The light of a Soul

URGH!!!!!

There are times in my life that I regret. Magnificent moments of utter catastrophe. Moments you  hide even from the closest of close friends. Moments that not even copious amounts of alcohol can prize from your soul. They are the moments that people judge you for – whether they have a right to or not. Regardless of how far you have come. Where you are now. What you have achieved. Moments of black that mar your soul and shape your destiny. Moments where you are so far from Grace and Faith and Hope that nothing makes sense. Nothing matters. Except stillness. And dark solace. And no more pain.

Those moments I can deal with. I am good at moments like that. There have been rather a few. So I know how to process. The decisions that lead to an event and an event so huge it carries visible and emotive consequence. I am very good at consequences.

But what about the small moments? The little ones where you harm another without intention? The moments when you make another doubt who they are. Or perhaps even what they are. Not with any kind of maliciousness. Not with any kind of wish to harm. But harmful none the less.

I don’t have many close, call in an emergency type friends. Friends that, at your lowest point – the point when your damnation of yourself is absolute – they still find the grace of your soul beautiful. Friends like that. The ones that God sends. I have been luckier than most I guess. Over the years, God has blessed me with a few. Perhaps because he knew I would need them more than most.

I do have many, many acquaintances. People who are fun. People who fill the grey of a rather mundane and introverted life with light and colour and balance and joy. They are ‘acquaintances’ merely in the distinction of the 2 words. They add immense value to my life. And I would hope that I add immense value to theirs.

Sometimes though, the acquaintance crosses over into the friend. They bring an intrinsic value to my life that belongs only to them. Sometimes, Faith brings them. Sometimes, work. Sometimes, worlds just collide and the light in one sees the light in another. And the light makes sense. The light of a similar soul. A similar Grace. A similar Faith. The light in one soul, understands the light in another. That is how I see real friendship. The light in one soul, finding, understanding and accepting the light of another soul.

Except this time, because of stupidity. Or naivety. Or just some complete assholic batshit craziness on my part – someone ended up getting hurt. Those moments – I don’t always know how to process those moments.

So generally – I write. Because in anonymous words I can find the ways to say sorry that I cannot always find in person.

Without intent. Without malice. Without wanting to. The massive amounts of stupid that I carry around in my soul reared it’s head and bingo bongo – shitstorm.

I hurt someone I really didn’t want to hurt the other day. Someone kind, and gentle. Someone gracious. And Grace filled. Someone that is already filled with hurt. The hurt of others, the hurt that others leave behind – but also the hurt we inflict on ourselves. I understand that kind of light.

Over the years, I have a learnt that Grace sometimes leads us to places we don’t always understand. But we still have choice. I got a bit lost in the stupidity of choice. And I made the wrong choice.

I will not chose wrong again. And I won’t let you chose wrong, with me, again either.

I am so sorry.

I will not hurt you again.

I promise.

The Loudest Introvert

The most profound thing profoundly smacked me right in the centrals the other day.

Rewind a bit first.

I am the life and soul at work. I am friendly and gregarious and open and trusting and kind and like to bribe people and especially like to feed people and most especially like to spread my knowledge around. Good things up the freaking ying yang. Happy things up the Christmas Tree. Blah blah blah.

I am funny as pork. Seriously. Ask anyone.

And because of all those things – people assume they know me. Worse yet, I assumed people knew me better than I knew me.

Obviously you are extroverted Jessie. Obviously you are all the things extroverted people are. OBVIOUS!!!

*insert mandatory Lunch Bar advert here and give away my age*

Except No.

I get to work rather early. I do allot of the very many things that my job entails while the office is quiet and calm and before all the peeps arrive.

And then I get to be me. The me who is friendly and the life and soul and smart and helpful and fast and considerate and and and blah blah blah up the freaking banana loaf.

IT IS EXHAUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I go home, I would really rather not see anything human. Quite often, I absolutely need to have a nap. I never do, because that is just sad and I am not that old, but still. The eyelids betray me.

I spend time with the fluffs and I cook and faff and watch rubbish on YouTube and then I Netflix and Chill.

Alone.

Because point in fact peepers. I am not an extrovert. I am an introvert.

You may think you know me better than I know me. But actually. You are wrong.

Funny thing about being exactly who you are and rejecting all the labels people think they are allowed to stick to you.

And yes, on one memorable occasion someone actually stuck a green sticky note to me with a single word on it.

