Where the Light Lies

Hope if a funny old thing. We manage to find it in the most unique and desperate places.

It isn’t always called Hope. Sometimes we call it Faith. Sometimes it is called Surviving.

Sometimes it doesn’t really have a proper name.

In the darkness – it is simply a facet of your being.

A glimmer deep in your soul that reaches out for life. For love. For peace. For something better.

Sometimes, it is very simply, your soul searching and reaching for where the light lies.

The light of laughter on a cool evening.

The light of joy in a smiling baby.

The light of faith in an everlasting.

The light of healing in the face of illness.

The light of enduring when faced with devastation.

The light of a God, when you know you didn’t get here by yourself.

The hope that the light will find you and love you and accept you anyway. Even when you don’t love yourself.

It is always there. Even when you see only darkness.

It is there in the people around you, the ones that are light.

The ones that are hope.

Because they are there.

And they see the you that, just for a moment, you cannot.

May the light find you.

And may you find where your light lies.

 

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.

Smile

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I did 6 full sit-ups today. Doesn’t sound like allot does it? Sounds piffy and trite. 6 sit ups. Everyone else did 20. I only did 6.

Words can have so much power when you give them a chance. When you chose to phrase them a certain way. When you allow negativity to leech away your power, your self-esteem, your joy and your peace. Words can be a complete bastard sometimes. But only when you let them.

I only did 6 sit ups today. Everyone else could do 20.

Then again….

I only did 6 sit ups today, which is 6 more than I could do last week.

Everyone else did 20, and I am only 14 away from that. Everyone else has been doing this for many, many years. I have been doing this since 13 May, with a 3 week lung hiatus in between.

I have been doing this for roughly 3 months. And I can now do 6 full sit-ups.

I can do knee touching ground lunges.

I can squat like a girl trying to pee in long grass.

I can burpee. Badly – with almost no coordination. But I can burpee.

I can climb 9 flights of stairs. Slowly. With purpose and a heaving chest. But I can climb 9 flights of stairs and only stop once.

I can go to gym every single working day. And I can laugh and find joy and tease the other ladies and sweat and not care what I look like and shake like a tonsil and wound a hip and smile.

Smile as if the whole world is at peace.

Because today I am one step closer.

Closer to Fitness.

Closer to Strong.

Closer to Acceptance.

Closer to Love.

Closer to God.

Closer to Me.

Sometimes, you find the place you were meant to find. And it is filled with people that you were meant to find. Sometimes, God is very obvious.

#RedemptionFitnessCentre.

#ArranMckenzie.

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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I saw Hope today.

Today, I saw Hope.

I have already seen Grace and Faith in Town. Both of them Gifts that could so easily have been missed and overlooked.

Lost in the busy and the noise and the life that we live. Lost in the numbness of humanity.

Today was much like any other day. I got up, fed the things I love, drove the farm roads to work.

Today, I categorically did not feel like going to gym. From the moment I woke, I fought my own head.

“It’s cold.”

“It’s too early for this today.”

“I am so tired.”

“My ankle is sore.”

“My back is sore.”

“I have a sniff, people in the office are sick, I am probably well on my way to another session of cortisone / hospital.”

“I don’t want to.”

Sometimes, the thoughts in my head win. Sometimes, I fall back into bad habits and negative ideas and a uniquely twisted reality that is all mine, finely crafted from years of being way harder than I need to be on myself.

Precision honed to be cutting, demotivating, devastating and soul crushing.

There it is.

“I don’t want to.” Because what is the point? I have been doing this for a month and a half. And I have not lost 1 kilogram. Because everything is weight to me. And weight is everything to me.

“I don’t want to.” Even though I can climb a flight of stairs faster now, than I did a month and a half ago.

Even though I love it and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.

Even though every step is a journey to better. To healthier. To stronger.

I don’t want to. Because today it was just hard. Hard to be positive. Hard to be kind to myself. Hard to be motivated. Hard to be me.

Every step into the office a fight to convince myself that I am worth it. It is worth it. Get up and get going.

I am not sure why today was so hard. It just was.

Even when I was sitting taking my takkies off at Redemption Fitness Centre, my head was still at war with itself.

“You know you are probably getting sick so why bother?”

“You know you will fail in the long run, like you always do, so why not just give up?”

“You know you look especially large today and all the beautiful people are going to stare at you right?”

You get the idea.

