, like “love” or “memories” or “aspiration.” Then Google your tangible noun, and find some sentences using it. Now, replace that tangible noun in those sentences with your intangible noun, and use those sentences to create (or inspire) a poem.


Life is a chemical compound with the chemical formula H2O.

A life molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms

that are connected by covalent bonds.

Life is a liquid at standard ambient temperature and pressure,

but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state, steam.