Eccentric.

Well I raise you your sticky note and hereby embrace the eccentric.

I am loud as bananas. I have friends that seriously struggle with it.

I am sarcastic as all holy hell. I know people who simply take offence.

I am smarter than most people I know. I know that sounds vain but that doesn’t make it untrue, in my own way.

I am kinder, freer, more honest, more loyal, nicer, lovelier, truer, and funnier than so many people. Not better than. Just more me than. And that is awesome.

Labels can do so very much damage to you, if you let them stick.

Never let another persons sticky note for you stick.

Find your own labels. Find your own self. Be the loudest introvert that anyone ever met. Then go home and revel in the restorative quiet.

Be the most sarcastic empath, the smartest doffle, the loveliest chubber, the funniest kind. The least religious faithful one.

Be you.

Own your shiz.

Your shiz is fabulous.

Now bugger off and let me try to NOT have a nap.

*insert another gratuitous Lunch Bar advert just cause it brought back so very many memories and I loved it growing up*

See you later, my friend.

Every now and again, you meet a person that makes absolute and fundamental sense to your soul.

Gender, race, age, appearance – none of it matters. Somehow, in this big universe, you just click.

Attached to the house I currently live in, is a separate rental granny flat. For too short of a time, my friend Laurence stayed there. I met him the day he moved in, and last saw him about 4 months ago, the day he moved out.

Unfortunately, because of work, Laurence couldn’t stay. He tried. He worked the longest hours I have ever seen anyone work, trying his level best to support his family.

But eventually, the long hours took their toll, and Laurence went back to Villiersdorp.

Such was our connection that we stayed in touch. He had the absolute best sense of humour. I have never come across the like. We chatted via WhatsApp and I started making a few plans to visit him and his wife.

This was our conversation on Wednesday 17 January 2018.

On Saturday 20 January, Laurence with the easy laugh and massive smile and the best love I have ever seen for another, hung himself.

I found out about his death on the Sunday. But only yesterday did his wife Ruth tell me what happened.

I simply cannot fathom it. Not for one moment. My brain refuses to comprehend that this man of integrity and love and light, hung himself.

That he found himself in such a state of despair, that in a mad moment of sadness, he thought he needed to end his existence.

Pain is a funny old thing. Physical or mental. It creeps into your bones and turns them into lead. It saturates your existence like a feather light armour you don’t even know you are wearing.

It sets in by degrees. And slowly leaches the light and the life from your eyes.

Laurence was a legend. He moved into the granny flat next door and, just because I had the privilege of knowing him, he made my world a better place.

He was honest and real and genuine and true.

He worked hard and he adored his family.

He touched my soul.

Unfortunately, because of something I don’t know or understand, Laurence couldn’t stay.

I will miss you. The you I knew but also the you I never had the chance to know.

Thank you for making my life better, just for being in it.

I know your light is shining bright, there where you are. I hope it is surrounded by all the things you have loved, that passed before.

See you later, my friend.

The Story of Me

I have a nasty habit. A destructive, cruel and mean streak that flays skin.

That damages the soul.

A habit that finds the weak spaces and places and, like molten lava on bare land, burns chaos into being.

I hold myself up to the blinding light of what I think I should be, must be, have to be, and am meant to be – for others.

Never for myself. Never valuing me. Who I am – above who others think I am.

I guess that the very act of acknowledging the glitch in the process is the first step to healing?

The story you have for me, is not the story I have for me.

And my story of me is what is important.

A friend named Tess

I have a friend. 

She has multiple sclerosis. 

Her name is Tess. 

She tagged me in one of those Facebook picture quotes today. Me specifically. Like I was something special. Or had done something special. 


She sees herself as broken. And as an elephant apparently. Cause I am sure as hell the tiny doggo.

The thing is though Tessie… Sometimes, there is no lesson to be learnt.

Because you are the lesson.

The lesson in humility, when asking for help and saying thank you is a gift you give to the people who love you.

In Grace, under so much overwhelming fatigue.

In knowledge, because your prison will never hold you back from your truth.

In laughter, because finding joy in the tiniest places, is an ability not many embrace. 

In strength, because what you carry, would crush me.

In steel, because every day – you get up. No matter. You get up.

In hope, because even on the worst days, I have seen you laugh my Tessie.

I have seen very few of your worst days. But I have seen some. That you manage to find a way back to Light, from those dark places?

I have a friend.