And don’t get me wrong. None of these are formulated thoughts that run through my head. These are all just dark and oppressive snippets of thought, accompanied by the overwhelming weight of sadness and desolation.

I sat in the stillness of my heart and my mind and looked into the darkness that lives so very close to the edge of my soul, and I thought about letting it engulf me again. I thought about failing again.

Instead. I stood and looked out into the lit darkness beyond the windows. I thought about my path and who I am and where I am.

Again – none of it consciously formulated into structure. Just snippets of an idea and a feeling of light. Of potential calm. Of cleansing tears.

A moment in a moment where the dark of my soul fought the light of my soul. And I found a bit of Hope.

Hope for better. Lighter. Love. Laughter. Joy. God. Peace. Family. Strength.

Hope for me. For who I am. Who I have become.

Who I will be.

Hope. Just for me.

Sometimes God lives closer to you than you think.

Lessons at 40…

I turn 40 this month, here are 10 things that I have learnt:

  1. Tattoos are not as painful as you think they are. Except when they are. And when they are, it really is all in the mind.

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  1. Sometimes, when your body is not perfect and you struggle to accept it, you put beautiful and meaningful things on it just because they are beautiful and meaningful. And because it is still my body. And I will find a way to accept it.

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  1. Finances are freaking hard. They should teach it to you in school. Really. You are busy learning habits (good or bad) from your parents before you even have money. Then in your 20’s you start to implement those habits and then your 30’s hits you and whammo – OH CRAP central. So I decided that all is not lost. I still have a good 25 years left to fix stuff. Step one – henceforth, I shall be requesting cash donations, cash presents and cash contributions from all and sundry. Anyone?
  1. Cats are moody. Moody as hell. Except when they are not. Which is not often. More often than not, they will scope you out from a distance, evilly plotting all sorts of plotable stuff. But when they love you, there is little better than hearing a cat purr and watching them smurgle. Oh and cats on catnip. Best. Short Movie. Ever.

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  1. Dogs are love. Absolute love. If you were to ask God to personify love, He would tell you that He already has. Also loyalty, acceptance, joy and happiness

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  1. Family is not just blood. If you are lucky, they are introverts and extroverts from all over the globe and they get you. Even when they don’t.
  1. Living is not just what they tell you in the movies. Living is what you chose for yourself. As outside of the norm as it might seem to others.
  1. Accept who you are. You are not perfect. But you are perfectly you. Never let anyone tell you any different.
  1. I do not understand people. People are complex and mean and kind and honest and liars and evil and good and a pain in the ass. Animals are simple. They are what they are, within the boundaries of their species. Unless you set a human on them.
  1. Life at 40 is not over. It is not downhill. It is not the twilight of my whatever. It is much like any other year. It is learning and loving and finding and joy and acceptance.

I never followed the path society seems to dictate to us from the cradle. I never had the husband, station wagon, 2.5 children, white picket fence, and divorce. I did not fit that mold. I don’t think I ever will.

I follow my own path. It has been hard. Harder than I can maybe put into words.

I have failed so spectacularly on occasion that Hollywood could make a blockbuster movie of just the snippets. Melissa McCarthy would play me. Funny, sarcastic, deadpan as hell.

Other times I have let what others think of me interfere with who I am. Too often I put the ideas and opinions of others ahead of me. And sometimes I feel a concrete block of not being enough, like an actual weight on my shoulders, trying to press me into oblivion.

But I have learnt. I am beautiful. With beautiful things on a not so perfect body. And it is my own perfection.

I am unique. I am singular. As are you. In whichever form you chose for yourself.

The only person I need to be enough for, is me.

And I am enough.

For Paula

Almost a year ago I wrote this:

“I am glad animals don’t have souls. They have something better. Purer. Cleaner. There is no word for it I don’t think. But it is in their eyes.

I do not understand people who are intolerant of what others believe or how they live.

I do not understand people who view animals as something to be used and discarded, like last week’s rubbish.

I do not understand people.

I understand animals.

They are what they are, and they have no need to be more or less than that. They live. And they let live within the boundaries of their species.

We really should learn to do the same.”

I have added to my menagerie. It is more and bigger and truer and more precious than it ever was.

They give me joy and hope and love every day. Even old grumpy cat.

And I came to a realization, on hearing from a friend that her soul companion had crossed the rainbow bridge.

Animals, perhaps most especially dogs, reflect the truest part of all of us. Give a vicious soul a dog, and you will have a vicious dog.

