2014: A year of lessons and gratitude.

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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.

Dawn
xx

I’m grateful for amazing friends.

I don’t know what I did to deserve them; my best friends in the world are just the most wonderful, solid people, from whom I have learnt, and continue to learn, much about love, life, loyalty, survival, friendship, beauty, courage and wisdom. Thank you, Universe/Life, for my BFFs, one of the foundation stones of my life, without whom life would mean much less.

I recently wrote this for one of my best friends (you know who you are!), who has allowed me to put it up here:

You are shiny pastel powder-coated steel
from the forges (fuelled by broken love and wings)
that turn to ash the petty weaknesses and peel
back the gauzy childhood layers to reveal
rare liquid diamond crazy-angel heart-strings.

Yet Life glazed you with a heart upon your sleeve
and set you on such winding, wondrous paths
which you tread with an ancient grace and ease–
and yours was such a complicated weave!–
with no bitterness or helplessness or wrath.

Old soul, you bring a light into the lives you touch;
generous of spirit to a fault, and gentler
than those spoilt by more, beaten by less– such
defines your unshakeable core. You give so much
love, time, and trust; you own the things that matter.

I’m grateful for poetry.

Or, at least, what I think poetry is! I had intended to write and complete several poems to join in on England’s National Poetry Day today, but I’m only happy with one of them. 🙂 Perfectionism really is the enemy of Getting Things Done, eh?

I will walk away
I will walk
Slowly, don’t look back
But don’t look back
Again
And forget how our
Worlds collided
For one crowded hour
That felt like bliss
Like a star-crossed second
Like this:
Like foreheads touching
Lips glance lips and
Hands twirl hair
Smell of crushed grass
Sweet musk scent,
Your neck, soft thin skin
Pink, pale, smooth like
Powder, like feathers…
Tissues. Like tissues.
Then you turned away.
You’re fragile, I know,
Like crystal, water-glass.
So I will walk away,
Trailing feathers…
And not look back.
Again.

I’m grateful for random acts of kindness.

I’m pretty sure I’ve already done an entry on random acts of kindness, but I really had to share this. I burst into tears at one point (you’ll see!), I was so moved.

I know I’ve let this blog lag a little, but it’s not because I haven’t been actively being grateful for all the little and big things in my life, because I really have been. It’s just that some days I’m grateful for things I’ve already written about.

When you are as naturally nomadic as I am, random acts of kindness mean so much more because very often, they’ll be carried out by strangers, or by people I’d barely met, by people who haven’t been a part of my journey for very long; and because in new places, life often starts out as a whole series of random acts of kindness. All of that makes these kindnesses so much more precious. Each time, they reinforce my deep, practically delusional, optimistic instinct to believe in the best in people, not just because it gives people the chance to show you their best selves, but also because it makes my own world a much more hopeful one, filled with possibility, connection, love and new beginnings.

I’m grateful for my path.

I love being at this point in life.

It’s when you have enough strength to bear your sensitivity, to wear your personality, to choose your feelings and responses, to walk away from situations that do not suit you, to say “no”, to say “yes”, to say “if you don’t like me, you can leave”.

It’s when you have enough exposure to visit a new city and walk confidently, to start a new job and walk tall.

It’s when you feel so peaceable and whole, you no longer have the craving to shop and buy new things to fill a hole, or to escape into a television series.

It’s when you are so good at enjoying your own company that you can love your friends and family much better because you no longer need them to tell you who you are and what you’re worth.

It’s when you are experienced enough to make a decision that is good for YOU without needing everyone else to approve it, or feeling like you must justify it.

It’s when you are solid enough to look disapproval, judgement and rejection in the face and hold on to everything, giving away none of your sense of self-worth.

It’s when you are secure and stable enough to see someone clearly and love them anyway.

It does not make you invincible. It does not stop the tears. It does not give you any more control over what happens to you in life. But it gives you a moment of reprieve; a moment of mercy, kindness, grace.

This was earned. That’s why it’s precious. And I’m grateful I was given this journey, this path, and no other.

Dedicated vets.

I have a little dog that I love dearly. She is my first and only dog, and she has the most beautiful personality of any creature I know in the world. It is very difficult to watch your dog suffer when it’s ill, because you can’t ask it what’s wrong, where does it hurt, do you feel nauseous? Things you can ask a human. It’s like having a very intelligent eternal baby. I applaud vets who dedicate their careers, lives and time to the well-being of our sweet furkids, our dear companion creatures– whether they be dogs, horses, cats or whichever other animal that can show affection and be loyal and that allow us to be our best selves and to love. I’m deeply grateful to sincere, warm and dedicated vets.

Visits from friends from home.

Anyone who has lived overseas for any long period will know how warm and fuzzy receiving visitors from home can be, especially when they’re close friends. If you love where you’re living, you get to make memories in your beloved new city with people you love, and if you don’t, well, they’re a lifeline, a top-up of the emotional tank, a dose of warmth and love.

I’m always grateful for visits from good friends I love, wherever I have been or am in the world.