She has multiple sclerosis.

Her name is Tess.

I visit her as close as dammit to every Tuesday.

Not because she has multiple sclerosis.

Not because I have to.

But because I need to. 

She, and her Knight of Shining armor, are as surely my family as any blood I share with anyone.

She is where I look, when my Hope is hidden.

She is my lesson.

Sometimes

Everyone gets sad sometimes. When we think about the things we have lost. The things that have lost us.

But mostly I think we get sad when we focus too intently on the things that we never had.

Today is a one of those days, for someone I know. Someone laid low and immobile by life, and by circumstance.

A day of reflecting on the whoever’s that left, the whoever’s that stayed, and the whoever’s that never were.

Perhaps a day spent reflecting on the things that we just, quite simply, can never get right. No matter how hard our brain tries.

A day of ache’s and a pain that is constant. Powerless to stop. Right now anyway.

A day wondering about the losses we still feel so very keenly. And the injustices. And forgiveness.

A day of feeling wholeheartedly sorry for ourselves. Just because we do. It is length of time that becomes an actual problem.

Pain is not less because another suffers more.

Pain is pain.

Sadness is sadness.

Sometimes the weight of unshed tears is heavy. Unbearable. Like concrete.

Except think on this, for one moment.

A quote from my current favourite author –

“…there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind – graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.

And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realized that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last – and yet will remain with you for life.

Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.

Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”

This pain, right now and in your face, is fleeting. This sadness. This sorrow and difficulty.

Soon  – Grace will return to it’s full light. To shine on the things that we do right. On the souls that occupy our heart. That should occupy our heart. The ones that have earned places.

On the gains, instead of the losses.

Hang on. Just for one moment more. Wait for Grace. It is always there, it never really leaves, I promise. It is just hidden, by ourselves sometimes. So wait till you see it again.

For the clouds in your head to clear a bit.

Hang on.

Quote is from The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

I will wait.

I am not quite sure why, but today I thought about death. About suddenly passing on, with no goodbyes. No final curtains. No warning.

I thought about what would be left. What is still unsaid. What will maybe never be said. I wondered if people would say good things about me? Or if it would barely register?

I thought about the things I love. And the things that love me.

The things that I carry. And the things that carry me.

And I thought I would write this. So that it is forever. It is not meant to be a eulogy. Maybe one day. But not right at this moment.

To anyone that reads this. To whoever needs this. To whoever.

Please take care of the things I love. The places and people that have been important. Love the creatures that have kept me warm. The beings that comfort and give me life.

Please care for the things I leave behind. The little things, that matter to no one but me. The shared moments that form over a lifetime.

Please be kind to yourself. In the going about of your life. I have been so hard on who I am, that sometimes I have forgotten to be who I am. Never make that mistake.

Please believe that you are stronger than you thought. No one survives this world with their perfection intact. That does not make you any less perfect.

Please believe that someone, somewhere, loves you. Here or not. Aware or not. Alive or not. Someone, something loves you. Gives you Grace. Hopes for your Grace.

Please remember to breathe. And enjoy the things that really matter. For too long, I missed the little things. The fluffy things. The hopeful things. The pure joy of the breath. Don’t let a moment pass without finding a joy in those little things. In the breath of life. The breath of a friend. The breath of hope.

I have always loved you.

If you ever doubted it, I miss you.

If you ever thought you needed it, I forgive you.

I hope you forgive me.

Please believe that I wait. We all do. When that time comes.

I will wait. For all the things that I love. And all the things that I have ever loved.

I will wait.

Things I learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

I have been sick again. No biggie. Except it always is. This time though – I stayed off the cortisone. YAYAYAYAYAYAYA….

Sorry. Got a bit excited there for a minute.

What with the sick and all, and it takes me forever and a day just to have clear lungs again, and the spending allot of time indoors so you don’t breathe cold air and what what…. A very odd thing happened to me.

I missed going to the gym. I missed the challenge. The comradery. The giggling like a spastic tonsil. The sense of getting stuff DONE.