Give a gentle soul a dog, and you will have the most profound connection you will ever experience in your life.

Perhaps they do not have souls because they do not need to earn the right to enter a better place. They do not need to prove themselves worthy.

And when they pass over, there is no question in my mind that they revert to the truest form of light and joy and wholeness and freedom that there is.

It does not make their passing any easier.

But they wait for us. Just out of sight. Just over the horizon. Whole and happy and at peace.

Run free Duchess. You are loved. You are adored. You are missed and you always will be. All of you are.

She waits for you Paula.

They all do. Happy and content to bide their time, till it is your time.

They wait for you. With love and patience.

I am

I got caught up in the idea that I had wasted some of my life the other day. Wasted it on not feeling good enough, not being thin enough, not being enough really.

Wasted it on doubting myself. Doubting my abilities. Doubting my inner being.

Wasted it on endlessly looking for …. Peace? Acceptance? Love?

Wasted it on people who don’t deserve time. On endeavors that I knew would harm me? Collecting stuff that ultimately adds no value?

Except, the idea occurred to me, that every single thing I have ever done, has led me to here. Every person, every fault, every word, every endeavor, every ‘thing’ I have coveted / wanted / needed, every failed relationship, every miserable moment.

Every glorious moment.

Every honorable friend.

Every smile, every laugh, every step on a very hard road.

They have all brought me to this place where I drove home from bootcamp last night singing and dancing to some silly song that I don’t even remember anymore. But I remember dancing.

Because bootcamp bitches. But more so because

Joy….

Fit….

Love for self….

Acceptance of self….

Doing the best I can, and actually doing it.

Being the best I can be, even it if it is not perfect, it being enough.

Facing life head-on. With a smile and a laugh and a joy that I have not had before.

Because I am. I am loud. I am the carrier of a bit of excess weight. I am sarcastic. I am self-conscious. I am too often lost. I am too often doubtful. I am kind. I am loving. I am honorable. I am a good friend. I am a brilliant daughter and sister. I am not alone as long as there are friends. My friends are not alone as long as I breathe. I am courageous. I am hard working. I am brave. I am too often sad. I am more often loved.

I am the best of me.

I am.

The joy of the dance

I got to thinking the other day about the music of our lives. How some songs stick with us through the years and remind us of better, or worse, times.

How the music of our parents reminds us of a war maybe, or a hardship, we did not personally live through.

How the music of our peers reminds us of a person, or a place long forgotten.

How the music that reaches down into our very substance and speaks to us can truly defines us. It is not necessarily good music, or well written. Or even popular. It is a chance meeting sometimes, lyrical beauty and depth hiding in the places you least expect to find them.

It is the songs of our innocence Pink Toothbrush by Max Bygraves. Of the times when dance and imagination and bravery and joy and solitude were the things that made us whole. When drama and performing were an option Yellow Submarine by the Beatles. Where Jeremiah was a Bullfrog by Three Dog Night was the best thing you ever heard, innocent and silly.

It is the songs of loss Amazing Grace by Celtic Woman sung at the funeral of a father you never really knew. And the song your mother used to heal herself We will meet again by Vera Lynn.

It is the songs of growing up where The Locomotion by Kyle Minogue was on everyone’s lips and we weren’t ashamed of it. Where the difference between a singing and speaking voice was endlessly debated Never gonna give you up by Rick Astley.

It is trying to find a place that accepts you, and liking what you think will find peace, and learning to love it for what it is –

Satan bites the dust by Carmen

The Champion by Carmen

It is the beginning of the formulation of your own musical identity –

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Bed Of Roses by Bon Jovi

Losing My Religion by REM

Maria by Blondie

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve

Take On Me by a-ha

Johnny Come Home by Fine Young Cannibals

“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance

The list is too long to put here…

It is to this day the memory of some of the most beautiful music you remember hearing. The kind that they rarely make anymore –

The Rose by Bette Midler

Power Of Love by Jennifer Rush

It is falling in love with the songs that tell a story –

The River by Garth Brooks

The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks

The songs you love because you have to –

Jessie by Joshua Kadison

It is my God song –

Nothing Is Written by Mumford and Sons

And it is the song you identify most with –

I Lived by OneRepublic

There will be more. Songs that remind me of people, places, times and events. Some will be joyous, some traumatic and some sad.

Songs of love, loss, joy, triumph.

The songs that resonate with my soul.