I will probably only be able to go back in a few days because I am gifting myself a few days to get completely better. But to help me get through this odd sensation of missing a thing that actually causes me to walk funny, here are a few things I have learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

  • Stairs were probably invented just so that your trainer can torture you.
  • Every day is leg day
  • Not all stairs are equal.
  • Badly done burpies are still better than no burpies at all.
  • Skipping like a deranged monkey with one leg is better than not skipping at all.
  • It takes 8 gym days for your brain to actually figure out the whole skipping thing. At approximately 06h07 on the morning of the 8th day, you will be skipping like a graceful and rhythmic swan. In my mind anyway. If swans could actually skip that is.
  • Also on the 8th day, you will do your first proper set of assisted (feet hooked into something or someone) sit ups. None of those half crunch things here. No, no, no. Full sit up, gloves touching my mirror partner. Graceful as a dolphin. No grunting, snorting and panting here. No, no, no. Ok I lie. There are huge amounts of grunting and snorting. But you will still do them. Like a boss.
  • I am as agile and flexible as I am fit. Which is to say I move like a blob of butter in cement. But moving is what actually counts.
  • You don’t have to be good at something to love it.
  • The relative sense of accomplishment that accompanies every single ache is profound.
  • Sometimes, the instruction to move going from your brain to your thighs (I’m talking to you left thigh), is completely ignored. More than ignored. It goes to its room and sulks for a few hours. Leaving you hobbling around like a lopsided turtle singing its own theme song. And by theme song I mean curse words muttered at a level only bionic dogs can really hear….
  • Sometimes, just showing up is already a win.
  • Once you have successfully managed to collapse onto the toilet seat, your will to ever stand again leaves you.
  • Not all ow’s are equal.
    • Some ow’s are perseverance.
    • Some ow’s are accomplishment.
    • Some ow’s are strength.
    • Some ow’s are a lesson.
    • Some ow’s are sweet.
    • Some ow’s are worth the breath.
    • Some ow’s are Oorah and Hooah.
    • Some ow’s are worth the standing all skew like a retarded tree for a moment when you stand up, while things settle and other things loosen.
  • It is impossible to balance on a Pilate’s ball when you have the rhythm of a deranged dandelion in front of a fan.
  • It is even more impossible to plank on said Pilates ball when you have been cursed blessed with as much boobs as I have.
  • Lifting with your legs and not your back is all very relative until you have to try lift and push a tractor tyre down the length of training hall.
  • Shin pads don’t mean doodely if the person you are ‘fighting’ is as new to kickboxing as you are and their sense of placement is as crap as yours is. Be prepared for a sore inner leg just next to the shin pad thingy. Please notice I said ‘fighting’…. Fighting without quotes implies some kind of skill. I have only ” skill.
  • Knowing where to place and keep your feet AND boxing with the correct hand first AND thinking about where your kick is supposed to go AND being correctly defensive is FREAKING HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly this is multitasking at a whole new level.
  • Kettlebells are from the devil

Yes – I get completely and utterly physically knackered. But in that moment, my mind is silent. My mind is calm. For the first time in a long time. My mind is consumed by what I can do.

Not what I can’t do.

Sometimes going to the gym every day is kinda like the Nac Mac Feegle – all bravo and yelling and disorder and theft of livestock and tattoos but when you get right down to it…

Brave as hell.

And just as crazy.

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Breath

9 flights of stairs doesn’t sound like much right?

9 down and 9 up.

Most people fly through it. It is the 9 plus that gets them.

Me?

Today I stood at the bottom of a stairwell and listened to breath.

The panting rasp of someone with the lungs I have.

The laboured inhalation of someone with the fitness level of an overweight rock.

It used to embarrass me – the thought of someone hearing me breath heavily. The idea that I would be judged and found wanting. It is why I never did sport at school. The sound and the jiggle and the red face and the sweat. And yes, the coming last.

Children can be cruel. But sometimes, we are our own worst tormentor.

So today, I stood at the bottom of a stairwell, 40 minutes into a seriously hard gym session. A gym session full of the things I thought I couldn’t do.

I listened to breath.

And I thought –

How Blessed is that sound?

How Joyous is that sound?

How many times has that sound meant something else?

How many times has that sound been accompanied by panic, because I just couldn’t get enough breath?

How many times has that sound, slightly twisted, echoed around a hospital room – for weeks on end?

You feel free to judge me all you want.

The breath. The sweat. The red face. The jiggle. The coming last.

Until you hit a wall one day, and breath becomes a thing you actually have to think about….

The breath is what matters.

The doing.

The being.

So who gives a crap if I came last?

At least I took part.

At least I was there.

Sometimes, when breath is all you have, that is where your Hope and determination lies.

 

 

Picture found on – https://embodypilates.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/pilates-breathing/